Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Interview with Kevin Finn, co-author of 'Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition' - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Camelot_Cover_11 (1)


WHERE WERE YOU THE DAY KENNEDY WAS SAVED? On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination comes a new edition of the extraordinary time-travel thriller first published in 2003, now extensively revised and re-edited, and with a new Afterword from the authors. On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK’s own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price. In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible—while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President’s murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald. Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both. History CAN be altered …

Purchase your copy:


What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I’m most proud of being selected as a mentor for the American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program.  Being asked to share your insight and knowledge with those pursuing your chosen career is an honor and a privilege.  If I can somehow influence just one aspiring screenwriting, help them benefit from something I’ve learned along the path, be it large or small, then my participation in the program is rewarding and worthwhile.  I like to pass on the knowledge I’ve garnered from others, to help others, to pay it back in the best way I can. Sharing.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
My upbringing gave me the discipline and work ethic a writer needs to turn a hobby into a career.  Writing isn’t a part time gig, a weekend occupation or a flight of fancy. It requires discipline and dedication, the will to plant one’s butt at a desk and work at creativity.  Like my father before me, I never miss a day of work or a day of school.  Now, I never miss a day of writing.  I treat it like a job (though it’s the greatest and most fun job anyone could ever have).  If I don’t go to work every day, I let someone down.  Myself.  I don’t allow that.  I show up. I deliver.  I’m the employee my writing counts on. 
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing seriously when I was 16, and because I had stories I wanted to tell.  Stories I crafted from inspiration culled from movies, sports or even real life.  I saw things and wanted to write about them.  I imagined things and wanted to write about them.  So I did. I saw all these larger than life tales playing out on my television or in the movies, or in the newspapers of the day, and I wanted to craft the tales that inspired me, to inspire others. 
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I loved great stories that stirred emotion in me.  I felt inspired by great movies I’d seen, and wanted to write movies like that.  I was touched by real-life events and wanted to capture them for history, as I ‘d read other writers do.  Most notably, it was the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team’s stunning gold-medal victory in the 1980 Winter Olympics that really propelled me.  I was home in bed with severe pneumonia throughout those Games, but that team’s triumph and perseverance just struck a nerve in me.  I wanted to be a part of that kind of history, to call it as a sportscaster and write about it whenever it happened.  The stage was set.   
When did you first know you could be a writer? 
One of my first creative writing assignments in 10th grade was about a great event I’d witnessed.  I wrote about a Yankee game I’d attended, a game that went down as a ‘Yankee Classic’.  I got an ‘F’ on that assignment because the teacher thought I’d plagiarized my account from newspaper.  I had to bring in a note from my father and the ticket stub from the game to convince the teacher I’d given a first-hand account.  The ‘F’ was changed to an ‘A’ and I was on my way.
What inspires you to write and why?
Great stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things always gets me going.  I think it this the mark of a great storyteller, to be able to capture one person’s raw emotion or experience and spin it into a tale everyone wants to see or read.  I find inspiration in rooting for the underdog who overcomes all odds, the common man who exceeds expectations.  These are the stories that can inspire others to achieve great things, and I simply want to share them and inspire others with them.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I love a good thriller.  It’s such a complex yet broad genre, combining action, drama, human emotion and intrigue.  Crafting a good thriller is always a challenge but the personal reward for a job well done knows no other.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Forward to Camelot was actually my first novel, and it was inspired by my youthful reverence for John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy’s tale was one of courage and character, of overcoming great physical odds to achieve something few have known but everyone aspires to.  I always looked up to JFK as a larger-than-life figure, a leader among men.  I wanted to be him, to know his character, to perhaps even live some of the adventure he had lived.  Having the chance to make him breathe again, in the pages of a daring fictional thriller, and share his legacy with a generation that was not familiar with it, well, that’s all the chance I needed.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
My writing was influenced by many factors.  I wanted to do something no one else had done before, and with Forward to Camelot, Susan Sloate and I craft a unique blend of fact and fiction to spin a new twist on the most tragic day of the 20th century.  I didn’t want to let my partner down after she showed such great faith in my ability.  I knew we had a great idea and wanted to make it a reality. 
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
The hardest part about writing a novel is the discipline needed to simply plant your ass in a chair before a desk and get the words on paper every single day.  It’s easy to slack off when there’s no real boss looking over your shoulder.  You can create any excuse to not write at any given moment, but the only person you’re fooling is yourself.  Shutting out the distractions of life, love, and whatever else is the biggest challenge any writer faces.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
Writing Forward To Camelot taught me a lot about checking my ego at the door when collaborating with another writer.  Truth is, in any partnership, you’re going to be re-written and you can’t take it personally.  Any choice that is made has to be done for the good of the story and it is very hard for a single writer to surrender creative control of their work to someone else.  There’s going to be battles, and sometimes you’re opinion is correct and sometimes your partner is more correct.  More often you’ll have to come to a compromise that benefits the story and characters.  If it sounds easy, you’ve never been locked in a room with a writer.
Do you intend to make writing a career?
It already is. 
Have you developed a specific writing style?
Well, I tend to write long on a first draft and then whittle it down piece by piece to where I want it.  I have a hard-nosed style reminiscent of Damon Runyon or Mickey Spillane, so it’s perfect for thrillers or dramas that just sort of hit you in the gut. 
What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
I’m a great editor, so I can really trim a long piece down to a solid, readable core without losing any of the important elements of story.  I like to keep a story lean and tight, so a reader can move through  it quickly.  I’m also very good at creating the small, emotionally powerful moments for a character or characters, the kind of moments that a reader can keep with them long after they’ve finished the book. 
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
My passion for writing and my passion for inspiring others who want to pursue their dreams.  I’m straight and to the point, and sometimes it may hurt someone’s feelings, but keeping things simple often eliminates the distractions or excuses that can dissuade someone from pursuing their dreams.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
I’m straight and to the point.  I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I also don’t believe in tiptoeing around a subject or event.  I’m not one for bullshit, I don’t want to have my time wasted nor do I want to waste anyone else’s.  Also, despite my discipline for writing every day, I tend to procrastinate by becoming involved in too many projects at once.  If I like an idea, I’ll take it on and often to the detriment of work already in progress.  That’s a really bad habit--sometimes you’ve got to say ‘no’ to keep yourself focused on what you really want.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
I have several but among my favorites is the ancient Chinese proverb that says “Not having a goal is worse than never achieving one.”   You’ve got to know where you’re going or you’ll never get there.  Then there’s Billy Wilder’s epitaph, “I am a writer, but nobody’s perfect.”

Susan Sloate

SUSAN SLOATE is the author of 20 previous books, including the recent bestseller Stealing Fire and Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre: the self-help novel. The original 2003 edition of Forward to Camelot became a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in three literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production. Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and a screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.

Kevin's author pic       After beginning his career as a television news and sports writer-producer, KEVIN FINN moved on to screenwriting and has authored more than a dozen screenplays. He is a freelance script analyst and has worked for the prestigious American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program. He now produces promotional trailers, independent film projects including the 2012 documentary SETTING THE STAGE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and local content for Princeton Community Television. His next novel, Banners Over Brooklyn, will be released in 2014. For updates and more information about Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition, please visit  

Pump Up Your Book, Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins December 11 and ends on December 25.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, December 26, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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What Kind of Apocalypse Was That Again? Part 1 by Jody Wallace, author of 'Angeli'

Angeli Rounded (1)    
Title: Angeli
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Author: Jody Wallace
Publisher: Entangled Ignite
Pages: 170
Language: English
Format: Ebook

 Gregori’s last mission is to save Earth from the demons threatening to take control. He doesn’t care if he survives as long as he averts the impending apocalypse—until he meets Adelita, a human refugee, whose spirit and determination give him a renewed reason to fight. And live. He’s falling for her, despite the fact he’s told her nothing but lies and there can’t possibly be a future for them. Adelita can hardly believe the archangel Gregori, sent to save mankind, has lost his faith and his edge. After he saves her from a demon attack, she vows to help him recover both by any means necessary. But can she keep her own faith when she learns the truth about who and what Gregori really is?


What Kind of Apocalypse Was That Again? PART 1 

What happens in the days after the Chosen One fails to save the world? My latest novels, ANGELI (, is a sci-fi adventure romance about the apocalypse, sexy fake angels, the Earth woman who finds out they're fake but falls for one anyway, and a planet (ours!) in dire need of some saviors.

The type of apocalypse in ANGELI fluctuates. At first, it's a religious-type apocalypse. The alien soldiers whose mission is to stop the hordes of entities that like to eat all the life on planets often tell a planet's residents they're beings that mesh with that planet's cultural mythology. They don't want to warp the destiny of that planet any more than they must.

But then, when the heroine, Adelita, finds out the angeli are big ole fakers, the apocalypse is revealed as a sci-fi-based apocalypse where interdimensional entities who aren't affected by Earth's weapons are attempting to Hoover up all life on the Earth like nasty, blobby black vaccuum cleaners.

So what kinds of apocalypse novels did I scratch off my list when I got the urge to write about the end of days? Here's a few....

1) Clown apocalypse. After the clowns go bad, everyone who survives is forced to wear overly large shoes, red noses and rainbow wigs. They must travel in packs of twenty in very small cars and always be on the lookout for deadly assaults from boutonnières. The clown apocalypse is no circus utopia, friends, but it could be worse...I could have actually written about it!

2) Post-modern apocalypse. After the big information leak to end all information leaks (THANKS SNOWDEN), everyone suddenly believes reality isn't real but is instead dependent upon relativity and interpretation, leading to a huge upsurge in crime, dogs dressed like ballerinas, and people jumping off buildings because they think they can fly. Let's just say unemployment surged like never before.

I also decided not to write about the...

3) Polyester pants apocalypse. Because that already happened in the 70's, and nobody wants to read about that. It's too nightmarish.

If you'd like to see some more of my discarded apocalypse ideas, please follow along on my ANGELI ( blog tour! You can find a list of all the tour dates at:

Jody Wallace
Author, Cat Person, Amigurumist of the Apocalypse *


 Jody Wallace grew up in the South in a very rural area. She went to school a long time because there was always something new to learn and ended up with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. Her resume includes college English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, web designer, and general all around pain in the butt. She currently lives in Tennessee with her family: 1 husband, 2 kids, 2 cats. One of her many alter egos is “The Grammar Wench”, which should give you an indication of her character. She is a terrible packrat and likes to amass vintage clothing, books, Asian-inspired kitchenware, gnomes, and other items that threaten to force her family out of the house. She also likes cats. A lot. Ms. Wallace’s approach to writing is to tell as many outlandish lies as she can get her readers to swallow. Her dream is to be moderately well-paid for this service. She is active in RWA and occasionally conducts writing workshops. Among topics she’s been known to cover are training sessions for contest judges (she coordinated her local RWA chapter contest for many years), point of view, dialogue punctuation and creativity enhancement.


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Interview with Freddie Owens, author of 'Then Like the Blind Man'

A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.
I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.
“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”
I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.
It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with...force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘... just at the right place’.
Freddie Owens’ latest book is Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story.
Visit his website at

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I practice Tai Chi and work out with free weights. I like to ride my bicycle from time to time. I live in Boulder, Colorado and the city is very biker friendly, so there are many paved pathways for bikes of all kinds. I have a meditation practice, and have studied many years with various meditation teachers in both the Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist Traditions. I like to read, when I can, what I consider to be good writers, writers I've learned to write from actually like Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Raymond Carver and Joyce Carol Oats. I like Pinot Noir and prime rib. I dine out at least once a week. Italian cuisine is favored. I like movies and HBO. I like Breaking Bad, Dead Wood and Boardwalk Empire. I'm an avid basketball fan and follower of The Denver Nuggets. I like football too and Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. I read the NY Times on Sunday and Boulder's Dailey Camera during the week. Oh, and I like to record my voice; here's a sample.   

When did you start writing?

1970, I believe – because I didn't know what else to do with myself. My first writing desk consisted of an old door supported with cinder blocks I set up in a clothes closet. I used and old Smith Corona typewriter and made carbon copies of the poems I wrote on onionskin paper.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

When it dawned on me back in the early 90s that as a psychotherapist I was going nowhere, I began to think about writing seriously. I had been away from it for quite some time – though I had always found time to write poems. I realized I wasn't getting any younger and that if I wanted to explore this thing that had bothered me for so long – this thing called writing – I had best get to it. I started experimenting with stream of consciousness and automatic writing – and by keeping a journal – and by developing the discipline of being on the spot each day before a blank page.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

Tompkinsville, Kentucky. I'm planning the sequel to my debut Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie's Story, which is set in Kentucky and think it would be grand to rub shoulders with folks from that part of the country. I think it would be interesting also to spend time around or near black communities in the south. I'm not sure exactly where I'd go to do this. Savannah and New Orleans keep coming up as possible places to visit.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Well, as I'm currently answering questions to gazillions of interviews and writing guest posts for a 3 month long virtual book tour (a la Pump Up Your Book), I'd most likely use the time to get a little more of that done. I suppose the 'right' answer, if such a thing exists, would be to say that I'd use the time to meditate or work out with free weights but nah...I'd probably watch TV or if I could, I'd catch a Denver Nuggets Basketball game downtown at the Pepsi Center.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

This is difficult to say, since I don't yet have another story outside a possible sequel to Blind Man in mind. Paris. How about Paris? Or Harlem? Or down and out Detroit? How about San Francisco? My guess is that none of these would ultimately suffice. Settings are like characters I think. They have their own voice and manner of speaking not to mention behaving. Witness the difference of expression say of a stormy setting as opposed to one of idyllic calm.

Back to your present book, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie's Story, how did you publish it?

After many years of 'almost' and 'no' or 'yes but we wouldn't know how to market it' from agents and publishers alike, I've opted for 'certainly' and 'yes' instead, taking all my marbles to Amazon's Independent Publisher's Assistant, Createspace, which has become Blind Sight Publications and Then Like The Blind Man's home base.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Yes, in my mind, I went south and back in time. Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became the novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a 'city slicker' from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature's neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado's approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.

Why was writing Then Like The Blind Man so important to you?

I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a novel and that it would be not just another ho hum piece of writing but something special. I think I succeeded in doing that, at least to some extent – and if I do say so myself. After discovering Orbie's voice, of course, the novel's importance for me took on an added dimension of fascination – having to do mainly with point of view – how a nine-year-old boy might experience, see, touch, taste, smell and/or hear a world strangely wonderful though troubled by storms – and how he might render the experience of it in the vernacular.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

Many of my best ideas come only after exhausted efforts. It's as though I have to go through a process of trying and failing and then giving up altogether before out of the blankness of no ideas occurring whatsoever presto change-o one occurs. Go figure.

Any final words?

I guess I should be more circumspect in public and not say that it astounds me that so many people now have read Then Like the Blind Man and actually like it. In fact, there's been a surfeit of praise. I'm tickled of course but is this possible? Am I not dreaming a pleasant dream from which I'll awaken one day to discover the harsh truth, i.e., that the book is sub par, mediocre and yet another example of self published claptrap? I ask myself this. And I'm a little embarrassed, I guess. I mean I'm out there now, publicized in a way I'm only gradually getting to know. It's sort of like having been behind locked doors for years and years and finally finding a key of sorts and using it to open the door and stepping out into the sunshine - where everything is now exposed. The temptation, of course, is to crawl back, go back inside, shut the doors, shut out the over bright lights. Seems odd and a little disconcerting at times but I seem to have an abiding affiliation with the darkness, more so than I do with the light - it is the darkness that interests me, that causes me to explore. But that requires light, doesn't it? I need the light; but I love the darkness. 

About the Book:

A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads,
Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Guest Post from Michelle McLean, author of 'A Bandit's Betrayed Heart'

Bandit Betrayed
Title: A Bandit's Betrayed Heart
Genre: Romance
Author: Michelle McLean
Publisher: Entangled Scandalous
Pages: 171
Language: English
Format: Ebook

 Not your typical Southern belle...

 Lucy Richardson's bandit sisters may have taught her to sling a gun and pick a stubborn lock, but nothing prepared her for the agony of her first heartbreak. Her sisters taught her to fight like hell for what she wants... and she wants Finn.

Not your proper Southern gentleman...

 Finn Taggart is bad news. His dark and tortured past always catches up to him, and Lucy deserves better than to be tainted by his touch. He couldn't have her years ago, and he can't have her now, no matter how enticing she is. If only he can convince her of that before the danger that follows him brings them both down.

Not your classic love story...

 Danger doesn't exactly scare a girl like Lucy, and she knows how to use all kinds of weapons... including her feminine wiles. Finn doesn't stand a chance. And if they need backup... the Blood Blade Sisters are never far away...  


Historical romances were my first literary love. I write other genres, and I very much enjoy doing so. But there will always be a special place in my heart for historicals.
I began reading at a very young age. The first novels I remember reading on my own were the Little House on the Prairie books. But the first romances I ever read were Victoria Holt’s gothic romances. I still love reading these books. I love getting swept into the distant past, into beautiful, mysterious settings, and most of all, into the romance of it all. Ms. Holt’s books are full of suspense and mystery, with heroes that are always dashing and handsome and very often a little (or a lot) dangerous. There is nothing I love more than getting swept into an intense love story that is surrounded by mystery and danger. A story that gets my heart pumping both because of the amazing romance between the heroine and her hero, and because of the dangerous, suspenseful, or mysterious situations in which they often find themselves. It’s what I love to read. So when I write, these are the types of stories I try to create.
History has always been a passion of mine; I even got my undergrad degree in history. So when I began writing my own novels, it wasn’t really a conscious choice for me. I just sat down and started writing a historical. I love being able to spend my creative time floating in a bubble of poofy dresses, sprawling manors, nobility and royalty, and spectacular balls. Where manly men strut with their bulging biceps and a gutsy, intelligent, independent heroine sticks out like a sore thumb among her gentle, refined peers. It’s fun to put a little modern sass into a historical character and watch what happens :)
While I will continue to write, and enjoy, other genres, historical romance is always going to be my first and truest love.


Romance and non-fiction author Michelle McLean spent 98% of her formative years with her nose in a book indulging in her love of reading and research. She has a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, insane eclectic tastes, and tends to be a bit of an organized mess with an insatiable love of books. When Michelle's not editing, reading or chasing her kids around, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book. She resides in PA with her husband and two children, an insanely hyper dog, and two very spoiled cats.


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Love, International Style by Entangled Ignite Book Feature

Love International Style Round       
Title: Love, International Style
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Author: Caridad Piniero, Nikki Logan, Cathy Perkins
Publisher: Entangled Ignite
Pages: 500
Language: English
Format: Ebook

 Love, International Style boxed 4-in-1 set These four tales of international love and intrigue will set your heart on fire this Valentine’s Day!

The Prince’s Gamble by Caridad Piñeiro

Prince Alexander Ivanov is scrambling to save his reputation and his livelihood. One of the Russian Nights Casino’s hostesses has disappeared, and his business is suddenly under investigation by the FBI for associations with the mob and money laundering. Special Agent Kathleen Martinez has no patience with rich, entitled aristocrats, especially one like Alexander Ivanov whom she believes is involved in the vicious human trafficking ring which she’d tried—and failed—to shut down two years earlier. With a second chance to bring him to justice, she goes undercover in the casino, but instead of facing the villain she expected, she finds herself battling a sizzling attraction to the man.Now, forced to work together to trace the source of the illegal activities, the danger—and the passion between them—grows out of control, and they slowly begin to realize the biggest danger isn’t to the casino, it’s to their lives…and to their hearts.

To Catch A Princess by Caridad Piñeiro

Untold wealth, a loving family, a solid career in America: the only thing Princess Tatiana lacks is the one thing she really doesn’t want—a husband. Unfortunately, her parents have just arranged her marriage to a royal from the old country. Are they kidding? It’s the twenty-first century! Police Detective Peter Roman is a royal living incognito … and escaping a secret that has haunted his family for years. He’s been quietly in love with his best friend Prince Alexander’s sister for as long as he can remember. Little does she know that he is secretly the Grand Duke to whom she is unwillingly betrothed…When a series of high-end jewelry heists threatens Tatiana’s exclusive charity exhibition in glamorous Monaco, the two must trap the clever jewel thief before he strikes again. In a fight for their lives, Peter’s secret identity is revealed. With danger and passion increasing to the breaking point, she must decide: catch a thief...or trust the heart of her true love.

For Love or Money by Cathy Perkins

When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body while hiking, her life suddenly takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. The verdict is murder—and Holly is the prime suspect. Of course, the fact that the infinitely sexy—and very pissed off—cop threatening to arrest her is JC Dimitrak, who just happens to be Holly’s jilted ex-fiancé, doesn’t help matters.To protect her future, her business...and her heart...the intrepid forensic accountant must use all her considerable investigative skills to follow the money through an intricate web of shadow companies, and stay one step ahead of her ex-fiancé to solve the case. Before the real killer decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass...and the next dead body found beside the river is Holly’s.

Wild Encounter by Nikki Logan

Veterinarian Clare Delaney is in Africa transporting endangered wild animals to a protected habitat when poachers intercept her convoy, taking Clare hostage along with her priceless cargo. Everything about Clare’s dangerously sexy captor, Simon DeVries, is steeped in deception. He lies about his real activities in Zambia and the fate of the animals; he keeps his efforts to rescue Clare a secret from his partners in crime; and he’s lying to everyone about his true identity as an undercover MI6 agent. The complex web threatens to unravel when the poachers unexpectedly change their plan and Simon is tasked with getting rid of their beautiful hostage—permanently.



 Caridad was born in Havana, Cuba, and settled in the New York Metropolitan area. She attended Villanova University on a Presidential Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude. Caridad earned her juris doctor from St. John’s University and became the first female partner of Abelman, Frayne & Schwab, an intellectual property firm in midtown Manhattan.




 Cathy Perkins’ suspense writing lurks behind a financial geek day-job, where she learned firsthand the camouflage, hide in plain sight, skills employed by her villains. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her work-a-holic husband and a 75 pound Lab who thinks she’s still a lap-puppy.



 Nikki Logan lives amongst a string of wetlands in Western Australia with her long-suffering partner and a menagerie of furred, feathered and scaly mates. She studied film and theatre at university, and worked for years in advertising and film distribution before finally settling down in the wildlife industry. Her romance with nature goes way back, and she considers her life charmed, given that she works with wildlife by day and writes fiction by night–the perfect way to combine her two loves. Nikki believes that the passion and risk of falling in love are perfectly mirrored in the danger and beauty of wild places. Every romance she writes contains an element of nature, and if readers catch a waft of rich earth or the spray of wild ocean between the pages she knows her job is done. Nikki debuted for Harlequin Enterprises (writing for the Romance line) in February 2010.


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Monday, January 27, 2014

Interview with Brine Books, Publishers of 'My Whispers of Horror'

My Whisper of Horror Revised


Women search for happiness no matter where they live. They want to build a life, family, career in order to insure a wholesome future. But in much of the world the patriarchal cultures women are born into simply nip at a woman's potential and brutally guards the slave-like position that women occupy. Women struggle as they are bought and sold as property. Their inheritance of an unequal and corrupt system that works against them. All while being enforced by domestic violence which women must deal with alone. These issues, and so much more, are addressed by the voices of real women in ex-USSR nations. We included anonymous letters that will touch and terrify you on a personal level, while learning what women still have to deal with today.

Can you please tell us a little about My Whispers of Horror: Letters Telling Women’s True Tales from ex-USSR Nations? 

This book is a collection of true stories from real women in Ukraine and Russia, where brave women from those countries had sent to us letters telling us their tales of domestic violence, human trafficking, child abuse, and more. Their stories tell what many other women consistently experience within these countries.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

Finding women that were brave enough to openly discuss about what they experience, especially in countries where there is very little encouragement to confront or escape it. Or even any real assistance to break free. Some still manage to find a way in such dire circumstances, but it is far from easy. It is hard enough when there are social programs in place like in western nations, but in countries where there aren’t much of any it is much more difficult.

Do you have a favorite excerpt from the book? If so, could you please share it with us? 

This is from the story of Ekaterina whom was brought over from Russia to New York City where she was then forced into prostitution: Even so, during our final goodbyes, our families and my husband exchanged many kisses, hugs, and tears with me before I finally departed. They all mentioned how they loved me, would miss me, and how they respected my sacrifice for our family. Everyone was there for the goodbye: my parents, my grandparents, his parents, his grandparents, my two brothers, and his sister along with his brother. They were all there as one supportive family to show their love and care for me and their support for our family’s decision. I even received a few little gifts and many pictures to take with me, along with my favorite thing of all: a photograph of my husband holding our small baby. All mothers I’m sure understand the kind of pain involved in leaving behind a child. They must understand how difficult that is. To leave my husband and my baby girl! It brought me to tears countless times during those weeks. I finally arrived in the United States, the land supposedly for the free; well, maybe anyone but me. After retrieving my bags, I found my boss, an older woman of obvious Russian decent. She explained to me that she had been in the same position as me, and that if I was obedient and good at my work, much success could come my way. Believe me, I tried to find out more about my duties on the way from the airport, but all she’d do was just smile that charismatic smile and then tell me that I’d be fine and learn in good time. Plus, she explained, there was no rush. It was best to enjoy the sites on this drive as I might be too busy to see much of them for a while. And, that I did, as it was my first time seeing any city outside of Russia. The city was beautiful and, truthfully, I was charmed by the new and different culture along with the surrounding architecture. Not even for a moment did I question what was about to happen. Who would ever think that anyone could do anything so cruel to, well, anyone else? When the taxi dropped us off at an old apartment building, that was when I began to feel unease wave over me. This place didn’t look as charming as the rest of the town. The apartment building didn’t appear appealing at all. And, that was when things started to go downhill. The older woman, Helga, took me into the building where there appeared to be vacant halls, though it looked like there was a lot of use not long ago. I was brought to one of the flats, and there were two men already there. They offered me a drink, which I had at first declined, but after some pressure I reluctantly accepted their offer. One of the men, along with Helga, sat with me at the table, while the other man stood by the door as if he were some kind of security. They were discussing with me about my home and family. All seemed quite normal at first, until he finally said, “And, you better do as we say... if you care for their wellbeing.” I stood up to try to leave, but the other man moved in the way of the door. I was also beginning to feel very odd. My drink! Drugged with some kind of substance to make me more obedient. It was then that I slipped and fell to the floor. The man at the table was quickly on his feet, only to push me down further toward the ground as I tried to get back up.

What do you hope readers will take away after reading the book? 

We hope that our readers will be inspired by what they read, along with gaining a better understanding on what women experience around the world. Unfortunately women's equality still has not been won and the battle is not yet over. Even less so in these other countries.

What was your writing process while writing this book? 

I wouldn't call it a writing process as we didn't write the majority of the book. We gathered the material from brave women whom opened up to the world on what is going on. We merely translated, edited, added a foreword, and published it. It is the women in these letters that deserve to be applauded for what they had done.

Who or what was the inspiration for the book? 

For myself, my wife and co-publisher would have been my inspiration. She had told me all of what she had seen while growing up in Ukraine. If I never met her then this book would have never happened as I wouldn't have known just how bad it was. She deserves a lot of credit.

Have you had a mentor? If so, can you talk about them a little?

One of my great mentors of my past was my publishing teacher. While the publishing industry has changed considerably since my university days, it had taught me the patience and dedication necessary to get a piece on the market. While sooner or later you have to let it go and not expect absolute perfection, you do need to put it through the steps to bring forward a quality piece.

I have heard it said in order to be a good writer, you have to be a reader as well? Do you find this to be true? And if you are a reader, do you have a favorite genre and/or author? 

I would say that every writer has their own inspiration in order to draw their inspiration and influence from. No two writers are alike. What you mainly need to know is your audience and what will inspire them, and what will make them feel for your work. Do I think that you have to be of the highest calibre when it comes to literature and with their grammar? No. There is always editing after all. The job of the writer is to bring the stories and characters to the page and to make sure the reader feels something.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

We are actually a publishing house with a greater emphasis on human rights issues around the world. We will also be coming out with more books soon, so keep watch on our website at



We are an activist publishing company established as a partnership by a husband and wife in Ontario, Canada. The mission of this business is bring awareness for serious human rights issues around the world, while raising funds to expand our capabilities and to help fund non-profits and charities whose purpose is to better the world. Our main purpose as a company is to find ways to better the world. We feel that if we fail in this mission then we fail as a business, so we will not give up on our goal. The release of our books and the profits that we raise are meant for this very purpose.
  View their site at

Pump Up Your Book and Brine Books are giving away a Kindle Fire HDX!

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Interview with Ellen Larson, author of 'In Retrospect' - Win an ARC of her book!

In Retrospect

Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself. The year is 3324. In the region once known as Turkey, the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders. Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans work secretly to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert their control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection. Merit, though reinstated to her old job by the despised Rasakans, knows she is only a puppet. If she refuses to travel back in time to identify Zane’s killer, her family and colleagues will pay the price. But giving in to Rasakan coercion means giving them unimaginable power. She has only three days to make this morally wrenching choice; three days to change history. As the preliminary investigation progresses, Merit uncovers evidence of a wider plot. How did the Rasakans defeat the technologically superior Oku? Why did the Oku surrender prematurely? How did the Rasakans discover her true identity? Merit realizes she will only find the answers by learning who killed the traitor, General Zane. In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future.

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What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? 

I’ve done a number of things in my sixty years that I am personally proud of having done; things that are important to me. But I am not someone who people point at as having done anything major. Nonetheless I have an answer to this question! A hands down winner. During the fifteen years I lived in Egypt, I organized a fund to send the two daughters of my housekeeper to college. The cost was not great (the equivalent of about a thousand dollars a year), but it was the difference between night and day for those two girls.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? When and why did you begin writing? 

I started writing my first book when I was nine years old (I haven’t finished it yet, but I still have it, so I haven’t given up, either). But if writing can be said to begin long before the words hit the page, I started writing even earlier than that. I was a dreamer, and what I wrote in that black and white composition book at nine was a story that I had imagined to myself many times. Since you left out “what” I’ll spare you those details, but I can tell you that it was 1962 and I was in my hometown of Haworth, NJ. The idea of writing a book seemed to me an obvious thing to want to do, along with riding a bicycle and playing the piano. I don’t recall telling anyone what I was doing. I don’t recall the first time I imagined a story in my head. It has just always been there, a part of me—frequently discouraged by my betters (“you’re wasting your time daydreaming” “you can’t make a living as a writer”), but never regretted.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 

From the stories I heard and the books that I read as a child, of course. I am sure we all remember how wholly absorbing stories were when we were children. I had a list of books I had read in my head (I’m sure we all remember how good our memories once were), and that list was like a travelogue of where I had been in my imagination. Amazingly, I loved every book I read.  Fortunately, I read a lot of classic children’s books, so this is not all that surprising. Words fascinated me--their shape, their hidden meanings, and the magical way they came together to make me laugh or cry. By the time I was six, reading was like entering an altered state, where I could be anyone, experience heroic adventures and fight for good (always for good). As noted above, the switch from reading to writing was subconscious, just another way to enter that altered state.

When did you first know you could be a writer? - What inspires you to write and why? - What genre are you most comfortable writing? 

All of them. Preferably all at once. No, seriously: In 2002, a reviewer (Laura Blackwell) wrote “Bookstore workers will hate trying to figure out where to shelve Ellen Larson’s The Measure of the Universe, which cleverly weaves mystery, romance, and wordplay into a twenty-first century tale….” Not much seems to have changed, because categorizing In Retrospect, my current book, has always been an issue. I submitted it to every science fiction publisher I could before switching over to mystery publishers (where it finally found a home). It fits more genres that is probably good for it: science fiction, mystery, dystopian (my publisher refers to it as a dystopian murder mystery), literary, whodunit, psychological mystery, post-apocalyptic, (obviously the fine art of marketing is not my first concern) and female sleuth. Honestly, to me it’s just a book--the characters are what is important, and a satisfying plot. The rest is window dressing.

What inspired you to write your first book? - Who or what influenced your writing once you began? 

For most writers, growing as a professional is a long, hard slog that never seems to end. If you’re satisfied, you don’t really know what writing is all about. Writing is a fractal occupation: you can increase the magnification under which you examine your own work for flaws again and again and again, and there will always be nuances to tinker with. The trick is not to feel inadequate because of this, but to be able to draw a line and stop. I happen to have made a living as a substantive (or content) editor for the past twenty years, so I see what goes on when a piece of writing is put together, and I know how writers think. But that is another issue, which I only bring up to say that what has influenced me most as a writer is being the editor of other writers, and having the opportunity to see, with maximum perspective, what mistakes everybody else is repeatedly making. There is something galvanizing about being annoyed by some simple and obviously avoidable flaw in someone else’s writing—and then finding it staring up at you from the pages of your own. I recommend it.

 Or did you mean, what author or other writings have influence me over the years? Hmm. Ursula K. Le Guin is at the top of the list. Not her style, but what she wrote about. It resonates. No, wait; Shakespeare has to be at the top of the list, because, well…Shakespeare. I read all the plays in my twenties, struggling through the annotated Pelican Shakespeare and watching the BBC Shakespeare plays as I read, because otherwise it was literally like reading a language I did not understand. Zero insight, zero comprehension. But man, it drew me, because the rhythms were sooooo beautiful and the words were so chock-full of imagery and meaning. Connecting my own language with the language of Elizabethan England taught me that anything goes; there are no universal meanings, and grammar is a tool of meaning, not its creator.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? 

Finding the time to do it.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? 

In Retrospect tells the story of Merit Rafi; the book stands or falls with her. At the start of the book, Merit is at the lowest point in her life: depressed, drugged, and more or less the prisoner of the enemies of her state. I wrote the book to explore her decision-making process; to take away the colleagues, friends, family, and other groups she had always depended on and then see what she would do when confronted with a no-win situation. Merit is valuable to her enemies because she is attuned for time travel; the question is, will she allow herself to time travel for her enemies, even in an apparently good cause, or will she stand by what she believes in? I wanted it to be an important decision; I wanted the stakes to be huge for her on a personal level. What I learned was how to portray slightly larger-than-life characters; how to make sure that the reader would care about Merit; how to get a reader to admire a character, even when the character herself is filled with shame.

Do you intend to make writing a career? 

Fiction writing? I’d have to be crazy to do that, since one does want to eat. Happily I have a nice career as an editor, and if I can sell a story or two now and then, I will be happy.

Have you developed a specific writing style? 

Style issues are funny old things. If you’re in the third grade, you are told that good style means you must write clearly and avoid repetition; that your paragraphs should be neither too long nor too short, and should begin with a topic-setting sentence. When you get older, and decide you want to be a professional writer, these turn out to be more issues of technique than style, though it might be generally accepted that long paragraphing (think Faulkner) is a style choice. Among readers, a writer’s style is assumed to be the way she writes, and is described by (of all things) adverbs and adjectives. A style can be called flowery, literary, objective, gushing, elaborate, plain, wordy, beautiful, rigid, or even mellifluous or old-fashioned. These terms work pretty well to convey a reader’s thoughts. If you talk to the academics, you quickly find yourself talking about style in terms of literary mode and point of view and narrative voice. You might mention that the journalist’s style is different from the narrative storyteller’s; you might mention epistolary mode, or that writing can be casual, formal, legal, or colloquial. You might even hear “saga style.” These terms carry quite a lot of meaning if you’re a student of the arts. If you’re an editor, you might cast a thought toward The Elements of Style, Strunk’s prescription for excellence in writing, written a hundred ago and still as potent as castor oil. For editors, “good style” is an issue of proper usage and consistency. But it’s hard to argue with such sage advise as “Make every word tell” and “omit needless words.” Good man, Strunk.

 So asking whether or not I’ve developed a writing style is a tricky question. But I’ll assume you are suggesting a general understanding of style. Though even then, most of what makes up a writer’s style is the result of the time in which the writer lives and the task of writing at hand. My essay writing style has been called didactic. In my youth, you might have said my fiction style was wordy, florid, prolix, overly complex, and flowery. Full of adverbs and adjectives. You know the type. I have worked for decades to simplify both my syntax and my language use, digging down to the core of what I wanted to say for its meaning. Even now, my rough drafts are non-stop purple prose. I do a lot of self-editing.

 I can say that I have no preference between first and third person; that I am probably more fond of the use of an omniscient narrator than most of my generation; that I have a tough time writing short stories (my natural length for a short story is 15,000 to 20,000 words); that in general I prefer a female protagonist. Though curiously, I am currently writing a book (Wildcraft) from the male POV with a strong female c0-protagonist. Hmm. This question is tough. My final answer is, yes, I have developed a specific writing style.

 What is your greatest strength as a writer? 

I have done a lot of different types of writing in my life, plus I’ve done a tremendous amount of editing (copy editing and substantive editing and language editing). This has equipped me with a nice set of tools with which to approach each new writing task. I think I am aware of what the building blocks of writing are and how they are best used. I do not expect a rough draft to be beautifully or consistently written; I understand that narrative storytelling is not something that streams forth from the writer, but is built up like a painting in many layers. I’m also forgiving of my fallibility.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

I don’t think I’m any more important than anyone else who has ever lived. And I don't think anyone else is more important than me. So, whatever you call that.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself? 

I talk too much.


Ellen Larson’s first story appeared in Yankee Magazine in 1971. She has sold stories to AHMM (Barry Award finalist) and Big Pulp and is the author of the NJ Mysteries, The Hatch and Brood of Time and Unfold the Evil, featuring a sleuthing reporter. Her current book is In Retrospect, a dystopian mystery (Carefully crafted whodunit -PW starred). Larson lived for seventeen years in Egypt, where she developed a love of different cultures. She is editor of the Poisoned Pencil, the YA mystery imprint. These days she lives in an off-grid cabin in upstate New York, enjoying the solitude. Visit her at

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Pump Up Your Book and Ellen are teaming up to give you a chance to win 1 of 5 ARC's of In Retrospect!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one of five ARC copies of In Retrospect
  • This giveaway begins January 14 and ends on January 31.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on February 1, 2014.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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