Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Iconic Spirits by Mark Spivak (Kindle Fire HD Giveaway)

Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History is a fascinating and engaging look into twelve spirits that changed the world and ushered in a new cocktail culture. Written by award-winning writer Mark Spivak, who specializes in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel, these absorbing portraits of moonshine, vodka, Cognac, and more are complemented by historical photos and recipes.

What a refreshingly different offering to the world of non-fiction. While I only drink the occasional cocktail, I was drawn to Spivak's book for the history behind these spirits that had such an impact on our world. Who knew moonshine could be so thrilling? Full of interesting details on the societies and eras into which these spirits were born, this is how history should be shared. If all history books were this engaging, no one would ever complain of it being boring. And I have to admit Spivak's credentials indicated to me that he could bring this subject to life for the reader.

Spivak's wealth of knowledge combined with his conversational style make this book a winner. I couldn't tear myself away. I learned more about spirits and the world in the 250-plus pages of Iconic Spirits than I have in a long time.

Highly recommended.

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Lyons Press (November 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0762779268
ISBN-13: 978-0762779260
Also available in electronic format.

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.

Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the restaurant critic for Palm Beach Illustrated. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Ritz-Carlton, Continental, Art & Antiques, Newsmax, Dream of Italy and Arizona Highways. From 1999-2011 he hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio. Mark began writing Iconic Spirits after becoming fascinated with the untold stories behind the world’s greatest liquors. As a writer, he’s always searching for the unknown details that make his subjects compelling and unique.His latest book is Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Interview: Delia Latham, Author of Jewels for the Kingdom (Heart's Haven)

As you've probably noticed, I've been featuring books from the Heart's Haven series released by White Rose Publishing. Today, one of the authors, shares how this series came into being, what these books are about, and how you can find out more about the authors.

Born and raised in Weedpatch, California, Delia Latham moved to Oklahoma in '08, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. She's a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She loves Dr. Pepper and hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website (, blog, or Facebook author page.

Delia writes inspirational romance and women's fiction, and is currently contracted through White Rose Publishing and Vinspire Publishing.

Who came up with the idea of the Heart’s Haven series?

I did. I’ve always loved the Christmas collections Barbour publishes each year, and I wanted White Rose to do something similar, without copying their format. So I dreamed up the foundation for Heart’s Haven—the setting, the concept of an old guy who sees and speaks with angels, the legend of love that surrounds the property. Then I asked God which three Pelican Book Group authors I should try to get on board with me, and…well, here we are, with our Valentine’s Day collection.

Can you briefly tell us what each book is about?

Sure. How about I just give you the back cover blurbs from each book?

Jewels for the Kingdom (Heart’s Haven, Book 1)
by Delia Latham

Pia Peretti’s past could destroy her future. Thanks to her pre-Christian lifestyle, she can’t marry a believer, and she won’t marry a non-believer. Minister David Myers wants to help Pia release her guilt and trust that God has forgiven her...but the young minister is working through his own trial of faith.

After a failed counseling session with a wounded soul, David's confidence is shaken. He accepts a new pastorate, and moves to Angel Falls to find a haven for his wounded heart.

Is it possible these two hurting hearts are meant to mend each other’s brokenness with some divine intervention?

Operation Breathless (Heart’s Haven, Book 2)
by Marianne Evans

Psychologist Susanna Daniels helps troubled teens find their footing and their faith, but in the face of erroneous accusations, she's lost hope, wondering if her work at Wellsprings of Grace even makes a difference any more.

Detroit police officer Gabe Peretti has returned home to Angel Falls, Texas, burned out by the big city, his faith stretched to the breaking point by the badlands he's witnessed and tried so hard to change. He craves fresh perspective, and wisdom enough to discern God's will.

A sparkling kiss and an embattled young lady careening down the wrong path bring Susanna and Gabe together, sweeping them into a set of circumstances that will require enough faith to shine bright, and enough love to leave them both forever changed, and positively breathless.

Leap of Faith (Heart’s Haven, Book 3)
by Tanya Stowe

Zack Manning is a computer software genius and he’s just been offered a six-figure position in Manhattan. But for some reason, Zack can’t bring himself to accept the offer. Perhaps it has something to do with his free-spirited neighbor, Zoe Wyndham. Zack thinks Zoe’s pretty, but she’s far too kooky for him. Still, he takes a second look when she arrives at his front door with a message about his job.

Zoe’s been attracted to Zack for a while, but he’s not her type. He's business-minded, serious, successful—certainly not the type to go into the mission field, and that's her plan. She would just be a kink in his well-ordered life. So when Zack finally looks her way, Zoe doesn’t expect much, but he's constantly on her mind.

Then there's his recent change of heart where she's concerned. Zoe’s convinced the resident angels at Heart’s Haven have something to do with it, and while she doesn't understand, she may just have to take a leap of faith.

Dance with Me (Heart’s Haven, Book 4)
by Mary Manners

Scorned by an ex-fiance who dumped her on their wedding day, Kaci James vows to never fall in love again. She's content to teach English at Angel Falls High School and moonlights at the Angel Falls Trumpet as an advisor for a romance column—Love's Lesson.

Plagued by the senseless death of a teen on his watch, patrolman Ryne Calvert feels he's failed in the line of duty—and as a man. His new job as the resource officer at Angel Falls High will give him a chance to redeem himself—and to be closer to the elusive and lovely Kaci. Though he longs for more than friendship, Kaci thwarts his advances. She's hiding her heart from him, but why?

When Ryne, on a dare, seeks advice from Love's Lessons, he and Kaci begin the dance of romance. But when Kaci's secret is revealed, will the music end—forever?

What was the inspiration for your novella?

Jewels for the Kingdom was inspired by an online friend who owns and operates a Christian jewelry business, The Master’ Jewels. I loved her references to “Spirit-filled jewelry” and “adorning the bride.” She told me about giving her pieces to certain people as the Spirit gave her little nudges and signs, and I was absolutely fascinated by the whole thing. With her permission, I built my story around that concept.

How much interaction took place among the authors during the writing of the stories?

None of us had ever met when we started the project, other than through our Pelican Book Group author loop. But I can’t help feeling Heart’s Haven was a God-thing from the very beginning. We worked together very closely, making sure details coincided and that there were no glaring contradictions from one book to the next. In the process, we formed a very special bond. A couple of us have since had the opportunity to meet face to face. Mary Manners and Marianne Evans met at a conference where they taught a workshop together. And I was hugely blessed by the opportunity to meet Tanya Stowe when both of us happened to be in California at the same time during 2012. I feel as if I gained three sisters through Heart’s Haven.

What have you been doing individually and as a team to market these books?

We have a Heart’s Haven Facebook page, where we interact with readers and launch each book as it releases. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the reception Heart’s Haven has received, and we’re so pleased that readers seem to love it! Then, of course, each of us does our own thing as far as guest blogging, interviews, etc. We’ve done character interviews, which we all really enjoyed. And we created a fictional news reporter from the fictional newspaper, The Angel Falls Trumpet. Belle Eyre’s articles have shown up on several blogs, talking about Heart’s Haven and the angelic activity there. It’s been great fun!

Where can readers find out more?

Each of our websites (listed below) include information about Heart’s Haven, and all the books are listed on our publisher’s website, Then, of course, there’s our Heart’s Haven Facebook page, where all four authors and their heroines hang out and chat with readers. All the books are available on Kindle, Nook, and other e-book formats.

And since you’ve been such a wonderful hostess, I will let you in on a little secret. Other Heart’s Haven books are contracted and will be released over the next couple of years. So the fun isn’t ending with this first collection. We’re all very excited about that.

Here are links to all Heart’s Haven author websites:

Delia Latham—
Tanya Stowe—
Marianne Evans—
Mary Manners—

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Bloggers: Larry K. and Lorna Collins, Authors of Murder in Paradise

On an early morning paddle, Agapé Jones' outrigger team finds a body in the water off Maui, thrusting him into unexpected danger.

Agapé Jones, retired NYPD detective, is asked to act as special investigator in the murder of famous surfer Philip Fowler, the son of Hawaii State Senator Thomas Fowler. The assignment takes Agapé to the North Shore of Oahu where he discovers that he’s investigating more than just a murder. The young man had no enemies, and Agapé is frustrated by little evidence and few possible suspects.

Agapé enjoys exercising his old skills, but he misses his wife, Gerry. He encounters several people who become more than acquaintances, and in the end, discovers the truth. Murder in Paradise allows readers to discover the answers along with the detective while experiencing a virtual trip to the real Paradise that is Hawaii.

Murder…We Wrote?
by Larry and Lorna Collins

We never intended to write mysteries. In fact, we only meant to finish our memoir about living in Osaka, Japan to build the Universal Studios Japan theme park, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park.

On Labor Day weekend of 2005, the year our book was published, we attended the now-defunct Maui Writers Conference. We learned a lot there, but we were also launched on the adventure of mystery writing.

Lorna had already started her still-incomplete romance novel, but Larry wasn’t writing anything. We attended a workshop called “You’re Published, Now What?” The first question asked by the speaker was, “So now that you have your first book published, what’s your next one?” He went on to explain that publishing your first book is like giving your teenager the keys to the car and watching them pull out of the driveway. They’re now on their own. Your job as a writer is done.

At the end of the same session, the conference director announced that the poet had fallen on the stairs, and although he’d be fine, his classes had been cancelled. Larry suddenly thought, What if the poet was found dead at the bottom of the stairs? During the weekend, we’d met quite a few quirky authors, so there was plenty of fodder for suspects. He had the idea for his next book.

The next day, we met a man we’d seen managing security for the conference. We stopped to chat with him for about ten minutes. As we walked away, Lorna turned to Larry and said, “We have to write that guy.” Thus Agapé Jones, retired NYPD detective, and our mystery collaboration were born.

After the third rewrite of our memoir, we’d figured out how to work together as a team. But this was a whole new venture.

The nice thing about two authors is that the characters can also have separate and distinct voices. Larry writes the macho hero types. But he also writes most of the little old ladies. He covers the factual stuff, and Lorna handles the emotions. Somehow, it works.

We’ve always loved to read cozy mysteries, but we discovered writing them was a huge challenge. Your suspects have to be credible with believable motives. They also have to appear to have opportunity. And all the red herrings and false storylines must be wrapped up by the end.

When we finished the first book, Murder…They Wrote, set at a fictional writers’ conference on Maui, we asked our proofreader to have a look at the manuscript before we submitted it. When she’d finished, we asked if she’d figured it out. She said she had. Then we asked her when. She replied, “At the same time as the protagonist.” That’s the best answer we could have received.

Even though we left no question about the solution, at least three people have told us, “I know the answer, but I still wonder if [character X] wasn’t involved.” Each of them named a different character!

We thought we were finished with mysteries, but our protagonist just wouldn’t stay retired. So we wrote Murder in Paradise to pull him out of retirement. And he keeps telling us he has at least two more stories to tell.

By the way, the fellow who inspired Agapé Jones is now a good friend. Strangely enough, when we’ve talked to him about what we’ve written, we quite often discover he is doing the same things as Agapé! We must have a telepathic connection.

The best thing about writing the series is that we have to visit Hawaii from time to time for ‘research.’ We were in Oahu at the time we received the edits for Murder in Paradise. Fortunately we’d discovered that a restaurant we’d mentioned in the manuscript had moved. We were able to change the manuscript before it was published to include its current location.

After our most recent trip to Maui, we’re back to work on the next one, Murder on Maui. We already know the basic plotline. Now if we can just decide what our perpetrator can add to a glass of wine to imitate a heart attack…

Lorna Lund and Larry Collins were both raised in Alhambra, California. They attended grammar and high school together. Larry went to California Polytechnic College in Pomona, and Lorna attended California State College at Los Angeles. They have been married for over forty-seven years.

Larry’s job as an engineer involved him in various projects throughout the United States and around the world. Lorna was employed in Document Control, Data Management, IT Change Management, Editing, and Technical Writing.

They both worked in Osaka on the Universal Studios Japan theme park. Larry was a Project Engineer, responsible for the Jurassic Park, JAWS and WaterWorld attractions. Lorna was the Document Control Supervisor in Osaka.

Their memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: TheBuilding of a Theme Park was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and named as one of Rebeccas Reads Best Nonfiction books of 2005.

Their mysteries, Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise were published by Whiskey Creek Press in ebook and paperback formats. They plan several more in this series.

In addition, Lorna has written four romance anthologies and a fantasy/mystery/romance called Ghost Writer. Larry has also published a collection of short stories entitled Lakeview Park.

All their books are available from the publishers, on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Nook, their website (, and other online book outlets. Follow Lorna’s blog at And follow her on Twitter @LornaCollins.

Lorna & Larry now reside in Dana Point, CA where Larry enjoys surfing nearly every day and Lorna spends time with family and friends. They have several more books in the queue.

Guest Blogger: Addie Greene, Author of How the Wind Laughed

Addie Greene’s memoir, How the Winds Laughed, which recounts the author’s adventure sailing around the world in a 28-foot boat, began as ninety articles written for the Santa Barbara News-Press. Addie says, “Turning the articles into creative non-fiction with scenes, dialogue, and dramatic tension was like trying to reattach the shed hairs to my golden lab, Daphne. My critique group was of immense help. Then my editor, Molly Tinsley, took over and advised me to turn the dog hair into a fur coat.”

In the beginning, Addie Greene is afraid to climb a mast, even at dock, or change sails on a bucking foredeck washed with breaking waves. Yet as she and her young husband take on the “great adventure” of circumnavigation in a 28-foot boat, a succession of catastrophes demands that she become the driving force in carrying them forward and eventually safely home.

How the Winds Laughed sails on the wings of hope, fear, anger, and love across three oceans and more than 30,000 miles. A coming-of-age quest, it drenches the dreams of Don Quixote with the ignoble reality of Sancho Panza.

The Enemy: Fear
by Addie Greene

During a storm at sea, the assault by the elements is so unrelenting that time stands still. Your morale sinks and so does your threshold of fatigue. You feel your mortality. This is the source of the sea’s power—it takes over your soul and turns it inside out.

In the seventies, my husband, Pete Eastman, and I sailed around the world in our 28-foot boat, Wa, a tale I tell in my memoir How the Winds Laughed. One of my most vivid lessons in fear began in the south Pacific, between the islands of Abemama and Tarawa. The 86-mile trip had begun easily enough, with the wind blowing 20 knots behind us and clumps of thunderheads scudding along the horizon. I sleepily crawled into bed for a nap.

The wind began to build and the seas with it, so that soon the crashing and banging upon the bow made my bed roll and sound as if it were a barrel being dashed down Niagara Falls. By late afternoon Wa had sailed into the line of squalls, and there was little chance Pete could take star sights to fix our position in relation to Maiana, an atoll about 18 miles south of our course. Even in broad daylight Maiana would be visible only from about 10 miles; at night during a storm I feared Wa would be swept onto its reef and dashed to pieces.

Suddenly the wind blasted as if it were going to pick Wa up off the face of the sea.

“Take the tiller!” cried Pete, stumbling forward to take down the sails as the gale carried away his glasses.

“Oh my God, what’s happening?” I yelled . The force of the howling wind had flattened the waves, so that the sea looked quite calm. But it was bubbling on the surface and seemed to seethe underneath with motion. Spray came off its face like smoke. The raindrops pelted so hard they felt like fistfuls of rock salt being hurled by some giant hand.

The seas mounted from 10 feet, to 12, to 15, and then finally the wind abated. Pete put up the jib to give Wa stability, and the 105-square-foot scrap of sail drove us forward at five knots. I still kept a weather eye, looking back and forth from the compass. When a wave larger than the rest came, I turned Wa downwind, petrified that the next wave would roll us over as Wa struggled to right herself.

