Posts Tagged With: author interview

Interview with Robert Eggleton

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Robert Eggleton, author of Rarity from the Hollow, which was our featured Book of the Day last week. Please be sure to stick around after the interview, as there will be an excerpt from the novel. If you would like to visit the Book of the Day feature and read a different (but very insightful!) excerpt from Rarity from the Hollow, please click HERE.

1 Rarity Front Cover WEB (2)

Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage — an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It’s up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

Interview with Robert Eggleton

Robert: Hi, Tricia! Thanks for inviting me to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. 

Tricia: Thank you so much for stopping by! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Robert: I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist with over forty years working in the field of children’s advocacy. I grew up as the oldest child of an impoverished family in West Virginia, became active in human rights movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s as a teen, and went to college as an alternative to being drafted and sent either to prison or to the Vietnam War. I remained active in the anti-war movement during college, graduating with a Master’s Degree in 1977.

My father was a disabled Vet suffering from shell shock and anger outbursts that he self-medicated with alcohol. My mother was a downtrodden survivor of domestic violence who kept our family together any way that was necessary. My family would fit within an Appalachian subculture that emphasized hard work and fundamental Christianity. I was the third member of my extended family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from college. My grandparents farmed, were poor but highly respected within their communities – always with a helping hand out to anybody less fortunate. Love abounded and still does despite profound generational differences in social and political values.

T: When did you begin writing?

Robert: Perhaps to disassociate from a harsh reality filled with alcoholism, domestic violence, and not enough food on the table, I began writing short stories as a child. At the time, paper bags were used by grocery stores. I would tear them open and flatten them out to use for writing stories that I would share with anybody – store clerks, peers, gas station attendants…. During the tumultuous times of the civil rights movement, I switched to writing poetry, and was especially inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as early rock music, such as by Pink Floyd. During college, a few of my poems were published in alternative zines and one was accepted by the 1971 West Virginia Student Anthology. I also wrote dozens of handouts for antiwar protests. During college, between working to pay for tuition and books and studying, I started a few short stories and drafted poetry, but never seemed to find time to finish anything.

After college, I concentrated on writing nonfiction. It was a very exciting time for children’s rights. It was the beginning of an era during which children were no longer regarded as chattel. Instead of being locked up with no due process as I had been as a little boy, courts were recognizing that parents could not just dump their kids into jails and big institutions for punishment, or because the parents just didn’t want them any more. I wrote socials service and treatment models, policy, staff training materials, drafted legislation consistent with social services thinking, published research on the correlates of child abuse and delinquency…. Dozens of my investigative reports about systemic deficiencies and how children were treated in jails and institutions were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked until the end of 1997. Many of these reports are now archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

In 2002, I accepted a job as a therapist at our local mental health center. It was the first job that I’d performed since college that did not involve a great deal of producing written materials. Something started churning inside of me, subsequently identified as a personal need to write. I returned to writing fiction and poetry in 2006. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel.

T: Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Robert: Rarity from the Hollow is literary fiction with a social science fiction backdrop, filled with tragedy, comedy, and satire. The final edition was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016, after circulating as an Advance Review Copy (ARC) for an extended period of time. This novel was the first, if not the only, science fiction adventure to predict the rise of Donald Trump into political power. While there is no political advocacy in the story favoring one side or any other, the story covers many issues being faced today – the refugee crisis, illegal immigration, sexual harassment…. In a nutshell, an empowered victim of child maltreatment, a most unlikely savior of the universe, heads a team of zany characters on a wild adventure. The early tragedy in the story feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire.  It is not for the prudish, faint-of-heart, or easily offended.

T: How did you get the idea for the book?

Robert: I’ve mentioned going to work for our local mental health center and how my psychological need to write started churning deep inside me. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions for children with mental health concerns, most having experienced maltreatment, some of them having experienced sexual abuse. One day, sitting around the table used for written therapeutic exercises, a skinny little girl with long stringy hair began to disclose. Instead of just speaking about the horrors of her abuse, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a loving family who would protect her. My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe: Lacy Dawn.

T: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

Robert: I have a love – hate relationship with each character in Rarity from the Hollow. They all have character flaws and wonderful attributes, including the abusive father and Lacy Dawn. Personally, I most like Brownie, the family mutt who plays a very important role in saving the universe. He was the only character on Lacy Dawn’s team to have empathy for what was then presumed to be a vile invading enemy. His empathy skills opened the door for conflict resolution. He was a positive role model for all. Plus, while every character prompted a laugh every now and then, Brownie was outrageous when his internal dialogue was shared with readers.

T: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Robert: Writing itself comes easy for me. The hard part is the self-promotion that follows. The most difficult aspect of writing the story was cutting out great scenes that didn’t advance the plot. I wanted to make them somehow fit since some of these scenes were powerful. It took a while, but I cut, cut, and cut some more.  Again, however, nothing to do with writing is nearly as hard as the hard work that follows after a manuscript has gone past final editing.

T: What is your primary goal as an author?

Robert: This project has a larger mission than a personal goal as an author – contributing to the prevention of child maltreatment. Half of author proceeds are donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.

My goal as the author of Rarity from the Hollow was to write about tragedy but within a story that was fun to read. The ARC of my novel was awarded two Gold Medals by major book review organizations, was named one of the best releases of 2015 by a Bulgaria book critic, and received twenty-six five star reviews and forty-three four star reviews by independent book review bloggers. The review that caused me to feel like I had approached my goal as an author:

“…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them. In fact, the rustic humor and often graphic language employed by Lacy Dawn and her compatriots only serve to highlight their desperate lives, and their essential toughness and resilience…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.”

I don’t want to sound like I’m fixin’ to die, but, especially as I’ve aged late into the world of books, another goal became heartfelt. I wanted to write something that would outlive me. Yes, that sounds grandiose. Yet, it’s probably the deep down goal of every writer. On 1-6-17, the first review of the final edition was published, five stars. The closing lines will be on my tombstone (just kidding!): “…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.”

T: What projects are you currently working on?

Robert: I’m very much looking forward to taking down the shingle that reads, “Marketing.” Self-promotion with no budget to do so has kept me very busy. Thanks to the kindness of book bloggers like you, Tricia, I have persisted to give Rarity from the Hollow the best shot possible in this highly competitive marketplace.

I have short stories in the works, and will be pressed to make the next deadline for a magazine that I have a strong interest in submitting. The next Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy, an almost forgotten town and the headquarters for an invasion of Earth by addiction to drugs – another satire. This novel has been almost ready for editing for quite some time but self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow has gotten in the way.

T: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Robert: I don’t feel competent to give advice to aspiring authors, but I will share a little common sense based on my observations of this marketplace. Don’t expect to be discovered overnight like you were Elvis singing on the front stoop of an apartment located in a low-income neighborhood. Before you publish, make sure that your work as been professionally edited, or as close to it as your finances will allow – not by a friend or anybody with whom you have a personal relationship. If published, to the extent possible, prevent generic one line reviews from being posted on Amazon – they always look like they were written by your friends and detract from other reviews that appear more legitimate. Commit to the long haul by keeping in mind that the majority of those entering the world of books stay there briefly and then drop out never to be heard of again. And, last, never buy a book review and don’t invest more than you can afford in anything. I’ve heard of aspiring authors placing themselves and their families at financial risk by becoming overcommitted to a book that they had written. Hard work pays off, but working smart has better outcomes.



Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. The Advance Review Copy of Rarity from the Hollow received considerable praise through Robert learning about the world of books as a novice. The final edition was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Robert worked for this agency in the early ‘80s and stands by its good works. He continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group psychotherapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Connect with Robert Eggleton at the following links:

Purchase links for Rarity from the Hollow:


Please enjoy this selection from Rarity from the Hollow, selected by the author:

Excerpt from Chapter 13, “Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé”

Scene Prologue: At this point in the story, Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, is twelve years old. An android named DotCom (his name is a recurring pun throughout the novel) installed a port in her upper spine and has directly downloaded data into her brain for the last several years. His ship is hidden in a cave in the Woods behind the family’s house in the hollow. DotCom was sent to Earth to train and recruit Lacy Dawn to save the universe from an imminent threat, but was recalled due to slow performance. In this scene, DotCom has returned to Earth and Jenny, the mother, meets him for the first time.


         …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn’s name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

I hear her voice. Why won’t she answer me? 

“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.

Nobody responded. The trees weren’t supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.

I will always love you guys. 

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.

Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 

Jenny looked to the left of the path.

There ain’t no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 

She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn’t exit and into a blue light that did.

“All right, you mother f**ker!”

“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you’re supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story).”

DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.

“Grrrrr,” emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn’s dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.

“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”

“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

Stay between them.

“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I’m old enough — like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend — what you call it — my fiancé.”

“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.

“MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”

Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

He ain’t got no private parts, not even a little bump.   

“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”

Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.

“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”

I will need much more training if I’m ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”

Jenny’s left eye twitched.

DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…

…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There’re a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain’t complained since the shots started — not even with an upset stomach.”

“He’s a doctor?” Jenny asked.

“What’s your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that’s different — even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”

“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.


Mommy’s right. Maybe I need a different argument.

            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.

“What’s that?” Jenny asked.

She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

“Mommy, I’m so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn’t talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain’t had no chance to talk. All I know is that he’s home and I’m sooooo happy.”

“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that’s a good sign. Maybe she’s right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. Id better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.

“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition — the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.

They both glared at him.

“Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.

“Okay, Mommy.”

“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.

“I love you too,” DotCom said.

Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile — at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.

Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”


Rarity from the Hollow is available on Amazon:



Categories: author interview, authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, books, interview, literary fiction, science fiction | Tags: , , ,

Author of the Week: Dave Riese

Cover for 'Echo from Mount Royal'

‘Echo from Mount Royal’

Our Author of the Week is Dave Riese. He’s here to speak with us about his novel, Echo from Mount Royal. Welcome, Dave. When did you begin writing?

I began writing at Bates College in Maine. While studying abroad at Oxford University in England during my junior year, I travelled throughout Europe during term breaks. For my B.A. thesis, I wrote stories, essays and poems based on my travel journals. Like many young writers, I was ‘bitten’ by the poetry bug in my twenties. I was cured, mercifully, within two years. Three poems were good enough to escape the shredder.

In my mid-twenties, I began writing short stories. An early story, submitted to the University of Massachusetts literary magazine, was not accepted, but the editor wrote a personal note praising the story and encouraging me to continue writing. I have always treasured that ‘rejection.’

While studying for my MBA at Suffolk University in Boston, I entered stories in the university’s annual short story contests and won a couple of cash prizes. Despite that success, I knew I had to keep my day job.

In my thirties, I began writing a novel off-and-on over several years. I finally finished the 400-page novel. It hides in a cardboard box under my desk.

What is your chosen genre?

I fell into the genre of my book. Before going to work, I’d often meet an elderly Jewish woman in the coffee shop downstairs from my office. We talked ‘books,’ sharing a similar taste in fiction. When she learned that I was a writer, she told me many stories about her experiences growing up in Montreal before and after WWII. Her story about her engagement as an 18-year-old girl astounded me. She invited me to ‘write it up,’ thinking it would make an interesting short story. Over the next ten months, I gave her chapters ‘Hot off the press” to read. When the 300-page manuscript was finished, she hefted the pages laughing, “This weighs more than a short story!” After a year and a half editing the book, it was finally finished In October 2014.

Montréal 1952  Rue Sainte-Catherine

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

The novel takes place in the Montreal of 1951. Rebecca Wiseman, 18 years old, from a Catholic-Jewish family, briefly meets a handsome young man at a local dance. She has little hope of seeing him again. When Sol Gottesman tracks her down and asks her on a date, her joy mingles with disbelief: he is the son of a wealthy Westmount businessman.

Sol takes her in a chauffeured Rolls-Royce to the most expensive restaurant in the city and Rebecca enters a world of upper-class wealth and privilege. She believes her life is perfect.

She soon learns that despite Sol’s outward charm, he lacks self-confidence. On a visit to Mount Royal overlooking the city, Sol reveals the simmering conflicts in his family. When Rebecca tries to help him stand up to his family, she puts herself squarely in the midst of it all.

Class, religion, family conflict and sexual secrets test their love. And then, a late night telephone call changes her life forever.

In their reviews, readers respond to the independent and outspoken character of Rebecca who struggles to reach out for love and to support the man she loves; to the vivid descriptions of Montreal and its social norms in 1951; to the realistic depiction of family love and conflict; and to the unusual twists of the plot and the surprising revelation at the end of the novel.

Rebecca #1

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

The most difficult challenge was capturing the attitudes, prejudices and social conventions of that era. Knowing someone who lived during those years was a precious advantage. Also, the Internet is an amazing resource. Here are some issues I encountered while writing the novel:

When Sol and Rebecca go to the cabin in the Laurentians, I originally had them driving on a highway that did not exist in 1952.

In early drafts, I wrote scenes in which people watch television. Canadian television did not exist until the first TV stations were built in Toronto and Montreal toward the end of 1952.

Using a specific consumer product usually required an Internet search. For example, I remembered the commercial for Ipana toothpaste from my childhood – a cartoon beaver singing “Brusha, brusha, brusha, get the new Ipana.” I confirmed on the web that Ipana toothpaste was sold in Canada in the early fifties.

Researching radio shows that Rebecca might have heard while looking at her bouquet of roses, I discovered that Princess Elizabeth came to Canada in October, 1951.

Contemporary newspaper descriptions supplied details about Ben’s Deluxe Deli – the décor, waiters’ uniforms, and the Wall of Fame.

The hardest work was striking the right tone regarding the attitudes of people in 1951 in areas of pre-marital sex, public displays of affection, parental control of daughters, and the revelations of child abuse. I hope I’ve resolved these complaints satisfactorily.

Burnt photograph

What projects are you currently working on?

My next project?

Authors are superstitious about discussing their next project. They may discover after six months of writing that the novel or memoir isn’t working and abandon it. Inevitably, when people learn you’re a writer, they’ll ask, “Who’s your agent?” and “When will it be published?” and “Is it about anyone I know?” Inevitably there’s a reference to Stephen King. The writer often underestimates the time required to finish the work (I needed an extra year), then feels compelled to justify why the book is taking so long to complete. These discussions can be depressing.

Nevertheless, I often ignore my own advice. My next book is about the last years in the lives of the main character’s parents when he faces the fact that they will not be with him much longer. Watching them fail both physically and mentally caused him to confront his own mortality. The novel will explore how memories change over time to reveal one’s parents in a different light. Of course, there will be juicy family secrets. I hope to show how memories both deceive us and encourage us to reexamine our lives.

And, no, I do not know when it will be finished.

What is your primary goal as an author?

My goal as an author is to write honestly about the themes in my next book. To keep learning how to write better. To encourage other writers. To get my writing out to as many people as possible and not worry about how much money I make. (Which is very little. Luckily I am retired and not trying to support myself writing.)

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

The smart-aleck answer is “The book I’m reading now.”

My favorite Irish and English authors are Sebastian Barry, William Trevor, Colm Toibin, Frank O’Connor, Jaime O’Neill, Edna O’Brien, Jane Gardam, Brian Moore, Peter Ackroyd, John LeCarre, Patrick McGrath, Ian McEwan, Magnus Mills, John Mortimer, Roddy Doyle, Virginia Woolf, Michael Frayn, Graham Swift, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Taylor, Hilary Mantel, Charles Dickens, and Evelyn Waugh.

My favorite American and Canadian writers are Edith Wharton, Pat Barker, William Maxwell, James Cain, Jim Thompson, Willa Cather, Stewart O’Nan, Bernice Rubens, Mordecai Richler, Alan Furst, Muriel Spark, Patricia Highsmith, Ernest Hemingway (short stories), Scott Turow, Henry James, Eudora Welty, and Tobias Wolff

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

When asked how she wrote so many books, Nora Roberts answered ‘Ass in chair.’ That’s the best advice for aspiring writers. Spend time each week and write. Not ‘thinking’ about writing. WRITE! (Note: I don’t always follow my own advice,)

  • Keep a journal to record thoughts and impressions. It’s amazing how those notes can inspire you years later.
  • Write a first draft without stopping to think too much. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, using the right word. Then let it simmer. Finally edit, edit, edit. Sculpt the work with revision after revision. Editing is when the book is created.
  • Don’t show anyone your work until you’ve gone over it carefully 5 times.
  • Develop a thick skin. Don’t argue when someone offers criticism. Some of ‘my’ best ideas have been suggested by other writers.
  • Join a writer’s critique group. You’ll learn as much critiquing others’ work as you will from their reviews of your work.
  • Send out your work to websites that publish new authors — not to make money, but to get your work out there and gain self-confidence.
  • Never give up. Don’t panic if you think that you’ve got ‘writers block.’ Sit down and write whatever comes into your head. You are a writer as long as you write. Publishing doesn’t make you a writer.
  • Take time to live your life. You don’t know everything when you’re 25 or even 40. I’m still learning at 69.
  • Read, read, read. Everything. Never be without a book. Take two with you in case you finish one while you’re away from home.
  • Observe, listen, and daydream.
Dave Riese

Dave Riese

About the Author:

Born in 1946, I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts. I attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, majoring in English literature. During my junior year, I studied English Literature at Oxford University and travelled in Europe. I wrote a travel journal as my senior thesis.

After graduating in 1968, I enlisted in the Air Force one step ahead of my draft board’s kind invitation to join the army and travel to Vietnam. I married Susan, my high school girlfriend, during leave between tech school and my posting to the Philippines at Clark Air Base. During this period, I wrote poetry.

Discharged from the military in 1972 and despite my lack of computer experience, I was hired by Liberty Mutual Insurance to attend their three-month computer training course. I learned later that the major reason I was hired was my writing and communications background. An English degree can be a valuable asset!

I began writing short stories, a novel and a screenplay, but wasn’t disciplined enough to produce much over the next 25 years. A job, a house, and raising two children took all my energy.

After 35 years in information technology, I retired from Massachusetts Financial Services in the spring of 2012. I sat down and had a long talk with myself. “If you want to publish a book, you’d better take writing seriously.” (i.e., AIC — ass in chair)

My wife and I moved north of Boston in 1974. Our daughter lives in Ireland with her husband. Our son and his wife are pediatricians in Rhode Island. We have four grandchildren.

Echo from Mount Royal is my first novel, published in 2015.

Connect with Dave Riese:

Buy a copy of Echo from Mount Royal:

Mount Royal McCord Museum - cropped


Categories: author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, books, historical fiction | Tags: , , , , ,

Author of the Week: Claire Fullerton

Our Author of the Week is Claire Fullerton, author of Dancing to an Irish Reel. Welcome, Claire! Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

I consider myself a Southerner, having grown up in Memphis, Tennessee. It is a source of identification for me, and although I now live in Southern California, I am never far from my roots. I have a particular affinity with Ireland and once lived on its western coast for an entire year. Suffice it to say I am a Southerner, an Irish-American, a lover of animals and long walks in the woods, but what defines me the most is my love of language and words.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing by keeping a journal from the time I was about eighteen. I felt an inexplicable need to document my life: its daily events and the people who impacted me. It was like keeping a running monologue that kept me current with my emotional life. I look back now and realize that I was following an inner prompting that taught me how to write and how to articulate in a clear and concise manner.

What is your chosen genre?

Contemporary fiction because my aim is to write about how I view and experience the every day events that shape a life. I like the idea of human nature being common, as in something that links us all together. Contemporary fiction helps us to see ourselves as we read someone’s story.

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

I’d love to! “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is contemporary fiction set on the western coast of Ireland. A single American female named Hailey Crossan leaves the Los Angeles record business and takes a trip to the west of Ireland, where she is unexpectedly offered a job that is too good to turn down, so she stays. She is quickly befriended by a group of Irish locals who help her navigate the nuances of rural Ireland, and when she meets a regionally famous Irish musician who is enamored of her but afraid to come closer, it is Hailey’s friends that help he decipher the confusion. “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is about discovering a new land, and also about the uncertainty of new love.

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What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

I think repeatedly fine-tuning the manuscript after the completion of the first draft is the real work. To me, it is like tightening a puzzle because one has to pay attention to cadence and flow, as well as to continuity. One has to know the entire book word for word as if it were an 800 word essay. Keeping the overview in mind at all times is the trick.

Are there certain themes or lessons you tend to explore in your books?

I like the idea of how much people hide from others as they go about their lives. People like to appear more together than they actually are and always like to save face. I like the idea of how people say one thing when they mean another. I think it is the emotional life of a character that has the real story!

What is your primary goal as an author?

To continue to grow. To aim towards saying things better, more cohesively, more poignantly. It is an effort towards presenting the best book possible in the hopes that it will engage, perhaps enlighten, and always to entertain.

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Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

Everything Pat Conroy has written, and I am also an admirer of Donna Tartt. Both are masters of language, which I believe writers have to be.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have just completed my 3rd novel.

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

My best advice is to remind all writers that writing is a continuous growth process with no “there” to get to! This is the good news! We can all be well into our eighties and still evolving as a writer, which is not something you can say about many occupations. But the pursuit is a process and a build; a marathon, not a sprint, as I have heard it said. It is my opinion that writers don’t seek to be a writer, they simply get in touch with the fact that they are!

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Author Bio: Claire Fullerton is the author of “Dancing to an Irish Reel” (Contemporary fiction) and “A Portal in Time,” (Paranormal mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing.  She is a 4 time, award winning essayist, a contributor to magazines (including “Celtic Life International” and “Southern Writers Magazine”) a former newspaper columnist, and a 5 time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. Claire hails from Memphis, Tennessee and now lives in Malibu, California, with her husband and two German shepherds. She has recently completed her third novel, which is a Southern family saga set in Memphis.

Connect with the Author:

Direct Links to Purchase  “Dancing to an Irish Reel”

Direct Links to Purchase ​“A Portal in Time”

  • Amazon Books and Kindle EBooks:  Link
  • Barnes and Noble Books and Nook EBooks:  Link
  • ​Google Play:  Link

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Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, books | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Meet Author Tumika Patrice Cain

Tumika Patrice Cain

Tumika Patrice Cain is an award-winning author, media personality and publisher whose works centers around uplifting, encouraging and empowering others to live the abundant life.  She is also an accomplished poet; founder of the Say What?? Book Club; and host of the internet radio shows Living Abundantly with Tumika Patrice Cain, In The Spotlight, and Say What?? Author Spotlights.  In addition, she is a respected book reviewer and columnist for PEN’Ashe Magazine, a contributing writer for BLOG and Believe Magazines, and editor for two smaller publishing companies. A champion for indie authors, she works tirelessly to level the playing field to bring exposure to those authors who excel at their craft, but whose marketing budgets are limited.  Inkscriptions, her publishing company, offers a myriad of book publishing services. Living by the motto of each one reach one, each one teach one, Tumika shares her passion for purpose and for life with all who cross her path.  She is the 2013 recipient of a Spoken Word Billboard award for her debut novel, Season of Change (December 2012), a novel that has since been picked up by Shan Presents and will be re-released as When a Man Loves a Woman – A Season of Change in December 2015.  To her publishing credit, she is also the author of After the Rain…a Poetry Collective (March 2014) and The Heart of a Woman (August 2015).  Tumika’s works have been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, newsletters and periodicals.

 Facts about Tumkia

Finish this sentence: I am addicted to…

chocolate, good books and gorgeous shoes!

What advice would you give another author who is struggling with procrastination?

There is always a fear element present with procrastination. I’d tell the author to look deep within and ask him/herself the question “what am I really afraid of?” If answered honestly, the answer will bring the author face to face with one layer of truth in their lives. Sometimes just admitting where we are and what we struggle with is enough to get the ball rolling. Other times, it may require more questions, to which I’d encourage them to ask if they are more afraid of whatever it is (from the first question) or getting to the end of their lives and having not accomplished what they set out to do. Typically, the weight of one will overshadow the other and help the person reach a decision. Thirdly, I’d tell them to look in the mirror and remind themselves how capable and worthy they are. Know that you are more than your setbacks, more than the mistakes you’ve made, and success is a divine right…so embrace it!

What flowers would be in your ideal bouquet?

I enjoy roses (pink and red ones especially), Calla Lilies, Tulips. I also enjoy the simplicity of daisies, and the childhood nostalgia of Cattails.

How do you celebrate a book release?

I like to do a reading and have a book signing, with good food, great company and a creative environment where others can meet, connect and get inspired.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I’m a part-time writer, however, I am working on one aspect of the literary arena all the time; be it reading & reviewing other’s works; writing articles for my column, blogs or my motivational moments meant to uplift woman, or editing for independent authors or for the publishing company I contract with. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, I find time to write my books also.

Describe your dream date.

I’m a simple pleasures type of woman. A picnic by a body of water (sans the bugs and bird droppings – LOL), under a tree on a scenic grassy patch of land, in the midst of good company would be perfect.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy reading, hosting small dinner parties, taking my daughter and her friend on play dates, dancing, interior design, exploring the cultural scene and listening to music.

How do you relax at an end of a long day?

I take a long soak in the tub with mile high bubbles or a steamy shower and slip on something comfortable that feels good against my skin, open the windows (even in the winter I open them just a smidgen), burn incense, light candles, cut on some of my favorite music, and eventually crawl into bed with a good book.

How long have you been writing?

I began creative writing at the age of seven when poetry was introduced as a second grade class assignment. I loved the way I felt after stringing together a series of words, and the power writing gave me to express myself when I was otherwise shy and felt voiceless.

What are your pet peeves?

Narcissism/selfishness and Lying!

Connect with Tumika Patrice Cain:


When A Man Loves A Woman

By Tumika Cain

The stars seemed to have been aligned for Avery and Alicia. From the outside looking in, Lady Luck passed their way and left a fortune! They had a whirlwind, fairytale romance filled with all the little things that make dreams come true, a wedding of grace and beauty, and perfectly magical careers that produced almost enough money to burn.  They were the picture-perfect couple.

Unfortunately, time has a way of revealing fissures in what appears to the naked eye as impenetrable. The results send this fairytale romance spiraling out of control.

Avery, as perfect and so right as he seemed, struggles to free himself from his demons. He clings to this delicate relationship that he desperately needs as if his last breath depends on it.  Alicia, on the other hand, struggles to make the necessary corrections that will release her from a prison of unexpected, agonizing turmoil.

A novel of enduring strength, undeniable empowerment, and the compelling ability to overcome incredible odds, Book one in the When a Man Loves a Woman series is a powerhouse that will impact readers long after the last words have been read.

Excerpt From When A Man Loves a Woman


“Tell me what happened last night.”

Somehow through sniffles I managed to relay the events of the day.

“When no one answered the front desk, I began to worry. I’d already tried your direct line six times.”

“Our receptionist leaves at 5:00, that’s why we all have direct lines. During deadline times, we are too busy to answer the phones. That’s the truth.”

“Oh, baby. I’m so sorry I became upset.” I felt myself stiffen at his words. He was more than just upset. He was out of control.

I found it unbelievable that my gentle Avery had the ability to lay hard hands on me with the intent to bring nothing but pain. Lying there with him, I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. His touch repulsed me, but I couldn’t find the strength to loosen the hold he had on me.

Looking back, I suppose I was grateful that the long night was a Thursday. The managers were very lax about giving us time off when we’d pulled overnighters like that. A three- day weekend was just what I needed. Emotionally, as well as, spiritually.

Avery wouldn’t let me loose. Just kept me nestled against him, stroking my back. Eventually, I fell asleep within the folds of his familiar embrace. Upon waking, I made my usual beeline to the bathroom. I really had to go! I’d forgotten that Avery wouldn’t let me go before I went to bed.

Standing at the sink washing my hands I chanced a glance in the mirror and gasped. I was a wreck. Hair all over my head. Eyes bloodshot and nearly swollen shut from all the crying. Cheeks very red from all the blows I’d received. At first I looked in disbelief, then I just hung my head and cried. I lightly touched a tender bruise that had started to form on my cheek. My whole body ached. The pounding in my temples seemed to increase with every movement made. Guess I never realized how much exertion went into fighting.

I gathered my belongings for a bath. There were a million thoughts running around my head, but I couldn’t distinguish one from another. A hot bath is just what I needed. Maybe the steam would permeate my pores and unleash all the bitter feelings I had growing inside. Pear-scented air filled my nose as I lay back in the tub, resting my head on the cold, hard marble. Confusion ran rampant in my mind. I didn’t know what to do. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did know what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave him and never look back.

By the time I exited the tub, my mind was all made up. I was leaving. That is until I glanced in the mirror again. I felt the walls begin to close in on me. I couldn’t leave. Not looking the way I did. I looked like someone had just beaten me up. Of all the feelings I had at the time, embarrassment had to be the most prevalent. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Too embarrassed to go into the streets with that bruise forming on my face. Mocking me. Too embarrassed that I had allowed this to happen.

Melancholy settled on me like acceptance does to a prisoner on death row. I was stuck. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anywhere to go. Kate’s doors were always open to me. So were Aunt Gilly’s. But like I said, embarrassment immobilized me.

Avery awoke and his eyes sought mine as I descended from the bathroom. I wouldn’t, couldn’t meet his gaze. I kept my eyes on the floor.

“Good morning, Alicia.” His voice was a soft caress that was almost my undoing.

“Afternoon, Avery.” I was on my way out of the room when I heard him call my name.

“Alicia, come here for a minute. I want to talk to you.”

“I don’t feel much like talking now.”


“Aren’t you listening? I am upset and I don’t feel like talking. Don’t pressure me, Avery!” By this time, I’d spun around on my heels and stood in the doorway glaring at him. I didn’t feel like being hounded. He was the one that opened up this can of worms. Now that they were out of the can, he’d just have to deal with whatever I felt like dishing out until I could make up my own mind. I was not going to be bullied or coerced into seeing this through his eyes. After all, no one told him to put his hands on me.

I heard him say, “I’m sorry…” But that was the last thing I heard because I went to sit on the patio. The condo felt small that day.

 Purchase Links




Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, books, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, excerpt, romance | Tags: , , ,

Author of the Week: Joni Parker

Today, I’m happy to re-introduce Joni Parker. She has previously appeared on Authors to Watch and I’m thrilled that she’s come back to share her newest release with us.

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Welcome, Joni! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

In 1998, I retired from the U.S. Navy with 22 years of service.  My husband and I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and bought a house.  However, we fell in love with a motorhome and sold our house.  We spent several wonderful years criss-crossing the U.S. including a trip to Alaska until my husband passed away in 2001.  Not long after that, I went back to work for the federal government and learned to live my life over again.  I retired for a second time in 2010 to devote my time to writing.

When did you begin writing?

I had my first feature article published in the school newspaper when I was in the first grade.  After that, I wrote short stories and poems through elementary school.  When I got to high school, all that stopped and I didn’t start writing again until I was 57.  It was a long dry spell.

What is your chosen genre?

I enjoy the fantasy genre because it allows me to create my own world and populate it with the people I want.  Sometimes, my characters are mere mortals, but they can also be Elves, Dwarves, Titans, or other creatures.

Can you please tell us about your most recent release?

My latest book is called “Spell Breaker: The Chronicles of Eledon Book One.”  For a thousand years, no one has been able to leave Seaward Isle because of a spell that created a ring of storms around the island.  As the book opens, Lady Alexin Dumwalt (Alex) uses her magical powers to break the spell and frees the inhabitants to escape to Eledon, the World of the Elves.  But her success will come at a cost.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

The most challenging aspect was keeping the book size manageable.  I kept adding more details along the way and had to keep cutting the book back.  As it is, it’s the longest book I’ve published so far.

Of all your published books, which is your favorite and why?

This is like asking which child is your favorite.  “Spell Breaker” is now my favorite because it presented so many challenges.  The first draft my editor received was significantly different than the final version.  It took me an extra year of editing to get the book the way it ended up.  I used what I learned to change “Blood Mission” (Book Three of the Seaward Isle Saga, the previous series) before it went into print form.  Then I withdrew the first ebook version and published a second edition.

Are there certain themes or lessons you tend to explore in your books?

Not intentionally.  My main character is still very young so she’s learning as she goes.  Lessons and themes come out of it.  In “Spell Breaker,” she learns some very important life lessons the hard way, like the need to give and take, especially when she argues with her grandmother.

What is your primary goal as an author?

My goal is to become a better writer and utilize my brain for as long as I can.  Writing doesn’t have a mandatory retirement age, so I intend to write for a long time.

Which authors and/or books have inspired you as a writer?

Last year, I attended a seminar by Donald Maass.  He owns a literary agency and has written several books on writing a good novel based on what he looks for as an agent.  The seminar was three hours long and was held before the DFW Writers’ conference.  In addition, he also taught several breakout sessions and gave the closing speech.  I bought two of his books, “The Fire in Fiction” and “Writing 21st Century Fiction,” but I also found his “writing the BREAKOUT NOVEL Workbook” to be very useful.  If anyone has a chance to attend one of his seminars, do it.  You’ll be inspired, too.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on book two of the Chronicles of Eledon.  It’s with my editor now.  I also have drafts of the next two books in the series that are nearing completion.  I’m also toying with a memoir and considering a historical fiction novel.

What advice would you like to share with new or aspiring authors?

Rewriting can be one of the most creative aspects of writing.  I know there are some authors who hate it, but I love the process.  Sometimes, I come up with better ideas the second or third time around.

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Author Bio:

Joni was born in Chicago, Illinois, but her family moved to Japan so her father could pursue his dream of becoming a professional golfer.  Her dad achieved his dream and the family returned to the U.S., settling in Phoenix, Arizona.  Joni graduated from Camelback High School and attended Arizona State University until she dropped out and joined the Navy.  She completed a three-year hitch in Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey and got married to the love of her life.  At first, she followed her husband’s career and returned to college, attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an MBA.  A few years later after her husband’s retirement from the Navy, she returned as a commissioned officer, completing 22 years of active duty service.  While in the service, she also earned another Master’s degree, Master of Military Arts and Sciences, from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.  In 2001, her husband passed away and Joni went back to work for the federal government in a civil service job until she retired for a second time to devote her time to writing.

Connect with Joni Parker:

Buy Spell Breaker: The Chronicles of Eledon Book One:

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Categories: author interview, author of the week, fantasy | Tags: , , , , ,

Alternate Voices: Interview with Paul Trembling

Today’s guest is Paul Trembling, author and contributor to the Alternate Voices anthology, a compilation of short stories featuring characters from the DI Frank Lyle series. Proceeds from the sales of this collection go to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Alternate Voices is available on iTunesKoboNook, and Kindle. The book is also available in paperback.

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Welcome, Paul. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Only a little?  OK, I’ll try!

I’m just a few years short of 60, and for nearly all those years I’ve been making up stories.  I started before I could even write them down, and have never been able to shake the habit – though to be honest I’ve never tried!  When forced to exist in the real world, I’ve worked in a lot of places as a lot of things – seaman, missionary, janitor, storeman, admin. assistant and currently a CSI.

Along the way I became a husband, a father, a dog and chicken owner.  I enjoy walking, I like food, I hate DIY.  I’m a Christian, and that’s the whole basis of my live and my POV on the world.  But always and in everything, I’m a storyteller.

Can you tell us about your contribution to Alternate Voices?

I’m not hugely familiar with all of Juliet’s many books and characters, so I wasn’t sure at first how or where to start my contribution.  After some thought, I decided to work with D.I. Andrew Redfern – Juliet had mentioned that no one had yet used him, and as he is a Christian I thought that this would give me a good character point to build on.

But I also wanted to find a setting that I was comfortable with, so I decided to bring DI Redfern into my own fictional world.  Since officers often travel to other Force areas to work on cases that they are connected with, that was a viable scenario, and it also gave me the chance to bring in one of my characters, Ben Drummond.  Ben is an old-school Scenes Of Crime Officer, and is renowned for his cantankerous nature, so any story with him is bound to produce some interesting personality clashes!

With these parameters established, the rest of it fell into place quite easily.  A run down church gave an atmospheric setting.  The death – apparently by suicide – of the Pastor, found hanging from his pulpit was a powerful image to build the story on – though in the end this was only described in the past tense. The real story, as it developed, was in the past, for the deceased person was someone known and wanted by DI Redfern’s force, which was where he came in.

Enough said – I don’t want to give too much away!

Why did you decide to participate in the anthology?

The short answer is, because Juliet asked me to!  When the idea was originally being put round, I didn’t respond, as I didn’t think I’d have enough time to put something together.  However, it happened that when Juliet asked me directly I found that I actually had some unexpected time off, and since it is for such a good cause, I was very happy to be able to contribute.

Just for fun, which DI Lyle book is your favourite and why?

I don’t really have any favourites, so I can’t help you with that one!

Can you give us some information about your published works and how readers can find them?

I currently have two books out in the crime genre.  ‘A Pattern Of Murder’ is a collection of short stories, mostly featuring Ben Drummond.  It includes the prologue from my crime novel ‘Can of Worms’  Both are written from a Scenes Of Crime (or CSI, if you prefer) point of view, and are available online both as e-books (Kindle or most other platforms) or paperbacks.

Full details of these and my other books (as well as some free reading!) are on my website –





Categories: anthology, author interview, short stories | Tags: , , ,

Ebenezer Scrooge: Ghost Hunter


Ebenezer Scrooge: Ghost Hunter expands the original text of Charles Dicken’s classic with all-new scenes of malicious ghosts, soul devouring wraiths, deadly doppelgangers and other terrors from the netherworld. Our story opens seven years after Marley’s violent death. Ebenezer Scrooge has given up ghost hunting and embraced an inevitable slow death by alcohol poisoning. When the spectre of his deceased partner appears to him on Christmas Eve, Scrooge learns that he must face three Ghosts – one who will try to help him, one who will try to harm him and one that cannot be killed.

In a story that spans a lifetime of torment, Scrooge must face the demons of his past and his failures in the present in order to prevent the horror that is his future. The stakes for Scrooge’s soul have never been higher than in this wicked retelling of the classic, A Christmas Carol.

Interview with Jaqueline Kyle

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an adventure addict. I love to travel and push out of my comfort zone. I’ve bungee jumped, ran a marathon, and started a business. I’m always looking for challenges so I can overcome them. Particularly if they scare me. Writing fiction, soliciting reviews, opening myself up to criticism? That’s the current challenge!

When did you begin writing?

I’ve always written. I won a writing award in first grade when I could hardly hold a pencil. It was a gruesome little story for a six year old. It followed a litter of kittens escaping being drowned by a farmer and striking out to find their new homes. I illustrated it with crayons. Thankfully I no longer illustrate my own books!

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

It’s called Ebenezer Scrooge: Ghost Hunter and it’s a retelling of A Christmas Carol. The story is still about redemption, but Scrooge has different motivations and social hang ups. Plus there’s scary supernatural stuff. It was a delightful project because there are so many ghosts and creepy things in the original text! I think most readers will have trouble picking out where Dickens’ prose ends and mine begins.

How did you get the idea for the book?

I was wandering around a Dickens Fair (like a Renaissance Fair but set in the streets of London circa 1850). They were performing scenes from A Christmas Carol out in the crowd. When the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appeared, a woman was blocking the path for the performer, so he stood silent as death behind her. When someone finally nudged her, she turned and screamed bloody murder. It was fantastic. I went home thinking that A Christmas Carol was still very relevant today.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

The Ghost of Christmas Present is particularly sinister. He was the most challenging to write because in the original, he’s jovial and almost carefree. Re-reading the book now, he’s definitely become my favorite.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Retelling a beloved classic has peculiar challenges. How do you respect the characters and original author, but bring something new to the table? It’s rather presumptive to re-write Dickens – he’s amazing. I overcame the issue by sticking with the original style of tone and prose. That way the new content surprises and delights the reader and respects the legacy.

What is your primary goal as an author?

To write a good story. Writing makes me ridiculously happy. If I can tell a good story that other people enjoy, it just completes this circle of happiness.

What projects are you currently working on?

I started a community for aspiring writers and indie authors called Wordingly. I’ve spent the majority of my time lately creating how-to manuals and video tutorials for everything from ebook layout to marketing techniques. There’s such a learning curve when you’re trying to get your first book out. Wordingly is a collection of courses, best practices and community to help tear down that barrier.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Write the best story that you can. Most aspiring writers get scared of what people will think. They panic and stop writing. They self-sabotage the publishing process.  Embrace the fear and do it anyway!


Author Bio

Jaqueline Kyle once stood on top of an active nuclear reactor. It glowed. She dove the Great Barrier Reef and the fish swarmed to check HER out. On her 16th birthday she flew a plane solo – just to enjoy the view. She once ran a marathon – because it was faster than walking. When she bungee jumps, she always goes first, so her friends can jump off the bridge after her. Jaqueline Kyle is not the most interesting man in the world – because she’s a woman.

Connect with Jaqueline Kyle

Video Book Trailer:


Twitter (Scrooge):

Twitter (me):







Categories: author interview, blog tour, ghost story, horror | Tags: , , , ,

Interview with Laurel A. Rockefeller

Today’s guest is Laurel A. Rockefeller, author and historian. She’s here to speak with us about her numerous publications and the mind-blowing amount of research that goes into each work.

Great Succession Crisis Third Edition web

Hi Laurel, and welcome to Authors to Watch. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

Hello everyone!  I am author-historian Laurel A. Rockefeller.  I was born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA.  I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a bachelor of arts in writing, psychology, and history.  My first national publication was a sonnet called “Why Bilbo?” in 1991 with the American Tolkien Society.  I started writing professionally in 2011 when I began work on my first novel, “The Great Succession Crisis” (now in its third edition).  That book published on 12 August 2012.  Since that time I have published a total of twenty book titles across multiple non-fiction and fiction genres.  I also have two of my books out in Chinese translation and two are out on Audible thanks to the talents of British voice artist Richard Mann.

When did you begin writing?

I started as a singer-songwriter actually.  I had an especially violent childhood and I coped by making up songs.  As soon as I learned to read, I started pecking the lyrics to my songs out on my father’s typewriter.  Though I maintained a focus on my poetry until around the age of thirty, I spent my summers as a teen writing fan fiction novels to favourite science fiction television series.  Majored in writing with focus on stage and screen writing.  But I was under fierce family pressure to get a “real” job, especially upon graduation from university, so I stopped submitting scripts for production and started working any job I could find.  I continued to write as a hobby, but did not consider it a profession again until I lost my job in Manhattan right after the big crash of 2008. Even then I looked for “real” work and even started a couple small businesses which failed quickly.  Finally in March 2011 I felt I had nothing to lose by pursuing writing as a profession.  I took about a month working out the physical details and social structure for planet Beinan and the Peers of Beinan series was born!

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You’re a very versatile author. You write both fiction and non-fiction. Can you tell us about The Peers of Beinan Series and how you came up with the idea for it?

Like so many great science fiction and fantasy series, the Peers of Beinan Series was originally conceived as fan fiction.  In this case, I wanted to write prequel stories to the short-lived “Benji, Zax, and the Alien Prince” from 1983 which was my favourite show as a tween.  The original title of the series (which was supposed to be just one novel) was “Prince of Antars” and it was supposed to explore the character Trask and his relationship with both the royal family and with the evil Zanu.

My prince quickly became a princess though and Trask mutated into the very different Lord Knight Elendir (Ghosts of the Past).  Though there is of course a “revolution” like there is in BZAP, the Peers of Beinan Series bears very little resemblance to Benji, Zax, and the Alien Prince.  As a matter of fact the only detail I kept from that series really is the number 2.337 – the number of Beinarian shir-ors (hours) in one Earth day.

The Peers of Beinan Series itself is world building at its finest.  I literally built both the planet and the society from the ground up using what I considered the best elements from classic science fiction and fantasy and combining that with my history background.  Key influences include the Dune series by Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the original Star Trek series, Babylon 5, and the original Battlestar Galactica.  The idea for the heraldry came from a combination of my twenty years experience in the Society for Creative Anachronism and seeing heraldry used in the SciFi channel’s adaptation of Dune.

Who is your favorite character from this series and why?

Lord Knight Elendir.  He’s a very flawed hero.  In chapter one of “The Ghosts of the Past” both of his parents are murdered by terrorists and he grows up in the Ten-Arian monastery.  After he comes of age and becomes a knight, he begs his best friend Prince Kendric for permission to investigate his father’s death.  Along the way his youth and youthful bad judgement is used by the villains to sidetrack him from finding the truth about his father.  Through their manipulations he is also tricked into creating the very monster who kills most of the people he loves, including Kendric himself.  Elendir redeems himself in “Princess Anyu Returns” of course but it is his journey from reckless youth to wise sage that makes him so real and easy to relate to.

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20040828 021748 P3216 Luxembourg

Okay, let’s switch gears. I’m intrigued by The Legendary World of Women non-fiction series you’ve written? Can you please give my readers an idea of what this series entails?

The Legendary Women of World History Series explores the lives of women from across history who still touch ours today.  These are role models, women of great intelligence, courage, and conviction who made a real difference.

Each book is a short – from 30 to 80 pages plus extensive “suggested reading” bibliographies and usually other reference materials as well.  Most of the books have a timeline; Boudicca does not because we don’t have precise enough dates for most of the events in her life.

Unlike most biographies you’ve seen, these are creative non-fiction.  That is the content is strictly non-fiction but I use a fireside storytelling narrative format.  Reading or listening to these books is like sitting with your mother or grandmother and listening to a true story about something that happened to them or someone they knew.  It’s putting the story back into history with all its passion, humour, and drama.

People who detest non-fiction and history in particular LOVE these books.  And the best part:  the more times you read/listen to them, the more you learn.  I’m very concise.  You really cannot tell how much information is in these few short pages until around the fourth or fifteen reading/listening when it finally hits you!  It’s learning without effort while you are having fun.  Does it get any better?

What age group would most benefit from reading this series?

The reading level for the books is around the fourth grade – which is usually when most schools first introduce social studies to students.  But seriously the books are so carefully crafted and beautifully rendered that I think there’s something for absolutely everyone in them – no matter how old or young.  Instead of telling our children fairytales from the cradle, I think we should be reading/listening to these biographies.  True stories are the best kind.  Certainly as a child I preferred hearing a story that was true over something that was made up.

Kids in particular have razor sharp instincts when it comes to sugarcoating things or leaving out important information.  So while I respect that many parents and educators want to shield children from the parts of life that are unpleasant, I think we do children a disservice when we fail to be open and honest about history and current events.  We don’t have to be graphic (and I am careful not to be), but we do need to be honest with children about the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the past.

That said, in my experience and based on reviews across all four books adults actually learn from and appreciate better these books than children do.  They really are a great family bonding experience with something for everyone.  I put the equivalent of a university thesis into each one, so there’s always something new to learn each time you read/listen to the books.

What inspired you to write this series?

In early March 2014 I ran an informal poll asking Americans and British to name five to ten women from history as part of Women’s History month.  When less than 10% could do so, I found myself really upset.  But instead of fuming, I decided to do something about it.  Three weeks later I published Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni.  Two months after that, I posted Boudicca to ACX (Audible’s publishing platform) for audition.  Very fortunate that British voice artist Richard Mann decided to join ACX the very same day.  After listening to the auditions I received I chose Mr. Mann to narrate the audio edition which came out 9th September 2014.  Absolutely one of the best decisions in my life.

Which historical person have you enjoyed writing about the most?

You know that is really hard because I write about women whose stories really speak to me.  Boudicca is I think the most inspiring of the four women I’ve directly covered.  She achieved what very few people, female or male, have ever done in truly uniting Britain against a common enemy – even Winston Churchill was not quite as successful as Boudicca was, even with all his advantages like modern technology to aid him.

Catherine de Valois overcame tremendous adversity to become one of the most courageous of English queen consorts, right up there with the highly celebrated Eleanor of Aquitaine. After Henry V’s death on 31st August 1422 Dowager Queen Catherine defied an act of parliament and remarried for love, a love that ultimately led to the unification of England and Scotland 202 years after her birth.

Then you get into Queen Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth Tudor, two of some of the most fascinating and celebrated women of all time.  Like most of you, I thought I knew who these women were before I started only to discover that I was gravely mistaken there.  The real women I met sing and dance through the pages in ways I certainly have never seen or heard done before. Literally. The pages of Mary Queen of the Scots and Queen Elizabeth Tudor: Journey to Gloriana are filled with period music.  Chapter one of QET opens with “Sumer Is Icumen In” in Middle English which was actually one of the first medieval songs I ever learned to sing – along with “Greensleeves” which Queen Mary sings as a lullaby to her son James.  The music and dance really make the two interlacing biographies a lot of fun!

Queen Elizabeth Tudor web

Which book required the most research?

It’s a tie between Mary Queen of the Scots and Queen Elizabeth Tudor.  With MQS I had to start from the very beginning – with ancient Scotland and then move forward from there.  You see that research reflected in the opening poem to the book called “Of Scotland Forgotten.”

Woe to thee, oh Scotland

Our Pictish mothers’ tears like highland rain

For the queens of old are forgotten

Their valour now seen as depraved.

Where is your love for your queens

For Picts and Scots, Gaels and Brigantes?

For fair Mary your queen — cast aside

And praised instead the Puritan’s hateful hand.

You drove the fairest queen far away

To die disgraced on an English axe

Spilling the fairest and most Scottish blood of all.

And with her died the Scottish heart: brave and free.

With Elizabeth I used more sources.  Part of that was there is so much out there about Elizabeth that there are a lot of contradictions to sort through.  Not everything you read about Elizabeth is accurate (that applies to all the subjects of the LWWH, but especially toward Elizabeth) and there is a lot of commentary and opinions.  So of course when I see disagreement, I have to do a lot of sifting to find the consensus and ultimately decide what really happened.

On average, how much time do you spend researching each book?

On average a book takes from two to four months.  Research is about 80-90% of each book, so it’s very time intensive.  The results of course speak for themselves.  The research shows in the quality of each biography.

Chromolithography : second part of the 19th century A portrait of Christine de Pisan, a italo-french lady from the 15th century known for her high intelligence and knowledge

Chromolithography : second part of the 19th century
A portrait of Christine de Pisan, a italo-french lady from the 15th century known for her high intelligence and knowledge

What’s next for this series?

Next is Empress Wu Zetian which actually was intended to be the third book.  That plan shifted with the audio release of “Catherine de Valois” two months ahead of schedule and the need to have another book ready for audio production at Richard Mann’s convenience.

For those who have never heard of her, Empress Wu was the only woman to rule China completely in her own right.  She lived in from 655-683 CE, ruling as part of the Tang dynasty.  She was bright, highly educated, and very wise. She patronized both arts and sciences including and especially agricultural sciences.  The perception by most Chinese that the Tang dynasty was a golden age is largely due to her wisdom and able governing and the intellectual flowering that came through her policies.  Though we probably do not think about it, there is not a life born in the last one thousand years who is not touched in some way by her courage and wisdom.

Can you tell us about other books you’ve written?

To date I have published twenty titles across four book series. Two of those are flash fiction and forever free on Smashwords, iTunes, and Barnes/Noble.  “American Poverty: Why America’s Treatment of the Poor Undermines Its Authority As A World Power” took me out of my comfort zone as I explored the relationship between poverty, public policy, and foreign policy, a topic raised by Russia’s recent aggressions towards the Ukraine and America’s inability to dissuade Vladimir Putin from continuing to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty. It’s a powerful book grounded in data collected from top sources like Forbes, CNN Money, the New York Times, and American Express.  Best of all it’s completely free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

By contrast “Preparing for My First Cockatiel” takes me into one of my favourite subjects in the world:  BIRDS.  Probably the first thing anyone learns about me personally is my love and adoration for birds, especially my cockatiels Mithril and Arwen who are the joy of my life.  I always have my birds close to me and feel their absence intensely if I’m away from home for any length of time.  I’m very dedicated to my birds and that shows in the book.  In this book I explore everything a new or potential bird owner needs to know before taking home your first bird with focus on the specific needs of cockatiels. I look at proper housing for your birds (primary, hospital, and travel cages), play spaces, toys, food, food dishes, and beyond.  Plus I share my thirty five years experience living with and loving these birds with personal stories and lots of photos so you get a clear idea what you are getting yourself into when you decide to add cockatiels to your family.

And then of course we hit the bulk of my book titles in the Peers of Beinan and Legendary Women of World History which we’ve touched upon just a little.  The Peers of Beinan really does have something for every taste.  The universe is grounded in science and in classic science fiction, integrating the ideas I feel really work (like units of time, distance, and physical details unique to planet Beinan) and avoiding the things I really think do not work  –  like Earth references when you are not on Earth. Beinarian society is a futuristic feudal culture (a Frank Herbert influence) grounded in my knowledge of British history.  You encounter heritage weapons (like crossbows) and modern weapons (like laser épées).  The Poisoned Ground is social science fiction ripped right from the headlines:  the story of an environmental disaster triggered by corporate greed and government corruption takes Lady Abbess Cara away from the safety of the Ten-Arian monastery as she investigates the real cause of the sudden plague of cancers attacking the city of Nan-li.  It’s a powerful story with important messages that resonate right here on Earth.

Finally I would like to call everyone’s attention to the second LWWH biography, “Catherine de Valois.”  Princess Catherine is not the household name that Boudicca, Queen Mary Stuart, and Queen Elizabeth Tudor are, but she should be.  Born in 1401 to King Charles VI of France and Queen Isabeau of Bavaria, she survived her father’s mental illness, a civil war at home, and King Henry V’s vicious war with France to become one of the most courageous of English queen consorts.  She lived at the heart of some of the most violent and turbulent events in French-English history in an environment that would normally crush the spirit of most people.  I am very proud of the audio edition.  My narrator Richard Mann went outside of his comfort zone to sing in Medieval Latin in the book, expertly performing in English, French, Latin, and German.  It’s a beautiful audiobook that deserves more attention than it’s received since its release in May.

Is there a particular period of time you find most fascinating that you haven’t written about yet?

I’ve always loved medieval history. So I’m looking forward to working on the biography of Empress Matilda of England (daughter of Henry I and mother-in-law to Eleanor of Aquitaine) who was the first woman to claim the throne of England in her own right. Queen Emma, wife of Canute, is another woman from the medieval period I would love to cover.

If you could go back in time to a certain setting and time period, what would be your first choice?

Well if I could go back and change history, I would certainly go back to the year 59 CE and warn Boudicca that the Romans were going to murder Prasutagus and perhaps help prepare her better for what the Roman strategy would be.  The entire fate of Britannia rested on ONE military decision.  Boudicca believed so strongly in the rightness of her cause (which most of us would agree with  –  freedom and equality for all people over the slavery, racism, and sexism of the Romans) that she was blind to the trap set for her by Governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus.

If I were going back in time just to observe, I think I would like to be a lady in waiting to Anne Boleyn, both as a young woman in the French court and through her adventures and misadventures back in England which, sadly, eventually cost her life.

If you could sit down to dinner with five historical figures, who would you choose?

Anne Boleyn, Queen Mary Stuart, Alan Turing, Margaret Thatcher, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring writers?

There is no substitute for experience. The more you know, the more of the world you see and experience first-hand, and the more you write, the better your writing will be.  Imagination is great, but you have to ground your work in FACTS.  When I write, I always assume that the people reading my work know more about a given topic than I do.  That’s important grounding and it’s served me VERY WELL professionally.  I’ve had numerous academic challenges from scientists, historians, you name it!  And I’ve passed all these challenges because I’ve been very careful to be accurate in my work.  You cannot shortcut this and you certainly will never write your first book as you will your twentieth.

There’s a learning curve to all of this and you must approach this craft and this profession humbly, especially when marketing your finished work.  Remember that you are your brand.  So be careful to conduct yourself online in a way that positively reflects on your work.  If they like you, they will buy your books. Be likeable!

2004 Halloween

To learn more about Laurel A. Rockefeller, please visit the following links:

Social media:

Buying Links:
The Legendary Women of World History Series
Boudicca — kindle
Catherine de Valois — kindle
Mary Queen of the Scots
Queen Elizabeth Tudor
The Peers of Beinan
Goodbye A672E92 Quintus
The First King (forever free)
The Poisoned Ground
The Great Succession Crisis
The Ghosts of the Past
Princess Anyu Returns
The Legacy of Princess Anlei (boxed set)
The Complete Series (boxed set)
Preparing for My First Cockatiel
A New Start In the Niobrara for Mr. and Mrs. O’Malley (forever free)
American Poverty: Why America’s Treatment of the Poor Undermines Its Authority As A World Power


Categories: author interview, fantasy, history, non-fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Interview with Roselyn Jewell

Welcome to Authors to Watch! Can you tell us a little about yourself? 

My name is Roselyn. I’m happily married and have kids as well. I decided to take the plunge and self-publish through Amazon last year.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. I was probably about five years old when I first attempted to write a story!

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Sure, my most recent book is unFocused, which is #1 in a YA Dystopian series. It takes place in a world where the population has been massively depleted and the government has taken control of everything, including who you can date or marry, where you live, and what job you have.

How did you get the idea for the book?

I don’t totally remember now, but it stemmed from thinking about a society where the government controls everything and every single aspect of your life is highly organized and planned out for you and it just sort of went from there.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

That’s a hard question! I really relate to a few of my characters. If I had to pick, I’d say Kate from Coffee, Love, and Other Stimulants is my favorite because her personality is the closest to my own.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Coming up with a completely new and unique society and then filling in all the little details for it.

What is your primary goal as an author?

To provide enjoyment and an escape from reality for my readers.

What projects are you currently working on?

Book two of the YA Dystopian series 🙂

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

The first step is simply finishing a complete story. It doesn’t have to be long or complex, just get it out there first. Then go from there 🙂

About Roselyn Jewell:
I’m an author, a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and so much more! I’ve always loved reading and found myself wanting to continue the stories I loved so much, which is how I started writing. Now I’ve finally reached my dream of being published. My novels are mainly romance, though there are a lot of other elements as well. My books prove that you can have the romance and the passion without having to sacrifice great plot lines or strong character personalities.
Connect with Roselyn:
Categories: author interview, romance | Tags: , ,

Interview with Viv Drewa

Today’s guest is a very special person. Viv Drewa is an author, a blogger, and a friend to authors everywhere. She’s here to speak with us about her books. Let’s all give a warm welcome to Viv!

from the pages of grandfathers life (2)

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer but didn’t get support from my family. I studied medicinal chemistry at the University of Michigan but, as they say, life happened.  I worked as a Pharmacy Tech for 25 years, then moved up north and got a job as a senior customs agent. Then were the cuts because of the economy and did some sewing from my home. Then I decided to try my hand at writing.

When did you begin writing?

In 2013. I came up with a couple ideas and started on them.

Are you self-published or traditionally published? What has been your experience with publishing, and have you considered other publishing options?

At first I tried getting an agent and while working on my second book decided to go the Indie route.

sipan lord4

Can you tell us about The Owl of Sipan Lord? How did you get the idea for the book?

This was my favorite book to write. Once I decided the profession of the female protagonist I started doing research. After two weeks I was able to get enough information to plan the story.

This also takes place in South America, Peru, at an archaeological dig. This is my first paranormal book.

angler and the owl

Can you tell us about The Angler and the Owl and how you came up with the idea for this novel?

My love of owls inspired this book, as well as my love for the Amazon River. I couldn’t figure out who would be the male protagonist until I was watching River Monsters and decided to model John Sinclair after the host of the show, Jeremy Wade.

Owls seem to be a recurring theme in your books. Have you always been interested in owls? 

Yes, since I was three. My favorite is the American Barn Owl because their face plate is shaped like a heart.

In addition to being a novelist, you’re also a regular blogger. Can you tell us about your blogs?

My blogs support my fellow authors. I post their interviews, new releases, cover releases and anything to help get their name out there. I also post articles about tips for writing.

What projects are you currently working on?

My WIP is The Midnight Owl and is a paranormal murder mystery. This will be my first series and I’m planning on releasing it later this summer. Since I wasn’t able to get enough information about police procedures in South America this book takes place in my hometown.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Read! Get to know the genre you’re interested in writing and get to know what’s out there.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. For The Owl of the Sipan Lord I contacted a well known archaeologist because I wasn’t able to find something I needed. He sent me a couple references.

With my WIP I contacted our local medical examiner with questions about the murder. We spoke on the phone and he was also very helpful.

viv drewa

To learn more about Viv Drewa, please visit the following links:

From the Pages of Grandfather’s Life (short story):  

The Owl of the Sipan Lord:

The Angler and the Owl eBook on  

I’ve contributed to several editions of this anthology. These ebooks are always free.

Ashtrays to Jawbreakers, 1 Smashwords

Ashtrays to Jawbreakers, 2 Smashwords

Ashtrays to Jawbreakers, Christmas Edition Smashwords

Ashtrays to Jawbreakers, 4 Smashwords


Categories: adventure books, author feature, author interview, non-fiction, short stories, short story | Tags: , , , ,

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