Saturday, September 2, 2017

Why I like Dark Fiction

Perhaps we all hide shadows in our past. Perhaps dark fiction appeals to us because it sheds light on someone else's shadows, making ours less scary without ever threatening them. Perhaps... But I must admit, I've read some pretty dark stories recently. Maybe it's just the lengthening darkness of evenings drawing in as the year moves to fall. Or perhaps I just enjoy dark fiction because it allows me to "experience" the adrenaline rush of danger without ever having to face the risks involved. After all, when asked as a teen, would I prefer a long boring life or a short exciting one, I chose long and boring because of all the short exciting lives I could enjoy in imagination.

Anyway, here are some book reviews of dark, definitely not boring lives. Find some coffee - probably a dark cup - and see what you think.

Scar Tissue (The Mindsight Series Book 1) by M C Domovitch, starts with a young woman escaping a captor who has been torturing her. Her physical scars begin to improve, but the mental scar is obscure and unrelenting--she can't even remember the face of her torturer. Retreating from her former identity as a gorgeous model, Ciara crosses the country, takes up an entirely unexpected job, and learns some unexpected skills. She who once was made up to be beautiful makes others up to be normal... and danger lurks. It's moderately predictable, curiously fascinating, and a really good read. Enjoy with some dark five-star coffee.

Spice Trade by Erik Mauritzson is a Swedish noir mystery, blending ice with Moroccan fire in a tale of drug and human trafficking. The protagonist's past is kept nicely separate from his job, and his wife is pleasingly supportive--two facts which make this tale intriguingly different from other Scandinavian noirs. The dialog has a sort of pedantic stiltedness that perfectly matches the careful investigation, and it works. Maybe a well-balanced four-star coffee but no... it's a dark tale and it needs its coffee brewed five-star and dark.

Another dark police procedural, this time set in America, is The Eulogist by Jeffrey B Burton. Again the protagonist blends dark and light. Retired from the FBI with a wounded hand, he lives a peaceful life with a peaceful woman and contented dreams, but it doesn't take much beyond an accident of circumstance to draw him back into the dark. Relationships are nicely drawn with just enough background detail, characters are intelligent and nuanced, and mysteries within mysteries abound with ever advancing danger. A cool tale with clever surprises, this is another to enjoy with some dark five-star coffee.

On a more light-hearted (but still dark) note, Baby Take a Bow, a Grace Street Mystery by Jane Tesh, is set in a small town among a fine cast of curious characters, from private eye to listener to ghosts to... well, there's even a rather entrancing fox. And there's murder, hilarious mayhem, plus some serious notes and wise touches of humanity. Try some well-balanced smooth three-star coffee with this smooth well-balanced tale.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why do I love children's books?

I love being asked to review children's books. Sometimes the review I write will have as many words as the book I read, which is surely odd. But I'm writing to inform and guide a choice, perhaps. The author of the book is writing to teach, perhaps, and entertain.They are different functions I guess.

I love reading children's books for the change of pace - a chance to read, enjoy, and sit back with a sense of completion much sooner than I might with an adult novel. I love them too for the art - I enjoy color and shape and the many different styles employed in children's books. And I love them for the sound of the words - a good children's book begs to be read aloud, rolls off the tongue, plays music in the ears. I love them for well-chosen words, for simplicity of message and directness of meaning, and for the clean simple lines of a tale quickly told, with plenty left to the imagination.

I love writing children's books too. I wonder when my next book of animal tails will come out? Tails of Mystery has one sequel with the editor and another still dripping to the page. I love my imaginary cats and dogs.

And I love kids.

Much harder than reading those books though, and than writing the reviews, is actually remembering to post the reviews, but here's my latest collection of children's fiction, recently read, to be enjoyed with recently brewed coffee.

The Flying Frog and the Bank Robbers by David Yair is a light-hearted story of happily inventive children and a rather special frog. The characters have been introduced in an earlier book but they're quickly introduced in this tale which could easily stand alone. Kindness and inventiveness will win the day as bright illustrations complete the story and the text offers a blend of past and present tense for immediacy. Enjoy with some easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Molly the Mole by Bat Oren is a picture book for younger readers, offering a wise lesson in accepting and making friends with strangers. Some of the concepts might be a little adult, inviting questions perhaps (which might be a good thing), and some of the word choices are awkward. But the pictures have a childlike innocence and pleasing level of detail that should draw small listeners in - and maybe even encourage them to write and draw. Enjoy with some crisp mild one-star coffee.

Then there's Misty of Chincoteague by Margeurite Henry, a classic, and a truly delightful read. The illustrations are black and white sketches but, even so, they entice the reader. And the story entices with action, adventure, cool characters, and an intriguing insight into the lives of horses. Enjoy this with some well-balanced, smooth-flavored three-star coffee.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Where does faith fit in?

My third novel has come out. It looks gorgeous. It has a cat on the road on the cover. And yes, there is faith in it, somewhere, because there's faith in me. But no, it's not a Christian novel. The biggest question of faith in Subtraction though isn't about God at all, it's about humanity. Can we be trusted? Will we always do the wrong thing? Will the innocent always suffer?

A math teacher hides his own hurts - the lives subtracted from his path, the families he's lost. Now he teaches a class full of kids subtracted from regular schooling - misfits perhaps more lacking in hope even than he. Then a girl goes missing, subtracted from class and bringing everything back. Can the teacher forgive himself for losing a child? Can he forgive the world for threatening her? And can he save her?

There are some Christian characters in my novel. Faith matters to them and they even talk about it once in a while. But faith doesn't matter to the protagonist. He's not about to be converted. I'm guessing neither is the reader. So why do I put my faith in there?

I think the answer is that faith is a part of me. If my imaginary characters are part of me too, at least some of them must be faithful. Others will have questions - my head is full of arguments. Some will be determined never to believe. But belief is there, in their lives and mine, and I hope it's as natural in the novels as it is in the world around my readers. I'm not writing these novels to strengthen the faith of Christians, nor to give faith to non-Christians. I'm writing them to entertain, to intrigue, to capture and absorb my readers, to pull them into lives that aren't their own, so maybe they'll see the world through different eyes and enjoy the experience. If the experience changes them, that's a huge bonus to any author. But first I just want to intrigue - to make you turn another page.

Subtraction's not about faith; it's about people. Will you read it?

Meanwhile, here are some reviews of other books where faith plays a part. Find some coffee and choose your next read.

A Question of Faith by Nicole Zoltack is a short novel offering an intriguing blend of faith and magic, and inviting readers to ask the question, can these co-exist. Faith and questions of faith fill the story, though the presence of magic renders it intriguingly unconventional. The protagonist certainly doesn't believe in magic, but when magic invades her life, this solid faith offers something half-way in between a lifeline and an anchor drowning her in the bottom of the sea. Can faith and magic coexist? Can faith be true and yet be different from the faith of neighbors and friends? Is faith big enough to embrace "more"? Enjoy this intriguing tale with some dark five-star coffee.

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett is a much more conventional faith-filled novel. Set at the beginning of the era of National Parks, in a time when women knew their place and the rich knew they could make the land serve their needs, and in a world where faith was very much part of life, it tells the story of a young woman who believes the heavens (and Mount Rainier) declare God's glory. But how does the mountain's promise of death and danger fit with her picture of a loving God? Perhaps this faith too needs to expand to embrace more. It's another thought-provoking tale, very Christian, faith-filled but ready to question, and sweetly romantic. Enjoy with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

Faith plays a part in Pat Bertram's Unfinished too - not the part of trying to convert anyone, but the part that respectfally accepts other people have faith; the part that reveals how faith itself has much forming and reforming to do. Telling the story of a bereaved woman, it's heart-breakingly wise and real. But it's also built around questions of guilt and betrayal, and curious revelations from the past. An absorbing novel, this elegant tale should be read with an elegant four-star cup of coffee.

Meanwhile in Contact by Walt Socha, the faith in question is more Buddhist than Christian - a fascinating concept in a story that takes modern-day adventurers to a very real historical world, watching them try to rebuild in a way that will keep them alive and maybe lead us all to a gentler present. I love this series and can't wait for the next one. The historical research is fantastic, the cast of characters is fascinating, the premise... a series to enjoy with lots of elegant four-star cups of coffee.

Embracing the Seasons by Gunilla Norris is a book of Christian reflections on nature - a beautiful gift book of poetry, prose and spiritual exercises, each inspired by events or items in a garden. It's a lovely gift book for anyone seeking to find, hold onto, embrace or be embraced by faith. Enjoy with some well-balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dark days of past, present and future: Did you see the eclipse?

I was going to post some book reviews of tales set in dark days of past, present and future. Life kind of delayed me though, together with my own delightfully dark and beautifully bright and sunny day when the sun disappeared. Did you see the eclipse?

It's long been a dream - on a par with dreaming that I might one day walk on the moon - that I could see a "real" solar eclipse. When I found it would only take an hour's drive (possibly longer with traffic), I tried holding my breath. But could I really impose on my husband to take time off and go with me? It turns out I could - in fact, he suggested it without even knowing my childhood dream. So here I sit at my computer, still wondering, still staring into space; did it really happen? And if dreams come true, can they come true in threes? Can I still walk on the moon?

What surprised me most about the eclipse? The ring was white, not gold.
What intrigued me most? The sky wasn't black.
What absorbed me most? The whole process, watching the movement of celestial bodies, feeling so small, delighting in math made visible.
What disappointed me? I wished it could have lasted longer.
What will I remember? A hole in the sky!
How will I remember? Not with photos - I'd need a better camera, though the video wasn't bad.
What will I do with my eclipse glasses? I know there are lots of really good things to do, but I'm keeping mine as a perfect souvenir.

What about you?

Anyway, here are those book reviews of dark days past, present and future. Pour yourself an appropriately dark coffee and see what you think.

The Fuhrer’s Daughter (episode 1 of 5) by Joshua Graham is first in a set of 5 books set in a parallel world where a teenage girl is about to come of age as daughter to the American Fuhrer. Hitler won in this world, but what does that mean to the girl who has it all? The story's complete in the same sense as a good TV episode, but there's far more to come. For teen readers, it's action-filled, intriguing, and maybe even thought-provoking too. Enjoy with some dark five-star coffee.

Just before the time of Germany's Fuhrer, Spain was at war with itself and disillusioned Americans gave their lives looking for meaning in Depression. Hermanos by William Herrick reads like a cross between For Whom the Bell Tolls and Band of Brothers. These brothers give their lives and loves to a cause that morphs around them, enticing with promise and breaking faith with morality. It's a long thought-provoking book, and a fascinating read for our times where other disillusioned young men are enticed by false promises. You'll need a seriously dark five-star coffee with this one.

Going further into the past, Paula Rose Michelson's Rosa and Miguel from the Love's Legacy series gives an intriguing glimpse into the world Columbus left behind, with Jews forcibly converting to Christianity, and natives of very different beliefs safely hidden from the conflict. It's a short novel, a slow read with lots of internal and external dialog, but a well-researched and fascinating tale. Enjoy with some more dark intense five-star coffee... though I'm not sure where you'll find it.

And going in the opposite direction, Humans and Other Aliens by Alexander Winzer invites readers into a terrifying near-future where aliens/demons have invaded the earth with indiscriminate and horrific killings. But is this crime, punishment, or a kindness intended to teach us who we really are? Blending rather strange science with intriguing philosophy and plenty of gory killing, this is another one to read with some five-star coffee.

Eleven: 1 (Oxygen) by Victoria Vass offers another intriguing look into a dark future. The science is considerably more convincing, with well-balanced mysticism and faith and a truly terrifying vision of the future. Communication is key and dangerous in another tale to enjoy with dark five-star coffee.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Will the TV character be the same as the book? Meet Rayden Valkyrie


Today I'm delighted to welcome author and filmmaker Stephen Zimmer to my blog as part of his Rayden Valkyrie celebration. I read and thoroughly enjoyed Heart of a Lion, first of the Rayden Valkyrie novels, some time ago - click on the link to find my review. But now there's a second book, Thunder Horizon, and a TV PILOT too !!!!!

Knowing about the TV Pilot, and seeing all those screenshots as they've been released, I just had to ask Stephen about...

The Road from Book to Television: How Does it Affect An Author Seeing Real People Portraying One's Characters

It has been a very exciting time for me, seeing the character I most love to write, and have a deep affinity for, coming to the screen.  Rayden Valkyrie has been a very special character to write.  Having personally inspired me during some difficult times, I have a strong drive to see her be a similar beacon of light to others going through various trials and struggles in life. 

The world of novels and short stories is a safer harbor for an author, as the book or short story is the final product.  The author is able to exercise control over all aspects of how a character is portrayed in the story taking place on the page. 

The world of movies and television episodes is different.  A screenplay is just a foundation, and the medium is a collaborative one that will see a number of other individuals involved along the way who will leave their own marks.  Directors, costume designers, and many others add to the mix of what becomes the final product.  When it comes to a character being portrayed on screen, the actor or actress may have the biggest impact of all in how a character is seen and received by audiences.

Letting a character like Rayden go to the screen does involve a bit of risk.  I want to see her portrayed accurately, in terms of both her inner and outer strengths.  I want her to resonate like she does on the page. 

The casting is critical in this regard, and I can definitely understand the frustration many authors have had with productions that are far beyond their control, such as Hollywood-level ones.  Fortunately, I was able to direct the Rayden Valkyrie Saga of a Lionheart: TV Pilot, so I was able to identify an actress, Sol Geirsdottir, who visually was a great match for the book character.

Even so, I do understand that the production of movies and TV shows is an entirely different medium than books.  I value the collaborative aspects of production, and fully expected Sol to have her own thoughts on her performance, and our costume designer Timothy Shackleford to have design ideas, to name a couple. 

That is where I have to separate myself from being an author, and in some ways even being the screenwriter, and let the process take its course without trying to micromanage everything. 

Does that involve risk and having a little faith in the people you have surrounded yourself with in a production? Of course it does.  But at the end of the day I know that individuals are going to shine when they are given room to breath and exercise their own talents. 

In this case it resulted in seeing Rayden come to life many times on set, and now that we are in post-production I see it happening on screen as well.  For me, that has been very exciting and fuels my enthusiasm for telling Rayden Valkyrie stories. 

I suppose I am a bit fortunate in that I can separate the mediums of movies and books internally, and value the processes involved in both.  In my mind, I still see the Rayden I saw when I first started writing her tales, so that has not been affected by the production of the TV Pilot.  Rayden is who she is, and Sol Geirsdottir's challenge resided in portraying that character as best as she could. 

Admittedly, audiences for the TV Pilot might form their image of Rayden from the show, but if they want to understand the character to the fullest, the books and short stories are the conduit into the interior of the character in a way that a movie or TV show can never approach.   

Seeing a real person portraying Rayden Valkyrie has been exciting, and I would love to see Sol's performance resonate with audiences and increase interest in Rayden.  Yet no matter what may happen with the TV Pilot or possible first season, I am just as fired up as ever to continue to reveal Rayden Valkyrie's incredible story!

Thank you Stephen. Certainly the photos I've seen of Sol Geirsdottir in costume resonate with the image I gained of Rayden from your novel. She's a very cool character and one I'd love to read (and maybe now watch) more of. But it's interesting that you see Sol and yourself as both trying to portray a character who has an existence unique to herself. Very cool. Rayden is a very cool character.

StephenZimmerAbout the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

Find him online:

Twitter: @SGZimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7


ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800About Thunder Horizon: A deadly menace stalks the shadows of the lands to the north, stirring the winds of war. Farther south, the power of the Teveren Empire spreads with every passing day, empowered by dark sorcery. Formidable legions bent on conquest are on the march, slavery and subjugation following in their wake.
Within the rising maelstrom, Rayden Valkyrie has returned to the Gessa, to stand with the tribe that once took her into their care as a child. No amount of jewels or coin can sway her, nor can the great power of her adversaries intimidate her.

With a sword blade in her right hand and axe in her left, Rayden confronts foes both supernatural and of flesh and blood. Horrific revelations and tremendous risks loom; some that will see Rayden's survival in the gravest of peril.

Even if Rayden and the Gessa survive the trials plaguing their lands, the thunder of an even darker storm booms across the far horizon.

Thunder Horizon is the second book in the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy. Find it online at:

Kindle Version
Amazon Print Version
Barnes and Noble Link for Thunder Horizon:

HeartofaLionCover_1200X800About Heart of a Lion: Rayden Valkyrie. She walks alone, serving no king, emperor, or master. Forged in the fires of tragedy, she has no place she truly calls home.

A deadly warrior wielding both blade and axe, Rayden is the bane of the wicked and corrupt. To many others, she is the most loyal and dedicated of friends, an ally who is unyielding in the most dangerous of circumstances.

The people of the far southern lands she has just aided claim that she has the heart of a lion. For Rayden, a long journey to the lands of the far northern tribes who adopted her as a child beckons, with an ocean lying in between.

Her path will lead her once more into the center of a maelstrom, one involving a rising empire that is said to be making use of the darkest kinds of sorcery to grow its power. Making new friends and discoveries amid tremendous peril, Rayden makes her way to the north.

Monstrous beasts, supernatural powers, and the bloody specter of war have been a part of her world for a long time and this journey will be no different. Rayden chooses the battles that she will fight, whether she takes up the cause of one individual or an entire people.

Both friends and enemies alike will swiftly learn that the people of the far southern lands spoke truly. Rayden Valkyrie has the heart of a lion.

Heart of a Lion is Book One of the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy. Find it online at:

Kindle Version
Amazon Print Version
Barnes and Noble Link for Heart of a Lion:

About the TV Pilot for Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart: Watch and enjoy!


Find out more: Follow the Tour
8/16 The Temple of the Exploding Head Guest Post
8/16 The Page Turner Guest Post
8/16 BOOKS TO CURL UP WITH Author Interview
8/16 Bookishly me Author Interview
8/16 DarWrites Guest Post
8/16 Sheila's Guests and Reviews Guest Post
8/16 Sapphyria's Books Guest Post
8/16 Deal Sharing Aunt Top Ten's List
8/17 DarWrites Review
8/17 Bookin Around Town Author Interview/Podcast
8/17 Full Moon Bites Character Interview
8/18 The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn Top Ten's List
8/18 I Smell Sheep Guest Post
8/19 Paranormal Pleasures Review
8/19 The Page Turner Review
8/19 Bella's Book Reviews Review
8/19 Jeni's Bookshelf Guest Post
8/20 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! Guest Post
8/20 The Seventh Star Blog Guest Post
8/20 Stuart Thaman Books Guest Post
8/21 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape Author Interview
8/21 SpecMusicMuse Author Interview
8/21 Jordan Hirsch Review
8/22 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
8/22 Discover New Authors Author Interview
8/22 Butterfly's Booknerdia Blog Review
8/23 The Occult Detective Review
8/23 Bookishly me Review
8/23 Jeni's Bookshelf Review
8/23 Jorie Loves a Story Interview
8/23 Readers Life With Trisha Ratliff Review

Friday, August 11, 2017


Today I'm delighted to introduce author  Vineet Aggarwal and an Indian Mythological character Vishwamitra, as part of a b00k r3vi3w Tours book blast. 

Vishwamitra by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal
Indian Mythological Fiction


When Satyavati, wife of Rishi Ruchik, exchanges with her mother the magic potion for bearing a child, they change not just their children’s destiny, but also the history of mankind. Born of this mix up is Vishwamitra, the son of a Kshatriya, who strives to become a Brahmarishi—the ultimate and most powerful of all Gurus.

Vishwamitra is the powerful story of a brave but stubborn, haughty yet compassionate, visionary king of Aryavarta who not only acquires material wealth through military conquests but also becomes one of the most well-known sages of all times.

Find it on...


Almost everyone would have heard the name of Vishwamitra and some may even know of his dalliance with Menaka, or the role he played in the Ramayan but even those who are familiar with his name, may not know these five things about him:
  1. Vishwamitra was born a Kshatriya prince and he reached the status of Brahmarishi, the highest possible rank for a Brahmin only through his tremendous effort!
  2. He is the discoverer of the Gayatri Mantra that is spoken by millions of Hindus even today all over the globe! 
  3. He is associated with two major Avatars of Lord Vishnu - Parshuram, the 6th incarnation was his grand-nephew while he himself became the Guru of Shri Raam, the 7th incarnation.
  4. Vishwamitra’s daughter Shakuntala gave birth to Bharat, the King who gave India its official name – Bhaarat.
  5. He is credited with the remarkable feat of creating actual star systems purely on the basis of his mystical powers & the stars he created can still be seen in the southern hemisphere as the Crux. 


Dr. Vineet Aggarwal is described by many as a doctor by qualification, manager by profession and artist by temperament. Born in a family of doctors, he successfully completed an initial stint with the family occupation before deciding to venture into pharmaceutical management and currently pursues writing and photography as a passion.

He is the author of popular online blogs ‘Decode Hindu Mythology’ and ‘Fraternity Against Terrorism and Extremism’ and the author of books ‘Vishwamitra – The Man who dared to challenge the Gods’ and ‘The Legend of Parshu-Raam’

Find him on...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What is Subtraction?

Subtraction, third in the mathemafiction series, is here, there, and everywhere good books are sold, or at least it soon will be, because all booksellers will surely want to know what happens to a subtracted life. Subtraction is here anyway--just click on the link.

But what is Subtraction? That's the question teacher Andrew Callaghan asks his middle-grade special needs class, and all is going well until an autistic girl subtracts herself from their company. Then memories surge, terrors drive him to action or inaction, and cats lead the way. Hence the cat on the cover.

What is Subtraction, the novel? It's a road trip story, as Andrew crosses the country in search of the missing child. And it's a human trip through Andrew's history, finding what drives him as he drives the car.

Can I tweet it? I'll try, and I'd love it if you'd copy or retweet my tweets. After all, Subtraction's just been added to my writing universe--I'd love you to add it to your reading universe as well!

What happens when a girl with no future starts to grow up? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

What happens when the man who's lost everything starts over &starts losing again? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

What happens when the art teacher's not quite as young as she looks? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

What happens when a nobody tries  being somebody & disappears from school? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Is there still hope when the world falls apart, falls apart, falls apart...? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Is there still hope when the autistic child disappears? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Is there still hope when everyone looks the wrong way? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Is there still hope when everyone looks the wrong way? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

When family deserts you and children disappear, is there still hope? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

When only the least expected take your side, is there still hope? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Life is serious. Why is he talking to cats? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Life is serious. Why is she following the cats? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Will the missing child be found in time? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Does the past have to repeat itself? #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Is every stranger dangerous?  #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Does "stranger danger" apply to cats?  #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

What if the cat might be haunted?  #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

What if the cat is a guardian angel?  #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Do guardian angel cats have wings?  #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Would you follow a guardian angel cat?  #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Would you follow a man who follows guardian angel cat?  #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Subtract the past. Trust the present. Find the future.  #mustread #amreading #Subtraction

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Where will you be this summer?

This summer I'm unpacking my garage back into my basement, having finally recovered from winter's flood. Sometimes I feel like a multi-armed alien, carrying books and boxes and longing for extra arms and legs. But mostly I just feel lucky that I'm able to move back before the heat upstairs drives me crazy. So... where will you be this summer? And will you meet any aliens?

I'm delighted to welcome author Peter Thompson to my blog today. His new novel, Summer on Earth, is advertised with the very cool tagline - The story of a boy, an alien, and a summer they'll never forget. Can you resist it?

Peter has kindly offered to let us in his secrets of how to beat writers' block. Readers of Summer on Earth will be very glad that he's not blocked.

So, welcome to my blog Peter, and over to you...

How to beat writer’s block
by Peter Thompson

Have you ever had writer’s block? If you are a writer, this is an all too common problem. I had a case of writer’s block that lasted for years. Or, let me rephrase that. I didn’t write for years, and I blamed it on writer’s block. At the time, I wanted to write, but I had a lot going on and it wasn’t a priority. Still, I would regularly sit down at my computer and start to write. But, if I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to write about, I would sit at the keyboard and stare at a blank screen. Then, I would check my email again, play a game of solitaire or three, check my favorite blogs, the sports scores, the latest stock prices and maybe find a recipe for dinner that night. And then after a couple of hours of unproductive time, I’d close my computer and curse my writer’s block.

I don’t do that anymore. I am writing more and better now than ever before. And I have plans in place for projects to start when I’m done with the one I’m working on now. Everyone is different, and what worked for me may not work for you, but here are some things that helped me get my creative muscles working again.

·        Make it a priority – We do what is important to us, even if we don’t want to. There are days where you probably don’t want to go to work, but the paycheck is important. Like it or not, you get up and go each day. If there’s something happening in your life, you might need to push your writing back until you can make it a priority. When I decided it was truly a priority, I made a commitment to put in the time effort.
·        Put in the time – I write at the same time each morning. I have my rituals that I do first to get into the right mind space, but when it is time to start, I put my fingers to the keys and start writing. A lot of times I don’t know what I’m going to write about. I make notes and plan some, but I don’t do a detailed plot ahead of time. But it seems that without fail, if I start writing, something will come. It might not come right away and it might not come in the way I expect it, but if you do the work, the universe will take care of you. Make it a habit and keep writing.  
·        Avoid distractions – For me, the distractions were an excuse. There is always something that you could be doing instead of writing. I let my family now that I wasn’t available during writing time, and I turned off my phone. And maybe the biggest thing, I only used the computer to write. No games, email or anything else. Being focused on the writing made a big difference for me.
·        Don’t wait for an idea to appear – This used to be a big problem for me, and I would wait for inspiration to strike before starting to write. Now, if I don’t have an idea on what I want to write, I will pick some random words, combine them and try to write a story from there. I also keep idea notebooks. These are just random thoughts and ideas that I’ve written down over the years. The idea for my new novel, Summer on Earth, came from a paragraph I wrote in a notebook and promptly forgot about. Years later I was looking through the notebook, saw the idea, and it connected.
·        Take the pressure off – When I write, I try and treat it as play. I am not trying to write perfectly, I am just putting in the time. If I don’t pressure myself, I find it easier to get into a flow.

These are just a few ideas, and there are plenty of other things that can help. But these changes made a difference for me, and helped me to reclaim my creativity.

Thank you Peter. As you might imagine, unpacking boxes is distracting me at present, but ideas pour over me with every rediscovered treasure, so hopefully, when the pressure's off, I'll have plenty to write about.

And now for some more information about the book and the author...

Author: Peter Thompson
Publisher: Persnickety Press
Pages: 293
Genre: Sci-fi / Middle Grade

The night that eleven-year-old Grady Johnson looked out his window and wished upon a shooting star, his life changed forever.

Grady, his Ma, and younger sister Luanne are having a hard summer. Dad has died and the family isn’t the same. Though Ma is trying her best, Grady knows they don’t have enough money to get by.

The shooting star he saw was a space craft plunging to Earth, and landing at the back of their farm. Extraterrestrial engineer Ralwil Turth has one goal, to fix his power drive and go back home. But things don’t go as planned. Stuck in human form, he gets to know Grady and his family as he works on their farm. He starts to learn about what it means to be human, and the exotic charms of this planet like the taste of potatoes, and how amazing bugs are.

Ralwil grows to care for Grady and his family. On a trip to town, he realizes that money is what matters to humans, and is the cause of the family’s trouble. That night, he uses his technology to combine a twenty-dollar bill with an oak twig. Over the next week this grows to a towering tree, every leaf a twenty-dollar bill. This, Ralwil is sure, will solve all the family’s problems.

But the family’s wealth raises suspicion in this small town, and this soon leads to more trouble. With the family’s fate, and Ralwil’s life, on the line, Grady has to find the courage to help his family and save his friend.

Summer on Earth blends humor, adventure and poignancy to create an unforgettable story about finding home.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

      It was hotter than usual that night, and Grady couldn’t get comfortable, even with the fan on high. The June bugs thumped against the window screen, and the crickets chirped so loudly it sounded like they were right there in the room. He could hear the TV on downstairs, so he knew Ma was still awake. Ever since Dad died she’d stayed up late most every night.
Grady just stared out the window and looked at the night sky. Where they lived, out in the country, there wasn’t much light at night and the stars stood out more than they did in the city. Grady tried to find the constellations his Dad had taught him, just letting his mind wander. At some point he started to get sleepy. But before he fell asleep, he saw a shooting star. And when he saw it, he made a wish.
      This is the story of how that wish came true. 

Peter Thompson grew up in Illinois, and lives near Chicago. He remembers how excited he was when the first astronaut stepped on to the moon. He has had an appreciation of space, and all its possibilities ever since. His love of children’s books developed while reading to his three sons. His first novel, Living Proof, was a thriller published by Berkeley Books. Summer on Earth is his first book for younger readers. It will be released in August of this year.



Dorothy Thompson
Winner of P&E Readers Poll 2016 for Best Publicity Firm

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

supernatural pets and sitters?

Today I'm delighted to introduce a supernatural pet sitting author, Diane Moat, who is touring the internet with Pump up Your Book.

Author: Diane Moat
Publisher: Createspace
Pages: 155
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Pepper Neely is no stranger to dangerous situations. In The Supernatural Pet Sitter: The Magic Thief, the young gnome defeated an evil witch who was stealing magic from the Familiars that Pepper took care of. She wouldn’t have survived without the intervention of a pack of werewolves, who endured painful, fiery spells to save Pepper’s life.
Now Pepper is determined to repay the werewolves for their sacrifice, no matter what it takes. She decides to break the centuries-old curse that keeps them in wolf form. At first she keeps her plans a secret, but it’s not long before Pepper realizes she will need all the help she can get to end this curse. Magic is everywhere as enemy witches cast dangerous spells to stop Pepper.

