Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year from Andrea Buginsky

A new year is upon us, and that makes it the perfect time to evaluate ourselves and determine just what we want for ourselves in the coming year. Now’s the perfect time to look at the changes you want to make in your life, whether it’s your personal life or your professional life.

If you’re looking to make changes in your personal life, such as living a healthier lifestyle, doing something that will make you happier, changing a bad habit, or starting a project that will make you feel better about yourself, now’s the best time to begin planning for it. If you’re looking to lose weight, or just start living a healthier lifestyle, begin to eat healthier and exercise more. If you’re trying to break a bad habit, do it in small steps that are easy to reach. If you’re looking to start a project that will make you feel good about yourself, check out local volunteer organizations in your neighborhood.

If you’re looking to make changes in your professional life, start by determining what kind of change. Do you want to find a better job? Apply for a promotion at your current job? Work less hours? Once you figure out the best course of action for you, you can begin to determine how to go about doing it.

If you’re having trouble determining the best course to take to create the new you for the New Year, ask a friend for help. Having somebody to help coach you and give you a little push and some encouragement can go a long way to you achieving what you want in 2012. Happy New Year!

Andrea Buginsky is the author of “The Chosen,” a Young Adult fantasy about a young dwarf who learns her true calling in life and sets off on a quest with a group of warriors to save their home world, Phantasma.

Halli is a shy, young dwarf who has no idea of her true calling.  When the evil Prince Gastle sets out to detroy the world of Phantasma, Queen Laurali of the Elves comes to tell Halli she’s a Holy Paladin with the power to heal, and will join The Chosen, a group of brave warriors being sent to defeat the evil beast and save Phantasma.  Will Halli be accepted by her group, and be able to keep them alive through their adventures?  Will the evil Prince Gastle be defeated, freeing Phantasma from his destruction?  Only time will tell.

Available from Solstice Publishing and for the Amazon Kindle

You can find Andrea:

On her website, Andi’s Realm

On Twitter: @andreabuginsky

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lessons learned - musings of a first time published author

I'm departing from my usual routine of posting author interviews to share with you some of what I've learned so far about publishing. I've got one book published. A coming of age story titled Invisible. Invisible only took four months to write. I was very lucky. I wrote it while on a break from writing my paranormal thriller, Dark Angel, which I am still working on (big sigh).

After finishing Invisible, I tried for a time to find an agent and though I came close, was ultimately unsuccessful. Lesson number one, it is extremely hard to land an agent. My advice to new authors is to skip the agent. Go directly to an indie publisher.

Invisible was rejected by only one indie publisher before finding a home. Now here comes lesson number two - don't expect to make a lot of money. I can hear hearts breaking from here, but the sooner you realize this, the better. Having that first book published by an actual publisher (indie or not) will bring you credibility and that is something you cannot buy. 

Lesson number three - writing a book and having it published costs money. Not for the actual publication of the book. Never pay a publisher to publish your book. Editing, cover art, etc. should all be free. But be prepared to dish out the dollars for promotion - mailing your book to reviewers, blog tours, and in some limited instances review companies.

After having a published novel under my belt, I will try for that elusive agent in the hopes of finding a large publisher for my next novel. The bigger houses will get your book into bookstores (more credibility). This is something an indie publisher cannot do. And the reason is because most indies are print on demand publishers (POD) which means that when a book is ordered, it is printed. Lower print runs mean higher prices for the book and lower profit margins for the stores. So, large chain stores will not stock your book. Also, PODs cannot be returned. This is another reason a bookstore will not stock your book.

Last lesson - once your novel is released, the real work begins. Be prepared to spend countless hours on promotion. There will be no time to write and you will miss that. You will be sick of talking about yourself and your novel - promotion and marketing sucks! But it is a necessary evil. Publishers won't do this for you. It is entirely up to you to sell your book. The lesson here - don't be shy. Do what you have to do to get your name out there and to build a platform. You're going to need it for the next book.

Well, that's it for now. I hope my words of wisdom have helped and not discouraged. I'd love to hear from other published authors. Please leave a comment and let me know if your experiences in publishing are similar to mine.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Interview with author, Vanessa Grillone

Today, I'm pleased to host author, Vanessa Grillone on my blog. Vanessa has written a book comprised of poetry and prose that started as her journal and before she knew it, became a book that she hopes will inspire and help other young women coming of age.

A bit about My Pen, My Voice -
Every girl has secrets. Every girl experiences things she is afraid to talk about. And every girl has her own outlet. For Vanessa Grillone, that outlet is writing. My Pen, My Voice artfully records the trials and errors one girl endures in order to become an independent and strong young woman. Through a mixture of prose and poetry, Grillone digs into the heart of the often difficult teenage years, when emotions are high, changes are fast, and life is all-consuming. Grillone's entries encompass the turbulent range of teenage angst. From struggling to understand her need to go her own way to trying to come to terms with her frequent mood swings, her poems reveals with painful intimacy the confusion and heartbreak of growing up. Her vivid language and heartfelt words convey not only her honesty, but her fragility. With a keen eye for the human heart, My Pen, My Voice offers compelling compositions. Journey with Grillone on her path to self-discovery, one that ultimately offers insight into the female mind during its most fragile years.  

Tell us something about yourself aside from writing.

When I’m not writing I am usually working, completing school assignments or spending time with my family and friends. My family (including my puppy, Waffles) and friends are very important to me and I love being able to spend time with them. I have just caught the “travel bug” so to speak and hope to spend a lot of time traveling within the next few years. I’m also a huge fan of food, coffee, and downtown Toronto so whenever I can go downtown for dinner I’m in absolute heaven.

What inspired you to write your first book?

To be completely honest while I was writing this book, I had no idea that I would actually publish it. I’ve always loved to write and knew that one day I wanted to be a published author. This particular book started out as a diary of sorts, a way for me to get out my feelings. It wasn’t until I turned twenty that I decided I wanted it to be my first book published.

Tell us about your novel and where readers can purchase a copy.

My Pen, My Voice is a mixture of poetry and prose written in a diary/blog type of format. You can find the full synopsis on my publishers website (, on, or on

How much of the marketing do you do?

I find the marketing aspect of book publishing to be the toughest part. I self-published My Pen, My Voice last February and my means of marketing has been limited to word-of-mouth, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. When you self-publish there is a part of your package that includes some marketing but most of the marketing has been done by my family and myself. I have a great support system and a huge family, which is sometimes the greatest marketing tool you could have. I also have the support of my current bosses at Caruso Gourmet Pizza, they have been kind enough to let me advertise my book there.

Anything you’ve found to be particularly helpful in marketing your book?

The book signing I was able to have at Chapters Woodbridge was a great experience and it brought in new people to check out my book. It was a very big part of my marketing plan when the book was first published. However, it seems like the Internet is your best friend when it comes to marketing nowadays.

Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?

Yes, My Pen, My Voice is available as an eBook but I didn’t have much to do in that part of the publishing. Many people that know me decided to buy the print version of the book so I am afraid I don’t even know how the eBook turned out.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My intention for this book is for young women to realise that they aren’t alone, that we all go through the same things. I want them to see how important it is to find an outlet to deal with the many tough situations you find yourself in when you’re growing up. I want this book to give them hope in knowing that just because things seem horrible in the moment, doesn’t mean that it will last forever.  I also hope that parents will read this book and try to understand what their daughters are feeling and how certain things affect them.

Where can readers find you?

I am also a contributing blogger on but my first post has not been put up yet.

Thank you very much, Vanessa for allowing me to interview you. I wish you all the success in the world :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

INVISIBLE is 99 cents

Lola’s not pretty. Lola’s not popular. Lola wishes she could disappear … and then one day
she does just that...
For seventeen-year-old Lola Savullo, life is a struggle. Born to funky parents who are more in than she could ever be, Lola’s dream of becoming a writer makes her an outsider even in her own home. Bullied and despised, Lola still has the support of her best pal Charlie and Grandma Rose.
Not only is she freakishly tall, Lola’s a big girl and when forced to wear a bathing suit at her summer job as a camp counselor, Lola’s only escape from deep embarrassment seems to be to literally vanish. Soon after, she discovers the roots of her new “ability”.
Slowly, with Charlie’s help, Lola learns to control the new super power. The possibilities are endless. Yet power can be abused, too…
Then, when tragedy strikes, Lola must summon her inner strength, both at home and at school. She has to stand up for herself, despite the temptations and possibilities of her newfound super power.
A coming-of-age story that will warm the heart.

For a short time, the ebook edition of Invisible, by yours truly, is available for just 99 cents.  The promotion is on for the duration of my upcoming blog tour with Pump Up Your Book - December 5th to the 16th. Hope to see you on one of my many blog stops.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm pleased to host Aubrie Dionne on her blog tour today.

Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. After reaching a high point in her flutist career Aubrie decided to pursue other creative passions.

“I’d always loved writing and reading fantasy/sci fi books ever since I was little but I always pushed it aside for flute. I felt like I needed to explore more of my interests in life. Ever since I started writing, I couldn’t stop! I use what I’ve learned about craft, diligence, structure, from my flute playing. It’s exciting to start a new discipline and have no idea where my boundaries are: how far I can go with it, how good I can get.”
Paradise 21, Aubrie’s fourth book, was released August 2 as one of Entangled Publishing’s ten launch titles.
Aubrie is represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Her short stories have been featured in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, Emerald Tales, Aurora Wolf, A Fly in Amer, Moon Drenched Fables and various anthologies.
Her books are published by Entangled Publishing, Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, and Wyvern Publications. 
Aubrie’s Website

Aubrie’s Blog

Excerpt from Aubrie's latest novel, Paradise 21

Aries awoke to flashing lights and smoke. A wailing siren sounded in her ear, each surge aching in her head. Coughing, she pushed a panel to bring up the screen, but the panels remained blank. Trying to control a jolt of panic, she unbuckled the belt across her stomach and heaved herself up, feeling like a supply container was sitting on her chest. She gasped in dismay as she ran her fingers across a jagged crack slicing the main control board in two pieces. The impact had destroyed the mainframe processor, ruining the escape pod.

She’d known the landing would destroy the pod, but that didn’t quell a feeling of vulnerability from washing through her. Aries had stranded herself in a foreign land with no way home. The thought of her parents and the ceremony she’d missed in order to escape flickered briefly in her mind. If her friends and family ever found out what she did, she hoped they would forgive her. To live her life for them would make her miserable; she had to invent her own destiny.

Laughter rumbled up from her gut, light at first, then deepening into triumph. She was free. Halfway stuck in a dune on Sahara 354 was exactly where she wanted to be.

A new light blinked beside her, distracting her from the condition of the pod. Aries brought up her arm to check out the locator. A light on the wide cuff flashed bright green, and she wished she could rip it off. Someone in the New Dawn had found a way to reactivate it.

Aubrie's Favorite Women in Sci-Fi

In Paradise 21, Aries Ryder is fed up with the status quo aboard her colony ship, The New Dawn, and wants to take destiny into her own hands. She’s an intelligent, driven, and compassionate main character inspired by all of the sci fi women in the movies I watched as a teen.

Here’s my favorite sci fi main characters and what I liked about each one:

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley from the Alien movies-

I love how tough Ripley is in the face of danger. She shows emotions, but she works her way through it. We see a softer side of her in Aliens, when she saves Nute, the little girl from the colony. She takes her job very seriously, and suffers ridicule for her crazy alien stories that turn out to be true. She sacrifices her own safety to go back after the aliens and save others. Truly heroic.

What I love most about her is that she doesn’t have a traditional romantic lead in any of the movies. She doesn’t need one. She is defined by her actions and not by who she falls in love with. Awesome.

Beverly Crusher from The Next Generation:

Beverly Crusher is the chief medical officer aboard the USS Enterprise. What I liked the most about her was her duel role as chief examiner and mom. (Remember Wesley Crusher?) She always treated everyone with compassion, and her quiet romance with Jean Luc Picard always kept me watching to see if they’d end up together in the end. She’s sensitive and highly perceptive, and seems to pick up on things that the rest of the crew overlook in others. She has a great sense of justice, and will defend the underdog fiercely. I liked how she was strong, yet feminine.

Princess Leia from Star Wars:
I loved how driven Princess Leia was. She wouldn’t let anything get in the way of her work with the rebellion. Her personality was forceful and blunt, and she fought against her attraction to Hans Solo, making for a great movie material! She kills Jabba the Hut in Episode VI, regaining her freedom wearing a metal bikini. She’s tough as steel, determined, and bold. A great sci fi role model.

My question: Can you name a strong female character in sci fi? Who’s your favorite?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview with authors, Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson

I'm pleased to welcome Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson to my blog today.

Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton are a sisters co-authoring team.  Loretta lives in Junction City, Kansas, and Vickie in Hutchinson, Kansas. The sisters have traveled to each setting used in their novels. They love wandering through old ruins and viewing relics from past cultures.  Because of this, archaeology has provided a background for much of their work. 

The Mayan Mask of Death, set in Central America, is their thirty-ninth novel, and the first in the Arla Vaughn Pre-Columbian Treasure Series.  A second Arla Vaughn novel, this one about Inca treasure, The Lost City of the Condor,  will be available soon.

The Mayan Mask of Death

When Arla Vaughn accepts the role of temporary Dean of Archaeology, the museum’s purchase of an elaborate Mayan mask seems an evil portent. The dual face, one side a handsome Mayan nobleman, the other side a skull-like visage with a glimmering obsidian eye represents the good and evil of mankind.

Three years ago Jordan Lund’s wife was strangled on campus and he has devoted his life to finding her killer. When a second woman from Arla’s department is murdered in the same way, the police believe this is the work of a mysterious serial killer known as The Scarlet Strangler. But Arla soon links the brutal murders to the dig in Copan. Her investigation takes her to where the mystery has its roots, the Copan ruins in the jungles of Honduras. There, to uncover the truth, Arla must match wits with a killer as duplicitous as the Mayan Mask of Death.

Do you have any advice for new or aspiring authors?

Always plot carefully so you won’t waste your time making big changes and doing extensive revisions. Set aside time to write, even if it is minimal. Once you have started on a project, your subconscious mind will go on working out details.

Don’t be overly concerned about rejections. If you love your work, some other people will love it, too. Understand, as Robert Louis Stevenson said, that you are not writing for the many, but “for the few.”

What is your favorite book? (one that you have read) and why?

(Vickie) I enjoy Ruth Rendell’s mysteries. One of my favorites is A Dark Adapted Eye, which she wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. Her books have clever plots and strong characterization.

(Loretta) My favorite story is The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I love the flow of his words, the vivid details, the powerful theme.

One author we both admire is Tony Hillerman. It would be impossible to choose a favorite book of his.

On the fun side, what is your favorite television show and why?

(Vickie) I have always been a big fan of Monk because he comes across as vulnerable and human, and I enjoy the little touches of quirkiness and humor along with the mystery.

(Loretta) My favorite TV shows are all mysteries like The Closer, NCIS, and to go back a few years, Murder, She Wrote. I enjoy drama and trying to decide which character is the villain.

How do your family/friends feel about your writing?

Our family because of their love for literature is no doubt the reason why we write. From our earliest childhood Mother always read aloud to us, and Dad taught us to recite poetry. Our three sisters and several cousins and friends have traveled with us to our settings, discussed ideas with us, and have been very supportive.

How much of the marketing do you do?

Of course, if people recognize your name, you make more sales. Personal contact brings results, so we visit libraries and go to conferences and book festivals when we are able to schedule them. The Internet offers endless marketing possibilities from Facebook to Twitter.

Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?

Yes, most of our books are available as eBooks as well as in print. This is a rapidly expanding market. The Kindle and other eBook readers have become more affordable, so there is a demand for eBooks right now.

Where can readers find you?

We have a web page and a blog where we often post writing advice and news about our upcoming releases.

Author Page:
Blog: Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson’s Writing Tips and Fiction

Vickie is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Launch and Fair

Book Launch & Book Fair in Support of Charity

Aurora author, Heather Anne Lambert, launches her action-packed page turner – Cassius: Blood Rights – at the Literacy Council York-Simcoe on Friday, December 2nd from 5-8 p.m. This event includes a Book Fair. Local authors will sell and sign their books – unique gift items just in time for Christmas! Reception and mingling with local authors to follow.

5-6 pm – Book Sales (meet local authors and browse a selection of home-grown book titles)
6-7 pm – Launch of Cassius Blood Rights (readings from author, Heather Anne Lambert)
7-8 pm – Book signing, shopping, refreshments and mingling

Literacy Council York-Simcoe, 17817 Leslie St. Suite 12, Newmarket ON
Cassius: Blood Rights was released in September 2011 and is for sale internationally at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and other online stores – now available in Kindle. This exciting, fast paced book is the first in a new series that begins here, in Toronto’s night time playground and expands to places known by all of us: Aurora, Hamilton and the GTA. Since the main character, Cassius is a good bad guy, partial proceeds from book sales are being donated to the Literacy Council York-Simcoe, an organization that helps English-speaking adults to build their reading, writing, math, computer and employment skills.

Reviews for Cassius: Blood Rights
“My experience was completely consuming. Cassius and company had me from the very beginning. The passion, the plot, the suspense. This story had it all!! I’m anxiously looking forward to Blood of Whitechapel”~ Jim Priestly, York Region
 “Just finished the book a couple days ago - amazing but left me wanting more. More about his earlier life and loves. Please write faster so I can read more.”~ Colleen Shaughnessy, York Region
“Heather Anne Lambert has the ability to fill the gaps left by Anne Rice. I really enjoyed the book and cannot wait for the next installment – I hope there are many more in this series to come!” ~ Melissa Tomhave, California

Heather Anne Lambert is a freelance writer of books, short stories, articles. She is winner of the 2011 Canadian Federation of University Women writing competition. Her articles and short stories have been published in a number of hardcopy and online publications including Aurora Storyalis II and III and Connecting With Nature, winner of the Oak Ridges Moraine Hero Award.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Interview with author, Chris Stralyn

I'm happy to welcome Chris Stralyn to my blog today. Chris' novel This Time You Lose is nominated for best cover on Goodreads.

Stop by and vote if you have a chance

Tell us something about yourself and how you became a writer.

I never intended to be a writer. Short-order cook, security guard, safety officer, childcare provider, and teacher were all titles I’d worn – but never writer. Then I entered an essay contest for “The Worst Vacation Ever” and won. Writing became my new hobby, and soon I had several articles in print with local publications. This was followed by a short story, The Khaki Pants, which was published by RDR Publishing in an anthology that went on to sell over a million copies.

A suspense thriller was my next undertaking, and in 2008 This Time You Lose was named a finalist in the TNBW Strongest Start Novel Competition. Four months later it earned the distinction of being a TNBW Readers Choice Top Ten Novel, and has remained on the Top Ten list ever since.

I continue to put pen to paper in my endeavour to appease the Muse within. I live in Michigan with my husband and family.

Tell us about your novel and where readers can purchase a copy.

This Time You Lose is an intense read. It is the terrifying story of Lisa Kaamp, who operates a small childcare business out of her home in the sleepy little town of Nogeksum, Michigan. Highly respected and known for going the extra mile for her daycare kids, Lisa thought she had handled every daycare emergency possible.

But nothing prepared her for the nightmare she now faced. Lisa awakes one morning to find herself bound and gagged, four strange men in her home, and the daycare children being held hostage in the next room. Terrorized by her captors as the authorities work to meet the ransom deadline, she tries negotiating with the men for the release of the children, and soon realizes that at least one of them has no intention of letting anyone go. With the deadline quickly approaching, Lisa must do the unimaginable to protect the children and get everyone out alive.

This Time You Lose is currently available thru my website: as well as on Beginning in November, it will also be available in most independent bookstores in western Michigan and beyond. If you can’t find it...ask them to order it for you!

What have you had published to-date?

Numerous small articles in local publications
The Khaki Pants, published by RDR Publishing
This Time You Lose, published by Createspace

Tell us a little about your road to publication. Was it a long one? Do you have an agent? In your opinion are they even necessary?

My road to publication began 4 years ago when a neighboring community was plagued with a series of home invasions. A childcare provider myself at the time, I wondered what would happen if one of these invasions occurred in a childcare home. A woman home alone, caring for up to a dozen children in a deserted, middle-class neighborhood made the perfect target for one of these invasions – and thus my story was born. 
The first draft was completed in 6 months, but it took another year and a half of editing and rewriting to get it to the point where I felt confident sending it out. After many, many rejections I finally got an agent in New York. She sent it out to all the major publishers – who rejected it, but offered constructive comments. I then reworked the story based on their comments and my agent resubmitted it. This time most of the publishers really liked it, but still turned it down. My agent explained that it had more to do with the current economy than the writing....the big publishing houses just weren’t taking many chances on unknown authors right now. She suggested shelving it for a year or so, and trying it again later. So I put it away for awhile. Then after much thought and research, I decided not to wait, and went with a print-on-demand publishing company.   

How much of the marketing do you do?


Anything you’ve found to be particularly helpful in marketing your book?

I purchased the book Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. It has a lot of good information and unique ideas for marketing/promoting both the author and books.

Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?

I am currently in the process of formatting This Time You Lose as an eBook. Lots of nit-picky stuff....but I’m sure it will be worth it in the long run.

Where can readers find you? (Include all links you want, facebook, twitter etc....)

Facebook fan page: This Time You Lose
Twitter: @ChrisStralyn

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Interview with author, Justin Swapp

Today I'm happy to have author, Justin Swapp visiting my blog. Hi, Justin and welcome.

Tell us something about yourself and how you became a writer.

I live in the shadows of the Wasatch mountains, and I come from a family that is very creative (we think anyway). This was probably the beginning for me. I remember writing a story for a middle school teacher about a creepy doll in a basement. I really had fun writing that story, and trying to create an atmosphere. I forgot about writing for many years, and then when the Harry Potter series came out, like so many others, I was reminded what it was to have a good storyteller cast a spell on you. Then, I remembered that I had wanted to write all those years ago. So, I did, despite at that very time I had just started an MBA program (which, yes, I did finish).

Tell us about your novel and where readers can purchase a copy.
Currently I have four short stories accepted for publication. Two you can get now from The other two should be out later this year.

The Crimson Pact is an anthology with some really great writers in it (I’m the “rookiest” of the bunch). There is even NY Times best selling author, Larry Correia, of the Monster Hunters International series included in the anthology.
I am also literally working on the last few chapters of the first draft of my YA Fantasy novel, “The Magic Shop.” I’m very excited to finish. I knew I had something good when one of my alpha readers was late to work because she was reading my novel. I take that as a good sign.
What have you had published to-date?
“The Transition,” and “The Merging” were both selected for publication in the first and second volumes of The Crimson Pact respectively. The series is published by Alliteration Ink. “The Transition” was a piece of flash fiction with a crazy twist at the end. It also launched my opportunity to continue the story in “The Merging” for volume two.

I’ve also had another flash piece entitled, “Final Exam,” accepted for publication by Wicked East Press and a longer short story entitled, “Cigars for Sawyer,” by C.P. Anthologies. Both of these should be out by the end of the year, or beginning of 2012.

Tell us a little about your road to publication. Was it a long one?

Yes, and I think that’s normal. I think I started four or five years ago. I had an idea, and I just started writing.
You know, I think I went through the phases that most people do. I was worried that my writing was horrible. So, I didn’t make progress on anything because I was always judging and editing, not writing. I did a lot of reading about how to approach writing – I mean a lot. It was helpful. I learned that I had to get over that fear, and I finally started showing it to people. I started to get some really good feedback from writing groups, and then eventually compliments from people who were very blunt, and who I knew would tell me if it was junk. I just put my head down, and kept going.  

What do you think makes a good story?
I think this means different things to different people. For me, I like great characters, and the fantastic, whether that is magic or sci-fi. I want to hear about things that make me dream, and wonder. The regular world stuff is boring.

For me, too, I think things have to have a certain simplicity to them. Flowery description is just hard too wade through for me. And it’s a real balancing act.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love basketball, reading, movies, and some good TV. I will occasionally do some graphic editing, and web admin type stuff. I just like being creative in general, and to absorb other people’s creativity.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Way too long. It can take a year or more. I really, really want to get that time down though. You really have to keep a pace and a regimen. I’ve found I can go a lot faster and write better quality stories if I do some planning and development before I ever sit down to write. And that was hard, and took some discipline. Once I have an idea, I just want to go go go. Its better to be methodical about it though.
Where can readers find you?
Twitter: @justinswapp

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Interview with author, Bob Stewart

It’s my pleasure to welcome Bob Stewart to my blog today. Welcome Bob :)

Tell us something about yourself and how you became a writer.

I studied three years for the ministry before I decided to become a heathen journalist. But the years were not wasted, the protagonist in Hidden Evil is a minister with a tragic secret.

I wrote my first journalism piece my junior year in college (about the top Bible salesman in America), met this beautiful blonde and got married. I haven’t looked back since, spending my life in a career uniquely suited to my personality. I have often felt sorry for anyone who got up each day and went to the same job; putting lids on tin cans. With me, I never knew if I was going to the scene of a murder or a high society tea party or rub elbows with an electric celebrity.  
I have been managing editor of three small dailies (one named the top newspaper in its category in the state by the Associated Press Managing Editors) and knocked around at big city newspapers in Dallas and San Antonio. In San Antonio I was asked to write a daily television column (mostly based on the fact that I co-authored a couple of scripts for Gunsmoke). I moved on to freelance writing, working special assignments for Time and Life before landing a job with People Weekly magazine as a Texas correspondent. For People I reported on three of the school shootings, the Branch Davidian standoff, the sacrifice murder of a college student in Mexico on spring break and the Oklahoma City bombing, among a number of breaking news and celebrity gigs.

All the while as I was dreaming about creative writing, I wrote four nonfiction books, one of them a Literary Guild Alternate selection and another is a True Crime Book of the Month.

Now, I’ve broken the fiction ceiling and wonder of wonders, I have two novels currently on the market.

Tell us about your novels Alias Thomas A. Katt and Hidden Evil and where readers can purchase a copy.

I’m hoping that I’ve invented a new genre with Thomas, “feline noir.” The idea came one night while watching Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. Our cat Schyler (that’s his picture on the cover) was settled in Martha’s lap and I wondered what would happen if he switched bodies with Bogart’s tough detective. Would Schyler/Thomas be as tough? How would he react as a stranger in a strange land? If he landed in the river, could he dog paddle? What would be his thoughts when he discovered he was no longer “fixed?” And how many of those nine lives will his adventures cost him?

So, Thomas, a cat, switches bodies with Tom A. Katt, his mistress’ boyfriend and a sharp-tongued evil serial killer who is also a mob enforcer. Three-year-old Thomas’ must learn the foibles of his new humanity while armed with only the knowledge he’s gained from watching television, listening to the radio, viewing Bourbon Street from his window on the world and the books Mallory read to him on rainy New Orleans afternoons.

It’s difficult to place this in a genre. It has a bit of warm fuzzy, a great deal of suspense, a bit of humor, a good dose of horror and a dollop of old-fashioned romance. So, I decided to call it “feline noir.”

It’s available at Solstice Publishing -- ­-- as well as all standard ebook outlets.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

With the exception of Thomas, from real life.

In particular, I’m interested in knowing where you got your information to write Hidden Evil.

Much of it comes from real-life experience in reporting on the death of Mark Kilroy and writing a book with his wonderful parents, Jim and Helen. (Sacrifice: The Murder of Mark Kilroy in Matamoros) I’ve lived in Texas all my life and never heard the words Santeria or Palo Mayombe, two Afro-Caribbean religions brought to America by slaves. It is very prevalent in South Texas and extends from the humble homes of poverty into the haciendas of wealth.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that not all practitioners of The Religion are evil. Many are just good, superstitious people who want to improve their lives through Magick. Many of these people are the victims of evil men and women who use mind control to foster malevolence, one of the themes in the book. These people are as surely victims as the hapless people tortured and killed.

A couple of real-life examples.

Once while standing near the lip of the Grand Canyon a young girl and her girlfriend started toward the railing. Before reaching the edge, one turned back fearful. I read her cult signs and told her quietly.

“You can go to the edge, the gods will protect you.” She eyed this six-foot-plus white man with great suspicion. “It’s okay,” I reassured her, “the gods won’t let you fall.”

“Are you a Santero?”

“No,” I said. “But I know you can go safely.” (Of course, I knew she could go safely, there was no magick in looking into the canyon, so I spoke the truth.)

She studied me for a few minutes, then began walking toward the edge, looking back many times. “You are a Santero,” she said, seeking permission of a holy man.

“You are safe. The gods have willed it.” She turned and strode firmly to the edge and looked down, much to her girlfriend’s delight.

Without the Santeria manipulation she would have stayed back. As she walked off, my best friend told me, “You were just messing with her.”

Not really, but it sure demonstrates the power of manipulation.

The other very briefly. While visiting Voodoo queen Marie Laveau’s grave in New Orleans, I came across a black man making a libation sacrifice by sprinkling the contents of a bottle on the tomb. We talked about Palo Mayombe. He was studying to be a Palero. When he discovered my knowledge of the religion, he asked if I was studying to be a Palero and who did I want to kill?

It sure made me wonder who he wanted dead.

In my research, I found a shadowy world of manipulation and a strong belief that the end justifies the means. You want a woman for a lover – married or not – you have the right to work a ritual to bring her to you. You can ask the gods to burn your business rival’s home to the ground. You can even use a stronger evil to drive out a lesser evil.

I visited old cemeteries, talked to Believers, read many books, consulted experts and had one special person allow me inside her world as an animals control expert for the sheriff’s office.

What are you working on right now? Tell us a little about it.

Two projects. One about three lawmen on the border and their battles with drug gangs and terrorists. The other is about a victims’ rights advocate trying to outwit a pedophile. It is based on a “how-to” manuscript discovered in the cell of a pedophile when guards tossed his prison cell. It details means of torture and the best places to capture a child.

What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?         

Thrillers. The only other genre is the “feline noir” for Thomas, sort-of a mixed breed of genres.

Anything you’ve found to be particularly helpful in marketing your books?

Wonderful, giving folks like you. Otherwise, I embarrass my family by telling everyone who will listen that I’ve written a book. Of course I try to blog and comment on the internet.

Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?

Yes, they are but the experience is so new I can’t properly answer that question. The only downside is the inability to have books for a signing or to give reviewers.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Do it! Write! Don’t offer excuses or don’t say the muse has abandoned you. As a journalist, I had to write a news report whether I had a cold or had a bad day at the office. I had to write every day. It’s well-worn advice, but set aside a time every day and write, write, write.

Where can readers find you?

WriterBob Stewart on Facebook
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Geoff Gander, author of The Tunnelers

I'd like to welcome, Geoff Gander to my blog today. Take it away, Geoff...

Hello everyone, I’m delighted to be here!

First off, I’d like to thank Jeanne Bannon for being so kind as to host me on her blog (yay!)  I’m excited that my first major release is out, and I appreciate every opportunity to spread the word.  I’d like to talk a little bit about myself, before treating you to a little excerpt of The Tunnelers.

Growing up, I didn’t have any siblings, so whenever my friends weren’t available I just turned to the nearest book to entertain myself.  That wasn’t a problem, because there were books everywhere, about nearly everything.  The books that interested me most, however, were the ones about dinosaurs, the universe, and world history (especially if they had a lot of maps).  I remember staring at the pages, and imagining myself flying to other worlds and doing all sorts of fascinating things.  I guess you could say I got hooked on stories.  I still am.

I’ve always preferred fiction, and the more fantastic, the better.  Starting with Dr. Seuss, I worked my way through the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and rounded things off in adulthood with P.G. Wodehouse and others.  But all the while, as I went deeper and deeper into the world of fiction, I composed my own stories – first in creative writing class in school, and then on my own time.  It was the most comfortable way for me to show my creative side and express my thoughts.

Writing became a fundamental part of who I am, so I suppose it was natural that I would try to “go pro”.  Thanks to the great people (editors and fellow authors) at Solstice Publishing, I’ve taken that first step, and the world is a much more exciting and interesting place because of that.

And now, without further ado, I would like you to think about something…

Conventional science would have us assume that humanity, with its cities, cars, airplanes, robots, and computers, is not only the dominant species on the planet, but the first species to build a true civilization.  We are the caretakers of the world, which will thrive or die by our actions.

But what if that assumption is wrong?

Doctor Vincent Armstrong, a clinical psychiatrist, thought science and logic explained everything.  But when a traumatized mining foreman with a case of amnesia is placed under his care, Armstrong’s comfortable assumptions are shaken.  As he works with his patient to reconstruct what happened, Armstrong makes a series of discoveries that threaten to tear apart his carefully constructed view of the world, and show in horrifying clarity that his patient is anything but delusional.

As Armstrong’s world falls apart, his recovering patient learns that he has not escaped the horrors he encountered underground, and that no place on earth is truly safe from the “Tunnelers.”

The Tunnelers, by Geoff Gander – available from Solstice Publishing!

Are YOU safe?

Contact Information:

Facebook Author Page:  Scribblingsby Geoff Gander



The following document, as well as a bundle of newspaper clippings, was found among the personal effects of Dr. Vincent Armstrong, a community psychiatrist in the Evaluation Unit at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Care Center, whose disappearance in Montreal is a matter of public record.

Although the police dismissed this package as being immaterial to their investigation, I believe that this information has a profound – almost sinister – significance when considered in relation to recent events of a more personal nature. I will let the reader decide.

Testimony of Vincent Armstrong, M.D.

My name is Vincent Armstrong. I have been practicing psychiatry at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Care Center for twelve years; the last five of which have been with the Evaluation Unit. Over this time I have treated mental conditions that many would find horrifying, but a recent case has forced me to confront something so terrifying and so far outside my experience, that the world is now a much, much darker place for me. Other people need to know, so I have compiled my notes in a format that I hope others might find useful.

June 14, 1992

8:00 p.m.

Mr. Michael Kirkwood, an employee of Argus Minerals, was referred to my care from the Ottawa General Hospital Emergency Ward as an in-patient today at 6:22 p.m., under restraint and in a state of acute agitation. The accompanying report, written by a doctor posted at the site where Mr. Kirkwood had been working and amended by the referring physician from the emergency ward, indicated only that he had witnessed a particularly horrific industrial accident, and that his resulting psychological trauma was the basis for his referral to our facility for an assessment period.

When I first saw him, Mr. Kirkwood was pleading with a nurse to be kept high above ground. He calmed down after I assured him that we would do as he asked, and I took that opportunity to administer a heavy sedative. After he was brought to his room, I examined the patient and then ordered that he be placed under close observation.

Based on that preliminary examination and a review of Mr. Kirkwood's medical records that I had requested from his employer, the patient appeared to be a healthy man in his mid-forties, with no history of mental illness or substance abuse. His previous medical exam, conducted four months earlier, showed that he was in excellent physical and mental health. With no other information available, I called Argus Minerals to request all additional information regarding the accident, as well as copies of his performance assessments, because I wished to cover all possible causes of Mr. Kirkwood's breakdown. By that time, my shift had ended, but I left instructions that I was to be contacted should his condition change.