Friday, August 30, 2013

Book blurb blitz stop for Alien, Mine by Sandra Harris

Today is a book blurb blitz tour stop for the sci-fi romance novel Alien, Mine by Sandra Harris. It's now available from Soul Mate Publishing.

Sandra will be awarding one Alien, Mine customized iPhone case to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. This will be available for Apple iPhone 5, 4/4S, 3G/3GS, Samsung Galaxy S4, SIII/S3, SII/S2 or BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 (winner to choose phone case size) and is US ONLY. To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment below. To increase your chances of winning, visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too.

Blurb for Alien, Mine:


Torn from modern day Earth and stranded on the far side of the Galaxy, Sandrea Fairbairn must use every particle of courage she possesses to adjust to her new life and live for tomorrow.

Eugen Mhartak, a general in the Tri-Race Alliance Army, refuses to bow to the merciless Bluthen. Haunted by the loss of far too many innocent lives he has vowed to drive the ruthless invaders from Alliance space.

The strength and valor of Eugen Mhartak attracts Sandrea as no man ever has, but she struggles to read the enigmatic general’s heart. Determined to help him triumph over the Bluthen she uncovers a diabolical plot against the Alliance.

Drawn by the courage and exotic beauty of Sandrea, Mhartak battles to overcome the barriers of cross-cultural differences that separate them and claim her ardent interest. He must conquer his deepest fears to be the man she needs. When his principles are betrayed by his own government and he is faced with the impossible prospect of taking Sandrea’s life in order to save his home planet, Mhartak desperately searches for a way to keep safe both his world and the magnificent woman who has stolen his heart.

Excerpt from Alien, Mine:
“Mhartak, move your sorry carcass!”

He glared back to the forest. A gan dressed in agricultural clothes with a familiar cast to his stance cradled a powerful rifle. Disbelief narrowed his eyes.

Surely not.

Amidst a fresh hail of enemy fire, the civilian hefted the weapon.


Alarm clanged a harsh warning through his mind. The ion wave emission gun his brother held would mulch any unprotected organ within its range.

“No!” he roared and launched himself towards the forest. Too late.

Fallen leaves whirled toward him on the leading edge of a percussion surge. The ion wave slammed into him, wrenching him from the ground and flinging him back. His armour alarm shrieked imminent overload and his armour failed to absorb the savage impact of unyielding rock. Brutal force hammered the breath from his lungs and almost snatched thought from his mind.

He shook the daze from his wits and staggered to his feet. Desperation and anger seethed through him, and he hurtled into the rocks.

Stupid son-of-a-demented-laraxdon.


Moans drifted on a soft breeze and Bluthen bodies littered the rocks. Blood oozed from their eyes, ears, and noses. His ruthless hands tossed corpses and injured aside.


Kulluk and Shrenkner sprang over the boulders, their horrified gazes sweeping across the carnage. A massive presence loomed beside him.

“Well, it’s nice to see you, too,” a familiar voice muttered.

Control snapped and Mhartak struck, gripped his long-lost, beloved brother by the throat and struggled not to throttle him.

Author Bio and Links:
Born in the far north of Australia, yearly cyclones, floods and being cut off from civilization for weeks at a time were the norm. An outrageous imagination helped occupy Sandra’s mind.

An abiding interest in astronomy and a deep-seated need to always see the good guys win naturally influences her writing. Not satisfied with the amount of romance in science fiction novels she set out to redress the balance.

She currently lives in sunny South East Queensland, Australia, with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who doesn’t seem to realize she comes from royalty and should act in a more appropriate manner.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Interview with contemp women's fic author Kathleen Varn

Contemporary women’s fiction author Kathleen Varn is here today. She’s doing a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish for her novel Ameera Unveiled.

Kathleen will be awarding a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. To be entered to win, leave a comment below (and a way for Kathleen to get in touch with you). To increase your chances of winning, visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too.

Kat Varn’s love affair with words manifested when she turned four and taught herself to read. 

As she grew older, books and reading were an escape from responsibility. As the oldest daughter in a transient Navy family, words fed her imagination to embrace adventure and magical worlds. Kat was drawn to the strength of little girls in The Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Eventually, Kat dove into journaling between the pages of beautiful leather notebooks, recording her children’s infant landmarks. Journaling also helped her find solace in the grief of a toxic relationship. Throughout her journey to extract her family from an unhealthy relationship, she explored the idea of freedom through allegorical short stories. In the midst of angst and soul searching, she retained a sense of humor that gave her the resilience to pursue the search for her true self.

Kat is now very happily married to her soul mate. She resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked for an adoption attorney for twenty-three years. With her two children settled in adulthood, she is exploring a beautiful world, from scuba diving in Fiji or photographing from Alaska’s frozen tundra.

Welcome, Kat. Please tell us about your current release.  
Ameera Unveiled was released by Boutique of Quality Books (BQB) Publishing on July 25, 2013. My book has been described as a creative path to genuine inner growth. Ameera Unveiled explores the restricted existence of an empty nester woman who wants to face a forbidden zone—dance. My character, Kat, discovers a newfound freedom through belly dancing. Eventually, while traveling a week with a glittery ensemble of zealous belly dancing women, Kat/Ameera weaves strong friendships as she faces her fears of stage freight and vulnerability. The bottom line was becoming part of a larger and lifelong evasive experience, the bonding of women.

What inspired you to write this book?
I believe in facing issues resulting from being human and trying to get through a day—with as much humor as possible. I don’t like sticking my head in the sand or holding back because something is intimidating or might be difficult. When I decided to take up belly dancing, I found a journey to a real belly dance troupe. For three years, I was embraced and bonded with an eclectic group of women from careers and family changes. They are such a gift in my life. When we travelled to Jamaica for a week, it was a test of respecting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It was a surreal experience that inspired me to share and amuse other women joined through some commonality other than being women. Borrowing the words of Garth Brooks: “I could’ve missed the pain, but I would have missed the dance.” I want my life to be tested by fire to remove the dross and leave a pure heart. I hope Ameera Unveiled inspires others to face their forbidden zones.

The year 2006 was my year of change. According to the Chinese calendar, it was the Year of the Dog, the same sign under which I was born in 1958. Specifically, it was the Year of the Red Fire Dog—I thought of it as the Year of the Hotdog.

In 1982, I was a Pentecostal wife and a young mother and everything I knew about the Chinese zodiac came from discreet glances at paper placemats at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets.

On one of these placemats, I’d read, “The Dog symbolizes responsibility, loyalty, compatibility, and kindness. Dogs frequently offer kind words and useful advice, always listening and lending a shoulder when necessary. Ensuring others are happy is more important to the Dog than wealth, money, or success. Dogs can benefit by learning to relax and being more rational.”

Pondering this description, I’d looked at my four-year-old daughter Isabella and then-husband Chris, a Pentecostal preacher’s son, and thought, Nothing new to me.

But that was then . . .

Now, twenty-four years and a new husband later—we’d married in 2002 after a five-year courtship—I was standing at the front door of a beautiful home that my husband and I had built together, looking out at the wetlands. The sun was rising, highlighting spider webs heavy with dew among the marsh grass. I’d no reason to be up early, since I’d retired from running a sole practitioner’s legal practice shortly after my remarriage, but my mind was still cluttered.

My late-stepfather’s estate had closed and our new Italian restaurant had opened in a problematic building downtown—part of a real estate legacy left for my soul mate, Steve, to manage for his family.

Early in the summer, my son Aiden had graduated high school. As we neared the end of August, I’d packed his bags for a trip to Europe with his father—my ex—and bade him good-bye.

With parental responsibilities waning, I had turned my focus to . . . me! Yet, even as I was preparing to send Aiden on his adventure, I’d stumbled on a goal for myself when I pulled out the local high school’s adult education class schedule and found a beginner’s belly dancing class. Course description: Basic introduction to belly dancing. No dance experience required: six weeks for $55. First class starts September 12. Register online. After I had found this, in no time at all, I was staring at the registration website, stressing and resisting the urge to say a few bad words throughout the online ordeal.

I’d toyed with the idea of enrolling in a dance class for more than a year. I’d dreamed of dance classes for what seemed a lifetime—ever since I completed the arduous commitment to homeschool my son Aiden during his junior year of high school. Aiden had argued to be homeschooled for at least a year since my retirement in 2004. I’d allowed my daughter Isabella to do it until she enrolled in high school, but after my 1994 divorce I wasn’t able to homeschool while working full time and heading a single-parent household.

So I’d agreed to his request. Not only had I taken on a teaching role that had put my new life on hold, I had to teach chemistry, which was anything but fun. Before and after his instruction time, I’d spent hours studying elements and stoichiometry. Together with extra knowledge, I’d gained extra pounds as a deskbound parent. As a fortyish mom who was only five-foot-three, I didn’t distribute those twelve extra pounds well. They attached to “the sisters” and found residence in the love handles that were not so fashionably referred to as “muffin tops.” That added smidgen to my waistline made my love handles scream, “Surrender to the idea of wearing elastic waistbands!”

I wanted to return to my fighting—excuse me—dancing weight. I’d always wanted to find my Red Shoes and dance, dance, dance. Instead, adult education and the realities of being in my forties were leading me to consider bare feet, a hip scarf, and a choli. All I had to do was click on “Register Now” and I’d be on my way to instant shimmyness.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve toyed with several scenarios that had marinated before I conceived Ameera Unveiled. I’m researching some historical facts of the 1960s and 1970s from the perspective of military baby boomers. I’ve been asked if there is a sequel to Ameera Unveiled. I may be collaborating with one of our troupe member’s battle with breast cancer. There are so many stories just from having travelled through five decades of amazing American history.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I grew up in the days of snail mail and diaries. Writing was a natural extension of communication. Even telephone communication had limitations and to some degree considered a luxury. As I left friends behind on the next move, we stayed in touch with a two cent postal stamp.

After high school, I worked for an attorney for twenty-three years and edited his correspondence while transcribing his dictation. I journaled and wrote long descriptive letters to my one hundred year old aunt for her amusement. As I explained above, retired and with more free time, I consulted with a book coach. I met Shari Stauch of WhereWritersWin and she saw a glittery seed in my book pitch. She pushed me to find my writing cadence and pushed me when I tried to soften my character’s journey. It was Shari’s faith in my words that made me dare to call myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I feel like I write full-time! I spend a lot of time in my media room with computer in my lap while listening to television shows. If I remember to grab something to eat, it is usually Ramen noodles with hot sauce. When I hit a tough spot, I’ll spend time researching or scouring my photo files to assist in rounding out the scene or character. I don’t usually find time to formally write if my husband and I are travelling. But, I do try and file away something someone said or capture a beautiful building with my camera.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I embrace spinning a humorous twist in the midst of a conflict or relationship. Growing up with an Irish twin with the same sense of humor, we’ve poked fun and made positive spins on some very hard situations and losses. I love when I hear someone tell me: “I felt and saw what so-and-so was doing in chapter…”

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up in a transient military lifestyle that exposed me to many States and types of communities. The social climate of women breaking into professional male-dominated careers was in its infancy stage. For many reasons, including financial restrictions, I did not have a college option. Because of Hollywood’s influence, I assumed I would find work in some type of clerical office but I was attracted to a counselor type job.

Inadvertently, I accepted a job with a private adoption attorney which honed my natural propensity for social work. I feel blessed to have found a niche that suited me in spite of not having a lot of guidance or education while women’s rights tried to progress.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope Ameera Unveiled inspires readers who may be holding back from jumping through their own rings of fire. I respect anyone who will at least try, struggle and even have to re-group—and try again. Surround yourself with respectful, good natured friends who know when to step in and give you a big warm hug and willing to get a little dirty in the trenches.

Ways to connect:

Thanks, Kat. Readers, don't forget to leave a comment if you'd like a chance to win the gift card! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book blurb and excerpt for The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey

Today is a book blast tour stop for The Cadence of Gypsies, by Barbara Casey. The novel is a young adult contemporary mystery now available from Gauthier Publishing

Barbara will be awarding a $25 Amazon or gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. If you'd like a chance to win, leave a comment below. If you'd like to increase your chances of winning, visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too.

Three high-spirited 17 year olds, with intelligent quotients in the genius range, accompany their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, to Frascati, Italy, a few weeks before they are to graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Carolina's purpose in planning the trip is to remove her gifted, creative students from the Wood Rose campus located in Raleigh, North Carolina, so they can't cause any more problems ("expressions of creativity") for the headmaster, faculty, and other students – which they do with regularity. Carolina also wants to visit the Villa Mondragone where the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, was first discovered and search how it is related to a paper written in the same script she received on her 18th birthday when she was told that she was adopted – a search that will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Excerpt from The Cadence of Gypsies:
The slight voice tremor was all that was needed, but the deep, audible sigh confirmed what Carolina suspected: that she was in for another real ass-chewing. This would be the eighth time getting called into the headmaster's office in the same number of months she had been teaching at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Each time it had been because her girls had committed a serious infraction of rules or behaved in some inappropriate way that was unacceptable within the stone walls of Wood Rose.

Her girls, the ones she had been given total responsibility for, called themselves Females of Intellectual Genius, or FIGs. Everyone else, however, called them strange. Never before in the history of Wood Rose had a student even come close to approaching genius status. Certainly not in the time that Dr. Harcourt had been headmaster. Then, within the short span of one week, two seven-year-old children--Dara Roux and Mackenzie Yarborough--were admitted, each from a different family, a different background, and a different part of the country, but each with an intelligence quotient well within the range of genius. Amazingly, several years later, a third student--Jennifer Torres--was enrolled, whose age and scores were comparable to those of the original FIGs. What Wood Rose could do for these gifted girls was now coming to a close, much to the relief of the administration, faculty, and staff alike. This would be their final year at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women, for in June--less than six weeks away--they would graduate.

Carolina was still in bed, deep in thought as she usually was whenever she had a quiet moment to herself, when the telephone rang. For several days she had been struggling with how best to approach the headmaster. Ever since being put in charge of the FIGs shortly after getting hired at Wood Rose, she had been trying to come up with innovative ways in which she could somehow excite her girls, challenge their intellect, and, most of all, keep them out of trouble. The inherent problems of being different extended beyond their prickly relationship with Wood Rose staff members. The multi-faceted difficulties in teaching the FIGs frequently left the faculty with feelings of inferiority and impotency at the very least. None of the other residents wanted to be around them either, with the exception of the youngest residents who didn't yet comprehend the difference between being brilliant and normal, which brought about additional struggles of an inner psychological nature. Carolina had tried a variety of things, but, obviously, what she had been doing wasn't working. What had stimulated her when she was their age? What mysteries of the universe had intrigued her?

Then she had remembered.

Author information:
Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, and North Carolina Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history. 

In 1978, she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service. 

Since that time, her award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in several publications including the AMERICAN POETRY ANTHOLOGY, the SPARROWGRASS POETRY FORUM, THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF POETRY (Editor’s Choice Award), the NORTH CAROLINA CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE MAGAZINE, THE NEW EAST MAGAZINE, the RALEIGH (NC) NEWS AND OBSERVER, the ROCKY MOUNT (NC) SUNDAY TELEGRAM, DOG FANCY, BYLINE, TRUE STORY and THE CHRISTIAN RECORD

A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ms. Casey's award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in THE COSMIC UNICORN and CROSS TIME short story anthologies. Her essays, also written for adults, appear in THE CHRYSALIS READER, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, and A CUP OF COMFORT ANTHOLOGY by the Adams Media Corporation.

Her two middle-grade/young adult novels, LEILANI ZAN and GRANDMA JOCK AND CHRISTABELLE (James C. Winston Publishing Co.) were nominated for awards of excellence by the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the National Association of University Women Literary Award, and the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award. SHYLA'S INITIATIVE (Crossquarter Publishing Group, 2002), a contemporary adult novel of fiction, received the 2003 Independent Publisher Book Award and received special recognition for literary merit by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. Ms. Casey’s novel THE COACH’S WIFE (ArcheBooks Publishing), a contemporary mystery, was listed as a Publisher’s Best Seller and was semifinalist of the Dana Award for Outstanding Novel. In 2007 her novel, THE HOUSE OF KANE (ArcheBooks Publishing), also a contemporary mystery, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and in December 2009 her novel, JUST LIKE FAMILY (Wandering Sage Publications), was launched by the 7-Eleven stores in St. Louis, Missouri. Her young adult novel, THE CADENCE OF GYPSIES (Gauthier Publications), was released in March 2011 and considered for the Smithsonian’s Most Notable 2011 Books. It has also been selected by Amazon for its 2013 List of Best Books. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PRISSY (Strategic Media Books), a novel for adults, was released in March 2013 and received an IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. It has also been listed as a “2013 Best Summer Read” by Conversations Live Radio and has been placed in nomination for a Pulitzer Award.

Ms. Casey is a frequent guest speaker at writers’ conferences and universities throughout the United States. She is former director, guest author, and panelist of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida; and for thirteen years she served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Florida. She held the position of Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 to 2003.

Ms. Casey is president of the Barbara Casey Agency. She represents clients nationally and internationally in fiction and nonfiction for adults. Her past and present professional associations are numerous and include being editorial consultant for The Jamaican Writers Circle in affiliation with the University of West Indies and Mico Teachers College in Kingston. She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories.


Don't forget to leave a comment if you'd like a chance to win the gift card!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Interview with occult crime thriller author Joseph Spencer

Today I’m happy to host occult crime thriller author Joseph Spencer as kicks off his virtual book tour for his novel Wrage, published by Damnation Books. This is the second book in his Sons of Darkness series.

Joseph will be awarding a $25 Starbucks gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So, to be entered to win, leave a comment below. And if you'd like to increase your chances of winning, visit other tour sites and leave comments there too.

As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating with honors from Clinton (IL) High School in 1996 and summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2000. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph married Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Murphy, a 15-year-old orange tabby, is perhaps the most vocal member of the family. The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from The Princess Bride, Rain Man, Bridesmaids, and Office Space.

Welcome, Joseph. Please tell us about your current release.
Wrage is the second novel in my Sons of Darkness series. It continues where my professional debut – Grim – left off.

As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.

Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family's stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus' heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.

The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero's name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.

What inspired you to write this book?
Wrage explores the Faustian theme of wanting something different for your life. Several characters strike deals they may end up regretting to see their schemes and obsessions realized. This novel also expands its universe of supernatural characters which were inspired in part by mythology and one of my favorite TV shows, Supernatural. Critics of my first novel in The Sons of Darkness series, Grim, expressed some dissatisfaction that there wasn’t more redemption for the characters involved, and I think they will find this story a little more to their liking.

Excerpt from Wrage:
“Dad! Is that you?” Anna recoiled with her hands rushing up to her mouth as if to snatch up each word of her inexplicable outburst and bury them deep inside of her. Her whole body tensed and hunched backward like a frightened cat waiting to dart away to safety. The frigid bite of the air gnashing against her skin transformed her caramel complexion into a cherry shade of irritated skin.

“Seek The Way, The Truth and The Life. The Way leads to death. Death stalks you now. You can’t escape Death. You must face death to find The Life.”

The sea of officers scrubbed prim and proper in their dress blue uniforms, the tartan-clad bagpipe players, the somber clergy, and the black-suited politicians all washed away into an indistinguishable herd being driven somewhere in the distance. The wind swept Anna to a whole other world, one where it was just her and the smoke man.

“Keep your head, Rube.”

“What?” Anna heard herself cry out her question. She’d heard the smoke man’s words echo inside her head. They were familiar words from long ago, but she couldn’t believe she heard them from whatever this thing was.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Malice is my third book of the Sons of Darkness series and readers will learn more about Anna Duke while also following a bad boy rocker, Malice Madsen, loosely based off Marilyn Manson.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I worked for ten years as a print journalist in large regional daily newspapers in Peoria, Il., Decatur, Il., Burlington, Iowa, and Grand Junction, Colo. I covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, Va., the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game. I also won an award for outstanding writer of the year by the Colorado Tennis Association.

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 were a full-time writer, but I haven’t made it there yet. I work as the supervisor of an emergency 9-1-1 call center in Peoria, Ill. I try to infuse some of the personalities of officers I work with on a daily basis into characters into my novels. I basically have to chip away at my writing because I have a demanding work schedule. I try to set a daily writing goal of 3-5 pages per day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m kind of a pantser. I go into a chapter with one idea of how it will go, but then sometimes the characters take me to different places than what I initially intended. My characters talk to me. The scenes kind of play out visually in my mind like a movie only I can see. I would rather stay true to the direction my characters are tugging me towards than some preconceived notion of getting from one part of the plot to another. Obviously, I still get to roughly the same places as I initially intended, but some of the details maybe different than what I thought I would write when I started.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the star slugger who helped the Chicago Cubs snap their World Series title drought.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My publisher Damnation Books is offering 28 percent of all ebook orders with promo code 289snake. Wrage on Damnation Books’ site
I also created video trailers on YouTube for both of my books: Grim | Wrage
And my other links are: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks, Joseph. I’m a fan of Damnation Books, as they’ve published a short story and poem of mine in The Zombie Cookbook a few years back. Love meeting other DB authors and learning what they’re up to. Happy touring!

Readers, don't forget about the gift card giveaway - leave a comment to be entered to win! (or just to say 'hi' to Joseph).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Live critique chat at The Writer's Chatroom, Sun, Aug 25, 7-9PM

Tomorrow, Sunday, August 25, The Writer's Chatroom will have a critique chat. Would you like a crit from the entire chatroom? Then follow the guidelines EXACTLY.

E-mail 200-300 words from your work. Paste your submission into the e-mail.
Copy this list and put it at the beginning of the email, with your answers:

Format (short story, novel, etc):
Section: (beginning, middle, or end of piece):
Name you intend to publish under:
Name you use in the chatroom:

Submissions that follow the guidelines will be used in the order they are received. I don't know how many we will get through, but the queue starts when the first correct submission is received.

Submit polished work! Most of our chatters are aiming for publication. To get there, you have to be able to handle honest critiques. I will not allow personal attacks, but problems in the writing will be openly discussed.

If you are not in attendance, your submission will be skipped. It's a waste of everyone's time to critique something if the author isn't there to hear it.

Fiction, nonfic, essay...doesn't matter. I recommend trying to get an entire scene into 300 words. Full scenes get better crits.

Why only 300 words? More than that will scroll off the screen too quickly. People need to be able to read it, to give a good crit.

Please be on time for this chat. Crosstalk, including greetings, will be kept to a bare minimum. 

Make sure you have floated and enlarged your screen in chat, so you can keep up. Here we go...let's see how many of you have learned to write well and follow submission guidelines. First submission up for crits is...  


Sunday, August 25, 2013
Eastern USA Time.....7 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. 

Don't forget the topic chats on Wednesday nights, 8-10 pm EST!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book blurb tour stop for A Kiss to Die For by Gail Barrett

Today, the blog is a Goddess Fish book blast tour stop for the contemporary romantic suspense novel, A Kiss to Die For by Gail Barrett

Gail will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift certificate and either a signed print copy (US ONLY) or an electronic copy of Fatal Exposure (Buried Secrets book one) to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour and her other Super Book Blast on August 27th.  So, to be entered to win, leave a comment below. To increase your chances of winning, visit other tour stops and leave comments there too.

Homeless Army veteran Sullivan Turner is nobody’s hero. His failure to save his fallen comrades proved that. So when a gutsy social worker gets caught in a drug gang’s crosshairs, he knows he’s the last man who can safeguard her and the pregnant teenagers she’s trying to protect.

Former debutant Haley Barnes learned the hard way how to survive. After witnessing a cold-blooded murder, the terrified teenaged runaway changed her identity and hid to save her life. But when the killer tracks her down and attacks the girls in the homeless shelter she now runs, Haley knows the time has come to stand and fight. But to bring down the powerful killer she must confront her high-society family’s darkest secrets -- and convince wounded warrior Sully Turner he’s the hero she believes.

“Then you’ll do what they say? You’ll go to a safe house?”

“No. Not yet. I can’t,” she added when he hissed. “I have to try to get answers. If my parents won’t talk, if I don’t learn anything at the fundraiser, then I’ll reconsider my plan. But I have to give it a shot.”

Frustrated, he gripped the back of his neck. He was starting to realize how she’d survived the streets -- she was too damned stubborn to quit. “Then at least take a cop as your bodyguard.”

“No. It’s either you or no one. I won’t change my mind about that. I can’t. I’ll never figure out who’s involved if I tip him off.”

His jaw clenched. Dread mingled with desperation at the thought of her taking on the killer alone. “That’s not fair.”

A sad smile curved her lips. “Don’t worry, Sully. I don’t blame you for not wanting to do this. I’ve already involved you enough.”

Suddenly feeling cornered, Sully turned to the window and scowled out at the city lights. She’d just given him an out. He should leave right now while he still could. But he couldn’t let her go to that fundraiser alone. He’d never forgive himself if she got killed.

But how could he protect her? He was the worst possible man for the job. He swung around to face her again. “For God’s sakes, Haley. Why can’t you understand this? I’m not the man you need.”

“But you’re the one I want.”

Author Bio and Links:
Gail Barrett is the award-winning author of thirteen romantic suspense novels. A former RITA® and Daphne finalist, Gail has received the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Holt Medallion, the Booksellers Best, The National Readers’ Choice Award, and numerous other awards. She lives with her husband in Western Maryland. For more information, visit her website. 

Buy Links: AmazonBN  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Interview with debut crime thriller author Luke Murphy

I'm happy to introduce debut crime thrill author Luke Murphy to you today. He's telling us a lot about Dead Man’s Hand. I hope you'll read on through.

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters, and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

Welcome, Luke. Please tell us about your current release, Dead Man’s Hand.
What happens when the deck is stacked against you…

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don't fall your way?

When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand?

Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.

What inspired you to write this book?
I never thought much about writing when I was growing up.

But I was always an avid reader, which I owe to my mother. She was a librarian, and although I lost her when I was young, I will always remember a stack on Danielle Steele books on her bedside table, and a lot of books lying around the house at my disposal.

My first chapter books were the Hardy Boys titles, so they are the reason I love mysteries. As an adult, some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, and Greg Iles, so naturally I write what I love to read – mystery/suspense novels. Dead Man’s Hand has been compared to James Patterson books, which to me is an honour. Maybe in style (short chapters, a quick read), as I have read many of his books.

Plot: I get my ideas from stories I hear about, whether through reading (newspapers, magazines, etc.), what I hear (radio) or what I see (TV, movies, internet, etc.). The plot is completely fictional. I wouldn`t say that one thing or person influences my writing, but a variety of my life experiences all have led to my passion in the written word. There is not a single moment in time when this idea came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books, and movies. Dead Man’s Hand became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field, and adding my wild imagination. The Internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.

In plot, this is a relatively non-technical police-procedural in which the team of the investigating officers is thwarted by the simplicity, speed, and brutality of slayings by knife-stroke, facing a challenge not unlike the mystery that surrounded the Jack the Ripper murders. The lead investigator, as in Michael Connelly’s novels and in line with the tradition of the police procedural, is pressured by police authorities who are corrupt as well as inept.

Setting: I usually set my stories in cities I`ve visited and fell in love with. Las Vegas was the perfect backdrop for this story, glitz and glamour as well as an untapped underground.

Characters: I have never been involved in a homicide investigation, LOL. Although I am not a 6’5”, 220 pound African-American, I’ve used much of my athletic background when creating my protagonist Calvin Watters. Watters’ past as an athlete and his emotional rollercoaster brought on by injuries were drawn from my experiences. His mother died of cancer when he was young, as mine was. There are certainly elements of myself in Calvin, but overall, this is a work of fiction. I did not base the characters or plot on any real people or events. Any familiarities are strictly coincidence.

As far as characterization goes, Calvin Watters faces racial prejudice with calmness similar to that of Walter Mosley’s character Easy Rawlins. But Watters’ past as an athlete and enforcer will remind other readers of (Jack) Reacher of the Lee Childs series. The Stuart Woods novel Choke, about a tennis player who, like Watters, suffered greatly from a dramatic loss that was a failure of his psyche, is also an inspiration for Dead Man’s Hand.

I’ve always been a self-motivated person, and my harshest critic. Whether it was in school, hockey, or writing, I’ve been the one to put the most pressure on myself to succeed, to be the best in everything I try.

Excerpt from Dead Man’s Hand:
In a pool of sweat, he shot up in bed. "Jesus!"

Pain bolted through his swollen right knee, but the emotional pain from a shattered ego hurt even worse. It was the same pain and nightmare that had visited him many nights over the last four years. He was the only one to blame for USC's humiliating loss and his own humiliating personal downfall.

Removing the sweat-soaked sheets, he hobbled across the room, dodged the strewn clothes on the floor, stepped into the bathroom, and quietly closed the door behind him. He flicked on the light and squinted as the sudden brightness blinded him. Then he reached for the bottle of Percocet, his loyal companion in these isolated, agonizing nights.

He shook three of the blue painkillers into his hand, his steady diet of Percs. When he couldn't get enough from his doctor, he bought extras from a dealer. He downed the pills, chasing them with a mouthful of water. They would take some time to kick in, but relief was on its way. The drugs, along with his secret hopes and plans, were all that kept him from slipping over the edge.

He used his hands on the vanity to hold his weight and stared into the mirror. At twenty-six, he already had the hair and face of a stranger.

"You should let your dreadlocks grow long," his boss suggested. "More intimidating."

The patchy facial hair was Calvin's decision. The overall effect was menacing—just right for his line of work.

His sharp brown eyes, which at one time had won him glances from beautiful women in college, were usually hidden behind dark sunglasses. Unseen eyes were intimidating too and when he took them off to stare at a victim, he could use his eyes to look like a madman

He closed them now and shook his head in disgust. "You look like shit. Hell, you are shit."

The press had certainly thought that, four years ago. Always ready to tear down a hero, they had shown no restraint in attacking him for his egotistic, selfish decision and obvious desire to break his own school record. One minute he was touted as the next Walter Payton, the next he was a door mat for local media.

Looking at him now, no one would believe that back then he was a thousand-yard rusher in the NCAA and welcomed with open arms in every established club in Southern California. Hell, he had been bigger than the mayor of LA.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently working on my second novel, another crime-thriller, following the career of rookie, female LAPD detective Charlene Taylor.

I would love to write another book. Right now, I have a full time job (teaching), a part-time tutoring job, and three small children (all girls, YIKES!!).

I don`t have much time to write, but when I get a chance, I do all I can. It could take some time, but eventually I would love to write a series of novels featuring Calvin Watters. But I will not limit my novels to Calvin Watters, as I would like to write a variety of novels, all in the crime-thriller genres.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Actually my writing happened by accident. Growing up I never thought much about writing, but I was an avid reader. The only time I ever wrote was when my teachers at school made me. I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period.

It was the winter of 2000, my second year of professional hockey, and I was playing in Oklahoma City. After sustaining a season-ending eye injury (one of the scariest moments of my life), I found myself with time on his hands.

My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, was attending a French college in Montreal. She received an English assignment to write a short story, and asked me for some help.

I loved the experience—creating vivid characters and generating a wire-taut plot. So, I sat down at my roommate’s computer and began typing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it I had completed my first manuscript.

I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing.

Twelve years later, I still write for pleasure—and I still love it! The fact that I am being published is a bonus.

I made the decision to write a book with the intention of publication in 2005. I enjoyed writing so much as a hobby, I decided I wanted to take my interest one step further – write a story with the intention of being published and making it available for friends, family, and readers around the world to enjoy.
I`m not one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft. I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. I continually researched on the Internet, reading up on the industry and process. I made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions, learning what it took to become successful.

Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2006, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write Dead Man’s Hand. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of the novel.

I then worked with editors and joined a critique group, doing anything I could to learn, to improve my writing and my novel to point where I could create the best possible work.

My years of hard work finally paid off. With my dream still in mind and my manuscript ready, I hired the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency to represent Dead Man’s Hand.

I signed a publishing deal with Imajin Books in May, 2012.

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 was a full time writer, but I would have starved long ago.

Since retiring from professional hockey in 2006, I’ve held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning my Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude). I’m a full time elementary teacher and part time tutor.

I write whenever I can find time, either early in the morning before everyone wakes up, or late at night after everyone goes to bed.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Don’t know if it is interesting, but in order for me to write, I have to be sitting at my desk, with a hot mug of tea in front of me, and my most productive time of the day to write is in the morning.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An NHL superstar, period.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

Ask me again in 10-15 years when I have 3 teenage girls (pulling out hair).

Hee hee. Will do!

Oh, and my book is currently $1.99 through Amazon until the end of August.

Review Blurbs:

"You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out."
—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Back Bay and The Lincoln Letter

"Dead Man's Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn't read like one,
but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice."
—Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower

"Part police procedural, part crime fiction, Dead Man's Hand is a fast, gritty ride."
—Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Hush