Friday, May 31, 2013

Still wanting to be "them." Meet me at the Dan O'Brien Project

Once upon a time I'd read interviews with different authors and think "Oh, I want to be them." I wanted to be famous enough to be interviewed. I wanted to have enough books in print to answer "Which book are you most proud of?" I wanted enough book reviews to make answering "What's the harshest you've ever had?" non-trivial. And I wanted to have a writer's life so I could say what's best and worst about it.

Then I self-published some books. I answered interview questions about "Why did you choose to self-publish?" and somehow, "Because no-one was accepting my submissions," didn't feel like much of a reply.

Then I got some books e-published by Gypsy Shadow. "Why did you choose to epublish?" "Because that's what my publisher does..."

Then Divide by Zero came out with So now I'm a real, published author with a real print book in real bookstores, but I'm still dreaming I want to be "them." Anyway, if you want to read my answers to a rather fascinating collection of interview questions, just follow the link and meet me on the Dan O'Brien project...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Series, sagas and trilogies... and sequels too.

My favorite trilogy was the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy--maybe the mathematician in me just got hooked on the idea of a trilogy in five--it certainly wasn't my ancient languages side anyway (though I did do Latin in high school--honest I did). But now the world's full of trilogies, series and sagas. I'm still dreaming one of my Hemlock prequels might make it into an anthology, or maybe my Hemlock trilogy, now threatening to grow into an Adamsian five, will find a publisher. D'you suppose actually sending it out would help? Or maybe finishing writing it? Still, my Five-Minute Bible Stories Series is growing healthily and I'm almost ready to send book six (the first New Testament book) to Cape Arago. I hope they'll like it...

And, of course, I'm still reading, though stomach bugs, bushes flattened in the rain, and copious amounts of shopping, cleaning and yardwork have rather held me back.

And, of course, the first book I'm posting a review for today is a trilogy.

The Forbidden Trilogy, by Kimberly Kinrade is reminiscent of X-Men or a darker, older Harry Potter, with gifted children in a school that's meant to train them for life but might turn out to have other plans. Books one and two are fairly short--Forbidden Mind and Forbidden Fire--but book three, Forbidden Life is long and complex with lots of characters and subplots. Enjoy this dark series with a dark 5-star cup of coffee.

Lagrange Point is the next in the Subspecies series by Mike Arsuaga, and there's plenty of future history and vampire lycan mythology to precede it. Family relationships have become singularly complex, as different generations age differently as well as possessing different natures. In this book, same and different species attractions are intriguingly balanced against same and different sex attraction. The sex scenes fit the novel's rating as erotic, but they're intriguingly balanced against thought-provoking questions of nature, nurture, and even free-will and God. Lagrange Point's not my favorite of the series, but it's another intriguing entry, tying up lots of loose ends while building together a host of different plotlines--best enjoyed with a complex 4-star coffee.

Peter and Paul, by Stan I. S. Law retells the Acts of the Apostles through the eyes of Peter and Paul. Tensions arise between men differently called and faith differently perceived. Peter falls back on a curious "nothing is real" refrain, and a kingdom within himself, while Paul strives to build a kingdom in the world. Definitely not preachy, the novel has an authentic sense of history and gives intriguing insights into life and character. Enjoy with a 4-star complex coffee for its somewhat complex themes. Then look for the first book, Yeshua, 'cause, yes, it's a sequel...

E. G. Lewis' At Table With the Lord also provides rich insight into life at the time of Christ, specifically into food and drink. What did gladiators eat? Did the Jews drink beer? What sort of pizza might Caesar have eaten? And what herbs were kept in the kitchen cabinet? Written as a series of essays, it's great fun for dipping into and a great book to enjoy with your lively 2-star coffee (and some ancient Roman snacks). Then look for more essays by E. G. Lewis because this is one of an ongoing series of standalone books from his research.

My review of Whispers at Willow Lake, by Mary Manners, should go live on Nights and Weekends next week. A short book, just the right length for lunch break or a long coffee break, this is an enjoyable tale of two young people meeting after separation and facing the mistakes that pulled them apart. There's a nice balance of romance, mystery, contemporary realities, family drama and a low-key but powerful faith in the tale, making it a thoroughly enjoyable read to go with that well-balanced 3-star coffee. Oh, and it's the start of a series, which takes me back to that issue of series, sagas and trilogies...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Jewel of Shaylar and one author's approach to writing series

Today I get to interview Laura Eno, author of the Carienna Chronicles, the Kingdons of Chandra, and so much more. You can find my reviews of some of her books by following these links: Raven, Wraith (books 1 and two of the Carienna Chronicles), My Enchanted Life, Prophecy Moon... I love her short stories too (you'll find on in the collection Long Live the New Flesh, reviewed here), and I'm delighted to welcome such a prolific author to my blog. So...

