Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cover Reveal: Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns

I'm happy to welcome back Ellen Mansoor Collier to reveal the cover art for the third book in her Jazz Age Mystery series. Read my interview with Ellen and an excerpt from Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets (book #2) here, and find an excerpt from Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play (book #1) here. Want a chance to win a copy of Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets? Enter Ellen's Goodreads giveaway here. But hurry...the giveaway ends April 1. And now, the wait is over! I'm excited to show you the cover art for book #3 of Ellen's cozy mystery series, Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns.

Gold-diggers, Gamblers and Guns,
A Jazz Age Mystery #3

Ta da...

Artist: George Barbier (French Deco Artist)

About the book:

Gold-diggers, Gamblers and Guns A Jazz Age Mystery #3

After Downtown Gang leader Johnny Jack Nounes is released from jail, all hell breaks loose: Prohibition Agent James Burton’s life is threatened and he must go into hiding for his own safety. But when he’s framed for murder, he and Jazz must work together to prove his innocence. Johnny Jack blames Jasmine’s half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis speakeasy, for his arrest and forces him to work overtime in a variety of dangerous mob jobs as punishment. A second murder heats up the turf battle between real-life rival gangs, the Downtown and Beach gangs. Meanwhile, Jazz tries to keep both Burton and her brother safe, and alive, while they face off against a common enemy.

Other books in the Jazz Age Mystery series:

Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play, A Jazz Age Mystery, #1

Boardwalk Empire meets The Great Gatsby in this soft-boiled Jazz Age Mystery, inspired by actual events. Prohibition is in full swing in 1920s Galveston, Texas: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jasmine Cross, a young society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette. 

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis--a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or murder?

Soon new Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz, but she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life rival gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. To find the killer, Jazz must risk her life and career, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society.

Buy Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play

Bathing Beauties, Booze & Bullets, A Jazz Age Mystery #2

It’s 1927 in Galveston, Texas—the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross is an ambitious 21-year-old society reporter for the Galveston Gazette who tries to be taken seriously by the good-old-boy staff, but the editors only assign her fluffy puff pieces, like writing profiles of bathing beauties. The last thing Jazz wants to do is compare make-up tips with ditzy dames competing in the Miss Universe contest, known as the “International Pageant of Pulchritude and Bathing Girl Revue.”

She’d rather help solve the murders of young prostitutes who turn up all over town, but city officials insist on burying the stories during Splash Day festivities. After Jazz gets to know the bathing beauties, she realizes there’s a lot more to them than just pretty faces and figures. Jazz becomes suspicious when she finds out the contest is also sponsored by the Maceos, aspiring Beach Gang leaders and co-owners of the Hollywood Dinner Club, where the girls will perform before the parade and pageant.

Worse, her half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis, a speakeasy on a rival gang’s turf, asks her to call in a favor from handsome Prohibition Agent James Burton—-an impossible request that could compromise both of their jobs and budding romance. While Agent Burton gives her the cold shoulder, she fends off advances from Colin Ferris, an attractive but dangerous gangster who threatens Sammy as well as Burton. In the end, she must risk it all to save her friends from a violent killer hell-bent on revenge. Inspired by actual events.

Buy Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets

About the author:

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: Family Circle, Modern Bride, Glamour, Biography, Cosmo, Playgirl, etc. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman's World.
 A flapper at heart, she's the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items.

Formerly, she's worked as a magazine editor, and in advertising/marketing and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets is the sequel to Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play, her first novel.

"When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past, and I became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s."

Connect with Ellen:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Giveaway* | Amazon

*Giveaway ends April 1. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Featured: Music Audio Stories

Music Audio Stories publishes original music-based children's audio stories created by Anna-Christina and Adie Hardy. Their stories involve original classical music, actors and musicians, and sound effects. They're based on animals and their adventures. Steven Brandt of Audiobook-Heaven says, "March of the Ants is not quite like any other audio production I have listened to." And Alice Berger of Bergers Book Reviews says, "March of the Ants is a fun story that kids will love to hear over and over again." Today I'm talking with Anna-Christina about their stories and Busy Bees Publishing.

Interview with Anna-Christina

Anna-Christina, please tell us about Busy Bees Publishing and Music Audio Stories.

Busy Bees Publishing was set up in 2012 by Anna-Christina and Adie Hardy, and we recruited a few friends to help us create the world of Music Audio Stories. They include Lee Tonkins, our creative web designer and Nick Hudson, our graphic designer who has designed all of our wonderfully colourful story covers. Whilst working on our first audio story March of The Ants, we searched online for other audio stories similar to ours, yet could find nobody combining original classical music with original children's stories and sound effects. So we decided to invent our own genre and call our creations "Music Audio Stories."

What kinds of stories do you publish?

We publish ground breaking, original, new music audio stories. These stories are a great way to allow children to use their own imagination, acting out the stories, drawing how they imagine the characters to be, singing, dancing and joining in, stimulating their creative senses. One of the things that makes our audio stories special from others you may have heard, is the strong themed original classical music behind the narration. Unlike other audio books, the music continues throughout and is an essential part of the stories. We combine cartoon style voices with sound effects to create a lot of movement in the sound. Not only are these audio books fantastic fun, they are great for giving you a short break in your busy schedule. They help long car journeys fly by and aid bonding with your child through acting out the stories together.

For what age range are your stories intended?

They can be enjoyed by children aged 3 to 7. They can also be a useful learning tool and great enjoyment for children with impaired vision, vision disabilities and the blind.

What actors have you brought on board? How do you pair them to a particular story?

We have worked with actors and musicians including the Olivier nominated actor Paul Kaye -The original Mr. Wormwood in the award winning West End hit musical Matilda, as well as appearing in many TV and film roles such as Franky Wilde in the award-winning It's All Gone Pete Tong  and is currently in the new series of Game of Thrones, and Susie Lewis, Harriet in the Play Colder Than Here. We have also been very lucky to have been able to work with some great singers from bands: David Ryder Prangley, (Rachel Stamp), Kiria LePink (Viva Le Pink) and Rob Stitch (Buffalo Fish) as well as two fantastic drummers, Belle Star - drummer/percussionist for a large number of bands and artistes and Tom Meadows - who can be found touring the world drumming for some of today's biggest artists such as Kylie Minogue. We usually have an idea as we’re creating the stories for the kind of voice we need for each character, and it’s a great help that many of the artists we have worked with can do several different voices. We do many of the voices ourselves too!

Anna-Christina, where do you get your ideas for stories?

I’ve always had a very creative mind and the stories and music just seem to flow out of me very naturally. I like the idea of unlikely heroes and characters overcoming obstacles. I also like to instill positive messages in each story and a few educational elements.

Tell us more about Busy Bees TV.

It’s an idea we came up with to show behind the scenes video footage of the artists and actors recording their voice-overs. As far as we know, no other audio book makers have done this so it’s a very unique part of our world and much fun to watch. We also have an introduction to Music Audio Stories video. All our videos can be seen on our website and YouTube Channel.

Can you tell us the process for creating a Music Audio Story?

In the beginning, the music for the first two stories we made were already written and then made to fit around the story, but now I write the stories first and then write the music around the story which makes more sense. Adie has written music sections in the last two stories crossing music genres, which is fun. We record a scratch track and then do the narration, character’s voices, and sound effects. We then mix, which can take some time as there’s so much involved, and Adie masters the stories.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know?

We have a free download of our first story, March of The Ants available from our website for everyone to enjoy, and all of our other stories are available on Amazon and iTunes for an affordable price.


Stories Available:
•    March of The Ants FREE download 
•    Chris the Caterpillar  Amazon | 
•    Johnny No Cash  Amazon | 
•    Jimi & his friend Joe  Amazon | 
•    The Big Apple  Amazon | 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Featured Author: David Marlett

I am...ahem...fortunate to be a part of The Story Plant's virtual book tour for Fortunate Son, by David Marlett. A novel about the greatest trial in Irish history, David carefully researched this incredible story. Today he talks about his first book, his writing, and a little bit about himself.

About the book:

Combining elements of a historical odyssey, a courtroom drama, and an epic adventure, Fortunate Son is based on the true story of the greatest trial in British history.

-A tale that spans Ireland, England, Scotland, and the American Colonies in the early 1700s
-The story which loosely inspired Robert Louis Stevenson in writing his novel, Kidnapped
-A narrative that involves the iconic Kennedy family, generations before they emigrated from Ireland

Meet James Annesley, son of 18th Century Ireland. Though you may have never heard his name before, his story has already touched you in profound ways. Now, for the first time, novelist David Marlett brings that incredible story to life.

Stretching from the dirty streets of Ireland to the endless possibilities of Colonial America, from drama on the high seas with the Royal Navy to a life-and-death race across England and up the Scottish Highlands, from the prospect of a hangman’s noose to a fate decided in the halls of justice, Fortunate Son is a powerful, relentless epic. Here nobility, duels, love, courage, revenge, honor, and treachery among family, friends and ancient enemies abound. And at its center is the most momentous trial in Irish history – the trial of Annesley v. Anglesea from which our modern “attorney/client privilege” was forged, and our concept of a “jury of one's peers” was put to the test.

Carefully researched, vividly evoked, and lovingly brought to the page, Fortunate Son is an unforgettable work of fiction based on fact, one that will resonate deep within you long after you finish it.

Interview with David Marlett

David, Fortunate Son is your first published novel. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I've been writing stories since I first started writing. Some of my first were when I was 5 or 6. I wrote my own adventures for Stewart Little, after having falling in love with the original book. I filled a journal with further adventures for the mouse. 

What’s the story behind the title Fortunate Son?

It seemed to fit the narrative arc and the outcome of the story. I toyed with a number of other titles through the years that this manuscript gestated, but always found myself back to Fortunate Son.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes. I am an attorney consulting in crowdfunding, and I am a Research Fellow in an Arts & Sciences lab at the University of Texas (Dallas) where I am also earning a PhD in Story Design.

Fortunate Son is based on a true story. How did you create the plot for it?

I have created a new niche: historical trial fiction, focusing on the characters and events leading up to and surrounding historical trials that were major at the time, but have faded from our cultural memory. Fortunate Son revolves around the largest trial in Irish history, Annesley v. Anglesea (1743), and the extraordinary story leading up to it. Thus, that trial, the trial transcript, and all the research I do surrounding it... those all greatly inform the plot.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

"Are ye noble yet?" she pressed on. In Chapter 33, the main character, James Annesley, is confronted by an elderly blind woman who presses him on the point. The question goes to the heart of the novel, one in which the true nature of 'nobility' is examined, and not in the objective ethnographic way, but in the subjective sense as to James himself, as a solitary man. A joy for me occurred in the early reviews of Fortunate Son when one reader titled her review, "Are Ye Noble Yet?" It was highly satisfying that that one short sentence, buried deep in the book, was noted by that reader (and hopefully others) as the pivotal question of the novel, and perhaps the pivotal question put to all of us.

Are you an evangelist for any book in particular?

Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It impacted me heavily as a teenager and then throughout my adult life. It is required reading for my children. That simple, yet infinitely complex story is masterfully told. It not only serves as a basis for spiritual examination, but for story design itself.

How do you get to know your characters?

Research, research, imagination, research, observation of others, research, imagination, and the more research!

But what about research? Kidding. Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Daniel Mackercher. He is such a powerful character. Imagining how he might behave was a delight. Of course the main character was enjoyable too, but Mackercher had a particular pleasure to his construction.

What would your main character say about you?

That I have deep admiration for the journey of discovery into ourselves. Not only does he seek the true answer to the question, "Who am I?," but he is put to the moral dilemma of how to respond once the answer comes.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

The personality of Fynn Kennedy was not known, so I created much of him in my father's image, with such iconic characteristics as: protective, strong, warm, self-sacrificial.

Are you like any of your characters?

I see myself in most all of the main characters of Fortunate Son, for better or worse.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

I would be the main one, James Annesley. His journey was extraordinary.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

My father, mother, and my four children (ok, that's six).

That's okay, I'll allow it. How could you cut any from that list? Tell us about your favorite scene in Fortunate Son.

This is very difficult. There are so many true scenes that are amazing, one after another. All fun to write, some made me laugh aloud while writing them, some made me have to stop and literally weep. But perhaps my favorite one is the major trial the book builds toward. I say that only because it is from a small excerpt from that trial transcript that I discovered the entire story. So when I came to the point of writing it, it was a peerless pleasure.

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Anthony Hopkins or Liam Neeson.

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

I am reading a number of books simultaneously, some for my PhD studies, and some for research for my next novel American Red. I read everything in print. I eschew e-books.

I don’t claim to be an expert on writing, but there are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene). What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

Obvious use of strained dialogue to inform the reader of something. I am reminded of a scene in Ken Follett's book, A Place Called Freedom, where two main characters who have already been established to be TWINS are talking and one says to the other, "Next week is my birthday." Uhmmmm... yeah, I think your twin brother knows that.

Do you have a routine for writing?

As often as I can, for as long as I can.

Ditto! Where and when do you prefer to write?

At home, with just my cat there (no kids), and with no interruptions for hours. Now, that is my preferred writing environment, that doesn't mean it happens often!

Where’s home for you?

Rockwall, Texas (a suburb of Dallas, on a very large lake).

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

The Complete Works of Shakespeare, in one volume.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

Bookstore. I couldn't be as quiet as a library requires.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
Hang out with my kids.

If you could be a fictional character for one day, who would you be?

Captain Jack Aubrey.

What’s your favorite candy bar? And don’t tell me you don’t have one!

Almond Joy.
Excellent choice. Let's pretend you get to live anywhere in the world. Where would it be?

Mountains of Colorado.

What are you working on now?

My next historical trial novel, American Red.

Good luck with it, David. Please come back and tell us more about it when it's released.

About the author:

David Marlett is an attorney, artist, and self-trained historian who grew up in a storytelling Texas family. He attended Texas Tech University where he earned multiple degrees in finance, economics and accounting. Subsequently, he earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.

David has created and written stories and screenplays since childhood, and is particularly interested in richly textured history and the drama behind major courtroom battles, such as in his first novel, Fortunate Son. His second novel, American Red, another historical courtroom drama, is due to be published in late 2014.

He is a serial entrepreneur focused primarily on the arts. (He once owned eight bookstores across the United States.) David currently speaks and lectures at conferences and universities on transmedia, storytelling, entrepreneurship in the arts, and crowdfunding. He has been a featured contributor to MovieMaker magazine, Digital Book World, and many other publications.

He has developed and sold a number of film scripts and has directed/ acted in many regional theatrical performances. David is also a photo artist whose work has appeared in several galleries across the United States, and can be also seen at He lives outside Dallas, Texas and has four children.

Connect with David:
Website | Like David on Facebook | Friend David on Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | David's PhotoArt

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Preorder American Red on Amazon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Featured Author: A.E. Kirk

A.E. Kirk, author of the romance/sci-fi novel, Loving In Time

, published by Vanguard Press, is on tour with Pump Up Your Book Tours. Today, Abi talks a little bit about her book, herself, and writing, and she treats us to an excerpt from the book.


About the book:

High-school student Helen Xenakis becomes instantly swept up into a love heptagon, where seven strikingly handsome boys have sworn to protect her from a group of soldiers, who have come from the past to kill her. Yet the boys hold an ancient information that will unlock Helen's past, for she is Helen of Troy, the Princess of Sparta. When given a life altering decision, Helen leaves her modern present and goes back into the past and tries to stop a vicious cycle involving the boys, herself and someone who is very close to her. But when the time comes to break that cycle, will Helen come to terms with what must be done? 

Interview with Abi Kirk:

Abi, do you have another job outside of writing?

I currently have one, I'm a Care and Support Assistant, but I'm aiming for 3 jobs this year. Sadly, the UK doesn't pay in money, it pays in tax.

How do you get to know your characters?

The only way I know how, I act them out, out loud. As weird as that sounds, I think of an incident in my head, and while driving and making myself look like some loon that's escaped from bedlam, I talk out loud how they'd react in that situation and the more I do this, the more I understand how they would speak to other characters. I'm not sure if other writers do this, but this is how I get to know my characters.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I enjoyed writing Marcus. He's so sarcastic and bossy and doesn't take crap. And although has a soft spot for Helen, as all the boys do, he's the only one who hates to love her.

Is Loving In Time based on real events?

Oh another tricky question, yes and no. Yes in the sense that archaeologists believe that the War of Troy existed, and no because the way that Homer incorporated's mythology into his events isn't true, sadly.

Are you like any of your characters?

I'm very much like Dom. I tell the truth, I'm annoyingly honest. 

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

I think the dodgeball scene. I have a very strange sense of humour and had to stop and leave the laptop because I was laughing so hard when I was writing it. If truth be told, if I had the power to stop time, I would have done exactly the same thing. That's the only bit where my personality springs into Helen- and also it would be Sod's Law that the ball smacks into her face as that would definitely happen to me. 

What song would you pick to go with your book?

"The Moment I Said It" by Imogen Heap.

Who are your favorite authors?

What a question! Gosh um, JK Rowling, Andy McDermott, Brandon Sanderson, Steig Larsson, L.M Alcott, John Connelly, P.V Brett, Pittacus Lore. Steven Gould, Jean Auel, to name a few.

That's quite a list. 

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Ooh, a tricky question. There are so many people with sexy voices. I think it would have to be... Johnny Depp.

I don’t claim to be an expert on writing, but there are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene). What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

I hate it when people write "Okay" in an historical novel. The word didn't exist until 1940's so, why would people be saying it during the Tudor times?

Good point. Let's say you’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?

Strangely, I left the UK in 2012 and was South Korea bound for a year, and the last meal I had at home was a large family roast. Capon (which is an extra large chicken), sage and onion stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and roast potatoes, roasted parsnips, pork stuffing, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts with white sauce. Heaven!

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

I've worked in a bookstore, in Waterstones in Newton Abbot, and I loved it there. When new books came out it was lovely seeing people's faces light up in awe that they've got hold of something they've been waiting for, for months, even years. I was working there during the time The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini came out, and some girls were screaming when they got hold of the book. That type of fandom and love of books, really comes from a bookstore.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?

The library at Lampeter University in Wales. It was my favourite place to escape to. Be engrossed in arhcaeology books and ignore everyone around me. It was bliss.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Go to a new forest or a lake up country and just go for a walk, on my own.

What would your dream office look like?

It would have three white walls and one that would be a pastel orange with Egyptian hieroglyphs, Celtic designs and Nordic runes decorating it. The other walls would have pictures of landscapes from around the world, and on the desk I'd have my laptop, a calendar of Harry Potter, a multi-coloured beanbag in the corner, a comfy swivel chair, a huge funky-looking bookshelf with all my favourite fiction books, up-to date thesaurus and dictionary, and a research cabinet full of mythology, witchcraft and pirate books. And I'd also have a heater because England is always cold.

What’s your favorite candy bar? And don’t tell me you don’t have one!

Damn, I have too many. I'm a Cadbury fan, always have been. I think I actually eat my weight in chocolate several times over a month- no joke. Currently I'm obsessed with Mikado, they are also called Poki, or Peppero- chocolate covered biscuit sticks. I don't usually have bars of chocolate, I have slabs of it.

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Andy McDermott's new book, The Valhalla Prophecy, Brandon Sanderon's Mistborn series, and Stieg Larsson's The Millennium Trilogy. All amazing, can't-put-down books from start to finish.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I'm not writing, sadly I'm working. There's no rest for the wicked. I read a few hours before I go to sleep and play.

What are you working on now?

Currently I am working on a horror story called The Cursed Hill at the moment in time. I got the inspiration from watching Ghost Adventures, which I absolutely adore. The story is based lightly on the Pendle Witch Trials, which are similar to the Salem Witch Trials. I'm taking it very slowly, but I hope to go on a writer's retreat in June to see if I can punch through several more chapters.

Good luck! And thanks for being here today!

Excerpt from Loving In Time

Deciding that fourth and fifth period would be just as boring as the rest of the day, I called it quits and thought it was a good idea to go home. I had a damn good excuse for not going to the annoying classes of gym and crappy French. First off, gym was crap. If I had to hear that pathetic threat of ‘If you don’t pass this class I’ll keep you back a year,’ from Mr. Ash who is the nastiest man I had ever known, I would up and leave then and there. Secondly watching the guys playing up in French because they were head over heels in love with Madame Celion who seemed to adore the attention was enough to make you vomit. How the hell I was passing these crappy classes was a mystery. Plus what I found stupid was that they weren’t going to help me in my career, so I didn’t see the point in them.

As I got out of the front entrance and back into the sunshine, I came across a few rather attractive guys that I hadn’t met before. They were huddled together by the bush at the bottom of the steps that smells like wet dog. I walked past them only to be stopped by one who smoothly stepped out in front of me. For a few seconds the guy took my breath away. With messy brown hair and piercing brown eyes to match. a strange little girl screamed inside my head, ‘HE’S THE PERFECT GUY TO MARRY!’ Trying to inwardly beat her with a stick to shut her up, I regained my composure and acted aloof.

‘What?’ I asked, not in the mood for pleasantries.

‘Oh ho! And here I thought all you girls were nice,’ he said with a strange accent. It was American but there was a slight twinge of Greek in there.

‘Wrong girl,’ I said with a smarmy smile and ducked past him, but with a running-jog he caught up with me, blocking my path again. Sighing, I stood there waiting for him to say something.

Smiling like a freak he copied me by sighing heavily and remained mute.

‘Marcus, you going to tell her or what?’ called one of the other boys from behind me.

‘No, I don’t think I will,’ he smiled then moved aside. ‘But I will be speaking to you again, Wrong Girl,’ he named me and then with a cheeky wink of his right eye, walked past me and headed back to his friends.

For what seemed like an age, I stood there trying to understand what the hell had just happened. A cute guy stops me to tell me something, then gives me a weird name and walks off. ‘Ignore it and go home,’ I finally ordered myself. Somehow my feet listened and began to move; my head on the other hand was full of freaked out fuzzy crap. ‘Marcus was cute though,’ I told myself as I walked down the driveway, barely noticing that my parents cars weren’t there. ‘Weird but very cute,’ I smiled.

Discuss this book in the PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads by clicking here

About the author:

Abi Kirk is a writer of sorts. Mostly she writes about fantasy or science-fiction for young adults and or horror for adults. After teaching and traveling most of Asia in 2012 and early 2013, Abi now lives in Devon, UK and is constantly inspired by the views of the sloping, idyllic landscapes around her.

She got her inspiration to write this book while competing for a Writers Competition on Wattpad in 2011, and after coming in joint-second, Abi was guided by her fans and readers to seek out publishers.

Her first published book, Loving In Time, can be found on and Pegasus Publishers website for those who live outside of the UK.

Connect with Abi:
Blog | Facebook | 
Twitter | Goodreads |   

Buy the book:
Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | 

Blackwell's | Pegasus Publishers (US buyers)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tess Talks To: Lee Carruthers

Marilynn Larew was here in February to talk about The Spider Catchers, the first book in her Lee Caruthers thriller series, published by Artemis Hunter Press. Today, my main character, Tess, sits down with Marilynn's mc, Lee Carruthers. Let the girl talk begin...

About the book:

What do the violent takeover of Fez brothels and a new stream of terrorist funding have to do with the disappearance of Alicia Harmon from the Fez office of Femme Aid Maroc? When CIA analyst Lee Carruthers tries to find out, she is swept into a tangled web of dirty money and human trafficking, and people will kill to find out what Alicia knew. If only Lee knew. She’s working blind, and in this case, ignorance is death. Her search takes her through the slums of the Fez medina to the high-rises of the new city and finally to a terrorist camp in the Algerian desert.

About the character:

Lee Carruthers was born in the small town in Maine where her mother’s family originated. She's the third generation in the spy business. Her father was in Hong Kong in the last days of the Vietnamese war selling counterfeit piasters on the black market to finance CIA operations. Her grandmother ran a safe house and escape route in Paris for OSS during World War II. She has Bachelors and Masters degrees from Yale in Islamic civilization and went to work as an analyst for the Agency directly out of graduate school. She's currently based in Paris, where she chases the profits of gun runners, drug smugglers, slavers, and terrorists by computer, seizing their money and putting them out of business. Sometimes her boss, Sidney Worthington, sends her out to do things analysts don’t usually do, which gets her into trouble analysts don’t usually get into.

Tess Talks to Lee Carruthers

Lee, how did you first meet Marilynn?

I was sitting at my computer in Paris, hacking into a private Geneva bank in search of a couple of million dollars belonging to a big-time Merchant of Death, when Paul, who runs the café-bar-tabac on the ground floor of my building brought her up and introduced her. He said she was looking for a heroine for a spy book. She didn’t look like much – tall and skinny with muddy brown hair and thick glasses. I didn’t know what writers look like, but she looked like one. She said she was looking for a girl who knew her way around computers and could handle a Glock. It sounded like more fun than sitting around the office, so I told her I give it a try.

Want to dish about her?

She turned out not to know her way around a computer, and she couldn’t handle a Glock either, so she needed a lot of advice, but she learned fast, although I’m not sure I’d let her behind me with a loaded gun even now. Her plots tell me she hasn’t had much adventure in her life; in fact, I think she’s had a pretty boring time of it. I guess writers don’t do much but sit at their computers thinking of outrageous things for people like me to do.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

No, I didn’t, and to tell you the truth, I’d rather be in a romance. In her thrillers I get too much exercise of the wrong kind. Would it be too much to ask for her to put me in a romantic thriller where I get the guy – the hunky one I thought was the villain until the last chapter – and ride off with him into the sunset? She says in a series I can’t keep getting the guy, because I’d have to kill him at the end of every book, and that would make me look like the Black Widow spider we have on the cover of Spider, but couldn’t I have a partner. . .?

Did you have a hard time convincing Marilynn to write any particular scenes for you?

Actually, I have trouble holding her back. She likes to write things for me to do that are not humanly possible. I mean, readers will put up with stuff that’s a little bit over the top, but I have my reputation at the Agency to think of. The guys I trained with know what I can do.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

I like to ski in a little resort in Switzerland where only a few of the guests are Beautiful People. After sitting at a computer for weeks on end or trying to satisfy the wildest dreams of my author, I find streaking down the run with the wind in my face the best feeling in the world.

Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?

I’d really like to have a little shack in the Caymans, a private beach where I can wear something or nothing, a banana tree, an avocado tree, and space to raise some tomatoes, beans, and salad. I could live off fish and crabs I caught, with the occasional bought chicken for a change. I’d buy the chicken and my gin by doing Arabic translations, and I wouldn’t have to think about guns or drugs or slaves or terrorists for the rest of my life.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

I love to walk around Paris, looking in shops, having a drink at a café, just doing nothing the way Europeans do so well. Americans always have to be doing something. If they’re not working, they’re not playing either; they’re exercising. Hard. The Puritans have a lot to answer for. Rooted in the American soul is the feeling that just having fun is sinful.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

I’m quiet and a bit of a loner. I guess my job is responsible for that or I like my job because it lets me be quiet and a bit of loner. When they first meet me, people almost always think I’m shy or standoffish.

How about after they've known you for a while?

After they know me better, they know I have a mordant sense of humor and am always ready to party. In small groups. I hate crowds.

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life?

Going to my father’s funeral and discovering he was a bigamist was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I guess I should explain that. My father worked for the CIA, and he wasn’t home much. I always thought he was out there spying for his country. I adored him and brought myself up in his image. I went to work for the Agency just as he had. One day when I was still at Langley, I came across the notice of his death in the Washington Post. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t been notified. Everybody at the Agency knew I was his daughter. I went to the funeral home to see what was going on, and down by the casket, I saw a pretty, plump woman taking condolences from people who knew I was his daughter.
Beside her was a dainty blonde girl with a heart-shaped face and delicate features about my age. Probably exactly my age. So I learned that my father wasn’t home often because he had another family. And he wasn’t a spy after all. He was just a desk man.

What did you learn from that?

Probably the wrong lessons. I learned that loving somebody will break your heart. And I learned not to trust men. This has not been useful in my relationships with members of the opposite sex. I also don’t much like blondes.

Understandable. Tell us about your best friend.

Somehow I missed out on having friends. I have acquaintances but no close friends. I didn’t belong to any of the little cliques the girls moved around in in school. Maybe I am shy. More likely, it’s because I had to go home from school and take care of Mother. My mother was a drunk, and I could never tell what condition she would be in when I got home. I didn’t even have a date until I was in college. How could I ask a guy to pick me up at home when he might see my mother passed out on the couch? I didn’t get inoculated against love in high school the way most girls do. I don’t think I even know what love is.

What are you most afraid of?

Confined spaces. I can’t even sit in the middle seat in an airliner. I have to have space around me. I have to walk free.

What’s the best trait your author has given you? What’s the worst?

Curiosity is the best trait she’s given me. It’s also the worst. It tends to get me into serious trouble, but I have to know the answer to a question, no matter what the risk.

What’s Marilynn’s worst habit?

She talks too much. She used to be a college professor and is primed to lecture for fifty minutes. Doing research is a second flaw. She used to be a historian, and she has to know everything about everything; the tiniest little detail has to be just right. Until I talked her out of it, she was determined that even the flight schedules in Morocco had to be accurate. She couldn’t work them into the plot that way, but they had to be accurate. She was using a real terrorist group, and, when she first started out, it was a small rag-tag bunch of men on the run from the Algerian Army. By the time she got around to the last draft, it had grown rich and powerful and was certainly not the kind of group one woman, however brave and determined, could deal with. It took a lot of talk to convince her that she was writing fiction and needed to make up a terrorist group that I could deal with.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

If it’s not a spoiler, I’ll tell you that I left the Agency at the end of The Spider Catchers. My life is up in the air right now. I’m trying to decide if there’s life after the CIA. I know a guy in Boston who has a small IT company. He wants me to join him, but I’m tired of computers. I want somehow to have a life – a life I can depend on to be the same tomorrow as it is today. Right now she’s got me in Dubai in the middle of a turf war between contending gangs of arms dealers. Somehow I’ve got to convince her that I’m tired of dodging bullets.

What aspect of your Marilynn’s writing style do you like best?

She’s got a kind of smart-alecky, world-weary style that suits my personality. In the last performance evaluation I had before I left the Agency, the examiner wrote that I was impertinent, insubordinate, and impossible. I’m afraid she’s got me down pat.

You sound like my kind of woman! If your story were a movie, who would play you?

I’ve been out of the country for so long that I don’t know much about current American film stars. A friend suggested Scarlett Johansson, but I think that Daniela Ruah, who plays Kensi on NCISLA, comes closest. She’s a little young, maybe, but she can play older.

Describe an average day in your life.

There’s no describing an average day in the field, so I’ll tell you what life has been like in Paris. I get up in the morning, and Paul from downstairs brings me café au lait, bread, butter, and the morning’s L’Humanite, whose content is awful and whose credibility is worse. It’s fitting that it’s published by the French Communist Party. I find it at least as credible as Le Monde, and it somehow fits my mood. Then I go upstairs to the office in my bunny slippers to check the day’s email. If there’s nothing there that requires immediate attention, I turn to my Bad Boys and start hacking their money. Slipping into a Geneva bank’s files gives me the same kind of thrill that breaking into a flat to search it does. It’s always new – following the twisty trail of illegal money, and I get a similar thrill from confiscating the money or making it disappear into the stratosphere. I don’t have a very law-abiding mentality, do I? Sometimes when the trail is hot, the work goes on into the night. Sometimes when I can’t find anything, I stop beating my head against the wall and go across the river to look at the Egyptian collection at the Louvre. Sometimes I have a date in the evening, but more often not. How many times can you break a date because you have to “go out of town on business” before a guy gets tired and looks elsewhere? Sometimes I go downstairs to Paul’s and have a bifteck-frites and go upstairs and see what’s on my Kindle. It’s usually to bed early, sober, and alone.

Will you encourage Marilynn to write a sequel?

It would be hard to stop her. Right now she’s got me in Dubai trying to find out why George Branson is dead. So far, I’ve broken into a safe and discovered a baggie full of diamonds, used a forged Power of Attorney to get into a safety deposit box, and found another baggie of diamonds, raced from Istanbul to Varna, Bulgaria, in search of an arms dealer, and back to Dubai, where, at the moment, she has me in a midnight knife fight down on the dhow docks. Sometimes I wish she’d slow down. I’d give a lot for a good night’s sleep.

I don't blame you! Good luck with that! Why is it that authors always seem to enjoy getting us into trouble? Thanks for being here, Lee!

About the author:

Marilynn Larew was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and after a living in a number of places, including the Philippines and Japan, she finally settled in southern Pennsylvania, where she and her husband live in an 150 year old farmhouse. She has taught courses about the Vietnamese War and terrorism at the University of Maryland and traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. She likes to write about places she has been or places she would like to go. She has published non-fiction about local history, Vietnamese history, and terrorism. This is her first novel.

Connect with Marilynn:                                        Buy the book:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads           Amazon


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Featured Author: Jack Getze

I'm happy to be a stop on Jack Getze's blog tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to promote his second Austin Carr mystery, Big Money, published by Down & Out Books. And there's a giveaway you don't want to miss--a $100 Amazon gift card. Yes. I said a one hundred dollar giveaway.

About the book:

In this jaunty follow-up to Big Numbers, a scruffy stockbroker returns to tangle with
mobsters, women and his own big mouth. The good news, as the story opens, is that the hero is in the company of a gorgeous naked lady. The bad news is that she’s pointing a shotgun at him. It’s a typical predicament for Austin Carr, a semi-shady New Jersey financial professional temporarily in charge of Shore Securities…He’s being extorted into opening a money-laundering account for local crime boss Bluefish; an auditor who was investigating his company has turned up murdered; a fetching state police captain figures he’s the key to her organized-crime probe; and his boss’s mother has been picked up for fixing her church bingo game.

Interview with Jack Getze

How do you get to know your characters?

Let them talk, usually by doing a "writing practice" with the character talking to the reader in a first person voice. You try it and see if it works, if there is something inside you (this is also called method acting) which relates to the character -- some part of you that identifies. Writing practice is another term for free writing -- the writer uses a prompt from instructor or website (what is your character's favorite person and why) and lets go, just write down words and thoughts without critiquing yourself. The way I was taught, you are NOT ALLOWED to stop writing for ten minutes.

Whoa! Ten minutes. You can learn a lot about someone in ten minutes. Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Austin's sidekick, the bartender Luis, is based on a real bartender I used to visit three or four times a week. (Stockbrokers drank after work in my day, and sometimes at lunch.) From the physical description -- tall, dark and handsome Mexican-American -- to the way he intimidated would be trouble makers -- rolled up sleeves with Popeye muscles -- Luis Guerrero the character is this bartender, at least in my mind. I didn't know the guy very well, but he did a great business. Everybody felt safe in his bar. He never had to BE tough because no one ever challenged his word.

Are you like any of your characters?

Yeah, I have to admit that Austin Carr is the devil on my shoulder, the part of Jack Getze always trying to get me in trouble.

Who are your favorite authors?

Elmore Leonard is more than my favorite writer -- he's a mentor, his work a guideline for my writing. He is the master of craft fiction -- fly on the wall, no author intrusion. Only your characters can tell the story. I've read everything he's ever written and frequently re-read my favorites like Stick, Killshot, and Hombre (the western).

Do you have a routine for writing?

I write every day and I like to start early -- four or five in the morning. Of course I have to make coffee, let the dog and cat outside, and then feed them before I can actually sit down at the computer.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I pretty much read and write all day long, so the computer goes where I do -- the den, the kitchen, the back yard, or even my upstairs office where I have a desk, files and a bulletin board with pictures of actors. When I want to see Austin Carr, I look at a shot I have of Johnny Depp in a suit and tie, wild hair.

Where’s home for you?

I live near the Jersey Shore and have for more than thirty years, but home will always be southern California. My mom's family has lived there for more than a century.

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

New Jersey gets a bad rap, I think because of all the oil refineries and port facilities near the Newark airport. Land in New Jersey, that's what you see. Also, those turkeys in New York like to make fun of us, spread rumors. But New Jersey is one the most beautiful places in all of America -- the rivers and streams, forests, the hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. Think Kentucky is full of nice horse farms? It is, but there are more thoroughbred horses raised in New Jersey. One weird thing: Under the Red Bank railroad trestle near Front Street lives a real internet troll. His name is Dan.

Everything I know about New Jersey, I learned from David Rosenfelt. It sounds pretty good to me. you ever run into Andy Carpenter? Never mind...If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

The Complete Works of Arthur Conan Doyle
. I've been a serious Sherlock fan since the age of twelve.

Your last meal would be ... 

Beef tacos.

Would you rather work in a library or a book store?

Bookstore. I need to talk and laugh a little bit at work.

You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

A giant ranch in the California desert where I could take in and feed all the dogs no one wants. I'd set up a trust so there would be salaries for staff indefinitely, money to pay the property taxes and utilities. A self-sufficient dog retirement home. No one turned away.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Take a book, a blanket and an umbrella, go to the beach. Read, swim, tan. And I can do this about eight or nine days in a row without getting bored. A week in Puerto Vallarta is my favorite vacation.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

Bugs Bunny. I think I'd get even more insight into Austin Carr's true nature.

What's up, doc? Sorry. Couldn't help it. What’s one of your favorite quotes?

From the old Dallas TV series: There's an episode where someone asks J.R. Ewing how he came to amass such a giant fortune. Why were you so successful? J.R. doesn't think too hard before he says, "Once you give up your integrity, the rest is a piece of cake."

What are you working on now?

I'm adding some final touches to Austin Carr #3, Big Mojo. I hadn't looked at the manuscript in over a year and -- surprise -- I discovered I'm a better writer now and can apply those new skills in many spots. For all you writers: I'm unpacking a few scenes that needed unpacking.

About the author:

Former Los Angeles Times reporter Jack Getze is Fiction Editor for Anthony nominated Spinetingler Magazine, one of the Internet’s oldest websites for noir, crime, and horror short stories. Through the Los Angeles Times/Washington Post News Syndicate, his news and feature stories were published in over five-hundred newspapers and periodicals worldwide. His two screwball mysteries, Big Numbers and Big Money, are being reissued by Down & Out Books, with the new Big Mojo to follow. His short stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir and Beat to a Pulp. Getze is an Active Member of Mystery Writers of America’s New York Chapter.   

Connect with Jack:        Buy the book:
Website | Goodreads      Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, March 17, 2014

Featured Author: Tova Mirvis

It's launch day for Tova Mirvis's new novel Visible City, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I'm happy to welcome her here today to talk about it, as well as a little bit about herself.

About the book:

An intimate and provocative novel about three couples whose paths intersect in their New York City neighborhood, forcing them all to weigh the comfort of stability against the costs of change.

Interview with Tova Mirvis

Tova, you've written for a lot of publications, and Visible City is your third novel. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, always making up stories and writing poems, but I started to write seriously in college. I wrote about eighty pages of what I thought would be a novel about the Jewish community in Memphis where I grew up, but then put that aside since I didn’t really know what I was doing yet. But that was when I fell in love with writing fiction. A few years later, I started a different novel about the Memphis Jewish community and that became my first novel. I’ve been writing ever since.

What’s the story behind the title Visible City?

I’m terrible with titles. They always come late in the writing process, so late that I’m convinced I will never think up a good title. For Visible City, I had another title I was using for a while but didn’t love it and always hoped something else would occur to me. Finally, I went actively looking for a title I liked better. I read through the manuscript underlining any phrase I thought might work. When I came to the words "Visible City," I felt like this captured some of the themes of my book.

How did you create the plot for this book?

Very slowly. I usually start with a character or small scene that interests me and let the book grow from there. One piece of the book leads me to another piece. I don’t know where I’m going with a book until I get there, so I can’t really plot the whole thing out. It’s a nerve-wracking way to write, because I always worry that the different parts of the book won’t come together, but for me this is an unavoidable part of the writing process.

How do you get to know your characters?

I get to know them as I would another person--slowly over time. I often start with a few real-life models I hold in my head, almost like molds use to shape my characters and then begin to form them on my own. I spend a lot of time writing about the characters, separate from the actual novel itself. I think about them for years, trying to get closer and closer. There comes a point in the process when I feel like I can really see them and feel them. For me this is the most exhilarating part of writing fiction, that sense that you can really understand what it is to be another person. 

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I enjoyed writing the characters who were the least like me. I also had a great time with the minor characters. It’s easier to feel free with them because less of the weight of the book rests on them. One of my minor characters was a man I referred to as dog man, and he was inspired by someone who lived in my sisters’ building. He liked to hang out in the lobby and monitor who came and went. He hung signs alerting residents to any rules they were breaking. I had fun with the idea of a character who appoints himself as an authority figure but the gratifying work of fiction is getting to think about what makes someone do this, what larger struggles are going on underneath. There’s always a deeper story to why people do what they do, and fiction is a place to lay that bare.

What would your main character say about you?

I think that Nina, my main character, would complain that I tried to hold her back, tried to make her behave. I spent the early years of writing the book overly protecting the characters. I allowed them to feel discontent in their lives, but the book took me so crazily long to write because I wouldn’t let anyone cross any lines, make any bold moves. Finally I realized I had to cut them loose, but I think far earlier than I realized it myself, Nina would have said to me “let me be free.”

Is Visible City based on real events?

My book is fiction, but I made use of some real life events. One of the threads of the book is about a long lost stained glass window that one of my characters thinks is walled inside a New York apartment building. I did a lot of research about this stained glass artist and about the way famous works of art get lost. I also pulled from real-life events that took place in the Manhattan neighborhood I was writing about. While I was writing the book, there was a neighborhood battle about the huge amount of new construction, about whether the character of the neighborhood was changing, and that became part of the book. I read a New York Times article about a café that was tired of noisy kids and hung a sign asking them to use their “inside voices” and that also became part of the book.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book. 

I think my favorite scene is when one of my characters, Jeremy, finally breaks out from his hated job as a corporate lawyer. He has been reading about urban explorers who sneak into sealed off spaces and decides to join them on an expedition to City Hall Station, a ghost subway station that is underground but no longer in use. He has this realization there that though he has felt so trapped in his life, he can still break out of his own constraints. I felt like so many of my characters, so many people for that matter, feel trapped in their lives, and I loved being able to write a scene when someone recognizes that new pathways are still open.

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

I’m currently reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, in paperback. His first book The Virgin Suicides was one of my favorite novels. I loved his use of the first person plural voice – the we voice – which was one of the inspirations for the communal narrator in my first novel.

Do you have a routine for writing? 

I try to be very disciplined about writing and know that if I wait for a quiet, free time, it will never come. I like to write first thing in the day, before my mind gets cluttered with other things. But with that said, I have three kids, so my writing time is very often interrupted. I have had to learn to write around and through the chaos.

I hear you. Where’s home for you?

I have lived outside of Boston for about ten years and moved here because my then-husband was from here. I’ve slowly come to like Boston, but don’t feel like it’s my real “home.”  I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and am a fifth generation Memphian. Though I haven’t lived there for many years, I feel like that is where I will always consider home.

I love Boston! What would your dream office look like?

My dream office would be any room with a door that I could close, and have complete silence. Also, maybe a room that is bare except for an empty oversized desk and maybe a big window. I write in coffee shops or libraries or at home when my kids are at school, so the notion of any space where I can’t be interrupted or distracted, or where I don’t feel the pull to do the dishes or pick up toys, feels like a wild fantasy to me.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

I love a line from a Mary Oliver poem: “Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a new novel, set it the suburb of Boston, where I live. After working on one book for so long, it's strange to be back at the beginning, in that unsure place where I’m not sure exactly where I’m going or how I’m going to get there. As I did with Visible City, I’ve started out with a few pieces that interest me, and trust that those will slowly lead me to others. I’ve learned to be cautious when saying what a book is about at the outset, because so much changes in the writing process. But at this point, I know that the novel is about religious passion (or the lack of it) and teenage angst and about a realtor who can’t sell a dilapidated house along the town lake, and about next-door neighbors who are feuding. I’m sure it will end up being about other things too, though I don’t yet know what those are.

I hope you come back and tell us more when it's published. And thanks for being here today!

Other books by Tova:

About the author:

Tova Mirvis is the author of three novels, Visible City, The Outside World and The Ladies Auxiliary which was a national bestseller. Her essays have appeared in many anthologies and in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Poets and Writers, and Good Housekeeping, and her fiction has been broadcast on National Public Radio. She lives outside of Boston with her three children.

Connect with Tova:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Featured Author: Dan O'Brien

You’re never too old to have one more adventure 

Brought to life by Steve Ferchaud’s vibrant drawings, this story for all ages by Dan O’Brien lets us know that it is never too late to have one more adventure. 

An Excerpt:

Robert Pendleton opened one eye as the light of a passing car flashed over the window, shattering the darkness into prisms. He rolled onto his back on the beat-up couch and yawned as he reached his hands up and rubbed his eyes unceremoniously. 

He looked out over the darkness at the digital clock. The red digits spelled out a quarter ‘til midnight––nearly fourteen hours of sleep. He smiled and grabbed one of the cushions of the couch, burying his head in it. Just enough sleep, he reminded himself. Robert felt that anything less than twelve hours of sleep was very nearly too little. 

He grasped blindly for the TV remote. 

Groaning as he lifted his head, he looked at the empty table––his eyes drawn by another flash of a passing car. He couldn’t see clearly, but he knew that the remote had been there before he had fallen asleep nearly half a day ago. 

“Could have sworn….” he mumbled as he pushed himself up and brushed his hand around the top of the table, finding nothing. “Where did….”

Another groan escaped his lips as he lifted his body to a sitting position and threw aside the cluster of pillows that he had gathered around himself. He reached out for the lamp, but instead knocked it to the floor with a resounding thud. 

Robert muttered as he stood up from the couch, and then sank to his knees to search around in the darkness for the fallen lamp. Reaching around on the shadowed floor, shards of the broken lamp scattered like pieces of light. 

He turned his head, peering beneath the large space underneath the couch and saw the reflection of the buttons on the remote. The off-gray piece of machinery was underneath the couch––only darkness lingered beyond it. He reached out as he spoke again. 

“How did it get all the way down there?” 

Robert flexed his hand and strained as he twisted his back to reach farther; yet, the remote remained just out of reach. He pulled his arm away with a huff and craned his neck to the side, staring underneath into the darkness below the couch. 

His eyes widened as he saw the impossible: there was something beyond the remote. He shook his head and closed his eyes, whispering to himself that he didn’t see what he thought he had.

“I saw a little man,” he whispered to himself as he opened his eyes once more and nearly gasped as he did so. 

The figure was closer now and he could make out the outline clearly. A tiny man rested just beyond the remote. 

“What in the name of…?”

“Not here in the name of nobody, laddie. I be a friend though,” crooned the miniscule figure as he interrupted Robert and stepped forward, placing a hand on the darkened and slick surface of the remote. 

A tam-o’-shanter crested his bright red hair, the shaggy mane blending perfectly into his equally crimson, neatly trimmed, beard. 

A billow of whitish smoke drifted from the long-stemmed pipe that he held clenched between his lips. 

Robert fell back and knocked aside the adjacent table. Rubbing his eyes, he spoke a single word: “Leprechaun.”

About the Author:

Dan O’Brien, founder and editor-in-chief of The Northern California Perspective, has written over 20 books––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. In addition, he has spent over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: Contact him today to order copies of the book or have them stocked at your local bookstore. He can he reached by email at

Would you like to win a remarked copy of Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and Loose Change Collection Agency signed by the author and illustrator?

Simply follow the author here and here and a few winners will be randomly selected on March 20th!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cover Reveal: Sucker Literary Volume III

Sucker Literary is a platform for established and emerging, hugely intelligent writers who have the grit and talent to create compelling, authentic young adult literature that both adults and teens can enjoy. We are a literary enterprise dedicated to showcasing and promoting undiscovered and established writers who write for young adults (this is not to be mistaken for young adult writers). We are not affiliated with any writer’s organization or program and welcome writers at any stage of their writing career/ journey.

Sucker Literary Volume III

Available April 15, 2014

Bullied and alone, Ainsley seeks refuge in the arms of a strange boy. Time is slipping away for overachieving Sadie Lin, but reigniting an old flame might help. Scarred by a pressuring ex, Alexandra finally faces the rain. “Pasty and chubby” Charlotte makes a public play for the “Tan and Smooth” king. The beautiful girl in the black, lacy push-up bra says that it’s time for Brenn to stop lying . . . at least to herself. A halfway house is no home for Dawn—or is it? How will Dana survive knowing everyone at school thinks she’s a monster, when they just may be right? JJ and her crush finally get a moment alone—at his girlfriend’s hottest party of the year. Sixteen-year-old Sarah prepares for her first day of school by chaining up her Mamí in her bedroom. Alyssa’s life is a well-rehearsed ballet until a tragedy sends her hurtling towards a fall. Loving a boy is as simple as chemistry . . . unless that boy is an unstable element.

Eleven stories that delve into the depths of our experience—driven by fierce and untouched love that makes us seek, lose, fear, desire, long, reflect, survive, steal, protect, fall, and confess.

Founding Editor:
Hannah R. Goodman

The H8TE  Lilliam Rivera
Valentine’s Day  Claudia Classon
Halfway From  Shelli Cornelison
Her Tree Boy Blaze  Lina Branter
How To Fall  Kacey Vanderkarr
If it Rains  Kristina Wojtaszek
Black Lacy   Kimberly Kreines
Superpower  Mary Malhotra
The Chemistry of You and Me  Evelyn Ehrlich
Just a Matter of Time  Charity Tahmaseb
A Different Kind of Cute  Hannah R. Goodman

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Sucker Literary AnthologySucker Literary Magazine Issue 1