Monday, January 30, 2017

Musing Monday - Jan 30

Musing Monday is now hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK'S RANDOM QUESTION: Are there any books you are really eagerly waiting for in 2017?

How is it the end of the month already? Things have been so crazy around here I have accomplished barely anything...well, I sold a house and had a closing, but pretty much I feel like I've been running in circles.

My father-in-law came home two Mondays ago and I had to call the ambulance the next day to bring him to the hospital. We almost lost him. After days of antibiotics and fluids, he finally checked out of the hospital and into rehab for some physical and occupational therapy. We hope he will be home soon.

As a result, not a lot of reading going on. I am working my way through Little House in the Hollywood Hills, a memoir by actress Charlotte Stewart. I can't say I really knew much about the actress except that she played Miss Beadle on Little House on the Prairie and that she was in Tremors. Definitely gives me a glimpse into Hollywood's crazy hippie days.

Now on to this week's question. I'm always eager for new books. Charlotte Hubbard has a couple of new books coming out that I want to read:

Vannetta Chapman also has a couple of books coming out.

Tandem Demise is the third book in Duffy Brown's Cycle Path Mystery series slated for release this year. I would love to read that one.

This upcoming release from Debbie Macomber sounds good.

So does this late June upcoming release from Diana Gabaldon.

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Interview with Nupur Tustin, Author of A Minor Deception (Giveaway)

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her musical works.

Haydn Series:
Haydn Blog:

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in India, which also means that I was raised on a staple of British and European Literature. I suppose that's one of the reasons I can identify with the curious notion that the city is the center of life. I can sympathize with Haydn's desire to be in Vienna rather than in the backwaters of Eisenstadt, a small town in Royal Hungary, or Eszterháza, practically a village, some twenty miles distant from Eisenstadt.

Being married to an American now, I also completely understand Haydn's employer's aversion for the city. Prince Nikolaus Esterházy liked nothing better than to stay in the tiny, remote, marsh-ridden village of Eszterháza. The hunting lodge he owned there was converted into a magnificent palace with its own opera house. The Eszterháza Palace is still known as the Hungarian Versailles. That's the backdrop you see on the cover of A Minor Deception.

When did you begin writing?

I suppose from the age of about six. Creative writing—spontaneously writing a story or essay based on a prompt the teacher gave you—was a weekly, if not daily, activity at the school I attended. And I loved it. My stories, essays, and poems were frequently read out in class. I was published in the school magazine, and served as its editor in my last couple of years.

Later as a graduate student at UConn, I began selling freelance articles and short stories and wrote articles promoting events for the Von der Mehden Recital Hall. A few years later, I began working for CNBC, and then Reuters.

I'm not sure I'd ever have considered writing novels if it hadn't been for two people I encountered at UConn. One was the author Scott Bradfield. He taught a creative writing workshop that I took, and although we work-shopped short stories, he suggested I consider writing novels. That advice stayed with me, although for the longest time I had no idea what to write about.

And if it weren't for Janice Law, another mystery writer and one of my professors at UConn, telling students that we ought to write what we love, I doubt I'd have considered writing a mystery. I'd still be trying to write the Great American Novel!

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

I have three young children—the oldest turns five on the 24th of January—and the youngest is about 18 months. So, I write when I can. I've often woken up at 5 a.m. to write for an hour before getting the kids ready for preschool. Sometimes, I write after the kids go to bed. At other times, I'm writing while the rest of the family is eating dinner. And then there are times when my muse insists I ignore the temper tantrums around me, and just write.

What is this book about?

Set in December 1766, A Minor Deception is a biographical mystery that features the composer Joseph Haydn as the protagonist. Although winters were usually spent in Vienna, the winter of 1766 is unusual. The Empress Maria Theresa will be visiting Eisenstadt instead.

But things threaten to go awry when a virtuoso violinist, recently hired for the imperial visit, disappears from his post. Replacing Bartó, however, is the least of Haydn's problems.

Both palace and town authorities are surprisingly reluctant to track Bartó down. And when Haydn begins his search, he comes to realize his violinist was a man with a deadly secret. What seemed like a minor musical mishap could turn into a major political crisis unless Haydn can find his missing virtuoso.

What inspired you to write it?

I'd been reading a number of biographical mysteries—Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series, Susan Wittig Albert's Beatrix Potter mysteries, and Bruce Alexander's series about John Fielding. And I'd just come out of a Ph.D. program, and, as a new mother, was pretty much confined to the house with a baby with severe acid reflux disease.

