Archive for Book Reviews

31 Oct 2013

Paul Cude: “Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat from the Past”

1 Comment Book Reviews


“Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past” by Paul Cude is using a highly original idea and makes it the centre of a very entertaining adventure story for young adults and those young at hearts. In times of “Eragon” and “The Hobbit” many of us older adults love a good dragon story just as well as the younger ones and I am sure most people who pick up this book will appreciate Cude’s excellent effort in that regard.

Most of the story however is surprisingly set in present day and not in the distant past. The dragons are not enemies of us humans but are actually here to protect us, a tradition that goes a long way back into their past. Using this inventive set up Cude tells us with much love for detail about the world and communities of dragons, their habitat, tunnels under the sea and much more which I found very enjoyable. 
Myths and legends in the dragon world their good and bad members, their habits, their sports and their views on the human world add flesh to the action part of the story. 

Cude has taken the simple idea and given it a lot of thought and imaginative detail, it is obvious what a labour of love writing this book must have been and it certainly has paid off.
Highly recommended, a great and fun-filled read.


Interview with the author:

How did the idea for the novel come to you?

In the story that I’d dreamt, the main character, when in his dragon form, had a marking on his scales that looked just like a bent whistle. This is where he derived his name from, and I think I was desperate to include this somewhere in the title. As for the ‘threat from the past’……it just seemed so obvious, given how it starts and ends. Those were two parts of the story I knew in my head in graphic detail, long before I’d completed the book. Originally I’d intended just to write the story for my kids……for when they were a little older. But the more I wrote, the more seemed to spring forth from inside me, far exceeding the length I thought the book would be. About halfway through writing that one, I started dreaming about what would happen in the next book and beyond. The whole thing seems almost to have a life and will of its own.

How did you come to writing in the first place?

Oddly it just happened. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my elder daughter was just a baby (she’s not far off 11 now), I had the single most realistic dream I’ve ever had. I didn’t remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head… graphic, so intense, so…..mesmerising. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, “You have to write it, you just have to.” Initially I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story…….sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly…..3 months, and then, well………..I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn’t a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I’ve learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing  process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Difficult question to answer as I love them all for different reasons. The main character, Peter Bentwhistle, is loosely based around me so I suppose I should really say him. But whenever I’m working on the next book, or one of my children asks me a question about any of the characters, each stirs a different memory and emotion in me. Some are based around people I know, and my thoughts turn to them. The lacrosse playing dragon called Richie Rump is based on one of my best friends who was captain of the England lacrosse team and is also a fantastic hockey player. The dragon shopkeeper who sells the best mantras in the world shares the same name with one of my best friends. An important human businessman who is duped, is also named for one of my best friends. Other more minor references feature other friends and acquaintances. When looking for some of the character names I used references from everything around me at the time, while sitting working at my desk. There’s a dragon called Axus….his name was gained from my Canon camera at the time, with just a tiny amendment. Also one of the bad characters is a combination of one of my favourite author’s first names and surnames combined. I now have a long list of dragon names tucked away in my computer somewhere, that I can use whenever I need. I think as it’s my first book, everything, and in particular every character, will always mean a lot to me. So sorry, it’s a bit of a cop out, but they’re all my favourite characters.

Were the plot and sub-plots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

The plot was most definitely planned from the start. I had it all worked out in my head, and the second from last chapter ‘Fawking Hell!!!’ with a huge amount of action in it, I’d known before I’d typed the very first word of the book.

As for the sub-plots, I found my imagination would go off at a tangent while writing. There are a few ‘rants’…..well, that’s what I call them anyway, from the main character, Peter Bentwhistle, who is based loosely on me, which I suppose just flowed out of me while I was caught up in the writing process. I kept them in the story because I thought if they were my opinions, then they should be his as well. They are mainly views on life and morality, hopefully wrapped with a little humour.

Could this become part of a series?

Well, I’ve just finished writing my follow up book….’Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’, and before any editing it’s just over 215, 000 words long, considerably longer than the previous one. It picks up pretty much from where the first book left off. Only in this one, things get much……..chillier. Quite literally. There’s another tale from the nursery ring (where dragons grow up), related to something that happens much further on in the book. Old and new characters alike feature in what I think is an adventure even more action packed throughout. We come across the mysterious nagas, for good or bad, and we learn a little bit more about the background and living conditions of the king, as well as discovering that he’s far from past his sell by date. There’s much more dragon and human team sport. Tank, one of Peter’s friends, even gets to play a whole detailed game of rugby, in a much similar vein to Peter’s hockey match in the first book. Plus more death defying laminium ball matches, this time in the league, rather than the global cup, with the Indigo Warriors perhaps biting off a little bit more than they can chew. Some of the action here is truly EXPLOSIVE! (A clue, methinks…) The characters, new and old alike, reveal a little bit more about themselves, with something for everyone. The new places visited include Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Egypt, USA, and of course the underground world of the dragon domain. My warped sense of humour still features in places of course. Watch out especially for two of the King’s Guards in the early part of the book, that are particularly good value on that front. Other than that, there’s not much more I can tell you without giving away some of the plot, which of course I’m reluctant to do.

What do you do when you don’t write?

When I’m not writing I like to either spend time with my wife and children, or play hockey. A day at the beach down in Swanage or Hengistbury Head followed by a meal out on the way back sounds perfect. If not that, a family bike ride somewhere or a walk in the New Forest. I do love a game of hockey with my friends at Salisbury hockey club, but as I get older it’s much harder to do on a regular basis. I help coach my kids and other children every Sunday morning though, and still try to get to men’s training weekly. Playing squash weekly with an old friend helps me get through the week. (He’s mentioned in the book.)

Which are your favourite books and authors?

When in my late teens, I mistakenly ordered a Tom Clancy book…..Debt of Honour. I was too lazy to return it, so it sat on my bedside table for weeks. Until one evening, when I picked it up and started to read it. Many hours later I put it down, only because I needed a few hours sleep before I went to work. I was hooked. After finishing that, I went out and bought all the other Tom Clancy books I could find. It was also about that time that the Star Wars expanded universe books started to appear. I caught sight of the first one while working in a book shop in my role of service engineer. I can remember it clearly: Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. It had a striking blue cover with some of the Star Wars characters on it, and I had to buy it there and then, in the middle of doing my job, much to the amusement of the owner of the bookshop. My love of the expanded universe has continued ever since, and as soon as the next book comes out…………..I have to have it.

It seems my love of books goes in phases. If I have nothing to read, I wander around a bookshop until I find something I like the look of and then read it. If I get hooked, I go back and find other books by that author. Examples of this for me are Terry Goodkind and Christopher Paolini…………I love all of their books. The detail, the plot……the characters….are just all amazing. I can only dream of writing as well as they do. Other authors I’ve found and loved this way include Robin Hobb, J.V. Jones, David Gemmell and Trudi Canavan, to name but a few. I love the way they use their imaginations and the worlds that they create on the pages of the book. They’re all very easy to visualize.

My favorite author of all though, is the wonderful Terry Pratchett. If you haven’t read one of his books you really should. While I love pretty much all the books he’s written, the ones about the guards of Ankh-Morpork, Captain Carrot, Sam Vimes, Corporal Nobbs, Angua and of course the Lord Vetinari, are easily my favourites. The characters themselves are described in magnificent detail, all with their own funny little ways. The plots twist and turn like a raging river, and the humour……….well, let’s just say that is exactly on my wavelength. I’ve cried with laughter on many occasions reading some of Terry Pratchett’s books, and I can’t recall doing that for any other author I’ve read. If you’re a reading fan, you really must try one of his books.

What would you take to an isolated island?

My wife and children, a hockey stick for the kids and I, and of course a hockey ball. If permitted, just as many books as possible. My whole family love reading, so with a huge supply of books we’d never be bored.

What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

Currently my book can be found for free at Smashwords, in all formats, or can be purchased in either paperback or kindle version from Amazon

The Goodreads page for my book can be found here

My facebook page can be found here

I can be found on twitter @paul_cude

I have my own website to support the book as wells as a blog that provides an insight into me and also offers author interviews.



29 Oct 2013

Interview with multi-talented writer Rhonda Patton

3 Comments Book Reviews


Today I have the honour of introducing Rhonda Patton, who not only writes children’s books but who has also written a ghost thriller and a short book about depression. She works together with her husband Chester McDaniel.

Here is my review of one of her children’s books:

“African Safari with Ted and Raymond” by Rhonda Patton is an educational, entertaining and charming children’s book with beautiful illustrations by Chester McDaniel.
Two frogs go on an adventure somewhere in southern Africa where they meet local frogs and see safari animals. I can’t stress how cute and lovable the illustrations are, appealing and in a simplistic child-like style that instantly draws children and adults alike into the book.
The holiday and safari descriptions are pleasant, informative and written with much care and love. Instead of scaring us away with warning information about the animals Patton has chosen to point out specifics and facts about the animals that we see.
The safari with our frogs is not dramatic and scary but educational and seems to have been written with a view to bring nature and humans in harmony. I loved the fact that it is other animals posing as humans that go on safari, hinting at the idea that we are all part of the animal kingdom and part of the same nature and planet. In a modern world where humans drift away from a natural way of life this book stands out with its magic charm and its subtle and low key message.
Most importantly of all however, it is great fun to read. I definitely recommend this book to children and their parents.

Hi Rhonda, thanks for taking the time for this little interview.

Thank you, I am glad to be here.  1376334_507330346030372_1977771464_n

Tell us how you came to writing alone and with your husband?

