Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Floor 21: Interview with Science Fiction/Dystopian author Jason Luthor

Jason Luthor has spent a long life writing for sports outlets, media companies and universities. His earliest writing years came during his coverage of the San Antonio Spurs as an affiliate with the Spurs Report and its media partner, WOAI Radio. He would later enjoy a moderate relationship with Blizzard Entertainment, writing lore and stories for potential use in future games. At the academic level he has spent several years pursuing a PhD in American History at the University of Houston, with a special emphasis on Native American history.

His inspirations include some of the obvious; The Lord of the Rings and Chronciles of Narnia are some of the most cited fantasy series in history. However, his favorite reads include the Earthsea Cycle, the Chronicles of Prydain, as well as science fiction hits such as Starship Troopers and Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep?

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About the Book:

Title: Floor 21
Author: Jason Luthor
Publisher: Scout Press
Pages: 355
Genre: Sci-fi/Dystopian
The last of humanity is trapped at the top of an isolated apartment tower with no memory of how they got there or why. All travel beneath Floor 21 is forbidden, and nobody can ever recall seeing the ground floor. Beneath Floor 21, a sickness known as the Creep infests that halls of the Tower. A biological mass that grows stronger in reaction to people’s fear and anger, the Creep prey’s on people by causing them to hallucinate until they’re in a state of panicking, before finally growing strong enough to lash out and consume them. Only a small team known as Scavengers are allowed to go beneath Floor 21 to pillage the lower levels in search of food and supplies.

Jackie is a brilliant young girl that lives far above the infection and who rarely has to worry about facing any harm. However, her intense curiosity drives her to investigate the bottom floors and the Creep. To deal with her own anxiety and insecurities, she documents her experiences on a personal recorder as she explores the secrets of the Tower. During the course of her investigation, Jackie will find herself at odds with Tower Authority, which safeguards what remains of humanity, as she attempts to determine what created the Creep, how humanity became trapped at the top of the Tower, and whether anyone knows if escape is even possible.

For More Information

  • Floor 21 is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

FLOOR 21 is inspired by a blend of television and gaming media. The idea of a society of humans living their entire lives on the top floors of a tower was inspired by a scene I saw on television in which a girl was lowered from the top floors of a hospital into the lower floors. I wondered to myself what it would be like if humans had no idea what was below, as if they had lived their entire existence on the top levels. That was where the core concept of the book came from. The notion of a disease called the Creep infesting the lower levels and preventing departure from the tower came from inspirations such as the indie horror game, Lone Survivor, while the overall unusual tone and general sense of mystery was largely inspired by the French surrealist game, OFF.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I had never written in first person and had to read other works to get a good feel for it. The ideas came easily enough. It was communicating them that was difficult. In the end, I feel any writer can benefit from reading in the style they are interested in. Being widely read can help an individual get a grasp on how to write in a similar fashion, although the end product should be a blend of what inspires you in combination with your own personal touch.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I was published under the Kindle Scout imprint following a contract I was offered in 2015. Amazon was sponsoring the Scout contest to find new and interesting novels to publish, and I submitted my work. It received several thousand votes and following editorial review, I was extended the offer for publication.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I’d never written in this style before and wrote the original material, a few pages in length, on a whim. I completed the story because the response was so positive. My surprise is that people responded so strongly to the work. In retrospect, it’s amazing where inspiration can strike, and how it can so heavily impact your readers.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

Book 2 in the series, FLOOR 21: Descent, was just released in April and has had strong sales and positive response. The original FLOOR 21 is brief compared to the sequel. Book 3 is in the works and is most likely on schedule to be released next year.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Facebook occupies too much of my time. I’m also a massive San Antonio Spurs fan, so I frequent blogs like SB Nation and Pounding The Rock to get my daily fix of sports news.

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

Do I ever retire for the night? Sometimes I’m up until seven in the morning, writing whatever inspired me. Sometimes I’m so exhausted from writing that I pass out at eight in the evening. If I have any ritual, it would be to say that it’s the ritual of figuring out whether I want to write or not. Once I start, I don’t stop. So, more than anything, that influences when I will go to bed.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I think more than anything, I’m arguing that intelligence and curiosity are what keep the world alive. When we don’t question the world around us, when we don’t question authority, we become stagnant. Growth and survival are dependent on us always pushing our boundaries and looking to push the edges of our existence. That can be frightening but the payoff is immensely rewarding.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I’d hope you would check out FLOOR 21 and join us for the rest of the fun! The series has been enthusiastically well received and I am committed to making each book better than the last, so I would hope you would pick up a copy and see what all the buzz is about.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Godspeed, Carry My Bullet: Interview with Thriller Author Ian Lewis

Ian Lewis prefers not to be bound by a particular genre. Though the inspiration for his work varies, it often finds roots in something he dreamt. He strives for a gritty realism and maintains an interest in the humanity of his characters. His hope is that readers find themselves haunted by his stories in the sense that the narrative sticks with them long after they've finished reading, leaving them with a subtle restlessness for more. Mr. Lewis is the author of The Camaro Murders, Lady in Flames, and Power in the Hands of One, all novellas. His first full length novel, Godspeed, Carry My Bullet, was released in April of 2016. He has been writing since 2002.

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About the Book:

Bobby Clyne has nothing to lose. Two illegitimate governments have taken the place of the fallen United States: The Directorate in the East and the United States Valiant in the West. And he's just
learned that a man who once terrorized his family as a low-ranking member of the Military Police is set to become the Grand Marshall of the Ohio Region. Armed with his father's Dragunov sniper rifle, Bobby embarks on a mission of revenge with consequences far more reaching than his personal vendetta.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

A: Thank you. I’m excited to be here. I tell everyone that Godspeed, Carry My Bullet started out as an inside joke. It germinated from conversations I had with co-workers in which we imagined ourselves as characters in a dystopian, post financial collapse version of the United States. We asked, “What if the divisiveness of partisan politics is intentional? What if it’s just another method of control used by those in power?” We were in the middle of an election year, and it seemed as though politicians from either camp were really two sides of the same coin. So our fictional premise began with two politicians who display public animosity toward one another despite the fact they are actually in collusion. They sow discord in order to maintain control of their respective governments—one in the East and one in the West. The idea stuck, and I told my coworkers I’d write a book about it just for fun. I didn’t have intentions of publishing it at the time, but here we are.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

A: This book was difficult for several reasons. First, this is the longest story I’ve written to date (~100,000 words). All of my previous releases are novellas (The Camaro Murders, Lady in Flames, and Power in the Hands of One). It required me to have a different sense of pacing and plot development than before. This is also a multi-character story with multiple sub plots and locations, so it was extremely important to create an outline before I started writing. This is something I would recommend to any author attempting to write a novel, even to those of us (myself included) who like a fair amount of organic development in his or her stories. It’s also critical if a timeline is important to your story. Even if your outline only consists of one paragraph per chapter, the exercise gives you the road map of where you want to go and what should happen at each stop. Once you have a skeleton, everything else is just filling in the details.

The other difficulty posed by the story was my desire to keep it factually accurate with regard to location, climate, vegetation, architecture, etc. The problem was that I’d never been to many of the locations in the story, and so I relied heavily on Google Maps, Wikipedia, and similar sites to ground the reader in each environment. This research consumed much of my time before I relented a bit. Since the book is technically an alternate history, albeit a recent history, I didn’t feel overly compelled to get every detail just right, since any number of things could be different in an altered timeline.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

A: My novellas were published with Untreed Reads. However, Godspeed, Carry My Bullet was self-published via, which is a really cool platform if you’re not familiar with it. I can’t say enough good things about it as a publishing tool. This was my first foray into self-publishing, and Pronoun made it so easy. The best part is that it’s free.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

A: The Camaro Murders was my first book. What surprised me most was the fact that I was offered a contract for something that was so unorthodox in its format. I wrote the story primarily for myself; I wanted to produce something that I thought I would like to read. There was very little consideration given to whether it would be marketable. To begin with, it was a novella, so getting it picked up in the print world was already going to be tough. Beyond that, the story is told from four different first-person points of view in a non-chronological order. I wanted the reader to have to dig in and think a little bit. There are intentional gaps in the narrative where the reader can draw his or her own conclusions and fill in the blanks. I rather boldly envisioned fan forums where heated discussion would take place between readers who wanted to put it all together.

