Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Sci-Fi Paranormal Book for Review: The Green Memory of Fear by B.A. Chepaitis

Green Memory of Fear by BA Chepaitis

B.A. Chepaitis will be touring in March and April with her sci-fi paranormal novel The Green Memory of Fear.

On Prison Planetoid Three, Jaguar Addams uses her empathic gifts to make criminals face the fears that drive their heinous acts. Very few escape the telepathic web she weaves around them. . . . until now.

When Jaguar takes on an assignment investigating a psychiatrist on trial for abuse of a little boy, she finds a killer unlike any she’s faced before. Dr. Senci’s psi skills are a match for her own, and unless she consents to do as he wants, he’ll use them to kill everyone she loves. Once she realizes who and what he really is, she leaves the Planetoid to go after him. But Supervisor Alex Dzarny isn’t about to let her go it alone, even if it means losing his own life to save hers.

Read an Excerpt

When Jaguar made her way across the restaurant to where Alex sat, he almost forgot to breathe. She wore her gold silk pantsuit the way some women wear skin, and the color deepened the green of her eyes, caught at the gold in her hair, which caught at the air in his throat. He rose from his chair and gave her the bow she deserved.

She lifted her gaze and he felt the brush of her thoughts against his. Just fishing. Just seeing what was hanging around. Her mouth twitched into a smile.

He walked over to pull her chair out for her, letting his hand rest briefly on her shoulder after she was seated. She didn’t shove him away, so he advanced to a caress.

She opened her menu and said, without raising her head, “If you air kiss me, I’ll kill you.”

“When I kiss you there won’t be any air involved,” he replied as he returned to his chair.

So far, he thought, so good. She would keep it light. Stick to the surface like an Olympic skater. Probably he’d enjoy it immensely. By the time the waiter came by and took their orders for tequila and dinner, he knew he was right. She got the lobster. He’d seen her eat lobster before. Predation and sensuality, both at their best.

“So what do we talk about?” she asked after the first shot of tequila was down, “First date, right? Politics are a no-no. Religion’s touchy.”

“Maybe we should try sports,” Alex suggested.

“No good. You’re a Packer Backer. I favor the Jaguars. You’ll just get pissed off when I talk about winning.”

“Packers have more experience. More staying power. You know that.”

“And once Jaguar’s latch on, they don’t let go. Not until they’re dead.”

“I’m not especially worried about that,” he said.

Arrival of their dinners interrupted further debate and, eschewing the bib, she cracked a claw and pulled white meat from the shards with her fingers. She dipped it in butter and licked the meat, the ends of her fingers, her own lips. Alex felt deep contentment.

“If sports are out, then what do you suggest?” she asked.

“We can start with the courtesies. That outfit looks lovely on you.”

“Thank you,” she said, and ripped a leg off the lobster, sucked meat from the end of it.

He leaned an elbow on the table and rested his chin on his hand. “You like lobster, don’t you?”

She cracked the tail and used her fingers to pull out thick pieces of sweet flesh. “One man said it made him sick to his stomach to watch me eat it.”

“Some men,” Alex suggested, “have weak stomachs. Me – I’m just enjoying the show.”

She continued to pursue her pleasure. Talk turned to food and its preparation, meandered from there to good wine, strolled toward music and always stayed on the safest grounds. Alex didn’t mind, as long as the lobster held out. When it was gone, he sighed, but regained his interest when the waiter brought chocolate mousse, which she savored in small lipfuls sucked from the end of her finger.

“Good?” he asked her.

“Very,” she replied. “But you haven’t eaten much. Not to your liking?”

He shook his head. “I’m distracted.”

“By?”

He gestured toward the mousse. “The show,” he said. Then, to his own dismay, he kept talking. “That, and something at work.”

Jaguar’s finger paused in its journey toward her mouth. “Oh?” she asked.

He knew what he was about to say, knew he shouldn’t say it, and said it anyway. “One of my Teacher’s done something out of character,” he said. “Way out. I want to know why.”

He listened to himself talk with some amazement. He’d made up his mind not to bring up Dr. Senci. Apparently some part of him had vetoed his mind. He sincerely hoped it wasn’t the Adept part. That wouldn’t bode well.

“Who?” she asked.

“My best Teacher. She stays in the field. Never does research.”

“I like her already.”

“I thought you might. But she requested a research assignment today, gathering preliminary data on an accused pedophile. A Dr. Thomas Senci.”

She finished licking her finger and stared at him. He didn’t blame her. If he had a mirror, he’d stare at himself.

“News,” she said, “travels too damn fast. I just punched it in this morning.”

“Jaguar, I’m your supervisor. The request came to my office.”

“Oh. Right.”

“So tell me what it’s all about.”

She smoothed her hair back from her face and looked at him, then past him. They were co-workers again, suddenly and without much elbow-room.

“It’s about a four week gig, Alex. I thought the change would be good for me. Keep me from going stale.”

He tapped a finger against the table. “And what if I say no?”

She gazed down at his hand, pressed hers against it. “Will you?” she asked.

He laid his hand, tense and flat, against the wood of the table. She continued to press down on it. She was so much better at putting up ‘No Trespassing’ signs than she was at reading them.

“I need to know why you want it before I decide,” he said. “And you don’t take research for fun, Jaguar, so try something else.”

“You seem to know a lot about me, for a first date.”

“I’ve had a few years of my own preliminary research. Look, if you want, we can talk about it tomorrow, in my office.”

She sighed and stood up. “Get the bill, and meet me back at my place. I’ll show you.”

*This book contains adult content.

170

Find out more about this book and BA Chepaitis at her blog: A Literary Lunch

**This book is part of a series. If you have not read the previous books, they will be provided. Please make sure you have enough available dates and the time to review more than one book.**

If you would like to review The Green Memory of Fear, please email Jaime McDougall at jmfictionscribe@yahoo.com.au.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interview with James R. Bottino - Author of The Canker Death



James R. Bottino is a self-admitted computer geek and a creative writing teacher rolled into one. He earned a BS in English Education from Illinois State University and taught high school English in a suburb of Chicago for several years. After teaching all day, he studied creative writing in graduate school at Northern Illinois University. All the while, though, in the deep corners of the night, when no one was looking, he led a double life hacking and building computers and networks.

Eventually, unbeknownst to him, word of his activities leaked out, and employment offers started coming in. In the end, he switched his hobby with his profession and became a senior computer / networking administrator for a scientific research laboratory.

Just six months into this position, however, tragedy struck when, at the age of 31, James was diagnosed with cancer. Given ten to one odds of living out the year and knowing that his infant daughter would never remember him if he died, he began the fight of his life, enduring massive doses of chemotherapy that killed the cancer but nearly killed him as well.

After years of struggle, he survived, but only after enduring systemic nerve damage from the treatments that left him permanently photophobic, phonophobic and with frequent difficulty in using his hands. These events focused his efforts and helped him to prevail in his dual goals: being a father to his daughter and completing his first novel, The Canker Death.

James currently lives in a suburb of Chicago, with his wife, daughter, two Australian cattle dogs and far, far too many books and abstruse computers.

James R. Bottino can be contacted at: "nokinis(at)thecankerdeath(dot)com"

http://www.thecankerdeath.com
http://www.twitter.com/greyhame

http://www.facebook.com/jim.bottino



Welcome to The Writer's Life, James. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: Thanks for having me. Well the first thing that comes to mind about me is that, at almost any free moment, I am composing / creating some sort of story or scene or character or plot in my head. I honestly do not remember any time in my life when I was not this way. I find that some of the ideas I think about I end up dropping pretty quickly as being too “out there and not feasible,” but most others I latch onto for one reason or another.

These ideas continue to grow and mature until I have a chance to write things down, once it's all been sorted in my mind. This is how it usually happens, though, there are times when I get an idea that I simply must stop whatever I'm doing so I can write it down. I'll be in the middle of a forty-something mile bike ride and suddenly something occurs to me and I have to pull off the path and frantically scribble my thoughts on a notepad.

Or, sometimes, I'll awaken from a dream and know the answer to some plot point or theme or character or whatever. Then too, I'm immediately up and writing. As for how long I've been writing, I guess it's been since about the age of thirteen or so; that's probably the first time I ever wrote out some scene I'd been kicking around.

I was fifteen when I first showed anyone what I'd written (a girl I liked), and it wasn't until I was eighteen that I ever submitted anything for publication. The work I submitted was a comedic short story titled “Beauty, eh?” which was extraordinarily silly, and was published in a local magazine. After my battle with cancer, though, is when I decided to take writing seriously and to dedicate myself to the long hard hours it takes to write anything, really, but most especially novels.



Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: It's an adventure story about a reclusive, cynical computer geek who finds that one of his own servers has been cracked late one night and gets far more than he bargained for when he decides to track down the perpetrator. What his search uncovers thrusts him, unaware, into a mad shifting between worlds, time and alien minds.

From the start the story was inspired by a real hacker who managed to crack into one of my servers, and from there the story evolved into something that is an unusual cross between a Heinlein/McCaffrey sort of adventure coupled with a flavor of Melville and Dante. As a former creative writing teacher and a current computer/networking professional, my tastes in literature spans this spectrum and more. What The Canker Death became is the novel I always wanted to read but couldn't find.

What kind of research was involved in writing The Canker Death?

A: The research involved might surprise you. Most readers come across parts of the novel that have highly technical details and think I must have spent countless hours researching this stuff to get it right. The funny thing is, all the technical stuff I know off the top of my head, since I've done this sort of work for years.

Perhaps fortunately, so long as they know that the main character, Petor, knows his stuff, no one who reads the book actually needs to “get” all the technical details to fully grok the novel. Most of my real research involved learning about what makes consciousness possible and how the brain works in respect to understanding such things as communication, time, memory and reality.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A: It's been bumpier than a Jamaican highway. Really, I had set out to write a novel that combined the sort of allegory one finds in classic literature with a fast-paced mystery/action/fantasy. It's not the sort of novel that fits cleanly into any category, which makes it challenging to target. Fortunately, I've been getting good reviews from all sorts of people who say they typically only read one genre or another, which is really satisfying as an author – to pull in readers who come to the book looking for one thing and then finish it enjoying something they didn't expect.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: I do. I'm working on something completely different for my next book, but I have every intention of returning to what I started with The Canker Death.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: Well, this is a bit of a mixed bag, really. As far as really sitting down to write for hours, there's no place like my little study, which is crammed full of unusual computers and computer components all sort of jumbled with a crazy number of books, be they technical manuals, reference materials, antiquarian books, sci-fi / fantasy paperbacks, or beautiful tomes of classic literature.

That said, a good deal of the real inspiration comes from outside, literally. I can be sorting out some plot-point, theme, symbol, character or setting without really even knowing I'm thinking about it, then, poof! I've got exactly the right idea for something. So I end up pulling the car or bicycle over, or I stop running on the treadmill because I have to get the idea down on paper. I can write on anything, a note pad, if I have one, scraps of paper, the back of a map, even napkins. Time flies away.

It's only after I've managed to get the whole idea down that I have any idea how long I've been scribbling. So, I guess the real answer is: both in my study and wherever the heck I am when an idea occurs to me.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A: Money's no object, you say? Massive billboards on all the major Interstates where hundreds of thousands of people would see them every day. The advertisements would all be short and somewhat cryptic, with an artist's rendering of a different scene for each billboard. Barring that, I guess I'd try to pay somebody off so I could get a job cleaning one of Oprah's mansions where I'd work diligently until she noticed me and I could hand her a copy.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

A: Especially for a first time novelist, I think it's essential. If you've “made it,” I assume you have some sort of following so you are building up from some number of readers who already know you and want to buy your next book. If you're unknown, you're starting from zero. Consequently, I advertise in every way I can think of. Of course, I use Twitter and Facebook, and advertise on the latter, but I also reach out to others by email and by networking with others online. As far as offline goes, I approach local venues that are interested in books, especially in the cities in which the novel is, at least partially, set.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

A: Well, a lot of people give up because getting published is serious, hard work. Right after I finished writing the first draft of The Canker Death, I read a quote that said, “Congratulations, you have finished writing your first novel! You are now almost half way done.” I laughed when I read it, but never were truer words spoken.

In order to get an agent or a publisher you have to deal with being rejected over and over and over. I got discouraged, sometimes, but I never gave up. Each time I'd get too discouraged, my wife would give me a pep-talk or I'd give the manuscript to someone who I didn't really know very well and ask them to read it. Fortunately, the feedback I received was enough to keep me going.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?


A: Really, I really don't feel like I'm some kind of grand expert who should be doling out advice to others. But I can say what helped me was reading, writing, writing and writing some more. I don't know that practice makes perfect, but it certainly helps.

Ultimately, having spent time teaching others how to write well certainly helped. They say you never really know something until you teach it. There's some truth to that. In the end, though, nothing helps more than persistence.

Thank you for your interview, James. I wish you much success!

A: Thank you very much for having me; it's been a pleasure.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Blogger: Revealing Necessary Secrets by Selwyn Mills

Revealing Necessary Secrets

By Selwyn Mills, author of Confessions of a Color-Blind House Painter

When I reached my eighth decade, I coined the phrase, “Life begins at 80.” Even I don’t literally believe that, but I think it’s a good time to write an autobiography.

However, the writing of a conventional narrative autobiography doesn’t appeal to me, but I can promise you that this collection of stories, poems, essays, musings, and revelations of my personal discoveries will surprise and entertain you as I ramble through the thoughts, events and concerns of my providential life.

The book consists of a variety of topics:
psychology, philosophy, poetry, essays, plays, stories, art work, personal history and something I call Necessary Secrets. They are all part of an interesting mosaic of my life, including some which I pursued with passion, some with a sense of committed service but all with an awareness of the intrinsic humor of this Comedy Divine. In the section on “Necessary Secrets” I am sharing for the first time, things I have considered revealing to only my most trusted friends. All of these are things for which, although they had an impact on my life, I chose to find personal solutions, rather than openly acknowledge. Everyone has secrets...I have lived long enough, listened to the intimate thoughts of hundreds of patients as a psychotherapist, and have my own private acknowledgements about myself which I have chosen to share with only my closest friends, mostly for the same reasons as others. There are many kinds of secrets that people conceal for periods of time, and those that they keep hidden for a lifetime. Some persons are more forth-coming about their inner thoughts and feelings, and some are more reticent, but the reasons for these actions are myriad and the subject for a different article.

I am by nature very trusting and have few things that I don’t share openly with most people. However, I have some long standing disabilities which I have decided to share sparingly with others. To some they may seem trivial and to those same people, would be no problem. They would perhaps, have treated them with less concern than I have.

Why then have I chosen to make them public now? I am not quite sure, actually, but perhaps because I want to take a leap of faith in trusting those who will read this book, hoping it will help them to appreciate and know me better. More about “Necessary Secrets” later in the book.

These articles and stories can be read sequentially, or article by article, as time and interest dictates. Each piece is complete in itself, like every stone in a mosaic, and can be enjoyed separately or as a completed work, being more than the sum of its parts, appreciated as a whole.

Selwyn Mills served an apprenticeship in decorative painting before starting his own business in 1956, which lasted until his retirement in 1992. He worked as a craftsman painter, wrote for the National Paint Journal, served as President of the National Painting Contractor Association in Nassau County, New York, and taught faux painting. While painting professionally, Mills earned his doctorate in psychology and operated a successful private psychotherapy practice.

Dr. Mills practiced psychotherapy in Great Neck N.Y. for twenty-five year, specializing in couples therapy, family reconciliation and Men in Transition groups. His psychotherapy practice overlapped his forty year career as a decorative painting contractor. He painted in the mornings and counseled patients in the afternoon and evenings. His research into the left/right brain phenomenon, and its impact of personality development, led to a unique discovery of why opposites attract. Active in live theater, he wrote and produced a musical comedy called, “Love Torment and Lollipops”. An accomplished photographer, his black and white prints are part of the permanent collection of the Bibliotech Nationale in Paris, France. He currently works at the Sugden Theater in Naples, Florida as director of faux painting. Mills married in 1949 at the age of 19 and has four children and four grandchildren.

His latest book is the autobiography, Confessions of a Color-Blind House Painter.

You can visit his website at www.selwynmills.com.

Talking Books with Fiona Ingram, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s bookThe Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into an award-winning children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author has already completed the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans.

Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read has resulted in her interest in child literacy and in creating ways to get kids more interested in reading, as well as helping parents to instil a love of reading in their children.

Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Fiona’s latest book is the middle grade adventure novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab – Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Stone series.

Visit her website at www.fionaingram.com.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Goodreads | Authors Den| YouTube | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Nook

About The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!

Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has received the following awards:

  • Book Award Nominations & Wins:
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
  • Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
  • Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers’ Favorites Awards
  • Number 2 in the USA Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
  • Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
  • Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
  • Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
  • Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Fiona. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab?

I began my career in the theater as a performer, but found myself drawn into writing because I dealt with newspapers and other media outlets in order to publicize the productions I was working on. One day I found myself working as a journalist and an editor; some time later I wrote my first children’s book.

Q: Can you tell us more about your title and where you chose it?

The title just popped into my head when I began writing what was supposed to be a short story to entertain my two young nephews. We had recently returned from an exciting trip to Egypt and my mind was utterly inspired by what we had seen and experienced.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

I was just keen on writing it to begin with, simply to say I had written a book. Later on, a friend who said, “It’s a great story,” steered me towards actually publishing it.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

My publisher embarked upon a 3-month publicity drive which is standard in the industry. After that, it’s up to the author. I think I have done absolutely everything possible to get my book out there. Living in South Africa with a book published in the USA has some physical drawbacks as far as book readings etc. go, but this is the age of the internet and there are many options open. I blog, write articles, Tweet, have a Facebook Page for the book, and a great author and book website. I also love virtual tours, or blog tours, which have really given my book great exposure as well as many reviews. I have entered and either won or been nominated in many book contests and I have signed a movie option with a British film company to turn the book into a movie. I have completed the second book in my series but I still drive publicity for my first book.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Imagine that you are aged 12, and you go to Egypt, and on your very first day a peddler gives you an old scarab. The next minute your world is transformed because all kinds of amazing things start happening and some of them are downright dangerous! Not possible you might say. Well, in my book, it is completely possible and that’s what sets my book apart and makes it special. There is a wonderful mythology attached to this multi-layered plot, as well as history, geography and action all rolled into one package. The book is set in a real world with amazing mystical elements that fit seamlessly into reality. Literary agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Lit Agency) describes this genre as ‘magical realism’: a story set firmly in our world, only with a twist—magic, danger or something that turns ‘reality’ on its ear—to make things more interesting.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Cousins Justin and Adam Sinclair are admiring the Great Sphinx, with their aunt and their grandmother. Everyone, except Adam, decides to go round to look at the other side of the monument but Adam stays where he is for a bit longer. He leans against the safety railing and then decides to duck under it to see into the chasm where the Sphinx lies. Someone pushes him over the edge, but before he plunges to his death, another hand grabs him and yanks him back to safety. The quest to discover the secret of the sacred scarab has begun, but so have the machinations of the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid, who will stop at nothing to get the scarab.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

The book leads the young heroes into the next adventure in the Chronicles of the Stone series with a quest to different countries, exploring the culture and mythology of each new terrain. I have completed Book Two: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur and am about to embark upon Book Three: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Fiona. Do you have any final words?

Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Interview with Fiona Ingram, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s bookThe Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into an award-winning children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author has already completed the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans.

Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read has resulted in her interest in child literacy and in creating ways to get kids more interested in reading, as well as helping parents to instil a love of reading in their children.

Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Fiona’s latest book is the middle grade adventure novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab – Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Stone series.

Visit her website at www.fionaingram.com.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Goodreads | Authors Den| YouTube | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Nook

About The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!

Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has received the following awards:

  • Book Award Nominations & Wins:
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
  • Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
  • Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers’ Favorites Awards
  • Number 2 in the USA Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
  • Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
  • Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
  • Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
  • Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Fiona. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab?

I began my career in the theater as a performer, but found myself drawn into writing because I dealt with newspapers and other media outlets in order to publicize the productions I was working on. One day I found myself working as a journalist and an editor; some time later I wrote my first children’s book.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

The title just popped into my head when I began writing what was supposed to be a short story to entertain my two young nephews. We had recently returned from an exciting trip to Egypt and my mind was utterly inspired by what we had seen and experienced.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

I was just keen on writing it to begin with, simply to say I had written a book. Later on, a friend who said, “It’s a great story,” steered me towards actually publishing it.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

My publisher embarked upon a 3-month publicity drive which is standard in the industry. After that, it’s up to the author. I think I have done absolutely everything possible to get my book out there. Living in South Africa with a book published in the USA has some physical drawbacks as far as book readings etc. go, but this is the age of the internet and there are many options open. I blog, write articles, Tweet, have a Facebook Page for the book, and a great author and book website. I also love virtual tours, or blog tours, which have really given my book great exposure as well as many reviews. I have entered and either won or been nominated in many book contests and I have signed a movie option with a British film company to turn the book into a movie. I have completed the second book in my series but I still drive publicity for my first book.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Imagine that you are aged 12, and you go to Egypt, and on your very first day a peddler gives you an old scarab. The next minute your world is transformed because all kinds of amazing things start happening and some of them are downright dangerous! Not possible you might say. Well, in my book, it is completely possible and that’s what sets my book apart and makes it special. There is a wonderful mythology attached to this multi-layered plot, as well as history, geography and action all rolled into one package. The book is set in a real world with amazing mystical elements that fit seamlessly into reality. Literary agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Lit Agency) describes this genre as ‘magical realism’: a story set firmly in our world, only with a twist—magic, danger or something that turns ‘reality’ on its ear—to make things more interesting.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Cousins Justin and Adam Sinclair are admiring the Great Sphinx, with their aunt and their grandmother. Everyone, except Adam, decides to go round to look at the other side of the monument but Adam stays where he is for a bit longer. He leans against the safety railing and then decides to duck under it to see into the chasm where the Sphinx lies. Someone pushes him over the edge, but before he plunges to his death, another hand grabs him and yanks him back to safety. The quest to discover the secret of the sacred scarab has begun, but so have the machinations of the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid, who will stop at nothing to get the scarab.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

The book leads the young heroes into the next adventure in the Chronicles of the Stone series with a quest to different countries, exploring the culture and mythology of each new terrain. I have completed Book Two: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur and am about to embark upon Book Three: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Fiona. Do you have any final words?

Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Interview with Deby Eisenberg, author of 'Pictures of the Past'

As the leader of an established Chicago area Book Club, Deby Eisenberg challenged herself to write a novel that her avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss. With a Masters Degree from the University of Chicago, she is a former English teacher and journalist. Inspired by so many wonderful books and formidable authors, and drawing on her love of literary research, art, architecture, Jewish history, and travel in the United States and Europe, she tried to envision a multi-generational love story that would inform as well as entertain, that would broaden the mind and open the heart. Deby and her husband Michael, an obstetrician-gynecologist, live in Riverwoods, Illinois. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.

Her latest book is the historical fiction novel, Pictures of the Past.

You can visit her website at www.debyeisenberg.com.

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About Pictures of the Past

First-time novelist Deby Eisenberg hits the ground running with PICTURES OF THE PAST, an epic family and historical saga, sweeping through Chicago, Paris and Berlin, reliving events from pre-World War II Europe, but beginning in contemporary times. An Impressionist painting, hanging for decades in the Art Institute of Chicago and donated by the charismatic philanthropist Taylor Woodmere, is challenged by an elderly woman as a Nazi theft.

Mary Lignor of Book Pleasures says, “This novel is one of the most intriguing and beautiful books that I have ever read. The ending of this book will touch your heart… The writing is first class.”

Taylor’s story takes the reader to 1937. Sent to Paris on family business, he reluctantly leaves his girlfriend, Emily, a spoiled debutante from Newport, Rhode Island. But once in Europe, he immediately falls in love – first with an Henri Lebasque painting, and then with the enchanting Sarah Berger of Berlin. After Taylor returns home, the Berger family becomes trapped in the Nazi web, and any attempts for the new lovers to be reunited are thwarted.

Interwoven with this narrative is the story of Rachel Gold, a beautiful and bright Chicago girl caught up in the times of the late 1960’s. Pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend Court Woodmere, Taylor’s son, she moves to New York to live with her aunt, a Holocaust survivor. Years later, as the controversy surrounding the provenance of the painting becomes public, Rachel’s grown son is disturbed by his inexplicable familiarity with the work of art. And it is only Taylor Woodmere who can unravel the complicated puzzle of their lives.

As a Book Club leader for the past sixteen years, Eisenberg came to understand the kinds of stories that grabbed her group and she challenged herself to write a novel that her avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss.

The result was PICTURES OF THE PAST.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Deby. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Pictures of the Past.

I do want to thank you so much for your interest in my novel. Because you know the business so well, you are right in identifying the process as a journey. I think as with most authors, early on in school, I had positive reinforcement for my writing, from winning essay contests to being named editor of the newspaper. When I was only 16 years old, I was even working for the local paper. My college degree led me to teaching high school English, and I received my Masters’ Degree from the University of Chicago. But at this point, most of my part-time writing was journalistic, covering board meetings in the community, or writing articles for my charitable organizations. About 16 years ago, I became a book club leader, so that I would still feel personally fulfilled and connected to my original career path, and it has been a wonderful, validating experience. Because of that, I challenged myself to write a novel that my avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss. Although I had never identified myself as a fiction writer, once I found my genre in historical fiction, with its necessary research component, I just couldn’t wait to write each day.

Q: Could you tell us the story behind your cover?

I am so glad to hear that you love it, because I know the importance of having a title that will capture the reader. My working title had been “Seeking Provenance,” because the book has to do with the provenance of a painting, and its implications on the provenance of a man. It happened that I fell in love with that word “provenance.” But I was always cautious that people might, when quickly perusing titles, confuse it with “providence.” I knew the perfect title would come to me, and eventually it did in the last months of revisions – Pictures of the Past is relevant to so many aspects of the book – Oh, as a book club leader I would have so much fun delineating many of them –the Impressionist painting that is the focus of the story, the photograph of Taylor and Sarah at the 1937 Paris Exposition (because the heart of the story is a love story spanning decades), the photos taken on the doomed voyage of the St. Louis, the pictures of the Holocaust, the “picture of the times” inherent in each era in any period piece – picture Rachel in the 1960’s hippie scene. The impact of pictures from the beginning at the Art Institute of Chicago to the end . . . seeing a photo in a newspaper . . . well, I can say no more or it would be revealing.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Again, as a Book Club leader, as a voracious reader myself, I know what draws people to literature. They want to learn about life in contemporary times and in the context of history, but they also want to fall in love with a good story and engaging characters. I tried to envision a novel that would broaden the mind and open the heart. Before I knew my exact plotline, I knew that my novel would need to touch on my favorite things and I hoped they would appeal to an audience like me: art and mansions, Chicago and Paris, Newport, grand hotels, great loves and great challenges, the Holocaust because the stories are so compelling, love and separation and longing . . . I knew some of the venues and concepts I would want to include, but it was not until I developed my characters that they told me how it would all come together.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I must return to my book journey to answer this. I wrote the original draft with all of the plotlines over a four month period, and I began the process of finding an agent, attending writers’ conferences, etc. I had a great deal of New York agent interest, but nothing materialized until Victoria Skurnick of Levine, Greenberg said she wanted to take my book if I enhanced it (my intention, as well) and so I worked with esteemed editor Ann Patty, who just pointed to areas to flush out. In the end, however, Victoria did not want to take more fiction. The truth is that, although I was disappointed, over the couple year period as I worked on it daily, the manuscript developed from a good story into a real novel. At the same time that I was finding the submission process exhausting, the publishing world was changing. We developed Studio House Literary and produced a beautiful book and eBook through Amazon. First, I hired a Chicago publicist and I had some great coverage, with cover pictures on some newspapers. I have speaking engagements in the Midwest and Florida. I am now working with LA Publicist Charlie Barrett. I know from any publishing house today that, unless you start out a star, you are going to have to be your own best advocate. The internet has been an amazing source for publicity with the literary bloggers – and sites like Goodreads are phenomenal for reaching an audience.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

I am delighted that most readers are comparing my novel to Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay, an author with whom I have met and corresponded. Both of our novels are historical fiction that takes place in contemporary times and in the WWII era. Both of them have an element of mystery, deal with loss in horrific times, both unite characters from divergent backgrounds, and both alternate time periods throughout the chapters. But Pictures of the Past is also a family saga spanning decades. There are layers of love stories to follow set against the climate of the various eras. It is a novel that ultimately illustrates how true love endures through years of separation.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

It is 1937 and we see handsome, charismatic, 22 year old Taylor Woodmere, who did not want to leave his Chicago home and his girlfriend, Emily, a spoiled debutante from Newport, Rhode Island, even to come now to the Paris Exposition for family business. But since he has been in Paris only hours, he has already fallen in love –with an Impressionist painting he wants to bring back to Emily. As we see him at this first dinner of the conference, he has just been introduced to the daughter of a business associate, to the enchanting Sarah Berger of Berlin, and now he falls in love again and forever. . .

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely. Working on the novel has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life and I can’t wait to be immersed in my next round of characters. I have already developed the concept and first chapter of my next book, but the demands of Pictures of the Past are time consuming.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Deby. Do you have any final words?

I so appreciate your interest in Pictures of the Past and in me. Those who would like more information can go to my website www.debyeisenberg.com. I love hearing from my readers. So many people took the book on vacations with them over the past holiday season and I loved hearing how they travelled with the characters to Mexico or Hawaii or Florida and how they could not put the book down. That was my original goal for my own book club.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Win romance novel 'Nobody's Angel' by K.T. Wells

Burroughs Publishing Group is a publisher to watch. Granted, it’s e-only but we all know what’s happening in the e-world today, don’t we? They are selling by the cyber-truckloads. One of the first books in their romance line is a book titled Nobody’s Angel by K.T. Wells. Burroughs Publishing Group along with Pump Up Your Book is offering a free giveaway February 13 – March 23 at Literarily Speaking, one of the many stops during K.T.’s nationwide virtual book tour. If you’d like to win a free copy, visit http://literarilyspeaking.net/2012/02/13/interview-with-nobodys-angel-k-t-wells-book-giveaway/ and good luck!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Interview with Michael Charney, author of 'Chasing Glenn Beck'


Michael Charney is an award-winning author and publisher from Bedford, New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife and two dogs. He enjoys a bit of surrealism now and then, and counts among his friends several people who can quote extensive passages from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Red Dwarf. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, he has managed to become a Republican anyway. In previous lives he has worked in high technology start-up companies and as an adjunct professor of English. He continues to write and converse with others on politics, political dialogue, and political marketing at his website and blog, www.chasingglennbeck.com.

His latest book is Chasing Glenn Beck: A Personal Experiment in Reclaiming Our Hijacked Political Conversation.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Michael. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

First of all, thanks for having me on The Writers’ Life. I appreciate the opportunity to share my work with your audience.

I’m a (throat-clearing)-something middle-aged man living in New Hampshire with his wife and two dogs. I grew up in Los Angeles, went to school at UC Berkeley, then came east, to New Jersey, where I lived until 2005, at which time both business and life-style drew me to New England. I love it here.

I began writing in the 4th-grade when my best friend, Stephen Leanze, and I wrote a story entitled “Johnny the Policeman” and presented it to our teacher, Mrs. Pamela Davis, who lovingly read it out to the entire class. I was hooked.

Twenty years later I had some success with short stories and essays, having had one submitted for a Pushcart Prize and another selected for a high school English textbook. Then life and work sidetracked me, though I still managed to write now and then for high technology magazines. One piece ended up in the annual anthology from the World Congress on Intellectual Capital, something I’m very proud of.

Chasing Glenn Beck: A Personal Experiment in Reclaiming Our Hijacked Political Conversation is my first book-length publication (though I have four poorly written novels still boxed up in the basement).

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

The idea, unfortunately, emerged from tragedy.

Shortly after the earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan last spring, Glenn Beck came out and said that if perhaps we had all been just a bit better at following the Ten Commandments, then maybe this particular Act of God might never had happened. That got me thinking: this guy is just an entertainer, yet somehow he—and others like him—had managed to basically hijack all of our political conversation, moving it from a logical, reasoned center to the emotionally driven edges. The result is incredible polarization. I call this condition, by the way, “electile dysfunction.”

Curious to see how these opinions form and how these conversations happen, I went out into the “Twitterverse” (under a persona named @BeckIsALib) and spent three months tweeting with other political junkies. I ended up writing about whatever was going on at the time and whatever people were tweeting about: the GOP campaigns, the death of Osama Bin Laden, even Megan McCain’s weight problem and the issues with the Senate Candy Desk! (Yes, it’s true: the United States Senate has a candy desk….)

Along the way, though, I learned things about myself I didn’t like. I had prejudices. I could be a real jackass sometimes. Put simply, I got sucked in and had to work hard to pull myself back out. In doing so I realized that only if moderate, logical, reasoned conversation comes back into politics will we ever have a chance of creating the nation we really want.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

Time was an issue: I had set up a model that required writing over a thirteen-week period as things were actually happening, and so at any given time I was both writing a new chapter and editing earlier chapters. Beyond that, well…just regular life. When I get immersed in something—truly immersed—I tend to get a bit obsessive. My wife says it makes me cranky and keeps me from relaxing.

I also had an issue with the space on my DVR. Turns out there were more GOP debates than Comcast can store….

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

I do have a virtual press kit; it’s available on request by emailing info@riddlebrookpublishing.com. It contains the traditional information, brochures and backgrounders.

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

I have not yet done signings or appearances, but scheduling for several is underway. I’ll keep people posted through my blog, and my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I don’t have an agent and while I do see the benefits of having one, I also see certain drawbacks. In my case I chose to do the work myself because of timing constraints. We’re in an election year, and I felt it was important to capitalize on the current interest in politics. The process of obtaining an agent and working with a conventional publisher would not have fit into the window I was looking to hit.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

While “blitz” may be too strong a word, there was a fair amount of pre-publicity, most of it on social media. The blog site went up quite early on, and I posted excerpts, blog entries and other background material regularly (and still do). I kept thousands up to date through Twitter and Facebook, and also launched a national press release which was picked up by a number of newspapers and led to a couple of local interviews and newspaper articles. Marketing a book, of course, requires long days and nights over an extended period of time. An initial push is necessary, but it’s the consistency over time that leads to a book’s success.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, in two ways. I’m currently outlining a second book in the same vein, in which I take a close look at the rhetoric and marketing techniques used to manipulate our political views.

As interesting, though, is that I’m looking to publish other writers through my newly formed company, Riddle Brook Publishing. I’m hoping to launch two or three talented New England writers with interesting non-fiction narratives that they would like to share. I’m currently reviewing a number of manuscripts, and am accepting additional submissions at query@riddlebrookpublishing.com

Q: Thank you for your interview, Michael. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

The best place to buy Chasing Glenn Beck is at your local bookstore, particularly if it’s an independent bookstore. They may not have it in stock, but they can certainly order it. The book is also available at all the usual online outlets such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, both as a trade paperback and as an ebook.

Those interested can find me at www.chasingglennbeck.com, and on Twitter (follow @BeckIsALib), Facebook and Google+.

And one final note: if you do read the book, don’t miss the footnotes. It’s where I explain why Rush Limbaugh should have asked for a bigger loan and why Seth Rogen should never have been allowed to play The Green Hornet.

Thanks.