Thursday, July 20, 2017

Interview with Ed Lin, author of This is a Bust

Set in New York’s Chinatown in 1976, this sharp and gritty novel is a mystery set against the backdrop of a city in turmoil
Robert Chow is a Vietnam vet and an alcoholic. He’s also the only Chinese American cop on the Chinatown beat, and the only police officer who can speak Cantonese. But he’s basically treated like a token, trotted out for ribbon cuttings and community events.
So he shouldn’t be surprised when his superiors are indifferent to his suspicions that an old Chinese woman’s death may have actually been a murder. But he sure is angry. With little more than his own demons to fuel him, Chow must take matters into his own hands.
Rich with the details of its time and place, this homage to noir will appeal to fans of S.J. Rozan and Michael Connelly.

January 20, 1976. The Hong Kong-biased newspaper ran an editorial about how the Chinese who had just come over were lucky to get jobs washing dishes and waiting tables in Chinatown. Their protest was making all Chinese people look bad. If the waiters didn’t like their wages, they should go ask the communists for jobs and see what happens.

Here in America, democracy was going to turn 200 years old in July. But the Chinese waiters who wanted to organize a union were going directly against the principles of freedom that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln had fought for.

Those waiters were also disrespecting the previous generations of Chinese who had come over and worked so hard for so little. If it weren’t for our elders, the editorial said, today we would be lumped in with the lazy blacks and Spanish people on welfare.

I folded the newspaper, sank lower in my chair, and crossed my arms. I banged my heels against the floor.

“Just a minute, you’re next! Don’t be so impatient!” grunted Law, one of the barbers. A cigarette wiggled in his mouth as he snipped away on a somber-looking Chinese guy’s head. When he had one hand free, he took his cigarette and crushed it in the ashtray built into the arm cushion of his customer’s chair.

He reached into the skyline of bottles against the mirror for some baby powder. Law sprinkled it onto his hand and worked it into the back of the somber guy’s neck while pulling the sheet off from inside his collar. Clumps of black hair scampered to the floor as he shook off the sheet.

The customer paid. Law pulled his drawer out as far as it would go and tucked the bills into the back. Then he came over to me.

Law had been cutting my hair since I was old enough to want it cut. He was in his early 60s and had a head topped with neatly sculpted snow. His face was still soft and supple, but he had a big mole on the lower side of his left cheek.

You couldn’t help but stare at it when he had his back turned because it stood out in profile, wiggling in sync with his cigarette.

He looked at the newspaper on my lap.

“We should give all those pro-union waiters guns and send them to Vietnam!” Law grunted. “They’ll be begging to come back and bus tables.”

“They wouldn’t be able to take the humidity,” I said.

“That’s right, they’re not tough like you! You were a brave soldier! OK, come over here. I’m ready for you now,” Law said, wiping off the seat. I saw hair stuck in the foam under the ripped vinyl cover, but I sat down anyway. Hair could only make the seat softer.

“I don’t mean to bring it up, but you know it’s a real shame what happened. The Americans shouldn’t have bothered to send in soldiers, they should have just dropped the big one on them. You know, the A-bomb.”

“Then China would have dropped an A-bomb on the United States,” I said.

“Just let them! Commie weapons probably don’t even work!” Law shouted into my right ear as he tied a sheet around my neck.

“They work good enough,” I said.

When Chou En Lai had died two weeks before, the Greater China Association had celebrated with a ton of firecrackers in the street in front of its Mulberry Street offices and handed out candy to the obligatory crowd. The association had also displayed a barrel of fireworks they were going to set off when Mao kicked, which was going to be soon, they promised. Apparently, the old boy was senile and bedridden. 

“Short on the sides, short on top,” I said.

“That’s how you have to have it, right? Short all around, right?” Law asked.

“That’s the only way it’s ever been cut.”

If you didn’t tell Law how you wanted your hair, even if you were a regular, he’d give you a Beefsteak Charlie’s haircut, with a part right down the center combed out with a Chinese version of VO5. I was going to see my mother in a few days, and I didn’t want to look that bad.

“Scissors only, right? You don’t like the electric clipper, right?”

“That’s right,” I said. When I hear buzzing by my ears, I want to swat everything within reach. Law’s old scissors creaked through my hair. Sometimes I had to stick my jaw out and blow clippings out of my eyes. The barbershop’s two huge plate glass windows cut into each other at an acute angle in the same shape as the street. Out one window was the sunny half of Doyers Street. The other was in the shade. How many times had I heard that this street was the site of tong battles at the turn of the century? How many times had I heard tour guides say that the barbershop was built on the “Bloody Angle”?

The barbershop windows were probably the original ones, old enough so they were thicker at the bottom than at the top. They distorted images of people from the outside, shrinking heads and bloating asses. In the winters, steam from the hot shampoo sink covered the top halves of the windows like lacy curtains in an abandoned house.

In back of me, a bulky overhead hair dryer whined like a dentist’s drill on top of a frowning woman with thick glasses getting a perm.

The barbers had to shout to hear each other. The news station on the radio was nearly drowned out. The only time you could hear it was when they played the xylophone between segments or made the dripping-sink sounds.

If you knew how to listen for it, you could sometimes hear the little bell tied to the broken arm of the pneumatic pump on the door. The bell hung from a frayed loop of red plastic tie from a bakery box. When the bell went off, one or two barbers would yell out in recognition of an old head.

The bell went off, and Law yelled right by my ear.

“Hey!” he yelled. Two delayed “Hey”s went off to my left and right. The chilly January air swept through the barbershop. A thin man in a worn wool coat heaved the door closed behind him and twisted off his felt hat. His hands were brown, gnarled, and incredibly tiny, like walnut shells. He fingered the brim of his hat and shifted uneasily from foot to foot, but made no motion to take off his coat or drop into one of the four empty folding chairs by the shadow side of Doyers. He swept his white hair back, revealing a forehead that looked like a mango gone bad.

“My wife just died,” he said. If his lungs hadn’t been beat up and dusty like old vacuum-cleaner bags, it would have been a shout. “My wife died,” he said again, as if he had to hear it to believe it. The hairdryer shut down. “Oh,” said Law. “I’m sorry.” He went on with my hair. No one else said anything. Someone coughed. Law gave a half-grin grimace and kept his head down, the typical stance for a Chinese man stuck in an awkward situation. The radio babbled on.

The barbers just wanted to cut hair and have some light conversation about old classmates and blackjack. Why come here to announce that your wife had died? The guy might as well have gone to the Off Track Betting joint on Bowery around the corner. No one was giving him any sympathy here.

Death was bad luck. Talking about death was bad luck. Listening to someone talk about death was bad luck. Who in Chinatown needed more bad luck?

“What should I do?” the thin man asked. He wasn’t crying, but his legs were shaking. I could see his pant cuffs sweep the laces of his polished wing tips. “What should I do?” he asked again. The xylophone on the radio went off.

I stood up and swept the clippings out of my hair. The bangs were longer on one side of my head. I slipped the sheet off from around my neck and coiled it onto the warmth of the now-vacant seat. Law opened a drawer, dropped in his scissors, and shut it with his knee. He leaned against his desk and fumbled for a cigarette in his shirt pocket.

I blew off the hair from my shield and brushed my legs off. I pushed my hat onto my head.

“Let’s go,” I told the thin man.

Q: Please tell us about This Is a Bust, and what inspired you to write it. 

A: This Is a Bust is the first book in a series set in Manhattan's Chinatown in 1976. I was inspired by my own outsider status (as a suburban Asian American) to write about another outsider (a Chinese American cop). The year was also special as America was turning 200 but also grappling with self-doubt in terms of the Vietnam War, while the old rival leaders in the Chinese Civil War were dead and dying. Everything was changing for the U.S. and China, and Chinatown was a bit of a meeting place of it all. 

Q: What themes do you explore in This Is a Bust? 

A: I like to explore the little guy's story. Every man is an island, at times. It's easy to get caught up in our own struggles without seeing the bigger picture. One way we can figure out our own problems is to help others. Also, Asian Americans are not a model minority. I know plenty of unmotivated idiots who do dumb things, and my character is a bit of that end. 

Q: Why do you write? 

A: I am compelled to write. Even if I weren't being published, I'd be writing. If I feel a story coming on, I have to write it or I can't sleep. 

Q: How picky are you with language? 

A: I am sorta picky. Have you ever eaten a loaded burger that has one condiment or topping you don't like? If the burger is super great, I wouldn't bother scooping out the mayonnaise. But if it was just okay, I'd reach for a spoon and break that puppy open. I feel the same way about a story and I generally allow dialog to be as messy as a burger that a disgruntled teen would assemble, because it's real. 

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar? 

A: No, I'm being worked over by the power of caffeine and the voice in my head that says, "You suck!" 

Q: What is your worst time as a writer? A: When I'm actually writing! I feel like I'm plugging away, not getting anything done and everything is terrible. Well, after about several months of getting nothing done, there's enough writing to whip up a first draft. 

Q: Your best? 

A: Getting that first draft done and being able to lift my head in wonder at the sunlight and the skies again. 

Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing? 

A: Never. I will always write. Even if I were laid out in a hospital bed, if I can tap my nose to a touchscreen, I will do it! The Diving Bell and the Butterfly! 

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author? 

A: So far, maybe getting a physical copy of that first book. It was amazing to hold that thing in my hands, words that had been spinning in my hard drive. 

Q: Is writing an obsession to you? 

A: YES. Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way? A: Anything I can think of has been built from my experience with the world, so in that sense, my stories are collaboratively produced between me and all the people I've ever interacted with. 

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree? 

A: Here's a dirty secret about me: I rarely drink. But if I did, I'm pretty sure that I would feel that reality is a process of destroying ourselves. Not only physically, but our old ideas dry up and flake off, as well. It's a creative destruction, really. If we resisted change and letting things go, we'd all be hoarders and die horrible, lonely deaths under collapsed towers of stuff. 

Q: Where is your book available? 

A: At all reputable outlets. 

Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work? 

A: This is me:

Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. His books include Waylaid, and a trilogy set in New York’s Chinatown in the 70s: This Is a Bust, Snakes Can’t Run and One Red Bastard. Ghost Month, published by Soho Crime in July 2014, is a Taipei-based mystery, and Incensed, published October 2016, continues that series. Lin lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.

Connect with Ed at or on social media at:

Monday, July 17
Book featured at Cheryl's Book Nook
Book featured at Chill and Read
Guest blogging at Mythical Books

Tuesday, July 18
Interviewed at I'm Shelf-ish
Book featured at Elise's Audiobook Digest
Book featured at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, July 19
Book featured at Must Read Faster
Book featured at Diana's Book Reviews
Interviewed at Harmonious Publicity

Thursday, July 20
Book featured at The Writers' Life
Book featured at Stormy Nights Reviewing
Interviewed at As the Page Turns

Friday, July 21
Book featured at Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm
Guest blogging at Thoughts in Progress

Sunday, July 23
Book featured at T's Stuff
Interviewed at The Literary Nook

Monday, July 24
Book featured at A Title Wave
Book featured at Stuck in YA Books

Tuesday, July 25
Book featured at The Angel's Pearl
Book featured at Write and Take Flight
Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge

Wednesday, July 26
Book featured at Don't Judge, Read
Book featured at The Toibox of Words
Book featured at Comfy Chair Books

Thursday, July 27
Book featured at The Dark Phantom

Friday, July 28
Book featured at A Book Lover
Book featured at Mello and June

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Interview with Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes, authors of Iniquities of Gulch Fork

In the worn and tired town of Gulch Fork, Arkansas, certified nursing assistant Samantha Caminos heads to her patient Rob Dean's home and wonders how she can find common ground with the aloof, disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from not only PTSD but also severe neuropathy caused by Agent Orange. As Samantha approaches the house, she has no idea that very soon their lives will take a new turn. Gulch Fork, a town once filled with Ozark tranquility, takes on an aura of evil when bizarre events begin to affect Rob and two other war-scarred veterans, Peter Ness and Ron Woods-Samantha's father. But when Samantha learns that two elderly couples without living relatives in the area have fallen prey to fraud and embezzlement by a man who claims to be a pastor, she sets out on a quest to piece together a complex mystery fueled by those hell-bent on taking advantage of citizens too fragile to defend themselves. In this compelling novel based on true events, three veterans seeking peace and serenity from PTSD fall victim to injustice, prompting a young health care worker to investigate the evil that has infiltrated their once peaceful Arkansas town.


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

This is a book about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from two viewpoints. A) From a Vietnam veteran who spent one year in a war zone. B) From the daughter of a veteran with PTSD who’d grown up as the victim of one who suffered from PTSD. 

How did you come up with the idea? 

Our personal experiences with PTSD, alcoholism, being taken advantage of by red-necked miscreants. 

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

None necessary, due to our personal first-hand experiences. 

Can you give us a short excerpt? 

 After living in Spain for a number of years, Rob had decided to return to the United States. Spain became too expensive, and Islamic terrorists had blown up a hotel only two blocks from where he lived. Rob chose to come to the northwest corner of Arkansas, seeking peace and tranquility. He thought it was the safest part of the entire country. As a child living in Oklahoma, he had immensely enjoyed coming to Arkansas for a weekend visit with relatives. But that was before his parents divorced and his mother remarried. As things were going now, Rob started to wonder if coming to the Boston Mountains wasn’t such a good idea after all. 

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

It is difficult, because you need an expert on the subject to authenticate the contents. Ours is not considered nonfiction.

Bob Smith is a naval officer who had Agent Orange spilled on him in Vietnam and suffers from severe PTSD in addition to disabling neuropathy. After living in Spain, he returned to America and settled in the Ozarks, where he is happily pursuing his dream of writing. Sara Rhodes is a wife, mother, and certified nursing assistant who originally lived in Alaska before moving to the Ozarks with her family. Bob is her former patient whose teachings about PTSD helped her recognize her own father's battle with it. Both Bob and Sara find animals to be a great source of comfort.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Interview with Phil Kimble, author of The Art of Making Good Decisions

Born in Atlanta, Phil Kimble went to school in Utah, lived for 2 years in LA, then moved back to Atlanta.  He and his wife Julie live in Conyers.  Mr. Kimble is an avid motorcyclist and competitive distance runner.  

Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, The Art of Making Good Decisions. What was your inspiration for it?
A: Writing is a hobby for me, not a profession.  The reason I decided to write a book on this topic is that I saw in non-professional group settings, and with individuals, a need to learn how to make straight-forward decisions, rather than simply staring at a list of possible choices, or throwing a dart.  The concepts in the book are relatively established quantitative approaches that have been adapted to personal and group purposes. 

Q: Why was the writing of this book important for you?
A:  I was watching my daughter struggle with a life decision about a college major, and I wondered why it was such a difficult challenge for her, why she couldn’t use decision models I have used in my professional career.  On the other hand, I saw in my professional career many instances where the only thing that was considered was the metrics of the choices, and wondered why the people involved couldn’t be more intuitive.  On both sides of the coin, it appeared that way too much time and emotion was invested in the struggle of a decision because of their narrow approaches.  If there was a way both the subjective and the objective could be wrapped together in the decision process, such an approach would be beneficial to both the individual and the organization.  The quantitative principles in the book are simplified and easy for the subjective person to apply, and the subjective principles are flags for even the most rigid organization.  Hopefully both will benefit. 

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
A:  About 2 years.  After I decided on the original concept, I would simply record ideas for chapters as those ideas came to me.  Then I would become more specific, recording ideas for  segments of each chapter.  It was somewhat like constructing a building, where it went from idea to conceptual drawings to blueprints to construction.   Given that I am a business professional, I did not have the luxury of spending unbroken time on the project, which I think, in the end, was the best approach.    I spent the first 18 months gathering info and ideas, assembling and providing structure.  The last 6-9 months was writing.

Q: What is the one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?
A:  A way to make and execute even the most difficult personal and professional decisions, and to be confident and hopeful of the outcome.

Q: What discoveries or surprises did you experience while writing this book?
A:  Some of the data, especially regarding marriage and divorce, which was more dramatic than I first supposed.  It would be expected that online dating would lead to better long-term relationships than, say, meeting in a bar, but the size of the statistical gap was unexpected. 

Q: How do you define success as an author?
A: I don’t define it, for me, as producing a commercially valuable product.  I suppose if you can take it from beginning to the final page, you are a success.  There are a lot of people who say “I have an idea for a book” and that’s about as far as it goes.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about your publishing process?
A: Self-publishing print-on-demand (there needs to be an acronym for this, let’s call it SPOD) requires a bit more technical capacity than one might expect, but it is relatively painless.  It is a two-edge sword, however.  You are in control of the product, but because you are doing the heavy lifting regarding the editing, you are liable to miss several small mistakes, and the end product might not be as polished as you would like..

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring nonfiction writers? Could you offer some tips or resources that have been helpful to you?
A:  Write because you enjoy it.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A:  Don’t be afraid to write a book.  Don’t worry about its commercial success.  Write because you enjoy it.

Title:  The Art of Making Good Decisions
Genre: Self Help/Personal Growth/Self-Improvement
Author: Philip Kimble

About the Book:

 Feeling stumped, stymied, or stupefied by a big (or small) decision? A new book, The Art of Making Good Decisions takes the guesswork out of common decision-making quandaries and explains how to make good, solid, choices—easily, quickly, and consistently.
              Sources estimate that an individual makes more than 30,000 conscious decisions each day.  While most decisions are relatively minor—researchers at Cornell University suggest that persons typically make over 200 decisions a day on food alone—decisions, even the small ones, matter.  Consequently, being able to make consistently good, solid decisions is vitally important to our well-being, our livelihood, and our happiness.
               Written by Atlanta area resident Philip Kimble, The Art of Making Good Decisions, explains how—and why—to make good decisions.  A groundbreaking book filled with fascinating insights, tips, tricks and techniques, The Art of Making Good Decisions sheds light on such topics as:  the three driving elements to any decision; elements of the decision model sequence; the key component behind bad decisions; how to recognize a good decision; what happens when decisions need to be tweaked—aka zigging and zagging;  becoming a more confident decision maker; and other important topics. Moreover, The Art of Making Good Decisions is filled with step-by-step examples, sage advice, and anecdotes.
So the next time you find yourself frustrated, flummoxed, or frazzled when facing a decision, take heart:  by applying the principles outlined in The Art of Making Good Decisions, you can begin your transition from inaction to decisiveness and bring sense and clarity to choices. Now that’s a good decision.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Interview with Jesse Teller, author of Mestlven

Revenge, Insanity, and the Bloody Diamonds 

Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.


Can you tell us a little more about Meredith Mestlven?
Meredith was maybe 16 when everything fell apart. To that point, she was a nobleman’s daughter. She never had to worry about anything. In later years of her life, if she looked back at her life before 16, she would find it all to be so trivial, violin lessons, parties, dances, food, the art of idle conversation. She would have found all these things to be inane. Before the age of 16, that was her life. She was betrothed to marry a man she’d fallen in love with in the exotic city of Mestlven. She couldn’t have been more excited. She couldn’t have been happier. When tragedy, real tragedy, hits someone, it spreads like a cancer. It hits one particular facet of their life, somebody dies or something is lost, and slowly it spreads to other places, to other things, touching on the peripheral and reaching out beyond. Sometimes it can take over everything. That’s what happened to Meredith. Her tragedy spread like a cancer that devoured her mind, and she was never the same.
What inspired you to write Mestlven?
Mestlven was largely inspired by a deep-seeded anger that rested above my heart and just below my shoulders. It sat there, slowly bending my back, souring my blood. It was a quiet rage that had been building since I was a child, a seed of anger that had been planted there long ago, and no matter how much happiness I had achieved, I just could not rip out the root of that sour plant. I needed a fire, something to burn it all away, a controlled searing of that bitter brush. I needed to watch something bleed, so I wrote Mestlven. I put all of that anger in that book, all that righteous flame, seared it away. Mestlven healed me in a different way than every other book I’ve written. Mestlven took care of that seed of that anger. But there are other flora, taken care of in other books.
Was it hard to write the main character?
Meredith is nearly impossible to write. She’s insane. Insanity is hard to do well. You have a tendency to go over the top or not far enough. You have to walk the rope of delusion, where things don’t make sense at all, to reality, where things make sense perfectly. It’s a delicate balance because you can’t lose the reader. The reader has to read the insanity and know exactly what’s happening in the reality behind the delusion. It’s nearly impossible. The only reason I was able to do it is because I’ve felt that delusion. I’ve been crazy. I know what it looks like, what it feels like. I can describe the madness because I lived it. In that way, I think I was born and specially designed to write this work. You can’t get Mestlven from any other writer. And I think that’s the reality behind all of my work. The things I went through in my childhood and young adulthood were all designed to make me the writer that I am, the father that I am, the husband. All of those terrible things hammered out the man I became.
Do you have a genre you feel you like to write more than others? If so, do you know why?
Fantasy, fantasy, and more fantasy. I’m writing a blog about my life. It has stories describing things that happened to me. Partly it’s trying to make sense of my life and where it’s headed. Partly I’m just doing it for fun. But fantasy is my life. I say that, I say fantasy is my life, but the reality is fantasy is my life. It walks with me every day, everywhere I go. I see the world through the lens of fantasy. There’s something unbridled about it. I was watching a movie the other night about a group of kids with special powers, and I didn’t know what those powers were, but I did know, that at any point, at any moment, one of those kids could unleash a crippling power that I could not imagine. They could just explode their will out and some crazy ability would become known. It was so exciting. And my work is the same way. Largely, I don’t know what’s going to happen when I write. It comes out as I go along. So if I describe a man walking into a bar, I’m never really sure, I never know if that guy’s going to walk up to the bar top and order a drink, if he’s going to burst into song, or if he’s going to burst into flames. He might be no one. He might be huge. The potential’s always there. That’s why I love fantasy.
Can you tell us more about your first book? Has your writing style changed since you wrote it?
Oh yeah, so my first book was Chaste. The original draft was 776 pages. The rewrite was 320. So yeah, my writing style has changed quite a bit. When I first wrote Chaste, I felt like I needed to back up and explain everything, every tiny thing. I remember I wrote a scene where a guy walks into a blacksmith shop and the blacksmith’s tools are hanging on the wall. I went into a 50-page tale about where those tools came from. But in the end, there are very few people who want to read all that, and details like that lose the rest of the story. Every time you have to sit and read about where a pair of pliers came from, the story loses momentum. The story has to sit and get cold. It’s quite like the guy who’s in the blacksmith shop working. He’s got the horseshoe or the blade or whatever, red-hot and he’s hammering and working. The other guy walks into his shop and he sets the horseshoe or blade down, and walks over and explains where all his tools came from. By the time he gets back to his horseshoe, it’s cold and he has to heat it up again. He’s lost all that time. No blacksmith is going to willingly do that. Nor should any writer. 

Please click on the picture for details on how to enter this fabulous giveaway!

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues. 

He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin. 

Author links: