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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh Meat Year by Terri Klaes Harper

The long awaited sequel to Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages is here! Several months ago when this blog was in its infancy I posted the review. I will add here that Terri is also my sister. I have been watching her write her entire life, since she first picked up a writing utensil. Today, I bring you the sequel, Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh Meat Year.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh Meat Year by Terri Klaes Harper is an intoxicating sequel. Drew Hotchner as the story's protagonist is completely unaware that she is a fantastic role model for young adults who fight
the usual battle of boys, fitting in ‘being part of the “A” crowd’, drugs, and eating disorders. She is simply a young girl finding out life one step at a time. She has a great family; her parents are a little kooky and her older sister jumps from one end of the big sister I dislike you spectrum to the other. All in all they are a solid family unit, and the backbone of her strong decision making process. In book one she discovered who true friends are. This same group of slightly dysfunctional but utterly lovable misfits are still prevalent in her life. As a group they stumble upon all the usual teenage drama, and manage their way around it, although not without some laughter and second guessing.

Terri Klaes Harper has done a phenomenal job with the time period, and the location chosen of this charming series. Drew is a product of the 1990’s before cell phones and tablets. When Nirvana was hitting their climax as performing artists, and MTV actually played music videos. It is the days of grunge, and in Florntaylor Virginia, Drew’s home, mullets are prevalent, along with homemade cut off sleeves and a few other surprises I won’t divulge. She paints a picture so vivid the reader can’t help but chuckle inwardly or outwardly, as I caught myself doing on several occasions. Fresh Meat Year is a page turner so be expected to have the book glued to your eyes until it’s finished.

Fresh Meat year is a highly addicting and laughter contagious read.


Just two and a half weeks earlier, right around this time, my best friends Adrienne, Nadine, Carmen, Anne, Shane, and I had been eating lunch at Joey’s Pizza Palace after returning to town from seeing Terminator 2 in Remington, and were hatching our plan for kicking off our high school years.  This was the group that had adopted me in when I moved 3,000 miles from Burnthill, California to Florntayor, Virginia.  Both towns were nothing but specs on their respective state maps, but they were separate planets to me.  I had quickly alienated myself from the popular crowd, then been almost reluctantly dragged at least partially into it, only to then make yet another conscious effort to turn my back on the shallow back-stabbers.  In so doing, I had gained and then lost Violet, a former friend who now despised me.  But this crew stood by me through all of it, and Shane had started hanging out with Adrienne, Nadine, and me over the summer, since we were all sort of stuck in the same neighborhood of dirt roads miles outside of town.  He had lived out of state with his mom during most of middle school and the two of us had never met before.  I could tell he had a huge crush on Adrienne, but she pretended not to notice.

That had been an interesting meeting of the minds:  
“I don’t think the all black thing is such a good idea,” Nadine said thoughtfully.

“Yeah, it’ll still be hot on the first day of school, and we’ll look so morbid,” offered Carmen, using one of her new favorite words.  “I heard the school was locked up over the summer for asbestos removal.”

“No, weirdo, I mean, we are starting our career as high-schoolers, and I don’t think we should make ourselves look bad from the start.”  Nadine rolled her eyes a little as she said this, ignoring the additional comment.  Sometimes Carmen’s ditziness was a bit much for the genius of Nadine. 

“Besides that, we’ve kinda done that already,” I pitched into the conversation, referring to our all-black day the previous year, and added, “And I heard there was too much asbestos to actually clean out so they decided four years of exposure was acceptable.” I didn’t quite agree with Nadine’s judgment in ignoring such an interesting topic.

“Yeah, and so many of the kids are already smokers that they figured their lungs were already ruined,” added Anne. 

Carmen seemed genuinely concerned as she asked, “But what about all the kids who don’t graduate in four years?”

“Most of them just end up dropping out anyway, so it all evens out,” I answered.

Silence took over our corner booth for about thirty seconds.

 We had strayed from the original conversation, much to Nadine’s focused dismay, so Adrienne brought us back.  “You are all thinking about this way too much.  I just thought it’d be cool to do something to show a little individuality and let people know we don’t care what they think or about being all pretty or whatever.  We’re about to start high school.”  She paused, and when no one reacted, she added, “But do whatever you want.  I’m not limiting this to the first day.  This is me now.”  It was true.  Even in the hot and humid temperatures of August, Adrienne had taken to wearing all black, even long sleeves sometimes, letting her hair get mussed up, and ripping even more holes into her jeans.  The one exception was her version of the t-shirts we had designed earlier that summer that read, “If you don’t smoke, I won’t fart,” in permanent marker. 

“But, I do sort of want to be pretty,” admitted Anne.  “I don’t want to be like everybody else either, but I want to wear makeup, and I don’t want to be on any teacher’s bad side right away.”

“If we plan to be unique in order to show how much of ourselves we are, are we really being ourselves?  It’s cool for you, Adrienne, because this really is you.  Not all of us pull it off naturally.  Let’s just each do what we’re comfortable with.”  I had recently noticed my face breaking out more than usual, and I was not about to leave my house without makeup.  Stupid puberty and hormones.  Besides that, most of us were standing somewhere between glam rock, heavy metal, and The Cure, musically speaking, and we weren’t ready to commit solely to any one style.  There were too many choices.

“You’re all beautiful as you are, so do your thing,” added Shane.

“Which one of us are you kissing up to, Shane?” Anne laughed as she nudged him, but his eyes were focused on Adrienne the whole time.  Poor Anne.  Apparently she’d had a crush on Shane since elementary school and was the most excited when she found out he had moved back from Maryland, finding every chance she could to come hang out at my house or Adrienne’s since he lived right by our road. 

Anne wasn’t completely off base either.  Shane was cute.  Not gorgeous, but cute.  He was tall, had brown eyes and was a ginger, but we didn’t really use that term then.  I just wished he’d clean his hair more often.  He was easy to get along with, but quiet.  Maybe he was easy to get along with because he was quiet.

And so it was settled at Joey’s Pizza Palace.  Nothing out of our own ordinary, which for most of us was…well…ordinary.

Interview with Terri:
Elle: Tell a little about yourself.

Terri: But there’s so much to tell.  My life has been split into fairly equal parts in three states: California, Virginia, and
now Florida, giving me a unique perspective of the variations of the US.  My husband and I just celebrated our fourteenth anniversary and have now lived in our small town, close to the ocean, Florida home for ten years, but I’m always willing to uproot if the right opportunity comes along… and I love to travel. I've been in or traveled through almost forty states, I think, spent a lovely vacation in Italy, and have now been on almost three mission trips, one in Costa Rica, and one in Guatemala, where I will return this summer. Four years ago, for the first time in my life, I started running, not because I thought it would be fun, but to help raise money and awareness to fight human trafficking. 
I have worked my share of retail, especially while going to school, been a pre-school teacher, and a high school English teacher. I like teenagers better.  They make such interesting subjects to study. I guess I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, since apparently I am supposed to do that at some point. 
I’m a confusing mix of laid back and OCD.  I can spend hours reading a book in my hammock, but only once I know all my responsibilities are done.  Sadly, I haven’t been in that hammock much lately. Oh, and I’m a highly functional introvert.

Elle: What can you tell us about Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh-meat Year?

Terri: My protagonist Drew is “fresh meat,” aka, a freshman. Now that she’s a bit older, she experiences some more serious matters, but I’ve kept her humor in tact.  I personally feel humor makes the tough parts of life more bearable. She still has her quirky friend Adrienne by her side, but new characters are also introduced, a very important one being a new crush who causes her endless confusion. Music is still important to Drew’s crew, so be prepared to relive the music of 1991-1992, including the introduction of grunge. Drew already learned she just needs to be herself, but since she’s still a kid, she has much to learn about who that is. I think I had more fun writing this sequel than the original.  I love them both, but I really feel, though I may have put less of my actual personal experiences into this one, I have improved in the arts of creation and actual writing skill.  I am pleased and excited to see how others feel.

Elle: What is your inspiration for the Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl series?

Terri: It started with a thought about how famous people who have lived extraordinary lives often write a memoir (more than one if they are really interesting people). Then I pondered what it would be like for an ordinary person to write a memoir.  Why bother, right? What if there wasn’t anything significant to write about, but just an ordinary life everyone could relate to?  Then the title popped into my head and I just had to sit down and begin.  Before I knew what I was doing, I was flashing back to my own experiences as an ordinary girl growing up in the late ‘80s- early ‘90s crossover period. These books are not real memoirs, but they might be a bit autobiographical, or at least somewhat inspired by my real experiences and acquaintances.

Elle: How long have you been writing?

Terri: I’ve been writing pretty much since I learned how.  I remember scrawling out stories way back when I still had to use the huge elementary school paper with the dotted lines for guiding penmanship. My penmanship was always (and still is) awful, but my imagination and storytelling were always sharpening. 

Elle: Who is your favorite author?

Terri: As a literature major, I’m a bit of a classic book nerd, and I really do enjoy Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, but my two absolute favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, a book with the most creative and beautiful imagery I’ve ever read.

Elle: What was the greatest challenge you faced with publishing your work?

Terri: Oh, my!  Trying to figure it all out.  Should I self publish or go the traditional route?  How long could that take? Do I have that kind of patience?  Then once I went with self-publishing I discovered that being a writer also means self promoting.  I was not ready for that part, and that is now my greatest challenge. No matter how great a book is, if nobody knows it exists, it will sadly go unread.

Elle: Do you have any advice for inspiring authors? 

Terri: Yes, or at least I hope it will be inspiring.  I went through a dry season in my own writing because I let life get in the way and gave in to the lie that I didn’t have time to write- and because I felt overwhelmed and afraid. If you love to write, do it daily, at least in some form. If you’re truly a writer and you’re not writing, you won’t feel complete.  Don’t let life get in the way; instead, use it as a guide.  And don’t get overwhelmed or be afraid.  Sure, the true monetary success rate of the average writer is small, but even if you only touch one person by your words, you have succeeded. And read. Read. Read.

Elle: Describe yourself in three words.

Terri: Witty, creative, and compassionate

Elle: Any respectable Terri Klaes Harper fan knows you have two Australian shepherds that are bursting with personality. Please share a silly story or predicament, one or both the dogs have gotten into?

Terri: There are so many little stories, but my favorite is about Dylan, a few months before we adopted his baby sister, Mara Jade (named after Luke Skywalker’s wife). Shepherds have an instinct to herd anything that seems to be moving out of “the herd.”  Dylan had been allowed as a guest at our young neighbor’s birthday party, where he had swiped a hotdog right out of my hand on a run-by and met many of her fellow Girl Scout friends.  A few months later, there was a Girl Scout sleepover next door and the girls were up and outside early in the morning. Robert, my husband, was going to take Dylan out but thought he should wait till the girls went back in, but once they spotted him, they begged for Dylan to come outside.  So, Robert warned them not to run, to which they all promised they would not.  However, once the very happy fifty-five pound dog began barreling towards the group of girls, it seems they all forgot their promises and scattered in all directions.  Dylan may never get to herd cows or sheep on any farms, but he was glorious at herding those Girl Scouts, and he brought them all into a circle in just a few dashes around them.  Sure, there was screaming and possibly a few real tears shed, but in the end, nobody was injured and Dylan experienced his proudest moment that morning.

Elle: You are also an advocate against human trafficking. Why do you fight this battle and what organizations have you worked with?

Terri: No human being has the right to own another human being. I fight this battle because it’s the fastest growing illegal trade in the world and there are an estimated 27+ million people enslaved around the world, including right here in the U.S.  These people are tricked into it, sold by “loved ones,” and taken advantage of because of poverty. Many are women and children.  It just absolutely breaks my heart.  My favorite organization is Love 146 (love146.org), but there are many other amazing organizations fighting this atrocity as well. This just happens to be the one that first pulled my heart strings, and so Robert and I have participated in a few 200-mile running team relays to fundraise and raise awareness. I’m not done working for this cause and hope to do much more possibly including Australian shepherds, because they make excellent therapy dogs. 

Where to find Terri and Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl:
Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh-meat Year on Amazon 
Create Space

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How To Date Dead Guys Cover Reveal

Introducing How to Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser an exciting new adult urban fantasy novel.

College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice:  “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”.  But when charming Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters. 

Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back.  Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell.  The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury.  As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn't the only one.  

Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a desperate victim determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand…at first.  More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows.  Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.
Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will ignite the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Artful Blog Tour

Book Blurb for Artful by Wilbert Stanton 

New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.

Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.

On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.

Wilbert Stanton was born and raised in New York City. From an early age, Wilbert decided he would either write books or take over the world; everything else was just a precursor to his end game. Along the way, he has studied Psychology, English, and Computer Science. He's held jobs in a wide range of fields and met people from all walks of life. Wilbert is constantly learning and growing as a person, in order to solidify his dreams. In the end world domination was a bit tedious, so he decided to focus on writing books.

Interview with Wilbert
Elle: Tell a little about yourself.

Wilbert: Well it’s always hard for me to talk about myself. If you ask my fiancĂ© or parents, they’ll tell you how I’m this amazing, talented person, who can do anything when he puts his mind to it. But the reality is I see myself as a simple guy, with big dreams and a bigger imagination. I can often be quiet and aloft, or the life of the party, it really depends on what side of the bed I get up on. I love reading, writing, watching TV and movies. I also have a passion for candy, but that’s a story for me and my belly alone.  

Elle: What can you tell us about The Artful?

Wilbert: The Artful is my debut novel. It is in every way my first child, it fills me with great pride, and keeps me up at night. I love it, even though it drives me crazy sometimes. It’s a pretty straight forward story, after a virus wipes out half the population, New York City has become a quarantined, post-apocalyptic savage land. Each borough is ruled by an empire that runs his/her land in ways that take specific cues from different genres I am fond of. But I feel that the true heart of the story is the friendship between the two main characters, Twist and Dodger. Friends who are at one point inseparable, but eventually grow apart as life gets in the way. That is always a story I wanted to tell, as my friends and I have grown older and apart.

Elle:  What was your inspiration for The Artful?

Wilbert: The Artful was inspired by a number of things, most obvious would be the Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist. Growing up my sister would watch the musical at least four times a week. It was a story we knew well. As I got older I found the character of Dodger really interesting. I liked how this dangerous street kid took innocent Oliver under his wing and tried to corrupt him, while introducing him to a world of thievery. Meanwhile Oliver manages to retain his innocence. I always wished there could have been more to that relationship though. So I took those characters and their circumstances and made them more than what they were, honest to god friends. 
The friendship the two boys share however, comes from my personal life. The two characters are also based closely on the bond me and my childhood best friend had, before we became adults, and slaves to our jobs. He was a very uninhibited person, who spoke before he thought, and turned everything into a game. Meanwhile I was very shy and quiet at the time, often tasked with cleaning up after his messes. We were quite mischievous, but it was all in good fun. I find that those are the times I miss dearly and it definitely made itself present when I was coming up with this story.
Lastly the setting was inspired by a dream I had. New York was ruled by street gangs, who fought over medical supplies, because in this dark future meds were power. There was one gang in particular who were known for being the best, until they were caught by government officials who blackmailed them into something… that’s pretty much all I remembered of the dream. 
All these ingredients mixed up perfectly to create this book, and I have to say I couldn’t be prouder.

Elle: Tell us a little about any other works you have published or will be publishing.

Wilbert: The Artful is actually my first big step into the publishing world. I am currently working on an ambitious project called Cabin at the End of the World. It’s the story I always dreamed of writing. Having grown up a huge fan of movies like The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Legend, and so on. I have always wanted to write a fantastic story filled with magic and adventure. I feel that Cabin will fill that itch. Using elements of fantasy, fairy tale, steam punk, Greek and Norse mythology is definitely a tall order to fill, but it seems to be coming along nicely.  

Elle:  How long have you been writing and how did you get into it?

Wilbert: I have been writing for as long as I can remember, yup, we all say that don’t we? But it’s true, I’ve always had stories I wanted to tell, and I’ve always wanted to
write  them down. The other day I actually found something my mother kept. I must have written it when I was very young because the letters were all very big, and sloppily written across the pages with crayon. It was about a pirate and a monster. It made little sense. But my mom kept it, as if it were a great story to be proud of. That being said, I think my mother was a large part of what got me into writing. I had the imagination, but she brought the encouragement. 

Elle: What inspires your writing?

Wilbert: I am inspired by other books, movies, and video games. When I am not actually writing, a large amount of my time is devoted to those mediums. Anything fantastic, and out of this world will have my imagination going. However, I am mostly inspired by my real life events. Things I’ve gone through growing up, things I wished would have went differently, or I could have acted out differently if I were another person. The characters I write about are usually the people I wish I could have been.

Elle:  If a fiction writer, are any of your novels based on events in your life?

Wilbert: As I said before, most of my writing is based on life events. Mostly events that happened during my teenage years. I was very quiet and painfully shy back then. So I often feel like I missed out on a lot. The characters and situations that sit at the heart of my stories are usually based on those past events. Whether it be how I would have preferred the situation to play out, or exactly how it played out… mixed into fantasy or sci-fi worlds, of course.

Elle:  What was the greatest challenge you faced with publishing your work?

Wilbert: Getting published is hard. I always thought that actually writing and editing would be the hard part. But god, it might have been the easiest. Especially with this being my debut novel, all the ins and outs of publishing were new to me. Lots of times it felt like I was just a foolish wannabe writer wandering into a world I had no right to be in. The countless rejections, and critiques were always disheartening. But I guess for all of those, there was always that positive note from an agent or editor who said how much potential my story had. Then comes the rewrites, because you are never confident your story is perfect yet, there is always one more thing you have to fix. The cringe of apprehension after you realized you forgot to add something after you sent it off for review, is always rather nerve wrecking. Trying to get published is definitely not something for the light of heart, and easily offended. You have to have thick skin, and completely believe in yourself to never give up no matter what you hear. In the end I was lucky enough to find Curiosity Quills, and they have been nothing but stellar, they’ve lead me through the process and held my hand. They have helped me bring my work to life and for that I am forever grateful. 

Elle:  Do you have a favorite author or book?

Wilbert: My favorite book often changes from time to time. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and 14 by Peter Clines are currently at the top of my list. My favorite author is Neil Gaiman, I remember waiting in line for five hours to get his autograph, I planned all these amazing things to say to him, that would obviously make him want to be best friends… at least Facebook friends if anything. When I reached the front of the line I experienced being star struck for the first time in my life, and barely managed to blurt out a “hi”, before shaking his hand and being shuffled off.  

Elle: Describe yourself in three words.

Wilbert: Awesome, damn awesome!

Elle:  Do you have any advice for inspiring authors?

Wilbert: When I was struggling to find time to finish this book, I read a comment on one of the writing groups I frequent. Someone said, “It takes as long as it takes, until you give up or succeed.” That always stuck with me, especially when it comes to writing and publishing. This business isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. As long as you are willing to go in for the long haul you will succeed.

Where to find Wilbert

Where to buy Artful
Amazon U.K. 
Barnes & Noble

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Interview with John Tucker author of Divisive and many other shocking tales...

Today, I bring you John Tucker. An author I have only recently met. His witty personality makes makes him an all to lovable friend. I couldn't not add him to the other fabulous authors that grace The Troubled Oyster. Drum roll...


Elle: Tell a little about yourself.

John: I'm a Gemini. I love Margaritas on the beach. I'm looking for a woman who....oh...wait....wrong interview.   :-P   Okay, I had an average childhood. Usual teenaged years. Three  marriages that fizzled out. A pair of semi-wonderful sons. Two jobs where I spent a combined thirty years of soul-sucking hell at.  Became a writer.
 Happiness??? Maybe.  John D. Tucker – Damn glad you met me.    :-)

Elle: You plan on releasing several books this year. I think that is an amazing feat so I’m curious how is this possible? 

John: It's a secret only me and John Dizon knows.   :-)   I've already released The Seventh Seal (Book 3 of my Bemused and Bedeviled Series). By the end of July, The Wisdom of Lunatics (a hostage drama)and eTernalMates (a quirky romance) should be released. After that, Vergene (my follow-up erotica novel) and The Little Girl Who Cried at Midnight (sequel to The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight) should be pubbed by October.  After that, I'll try to get Chasing the Fox (the sequel to Romancing the Fox) in by the end of the year.     Because of writers block, It's not unusual for me to have 2-3 projects going at once. I try to get a chapter done every day, more if it's starting to flow good for me. If writing isn't an option, I edit previous chapters or chart out an outline for a new book. You've heard of ABC (Always Be Closing). In my case, It's ABW (Always be writing).   

Elle: How long have you been writing?

John: This June makes it five years. Romancing was the first novel I wrote after a 25 year layoff from high school.  It was a wreck, so I went to a few writing classes and joined an internet workshop that helped me immensely.  I wrote Divisive next and pubbed it, then re-worked Romancing the Fox to where it was publishable.  Since then, I've released seven more novels over the last three years.

Elle: As a long time Georgia native, are you a Bulldog fan?

John: I'm a Georgia Tech fan foremost, but I do root for the Dawgs unless they're playing Tech. Now, if I'm in the same room with a Bulldog fan,  despite being quiet and reserved usually, I tent to be loud and obnoxious on purpose just to keep on the same playing field as them.   By the way, Do you know why the Dawg's Sanford Stadium has natural grass?   So the cheerleaders can graze at halftime.  :-)

Elle: As a fiction writer, are any of your novels based on events in your life?

John: Every novel I write will have a factual event or something I witnessed over the years. In my soon-to-be-published novel – eTernalMates  - I had one of the main characters go out on a date with a stranger who was kind of kooky. At the end of the night, she looks for a coupon in her oversized purse to help with a restaurant bill.  After looking in the stuffed purse for a few minutes she starts taking out things in order to aid her search -  a box of condoms, body oils, leopard-fur handcuffs, and a bottle of douche. Then she triumphantly holds up the coupon with a big smile on her face. Yeah, this actually happened to me as a teenager. I was embarrassed but I forgave her later, if you know what I mean.

Elle:  What was the greatest challenge you faced with publishing your work?

John:  Formatting it to Amazon's standards and finding a suitable cover for it– either cheaply or free were the big two. Collecting Book Reviews for my novels also continue to be a hurdle for me.

Elle: Do you have a favorite author or book?

John: I'll read anything by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Jakes. King and Koontz are the best in their genre and Jakes' epic historical fiction novels are so realistic you feel you were there – be they westerns, about the American Revolution, or the Civil War.  I also have a dozen Indie faves that I'm featuring in my blog over the next few months.

Elle: Describe yourself in three words.

John: Humorous, Dependable, Helpful

Where to find this amiable, jovial man:

John is a man of varying genres, a little something for everyone. here are just a few...


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

El Mosaico 3 by Michael Panush, anything but run-of-the-mill

A while back I read and shared a review on Dead Man's Drive by Michael Panush. I have now a second of his books El Mosaico Hellfire. His style and imagination are on of a kind. There is nothing traditional about the world's that become his novels. For reader's everywhere who enjoy a fantastic story that will get the brain churning in creativity than Michael Panush is the author who can do that.

 El Mosaico: Hellfire by Michael Panush is a tale of the old west, although not the old west we have read in the past nor has this west ever been conveyed in the movies. The closest comparison I can make is Space Cowboy but even not a close comparison. This dimension of the wild west only exists in the author's mind and the minds of the readers as they explore each page.

In this novel scar faced ex assassin Cane is sheriff of the small town of Hellfire. He jumps from one dastardly adventure to the next with his sidekick Nelly, leaving a trail of bad guy blood and wreckage behind in the effort to keep Hellfire and its innocents safe. The enemies and characters he runs up against are an odd lot, Tommy Knockers, pterodactyls, pirates marooned in the desert, and skin walkers just to name a few. Cane, the most unlikely hero with his scarred, mangled face manages to win the hearts and respect of the
town folk, and their school teacher. I hate to give away spoilers, instead I encourage people to read and find out if this haphazard assassin turned sheriff saves Hellfire and wins the school teacher or if the swarm of villains take the city.

There are quite a few surprises in this novel, and at times I found myself a little lost, but I feel that is because I didn’t read the first two books in this series before plunging into this one, however, I have read Dead Man’s Drive and find a recurring theme between the two such as a repulsive unsung hero protagonist- a rogue turned admirable. The author’s words bring the characters to life both in colorful dialogue and a kaleidoscope of descriptions. 

El Mosaico is a spectacular novel and anything except run-of-the-mill.

Where to find Michael
Michael's books on Amazon

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Wolf by Jim Ringel Blog Tour

Johnny Wolfe carries his dog Sindra in a vial that he keeps in his pocket.  He carries her out of loyalty.  He carries her out of guilt.  He carries her because there are no more dogs in this world. And he carries her to connect to her feral nature, so that he might take her inside himself and feel her animal wildness. 

Johnny’s life is in shambles.  His sales career at Bulldog Enterprises is on the blink. On his way to work one day he comes across a colleague who is killed by a dog. But with dogs now extinct, how is this possible? Going through his colleague’s dead body, Johnny discovers the colleague is carrying a rather sizeable sales order. Figuring “he’s dead, I’m not”, Johnny decides to place the order as his own.

Except he can’t figure out what product the colleague is selling.  As he gets closer to understanding the product, Johnny starts to realize it has more and more to do with why the dogs might be returning, and why they’re so angry.

Then he starts to wonder if maybe the dogs know more about him and Sindra, and if maybe they’re angry with him.

Genre: Literary Horror
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: May 13th, 2014

Book Review

Wolf, by Jim Ringel is an exciting and descriptive novel of a world without dogs. Dog's are man's best friend; they greet us at the door after a long day, curl up at our feet when we're watching a movie, a life without dog's seems criminal. Jim's imagination takes us into a society where dog's were bred for every trait possible than killed when they weren't obedient. They were made extinct.

Wolf begins with action and intrigue as salesman Wolfe finds a co-worker in an alley with a dog. His co-worker Pinkie winds up dead and Wolfe ends up with a sales order worth millions for a product with an eight digit code, but no products are made with eight digit code. Wolfe is determined to fulfill the order and make the money. It is his bull headed search for the product that lands him in serious trouble time after time at the hands of some shady characters.

Jim's style of writing is filled with vivid descriptions that place the reader up front in the story. Every sight, sound, and touch are revealed in horrifying detail which serves to further the conspiracy leading to the unexpected ending. He carefully sculpted each character into a unique person with their own motives, leaving the reader and Wolfe trusting no one.

In my opinion Wolf is a parable for life without man's best friend, and how that absence creates greed.

About Jim Ringel

Jim Ringel lives in Boulder. When not writing fiction, he  can be found hiking, biking, and skiing in the Colorado mountains, or sitting still and meditating at home. He also does a lot of reading, and is a long-standing member of Denver’s Lighthouse Literary Workshop.

Interview with Jim

Elle: Tell a little about yourself.

Jim: I am a writer first and foremost. A reader next. I read everything I can, but particularly like plot-driven stories that are bent slightly toward horror. Professionally, I've done a little bit of everything―sales, television work, mediation, non-profit consulting, real estate.  You stick around long enough in life, you probably get to do every job at least once.

Elle: What can you tell us about Wolf?

Jim: Wolf is the story of Johnny Wolfe, a down-and-out salesguy with a failed marriage who obsesses about the death of his childhood dog, Sindra.  On the way to work one morning, Johnny comes across a colleague, Pinkie Buck, who has been attacked by a dog.  This is a weird event, since there are no more dogs in this world.  

After Pinkie dies from the attack, Johnny goes through the man's body, and finds Pinkie is carrying a rather sizable sales order. Johnny figures a large sales order is just the thing he needs, so he takes it.  But when he tries placing the order to collect the commission, he finds he can't figure out what product Pinkie was selling.  As he pursues trying to uncover the product, he discovers it has something to do with dogs, and why they're coming back, and why they're so violent.

Elle:  What was your inspiration for Wolf?

Jim: I like literary thrillers.  Writers like Graham Greene, Patricia Highsmith, Megan Abbott, and I like spooky stuff like Brian Evenson and Shirley Jackson. So I wanted to write something like that, that worked the two together into a spooky thriller. Plus, I really like the humor potential of a salesman who doesn't know what he's selling, but selling it anyway. How many salesmen have we all dealt with like that?  And a lot of the book is an homage to my last two dogs―Sadie and Jones.  , I never had a dog as a kid, but have had several dogs throughout my adult life, and learned from them.  How they live in the moment. How they enjoy such simple things.  

In a real sense, Wolf  a play on the whole werewolf genre.  A lot of werewolf stories are about bringing out the side of us that we feel we should repress.  I wanted to write about turning into an animal as a means of tapping who we really are.  It's not the animal side we need to tamp down, it's the civilized life that is unnatural, and that we should learn to keep under wraps. So I was really inspired by a mix of all those elements.

Elle: Tell us a little about any other works you have published or will be publishing.

Jim: I am currently working on a six-book Buddhist detective series.  Each book takes place in one of the six different Buddhist realms―the Hell Realm, the Hungry Ghost Realm, the Animal Realm, the Human Realm, the Warring Titan Realm, and the God Realm. In each book, the detective Lama Rinzen must solve a crime, learn a life-lesson, and then die at the end so that he may be reborn into the next book, the next realm.

Elle:  How long have you been writing and how did you get into it?

Jim: I got into serious writing about 10 years ago.  The real turning point was when I was diagnosed with cancer. You're faced with something like that, and it makes you think about who you really are and aspire to be.  For me, the obvious answer, the hole I was feeling my life, was that I wanted to really explore writing, and not keep waiting to take it seriously. That's when I really started to move all the rest of my life aside so that I could write.

Elle:  What inspires your writing?

Jim: As a writer, it's hard not to hear news stories, or friend's mishaps, and not immediately start creating a story.  I'm inspired to write because I feel engaged with life around me. Our minds just naturally do that, right? We stop, sit, meditate, almost immediately our minds start creating little stories, about a sound we might hear, or an argument we recently had, or some pain we are feeling. I write because I get a kick out of thinking if this were to take place, what could possibly happen next. I am also inspired to write by just listening. There's rhythm in everything―the way the wind blows, or a sportscaster speaks, or the way the neighbor's dog barks incessantly.  Listening to the rhythm of these everyday occurrences inspires me to capture those rhythms in written form. I just like capturing them with a spooky story, or page-turner novel.

Elle:  If a fiction writer, are any of your novels based on events in your life?

Jim: I guess all my work swells up from the depths inside me.  I'm a Buddhist, and that influences my world view, and what I like to explore in writing. And some short pieces are loosely hinged on childhood events, or adult experiences. Writing is sort of a nice mix of exploring your own life while disguising that it's you. I guess I can't really say there's many actual life events in my writing, but all the rest of it's me.

Elle:  What was the greatest challenge you faced with publishing your work?

Jim: I was very lucky to find Curiosity Quills Press.  My biggest challenge is that so many literary houses would tell me Wolf was far too genre, and genre houses would say it was far too literary.  I never knew what either meant. I guess that's how it is when you accept yourself and others reject you―it's hard to understand what they're saying. It's like that with women, I find. They don't like you because you go to too many baseball games, or drink too much, or drive too fast. I do think I do all those things just right.

Elle: Do you have a favorite author or book?

Jim: Anything by Graham Greene. An all time favorite read is John Gardner's Mikkelson's Ghosts, with Thomas Berger's Neighbors a close second.  I am now reading Crow Blue, but Adiana Lisboa, and really enjoying how quiet its mystery is.

Elle: Describe yourself in three words.

Jim: Meditative about Fear

Elle: Do you have any advice for inspiring authors?

Jim: I always think it's good advice to just listen. Hear the sound around you, because the way your writing sounds is truly what it's about. It's rarely what you say that evokes horror, or seductiveness, or drama, but rather the pacing and rhythm of your words. You can understand how that works by reading great writers, but you can also hear it all around you in everything life. In order to write well, you have to listen.

Where to find Jim

Where to find Wolf
Barnes & Noble
Amazon UK

HTML Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Last chance before retirement

My good friend and talented author Jeniann Bowers is putting some of her books in retirement. Before they are gone for good she is doing a Kindle blowout. Now is the time to grab them up, and with summer around the corner they will make great reading for travel or lounging by the pool.

Collection of 25 days of Christmas Poetry will be free all week! Click the link now to download.

My review
Collection of 25 days of Christmas Poetry by Jeniann Bowers is a wonderful book of warm holiday cheer. Many of the poems summon Christmas memories of childhood with her use of language. Jeniann is able to use a few simple words to bring forth a sight, sound or smell of holiday memories. In several poems she praises the real reason we have Christmas, love, and how the holiday is not simply about receiving but giving and not only to our loved ones but others as well, especially those in need.

Her words flow easily off the tongue in a rhythmic, playful pattern as one reads each poem. Collection of 25 days of Christmas poetry is the second book of poetry by Jeniann I have read and equally impressive. She has a true talent and gift giving her work a unique spin and quickly making her one of my favorite poets.

I highly recommend this book as its fun, warm, reminiscent and full of holiday joy.

Phraseology and Letters is on Kindle Countdown 

My Review
Phraseology and Letters by Jeniann Bowers is written in a form of poetry called phraseology. A poem is much like a glimpse of a story in this book the story is love. It is amazing how in just a few words she can evoke an image within the mind provoking memories, images and emotions within the reader causing one to hang on to every written word as she bares her soul although not alone as we have all felt the overwhelming emotion of love. The theme is not only of love but not giving up hope. Love takes on many forms whether it be a best and most gracious friend, a family member or a lover.

Jenniann's Poems catch and embrace the essence of love, how it weighs on our hearts. She leaves no elements out, whether it be a fresh new, exciting love where the butterflies well up inside and the loves image renders itself inside our minds and hearts all day or the devastating sadness one feels when a love is lost and how human nature wills us to hold on when we need to let go or looking for love in all the wrong places.

Phraseology and Letters is a must read beautiful collection of poems that not only make oneself reflect on the past but give joy to the future.

Jeniann is offering to giveaway!
Whoever leaves a comment will be entered to win a either a week of Twitter shoutouts or a week of Google + shoutouts, your choice.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Mother's Day Gift

Mother's Day is tomorrow. For all the mother's out there use this code DE55Z to get As Snow Falls for half price here through tomorrow. As a proud mother I want to brag a minute on my daughter's talent. She drew both the outside and inside pictures for As Snow Falls.

As Snow Falls is a nostalgic look through one woman's journey through life. She learns after aimless searching what truly matters in life, her husband, son and the beautiful life they build.

     Reese was a mini Cobie in every way, from how he smiled to how he reacted when he became upset. He was so funny to watch when he got mad. When he was a baby, he would burble at us and crawl away and sulk, only to come back for hugs and kisses. When he grew older, he would mumble quietly under his breath and go sit outside and sulk, only to come back in and apologize. When he was a baby, we brought him to work with us. Cobie kept up the mechanic end of the shop and I did the finances. Reese would stay in the office with me when he was a baby, but as he grew more curious he would wander out into the shop, and Cobie would prop him up and explain to him what he was working on. They were inseparable, and Reese admired his father more than any other human alive. He and Cobie spent almost every waking hour together. After Reese started school, Cobie insisted on picking him up from school and bringing him back to the shop with us. I think it was harder on Cobie when Reese started school than it was on me.

A Mother's Worry
     By the time Reese was ten, he could take an engine apart and put it back together. He was
just as clever as his father. Once, when Reese was 11, Cobie went to pick him up from school as usual, but they didn’t come back right away. At first I didn’t worry, because sometimes he would take him to get ice cream, a hamburger, or to see his grandparents, but after three hours I started to worry and panic. My stomach became all knotted up inside, and I couldn’t stay in the shop, so I left. I went home first, but they weren’t there. Next I stopped at my parents’, because sometimes Cobie would bring Reese over there after school, as his grandparents loved to spend time with him, but they weren’t there either. Next I tried Cobie’s parents’ house, but they weren’t home. 
     I drove everywhere I could think of that they might be, and I tried places I didn’t think they would be. They were nowhere to be found. I finally went back to the shop, and there they were with every mechanic in the shop marveling over a heap of metal. To them it was gold. To me it was a frame and body of some long-forgotten, dilapidated piece of ……I ran over to Reese, and I hugged him and yelled at Cobie for not calling to tell me they were OK or where they were—right there in front of everyone. He looked at me like I was insane and walked off. Reese seemed confused at why I was mad at Daddy. He gave me a puzzling look. He didn’t seem to care though. He was so excited because Daddy had bought the heap of metal for him. They were going to rebuild it together. I guess it was some type of male bonding exercise. Cobie and I didn’t speak until later that night, and he apologized. He said this time I was right. He should have called. Reese and his father spent hours on that car. It was their hobby, and they shared it. Sometimes I felt left out.

                                                                           The Grands
     My grandchildren seemed to grow up so quickly. Natalie grew into a beautiful young woman. She was always spontaneous and dramatic, so Nikki had her take dance lessons, voice lessons, and then lessons on various instruments. Natalie was a natural. She decided she wanted to be a performing artist. She wanted to dance and sing on Broadway. She had always performed in school plays, talent shows, and even the community theater. On stage she was radiant and shined as brilliantly as the North Star. She could dance, sing, and play almost any musical instrument. She was perfect for her career choice, and I supported her. I told her to always follow her heart and not be afraid. At one time I had also dreamed of being an actress but, with the loss of Nathan, I had pulled myself away from acting. She also loved my car, and I allowed her to drive me around in it from time to time. She wanted glamour and fame, and my car represented that to her. 

     Jacob had grown into a very handsome young man. The girls adored him. He was quite a lady’s man from an early age. Having an older sister, he was used to the attention he received from her and her friends. They always thought he was adorable, and they mooned all over him. When he was twelve, one of Natalie’s friends, a cute blond girl with bright blue eyes, fair skin, and rosy cheeks, had the biggest crush on him. He had a crush on her as well. He wasn’t shy around girls at all, and when they flirted with him he flirted back. Anyway, Nikki found him and the girl kissing in the backyard one Saturday afternoon. As Reese tells it, Nikki went white as a sheet, her eyes rolled up into her head, and she almost fainted. He had to catch her to keep her from hitting the ground. He thought it was hilarious, but Nikki kept a very close eye on Jacob after that. I don’t think she let him out of her sight for more than thirty seconds at a time. He was a very good-looking boy and charming, and the girls couldn’t keep their hands off him. They chased him everywhere. I knew one day, when he found the right girl, she wouldn’t be chasing him. He would be chasing her.