Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Conversation with Dr. John & Elizabeth McIntosh, authors of 'Mastering Negative Impulsive Thoughts'

Doctor H. John McIntosh is known as the “Medical Guru” through his columns and media presence.  He was educated as a medical doctor in Scotland. He received a general medical degree from Dundee University Medical School in 1984 and moved to Australia in 1993. He received his Specialist Physician qualification in 1988 from the Royal College of Physicians (UK) and specialist Family Physician qualifications in 1990 from the Royal College of General Practitioners. Other certifications include: Approved Trainer of medical students, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; James Cook University Medical School, Central Queensland University; Trainer of Cognitive Institute programs, Cognitive Institute of Australia; Approved Trainer of sports medicine first aid courses, Sports Medicine, Australia; and Approved Allergan Cosmetic Injector training and trainer of injectors (doctors and nurses). Dr. McIntosh was the driving force in the building of the Mackay GP Superclinic. In 2013, his medical clinics were awarded the national AGPAL Community Engagement Award for outstanding level of commitment and involvement of the community and won a finalist award in the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards.

Rev. Elizabeth McIntosh is known as the “Positivity Expert” from her life’s work and research in the field. She trained as a life and wellness coach; certified personal fitness trainer under Ken Ware, Mr. Universe of 1994; counselor, hypnotherapist, meditation and yoga teacher; and spa trainer. She is a Reiki master Levels 1, 2 and 3, and a Reiki Master Trainer. She holds a BMSc in Metaphysics from the University of Sedona and the University of Metaphysics, and is an ordained minister through the University of Metaphysics. She runs retreats at her resort in Bali and has produced a series of CDs on health, relaxation, and success, and a TV documentary series, as well as being a magazine columnist and radio talkback presenter.

Their latest book is the nonfiction/self-help, Mastering Negative Impulsive Thoughts.

Visit the authors’ website at 

Can you tell us what your book is about?

Mastering Negative Impulse Thoughts(NITs) is  about  self empowerment   by mastering your own negative thoughts.  Most people don’t recognise their negative thoughts and they don’t realize that these negative thoughts are responsible for  their success or failure in life. 

This is the first book that really defines negative thoughts with an easy process to  recognizable them and then control and remove them. We have labeled them Negative Impulsive Thoughts or NITs, and like the head lice that their name invokes they are irritating, hard to recognise and treat and spread from person to person like an epidemic!  NITs knock our confidence, breeds fear,  shatters our dreams, destroys relationships, attracts cancers, heart disease,  and shortens our life span by about 9 years. The research and information presented in this book confirms what many doctors  and health practitioners were already aware of, that  bad attitude leads to bad health. 

If you want to take control over your life, you must start with controlling what goes on in your head first. This book is an easy read with inspirational real life adventures of overcoming (NITs) leaving the reader uplifted inspired and armed with tools to live a positive life NIT-free.

Why did you write your book?

Throughout our years of clinical practice, it became apparent to us that most peoples problems in life, come as a result of their own self inflicted negative attitude.  Our concept of NITs really works to help people, first by recognizing how negative their self talk is, and then giving them interesting ways to break the habit of negative thinking and create positive alternatives instead.    We were telling our patients these key principles over and over on how to improve  their lives,  and we needed a vehicle to reach the broader community and have this concept of NITs available to everyone.  It really works in all areas of life from your personal life, relationships, children, workplace and in the broader community.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

No, this is not something that challenges us, perhaps it is partly because the information we are writing about flows so freely as it is an area we know well. Another reason to consider is that we seem to be able to tap into that creative area easily, I believe it comes from the practice of meditation and mindfulness where you are able to slow your brain cycles down enough to access more of the alpha state while still being able to be conscious to write your message, after all that is how some of the most brilliant minds on the planet achieve their greatness.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I would want to be in bed with my Honey.   Our bed is the most amazing place I know.  It is where are dreams are borne, problems are solved, our bodies recuperate and our minds recharge.  Our bed seems to possess a magical ability to nurture, and make everything seem better. Our children come to talk or share their quiet thoughts or worries, we can open the door and have wrestling, dogs, fun and noise or we can shut the world away if we want to be alone.  It is where we can in safety expose our vulnerable sides to each other that no-ones else sees. When the day has been long and challenging, we both hurry back to the sanctuary of our bed to regroup our thoughts, reflect on the day, and are always grateful for the wonderful life we share. Out of all the temples and spiritual houses I have visited in the world.  Our bed is the most sacred place I know and I would want more hour of heaven. 

What do you like to do for fun?

Our life is fun - even when we are working hard, we are able to have fun 95% of the time.  Especially when we are together or with our family, they are fun also.  But for extra fun we go sailing across vast oceans with no land in sight, swim with with giant sea creatures, watch the sun set snuggled under a blanket with a good wine and an delicious cheese platter.  Create artistic sculptures out of clay, travel to remote areas of the world to do aid work, living in huts, being  guests of honor of the tribal chief of the village. Travelling to remote places and learning their culture and spiritual secrets, writing, meditating, yoga, exercising, creating successful businesses. We also love teaching  people how to live better and maximize their full potential.

What kind of advice would you give other non-fiction authors?

Follow your passion and try to help as many people as possible! The reward from improving people’s lives is so much more than can be measured…. Be true to yourself and do your homework on your topic if it is not your area of expertise.

We live our life following this philosophy and the benefits are so dramatic that we want to share this experience with others. So for us, our book was easy to write, and the depth of knowledge we have both acquired about our book subject is substantial. Also to present a new concept or provoke thought in an existing field usually makes for an interesting read, but even better to be able to substantiate your point in the form of studies, research, or surveys makes the reader consider it more seriously.      

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blamed by Edie Harris - Win prizes!

Title: Blamed
Author: Edie Harris
Publisher: Harlequin Carina Press
Pages: 155
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Espionage
Format: Kindle 

Purchase at AMAZON

Born into a long line of spies, sanctioned killers and covert weapons developers, Beth Faraday carried out her first hit-for-hire when she was still a teenager.

That part of her life—the American spy royalty part—ended one year ago, with a job gone wrong in Afghanistan. The collateral damage she caused with a single shot was unfathomable and, for Beth, unforgiveable. She’s worked hard to build a new life for herself, far away from the family business. But someone, somewhere, hasn’t forgotten what Beth did in Kabul. And they want revenge.

As the Faraday clan bands together to defend Beth and protect their legacy, Beth is forced to flee her new home with the unlikeliest of allies—MI6 agent Raleigh Vick, the only man she’s ever loved. And the one she thought she’d killed in the desert.
Book Excerpt:

The blood in her mouth tasted like hot pennies.
Flinching as a secondary arterial spray lashed her face, she kept her fingers clenched in her tormenter’s hair, holding his head aloft for the slice of the blade she’d stolen from his toolkit when his back was turned.
That mistake had just cost him his life.
Her stomach lurched, and she shoved the dead man away, wishing he’d deafened her when he boxed her ears on the second—third?—day, so she couldn’t hear the back of his skull hit the concrete floor with a sickening thwack. Her hand shook, the knife threatening to slip from her mangled fingers, but once it fell, she knew she wouldn’t be able to pick it back up, and she couldn’t afford to be weaponless. Injured knuckles white around the slick rubber grip, she staggered back until her shoulders hit the far wall of her prison.
Her torture chamber.
The blood cooling on her face ratcheted her panic up a notch. Every breath was pure agony, broken ribs prodding like iron pokers against her lungs. Every square inch of skin on her back burned like hellfire. Her body was one giant bruise, her mind a tangled mess. Tears spilled down her cheeks, wet and warm—and silent.
She’d not made a sound when she slit her captor’s throat. Her family would be so proud.
The thought made her tears fall faster. A longing for home and the Queen Anne Victorian in which she’d grown up, the same longing she had buried deep for the past year, threatened to bring her to her knees, but no. No. It was just like the knife—if she fell, she’d never get back up, and eventually, someone was going to come looking for the man she had killed.
John. He’d told her his name was John, but surely that was a lie. Monsters never told the truth.
Swallowing her nausea, she stumbled toward John’s crumpled body. The thick pool of blood was unavoidable, though she shuddered when red seeped between her bare toes. Dizziness swamped her when she dropped into a crouch, the hand not holding the blade searching the pockets of John’s cargos for his key card.
Her victory upon locating the card was short-lived when she remembered what came next.
Each time John had “visited” her, it had become harder and harder to stay conscious. Everything in her hurt as she’d never hurt before. The temptation to let her eyes slide shut forever had been so strong, John singing soothingly while he disinfected his tools from their session.
Lullabies. He sang her lullabies. Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree top….
She had always remained awake long enough to watch him leave, knowing he’d be back to resume her torture. The key card was merely half the equation when it came to unlocking the door. John’s fingerprint was the other.
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock….
Dragging John’s body to the scanner mounted next to the door was not an option, not in her weakened state. Her gaze caught on his limp hand, and a tremor wracked her. There was no choice. Flattening his palm against the bloody floor, she lowered the knife.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall….
She couldn’t help it—she vomited. But when her retching ceased, she gingerly picked up the severed finger and rose from her crouch. She almost didn’t feel the wetness underfoot anymore, which meant blessed numbness had nearly arrived. Key card first, then the bloody print on the scanner’s screen, and she held her breath.
And down will come baby, cradle and
The near-silent snick of the steel door unlatching shook John’s voice from her head. Freedom. Oh, God, freedom from this hellhole was so close, so amazingly close she was dizzy with it.
Her tears fell harder. Fuck. Why couldn’t she stop crying?
With a soft whirring noise, the door slid open, and a bunker-style hallway cast in eerie greenish light was revealed. She was underground, as suspected. A memory flashed, of John using a medical scalpel to dig the GPS tracker out from behind her ear. There had been nothing clinical or precise in how he’d wielded that blade.
Can’t have them finding you before we’re done here, little girl.
She didn’t bother looking back at his lifeless form as she eased through the door, still clutching his finger and key card. They might still prove useful in helping her escape this prison; John would not.
Adjusting her grip on the knife, she crept down the hall, ignoring the black spots clouding her vision and the vicious pounding of her head. It felt as though her brain were trying to punch its way through her skull, and she simply didn’t have time for that nonsense, because someone was watching her. Her hazy thoughts pictured the camera mounted in the corner of her cell, its little red dot blinking, always blinking. Someone would know what she’d done to John, and she refused to wait for retaliation to find her.
Run now. Collapse later.
The concrete was cold beneath her sticky, blood-soaked feet, with a chill that crept up her ankles, her calves, making her knees knock together. She was so tired. It had been at least a day since John had given her anything to drink, and he’d never provided food. As she slowly made her way down the empty corridor, her senses began to fail her, the muted buzz in her ears blocking out the faint echo of her rasping breaths. Her adrenaline rush from the kill was over.
Perhaps…perhaps she wouldn’t make it out of here, after all.
A loud sob escaped against her will.
The sounds of footsteps, heavy and booted, broke through the encroaching deafness, and then there he stood in front of her, limned in the faint glow of the bunker lights, a tall man with ice for eyes and a nasty-looking gun.
She blinked at him through her tears, her relief short-lived as a wave of bitterness
sweeping through her battered body as she saw where, precisely, that gun was aimed. Her voice cracked, breaking low and hoarse when she spoke. “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame.”
She hummed the rest.
You give love a bad name.


Edie is giving away one digital copy of Blamed (formats available: PDF & ePub), ‘I Only Kiss Spies’ t-shirt, ‘Lincoln Park After Dark’ OPI nail polish and one bag of Van Houtte ‘Belgian Chocolate’ ground coffee!· 

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway begins October 19 and ends December 22.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on Tuesday, December 23.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview with James Ryan Daley, author of Jesus Jackson

JRD1James Ryan Daley is a writer, editor, and digital designer. After earning an MFA in fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2004, James has spent most of the years since then teaching writing to college students, creating websites about video games, and editing anthologies of fiction and political rhetoric. When he’s not obsessively poring over pixels and pronouns, James can usually be found arguing with strangers in the Internet or seeking out adventure with his wife and two daughters. Find out more from his website at

Welcome to BloggerNews. Can you begin by telling us when you started writing?

Well, my mother loves to tell a story about how I wrote my first story in 3rd grade, so I guess I’ll go with that. Really, though, I first started to become passionate about writing in high school–specifically, the summer between my junior and senior years. I had read On the Road the same month that fell head over heels for a pretty girl that lived 300 miles away from me. Now when you’re a sixteen year-old romantic (as I certainly was) and those two things happen within such a short time, there’s really only one course of action you can take: you sneak out of your house in the middle of the night, you hitchhike to see the girl, and you write down every thought you have in a notebook. After that, I just kept on writing.

What is your novel about?

Jesus Jackson is the story of a 14-year-old atheist investigating his brother’s mysterious death at conservative Catholic high school. So on the surface, it’s a murder mystery: he searches for clues, follows leads, and tries to find the truth about the murder. But to me, Jesus Jackson is really about the deeper truths that the protagonist finds himself searching for in the midst of this mystery: Why are we here in this life? What does it all mean? What happens after we die? This philosophical quest drives the story just as much as the quest to find the killer.

jesusWhat inspired you to write it?

Jesus Jackson really comes out of all the thoughts and feelings that I had about religion when I was a teenager (and, to be honest, still have today). Like Jonathan, I came to the conclusion pretty early that religion just wasn’t my thing, and then had to learn how to deal with the difficult parts of life in the absence of that type of faith. Writing Jesus Jackson as a mystery just seemed like the obvious way to go: after all, what better way to explore the mysteries of life than through an actual mystery?

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Everywhere! Of course, Jesus Jackson is available on Amazon, but you can purchase it anywhere books are sold, so support your local indie bookstore!

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it?

I do! I am actually kind of insanely proud of my trailer. I spent a ludicrous amount of time teaching myself how use professional film-making software, and then an even more ludicrous amount of time making the actual video. It took a ton of effort, but it was totally worth it. Readers can find the trailer (and a few other fun videos) here:

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Focus on the writing. Focus on the book. Far too often, I see new authors get so caught up with the publishing process that they lose sight of the vastly more difficult task of writing a really good book. One of my college professors once told me that there are only two things you need to do to become a published author: write well and submit. It’s the first part that’s the hard one.

What is up next for you?

Well I am working on finishing up my second novel right now, but I don’t like to talk too much about anything I’m writing until it’s done.  Stay tuned, though…

Monday, October 20, 2014

Interview with Randy Coates, author of More Precious Than Rubies

Title: More Precious Than Rubies
Author: Randy Coates
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 174
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ebook
Purchase at AMAZON

 Paul Brager is twelve when his father tells the story of Iduna and her apples. Mr. Brager always tells stories before bed to entertain Paul’s little brother, Adrian—a ritual that has become even more important since their mother died. Iduna was a goddess who grew apples that made the gods younger and stronger, but one day she disappeared, along with her apples. Paul doesn’t think much of the myth; he has other things on his mind. Paul and his best friend, Chad Tremblay, are excited to start the school year as seventh graders at Dorian Heights Public School. Even when they hear about the new principal, Mr. Theisen, they aren’t worried about ending up in his office. When Paul finally meets the principal, however, he finds him to be strange, mysterious, and extremely fond of apples. That’s when things start going wrong. Theisen develops an uncomfortable interest in Paul, claiming he once knew Paul’s father. It becomes apparent to Paul and Chad that Theisen is after something, maybe some kind of treasure—and it involves the Brager family. Paul believes his family must be protected and that Theisen must be stopped. Still, he can’t get the story of Iduna’s apples out of his head; there seems to be an odd connection to the tale his father told. He and Chad want to know the answers, but learning them may put their lives in danger.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

More Precious Than Rubies takes place mostly in an elementary school where the main character, Paul Brager,is bothered by the idea of a new, mysterious principal in his school.

Paul soon learns that the principal is a reincarnation of an evil Norse God who is somehow linked to Paul's family and who wants something from them.

Paul incorporates the help of his teacher and friends to find some way of protecting his family from the principal.

How did you come up with the idea?

The book is based upon the reoccurrence of a story in Norse mythology: the tale of lduna's apples. lduna had an orchard of apples that, when eaten by the Gods, brought them strength and vitality.

In my novel, the apples make a reappearance and, because of their power, one might consider them "more precious than rubies," gems that are comparable in colour and value.

What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Much of my own experience as a teacher came into play when I wrote this novel. Therefore, I did not have to rely on researching the details of being a grade school teacher and how students interact.

I did, however, conduct a lot of research concerning mythology. I knew nothing about Norse mythology which plays a huge role in the novel but I came across one myth that I believed would fit in perfectly to the novel.

When I learned about the myth of lduna and how all the Gods sought her apples for their power-giving and immortalizing effects, I applied this to the incidents in the book. But there was much painstaking research in order that I describe the Norse Gods accurately as well as the exact details of the myth.

Can you give us a short excerpt?

At the beginning of my novel, I try to establish the characters of Paul Brager and his family and the kind of relationship they have. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1of More Precious Than Rubies:

Paul Brager, twelve-years-old, knew that his father 's presence in his bedroom at this hour could only mean one thing. He was there for his nightly ritual, the telling of the bedtime story for Paul's younger brother, Adrian.

Paul had claimed the top bunk of the bunk bed for himself long ago, allowing Adrian no choice but to sleep in the lower bunk. That'swhat big brothers did, Paul thought. They asserted power over their younger brothers. They got to pick what was on television and they got to use the computer first and they got to confiscate whatever bunk they wanted before their brother had a chance.

Mr. Brager settled himself in a chair across from the lower bed where Adrian was lying. "Once long ago...,11 he began.

"Once upon a time." "Huh?"
"Allstories start 'Once upon a time'. You always start them with 'Once upon a time'.11

In your own experience, is it hard to get a fiction book published today?  How did you do it?

My book belongs to the category of fiction; however, there is a lot of work in getting any type of book published.

More Precious Than Rubies is self-published but the preparation that went into self-publication is similar to the process of traditional publishing.

Choosing a reputable company to help in the procedure is beneficial. I did have to pay for certain services but these services were highly professional.

For example, even though I had proofread and revised my book numerous times, I received a thorough editorial evaluation that caused me to revise passages in the book yet again. The advice I received from the evaluation was never paltry but always informative and valuable.

Revisions are always necessary. They can be tedious but they make the difference in getting one's book published or not getting it on the market.

Also, I never tried to rush writing this book. There were times when I used to hurry to finish my work, believing that the sooner it was done, the sooner Icould publish it. Rushing only results in sloppy,error-prone work.

Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education.

Interview with 'Rhapsody' David Lundgren

David Lundgren was born in “a pokey town in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia)” and spent the first 18 years of his life there. He grew up in an environment “that seemed to combine the best elements of both an American and English heritage with a hybrid African lifestyle.” Lundgren is also a musician, which gave him the creative spark to create the Melforger series. He spends his time in San Francisco “teaching, enjoying frequent – and often frustrating – games of tennis, trying to learn the blues on piano, attacking Sudoku puzzles with relish, and attempting to make some headway with the ever-increasing pile of books that is waiting patiently at my bedside, developing its own gravity.”

His latest book is the fantasy/science fiction, Rhapsody.

For More Information
Can you tell us what your book is about?

Rhapsody is the final book in The Melforger Chronicles trilogy. The story follows Raf, a sixteen year old forester boy, who, as you’d expect in an adventure – finds himself
whisked off on a dangerous journey. The reason for this is that his home is dying - his home in this case being the Aeril Forest, which is one of the extreme settings that I think really give the story some energy and originality. The trees are enormous – some over twenty yards wide and more than four hundred tall (the reasons for which are gradually explained in the story) – and the foresters live on a branch platform high up off the ground, inside the trees. When the Forest starts dying and people fall to their deaths through widespread collapses, Raf leaves to try to find someone who knows how to cure the tree-disease, and the first two books follow him as he is spun far off the track to some wonderful and treacherous places. They also chronicle how he discovers an ability in himself - a magic, if you will (this is fantasy, after all) - that gives him a peculiar and powerful control over certain things in nature. Rhapsody follows the final chapter of the story as he returns to the city, desperate to find a way to deal with Pavor, the malignant traitor, once and for all – and before his strange corrosive darkness can destroy everything and everyone.

Why did you write your book?

I grew up as an only child in Africa (Zimbabwe, to be exact) and we had almost no TV. Inevitably, I threw myself into reading, and found myself lost in worlds I came to love. Growing up in proximity to the stunning wilderness there and exposed to such a mix of cultures and traditions and folklore – not to mention music, with which my life has been saturated since I was born – writing seemed an obvious creative output for me. Besides, I love it!
Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Raf is a fairly typical stubborn teen, awkward and unexcited about what the post-school future holds, particularly because both of his parents are important members of the local Council. He is acutely shy and struggles to deal with having this musical, magical gift – especially the responsibility that this talent comes with. Along the way, he meets a fascinating cast of characters who help him shoulder the burden of being a ‘melforger’: from Tiponi, the loyal tribesman; to the Elder who takes him under his wing; to Sylvia, a spirited and beautiful lass from the city who ties both his stomach and his tongue in knots. In Rhapsody, we also meet the kooky cave-dweller, Keppi, and we become better acquainted with the rather unpleasant villain, Pavor, and what he’s capable of.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I think it’s very hard to not base characters on something real – or someone real, rather. I’m not sure that any of mine are molded entirely on someone I know so much as mixtures, or chimeras, of characters and personalities. Sometimes, all I need is a starting point or a simple anchor, something borrowed from a real person that’s specific and potent: a particular kind of personality trait, or a distinct driving force, or an unusual philosophy; then, when they’re put into the world I’ve created, the rest of the details grow organically from there as they act and react to everything.

Having traveled a fair amount in my life, and being an avid taker of notes and a documenter of odd and entertaining things that happen to me (which are disturbingly many), I’ve found myself in a phenomenal variety of places with wildly different people, looking out for interesting traits and qualities and features and quirks that I can collect like Lego pieces with which to build someone, later.
Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

For the most part, I plan the books as meticulously as I can, reverse engineering, tying everything up and making it work – almost like a piece of music. With fantasy especially, not only do you have characters and plot to craft out in a cohesive, consistent way, but you also have a whole fictional world that needs to make sense, as well as a magic that must follow its own rules. I definitely knew the gist of the plot when I first started planning the books, and I had a solid idea of how I wanted it to end. Threading together all the elements to connect it all into a comprehensive tale was where copious planning came into it. And then re-planning. A lot.
And having said all that, there were definitely moments while writing when the story evolved under its own steam – sometimes even moving slightly away from what I’d planned. I think that that’s inescapable if you create real enough characters, and some of my favorite moments are when people do or say things that I hadn’t planned – but which they would do – and the story comes alive even more.
Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely! The Forest setting is unique and wonderful, and very much shapes Raf’s personality – not to mention being the victim of the whole problem – the disease - that triggers the story’s plot. Then there is a vast desert plain which is equally extreme, contrasted with the dense city and its teeming hordes of inhabitants, and one other intense setting which the cover of Rhapsody perhaps gives away.

I love creating the settings; they’re the canvasses on which the story is painted, and in the case of The Melforger Chronicles, they are crucial to both the characters and the plot – and the magic.
Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

There have definitely been a few moments where I struggled with writing, or with connecting parts of the stories. The only way I can get out of it is normally to take a break and do something else for a bit: go for a walk, go cycling, play tennis, clean the house – something fairly active and mindless. I find that sometimes, all your imagination needs is a little time to incubate and work on its own without you trying to force it to do something. I compare trying to be creative or trying to find that novel idea with attempting to catch a butterfly; if you chase it, it always remains just out of your reach, whereas if you relax, it will (more often than not) come to you. Other times I find it better just to write. Get it down on the page. Anything. Even if it’s rubbish. Once you have something written and tangible, you can edit or tweak or just scrap it completely. But even if it’s something you’d never lower yourself to putting in your story, it could be the spark that opens you up to a new idea or solution.
What do you like to do for fun?
I’m a keen sportsman and enjoy tennis, golf and the occasional game of cricket (it’s not as boring as you think!). I also devour books on my kindle (and in paperback form - I still enjoy the feel of a real book in my hands) and find it difficult to get through a day without doing a Sudoku puzzle. I’m also an enthusiastic – but rarely successful – pub trivia addict. I’m very much a traveler though, and as you can probably guess from the trilogy, I have a yearning for spectacular vistas and extreme environments. I just returned from a week’s hike in Iceland and have had the bar for ‘stunning scenery’ moved so high up I fear it won’t be bested by anything other than a base camp hike to Everest…

Friday, October 17, 2014

Interview with Wayne Zurl, author of Pigeon River Blues (Mystery / Police Procedural)

Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.

Twenty (20) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been published as eBooks and many produced as audio books. Ten (10) of these novelettes are available in print under the titles: A Murder In Knoxville and Other Smoky Mountain Mountain Mysteries and Reenacting A Murder and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries. Zurl has won Eric Hoffer and Indie Book Awards, and was named a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. His full length novels are available in print and as eBooks: A New ProspectA Leprechaun's Lament,  Heroes & Lovers, and Pigeon River Blues.

For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see You may read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.

Connect with Wayne Zurl:

About The Book

Title: Pigeon River Blues
Author: Wayne Zurl
Publisher: Iconic Publishing
Publication Date: May 31, 2014
Pages: 258
ISBN: 978-1938844027
Genre: Mystery / Police Procedural
Format: eBook / PDF / Paperback

Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie. 

The retired New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.

C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.

The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality by flaunting her lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.

Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But Sam’s job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate. 

During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time, meeting old Army acquaintances who factor into how he foils a complicated plot of attempted murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

For More Information: 

Can you tell us what your book is about?

I think the summary I used to sell the publisher on reading the entire manuscript will give you the gist of what the story is about. Beyond that, I’m getting into question 2 and why I wrote the book. Here’s the summary:

                Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie.

The retired New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.

C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.

The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality and flaunt her lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.

Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But Sam’s job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate. 

During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time, meeting old Army acquaintances who factor into his plan to foil a complicated plot of premeditated murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

Why did you write your book?

Most of what I write comes from personal experiences.  I have more of a memory than imagination. But I do fictionalize and embellish everything to make it more readable and not sound like a detective’s report. Real police work is not always a thrill a minute. With that in mind, I  often conjoin two or more actual incidents to build one more interesting novel. That’s the case with Pigeon River Blues.

My books and stories are character driven. Cops are in the people business and any good detective who worked in a crowded and busy area met his/her share of quirky, story-worthy characters.

In PRB, I really wanted to incorporate the three nitwits that made up the local segment of what I called The Coalition for American Family Values—Mack and Ma Collinson and their henchman, the head case, Jeremy Goins. I really met these people. And they threw me for a loop. These numbskulls were functioning in the mainstream world, but were certified whack jobs. I felt a compelling need to introduce them to the literary world.

And I’ve been looking for the appropriate place to introduce a new regular character to the cast of the Sam Jenkins mysteries and give him a job at Prospect PD. I call him John “Black Cloud” Gallagher and this outwardly goofy and malapropic guy, who speaks a language all his own, is based on someone with whom I worked for many years. Despite all the laughs he provided me and the office full of cops, when “John” dropped the class clown act, he worked like one hell of an investigator.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The main character in all my mysteries is Sam Jenkins, a former New York detective lieutenant who, after years of retirement, begins a second career as police chief in Prospect, Tennessee, a small touristy city in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Sam is supported by Sergeants Bettye Lambert who Sam calls the most beautiful desk sergeant on the planet, Stan Rose, a former LAPD officer who followed his wife back to her home town and joined Prospect PD, and Sam’s wife Kate who’s spent many years acting as Sam’s Dr. Watson. Other regulars not usually associated as friends of your average policeman are FBI Special Agent Ralph Oliveri and TV reporter Rachel Williamson who often factor into Sam’s investigations.

I’ve got three pensions coming in to pay the bills and keep me out of debtor’s prison, so I don’t need royalty money to keep my happy home afloat. On the other hand, my ego (somewhat like Sam Jenkins’s) is just a bit smaller than South Dakota and I need to see stories and characters I like before I’ll put my signature on the bottom line. I try to make these regular cast members authentic to their occupation, and people readers want to know more about. If I felt ambivalent about any one, I’d lose interest in them and they would fade from the cast. So far, I even like most of the bad guys and feel sorry when they go down the tubes. Every story needs an extra spark of evil to make the good guys real heroes.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I write with a lot of dialogue. It makes a story read faster and it’s a better way to handle the exposition of facts in a “show don’t tell” way. And I’m compulsive and freaky about getting the dialogue to sound natural and realistic because I hate to read stilted, phony, or unnatural speech. So, if I’m not the most naturally brilliant of writers, how can I assign each character a unique voice and write their lines fluidly? I hold a casting call while I’m writing my stories. If the “real” story doesn’t have enough “real” characters to make it good fiction, I try to remember someone from my past who would lend something positive to the atmosphere—someone different, memorable, and quirky. If I can remember them, see them, hear them, I can duplicate the sound of their speech, their delivery, and write their realistic dialogue. Transposing personalities happens a lot because I transplant actual happenings from New York to Tennessee. In doing that, I can’t write a character’s dialogue with him sounding like someone from Brooklyn when my protagonist works at a police department in southern Applaachia. To have a character called Cloyd Minton and not Vito Cavitelli say, “Ey, howz it goin’?” rather than, “You doin’ aw rot t’day?” would cause me to lose credibility.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write? 

I once read that try as anyone may, there are only eleven basic plots or storylines to choose from. They can be used simply, enhanced by combining them, made complex or convoluted by imagination, but plots are plots. I say, “Plotz, schmotz.” I start out with what really happened—something on record in the real world. But remember what I said? Reality ain’t always that interesting. Occasionally, it may be stranger than fiction, but it’s rarely more complex or exciting. It also doesn’t always contain the internal conflict and tension publishers (and some readers) demand. So, writers must embellish, add tidbits of tension, make the reader grit his/her teeth and say, “Jeez, Sam, you’re a good cop. Why are you doing that?” It’s because the story (read modern publisher) wants it.  

Am I aware of all the plot elements before I sit down with a pad and pen and attack a story? No. Writing is fun. Outlining and excessive aforethought is too much like work. I know the basics. I rough out a book or story and then go back and “flesh out” the descriptions I forgot because I was rushing to get my thoughts on paper. I add extraneous bits of conflict and tension and perhaps, toss in a red herring or two.  

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

I’ve tried to do for the Smoky Mountain region of east Tennessee what Raymond Chandler did for Los Angeles, Tony Hillerman did for northern Arizona, and James Lee Burke does for southern Louisiana—give the places character status.

The indigenous people of the Smokies are different than those from Long Island or Manhattan or Canada, or Cedar rapids, Iowa. They are unique. Their names are different. They speak differently and in many regards, they react differently to situations. I want a local reader to say, “Boy howdy, he’s got them characters down cold.” Or an outsider to say, “I vacationed in the Smokies once and I believe he’s captured the flavor of the region.”

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Sure, there are times when I can’t dream up a nifty connection or a believable red herring to save my life. To get past that, I usually uncork a better than average bottle of wine, grab two glasses, and invite my wife to help solve my problem. She’s pretty good.  

What do you like the most about being an author?

When the ideas are flowing, writing is lotsa fun. Ending up with what I consider a good finished product is very satisfying. Hearing a reader compliment one of my books or stories eloquently is truly great stuff.

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life?

Receiving your first signed contract. Even if you’re very good, before you’re on the books as a pro, you’ve just been trying or dabbling. Once you not only see the light at the end of the tunnel, but can touch it, you change your focus from finding someone to believe in you and take a chance on your writing to worrying if your work will sell and how you can assist in promoting it and you.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

The best practical advice about writing I’ve seen came from an interview with Robert B. Parker. When asked why so many people like his stories, he said, “Because they sound good.”

From writing so many novelettes destined for audio books, I know what he means. But even if you have no intention to produce your book in audio form, you owe it to your readers to make your stories sound good. It doesn’t matter if you’ve adhered to all the rules of good grammar and usage and all the maxims of structure if your writing doesn’t sound good when read.

When you think your story, novelette, novella, novel, or epic is finished, when you truly believe you’ve found and corrected all the typos and nits and it’s ready to sell, go back and read it aloud to yourself. Pretend you’re the star of your own audio book. Read it slowly and professionally as an actor would. Then, ask yourself, does it sound good? Do all the paragraphs smoothly transcend to the next? Does each sentence contain the right number of syllables? Does each word flow into the next without conflict?  Does it have a pleasing rhythm? Basically, does it sing to you? For a guy who doesn’t dance very well, I have a great need for rhythm in my writing. If you notice any “bumps,” go back and rewrite it. Smooth everything out. If something bothers you now, it will annoy the dickens out of you in the future and someone else will probably notice it, too. When that’s finished hand it off to an editor or proofreader, whomever you can afford, and get a second pair of eyes to read it. EVERYONE needs someone else to check their work.