Monday, April 30, 2012

Interview with multi-genre novelist Pavarti K. Tyler

Pavarti K. Tyler joins us today to talk about her Muslim superhero literary fiction novel Shadow on the Wall.

She has a giveaway for a lucky commentor. Details follow the interview.

Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway.

Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry as a freelance accountant for several international law firms. She now operates her own accounting firm in the Washington, DC area, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and two terrible dogs. When not preparing taxes, she is busy penning her next novel.

Author of many short stories, Pavarti spans genres from horror and erotica all the way to fantasy.

Her blog is all ages. Her tumblr is 18+ only. Her Fan Page needs your likes. 
Her Twitter likes friends. Her Google+ is random.  

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Pavarti. Please tell us about your current release.
Recai Osman: Muslim, philosopher, billionaire and Superhero?

Controversial and daring, Shadow on the Wall details the transformation of Recai Osman from complicated man to Superhero. Forced to witness the cruelty of the Morality Police in his home city of Elih, Turkey, Recai is called upon by the power of the desert to be the vehicle of change. Does he have the strength to answer Allah's call or will his dark past and self doubt stand in his way?

Pulling on his faith in Allah, the friendship of a Jewish father-figure and a deeply held belief that his people deserve better, Recai Osman must become The SandStorm.

In the tradition of books by Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, Shadow on the Wall tackles issues of religion, gender, corruption and the basic human condition. Beautiful and challenging, this is not a book to miss.

What inspired you to write this book?
Our civilization is at a breaking point. People are taking sides and oppression is closing in on all of us. From religion to politics to the general cultural climate it seems everyone is on high alert. In my experience though, people – average, everyday people – are not so different from each other. Perhaps writing such a dark story is my call to action; this is the nightmare waiting for us at the end of the tunnel. What will it take for each of us to stand up for what we believe in? Recai has a calling, a mission. He is given his path. We are not. When faced with a choice between oppression and freedom, between standing up for someone else or sitting back and watching the sky fall, what will you do? Will you choose to live like Maryam, seeing the good in people and finding a way to make the world better? I hope so.

Excerpt from Shadow on the Wall: 
Recai walked for what seemed like miles, resisting the instinct to second-guess his direction. The sand moved between his toes but soon he found his footing, and his body responded to the landscape as if from some genetic memory. He remembered his father’s words from a trip he took to the Oman desert as a child: Never take your shoes off; the sand will eat away at your feet. Recai had done it anyway, then and now, feeling more in control with that connection to the ground, its movements speaking to his flesh directly.

His father had always been full of surprises: one moment the strict disciplinarian, the next, he would wake Recai in the middle of the night to see a falling star. Recai had never had the chance to get to know him as an adult. Instead, he lived with the enigmatic memory of a great man lost.

Recai stood in the middle of the desert—every direction would eventually lead to Elih or one of the smaller villages scattered around the city. But who would take in a stranger? A stranger with a Hugo Boss turban and a bruised and bloodied face? In’shallah, he would be delivered to safety.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have a few new projects coming up.  In June Two Moons of Sera Volume Three will be realeased.  Volumes 1 and 2 have done very well and I've been very excited to have so many readers following along for the adventure.  After that, I have two projects I'm toying with.  DEVOUR is a zombie tome and Heaven's Vault will be a supernatural romance… kind of… At least one of them should be realeased in 2012.  After I've exorcised those I'm planning on working on Prisoner's of the Wind, Book 2 in The SandStorm Chronicles.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In 4th grade I won a writing contest for a short story I wrote about vampires. I think my fate was sealed then, although I never really thought of it that way.  In high school, I wrote some, but mostly just because the fantastic fella I was dating did. His stories were always so much better than mine but I enjoyed writing and always stayed with it. In college, I studied theatre and instead of writing my own work, I advised playwrights and worked with actors. About two years ago, I re-found writing and put together some projects I really enjoyed. Now that I am in the process of publishing it's exciting and fun. I never really imagined myself a publisher, but now I'm finding it natural to take the story from conception all the way to birth.

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 every day to some degree or another. I'm a tax accountant so my crazy season is just winding down.  During the rest of the year I do freelance financial consulting and work at Novel Publicity as the Director of Marketing. Spliced in I also substitute at my daughters' school, teach creative writing, blog, raise 2 girls, have a child on the autism spectrum and sometimes pretend to clean the house.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write in layers, I pound out the basics and then go over it at least 6 times before I consider it a first draft. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The president. :)  I know better now!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Shadow on the Wall is set in Elih Turkey. It is a real place, although it's nothing like the fictional city I created. When I set out to write a story set in the Middle East I looked at maps and wanted somewhere ripe with history and culture but not in the current crosshairs. Turkey is positioned between Europe and the Middle East, populated by Muslims, Jews and Christians and has a historical conflict between the Turks, Arabs and Kurds living there. It was the ideal location.

While Shadow touches on issues relevant in the world today, I didn’t want to write another post 9-11 story about the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Turkey was a good solution because it is rich in culture, plus Elih is the Kurdish name for the real city of Batman, Turkey. And when writing a superhero story, how could I resist setting it in Batman!