Researching a historical mystery seemed the best way to keep boredom at bay. I love classical music, so researching a composer appealed to me. It was a way of keeping up with my music—by reading about music history and studying theory—at a time when I had very little time for the piano.

Haydn's story and his personality quite simply captured my heart.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

Apart from Haydn, I'd have to say Rosalie. She's a completely fictitious character, a palace maid who along with her friend Greta helps Haydn solve the mystery.

Like Venus rising from the sea, Rosalie sprung from my imagination, fully formed. Not content with the rather minor role I gave her in the first draft of A Minor Deception, she demanded and received her own POV (point-of-view) and scenes of her own.

Her role provides the cozy element in A Minor Deception, and the downstairs dynamic the book gets as a result enables me to portray the complexity of eighteenth-century society. Social mobility wasn't quite as impossible as we consider it to be. Haydn himself rose up the ranks by virtue of his talents. His mother was a cook, and his father a wheelwright.

Gluck was another musician of the period who did very well for himself. And Ditters, a virtuoso violinist and friend of Haydn, was knighted, and came to be known as Ditters von Dittersdorf.

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

Surprisingly less rocky than I would have expected, although anything worth having, I think, involves some pain. When I prematurely queried the first draft of A Minor Deception, based on what I'd heard, I expected to hear. . . crickets. Seriously! Imagine my surprise when I received requests for my manuscript within minutes of sending out my query.

One agent was kind enough to call, and tell me what was going wrong with the manuscript. I took down notes as she spoke, but her advice was rather cryptic. And it took some weeks of watching the Murdoch Mystery Series on television before I realized what she meant by beginning with the "story."

We tend to be less tolerant of extraneous scenes in television shows than we do in books. And I'd begun the novel with backstory!

I used the agent's advice, a developmental editor's identification of plot holes, and Kris Neri's course on plotting mysteries to re-write the novel, and knew I had a winner. That impression was confirmed when I started re-querying agents. Even agents who thought the book wasn't for them, predicted it would be a huge success.

I hope it will. I feel so blessed to have endorsements from my favorite authors: Emily Brightwell, Kate Kingsbury, and Amanda Carmack. My very first Netgalley review was resoundingly positive. So, I think I've been very fortunate.

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

I'm actually glad I knew nothing about the publishing world when I started out. I never would have embarked on this journey if I had. Just as I would never have had children if I'd known how tough it is to be a parent.

But I can't imagine life without my children, and I can't imagine not being a writer.

There are some hard truths you have to accept when you become a writer—that it's a business and you need to market and promote your books in addition to writing them. I accept this part of it just as I accept my children's temper tantrums and frequent bouts of ill-health. No matter what the trials and tribulations, some dreams are still worth having.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Print copies are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Ebooks can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.

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

No. What I have is a text trailer, by which I mean a series of 10-12 excerpts that I worked on for another blog tour. I think it's a fun way of giving the reader a tantalizing glimpse into the book. Selecting scenes from a book is rather like selecting scenes from a movie to create a trailer. The excerpts still need to form a narrative of some kind. I enjoyed working on this, and I hope readers will enjoy it, too.

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

The biggest challenge facing a new author is exposure. People can't buy your book unless they know it exists. There are a number of effective strategies available to authors: Goodreads Giveaways, a Netgalley listing, and guest-blogging for fellow authors.

But the most enjoyable one, I think, is going on a blog tour. This is probably the best way of meeting new readers short of having an event in a bookstore. And it's so much fun. Amy Bruno, who organized this tour, has been such a pleasure to work with. And I do like blogging.

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

I was going to say: "Don't give up!" But a better piece of advice I think would be to join Sisters in Crime, and then to join the Guppy Chapter. I'd never heard of either until Susan Wittig Albert mentioned them to me. I'm so glad she did. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for that very sage piece of advice.

What is up next for you?

Aria to Death, the second novel in the Joseph Haydn series, is complete. It delivers a double-dose of history with Haydn on the track of a dangerous killer as well as the lost operas of Monteverdi.

I've now begun researching Prussian Counterpoint, the third book in the series. We'll meet C.P.E. Bach, the man Haydn counted as his mentor and Frederick of Prussia.

I also want to get some composing done before it's time to launch Aria.

Is there anything you would like to add?

For readers more interested in Haydn and his life, I'd suggest taking a look at my blog: I share snippets of my research and anecdotes from his life. I also share music and research in the Haydn newsletters. You can sign up from my web site: And for anyone interested in listening to my music, the sheet music tab on has audio samples.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 16
Review at Bibliotica

Tuesday, January 17
Interview at The Book Connection
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, January 18

Thursday, January 19
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 20

Sunday, January 22

Monday, January 23
Review at Luxury Reading


To win a paperback copy of A Minor Deception, please enter via the Gleam form below.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in Europe & North America only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Minor Deception

Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Spotlight: Food Junkies by Vera Tarman, MD and Phil Werdell

Is it possible to be addicted to food? When does indulging in 'comfort' food become substance abuse? Is it possible that there is more than a lack of will power at work when someone can't stop eating? In Food Junkies, Vera Tarman and Phil Werdell explain what is - and isn't - food addiction, tackling this complex and poorly understood problem through the stories of many survivors and from the perspectives of medical researchers/practitioners. They break down the science behind the research so that anyone can understand it, and take a fresh look at obesity, overeating, binge eating, anorexia and bulimia. For people struggling with these issues — and their families — recognizing the condition is the first step to gaining the kind of support and advice they need.

Food Junkies (finalist in the 2016 Voice Arts Awards) offers hope and guidance. Read by Lisa Bunting, according to one audible customer review, her "calming voice assists with decreasing the shame so often found with addiction and can open the listener up to actually hearing," while another noted the audiobook version "brought the science to life in a different way than the book. It made it even more real as one can't 'skim' or 'rush' through the life-changing content."



Buy links for the book:

Vera Tarman is a medical practitioner who focuses on addictions. She is the medical director of Renascent, an addictions treatment centre. Dr. Tarman conducts workshops and speaking engagements on the science of food addiction and "comfort food" abuse. She has reached audiences across the world. She lives in Toronto.

Phil Werdell is a recovering food addict, a social work clinician, and an educator. He is the primary organizer of the Food Addiction Institute and the International Society of Food Addiction Professionals, and is Director of ACORN’s Professional Training Program. Phil currently teaches Addictions Studies at Springfield College, School of Human Services, Tampa. He lives in Florida.


Lisa Bunting is a stage, screen and voice actor, drama instructor, audition coach, and professional skills development simulator. For Post Hypnotic Press, she has narrated the non-fiction self-help titles The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, The Remarriage Blueprint, Voice Arts Awards-nominated Food Junkies and the forthcoming i-Minds. She was named Best Supporting Actress at LA’s Focus International Film Festival, Winter 2015. She is a member of Canadian Actors’ Equity and ACTRA.

Vera Tarman:

Phil Werdell:

Lisa Bunting:

Post Hypnotic Press:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Release Day Blitz: Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Self-Publishing by E.J. Stevens

Hot off the presses! SUPER SIMPLE QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING by award-winning bestselling author E.J. Stevens is
available now!


Author: E.J. Stevens

Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press

Pages: 105

Genre: Nonfiction

This simple introductory guide
will give you the basic information you need to begin self-publishing.

Whether you are writing your first novel or looking to breathe new life into
your backlist, this guide will give you the tools you need to successfully
self-publish. Useful information, direct links to resources, checklists, and
step-by-step tutorials will help you create a professional quality book.

Simple tips will save you time that you can spend on writing, publishing, and
promoting your next bestseller.

This book provides an introduction to:
  • Building a Writing Template
  • Copyright
  • Beta Readers and Editors
  • ISBN and Barcode
  • Font Licensing
  • Book Covers
  • ARCs
  • Ebook Formatting
  • Print Book Formatting
  • SEO, Keywords, and BISAC
  • Retail Product Pages
  • Pricing
  • Audiobooks and Narrators
  • Translations and Translators

Each chapter will take you one step, leap, or bound closer to successfully
publishing your book. Grab your cape. It's time to be an indie publishing hero!

Looking to improve book sales? Check out the Super
Simple Quick Start Guide to Book Marketing
by E.J. Stevens.


| Amazon
| Barnes
& Noble
|  Kobo
|  iTunes

Book Excerpt:

Welcome to the Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Self-Publishing.  Whether novice or experienced writer, I hope you find this book helpful as you embark on your publishing journey.  My goal is to provide you with an easy-to-follow guide that will save you time and money through tips and tricks I’ve developed during my writing career.

This guide is arranged in the order in which I publish my own books.  Each chapter will take you
one step, leap, or bound closer to successfully publishing your book. Early chapters introduce concepts vital to getting your book published, and give a simple tutorial on how to complete that step, saving you valuable time.  Pro tips and publishing life hacks will highlight ways to avoid
common pitfalls.  Later chapters provide information on what to do after your book launch, including how to make your book available in additional languages and in the increasingly popular audiobook format.  At the end of this guide, you’ll also find a publishing checklist and a list of useful resources.

I have successfully published 15 fiction books, including the award-winning Spirit Guide young
adult series, the bestselling Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the award-winning, bestselling Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective urban fantasy series.  In 2017, I will release my first works of nonfiction, the Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Book Marketing and this Super Simple Quick Start
Guide to Self-Publishing.  In addition to my 2017 nonfiction releases, I will be publishing two more books in the Ivy Granger series and two books in the much anticipated Whitechapel Paranormal Society Victorian Gothic horror series.

In recent years, my books have won numerous awards.  I am a BTS Magazine Red Carpet Award
winner for Best Novel and Best Book Cover, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

My novels and novellas have been translated into multiple languages, including German, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.  I have also had the pleasure of working with world famous voice artists in the production of over a half dozen audiobooks.

My books have flown to the top of the Amazon bestsellers lists in numerous categories.  I have repeatedly hit the Amazon top 100, and have hit #1 in a variety of categories such as the Mythology & Folktales Fairy Tales category and the Mystery, Thriller & Suspense  Psychics category in Amazon stores worldwide.

I am a guest at conventions and book signings around the world.  Recent conventions include Dragon Con, Boskone, Imaginarium, Readercon, and World Fantasy.  I frequently speak on panels and teach workshops on a wide range of publishing, writing craft, and literary topics.  I have been a guest speaker alongside such notable figures as Charles Stross, Catherynne M. Valente, Orson Scott
Card, Rachel Vincent, Paul Tremblay, Maria Snyder, Leanna Renee Hieber, David Coe, Kit Reed, Peter V. Brett, Jacqueline Carey, and Max Gladstone.

It’s important to remember that I did not start out as a publishing hero.  I’ve made mistakes, ones that you don’t have to make if you follow the steps in this guide.

When I started publishing my books in 2009, there were limited resources in libraries and
online.  I was frustrated by conflicting information, outdated books and websites, dead links leading to 404 errors, and false information posted by people with no industry experience.

Today there are hundreds of books, videos, and websites on how to publish and market your
book.  This wealth of resources is great in theory, but it means that it has become more difficult to find useful information than ever before.  With my years of publishing experience, I can shine a light on the most important tasks, help you set clear goals, and provide tips to ensure you achieve those goals. The Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Self-Publishing will give you the basic information needed to independently publish your book, while providing terminology and resources that
will help if you wish to learn more advanced publishing skills.

Grab your cape.  It’s time to be a publishing hero!

About the Author

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the IVY GRANGER, PSYCHIC DETECTIVE urban fantasy series, the SPIRIT GUIDE young adult series, the HUNTERS' GUILD urban fantasy series, and the WHITECHAPEL PARANORMAL SOCIETY Victorian Gothic horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

When E.J. isn't at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Join the E.J. Stevens newsletter and learn about news, events, and ghosts. Monthly news updates, tour photos, and exclusive reader perks (FREE reads & giveaways!). Great resources for authors on E.J.'s "Author Resources" page on her official website.



Monday, January 9, 2017

Musing Monday - Jan 9

Musing Monday is now hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK'S RANDOM QUESTION: What do you think about books being made into movies or TV shows and do you always read the book first?

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great week. I've gotten back into work full throttle since the holidays and this week's calendar is jam packed.

I'm currently reading this book by Charlotte Stewart, who played Miss Beadle on the classic television show, Little House on the Prairie. She is the fourth cast member-that I know of--to come out with a memoir. Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls Wilder), Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls Kendall), and Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) have also written books.

There is a brouhaha in the Laura world over the creative license Michael Landon took with the show based upon Wilder's books. Some Laura fans refuse to watch Little House on the Prairie because of the inaccuracies. I am a Laura fan who appreciates all the different ways Wilder's legacy is celebrated: books, television, fan fiction stories, live productions, and visits to historical sites. 

Did you read the books or watch the show? What do you think?