When I was younger I was always a lover of teaching and entertaining kids.  My biggest dream was to write a book and it is a big seller. When I was older I had many things direct me different ways from my dream. Then it was when my husband lost his job over 4 years ago, when we were in our desperate times I started looking for jobs for him.  He has a talent in his voices, as I was researching I found a few places here that does animation and may need voices.  So it inspired me to do my writing again.  But, I did not know how to draw characters that well.  I showed my husband a book I wrote over 11 years ago, he read it and said he could draw it.  From then on, he loves to draw for my books.

When did you decide to write together and how did you decide to write in such diverse genres?

We had some weird things happen in our home.  He said we could write about it.  We both had ideas about what we wanted to share, he liked it spookier and I liked it another way.  So we came together and we started getting into the writing.  In the daytime I would write and when he called I shared with him a little until he came home. I have to admit when I was writing “Searching for the Unknown” knowing what I knew about the strange things in our home made me turn my back a little and see if they were actually looking at me while writing. J

What do you prefer, writing children’s book or books for adults?

I prefer children’s books.  Children love simple things.  I like writing simple enough the child can understand and want to pick the book back up again.  My husband does the characters.  I tell him to do it the way he imagines to do it.  In the end, he draws it just the way I like it, I have not liked a character he has drawn.

Your children’s books are great fun. Would you say that there is a message in them, and if so, what it would be?

Each story has a message; each book is something about my life.  I want kids to learn about friendship, caring, learning with fun.  Why should learning be boring?  If the kid’s see my “African Safari with Ted and Raymond” they will love the illustrations, plus learn one thing about the animal they may not even know.  I learn a great deal in research as well. We have too much negative on television from cartoons, to entertainment, and shows.  There is not enough positive. 

What do you do when you don’t write?

Ha … Well I have two kids, one 12 and the other 3.  I am in school (online) getting my associates for Graphic Arts. I am a stay at home mom, with a BIG plate.  But I love every bit of it.  I do a lot of promoting other authors as well.  I love doing it; I love sharing because I do not have a support team sharing for me.  I know how it feels as an author without support from family and friends.  I love what I do, and I know other authors do as well.

You seem to be writing a lot of books. Tell us a little about your writing and editing process. 

My children’s books don’t take long to write.  They are short stories. I get an idea about what I want kids to learn and then I turn it into a positive story for them.  The editing, seriously at first I thought I wrote great, so there are a few “unedited” copies out there. I have a couple of friends who are better English writers than myself edit several books.  And now, being in school, I just took a refresher course as well on my editing skills. I am learning, but I still need someone to look over it as well.

What is your writing environment like? Can you tolerate music or noise or are you a reclusive writer?

Again, if you ever have kids then you know what I am talking about here, “Mommy this, and mommy that” constantly.  So I can say music and noise I am used to. 

How did you come up with the heroes for your books?

I love frogs. “Ted and Raymond” are my frog friend characters.  I started collecting ceramic frogs when I was 17 and had a great collection.  As I grew older with kids, I put some away and kept out a few for my shelves. 

Which of your characters was most fun to write?

I love them all, they are like my kids my characters are part of my family. As they grow they get better, and more creative.  We are starting with new characters and it has been really fun.  Harold, Freddie, and Milo were created about 2 years ago, but they just came out in their own little book.  We will be doing this with all the characters.  I am not sure how they will all fit in yet, but I love the characters.

Are you like any of the characters?

Yes, I am like them all.  They are a part of me in every character.  I look at them how I was and they come out in my writing.  All of the characteristics I have are with Ted and Raymond.  Ted is more a thinker than a doer like Raymond.  I tend to have more of Ted’s character.  Raymond is more like he wants to win, get things easy.  I tend to act like that as well.

What is your life like?

My life has been a roller coaster for the last 4 years.  I have had problems with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. I am an overcomer.  My life has been fun writing.  I drown myself and inspire myself through others. If I fail at something I do not give up. My newest book out “5 Days Free of Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Attacks” I just released.  It is a very short journal about the last four years in a short to the point.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I have always liked Cat in the Hat books as a child.  Older I didn’t read much, but I loved stories by William Shakespeare. I used to watch movies or shall I say “Chick Flicks” until I met my husband.  I still love to see my favourite all time is “Gone with the Wind”.  I also like “You’ve Got Mail”, “”How to lose a guy in 10 days”, and more of those romantic movies.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I am an independent author.  I do not see anything wrong with it.  Some great writers I know are independent writers who have bestsellers.  If you write well, edit well, get your point across then why should a publisher turn you down.  I say let the public get what they want.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

Paul Rega he has three #1 bestsellers, there are many more.  I cannot name them all. I have read so many books and they are all unique and great in their own ways.  His stands out more to me because I am reading his 3rd book now. I have already read “How to find a job when there are no jobs” and it is a great read.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

My best would be honesty, my friendship, faithfulness, and ambition.  My oddest qualities I am not sure.  They may say I am weird because I am not like the world I like a simple life.

What is your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My favourite animal is a monkey.  I have always thought they were cute. My favourite colour is blue, although I love green as well. I love going outside to play with the kids, playgrounds, walking.

What would you take to a remote island?

My family and food that is all I need.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

I would love to invite William Joyce to our house. He is a book writer and animation creator here in Shreveport.  I would not have him over for me, but for my husband.  I would love for my husband to have ONE opportunity to have a sit down and talk with him about his voices.  This is also what inspired me to start writing again.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I wrote “Dylan and the Croak Orleans Gang” it would be out as soon as my husband finishes drawing the characters.  This one will be a fun book for kids. Also, I am working on “The Spirits of ChesterVille General Store” a fun paranormal for the whole family.  You will laugh, cry, and have many emotions in this book.  Our goal is end of Feb. I am also working on a bully story for kids; I have a story about Heaven for kids, Transportation, boating and many more.  I have so many ideas. J My husband just has to keep up, but it is hard with him working. You can find out more and scheduled events at

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

Our books are life lessons where kids can learn and have fun at the same time.  We love writing and drawing for the kids.  I want to change the world one child at a time with a more positive generation.  I guess you can say I am “old school”. 


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“Searching for the Unknown” by Rhonda Patton and Chester McDaniel is a dark and scary short novel about a young couple and a haunted house. A short paragraph at the beginning introduces the terror that our protagonists are exposed to but then we revert to the beginning and how the couple began living in the house. Like in many great psychological thrillers the suspense builds up almost accidentally but it then stays and becomes all the more threatening and – to me – rather overwhelming at times. Just with words instead of gadgets or props the mystery and sense of doom are introduced slowly and grow to an intense and dramatic level.
Spiked with surprises and a few twists I did not see coming this is a great ghost story recommended for all fans of the genre.

27 Oct 2013

Scott Stevens: “Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud: Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety””

3 Comments Book Reviews

silver lining cover

Today I have the pleasure of introducing one book particularly close to my heart. We all know people suffering from Alcoholism and/ or dependency issues. I thought I had read and heard it all, but along comes Scott Stevens with his personal experience and sharp journalistic mind to add a valuable contribution to the discussion. Here is my review, an interview and an excerpt from the book.


“Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud : Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety” by Scott Stevens is a remarkable book about alcoholism that has busted a few myths for me, taught me a few truths and filled in other gaps in what I thought was comprehensive knowledge on the subject of addiction and alcoholism.

With journalistic precision and competence Stevens informs his readers in excellent fashion about the correlation between alcoholism and cortisol, a chemical in the body related to stress and stressors. Stevens also brings in psychological aspects and data, statistics and the impact of spirituality and communication on recovery.
I found Stevens’ approach refreshing because unlike other self-help books there is no agenda or one simplifying message about the subject. This is an informed and personalised account of facts that can clarify patterns, help understanding them and shed new light on the subject without trying to force them into a one-trick-pony of a book.
The book includes many great quotes on the matter and should be helpful for alcoholics and those around them just for the inspirational impact of those alone but I also personally related particularly well to the rational journalistic approach interspersed with the personal.
I commend Stevens for his honesty when it comes to his own private experiences and for his talent to chose wisely where to bring the personal into the book in the first place. Here is not a sinner asking for forgiveness, or someone revealing to shock or to accuse. The ‘sobriety’ of his account is most rewarding and probably helps to increase the impact of what is being shared.
I have already passed the book details on to my friends in recovery.

Interview with Scott Stevens:

(for an excerpt and another review scroll to bottom of this screen)

What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

Thanks for the opportunity, Christoph.  I’ve always been a writer.  I had strong influences at an early age.  I was encouraged to read classics and work on composition.  I went into journalism.  That was a trip.  Working in TV, you learn to be precise but brief.  When I left TV for marketing, I continued as a writer.  That was where my passion was.  I continued my journalism as well, working in “emerging” platforms — not so emerging any longer.  A few years ago, when I left my executive career, I continued writing and consulting until my life took one big left turn.  I turned that into an opportunity to help others with my message, my research and my story about alcoholism and recovery.

Could you briefly describe what your reason to write Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud was and what message you are trying to bring across with this book?

I am alcoholic.  In recovery now, of course, but ran my life against the rocks pretty hard at two-liters-a-day-every-day.  As I began recovery I recognized that the people around me struggling were not the same as the experts writing the books about struggling.  The messages we got in recovery were coming from people who lived lives unchallenged by alcohol.

Is it intended as inspiration, self-help or factual information? 

ALL of the above.  Sort of.  I didn’t set out to write something inspirational, only something practical and useful in the same voice as those most familiar with the drama of the disease.  It is flattering that those same people tell me it IS inspirational.  The journalist in me wanted to write an air-tight, well-researched book.  But I lived it, too.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

My first book was What the Early Worm Gets.  I’d always been the early bird. Still am. But I found out what it was like to be on the other end of the food chain.  Flipping around the old adage ‘The early bird gets the worm’ is a feeling many people upended by alcohol find familiar.

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud is about relapse.  Sobriety was supposed to be the silver lining to the cloud of alcoholism.  When you relapse, you discover that silver lining has a cloud all its own.

How do you come up with your ideas about the structure?

I read a ton of research studies in the course of my reporting.  I know that is NOT how I want my work to read.  I want the facts, but it has to read page to page, not chart to chart.  It’s not a self-help manual for insomniacs… it’s a story for alcoholics and their families.

How do you decide which pieces to put in and which ones to let out?

I have a good editor I trust.  But before she sees it, I clobber my own writing with the red pen. And I mean red pen. I wrote both books in notepads. Two drafts each, long-hand. If you’re going to write long-hand, you cannot allow a whole lot of extraneous stuff.  Removing pieces of a story isn’t easy for fiction writers and it is just as wrenching for me writing non-fiction.  Given my topic, I cut out old-wives tales and myths about the disease.  There is a lot of junk science out there on addiction, so I jettison that stuff quickly.  People die from this:  There is no room for fairytale thinking.  Other pieces may be of value and from reliable sources, but stray too far off the message of the book, so they get set aside.  Some of those set asides from What the Early Worm Gets found a place in Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud.  Some research I did for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud will be more appropriate in my next book on the stigma of the disease.

How comfortable do you feel writing to inspire others?

When people comment on my books being inspiring, then I have accomplished a really humbling task I never really set out to tackle. 

I’m grateful to have had readers who trust me regarding a sensitive, excruciating subject.  As a journalist, I am comfortable with informing with facts.  In relaying my personal story within the framework of the facts, I simply wanted the reader to know that I HAVE been in the very spot, the very crossroads, in which they stand and have felt exactly the same. If they say it is “life changing” or even that it helped just a little, I am comfortable with that, too. It is very high praise.

How long did it take you to write?

How old am I?  It’s pretty much been in development that long.  The actual writing of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud took 18 months.  Could have been faster using something other than old-fashioned pen and paper, but I don’t know if I’d have the same confidence in the finished product.

It might take me longer to write, especially compared to many, more prolific authors.  Part of it is the archaic pad-and-pen, but part of it is my background.  Reporting teaches brevity.  I write 60-second broadcast stories, or 300-word pieces for news sites.  Then putting a manuscript together, especially one with 70-plus citations, is like jumping from Tonka trucks to driving a semi.

How do you write? What is your writing environment like?

I’m always writing in my head.  And I usually have scrap paper or a journal handy and write down things to look up or thoughts I could develop.  When I am sitting down to write, I’ve done it on trains and other noisy places just as easily as if I were secluded in total silence.  I’ve come to appreciate that when you FEEL like writing, you do it that very moment before the moment escapes, no matter where you are, no matter what hour.  I’m still a morning person, so there is a lot of scribbling or keyboard clacking going on early in the day.  Sometimes well before the sun is up.

How many rewrites did it take you? 

Three before I handed it off to several fresh sets of eyes for review.  One of which is my seventh grade English teacher.  She’s a grammarist, but excuses my often conversational style when I fracture the rules.  She also reads it for flow, not just for Oxford commas or dangling modifiers.

Who are your favourite authors / influences?

Way too many to include.  My favorite mass-market authors include Jefferey Deaver.  I can’t read research reports all the time, and when I want a great, twisty rabbit trail to follow, Deaver is the guy.  Stephen King’s The Stand is one of many favorites.  American TV journalist Charles Kuralt wasn’t just an influence for my journalism career, his writing style balanced news with color and feeling.  That’s a special gift of his that influenced how I’ve approached both books.

Who are your favourite independent writers? 

I like your work, Christoph.  Simon Okill is a very talented paranormal author you featured in Sept.  I also like the work of William O’Brien, Dianne Harmon, Marsha Roberts,  Karen Prince,  Lucy Pireel.  Zushka Biros of the U.S. and Australian Kerry Connelly write great non-fiction in recovery themes. Many more. The list is long.  There is a lot of excellent writing in the indie space.

Thank you. What are your next projects? Another book? Workshops?

Speaking opportunities when they come up.  I’m very busy promoting Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud these days though.  The book on stigma is a work-in-progress.  I have two childrens’/young readers’ books I’ve written that I dream of publishing sooner rather than later, however I’m busy being a dad to my own young readers, too.

Where would we be likely to find out about the stigma project? 

My website.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Christoph, it is a whole soundtrack!  At times, it is Runnin’ With the Devil by Van Halen.  At times, it is Help by the Beatles.  At times, it’s the melancholy In My Room by The Beach Boys.  Everything I Do I Do It For You by Bryan Adams.  Sounds sort of like Metallica meets Adele, doesn’t it?

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

My idea from the word go.  I had the first say, went with my first idea (but not my only one).  I ran it past many eyes and the cover stood out.  Typeface and layout aren’t my thing.  The designer made it work.  I had the right image to go with the title.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

The highs and lows are the same thing:  Doing it yourself.  I don’t know enough to know what I don’t know.  So I had to listen and learn.  But as frustrating as self-publishing can be, it is also that rewarding in the end.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I usually have two or three going on at the same time.  If I have a really heady psychology title I’m reading, I balance it out with a great piece of fiction.  I’ve just completed reading a horror short, Orchid, on Kindle by indie author, Shane O’Neill from Norway.  I’m halfway through the paperback of Babylon Confidential, an alcoholism memoir by Claudia Christian.  And I just downloaded indie author Diane Major’s I Am Nine.  I’m reading the paperback on Women for Sobriety with my eye on beginning a Men for Sobriety meeting locally.  There’s a stack of psychology/addiction/recovery books in my in-box, too.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I have a very personal, sensitive topic that is wrapped in stigma and myths and opinions.  I challenge long-held myths and it will not please everyone.  For example, I recently did an ad campaign  in which I call the disease a disease. You’d think I knifed a puppy.  The idea that alcoholism is a moral failure rather than a medical and genetic condition is still deeply rooted, despite nearly 60 years passing since it was recognized as a disease.  Even some medical professionals still hold onto antiquated beliefs.  Several people lashed out over the ads on Facebook. It’s doubtful the ads convinced them to read the book, let alone let go of outdated stereotypes.  They were criticizing a word, not me, not the book.  Just like a romance writer won’t win over every romantic, an alcohol writer won’t connect with every alcoholic.  Alcohol misuse is the third-leading cause of death worldwide.  That’s developed countries like the U.K. and U.S. included.  The social problems are tremendous – to the tune of $223 billion a year in costs in the U.S. – and the public picks up the majority of the tab.  It’s the leading cause of emergency room visits.  Most important is the chaos it causes families.  There is room for another voice in the field of recovery books, especially a voice that’s actually experienced the dread and drama, regardless of the critique of my message.

As for reviews, I appreciate honest reviews.  Criticism for the sake of throwing rocks, well, I have to just roll with it because I put myself out there for good or bad.  Coming from a TV background, you get a pretty thick skin.


My site:

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Twitter: @AlcoholAuthor



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“Alcoholics have a tendency to cling to their denial of their losses, not denial of their problem. By lingering in the stage, it only makes the cortisol worse. Even though the reason we linger in denial is simply that we don’t want to feel worse, we’re actually feeling worse because of the cortisol. To move away from more of continued Symptoms, the denial evolves into anger. Ashley Davis Prend identifies it as going from “Not me” to “Why me?” and it takes a long time.


“On average it takes one to three years to work through the disorganization and anger stage. That’s because you need to process the grief repeatedly so it can sink in, settling on deeper levels of consciousness over time.”


Simply put, you’re not going to be pissed off one time for one day, but you’re entitled to it and it is a healthy part of what comes naturally during mourning and recovery. Different anniversaries rekindle the anger. Social losses and financial ones have long tails and breed anger over and over. Impatience sparks the anger, too, because all of us Alcoholics have a little control freak in us.


Unfortunately, some of us never get past the anger because that’s where we lapse. We drink at the anger. Or if we don’t drink, we become what’s known as a dry drunk, a bitter and angry person who doesn’t and won’t drink. The dry drunk won’t find recovery, but will maintain sobriety because they cling to the anger. They become dry drunks because of a false sense of power anger provides. It does beat being sad. Sad feels so broken, anger feels powerful, but sadness is the next stage. Rather than moving forward, the dry drunk chooses the power of anger rather than feeling like the ornament at the bottom of the Christmas storage box. They’re usually more of a pain in the ass than they were when they were drinking.”

from Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud: Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety, pg. 79








Have you ever wondered what you would like to do with a person who drinks and drives? Different people will give some very different answers to that question, but what would be the most (cost- and help-) effective way? In “What the Early Worm Gets” Scott Stevens writes about his personal experience with one judicial and correctional system in place in the US today that deals with those offenders. Unfaltering standing up for his mistakes and honest to the bone about his life as an alcoholic he writes as an intellectual, not as an angry victim – although as the reader I often got angry at the way an ill person is misdiagnosed, mistreated, angry at the waste of tax resources and the short sightedness of some of the existing programmes.
Stevens points out many lesser known facts and statistical data about alcoholism, clears up some common misconceptions and misleading terminology and gives constructive ideas for changes and amendments to current policies. Fully knowing his science Stevens presents his material with the skill of a sharply minded professional journalist. By bringing his own life and his dramatic experiences into the writing with understandable emotion but also objectivity and honest assessment of his path I find it difficult to imagine that someone could not agree with his findings and conclusions.
This is a well written, informative and perspective changing essay that should be made compulsory reading to those in charge of alcoholics and alcohol abusers everywhere. 






25 Oct 2013

“Journey to Jazzland” by Gia Volterra de Saulnier

1 Comment Book Reviews


“Journey to Jazzland” by Gia Volterra de Saulnier with its beautiful illustrations by Emily Zieroth is a magnificent piece of art.
The story follows Windy Flute on her quest from overly regulated orchestra music to Jazzland, the place where there is freedom to play in a group but according to your heart. On her journey she is joined by other instruments who also don’t want to play to someone else’s tune.
The book is a great tool to teach some basic music theory to children as the characters include several Jazz instruments but of course it also works as a metaphor and tribute to freedom of expression in all walks of life.
With delightful characters and a wonderful message this is a great read for any age group that left me feeling warm, inspired and upbeat.



About The Author:

Born and raised in Fairhaven, Massachusetts and attended University of Lowell (now University of Massachusetts, Lowell). It was there that I learned to love jazz. I have been performing jazz and other kinds of music for over 20 years, throughout the New England area. I live in North Reading, Massachusetts with my husband Richard, and my son Charlie.

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One day during an orchestra rehearsal, Windy Flute was playing a piece of music and her mind started to wander. Over and over, she had practiced this piece and played this piece. Feeling bored, she felt that she wanted to be a little different.

Then something special happened. She began to hear notes that weren’t on the page of sheet music on her stand! When she started playing what she heard, Windy realized these new notes made her feel better. The harmonies and the melodies were the same, but the music moved differently. Before she could figure things out, she was interrupted by a stern voice.

 “Excuse me, Ms. Flute, do you mind playing with the rest of us? Where do you think you are — Jazzland?” said Mr. Conductor, scowling down at her.

After the rehearsal, Mr. Conductor gave Windy a severe look and stomped off the stage.

Windy turned to her friends in the woodwind section. “What’s Jazzland?” she asked. She was still thinking about the good feelings she got from playing different notes.

“It’s a myth,” said Mr. Bassoon.

“That’s right,” said Mr. Oboe, “It’s a legend. It doesn’t really exist.”

 “I think it exists,” said Spitz Trumpet.




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23 Oct 2013

Dianne Harman: Blue Coyote Hotel, Tea Party Teddy and Coyote in Provence

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 Today I have the pleasure to present the complete works of Dianne Harman and an interview with this wonderful and upbeat writer.



“Blue Coyote Hotel” by Dianne Harman has at its heart an excellent idea and an intelligent concept that is very well presented and told with irony as well as compassion.
The main character Jeffrey is an idealistic scientist very much in love with his beautiful wife Maria. Working on an anti-ageing drug initially he compromises his work life for Maria, loses his job and ends up pursuing his dream of making the world a better place by other means at the Blue Coyote Hotel. The book actually begins with the story of one of the visitors to the Hotel and how his stay in their specially ‘air conditioned’ rooms positively affects his life. Throughout the book Maria and Jeffrey’s story is interspersed with segments about visitors whose lives miraculously change after staying at the hotel. For me this concept worked extremely well as we get to see the potential of Jeffrey’s dream and almost accidentally get to know some of the characters that will become more important for the plot later.
Harman has created two very interesting main characters with a lot going on in their lives and heads and she takes us honestly and compassionately through their changing circumstances while adding some other very colourful and entertaining people to the mix: A catholic priest, a Native Indian Doctor and an overweight business executive to name some of them.
With all the care that was put into the story and the people populating it, the book does an excellent job at making us feel for the characters, even if they bend the rules or are involved in ‘drugs’. You get to see where each character comes from and how their motifs are quite often benign and honourable. Told with wit and a great sense of irony this is a complex and engaging read that stayed with me for a long time after I finished it. With romance, idealism, moral aspects and even some suspense in the story this is a remarkable debut novel by a confident and compelling new writer. Harman tells her story with a perspective changing, confident voice which translates into a great narrative. I read the book in almost one sitting, completely involved, taken in and curious were the story would end.
Original, fascinating and very well written this is highly recommended.



Hi Dianne, thanks for taking the time for this little interview.

Thank you for having me!

Tell us a little about yourself. Have you always written?

No. I entered the game pretty late. Actually I was 68 when my first book, Blue Coyote Motel, was published. Had always thought about writing. Who doesn’t? But I didn’t feel I had the necessary credentials such as critique groups, workshops, etc. I happened on Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and he more or less says “Just Do It” and so I did!

How did you have the inspiration for your stories?

Blue Coyote Motel was a curious thing. We were at a boutique hotel in Palms Springs, California, for a wedding. Our son was the best man and the family had taken over the hotel for the event. It was 106 degrees in October. The air conditioning was wonderful and so quiet. The old hotel had recently been refurbished. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a ‘feel-good’ drug in the air conditioner and everyone felt good all the time?” He responded, “There’s your book.” And so it was.

My recently published sequel “Coyote in Provence” came about because so many people asked me what happened to Maria. The continuation of her story needed to be told. And am in the process of doing the final editing for the third book in the Coyote series.

Tea Party Teddy came about because my husband was in the California Legislature for twelve years and we entertained Governors, Congressmen, and people of every political persuasion. I had a front row center seat watching the political world unfold, and so I satirized the experience. It was an interesting time!

Is one of your books more important or personal to you and if so, why?

Whatever I’m writing is my favourite. It’s as if the characters dictate where the story goes. I just sit back and write what they tell me.

Do you have personal experience with politics or the pharmaceutical industry?

Pharmaceutical, no, politics, yes.

Did you do a lot of research for the books?

I research when the events call for it. For instance, in Coyote in Provence, California Impressionist paintings are stolen and smuggled into France. I was on the phone with the Los Angeles Art Fraud Division and Interpol finding out if the US could get the paintings back and what their policy was.

Would you say you have a political or personal message in your books?

I have been told there is a theme of good vs. bad in my stories, but I don’t write the story with a message in mind.

How much of the storylines was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

My writing is totally organic. I start with an idea, but I never know exactly how it’s going to come out.

Tell us a little about your writing and editing process.

I am very fortunate that I don’t have to work outside the home and I have far more time to write and edit than most people. I’m usually at my computer marketing and writing from about 7 or 8 in the morning until 5 at night and I usually write in the mornings on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, family and other things certainly cut into that time. Marketing is a big part of it, and I believe in digital marketing. As far as editing, I have a copy editor I usually send my books to first. Then I send them to beta readers. My husband is an excellent editor and reads everything two to three times. It’s amazing what you miss when it’s your own. My copy editor places a lot of emphasis on emotions, dialogue, etc. while my husband is much more plot oriented, so there’s a good balance.

Have you always written?

I wrote a book when I was nine about a little girl who goes to China. What was up with that and what did I know? Nothing! No novels until I was 68, but I wrote for newspapers, etc. during those years.

What is your writing environment like? Can you tolerate music or noise or are you a reclusive writer?

I guess I would be a reclusive writer. I don’t have music on. I sit at my computer to write and often in the morning I’ll wake up early and do marketing and email on my iPad while I have a cup of coffee in bed.

Which of your characters was most fun to write?

Slade Kelly, without a doubt. He’s simply a fun reprobate and everyone asks when I’m going to make him more of a major character. Haven’t quite worked that out.

Who would play them in a film?

I don’t know.

Are you like any of the characters?

Some have said that I’m somewhat like Nina in Tea Party Teddy, a politician’s wife. I don’t really see the resemblance, although a couple of the events in the book did happen to me. One which I still remember was being at a Boys and Girls Club dinner at the head table when a woman came up to me and told me how great it was a politician’s wife would wear the same outfit that she wore last year! Who remembers things like that?

What is your life like?

I live the dream life. I’m doing what I love and close enough to the Pacific Ocean I can walk to it. I have a great family, good health, and a husband who has taken over most of the household work so I can write. What’s not to like? I consider myself extremely fortunate!

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I seem to be influenced by whatever I’m reading. I remember years ago when I made the decision not to finish a book because I wasn’t interested in it. Now I probably only read about 10% of what I pick up. Ayn Rand made a huge impression on me. I remember picking it up the first semester of college during final exams. Not smart. I couldn’t put it down and my grades that semester reflected it! I never would have thought I would be writing a lot of thriller/suspense books, even romantic suspense, but certainly Michael Connelly, Dennis LeHane, and Daniel Silva are three that come to mind. I’m a fan of Woody Allen and love his movies!

What are your views on independent publishing?

Pro and con. I see a lot of books that are self-published that have gross errors in them and have obviously not been copy edited. That’s a shame because it certainly bears on how a reader regards the writer and the story. An excellent story can be completely ruined by sloppy editing. The great part about it is that an author doesn’t have to wait by the mailbox for years hoping for a letter of acceptance.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I love B.R. Snow. I think his books are absolutely comically wonderful. I’ve read everything he’s ever written and am anxiously awaiting his next one. John Dolan is a brilliant author who writes great stories, primarily centered in the East. He’s an extremely erudite man, and I love his references to things. And Christoph, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that your book, “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” was one of the best literary fiction books I’ve read.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Best – I really care about people. Oddest – even though I’ve been in the public eye because of past businesses I’ve owned, antique & art appraiser, yoga studio owner, international yoga teacher, and credentialing yoga teachers, as well as having a husband in politics for 18 years, I love to be by myself. At heart I’m an introvert, not the extrovert everyone thinks!

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My favourite animal is my 90 pound brindle boxer, Rebel. My favourite color is probably rust. As for an outdoor activity, it’s changed over the years. Used to love backpacking and have trekked in the Himalayas. I love the ocean, so probably a walk on the shore!

What would you take to a remote island?

