Tuesday, January 31, 2012

5 Reasons to Leave a Lover - A Novella and Other Short Stories

In 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover, author Carolyn Moncel offers up a fresh batch of stories based on love and loss.  As singer/songwriter, Paul Simon so eloquently suggested in a famous song from the 1970s, there are many ways to leave a lover.  However, Moncel's characters demonstrate that the reasons for leaving in the first place are quite finite.  Encounters in Paris' Ellery and Julien Roulet return, picking up their lives after the short story, "Pandora's Box Revisited."  This time the Roulets are involved in a love triangle, and along with two other couples, must explore how love relationships are affected and splinter due to abuse, ambivalence, deception, cheating and death. This bittersweet collection of tales proves that some breakups are necessary; while others are voluntary; and still others are simply destined and beyond anyone's control

The stories in this collection I found to be very enjoyable. The stories are heart wrenching and are very well developed to the point where I felt I was reading about real people, not just fictional characters. The problems that these couples face are true to life and the way the feelings that they portray are written made be feel so strongly for them. At one point I found myself getting so mad at one of the husband's that I actually had to stop reading for a moment and remind myself that this was a piece of fiction! That is effective writing at its finest.

A must read for fans of womens fiction!

And here is Carolyn herself talking to us on the last day of Self-Publishing month ...

Tell us about yourself.
I’ll start by saving I’m exhausted!  First and foremost I’m a wife and mother to two daughters.  During the day, I run two companies with offices in Chicago, Paris and Geneva: MotionTemps, LLC, a bilingual Digital Project and Web Content Management firm, and its subsidiary, MondavĂ© Communications, a media relations training and now, publishing company.  At night, I get to create a totally different world through my writing.  We are also a family of expatriates! We’ve been living overseas for the last nine years.  For the five years I got to be “An American in Paris.”  Since 2007 we’ve been living in Lausanne, Switzerland and it’s a terrific place – not only for raising a family but also for writing.  I don’t know how much longer we will stay in Europe before returning to the United States but I hope we will stay long enough for me to write at least two more books.

Tell us about your writing experience.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known that I wanted to write fiction. I can’t help it because I come from a family of storytellers!  Even before I could write I would stage elaborate soap opera story lines for my Barbie dolls!  I used to write a lot as a teenager and then one day, I just stopped. Even after that, my need to tell stories continued with a degree in Communications. Working in public relations for 20 years now, I find myself telling non-fiction stories all the time.  I cannot hold a meeting with my clients without including some story with a lesson to be learned.  Even now when my youngest daughter and I play with her Barbie dolls, creating fun and interesting scenarios remains the best part for me.  She’s such a ham and always follows right along!

As far as my individual writing style is concerned, I would say that I’m a realist to be sure.  I enjoy examining complex relationships. I like creating empathetic characters, people for which readers easily can identify with their circumstances.  Being in Europe has definitely had an influence on my style of writing in that I don’t necessarily believe stories have to end happily. Nor do I believe stories must always have a definitive conclusion. To me, life can be messy, extremely complicated, and the answers to our problems don’t always present themselves in neat little packages. Sometimes there is never a satisfactory answer to life’s trickier questions.

For these first two books of shorter workers, Encounters in Paris and 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover, I wanted to explore experiences through the eyes of expatriates because living overseas so far away from family and friends can be quite tough.  Specifically, I wanted to show that life in Paris, in particular, is often times no different than living someplace else. The same problems and worries still find you – but perhaps in a prettier place.

What lead to you coming up with the idea of this book?
Well, the title of the book was inspired by the Paul Simon song, ’50 Ways to Leave a Lover’. One day while walking down the street in Lausanne, I heard the song blasting from someone’s care radio. I thought, ‘That song only gets it half right: there are many ways to leave a lover but the reasons for leaving in the first place are pretty finite.’ A person leaves (voluntary or involuntary) because circumstances make it impossible to stay and that decision is subjective.  However, knowing when to stay and weather out a stormy relationship is just as hard.  All five of these reasons are represented in the book; three are found in the novella and one in each short story. But, if the reader examines the work even closer, they will find all five reasons are present in every story to some degree.  It all depends on how the reader defines the term, “leaving.”  

What led to your decision to self-publish?
Fear of rejection!  Actually, I was my own biggest obstacle because in the beginning I worried too much about what others (editors and agents) thought, instead of concentrating on writing stories that I would enjoy reading personally.  I purposely decided to self publish because I wanted to have more control over my work, both content and marketing. I had watched other friends and colleagues self publish with relative success. Each year it becomes easier and more affordable to do so I figured if I could create a high-quality work, it was worth a try.

What obstacles did you come across in the process? 
Breaking into the publishing world is tough. I am still learning so much about that world, and well, self publishing is its own animal. At first, I was a really overwhelmed by the entire project. Then one day, I decided to calm down and do one thing at a time. As I worked through the project, I realized that everything that I’ve needed done with this project, I have already done at some point in my career. I have prepared layouts for client manuscripts; I have edited books and other documents; I have written and assembled media kits; I have built and coded websites and last I have pitched stories to the media. I figured if I could do these things for my clients, then I could do it for myself. That has been a huge comfort as I continue to progress and learn. I pay close attention to the lessons learned from the previous books so that I can do a better job with the next work.

Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future? 
Definitely, I will self-publish more books in the future because not only do I enjoy the creative control but I really enjoy the entire publishing and marketing process.  I am working on three projects now. The first is a collection of short stories that are set on a high-speed TGV train travelling from Paris to Geneva, Switzerland, a four-hour trip. When people travel, people often reveal very intimate details of their lives. Maybe they do this because they never expect to see the other person again. I want to explore how revealing these secrets transform the characters. The second project is a novel called Geneva Nights.  It will be the last time (for a while) that Ellery ad Julien Roulet appear in any collections, and some new characters will emerge, including a sexy Franco-American named Kai!  However, the project that I’m most excited about right now is a Young Adult novel that I am writing with my teenage daughter under the pen name Ella Swinton. The book will be called Nearly Lost You and all that I can say about the main character, Isobel Ballou, is that she is 15 years old and delightfully snarky, feisty and extremely opinionated.  She has but one goal and that is to make sure that her parents get divorced as planned until fate steps in with other ideas.

