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The Feeding Season

The Feeding Season - Stoyan T. Stoyanov

I love apocalyptic stories. LOVE THEM. Nothing sets my adrenaline in motion quicker than a plot containing the destruction of our current society and characters adjusting to that destruction. Some of my favorite books and authors have focused on this very plot (ahem, Terry Brooks). 

It's even more enjoyable to me when an author chooses not to go in the normal zombie direction as the majority of media these days. 

So I very much enjoyed The Feeding Season and the twists and turns that it threw as I followed the plot.

If you’re looking for a slightly different take on the end of civilization, I recommend that you give this one a chance.


Some Bio Information

Writing fiction novel is my dream come true - ever since my teenage years when I first experienced the thrilling emotion of sharing my ideas on paper. My work as a concept artist for the gaming industry fueled my imagination and helped me recreate into my book the imaginary worlds that I am drawing out of a sketch. I currently live in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria and work for one of the biggest German-based gaming studios. When not writing or drawing, I enjoy spending time with my family and playing with my two boys.  


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

One night I had this idea about a boy, struggling to find his way and survive in an apocalyptic world. Then I spent some time just keeping the idea safe in my mind and giving it time to grow. The story seemed interesting enough and deserving the time and efforts to write it down and have a whole book to share with the readers. This seemed as the easiest way of idea-sharing but turned out to be a very hard task.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

After this one night’s inspiration I spent at least two months in fine-tuning the plot and characters, the setting and the twists. Then the real writing started and I used every single moment that I had to “waste” apart from my full time job and family engagements ;-).

I usually started writing in the evening and often I found myself spending two hours over just couple of sentences. I used every weekend and dedicated the afternoons to this project. I had a writer’s block, which took around two-three weeks to overcome. I managed to write the book in about a year and then my first private readers stepped in.

After I received their feedback and comments, I spent some time to edit some parts of the story, make it shorter or go deeper into more details, had some twists and characters’ development. Then I gave it in the hands of my editor and interpreter, while I focused on drafting and drawing the cover page. Being a concept artist made this part of the project the easiest ;-).

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

I believe that everyone, who enjoys stories with unexpected end would like and appreciate the book. Generally, it is targeted at young adults, seduced by sci-fi apocalyptic genre.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I do hope that coming to the end of the book would be as inspiring and meaningful for readers as it was for me to write it.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Oh, so many names popping out in my mind ;-) I have a long-lasting relationship with sci-fi books, comics and art that it makes it really hard to say but definitely one of my top favorites is Samuel Vimes.  I’m a huge fan of Sir Terry Pratchett’s work and what he creates has been an inspiration to me since the very first book that I have read.

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

Unpretentious and easy to digest ;-)

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?  

Books are a great channel for sharing of interesting ideas and stories, each of them with a capacity to change and positively affect the everyday life routine. If readers have had a nice time reading my book, then I have accomplished my goal.

Untold

Untold - Amy Spitzfaden

I've made it pretty clear on my blog that I'm picky about romance books. I grew up reading Lori Wick and Janette Oak because that's what my mom was reading. As a result, I burned out quickly. My attention was turned to Tolkien, Bradbury, and yes, Stephen King, who all write genres I found to be more realistic than romance. (and yes, you caught that right - fantasy more realistic than your average romance novel).

I still occasionally enjoy a romance, but it takes a really good one, one with a deeper plot than a superficial "he's hot and she's sexy" couple to hold my attention. 

In Untold, Amy Spitzfaden gives just that. She gives much more than your average romance novel offers up. Katie is a very well developed character with legitimate and realistic life issues. I appreciated the process in which she comes to understand the strange feelings she's struggling with and found them completely believable.  

Seeing the plot unfold between her and Robin and watching as they both begin to realize what they may have been through in the past was fascinating and I felt my heart break a little as Katie made, what she thought was, the best possible decision for the two of them. 

Without giving any specific spoilers, I just want to thank the author for not stopping the book there. THANK YOU! I was feeling severely disappointed. 

What made me happiest through all of this is that both Katie and Robin come to the conclusion that it's all a choice. Sure love can seem like an overwhelming roller coaster ride that you have no control over, but we all have a choice. Watching Robin and Katie make their choices confidently, despite knowing what the future holds for them, was incredibly satisfying and left me with a smile. It felt so much closer to real life than the vast majority of romance books that I've read. 


Some Bio Information

Amy Spitzfaden graduated with a literature and writing degree from Maharishi University of Management in 2012 and now lives in Temple, New Hampshire with her husband, Ravi. She works as an Engagement Manager at PSCS Consulting in Peterborough, and is currently writing her second book Fingerprinted Hearts, and aiming for a release date in 2017.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

The story originated from a feeling I had when I first started dating my husband. I so immediately knew it was right that I felt a certain kind of frustration and confusion that it hadn't happened sooner. There was this feeling of "Why did this take so long?", and this led me to wondering "What if there really was a reason?" That question is what brought me to the premise of Untold.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I'm not super good with outlines, largely because I don't tend to start out with plot ideas. For me it tends to start with a character, situation, or premise I want to explore and the first draft helps me figure out what shape the story is going to take. I usually will write a first draft in a month or two if I'm working hard, then I'll go through, grab a few scenes that I like, and pretty much start the whole thing over from scratch. This can definitely be frustrating as I'm writing my first draft and looking ahead to my second, but it's also what keeps me moving forward without worrying too much about getting it right.

After the first draft, the story tends to have a much more defined shape in my head, which is when I start really getting into the plot. One of my favorite things for the writing process is going for a walk with someone - usually my mom, sisters, or husband - and getting their input on how best to shape certain parts of my story that I might be having trouble with. I'm extremely lucky to be around creative people almost all the time, and this is really what helps push my writing forward.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

I definitely think Untold resonates with a young/new adult audience, but some of the best responses I've gotten have been from far outside that demographic, so it's hard to pinpoint. I think anyone looking for something a little deeper than mainstream fiction yet still with a fast and modern tone would enjoy it, as well as anyone interested in why we love who we do, and possible spiritual or mystical reasons that could be behind it.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

Overall, I'm hoping to add a feeling of legitimacy to my genre. Books written primarily for or about young women tend not to be taken seriously, especially if they are light or more realistic in tone. All of my writing tends to reflect a deep emotional undercurrent that goes along with the real-life challenges and experiences that go along with this time of life: friendships, romantic relationships, budding careers, etc. I don't know why stories focused around that tend to be considered solely "fluffy", but if someone leaves my work feeling as though they have just gone through a worthwhile journey, then I'm happy.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. That's been my favorite show for more than ten years, and each time I watch it I get more and more respect for Lorelai. She's a perfect example of someone who on the surface seems fairly frivolous but she has depth and power all over the place. Everyone in that show does, which is what makes it so great.

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

Contemporary with a literary twist. I like to use a modern and sometimes conversational tone, but also really enjoy playing with language and imagery, so I try to tie all of that together.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I have so many that it's hard to pick one. While of course I'd love to see my books on bestseller lists and get turned into movies, things like develop a fan base who care deeply about the characters and get sent some fan art of fic are also currently high on my list. Right now, what I'd really love is to be able to support myself from my books enough that I can do it full time.

The Devil and the Deadly Peace

The Devil and the Deadly Peace - Sindhura Chamala 

I had no trouble flying through this book. Despite my mild confusion at the beginning as to where and when I was and exactly what was going on, I was entranced by the excellent writing and world building. 

I immediately fell in love with both the Little Brother and the Devil and wanted nothing more than to see their story play out happily. 

What I did have trouble with was trying to determine how I would classify this book. It's thrilling, but not quite a thriller. It's fantastic, but not really a fantasy. There's suspense, action, intrigue, deception, and devious plots, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what shelf I would place this book upon. 

For those of you who know my love of Ray Bradbury, you know that's what I love most about his work - unclassifiable. 

So kudos to Sindhura for creating a book that doesn't quite fit into any mold - to me that is a sign of a great author. 

I HIGHLY recommend this book. And I look forward to reading more by this author. 


Some Bio Information

Sindhura is from the small town of Nalgonda in India. She has a bachelor's degree in Information Systems from BITS Pilani. She works a Data Storage Engineer in Bangalore. Away from work, you can find her reading or writing with a cup of tea nearby.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

I've always been a storyteller since childhood, and I would spend hours narrating stories to my group of friends in school. The love for stories only grew, and I became an avid reader. One evening, on a walk alone, a conversation between a few imaginary characters popped up in my head, and I immediately wanted to build a story on that. Once I had a solid plot, I narrated that to a friend of mine who liked it. More than that, I loved the experience of telling that story. That's when I decided to write it.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Once I had the plot, I immediately sat down to write. I knew I needed to finish the first draft quickly before my fears or doubts crept in. I discovered that I loved to write, and there was no stopping me. The first draft was the story I told myself. Once I was satisfied with that, I kept editing the draft until it was in a state that can be understood clearly by another person. I got it reviewed by one of my friends first, and then I got it edited by a professional.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

I did not have a specific target of an audience when I wrote the story. All I knew was that I wanted to write a simple and short book that anyone could pick up and read.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I hope the readers connect to the characters and the places that I created. I hope the book gives them a short escape into an interesting world in which they would like to spend more time.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

I read many great books. Picking a favorite character is hard. However, the characters that stay with me for long are usually the kickass females that went through hardships and stood strong.

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

I would call it simple.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I escape into the worlds created by other writers and would spend my life there if it weren't for the real life getting in the way. Then I discovered writing. I do it because I love it, and I hope I can continue to do that.  And along the way, if only a single person falls in love with my work, I would be a content writer.

Quarterback Trap

Quarterback Trap - Dallas Gorham

This is a great suspenseful and thrilling mystery that, while geared towards men with the football theme, will keep everyone on the edge of their seats. 

To be clear, I am not a football fan, and I very much enjoyed this book. I read it all in one sitting, completely unable to put it down until the plot was resolved. 

Gorham's writing style is easy to follow and he doesn't bog the reader down with statistics or football-speak that might alienate readers who don't really follow the sport. 

I loved all the characters and thought they were excellently written. Chuck is great as the main character and I can see him starring in future novels, such as Alex Delaware for Jonathan Kellerman, etc. 

Even if you're not a football fan, if you enjoy a good mystery/thriller, then I can definitely recommend this one to you. 


Some Bio Information

Dallas Gorham is a sixth-generation Texan and a proud Texas Longhorn, having earned a Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. He graduated in the top three-quarters of his class, maybe.
 
Dallas, the writer, and his wife moved to Florida years ago to escape Dallas, the city, winters (Brrrr. Way too cold) and summers (Whew. Way too hot). Like his fictional hero, Chuck McCrary, he lives in Florida in a waterfront home where he and his wife watch the sunset over the lake most days and where he has followed his lifelong love of reading mysteries and thrillers into writing them in his home office. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Florida Writers Association. He also chairs the Central Florida annex meetings of the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America because he can’t get anyone else to take the post.
 
When not writing fiction, Dallas is frequent (but bad) golfer. He plays about once a week because that is all the abuse he can stand. One of his goals in life is to find more golf balls than he loses. He also is an accomplished liar (is this true?) and defender of down-trodden palm trees.
 
Dallas is married to his one-and-only wife who treats him far better than he deserves. They have two grown sons whom they are inordinately proud of. They also have seven grandchildren who are the smartest, most handsome, and most beautiful grandchildren in the known universe. He and his wife spend waaaay too much money on their love of travel. They have visited all 50 states and over 90 foreign countries, the most recent of which was Morocco, where their cruise ship stopped at Agadir (don’t bother).
 
Dallas writes a blog at http://dallasgorham.com  that is sometimes funny, but not nearly as funny as he thinks. The website also has more information about his books, including the characters. If you have too much time on your hands, you can follow him on Twitter at @DallasGorham, or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DallasGorham.


Q&A

1)      What inspired you to write this book? 

I had previous written in Six Murders Too Many about Chuck’s high school football career and his friendship with the NFL quarterback Bob Martinez. I got to thinking about how a gambler might fix the Super Bowl game.
 
2)      Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I have a home office. When I’m in writing mode, I’m at my desk by 8 a.m. I write until noon, have lunch with my wife, then write until 6 p.m. My goal is 3000+ words per day for the first draft. Quoting from my blog of Feb 4, 2016:

My first draft of Day of the Tiger followed the principal of “Dump it on the page and get the basics of the story right.” I met a fellow writer who wore a tee-shirt that said, “I don’t care if it’s crap; just get it on the page.” You can’t improve a story that’s not written. Some famous writer whose name escapes me once said, “Every good novel began as a lousy first draft.”

In this case, my lousy first draft ran 77,787 words. That took about four solid weeks chained to my desk.

To write the second draft, I read the first draft aloud to see how the words sounded. I know that you don’t move your lips when you read. But even when you read silently, you hear in your mind how the words sound. I want my words to sound well in the reader’s head. I read the first draft aloud and stopped when something didn’t flow just right. I made the changes to the draft and kept reading. That took two days to read, change, and create the second draft.

The second draft ran 79,809 words. That means that I had to add about 2,000 more words to make the words flow smoothly.

And, yes, I did get hoarse reading aloud for over twelve hours.

To write the third draft, I ran the second draft through a piece of software called Smart Edit, available from Bad Wolf Software. Smart Edit looks for things like overused adverbs, repeated phrases, misused words (such as their when you mean there), clichés, redundancies, proper nouns (to make sure I don’t call a character Monty one time and Marty the rest of the time), and so forth. The third draft had 78,626 words and took another two days.

The fourth draft took just over a week to go through my “List of words to restrict use of.” It’s a list of over fifty words or parts of words that writers sometimes overuse: about, almost, also, anyway, can or could, get, going or going to, etc. See my blog of March 3, 2014, How to be a better writer–words to avoid . That original list had only 41 items on it. Now I have over fifty.

That draft wound up with 74,216 words.

Then I print the fourth draft, sit in my easy chair, and read it just like you would (except I have a ballpoint pen in my hand). That was 211 pages of 8-1/2 by 11 paper. I discovered some parts in an earlier chapter than I moved to a later chapter when the flow of the action made more sense. Those corrections took another two days and resulted in the fifth draft, which had 74,166 words.
That’s the one I sent to my editor.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 
 
People who read for pure entertainment. I create a world of action, adventure, and intrigue---more of it than most people would actually experience in two lifetimes---all in the course of the few days or weeks that the story happens.
 
4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?
 
A few hours of escapist fun.
 
5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 
 
That has to be a tie between Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. I admire both characters.
 
6) How would you describe your writing style? 
 
I am usually a pantser, although I wrote Quarterback Trap from an extensive outline.
 
7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 
 
Make a good living from telling entertaining stories.

Wet

Wet - S. Jackson Rivera

When it comes to the genre of romance, I am incredibly picky. Mostly because as a teenager, I looked for drama in a relationship. I wanted the whirlwind/forbidden romance. I wanted passion, the heated arguments, etc. 

Then I grew up and I realized that those pursued relationships only led me to trouble. I didn't want to argue. I didn't want drama, conflict, and I definitely didn't want anything "complicated." But I also learned that you can still have a passion filled relationship without those attributes. 

Unfortunately, you need all those attributes to make an exciting and action packed romance book. So I'm torn on the genre. But despite my only personal tastes, I can still appreciate when someone writes well within the genre. 

In Wet by S. Jackson Rivera, she paints a gorgeous plot with warm sand filled beaches, crystal clear water, thrilling diving scenes, and a drama filled relationship that leaves you on the edge of your seat as you finish the last page. I can easily see how someone could binge-read the entire series over a weekend. 

Having only read the first book, my heart definitely went out to Rhees and I hated watching her suffer through the awkward situations and manipulations that her friends on the island put her through. Paul is an insufferable character who I really want to punch. But I can sense that there's a better person beneath the surface, and I'm hoping (fairly confidently) that by the third book, he will have seen the error of his ways and will step up to be the best man he can be. 

If you're a romance fan, I'm confident that this is a series that you will thoroughly enjoy. 


Some Bio Information

S. Jackson Rivera grew up on a ranch in eastern Oregon. She spent a lot of time alone, exploring and riding horses. She developed an active imagination and decided to start putting some of her fantasies in writing. Jungle: The Whispering Ruins, her first published story, was inspired by her love of a tropical setting. An avid scuba diver--'Wet' is a product of her love of the sport, she is always anticipating the next opportunity to visit the ocean which usually includes a nearby jungle. "Let's get wet!"

Like her on Facebook, S Jackson Rivera Author


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

The stories in my head usually start with a dream, add a little of my own life experience, throw in a little inspiration from the lives of people I know, and a vivid imagination . . . there you have it.
Between getting her Bachelor's degree and Dental school, my oldest daughter took off for Utila, Honduras to become a dive master. I was so proud and impressed with her courage--I never knew an adventure like that was even an option when I was her age. I'm passionate about diving, so I ended up visiting her 3 times while she was there and I loved the diving, the people, the shop, the whole experience. I think I felt truly grown up myself, even though I was a grown mother of college-aged kids. I'd never traveled any place by myself, let alone an exotic, Third World tropical island. A celebrity crush and a few dreams later, I became completely obsessed with Wet.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

1st stage is getting the scenes out of my head and onto my laptop. I feel like I'm channeling the characters, frantically trying to get my fingers to keep up with what they are showing me. Once the scene is finished, I read over it, fix the millions of typos, read it again, and LOVE IT! 

2nd stage is waiting at least 2 weeks (I write new scenes in the meantime) and then reading it again, shaking my head, seeing how terrible it is. I read and fix, read and fix, again and again until I can read it without hating it. That can take a while. 

3rd stage is when I finally love it again, and I can send it to my editor, and she tells me all the things she hates about it. I cry, curse her for not knowing what she's talking about, finally accept her advice, (most of the time) and set about fixing it again until we are both happy.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

That's a tricky question. My first book is a Young Adult, Action and Adventure, Paranormal. I was in the middle of writing the sequel when Wet hijacked my brain. I typed out a few scenes, just to get it out of my head, so I could get back to Jungle, but it just kept coming. I finally decided I'd hammer it out fast, since it was coming to me so strongly, publish it under a different pen name, THEN get back to Jungle. But I fell in love with Wet, and had to do it more justice than that. 

With only 1 book out, I hadn't established a brand yet, so I kept my name, despite the genre jump to romance. While Jungle is YA, most of the people who've read it are women and they're finding Wet now, too. Occasionally, I'll have someone tell me how he/she binge-read Wet and loved it, someone I thought would have hated it--because while it is not erotica, it definitely is not YA. One fan said, "I loved how provocative it is, without really being provocative." 

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I read to escape, and I really dislike books that get too preachy. I hope my books aren't preachy, but I do find myself planting little things in my writing that I hope could be of value to someone else, things I had to learn the hard way. Mostly, with both stories so far, I want girls to find the hidden strength in my heroines. Wet may be hard for some to see that because Rhees is a wimp, scared of her own shadow, the way I was when I was her age. So far, most people have seen how strong she really is, but she has to dig deeper than some to find that. Being strong doesn't come easy for all of us, those are the ones I hope to reach.

In Wet, I loved the journey of both characters. Paul and Rhees are two broken people who attempt to fix themselves with each other's help. It isn't easy, like in real life. There is no magic that can make the hard, scary stuff go away. We still have to face it. The alternative is to lay down and wait to die, which may take a while. Might as well take a deep breath and forge on.  

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Typically, the one I'm reading at the moment. Of course, because I get so intimate with my own, I love all of my characters almost as much as I love my own kids. How does a mother choose a favorite?
 
6) How would you describe your writing style?

Basic, rudimentary, unseasoned, unpolished, though I feel I'm much better now than when I started, I'll never be as good as I'd like to be. The Hub once told me he thought I wrote like Wilbur Smith, and I can kind of see it, but usually, when I read, I get so absorbed in the story, I don't have time to wonder if my own voice sounds like the one I'm reading. I'm too interested in finding out what happens next.


7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I hope to never stop learning, and perfecting my craft.

I hope to bring some happiness, or at least a little escape to those who read my stuff.

I'm not sure I'll ever get enough validation. I'd like to feel that, someday, validated.

And finally, I hope I'll still be writing for years to come, right up to the day I die, but I hope I don't leave anything unfinished when I do. I almost died a year ago in a diving--more a boating--accident. As I was drowning, my most poignant thought, and plea to God was, "But my book's not finished!" I finally finished Wet Part 3, two months later. Phew!

Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life

Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life - Joseph G. Langen, Ph.D.

It's 2016 and stress runs rampant in our world. Whether it's trying to get to work on time, fighting the daily commute, or simply trying to get your son to cooperate as you're attempting to get your house ready for yet another realtor showing (a little too specific?), we all struggle with stress. 

And it seems that many employers believe that our stress level somehow equals our efficiency level. If we're not stressed, we're not being challenged enough. 

In his book, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life, Joseph Langen draws from his 35 years as a professional psychologist to help his readers fight off stress and the horrible effect it can have on your life and health. 

This book will help you gain a better understanding of stress and why it has a hold in your life. From there, Langen gives many ideas on how to combat stress and lead yourself to a more peaceful and stress free life. 

This is a book that I plan to read again, especially when I have a little more time to focus on it. Learning to conquer your stress will require some life changes, not just a guided meditation when you're feeling overwhelmed. In order to truly learn to manage stress and keep it out of your life, serious and permanent changes will need to be made. 


Some Bio Information

Dr Langen, also known as Joe, is a retired psychologist. He worked for 35 years with children, teens, adults and seniors helping them with all sorts of stress in their lives. 

Dr. Langen graduated from the University of Illinois in 1971 with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. He worked at Temple University Counseling Center offering individual and group therapy to Temple students.

He next worked at De La Salle in Towne, an alternative high school and treatment program for delinquent boys in Philadelphia. He then moved to Western New York where he worked as Supervising Psychologist at Genesee County Mental Health Services in Batavia, specializing in treatment of teens and alcoholics.

At DePaul Mental Health in Rochester, he held the position of Chief Psychologist and Child and Adolescent Team Leader, offering individual, family and group counseling. He also participated in the Child Abuse Treatment Program.

He then entered private practice, offering individual and family therapy with children, teens and adults which he conducted in Williamsville NY and Batavia NY. He also conducted evaluations for Social Security, New York State Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

He began writing a newsletter for his private practice on commonsense wisdom topics. In 2000, he switched to a biweekly newspaper column at the Daily News in Batavia which he continued to publish until 2015. 

He is currently working on his latest book, From Violence to Peace. The goal of his writing is to help his readers live a more peaceful life in harmony with themselves, with each other and with the earth.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?
 
My thirty-five years as a professional psychologist inspired me to write this book. Everyone I worked with suffered from stress of one sort or another. I studied stress throughout my years of psychological practice and became well aware in my counseling of the many ways stress affected people's lives. Now that I am retired from working as a psychologist, I wanted to share what I have learned over these years and up to now have only been able to share on a one-to-one basis. 
 
 2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
 
I get ideas from my reading of books, magazines and newspapers as well as from Google alerts. Once I have an idea I think is worth pursuing, I might try a trial balloon with a blog. If I think more needs to be written, I consider a book-length treatment of the topic. I realized that stress has been addressed by many writers but never in a volume combining the definition and understanding of stress, its effect on the body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Then I wrote about how stress affects people in each of these areas and added ways to help with each kind of stress.  I tried to write at least five days a week for several hours, usually in the morning while working on the book. I also had several trusted readers for ways to improve the book.
 
3) What types of readers would benefit the most from this book? 
 
his book is geared for adults and older teens. I see it as most useful for readers who want to understand what causes stress, particularly the kinds of stress which affect them. It is meant for people who are ready to take a thoughtful look at the workings of their inner life and relationships to see how they could arrive at a more peaceful way of life.
 
4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?
 
hope readers will take away a better understanding of what stress is, where it comes from, how it affects them and what they can do about it on a variety of levels- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
 
5) Are there any additional resources you would recommend in the journey to battling stress?
 
hysically, I would recommend balanced nutrition and care in use of chemicals. Mentally I would recommend practice of yoga and mindfulness meditation, s well as organizing your life. Emotionally, I would suggest keeping a journal to help you be aware of your emotions and learn to manage them. Spiritually, I suggest learning to see your life in a wider perspective than your own personal wants and desires. Books I think especially useful are Thomas Berry's The Dream of the Earth, Albert Ellis's New Guide to Rational Living, Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul, Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, and Carla Wills-Brandon's Learning to Say No: Establishing Healthy Boundaries.  
 
6) What is the first step in successfully overcoming/dealing with stress? 
 
To my mind, the first step in handling stress is to admit its presence in your life and find some perspective by asking those who love and care about you whether they see you as suffering from stress and how they see it affecting you. It's hard to be objective about yourself.
 
7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?     
 
My ultimate writing goal is to help my readers live a more peaceful life both inside themselves and in relationship to others with whom they share the journey through life. I am currently working on a book, provisionally titled From Violence to Peace.     

Murder Beyond the Milky Way

Murder Beyond the Milky Way - Eric B. Ruark

I grew up on Murder Mysteries. Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun were my two favorites growing up. So naturally, I was highly excited to read Murder Beyond the Milky Way by Eric B. Ruark. 

Combining my all time favorite whodunit mystery genre with a science fiction backdrop on an isolated station made it this plot all the more exciting, interesting, and it definitely held me captivated until the final page. 

Ruark's writing style is easy to read and flows smoothly through the progression of the plot, giving the reader just enough to keep them guessing as to the ending while not giving away enough to spoil the whodunit component. 

Overall an excellent read. If you love murder mysteries and want to see one with a unique science fiction twist, then I highly recommend this one. I loved every second of it. 

 


Some Bio Information

I love a good mystery... books... TV... movies... real-life... which is why when I sit down at my keyboard, I have the tendency to write mystery stories. I was born and raised in Waterbury, Connecticut, but even at an early age, my parents encouraged me to travel, and although I'm a New England Preppie, I've been to schools in France and Switzerland and was the guest of Jose Greco, the famed Flamenco artist in Spain... all before I was 18 years old.

In college, I majored in English and Drama. I rowed on the varsity crew. After college, I took up acting. In Japan, you would have seen me as Babe Ruth in their popular show THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF JAPANESE BASEBALL. (That should give you a good idea of what I look like. I was Off-Off Broadway in BACKSTAGE BITCHES which had a limited run at the Cabaret Duplex in New York City. I was also in one of the road shows of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

Over the years I've had a love/hate relationship with writing. I've published a romance, RIVER OF RAIN for MacFadden under a pen name, and a mystery, THE CAMPUS KILLINGS under my own name. Both books are now out of print in the United States, although I hear that KILLINGS has recently been translated into Italian, but I no longer own the rights to that book.

When I turned 40, I took up bicycling and cycled across the country and down to Key West, Florida where I won the Hemingway Storytelling Contest several years in a row in the early 90s.

In 2004 Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine published ANTEBELLUM, a mystery set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and in May 2013, AHMM published SEEING DOUBLE, a modern mystery set in Maryland.

Currently, my wife and I live on a sailboat at a marina just off the Chesapeake Bay.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write MURDER BEYOND THE MILKY WAY? & 2) Can you tell us about your writing process.

MURDER BEYOND THE MILKY WAS is the product of several divergent ideas that merged into one.  The first one was simple.  I’m a mystery writer and I wanted to write a mystery.  But what kind of mystery.  I thought a murder mystery would be nice... a simple, straight forward someone lying in a pool of blood kind of mystery. 

Okay step one: if’ I was going to write a murder mystery, I needed a victim and not just any victim.  I had to kill someone whom the people in the story would care enough about to do something about it and thereby bring the reader along on their quest for answers.

To me, in its basic form, a murder mystery is a “QUEST” story, like the Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail.  The Holy Grail in a murder mystery is to not only find the killer but also to understand why the killer took that particular life in the first place.  So, I needed a knight, a hero... someone who cared enough about the situation of the murder to put out the effort to find the answer.

You see, if no one cared about the murdered man or what the murdered man stood for, or why he was killed then no one would be motivated enough to find the answers to the unsolved questions. It’s not just the murderer who needs a motive.  The protagonist also needs a motive to motivate him to solve the crime.

In the classic MALTESE FALCON, Sam Spade doesn’t care for his partner who is killed in the beginning of the book.  But Archer was his partner and whether he liked him or not, Spade was honor bound to do something about it.  Spade was a private detective.  It would be bad for business if he let the killer get away with the crime.  Spade cared about how he would be perceived by other people.  He was motivated by self-interest rather than a sense of justice.
Step two:  I am a great fan of General Hospital.  I got hooked on it back in the early 1990s when I was in the hospital with a ruptured pancreas.  (Another story for another time.)  During the months I spent flat on my back, the only thing I could do was watch TV.  This was in the days before cable and the hospital only had four stations: the hospital station and the ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates.  The TV was mounted on the wall and set to the ABC channel and I was too doped up to change it so I became addicted to the ABC soaps.   The Sonny/Jason dynamic has always intrigued me.  So when it came time to construct MURDER, I wondered what Jason would have done if Sonny had been killed?  (For you non GH fans, Sonny is a Godfather-like character and Jason is his chief enforcer.)

That gave me my first plot point: Steve Summerset is killed and Matt Quincey is angry enough to do something about it. (The why is a spoiler, I don’t want to reveal here.) 

As Sherlock Holmes said, “Come, Watson, come!  The game is afoot...”  But where were their feet going to tread?  Which brings me to the third idea that was floating around in my head: Communism.  Marx got it wrong... well, sort of.  He took a Biblical idea and missed the point in creating an economic system centered on the worker.

In the Bible in Acts 2:44-46 it is written And all that believed were together, and had all things common;  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart...  and then in Acts 4:34-35 it is written:  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,  And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need...

In these two examples, the first experiment in Communism was not centered on the worker, but on the workers’ devotion to God.  In the next chapter, Ananias and Sapphira bring a portion of the what they sold their property for and GOD killed them for claiming that they had brought it all.  Their eyes were obviously not on the prize.  Marx took religion out of the equation and made the state God.  Big mistake.  The state is merely a human construct that people may or may not develop devotion to.  A state can be over thrown, God cannot.

Therefore, if a community is going to function communistically, the individuals in that community must have their eyes set on something higher than the concept of a “State” or they have to be so personally invested in whatever they have they eyes set on that to over throw it is to over throw themselves.

Since no place like that can exist on the Earth, I created Magnum-4, a planet in an isolated portion of space.  The planet is made up of the most sought after commodity in the known universe, red ore.  The people on Magnum-4 are there for one reason and one reason only:  they intend to mine the planet to extinction and leave with more wealth than a human could hope to spend in several lifetimes (which is good since Youth Treatments have extended the normal human span out to close to a millennia if anyone had the money to pay for it.)  The inhabitants of Magnum-4 have the money and more.  Greed is their god and self-interest is the motivator.  To go against the system is in every respect to go against themselves.  Very few people will go out of the way to shoot themselves in the foot.  It hurts and most people will do anything to avoid pain.

So... by necessity, in order to have fun with my idea of communism, I had to take my players into the realm of space opera.  I consider MURDER BEYOND THE MILKY WAY more a space opera than a science fiction piece.  A reader may disagree.  One of my beta-readers has suggested that my Quincey character owes more to Kurosawa than to General Hospital since with Steve’s death, Quincey acts very much like the Ronin in YOJIMBO.  I won’t deny it.  I’ve seen Kurosawa’s films dozens of times and could easily have absorbed some of his ideas.  In MURDER, Quincey is so angry that the Vigilance Committee, itself a star chamber with the power of life and death over everyone on Magnum-4, literally does not want to get in his way.  They know that when he catches the killer, his justice will be as swift as theirs.  It suits their purpose to give him carte blanche and back off.  (Why is another spoiler.)

Okay.  So I have a murder taking place on the edge of explored space.  Who or what controls “explored” space?  And here, I owe a lot to William Harrison’s ROLLERBALL.  Corporations run things in the future, just as they do now, only there is no need to hide behind pseudo-governments.  The corporations have divided the arm of the galaxy between themselves.  They missed Magnum-4 because it was literally off their radar and by the time they realized it was there, the miners were already in place and producing.  Think of the Kimberly diamond mines and you’ll pretty much have my prototype for the operation out in space and the effect that they would have should they flood the market with their product.

I have the crime.  I have the place.  Now all I needed to do was populate my fictional world with a planet load of fictional characters.  (Who said that writing isn’t fun.)  I had two problems, here, I had to overcome.  The first, there were going to be no persons of color in the story.  There didn’t need to be since by this time in man’s future, the human race had become homogenized.   Periodically, you have recessive genes re-emerging giving people like Alyson Lehman her striking black hair and almond shaped eyes.  The second problem dealt with aliens, or the lack thereof.

Way back in college, I read a book by a mathematician called THE BLIND WATCHMAKER.  In it he postulated that it would take an infinite universe with an infinite number galaxies with an infinite number of planets just to reduce the probability of life occurring on one of them to zero.  In other words, there are no aliens.  We are alone.  Using his theory, I can send anyone anywhere and not worry about stepping one someone’s squiggly toes.

I also chose to avoid the metric system measurements.  By definition a meter is one-ten-millionth the distance from the equator to the pole measured on a meridian on Earth (my italics).  To me that meant that unless the non-earth planet were the exact same size as Earth itself, a meter on one planet would be different than a meter on another planet.  However, an inch on Earth is an inch on Mars and so on.

Once I had the who and the where, I had to create a timeline into which I had to weave the what, when and why of the story.

While Lydia is at a meeting with the planet’s mine owners, Steve is murdered.  A blade-like shard of sharp silicon rock is shoved into his chest.  I know by whom and why they did it.  I know it, but Quincey doesn’t; neither does Lydia, Steve’s lover and member of the all-powerful Directorate that controls their particular parsec of space; nor Jane, Steve’s daughter; nor Harry Salem, the poor son-of-a-bitch who has been sent to the farthest reaches known to man to convince Lydia to return to Earth Prime and resume her duties as part of the Directorate.  This allowed me to make Harry the unwilling Watson to Quincey’s Holmes.

Harry is literally dragged kicking and screaming into a mystery abut which he could care less. However, over the course of the novel he comes to care about it and the people who are affected by it.  Add to this core of central characters a list of subsidiary ones who populate, live on and work on Magnum-4 and who frequently get in each other’s way and there you have it.

3.) What kinds of readers would most enjoy your work?

Hopefully all mystery and scifi readers say sixteen and older.

4.) What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?

A new understanding of the problems that currently beset mankind.

5.) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Ahab from MOBY DICK.

6.) How would you describe your writing style?

Conversational.  I like to write as if I am physically telling someone the story.

7.) What's your ultimate writing goal?

To tell a story that people will remember.

Mooniana: And the Secrets of the Lost Chronicles of Sophia

Mooniana: And the Secrets of the Lost Chronicles of Sophia - Miranda Moondawn

A beautifully written and spellbinding novel that weaves together the stories of six muses and their journey on earth. 

The imagery is breathtaking and the style in which the text is written keeps you hanging on the author's every word until the final page is turned. 

Yet another book that you can take at face value and still enjoy the plot or you can dive deeper into the underlying genres and messages that the author lays out for readers to pursue. 

 


Some Bio Information

Romantic Poet, Gnostic Visionary and Faery Bard: Political Radical, Free Thinker, Androgyne and Mad Soul: How does one describe Miranda Moondawn? From her youth Miranda's passion for creative writing, music and art, along with her fascination with the philosophical and the spiritual, have always been totally inseparable. Coupled with her study and practise of the esoteric Wisdoms of Hermetic Magicke, Gnosticism and Shaktism, Miranda has also buried her soul in the magic and mysticism of English Romantic poetry, Greek myth and Hindu and Celtic lore.

Her major literary and occult influences are Dion Fortune (Moon Magic and The Mystical Qabalah), William Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Songs of Innocence and Experience), George Macdonald (Phantastes and Lilith) - along with other diverse authors such as Peter Brook (Mahabharata), David Crawley (Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses) and Bentley Layton (The Gnostic Scriptures).

To supplement and give a bit of grounding to her creative writing and esoteric practises, Miranda has also completed a Master's degree and PhD in Bollywood film and Hindu cultural studies from Copenhagen University. In her field of expertise, she has deeply immersed herself, not only in the song and dance genre of Indian cinema, but also in the ancient Vedic dance and theatre tradition of the Natyashastra and the Rasa-Lila devotional tradition of Gita Govinda and the Srimad Bhagavatam.

In her spare time, Miranda also plays folk guitar and piano and sings and composes her own music based on her fascination for Indian classical music and the melancholic refrains of the Celtic bards - notwithstanding that she was also a big fan of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin in her teenage years!

At present our mad moony Miranda lives in Charlottenlund Denmark, by the sea, with her son Tristan and their fluffy little bichon Shimba. Here, in-between the black and white sparkles of the Moonlit ocean, she hears the Siren's song in the Kore of her soul and hearkens to the whispers of the Earth, as she writes down all their secrets for her book - MOONIANA AND THE SECRET OF THE LOST CHRONICLES OF SOPHIA.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

My book Mooniana and the Secret of the Lost Chronicles of Sophia was inspired by Romantic poets like William Blake, Hermetic occultists like Dion Fortune, the Gnostic tradition and some Indian Tantric philosophy and practise, as well as Ritual Theatre as a process of psycho spiritual transformation and tuning in to the archetypes of humanities collective Memory.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

My writing process for Mooniana is very much based on my studies and practises of Gnosticism and Tantra, as well as my travels in Europe and India and some of the amazing people I have met along the way. I have contrasted these fellow seekers and visionairies with the self serving politics and materialism of the contemporary society of the period where the novel takes place (1991 to 2001).

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

Readers who would most enjoy my work are those with a passion for Romanticism, Gnosticism, Paganism and anyone interested in diving deep into the archetypes of Hindu, Greek and Viking myth and lore - especially as regards the individual and/or collective awakening of the Goddess or the Divine Feminine.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I would hope that the readers will be inspired enough by my writing to explore the themes in greater detail and find a place to live out some of the ideas and practises out in their lives. My book is about the initiation of six women, the Siren Muses of my story and their rite of passage into the Wisdom of humanities collective Memory and the mysteries of the World Soul of Gaia or Mother Earth. It is one of the goals of the book that the reader undergo a similar initiation and rite of passage in their own lives!

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

My favourite fictional character is probably Lilith Le Fey from Dion Fortune's amazing Qabalistic novel "Moon Magic". In many ways Moon Magic started me on my inner magical journey which led me to Blake, Macdonald and loads of other poets and mystics.

6) How would you describe your writing style?

My Writing Style is a hybrid cross between Romanticism, the Epic, the Gothic and Magic Realism. It is a style which both looks forward as well as back into the various genres of our collective cultural memory and literary past. Due to the mix of writing styles Mooniana is sometimes a bit challenging to read, especially for those who don't have much background in these areas. But at the same time I wanted to be totally faithful to the Magical World of my heroines, so it was necessary for me to get as far away as possible from the predictable themes, characters and literary style of the Hollywood script novel. And I have certainly done that!

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

My writing goal is to write to my full creative potential and find as many readers as possible who are interested in digging deep into our collective cultural memory and finding as many of those strange and murky stories as possible. As Oscar Wilde once said those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril. At the same time, the deeper you go the more treasures of Wisdom and Gnosis you will find. In this book Mooniana, I think I have found quite a few and I want to continue digging until I find even more

Destiny

Destiny - S M Spencer

A fun twist on the young adult paranormal genre. Spencer offers up young love, vampires, ghosts, action, excitement, and much more. 

Lili is a fun main character who jumps into this new world she's discovered with both feet. As anyone who recently exited a serious relationship, she goes back and forth regarding her feelings for Sam, who has his own reservations about the emotions she stirs in him. 

Overall I enjoyed the book and was left anxious to know what would happen in the rest of the series. I enjoy when romance is mixed with paranormal,  it gives the genre a refreshing take (even though it's taken on a genre of its own now) and gives readers more than just another drama filled romance book. 

Very well written and definitely left me wanting more. If you're a fan of paranormal romance, I'd recommend the Absent Shadows Trilogy. 


Some Bio Information

S M Spencer grew up writing stories about the horses she pretended to ride through the rolling coastal hills of California. She finally bought her first horse at the age of 16, and then dreamt of having horses on her own property one day.

As a teenager, she discovered the romantic suspense works of marvelous authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart, as well as a wide range of other genres by incredible authors such as Ray Bradbury, Amy Tan and J.R.R. Tolkien. These wonderful works stirred a passion in her--to one day become a writer herself.

Now living in Australia, she has combined her dreams--she writes from the semi-rural home she shares with her husband, horses, cats and dogs--not to mention the mob of kangaroos that share the paddocks with the horses from time to time.

Her current series is the Copperhead Creek Australian Romance series. This is clean Australian contemporary/rural romance set within the Golden Triangle outside Melbourne. 

She has also written a clean YA paranormal romance trilogy, Absent Shadows, which is set mostly in Australia. 


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?  

I was working near the Queen Victoria Markets and the Flagstaff Gardens where the book takes place. The market’s car park was actually built over a very old graveyard, and most of the bodies were never removed – I’d been on a couple of ghost tours through that area and found it fascinating. Of course, the popularity of vampires was also an inspiration for someone who grew up watching the original “Dark Shadows” – but now I’m showing my age!

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I write in spurts – I don’t get “writer’s block” because I simply don’t worry about it. When I’m inspired I might write for 8 hours or more a day for days at a time – but then I mightn’t write again for a week or so. I simply write when I’m in the mood to do so.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

The Absent Shadows Trilogy was written for the teen/YA audience – the MC’s are 19-20 year olds. It’s pretty clean – probably PG13. But adults who enjoy YA books with realistic heroines (not larger than life superhero females) will also enjoy it.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

These books are mostly for pure enjoyment – there are no real ‘messages’ in them, other than to follow your heart.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Well, it used to be Winnie the Pooh & Tigger many years ago. More recently Aragorn and Frodo are up there, along with Legolas ... Harry Potter & co ... Tris from Divergent (because I like her taste in men) ... Stephanie Plumm (because she is so cheeky).

6) How would you describe your writing style?

Easy to read, fast paced, not too deep but not completely superficial either, the good guys will win, the bad guys will lose.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To make as many people happy as possible. I get a kick out of knowing people are reading MY books and enjoying them, hopefully the way I have enjoyed so many over the years.

A Glimmer of Hope

A Glimmer of Hope - Debbi Silverman

We all need hope in this day and age. With so much seeming to go wrong around us, and all the negativity in the newspapers and on tv, it's hard to stay positive and see the inspiration in our daily lives. 

Debbi Silverman takes the time to retell and celebrate the miracles that she's seen happen in her own life and the lives of her family members throughout the years. 

Written in a positive, upbeat, and inspirational manner, this book will leave you considering your own life and looking at the situations you've survived in a different light. She shows that it's important to look at our journey from all sides, not just considering the negatives, but all the positive that came from those negatives, or even just how surviving it made you a stronger individual. 


Some Bio Information

Debbi Silverman is a crazy mom who juggles a teenager's nightmarish dance schedule, volunteering extensively because she has issues saying no, a career and her passion for writing. She is happily married to an amazing man who allows her to be a lunatic as much as necessary to achieve her dreams and supports her wholeheartedly. She has three adult sons who had the good sense to move out and start their own families. She lives in New Jersey with her wonderful husband, teenage daughter, and neurotic toy fox terrier where there are exorbitant property taxes and she dreams of moving to a warmer climate.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?

The prologue explains how I arrived at this place where writers sit at paper strewn desks muddling through thoughts and notes and emotions trying to organize them into something interesting, coherent and readable. My journey is probably pretty unique. The reality - God told me to write the book. I know it sounds fantastic. It is fantastic and weird. When you consider God spoke to me from the backseat of a red Chevy Cavalier it is even more bizarre. It's true though which makes the whole book about miracles even more miraculous. 

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

It was terrible for this book. I'm a purger. I sit and write and stuff pours out of me and I can write for hours or I sit and putter and accomplish nothing. Feast or famine at the keyboard is a daily occurrence. With "Glimmer of Hope", God told me to write it and I went home and wrote 128 pages in one sitting and it was amazing....then I edited it for grammar and sucked all the passion out of it. It was awful. So for 10 years I puttered and edited it and rewrote it and struggled with it. I couldn't figure out for the life of me what was wrong. Then in January of 2015, I read through the manuscript and realized it was autobiographical. Trouble is I'm not all that interesting. I had edited the miraculous nature of the stories and God out of the book. I set upon correcting that and it was like a domino race to the finish, the whole thing literally fell into place.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

For this book, most definitely anyone. It is non-denominational and definitely not an authoritative religious book. It is a fun and interesting look at miracles and God's hand touching lives in some spectacular and often amusing ways. Definitely not your preachy teachy kind of book. I don't do preachy teachy. 

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I'd love if people would take the time to reflect on their own lives and the miracles within it and to take just a moment to be grateful. I know that I often forget all the blessings I have when I'm busy worried about that which I don't have. That which I don't have usually involves money. God always provides but it doesn't mean that despite a book, and hearing God's voice, and knowing about all these miraculous things and experiencing them, that I still forget to be grateful for what I do have. 

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Wow. This is hard. The well read me would like to say Jane Eyre, but that is rather predictable, although Jane rocks. My favorite works of fiction have wonderful characters, but neither has a favorite that is jumping out. Delores Claiborne comes to mind as one of my favorites. From the book of the same name by Stephen King, she is a survivor. Murdering her way out of an abusive marriage and working for years as an abused employee of a stingy and bitter old woman her slanted thought process may be unorthodox, but her survival instincts are spot on. She has done a terrible thing out of necessity, she dodged the bullet and survived by sheer luck. It isn't lost on her and the price she pays is more abuse, yet in the end she turns out to be more kindhearted and good beneath the very calloused shell around her heart. 

6) How would you describe your writing style?

Emotional. I'm certain there are very distinct styles of writing, but honestly I write whatever I hear in my head. The words stumble out in a conversation of sorts that tells a story. The words may be mine or may be a characters. I suppose the style changes depending on which voice is telling the story. "A Glimmer of Hope" is my voice sharing the stories and miracles that shaped my life. My next book, "The Seamstress" is very different in tone and style. It's a fictional book, part of a trilogy. The protagonist, a fourteen year old princess stripped of her crown and forced into exile in the Americas, she learns to survive in ways she never imagined in her privileged world. From New York City to Washington State her travels and exploits are back breaking and life shaping. The stories are loosely based on my 2nd time great grandmother, great grandmother and grandmother's lives. I have several stories in the file waiting to come to life. Each book is very much like a child. It has a unique voice, personality, and style.  

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

A bestseller of course!! Fame, Fortune, Fun!!!  Naturally, to have those things it would mean people love reading my work, so that is probably most truly my goal. To have lots and lots of readers who love my books. For now though, I'd take more self discipline and better focus, so I can accomplish more in the time I set aside to work on writing. I used to admire Danielle Steel and Stephen King because they could kick out a book or two a year. I now worship James Patterson in his dedication to his art. I believe that on "Sunday Morning" last week he said that he will be publishing 57 books this year. 57! Imagine that. Now he does have a staff, but even so, he shared his files - the long legal style drawers which surrounded his office. There were at minimum eight that he showed and within them were file folders each containing the beginnings of a work in progress. There were hundreds of files. I aspire to that level of creativity and passion and dedication. I was so in awe. 

A Stitch in Time

A Stitch in Time - Ian Murray-Watson

I had a lot of fun reading this book. 

Isn't that enough of a review? There are very few books that just leave me feeling like I've taken a relaxing and enjoyable vacation from life. I smiled, laughed, and overall just really enjoyed the plot, characters, and Ian Murray-Watson's writing style. 

I think that the best way to read this book, in order to ensure optimal enjoyment, is to just sit back and let the author take you for a ride. Set aside your rational and linear way of thinking and trust the author to see you safely to the conclusion of the book. 

I really can't recommend this book enough, especially if you're feeling overly stressed or have just been taking life too seriously lately. This book will leave you feeling happy and refreshed - at least, that's what it did for me!


Some Bio Information

I’m a retired ancient – not quite as old as Grandfather Time yet but swaying alarmingly in the wind – who gets a lot of fun out of writing silly stories.

I’ve been, variously, a teacher, a researcher (political and otherwise), an amateur jockey, a musician, a software writer and a chocolatier (and probably a few more things I’ve forgotten). I’m far too well educated for my own good, and I get bored easily.

I live in the depths of Herefordshire with wife and dog. I enjoy playing the piano, walking, gardening, eating (when I can remember to take my pills), visits from my sons and grandchildren, and going everywhere and anywhere to hear opera (it’s often cheaper to go to Amsterdam, Paris or Berlin – even Australia - than to go to London) – and, of course, long discussions about the nature of Reality with anybody who can understand what on earth I’m talking about.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?

Fun, basically. The desire to take some crazy ideas (dream people are real, the physics of the dream world is consistent and quantum-like) and see where they lead.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I need to be in the right mood (silly), which fortunately I am most of the time. Then I just set the characters off and see what happens. I don't write to the plot, which tends to develop in unexpected directions as I scribble (or, in this case, type). I write scenes and sections and then fit them together.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

Lunatics? Seriously, ppl do need to have some appreciation of the developments in physics, though only at popular TV program level, and understand that the question of reality and consciousness is a crucial one. Then they may find some interesting, as well as silly, ideas. In practice, and surprisingly, I find that the book appears to appeal most to my generation, perhaps because they are fairly well educated and 'get' the cultural references and jokes. Having said that, I've found people who have none of these attributes enjoy the book simply as a story.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

I think the above says most of it. Fun, a good story, intellectual challenge maybe. Some of the ideas which appear to be very tongue-in-cheek are actually quite serious, but I'm not admitting which ones. (The sequel, or since there's no time in Astralia, maybe the prequel, is even madder)

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Goodness knows. I've never thought about it. Maybe Mouse (the family dog in an Elizabeth Goodge trilogy), or Miss Marple? My taste is not terribly highbrow.

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

It can be described?  I might say something like plodding with an occasional shaft of wit, and hope that other people might be kinder.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

At my age (70), the next breakfast. Realistically, to sell a book and give people a good read

Glitch in the Machine

Glitch in the Machine - Edgar Swamp

There is lots to love about Glitch in the Machine by Edgar Swamp. I've always enjoyed satire, even if I'm not able to fully grasp the extent to which the author is speaking. 

Floyd is both likable and detestable as he tries to navigate the world that he's just had his eyes opened to. I enjoyed watching him struggle to understand and make sense of all that was happening around him. 

The present day application can easily be seen, but honestly, if you want to close your eyes to it and just enjoy the action packed ride that Edgar Swamp takes you on, it's a fun and exciting dystopian adventure in and of itself. 

Excellent writing, thorough plot, and an ending that left me surprised and content all at the same time. 


Some Bio Information

Edgar Swamp is the author of The Gyre Mission; Journey to the *sshole of the World. His short stories have appeared in Death Head Grin, Macabre Cadaver, The Far Side of Midnight, and Alienskin Magazine. He is presently at work on a new novel, 'Blackout; The Life and Sordid Times of Bobby Travis', a book that endeavors to continue in the tradition of The Gyre Mission: proving Swamp can come up with an overly long subtitle for what could have been a one-word title. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! He lives and works in Carlsbad, California.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

The Citizen's United ruling had been passed, meaning essentially that a presidential hopeful could successfully buy the American Presidency if they had enough money. Also, President Obama wanted to reform health care while Mitt Romney wanted to eliminate it. I envisioned an America where health care was mandatory but claims never paid; the poor died in the streets (or were killed by health care assassins) while the rich 1% lived in luxury. I thought it would be the ultimate dystopian scenario, mirroring reality with a funhouse mirror..

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I start with a big idea, in this case mandatory health care that never paid out claims, then follow it with the characters. Glitch is from the viewpoint of a health care assassin, a man who is trained (engineered) to brutally murder anyone who can't pay their health insurance bills. I then filled in the most obvious characters around him, a co-worker, a friend, a love interest etc. I always go into a novel with a vague idea of where it is going to go but never really know myself until it gets there. I let the idea play itself out, let it go where it needs to in order for the story to blossom.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

Fans of satire and black comedy tend to enjoy my books rather than traditional fans of science fiction, horror or dystopian fiction. In fact, some dystopian fans were disappointed in Glitch because it wasn't anything like Divergent or the Hunger Games. It wasn't meant to be; this is satire, like Mad Magazine, spoofing reality in a way that makes everyone involved (even the lead character) appear to be an unintelligent, blundering imbecile (until he's needed to kick some butt, then retribution is in order!).

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

This was meant to be a kick in the pants to the health insurance industry as well as the political party that that didn't want there to be health care reform in the US. The book appears as if I am against health care reform, but that is what satire does: it takes the viewpoint of the opposing side so it can expose all of it's flaws with impunity.

The lead character espouses his warped ideals (some of them taken directly from political candidates) and in doing so makes readers hate him because of how cruel and idiotic his belief system appears to be. Through the book he changes as he sees what he is doing to society with his callous acts of violence, but it doesn't matter, you can't fight the machine. It's too big and powerful and the individual is always engulfed in the tidal waste of casual rhetoric and throwaway propaganda.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Jack Torrance, Stephen King's Overlook Hotel caretaker. I think he is misunderstood; inside is a man who really loves his family, even though the ghosts of the hotel convince him to try and kill them. In an alternate reality he succeeds and lives forever in the history of the Overlook. In another reality he fights the ghosts and escapes with Wendy and Danny and they all move to Florida to fight giant alligators in the swamps near Disneyland.

6) How would you describe your writing style?

Stylistically very visceral and comedic. Everything is a joke to me, and I like to pretend I'm being serious when in fact I'm playing around. Glitch (despite everything I've said) isn't meant to be taken seriously. I mean, a 700 pound woman? She wouldn't even be able to walk! The book was meant as a joke, even though the subject matter is controversial. I like poking fun at everybody, myself included. Unfortunately, it appears I'm one of the only ones who got the joke...

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

To entertain, but also to discuss topics that are trending and tie random subjects together to create a whole network of possibilities. A friend accused me of combing the Internet for conspiracy theories and putting them all together for this book. Actually, most of the things mentioned therein are either real (such as toilet-to-tap technology) or I made up myself (experiments on homeless children to see if they could be transformed into serial killers) or ideas inspired by other writers of dystopian fiction (sugar being modified and used as a means for population control...an idea I believe I came up with from seeing Soilent Green. Two different things, but 'inspired by' nonetheless). In the end it's only entertainment, but with a message and a moral. The message is up to the reader to decide, and the moral is 'always do the right thing and justice will prevail' even though that is a bunch of hooey! The house always wins, people! It's not rocket science!

Digitarum

Digitarum - Derek Bailey

This was a book unlike anything I've ever read. Watching a world being built from nothing was exciting and enjoyable. I was fascinated to see how the gods would learn to interact with one another and with their creations. 

The characters are well developed, regardless of whether they were one of the five gods, or one of the creations that routinely interacted with the gods. 

The plot was detailed, intricate, and overall well put together. With so many twists and turns,  I can appreciate all the time and effort it must have taken to keep the timeline straight. 

In addition, I really liked that this was a book that you could led the author lead you through, not bothering to read between the lines, and just enjoy the journey that you're taken on,  or alternatively, you could really dig in and read between the lines. I could see myself rereading this book down the road and making realizations that I had missed during my first reading. 

Bailey's writing style is one that is easy to read and holds you captive until the final page. If you're looking for something new and unique to enjoy, I recommend this. 


Some Bio Information

Derek Bailey is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University’s Game Design and Development Program (BA) where he also completed minor in Creative Writing. He is a graduate of the four year Honors Program, was President of the Game Design and Development Club, served as a Peer  Educator, and frequently acted as a Lector during Sunday Mass on campus. He has a passion for storytelling in all forms and across a number of genres. He has ghostwritten a science fiction novel and submitted other pieces of work to various publishers. He’s happily employed as a Business Systems Analyst, but enjoys writing on the side as a means of expressing himself and sharing his thoughts on life.  


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

Digitarum is inspired by my love for world mythologies and religions. Myths, legends, folklore, parables, and fables were some of the first types of stories that mankind cherished so I thought it would be appropriate to try out indie authorship with a sort of mythology of my own.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

It involves a lot of thinking. I try to be very thorough in mapping everything out very carefully with the understanding that stuff will shift around once I actually dive into the writing phase and the story begins to take a life of its own. I also always try to start off my process with both a beginning and an ending then fill in the space in between, though I generally still actually write the story from beginning to end.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

I think this question will be very different for what I'm working on right now, but for Digitarum, I'd say that you definitely have to love myths and folklore in order to fully appreciate it. The distant sort of tone that marks this style of fiction is employed heavily here so if you don't like it, then my book definitely won't resonate well with you. I think you also have to have a decent amount of interest in world-building since the book is really about a world/culture as opposed to a single character which has thrown some readers off a little since most science fiction and fantasy centers around a well developed character or set of characters.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

First of all, I hope they have fun reading it, because it was great fun to write it. I also hope it makes them think about things in their life and the world around them. I touch upon some relatively serious topics in this book, but I hope that readers take them more as questions than an expression of any particular opinion. I think fiction should make us ponder existence as we know it and my favorite books tend to be the ones that leave me wondering about something so that's the kind of experience I'd love for my readers to have too.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

That would have to be Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. I love that he's kind of a bait-and-switch character in some respects. He's everything that's bright and beautiful and bold about a man living in the twenties while simultaneously also being the embodiment of everything that's dark and depressing. I think it's quite masterful the way that he's first introduced as this extraordinary man of great wealth and flare, but as we read on we realize he's got more than his fair share of personal issues, yet he's still likable somehow. There's just a lot of depth to him and I think he serves as a rather provocative statement about both the era he exists in as well as about wealth and status itself. 

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

It's a little old-timey in a way. I tend to write with long, sloping sentences and like to use somewhat irregular words (I blame my high school English teachers for drilling so many words into me with the relentless vocab quizzes). I'm also very visual in how I depict any piece of fiction I write. I'm visually oriented in general and really love movies with flashy action sequences or sharp imagery so I try to take some of that magic and translate it into a literary context.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I'm sorry to say that my goals are actually rather boring. I don't really have ambitions to be the next J.R.R. Tolkein or anything like that. I just want to share my fiction with others, hopefully have some people read and enjoy it, and maybe build up a small, but loyal following along the way. If my work was to be considered a cult classic at some point, I would feel very proud for sure. 

The Moors

The Moors - Jody Medland

I loved the concept behind this work: a journalist going undercover to expose a dark and sinister place, too many secrets, and a rumored monster who terrorizes the home. The set up was great - I was hooked immediately. If this had been a Netflix Horror Movie, it would have been added to my queue immediately. I love "creature features." 

The plot is very well written, I had no trouble keeping up with the information the main character was stumbling across. While I found myself asking a few additional questions, overall I had no issues with where the plot led. 

While I was not exactly appeased by the conclusion of the work, I give the author credit for choosing to go down a unique path instead of wrapping it all up in a nice and neat little bow. But I definitely found myself wanting more as I closed the book. 

Despite that small detail, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the work and would definitely recommend it. 


Some Bio Information

JODY MEDLAND is an award-winning writer who has worked successfully across the advertising, education, film, gaming, literary and television industries.

His debut feature film, The Adored, was released in the States in 2013 and has since enjoyed worldwide distribution, including territories such as the UK, Germany, Poland and Uganda. It won Best Film at the Durban Film Festival in South Africa and earned three official selections in Wales, Germany and the US.

Jody is deeply passionate about his literary work and from 2011-2012 he produced and published ten short story books, titled The Emerging Light Series – a project that encouraged new writers to create and submit short stories.

It is the ability to wield strong, original concepts that Jody is renowned for among his peers and he is a great fan of dramas, thrillers and mystical stories, which are his genres of choice when writing.


Q&A

1. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write this book.

Well it actually started as a screenplay. When I was a teenager, I was living in Devon and saving the money to move to London so I could get work experience in film. I had a summer job delivering bouncy castles and there was this one place – right in the middle of Exmoor – that was beautiful by day but terrifying at night. In the evening when I picked the bouncy castle back up, the engine of my van started spluttering and I wondered what I would do if I broke down. If you’ve ever been on your own in the middle of a place like Exmoor in the early hours of the morning, you’ll understand exactly why my brain was ticking! I had a few wild ideas that seemed to formulate over the next few days, and that became the catalyst for The Moors

2. How long did it take you to put your work together?

That’s a tough one to answer. I wrote it as a script, went to places like Cannes Film Festival, touted it around and got some interest. In fact, I raised £800,000 of in-kind sponsorship, but I needed £1.7 million to make the film and I wasn’t quite well connected enough to secure the hard cash, so it didn’t quite get off the ground. I had producers offering to buy the script, but only if I forfeited the right to direct the film, so I declined. After that, I stepped away from The Moors for about ten years, but I always knew I would pick it up again when the time was right. Last summer, I decided it would work well as a novel and so I started writing. Within six weeks, the first draft was complete, and then I did about six months’ worth of rewrites. So as you can see, it’s hard to really know where time started and stopped. It was always at the back of my mind and so you could say it was about twelve years in the making.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

For this project, it was very confused. Ha! Adapting something from a screenplay to a novel is pretty rare, but it was actually quite an enlightening experience. I literally cut and pasted the script in a Word document and then went through making notes about what I felt was missing, and where details needed to be fleshed out, etc. I’m an obsessive note taker, so I had scores of pieces of paper with ideas scribbled from the past decade – all for when I resumed work on the story again. It might sound a bit manic but, rather oddly, everything just seemed to fall into place. It was honestly one of the best writing experiences I’d had, but I feel like I’d been writing it subconsciously for a long time. In many ways, the creation of The Moors goes against everything I’ve learnt about how to structure a piece of work, but what can I say? It worked out, and I’m very proud of it. 

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process?

The edits. Any writer worth their salt knows how essential editing is, but when you have a great new idea and you start working on it, there’s no greater feeling. You’re on a high for weeks and months as you write, but in the cold light of day when you read it all back, you realise that to get it in good enough shape for the marketplace, you’re probably going to have to read it between fifteen and twenty times to highlight and fix the things that don’t quite work. By the end, you feel like you never want to read it again, and so I find the editing process a painful one. Of course, whenever I talk to somebody who’s a fan of the book though, it feels more than worth it.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I find it difficult to judge my own style. One thing I guess I can objectively say is that my concepts are quite bold and daring, and everything I do is very character-led. My interest is in people and how they react in unique situations. Many of the characters in my stories are under huge pressures of some kind, and I think that’s when people are at their most interesting – when their backs are completely against the wall. I’m very interested in relationships and motivations. What makes us do the things we do? Why I think my work is quite bold is that I usually take on storylines that put a spin on tradition. It may be that my subject matter isn’t always entirely believable, yet the challenge of making readers believe in it anyway, and also have a deep personal experience, is the whole reason I write.

6. What is your ultimate writing goal?

All I know is that writing is the only natural gift I have. For some reason, coming up with original ideas is a knack I was born with and I can sit and write for hours on end, and never get bored. I think when you can do something for 18-hours a day and still want to do it the next, you need to realise you’re lucky and keep going. I don’t think I’ll learn the reason for why I write in my lifetime. I just honestly feel like it’s the reason I’m here and so I do it every day. Of course, it would be nice to be recognised within the industry in some kind of grand way, but I wouldn’t be too upset if that day never come. Whenever I’m approached by somebody who excitedly talks to me about something I’ve written – when I can tell that they get the story and that it’s affected them somehow – there’s honestly no other feeling like it. Equally, now that I run my own publishing company, I’m getting just as much of a kick out of our other authors’ work. There are a handful of books coming out this year that I just can’t wait for people to see, so I’m trying not to set many goals other than to expand the company and get more content into readers’ hands.

7. What would you like readers to take away from your work?

It depends on the subject. With my fictional books, I’d just like the readers to be entertained because escapism is an extremely powerful thing to be able to offer. Whenever I work on non-fiction, I just hope that the message sticks. For instance, we’re releasing a book in June – a memoir, titled Street Girl. It documents the life of a young girl who grew up on the streets of Brazil and faced violence, rape and torture on a daily basis. The things she went through – even by the time she was my daughter’s age – should never be experienced by anyone. The reason I wanted to publish it is because the Olympics are in Brazil this year and I’m fully aware of how glamorous the country will be made to look while the event’s on. What I want to do is let people know there’s a whole other side to the country that needs to be addressed. I have a meeting lined up with the Brazilian Embassy and I’ve also secured the author some air time on TV this week. We’ll do what we can to get the message out there over the next few months because I thinks it’s an important one, so depending on the content our any given release, I think the takeaways for the reader will always be different.

Sands of Time: Fate of the True Vampires

Sands of Time - Christine Church

If you peruse my 2015 Reading List on my website, you'll see a lot of paranormal titles. It's a fun genre to write in - I totally get it. But what I really love is when an author takes a normal and everyday genre and transforms it into their own vision. 

Sands of Time take the paranormal genre and turns it into a form of historical fiction, which I absolutely loved. What I would like to see more of is people researching these found texts and searching for more intermixed between the translated texts. But the story of Kesi is fascinated to read. 

The text is extremely well written and reads extremely smoothly. Despite the break in texts, I had no trouble flowing from one chapter to the next. Overall extremely fascinating and I look forward to reading more from this author!


Some Bio Information

Christine began writing at the age of nine, penning and illustrating picture books, taping them together, and even creating a publishing company. In school, she could be found sitting in the back of the class, writing short stories (she aced English and literature). By 1992 she was professionally published in both nonfiction and short stories. In 1998 her book was traditionally published, which led to many more book deals (nonfiction). Her books and articles have won many awards.

She lives for the paranormal, writes in the deep dark night and has a closet full of Goth clothing rarely worn any longer. By day she works at a horse barn caring for 7 horses, including her own noble steed–her best friend, her “son" and therapist, a grey overo Paint named Kobeejo, who has a great personality and an expensive appetite.

She is also a professional photographer, (loving to capture beauty and make it immortal), an actress, and voiceover artist as well. In rare spare time, she loves riding, target archery, swimming, singing and auditioning for the TV show “Survivor.”


Q&A

1. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write this book.

Actually, that’s a story in itself. In the mid 1990’s I wrote my first vampire novel, called “Love’s Timeless Melody.” It was inspired by the song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ by Bonnie Tyler. But, I did little with it. Finally, in 2015 I decided to tear it apart and make journal entries out of it… scrolls and texts discovered by archaeologists through time and eventually put together. The reason I came up with that was because the original book was another character’s story, but Kesi was a main character in it. She had written letters to her father. I took those short letters and turned them into this book.

2. How long did it take you to put your work together?  

If you count the fact the original book was written in the 1990’s, over 20 years! But, once I got the idea to do something with the letters in the original book, then 3 months.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Whenever, and wherever, I can get a chance to write, I do it! I work at a horse barn at  day (very physical, esp at my age). By night I am exhausted, so I lie in bed and watch TV with my little “spokescat” (she has her own Facebook page and she helps me ‘sell’ my books), Lucy cuddled with me for about 2 hours. Then I am up about 9-10pm to work in my office on marketing and writing until 4-5am. In the summer my barn hours are later, so I like to visit the gym. I go there about 1pm, work out for an hour, then to the library to write for 2 hours. Then it’s off to the barn to work. For a 50+ woman, I am very active.

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process?

Writing! I’m not kidding. Believe it or not, the first draft is the hardest for me. After I get that down, the editing and revising is less painful.

5. How would you describe your writing style?  

Literary, I think. I am “old school” and I like writing books that do NOT just “tell,” but really get into the character’s head. I am not too ‘flowery’ with my prose. But I think the description needs to match the character’s age, personality and the story; however it is told. For example, in ‘Sands of Time,’ these are ancient texts from a hybrid-half human. They need to ‘feel’ as if they were written in ancient Egypt and yet still be understandable to today’s audience.

6. What is your ultimate writing goal?  

I’ve been writing since I was 9 years old. As an actress (with a degree in theatre and drama) as well as a writer, all I’ve ever wanted was to be a huge best seller with major motion pictures of my books (and to be IN the movies). So many fans have told me they think this series would make an amazing movie series. I’m only hoping they are correct.

7. What would you like readers to take away from your work?

The NEED for more!!! A GREAT read, wonderful entertainment, and the need to want the series to never end

My Father's Son

My Father's Son - John Davis

There are stories that are difficult to read due to violence, gore, or even the level of fear invoked from reading them. But then there are stories that are difficult to read on a whole other level. 

My Father's Son is a memoir that takes you down a dark journey into a difficult childhood filled with physical, emotional, and mental abuse that would leave many individuals scarred and bitter. But John Davis shows how he used his childhood to grow and mature, eventually coming to terms with his past and learning what he can from the events that transpired. 

The book is exceptionally well written, and each chapter is laid out in an easy to read format that draws you in and keeps you hooked for the remainder of the book. I simultaneously found it difficult to read as I watched a young boy filled with fear and apprehension, and was unable to put it down as I had to know how it all progressed. 

Highly recommended. Well worth reading. 


Some Bio Information

John Davis grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, NY, and now lives in West Milford, NJ, with his wife and their two cats. He works as a Plant Manager and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Business. My Father's Son is his first book.


Q&A

1. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write your story. 

After I got over the shocking truth about my father, I thought about how it would be a good book... or movie even. I mean it was a crazy story and life.  So it took me about 9 years to do something about it and actually write it and now it's done and out there. 

2. How long did it take you to put your work together? 

I wrote the book over 6 weekends last July and August and then spent another 6 weeks or so putting it all together and editing it 

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I actually wrote it all on my iPhone at the beach.  I would type the stories into emails that I would then email back to myself at home.  I would just type as it came to me without any real thought on structure or anything.   So after I got home from the beach each weekend I would have a dozen emails of thousands of words that I then put together into chapters. It's amazing how it came together.  It almost wrote itself.  

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process? 

The editing process was rough. I would read almost the entire book front to back every night and always found things that needed fixing.  Some fixes were quick and other parts still bother me now.  When I finally read it a few times in a row without noticing any major problems I knew it was ready.  By then I was so sick of it and didn't want to look at it anymore  

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

My writing is very straightforward and to the point.  There's no filler.  Nothing like 'it was an April morning and the sun just broke over the horizon'. None of that.  Each chapter gets right back into the meat of the story. 

6. What is your ultimate writing goal?

To be able to write another book   This one wrote itself.  I'm not sure how I can write another one. 

7. What would you like readers to take away from your work?

I want them to like it although it's a hard book to say you 'like'. It's very disturbing in parts - the violence, the abuse, the language. But I want them to feel something I guess.  Just feel and know you can overcome your upbringing, no matter what happened to you , to still do great things.  

At the Doors of Strangers

At the Doors of Strangers - Greg Needham

I've always enjoyed books of short stories. It began with my love of Ray Bradbury. Short stories often showcase an author's strengths in that so much time and effort is devoted into just a couple of pages. To me, those short stories can say a lot about an author. 

Greg Needham's book is a great compilation of short stories that jumps around in topic, but flows together nonetheless. It held my attention and was a wonderful distraction from my regular routine. 

The writing is well done, the characters are wonderfully developed in each short story, and I had no trouble reading the entire book in one sitting. 


Some Bio Information

My name is Greg Needham and I’m a life-long learner who’s dabbled in many things but always stuck with words. I’ve wrote and edited published research papers, blogs, and indie video game scripts. But I consider my most important writing accomplishments here: writing in the mud as an infantry Marine; writing inappropriately wordy descriptions under pie-charts; writing philosophical responses to spam email; and creating my own alphabet. I wrote At the Doors of Strangers, which is an often surreal collection of short stories.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

I wrote this book in an act of rebellion. I had just received my Masters of Science and didn’t want to give up my literary background, so I decided the only way I could get this book out of my head would be to travel to eastern Europe and put it together. Many of the stories floated in my head for years and I had to do them justice. Between work and education, I couldn’t seem to infuse my thoughts onto paper with the purity I wished. Traveling to eastern Europe was my “blank spot on the map,” to borrow from Joseph Conrad, and ended up being the necessary catalyst. So I traveled, wrote, and edited until I finished eight months later.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Generally, I wait until it’s bursting out of me and into my everyday life – where on the outside I’m apparently having a watercooler conversation or filling up my car with gasoline, but really I’m testing the best way to describe the story in my head. Once I keep coming back to an idea or story against my will, I know it’s time. 

3. Describe your favorite short story in this book.

I would have to say the title piece, “At the Doors of Strangers.” I tried really hard to capture the feeling of my hometown in central Michigan, where the people are decent and good but live with the frustration of a stagnant area.

I’d also like to sneak in the story of Buzludzha, which is secretly a non-fiction piece I wrote after visiting the old Soviet monument in Bulgaria. I recommend seeing pictures of one of the strangest places I’ve come across.

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you?

For me, it’s a new place. The infusion of differences show me details I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. So I try to write in new spots, with new people around. Comparing two experiences will highlight the important parts for me. For an example, I don’t think it’s possible to fully understand an American breakfast until I’ve experienced a different one.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I really wish I could say. Weird, probably. I can’t think of a comparable style, and that both alarms and delights me. It’s very flexible, changing depending on the story.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?

I tried very hard to impart bits of myself into the book. So each story generally has something truly personal to me, and I hope readers will recognize those feelings within themselves as well. Failing that, I hope they take away a unique experience they didn’t have before.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

My goal is to consistently describe stories that no one else is telling, but are important all the same

The Relationship Riddle

The Relationship Riddle - Susan Paulson Clark

While I am not the biggest fan of the romance genre, this book did manage to hold my attention. I appreciated that each character was mature and well established in their own right. However, they each had similar things going on in life in that each of them were trying to overcome an obstacle brought about by someone misinterpreting feelings for them. One was a professor and one was social worker. I had difficulty accepting that both of them were going through a similar situation and yet were so unwilling to talk to each other about it (and also unwilling to believe that each misinterpretation was unrequited).  

Despite that, the writing is well done, and the characters are well developed. The plot is consistent and in the end, everyone is happy, which makes for a nice and contented ending. 


Some Bio Information

Susan Paulson Clark has been writing for fifteen years. She's an avid reader of women's fiction, mysteries, and non-fiction titles. Susan enjoys painting (acrylic and oil) and spending time with her husband. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with degrees in English and Education -- and she's an avid believer in writers' critique groups!


Q&A

1.    What inspired you to write this book?

I’m happily married now, but having had relationship problems in the past, I have a vivid recollection of being single “out there.” I enjoy writing about second chance romance. It’s important for me to encourage others – and I believe my book has a hopeful tone.

2.    Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I outline my story chapter by chapter. However, when I get to the actual writing, minor characters often become integral to the story. In this book, Coach Neely and Natalie the social worker went from being brief mentions to fully developed characters.

3.    Describe your favorite scene in this book. 

The very last scene … but describing it would be a spoiler!

4.    What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

Every Monday I meet with my writing partner who writes historical fiction. We alternate between Panera and Starbucks. Writing is so solitary, so it’s fun to be around others while writing. And having a standing meeting keeps you accountable. Otherwise I write just about anywhere except at a desk!

5.    How would you describe your writing style?

I combine dialogue, description, emotion, action and internal thoughts. I like adding twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.

6.    What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

Love is more than a romp in the sack. Real love allows you to work through problems.

7.    What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I would like to connect with readers through common experiences and encourage them to not give up in their search for a relationship

Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan: Diary of a Mad Club Girl

Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan: Diary of a Mad Club Girl - Iris Dorbian

There are times in life when you experience a time in your life when your body seems to make decisions without your heart or your head being involved - almost like an out of body experience. That's how reading Love, Loss, and Longing. . . felt to me. I felt as if I was experiencing everything the MC had, but was in no way in control of the choices I was making. 

I chalk that up to the excellent writing and detailed descriptions in this, well, almost coming of age, type story. I was looking for a little more of a conclusion or finale, but often life doesn't give us that. So it seems all too realistic. 

This book felt very real to me - leaving me with the feeling that I'd experience all the MC had, instead of simply reading about it. 

Very well written. Highly recommended. 


Some Bio Information

Iris Dorbian is a former actress turned business journalist/blogger. Her articles have appeared in a wide number of outlets that include the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Venture Capital Journal, DMNews, CFO.com, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News. From 1999 to 2007, Iris was the editor-in-chief of Stage Directions.

She is the author of Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater, which was published by Allworth Press in August 2008. Her personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Skirt!, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal and Gothesque Magazine. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

 I had been wanting to write a fictionalized book inspired by my experiences attending college in New York City in the early 1980s for some time. It was an insane and chaotic time, very turbulent but also very exciting, at least for this sheltered girl from the ‘burbs.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

When I'm working on a long-form narrative, I will try to outline beforehand the beats I want to hit in the initial draft. At the same time, I don't want to impose too much structure or order for fear I might squelch a genuinely good idea in the making. Then after I'm through with the first draft, I'll go back and revise, revise and revise. What doesn't work, I'll cut; and what does work, I'll keep in, of course, and maybe expand upon. 

3. Describe your favorite scene in this book. 

If I had to reflect upon which part of the book was the most entertaining for me to write about, it would have to be the chapter devoted to Edie's job as a cocktail waitress at the downtown New York City rock club The Ritz (now known as Webster Hall). This section is completely inspired on my own experience working as a waitress at the club during my junior year in college while juggling a full-time course-load. But as fun as it was to write, it was also the most demanding and labor-intensive thanks to the the sheer volume of detail I tried to recall and evoke--from the club decor and music to the other waitresses and cast of characters who used to hang out at the club. 

Although I've never disguised the fact that this novel is a roman a clef, I've also never backed down from admitting that many of the conversations, characters and events depicted in Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan are fictionalized. For instance, I NEVER got accosted by a madam of a call girl agency in the bathroom at the club. That entire exchange never happened. But it was a lot of fun to write. 

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you?

Quiet, calm and well illuminated!  

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

Sardonic, methodical, observant and precise. 

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

It's better to be honest with yourself and follow your heart rather than lose your soul by emulating a constricting or socially prescribed ideal of cool. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I'd like to write a best-seller. Why not?

The Autobiography of @

The Autobiography of @ - Jeff Abugov


This is a charming and entertaining short story about the symbol @. Who knew that so much personality could be in one little symbol that we use on a daily basis thanks to the email and Twitter/Instagram.

I had no trouble flying through this story and chuckled multiple times, all the while understanding that there was a lot more going on that what was written on the pages.

Extremely well written, with a surprisingly in depth plot. Lots of little twists that I wasn't necessarily expecting, but made for quite the enjoyable short read. 

I highly recommend it. 


Some Bio Information

Jeff Abugov graduated from Concordia University Film School in Montreal where his two student films won national awards at the Canadian Student Film Festival. He began his professional career writing for the NBC hit Cheers, for which he eventually became story editor. He served as executive story editor on The Golden Girls, then went on to write and produce such hit shows as Roseanne, Grace Under Fire, and Two and a Half Men, as well as writing and directing the feature film The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human, starring David Hyde Pierce and Carmen Electra. He has received a Golden Globe Award, a Peabody Award, and three People's Choice Awards, as well as being nominated for a Humanitas Prize, a Canadian Screen Award, and a second Golden Globe.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this short story?

At first, I was just zoning out while staring at my keyboard. I started to wonder why certain symbols had such prominent positions, and others less so. Then I started to wonder why certain symbols, such as ¢, weren’t even there at all. I began to think back to my early days as a fledgling writer on a typewriter, and wondered why @ was even included. Sure, it would be impossible to imagine a keyboard in this Internet age without @, but in the hundred or so years prior he would have been utterly pointless. The phrase “great American rags-to-riches story” laughingly occurred to me, and from then on I just played around with it in my head. It wasn’t until months later when I realized that it was actually an allegory of our own messed up socio-economic system that I realized I had to write it.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

It’s different from project to project, and different still whether a work-for-hire or on spec (“@” was on spec.) Typically, I write my first pass very fast, almost a stream of consciousness, and it usually sucks. Then I go over it in pain-staking detail, obsessively slowly, removing all the sucky parts entirely and polishing the rest into something fun and shiny. The advantage of spec work is that you know you can quit at any time if it’s not turning out the way you want, which makes the whole process more relaxed and more fun, which I think in turn makes the end product much better. The disadvantage, of course, is that you don’t get paid, and no one may ever know about it.

3. Do @ and * get to live happily ever after?

Lol, absolutely! They are perfect for each other in every possible way, and their love runs deep. That said, if I ever write a sequel, I’ll have to throw some marital problems their way. But, spoiler alert, their love will conquer all. I can’t imagine what a symbol divorce would be like. Then again… hmmm? On second thought, no promises. For their sake, I’d better not write a sequel.

4. How would you describe your writing style?

I’ll leave that one to the critics. It differs from project to project. In television, the gig is to write in the style of the show that hires you. In spec work, I prefer to just let the story flow so that the characters and events dictate the style, and I try not to analyze it. In fact, I’m almost afraid to analyze it because then I may start forcing it. As a result, most of my spec work seems to have different styles, although they all seem to have some element of humor – whether I want them to or not. That doesn’t really answer the question so, to repeat, I’ll let the critics figure out how to describe my style.

5. How long did it take you to write this short story?

Like I said, I played around with it in my head just for fun for several months before I even thought about writing it. The first pass took me less than a week, followed by four or five weeks of obsessively fixing it. But even after publishing it on Amazon, I made several more little changes and tweaks – one of the benefits (or curses) of electronic publication – and I still may make more someday. So, the question is… have I even finished it?

6. Describe the perfect writing environment.

For me, it’s my house, nobody else is home, there’s nothing good on TV, and there are no movies I want to Netflix. It’s either raining and dreary outside, or over a hundred degrees and smoggy so too uncomfortable to go out. All my friends are too busy with their own stuff to talk, text, Skype or Facebook with me. In other words, there is absolutely nothing else to do. I find boredom a very powerful motivator to get things accomplished. Of course, you rarely find that level of boredom-perfection so it usually takes some degree of discipline.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To one day write something that truly changes the world for the better. In the meantime, I’ll settle for entertaining and inspiring my readers, making them think beyond their own lives, making them laugh, and giving them a brief respite from their day-to-day worries. Come to think of it, those last two alone would be an accomplishment to be proud of – but I’m still not ruling out changing the world.