Friday, December 31, 2010

Review of THE NOBLE PIRATES by R.L. Jean

Goodreads link:
I won this book in a contest and I'm so glad I did because The Noble Pirates is a fantastic book.  

When Sabrina Granger falls off a booze cruise in 2009, she has no idea that her life will be irrevocably changed.  Finding herself rescued by Captain Edward England, Sabrina thinks she is on some kind of movie set or Disney ride only to find to her horror that she has somehow been transported back to the year 1718.  The book is told from Sabrina's viewpoint and from the moment I started reading it, I was drawn in by the author's easy style.

This book is not your usual romantic historical story.  Ms. Jean draws the reader in to experience every nauseating detail of everyday life in 1718 from personal hygiene to medical practices.  This makes the story even more appealing.  Sabrina is a plucky woman who clearly misses life in 2009, but soon realizes that if she want to survive she'd better learn how to survive in 1718.  The author weaves Sabrina's experiences with pirates Edward England, Howel Davies and Bart Roberts with historical facts.  Clearly, a lot of research went into writing this book.  There are so many unexpected events, that it was useless to try and predict what the ending would be.  

Without giving away any spoilers, Sabrina Granger learns it's not so easy to change fate.  Whatever path we're set upon will happen no matter what we try to do to change it.  She must learn to live with some heart wrenching decisions as she tries to survive aboard a 1718 pirate ship.  I can't wait for the sequel to be published!  Highly Recommended.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recap of December Sponsors

As part of my sponsorship package, all the authors for the month are highlighted again in a recap post.  Here are December's sponsors.  Thank you LK Rigel, Maureen A Miller, Cliff Ball, Sandra Edwards and Terrence O'Brien for your support of my blog.  Without further adieu, here are December's books.  Please support our sponsors.

Space Junque by L.K. Rigel

The DOGs want to destroy the world. The gods want to make a new one. The trick is to survive both. The world is on the brink of ecological cataclysm set off by the Oil Spill of 2010 and the Great Sea Level Rise of 2070. When the Defenders of Gaia set off dirty bombs in random cities, Char Meadowlark races to the airport to get off planet until the terror subsides. Char's friend Mike Augustine secures her a place on the Imperial transport, but the DOGs strike before she can board. Jake Ardri, pilot of the shuttle Space Junque, rescues her and delivers her to the Imperial Space Station where Mike awaits.
When the DOGs' final onslaught goes global and the physical world threatens to implode, the ancient gods reemerge to stop humanity from annihilating all material existence. In this chaos, Char must juggle two men, orbiting eco-terrorists, and a goddess with her own agenda for a new world order.  Will there be any room for love in flagrante apocalypto?

Borrowed Time by Maureen A Miller

An accident on a frozen highway brings two strangers together. 

Brian Morrison has no recollection of what placed him on that icy stretch hundreds of miles from home.  In his line of business, memory loss was unacceptable and accountability was crucial.  Despite a nagging sense that his assignment was incomplete, he was infatuated with the woman that knelt above him seconds before unconsciousness staked its claim. 

Upon her parents’ death, Emily Brennan became the sole guardian of her brilliant, yet eccentric brother.  Her devotion to protect him from a world that shunned the abnormal made her do the unthinkable.  One of many faceless engineers for a government-funded marine facility, Emily Brennan gained a face when she stole designs from National Marine Dynamics…and now she was on the run.

Only an hour from the promise of safety, Emily witnesses the car behind her spin out of control on an icy stretch of highway. Fear dictated that she should flee, but the body slumped on the shoulder of the road appealed to her humanity. 

Emily and Brian are two strangers thrown together by an errant patch of ice.  Would the truths of their identities tear them apart or would they unite in battle against an egomaniac that threatened the safety of innocent civilians.

Incredible Dreams by Sandra Edwards

Incredible Dreams is the story of a modern-day ghost whisperer who travels through time to save the life of a WWII fighter pilot and ends up jeopardizing her own existence.