Pepper and her family must trust the local witches and work together with them to fend off the deadly spells, find the curse, and break it—before the hostile witches get the best of them.



Scattered around the room were seven women, including Momma Fran and Maggie. An older version of Maggie nodded to them. “Welcome, Neelys. As you know, I am Naomi, of the Samson coven. We have gathered in response to your request to meet. So without further delay, I invite you to speak.”
            Here I go. Pepper wished she hadn’t eaten that sandwich a few minutes ago, as there was a fifty-percent chance she was about to throw it up, right here. She felt as if she had argued her case a thousand times. Hopefully this would be the last. She tried to think of the wolves as she took a deep breath around the lump in her throat.
            Pepper stepped forward and began, “Thank you, Naomi of the Samson coven. I am Pepper Neely of the Neely gnomes. As you know, several months ago, a witch named Kale was caught stealing magic from Familiars. She was caught, in part, thanks to me and my brother, Jax. When she escaped, she came after me, Jax, and my friend, Luna, who is also a witch.” Keep reminding them Luna was saved also.
            “Luna was nearly killed by Kale. But instead, three wolves attacked Kale, saving all three of us. The wolves took great risks in doing this, and they were set on fire several times, giving us time to get away. I know without a doubt that the wolves saved Luna, myself, and my brother. I have taken on a blood-debt to pay them back. As part—” Pepper didn’t get to finish before the witches started talking.
            “What does that have to do with us?”
            “The werewolves are our enemies; nothing will change that.”
            “Do you even know what that means? How can your parents—”
            “EXCUSE ME!” A male voice from behind Pepper cut through the chaos. It took Pepper a moment to realize it wasn’t her dad or brother. Everyone quieted instantly, looking behind the Neelys. The male voice continued, as a man stepped out into view. “I believe Ms. Neely wasn’t finished.”
            Mr. O’Brien! The warlock had vanished after Kale had stolen the magic from from his Familiar, King Arthur. Pepper had thought he needed time to heal from his broken heart. He looked better than the last time she had seen him. He was still thin, but his face didn’t seem as drawn or haunted.
Mr. O’Brien continued. “I apologize for being late, but I believe my invitation was lost in the mail.”

Author: Diane Moat
Publisher: The Supernatural Pet Sitter
Pages: 140
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy

Every animal can talk to you. You just have to know how to listen. Pepper Neely is better at this than most, especially because she is in charge of pet sitting all the familiars in her neighborhood. A familiar is a pet magically linked to a witch or warlock. As a gnome, Pepper is no stranger to spells and sorcery. She also knows that, despite their special name, familiars aren't all that different from regular animals. They get anxious when separated from their people, so Pepper uses her special gnome powers to calm them down. She watches Cranky the high-strung ferret, Frank the laid-back parrot, King Arthur the elderly tortoise, and many others. Then, something terrible begins happening to the familiars. Someone is stealing their magic! It not only prevents Pepper from communicating with them but breaks their magical connection with their people. When King Arthur's magic is stolen, his owner's powers stop working too. Pepper can sense that the tortoise is very scared. In order to protect the animal's magic, Pepper decides to track down the culprit. With the help of her best friend, Luna, and her brother, Jax, Pepper fights to protect all of the special pets.



Diane is a Tennessee transplant, animal rescuer, and nurse. The Supernatural Pet Sitter is her debut children's novel. Diane is assisted by her many rescue dogs.




Dorothy Thompson
Winner of P&E Readers Poll 2016 for Best Publicity Firm

Sunday, July 23, 2017

What's the different between comics and novels?

Blog Tour Author: Dan Jolley
Featured Book Release:
Gray Widow's Web
July 19-26, 2017

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Dan Jolley to my blog. Author and creator of Gray Widow, writer of video games, comic books and novels, he's touring the internet with Gray Widow's web and he's stopped here on my blog to tell us about how all those different types of writing fit together. Thank you Dan, and welcome!

Over the years, I’ve met a few novelists who’ve said things like, “Wow, I could never imagine writing a comic book,” or “Man, I can’t believe how hard writing comics is compared with writing novels.” Since I started out writing comics, and only later moved to prose, that struck me a little funny to begin with.

But they were totally right about comics being a difficult medium to master. It’s incredibly rigid: you’ve got a set number of pages, a maximum number of panels on a page (depending on the artist you’re working with), you’ve got to manage your word count so that you don’t obscure the art and make it impossible to tell what’s going on, and because of the page-turn, you need to be really careful that your big, impactful, surprising moments happen at the tops of even-numbered pages. You’ve got to understand, as Scott McCloud put it in his brilliant book Understanding Comics, that most of the story takes place between the panels, in that space where your imagination fills in what isn’t actually seen.

