Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recent Books Added to My TBR Pile

Is it possible to have too many books? If it is, I think I'm going for a world record. I've recently added these books to my TBR Pile:

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias,

American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom by Rick Santorum,

Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel,

A Texan's Choice by Shelley Gray,

Beside Two Rivers by Rita Gerlach,

The Proxy Assassin by John Knoerle.

At a recent writers conference, I purchased some books for myself and some for the girls:

The Treasure Chest: Prince of Air by Ann Hood. She was the afternoon keynote speaker.

Escaping into the Night by D. Dina Friedman,

Borrowed Names by Jeannine Atkins,

Jo's Girls edited by Christian McEwen,

Confectionately Yours: Save the Cupcake by Lisa Papademetriou.

What are some recent additions to your TBR Pile?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Preparing for Hurricane Sandy

We are in the process of preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy tonight and tomorrow. We are currently under a High Wind Warning and Flood Watch Advisory. Schools across Massachusetts are closed tomorrow and utility crews from across the country are arriving in the Northeast to help us deal with any potential problems that arise. Several local businesses have already reported they will be closed tomorrow.

I hope to be able to blog this week, but it will depend upon our situation. Praying for all those who might be impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Interview with G. Eric Francis, Author of A Prayer for the Dying

Gregory F. Flagler, aka G. Eric Francis, was born in the late 1960's on the East Coast. He attended Utica College (Formally of Syracuse University), graduating in 1991 with a degree in Journalism. He has been writing poetry and short stories since he was 8 years old, and had dreams of either being a screenwriter or a published author. He moved to the Midwestern United States in the mid 1990's, where he met his wife of 12 years, Carla. He has 2 kids (including one with special needs -Down Syndrome and Autism). He is an avid sports fan, and a collector of music (nearly 18K at this time).

Visit the author online at

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in New York City; born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx. I spent most of my formative years in the South Bronx.

When did you begin writing?

Probably when I figured hout how to use a pen (Laughs). I believe I started making up stories around 8 years old, using my friends as characters in grand adventures. It was my way of escaping what was a somewhat rocky childhood

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

Well, the big thing concerning my writing is that there are times that I will write at 3 AM in the morning…then not do anything for months. I always believed that a writer needs readers, otherwise the inspiration dies. Had/Have a blog, yet never caught fire because of my, um, "unique" view of myself and the world.

What is this book about?

A Prayer For The Dying is about a young boy who loses his brother to a more aggressive and deadlier version of the HIV virus. Having a knack for biology and chemistry, he discovers a cure for this strain a few years later. The catch? It only works on his own blood. Enlisting the help of the government, including two unorthodox feds from a special division of the DEA, the intent is to escort him to D.C. from the West Coast. Of course, with something that powerful (and money making), they attract some unscrupulous company.

What inspired you to write it?

A couple of things. One, to finally achieve what I think I was meant to do, which was to write for a living. Two, I had an aunt who passed away from HIV about 20 years ago, and that sort of planted the seed for the story.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

That is a tough one…Dionne Richards, the heroine of the book, is a total bad ass, but covers her soft side with her tough exterior. Francis is, well, the guy I wish I was (without the bad decisions…grin). I would have to say a slight edge goes to Dionne on this one.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

It was complex. I made a LOT of mistakes (including one that almost derailed the entire project…long story). Going over the book again and again, changing plot points, and then arguing with the folks who helped me edit it down was…never dull.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?


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

I do, actually. Folks can catch it on YouTube here:

What is up next for you?

It is my hope that if the book does well, I will turn this into a trilogy. I also have a book for young adults coming out, as well as what I like to call my "Death" trilogy. I'm always thinking of new ideas…

Is there anything you would like to add?

As that I am new, I have recently lowered the price of the book down to .99 cents, so folks can check it out, and hopefully enjoy and leave reviews. I am here to entertain, if folks will give me a chance to do so.

Friday, October 26, 2012

First Chapter Review: When I Remember by Sharon Edwards

This first chapter was submitted by the author's business manager. When I Remember by Sharon Edwards is a contemporary romance that was published in March of this year. It can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Sony. It's also available in iBooks.

BLURB:  He was the love of her life. And he had turned his back on her when she had needed him most. She had tried to hate him—and convinced herself that she did. So then, why was he always hovering there at the edge of her thoughts? Why did his memory haunt the deepest reaches of her heart? How could it still hurt so much after ten long years?

Born into a musical family, Cara Matthews was a child prodigy, destined for the world’s concert halls—or so her parents had planned. But Cara’s heart had led her on a different path, to David, to a love and a happiness she had always hoped for. David had understood her and allowed her to be who she really was, had been her strength and comfort. But David had had ambitions, too, casting her aside as he had pursued his own dreams, and nothing else—neither she nor a terrible loss—had seemed to matter. Were her parents right? Had he only used her as a stepping stone? In the end, had he loved himself more than he had ever loved her? But now, what was he doing—here in Paris—at her father’s concert? Why did he suddenly seem to be there, everywhere she turned? After all these years? Just when she was finally putting her life back together.

When I Remember is a tender, heart-breaking tale of the destructive power of lies, manipulation, and deception. But it is also a story of the enduring power of love, when the heart knows better…and remembers.

COVER:  If you didn't read the synopsis, the cover art would make little sense--except for maybe the roses. While in the first chapter you don't know enough of Cara's past to say if the cover art fits, the synopsis makes it appear it is a good match. I find the red roses against the black and white piano a stunning and lovely contrast.

FIRST CHAPTER: Cara is attending a reception when she spots a man across a crowded room. Her fiancé, Richard, asks if she is okay, but she makes an excuse and escapes to the powder room, knowing the man she has just seen at the party is the same man she has done her best to get out of her heart. Why does she care so much? It's been ten years.

KEEP READING:  Definitely. Edwards has an eloquent style that speaks to a bygone era of refinement and charm, despite this being a contemporary novel. She quickly draws the reader in with the mystery of Cara's past. This is a very emotional first chapter, and one expects the story will continue to tug at your heartstrings as it moves along.

I received the first chapter of this novel from the author's representative. This First Chapter Review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Book Review: Autumn Winds by Charlotte Hubbard

A moving story of love and faith awaits you in Autumn Winds by Charlotte Hubbard.

An autumn storm does more than break the front window at the Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe. It also blows Ben Hooley into Miriam Lantz's life. Widowed since the death of her husband Jesse, and being pursued endlessly by Bishop Knepp to accept his offer of marriage, she is quickly taken with the handsome traveling blacksmith.

Ben's appearance in Willow Ridge could be wonderful in many ways, but the bishop isn't thrilled about a rival for Miriam's hand. With the fate of her beloved cafe at stake, Miriam must listen to God and her heart to find the happiness and love she deserves.

In the second book of the Seasons of the Heart series, Hubbard picks up where she left off with the lives of the Plain folk from Willow Ridge, Missouri. Miriam is preparing for her daughter, Rachel's wedding to Micah, the son of her business partner, Naomi Brenneman. She's not looking for love, but when Ben Hooley blows in with the storm, she feels an instant connection to him. Their friendship and developing romance is hampered by her connection to the past and her fear over the fate of her beloved cafe. Bishop Knepp, who began pursuing her in the first book, refuses to take no for an answer. He has his cap set for Miriam and he'll do anything to have her for his wife.

With Autumn Winds, Hubbard has created an inspirational story filled with characters you're bound to love and relate to. More than just a romance between a widow and a newcomer, the residents of Willow Ridge will truly capture your heart. Hubbard's masterful storytelling blends with a well-developed plot and superbly drawn characters to create a story that will become a quick favorite for lovers of the genre. While definitely a stand alone novel, much can be gained by reading, Summer of Secrets, the first book in the series, along with this one. Just like the first book, the reader will be treated to many scrumptious recipes at the end of the story.

I eagerly await the next installment of this series, Winter of Wishes, due out next fall.

Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zebra; Original edition (September 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1420121707
ISBN-13: 978-1420121704
SRP:  $6.99

I received a free paperback from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

This is the 51st book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 29th book I've read for the following challenge:

Book Review: Sasha Plotkin's Deceit by Vaughn Sherman

Sasha Plotkin's Deceit by Vaughn Sherman is an espionage novel set during the Cold War. The year is 1972. The Soviet Union has successfully planted a mole in the upper echelons of the Central Intelligence Agency. Three years earlier, CIA officer Chris Holbeck took part in a failed mission to engineer the defection of Soviet KGB officer, Sasha Plotkin, who may know the identity of the mole.

Now, Plotkin has resurfaced and refuses to deal with anyone other than Chris. Their relationship already tense from Plotkin's earlier deceit, Chris must decide if participating in one last mission is worth the threat to his life and his marriage.

I was definitely intrigued by the synopsis of this espionage novel. Author Vaughn Sherman has taken his experience with the CIA and blended it into a novel about the defection of Soviet KGB agent during the Cold War. It's obvious from the many details that the author has firsthand experience. The author has also written a memoir and three books on dealing with the management of non-profits. Perhaps this is why so much of Sasha Plotkin's Deceit is telling instead of showing.

The book starts out strong, with an engaging, albeit long, prologue. It quickly deteriorates into a story plagued by too many extraneous details, quickly--and easily--resolved conflicts, and characters that remain undeveloped. Sherman definitely knows the era in which the story is set, but based upon the synopsis, I thought the incident from three years ago would be carefully woven in back story. Instead, it's an intricate part of the plot that makes the novel unnecessarily lengthy. While I applaud the efforts to add the personal side of Chris's life into the story, the challenges between Chris and his wife are a distraction at best. Lisa's motivation for acting the way she does isn't convincing enough. Bits and pieces of her past that are woven into the story leave the reader wondering how they connect to create the person Lisa has become. Chris's mother is like a relative you only see on the holidays: she makes an appearance here and there, but you never really get to know her.

Dialogue was also an area where the book didn't quite make it. Characters would provide lengthy explanations of events while Chris was relegated to sitting there and listening. During what one would expect to be an emotional exchange with his wife, he never attempts to interrupt her. Later, during a conversation with Sasha, he has brief interjections, but overall it's just Sasha telling him things. These long passages aren't even broken up with action on the characters' parts, so the reader is left wondering if they literally just sat there for an hour or so talking without doing anything else like scratching their noses, motioning with their hands, or blinking.

I stuck with it to the end because I wanted to see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit. I'm glad I did, but overall, Sasha Plotkin's Deceit didn't have enough action for my taste and the pace was slowed by a plethora of details. The book, however, has received several great reviews on Amazon, so feel free to check it out. If you enjoy an intellectually developed, intricate espionage novel, this might be your cup of tea.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Camel Press; 1st edition (August 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603818111
ISBN-13: 978-1603818117
SRP: $16.95

I received a free electronic copy of this book through Partners in Crime Tours. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way. 

This is the 50th book I've reviewed for the following challenge:

It is the 28th book I've reviewed for the following challenge:

It is the 12th book I've read for the following challenge:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Interview with Patrick Greene, Author of Progeny

Some dark serendipity plopped a young Patrick Greene in front of a series of ever stranger films-and experiences-in his formative years, leading to a unique viewpoint. His odd interests have led to pursuits in film acting, paranormal investigation, martial arts, quantum physics, bizarre folklore and eastern philosophy. These elements flavor his screenplays and fiction works, often leading to strange and unexpected detours designed to keep viewers and readers on their toes.

Literary influences range from Poe to Clive Barker to John Keel to a certain best selling Bangorian. Suspense, irony, and outrageously surreal circumstances test the characters who populate his work, taking them and the reader on a grandly bizarre journey into the furthest realms of darkness. The uneasy notion that reality itself is not only relative but indeed elastic- is the hallmark of Greene’s writing.

Living in the rural periphery of Asheville North Carolina with his wife Jennifer, son Gavin and an ever-growing army of cats, Greene still trains in martial arts when he’s not giving birth to demons via his pen and keyboard.

Where did you grow up?

I was raised in rural Western North Carolina, just outside of Asheville. After some moving around, I live there now.

When did you begin writing?

I have always been writing! Even before I knew how. I would draw pictures to tell stories when I was a tyke. In elementary school, as I learned to piece together words, I started making and selling my own comic books. If you ever wanted to see what would happen if Godzilla fought Gorgo, or if The Six Million Dollar Man went to the Planet of The Apes, I had comics that would answer those questions. Guess I owe some royalties to a lot of studios.

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

Mostly at night-as in midnight to dawn! But for PROGENY, my writing hours were all over the map. A few hours in the afternoon, then another stretch later in the evening, generally.

What is this book about?

PROGENY is a tense tale about a group of hunters being stalked by enraged apelike monsters during a stormy night. The hunters are forced to seek shelter with a reclusive writer. The hunters and the writer have long been at odds—now they have to work together to face the terrifying outside threat of the creatures. There’s a hint of Moby Dick, a dash of Predator, and smidge of Gorgo. Monster fanatics will love it.

What inspired you to write it?

I’ve long been interested in Bigfoot and other cryptids, and really, anything you can call a monster. Being a writer myself, I sometimes find it difficult to fit in with the rest of the world. Both the writer and the monsters are outsiders in a sense. Man against nature is probably the oldest story conflict one can conceive, and adding the mystery of an unknown animal to that mix is very appealing to me and hopefully to millions and millions of readers out there!

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I really enjoyed writing Byron, the son of Zane, who is the leader of the hunters. Byron’s a fifteen year old kid with all the turmoil that entails, plus much more. His father has decided he’s ready to become a man, but he has very specific ideas about what that means; ideas that are very much in opposition to what Byron wants.

When they come under siege from the sasquatches, the issues between father and son are amplified as Byron witnesses his father’s leadership essentially dissolving in the face of this unimaginable threat.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I have to say, all thanks to my publisher Hobbes End, it’s been smooth as silk. I began my relationship with them via a collection they produced called THE ENDLANDS VOLUME 1, for which they accepted a couple of my stories. They encouraged me to take a shot at a novel. I’d been mostly doing short stories and screenplays up till then, so even though it seemed daunting, I went ahead and tackled it. It was an amazingly fulfilling experience, and I’m grateful to Hobbes End for their encouragement!

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

Honestly, I would have tried my hand at a novel a long time ago if I knew just how meaningful an experience it can be. I love screenwriting, but there are fewer limitations with a novel.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

It’s easy to buy (via Amazon) through my website, , or through my publishers at

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

I don’t have a trailer for PROGENY, but there is a movie teaser trailer available on-line for a recent screenplay I wrote

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

I’m lucky to have Hobbes End taking care of most of that, but I’m trying to do my part by spreading the word on facebook, twitter, etc. My amazing wife Jennifer has taken to managing me and she’s doing a lot of stuff with Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other venues. She’s also setting up local signings, to which I’m really looking forward!

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

I know a good dozen or so people with the talent, who just won’t write. There are a lot of excuses -short attention span, fear of rejection letters- that I find hard to fathom. So I’d say: Accept no excuses. Make no excuses. Get down to the business of writing, no matter what anyone says, and no matter what’s in the way.

What is up next for you?

I’m still in the screenwriting biz. I’m two drafts into a suspense drama called A SHOTGUN WEDDING. There’s a website for it:, then I’m on to my next novel, a vampire tale. Meanwhile, Hobbes End is releasing the second volume of THE ENDLANDS in November, and I have a story featured therein.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I just want to say thanks to everyone who has purchased my work or even just dropped by my website to read my insane bloggery. I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of what I can do and I look forward to taking my readers on some fantastic journeys!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

First Chapter Review: 18-Wheeler Jihad by Ken Bontrager

The first chapter of 18-Wheeler Jihad was sent to me by author Ken Bontrager for review.

BLURB:  Sometimes reality strikes too close to home. Patricia Scott is passionate about one thing: stopping terrorists before they can do more damage to the United States. She has become very skilled in piecing together bits of intelligence from all over the world to uncover their evil plans. From Iran to North Korea, to Venezuela and Central America, she has gathered bits of information that look like something big. But now the trail has run cold, and when it resurfaces, it is just too chilling to believe. How can the people close to her be involved in such a plan? Can the attack be stopped in time? What motivates the terrorists to do what they do? What will happen to America if she fails? Why would God allow evil people to triumph like this? Too many questions, not enough answers. Over the course of one horrific week, Patricia and her husband, Will, find their faith tested to the max as they try to find answers to these questions and prevent the ultimate tragedy on U.S. soil.

COVER:  Appropriate, but has a computer generated feel to it. I like the added detail of the religious symbols.

FIRST CHAPTER: Patricia Scott wakes from the recurring nightmare that has plagued her since September 11, 2001. A rookie cop at the time, she wonders if she was spared because God had bigger plans for her. Now married and working in the Counterterrorism Division of the Department of Homeland Security, life is good except for those blasted nightmares.

Josh Abdul Jamal is willing to do anything for the cause of Allah. As he pulls his van off onto a dirt road northeast of Las Vegas, he remembers that the Imam, Yassar Hasrali, has told him this is the first step in Allah's great plan for the infidels of the United States.

Abdas Hemati and his team of scientists have spent the past ten years in Tehran coming up with a plan that will destabalize America and bring chaos to the world to hasten the return of Mahdi.

KEEP READING: For now. All the elements are there for a great Christian suspense novel: a thrilling plot, interesting characters, and a great cliffhanger at the end of the first chapter that makes you want to continue.

Right now, most of the characters seem black and white to me--either all good or all evil--but I would stick with it to see how the author develops them. I would also like more showing and less telling. I want to feel the sweat dripping down Patricia's face when she wakes from her nightmare, see the landscape around where Josh pulls his van off the road, and truly get to know these characters inside and out.

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (August 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143279504X
ISBN-13: 978-1432795047
SRP: $14.95 (Kindle version also available)

I received the first chapter of this novel from the author. This first chapter review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Book Spotlight: The Devil's Foothold by Marilyn Meredith

Resident Deputy Jessica McGuire’s day starts much the same as usual, but when she jogs by the old family cemetery she discovers the grave of a baby had been dug up and the skeleton missing. It wasn’t much later when Pastor David Tanner reports the theft of a hand-carved redwood cross from his church. Next a baby goat is reported stolen and one of the pastor’s cows discovered mutilated in the field. Jessica and Pastor David team up to investigate these strange occurrences. He is convinced Satan worshiping is going on in their town. Jessica isn’t sure until she discovers a hooded and robed group meeting in the woods who flee upon her arrival. She knows she needs to get to the bottom of things before what’s going on escalates into something worse. Or has it already?

File Size: 390 KB
Print Length: 176 pages
Publisher: Marilyn Meredith (October 14, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Only $2.99 on Amazon!

Marilyn Meredith is the author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series as well as the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

One of the first authors to embrace e-publishing she has several books that are available in both e-format and trade paperback, among them, the award winning mystery Guilt by Association.

Christian horror is another of the genres she writes in-The Choice, Deeds of Darkness, and Cup of Demons are prime examples .

She also has a chapter in the best seller, "THE PORTABLE WRITERS' CONFERENCE" from Quill Driver Press.

Also a writing teacher, Marilyn has been a featured speaker at several writers' conferences. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, EPIC, and the Public Safety Writers Association.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Interview with Jack Brody, Author of The Moroni Deception

Jack Brody is a writer, ex-military, and an avid traveler. After his Army stint and then deciding to pass on law school, he went to film school, wrote screenplays, and held a number of jobs which ran from everything to working for a newspaper for one day, to film production, to then going into real estate (with at least five others along the way). He’s fascinated by history, politics, and architecture, all of which play a part in his novels (yes, he already has two more in the works). When not writing, he can often be found hiking with his two faithful dogs, occasionally breaking out the old BMW bike for a ride though the mountains, or playing volleyball or bar trivia with his friends. He divides his time between his home in the Southern Appalachians and wherever his passport will take him.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Chapel Hill, NC where my dad was in the graduate history program and my mother taught high school English.

When did you begin writing?

I first started in high school writing little skits and then turned to screenwriting in college.

What is this book about?

It's about a New York Times investigative journalist, Michael Chenault, who finds himself caught up in a growing conspiracy while trying to make a connection between a missing Mormon artifact and two ritual murders that took place halfway across the country from each other--one of which was of a Presidential candidate's wife. What Chenault, eventually discovers is that what he’s uncovered may not only affect the outcome of the next Presidential election, but decide the fate of an entire religion. 

What inspired you to write it?

That would have to be after reading Jon Krakauer's Under The Banner Of Heaven.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

My first inclination would be to say "Chenault," the protagonist, but I might even have to say "Martin Koplanski," the retired BYU history professor who is actually murdered right before the story begins. You'll have to read it, though, to see how he becomes one of the central figures, playing a very active role in the story.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Right now it's just available for e-Readers on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony Readers store, Apple iBookstore, Copia, Kobo, Baker & Taylor, and Gardner's.

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

Probably stumbling across and hiring publicist Mayra Calvani, who has been very helpful in helping me find new readers.

What's up next for you?

Hopefully, more novels. I have two more in mind featuring Michael Chenault, one of which I've already started on, tentatively titled The POTUS Protocol. In this one, I think I might be taking a closer look at "The Family," which I first discovered after reading Jeff Sharlet's book by that same name. There's just something about secretive pious groups that try to involve themselves in politics that makes for a good conspiratorial tale.

Is there anything you would like to add?

If you would like more information about the novel or to read the first 12 chapters for free, go to . Also, The Moroni Deception's blog and Facebook page can be found at and

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Another WriteAngles Conference Come and Gone

It's hard to believe, but after months of hard work, this year's WriteAngles Conference is over. We had a ton of fun, and there were so many interesting panels to choose from, it was hard to decide what to do.

As registrar, I didn't get a chance to attend too many panels, but I did manage to take in the entire Writing Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction one. D. Dina Friedman moderated this panel that included writers Jeannine Atkins and Lisa Papademetriou. I was so impressed with what these ladies had to say that I bought one of each of their books. If I were richer, I would have picked up more.

Add in two great keynote speakers and four fabulous agents and it was a wonderful day. The staff from the Willits-Hallowell Center at Mount Holyoke College did a superb job of creating a relaxing, pleasant setting for the conference, and once again, the food was phenomenal. After a short rest, I'm ready to do it all again.

Have you attended any writers conferences this year? What was your favorite part?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Interview with Deb Elkink, Author of The Third Grace (Kindle Fire HD Giveaway)

When author and city-slicker Deb Elkink fell in love and married an introverted cowboy, she moved from her bright lights to his isolated cattle ranch far off in the prairie grasslands. Still—between learning to pilot a light aircraft, sewing for a costume rental store, and cooking for branding crews of a hundred—Deb graduated with a B.A. in Communications from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN; she also holds an M.A. in Theology (both summa cum laude).

Her award-winning debut novel, THE THIRD GRACE, is set in the contrasting locales of Parisian street and Nebraskan farmyard, and incorporates Greek mythology and aesthetics with the personal search for self. Her writing has been described as “layered and sumptuous,” “compelling,” and “satisfying.”

Visit her website at

Friend her at Facebook at!/deb.elkink.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m an effervescent extrovert but I write all alone on our acreage, staring out the window at an ancient red barn, listening to the creek babbling by and the wind howling in the grasses. I love contrasts: Let me live in the country so that I can enjoy the excitement of a girls’ shopping day in the city so that I can slide back into the bucolic peace; let me grow accustomed to the sameness of home so that I can glory in the exotic difference of a foreign land so that I can find comfort again at my own kitchen table.

Where did you grow up?

I was born on the Canadian prairies in southern Manitoba, 450 miles northwest of Minneapolis, and grew up in the city of Winnipeg in a noisy, two-parent family with four siblings and various pets—among them, a talking crow.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I get nostalgic as I remember the family sitting around a midnight campfire in the Canadian Rockies, singing along with my brother’s guitar-playing and listening to Dad spin his tales about riding the rails with the last of the Great Depression hobos. 

When did you begin writing?

My first poem, written at age nine and “published” in the school yearbook, gave me a wild craving for more, and I decided then and there that someday I’d be a novelist (though I flirted for a brief moment with the idea of studying medicine). During college a short story appeared in a paying magazine and I was irreversibly hooked . . .

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

I’m a binge writer—I can’t fathom getting into a scene in spare moments here and there. I tend to “save” my novel until other responsibilities are fulfilled and then spend 15 hours a day in my PJs for months on end fixating on the research, the draft, the edit. It’s amazing I don’t lose weight!

What is this book about?

Back when she was seventeen Mary Grace fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family’s farm; now a successful costume designer on her way to Paris, she’s running away from memories in search of herself. But you should read the fuller jacket blurb if you want the “publicity” version of my story. What The Third Grace is REALLY about is my personal longing to connect with women who’ve forgotten or suppressed their youth—who’ve turned away from the truth about how “right” it felt to belong to a family, a faith, and a friendship.

What inspired you to write it?

My first visit to Paris inflamed my deep longing for cultural experiences (artistic, aesthetic, culinary, interpersonal) and, as I stood in the Louvre before a marble statue grouping by James Pradier of the Three Graces, I knew I’d found the icon for my future novel. The goddesses—daughters of Zeus and attendants of Aphrodite—speak of beauty and love and the relationships among women, as well as our spiritual relationships. I dedicate this book “to all my lost sisters wandering alone” in an appeal to them to listen and look, not with stony ears and sightless eyes but with hearts of living flesh.

Who is your favorite author?

This changes constantly, depending on whom I’m currently reading and for what purpose. Honestly, sometimes Chicago Manual of Style and Roget’s Thesaurus give me the biggest thrill! I just finished a delightful Jodi Picoult marathon to determine which of her plots I like the most (conclusion: either Plain Truth or My Sister’s Keeper). But if you mean who do I most admire for language, motif, and meaning, I’d say Joanne Harris (Chocolat), Sue Monk Kidd (Secret Life of Bees), and Mark Salzman (Lying Awake)—for starters!   

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The Third Grace is available in print and eBook formats through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online sellers, and the paperback can also be ordered through most bookstores.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Visit me at, where you can find out more about The Third Grace, check out my MOTIFS page, and maybe leave a comment under the ENGAGE button.

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

Yes, my trailer is available on my website:

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

I would share the words of a wise teacher who answered my frustration about not publishing during my years as a young mom and ranch wife: “Don’t fret about writing if you’re too busy living; it will all come out in the end.”

What is up next for you?

My work-in-progress is a novel in which a Minneapolis salesclerk being harassed by a bag lady is on the verge of her first home purchase, while her best friend is begging her instead to travel along to “sacred sites” around the world. She tours a mansion museum in North Dakota, discovering her own heritage and the true meaning of “home.”

Pick up your paperback copy of Deb Elkink’s THE THIRD GRACE at Amazon:

Download your ebook copy of Deb Elkink’s THE THIRD GRACE at Amazon:

Pick up your paperback copy of Deb Elkink’s THE THIRD GRACE at Barnes & Noble:

Pick up your paperback copy of Deb Elkink’s THE THIRD GRACE at Chapters/Indigo:

The Third Grace Tour Page:


The past casts a long shadow — especially when it points to a woman’s first love.

Her name was Mary Grace until she fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family’s Nebraska farm. François renamed her “Aglaia” — after the beautiful Third Grace of Greek mythology — and set the seventeen-year-old girl longing for something more than her parents’ simplistic life and faith.
Now, fifteen years later, Aglaia works as a costume designer in Denver. Her budding success in the city’s posh arts scene convinces her that she’s left the country bumpkin far behind.

But “Mary Grace” has deep roots, as Aglaia learns during a business trip to Paris. Her discovery of sensual notes François jotted into a Bible during that long-ago fling, a silly errand imposed by her mother, and the scheming of her sophisticated mentor conspire to create a thirst in her soul that neither evocative daydreams nor professional success can quench.

The Third Grace is a captivating debut novel that will take you on a dual journey across oceans and time — in the footsteps of a woman torn between her rural upbringing and her search for self.


Pump Up Your Book and Deb Elkink are teaming up to give you a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: Attorney-Client Privilege by Pamela Samuels Young

Vernetta Henderson returns in this suspenseful thriller from Pamela Samuels Young.

When Vernetta takes on a case of gender discrimination against a large retail chain, she's certain this is an open and shut case where she'll be victorious. When one of her clients in the case is murdered, and evidence  goes missing, Vernetta wants to see justice served more than anything. Learning she's going up against the unscrupulous Girlie Cortez, who is representing Big Buy in the case, certainly isn't going to make Vernetta's job any easier.

Attorney-Client Privilege is another fabulous installment in this series by Pamela Samuels Young. As she has done with other Vernetta Henderson books, Young hooks you with a superb plot that unravels to a satisfying conclusion thanks to her skillful storytelling. The other thing that the author does so well is blend Vernetta's personal and professional lives into the story. Vernetta and her husband, Jefferson, face new challenges. Her best friend, Special, has troubles of her own that are tied in some ways to Vernetta's woes. It's tremendously satisfying to watch these characters develop.

Girlie Cortez has to be the most complex character in this story. Through most of it, I couldn't stand her, but as the story played out, the reader could see why she acted the way she did--even if she didn't approve or like it. I would love to see Girlie pop up in a future installment of this series.

If you're looking for a legal thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end, you won't want to pass up Attorney-Client Privilege by Pamela Samuels Young. Her work is some of the best in this genre.

Paperback: 396 pages
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing (June 9, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981562795
ISBN-13: 978-0981562797
SRP: $16.99
Also available in electronic formats


Pump Up Your Book and Pamela Samuels Young are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD!

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I received no compensation of any kind.

This is the 49th book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 27th book I've read for the following challenge:

It is the 11th book I've read for the following challenge:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

First Chapter Review: The Art of My Life by Ann Lee Miller

I had the chance to review the first chapter of Kicking Eternity by Ann Lee Miller, which is a prequel of this next book, The Art of My Life. When Ann told me she was going on tour with this new one, I offered to post a  First Chapter Review. Make sure you catch our interview where she talks about her writing and The Art of My Life.

BLURB:  Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters.

Aly has the business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a monster rummage sale and an affection for weed.

But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying.

For anyone who’s ever struggled to measure up. And failed.

COVER: Not only does this cover capture the essence of the story, it is a great match for the cover from its prequel, Kicking Eternity. I love the dog, which you'll meet in the first chapter.

FIRST CHAPTER: Cal has just been released from jail, where he spent the past three months for marijuana possession. His straight-laced mother arrives to pick him up. Their reunion is tense, but she tells Cal that his grandma has given him her boat, so he can hopefully start over. His arrest managed to alienate some people he cared about, but doesn't seem to deter the one person he wishes would just go away. He's always loved Aly, and he hopes he can convince her to help him out.

KEEP READING: If you like a story that starts out with tons of conflict, you'll definitely find it in The Art of My Life. Cal's life is a mess. He is just out of jail and has to deal with his perfectionist mother, who thinks she can solve all his problems. He's now owner of a boat, but doesn't have a job. What he does have is his painting and his faithful dog, Van Gogh.

As she did with Kicking Eternity, Miller instantly creates a story filled with characters who tug at your heart, make you angry, or hope they will go away. Because of this strong first chapter, you want to continue to see if Cal can pull it all together.

File Size: 590 KB
Print Length: 280 pages
Publisher: Ann Lee Miller (September 15, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
SRP: $4.99

I received the first chapter of this book from the author. This First Chapter Review contains my honest opinions, for which I was not compensated in any way. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Interview with Ann Lee Miller, Author of The Art of My Life

Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her pastor husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.
Twitter: @AnnLeeMiller

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Miami, Stuart, and New Smyrna Beach, Florida. My dad built a 40-foot sailboat in our back yard that we ended up living aboard for a few years when I was an adolescent. This is why The Art of My Life is set on a sailboat.

When did you begin writing?

I always say I became a writer the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair. I was in fifth grade at St. Hugh’s Catholic School in Miami, knee deep in nouns and verbs, when Sister Sheila walked through the door in a new habit that showed two inches of mouse brown hair threaded with silver. She took a special interest in my writing during a year my parents’ marriage was in melt-down.

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

What is this book about?

Here’s the back cover:
Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters.

Aly has the business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a monster rummage sale and an affection for weed.

But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying.

For anyone who’s ever struggled to measure up. And failed.

What inspired you to write it?

My own family drama.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?


Barnes And Noble:


What is up next for you?

My next novel, Avra’s God launches in December, and Tattered Innocence in March.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Anyone who leaves a comment with an e-mail address will receive a free e-copy of the prequel, Kicking Eternity. Or you may request your free e-copy at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Giveaway: The Deliverer by Kathi Macias

The Deliverer picks up just months after Special Delivery leaves off, continuing with the stories of Mara, freed from slavery but still struggling with scars and memories from the past; Jonathan, attending Bible college but strongly drawn to Mara, despite her past; and Lawan, having escaped the brothel in Thailand and miraculously reunited with her younger sister in the US and adopted by the same family. Will Mara be able to move past the pain and hatred that bind her, even if it means traveling back to the place where her parents betrayed her and sold her into sexual slavery? Will she allow The Deliverer to set her free—once and for all?

Watch the trailer at!

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband. Her newest release is The Deliverer, the third and final book in her “Freedom” series. You can find out more about Kathi or contact her via her website:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Giveaway: Falstaff's Big Gamble by Hanke Quense

This novel 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.

Award-winning author Hank Quense writes humorous fantasy and sci-fi stories. His motto is fantasy and sci-fi stories told with humor and satire. He has over forty published short stories and a number of nonfiction articles. 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 lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife Pat. They have two daughters and five grandchildren.

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.

Visit Hank Quense at Strange Worlds
Visit Hank’s website


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Chapter Review: Autumn Winds by Charlotte Hubbard

This is a First Chapter Review of an Amish fiction book that I'll be reviewing at the end of the month for Pump Up Your Book.

 BLURB:  Winds of change are blowing through Willow Ridge, and they’re bringing a stranger to the Sweet Seasons Bakery. At first, widowed Miriam Lantz has misgivings about Ben Hooley, a handsome but rootless traveling blacksmith. But as she gets to know the kind-hearted newcomer, she wonders if his arrival was providential. Perhaps she could find love again—if only there weren’t so many obstacles in the way. With Bishop Knepp relentlessly pursuing her hand in marriage and the fate of her beloved café at stake, Miriam must listen to God and her heart to find the happiness she longs for and the love she deserves.

COVER: This genre is known for its beautiful covers. This one is no exception. I like the details and color scheme. Makes me think of fall right away. The woman on the front cover seems too young to be Miriam, but it's a stunning cover.

FIRST CHAPTER:  Rain is pelting the roof of the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café, where widow Miriam Lantz is working through her anxiety by starting the day's baking at an unusually early hour.

A loud crash and the sound of tinkling glass in the dining room draw her attention before the power goes out.  Then she hears a man's voice outside. As a flash of lightning brightens the sky, she sees a powerful horse bucking, then hears a sickening thud. She rushes out to assist whoever might have been injured. Little does she know what this will mean to her life.

KEEP READING: Definitely. I'm already through three chapters. This is the second book of Hubbard's Seasons of the Hearts series. I read the first one, Summer of Secrets, so Miriam Lantz is a familiar character. While her story is secondary in the first book, she takes front and center in this autumn story. Hubbard has a wonderful way with creating characters you can't help but care about. The woes Miriam dealt with in Book 1, continue to be an issue for her in Autumn Winds. While this is a stand alone novel, I like how it builds upon the first book. The reader can relate to the troubles Miriam faces, and that makes her a sympathetic character from the start. But she's a bold character, too, which can be a bit of a problem for her in the community where she lives, especially considering how the bishop views her being co-owner of the café.

Hubbard has a beautiful style that is comfortable and warm, just like you expect the café to be in Willow Ridge. I'm eager to keep reading.

Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zebra; Original edition (September 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1420121707
ISBN-13: 978-1420121704
SRP: $6.99

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author. A full review will follow on October 26th. This first chapter review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Guest Blogger: Karina Fabian, Author of I Left My Brains in San Francisco

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator--but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she's looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it'll be a working vacation after all.

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

A Day in Neeta’s Lyffe by Karina Fabian

Neeta woke up to the strains of Radioactive Sushi wailing about the glow and smacked off the alarm. Why had she set it so early?

Oh, yeah—dinner with Ted’s mom and cousins, but before that, four quarterly treatments, a new customer appraisal, and Mrs. Beechman. Doable before four, if they didn’t get a 9-1-1 zombie call, but they hadn’t had a zombie sighting in months. More likely, Mrs. Beechman would refuse to hear the doorbell again. Last time, it had taken her half an hour to get her attention. Why someone who lives alone needs to wear noise canceling headphones was beyond her.

Maybe the fates will give me a break. Neeta rose to shower.

Neeta left her house/office to find Ted already loading up her van—a squarish job with bolts and flat panels just like its Hummer predecessors but twice as badass, even painted light blue with the Lyffe-Undeath Exterminations logo splashed on the sides.

“Time’s a-wasting, boss!” he greeted her. “Mom will not accept that we’re late because we were spraying for ants, you know.” Nonetheless, he slipped his arm around her waist and kissed her cheek before they got in the van.

The quarterlies went well, but the new customer had a lot of questions and a big house. It was almost three before they got to Mrs. Beechman’s.

“You start on the outside while I try to get her to let us in,” Neeta said as they pulled up to her house.

“Uh, are you sure she’s here?”

“I double checked the schedule.” Neeta scowled as she regarded the overstuffed mailbox and the newspapers on the porch. “Tell you what: get started anyway; if she’s on vacation, we’ll call and leave a message.”

Neeta grabbed a trash bag from the back and stuffed the mail into it. She could either give it to her or hold onto it until she returned. Then, Mrs. Beechman would have to let her in.

She stuffed the newspapers into the bag, then rang the doorbell. Waited. Rang the bell. Knocked. Finally, she leaned over the porch so she could peek into the window. Yep. There she was, sitting at her desk, those annoying earphones on her head. Neeta banged the window as hard as she could without breaking it. With a daily routine of whacking dummy zombies with a chainsaw, that was plenty hard. Mrs. Beechman jerked and rose from her chair.

Neeta almost fell off the porch when she saw the decaying but mobile corpse. “Ted! We’ve got a dead one!”

She spun and jumped off the steps just as Mrs. Beechman flung open the door. Her undead hand lashed out and grabbed at the swinging bag. Short and dense, she nearly jerked Neeta off her feet.

“Maaaailll!” the zombie groaned.

Neeta release the bag with a shove in her direction and ran to her van.

By the time she and Ted had returned to the porch, suited and armed with monofilament swords, the Late Mrs. Beechman had settled cross-legged on the cement, dividing the mail while grunting, “Spam. Bills. Spam.” She came across the catalog for organic farming and pressed it to her chest. “Graaaains!”

Neeta swung. The single, thin thread of a blade sliced through her neck while the electrified field surrounding it cauterized the flesh. A neat kill, overall.

That didn’t erase the fact that they’d have to clean up, go through decontamination, and fill out the paperwork with the authorities, however. Neeta sighed. “Maybe you’d better call your mom and give her our regrets.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Ted said as he snaked an arm around her. “Such is a day in the life of a zombie exterminator.”

Damnation Books:
Amazon: Paperback  and Kindle
More about it at

“Are You the Next Zombie Idol” singing contest?

Damnation Books and Karina are looking for someone to sing the theme song she wrote for I Left My Brains in San Francisco. Karina has the words and the tune; but they need a singer. They are offering prizes for the best singer, the most creative audition video, and are giving one in ten entries a copy of the e-book. The details are at

Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem) and a Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky twists that keep her--and her fans--amused. Nuns working in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, zombie exterminators—there’s always a surprise in Fabian’s worlds. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online.

Google +:

<!--[if !supportMisalignedColumns]--> <!--[endif]-->
guest post on how the story came to be & review
Writer's Fun Zone  ILMBISF
guest post--writing plot or finding time to write
guest post--future tech
guest post
guest post from george or kim
keeping zombies fresh
Fun Facts About NLZE2

Guest Post--A catholic writes non-Catholic work
Guest Post-Writing Tips
Zombie Make-Up tutorial
guest post
guest post on zombies
Neeta Interview
Gust Post-Marketing Tips
Building Neeta's World
LIVE signing in Provo
Shambling in a Winter Wonderland
Zombie Idol Contest Ends

Review & Giveaway