Izzy Miller prefers to call herself a spiritual therapist because she thinks it makes her sound more professional than plain old ghost-whisperer. She expects her latest project to be quick and easy because exorcising military personnel is pretty routine.

But there's nothing easy or routine about Captain Jack Baker—he's a rather forgetful spirit and somewhat mischievous. And even though he's intrigued by the US Government's latest attempt to remove him from the only place he can ever remember being...he has no intentions of going anywhere. Plans to exorcise Jack are quickly sidelined when Izzy discovers a portal into the past inside her dreams and sets out to change his fate. Trouble is...when she gets back there, she can't remember anything but her name. She still sees ghosts, but is far less accepting of her gift. And, to make matters worse, a demonic force pretending to be the forgetful heroine's sister has her own plans—to steal Izzy's soul.

Usurper by Cliff Ball

Ever wonder what would happen if our worst fears were realized and we elected someone who was willing to destroy the USA, even if he was destroyed himself? The Usurper is that novel. It is a fictional account of what would happen if the Soviet Union and KGB were given the chance to take down the United States from within. They use the American political system, education system, terrorism, and commit environmental disasters to achieve these goals.

The Soviet Union and the KGB refuse to let the purging of communists in the United States as awhole by Senator Joe McCarthy, and the House Un-American Activities Committee, deter them. Soviet Premier Khrushchev authorizes the KGB to embark on an ambitious, decades long plan to destroy the United States from within through the corruption of American politicians, the American education system, terrorism, and environmental disasters. Gary Jackson, the main character, is the fulfillment of the KGB plan to destroy the United States from within. They raise him from birth to hate everything about the United States, indoctrinate him, and introduce him to terrorists across the world, where the KGB dictates all terrorist attacks. When Gary is a teenager, he is sent to the United States to assimilate and begin his mission. Nothing will deter his goals of completely and utterly destroying the United States.

When the Soviet Union dissolves, he is given a choice, and he decides to continue with the mission. A terrorist organization ends up filling in the gap left by the absent KGB, and they, together with Gary, conspire to destroy everyone in the United States who doesn't agree with them.

Templar Concordat by Terrence O'Brien

When the truth is your greatest danger, and the enemy knows the truth, things can only go downhill when the enemy finally gets the proof.  And that's the proof the Hashashin get when they steal what the Vatican doesn't even know it has. Now the infallible decrees of two Twelfth Century popes and three kings, stolen by the Hashashin, threaten to catapult the bigotry, bias, and religious blood baths of the Third Crusade straight into the Twenty-First Century.

When Templars Sean Callahan and Marie Curtis are drawn into the mess, they face an ancient enemy that has already nearly won the battle. A newly elected Mexican pope being undermined by entrenched Vatican powers, world class scholars who will sell their prestige to the highest bidder, and terrorists lingering over nutmeg lattes in sidewalk cafes.

Moving from Rome to London, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia, Callahan and Curtis are desperate to find some way to stem the success the Hashashin are having enlisting the majority of moderate Muslims in their Jihad. Out maneuvered at each step by the Hashashin, only a last ditch roll of the dice has any chance of success. But it's the only chance they have.

Crazy For You by Sandra Edwards

Crazy For You is a rags-to-riches tale set against the backdrop of the 80s, movie stars and rock-n-roll.

Roxanne Simon is a successful author and an award-winning actress who’s also a bit neurotic. After she appears on a popular talk show the world is left guessing: is rock star Frank Garrett the father of her four year old son?

Once Frank learns the true parentage of Roxanne's son, he's determined to make her pay. When he stumbles upon her weakness, he decides to use it against her. But is he prepared to see her pay the ultimate price in his quest for revenge? 

Be careful what you wish just might get it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today's Sponsor: THE TEMPLAR CONCORDAT by Terrence O'Brien

Author Web Site:

Book Blurb:

When the truth is your greatest danger, and the enemy knows the truth, things can only go downhill when the enemy finally gets the proof.  And that's the proof the Hashashin get when they steal what the Vatican doesn't even know it has. Now the infallible decrees of two Twelfth Century popes and three kings, stolen by the Hashashin, threaten to catapult the bigotry, bias, and religious blood baths of the Third Crusade straight into the Twenty-First Century.

When Templars Sean Callahan and Marie Curtis are drawn into the mess, they face an ancient enemy that has already nearly won the battle. A newly elected Mexican pope being undermined by entrenched Vatican powers, world class scholars who will sell their prestige to the highest bidder, and terrorists lingering over nutmeg lattes in sidewalk cafes.

Moving from Rome to London, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia, Callahan and Curtis are desperate to find some way to stem the success the Hashashin are having enlisting the majority of moderate Muslims in their Jihad. Out maneuvered at each step by the Hashashin, only a last ditch roll of the dice has any chance of success. But it's the only chance they have.

Amazon Reviews:

Review 1: The story explodes early on and the action and intrigue never lets up. Continuously entertains, educates and keeps one guessing. Well drawn, interesting and varied characters; crisp dialog. The most interesting character enters after the half way point, the new Pope from Mexico, Pedro Sanchez; he is unaffected by his new status, blunt, clever, insightful and fully willing to challenge papal doctrine for the truth. Could hardly put it down for 2 days. Highly recommended.

Review 2: If you like Vince Flynn, Jack DuBrul, Brad Thor, Dan Brown and similar authors you are going to love this new author. I started reading this book on a Saturday morning and couldn't stop reading until I finished it. The book is nonstop action with exciting plots, intrigue where the stakes are high, a driven hero named Callahan, who is my new favorite character, and an ending that will leave you begging for his next book. This is an exciting and satisfying read and I highly recommend it.

Review 3: It is definitely of the caliber of the DaVinci Code and its progeny. I have really enjoyed reading it.

Author Bio:

Terrence O'Brien
After leaving the Marine Corps I began a career in mine and oil field development.  I have followed the oil fields spanning Alaska, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, and now live with my wife in Kansas City where I became a floor trader at the Kansas City Board of Trade. I'm currently working on Avram's Cross, the second book in the series.

Book Excerpt:

Zurich - Friday, March 27

The Templar Master’s phone rang late at his house on Lake Zurich. “Well, are you going to ask me?”

“Ask you what, Patrick?” sighed the Master. What did the Archivist want now?

“Aren’t you going to ask me how the thieving crooks knew the treaty was just sitting there begging to be stolen?”

The Master confronted his own stupidity. How, indeed, did they know?

“Marie pretty much nailed it. She found entries for the thing in the Vatican Library. She gave us some index numbers and we narrowed our search.”

Silence. “And what did you find Patrick?”

“It’s on the damn internet. A compendium of inter-library listings of new additions to about five hundred major research libraries. Page after page, indexed and sorted by library, department, bla bla bla.”

“What’s it say?”

“Say? It says Treaty of Tuscany, 1189, Vatican Library. Evaluation. Some temporary catalog numbers. It’s a few lines of text hidden in a thousand pages. A needle in a hay stack.”

“Who gets the list?”

“Who gets it? Who do you think get it? Libraries. Universities. That’s why I get it. Some Vatican idiot listed it without knowing what it was. Probably don’t even know they did it. For all I know, the computers did it all by themselves. That’s an option on their system.”

“Is the entry still on the internet?” asked the Master.

“Good God, no. We got the computer whiz kids over in your cellar to hack the hosting computers and erase it. No point letting anyone else know what we know. Knowledge is power.”

“OK, Patrick, if you dig up anything else let me know.”

“Let you know? You bony French toad!  Open your eyes, man. Think.”

The Master owed the old Archivist a lot, but there was a time to draw the line. “Patrick, either get to the point or I’m hanging up the phone.”

“Hang up? Hang up at your own peril. Has it occurred to you that someone had to know about the treaty before that line in the index could even have any meaning to them? They had to know enough to realize it was worth stealing? Know what it said?”

