Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review of Into the Wilderness by Deborah Lee Luskin

Into the Wilderness
Author: Deborah Lee Luskin
Rated: Excellent (*****)

It’s 1964 and 64-year-old Rose Mayer is living in Florida by way of New York. Rose is now a two-time widow who’s wondering what’s next in life. Sixty-four-year-old Percy Mendell is a life-long bachelor and Vermonter who takes each day as it comes.

Rose is just getting a taste of living on her own, especially after she convinces her son and daughter-in-law to leave her alone in their Vermont summer home for the winter. It’s nice to have quiet and not be responsible for taking care of anyone but herself. Percy is still adjusting to the void his sister’s death has left in his life, and in the large house they shared. And with retirement only months away, he’s beginning to wonder what he’ll do with all his new time.

The author brings the reader right into the lives of Rose and Percy by using their points of view. The writing is tight; no words are wasted. The details match the scenery – where Florida brings about an undone button, perspiration, and well-meaning neighbors; the words on the page are few, but filled with meaning that can be rung out. New Jersey and New York are bustling with people and words, yet there’s loneliness in being single; the words are short, clipped, and written with a sense of needing to keep moving – never stopping. There’s always the next activity to do, the next point to be made. In Vermont, life is friendly and easy. The words flow across the page like color in a landscape. The author also gives the characters varied musical interests, political points of view, religious experiences, and hobbies as a way to give them something to talk about, or keep them apart, which makes the story all that more intriguing and exciting to read.

Deborah Lee Luskin has been writing about Vermont life, past and present, since relocating from New York City in 1984. Learn more at her website,

Into the Wilderness is an excellent read. The fictional tale has a nice sprinkling of historical facts woven in. Having the story take place mostly in Vermont is personally appealing to this life-long New Englander. It’s a well-told story, and I enjoyed the ‘mystery’ of wondering if it would be a happily-ever-after ending. It’s a different type of romance that is truly enjoyable.

I had an interview with the author back in February.

Title: Into the Wilderness
Author: Deborah Lee Luskin
Publisher: White River Press
ISBN: 978-1-935052-20-3
Pages: 292
Price: $18.00

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interview with crime fiction novelist Douglas Corleone

Today we get to chat with crime fiction author Douglas Corleone about his newest Kevin Corvelli book.

Douglas Corleone is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime series set in Hawaii, and published by St. Martin’s Minotaur. His debut novel One Man's Paradise won the 2009 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. A former New York City criminal defense attorney, Douglas Corleone now lives in Hawaii, where he writes full-time. Night on Fire is his second novel.

Welcome, Doug. Please tell us about your newest book.
In Night on Fire, hotshot Honolulu defense attorney Kevin Corvelli, who was first introduced to readers in One Man's Paradise, narrowly escapes a deadly fire at a popular Hawaiian beach resort, only to land the prime suspect as a client. The client, Erin Simms, is a stunning but troubled young woman charged with murdering her husband on their wedding night. Although Kevin tries to distance himself from Erin on a personal level, he feels himself being pulled in. And it may ultimately lead to his undoing. You can view the trailer for Night on Fire on YouTube.

What inspired you to write this book?
The imagery of fire is very powerful, and the crime of arson is, to me, incredibly intriguing. I wanted to explore a world I wasn’t terribly familiar with. Though as a defense attorney, I’d represented clients charged with murder, I’d never represented anyone charged with arson. So this was a first for both me and the book’s protagonist, Kevin Corvelli. I found the research fascinating, particularly the research on arson investigation. It was exciting to learn how investigators determine the fire’s point of origin, what types of materials are used as accelerants, and how they go about identifying a suspect.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The third Kevin Corvelli novel is currently in the works. In Choice of Evils, the governor of Hawaii is suspected by the FBI of hiring an international assassin known as The Pharmacist to murder his pregnant mistress. Defense attorney Kevin Corvelli is retained, not only to conduct an independent investigation, but to handle the national media and ensure that the FBI's suspicions do not interfere with the governor's bid for reelection. Meanwhile, Kevin's most loyal client, Turi Ahina, is accused of gunning down an off-duty cop on a dark street in Pearl City days after he agrees to provide the DEA information on the ruthless drug kingpin Orlando Masonet. Did Turi actually shoot and kill the cop in self-defense? To find out, Kevin must plumb the depths of police corruption and ultimately unearth some of the city's deepest, darkest, and dirtiest secrets.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer the day I stopped considering myself a lawyer. It’s difficult to pinpoint when that was, because whenever the writing wasn’t going well, I’d think more and more about returning to the practice of law. It wasn’t until last year that I finally officially retired from the law by informing the state of New York. Symbolically, that was a very important step for me. Coincidentally, the state of New York acknowledged my retirement by a letter dated April 27, 2010, the same day my debut novel One Man's Paradise was released.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full-time, 7 days a week. I try to stick to a routine: wake at 8, eat breakfast, read emails, begin writing right up until lunch. If the morning goes well, I’ll take the afternoon to do research and read. I try to end the working day by 4. Of course, if someone were to observe my day, it would probably look nothing at all like this.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’ll have a month where I turn out 60,000 words of final draft material, then follow it with a month in which I can barely write my own name.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer, but I was always told it was a hobby, not a career choice. So, almost by default, I became a lawyer. When I was in high school, the legal thriller genre was just taking off, thanks to the likes of John Grisham, Steve Martini, and Scott Turow. So I figured the next best thing to writing about lawyers was to become one. Unfortunately, it didn’t compare.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that the writers and readers of mystery and crime fiction are a tight-knit bunch. Take advantage of technology and get to know us, tell us what you like and dislike about our books. Most writers enjoy hearing from readers. I’m certainly no exception. I encourage readers to contact me through my website.

Thank you for sharing a bit about your writing today, Doug. I hope those days where you can barely write your name are few and far between.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Interview with business author Marlene Caroselli

Today I get to welcome business author Marlene Caroselli, Ed.D. and talk to her about her newest book, Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate.

Marlene, please tell us about your current release.
Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate explores leadership through the prism of historical figures. I note the current thinking--John Maxwell: "Others will not care about how much you know until they know how much you care"--and correlate it to practices and principles from the time of Jesus.

The difference between those who genuinely care and those who may use the less fortunate as a career opportunity is perhaps best illustrated by an encounter between Mother Teresa and a reporter. She was tending to the lepers in the Shanti Nagar ("Town of Peace") colony. A reporter was shadowing her, looking for photo ops. At one point, as she reached down to comfort a man infected with the disease, his skin disfigured by sores, she overheard the reporter's distaste for the scene. "Ugh," he said under his breath. "I wouldn't touch that man with a ten-foot pole!"

"Neither would I," was Mother Teresa's rejoinder, as she leaned over the man to comfort him and laid her hands on his head.

I also talk about what leaders can learn from nature by citing Jonas Salk's answer to the question of how he discovered the polio vaccine: "I learned to think the way Mother Nature thinks." The second section of the book draws lessons from the teachings of nature.

In the third section, I show how leaders can use creativity--specifically the creativity of opposites, embodied in the figure of the Roman god Janus.

Whether one hopes to develop leadership skills for everyday-confidence or for professional growth, the book contains hundreds of ideas for doing so.

What inspired you to write this book?
The book actually began as a speech. The more I thought about the three basic concepts, the more ideas I had. I just expanded the main points from the speech until I had the book done.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have about 100 book ideas competing for my attention. The one that seems to be grabbing my attention most, though, is a book to be titled What To Do When A Chippendale Dance Flirts with You. (Did it grab yours?)

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was a mere child, my mother saw the light on in my bedroom in the wee hours. She thought I had fallen asleep and came in to shut it off. Instead, she found me wide awake, reading the dictionary. I've always loved words and the most logical thing to do with such a love is to put it to work. Hence, my books.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Before selling my consulting business, I was averaging three books a year. Nowadays, I'm a lady of leisure and am doing some other things I love--e.g., art and entertaining. But I still write every single day. Typically, I'm at the Y by 7:30 for an hour in the pool. Then I rush home to turn on my computer, which remains on until about 5 pm, when I quit for the day. In-between, I'm doing a lot of writing--but only for 15 minutes at a time. I'm easily bored so I'm always meandering--to feed the cats, to write out bills, to do the laundry, to make a get the idea.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I give birth diurnally it seems to a new book idea. Things I see, hear, read all lead me to concepts that work as article or even longer pieces. To illustrate, my sister and I recently met an 82-year-old man. We looked at each other and she was shaking her hand as if to say, "Isn't he hot?" Meanwhile, my hand was over my heart in the universal gesture that signifies visual pleasure evoked by a fine specimen of the opposite sex. Today, I read that he had appeared on the cover of a bodybuilding magazine and it suddenly became clear what the attraction was. Self-confidence (in this case, because of one's body) is undeniably attractive. Then I began thinking about all the other sources of self-confidence and said to myself, "This would make a good book." But, as you know, I will die before I can write all the books I've started.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in 4th grade, Mrs. Hogeboom called me to the blackboard and asked me to write the week's spelling words. When I finished, she stood back and announced, "You, my dear, have schoolteacher's handwriting." BOOM! My fate was sealed. Not only did I become a teacher, my next two sisters in birth order did as well. It wasn't long before I moved from the high school English classroom, to the university/corporate classroom. There, I found distributing books was more professional a gesture than distributing handouts. And so, my book-writing career was born.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
As soon as the idea hits you, jot it down. You think you'll remember, but you won't. Your logs will be good fodder for any number of things you wish to write.

Thank you for stopping by today, Marlene.

After earning her doctorate in education at the University of Rochester, Marlene Caroselli left the public classroom and her native New York State in 1980 and headed to the West Coast. She soon began working as a manager for Trizec Properties, Inc. and as an adjunct professor for UCLA and National University. Her university work led to training contracts with the Department of Defense and with such Fortune 100 firms as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, TRW, Hughes Aircraft, and Allied-Signal.

In 1984, she founded the Center for Professional Development and began adding books to her list of professional achievements. Her first book, The Language of Leadership, was chosen a main selection by Newbridge's Executive Development book club. Since that publication, she has written sixty additional books and several ebooks. A recent book, Principled Persuasion: Influence with Integrity, Sell with Standards, was named a Director's Choice by Doubleday Book Club. One-to-One for Managers, has been selected by Barnes and Noble for an on-line course; Business Ethics Activity Book has been co-released by HRD Press and the American Management Association (AMACOM); 500 Creative Classroom Techniques for Teachers and Trainers, 8 Leadership Secrets from Real Leaders and The Critical Thinking Toolkit are among her latest releases

In addition to books, Dr. Caroselli writes frequently for Stephen Covey's Executive Excellence, for the Employment Times, as well as for numerous other print and electronic publications. She also writes podcasts for Workplace English Training E-Magazine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interview with autobiographer Diane Fisher

Today we get to find out a little bit about Diane Fisher and her autobiography Once Upon a Time....Never Comes Again

Welcome, Diane. Please tell us about your current release, Once Upon a Time...Never Comes Again: My True Personal Story about Adult Sibling Rivalry.
This is my own true personal story of adult sibling rivalry and how I stood up to all three of my siblings after they disowned me.

What inspired you to write this book?
The reason I wrote this book was because I felt I had a story to tell; but most of all, it helped me work my way out of my depression after my three siblings disowned me.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm working on a true story about my father - something I never had closure on.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Ever since I could remember, I always wrote poems about family situations.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full time. I am a Legal Assistant for a Managing Partner in a powerful law firm in NYC. Whenever a thought comes to me, I jot it down, whether it be on the bus on the way to work, while driving my car, or something just pops into my head in the middle of the night.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think my most interesting writing quirk is always wanting to plug in clip art pictures into my story.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I would say I always wanted to be a court reporter and to this day, I am so sorry I never pursued it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
This is the first book I have ever published - something I really never thought would happen in my life. However, when I 'Google' myself or go on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and find my name with the name of my book, it hits me that I, Diane Fisher, AM AN AUTHOR! That is my tremendous accomplishment. My two little grandchildren, 5 and 6, run around telling everyone "my grandma is an author" - it does not get better than that!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Live chat/interview with author Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein - 5/1/11

The Writer's Chatroom presents author Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review of Finish Line by James Ross

Genre: Fiction
Title: Finish Line
Author: James Ross

Thirteen-year-old Justin Ventimiglia is a good kid who seldom gets into trouble and manages well enough in school. He has issues with his step-father, but what kid doesn’t? And what kid doesn’t have a friend who pushes the boundaries of right and wrong? Justin has Keith Puccio to nudge him into trouble, and for the most part, the pranks are harmless.

Justin and Keith find themselves having to work their entire summer break at the golf course seven days a week from sun up to sun down to make amends for a prank gone too far. Curt, an old friend of Justin’s mother, agrees to take the young teens under his wing for the summer. Curt mentors the boys and teaches them all about the work needed for a golf course. Some of it is fun, some not so much, but Curt is always there to lend a hand or an ear. Learning to respect themselves and others goes a long way as these boys work to pay off their debt. Curt learns as much from the boys as he’s able to teach them, and everyone grows through the up and down experiences they have over the summer.

The omniscient voice choice by the author gives the reader insight into almost every character that appears on the page. The mostly male cast works well together and the author is able to capture many nuances of male relationships. Curt is crafted well as a mentor to teens and a man that other men look up to. Like in the first novel, the character backgrounds are entertaining and lend to giving a lot of color to the story, since every story is unique. The point of view choice allows the reader to get to know a large cast of characters but not any one character in particular. The short chapters allow for many scene and point of view shifts and keep the activity moving along.

James Ross graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After turning fifty, he searched for a positive outlet to battle the economic ups and downs that most people experience. He went to a keyboard and let the words flow through his fingertips. Finish Line follows Lifetime Loser in a series of books centering around the Prairie Woods Golf Course. James is an avid, low-handicap golfer who enjoys the sport and the lessons of the game. He shares his belief that golf may very well hold the key to a lot of life's best secrets, through his novels.

Although Finish Line is set on a golf course, it can entertain any reader. It’s also suitable for young adult and adult readers. Finish Line is a novel about the importance of setting goals and meeting them. It’s acknowledging that the goal isn’t achieved until the “finish line” is crossed. It is a good read. Reviewer: Lisa Haselton, Allbooks Reviews,

Available through:,, and

Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
ISBN: 978-1-4363-3326-9
Pages: 290
Price: $6.95

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Interview with romance author Judy Nickles writing as Gwyneth Greer

Today is a Goddess Fish Promotions virtual book tour stop for author Judy Nickles writing as Gwyneth Greer as she promotes her book The Showboat Affair.

Readers, you have a couple of chances to win some prizes from the author today. Details are at the end of the interview.

Judy, please tell us about your current release.
The Wild Rose Press released my third novel, The Showboat Affair, on April 15. It’s with their Last Rose of Summer line—that is, the main characters are older. It’s also a romantic suspense in that Nick and Jean are finding each other—and finding themselves running for their lives.

What inspired you to write this book?
The idea came from a trip to Branson, Missouri, where I enjoyed a dinner cruise on ‘The Branson Belle’ and also glimpsed the enticing Chateau on the Lake Resort. What better setting for a romance?

What exciting story are you working on next?
The Face on Miss Fanny’s Wall, a romance-historical-mystery, has been contracted by Champagne Books for release in 2012. But I’m very excited about the six-book cozy mystery series I’ve sketched out. Book #1 is finished, and book #2 almost there. I love my small-town B&B hostess Penelope Pembroke and her assorted family and friends! Now I just have to find a publisher who will love them as well.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I can’t remember when I didn’t write, but it was always for my own entertainment. Being published seemed the impossible dream until a few years ago. I think that anyone who writes, published or not, is a writer. It’s something you are inside.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I retired four years ago and began to research information on writing for publication—not a minor task—and I still have much to learn about the industry and about the writing craft. Fortunately, I have an empty nest and plenty of time to come up with ideas and get them down on paper—though I’m finding that writing (and all that being published entails, like editing, promotion, and marketing) is a full time job.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if it’s interesting or not, but I have to do a lot of research for my books—whether historical, geographical, or technological. I can let some things go under the guise of ‘literary license’, but for the most part, I want what I put down to be factual—even if it’s in fiction!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lady detective! And remember, this was soon after World War II, when women weren’t fully integrated into the workplace. If they’d done a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ during the war, afterwards most returned to home and hearth if at all possible. So people laughed and patted me on the head, and of course, I didn’t grow up to be a lady detective. (However, my oldest son is a police detective!) I think that’s why I’m enjoying writing Penelope Pembroke, because I get to go sleuthing through her.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m having so much fun writing and seeing my books come to life. Hopefully, they will keep me young—or at least breathing until I have them all written! That might be when I’m 106!

Thanks, Judy. Readers, Judy is giving away a copy of The Showboat Affair in any format (including print) chosen by winner, pink laser flip-top mirror with engraved info about book, and a $10 gift certificate to Bath and Body Works to one randomly chosen commenter from her blog tour. The more comments you leave (throughout the tour), the better your chances of winning. The dates and blog stops can be found here.

Judy Nickles is a retired teacher who has spun stories since she could hold a #2 pencil. In elementary school, when storms threatened, the teacher would send her up to the front to tell a tale, taking the other children’s minds off the weather. After retiring four years ago, she got serious about getting published.

The result was three novels with The Wild Rose Press: Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?, Finding Papa’s Shining Star, and The Showboat Affair (as Gwyneth Greer).

Champagne Books just contracted The Face on Miss Fanny’s Wall, a historical romantic suspense, for release in 2012. In addition to writing, Judy enjoys traveling, doing genealogical research, and spending time with her granddaughters, Hanna and Aubrey.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interview with poet Dominique L. Watson

Reviews and Interviews welcome poet Dominique Watson today to talk about her writing life and her newest book of poetry, The Tension Reliever Volume 2; Another Side of Me.

Tell us about your current release.
My current release is the second volume of my poetry collection The Tension Reliever.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write poems that I’d never written before, at the same time release a little tension from the things I was dealing with.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently editing my next book Love’s Deception. Monica has never been truly loved. She was raised by her older sister Angie. They were neglected by their drug addict and alcoholic mother at a young age. Monica meets and falls in love with a man that nearly destroys her life.

After facing five years in jail for Arson, Derrick, Monica’s boyfriend has resurfaced and he’s back to take his role in Monica’s life as her number one.

With Monica’s family strongly urging Monica to stay away from Derrick, she’s put into a deep hole that was dug by one of her closest friends and realizes everything and everybody isn’t always was it seems. After years of abandonment, Monica’s mother resurfaces but she can’t find it in her heart to forgive her for all the wrong she’s done to she and her sister
A huge secret is lurking around the corner and all hell is about to break lose if Monica doesn’t break away from the love that could destroy her life…or ultimately…kill her.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably just seven years ago. I think at that time I knew I wanted to write and publish my work.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a business owner so I don’t write full time. Running a magazine takes up most of my time I would have to call myself a part time writer. Whenever I feel the pull to get a book done or a few chapters written, then I will take a break from running my business to working on my books.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love writing while listening to music…not my novels but my poetry…I can write a great poem while listening to music.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a cosmetologist. I went to school for it but never worked in a salon. :)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I run a magazine called From A Writer’s POV. We’ve been in business five years this July. We’re in print, online and digital!

The Tension Reliever Volume 1: A Poetry Collection is available through Amazon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interview with historical fiction author Gretchen Craig

I'm happy to welcome Gretchen Craig back to Reviews and Interviews to talk about her newest release
Theena's Landing.

Gretchen Craig is the critically acclaimed author of novels and short stories. Set in Louisiana among the Creoles, Cajuns, and African slaves, her ante-bellum historicals are lush with romance and complicated families. Always and Forever won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Mainstream with Romantic Elements and was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in the Historical Novel Society reviews. Continuing the saga of the same extended families, Ever My Love won the Booksellers Best Award from the GDRWA. The last book of the trilogy, Crimson Sky, an e-book inspired by the pueblos, mountains, and deserts of northern New Mexico, evoke the lives of long-ago people living under a searing sun among the stark beauty of mesas and canyons. Gretchen’s latest novel, Theena’s Landing, evokes the blue sea, searing sun, and clear skies of the South Florida wilderness.

Gretchen was born in the Florida Panhandle and grew up in St. Petersburg on the Gulf Coast. She and her husband have lived in South Florida, Germany, and Maine, and are now in Texas among the mesquite and sunflowers. Having lived in such diverse climates and terrains, Gretchen’s novels are notable for their strong sense of place. Readers swear they can smell the bayous of Louisiana and taste the gumbos of New Orleans.

Hi Gretchen, please tell us about your current release.
I worried I’d never get Theena’s Landing published. The heroine is in love with her sister’s husband, and my editor told me No! Your readers will hate you. But, I said, it’s not about a woman who betrays or cheats. It’s about a woman working very hard not to betray or cheat. It’s about a woman’s journey into independence and self worth. Didn’t matter. It was a no go. Same thing at another publisher. What was I to do? I believe in this book. Real people do love unwisely and have to deal with the consequences. Real people do have divided hearts. So I plunged into the new world of digital publishing. Theena’s Landing is an e-book at Amazon Kindle and at Barnes and Noble.

What inspired you to write this book?
Most of my writing begins with a strong attraction to a place. For the last book it was the pueblos of the upper Rio Grande in New Mexico. For Theena’s Landing, it was remembering the years I lived in South Florida on that narrow strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades. I love conjuring up the heat, the smells, the sunlight, and all those critters of the swamp. And I especially am intrigued with lives lived before roads, strip malls, and air conditioning. I imagined living on the Miami River before there was a Miami. Who lived there? How would a young woman make a life for herself in that environment? What were her opportunities and handicaps?

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m polishing Evermore, a novel that extends my first two historicals. The same extended family with ties to the Creoles, the Cajuns, and the African slaves of Louisiana loved and struggled through the 1830s and 1850s. In Evermore, the next generation now lives through the Yankee occupation of New Orleans, each character building a life during and after the upheaval of the Civil War.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The day after I retired from teaching I got up Saturday morning, turned on the computer, and opened a new file. I’ve written steadily since that day, and even though I was not published for the first two years, I was writing and learning and improving. I was a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m fortunate enough that I do write full time. I generally write all morning, have lunch, and then write another couple of hours until I’m too bleary eyed to go on.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I get hung up on research. I can be typing along smoothly, and then suddenly wonder did they indeed have ether right then. I have to stop, look it up, and verify before I can go on.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a woman with many lovely hats, high heels in every color, and matching handbags, of course. Other than that, I wanted to be a ballerina, mostly because of the satin shoes. A fighter pilot, because my brother had those Black Hawk comic books where the jets were sleek and blue-black. And a doctor. I was wrong about all those ambitions, though. What I really am cut out for is writing.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m passionate about my characters and their lives. They live and breath for me. I hope you’ll find them as real and vivid as I do.

Thanks for visiting again, Gretchen.

Gretchen's first interview, where she talks about Crimson Sky, can be found here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Live chat/interview with author Ben Thompson - 4/24/11

The Writer's Chatroom presents author Ben Thompson.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are?


The Writers Chatroom at:

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review of Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories, 12 Masters of the Genre

Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories, 12 Masters of the Genre
Contributors: Max Allan Collins, Bill Crider, Stephen Gallagher, Lee Goldberg, Joel Goldman, Ed Gorman, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Vicki Hendricks, Naomi Hirahara, Paul Levine, Harry Shannon, Dave Zeltserman, Top Suspense Group

Fiction - short stories
Rated: Very Good (****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton

Short story collections are excellent for finding new authors and new genres of writing that intrigue. An anthology is a small investment that lets you enter worlds you might not otherwise find. I’m a suspense and thriller fan, so when asked if I’d review Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories in return for a complimentary copy of the e-book, I agreed. I have not been compensated for this review.

The variety of stories offered in this collection is a great introduction to the suspense genre. The stories are unique and I appreciate the type of suspense each offers. It’s like going to a dessert buffet and being able to sample everything from slices of fresh fruit to a triple-decker decadent chocolate slice of cake. After all the sampling, you may find you still have a dessert (genre) of choice, but you may have found one or two new desserts to add to the menu. There can’t be any regret in expanding your palate for one evening.

The authors are aptly described as ‘masters,’ and ‘are all widely-acclaimed, multiple-award-winning professionals.’ It’s a credit to the genre to have 12 such masters of suspense all in one collection.

Because the stories are so different from each other, I found I needed to pause between them and reset my mind before moving on. A cleansing of my palate, so to speak. Stories cover the gamut from early 1900s to futuristic, desert to city, day to night, love to hate, hopes to obsessions, and gut reaction to well-detailed plan. A few stories end with the main character having an “Oh, crap, this is not going to end well,” epiphany. I find those entertaining, especially when I don’t see them coming.

“Unreasonable Doubt” by Max Allan Collins is a great lead story. Discovering it’s based on a true story increased the entertainment value. “Death’s Brother” by Bill Crider grabbed me with an early unexpected twist. “Poisoned” by Stephen Gallagher caught me by surprise at the end, as did “Remaindered” by Lee Goldberg. I think I had the “Oh crap” epiphany the same time the main character did. “Fire in the Sky” by Joel Goldman has two storylines combine into one like a flame upon a path of gasoline. “The Baby Store” by Ed Gorman crept me out, I admit. “The Jade Elephant” by Libby Fischer Hellmann went one step too far in its conclusion for my suspension of disbelief. “The Big O” by Vicki Hendricks doesn’t do much to raise opinions of trailer park living, but the climax (pun not intended, but it’s appropriate) was palpable and satisfying. “The Chirashi Covenant” by Naomi Hirahara is one of those stories where I think “that could happen in real life.” “El Valiente en el Infierno” by Paul Levine entertains with its young protagonist. “A Handful of Dust” by Harry Shannon is one of my favorites in this collection. “The Canary” by Dave Zeltserman had me chuckling with the main character at the end. And I feel the 6-author round-robin story that wraps up the anthology is well-done. The reveal of which authors wrote which 250-word portion is a fun test and exploration of the various writing styles.

I have to admit my disappointment in knowing that out of the 13 stories, only 4 were never published before this anthology: “Unreasonable Doubt,” “Fire in the Sky,” “The Canary,” and the 6-author group story, “The Chase.” I was surprised to find as many editing issues as I did, but I’m sure the mistakes will be corrected, if they haven’t been already.

Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories delivers as the title says – classic stories. If none of the authors are familiar to you, you may find a new author to read. If you’re already a fan of one or more, reading a short story from a novelist can satisfy your need for a good read before the next novel comes out.

Stop by the Web site to read more about the suspense authors in this anthology, as well as others:

Title: Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories, 12 Masters of the Genre
Contributors: Max Allan Collins, Bill Crider, Stephen Gallagher, Lee Goldberg, Joel Goldman, Ed Gorman, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Vicki Hendricks, Naomi Hirahara, Paul Levine, Harry Shannon, Dave Zeltserman, Top Suspense Group
Publisher: Top Suspense Group
Pages: 198
Price: $2.99 Kindle and Nook

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Interview with children's author Barbara Carducci

I'd like to welcome author Barbara Simpson Carducci to Reviews and Interviews today to talk about the writing life and her newest release Storee Wryter Gets a Dog.

Bobbi is a former senior staff writer for a Washington, D.C. area newspaper and currently writes a monthly book review column for About Families Publications. Her short stories appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort anthologies. She is currently refining her first novel-length book, a creative nonfiction work based on her seven years as an in-home caregiver for a critically ill family member.

Please tell us about your current release.
Storee Wryter is a young girl with a big imagination and a love of writing. Every day brings a new adventure and a new story to tell. Storee Wryter Gets a Dog, the first in a planned book series designed to encourage young writers, follows Storee and her cat, Critique, as they raise a puppy to become a trained therapy dog. The book takes the young reader through Storee's challenge of raising a puppy and training it to help others. Later, Storee visits a classroom of special needs children, and learns how she can reach out to other students with the help of her capable canine. It's an experience that inspires Storee to write -- and will spark the imaginations of students in grades 3 through 5. Two writing prompts and space to write are included in the back of the book.

What inspired you to write this book?
Storee is me at that age, and I wanted to let kids know that it’s possible to be a writer no matter how old you are. I also wanted to provide them with a story that is interesting and fun. I believe Critique will appeal to them as much as Addie.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on another Storee Wryter book. This one is a mystery involving a missing ring, a secret message, and the new kid at school.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing when I was eight. It happened quite by accident. It rained all morning and my best friend’s mother had had about enough of two giggling girls chatting away in her home. She handed each of us a pencil and paper and ordered us to sit down and write a story. Later, after the sun had come out and she shooed us outdoors, she read them. She told me mine was very good and that I should continue writing. So I did.

Do you write full-time? Full time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write throughout the day. In addition to writing, I am the Executive Director of the Young Voices Foundation, a 501 c 3 nonprofit established to mentor young writers. I write a daily blog and I write a monthly book review column for About Families Publications.

I teach writing workshops for adults and children and I am a judge for the Benjamin Franklin Awards and the Moms Choice Awards. Both are nationally recognized book awards. I love to spend time with other writers and lead a local writers group where my goal is to help other writers meet their personal writing goals. I am on the Board of Directors or Pennwriters, Inc. a national writers group with over 400 members.

When I’m not doing any of that I’m reading. I have to. If I go too long without a book I get twitchy from brain hunger.

What's fun for you?
Good food, good wine, good friends. My husband is a drummer so I’m a band groupie. (Never a roadie, always a groupie is my motto) I also love walking on my treadmill. I can’t run anymore since I popped a disk in my back a few years ago, but I can walk for hours given the chance.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When stuck, I head for either a hot shower or my hot tub. There is something about hot water on my head that stimulates my brain. I picture synapses lighting up and ideas coming to life.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A brain surgeon. Really. I loved doctor shows on TV and decided I would be the best of the best and work on the most important part of the body. Unfortunately that’s hard to do when you become pregnant and marry at 17. So, my story took a vastly different turn. I don’t regret a thing. Look where I ended up.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My target market for Storee Wryter and her friends, in addition to young readers 8-10 years old, is teachers. Please tell them about Storee Wryter and her cat, Critique. The ebook, at $4.99, is very affordable and easy to download for use in the classroom when teaching kids about the fun one can have with creative writing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview with paranormal romance author Margaret West

Today we're chatting with Margaret West about her newest paranormal romance novel.

Please tell us about your current release, Abigail Cottage.
Abigail Cottage is about two very different love stories, one very dark and the other full of purity and light. Both circled around Abbey and the curse that has been in her family's blood line for centuries. A curse, if not broken would mean the downfall of all mankind. It entered Abbey's life in the form of an inherited a cottage. A place she discovers is portal to evil, shadows, and an entity whose love for her is forged from resentment for the love he lost centuries before. True love comes from Shaun and after they spend just one night together, they set into motion a miracle, a betrayal, a tragedy, a revelation, and a light which is driven by a love.

What inspired you to write this book?
I used to work for the James Bond movie makers. After listening to the script writers and watching how they brought their characters to life on paper, I decided I wanted to do something similar. Abigail Cottage was born, my first full novel. And it took 25 years to reach the light of day.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m trying a whole new genre. Chick lit. It’s only in my head at the moment as I am just finishing Crystal Gazing, another paranormal romance. But I have a good idea how it’s going to go.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose the day I finished Abigail Cottage. I’d written a 2,000 page book. Of course it has been trimmed over the years, but not bad for a newbie writer just starting out.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like?
I teach Psychic Development and I am also a Crystal therapist. I am lucky to be able to work from home. I have my office upstairs for writing and my healing room downstairs for work. I am also a medium, so I have private sittings and church sittings. I squeeze in my writing and blogging where I can. It’s not easy, but it’s in my blood and I have to write. My blog site is here if you would like to have a look.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I talk to my characters. Weird, but true. I don’t know if that’s interesting or not! I say things like, Mmm should you be going there? And maybe I’ll change your dress, it’s not right for his scene. I do it ALL the time. lol

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a ballet dancer. Then I grew to 5'8" and became too tall….sigh….

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Being a medium, most of my books carry an inspirational message within the storyline. Most of my books, although fiction, do actually have true facts about the spirit world woven into the storyline. No one reads them usually, without ‘getting’ the message I try to bring across to the reader. I like to think my books spread a little love, light, and humor to whomever they come into contact with.

I am always looking for bloggers, so do pop my Margaret West blog. I also have a Connecting with Spirit blog.

I do so many giveaways and we always have fun on my blog. Even new followers get a pressie! Please pop by and say hi. I’m also on Facebook, so feel free to add me.

Thanks for having me today. It’s been fun.

It's been great getting to know a bit about you and your writing.

Born in England, Margaret moved to the Kent countryside five years ago to get away from the busy life in London. She's married with two grown children and has worked in various fields of work. She is a Clairknowing medium, Crystal Therapist, Parapsychologist, and Psychic Development tutor.

She’s been writing for over 20 years and has numerous short stories, novels, and articles published. Margaret writes romance and paranormal novels, incorporating her spiritual experiences into her books.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interview with literary fiction author Barbara Forte Abate

Today, Reviews and Interviews welcomes Barbara Forte Abate to talk about her novel The Secret of Lies.

Barbara, welcome! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in a small town in Dutchess County, New York, the middle of five children. I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing, or thinking of writing and I began composing what I thought was an incredible novel in 4th grade. Unfortunately, I found it necessary to give up on it when I finally came to recognize that it pretty much read like a plagiarized copy of Huckleberry Finn, and having a different title wasn’t all that effective in disguising that.

Nevertheless, I did hang onto the desire to write, eventually coming up with my own ideas and characters. (Although I do remain an enormous fan of Huck Finn.)

I married young and my children arrived in prompt succession, and so my writing aspirations went on hold for a while. I knew it was something I fully intended to return to, the question was "when?"

When the first seeds of an idea for a novel which would eventually grow into The Secret of Lies arrived, it wasn’t so much an extraordinary event as it was something I recognized as absolute and very exciting. That was twenty years ago and I haven’t stopped writing since. Although I do take off for holidays.

My husband James and I are the parents of four very fabulous children, and currently live in a very cool old house in Chester County, PA.

Please tell us about your current release.
The Secret of Lies is my debut [mainstream literary] novel. The storyline threads together elements of suspense, mystery, romance and betrayal. It opening chapters revolve around the close, though prickly, relationship between two sisters growing up in rural Pennsylvania on a small family farm in the 1950s, and the single shattering event that will come crashing in like a meteor to split their lives to the very core.

On the surface, their life is one of naïve innocence – simple and uncomplicated. As the story begins, Stevie and her older sister Eleanor are embarking on what will be the last summer they will spend at their aunt and uncle’s ancient summer house overlooking the North Atlantic. For the sisters, who eagerly anticipate spending their school vacation with their favorite aunt and uncle at this magical house far from home, this is the eternally "starred" event on their calendar.

It is during these easy golden days of high adventure beside the sea, that the sisters revel in an existence altogether opposite to their accustomed routine at home on the farm. Yet it is in the midst of this last summer when everything once perfect will turn ugly and heinous, spiraling horribly out of control – everything familiar torn away into splintered fragments that even time declines to heal. And it is this single pivotal event that will shape everything that subsequently unfolds into the reminder of the story.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I first sat down to write this story, I think my heartfelt conviction was intricately tied to accomplishing a dream I’ve carried around since grade school when I first started writing this-and-that in a notebook I kept under my mattress. (I shared a room with my two sisters, so under the mattress was "the vault.") I do think that maybe it helped that I was so naïve at the time to believe that writing a book was simply that, writing a book. Had I known what I was up against – well, I might not of had the courage to put down that first sentence.

I can tell you that this early fallacy of mine was all but vanished by the time I’d reached the end of the book, because by then I’d been struck by a lightning bolt. I very clearly came to understand just what this writing thing was actually about, and the fact that regular injections of heart and soul would be required. Just as I came to believe unequivocally that to truly love the intricate world and collection of complex characters I’d created was not a dream fulfilled until others had experienced it as well. In my mind it is absolutely the readers who provide that final essential link. Readers that hopefully come wandering past and find themselves captivated enough to stay along for the ride. I truly feel that a story doesn’t altogether exist until it’s been read. Until then, it’s just the author wandering solo on the page.

What is the meaning of your book’s title?
The very nature of Secrets so often comes into question over the course of our lives – those that are honest and those purposely deceptive. While some secrets might prove necessary inasmuch as they may cause less damage when left alone sealed in the vault until the end of time, there are those secrets that are something else altogether – things tangled up and sold as secrets for the deliberate intention of concealing infinitely damaging mistruths. Such is the case in my novel when one of the sisters, Stevie, is confronted with the terrible question of whether the tragic secret she’s been protecting so diligently at her own expense in a bid to heal her wounded family, is in actuality, a terrible lie intended only to protect the guilty.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Early on I convinced myself that because my writing wasn’t something I’d earned a degree for or was likely to heal or change the world in any notable way, to dedicate daytime hours and sleepless nights in pursuit of a finished manuscript was something altogether frivolous – maybe even egotistical. It took me many years to readjust my thoughts on this, but I think I’ve finally broken through the barricade. And truly, it wasn’t having my published novel in my hands at long last that made me consider myself a card carrying legit writer. Losing my insecurities of daring to call myself a writer settled in without my seeing it. It was during the day to day, month to month, and in my case, year-into-year-into-year routine – when the rejections were coming fast and furious and yet I continued to write, rewrite, edit…and then send it out again, that I came to understand that there was a indeed a title that came along with such ironclad diligence and perseverance – Writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Because I married not long after graduating high school and my children arrived in timely succession, being a work-at-home-mother can pretty much describe my work day. When I first started writing it was in the afternoon when babies napped and I could generally claim a couple of quiet hours to work. My first drafts are always longhand on those big legal pads. Not only because they wonderfully portable and less intimidating then a blank white screen, but I didn’t have a typewriter (and certainly not a computer).

Fast forward twenty years later and I’m still pretty much following the same routine. One would assume that now that my children are grown – and my youngest nearly grown – I would have endless hours to create, but somehow it’s just never worked out in such a way that I ever have more than an afternoon at a time to sit down and write.

Nevertheless, I am a firm believer that when it comes to those things that we love and value, no matter what, we will find the necessary time and space to fit them into our lives. It’s far too easy to back-burner those things that don’t seem absolutely necessary to the care and feeding of the world at large. We’re all so overworked, overextended, and overtired it’s never a difficult thing to rationalize why we’re not doing those things that aren’t immediately imperative. Nowhere on my tombstone would I want it engraved, "She never did get that book written, but she had a damn clean house."

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Okay, confession. I wrestled here with telling a lie and making up something really fun and cool, but honesty won out. I have an odd affection for reading about others writing quirks and would love to have something memorable of my own to share. But the sad truth is that my quirk is not so much interesting as it is anal.

I can only write in the quietest corner of my world. And although I’m blessed to have my own room to spread out my pages, a barking dog in the neighbor’s yard, ringing phone, or children bouncing a ball in the street – aka, ordinary sounds of life – are lethal to my thinking process. I also find it impossible to focus on my work in progress if I know there’s a pile of laundry waiting with my name on it, (arrggg…I’m pretty sure I just heard the buzzer on the dryer go off and I’m not even kidding), or if the house doesn’t feel especially tidy and I haven’t planned what I’m cooking for dinner yet. Alas, if only I could find a way to let go and allow myself to live with clutter I’d surely produce volumes of perfect and wonderful stories.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew early on that I wanted to write, but I was also obsessed with the idea of being an archeologist. I spent a lot of time digging up 'artifacts' in the backyard, and collected many a chicken bone to prove that miniature dinosaurs once roamed the same exact spot where my swing-set now stood. Being a saver, I believe that if our dog Chippy hadn’t eaten my carefully procured collection, I’d still have them in a shoe box under my bed.

It does bring a certain satisfaction to think that all these years down the road and I really am doing what I’d always dreamed. I’m still writing, and although I never went so far as to excavate ancient ruins, I do feed that particular yearning for odd bits and historic treasures by digging through dusty boxes at yard-sales and flea markets on a regular basis.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’d really like to say to anyone on the uphill climb – and it seems we’re all in that place at one time or another – don't become disheartened if you’re working your dream from every angle and it seems as if nothing is happening. You really just have to hang in there. Bite down a little harder if that’s what it takes for you to hang on a little longer then you might have originally hoped or expected in order to reach the summit and plant your flag. It’s all about faith and perseverance and trusting that the passions of your heart have been sown there for a purpose.

The Secret of Lies Novel is on Facebook and a trailer can be found on YouTube.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review of Starring in the Movie of My Life by Laurel Osterkamp

Genre: Fiction
Title: Starring in the Movie of My Life
Author: Laurel Osterkamp

Thirty-five-year-old Samantha acts impulsively, but always doing what she thinks is right. She loves her husband, Nate Linden, but constantly wonders how she got so lucky with a man ten years younger than herself. Melody is a high school senior. After Mr. Linden saves Melody from being attacked at a Valentine’s dance, she believes it is destiny that she and her teacher belong together.

Starring in the Movie of My Life follows Samantha, as she follows her impulsive heart into pursuits that challenge those who love her, and Melody, who thinks she knows exactly how her life should be and who doesn’t consider how her actions affect others. Samantha has a life, but it isn’t fully satisfying, for some reason. She keeps secrets from her husband and from her ex, who happens to live in an upstairs apartment. Melody’s home life is nothing to cheer about, but she always manages to land on her feet and make the best of any situation. All her life she’s had to take care of herself and her mother and be the focus of barbs and jokes from classmates. She believes it has made her stronger. When push comes to shove, she does what it takes to be on top.

The author chose alternating points of view for each chapter of the two women who want Nate for themselves. The tight writing keeps the pace moving, and the short chapters help build suspense because the reader is left wanting more. The movie subject works well in the storyline. The author crafted Samantha to be forever comparing her life to movies she’s seen and Melody as a person who researches, plans, and directs exactly out how she wants her life to go. The writing mixes current day with backstory in small portions, so the reader slowly gains understanding into why the characters act the way they do.

Laurel Osterkamp drew on her experience as a high school film studies and creative writing teacher to craft Starring in the Movie of My Life. Laurel’s first novel, Following My Toes, won a 2008 National Indie Book Award for Excellence. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and children where she’s at work on her next novel.

Starring in the Movie of My Life is fast-paced, engaging, and a recommended read for those not afraid to go back to high school and experience some angst or to experience what it can be like to scramble to find a focus and purpose for life in the mid-30s. Jumping in with both feet without thinking isn’t always a bad thing. Reviewer: Lisa Haselton, Allbooks Reviews,

Publisher: PMI Books
ISBN: 978-1-933826-677
Pages: 316
Price: $13.95

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Live chat/interview with writer and non-profit founder Dallas Woodburn - 4/17/11

The Writer's Chatroom presents writer and non-profit founder Dallas Woodburn.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are?


The Writers Chatroom at:

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Please note: The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review of Beyond the Shickshock Mountains by Malcom Mills

Genre: Historical fiction
Title: Beyond the Shickshock Mountains: A Canadian Talon Saga
Author: Malcolm Mills

It’s the late eighteenth century and the British and French fight over the eastern part of Canada. The Talon family tree has deep roots in this time period and beyond. Men and women alike have to decide whether to stay and accept their lives under another’s rule, or leave and find a safer and not so volatile place to settle. It’s hard to find a safety net when everyone is struggling to survive.

Beyond the Shickshock Mountains follows the lives of three young men: Jean George, Shannagan, and Trevallion. At 20, Jean George finally had enough of the local fishing merchant short-changing his family and others in the community. At the annual tally, he stood up and demanded to see the books. His satisfaction at proving the merchant was bilking the town was short lived as he became a pawn in a game he couldn’t hope to win. Young, orphaned Shannagan runs to the mountains to avoid British capture and to share news with others who live in hiding. Twenty-five-year-old Trevallion has already sailed to Europe and back. He has a few pieces of personal business to attend to before settling down with a wife, but life keeps throwing him curves.

The author chose to write the first and last sections in first person, seemingly so the reader can be more involved in the stories of Jean George and Trevallion. The short middle section is narrative and tells about 12-year-old Shannagan Thomas Murphy’s struggle to survive as a ‘free’ man. The descriptive writing and engaging dialogue keep the reader engaged in the lives of these three unique individuals in a time long past.

In addition to Beyond the Shickshock Mountains, Malcolm Mills is the author of High Hopes & High Tides, a historical fiction novel, and It’s a Tough World Out There, a satirical look at business in the fast lane. Malcolm has frequently traveled across North America and has lived in Europe and China gathering data for his writing. Malcolm lives in Nova Scotia with his wife where he continues to write of adventures in Canadian history.

Beyond the Shickshock Mountains is full of adventure and history. It’s a story of self-preservation and survival in unexpected conditions. This novel can entertain young and old alike. It is a good read. This review is based on a pre-published copy of the manuscript. Reviewer: Lisa Haselton, Allbooks Reviews,

Publisher: Asteroid Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-926720-09-8
Pages: 270
Price: $17.95

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Virtual book tour stop for fantasy author Lindsay Buroker

Today is a Goddess Fish virtual book tour stop for author Lindsay Buroker and her science fiction/fantasy romance Encrypted. There's also a chance to win an Amazon gift card. Details are below.

Welcome, Lindsay. I'm glad to have you stop by as you do your virtual book tour.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I've been writing fantasy novels and short stories since I was seven. I've been finishing them since... well, that's a more recent development.

I'm a professional blogger for my day job, and I live in the Seattle area. I have two vizslas who are as spoiled as most people's kids. Occasionally they let me leave the house to play tennis, go to the coffee shop, or take a yoga class.

My short stories are available as free ebooks around the web, and my fantasy novels are up at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

Please tell us about your current release.
Encrypted is a high fantasy adventure story with shades of science fiction mixed in. Between the killer monsters, puzzling alien artifacts, and deadly assassins, there’s a romance as well. As warm and cuddly as monsters are, they’re just not as fun as the awkward moments between a couple characters falling in love.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’d finished my first novel, The Emperor’s Edge, and I wanted to write something that stood alone rather than doing a sequel (at the time, I wasn’t aware of the whole e-publishing movement, and I was still thinking I’d end up hunting for an agent for my work).

I wanted to do a story with a heroine a little different from the warrior women, sorceresses, and priestesses one often finds in high fantasy. While I was mulling that over, I stumbled across The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography. Wouldn’t it be neat, I thought, to have a fantasy heroine who specialized in cryptography?

Once I’d decided on that character, it was a matter of creating a story that would let her use her talents. I knew it’d be a mystery, but it turned into more of a thriller than I expected, and she’s probably not happy with me for all I’ve put her through!

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m e-publishing a steampunk novella set in the Yukon during the gold rush, and I’m planning to do a series of shorter works in that setting with those characters. There’s adventure, magic, steam-powered gadgetry, and of course a love story, though that will develop over time.

The first story should be available by the time this interview goes live. It’s called Flash Gold if folks want to look it up. It’s a 99-center so a good deal for those with e-readers!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always liked to make up stories, so it was a matter of finding time to learn the ropes and developing the discipline to start finishing things. That discipline thing, in particular, took a while, and I’m still working on perfecting it.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a professional blogger for my day job, so technically I do write full-time, but, like many storytellers, I’d love a chance to spin tales for a living.

I work from home, so finding time isn’t usually that hard, but making good use of that time is a challenge. Between email, Twitter, and looking things up on the internet, I’m good at whiling the hours away (Does anybody actually say “whiling” any more? Hm.)

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I get bored easily. Bet that wasn’t the answer you were expecting!

Basically, though, I’m quick to skim over “the boring parts” when I read, and I get restless with my own stories if there’s not enough going on, so I end up writing fast-paced adventures with something happening every chapter. Sometimes it’s a battle, sometimes it’s digging for clues in a mystery, and sometimes it’s dialogue between characters, but I try to make sure there’s always something at stake to keep things interesting. I figure if I’m bored writing it, someone will get bored reading it.

I don’t know that this makes for award-winning literature, but at least nobody has left a review saying “what a yawner” yet!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I actually wanted to be a writer. I got the message, though, that writers don’t make money so I’d better study business or something else along the way. I ended up joining the army, then starting an internet business, then finally getting back to writing years later.

I’m sticking with it this time, and the e-publishing revolution is making things fun. It’s inspiring how well some indie e-book authors are doing (yeah, writers can make money…who knew?), and the technology is changing quickly, too, so it’s great to watch all the changes to the industry. I’m enjoying being a part of it all.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you want to hear more from me or about my stories, visit my blog where I talk about e-publishing and e-books. I’ve got a newsletter you can sign up for to keep abreast of contests, free books, and what’s happening in the industry.

I’m also on Twitter regularly, so send me a tweet and say hi!

Thanks for stopping by. Folks, remember, leaving a comment on this blog enters you for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate from todays' featured author.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Virtual tour stop and interview with author Lisa Rusczyk

Today I'm happy to host author Lisa Rusczyk as she does a virtual book tour with the Virtual Book Tour Cafe.

Lisa Rusczyk is the author of Chasing the Dark, The Blue Pen, Sam the Night Person, Full Moon in December and A Dream of the Past. She lives in North Alabama with her husband and six beloved cats.

