Monday, June 30, 2014

Spotlight on: Ellen Mansoor Collier

As some of you may have noticed, A Blue Million Books has started organizing virtual book tours. A Blue Million Books Blog Tours is proud to present its first tour with author Ellen Mansoor Collier for the third book in her Jazz Age Mystery series, Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns.

Book Details:

Book Title: Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns

Category: mystery, 268 pages
Publisher: DecoDame Press

Published: May 18, 2014
Available in: mobi, epub, PDF

Tour dates: June 30-July 5 

Content Rating: PG*

About the book:

During Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, the Island was called the "Free State of Galveston" due to its lax laws and laissez faire attitude toward gambling, girls and bootlegging. Young society reporter Jasmine (Jazz) Cross longs to cover hard news, but she's stuck between two clashing cultures: the world of gossip and glamour vs. gangsters and gamblers.

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.

When a bookie is murdered, Jazz looks for clues linking the two murders and delves deeper into the underworld of gambling: poker games, slot machines and horse-racing. Meanwhile, Jazz tries to keep both Burton and her brother safe, and alive, while they face off against a common enemy.

About the author:

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles, essays and short stories have been published in a variety of national magazines. During college summers, she worked as a reporter (intern) for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.

A flapper at heart, she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine, and was active in WICI (Women in Communications), acting as president her senior year.

Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets, released in May 2013. Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns is the last novel in her Jazz Age Mystery series, published in May, 2014. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Amazon (all books) | Barnes & Noble (all books) 

Connect with Ellen:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads 

Participants in the Book Blitz tour:

•    Authors to Watch, June 30
•, June 30
•    Storeybook Reviews, July 1 

•    Tony Scougal, July 2
•    Christoph Fischer, July 3
•    Tales of a Book Addict, July 3
•    Socrates' Book Reviews, July 4

•    Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine, July 5

Monday, June 23, 2014

Featured Author: Felix Whelan

Children of the Good has the highest Amazon ranking so far in the category Christian Futuristic Fiction, and Felix Whelan is here today to talk about it.

About the book:

If everyone on Earth stopped believing in God... Would He still exist? Would He still care?

In a near-future America that looks a whole lot like today...

A foreign-born Antichrist sits in the White House, and through the power of the Presidency, secretly rules the world...

Religion as we know it has been outlawed, and all knowledge of the old beliefs has been wiped from human memory...

A State-sponsored, New Age cult of self-worship has taken organized religion’s place, and controls the hearts and minds of the world. The Gospel of Self denies the existence of objective good or evil, and preaches moral relativism and the virtue of selfishness...

In the Midwest small town of Arkady, a luminous woman begins appearing to children. She tells them a story about a real living Evil that has taken over their world, and of an objective, loving Good that is on its way to save them. Her son – her seed is the mysterious term she uses – will crush the Evil and bring Good back to the world...

But not if President for Life Michael Oglesby has anything to say about it. When a series of prophecies appear to be coming true, with one very special little girl at their center, a hidden Remnant of believers emerge to rally around the child… While forces of darkness mobilize to destroy her at any cost...

Other books by Felix and co-written by Carol Ann Whelan

I Can't Believe It's Vegan! Volume 1 - All American Crock Pot Classics
I Can't Believe It's Vegan! Volume 2 - All American Comfort Food Entrees
I Can't Believe It's Vegan! Volume 3 - All American Comfort Food Desserts
I Can't Believe It's Vegan! Volume 4 - All American Comfort Food Truck Stop, Diner and Lunch Counter Classics
The I Can't Believe It's Vegan! All American Comfort Food Cookbook: Our Top 40 All-Time Favorites
I Can't Believe It's Not Tuna!: 55 Vegetarian Recipes for Mock Tuna Casseroles, Sandwiches, Melts, Burgers, Salads, Pasta Dishes, and More!

with Felix Whelan

Felix, this is your first novel. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I announced to my mother that I wanted to grow up to be a writer when when I was ten years old, and she promptly bought me one of those old metal manual typewriters at a yard sale and said, “Get to work!” I did, and she was very supportive of my early efforts, retyping stories for me on the sly at her day job in an insurance office, putting them in little binders with the title and “by Felix Whelan” on the front like a real book. Mom was awesome... In high school, I read one of my stories in front of an audience at a Reader’s Theater event and got a standing ovation. I was thrilled! I knew I was on the right path in life. I majored in creative writing in college, with a minor in religious studies, got a few short stories published... Then fell in love, got married, dropped out of school, and promptly forgot all about writing for most of the next twenty-five years! I had a wife, and soon a family to provide for, so off I went into the nine-to-five workforce. When I turned fifty, I started a blog called “Felix at Fifty,” subtitled “a blog about food, faith, family and finding fulfillment at (and after) fifty,” on which I tried to encourage middle-aged folks like myself to “go for it,” live their dreams, express their creativity, find fulfillment. About a year into that project, the irony was too much. Here I was cheering others on to follow their dreams, while ignoring my own... I parked the blog with a “gone writing...” sign, and got to work. Children of the Good is the result.

What’s the story behind the title Children of the Good?

I wrote the first few chapters with just the fictional town’s name, Arkady, as the working title. I had established the milieu in the story of a future without religion, and a luminous woman, the Blessed Virgin, obviously, appearing to children who had no idea who she was or what she might represent... Then one Sunday at Mass, the first reading was from the Old Testament book of Wisdom – “For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and carried out with one mind the divine institution... I had never heard that verse before. The Holy Children of the Good... It just rang and rang inside my head like a church bell at sunrise, and I knew, there’s my title. I shortened it to just Children of the Good because I didn’t think kids born into a culture with no religion would know the word Holy, or identify themselves by it.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

In January, I’ll celebrate my 20th anniversary as an office manager. It is definitely my “second half of life” goal to be a full-time author and pay the bills writing and selling novels – novels that, hopefully, get made into movies! But just to be on the safe side, I think I’ll stay in the workforce just a few more years...

How did you create the plot for this book?

The plot revealed itself in stages. I wrote the first five chapters intuitively, by the seat of my pants, as they say. Once I’d introduced the main characters and the world in which the story takes place, this near future America where the Antichrist has taken over and abolished all religion, I knew I had to flash back and fill in the story of this guy’s origin and rise to power. Suddenly I had ten or eleven chapters, and I was feeling pretty good about actually winding up with a full-blown novel on the other end of this thing... So I hunkered down and outlined the rest of the book, which I found made it much easier to write. I could focus more on the craft of writing well, in the moment with each unfolding chapter, and less on worrying about what was going to happen next in the story.

What’s your favorite line from the book?

One of my favorite “poetic description” lines is in chapter three, the first time we meet the luminous woman. She appears to a group of third graders at a secret cove off the town lake, at night, where all these kids have snuck out and gathered to see if the woman they’ve heard about is real and if she’ll really appear:

A white form the size of a dog drifted toward them on the water, and became a swan as it neared the shore. It did not step up onto the land, but rather halted abruptly, craned its long neck and stretched its ivory wings, then simply vanished as the campsite exploded into light.

Cool, huh?

Very. Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Neil Coleman really endeared himself to me in the course of writing this book. He appears the first time as a nine-year-old kid in that scene by the lake. Then we meet him again and really get to know him when the story jumps forward to when he and John Harper, the novel’s central character, are young adults in their twenties. When we meet Neil as a child, he’s a tough as nails abused kid on his way to growing up hard and mean like his old man. But that lake encounter with the woman changes him, and when we meet him again, as an adult, he’s an awesome young man, smart, competent, brave, humble. He was a lot of fun to write.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Neil Coleman is based on a real kid named Neil that I knew growing up. His dad really did beat him with a razor strap and terrible things like that. He would show us the welts on the playground. But it was a small town in the seventies. We kids didn’t know what to do about it, or that we could do anything about it, or should even try. And our parents, the school, everybody just looked the other way. It breaks my heart now thinking about it. The Neil Coleman you meet in Children of the Good is my prayer for the Neil I grew up with. May his life be so blessed.

Is your book based on real events?

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, that depends on what the meaning of what the word "real" is... One common criticism of Children of the Good is that, for a book set fifty years in the future, the world portrayed is not very futuristic. People drive Fords and Buicks, they talk on cell phones, have big screen TVs, watch funny animal videos on their home computers... All anachronistic present day elements I included in the book very much on purpose. I set the story in the future to make room for the Antichrist's rise to power, and for the establishment of the Special Schools, essentially a global system of prison camps for children that exist to "reprogram" kids caught thinking or behaving religiously into "self-esteem narcissists" with a grand sense of entitlement... But I'm not really making a prediction about the future, here. I'm setting up an allegory about the present. The New Age philosophy the Antichrist imposes in place of Christianity and other world religions is called The Gospel of Self, and it's based in large part on Ayn Rand's famous "virtue of selfishness." It places the center of the human moral compass squarely on one's personal ego and "self-esteem," on what I want, what I need, what I feel... me... me... me... That's the philosophy that rules this "near future" America... Just like, any honest observer would have to admit, it rules American culture today. My 2066 America looks, technologically, a whole lot like USA 2014, because it's really our present day values being explored in the book. The "near future" setting of Children of the Good is an allegory of  what America today has become in the wake of the "Cultural Revolution" of the 1960s – a shallow, narcissistic, amoral, celebrity-worshiping, consumerist, me me me culture that denies the existence of God, and increasingly marginalizes, and even outright persecutes, people of faith. The events of the story are fiction, of course. But the moral environment, the cultural context that gives those events meaning is very real, and very present, right here and right now.

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

I very much want to narrate the audiobook of Children of the Good myself. Back in college, in the Creative Writing program, we read everything we wrote out loud in class. We critiqued each other's oratory as much as the writing itself. We learned that all good writing, even fiction, even essays, even memoir, should follow the same basic rule as poetry – which is that to "look right" to the eyes of the reader, the words must "sound right" to their ears, as well. I would never publish a story or novel that I have not read aloud many times over to make sure it sounds as great as it reads. So, I've narrated Children of the Good in the privacy of my home many times, and not to boast, but Morgan Freeman ain't got nothin' on me! All I need now is a few hours in a recording studio... It's more a matter of funding than anything else. Once I've sold enough paperbacks and eBooks to pay for some studio time, watch for the audiobook!

I will! Who are your favorite authors?

My number one, all time favorite author is Ray Bradbury. I was directed to his books in the fifth grade, by a school librarian. I was ten, and Bradbury's short stories were like nothing I had ever read. He writes in a rollicking prose poetry that is really quite breathtaking in its power to evoke imagery in the reader's mind. Then, there's what he writes about... The stuff of every ten year old boy's dreams – rockets, Martians, dinosaurs, carnival side shows... I'll never forget putting my hands on Something Wicked This Way Comes for the first time, that first experience of Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show steaming into town on a spooky midnight train... Green Town, the Illinois small town where Something Wicked takes place, and where Bradbury's classics Dandelion Wine and The Halloween Tree are also centered, grew into a kind of "oasis" in my imagination, if that makes sense, a place I carry inside me, in my heart, that I have returned to rereading at least one of those books every year for the the last forty years... That's the kind of writer I want to be, a creator of worlds readers carry inside them and remember for a lifetime.

Other authors I love, for wildly varying reasons: Alice Hoffman, Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Lauren Groff, Bradley Denton, and Neil Gaiman.

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

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, hardback from the library. My wife and son and I watched the movie version last week on Netflix, and we all just loved it. I couldn't help but watch the movie with a writer's eye. I kept thinking, "This is the kind of movie I want made from my books." So reading Odd Thomas is both a pleasure and a study. On the one hand, I'm enjoying the story, of course. On the other, though, I am studying how Dean writes, how he paces the story, how long his sentences and chapters are, how much dialogue there is VS description, how he introduces characters, and like that. I really want someday to see my work on the silver screen. Dean Koontz is a master of writing books that become movies. A wise artist always studies the masters!

For the record, I am by no means a technophobe! Yes, I check books out from the library, and I have hundreds of paperbacks on my shelves at home. But I also have 1,500 or so eBooks on my Kindle. I especially love the convenience of taking my Kindle with me when I leave the house. Getting stuck at the airport or facing a long wait at the doctor's office is far less frustrating when you have a vast library in your pocket, and access to every book ever written anywhere there is Wi-Fi – which these days is everywhere. I think eBooks are great, and they're so much less expensive than paper books. My only issue with the eBook revolution is knowing I will never while away a single afternoon scouring the shelves of a "used eBook store." I love used bookstores. I love the way they smell, and the scintillating promise of buried treasure sure to be found on the very next shelf... I will miss used bookstores terribly when they someday disappear altogether.

Heaven help us if that happens. What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

I cannot read with noise! TV, music, conversation going on in the room around me. I suspect this is a consequence of spending so much time reading in the library as a kid. I learned to lose myself in books in total silence, no distractions. My kids can read with music blasting and one eye on Facebook, and they seem to comprehend just fine. For me, no way. I do most of my reading in the early morning, before the rest of the household wakes up.

Where do you prefer to do your writing?

After literally decades of wanting to write but never "finding the time," I finally figured out that if I was going to wait around for the right time and place to appear, no writing was ever going to get done. So, if I was serious about writing a novel, I was just going to have to hunker down and do the work, no matter how I felt about the environment or time of day. And so I taught myself to do that, in the course of writing Children of the Good. It's funny really, coming on the tail of that last question, about reading. It's a genuine paradox. I can only enjoy reading a book in total silence, in an undisturbed location. But I can write one anywhere. My "office" is a 16GB flashdrive I carry with me everywhere. Any USB port brings my office to 3D life around me, and I'm off.... I write during breaks and lunch at my day job, on my living room computer with my kids blasting the TV behind me, on a laptop in waiting rooms... If I'm bored at a party, and I spot a PC, I'm not above cranking out a chapter or two while my wife socializes. The great science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, as a publicity stunt, used to set up a desk in bookstore windows and write the most intense, amazing stories while gawkers pressed their noses to the glass. I could do that!

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

Definitely a library. In Disney's excellent 1983 film adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes, Jason Robards plays twelve-year-old Will Halloway's brave, aging librarian dad. That's my dream retirement someday: to be Jason Robards in that movie. To spend my golden years puttering around a big, old library in a small town somewhere, encouraging kids to get excited about pirates and dinosaurs, journeys into space and jungle safari's...

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"If you don't like what you're doing, then don't do it." – Ray Bradbury. I have a bumper sticker with this quote taped to the dashboard of my truck, facing me while I drive!

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Rocket Man by William Hazelgrove is absolutely wonderful. I am going to read everything this guy has ever written or will write in the future, which is about the highest compliment I know how to give to a writer.

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. This novel has one of the best opening lines ever: "The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass." How could you not love every word that follows that opener?

Hope and Undead Elvis by Ian Thomas Healy. It's the end of the world and only an ex-stripper and the reanimated zombie corpse of Elvis Presley can save the day. I know it sounds cheesy, but it is so well executed, you'll be turning pages all the way to the end, and thinking about these characters for a long time to come.

What are you working on now?

The next book in the Children of the Good series. The working title, at this red hot moment, and this could change, of course, is Fruitless Works of Darkness – a reference to the New Testament Book of Ephesians. It picks up exactly where Children of the Good leaves off. Nelly Harper, Neil Coleman, and Billy Conner are on the lam, the Antichrist is still in charge and laying plans to seduce little Nelly into his service, we discover a deeper level of the Remnant in Mexico... I'm mostly outlining now, but you can count on book two to take the story to a whole new level, both as gripping narrative, and as theological exploration, from a Catholic perspective. Folks should watch my blog for previews and progress reports!

Will do! And come back when it's done and tell us more about it!

