Friday, December 21, 2012

Come In - A Poem

This is a poem featured in Pump Up The Volume. In my opinion it was one of the best movies ever made and this poem (as well as the character who wrote it) was most definitely a pop-culture "game changer" for me. I was 14 when I first heard this piece, and I've been enamored with poetry ever since.

Come In
by Nora (the 'Eat me, Beat me' lady) DiNiro

Every night you enter me like a criminal.
You break into my brain,
but you're no ordinary criminal.
You put your feet up,
you drink your can of Pepsi,
you start to party,
you turn up my stereo.
Songs I've never heard,
but I move anyway.
You get me crazy,
I say 'Do it.'
I don't care what,
just do it.
Jam me, jack me,
push me, pull me
-talk hard!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Author Interview – Jean Booth: The Dead, Undead, and Supernatural. Plus a Giveaway!

I was introduced to Jean Booth by Thomas Amo, author of An Apple For Zoe and Forever Me, quite some time ago. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I hadn't (until recently) taken the time to really look into her work.

What I found were diamonds in the rough. Books that I likely wouldn’t have picked up, based on their covers, but stories that were well crafted and tales that I truly enjoyed.

I have been given the privilege to interview Jean Booth. I'm sure you'll find her and her work as interesting as I do. 

Jean has multiple titles, including the intriguing Zombie War books, which I honestly can't say enough nice things about. Consumed, the 4th book in her adult Paranormal Romance/Supernatural series, Origins, will be releasing very soon. From what I have read of her work the stories tend to be a bit shorter than I'd prefer, and not always the easiest to “get into” (if you haven’t read the preceding books in the series), but her character driven style makes the tales she weaves truly gems worthy of note.

Jean has graciously said that not only will she answer my questions below, but she will also give away a free eBook of Choice (the first book in the Origins series) to anyone who comments on the interview with questions for her. 

So, remember: After you read the interview you can click though all the links listed below, but you should also leave a question in the comments section for Jean and get your free eBook!


The "Blurb":
For three hundred years I lived with Stephan; learning about the culture forced upon me, growing as a pyrokinetic vampire and healing from Mneseus' century of abuse. Before Stephan's guidance and direction, I was an empty shell. His kindness, compassion and just beliefs showed me that there could be a life without pain. Over time, I learned to love again. Foolishly I believed Stephan and I would be partners, comfortable and content without half-life for eternity.

Then She came and ruined it.

I left them to find a place I could spend the rest of my lonely years. Mneseus' last words reverberated through the centuries, reminding me, I wasn't worthy of love. It would be now, when I finally resigned myself to an eternity of solitude, that I would find it. 

Logan was everything I'd ever needed in a man, with one fatal flaw. Could I look past that, risking my heart, my future and his very life to be with him? Was love truly enough?

While I have read the Zombie War books I am not as familiar with the Origins series. I have read  a bit about them over the last few days on Goodreads, as well as Amazon. What I have read about the books makes certain questions jump to mind and others unavoidable to ask (if you have access to the author… which I do.)

I think the best way to start, Jean, is with your world. Can you give me a little understanding of the world that the Characters of the Origin series exist in? How would you describe the differences of their world and the one we live in?

Origins is set in today's time. It starts out in modern America and develops from there. We travel from the implied Nevada desert, to Miami, FL., to Bimini, to the heart of ancient/modern Atlantis, to the wilds of South America 400 years prior, ending with Consumed set in Michigan. I guess the main differences between today's world and my world is that Atlantis is real and supernatural beings hide in the shadows, waiting to be revealed.

This series seems to have a deep and rich setting. Beyond that background, that world, what do you think sets your series apart from other series of the same genre? 

Most of the supernatural books I've read (and I've read a LOT) center around supernaturals hiding in the shadows or dealing with years after the revelation that they exist. I've never read a series that depicts what happens during the revelation that supernaturals walk amongst us. Mine tells that story, along with how they came into being in the first place.

What inspired you to write this series in this genre?

I've always liked vampires and werewolves. I think the whole genre is romantic and terrifying at the same time. I've been reading books on the occult/supernatural since I was in high school and never before had I had a real understanding of how they came into being. They always just were. I thought it'd be fun to tell the story of how they were created and why.

Origins has definitely taken twists and turns for me that I hadn't expected and make it challenging to write. I've taken my ideas and tried to connect them into both the reality of our culture and history and the realities and cultures of this genre. I think it makes for a plausible story.

Going into the initial writing of the Origin series of books, what (if anything) did you feel was missing from the Paranormal Romance genre that you wanted to add?

LOL! I think I kinda answered this in the earlier question; however, I always wanted to read a story about how they began. What started the whole vampire/shifter/magic beings? Somehow this question has always reminded me of the "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" scenario. I wanted to develop their beginnings, show how they became what they are.