I’d hope it has WiFi because I have become quite attached to my iPad!Yes.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

Buddha. I’m fascinated by Eastern philosophy.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

At the moment, I’m editing  two and three in the Teddy series as well as a boomer novel that interests me. You can find me on facebook (Dianne Harman) or (Dianne Harman Author), twitter @DianneDHarman, or on my website,

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Every book is a challenge, will this work? Will that? Does it make sense? Would a character do that? I write for the Huffington Post, over 50, and recently wrote a column entitled “Oh Wow.” As we get older, we tend to have fewer and fewer of those moments. Writing keeps my mind and opens me up to a multitude of new things and a lot of “Oh Wow” moments!


Blue Coyote Hotel on your Amazon site

Tea Party Teddy on your Amazon site

Coyote in Provence on your Amazon site 

Bonus feature:


I couldn’t wait to read “Tea Party Teddy” by Dianne Harman ever since I finished her debut novel “Blue Coyote Hotel” to see where this promising and sharp minded writer would take her creative career. Tea Party Teddy is a perfect follow up, playing once again with themes of corruption and political ideals. Cleverly set up and plotted the book follows a Republican politician on his evil, ruthless and harmful campaign trail, the enemies he makes and the debt he builds and the impact of his career on his private life.
Harman does an excellent job at creating great suspense by planting plenty of plot seeds in the beginning of the book that push the story forward at perfect pace. As the story unfolds the author writes with insightful details and competent manner about the party politics, the lobbyists and corruption, infidelity and revenge.
You love to hate Teddy and with so much going on and emotions and politics going wild this is great entertainment and a fascinating and educational novel written with excellent sense for irony and dry sense of humour. 
A very compelling and rewarding read with a moral component and a lot of bite.



I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of “Coyote in Provence” by Dianne Harman, the long awaited sequel to her excellent novel “Blue Coyote Motel” and I am pleased to have found it just as remarkable and enjoyable as the first one.
Maria, the ageing Mexican beauty and widow of an American scientist, is hiding in France under a new identity. Harman did a splendid job at tying everything up at the end of the last book but manages to unravel the story again easily. Maria is still ambitious and somewhat of a loose agent who won’t be satisfied with a boring and secluded life and therefore attracts people and problems. Of all people she falls for a detective from Southern California on a field trip to locate stolen art.
A separate narrative introduces a filthily rich Afghan business woman with a big heart. I don’t want to give away much more of the plot to avoid spoilers. All I will say is that said woman is an amazing character and a great and intriguing addition to the already well composed and wonderful cast. Harman really knows how to write entertaining and thoughtful stories with characters caught in the grey areas of morality and legality. With clever juxtaposition and sharp dialogue Harman makes several important points about those (too often contradictory) concepts.
I was impressed how the narratives then come together and how the themes from book one returned so naturally and organically into this story. As far as sequels go this is masterfully crafted and particularly pleasing as the plot is not predictable and the book contains a lot of new elements, yet retains the original character of the series / trilogy (Maybe we can persuade Harman to go beyond the third book?).
I found this a gripping and compulsive read and – although I really hate to use this worn out phrase in reviews – I cannot wait for the next book to find out more about how the remaining issues will be resolved. 
A great equal to book one and a real treat.


22 Oct 2013


1 Comment Book Reviews


“Stealing Asia” by David Clarkson is another great travel adventure story by this talented author.
The first part of this book is told by Ben, a traveller in South East Asia, somewhat inexperienced but brave enough to save a girl from a mugging. The two become lovers and have a great time together until odd occurrences no longer can be seen as coincidental and Ben and his girl, also named Asia, need to get away.
But all is not as it seems, as we learn in the subsequent parts, told by different characters of the book.
The unfolding and unravelling of the plot and the change from holiday romance and harmless adventure story to action packed thriller is done very well, I did not see the twists and deceits in the story coming. The change of voice in the different parts is something often frowned upon in reviews but I personally find the benefit of added perspectives always intriguing and in this story particularly useful and enjoyable.
There is a lot of thought and plotting in this novel and we are casually confronted with the ins and outs of travelling in Asia as tourist, the author seems to have sound knowledge of the area he is writing about and feeds us information in a low key journalistic style. The narrative voices are also often understated and do feel very realistic rather than sensationalist or over the top.
I may have a thing for travel writing ever since I read “Backpack” in the 90ies but few have impressed me as much as this novel has. 
If beautiful, atmospheric and descriptive writing about a holiday adventure gone wrong is your thing and you like fast paced thrillers this is definitely for you.
Highly recommended.


Find David on his website:

Link to his book on Amazon:

David on Goodreads:

My feature on his book “Outback” and an interview :



Ben is a backpacker struggling with life on the road. That is until a chance encounter brings him together with the enigmatic Asia. She is smart, beautiful and everything else that he could possibly desire in a woman. She also has an uncanny habit of attracting danger. 

When events conspire to keep the pair apart, Ben begins to question if it is coincidence or a conspiracy. He learns that Asia’s life may be in danger, but he is unsure of exactly where the threat is coming from and who to trust. Only one thing is certain; unless he acts fast, it will be too late. In order to protect his new love, he is forced into making a drastic decision..


21 Oct 2013

“Jack Cannon’s American Destiny” by Greg Sandora

1 Comment Book Reviews


Jack Canon American Destiny 3D

“Jack Canon’s American Destiny” by Greg Sandora was given to me for a review by a blog tour operator. Political thrillers are not my usual genre but this has a very interesting main character: An idealistic Kentucky Senator, a dreamer and Democrat, who is determined to succeed for the greater good.
He tells his own story, which adds subjectivity to the story and leaves some room for making up our own mind about him. Do we agree with everything he says? We follow his campaign and the politics of 2016 America in a fast pace and smooth writing.
I probably don’t know enough about American politics to comment, but the descriptions of the campaigning are as much as I would imagine them to be. The continuous threat to a politicians integrity, the temptation in form of his assistant Sandy, a murder plot and the impact of his political life on his family, all of this is well portrayed and makes for some interesting and thoughtful reading.
This is at times a very powerful read and should please the fans of the genre.


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Jack Canon’s American Destiny

by Greg Sandora

I’m originally from the Portland, Maine area and lived and worked there for years before moving to Southwest Florida. I am currently working on the sequel to Jack Canon’s American Destiny – which will be titled Jack Canon Clean Sweep. The sequel will be available in about three months.

My Dad and Mom were artists, my father painted and my mother wrote poetry and loved to garden. Most Saturdays we loaded up the 1970 Chevy Impala to trek to a one man show somewhere or other. I took a different track graduating with a business degree; owning and operating an Award Winning Franchise Fitness Center. Currently a professional manager I am living in Florida with my beautiful wife and children, and following my passion.

Some of my other projects include a children’s book called Sammy the Sea Turtle – about an infant sea turtle taken from his nest the night he was to find his way to the sea. Sammy lives with the family until their son – the boy who took him, graduates from high school. On that day Sammy, backpack in tow – begins the long journey home.
My second project in the works involves angels – a man during a visit to Bar Harbor Maine encounters an angel; quite accidentally, he is told – she was not supposed to make him aware of her existence. Only three others have ever seen the real thing. Naturally he falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful creature.


The only thing that gave me a worse vibe than these two was Gene’s taste in decorating. The ceilings were about 30 feet high and three walls held books up to about the first 15 feet, after which was a very large landing around three quarters of the room. The wall opposite the door was made up of five floor-to-ceiling arched windows. The bottom six feet of each had colonial muttons and were partially opened, allowing the outside winter cold to fight with the heat in the room. On the landings above the bookshelves were housed various artifacts of torture.
Gene saw me noticing, “These are from the collection of King Henry,” he boasted.
There were guillotines and stretching racks and other devices all made of aged wood and black iron. Some had big weathered chain links hanging from them and leather straps. There were black iron turning wheels, the sight was gruesome.
Gene motioned to a large axe with a semicircular blade and an unusually long, thick handle.
“This is my prized piece of the entire collection – the axe used to behead Katherine, Henry’s youngest bride.” Mounted next to the axe, on a polished cherry post, was a scrap of parchment.
Next to it, carved in gold lettering over black onyx, was inscribed an onlooker. The parchment had faded to an almost illegible degree and was kept behind glass.
Gene said, “The onlooker’s account is sealed in helium, just like the Declaration of Independence, to preserve it. I’ve had it authenticated by historians, expert in the period.” The words were transferred onto the stone.
The eerie account told of the misty morning when the helpless fair-haired teenager, a mere girl, forced to lay under the weight of the wealth of England, was led to her death.
I read the inscribed: Queen Katherine emerged just before nine in the morning. A rain the night before had turned the courtyard muddy to our ankles. The streets containing the foul smell of chicken scratch and horse urine slurried into the mix. Gawkers’ pushed for position and strained to see the delicate fawn-like Katherine as she walked barefoot, clothed only in a very plain and simple linen dress. The exposed skin of her upper chest was so pale I could see the ghostly blue vein patchwork just beneath. The last time I had seen the young queen she was amazing, the most beautiful woman in all England.
Fancily dressed and bright, riding in an open coach smiling sweetly waving to her subjects, I fancied the thought our eyes might have met for a second.
“Spill her blood!” A spectator called out. I thought, what cowards this mob, content to stand by and watch. Greedily clinging to their own lives–any one of which could be wrenched from him in a second.
This bitter gray morning, the little Queen made her way slowly up to the old worn wooden steps, pausing briefly, turning sad doe eyes back to the crowd. A pitiful thin waif of a child so helpless and demure, Katherine continued up the stairs carefully gripping the railing as if it were her mothers hand, that somehow she might be swept away from all this.
Once upon the platform, facing the crowd full on, her tiny limbs were exposed and pale, a simple dress hanging over her nearly shapeless frame. She wore no jewelry. Her one remaining vanity, long hair, perfectly combed. The henchman placed her firmly against the block and with a blank and helpless stare Katherine moved her beautiful locks to one side exposing her slender neck.
I waited for her to jump to her feet and scream out in defiance, “What have I done that your precious King isn’t guilty of?”
Laying her head sideways on the block, she awaited her fate in silence.
The black-hooded killer appeared to us like a giant standing over her. A moment before, even the handle of the axe and the blade had been taller than the living little queen. He drew back.
I heard the neck cracking then a thud as the girl’s head crashed to the platform floor. Steam rose from the blood pouring in a warm pool from the lifeless body slumped behind the block.
Gene Hobbs had acquired the only known account of the gruesome event; one can imagine that onlookers must have rushed to write on whatever they could find to recount the scene. The metaphor of the rich over the poor and the machinery of torture in the room made me shudder. Reading the narrative, I felt sickened by the horror of the day, for lost innocence and the tyranny of the time. What a waste of a beautiful young life; what a disgrace for England.

Political Thriller Comes to Paperback an Exciting New Release from Itoh Press

Ft Myers, FL — (SBWIRE) — 03/22/2013 — Political thrillers grab readers by the frustrations and give their minds a good shake. In a time when little gets done in real world politics, and the excuses and accusations are lame, the political thriller novel fulfills a need to see change happen fast, concluding with sweeping drama. This week Itoh Press will release the paperback edition of “Jack Canon’s American Destiny”, a political thriller which has gained a word-of-mouth following in its current ebook format

Author Greg Sandora wrote “Jack Canon’s American Destiny” as a first person narrative from the point of view of a liberal politician, Jack Canon, running effectively for President Of The United States, when no one in corporate or political power wants him to succeed. A flawed character himself, Jack Canon must face down character assassination plots and murder attempts, on himself and those close to him, all in an effort to move him off political center stage.

Sandora brings the reader intimately inside the head of Jack Canon, a true-believer, a man in love with two women, charismatic, somewhere between Jack Kennedy and Hemingway, with a passion for his friends and his beliefs. The novel is unlike many political thrillers, though as suspenseful on the intrigue as the best political novels, this isn’t just a political thriller, but a character study, and a study of love and friendship among truly human characters.

The genre of the political thriller serves all shades of the political spectrum. No one character of a particular political color is immune from being cast as the hero or villain in the political thriller. However, it exists as a genre where most practitioners take a conservative leaning, where a clear protagonist is drawn with only minor flaws. The combination of a liberal politician who struggles with his own passions brings a refreshing dimension to the political thriller. That such a person might have political savvy to successfully go up against violent and unchecked powers in the country reflects the best hopes that we as a people have in our political process.

Greg Sandora’s says of his novel, “This is a story I’ve always wanted to see myself. Jack Canon’s destiny is to make things right. The wealthy in this country have picked on the foreclosed carcass of the middle class. Jack Canon is a charismatic leader who goes ‘All In’ to make things right. The climax is so shocking you’ll pull the covers and draw the shades.”

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Publisher: Itoh Press
Release Date: March 18, 2013
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Book Description:

It’s the steamy summer of 2016 in Washington, D.C. just days before the Democratic National Convention. A long and painful recession has left ordinary Americans suffering, spawning the hottest Presidential Contest in history. Jack Canon, a man born into privilege, a witness to great social injustice is going to be President of the United States–no matter what! Desperate and corrupt, the leader of the free world orders a hit to slow him down. The plan backfires–the wrong people are dead–a manhunt points to the unthinkable–The President of the United States.

Rewind one year, Jack’s focus on redistribution of wealth and energy has made him powerful enemies. Once his friends, Rogue Billionaires, Oil Sheiks, the Mob, all want him gone. The current President wants him alive–thinking he can win against an unabridged liberal. A Universal Raw Nerve of wealth vs. poverty is exposed becoming a thrill ride as deep machinations of espionage, geo-politics and deception, even murder play out. Kind and charismatic, Jack’s just naughty enough to have you falling for him like one of his loving circle of loyal friends. Of course he’s flawed, a dedicated family man, faithful to one woman, but in love with two. Is it his fault his best friend is impossibly jaw dropping beautiful? Think the crime and passion of the Godfather meets the romance and innocence of Camelot. A story that could spark a movement, a book that can seed a revolution. A heart thumping climax so shocking you’ll pull the covers and draw the shades! One things for sure, through all the drama and suspense, you’ll be pulling for Jack!


About Greg Sandora

Greg Sandora, author of “Jack Canon’s American Destiny“, grew up with parents who followed their passions and has spent his life doing the same. After owning an award winning fitness center in his hometown of Portland, Maine, Sandora moved to Ft Myers, Florida where he currently writes and works as a professional manager.

Jack Canon’s American Destiny” is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Greg Sandora
Fort Myers




19 Oct 2013

“Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton

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 I saw a feature on “Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton on a writer’s blog [Lucy Pireel] and I was immediately drawn in by the subject: surviving your husband’s suicide.
The book is truly amazing. Easton opened my eyes to the tragedy and its manifold implications that this period in her life held for her and her children.
The book is written in raw honesty but does a splendid job at sticking to the author’s side of the experience. Without portraying herself as a victim or accusing those around her who did or could not help, Easton describes her experience soberly and in a way that broke my heart.
Maybe the book was written in parts as a catharsis but it will serve perfectly for other ‘suicide survivors’ to learn that they are not alone, that their worst experiences have happened to others, too, and that – like Easton – they will come out at the other end, that this will pass too. 
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. From the moment Easton finds her husband, to the humiliating and insensitive behaviour of the emergency and police services on the scene, to family and friends unable to provide appropriate help to dealing with the long term consequences of bereavement this book is an emotional tour de force that will stay with me for a long time. 
A remarkable woman, an inspiring book, outstandingly told and indispensable on the self-help / inspirational publishing market. Tragic, raw, without make-up but with a message of hope and encouragement for others.
Unlike the author says in the foreword, this book is certainly not just for people with such a bereavement and/ or their friends. It is a good read for anyone. If the book taught me something it is to be more aware of how such a drama may feel. I’d like to thank the author for opening up and sharing her story for the rest of us to learn from it.


Hi Amber, please tell us a little about yourself, as a writer and as a person. 

     I’m a passionate dreamer, hopeless romantic, mother of two teenagers, wanderer of the world, explorer of self, perpetual student, lover of music, and eternal optimist. Pardon all the adjectives. As for who I am as a writer, I’m driven by emotion whether I’m writing romantic suspense or nonfiction.

                     What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

     I started writing when I was nine years old. I would sit on my parents’ roof, stare at the horizon, dream of all the adventures I’d have one day, and scribble stories in notebooks. This evolved into a career in journalism with a brief stint in advertising. I eventually published my romantic suspense novels with Siren-Bookstrand Publishing in 2011. Now I’m both published and self-published.

                   Could you briefly describe what your reason to write this book was and what message you are trying to bring across with this book? Is it intended as inspiration, self-help or factual information? 

     It is both factual and inspirational. “Free Fall” has been a journey. I often questioned my intentions for needing to write it. But that’s the thing, you see. I felt compelled to write this story of my husband’s suicide and the subsequent fallout because I had never in my life been so alone. I didn’t want another person to feel that kind of confusion and loneliness. It’s my intention that my story will inspire those who haven’t gone through such a tragedy to act with compassion rather than judgment. For those who have experienced a similar trauma, I hope my story gives them hope and reassurance that they are not alone.

                     How do you come up with your ideas about the structure of the book?

     I read through my journals written during the time period. I went through them a few times, actually, because it was quite painful going backward like that. During the second read-through, I started using post-its on the pages of what I needed to include. Believe me, this was a challenging experience. Some of the pages in my journal were filled with such intense pain and statements like “Sean, why”, “I’m so angry” or “grief sucks” scribbled over and over again in large letters. Tear stains blurred ink on the pages that brought it all back to the present. Like I said, I questioned why I wanted to experience that kind of pain again, but I couldn’t shake the notion that I needed to do it. I met people in my support groups who didn’t have the words to describe their own experiences yet felt as isolated as I did who encouraged me to be their voice. So here it is.

                     How do you decide which pieces to put in and which ones to let out?

     I needed to keep the focus on my perspective only, without blaming others or coming off as bitter. I don’t know if you’ve ever kept a journal, but, for me, I use journals as a way of venting out all the darkness I may be feeling. I needed to weed through some of that brutal pain and raw anger to pull out the truth of the experience. That’s not an easy task, which is why I made a point in the foreword of the book to say “Free Fall” is written from my point of view alone. I also wanted an end point—which is why I stopped the book at two years out rather than going forward through present day. Why two years? Well, that’s when the huge fall out occurred, when the shock wore off, and when I probably acted the most erratically (in my opinion). After two years, there were still rough spots and developmental challenges for all of us as a family, but I didn’t want to weaken the message of the book by going on and on. Yes, this happened. Yes, this is how I dealt with it, right or wrong. Yes, we made it to the other side of grief.

                     How comfortable do you feel writing to inspire others?

     I’m completely out of my comfort zone with this book. I’m not at all at ease in this role. Like I said, I felt compelled to write it because I felt like a carnival freak show at times after my husband’s suicide and never want one other person to feel like that. If I can be that one person who holds the figurative hand of another in their darkest moments, then this all will have meant something.

                     How long did it take you to write?

     Six months from the opening of the journals to the completion of the book.

                     How do you write? What is your writing environment like? 

     I have a roll top desk covered with pictures of fun moments from my life—a picture of me as twenty-one year old in Greece with some sexy men at my side, my late husband and I swimming with dolphins, friends and I in Las Vegas, kids and I in the Dominican Republic, me kissing a sea lion in Mexico…fun memories that make me happy. I also have momentos from my late grandfather sitting within reach. In between all of that, I have candles and incense that I always burn when I write. My dogs are usually underfoot while the cats supervise from their tower behind me. There’s a wood stove about five feet away that’s constantly burning from late October to May (I live at 8500 foot elevation in the Rocky Mountains so it’s a bit chilly). I put on my headphones so I can blast iTunes and write away in my own little world. There’s a rule in my house that I’m not to be disturbed unless someone is bleeding from a mortal wound or fire is licking at the door.

                     How many rewrites did it take you?

     “Free Fall” took about five or six rewrites. I truly wanted to make sure I stuck to my point of view, kept on point, and delivered a raw/honest account of my journey without going over-the-top. It probably could have been longer, but I felt I needed to keep it streamlined. It’s rather intense and I didn’t want to overburden the reader.

                     Who are your favourite authors / influences? 

     I have many favorite authors, but there are a few that shaped me early in life. Sidney Sheldon definitely inspired me during my teen years with his international thrillers. Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts brought forth my love of the romance genre. Now one of my favorite essayists is David Sedaris who never fails to make me laugh out loud in the most inappropriate public places.

                     What are your next projects? Another book?

     Yes, I have two more romantic suspense novels, “Dancing Barefoot” and “The Pretenders”, slated for release in the upcoming months.  

                     Where would be likely to find out about them?

     My author page on Facebook is the easiest way to stay in touch with me.

                     What song would you pick to go with your book?

     Good question. Well, “Free Fall” is pretty intense . I listened to a soundtrack of my own creation while writing it that consisted of Sade, Bonnie Rait, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Pink, and the Black Crowes. An eclectic mix. Here is a link to my book trailer:

                     Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

     I’m the artist. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted the cover to look like so set out to make it a reality.

                     How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

     I have an advantage of being both published and self-published so I can compare the two. Both have pros and cons. With self-publishing, I’ve enjoyed the control I have in all aspects. I’m still doing the same amount of marketing I’ve done with my publisher so that’s not an issue. I guess the downside is that there are times I wish I could call my editor at the publishing house and have her deal with things—delegating the madness, I suppose you could call it. I think one of the lows of self-publishing is the stigma that comes with it, even though I am technically “published” through traditional methods as well. To be honest, though, I understand the stigma because I’ve met some Indie authors who need to go back to writing 101. That’s a fact, not a judgment. However, to stereotype all Indies that way is wrong and shouldn’t be done. It’s a mixed bag. Do I prefer one over the other? No. I like being diversified. I sincerely run my writing business as a business rather than a hobby. I publish with multiple publishers, including myself at this point. I think it’s smart to have different income streams and varying perspectives. 

                     What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing? 

     The creativity is the best part. Writing gives me a high like nothing else. The least favorite part? Well, dealing with the arrogance of other authors. As a journalist, I understood competitiveness. I didn’t realize that would be tripled amidst published authors, which is something I don’t understand. It’s a hard business, but the work stands alone at the end of the day. Most authors help each other, but there are some that live to stir up trouble. It’s exhausting. I love the readers, the writing, my editors, but other authors can sometimes be a pain in the ass. I hope I’m not being too honest. Sometimes I don’t have a censor and apparently that’s the case this morning.

                     What is your advice to new writers?

     Accept feedback and learn from those who have experience. Too often (this morning in fact on an author forum) I hear authors say they reject advice and feedback and do exactly as they please. Well, guess where their careers are? Stagnant. The only way to improve is to listen to feedback from your editor, your mentors, and the readers. Do you need to change your style or become a slave to others’ opinions? NO! That’s not what I’m saying. Be like a palm tree that bends in the wind but remains strong in its roots. People succeed because they’ve learned to adapt and listen.

                     What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

     I’m reading The Witness by Sandra Brown in Kindle format.

                     How do you handle criticism of your work?

     I’m pretty thick skinned after years of being a journalist so try to let it roll off my back. When I worked at a progressive magazine, for example, a woman would call me once a week to tell me that I was an evil minion of Satan’s. At first this bugged me, but then it became more like, “well, it’s Thursday so I’ll probably get the Satan call again.” There are times negative feedback frustrates me if I feel I’m being misunderstood, but mostly I just let it go. I love feedback from my editor, though. It’s fair to say I crave it. I know that I’ve revised my work so much that I can’t be objective and appreciate a fresh set of eyes looking at it. As for reviews, I’ve been fortunate to receive many good reviews, but I know there will always be someone out there who hates everything I do. That’s fine. There are best selling authors that I can’t stand. It’s all subjective.  

                     What are you working on now?

     I’m working on revisions for “Dancing Barefoot” which is a story about a woman who is torn between pursuing her passion, risking all she’s worked for on a dream, or living for the expectations of others. To spice it up, there’s a sabateur in her midst who is undermining her confidence and success. It’s actually one of my favorties thus far because the love story is…let’s say…sizzling. My keyboard is steaming. I also think this lead character, Jessica, is a true reflection of myself, which has been interesting to write.  

               Tell us about your other books.

     I have “Kiss Me Slowly”, which is a romantic suspense about diamond smuggling, embezzlement, murder, and love on the run under Miami sun. Then there’s “Riptide” which is about stalkers, betrayal, envy, and love triumphing over it all. It’s set in the Cayman Islands, one of my favorite places in the Caribbean. My latest romantic suspense is “Reckless Endangerment” about a soldier returning home from Afghanistan and having a hard time adjusting to his ‘new normal’ and his wife who’s fighting for their marriage while investigating a human trafficking ring that’s threatening their very existence. Yeah, I like high-stakes drama. I’m working hard to keep the drama in the fiction and OUT of my personal life these days, though.

Buy Links for Free Fall:




Buy links for all books can be found on my author website:

Two blogs:

Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Night

Moxie Girl Musings

Social Media: Twitter @MtnMoxieGirl



I was interested in “Reckless Endangerment” by Amber Lea Easton because of some of her non-fiction work that had quite impressed me and I wanted to see how her talent would show in a different genre.
From the first page is was evident how well Easton can draw her readers into the story and how skilful she creates characters that we instantly will want to know more about. The wounded Afghanistan war veteran Michael and his journalist love interest Hope are far from one dimensional creations and the problems they face in their strange relationship are much more gripping than a mere ‘taming-of-the-shrew’ scenario. Both characters have a lot to keep you interested in them and make you want them to succeed and grow. 
Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you – like myself – want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner. 
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended.


17 Oct 2013

“Sounds of War: Iraq Attack of Thomas Edington” by Thomas Ferreolus

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“Sounds of War: Iraq Attack of Thomas Edington” by Thomas Ferreolus is a gripping and powerful book that shows what the Iraq War could be like for some of its participating US soldiers.

It depicts in much detail and with well chosen characters the lost battles for the Al Anbar Province during Operation Iraqi Freedom as experienced by Thomas Edington.
Ferreolus describes the all day life of soldiers, the continuous threats, the ‘luck’ of surviving because a bomb blast just missed its target by metres, the at times disgusting food and water situation, interpersonal relations and the technical and tactical problems to carry out their missions. 
Interlaced with memories from Thomas’s past we get a good picture of Thomas and his life. 
This is a rich read, unlike many war novels it feels both real and surreal.
“The Devil has no remorse….he poisons humanity with war…Mankind’s apocalypse, all balancing on the individual” to quote the book.
A colleague being left by his wife, the fear of losing your loved ones while being unable to do anything about it, the threat that lingers with every possible false move, the weakness against the suicidal tactics by the enemy, the temptation the female soldiers can pose on his minds – Ferreolus has given his protagonist a lot to experience. 
There is heroism and foolishness, dark humour and a glimpse of what the war really felt like.
This is a very impressive read and unusual in its own brand and combination of wit, horror and realism. It is very impressive as audio book, too. Highly recommended.

Interview with Thomas:  1920ab1d0c6b0a22d17a2d.L._V369201168_SX200_

Hi Thomas

Your novel is set in the Iraq war. Can you briefly explain your connection to Iraq and to war?

I served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom…

How did the idea for the novel come to you? What motivated you to write about the subject/ What do you think is missing in films and books about the subject?

What started out as hobby turned into a goal to publish an entertaining story.   I have watched movies about the war and felt Holly Wood has fallen short in bringing certain aspects of realism out, and the same goes with the few books I have read…most have disappointed me in not being brave enough to bring to the table of what was really being served to the fighting soldier. Overall, I really wanted to give to my audience an after taste, a same gritty and unforgettable taste that every soldier who fought in the conflict came home with.

Will there be another book/ series?

Yes, this the first book in the series and I am planning a total of three.

How did you come to writing in the first place? Was it always going to about this subject or did you have other genres in mind, too?

During my college days I wrote screens plays and poems. Then, I had no idea I would write anything on this level or about this subject.

How did you choose the characters for the story? Who did you have in mind when you wrote the characters? Who would play them in a  film?

The characters are strictly fiction but we writers tend to take bits and pieces of people we know or may have known.

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

Well, I would be a liar if I said no.  Parts of myself may be reflected in the protagonist Thomas Edington.

What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you? How did you research for the book?

I think I am more of a story teller than a writer, and I found that without a life full of experiences I wouldn’t be able to write down anything interesting to share. 

Were the plot and sub-plots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

Someone once wrote: “Life is stranger than fiction.” And it was easy for me to just look around at what was going on during the war to come up with material to write about.  The news channels filled the cable networks with twenty four seven hours of ideas.

Tell us about the audio version and the production of it?

Awesome narrator, I feel he deserve more attention, and there is no doubt that F. William Baldwin rivals James Earl Jones.  Also, I am very proud of the post production via: P. Rebog Productions.  Right from the introduction, the audio book really captured the essence of what it felt like to be standing on the battle fields of Iraq.  With all the special sound effects, and when I heard it for the first time, I had flash back for the first time in years.  The audio book is nothing short of spectacular.

What is your writing environment like? Do you have any habits?

I have taken over the entire dining room table and strangely enough, I like to listen to opera music.

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

Including my home life, I have to shut out the entire world. Obsessively, I become part of the story and think about nothing else until I finish the chapter or chapters. 

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

Right now I am concentrating on trying to spread the news about my first book but soon I will delve into the second book. That will be easy enough because when I came home from my tour of duty many years ago, I wrote the frame work for the three books then…I just have to pull it off the shelf and dust off the proverbial cover.

What do you do when you don’t write?

I spend time with my lovely wife and family.  By the way, my wife is a fantastic writer. We are collaborating on a project and we’ll be releasing the first of many books next year. For some strange reason, I feel absolutely confident that the series will be a huge success.  Call me an optimist if you will but nothing short of earth grabbing entertainment is coming your way.

Who are your biggest influences? Which are your favourite books and authors?

Moby Dick by Herman Melville and Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield are two that come to Mind.

Which indie writers can you recommend?

There are so many to choose from I can’t decide right now…

What would you take to an isolated island?

I would say my wife and family.

Who would you invited for dinner?

William Shakespeare

What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

If you are going to buy my work, I would highly recommend the audio book or only the kindle version of Sounds of War.

‘Sounds of War, ‘ is a historical fiction of lost battles for the Al Anbar Province during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Richly rot with lambasted situations, follow Thomas Edington’s gritty journey as it teeters on the edge of the surrealism. Always landing in hot water, his life is altered when he is forced to navigate down a precarious path of unspoken truths all while a barbaric war rages around him. The war’s twilight reflects a rainbow of dark hues bathed in blood soaked colors of altruism, and if it were not for the gruesome realities of war, the ‘Sounds of War, ‘ would be a fantastic comedy. Entertainingly witty, the story line easily unfolds like a Hollywood block buster. “A modern day Iliad.” P.Rebog – Author “What really happens behind the tent flap, gruesome and funny all rolled into one. I’m not much into war stories but I was mesmerized with Thomas Ferreolus’s not so normal fiction, ‘SOUNDS OF WAR, ‘ had me hooked from the get go.” S. Churchill – Author

Kindle link:

 Audio Book Link 

Thomas Ferreolus, adventurer and great outdoorsman, proudly served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Loving a good cliff hanger, he continues to write fictions in the Pacific Northwest where he now resides with his beautiful wife, and family.

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13 Oct 2013

Amy Metz: “Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction”

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Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction

“Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction” by Amy Metz came with high recommendations from a friend. I am not a great fan of murder mystery, but this one was as good as I was promised.
Cleverly told in separate narratives jumping between 1932 and 2010, there is the story of an old bank robbery that is connected to an unsolved murder, and there is the story of Tess.
Tess recently divorced her philandering husband and is trying to make a fresh start in a Southern town, aspiring to write a book. With help from local celebrity writer and unexpected love interest Jack Tess investigates mysterious break ins into her new home, which leads to the past.
Tess is an engaging character, as are her companions. The setting in the South sounds authentic and endearing to my European eyes and the plot is well paced and intelligently unfolded.
This is a very charming and entertaining read and one that I am sure may fans of the genre will follow through the entire series as it is being written. Great fun and highly recommended.


Interview with Amy Metz:

Tell us a little something about yourself as both a person and an author:


Well, I have a husband, two sons, one daughter-in-law, one dog, two granddogs, and two grandcats. I am a former first grade teacher and PTA mom. I’m currently writing a humorous mystery series, a chick lit book, and a thriller (when I’m not dealing with a crisis with my mother, who has dementia). I started writing about four years ago, and I have one published novel that is a cozy mystery.

What made you decide to be a writer?

Necessity. It was either start writing or go insane. I chose the former, but the latter might have chosen me. I started writing as therapy when I became a caretaker for my mother who had just been diagnosed with dementia—that’s what I meant by necessity—but halfway into a memoir, I started writing a humorous southern mystery as an escape from real life. I found I really like living in imaginary worlds and talking to imaginary people, so that’s what I do most days now. And nights.

What made you decide to write comic crime fiction?

The memoir I mentioned was therapeutic to write, but it was also like immersing myself in depression. I needed something to laugh about. When I started thinking about writing a mystery, stories from my childhood came to mind about murders in my family’s history. The need to laugh and the need to tell the story of those murders just melded into a humorous mystery novel.

Tell us a little about your latest book.  GPJbackpainting

My latest published book is Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction. As I said, it’s based on real life and told in two different time periods—the 1930s and the present day. The 1930s are flashbacks to the murders—one unsolved—and my characters in the present day try to solve the cold case. My main character, Tess, is a Yankee, new to the town, and she’s a little culture shocked as she gets to know the folks in town. That’s where Jackson comes in—he helps translate the southern speak, helps her investigate the murder, and becomes a temptation Tess doesn’t want.

Did you have it all planned out before you wrote it or did the characters and story surprise you?

My characters absolutely wrote the story. I knew the basic premise, and I kind of knew how I wanted it to end, but they did all the rest.

How do you come up with your ideas?

My characters whisper them to me. Sometimes they knock me upside the head with them.

You also write in other genres. Could you tell us about those projects?

Waxman is a thriller set in the South. It’s also based on a true story—something I experienced, combined with a real serial killer on a college campus that someone told me about years ago. The killer was disguised as an old man, and he’d ask unsuspecting college kids for help. Who wouldn’t help an old man in need, right? Then, he’d get them alone and kill them. Cut to several years later when I was at the park with my sons and we were approached by the creepiest old man I’ve ever seen. He still makes me shudder, and I wonder if he really was an old man or just disguised as one. Creepy doesn’t begin to describe him.

Anyway, Waxman is set at a resort in Alabama, and someone is killing the women guests. The hotel hires a private investigator—Kate Pepper—to find the killer before word spreads and the hotel loses all its business. Of course there’s a handsome FBI agent assigned to the case, and sparring and sparks ensue.

My children’s book is called That Would Taste Better In Your Mouth, and it’s about Louie, who is a very picky eater. His mother tries everything to get him to try new foods. It’s told with alliteration and repetition—two things my kids loved in books when they were little. This is going to sound redundant, but it’s based on real life too. My oldest son was a very picky eater (hence, the storyline), and once when we tried to get my youngest son to eat something new, he said, “I think that would taste better in your mouth” (hence, the title). I’m working on the Guinness world record of rejections for that story, but I’m not giving up on it.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction was published by a small press. It would not be hyperbole to say my experience with them has been a nightmare. The highs? That’s got to be when I was on’s bestsellers lists for mystery authors, mysteries and women sleuths. I don’t care how simple my little book is, it is absolutely thrilling when you see your book ranked in between James Patterson and Janet Evonavich.
The lows? Let’s see…maybe when the publisher pulled my book from Amazon and B&N. Or maybe it was when I got the umpteenth bad comment on the poor formatting of the eBook. No, maybe it was when the eBook was pulled from Amazon for two and a half months while the publisher “fixed” the formatting. No, it was probably when the publisher filed for, and got, the copyright to my book. There have been a lot of lows. If your readers want to read about my experiences with publishing, they can check out these blog posts:

Did you have any actors or people in mind when writing your characters in Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction?

No, I really didn’t. In my mind, my characters are unique people. I find it hard to pair them with actors when I’m asked to do so in interviews.

What is your writing environment like?

It varies, but it almost always includes a big comfy chair. At home, I write either in my office or my bedroom, both of which have big comfy chairs. But I also like to go to a local dessert café that has big comfy chairs and couches. I love a lot of natural light, and the room is surrounded by floor to ceiling window. I love going there during the week when it’s not very busy. Besides the bright, comfortable room, it has pie. My philosophy is life is always better with pie.


But I had the absolute best writing environment last July when I stayed in the Berkshires for a month. Every day, I went to the Stockbridge Library, up to the top floor, which was rarely occupied. And I had thousands of books, lots of history, and a big, beautiful room all to myself. It was wonderful. I worked on GPJ3 while I was there.


Tell us about your blog.


Stockbridge Library

When I first started promoting my book, I contacted a lot of bloggers. Some were very kind and hosted me with an interview or agreed to review my book. Some said no, and some just plain ignored me. I learned that it’s not easy for an Indie author to promote their work. I saw a need to help authors market their books. So I started A Blue Million Books, in a pay it forward spirit, and a desire to help Indie authors connect with readers.

What is your advice to new writers?

Oh my goodness, how much time do you have? My first bit of advice would be to join a writers group—either online or locally—and get feedback on your work. Beta readers are essential in helping you strengthen your story. I also recommend reading your work out loud after you’ve edited the heck out of it. A final read through out loud will help you see/hear things you might otherwise miss. And if you think your work doesn’t need to be edited—by you or anyone else—don’t quit your day job. Editing can sometimes be painful, but it’s part of the gig. If you can’t edit or can’t take constructive criticism, put your work in a folder for your family to read. Because they’re the only ones who will.

My next bit of advice is read, read, read, and write, write, write, but don’t stress if you get stuck at times.

And my last bit of advice is to thoroughly investigate a publisher before you submit your work to them, and investigate even more if you’re offered a contract. Pick apart the contract, and if you can afford it, have a lawyer, or someone who really understands contracts, read through it too. Whatever you do, avoid at all costs a first right of refusal clause or a contract that binds you to the publisher for longer than two years.

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