This conversation also leads nicely into today's question. As long as the productions are done well, I like it when they turn books into television shows and movies. Many times I read the book first, but in the case of Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and The Thorn Birds I saw the television version first and then read the books. In some ways, I prefer the Anne of Green Gables movies to the first three books they are based upon. The way they changed some of the relationships in the second movie worked much better. 

How about you? Book first? Movie first? A combination?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Book Review: Madam President by William Hazelgrove

Long before there was 24 hours news and calls for transparency, a president's wife and his personal physician were able to cover up the fact that he was gravely ill and she had stepped in to run the country.

In Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson, best-selling author William Hazelgrove creates an engaging account of a strong, independent-minded woman whose devotion to her husband ran so deep she would deceive an entire nation.

During Woodrow Wilson's second term in office, physical strain and ill health led to him suffering a devastating stroke that left him confined to bed for weeks and sequestered from everyone except his second wife, Edith, and his personal physician, Dr. Grayson. Knowing the importance of reducing her husband's stress, Edith--who had always been kept abreast of current affairs--began selecting what matters she would share with the president and delegated others to cabinet members. Hazelgrove's account sheds significant light on this period of time that Edith was secretly running the county. Though she had limited schooling, her close relationship with her husband and his acceptance of women playing a greater role than society found acceptable paved the way for her to step into his shoes.

Hazelgrove doesn't sugarcoat things, though. Edith had a darker side. She disliked certain people with as much passion as she loved her husband. She could hold grudges for a long time. Her contempt for  Wilson's vice-president, Thomas Marshall, was part of the reason she embarked upon what she called as her "stewardship" during her husband's illness. She also sought to replace people she felt were disloyal to him.

Madam President shares a great deal of personal and historical information, making this a love story that unfolds during one of the most tumultuous times in American history. Though I was fully aware of the history and of Wilson's incapacitation, I honestly didn't know much about Edith Wilson. She truly was a woman before her time. Madam President is a fascinating account of this complex, staunchly loyal woman.

File Size: 1459 KB
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Regnery History (October 18, 2016)
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

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

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Book Review: The Complete Self-Publishing Guide by Hank Quense

Not sure if self-publishing is for you? Need some help managing a project you plan to self-publish? Looking for marketing ideas for your self-published project? Maybe you're thinking it's time you take this writing thing seriously and treat it like a business. The Complete Self-Publishing Guide by Hank Quense will help you with all of it.

These valuable guides will give you the tools you need to tackle that self-publishing project you've been thinking of for ages. Though tons of writers self-publish these days, it's not always easy to know how to go about it. That's why Quense put together a series of books that will give you the scoop on what you need to know.

We reviewed Self-Publishing a Book a couple of years ago. You can read the review here. The same no-nonsense, down-to-earth style can be found in each of the guides that the author ultimately compiled into one collection for less than you would pay for each book separately.

As you read through each book in the series, you'll find that some of the information is helpful even if you're not self-published. Having published numerous books and dozens of short stories and articles, Quense has the expertise to share project management and business ideas that you can use in your writing business every day to help you work more efficiently and have a plan for today and the future.

Before you take another step in the process, read The Complete Self-Publishing Guide by Hank Quense. You'll be glad you did.

File Size: 3667 KB
Print Length: 193 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Strange Worlds Publishing (September 25, 2016)
Publication Date: September 25, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

The author gifted me a free digital copy. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Interview with Howard Jay Smith, Author of Beethoven in Love; Opus 139

Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony - "The Best Small City Symphony in America" - and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.




Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am an award-winning writer originally from Long Island and now living and working in Santa Barbara, California. “Beethoven in Love; Opus 139,” is my third book. I taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and have lectured nationally. My short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, I worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. I currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Orchestra in America” - and I’m a member of the American Beethoven Society.

Where did you grow up?

Syosset, Long Island, New York.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Writing a very, very short story about piloting a Cessna 172 when I was twelve.

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

All of the above!

What is this book about?

At the moment of his death, Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This ghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past.
As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.
“Soloist” first-person chapters written by Beethoven himself alternate with the orchestral voices of people close to this magisterial figure, people who loved him yet also had to endure his passions, eccentricities, quirks, obsessions, suicidal tendencies, and downright nasty behaviors.

What inspired you to write it?