The Archivist stopped to let his words sink in, then softly said, “And just who might have been around long enough to know that? Just who might have mention of it in their own archives? And just who might love to get their diseased claws on it? Just who might that be?”

Hashashin. The Master wondered if he or the Irishman should be Grand Master. He sure hadn’t been thinking clearly.

The Archivist had the knife in and couldn’t resist a twist. “So, now I’ll leave you to think your great strategic thoughts, with the ancient foe so far ahead of us, planning God knows what mischief. And, you know, you’re supposed to be the brains of this outfit… and none of you thought to ask the simple questions… mental midgets all of you… brains like BBs in a boxcar…see, I’m still pulling your chestnuts out of the fire…heaven help us… not like the old days, no, not at all… have to get me little knives out before...”

The Master clicked the phone off.

Please support our Sponsor:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Today's Sponsor: CRAZY FOR YOU by Sandra Edwards

Book Blurb:
Crazy For You is a rags-to-riches tale set against the backdrop of the 80s, movie stars and rock-n-roll.

Roxanne Simon is a successful author and an award-winning actress who’s also a bit neurotic. After she appears on a popular talk show the world is left guessing: is rock star Frank Garrett the father of her four year old son?

Once Frank learns the true parentage of Roxanne's son, he's determined to make her pay. When he stumbles upon her weakness, he decides to use it against her. But is he prepared to see her pay the ultimate price in his quest for revenge?
Be careful what you wish just might get it.

Review Snippets:
From The Crazy Bookworm ~ “The entire character cast is great, you'll find yourself falling in love with not just Roxanne and Frank but with all the characters.”

From Readers Favorite Book Reviews ~ “Ms. Edwards takes the reader back to the 1980's, to a world of starving musicians, sex and drugs. She portrays the scene quite well.” 

Buy Links:

Author bioSandra is an award-winning author with eclectic tastes. She writes in a variety of genres such as paranormal (mostly time travel and reincarnation), contemporary, and suspense. Her books often push the envelope and step outside the boundaries of conventional romance. She lives in the U.S. (west coast) with her husband, two kids, four dogs and one very temperamental feline.

Crazy for You Excerpt:
That evening, Roxanne sat back and watched Rich and Glen give all the local groupies the cold shoulder. The hometown girls seethed as the two band members, who’d been oh-so-friendly yesterday, entered the club tonight sporting these unknown women on their arms. None of the slighted fans tried to hide their anger.

Roxanne couldn’t understand how Candy and Glenna, especially Glenna, could stand to witness this diversion as it played out between the guys in the band and the local girls. The whole thing proved unsettling for Roxanne. “Let’s go out and burn one.” Her suggestion came abruptly.

“Okay.” Candy popped up from her chair and grabbed her purse.

The girls headed outside, and made themselves comfortable in the back of Roxanne’s van.

Glenna initiated the ritual by pulling a joint out and firing it up. “Did you see all those girls giving me the evil eye when I walked in on Glen’s arm?” she asked with an amusing laugh and passed the joint to Roxanne. Glenna didn’t seem to care, one way or another, about what she obviously knew.

“No shit.” Candy let out a sharp laugh. “I caught a few of those myself.”
Roxanne choked on the smoke and coughed. “I can’t believe you two think that’s funny.” She handed the joint to Candy.

“Roxie…” Glenna said in a discerning tone, “I’m not blind to the fact of what goes on when I’m not around. But I also know…” She gave Roxanne one of those looks that said she wasn’t worried, and in a controlled voice, she said, “when push comes to shove…” She shrugged with a measure of confidence. “I come first.”

“And it doesn’t bother you?” Roxanne asked, doubtful.

Candy passed the joint to Glenna, saying nothing, just following the conversation with an entertaining grin edging up the corners of her mouth.

