Saturday, September 29, 2007

Doorman's Creek by Lea Schizas--Book Review

Suspense, action, and betrayal in the most evil of forms, Lea Schizas has packed all this and more into her paranormal thriller, Doorman's Creek.

Kyle Anderson and his friends, Shawn and Bradley, set out to explore a cave they stumbled upon by Doorman's Creek. They certainly didn't expect what they found--a human skeleton and Kyle's eerie feeling that they are not alone.

Against his parents' wishes Kyle, Bradley, and Shawn return to the cave to uncover what they think are the remains of one or two girls who disappeared ten years ago. When Kyle is struck with some kind of seizure, Shawn and Bradley pick him up and run for their lives. At the hospital Kyle tells his father, Richard, what happened at the cave and provides information about the visions he saw during his episode of incapacitation. Richard, a detective for the local police force, begins to investigate the unsolved case of the missing girls--which he had worked on ten years ago--and how it might tie into the recent disappearance of another young woman.

After Richard is found lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor, Susan seeks to find a reason for his senseless murder and how much her disturbing dreams have to do with what happened; while Kyle, Shawn, and Bradley, try to figure out what Kyle's visions are telling them about the disapperance of these young women...and if their investigation might have put them in the path of a serial killer.

Doorman's Creek by Lea Schizas captured me from beginning to end. I literally could not walk away from this story, reading it in one sitting. Lea Schizas did a superb job of keeping the action moving along at a quick pace, making the transitions between chapters smooth and seamless. Schizas drew real characters who I connected with and cared about and whose emotions were so real that I felt my heartbeat racing when they were scared. The backstory was just enough and never dulled the present day action. Schizas created the perfect paranormal thriller.

Suspense-filled, action packed, and full of surprises, Doorman's Creek by Lea Schizas will draw you in deeply and not let you go.

Doorman's Creek
Published by: eTreasures Publishing
ISBN: 0-9740537-4-0
U.S. Price: eBook $4.00
U.S. Price: Print $7.99

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Romance Author Caridad Pineiro and The South Beach Chicas

We’re going to end September as hot as it began. Today’s guest is Caridad Pineiro, a multi-published and award-winning author whose seventeenth novel, South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man, was released this month by Simon & Schuster’s Downtown Press.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Caridad. It’s a great thrill to have you with us!

It’s a pleasure being with you and spending some time to chat about my books.

Before we chat about South Beach Chicas, let’s find out more about you. I understand you’ve held a love for writing for a long time. How did it start? What else encouraged your desire to write?

I wrote my first book in the fifth grade as part of a class project. From the moment I put pen to paper, I knew that it was what I was meant to do with the stories I had been creating in my head for as long as I could remember. I kept writing over the many years of college and law school, but didn’t really dedicate myself to getting a book published until after the birth of my daughter. I realized then that there were things I had misplaced and dreams that had been put aside. I wanted to find those lost items and rededicate myself to my dreams so that my daughter would understand what was important to me and also, that she could aspire to fulfill her dreams as well.

Your background is very impressive; graduating magna cum laude from Villanova University, earning a juris doctor from St. John’s University, and becoming the first female partner at an intellectual property firm in midtown Manhattan. How did you get from there to being a multi-published and award-winning author? Does either your education or your past occupation influence your writing?

As I mentioned, after my daughter was born, I realized that I had not accomplished the one dream I’d had as a child – writing a book and seeing it published. Armed with that dream, I created time to write by getting up earlier on the weekends and utilizing the time during my commute to write. It took about six years, but I accomplished my dream. As for whether my background and occupation help, they most certainly do. Since I was a science major, I often find myself relying on things I learned about genetics, anatomy, etc. in my novels. The training for being an attorney involves learning to use logic and building a case from start to finish which is much like creating a rationale story arc. Finally, I am also the technology partner and I often use my knowledge of computers and electronic gadgets in my romantic suspense novels.

Do you have a mentor or a source of inspiration? Are there any favorite authors you strive to emulate?

My mom was my mentor as well as being my best friend. I was always astounded by all that she managed to do and she has always been a role model to me. She instilled in me the belief that I could accomplish whatever I wanted if I was willing to work hard enough to get it. She also instilled in me the desire to always strive to be better and I hope that each book I deliver is better than the last. As for emulating writers, I try to develop my own voice and keep it fresh. However, there are writers who are on my must read list! J.D. Robb, Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong for starters. I’m also dying to read J.R. Ward and have one of her books on my TBR pile that I plan to take with me when I go on vacation.

Let’s move on to South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man. This is a sequel to Sex and the South Beach Chicas. Tell us a bit about the original book and its sequel.

The original book, SEX AND THE SOUTH BEACH CHICAS, is a story about four life-long friends and what happens to their friendship when one of the women elopes. I chose that topic because I think that so many women go through drastic life changes when their friends begin to marry, have children and leave their single friends behind. I wanted to show those changes and I also wanted to show how friendships can not only endure, but grow stronger. I think the success of this first book is due to this universal theme and also, to the fact that so many women could identify with one or more of the women in the book. As for the sequel, SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN, I just loved Sylvia and her very humorous and sexy mom, Virginia. So did the editors and readers and so we decided to write a book about them, their friendship and the men in their lives. I hope people will like seeing a story which shows a fortysomething in the throes of love and in a very positive light. I also hope they will be uplifted by the very special bond between a mother and daughter who are also the best of friends. I feel the relationship between Sylvia and Virginia is much like the one I had with my mom and that in turn, I have with my daughter.

You’ve described these books as “women’s fiction with a modern edge”. Can you elaborate on that statement?

What’s in a name? For publishers and editors, they like to be able to say, this is romantic suspense or a paranormal or chick lit. SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN has been named as chick lit by some, but it doesn’t really contain many of the key elements of a chick lit novel, although it has witty dialogue between the women and men. I think the theme of the book is more about relationships – those between friends, mothers, daughters, fathers and lovers. Because of that, I consider it women’s fiction, but the locale, glamour and some of the verbal exchanges give it the modern edge that you might find in a chick lit novel.

South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man focuses on Sylvia Amenabar. She and her best friends--Adriana, Juli, and Tori--have been having a fun time living it up as single women, but now the girls have four sexy men in their lives and Sylvia isn’t sure she likes the way things are working out. Why is this a hard thing for Sylvia to accept?

It was very hard for Sylvia to accept that Tori got married in the first book and that now, Adriana is also in the throes of a seemingly happy relationship. Sylvia has not had a stable male presence since her dad left her mom when she was very young. That has made Sylvia cynical about men and lasting relationships. Those beliefs will be challenged by Carlos, the detective who saved her life, but may damage her heart. Her notions of lasting love will also be challenged by the reunion of Virginia, her mom, with Pablo, her dad. I loved exploring the changes in Sylvia as she comes to learn more about the men in her life and her own family history.

Tell us a bit about Carlos Ramirez--the hot cop who saved Sylvia’s life. Why is she fighting her attraction to him? Why will readers like Carlos and root for him to win Sylvia’s heart?

Carlos is a hero in every way you can imagine. Besides being an undercover detective and believing in doing the right thing, he is strong enough to accept Sylvia, her success and her dreams, even when they may ruin his reputation. Readers will love him because he is honest with his emotions and true to those he believes in. He believes in Sylvia and that she will do the right thing and because of that, I think readers will be rooting for him as well as for Sylvia.

Sylvia’s mother, Virginia, plays an important role in this book. What can you tell us about her?

Virginia Cooke had met and fallen in love with Pablo Amenabar, Sylvia’s dad, when she was just seventeen. Virginia comes from a small Virginia town (yes, she was named after the state of her birth) and her family was white trash and had a hand-to-mouth existence. Virginia worked hard at the stables in the area to not only help put food on her family’s table, but to stow away some money so that one day she could go to college and change her life. Of course, Pablo arrives at the horse farm where she is working and nothing is ever the same again. I’ve actually posted a deleted scene that’s not in the book at my blog ( for anyone who wants to see the first meeting of Sylvia’s parents. After falling in love and giving birth to Sylvia, circumstances drive Pablo and Virginia apart. In the years since that separation, Virginia has achieved her dream and is now a very successful realtor in the Miami area. She has had her share of men in her life, occasionally as lovers, mostly as friends. No one has ever moved her as Pablo had and this book is about exploring those lingering feelings once again. I loved showing Virginia as a successful and sexy woman who is in control and reaches for what she wants in her life.

Where can readers get their hands on a copy of South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man?

SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN is available at bookstores everywhere and also online. It is available as an e-book at the Simon & Schuster website.

What’s up next for you? Any other great books we should be looking out for?

I’m working on a proposal for another CHICAS book featuring Adriana. People who’ve read the earlier books know that Adriana is finally taking a chance with a man she has known for over twenty years and has been her best friend for most of her life. I think many woman have male friends who they wonder about having as more than friends. Because of that, I think Adriana’s story will resonate with many readers. I’ve also got two anthologies out this year --- MOON FEVER (October) and HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE (December). Next year will feature more books in THE CALLING Vampire series, a novella about an Aztec demon and hopefully, more romantic suspense stories and Chicas!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I want to thank you so much for taking the time to chat. Also, if you want to enter my monthly contests, receive a newsletter or contact me, please visit Thanks again.

Thanks for joining us today, Caridad. It’s been a great pleasure to chat with you about your work. I wish you much continued success.

This Virtual Book Tour has been brought to you by:

Meet Author and Editor Lea Schizas

Today I have the distinct pleasure of introducing a talented author, editor, and friend. Lea Schizas wears so many hats that they must take up every inch of her husband’s closet space and then some. I met Lea through the Muse Online Writers Conference--a free, 100% online writers conference she co-founded with award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson. A multi-published author and award-winning editor, Lea is involved in numerous projects--many of which serve to promote the work and hone the craft of her fellow writers. Our focus today will be on her paranormal thriller Doorman’s Creek (eTreasures Publishing), which is available in eBook and print formats.

I still don’t feel like I’ve done you justice, but welcome to The Book Connection, Lea. It’s wonderful to have you here!

There’s no justice to be made. Being here is an honor. Thank you for the opportunity to have some ‘Lea time’.

Let’s get started by finding out more about you. How long have you been writing? What genres are you most interested in? And how do you pronounce your last name? I would hate to think I’ve been saying it in my head wrong all this time.

Okay, let’s take your questions in order: How long have I been writing? The right question to have asked me is ‘How long have you NOT been writing.’ To be totally honest, way back in elementary school I always aced writing competitions, compositions, and anything else connected to reading and writing. So, I won’t tell you how long that has been because then you’ll figure out I’m going to be fifty soon…oops!

I love writing mysteries, dark fiction, and books for children. All three of these genres may or may not include some sort of paranormal hints in the storylines but they would be aimed for the young adult or older crowd.

How is my last name pronounced? SKEES-US the accent placed on SKEES

You’re a wife and mother to five children. How important is the support of your family to your writing career?

Now, you may find my answer a bit harsh but bear with me. I place no importance whether or not my family support my writing career because this is MY passion running through my blood and they may not realize what it means to me. However, it is important to me for them to realize the importance of me wanting to further my writing career. I place more emphasis on having them understand this passion than having them support me because if they understand then the space I need to write in peace is given, whether they’re happy to be quiet for a spell or not. Hope that made sense.

What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a time of day when you’re more productive than others?

I write EVERY DAY, regardless if it’s only one word, I try to get something down on paper so I feel as though I accomplished something. As for the time of day…any time I get some peace and quiet, which is rare in this household of five kids, friends, phone calls, and a dog needing to go out.

I use a rotational disc method meaning everything I’ve written or writing I place on a separate disc. I take disc one, work on that until my brain is exhausted then I place it at the back of the pile and move on to disc two. This way, I give time for me to rejuvenate my thoughts on any one writing piece by the time I get to it again.

Now we’ll move on to Doorman’s Creek. Can you share with our readers what this novel is about? What was your source of inspiration?

This book is about intuitions and dreams…what happens when two characters begin to experience these two elements and how they join forces to figure them out before a killer strikes again.

My inspiration? An old movie with Faye Dunaway, The Eyes of Laura Mars, where she sees murders happening through the killer’s eyes. In Doorman’s Creek, Kyle Anderson, my teen hero, suddenly acquires this new talent after he discovers a hidden cave…and an unknown entity that pits him smack in a serial killer’s path.

In Chapter One, we meet Kyle Anderson and his parents, Susan and Richard. What can you tell us about them?

Susan and Richard love each other and dote on their only son, but not to the point of spoiling him. They have rules and as a normal teen, Kyle pushes them to the limit.

Susan is a strong-willed and adamant female, always trying to resolve a problem. Richard’s a detective but doesn’t bring his work home.

I have to tell you that you’re making me look real good. I thought no one was a more sarcastic parent than me, but Susan and Richard make me look like June Cleaver. Why did you decide to portray Susan and Richard this way?

No particular reason. I guess that’s the relationship I have with my children, always teasing but strict when it comes to following the house rules. This probably unintentionally went into their background.

Also, I needed to establish a grounding on how much ground Kyle would be able to cover on his own. By having him sneak out in the middle of the night with his friends to visit this cave that has fascinated him, I set the stage of the consequences to come. Without the parents’ rules into play, then Kyle’s sneaking out and venturing on his own wouldn’t have made such an impact.

In this chapter we also meet Kyle’s best friends, Shawn and Bradley. How tight are these guys? Are they going to stick together when the going gets tough?

Ah, well, I can’t really tell you if they’ll stick together or else that will spoil the read. But I can tell you these three guys are really tight.

Shawn is your typical handsome and athletic kid who is all talk, a nice kid who is misunderstood because of his mannerisms. Bradley is a bookworm, the total opposite of Shawn. Then Kyle comes smack in the middle, having characteristics of both of these guys which is why all three get along so great.

This sounds like a fascinating book, Lea. So tell us, where can we get our hands on a copy of Doorman’s Creek?

Doorman’s Creek is published by eTreasures and is available in both ebook and print. The ebook is only 4.00 and the print book is 7.99, very affordable.

To purchase and to read an excerpt, you can link here:

What’s up next for you? I’m sure you have something else up your sleeve.

You’re right on that one, Cheryl. I have several books in the works right now, all with a bit of the paranormal and mystery attached to them. I also have a few children’s fiction and nonfiction books I am almost finished with.

Also, we launched a new project called Musing Our Children, where several writers have banded together to visit schools and make children aware of the benefits of reading and writing. We’ll be hosting a Reading and Writing Appreciation Week on October 15-19,2007 and invite storytellers, writers, and illustrators to join us. For more info, you can link here:

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes, I’d like to take this opportunity and tell the writers who may read this not to give up, no matter what the remarks from family and friends may be, no matter what anyone else who is full of negativity might tell them.

My first year when I started writing I had one writer turn around and tell me, “You sure you want to be a writer? Stick to hairdressing.” His remark only fuelled me to prove him wrong. Unfortunately, there are many writers out there who lack this inner feeling that they have what it takes to be a writer. All I want to tell them is to remember the passion and reason they write. That will fuel them for a long time to come.

Thanks for joining us today, Lea. It’s always great to hear about what you’ve been working on. I wish you much continued success.

Thank you, Cheryl, for the opportunity to talk about my newest release, Doorman’s Creek. Had a great time and can’t wait to be back in the near future.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Harry's Piano by Susan Sukman McCray--Book Review

Little did anyone know when five-year-old Harry asked to take piano lessons, where it would lead. Harry's Piano is the charming tale of the young life of Academy Award-winning composer, Harry Sukman, written by his daughter, Susan Sukman McCray.

From Harry's humble birth in Chicago to his moving to California and conducting his first concert, Harry's Piano will touch the hearts of children everywhere.

Told with the loving hand only a parent's child could provide, Susan McCray shares every milestone that led to Harry Sukman becoming a successful concert pianist, conductor, and composer. Children will follow Harry as his first piano is lifted through the window into his parents' third-story apartment in Chicago. They will read about the hours and hours of practice Harry committed himself to and the music professors who helped Harry hone his talents. And children will share in the excitement of Harry's decision to leave Chicago and move to California, where he meets Mr. Young, who foretells of the future Harry will live.