I first learned to write professionally by writing comics. I got my start at age 19, when I was still in college, and soon I met my comics-writing mentor/guru, Dark Horse Comics editor Dan Thorsland. Dan gave me a crash-course in what worked and what didn’t, and I still use the wisdom he imparted to me every time I sit down to write a script. And because the medium of comics is so rigid and unforgiving, I incorporated that into my whole approach: being creative within a concretely-defined set of parameters.

That mindset came in handy when I got the chance to write some books in Lerner Publishing’s Twisted Journeys series, a hybrid prose/graphic novel format that presented a new take on Choose Your Own Adventure. One story with 27 different endings? A narrative structure that revolved around a massive, complicated flow-chart? Sure, okay. I ended up doing nine of those. Later, when I got into video games, I discovered it was every bit as regimented as comics, but in different ways—writing for a game requires things like coming up with 25 different ways to say, “I’m out of bullets,” usually limited to no more than about eight syllables. Or generating a cinematic scene that has to convey a pre-determined amount of information, and be dramatic and compelling, and last no more than 90 seconds. I adapted to all of that, too, and it was almost entirely because of how I got started.

Learning to write by scripting comics is kind of like learning to drive in a two-ton flatbed truck with a three-speed manual transmission. It’s not easy. It takes just the right approach to get that big, unwieldy beast to do what you want. Once you learn, of course, it becomes second nature…

…but then you finally get the chance to drive something else. Say, a Ford F-150 automatic. Suddenly you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh my God. It’s so much less complicated! I can just get in and go!”

That was kind of what it felt like to me when I first started writing prose. I can make the chapters as long as I want to? The page count is only a suggestion, and if I come in seven or eight thousand words above or below it, it’s okay? It was liberating. Revelatory.

But there were still parameters in place. I was mainly doing Young Adult prose (my Alex Unlimited trilogy), or prose that couldn’t be objectionable in any way to a mainstream audience (novelizations of movies like Iron Man and Transformers 2). I never really got the chance to cut loose.

Until Gray Widow.

For the first time in my career, the Gray Widow Trilogy is allowing me to cast off every limitation and go for broke. No ideas off-limits. No restrictions based on age range or vocabulary level. No censorship on violence or sexuality or horror.

The Gray Widow story centers on Janey Sinclair, a young woman in modern-day Atlanta who discovers that she and a few other people have for years been unwittingly involved in an extraterrestrial plot that classifies humans as something like raw material. Janey’s life has been scarred by tragedy, and when she mysteriously gains the ability to teleport from one patch of darkness to another, she decides to use that ability to try to overcome the pain and anguish that has threatened to overwhelm her. Digging into Janey’s mind and personality, bringing her to life, watching her take control of her destiny—at the same time exploring every implication of the extraterrestrials’ actions for Janey, the people around her, and the world at large—well.

Now it feels as if I’m driving a Lamborghini.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Wow, you make that Lamborghini sound fun! Thank you Dan, and I'm really looking forward to reading the Gray Widow books.


About the author: Dan Jolley started writing professionally at age nineteen. Beginning in comic books, he soon branched out into original novels, licensed-property novels, children’s books, and video games. His twenty-six-year career includes the YA sci-fi/espionage trilogy Alex Unlimited; the award-winning comic book mini-series Obergeist; the Eisner Award-nominated comic book mini-series JSA: The Liberty Files; and the Transformers video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron. Dan was co-writer of the world-wide-bestselling zombie/parkour game Dying Light, and is the author of the Middle Grade Urban Fantasy novel series Five Elements. Dan lives somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert cats.
Where to find him:
Twitter: @_DanJolley
Grey Widow's Web_Final_1200X800About Gray Widow's Web: JANEY SINCLAIR never knew how or why she gained her ability to teleport. She never wanted it, and for years tried her best to ignore it. But when horrible violence shattered her world, she vowed to use her mysterious talent to protect the citizens of Atlanta, in an effort to prevent anyone else from suffering the kind of agony she had. Wearing a suit of stolen military body armor, Janey became known to the public as the GRAY WIDOW.

But now the extraterrestrial source of her “Augmentation” is about to reveal itself, in an event that will profoundly impact Janey’s life and the lives of those closest to her—

TIM KAPOOR, who barely survived the assault of twisted, bloodthirsty shapeshifter Simon Grove and still struggles to pull himself together, both physically and mentally.

NATHAN PITTMAN, the teenager who got shot trying to imitate Janey’s vigilante tactics, and has since become obsessed with the Gray Widow.

SHA’DAE WILKERSON, Janey’s neighbor and newfound best friend, whose instant chemistry with Janey may have roots that neither of them fully understand.

And Janey’s going to need all the help she can get, because one of the other Augments has her sights set on the Gray Widow. The terrifying abomination known as APHRODITE LUPO is more powerful and lethal than anyone or anything Janey has ever faced. And Aphrodite is determined to recruit Janey to her twisted cause…or take her off the field for good.

Unrelenting ghosts of the past clash with the vicious threats of the future. Janey’s destiny bursts from the shadows into the light in GRAY WIDOW’S WEB, leaving the course of humanity itself forever changed.

Where to find it:

Kindle Version

Print Version

Barnes and Noble Link for Gray Widow's Web:


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