Thursday, December 29, 2011

Interview with author Jimmy "J.D." Gordon

Today's guest is author Jimmy "J.D." Gordon. He's just starting a virtual book tour for his novel Dartboard.

Firefighter and paramedic-turned-author Jimmy (J.D.) Gordon was born and raised in Chicago where he developed a taste for the finer things that the Windy City has to offer - pan pizza, live blues, and the Cubs. Jimmy loves spending time in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. He now lives with his wife and children in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago.

Jimmy basically dropped into the world of literature, literally. After falling off a train and breaking his knee, Jimmy had to spend quite a bit of time recuperating. While visiting the firehouse his peers asked what he planned to with all that time away. This is when Jimmy said the words that he now claims to have changed his life.

"I should write a book."

Despite some skepticism from his peers ("You don't even use punctuation on your run reports!"), he completed a novel, Island Bound, and made it a point to use punctuation throughout.

After another injury, sustained on the job, prematurely ended his career, Gordon decided to try writing full-time

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Jimmy. Please tell us about your current release, Dartboard.
This story was best described by a fellow named Paul Kemprecos. He is one of co-writers for Clive Cussler. The story is mix between Carl Hiassen and Treasure Island. The story is an action adventure set in the Caribbean. It’s centered around the information leading to the location of, of course, buried treasure, which fell into the hands of museum curator at the Field Museum in Chicago, who then passed that information and a boat, along to a family member of his. The story lays out how several different parties, from a nutty museum assistant, to a crazy peg-legged pirate try to get their hands on the gold. They all end up on one small island in the middle nowhere to shoot it out.

What inspired you to write this book?
Honestly, I don’t do inspirations. I was ready to start another book. I had just finished three books centered on one character, a guy named Eddie Gilbert. It was a trilogy, again, set in the Caribbean. I wanted to stick with the tropical flavor but move along to a new character, so Dartboard was born, along with Jimmy Quigley, the main character.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, I’ve just finished up a story titled "Field of Screams." It’s the sequel to an earlier story I titled "Kritterkreep." In addition to writing adventure stories for adults I also write paranormal stories for middle school kids, ages 9 to 12. So, I’m at the point where I am deciding what to write next. I’ll either go with another adventure story or the next kids book. If it's the adventure story, I’m still floating ideas around in my head. If it’s the next kid’s book, that will be titled The Pumpkin Jamboree and the Legend of Stumpy Scout.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Oh my gosh, I’ll have to let you know when the day comes. I’ve written seven novels now, I even wrote for a newspaper for a while. I still don’t consider myself a real writer. I’m not sure why. I just feel like a guy who types.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a parent first. My injury with the fire department really changed my life. My wife, honestly, had always been the real bread winner. I was hurt in the line duty so I was pensioned off, meaning I still receive some sort of compensation. Though getting hurt sucked it did leave me with the time to take care of my kids while my wife works. I’m a mister mom and proud of it. I start my day off getting the kids together and ready for school. I drop them off, then I go off to the fitness center to keep the injury in check with exercise and stretching and so on. Then the rest of the day is spent writing. Until I pick the kids up. Once everyone settles down and goes to bed, I’m back on the computer to the writing. So, much of my day is spent typing away.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Um, I like writing with a martini sitting next me, in the next seat of course, right……

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
That changed on a monthly basis, I wanted to be a soldier, I wanted to fly a helicopter, I wanted to be a marine biologist, I wanted to be a realtor and that continued into my adult life. Maybe that’s why writing fiction seems to be working out? If I feel like something, I just add it the story.

Thanks for stopping by, Jimmy.

Folks, if you'd like to learn more about Jimmy and his writing, you can follow his tour.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Interview with humorous author Rachel Thomas aka RachelintheOC

Today's guest is Rachel Thomas who is doing a virtual book tour with VBT Cafe for her book The Mancode: Exposed.

Welcome, Rachel, please tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a published author, social media consultant, cofounder Indie Book Collective, wife, & mum.

Please tell us about your current release.
The Mancode: Exposed a humorous collection of essays about men, women, love, sex, and of course, chocolate #der. I broke it up into four sections: Anatomy & Physiology, Chocolate Confessions, Coitus & Communications, and finally, DNA & Stereotypes. The reader can really start at any point, though if hungry, I suggest saving chocolate for dessert.

What inspired you to write this book?
I had written my first book, A Walk In The Snark and released it in January of this year. It hit #1 (over fifteen times) on the Humor/Motherhood Kindle list and the Mancode essays in particular seemed to strike a nerve with people -- some positive, some quite negative. That type of controversy is gold to a writer! So I focused on that theme in particular and the essay topics came quite easily. I've also been married nineteen years -- I've got daily examples of new material.

I'm also very active in social media, with a blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and particularly Twitter, with over 11,000 followers. It's a wonderful free market research tool and men are quite verbal with their feedback. I love it!

What exciting story are you working on next?
In all fairness, women are complicated creatures. Most men will agree that while they are pretty simple, chicks can be darn hard to figure out. We say one thing and mean another. Where's the playbook? Should they have taken Advanced Placement Female in high school? (Yea, probably).

So I'm working now on Chickspeak: Uncovered, a humorous though hopefully helpful take on what we gals mean for example, by "I'm fine," cause we're like, so not.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing at age ten. My minor in college was Journalism, only because they didn't offer it as a major. After a detour into a training, sales and marketing career for many years that I didn't really enjoy, I began writing seriously in 2008. I look back now though and am extraordinarily grateful for my background because it helps me understand clearly the marketing and sales aspect of book promotion.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
That's a loaded question! I get my two children off to school and then immediately hit my desk. I don't clean up, don't even look at my kitchen (except to visit Joey the Coffeemaker -- "How you doin?") and head straight to the computer.

As cofounder of the Indie Book Collective, I have responsibilities there. I run the Twitter stream for the IBC, my own stream, and several others as well. My goal is to write at least two essays per day. I'm also working on an anthology piece for Valentine's Day. And I have my own social media clients.

Of course, at some point I have to exit my cave to eat, clean up, and interact with the husband and kids when they come home from school. I don't cook (I burn), so that helps quite a bit time-wise.

Luckily, I'm also kind of a late bird. I write more after everyone is crashed.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don't write before coffee. I don't write without music. I keep the shades drawn. My family calls me a bat.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer! I knew in kindergarten that I would live in New York City and be a writer. I did live in New York City for a few years, but at the time, I was a pharmaceutical trainer. Meh. At least I made it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I'm proudly self-published, but I work very hard to insure that the product I put out is top quality. I hire an editor AND a proofreader. I draw stick people so I hire a graphic artist. I hate formatting (writer here!) which is like math to me, so I hire someone to do that also. I'm not rich, but I do feel it's worth the investment for the quality. When people see your quality, they'll buy it and tell their friends.

I'm happy to chat with anyone interested in pursuing this path. In fact, I contributed an essay to Our Indie Experience available on Amazon for only 99cents, a look at the good, the bad, and the realistic of eleven self-published authors.

Thanks for being here today, Rachel. Your humor shines through. :)

Readers, check out other tour dates and stops for Rachel and leave a comment here and there to let her know you're laughing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Live chat/interview with C. Hope Clark - 12/18/11

The Writer's Chatroom presents C. Hope Clark, creator of Funds for Writers, author, and speaker.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

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

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


The Writers Chatroom at:

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Interview with author Tracey Cramer-Kelly

Today's guest author is Tracey Cramer-Kelley. She's touring her newest novel, True Surrender, with Goddess Fish Promotions.

Tracey is giving away a Fallen Soldier T-Shirt to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Details are below.

Welcome, Tracey. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My work fuses writing, music, and visual imagery and includes novels, short stories, essays and music videos. My first novel, Last Chance Rescue, was a Finalist in the Romance category of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. My second, True Surrender, has a companion full-length music video, "The Rose (Surrender Version)."

My writing draws from my experience as an Army Reserve paramedic and exposure to helicopter medivac. I obtained my helicopter pilot license in 2001. My husband and I own a motorcycle accessories business and live in small-town Minnesota with our children (son, 8, and daughter, 4).

Please tell us about your current release.
When Major Aaron Bricewick is rescued from Afghanistan terrorists, he thinks the worst is over. But his personal journey is just beginning...

The first surprise is the amputation of one of his legs. The second is the woman he left behind, now a widow with a 4-year-old son - and his new prosthetist (artificial limb maker).

He vows that losing his leg won't derail his career. But maintaining his outward appearance as a got-it-together officer becomes increasingly difficult as he faces one personal demon after another - and sees his career aspirations slipping away. And though he has no intention of expanding his life to include a woman, his heart has other ideas - and he finds himself questioning the very foundation of his personal beliefs.

When violence - and unexpected redemption - touch his life again, Aaron must make a stand. Which will he choose: duty or love?

What inspired you to write this book?
My writing is heavily influenced by the time I spent in the military and by the medical training I received there. Much of my writing explores the experiences our military personnel have lived through but find hard to explain in the context of everyday life, as well as the inherent struggle in their personal relationships.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I think there is another novel working its way through my subconscious. I also have a couple of erotica short stories I may actually finish. I'm even exploring more projects that fuse writing with music and visual imagery.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
There were two defining moments.

The first: holding the “draft copy” of my first novel, Last Chance Rescue. I was in awe. I caressed the cover; I kept opening the front flap to look at my name inside. The hundreds of hours, the agonizing over edits, and the painstaking care I’d taken in the details of the book and its presentation (cover, layout, etc.) were suddenly all worth it. (Never mind that no one had seen it yet!)

The second: being named as a Finalist in the 2009 Indie Awards. I had struggled with getting the word out about Last Chance Rescue—the requisite “self promotion” doesn’t come naturally. But here was someone else (not just me) saying the book was good! It was validation in its truest sense, and came at a pivotal time.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Unfortunately, I do not get to write every day. My real job (the one that pays the bills) is running the business my husband and I own, Leader Motorcycle, and it’s very busy in spring and summer (luckily I enjoy it!).

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
A fun twist to my writing is that characters in my novels are intertwined. For instance, hero of True Surrender, Aaron Bricewick, was briefly married when he was younger. His wife? None other than Jessie Van Dyke, the heroine of my first novel, Last Chance Rescue.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a long time I wanted to be a veterinarian. By the time I went to college, the goal was to be a physical therapist.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
With the launch of True Surrender, I also introduced my first full-length video, titled "The Rose (Surrender Version)." It's my own arrangement of Bette Midler's classic, but with a more upbeat rhythm and a bluesy feel. It contains scenes from True Surrender enacted by actors (who did a phenomenal job). I loved this entire process and I’d like to do more of this type of project.

For more details about The Making of a Music Video, check out my blog posts, and watch the video.

The song is available for download on and iTunes, and with some luck the video will soon be as well.

People can find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, too.

Thank you for being here today, Tracey.

Readers, Tracey is giving away a Fallen Soldier T-shirt (red, size TBD) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. I encourage you to check out the tour dates and locations and comment. The more you comment, the better your chance of winning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview with inspirational writer David Knight

David Knight is just starting a virtual blog tour with VBT Cafe for his book, I Am I, and Reviews and Interviews is his first official stop. Check out his other tour stops and dates.

David Knight was born into his current physical embodiment in 1964. He is married to Caroline and they live with their adopted cats Toby, Treacle, Spiky, and Missy in the UK. In growing up he describes himself as a Mr. Average or like a 'Joe Bloggs'. Whilst earning a living in various types of work, (this ranged from HM Forces, Financial Services, a Care Assistant and also self-employment) his search for fulfilment changed from the exterior and without to the interior and within.

Spiritual education gained a greater momentum and at the age of 21 a more urgent sense of dedication as well as a new realization had set in. New evidence of and from God, were soon revealed through his life experiences. With the aid of Spirit guides and beings from the ethereal planes, the foundations were laid for all who wished to develop and experience their Hearts flame of love and light and to embark upon a unique opportunity for all soul's in this lifetime.

Welcome, David, please tell us about your current release.
Hi Lisa, I Am I: The In-Dweller of Your Heart is a book that I hope people can use as a reference and guide to lean upon and utilize throughout their lives. All life and love should actually be simplicity itself and yet we –as human beings- complicate them both so much by listening more to our minds and desires through our senses… rather than our own truth in our hearts.

So, over a period of time I felt humbly blessed to receive 52 Inner-dictations- as such they were lessons and messages containing spiritual guidance and education from my own heart’s connection to God, (the source, Spirit, or whichever name feels true to each person) so that all can understand their true purpose and goal of their soul. No matter what color, race, or whatever faith or religion one currently follows one can actually realize that Love is everything and everything is love. The book encourages each and every single person to find their own truth through their own heart where bliss, peace love and light reign supreme.

Here is the synopsis:

I Am I: The In-Dweller of Your Heart is a stepping stone for all who embark upon their own quest for ‘Spiritual’ education and guidance. Even if you are comfortable with your own faith and religion, it can help you to explore new interpretations and issues on a personal or global scale.

David Knight has received and transcribed these passages of text in a process known as ‘Inner Dictation’. He describes this as writing from within the connection of his heart where peace, bliss, love, and light reign supreme.

God’s wisdom and teachings are laid out before you so you can simply choose and read whenever or whatever your heart needs or desires. I Am I entrusts that you will dip your toes into these guidelines, principles and simple directions, then dive headfirst into the waters of your own Divine essence.

These books will form the threads of life’s new tapestry, each spun into 52 lessons from, to and through our own hearts and souls. They are like a father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, partner or personal friend who knows you better than you can ever know ‘yourself’.

What inspired you to write this book?
Over the years, many strange and wonderful things happened to me both physically and also in dream state and meditation. When I first started to ‘open’ up my heart, a lot of psychic experiences occurred…including many pre-cognitions (foreseeing future events) and proof of life after death. As such and through my own faith, I had the inbuilt need to want to help guide people upon their own journey. Over time, spiritual gifts started to materialize in my life such as healing, clairaudience and the ability to write through channeling and inner dictation. Once I started putting pen to paper I knew that I would eventually put 7 books together…to help guide, heal and shine the light for many others to see their own truth ‘within’

What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, the sequel to I Am I: The In-Dweller of the Heart is three quarters complete…after which the may be a third to make it a trilogy. I also would like to complete a compilation of many poems and inspirational / spiritual text to form a smaller book called A Pocket Full of God. Eventually I’ll put together the collection of my dreams / visions into ‘The Pre-Cognition Files’. So the next few years will be very busy!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Some may state that you’re not a writer unless you’re being paid for it... as if remuneration somehow confirms the status of being a ‘professional writer’ as such. Others will state too that if one writes a novella, that it’s not a real book unless it has over 200-250 pages. Everything is just opinions and so for me it’s what you feel inside that actually counts. Primarily you must write for yourself…exterior success (or lack of it) is secondary.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Mmmm…I guess it’s the symbolism in the text. Many people comment about how the description and guidance of say nature, images, scenarios, and scenes reflect upon ones own feelings which then mirrors ad shines the truth to each individual.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Crikey, interesting question. I could put a twist on that and say…. Happy! LOL Ha ha

I think when I was really small I wanted to be a pilot. Perhaps that really was a dream as I am not much bigger than a hobbit and am not too great with heights ha ha.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, please…just want to say thanks for taking the time to read the interview. A lot of times in life we often judge things and their worth by how much something costs. Again it’s that ‘monkey’ mind of ours dictating and implying that you can only see the future from judging the past. Whether you buy this book or any other, whatever experience comes into your life … if it resonates within your heart let it flow to, through, and from you.

Many thanks, Lisa.

You're welcome, David. Thanks for being here to talk about your book and your writing a little bit.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Interview with writer Maureen Milliken

Today's guest is multi-faceted writer Maureen Milliken to talk about her non-fiction book, The Afterlife Survey, as well as her fiction writing.

Maureen, welcome to Reviews and Interviews. Please tell us about your current release.
The Afterlife Survey looks at that eternal question: What comes next? But it doesn’t come up with an answer, yes there’s an afterlife, no there isn’t. Rather, it asks a cross section of people what they think. It’s based on a Pew Forum survey from 2009 that found 79 percent of Americans believe in an afterlife, which is up from years past, but many don’t believe in the traditional heaven and hell that they grew up with. In fact, only 59 percent believe in hell. So we asked everyone from the CEO to the dog sitter what they think.

I was really impressed by the variety of answers I got and the thought the responders put into them.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was asked to write it by the publisher, Adams Media. They didn’t want a book that took a specific ideological stance, rather they wanted one that examined what people think. They thought an experienced journalist would be best to get the right take, and I approached it as a journalist. I hope that anyone reading the book doesn’t come away from it thinking about the writer’s point of view, but rather thinking about their own beliefs. One thing I discovered while writing it is that many people really haven’t thought about this a lot and the survey prompted them to ask questions about their life they hadn’t considered before. I’m hoping readers will be prompted to do that, too.

Funny story about the whole process: I was asked to write the book a week after I was offered a new job in a new state. The publisher warned me the deadline was really tight. They first approached me in mid-April and the deadline was June 15.

My first instinct was to say no, because I had to sell a house, find a place to live that would also be good for my two dogs and two cats, start a new job where there was a lot of responsibility and high expectations from my new bosses, who I really felt committed to, etc. But then I said to myself, are you nuts? A publisher is going to pay you to write a book that will be published. How do you say no? You don’t. Once the contract was settled and the details ironed out, I had six or seven weeks to write it.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am also a fiction writer. I am working on getting my mystery novel, Cold Hard News, published. It’s a traditional mystery that takes place in Maine, where I live. The editor of a weekly newspaper gets more involved than she should when a fatal double shooting involving a police officer rips her small town apart. It was inspired by an incident that happened in New Hampshire, where I lived and worked for 25 years. A lot of things about that incident and its outcome made me angry, so I thought the best way to deal with that was to write my own story with an outcome that satisfied my sense of justice a little more. It’s a character-driven book, and the characters had so much to say and do that I’m already well into a sequel. Hopefully, it will be a series.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I always did. I used to love going to bed at night, because I would rewrite my favorite TV shows in my head, making myself the hero, of course. But I would go over and over the dialogue, editing and reworking. The Mod Squad was a favorite. I also would do things like make a little family newspaper or write plays that I would force my siblings to act in. When I took a drama course at a local arts institute when I was 10, we had to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I wrote, “author.”
But being in the newspaper business for decades kind of sidetracked me, particularly after I went from being a reporter to an editor in 1993.

My epiphany came several years ago when I was telling my mother about a column I had written that got a lot of positive reader response after years of my not writing. I said something like, “It reminded me how powerful it can be to be a writer and I really need to become one.” And she said, “Well, I’ve always considered you a writer.” That made me feel good, but also a little fraudulent. So it made me start focusing on my writing, not only with the newspaper, where I was an editor most of the time, but also it made me take writing my mystery novel seriously.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Full time, I am the night news editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, two newspapers in central Maine. That takes a lot of my time. I try to write every day, though. I have just gotten back to the sequel to Cold Hard News – its working title is "No News is Bad News" – after taking time off to write The Afterlife Survey and also take care of the chaos of moving from New Hampshire to Maine, selling a house, buying a house, and getting my feet under me in my new job.

I also blog frequently because I need an outlet for all the things I have pinging around in my brain. Sometimes I have to open the spigot and let the pressure up a little.

It’s definitely hard to find the time, but I make myself get up earlier than I normally would and remind myself that it will pay off.

I have a lot of little quotes I’ve cut out of newspapers and other places tacked up in my office at home, not so much to inspire me, but keep me focused. One of my favorites is from Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed most by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.” Another is from Muhammad Ali: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” When you have to work hard for something that you’re not getting paid for, but know it could pay off in the future, those quotes do a lot as far as getting your nose onto the grindstone.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Well, I don’t know how interesting it is. Or even quirky. But when I’m embroiled in writing a mystery novel, I have yellow legal pads and pens all over the house. They have to be those extra-long pads with the narrow lines. And they’re everywhere, even in the bathroom. And things come to me, ideas, phrases, a word construction. And I have to write it down right away before it goes away. Sometimes it takes a while to sift through them and find what I’m looking for when I sit down to write, but lots of times it’s easier to remember where I was and when I wrote down the note than the note itself. Then I find it and reread and say to myself “you’re brilliant!” or “boy do you suck!”

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Writer writer writer. Around 12 or 13 that morphed into journalist, but deep down I always intended to write mystery novels, too. I never wanted to do anything else but be a writer and journalist. I don’t know what else I could do, come to think of it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Now that I’ve written one published book and another that I’m seeking a publisher for, I get a lot of people saying, “Wow, I always wanted to write a book. How do you do that?”

My answer always is, there’s only one way: sit down and start writing. Even if you don’t know where the story is going. You can figure that out along the way. But start writing. And really work at it. Don’t finish a first draft and think you have a book. I realized when I did an 18-month stint as an editor for an online editing service a year or two ago that a lot of people think they’re done when they’re only halfway through. It’s a lot of work and it’s important to recognize that to be successful.
Remember, opportunity is the fella in overalls.

Maureen, thanks for stopping by and talking about your writing. You sure have a lot of it in your life!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Organizing and Goal Setting Chat 12/11/11

The Writer's Chatroom presents our annual organizing and goal setting chat.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

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

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


The Writers Chatroom at:

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

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Interview with novelist Greg Messel

Today's guest is novelist Greg Messel to tell us a bit about his newest novel and his writing life.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Greg. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve written three novels and three unpublished memoirs. I’m working on a fourth and fifth novel as well.

I’ve spent much of my life in the Pacific Northwest living in Portland, Oregon and in the Seattle area since 2008. I’ve been married to my wife, Carol, for 40 years. We were high school sweethearts just like the couple in my second novel, Expiation. I’ve lived in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, and Wyoming and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduating from high school there. I attended a year of junior college, then went to Brigham Young University. I began a newspaper career in the rough and tumble Wyoming town of Rock Springs. We have three married children and ten grandchildren.

I worked as the news editor and sports editors of the Daily Rocket-Miner newspaper, winning a Wyoming Press Association award for my column. I also have published articles in various sports magazines. I left the newspaper business in 1981 and began a 27 year career with Pacific Power. After retiring in 2008, I moved to Seattle.

It was there that I returned to my first love--writing. My first novel, Sunbreaks, was published with Trafford in September 2009. The second novel Expiation was published in the spring of 2010 with Trafford.

The third novel, The Illusion of Certainty was published by Yorkshire Publishing in September of 2011.

We live on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, a ferryboat town, just north of downtown Seattle. I also enjoy running and have been in several races and half marathons.

That's a lot already. Please tell us about your newest book.
The Illusion of Certainty follows two parallel story lines. Marc is a successful businessman who seems to have everything—a great job, a beautiful wife, a house in an upscale neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, and two great kids who are preparing for college. But something is not right. Marc is unsettled by the sudden change in his wife, Aimee, who seems distant and unhappy. What is going on with her?

The second storyline involves a successful young attorney, Alexandra Mattson. Alex, as she is called by her friends, meets a handsome young cop, Sean, during an unexpected crisis in her neighborhood. Sean and Alex seem made for each other and begin to merge their futures in a world of uncertainty.

The only certainty in life is that we will face uncertainty. Despite all of the technology and controls available in the modern world, sometimes the only comfort comes from the human touch.

What inspired you to write this book?
There are so many unexpected events that impact our life. I began thinking about this when the economy suddenly collapsed in 2008. I was also diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half ago. Fortunately, my treatments have been successful and I am for the time being in good health. These events and watching similar occurrences in other people’s lives, made me ponder the sudden turnarounds we can experience. We think we are in control of our lives but it is only an “illusion of certainty.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on the first in a mystery series featuring private investigator, Sam Slater. The name of the book is “The Last of the Seals.” Sam is a longtime baseball player with the minor league San Francisco Seals. Sam’s career is coming to an end and the Seals are being displaced by the move of the Giants from New York to San Francisco. Sam is joining his old Army buddy in his private investigation business.

Sam also meets a dazzling, Elvis-obsessed TWA stewardess named Amelia. When his friend is suddenly slain, Sam and Amelia find themselves thrown into a tense struggle to find the murderer before he finds them. I’m really excited about the new book and I hope to have it published by the beginning of the summer of 2012.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began writing when I was a child. I have an old canvas bag with crayon writing on it. It was my newspaper bag. I wrote the “paper” and then delivered it to neighbors and friends. I found the canvas bag in some things at my grandmother’s house after she died. I supported myself through high school and college being a stringer for local newspapers. Then, after college, I had a career as a sports writer, columnist and news editor. I finally got to try writing novels and published my first one in 2009.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full time now after retiring from the corporate world. I usually write for a few hours each afternoon. I have fallen into a pattern of thinking about and outlining my book during the summer months. Then when rainy weather returns to Seattle in the fall, it’s a good time to stay inside and start to write.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know why, but I have to go back and add contractions to my dialogue. I don’t talk that way, but I seem to write that way. I’m always correcting that in my writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to write for a newspaper and to write books. I’m pretty lucky that I got the chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope you try The Illusion of Certainty. I think it is both a business fable and a romance. It speaks to the struggles that many people face in the early 21st Century. I was glad to see reviewers saying that the story appeals to the romantic hopeful in all of us.

Thanks for your time today, Greg. Keep on writing!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with mystery short story writer Nancy Adams

For a change of pace, today's guest is a short story writer. Nancy Adams is here to talk about her new Christmas short story, “Saint Nick and the Fir Tree : a short story of the day after Christmas.”

A freelance editor and theological librarian, Nancy writes mysteries and fantasy. Her short story “The Secret of the Red Mullet” was published this past spring in the collection FISH TALES: the Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press).

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
At the risk of sounding flip, the fact that they’re short! It’s so satisfying to be able to write up a first draft in a weekend (as I recently did) rather than taking months, as is the case with my novels.

It’s also very satisfying to be able to get every little detail just the way you want without having to wade through the “sagging middle” and interminable edits of a novel. That said, I’ve come up with more ideas for novels than short stories so far.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
“Saint Nick and the Fir Tree” is definitely a favorite. The idea came to me one summer’s day when I was pruning a yew tree out in the backyard. The previous owner had shaped it like a little Christmas tree, but I noticed that it had gotten rather out of shape and the middle looked bulgy. Then my imagination kicked into gear and I got to wondering what would have caused such a thing. What if the tree had been out drinking with Saint Nick and developed a bit of a “beer belly”?

From there I wrote up the story’s beginning and over the next few months, in bits and spurts, the rest of the story emerged. It’s a more episodic structure than most of the things I write, so I guess that’s why the story as a whole took longer to take shape. That Christmas I took it with me when I visited my parents. I had already decided to dedicate it to my mother because she loved Santa Claus and always insisted there really was such a person—even after we were grown! She also loved crazy stories and the whole thing really struck me as something that kind of channeled her spirit. She was really touched that I’d dedicated it to her, and reading it aloud to her and my father was a special experience. It’s particularly poignant to me because a few months after that she was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and died at the end of May.

So I’m very, very grateful that she was able to hear it before she died and know it was meant for her. All through the fall when I worked on it, I felt this curious sense of urgency, as if I knew somehow it had to be completed before I saw my mother again. She and my father had been in poor health for a couple of years, so there was some basis for my feeling, but still, it’s as if somehow in my gut I knew it was the last Christmas I’d have with her.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Mystery. Mysteries are the genre I read the most, plus as a writer I like the fact that mysteries have a built-in goal and structure; it makes the process of plotting less intimidating. Even “Saint Nick,” which is basically a fantasy, has a little mystery twist at the end.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I just completed a short story for the Mystery Writers of America anthology competition. Because it’s for a competition, I don’t really want to say anything else about it—afraid I’ll jinx myself! I’m also writing the first draft of a suspense novel with fantasy elements. It takes place in Paris and the main character is a Jesuit professor of French there on sabbatical. I’m very excited about it. I took French courses all through high school and college and have visited Paris several times. I love writing about the city because it’s both familiar and exotic—not your run-of-the-mill setting.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first began to write seriously eleven years ago, though the urge to do so had always been at the back of my mind. For years I’d thought of writing, but didn’t know what to write about. It was only after doing some background reading for a theology course that I discovered the world of late antiquity, the period bridging the classical world and the Middle Ages. I was fascinated by the period because it was a transitional era when everything was in flux and cultural values were changing. It was a time when the old world of pagan culture and the new world of state-sponsored Christianity existed simultaneously and it’s fascinating to see not just the cultural clashes, but even more so the accommodations that people made, often co-existing side by side quite peaceably. It didn’t take long before this fascination led to the creation of a fictional late-Roman family and the beginning of my first historical mystery.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I actually haven’t done this so much. Other than “Saint Nick,” my short stories have mostly been inspired by anthology contests. “The Secret of the Red Mullet,” a short story that uses my historical characters, was written for an anthology sponsored by the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime. I was overjoyed when it made the cut and appeared in the FISH TALES collection this spring alongside other stories by my talented Guppy colleagues. As for other short story markets, the two most prestigious publications for mystery writers are the magazines Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock. If I wanted to research other markets, I would probably ask around on the Sisters-in-Crime and Guppy lists. Anyone interested in writing mystery or suspense would do well to join Sisters in Crime. The organization is full of wonderful, encouraging folks, and it’s not just for women.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I often get my best ideas in the shower.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a long time I wanted to be a veterinarian. I’ve always loved animals.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
After being a life-long reader, it’s such a thrill to see my work in print. I’m always happy to hear from readers, and they can contact me via my website.

Thanks so much, Lisa, for hosting me today.

You're quite welcome, Nancy. I'm glad to have you become part of my blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Interview with mystery novelist Renee Pawlish

Mystery author Renee Pawlish joins Reviews and Interviews today as she tours her first book in the Reed Ferguson mystery series with Goddess Fish Promotions, This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies.

Renee has a couple of giveaways to a randomly drawn lucky commentor during her tour. Details are below.

Renée Pawlish was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado. When she's not hiking, cycling, or chasing ballplayers for autographs, she is writing mysteries and thrillers. She is the author of Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the first in the Nephilim trilogy; the Reed Ferguson Mystery series; Take Five, a short story collection; and The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within, a non-fiction account of a haunted house investigation.

Renée loves to travel and has visited numerous countries around the world. She has also spent many summer days at her parents' cabin in the hills outside of Boulder, which was the inspiration for the setting of Taylor Crossing in her novel Nephilim Genesis of Evil.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Renée. Please tell us about your current release, This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies.
A wannabe private eye with a love of film noir and detective fiction.
A rich, attractive femme fatale.
A missing husband.
A rollicking ride to a dark and daring ending.

What inspired you to write this book?
I had the first line, I want you to find my dead husband, rolling around in my head, and I finally sat down and started the novel. I thought it would be fun to write a story with a private eye on his very first case, so the reader got to see the detective struggle to learn his vocation. I’ve had fun with that aspect of writing This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies, and in the second novel in the series, Reel Estate Rip-off.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the third Reed Ferguson mystery, and I’m putting Reed in more precarious situations in this novel. I’ve also just started the second book in the Nephilim trilogy.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote my first book right after I received my master's degree. I had a story in my head all through the summer, and the fall after I graduated, a friend encouraged me to pen the novel. I did (it took nine months), and when I wrote “The End”, that’s when I felt I could say I was a writer…not a paid writer, but a writer nonetheless.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish I could say I write full-time, but that’s not the case. I am currently between jobs so I spend a lot of time marketing my books, and some time every day writing the new ones as well. I also wrote my first flash fiction piece in October that won a blog contest, and that was cool.

Most of my novels have been written while I was working, and it’s a challenge to find the time to write. When I’m in the midst of a novel, I try to write every evening and on the weekends so that I never lose touch with the characters or story. That can be hard to do, but it comes down to just sitting down at the computer and doing it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’ve found that I need to take a walk or hike, or listen to music, and then I can picture a scene in my mind, and at that point I can write it. Sometimes the scenes will come to me as I’m sitting at the computer, but I usually got for a hike and then I can figure things out.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a teacher. I love to teach and train newbie authors now…it’s just fun to work with others and encourage them.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Reviews really help authors out, so if you get a chance, post a review. We are very grateful for that. I myself don’t care if the review is good or bad, I just enjoy hearing what readers think. It’s a chance for me to see what people are enjoying, and to find out things that I might need to work on.

Ways to connect with me include my website, on Twitter, on Facebook, through my blog, or on Goodreads.

Thank you for being here today, Renee.

Readers, you have a chance to win a print or eBook copy of Renee's book Nephilim and a $25 Amazon gift certificate. They will be given to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Check out the tour dates and blog stops. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Live chat/interview with historical fiction novelist Barry Willdorf

The Writer's Chatroom presents historical fiction novelist Barry Willdorf.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

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

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


The Writers Chatroom at:

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

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Interview with romance author Christine Young

Today's guest is doing a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Author Christine Young is here to talk about her new historical romance novel, her writing, and there are details below about several giveaways she has during her tour.

Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel to Kensington. She is the author of 10 published romance books and 2 novellas. Christine is a retired high school math teacher. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children. Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor, and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.

Welcome, Christine. Please tell us about your current release.
Highland Honor is as rugged as the Scottish landscape. The main characters are filled with integrity and honor. Colin “Hawk” MacPherson falls in love with the daughter of his enemy. In their journey, they uncover half-truths and reevaluate what they know about the past. Callie sets out on a mission to prove her father’s innocence and Hawke has to battle lies and deceit to unravel previous misconceptions about Callie’s father. There is a love to survive eternity.

What inspired you to write this book?
My heritage is Scottish and I have loved to hear family stories of the highlands as well as the folklore. My great grandparents emigrated here in the early 1900s and I have family roots that still exist in Scotland. The Highland series has always been in my mind. I love the strength, integrity, and courage that abound in the history of the Scottish. The Highland series begins with Highland Honor, Hawke’s story. The second book is Highland Magic, Ian MacPherson’s tale and the third book features Lainie MacPherson.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on a novella for an April Fools Anthology to be published by Rogue Phoenix Press. The working title is Sharks, but I don’t think it will keep this title. I’m also working on the edits for Highland Magic and Highland Song soon to be rereleased by Rogue Phoenix Press.

Please tell us a bit about your writing life.
My writing life has no consistency what so ever. I probably write only 2 to 3 days a week. The other days I spend promotion, editing, or writing blogs. I would love to be able to write 5 days a week. Although I’m retired, I do go back to the classroom to sub for my fellow math teachers at Stayton High School.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I picked up the phone one day and Kate Duffy from Kenisington introduced herself and asked if she could buy my book Dakota’s Bride. Then she offered me a two book contract and I was in heaven.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I do not write full-time although I would like to. I find it difficult to sit at the computer for very long. I like to take long walks, run on the treadmill, and jazzercise. When I watch TV, I usually knit or cross-stitch. I used to draw portraits of my kids. Maybe I will take that up again with the grandkids. Sometimes I substitute and sometimes it is fun to go back into the classroom, but I’m always very happy when the day is finished and I can have some peace and quiet. Oh how I love quiet. I used to love it in the classroom when it was so quiet, you could hear the lights hum. But it was a little eerie too.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
If you mean while I am writing, then I would say lifting weights. I have some small 8 lb. hand weights which I lift when I’m searching for the right words.

If you mean in my manuscripts, then I would say that I always have a swimming scene of some sort. I grew up a competitive swimmer and coached a high school swim team for 13 years. Swimming is an integral part of my life one that has carried over to my writing. And one can have exquisite love scenes in the water. There is nothing more sensual than swimming nude.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I first wanted to be an Oceanographer. That notion went away real fast when I discovered I was much happier in art and writing classes than I was in math classes even though I eventually became a math teacher. Just a little contradiction in my life.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’ve shared a lot of things about myself. The Highland series is a wonderfully romantic series about brave Scottish Highlanders and the women they love.

Thank you for your time today, Christine.

Readers, Christine has a few prizes she's giving away during her virtual book tour.
* a $50.00 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter for the blog tour
* a Clan MacPherson book mark awarded at each stop to one randomly drawn commenter
* and an Antique Gold Double Thistle Broche for the blog host with the most comments

So, feel free to follow her blog tour and comment at stops. The more you comment, the more chances you and I have to win!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Interview with novelist Tom Mach

Today's guest, novelist Tom Mach is touring his mystery novel An Innocent Murdered with Goddess Fish Promotions.

Tom has a giveaway to a lucky commentor at the end of his virtual book tour. Details below.

Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011. Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.

His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse.

Tom, welcome to Reviews and Interviews. Please tell me about yourself.
I wrote my first novel when I was 17, but had not taken up writing seriously until I was in my 30s. I published many magazine and newspaper articles, taught copywriting at a university, conducted writing workshops, was an editor of two publications, and won several awards for fiction and poetry. But more importantly, I like to write because I challenge myself with interesting ideas and fascinating characters and I enjoy, as I write, finding out how the story will end. My characters often come to life and they surprise me by what they do. As an example, I had a vision of a young 19th century lady named Jessica Radford and she became alive--so much so that after I wrote Sissy! featuring Jessica, a friend of mine asked me where Jessica was buried and I had to tell her I made her up.

Please tell me about your current release, An Innocent Murdered.
An Innocent Murdered is my first mystery novel, although I had published short story mysteries in Stories To Enjoy. In An Innocent Murdered, a priest is murdered and a female police officer named Jacinta is arrested for the crime. It looks like an open-and-shut case because of blood evidence, DNA, motive, opportunity, and a possible witness. But two other women look like they may have murdered the priest and the detective, slowly convinced that Jacinta is innocent, doesn’t find the real killer until he discovers something shocking in an abandoned cellar.

What inspired you to write this book?
I guess I got tired of people painting a whole group of society with the same brush. Yes, there have been many articles about instances of child abuse in the Catholic Church, yet the vast majority of priests have never molested a child. I wanted to write a novel where a priest is falsely accused of doing this and is murdered as a result. I also wanted to look at the perspectives of two people. One is an ex-nun who has given many years of her life to her religious dedication, yet is under the censure of sin if she attempts to have her first sexual experience. The other is a detective who has to hold back his anger when he comes across a suspect who murdered his high school sweetheart.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Actually, I have two novels I hope to come up with next year. One is a historical novel covering the 1865-1920 era while the other is a Christian suspense fiction. I’ve already had the historical novel critiqued and have some great comments on it. At this time I don’t feel comfortable discussing what each of these novels are about, but those who subscribe to my free blog,, will be receiving advance information on both of them.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The writing “bug” probably first hit me when I was a junior in high school. I had an inspiring English teacher who had us read portions of many of the classics, and I enjoyed reading so much I’d try to read a book a week while I was attending school. At that point I also wanted to see if it was possible for me to write a complete novel when I was seventeen. I accomplished that by writing a 372-page novel entitled The Boss’s Son. It wasn’t very good, but when I was a freshman in college and received an A paper from my English professor on a lengthy analysis of Moby Dick, I got inspired again. But it wasn’t until my mid-30s when I started getting articles published in major magazines like Woman’s Day, Jack and Jill, and Writer’s Digest that I discovered that I must have talent. I guess one doesn’t wake up one day and say “Hey, I’m a writer.” What happens instead is a slow progress in that area without consciously thinking about yourself as a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like?
I am not as disciplined a writer as some folks are. I tend to write when I’m inspired, although when I get caught up in a work that absorbs my interest, such as Advent, Sissy!, or All Parts Together, I find there are times where I can’t stop writing. I tell people that I write because I also want to know where my story is going. I should mention that I did write a novel in a month by entering the National Novel Writing Month challenge ( but I must tell you that I spent many months expanding and editing it. That novel happens to be the one we’re discussing today--An Innocent Murdered.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a “quirk” but I find that when I’m in the middle of writing a novel the plot and the characters in that novel go with me everywhere. Recently, when I did the scene where Susan, (who used to be a nun named Sister Anne) finds herself alone with Matt Gunnison the detective in my novel. She has been a virgin for 46 years and knows virtually nothing about the male anatomy, yet she is curious about men and sex. I’ve agonized over drinking coffee, or taking a drive, or just doing routine chores about the house as how to do this gracefully. I felt I was Susan and that I felt deprived and curious, so how do I create a scene that doesn’t cater to a reader’s prurient interest yet brings out the conflict in that scene. How does Matt handle her quirky questions about sex? How does Susan handle her guilt, knowing in her mind that the church considers this a grievous sin?

My quirk is that I like to see a movie playing in my mind where I actually see and hear the characters and then go into their minds to sense how they feel about what they’re doing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up?
One of the most memorable presents I received as a child was a small printing press--the kind where you had to put individual rubber pieces of letters into metal grooves and set those metal strips into a rotary cylinder. Rubber cutouts of caricatures had to be glued on these strips and the press had to be inked. I was so fascinated by this printing press that I attempted to do a neighborhood newspaper with it.

But as kid, I really didn’t think much of what I want to be when I grew up. I was like Tom Sawyer, having fun, enjoying life as a kid, and it was only later in high school that I gave it some thought. I ended up majoring in chemical engineering, then going into market research, then going into being an editor for Software Supermarket magazine and then for South Bay Accent magazine. Later, I became a copywriting instructor for a California university. After I retired I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I probably knew that years earlier but wasn’t conscious of it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I know it must be confusing for readers to determine which books they want to read. Therefore, I need to tell you how I may be different from many other authors. I tend to somehow weave in the subject of compassion in each of my novels--that is to say, although brutality and murder may appear in some of my plots, I balance that with other characters who show compassion toward others.

In An Innocent Murdered, for instance, Matt is a detective hired to solve the case of the murdered priest. But Matt shows compassion in more than once instance. With the ex-nun, he shows compassion for her naivety when it comes to understanding the sexual act, rather than make fun of her odd questions (such as “when you get aroused, do your testicles get aroused also?” or “can you still pee when your penis is rock hard?””

In another instance, Matt consoles a mother whose daughter has run away, apparently the murderer of another woman. He asks her where her daughter usually runs to when she’s in trouble. Yet in another scene, he weeps in church after he discovers who murdered an innocent 8-year-old child. Matt’s a great detective--but he has a heart. I have a website devoted to stories about compassion on

Thanks for being here today, Tom, and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing.

Readers, Tom is giving away a copy of his popular historical novel about the Lincoln assassination, All Parts Together, to a lucky commentor at the end of the virtual book tour. You can follow his tour and comment here and on other tour stops. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview with paranormal YA author Emlyn Chand

Today's guest is paranormal young adult author Emlyn Chand. She's talking about her new novel Farsighted, her writing, and there are details below about a $50 Amazon gift certificate giveaway.

Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and is of the YA genre. Learn more about Emlyn at or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or GoodReads.

Welcome, Emlyn. Please tell us about your current release.
Farsighted tells the story of Alex Kosmitoras. Here’s my mini teaser: Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.

What inspired you to write this book?
Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind, but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Farsighted is a 5-book series. Each book will be told from a different character’s point-of-view, so in book #2, we’ll actually be able to see what Grandon looks like! Next up is Open Heart. I hope to have that ready by the middle of next year.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in my left hand, at least that’s what my Twitter bio says. But seriously, I do believe writers are born into the craft—we haven’t got much choice, but it’s a great calling to have. As a child, I always had a story to tell. I also loved illustrating my own books and comics. I first became a writer writer when I began doing a book review column for the local paper. That taught me the importance of deadlines and letting the words flow out even when I had no idea what direction they’d take me in.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Really, my day is quite simple. Wake up (usually anywhere from 2 AM to 6 AM depending on how much I need to get done). Work until 7 PM. Eat dinner with my husband. Either watch television or read a book until I fall asleep. Repeat on loop. When I’m actively writing (as opposed to editing or marketing my work), I like to write at least 1 1/2 hours first thing in the morning. I go to Biggby or Panera to get it done. The rest is devoted to my burgeoning business, Novel Publicity.

Hey, didn’t somebody important say, “far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing?” I don’t mind having to give-up the other parts of my life to pursue my work, because I love it. I know I’ll eventually need to achieve a better balance, but for now, I’m content to push the pedal to the metal.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have character-specific food cravings when I’m deep in a writing spell. Isn’t that weird? Alex, the main character of Farsighted, really liked Taco Bell’s Nacho Bel Grande. ;-)

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was really little, I planned on being a zoo keeper. In elementary school, I was going to be a Disney animator. In high school, I was going to be a lawyer. And in my early years of college, I was going to be Ambassador to Russia. :-)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Hi, readers! I hope you’ll enjoy reading Farsighted. My primary goal is to tell an interesting story that people will find entertaining and be glad they read. Secondly, I’d like to infuse contemporary Young Adult fiction with a bit more diversity and teach readers about the beauty of other cultures and other ways of life. I also hope that Farsighted is a book that leads to introspection—what would I do if put in Alex’s place? Did Alex ever have a choice or was this path his destiny? What would it be like to see the world the way he sees the world?

Thanks, Emlyn. This paranormal series sounds fascinating.

Readers, Emlyn is giving away a $50 gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during her virtual book tour. Feel free to comment here, and follow her tour and comment on other sites. The more comments, the better chance you have of winning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interview with short story writer and comic illustrator John Garrett

Today's guest is John Garrett. He's a short story writer and comic book illustrator and is doing a virtual book tour for his newest work.

John is giving away an e-copy of "How to Deal with Stupid Clowns Who Don't Know What the Hell They're Talking About!" at each blog stop. So comment here and at his other stops for a chance to win!

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, John. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm just a guy who likes to draw comics and write cool and funny stories. I'm 39 years old, live in the Milwaukee, WI area, and for the most part I prefer my food in sandwich form. That should about sum it up!

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
Since I both write short stories and draw comics I'll go ahead and blather about both here.

Short stories are fun for me because I get to create the world using only words, and I have a lot of room for those words. Although I also illustrate my short stories, most of the world building is done in the words on the page.

With comics it's somewhat reversed. I have a lot less space, but I'm literally drawing the whole scene and I can't rely on the words at all. In comics the motto is "show, don't tell". When you're drawing the story, you have to pretend that there won't be any words - if you can still tell what's going on, then you're telling the story right with your art.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
Sure! My latest effort is called "How to Deal with Stupid Clowns who Don’t know what the Hell they’re talking about!" It's in the humor genre probably most similar to Scott Adams Dilbert stuff. It's a bit of a hybrid of comics and prose. It's a collection of life-lessons I've learned about dealing with some of the difficult people I've encountered along my journey through life. I'm far enough removed from it now that I can really see the funny in it, now.

Hopefully those people still dealing with these types of folks can get a laugh or two out of it to help them cope. Each lesson starts off with a comic illustrating the point of the chapter, and it leads you all the way through the book that way.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
I'm a huge fan of Sci-fi and Fantasy stuff, and between the novels I've read and the TV shows/movies I've watched I decided I was going to try to get my own stories out.

It's funny, because I've ben drawing comics almost as soon as I could hold a pencil, but the writing was almost incidental to the art. When I would read comics, I would always think "I wish I could draw like this", but when I read a novel, I'd think "I wish I could write like this!"

What exciting story are you working on next?
Now that "Stupid Clowns" is out, I'm going to turn my attention back to my short story Fantasy series called "True Tales of the Soryan Order". I have a lot of material out there that essentially gets no attention because I've been busy doing a lot of drawing. I'm looking forward to breathing new life into it and getting it in front of people.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was only a few years ago when I decided to take a serious crack at writing my stories. I even sent off quite a few query letters, synopses, and first chapters to Literary Agents and Publishers. Although I didn't have any luck with them, I still decided I was going to do it, anyway. At that point I didn't realize it, but I had joined the ranks of legions of other aspiring writers out there.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
Well, the first thing I did was pick up a copy of the Writer's Market directory. I didn't get many leads from the book itself, but I signed up for their forums ( and just talking with and reading the trials and tribulations of the experienced authors as well as the noobs like myself was very informative. That forum lead me to a few other places where I could observe the process at work and see what others were up to (like

It's easier to see what's a scam and what's real when you can run it by people with experience. I also made a few good friends from there so it's definitely worth it to invest time in these forums.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmm, that's a good one. I really hope I have an interesting writing quirk but I don't know what it would be!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
All I wanted to do was draw superheroes for Marvel Comics when I was a kid. I was sure that's what I was going to do. Turns out it's extremely difficult to get into that field. Now I've somewhat changed my mind about that. After reading more and learning more about the inner workings of the industry I don't think I'd care for that as my primary source of income. I'd much rather call my own shots and create my own stories my own way.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yeah! "Stupid Clowns" is a labor of love for me. It's mostly humor, but also a bit of a self-help in there that can hopefully resonate with people and help them ride out the rough patches when dealing with difficult people in our lives.

Thanks all for reading and feel free to swing by my site for weekly comics and other stuff! Folks can check out the YouTube book trailer, too.

Also, I'm giving away an e-copy of "How to Deal with Stupid Clowns Who Don't Know What the Hell They're Talking About!" at each blog stop. So comment here and at my other stops for a chance to win!

Thanks for being here, John, and talking a bit about your writing and illustrating.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New interview with historical fiction author Grace Elliot

I'm happy to welcome Grace Elliot back to Reviews and Interviews. We first met her in May when she stopped by to talk about her debut historical romance novel. Now with a new novel out, titled Eulogy's Secret, she's here to tell us some more.

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace works in a companion animal practice near London and is housekeeping staff to five moggies, two teenage sons, and a guinea pig. She turned to writing as an antidote to the stress of modern life and believes intelligent people have the greatest need to read romance!

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Grace. Please tell us about your newest release.
Set in regency London, Eulogy’s Secret is a story of greed, prejudice and a stolen identity.

In the four weeks since her guardians’ death, Eulogy Foster has lost everything. Penniless and alone she seeks the help of her estranged brother, Lord Lucien Devlin. But Devlin throws Eulogy onto the streets and the mercy of a passing stranger, Jack Huntley. As Eulogy seeks the truth behind her birth, she is drawn into the world of art and artists, where her morals are challenged and all is deception.

Jack Huntley: bitter, cynical and betrayed in love. He believes women are devious, scheming, untrustworthy creatures - and when he rescues a naïve Miss from being raped, his life is about to change forever. As his attraction to Eulogy grows, caught in a deadlock with both denying their true feelings, events take a sinister turn as someone seeks to silence Eulogy….forever.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a writing addict and always looking for inspiration for the next story. Eulogy’s Secret came about after seeing a poster on the London Underground for a memorial concert at the Royal Albert Hall. One word on that poster stuck in my mind - “Eulogy” - and it struck me what an enigmatic name Eulogy would make for a character. I wondered what would lead a parent to call their child ‘Eulogy’ - perhaps the death of the mother in childbirth, or another and even more tragic circumstance….But to answer ‘why’ and find out what Eulogy’s secret is….you’ll have to read the book!

One of the themes explored in this book is that people are not always what they appear, and personal prejudice can blind you to the truth - be it good or bad. Although set in Georgian London with its strict social hierarchy, prejudice is alive and well in the 21st century and therefore a theme still pertinent today.

What’s the next writing project?
I’m hard at work at book two in The Huntley Trilogy (working title Hope’s Betrayal.) Each book features one of the three Huntley brothers and the hero in Hope’s Betrayal is the dashing naval captain, George Huntley. I know when the writing is going well when I dream about the characters - and even if I say so myself, Captain George Huntley is a humdinger of a man, whom I’m totally in love with. I can’t wait to finish writing this book so that I can unleash Captain Huntley on the world and spread the infatuation!

Hope’s Betrayal is going to be an action packed historical romance with smuggling skullduggery, treachery and of course….a love that brings Captain Huntley to his knees.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
The biggest challenge to me is easily - time! Finding time to write in amongst going to work, being a taxi driver to my two sons, cleaning, cooking, ironing, and the million other things that a woman has to do, can be challenging in the extreme! That said, lack of time does focus the mind wonderfully and can be a great motivator. I’ve noticed that I can be at my least productive when I have all day - something to do, I suspect, with procrastination being a default setting.

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Research is an organic process that involves constant growth. I always have a non-fiction (history) book on the go, alongside whatever novel I’m currently reading - this helps give me a broad sweep of knowledge for background, manners, etc.

The first draught of a novel involves writing at full pelt and underlining any passages that need checking for historical accuracy. I also have a special file for noting areas where research is needed, so as the second draught takes shape I know where the work has to be done. That said, I love research, and each novel has its own A4 notebook where I draw costumes and annotate them, sketch street plans for Georgian London and other such details that make the piece truly alive on the page.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I write in a converted garage that is now our dining room. It’s a light and bright space with a window that takes up the width of the room. Beneath that window is an old leopard-print sofa which doubles as ‘my writing space.’

I work best here because it’s away from the distraction of TV and there’s plenty of room for Widget, one of my five cats, to snuggle against my leg. Widget helps my writing productivity no end because when I get up for a comfort break she will pinch the warm spot - so unless I want to risk one of her long suffering looks by moving her when I get back, it’s best to stay put for as long as possible.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I read anything and everything, but my first love will always be historical romance. That said, having an ereader has broadened out my reading tastes because the price makes trying new authors less of a risk. I recently read The Hunger Games (because I’d heard good things…and they were cheap!) and loved them. I’m currently rediscovering some books I loved in the 80’s - the Poldark series by Winston Graham (anybody remember the TV series?) and I love discovering new and independent authors such as Rose Gordon (Regency romances) and Elizabeth Marshall (historical fantasy, reminiscent of Diane Gabaldon.)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Any of your readers who have visited my blog will recognize my fascination for historical trivia. This minor obsession has triggered a non-fiction book to be launched in December 2011.

Cat Pies is a compilation of light-hearted but interested articles about feline-related historical trivia - such as did the Victorian’s eat cat meat, who invented the cat flap, and what links cats to Jack the Ripper?

Well that’s me done. Thank you for reading and thanks especially to Lisa for hosting me today!

Buy links for my book include:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

Thanks for stopping by again, Grace. Keep on writing!