The illustrations--provided by Karen C. Rhine--are as moving as the story. The book also has a CD with two piano selections composed and played by Harry Sukman.

A timeless story of hard work and determination, Harry's Piano is a gift that will inspire young people to reach for their dreams.

Harry's Piano
ISBN 13: 978-0-9790681-0-2
ISBN 10: 0-9790681-0-X
U.S. Price $18.95
Autographed copy $23.95 (US)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yvonne Perry's Right to Recover Tackles Stem Cell Research

The month of September sure has been a great one here at The Book Connection. Today the spotlight on talented writers continues as the multi-faceted Yvonne Perry joins us to chat about her new book Right to Recover: Winning the Political and Religious Wars Over Stem Cell Research in America. Yvonne is a freelance writer, author, and keynote speaker who enjoys assisting people on a spiritual path. She is also the owner of Write On! Creative Writing Services—a team of freelance writers located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Yvonne. What a great thrill it is to have you with us.

Let’s start off by getting to know more about you. How long have you been a writer? What made you choose this career path? How do your many other roles influence your writing?

Thank you for having me as your guest. It’s a pleasure to share with you. I’ve been a writer all my life, but I’ve been in business as a freelance writer since 2003. I was using my writing skills on the job as an administrative/executive assistant on corporate jobs I have held, and I got a lot of compliments on my writing. I decided to take a chance and see if there were people out there willing to hire me to write for them. My roles as a podcast host and public speaker definitely come in handy in promoting my book. My newsletter and blog serve as informational resources for anyone interested in writing, publishing or book publicity and it also offers me a way to connect with people looking for a writer or editor and to share my journey as an author. All writing contains somewhat of a spiritual slant, since I am unable to separate my body, mind, spirit from one another because they are all interconnected. Mind, body and spirit all work together in business—from manifesting what I want to create—to taking care of my body by knowing when to take a break from work and find balance in life.

Your author’s bio says your “open style is lovingly controversial and challenges people’s belief systems in order to help them grow spiritually.” How do you present controversial topics in a way that doesn’t automatically cause people to become defensive about their beliefs?

Sometimes you have to offend someone’s mindset before they will open up enough to view other options. I try to do that without offending the person or their integrity. Because I have been a religious fanatic in the past, I understand where right-wing ultra-conservative people are coming from, so I use my knowledge of Biblical scripture to approach them on their own terms without condemning them. I present both sides of the stem cell issue. Those who are the least bit open minded will appreciate the logic and educational information presented in my book.

The topic of stem cell research certainly is a controversial one. It is a subject that is sure to come up again in the 2008 presidential election. When did you decide to tackle the subject of stem cell research? Is it something that you’ve been interested in for a long time?

Before I form an opinion on an issue, I like to be sure I know enough to support my position. I decided to learn more about stem cell research when I had two clients mention the topic to me. This was in July 2006 when President Bush vetoed H.R. 810. I couldn’t understand why he was so against science and the potential of blastocystic (embryonic) stem cell research. As I began to dig for information, I realized that there was a lot of misinformation out there. Listening to my inner guidance, I embarked on writing a book using the information and contacts I had gathered during my research. When I found a publisher to represent me, she emphasized the timeliness of the topic as it correlated with the 2008 election campaigns.

Let’s talk about Right to Recover. According to the Table of Contents, there is a great deal of information included in its pages. How did you go about deciding what to put into this book?

Like with any book I write, whether for a client or under my own name, I look for ways to organize the material that I feel needs to go in the book. I knew there was a political and a religious component to the issue of stem cell research so both of those would have to be addressed. Understanding that science in one nation affects progress in all nations, I knew I needed to present both national and international material. I know a lot of people who might benefit from therapies resulting from stem cell research, and I wanted to get their stories and opinions. I’ve believed for a long time that our government has too much control over the freedoms we say we have in the US, so I decided to approach the Church and State issue. From there, it was a matter of deciding in what order to put the information.

How much of the research for Right to Recover was done before you started writing? What types of information did you verify or re-check after you began writing it?

I did a few weeks of research and decided there was enough information out there to write a book, but rather than just repeating what was already on the Internet, I wanted to add a personal component by offering interviews with the scientists who are actually doing the research. As I began writing, one person I interviewed would suggest I speak to another person, and as I interviewed that person they would mention another person in the field. When I connected with Don C. Reed of California’s Proposition 71, he put me in contact with political, medical, and religious experts who offered me a wealth of information. Don Reed is also a former editor, who helped me “hone my voice” and present my message clearly.

One of those persons is Frank Cocazzelli, author of “By the Better Angels of Our Nature,” which is a plan of action to revive centrist liberalism. Mr. Cocozzelli is a private practice New York City attorney afflicted with muscular dystrophy. He is a political advocate for expanded blastocyst stem cell research that could conceivably help him walk again. As a liberal Catholic, Frank speaks on issues of progressive faith.

Shane Smith, Ph.D. Science Director of the Children’s Neurobiological Solutions Foundation (advocate for California’s Proposition 71) took time out of his busy schedule to review my facts and help me edit the entire book.

There are three chapters that caught my eye as I browsed the Table of Contents--Chapter 3. BIBLICAL SUPPORT FOR BLASTOCYSTIC RESEARCH, Chapter 4. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, and Chapter 5. REBUTTAL OF BUSH’S STATEMENT. I would like to talk separately about each.

I read through the Bible verses noted in the Table of Contents. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, Ephesians 3:20, and also Ephesians 2:10 could perhaps be construed as Biblical support for stem cell research, but I struggled to find any connection between stem cell research and the Bible in the other verses mentioned. Can you briefly share with us how those connections were made in Right to Recover? How did religious leaders lead you to Biblical support of stem cell research? Were these leaders from a variety of organized religions?

Reverend Dan Bloodworth attended Rhema Bible College in order to better understand how right wing groups support their beliefs against blastocystic stem cell research His education led him to believe that stem cell research and any subsequent therapy is a gift from God.

Hosea 4:6
"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children."

Dan uses this verse to show that ignorance about a topic causes people to perish when the answer to their problem is right under their noses.

Malachi 3:6
“I, the LORD, do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”

If God cannot change, and we need blood to be born the second time (Dan is referring to salvation through the blood of Jesus), then we can’t be born without blood the first time (natural birth).

John 1:13
"Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." (NIV)

Not of the flesh, not of human desire, nor of the blood but of the Holy Spirit. (KJV)
In other words, neither the flesh act (coitus) nor the desire to get pregnant, and not even the appearance of blood guarantees that life will begin. Life only comes if the Holy Spirit deems it to be. Some time after blood appears, the Holy Spirit enters the womb and purposes whether or not the potential life is to become a live human baby. The blood must be present before this takes place. Remember, God is always the same. He doesn’t do things one way one time and another way the next.

John 6:62-65:
"------The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him." He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

God gives life, not the body. Humans look at the flesh and not at the spirit, which gives life. Cells have life, but no consciousness.

I Corinthians 2:4-5
"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power."

God always shows us an example of his greatness and the way he wants us to go. When a medical discovery is made, a loving God would want us to use it as a tool for healing, not as a subject for debate.

James 1:17
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

Stem cell technology, in the limited way we know it now, is a great gift for, and to, humankind. The future of stem cell technology is great. Imagine being on the donor list and being able to receive a heart without another person having to die in order to donate it. The heart and other organs may be created in a laboratory one day. Where do good gifts come from? How faithful will we be to use our God-given skills, abilities, and gifts to help others?

John 12:24
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

My grandmother and I raised a garden together for many years. When we were planting the seeds each spring, she would always remind me to plant four seeds to each hole we dug: two for the birds, one for the weather, and one for us. Even with our generous planting regime, we nearly always had to replant a second time to fill in the holes where none of the seeds survived.

Going back to nature, let’s compare a plant seed to a fertilized egg. Both a seed and a zygote hold the potential for reproducing life. When a seed is planted into the ground, it begins to draw nourishment from the soil. This can be considered the conception or beginning of life. It is the same with a fertilized egg. It must be implanted in a woman’s womb in order to become an organism. From this, we see that fertilization and conception are not synonymous and do not occur at the same time.
In order to determine whether we are talking about the beginning of cell division or the beginning of a pregnancy, we need to be reminded of the difference between fertilization and conception.

Fertilization of a human egg may occur in the fallopian tube or in-vitro by scientific means. It takes only a few hours after the sperm and ovum unite to start the process of cell division.

Conception occurs when a fertilized egg, which has become a blastocyst, implants itself into the uterine lining and begins to draw nourishment from the mother. This can be confirmed by testing hCG levels.

Thus, we correctly use the term “in-vitro fertilization” but not “in-vitro conception.” Be aware of the indispensable role of a woman in childbirth. Without a mother’s womb, there is no baby.

Chapter 4 discusses the issue of religious tolerance. What does religious tolerance mean to you? Why is it an important topic for this book?

Religious tolerance means that we can accept another person’s belief system or religion even when it differs from our own. Religion has caused many wars throughout history and until we learn to look past what separates us and begin to see what connects us, we will continue to have fighting and physical struggle.

This chapter also talks about the Nicene Creed. As a former Catholic, I am familiar with this creed. What is the role of the Nicene Creed in stem cell research?

The Nicene Creed is used as part of a detailed history of how the Church and religion came to be intertwined.

Chapter 5 of Right to Recover appears to address comments made by our president, George W. Bush. Its topics include the Sixth Commandment—Thou Shalt Not Kill; the issue of being Pro-Life yet Anti-stem cell research; and what is death, to name a few. I’m reminded of something I once heard about The Federalist Papers versus The Anti-Federalist Papers, which was how it is much easier to be in favor of something than against it. Did you ever fear coming out against these statements?

I realize that I have put myself in an uncomfortable position and will have to stand strong on my convictions when promoting my book.

You’ve also included chapters on the public opinion surrounding stem cell research and the importance of Federal Funding. Can you talk briefly about each of these?

There are two issues here because we are looking at two factors: in-vitro blastocyst stem cell research in general and the funding of such by using taxpayer dollars. In the surveys I reviewed, about 65 to 70 percent of Americans support blastocyst stem cell research in general, but only about 50 percent want their tax dollars used for the research. Even President Bush is not against blastocystic stem cell research, he is limiting the date that the cell lines were created to be before August 2001. As you may know, many of the “Bush-approved” lines have been contaminated with mouse feeder cells and cannot be used for research on humans. The technology used for harvesting blastocyst stem cells has improved greatly since 2001. What is so significant about a date? If the U.S. is willing to fund research on a limited number of IV-Bs, then why not fund research on all of them?

Researchers say that the Bush-approved lines are hard to work with, and most stem cell researchers won’t bother trying to grow new lines from them in the lab. The knowledge of how to work with the old lines is obsolete, and researchers who are new to this field do not have the “old” knowledge. Instead, they possess cutting-edge and up-to-date skills in working with newer lines that are easier to work with because they renew more quickly for reproducibility. These new lines would include diversity in race and genetic types.

Both H.R. 810 (2006) and The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (2007) would have released hundreds of new lines of in vitro blastocyst stem cells to be used for research regardless of the date they were created. Scientists don’t need a higher quantity of cells; they need higher quality cells.

The private sector has been funding blastocystic stem cell research under restrictive conditions for years, and, while we have seen tremendous progress, a lack of greater funds definitely limits advancement toward a cure for any ailment. Compare that to the medical technology we now have available with adult stem cells and you will see how much government funding helps in developing new treatments for disease.

Federal funding will allow more scientists around the world, including our nation’s most prominent researchers, to conduct research that will hasten the discovery of therapies, drugs, and treatments for a gamut of illnesses and injuries. Federal funding will ensure collaboration and information sharing among researchers and will lessen the overall costs of doing research. Efforts would no longer need to be duplicated in separate labs that isolate research conducted through federal funds from research conducted through non-federal funding.

Where can readers find a copy of Right to Recover?,;,, many online bookstores, and in all major book retail stores.

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with so many questions. What can I say—I’m a writer with a curious mind. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I hope you will check out my blog at There are essays, articles, links, video trailers, surveys and a lot of information about stem cell research you might be interested in.

Thanks for sharing so much about how Right to Recover came into being and the research and opinions that shaped it. I wish you continued success in all your endeavors.

Thank you. It is a privilege to share with you and your readers.

This Virtual Book Tour has been brought to you by:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Judgment Fire by Marilyn Meredith--Book Review

Mystery, murder, and mayhem--you'll find it all in Marilyn Meredith's latest installment in the Tempe Crabtree mystery series, Judgment Fire.

Deputy Tempe Crabtree continues to watch over the residents of Bear Creek and expand her knowledge of her Yanduchi Indian heritage. The warning of a shaman leaves Tempe with more questions than answers. Used to the dangerous situations her job constantly puts her in, Tempe pushes aside Dorothea's warning. But when a battered wife is murdered, and Tempe begins to receive threatening phone messages as she tries to uncover the killer, Tempe is drawn once again to the shaman and her Yanduchi heritage to try and make sense of the flashes of her past which keep appearing in her mind.

Tempe feverishly works to eliminate suspects, but the list of possible killers continues to grow; the newly uncovered facts and unrest amongst Jackie's neighbors--some who may have wanted her or her husband dead--force Tempe to consider every possible suspect. And as the threatening phone calls increase, Tempe's family is scared for her safety.

And when it's all over, Tempe discovers how much the past can influence the present.

With Judgment Fire, Marilyn Meredith pulled me into the story in such a way that I must own the rest of the books in this fascinating series. I wasn't just reading the story; I was part of it. I drove in Tempe's Blazer as she traveled along the road and spotted Dorothea in her vehicle off to the side; I was inside Dorothea's burning van, gripping the steering wheel; I was part of Tempe's and Dorothea's conversations.

What a powerful talent it takes to make a reader so much a part of what is happening in a work of fiction.

As suspects were added to the list, then eliminated, and then added back to the list, each twist and turn left me eager for more. Meredith added just enough backstory to allow me to get to know Tempe, without adding so much that faithful readers of the Tempe Crabtree mystery series would be flipping through pages to get back to the present day's action.

Gripping, suspense-filled, and character driven, Judgment Fire by Marilyn Meredith should be on every mystery reader's wish list.

Judgment Fire
Published by Mundania Press LLC
Trade Paperback ISBN 978-1-59426-484-9
eBook ISBN 978-1-59426-483-2
U.S. Price $10.00

Young Adult Author Dwayne Anderson Dishes on Partially Human

Today, I have a special treat for you. Author Dwayne Anderson is here to talk about his first novel, Partially Human. We’ll chat about his writing process and how he developed the idea for this intriguing young adult science-fiction novel.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Dwayne. I’m glad you could join us.

My pleasure to be here. However, Partially Human is my third book, though it is my first novel-length book and the first of my stronger works.

Before we talk about Partially Human, let’s find out more about you. How long have you been writing? What is it that inspires you to put pen to paper?

I started writing in September 2001, though that was for writing books. My first creative writing experience was in an early grade in school. We were assigned to write a creative story of our own, but I was given a special assignment because I didn't think I had a creative mind. I was given a story that was already written out, but major details, such as how the protagonist solves his problems, were missing, so I was assigned to fill them out, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Before I wrote books, I wrote fiction for the Rugrats and Futurama.

I get the inspiration from various sources such as daily news events, my own experiences, and my dreams. There are unlimited ways to tell a story. You only need to choose one.

What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a time of day when you are more productive than others?

I don't write every day, it's more of a hobby. I write whenever I have some free time on my hands, usually I spend a lot of time working, playing games, watching television, or anything else.

Partially Human is the story of Joshua Plofhard who suddenly finds out that he carries the genes of a dying alien species and how it changes his life. How did you come up with the idea for this novel?

Partially Human was based on my own experiences with life after I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Like Joshua, my life was thrown in a new direction. People started treating me differently and giving me a hard time. But I eventually got through it all and it made a man out of me, one that I am today.

Tell us more about Joshua. What did he do in his past to make him so well-liked and respected prior to the discovery that he is only partially human?

Joshua is basically your average nice-guy. He's a teenage Good Samaritan who helps those in need, thus he's someone who is greatly respected by many.

What is it about Joshua that readers will relate to? Why will they care about him?

Any who are in the same situation as him will definitely connect with him. Many people who are different want to fit in, but can't understand why they are rejected. Basically, he's a person who tries to find his place in society and how he copes with being different, something that many teens and young adults face in real life.

Who are some of the other important characters in Partially Human? What are their relationships to Joshua?

Rick Warris, Peter Christjes, and Eric Blonfly are Joshua's best friends. His single mother is Alicia and he develops a bond with Patrick Urtoma, similar to that between a father and son. Joshua also develops friendships with several people he meets at a hospital that he commits himself to in order to cope with what makes him different. He also has a girlfriend named Kimberly Derth who was also a friend of his in childhood.

This story also shares with the reader the lessons that Joshua learns as his life goes from good and easy to problematic. What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

I hope to teach the reader that being different is what makes us unique and that we must accept ourselves and others for the way we and they are. I also talked about the controversial issue of prejudice and its many forms and how to fight against them.

Where can readers buy a copy of Partially Human?

I have my own website at where the book is listed, along with my previous two works. I'll update this site as I get more of my works published. The site lists the three major weblinks where the book can be purchsed, from the publisher's online bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. There may be other sites as well, but I'm only going to list the major ones. I've also listed a sample chapter with the book's listing on my website so that potential buyers can get a sneak peak. On the publisher's online bookstore and at Amazon, the book can also be rated and reviewed, I've already got one review at Amazon. The site also lists the link to my blog for Partially Human that focuses on the latest news surrounding the book.

What other projects are you working on right now? Can we expect a sequel to Partially Human?

I have no sequel planned for Partially Human, however my next book, a romance, deals with a similar theme, though it will have nothing to do with Partially Human's story. I'm also planning a sequel to my first two books as they are my weakest works and a sequel to both will improve upon them. I'm also planning a medieval fantasy featuring an unlikely hero, another general fiction story, and another romance.

Thanks for stopping by to chat with us, Dwayne. I wish you much success.

You're welcome.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Harry's Piano by Susan Sukman McCray

Former Little House on the Prairie Casting Director, Talk Show Host, and author Susan Sukman McCray has published a wonderful children's book about her father, Academy-award-winning composer Harry Sukman. For more information about Harry's Piano, go to the Harry's Piano website at And look for my review--coming soon!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Professional Appraiser and Author Scott Zema Chats about Buying the Right Art, Antiques, and Collectibles

Do you have an interest in art, antiques, or collectibles? Then today’s guest is going to be someone you’ll want to hear more about. Scott Zema is a professional appraiser certified by the International Society of Appraisers. Based in the Pacific Northwest, his clients include the University of Washington, museums, local municipalities, corporations, numerous other institutions, and many private investors. Scott is here to talk about his new book Three Steps to Investment Success: Buying the Right Art, Antiques, and Collectibles.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Scott. It’s a pleasure to have you with us.

Thank you very much!

Before we get started on your book, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been a professional appraiser? What made you choose this career?

I have been in practice for twenty one years. I chose the appraisal profession because it afforded me the opportunity to make a good living utilizing my passion for art and antiques and to use little except my brain to bring in the bucks. Consultancy is a good way to make a living.

Does your career influence your own investing and ideas of the market?

Oh, one hundred percent. If I can buy an item that will increase in value 40-100% per year based on my experiences as a professional appraiser, you can bet that I personally will do it! Working not only with art, antiques, and collectibles on a daily basis but with the VALUES associated with these objects makes me a living proponent of the principles I lay out.

What made you decide to write Three Steps to Investment Success?

The realization that no other book in print addressed this topic and the reality of its principles for both myself and my clients demonstrated on a daily professional and personal basis.

You’ve said that this field is not traditionally accepted as a place to invest money. What do you believe is the reason for that? Does your book attempt to dispel that assumption?

As my book explains in some detail, there is a lot of confused thinking and ignorance about the true relationship between value and art, antiques, and collectibles, so much so and on so many different levels that it takes some discussion (all clearly presented in my book) to sort out a clear investment strategy for the buyers of this merchandise. This confusion extends from a lack of cross-over between art experts and investment experts (neither seems to brush elbows particularly with the other) to a confused perception of the basics of quality, to an ignorance of the market mechanics of valuable properties (essential to determining investibility of properties), that it is difficult to know where to begin in a short interview. Also, what the preexisting literature on the subject of investments in these properties seems to suggest is that investment professionals try to make absolute comparison of these properties to other investments in some grand comparative sense, an effort which is interpreted to imply that because investment in art and antiques may come up short against another type of investment in a given circumstance (it may not!), that the whole effort is without meaning. This is not true!

Among many innovative features of my book is the first real attempt to describe in print HOW the markets in art, antiques, and valuable properties actually work, essential for determining the investmwent worthiness of any given product.

What is the target audience for Three Steps to Investment Success? Is it meant for people who already have experience investing in art, antiques, and collectibles? Or can someone with no experience in this type of investing find it useful too?

It's written 'specially for beginners. Please don't assume that this is some kind of elitist book!

The target audience is the generally educated and intelligent reader who has an interest in these properties to begin with, but who has literally no guidance beyond 'Buy what you like!' to insure that his economic sense is consonant with his tastes in these properties. IT IS NOT meant to convert Mr. Average Investor with NO interest in art and antiques to the investment cause, because this type of person doesn't really have the knack for making the best investment choices in these properties. Incidently, this problem in the past has impeded clear understanding of the investment potential of these properties, because the analysis is conducted by investment experts who have no knowledge of or interest in these properties to begin with, a major handicap in presenting any argument for investing in valuable properties.

Both experienced investors and beginners--the book is actually tailored to beginners--can find much of use in the book.

Do you have plans for any other books on the topic of investing in art, antiques, and collectibles?

Perhaps, if the game is worth the candle.

If you could only share one piece of advice with your investors, what would it be?

Know what it is you are buying before you buy it, if you care where your money goes.

Thank you for spending some time with us today, Scott. I wish you continued success.

Thank you!

This Virtual Book Tour is brought to you by:

Erotic Romance Author C.J. Maxx Tours with Coming Back a Virgin

It’s about to get hotter in here. Joining us today is author C.J. Maxx. C.J. has written military citations and efficiency reports, articles for trade journals, and his work has appeared in newsletters for volunteer organizations. But that’s not what we’re going to chat about today. Get your fans ready, because C.J. is going to tell us about his novel Coming Back a Virgin, which from this book’s synopsis is going to be a real hot one. We’ll also discuss his writing process and his feelings on censorship.

Welcome to The Book Connection, C.J. It’s a pleasure to have you with us.

Thank you for inviting me. It's my pleasure.

Let’s get started by finding out more about you. How long were you in the military? How did this career lead into your fiction writing? Do you have a preference--writing fiction or nonfiction?

I was 17 on a Friday and in the Army the following Monday. By Tuesday I knew I made a mistake but it was too late. It was a slow process but I adjusted and spent 21 years in the Army.

I was a writer before I joined the military so what the military gave me was life experiences to write about, especially combat.

I prefer fiction. Writing non-fiction is not unlike writing term papers in college, you know. You have to keep your facts straight and be objective. In fiction, it just needs to be plausible. Fiction's much more fun.

Can you tell us what your writing process is like? Do you write every day? Is there a time of day when you are more productive than others?

When I'm working on a book I'll write Monday to Friday and take the weekends off unless I'm deeply involved with a scene or chapter. I'm a morning person. I normally wake up between 3 and 4 and have from then until my two lovely granddaughters get here about 8:30 to write. Now, that time includes coffee with my wife, watching the weather forecast on television and having breakfast. Once the girls get here, little gets done that doesn't involve them. We homeschool them.

All of your novels are classified as erotic romance. What kind of feedback have you received from readers? Has anyone approached you and asked why you don’t write something a little less controversial?

Most of my readers like the erotic stuff. Some are quite enthusiastic about my writing. A few tell me that I don't need to make the romance scenes so explicit. I do have an action/thriller war novel coming out next April. The few sex scenes in that aren't very explicit.

Let’s talk about Coming Back a Virgin. This novel seems to be a departure from your other books, which involve some type of military or government agency. Why switch gears now? Were you concerned this might alienate some of your readers?

Coming Back a Virgin is unique. This is the book that I taught myself to write romance with. That was the whole purpose of the book. Of course, the initial version was just about romance. No publisher was interested in it until I made it erotic.

You’ve developed an interesting plot for this story. A fictional character named Lorraine is given the mission to teach author Walter Riggins how to write romance in a meaningful and entertaining way instead of his usual pornographic style. Where did this unique idea come from?

My first book was a political thriller that never made it into print because the publisher went out of business. The sex scenes in it weren't very good. My wife and multi-published mentor thought they were gratuitous too. I'm a romantic so I know romance. I just couldn't put it down on paper. I can now.

Walter ends up physically desiring a person that he created on paper. How did you develop this relationship to make it meaningful for the reader? Do you believe readers can care enough about what happens to a fictional person to keep reading until the last page?

It's nice to write fantasy because you can have your characters do things that are not possible normally. Lorraine becomes more real as the story goes on. Her transition and Walter's lust turning into love carry the story and hold the reader's interest. The last part is my favorite, her coming back as a virgin. That wasn't in the original story.

I think readers very much identify with fictional characters. That's why they love fiction. Fiction's an escape. Romance's will always have a large following because of the happy endings. Just like in Coming Back a Virgin.

Two other characters are mentioned in the excerpt of Coming Back a Virgin posted at your website - What can you tell us about Samantha and Papa H?

I write from a vague outline in my head so they were never in my thoughts until I wrote about them. Papa H. is supposed to be Hemingway. I needed someone to be in charge 'up there' and I couldn't think of anyone better. Samantha just appeared in that scene so that Walter could make his comeback about Papa H. liking his writing.

Where can readers order Coming Back a Virgin and any of your other books?

The URL for the Virgin book is:

That's the only book available at this time.

I’m going to move away from your book to discuss something that I feel very strongly about. There are groups out there who would seek to ban books like yours. How do you feel about that? Do you think censorship is ever justified?

I'm a Libertarian. America stands for individual liberty, that's what this country is all about. Many soldiers have died over the years preventing fascism, communism and now Islamism from forcing their views upon us, dictating how we will live our lives. I don't believe in censorship of fictional works. I don't have a problem with restricting minors but adults should make their own choice. If they don't want to read sexually explicit material, they don't have to buy it.

I’ve known writers who are condemned by their friends and sometimes their churches for writing romance novels. Has something like this ever happened to you? If so, how did you handle it?

No, it's never happened to me.

What’s up next for you? Any exciting projects in the works that you would like to share with our readers?

Mardi Gras Publishing closed so I'm hoping to place my Sex and the Capital series with another publisher, hopefully Whiskey Creek Press-Torrid.

Other than that I intend to rewrite my first novel, the political thriller titled The Second American Republic.

Is there anything you would like to add?

No. I would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak to your readers about myself and Coming Back a Virgin.

Thanks for stopping by, C.J.. May the future bring you continued success.

You're welcome. I sure hope so.

This Virtual Book Tour brought to you by:

Monday, September 17, 2007

You Are More Than Enough Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion & Power by Judi Moreo--Book Review

Phenomenal! Outstanding! Fascinating! You Are More Than Enough Every Woman’s Guide to Purpose, Passion and Power by Judi Moreo is the one book that every woman must read!

If you are tired of just making it in this world; if you have ever desired to achieve success; if you have ever wanted to feel good about yourself every day of your life, then you have to read this book.

Motivational speaker and life coach, Judi Moreo, has put together an amazing self-help book for women that can change their lives. Filled with motivational quotes, powerful affirmations, easy to follow exercises, and a tremendous amount of sound advice, You Are More Than Enough gives women the power to make the changes they have always wanted to make, but were too afraid to try. In this book, Moreo shows readers how they can choose their future by ridding themselves of negative feelings, fear of failure, and self-doubt.

I’ve never put much stock in self-help books. A few weeks before Moreo’s book arrived in my mailbox, a friend asked me if I could recommend any good self-help books for women and I scoffed at her. I don’t read that drivel.

But Judi Moreo has made a believer out of me. Within just a few weeks, I can already see the positive changes taking place in my life. By reciting daily affirmations and performing the exercises found after each chapter, I have a much happier view of my life, I am confident I have what it takes to be successful, and the way I see the world has changed dramatically.

If you could only afford to buy one book this year, it should be You Are More Than Enough Every Woman’s Guide to Power, Passion and Purpose. The power to change your life is in your hands. Let Judi Moreo be the one to show you how to make it happen.

To read my interview with Judi Moreo, go to

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Author Nikki Leigh Chats about Lady Lightkeeper

September is rolling along with lots of great interviews. Award-winning author Nikki Leigh joins us today to talk about the second book in her Misty Cove Chronicles series, Lady Lightkeeper. We’ll also discuss the settings for both the Misty Cove series and Nikki’s Cape Hatteras series and find out what other projects Nikki is working on. And make sure you read all the way through to find out about the two giveaways Nikki has going this month during her Virtual Book Tour.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Nikki. It’s great to have you here.

Before we get to your books, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How long have you been writing? Did you choose this career path or did it choose you?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve always read too much (just ask my parents)and I enjoyed writing and creating stories and plays. After I got out of school, I got tied up in the business world and did some writing, but not as much as I wanted. Finally in the summer of 2001, I decided to find an online place to take writing classes and to get serious about it. That was soon after I read “The Artist Way” which was incredibly helpful in helping me get past a bunch of mental stumbling blocks. At first I chose writing and then in the fall of 2005, I needed to make a job change and for some crazy reason I decided to get into freelancing fulltime.

This might be a question you hear a lot but it’s one I ask all my visiting authors because I find how they approach their craft intriguing. What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a time of day when you are more productive than others?

I like to plan my writing. I interview and plan the characters, plan and research the setting and I plan the major things that will happen in the story. However, if I’m writing and the story starts to take an unexpected path, I let it play out and see if I can make it work. Most every time it works. When I was writing one book a year, it wasn’t as critical, but between my books and client ghostwritten books, I’ve written 14 books in the last 2 years. I’ve found the planning helps me to write at a much faster pace and that’s helped very much. Planning is also helpful when working on a series and it helps me to tie things together and to make sure I get from point A to point Z.

I have to tell you that when I found out you wrote about the Outer Banks of North Carolina (the place I long to retire to) and a fictional fishing town similar to Gloucester, MA which is only a couple hours away from me, I knew we were kindred spirits. Why are you drawn to the Atlantic Coast? How does it inspire your writing?

I live about four hours from the Atlantic Ocean and have traveled all along the coast during my life. There is so much incredible history around the Outer Banks along with a truly unique setting and so I had to write stories there. I had a contemporary story in mind and stuffed it in a box for many years, but I couldn’t figure out where to set the book. My brother and I took a vacation to Cape Cod and I knew immediately that that setting wouldn’t work. On the same trip, I insisted that we visit Gloucester. It was the year that The Perfect Storm was in the theatres and curiosity got the better of me. When we got to Gloucester I knew that was the setting I’d been searching to find. The more I read about the history of the area, the more the original story idea changed. Then, I got an idea for a historic series set in the same location. The ocean, the sand, the history and the lighthouses all inspire me. Besides, when I write about the ocean, I feel like I’m there. It’s a nice change since I live in the mountains. There are beach and lighthouse pictures throughout my house which also help set the mood for my stories.

Let’s move on to Lady Lightkeeper. This is the second novel in your Misty Cove Chronicles series. Why did you create the fictional town of Misty Cove and why did you use Cape Ann in Gloucester, MA as an inspiration for it?

Misty Cove was in my head for about fourteen years before I figured out where it was located and before I really did any work on the story. I knew it would be on the coast and I knew there would be a lighthouse and lifesaving history that would play a part in the story. Those original ideas became Stormy View (which will be re-released later this year under the title Stormy Shores). I wanted to show the proud heritage of the multi-generational lighthouse keepers in the story and I inserted quite a bit of family history into that story. Then, it dawned on me that I could write the story of the great great great grandmother that I mentioned in Stormy View. And, Widow’s Walk was born. I brainstormed the story ideas so much that the original idea has grown into 2 books with a short story and another book in the works. The history of Gloucester and the hardships and determination of the fishermen and their wives inspired many ideas for the book and certainly Lady Lightkeeper.

So that the readers can get a feel for these books, can you talk briefly about Widow’s Walk, which is the first book in the Misty Cove Chronicles?

Widow’s Walk begins in the evening of October 3, 1841 and the October Gale is headed to the Cape Ann coast. The October Gale actually happened and some of the news reports are included in the story. It hit Cape Cod worse than Cape Ann, but it still worked for my story. Lizbeth, the heroine, is preparing for her wedding to her longtime sweetheart, William. (William is wonderful by the way.) The Gale is getting closer and Lizbeth’s father is headed to shore in his fishing boat to be home for her wedding. She’s apprehensive and that concern gets much worse when she realizes the lighthouse isn’t shining and William spots her father’s boat, stranded on the shoals. Lizbeth is a strong and independent woman – which doesn’t go over well in the 1840’s. There is plenty of atmosphere and the reader sees how Lizbeth handles the multitude of problems that I give her. William is by her side and Sara, her beloved friend and former caretaker, is with her. I can tell you, never believe everything you read and there could be surprises around the corner.

Chapter One of Lady Lightkeeper, finds Lizbeth Sullivan Kinsey staring out at the coast from the Misty Cove lighthouse. She is eagerly awaiting the return of her husband William whose ship is weeks overdue. In this chapter, we not only find out what is currently going on, we also get a brief glimpse into Lizbeth’s past. How did you weave in this backstory without halting the action of the present day happenings?

I really struggle with backstory because I always want to reveal too much. This was my first sequel and I really worried about boring people who had read Widow’s Walk by giving too much detail or confusing people who hadn’t read Widow’s Walk by giving too little detail. That’s going to be even tougher with the third book in the series, but I’m ready for the challenge. I like using first person because I can bring the reader right into the narrator’s mind. One of my favorite reviews compared reading my books to reading a diary.

Lizbeth has already suffered many disappointments in life and in Lady Lightkeeper she is forced to create a new life for herself and her children while still holding onto the hope that William will return. What is it about Lizbeth’s story that readers can most relate to?

Lizbeth is a wealthy woman, but she proves that money doesn’t guarantee happiness. I actually struggled with whether to make her wealthy and it added some new dimensions to the story. She is strong and she is determined to get what she wants and needs, but her childrens’ happiness is of primary concern and their needs add to her inner struggle as the story progresses. She lost her mother at a young age and she lost her father as a young woman and she wants her children to know their parents. Lady Lightkeeper has been described as a story of lost denied, love lost and love regained. That can apply on a number of levels in the story.

In this chapter we also met Sara, who was the housekeeper when Lizbeth grew up. They are very close and Sara lives with Lizbeth and her family. What else can you tell us about Sara and why does she play such an important role in Lady Lightkeeper?

Sara is a quiet heroine in the story. I’m putting the finishing touches on the story of Sara’s trip to America in the early 1800’s and it shows how she came to live with Captain Sullivan and his young daughter Lizbeth. Sara becomes the closest woman in Lizbeth’s life because her mother died and her father is at sea much of the time. Their friendship causes problems for Lizbeth in Widow’s Walk and Lady Ligthkeeper, but she loves Sara and fights to protect her. There is also a family secret that I reveal in Widow’s Walk about why Sara loves Lizbeth so much. These women are tied together in many ways and I cannot imagine one without the other. The story about Sara will be an e-book and it’s tentatively titled "A Whisper on the Waves". I had to know more about how Sara got to Misty Cove, so it just made sense to write the story and to share it with others.

On your website - - readers can find a wealth of information about all your books, including character sketches, pictures, and maps for your novels. Why did you provide this much online detail about your books?

The website has gotten much bigger than I expected, but there’s so much I want to share with people. For people who are interested in the creative process, there’s all kinds of detail and I liked the idea of sharing pictures of the setting. Much of this information was provided to help bring readers further into Misty Cove and the worlds where my characters live.

You also own a small business consulting and promotional business. How has this helped you market your books?

I’ve actually got over 16 years of marketing experience in a number of businesses. When I compiled my first query letter, people insisted that my marketing background wouldn’t help me and that publishers wouldn’t care. I knew that was untrue and the publisher who has all my Nikki Leigh books likes my promotional background and I used much of that experience in my first book promotion book. I think that having a strong promotional background has helped me and I just struggle to find more time to implement all the promotional ideas racing around in my head.

So, how do readers get their hands on a copy of any or all of your books?

The books which are available are all listed on Amazon. If you’d like the easy way to find them, I created a book sale page with links to the pages on Amazon. I always have copies of my book in stock and I mail autographed copies to people. My web page with order details is For people who buy more than one book, I do offer deals. Anyone who would like a signed book plate for books they order from Amazon can contact me at

What’s up next for you? Do you have any new projects in the works? Anything exciting to tell your readers and fellow writers?

I’m finishing the short story about Sara and I hope it will be available in September. An anthology for my group, the Readers’ Station, is in layout and will be released soon and my promotional book, Book Promo 101 – Basics of Book Promotion is also in layout. I expect both of those books to be available in November. I need to finish editing and making some changes to Stormy Shores and I hope it will be released by the end of the year. Finally, I’m starting research and planning for Rebels and Rogues – the third book in the Misty Cove Chronicles and I hope to have it to my publisher by the end of the year. Once all of that is finished, I hope to start on Book Promo 201.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I think we’ve covered things pretty well. I’m starting to offer a variety of promotional services for authors and the details are at The page is still rough, but it’s a good start. Readers and writers can feel free to contact me with questions and I especially love to hear feedback on my books.

Each person who buys a copy of Lady Lightkeeper, needs to email me a copy of their receipt. I just need a receipt that shows you bought a copy of Lady Lightkeeper and I'll enter you in the drawing for a copy of Widow's Walk. However, if the winner already has a copy of Widow's Walk, I'll be happy to send a copy of Lilah and the Locket instead.

In addition, each person who posts a comment on any or all of the blog stops will be entered in a separate giveaway. Each comment will be entered in the drawing and at the end of the month, one person will win a copy of Lady Lightkeeper. Again, if the winner bought the book already, I'll send them another book as a prize. Any questions, let me know.

Thanks for chatting with us today, Nikki. We enjoyed getting to know more about you and your books. I have a feeling we’ll be swapping more emails about our beloved Atlantic Coast. Until then, please know I wish you much continued success.

Thank you very much for having me and I look forward to talking about the coast. We might even run into each other on the Outer Banks one day.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Nick Oliva's Time Travel Romance Novel Only Moments

Have we got a treat today! Nick Oliva has been a musician, composer, photographer, an audio engineer, an Entertainment Director and a Technical Director, and is a self-made money manager. And he recently opened up an upscale restaurant called Wyatt's in Henderson, Nevada. To add to this impressive list of credits, Nick is also a published author. His book, Only Moments was released by Publish America in June. Nick joins us to chat about this book, his writing process, and what he has in store for the future.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Nick. I'm glad you could stop by.

Thank you for having me here.

Let's start by getting to know you better. What can you tell us about yourself? How long have you been a writer? What do you do in your spare time?

I started in grade school writing for the school newspaper. I have always written poetry and songs, but this is my first novel. I have no formal training, but my homeroom nun who had a Master Degree in English, taught me by the stick and did a great job way back then. We had her from the sixth to the eighth grade so her influence on me on learning English and reading skills was great. We took a test in the eighth grade and I had first year and second year college level reading, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

I own a restaurant in Las Vegas called Wyatt's (as in Wyatt Earp)and my brother is the Chef. Right now I am marketing the restaurant, trying to do an audio book, trying to make a buck in stock market, doing interviews and promoting "Only Moments" and writing the next book. I think that's enough to keep me busy.

Can you share with us the names of a few of your favorite authors? Do you strive to emulate any of these writers in your own work?

My influential authors are Kurt Vonnegut, Ken Kesey, Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, the triple "H"s Herman Hesse, Martin Heidegger, Ernest Hemingway, and my personal favorite is Dalton Trumbo. I don't strive to emulate anyone, I think it is a process that develops like DNA through the generations. Their work is imprinted upon my consciousness and it seeps through my thought process as I write.

I enjoy hearing how other writers approach their craft. What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a time of day when you are more productive than others?

I am up at 6 am and keep an eye on the stock market as I trade options to help keep the wolf away from the door and continue to have the flexibility to allow myself the time to write. I need a sensory deprived environment to keep distractions from me as I write. I can go out to places like Big Sur and Yosemite and take notes but the excitement and rush of being in those places prevents me from allowing my imagination to create my own universe. I mean why bother creating another universe in such beauty that surrounds you? So I take notes and incorporate them at a later time when I'm cut off from the world. Writing is a very intense experience. There are so many ways to approach it that I don't think there is any "one" way to do it and that is what is great about it. You can be driving along and then BAM! There is the elusive tie-in you needed to make something work at a higher level or a new idea that transforms what you've done. It is all about living life and creating. All things influence your thought patterns.

Let's chat about Only Moments. This story begins in the year 2020 and travels back in time to 1970 and then moves forward again. How did you plot this story out? Did you use an outline or a storyboard to keep all the events straight in your head?

No, actually I did it the hard way; I kept it all in my head and that was very difficult and scary at times as I would get paranoid and think that I screwed something up in the timeline. The hardest chapter to write was the disaster of the World Trade Towers. I did a lot of research and in doing so got very emotional and it was difficult to write with so much sadness inside me. I made a couple of bonehead errors because I wasn't thinking properly and caught them just before I sent the manuscript out. That's why I like to be sequestered when I write. In the transfer of emotion many errors crop up because the mind is thinking one thing and the hands are typing another.

In "Only Moments" I started with the middle section as I wanted to record those experiences for posterity and it was an experience that changed my life and outlook on the world at a very young age of 16. Then without knowing where I was going, I realized that I had to create a climax in the future for my characters and began the futuristic conclusion and then went back and wrote the beginning that leads to middle. Once that was done, I rewrote the entire book. Originally I had the beginning in the third person, the 1970's and forward in the first person, and then the climax back to the third and conclusion of the book in the first person as a symbolic device to show that the main character was living in the past, then went back to his roots in the flashbacks, came back to 2020 and his same situation, and then evolves to becoming a new reborn soul, hence the migration back to the first person or a rediscovery. Unfortunately, no one got it, so I rewrote the whole thing in first person. Whew, I get dizzy just thinking about it.

What was the largest challenge in writing a story using this format of time shifting?

Other than keeping your years straight, it is difficult to remember that you are writing how the character speaks in the decade and when they are young you have to make them seem that way. As they get older the intellect grows and the voice has to reflect those years of experience. I made a conscious attempt to build the vocabulary of the characters as they progressed in years and experience. Whether it worked, only the readers feedback will tell if I was successful. The story centers around the unconditional devotion of a man and woman that works its way through the decades.

The first chapter opens with the main character, sixty-six-year-old Chris Vadia's romantic dream of skating in Rockefeller Center with his wife, who had died fifteen years earlier. He is lonely and angry at God for taking his wife away from him. How did you create Chris? Why will readers care about him? What can they relate to?

First and foremost this a love story that shows unlimited devotion even after one mate dies. When we open up the first chapter, we already know Chris' wife is long gone and he has suffered greatly. The depression he allows himself to stay in for so long, changes as he begins to recount the past-though involuntary. The setting of the future, it's technology and the human nature that rarely changes though the ages is exposed during the exposition. The real fun begins when we go back to his youth.

Chris' name was selected as Christopher Columbus was the discoverer of the New World. There are many references hidden, and some not so hidden, such as the letter he writes to the love of his life on Columbus Day about exploring the "new world," and many other references. That sense of discovery is really re-discovery as there is nothing new in the universe, just our awareness of it. Many of us have forgotten and/or forsaken the core essence of who we were in our youth and our values and dreams and it is that re-discovery that the book focuses on and that commonality of re-evaluation that occurs when one reaches the point of middle age and the passing of the torch. The lesson of the book is hope through tragedy, happiness through love of the self. Life has two sides, the ying and yang, the duality of nature. The loss of one so close changes and completely alters the outlook of life and that sadness can only be cured with the understanding and love of the self. Once he accepts his mortality and experiences the things he does (I can't give away the plot) he becomes aware of the miracles that surround us everyday and lives each day knowing it is truly a gift. His long dead wife comes to his aid and puts him back on the path to redemption of the last 15 years of his life.

The romantic relationship between Chris and his girlfriend, who becomes his wife, plays a significant role in Only Moments. Why was it so important to provide the reader with this aspect of Chris' life?

One of the messages of this book was to show that regardless of the age, future, past, or present-the needs and wants of the human heart can never be replaced by technology. The other aspect was to show that regardless that these two people were together twenty-four hours a day and experiencing everything together, they grew apart because of the flaws that each had and those flaws prove to be what made them great as well. Great art comes from imperfection and like the ying and yang, there is always danger in beauty be it the cliffs of Big Sur and rocks below, the infatuation of human beauty, or the spiritual dogma entrenched by centuries of emotional manipulation.

"They believed without doubt, without question."

That is quite a lot to write into a romance novel, but it is what life is all about if one wants to take the time to understand it's meaning and one's place in it.

You used real-life events in this novel and admit that it is semi-autobiographical. Did you ever have a fear of sharing so much of yourself with your readers?

At first yes, but then I realized that in order to take a stand one must make a stand and to not include my inner thoughts and personal experiences would be to short-change the reader and to play it safe just isn't my style. Some of the real life stuff never made it because it wasn't believable! The fiction is the essence of what occurred but the reality was even crazier. The meeting of Delphina (though a different name) on the beach was real, I still have the bell she gave me. The Hatchet Murders, the Zodiac Killer in the area, the young kids who knew of Charlie Manson, Jimmy's sleeping bag on fire, the Buick flying through the air-all that was true. Much more happened but the focus was on "Chris" and not just this escapade. Their separation was a conglomeration of reality and fiction somewhat based on my own first marriage breakup. The New York years mirror my time spent there.

Your website says that "the road, throughout the novel is representative of one's life path and sense of discovery." Can you expand upon this statement? Is there a message that readers will get from this novel?

The message is live life to it's fullest everyday! Don't expect life to treat you kindly and the "road" will be bumpy with potholes and dangerous curves, but it will take you places you have never been as long as you stay on it and that is the important part. Stay on it! Don't give up no matter what. Death is over-rated and the other side is an eternity. I know. I was there. Stay awhile and let time heal and be good to yourself and as the love of Chris' life tells him to remember that "Love is all there is. Never lose that gift."

Here's an important question. Where can we order Only Moments?

Barnes and Noble,, Barnes and, Your Books Cheap, Harvard Booksellers, Spotlight Books, Big Rock Media, The Book Depository or go to and hit the Links header.

What's up next for you? Are there any future projects you would like to tell us about?

I am trying to put the book in an audio format and then begin my next book on my death cross-over from flatlining when I was recovering from an abscess infection of the lower spine three years ago.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The Backstory that I placed on my website for the novel is as intriguing as the novel itself. Much like the character Chris, I came back with a different understanding and as I fought to come back to the living, the transition left me with a totally changed perspective. It was my life imitating my own art.
It showed me that the things I believed in, the core of my beliefs, were really right in line with what I went through. This reinforcement of my life's search renewed the vigor of discovery within me and regardless of the medical problems that I face daily, I live life knowing what is to come and unafraid of death.

Many people avoid wanting to talk with me about it. I think their religious beliefs or perhaps their own disbelief of anything metaphysical keeps them from wanting to hear the experience. It is almost as if it is a threat to their perceived "blanket of security" that their faith and/or lifestyle keeps them from being open minded to other possibilities of life after death. It is not just strangers and friends, it extends to my own family. No one wants their applecart upset.

To get back to the book, the wonderful experience of love in it's many forms is central to book's core. Self-love is just as important as the love we have for others and whomever that "special" person is.

To repeat Angela's phrase, "Love is all there is. Never lose that gift."
May we all be blessed with a good life.

Thank you Nick for sharing so much about your life and your work. I wish you much success.

Thank you and I hope people enjoy the book!

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