Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Blast: Spaces Between Notes by Kristina M. Sanchez

Inside the Book

Title: Spaces Between Notes 
Author: Kristina M. Sanchez 
Publisher: Amazon 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Nikolai Amorosa is one of those men’s men. You know the type—allergic to feelings, couldn’t have a heartfelt discussion if he tried, which he never did. Then, he lost his voice, and any chance of communication went out the window.

Unable to speak or otherwise interact with anyone, Niko’s anger was off the charts. It could’ve been worse; he could’ve been in jail. Instead, he found himself doing construction on Carys Harper’s house. Carys talked—a lot—both with her voice and her hands. She was also at the beck and call of her deaf little brother, Benny, which drove Niko nine kinds of crazy. Not that he would’ve said anything, even if he could.

Something else that drove him crazy? Carys was stubborn. She wouldn’t let him wallow. More than that, she seemed to hear all the things he couldn’t say. She understood him like she understood music. She heard what existed in the spaces between notes. She knew that sometimes silence screams the loudest.


Meet the Author

Kristina Sanchez is a lifelong insomniac whose creative career began when she used to make up stories about Bugs Bunny in her head while the rest of the house slept. She’s a Southern California native who can frequently be found at Disneyland because it’s easier to park there than go to the beach, sadly. Although writing is her first passion and only love, she finds fulfillment working in social services with the county of Orange. Currently, Kristina is the mother of a grumpy old man-cat named Mutt and a strange flight risk named Sirus Blackcat, who is, indeed, a black cat.

You can find Kristina easily enough on most social media platforms, where she will share her viewpoint on all the taboo subjects: religion, politics, and Supernatural, with the odd cat video thrown in for flavor. Prolific. Opinionated. Nerdy as all get out. Have fun, because you can bet she will.




Interview with Ian Douglas, author of Altered Starscape


Inside the Book:

Title: Altered Starscape
Author: Ian Douglas
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Format: Ebook

Galaxies collide in a thrilling new series from bestselling author Ian Douglas, as the last humans in the universe face off against a new threat 2162.

Thirty-eight years after first contact, Lord Commander Grayson St. Clair leads theTellus Ad Astra on an unprecedented expedition to the Galactic Core, carrying more than a million scientists, diplomats, soldiers, and AIs. Despite his reservations about their alien hosts, St. Clair is deeply committed to his people—especially after they're sucked into a black hole and spat out four billion years in the future.Civilizations have risen and fallen. The Andromeda Galaxy is drifting into the Milky Way. And Earth is most certainly a distant memory. All that matters now is survival. But as the ship's Marines search for allies amid ancient ruins and strange new planetary structures, St. Clair must wrap his mind around an enemy capable of harnessing a weapon of incomprehensible power: space itself.
Q: Please tell us about Altered Starscape, and what inspired you to write it.

A: Four billion years from now, the galaxy M31 in Andromeda will be colliding with our own Milky Way galaxy, in a maelstrom of stars and (presumably) civilizations. Altered Starscape takes a million 22nd century humans and drops them in the middle of this "altered starscape," where they must explore godlike technologies, separate the good guys from the bad guys, and make difficult decisions about how they will govern themselves in this radically post-human future.

Q: Why do you write?

A: How can I not?

Q: How picky are you with language?

A: I'm quite picky about my words. Dialog, in particular, shapes the characters in the minds of the readers, and characters (as people) don't always speak in the complete, grammatically correct sentences that professional editors prefer.

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

A: No, I’m wearing my tinfoil hat.

Q: What is your worst time as a writer?

A: When I finish writing a book.

Q: Your best?

A: When I finish writing a book.

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

A: Death. Really. I will write until I can't write any more.

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

A: The first time I hit the New York Times bestseller list.

Q: Is writing an obsession to you?

A: No, it's more of an addiction.

Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

A: I have loved science and history from very young age. In my youth I was a Navy hospital corpsman (Marine medic) and a laboratory technician, and I employ my Navy experience in all my military writing.

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

A: I prefer to stay well grounded in reality so that my inherent insanity can show through.

Q: Where is your book available?

A: At any bookstore (if they don't have it in stock, they can order it for you), and at your local library.