Great stuff, Pavarti! Thanks for being here and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing.

Readers, one randomly drawn commentor will win a $15 Amazon gift card at the end of Pavarti's virtual book tour. So comment below and visit her other stops - it's a short tour, so don't miss out! The more you comment, the more chances you have of winning!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Live chat/interview with poet Jennifer Militello

The Writer's Chatroom presents poet Jennifer Militello.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

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 Sign In. No password needed.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interview with paranormal author Rebecca Royce

Rebecca Royce is in the house today talking about the newest novel in her Westervelt Wolves series, Darkest Wolf.

Rebecca is giving away a $50 gift card to a lucky commentor. Details are after the interview. You know you want to comment, but first, read on!

As a teenager, Rebecca Royce would hide in her room to read her favorite romance novels when she was supposed to be doing her homework. She hopes, these days, that her parents think it was well worth it.

Rebecca is the mother of three adorable boys and is fortunate to be married to her best friend. They live in northern New Jersey and try not to freeze too badly during the winter months.

She's in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and tries to use all of these elements in her writing. She's been told she's a little bloodthirsty so she hopes that when you read her work you'll enjoy the action packed ride that always ends in romance. Rebecca loves to write series because she loves to see characters develop over time and it always makes her happy to see her favorite characters make guest appearances in other books.

In Rebecca Royce's world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.

Welcome, Rebecca. Please tell us about your current release.
Darkest Wolf is the seventh book in the Westervelt Wolves series.

Rex Kane has always known he was different than his brothers, down to the fact that when he shifts into his wolf form, his coat is completely black. Always in trouble, he is given one more chance by his brother Tristan, the alpha of the Westervelt pack, to bring back to their island a witch who can stop some of the magical assault that has plagued their war-torn home. Rex knows he has one last chance to set things right. Everything depends on him and he cannot fail.

Elizabeth Willow has been cursed to look so repulsive no human eyes can bear to view her. Raised in a gentle coven of witches, she is ill prepared for the realities of the harsh world she now lives in.

Raised to mistrust wolf-shifters as witch-killers, she cannot seem to help being drawn to Rex. Even if she doesn't believe she is his so-called mate. He can see her as she really is and is the first person to look her in the eyes in years. Although she is not naturally devious, she sees no choice but to use Rex to gain her own freedom and her family’s safety.

Together, Rex and Elizabeth will see just how evil the people around them can be. If they can trust their hearts, perhaps they will survive another night. If not, both of their battles will never be won.

What inspired you to write this book?
Well, the book fits into the Westervelt Wolves series as the seventh book. It developed over time as the series developed.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m writing the next book in my Outsider series.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I published my first book, Her Wolf.

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?
Yes. I write full time. I get up, take care of the kids, drop them at their various schools, and then I write until its time to pick them all up.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Most of my chapters are 13 pages. I don’t know why I do that.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A princess. LOL

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks so much for reading my books.

Thanks for being here, Rebecca. It's been a pleasure learning a bit about you and your writing.

Readers, Rebecca is giving away a $50 gift certificate to one randomly drawn commentor during the tour, so, feel free to comment here and on any of her other stops. The more you comment, the better chances you have of winning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interview with author Jo Sparkes

Today's guest is writer Jo Sparkes. Her new book is directed at writers, but a lot of people can relate to it. It's called Feedback: How to Give It,   How to Get It. A Writer's Guide to Spinning Gold.

Jo is currently on a virtual book tour, and has a $50 Amazon gift card on the table for a lucky commentor during the tour. So, comment below and on any of her other blog tour stops for a chance to win.

A well-known Century City Producer once said she "writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read." Jo's body of work includes scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, television commercials and corporate videos. She's been a feature writer on several websites, including Arizona Sports Fans Network (ASFN), where she was called their most popular writer, known for her humorous articles, player interviews and game coverage. Jo was unofficially the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he arrived in Arizona to play for the Cardinals. She has adjunct taught at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College.

She's currently teamed with a Producer on a low budget thriller, and a Director on a New Dramady.” When not diligently perfecting her craft, Jo can be found exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon, along with her husband Ian, and their dog Oscar.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Jo. Please tell us about your current release.
Feedback: How to Give It, How to Get It. A Writer's Guide to Spinning Gold is a process I had to find to survive being a writer. It's a short, simple tool to take any criticism – from  a boss, a spouse, a parent or family member, from life really – and transmute it down to the marvelous gems inside for you. And then for heavens sake release the rest.
What inspired you to write this book?
It came from a day in a college class I taught.

In the entertainment industry – really in the arts, I suppose – criticism is so difficult. I think it's because we wear our hearts on our sleeves, allowing the world to see inside of us. When a boss criticizes a computer program you wrote, it's usually not really personal. But with art it always feels that way.

The information needed to be shared.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I've got a television series pilot I'm hoping to persuade a great producer to do. I know he's tempted ...

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Before I could read, actually. I would sit with pen and paper, scribbling rubbish. I think I was the only first grader to try to edit Dick and Jane.

That's funny.

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?
Depends on how you define full time. It's feast or famine with me.

I do my best writing in the morning, starting around 5 a.m. If I'm writing a script for a video, I'll probably talk to the producer at a reasonable time, and do my research on the internet. Then I'll talk to the client when he/she is ready.

I have to have a morning to write before I send them the first draft. I could write all afternoon, working on a mere five minute piece, and then get up the next morning and in half an hour have thrown it out and come up with something much better.

Usually at that point I send it to the producer, and either it goes on to the client or we make changes first. The producer decides how each project is handled.

There's almost always one more iteration. The client and/or producer have some ideas, so we change the piece. I usually polish again in the morning.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Probably titles. Finding the name of a script or book is so very important.

I'll actually write down all the words that feel right in naming/describing it. I'll hit my Shakespeare references, famous quotes, and the thesaurus. I love it when that title leaps off the page, and you know it's exactly right.

There are times, however, when I only get closer, and never really feel I've arrived at the perfect title.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
So many things. I wanted to write, of course. I also wanted to be a physicist, like my dad. I wanted to be a singer – but let's just say I lacked the proper qualifications. 

I never wanted to be a teacher – and yet it turns out I love it. I enjoy editing, helping people. Helping artists forge their path.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just – to go for it. Whatever 'it' is – whatever your dream, your secret hope, the life you'd love to live. Find that first step and take it. Because it's only after that first step that second one can be taken.

Thanks, Jo. Great closing thoughts. Readers, don't forget to comment for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with historical fiction author A.C. Croom

Today's guest author is multipublished fiction author Arthur C. Croom (A.C. Croom). He's going to talk about his latest novel, The Guns of Lazarus Thorne, and more.

A.C. Croom is a published author of historical, western/frontier, and romantic fiction. His three current releases, a personal best for him, include: Delta Trails, a historical romantic fiction novel; Prophets Rest, a contemporary western fiction novella with just a touch of romance; and The Guns of Lazarus Thorne, a contemporary western fiction novel. All were accepted and published by Damnation Books and Eternal Press. Each are available in e-book and print on demand trade paperback through numerous outlets including,,,, and many others. Google "A.C. Croom" to find more outlets.

His upcoming western novel Showdown in Shadow Creek, is completely rewritten. It now includes material that initially was scheduled to be a sequel to the original novella, and releases the first week in May 2012. It was also accepted and will be published by Damnation Books / Eternal Press.

Another upcoming novel is more contemporary. Lessons Learned, is as hardcore with eroticism as it gets without crossing the line into pornography. The setting is modern day Miami, Florida. Elements of police drama, the BDSM underworld, and a burgeoning romance take the reader on a thrill ride they will be long in forgetting. The novel is set to release in September 2012 through Damnation Books.

His other published credits, (out of print), include the contemporary romantic short story “Kate’s Song”, a contemporary romantic novella sequel “Kate’s Song; Awakening” and his first western/frontier novella “Showdown In Shadow Creek”, all published by the now defunct Forbidden Publications.

A.C. proudly adds his talent to the website as “Texas Red” with occasional editorials and “How To” articles for outdoorsmen and prospectors.

Among his many and varied pursuits, A.C. is a Design Draftsman / Quality Control Manager for Western Tank Company, a musician, a recreational gold miner, member of the Gold Prospectors of America Association and avid outdoorsman. Recently he has joined others in the writers’ guild as member of Western Writers of America and member of The West Texas Writers Association.

He and his wife, Ann, reside in Odessa, Texas. Through almost 44 years of marriage, he and Ann have two children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His oldest grandson proudly serves our nation as a specialist in the U.S. Army.

A.C. has taken his love for the outdoors from weekend warrior to planned prospecting trips in the states of New Mexico and Alaska and uses his experiences as research for background material in the Western / Frontier genre. Gold mining is his hobby and writing books about the western way of life, as well as many other genre is his passion.

Visit his blog or look for him at for more insight into his books and life.

Welcome, A.C. Please tell us about your current release, The Guns of Lazarus Thorne.
We first meet Lazarus Thorne on the Shiloh battlefield facing his test of manhood for the first time. During the day long battle against Grant’s First Army, he confronts his many fears and earns his first gun by facing a young Union officer one on one as the battle rages around them both.

Afterwards, we follow Thorne as his journey takes him to the hill country of Texas as a ranch hand/cowboy, and into the mountains of Colorado where he meets and befriends a mountain man from Illinois. While deciding whether to travel on to Arizona or take the offer of a life as a trapper, they are attacked by Indians. The two win out and their decision is made for them. The pair leave hastily fearing reprisal from the Apache for the deaths of their attackers.

Thorne earns his second gun as he and his companion enter Three Wells Arizona. Lazarus is forced into a gunfight with a local drunkard and bully. The bully is killed outright and Thorne and his companion move onto a ranch inherited from an uncle. The two work that ranch for almost nine years before Hell breaks loose in the small community of Three Wells.

The streets of Three Wells, Arizona turn into a bloody battle ground as outlaws seem to come out of the very woodwork. Shootings leave the town bereft of law until United States Marshal Shay O’Hara steps in to restore order. He asks Lazarus Thorne to assume the role of lawman. Lazarus is torn between his duty as a man who has recently found himself in the role of father to an eight year old daughter he was never told about until the murder of the only woman he ever cared about, and facing the threat to Three Wells.

Will law be restored to Three Wells, or will the town become another Tombstone, with open bloodshed in the streets?

What inspired you to write this book?
Originally, I visited Tombstone and the OK Corral. It occurred to me that while Arizona was a Territory, there were numerous cities and towns that faced the same type lawlessness without the benefit of hired gunmen like the Earp brothers to clean up those towns. The story took on a life of its own. When I first had the idea, Thorne was supposed to be one of the bad guys who was convinced his guns were unbeatable. Luckily, another character drew that role and a fully fleshed novel wrote itself. I’m glad that it came out the way it did.

Readers should enjoy The Guns of Lazarus Thorne much more when they find it is far beyond the simple ‘shoot ‘em up’ Western.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Coming in May: Showdown in Shadow Creek

This is the story of gunfighter J.R. Bell and his wife Eve as they face Blood Feud to save the town of Shadow Creek, Oregon and themselves from the vengeance of a family seeking ‘Blood Justice’ for twenty-five years of imagined injustice from neighboring ranchers, lawmen willing to face their kin in open gunfights and other real, or imagined threats.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
To this day I do not consider myself a ‘writer.’ Rather, I consider myself a teller of interesting stories. I have made up stories since I was a young boy to entertain myself and others willing to sit still and listen. Most of that became more than real in 2006 with the release of my first e-book, ‘KATE’S SONG’. That little short story began my journey to where I am today.

What do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write when I can. I am lucky that I have a boss that lets me throw a few words into my stories while I work. I have a full time job as Design Draftsman / Quality Control Manager for an oil field related company in West Texas.

Between my job, writing, doing edits and marketing my books, I find time for married life, children, grand-children and my hobbies.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That’s a hard question. I guess the answer would be research. I have always been a history nut and I have traveled extensively in my sixty-two years to various areas that I use for back ground material. I practice what I write. I have been on a trail drive, a real one, not the kind weekenders pay for. I visit battlegrounds of the civil war. I use the internet to get the story behind the story. My most interesting quirk would be: If it doesn’t fit the story, I won’t write it in.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to build things. I wanted to design them and build them. I became exactly what I wanted to be. My early life I was a metal fabricator building what others designed. I graduated into my perfect profession. Now I design things and find ways to get them built. I guess you could say my writing fell right into line with my ambition. After all, you have to build a world, design your characters, fabricate a plot that works and satisfy the customer.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Only one thing left to say: If you can dream it, you can do it! Dreamers, Dream; Writers, Write. Sometimes the two become one. I’ve been a lucky man to see all my dreams come true.

Thanks, A.C. You're quite an inspiration with all your writing successes!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Interview with writers Peter Taylor and Jeremy Szteiter

Today we welcome Peter Taylor to talk about his collaboration with Jeremy Szteiter and their resulting book Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement.

Jeremy Szteiter is a 2009 graduate of the Critical and Creative Thinking program and now serves as the Program's Assistant Coordinator. His work has centered around community-based and adult education and has involved managing, developing, and teaching programs to lifelong learners, with an emphasis on a learning process that involves the teaching of others what has been learned and supporting the growth of individuals to become teachers of what they know.

Peter Taylor: I am a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where I direct the Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program. This program aims to provide its mid-career or career-changing students with "knowledge, tools, experience, and support so they can become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements, science, and creative arts."

The path to this position began in environmental and social activism in Australia which led to studies and research in ecology and agriculture. I moved to the United States to undertake doctoral studies in ecology, with a minor focus in what is now called science and technology studies (STS). Subsequently, I combined scientific investigations with interpretive inquiries from the different disciplines that make up STS, my goal being to make STS perspectives relevant to life and environmental students and scientists. Critical thinking and critical pedagogy/reflective practice became central to my intellectual and professional project as I encouraged students and researchers to contrast the paths taken in science, society, education with other paths that might be taken, and to foster their acting upon the insights gained. Bringing critical analysis of science to bear on the practice and applications of science has not been well developed or supported institutionally, and so I continue to contribute actively to new collaborations, programs, and other activities, new directions for existing programs, and collegial interactions across disciplines. My aspiration is to foster education that supports people to become resilient and reorganize their lives, communities, and economies in response to social, environmental changes. The book reflects more the critical pedagogy/reflective practice side of myself than the scientist.

Welcome, Peter. Please tell us about this new book.

The book started 25 years ago!  About 4 years ago Jeremy, my co-author who was then a student, started to help me convert my course handouts and associated wikipages into a book format. A break from teaching last fall gave me a chance to produce a publishable manuscript and move through the steps to self-publishing.

What inspired you to write this book?
Let’s ask: “What inspired me to teach in ways that ended up reflected in the book?” I think that creativity comes not out of individual inspiration, but from borrowing and connecting. The more items in your tool box—the more themes, heuristics (rules of thumb), and open questions you are working with—the more likely you are to make a new connection and see how things could be otherwise, that is, to be creative.  Yet, in order to build up a set of tools that works for you, it is necessary to experiment, take risks, and reflect on the outcomes. Such "reflective practice" is like a journey into unfamiliar or unknown areas—it involves risk, opens up questions, creates more experiences than can be integrated at first sight, requires support, and yields personal change. What has driven me to keep journeying in this way is hard to pin down.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A book that addresses issues that have been overlooked in the more than a century of heated nature-nurture (genes vs. environment) debates.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began to write seriously when in graduate school in the USA in the early 1980s. 

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 need to make space away from my cluttered desktop and all the tasks that come across the internet. I also need to (re)commit myself to writing and make time each day away from the “urgent” that eclipses the important. This works for a few months and then gets drowned by the challenges of supporting students in their life changes and running an unusual program in a public university in times of economic recession…

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not really a quirk, but I have 30+ years of 8.5 x 11 notebooks in which I have a dialogue with what I am listening to (in talks), what I am reading, and what I am hoping for.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronomer.  (Growing up in the country under the Southern hemisphere skies led me to ask the Big Questions about how it all got there and what came before.)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
This is the first publication of a new press, The Pumping Station. Established in 2011, this small publishing company was named after a 1980s discussion and dining group in Somerville and Cambridge (MA). The group was named in turn after an old Pumping Station on the Charles River in Waltham with a gesture to a quote by Henry Moore about one of his sculptures: “it had great drama with its big heart like a great pumping station.”

Any net revenue from book sales is directed towards future books and subsidies for participants in Workshops, especially Open Space Workshops on Scientific and Social Change, which run in ways that parallel the original Pumping Station discussion group. 

Peter, thank you for telling us so much about your book...and the additional information - that's a cool story for how the publishing house was named, and being a New Englander, it really jumps out at me.

Readers, you can find reviews and other interviews through Peter and Jeremy's tour schedule. Feel free to stop by the other blogs and say hello. Leave a comment and your email address here for a chance to win a PDF copy of Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Live chat/interview with novelist Karina Fabian

The Writer's Chatroom presents multi-genre novelist Karina Fabian


Sunday, April 22, 2012

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 Sign In. No password needed.

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Interview with novelist John J. Rust

Author John J. Rust is visiting us today to talk about his new novel, Dark Wings.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, John. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a native of New Jersey who graduated from Mercer County Community College and the College of Mt. St. Vincent with degrees in communications. For three-and-a-half years I worked for New Jersey 101.5 FM and WBUD-AM as a reporter and anchor. 

In 1996, I moved 2,300 miles to Arizona to work for KYCA-AM radio, where I am currently the sports director, play-by-play man for the Prescott High School Football Team, and co-host of a Saturday morning sports talk show. 

My hobbies include exercising, collecting T-shirts and ballcaps, studying history and trying to spread the word about European symphonic metal bands.

Please tell us about your current release.
My new book is called Dark Wings and fans of military science fiction and invasion stories will love it. Earth has been invaded by creatures that resemble the Mothman and the Jersey Devil, which interrupts the camping trip of Delta Force Major Jim Rhyne.  

Obviously, he doesn’t take too kindly to that, so he goes through occupied Kentucky battling the invaders. He doesn’t do it alone, though. Joining Jim is his sister, Valerie, a helicopter pilot with the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and his cousin Doug, who’s with the 101st Air Assault Division. They’re also joined later by an air national guard pilot who’s a “ladies man” and has eyes for Valerie, and what I like to call “mysterious allies.” I don’t want to give away where these allies come from, but it is connected to the invaders home world.  

Oh, and just to make life even more difficult for my main character, Jim is dealing with the recent death of his wife, which tends to influence his decisions throughout the story, especially when we get to the climactic battle.

What inspired you to write this book?
I love action!  I love alien invasion stories, and I love anything that involves the military, especially elite units. I also happen to be a cryptozoology buff, hence making the invaders resemble Mothman and the Jersey Devil, two of the more famous cryptids out there. It was a blast to incorporate part of their legends into this book, and to research some futuristic weapons systems that are twenty-some years down the line and throw them into my battle scenes.

What exciting story are you working on next?
It deals with a group of researchers and ex-soldiers who seek out mysterious creatures, again, going back to my interest in cryptozoology.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I was in high school. I wrote for the school newspaper and lit magazine. Outside of that, I wrote some little action/adventure stories involving elite combat units and superheroes. I loved being able to create my own worlds and my own characters, and that love is still with me, stronger than ever.

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?
My full-time job is with my radio station. Luckily, because of the hours I work – it’s not a 9 to 5 thing – I have several hours during the day I can devote to writing, usually in the afternoons before I have to go out and cover a game.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t do outlines. I just have the story in my head and write. I tried an outline once and got bored. Why am I writing an outline when I can write the actual story?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A baseball player with the Philadelphia Phillies. But since I have no athletic ability, that didn’t happen, so I opted for sports reporter. That I can do.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Dark Wings has a great blend of action, suspense, characters, and some soul-searching. Even though I’m dealing with first-rate soldiers, they’re still human. They have all sorts of issues they have to contend with, all the while fighting an enemy bent on conquering humanity. Actually, conquering is not the only thing these creatures want to do to us. You’ll see.

Thanks for being here today, John. You shared a lot of great information with us. I'm looking forward to your upcoming interview that is focused on your short story writing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Interview with debut novelist Christopher Profeta

Christopher Profeta is here today to talk about his debut novel Life in Pieces, being a stay-at-home-parent, and how writers can make a difference.

Chris teaches writing at Macomb Community College and Davenport University. He has had various works published in the Foliate Oak online literary magazine, one of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He attended school at Wayne State University where he was awarded two Loughead-Eldridge Scholarships in Creative Writing, and at Michigan State University where he was a winner of the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. He lives in Clawson, MI with his wife and two kids.

Welcome, Chris. Please tell us about your current release.
Life in Pieces tells the story of an unemployed stay-at-home-dad who wakes up one morning and reads the paper only to find out he is running for congress. The unlikely candidate's thoughts serve as a pointed satire of politics and the economy, as well as a moving love story about the strength and importance of family.

In the second "piece" of the story, Michael Langley, a college freshman, struggles to find his place in a new setting that doesn't make much sense to him. When he finally meets a group of friends that make him feel at home, he realizes that if he is to build a life with what might be the woman of his dreams, he'll have to give up everything he thought he ever wanted.

And somewhere, a crazy old man couldn't care less about either of these stories. This last "piece" follows two old lovers who have figured out a way to ignore the struggles of the world around them and be comforted only by their love as they reach the end of their earthly lives together, and resolve the conflicts of their past.

In Life in Pieces, all these stories come gracefully together to show that we are never too old to come of age.

What inspired you to write this book?
In 2010, there was a fairly big story here in Michigan about leaders in the state Democratic Party putting fake Tea Party candidates on the ballot to siphon votes away from Republicans. I read an article in the newspaper about a woman who recognized her name on the ballot, and I just thought it was pretty funny. That idea helped me put a lot of other things I was working on together into one larger story.

Life in Pieces isn’t an overtly political book, it’s actually almost anti-political. I personally go through periods where I’m overly interested and involved in what’s going on in the world, and I always end up feeling like there are more important things in life. That’s pretty much the main point of this book, and I felt like writing about a character who is almost literally forced to run for office was a great way to make that point.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Having just turned 30, Life in Pieces was three decades in the making. When I finished writing it, I remember saying to my wife, “This is everything I’ve wanted to say about everything for a long time.”  It addresses a lot of issues about family, getting married, having kids, but also the typical coming of age themes of finding yourself and your own identity, and it deals a lot with the plans we make and the goals we set for ourselves and how we get there.  In the end, I think the point Life in Pieces makes is that you can set all the goals you want, but life’s going to happen the way it wants no matter what. The only way to really be happy is to be willing to let go of yourself a little.

So in that sense, I’m too busy living an exciting life right now to know what exciting story to tell next.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I really don’t know if I even consider myself a writer yet. I’ve been writing for all of my adult life, but Life in Pieces is my first novel. I think that’s why so many of the characters in it are at the beginning of some big change in their lives, because that’s a lot of what I’m trying to work through as well. I mean, you have one character who has just gone off to college and is struggling to find his identity, make friends, and fall in love, another who has just gotten married and started a family, and yet another dealing with the loss of his wife and his family. All of these are major life changes that there’s no easy way of dealing with. In a way, I guess accepting the fact that you’ve become a writer is just as difficult.

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?
Like my main character in Life in Pieces, I am a stay at home dad. I teach writing classes on nights and weekends at a community college, but I consider my main job being a parent. Like the character in the book, it has been a struggle for me to find time to write while working at home and taking care of two kids, but I think that I’ve come to some of the same realizations that he does in the book. If my life wasn’t as stressful as it sometimes feels, I don’t think I’d like it as much as I do. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I go through a lot of the frustration and anger that this character does, I actually think it was a bit of a release for me to write him. But, overall, with this book, I’ve found a way to take that frustration and turn it into something positive.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
As a reader, I’ve always been a huge fan of stories that aren’t told in chronological order, or any kind of logical order really. Books where there are two or three, or more even, threads, and it isn’t until the end that the reader really gets any sense of how the all fit together. Any of the Jonathan Safran Foer or Nicole Krauss books are exactly what I’m talking about here, especially Nicole Krauss’s Great House.

That kind of disjointed storytelling is very intriguing to me, and that’s why Life in Pieces is told the way it is, in flashbacks and narrators that sometimes seem to overlap and sometimes seem to not be connected in any way at all. In the end though, the reader can see how it all adds up to one unified story, and to me that makes the climax even more emotional.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Two things. I always knew I wanted to write, and I always knew I wanted to be a parent. I remember starting college and not really caring if I was on the path to financial independence when I graduated so long as I was on the path to having a family of my own. Again, it’s interesting, to me anyway, probably not to anyone else, how those ideas kind of worked their way into some of the characters in Life in Pieces. A college kid without any real direction until he falls in love. A stay at home dad dealing with accepting the fact that he’s not ashamed of his socially unconventional role. These are universal ideas, but given current economic conditions, I think they are very timely as well.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’d like to pick up on this idea of the timeliness of Life in Pieces. Recently, to help promote the book, I sponsored a short story contest for stories dealing with issues of unemployment and economic hardship. The winners are posted on my website, but as I was reading these stories, I was reminded of the role writers can play in a world dealing with some of the issues that we are today. Authors may not be able to solve the economic problems we’re facing, but I think they play a big role in understanding them. 

Think about a lot of the writing out of the depression era, Grapes of Wrath comes to mind first, but there are hundreds of examples. I’m not comparing myself to John Steinbeck, I’m just saying that we sometimes overlook the importance of writers in making sense out of the nonsensical things that happen in the world every day. My hope is that after people read Life in Pieces they feel like they’re in a little better position to deal with the craziness of their lives.

Thank you for being here today, Chris, and sharing quite a bit about your debut novel. Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Interview with novelist Cait Lavender

Today's guest is novelist Cait Lavender. She's going to talk a bit about Hunter Moon, cowgirls, writing, and more.

Cait Lavender is a twenty-five year old wife and stay-at-home mother of one in Central California. Living on a cattle ranch and raising her daughter doesn’t afford her much leisure time, but when she has a spare minute or two she loves riding horses, baking, and reading everything she can get her hands on. She grew up loving the written word and creative writing and finally decided to work on her dream of becoming a published author.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Cait. Please tell us about your current release.
Hunter Moon is about a feisty cowgirl named Shelby Flint. She inherited a large cattle ranch and is doing everything she can to protect it from greedy cousins trying to steal it and a murderous drug grower who tries to sabotage her land. In the midst of all this is a devastatingly handsome game warden, Cash Newcomb, who drives her absolutely crazy in every sense of the word and is more than he seems.
What inspired you to write this book?
I have always wanted to write. Even as a child I embellished my autobiography assignment to make it more interesting! I have always heard, “write what you know.” And I’ve always loved the area where I grew up, Central California, and the cowboy lifestyle. Pairing that with my obsession with all things paranormal seemed like a natural thing to do.

What exciting story are you working on next? 
I am writing the first book in another series based in the same ‘world’ as the Lupine Moon series. It’s focused more on the darker aspects of that world; evil murderous witches, bloodthirsty demonic vampires. The main character is Elijah Payen, a direct descendant of an original Knight Templar, charged with the protection of mankind from the forces of evil. He meets Bree Winters, an unsuspecting college student in Portland, Oregon who gets swept into the nasty underworld by her best friend.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Honestly? It wasn’t until my first short story was published that I truly considered myself a writer. Before that I always considered myself “an aspiring writer”. It seems silly now though. You either aspire to write, or you do. There’s no in between. So all of you out there that haven’t been published but have a quarter or a half of a novel written, YOU’RE 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?
Writing full-time? That is the dream! However, I’m a stay-at-home mother of one very busy toddler so when I’m not chasing her frantically around the house I’m doing dishes or washing mountains of laundry. Most of my writing is done late at night after the munchkin has gone to bed. It’s not always easy to write consistently that way but it’s the only way I can get a good balance of wife and mother and writer.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmm...that’s a hard one. I would have to say that even in my own writing I don’t take myself too seriously. There’s always a snarky or sarcastic thread running through my stories, poking fun at myself, my characters, or the world. Close friends and family that have read my book even say that they can hear my droll tone of voice as they read. I figure as I continue to write I might be able to hide that and get serious. Maybe. Probably not.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I bounced around from nurse, jet pilot, volleyball coach, writer, teacher but most of all I wanted to be a mother. I really respected my mother, who stayed at home and raise my brother, sister and I and worked harder at it than anyone I knew. Now as a stay-at-home mother myself I really realize how hard it is, keeping up with all the balls you have in the air and not going crazy after folding the same pair of underwear for the millionth time.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I really just want to thank all of you from the very bottom of my heart. I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for your support and kind words. Every time I read a good review on Amazon or Goodreads I have to fight hard against tearing up! It means so much to me that you’ve read my books, enjoyed them and maybe even had a laugh. My goal has always been to create a world you can escape to that will make your day brighter and I hope I have achieved that for you. 

It's been a pleasure getting to know a bit about you and your writing, Cait. Happy (writing) trails!

Readers, Cait is giving away a copy of her e-book at every tour stop - so comment here and at any/all of her other stops for a chance to win!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interview with writer Acacia Slaton Beumer

Today's guest is Acacia Slaton Beumer to talk about her book Launch Out Into the Deep, which includes poetry by Aaron L. Slaton.

Acacia Slaton Beumer is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. She is a member of Chi Sigma Lota (Counseling Honor Society) and will graduate with a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy during the summer of 2012. She works in the Social Service field and finds a sense of joy from helping others. Her husband, John, is in the United States Army. She has two daughters; Jana is 3 years old and Jaci is 1.

Aaron Slaton is the author of the poetry and one chapter featured in this book. Writing since the age of twelve, Aaron has been gifted with the ability to bring the Scriptures to life through rhythm and rhyme. Aaron is an aspiring songwriter and producer. If you're interested in contacting Aaron email him at

Welcome, Acacia. Please tell us about your current release.
Launch Out Into The Deep is a devotional that has topics that will appeal to men, women, and especially teens.  

The book is contemporary and takes a modern day approach in its focus on common topics and issues for which many people are seeking solutions. The book has a unique format which is unlike any presently on the market. For instance, after covering an important topic, each chapter ends with a Selah (scripture verse), Words of The Wise (quotes from common and famous people) and a poem that reiterates the message in a meaningful and powerful way. Then, each chapter has a discussion guide that is applicable for personal and/or group study. All of these components are powerful and certain to resonate within the reader’s heart and will help them to understand and believe what it is that they’ve gotten from reading the book.

What inspired you to write this book? 
Lisa, I was inspired to write Launch Out Into The Deep while working at a psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. It concerned me that so many young people were disconnected and had very little knowledge of God. I witnessed the impact this book had upon the young people who took the time to check it out. I can recall one young man saying, “You mean to tell me these kinds of issues are in the Bible?” I smiled and said, “Of course it is!”  He looked puzzled and said, “I never really understood the Bible and never knew it was relatable to things I’m going through.” 

What exciting story are you working on next? 
Hmmm, Nada- I’m in graduate school and so all I write are research papers, but I do hope to get back into the groove when I graduate this summer. (I can’t wait!)

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
Lol, when I published Launch Out Into The Deep and read the reviews on Amazon. I have always had very little confidence in my writing ability. I must admit I was content in writing hours at a time when I was a kid but just never took myself seriously. I was always looking for feedback from family members and friends. “Read this, what do you think?” I guess that part hasn’t changed, as I still very much interested in what readers have to say rather it’s positive or negative. Oh, how I love positive! But I am willing to learn and improve from the critical assessments.

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. Presently, I am working on an internship at a psychiatric hospital in order to meet degree requirements.  When I am not at the internship site, you’ll find me at home with my kids (Jana 3 and Jaci 1), or on the Internet researching and finding creative ways to market my book.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
I need to have alone time and be in a completely quiet room with no distractions. It probably shouldn’t be surprising that most of my writing occurs at night while everyone else is asleep. Hint, Hint its 1:30 a.m. at the time of this writing (smile).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted a career in broadcast journalism. I envisioned myself being an Anchor woman. When I was about 9 years old I’d get my recorder and record voices or quotes from my favorite movies. Then, I’d replay them over and over again until I was able to sound identical to the actor (enunciation and all).

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, I’d like to share a quote I recently read in a daily devotional by Joyce Myers. I believe it’s applicable and relatable to most.

"Making mistakes is not the end of the world. We can recover from most mistakes. But one of the few mistakes we cannot recover from is the mistake of never being willing to make one in the first place! God works through our faith, not our fear." -Joyce Myers

Thanks for the interview, Lisa!

You're quite welcome, Acacia. It's a pleasure to have you here today and to learn a bit about you and your writing.
Readers, Acacia is giving away a $50 Visa Gift Card to one commenter from tour, so add a comment below and at any of the other stops along Acacia's VBT.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Interview with debut sci-fi author Leah Petersen

Today, Reviews and Interviews is the first stop of Leah Petersen's virtual book tour for her book Fighting Gravity. Round of applause for everyone for today's kickoff. Woo hoo!

Leah has at least one giveaway to a lucky commentor during her tour. Details are at the end of the interview. 

Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing.

Fighting Gravity is her first novel.

Welcome, Leah. Please tell us about your current release.
Fighting Gravity is a science fiction love story. I always hate this question because I tend to get verbose. How about the back cover copy instead:

When Jacob Dawes is Selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely, and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.
What inspired you to write this book?
The story itself. There’s always one in my head somewhere but this one would. not. go. away. I figured writing it was the way to purge it from my system. What came out of that cleansing exercise was actually readable and something I wanted to share.

What exciting story are you working on next?
When I’m being good I’m working on the sequel to Fighting Gravity. When I’m not, there’s always some story of science or magic and tragic characters trying to become next in line.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m a writer? Actually, I don’t know. Perhaps it was when I started trying to get my book published. Publishers generally expect you to be a writer, if you’re trying to sell your book.

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. My alternate identity has an accounting job. Unglamorous, but I enjoy it and its 9-5ishness. I also have kids, and a husband. I find time to write by having very low standards when it comes to domesticity, and not having many friends. Less demands on my time. ;)
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I get stuck I go for a drive. An hour or two on a boring stretch of interstate can fix most small problems, the bigger ones I might need to plan to stay overnight at the other end.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t remember. A princess, probably. Well, queen. Empress, really. It’s not that I like responsibility, I just don’t like being told what to do.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I once knit a spaceship for a friend. My husband still swears the finished product was a brontosaurus, though. 

You're funny. :) Thanks for being here, Leah. I'm happy to be the kickoff for your tour.

Readers, Leah will be giving away at least one (possibly more) hand-knitted by her replicas of the symbol of the IIC (an important institution in the book) to randomly drawn commenters during the tour. So, comment here and leave your e-mail address, or at any of Leah's other tour stops for the next few weeks, for a chance to win.