Check out Carolyn's website to find out how to get your own copy http://www.carolynmoncel.com/#!buy

Nate Rocks The World by Karen Toz

Ten-year-old Nathan Rockledge cannot catch a break. After all, life as a fourth-grader can be hazardous what with science projects to deal with and recess football games to avoid. Everyone, including his best friend Tommy, seems to have bad luck when hanging around Nathan. Throw in an older sister who is a royal pain, a dad who is stuck in the past, and a mom who keeps trying to poison him with her awful cooking, and poor Nathan’s life as a fourth grader appears to be completely doomed. Armed only with his sketchpad, his imagination, and his wits, Nathan Rockledge navigates the perils of the fourth grade in style, to emerge heroic, as Nate Rocks, proving that even a ten-year-old can accomplish great things. Follow the quirky and imaginative adventures of ten-year-old Nathan Rockledge as his cartoons come to life.

This is a fun story that was written for kids between 9 and 12, once again another great book find for reluctant readers. Nate is such a fun character who is so full of life. I love his imagination and even though I have not been a kid for at least a couple of decades, this book took me back to the trials and tribulations of being a kid! Great for kids, even those who may be a bit younger and need to be read too! Any book that keeps the parent enjoying a book together with their child is a great and rare find!

Guest Post by Larissa Hinton - Decision Time: Why I Choose Self-Publishing After Years of Denial

Why did I choose to self-publish? When did I rebel against the traditional publishing industry and cried, "No more!"?

Well, this may surprise you, but it only happened because I went to a Creative Writing Class in college to avoid taking a class that I might have failed.
I guess I should back up, huh? In the most basic terms, my senior year in college as an English Education, I would be required to take Senior Thesis.

Now, Senior Thesis is when a student has to read 22 literary novels during the summer, come back to school for a whole year to develop and, eventually, present a 25 page analysis essay then get critiqued by the English professors about your paper.
And yes, it's as horrid as it sounds.

Therefore, you can't blame a girl for trying to avoid it like a disease. And it probably didn't help that the teacher was new to this whole process, didn't take a liking to me and almost flunked me the last time I was in her class.
Obviously, I was rushing around seeking an alternative to this academic torture chamber and an alternative did show up: Creative Writing Senior Thesis.

Not only did I have to write a puny 100 pages (I write that in my sleep!) of creative writing genius, but I only had to read 5 books.

Or so I thought. Not only did I have to deal with a professor who was picky, I had to write a literary creative fiction novel had to be a coming of age story.
So no YA mystery novel for that class.

However, through the trials, I learned quite a bit. One of the most important lessons was about self-publishing.
I know what you're thinking, "So once you heard your professor profess the truth about how self-publishing was spectacular, you jumped in and loved every minutes of it!"

Not exactly.
I was a traditional publishing girl all the way. I stood by it and tall and firm, "I WILL be published traditionally and it WILL happen or I will die trying!"

Well, every semester, my professor would talk about the benefits of self-publishing and I would practically cough out the rebuttal and the benefits of traditionally publishing.

He would give us examples of why he chose to self-pub even though he has an agent and gave us the royalty that authors of self publishing would get versus traditional publishing.
I didn't care. If I was in it for the money, then I wouldn't be writing in the first place.

He showed us his self-pub copy which further validated the reasons as to why I didn't want to self-publish.
The cover was ugly. The layout was terrible. The price was probably too high for a cheaply made book.

Then, in one of his many lectures of self publishing, he brought up how Amanda Hocking journeyed from self publishing to traditional publishing.
I was half listening.

Then he told us how an author (I can't remember the name) who turned down a traditional publishing contract and decided to self-publish.
I was fully listening.

Then he mentioned JA Konrath's blog.

I was hooked.

I checked out his blog and I was instantly started double guessing about traditional publishing. He debunked everything I held near and dear about traditional publishing and it made perfect sense.
But I still wanted to give it a go. I got as far as the Preditors and Editors Agent pages, and everything that JA Konrath said swam before me and I just knew, in that instant, that I wanted to self publish.

It made sense. And I really had nothing else to lose. Besides, I figured it would be a great way to get some exposure for my books and stop begging and pleading for a chance.
I can take it into my own hands. And I have to say it feels damn good.

Despite the ups and downs and twists and turns of self-publishing, I love it. It's almost like this inner business woman was in me the whole time, then when I started to self publish, she came out with the crazy high heels and no nonsense approach. I loved discovering a part of myself that I would have never found if I traditionally published my books. I love shopping for book covers for future books (don't even get me started on that one). I love collaborating with editors to make my books the best that they can be. I love writing with an audience in mind, who are screaming, yelling, cheering for more. I love how determined and stronger I have become as a writer. I love the fact that I feel like a real author who can stand up proud and say that I'm published. I'm just not traditionally published.
And that's okay!

I love it and nobody can take this love away from me.

Larrissa Hinton's current book Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology is available at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/80600
An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary. Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts. It changes. Prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed, you'll go through them all with a whole new perspective.

The stories are very deep and personal and sometimes quite dark. If you enjoy literary fiction I suggest you give this collection a try!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Cameo Caper by S.E. Shurtleff

Cover for 'The Cameo Caper'

Jessi Johnstone is desperately trying to break her compulsive snooping habit. All she wants is to reunite her parents and get back to normal life. But when her nonstop curiosity leads to the discovery of an antique cameo, operation-parent-reunification gets put on hold. Instead, she must uncover the truth; about a mean teacher’s desire for the necklace, a timeworn legend, and her own family’s secretive history. Can she solve the mystery and still have time to bring her parents back together before it’s too late? One thing’s for sure. It’s going to take some snooping.               

Great book because of a great character! Jessi is smart and curious and very likable. The writing is very inviting from the first page and between that and wanting to know what Jessi says next will have you enjoying every moment of this story. The mystery that unfolds is sure to keep both the young and older interested from start to finish! A great choice for all tweens!

Two Moons of Sera by Pavarti Tyler

Two Moons of Sera Synopsis: In a world where water and earth teem with life, Serafay is an anomaly. The result of genetic experiments on her mother's water-borne line Serafay will have to face the very people responsible to discover who she really is. But is she the only one?

All the Fun of YA written for Adults

This is a very well-written fantasy story that is being written in a serial format. Volume 1 and 2 are currently available and more is on its way. The world that this story is set in is well thought out and described, you can tell the author has taken time to plan her world out! The journey of Serafay to find out who she really is is gripping, it makes the reader want to keep going.  I enjoyed these first two parts and I recommend it to all fantasy readers.

For more info on how to get a copy go to http://www.fightingmonkeypress.com/

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Author Spotlight: Susan Helene Gottfried

Today I am happy to welcome Susan Helene Gottfried to Mommy's Reading Too!  Susan is the creator of the fictional world of ShapeShifter, the rock band headed by Trevor Wolff and Mitchell Voss. You can follow the group in the novel, Trevor's Song and in 3 shorter volumes made up of short stories about the band's early years: The Demo Tapes Year 1, The Demo Tapes Year 2, and The Demo Tapes Year 3.  Check out the website http://westofmars.com for more info about the characters, rock fiction, and how to get copies of your own!

I had the chance to read Trevor's Song, Demo Tapes Year 1, and Demo Tapes Year 2; I loved these books. The characters may not always be seen in the best light but as you learn where they are coming from and they grow as a person you can't help but have a soft spot for them! The reading is quick and snappy and moves well which kept me interested at all times. I really like the Demo Tapes format as they were quick little snippets that gave me a glance at where ShapeShifter came from. This is one series I am going to keep an eye on!

I recommend this to all fiction lovers who want a great story and think that it would be great to get an insiders look at the music industry or the making of a band.

Tell us about yourself.

I'm Susan Helene Gottfried, or Susan at West of Mars as I'm commonly
known. I'm no one special, not really. It's what I DO that's so awesome. I
write Rock Fiction, and am one of the genre's biggest champions. I might
have even been the one who gave the genre its name, but that's probably up
for debate among other Rock Fiction fans.

At any rate, I have four books out in the Trevolution series, with two
more set to come out in 2012. Three of the four currently in print are
short stories -- some as short as 100 words -- for when you only have a
minute or two in your busy life to read.

Tell us about your writing experience.

I've been telling stories ever since I could talk. Between then and now,
I've earned a BA in English Writing from Pitt and my MFA in creative
writing from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. I might have more
books stowed under my bed than most writers these days, but at some point,
I'll go pull all that old stuff out, revise it so it's shiny, and put it
up for sale.

What lead to you coming up with these books?

I was pregnant and had just broken up with my literary agent. This was
back before Self-publishing was something other than paying to have 5,000
copies of your book taking up space in your garage.

I was watching Metallica on VH1 and the idea for Mitchell and Kerri hit
me. The heartbeat of the Trevolution, Trevor Wolff, came along later.
Maybe about ten minutes later. Trevor's hard to deny when he wants to be

Part of the reason I was inspired by Metallica is that I'd spent years in
the music business during high school and college. I was this close to
taking a job at a record label -- I had offers from three -- but walked
away in order to write books. That decision sealed my fate, by and large:

I am a Rock Fiction author.

What led to your decision to self-publish?

I was actually encouraged to follow this route, back in 2008, by literary
agents and editors. They could see that Trevor had created a following,
but they didn't think it was a big enough following to take a chance on.

At that time, self-publishing was just becoming a viable option for people
like me, who had a smallish project. There was no Kindle, no Nook. Not

What obstacles did you come across in the process?

Because The Demo Tapes (Year 1) came out so early into this
Self-Publishing Revolution we're now living, the biggest obstacle was that
the negative impressions many have about self-publishing were much, much
more widespread. The attitude was that if you "had" to self-publish, you
couldn't write.

Although that attitude has changed quite a bit, there are still people I
didn't discuss my career path with until six months ago. And THEY brought
the subject up. Imagine my surprise when best-selling authors admitted
they'd been following my career!

Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?

Yep, there will be two more books in the Trevolution. King Trevor is aimed
for an April 12, 2012 release. It'll be the follow-up to Trevor's Song.
And then I'm hoping to have Demo Tapes (Year 4) out the following October.

I have something new in the works, as well, new characters with more of a
romance in the plot. I may shop that to some agents I know and see what
they think of it. If they're not in love, I'll self-publish. It's a great
way to reach directly to a reader, and to open channels of communication
with readers. I love it. Love that the industry is giving us these

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cardsharp POW Blog Tour

Cardsharp is an exciting adventure book for children set in the art world. Escaping house fires and fighting daring robbers is just the beginning for art researcher, Vincent Ward, and these battles do little to prepare him for the exciting adventure that unfolds. An old journal discovered at an auction in Rome puts Vincent on the trail of an undiscovered painting by one of art history’s most notorious masters, Caravaggio. But paintings this rare and valuable are sought after by more than just collectors and galleries. Vincent soon finds himself on the run from a brutal and lawless policeman, a gang of international criminals, and fighting vicious pirates.

There are stings, tricks and conspiracies around every corner, and bullets flying from the shadows. Only The National Gallery, London is safe for Vincent and the painting. But is there a way back? Get ready to be thrown into the world of Vincent Ward, where getting through each day alive just isn’t enough.


Full of action, a ton of twists, and awesome characters! This is a great book for tweens looking for great entertainment! What better then the entertainment value of this book? It is that Cardshark is actually educational as well. You get a great look into the life and times of the well known artist Caravaggio. All the excitement in this book might even get tweens interested in learning more about Art History.

I recommend this book to all Middle School readers as there is both a strong male and female character! I think both young boys and girls can enjoy this story. And if they get into this first book, there are more Victor Ward books to come!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Color of Heaven by E.V. Mitchell

A deeply emotional tale about Sophie Duncan, a successful columnist whose world falls apart after her daughter’s unexpected illness and her husband’s shocking affair. When it seems nothing else could possibly go wrong, her car skids off an icy road and plunges into a frozen lake. There, in the cold dark depths of the water, a profound and extraordinary experience unlocks the surprising secrets from Sophie’s past, and teaches her what it means to truly live...and love.

This is the first contemporary fiction novel written by best-selling romance author Julianne MacLean. While her other books are traditionally published, E.V. Mitchell (pen name) has entered the world of indie publishing with this book!

This book was very well written and I enjoyed reading it, I do warn you though, for the majority of the first 100 pages you will use up an entire box of tissues! But keep on going the twists you learn about the main character and her family as the story goes on is worth it! I enjoyed the story's plot and the back and forth from present to past in the second half of the book. The story has a great depth to it and as you read you get to peel away the layers.

I recommend this to all fiction readers who enjoy stories from a woman's point of view.


Next Time Lucky by Siggy Buckley

So have you had a hand at online dating? Or thinking about it? Read this first..

Cherie, a professional matchmaker from Dublin, Ireland, faces the ultimate challenge when she tries to find a soul mate for herself. She surfs the risky waves of the Internet and flies around the world to adventures, disappointments and not a few surprises. Chat-rooms prove to be intoxicating, and Cherie feels like in a kid in a candystore. Among the Lotharios she encounters are recycled bachelors, breezy islands of ego, fly-by-nights, birds of paradise, commitment phobics, and the odd sex maniac. She learns the hard way that it's easy come, uneasy go at this smorgasboard of cyber-dreamboats.

Her story is an intriguing read, offering a revealing glimpse into the world of cyber romance for singles that are toying with the idea, for those who haven’t dared yet, or those who just want to compare notes. It also discloses practical advice for modern day’s mate selection through the eyes of a dating expert, both on the Internet and in the real world.

With insight and great humor, Siggy Buckley tells the sassy story of a modern woman's dilemma of being independent yet longing for coupledom.

This is a fun novel about the ins and outs of Online Dating by someone who knows a thing about it because the author runs her own dating agency! I really enjoyed the story and there is just something about the writing and the setting (Dublin) that made me think that I was in the middle of a book by Sheila O'Flanagan or Cathy Kelly! The story flows well and the main character is very likable, I route for her right from the start. The situations are very real and as I have seen friends go through the process the book shows you really do meet all kinds. I honestly can say I really loved this story and I look forward to reading more by Siggy Buckley.

I recommend this to all who enjoy Chick-Lit !


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yesterday's Lies by Terri D.


What Secrets Do You Keep From The One You Share Everything With? Secrets. Lies. Half-Truths. A poignant tale of a circle of close knit friends whose lives are more intertwined than they realize. That is until the blurred lines of Love, Lust and Friendship begins to reveal the half-truths and lies that exist. Will the secrets they all hold from the past ruin their friendship and lives forever?
This is a story of best friends who have the problems that many have - hidden secrets and jealousy, however; maybe theirs are a little bit worse than others! This can be a bad combination especially when men get involved! I did not expect this book to have so many plot twists and I liked that it did because it kept my attention right to the end. The characters were very real and very well developed which helped to complete the package of such a fun read!
If you are a regular reader of urban fiction you MUST read this book. If you read women's fiction you too should take some time to read this book.
Terri D. took some time out of her busy day to join in on the Self-Publishing month interview!

Tell us about yourself. 
I am a single mother of three. I live in Harrisburg, PA. I work as a Director of Applications Development for a national Health Care company.

Tell us about your writing experience. 
I have been keeping journals and writing poetry and short stories since I was a teenager. One summer night in 2010 I was reading a book and an idea for a story came to me and I sat down and starting writing. I stayed up all night and wrote approximately 50 pages that first night. I share what I wrote with a friends and they encouraged me to continue writing to finish the story. 

What led to your decision to self-publish?
I was mentored by another author who self published so I followed her path.

What obstacles did you come across in the process?
Since I have a full time demanding job I found it difficult to find the time to market and get myself out to the public.

Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?
Yes I have another book which is in progress which is a sequel to Yesterday Lies.

You can get you copy of Yesterday's Lies from http://www.amazon.com/Yesterdays-Lies-ebook/dp/B004HZXRX6 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Guest Post by Author T.H. Waters: The Power of One

Lately, I have been contemplating my own place in this vast universe.  Matters of great importance feel out of my control as the captains of the free world do their best to run our fragile vessel aground.  Then there are those pesky personal hurdles I’ve been forced to confront as well.  It becomes easy to feel unbalanced during times like these, as if we’re all nothing more than that small silver ball on the roulette wheel, spinning endlessly, never knowing where we’ll land next.

I was watching Piers Morgan on CNN the other night.  He was interviewing Beyonce, and she was telling him about her personal relationship with President and Mrs. Obama.  “Uggghhh,” I thought to myself.  “How can someone like Beyonce have the President’s ear?”  Is she beautiful?  Absolutely.  Is she an internationally known entertainer?  Yes.  Does she have a really cool name, recognizable sans a proper surname, joining the ranks of Madonna, Bono and Prince?  You bet.  But does that justify admission to the world’s club of power brokers?  Ummmm.  Dunno.  She sings.  Oh… and dances, too.  To me, it’s just one more reason why I feel like I’m sinking deeper into the rabbit hole.

The days pass, and I grow weary.  Whenever I feel like giving up, I come back to this notion of The Power of One.  It may mean different things to different people, but to me, it means this: I try to influence whatever is in my power (albeit I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum from Beyonce).  If there is a cause I’m passionate about, I donate as much time and money as I can afford.  If I know of a person in need, I help them in any way possible.  If someone during my daily meanderings is hurtful towards me, I tell myself that they’re having a bad day and try to shake it off rather than engage in destructive dialogue (most of the time).  I’m certainly no saint, far from it.  But I do understand the power of kindness and that it is contagious.  I also understand that it’s one of the few things within my control.  I ran into an old neighbor the other day who shared a wonderful story with me.  She said that her daughter missed me terribly now that I’ve moved away, especially during Halloween.  I used to hand out special treat bags filled with fun, little gifts like necklaces adorned with black bats and light-up pens nestled among wrapped chocolates to all the neighborhood kiddos.  That young lady who used to be my dear little neighbor is now in high school and has outgrown trick-or treating… guess who has taken to handing out special Halloween treat bags filled with goodies to all the adorable neighborhood kids?  Makes my heart sing. 

When I wrote my book, Ghellow Road, I really wasn’t expecting to learn anything new.  After all, the story is based on my own life.  What was there to learn?  I now humbly submit that I’ve discovered a great deal, not only about myself, but also about the members of my family, my father being high on that list.  As I now reflect from the published side of Ghellow Road, I can better understand what a tragic life my father led.  When I was 10 years old, he couldn’t endure that tragic life anymore and ended it with his own hand in the spring of 1975.  I’ve often wondered what those last few days were like for him.  How many people smiled at him?  How many inquired about his welfare or wished him a good day?  How many tried to help him believe that this earth and its inhabitants is a place worth sticking around?  These thoughts have haunted me for many years, and they play a key role in driving me to be as good a person as I can be; someone who gives the individual on the other side of my conversation some assurance that this world is worth enduring.  I have flaws, God knows I have so many.  I can be angry, selfish and stubborn, among other things.  And then there are those days when I’m simply not strong enough to be a positive influence on anyone.  But whenever I am able, wherever I am able, I work hard to let the good in me shine.  That is the least I can do to honor my father, and it’s my one small contribution to a world that continues to sink further down the rabbit hole.  Every single one of us has the power to make a difference.  Shine on, y’all.

Tera (T.H. Waters)

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Case of Black Rock and other stories By Simon Marshland

Product Details

A Case of Black Rock is a collection of short stories covering many aspects of life. Subjects range from romance to inspirational, crime to family and drama to science fiction.

I thoroughly enjoyed the stories in this short story collection. There is dry wit and suspense, thrills and chills, and best of all twists at the ends that I did not see coming. The writing is very effective in getting such large stories condensed into only a few pages and making them entertaining at the same time. I found myself comparing the writing style to Jeffrey Archer, one who is very well known today for not just his novels but also his short story collections. I hope Simon Marshland continues to publish his short stories as I will for sure become a regular reader of his work! I suggest anyone who enjoys short stories to check out this book. And if you don't normally, try this one for when you just have a few minutes here and there, you might just get hooked!

And here is an interview with Simon Marshland himself ......

Tell us about yourself.
Rolling stone with most of my life spent on the move, living and working in places diverse as East Africa to South America. More recent activities have been based around the Mediterranean ranging from yacht chartering in Greece to fish farming in France. But wherever I am and whatever I do writing remains a compulsion and I can’t kick the habit. Currently living in the West Country but admits to itchy feet.
Tell us about your writing experience.
I suppose I’ve been writing most of my life. Even as a child I would get bursts of literary energy, scribbling short stories and recording events that lasted a week to a month before spluttering away to doze somewhere at the back of my mind. Then for no particular reason some subject or event would set me thinking again and the urge to write would surface once more for another brief period. As I grew older the periods grew longer and I wrote an increasing number of articles, commentaries, odes and better short stories, which eventually led to my first book. All writers need imagination, the more vivid the better and the ability to observe even subconsciously, but they also need as much life experience as possible. Here I have been very fortunate in spending a lot of my life travelling around the World, meeting different peoples, taking part in their customs, seeing and merging into their way of life has been immensely valuable to me as an individual as well as a writer.
What lead to you coming up with the idea of this book?
The short story went into decline when so many of the magazines that supported them died. That is not to say there are not short story magazines around from the prestigious New Yorker and possibly Harper’s to the leading newcomer Amazon for on-line stories. But in the main the rest of them now cater for science fiction and horror which narrows the horizons for most aspiring short story writers. That said there are a number of on line publishers of short stories but few of them pay and for those that do the remuneration is hardly worthwhile.
Many dismiss the short story in favour of the novel which is understandable for in comparative terms one is a full blown dinner while the other is just a snack. That said the creation of a good short story requires just as much skill as a novel, possibly even more, as there is less room for mistakes. A novel can survive a sloppy passage or run the risk of boring the reader provided his interest is recaptured in the next chapter. While the short story can afford no such luxury, for it must grab the reader’s attention at the very start, hold it through the middle and satisfy it with a solid conclusion often within the confines of two to three thousand words. The novel is a mansion in comparison with many rooms some magnificent and some more mundane, whereas the short story though a humble cottage must be spic and span throughout with great pictures and highly polished copper ware.
Masters of the short story include Poe, Fitzgerald, Flannery, O’Connor, Hemingway, Carver, Cheever and O’Henry. But every writer should give it a try; if nothing else it will enhance their writing discipline and probably improve their paragraphs. I have tried to emulate these great writers in my own humble way with a published eBook called A Case of Black Rock and other stories in the hopes that others will be tempted down the same path for it would be a shame if the short story died.
What led to your decision to self-publish?
Firstly because few publishers will even consider a book of short stories unless the author is a well known figure in the literary world which unfortunately I am not, and secondly because with the advent of Kindle an author can now publish a book to a huge audience without requiring the services of a publisher.
What obstacles did you come across in the process?
Apart from having to master the technicalities demanded by Kindle which though a struggle for me will I am sure be a breeze for most, I had no problems.
Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?
Yes, I have self-published two further books on Kindle and converted a paperback.

To get a hold of A Case of Black Rock and other stories go to http://www.marshlandmuse.blogspot.com/p/purchase-page.html

Come Out Tonight by Bonnie Rozanski

Come Out Tonight by Bonnie Rozanski: NOOK Book Cover

You may have read newspaper reports of zombiish behavior in people who have taken the sleeping drug called Ambien. These people get up in the middle of the night to walk, eat, and drive cars in their sleep. The next day they sometimes find themselves in jail and have no memory of what they had done. And have you heard, as well, of the patients who wake up after years in a vegetative state - ten minutes after they’ve been given Ambien? COME OUT TONIGHT is a gripping psychological thriller inspired by these reports.

Henry Jackman, a pharmacist’s assistant working in a run-down drugstore in New York City, wakes up one morning to find his girl friend unconscious on his living room rug. Someone has attacked her. He calls an ambulance, and manages to get her to the hospital alive but comatose. There she progresses from coma to vegetative state, never quite becoming conscious... until the day Henry gives her Somnolux, a new-generation sleep aid.

Henry, an insomniac, has himself been taking Somnolux. He has been experiencing blackouts, something he doesn’t quite admit to, not even to himself. There is evidence he’s been doing some strange things in his sleep: women’s underwear turns up in his drawers; sexy women in his bed. Could Henry have attacked his girlfriend himself without any knowledge of the fact?

Enter Donna Sirken, a no-nonsense, over-worked homicide detective who for seventeen years has clawed her way up the NYPD ranks to her current position as Detective Second Grade. “I’d have sworn until this very moment that criminals are not evil,” Donna tells us. “Sure, they’re violent, lazy, banal, or just plain bad. They want something for nothing, or their father beat them into a lifelong resentment against the world ….They grew up poor, abused, or just plain angry. Something set them on the road to crime, but Evil? C’mon.”

A study of who we truly are, COME OUT TONIGHT is more than a whodunit. Profound, keenly observed and caustically funny, it will leave you thinking long after it is done. (blurb from Amazon)

When I first read the description I thought that this could be a good mystery. I did not expect such a well written and thought out story. The book gets into details that obviously required a great deal of research. The characters are well-rounded and seem very real. I liked the way that both main characters were able to tell the story through their own points of view in opposite chapters. While sometimes this may confuse readers, the voices of both Henry and Donna are unique so there should be no problem trying to follow who is telling the story at any time. I think that this is a great book for all who love a well-written thriller or mystery!

Bonnie joined in on the Self-Publishing month interview and so here she is in her own words ....

Tell us about yourself.
I am an author and playwright.  I’ve gotten awards for several of my plays, but it’s a tough theatrical world out there, and they have yet to be produced.  On the other hand, I have two traditionally published books: BANANA KISS and BORDERLINE, both by a small but fine literary press in Erin, Ontario. BORDERLINE was shortlisted for Foreword's YA Book of the Year Award in 2008 and received a silver medal at the Independent Publishers' Book Awards in the same year. And I also have five more ebooks for Kindle (check them out on Amazon!). One of them, SIX CLICKS AWAY, was a drama winner of the Red Adept 2010 Indie Awards. 

Tell us about your writing experience.
I wrote when I was a child: poetry and short stories, and wrote sporadically until my mid-twenties when I finished my first novel (it shall remain nameless).  Then I decided that I needed some life experience before I could produce anything worthwhile.  So, I worked in business for quite a few years, raised my son, getting a few degrees along the way.  Finally, when I finished my last degree, a MS in Computer Science, I decided that what I really wanted to do was not go back into computers but to write. 

What led to you coming up with the idea for this book?
COME OUT TONIGHT was inspired by recent bizarre reports of zombiish behavior in people who have taken the sleep drug Ambien.  These people get up in the middle of the night to walk, eat and drive cars in their sleep without having any memory the next day of what they have done.  Several months later came even stranger reports of patients who awakened after years in a vegetative state – ten minutes after they had been given Ambien.  Taken together, these reports seemed to say that Ambien could somehow unlock the secret to the conscious self!  How could I not write about this? (Though I changed the name of the drug, naturally.)

What led to your decision to self-publish?
 It wasn’t a hard decision.  I was lucky enough when I lived in Canada to find Porcupine’s Quill, who did a beautiful job publishing Banana Kiss and Borderline.  But once I moved back to the US, I found that publishers had mostly stopped accepting new manuscripts from writers without agents.  As for sending material to agents, it was an exercise in frustration.  “Intriguing premise,” they’d tell me.  “Deftly written! Caustically funny!  But it’s between categories [or] between genres [or] between target markets, and I’ll never be able to sell it to a publisher.”

 It’s the old adage – it’s hard to get a book contract unless you already have one, and publishers want unique ideas that are exactly like other unique ideas.  So, that underlies my decision to self-publish. By the time I realized I could upload them to Amazon, I had five unpublished novels.  It was a no-brainer.  I figured that if I could just get them out there, readers could decide for themselves.

What obstacles did you come across in the process?
None really, except for the marketing.  Both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble are very user-friendly. (Once you get the hang of it, of course.  The first book I uploaded was entitled Y.  Well, the Amazon software had a problem with a single letter title, but it never said so, of course.  Y just never showed up for sale.  Neither could the Amazon reps seem to figure it out.  One day out of sheer desperation, I put quote marks around the Y, and lo and behold, it worked!)

The one major obstacle, of course, is that a self-publishing author has to rely on oneself to do all the promotion.  On the plus side, I’ve found some wonderful bloggers who have gotten excited about my books, and that’s helped to get the word out.  And when SIX CLICKS AWAY got a 5-star review on Red Adept Reviews, one of the most highly regarded indie reviewer sites, I got a nice bump in sales for all my books. 

Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?
Absolutely.  I’m already in the early stages of writing a new novel based on time. I think everyone’s fascinated by the prospect of time travel.  I’m actually also intrigued by the idea that perhaps, as one physicist contends, the past isn’t fixed at all.  Maybe future actions can cause past events as much as the past can cause the future.  I don’t have a plot or premise yet, but it should be fun.

To get your copy of Come Out Tonight  check out this website http://www.amazon.com/Come-Out-Tonight-ebook/dp/B005MKZCN8/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1327006860&sr=1-4

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Author Spotlight: Carolyn Chambers Clark

Today we talk to Carolyn Chambers Clark who has self-published a number of books for both teens and adults.  I had a chance to preview 3 of her teen novels: JANE EYRE, BEWARE;  HOW I BECAME A WIMBLEDON BALL GIRL, MET THE QUEEN, AND FOUND THE BOY

Tell us about your writing experience.

I'm a nurse, wellness educator, and forensic examiner. I started out
writing nonfiction, health-related books, then switched to fiction.
They are like night and day and sometimes my linear, logical
nonfiction side is hard to hold down. In fiction, it's my creative
side that needs to come out. I still write an occasional textbook for
nurses, so switching back and forth is a challenge. Sometimes, I also
write with a partner, my husband. This is great fun! We complement
each other. He gives the male perspective and helps when the plot gets
bogged down, or if I need help with dialogue.

What lead to you coming up with the stories?

I get ideas for stories from many places. Sometimes I wake up with a
plot in my head, or at least the beginning chapter. That's really
exciting. Sometimes, I'll see a movie or read a book and think, "I'd
love to write a story on that topic, only from a different

For example, in DANCING WITH A VAMPIRE, I was watching "Dancing with
the Stars," which I adore, and thinking, what if a teen had to dance
with a vampire and try to win a dance contest?
Mysteries and thrillers have always interested me, starting with Perry
Mason. When I became a forensic examiner, it was only a small jump to
writing them, using my experience as a a starting point (FORENSICS BY
THE NUMBERS). The cozy, humorous mysteries are just so much fun to
write. CANDY, MURDER & ME just came to me, mostly the feisty character
of Cookie Berelli arose full-blown, and there was no stopping her,
ditto her dog, Sigmund Freud. The idea to include family recipes came
later and my husband and I had a blast adding Norwegian sweets (my
heritage) and Italian dishes (his).

I had a dream that led to MORGAINA, HER MAGIC HORSE, GHOSTS, & GODS.
Ditto THE FOGGED MIRROR. Although I've never been to Paris, I was
fascinated by the language and the city at the time and so the teen
protagonist had to solve the mystery in that city.

The romances came from my own experience--at least the kernel of the
idea. No, I never did all those things that happened in them, but
fiction is an exaggeration, so that works out fine.

The other young adult stories also came from my experience, but then,
of course, I exaggerated and the story took on its own form. I did
play Jane Eyre in a high school play (JANE EYRE, BEWARE), but wasn't
into revenge like my main character is, and I was an au pair for a
summer (MY SUMMER AS AN AU PAIR), but never ended up trying to choose
between two boys. Although I was never a ball girl, I did play tennis
competitively at the club level and still watch Wimbledon every year

VIRGO RISING, my sci fi/dystopic novel came to me after
I read a novel about school shootings that focused on bullying, but
completely overlooked the fact that many of the kids who came to their
schools with guns were on antidepressants, which have suicidal and
homicidal side effects.That gave me the idea of a future society
hooked on prescribed drugs so they became either violent or
lackadaisical, unaware how polluted and dangerous their air, water,
and food had become, and the two teens who set out to help their city
survive before they are captured and eliminated.
So, each of the novels has a kernel of reality to it, but only a
kernel. The rest, my characters urge me to write.

What led to your decision to self-publish the books?

Reading on several websites about the pitfalls of contracts
traditional publishers demand, the fact that ebooks are outselling
paper books, the fact there are really only 6 major publishers and
they are looking for a sure thing. The biggest reason is that
electronic books are the wave of the future and are now outselling
paper books was the clincher. Also, having total control over the
cover, when it gets published, and how it's marketed is important to
me. I've been working with publishers for decades and they move very
slowly and have their own contracts and demands, which they are
hesitant to change.

What obstacles did you come across in the process?

Finding reviewers and ways to market the books are the biggest
obstacles, and they continue to be. That's why it's so great you're
doing this for writers. Thank you, Jennifer!

Uploading e-books to Amazon.com, Smashwords.com and Barnes & Noble are
relatively simple, once I realized I had to reformat the books to fit
their standards. Learning HOW to do that took several tries, but
eventually I got it and after that I had no problems. I also did all
the covers, which I adore doing. It's great fun to try to find images
that match what's inside the book and see the title and colors and
images come together into a whole impression. My husband used to own a
printing business, and he reminded me often to keep it simple and make
sure people can see the images and read the words. I also consulted
him on colors that would stand out and which colors to use for words
that would contrast well.

Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?

Amazon. I just read an article yesterday from a daily newsletter I
get. The author did a calculation and concluded you can make as much
publishing e-books as you can from signing with a traditional
publisher. The traditional publisher's first advance is about $5,000
these days. Most authors never make their advances via royalties, so
that's about all an author will see and the book will probably be out
of print soon, unless it becomes a bestseller. E-books go on forever.
They never go out of print and our children and grandchildren can reap
the benefits for years.

So, how does an e-book self-publisher make that $5,000? According to
the article, by selling one book a day for 10 years, an author will
make the $5,000, but will keep making money forever and outrun the
income a writer who published with a traditional publisher will make!
And that's only for one book. The odds are, if a writer has more than
one book e-published, readers will find that second or third book, if
they liked the first one, and so income increases.

Product Details

It's 2047 in this YA sci fi dystopian adventure and sixteen-year-old Tyler Haden joins the Rebel Alliance to stop her environment from being poisoned and end the useless violence in her community; if she fails, she'll have her brain wiped clean of all memories and her town, the last city in the US of A will be destroyed. What a decision...

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Jane Witherspoon would sooner date a toad then live in London her junior year, but when her father takes a teaching job there, she and mother and brother are forced to follow. To get in with the in-crowd in this sports romance, she's forced to join the competition to become a ball girl at the most prestigious event in tennis—Wimbledon—even though she’s tall and lanky and uncoordinated.Then there's the Queen and the boy of her dreams ...

JANE EYRE, BEWARE, a young adult story of revenge, love, and a school play

In this coming of age school romance, seventeen-year-old Jane Lloyd not only has to star in JANE EYRE, she has to stop boys who are groping girls at her school, but if she follows through, her actions could cost her admission to Columbia University and a chance to uphold family tradition. What will she do?

I read these three books and I enjoyed them all. The characters are going to be easy to relate to for teens and for those of us who have not been a teen for a while, its how we once were. The stories are easy to get into and move at a good pace. If you or your teen has read everything in the bookstore, why not try these e-books next!

And Carolyn is going to make this even easier, for the next 10 days she will giveaway ONE copy of either JANE EYRE, BEWARE; HOW I BECAME A WIMBLEDON BALL GIRL, MET THE QUEEN, AND FOUND THE BOY OF MY DREAMS; or VIRGO RISING to anyone who blogs or tweets about this post. All you need to do is send her an email with a link to the post or copy of the tweet and the title of the book you wish to receive!

Send the email to fictionwriterccc@gma​il.com and Carolyn will get it to you!

To find out about her other books check out her site at http://www.freeandbargainebooks.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Morrigan's Harvest (Book 1 of the War for Inisfail) By Kaiya Hart

Cover for 'Morrigan's Harvest Book 1 of The War for Inìsfail'
Shea is living a simple, country life and is well pleased with it. Then Galen, the elf guardian Shea's mother chose for her, appears. Between the threat of being carried off by him and a vicious attack on her village, everything begins to change. Shea sets off on a noble quest, but what begins as only a rescue mission will reveal dark secrets buried deep within the heart of her magical world. Shea must discover a way to overcome the obstacles in her path while learning about her own capacity for hatred and love. If she cannot balance the two, she may lose more than just her friends. She might end up losing herself.

This is a brand new book that I have had the honour of being one of its first reviewers. I know that this story has been in the works for many years and I am so happy that I get to help introduce it to the world!

The book is fantastic! The writing is brilliant, why you ask, the descriptions of the characters and settings take you to this new world and if you close your eyes you can see what Shea is seeing right at that moment! That is not easy to do. Right from the beginning you know that not all is as perfect as it seems on the surface and you are taken on an amazing journey full of adventure to try to right the wrongs. All the characters are well-rounded and have their own personalities which helps make the story inviting. Between the lyrical descriptions and the on-going adventure, Morrigan's Harvest will have fantasy fans wanting more!

I highly recommend this to all fantasy fans!

And here is Kaiya Hart in her own words as she took part in my Self-Publishing Month interview:

Tell us about yourself. 

It is really hard to talk about myself; I find it kind of embarrassing. I grew up in the small town of Villa Grove, Illinois. I guess I had a strange childhood; I was surrounded by books and horses. My parents were really strict, so, I spent a whole lot of time reading while everyone else was out at parties. Now, I am a military wife living in England. My love of books has permeated my adult life as well. When I was younger my father used to say I should be a writer. I always laughed at him, because I didn't believe I would ever be able to imagine the vibrant and expansive sorts of stories that I always loved. My parents were supportive from the first creative writing class, of course, and they have never said ‘we told you so’, even though they have more than earned the right. I owe them so much that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pay them back for everything. 

Tell us about your writing experience.

It has been a long journey to get where I am now.  I had to get over a lot of self-doubt.  I had to get beyond the discouragement of people saying that writing is not a "real" job.  Everyone thinks because you don't get a weekly paycheck that writing is a cop-out.  People always refer to it as a hobby.  I have been known to put in 18 hour days 7-days a week. When I realized how much I was working, I realized it wasn’t a job or a hobby. It's a passion. I believe it should be that way; if you are going to create something, why not give it everything that you have? I don't write for money or praise, I write because I'm a reader and I want to create the kind of stories I love to read. That's what brought me to the point I'm at today.  Writing and loving it.

What lead to you coming up with this book? 

I have had the main character in my head since I was 15 years old.  10 years ago, I decided to get serious about the story but I didn't know what her story was. Over the years, as I have evolved as a writer, so has the book. I realized that Shea’s story wasn’t just about going on an adventure, but that it was about someone struggling to find herself.  I wanted my main character to grow realistically rather than just be another cardboard damsel in distress or being the sort of character that jumps up fully developed. The story took shape around her, and it is one that will take a full trilogy to complete. That, believe it or not, was actually the part that was hardest to admit; I wanted to tell Shea’s story in one book and no matter how many times I tried to cut it down, it still ended up being well over 1500 pages. Eventually, I just gave in to what I had suspected all along, that I was just going to have to write a full trilogy. Once I allowed that to become fact, everything else got a whole lot easier.

What led to your decision to self-publish? 

As for most writers, up until the last year or so, the Holy Grail for me was being published the traditional way. However, I was always conflicted about it as well. I was so conflicted that I never did more than post a couple of query letter to agents when I felt like I needed to at least try to move forward. Anyway, my book was still struggling and there seemed little reason to bother these people until it was absolutely ready… which, it didn’t seem like it was ever going to be back then. While doing a read for another writer, we began discussing the pros & cons of self-publishing.  At first, I recoiled from the idea, because as any old school writer knows, vanity publishing was typically thought of as something only the most amateur writers who could not hope to be published did.  I remember reading that in a hundred books on publishing and hearing it from my creative writing teachers so many times that the very mention of it gave me horrors. Of course, that was in the days when vanity publishing was expensive and could only hope to reach a limited market. Thanks to the advent of e-readers, anyone who self-publishes now instantly reaches a world-wide audience.  During this discussion, I began researching facts and found both readers and writers alike were embracing their new found freedom.  The readers could choose the books they wanted and the writers could write in any genre, sub-genre, or anywhere in-between.  No longer was publishing a popularity contest that I would have to compete in, it was free to all who had something to share with the world. I decided right then that the best way to give my story to those who would love it best would be through independent publishing. I also had to eat a little crow with the other writer, but I always think a little knock to let us know that we don’t ever know as much as we think we do is a good thing. It keeps us human.

What obstacles did you come across in the process? 

I am a little OCD, so one of the biggest obstacles has been editing. Luckily, I have some very helpful beta readers who have been known to read my manuscripts more than a few times. Among them is the same writer who opened my eyes to the brave new world of independent publishing and she is an absolute gem.  Another obstacle is the re-formatting for e-readers.  I grew up just before the internet became normal, in an age where typing on an actual typewriter was still a class. My freshman year of college is when technology really began leaping forward. I’ve managed to keep up with a lot of the new stuff; I can work a cell phone and most computer programs. I can fill up my I-Pod and my Kindle without too much hassle. I can even set my phone to ring a certain way for a certain person. Yet formatting is proving to be the bane of my existence. A file that looks good for Kindle won't even work for Nook and vice versa. Sometimes I reformat a file only to see that it has caused all sorts of rifts in the once perfect text. I have kittens over it, thanks to my mild case of perfectionism. I go through the book later, find all these problems, and begin doing Rumplestiltskin type stomping around the house. Create-A-Space, by far proves the biggest of these walls, especially since my husband and I are overseas and getting the proof copy in the mail can take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. It is all worth it, though. I published another book earlier this year and it was sort of my dry run. I figured that, if it didn’t work for me, then I would go back to the traditional route, no harm, no foul. I found that I was comfortable with independent publishing, though, and it felt like a huge step in the right direction.

Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future? 

Absolutely. I have the rest of the ‘War for Inisfail’ trilogy rough drafted and somewhere around ten more novels in my head to be written. I see no reason to change what works. I wanted to give my stories to the world and that is what I have done. It might take more time for the right readers to find my books than if I had a professional publicist, but that is alright by me. Thanks to my husband, who goes out of his way to support me, and people like you who sacrifice their time in an effort to help out those of us who choose the hard way, I think getting noticed is something that will happen. I have both faith and patience. My only concern is that those who do read my books enjoy them, no matter how they discovered them.

To get your hands on a copy of this book go to: