Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Disappearing in Plain Sight by Francis L. Guenette

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Disappearing in Plain SightDisappearing in Plain Sight by Francis L. Guenette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I didn't like. There are still quite a few unanswered questions from the book. I am not sure if this was intentional for the readers to think or if these will be answered in another book.
Did you find that the cover and title represented what the story was really about? Absolutely. We expect our problems and grief to disappear but when we run away from them, they only disappear in plain sight but not permanently.
What did you think of the story structure? The story flowed perfectly. The reader is never distracted from too many characters or the strong emotions they feel.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

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Author Interview – David Desmond

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Oliver Booth wants nothing more than to become part of the rich and famous “in” crowd. There are a lot of people out there today who want that same thing. What drives people to want this? Do they get what they bargained for once they get there? Insecurity. It’s really that simple. Rather than make an effort to get to the root of one’s dissatisfaction with oneself and one’s life, many people instead opt for superficial status symbols. You know, they buy a Bentley, they join the “right” club, they marry a trophy wife. The most extreme example, of course, is plastic surgery, but the superficial trappings of status and financial security will never lead to inner happiness. I mean, what’s the point of buying a Lamborghini in Palm Beach when the speed limit is 30 miles per hour? Essentially, this is a community of people with too much money and too much free time who are trying to impress others who just can’t be impressed.

I love how some of the names in your books are a double-edged sword, like Dudley Drane, who heads up the self-help seminars at Morningwood, or Dot Chillingsworth, who is on the Goiter Gala committee. Did you consciously develop character names to signify something? I can’t recall ever having made a conscious effort to come up with a name for a character, despite the fact that they’re very important to me. They just seem to spring into my mind and only later on do I figure out their significance. Take the name Oliver Booth, for example. As best I can determine, my selection of a name with the letter “O” in three places was probably influenced by Oliver’s portly physique, and those letters also could hint at the number zero and perhaps his absence of character and substance.

How do you stay inspired as an author? The answer is both very simple and very complicated. The secret is to live life. It can only be through living life to the fullest that an author can continue to evolve as a person and thus as a writer.

Where can we find you on the Internet? Please visit me at


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Genre – Fiction / Humour

Rating – PG

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Author Interview – Francis L Guenette

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How has your upbringing influenced your writing? I spent all my growing up years observing my mother as she went about trying to write a novel. She never made it with the novel, but she did publish some great short stories. In the face of much adversity, at a core level, she always identified herself as a writer. She had a great influence on me.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I always wrote, from your typical grade school short stories, right through all my years of education. As I got older, all of that writing was in the form of articles and essays. Disappearing in Plain Sight is my inaugural entrance into the art of fiction writing, and I love it.

When and why did you begin writing? I was working as a researcher and sessional instructor at the University of Victoria. I was also supposed to be finishing my content candidacy paper for my PhD. I came home for the summer and started writing Disappearing in Plain Sight. The more everyone around me (including my own inner voice) harped on about my need to get on with my PhD, the more I worked on the novel. I think that my subconscious was certain I needed to radically change what I was doing and in order to get my attention, it produced this novel.

How long have you been writing? Disappearing in Plain Sight has taken about four years to make it from seedling ideas to published book. I ran into a few roadblocks before I could make a commitment to move the book to completion. Life does happen.

When did you first know you could be a writer? I came to fiction writing with strong academic credentials, but I didn’t really believe I could succeed at writing a novel until two or three drafts into Disappearing in Plain Sight. I had sent the whole thing out to be read by a couple of people I knew I could trust to give me kind but honest feedback. When they spoke about loving the characters and feeling real emotional investment, I began to believe I could do be a person who wrote a sellable novel.

What inspires you to write and why?

I had these little seeds of ideas – what if stuff. What if these sorts of characters, in this sort of setting, found themselves experiencing these sorts of situation? After those seed ideas took hold, I couldn’t stop. The story had to be told.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I don’t want to say I’m more comfortable in one genre or another. I write and after I wrote I was required to choose a place for my book to dwell. I chose contemporary, literary, fiction plus romance because I wrote the type of book where the reader gets to dive into the character’s thoughts and motivations and love is one of the many themes. The whole issue of genre really irks me. A book runs the risk of being pigeon-holed before the reader ever gets a chance to take a look.


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Genre - Contemporary Fiction / Literary Romance

Rating – PG13

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Author Interview – Patti Larsen

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How has your upbringing influenced your writing? I was a nerdy, geekgirl with a terrible self esteem. I lived in my head, with my characters from such a young age, it was more real to write and engage with the people of my imaginings than those in the real world.

With two extrovert sisters and a very charismatic mother, it was hard to be the quiet, melancholy one. Though I am very grateful for my geekiness now. And, as they say, trial and pain make better writing. I’m just glad the dark stuff is behind me, if not the nerdadge.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I had never read any young adult before, raised on hard-core sci-fi and fantasy thanks to my father. But when a friend handed me a Nancy Drew mystery, I read it in two hours. Literally closed the book, looked up from it and told my parents I was going to write a book of my own.

What inspires you to write and why? My husband always tries to shush me when I say this out loud, but I ignore him. I don’t care if it sounds nuts. I hear voices. Loud and clear, badgering me almost constantly to tell their stories. Teenagers, mostly. Bossy bunch. But I wouldn’t give them up for anything.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? I have some adult and middle grade books in the pipeline, but for some reason my inner teenagers are the loudest. And until they decide their stories are told, I’ll be focusing on them.

What inspired you to write your first book? I had just finished the last book of the Harry Potter series, coming to the realization I needed to be writing novels again after many years dabbling in screenwriting and other forms of creativity. I asked the Universe—basically my subconscious—for an idea. And I woke in the middle of the night, about 2:30 am, with a girl’s voice in my head. She prodded me to get up and wouldn’t let me rest until I did. She had me write the following: My mom’s a witch, my dad’s a demon and I just want to be ordinary. I’ve been writing about Sydlynn Hayle and her crazy family ever since.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons in my youth, starting at about age nine. So living/breathing/dreaming in the worlds my father and others built around our characters was a huge influence. I also found a great deal of inspiration from reading about history, taking classics courses, studying ancient Greece and Egypt.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? None of it. I love what I do so much. From finding the core idea to developing an outline, writing and editing and all the things in between. Just. Awesome.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? That I was good enough. I’d always doubted, was told I wasn’t ready. But when I wrote Family Magic, when I heard Syd so clearly and the book poured out of me as though she was writing it, not me, I knew then I’d finally reached the point I could do this for a living.

Do you intend to make writing a career? Yes, I already am. I’ve been happily writing full time as my only job for three years now.

About Patti Larsen: You’re not looking for my polished bio, huh? You sure you want more? The real dirty, down deep, nitty gritty? Fair enough. Here goes: I’m a card-carrying nerd. It’s taken years to admit it. I’m also a hermit in a writing basement who prefers solitude to people (cats always welcome). I’m a writing fiend who hears the voices of teenagers and blushes at the S-E-X parts. I don’t sleep very well. Ever. My mind is too busy. I am a feline loving married woman who could easily end up a crazy cat lady if my husband would let me. I am a paradigm shifter, a believer in self and my own personal power. I see everything in black and white until the gray is explained to me. I am a fiercely loyal friend, a confidant and a Tarot card reader and intuitive. I am a proud roller derby girl, a total dweeb and can’t dance to save my soul. I am terrified of heights and challenge that fear every chance I get. Oh, and I’m the Creator. The Queen of my own Destiny. I love that.

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Genre – YA Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Author Interview – George A Bernstein

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What writing are you most proud of? I think the response I’ve had, with over forty 5-Star & 4-Star reviews (many from professional reviewers and book clubs) for my first novel, Trapped. Not just that they loved the story… that they couldn’t put it down (one reader wrote me she couldn’t get her housework done, another that she read the ending THREE TIMES, she loved it so much)… but the frequent complements on how well I write. There are many reviews citing how they loved the way I describe and build the characters, how I drew them into her love and her terror. One reader I know said, “I want to marry Kevin,” and she’s a married woman. It’s wonderful to feel so validated about the real quality of your writing… not just your ability to tell a story.

What’s the hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? How about all of the above? Well, not so much writing. That generally comes pretty easily for me, once started. But it took 22 years to get my first novel, Trapped, published, and that only happened after I won TAG Publishers “Next Great American Novel” Contest. Prior to that, I had probably 80 rejections from agents and editors. Small potatoes, compared to someone like Louis L’Amour (Americas greatest Western Writer, with 89 novels published), who was reputedly rejected 350 times! But it’s still not easy to get conventionally published. Agents really aren’t interested in you unless you’ve got a track record, and that becomes the classic Chicken or the Egg quandary.

Marketing is tough, because most of us are writers, not publicists. It’s hard work to develop the experience and skill to market your work, and publishers do next to nothing to help. My first novel, Trapped, has had Best Seller review response, and in fact, did jump into the Amazon Top 100 in November, 2012. Still, sales aren’t reflecting the praises it’s received, and it’s a struggle to get public recognition. Readers may leave reviews at Amazon and Goodreads, where it also has loads of 4 and 5-Star reviews, but until they start pushing it on Facebook, Twitter, etc., sales aren’t keeping up with those praises.

How often do you write, and when do you write? When I’m into a novel, I usually write even day for a few hours, at least. I prefer writing in the morning, after breakfast. That’s when I seem to be most creative. When I’m in a “zone,” I’ll often write past lunch-time, without stopping. I’ll keep going until I’m too hungry to think.

I use the afternoons for editing and story review, and follow-up on any other projects I may have underway at the time. Then I need some time with my wife and the rest of the family.

Do you have any advice for writers? As I said earlier, learn the craft. Don’t think, because friends tell you how good you are, that you’re ready to be a published author. In the world of self-publishing, and especially now with little or no expense to publish an e-book with Kindle or Smashwords, there is a lot of poorly written stuff out there. If yours is one of those, it will cloud your reputation in the future.

Again, there are few better places a neophyte, or even an experienced writer, can get expert help than by attending good writers conferences. Many are attended by agents and editors to whom you can pitch your story. But understand, very few authors are actual signed at these conferences. Agents have admitted they go more to network with their peers than find a hidden gem. The main thing is attend the writing classes. You’ll find more than you’ll have time for, including sessions about promoting your work, and how to query agents and editors. There’s a lot to learn about what makes good ACCEPTABLE writing, and you aren’t going to discover it on your own.

And finally, write because you love it. The odds of making a real living as a novelist are minimal at best. Non-fiction authors , with a real platform and strong bona fides, have a much better chance at making money at writing… if they put in the work they need to promote themselves. And you need to be lucky.

How do you feel about self-publishing? Self-publishing today gives the debut author a never before opportunity to get recognized. As I’ve said, you have little chance to be taken on by a literary agent or book publisher. Most large presses won’t even accept submissions from unagented authors. Then there are the smaller, indie presses that mostly rely on those who can’t make it with agents or big publishers. And of course, there are the vanity and POD publishers, whose only requirements are that you can pay their fees.

And that’s the major problem with much of self-publishing. For print, the POD publisher will accept whatever you send them, as long as it’s properly formatted. They make their money from fees they charge you for formatting, cover design, printing and distribution. Actual book sale (other than those sold directly to the author) provide very little of their gross income, and the typical self-published book rarely sells even 100 copies. Of course, you can avoid much of the out-of-pocket expense by only e-publishing with Kindle, Smashwords, etc., but the results are usually the same.

Too few self-published authors spend the time and money to really learn the skill, and for professional  editors, and their work shows it. Critique groups can help, but are no substitute for a professional. Nor do these authors often work with experience graphic artists on cover design. And that’s why self-publishing has acquired a shady reputation. For many, I think being able to say they are a “published author” is the end game, and that’s okay, if that’s all you seek.


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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

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Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior by Multiple Authors

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Change Finds You

by Cara Michaels

“The date of record is October thirtieth, two-thousand-twelve. This is Special Agent Everett Benjamin.”

The voice drew my attention from the digital voice recorder resting on the table. The red recording light assured everyone observing that my words would be captured for all time, with “all time” defined as “until the Gemini Group buried the story”. At best, anything I said today would end up in a heavily redacted report buried in some government archive. Hadn’t stopped me from trying to get the word out, though. No, the FBI could take credit there. Getting nabbed at a convenience store just proved I’d never been intended for the undercover life. I’d only lasted two months on the official run.

“For the record, please state your name.” The special agent sitting across from me held an air of comfortable superiority. As homegrown investigative organizations rated, he still believed his FBI sat at the top of the food chain.

How sweet.

“Dr. Savannah Welborn.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” For a tough FBI guy, he had a nice voice. Kind of deep, kind of mellow.

The pen held between his index and middle fingers drummed an uneven, impatient beat. The air conditioning kicked on, a background hum of recycled air smelling faintly of paper and dust. Like the room needed to be colder. What brainless desk jockey thought hypothermia contributed to productivity? The beds of my fingernails had turned blue some fifteen minutes of waiting ago. My body had already forgotten how it felt to be warm. Inside, outside, and everywhere in between. I ground my teeth to hold in a shiver.

“Not a problem, Agent Benjamin,” I said. I even flashed my gritted teeth as I smiled. Just call me Doctor Cooperative.

His gaze slid over my Celldweller concert tee. Beneath the table, worn blue jeans allowed refrigerated air to sneak in at the torn knees. Like I needed his visual disdain to tell me I was way underdressed for a federal interrogation. They didn’t do anything without a tie or stockings.

At least my feet stayed warm in socks and sneakers.

“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t get apprehended in my Sunday best. I’ll try harder next time.”

His lips pinched, biting down on whatever he wanted to say and emphasizing his stern features. Add a sense of humor and strip away the premature aging of his job, and I put him in his early thirties, maybe. Salt dashed his black pepper hair, the cut military short.

“You understand why you’re here, yes?” he asked.

“I can play stupid if you’d prefer to explain it for the viewers at home.” I gestured to the large mirror dominating the end of the room on my left.

Benjamin clenched his teeth, let out a slow breath.

“You’ve been charged with obstruction of an ongoing investigation, as well as aiding and abetting the vigilante organization known as the Paladins.”

He made a good show of flipping through a manila folder stuffed with evidence. Of my so-called crimes, no doubt. My actions over the last several years tied me to the Paladins and — if one knew where to look — to the Gemini Group who had unintentionally created them. I’d built the Gemini Group, created the experiments, written the procedures. I’d documented its transition into a monster as the sons and daughters of my trial groups grew and revealed the changes in their genetic codes.

The cells made to save their parents had resulted in unexpected, even terrifying mutations. A woman with Ehler Danlos Syndrome gave birth to a daughter who could dislocate and reshape her bones and body at will. A man with early-onset Alzheimer’s fathered a child with eidetic memory. A treatment for severe hypothermia resulted in a son with extreme cold tolerance, who could manipulate the temperature around him, and even generate ice from the water in the air.

In short, my efforts to cure disease created superhumans.

But Karen Gemini, the reason any of my work had been possible, accused me of using her to play God.

She had it right, maybe. At least in the beginning.

Like a proud parent, I’d been thrilled by these gifted children. But like regular humans, they came in all shades of good, bad, and indifferent. Some made an effort to use their unique abilities to help the world around them. The public had taken to calling them the Paladins, and it suited them. Honorable, fierce, and steadfast in the face of a world turning on them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Karen Gemini gathered the blackest souls to her bosom, a nightmare brood poised to unleash hell on earth.

The FBI and Agent Benjamin might not yet realize it, but the Paladins stood in the way of gathering darkness. And as the woman whose research had started all of this, I stood to shield the Paladins.

If Benjamin meant to intimidate me, he needed a new strategy.

Go ahead, Agent Benjamin. Take me down. This is so much bigger than you know.

“Dr. Welborn?” Benjamin’s gaze, his eyes an eerie amber-orange, fixed on me.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Did you want me to deny the allegations? For dramatic effect?”

He turned away, but not before I saw him grimace. Aw, did my attitude hurt his career advancement opportunities? Tough shit.

He needed to toughen up his poker face for this job.

I’d stepped into sharky waters with open eyes. I’d known the risks of siding with the Paladins. Of siding against Gemini.

I smiled.

He rolled his eyes, tension visible along his jaw. “Belligerent charm. Does that work for you often?”

“What do you want from me here, Agent?”

“Names. Aliases. Addresses. We want the Paladin operation.”

I laughed. Not a polite titter, but a snort of disbelief. “Sorry to say, but you’re doomed to disappointment.”


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Genre - Short Story Anthology

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Author Interview – Harriet Hodgson

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What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing? I’ve been on approximately 160 radio talk shows over the years, and dozens of television stations, including CNN.

What are your goals as a writer? The answer to this question comes from a local reporter, who said in an article about me, “Harriet Hodgson writes books to help people.”

Whether I’m writing about aging, dementia, grief recovery, or fitness, this continues to be my goal. To educate people you have to entertain them, so I write in a conversational style and include funny stories about myself.

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? I would like to think I had helped people, continued to improve my work, and share some of the things  have learned.

Tell us a bit about your family. I have been married to my husband, a retired physician, for close to 56 years. He has made me a far better person and always encourages and supports my career.

What is your favorite quality about yourself? Persistence. A freelancer has to accept rejection, learn from it, and keep writing. After writing for more than 35 years I think persistence counts as much as talent.


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Genre – Health / Wellness

Rating – G

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Blood, Smoke and Ashes by Bradley Convissar

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Chapter 2

Michael Malone threw his briefcase onto the bed, kicked the loafers off his weary feet, shrugged his suit coat onto the floor, and began to undo the knot of his tie, which felt like it had been strangling him for the past hour.  Despite the massive amount of deodorant he had used that morning, and despite the undershirt he wore, he knew that he had sweated through to the pits of his powder blue dress shirt.  Just knowing that he would find large, saucer-sized stains under his arms when he got the shirt off made him feel dirty.  He rapidly undid the buttons down the front, popping a loose specimen onto the floor in his haste to get undressed.  He pulled off the shirt, peeled off the undershirt, and slid off his pants, all so rapidly that it appeared to be a single acrobatic motion.  Suddenly naked except for the black socks pulled up to his knees and a pair of plaid boxers, he moved in front of the nearest vent, which was furiously pumping out cold air to combat the perpetual dry heat of the desert.

God I hate Las Vegas, Michael thought as he slowly rotated in front of the frigid air like a rotisserie chicken.  Hot even in the god damn spring.  But he had little choice in the matter.  You went where the company sent you, and the company sent you to where the conventions were held, and every three years the largest dental convention in the country hosted their annual event in Vegas (this year it was at the Bellagio).  And since he was a senior regional sales rep for CoreGen, the company that had just developed the next generation dental implant that promised high success rates at a ridiculously low cost, he was expected to attend the event personally.  Of course, CoreGen was too cheap to put Michael and his three associates up at the Bellagio, so they were staying cross town at Treasure Island, which meant he actually had to go outside to get from his room to the convention.  At least there was storage space at the Bellagio for his equipment so he didn’t have to haul his products around town each day.

If he had learned one thing about dentists over the past ten years, besides the fact that he hated going to them, it was that they liked to play golf.  And party.  And gamble.  To that end, they cycled between Vegas, Cancun and The Bahamas every three years.  Michael preferred the more tropical destinations.  True, they were hot.  And humid.  But they were on fucking beaches, not in the middle of the fucking desert.  And in his mind, that made all the difference.

Thankfully, it was Saturday night and only one day of chaos remained.  Tomorrow night he would be on a plane winging his way back East, to his home, to his family, to familiar surroundings and more pleasant weather.  He much preferred to talk to doctors in one-on-one settings in their offices and in small groups at schools than deal with the frantic pace of a convention floor where the people he talked to tended to have the attention span of a three year old.  They stopped by, chatted for a minute or two, feigned interest in many cases, grabbed some pamphlets and free pens and candy, then moved onto the next vendor, looking for a better deal.  And more free stuff.  But being visible at these conventions was a necessary evil when competition was stiff, and truth be told, the company did sell a good amount of product most years, which made it worth the time and hassle. 

Michael looked at the clock on the end table next to the bed.  It was five-thirty.  He had made plans with the rest of the contingent from CoreGen to meet at the buffet downstairs at six-fifteen.  That gave him forty-five minutes to shower, dress and relax.  Not a whole lot of time, but enough.

He sat on the edge of his bed, pulled off his socks, then stood and dragged down his boxers.  Naked as the day he was born, but with quite a few more wrinkles and freckles and unsightly bulges, he made his way to the bathroom where the promise of a nice hot shower beckoned him.  He looked at himself in the mirror and grimaced at the man who looked back at him.  He swore that his already thinning brown hair had grown even sparser since he touched down in Vegas two days ago.  His brown eyes, normally wide and vibrant, were half closed, dark bags dangling underneath.  The muscles around his mouth were sore from all the smiling he had to do all day, resulting in a slight frown.  And his normally pale flesh had taken on an even paler cast from dehydration and exhaustion.  His body would rebound after the convention ended, but he hated what these events did to him.  They simply ran him ragged.  He stepped back from the mirror, patted the small paunch around his middle that he had developed over the past several years, and sighed.  It wasn’t as bad as what many men his age carried around, certainly not a full spare tire, but it wasn’t something he was proud of.  As he leaned into the shower and turned on the water, he vowed to work out a little more and eat a little better when he got home. 

He put one foot in the shower, the gentle pounding of water on his aching foot feeling like heaven, when a phone rang in the main room.  It wasn’t the hotel phone.  It was a cell phone.  Not his personal cell phone and not his office cell phone, but the disposable cell phone he had bought yesterday morning upon arriving in the City of Sin.

He paused when he heard the ring, then pulled his foot from the shower and half hopped, half shambled to where he had dropped his jacket on the floor.  Fingers flying, he pulled all three phones from an inside pocket, then answered the one that was ringing.

“Brian,” a feminine voice purred from the other end.

“Uh, yeah, this is Brian,” Michael stammered, feeling instantly guilty and just plain awful about himself.

“Are we still on for tonight?”

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Genre – Thriller / Horror

Rating – PG13 bordering on R

(Horror with some violence / Some sex, not overly graphic)

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Darkest Lie by Angela Day

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             "I bet he escaped from the psych ward," Remi mused, fascinated by Thane's story. "He sounds like one of those savants, people who can do one thing better than anyone else on the planet but lack in their connection to reality." 

              They were at his locker in the school hallway during lunch, two days after Thane's mad dash to catch the bus and lightning strike. Remi had been glad to see him and drawn out everything that had happened since he left school on Monday, and he'd just finished telling her about Brennan Tayler. "Here's your backpack, Flash," Remi said, smacking him in the chest with it. Thane gave her a quizzical look, and she colored. "He's a comic book guy. Wears all red, runs so fast he's hard to see."  Thane kept looking at her until she punched his arm. "Cool people like comic books."

              "Sure," Thane said, smiling a little. It felt good to be doing something normal after the last few days. He stretched the fingers of his right hand, thinking about the hospital and Brennan again. 

              Remi noticed. "Let me see it?" Thane held out his previously injured knuckles for her and she stared at them like a jeweler inspecting a diamond. "There's nothing here. No bruising, no swelling, nothing. Are you sure you even hurt it?"

              "Yeah," Thane answered. "It was broken. He fixed it."

              "I wonder why," Remi mused, reaching out and taking his hand in both of hers.  Thane stiffened, unsure, but Remi was too deep in her thoughts to notice. She rubbed his knuckles with her thumb, trying to feel for any inconsistency. Thane felt his face going red and was about to pull away when something inside his hand moved.

              Remi froze-- she'd felt it too. Their eyes met over his hand. "What is that?" she asked him. He shrugged, pulling his hand out of hers to look at it himself. He pushed his finger down in the space between his second and third knuckles, and felt that same something hard roll away. It was so small he never would have noticed it on his own. He pulled his hand up to his eyes, and Remi stood on tiptoe to get a closer look. They both leaned in, trying to see any evidence of what they were feeling under Thane's skin.

              The bell rang, startling them both. Thane and Remi realized their faces were only inches apart, and sprang back. Snickers around them in the hallway let them know their display had not gone unnoticed.

              "New girlfriend, Thane?" Ben called from a few lockers down. 

              "You could do better, new girl," Jeran said, flexing his muscles. "I could show you a lot more than that weak loser." Thane's face colored, but Jeran walked off laughing with his buddies. Jeran was an entitled prick, the star of the second worst football team in the state. He wasn't smart enough to be the quarterback but as a wide receiver, you only had to get the ball somewhere near him and he would catch it. Tall and muscular, girls flocked around him and grownups loved to talk to him. Thane wanted to punch him hard enough to make it impossible for him to smirk for at least a week.

              "Don't worry about those idiots," Remi started, but Thane spun around and left her behind. From the moment Mr. Hoffman introduced them, Thane had failed at his one cardinal rule. When he was with Remi everybody saw him.

              Thane was one of the first into the room. Ms. Rasmussen didn't look up as he entered, engrossed in some magazine. He managed to slide onto his stool in the back row without exciting note or comment from anyone. He took out his notebook and pretended to read it as the rest of the class arrived in twos and threes. 

              Remi's voice, laughing and chatting, stabbed his ear and he couldn't help glancing up. She was walking in with Jeran, smiling at him and shaking her head so that her dark hair bounced. As they came in, Ms. Rasmussen's attention was diverted by Remi's giggle and she smugly observed them. "Know your way around now, sweetie?" she asked Remi in a satisfied voice. Remi gave her a half smile, but did not respond. Jeran flashed Ms. Rasmussen a grin calculated to charm, then turned to Thane and transformed it into a self-satisfied smirk.

              "Thanks, Jeran," Remi said, and walked back to sit with Thane. Jeran's face darkened as she walked away.

              "I found your girlfriend lost in the hall," Jeran swaggered down the aisle towards him, voice dripping with false sympathy. "I told her you were unstable." Thane was clenching his teeth, jaw taunt, and Jeran bent down in his face. "It's okay, loser. If your dad doesn't wake up, I'll take care of your hot mom, too."

              Music blossomed in Thane's mind as his fist connected with Jeran's jaw. There was a crunch and a sizzle and the smell of burnt flesh as Jeran fell backwards and the second bell rang. Jeran landed on the floor, as surprised by the sucker punch as Thane was. Jeran sprang back up, blood in his mouth and rage in his eyes and oddly, a bright burn on his jaw. He moved at Thane.

              "That is enough, Jeran!" Ms. Rasmussen snapped. Jeran hesitated, and then lunged for Thane. Ms. Rasmussen grabbed Jeran's shoulder and spun him around, her eyes flashing and her breath quick. "Get out of my class." 

              "What?" Jeran was stunned. "But Cressa--"

              "You will call me Ms. Rasmussen. Go to the nurse's office, then the principal's.  Now." Her voice had gotten softer, colder, and somehow so dark that Thane repressed a chill.

              Jeran crumbled. He fled from the room, the door banging as he ran through it. Ms. Rasmussen came to stand in front of Thane and rested the tips of her fingers on his arm. "Aren't you a hero for defending your mother's honor like that!" She was sweet, but her green eyes glowed with something Thane didn't recognize. Greed? Insanity? She tugged at his arm a little, and he stood up. "Why don't you come up here and take Jeran's seat? He won't be needing it."

              Thane obediently gathered his things and went with her to the front. Remi followed him. Ms. Rasmussen seemed delighted. She even clapped her hands to get the attention of the class, which was completely unnecessary as every eye was already on her.  

              "Change of plans today, everyone! We're going to be doing hands-on experiments instead of a quiz." Her announcement brightened the feeling in the room considerably. "Put away your books and keep out your notepads. You'll need to take good notes. Every team will need a Bunsen burner, a holding tray, one five hundred milliliter beaker, one hundred milliliter beaker, safety glasses for each of you, a thermometer, and a pair of tongs. We're going to talk about thermodynamics!" She seemed gleeful, as manic as Thane had ever seen her.  

              Thane got up and gathered the implements since Remi wouldn't know where they were. He felt awful for ditching her in the hall. Carefully holding as many of the implements as he could in his arms, he set them down gently on the table in front of Remi and spread them out. 

              "I stole his playbook," Remi whispered. Thane attached the Bunsen burner to the short tube that rose out of the center of their rectangular table. "I thought we could do some creative play changing."

              A rush of gratitude warmed Thane. Having a friend had perks. Ms. Rasmussen continued to give instructions.  "...and be sure, girls, to keep your hair away from the flames. I'll be around to make sure that the gas lines are connected. Place the holding tray about six inches above the flame and fill the larger beaker with water from the sink..." Remi grabbed the larger beaker and followed the line of students back to the sink. Soon all the students had their beaker of water in place on the holding tray and were turning the burners on, seeing the waving yellow and orange flame tighten into a straight blue and purple one. "Open the air hole to only about half, we don't want it fully on. We're just heating water."

              The lean, tall woman walked around the classroom checking each burner to ensure that the gas lines were attached correctly and the flames were high and hot enough. She came to Thane and Remi, bending to peer closely at their set up. "I think you need to lower your holding tray slightly," she instructed, and Thane made the adjustment. The corner of Ms. Rasmussen's mouth twitched, and then she moved on.

              Her foot slipped, the thin heel shooting into the air, and she flailed her arms. With one hand she grabbed the side of a table, and the other grabbed Thane's left arm, pulling his wrist directly across the open flame.

              "Argh!" Thane grunted, jerking his hand back. There was a shiny red mark along the underside of his wrist as wide as two fingers. He stared at it as his teacher regained her balance and turned to him.

              "Oh, Thane, I'm so sorry," she gushed. "Someone spilled some water on the floor and I slipped! Let me see it," and she jerked his arm towards her. Her green eyes studied the red welt for a slow heartbeat, and she appeared... pleased. But only for a moment. Her face was full of concern and contrition when she looked back at him. "It's not badly burned. Run cold water over it. As for the rest of you," she whirled to face the class, her beautiful features twisted in fierce and dangerous anger, "be more careful. This could have been a serious accident. If you spill any liquid, clean it up immediately. I could've broken my ankle and poor Thane," she looked down at him and her tone quieted, "poor Thane could have lost his hand. Well," she said, her voice returning to normal, "back to work, everyone."

              As the flames burned and the students adjusted their safety glasses, Ms. Rasmussen pulled a box off the shelf behind her desk. It was dusty, and she smiled and held it for a moment. Then she wiped it off and placed it on her desk. "In this box I have several pieces of Field's Metal. Has anyone ever heard of it?" She paused, but no hands went up. "It is a most impressive alloy. It's a non-toxic mixture of bismuth, tin, and indium. There are many alloys that melt at low temperatures, even though the metals they are mixed from require much higher temperatures to melt in their pure form. These low melting point metals are called fusible alloys."

              Several of the students were scribbling furiously, as Ms. Rasmussen was not writing on the board. Instead, her hands were resting on either side of the open box as she was intently watching the beaker and the flame in front of Remi and Thane. Remi was one of the desperate note takers-- Thane couldn't take his eyes away from the chemistry teacher, like a bird staring at a snake. His heart pounded against his chest and his palms felt sweaty. Something was wrong. 

              She reached her hand into the box and drew out what looked to be a silver straw. "Each of you will be given one of these Field's Metal wires. Place your thermometers into the water and the metal wire into your smaller empty beaker. Using the tongs, hold the smaller beaker partially submerged in the boiling water. Record at what temperature, both Fahrenheit and Celsius, the metal begins to melt. I will pass out molds to each team for you to pour your liquid metal into, and you will time how long it takes the metal to re-harden."

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Genre – New Adult Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Survivors by Daniel Harvell

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The Survivors

When seven strangers impossibly survive a horrific airplane crash, they find themselves changed in remarkable ways. The survivors are endowed with powers that defy explanation. Some are blessed. Some are cursed.

Going their separate ways, they adapt their extraordinary “gifts” to their ordinary lives. The results, however, aren’t always pretty — particularly when one of them engages in a killing spree. With little more to go on than the psychic link that they all share, the survivors seek out one another to uncover the murderer and bring him or her to justice.

The fireman, the grandmother, the psychiatric patient, the basketball player, the mute girl, the rich blonde, and the man in the wheelchair — they all have secrets worth hiding. They can’t trust each other. They can’t even trust themselves.

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Genre - Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Death Ain't But A Word: A Supernatural Hot Mess - Zander Marks

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Death Ain’t But A Word - Zander Marks

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Urban Fantasy

Rating -  PG13

4.4 (29 reviews)

Free until 31 July 2013

Just because Wilkin's a crackhead doesn't mean the shadows aren't real.
They're real. And they've been haunting him since he was seven years old. Mostly he ignores them.
But when the ghost of his best friend from childhood shows up at the local motel, Wilkin can't ignore the call of friendship. And when his friend's killer buys the motel so he can destroy the remains, Wilkin can't ignore that, either.
Wilkin steals his friend's skull before the killer can destroy it and is plunged into a hot mess of a supernatural thrill ride.
A death-race pursuit of a child's skull. A spirit-whispering trucker hauling plush toys to Kansas. Five demonic farm-kids in a housing project. A Dodge City marshal who executes wayward ghosts. A nasty yellow jersey that takes the joy out of living. And a graveyard full of snitches.
It's enough to make you want to hit the crackpipe. All leading to a climax where staying alive is the least of Wilkin's worries.
Because when most of the people around you are spirits anyway, DEATH AIN'T BUT A WORD.

Orangeberry Book of the Day – The Blackout by Stephanie Erickson

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The next morning Molly got up and went to class, prepared to hear the groans from her Modern Poetry class for their late papers.  She usually punished them with half a letter grade for every class they were late, but she wasn’t sure what to do to compensate for her own lateness.  She thought if she could come up with a few options, like having class in the garden one day or letting them pick the next poem to discuss, and let them choose, they’d be happy. 

Her other classes held better prospects.  She was excited because the day brought discussions about Gulliver’s Travels in British Literature, and The Poisonwood Bible in Modern Fiction.  Save for the groaning from Modern Poetry, she expected it to be a pretty good day. 

It happened in the middle of Modern Fiction.  A student had asked what point Kingsolver was trying to make by sacrificing the family’s youngest child. 

“What could possibly be worth killing such an innocent character?” she asked.

“Well, what do you think?  Do you think the father is so taken by his ‘mission’ to ‘save’ the heathens in the Congo that his youngest is a fair sacrifice, as you put it?  What’s one life if it saves a handful of others?”   Molly had just said it to spur the discussion.  She often made extreme statements in class just to stir the pot and get a good discussion going.

She sat cross-legged on top of her desk looking at the rows of students as hands shot into the air.  She smiled and surveyed their faces.  Their expressions ranged from angry to mischievous.  Molly picked one that seemed undecided.  “Mia, what do you think?”

Before she could answer, the lights went out.  It wasn’t really all that dark, because the back wall had several windows on it, and for that she was thankful. 

“Um…OK.  Just a second here, let me poke my head into the hall and see if I can find out what the deal is,” Molly said as she got down off the desk.

The students whispered to each other as she walked to the door.  “Settle down.  I’m sure it’s just a power surge, and it’ll be back on before I can even find out what happened.” 

“My phone doesn’t work.  Does yours?”  A boy in the front row asked his neighbor.

It caught Molly’s attention.  “Is your battery dead?” she asked.

“No.  I left home with a full charge.” 

Other students began retrieving their phones.  The consensus was unanimous.  No one’s phone worked.  Molly took her phone out of her pocket to see, and to her surprise, it displayed nothing but a black screen. 

She frowned and continued on her journey to the door.  “I’ll find out what’s going on.  Just stay calm,” Molly assured them.  They all looked worried.

Teachers were beginning to poke their heads out of their doors, making similar inquiries about the outage.  No one seemed to know what was going on.  Normally, there would be an announcement or some sort of directive about what to do, but they’d never encountered this type of outage before. 

Molly ran to her office to grab her laptop and returned to the classroom.  By then the kids were getting a little panicky, letting their imaginations run away with them. 

“Why would the power and our phones be out?  What could possibly cause something like that?”

“How long do you think it’ll be out?”

“My mom said she thinks the apocalypse is coming.  She said the signs are all there.”

Another student burst out laughing.  “Your mom is crazy.”

Molly interrupted before a fight could break out.  “OK, enough.  The power will probably be back on soon.  The school has an emergency generator that should kick in any minute now.  Just let me get my laptop going, and I’ll see if I can get some information about it.”

“Dr. Bonham, if the power’s out, will you be able to get online?”

By then, Molly had already gotten her computer out and was trying to get it powered up.  “Oh, that’s a good point.  Probably not.” 

Then she noticed nothing was happening with her computer.  She held the power button down, with no response.  She waited a few moments and tried again.  Still nothing. 

“What on Earth…” Molly muttered.

“What’s wrong?” 

“Um…I’m not sure.  I can’t get my computer to come on.” 

“What should we do?  Can we go home?”

“I don’t know about that either.  The stairwells are dark, I don’t want there to be a stampede.  Just give me a minute to think about the options.” 

They weren’t prepared for something like this.  They knew exactly what to do for a tornado, a fire alarm, or an earthquake.  But this was new territory. 

There really was no reason not to continue with class.  The only things they were using were the lights, and it was plenty bright enough to continue the discussion without them.  However, the kids were rattled, and quite frankly so was Molly.  Continuing with the discussion seemed fruitless, but leaving right this second wasn’t a good option either. She didn’t want to put the students in an unsafe situation. 

“Let me run back to the department head’s office and see what he thinks.  You guys wait here until I get back, OK?”  Molly looked at them all, seeing the panic starting to bubble up.  “I mean it,” she said sternly.  She thought giving them a task, even if it was just sitting still, would help occupy their minds.

Molly caught up with Terry Longman in the hallway.  She looked at him and shrugged.  “Now what?” she asked.

His normally disheveled appearance looked a little more unruly in his stress.  His grey hair stood straight out and his tweed coat hung unevenly.  “I have no idea.  I’m telling the kids and teachers to stay put for now.  There are no lights in the stairwells, and I don’t want anyone getting trampled.  Let’s wait twenty minutes or so and see if it comes back.  If it doesn’t, we’ll let the classes go one room at a time to prevent a stampede.  So, since your class is at the far end of the building, they may be here a while.”

“No problem.  Just keep me posted.”

Molly stopped in Cindy’s room, knowing she had a rowdy group this time of day.  They were arguing with her about getting to leave.

“HEY!”  Molly hollered to get their attention.  They were immediately quiet.  “This is a professional environment, not a middle school.  Arguing is not tolerated.  You will stay put until Dr. Longman says you can go.  He’s making his rounds now, and he’s said if power is not restored in another twenty minutes or so, he will let everyone go home.  However, he doesn’t want any misconduct, so he’ll be letting classes go one room at a time.  Just sit tight.”

A unified groan went up.  “Hey, you’re supposed to be in this class right now anyway!  I don’t want to hear your complaints,” Molly said.

“Yeah, well I’m not sitting here any longer than I have to.  Class gets out at three, and I’m out of here at three,” declared an older student, dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt.  It was obvious that his silver chains, piercings, and long hair were meant to intimidate.  Molly was unfazed.

“You’ll do whatever the head of the department says you’ll do.  No questions about it.  This is considered an emergency situation, and for your own safety and the safety of others, you’ll stay put for now.  We’re not keeping you here forever, so just relax.” 

Cindy had that deer-in-headlights look.  Molly turned and put her hand on Cindy’s upper arm.  “Hey, straighten up.  These kids’ll eat you alive if you let them.  Don’t.  Terry said he’ll be letting classes go one at a time if the power’s not back in twenty minutes.  The process shouldn’t take too long, since there’s about ten rooms downstairs and ten up here, so just hold the fort for maybe an hour tops, OK?”

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Genre – Adult Fiction / Contemporary

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

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Author Interview – Paula Boyd

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What’s your favorite meal? I’m kind of a health nut. I love fresh veggies and green smoothies and all that. But my most favorite thing to eat is snow crab legs—I like them better than the other varieties—and yes, I dip every single bite in melted butter. Okay, now I’m hungry!

Do you know your neighbors? I know a few, although I don’t visit regularly with any. I live in a smaller condo complex and most of my neighbors are older, which I really love. There are four units in my building and all are owned by single women—I’m the youngest by several decades and the oldest is 93—seriously! She doesn’t drive, but she still gets out of the house more than I do. I know they must think I am very strange, not leaving my house for days on end. They’ve admitted to wondering if I’d died on occasion—yes, I get the irony of that comment coming from the elderly people.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel? Happy and good because they laughed so hard and freed a whole swarm of little endorphins in their brain. And, I suspect that after reading about what Jolene has to put up with, they’ll feel a whole lot better about their own family and lives. No one can read these books and not feel grateful that Lucille isn’t their mother—no one.

What movies do you love to watch? I love to watch all kinds of movies from quantum physics spiritual stuff like What the Bleep Do We Know? to seriously stupid adolescent boy humor like Hot Tub Time Machine. Go figure. No horror or thrillers though. The most recent movie I saw at the theatre was Star Trek in 3D. I really liked it. I always like romantic comedies such as Something’s Gotta Give and Crazy Stupid Love, and I also like action adventure—Indiana Jones, The Mummy, Men in Black, etc. Clearly, I like to have fun!

How do you feel about self-publishing? It has saved my life! Literally! It is my livelihood, so I am immensely grateful that I can self-publish! I write fiction and nonfiction and I never once considered looking for a traditional publisher. That said, my nonfiction book, Living the Life You Love, is now also traditionally published in by publishers in other countries, which I’m thrilled about. Still, self-publishing is my mainstay and I truly appreciate every single reader who buys my books. It is because of your support that I can keep doing what I love. Thank you!

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Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Women Sleuth

Rating – PG13

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INCEPTIO (Roma Nova) by Alison Morton

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    Is there a message in your novel? Well, first and foremost, I want people to be entertained by my book, but there are themes of loss, self-discovery and uncertainty running under the thriller story. Nothing is ever as it seems and we can never be sure of what will be thrown at us. And, of course, there’s a strong tone of feminism, not strident, but very confident: in Roma Nova, women are naturally prominent in all aspects of life.

    How much of the book is realistic? As real as I can make it, given that INCEPTIO is fiction set in an imaginary country. I have a masters’ in history, I’ve travelled all over Roman Europe to many of the major sites and I’ve researched everything at least twice so I’m happy the historical elements are as accurate as I can make them. Unless writing post-apocalyptic fiction, the geography and climate must resemble the ones in the region where the imagined country lies. I’ll make a confession: I ‘borrowed’ Slovenia as the model for Roma Nova. Their real Julian Alps are perfect for the mountain area where, for instance, the grim prison of Truscium is located. (More locations here:

    Roma Nova is a high tech society and more advanced than America or Britain, so their technology has to be equally advanced. I checked the spy gadgetry and other technology with an electronics engineer so I’m reasonably confident about it.

    And finally, I have an armed forces background so the police, military and fight scenes should be correct, unless, of course, you know different…;-)

    Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? I’ve lived in several different cultures and I’ve served time in uniform in the armed forces – both these helped. I also know about the process of learning other languages well enough to be fluent – I was a translator for many years – so I know what my heroine goes through with that part of her transition to Roma Nova.

    No, I haven’t included any friends as such, but I’ve borrowed little character traits here and there.

    How important do you think villains are in a story? Crucial! I have a really nasty piece of work in INCEPTIO – he’s the perfect foil for the heroine. But in the same way that she’s not all “good”, he’s not all “bad”. It’s only at the end of INCEPTIO that we learn why.

    Sometimes ‘villains’ are a mixture. Are all criminals bad? And are all supposedly law-abiding characters honest and morally pure? In fiction we can explore complex personalities better, (comma here to break up long sentence) and create more engaging characters by avoiding the stereotypes and seeing what lies behind them.

    What are your goals as a writer? The most important one is to provide enjoyment for my readers. All others flow into that: to research deeper, to attend events and conferences to enrich my skills and knowledge and make contacts, and to fix a writing target for each day in time or word count. I’ve been trying to achieve the last goal for a while but with varying degrees of failure!

    Do you have to travel much concerning your books? Yes and no! With technologies such as Google Earth, you can look at every place in the world. And with Google Maps, you can often call up photos taken by others in the place you are looking at. You can find the nearest heliport, see the freeway approach or note there’s a hospital across the road. It’s a shame in a way that you don’t have to travel any longer.

    But, and it’s a big but, you cannot feel the atmosphere of a place on the Internet, walk on roads travelled for hundreds of years, cross a bridge nearly two thousand years old or touch the mosaic walls of a building on the ancient Silk Route. I visited Rome and Pompeii last year and was overwhelmed by the sensation of the power and complexity of the Romans. And it’s reinforced what I already knew and given me a fresh insight into the core values and attitudes of my 21st century Romans.

    Who is your favorite author and why? Robert Harris, the author of the iconic alternate history thriller, Fatherland, as well as Roman historical thrillers such as Pompeii and Lustrum. His more recent work includes The Ghost, a thinly disguised story of the recently unseated prime minister, Tony Blair. Harris adapted the book with Roman Polanski for a 2010 film starring Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Williams and Kim Cattrall. For me, it echoed the political conspiracy, corruption and twisted allegiances in the Roman novels centred on Cicero.

    Harris is a political journalist and this shows through his writing. I love his succinct, pictorial style, the implication of tension and past memory he can conjure up in a few words:

    ‘Xavier March, homicide investigator with the Berlin Kriminalpolizei  – the Kripo – climbed out of his Volkswagen and tilted his face to the rain. He was a connoisseur of this particular rain. He knew the taste of it, the smell of it. It was Baltic rain, rain from the north, cold and sea-scented, tangy with salt. For an instant he was back twenty years in the conning tower of a U-boat, slipping out of Wilhelmshaven, lights doused, into the darkness,’

    If you are looking for tight writing, excellent research and a cracking story that challenges, I don’t think you can go wrong with Robert Harris.

    Where do you see yourself in five years? Still writing! It would be nice to think the Roma Nova novels would have spread their wings and been translated into other languages, and even been optioned for a film.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Author Interview – Bill Hiatt

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What books have most influenced your life? The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a big influence in pulling me in the direction of fantasy, the genre in which I currently write. Even earlier, though D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths gave me a love of mythology that put me on the pathway toward the fantastic. I read that book so often as a kid that I literally wore it out. As time passed, I read so many other books it would be hard to isolate specific recent influences. Each book contributed a little to who I am—just as I hope each of my books will contribute a little to who my readers are.

Do you find it hard to share your work? Yes and no. Writing comes from someplace deep within the writer—at least powerful writing does. As a result, publishing is an act of personal revelation as much as anything else. Complete strangers will see a part of the author that perhaps even close friends haven’t in the past. Actually, though, complete strangers were the least of my worries. I was more concerned about people I knew, especially fellow English teachers. In that case the issue was not self-revelation as much as the obvious question, “Will they like it?”

On the other hand, I think almost everyone who is driven to write is also driven to seek an audience. Someone trying to use writing as his or her primary income would naturally need to have an audience to make money, but my day job provides most of my income, and yet I seek readers just as zealously as if I would starve if I didn’t find them. For me writing and communication are inseparable. If I didn’t have something I wanted to share with other people, I wouldn’t be writing in the first place. In the long run, my desire to share overrode my fear of self-revelation and my fear of the possibility that people might not like my work.

Do you plan to publish more books? Now that I have started, I don’t think I will be able to stop! I see Living with Your Past Selves as the first of at least a three part series, and I am already at work on the second novel in the series. (There is something about the main character, Taliesin Weaver, that demands further exploration. Also, the ending of Living with Your Past Selves pretty much cries out for at least one sequel.) I am also considering some non-fiction projects that make use of my teaching experience. I’m about a third of the way done with a short book giving parents advice on how to communicate effectively with teachers, and I’m seriously considering developing a book of writing tips for high school students that will merge text with instructional video. When will I stop writing? I guess when I die…unless of course I come back.

Every writer has his or her own idea of what a successful career in writing is. What does success in writing look like to you? I started out with the idea that successful was bringing enjoyment to people. Since a number of people seem to have enjoyed Living with Your Past Selves already, you could say that I am already successful. Unfortunately, as soon as the book was published, I started thinking about sales figures, about the possibility of eventually being able to sell to a traditional publisher, about getting the book made into a movie, and so on. Yes, I’d love to be a bestselling author. Yes, I’d love to see the book become a movie. At least once a day, though, I remind myself that achievements like that, as satisfying as they would be, are not the reasons I started writing. At the end of the day, it is how much enjoyment I bring to readers that matters most.



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Each blog stop will have a special clue or question.

Answer these in the Rafflecopter below and stand a chance to win a $50 gift card or cash via PayPal

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Genre - Fantasy / Young Adult

Rating – PG13

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Review: The Guilty by Gabriel Boutros

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The GuiltyThe Guilty by Gabriel Boutros
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Formatting / Appearance. The book club received a .pdf copy of the book for review purposes. There were some minor glitches. Two words were joined together, it did not interrupt the flow of the story but it could have also been because of the conversion when we read it on different reading devices.
Content (overall theme, idea and setting). Parts of the story are based on real-life events and many of us at the book club liked this the best of all. It made it even easier to connect with the story and characters. I have never read a Montreal court story before so this was definitely a first, and I everything about this book captured my attention. I'll definitely be looking out for more books by this author.
What I liked. When Robert has to choose between healing his relationship with his daughter and a new case that will elevate his job security. The twists that come after the court case with Claire and when he tries to defend Marlon's son, it's a side of people we don't see everyday but one we all know is there and the author takes the reader deep into these emotions.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Author Interview – Alana Cash

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What genre are you most comfortable writing? Stories.  Fiction or nonfiction, I like to write stories.  If you look at my blog, that’s all there is – stories of my adventures – stories of my friends’ adventures.
The genre I have difficulty with is the one I’m dealing with write now – writing nonfiction in a linear fashion – nonfiction in which I do not see a story in my mind.
Have you developed a specific writing style? Yes.  Rather than describe someone in prose, I prefer to do it in dialogue.
Sometimes I do not write in complete sentences.  I write a phrase.  I write a word.  Because that is how we actually think.  We don’t think in complete sentences.  However, more often I do use complete sentences.  I had an editor try to remove those incomplete sentences/phrases, making them into sentences.  But that wouldn’t have been my storytelling.
In “Dam Broke,” I didn’t give the narrator a name because the story is told in first-person and she and her friend had known each other for seven years and they wouldn’t be using names.  However, an editor decided to insert a name and call her “Linda.”  What!  So, I used her name, Annabelle, once in the story (and removed “Linda”).
Will I write other books in this same genre? Sort of.  HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS is four separate stories about four young women who live in different Texas cities and leave Texas for different reasons.  What I am writing currently is a series of short stories about a girl growing up as a military brat.  The stories are sequential and they will read more like a novel when I get them finished.
Have you started another book yet? Yes, I have started the book about a girl growing up as a military brat.  I have two stories that have already been published – one of them won and award.  I have drafts of about seven other stories.  I need to edit those stories and write a few more.  Sounds simple, but just putting that down in writing that made me want to take a nap.
HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS is a volume of four unique stories about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail. These young women seek escape from boredom and sorrow and find it. Told with humor and pathos, here are the synopses:
DAM BROKE – after high school graduation, two quirky best friends reveal big secrets.
“In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.”
CAMILLE’S NET WORTH – on her 40th birthday, Camille’s life falls apart in uncontrolled demolition. Life improves when she gets a job creating art paper and returns to painting. But the plot twists and she ends up in jail, laughing.
“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”
KRYSTAL’S WEDDING – Heading for New York, Krystal leaves behind her shoddy family in Midland, Texas. Ill-prepared for the culture shock and expense, she takes a few slippery steps before she finds true independence.
“Krystal’s family wasn’t an American success story. Mom felt like life had cheated her since Daddy never made any real money and spent most nights getting drunk at the Welcome Inn. Erin never finished beauty school and worked at a donut shop. Bethany worked as a bar-back at the Rusty Nail and was turning out like Daddy. Alcoholic, back-slapping, charming. Eddie Garthwaite, owner of Garthwaite Used Cars located on Interstate 20 between Midland and Odessa. Eddie Garthwaite who currently had his driver’s license suspended because of a DUI.”
FRYING YOUR BURGER – Nicky and her friends spend mornings slinging repartee in a coffee shop. While paying a traffic fine, she meets a director and soon finds herself a pawn for two directors trying to ruin each others careers.
“I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the ‘hospital orderly fashion catalogue.’ It was all I had clean that day.”
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Genre –  Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG13
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Author Interview – Paula Renaye

at 2:45 AM 0 comments

What book should everybody read at least once? I’m working on a relationship book right now, so I’m rehashing all the stupid things I did in relationships—and all the pain and suffering and lost years my delusions and crazy thinking cost me. The very best book on the subject I have ever read is What Smart Women Know by Steven Carter and Julia Sokol. So, if you’re in turmoil over a relationship, get the book today and believe.

Are there any books you really don’t enjoy? There are a zillion self-help books on the market and there are two types that I will not read—those filled with airy fairy fluff to make you feel good in the moment and those written in an academic format and language. Both types bore me to tears. The “designed to make you feel good” books are more manipulative than tangibly life changing, and those with stiff and stilted language make my eyes glaze within seconds. Not surprisingly, I like books that are straightforward, direct and engaging.

What are you most proud of in your personal life? I am very proud of my children, however, that is about them and their choices, not something I take credit for. So, the thing I am most proud of personally is that I finally broke free of the old patterns, negative thinking and limiting beliefs that kept me stuck in the push-pull drama of desperately wanting my life to be different and terrified of who I would be if it was.

What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time… I write both fiction and nonfiction and currently have four books in print with two in process, so I am indeed a full-time writer! I also speak and work with coaching clients in person and by phone and Skype, which is almost a second full time job. So, does that count?

What does love mean to you? This is a question I am exploring in depth right now as I dive into writing my book on relationships. My answer today is far different than it would have been ten years ago, or even a year ago, and it is continually evolving and deepening. I know what love isn’t. —that giddy infatuation that makes you willing to ignore the red flags slapping you in the face because you’re flying high on the delusion/fear/lust cocktail pulsing through your veins and zinging in your belly. And, love doesn’t require you to fight for it or keep you swept up in turmoil and drama. Love is honest, peaceful, safe and calm, yet also passionate, exciting, adventurous, mutually fulfilling and fun.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? There’s one thing that I have said about myself for many years—I can write anything. It’s true. I write self-help books, humorous mysteries, press releases, marketing and promo materials and anything else you can think of. In the past, I’ve written scientific, technical and legal reports—lots of them—and on the fiction side I’ve written a historical western historical suspense and a futuristic romantic suspense, to name a few. Yeah, I can pretty much write anything, however, I don’t always enjoy it. I love writing my Jolene Jackson Mystery Series because it’s a lot of fun. I love writing the self-improvement stuff because it gives me a chance to refine and define what I’ve learned, not to mention that it is just constantly flowing out of me.


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Genre – Personal Development / Self-Help / Motivational

Rating –G

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Author Interview – Gabriel Boutros

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What inspires you to write and why? I am inspired by stories that move me on different levels. Stories that excite me emotionally, and maybe even intellectually, or even spiritually. When I read, I look for books that combine all the above. So, when I write I try to do the same. I think my book works on more than the “criminal trial” level, but that will be up to the readers to decide.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? For my first novel I decided to write courtroom dramas because this was a topic I knew intimately and could work comfortably in over the long haul. However my short stories tend to be all over the place in terms of style or genre, because they really are about whatever moves me at a specific moment in time. I’ve written about the grim reaper coming to collect souls, about gangsters and criminals shooting it out, and about lonely people who drift through life without knowing what they really want out of it. There’s a lot more freedom in writing short stories than in novel-writing, if only because the investment in time and effort is so much less.

What inspired you to write your first book? I wanted to write a story that was about more than whether the accused was convicted or acquitted, which I think the best stories in this genre succeed in doing. As a lawyer I had learned quite a bit about human nature, about what people were willing to do when they were desperate, or disenfranchised, or just plain angry at everyone around them. I felt I could tell a “warts and all” story about the people who work in and deal with the justice system, if only to show that it’s not all glamor and glory.

I think after many years on any job a person can get soured about it, and start questioning what it is he really enjoys about his work, or what kind of satisfaction he gets from it. I have to admit that when I wrote The Guilty I was seeing my criminal law practice in a very negative light, which is reflected in the fairly cynical things my main character, a defense attorney, says and does. I think once I got it all down on paper I felt a sense of relief, like I had unloaded all my doubts and complaints onto the written page, and so could go back to doing a job that I had loved for so many years.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Writing a novel takes forever! You get a great idea and you sit down to your computer, or typewriter or notepad, and off you go. You spend several hours writing and then sit back, exhausted, and see that you’ve written maybe 4 or 5 pages. Now do that again a hundred times or more. And then you realize that rewriting and revising your work will probably take even longer than writing it down the first time. This takes the kind of discipline and patience that I don’t usually have. It was a minor miracle that I managed to pull it off once. If I manage it a second time I’m putting in for canonization.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? The Guilty is about Robert Bratt, a highly successful lawyer who specializes in twisting the facts to get his clients acquitted for the crimes they committed. His daughter’s best friend is raped by a former client of his, who is then successfully defended by a lawyer that Bratt had trained. That lawyer made the victim look like she was the aggressor. This turns Bratt’s daughter against all lawyers, including him, and starts him questioning  his profession and the way he has practiced it. Although he’d like nothing more than to take some time off to re-assess his priorities and heal his relationship with his daughter, he is committed to defending a violent, young gang member accused of a double-murder. Bratt has doubts about his client’s innocence, but feels the pressure to continue his old tactics in order to win despite everything his conscience is telling him.

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Genre – Courtroom Drama

Rating – R

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