Monday, August 31, 2009

Author Guest Post - Clare Austin

Readers, please join me welcoming Clare Austin, author of Butterfly who will be guest blogging here today!


Aug 31…

August has flitted past on Butterfly’s wings. My novel has been available for about six weeks now and all I can hope is the results of my promotional efforts are getting my book in the hands of readers.

So far the response to this first story in my Fadό Trilogy has been enthusiastic.

Butterfly has several themes. Music is paramount of course because it is about a family of musicians. It got me thinking again on the question “why music?”

I’m not a cultural anthropologist, but I suspect that throughout the history of humankind, it would be difficult to find a cultural group who had no music. It is likely as basic as an unborn child responding to the pulsing of her mother’s heart.

Why do we react at a deep emotional level to one musical genre and not another? I can listen to Chinese music, but I have to admit, it doesn’t call to my soul like an Irish lament or make my heart pound in rhythm with a bodhrán beat. Is it nature or nurture? Both, I believe.

Perhaps because the Irish had no written language in early history, bards, musicians and storytellers…seanchaí…had a special, elevated position in the culture. If you have spent any time in “the land of saints and scholars” you have seen and heard this for yourself. From the earliest telling of the Táin Bó Cúailnge …a classic tale of Queen Maebh of Connacht and Ulster hero Cúchulainn… to the popular novelist Maeve Binchy, the Irish have coveted their image as a literary society. They have also made an impact on modern music. If you haven’t heard of Van Morrison, you have probably heard his music…Brown Eyed Girl, Moondance, Gloria…yes, sounds like American blues, but, all Irish. From the Chieftains to Bono or Enya, Irish music has captured the hearts of western culture. Perhaps it is the primordial ability to tell a story.

My main character, Flannery Sloane, is a fiddler. Yes, the similarity between this author and Flannery stops there. Well, okay…red hair, green eyes…but that’s it. I’ve been around musicians all my life and am wife to one and mother to a houseful. When we get together we have two fiddles, guitar, piano, flute, banjo and the Irish drum. Our sons were exposed to music of all kinds from conception…really and they all started making music of their own as tiny children. Only one has made it his life’s work and he is the prototype for my Flannery.

I hope I have, in Butterfly, given the reader not only an intense romance, a gripping and emotional glimpse at the impact of family secrets and a humorous romp through Flannery’s bohemian lifestyle, but a curiosity about Irish traditional music and an insight into the world of musicians.

Thank you for having me on your blog today.

Clare

If anyone has questions, please feel free to comment here.

You can also contact me at my email authorclare@gmail.com or see more of my books at my website www.clareaustin.com

Butterfly is available through www.thewildrosepress.com and most online booksellers in trade paperback and electronic editions.

Thank you for that post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

This guest post is courtesy Goddess Fish Promotions.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Author Guest Post - Brett Battles

Today I'm pleased to welcome Brett Battles, author of  Shadow of Betrayal (400 pp, Delacorte Press, ISBN: 038534158X). His guest post here today is part of this book's virtual tour, courtesy Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

Writing a Series
By Brett Battles

Writing a series is a tricky thing. You want to write each book so that it can be picked up and read, in effect, as a stand alone. Yet you also want there to be continuity running from novel to novel to novel.

In a way it’s kind of like doing a television series. Back in pre-1990s television, not exclusively, but for the most part, if you watched a television series it would basically reset itself each week. What I mean by this is that each episode would seldom be affected by the episode that preceded it. One week, Richie Cunningham of HAPPY DAYS fame could break his arm, but the next week his arm is fine and there’s not even a reference to it. Or one of Charlie’s Angels could meet a great guy one week, and completely have forgotten about him the next.

So what was really happening was that the characters on those shows weren’t growing. They were static, unchanging. (Okay, some of them had some changes, but they were very controlled and mostly minor.)

That used to drive me crazy! I’d want to know what happened to Richie’s arm, or why Angel Sabrina was suddenly single again.

Lately, though, television has gotten its act together. Shows have continuity. What happened one week effects what happens the next. You can see growth in the characters. You know the reason someone acts a certain way in episode 10 is because of their experience in episode 3. I think it’s great.

For most of these shows you can still jump in at any point and enjoy what is going on without having seen the whole season. But for some you can’t. Take LOST, for instance. If you haven’t been watching from the beginning, you’re probably going to be hopelessly…well…lost. While it’s worked for LOST, doing that can be a danger. You can lose viewers, because if they start missing an episode here and there, they have a hard time picking it up again later, and ultimately they say, “Why bother?”

That’s the same danger you run into with a series. Make each book too dependent on the one that came before and you will be narrowing your audience with each new release. So you’re left with two choices: 1) the static/reset approach, or 2) let your characters change and grow, but make sure that the book still stands alone.

For me, the static/reset approach is not an option. It just doesn’t work for me personally. Not in the stories I want to tell, anyway. So it’s number 2 that I strive for.

My main character, Jonathan Quinn, has definitely come a long way in my new book, SHADOW OF BETRAYAL, from when we met him first in THE CLEANER. And, just to give you a preview of things to come, he has a long way still to go. But not only Quinn has changed, so has his apprentice Nate, and his partner/girlfriend Orlando. So have some of his clients. But each story, each book still stands on its own. You don’t have to read THE CLEANER before you pick up THE DECEIVED. And you don’t have to read THE DECEIVED before you read SHADOW OF BETRAYAL. (Though I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest reading them all in whatever order you like!)

As I move forward with the series (and, yes, there will be another Quinn thriller next year), I will continue to work hard at creating this evolving world I’ve created while writing books that can be read without any previous exposure to Quinn’s life. It’s part of the challenge, and part of the fun.

Thank you for that entertaining post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

About the Author: Brett Battles lives in Los Angeles and is the author of two acclaimed novels in the Jonathan Quinn series: The Cleaner, which was nominated for a Barry Award for Best Thriller and a Shamus Award for Best First Novel, and The Deceived, which was nominated for a Barry Award for Best Thriller. He is at work on the fourth book in the series. You can visit Brett Battles website at www.brettbattles.com.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Excerpt - The Divorce Party by Laura Dave

About the Book:
Laura Dave is widely recognized as an up-and-coming talent in women’s fiction. Now, with her characteristic wit and warmth, she captures a much-discussed cultural phenomenon that has never been profiled in fiction before—divorce celebrations. Set in Hamptons high society, The Divorce Party features two women—one newly engaged and one at the end of her marriage—trying to answer the same question: when should you fight to save a relationship, and when should you let go?

An insightful and funny multi-generational story, this deeply moving novel is sure to touch anyone whose heart has weathered an unexpected storm.

Excerpt:

Montauk, New York, 1938

It is bizarre, of course, that this was the summer that everyone was trying to fly somewhere. Howard Hughes around the world in ninety-one hours, the luxurious Yankee Clipper boat off the water and into the air, Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan from New York to Los Angeles -- he wound up in Ireland. It was also the summer after Superman first appeared in Action Comics and instant coffee got popular, and the last full summer before the worst war. But they'd talk about the flights first. They'd say, how odd, for everyone to have spent so much time staring up at the sky, and to still not see it coming: a hurricane so punishing that it would destroy America's eastern seaboard, biting off the farthest tip of eastern Long Island, biting off a town called Montauk, and leaving it detached from the world, an island, alone, in the middle of the ocean.