When I was not yet twenty-one and going to school overseas, I underwent a near death experience in the course of a severe motorcycle accident. As my body somersaulted through the intersection, time stopped and a great and profound sense of peace and calm overtook my consciousness. Fear, especially the fear of death we all share, disappeared. The biggest shock was landing very much alive – and in pain – on the other side of the crossroad and not the “other side” of life. Years later, when I read the story of Beethoven’s death and how at the last moment he railed against the heavens, I wondered what it would have taken for this great man to come to peace with all the turmoil and failings of his life. And in that nugget of a thought, the novel was born.

Who is your biggest supporter?

Before his death at age 98 ½, two years ago, my dad was my greatest supporter. He introduced me to classical music – and Beethoven – as a child and was thoroughly thrilled that I had completed a full manuscript draft and was selected to join the Board of the Symphony before he passed.

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

When I was young writer just starting out I was a member of a writers group. My fifteen years in Hollywood however broke me of the habit of sharing anything with anyone as the theft of ideas is rampant and real. Since going back to writing fiction I share my drafts with a small cadre of friends whom I know I can trust not only their feedback but their integrity as well.

Who is your favorite author?

I have three actually, Cervantes, Borges and Murakami.

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

I have worked with many agents in the past, especially in Hollywood, with mixed results. I currently do not use one. The book industry seems to be changing so much that most agents are unable to actually sell much of anything unless it is a high concept or celebrity driven product. “Beethoven in Love; Opus 139,” is neither.

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

“Beethoven in Love; Opus 139,” is my third book but the first in the many years since “Opening the Doors to Hollywood,” a guide book for want-to-be-screenwriters, was published by Random House. After searching traditional publishers, I choose instead to go with a friend’s small press. Once we agreed to work together, the process was generally smooth. I had near totally control over the process, from the design and layout to the cover. I was also especially fortunate that my son, the artist, Zak Smith, whose work hangs in eight museums around the world, agreed to do the cover art and came out with a painting of Beethoven and his Immortal Beloved that has become a new icon.

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

Yes, I invested a fair amount of money in a traditional book publicist with a great track record hoping to get national publicity and reviews. What I did not know at the time was that the times they are a changing. The old methods do not work well in this day and age. She had no experience in using the web or social media and her methods did not generate the level of business my publisher and I expected. As a footnote, I am now working with Dorothy Thompson and having far greater penetration and exposure.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

I have limited my sales to online retailers, such as Amazon and review sites, such as Good Reads:

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

It has taken an enormous amount of work, but using Facebook to its creative maximum has worked best. I created a data base of 5,000 friends, post daily to nearly 50 groups, and advertise key posts regularly.

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

Be passionate about what you do and what you write – or don’t bother at all.

What is up next for you?

While writing about Beethoven I rediscovered the pleasure of working with music as a background component. My next project is about Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, and the scandals their operas created in their time.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I welcome feedback from readers, and do work with Book Clubs. To reach me, either use my “Beethoven in Love; Opus 139,” Facebook or Web page or my email:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Musing Monday - January 2

Musing Monday is now hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker It is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK'S RANDOM QUESTION: Have you joined any challenges in reading for the new year? Do you have any general goals book or even not book related for 2017?

Happy new year, everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season. Things are a bit somber here. After having the troops home for nearly two weeks, everyone goes back to their regular schedules tomorrow. Sigh!

This is always a fun time for me, though, because I organize, set goals, and prepare for the year ahead. As far as reading challenges, I am determined to do better than I did in 2016. These are the two I joined:

I love historical fiction and desperately need to whittle away my TBR pile. 

I've also joined the Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge at Books Can Be Deadly and the 2017 Picture Book Reading Challenge at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection.

As far as goals, I have some work-related and others family- and fun-related. My first business planning meeting for 2017 is Friday. I need to get my goals together for that--my plan has been done for a few weeks now--but I know I am looking to double my business this year. In 2016, I had 66% increase over the previous year, so I should be able to pull it off.

My writing goals are:
  • Participate in Picture Book Idea Month. I’ve participated in this endeavor twice, which resulted in Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving being published, Amos Faces His Bully being under contract, and four other picture books written. I’m game to do it again.
  • Submit two short stories this year.
  • Contribute to Guardian Angel Kids e-zine once this year.
  • Seek out guest blogging opportunities once a quarter.
  • Write four chapters of Amelia’s Mission by June.
  • Attend writing group monthly.
This might be optimistic considering all I plan to do with real estate, but we'll see how it goes.

The most important goal, however, is to spend more time doing what I love: time with our family, reading, cooking, and gardening.

What are your goals for 2017?