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

A: My website is whkeith dot com. (There’s a page there which explains why I, William H. Keith, use pen names such as Ian Douglas.)

Meet the Author:

Ian Douglas is one of the pseudonyms for William H. Keith, New York Times bestselling author of the popular military science fiction series The Heritage Trilogy, The Legacy Trilogy, The Inheritance Trilogy, Star Corpsman, and Star Carrier. A former naval corpsman, he lives in Pennsylvania.

Guest Blog from Emre Gurgen, author of Don Quixote Explained

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Inside the Book:

Don Quixote Explained
Title: Don Quixote Explained Author: Emre Gurgen Publisher: AuthorHouse Genre: Literary Criticism Format: Ebook/Paperback
  Don Quixote Explained focuses on seven topics: how Sancho Panza refines into a good governor through a series of jokes that turn earnest; how Cervantes satirizes religious extremism in Don Quixote by taking aim at the Holy Roman Catholic Church; how Don Quixote and Sancho Panza check-and-balance one another’s excesses by having opposite identities; how Cervantes refines Spanish farm girls by transforming Aldonza Lorenzo into Dulcinea; how outlaws like Roque Guinart and Gines Pasamonte can avoid criminality and why; how Cervantes establishes inter-religional harmony by having a Christian translator, on the one hand, and a Muslim narrator, on the other; and lastly, how Cervantes replaces a medieval view of love and marriage―where a woman is a housekeeper, lust-satisfier, and child begetter―with a modern view of equalitarian marriage typified by a joining of desires and a merger of personalities. "AN ERUDITE EXAMINATION OF THE THEMES AND IDEAS IN DON QUIXOTE. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THE WRITING AND EXPOSITION OF THIS WELL-REASONED CRITIQUE. BUY IT AND STUDY IT. GERALD J. DAVIS, AUTHOR OF DON QUIXOTE, THE NEW TRANSLATION BY GERALD J. DAVIS" WWW.DON-QUIXOTE-EXPLAINED.COM
Meet the Author:
Emre Gurgen, the author of Don Quixote Explained: The Story of an Unconventional Hero, has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Pennsylvania State University. Currently, he lives in Germantown, Maryland, where he is writing a follow-up Don Quixote essay collection and study guide.

Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 28 - Interviewed at PUYB Virtual Book Club
Wednesday, June 29 - Interviewed at  at I'm Shelf-ish
Thursday, June 30 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Monday, July 4 - Interviewed at The Review From Here
Tuesday, July 5 - Guest blogging at My Bookish Pleasure
Wednesday, July 6 - Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess
Thursday, July 7 - Guest blogging at The Literary Nook
Friday, July 8 - Guest blogging at All Inclusive Retort
Monday, July 11 - Guest blogging at A Title Wave
Tuesday, July 12 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Friday, July 15 - Guest blogging at As the Page Turns
Monday, July 18 - Guest blogging at A Taste of My Mind
Tuesday, July 19 -  Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight
Wednesday, July 20 - Guest blogging at Harmonious Publicity
Thursday, July 21 - Interviewed  at Bent Over Bookwords
Friday, July 22 - Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Talking Books with Robert J. Dornan, author of '23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.'

Robert J Dornan is someone who wishes to leave a better world to his children. He realizes that the odds are slim but he will do whatever he can to increase the probability of success.  He is always open to discuss new and innovative ideas and hopes someday to see the building of a functional solar city as well as a fair and community-driven compensation system.

Robert’s latest book is the historical fiction, 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.

For More Information

It’s a pleasure to have you here today, Robert. Can you tell us what your new book is about?

First of all, thank-you for the opportunity to discuss 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. with your readers. I welcome all feedback and can be reached via email to discuss my books as well as a variety of environmental subjects.

During the early hours of April 26, 1986, Reactor Four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant exploded,   23 Minutes is a fictional account of how the lives of two sisters were forever changed by this horrific accident.
releasing millions of radioactive isotopes into the night sky.

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

Mila and Tania Kharmalov are sisters in their early twenties who were born in Moscow and later moved to the nuclear city of Pripyat.  Mila is strong headed, and at times, bold while Tania has a soft personality and timid of confrontation. 

Valeri Markov, the primary villain, is the most complex character I have ever written and a complete enigma to the other characters in the novel.  He appears vain and overly extroverted yet as the story unfolds we learn that he is totally dependent on the person that most would consider as Markov’s sidekick.

Aaron Byrd is the friend of Mila’s daughter and is “interviewing” Tania, hoping to write the story of a lifetime.  He is often flabbergasted and confused by East European customs or mannerisms but even more flabbergasted by Mila’s daughter, whom he loves dearly.

Your book is set in both Pripyat and Kiev.  Can you tell us why you chose these cities in particular?

Pripyat was situated a kilometer and a half from Chernobyl’s Reactor Four.  The city, the most modern in all of Ukraine, was considered the jewel of all Soviet nuclear cities.  Although tiny in comparison to Moscow, Pripyat had every imaginable luxury including a marina, coffee shops and high-end restaurants. When Pripyat was evacuated, a good percentage of its citizens found refuge in Kiev and most remained there for the rest of their lives.

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

The Kharmalov family is eating dinner the evening before Tania is to be married.  Her future husband, Yuri, is joining the family and has been discussing his boss as well as the surprise inspection intended for the nuclear plant that evening.  The discussion turns to Yuri’s best friend Alex and Alex’s mother who will also be attending the next day’s ceremony.  When Mr. Kharmalov jokes about Alex’s mother he is admonished by his wife but he manages to crack one more silly comment to his son.  Mila laughs, not realizing that this would be the last dinner they would all spend together.

What has been the most pivotal point of your writing life?

The first time a stranger told me she liked one of my books was pivotal for me.  It was exhilarating and in turn, inspired me to continue learning the craft.  Aside from that, in the past decade I’ve become more involved in topics that will affect the lives of my children and these issues have inspired me and are thus central in most of my stories. 

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors? 

The very first subject I’d discuss is research.  If you haven’t exhausted your research lines then you haven’t done enough.  Also, and take the following with a grain of salt, but write what you wish to write.  The second that you worry what your family and friends will think of your creation, the story is dead. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Book Feature: Of the Abyss by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


Inside the Book:

Title: Of the Abyss
Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Horror
Format: Ebook

  After decades of strife, peace has finally been achieved in Kavet—but at a dark cost.  Sorcery is outlawed, and anyone convicted of consorting with the beings of the other realms—the Abyssi and the Numini—is put to death. The only people who can even discuss such topics legally are the scholars of the Order of the Napthol, who give counsel when questions regarding the supernatural planes arise.Hansa Viridian, a captain in the elite guard unit tasked with protecting Kavet from sorcery, has always led a respectable life. But when he is implicated in a sorcerer’s crimes, the only way to avoid execution is to turn to the Abyss for help—specifically, to a half-Abyssi man he’s sworn he hates, but whose physical attraction he cannot deny.Hansa is only the first victim in a plot that eventually drags him, a sorcerer named Xaz, and a Sister of the Napthol named Cadmia into the depths of the Abyss, where their only hope of escape is to complete an infernal task that might cost them their lives.


Meet the Author:

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is the author of seventeen young adult novels and three short stories.  In addition to writing, she has a full-time job teaching high school special education English, and is the mother of a brilliant baby girl named Becks. 

Yes, it is possible her daughter's nickname came from a favorite zombie trilogy (Newsflesh, by Mira Grant).  That there probably tells you more about Amelia than anything else I have to say. 

Amelia started publishing novels when she was a freshman in high school.  As she tells her students, she knows every excuse to get out of doing homework because she got away with them all.  These days she works a bit harder to balance her responsibilities, which means she is sometimes a terrible web-mistress, but she still loves to write. 

The Atwater-Rhodes household also includes two cats, Chivas and Morgan, and some goldfish in an aquaponics system set up for book research and maintained for yummy indoor home-grown food. 

If you want to chat with Amelia, you can reach her through Facebook or Twitter.  She maintains her social media and website herself, which means she's currently writing in third person and isn't that kind of odd? What can I say - I'm an odd duck.

Website | Twitter  


Tour Schedule

Monday, October 3 - Book featured at A Title Wave
Tuesday, October 4 - Book featured at Write and Take Flight
Wednesday, October 5 - Book featured at Literal Exposure
Thursday, October 6 -  Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Friday, October 7 - Book featured at The Literary Nook
Monday, October 10 - Book featured at Don't Judge, Read
Tuesday, October 11 - Book featured at CBY Book Club
Wednesday, October 12 - Book featured at Bound 2 Escape
Thursday, October 13 - Book featured at Perfect at Midnight
Friday, October 14 - Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Monday, October 17 - Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Tuesday, October 18 - Book featured at I'm Shelf-ish
Wednesday, October 19 - Book featured at The Review From Here
Thursday, October 20 - Book featured at From Paperback to Leatherbound
Friday, October 21 - Book featured at Voodoo Princess
Monday, October 24 - Book featured at The Hype and the Hoopla
Tuesday, October 25 - Book featured at As the Page Turns
Wednesday, October 26 - Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords
Thursday, October 27 - Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
Friday, October 28 - Book featured at My Bookish Pleasures

Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Feature: Can This Be Home? And Four Other Stories by Bobbe Palmer



Inside the Book:

Can This Be Home
Title: Can This Be Home? And Four Other Stories 
Author: Bobbe Palmer 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Genre: Fiction 
Format: Ebook

Annie has just suffered an unimaginable loss. While she spirals into the darkness of grief, her rancher husband, Ray, appears to lack emotion. But as a storm approaches their Wyoming ranch, Annie finally sees something in Ray's blue eyes that transforms everything.

In a compelling collection of stories, Bobbe Palmer shines a light on five women of different ages and circumstances as each faces unique challenges. After little Ally witnesses a fight between her father and another farmer over water, she soon discovers what happens when a man thinks he can do everything for himself. Janie was once happy with Brad. But that was before he let the drink overtake his life. Now all she worries about is which one of them it will kill first. Odd Ida does not like boys. But when one appears at her door, she invites him into her home-and unwittingly, into her life, where she learns loneliness can be cured. Sandy knows something is visiting her farmhouse at night. Now all she has to do is determine its identity and what it wants.

Can This Be Home? is a compilation of tales that offer powerful descriptions, tormented characters, and heartbreak as five women bravely confront their trials.

Meet the Author:
Bobbe Palmer attended Grinnell College in Iowa and the University of Denver. After teaching school one year in Kansas, she married a Presbyterian minister. She assisted him as he served churches in Wyoming, and then in mission work in Alaska. Now a widow, Bobbe lives in Estes Park, Colorado.

5 Things You Might Not Know About Hillary Clinton by Brittany L. Stalsburg

5 Things You Might Not Know About Hillary Clinton
By Brittany L. Stalsburg
When my co-author and I set out to write a book about Hillary Clinton, we thought we knew pretty much everything there was to know about her already. After all, Hillary has occupied the political spotlight for decades, and she is arguably one of the most well-known public figures in the U.S. We wrote the book in order to re-introduce Hillary to the American public, but what we learned even surprised us. Here are 5 things you might not know about Hillary
·        She’s a Midwesterner
Unbeknownst to many, Hillary was born and raised in the Midwest—in suburban Illinois, with her parents and two brothers. Both her parents came from humble roots, especially her mother who was abandoned as a child and started working at the age of 14 to support herself. Hillary’s father, the son of a factory laborer, fought for our country in World War II and then returned to civilian life and became a small business owner. It was through her family and Midwestern community that Hillary developed the smart pragmatism that has led to her success as a political leader—she is a progressive who gets things done, and at a time when Washington seems paralyzed by never-ending gridlock, Hillary’s Midwestern no-nonsense approach to solving problems is exactly what America needs.

·        She Turned Bill Down (At First)
In the early 1970’s, Bill proposed marriage to Hillary twice before she finally accepted. As Hillary describes her ambivalence: "I was desperately in love with him but utterly confused about my life and future…so I said 'No not now' -- what I meant was 'Give me time.'" Before entering a marriage, Hillary wanted to be sure she was clear and confident about her own future, including her career goals. Her display of independence and desire to build her own future first was trailblazing for a woman in the 1970’s—when marriage and children were still thought of as a woman’s ultimate goal.

But more than serving as an example for other working women, Hillary’s decision to delay marriage also reflects her strong sense of self and unwavering commitment to making smart choices, even when they’re tough to make.

·        She Credits Her Mother For Her Perseverance
Hillary is a fighter, and it's in her blood. Dorothy Rodham, Hillary’s mother, came from a broken home and was abandoned by her parents at a young age. She briefly lived with her grandparents until she left to live on her own at the mere age of 14, working as a housekeeper for $3 a week. Despite her difficult childhood, Dorothy overcame great odds and thrived. Her remarkable resilience, coupled with her determination to keep fighting and never give up, had a profound effect on Hillary. Indeed, Hillary herself says of her mother, “No one had a bigger influence on my life or did more to shape the person I became.”

·        She’s a Strong Advocate for Children
Right after law school, when most of Hillary’s peers were taking jobs at top-paying law firms, Hillary joined the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy group that fights for the rights and interests of children. One of her first projects with the CDF was going door-to-door to collect information and compile data on children who either dropped out of school or were falling behind due to physical, mental, or learning disabilities.  She used this data to craft a landmark report by the CDF that helped raise awareness of the plight of handicapped children and eventually led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

·        She Can Work With Republicans
Hillary’s record demonstrates her strong commitment to bipartisan solutions. In the Senate, she teamed up with Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), notorious for his denial of climate change, on utilizing geothermal energy to power federal buildings as a way of reducing costs and improving energy efficiency.  Together they ensured the provision would be included in a comprehensive energy bill.

On behalf of veterans, Hillary joined Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), one of the staunchest conservatives in Congress, in introducing a bill guaranteeing full payment of bonuses to wounded veterans.  The bill passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

In both examples, Hillary reached across the aisle in the name of a greater good—cleaner energy and support for our veterans. She did the same thing as Secretary of State, working with Republicans to guarantee the health and security of the United States. Republicans have praised her performance, and even some of her biggest rivals admit her effectiveness, including Jeb Bush, who said of Hillary: “Hillary and I come from different political parties and we disagree about lots of things. But we do agree on the wisdom of the American people.”
Find out more facts about Hillary in our book, 52 Reasons To Vote For Hillary.

About the Authors

 Brittany Stalsburg is a communications strategist and creator of the feminist blog, Women Want To Be On Top. She writes about politics and gender issues regularly. As a strategist, Brittany has helped dozens of organizations develop and refine their message to communicate with a variety of audiences.

Her work has been published in several academic journals and books and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pollie Awards for issue campaigns and the New York American Association of Public Opinion Research (NYAAPOR) Best Paper Award.

Brittany holds a PhD in political science from Rutgers University and a BA in political science and women’s studies from Providence College.

Bernard Whitman is a Democratic Party political pollster and strategist in the United States. He makes regular appearances on Fox News, and has appeared as a commentator and strategist on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox Business, ABC and Al Jazeera America.

He is the author of 52 Reasons To Vote For Obama and has been a pollster to political candidates such as Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg. Bernard has been involved in the past eight U.S. presidential campaigns and has served as strategic advisor to numerous heads of state, Fortune 500 CEOs, and some of the world’s leading issue advocacy organizations and nonprofit institutions.

Whitman is the President and founder of Whitman Insight Strategies, a strategic consulting firm that conducts polls and market research to advise corporations, political leaders, and issue-advocacy organizations. He is a three-time recipient of the David Ogilvy Excellence in Research Award, and pioneered the development of The Political Model to identify the “swing” consumer, and the messages and media channels that can unlock additional votes for a brand or cause.
He is an alumnus of Brown University, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa

Visit the authors online:


About the Book:

Reasons to Vote for Hillary is a comprehensive guide and re-introduction to Hillary Clinton’s career and life history to help voters understand why she is the best candidate to lead America forward into the 21st century.
Pick up your copy:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Feature: GHOST HAMPTON by Ken McGorry

We're excited to be part of Ken McGorry's GHOST HAMPTON blog tour this month!  Please leave a comment to let him know you stopped by!

Author: Ken McGorry
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 450
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Lyle Hall is a new man since his car accident and spinal injury. The notoriously insensitive Bridgehampton lawyer is now afflicted with an odd sensitivity to other people's pain. Especially that of a mysterious young girl he encounters outside a long-abandoned Victorian house late one October night. “Jewel” looks about 12. But Lyle knows she’s been dead a hundred years. Jewel wants his help, but it’s unclear how. As if in return, she shows him an appalling vision—his own daughter's tombstone. If it’s to be believed, Georgie’s last day is four days away. Despite Lyle’s strained relations with his police detective daughter, he’s shocked out of complacent convalescence and back into action in the real world.

But the world now seems surreal to the formerly Scrooge-like real estate lawyer. Lyle’s motion in court enjoining the Town of Southampton from demolishing the old house goes viral because he leaked that it might be haunted. This unleashes a horde of ghost-loving demonstrators and triggers a national media frenzy. Through it all strides Lyle’s new nemesis in high heels: a beautiful, scheming TV reporter known as Silk.

Georgie Hall’s own troubles mount as a campaign of stationhouse pranks takes a disturbing sexual turn. Her very first case is underway and her main suspect is a wannabe drug lord. Meanwhile, Lyle must choose: Repair his relationship with Georgie or succumb to the devious Silk and her exclusive media contract. He tells himself seeing Georgie’s epitaph was just a hallucination. But a few miles away the would-be drug lord is loading his assault rifle. Berto needs to prove himself.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

He heard her here. She was one of the whisperers. It seemed weirdly flattering at first.
           Ensconced in the MediCab that exhausted evening of the detour, Lyle had the windows down, allowing in fresh air and the angling rays of the setting sun. Commuter traffic from the train station had been annoyingly redirected onto Poplar Street. Fred crept forward, foot on the brake, with eight more cars ahead of them. Wrung out after his wrongheaded foray to Southampton, Lyle’s arms and shoulders ached; muscles, joints, his hands too. And he felt the onset of what Dr. Susan Wayne called “free-floating anxiety.” In Lyle’s case, a blob of uneasiness that could intensify into inchoate dread.
He was slumped in his Mr. Potter when the imposing shambles of a house came into view on his right. Everybody called it Old Vic. Sporting dumb old “No Trespassing” signs as long as anyone could remember, it was commonly held that Old Vic was once a brothel. Long ago, when Bridgehampton was part of the East End’s whaling industry, before it grew into a high-end summer getaway, real-estate bonanza and snob haven.
            Then there’s the suburban legend that Old Vic was haunted. Who says? No one and everyone, whether they believe it or not.
            The MediCab was crawling by Old Vic when Lyle first heard the whispers. He rose on his elbows, his chair secured to the van’s floor, and listened. Cats in heat. No, wait. This was more subtle, conversational. A furtive murmur that piqued his curiosity. He needed to listen again.
            “Hey Fred, make a right at the corner, please?”
            “Course correction, Mr. Hall?”
            “I want to circle back for another look at the old house. And Fred, call me Lyle, okay? Lyle is fine.” It had been six months with the same driver.
            Fred made the turn. Any such whim of Lyle Hall’s, he knew, was good for a crisp off-the-books twenty. It was even worth a twenty to stop at the ATM—Lyle would entrust Fred with his debit card and pass code to avoid the hassle. He also let Fred smoke.
            Fred drove around the block clockwise. From each side street Lyle got a view of Old Vic’s battered cupola poking above the trees and roof lines of summer homes. It was unsettling—the cupola, a little booth standing atop the third story, was Old Vic’s most exposed and weather-beaten feature. Any paint was scabby and vestigial. The cupola’s large oval oculus suggested a blinded Cyclops, its leaded glass shattered by determined boys with BB guns long before Lyle was born.
            They turned onto Poplar again, and approached the house.
            “Slow down, please, Fred? Actually, could you park?”
            Fred did so. Odd request, but Mr. Hall is, or was, a real estate tycoon.
            “And roll down the windows, please? And mind turning off the radio? ...Thanks. Cut the engine too, please, Fred? ...Thank you.”
            If Mr. Hall wants to smell Old Vic, Fred figured, this could be worth more than one folded twenty. He glanced at Lyle through his mirror, lit a butt, and texted his wife.
            To the west, clouds glowing orange and pink were eclipsed by the hulking old house. It grew darker. The last of the traffic was now gone. Lyle strained to hear. He tried to listen harder, if that’s possible.
            Quiet. Listen.


About the Author

Ken McGorry has been writing since third grade. (He learned in first grade, but waited two years.) He started a school newspaper with friends in seventh grade, but he’s better known for his 23 years as an editor of Post Magazine, a monthly covering television and film production. This century, he took up novel-writing and Ghost Hampton and Smashed are examples. More are in the works, like the promised Ghost Hampton sequel, but he’s kinda slow.

Ken lives on Long Island with his wife and they have two strapping sons. There are dogs. Ken is also a chef (grilled cheese, and only for his sons) and he enjoys boating (if it’s someone else’s boat). He has a band, The Achievements, that plays his songs (try Back at Manhattan College (English major!), he was a founding member of the venerable Meade Bros. Band. Ken really was an employee of Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons one college summer, and really did mow Dan’s lawn.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Writing Life with John DeDakis

What’s inside the mind of a mystery-suspense-thriller author?

A jumble of things, but you’d be surprised that the next novel isn’t one of them. That’s probably because job #1 right now is getting the word out about the current novel, plus I’m looking ahead to making my novel into an audio book, a TV series, and going on tour.

What is so great about being an author?

Being a published author is its own reward.  It means a lot to me that my agent, Barbara Casey, fell in love with my writing more than ten years ago, found homes for my four novels, and encourages me when she says that each successive book is better than the previous one. 

As a writer, it’s extremely easy to talk yourself into thinking you’re not good enough.  But when a stranger who’s a writing professional has confidence in you, and it’s reaffirmed by people you don’t know who like what you’ve written – then that’s a confidence builder.

The other great thing about being a published author is all the interesting people I’ve met around the country and overseas. I love introducing people to my work and getting them acquainted with their inner muse.  Being an author has opened doors for me that I never knew existed:  People pay me to edit their book-length manuscripts; I lead writing workshops; I have the honor and privilege of being a writing coach who encourages aspiring writers.  Becoming an author made all those things possible.  

Because I set out long ago to perfect my writing and get published, by the time I retired from CNN after 25 years, I was able to step right into a second career doing what I love to do.  Don’t get me wrong:  I enjoyed being a journalist. But now I do what I want rather than having my life dictated by the news of the day.  Now every day is Saturday.

When do you hate it?

Hate is too strong a word for the parts of being an author that are unsavory.  I find that it’s drudgery crunching email addresses that I collect from book talks and book signings.  Keeping track of receipts for tax purposes is a pain. And I certainly don’t like it when I’m stuck in the middle of a chapter and can’t write my way out of it.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

I worked overnights at CNN for many years, an experience that bludgeoned my sleep-deprived body into submission.  Consequently, I usually only need five or six hours of sleep at a time. 

I wake up without an alarm around five or six in the morning.  The first thing I do is write in my journal.  I’ll dip into social media, Facebook, and email while having breakfast (usually just a bowl of cereal), then I segue into whatever writing project I have going on at the time. 

My writing is best when I’m fresh in the morning.  I’ve found that if I do any “creative” writing late at night, I don’t sleep very well. 

Lunch is light— a sandwich— then I pivot to a manuscript I’ve been hired to edit.  In the evening, my wife Cindy and I will probably make dinner together and then binge watch a series on TV.  Lately, however, I try to step back from television to do some reading for pleasure before bed. 

I’m pursuing a hobby as a jazz drummer, so I look for time in the day to take breaks by either sitting in at the drum kit I have in the basement or practicing rudiments.

Do you think authors have big egos?  Do you?

I’ve met some authors who have big egos, but most of the writers I know are confident in their abilities, yet they’re generous in their willingness to encourage up-and-comers.  

I have a healthy sense of who I am.  There are some things I do well and other things that, um, need work.  I’m confident, but I pray I’m not arrogant.

How do you handle negative reviews?

I try to learn from them.  Most of the negative reviews I’ve gotten (there haven’t been many) have, thankfully, not been snarky or hurtful.  Also, I’m enough of a realist to know that I won’t be able to please everyone.  Furthermore, I know there are scads of writers who are way better than I am.  All I can do is my best, even as I strive to make my best even better.

How do you handle positive reviews?

I try not to let positive reviews go to my head.  When possible, I thank the reviewer.  More than anything I find good reviews to be encouraging, affirming, and an incentive to keep writing and not quit.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

Usually people are excited and impressed when they learn I’m an author. I think that’s partly because they may never have met a writer before. 

I’m uncomfortable doing all the talking so, as soon as possible, I try to turn the spotlight back onto the other person.  “Do you write?” I often ask. 

Usually people tell me about the book inside them that they’ve been thinking about writing, but often they tell me they don’t know how to write a book because the task seems too daunting.  “I don’t have the discipline,” many people tell me. 

I like suggesting ways to demystify the writing process and help them unlock the straightjacket that might be inhibiting the writer in them.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

If I’m not feeling it, then I don’t write.  Simple as that.  I feel sorry for some of my friends who are under contract to crank out a book every nine months.  For me, that would be like writing with a gun at your head.  It’s extremely easy for me to walk away from it when The Muse is on strike. 

One thing I’ve learned, however, is that even when I’m doing something else and not sitting rigidly at the keyboard, I might still be thinking about the story. And that, I’ve come to learn, is an essential part of the writing process. Ruminating is writing, too.  Sometimes we need to give our subconscious a chance to process things without our conscious selves getting in the way.  

Any writing quirks?

Probably the biggest “quirk” is that I’m in my sixties, but I write in the voice of a woman in her twenties.  I believe the key reason I’m able to do that is that throughout my 45 years in journalism, I worked closely with many young women. They told me about their lives – their careers, families, boyfriends – and I listened.  Also, my wife Cindy and daughter Emily, 35, are not only quite talkative, but substantive, as well. 

Many of the women in my life are my beta readers.  They read early drafts and let me know what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not. 

Probably the coolest book review I got was for my third novel, Troubled Water.  Book reviewer Vicki Liston wrote, “DeDakis is not only able to write convincingly as a woman, but he writes in such a way that makes the reader completely forget he’s a man. I’m usually mildly irritated when a man presumes to understand the way a woman thinks but in DeDakis’ case, he actually gets it and he conveys that brilliantly in his writing style.” 

Nice.  And thank you, Vicki.

In short, it’s the women in my life who make me think younger, write better, and live more fully.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

It wouldn’t matter.  In fact, I’m sure that’s already the case.  My job isn’t to please them, live up to their expectations, or get them to view me the way I want to be seen.  It’s my life and I’m enjoying living it the way I’ve chosen.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

Sure, but I think a love-hate relationship to writing might especially be the case for people who have to write to survive financially. Under those circumstances, writing can be more of a chore than a joy.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

Absolutely not.  Money’s nice.  We all need it.  But I think that deeper down what we need even more than money is the satisfaction that comes from doing what we love— and doing it well. Then writing becomes its own reward. When you’re there, that’s success.

What has writing taught you?

Writing has taught me to think clearly and to communicate effectively and efficiently.  I’ve been journaling for more than fifty years (yes: I’m old!).  Putting pen to paper forces the mind to slow down so that each thought and insight can be captured, chronicled, and analyzed more objectively. 

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Don’t give up.


Title:  Bullet in the Chamber
Genre:  Mystery-Suspense-Thriller
Author:  John DeDakis (pronounced: deh-DAY-kiss)
Publisher:  Strategic Media Books

About the Book:

Gutsy White House correspondent Lark Chadwick is in the right place at the wrong time – front-row center when the executive mansion is attacked, the president is missing, the first lady’s life is in danger, and the man Lark loves disappears.  It’s Lark’s job to sort it all out in this dead-line-a-minute thriller about drugs, drones, and journalism.

The story is based, in part, on the fatal heroin overdose of the author’s 22-year-old son Stephen.