The other unique thing about the story is that though it’s somewhat of a murder mystery with supernatural/fantastic elements, the narrative is stone-cold sober. It’s all very low key and down-played. To me, it was an interesting juxtaposition to have these extraordinary events told through inner monologues. It might be my favorite thing I’ve written, quite possibly because I lived with the characters for so long. I could rewrite the book ten times over and probably never do them justice.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

A: I’m currently working on the sequel to Godspeed, Carry My Bullet, which will be the second and final entry in the series. Everyone does trilogies. Why not a duology? If all goes well, it will be released in 2018. I’m also doing some ghost writing here and there for a new Science Fiction series. This slows me down a bit, but it pushes me to be prolific and creative; plus it’s a certain paycheck. I also have a short novel completed that will stand as the next entry in the loose series that features the Driver character from The Camaro Murders and Lady in Flames. I hope to have that out in 2017. There will be two more Driver books after that. At some point I’d like to pay homage to Ian Fleming’s 007 novels with a 1950’s spy thriller. Ultimately I want to do an epic Fantasy type of series. Keeping in mind that I don’t care for Fantasy as a genre (why does everyone have to speak with a British accent?), I’d like to turn the genre on its head a bit. However, that’s a way’s off and I don’t want to tip my hand. I have enough ideas to keep me writing for at least the next ten to fifteen years.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

A: William Reamer, the man who rules the Directorate in the East, is based on me. Or rather, the original idea was that my character was supposed to be in charge of the East. Reamer is otherwise purely fictional.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

A: I’m typically not a fan of books, music, or movies that have a political slant. That being said, Godspeed, Carry My Bullet is an allegory of failed partisan politics. There’s enough of a thrill ride here that many readers will likely miss this. And that’s fine. I don’t think I was too heavy-handed with the message. But if I wanted the reader to walk away with something, it’s that we’d be better off getting rid of the party system and stop bickering about things that quite frankly, government has no business being involved in.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

A: Thank you for the opportunity. I would encourage everyone to check out my books and leave a constructive review on their favorite eBook vendor’s site or on GoodReads. Reading is a consumer past time for many people, and it becomes really easy to slap a star rating on something if one even bothers to do that at all. As someone who wants to hone his craft and continue to improve as a writer, I’m always interested to hear what people have to say.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Review: ‘The Crimson Calling’ by Patrick C. Greene

crimsonThe Crimson Calling by Patrick C. Greene is a suspenseful, fast-paced tale featuring a strong, bad ass heroine, and lots of non-stop action. It puts a new spin on vampire lore by combining the old myths with the modern military.
In a world where just a few hundred vampires secretly remain after the eradication of 1666, Olivia–Liv–Irons is a young woman with unusual military talents who is emotionally tortured by the loss of her child and the man she loved. One day, she is a approached by an ancient alluring vampire with a proposition she can’t refuse.
Now, it rests in her hands to save the good vampires–as well as humankind–from a sect of the evil undead who want nothing more than to rule the world on their own terms. Including turning humans into foodbags. But at the heart of this mission, there lies a secret…
Olivia is a lovable character, strong and independent, yet kind and vulnerable, the perfect combination with her bad ass attitude. There is also an array of interesting secondary characters as well as a villainess readers will love to hate. Intense and entertaining fight scenes between the immortals will satisfy fans of the military/vampire fiction sub-genre. Adding to this mix are the alluring forests and rolling hills of Eastern Europe, as well as erotic descriptions of vampire transformation.
Greene has a gritty writing style that doesn’t shy away from the nastier side of things–and language. His combat descriptions are awesome. At the same time, he does a skillful job in getting into the mind of his young and vulnerable protagonist, showing us her doubts and fears with a caring touch. The ending seems to be open to a sequel so I’m definitely looking forward to read more. Entertaining and recommended!
Find out more on Amazon.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Guest post: "From Playwright to Published Author," by Jonisha Rios

Hi all!  I’m a Puerto Rican Latina from the Bronx, not to be confused with the fabulous Jlo although we do share the same size ass.  Very proud of that, can I get “woot woot”!

Okay okay, I’m not actually from the Bronx originally but I did live there for over ten years before I moved to Cali and my name is Jonisha Rios.

 I’m thrilled to be sharing some words of wisdom on my journey from the stage to becoming a published author.   Some would say I did this process backwards. In other words, many writers first have their material in book form before they proceed to have it staged or even filmed. However, for me there was no other way. You see my goal was to have the experience of living these stories and producing them for the stage first.  And in some cases even directing them, and then once I did that, I believed the book would naturally follow.   I took to the stage worked out my material and then, chiseled it into what became “Curse of the Blue Vagina” A collection of two solo-shows transformed into narratives, followed by an ensemble piece I produced and directed. I never set out to “get published” or even “find an agent”, in fact- they found me after I decided to just do it on my own.

When I began this journey almost ten plus years go, I was traveling back and forth from the east coast to the west coast doing show after show and just working to make each one better.  It was my art, my expression. I did it for me and it was a bonus that people came to watch and many enjoyed my pieces. 

If I were to give any advice it would be “If you build it, they will come.” True, you may have heard this old saying time again- only in my case it was exactly what I did.  I was never one to wait for anyone to “open my doors.” So many people out there are waiting for their “Big Break”. But its bullshit, you can’t wait.  If you really want to act, learn how to write and write yourself something. Or hire me to help you.   

I remember I was shooting a movie in Italy and one of the actresses scoffed at me when she read the beginnings of my works that eventually became the material I used for my book. She said “Oh you do stand up? And solo-shows? You aren’t a talent.” Mind you I was starring in the movie she helped me get a role in. It was so odd.  I will never forget how rude she was. But I didn’t let her get me down, because I was clear.  So rule number: Be Clear about your gift and don’t allow anyone to bring you down, what they think of you and is not your concern, its their problem.  Stay focused. Thank God I felt sorry for her and kept on going. A few years later not only did my shows become successful, but I landed two TV series, sold a screenplay, directed countless commercials and was paid big bucks to help others create their own solo-shows.  And that same girl eventually reached out to me for advice later on.  No hard feelings, glad I inspired her. My point is, I knew where I was headed and didn’t let anything or anyone stop me.

To be clear, I didn’t do it to prove the haters wrong – and that’s a very important message from me to you. Do it because you love it and what you create is your passion. Period. No one can stop you from doing what you are meant to do, because if you are destined to do it. 

They say it’s always important to do that which makes you afraid. And for me that thing was stand up comedy.  In fact before I took the stage as a stand up comedian I actually did solo shows first to be able to conquer that fear. It was difficult to go from elaborate monologues to short set up punches –but I did it.  Was it easy? —Hell to the no! But I did it.  So do what scares you. Create your bucket list.

Now that I’m a mom and a little older wiser, I have really taken to writing.  No need to be on stage anymore.  I conquered that fear and moved on.  Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t necessarily turn down a role on Broadway; however, I am at peace with writing and creating new stories with characters that make me laugh. 

Ok enough with the inspirational pep talk, here are some hardcore rules.  Hire a book formatter ASAP.  For me formatting was an absolute nightmare that took way longer than it needed to.  Mainly because I wrote my book in "Word" which apparently is a pain to format.  The thing is, once I got the book formatted properly, errors jumped out at me that I never noticed after having the book copy edited several times.  I was shocked and annoyed and it was a very expensive process to fix.  So when your manuscript is complete have it checked several times by many different people  for 1) grammar, 2) spelling, 3) spacing, 4) indents—the works- get it proofed for everything again and again before you get into formatting so that when you convert the file you don’t need to fix a thing.  I tell you this because the formatters will make errors – so long as its theirs and not yours those are easy to find and free to fix.

Get professional photos taken, I had nothing because after I had given birth my focus was my son and at almost 200 pounds going from a sassy size 2 to a 10 plus… meat I didn’t want to take photos and frankly I didn’t care – being a mom was a dream just like being an artist was so I was fine with my weight.  The thing is I had no pro shots. So the photo I used in the back of my book, although I love it, it was a photo shoot from when my baby was teeny.  Hey it worked but now I need to do a photo shoot to get some new press photos - be prepared.

Have different readers read your stories.  Meaning don’t just go to readers that are your typical audience branch out, the notes I received from so many different people early on was invaluable because they were all from completely different walks of life and had different perspectives. 

Finally, once your have proofed and had others read your stories and once you feel the project is done-- move on.  Tell people who have more things to say or more notes to give “Thanks but this book is officially done, but I so appreciate your advice and will consider it for my next book.” This is so important, why? Because you are an artist and because as a writer especially a self-pub writer, you can write and re-write to death.  Believe me this book took 8 years to complete.  Yup, you heard that, 8 years! And it’s a collection of stories.  Don’t do that to yourself.  You want to put your best foot forward, and you also want to appreciate the fact that you have more stories in you – new ones that need to be told.  So when its time to let that go- let it go.  I for one will not be reading my own book again.  I did it, I read it I will produce plays from it but I have moved on.

Anyway, that’s all I got.  My son is finally asleep so that means, I get to have a glass of wine and just chill.  Goodnight! Read my book! Thanks for your support.


Jonisha Rios is an accomplished screenwriter, author, director and actress that currently resides in California. She teaches Solo-show workshops to adults and kids. 

Check her book on 

Book Feature: Unloved Again by Elan Golomb

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Inside the Book:

Unloved Again

Title: Unloved Again 
Author: Elan Golomb 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Genre: Psychology 
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Love can be hell. It is not an accident which moves us to love the wrong person or to hate the right one, over and over again.

Most of us remain unaware of how to escape this perpetual cycle of bad relationships.

 • Do you continually fall for the wrong person?
 • Do you find yourself driving the right person away?
 • Do your relationships quickly switch from blissful to tortured?
 • Do you criticize unreasonably or find yourself being criticized disproportionally?

 In Unloved Again, Dr. Elan Golomb identifies the crux of emotional and psychological problems which underlie love's repeated failures. Only in addressing these deep-seated issues can one escape the dance of romantic folly. With this book you will uncover the secret to enjoying a happy and lasting love life.
Meet the Author:
Elan Golomb earned her doctorate in clinical psychology and her certificate in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy from New York University. She has been in private practice in New York since 1972. She is also the author of Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents in Their Struggle for Self.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Feature: Saving Jesus by Ralph William Ausman

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Inside the Book:

Saving Jesus

Title: Saving Jesus 
Author: Ralph William Ausman 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Genre: Alternative History 
Format: Ebook/Paperback

The canvas of history provides a complex pattern of culture, change, and conflict. Colorful individuals were often the driving forces behind the progression of history. Was there a grander purpose behind these developments, beyond the individual people, locations, and events? History often turns on a simple thought or decision by those in a position to have a significant impact on the ultimate course for humankind. What influence did some of the most significant personages in human history unknowingly contribute on the world stage, even beyond their own individual stories and experiences? Was his story truly the driving force of history, the basic thread that ties the global human experience together? Author Ralph William Ausman's novel, Saving Jesus: Resurrecting John the Baptist takes us on a journey through history, from the Holy Land, to China, India, Greece, and ancient Persia. It follows the origins of religious thought as world empires play out across the globe in preparation for the defining moment in world history: the birth of Jesus and the subsequent emergence of Christianity that would define world growth and development for the next two thousand years. Ausman looks at such questions as what would have happened had the wise men followed Jesus and his family or if John the Baptist had become Jesus's first disciple. Saving Jesus: Resurrecting John the Baptist is not intended as a refutation of the Bible. Instead, it invites you to take an interesting-and different-look at the most important events and people of history.

Meet the Author:
Ralph William Ausman earned a degree in computer science from California State University, Northridge. He then lived and worked in Europe and Singapore with his wife and daughter before returning to the United States. Ausman has always had an interest in different religions and their effects on culture and history.

Interview with J.J. Zerr, author of The Junior Officer Bunkroom


Inside the Book:

The Junior Officer Bunkroom
Title: The Junior Officer Bunkroom 
Author: J.J. Zerr 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Pages: 282 
Genre: Military 
Format: Ebook

It is 1970, and Jon Zachery is a young United States Navy pilot who wants nothing more than to gain combat experience during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, his patriotic sacrifice is of no value to the navy or the nation. His squadron has been slated to decommission with most of its pilots destined for dead-end jobs. As the pro-war lieutenant awaits his orders and drowns his sorrows in whiskey, his wife, Teresa, prays and hopes for a better tomorrow. Navy Lieutenant Amos Kane is a natural stick-and-throttle jockey who is known as Cool Hand Duke in the air and a prankster on the ground. As his dreams of being an attack pilot in ’Nam are taken away, he begins dating Charlotte Wilkins, who convinces him to adopt an antiwar philosophy. When orders cause Zachery and Kane’s paths to converge in a bunkroom aboard an aircraft carrier in the Tonkin Gulf, it quickly becomes evident that the two lieutenants have vastly different viewpoints. As tragedy strikes and antagonism escalates, everyone discovers just how quickly life can change. In this military thriller, the paths of two navy pilots come together in a JO bunkroom during the Vietnam War where their perspectives clash, instigating life-changing consequences.

