Monday, September 28, 2015

Fantasy Author Jane Tesh Lists her Five Favorite Books

Only five?  I have lots of favorites! A tough assignment, but here goes.
            Terry Prachett is my favorite author, and Going Postal is my favorite of his many novels set in his imaginary Discworld, an alternate universe created by Sir Terry to spoof human foolishness.  In Going Postal, a con man, given a second chance, must save the derelict postal service of Ank-Morpork.  There is romance, true danger, and an amazing satire on computers.  I am in awe of the way that Pratchett can mix comedy, drama, humor, and pathos all in one book.  That’s what I strive for in my own novels.
            Georgette Heyer is known as the creator of the Regency romance genre.  Her witty dialog and intricate plots take comedy of errors to the next level.  In my favorite book, The Foundling, the young Duke of Sale escapes his overprotective household, has adventures, and proves himself.  Heyer handles her many characters very skillfully, and I appreciate her dry and subtle comments on their foibles.
            I discovered Dorothy Sayers in my college library and became very fond of her hero detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, especially in Murder Must Advertize.  In this adventure, Lord Peter goes undercover in an advertizing agency to solve the murder of one of the employees.  I was immediately drawn into the world of upper class bon vivant Wimsey.  Again, I love dialogue, and Lord Peter never stops talking.
 Jasper Fforde is an author whose work defies description.  Mystery, fantasy, time travel, and delightful humor and invention are only a few of the things you can find in his many novels.  My favorite is The Big Over Easy.  Jack Spratt and Mary Mary of the Nursery Crime Division investigate the death of Humpty Dumpty.  Did he fall or was he pushed?  Add the evil Goliath Corporation, friendly aliens, and the All of Fforde’s books, including the Thursday Next series, and the amazing Shades of Grey (not to be confused with Fifty Shades of Gray!), in which the characters’ social status depends on what color they can see, are filled with enough literary references, wordplay, and dazzling imagination to please any English major, including myself. 
            And finally, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce, illustrated by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm.  As a former elementary school librarian, I love picture books, and even though I’m retired, I still like to read them.  It’s been a long time since a book affected me so.  Morris Lessmore’s house and all his books are blown away in a storm, and a cheerful book invites him to come live with him and hundreds of other little living books.  The pictures are evocative and amusing, and the story made me cry.  So that’s a good book!
Jane Tesh is a retired media specialist and pianist for the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mt. Airy, NC, the real Mayberry. She is the author of the Madeline Maclin Series, A Case of Imagination, A Hard Bargain, A Little Learning, and A Bad Reputation, featuring former beauty queen, Madeline “Mac” Maclin and her con man husband, Jerry Fairweather.  Stolen Hearts is the first in the Grace Street Mystery Series, featuring PI David Randall, his psychic friend, Camden, Randall’s love interest, Kary Ingram, and Cam’s career-driven girlfriend, Ellin Belton, as well as an ever-changing assortment of Cam’s tenants.  Mixed Signals is the second in the series, followed by Now You See It and Just You Wait. Jane’s mysteries are all published by Poisoned Pen Press, located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Butterfly Waltz is her first published fantasy novel from Silver Leaf Books. All of Jane’s books are on the light side with humor and romance. 

Visit Jane’s website at and her Facebook page,  You can also find her on Goodreads, Amazon’s Author Central, and

Friday, September 25, 2015

Press release: Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with 'Latina Authors and Their Muses'

For immediate release                                     
Contact: Lida Quillen
(423) 323-0183                                                                           
(September 25, 2015, Kingsport, TN)

Wisdom and Inspiration from Latina Authors in New Compilation
Latina Authors and Their Muses features advice from 40 women writers

As the Hispanic American population of the U.S. increases, with influences ranging from Mexico to Central America and the Caribbean, so does interest in literature inspired by those cultures. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by delving into Latina Authors and Their Muses.

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has now edited a collection of interviews with 40 Latina authors living in the U.S. and writing in English.Latina Authors and Their Muses is an inspirational and informative book focusing on the craft of writing and the business of publishing, one that provides aspiring writers with the nuts and bolts of the business.

I had the opportunity to meet Carmen Dolores Hernandez,  the book review editor atEl Nuevo Día newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when she visited me in Brussels,says Calvani. Shed published some of my short stories and novel excerpts inRevista Domingo in the past, and I deeply admired her wisdom as a writer and woman of letters.

She mentioned the anthology she had put together back in 1997, Puerto Rican Voices in English. I ordered a copy and became absorbed by the candor and insight of the authors as they talked about their backgrounds, books, and writing, Calvani continues.

Wouldnt it be perfect to put together a similar anthology showcasing Latina authors writing in English in the United States? This book would not only showcase prominent figures but emerging voices as well, writers working on a wide range of genres from the literary to the commercial.

The result of several years of research and interviews is Latina Authors and Their Muses. Writing in genres ranging from the literary to childrens picture books to fantasy novels to chick lit, and more, this remarkable group of talented authors shares their passion and commitment to their craft and to sharing their stories with the world in spite of the odds.

Latina Authors and Their Muses is a celebration of creativity, the writers life, and the passionate quest for spiritual and artistic freedom.

About the editor:
Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned more than ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. Shes had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The WriterWriter's Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.

Discount price of 99 cents from Sept. 25th to Oct. 5th!
Get your copy today from Amazon or OmniLit

Book info
Title: Latina Authors and Their Muses
Author: Mayra Calvani, Editor
Author web site:
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Genre: Reference/Writing Skills
*Print ISBN: 978-1-60619-063-0
    Format: 6x9 trade paperback; 340 pages; $19.95 USD
Distributors: Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Follett, etc.
*eBook ISBN: 978-1-60619-062-3; $6.50 USD
    Format: ebook in pdf, ePub, Kindle, Mobi, PRC, etc.
Distributors: Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; Nook; Kobo Books; OmniLit; OverDrive, etc.
Release date: September 25, 2015 ebook; December 15, 2015 print
LCCN: 2015952662
Chapter excerpt:

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Massacre of Innocents by Loren Abbey & Pamela Zibura Book Feature - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Title: A Massacre of Innocents
Author: Loren Abbey & Pamela Zibura
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: True Crime/Murder
Format: Ebook

 In 1952 on a highway in the small Northern California mountain village of Chester, a local businessman and four small children are carjacked, robbed and savagely bludgeoned. Three of the children are killed. A year earlier, a Folsom gold mine operator had been murdered in a home break-in robbery attempt and five months after the Chester murders, the quiet Southern California city of Burbank is rocked when, during another home break-in, an elderly widow is found bound, gagged and brutally murdered in her own home. Thus begins the terrifying chronicle of the Mountain Murder Mob’s deadly rampage up, down and through the Golden State—from the gritty back alleyways of the Los Angeles suburbs to the forested foothills of the Northern Sierras—a gang of ruthless killers ply their murderous trade by preying on society’s most vulnerable citizens. And behind the scenes, the victims’ young wife and mother copes with the grief of a life turned upside down after her heartbreaking loss. Struggling to build a new life for herself and for what now remains of her devastated family, she leans on her unwavering faith and a deep reservoir of inner strength. A Massacre of Innocents is the previously untold true story of the Mountain Murder Mob’s horrific crimes and how they ultimately paid for those crimes.


Loren Abbey has been a prolific blogger and contributor to a number of periodicals and trade journals. A former Silicon Valley executive, he is now retired, residing in Roseville, California. Pamela Zibura is a successful realtor and mother of four grown children, She resides with her husband Tony, in South Carolina near the historic antebellum city of Charleston. A Massacre of Innocents is her first book.

Loren and Pamela are giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins September 14 and ends on September 25.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on September 18.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wings of Tru Love by Kenneth C. Drinnon Book Feature

Title: Wings of Tru Love
Author: Kenneth C. Drinnon
Publisher: Xlibris
Genre: Military
Format: Ebook

Wings of Tru Love author Kenneth C Drinnon joined the United States Army Air Force in 1943 and served in the European Theater as a B17 ball-turret gunner with the 8th Air Force, 487th Heavy Bomb Group, and 838th Squadron. He flew thirty-four aerial combat missions from October 22, 1944 to February 28, 1945 over Nazi, Germany and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant before being discharged in 1945. There were several notable bombing missions, including the synthetic oil refineries at Merseberg, Germany and several against transportation facilities in support of the Army ground forces during the Battle of the Bulge, but the one most remembered by aviators of the 487th Bomb Group was December 24, 1944 when General Frederick W. Castle was killed while leading a two thousand plane bomber mission for the Eight Air Force and piloting the lead plane of the 487th Bomb Group. Both the 487th Bomb Group and the Luftwaffe suffered many casualties during an aerial gun battle.


Wings of Tru Love author Kenneth C Drinnon joined the United States Army Air Force in 1943 and served in the European Theater as a B17 ball-turret gunner with the 8th Air Force, 487th Heavy Bomb Group, and 838th Squadron. He flew thirty-four aerial combat missions from October 22, 1944 to February 28, 1945 over Nazi, Germany and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant before being discharged in 1945. There were several notable bombing missions, including the synthetic oil refineries at Merseberg, Germany and several against transportation facilities in support of the Army ground forces during the Battle of the Bulge, but the one most remembered by aviators of the 487th Bomb Group was December 24, 1944 when General Frederick W. Castle was killed while leading a two thousand plane bomber mission for the Eight Air Force and piloting the lead plane of the 487th Bomb Group. Both the 487th Bomb Group and the Luftwaffe suffered many casualties during an aerial gun battle. This book was originally self-published by the author in 2004 in order to provide a copy of his memoirs to The Mighty Eighth Air Force Heritage Museum, Savannah, Georgia and commemorate sixty years since his WWII combat experience. His Tru Love Crew (also known as Gasser’s Crew) first got back together in 1989 where forty-five years later they naturally reminisced about the closeness of their time together as a tight nit group going into battle. This meeting inspired some to begin writing down their combat memories as well as their accomplishments after leaving the Air Force. As a result, his WWII memories plus some intervening lifetime memories that he was able to accomplish due to that short period of service in the US AAF is recorded in this book Kenneth Cleveland Drinnon a native of Hancock County, Tennessee was born in Lee County, Virginia November 30, 1924 to Glenn B. and Willie Mae Overton Drinnon. He attended Mulberry Gap Elementary School and graduated at age seventeen from Hancock County High School at Sneedville, Tennessee in 1942. Following his USAAF service he attended Lincoln Memorial University for two years and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. Employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the design of Electric Power Generating Plants for thirty-two years and became a licensed Engineer in Tennessee. He married Janis Bolton while attending Lincoln Memorial University and had one daughter, Dena Daryl Drinnon, who married David E Foulk and had three children, Bethany, Jonathan, and Julia.

Kenneth is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins September 14 and ends on September 25.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on September 18.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Interview with Monica McCabe, author of Diamond Legacy

 Diamond Legacy Book Banner

Diamond LegacyTitle: Diamond Legacy
Author: Monica McCabe
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Kindle/Paperback

Blood diamonds, corruption, and undercover spies are no match for the chaos of one stubborn veterinarian…

What happens when a dental zoologist flies to Botswana to give a rare albino hippo a root canal? She lands smack in the middle of a diamond smuggling ring and right in the way of an undercover agent for International Diamond Security—one who knows firsthand the horror of conflict diamonds. Determined to bring down the cartel, he accepts the veterinarian’s help. But when the past catches up to him and the stakes skyrocket, he must risk all to save her from an evil that has haunted him for fifteen years.


Diamond Legacy is available for order at  Amazon,  B&N,  Kobo and Google Play  

Q: Please tell us about DIAMOND LEGACY, and what inspired you to write it.
A: Diamond Legacy is my debut novel and a romantic suspense that faces the harsh reality of conflict diamonds. It’s a serious subject and I try to do right by it. There’s all the fast paced action you’d expect, including gun battles, explosions and government corruption. But my writing also has a humorous undertone. I can’t help it. It just happens. And I didn’t start out to write a serious novel about gun runners and blood diamonds. I had this idea about an animal dentist. I saw a newspaper article where our local zoo had an orangutan in need of a root canal and they had to fly in specialist. I was fascinated. Before I knew it, I’d hatched a plot with a dental zoologist heroine who flies to Botswana to help a hippo in need, and ends up clashing with an undercover agent on the trail of diamond smuggling.

Q: What themes do you explore in DIAMOND LEGACY?
A: There are two main themes… My heroine is a wild game veterinarian, a zoo dentist, and passionate about animal welfare. The setting is an animal education center in Botswana so there is a lot of detail about the International Peace Parks, some behind the scenes zoo work, and the battles African wildlife face.  The hero has his own demons and battles the use of conflict diamonds as the preferred currency of arms dealers.

Q: Why do you write?
A: It’s not my fault. I come from a long line of writers and artists, so the creative gene runs rampant in my family. I inherited a vivid imagination and have always made up stories of people and places.  I never really questioned the why, it’s just something I love to do.

Q: How picky are you with language?
A: Not very. I have a love affair with words. Wait…there is this one word that I just can’t stand.  Makes me grind my teeth every time I hear it. Irregardless. It’s a double negative, sounds weird, and I bet it was even hatched on the wrong side of the grammatical blanket.

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
A: Not really, though that might make the process easier! But every now and then the subconscious does get sneaky and takes over, like it has its own agenda. You don’t notice when you’re writing it, but down the road when other things happen in the story, the serendipity of it all comes together and you’re amazed that you actually wrote something so good. I love that. I even have a term for it - accidental awesomesauce.

Q: What is your worst time as a writer?
A:  Hmm. This whole business is crazy. It’s full of highs and lows. You learn pretty quick to develop a thick skin, because sending your work out to contests, critique partners, and even on the submission trail can be a painful process. I’ve tried hard to learn something from every experience, good or bad. It’s not an easy thing to do though.

Q: Your best?
A: When I finally connected with an editor who loved my work and was willing to go one on one with me to make the story all it could be! That’s an overwhelmingly fantastic feeling. But it’s also a lot of work, because when that first round of revisions hit your inbox, the reality of that recognition begins to sink in. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
A:  Probably not. Except maybe a trip to Italy, or maybe Australia. Well, anywhere really, because I’m an absolute travel junkie. I think I’m part gypsy. I absolutely, positively, must go somewhere every year. But the funny thing about that…going places, experiencing new sights, sounds, and tastes, only fuels the creativity. It’s the circle of life (cue the Lion King music). Maybe I should be a travel writer? 

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
A: Probably the same as the best moment as a writer. Finding that amazing editor who connected with the story you spent countless hours perfecting and they loved it enough to offer a contract. That’s followed closely by the day when a box of books with your name on the title arrive at your front door.

Q: Is writing an obsession to you?
A: Not unless you call a genetic proclivity for the written word an obsession. Maybe it is. I’m pleading the 5th.

Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
A: Absolutely. I always pull from experience in one way or another. Plus I’m a researchaholic. I love to learn new things with each project, so I have to find the subject matter fascinating, give the characters jobs I’d like to have myself. If I didn’t find it interesting, there’d be no way to endure the time commitment needed to create the story world.

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
A: I think I do! People read to escape. Writers do the same thing. We escape into story worlds that we create, where we have control of every situation. I hadn’t really thought of it before, but I’m willing to bet it’s a coping mechanism. Either that or readers and writers just like good entertainment.  Ray Bradbury was a master at creating entertaining story worlds.

Q: Where is your book available?
A: It’s available at most all online book retailers. Here’s a few…

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

A: Sure do!     Stop by and say hello!

Monica McCabe Do you like stories set in unusual or exotic locations? How about unique or interesting occupations? Combine both, wrap them around romance and adventure, and that’s the kind of reading that takes you places! It’s also a style of writing for Monica McCabe. Always a bit of an adventuress, she’s lived in and explored places like Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Florida, Mexico, California, Maine, Washington, Canada, and yes, even Las Vegas. At every location she seized the opportunity to explore, hike, camp, raft, canoe, fly, ski, scuba-dive, or zip-line. She’s climbed glaciers and ancient Mayan pyramids, dived shipwrecks and reef caves, camped in sasquatch country, drove across the USA three times, and is now working on gathering as many official stamps in her National Park passport as she can. So far, nineteen and counting. Also an avid reader, the writing bug bit her hard somewhere between Alaska and Montana. Slowing down enough to actually put words on paper took a while longer. She scribbled notes, played at writing a historical romance (her favorite reading), but it wasn’t until she landed in Tennessee that writing became a passion. Now that she’s sprouted roots alongside her husband of seventeen years, tossed in two lazy cats and two happy dogs, she’s finally turned that wanderlust into crafting stories of adventure and romance. And all that travel and exploration lends realistic detail to her writing. Plus she’s been known to sneak in a bit of her own experience, and a pet or two, because they like the fame.

For More Information

Visit Monica’s website. Connect with Monica on Twitter

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Guest Post: "The Inspiration behind The Cavalier Spy," by S.W. O’Connell

TheCavalierSpy_medIn many ways, The Cavalier Spy should have been an easy book to write. After all, it is the sequel to the first book in the Yankee Doodle Spies series, The Patriot Spy, so many of the characters, themes and settings were in place when I began the book. But ironically, that made the book all the more difficult. Why? Because I wanted The Cavalier Spy to stand on its own. I wanted readers who had not read the first book in the series to enjoyThe Cavalier Spy as much as those who did read The Patriot Spy. I had no idea how hard that would be. And starting out, I had no idea how I would do it. But then I began to write and the story took over, as it often does.
The story has three general settings. I think that helped. In fact, the settings are essential to the building of the tale. This is, after all, a historical novel and I am trying to portray history through fiction. And history is about places, as well as people. The first setting is New York. The second is the area around the Hackensack Valley of New Jersey. The third setting is “western Jersey,” the area along the Delaware River. During the time of the American Revolution New Jersey was often referred to as “the Jerseys.” The Jerseys were east and west Jersey. East Jersey is that part of the state that borders New York and the North (Hudson) River. West Jersey is the portion that borders Philadelphia and the Delaware River.
Since the first setting was the same as that of The Patriot Spy, and as I began to draw out the plot, I used the setting to refer back to events that unfolded in it. I did not plan this. It just came to me as I wrote. An example is when the protagonist, Jeremiah Creed and his men are sent behind British lines he decides to go by the post house in Yorkville. There he “re-recruits” young Thomas Jefferies to the cause. I use those scenes to flash back to how they originally met, and the events that drew them together. As Creed drives deeper into British occupied New York, people he encounters and venues provide opportunities to briefly let the reader in on what happened in book one. Another challenge for the writer is to do this without making things tedious for those who read the first book. The trick is to keep the flashback short. Usually a couple of sentences. The trick is to do this without tying up the story too much and break the flow. As the story progresses to the other two settings, the need and opportunity to do this fades away. Soon the story is standing on its own legs and the reader is caught up on what happened.
Another interesting challenge I faced was telling the tale of how my protagonist arrived in America. In The Patriot Spy I hinted that he was an immigrant. InThe Cavalier Spy, I show it. But how to get there without distracting too much from the main plot, Washington’s desperate attempt to avoid defeat and his use of intelligence to aid those efforts. The idea came to me suddenly. I would have Washington and his fictional “Senior Intelligence Advisor” conduct what is essentially a “subject interview” of Creed. They confront him on his mysterious past and want to “vet” him. He decides to tell all in a “confession” to his commander in chief. Don’t worry. He doesn’t really tell all. Some things have to be saved for future books. But we do get a several chapter flashback out of it. And I had a lot of fun writing it.
By time I got to the Hackensack Valley setting, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I was able to create a fictional village and spin some interesting characters in and out of it. But in doing it, I reveal an interesting and little noted fact about the American war for Independence. It was a complex struggle and a local one. New Jersey raised some impressive Loyalist troops for the King and one of those regiments plays a role. The Hackensack Valley had a significant Dutch populace. After all, East Jersey was part of the Dutch colony (along with New York) of New Amsterdam. This provided me some rich characters to develop. It is in this setting that I bring the strange case of “Mister X” into the story. Weaving a controversial historic figure into the plot was intriguing to me, the writer. I hope it is for the reader as well.
The last setting is West Jersey. This is the iconic “times that try men’s souls.” The new nation’s hopes are all but dashed. Washington escapes the British but is now ignominiously holed up on the far bank of the Delaware River and his army has evaporated. To have any hope of saving his army and the cause, Washington must send Jeremiah Creed back into the bosom of the enemy. A key ingredient, almost a character, in this setting is, believe it or not, Mother Nature. A cold winter is gripping the Delaware Valley and it has a role in everything. The characters (and their horses) are affected. The Continental Army is affected. And most importantly, the British Army is affected. The despair that unfolds in the first two settings culminates in desperation. And this desperation sets in on both the fictional and historical characters. Washington is desperate to save his Army and the Revolution. Creed is desperate to do his duty. And the British are desperate not to lose what they have achieved. But desperation breeds valor and resourcefulness. But it can also breed mistakes. And ultimately, the fortunes of men and of nations, can turn on mistakes.
S.W. O’Connell is the author of the Yankee Doodle Spies series of action and espionage novels set during the American Revolutionary War. The author is a retired Army officer with over twenty years of experience in a variety of intelligence-related assignments around the world. He is long time student of history and lover of the historical novel genre. So it was no surprise that he turned to that genre when he decided to write back in 2009. He lives in Virginia.
Title: The Cavalier Spy
Genre: Historical
Author: S. W. O’Connell
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
About the Book:
1776: His army clinging to New York by a thread, a desperate General George Washington sends Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed behind British lines once more. But even the audacity of Creed and his band of spies cannot stop the British juggernaut from driving the Americans from New York, and chasing them across New Jersey in a blitzkrieg fashion. Realizing the imminent loss of one of the new nation’s most important states to the enemy, Washington sends Creed into the war-torn Hackensack Valley. His mission: recruit and train a gang of rogues to work behind British lines.
However, his mission takes a strange twist when the British high command plots to kidnap a senior American officer and a mysterious young woman comes between Creed and his plans. The British drive Washington’s army across the Delaware. The new nation faces its darkest moment. But Washington plans a surprise return led by young Creed, who must strike into hostile land so that Washington can rally his army for an audacious gamble that could win, or lose, the war.
“More than a great spy story… it is about leadership and courage in the face of adversity…The Cavalier Spy is the story of America’s first army and the few… those officers and soldiers who gave their all to a cause that was seemingly lost…”
~ Les Brownlee, former Acting Secretary of the Army and retired Army Colonel
“Secret meetings, skirmishes and scorching battles… The Cavalier Spy takes the reader through America’s darkest times and greatest triumphs thanks to its powerful array of fictional and historical characters… this book shows that courage, leadership and audacity are the key elements in war…”
~ F. William Smullen, Director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Author of Ways and Means for Managing UP

Interview with Leslie Josel, author of 'What's the Deal With Teens and Time Management'

Leslie Josel is the Principal of Order Out of Chaos®, an organizing consulting firm specializing in student organizing and chronic disorganization.  Launched in 2004, Order Out of Chaos® offers organizing, time management and coaching services; provides family education and ADHD resources as well as teleclasses, webinars, videos, and products to hundreds of families.

Leslie is a graduate of the JST Coach Training Program for teens and college students with ADHD. She is a Golden Circle member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and earned her Chronic Disorganization and Hoarding Specialist certificates from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD).

In 2015, Leslie’s second book, What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management, a parents’ step-by-step guide to help teach their teens the time management skills they need to succeed in school, home and in life, was published. Leslie is also the creator of the award winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management,” a student planner that helps middle and high schoolers develop and master time management skills. 

A respected resource on ADHD and Executive Functioning in students, Leslie speaks and conducts workshops nationally to parent and educator groups on a variety of issues and topics facing students today, including The Matan Institute, National Ramah Camping Commission, and Morgan Stanley.  Leslie has also been featured in national broadcast and print media such as the Hallmark Channel’s “The Better Show”, “Conversations in Care” radio, The Associated Press, Family Circle Magazine, and Educational Dealer Magazine.

Also known nationally as an expert on chronic disorganization and hoarding issues, Leslie has appeared on many episodes of TLC’s hit television show, “Hoarding: Buried Alive”,  and the Cooking Channel’s television special, “Stuffed: Food Hoarders”. In 2014, Leslie received a Telly Award, the Internet/Online programming’s highest honor for her work on dLifeTV. 

She is also the co-author of the award winning “The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life” (Spry, 2013).

To sign up for Order Out of Chaos’ monthly newsletter, read their weekly blog, access free videos, resources and information or learn more about Leslie, visit their website at

For More Information
About the Book:

Time management is a challenge for everyone, but it is a particularly daunting challenge for teens. More than 70% of teens in the US struggle with time management and the numbers are growing. Teens are busier than ever and they lack the necessary tools to manage their time.

Nationally recognized time management expert, Leslie Josel, in her new book, What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management, takes parents step-by-step through the basics of teaching teens the time management skills they need to succeed-at school, at work and in life. Says Josel, “Time management is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to everyone-but it can be learned.  This guide opens the door to the world of time management, what it really means, why it is important and why teens probably don’t ‘get it’.”

This is a user-friendly guide full of best practice solutions for helping teens stay on top of their homework, avoid procrastination traps, get out the door in the morning with minimal conflict and manage the use of their electronics. “Throughout the book I offer up my ‘Triple Ts’ – my tried and true Tips, Tools and Techniques- to provide support and guidance for parents looking to help their teens understand, develop and implement time management skills.”

In this book, parents will learn the FIVE mindsets needed to start their teen on the journey of time management awareness; how to create a “Personal Homework Profile” to better understand how their teen tackles homework; how to help their teen create a time sense and develop “future awareness”; what FOMO is and how to manage it at home; how to kick procrastination to the curb; and so much more!

For More Information

  • What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Your Teen Succeed is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Watch the book trailer here.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Can you tell us what your book is about?

“What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Teen Succeed” takes parents step-by-step through the basics of teaching their teens the time management skills they need to succeed-at school, at work and in life!  It’s a guide full of best practice solutions for helping teens stay on top of t heir homework, procrastination traps, get out of the door in the morning with minimal conflict and manage the use of their electronics.  I offer up my “Triple Ts” –tips, tools and techniques –to provide support and guidance for parents looking to help their teens understand, develop and implement time management skills.

Why did you write your book? 

I regularly travel the country presenting to parents, students and teachers on issues surrounding teens today. Over the years, the single most requested subject I am asked to speak on or parents are concerned about is time management, an issue filled with emotion, anxiety, and confusion. Not a day goes by that I am not speaking, writing, emailing, coaching or talking on this subject. Having developed an arsenal of what I call “The Triple Ts” –tips, tools and techniques—for teens and time management (and for parents!), it was time to write a book.

What kind of message is your book trying to tell your readers?

Time Management is a Life Skill that Doesn’t Come Naturally to Everyone. It Can be Learned.

 Time Management is a challenge for everyone, but it is particularly daunting for middle and high school students. There is an expectation that at their age they should be independent and know how to get things done. Add in the fact that they often lack the tools to manage their time; maybe it’s a little unrealistic for parents to expect their teenagers to instinctively know how to manage time.  So I created a step-by-step guide to take parents through the basics of teaching their teens the time management skills they need to succeed at school, at work and in life.

Who influenced you to write your book?

My son, my husband and my hundreds of clients!

Is it hard to publish a nonfiction book?

I was a very lucky girl. My publisher found me and asked me to write this book so I found the process very easy. This is actually my second book. I am also the co-author of the award winning, “The Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a More Manageable Less Stressful Diabetes Life”. That publisher only publishes non-fiction books so again it was a super easy collaborative process. Both publishers really gave me a lot of freedom to write what I wanted. They truly trusted that what I wanted to write would be well received by readers.

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

One hour? It depends on the day. Some days it would be exercise, others it would be sleep! Some would be spending time with my husband or having lunch with my friends. I need a lot of one hours! For a girl who wrote a time management book I never have enough time!!!!

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Thanksgiving hands down. I love the fact that everyone across this country is celebrating the same holiday. It lets us realize that there is something greater than ourselves at this moment. It gives us a day to reflect, connect to family, eat great food and just be together. But I get a huge kick out of the fact that no matter where you live – New York, Alaska, Hawaii, Alabama – we are all celebrating our country on the same day and Together!

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

Depends on the season. Us New York girls like to be outside as soon as the weather turns lovely. So I am thinking a lovely little cafĂ© on the water near my house. If the weather is cold, we’re heading downtown to a small restaurant with a fireplace, good wine and we can chat for hours!

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to cook-I find it relaxing and inspirational. I love to dance, music, bike ride, travel, and needlepoint and spend time with the people I love. Oh, and when I really need “Leslie time” you can find me parked in our neighborhood supermarket’s parking lot eating frozen yogurt and reading People magazine. That’s my favorite 15-minute escape!

Can you tell us about your family?

Sure!   We’re a typical in your face kind of family. We are loud; you need to talk fast to get your point heard. We love to be together and joke that we live in one room. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I lost both my parents at a young age so my family is my everything.
I’ve been married to my husband for the last 23 years. We met at a wedding in college and it was love at first site. Lucky for us we still really like each other. He works in the music business so the love of music and going to see concerts comes from him. We have two children.  Madelyn (Maddie) is a senior at Washington University in St. Louis and is majoring in political science and Chinese. She is clever, sharp, loyal, hysterical and beautiful. Lucky to be her momma. I learn so much from her every day. And my little guy (who is 6 feet tall!) is Eli. He is 17 and a senior in high school. He is the reason my business started. He has ADHD and Executive Functioning Disorder. And I am so proud of how far he has come. He amazes me everyday with his resilience and determination. He is funny, creative, soulful, and talented. He is my theater kid-sings, acts, plays music, etc. He is in his happy place when in a theater. So it’s going to be a busy year for us. He is applying to colleges and next spring we will have two graduations. I can’t believe how time has flown. Feeling old!!!

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

Write what you know. Write what you are passionate about. It doesn’t need to be perfect but it needs to be authentic. And it has to sound like you. The best complement I get from people reading my book is that they tell me when they read it they hear my voice in their heads. And that I write like I speak. That’s when I know I’ve done a good job.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Interview with Paulita Kincer, author of Trail Mix

Paulita Kincer is the author of three novels, The Summer of FranceI See London I See Franceand Trail Mix. She has an M.A. in journalism from American University and has written for The Baltimore Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, and The Columbus Dispatch. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children.

Connect with Paulita:
Author Website:

Author Interview

Can you tell us what your book is about?

Trail Mix is a novel about two women who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail as the ultimate diet plan. Although they say they’re doing it to lose weight, the truth is that they are trying to escape their chaotic lives of grumpy husbands and young adult children, and they hope to discover what their lives can be if they aren’t totally devoted to their families.

Why did you write your book?

I wanted to explore women launching a journey that would take them out of their comfort zone. Leaving behind their familiar surroundings, seemed like a good way for these characters to make decisions about their futures, their marriages and their children.

The setting along the Appalachian Trail offered the chance to challenge the characters physically, while assuaging them with new opportunities of natural beauty.

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

Best friends Andi and Jess are the main characters. Andi exercises like crazy, while Jess has a lot of self-control so can stick to diets with religious fervor. The two decide that the Appalachian Trail would be the perfect chance for them to combine their skills and get in terrific physical shape. But they both have secrets from each other. They feel judged by the other as their children don’t follow the expected paths. And spending every minute together doesn’t let them hide secrets.

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

The characters generally start based on real people but they evolve. For this novel, I based Jess on my friend Sheila who is a dedicated dieter, and Andi on myself, because I exercise like a fiend. But then both characters changed so much. Andi became really competitive about finishing the hike, and those characteristics come from one of my running friends, Noreen.

Jess became mesmerized by the beauty of everything in nature, and that is also like my friend Noreen. So it’s weird that two different characters took traits from Noreen.

One of my friends who read the novel refused to speak to me for a while because she felt Andi was being mean to Jess, and she couldn’t differentiate between me, the author, and Andi the character. I guess that’s the danger of basing a character on actual people.

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

I always begin a novel with an inciting incident. For Trail Mix, the incident is a malaise with Jess and Andi’s lives that leads them to try to hike the Appalachian Trail. But just the idea leaves so many details that have to be figured out.  What do their families think about this? What about jobs? What happens along the trail? And I have no idea how the book will end when I begin writing it. Will they hike the entire trail? Will their friendship last through the hike?

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

In all of my novels, the setting has been a major player. For this novel, Trail Mix, most of the hardships come from hiking the Appalachian Trail. But the trail also provides so many beautiful experiences to help put everyday life in perspective.

Here’s a blurb from the middle of the book to show you what I mean:

She stood on an open patch of ground, the trillium blooming
around her, a rock bearing the white mark of the Appalachian Trail
showed the direction of the trail, and she lifted her face to the sun.
The sun had broken through and warmed the earth. The dirt
 eagerly released its moisture, sending the ever present mist into
 the air as it dried.

“I’m here, now,” Jess reminded herself out loud. The sounds of the
birds twittering in the trees and the sway of the wind through the
branches seemed to tap her on the shoulder, reminding her of the
reason she was hiking in the wilderness. Enjoy the moment, they
seemed to say. 

My two other novels were both set in France, and again, a setting in a different culture puts pressure on the characters so they can focus on their true-life passions and abilities. Each time, the setting becomes part of the plot. 

What do you want the readers to get out of reading your book?

I would love for readers to close my book and feel as if they have been on a vacation, a vacation that made them laugh and cry. I’d like them to learn something, maybe about how endangered the Smoky Mountains are, and mostly, I’d like them to feel something. If readers can connect to an emotion that the characters express, I’ve done my job.

I know so many women who are struggling with the idea of their children growing up and moving away. Some of them are unsure what the next step is. But I’d like for them to realize that we all argue with our young adult children and have different ideas and dreams that they may not fulfill. Our kids will continue to grow and change, and we can too. 

About The Book

TitleTrail Mix
Author: Paulita Kincer
Publisher: Oblique Presse
Publication Date: August 30, 2014
Format: Paperback / eBook (.mobi format for Kindle)
Pages: 220
ISBN: 978-1312462502
Genre: Women's Fiction / Travel / Adventure

Buy The Book:

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

Book Description:

In the tradition of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, comes a novel of two suburban women who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, escaping their lives as moms and wives in search of nature, adventure, and the ultimate diet plan.

How does a woman know what she wants after spending 20 years thinking about her husband and children? Sometimes it takes a distraction from everyday life, time to examine the forest before the trees become clear. With no previous camping experience, Andi and Jess begin the 2100-mile odyssey from Georgia to Maine. The friends figure life on the trail can’t possibly be worse than dealing with disgruntled husbands, sullen teens home from college, and a general malaise that has crept up in their daily lives. At the very least, the women are bound to return home thin.

Book Excerpt:


Raindrops trickled down Jess’ nose. Her sodden boots plodded along, squooshing the mud with each step.
“Why did I do this?” She threw her head back, her face raised in lament to the sky. The hood of her rain poncho slipped off. The empty forest around her offered no answer, just a steady rain. Then, far above the treetops, she glimpsed a bolt of lightning streaking toward a nearby mountain and heard an answering boom of thunder. She cringed and scuttled faster down the trail.
For nearly two hours, since the wind first whispered its urgency through the leaves, and the raindrops began to fall, Jess had been hiking through the thunderstorm with no place to stop and dry off. No place to get warm. No offer of coffee or a dryer where she could heat up her clingy socks. She walked alone on the Appalachian Trail.
Like being in the middle of labor and deciding she didn’t want to give birth after all, Jess could not turn back. Well, she could turn back, but she would find only more of the same -- woods and rain and an endless trail.
This adventure was all Andi’s idea. As Jess trudged through the forest in the unrelenting rain, she blamed her best friend and hiking companion, Andi, who had pushed the hike as a great way to lose weight. And, when Jess’ teenagers took off for the summer leaving a big gap where the role of mother used to be, she thought a hike with Andi might fill that space. Andi, who, with her long legs, strode ahead, maybe miles away by now, claiming she had to hurry to the nearest shelter to keep the tent dry. Andi had tucked Jess’ poncho around her pack before presenting her back for Jess to return the favor.
“See you at the shelter,” Andi had called. “Only about three miles farther.”
In the city, a three-mile walk might take 45 minutes, an hour if she stopped to window shop. Here, in the mountains, it could last days as she climbed up peaks and descended into valleys. Oh, who was she kidding? She would never walk three miles in the city. She would get in her car and drive.
The thunder crashed louder, and Jess eyed the spiky greenery of a large fir tree. She could take cover under the tree, be a little bit sheltered. Even as she considered taking refuge, she stumbled past the tree, walking, walking.
Tears joined the rain on her face. She felt trapped. No exit ramps in sight. She could only continue to walk.
The wind ripped at her poncho as she climbed slippery stones that had been placed to form stairs. At the top, the wind gusts grew stronger and tried to push her back down. She hurried on along the ridge. Her walking poles dug into the mud that edged the rocks along the path.
On this crest, she stood exposed to the wind and rain and lightning. Rhododendron bushes lined the trail below, but the only plant that dared to peek through the crevices on this crag was a lone sycamore tree. If Jess could escape this bare slope, the trees ahead would provide an arching umbrella across the trail. As she started to descend with the trail, her boot slid across a slick stone, and she toppled backward in slow motion. She wheeled her arms, trying to right herself, but could not stop the plunge until her backpack hit the ground, and she landed – thump – on top of it.
This was supposed to be a diet plan, not a death sentence, she thought, lying on her back like a turtle on its shell, her arms and legs sprawled helplessly at her side. I may drown. The downpour pummeled her full in the face, but she lacked the energy to sit up, free herself from the 30-pound pack, heft it onto her back, and start the hike again.
As the rain doused her face, she slipped one arm from her pack and turned onto her side, away from the sky. For just a moment, she allowed herself to rest, curled into the fetal position beside her pack. A tingle began in her spine, and, in the moment she pondered why—everything went black.

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