Sunday, September 30, 2012

Book Review: The IRA on Film and Television by Mark Connelly

A fascinating look into the history of the Irish Republican Army and how it has been portrayed on film and television awaits you in The IRA on Film and Television by Mark Connelly.

With the IRA appearing in more than eighty motion pictures, it has a unique cinematic presence. Dedicated to unifying its homeland and ending British rule in Northern Ireland, this secret organization has led to the creation of films in a variety of genres starring well-known actors such as Liam Neeson, Robert Mitchum, Brad Pitt, Mickey Rourke, James Cagney, and Anthony Hopkins. Connelly, a multi-published author and teacher of literature and film, shares his wealth of knowledge with an academic style that propels the reader to want to know more.

The IRA on Film and Television is an excellent resource for students, as much as an engaging look into the portrayal of the IRA on film and television for the casual reader. Whether portrayed as a justified political hero-warrior, an evil psychopath, or a lost, lonely wanderer, this medium has given a face to members of the IRA and their struggles. The book delves into how different countries portray the IRA in films. It explores classics such as John Ford's The Informer and Carol Reed's Odd Man Out, but also more recent films such as The Devil's Own and television shows such as HBO's Boardwalk Empire. 

What I found most fascinating about the book is its discussion on the history of the IRA. For someone like me with limited knowledge of the organization or the conflict, The IRA on Film and Television provided a wealth of information, in addition to giving me a reason to rethink some of the films I thought I knew so well. There are instances where the organization is not named or the focus truly isn't on the struggle as much as it is on an individual's story, so the connection might not have been clear before.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book for me was a small portion found on pages 167 and 168, titled "The 9/11 Effect." This looks at the unintended but profound consequences that the attacks on the World Trade Center had for the IRA. The final pages of the book provide a chronology of historical events, filmography, and list of television shows.

I would highly recommend The IRA on Film and Television to anyone looking to know more about the IRA and its history, in addition to those interested in the making of films about this secret organization. The author's website, found at, has information that can help you learn more about the book and decide if it's right for you.


Pump Up Your Book and Mark Connelly are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD!

Paperback: 273 pages
Publisher: McFarland (April 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786447362
ISBN-13: 978-0786447367
Paperback: $55
Kindle version: $20.99

I received a free copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions for which I have not been compensated in any way.

This is the 47th book I've read for the following challenge:

Pump Up Your Book! October '12 Authors On Tour Trailer

Pump Up Your Book! Announces October ‘12 Authors on Virtual Book Tours

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Now is the time to explore some great books. During the month of October, Pump Up Your Book! showcases 44 authors in a variety of genres: romance, mystery, Christian novels, thrillers, devotionals and more. And many of our authors are giving away fabulous prizes like the new Kindle Fire HD!

In October you’ll find several Christian novels in a variety of subgenres. Margaret Daley, Kellie Coates Gilbert, Kathy Harris, and Krista Phillips join returning author Kay Marshall Strom to discuss their Christian books. Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein returns for her sixth virtual book tour to promote her romantic mystery and spiritual awakening novel, “Next Year in Jerusalem!” and Benjamin Ethridge’s tour continues for his horror novel, “Bottled Abyss.”

Contemporary novels come to you from Mary Metcalfe and Mack Mulluncey, while thrillers in a variety of subgenres are being promoted by Thomas Block, Bud Bradshaw, Debbie Dyke, Kate McGuiness, Rebecca Reid, Helen Smith, James Houston Turner, and Pamela Samuels Young. Sandy Nathan tours with her three book paranormal fantasy series, “Tales from Earth’s End,” and we welcome back Sheila Roberts, who is on tour with her women’s fiction novel, “Better Than Chocolate.”

Also on tour in October are: Cherry Adair, Tony Cane-Honeysett, Ray East and Sam D., Deb Elkink, Libby Floyd, Eileen Hodgetts, Charlotte Hubbard, M. Thomas Long, Kfir Luzzatto, Helga Madland, Steven Manchester, Lillian Melendez, Joe Niehaus and Mary Sikora, Hank Quense, Morrie Richfield, C.V. Rosasco, and Mary Whitney.

In nonfiction, we have a Christian living devotional by James R. Anderson, and Mark Connelly continues his tour for “The IRA on Film and Television.” Kelly Preston talks about her book, “Real Dogs Don’t Whisper,” and Mark Spinak offers a compelling portrait of twelve spirits that changed the world in “Iconic Spirits.” Also on tour are Catherine Doughty and Carrieanne Fonger.

Visit YouTube at to view a video trailer introducing our clients on tour in October.

Pump Up Your Book! is a virtual book tour agency for authors who want quality service at an affordable price. More information can be found on our website at

Contact Information:

Dorothy Thompson
Founder of Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Tours
P.O. Box 643
Chincoteague, Virginia 23336

Friday, September 28, 2012

Guest Blogger: Donna Fletcher Crow, Author of Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail


When Joseph of Arimathea and his little band of pilgrims sought asylum from Roman persecution they fled to Glastonbury — and carried with them the most sacred relic in all of Christendom.

This tiny, sheltered corner of Britannia — this holy “Isle of Avalon” — was also a place of refuge when King Arthur and his knights fought off the invading barbarian hoard and it became the King’s final resting place.

Centuries later, the discovery of Arthur’s bones in Glastonbury sparked a great flowering of the faith and yet more magnificent building — after a devastating fire nearly obliterated the work and worship of centuries.