About the author:

Felix Whelan is the co-author, alongside his beautiful wife Carol Ann Whelan, of the I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan! cookbook series. They live in rural Missouri with their daughter, Kate, their son, Conner, and, at last count, twenty dogs, cats, chickens, sheep, and goats overgrowing their one-acre hobby farm. They are vegetarians surrounded by cattle farmers, Catholics surrounded by Protestants, and ex-city slickers transplanted to a town that will never completely trust anyone whose great grandparents weren’t born there... The first book in Felix’s Children of the Good series was released on Holy Thursday, 2014, by NuEvan Press.

Connect with Felix:
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Friday, June 20, 2014

Featured Author: Remy Landon

My guest today wrote one of my favorite books of 2013 under her real name. Because her new contemporary romance is a little (okay, word is it's a lot) steamy, she's written Point of Submission as Remy Landon. I hope you enjoy my interview with the mystery woman as well as an excerpt from her book.

About the book:

Cassandra Larsen is not the type to give in. But Carlo Leone is not the type to give up. The 27-year-old CEO of a prominent industrial company, Carlo is rich. Powerful. And devastatingly handsome. Tragic events in his past have caused him to be guarded, to view women as playthings in a provocative game he and his colleague created. When Carlo meets 21-year-old Cassandra at the horse stable he owns, he is instantly drawn to her beauty and feisty nature, but beneath her spunk, there is vulnerability and want. She will be a challenge--a perfect candidate for the contest.

Wary of relationships due to her rocky history, Cassandra is determined to resist Carlo’s smoldering eyes and maddening charm. Will she surrender? And will Carlo discover that this has become more than just a game--before it’s too late?

What they're saying:

"A wildly delicious story...Remy Landon, you have a hit here!" ~ Gloria Herrera, As You Wish Reviews

"Great read and brilliant author...desperately waiting on the next book!" ~ Country Gals Sexy Reads

"Entertaining and teasingly hot. Both Carlo and Cassandra will have you flipping pages." ~ Pamela Carrion, The Book Avenue Review

"Cassandra and Carlo's story was mesmerizing...a great page turner. The characters were rich and complex. And I cannot wait to see how this story unfolds." ~ Denise Holley, Books and Beyond Fifty Shades

Interview with Remy Landon

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

I was first an avid reader, bringing stacks of books everywhere I went. When I was ten, I wrote a story called The Talking Cat and discovered, to my delight, that writing could be an enjoyable escape for me, just as reading was. I scribbled stories in a thick spiral notebook with doodles on the front, sitting in a yellow beanbag chair in my room and loving that I could create characters and make them come to life. One story became so real to me that I actually cried when I had the character die! The spiral notebook has been replaced by a laptop, but the pleasure I get is still the same. I heard somewhere that you should have a career based on what you loved to do when you were ten...I'd love nothing more than to follow that advice!

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I am currently a middle school teacher. It's been a wonderful profession for me, but I am actively pursuing a full-time writing career.

How did you create the plot for Point of Submission?

I knew that I wanted to write a romance, and I've always liked the combination of a cocky but charming male paired with a feisty female who does her best to resist him. In teaching writing to my students, I tell them that the “formula” for most books is to create a character and give that character a problem or issue. I came up with an issue for both Carlo and Cassandra. Since I know horses, I decided to have Cassandra work in a horse stable and thought since Carlo was rich, he could own that stable. I wanted to add an element of intrigue and decided on the “contest” Carlo and Brock play.

Sounds intriguing! What’s your favorite line from a book?

If I can pick two lines :), I'd say the end of Charlotte's Web – It is not often that someone who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

The rules can be bent for Charlotte. Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I really enjoyed writing Carlo, because he's multi-faceted. On the outside, he has it all—-looks, brains, charm, success, money—-but inside, he's troubled and dark. I found myself wanting to know him better, if that makes sense. I wanted to show the reader his vulnerable side, and this will be explored further in the sequel.

I also liked writing Estelle Perry, his secretary, because of her dry humor and the warmth she projects, despite her no-nonsense attitude.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

I imagined Carlo to look like David Gandy. David gets my vote for sexiest man alive. I find it helpful to envision real people when I write the characters.

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

Cassandra, of course, because I'd get to experience Carlo :).

And what girl wouldn't want to be Cassandra?! Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

I have several favorites :), but one that comes to mind is when Cassandra and Carlo are at the horse show in a private moment. The tables turn when she becomes a bit bold with him, pressing him to tell her what's going on inside him. She senses a rare vulnerability in Carlo and realizes at the end of the chapter that he is probably giving her all that he can. I also like the hayloft scene. Very much ;).

Do you have a routine for writing?

I usually sit at my writing desk, overlooking our porch, front lawn and fields. I like to have a glass of water with ice and lemon, and will sometimes have a Hershey's kiss (dark chocolate) – okay, maybe two. I call those “author vitamins” :). I am usually joined by one of my cats or dogs. I reread what I've written last and will sometimes just sit there for a while to get “warmed up,” and then hopefully, the words start to flow.

Author vitamins! I need some of those. Talk about your journey to self-publication. What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?

I had an agent for a book I'd written several years ago. It came agonizingly close to publication, and I decided to self-publish after I'd seen an article on Amazon featuring the success of Jessica Park. While it's a bit scary, it's also very liberating and empowering to be able to do it on my own. My English/teaching background has come in handy in terms of editing...I don't hire an editor for that. I had Michelle Preast of indiebookcovers for my cover art (love her!), and Pamela Carrion of The Book Avenue Review set up my blog tour - she has been absolutely wonderful. I'd recommend my husband as an editor, formatter, staunch supporter and barn builder, but he's too busy doing stuff for me to have time to take on anyone else :).

Does he have a brother? Just kidding. Sort of. What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"Be the person your dog thinks you are." I love dogs so much...I have four of them, all rescues. I love how you can be gone for a half hour or a half day, and their reaction is the same when they greet you at the door.

Very true. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to be around my horses—-my husband and I have a small farm, and he built me the most beautiful barn, which is my happy place, along with Target. I also enjoy walking the dogs in our fields, and I do a lot of networking on Facebook for shelter dogs in need—-sharing them with rescues. Working in rescue has been very eye-opening—-both heartbreaking and rewarding.

What are you working on now?

I'm currently trying to market like's challenging, because I'm using a pen name and starting from scratch with no fan base—yet :). I am also beginning the sequel which I'm very excited about.

Excerpt from Point of Submission

Late-day sunlight blazing in from the open door at the end of the barn swathed the visitor in a brilliant glow. Cassandra narrowed her eyes against the glare. It was a man. As he came into view, she could see that he was attractive. Correction: very, very attractive. Perfectly tousled, thick black hair and a broad-shouldered build tapering to a fit waist. His attire was completely inappropriate for a barn: a pristine white dress shirt, dark pants (which looked to be tailored), expensive-looking shiny shoes. A pair of aviator sunglasses hung in the V at the top of his shirt. He walked with confidence and purpose and style. Masculine elegance, Cassandra thought, as color unexpectedly rushed to her cheeks.

    She felt a twinge of excitement edged with uneasiness as he approached. Random men didn't usually visit Windswept Stable, unless they were accompanied by a horse-crazy young daughter or seeking riding lessons for said daughter. This man definitely did not look like a dad.

    Cassandra returned her attention to filling the water pail, then decided it was rude to not at least greet him. Adjusting the valve to slow the stream of water, she turned toward him. He had slowed his steps, looking at the empty horse stalls with a stern, almost brooding expression.

    Anxiety bubbled up inside her with each step he took. Don't be an idiot over some random guy, she chided herself. You should know better by now.

    Cassandra decided he might be lost and in need of directions. When he was two stalls away from her, she addressed him. “Hello. Can I help you?”

    The man stopped. His expression seemed to brighten, his lips parting slightly. He took a few steps closer until he was standing just a few feet away.

    Cassandra drew in her breath. Oh, God. He had a beautiful mouth, a classic Grecian nose and eyes the color of smoke with just a hint of blue, hooded by thick but neatly-trimmed black eyebrows. His face was deeply tanned, a striking contrast to the crisp white shirt, and although Cassandra was not usually a fan of facial hair, the shadow of a mustache and goatee gave him an aura that hinted rebellion.

From Carlo's POV:
    Carlo recalled the image of Cassandra as he sped down Route 72, the cornfields a blur on either side of him. What was it about her that had intrigued him? The obvious answer was her beauty. The uniquely-stunning color of her hair, the way wisps of it framed her delicate face. Those aquamarine eyes that changed each time he looked into them: not only the color, but what they projected: boldness, innocence, allure. And he was quite convinced he had seen curiosity and a hint of arousal. Remembering this made him harden.

    But there was more. It was the contradictions he saw in her: the feisty attitude juxtaposed with the wariness, the confidence opposite the vulnerability.

    Most of all, it was the challenge. He'd known from the moment they met.

    Without taking his eyes off the road, Carlo reached for his iPhone and commanded Siri to send a text.

    There were three words: I found one.

About the author:

Living on a small farm in New England with her husband, Remy Landon does some of her best thinking while mucking stalls. An avid animal lover, she would like to publicly thank her husband for putting up with the pet hair, the dogs on the bed, the things the cats hack up and the repeated requests for goats. It's a wonderful life.

Connect with Remy:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |

Buy the book:
Amazon | Smashwords 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Featured Author: Ces Creatively

Reach For Your Light Banner

Ces Creatively is on tour with her new book Reach For Your Light, part 1 in The Light Direction series. Follow the tour to visit some fantastic blogs for reviews, guest posts and the chance to win a huge haul of prizes.

Reach For Your Light by Ces Creatively

What they say:

'Emma Williams is searching for a new direction. Leaving behind a dead end career and harrowing relationship in London, she makes a fresh start in Bournemouth bonding immediately with flat mate Denzil and enjoying coastal life.

Falling in love with delicious Jeremy White she soon discovers that her new life is not as uncomplicated as she’d hoped. It may look like she has the perfect beach apartment and gorgeous man of her dreams but when visions of a mysterious stranger become reality and manipulating exes are out to cause trouble in paradise, Em just wants to find the truth in a world of deceit.

Reach For Your Light will take you on a fast-paced roller coaster of hot sex, mind games and supernatural visions that will leave you hungry for more.'

Interview with Author Ces Creatively

Ces, what’s the story behind the title of your book?

Reach For Your Light
has “inspiration” at its heart. In 2006 my son was stillborn at full term, and I almost died too. Writing is great therapy, and I’ve overcome all kinds of adversity since that traumatic milestone in my life and always found “Light” in “Dark Times.” The Light Direction series is a hot paranormal romance, however it’s positive message of finding your way in challenging times is written for and dedicated to my little boy Aarlonzo (in heaven).

That's heartbreaking. How did you create the plot for this book?

The plot has come about from a good old mix of inspirational sources. I’m inspired by all the off the wall series I have enjoyed myself such as Heroes and Alphas (hence the supernatural abilities some of my characters have). I’ve also drawn from personal experience for many parts of the book, places I’ve lived or visited, people I’ve dated, loved or hated. In the first manuscript (which has now been split into three books) the plot sort of found its own way at first draft and has evolved and been fine tuned along the way.

What’s your favorite line from the book?

Oh I have so many, lets go with:
“Iridescent ripples captivate me. Gleams of coloured light waltzing on the water like newlyweds taking their first dance.”

This is from the moment Emma and Jeremy first make love in the swimming pool at his parent’s house.

How do you get to know your characters?

I can see the characters in my mind long before they are written in detail, so when I come to describing them, I already know what they like, who they’ll love, what annoys them, how they look, dress, smell and even taste. Most of the characters bear some resemblance to either myself, someone I know now or have known at some point in my life.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I’d have to say Denzil is probably the one I’ve most loved writing because he’s really unique, handsome, a great friend to Emma and just an amazing fun guy all round. I’d choose Denzil if I were the leading lady!

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Yes. There are parts of Denzil based on my ex-hubby and now good friend Jay (he knows which bits of the story are true to life and is cool with it). There are several horrible bosses in the story based on real ex-employers too and the ‘Brad from Topaz’ experience is pretty much how it actually happened.

Now that sounds intriguing! Is your book based on real events?

It is fiction, but there are lots of scenes based on reality. It’s good to write from experience. The Light Direction has given a wonderful opportunity for some really novel promotion to incredible small businesses and talented creatives too. The gifts mentioned in the story, jewelery, bags, ceramics, prints, cupcakes, candles, and more, were all created as bespoke merchandise for TLD and so readers can experience the world I have written about in a more tangible way! The holiday cottages the characters stay in are real holiday lets, the restaurants they visit are real places I recommend and there are actors, musicians, singers and photographers mentioned in the script too.

Are you like any of your characters?

I’m like Emma in that she wears her heart on her sleeve and has a lot of love to give the right man. She is me 15 years ago, haha. Katy is unique, creative and stands up for what she believes in, very much a mini me, she also has blue and black hair like me. Beth is my alter ego I think... there are parts of me flickering in her eyes but that outspoken confident woman in me usually hides behind the quiet creative one in reality, haha.

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

I’d be Emma because she gets a taste of (nearly) all the handsome men in the story. (Plus it would be like an opportunity to revisit my youth with all the knowledge of today, haha.)

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Through all the times I’ve read the story, I always love re-reading the scene in Nightclub Topaz when Emma first meets Jez. There is just something so exciting about the first time you are stung with the buzz of a new and mutual attraction that nothing else can quite touch that feeling. Jez had noticed Em before that night and was keen to get to know her; she tries to play it cool, flirting and hoping she’s not imagining the chemistry between them. Things get a little complicated, but they get together in the end and it was worth the wait when sparks fly.

What’s one of your favorite quotes of something the hero says?

I love lots of things Denzil and Jez say but I guess Jamie Jaxx is the silent hero of the book... Jaxx has supernatural powers and Emma has been seeing him in visions throughout the story because they are connected in ways she is yet to discover. He only makes his mysterious appearance into her life towards the end of the story but has a very heroic role as the story continues in book 2, Discover Your Light. Quote Jamie Jaxx in Reach For Your Light: “Better buckle up Em... this is going to be one hell of a ride."


About the author:

Ces Creatively is an inspiring mum of three from Poole who loves to spend time at Poole Harbour, Sandbanks Dorset. Juggling being a mum with running graphic design business, popular website with a book blog and handmade gifts business she miraculously also finds time to write novel series which she has dedicated to her son in heaven. A tireless champion of small businesses and other authors, Ces has won several awards for supportive innovation and dedicates time every week to promoting others online. In a unique twist, her debut paranormal romance novel The Light Direction - Reach For Your Light features real small businesses and talented creatives.

Connect with Ces:
Website | Facebook | Twitter (book) | Twitter (Ces)

Buy the book:
Amazon |

There's a brilliant haul of prizes for the giveaway, so be sure you're in with a chance to win by entering via the Rafflecopter below.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Crazy In Love Cover Reveal

Jennifer Zane has redesigned the covers of her Readers' Crown award winning series, Crazy In Love and RomCon Promotions brings her here today to show them off! Don't miss the Rafflecopter and an excerpt from Wanting, book 2 in the series, which is on sale now for .99. First, about the books...

Waiting: Crazy In Love Series - Book 1

Once you get the zing you can't go back.

Jane West has everything a woman could want. A job in a small Montana town's only adult store, two busy young boys and one dead husband. She's been waiting--for a little zing. That all changes one summer morning at a garage sale with her kids.

Now someone wants their garage sale find and will let nothing get in their way. Including Jane. This new excitement for Jane spells trouble for a relationship with new neighbor--and hot fireman--Ty Strickland. Can Jane and Ty handle a relationship meddling mother-in-law, crazy kids, and stay alive while trying to solve the garage sale mystery? Will their love be worth the wait?

Wanting - Crazy In Love Series – Book 2

Now on sale for .99!

Veronica Miller is a plumber on a mission—buy out her dad and the family business is finally hers. One big, handsome problem stands in her way. And it's not a clogged toilet.  

Jack Reid is the boy she mooned over in high school. He's back in town, but he's no longer a boy. Ten years ago he broke her heart, skipped town and never came back. Now he's a big shot lawyer in Florida whose uncle feigned a health crisis to trick Jack into coming back into town.  Upon arrival Jack finds his uncle is gone, he's homeless, and forced to be roommates with the one woman he could never resist.   

Jack discovers his lust hasn't cooled for the sexy Veronica, but neither has her heart forgiven him.  A sex-toy educational party, romance novel writing gone awry, Goldie's meddling, an escape artist snake, a strange stalker in a fluffy pink coat, a house fire, plumbing gone awry, bitter cold, and a smart-faced garden gnome all conspire to force Jack and Veronica to work through a decade of baggage, disappointment, wanting and unrequited lust while figuring out the mystery behind the stalker.

Wondering – Crazy In Love Series – Book 3

Emma Hardy hasn’t been able to forget Sam Carter, or his incredible kiss in the elevator. Sadly, he rocked her world (and her libido), then calmly walked away, quit his job, and disappeared for two months. Not exactly the hot kiss follow-up she’d been hoping for. But Sam was busy making plans. And now, thanks to a glued-together gnome name George, a set of handcuffs, mistletoe, and a meddling adult store cupid disguised as aneccentric but innocent grandmother, Emma’s about to get the greatest Christmas gift of all…true love.

Wishing – Crazy In Love Series – Book 4

Violet Miller is a teacher savoring her summer break until she’s been
called in as emergency reinforcements—of the dating kind. She volunteers to help an old flame by pretending to be his girlfriend. In Alaska. At a family reunion. Since the guy is a handsome, lumberjack-sized doctor she’s never quite forgotten, faking a relationship won’t be hard work—while wishing for more.

Mike Ostranski is a desperate man on vacation. His mother wants grandchildren and sees a crazy Alaskan woman as a candidate for daughter-in-law. Mike needs Violet by his side to deflect the lady’s advances.

A week in Alaska as boyfriend and girlfriend should be easy for them. They grew up together, even had a brief fling. What could go wrong?


Excerpt from Wanting – Crazy In Love Series – Book 2

Now on sale for .99!


When little girls play make-believe with their dolls, most pretend they’re mommies or princesses or teachers. Have little tea parties with them, play dress-up. That’s what my sister, Violet, did with hers. Me? I played plumber with mine. I dressed my little Betsy Wets-Alot up in a pair of gray coveralls stolen from a male test pilot action figure I’d found at the toy store. He’d been tossed, naked, into the back of my closet until my sister found him and used him for the groom in her pretend weddings.

Not only did I dress my self-wetting doll in menswear, I ran a straw down the pants leg to divert the faux pee away from her anatomically-incorrect little body. No potty for her. I was five and knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I, Veronica Miller, wanted to be a plumber. Just like my father.
Now, over twenty years later, I’d fulfilled my childhood dream. I was the plumber I’d longed to be, working with my dad. Soon to be working on my own. One last payment to my old man stood between his official retirement and my small business owner status.

I smiled to myself about this almost-upon-me momentous occasion while lathering my hair in the shower. I squealed when the spray of water I was standing beneath went cold and quickly rinsed out the strawberry scented shampoo.

“Stupid hot water heater,” I grumbled to myself as I yanked back the plastic shower curtain and stepped out into the steam filled room. I longed to get back to my own house as Violet’s plumbing system needed some serious work. Even in the thick humidity, goose bumps popped out all over my body as I quickly toweled off and snuggled into my ratty, yet wonderfully comfortable flannel robe.

While I leaned over and rubbed my wet hair with a bright pink towel, I heard it. The sound of a key in a lock, the front door opening. I froze in place upside-down, staring at my knees between the edges of the robe, towel tangled with my long hair. Since I was a plumber, not a law enforcement officer, I lacked the training to keep panic at bay. That hot, adrenaline-induced fear rose up inside me between one heartbeat and the next. I swear the little wet hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Help. I needed to get help, but my cell was in my purse, which I’d dropped by the front door, one room away. No house phone.
I stood up, flipped my dark hair back over my shoulder, held my breath and listened. Rustling and a little mumbling was all I could make out. Who was in the house? Sure, they must have a key since I hadn’t heard a window break, but the only other person who was supposed to have one was Violet, and she was in Utah.

I tiptoed over to the door, bit my lip and winced as I turned the knob and hoped it didn’t squeak. I slowly opened the door as I held my breath. Peeking into the bedroom, I saw nothing out of the ordinary. Barely made bed, dirty clothes tossed haphazardly at the wicker hamper. Something heavy thumped onto the floor from the vicinity of the front door and I looked in that direction as if I had x-ray vision and could see through the wall to the person in the living room.

I squeezed through the small gap I’d made in the bathroom doorway, afraid if I opened it anymore, the old hinges would give me away. Breathing as quietly as possible, which was pretty hard in panic mode, I bent down and grabbed the first thing I could get my hands on to use as a weapon. What I held didn’t register. I knew it was solid wood like a baseball bat and as good as I was going to get for protection.

Violet’s house was small, with only one floor and a scary basement I rarely visited. Living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath. That’s it. Which also meant there wasn’t anywhere to hide.

For breaking and entering, the guy wasn’t Mr. Stealth. It was the middle of the afternoon, he’d come in the front door and he was awfully noisy for someone being where they weren’t supposed to be. Even if he was the worst robber ever, that didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous.

My palms were sweaty as I peeked around the door jamb into the living room. His back was to me and he appeared to be looking down at something he held in front of him, probably a cell phone. It appeared he was texting, or reading one. Tall, around six feet, maybe a little more, and solid. He wore jeans and dark leather shoes. His black jacket was a lighter weight than one would expect for the dead of winter in Montana in the throes of a bitter cold snap. A gray knit cap covered most of his dark hair.

I didn’t recognize him, but I wasn’t in the mood to wait for him to turn around and see me. I decided to use the element of surprise. I tiptoed over to him and whacked him on the arm with my wooden weapon. Hard.


I’d aimed for his head, but nerves and slick palms messed me up and I hit his shoulder instead. The reverberations tingled in my fingertips.

“What the fuck?” Mr. Intruder said, his voice deep, full of surprise, the cell phone dropped to the floor at his feet. He raised a hand to his upper arm.

As he started to turn to face me, I hit him again, this time on the back of the head.
It wasn’t the sound of his skull breaking, but my weapon instead. The wood broke into two, one piece clattering to the floor.

Intruder grunted, fell to his knees with a thunk, then fell face first onto the floral area rug in front of the fireplace, his face turned toward me.
I stood there motionless, stunned, holding half of my broken weapon. Huh, varsity softball had paid off. It appeared I’d hit a home run. I looked down at the prostrate form on the floor. One leg moved a little, which, combined with some groaning, indicated I hadn’t killed him. Even with his eyes closed, I instantly recognized him.

“Oh, shit,” I whispered as I knelt down next to him. The thick wool of the carpet was scratchy against my knees. Why hadn’t I known who it was before I knocked him unconscious? I should have been relieved an axe wielding mad man wasn’t trying to kill me, but I was too surprised instead.

It was Jack Reid. The guy I’d been in love with in high school who I hadn’t seen in over ten years. Ten years where I’d often fantasize about him, about what could have been. I’d often dream about the moment he’d come back into my life, but this definitely wasn’t it. Sure, when he’d gone out with Violet instead of me senior year I’d wanted to kill him, slowly and painfully for doing so, but I’d envisioned strangulation or a pummeling of some kind. Now that I’d possibly killed him, at least knocked him completely unconscious, with—I lifted my broken weapon—the Triple Smacker paddle from my box of sex toys for the toy party I was hosting tonight, I realized the anger and bitterness at his long-ago rejection hadn’t gone away.

How dare he barge into my life again, unannounced, when I wasn’t the least bit ready for him! I wanted make-up, a killer dress, some fuck-me heels on, my hair done, with a hot guy in love with me on my arm when Jack saw me again. To make him see what he’d missed out on. Then I’d crush him beneath my stiletto heel before my lover shifted my attentions elsewhere.

But a robe and tangled, wet hair? A sex toy paddle? Revenge and maybe a little payback would be nice, but a felony conviction for assault? Oh boy.

Dropping the broken paddle onto the floor, I leaned over Jack and gently probed the back of his head. No brains gushing out, no blood seeping from beneath his hat. One huge goose egg of a bump though. I winced, thinking about the headache—maybe concussion—he might have.
Man, he smelled good. Woodsy, clean, male mixed with the fruity scent of my shampoo from my hair tangled about my face. His scent was sexy in an unconscious sort of way.
“Jack, Jack wake up,” I said, gently moving his shoulder. “Jack!” He had to wake up because I couldn’t live with myselfbeing known around town as the woman who killed Jack Reid with a Triple Smacker.

After another groan and a few moans, he rolled onto his back, blinked his eyes a few times and stared at me. At first, unseeing, then with focus.
Boy, even knocked practically unconscious, he sure looked amazing. Ten years had done the man a lot of good. His face was more rugged, jaw more pronounced. It could have been the five o’clock shadow at two in the afternoon that helped with that. He had a fabulous tan. The kind you get from living in Florida. Lips I’d dreamt about kissing when I was sixteen still looked appealing now. His dark hair that peeked out of his cap had a little curl. His blue eyes, even unfocused, were just as I remembered. Longing, once forgotten, flared back to life.

He just stared at me, looking me over as if I was a space alien. I couldn’t tell if he was confused or just addle pated. “Jack, say something.”

He blinked. Smirked, but quickly winced.


Oh God, had I caused him amnesia?

He cleared his throat. “Nice breast.”

I glanced down at myself, one breast was definitely out there for Jack to see, my nipple hard. I yanked at the side of my robe that was glaringly open, my hand at my neck holding the lapels together.

“Is this how you treat all your boyfriends?” His blue eyes had cleared, weren’t quite so foggy as a minute ago. “A kiss hello would probably be better, although maybe that’s not your way.” His gaze dropped to my chest.

My mouth fell open as anger flared. “You’re not my boyfriend. You lost your chance ten years ago,” I said tartly.

Jack leered. The smile he gave me couldn’t be described as anything else. “So you flash everyone who comes through the door, or just me?” He lifted a hand and rubbed the back of his head, winced.

I felt my cheeks burn hot at the thought of my epic wardrobe malfunction. It was completely and utterly mortifying, and on top of that, he was being a complete jerk about it. “Only ones I bash on the head first.”

Copyright 2012 – Jennifer Zane

About the author:

Jennifer Zane has lived all over the country--from Georgia to Maryland, New York to Colorado. including an exciting five years in Montana. Her time in Big Sky country was the basis for this book. When she's not writing, she savors the insanity of raising two boys, is figuring out how many meals she can make with a pressure cooker, and teaches a pretty mean karate class. She currently lives with her family in Colorado.

Connect with Jennifer:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon |

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Guest Post by Jason Helford

Jason Helford is the author of the thriller From a Killer's Mind. As you may have surmised by the title, this novel puts the reader inside the mind of a serial killer. Jason's here today with a guest post that, like the book, is a little creepy--creepy in a good way for thriller fans. Warning: don't read this if you're about to go out for a jog or to walk the dog!

Kirkus review:

Helford’s debut opens with a seemingly innocuous scene: A real estate agent shows a young couple a house they’re considering buying. Suddenly, the wife imagines horrific scenes of bloodshed in the house and begins screaming. Unbeknownst to the real estate agent, the house has a dark history: It was once home to a serial killer. The author then opens the narrative up, bringing readers into the mind of that killer, John, a nervous, punctilious man preparing to go “shopping”—not for groceries but for victims he calls “epiphanies.” Helford explores the weird logic of John’s psyche in a series of carefully controlled chapters enlivened by baroque, engaging prose (“A dark calm void filled the confusion, filled the sadness, filled John to the brim, while pushing aside his chaotic thoughts to the edges of the darkness, and John followed”). On the outside, John is calm, collected and sometimes even sarcastic; he smiles as he tells one prospective victim, “You know that in some tribal cultures, a smile is actually a warning of incipient violence.” But on the inside, he’s tortured by grotesque visions that drive him to kidnap women and savagely murder them. This internal narrative is so vivid and disjointed that readers will likely find John both fascinating and repulsive as he stews with “impotent rage at the wrong done to him” yet experiences neither remorse nor compassion. As the pace increases, the focus splits between John and a team of police investigators trying to capitalize on his few mistakes in order to catch him. The technical, procedural aspects of these sections are just as well-written and convincing as John’s surreal, violent inner monologues. The book significantly increases the gore and violence in its second half, as John’s inner demons urge him to greater violence (and seem to take on lives of their own). Fans of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs and Shane Stevens’ By Reason of Insanity may find a new favorite author here.

A violent, disturbing thriller.

About the book:

The prologue is a vignette that brings the reader into the tone and setting of the novel, giving a foreshadowing of the events that will unfold. It starts with newlyweds on a happy day, looking at a prospective home, but ends in tragedy due to an evil resonance attached to the house. This leads the reader to the beginning of John's story.
John has been a successful serial killer for his entire adult life, committed to his craft without detection or disruption. He's spent years refining his process and meticulously planning out each kill, honing his abilities to horrible heights. At the start of the novel, the reader is introduced to John going about the routine of his particular method of selection and abduction. The plans are well-rehearsed, but his dark life is abruptly disrupted as something even darker wells out from deep within him. What starts out as one dissociative lapse--a blackout on the road--turns into a series of uncontrollable blackouts, unraveling his carefully wrought control. John tries to re-center his mind through meditation--a technique he taught himself as a young man, to quiet his chaotic thoughts--but while John is deep within himself, he finds unfamiliar dark voices, voices not his own. They claw past his defenses and force themselves into John's reality, manifesting from out of the depths of his subconscious. John's scarred psyche had manifested as grotesque physical representations, torturing his fragile mind and bringing his buried past terrors back to life. Through a series of unbidden flashbacks to the abuses and defining moments of John's past, and through his interactions with these manifestations representing his weaknesses and fears, the reader glimpses what set him on the path to being such a prolific killer.
The book is written with an emotional honesty that lays bare the killer's soul for all readers to see, while also delivering a good scare.

Guest Post by Jason Helford

You are jogging through an abandoned part of town, each footfall crunching on the dried leaves that lonely winds have scattered over this old street. The pavement is cracked and broken, with occasional potholes that you hop over as you run. There are 4 more miles to run, and the sun slid behind the horizon hours ago. You are covered with a healthy sheen, and your pulse is steady.

Dark windows stare over doorways that smile at you as their frames sag with rot and age.  A light, dry breeze stirs the debris and brings the faint smell of old decay.

Your eyes dart left and right as you scan the deep shadows hovering in empty alleys. A trash can rattles to your right and falls over, sending you into a momentary sprint, until you hear the feline yowl and see a tabby cat run across the street, chasing something small. You chuckle and resume your rhythmic pace. You look down at your feet to avoid injury on the well-worn road. Each footfall sends a comforting shockwave up your legs and scatters dry leaves in an eddy.

“Pardon me, friend,” a voice startles you from the dark, causing you to stumble.  “Whoa, friend. Relax. I just need some directions. Sorry to scare you.”

You straighten up and stare as the man detaches himself from the night and walks towards you. He is unassuming, of medium height and build. The crown of his head peeks through a small gap in his dark hair.

“Where are you trying to go?” you ask in a flat tone, gesturing down one of the cross streets. “Downtown is that way. This is the old part of town.  An abandoned development.”

“Well, actually, I am following a tour,” explains the man, smiling and stepping closer.

“A tour? Out here?, you should probably just head that way to town. Good night,” you reply, skeptical of the notion of a midnight tour.

“No, no, no,” he says with a congenial gesture while talking fast. “It’s an electronic tour. On my phone. It’s based on a book called From a Killer’s Mind. Great book! Really scary! Do you remember the grizzly killings here a number of years ago? Weird, awesome story.”

“Yeahhh,” you say, taken aback by his odd choice of words. “But they were horrible killings. Worst this area had seen. I don’t know about awesome, but, yeah, everyone here knows. Look, I can’t help you with that, so I’ll just get back to running. Good luck.”
You turn to leave, but he says something that chills your spine.

“I’m looking for 782 Smithtown Road,” he calls out in a causal tone. “Do you know where that is?”

“782 Smithtown Road?!” you ask incredulously. “That’s my neighbor’s house! It wasn’t involved with the killings! That wasn’t in From a Killer’s Mind. I read it, too. It was good.”

“Your neighbor’s house?  Well, that is a coincidence,” answers the man, his smile spreading. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone. “But it’s definitely in the book. It’s right here. Look.”

“It’s the section where the writer, ah,” the man steps closer and looks around, suddenly whispering conspiratorially, holding out his phone to you. “Where the writer talks about the supernatural stuff. Some people say it’s just tin-hat craziness, or maybe covering lazy police-work, but not me. I think the stories are real.”

You warily take the phone and look at the loaded page, but you don’t see anything about your neighbor’s house.

“What are you talking about?” you accuse. “There’s nothing in here about my neighbor’s house?!”

“It’s there. Look again,” says the man with stale breath. “It’s there. The gory killings.  The supernatural shockers. Fear and suspense. The killer’s dark background. How he became who he was. It’s all there, friend.”

“What are you talking about?” you demand, scrolling up and down impatiently. “What about my neighbor’s house? I don’t have time for this...”

“You have the time,” says the man, his tone suddenly different. “You’ll learn all about it.”

“About wha...” you start, pushing the phone back to the man, when pain flashes at the base of your skull, sending stars floating in your vision. You feel yourself going limp as you fall towards the ground, but land instead in inky, numb blackness.

If you liked this, try my book, From A Killer’s Mind.

About the author:

Jason Helford is a first time author, having recently published his debut novel, From a Killer’s Mind, in July of 2013. He’s a devoted husband and father, an avid comic book collector and an enthusiastic craft beer drinker. Prizing originality and creativity more than anything else, his favorite authors are Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk, Ray Bradbury, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Robert Asprin and Albert Camus. Please don’t be offended if you are an author and your name wasn’t mentioned, he probably likes you, too. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Bella, his daughter, Maddie, and his goofy dog, Sunset.

Connect with the author:
Website | Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Kobo

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Featured Author: Natalie Kleinman

Natalie Kleinman is here today to talk about her contemporary romance novel, Voyage of Desire, published by Safkhet Publishing.

About the book:

What do you do when you discover your boyfriend of two years is married to someone else?
Beth Walker seeks to escape her heartbreak by taking temporary work on a cruise ship. Instead, on the very first day she meets Ryan Donovan and is drawn to him by his soft Irish lilt and mischievous eyes. Her plan to forswear men recedes like the waves at the stern of the ship...but it isn't quite that simple. There are many obstacles that stand in the way of her happiness – and then she learns she is pregnant.

It seems her problems may only just be beginning. Antagonism between Beth and Ryan abounds and there are misunderstandings aplenty. Can these two warring factions find a happy ever after? Find out what happens in Voyage of Desire.

Interview with Natalie Kleinman

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

I’ve been writing for over ten years now. Having given up an Open University course because it was taking too much of my time, I looked for something to fill the gap and joined a ten-week-long council run course. Of course, the joke is I now spend far more time writing than I ever did studying.

What’s the story behind the title Voyage of Desire?

Beth runs away from a broken romance to work on a cruise ship. Determined to put men behind her, she nevertheless meets Ryan and finds she is overwhelmed by desires she didn’t even know she was capable of.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

No, it is a full-time job.

How did you create the plot for this book?

I’m a panster. I liked the idea of a cruise ship as the setting for a story. I began with Beth running away and after that it wasn’t up to me any more – I went where it took me.

I hear you. What’s your favorite line from a book?

"Beth glanced at the seal as they sailed past. It was still looking mournful. She was feeling a lot better."

How do you get to know your characters?

They tell me. They present their appearance and personality almost immediately. I’m not quite sure how this happens, but I rarely have to ‘edit’ my characters.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Ryan. He’s only gorgeous.

What would your main character say about you?

I hope she would say that I’m sympathetic.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

No, none of them.

Is your book based on real events?

I hope not or someone out there might be lodging a suit against me. No, definitely not.

Are you like any of your characters?

I like to think I’m a bit like Beth...capable and ready to deal with whatever comes along (though I grant you she did run away at the start). Insecure beneath the surface, but then which of us isn’t.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?

None of my characters would ever want to kill me off. They’d sacrifice themselves before they sacrificed me.

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

If I were a man I’d like to be Howard. He plays a minor but key role – and I like him.

Who are your favorite authors?

Lee Child, Harlan reading of choice is thriller or murder mystery though I don’t write them, and Georgette Heyer...who introduced me to romance more years ago than I care to admit and whose writing I enjoy as much today as I did then. 

In that case, can I interest you in a cozy mystery? Sorry, self-promoting is getting to be automatic. What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

An ability to put the book down. As I feel guilty reading during the day, this usually means I only get a few hours’ sleep...and feel dreadful the next day.

Do you have a routine for writing?

Yes, I open my laptop in the morning before breakfast, check my emails, then I write. I occasionally remember to stop for tea/coffee and lunch.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

At the dining room table. I have a designated office but it feels impersonal.

Where’s home for you?

London. Always has been.

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

A Thesaurus.

Why did you decide to publish with Safkhet?

I had an almost immediate response from Will Sutton whose email suggested I might like to stop jumping up and down when I’d assimilated the fact that he’d offered me a contract. Wouldn’t you want to work with somebody with a sense of humour like that?

If only. What’s your favorite candy bar?

I’m a sucker for white chocolate truffles.

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Lots of good books, but I’d just like to pick one out as outstanding and that is Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson.

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

When am I not writing? Seriously, lunch out with friends.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Where I am.

What are you working on now?

I have a pocket novel, Secret Love, being published by People’s Friend/DC Thomson, due out on 17th July. At present I am re-writing the ‘bottom drawer’ first novel. The setting is the same, a Cotswolds town, the hero is another character completely from the original and the point of view is changed from first to third much easier. I’m having fun with it.

Please come back and tell us about it when it's finished!

About the author:

Living with her husband in Blackheath in southeast London, Natalie Kleinman has been writing ever since she abandoned the two-year, brain-addling study of quantum physics and geology at Open University. Now, she is a well-versed, well-written UK author, with publications in such major magazines and newspapers as The Guardian, The People's Friend, ALLAS (Sweden), Hjemmet (Norway), Ireland's Own, That's Life Fast Fiction (Australia) and Woman's Era (India). Her works span romance, science-fiction, and thriller genres.

For Natalie, writing is a compulsion she cannot resist, nor does she want to. She says her greatest gift is a husband who is not only wonderfully understanding and supportive but also plies her with copious quantities of tea – and sometimes chocolate. And he cooks!

Connect with Natalie:
Webpage | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book:
Amazon | Smashwords 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Guest Post from Christoph Fischer

Christoph Fischer was here last week with an interview and excerpt from his new novel, Time to Let Go, a book that deals with the issue of Alzheimer's disease. I'm glad to have him back today with a guest post in which he talks about the real woman who inspired his novel; Alzheimer's disease; the airlines industry (another subject of the book); and memory. As I mentioned in Christoph's previous post, my mother had Vascular dementia, a sister to Alzheimer's, and I can say firsthand that Christoph's observances are spot on. I'm happy to have Christoph here today to shed some light on the issue of dementia and to talk more about his book.

About the book:

Time to Let Go is a contemporary family drama set in Britain.

Following a traumatic incident at work Stewardess Hanna Korhonen decides to take time off work and leaves her home in London to spend quality time with her elderly parents in rural England. There she finds that neither can she run away from her problems, nor does her family provide the easy getaway place that she has hoped for. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer's disease and, while being confronted with the consequences of her issues at work, she and her entire family are forced to reassess their lives.

The book takes a close look at family dynamics and at human nature in a time of a crisis. Their challenges, individual and shared, take the Korhonens on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.

Guest Post by Christoph Fischer

“The Real Biddy Korhonen”

I grew up with only a few friends and with two older siblings who were miles ahead of me in their lives. My mother was a busy woman, and so I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house. She had always wanted to have four children but lost one child at birth. Her other three children were much older and didn’t need her much anymore, so my visits to her house filled a gap for her, in the same way as her attention to me filled a need in me. A match made in heaven. 
Philomena, or Minna, as we called her, remained a source of happiness and encouragement throughout my life. I was always welcome and treated like a precious gift. She smoked, but she outlived both of her sisters (taken in their 40s by cancer). 

In her late 70s,  Minna was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Well, I thought, at least she lives, belittling her misfortune without much awareness.

The next time I saw her, her trademark happiness, however, seemed far away. She was crying bitterly because she had lost her hearing aid, a very expensive one, too. Suddenly her life seemed to revolve around retrieving things. She was spared the physical pain of her sisters, but she suffered severe mental torture.

She fortunately reached a happier stage as medication and care helped reduce the misery in her life, but the attention she needed was a huge toll to the family. Despite her memory loss, she seemed to vaguely recognise me; me, the ‘child’ that lived abroad and who rarely came to visit. She had not lost her warmth and happiness, or maybe she had just regained it after the bad patch I mentioned earlier.

Very recently I saw her again, almost unrecognisable: withdrawn, very unresponsive and almost reduced to basic functioning. Surprisingly, she could still read, and when I came to see her for a second time, her eyes shone as if she did recognise me. I spoke an emotional goodbye to her and her hand was shaky and excited as she listened to my speech. She even responded by talking, using words that didn’t fit exactly but which expressed an emotion similar to what one would expect from a loving aunt in such a situation.

With her loving kindness in mind I created Biddy, the mother in Time to let Go, a selfless, giving woman, who even in her illness manages to show her innate kindness. I know it would be wrong to praise her for a gift that many other patients do not have, through no fault of their own. Losing one’s memory and control of one’s life is a terrible thing that you can only understand when it happens to you.

Time to Let Go is partly meant as a tribute to my brave aunt and to the wonderful people who help make her life dignified and as happy as is possible.



My book is inspired by personal experiences with sufferers from the disease. Nowadays, almost everyone knows someone who has relatives with Alzheimer's and gradually stories and anecdotes about these patients have entered the social dinner party circuit and become common knowledge.

Alzheimer's is a dreadful disease that cannot be easily understood in its gravity and the complex, frustrating and far reaching consequences for the victims and their families. There are different stages of the disease as it progresses and patients can move through them at different paces and in varying intensity. My book does not attempt to be a complete representation or a manual of how to deal with the disease. The illness affects every patient differently and there are many stories to tell and many aspects to cover. I hope that I can bring some of those issues to the surface and help to make the gravity of the disease more prominent. I did, however, decide to stay firmly in fiction and family drama territory, and not to write a dramatized documentary on the subject.

I have witnessed several different approaches to handling the disease by both individuals and entire families, and I have learned that the people involved in every case need to work out what is best for them. In my book, a family work out their particular approach, which is right for them. They have different ideas about it and need to battle it out. These clashes fascinated me and I felt they were worth exploring.

Issues of caring at home, mobile care assistance or institutionalising patients are personal and, depending on where in the world you are, every family has very different options or limitations. The ending in my book must be seen in that context: as an individual ‘best’ solution that uniquely fits the Korhonen family.

As point of first reference and for a more comprehensive and scientific overview of information and help available, I recommend: in the UK, and in the US. 
There are support groups, helplines, and many other sources available in most countries. These will be able to advise specifically for each  individual situation.
(Note from Amy: I found to be extremely helpful. I highly recommend it.)

I can also recommend Because We Care by Fran Lewis. This fantastic book has a comprehensive appendix with more or less everything you need to know about the disease: its stages, personal advice on caring, information, tools and help available in the US.

For consistency, I exclusively used material relating to a medium-advanced stage of the disease. To protect the privacy and dignity of the patients that inspired the story I have altered all of the events and used both first and secondhand experiences and anecdotes. Nothing in this book has actually happened in that way. Apart from some outer parallels between my characters and patients I witnessed, any similarities with real people, alive or dead, are coincidental and unintended.



The airline plot is not based on any real incident but is inspired by my own imagination. I used to work for an airline and so naturally, much of Hanna’s life is based on my own experience of 15 years flying. I lived with the awareness that every time a call bell goes off on a plane this could be a matter of life and death. What happens to Hanna in the book has never happened to me or anyone close to me. My flying life was not that extraordinary. Fortunately. 
But every year airline crew are retrained in emergency procedures and aviation medicine, and at least during those intense yearly re-training sessions, your mind cannot help considering the possibilities of such events.

The modern trend of the ‘suing- and compensation-culture’ and the extent of it in some cases worries me a little, which is why some of that concern found its way into the book.

The lifestyle of cabin crew and pilots is often falsely glorified as a glamorous string of free holidays and leisure. A recent crew strike in the UK has brought the profession into disrepute in the media as fat cats and lazy bones. My book aims to shed a bit of light on the realities of flying. I enjoyed the life and would not want to miss the experience, but it is a tough life that demands huge personal sacrifices and flexibility, sleep deprivation on a massive scale, and exposure to aggressive and abusive behaviour by a consumerist clientele. In the global trend of cost cutting, salaries are going down and what used to be a career is at risk of becoming a minimum wage job handed to people who have no experience and who have no incentive to give it their all.

My book is a tribute to my former colleagues in the airline industry, who, in my opinion, are unsung heroes and a bunch of wonderful, hard-working and very caring people.



What makes Alzheimer's so terrible? What is it that makes a memory so important to one’s life that people compare its horrors to pain-inflicting diseases like cancer? You are alive and physically well, you eat and function as a human, but as an Alzheimer patient you are bound to be suffering, frustrated, depressed and unhappy.

Of course it is ridiculous to compare the two diseases, but while a cancer patient has still their awareness and choices, the Alzheimer sufferer is losing the core of their being, everything they ever were. 

How can you define yourself if you cannot remember? You have had children, but you won’t recognise them. You won awards, had a successful career, made people happy, but you don’t know any of it. Who are you and what are you doing on the planet? Who are the people around you? As the disease progresses, these things become more intense and you can live in a mental prison of fear and disorientation. Your brain won’t do as you want it to. The fear of losing ‘it’ altogether, for some is impossible to bear. You are about to lose everything that was ever precious to you.

That thought is frightening to all of us. It can happen to all of us. The worst stage seems to be when patients still notice that something is wrong. We all know how annoying it is when we just put something down and don’t remember where. Imagine that happening to you all the time, every day, and you get an idea of how it might feel. The carers see their loved ones slowly drift away into a stranger.

Biddy’s husband Walter in my novel becomes obsessed with preserving memories – his own and others. He begins to write a family chronicle as a constructive outlet for his fears. He is an important character with his musings about preserving knowledge, memories and facts, and he allowed me to bring in thoughts about the disease on a different and more reflective level.

I hope that I have managed to write about more than just the clinical side of the disease. I stuck to the early stages of Alzheimer's in the story because it gave me the best opportunities to work these thoughts into the story. It allows me to look back at Biddy’s past but with still a lot of hope.

About the author:

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border. After a few years in Hamburg he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath.  He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in libraries, museums and for a major airline. He completed the historical Three Nations Trilogy last year, which included: The Luck of the Weissensteiners, Sebastian, and The Black Eagle Inn.

Connect with Christoph:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | 

Buy the book:

Did you know?
In addition to writing, Christoph and I have something else in common: we both own
Labradoodles. In fact, Wilma, one of Christoph's three Labradoodles, just had puppies (go to his Facebook page or his blog for adorable pictures!). This little nugget of trivia really isn't relevant to this blog, but the picture Christoph sent me is just too darn cute not to post. Congratulations, Papa Christoph!

And Christoph asked, and I delivered... here's an up close and personal  picture (left) of my Cooper.