The Junior Officer Bunkroom is available for order at

The Interview:

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

It is 1970. US Navy lieutenants Jon Zachery and Amos Kane are anxious to complete fighter jet training. Their careers diverge drastically. Amos loses his wings and becomes a “pounder,” a ground pounder, a maintenance officer relegated to life on earth. Zachery suffers through tribulations of his own, but both lieutenants wind up living in The Junior Officer Bunkroom aboard USS Solomons, an aircraft carrier in the Tonkin Gulf. Amos is bitter and disillusioned with the navy and with “the establishment.” He finds kinship with a group of anti-war oriented naval officers, and sets out to wage his own war against the navy, it’s immoral war in Vietnam, and against the Yankee Air Pirate pilots he rooms with. Jon finds his own disillusionment with the war he fought so hard to get to. The nation doesn’t seem interested in winning the war, only in trying to figure out how to get out of it, and unable to do that either. The missions Zachery and his squadron-mates fly are boring and seemingly accomplish no worthwhile purpose. Zachery is reminded of the saying: Flying is hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. After months of boredom, the final mission of the deployment is punctuated by a number of stark terror exclamation points, including some apparently caused by sabotage to the airplanes. In the same way it could be said the real Vietnam war was fought in the US, for some of the pilots aboard Solomons, the real war for them was fought not in the skies over Vietnam but within the walls—bulkheads the US Navy calls them—of The Junior Officer Bunkroom. I wrote the story because Vietnam was a traumatic time for the nation. It, in my opinion, had a lot to do with shaping the politics of today.

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

One of the biggest was reading books and articles written by staunch proponents of the anti-war movement. I wanted to try to understand both sides of the issue. I found it difficult to read some of the material, but I persevered and I think achieved my objective. Improving my understanding of the movement.

Do you plan other books? 

The Junior Officer Bunkroom was my fifth book and third in series of Vietnam era stories. There will be two more in the series. Plus I am currently working on two other stand alone books.

When and why did you begin writing? 

I wanted to be a writer since 1967. Then I got busy with things, the US Navy and a job in aerospace. I retired from the aerospace industry in 2007, and in January the following year, I started work on my first book, The Ensign Locker.

What is your greatest strength as an author? 

I work hard to learn the craft. No matter how long I work at it, there will still be things to learn.

Did writing this book teach you anything? 

 I learned the importance of writing something every day. For me, if I keep at it on a daily basis, the writing not only gets me through a project in a timely manner, but the writing is better. And the value you get from an editor correlates directly to the quality of the work you give them to review.

Meet the Author:

J. J. Zerr is a United States Navy and Vietnam veteran who holds bachelor and master’s degrees in engineering. He has published poetry, short stories, and other novels. J. J. and his wife reside in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. Visit the author’s website at

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guest post by Thomas Rottinghaus, author of 'Graywullf'

As a fledgling author just really stretching my wings in the world of publishing I feel very unqualified to ruminate about such matters in a public forum. However, even a novice such as myself can observe and learn and perhaps save someone else from making the same mistakes.

On the subject of promotion, there are two obviously different worlds to consider. If you have decided to publish your own work with a self publishing company, do yourself a favor and determine what your goal is before you commit any sum of money to such an endeavor. Are you publishing just to see your book in print? Or do you seek commercial success as a writer? If your only desire is to say that you are a published author, save yourself the time, money and headaches of trying to promote your own book.  If you do think your book is marketable, then by all means hire a professional publicist, but be prepared to do some work yourself. If you were one of the lucky few to be picked up by a traditional publisher, you obviously don’t even need to be reading this.

If you have published with a self publishing company, be very careful before buying any marketing packages. Unfortunately, some Indie publishers offer the sun and moon if you purchase their packages, but what they deliver is totally different. Yes, they will honor the literal translation of the contract, but don’t expect to see your book in any major markets.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from Indie publishing. But be aware marketing a book is a long and involved process and there are no shortcuts. 


 Title:  Graywullf
Genre: Western / Fantasy
Author: Thomas Rottinghaus
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book:
The Dark Wizard Lynch had lived several ages of men being loyal only to himself. But when he was accidentally rescued from certain death by the Warrior Lorn Graywullf, he found himself in the unfamiliar position of being indebted to another. To repay that debt, Lynch offers to help the Warriors reverse a spell that would wreak havoc on their World. Of course, he neglected to mention that action would serve his own interests as well. In the process, Lynch discovers much to his chagrin that he does still have a soul and a conscience.
He also discovers that the Warriors are fighting a battle they can’t win against a common enemy, a Wizard named Timon Backhelm. Only Lynch knows his complicated history with Timon, and the real reason he has sworn to kill him or be killed trying. But when Lynch realizes the extent of Timon’s power, he knows the only way to win is to initiate the creation of the Dragonspawn, a magical, physical blend of the strengths of a Dragon and an ultimate Warrior. The question is, will the Dragonspawn be loyal to those who created him, or will he simply destroy them all?

Thomas Rottinghaus has been an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, as well as a student of the written Word, since becoming enamored with J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" as a freshman in high school. Drawing from influences as varied as Tolkien, Stephen King, and Isaac Asimov, he wrote his first foray into the publishing world, "Graywullf: Book One of the Dragonspawn Trilogy" Thomas studied literature and journalism at Colorado Mesa University before pursuing other interests. He resides in beautiful Western Colorado with his wife, Lisa, a herd of barn cats and their friend Scout, a shepherd and Labrador mix.

Twitter: Graywullf1

Baseball's Dynasties and the Players Who Built Them Book Blast

We're happy to be hosting Jonathan Weeks' BASEBALL'S DYNASTIES AND THE PLAYERS WHO BUILT THEM Book Blast today!

About the Book:

Title: Baseball’s Dynasties and the Players Who Built Them
Author: Jonathan Weeks
Publisher: Rowan and Littlefield
Pages: 408
Genre: Sports History

Baseball has had its fair share of one-and-out champions, but few clubs have dominated the sport for any great length of time. Given the level of competition and the expansive length of the season, it is a remarkable accomplishment for a team to make multiple World Series appearances in a short timespan. From the Baltimore Orioles of the 1800s who would go to any length to win—including physically accosting opponents—to the 1934 Cardinals known as the “Gashouse Gang” for their rough tactics and determination, and on to George Steinbrenner’s dominant Yankees of the late twentieth century, baseball’s greatest teams somehow found a way to win year after year.

Spanning three centuries of the game, Baseball’s Dynasties and the Players Who Built Them examines twenty-two of baseball’s most iconic teams. Each chapter not only chronicles the club’s era of supremacy, but also provides an in-depth look at the players who helped make their teams great. Nearly two hundred player profiles are included, featuring such well-known stars as Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, and Pete Rose, as well as players who were perhaps overshadowed by their teammates but were nonetheless vital to their team’s reign, such as Pepper Martin, Allie Reynolds, and George Foster.

With a concluding chapter that profiles the clubs that were on the cusp of greatness, Baseball’s Dynasties and the Players Who Built Them is a fascinating survey of what makes some teams dominate year after year while others get only a small taste of glory before falling to the wayside. Written in a lively style with amusing anecdotes and colorful quotes, this comprehensive book will be of interest to all fans and historians of baseball.

For More Information

  • Baseball’s Dynasties and the Players Who Built Them is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Book Excerpt:

With a roster full of superstars, the Orioles captured three straight pennants from 1894–1896. They followed with a pair of near misses, placing second in 1897 and 1898. Along the way, they developed a reputation as one of the nastiest teams in baseball. John Heydler, an umpire who would later ascend to the NL presidency, described the Orioles of the 1890s as “mean, vicious, ready at any time to maim a rival player or an umpire.” Infielder John McGraw was proud of that distinction. “We’d go tearing into a bag with flying spikes as though with murderous intent,” he boasted. “We were a cocky, swashbuckling crew and wanted everybody to know it.”
Pirates great Honus Wagner manufactured a tall tale about a harrowing trip around the bases against the Orioles. After driving a ball deep into the outfield, he claimed to have been tripped at first base by Jack Doyle and then knocked flat by Hughie Jennings at second. Climbing to his feet, he lumbered toward third, only to find John McGraw holding a shotgun on him. “You stop right there!” McGraw allegedly bellowed. Although Wagner’s story is obviously apocryphal, numerous reliable accounts confirm the fact that the Orioles resorted to underhanded tactics regularly. When they weren’t physically accosting opponents, they were treating them to streams of verbal abuse. Baltimore players were so free in their use of profanity that a resolution was adopted in 1898, imposing mandatory expulsions upon anyone using “villainously foul” language.
Even the groundskeepers at Baltimore were deceitful. Soap flakes were mixed with the soil around the pitcher’s mound to make the hands of opposing hurlers slippery when they reached into the dirt.  Orioles moundsmen knew to keep untainted soil in their pockets. The infield was mixed with clay and rarely watered, creating a surface not unlike cement. Baltimore players chopped down on the ball, creating dramatically high hops that gave them a head start to first base (hence, the origin of the term Baltimore chop). The outfield was ruddy and riddled with weeds. Outfielders allegedly kept extra balls hidden out there in the event that the ones in play eluded them.

About the Author

Weeks spent most of his life in the Capital District area of New York. He earned a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to Malone, NY. He continues to gripe about the frigid winter temperatures to the present day. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he writes about the game because he lacked the skill to play it professionally. He still can't hit a curve ball or lay off the high heat. Baseball’s Dynasties is his fourth nonfiction work.
For More Information

A Universe of Possibility by Christine Amsden, author of Kaitlin's Tale


Inside the Book:

Title: Kaitlin's Tale 
Author: Christine Amsden 
Release Date: May 16, 2016 
Publisher: Twilight Times Books 
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Pararnormal Romance

    Kaitlin Mayer is on the run from the father of her baby – a vampire who wants her to join him in deadly eternity. Terrified for her young son, she seeks sanctuary with the Hunters Guild. Yet they have their own plans for her son, and her hopes of safety are soon shattered. When she runs into Matthew Blair, an old nemesis with an agenda of his own, she dares to hope for a new escape. But Matthew is a telepath, and Kaitlin's past is full of dark secrets she never intended to reveal.  

A Universe of Possibility

As a writer of fantasy and paranormal tales, readers often ask: Do you believe in magic? Are there really psychics, clairvoyants, ghosts, or similar otherwordly phenomenons going on around us? I've even been asked if I myself am a psychic or if any of my stories are based on personal experience.

The short answer to all of the above is: No.

I may be a dreamer, but I'm also a pragmatist. I enjoy the escapism of fantasy, but I haven't lost touch with reality. And in the real world I have seen no evidence that would lead me to believe in paranormal phenomena. Call me Scully, if you like.

But like Scully, I'm not close-minded, I'm skeptical and analytical. You think you can read minds? What am I thinking? And none of that, “I'm getting something … it begins with an 'N'… “ Nonsense. You must be thinking of nonsense. :)

I double-majored in computer science and psychology in school. Both of these majors were scientifically based, and psychology helped me to understand people – especially myself. I'm the kind of person who longs for the mystical, but who won't take anything on blind faith.

A few years ago, while doing some research that led into the Cassie Scot series, I read about New Age religions, including Wicca. I found some of their ideas interesting, and in their way no more strange than anything a mainstream Christian believes. Their “spells” reminded me of prayers, and many of the most successful ones made me think of the psychology of self-affirmation. I wrote such a “spell,” meditated upon it for weeks, and in the end I made a positive change to my own life. It wasn't exactly magic, but it left me feeling powerful and in-tune with the universe.

There is a big universe out there. I know and understand little of it; the entire human race knows and understands little of it. One day, I hope, we'll meet a real “alien” and it won't be anything at all like anyone had ever imagined. It can't be written into a science fiction tale because we simply aren't capable of relating to it yet. We may never be.

In this vast universe, anything is possible. But here on Earth, today, I will maintain my healthy skepticism until such time as the possible becomes provable. Meanwhile, I will suspend disbelief for a time whenever I pick up a good book and escape into the wonder of fantasy.

Meet the Author:

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone. At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, which scars the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. In addition to being a writer, she's a freelance editor, mom, and foster mom. Please visit her at

Watch the Trailer


Christine is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins May 16 and ends on August 5.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on August 6.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!