Then, after the last abbot of Glastonbury was dragged to his death atop Glastonbury Tor, the Abbey’s splendid arches were left to crumble. And yet they still stand today — as beacons of hope for the future.

2000 Years Ago on Glastonbury Tor
Celtic Britain: The Coming of the Light
by Donna Fletcher Crow

            The dark shape of the Tor rose behind him, a brooding presence commanding all his attention and then drawing his eyes upward toward the vast adumbral sky, far and far above the wind-rustled boughs of the mysterious oak grove at the mountain's base. He saw pale moonlight shimmering on the inky surface of Meare Pool, silhouetting the circle of wattle huts inside the palisade standing on pilings in the lake. And on every side of him mists rose from the river and marshland that separated this small piece of land with its cluster of hills from the rest of the world. The inhabitants called it Ynis Witrin, the Glass Isle, but to this newcomer's eye, with only the silvery moon for a lamp, the shrouded waters resembled not crystal, but obsidian. A shift in the breeze bore a wisp of fog to him. He shivered.

            Joseph looked down on the thatched roofs of the lake village where his eleven companions slept in guest quarters. The strangeness of the hill's green-darkness, of its windswept isolation, of its apartness from the rest of the world, chilled him. An almost deafening chorus of crickets and frogs assailed him, and a few drops of dew fell on his cheek as he surveyed this foreign landscape illumined by a cold moon.

            What had he done in bringing his little band of believers, many of them women and youths, to this alien land? What awaited them tomorrow? Would the druid leader welcome missionaries of a new faith? Would he listen to the good news of the way of peace and love? Or would he institute one of the sacrifices Caesar had pictured after his visit to Britannia almost a hundred years ago-stuffing a giant wicker figure with human beings and setting it ablaze? Joseph shuddered.

And so begins the saga with the coming of the Holy Grail to Britannia, that far-off island at the edge of the mighty Roman Empire where the followers of The Way might escape persecution from a system that forced them to worship in secret in catacombs and dragged those who dared to disobey Caesar off to do battle in the coliseum.

At first all went far better than Joseph of Arimathea could have dared to hope for. He and his band of 12 are made welcome on The Glass Isle and given 12 hides of land to build homes and a church— the first to be built above ground— which Joseph dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. A Celtic princess of the nearby court chooses Christian baptism along with a Druid priest.

But not all the Druid leaders are so welcoming. Tarana of the fiery hair and temper vows revenge. And then the Romans invade. Caractacus, war leader of the Britons sends out the hosting call and Joseph joins him as chaplain. The Emperor Claudius’s invasion of Britannia with elephants is a matter of historic record and the Celtic rulers are paraded in Rome in chains. Again, all a matter of historic record.

And so the story unfolds through the centuries, through Celtic, Roman, Arthurian, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Tudor times as Glastonbury sees it all. And the question remains, Where is the Holy Grail?

Glastonbury has been called “The holiest earth in England.” These are her legends, this is her history, this is the magnificent saga. 

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 40 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho.  They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

Donna is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave and A Darkly Hidden Truth, as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. To read more about all of Donna’s books  and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to:

Visit her on Twitter at!/DonnaFletcherCr.

Become her fan on Facebook.

Pick up your copy of Donna Fletcher Crow’s Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail at Amazon!

Purchase your copy of Donna Fletcher Crow’s Glastonbury: A Novel of the Holy Grail at Barnes & Noble!  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

First Chapter Review: Attorney Client Privilege by Pamela Samuels Young

This First Chapter Review is for a book I received from an author on tour with Pump Up Your Book. A full review will follow on October 15th.

BLURB: A brutal murder, missing documents and an unscrupulous opposing counsel lead attorney Vernetta Henderson on a quest for justice—and ultimately—revenge. The hotshot L.A. lawyer takes on a corporation with a long history of discriminating against women. While Vernetta simply wants justice for her clients, the corporation’s hired gun wants to win . . . and she doesn’t care how. On the home front, Vernetta’s infamous sidekick Special has finally found true love. But is the price more than she’s willing to pay?

COVER: If you've seen or read other books in the Vernetta Henderson series, you'll know this fits right in. What I think is a neat detail is that the woman is wearing white and black, and one arm is in the light, while the other is in shadows.

FIRST CHAPTER: Judi Irving works for Big Buy, the largest discount chain in California. She and two co-workers have opted to seek legal action against the chain with a long history of discriminating against women. Once attorney Vernetta Henderson is done with her current case, she will be pursing theirs.

On a more personal level, Judi is having issues with her boyfriend, a starving-actor who she thinks is cheating on her. He's also pressuring her to drop the lawsuit. As the TV pitchman for Big Buy stores, he's afraid the suit might ruin his career. After an argument, Phillip storms out, leaving Judi alone for hours and making her easy prey.

KEEP READING: Even if I wasn't reviewing Attorney-Client Privilege for a virtual book tour, the tense first chapter would keep me reading. The story opens with Judi and one of her co-workers talking about the suit. Young has created three great characters by the end of the chapter:  Judi, Olivia (a co-worker), and Phillip. Judi is a sympathetic character from the start. She's being discriminated against, her ex-husband cheated on her and it looks like this new guy is too, and she's unsure of herself and if she really wants to go through with this lawsuit. Olivia is much more sure of herself and also believes they have God on their side. Phillip is not likable in the least. he's obviously sucking off Judi, who is several years older than he is.

The chapter ends with a cliffhanger, so you know you have to continue to see what happens next. This is the second Vernetta Henderson book I've received so far, and I like it even better than the first one.

Paperback: 396 pages
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing (June 9, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981562795
ISBN-13: 978-0981562797
SRP: $16.99 (also available for Kindle)

I received a free copy of this book from the author or her representative. This first chapter review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Blogger: Dr. Gerry Steiner, Author of Gotta Call BS on That One (Giveaway)

Was missile defense started to save the free world or start a new empire? Do religions help us understand God or help keep God a mystery? Do schools prepare us for life or delay our lives? Does Congress help protect us or help exploit us? Has there ever been any BS involved in any of the above? Have we embraced or challenged the BS.? Could we make a difference? Would we want to make a difference?

Whether reading a newspaper, watching TV, or listening to a song, we are probably observing and absorbing a certain amount of BS. Do we recognize it, realize it, reject it or absorb it. This book provides a beginning to considering these questions. It can provide a basis for understanding, a basis for action, a cause of laughter, a foundation for tears, or some combination. This book often states the obvious, but it’s the obvious that often we collectively don’t seem to own up to. Much of the strife of life, the inequities of the world, even the causes of wars and disasters of the economy might be rooted in our collective self-deception.

The adventure starts with a reflection on a fairy tale from our childhood and one from Washington. It then joins a pair – a professor and his young assistant on an American adventure. They look at such topics as social interaction, sports professional and local, and our individual fitness. Business and education provide many examples and insights. Next, religion and science provide contrasts and similarities.

Government, politics, the legal system, and military service complete this brief trip. In each area, the presence and effects of BS are noted. The final section is devoted to the three greatest downfalls of society in the last century. They are identified and their drastic effects on our society are briefly examined.

Don't Get Mad by Dr. Gerry Steiner

Have you ever wanted to stand up during a speech, lecture, sermon, advertisement and just yell. You weren’t being directly harmed or attacked. Nothing was physically being stolen from you. No one was demanding your mind or your money. Just the same, you felt violated in a very real sense. BS steals from us all. Pretending to accept the false makes it harder to trust the authentic.

It seems very important that we know what is real and what is BS. It is also important that those that generate BS, (we all do some) realize that they’re not fooling anyone. It would really mess things up if all BS were challenged and rejected, but it might be useful if it were identified and acknowledged. As I started to collect my thoughts, I was almost overwhelmed by the examples and challenges that life presents us. Almost every area of our experience is affected. In the book I have not put much emphasis on politics. As we proceed in this election year I am sure that we will have ample opportunity to find “sterling” examples. (Sterling BS is sort of an oxymoron!)

As we proceed we’ll need active participation to make this the best experience. Maybe we can have some awards on the blog for different classes of BS. Your suggestions are encouraged. As with any blog, it is your participation and our interaction that will provide the richness.

I have spent much of my life being frustrated by the BS and by the frequent pretense that the BS is reality. Through the book and this blog I want to challenge this. I believe most of us recognize BS when we stop and think about it. I’ve often felt that putting up with BS is societies definition of maturity and wisdom. I don’t think most of us really feel that way. This is an effort to observe, laugh and possibly change.

Throughout the book you will see a wagging finger beside the text. There was a small group of us at work that would silently use this finger wagging as means to silently, but visibly, point out BS when we see or hear it. It would be great to establish this as a nationally recognized and accepted symbology, It might even become an effective way of communicating our knowledge and feelings to those that provide the BS.
Maybe we can also create a list of BS. Postulates. The first might be: “If you wonder if it’s BS, it almost certainly is!”

Please enjoy. Laugh at the BS, act but don’t get mad!

Price: $13.99 paperback, $6.99 ebook
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
ISBN: 9781937928919
Pages: 178
Release: August 5, 2012

Paperback Buy Link ($13.99)

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Gerry Steiner has enjoyed a life that is varied in location, vocation, and activities. He started in the land of tradition and history, Hampton, Va., the oldest continuous English speaking settlement in the United States. After high school and eighteen years surrounded by history. Gerry was ready to venture away from Virginia. After considering Cornell, he caught a train to California and went to Caltech. He left Caltech after a couple years to work in seismic oil exploration. His Uncle invited Mr. Steiner to visit Asia. Gerry picked the Navy as the best way to get there. This kept him busy for ten years. A year of Navy school as an electronics technician started the process. Fortunate circumstances led him to his wife and “stability?” for the next 40 years. Gerry then finished his BS and an MS in oceanography before sailing for Vietnam, There gunfire support and chasing aircraft carriers kept him in touch with the real world. Receiving fuel and supplies at sea gave him an appreciation for close quarters’ steerage. A pleasant break provided a week in Olongapo followed by a week in Hong Kong. His wife, Marilyn joined him.

After the Navy and back in Seattle he continued his work in sonar research at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. He started work on a PhD in electrical engineering. He made sonar measurements from an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean north of Barrow, Alaska. Two visits by polar bears approaching to 20 ft. added to the excitement Dr. Steiner moved to Ridgecrest, CA where he held a position at China Lake Naval Weapons Center. Several years in automatic target recognition included radar field measurements from Pt. Loma, San Diego. Next he started the Airborne RF Targeting Branch. Gerry also completed his doctorate in electrical engineering.

From China Lake Dr. Steiner ventured off to Denver, Colorado to join Martin Marietta. The initial year in Denver was focused on space based radar plans. A movie and a president changed his focus. The movie was Star Wars, the president was Reagan, the focus became the Strategic Defense Initiative. He spent the next decade on issues related to SDI. After the space based interceptor there was a space based laser concept. His efforts contained analysis, management, design, and testing. A couple years were spent developing a new rocket to provide a re-useable single stage to orbit vehicle. Only physics stood in the way.

Gerry’s wife was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. They had great times that were ended. Dr. Steiner moved to Maui five years ago. He has written this book to share his observations on how the world works and how it could work better.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest Blogger: Hanke Quense, Author of Falstaff's Big Gamble

Falstaff’s Big Gamble is Shakespeare's Worst Nightmare. 

It takes two of the Bard's most famous plays, Hamlet and Othello, and recasts them in Gundarland.  There, Hamlet becomes a dwarf and Othello a dark elf and Iago and his wife, Emilia, are trolls.

If that isn't bad enough, these two tragedies are now comedies with Falstaff, Shakespeare's most popular rogue, thrown in as a bonus.

Both Hamlet and Othello are plagued by the scheming Falstaff, who embezzles money from Othello.  After Hamlet becomes king (with help from Falstaff) the rogue becomes the dark nemesis behind throne.

Read an excerpt!

Hamlet, Crown Prince of Denmarko, paced the castle battlements late on a clear, cool spring night. He walked with hands clasped behind his back and head down. He had a thin nose with brown hair and eyes. His scrawny build and clean-shaven face gave him the appearance of a starving waif.

He paused, gazed at the multitudinous stars, sighed and continued his pacing. A breeze brought the smells of the harbor: salt water and rotting fish guts. At last, he stopped, thrust one hand to the sky and declaimed, "To bee or not to bee?" He stroked his chin. "Whether 'tis nobler to buy honey from the peasant farmer in the market and thus provide him sustenance and income to support his brood of brats, possibly keeping him from rebelling over high taxes . . . or to grow my own honey thus, gaining coins to assert my independence from my noble family and the sordid court? Hmm."

He paced some more, still troubled by his vexing question. Nothing less than his future depended upon the answer. Because his uncle, and now stepfather, Clodio, had usurped his right to rule the kingdom, he needed a profession and an income.

"Do you always talk to yourself?" a voice said from the shadows.

"Who . . . who goes there?" Hamlet's head snapped from one side to another while his hand grasped the hilt of his dagger.

"'Tis I, the ghost of your father. I bring a message for your ears alone."

Hamlet goggled at the specter who materialized in the shadows of a doorway. "You're not my father's ghost. My father was a dwarf and you're the ghost of an elf. You're an impostor and a dead one to boot."

"Hey, your father is busy and he asked me to fill in."

"Busy? In the underworld? What's he doing?" Hamlet clutched his red tunic and tugged downward as if to hide his shaking hands.

"He met a good-lookin' ghost of a female dwarf and he's wooin her."

"Dead not a month, and he forsakes his wife, my mother?

"You gotta understand. Life on this side — no pun intended — is pretty borin'. When you gotta a chance to do somethin' interestin', you gotta go with it."

Hamlet ran a hand over his face. Why me? he thought. "What's the message?"

"His death was no accident. It was murder most foul. Here is his exact message. 'But know, thou noble youth, the serpent that did sting thy Father's life, now wears his crown.’” The ghost paused then added, "Did your father always talk funny like that?"

"Murdered? By whom?"

"Didn't you listen? The message tells you who whacked him. Your father wants you to send this guy over here so he can talk to him. He doesn't wanna wait until the guy croaks from natural causes."

Hamlet watched in awe as the ghostly figure evaporated. A few seconds later, it popped back into sight. "Oh, I forgot to tell you. Your father says, 'Thy mother the queen is to know naught of this nocturnal visit.’" The ghost disappeared.

His father's murder shocked him. And the murderer had married his mother immediately afterward. Did the world have no morals?

He recalled his first thoughts when he'd heard of his father's death. How he admired the perseverance and tenacity his father must have had to commit suicide by suffocating himself with a pillow. Now all that admiration was wasted; the old dwarf had had help.

What to do? He needed to make decisions about bee farming and now he had to avenge his father. Was there no end to the demands on a prince's time? He said to the stars, "To bee-keep or to avenge? That is the question."

What Inspired Me To Write Books by Hank Quense

I started out writing short stories. A lot of them. I have about fifty published short stories, but I haven't written one in several years.

While writing one short story, the plot got complicated and it grew into a short novella. My next "short story" also became a novella, a longer one than the first one. On one project, while I wasn't paying attention, I ended writing a novel. Then another novel.

Now I have a hard time trying to write a short story. Earlier this year, I decided to write a short story. I finished designing the characters, building a plot and so forth. My next step was to figure out the scenes needed to tell the story. To my disgust, I ended with a large pile of scenes that could only be handled in a long novella or a short novel, most definitely not a short story. After that, I conceded. I now believe I'm incapable of writing another short story.

So, the answer to the question is; I wasn't inspired to write books, it apparently is something I grew into.

Award-winning author Hank Quense lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife Pat. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. He writes humorous fantasy and scifi stories. On occasion, he also writes an article on fiction writing or book marketing but says that writing nonfiction is like work while writing fiction is fun. He refuses to write serious genre fiction saying there is enough of that on the front page of any daily newspaper and on the evening TV news.

Hank’s previous works include Zaftan Enterprises, Zaftan Miscreants and Tales From Gundarland, a collection of fantasy stories. Readers Favorite awarded the book a medal and EPIC designated it a finalist in its 2011 competition. His Fool’s Gold is a retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth and Tunnel Vision is a collection of twenty previously published short stories. Build a Better Story is a book of advice for fiction writers.

He has a number of links where you can follow his work and his occasional rants:

Hank’s Blog:

Strange Worlds website:

Follow him on twitter:

Facebook fan pages:

Purchase Falstaff’s Big Gamble in paperback or kindle format at Amazon

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interview with Helen Smith, Author of The Miracle Inspector

Helen Smith is a member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain and English PEN. She traveled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both – from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant – before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel which was published by Gollancz (part of the Hachette Group).
She is the author of bestselling cult novel Alison Wonderland. She writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays and is the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. She’s a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.

Her latest book is the dystopian thriller The Miracle Inspector.

Visit her website at
Friend her on Twitter: emperorsclothes
Become a fan at Facebook:
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Pick up a copy of The Miracle Inspector at Amazon:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello! I’m a novelist and playwright. I live in London, England.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in London but then my family moved first to Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent, then to Dorset, not far from Weymouth where the sailing events were held for the 2012 Olympics. Dorset is very pretty, with thatched cotttages and lovely countryside, but I longed for the excitement of London and couldn’t wait to move back here when I was eighteen.

When did you begin writing?

I used to write dreadful poetry when I was about eight years old. I wrote a shambolic play that was performed at school, and of course I wrote various stories as creative writing assignments when I was at school, too. But really, I began writing in earnest when I was about twenty-nine years old. I loved reading so much that I always knew I wanted to write. But what would I write about, if I hadn’t lived a little first? So I had a plan to live an interesting life and then start writing when I was thirty. I cheated and gave myself a year’s head start.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I write during the day and often go on into the night. I find it easier to write in concentrated blocks of time rather than snatch a few moments here and there.

What is this book about?

The Miracle Inspector is set in the near future. It’s about a young couple called Lucas and Angela who try to escape from London. England has been partitioned and London is an oppressive place when poetry has been banned, and theatres and schools have been shut down. There are rumours that other places in England are more liberal, but there’s no way of knowing for sure because a fence has gone up around the city and communication with the outside is forbidden. Still, Lucas and Angela think it’s worth taking the chance. The book is about what happens to them after they decide to leave.

What inspired you to write it?

I volunteer as a writing mentor with a group of exiled writers in London through an organization called Freedom From Torture. I wondered what it would be like if I had to flee London because it was no longer a safe place to live, and that gave me the germ of the idea for this book.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My daughter, Lauren, reads all my manuscripts before I send them to my agent. She’s always very encouraging about my work. This book is dedicated to her.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The print book is available online from,, Barnes & Noble, Blackwells, The Book Depository, Foyles, W H Smith, Waterstones, and from your local independent bookshop.

The ebook is available from Kindle stores including and

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

I have a very short trailer for The Miracle Inspector here. It does little more than show the cover and a few quotes, but I hope it will be enough to persuade readers to check out the book.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

I have signed up for a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. Over the years I have had some lovely reviews for my books from book bloggers and I have kept in touch with some of them. I wondered about whether to try and set up my own virtual book tour but there’s a lot of work involved. I realised that if I hired someone to set up the book tour for me, they would be able to get my book to many more bloggers than I could hope to contact, they would vet the blogs on my behalf, and they would do the work while I concentrated on writing the next book. It’s a great division of labor and I’m very happy with it.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Just keep writing. All you have to do it finish your book and make sure you’re pleased with it. It’s harder than it sounds but you’ll get there.

What is up next for you?

I am writing a mystery series featuring an amateur sleuth called Emily Castles. It is set in London and it’s light-hearted and fun – it would be characterised as a cozy mystery series. I have already published two novellas featuring Emily and her side-kick, a philosophy professor called Dr. Muriel, and they have had some great reviews from readers. I have just finished the first full-length novel in the series and I’m currently working on the second.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for hosting me on the blog. I have enjoyed answering the questions.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book Review: Rings of Paradise by Maxine Douglas

Shadoe Donovan is tired of life on the road, but his distrust of women doesn't make him eager to settle down. Besides, he has a job to do: make people realize what the life of a professional wrestler is really like. He decides to purchase a struggling magazine to help him spread his message.

Khristen Roberts is boarding a plane for Hawaii on a long overdue vacation from her job at Plain Talk. A new mysterious owner has taken over the magazine, so it's the perfect time for her to step away for a bit of R & R. Little does she know, she is about to come face-to-face with the new owner, and when she meets him, things don't go smoothly.

As I mentioned in my First Chapter Review of this book, the unique plot and the great characters kept me turning the pages of this contemporary romance. Sexual tension is high between the two main characters, who probably couldn't be more different than each other if they tried.

Author Maxine Douglas spends a good deal of time developing her characters. Couple that with the unique plot, and you have a romance novel you devour within a few hours. I was sad to see this book come to an end, and I would love to see either or both of these characters in another story. Perhaps some more romance on the road.

Rings of Paradise is a superbly told, sexy romance. I'll be looking for more books by Maxine Douglas soon.

  • File Size: 280 KB
  • Print Length: 152 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing (August 22, 2012)
  • ISBN: 978-1-77127-136-3
  • SRP: $5.50

  • I purchased a copy of this book for my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not received compensation of any kind.

    This is the 46th book I've read for the following challenge:

    It is the 26th book I've read for the following challenge:


    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Book Review: Cracking the New Job Market by R. William Holland

    If you're looking for a job right now, you need to read a copy of Cracking the New Job Market: The 7 Rules for Getting Hired in Any Economy by R. William Holland.

    Once upon a time, in a land where jobs were plentiful and loyalty was rewarded, finding a job was easier. You typed up an attractive resume that listed your skills and responsibilities, you went on an interview or two, obtained a job offer, and happily worked at that company for many years--if not for the rest of your employed life.

    As Holland's book indicates, the new job market doesn't resemble this model at all. Employers aren't as concerned with college degrees and former job titles. They want to know what value you can create for them in the future. Today's job seekers don't expect to stay within the same company or in the same position for more than a few years. And employers don't expect they will either. Social media has nearly replaced networking groups.

    As I am finding out, the job market is still tougher for women because they often have careers interrupted by caring for their children or elderly parents/in-laws. And while parents used to believe that sending their children to college meant a guaranteed job afterwards, they are now encouraged to help their children learn about value creation early in life.

    These are all concepts I learned about in Holland's book. And I don't have to wonder if they are true. I see it all around me. They apply to my own circumstances. They apply to my son's circumstances. He once worked a full-time job and a part-time job. When he was let go from his full-time job, he was at least able to increase his hours at his part-time job. But it was still a significant loss in pay. He and his wife have no health insurance, and they struggle to make ends meet. Yes, I can give him tons of parental advice, but I feel the best thing I can do for him right now is purchase him a copy of Cracking the New Job Market to help him with his job search.

    Holland uses his years of experience in human resources to offer sound advice for today's job seekers. His conversational, inspiring style will be much appreciated. While every chapter is a winner in this book, the 7 Rules are complemented by helpful Appendices that discuss how to encourage value creation in your children, how to financially plan for new career realities, how to apply the rules to worldwide employment, and an example of a functional resume.

    Job seekers everywhere need to pick up a copy of this book!

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: AMACOM (August 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814417345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814417348
  • SRP: $17.95

  • I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I received no compensation of any kind.
    This is the 45th book I've read for the following challenge:


    Interview with AnnMarie Kelly, Author of Victorious Woman!

    ANNMARIE KELLY is a professional speaker, workshop leader and victory strategist, who has firsthand knowledge of the transformative power which determination and motivation, the stuff of victory, can have in a person’s life.

    Growing up in her Italian-Catholic home, Kelly wasn’t a natural go getter but rather a shy and introverted girl – a “good girl” who felt invisible and insignificant while she dealt with family problems including alcoholism, sibling abuse and mental illness.

    In her early twenties, a broken engagement and her father’s reaction to the breakup caused Annmarie to look at her life and where she was going. After a couple “dark” years, she realized she had a purpose but that she was following a path that would only give her more of what she already had: disappointments, regrets and lost opportunities. Annmarie understood that she needed to make a change; she decided to start on a new track.

    Through the rest of her twenties and thirties, step-by-step, she changed the way she thought about herself and her future, set major goals, and let go of many of the limitations that were holding her back, from kicking the undesired habits of smoking cigarettes and being a couch potato to getting honest about her own sabotaging behaviors and letting go of the people and environments that became obstacles to her efforts.

    While leaving her comfort zone for something better was what she wanted, it wasn’t easy. But in time the effort paid off – and has enabled Annmarie to BE more and Do more than she ever thought she could and HAVE more of the kind of life that, on her old path, would only have been a dream.

    Not content to keep success to herself, Annmarie Kelly has made it her life’s mission to help other women find the same confidence, inner power, and most importantly their “feminine victory” within. In her keynotes, workshops, books, and coaching, she shows women just how much power they have over their own lives, encourages them to LIVE VICTORIOUSLY - out loud and in living color – and shows them the skills they need to do it!

    Annmarie Kelly owns and manages SkillBuilder Systems, a training and devel-opment firm specializing in management development and communication skills. She is also the founder of The Victorious Woman Project which focuses on the information, resources and skill-building which help women empower themselves so they can live their best life.

    Annmarie is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTDPhl), The Press Club PA and the National Association of Female Executives. Her services include:
    - Keynotes for Corporate Events and Association Conferences
    - Training Workshops (SmartWoman@Work and New Beginnings)
    - Retreats
    - Seminars, Teleseminars, Webinars
    - Individual coaching
    - Group coaching (Victory Teams)

    She resides in Chester County, Pennsylvania with her spouse, Joseph Eagle.

    Annmarie Kelly is available for interviews in the Greater Philadelphia area, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Washington DC, and by phone anywhere. She can be reached at 610.738.8225 and

    Watch Victorious Woman Trailer:

    Where did you grow up?

    Havertown, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    When did you begin writing?

    I started writing in high school with papers for English classes. In my twenties, most of my writing was in my personal journals. In my thirties I wrote articles for magazines. At first I wrote for esoteric publications and then, after starting my consulting business, I wrote business-related articles for a variety of publications. I was really, really proud of my first check for a freelance article!

    Almost fifteen years ago, still missing my undergraduate degree, I made the decision to go back to college. It was a curriculum designed for people like me who were way past “traditional” college age. It began with a required first course for research science.

    Each week I turned in the required paper on some topic I researched. While my grades were in the B+/A category, I somehow presumed that I was just keeping up with the rest of the class. After all, we weren’t kids just starting out. But a conversation with the instructor turned things around. She told me that I was one of two students in her class whose writing was head and shoulders above the rest of the class. She also told me that I had a talent and should do something with it.

    I graduated, magna cum laude, in 2001. The teacher, Gloria Williams, retired a few years later. We still keep in touch and have a breakfast together from time to time.

    What is this book about?

    From some of my marketing materials:

    During nearly two years of interviews with women, as well as her experiences as a professional speaker, corporate trainer and coach, author Annmarie Kelly found that most women are struggling with common issues. She found that conflicting cultural messages add to sabotaging self-talk and influence a woman’s self-esteem, her desire for personal fulfillment, and her quest to achieve work/family balance.

    Victorious Woman! Shaping Life’s Challenges into Personal Victories shows readers how nine average women (just like them) overcame daunting challenges including the corporate glass ceiling, cancer, abandonment, starting and growing a business, domestic abuse and more. It tells readers how each one of them can become a Victorious Woman by reflecting on and identifying what is and isn’t working in their life, understanding how different lifestyles either support or sabotage their efforts, learning the six victory skills they can develop to be successful and using the Victorious Woman Model as the framework and the path for putting all the pieces together.

    As a result, the reader learns how to gain SELF-control, develop and maintain a sense of personal worth and importance, have compelling goals, take financial security seriously and actively engage in self-development and self-improvement for a victory-rich life. As the reader becomes a priority in her life, and in the lives of others, she is more likely to have a better marriage, be a better parent and serve as a positive role model for other women.

    What inspired you to write it?

    I got the idea to write Victorious Woman in a dream – one of those moments when you’re between sleep and awake. The first time I did what many of us who get great ideas that way, I immediately found an excuse to ignore the inspiration. The next month the exact same thing happened, and I ignored it again.

    The next month I started having a gyn problem and the doctor couldn’t diagnose it. After ruling out different kinds of cancer, I was waiting for a call and wondering if it was ovarian. If it was, I didn’t know what I would do; I didn’t even know if I wanted to be treated or just go peacefully into the next world.

    That’s when the Victorious Woman idea popped into my mind again – and it was like the universe smacking me on the head, and gleefully telling me, “We tried to tell you nicely but you ignored us, so we had to give you the ‘two by four between the eyes’ to get your attention. Now will you write Victorious Woman?” The phone call came moments later and it wasn’t cancer.

    Interestingly, my gyn problem resolved itself within two weeks; it was the outcome of an embolization which, at that time, was an experimental treatment for fibroids. But I wasn’t going to fool around anymore. I did my first Victorious Woman interview six weeks later.

    How is it similar to other books in its genre? How is it different?

    I can tell you, from my perspective, that it isn’t just a collection of stories or a typical self-help book. The first chapter tells several stories, snippets really, of several women’s stories, including my own. Each of the nine chapters about specific women ends with a set of “self-help” questions, tips and suggestions for victory-making. The final chapter is what some have called “a blueprint” because it outlines the four lifestyles that either support or sabotage a woman, the six skills every woman must develop and The Victorious Woman Model.

    But this question has been nicely answered by others. Here are two comments from reviews:

    • "What makes this book pleasantly dissimilar from pseudo-feminist self-help books is that it dissolves the unnecessary coats of sugar and…shows how women can achieve their goals and bulldoze impenetrable barriers…" - Jessica Bautista, Montgomery News Ticket

    • "At first I thought, ‘Oh, no, not more Ladies Home Journal Fare.’ But this book is not that at all. I found [it] to be personally satisfying. Recommended!" Judges Commentary, Ben Franklin Awards

    What is the most important thing readers can learn from your book?

    If life throws you a curveball or if you something you choose turns out badly, it doesn’t have to be the end of your world. Decide you will succeed, make another choice, and put your life on a happier and more successful path.

    Sent from corporate executive T.H. Krallinger: The stories are a testament to what can be achieved through the power of purpose and optimism….and that last chapter was WONDERFUL!

    Where can readers purchase a copy?

    It’s available in hard copy and for Kindle at, and also available at Barnes and Noble.

    What is up next for you?

    Because I present Victorious Woman as a separate workshop and as part of a woman’s leadership course, I followed Victorious Woman with a workbook, Victory by Design. I’m updating that for e-publication.

    Once that is finished, I’m working on my next book, The Five Year Marriage. It’s designed to help couples create their marriage in a different format, that is, in five year increments. I thought up this idea in 1988 when my sweetie proposed (yet again!) and I still didn’t think marriage was a good deal for a woman. Also, I just didn’t want to be married until I was dead – which, for some couples, happens long before their physical death.

    My sweetie agreed and we were married six weeks later. We’ve been doing our marriage that way ever since – we’re moving into the fourth year of our fifth marriage :-)

    Is there anything you would like to add?

    First of all, thank you for doing this. I appreciate the work and your methodology!

    Here are a few more comments from others – and I have lots more if you want me to send them:

    • This is a wonderful, touching book. I can think of several woman friends to whom I would like to give it (and a couple male friends, too). I has something for everyone and universal appeal. - Judge’s commentary, Writer’s Digest Book Awards
    • Victorious Woman! [has] been helpful to me as I’ve sought to gain insight and understanding in a society where paycheck and fairness often do not meet. Join a victory team.   - Gayle Aldrich, Lutheran Woman Today 
    • This is well put together and the end-of-chapter material is particularly supportive. - Judge’s editorial commentary, Ben Franklin Awards 
    • Recommended Reading!  - Houston Woman Magazine 
    • Coaching style questions help the reader explore her own situation and then take action toward her own victories.  - Divine Magazine for Women 
    • This new book…will give hope to other women who need to know that they can do it…with patience, persistence, prayer and a whole lot of courage.- Azriela Jaffe, Harrisburg Patriot-News
    • IT IS FANTASTIC! I'm finding myself questioning some of my life choices but then that's the whole point, right?  S. Eisele, Human Resources Manager
    • My attention was captured by each woman's experience ...and I found myself not wanting to put the book down. C. Tharp, Business Owner
    • The feelings leapt off the pages as I remembered my own experiences and how I was able to rally and come alive again.  Thank you for the inspiration to all women! J. Bennett, Bookkeeper
    • "I've immensely enjoyed reading Victorious Woman, and I want to thank you again for the gift.  I began to read the book at a time when I needed to receive the confirmation and encouragement that your illustrious characters share through their testimonies." Renee D. Sumby, Association Director

    Price: $16.95
    Publisher: Optimal Living Press
    ISBN: 9780974603704
    Pages: 279
    Release: September 2004

    Amazon Buy Link ($16.95)

    Barnes & Noble Buy Link ($16.95) Buy Link ($16.95)

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    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Series Review: Learning to See by Peter Jenny

    I was asked to review this series quite a while ago. Since I am interested in learning how to illustrate my own children's books, I felt this would be an excellent way for me to get started.

    The Artist's Eye is filled with pictures, artwork, inspiration--big and small, and exercises that will help you see things in new ways and find art in everyday objects.

    From cloud pictures to coffee stains, from rubbing to outlining, and from doodling to shadows, this book will help you to see everything through the eyes of an artist.

    Drawing Techniques is for artists what craft books are for writers. This book includes 22 exercises to increase your skills and self-confidence. The book opens with a short essay. Then it quickly moves into the techniques. I love how the author spoke of gesticulating and also the Touch exercise. The pictures and illustrations from this book are just as diverse as the ones found in The Artist's Eye. What I feel this book helps do is free up your mind to different ways you can approach your work.

    The third and final book in the series, Figure Drawing, was, for me, the most challenging. I remember attempting to draw a human face in sixth grade. It was torture. Even my son, who is wonderful at drawing objects, struggled with drawing people.

    The essay that opens this book is truly inspiring. It serves as a great source of encouragement for budding artists.

    Inside you'll find everything from stick figures to doodles to figures made with letters or out of spirals. You learn how to create the skeleton and then build an exterior shell around it. There are silhouettes and fragments.

    This final book is fascinating. It's definitely the one I will use the most.

    I highly recommend the Learning to See series by Peter Jenny.

    Book 1
    Paperback: 216 pages
    Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; Tra edition (April 4, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1616890568
    ISBN-13: 978-1616890568
    SRP: $12.00

    Book 2

    Paperback: 168 pages
    Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; Tra edition (April 18, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1616890541
    ISBN-13: 978-1616890544
    SRP: $12.00

    Book 3
    Paperback: 188 pages
    Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; Tra edition (April 4, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1616890495
    ISBN-13: 978-1616890490
    SRP: $12.00

    I received free copies of these books from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have received no compensation of any kind.

    These are the 42nd - 44th books I've read for the following challenge:

    Book Review: The Deliverer by Kathi Macias

    Christian fiction at its best is what the Freedom Series by Kathi Macias is all about.

    In the third and final book, Mara is faced with a multitude of choices. Though she fears men, she can't shake her feelings for Jonathan, the Bible student who saved her from life as a sex slave. But what man would want a damaged woman like her? And what about her family? Should she return to Mexico to face the people who sold her into slavery? Perhaps even more important, can she receive God's forgiveness and also forgive those who have hurt and betrayed her?

    Jonathan is dealing with his own struggles. He can't shake his feelings for Mara, though he's fairly certain she wants nothing to do with him. Then there's Sarah, his sister's best friend. She's been crushing on him for years. Should he try getting to know her better?

    Lawan was a sex slave in Thailand, where she watched her older sister die in the brothel. Now rescued, she has been adopted by a family in America, who is also caring for her younger sister. She misses Thailand, the people at the orphanage, and her deceased parents and older sister. Will she ever be happy with her family in America?

    The Deliverer is a story of forgiveness, faith, and God's infinite love. This heartrending, emotional story of lives affected by human trafficking will move you beyond words. Having read the first two books in the series (Deliver Me From Evil and Special Delivery), I had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed. The lives of the Flannerys, Sarah, Mara, Lawan, and numerous other characters have captured my heart. I feel like these people could be my neighbors and friends.

    I've read several books by Kathi Macias over the years. With The Deliverer, she continues to grow in her craft and glorify God. She doesn't shy away from tackling the tough subjects. In this series, and this book in particular, characters are put to the test. Can they move beyond the horrible crimes that have brought them together? This way of life is over for Mara and Lawan, but it still exists for many others out there. Mara has even been instrumental in helping another young girl affected by human trafficking. Macias brings a tough issue to light, which encourages them to get involved.

    A masterfully told story that shows the wonder of how God works in our lives, The Deliverer is a must read. While a stand alone novel, I feel it best to read the other books in the series first so one can follow the characters along their journeys.

    Highly recommended!

    Paperback: 320 pages
    Publisher: New Hope Publishers (August 1, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1596693088
    ISBN-13: 978-1596693081
    SRP: $14.99 (Also available in electronic formats)

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. The author paid me a fee to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. This tour did not include compensation for a review. I have not been paid to share my thoughts on this book.

    This is the 41st book I've read for the following challenge:

    It is the 25th I've read for the following challenge: