20 Dec 2013

Nicholas Sansbury Smith: “ORBS”

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Today I am introducing a very talented author. You all know I am not a huge fan of Science Fiction but I connected with Nicholas over animal welfare, became curious to see what he was like as an author and was pleasantly surprised. Books like ORBS make me want to read Science fiction more often


“ORBS” by Nicholas Sansbury Smith is an excellently written and fascinating science fiction story set in the near future of 2061, six years after a solar storm has rendered Earth almost inhabitable. Scientist Dr. Sophie Winston is on a mission in Cheyenne Mountain when suddenly the connection to the outside world is cut off. When she and her team venture into the outside they find the world full of luminous orbs and unknown creatures.

The book has a very realistic and detailed apocalyptic setting that in itself surpasses stories of a similar nature. The addition of the unknown creatures and the why and how of it adds to the suspense element and the eerieness of the situation for our scientists. There is also a flashback to the time of the solar storm of 2055 and a bit of background to Sophie’s character which makes her more than just a scientist.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the story and how well the parts worked together. I only occasionally read science fiction but books like ORBS make me want to do so more often. The book has a somewhat open ending since it is the first in a series. Smith has a winning combination at his hands with his exceptionally strong characters and plotlines. Highly recommended.


What made you become a writer? bella and me

I have memories of writing when I was in first grade. The idea of creating a story always intrigued me. I had all of these ideas in my head, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really started jotting them down. In 2012 my friends and family convinced me to self publish my first book. Since then I have written five short stories and three full length novels.

When did you decide to write Science Fiction?

I grew up watching X-Files, Star Trek and Star Wars. I devoured scifi books at an early age as well. Titles such as Armor, The Forever War and Area 51. So many of my ideas have been inspired by these fascinating works. When I started writing, scifi was the obvious pick for me.

Tell us a little about the history of ORBS.

Interestingly, I came up with the idea of ORBS when I was in Mexico. I had been studying biosphere projects and researching ways I could incorporate that in a novel. One night I was walking through the resort I was staying at and I came across several large glowing balls. They looked just like the way I imagine the Orbs would look in the story. A year later I had a finished ms on my desk.

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

The easiest part was the action scenes. They flow pretty well. The most difficult was creating a female protagonist. I had a lot of help with that, and I think in the end it turned out okay.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story? Amazon Final

There is, and I think Stephen Hawking sums it up best, “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the American Indians.”

Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

I think there has been a fair share of negative and positive reviews. And I expected that. Truthfully, I know not everyone will like my books.

What do you like most about your characters?

I liked Sophie and Overton the best. They are from much different worlds. Overton has spent his career in the Marines, while Sophie has spent hers in academia. While they argue quite a bit in the beginning of the novel they end up teaming up later and Sophie transforms into a soldier.

What are your next projects?

ORBS II: Stranded and ORBS III: Redemption. Stranded is already written and mostly ready to go. I also have a YA novel I’ve sketched out and a Zombie novel I’m putting together. Actually there are two Zed novels, but I’m not sure how exactly that will flesh out, no pun intended.

Tell us about your other books.

I have another series called the Tisaian Chronicles. The Biomass Revolution is book I and there are two prequel short stories that accompany it. I haven’t decided when I will write the second book as my other projects are taking priority.

What is your life like?

I work full time for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management where I help communities recover from disasters. When I’m not at work I’m more than likely training for triathlons, writing or spending time with my family and friends. I do have a tendency to disappear on long bike rides/runs and to caribou coffee where I find myself writing for hours at a time. I also started a not for profit to raise money and awareness for animal welfare. Next year I will be adopting a dog and running with it in several races. I absolutely love dogs and find they are the most loyal friend you can have.

Who are your literary influences? 0411_52342

There are so many. Cormac McCarthy, Joe Haldeman, Brandon Sanderson, Bob Mayer, Huge Howey, DJ Molles. I read a variety of genres and both self published and published authors.

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

I’m currently wrapping up ORBS II: Stranded. To find out more about my books please check out my website and or facebook page.



ORBS and the short story prequel, Solar Storms on Amazon

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27 Nov 2013

Martha Emms : Portrait of Our Marriage

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Memoirs of Love, Family, the Internet, and Obsession

“Portrait of Our Marriage” by Martha Emma was an unexpectedly emotional and gripping reading experience. Like Nick, the narrator and many of her friends in the book I fell in love with the idea of that perfect and happy marriage, the man of her dreams: dead sexy, considerate and loving. 
Like her I led myself to believe that it was her overreacting and would have given her exactly the kind of advice all the friends in the novel gave her.

This fictional memoir is particularly apt in its portrayal of the subtle changes and nuances of ‘normal masturbation’ to actual porn addiction. Written with raw honesty and often explicit detail this novel takes no prisoners and calls a spade a spade, particularly when letting the women of Nick’s support group talk, scenes that do however work particularly well and let the readers sigh with relief in the same was as the women of said group. The book dares to look at sexuality and marital relations with an honesty that many don’t. It may be uncomfortable for some but I feel the direct approach is needed to discuss the problem with enough depth.

I feel rather mesmerized by the experience of this book. The journey takes us from happily ever after to first minor issues, bigger shame, drama and conflict to all out facing of the truth where denial is only possible for the addict.
If you wonder what it might be like to live in such a marriage that started so promising and needs so much work this book is for you. Insightful, thought provoking and powerful this is a must read.

Interview with the author:

What made you decide to write about porn addiction?

You might say it haunted me in my dreams, LOL. I had watched an episode of, The Oprah Show, years ago. It was an episode dealing with pornography addiction. Told from the mans point of view, it covered what they were going through and how it affected their lives. I looked at the men and thought that they looked normal, clean cut, not like they would be perverts in any way. That night I had a dream. It was as if I was watching a movie, and a woman was reviewing her life as she viewed pictures on a digital display device.  I kept having different dreams, which revealed different times in this woman’s life. After a while I began to think it must have some meaning. Then again, later on The Oprah Show, I watched as she interviewed Joel Osteen. He commented, in not so many words, that sometimes God sends us messages in strange ways and we should listen to those messages. That he wants us to succeed and not give up. I know it may seem strange and I’m not saying God told me to take this story on, but I felt like I must be having these dreams for a reason.

Do you find people are open or too prudish to discuss/ read about it?   198628_164770633661800_1840551591_n

I received comments and reactions from both, people who are open to read and discuss the story and from those who have called me horrible names and are actually hostile about it.

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How did you have the inspiration for your story and your characters?

After watching The Oprah Show and continuing to have dreams I began to research online about porn addiction. Back at that time, most everything I found on the internet was from, by, and for men. Very little was from, by, or for women.  I began writing it as a screenplay. At that time my youngest son was an actor and I had been reading scripts for years. So I thought I could write one. I found out it is not that easy. I could not write the story the way I wanted.  So I decided to join a writing group. But then I needed to know how to get personal information about how this addiction affects women. I wanted to capture all the emotions of a couple going through this. Well, one day while shopping I noticed that either on purpose or by accident, people had left their real estate, and carpet cleaning business cards on some of the shelves. Not having money for a research group, I decided to copy their idea but in a bit different manner. I typed up some notes asking if women had any experience with a loved one being addicted to pornography.  I asked if they would share their experience with me as I wanted to write a book from a woman’s point of view but needed real information. I left my address and phone number on the notes. I honestly didn’t think I would get any response. But I did. I received about sixteen letters. Out of all the input, eight were very in depth and when I read them I was drawn in and felt like I understood what they had gone through. At that point I felt I had what I needed. Between my dreams, research, and the personal information from 8 women, my story was born. As I wrote, the characters in my story seemed to have a life of their own and I felt like I knew them.

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

Even though I had dreams, it wasn’t a complete story. So no, nothing was fixed, not even the ending. The dreams were fragments and the information shared by the eight women was very personal.  I wanted to make this story as real as possible in honor of them.  Between the research on how men felt, what affect this addiction could have on women and a marriage, I tried to weave a story together that would take the reader through years of a marriage and the progression of this addiction.

How did you research for the book?

I researched for a couple of years online. I went to all kinds of pornography addiction sites. From the professionals who offer help, recovery programs, religious groups who offer counseling, to all kinds of different columns where men wrote into for help. I also watched any show on TV that had any kind of episode dealing with porn addiction. But I would say for the main character, the input from the eight women was the most important and naturally the woman in my dreams.

Which of your characters was most enjoyable to write?

I think Gina was. She is kind of a mouthy character who says what’s on her mind and thinks about it later.

Who would play them in a film?

I’ll leave that to the reader’s imagination!

Are you like any of the characters in the book?

In some ways, just a tincy bit. I think all writers put a pinch of themselves in the characters they write.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I used to be very active, love dancing, skiing, hiking, bike and horseback riding, but after a knee replacement and some health issues I have slowed down some.  I enjoy traveling, my family, my cats, pet rescues, reading, cooking, baking, gardening, and writing.

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

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk,is one of my favorite books, it was the first book I read that I couldn’t put down. I didn’t want it to end. His characters came alive on the pages. I also, really liked the Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. I have many favorite authors though – Ken Follett, Tom Clancy, Robyn Carr, Jill Shalvis, Debbie Macomber, Lawrence Sanders, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Jodi Thomas, Constance O’Banyon, and Bobbi Smith just to name a few. I enjoy all their books 🙂  I love all kinds of music except opera. One of my favorite movies is, Back to The Future, because we get to see the father realize his dream. What can be, what can happen when you don’t give into fear. I enjoy comedies, adventure films, crime drama, and yes, romance.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I think it is awesome. It gives creativity so much more of an opportunity to be shared.  Some say it opens the floodgates to too fast, unedited trash being published, and that may well be true, but people will weed through the trash. Ultimately, it offers all who wish to write a chance to get their story out there and my thoughts are, the more people write and read, the better.

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

For the best,  I guess they might say I care, share, and always share what I know. Oddest? Well, it’s not a quality but I do have a lot of cats. I won’t mention how many because it adds new meaning to the phrase “crazy cat lady”! Many of them are cats no one wanted because of odd tics and strange personalities. But they still deserve to know love.

What are your favorite animal/ color/ outdoor activity?

I love cats, dogs, horses, and birds, especially pigeons. I like wolves, elephants, and almost all wild animals. I do not like snakes or spiders though.  I have different favorite colors each day, depending on my mood. I love the outdoors and nature. I used to have a large RV and traveled with the family. I enjoy traveling and researching all the historical sites and hiking in our national parks.

What would you take to a remote island?

Is there a limit? Am I on a remote island paradise with a beautiful home, pool, and bar or am I going to a remote island that I may end up stranded on? If I’m going to be visiting a luxury resort type place, I would pack clothes, books, my laptop, and personal items. But if I’m going to be roughing it, I would take: A knife, an ax, matches, a tent, sleeping bag, blanket, canteen, Australian Tea Tree Oil, iodine tincture, toilet paper, a toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, a hat, hair brush, change of clothes, first aid kit, batteries, radio, flashlight, vegetable seeds, a fishing pole with hooks, & protein powder.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

I would love to have dinner with my Mother, because she passed away and I miss her. If there was any way to spend more time with her it would be a dream come true. She was an amazing woman. She was kind, patient, gentle, generous, and thoughtful. Everyone who knew her loved her.

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

I’m working on two stories right now, The sequel to Portrait of Our Marriage, and a story about pets. I will be self-publishing these and will promote via all the social networks when they are available.

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

My name is Barbie Herrera, but I write under the pen name Martha Emms, in honor of my mother and aunt. My mom had dreams of me someday becoming a writer. She wanted me to write from my heart. My aunt on the other hand, hoped that if I became a writer I would write to get people talking, stir the pot. I believe my first book accomplishes both.

I am a strong proponent of Just Label It, and am against genetically modified foods. I’m also a supporter of the No Kill Coalition. I believe the unnecessary, inhumane killing of countless animals in this day and age is horrific and shameful. I was raised an Air Force brat, and as such, I have a strong belief in supporting all our military men and women, and their families. We must never forget that the freedoms we enjoy are not free.

An avid reader I enjoy a variety of genres. I also enjoy nature, love the beach, music, animals, and my family.

I would love people to read my book, a dream all authors share. It really is a journey. There are parts that are fun, sexy, compelling, and shocking. I hope that readers will be drawn into Nicky’s life. I truly want them to feel the experience and for that reason I don’t describe her. Other than brown hair there are no definitive descriptions of her. Almost every book today dealing with women describes them as the perfect sexy woman. And I’m not saying that Nicky isn’t all that but, I want women to identify with her and not be distracted by her looks. I want them to see her as they want her to be. Every one of us, no matter what we look like or what we believe in, can feel pleasure, be hurt, know frustration, feel trapped, experience betrayal, and know pain. I want women to feel like they could be Nicky. That this could be their story. What would they do?

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25 Nov 2013

Jinx Schwartz: Hetta Coffey

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 I came across “Just Add Water” at a fellow author’s blog and was drawn in by the humorous style in which the author presented herself and her books.

The book, first in a series, hit the right tone with me instantly. The mysterious planned disappearance of an American man in Tokyo leaves us with a huge question mark before we turn across the Pacific and dive into a different story altogether.

Maybe as 40 year old gay man with a love for dogs I am a prime target audience for this book. It was certainly very compulsive reading to follow the main protagonist, Hetta Coffey through her adventures. She is single, pushy and could easily be best friend with many a gay man.
Not always entirely likeable but utterly watchable and eventually loveable Hetta cruises for a man in her life by the waterfront.

But we know that there is some foul play waiting for us ever since we read the prologue 5 years prior to us meeting Hetta. I was impatiently waiting for the moment where the past comes into the presence but the wait was sweetened by Hetta’s colourful and entertaining character, by quirky sense of humour, the dog and not last by the excellent one liners and her ‘tasteful un-pc-ness’ that just keeps the laughs coming.

With all humour it comes down to personal taste, so please make up your own mind but know that I spent some happy hours with Hetta and her Texan ways on the San Francisco sea shore.

Interview with Hetta:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person. What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

My husband says I am a character, my friends say I am nuts, my enemies think I’m evil, and they are all right. As a writer I am independent and not swayed by formulas or rules, even though I believe you have to know the rules before you can break them. I am a stickler for constantly studying the craft and making my books better.

Who inspired the creation of your character Hetta? jinx desk on boat 2

As you know, Hetta Coffey is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she’d not afraid to use it.

I was a perpetually single woman, traveling the world for work and fun, and tired of both. Seeking a change, I decided to buy a boat. A large boat. It changed my life, for I met the love of my life—Robert “Mad Dog” Schwartz—in a yacht club, and we sailed off into the sunset. So, Hetta is kind of my more flamboyant alter ego…although there are some who say we are one in the same.

What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

I fell into writing when I was doing a genealogy search on my Texas ancestors (I am a ninth-generation Texan) and saw my family besmirched in a history book. To set the record straight, I wrote a Historical/Western, The Texicans. Then, silly me, I decided to keep writing books.

When did you decide to write comedy and Hetta? 

I love comedy and come from a family that laughed a lot. Reading writers with a great sense of humor gave me heroes (Nelson DeMille, Larry McMurtry) to emulate. I adore the one-two whammy; make the reader laugh, then unload the triple whammy. Also, writing in first person allows Hetta to deliver her own brand of self-deprecating humor, and she’s not above using others in an occasional snarky bit.

I like to think of Hetta as more than just a comedy figure, but a role model for young women everywhere. Everywhere, that is, that embraces a cross between Eddy, Patsy, and Annie Oakley, with a touch of criminal tendencies and loose morals. The hardest part of writing a humorous series is keeping it fresh, and funny.

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite?

If I had children, choosing a favorite—American spelling:-)—would be like being ask to favor one. Each of my characters is like a good friend or a bad enemy. Hetta would probably choose Nacho, because he is sexy, in a criminal sort of way. Dr. Craig Washington has to be, however, my favorite guy. He is loveable and I want him to triumph over his bad choices in men. Both he and Hetta struggle with that issue.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Hetta? A cross between a younger Bette Midler and the older, grouchier, Shirley MacClaine. Of course I do have to factor in the Absolutely Fabulous gals here, as well, so a Joanna Lumley type for Jan. As for poor, patient, Jenks? I’d pick the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones. Just because I love him.

Are you like Hetta?

Yep.  013

What are your next projects?

I am working on Hetta #6 right now.

Tell us about your other books.

Troubled Sea is an out-of-sequence thriller featuring Hetta and Jenks, but much later, when they are married. I know, I know, but I wrote it right after The Texicans and it is doing well, so there you have it. Land of Mountains, told in first person narravtive from the point of view of a 10-year-old Texan who moves to Haiti in the 1950’s, it is what I call a fictography (a term I blatantly stole from John Grisham’s A Painted House), and is a much-embellished account of my childhood. Some say the protagonist, Lizbuthann, is actually Hetta. Hmmm.

What is your life like?

I live a charmed life, which worries me because my grandmother Hetta (yes, Hetta) warned me about that kind of thing. We Texans are a superstitious lot, and I don’t want to jinx myself.

What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

We tried working and found we did not care for it, so we split our time between golf and boating: golf (Mad Dog) in Arizona in the summer, and living on our boat in Mexico in the winter. When not at the computer (which is rare these days) I like to putter around painting things, and taking Zumba and Yoga. I do not play golf because I have way too much self-respect.

What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I like a good historical novel, light-weight beach books, and just about anything else in any language I can read. Music: Country Western and Classical.  Films: Rom Com, French farce, and vigilante justice. Hate all that animated explosion thing in so many of today’s film (me, fuddy-duddy???), but love Chicken Run and Happy Feet.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I think this is the age of the Indie. Thanks to KDP and other self-pubbing venues, I was able to part ways with my publisher and control my own writing career.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I’d better stay away from this one. I have WAY too many Indie friends to name favorites, sort like choosing that kid thing again. I am, however, going to start posting my reviews on my blog soon.


 What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Love dogs, red, and boating.

What would you take to a remote island? My boat.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Hunter S. Thompson in his prime, but I’d probably have to hire some security.

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

Working another Hetta book. You can keep up with me on

Facebook at http://on.fb.me/YJ7hXT

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

I think I’ve talked enough about me and my books. Tell us about YOU!

She’s baaaak! Just the Pits, Book 5 in the Hetta Coffey series, is now available http://amzn.to/15orD90

And for the other four, get Hetta in a box. Hetta Coffey Collection Boxed Set Books 1-4 in Award Winning Series . http://amzn.to/10QsxpI

ALL other BOOKS just 2.99, including the others in award-winning Hetta Coffey series. http://amzn.to/QpYtAR 

Twitter @jinxschwartz

FB http://on.fb.me/YJ7hXT





She’s baaaak! Just the Pits, Book 5 in the Hetta Coffey series, is now availablehttp://amzn.to/15orD90
And for the other four, get Hetta in a box. Hetta Coffey Collection Boxed Set Books 1-4 in Award Winning Series . http://amzn.to/10QsxpI
ALL other BOOKS just 2.99, including the others in award-winning Hetta Coffey series. http://amzn.to/QpYtAR  Twitter @jinxschwartz FB http://on.fb.me/YJ7hXT


21 Nov 2013

Author Bonnie Bernard

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Bonnie Bernard 1


Today I have the pleasure of introducing a very talented author. I have read so many of her books in fact that I found it hard to chose which one to feature here today, so I am going to lead with the interview and once you get to see what a lovely and funny woman Bonnie is, you can browse through a selection of my reviews.

Hi Bonnie, please tell us a little about yourself as a person and as author.

I’m a high desert rat who loves organic gardening, dark chocolate and cheese (eaten together), and hiking barefoot. I’m a two-time demolition derby champion, a foster dog mom, and a community social justice activist. I love my long-suffering husband, our fur-kids, and the little Rocky Mountain community that we call home. Bonnie Bernard is a pen name and my real life name writes (often unexciting) non-fiction stuff.

I like reading fiction (of course), planning adventures, and going crazy with pumpkin recipes every fall. I’m frequently featured on the local news, but not for anything bad (yet). Ha.

You have written quite a few books already. Tell us about your series.


The first series is the Midnight Hunter trilogy. Book one is about good vs. evil vampires, book two explores the demon realm, and the third book is all about pesky Underworld gods. Then, readers wanted more of a particularly cantankerous demon named Howie Evil, so I’m writing the novella – Breaking Rule One.

I also have a short story anthology (Nature Calls), four stand-alone shorts, and another full-length novel, Rest Inn Peace.

Which is easier to write? Full-length novels or short stories.  Bonnie Bernard 2

Short stories are easier for me write, probably because of my short attention span. 😉 Still, I love the challenge of pulling messy threads together in a fun-filled series featuring wacky characters.

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I discovered the joys of writing by accident at the age of six while visiting the new home of my (then) best friend, Julie. The rooms were empty, the walls bright white, and a rainbow-shaded package of permanent markers was in a nearby box…I was never allowed in Julie’s house again and I was called some rather unflattering names, but I realized that one way to make a mark on the world is to write stuff down.

How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Something strikes me as hilarious or warped, a character comes to mind that would be affected by it, and then I sit back and let him/her tell me the story.

Why have you chosen to write in the paranormal genre? Would you ever consider writing something else?

Paranormal is fun because the rules are twisted. There ARE rules (the vampires I’ve written can’t go out in sunlight, for instance). I enjoy watching those rules frustrate my human and supernatural characters.

I’ve written non-fiction under my given name, and I might eventually publish a non-fiction piece or two under Bonnie’s name, just to make my Amazon page look fatter.

How did you create the plot and the titles for your books?

The characters make the plot and they usually tell me what title they want. Not always though. For instance, my husband came up with the title, “Rest Inn Peace” and I wrote the story around it.

Rest Inn Peace

Did you have it all planned out before you write your stories or do the characters and story surprise you?

I have perhaps one or two scenes planned. The characters take it from there.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Absolutely has to be Howie Evil. Who wouldn’t love telling the story of a 5000 year old belligerent, chain-smoking, human-hating, gun-toting demon from Hell who likes to tickle babies and eat cheese from an aerosol can?

What would your character(s) say about you?

Depends on which character you ask. Donna would say I remind her of Mo. Mo would say my husband reminds her of Trent. Zoe would say I’m a hippie hickster. Howie would just blow smoke in my face and call me a stupid human.

Would you say your books have a message and could you hint at it – for the confused?

A common theme for me is the twisted ways of social justice.

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

I love everything about writing except promoting.

How do you balance writing with family life?

Balance? What’s that? We’re happily dysfunctional at our house.

Did you have any say in your cover art? Tell us about the process.

I have all the say I want, but I hand it over to my cover artist, Jerry Skinner. He’s got graphic instincts I can’t even fathom, so I just give him a summary/manuscript and let him have at it. He does well. I could not ask for better.

What is your writing environment like? Do you need silence or music to write?

I work wherever I am. During the cold months, I’m usually curled up on the living room couch, surrounded by spoiled rotten fur-kids. In the summer, I write in the garden. I also write on airplanes, cruise ships, in the mountains, and while camping. Right now, I’m in the passenger seat of our truck and we’re cruising down world-famous Route 66, heading toward our place in wild west Arizona. Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is blaring on the radio and my husband is singing along.

How many rewrites does it normally take you for each book?

Gazillions. J More specifically…short stories, about three. Longer works – five or six. I have a very scattered brain-style and it takes a LOT of re-writing to herd my thoughts into sensible structure.

How do you edit and quality control?


I just dig in and do it. Then I send my work to the beta readers.

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

 I like self-publishing and have not even looked for a traditional publisher. Best part – I’m a wholly-owned and operated sole proprietor. Worst part – Promotion. I would share half my earnings with anybody who would promote me so I don’t have to.

What is your advice to new writers?

 Sit your butt down and do it.

Who are your favourite authors?

I like the classics, so anything by authors like Henry James, DH Lawrence, a Bronte sister, or Jane Austen.

I know you are very supportive of other writers, but who are your favourite independent writers?

I like your work. I’m also a fan of Robert Warr, Willow Cross, and Oleg Medvedkov.

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

I am currently reading Barker’s Dozen by Robert Warr. I’m reading it on my cellular phone because I just accidentally smashed my Kindle to death. It has been well over a year since I picked up a paperback or hardcover.

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Oleg Medvdkov’s Invisible Bricks is a hilarious and brilliant short story anthology. For a great Native American/magical treat, try Bridalveil Falls by Sheryl Seal. And of course…Sebastian. I’m not just saying that to be nice. I recommend your books to everybody I know.

Who would you say are the biggest influences?

All authors. Life. Weird people. Vince Gilligan (of Breaking Bad fame).

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

Pretty much any of the classics.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

For the book I’m writing now, the best song is, “Highway Star” by Deep Purple. Old school.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I either stick my fingers in my ears and go, “La la la la – I can’t heeeeeeear you”, or I shrug and simply accept that not everybody is going to like my books. Having a pen name keeps me from taking anything too personally. It’s my happy detachment place.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

Weird – Our city is built on a volcano.

Nice – We have geysers. J

Fact – Yellowstone National Park is home to 618 grizzly bears. (That doesn’t count black bears – which are much tougher to tally because they’re sneaky.)

What are you working on now?

A novella, “Breaking Rule One” – just for Howie Evil fans. Stay tuned, Christoph. You might be surprised by something in it.

Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?

My characters like to tromp through readers’ heads and drive them half-mad. If you let them do that to yours, they will love you forever and Howie might let me live. Thank you!

This was fun. Thanks, Christoph. J


Find Bonnie on AMAZON 

and on Goodreads

and on Smashwords

and on Facebook 

and on Twitter https://twitter.com/BonnieBernard


Here are some reviews of her magnificent work:

 “Rest Inn Peace” by Bonnie Bernard is a hilarious cross between humour and horror, you just could not make it up unless you were Bonnie herself.
The book is full of magic creatures who come to stay at the Rest Inn Peace, which is an Inn , not a motel. Since the death of the former Innkeeper Selma the place is in danger of being shut down. Selma’s grandson, Corbin (or Cobra like he would prefer to be called and not snakeman as he is nicknamed at the Inn!) takes over together with his 12 year old daughter. Corbin has just been released from prison, has many issues and refuses to acknowledge anything remotely magic, although that proves difficult in Rest Inn Peace.
Bernard has created an amazing cast of creatures that populate the place: Billy the Fairyman, a family of Yeti’s, Vampires, werewolves, Zombies, trolls and a “flamboyant disco ghost” to name a few. As the book states: The creatures who reside in it are ‘badass bitches’.
The book is full of great on-liners, hilarious dialogue and witty observations. I hate to use the phrase in a review but I laughed out loud many times and hope I will remember the crazy metaphors and word creations.
With much love to detail and imagination the book is spiked with delights. The rooms and the creatures have some very odd and most original and entertaining names. There is some chemistry with the Inn Manager Regina or Reggie, but Cobra still wonders whether he should stay at all.
Then there are murders and Cobra learns that the magical realm is nothing to play with.
This is great fun to read although I must warn you – if you haven’t guessed it yet – there is some fair amount of swearing and strong language.
This is a solid and original idea that works really well. There are some serious moments, too. Cobra has had substance issues and so has his ex-wife and so it is just as well that he is so far from human civilization.
A big fan of Bonnie Bernard’s other books I found this even better and look forward to the next mad but genial creations she comes up with.
Hugely enjoyable!


“Midnight Hunter” by Bonnie Bernard is the first in a series of books that promises to be a welcome addition to the vampire and paranormal genre collection. The book has a string of great characters and is as much a fun-filled romance novel as it is about vampires and suspense.
The story starts with a short prologue and a mysterious warning for little Donna by her grandmother about two men Donna is going to meet later in life, one good and one bad.
The narrative then jumps to the time just weeks before Donna’s 21st birthday. Donna and her best friend Mo are two typical young women with share a laugh and go out to meet men. 
Donna starts to have odd dreams, there is a series of kidnapped girls and in that chaos she meets Hunter, a vampire who calls himself her eternal love.
Bernard does a great job at showing the difficulties Donna has with trust, given the warning her grandmother gave her and the obscure nature of what Hunter tells her to be true.
Successfully blending the girlie parts with the paranormal this is a fun book, reminiscent to me as a casual visitor to the genre of True Blood, but pleasantly not as overdone as the TV series was for me. The writing is perfect and flows very easily and shows a writer with much talent.If you love Vampire stories this is for you, if you’re not a fan yet, this might be a good place to start exploring


“Nature Calls” by Bonnie Bernard was recommended to me by a good friend and it did not disappoint me. The book is hugely enjoyable for its suspense, the mystery and the dark horror or fantasy tales, some of which are cleverly blended with wit, fun and humour. Some pieces are very short that pointedly explore one idea and then there are longer ones and even one series of stories in which Yeti meets a space alien, a demon, the bigfoot hunters and even the holy man. The Yeti tales are probably my favourite, I laughed out loud when Yeti discusses the inconvenient parking space of the flying saucer. The stories are rarely predictable and with most of them I was surprised and fascinated by the outcome.
The selection covers a broad spectrum of themes and emotions, goblins, fairies, demons, witches, kings and gods. The stories are all well written and skilfully told and as a collection they work very well together. While many such collections are put on the market as soon as the author has gathered a book’s worth of material these seem to have been hand picked to form a great flow and a continuity that I did not expect from such a varied bunch of stories. The quality of both the ideas and the execution of them makes this a great achievement and the author one to watch.

19 Nov 2013

Melodie Ramone: “After Forever Ends”

2 Comments Book Reviews


“After Forever Ends” by Melodie Ramone is an absolutely charming and enchanting love story. Told by Silvia, an old widow it is the tale of her love to her husband Oliver, whom she meets at the age of 15 and whom she loves ever since.
Their wonderful, sweet, honest, romantic and deep love for each other crosses the paths of a few other significant people, not least Oliver’s twin brother Alexander and Silvia’s sister Lucy. This is the story of their life in Wales, their struggles and their ‘forever’.
The book is written in a most enchanting style and leads us through the stages of the couple’s life in wonderful detail, thoughtful, humorous, inspiring and heart-warming. 
I can’t stress enough just how beautiful this book is without crossing the line into unnecessary drama or kitsch. The romance is heart-felt, realistic and magic at the same time as Ramone has created very likeable characters that are not always totally perfect but are trying to be. Although the book begins with Silvia at an old age and being widowed it ends on a positive note and left me happy and cheerful. It is a credit to this author to have handled the sadness as well as this and bring happiness to a time when forever has ended.
I am massively impressed with this effort and urge you to see for yourself how lovely this book is.



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

Hi, Christoph! Thank you SO MUCH for inviting me! I’m really excited to be doing this.

Tell us a little about yourself. I was surprised to find you live in the US but your book is so convincingly set in England and Wales? How did you decide on the location?

Well, I’m Scottish on my father’s side and Welsh on my mothers, so the locations were a natural choice. I’m familiar with the area that the twins in the book are from, which is right on the border between England and Wales. Quite honestly, it’s the happiest, most magical and beautiful place I’ve ever been, so when I decided that my story would be a positive one, Powys was the first place that came to mind.

Have you always written?

 I have been writing since I was about four years old. I used to make up little poems and stories before I could even write them down.

How did you have the inspiration for your story and your characters?  

After Forever Ends is based largely on my own experiences in life, or of experiences based on people who have been very close to me. I wrote it huddled under a blue blanket one very cold winter while I was living in New York. It was a dark part of my life where I was facing both inner and outer demons. I was unsure of the future and looking back at my past and trying desperately not to be bitter about my situation. A lot of things went into it; my homesickness for the UK and a little house that sits in Wales, missing friends who had left this world too soon, dealing with the passing of a relative I thought of as a mother. As I pondered all of this, and much more I won’t bore you with, I began to remember the good that was in my life. All the people, the places, the conversations and the laughter, and I decided to take those memories and change names, switch locations, and jumble circumstances. When the book boils down, it’s about 90% autobiography. And then I was reading it back to myself and I realized I had lived a wonderful, bumpy, spectacular, absolutely wonderful life. So I wrote some more and when I was done, I had After Forever Ends on a memory stick.

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

I had nothing set in my mind at all. I just started telling the story at the day I met my high school boyfriend and went from there. I really let myself bounce around the memories the whole time I wrote. Nothing was planned or contrived. It was written how it happened, with a couple of embellishments for creative measure. 

I am amazed to hear this.  I would never have known. Tell us a little about your writing and editing process.

My writing process is erratic. It begins with a voice. Yes, as schizophrenic as that sounds, it always starts with a voice, like somebody whispering in my ear. And if I pay attention to them, they soon begin to infiltrate my dreams. Sometimes I will be watching them as if I am seeing a film, sometimes I will be them, but I start to get a clear vision, literally, of the world they live in, and an emotional knowledge of their lives. And then I just sit in the still with my computer and wait for them to tell me their story. I just type it as fast as I can, then go back and fill in the blanks, if they leave me any.

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

It really depends. I live in a house that is generally chaotic, so I often listen to music, but not music. Not exactly. Let me clarify. I tend to put on the headset and listen to Hindi chants or Buddhist chants. Certain ones, especially Ek Ong Kar and The Green Tara Mantra. They help clear my head, help me focus, and help me see more clearly what my goal in the story is. Other than that, I do prefer it to be quiet. Or, sometimes, I will play the same film over and over and over. I won’t even be paying attention to it, it’s like a hum in the background, but I just keep hitting repeat for hours. I did that with a ongHong Kong cinema film while writing After Forever Ends. I must have played it over two hundred times.

Which of your characters was most fun to write?

All of my characters were fun to write, but I especially enjoy Oliver. He was the most challenging character, because I couldn’t quite get into his head. See, I think of my characters as real people and when you “meet” Oliver, he comes off as completely sane and reasonable, but he’s really not. He’s way off his rocker. He doesn’t think like a normal person, his perceptions are different, so you just have to sort of accept him and not put any standards on him. But the thing about Oliver is, he is hysterically funny if you pay attention to him. I think he’s the funniest character in the book, but he’s subtle, too, so you have to watch him. Funny, I should use the word “watch”, but if you read the book you will know exactly what I mean.

Who would play them in a film?

I look for people who would resemble my characters and I have to say for Silvia, I’d go with Mandy Moore if she could do an Edinburgh accent. I’ve kind of fallen in love with her since I wrote the book and realized she looks a bit like Sil. She’d have to die her hair red and make it curly, though. For the twins, I’d love to have Ioan Griffudd, since he looks something like them in the face and he’d have no problem nailing the Welsh accent, being as he’s Welsh. I don’t know how tall he is, though. Lucy…physically speaking, I’d pick Isla Fisher.

Are you like any of the characters?

I am more like Silvia than I’d like to admit and enough like her to be proud that we’re the same on many levels. Silvia’s a lot more attached and insecure than I am. That’s really a big difference between us. I am fiercely independent and she has a deep need of people. It’s one of the things I like about her, though, her endless capacity to receive and return love.

What is your life like?

Well, I live in a big, ugly yellow house on a shady street in a historical district with nothing other than cute little white houses on it. I have two daughters, a husband, and a couple of pets. I wake up in the morning and immediately check my computer for e-mails, then tweet, then check my Writing Group, then I think about making coffee. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Most of my days are busy. My girls are home schooled, so we do a lot of that, and I take them to their music lessons and out shopping. We go to Sonic a lot for drinks. I like to cook and I do a lot of different things in the kitchen, hence my reputation for being a “Certified Kitchen Witch”. When I’m not cooking or cleaning or teaching or being a taxi, I like to paint and knit. And read. And write, of course. My days are always busy and almost never boring. I have a very busy, quiet, happy life. I have a lot of peace, which is something I didn’t have when I was young. I’m lucky.

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

Wow. You know, my favourite books are the really old, dry ones that I read when I was young. I am not a subscriber to the modern concept that a story should be told in 300 pages or less. Screw that. I love Tolkein, Alcott, and Lawrence. Those stories they told were real. Absolutely real and raw and dirt and messy and they were long, but once you read them, you actually lived another life. You came out of them with somebody else’s experience and wisdom and you were a better person for knowing the characters. Those are the kinds of books I want to write. The kind that change your mind and get into your soul and stay there forever.

As far as films, I’m a big fan of Hong Kong Cinema, but not the karate genre, per se. I love Hong Kong drama. My all time favourite film ever is a Hong Kong film called “Anna Magdalena”. But as far as American cinema, I just like movies that have meaning, or are funny. It’s always nice to just laugh.

Music…well, that’s a whole other subject! I listen to everything from opera, standards, and jazz to Iron Maiden. It depends on my mood. 

What are your views on independent publishing?

Well, I’ve been in the publishing industry on and off since I was twelve years old. I made a very intentional decision to self-publish. It wasn’t born of the frustration of being rejected by traditional publishers. I know full well I can be traditionally published, because I’ve done it under a different name. However, I didn’t want to be told what to do. I didn’t want my book to be gutted. It was so personal and so special to me that I wanted it how it was. I didn’t want it to be necessarily polished or perfect. I wanted the reader to have one of two experiences as they read: to either be the person Silvia, the narrator, was speaking to, hearing her voice as she rambled, watching her remember her life and tell it in her own words, or to be an eaves dropper on the train with them. My goal was to tell the story the way my own grandmother would have told it to me. I didn’t want anybody touching that, so I didn’t let them. I have every intention of doing the same thing with my next book, too. Every story has a soul and every author has the right to tell it the way they want. I like to do things my own way without a lot of aggravation. I’m very punk rock that way. 

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

My best qualities are my sense of humour and my inner strength. I’ve been through a lot in my life and it’s made me empathetic and passionate about everything and everyone. I’m kind. My odd qualities? Oh, my, there are many! I don’t look at things in a traditional way…at all. I believe only in possibilities and never in limitations.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My favourite animals are bats. I think they are so cool and so cute! My favourite colour is emerald green. My favourite outdoor activity? Well, I’m not very outdoorsy, but I do like campfires and starry skies.

What would you take to a remote island?


Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Joey Ramone. I’d love to have made my world famous pot roast for him, as a thank you, before he passed away. We’re no relation, but I’ve always been a fan.

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

I’m currently doing some freelance editing, but I’m working on novel #2 as well. I don’t really like to talk about my works in progress, but once it’s ready to rock I’ll be posting on Twitter and on my blog.



Amazon:  http://bookShow.me/B009ODTG86

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6540025.Melodie_Ramone


twitter username melodie_ramone
About this author

I’m a wife, mother, keeper of fuzzy critters, author, speaker and certified Kitchen Witch. When I’m not creating Culinary magic, I can usually be found writing stories, reading books, relentlessly tweeting, knitting or delving into fringe Physics. Super geek? Oh, yeah. 

What else? Well, I’m funny and quick tempered, older than I look and young enough to be able to fall on roller skates and still move the next day. I’m short. I have curly, red hair. My favorite color is emerald green. I like Japanese Anime, rainy days, cats, kids, and any movie that includes Simon Pegg. 

I’m obsessed with the Science of Physics, particularly Particle Physics, although in the last few years I am drawn more and more toward Astronomy. I’m fascinated with Outer Space and what’s going on out there. Hubble and the Mars Rovers have sparked a passion in me that goes back to the first time I saw Star Wars. And that was a long, long time ago. I’m a curious person by nature. I want to know everything about everything, I want to see it. I want to understand it so I can understand the origins of our universe. But, then again, I want to understand everything in general. 

Some things I never will. I will never understand hate. I will never understand ignorance. I try to let them wash past me, but sometimes it’s hard. I think, in some ways, it’s why I write. So I can leave behind a world I don’t always understand, one I sometimes find too painful to stay in, and create my own universe. One that parallels this one, one that is similar, but one which I, ultimately control. One where everything, at least to me, makes sense.

In short, I’m a happy person. I’m not perfect and I’m not entirely sane, but I don’t pretend to be. In the end, when I look back at my life I will see an amazing smear of color. All the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the strength and weakness that was me. I’ll see all I did and all I failed at. And I will sigh and I will say that I lived. I really, truly lived. I was real. I wrote books. And that, I think, will be good enough for me.


11 Nov 2013

Author profile SHANE O’NEILL and his new release FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

2 Comments Book Reviews, News



Regular followers of my blog will know that I read little Horror. So it is with particular pleasure that I introduce one of those gifted writers that made me enjoy their work and go back for more. So far I have read and reviewed four of Shane’s work [I have attached the reviews at the end of this feature].

Here is the new book



and an interview with Shane. 




A war rages on around us every day. The struggle to save all mankind. The ultimate evil.

The battle for souls has raged since the truce that followed the First Great War of the Angels. God has struck the ultimate blow and sacrifice to gain the advantage and defeat His fallen angel and estranged son, Lucifer. As Lucifer stands at the foot of the Cross that drains the last ounce of life from Christ and eradicates man’s sins, he realises that his work must begin anew.
In time, he comes to understand that his only chance to win this battle will be to destroy the institution of the Catholic Church to turn man against God, once and for all. He searches for more than a millennium for the candidate to see his plan through to an end and finally discovers the one that can cast that final blow.



Interview with Shane:

Tell us a little about yourself as a writer and a person.

The writer has been in me for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid I wrote poems and short stories. It is what I have always wanted to be, though I have taken my time with my project. I wrote the first parts of it all the way back in 1984, about 50k words that will appear in one of the much later books. Then in 1992, I started the project proper. It took me thirteen years to write Reckoning Day and a first draft that is over 350k words long. I immediately followed it with Bound By Blood and The Gates Of Babylon, which I have since broken up into separate books owing to the length of the originals. I try and write in a way that engages the reader on every page. I want my readers to see everything as though they are standing there in the middle of it all. Many people have told me they do indeed feel this when they’re reading my work. Also, I want my reader to feel everything that each of my characters are feeling, and I go to great pains to achieve this.

As a man, I am someone who is devoted to those he loves, though circumstances in my life have often kept me apart from my loved ones. I am dedicated in the things I do, passionate over the things I care about and I try always to consider the feelings of others, whatever the situation.

What is it that fascinates you about Dracula? Is there a particular thing? When did the obsession begin?

The whole ethos that surrounds Dracula captivates me. I was sucked in from a young age with Christopher Lee’s portrayal of him on the big screen. His Dracula terrified me with his bloodshot eyes and long fangs, yet I was forever drawn to him. I watched all the other vampire/horror movies of the 1950’s and 1960’s, hooked on the adrenaline rush one gets from watching these at such a young age.

My interest, and yes, obsession, with Dracula grew over time when I discovered the real Vlad III Dracula who lived in the 15th Century. I collected and read so many texts over the years that I felt as though I knew him. Of course, historical texts lack a feel for who he was and the novels I read that attempted to create this, fell well short of who I saw him to be. Therefore, I made it a vocation to bring him to life in my books, but as a combination of both.

I do strive however to distance my character from Bram Stoker’s. The only similarity they share is their name. It irks me when people call my work a new take on an old legend, because it is nothing of the sort. This is an entirely new concept that bears little or no resemblance to the Stoker classic.

What made you decide to write such historical accounts of Dracula and when did you begin to write the other stories?

I began writing Reckoning Day, a part of the story based in the late 20th Century. After every three chapters I was going back in time to 1476 to the time of Dracula’s death. Initially, I wanted to give an origin and a background to the vampire in the story. When this part of the story continued to grow, I separated it and turned it into a book in its own right. Using the premise of Lucifer trying to ascend again to Heaven through the destruction of the institution of the Catholic Church, I had so much scope to work with. I put Dracula behind the scenes of every major event in the 16th Century where the influence of the Vatican was harmed or compromised. This allowed me to write about Martin Luther, Niccolo Machiavelli, the Borgias, the Tudors, and many of the great kings and popes of the day.

But I wasn’t satisfied with that, and after writing the section of the story from 1476 to 1612, I wanted to go back further in time to Dracula’s birth. I had planned to write about ten chapters and put it in at the beginning of the existing book, but 300k words later, I had only reached the halfway point in his life. I was, and still am, so in love with that period from 1431 to 1456 and the combined histories of the Romanias, Anatolia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary that the words just continued to flow. That will now become three books. I still have to cover the period from 1456 to his death twenty years later.

Tell us a little about the history of the books and your writing. How long did it take you to write and publish?

I have answered this question, in part, already. As I mentioned earlier, the first book I wrote – Reckoning Day – took me thirteen years to complete. It is a huge book though and will probably become 3 separate books at some point. I had a representative at that time who was well connected in literary circles around New York. She showed Reckoning Day to several of the publishing houses and well-established agents there. At the time, Kostova’s The Historian was due for release and the popular opinion was that it would not be a good time to have two Dracula novels competing with each other at the same time. I did have a couple of offers though, which I rejected. Some people have scorned me for doing this, but in hindsight it was the correct decision. The one publishing house I rejected certainly would have made my name well known. But had I chosen that route at that time, I’m not sure my concept would have evolved as it did and therefore I am happy with where I am today.

In 2006, I wrote the two large tomes that have now become Chronicles #1, #2, #3, #6 and #7. Over the next six years I re-wrote these between six and ten times, refining the story and bringing it all together. I released the two vampire books, #6 and #7 in December, 2012 and am now releasing #1 this week.

What is the easiest about writing and what is the hardest?

The easiest aspect for me has always been writing the story. Whenever I have sat down to write, the words just flowed for me. The hardest and most tiresome part will always be the editing process.

What is your favourite scary movie?

Definitely The Omen. An absolute classic.

What are your next projects? Have you written anything else?

Aside from The Dracula Chronicles, I will only be writing horror shorts for the foreseeable future. Those shorts are part of a series called Tales Of The Black Sabbath. In these, I explore the darker recesses of the human psyche.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

Life is very busy with work and getting my books out there. Norway isn’t the easiest country to make it as a foreigner, but I do have many good friends here.I work in mental health for the local authority. The greatest pleasure I have is time with my son, or with my daughters when I’m in the UK. Otherwise, I like being out in the countryside or enjoying a coffee with friends.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

Yes I’ve met and read books by some very good Indie authors. Some examples would be Luke Romyn, Katie Jennings, Ashley Fontainne, Travis Luedke and John Dolan. I hear this guy, Christoph Fischer, is really good too.

 Lol. Thank you. What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Ugh I don’t really know. Maybe that when I love someone, it is absolute. On the negative side, I’m always re-stacking the dishwasher after people as it drives me nuts when everything just gets thrown in there.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

I’m a dog person myself and used to keep German Shepherds. I love those dogs. My favourite colour would be purple, closely followed by green. I love many outdoor activities, but walking out in the woods or in the wilds would probably be my favourite.

What would you take to a remote island?

The woman of my dreams, my vinyl collection and my laptop.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Oh, what a question. There are so many amazing people out there that I’d have loved to have had dinner with and chat to. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us. I wouldn’t mind having Marg Helgenberger around for dinner, though I’d probably be too busy staring at her to say much of anything.

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

At the moment I’m working on the final draft from my 3rd editor for Chronicle #2, The Path To Decay, which I hope to release in December and then it is on to the final re-writes of Chronicle #3, The Gates Of Babylon. I also want to release a couple more of my horror shorts over the coming months. Busy, busy, busy. I try to keep all the information updated on my website www.draculachronicles.co.uk

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

I just want my readers to know that my primary objective is to entertain you. Nothing gives me more pleasure than mails and correspondence with people who have been wowed by what I have written. The Dracula Chronicles will introduce you to a fascinating world, engaging you with characters some of you may already be familiar with, and others that you won’t have heard of before picking up one of my books.

These stories are historical novels of Gothic horror, full of political intrigue, religious corruption, great battles, tragedy and romance. The premise is built completely around true historical events, which I manipulate to integrate my concept, though without deviating from the true course of these events. I also use myth and legend where necessary and I have filled one or two holes that historical texts do not give full clarification to. With all these elements combined, it makes for a captivating series of reads.


Shane the Author


Shane KP O’Neill is the writer of The Dracula Chronicles, a new and exciting series adding a new dimension to the Dracula myth. He has begun the series with a later Chronicle to give his readers the vampire first. The series then continues on with Chronicle #1, For Whom The Bell Tolls, to take you back to the beginning. 

The author developed a fascination with Dracula from an early age. Like many others he was enthralled by Christopher Lee’s portrayal of him on the big screen. It was in his late teens that he discovered Dracula the man and the love affair began from there. An avid lover of history, he studied the period in which the real historical Vlad Dracula lived, 15th Century Balkan, for many years. It followed from there then that with his love of writing he would always choose Dracula as his subject.  He built a concept and premise where he could accommodate both Dracula the vampire and Dracula the man.

Away from writing, the author has a wide range of interests. He reads a lot of books from a wide variety of authors though his main interest lies in the horror genre.  His love of books is matched only by his love of the countryside and of course, his family.  As an added note, he has lived and travelled all over the world. He has a love for all things historical, with a particular fascination for medieval Europe. Anywhere he travels, he likes to search out locations with an historical interest and will always hunt for the ruins of an old castle before heading to the beach.


US –  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00A75SM4O

UK –  http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00A75SM4O

Website  www.draculachronicles.co.uk

Blog  www.draculachronicles.co.uk/blog

Twitter @ShaneKPONeill

Goodreads  http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12341417-shane-o-neill

Youtube  http://www.youtube.com/user/DraculaChronicles

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 “The Lamb of God” by Shane KP O’Neill tells the story of Dracula from the beginning, literally, the creation of the world. Telling the story of the biblical genesis but with slight alterations this is instantly captivating and fascinating. The story of Christ and finally the 15th century history and family genealogy Vlad Dracul are portrayed in one dramatic history lecture that leads up to the birth of Dracula.
As fan of history I hugely enjoyed this re-telling of the biblical gospel and O’Neill’s take on the Dracula story. Clearly familiar with the historical facts and the times he paints a great picture of how one would have to imagine the story. Written with an authoritative voice and in appropriate prose the short novel shows a creative idea executed with expertise and skill. A great accomplishment.



16217523The Dracula Chronicles: Bound By Blood – Volume 1” by Shane O’Neill is an excellent Dracula story. Combining the myth with history and significant events in the development of the Catholic Church the book has a lot to offer.

The story begins with one battle in a long winded struggle by Vlad III Dracula, Voivode of Wallachia to re-gain his throne and power. Close to victory he gets wounded and strikes a deal with Lucifer. Dracula is to gain eternal life in exchange for playing a significant role against the Catholic Church.
The books then follows Vlad III Dracula doing just that: In the Italy of the Medici’s and Machiavelli, the Court in London and in a Germany just before Luther’s reforms.
These historical elements in the book are really well done and make this an enjoyable and intelligent read that easily surpasses most Vampire and Dracula stories. There is a competence and power in this writing that makes the story feel very real, despite the paranormal aspects. 

The characters are well developed and the dialogue runs very smoothly. The paranormal aspects of the story are what I expected to like the least but they too are written with care and attention to detail. I often feel that as Vampires are the flavour of the season many writers make details about their Vampires and the life they lead up as they go along, leaving the reader with a lot of confusion and inconsistencies. O’Neill has avoided such downfalls and never lost my attention or trust. The book is powerful, competent and very engaging. 
Highly recommended for all fans of the genre but particularly for those who also appreciate literary quality.


09 Nov 2013

“The Missing Half” by Brooke Powley

1 Comment Book Reviews


“The Missing Half” by Brooke Powley

is a powerful literary gem that deals with the tragic issue of child abduction.
At age 2 one of two twins is abducted in Cornwall and for ten years her mother campaigns and fights for publicity and police action to find her missing daughter, never giving up.
The book is written in several narratives, adding multiple dimensions to the search and the story. It would be difficult to give away too much without spoiling the experience of the book.

At the beginning of the book it is mainly the mother, Alice, who writes to her missing daughter and tells her exactly how the tragedy occurs and what happens immediately afterwards.
The account is moving, honest and includes a lot of statistical and basic information on child abduction. We learn about the ordeal and the many psychological aspects of the unique situation.

Later on different narratives bring in more perspectives and add extra dimensions to the story and the book reads like a psychological thriller, although I would say for the majority it reads like great literary fiction.

This book is an excellent but somewhat emotional experience, often very sad and melancholic, so keep the tissues handy, but definitely worth the time. It is thought provoking and an amazing literary debut.


Interview with the author:

2005 1


Hi Brooke

Please tell us a little about yourself as a writer and as a person? How did you come to writing? IS this your first book / published work/ written work?

I grew up in the Lake District as the oldest of three children. Reading has always been my passion and as a little girl you would usually find me buried in a book, or spending my pocket money in the local bookshop. I went to university in Nottingham and after graduating in 2008,  returned to the Lake District and took some time out of my career to focus on being a full time mum to my then very tiny baby.  Some years went by; I returned to work part-time, my daughter started full-time school.  Last Christmas, my partner bought me a kindle. One day, I said to him that writing a book to publish on kindle surely couldn’t be that difficult. He raised his eyebrows, and replied ‘I bet you can’t’.   ‘The Missing Half’ is the result!


Why did you decide to write about child abduction? How did the idea for the novel come to you?

Missing children is always something you follow, subconsciously, as you grow up.  Madeline McCann went missing a couple of months before I spent a summer living in Beijing. At the time I was a young woman of twenty-two with no children of my own. As the BBC is banned in China, thoughts of the missing toddler weren’t more  than ‘isn’t it horrible’. After having my daughter child abduction, however rare, became a real possibility. I took Ava on a month long tour of the USA on my own when she was twenty months old and I was all too aware that particularly the blonde haired, blue eyed girls, were a real risk. 

I wanted my story to be something that people can relate to. Losing a child is every mother’s worst nightmare. I asked myself, as the UK news have shown more and more children going missing over the years, what you would really do, if that were your child? Alice was the first character that came clearly to my mind. The rest took a lot more planning!

You set your book in a range of places though the main location is Cornwall, can you tell us why?

We actually took our family holidays to Perranporth every summer when I was a child – my parents, younger brother and I. Those who know me will say that I have a razor sharp memory for all things useless!  I haven’t been back to Perranporth for fifteen years, but I can remember it so vividly in my mind. It seemed the perfect place to set the novel – a quiet sleepy little village. To make it easier on myself I set the abduction in one of the years I’d been there myself. It’s such a wonderful part of the country. Looking at the images reminded me that I really do need to head back there sometime soon, but unfortunately my razor sharp memory still recollects those awful drives from the Lake District!

Did you need to do much research for the book?

I did a lot of research on government legislation relating to missing children and how it had changed over the years, which took a lot of time and energy.  I also focused a lot on the statistics for missing children in the UK and the USA.  Some of the facts were chilling, and it was quite heavy going particularly when you realised how lax legislation has been in the past and how easy it would have been to change.

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

If anything, I’d say I’m probably most like Richard.  Richard is a family man, and family comes first for him before anything else. He is also resilient, hard working, has a good humour and most importantly, isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes is right. 

Did you have any say in the cover art and who was that process?

The cover is something I had the idea of right from the start. I wanted it to entice the reader. The cover depicts Grace, on one of the last days she has with her real family looking out to sea in a pale pink cotton dress.  The picture is actually one of my own, taken by me of my daughter Ava in California when we were on our grand USA tour.  I decided that the rhetorical question on the front would add depth to the title. I had my editor format the picture so it was suitable for kindle and print editions. I have to say, I think the picture makes a great cover, though I’m probably a bit bias!

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The highs:  Becoming lost in your world of characters and stories, receiving positive feedback, celebratory cake, the sense of achievement when it’s all over, seeing the book for sale on Amazon and people stopping me in the street to offer congratulations!

The lows: Late nights, the editing process and finding the time to fit it all in around a busy life!

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

At the moment, I’m focusing on marketing ‘The Missing Half’ alongside my normal job and everyday life.  I haven’t started writing book two, but it’s in the forefront of my mind and I hope to start it in Autumn and have it ready for release in Spring 2014 – so watch this space!

What do you do when you don’t write?

I must admit I have a busy life. Between school runs and a taxi service to various after school clubs, normal ‘work’ three days a week, getting out and about on my mountain bike, keeping my flock of backyard hens in check, running a toddler group, reading and running my website –  I’m not entirely sure how I manage to fit in writing!

Which are your favourite books and authors?

J.K. Rowling – The Harry Potter books are my all time favourite. The Time Travellers Wife is another of my top books.   I read a lot of Diane Chamberlain, Dorothy Koomson, Jodi Picoult and I mostly read general mainstream fiction.  However, I’ve read a fair few Indie authors recently – D.J. Kirkby and Charlotte Castle and also a few debut novels and the standard is very high.  

What would you take to an isolated island?

Books – lots of books!  Can I take my hens?! We currently have five – all different breeds .  Hen’s are great foragers so they’d live happily on an island. If I had fresh eggs and books then life would be good! Of course, it goes without saying I’d take my family, and any other close friends I consider to be handy enough to build us a Swiss Family Robinson kind of tree-house!

What is your next project?

Book Two! It’s as yet unnamed with no concrete plot (really selling it here, I know).  But as soon as school is back in full swing, a normal routine is up and running and those cold, dark nights creep it then I’ll be on it!


my website is: www.brookepowley.com
author profile on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brookepowleyauthor
author profile on goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7151546
twitter link: @powleybrooke















07 Nov 2013

Constructing Marcus by Danielle DeVor

2 Comments Book Reviews

 Today I have the pleasure of introducing multi-talented writer Danielle DeVor, author of young adult books as well as horror for grown ups. 

Large Base Consstructing Marcus Working copy

“Constructing Marcus” by Danielle DeVor is a very sweet ghost hunting book, probably written for young adults but with enough appeal for this young reader.

Our heroine Emma is a teenager with an anorexic mother and an interest in ghost hunting. When the family moves to Boston from Florida she loses all of her friends but keeps up her good spirit and engages in some research regarding the house. When she finds out that a witch was killed in the house her interest is sparked, as are her emotions when she meets the attractive Marcus, a ghostly creature made by said witch.

It is hard to describe just how lovely the main character is, melancholic but strong and full of life despite her problems. She is mature for her age but also just a girl, which makes her extremely likeable, simply a great protagonist for such a book.

The ghost hunting part of the book is also handled well. We are all inundated with ghost hunting programmes on TV and watching Emma going about it in her unassuming and gentle way is a pleasant and refreshing change from that norm. The paranormal detective story and the suspense in this book are kept at a good pace to keep the interest going but also giving enough space for the other issues of the book, particularly the parent-child relationships. 
Those are also full of thought, DeVor spends a lot of time describing the parents and making interesting and varied as characters to stop falling into the trap of cliquee. I loved the mother with all her foibles and flaws and Marcus is also a fun character and one that many young female readers will enjoy reading.

I found this a low key yet hugely enjoyable read that I finished in almost one sitting. I would like my nieces to have a friend like Emma and a boyfriend like Marcus.

Interview with Danielle:


Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

I guess you could say that I have always been a very imaginative person. I can remember being a kid and creating very specific scenarios for the toys I was playing with at the time. Usually, it was a combination of Barbies and Star Wars figures. I really believe that helped me create worlds and situations in my writing as I got older.

What made you decide to write for / about young adults? And why did you chose to write about ghost hunting?

I am one of those people who felt the old John Hughes films- The Breakfast Club still remains my favorite film. So, for me, it was natural to tap into that age group and create my own worlds. Ghost hunting was something I wanted to add to Constructing Marcus. You always hear the old, “Write what you know” advice. And, well, I belong to a ghost hunting organization called the West Virginia Paranormal Research Society.

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How did you have the inspiration for your story and your characters?

 I have always been the kid that researches weird things, so finding odd occult information is nothing new. Several years ago, I stumbled across a book about séances and Ouija boards and there was a story about a group of spiritualists in England who essentially “created” their own ghost “constructed” from ideas, a made up personality, looks, and powers. It is said that if you visit this house, the “Construct” will still speak to you via a Ouija board. So, when I decided to write a YA Paranormal Romance, this old story popped into my head and I knew it was something I could work with.

Do you have a particular message you would like to convey?

I don’t really think of my writing as having a specific message, but I’m sure that my views on certain thoughts come out in my writing whether I mean them to or not.

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

Not too much. I knew Emma’s name. Marcus went through several name changes. But, I knew I was writing about a teenage ghost hunter who moved into a spooky house in Boston. The rest kind of just came along as I wrote. I fully admit it, I’m a total punster.

Which of your characters was most enjoyable to write?

In this book, it was definitely Emma. I liked making her strong and not give into her mother’s mental problems.

Who would play them in a film?

Emma, I would like played by a young brunette. Jennifer Lawrence would be perfect.

Are you like any of the characters in the book?

I’m a little bit like Emma in terms of standing up for what I believe in, but she puts up with things a lot longer than I do. LOL.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I currently live in West Virginia. Lots of mountains around. Right now, writing is my job. When I’m not writing or doing promo for my writing, I read, watch lots of horror films, and crochet.

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

Literary influences- Anne Rice, Stephen King, Richard Matheson.

My favorite books are: Blood Thrist by LA Freed, I am Legend by Richard Matheson, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. There are more, but that’s off the top of my head.

My favorite movies are: The Breakfast Club, The Lost Boys, The Shining ( the one with Jack Nicholson), and An American Werewolf in London.

My favorite albums are: The Rolling Stones Greatest Hits, Type O Negative Bloody Kisses, and The Soundtrack to the movie Queen of the Damned

What are your views on independent publishing?

I think it is a great option for authors if they can afford to do it right. Hiring a good editor and a good cover artist are expensive parts of the process.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

Travis Luedke’s The Shepherd, Maer Wilson’s Relics (her later books in the series will all be Self Pubbed), and Simon Okill’s Bigfoot series

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

My best quality would probably be my loyalty to my friends. But, the oddest, would probably be that even though I’m an extreme horror film fanatic, I am afraid of the dark.

What are your favourite animal?

My favorite animal is the bat. I’ve even gone out with the DNR and helped tag bats for a study before.

What would you take to a remote island?

My favorite books. My harp. Tools to be able to make myself shelter and enable me to hunt for food.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

I would like to be invited for dinner by Hannibal Lecter if he was eating a normal meal. There is something about the character and intelligence he has that fascinates me. Of course, it would be like throwing treats to a shark, but it definitely wouldn’t be a boring evening.

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

I am currently working on the sequel to my vampire book, Tail of the Devil. I hope to have it finished by the first of December. You can find out about my already published books and future books at my blog/website 

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

I love hearing from readers, so feel free to contact me via social media. 

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @sammyig

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielledevorauthor

Website: http://danielledevor.wordpress.com

Book Buy links:

Tail of the Devil

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00CJHO7D8

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tail-of-the-devil-danielle-devor/1115225829?ean=2940016494050

Sorrow’s Point

Amazon: http://amzn.com/1939173418

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sorrows-point-danielle-devor/1117032105?ean=9781939173416

Constructing Marcus

Amazon:  http://amzn.com/B00EVS384W

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/constructing-marcus-danielle-devor/1116804074?ean=2940148671886


Danielle DeVor spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching “Salem’s Lot” way too many times.  After living briefly in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she moved back to her hometown to write.  When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a mocha frappuccino.  Visit her at danielledevor.wordpress.com


 I have since had the opportunity to read Danielle’s other work and here are my reviews for them:

“Tail of the Devil” by Danielle DeVor is a well written Vampire Story about a 15 year old boy. Mathias Drvar has run away from his evil aunt who became his guardian after his parents dies in an accident.
Living on the streets of New York he occasionally earns money by doing odd job for a mysterious man named Nic. On one of those missions Mathias gets injured and awakes in the hands of Vlad Dracula.
This is where the fun begins, as Dracula hates being called by that name and the mighty Nosferatu prefers to be called Nossy. It turns out that Mathias is a distant relative and belongs to the Vampire lineage and will be taught how to be a Vampire and how to fight his enemies.
DeVor has created a very entertaining set of characters in this coming of age of a vampire tale. Mathias is a great if somewhat unlikely and often reluctant adolescent hero and his allies are equally colourful. With Mathias we learn more about the world of Vampires, Lilith the evil Queen and Mathias’ s special role.tail of the devil coverart largeThe use of language might keep it slightly out of bounds for the youngest of the younger audiences but although the tone is dark at times it always remains slightly light hearted. 
Written with much love for the genre and attention to descriptive detail this is a wonderful Vampire story that has a great warm feel to it at times and then takes you into captivating scenes of action. For fans of the paranormal and supernatural this must be a feast with its own take on the Vampire myth.
Now that Mathias is established I hope this will become a series of books that will let us follow our young hero on further adventures.
Very well done



 “Sorrow’s Point” by Danielle DeVor reads like a classic horror novel. Beginning with an ominous and horrifying scene at a house in Sorrow’s Point in 1950 the tone is set for a dark and sinister tale.
In the present now an ‘almost’ priest and a witch are called to help a family that lives in the house now to exorcise a demon that possesses a 6 year girl and put up with the dreams, the noises and lots of other creepy scary stuff going on in there.
Told in separate narratives and with flashes back to 1950 we gradually unravel the secrets of the house.
The horror in this novel is subtle and it is everywhere, there is a continuous sense of impending doom and a sense of foreboding that permeates even the parts that do not deal with the exorcism. 
When a policeman arrives at the house in 1950 his reaction and shock are almost more unsettling than what actually will be shown to the reader. Likewise, when Jimmy, the man who would have been a priest, thinks about his life and whether or not he might be suitable as an exorcist, there is again a sense of anxiety and an acknowledgement of the magnitude of the task ahead. Tabby, the ‘witch’ brings her own brand of darkness to the table.
Nothing is as scary than a little innocent child behaving convincingly like a demon possessed monster and that is exactly what we eventually get. The scenes with her and the spirits were very scary to me.
The team is made up of great characters, each bringing a different angle to the story and with the uncovering of the past there is a mystery aspect to the story, adding to the richness of the reading experience.
This is a must read for fans of exorcism and horror.

03 Nov 2013

Andrew Lennon: A Life To Waste

3 Comments Book Reviews

18460861“A Life to Waste” by Andrew Lennon is an at times very creepy horror story that at several moments during the read had me at the proverbial edge of my seat. I am not usually a fan of the genre and read the book on the recommendation of a friend. 

Luckily I was far from disappointed.

We witness Dave wasting his life away after a car accident that ends his promising running career. Full of lethargy Dave begins a downward spiral of drinking and doing nothing.
Then some dreadful events in his apartment block bring terror to his life and he needs to come out of his self destructive cycle to save his own skin.

Lennon spends a great deal building up Dave and his background which pays of remarkably well when Dave is confronted with the sudden horror, the subtlety of which is brilliant by the way, as is the slow and gradual build up of the horrifying tension that spirals him into panic and paranoia. Dave is doubting his own sanity at times, probably as many of us would when experiencing what Dave goes through. 

However, I found that there is much more to this horror story than meets the eye. Dave is an interesting character in that he once had a perfect life that was taken away from him. We feel for him, despite some of his less likeable traits and actions. I would not classify this story as simple horror – even though it is pretty good at that part, no doubt.
No, I found the psychology of a failed or broken athlete and his late call to become responsible and turn his life around most rewarding as it adds depth to the story. I cannot say more without spoiling the book for you, only that there is a moral lesson in this book I would not have expected. To put the icing of the cake, the writing style, particularly at the beginning of the book, edges on literary realism, a brilliant tool in the portrayal of Dave’s broken life and a credit to the writer.

The book is well paced, gathering speed at the right time and keeping the momentum all the way to the dramatic end. With the ambiguity of Dave’s character the book was almost impossible to predict for this reader and so a compelling and very rewarding read. A lot of thought and work has gone into this short horror novel that I would highly recommend to fans of the genre and to those who won’t mind the horror but are interested in great psychological character development.


First of all a very Happy Birthday Andrew. Thank you for honouring us with your presence on such a special day. Please tell us a little about yourself, as a writer and a person!
I am 28, I live with my wife and children. I work for my dads firm of accountants in Warrington.
I enjoy reading, writing, camping and spending time with my family.
What inspired you to write this story? What was your motivation?
I quit smoking and drinking and found that I had a lot of free time on my hands. I thought I would try and make that time productive so decided to write the book.
The book is very subtle in its horror. What is your favourite scary book?
My favourite scary book is “The Shining” I read this when I was younger and I was on holiday, staying in a hotel. I struggled to sleep after that!
Your book also touches on a few deeper issues, such as confidence, morals and physical ability. Was that accidental or part of the plan?
This was a part of the plan, I have encountered quite a few people in my life who have had drink/drug problems, and some that just don’t appreciate what they have around them. Hopefully when some of them read this book it will plant a little message for them.
How much of the stories was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?
Pretty much the whole story was fixed before I started writing. I planned each chapter out, only about five lines on each, but enough to keep the idea of what I wanted to happen fresh in my head.
How did you have the inspiration for your story and your characters?
The story was planted when I hear people arguing, they argue all the time. I thought, one day they’re going to kill each other and no one will even go to check on them.
The characters are made from a combination of people I have met during my life, me included. I mixed them all together and that was the result.
Do you have a particular message you would like to convey?
Yeah, just try to appreciate the life you have. It may not be perfect, but if you work at it and try hard you can at least make it enjoyable for yourself and the people around you.
Which of your characters was most enjoyable to write?
He only had a very small part, but I think I enjoyed writing about Trevor the most. He reminded me of an old school friend so it brought back a lot of memories.
Who would play them in a film?
I think Kieffer Sutherland would be perfect for Dave.
Perhaps Dave Grohl for Trevor? Don’t know if he would like to act, but he looks the part.
Unsure on who to play the freak? Someone big and scary, maybe Kane from WWE?
Are you like any of the characters in the book?
I used to have a few of Dave’s characteristics, drinking, lazy etc. I like to think I have grown out of that now.
What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?
My life is great, I am happily married. I work for my fathers firm of accountants for a living. Ideally I would like to write full time, but I think that is a long way off yet.
Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?
Love Stephen King, books and movies, The Shining, Stand By Me (favourite film of all time), The Green Mile
I was reading “The Summer I Died” by Ryan C Thomas, when I actually felt inspired to go and write a book myself.
What are your views on ind7257030ependent publishing?
I think it’s brilliant. It gives the everyday writer a chance to get their stories out to the world. It doesn’t matter whether they are majorly successful or not, just that they had hundreds or thousands of people read their work, and hopefully enjoy it.
Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?
I can recommend pretty much any author in the ASMSG group. They are all very talented writers and quite a few have helped me out already.
Also, take a look at Calvin Wade, his novel “Forever Is Over” is one of the best books I’ve read in years. It was through his advice and help that I became self published.
What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?
What seems like never ending burping would probably be one of the oddest.
Best quality, I dunno. I never turn down a chance to help someone. Maybe that?
What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?
Dog, Blue, Barbeque.
What would you take to a remote island?
I suppose I should say my family, but only so they were stuck with me haha
Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?
Al Pacino, Stephen King, Samuel L Jackson, Adam Sandler and Russell Brand. I just think it would be an awesome crowd and a hilarious dinner.
What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?
I am in the middle of writing a book with I think will be called “October Murders”, it’s still a long way off yet. You can check out updates on me through Goodreads or through thewritersroom.co.uk
01 Nov 2013

S.R. Mallery : “Unexpected Gifts”

3 Comments Book Reviews

UG Smallery 6 19 12 jpg

“Unexpected Gifts” by S.R. Mallery is a great novel, comprising of an excellent dive into American history of the 20th century, with a hint of a very palatable family saga, a kind of personal memoir and a psychological journey into self-discovery by the main character Sonia. 
Coming with her own set of problems Sonia is confronted with the ageing of her parents and when she finds diaries of family members in the attic she digs into her family’s colourful and intriguing past. Mallery takes us back to various eras of recent American history, as experienced by Sonia’s family members. With great attention to detail and intensive research the author transports us to the 1960ies, the draft lottery, draft dodgers and the actual fighting in Vietnam while in the US the hippies protest and the Beatles are all the rage. Bringing the personal into the political and showing how our characters are caught up in the spirit of the times this book does an excellent job at portraying the spirit of the times, to the author much more so than many other novels with similar subjects. 
Another great sequence in the book takes us back to Ellis Island in 1913 as the first members of the family are immigrants from Eastern Europe and then settle in Detroit before the Great War.
Told out of chronological sequence and with much reflection by Sonia as she is rooted in the present the book serves as a history lessons for us non-Americans as well as a psychological exploration of a woman who tries to find answers about her family but more so about her own problems, her character and her identity.
Warm, thoughtful and with great insight this is a wonderful book that has a lot to offer. Well written and cleverly structured it shows great literary talent and comes highly recommended.



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

Actually, no.  Oh, of course in school for papers, but I really am a late bloomer when it comes that. Wish I had started it years and years ago, but so be it…. spilled milk and all that.

How did you have the inspiration for this story?  What was more important for you – the OCD issue, the personal development, the history, or the family aspect of your book.

I have always been interested in seeing my family albums––their modern–60’s–50’s–40’s–30’–20’s–1910 outfits and their faces; were they sad, happy, bored?  In addition, having always loved history, particularly about the U.S., I remember wondering how I could present different American time periods in a single book and have it work out logically.  The more I percolated, the more I speculated about the idea of one person reading the scribbling of her relatives and gaining insight from them. That way, I could integrate a modern character with different eras.  In addition, I wanted to have the main character somewhat flawed.  Hence, the OCD.  I really enjoyed researching the OCD part because I have some of that myself; the kind where the mind never shuts off!  So, to answer your question, it all was important to me.

Did you do a lot of research for it?

A ton!! I studied books/articles/documentaries about each time frame, looked at many photos, read about the language from not only those different places, but also separate periods.  For example, I looked up how people in Ireland talked during the early 1900’s, how African Americans talked up in Harlem during the 20’s; how in Bulgaria, they would shake their heads when they meant yes, and visa versa when they meant no; what the foods were like for each period and country, the clothes, the politics, you name it.  It took quite a while—the downside of being an historical fiction writer, I suppose.  On the other hand, the journey is wonderful and you sure do learn a lot!!

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

The story was pretty much fixed, but in a very general way.  The first draft I sent my publisher was 650 pages in paperback format.  Yikes!  We both agreed that cutting out every single extraneous historical tidbit wasn’t going to hurt the characters or the plot, so half a book later, I realized it had become much more flowing.

Tell us a little about your writing and editing process.

I’m an ex-quilt designer, so I’m always thinking in little patch-worked pieces.  I start with a big expandable file and little scraps of paper—upon which I keep putting thoughts, ideas, motivations, descriptions, plots, book passages I’ve underlined, anything I can think of.  Then I make up envelopes marked with various characters’ names, ambiance/description, language, plot, etc.  From there comes a very generalized outline and as I start to look at all my paper snatches, I fill in the outline with more detail.

As for editing, I do a lot of my writing online, but sometimes I do write just on paper, type it, then edit it, and sometimes I do editing online.  I’m pretty flexible that way.

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

I have been known to write entire scenes at a Carl’s Junior, but in general, I do write at home and do not want to have a lot of noise around me.  Music, however, is my great muse away from the writing.  It gives me all kinds of ideas about motivation, scenes, characters, plots, etc.  I listen while I drive or at home and it always works like a charm. For Unexpected Gifts I downloaded music from the various periods, and an Irish music CD for that chapter.

 Which of your characters was the most fun to write?

Daria.  I definitely don’t have a drop of Irish in me, but I do love Irish music and the sing-song rhythms of their language, so whenever I would reread what I had written about that Irish lass, no matter how small the passage, or simply a single sentence, I would use an Irish accent.  It really transported me.

Who would play her in a film?

Goodness, I don’t know….an unknown maybe?  Some lovely actress who could make her proud…

Are you like any of the characters?

Probably Sonia, because of some of her OCD tendencies and her growing love of finding out about her ancestors.

What is your life like?

At the moment, it’s fairly peaceful.  Of course these days that could change on a dime!  I live with my husband, daughter, and a couple of cats, in an unassuming, cottage-like house.  I teach part time to ESL adults whom I love and respect, and intermixed with that is writing, editing, research, promotional networking, family, friends, movies/series on DVD, light gardening, and laughter as much as I can muster. Good for the soul, what, what?

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

Authors: Harper Lee, O.Henry, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, Dodie Smith, Victoria Holt, Mary Renault, and Betty Smith, William Styron and more.

Films: To Kill a Mockingbird, Friendly Persuasion, L. A. Confidential, Poltergeist, Love Actually, Bridge On the River Kwai, The Miracle Worker, Tootsie, etc., etc.     I guess I’m eclectic…..

Albums:  Stevie Wonder, Judy Collins, Mozart, Faure, Debussy, The Beatles, The Gaitlin Brothers, Irish music, movie themes, etc., etc….

What are your views on independent publishing?

At first I figured being published traditionally was really the only way to go. I’m changing my tune rapidly as the entire industry is changing and I see my friends getting more money and having more control.

However, I do admit that my publisher, Mockingbird Lane Press, has been very patient and kind to me and I have learned so much. Frankly, I really couldn’t have done it on my own as a new author.

Can you recommend any indie books/authors?

Lasher Lane’s Deadlight; Simon Okill’s  Nobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe; Tony Riches’ The Shell;

and last, but certainly not least, YOUR book, Christoph, The Luck of the Weissensteiners!! (NO KISS UP HERE, simply the truth!)

Aw, thank you. What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Interesting question….my oddest quality, which I totally attribute to my OCD, is I can’t let go of things easily.  For my kids, it has meant me reminding them over and over again to do something (they’ve learned to make a joke out of it), and if I get hurt by someone, it takes a while to clear my system.

My best quality, I have been told by family, friends, and students, is that I really care about them, and will always listen to them and help them if I can.

What are your favourite animal/color/outdoor activity?

Cat/periwinkle blue/used to be tennis (can’t because of knee issues), gardening

 What would you take to a remote island?

My husband (even though your question wasn’t with who).  He is so smart, he could figure out a way to provide me with food, shelter, and caring.

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

My website, www.srmallery.com, has synopses of both Unexpected Gifts and the upcoming Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads.  I am doing last minute edits on the latter. As for my next project, I am in the very beginning stages of it––research, formulating, etc, so I don’t really want to talk about it quite yet.  However, it will involve a missing persons case during the American Civil War. 

Here are some links:

Website:  www.srmallery.com

Facebook: S. R. Mallery (Sarah Mallery) http://on.fb.me/13fFI4T

Amazon page: http://amzn.to/13ar2pa

Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/18cSWUG

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/13NBxA2

Twitter: SarahMallery1


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