This is my burning question after enjoying Raven and Wraith; do you know at the outset that you're going to do a five-book series, or do the ideas grow as you start writing?

That's really a humorous question for me. I've always wanted to write a series but I get hit with "oh, shiny!" at the end of each book and sucked into a swirling vortex of the next idea without continuing on. After awhile, I decided I wasn't really cut out for series writing and started accepting my standalone fate.
Then the idea for the Kingdoms of Chandra series walked in, sat down on top of my brain, and refused to budge. I have outlines already for five novels and there could be more, either as side novels or novellas exploring different aspects in greater detail. This world isn't going anywhere. It has consumed my imagination to the exclusion of all else.

How do you decide when to switch from one series to another?

That question will have to wait for another time. I'm locked into my world of Chandra to the exclusion of all else. Some people can write more than one book at a time but not me. I have tunnel vision in that respect. Too many gears would crunch inside my head if I tried to switch from one project to another.

In that case, I guess I'll have to wait for more of Carienna. But I'm sure I'll enjoy getting hooked on the Kingdoms of Chandra. Thank you so much for letting me interview you.

Thanks so much for highlighting Jewel of Shaylar, Book One of the Kingdoms of Chandra today!

And here's a Blurb for Jewel of Shaylar, just to whet everyone's appetite:
Archaeologist David Alexander investigates the cave where his father disappeared and hurtles into another world, one filled with magic and bizarre creatures. The mad ravings in his father's journals of icemen and dragons may not be fantasies after all.
Convinced his father may still be alive, David begins a treacherous journey to find him and discover a way home. Along the way, he encounters a few unlikely friends. A Dreean warrior, a beautiful thief and a satyr join him as he searches.
David's arrival into this new world sets off an explosive chain reaction of events. Faced with powerful adversaries and few clues, he may not get the chance to rescue his father before disaster strikes, condemning both of them to death. Or worse.

Purchase at:

Laura Eno. Speculative Fiction wordsmith. The secret to her stories? Spread lies, blend in truths, add a pinch of snark and a dash of tears. Escape into her world. She left the porch light on so you can find your way down the rabbit hole.
Follow Me!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Book Cover That Worked

I went shopping in a bookstore just before Mothers' Day and my husband told me to pick out a book for myself. As some of you know, I read a lot, but mostly they're books that people have asked me to review--lucky me, since I love reading! But there's something special about picking out a book to read just for me--not that I won't review it just the same since otherwise I'd probably forget I'd read it.

The new paperbacks shelf had the latest Alexander McCall Smith book from the Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. But that was already wrapped and waiting as a gift for Mothers' Day. My eyes were drawn to the book next to it though. The cover had a border, just like the McCall Smith book, and a picture rather like a water-painting, just like earlier books in the series. In face, at first sight, I thought perhaps Mma Ramotswe was riding again. But no. This book, with a label underneath declaring "For all lovers of the Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," was a mystery called "Granddad, There's a head on the beach," by Colin Cotterill. I picked it up and found it was number 2 in a new mystery series, so I searched for number 1, called, intriguingly, "Killed at the whim of a hat," and we got that. So...

Marketing works. Saying a book is "like" another, designing a cover that's "like" another, pointing out the similarities instead of the differences... It worked. We bought the book, and although Jimm Juree's really nothing at all like Mma Ramotswe, and Thailand's not Botswana, and Colin Cotterill writes much more edge fiction with a snarky protagonist and a biting streak of sarcasm, I really enjoyed the read.

Thinking of book covers, the cover for Eric Garisson's Four 'Til Late (Road Ghosts series) has just been revealed here and the cover to J.L. Mulvihill’s the Boxcar Baby is revealed here

So, book reviews:

Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill (see above) is a fun mystery/drama, intriguingly informative, oddly thought-provoking (with some great characters, such as the protagonist's sister who used to be a brother), and best enjoyed with a 4-star rich and complex coffee.

Continuing a theme of thought-provoking books, Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite, by Lianne Simon certainly provokes lots of thought, inviting readers to see through the eyes of a teen brought up as a boy who has always felt more like a girl. Wanting to please God and parents can be hard in such a situation, but this story's filled with honest emotion, intriguing information, and genuine hope. Enjoy weith another 4-star rich complex cup of coffee.

Tower Bridge by Hannelore Moore offers food for thought as well as the reader's invited into the lives of the musicians in a British 80s rock band. The time, locations and characters feel vividly real, as does the music. Drugs, sex, decadence, love and hope all combine as overwhelmed youths grow into wounded adults and slowly find their feet in in a changing world. Drink a 5-star dark intense coffee with this one.

Next is a tale of the nineties with a message for modern times. The protagonist of Bottom Line, by Marc Davis is the ultimate businessman, resurrector of failing businesses, holder of the keys to wisdom, sad conveyor of dire news. But he has a conscience and a heart, hard though he tries to hide them. And his meteoric rise suddenly stalls, just at the same time as his mentor's star falls. Part business noir, part action adventure, the novel's held together by the main character's hidden depths and the powerful anchor of past promise. Enjoy this complex tale with a 4-star complex cup of coffee.

Finally, Have No Shame, by Melissa Foster, takes readers in the American South of the sixties. Not so long ago, life was so different, and a young girl lets her parents dictate her life and love while her eyes are slowly opened to the evils around her. Will others end up opening their eyes too, or will she close her own to human needs as she tends to the needs of convention? Enjoy this haunting tale will a 3-star smooth-flavored, well-balanced coffee.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Seasons and Echoes

Today I get to welcome two authors, Marlene Mitchell and Gary Yeagle, to my blog, but first let me introduce them and their books while I wait for them to arrive. I've often wondered how authors work together, so I'm really looking forward to meeting them here. And the books look fascinating...

About Marlene Mitchell:
Originally from St. Louis, Marlene makes her home in Kentucky now. A mother and grandmother, Marlene has a wide range of interests including watercolor and oil painting, yet writing has always been her passion. That comes through loud and clear in her wonderful novels!
These novels reflect a genuine sincerity with very strong characters to which her readers can relate. To quote Marlene: “It took me a long time to start writing, but now I can’t stop. The stories just keep on coming.”
About Gary Yeagle:
Gary Yeagle was born and raised in Williamsport, Pa., the birthplace of Little League Baseball. He grew up living just down the street from the site of the very first Little League game, played in 1939.
He currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife and four cats. He is the proud grandparent of three and is an active member of the Jeffersontown United Methodist Church. Gary is a Civil War buff, and enjoys swimming, spending time at the beach, model railroading, reading, and writing.

Seasons of Death
Book Synopsis:
In the fall of 1969 in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, a poor backwoods farmer and his wife were brutally shot and killed by four drunken hunters, along with their three dogs, horse and two fawns. The farmer’s two young sons managed to escape but were unable to identify the killers. Now decades later, the murders of the Pender family remain unsolved. In Townsend, Tennessee, in Blount County, someone has decided to take revenge.

Echoes of Death
Book Synopsis:
It’s springtime in the Smokies and despite the four murders of the previous year, tourists from every corner of the country have made the journey to Townsend, Tennessee. The hiking trails are packed, the restaurants are jammed, and the campsites are full. Vacation season is in full swing in the peaceful side of the Smokies.
But then… there is another murder.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

National Children's Book Week, and Delilah Dusticle!

Did you know it's USA National Children's Book Week? And here I am writing and rewriting my next book of children's Bible stories (published by Cape Arago Press). It's so easy just to tell the familiar story, and so much harder--also more satisfying--to find an anchor that might make kids relate and repeat, and maybe even learn from it. Still, the collection's growing, and I hope to have at least one more book completed soon.

Meanwhile, Delilah Dusticle, which I reviewed a while ago (click here for my review of Delilah Dusticle), is free to download via Amazon this weekend (Saturday 18th to Monday 20th May), and I'm happy to be part of the promotion party. Maybe Delilah will eradicate some dust and cobwebs for me...

Delilah Dusticle is a short story that has been enjoyed by young people and adults alike. The story has been described as heart-warming, captivating, delightful and fun.

"I loved Delilah, I loved Abi, I loved reading this story"

Delilah Dusticle has special powers, she can completely eradicate dust. With her quiver pouch of special dusters Delilah can run up walls and reaches places others just can’t. As a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house Delilah’s unusual skills soon lead to her being promoted to Chief Dust Eradicator and Remover. Until one day a broken heart leads to her powers taking an expected turn.

This is the first in a series of touching and funny stories about Delilah Dusticle. Follow her on a journey of self-discovery, friendship and adventure.


A suit of armour standing beside her in the hall coughed and shot out a puff of dust from its helmet. “Staff are not permitted to fraternise with the family and any shenanigans would lead to instant dismissal,” wheezed the armour.

“Don’t I know it,” said Delilah who then waved her duster at the falling dust cloud making it vanish in mid-air. For good measure she selected her dandelion duster and polished the armour, who was very ticklish and kept giggling. She then made her way to the staff kitchen for dinner.

To download for free to your iPad, Kindle or computer, please click the Amazon link below.

For more information, please visit

Follow Delilah on Twitter: @delilahdusticle

Friday, May 17, 2013

Burning the Middle Ground

Today my blog is hosting one of the character's from L. Andrew Cooper's dark fantasy, Burning the Middle Ground. Meet Mr. Winston Beecher, writing here about Fathers and Spiders.

[A guest post by L. Andrew Cooper, writing as a character from his horror novel Burning the Middle Ground]

Fathers and Spiders
by Winston Beecher
Nothing brings out those paternal feelings like seeing a boy so damaged that no amount of fathering, no amount of care, could possibly bring him back from…, well, from that. Some reporter once asked me whether I knew when I walked into the McCulloughs’ house that day that my career would “be forever changed.” Well, here I am, five years later, still a deputy in the same town. Don’t get paid all that much better for having been in the center of the McCullough Tragedy, national news, all that, you know, 10-year-old-girl-shoots-parents-can-we-have-gun-control-now stuff, which is bull-stuff, if you don’t mind my saying so, because we have the second amendment in this country for a reason. But I do show up in a lot of that news footage you’ve got, because I tried to stick by Brian’s side. Even when everybody was saying he had something to do with it, I stood by. And then when they realized he was just as an innocent goddanged kid who just lost his whole family, suddenly I’m a hero for being the only one to treat him like a human being.

Now. Five years later. Now this Ronald Glassner character wants to write a book about us. I can see how he’ll write me already—he’ll add thirty or fourty pounds, make the accent thicker, make me twice as dumb, and occasionally make me slip and say something racist. Of course the character will not be me; he will be an amalgamation, a representation of his experiences as a northerner of Southerners. Or maybe his preconceptions as a northerner of Southerners. Ronald is a complete asshole, but he’s kind of… alluring… too. Something about the match between his tennis shoes and his sports jackets. And I swear to God, that man custom selects his own shoelaces. I couldn’t have tried to make someone more unlike the town of Kenning, Georgia, than my New York Ronald, but here he is, foreign messenger. I exoticize his Yankee traits, so if he wants to giggle at my twang, so be it. Besides, he may have given me the very thing I need.

And that thing, I think, is the will to refocus our attention to Brian. The weird stuff that’s been happening all over town, more and more people making reports fit for the loony bin, man, there’s no way that boy’s behind any of it. Excuse me: young man. He’s not behind it, but signs keep pointing in his direction, not so clearly that we’re sure, but enough coulds are adding up to a probably, if you get what I mean.

I think I’m in over my head is what I think, but everybody here is so disorganized and out of touch, police work is basically a free-for-all. So I’m investigating Dave Holcomb and the bags of bodies at the junkyard, and I’m investigating the assaults on that preacher, Jeanne Harper, and I’m investigating Ronald’s supernatural visitations, too.

And then there’s Michael Cox, and I guess maybe to a lesser extent, Jake Warren, our suspected bad guys trying to run an evil plot out of First Church. At least before the McCullough Tragedy, Reverend Michael Cox was a pillar of trustworthiness. And Warren was an accountant or something, right? And these people are somehow the spiders building the web tying together all the bizarre little pieces that, as of yet, have no larger logical explanation? I can’t make any sense of it, and it’s a tough sell if we want to get folks on board some kind of organized resistance. Right now, I guess we’re it. Vive us. Vive nous? I took some French.

Okay, then, wrapping up, let me just come back to this point, and that’s Brian. It started with him, that blood-spattered boy who just made me want to fold him in my arms until he cried, and it’s all going back to him. I’ve always felt a need to keep him close, and it has never been so strong.
Wow. I have this on my reading list and I'm really eager to start. Thank you for talking with us Mr. Beecher, and I'm looking forward to learning what's really going on.

And now... Let me introduce the author, L. Andrew Cooper, too:

About L. Andrew Cooper:
L. Andrew Cooper thinks the smartest people like horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. Early in life, he couldn’t handle the scary stuff–he’d sneak and watch horror films and then keep his parents up all night with his nightmares. In the third grade, he finally convinced his parents to let him read grownup horror novels: he started with Stephen King’s Firestarter, and by grade five, he was doing book reports on The Stand.
When his parents weren’t being kept up late by his nightmares, they worried that his fascination with horror fiction would keep him from experiencing more respectable culture. That all changed when he transitioned from his public high school in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia to uber-respectable Harvard University, where he studied English Literature. From there, he went on to get a Ph.D. in English from Princeton, turning his longstanding engagement with horror into a dissertation. The dissertation became the basis for his first book, Gothic Realities (2010). More recently, his obsession with horror movies turned into a book about one of his favorite directors, Dario Argento (2012). He also co-edited the textbook Monsters (2012), an attempt to infect others with the idea that scary things are worth people’s serious attention.
After living in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California, Andrew now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he teaches at the University of Louisville and chairs the board of the Louisville Film Society, the city’s premiere movie-buff institution. _Burning the Middle Ground_ is his debut novel.

Burning the Middle Ground
Book Synopsis:
Burning the Middle Ground is a dark fantasy about small-town America that transforms readers’ fears about the country’s direction into a haunting tale of religious conspiracy and supernatural mind control. A character-driven sensibility like Stephen King’s and a flair for the bizarre like Bentley Little’s delivers as much appeal for dedicated fans of fantasy and horror as for mainstream readers looking for an exciting ride. Brian McCullough comes home from school and discovers that his ten-year-old sister Fran has murdered their parents. Five years later, a journalist, Ronald Glassner, finds Brian living at the same house in the small town of Kenning, Georgia. Planning a book on the McCullough Tragedy, Ronald stumbles into a struggle between Kenning’s First Church, run by the mysterious Reverend Michael Cox, and the New Church, run by the rebellious Jeanne Harper. At the same time, Kenning’s pets go berserk, and dead bodies, with the eyes and tongues removed from their heads, begin to appear.

Author Links:

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weeding, seeding, pleading and reading

So... The promotion's ended and the books were "sold." Now I'm just waiting (trying not to plead) to see if anyone liked them enough to buy more in the series. Meanwhile I'm reading, writing and researching books seven and eight (which might be called gathering seeds for story-starts). And I'm wondering why May keeps getting older while I still feel lost in February. Even the weather's betraying me--summer's arrived, which is very nice, both sunny and warm, but doesn't really do wonders for my catching up on overdue reading lists since I keep weeding flowerbeds instead. Ah well. Here are some books I was due (mostly) to read in April, with apologies, and with reviews...

Starting with a few short reads...

Sleeping Beauty, A modern fairy tale by John Phythyon, is exactly what it says--a very modern fairy tale. Blending the greeds of corporations and parents with the innocent hope of a young man staying true to the girl he loves, it sets the horrors of the familiar story in the familiar of the present day, creating a story that doesn't quite end, but certainly invites the reader in. Enjoy with a bold dark intense 5-star cup of coffee.

Trilogies, 18 sets of short fiction by Jerry Guarino, offers very short stories in sets of three, united by time, place, character or genre. Some threes form complete stories together. Others create whole worlds of mystery. And all have stings in the tale so read with care. Read these complex tales with a few cups of 4-star elegant complex coffee.

The Bad Lady, by John Meany, tells a haunting and scarily real story of a child lured into an abusive situation, and the many betrayals that leave him open to hurt. Read this starkly real, darkly haunting novella with a bold dark intense 5-star coffee.

The Tower Bridge, by Steve Simons feels like an adventure board game. Written for children, it details how two boys find themselves stranded in a different world, with aliens, a mysterious scientist, and all sorts of dangers to escape from before they get home. It's a fun tale with lots of oddities, various incongruities, and a satisfying conclusion. Enjoy with a 2-star easy-drinking coffee and get that board game out.

Challenging Zed, by Joss Stirling is a neat short story introducing a family of crime-fighters through the eyes of a jaded youngest brother. The new girl in school just might promise hope for his future, and the story's filled with great characters, promising an interesting series. Enjoy with a lively easy-drinking 2-star coffee.

and then some novels...

Beyond Tomorrow by P. L. Parker takes ordinary people and places them in extraordinary circumstances as a group of near-future scientists battle for their lives in the dim and distant past. As dangerous flesh-eaters draw close, one lonely woman finds herself falling for the handsome stranger. But how can she really have feelings for a primitive man, and what is his secret? It's not the first in a series, but it's easy to pick up Beyond Tomorrow without reading the earlier book--I did. Enjoy it's intriguing romance with a well-balanced, smooth-flavored 3-star coffee.

Between Dark and Light, by D. A. Adams, takes readers to a well-drawn world of elves, dwarves and men where powers are shifting and battles loom. Again, it's not the first in a series, but it stands alone well as a complete chapter in the larger adventure, leaving the reader both satisfied and eager for more.

Last but not least, Geraldine Solon's The Assignment is a real-world novel with mystery, history, enduring romance, and more as the village of Bataan lives on. Enjoy this elegant novel with an elegant 4-star coffee.

May the sun keep shining, and may February finally leave me!