Tell us about your current release, Unloved.
I contributed to Unloved with six other authors. It is a collection of shorts about bullying and suicide. My story focused on suicide.

Bullying was once considered a harmless rite of passage. Some were either bullied in school or they were the bully. What was once considered an acceptable practice has now been drawn into the limelight by the national attention of highly publicized suicides due to bullying.

Bullying can take on different forms. Bullying is not just a physical act but can also be an emotional, written, or verbal act as well. Bullying can take place in the workplace, school, online, and even while we are traveling in our vehicles on the road. Bullying is a form of abuse that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and civilized nations across the globe.

When bullying goes too far, the end result is sometimes suicide. Suicide should never become an option. One life lost to this senseless way, is one too many!

I've joined six other authors to send one message. That message is, “You are not Unloved!” Unloved is an anthology dedicated to those who have been the victim of bullying, or know someone who has been bullied.

All proceeds from Unloved will go to charities in support of Bully Prevention and/or Suicide Prevention.

What inspired you to contribute to this book?
HD Hatcher asked me to participate and I gladly agreed. It was a great experience.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on two right now. One is a suspense thriller and the other is sci fi.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I got a job writing content on the Internet and once I was getting a paycheck from writing, I considered myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time. I edit manuscripts for indie authors and write content for Demand Studios, mostly eHow articles. I’m having a hard time finding a few minutes to write fiction these days.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I read a large portion of the manuscript I’m working on before I continue writing on a project.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an actress or a vet.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Please stop by my Web zine Hazard Cat for some cat fiction, cat poetry, and cat art from all over the world. I have six beloveds and one is pregnant. I can’t wait for kittens!

My next blog stop is here on April 9.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Interview with author Jonathan Maxwell

Jonathan Maxwell is a Georgia-based writer and public speaker. He is the author of Murderous Intellectuals: German Elites and the Nazi SS, which received the 2011 Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice Award in the Category of Best Non-fiction Book. In addition, the online publication Author Exposure rated the work as being one of the “20 Most Memorable Debut Books of 2010.” Jonathan holds a BA in English, along with a psychology minor and a paralegal certificate.

Jonathan, please tell us about your current release.
Murderous Intellectuals: German Elites and the Nazi SS examines why so many well-educated professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, scientists, and the like, willingly joined the Nazi SS, the notorious group that spearheaded the Holocaust.

What inspired you to write this book?
In part, I wrote the book to correct some of the misconceptions that people have about the Nazis. Many persons believe that this organization was full of street brawlers and misfits who lived on the fringes of society. To a considerable degree, this was true; Adolf Hitler himself exemplified the “social failure as Nazi” stereotype. However, the organization was also full of intellectuals. Such figures included:
·Johannes Stark. Stark was a German physicist who won a Nobel Prize for his work. He also became a fervent Nazi. He helped to rid German universities of liberal professors. He sent many of these educators to the concentration camps, where many died.
·Philipp Lenard. Lenard was another German physicist who garnered a Nobel Prize. Like Stark, he was a devoted Nazi, and he wrote much anti-Semitic literature.
·Otto Ohlendorf. This man was a death-squad commander who operated in the Ukraine. He and his men shot down about 100,000 Jews over a period of about six months. Obviously, Ohlendorf was a dangerous, fanatical criminal. He was also superbly educated: he held doctorates both in law and in economics.
·Oskar Dirlewanger. Dirlewanger was another death-squad commander. He operated in the former Yugoslavia. He openly encouraged his men to commit atrocities such as plunder, rape, and the murders of civilians. Like Ohlendorf, he was a dangerous felon. He was well-educated as well, possessing a doctorate in political science.
·Josef Mengele is the most famous SS doctor who performed experiments on people within the concentration and death camps. He came from a respected upper class family and held doctorates in medicine and anthropology. By no means was he the only one, though. There were at least 200 doctors who engaged in such inhumane practices, and they often graduated from the best European universities. In addition, many German doctors regularly killed thousands of mentally ill or mentally retarded individuals as part of a “euthanasia program.”
·The SS was full of architects. One such architect was Paul Blobel, a death-squad commander. At a Russian ravine called Babi Yar, he and his men murdered some 35,000 Jews over a two-day period. Another architect, Albert Speer, was a slave master who was responsible for the deaths of millions of forced laborers. He came from a respected upper class family.
·The SS was also full of lawyers. One such lawyer, Ernst Kaltenbrunner founded Mauthausen, one of the most brutal of the concentration camps. Another attorney, Hans Frank, became the governor-general of Nazi occupied Poland. His tenure there was marked by mass murder, graft, plunder, and corruption.
·Robert Ley was a slave master. He possessed a doctorate in chemistry.

These individuals are not particularly exceptional: one-third of SS officers possessed at least a bachelor’s degree. The truth, then, is much more disturbing. Many of the Holocaust’s practitioners were otherwise rational, accomplished individuals. Ultimately, I hope to convey to the reader that evil can come in many forms. It can come from thugs, but it can come from professors and engineers, too. I also hope to convey to the reader that the ideas of social elites need to be questioned from time to time. Sadly, average Germans during this period did not do so. They simply assumed that such leaders and intellectuals were always right. They failed to consider the fact that evil can corrupt social elites as well.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My second book is called Piltdown Man and Other Hoaxes. It’s much different from my first book. It’s a fun work that is designed for both adults and children. It’s about scientific hoaxes through history, including those involving Bigfoot, the Yeti, lake monsters, and Atlantis. It explores why hoaxes are perpetrated, and why people keep falling for them. Piltdown Man and Other Hoaxes is controversial (people tend to have strong opinions about such subjects), but in a light-hearted way.

It's schedule for release this summer.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I finally considered myself to be a professional writer when I received my first publishing contract about three years ago. I wrote for decades, but I had always been hounded by self-doubt. During the writing of Murderous Intellectuals, I had these sad thoughts: am I just a wannabe? Am I just fooling myself? Am I a phony? I don’t suffer from self-doubt much anymore.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full-time. That being said, my writing schedule is schizophrenic. I operate much like a painter or a sculptor. I have these periods when I get really inspired, and I’ll write thirty pages over a day or two. Then again, I have these periods when I can’t write for weeks on end. I don’t advise such a strategy; ideally, one should write every day. That never worked for me, though. I have found an effective way of dealing with it, however: simply do other writer-related tasks. You can send out queries or book proposals, you can arrange interviews, you can create and then send out press releases, and so on. To be a successful writer, you don’t have to write every day necessarily, but a writer should always stay busy doing one thing or another.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer, but I never thought that I could ever become one. My father was a truck driver. I thought that to be a writer, you had to have graduated from an ivy-league college and to have come from the upper class.

The reason why I wrote my first book is because I had been laid-off from work repeatedly. In between sending out resumes, I decided to write a manuscript. After all, I had a lot of free time on my hands, and it sounded like an interesting challenge. At the time, I simply wanted to prove to myself that I could do something like that. At no time did I ever feel like I could ever sell the book. My mother read it, and urged me to send it out to publishers. I was amazed that I received a contract. In addition, I never felt that I could do book signings or arrange interviews or public appearances. I’ve been pleasantly surprised time after time.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Readers can find my title on,, and, as well as at independent booksellers. They are also invited to contact me on Facebook and LinkedIn.