For eight hours, I was deathly afraid, fear the like of which I never had felt. But I mastered it, kept the ship on course, and in the mastering I touched something deep inside my soul. The sea no longer was my enemy. Fear was my enemy.

To find out more about our adventures, read my memoir, How the Winds Laughed,

After growing up close to the land on a California ranch, Addie Greene met a man who taught her the glories of the sea. In 1971, the pair decided to sail around the world in a 28-foot boat. She went on to raise two children and pursue a writing career. She lives in Ashland, Oregon, and though 150 miles inland, she can still hear the winds laugh.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Catch Me Tonight on Blog Talk Radio! -- VBTs

TODAY on TALK RADIO NETWORK! Special Guest, Cheryl C. Malandrinos, has been coordinating virtual book tours since 2007. In “Coordinating A Virtual Book Tour,” she shares her years of experience in how to reach out to bloggers to host your tour, provides ideas for guest posts (300-500 word articles), teaches how to write a press release, shares tips on how to stay organized and ways to promote your virtual book tour.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos has been coordinating virtual book tours through Pump Up Your Book since September 2007. She is a freelance writer, children’s author and editor. A member of the SCBWI, she is also a book reviewer and blogger.

To listen TODAY at 6:30est – click:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Character Interview: Kaci James from Dance With Me by Mary Manners (Heart's Haven)

Scorned by an ex-fiance who dumped her on their wedding day, Kaci James vows to never fall in love again. She's content to teach English at Angel Falls High School and moonlights at the Angel Falls Trumpet as an advisor for a romance column--Love's Lessons.

Plagued by the senseless death of a teen on his watch, patrolman Ryne Calvert feels he's failed in the line of duty--and as a man. His new job as the resource officer at Angel Falls High will give him a chance to redeem himself--and to be closer to the elusive and lovely Kaci. Though he longs for more than friendship, Kaci thwarts his advances. She's hiding her heart from him, but why?

When Ryne, on a dare, seeks advice from Love's Lessons, he and Kaci begin the dance of romance. But when Kaci's secret is revealed, will the music end--forever?

Character Interview with Kaci James

Hello, I’m here today talking with the delightful Kaci James from Dance With Me, by Mary Manners:

Hi, Kaci! It’s so nice to have you here today! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure. I teach English at Angel Falls High, where my friend and neighbor here at Heart’s Haven, Ryne Calvert, has just become the resource officer.

You're just friends?

Well, maybe we’re just a bit more than friends. I guess you could say we’re still trying to put together the pieces to THAT particular puzzle! I’m just not sure he’d approve of my secret, given the circumstances.

Your secret?

Yes. You see, I moonlight as an advice columnist for the Angel Falls Trumpet. And let’s just say that Ryne’s written in for some advice. Oh, I didn’t know it was him when the letters began to arrive—not at first, at least. But now…

When do you plan to spill the beans?

That’s a tough one. Soon, very soon…

Hope it turns out well. In the meantime, may we have a glimpse into Dance With Me?

Sure. Here you go. Happy Reading!

Kaci settled in at the computer desk and yawned. It was late, and she should be thinking about hitting the sack—not composing advice for the Love’s Lessons column. Yet, she knew people depended on her, and she wouldn’t dream of letting the readers down.

That was a close call…leaving the letters out where Ryne could easily see them. What was I thinking, being so careless?

Had he noticed them? Kaci shook her head. If he had, he would have asked about them. So she was pretty sure he hadn’t. But he was a detective, and detectives were trained to notice things.

No…no way.

She reached for the first envelope. Again, she thought of how familiar the print looked, and was sure she’d seen it before. She tore open the envelope.

Dear Love’s Lessons,
How do you tell someone you love her when you’re not sure she wants to be loved? And how do you make her see that she’s worthy of your love, when her heart’s been broken by another guy? So far, your advice has been a big help, so I’ll take any suggestions you have.
Looking for Answers

Kaci pulled off her glasses and sighed as she rubbed the bridge of her nose. This one hit close to home. She set it aside and examined the letters left in the stack. She’d answer them first, and then come back to this later…or in the morning.

But the words tugged at her, and she wondered who Looking for Answers might be. He never used a return address. Kaci picked up the letter again and thought of Ryne. If anyone could make her even consider falling in love again, it was him. He was kind and patient, with a great sense of humor, and he cared about kids as much as she did. And he was easy on the eyes, too.

Kaci booted up her computer and logged into the Love’s Lessons site. Then she began to type.

Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.

Mary’s debut novel, Mended Heart, was nominated Best Inspirational Romance 2010, and was finalist for the Bookseller’s Best Award and her follow-up, Tender Mercies, was awarded an outstanding 4 ½ star rating from The Romantic Times Book Reviews and was also a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Buried Treasures, her third novel, was named Book of the Year by The Wordsmith Journal. Light the Fire, her fourth novel, took top honors for the 2012 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Mary was named Author of the Year by Book and Trailer Showcase. She writes romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.

Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: and at her author pages at and

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Interview with Stefan Vucak, Author of Cry of Eagles

Stefan Vucak is an award-winning author of seven techno sci-fi novels, including With Shadow and Thunder which was a 2002 EPPIE finalist. His Shadow Gods Saga books have been highly acclaimed by critics. His recent release, Cry of Eagles, won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award. Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry and applied that discipline to create realistic, highly believable storylines for his books. Born in Croatia, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Visit the Author:


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

As a kid, I liked doing things all other kids liked doing - until I discovered books, an illustrated copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas. After that, I was gone, lost in the universes those books opened up for me and dreaming of creating my own. I had a great time at school, even though English and its convoluted grammar rules did give me some trouble, but those rules gave me a grounding how to write. My first effort was pretty awful and I am glad it will never see the light of day. That thing went through two rewrites, but it still isn’t something I want to share. Call it my training wheels.

