Friday, May 29, 2015

Featured Author: Colleen Helme


Shelby Nichols isn’t your average soccer-mom turned private investigator. She’s more on the quirky side with a little wild thrown in. That’s because a near-fatal gunshot wound to the head left her with the ability to read minds. This lands her in all kinds of trouble, and this time is no exception. Helping a reporter, Billie Jo, get the low-down on a case is just the tip of the iceberg. When her best friend’s niece goes missing, Shelby is pulled into a conspiracy that involves the police and the leader of a violent drug ring. Add to that a stranger in town with ties to the mob-boss she works for, along with a known assassin out to kill him, and Shelby is crossing danger at every turn. Will she find the answers in time? Or will this be her last adventure?


Colleen, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
I’m a little dorky when it comes to writing a book. I say that, because even though I know basically what the book is about when I start, I have to come up with a working title to really get going. It’s almost like the title is my muse. Crossing Danger fit perfectly for where I wanted to go with this book, and in the end, couldn’t have been a better match. I don’t know if that’s because I got the title first and wrote to that, or it was just what I wanted to do with the book!

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
This book is part of the Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, but each book has a beginning, middle and an end, so they can definitely be read as stand-alones. Each book revolves around Shelby with many of the same main characters, so you get to see them grow and how they handle different situations. I like to think of each book as an epic episode in the Shelby Nichols Series.

What’s your favorite memory?
When my youngest son was 13, he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Surgery was successful, but he endured 8 months of radiation and chemotherapy. The summer after he finished his treatments, our whole family went on a tour of Scotland through the wonderful Make-A-Wish program. We visited 12 Castles and even spent the night in one. It was simply magical, and I will never forget that amazing trip, or the joy it brought to my son and family after a difficult and stressful time.

What brings you sheer delight?
Five star reviews! LOL – I love to connect with my readers and hear how enchanted they are by my books. It’s such a delight to know my writing brings pleasant hours of entertainment to others. I’m serious when I say that it’s the fans of the series that keep me writing.

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
I think I’d like to be smarter... but without other people, who’d care?

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
It comes from Carrots, the first Shelby Nichols Adventure. “There are times when a satisfying lie is better than the awful truth.” That was the question that brought about the whole challenge of Shelby’s predicament as a mind-reader, since she always knows the awful truth!

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
That I was fun to be with and had an infectious laugh!

What would your main character say about you?
She’d tell me I need to get out more and stop thinking so much about her!

How did you create the plot for this book?
After the last book, Deep in Death, Shelby was traumatized by a serial killer, so I knew I wanted her to be a little more pro-active in this one. She decides to take Aikido (a martial art) so something like that won’t happen to her again. There were also other threads left open from that book to explore, like Uncle Joey’s mysterious friend from the past as well as Shelby’s friendship with a journalist. That was the basis, and from there I just went with it. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, so even though I have a general direction and know basically where I want to end up, I don’t have an outline, which means I generally spend a lot of time in my head trying to figure out how I’m going to get Shelby out of the mess I got her in.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
My best friend, Holly, is Shelby’s best friend in the books. In Crossing Danger, she plays a bigger role since this time, her niece goes missing. The niece part is made up, but it was a lot of fun to have her play a bigger part in the book. She read it and thought it was a lot of fun. So . . . beware. I have been known to put people I know in my books!

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)? 
I am currently reading Red Hot Steele (Daggers & Steele Book 1) on my Kindle. It was on sale and looked intriguing, but I just started so I can’t say much about it yet.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
Use of extreme profanity in an otherwise great story. I don’t mind the “f” word once in a while, but too much of it and I just have to put the book down. 

Why did you decide to self-publish?
I have been both self-published and traditionally published (with a small press), and being on both sides, I have to say that for me, self-publishing has been a wonderful experience. I love having total control over my book – from the book cover to the release date. It is a lot of work but I have found great people to work with (editors, cover artists, formatting), and I am not bound to anyone in my ability to promote. This works for me because I do this for a living and I am pro-active and a self-starter. I also make a lot more money. I have recently received the rights back for my traditionally published books and I’m excited to self-publish them!

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 would definitely recommend for cover art – they are wonderful, and I love all my covers. I also bought the interior formatting from, and have found them easy to work with. My editor happens to be my niece and she is awesome, so I’m lucky that way. Also, I found a wonderful producer, Wendy Tremont King, through who has produced all of the Shelby Nichols Adventures for audible. She is the voice of Shelby Nichols, and I’m so lucky to have her. Please visit Audible for a sample of her work! She’s awesome!

What are you working on now?
The next Shelby Nichols Adventure. Volume 8 is going to be filled with excitement and danger because Shelby is going to Paris!! I guess that means I’d better go too . . . so I can do some research! Now that is going to be an adventure!


As the author of the Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, Colleen is often asked if Shelby Nichols is her alter-ego. “Definitely,” she says. “Shelby is the epitome of everything I wish I dared to be.” Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby’s adventures. “I love getting Shelby into trouble . . . I just don’t always know how to get her out of it!” Colleen lives in the Rocky Mountains with her family. Besides writing, she loves a good book, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.

Connect with Colleen:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads    


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Featured Author: Susan Pashman


Meet Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women’s History, and her husband, a high-ranking environmental policymaker in the New York City mayor’s office. Once a pair of student radicals, they are now raising their two brainy children on New York’s Upper West Side.

Here is the tale of their fierce parental love as it is tested in a startling eruption of racial hostility and political chicanery within the very community they have long loved and helped to build. Despite the deep love and affection they have for each other, their domestic life is suddenly thrown into crisis by a shocking and tragic event: During a school field trip, their son Max and his best friend, Cyrus, are horsing around when, in a freak accident, Cyrus falls down a flight of stairs, and dies a few days later.

The fact that Cyrus is black, that his mother is Bettina’s closest friend–that jealousy, suspicion and resentment have long been simmering in the community, and that there are powerful political forces at work as well–all conspire to reveal an ugly underbelly of the community the Grosjeans have worked so hard to fashion into a model of an enlightened, multiracial world.

Upper West Side Story is also the story of a remarkable multi-racial friendship, of two women united by their ideals and their devotion to their children, then divided by events that spiral out of control.

With cries for racial justice rising up all around our country, we must stop and consider how recent headlines are impacting our children, kids raised to believe in an America that is different from the one now showing its face.

Susan, what’s the story behind the title Upper West Side Story?
For years - yes, it took years to write this book - its title was An Interpretation of Dreams in reference to Martin Luther King's "dream" which the main characters share. The idea was that the dream doesn't always work out as well as you hope and you might be sorry you dreamed it. But then an editor asked for a snappier title and I began to think of where the novel is set: on New York City's Upper West Side. The story, which involves racial conflict that nearly destroys its characters, was, in that respect, like West Side Story. Suddenly it all fell into place. I said the name over a few times and fell in love with it.

Where’s home for you?
Although I grew up in the Bronx in New York and later moved to Brooklyn Heights, a leafy neighborhood in what is now the center of New York's most chic literary neighborhood, I spent my summers at the shore in a tiny whaling village, Sag Harbor. Once my sons were grown, I realized I could leave my job as an attorney, a career I'd taken on only for the money, and move to my childhood Eden. I love the sea and the very intimate little village where everyone knows everyone. It makes people behave.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
The same purchase that was the dumbest a lot of people have made, an exercise bicycle. I actually waited for months for Hammacher Schlemmer to re-stock this particular item. It was a good buy, and I hoped it would help make up for the exercise I lose when I can't walk in the very cold winters we have out here. But by the time the bike was back in stock and sent out to me - by the time I managed to assemble it - I'd given up on the whole idea. I think this must be a very common experience as I always find exercise bikes at tag sales.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
A lack of energy for a particular project is a sure sign it's not your project. Instead of battling away at it, drop it and move on to something that creates its own energy.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
The most daring thing I've ever done was decide to get a divorce when I had two very young sons and only the income of a philosophy professor. I had to stop teaching philosophy, which I loved, and put myself through law school, which I disliked intensely. But even worse, I had to work in a large Wall Street law firm for ten years. It was the worst thing I ever did. Huge regrets about all of it.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?

See above.

What makes you bored?

Commercials on TV. Especially the ones for medicines. I hate hearing the horrid side effects being repeated over and over. If you stop watching the distracting images and actually listen to those side effects, you can begin to feel pretty sick.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I never really decided to go to law school. I was living on grant funding for running a project about the lives of women in the suburbs when my mother called, and we had a sobering discussion about how my kids and how I would live after the grant funds ran out. My mother pretty much ordered me to go to law school. I should have had the guts to refuse.

If someone gave you $5,000 and said you must solve a problem, what would you do with the money?
I'd give it in smaller amounts to women in Africa who are trying to start their own businesses. You can get a huge bang for your buck with this sort of micro venture capitalism. A woman is transformed by owning her own business and many women make excellent business persons.

What makes you happy?
A day when I feel a great sense of accomplishment. When I've written something challenging and done a good job of it. Of course, the next morning I might think differently about what I have accomplished. But I love to sit down to a late night binge of "Law and Order" as a reward for a good day's work.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I am a philosopher by training and vocation, and I teach philosophy every year because it is how I keep learning. But even philosophy involves me in writing. I am working on a book now that is mostly a philosophy book, a search for a contemporary meaning to Sabbath-keeping.

How did you meet your husband? Was it love at first sight?

Yes. In fact the "sight" on which we met was an online dating site. This is a second marriage for both of us. We were a celebrity couple because we had met online at quite advanced ages. If you Google me, you can read about our meeting and our wedding, as it was featured in the "Vows" column of the Sunday New York Times.

What brings you sheer delight?

Babies. Recollections of early motherhood, before the real problems set in. The fragrance of a baby's milky breath, the fragrance of a baby's oily scalp. I love the tiny toes, the fat thighs, and the way a baby smells. (In a fresh diaper, of course.)

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?

Well, I'm no idiot, and so I am probably lonelier than I might otherwise be. But I simply can't imagine having a less active mind than the one I have.

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

I once heard someone say that he thought anyone who had a choice would surely choose to live in Italy. I recently spent a month in the small Tuscan walled city of Lucca and never wanted to leave it.

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
That I opened a lot of minds and expanded several lives.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
All of my characters are based on real people. My main characters are usually based on people who have, for some reason or other, infuriated me. I have these characters learn some very important lesson by their folly. But even minor characters are always based on someone I have known. That's how I can easily just pick off their characteristics. Some writers keep charts in front of them when they write so they remember their characters' hair color, weight, etc. I never have to do that. I know what these people look like, how the talk and what they are likely to say because I've met them.

Is your book based on real events?
I invent all the events in my books that make up the plot. I pick real life models for characters and then put them into made-up situations. but often some of the backstory comes from stories about real people. In this novel, for example, the adventures the two young boys have are drawn from things that happened to my own two sons.

Who are your favorite authors?

James Salter is my absolutely favorite author. No one can touch him. His metaphors are fresh and surprising; they do what true art must do: they make you see the familiar in an entirely new way. His prose is virile and stunning; every sentence is a perfectly crafted jewel. From this it should be clear that style, more than content, is what interests me. I also love Nabokov, particularly Ada, which is a stylistic tour de force.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I write absolutely alone, upstairs in my house where there is nothing but my writing room. I write on a huge old desktop computer which is not connected to the internet so nothing can ever corrupt those files. The room is painted a warm orange color which I find not only cheering but also very stimulating. I've been told that after two hours, any writer is exhausted so I try to stop after two hours and take a break to do something with my hands: cooking, gardening, housework. When I go back to writing, I go back to where I started and edit what I've written to get me into the groove again.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
The best compliment was the entire review of this book written by Diane Donovan for Midwest Review of Books. I was flying for days after I read it. Not only did Donovan totally get what I was trying to do, she is not a New Yorker, and I was afraid that my book was a city book that might not be understood by a mid-westerner. I love what she wrote and that she was the one who wrote it. You can read her review at my website.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
Most writers will tell you that sex scenes are hard to write. It's hard to keep them from getting cliche or embarrassing. I had a lot of difficulty with what I call the "almost sex" scene in which a clumsy attempt doesn't come off. It had to be humiliating and also a bit comical for both parties. Getting it just right was a challenge.

Why did you decide to publish with Harvard Square Editions?
I had a few options, none of them dream-options. I chose not to self-publish because there are many reviewers and outlets, including many stores, that will not deal with self-published books and I wanted the widest possible distribution for this book. Of the small presses that were interested, I chose Harvard probably in part for sentimental reasons: I had studied landscape design at Harvard for five years and then taught there at the Landscape Institute. I love Cambridge and miss the days I spent traveling there and staying for two or three days a week. I'm looking forward to visiting some of the bookstores there and doing some readings in Cambridge and nearby towns. I feel more comfortable in Boston and the surrounding area than I have ever felt in NYC.

How did you find Harvard Square Editions and how long did your query process take?

I found my publisher the old-fashioned way: by being persistent and being willing to change and change again the things editors objected to. In the end, I had a better book at the end - of fourteen long years - than I had when I started. Of course, I did a lot of other things while those fourteen years dragged by. I bought some land, designed and built a house, found a great guy and married him, published many short stories and essays, studied landscape design for five years to earn a certificate at Harvard, earned an M.A. in landscape at The Inchbald School of Design in London and then earned a PhD in Philosophy for a thesis on Landscape Aesthetics at SUNY Stony Brook. So the saga of getting this novel published is a long and varied one. My first novel, The Speed of Light, was written in less than a year and found a small press publisher in about a year. A much better way to go.


Susan Pashman is a philosophy professor and former attorney. While in law school, she served a year in the New York City Council President’s office; some of what she learned there has found its way into this story. But most of this book derives from her experience of raising two boys on her own in Brooklyn. Many of her sons’ childhood exploits, and the hopes and fears she had for them, became the heart of this novel.

She now resides in Sag Harbor, New York, with her husband, Jack Weinstein.

Connect with Susan:
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Featured Author: Jennifer Ammoscato


Oh, don’t judge me, people. We
 all do it.

Don’t try to tell me that you’ve never checked that weird mole on your thigh on WebMD. Or how to fold meringue on Epicurious. And, there’s no way that I’m the only one who clears her search history after looking up how to give a great bl— (Um, that last one’s not important.)

When newspaper reporter Avery Fowler discovers her husband is having an affair, the online help site is where she turns to navigate this challenging stage of her life.

If the Internet is Avery’s information god, then is her Holy Grail. Its live chat option is like having a virtual life coach for the low, low price of $14.95 a month:
When I joined, it assigned me “Clementine” as my advisor, based on my choice of “British female” in the Preferences panel. That way, I can pretend that a Maggie Smith or Judi Dench type supplies the wisdom, tinged with a sassy touch of malt vinegar. (In reality, it’s most likely a bored, seventeen-year-old boy labouring in a New Delhi call centre.)

Add into the mix a new boss whose managerial style calls to mind the Wicked Bitch Witch of the West — or the Anti-Christ — and the poor girl needs all the help she can get! The stakes rise and hilarity ensues as our heroine struggles to take control of her personal life and topple her boss after she learns Victoria’s guilty secret.

With Clementine (virtually) in tow, our heroine tackles such tricky situations as dating after divorce, sex once nothing points north anymore, and how to cover attempted murder scenes (despite a paralyzing fear of blood) as the new and improved Avery Fowler 2.0.

Please visit CLP Blog Tours for all the tour stops!


Jennifer, what’s the story behind the title Dear Internet, It's Me, Avery?

The title reflects Avery’s emotional journey. She’s a woman who has no faith in her ability to make decisions. Instead, she turns to Clementine, her online muse at who provides advice 24/7. The Internet is her crutch, her confidante, her shoulder to cry on. Of course, it can’t end well. 

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?

This is Book 1 in the Avery Fowler 2.0 series. The series will trace Avery’s continual evolution to become the new and improved Avery — the first version needed a reboot. There will be five in total. You won’t absolutely have to read Book 1 to appreciate the others, but it would certainly add to the reading experience to have the context of each before moving on to the next.

If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Manicure/pedicure. Hot red, please! 

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?

The rowing machine I bought last summer and used twice. Slowly.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

That you can’t control much of what happens in life so you might as well get over yourself and laugh. And even cheap wine tastes better when you use an aerator. 

Who would you pick to write your biography?

Dorothy Parker. She was brilliant.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?

That it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. And that skinny arms aren’t such a bad thing. 

What makes you nervous?

The thought of chopping my hair in a pixie ever again.  

What makes you happy?

My husband and children. And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. 

If you could only save only one thing from your house, what would it be?
Assuming all family and pets are safe, my photo albums and videos. I actually keep them in a cupboard by the front door with shopping bags there ready to collect them in if the need ever arises.

What brings you sheer delight?

When someone tells me how much they enjoyed reading my novel.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
England. I’m not picky. Notting Hill would do in a pinch.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

"I think that voice held him most, with its fluctuating, feverish warmth, because it couldn’t be over-dreamed — that voice was a deathless song." The Great Gatsby

What would your main character say about you?

“What a bitch! How could she do that to me?”

How did you create the plot for this book?

It occurred to me that there’s nothing you can’t find on the Internet. How to bake a pie. Fix a dishwasher. Give a great bl— (Never mind about that one). So why not how to figure out your life once everything goes to hell in a handbasket? From there, I simply kept imagining what awful (or funny) things could happen to Avery next. 

No wonder she's mad at you! Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

No. They’re the usual chick lit suspects: the plucky heroine, the stalwart but lovingly sarcastic friends, the evil boss, a handsome guy (or two). They’re popular characters because people can relate to them. Cheer for them. Laugh with them and cry with them. They’re people you know. That’s comforting.

Is your book based on real events?

Not at all. It simply reflects the reality that many women face today: starting over again when life throws you some very tricky curveballs. I love the theme of someone reaching deep inside themselves to find a strength they didn’t know they had. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them along the way when they trip up, of course. 

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

Bore me to death by making me watch a Storage Wars marathon.

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

Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He gets to live there in the end!

What would your dream office look like (other than a chocolate factory)?

My fantasy office would be an industrial loft with wide-plank hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, a fabulous glass desk that someone else shines, an espresso machine, a fireplace, and a couch. For napping.


jennifer ammoscato Author Jennifer Ammoscato – solving the world’s problems one cosmo at a time. Jennifer Ammoscato is a paid, productive member of society. Frankly, it’s not enough. Therefore, May 2015 will see the launch of her debut novel, Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery (The Avery Fowler 2.0 series, Book I). During the day, she is an intrepid writer/editor for the public relations department of a Canadian university. By night, she fights crime and the urge to organize closets and stuff herself with salted chocolate caramels. Jennifer began writing as a child, producing such classics as The Occurrence (she understood the appeal of werewolves long before Stephenie Meyer). She had to search for the courage to write a novel, though. “That’s so F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. I didn’t know if I had the alcohol capacity for it.” However, after being goaded (sorry, encouraged) by a friend, she took the leap. Dreams do not inspire Jennifer’s books. In fact, they tend to terrify her. In particular, the everpopular naked-at-school or I-have-a-final-exam-and-didn’t-study dreams. She usually just makes stuff up. She is married to her husband, Ezio. As opposed to someone else’s husband (insert name here). She is the proud mom of two very tall sons, Dante and Christian.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Featured Author: Susan Russo Anderson


Abandoned by her father and mourning the sudden loss of her mother, twenty-two-year-old Fina Fitzgibbons eeks out a living by establishing a cleaning service in Brooklyn called Lucy's. But when she finds a body on a busy sidewalk in the heart of the Heights, she dusts off her PI license and begins searching for the killer, only to discover that the strangled woman's four-year-old grandson is missing. A desperate hunt begins for the kidnapped child. During the chase, Fina resists falling in love with her boyfriend, Denny, an NYPD patrol officer, steps on the toes of Detective First Grade Jane Templeton, and uncovers secrets about her mother's death. In the end, the killer has a vicious surprise for Fina.


Susan, how did you create the plot for this book?
I walk to create plot.

What would your main character say about you?
Boring at first and a little wordy, but asks interesting questions.

Are you like any of your characters?
I wish I could be like Lorraine. In the series she’s the character with the long view.

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?
Great question. It would be Ralph, a character in Too Quiet in Brooklyn, and he’d strangle me by squeezing until he heard the crack. Then he’d say, “Look. No blood, boss.”

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Everything that rises must converge.” -Teilhard de Chardin

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
I’d have a home in Paris and a home in Brooklyn.

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
Her words enriched others.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
“Isn’t it pretty to think so.” It’s the last line in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, but you have to read the book to get it, I mean, really get it.

Who are your favorite authors?
Favorite book of all time: Fell in love with Paris through the hobo in A Family Under the Bridge. But there are lots of writers and books I love: whoever wrote the Nancy Drew books, as well as Georges Simenon, Ross MacDonald, Agatha Christie, James Joyce, not that I understand him, but I love the sound of language, T.S. Eliot, and lots of early twentieth-century American writers, even Hemingway. Love love love A Moveable Feast.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Ann Cleeves, Raven Black (audible); Anne Perry, Death on Blackheath (ebook); John Green, The Fault in our Stars (ebook)

Do you have a routine for writing?
I get up in the morning and write, which I do until noon. I work on two books at one time, writing a first draft in the morning, editing in the afternoon. After editing, I market (work on a marketing plan). When I take a break, I walk, which is how I plot or listen to a book or music. I read in the late afternoon until dinner. While watching TV, I tweet and Facebook.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
In my latest book, I killed a character I really liked. It took me a long time to do it, too, and many days of deciding, finally, I had to do it. First she was fed Rohypnol, one of the date rape drugs. While in the hospital recovering, she was hit over the head, finally killed by an overdose of potassium chloride. So she died by degrees.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
Park Ridge public library. It was my first library, and it still looks and smells the same after all these years.


Susan Russo Anderson is a writer, a mother, a grandmother, a widow, a graduate of Marquette University, a member of Sisters in Crime. She has taught language arts and creative writing, worked for a publisher, an airline, an opera company. She lived in Brooklyn for fourteen years and misses it. Like Faulkner’s Dilsey, she’s seen the best and the worst, the first and the last. Through it all, and to understand it somewhat, she writes.

Connect with Susan:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Goodreads


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Guest Post by Carolyn Haines

About the book

Sarah Booth Delaney is heartbroken: her fiancé Graf Milieu has decided to move to Hollywood permanently, leaving their relationship in shambles. Sarah Booth has a perfect distraction, however, in the form of the Black and Orange Halloween ball her best friends are throwing in New Orleans. Sarah Booth plans to dance the night away to the swinging tunes of her old flame Scott Hampton's blues band. But just as the party gets going, Scott receives a mysterious message that threatens his life and the lives of his bandmates. Sarah Booth knows that a new case is just what she needs to take her mind off her failed relationship with Graf, and she's ready to help Scott investigate. And then the message turns from threat to reality when the bartender from Scott's club is gunned down in a drive-by. Enlisting Sheriff Coleman Peters and the rest of her friends from Zinnia, Mississippi, Sarah Booth is caught in a race against the clock as she tries to stop a killer from striking again.

With a twist around every corner, Carolyn Haines will delight readers with Sarah Booth Delaney's latest zany adventure in Bone to be Wild.

Form Versus Formula

    I teach fiction writing at a university, both graduate and undergraduate students. Part of my duties includes working with students on thesis projects. One thing about teaching — if I intend to answer the hard questions serious students ask, I have to learn and keep learning every week.

    After publishing 70 books, I’ve learned some lessons the hard way, and perhaps the students will benefit from my journey. The first thing I tell them is this: The two most important things a writer decides is whose story she’s writing and which POV the writer will use to tell the story. These are crucial. Most books can be only one person’s story. (There are exceptions to everything, so these are general rules.)

    So many young writers want to tell everyone’s story. It’s difficult to learn how to cut out that one story from the herd of great stories and focus on that. It is crucial, though.

    Point of view, whether first or third. (I’m not a huge fan of second person POV for a novel. Short stories, fine. Novels, very difficult.) This decision impacts the structure of your book. In my opinion, most failed novels either have structural flaws or the plot is faulty. The smartest thing to do is focus on the structure before you begin writing. This will save a whole lot of rewriting down the road. And perhaps keep more hair on your head than torn out on the floor!

    Here is where we get to the issue of form versus formula. Many young writers, especially in graduate programs, have disdain for what they consider to be formula fiction. Many genres fall into this student created dump. But what young writers fail to understand is that all artistic endeavors must follow form. Symphonies have movements. Paintings have a flow the eye naturally follows. Songs have verses and a chorus, and poetry has a dozen forms that test the ability of any writer.

    Fiction—or story, if you prefer—also has form. From the first drawings on cave walls, those wishing to impart a story or information had to create a pattern, or form, in which to convey their story. We in America read left to right, top to bottom. It’s the formula of the page. Story must have form or else it is incomprehensible. If a writer just threw scenes in random order into a book, the reader would be lost.

    But some types of books do have a more regimented form than others. Because they meet reader expectation in a particular way. In romance, for instance, happy endings are often part of the story. Readers expect this, and they get very upset if this is tampered with. But what’s wrong with meeting reader expectation? If a happy ending isn’t in the card for your characters, steer clear of the romance market and sell to an audience with different expectations.

    The three-act screenplay for movies has been taught for decades, and the most successful movies ever made bow to this form (or formula, if you insist). I seldom hear screenwriters debating the merits of ‘formula.’ They know to finance the cost of a film, they must meet the expectations of an audience. Only in fiction do I hear disdain for formula. And formula is only a box or prison if a writer doesn’t truly understand how it works.

    Readers love the rise and fall of action, the forward movement of the plot, the growth of the protagonist’s character. Whether it is general fiction, women’s fiction, thriller, mystery, or romance, story is what matters. It is how the writer executes her story that determines whether a book will gather an audience or not. Story trumps everything else.

    Whether you physically write an outline or merely think the story through, relying on character motivations (this should be what drives any story), you will save a lot of time if you study structure. After all, you wouldn’t build a house hurly-burly throwing up walls wherever. You need support for the roof and flow from room to room. Writing a book requires exactly the same thing.

    There’s plenty of freedom here. This isn’t a rigid box. The way you execute story is where you shine as a writer, but a nod to form and structure will make your story tighter and the journey of writing it a lot more pleasant.

About the author

Carolyn Haines has published over 70 books in a number of genres from general fiction to crime novel and cozy mystery. She was awarded the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. She lives on a farm with 22 dogs, cats, and horses and is the sole labor force for Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a 501c3 rescue. She teaches fiction writing at an Alabama university. You can learn more about Carolyn, her rescue, or her crazy life at Or you can join her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Featured Author: Penny C. Sansevieri

About the book

Amazon wants you to sell a lot of books. And How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload teaches you exactly how to do it. Internationally renowned Amazon book marketing expert Penny Sansevieri has created the ultimate guide for mastering the Amazon marketing system.

And in moments it can be right at your fingertips! The savings in time you’ll gain is enormous — when compared to painstakingly researching this information yourself.

When you follow Penny’s time-tested proven formulas you’ll instantly skyrocket the exposure you receive and kick your book promotion campaign into overdrive!

Plus, you can bypass all of the misinformation out there about how Amazon works. That’s because every secret you need to know to understand the Amazon marketing system inside and out is right here. Penny Sanseveri takes you step-by-step through simple and dynamic processes that show you how to:

  • Get top visibility for your book on Amazon
  • Increase sales through perfectly-timed pre-order campaigns
  • Leverage a secret tool to get hundreds of reader reviews
  • Use Kindle Unlimited to your greatest advantage
  • Boost sales by knowing when to give away your e-book – it really works!
  • Use keywords and book descriptions that puts your book in front of tons of buyers
  • Identify and locate secret categories that drive bigger sales

Get your booked ranked #1 in your category!

How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload is your must-read, go-to resource if you want to really understand the inner workings of Amazon, so you can sell more books. Order right now and you’ll also receive these FREE BONUSES:

BONUS #1: Free listings to book bloggers, fiction bloggers, and romance bloggers! Includes hundreds of bonus resources!

DOUBLE BONUS: Includes a special book marketing discount coupon!

Interview with Penny C. Sansevieri  

Penny, what’s the story behind the title How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload?
Funny you should ask, it’s actually part of what I talk about in the book. So I was doing research on Amazon one day to see what searches were popular in regards to what I was writing and I discovered that the keywords in my title (with the exception of the word ‘Truckload’) were very popular so that’s how I named it. I’d love to say that it just popped into my head one day, but it didn’t, it was actually based on keyword research on Amazon.

Where did you grow up?
Well, I grew up in Southern California but also Belgium where I went to school (grade and high school) for ten years. I loved living there!

What’s your favorite memory?
I took my mom to the beaches of Normandy. She was a little girl in Belgium during WWII and she had never been, so we went there and to the American Cemetery and Museum which is incredibly moving.

Have you been in any natural disasters?
I have actually, we were in that fire that raged through California – I think 6 or so years ago. At its height it was chewing through 6,000 acres an hour, and by the time it hit us (with almost no warning) we had 30 seconds to get out of the house. No kidding. Thankfully my house didn’t burn but a lot of them around me did.

WOW! What is the most daring thing you've done, besides staying in your house too long in a fire?
Starting a business. No, really. I’ve been in business for fifteen years, and I can tell you that it’s the hardest and the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I love it, but it’s not for the faint of heart

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?

I was a geek as a teenager, I loved to read, study, etc. I wasn’t big on fashion or up on pop culture, and I always felt like an outsider. I wish I had known then that it was okay to be a geek, that geeks rock, and many geek-type people have changed our work. Think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. I’m not even close to being in their league, but it’s nice to know that even a geek can create magic.

What makes you happy?
Well a few things actually. My uber-perfect dog Cosmo, I love traveling in Europe, and last, but certainly not least: I love, love, love it when I get great buzz for an author we’re working with. It’s harder and harder these day to do that, so hitting that mark is pretty thrilling!

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I do! I run Author Marketing Experts, and I’m so fortunate to work with a fantastic group of women who work with our authors and publishers to help them market and promote their work!

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?

All of my books are hard really – the Amazon book which we’re discussing here is hard because Amazon changes what they do all the time, so the book needs to be written fast, produced quickly and updated frequently. It’s not a matter of "set it and forget it." I want the most current information out there. I’m a stickler for that.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
I would love to be Sydney Bristow from Alias – if you’ve never seen the show it stars Jennifer Garner, and many stars, like Bradley Cooper, got their start there. It’s also on Netflix! She is a super spy and kicks some serious a**, she always gets the bad guy.

I used to watch that show and love it! What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
Great question! Years ago when I published the first edition of Red Hot Internet Publicity, there was a blogger who hated it – and I mean *hated* it. It was hard to read his review, and in fact, I thought for a moment about writing the person back. But I opted not to, I mean, what’s the point? Then, after a glass of wine and rocking in the corner, I realized that amidst some of his less–than-kind remarks, there were in fact some good tidbits and things I fixed the next time around. But I never pitched him for a book review again. Just sayin’

What would your dream office look like?
Minions, there would be lots of minions.

I love it! What are you working on now? 
Funny you should ask, I’m working on the next edition of Red Hot Internet Publicity!

About the author

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." 

AME was the first book marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically harnesses social networking sites, Twitter, blogs, book videos, and relevant sites in order to push an author’s message into the online community. AME has had over eleven books top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her website

Connect with Penny:

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Pinterest  ~  Google +

To enter the giveaway to win an Amazon Optimization Package, go here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Guest Post by Miriam Auerbach

About the book

Patients at a posh Boca Raton rehab center are ending up stiffer than a Boca babe’s smile. Tough PI Harriet Horowitz, once a bedazzled babe herself, signs in at The Oasis at the request of a frightened friend.

As a pattern emerges in the murders, it’s clear the killer is targeting patients with an unusual addiction. How did they end up with the same drug problem at the same time and in the same rehab together? Harriet’s sleuthing leads her down a path of secrets and danger, and what she learns could lead her undercover assignment to a dead end.

Guest Post by Miriam Auerback


Boca Raton, Florida, has been hailed as the Beverly Hills of the East Coast. Now, to me, that’s a claim that cries out for corroboration. So let’s see – what are the commonalities between Beverly Hills and Boca? Opulent mansions and beautiful shopping areas? Check.  Young blonde women precariously balancing a size sixteen stack atop a size two tuchus?  Check. But frankly, I think they’ve got it backwards – it should be Beverly Hills that aspires to be the Boca of the West Coast. After all, we’ve got some home-grown beauts that they can’t shake a stick at.  Namely, we’ve got Boca Babes.  What, you may ask, is a Boca Babe?  Here are some clues:

•    If you live in a house the size of a jumbo jet hangar, then you are likely a Boca Babe.
•    If you don’t talk to anyone who doesn’t own anything made by Prada, then you just might be a Boca Babe.
•    If Neiman Marcus is #1 on your cell phone speed dial, you might be a Boca Babe.
•    If you’ve had diamond studs soldered into your earlobes, you could be a Boca Babe.
•    If your dog owns more clothing and toys that some people’s children, you just might be a Boca Babe.
•    If the only thing you know how to make for dinner is reservations, you are probably a Boca Babe.
•    And if you are all these things but you’ve hit the big 4-0, then you’re no longer a Boca Babe – you’re now a Botox Babe.

In sum, Boca Babes are high-maintenance, highly enhanced, high-end consumers married to high-income men. To illustrate, here is a pic of me posing as a Boca Babe (no, really, I’m just posing – this is not my everyday appearance!).

My series protagonist, Harriet Horowitz, is an ex-Boca Babe. Why an ex? Here’s the thing: a rich husband, no matter how revolting, is the price of admission to the Boca Babe Club. Harriet’s husband was indeed revolting. He abused her for ten years. Finally she’d had enough. One day when her husband raised his fists at her one last time, she told him, “Go ahead – make my day.” He obliged, and she shot him through the heart – with his (now hers) .44 Magnum.

Due to the influence of a wealthy friend, the local Boca philanthropist Contessa von Phul, Harriet’s act was ruled justifiable homicide. And Harriet embarked on a new identity – Dirty Harriet – and new life. She sold everything, bought a Harley, and moved to a desolate cabin in the Everglades. She swapped swank for swamp, indulgence for independence. 

Harriet embarked on a new career as well: she opened up her own private eye agency, ScamBusters. And business is booming. Boca’s got a slew of scams. Investment scams, insurance scams, immigration scams – you name it, we’ve got it. So Harriet is doing just fine as a ScamBuster. But occasionally, murder intrudes. So far, Harriet has had four murderous adventures in the Dirty Harriet Mystery Series, including the latest, Boca Undercover.

But I don’t think Boca Babes are confined to Boca.  What do you think – do you have a version of Boca Babes in your town?

About the author

Miriam Auerbach is the author of a satirical mystery series set in Boca Raton, Florida and featuring Harley-riding, wisecracking female private eye Harriet Horowitz. Her debut novel, Dirty Harriet, won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best First Series Romance. Miriam can only assume that this is because the heroine kills her husband on page one. In a parallel universe, Miriam is known as Miriam Potocky, professor of social work at Florida International University in Miami. She lives in South Florida with her husband and their multicultural canines, a Welsh Corgi and a Brussels Griffon.

Connect with Miriam:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads   

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Featured Author: B.L. Blair

About the book:

Leaving Emily was Mitch’s greatest mistake.  Can she forgive him?

Growing up, Mitch Carson had always dreamed of leaving Holton, Texas, traveling the world, and writing life altering stories. As an investigative journalist, he made those dreams come true, but he left behind the only woman he ever loved. That was his greatest mistake. Mitch has returned home to see if she can forgive him for leaving her when she needed him the most.

In high school, Emily Fairview had fallen deeply, madly, and completely in love with Mitch. The two of them planned a life together far away from Holton, but when Emily’s family needed her, she chose to stay. Mitch chose to leave. Fifteen years later Mitch is back and wants a second chance, but Emily doesn’t know if she can forgive him.

Return to Holton, Texas one last time to see if Mitch can get Emily to forgive him.  Forgive Me is the fourth and final book in the Holton Series but may be read as a standalone novel.

Excerpt from Forgive Me

“Paul seemed pretty excited about that ad campaign,” Emily said after a moment of silence.

Mitch glanced at her and nodded. “Advertising is his passion.”

“What?” she asked.

“His passion,” Mitch repeated. “You know the thing he loves.”

Emily cocked her head and gave him a smile. “I thought Rachel was his passion.”

Mitch laughed. “Well, yeah, that’s a given. But advertising is also a passion. It gets his juices flowing. He loves it. You can tell. I believe everyone has at least one passion.  It may not always be a healthy one, but everyone has to have something that drives them.”

“What do you mean?”

“Take Steven, for example,” he said to her. Emily looked over at his brother. “You know him pretty well. What do you think is the most important thing to him?”

“Anna,” she said promptly. “Well, and Mia. And your parents, you, and Tori.” She stopped and laughed. “I guess that’s more than one thing.”

“No. You got it right. It’s family. Steven has always been a family guy. Has always wanted to be with his family, in his hometown. That’s his passion.”

“Hmm,” Emily said thinking. “Do you have a passion?”

“Sure, I have three.”

“Three?  What are they?”

He shot her a sly look. “You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine.”

He hadn’t expected the sad look that crossed her face. She didn’t respond. He reached for her hand and squeezed. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“I don’t think I have a passion,” she whispered.

“Sure, you do.” She shook her head so he continued. “You’re passionate about computers.”

She thought about it for a minute. “Not really. I mean I like working with them. I enjoy teaching about them, but I don’t think I can call it a passion.” She paused. “I really don’t have a passion.”

“Well, then, I guess we will have to find you one.”

About the author

B. L. Blair writes simple and sweet romance and mystery/romance stories.  Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started.  She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Holton Romance Series and the Leah Norwood Mysteries.  She enjoys reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows.  She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

Connect with the author:
Website Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cover Reveal for Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville

About the book

In 1920s Galveston, society reporter Jazz Cross is in for a surprise when she attends a traveling vaudeville show with her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, and sees an old flame in the production.  That night, they find a stabbing victim behind the Oasis — her half-brother Sammy’s speakeasy — who’s identified as an actor in the troupe. When the victim disappears and later turns up dead, Jazz must help prove that Sammy wasn’t the killer. After a second vaudeville actor is found dead, Jazz discovers that the events behind the scenes are much more interesting than the outdated acts onstage.

To make matters worse, Sammy’s old nemesis demands that he settles a score and forces him into yet another illegal scheme involving the troupe’s money-making ventures. Can Jazz help solve the murders and prove her brother’s innocence—so he can get away from the Downtown Gang for good?

A historical Jazz Age mystery inspired by real-life Galveston gangs and local landmarks. Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville will be out in late spring/early summer.

Check out Goodreads for the book giveaway for Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns through May 25.

Jazz Age Mysteries

About this 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 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 as president of WICI (Women in Communications).

Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets, released in 2013. Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns, the third book in the trilogy, came out in May 2014 and picks up right after BBB.

Collier lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.

"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 until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper's life in Galveston during Prohibition."

Buy Jazz Age Mysteries

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Guest Post by DD Marx

About the book

When Olivia gets news of her best friend Dan’s fatal car accident, her life is shattered. Consumed with grief and struggling to find any meaning or purpose to life, she trudges along with a gaping void in her heart. Finally, when her frustration reaches its peak, Olivia decides to put her trust in the depth of friendship the two of them shared. That trust finally allows him to breakthrough to her, and Dan begins to guide Olivia through the twists and turns of her life, leading to something new and entirely unexpected.

When Olivia exposes a gigantic internal scandal at work, her career implodes. With no job and nowhere to turn, she escapes to Palm Springs for the sympathy and care of her beloved cousin, Garrett. However, with only weeks left before the opening of his newest store, “Gin and Tonic,” Garrett isn’t quite the comfort Olivia had expected. She yet again tries to find her way, and in the process meets someone who begins to fill that void in her heart. She’s never before experienced a love like this; it heals her soul and rekindles her spirit – and just may have been the design of her dearly departed friend all along.

Beyond Believing is a sweet, funny, and romantic story that touches the heart, serves up delicious twists and turns, and shows the reader that there’s no such thing as “coincidence.” Author D.D. Marx regards this book as her “love letter to friendship,” written in memory of her best friend, Dan.

Guest Post by DD Marx

My VIRTUAL Tour across Europe

When writing my novel, I knew I wanted to have worlds collide so I would have to write from a perspective that was foreign to me. What I learned from it is that my bucket list continues to grow! I started with research, in many forms. I based one of my main characters in Scotland, a place I had never been and he was a Chef my trade something I knew little about. I started with my darling neighbor who was born and raised on Scotland. I asked her lots of questions to ensure I could describe the smallest of details. I searched on line, looked at many photos and studied surrounding areas to make sure I wouldn’t sound like a novice on the subject.

I made the character a Chef. Why? Well I don’t really know why, but it seems like a very admirable and amazing profession that takes just as much art as it does skill. This was even more fun to research because it involved a considerable amount of time watching the Food Network: Top Chef, Cut Throat Kitchen, Beat Bobby Flay, and Chopped. I did searches of food festivals and famous restaurants in the areas of the world that I was trying to portray.

What it resulted in was hopefully a very colorful experience for my readers. I hope it lead to them salivating thinking of the delicious dishes that were being prepared and the surrounding in which they were being consumed. It really just made me hungry throughout the writing process. I am thinking about putting together a literal “book tour” together to follow my characters journey. I think it would make a remarkable vacation. Anyone want to join me?

About the author

D.D. Marx is a contemporary romantic fiction writer and blogger, as well as a lover of all things social. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton, as well as the Second City program in Chicago, where she currently resides. A proud aunt and self-described hopeless romantic, Marx has always has a knack for humorous and engaging storytelling. Her pen name is a dedication to her beloved friend Dan, who continues to guide and inspire her in her daily life.

Connect with DD:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Featured Author: Russ Colchamiro

About the book

Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo's twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can't tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe's ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we've long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

Interview with Russ Colchamiro

Russ, what’s the story behind the title Genius de Milo?
Sorry, folks, but I don’t kiss and tell. You’ll need to read Genius de Milo to find out that particular secret . . .

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
My debut novel Finders Keepers is a scifi backpacking comedy . . . think American Pie meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe's DNA.

My newest book, Genius de Milo, is the second book in the trilogy, where our bumbling backpacking heroes Jason Medley and Theo Barnes are once again tasked with retrieving a radioactive jar filled with the Universe’s DNA … before it wipes out the galaxy.

