Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview with Anne Stenhouse, Author of Mariah's Marriage

ANNE STENHOUSE has always loved words. Reading them and using them greedily, she can’t truly remember a time when she couldn’t escape into the pages of a book and certainly can’t remember when she couldn’t talk and ask questions. Anne is a published and performed playwright. She studied both English and History at University in Edinburgh, and finds it a great joy to combine these two disciplines in her first novel, Mariah’s Marriage. Being a playwright means Anne loves dialogue and knows a piece is going well when she ‘begins to hear the characters talking to each other’. She has been a civil servant, full-time Mum and, for a while, a worker in an Addictions’ rehabilitation unit. Anne lives in Scotland with her husband and dancing partner of over thirty years. Their children and a grandchild are close by.

Where did you grow up?

In Scotland. I grew up in an industrial village in the Shale Oil field.

When did you begin writing?

I wrote ‘letters’ to my granny from a very young age, before I went to school. Later I discovered my Dad would take the scribbles in their envelopes and dispose of them. Explains why I never got any replies. My first play, a re-working of Goldilocks and the Three Bears called "The Magic Dumpling," was performed by my school class for the whole school when I was eight.

What is this book about?

Mariah’s Marriage is about the suffering a woman experiences when her aspirations for a career clash with the knowledge she’s as vulnerable to a handsome man as any other.

What inspired you to write it?

I’ve always been interested in the mind-set that will not challenge accepted practice. Why should a woman be excluded simply because she’s female? Likewise, why should education be withheld from anyone because their parents aren’t wealthy?

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

I would have joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme earlier. They ask you to write a book every year and it is critiqued by a published writer. So valuable.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

MuseitUp Publishing:


Barnes and Noble:

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

Write the story, re-write the story. Edit the writing, edit it again, edit it some more. Ask a writer friend to read it and give an honest opinion and mark ms typos they’ve noticed. Research the market. Submit. Start the next novel/story/play.

What is up next for you?

I’m structuring a novel or novella using two of the subordinate characters from Mariah’s Marriage. Their story is begging to be told.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Character Interview:Marie-Ange from Angel Heart by Marie Laval

Devonshire, 1815

A mysterious Templar relic.
A web of intrigue and lies.
A woman about to lose her heart.

Marie-Ange, the young widow of an English officer, accepts an inheritance in France only to find that everything in Beauregard is not as it seems. Why is the sinister Malleval so obsessed with her family? What exactly is this mysterious Templar Cross he believes Marie-Ange can lead him to? And could her darling husband Christopher still be alive?

Marie-Ange finds herself trapped in a dangerous web of lies, political intrigue and mystical possession, and the only person to whom she can turn for help is Captain Hugo Saintclair. Yet the enigmatic Hugo represents a danger of a different kind …

Angel Heart is a lavish mix of romance, adventure and a hint of the supernatural, largely set in France against the turbulent background of Napoleon’s return from Elba and his ultimate defeat at Waterloo.

Hello Cheryl and thank you very much for welcoming me on your blog again. Today I am interviewing Marie-Ange, the heroin of my debut historical romance ANGEL HEART, which was published in October 2012 by MuseitUp Publishing.

First, let's set the scene. We are in Paris, in January 1815. It is very late at night and a young woman sits alone in her bedroom at the Golden Pheasant, a small but respectable inn rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. Red embers glow faintly in the fireplace, the room is dark and the young woman shivers in her blue dressing gown, which is old and frayed, and far too big for her. I step closer. I would love to know who she is and why she looks so sad.

1) Who are you? I ask in a soft voice so that I don't startle her.

She looks up and I am struck by the intense, pale blue of her eyes. She pulls the lapels of the dressing gown more tightly around her body and lets out a deep sigh.

'My name is Marie-Ange Norton', she answers, 'and right now, I don't really know who I am anymore. Until tonight, I believed I was the daughter of Catherine Beauregard, a French aristocrat who fled the horrors of the Revolution, and William Jones, a lawyer from Plymouth.'

She lets out a deep sigh and stares into the dying fire. 'The thing is, I just found out that William Jones wasn't my father after all...'

2) Are you married?

'Yes!' she answers immediately, and this time her eyes shine and a smile stretches her lips. 'I married the love of my life, Christopher Norton six years ago. They all said he died when his ship sank at the battle of Corunna, but I knew it wasn't true, I knew he was alive!'

She leans a little closer and whispers. 'I saw him this morning, by pure chance, when he was visiting minister of police Fouché. I talked to him, but he didn't recognise me. Poor Christopher, he is much changed. He looks harsher, meaner. He must have lost his memory. These things happen in battle. I don't know why he was visiting Fouché, because there is no way my Christopher would work for such an evil man.'

She closes her eyes and adds in a fervent voice. 'I will find him again, and this time I will make sure he remembers me. Everybody told me to forget about him, but I never could.' She points to her old blue dressing gown. 'This is his, you know. I wear it every single night.'

3) Are you staying in Paris or going somewhere?

'I am travelling to Beauregard, near Lyon, to meet Uxeloup Malleval, a relative of my mother's who invited me to collect my inheritance.'

She shudders. 'I heard such dreadful things about his father Edmond - the ambitious, blood-thirty revolutionary man who married my grandmother. I can only hope Uxeloup is nothing like him.'

Pensive, she strokes the cover of an old sketchbook. 'I cannot wait to see Beauregard, where my mother grew up. She loved the chateau so much she made dozens of sketches of it.'

4) Is this her sketchbook?

'It is indeed. Uxeloup Malleval insisted that I brought it with me. I don't see why he should be so interested in old drawings and watercolours. It's not as if the sketchbook contains any important secret, is it?'

5) Who is the man I saw you with - the tall, dark-haired gentleman who looked very annoyed when you came back from the Opera earlier tonight?

'Capitaine Hugo Saintclair? He is always in a bad mood! He is a friend of Uxeloup Malleval's and my escort to Beauregard. He doesn't like me because I belong to an old aristocratic family whereas he had to fight every step of the way to get to the top and become a cuirassier officer.'

She shakes her head. 'The man is so arrogant. He believes that no woman can resist him! How wrong he is! I could never be seduced by a brutish, insufferable and bad-tempered man like him.'

6) It is very late and I must go now, but before I leave, I would like to ask one last question. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?

Marie-Ange joins her hands and answers. 'I simply must find my darling Christopher, and help him remember the love we had. Then I would like to spend some time in Beauregard and get to know the place where my mother grew up. Who knows, maybe I'll find some long lost treasure...'

Her cheeks flush and her eyes shine a little more brightly. 'My third wish would be to be rid of that awful Capitaine Saintclair, and never, ever, to see him again!'

(I can't help thinking that her voice is a little too forceful when she says that, as if she is trying to convince herself.)

Thank you Marie-Ange, and good luck for the rest of your journey to Beauregard.

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie Laval studied Law and French History at university there, and developed a passionate interest in the Knights Templar and their association with the occult. She has used her specialist knowledge now to create this stunningly lavish mix of romance, adventure and a hint of the supernatural, largely set in her native France. Marie now lives in Lancashire, Northern England, where she tries to balance her passion for writing with her busy family life and her job as a foreign languages teacher.
ANGEL HEART is Marie Laval’s debut novel. It is published by Muse it Up Publishing.
Her second historical romance THE LION’S EMBRACE was released by MuseitUp in February 2013.

You can meet Marie here:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Terri and Kathleen, winners of Killer in Crinolines Tote Bags offered by author Duffy Brown.

I have emailed the winners. Thanks to all who entered.

Interview with Scarlett Savage, Author of Narcotic Nation

Scarlett Savage was born and raised in Maine. She began her writing career at age 5 after reading LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS. When she finished the book, she announced to her family that she would become an author. She began to write stories but soon turned her attention to the theater, which led her to explore playwriting. By the time she was in high school, she was writing for professional stage companies in Maine. She received a full scholarship to the University of Maine at Orono, where she won her first major writing awards. Her play, DEAR DADDY, LOVE CASSIE, won several awards and raised money for both national and regional sexual assault support centers. Scarlett moved to Los Angeles in 2009 and made her L.A. theater debut with her latest play, SHE F*&KING HATES ME: A LOVE STORY. She lives in Santa Monica with the love of her life, Mike Biggie, who designed the cover of NARCOTIC NATION.

Visit her website at

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a triple Leo…sun, moon, and rising, which I think describes me pretty accurately!! I’m intensely driven, passionate, and fiery (I’m a natural redhead, so it’s in the job description!). I’m extremely outgoing and I love people; I love reading; I love travelling, especially to the UK. For my epitaph, I want it to say, “She loved and laughed.”

Where did you grow up?

I was an army brat; the first eight years were all over, from Virginia to Japan to Alabama, before settling down in Maine until I graduated college. (I attended Stephen King’s alma mater on full scholarship, UMaine at Orono.)

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Reading. Curling myself up on a snowy day with a mug of cocoa and getting lost in another world. When I was older, the memories of drama club, Junior Mensa, and Olympics of the Mind. Great times!

When did you begin writing?

When I was five years old right before Christmas, there was a terrible snowstorm, so the power went out; my sisters were visiting my grandparents, so I had nothing to do. My mother raided the Christmas stash and came out with Little House in the Big Woods. I’d just learn to read (or, according to family lore, “taught myself”). I was a little taken aback that it had no pictures, but after the first page or so, I realized something: the words made pictures in your mind. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world, and still do! My father went out and bought me a little briefcase and pencils and paper and a journal and a little stamper with my name on it. I started writing Christmas Day, and never stopped.

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

Nightwriter. DEFINITELY. Between the hours of 10PM-2PM, when the rest of the world is sleeping, that’s when I get my best work done.

What is this book about?

It’s an alternate reality in which all narcotics were legalized in the United States twenty years ago, and the effects it has on our society and culture; the American people are split on this decision like at no other time since the Civil War.

What inspired you to write it?

In college, a friend of mine was talking about a paper he’d read for his economics class. It was about how if we legalized drugs, the country would go to hell for twenty years and then be the better for it. I remember thinking, “How interesting would it be to write about those twenty years…”

Who is your biggest supporter?

I have three: Mike Biggie, my husband and best friend. He told me to stop spreading myself too thin and just focus on getting my work published; it took me two years, but I got there!! He’s also an incredible editor, and has helped me streamline my work so it flows much better than my own raw material. The second, my best friend Thomas Mills; he’s also a writer and very brilliant. You’ll be seeing him soon!! And finally, and most importantly, my daughter Daphne Juliet Ellis. She loves her grandparents’ farm in Maine, and was determined to grow up there, as her father had. So, I was very hesitant to leave the New England area, because it was hard enough not to be away from her during the school week. But when she turned 12, my shows started doing well in NYC, and people told me I needed to get to LA if I really wanted to take my career seriously. I asked Daphne what I should do, and she said, “Mumsley, you need to do this. We both know you’re better than most writers out there, but you need to show the world that you are. I’m so proud of you.” She brags about me to her friends, which to me is better than any award out there.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

No, but I’m looking for one!!! Critiques are EVERYTHING! Never give up an opportunity to have your work viewed through a fresh pair of eyes.

Who is your favorite author?

Again, I have three: A) Jodi Piccoult. Her style of writing—how she writes from several POV’s in every book-- is truly incredible; they’ll be teaching her in universities in a hundred years. B) Judy Blume. She had the balls, so to speak, to write about things—divorce, menstruation, masturbation—that kids really needed to know about but no one thought was appropriate. Those things are real life, so what could be more appropriate than writing about real life? and finally C) Stephen King. My hero. People talk about the horrific situations his characters get into, but for me, his books are all about the fabulous characterizations. He writes people so layered and flawed and real.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I have an agent, a manager, and a publicist. It took me a while to discern the difference between the three! Your manager goes out there in the industry and finds opportunities for you; your agent closes the deal and deals with the contracts; and the publicists tell the planet about your work.

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

Extremely bumpy!! I tried to get published right out of college; no bites. So I took some time off, because I was realizing that most of what I wrote was about being in college or being in theater, as that’s all I’d ever done. But as soon as I had a child…it was as though the whole world opened up to me. Everything was so different, and new, and much more precious. I began writing in a much more structured environment after she was born; I was terrified of becoming one of those moms who “used to” write! Luckily I had nothing to worry about…I could never NOT write. I tried again to get published and got an agent, but she wasn’t able to sell me. Then I went back to the stage, and wrote a number of plays that I got a number of awards, between 1997-2008. In 2006, my good friend James Patrick Kelly, multi-award-winning sci fi novelist, said, “Your plays are literally screaming out to be books and movies. You need to start transposing your work.” So I did. I got an agent in 2007 who did absolutely nothing for me for three years—her name’s Rene Duff, and not only did she not do anything for me, the four rejection letters I got during her reign all said the same thing: “Great work, but we don’t publish this genre of book”. So I wasted three years with her. When I moved to LA, I signed with Paul Levine. In December of 2012, I produced the play version of “She F*&king Hates Me: A Love Story”; I got a couple of rave reviews, and from there I had several offers to publish the novel version. So, it took six years…but I got there!! And, of course, as soon as I got one offer, several others followed.

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

I’d be less shy about knocking on doors. I would have focused on transposing earlier. And most importantly, I would have moved to LA twenty years ago. But…if I’d moved out to LA in my teens/twenties, I wouldn’t have had the babies I wound up with. Catch 22.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

A) It’ll be in bookstores and online in autumn/ winter 2013.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more? has the story of my life!!!

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

Not yet, but working on it!!!

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

Hiring a publicist. No one can buy your book if they don’t know about it!!

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

Write every day. But learn how to promote yourself. If you can’t get an agent, or get published, then find ways to get your work out there locally. Put on plays in local theaters. Find Spoken Word events to read your poetry. Find groups to critique your work. Get your name in local papers. Get local awards under your belt. Believe me, it helps when you’re trying to get to the next level!!

What is up next for you?

In March 2014, SkyHorse Books is publishing the novelization of “She F*&king Hates Me: A Love Story”, based on my award-winning play; I’m currently fielding film offers for that project as well. I have a few meetings set up for my pilot, “Thinking With Your Ring Finger” (based on my close friendship with my ex-husband’s first wife). I’m developing a website based on strong young girls called “I AM A GIRL!!” based on a play I wrote for the Girl Scout Jamboree 2008. Taylor Street Books will also be publishing, “Did My Sister Scream?” based on my off-Broadway play (about a young college boy whose sister is date-raped, but it’s about what HE goes through), as well as my fantasy y/a series, the first of which is called, “Tale the First of the Village Mage and the Mysterious Girl Who Sleeps in the Heather”.

Is there anything you would like to add?

The best thing you can do for yourself as an artist is learn to promote yourself. For every one hour you spend creating your art, you should spend ten hours either promoting or finding people who can sell your work for you. I don’t believe in art for art’s sake…without an audience, there is no art.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Guest Blogger: Patricia Sheehy, Author of Field of Destiny

A single decision has the power to change everything. Field of Destiny tells the story of Natalie Davenport, whose destiny is derailed by an impulsive act, thrusting her into a life of secrets, lies and betrayal, a life where free will and karma collide and destructive patterns from her past life threaten her happiness in this one.

The Answer is Everywhere
by Patricia Sheehy

Where do you get your ideas? That’s a question novelists get all the time. And it’s probably one of the hardest to answer. I remember attending a writers conference where the keynote speaker was asked that very question; she made a face (imagine eyes rolling, lips tightened) as though she expected better from the audience. She answered with a glib, “everywhere” and then moved on to other questions.

It was an honest answer, but not a fair one. So when people ask where I get my ideas, especially for my novel Field of Destiny (a contemporary suspense novel with metaphysical twists), I answer the same way, everywhere (sans the negative facial expressions). But then I explain what I mean: ideas emerge from daily living. The key to unearthing them is showing up and paying close attention.

Everything we see, do, witness — everything, everywhere — harbors gems for our next story. The problem is recognizing and mining those unpolished gems. The truth within that “everywhere” answer came to me one summer morning when I was complaining to my husband that I had trouble seeing the underbelly in the obvious. How, for example, do I go beyond the tree and see the story in the leaf, in the veins of the leaf, in the fallen dead leaves? How do I train myself to see what isn’t in what already is and turn that possibility into a story?

Looking harder isn’t enough. You have to look with intention, asking the questions: what if, what now, if this happens, then what. Accept nothing at face value. Listen to dialogue between strangers on a bus. Or between friends at lunch, confessing boredom or guilty pleasures. Look at a storm coming in across the sky. Or that woman limping when just last week she was running. Imagine the story. The details. The problems. And then imagine it some more.

Creativity is seeing connections in things not normally linked. You’re driving down the highway, your eye catches a billboard with a healthcare message and in the middle of that highway is a boy’s lone sneaker. What do you make of it? You’re in the place called everywhere and if you dig deep, there’s a story waiting to be found. And that story can be told in any art form, from painting to quilting, to poetry or fiction.

So what about my novel, Field of Destiny? The overarching theme is one of destiny versus free will with integrated themes of love and loyalty. Sounds heavy, huh? But it’s not. It’s the organic result of questions asked of a single experience. In this case, a friend of mine (we’ll call her Sandra) was about to adopt a baby girl. At the 11th hour, the birth mother changed her mind, took her baby and moved in with relatives several states away. Sandra eventually adopted a baby boy.

I sympathized with her situation, celebrated the arrival of her infant boy, and then in the privacy of my mind, explored the questions that wouldn’t go away: What if in the cycle of birth and rebirth, that baby girl’s destiny was to be mothered by Sandra? That means the birth mother’s free will altered that destiny. Would the baby find her way to Sandra anyway? Maybe she would meet and marry the boy that Sandra adopted. My mind overflowed with what-if’s. I followed the thread, pulled and tugged, watched it get caught, sometimes unravel, taking me to unexpected places, twists and turns. Eventually it emerged as a novel readers say makes them think about their own destiny and how every choice comes with a consequence.

The answer is everywhere. We only have to look for it.

Patricia Herchuk Sheehy has authored four books, including the Amazon best selling novels, Field of Destiny and Veil of Illusion. She has published close to 100 essays and articles and has three times been awarded Honorable Mention by Writer’s Digest for her personal essays. In addition, for twenty-five years, she has been a self-employed Working Writer, providing copywriting, consulting and communications support to corporate, non-profit and small business entitles. Patricia facilitates workshops, online classes, and critique groups and coaches emerging writers. Currently working on her next novel, A Thousand Whispers, she lives in the historic town of Old Wethersfield, CT and holds a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University. All of her books are available in paperback and in e-book formats. She can be found at:

Links to Amazon & Barnes & Noble

Guest Blogger: Linda DeVillers, Author of Simply Sexy Foods

Simple Sexy Food is an aphrodisiac cookbook like no other. Honest and direct, detailed and informative, it’s packed with exclusive recipes, food and sex tips, descriptions and histories of ingredients and even survey data about what food people find sexy. And it’s the only aphrodisiac cookbook written by a clinical sex therapist who also happens to be a foodie!

Pumpkin Pie Spice & Pumpkin
by Linda DeVillers

Linda DeVillers, a clinical sex therapist who also happens to be a foodie, is going to share information about an aphrodisiac that is very popular around Halloween and Thanksgiving and you may not even know its an aphrodisiac. This is an excerpt from her book Simple Sexy Food and she included a recipe that has these sexy ingredients. It is just one of the scrumptious and sexy recipes in the book. Let’s dig in…

Lore and Fun Facts

Pumpkin on its own is among the newest sexy food in this list, with no longstanding reputation as a lust booster. In the United States, most of us associate pumpkin with fall holidays, from Halloween to a delicious pie served at Thanksgiving.

In other parts of the world, pumpkin is a common ingredient in many savory dishes. Pumpkin pie spice, which may really be the star of this show, is generally made with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.

Some fascinating double-blind randomized studies reveal the effects of different smells on male sexual arousal. In one, each participant was connected to a small blood pressure cuff to measure blood flow to the penis. The participant was then blindfolded, and soft music…not really, but it does start to sound really kinky! Next, one at a time, a surgical mask scented with one specific scent was placed over the participant’s nose and left in place for one minute. At that time, penile blood flow was measured for each of the many scented masks worn. An interval of three minutes separated exposure to each new smell, during which participants did not wear a mask.

In the first study, baked cinnamon smell was used as a control scent, but ironically it wound up creating the most blood flow to the penises of young and middle aged men. A second study included men aged 18-64 and tested 30 scents, including both perfume and food. Some scents were actually combinations, resulting in 46 scents being tested. This time the pumpkin pie spice/lavender mixture triggered the greatest measurable penile response. Blood flow was increased by an average of 40% in all but the oldest men (who responded more to vanilla). So if you want to get the blood flowing to your special guy’s manhood, spritz a little lavender under your blouse and bake up a pumpkin pie!

Sexy Nutrients

Like so many simple, sexy foods, pumpkin is a winner nutritionally. It’s loaded with beta-carotene, which helps keep your skin and eyes healthy and vibrant, and is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, and lots of B vitamins—thiamin, niacin, B6 and folate. B-complex vitamins are essential for keeping your nervous system happy.

Adequate levels of folate during pregnancy significantly reduce the odds of various birth defects such as spina bifida or other neural tube deficits. Pumpkin also provides potassium, which keeps body fluids regulated, as well as manganese, and copper. It’s also an excellent source for dietary fiber for keeping your digestive and circulatory systems in good shape. What’s more, it has just 40 calories in a full cup, so it won’t weigh your man down to nibble your pie!

Now – here’s a recipe for you to try this for yourself.

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes

SEXY FOODS: pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, egg, pecan

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, separated (let egg whites come to room temperature)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pureed cooked pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin-pie filling)

2/3 cup nonfat milk

2 tablespoons canola oil or other mild

vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon dark rum, optional

1.In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, pie spice, and salt.

2. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks slightly. Then whisk in the pumpkin, milk, oil, and vanilla to blend well.

3. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, whisking just until smooth. (The batter will be thick). Mix in the pecans if using.

4. In a small, deep, clean dry bowl (not aluminum or plastic), beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff but not dry. Fold the egg whites into the batter in two additions.

5. Brush a large nonstick skillet with oil then heat over medium-high heat until a water droplet dances in the pan before evaporating.

6. Working in batches, pour the batter by 1/4 cupsful into the pan. Quickly spread the batter to form 4 1/2-inch rounds; do not crowd the pan. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of pancakes and bottoms are light brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until done. For each new batch, brush the pan with oil to coat, and reheat to medium-high before adding more batter.

7. Place cooked pancakes on a warm plate and cover to keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes.

8. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, warm the syrup, butter, and rum if using.

9. Serve the pancakes with the syrup.

Love Skills

Breakfast in bed will never go out of style! Sneak out of the sheets and whip up this scrumptious recipe. If you have work, be sure to keep an eye on the clock since morning “sessions” are sure to interrupt your schedule!

2 servings: About ten 4 1/2-inch pan cakes

© Aphrodite Media 2012 All rights reserved.

Permission granted to Cheryl Malandrinos for use on her blog

Do aphrodisiacs work? What exactly are they? How can I use them? We answer these questions and many more during the Simple Sexy Food virtual tour with clinical sex therapist and foodie – Linda De Villers, PhD. There are many ordinary foods that can have aphrodisiac effects – and we’re going to help you understand them.

Linda De Viller, PhD, Clinical Sex Therapist and Foodie, shares her knowledge about the myths and truth about aphrodisiacs. She also shares over 80 recipes and a wealth of love and sex tips. Get your copy at - We invite you to participate in the Simple Sexy Food Recipe Photo Contest - - the grand prize winner will get a one on one aphrodisiac consultation and five runner ups will receive a digital copy of Love Skills by Linda De Villers.

A Message From Linda De Villers PhD

I created this book to help you enjoy the remarkable relationship between food and sex. These two themes run brightly through my own life both personally and professionally, and are inseparable from my sense of who I am. Having counseled and taught thousands of people on the loving arts, and having fed nearly as many in my kitchens over the years, I find myself in a state of barely contained excitement over the opportunity to share what I know with you. I am the only author in this field to be credentialed in both sexual health and food, having worked and presented internationally and conducted research on the joint topic over the course of my career.

Friday, May 24, 2013

First Chapter Review: The Rockin' Chair by Steven Manchester

The first chapter of The Rockin' Chair by Steven Manchester was sent to me by the author. This book is available for pre-order at Amazon.

BLURB:  Memories are the ultimate contradiction. They can warm us on our coldest days – or they can freeze a loved one out of our lives forever. The McCarthy family has a trove of warm memories. Of innocent first kisses. Of sumptuous family meals. Of wondrous lessons learned at the foot of a rocking chair. But they also have had their share of icy ones. Of words that can never be unsaid. Of choices that can never be unmade. Of actions that can never be undone.

Following the death of his beloved wife, John McCarthy – Grandpa John – calls his family back home. It is time for them to face the memories they have made, both warm and cold. Only then can they move beyond them and into the future.

A rich portrait of a family at a crossroad, THE ROCKIN' CHAIR is Steven Manchester’s most heartfelt and emotionally engaging novel to date. If family matters to you, it is a story you must read.

COVER: I love it. All of the covers of Steven's books have been nice. I was looking through them at his publisher's website and see they all have a chair in them. Not sure what that's supposed to mean, but here it works well because of the title and because of the rustic feel that speaks to the setting.

FIRST CHAPTER: As Alice hides herself, her memories wander from the days of her childhood to the days when she is gray-haired and liver-spotted. But then Elle shows up and tells her it's time to go home.

KEEP READING: This is a tough one for me, because I was fairly confused through most of the first chapter. I've already read some of Manchester's work, so I know he can deliver. I feel the opening chapter is intentionally vague to relay the confusion Alice feels as she sits waiting in terror. She appears to be suffering from dementia, though that is not stated. I can only guess based upon the last paragraph of the chapter. Manchester offers the reader a lot of emotion in this opener, which is not surprising because he writes about family ties. I would definitely continue for at least another chapter, because I feel once I understand exactly what is happening, I'll be eager to continue.

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The (June 18, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161188067X
ISBN-13: 978-1611880670

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.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: Harkness by Michael Bigham

Harkness is a superb edgy western murder mystery by debut novelist Michael Bigham.

Sheriff Matthew Harkness investigates the disappearance of two star-crossed teenage lovers. Secrets abound in the Oregon High Desert town of Barnesville, and Harkness must uncover a trail that leads to murder.

In Harkness, Bigham has created a conflicted hero who lives right on the edge of justice. A World War II veteran, Harkness returns to Barnesville and picks up a relationship with the woman he loves. Problem is, she's now married to the town's big-wig, who also happens to be his boss. His fairly regular routine is unsettled when Joey McIntrye, the high school's star football player, goes missing along with his girlfriend, Virginia Kelly. Having lived in Barnesville a long time, Harkness is privy to many secrets, and he must weigh what to reveal in order to help him solve the crime.

The challenge with a character like Matthew Harkness is making him likable enough. In the opening pages he's in bed with the Judge's wife. He drinks too much. Some of the words he uses would curl your mother's hair. He can be a bit violent at times. But overall, Bigham did a fine job of smoothing out those edges to keep the reader rooting for him.

Before I knew I would be helping to promote this book, I had read the first chapter and was totally intrigued.  As a lover of westerns and mysteries, Harkness was a great match for me. Bigham delivered a solid story that kept me turning the pages. The tension slowly built to an explosive conclusion. Along the way, there was the comic relief provided by Addison, the wiener dog that adopts Harkness. In the end, I couldn't say I liked most of the people in Barnesville, but I would definitely return for another adventure; see who else is hiding dirty secrets there.

If you like western mysteries and conflicted heroes, you should give Harkness a try.

Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: Muskrat Press (October 17, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615721974
ISBN-13: 978-0615721972

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author. The author paid me to promote this book through a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. This fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

This is the 5th book I've read for the following challenge:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Interview with Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue, Author of After the Ending

Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, compiled illustrations and collages as a teenager, and as an adult, she expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her—whether she’s traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next storyline or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey is wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man. Lindsey can be found online at her blog ( and on Pinterest (Lindsey Pogue).

Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book—as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she’s not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats. Lindsey can be found online at her blog ( and on Facebook and Pinterest (Lindsey Fairleigh).

The Ending Series Blog:
The Ending Series Website:
Twitter: @TheEndingSeries (

Where did you grow up?

LF: I grew up in the Seattle area, first in Renton, and then in Bellevue.

LP: I’m a Napkin. Actually, we’re technically called “Napans” I think. Anyway, I was born and bred in the Napa Valley.

When did you begin writing?

LP: I’ve always been a writer in some way, shape, or form. I’ve written for the newspaper, medical journals, grant reports, and so on. But my passion has always been researching and writing fiction. Although I have a plethora of stories, ideas, and outlines I’ve started over the years, this is my first completed and published novel.

LF: I’m sort of the inverse to LP. I’ve been reading my whole life--always fantasy or science fiction of some sort. Luckily the people who matter the most--my mom and my husband--have found it in their hearts to support my...quirks. Eventually, I realized there were stories stored in my head that I wanted to read, but the only way they would find their way to paper (virtual or otherwise) would be if I wrote them down (typed...honestly, I hate writing by hand, and yes, I know that’s practically heretical for a writer to admit...).

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

LF: When the muse strikes--and by that I mean when my characters pound the inside of my skull in an attempt to get their story out--I write. I have no choice

LP: I‘m generally inspired at night when my mind is winding down. I work during the day, so I can’t write whenever I feel like it, and I have to rely on really good notes that I jot down throughout the day when I’m feeling inspired, hoping that I’ll be able to draw upon the excitement I had in that moment and remember all the tidbits floating around in my mind by the time I actually get to sit down and write.

What is this book about?

LP: There are a few non-conventional aspects to our book that we feel make it not only unique, but enjoyable to a wide variety of people. For starters, After The Ending is a post-apocalyptic story told in first person, but the catch is that it’s from two different perspectives, Zoe and Dani. I write for Zoe and LF writes for Dani. The story begins with a universally contagious, deadly virus that infects everyone, including our characters and their loved ones. After the virus wipes out most of the human population, Dani and Zoe (best friends, mid-twenties) learn they are among the few who survived the pandemic. Although adult life has sent Zoe to the East Coast and Dani’s settled on the West Coast, their friendship is one of the few remaining things they have in the virus-ravaged they embark on separate journeys to meet each other at a supposed safe haven, the Colony. It’s through their individual journeys that the reader can experience what our heroines see and feel as they discover what the world after The Ending is like and, in turn, discover more about themselves as survivors.

LF: Something that we aimed to do from the get-go when writing After The Ending was to make sure the focus wasn’t entirely on the hardcore survival aspects of the post-apocalypse, but on the characters, specifically their personal struggles and relationships. The story highlights the undeniable power of friendship, love, and hope, and how they can make life worth living even when everything else is lost. There is romance, but there are also some definite science fiction elements, such as the spontaneous genetic mutations caused by the virus, leading to extraordinary abilities in survivors...or to insanity. We’ll be the first to admit After The Ending was written with a female audience in mind, as it’s very character-driven and the romance storylines aren’t negligible, but we have heard from male readers who enjoyed the book as well.

What inspired you to write it?

LP: I promised someone very important to me that I would publish one of my many stories, so when that person passed and LF and I got more serious about The Ending project, I knew this was my time to go for the gold and it feels amazing. I probably never would have taken the leap if it wasn’t for LF and our combined enthusiasm to follow our dreams.

LF: For me, a lot of what inspired me was LP. I mean, I never considered really going for it with writing until I met her. We were driving home from a book conference--this was while we still worked at Copperfield’s Books together--and we started talking about a story idea. I’d been thinking about writing something entirely epistolary that chronicled an adult woman’s post-apocalyptic experience. During the two-hour drive we toyed with the premise, tossing ideas back and forth, and by the time we arrived at LP’s house, we had characters, a rough backstory, and very general outline.

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

LF: Niether. It was twisty, with lots of forks and backtracking. We went back and forth (and back and forth) on whether to pursue traditional publishing or go completely independent. We went the independent route, and since we published, we haven’t looked back. That’s not to say that we haven’t learned or that there aren’t thing’s we’ll do differently with the second book, Into The Fire, just that we’re exceptionally pleased with the results of After The Ending.

LP: Well put my friend. Twisty is a great word to describe it :)

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

LP: I’ll just say that I would’ve listened to my gut more. I’ve learned that there is a reason your conscious is trying to get your attention, so you need to take a step back and ask yourself “why?”.

LF: Hired a cover designer. For sure. I mean, I love our cover, but it took a long time. I’d rather pay someone who can do it way faster (and probably better), so I can just write.

LP: I think the process of coming up with the cover design was really fun though. There’s something to be said for seeing the entire process through--being the masterminds behind it all, being proud of all we’ve accomplished. While I know LF didn’t like doing the formatting and all the headache that comes with it, I think we can both agree the brainstorming process was SO much fun.

LF: This is true.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

LP: The book is available in three different formats: Kindle, hardcover and paperback. All are available at and you can also purchase the hard and paperback version at Copperfields Books and through Barnes and Nobel online.

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

LF: I know a lot of indie authors are questioning the merits of KDP Select right now, but I honestly think it’s one of two things that have brought us to readers' attention, the other being Goodreads giveaways. Being an unknown, never-before-published, independent author is scary, and those two services helped our “discoverability” immensely. We think.

LP: Yes!

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

LF: Write for you...the only way you’ll know if other people like (or hate) your words is if you write them down. And yes, no matter what, some people will hate them.

LP: Figure out what inspires you. For me, it’s observing nature or people. My boyfriend calls my people-watching skills “nosey”, but I call it research.

What is up next for you?

LP: I work for a non-profit as well as write, so book two in The Ending Series is my main focus right now. When I’m not at work, I’m writing my Zoe chapters for Into The Fire.

LF: I’m working on two projects right now. First, finishing up book two of The Ending Series, Into The Fire. And second, my solo debut, Echo Prophecy, the first in a PNR/historical mystery trilogy, is entering into the final editing process. I’m aiming for a late summer or early fall release with that one.

Is there anything you would like to add?

LF: Great questions! Thank you for having us!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Interview with O.S. Gill, Author of The Knights of Galaria

O.S. Gill grew up on the Caribbean island of Barbados. He was educated at The Lodge School, a 300-year-old former British boarding school and the second oldest learning institution on the island. A certified information technology professional, he has worked for The Banks Holdings Limited, a local conglomerate that owns the local brewery (Banks Beer) and Coca-Cola manufacturing plant for fourteen years. A Systems Analyst, he has been positioned in various capacities, primarily dealing with sales and distribution, as well as the sourcing and implementation of new technologies to further business efficiency. He always had a passion for writing and published his first novel, THE KNIGHTS OF GALARIA: THE CRYSTALS OF POWER, in 2012.

You can visit his website at

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a father of two. I have been working in the beverage industry for fourteen years. I love sci-fi and fantasy. And I try to play as many sports as I can, at least once.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on the Caribbean island of Barbados.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

My fondest childhood memory is flying kites on the pasture behind my home.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing in 2011.

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

I write whenever I can.

What is this book about?

It is about a team of young knights on a distant world called Galaria. On the day of their graduation from the Knight Academy, there is an assassination attempt on the keynote speaker. This gives them their first assignment: to find out who is responsible. From there this leads to a much greater adventure that finds them travelling all across Galaria in pursuit of the main antagonist.

What inspired you to write it?

Well I knew I wanted to write a swashbuckling adventure set deep in space. That was my aim from the beginning. From there the characters and the world just started to take shape.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My friends definitely are!

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

Informally. I had a few key people read my work and give me their notes before it was ready to be published.

Who is your favorite author?

J.R.R. Tolkien.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I don’t have one at this time. I haven’t actively tried looking for one for a while.

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

Well, seeing that I am self-published, there was a lot more leg work involved in getting this novel to market. But it was worth it in the end.

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

Not a single thing. It was fun all the way.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

They can get the ebook here:

Or the printed copy from here: -

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

I would have to say hiring a publicist. They have so much more experience in producing exposure.

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

As cliché as it is, never give up. Always work hard and see your project through till the end.

What is up next for you?

The second novel in this series.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Only that this entire interview has been a pleasure. And I would encourage all of your readers to pick up a copy of The Knights of Galaria. They will totally love it!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Interview with Kraig Dafoe, Author of Search for the Lost Realm (Giveaway)

Kraig Dafoe was born in Potsdam, New York and grew up in Canton. He played high school football and joined the United States Army Reserves at the age of seventeen.

Kraig married at the age of nineteen and moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia where he worked as a Private Security officer for The Christian Broadcasting Network and also attended the Tidewater Community College for business.

After five years as a security officer, he became a Deputy Sheriff for the city of Chesapeake Virginia.

Kraig left the Sheriff’s office after nine years of service and pursued a couple of different business opportunities before he went on to publishing his debut novel.

Kraig is the father of five children and he currently resides in Kansas, raising his youngest son.

His latest book is the fantasy/adventure, Search for the Lost Realm.

Visit his website at

Connect with Kraig:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I never know what to say here, I feel like I’m signing up for a dating site or something. I’m a single father trying to put my imagination to good use.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing over twenty years ago but it wasn’t until just a couple of short years ago that I started to take it seriously.

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

I write whenever the mood hits me. If an idea pops into my head at two in the morning, so be it.

What is this book about?

This book is about a young man wanting to make a name for himself. Varan, the main character sets out to find a mystical power and soon discovers just how dangerous the world can be.

What inspired you to write it?

I used to love role-playing and after a few years of doing so, I decided to share some of my imagination with the world.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I would like an agent but the task of getting one is as difficult as getting a mainstream publisher to publish your book.

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

The road was extremely bumpy and I don’t see it smoothing out anytime soon.

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

Absolutely. Too many things to mention.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The easiest way to find it is through the links on my site, but the paperback can be ordered from any bookstore in the U.S.

What is up next for you?

I am currently working on my second fantasy novel, based on the same world as this one but with different characters.



Pump Up Your Book and Kraig Dafoe are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card/Paypal Cash!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour.

This promotion will run from April 1 – May 31. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on June 1, 2013.

Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If the Rafflecopter form doesn't load, please visit the book's tour page by clicking here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Spotlight: When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti

Becky rocks a baby that rocked her world. Sixty years earlier, with her fiancé Drew in the middle of the Korean Conflict, Ivy throws herself into her work at a nursing home to keep her sanity and provide for the child Drew doesn’t know is coming. Ivy cares for Anna, an elderly patient who taxes Ivy’s listening ear until the day she suspects Anna’s tall tales are not just idle ramblings. They’re Anna’s disjointed memories of a remarkable life.

Finding a faint thread of hope she can’t resist tugging, Ivy records Anna’s memoir, scribbling furiously after hours to keep up with the woman’s emotion-packed, grace-hemmed stories. Is Ivy’s answer buried in Anna’s past? And what connects them to Becky?

Becky, Ivy, Anna—three women fight a tangled vine of deception in search of the blossoming simplicity of truth.

Purchase your copy:

Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her
novels, nonfiction, women’s events, and outlets related to the Heartbeat of the Home radio broadcast she wrote and produced for thirty-three years. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five joy-giving grandchildren.

Her latest book is the Christian fiction, When the Morning Glory Blooms.

You can learn more about Cynthia and her writing and speaking at

Connect with Cynthia:

Tour Schedule

Monday, May 6 – Book Spotlight at Cheryl’s Christian Connection
Monday, May 6 – First Chapter Reveal at The Writer’s Life
Tuesday, May 7 – Interview at You Gotta Read Reviews
Wednesday, May 8 – Interview at Examiner
Thursday, May 9 – Character Guest Post at Literarily Speaking
Friday, May 10 – Book Spotlight at My Cozie Corner
Friday, May 10 – First Chapter Reveal at As the Pages Turn
Saturday, May 11 – Book Review at A Peek at My Bookshelf
Sunday, May 12 – Guest Blogging at My Devotional Thoughts
Monday, May 13 – Book Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 14 – Book Spotlight at The Busy Mom’s Daily
Tuesday, May 14 – Guest Blogging at The Story Behind The Book
Wednesday, May 15 – Book Review at Melina’s Book Blog
Wednesday, May 15 – First Chapter Reveal at Pump Up Your Book
Thursday, May 16 – Interview at The Writer’s Life
Friday, May 17 – Interview at Blogcritics
Friday, May 17 – Book Spotlight at The Book Connection
Saturday, May 18 – Book Review at My Devotional Thoughts
Monday, May 20 – Book Review & Book Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, May 21 – Book Review at A Year of Jubilee Reviews
Wednesday, May 22 – Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Thursday, May 23 – Guest Blogging & Book Giveaway at 4 the Love of Books
Thursday, May 23 – First Chapter Reveal at Read My First Chapter
Friday, May 24 – Book Spotlight at Moonlight Lace & Mayhem
Friday, May 24 – First Chapter Reveal at Beyond the Books
Sunday, May 26 – Book Spotlight at Authors & Readers Book Corner
Monday, May 27 – Book Review & Book Giveaway at Create With Joy
Tuesday, May 28 – Book Review at Mary’s Cup of Tea
Thursday, May 30 – Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Thursday, May 30 – Book Review at Lighthouse Academy
Friday, May 31 - Book Review at Thoughts From Mill Street

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Blogger: Allan Leverone, Author of Parrallax View

It’s late in the Cold War, and the Soviet Union is slowly disintegrating.

In the midst of this uncertainty and upheaval, a mysterious group of KGB officials has concocted a desperate plan in an attempt to maintain power.

And one beautiful young CIA operative is all that stands between this shadowy cabal and the outbreak of World War Three.

Spring, 1987. CIA Special Operations agent Tracie Tanner is tasked with what should be a relatively straightforward mission: deliver a secret communique from Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

After smuggling the document out of East Germany, Tracie believes she is in the clear. She’s wrong. There are shadowy forces at work, influential people who will stop at nothing to prevent the explosive information contained in the letter from reaching the White House.

Soon, Tanner is knee-deep in airplane crashes and murder, paired up with a young Maine air traffic controller and on the run for their lives, unsure who she can trust at CIA, but committed to completing her mission, no matter the cost.

Dealing with Violence in Fiction
By Allan Leverone

A co-worker friend of mine recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. Afterward, he came into work on crutches and with the knee immobilized in a brace, and was showing me the very tiny holes made in the vicinity of his knee, into which the arthroscopic devices had been inserted.

The holes were tiny. Minimally invasive.

I could hardly stand to look.

If you’ve read any of my books, you might find that assertion hard to believe. I don’t write violence just for violence’s sake, but I’ve spilled my share of fictional blood. Some would say more than my share. When the majority of your work is in the horror and thriller genres, violence and mayhem seem to naturally follow.

I’ve had people shot, stabbed, and beaten up. I’ve written car crashes, explosions, mining disasters and terrorist attacks.

And I have trouble looking at a tiny incision. In someone else’s knee.

My wife, on the other hand, enjoys watching those documentary-type TV shows about operations. You know the ones, on the Science Channel or whatever, where they show actual footage of surgeons repairing a hole in an infant’s aorta, or trying to fix the tissue trauma from a nasty gunshot wound, that sort of thing.

If I walk into the room while that kind of show is playing, I either turn around and walk right back out (okay, I run), or I ask my wife to change the channel (okay, I beg).

Why is that? How is it possible I can describe the most horrific scenes of carnage and destruction in the pages of a book, but my stomach does flip-flops at the sight of a beating heart muscle on television? How can I write about one human being shooting another at point-blank range, but when my kids were little, had to force myself not to panic beyond all reason when one of them suffered even a minor cut?

I suppose the answer would be the same thing that’s bothered human beings from the beginning of time, when we huddled in cold, cark caves hoping tonight wouldn’t be the night that pesky saber-toothed tiger prowling around outside didn’t tear us apart and eat us for dinner: fear of the unknown.

When I’m writing, no matter how gruesome the scene or how distasteful the subject matter, I can see it unfold in my head and I know where I’m going with it, more or less.

A surgical procedure taking place on TV, on the other hand, presents a cornucopia of potential outcomes, none of which are pleasing to my hyperactive imagination. Will blood start spurting from that beating heart the surgeon is holding in his gloved hand? What if he drops it? How about if he sneezes while making an incision? Will that be the end of the patient?

The same mindset applied when my kids were young and dripping blood from their cut fingers. They were injured and they were depending on me to care for them. Me! The guy who has a habit of entering rooms and forgetting why. The guy who can’t stand watching a surgical procedure on TV.

In the real world, the range of possibilities outside my control are endless, whereas when I’m writing, even if I don’t have a clear idea where I’m going in a scene, the range is limited to whatever I’m willing to write. There are lines that I know will never be crossed.

And that makes all the difference in the world.

In the case of PARALLAX VIEW, you can sense almost from the very beginning of the book that a violent confrontation – a showdown – is coming. That is the case in virtually all thrillers, so the reader knows going in to expect it and shouldn’t be terribly surprised when it happens.

What form that confrontation will take, and what outcome will result, is obviously up in the air, but a reader of genre fiction, particularly thrillers, presumably isn’t going to be turned off merely by the description of violence.

How about you? As a reader, do you tend to cringe when you come to the most explicitly violent portions of a book? Do you skip over those passages? How does your reaction to blood spilled on a page differ from your reaction to real-world violence, either televised or happening in front of you?

And can you remember why I came into this room?

Allan Leverone is the author of five novels, including the Amazon Top 25 overall paid bestselling thriller, THE LONELY MILE. He is a 2012 Derringer Award winner for excellence in short mystery fiction, as well as a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. Allan lives in Londonderry, NH with his wife and family, and a cat who has used up eight lives.

Visit his website at

Follow Allan:

Facebook at and Twitter at

Interview with Mark All, Author of The Spellcaster's Grimoire

Mark All is the author of paranormal thrillers The Spellcaster’s Grimoire and Mystic Witch, published by ImaJinn Books in trade paperback and eBook formats. He has won two international writing awards and contributed to Computer Legends, Lies & Lore.

Mystic Witch received a 5 Star review from the Paranormal Romance Guild, and 3½ stars (out of 4½ possible stars) from RT Book Reviews.

Mark is a full-time author after a career as an instructional systems designer at a Fortune 16 company. Prior to his work in computer-based training, he held jobs ranging from gravedigger to FM radio announcer to professional rock guitarist.

Mark presents writing workshops and taught his “Planning Your Novel” course at the Spruill Center for the Arts.

He earned a Masters degree in computer-based education and a Bachelor of Music cum laude.

You can visit Mark All’s website at

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I write full-time after a career in computer-based software training. Before that I had some unusual jobs, from gravedigger to FM radio announcer to playing in a rock band for a living. I still play the guitar and record at home, but traveling was a rough lifestyle, I’ll leave that for the young!

When did you begin writing?

I began writing in middle school, a short story for an English class assignment. I discovered that writing was more fun than reading or watching movies, and got a positive response from my teachers and classmates. I tried writing again after I got off the road and quit music, but dropped it to return to grad school. Then after establishing a normal career, I began writing again, and haven’t stopped.

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

I write in the mornings, when I’m fresh.

What is this book about?

The Spellcaster’s Grimoire is about the author of bestselling witchcraft How To books who can’t actually work the spells herself. When a dying warlock entrusts an ancient spell book to her, she must actually master the craft to prevent a vengeful witch from using the grimoire to destroy the town coven.

What inspired you to write it?

The “ancient, eldritch tome” is a trope that always gave me chill bumps, and I wanted to write about a lost book of magic for years. I love stories about a hidden or forgotten artifact that holds mystic powers both great and terrible. It can be a metaphor for the power of the unconscious mind, or our latent potential, and engenders stories about personal growth, which seems like magic—because it really is.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I am a member of a critique group at a local bookstore, and have been in critique groups for many years. Getting other readers’ and writers’ feedback on your work really helps you improve your craft.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The Spellcaster’s Grimoire is available from my publisher, ImaJinn Books,, and Barnes and, in both eBook and trade paperback: - Kindle eBook: – Paperback:

ImaJinn Books – eBook:
ImaJinn -Paperback:

Barnes & Noble – Paperback:

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

Yes, you can find book descriptions, excerpts, and video book trailers for The Spellcaster’s Grimoire and Mystic Witch at

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

Yes, here’s the direct link to the trailer for The Spellcaster’s Grimoire:

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

Write more books, and get feedback from a critique partner or group. It takes most writers several books before they produce a publishable manuscript. You get better with every book. But sometimes people get their first or second book published, so you never know!

What is up next for you?

My next novel, which I’m proofing now, is a darker supernatural thriller. There’s still some humor, but it’s more serious than my two Witches of Milton County books. It’s called Penumbra, and it’s about a washed-up musician whose songwriting partner returns from the dead to finish their final album—but the music turns listeners into homicidal maniacs.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I’d like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity to visit with your readers!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Interview with Susan Maiava, Author of Fat Chance! The no-going-back Weight Loss Workbook

Welcome, Susan. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks so much for the opportunity to introduce Fat Chance! The no-going-back Weight Loss Workbook to your readers. A bit about myself? Well I have had an interesting range of life experiences from being an overseas volunteer (like a Peace Corp volunteer) to being a university lecturer, from being a mother to being an author and business owner.

But my chief qualification here is that I was significantly overweight for many years, so I can identify with anyone who is overweight and wants desperately to lose weight. I was tired of the debilitating effect it had on my life and when I looked into the future I didn’t want to be like that for the rest of my life. I couldn’t keep up with my children. It was hugely embarrassing to tell the shop assistant that the XXL was too small. So I gave up shopping for clothes.

Physically I snored, I got headaches and heartburn, my skin chaffed and I was borderline pre-diabetic (all those are gone now). It was hugely embarrassing to walk at normal speed with friends, trying desperately to hide my puffing. So I dropped out of activities (or was not included). I was an observer rather than a participant and I desperately wanted to participate in life.

But for me personally one of the biggest issues was that I had a lot to contribute but was not taken seriously. I was undervalued and overlooked in my professional career. Despite my size I was invisible. I wanted to be taken seriously – that was a key motivation for me.

What made you decide to write Fat Chance! The Weight Loss Workbook?

When I was losing weight I was always looking for good advice but I never found what I was looking for on the bookshelves. There were certainly inspiring personal stories of weight loss. There were prescriptive books full of diet plans written by professionals who had never been overweight (many of these did contain good technical advice which, incidentally, overweight people already know). And there were a range of ‘wacky’ restrictive pseudo-science options.

But most focused on dieting or sticking to diets and there was nothing (in my view) that combined a comprehensive approach to changing your lifestyle, including dealing with emotional hunger, changing your thinking, habits and behaviors, eating better, working with your body and getting active, with a personal, reflective, interactive workbook format.

So after I had lost weight I decided to research and write it myself. I had written a book before and I know how to research so I decided to fill what I believe is an enormous gap in the market. So when I wrote Fat Chance! I combined the best current research with my insider knowledge of what it was like to be overweight and how overweight people think. That combination is key.

How is it different from other weight loss books on the market?

The Fat Chance! slogan sums it up in a nutshell: “Forget about how fat people diet. Focus on how slim people eat.” The key point of difference is Fat Chance! is absolutely definitely not a diet. Instead it facilitates a lifestyle change focused on learning to think and eat like a slim person, forever.

The greatest misconception people have about losing weight is that you lose weight by dieting for a certain time (and then going back to your old behavior). One of my first insights was the realization that if you eat the amount of food needed to maintain your goal slim weight every day, you would, over time, reach and maintain that weight, just as slim people do, keeping the weight off forever.

With Fat Chance! you learn to eat for your slim weight from Day 1. The new skills and strategies you adopt to do this are yours for the rest of your life. I think that is the key difference and is why this is not a diet. The end goal is to live differently. The weight-loss will happen as a result of changing your lifestyle.

The second major point of difference is the engaging, interactive workbook format. Research has shown that food journaling alone is a very effective weight loss tool but it is more than that. The question and answer format enables the reader to slow down, become much more self-aware, reflect deeply and draw out of themselves and make the changes they need to make at a very personal and individual level.

How easy is your book to use and understand for someone who hasn’t tried anything other than traditional diet plans?

I agree that it seems strange to not think you are supposed to be dieting. After all we have always been taught that is how you lose weight. But think instead of how slim people naturally maintain their slim weight.

Fat Chance! is extremely easy to use as you work through it just one day at a time. The journal style has several advantages. It provides a very safe environment in which to deal with weight issues, especially emotional issues; a sort of “dear diary.” Many people have written to me describing it as their new best friend. The workbook itself becomes the encourager, the friend who walks beside the reader on their journey each day.

Fat Chance! is well designed and organized so everything is covered. Each day of the week has a different theme: The six themes are: Thinking like a slim person, Working with your body, Establishing new habits, Dealing with emotional hunger, Getting active, Enjoying a healthy balanced diet and Day 7 is a Debrief and reflection. Groups can come together on Day 7. So each day is interesting and new but the full picture layers and builds week on week.

How much time does it take to implement the plan in your book?

Fat Chance! The Weight Loss Workbook is a colorful and stylish but very practical, interactive workbook which engages the reader every day. It can take as little as 15 minutes or up to 45 minutes a day, depending on the reader. Many prefer to delve into it both morning (to plan) and evening (to reflect).

The program is 12 weeks long, but because it is life-changing, in this sense it never ends. There is no going back to old ways. I don’t mean that you have to diet forever (a terrible thought). Instead you reach a healthy new equilibrium; a new lifestyle where you think and eat like a slim person forever.

It is important the workbook journey is undertaken one day at a time. It does take time to identify the changes that have to come from within and discipline to slowly and deeply embed those changes. The discipline is not in resisting food (we know that doesn’t work) but rather the discipline is in changing your thoughts and habits. And that is where Fat Chance! walks with you as you journal your progress.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a lifestyle change?

Completely abandon the idea of dieting, and completely embrace the idea that you are going to change your lifestyle and there will be no going back to your old behavior. If you are not prepared to change, don’t do it!

But also know that it is absolutely possible, and Fat Chance! will be there right there beside you, showing you the way. Ask yourself (Fat Chance! asks you a lot of questions): Do I want to live differently or do I want to be fat? It really is that simple.

Where can readers purchase Fat Chance! The Weight-loss Workbook?

Readers can purchase a hardcopy of the Fat Chance! Weight Loss Workbook from Amazon or Links to the specific buying pages are found at (note it is also called “Fat Chance! Forget how fat people diet, Focus on how slim people eat” – I like that!).

Recently I have created an interactive Online web-based version of Fat Chance! which is available globally from

Do you have anything else to add?

I’m absolutely delighted with the response Fat Chance! has been getting. As well as individuals it is being used by groups of friends (meeting on Day 7) and health professionals working with overweight clients. Apart from the fact it really works, people love the design, colors and the layout of the book which is really stylish and fun as well as practical.

I’d love your readers to read the success stories of people who have used Fat Chance! lost weight and changed their lives at Some of the stories and photos are just amazing and are why I know Fat Chance! works.

Your readers can also read and download the Introduction from and everything and anything else they want to know is there as well.

Thank you for allowing me to share Fat Chance! with you.

I wish all your readers all the best in their weight loss journey!

Kindest regards,
Susan Maiava PhD.