My first successful book, although not perfect, a science fiction work, was presentable and I tried for a long time to break into the traditional publishing market while holding down a demanding job in the IT industry, which kept me very busy. But writing has always been a passion and a drive, and I kept at it in my spare time. When ebook publishing took off, I at least got my books out to readers. I have been writing for more than ten years and still learning, but I like to think that my latest works are something I am proud to share. These days, I am no longer in the IT industry and I spend my time writing, reviewing and being a hard-nosed editor.

Where did you grow up?

I have vivid memories of my childhood in Croatia, but when my family immigrated to Australia, I really grew up in Melbourne. The place was a lot different then, not the bustle and impersonal steel and concrete of today. Perhaps that’s progress. I was educated in Melbourne and spent most of my professional life working there, except for the three years in the Middle East - an eye-opening experience.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Looking back on those times, there are a number of fond experience that spring to mind. I do recall with a smile when I used to walk to school. I didn’t have a bicycle at the time. I gathered pebbles off the road and took potshots at bottles in the gutter. But I liked summers best. I would walk to a creek not too far from where we lived and explore the meandering waters, enjoying the hot sun and being totally carefree. I’m not so carefree these days...

When did you begin writing?

I always wanted to write. As far back as I can remember, the printed word held a fascination that allowed me to escape into other worlds, other characters. For an imaginative kid, it was better than candy - almost. Where I attended primary school, there was a small library at the top of the street, which I made my own. I remember bringing books home to my mother’s vast amusement and my father’s disapproving frown. He never had much time for books or learning, but I cannot hold that against him. He did not have the opportunities I had, but at least he made sure I had them.

At school, I loved my essay writing assignments, even though many of my classmates found it an agonizing chore. I could never figure out what was the big deal. My specialty was using elaborate flowery language. I loved adjectives, sometimes to excess. But nobody could describe a sunset, a moonlit night or the booming of crashing surf like I could. The one thing my writing lacked was people. It took me a while to make the connection. Prose was great, but great writing had to involve people, drama, conflict, emotion and everyday life. When I learned to write dialogue, everything clicked, or so I thought. Man, how I labored to learn what good dialogue was all about! You can have brilliant narrative, but crummy dialogue will sink you. I still haven’t stopped writing and learning how to do it.

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

I am a morning person, a result of having to get up early over the years to go to work, and that’s when I like to write. That discipline hasn’t left me and I still get up early. I am fresh and my mind is charged, ready to go - most of the time. I find I am most productive during the first half of the day. In the afternoon, I spend transcribing material from my notebook into the computer and doing initial editing. Although I don’t normally write in the evening, sometimes I do. It all depends on inspiration and what I am writing about at the time. There are also moments when I wake up in the middle of the night when an idea pops up and I simply have to jot it down.

What is this book about?

Cry of Eagles is about a Mossad conspiracy to drag America into a war. Iran’s nuclear capability represents a clear national threat to Israel. Although concerned, the United States and Europe are reluctant to increase sanctions. Frustrated that nothing is being done, Mossad decides to force the United States into action. A black ops team sabotages a refinery complex in Galveston and plants evidence that incriminates Iran, confident that an enraged America will retaliate. Congress and the public urge the U.S. president to bomb Iran, but the administration lacks direct evidence. With carriers positioned in the Gulf ready to strike, the world waits to see if the Middle East will explode into open conflict. With tension mounting, the FBI uncovers a shocking truth. It wasn’t Iran at all, but Israel! A government falls and America forces Israel to confront the Palestinian problem.

What inspired you to write it?

Well, having written seven science fiction books in my Shadow Gods Series, I decided to make a foray into contemporary fiction, hoping it might give me a better chance of getting with a traditional publisher. I’m still hoping. Having been interested in Middle Eastern politics, and world geopolitics in general, for some time, seeing what is happening in Israel and the misery inflicted on the Palestinians, I saw a story in it. Cry of Eagles touches a possible raw nerve, looking as it does at some of the history behind the Israeli/Palestinian problem, unwillingness by the American administration to broker a settlement, Mossad prepared to do anything to further Israeli interests, how the FBI operates, makes for what seems a unique treatment of the topic. I hope it is also an entertaining yarn.

Who is your favorite author?

Looking back, a number of writers influenced me. During my science fiction phase, two stand out: Roger Zelazny and Keith Laumer. When his writing was good and before he descended into sorcery and mysticism, Zelazny had an evocative, deceptively easy style that was a pleasure to read. When I can reread a book several times and still enjoy it, that’s my view of a great book, and Zelazny had several. His mixture of characterization and action was finely balanced, allowing the reader to fill in missing pieces, to become part of the story.

Keith Laumer had an irreverent, sardonic writing style that blasted my sensibilities and often amused me. Some of his stuff was terrible, but a lot was extremely entertaining. In the end, that was all that mattered. His writing style left an impression on me, as looking back, I find my main characters being slightly dismissive of authority and impudent, but still good at what they were doing.

Since my sci-fi days, I sampled writers from other genres. I like Stephen Coonts, at least his early works. Sadly, he descended into trash popularism, culminating with Saucer, a truly awful book. But a couple of hundred books later, the techno thriller genre gave me a solid grounding into the workings of governments, spy agencies, the military, and war machinery of all kind. It was a good launching platform for my own contemporary novels.

I guess every author I came across must have left an impression, especially if I bought more than one of his works. They all talk to me from somewhere in my mind as I put my own words down on paper.

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

Having finished my first book, a science fiction work, which has expanded into seven books in a series, I thought all the hard work was behind me. How many years ago was that! It seems like a different lifetime. Back then, there was no Internet to help writers, and although there were books telling you how to format and submit your manuscript, I didn’t have them. My formatting did not conform to the requirements and my submissions resulted in a pile of rejection letters. All very frustrating, seeing some of the stuff that got published. Along the way, I tried getting an agent, but that didn’t work out. With the Ebook market opening up, I found immediate success, but I am still trying to break into the traditional publishing market.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Readers can purchase my books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other Ebook outlets. They can also be found at my publisher sites:
Solstice Publishing:
Double Dragon Publishing:

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

I have a website that lists my books and where readers can contact me. My blog has some posts and articles.

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

If there is one thing I learned over the years as a writer, if anyone is contemplating taking this on seriously, he should be prepared to spend many lonely hours with a pencil and paper, and sitting behind a computer screen. There will be disappointments, frustration, angst ... and moments of sheer exhilaration and satisfaction when the words flow and the creative process produces something wonderful. Writing is a gift, but it can also be a curse. But once bitten with the urge to create, there is no cure.

What is up next for you?

Having finished a contemporary drama novel, due out next year, I decided to return to my Shadow Gods series and write one last book about Terrllss-rr, his loved one Teena and his battle against the Celi-Kran. At least I think it will be the last book. Fates can be funny that way. It’s a big universe I created and there is lots of room for more books. It has been a number of years since I finished the last novel in the series, but I never felt comfortable that things were complete. My current work should put a cap on it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Spotlight: Two Ways to Sunday by Tom Starita

Chris Marcum was a man who had everything. The perfect wife, the perfect job, and the perfect life. He was also sure his belief in God did not depend on those successes. So when an angel appeared to him on his deathbed with a challenge to prove the depths of his faith, Chris immediately accepted.

Relive your life, with no recollection. This time however, without the breaks.

What happens when instead of going right, you go left?

What if there are no happy endings?

How much can a man endure before he hits his breaking point?

And what happens then?

Read the reviews

"Very emotional and powerful story that reaffirms my faith in a plan for each of us."

-- asics33, Amazon reviewer

"I usually read a book, put it down, pick up another book and repeat. Seldom do I give the storyline or characters a second thought once I'm finished. I did however find it difficult after reading Two Ways To Sunday to simply move on to the next book. The main character and subject matter haunted me. I couldn't help wondering what I would've done in Chris Marcum's place. In addition to the thought provoking story this book had perfect cadence, defined characters and was sprinkled with enough humor to balance out the sorrow. I sincerely recommend this book, you'll find yourself invested even after you turn the last page."

--gPerri, Barnes and Noble reviewer

"What a fantastic book! I started off intending to read a few chapters per day, but wound up finishing the book in two nights. Great characters with a great plot. There's a lot of humor in the book, but also a shocking amount of emotion. I must admit, I started tearing up at the end. Definitely recommended to everyone else, you won't regret reading this one!"

--Suz1234SA, Barnes and Noble reviewer





Tom Starita has two passions in life, writing and the New York Mets. Both have taken years off his life. He spent seven years teaching high school religion, six months as an office manager and is currently in sales. The only goal he ever had was to be published. His dream is to spend the rest of his life lounging in a pool with a book. Tom loves to laugh, loves to make people laugh and most of all loves his beautiful wife Kristina who he calls Lady. They currently reside in Weehawken, New Jersey with their dog, Tzatziki.

The Facebook fan page:

My Twitter page:

First Chapter Review: The Book of Life by Paul Zecos

I received the first chapter of The Book of Life: The Theory of Everything from author Paul Zecos.

BLURB: The Book of Life proposes and proves the physics Theory of Everything (TOE) that integrates well-known and accepted current theories of physics.

The Theory of Everything (TOE) is then shown to apply to psychology, business and economics, that further validates the TOE.

Based on the TOE, solutions to the current political and socioeconomic problems of humanity are proposed, using an entertaining fictitious story to keep the reader engaged.

The Book of Life also explains the intent and meanings of the seven Spirits of God, explains the Spirit of each of the seven great religions of the world, and advocates the way for the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth.

COVER: Perfect for the topic. Exactly what I would expect.

FIRST CHAPTER:  The author sent along the Introduction and the first two chapters, but after reading them, I have to admit I am confused. I honestly don't know what the focus of the book is, and therefore, it's difficult for me to write an accurate synopsis.

I look above and see the blurb that I copied from Amazon, and while I read elements of everything mentioned above--physics, psychology, business, economics, and spirituality--in the end, I'm so overwhelmed I must have missed the point.

If I take the first two chapters alone, without reading the Introduction, I am left with a discussion on "Life and Death" or Eternal Life, and The Kingdom of God and expressions of love.

KEEP READING: I can't say I would, and mainly that's because I'm too confused over what this book is actually about. I understand the author is sharing his beliefs with the reader. I pick up in Chapter 2 that he believes the largest problem with the great religions is "(too much emphasis on religious rituals and traditions and) too little emphasis on the Spirit of Loving others by which believers are asked to operate through."

The Introduction refers to a fictional story that will explore and explain what is mentioned in the Introduction, but I didn't come across it in the first two chapters, so I'm not sure what he is referring to. My main concern, however, is that the author talks down to the reader. He appears to be saying anyone who doesn't believe the way he does is wrong. In the Introduction, he goes as far to say, "...I explain God." I'm not sure what he meant by that, but it gave me pause.

This might be something you would be interested in. And if you are enlightened by it and understand it better than I did, I would love to read your thoughts.

File Size: 364 KB
Print Length: 154 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: ALTRUTECH LLC.; First Edition edition (December 21, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

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

Cover Reveal: Changing Tracks by Sarah Cass

There is nothing simple about forgetting your past.

Cole Mitchell runs the busiest saloon and brothel in Dominion Falls. He makes time with his women, makes a killing gambling, and exerts his power how he pleases. One thing he never does is let anyone in.

Until the day she falls into his saloon bleeding and near death. He saves her from the pine box, and finds he can’t walk away. The problem is, if he lets her get close he could relive his past – and he worked too hard to forget it.

She wakes with no memory, only the firm belief that someone wanted her dead. With no name she keeps ‘Jane Doe’ and tries to carve out a life. She finds herself drawn to Cole, and they start a fiery relationship that sets the whole town talking. Their pasts – her lack of, and his buried – keep them from admitting the depth of their feelings, but they find they only trust each other.

Through the chaos of renegade Indian raids, an abandoned husband and her recurring nightmares they fight to find the truth of what happened to her. She soon learns that sometimes the truth is the last thing you want to learn, and she starts to think it may be best to leave the past where it is.

That past isn’t that willing to let go. A stranger proves that he’s willing to kill to keep his secrets safe. If Jane doesn’t remember soon, everyone she loves will be in danger.

Coming soon from Secret Cravings Publishing!

Guest Blogger: Molly Best Tinsley, Author of Entering the Blue Stone

What happens when one's larger than life military parents: disciplined, distinguished, exacting, begin sliding out of control? The General struggles to maintain his invulnerable facade against Parkinson's disease; his lovely wife manifests a bizarre dementia. Their three grown children, desperate to save the situation, convince themselves of the perfect solution: an upscale retirement community. But as soon as their parents have been resettled within its walls, the many imperfections of its system of care begin to appear.

Charting the line between comedy and pathos, Molly Best Tinsley's memoir, Entering the Blue Stone, dissects the chaos at the end of life and discovers what shines beneath: family bonds, the dignity of even an unsound mind, and the endurance of the heart.

Search for the Soul
by Molly Best Tinsley

Entering the Blue Stone is a memoir of my parents’ final years, when my father was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, and my mother was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My siblings and I had to move them from their home to an independent living apartment in a continuing care facility, then to the assisted living wing, and finally to the nursing home on the bottom floor. It’s a fairly common experience nowadays, but it feels extraordinary when it happens to you, a cross between a comedy of errors, a crusade for humane treatment, and, of course, a prolonged funeral.

At first my motive in writing was to tell a cautionary tale so that other families might begin this end-of-life process with more information. And certainly there are plenty of advisories in our story. But what we went through wasn’t just an ordeal. The experience reawakened deep connections with my siblings and also a love for our parents we had simply taken for granted over the years. We laughed together as much as we cried. As a family, we were navigating a crazy world. How many times we felt as if the administrative staff had lost their minds while those with diagnosed dementia exemplified grace and a certain common sense! And that feeling led to the most important insight of all—the loss of logic, cognition, and many aspects of personality does not strip the elderly of their humanity. They must still be acknowledged as emotional individuals, unique souls.

After two years, our parents received their final “demotion” to the nursing unit. Following horrific actions on the part of the staff, which I recount in Blue Stone, my father survived there exactly two weeks. Our mother’s journey would be very different. My brother checked in on her every day; my sister and I flew in for a weekend a month and spent long stretches with her in what became the Alzheimer’s ward. And we began to look forward to these visits!

Time stopped, to-do lists were left at the door—we settled into the lounge and chatted with our mother and any other resident who happened by. We introduced ourselves again and again, often to the same person. We learned to watch for cues and listen for subtext in these conversations. If we could let go of our need for them to “make sense,” they often did make sense. We learned that this memory impairment business takes countless forms—Ray never lost the gallantry of gentleman; Marie never lost her ability to find the right tone and timing in her verbal responses, even if the words themselves were “off.” Louise retained her ability to play solitaire, and to clunk around in Dr. Scholl’s wood-soled sandals.

I guess the “moral of the story,” as my dad used to say, was to sink into the experience instead of fighting it—instead of grieving, or resenting, the severely diminished capacities of the elderly, to acknowledge their alternate universe and appreciate the signs of the special spirits which remain.

Air Force brat Molly Best Tinsley taught on the civilian faculty at the United States Naval Academy for twenty years and is the institution’s first professor emerita. Author of My Life with Darwin (Houghton Mifflin) and Throwing Knives (Ohio State University Press), she also co-authored Satan’s Chamber (Fuze Publishing) and the textbook, The Creative Process (St. Martin’s). Her fiction has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sandstone Prize, and the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been read and produced nationwide.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First Chapter Review: Death of a Clown by Heather Haven

I had the opportunity to help Heather Haven promote the first book in her humorous P.I. novel, Murder is a Family Business, Book One of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery series. I also wrote a First Chapter Review of her seasonal mystery, Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum. When she mentioned she had a new book coming out at the end of January, I was eager to take a peek at it. Death of a Clown is a stand alone mystery noir novel set in the early 1940s.

BLURB:  Up and coming performer, Jeri Deane, finds a young clown strangled inside a beloved lion's cage. The town sheriff's threat to close down the Big Top won't stop her from finding his killer. Beneath the spangles and sawdust of the canvas sky, Jeri uncovers deceit, treachery, and secrets more dangerous than any death-defying trick in the circus. Even she has much to hide. If the Big Top survives the season, will she be able to face her own hidden past?

Written by the daughter of real-life circus performers, former Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey trapeze artist and elephant trainer, Heather Haven brings the daily existence of the circus during World War II to life, embellished by her own murderous imagination.

COVER:  I love historical photos, so it was a given this one would catch my eye. This is actually a picture of the author's mother. I love how Haven is using her family history for this novel, so this cover photo is an extra treat.

FIRST CHAPTER: Jeri Deane is practicing her trapeze act when a blood-curdling scream fills the air. She and another circus perfomer approach the lion's cage to find Catalena, a sixteen-year-old assistant knife thrower leaning over the body of Eddie Connors. The youngest of the clowns, Eddie had felt the circus was his new home. A quick view of the surroundings tells Jeri this wasn't an accident.

KEEP READING: Oh my gosh, yes! I love when an author or artist can show her versatility, which is what Haven has done here. Her earlier books are light and humorous with witty, smart female leads. From the opening lines of Death of a Clown, Haven's voice is there, but the climate, the tone, even the manner of description is decidedly different. And it's more than just a sub-genre change. Haven has gotten into this character's head and dissected everything she feels, so that it comes out in a powerful, gripping manner. I was hooked with the first sentence, and wanted to immediately push aside everything else I was reading to continue.

Strong female characters are Haven's trademark. While this novel is unlike what she has written in the past, she does not abandon her brand. Readers of her previous books will find much to enjoy in Death of a Clown. I am going to go out on a limb here and say this is her best work yet. I must find a way to make room for this in my reading schedule. I'm totally hooked!

Coming soon from
 The Wives of Bath Press!

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

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tessa Stockton's The Unspeakable Book Blast and Giveaway

Who said forgiveness was easy?

When a furtive conflict is pitted between violent leftist guerrillas and a rightwing paramilitary group in Colombia, a North American woman mistakenly gets caught in the middle.

“I spent four months, one week and two days in a clandestine prison referred to as The Water Cave. Every day I stared hell in the face, and each day I wanted to die. I don’t want to share too much too quickly. To understand fully, you must join hands with me, fasten your heart to mine, and course through my book. Stumble over the incomprehensible human rights journey with me. I’ve pondered it to the brink of questionable sanity, and it is the only way. It’s the only way to explain. I suppose I should consider myself lucky I survived at all—for many did not—yet, perplexingly so, that’s not the premise of this narrative.

He altered my life, marked me forever.

But it’s not how you might imagine.

This is a story involving Horacio Botello, my torturer known as Puma.”

Purchase your copy:

The Unspeakable Tour Schedule:

Monday, January 14

Literarily Speaking

Day By Day In Our World

Freda’s Voice

Tuesday, January 15

My Cozie Corner
Mary’s Cup of Tea

Wednesday, January 16

Bless Their Hearts Mom
My Devotional Thoughts

Thursday, January 17

Fantasy Pages
Community Bookstop

Friday, January 18

Book Cover Justice
Reviews by Molly

Monday, January 21

The Book Connection
The Paperback Pursuer

Tuesday, January 22

Thoughts in Progress
Carol’s Notebook

Wednesday, January 23

As the Pages Turn
Celtic Lady’s Reviews
Sara’s Organized Chaos

Thursday, January 24

Books Books and More Books
Miki’s Hope

Friday, January 25

Broken Teepee
Blooming with Books
Splashes of Joy

Monday, February 4

Books Books the Magical Fruit
4 the Love of Books

Tuesday, February 5

Curling Up By the Fire
Lori’s Reading Corner

Wednesday, February 6

Vic’s Media Room
Kaisy Daisy

Thursday, February 7

Maureen’s Musings
Bookworm Lisa

Friday, February 8

The Writer’s Life
The Top Shelf

Monday, February 11

Review From Here
Busy Mom’s Daily
The Writer’s Life

Tuesday, February 12

Literal Exposure
Bookworm Lisa

Wednesday, February 13

Paperback Writer
Inside BJ’s Head
Coffee and a Keyboard

Thursday, February 14

Ashley’s Bookshelf
Writing Daze

Friday, February 15

Love Books! Book Reviews
Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

A veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, Tessa Stockton also contributed as a writer/editor for ministry publications, ghostwriter for political content, and headed a column on the topic of forgiveness. Today she writes novels in a variety of genres, often laced with romance and intrigue. In addition to her Christian suspense/thriller, THE UNSPEAKABLE, she’s the author of the political intrigue/romance, THE UNFORGIVABLE, a fable, LOVE AND LULL, and the upcoming inspirational fantasy romance, WIND’S ARIA, with more in the works.

Visit the Author:


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