It was September, only the last vestiges of summer remaining, when the hurricane hit. No one on Long Island knew that a storm was coming that afternoon. That the army would have to come in to resurrect the land that had once connected Montauk to the rest of Long Island. That it would take two weeks before the waters receded low enough at Napeague to let through emergency traffic. That Montauk residents would lose almost everything.

In the end, there were only a few exceptions. Near Montauk Point, there were seven houses tucked so tightly to the bluffs that the wind and the rain and the water couldn't pull them down. Seven sister houses built by the same architecture firm in 1879, lived in each summer since by the same seven Manhattan families. Their steely gates and strong foundations completely intact. Their fireplaces and oak doors and stained-glass windows marking them, homes like trophies, on top of the end of the world.

The one at the farthest eastern tip was called Huntington Hall -- Hunt Hall by anyone who'd actually visited. It was the only house of the seven still occupied that late in September. And occupying it was Champ Nathaniel Huntington. Champ was thirty-three years old, and far too handsome, and a little too tall, and the only son of Bradley Huntington, the most successful publishing mogul in North America. When the hurricane hit, Champ Huntington was having sex. Lights on. Curtains drawn. Angry, late-afternoon sex. Anna was bent over the side of the bed, Champ behind her, his hand cupping her throat.

They had been out here all summer having sex like this. They were trying to save their marriage. And they were trying to destroy it.

Outside was all water and raging dark and storm. But in his faded consciousness, Champ didn't notice. He knew it was raining. He heard it striking against the roof. He heard the wind. But this was Montauk. It was September. These sounds didn't indicate that something brutal was happening.

Other things were brutal. This first year of marriage. It was wrong. Anna's dark hair in the sink. The meetings he didn't really have. He bent down farther, took her ear in his mouth.

"Don't," she said. She was focused, close. "Stop."

When they were done, they lay, splayed, Anna on the bed, Champ on the floor beneath her. Her foot was on his shoulder. This was the only place they were touching. He almost reached out, held her toes. But he knew it just made her mad when he did anything tender. It made her think he'd change, or want to try for her.

Then and only then did Champ sit up and look outside. And maybe it was that his head was still closed off, but what he saw out there looked like a train crashing into the window. It was the visual that made him hear the noise. The terrible whistling, high pitched and out of control. Hearing it, he'd later say, was the moment his life changed.

He headed to the bedroom window, naked, and had to reach out, grip the long edge of the window frame to hold himself up. He couldn't see the beach, or the ocean. He couldn't see anything at first.

Anna came up behind him, wrapped in the bedsheet, and they stood there watching the train-wind through the window. They watched so hard that they didn't talk. Not about the speed of the wind or the trees breaking apart or what must have been happening in the town center. If they had been thinking, they might have moved away from the window. They might have been scared that it would splinter. But they stood there until the storm stopped, and started, and stopped for good. And the greenish yellow sky turned purple and then black and the sun (or was it the moon?) rose up, terrifying. It was the sun. They had watched through the night.

"What time is it?" she asked.

He didn't answer her.

"What do we do now?" she said.

Champ was already in motion. He was putting on clothes and lacing up his work boots and walking out the front door. He made his way, by foot, across his land, down the slippery bluffs and tree-wrecked cliffs onto the flooded Napeague stretch and down farther to Main Street. Three and a half miles. Into the center of the ruined village.

There were fishing boats and cars piled on small houses. Fallen phone lines pulling down torn roofs. Poles and flooded cabinets and bed frames lining the street. Water was flowing from everywhere, making it hard to even walk down the streets -- where did it start? If they figured out where it started maybe they could stop it!

Champ pulled up his pant legs and made his way to the Manor, where people were setting up shelter, where they were trying to provide relief for themselves. And Champ set to work with the other men moving cars and carrying wet wood and boarding windows and drying blankets and cleaning up slabs of broken glass.

How could he explain it even to himself? He didn't recognize the feeling, had never known it before. But something broke free in Champ -- something like devotion or commitment -- to his home, to his suffering town, to everything around him. Maybe this is why, when he finished working, he didn't head home, but down to the docks, where he sat on canisters with all the fishermen, who now had nothing, and listened to them talk about how they had nothing, and stared at his own cut hands, and watched the moon rise, white and fierce, remarkably sure of itself.

Then he followed the star-line north and east, trying to locate it. First Montauk Point, then the cliff and the bluffs, then the house itself. His house. Huntington Hall. Standing tall, oblivious.

It was hard to find his way back there in the dark. So he followed the defeated shoreline, and eventually made his way up the wooden staircase, into the bluffs, toward his home, where everything was still mostly together. Where Anna was waiting with lit candles and tomato sandwiches, dark blankets spread out on the living room floor.

When he walked in, she was by the front door. She was wearing a long, purple sweater. She had her hair in a bun. She reached for him, and he buried into her neck, smelled her.

"How was town?" she asked, her hand still on his chest. "I tried to pick up news on the radio, but there was no reception. Is there a town left?"

He didn't answer her, but he was looking at her strangely. And he knew that she knew he was looking at her strangely. It was as simple as this: he could see her. For the first time in a year, there was nowhere else he was trying to be.

Which brought him to his own questions: Why did it take fear to move him? Why does it take chaos to make us understand exactly what we need to do?

He wanted to ask her his questions, but he wasn't sure she would have good answers, and then he would change his mind, and he didn't want to change his mind. He wanted to stay this sure.

Later, only thirty hours since he had last been lying there, they were lying on the floor together, facing each other. And in that strange way that we make decisions, the important decisions that ultimately make us, Champ decided that they were going to stay in Montauk full time. No more New York City. This had become their home.

He turned and looked outside at the slowly recovering world. At the backlit colors in the sky, on his lawn. And he knew the truth. The main truth, at least. This house had saved them. This big, beautiful cottage, which stayed big and beautiful despite the destruction all around. Its stern banisters and wood ceilings and determined rafters. The house had saved him, and he wasn't going to forget it.

He was going to build his life here, right here, in the name of love and honor and what ever else he was feeling, even if he couldn't name it for what it was: exhaustion.

He was, finally, exhausted.

He looked Anna right in the eye. "Things are going to be different," he said.

She nodded.

"I'm staying," he said, because they'd talked about the opposite, earlier, before -- his leaving her, and here.

"Why?" she said.

"I want to," he said.

She got quiet. "You're going to disappoint me," she said.

"Probably." He was trying to make a joke, but it didn't come out that way. He tried again. "I think it's going to turn out okay," he said.

"Starting when?" she asked. "Ending when?"

Then, as if it were an answer, he pulled her in close to him, without reluctance, without anything like fear. "This house," he said, "will see love. This house will see everything."

Copyright © Laura Dave, 2008 All rights reserved

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - A Life in Poems

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems ~ Patricia Neely-Dorsey
90 pages, GrantHouse Publishers, ISBN: 097962942X

Patricia Neely Dorsey's Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems is "a true celebration of the south and things southern." The author states , "There are so many negative connotations associated with Mississippi and the south in general. In my book, using childhood memories, personal thoughts and dreams, I attempt to give a positive glimpse into the southern way of life. In my book I try to show that there is much is more to Mississippi and the south than all of the negatives usually portrayed .I invite readers to Meet Mississippi (and the south) Through Poetry ,Prose and The Written Word."
SOUTHERN LIFE
If you want a glimpse of Southern life,
Come close and walk with me;
I'll tell you all the simple things,
That you are sure to see.
You'll see mockingbirds and bumblebees,
Magnolia blossoms and dogwood trees,
Caterpillars on the step,
Wooden porches cleanly swept;
Watermelons on the vine,
Strong majestic Georgia pines;
Rocking chairs and front yard swings,
Junebugs flying on a string;
Turnip greens and hot cornbread,
Coleslaw and barbecue;
Fried okra, fried corn, fried green tomatoes,
Fried pies and pickles too.
There's ice cold tea that's syrupy sweet,
And cool, green grass beneath your feet;
Catfish nipping in the lake,
And fresh young boys on the make.
You'll see all these things
And much, much more,
In a way of life that I adore.
Copyright 2008 Patricia Neely-Dorsey,from Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems

Book Available: www.reeds.ms/book.asp or at Amazon
Author Website: www.patricianeelydorsey.webs.com
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Author Guest Post - Sandra Dallas

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Readers, please join me welcoming Author Sandra Dallas who will be guest blogging here today!

About the Author
Sandra Dallas is the author of eight novels, including TALLGRASS and NEW MERCIES. She is a former Denver bureau chief for Business Week magazine and lives in Denver, Colorado.

Prayers for Sale took me 45 years to write.

When I was first married, in 1963, my husband, Bob, and I lived in Breckenridge, Colorado. Although the ski area there had just opened (Bob was the first public relations director,) Breckenridge considered itself a mining town—a gold dredging town, although the dredges, which operated from the 1890s until World War II when gold mining was declared a nonessential industry, had shut down more than 20 years earlier.

In gold dredging, a huge barge sits on a mountain stream and sends a bucket line down to bedrock, scooping up rocks and dirt, gravel, sand, and grains of gold. The rocks are discarded, then the gold extracted through a sort of placer recovery method. Dredging destroys the stream and leaves behind rock piles 40 or 50 feet high. The old timers in Breckenridge had a love-hate relationship with dredging. They’d rather have mined gold underground as God intended, but there wasn’t always employment in underground mines. So they were grateful for jobs on the dredges. Still, they hated the gold boats, the danger and the noise—especially the noise. The moaning and clanking and groaning went on 24-hours-a-day. In fact, if the dredge broke down, the old timers told me, the silence would awaken them from a sound sleep. I loved those mountain people. They lived harsh lives in the high country, where it snowed every month of the year, but they were generous and welcoming. I was curious about gold dredging and the men who worked on the boats. I wanted to find out what their lives were like, why they stayed on, doing such dangerous work. Moreover, I was intrigued with gold mining in general. In fact, I wrote about it in my job as Denver bureau chief for Business Week. But I never wrote about the gold boats in Breckenridge. I didn’t know what to do with dredging. The idea lay in the back of my mind for 45 years.

Another one of those ideas filed away in my head was that of producing a western version of Aunt Jane of Kentucky, written 100 years ago by Eliza Calvert Hall. In the novel, Aunt Jane, an elderly Kentucky quilter, tells stories about the town in which she’s lived all her life. I thought it would be cool to write a Colorado version of that book, fictionalizing Colorado history and legend.

I didn’t do anything with that idea either until a couple of years ago when I was reading a book about everyday life during the Civil War, a favorite subject of mine. I came across the story of the tragic death of a baby. Of course, all infant deaths are tragic, but this one was especially moving, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I thought that sometime I would have to put it into a novel.

Then it hit me that I could use the death of a young child as a departure point for a novel that would include the harshness and brutality of dredging in the Rockies with the warmth and friendship represented by quilts.

Prayers for Sale, then, incorporates subjects I love—gold mining, quilting, and the Civil War. And in addition, it is a tribute to those mountain people I knew so long ago.

Thank you for that great post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Spotlight : Randy Sue Coburn's A Better View of Paradise

About the Book:

Thirty-six-year-old Stevie Pollack has come into her own as a celebrated landscape architect. Her designs, famed for their evocative natural beauty, reflect her upbringing amid the splendor of Hawai‘i. But when critics blast her latest efforts and her boyfriend abruptly ends their relationship, Stevie seeks solace in her roots among the dazzling flowers, and comforting traditions of the islands and their calming waters. Still, in the back of her mind, Hawai‘i holds troubling memories of a childhood with Hank, her emotionally distant father, and a reserved British mother.

Despite her irascible father’s presence, the trip home promises Stevie a welcome departure from her trials on the mainland. But the shocking news that Hank is dying forces the pair’s reunion into high gear. As father and daughter attempt to rekindle their bond, Stevie discovers sides of Hank she never knew, including family secrets that have shaped their lives. And what started as a holiday escape for the beleaguered architect becomes a chance for transformation, one as exciting as it is uncertain. Inspired by her father’s insight, and energized by the attentions of an attractive local veterinarian, Stevie learns to surrender her inhibitions and seize the day.

Excerpt:

Pele is far from Stevie’s mind on the warm September morning that her new garden is scheduled to open. For one thing, she’s a long way from Hawai‘i–in Chicago, a tough-guy city if ever there was one. And for another, she’s all grown up. Thirty-six years old. An age that, in her better moods, on her better days, seems in perfect balance. Eighteen years of living as somebody’s daughter, under parental control, followed by eighteen years of independence. By her reckoning, that means she ought to have a pretty fair shot at being her own person. A person who calls home a Brooklyn Heights floor-through apartment with eye-catching French flea market linens on the bed and well-used chef-grade cookware in the kitchen. A person with reliable friends and a regularly exercised passport. A professional person, too–one who is, to be exact, making her mark upon the land. What’s more, this person is determined not to let anything interfere with a day on which both she and the elaborate garden she designed are going to be celebrated. Not even the fact that somebody just dumped her. Especially not that.

When Stevie gets out of bed in her room at a small, European-style hotel on East Delaware Place, her head aches and her mouth is dry. She fights the urge to rush out and buy herself coffee, pastries, and a pack of the American Spirit cigarettes she still craves whenever something major goes wrong. Instead, she clips back her hair and puts on running clothes–an athletic bra engineered to immobilize C-cup breasts, loose-legged purple shorts, and a mustard-yellow T-shirt decorated with a big bunned wiener that reads:

Hot Dog! Johnny’s
Route 46
Butzville, N.J.

Soon she’s jogging along a lakeside path, red-faced already in this low late-summer sun, glad for the sweet-smelling freshwater breeze. Fog hugs the waterfront, the shoreline that is Stevie’s favorite thing about the city, and through the fog she catches glimpses that remind her of a veiled belly dancer, undulating against the Gold Coast’s rigid street grid. Land curves in and out, so sensuous, so seductive, it’s easy to imagine that only some supreme feminine force of nature could have shaped it. Stevie knows better.

Her research into all things Chicago has taught her that most of the shore, like the rest of the city, is man-made, an illusion created with ton upon ton of dumped landfill. “Shit,” Stevie hisses. Just thinking of dumped landfill is enough to bring her own dumping front and center again.

She’s told no one any details of the breakup. Not even Lorna, her best friend since college. Especially not Lorna. And that’s because she knows exactly what Lorna will say: “First words, Stevie. Let’s talk about first words.”

Lorna has a theory–annoyingly accurate by now–that every man, right off the bat, says something that reveals with astonishing precision what your relationship with him will be like. “And you’d pay attention, too,” Lorna contends, “if only you weren’t stone-deaf to anything but that sneaky devil with the romance-o-meter whispering in your ear. Telling you not who they are, but who you want them to be. So you miss what really matters. When some guy says ‘I don’t deserve you,’ listen up, Stevie. That guy is not flattering you. That guy is preaching the goddamn gospel.”

That guy was just Exhibit A. Over the years, Stevie has given Lorna ample additional evidence to prove her point, standouts being the lover who said “You are exactly the kind of woman I should fall for” (Stevie had failed to give proper emphasis to the word “should”) and another who claimed “You make my life so full” (soon enough, he’d sink back into depression).

What was the first important thing Brian had revealed? The words that, in the world according to Lorna, contained the tiny, tightly coiled kernels of their future–or, rather, their past. Nothing comes. It’s easier to recall how she met Brian than what tumbled out of his mouth after she did.

About the Author:

Randy Sue Coburn is a former newspaper reporter whose articles and essays have been published in numerous national magazines. She is the author of Owl Island and Remembering Jody, and her screenplays include Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, the critically acclaimed Cannes Film Festival selection that received five Independent Spirit Award nominations, including Best Screenplay. S1he lives in Seattle. You can visit Randy Sue Coburn’s website at www.randysuecoburn.com.

This Spotlight feature is part of the book's virtual tour, courtesyPump Up Your Book Promotion.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Review - Daniel X: Watch the Skies

PhotobucketAs both a bestselling author and the father of an eleven-year-old son, James Patterson believes that the best way to get people excited about reading is to give them books they'll love. To help create a lifelong appreciation for books in kids everywhere, James Patterson has recently added young adult series to his repertoire, including, as many of you know, Daniel X. The first book in the series, The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, told the story of a teen with secret powers who hunts aliens and protects the Earth.

Now, Patterson introduces his second novel in the series, Daniel X: Watch the Skies. In this story, an evil outer-space outlaw named Number Five comes to a small town on Earth intending to produce an intergalactic version of "Survivor," with a twist: every human in the town will be eliminated. Daniel finds himself on a quest to stop Number Five and his alien crew, not just to save the world, but to save himself.

As you may remember from my review last year, the first Daniel X book didn't impress me a lot (in fact, not at all). To quote myself, I'd found it quite "over-the-top". This book is even more "over-the-top" than the first one, but amazingly enough I wasn't turned off by it. Perhaps because this book is quite fun in its Hollywood-style plotting and cgi-inspired quicksilver actions sequences.

As a reader I was held engrossed as Daniel gets his heinie kicked again and again in a battle of electronic wits with Number 5 who gives new definition to the term "reality tv". The absurd atrocities Number 5 commits are so hilarious as to keep me engaged even as Daniel struggles to keep up with him (or should I say "it", as Number 5 is sort of a catfish/electric eel like creature). It's also refreshing to see Daniel exhibiting some normal teenage behavior like getting a crush on a girl his age, instead of forever going about with an imaginary girlfriend. At once Robin Hood and Dennis the Menace, Daniel's yearning for a normal life comes through loud and clear as he time and again conjures up his family and friends out of his very imagination (just one of the cool powers he has). The part where his imaginary Mom comes up with unbelievable sounding but true excuses for Daniel being unable to attend school had me laughing out loud!

Despite the ridiculously short chapters (a James Patterson trademark I love to hate) and a predictable storyline, this 288 page book is entertaining and I'm saying this not just from the perspective of the destined audience. The underlying, often self-deprecating humor comes across refreshingly as do many other noble concepts such as friendship, importance of family and studying, taking care of pets etc.

In short, despite a dismal beginning, this series is now truly taking off and I really look forward to reading how Daniel X goes about crossing off the other villains in his list.
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* This book was received for review via Mom Central. *
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Author Guest Post - Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Writing the Book Is Only Half the Battle; Promoting It Is the Other Half
By Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Many authors don’t realize that they have to wear two hats – one as book author and the other as book promoter. Often these people are rather surprised when they learn about this second half of book publishing.

Regardless of whether your book is traditionally published or self-published, you will have to do much if not all of the book promotion yourself unless you are a really, really famous author.

And the sooner you start your book promotion the better. When is this sooner? Is it while you are writing your book, while the book is making the agent/publisher rounds, when a publisher has said yes and scheduled your pub date a year from now, or when the book is published?

If you said “when the book is published,” your sooner is too late.

Book marketing is based on developing a relationship either online or offline with a potential reader. And relationships take time, as we all know, to develop.

That’s why a savvy book author/promoter starts his/her promotion of a book as soon as possible. And thanks to the Internet, this can be done with very little cost involved.

If you start a blog while writing your book, you can build up reader interest even before you’re written “The end.” And while it seems that someone writing a nonfiction book has it easier than a fiction author in terms of what to blog about, that’s not necessarily true.

Author Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I have written a chapter on blogging to promote fiction that you might find helpful. You can get it at http://www.FictionMarketing.com .

One tip: Consider getting a combined website/blog so that you can properly promote your book. If you use WordPress.org for this, you’ll be able to add pages with a single click, so you can grow your website as your book project grows.

It’s also a good idea to start participating in a few social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in order to start forming online relationships. It’s important to help others if you want them to help you. So be prepared to share information and answer questions on these sites.

In my opinion, Twitter at this time is the most useful social media site for creating relationships that can help promote your book. If you’re not on Twitter yet but would like to start, you can get helpful tips from my article http://budurl.com/beginningTwitter .

And if your book is already out and you haven’t started promoting it yet, don’t despair. Start now. Thanks to Amazon and other online sites, books today have a much longer “shelf life” than previously. You’ve got plenty of time to promote your book.

Author Phyllis Zimbler Miller’s company MillerMosaicLLC.com has just launched the Miller Mosaic Internet Marketing Program to help people promote their brand, book or business. You can learn about the program at http://www.WeTeachWebMarketing.com. She’s also a National Internet Business Examiner at http://www.InternetBizBlogger.com and active on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ZimblerMiller . Her new ebook What You Should Know About the Launch of an Online Information Product grew out of her Examiner.com articles about the launch of the Miller Mosaic Internet Marketing Program. She is also the author of the novel http://www.MrsLieutenant.com .

About the Book:

PhotobucketIf you had a great idea today for an online information product – something for which you’ve identified a definite niche market – would you know the steps to take to get the product launched online? Steps such as the right software, shopping cart, copywriting, and online promotion needed?

If there’s a possible online information product in your future – or if you simply want to learn more about internet marketing – come along with National Internet Business Examiner Phyllis Zimbler Miller as she explains in details the steps she took in a one-month pre-launch for an online information product.

Phyllis pulls back the curtain to reveal everything she knew and everything she had to learn to fulfill her goal. And after reading this ebook ANATOMY OF AN ONLINE PRODUCT LAUNCH, you’ll be able to use this accumulated knowledge for yourself.

About the Author:

Phyllis Zimbler Miller started Miller Mosaic, LLC to provide the services she wanted for herself for online marketing. The publication of Phyllis’ MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL in April 2008 launched Phyllis into internet marketing, including using social networking such as Twitter and Facebook to market her book.

Phyllis hired her daughter Yael K. Miller – now the chief technology officer for Miller Mosaic, LLC — and together they have created the internet marketing company Miller Mosaic, LLC that helps people promote their brand, book or business.

In April Phyllis became a National Internet Business Examiner at ww.InternetBizBlogger.com, writing articles several times a week on effective internet businesses and internet marketing. Then in June Phyllis wrote a month-long series on the steps of an information product launch in anticipation of the July 1st launch of the Miller Mosaic Internet Marketing Program.

This article series forms the basis of the just-released ebook “ANATOMY OF AN INFORMATION PRODUCT LAUNCH: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE LAUNCH OF AN ONLINE INFORMATION PRODUCT.” In this ebook Phyllis has shared the trials and triumphs of launching an online information product.

Phyllis has a B.A in journalism from Michigan State University and worked as a journalist for several years. She also studied advertising design at the Philadelphia College of Art before earning an M.B.A. at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and working in marketing and web design in Los Angeles.

You can visit her website at www.MillerMosaicLLC.com to learn more about the Miller Mosaic Internet Marketing Program and you can read her Examiner.com articles at www.InternetBizBlogger.com.

Thank you for that entertaining post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Author Guest Post - Jason M. Kays

Today I'm pleased to welcome Jason M. Kays, author of Virtual Vice: A new technology crime novel based on true events. His guest post here today is part of this book's virtual tour, courtesy Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

How to Survive Rejection or a Bad Review
By Jason M. Kays

PhotobucketUnless an author has a colossal ego, he feels some measure of dejection after receiving a rejection letter from a literary agent or publisher. I was no exception. In responding to or internalizing the rejection, the author needs to draw from those same reserves of tenacity and resilience that enabled him to complete the book.

I never approached publishers with the book, but did shop it out to approximately forty-five literary agents. I received plenty of rejection letters. To my pleasant surprise, I also received a letter of interest from a prominent agent in Los Angeles. Representation was contingent on my making the novel entirely non-fiction, something I was unwilling to do. It's highly unlikely a first time author will land a literary agent. It seldom happens. If an agent does take on a neophyte author, there is a good chance concessions will be demanded of that author. Having an agent certainly helps open doors, but is not essential. More and more authors are going it their own without an agent and are being met with a good deal of success.

The literary agent's ultimatum made me even more determined to see that the book reached an audience on my terms. In order to retain creative control, I elected to use a print on demand publisher. In addition to offering the book on Amazon and through four other e-tailers, I released the work as an audiobook. May 2009 it was the second most popular download on Podiobooks.com, with 8000 downloads in 4 days, and remained on their top ten list for six weeks, so it appears the book is finding that audience.

The point in sharing this experience is to drive home the fact that the best way to deal with rejection is to minimize the risk of rejection. If you are a first time author and the first publishers you approach are the conglomerate publishing houses, you are setting yourself up for rejection. If you are a first time author and you send letters of inquiry to literary agents at CAA and William Morris, you are setting yourself up for rejection. If you are a first time author and you send your galley to the New York Times or Atlantic Weekly for a book review, you are setting yourself up for rejection. It is good to be self-confident in your skill set as author and in your finished product, but when it's the first dance at the cotillion, don't start with the Fortune 500 heirs. Demonstrate your grace and prowess on the ballroom floor with a lesser suitor, and allow the titans of industry to take notice and pursue you. Bat those eyes and work the hips. It's much more desirable to be wooed than to woo in this business. Be patient and build a reputation for your book and yourself as an author. Create a buzz and allow for the ripple effect. If you can generate sufficient interest at a grassroots level for a book that has merit and commercial potential, the larger publishers and agents will come to you.

Reviews are more of a wildcard. Even a commercial hit can be panned by the critics. As an English Lit major, I had to work hard to set aside convention and write honestly and from the heart. I'm not suggesting you forget the rules of grammar or three act construction. What I am suggesting is that traditional and narrow "literary merit" can be distinguished from contemporary and broader substantive merit. A book may not go down as a classic, but if it's a good story told well, it will reach its desired audience and do more to establish your reputation as author than will critical accolades. The critic that writes a negative review often is focused on the literary merit of a work, and not whether it is, simply, a well crafted and entertaining book. The focus is often on whether the work ranks as a "great book" using the classics as yardstick. This is not realistic, nor particularly relevant to anyone other than newspaper and magazine publishers that know negative reviews sell more copy than do positive reviews. Regardless of how neutral or altruistic the reviewer believes himself to be, they are, like the rest of us, fatally flawed humans with biases. And those biases taint their reviews. At the end of the day, the old adage, "any press is good press" holds true here, so long as there is some positive chatter to offset the hatchet jobs.

For me, personally, rejection or a critical review strengthens my resolve to achieve my goals for the book. It helps motivate me to get more creative in devising workaround alternatives to mainstream distribution channels and marketing. If a particular agent, publisher or critic responded negatively to the work, how do I reach an agent, publisher or critic that may be more receptive to my story and its presentation? Always keep in mind that publishing is a business. A rejection is not necessarily a commentary on the quality of your story or the telling of it; it is often nothing more than a commentary on its perceived commerciality.

Thank you for that inspiring post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

About the Author: Jason M. Kays is an intellectual property attorney with fifteen years experience in both information technology and entertainment law. Kays is an accomplished jazz trumpet player and his passion has always been music, technology, and convergence of the two in today's digital age. This is his first novel. You can find him at http://virtualvice.net/
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Conversation with Karen Weinreb

THE SUMMER KITCHEN by Karen Weinreb (St. Martin’s Press; 0-312-37925-4) is a remarkable debut novel about a woman dealing with the fallout when her spouse, a seemingly ideal husband and father, is arrested for white-collar crime. While this book is fiction, the basic setup of the story actually happened to the author. Though the headlines today are full of “bankers gone bad,” The Summer Kitchen shows the human side of financial misfortune and the innocent families that get caught in the aftermath of the crime.

Q. The Summer Kitchen tells the story of this affluent family’s loss of wealth and social prominence—a story of our times. Are you trying to relate any message?

A. The novel is really an inspirational story about the transcendent power of perspective. As the Grateful Dead once sung so aptly, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” For the novel’s protagonist Nora Banks, losing her material worth and just about everything else in her life is the crucible that forges a more evolved outlook. She begins to see things really for the first time, her relationship with her children, the goodness in her marriage, gems of wisdom hidden in the most unlikely places.

Q. How much of the story of The Summer Kitchen is based on your life?

A. Like the husband in the novel, Evan Banks, my ex-husband was incarcerated for a time for a white-collar crime. I wrote The Summer Kitchen during those years while raising our darling boys on my own and suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as they say. None of this is to say that the book is a memoir. My experience served as inspiration for a book. The characters and plot are fictional.

Q. Is there a message you are trying to relate regarding white-collar crime?

A. I neither condemn nor excuse Evans’s crime, but rather present him in all his humanity. If I convey any message on the subject, it’s that nothing is black and white. This character did commit one crime, but otherwise lives a moral life. Whereas the legal system that convicted him turns out itself to be morally blurred. Those who judge from the sidelines all too often turn out to have their own shortcomings. Even the bereft protagonist wife was flawed. Her financial irresponsibility put pressure on her husband. So how do you really judge someone?

Q. You give readers a juicy insider’s view of the exclusive world of the community of Bedford, New York, without either pillorying or glorifying this community. How do you manage this unique perspective?

A. I wrote with first-hand knowledge, since I once lived in Bedford. But I wasn’t born and bred in the community, so I don’t feel protective of it. And journalism trained me not only to look for the telling details, but also to let those speak for themselves rather than editorializing them. I guess I was an insider with outsider eyes.

Q. In what ways are you like your character Nora Banks, and in what ways are you different?

A. Nora has three young sons and so do I, and she develops a worldview similar to my own: not to care if anyone judges you or says something unkind; not to give money undue value or to let it control your life; and to live your life on terms true to your own heart. But I am not blonde, and I grew up in Australia, not Rhode Island. She’s a better baker, too.

Q. Why does food play such an important role in the book?

A. I grew up the daughter of a cookbook author and food columnist. As such, I’ve always associated good food with the written word and motherhood. The Summer Kitchen is a story about one woman’s struggle to find her bearings after losing everything. Among the only constants in her life are her children, her role as mother, and her passion for baking. She searches for solace and help in all the wrong places, only to discover that she had all along what she was looking for: family, passions, good food, they are what are real and important.

** Reprinted here with permission from St.Martins ** 

Karen Weinreb is a journalist with an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a postgraduate degree from Oxford University. She has written for newspapers in Australia, where she was born, and for magazines in the United States, where she now lives with her family. For more information, visit http://www.karenweinreb.com/.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Article by Laura Dave, Author of The Divorce Party

5 Reasons to Stay with the Person You Love
By Laura Dave
Author of The Divorce Party: A Novel

One of my favorite quotes about love and marriage comes from Oscar Wilde: A Man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her. While that saying makes me laugh, Wilde is also getting to something important: Marriage is tricky. And in today's society where the martial woes of everyone from the Sanfords to John and Kate Gosselin are headline news, we are presented with every reason in the world to give up on our relationships -- and fewer and fewer reasons to stay. While researching my most recent novel, I sat down and spoke to women, men, and married couples about why they do stay. And, sometimes, why they wished they had.

This is the best advice I've found.

1. Love is a decision
Watching Governor Sanford stand up over these past weeks and speak about how he found his soul mate in his Argentinean lover reminded me of something Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun and author, wrote about Sweat Lodges. She wrote that the only way to be in a Sweat Lodge -- to experience all that it brings -- is to sit far from the exit. Because if you sit too close, you will find a reason to use it.

The same is true of any long-term relationship. If you decide to look for an exit, you will always be able to find it: whether it comes in the form of another lover, or another life. But the couples I spoke with who decided to commit to their marriages and relationships -- to be present for them, to help them grow more sacred -- told me that they were immeasurably rewarded for that decision. The more committed they grew to their marriages -- the further they sat from the exit -- the more joy and peace they found there.

2. There is No Weakness In Forgiveness
I'm not happy anymore; or I'm disappointed; or I have doubts. Three familiar catchphrases that free us up to not work to bring a relationship back to a positive place. In fact, we are conditioned these days to believe that the brave thing is to move on when the honeymoon is over. But that very standard makes it hard for any long-term relationship to survive inevitable disappointments.

While some would argue that it is brave to pick up and start a new life when a relationship begins to ebb, the truly brave thing -- the hard and valuable thing -- is to figure out how to find a new flow together. As one couple, who is happily married after 40 years together, informed me, "The most invaluable gifts come on the other side of the bad periods. If we hadn't forgiven each other for the hard times, we never would have experienced such good ones."

3. Someone New Won't Be New For Long
One factor is consistent in all studies of marriages and long-term relationships: a main cause of divorce and separation is infidelity. Those that stray (statistically, women as much as men these days) sight many factors as reasons: a breakdown in passion, a breakdown in communication, a breakdown . . .

But statistics also tell us that the chance of a relationship born from infidelity being successful is less than 1 and 100. Less than 1%. More often than not, the best thing someone new has going for him or her is being . . . new. And, once they aren't anymore, you are left in an even more precarious position.

Whoever you choose -- it always comes down to one thing. How hard are you willing to fight to make the relationship work? How easily are you willing to give your relationship away?

4. Often the Person You Are Running From Is You
Surprisingly, of all the reasons couples gave me for why they chose to end their marriage or relationship, the loss of love or mutual friendship was often notably absent. It often came down to something else: the desire to start a new life. To not grow old. Or, at least, to not feel like they were.

It is difficult to stay with the person who knows you best when you don't like what we see in the mirror. It may be easier to blame your partner than to take a hard look at yourself. But, at the end of the day, it isn't your partner's responsibility to change your self-image, or to fix your self-doubt. It's yours. And, if we want to like ourselves better, running out on a person who likes us the way we are isn't a wise starting point.

5. You Don't Need A Reason
Like anything worth having in this life, marriage and long-term commitment are hard work. Sometimes knowing that can be enough to help us not pick at the scabs while they are healing, to not make things worse as opposed to letting them feel better. As a lovely couple in Seattle Washington reminded me, things will feel better. "Be good to each other, be patient. If you allow it, love always lives through that."

©2009 Laura Dave, author of The Divorce Party: A Novel

Author Bio
Laura Dave is the author of the acclaimed novels The Divorce Party and London Is the Best City in America. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Self,Redbook, ESPN the Magazine, and The New York Observer. Dave graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. In August, Cosmopolitan magazine named her as one of the eight "Fun and Fearless Phenoms" of 2008. She lives in California.

For more information, please visit http://lauradave.com/
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Author Guest Post - Diane Craver

Readers, please join me welcoming Diane Craver author of Whitney In Charge who will be guest blogging here today!

SKYDIVING


PhotobucketWhen people give writing advice, one of the things they say is "Write what you know."

Well, I think that is true to a certain extent, but not always. I believe you should be adventuresome and write what you don't know. Get out of your comfort zone and experience life. If you don't feel like doing something new, like skydiving, driving race cars, playing rugby, bungee jumping, or flying your own plane, then research what you have never done and write about it. You don't have to actually do something that scares the heck out of you. Let your characters do the unique hobbies.

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That's what happened with my idea to have skydiving in my book, Whitney In Charge. I have never gone skydiving, but from what I have read about skydiving and heard from my daughter's friend, it sounds like an awesome thing to experience. Consequently, I decided to put this unusual hobby in a romance. I'd have the heroine jump an altitude of 9,000 feet or higher even though she's scared of heights. She would feel the exhilaration of freefall and then would enjoy the scenic glide under parachute back to earth. I could get my thrill from writing about skydiving, but yet wouldn't have to risk my own life to do it.

I put my own fear of heights into the mind-set of Whitney. When her older sisters, Shannon and Regan tell her in the first chapter to go skydiving to meet hot guys, Whitney refuses.

We happen to have the perfect place for my husband Tom and me to go skydiving. I think it might be a neat thing to do to celebrate the anniversary of our first date. Sure, we still do something special on the first date anniversary even though we have been married for years. There happens to be a place to go skydiving in Xenia, Ohio, just outside of the greater Dayton-Miami Valley area and is situated on a private airport and offers a large landing for the skydivers. It's within a reasonable driving distance to where we live, which is twenty-five miles from Cincinnati. What is so remarkable about this location is I met Tom in Xenia. We were both employed at an orphanage for our first teaching jobs and lived on campus with the kids.

Until I get the courage to try skydiving, get checked out by a cardiologist, and make a new will, I can live through my character Whitney. She is not a wimp and overcomes two main fears in my new release, Whitney In Charge.

Do you have any exotic hobbies? Or do you have some you'd love to try but haven't yet?

Thank you for that entertaining post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

About the Book: 

PhotobucketWhitney Benson is tired of her older sisters’ attempts to fix her up with every single male they meet. Shannon and Regan cross the line when they arrange for her to go skydiving with the simple excuse that more guys like to float in the air than women. Whitney needs to find something else to keep them busy.

When she suggests that the three of them start a family business, the fun begins in their small town. And she thought being a TV producer in New York had been exciting.

Without going skydiving, Whitney meets two eligible bachelors, Jack and Ben, who constantly battle for her affection. Which one will she choose? Both men make Whitney realize, even a heart shattered by her husband’s death, can once again be made whole.

But did she have to fall off a cliff to learn that?

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Author Guest Post - Wahida Clark

Readers, please join me welcoming Author Wahida Clark who will be guest blogging here today!

The story behind Thug Lovin’ highlights the series’ favorite ghetto fab couple since Beyonce and Jay-Z: Trae and Tasha. The couple relocates from New York to sunny California, looking forward to a new start. However, in addition to the new start, old behaviors resurface in both of them.

This book was a huge challenge because not only are they the favorite couple of the majority of my readers, they are my favorite couple as well. I have grown attached to them. I was forced to choose between keeping them perfect, lovey, dovey, couple, resulting in the pages read like a soap opera gone bad, or tainting them, thus creating an emotional, unpredictable, breath taking, roller coaster of a ride, page-turner leaving the fans gasping for air. I chose the latter.

Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Author Guest Post - Belinda Acosta

Readers, please join me welcoming Author Belinda Acosta who will be guest blogging here today!

PhotobucketOn how Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz came to be:

When I was contacted about writing a series on quinceañeras I had just reviewed Julia Alvarez’s nonfiction book, Once Upon a Quinceañera for The Austin Chronicle. So, the subject was in high on my radar. What intrigued me about the subject was similar to what intrigued Alvarez, I think: What does it mean to be a woman today? Is there something about the Latina experience that is unique? Why have a ritual to mark this “passage”? Where did the tradition stem from? And on and on and on. I find it amusing that I did not have a quinceañera, I had never been to one prior to writing this book, and I don’t have any children. I do know, from first hand experience, how complicated the relationship between mothers and daughters can be. Part of what makes Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz stand out is that it focuses on that relationship—the good and the bad, hopefully, with heart and candor.

PhotobucketOn writing and writers I admire:
My two writing heroes are Flannery O’Connor and Harper Lee. I have great respect for Lorna Dee Cervantes, Wendall Berry, Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, Helena Maria Viramontes, Lorraine Lopez, Alex Espinosa, Luis Alberto Urrea, Manuel Muñoz, and many others. When I was younger, I was trying to mimic O’Connor, which is hilarious—a Midwest Chicana going southern gothic? But I love that I tried. Ultimately, what I take from all the writers I admire is an appreciation for the beauty of their prose. I revel in a well-written sentence, a lovely image, and words that make you want to lift them from the page and examine them like tiny stones. I like to think that all of them influence me in some way, but that somehow, I’ve happened upon my own style.  I hope I’ve outgrown my mimicking days. For one thing, I don’t have time! But I also think it’s a common thing among young writers. Except for those few savants out there, I think writers spend a long time in their journeyman years, experimenting, mimicking, reading, writing, failing, waiting, giving up and finally learning what kind of writer we want to be.

Thank you for that entertaining post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

About the Author:
Belinda Acosta works as a journalist in Austin, Texas, writing reviews and features on books, film, and the arts, in addition to a weekly column on television (TV Eye) for the Austin Chronicle. Her work has appeared in Poets & Writers, Latino USA, Latino Magazine, AlterNet and other publications. She was a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin where she received her MFA in Writing in 1997. Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz (Grand Central Publishing, August 2009) is her first novel.

Useful URLs:
http://qclubbooks.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/La-quinceanera-club-books-de-Belinda-Acosta/137625675297
http://tinyurl.com/cmwks3

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Author Guest Post - Linwood Barclay

Today I'm pleased to welcome Linwood Barclay, author of Fear the Worst. His guest post here today is part of this book's virtual tour, courtesy Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

PhotobucketFear the Worst hit bookstores on August 11th, and many readers are already calling it the best of my thrillers so far. Fast-moving, loads of suspense, a real page-turner. But something no one seems to have zeroed in on is the thing that makes this thriller very different.

The hero is a car salesman.

In most thrillers, our protagonist is, to varying degrees, familiar with crime and those who practice it. Maybe he or she's a spy, or ex-military. A cop or a private detective. An FBI agent. A profiler, maybe.

But the hero is not, generally, someone who sells Honda Accords.

People who sell Hondas are not typically acquainted with the bad guy element. (I'd like to go out on a limb here and say this is also true of people who sell Fords, Toyotas, Nissans, and most other makes.) Tim Blake, who tells the story and sells Hondas for a living, has had his share of troubles over the years, but none that brought him face to

face with fraud artists, human traffickers and killers. But when his daughter Sydney goes missing, he finds himself getting introduced to a whole new class of people.

When I was thinking about what the hero in this book would do for a living, I knew I didn't want it to be police work. I had no interest in having him work for a secret government agency. I didn't want him to be a reporter. (That's my next book.) I wanted him to have a normal, everyday job. And that's when "car salesman" popped into my head.

Let's face it, car salesmen get kind of a bad rap. And that's too bad.

I have a couple of good friends who have sold cars their entire working lives. I've bought cars from them, and I've been happy with the deals they gave me. And they both helped me with this book.

But our relationship with car salesmen (and saleswomen) tends to be somewhat adversarial. We want to get the car for as little as possible. They want to make the deal, getting as much profit as possible. We need wheels and they need the commission. We say we can't spend that much, they say they can't do it for that. Finally, they say, "Let me talk to my manager and see what we can do."

That, we figure, is when they wander out back of the dealership and have a smoke.

Anyway, once I'd made up my mind what Tim was going to do for a living, I invited my retired car salesmen friends Carl and Mike out for lunch and asked them to tell me their best stories. Like the one where the guy took a pickup truck for a test drive and used it to deliver manure. (That story finds its way into Fear the Worst.) Or that other test-drive when a new Toyota Celica ended up sitting atop a

fireplug, and the prospective buyer was nowhere to be found. They had great tales, and what came out was that they'd really enjoyed their careers. Why? "Because of the people," they both said.

I like writing about people -- regular people. I like writing about what happens to ordinary folks when extraordinary things happen to them. Tim Blake is a regular guy about to be plunged into a parent's worst nightmare. Nothing in his life has prepared him for what's about to happen.

I like that.

As this blog is posted, I’ll just be getting back from promoting Fear the Worst in New Zealand, having already spent a few days in Hong Kong and two weeks in Australia. Everyone down there is pumped about Fear the Worst, and I'm hoping North American readers will feel the same way.

Thank you for that entertaining post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

About the Author: Linwood Barclay is a former columnist for the Toronto Star. He is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including Too Close to Home and No Time for Goodbye, a #1 bestseller in Britain. He lives near Toronto with his wife and has two grown children. His website is www.linwoodbarclay.com
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Spotlight: : F. W. vom Scheidt's Coming For Money

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About the Author:

F. W. vom Scheidt is a director of an international investment firm. He works and travels in the world’s capital markets, and makes his home in Toronto, Canada. He is also the author of a new book, Coming for Money (Blue Butterfly Book Publishing), a remarkable and provocative novel about the world of international finance and the human quests for success, understanding and love. You can find out more about his book at http://www.bluebutterflybooks.ca/titles/money.html.

About the Book:

How much money is too much? And how fast is too fast in life?

International investment firm director and author F. W. vom Scheidt, writes from his first hand-hand experience of the world of global money spinning with candor and authenticity in his remarkable literary novel Coming for Money.

As investment star Paris Smith steps onto the top rungs of the corporate ladder, he is caught between his need for fulfillment and his need for understanding; trapped between his drive for power and his inability to cope with his growing emptiness where there was once love. When his wife disappears from the core of his life, his loneliness and sense of disconnection threaten to overwhelm him. When he tries to compensate by losing himself in his work, he stumbles off the treadmill of his own success, and is entangled in the web of a fraudulent bond deal that threatens to derail his career and his life.

Forced to put his personal life on hold while he travels nonstop between Toronto, Singapore and Bangkok to salvage his career, he is deprived of the time and space necessary to regain his equilibrium.

In the heat and turmoil and fast money of Southeast Asia, half a world from home, and half a life from his last remembered smile, he finds duplicity, friendship and power --- and a special woman who might heal his heart.

A talented author, vom Scheidt has confidently crafted a fast-paced, highly readable and intelligent novel. His details are fascinating. His characters are real, and not easily forgotten. A deeply felt story about the isolation of today’s society, the prices great and small paid for success and the damages resulting from the ruthless exercise of financial power, Coming For Money is a taut literary page-turner about a man who refuses to capitulate to the darkness in his journey into the light.

Excerpt

PhotobucketThe executive offices of the Bank of South Asia filled the penthouse of a chrome and glass tower rising from the foot of Battery Road on the edge of Singapore’s harbour.

It was always as if the money possessed some kind of negative density or inverted gravity—the more you concentrated it, the higher it lifted its players to the upper reaches of office towers and condominium towers and hotel towers. As the quantity of money swelled, it lost its weight of coinage and bills. A room full of it could be evaporated into a string of zeros on a single bank draft, more flimsy than an airline ticket; a truck-load could be zapped around the world at the snap of a computer key.

Stepping out from the dizzying upward rush and spine-compressing halt of the high-speed elevator, I hesitated in the bank’s airy foyer.

Broad two-storey-high windows sectioned up a panoramic view of the rows of cargo vessels baking on the brilliant water far below as they waited to enter the churned brown channels of the busy harbour. The darker ocean spread out, glassy, beyond them, and, in the steamy distance, the verdant islands of the Indonesian archipelago floated dreamlike along the lip of the South China Sea.

The bronze tinting of the glass turned patches of sunlight into a mottled pink carpet at my feet; the instability of the shimmering light on the marble floor taxing my limited reserves of balance.

I was reminded that, in non-stop travel, I had made poor trades of day for night without any rest, tropical heat for Canadian cold without sufficient fluids; I was now paying the price in exhaustion and dehydration.

My vision was jagged at its edges from fatigue.

I was jittery from harsh Asian coffee on an unsettled stomach.

I had arrived at midnight; plunged through a few hours sleep; risen, restless and un-rested, out of ripples of jet lag at dawn; spent the early morning polishing off a pot of room service coffee, surfing CNN, repeatedly rehearsing this negotiation in my mind from a handful of different perspectives and likely outcomes; and had come directly to the bank’s offices for their nine o’clock opening.

Still, now that I was here, I was more confident; my optimism returning from memory, fed by the headlong momentum of my travel and arrival, if by nothing else. In dashing halfway across the world without pausing for breath, I had given substance to my initiative and commitment; I had proved my willingness to go the distance. I was sustained also by my unflagging conviction that I was the only one who truly understood all of the complexities of the deal; like breath blown onto an ember to bring forth a glow, my seizing control of the bond issue would bring it back to vibrant success.

A final exhale to focus. I waded boldly across the swirling marble under the balls of my feet, pushed through the glass doors to the reception desk.

The receptionist grinned happily, recognizing me immediately, chirped a request into her telephone that, within several minutes, which we passed in courteous intermittent chatting, produced Albert Quan.

Balding, trim, tailored, Albert Quan was hurried in his handshake. “How very good to see you Mr. Smith.” Then, without change in tempo, he added, “Were we expecting you? Our corporate finance group perhaps?”

“No,” I stated evenly, “I came to see you. I flew twenty-six hours. Almost directly from our telephone discussion earlier this week.”

“Then I had better not delay you any further.” Albert Quan amply rounded up the tone of his response in feigned urgency to mitigate the inevitable confrontation lurking in our exchange.

Swimming upstream against my instincts and experience, towing my haggard sunrise rehearsal, I held my impatience in check as I followed Albert Quan down the hall to his office, declining refreshment as we seated ourselves in facing armchairs.

Crossing his ankles, leaning back slightly, Albert Quan opened with, “I very much hope that you are not expecting anything further on the Bangkok Commercial Bank bond deal.”

“I am. And of course you know that.”

“I thought I had made it very clear. That we both understood. That we closed that matter in our telephone conversation.”

“We would like it re-opened.”

Albert Quan was broadly avuncular, conciliatory, “Then I’m afraid you have come a very long way for nothing. There’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. It fully belongs to Amsterdam Bank. We don’t have the slightest role. We don’t even have the slightest carried interest. I can do nothing.”

This Spotlight is part of the book's virtual tour, courtesy Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
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