Friday, September 28, 2018

Book Blast: Dying for a Drink by Amelia Baker - Win a $25 Gift Card

Title: Dying for a Drink
Author: Amelia Baker
Publisher: AuthorHouse UK
Genre: Biography
Format: Ebook

Dying for a Drink is a true story of the chaos and hurt caused by an alcoholic. The author, telling her own story, writes of time spent in multiple rehabs, both in the United Kingdom and Sydney, Australia. She writes in the hope that her story will encourage other alcoholics and addicts (which can be anybody addicted to anything)—that they will see in their own stories the similarities rather than the differences. The memoir depicts her rapid decline after she crossed the ‘invisible line’ and shows how her loved ones were devastated by her behaviour—and how they lived in fear that this disease would lead to her death. It chronicles, too, her sense of freedom and surrender and hope amid the sobriety from which she is sharing her journey and the beginnings of relationships repaired, with both loved ones and self.


The author is a fifty-two-year-old woman suffering from a chronic, progressive, and often fatal disease. She’s battled alcoholism for twelve years and has been medically detoxed eleven times, eight in rehabs and three in hospital. Six of these detoxes happened since moving from Australia to a small village in South Wales, United Kingdom. Alcoholism has torn her family apart, and she was finally brought to her knees at the end of the year before she undertook the writing of this memoir—after leaving her third 28-day rehab in England. She had to surrender and is now free of alcohol and drugs. She’s been married twice. Her first husband was her soul mate. Together, they have two beautiful children—a son, twenty-three at the time of this writing, and a daughter, twenty. She lived in Australia for over twenty years and was a stay-at-home mum. Devastated by the breakdown of her first marriage, and on the rebound, she married a man she’d met in AA. This second marriage went horribly wrong. He picked up drink and drugs shortly after they were married and he abused her to the point of an AVO (apprehended violence order) being put in place following his arrest. She moved back to the United Kingdom twenty months before starting her memoir, as both her kids were studying in Edinburgh. She decided to write Dying for a Drink in the hope it would give other alcoholics and addicts hope. She wishes to remain anonymous, as she has bared her soul and shared in these pages all the ‘horrors’ of her drinking.


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 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins September 24 and ends on October 5.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on October 6.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 


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Monday, September 24, 2018

Blog Tour / Interview: Carol Jeffers, Author of The Question of Empathy: Searching for the Essence of Humanity

Through her writing, Carol Jeffers blends narrative nonfiction and fiction to more fully explore the human condition. She is the author of works both in short- and long-form. Her forthcoming book, The Question of Empathy, was named a semi-finalist in the 2017 Pirates’ Alley William Faulkner Writing Competition (Walter Isaacson, judge). A Professor Emeritus of Art Education, her interest in empathic listening began in the classroom years ago when she and her university students explored works of art that served as personal metaphors. These experiences and related interactions with art, self, and others were the subjects of Carol’s academic writing published in refereed journals, edited volumes and a single-author book (Spheres of Possibility: Linking Service-Learning and the Visual Arts) during her university career.



Author: Carol Jeffers
Publisher: Koehler Books
Pages: 209
Genre: Creative Nonfiction/Speculative Nonfiction

What if we all had a power to connect with others, to understand what they are feeling, what they are thinking? What if such a power was flighty, unreliable, open to true understanding or total confusion? Would that make us better human beings? In The Question of Empathy, Carol Jeffers explores a power that exists today within each of us and its ability to connect and to delude.
Have you ever wondered about empathy, what it is and why it matters? What makes us human and capable of incredible caring, total savagery, or worse, complete indifference toward each other? Are you looking for ways to better understand yourself, the people around you and across the world? The Question of Empathy entreats you to explore this hard-wired capacity, not through rose colored glasses, but with an honest look at human nature. Philosophy and psychology, neuroscience and art lead the way along a journey of discovery into what makes us who we are and how we connect to others. It isn’t always easy, but then neither is real life. The Question of Empathy offers a roadmap.



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 read as much fiction as I possibly can. After a long career as a university professor with barely enough time to keep up with the academic journals in my field, I am excited, even a little desperate to discover the world of good creative writing. I want to learn all I can about how a well-crafted piece can stir the reader, use metaphor to distill the essence of human nature.
When I say reading, I should clarify. I mean listening to audio books and to The New Yorker podcasts. Good writing is very rhythmical, which is wonderfully apparent when read aloud. Not to mention that my hands are free and I can knit, run through my exercise routine, make lunch, make the bed, do those otherwise boring household chores barely noticeable in the flow of fresh, intriguing writing.
I also go walking with my husband in the evenings, a brisk pace that for thirty minutes allows us to reflect on the day’s events as we work to keep the cholesterol and blood pressure down, the energy and spirits up.
When did you start writing?
I began writing creatively after my retirement from academic life in June 2014. I am getting a late start. Funny, I had been a full professor for fifteen years, but learning to write creatively for the first time, join writers’ group and attend conferences made me feel like I was starting over. I was back in grad school, so to speak, learning the ropes, cobbling together a program to prepare me for what I hoped would be a new career. It was exhilarating, interesting, challenging as I groped for handles to hold on to while practicing my craft. I found some online writing courses that really helped propel me forward, walk upright, gain confidence and get vital feedback.
As a published writer, what would you say was the most pivotal point in your writing life?
Like any university professor, I focused on all things academic. Conducting research and publishing the results in journals (publish or perish, as it were). I was always interested in the ineffable yet powerful relationships between human beings and works of art and focused on the key question: what does it mean “to be human?” Dry, boring, jargon-filled academic writing always fell short, was never able to capture the nuance, the richness and ineffability of profound experiences with art and experiences with each other. Indeed, a “telling” approach acceptable to journal editors was not acceptable to me. Or to readers, as I soon discovered.
I found that “showing” readers what human beings were doing in the art museum, showing how students felt about works of art that served as their personal metaphors was more revealing and far more satisfying to readers and to me. I began to include classroom vignettes with my articles and was able to get them published in academic journals.
A good friend and colleague told me about “creative non-fiction” one day, a new genre gaining some traction in the writing world. “That’s what you’re doing,” she said with a smile. That changed everything for me! I smiled back, loved having a name for what I knew I wanted to do.
With retirement coming, I couldn’t wait to leave academic journal-writing behind and learn all I could about “creative non-fiction.” In fact, the first order of business was to rewrite the existing draft of my empathy book, to take it from the academic “telling” and move it into creative “showing.” The book and I came to life, oxygenated, inspired. It was a way to reveal our search for empathy and Empathy’s search for us.
If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
Paris. Happily, we are bound for the City of Light after Christmas and hope to find a neighborhood café to have tea and a buttery baguette while we write. I will be inspired by the many artists and writers who have come before, who did their best work in Paris, in their neighborhood haunts. I will wonder about the artists and writers of today, about the edgy work they are doing, the books they are reading, the museum shows they are seeing.
We have been to Paris many times before, so our touristy days are behind us. We know the neighborhood where we like to stay, have a café or two in mind. A real working vacation ever so sustaining.
If you had four hours of extra time today, what would you do?
If I had four hours, I would grab my husband and head for the nearby Huntington Library and Gardens. This is a huge, restorative place. Strolling through its different gardens, we reconnect with a botanical world, with each other, remember what it means to be alive. Lose ourselves in the cactus area with its stunning golden barrels and prickly pears, the Japanese area with its magnificent koi and moon bridge, the Zen meditation garden and bonsai collection, the Chinese area complete with lotuses and water lilies in its sparkling lake. There is the amazing collection of historic manuscripts at the library and art exhibited in Henry Huntington’s mansion and in newer galleries. And there is lunch, reflection, relaxation, renewal.
Where would you like to set a story that you have’t done yet?
The new project that calls me will be set in an old Victorian farmhouse we once fixed up. Our own story about the headache and heartache, the labor of love of restoring an abandoned house while we started a family, went to graduate school and commuted to jobs miles and miles away is something to tell.
But I am much more interested in the first family, the one to build the house, to raise their children and farm the land around it. What was their story? There are some interesting historical records that offer a sketch, which further piques my curiosity. What was their story and how can I best tell it, bring it to life?
Back to The Question of Empathy: Searching for the Essence of Humanity, how did you publish it?
I shopped the manuscript around and noticed that once the manuscript was named a semifinalist in the Pirate’s Alley William Faulkner Writing Contest, there was a bit more interest. Koehler Books offered me a contract, a generous one at that and helped me follow the steps leading to  publication.
In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
In a way, I did travel for the The Question of Empathy, though not with luggage and a boarding pass. I traveled to my classroom in the Fine Arts building on campus where my students were in the cockpit carrying me higher than any 747 ever could. Using works of art as personal metaphors, they shared stories in class that resonated deeply and built caring, cross-connected communities that inspired me, crystalized in me an abiding interest in empathy. How had it come to visit us in this classroom? What would it take for empathy to appear in every classroom or shopping mall or in the halls of justice, the chambers of legislative bodies?
I was also inspired by a humble wooden bench on Moonstone Beach along California’s Central Coast. During one of our get-away weekends to this wild seaside ecosystem, my husband spotted a small plaque mounted on the old bench. “I shall always love a purple iris” it read. Such a simple poem, an elegant declaration that inscribed a mystery even as it stirred my empathy. Finding empathy in two very different places called me to delve in, do the research to understand this most human phenomenom.
Where do you get your best ideas?
As I mentioned earlier, my inspiration and drive to focus on empathy, share my journey into its mystery came from my students. Sorting through my thoughts, making sense of them finding the structure can happen at a place like Huntington Library and Gardens or during a walk on the beach. But more likely, it is the shower that crystalizes what is still murky and unresolved. The shower, where I am relaxed, not thinking about anything in particular, will surprise me with the “aha” moments, beautiful epiphanies when the steamy mist parts and everything comes clear. These are such magical experiences that I was moved to write about them in a personal essay called “Shower Moment” currently under review.
More about Carol at The Question of Empathy: Searching for the Essence of Humanity is available at and select bookstores.
Why was it important to write The Question of Empathy
Empathy as a subject, as a character even, is compelling. Discovering empathy in my classroom, in the students’ connections to their personal metaphors and to each other was moving. I wanted to share the students’ stories, describe how empathy thrived among them.
As I got deeper into the research, consulted the scientific, aesthetic, philosophical and psychological literature, it became clear to me that there was much to be done if the human community was ever to utilize its capacity for empathy. If we as human beings—Homo sapiens—were to become a better, more caring and self-actualized species—Homo empathicus—then we must actively search for the essence of our own humanity. Sadly, the current political and economic times will make this project more difficult and more necessary. Civility, compassion, tolerance and cooperation are at stake now more than ever before.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Blog Tour / Interview: Joerg H. Trauboth #thriller @jorg2dots

“Buddy McAllen is not far away. In fact, they almost trip over his ejector seat. The wind fills his parachute, causing it to pull away from the long, slender body of the American pilot and then deflate again. Buddy is shaking. The right side of his head along with his short blond hair is covered in blood. George sees a large dark stain on Buddy’s olive-green flight suit just above his right hip and, underneath him, a rather large pool of dried blood on the ground…”
--From THREE BROTHERS by Joerg H. Trauboth

Joerg H. Trauboth (Wikipedia) was born just outside of Berlin in 1943 during an air-raid. He discovered his love for writing early in his career as an officer and was awarded top honors by the General Inspector of the German Bundeswehr. Along the way, he flew over two thousand flight hours as a Weapons Systems Officer and instructor in the Phantom RF4E (in which he survived two critical lightening strikes). After a training in George AFB (CA), Major Joerg H. Trauboth flew the  Phantom F4F  and finally – followed by another conversion training in Cottesmore (UK) –  the Tornado aircrafts. Trauboth became a General Staff Officer in the Military Academy of the German Armed Forces in Hamburg-Blankenese and enrolled as LtCol  in the NATO Defense College in Rome. He has served in the German national operational headquarters as well as in the NATO Headquarters in Brussels as the German representative in the areas of Crisis Management, Operations, and Intelligence.
At the age of fifty, he retired early from his post as a Colonel in the German Air Force to become a Special Risk Consultant at the Control Risk Group in London. He was trained and engaged in negotiating extortion and kidnapping situations in South America and Eastern Europe.
The former Colonel, eager to start making money on his own soon founded the Trauboth Risk Management company. He received a startup award and quickly made a reputation for himself internationally as an top-notch crisis manager in Europe. During his time as CEO, he conceptualized crisis prevention strategies for a number of European companies and employed a 24-hour task force to protect them from product tampering, product recalls, kidnappings, and image crises. He was also a co-founder and the first president of the European Crisis Management Academy in Vienna and wrote a standard reference book on the subject of crisis management for companies at risk of threat.
Today Joerg H. Trauboth is an author, filmmaker with more than 75.000 youtube clicks, and an enthusiastic Grumman Tiger pilot. (See this latest night flight-video here. And if you want to know who his favorite Co-Pilot is, have a look here.)  The crisis manager and active pilot has served as the European Director and President of the US – based international American Yankee Pilots Organization.
His advice on crisis management is continually sought after and he is present as expert in radio and television interviews regarding his opinion on  international crisis situations.
Joerg H. Trauboth has been  53 years married with Martina. They have two sons, three grandchildren, and both live near Bonn, Germany. In addition, Trauboth voluntarily contributes his expertise to the Crisis Invention Team of the German Federal Foreign Office in Bonn and reads from his fiction and non fiction books on readers’ tours followed by discussions with his readers about the dramatically changing world.
Joerg’s latest book is the thriller, Three Brothers.
Book Description:

Marc Anderson and his two commando brothers Thomas and Tim are highly respected elite soldiers Operation Eagle is betrayed, causes Marc, Thomas, and Tim to narrowly escape death. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) starts the hunt for the informant.
in the secretive German Commando Special Forces, the KSK. Together with the American Navy Seals, they successfully rescue the crew of a downed American F-15 tactical fighter jet in the Hindu Kusch Mountains under a barrage of heavy fire from the Taliban. However, their next mission – in Northern Iraq – to save two German hostages taken captive by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ends in disaster for the three brothers in arms. The perfectly laid-out strategy of
The devoted commando brothers decide to leave the KSK and start a new career together as security advisors with a family-owned company based in Cologne. But the terrorist activities of ISIS continue to determine their fate. The brothers are faced with one of their greatest challenges when ISIS kidnaps company heir Johannes Ericson and his partner Karina Marie. Moreover, the terrorists demand a ransom and extort the German government to immediately suspend its military intervention in the fight against ISIS. It is a race against time to save the couple from assassination.
Joerg H. Trauboth has written more than just an exhilarating novel. Three Brothers unites the current omnipresent threat of terrorism with the author’s first-hand experience as a crisis manager and a military and terrorism expert. The result is an unrivaled political thriller. In this gripping novel, Trauboth foretells possible scenarios for our society in light of the rise of radical Islamic terrorism. Read the full chapter 1 here …
Three Brothers is the English translation of the successful German thriller Drei Brüder (ratio-books), highly appreciated by thousands of readers, as well as military organizations and government officials alike. Jörg H. Trauboth’s storytelling skills can be compared to those of Tom Clancy and similar authors as James Patterson. The German version of the novel will also soon be available as an audio book.
Drei Brüder has been translated into English by (US native) Leanne Cvetan.


Welcome Joerg! It’s interesting to find out how you got published for the first time. Can you share that experience?

Joerg: A well-known German publisher invited me to write a non-fiction book about Crisis Management. That was quite easy for me as a new author since prevention and response was my daily business. In 2001, the book became a standard source of information for all companies and persons who find it wise to be prepared; to think the unthinkable. In 2017, I developed that book further together with 5 other authors and it’s now used as standard lecture material in businesses and universities, but not is projected for translation.

How did you find a publisher for THREE BROTHERS?
After about 15 unsuccessful attempts and losing time, I sometimes felt with the early housewife Joanne K. Rowling who had more than 30 unsuccessful trials with her Harry Potter idea. Publisher said the book was too long and not a seller. And now look at this lady! As she, I found by recommendation a small publisher in my local area, Franz Koenig He was fascinated from the beginning. We started 2015 with the German edition “Drei Brüder” and this year we are going international followed by an audio book. And we are friends.

As an ordinary citizen in Germany, how did that you make you feel to become a published author?

Joerg: In Germany, they say you need to be a either a doctor or an author to be accepted as somebody different. I was always different in my life and did not need one nor the other. Therefore, after my first non-fiction book, I just continued to work in my real job as a crisis management consultant. But after my first thriller, devoted to my wife Martina, there was a noticeable difference. We went out for dinner and I dreamed of a successful career like Tom Clancy or Brad Thor and of Hollywood. Who knows…? 

During your 29-year military service, how did you have time to write or did you write back then?

Joerg: I always loved writing. But due to my 29-year military service, the results were seen only by very few people - if not shredded. My dream was to write for a big audience. I started writing as author at the age of 50 after my retirement. I have produced 2 non-fiction books about Crisis Management and now my first thriller, Three Brothers. Today, I am 75 years old and already in the middle of my next political thriller. Writing keeps you young. A well-written thriller with the perfect plot is an unbelievable challenge. And translating that into another language is an additional one – for the translator, the publisher and the author.

Are you a detail freak when it comes to writing your novels?

Joerg: I am a detail freak but force myself not to divulge everything, I like to leave room the readers’ imagination. Also, I work with emotions but try to minimize clichés. The book should have the potential for a second reading even after you know the end. I decide relatively early whether the book ends positively or negatively. Three Brothers ends positively and the reader closes the book, hopefully, with a peaceful feeling. That’s my plan or it is what I wish happens. Would anyone recommend a book that ends in disaster?
I adjust my wording to the scenery.  In the romantic parts, the words are soft and match the backdrop or the general feeling. In a shooting or crisis situation, the sentences are short like the shots of a bullet. Sometimes I speak out loud and record a page and listen to my written words. At the latest, once your book has become an audio book is when you become very aware of what you have written.

What’s next for you?

Joerg: There will be a follow-up political thriller with my main protagonist Marc Anderson. But this time, the story will start in the White House. The plot is set, writing will start in September, and it will be published next year.

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Blog Tour / Interview: Nancy Gray, Author of Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf

"Mrs. Rose walked in front of them and said, “First of all, congratulations on all of your parts.  Since this is a Halloween play, I chose the rolls based on who could portray their parts in a suitably ominous way.  Remember, these are fractured fairy tales, so nothing is supposed to end well.  And, the common element in all of them will be the big, bad wolf.”

Patrick stood up and gave a quick bow.

Jane thought, “Show off…”"

Mrs. Rose continued, “The main theme is Little Red Riding Hood, but as you can see, there will be elements from other stories incorporated.  While she’s going to grandma’s house, she’ll run into Snow White being chased by the woodsman, and themes from other stories as well, as she continues to get lost further and further in the woods.”

-- From Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf by Nancy Gray
Nancy Gray has published a number of works including her middle grade series Spine Chillers. She also published her YA fantasy series Blood Rain. Her short story “Chosen” appeared in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Author Quest: a Penguin Special from Grosset & Dunlap. Her work also appears in various anthologies.

Nancy Gray has been writing for over ten years. Gray lives in South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys books, video games, anime, manga, and horror.
Her latest book is the mid-grade horror, Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf.

Book Description:
Jane is ecstatic when she gets the role of Red Riding Hood in her school play, but she didn’t realize that they’d be using the stuffed wolf prop as the Big Bad Wolf. That tattered old prop has always scared her and, lately, she has been having strange dreams about it that make it seem like it’s something more.
Jane will have to get help to save herself from the hungry spirit that has haunted her people and her nightmares before it consumes her, or worse, escapes the prison of the last creature it took to sate its horrible appetite.
Welcome, Nancy.  So excited about your second book in the Spine Chillers series. Big Bad Wolf is looking like it’s going to be just as exciting as The Scarecrow. So can you tell us where this book takes us?
Nancy: This book will take you into the mind of the main character, Jane, where she is chased by a cannibal spirit determined to consume her body and soul. Jane has nightmares about a gray forest that she instinctually knows but can’t place from where. It is the hunting grounds where the spirits of her ancestors have wandered. She is dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, the role from her school play, but something wolf-like and wild is chasing her and her cape stands out like blood against a white canvas. Jane will have to be clever and seek help to escape from the nightmare creature that haunts her dreams and will have to come to know her heritage to banish the spirit before it’s too late. 
Are the same characters in Big Bad Wolf that was in The Scarecrow? If no, can you tell us about them?
Nancy: There is a cameo from Sophie in the beginning of the book. She tells the main character, Jane, that she won’t be able to see her play because she’s visiting her cousin at the farm. It’s assumed that Sophie’s story is going on at the same time as Jane is encountering her own monster. 
Jane is part of the drama club. This year she has finally gotten the lead role in a play. The play is about fractured fairy tales and she is playing “Little Red Riding Hood.” Jane’s dream is to one day be an actress on Broadway. After she accepts the role, she finds out that they will be using the taxidermy wolf in the prop room beneath the stage as the wolf in the play. Something about the wolf scares her. After that, she has nightmares where she is being chased by the wolf. Jane soon discovers that Native American legends are more than just stories and her bloodline means more than she knew.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
Nancy: Many things have improved over the years. It’s almost painful to look back at my old work knowing how bad it actually was. My grammatical errors have gotten better. I don’t repeat words as much. I had an issue with putting the wrong punctuation at the beginning of dialogue that I fixed recently.   
Stylistically speaking, I don’t feel the need to change the perspective of the story to someone other than the main character. This was a style that I used a lot in my early work, but I found that it detracted from the action of the story. Also sometimes a reader doesn’t like the secondary character as much as the first. By changing perspectives they have to go through an entire chapter wishing they got back to what happened to the character they identified the most with. Generally this is the first character they are introduced to, so I’m glad I don’t make this mistake anymore.
And finally, I think I actually do have a style now. I tend to describe things while leaving enough to the imagination of the reader to fill in the blanks. I also try to make my writing straightforward, but I don’t talk down to my audience. I don’t feel the need to use overly flowery language to describe a scene, but I don’t shy away from big words either. I feel like as a writer I can always improve, but at least I can already see major improvements.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
Nancy: I proof my own work initially, but I do have some grammatical issues that sometimes I don’t notice. So I send my work to those better qualified. I’m fortunate that many people in my family are skilled when it comes to grammar and can double check my work. My problems aren’t huge problems, mostly comma usage and repeating words too often. I feel grammar is important in my finished work especially since it is geared towards middle school children. (Apologies if my grammar isn’t excellent during these questions. I am writing this while prepping for a hurricane to hit my state.) 
Anyway, I ask members of my family to proofread my stories and then I send my stories to my friends to test read. The test readers help me make sure that the scenes flow together well and that I don’t have any continuity errors. I highly recommend that you do this for your own work because sometimes it’s hard to spot grammar or continuity errors on your own. Your mind can sometimes just skip over them because you know what you meant to say. 
Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
Nancy: Yes! It absolutely does! Some people still buy a book based solely on the cover. One of the most satisfying things that came from this series was seeing my ideas come to life through the covers of the books. Samrae Duke is my artist for Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf. I love her attention to detail. Her style is very interesting as well. She captures a dark, foreboding feeling but also combines it with fantasy elements that sort of pull the person in. It makes them want to know more. She is a great artist and is a pleasure to work with. Hire a good artist for your cover! It’s very important. One of the best things about self publishing is you actually can. With traditional publishing the cover is out of your hands.  
What did you want to become when you were a kid?
Nancy: When I was very little I wanted to be a veterinarian or a marine biologist, until I found out how I felt about blood and about the thought of losing an animal. After that I focused on marine biology. 
When I said that I wanted to be a marine biologist, what I actually meant was that I wanted to be one of those people that dives with the underwater life or gets into a shark cage to observe them up close. Of course, that isn’t exactly what most marine biologists do. When I found out the truth, that most marine biologists do a great deal of lab work, I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer. 
I stuck with that goal and graduated with a media arts degree and did indeed become a graphic designer for a little while. Initially I enjoyed it, but I found that my passion was for writing. I then became a homemaker and during my free time I decided to write. I’ve been writing now for ten years. 
Do your novels carry a message?
Nancy: Well they all tend to have a similar set of themes. I wouldn’t say they carry any sort of hidden message but the theme of good versus evil is definitely within them. Many also have the theme of battling one’s inner demons and overcoming or discovering flaws within oneself. There is also the theme of growing up and having to deal with your own problems your own way. 
This is a good message for children in middle school because it’s a time when they are in between two worlds. They are just out of elementary school and have more independence, but not quite ready for the challenges of high school. It’s a very difficult time, and the transition can be scary. With news about violence in school and the fact the world is a scary place in general middle school feels even more dangerous than it used to be
With these books if there is any message it’s that you are strong enough to stand up to what frightens you. While things might not end happily ever after, you can still overcome more than you might think you’re capable of if you use your talents to overcome your fears.  
Can you tell us a little about the next book in the series?
Nancy: I can tell you a little, but I’m going to try to avoid spoilers. The next book in the series is called Spine Chillers: The Beast of Black Pond. The main character is a boy named Duane. He has always been considered odd and made fun of at school because loves writing horror stories and reading horror comic books. For a school assignment he decides to write a horror story about the nearby pond where a few students have drowned in the past. When he investigates the pond, something terrible happens. The creature responsible for the deaths of the children attacks him and seems determined not to leave him alone until he becomes a victim as well.
Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans?
Nancy: I would love to hear from you if you have any comments or suggestions! Please, follow me on my facebook page, WriterNancyGray, and my website I’ll keep you posted on the new books coming out for the series and I’ll do my best to answer any questions that you have. It means a lot to me that you support me by reading my books. I hope they were as much of a pleasure to read as they were to write.  Thank you so much!
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Blog Tour: Taking Control: Rick's Story by Morgan Malone @mmaloneauthor #blogtour

Taking Control: Rick's Story by Morgan Malone, Contemporary Romance, 170 pp., $10.99 (paperback) $2.99 (Kindle)

Author: Morgan Malone
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 170
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summer on the Jersey Shore and all Rick Sheridan wants is some solitude at his beach house. Then he spots a lean, leggy blonde coming out of the surf and his plans are shot to hell. And the dangerous looking knife strapped to her arm tells him this is no damsel in distress. As a not-so retired Marine, at 51, Rick’s learned that nothing is for certain, plans can spin out of control and shit happens.

Wounded and weary from one too many wars, Britt Capshaw thought a summer at the Shore, hanging out in her family’s beach cottage, would help her heal. And figure out what to do with the rest of her life. Out of the military, disillusioned and distrustful of any two-legged male, Britt’s one love is Alex, the yellow Labrador retriever she rescued from Afghanistan.

Rick and Britt are immediately attracted to one another, but after years in combat, they are wary of letting down their guard, of giving up control. The summer heats up and fireworks are flying between them even after the Fourth of July. But, ghosts from their pasts haunt them and finally bring them face to face with some dark secrets that may destroy the fragile trust they’ve built.

Can Britt trust Rick with her dangerous past? Will Rick be able to let go of the rigid control he needs to keep Britt and himself safe from more heartbreak? These two brave souls fight against surrendering their hearts and finally finding love. Who will win?



He stood before the French doors to the deck, with a large mug of steaming black brew cradled in his hands, letting its warmth take away some of the chill that had surrounded him for the last several months. I’m freezing. And it’s not the air-conditioning. It’s my damn frozen heart. Rick pushed the doors open, letting the heat of the sun and the smell of the ocean sweep into his house. He stepped outside, breathing deep, relaxing just a little. Yeah. This is what I need. A summer at the Shore, a few projects, and plenty of quiet—then I’ll be back to my old self. Chuckling as he mentally reminded himself of just how “old” his self was, Rick raised the cup to take a long sip of coffee.

He saw the figure emerging from the waves almost directly in front of his cottage at the same moment he heard the loud barking of a nearby dog.

What the hell?

She was a modern-day Botticelli’s Venus, with the waves foaming around her legs. Long, long legs, lean and tan, disappeared into a bright blue bikini bottom, just visible under the blue and white swim T-shirt that covered a long, muscular torso. Her arms were raised, her hands brushed back sodden strands of platinum blond hair. A swim mask dangled from her left elbow, dropping down into her hand as she lowered her arms. When she stepped from the surf, the woman gave an all-over body shake, drops of ocean water flying off her, glistening for an instant like diamonds in the early morning sun. Then she dropped to her knees so suddenly that Rick lurched forward, splashing coffee as he looked down for a place to leave the heavy mug before he rushed to her aid.

He needn’t have bothered. From the deck of the cottage to his left, a huge yellow dog was bounding down the wooden stairs two at a time in a mad dash to the woman. She stretched out her arms to the animal just before the happy hound collided into her, rolling her into the sand. The woman’s laugh floated on the ocean breeze. Rick straightened, still grasping his cup of coffee and stepped back into the shadows cast over his deck by the second-floor balcony. From his vantage point, he watched the woman ruffle the dog’s fur, the animal prancing and shaking in spasms of pure pleasure. When had he ever experienced such unfettered joy? Rick couldn’t remember. A long, long time ago…maybe.

Who was she? The owners of the cottage next door were an older couple who spent half the year in Florida and half the year on the Shore. Could she be a granddaughter or niece? Or had the couple decided to rent this year? Rick made a mental note to contact his property manager who handled many of the shore homes and make inquiries. He had not planned on having to deal with a stranger; he just wanted some peace and quiet.

The woman and dog were walking up from the water’s edge. Rick eased toward the open doors of his living room, thinking to disappear into the shadows. He just didn’t feel like an early morning encounter with anyone, certainly not the mermaid with those incredible legs who was ambling slowly in his general direction. He stopped suddenly when something caught the corner of his eye. A glint of sunlight on metal. He reached for his pistol, but his waistband was empty. Damn. What is that woman doing with a diving knife strapped to her right bicep? Who the hell is she?


Morgan Malone is the pen name of a retired lawyer who turned in her judicial robes to write romantic memoir and sexy contemporary romance, which always features silver foxes and the independent women who tame them.

Morgan fell in love with romantic heroes after reading her mother’s first edition of “Gone with the Wind” when she was 12 years old. Rhett Butler became the standard by which she measured all men. Some have met the mark, most have failed to even come close and one or two surpassed even Rhett’s dark and dangerous allure.

Morgan lives near Saratoga Springs, NY with her beloved chocolate Lab. She can be found on occasion drinking margaritas and dancing at local hostelries, but look for her most often in independent book stores and the library, searching for her next great love in tales of romance, history, adventure and lust. When she can’t find the perfect man, she retreats to her upstairs office and creates him, body and soul, for her pleasure and for yours. Remember: love, like wine, gets better with age.

Her recent novel is the contemporary romance, Taking Control: Rick’s Story.



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Blog Tour l Author Interview: Marty Roppelt, Author of Mortal Foe @martyroppelt #blogtour

Marty Roppelt was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His original profession was acting on stage, in local commercials and training films and in film. This means that he has experienced life through a wide variety of day and night jobs, from barista to waiter and bartender to security guard, amongst many others. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Becky, and their eccentric cat, Fritz. Mortal Foe is his debut novel.



Author: Marty Roppelt
Publisher: Dragon Breath Press
Pages: 213
Genre: Supernatural Thriller

A picture is worth a thousand words… But what if that image can only be seen through the lens of one camera? What is the snapshot can only be seen by a select few? What if the photo has its origins in the pit of Hell? What is that face belongs to an enemy bent on destruction? This is Buddy Cullen's fate when he first dreams of his grandfather's death and then inherits his grandfather's antique camera and captures an image that haunts him and seeks his death. Can Buddy survive the curse that he sarcastically dubs "Popcorn"—a curse that no one wants to believe exists and stalks the city of Cleveland, beginning with its baseball team—a mortal foe?



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? 
Thank you for having me! I would probably be at my day job working as a Starbucks barista. If not working or writing, I'm either catching some crime show with my wife Becky, or creating something for my mailing list. I may be researching something for any number of projects in the works or on the Bible. Or, I'll be following news and highlights of the Cleveland Indians or the Cleveland Browns.

When did you start writing?
The first short story I remember writing was in grade school, a little something about a guy who gets chased by criminals and evades them on the Eiffel Tower by jumping in a dumpster. I think I got a B. But I didn't start again until the 1990's. I had moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Atlanta with my first wife. I wrote creative letters and short stories and sent them back to close friends of mine, John and Laura Thomas, in Cleveland. They urged me to write more, and to get serious about it.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
I'd say there were two crucial points. One was a couple of courses I took through the Long Ridge Writers Group. Author Anne Underwood Grant was my mentor, and I learned a lot about starting a writing project, then polishing and editing the work. The other point was posting my novel Mortal Foe, one chapter at a time, on The Next Big Writer. I met my editor and publisher Janet Taylor-Perry there. She read the whole thing, and remembered it when she started her Dragon Breath Press in 2017.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
I would either stay right where I am, in small-town Wauconda, Illinois—in my living room, at the Honey Hill Coffee shop, or at our awesome library—or in Cleveland. I've lived in New York City and Atlanta too, but was not as comfortable in either city. I've spent time with family in Germany, too. Germany might be another place I could write.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?
I would like to work on my current project, but would most likely end up spending it on marketing Mortal Foe. I'm new to this end of the business, and the learning curve seems awfully steep.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
I'm planning a story set in Transylvania. There actually is such a place, for folks who don't know. My family comes from there. The story takes place in a remote village at the start of the First World War. No vampires, but it is another paranormal novel.

Back to your present book, Mortal Foe, how did you publish it?
It was a bit of a journey. Foe began as a short story for Long Ridge, called Popcorn, about a man and his son running across a paranormal entity at a baseball game. Anne Grant suggested I turn it into a novel. I did, but was a bit half-hearted in submitting it to agents and publishers. Got the usual rejections. Then I posted it on The Next Big Writer, and got good editing notes from Janet Taylor-Perry. But I didn't submit again until Janet opened her publishing company. I submitted Foe to her, and she remembered it from TNBW. She told me she wanted to publish Foe, and here we are.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
I didn't need to. It's set in Cleveland, where I grew up. But my wife and I visit family there once a year at Thanksgiving. I made it a point to drive through the areas where the action takes place, took pictures and videos, just to make sure I got details right.

Why was writing Mortal Foe so important to you?
Good question. I don't think it was necessarily a cathartic experience. I love my home town despite not living there any more. Foe is in part a kind of tribute to Cleveland, the new glitz, the old grit and everything in between.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?
Any inspiration and the gifts to turn them into something come from God. We're made in His image, and He's the Creator… which makes us creative as well. I get all kinds of ideas from what surrounds me. The actions and words of people I work with and serve, the modest buildings of my little town and the cramped streets of nearby Chicago… I try to be ready to take notes wherever I am because I never know what will spark a story.

Any final words?
Love one another. We're called to do that to shine light into this dark world.
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