“Not as long as Glen doesn’t flaunt it in my face,” Glenna said. “You must understand.” She stopped long enough to take a hit off the joint. “The groupies, they got one thing on their minds.” She stopped again, holding her breath this time. An act that allowed the capabilities of the drug to take her away. “They want to screw a musician. Any musician.” Slowly, Glenna blew the smoke out in a long, lingering trail. “They put it right there in their faces. And believe me, a stiff dick has no conscience.” There was no doubt in her tone, no fear in her words. She handed the joint to Roxanne. “And I’m not going to let some little two-bit slut destroy my marriage,” she added, in an almost vindictive tone.

Roxanne toked on the joint and a disturbing thought crossed her mind. Glenna not only knew about it—she accepted her husband’s infidelity. Anxiety colored Roxanne’s thoughts with visions of what Frank might be doing out on the road if she wasn’t there. She tried to expel the ugly thoughts invading her head, right along with the smoke as she exhaled and handed the joint to Candy.

“You got a clip?” Roxanne said to Candy.

“Yeah.” Candy pulled a roach-clip from her purse and clamped it onto the joint.
Glenna picked up on Roxanne’s anxiety. “I’m not saying that’s what Frank would do.” She had to get that notion out of Roxanne’s head. Otherwise, Frank would hit the roof. “So don’t go judging him by my husband’s actions.”

Glenna prayed Roxanne had nothing but pure thoughts of Frank. If not, there would be hell to pay. Frank would see to that.

Please support our sponsor:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review of DESPERATE by Bryl R. Tyne

Available from Untreed Reads Publishing:
 4 of 5 stars

I received a review copy from the publisher

DESPERATE is the third story of the Zagzagel Diaries.  Once again the author packs a punch with so few words.  In this story, Zag, our resident guardian angel, must stop Nick, a teenage boy who may or may not be gay, from doing something that will forever change his life, and not in a good way.  Being from a religious family and living under the roof of a racist, Nick understandably suffers inner turmoil.

Zag takes direction from Big Papa and the number one rule is not to interfere.  Humans must be allowed to make their own choices, however stupid they may be.  This is where Zag has a serious problem.  He can’t always follow his directive and sometimes intercedes directly on his human’s behalf.  It is not always pleasant when Zag has to report to Big Papa and endure the severe tongue-lashing heaped upon him.

The author interjects humor in all of the Zag stories, but for the first time, I noticed something else.  Zag is experiencing a human affliction.  I don’t want to spoil anything for the next reader, but suffice it to say, I found this intriguing.  Is something changing for our resident guardian angel?

If you’re looking for short stories that pack a wallop, then start with FORSAKEN, the first story in the Zagzagel Diaries and work your way through them.  You will not be disappointed.    


Review of FALLING STAR by Philip Chen

Available at Amazon

 4 of 5 stars
I received a review copy from the author.

Philip Chen has written an interesting story weaving threads of alien travelers, a Navajo medicine man, a secret US government agency CSAC, KGB spies and mysterious objects located at the bottom of the ocean.  It is an ambitious novel and Mr. Chen clearly commands your attention with this techno-thriller.  His wealth of knowledge of the military, weaponry, computer systems and ocean submersibles is impressive. 

The characters, especially Mike Liu, are well written.  The author lets you into Mike’s innermost thoughts especially the racial taunts he suffered growing up being Chinese in a white America.  Mike has a short fuse and the reader can clearly understand why.  Conspiracy theories abound in this novel.  Is the cold war really over?  What happened to all those spies when the KGB was dissolved?  Does the US have secret agencies that only a few in the government know about?  Is it true that the Earth has been visited by aliens?   Have they left sign posts for their eventual return?  As you can see, there is a lot going on in this book. 

There is quite a lot of technical data in the book that supports the story, but I found myself skipping over many of these descriptions.  Also if you are at all faint at heart, the detailed descriptions of assassinations may be too much for some. I have a minor criticism.  The author does a decent job of wrapping up the mysteries in the book, but clearly he left many open threads for a sequel.  I was a little disappointed with this, but it means that I’ll have to read the next book to find out what happens next to Mike Liu and the rest of the cast.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Thanks to @Kindle Author for starting this on Twitter.  This chapter is from THE CRYSTAL FACADE.  The chapter is about Eclasius Jortac, a powerful telekinetic, and his first day at the Otharian Institute for Paranormal Studies.

Eclair Jortac sat down at the desk in the front of the classroom facing his students.  It was his first day with this group of advanced telekinetics and he felt like the new kid in school.  He had thoroughly enjoyed teaching the younger students for the past six months.  They had responded well to him and loved his quirky ways.  This class would be different.  These students would not be so easily impressed with him especially since he was only a few years older than most of them.
All right, I’m the teacher.  If anyone should be nervous, it’s these kids, not me.
Eclair’s eyes swept the room.
“Good morning.  My name is Eclasius Jortac.  I’ll be your teacher for this class on advanced telekinetics.”
In the back of the class, he heard a pair of students snicker.
“I heard they used to call him Eclair, like the pastry.”
“Yeah, cause he’s soft and gooey.”
The two had pitched their voices loud enough for everyone to hear.  Smothered laughter erupted throughout the class.  Another time and place, Eclair would have turned beat red and quietly taken the jeering, another time, another place, and definitely, another Eclair.
He had been warned by the chancellor about these two students--a pair of bullies, physically powerful and fairly decent telekinetics.  They were of the house of Vogdo and were second-generation nephews of the Grand Duke.  Their previous instructors had given them ample liberties because of that fact.  No one wanted to face the displeasure of the Grand Duke of Otharia and the Institute’s number one benefactor.   
Eclair stood up and walked around to the front of his desk while he continued his introduction.  He concentrated slightly and the two perpetrators jerked out of their seats, standing at attention, with their arms locked to their sides, unable to move a muscle.  However, they could still speak and the first one quickly voiced his displeasure.
“Hey,” the first boy yelled peevishly, struggling to no avail.  “What’s going on?  I can’t move.”
All eyes turned toward the back of the room.
The second boy struggled for a few moments before giving up. 
“As I said, my name is Eclasius Jortac.” 
“Well, my name is Vogdo,” the first boy interrupted, “and when my great uncle hears of this . . .”
The boy’s mouth slammed shut and his eyes went wide with shocked indignation.
Eclair continued talking unfazed by the boy’s interruption.  The other student’s heads swiveled back and forth between their frozen classmates and their new teacher.
“You may call me Sir or Master Jortac.”
Both boys stared at Eclair with fire in their eyes.  No one else spoke, their attention was glued to the two boys held in thrall.  To the ultimate surprise of the class, the two slowly elevated into the air and began to spin around in a circle.
Eclair continued talking nonchalantly.
“I want everyone to understand something as we move forward in this class.  I’m the instructor and you’re the students.  You’re here to learn and I’m here to teach you.  Today’s lesson is on focus and the application of power.”
The two boys struggled to free themselves as they continued to rotate in front of the other students.  The class soon recognized that Eclair was demonstrating two separate weaves of power on air, something none of them had seen before.
Eclair pressed his point.
“To truly understand power, one must look beyond the surface.  What one perceives with one’s eyes is not necessarily the strength that is lurking beneath.”
Eclair chose his words deliberately for impact.  While the students watched the spinning boys, an apple floated into the air between the two.  No one had ever been able to cast a third weave of power and the students looked on in shock.  Only adepts of the highest degree could cast two weaves of power and even they studied for long years to achieve it.  The boys stared wide-eyed at the apple rising between them.
All those hours of training and I’m reduced to classroom theatrics, Eclair thought.   
“Subtly is the secret to control,” he continued.  “Understanding and applying the discrete and proper amount of power is the key to success.  Apply too much power at the wrong time and disaster could result.”
The apple didn’t quite burst apart as Eclair had expected, but pieces were still sent flying off in all directions.  The two boys dropped to their seats like sacks of grain each with their share of apple bits decorating their heads.  Released from their constraints, the boys sat dumbly in their seats staring at their new instructor.
Hmmm, not quite what I had expected, but it did the trick.  I’ll have to work on my control a bit more.
“Now, does anyone else have any questions before I continue?”
“No, Master Jortac,” the class replied collectively.
“Excellent.  Let’s move on to our next topic.”

New Kindle? Some great reads!

Congratulations to everyone that got a Kindle for Christmas.  I love my Kindle and read about 70% of my reading list on the ereader.  I would like to offer up a few suggestions for books to download to your shiny new Kindle.

First, of course, I will recommend my books written with my co-author, David W Small.  The first two are novels in the Rule of Otharia series and follow royal twins Darius and Dyla Telkur, both powerful in PSI abilities, as they try to navigate a political minefield all the while trying to stay one step ahead of a telekinetic assassin who has sworn to kill them.   More information and reviews for the books can be found on the OTHARIA pages at the top of the blog.  Both books are gaining traction and have received a number of excellent reviews recently.  Click on the book icon to bring you to the Amazon page.

Path to War and The Right Path are both novelettes [10,000-12,000 words] set in a post apocalyptic world in our Dark Future Series.   Path to War is the story one general's story.  The United States has disbanded its armies and General Matthew Smith of the American Freedom Fighters tries every trick in the book including authorizing the warrior Kenzu to make memory weapons in the hopes of turning the tide in the war.  The Right Path follows teenagers Ham Jones and Zia Slate as they try to survive in a dog-eat-dog world.  The two team up to protect each other's back, but sometimes even that isn't good enough.  Their lives are further complicated when they meet a mysterious old man bearing gifts.  More information about both stories and reviews can be found in the DARK FUTURE link at the top of the page.

And I've heard the pleasure of reading quite a few other books this year.  You can find my reviews for these books in the sidebar.  Here's some of my favorites:


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Christmas is finally here.  I'm sure all the little ones have been hoping Santa stopped at their house.  Well, I can tell you he did.  Here's Santa flying across the sky:

All the decorations are up, the Christmas dinner is in the oven and the champagne has been chilled.

So, there's really not too much more to say except:

Enjoy the day with family and friends!  I know I certainly will.

Photo credits: Francesco Marino, Filomena Scalise and nuttakit.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gang Problems on Christmas Eve

Everyone has their own problems to be sure whether you live in the city or the suburbs.  Gangs can be a serious problem for a neighborhood.

Here's one gang problem in Montana.  Really, how can you top this?

"OK guys, which house is our target today?"

"Can you just pick one?  Make up your mind."

"Just forget it.  I'm exhausted and I'm resting here."

Just a little silliness before I'm offline for the holiday!  Enjoy.

And the winner is...

The winner of the paperback copy of SWITCHED by Amanda Hocking is:

Amy Del Rosso

Congratulations Amy!  You will be hearing from Amanda directly about getting the book to you.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest.

The winner was chosen by

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Panel Discussion: What is the best atmosphere for you to write in?

Quiet room or Public Coffee Shop; Music on or NO Music; TV on or NO TV.

Cliff Ball
The best atmosphere I prefer to write in is a quiet room. I have to have absolute silence, otherwise I can't concentrate. I have no music playing, and my TV is not on. When there are times that I prefer to write by hand, I even have to have my computer turned off because the background noise it makes can irritate me when I'm trying to concentrate on writing. When I have tried writing when there are noisy distractions, I make a lot of mistakes, and I also tend to not catch those mistakes. So, I have to have everything around me as silent as possible when writing.

Author website:

Terrence O’Brien
First, I consider writing to be everything an author has to do to get a novel onto the page. After that the tasks are formatting, distributing, promoting, and anything else that can be done by someone else.

So, with that expansive idea of writing, I write in all kinds of places. I imagine each episode of the tale while running, driving, exercising in the gym, or just kicking back in a chair. I visualize locations, people, actions, weather, expressions, and dialog in as much detail as I can, moving around the scene watching and listening to everything that is happening. That vacant expression people detect? That's me mentally role playing each character to get a feel for what is happening. Walter Mitty? Yeah, could be.

When it comes time to sit down in front of the screen and type up an episode for the first time, I usually go to an upstairs room around 11pm when everything in the house has quieted down. There are windows all around three sides, and in the winter frost forms on the inside since I keep the heat turned off up there. In the summer, all the windows are open and the air conditioning turned off. The door is closed, music banned, and Max the cat sits on one side of the keyboard, and an ancient high intensity desk lamp sits on the other side so there is little reflection to interfere with frequent gazing out the windows. That word I am searching for can often be found by looking over the screen and out the window. The clock is turned away, my watch is in my pocket, and a small ebony elephant blocks the time display in the lower corner of the screen. The best part is that episode I had so carefully crafted in my head always changes for the better when it gets its words. But, after that first draft of an episode, the rules change, and it can be revised, edited, or expanded on a small netbook anywhere I happen to be.
Author Website:

Noah Mullette-Gillman
The best atmosphere for me is loud sound that I control. I don’t want to hear other people. I don’t want the television on. I play music and as my writing becomes more frenetic, the music gets noisier. Nick Cave and Tom Waits are good: Murder Ballads, Grinderman, Glitter and Doom, Bone Machine. The National, Tom McKean and the Emperors, certain Soundgarden songs, certain Grant Lee Philips songs, the soundtracks to Pan’s Labyrinth and The Fountain; I like dark and energetic music when I write.

I need to be alone. I can’t usually write with other people in the room.  Thunderstorms help. No, I don’t control them, but I feel like I can use their energy.

It’s not that my writing is always dark. It often isn’t, but there’s a Plutonian passion in that kind of music that is rarely there in lighter work. I drink it up like water.  For some reason Richard Cheese also works, especially his cover of Down with the Sickness.

Suzanne Tyrpak
I can write, and do write almost anywhere: coffee shops, airports, hotel rooms, driving in my car—I’m big on sticky notes (not recommended: can be dangerous). But my favorite place to write is in my cozy library/office/spare-room. These days I prefer sitting in my cushy pink chair and writing on my laptop. The bookshelf (a whole wall) is next to me, so I can easily reference things—I write a lot of historical fiction, so research is imperative. I’ve noticed that too many hours of sitting on my chair with the laptop can lead to back-pain so, when I begin my new novel, I may have to retreat to my desk. I like the view from my chair, though. When I look up, I see trees and sky. I feel like I’m in a tree-house, and it’s easy to dream.

Usually, my place is quiet—a true luxury. When I lived in a house, the cats used to walk over my keyboard or try to take a nap on it. Now I live in an apartment by myself, and my cats live with my ex (he has land and a cat door). And, if I have a day off from the airport where I work, I can write for hours with no interruptions; sometimes I write all day in my pajamas. And sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and write. Writing just after I wake is my best time; the transition from dreamtime to story can be magical.

Coneuelo Saah Baehr
One of my favorite books is Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”.  In that book he writes about his life in Paris as a young man when he often sat in a cafe on the Left Bank scribbling away in his notebooks. I was besotted with that image. It was exactly how I was going to write my books.

I received a contract from Simon & Schuster to write my first book based on an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.  I had to finish a book I had not begun (except for the initial short essay) within nine months.  I had three children under six.  We lived in the woods with no help.  I wrote the book at the dining room table while the kids ran around tormenting each other. Fast forward to the present.  The kids are grown, The house is quiet. The whole darn village is quiet. I can’t write in quiet. There is a social concept that we all need three places: our home, our office and a third place where we can go.  Starbucks (or its equivalent) is our “third place,” an anonymous safe spot where we are part of the bustle but not of it. The local library is another place.  My mind is most calm and receptive when I am surrounded by impersonal benign activity.  I like the murmur of people talking in the background.  No music. No television. I am most productive when ensconced amid the hum and bustle of daily life.