Genius de Milo (and Finders Keepers) is for fans of authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, and movies and TV shows such as Harold & Kumar, Bill & Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Quantum Leap, Groundhog Day, Northern Exposure, and Third Rock from the Sun.

And whereas Finders Keepers was set predominantly in Europe and New Zealand, the action in Genius de Milo has shifted mostly to the U.S. And, of course, there's lots going on in Eternity, the 'cosmic' realm where the Universe is created.

So for Genius de Milo, think Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

As the second book in the series, I wrote Genius de Milo with the understanding that it needed to work on three levels:

  • As a satisfying, self-contained novel that new readers can enjoy even if they haven’t read Finders Keepers 
  • As the second novel in the Finders Keepers trilogy that both continues and enhances the overall narrative and individual story arcs
  • Structurally as a lead-in to the final, upcoming novel that will conclude the trilogy
Who are you?
To most people, I’m a mild-mannered scifi comedy writer, but in truth I'm actually a fugitive from another dimension, with the intergalactic agency in charge of such matters hot on my trail, looking to drag me back to where I’ll face my day of reckoning. All in all I’d rather them not find me, so . . . try to keep it to yourself.

But if you’re referring to my “Earth” life . . . I am a former journalist turned PR guy working in the commercial real estate industry, mostly in New York City.

I’m also married with four-year-old twins, so those little ninjas of mine keep me on my toes. And I have a crazy dog, Simon.

What’s your favorite line from a book? 

“Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” – Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

How do you get to know your characters?

In the Finders Keepers series, I write each chapter from a specific character’s point of view. I spend a lot time getting into that character’s headspace. What does he think about what’s happening right now? How will she handle herself given the predicament she’s in? I try to embody each character, and then write as if I am that character.

Those who spend enough time around me will sooner or later find me muttering to myself about one thing or another. My daughter busted me just last week. More often than not, I’m working out some dialogue or plot sequence for whatever book I’m writing, asking myself if the pieces add up.

I tend to talk out loud, because I like to "hear" the dialogue. Makes for some interesting rides on the train.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Oh, you saucy devil. I can’t play favorites. Think of the drama I’d have to deal with. I love of all my characters equally (wink-wink).

Can't blame a girl for trying. What would your main character say about you?
"I knew you were crazy. I just didn’t realize you were that crazy."

Is your book based on real events?
Even though Finders Keepers and now Genius de Milo both have that authentic you-are-there, on-the-ground feel to them — I like readers to feel like they are experiencing what the characters experience — I pretty much made up all of the backpacking, road trip, and Earth-bound travel scenes.

But all of the scifi shenanigans are totally real and based on my intergalactic, interdimensional experiences across time and space.

That makes sense. Are you like any of your characters?
Jason Medley is definitely based on me. I won’t say how much of how he thinks, feels, and acts is actually me and how much is him, but it’s fair to say that we have a lot in common. When I did my initial backpacking tour through Europe back in 1994 … if I was stranded or lost — which happened to me a few times — I couldn’t Google where to go next, because there was no Google! There was no Internet! There were no modern cell phones.

When Jason was stuck on a train in Romania (in Finders Keepers) . . . that really happened to me. And believe me . . . being feverish, hungry, and alone, with no food or water, in the middle of the night, somewhere in Eastern Europe, with a drunken, mentally ill madman loose on a train is not something you just inherently know how to handle. At least I didn’t. Neither did Jason.

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

Milo. He’s the Universe’s gremlin, although his motivations might be different than what you initially think.

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

Albert Einstein, Harry Truman, Kelly Clarkson, and my two kids.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Sympathy for the Devil” -- The Rolling Stones

Who are your favorite authors?

Christopher Moore, Kurt Vonnegut, David McCullough, and Stephen King.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore,in paperback.

Where’s home for you?
West Orange, New Jersey

Where did you grow up?

Merrick, New York – Long Island. And then I spent about 20 years in New York City, split between Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. A lot of my family is from Brooklyn and Queens, so I feel a connection there.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
My buddy and I got arrested for third degree burglary. We didn’t actually do it — no, really! I swear! But we were most definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time, which was completely avoidable. We went looking for mischief, but instead found trouble, with a capital T. Good thing I knew how to teleport, or else we might have been in quite a pickle.

Whew! Good thing. Have you been in any natural disasters?
I’ve survived several hurricanes and blizzards, including Gloria, Katrina, and Sandy. And though not a natural disaster, I was on my way to work in Manhattan during 9/11. That was quite a day.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

Had kids!

What is the stupidest thing you've done? And don't say "Had kids."
Got in a car with someone way, way too drunk to drive. Fair to say I’m lucky to be alive.

Totally fair. I hope you learned your lesson, young man. How did you meet your wife? Was it love at first sight?
It’s a comical, yet romantic story I plan to tell in another book. And yes, it actually was love at first sight.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
Lamb, by Christopher Moore

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

Han Solo

What’s your favorite candy bar?

Snickers. But I’m allergic to peanuts, so I don’t eat them too often.

Try Snickers with almonds. It's much better. If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

San Francisco

What would you like people to say about you after you die?

Good guy who looked out for other people. A little crazy, but a good guy.

What are you working on now?
The third and final book in the first Finders Keepers trilogy.

Book Excerpt from Genius de Milo

Jason’s smile dropped away, replaced with a silent, open-mouthed slug of resignation, that whatever was happening was authentic, and unfolding in real time.

In a shared-brain moment Jason and Theo slowly panned in Jamie’s direction  until finally she felt their accusatorial eyes lock on her. And though neither of them spoke, the imputation of blame came through with perfect enunciation: What did you do? What’s coming?

But what could she say? Which cluster of words could encapsulate both the scope and nuance of their predicament? Jamie could offer a pretty good guess as to why their immediate surroundings morphed before their very eyes—it had to be Brigsby-related, didn’t it?—but when it came to the what, she was equally mystified.

So all she could do was stand there. She blinked a few times. Then a few times more. The night went bracingly still, as if every fractal of sound had been drained from the Universe. The three of them held in place, petrified, as if the incredible forces converging upon them were seemingly just to be unleashed. Which, of course, they were.

About the author

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious science fiction backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, New Jersey, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being swallowed by a tornado. It’s just how he gets around.

Russ encourages you to email him at

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