What, if anything, do you think you’ve learned (as a writer) from the experience of writing and publishing this series of books? 

Holy crap! Everything!! Before writing Choice, I've never even attempted to write a novel, let alone a series. I wrote poetry in high school and would have debates/discussions with friends and family about this genre to the point where my mom suggested I write them down. I had no idea how challenging writing really was. From doing research to make my tale believable, to writing dialogue that doesn't suck was the first challenge. Then it was deciding if I wanted to go Traditional or Indie. After realizing how long I'd potentially be waiting to get my book published going the Traditional route, I chose Indie and opened a whole new can of worms.

I consider myself a starving artist and therefore do everything myself. I paint my covers, depicting scenes from the books I want to highlight, do all my formatting, editing and publishing. I've learned all this as I go, figuring out what works and what doesn't as well as how to do all of it. It's been fun, yet extremely challenging. I've also learned that I'm shyer than I thought and have an extremely difficult time putting myself (and by proxy, my books) out there to be judged.

What was the most unexpectedly difficult part of writing Consumed (book four in this series)? 

The ending.

I usually have the endings done before the book reaches the half-way point, but I didn't with this book. I had a few different paths that I could go down with the characters, yet I wasn't entirely certain I wanted to add that drama into the storyline or not. The ending took me about a month to get through, which is an extremely long time for me.

How does writing the Origins series compare to the other books you’ve released?

Origins is very complex compared to my other books. I have an erotica novella that is basically 30 pages of sex that I never expected to write, as well as a zombie horror trilogy that I literally dreamt up. Origins is longer than those, with more time devoted to research.

What do you find to be more personally challenging as an author… Characters and dialog or locations and detailed exposition?

Oooh. I think that would have to be the characters. I find it difficult to write the basic traits of the characters without them seeming narcissistic or going into explicit detail, especially with the stories being written in first person. I think it gets easier the more I write, but the first time I was writing about what Natasha looked like sucked. She was looking into a mirror trying to decide if she approved and I must have rewritten that about 15 times.

I know you have written books outside of the Origins series. Do you have any plans to publish work in any other genres that you haven’t already tackled?

Yes! I've currently touched on Paranormal Romance as well as erotica and zombie horror, but I also have a dragon book in the works as well as a memoir, science fiction, military suspense and a serial killer novel.

To be honest, I never actually wanted to write a romance. When I started writing Origins, I intended it to be suspense/action. My characters had other plans. The only genre I have no desire to write in is Young Adult; however that's not to say the characters won't take me down that road as they did with romance...

Wow. I’m honestly impressed with how much thought, and the kind of thought, you put into your process. I’d like to turn things now, however in a more personal direction and ask you some questions to let readers get to know a bit more about you as a person. 

I’ll begin, as I am want to do, with the least imaginative question… that I always ask: Can you tell the readers at home a little bit about yourself?

I'm a very shy homebody. Getting out to talk to others, even in this kind of venue scares the absolute crap out of me. I'm definitely an introvert who married an extroverted homebody. Kind of an oxymoron, but there it is.

I'm 31 and spent my entire adult life working in healthcare. I currently work nights in a locked inpatient psychiatric institute and while it does have its enjoyable moments, my passion is writing. I've been reading since I was about six and have always adored fantasy. I like to stay busy so I usually have four or five projects going on at once on top of working full time and trying to write full time 

I completely understand that. I always have dozens of projects going at once. It helps me fight writers block. If I hit a wall on one project I can simply shift gears into another project.

Oh! I also am the resident crazy cat lady. I always tell my husband he saves me from being the official CCL, because in all the tales, she was never married, but together we live very happily with nine cats.

I am highly allergic to cats. If I were not, however, I'm positive my wife would have already collected many as well. 

What books or authors do you feel have most influenced your writing, be it characters, setting, or style?

Laurell K. Hamilton showed me how to start my books. I'd read her blog then read her stories and find correlating scenes that had happened to her in real life. It was through reading and dissecting her work that I figured out how to begin.

Steve Alten is up there as one of my favorite authors because of all the research he does to make his stories plausible. When I have questions about my writing, I make sure I double check history, sociology and demographics of what I'm talking about for authenticity. I want you to feel like this could actually happen, even though it's complete fiction.

Alyssa Day first introduced me into the possibility of Atlantis being involved with vampires, although I see things a bit differently than she does.

Kelley Armstrong introduced me to a different viewpoint for werewolves and because of her, I'll never look at them the same again.

There is certainly no denying the talent of Kelly Armstrong, and Laurell K. Hamilton certainly knows how to nurture a rabid fan base. I'd say you've certainly got taste.

If you had to choose just one... and I know this is not an easy question for most writers... which author would you consider the most influential to you?

Hmm, that would have to be Steve Alten. I read his story, The Loch, on a whim and couldn't put it down. I realize it's complete fiction, but I desperately want to go to Scotland and see for myself if that cavern really does exist. I want to write like that. I want my readers to not be able to put my books down and to think to themselves, "This could really happen!" That's my dream, influenced by an amazing author.

In the world of writing and publishing, an author has to take support where they find it. Where would you say you've found the most support for your work outside of family and friends?

That would definitely be a little group I got connected with on Facebook called The Collective.

I was floundering one day, trying to figure out how on earth to publish my books when I ran across an author that literally gave me hope by simply being his wonderful self. Thomas Amo, thank-you for introducing me to our fellow authors in the Collective and for creating a support group for Indie Authors.

Thomas is a great guy, but he's also quite the wordsmith in his own right. I have to agree with you though, he is a very supportive person and surrounds himself with equally supportive people.

I probably would've given up if it weren't for these wonderful people. I'd like to consider them friends, but we've never met, and I never would've talked to them had it not been for writing.

Are there any new authors/books that have grabbed your interest recently?

I'm starting to get more into Indie Authors, now that I've joined their ranks. To be honest, I held to the snooty belief that because a writer couldn't find a publisher, they sucked. That is totally wrong. Sure there are the duds in Indies, but there are duds in traditionally published as well. I've been reading and finding myself enjoying loads of new Indie Books.

One of my faves is M.E. Franco who also writes vamps, along with Michelle Muto, and surprisingly Nicky Charles. I also recently read Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, a book that I didn't expect to like, yet ended up bawling my eyes out to.

What are the last three books you read (or are you reading now)?

I'm currently re-reading my favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. I just finished with The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen, not a book I thought I'd enjoy as I'm not a big fan of religious themed books, but it's really good. Before that I read the werewolf trilogy by Nicky Charles. I really enjoyed Nicky's take on wolves and how the books really stayed centered on the few main characters.

What are you currently writing?

I'm kinda taking a break from writing at the moment. However, I did touch base on my memoir last night and have some ideas percolating for book 5 in Origins. I'd also like to get the final book out for the zombie trilogy by May, but I'm not sure that's going to happen. We'll see.

While I am pleased to see that another book might soon be forthcoming in your Zombie series, I will admit that I am sad to think it might be the end of the series. 

As a follow up question, is there any hope that we’ll see Cybernetic Mermen in your future fiction?

LOL! You're a mind-reader!!!

I was just thinking about that the other day! I have absolutely no idea if I'm going to include Mermen into the story or not. It would make sense, however, to have them as part of the Nymph's abilities, but I'm just not sure if I want to go down that road yet or not. It's part of the percolating ideas. :)

The one standard interview question I have to ask (it is required by law, you know?): Do you have any rules, pointers, or advice for other writers just starting out?

Breathe. Ask questions. We've all been there and most of us (the good ones anyway) are willing to help. Write a book you want to read, chances are, other's have been looking for it too. Once you've written the book you've been waiting for, for the love of God, get it edited. If that means you're like me and nit pick every minute detail, taking a break from looking at pages every 5 minutes just to keep yourself detached from the story, then do it. I'm not saying it has to be perfect, or that any book out there is (including mine) but it's very distracting to continuously read run-on sentences in a REALLY GOOD book.

The most important thing I've learned from this experience is if you don't love it, if writing isn't your passion, leave. Find what is. Do what you love, what puts that spark in your eyes as you talk about it. If that happens to be writing, find a support group of other authors. People who don't write don't really understand what goes into writing. You need to be able to talk to others, to get ideas, to vent frustrations to someone who truly understands.

Now that you’ve put up with all my questions… I’ll ask one last question that should be more fun to answer. Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers and fans? Any tempting teasers or the like?

You guys are absolutely AWESOME!!! I absolutely love getting messages, comments, or e-mails from y'all talking about the books. I love getting feedback and getting to know you guys. For those of you who've been upset with me for putting Natasha on the back burner, never fear, she's back as the speaker for the next book. I never intended to deviate from her story and for that I do apologize, but Victoria's story needed to be told. I leave you with a teaser from Consumed. It's a story within the story, Victoria's explaining what happened to her after Stephan found her, her first glimpse of the sun in over 80 years. Enjoy :)

A teaser from Consumed:

I'd never been away from my homeland before and was nervous to start my journey. Fear and excitement warred within me as I watched Stephan prepare his men for travel. Most were assigned to watch the few that Stephan deemed salvageable from Mneseus' prison. Stephan himself wanted to get home faster and kept glancing over at me. Finally, he sighed in resignation.

"Victoria, I must return to my lands. However, I find myself in an uncomfortable position as I'm not sure what to do." He began, looking uncomfortable and unsure of himself. It was a posture I knew instinctively that he wasn't familiar with, yet would perfect it over time with me.

"I'd prefer to stay with you." I stated immediately, sensing part of his dilemma.

He sighed again.

"I was going to run to the docks, but perhaps a more leisurely route would be acceptable as well." He mused aloud. I could practically see different scenarios playing out in his head.

"I like running." I replied softly.

He glanced at me in surprise.

"When he'd take me to feed, we'd run. I always enjoyed the run." I admitted softly. Stephan would never know what it cost me to admit that. Any time Mneseus learned of something I'd enjoyed, he found a way to destroy it. I didn't want my running to be taken from me.

He smiled.

"Well, that makes things easier then. Come my dear, we'll be home in no time." He held out his hand for me.

It was my turn to look uncomfortable. I still held my books tightly against my breast, unwilling to leave them behind with these strangers. They were my life's work and I treasured them above all else. He seemed to catch onto my hesitation without me having to utter a word.

"Hold on one moment." He said with a grin that transformed his face. He was off, talking to one of his men in a rapid language I didn't understand, returning within moments with something in his hands.

"It's a satchel. You can place your books inside and carry them with you as you run." He explained, holding it out to me.

I smiled, placing all the books into the pouch and slinging it over my head. It was a strange way to hold them, but effective. I enjoyed this satchel thing.

When I was ready, we ran through the forest that had once been my home. We left the others with strict instructions on how to return to Stephan's safely. Stephan seemed to trust his men implicitly. They'd arrive at Stephan's within a week of us.

The run was exhilarating! I felt so alive, so free as the forest whipped by my cheeks. The satchel was amazing. I was able to feel the comforting weight of my books against my hip, yet still have the freedom to run and leap as my body adjusted to the changing landscape around us. Stephan stayed close by to make sure I was okay, glancing back a few times to grin at me.

There was sadness behind his grin but I waived it away. He'd just killed one of his own, witnessed horrible acts and had to destroy almost an entire dungeon filled with abominations. I could understand his grief. I too, warred with grief, fear and exhilaration. I was surprised at the sadness I felt for my life's change as well as leaving my homeland. While I knew Mneseus to be dead, I'd burned his remains with my own hands; I still feared that it wasn't over, that somehow he'd find a way to destroy my life from the grave.

We arrived at the docks just before sunrise. The sky had lightened into a dark blue, followed by an even lighter blue I hadn't seen in almost a century. I watched the sky lighten further as Stephan talked with a few of the men bustling about. I was extremely nervous being around so many strange people. I didn't like any of it.

I was absurdly grateful for consuming Stephan's blood earlier, knowing from my small consumption that he was extremely powerful and honorable. Without his blood coursing through my veins, I was certain I'd be munching on one of the dockworkers.

"Stephan!" My voice held an edge of panic as I called him over to me. The sky was starting to take on a pinkish hue and I was terrified of what would happen next.

"What's wrong child?" He asked, rushing to my side, concern etched onto his features.

"The sun!" I hissed, my eyes darting toward the lightening horizon. I was absolutely petrified. I couldn't fathom why he'd want to save me if he was just planning on watching the sun destroy me. While I'd craved death over the years, I'd never wanted to go out like Daniel had. The memory of him writhing in pain until his body turned to ash was not one I'd likely ever forget.

Stephan let out a surprised laugh, halting as he saw my expression of pure terror.

"You mean, you don't know?" He was astonished with my ignorance. Before allowing me to respond, he cursed in his native tongue.

"Gerald!" He bellowed to the man he'd been talking to earlier. "See to the arrangements. I shall return shortly."

The man he yelled at bowed respectfully, tilting his head slightly to show off the vulnerability of his exposed neck. It would be a gesture I'd remember years later. Now, I was too caught up with the threat of the sun's rays.

Stephan gripped my arm, leading me to a more secluded part of the beach where we were relatively alone. I could still hear the activity going on further down the beach, but we were far enough away that we had the illusion of privacy. Once he was content with our location, he turned me to face the dawn's light that was slowly caressing the trees that had contained me for a century.

"Forgive me Victoria. I thought you knew. I had no idea how much he kept hidden from you. We shall discuss things in length later, but for now, embrace the dawn." His hands smoothed across my shoulders, trying to offer a comfort I couldn't accept. He continued in a gentle whisper as the sun's rays reached over the tops of the trees. "While the sunlight is more intense than you were used to as a human, it will not harm you until you're much older. I want you to watch, to know that I will always speak the truth to you, that I'll do everything in my power to see to your safety and happiness."

I'd stopped listening to him. My slow heart was pounding in my chest as I gripped the satchel close to my chest, holding my books tightly to me as I waited for the sun to burn me to ash. I didn't trust Stephan. I didn't know him then.

I remember that sunrise as I remember no other before or after. No other sunrise was as beautifully terrifying as that one. It was as if the sun had never truly risen before that day, yet I can't recall a day after when it had been so spectacular. The sky was lit with a pink hue, highlighting the emerald green of the trees. It lightened even further, the tip of Inti's orb peeking through the tops of the trees, creating a halo of light to envy the god's beauty. The rays kissed my skin for the first time in almost a century.

A breath I didn't even know I'd been holding escaped my lips in a shocked gasp as I felt the first rays of Inti's light caress my cheeks. I gasped with its brilliance, the way the light reflected the colors around me and illuminated the trees. Even the sand at my feet glistened with joy at the dawn's first healing light.

My knees went weak. I couldn't blink for fear of missing even a moment of the brilliance before me. It was spectacular. Nothing could've prepared me for the impact of that one perfect moment.

I collapsed to the ground, tears spilling from my eyes. In just a few short hours Stephan had given me more than any other person ever had and demanded nothing from me in return. He was truly unlike any other I'd ever met before. In that moment, I knew. I knew here was a man I could trust, a man that would speak the truth to me, protect and care for me unlike any other. I felt his arms around my shoulders, offering comfort to me when I didn't even know I needed it. I leaned into his embrace, for the first time opening myself up to another and revealing my vulnerability.

"Thank-you." I whispered to him, unable to take my eyes off of the brilliance around me.

"Whatever for?" He asked; astonished that I would be thanking him for something he didn't do. He didn't make the sun rise, it happened daily.

"You've given me back the sun." I whispered as twin tears blurred my vision before spilling down my cheeks.


Jean Booth’s Vital Statistics and Online Details:

Jean lives in Nevada with her husband and cats. When she's not out risking her neck on the back of a motorcycle, she enjoys the more calm activities of reading, gardening, and spending time with her friends and family. She's worked in health care for most of her adult life before deciding to finally share the stories that have been living inside her head.





Remember to comment below with a question for Jean
and get your free eBook of Choice, Book One in the Origins Series!

The giveaway ends Friday, December 28th at midnight (US Central Time).

It only takes one comment with a question for Jean!

A Review - The Turn of the Screw

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

The Turn of the Screw is an absolute classic that I had almost completely forgotten about until recently. I've likely read it ten times over the years, but I had completely forgotten how much of an impact it can have until I recently found a copy and decided to give it another go. Assuming you can get past the dated language and just let the unnerving setting and characters slip into your mind and tell their story, you will be affected by it – the disturbing performers drifting about the eerie scenery... rattling around inside your imagination. (If that’s something you believe you’re inclined to enjoy.)

Basically the story is about a young governess who either heroically attempts to protect her two young charges at Bly house from malevolent spirits or slides horribly into a dangerous level of insanity. She begins to see apparitions of the former governess and another dead servant Quint, and becomes convinced that the orphaned brother and sister in her care can see them as well... and further, are being hunted by the ghosts.

It is never made clear by the author if the haunting is actually taking place, or if madness is simply claiming the unnamed governess (who happens to be our narrator). The author leaves any tangible, solid truth ambiguous. Questions are most certainly asked, but not answered.

I personally adore that style of storytelling. The ambiguity works. Granted, it is always aided by a creepy setting, with creepier children. It makes the story more compelling and more psychologically effective.

This Henry James masterpiece is most definitely worth the read.

- Dennis Sharpe

The Turn of the Screw on

The Turn of the Screw on (paperback)

The Turn of the Screw on (kindle) (Free, as of 12/19/2012)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Five Up-and-Coming Authors You Might Not Know... But Should.

I've always been an avid reader. Since an early age books were my favorite things. I could get lost in other worlds, take unforgettable journeys, and meet the most heroic or most intriguing and sometimes the most evil characters. Reading was more than a hobby, it was a passion - a love affair.

As I have spent more time writing over the last few years I've found that I have less and less time to read. 

Don't get me wrong, here. I still read a lot. However, these days I read with my kids more, and with so much on my plate it's become more difficult to find the time to really get into the volume of reading I had once been able to enjoy.

Because of this I have had to become a bit more selective when picking new conquests from me "to be read" pile. There are dozens upon dozens of titles that I plan to read, but many of those have gotten pushed back to the "some day" area. This makes me sad.

It is because of that, though, that when I come upon a gem I feel inclined to share it with others who may have limited time on their hands for reading... but, like me, adore reading. With that in mind (and with the gift giving season upon us) I have put together a list of five authors that I feel I need to recommend.

I have them listed below, in no particular order, with links to their websites, facebook pages, goodreads, twitter, amazon pages, etc.

I hope you enjoy their work as much as I have.


Mireille Chester

Mireille Chester is a stay at home mom of three children and wife to an amazingly supportive husband. Her time is spent playing with the kids, reading, writing, and watching movies with her hubby.

Since starting her novelling debut, she has had the pleasure of getting lost in several worlds. Quelondain, Dorathan, and Kallaryn are where she likes to spend her time and she hopes others will enjoy going there as well.

Mireille's series come for those in all age groups.

A good place to start with Mireille Chester's books, in my opinion would be with Chael's Luck. (Cover shown on right)

Mireille Chester on Goodreads
Mireille Chester on Amazon
Mireille Chester on Facebook
Mireille Chester on Twitter
Mireille Chester's Website

Kendall Grey

Kendall Grey, word wrangler, whale warrior, wicked wench, and lover of tongue-tripping alliteration, was born without an off-switch between her brain and mouth. She's been called the "Flux Capacitor of Twitter" and "A little package of love all wrapped up in F-word paper," but she's really just a maniacal writer relaying eyewitness accounts of the rave inside her head. She writes urban fantasy with strong romantic elements and also dabbles in erotica and horror on occasion.

Kendall lives off a dirt road near Atlanta, Georgia, but don't hold that against her.

A good place to start with Kendall Grey's books (not intended for children), in my opinion would be with Inhale. (Cover shown on right)

Kendall Grey on Goodreads
Kendall Grey on Amazon
Kendall Grey on Facebook
Kendall Grey on Twitter
Kendall Grey's Website

Megg Jensen

Megg has been a freelance parenting journalist since 2003 and began writing YA novels in 2009. She co-runs DarkSide Publishing, is a member of SCBWI, and blogs about writing while juggling freelancing, volunteering, and family life.

She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, two kids, and a miniature schnauzer, Ace.

A good place to start with Megg Jensen's books, in my opinion would be with Anathema. (Cover shown on right)

Megg Jensen on Goodreads
Megg Jensen on Amazon
Megg Jensen on Facebook
Megg Jensen on Twitter
Megg Jensen's Website

Ashley Chappell

Ashley Chappell currently resides in Huntsville, AL with the love of her life. She is a contractor for NASA in the Rocket City and during her writing time her cats sometimes share her lap with her computer, should they choose to allow the usurpation at all. She is an avid lover of nature who enjoys climbing, camping, hiking and sailing.

A good place to start with Ashley Chappell's books, in my opinion would be with Alice Will. (Cover shown on right)

Ashley Chappell on Goodreads
Ashley Chappell on Amazon
Ashley Chappell on Facebook
Ashley Chappell on Twitter
Ashley Chappell's Website

Thomas Amo

Thomas Amo has been writing since he was a boy. His dream was always to write for the movies, television, theatre. In the late 1990's he began a career as a full time theatrical producer and while running his own theatre company began writing plays for the stage. In 2000 his first novel was published. It would be another decade before he published again. In August of 2012 he finished epic YA novel, "Forever Me."

A good place to start with Thomas Amo's books, in my opinion would either be with An Apple For Zoe or Forever Me. (Covers shown on right)

Thomas Amo on Goodreads
Thomas Amo on Amazon
Thomas Amo on Facebook
Thomas Amo on Twitter
Thomas Amo's Website

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Review - Alice Will

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I feel duty bound to say up front that this book is best read by “cat people” as opposed to “dog people”… like me. That aside, this book won me over. It didn’t even take that long for it to do so.

I’ve done a lot more reading of Urban Fantasy and Modern Fantasy of late, and so this book was a pleasant breath of fresh air as it took me back into a realm of the Fantasy genre I hadn’t been to in a while. While this is definitely Fantasy Fare of the most classical kind, it is not a rehashing of previous stories; a retelling of Tolkien, Weis and Hickman, Salvatore, or Eddings. In fact the author, Chappell, has provided us here with anything but. It's amusing, interesting, and engaging, providing us with vividly fleshed out characters that are not only believable and relatable, but easy to become intellectually involved with.

I will not get into explanations of locations I enjoyed or characters I did (or did not) like, as I believe you should actually read the book for yourself. I wouldn’t recommend it to you if I didn’t feel that way about it. I also will not dwell on the finer points that disappointed me as that is subjective, and I know others who don’t agree with my assessments in that area.

What I will say is that when this book is good, which is 96.3% of the time, it is damn good. The world was rich, and while there were sequences that I will admit weren’t as good as others, I found myself so deeply bound to following the character’s lives I eagerly continued reading. I think of all the books I’ve read this year I would have to say this was the easiest and most enjoyable and relaxing read.

I will gladly return to follow any further adventures that Trotter (the main Character of Alice Will) has in store. I would also gladly fork over a few dollars to follow author Chappell’s forays into other genres of writing if she chooses to go in new directions. I am a fan of her skilled depictions of the complex as well as her grasp of humor. (It makes it hard to believe that this is her debut.)

Conclusion: Chappell's Alice Will is definitely worth the time and money if you are a true fan of Fantasy fiction. You will not be disappointed.

- Dennis Sharpe

Alice Will on

Alice Will on (paperback)

Alice Will on (kindle)

Alice Will on Center One Publishing

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Author Interview – Arielle Caldwell: She opens up and gives away!

I love getting to talk to talented literate people. It’s one of my very favorite things in life, actually. It’s even better when they happen to be gifted authors as well. Today I get the privilege of interviewing (which is a little cooler than just talking to) Arielle Caldwell, who was only recently introduced to me by Mireille Chester.

Arielle is the author of Burning in Water. If you haven’t picked it up yet (it’s new – I understand), you totally should. It’s book one of her first fantasy series, Nerita Torlan. It promises Fairies, Shifters, Elves, and some new creatures as well...  though I should warn you (not that she won’t) It is a book intended for a "mature audience only."

Mrs.Caldwell has agreed to not only answer my questions, but giveaway two signed 4x6 pictures (pictured to the left and right) of her covet art to two lucky people who have their comment at the bottom of this interview, chosen at random.

Something to frame and show off once Arielle is making regular appearances on the Today show and having her books made into big-budget summer blockbusters.

After you read this awesome interview feel free to visit her links listed below, and leave a comment or question for her (thus entering yourself in the giveaway).

Burning in Water

The “Blurb”: Ahlic has taken everything from Nerita. Now that her powers are getting stronger, she sets out to find him and take down his kingdom. Along the way, she discovers more about herself than she could ever possibly imagine; forever changing her life. Can the daughter of a goddess be strong enough? Or will she falter; costing the lives of those around her?

I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I have acquired a copy. The advantage of that, I guess, is that there is no chance I’ll give away any dreaded spoilers. I do feel that I have to ask, after reading the blurb for the book that some questions jump right out. So, I’ll start with: Nerita is the daughter of a goddess, right? (Which one? One of your making?)

Nerita means "from the sea" and yes, she's the daughter of goddess Etura. I made her up using a name creator. She doesn't play a part in the book except in the beginning so everyone knows where Nerita came from.

This seems like the beginning of a pretty epic world of storytelling. I think ambitious storytelling and world building is sadly lacking in a lot fiction today. What do you think sets your series apart in this area?

I hope to build a world no one wants to leave. This is my first series so it's trial and error in learning to do so. I introduce new creatures and concepts and hope to pull the readers in with them and keep them wanting more.

What inspired you to write this kind of fantasy?

I'm a creative person and have always loved to come up with ideas...or I'm slightly mental and this is a great release. Haha!

Okay… I have to ask… It’s a fantasy, that others have reviewed as “full of action and hot romance”. You, yourself address it as for “Mature Audience only”. Does that mean this is a bodice ripper book, in the grand tradition of many a Fabio book cover?

LOL!! No by far! There's a few scenes that are adult in nature but overall, I wouldn't bring Fabio into the picture...maybe with the next book after this series.

(Remember folks, you heard it here first - Next book in the series... Fabio!)

What, if anything, do you think you’ve learned (as a writer) from the experience of writing and publishing Burning in Water?

Writing is hard but nothing worth doing is ever easy. Since finishing it, it's only made me want to write more. Publishing...sucked. lol I self pub so it was hard especially being my first time. I've started to get the hang of it but I see why writers pay someone or a company to pub for them.

I’d like to broach the topic of Goodreads, so I guess I’ll begin that by asking: What you think of the site?

I love it! So easy to get connected with other people and books. I just don't have a lot of time to dedicate to it. If I had more time, I'd be on there constantly.

I understand that your cover was voted onto the “Best YA Cover of 2012” list. But isn’t your book “Mature”, not YA? (I do like the cover, btw)

Well when I wrote it, I only classified it as fantasy general; wasn't sure where it would fit in. Readers have classified it as Mature YA so I just stick with that now. I put the mature reader warning because of a few adult scenes. As a full is YA but I recommend 16+. Thank you! I love it! It was just redone and looks amazing! The updated cover isn't available yet but will soon be.

What was the most unexpectedly difficult part of writing and publishing this book, and how does that compare to being a Mom of two, and having been in the Navy? (I’m a Dad, and I was in the Army – So I’m curious.) 

Hmmm...well writing was mostly easy. I found out I have a very short temper when it comes to my word program crashing and forcing me to lose 20,000 words. ( The ONE time I didn't back it up at that!) I really didn't have a hard time with the whole process. I've had someone wonderful guide me on what sites to publish on and how to make a paperback. If I had no help, this book would just be sitting on my computer and not shared with anyone. Compared to being a mom?? Pffft super easy! I have 2 little boys who are keeping my hands full when I'm home with them. I had a mostly relaxing job in the Navy so this would actually be a little harder. lol

What do you find to be more personally challenging as an author… Characters and dialog or locations and detailed exposition?

Characters and dialog win this one. Locations and details are easy to me. I can set a scene and describe it pretty well. Developing characters and personalities have been challenging...the dialog was a bit rough for this book but I've improved it for my next one.

Burning in Water of the fantasy genre… Do you have any plans to publish work in any other genres, or are you a genre monogamist?

Oh I plan to write in all types of genres. I just started with fantasy to satisfy that need for me. Who knows what's next but I'm leaning towards horror or erotica (under a pen name of course lol)

I’d like, if I may, to get a bit more information about you… kinda feel you out (not feel you up… after all, we’re both happily married.)…

We'll start off with the least imaginative question I can possibly muster: Can you tell the readers at home a little bit about yourself?

Well I'm 27 years old, married for 6 years, have 2 wonderful little boys (ages 4 and 6). I love all kinds of music as long as it holds my attention, I write poetry, love photography and scrapbooking. I'm deathly afraid of heights and roaches *shudders* I can read an 800+ page book a night easily...might lose sleep but it's worth it! I'm normally a quiet person but my close friends tell me to shut it sometimes lol, I love water; to be in it, feel it, taste it...I'm weird like that. I'm a total book and technology nerd.

What books or authors do you feel have most influenced your writing, be it characters, setting, or style?

I've always looked up to Mary Higgins Clark. I have loved her books since I was little. My most recent influence would have to be Mireille Chester. Her books have just captivated me and I loved them all! My antagonist, Ahlic, was influenced by King Henry VIII on The Tudors played by Johnathan Rhys Meyers. He's demeanor, the way he dresses, his attitude. He has been my muse. The rest of my book has not had any influences just whatever came to mind.

And if you had to choose just one, which author would you consider the most influential to you?

Oh gosh...just one!? I'll have to go with Mary Higgins Clark.

Mary Higgins Clark? Really? Again?

She is the reason I decided I wanted to write when I was little.

Well, I guess it's always good to have your heroes and role models... I don't know where I'd be without Neil Gaiman, or Frank Miller.

As a 'new to publishing' author... where would you say you've found the most support for your work outside of family and friends?

Facebook fans, authors, and bloggers actually. Without the support from them and encouraging me, I'm not sure if I could continue to publish. Maybe write for myself, but not for the public.

Are there any new authors/books that have grasped your interest recently?

Felicia Tatum's The White Aura...holy wow! I couldn't put it down!

What are the last three books you read (or are you reading now)?

The White Aura by Felicia Tatum, Wolf Sirens: Forbidden by Tina Smith, and Drowning Mermaids by Nadia Scrieva

What are you currently writing, and does it involve waffles?

Currently working on Drowning in Fire, book two in the Nerita Torlan series. I'm about half way done but can't give any details. Release is in February. LOL No it doesn't involve waffles...but I might have to write one about waffles soon.

So… Twilight? Tell me about it… and why you like it… I promise I won’t judge you (in the text of this interview, anyway).

OMG....Ok here's the thing...

I Feel I should warn you... I've seen your sparkly vampire pic.

Arielle Caldwell - Sparkling like a Cullen at noon in Death Valley.

I have to say... doesn't look promising.

I (kinda) like the books but hate the movies. Vamps that sparkle...not my thing.

Not mine either. I've kinda dedicated a series of books of my own to being the grity... less-than-sparkly Vampires that I think modern fiction needs... Not the Cullens.

I like to make fun of the movies any time I get a chance.

Okay. Good. 

See, I had heard that Twilight was something you were into... and I was hoping that it was bad information. I don't like to have to try get people into treatment. I mean, I can call Dr. Drew... but it's a messy scene, and then they're on reality T.V. 

It's just no Good.

Anyway... putting aside the saga of Bella... The one standard interview question I have to ask (it is required by law, you know?): Do you have any rules, pointers, or advice for other writers just starting out?

Just write until you can't anymore. Don't force filler fluff into it or it could ruin the book. No rules, I don't believe in them. Advice?? Don't give a damn about what anyone tells you on how you should write or what you should write about. I was told by someone close that fantasy is not for me that I should write non-fiction and I ignored them. I've been getting emails and messages about how much fans have loved it so listen to your heart, not the critics.

Okay… you put up with me through all that… Now it’s your turn to say what’s on your mind without a pedantic leading question. No, wait. This is a question too. Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers and fans? Any tempting teasers or the like?

I want to thank everyone who has purchased, downloaded, encouraged, and stood by me. Without you guys, I wouldn't be doing this.

Thank you for taking the time to do research on me and doing the interview. I've enjoyed it very much!

Well, Arielle, I'm glad you enjoyed it... sincerely... and think nothing of my cyber-stal... er... research. I always like to go into an interview prepared. 'Professional' and all... you know? So? Yeah... bout that teaser... I mean... not *that* kind of tease... I... you know...

A teaser from Burning in Water:

I had a dream. It was weird and felt like it was actually happening. I was wearing a long gold dress that flowed behind me as I walked. My hair was in a side braid again and I had a black crown on top. I was alone walking through a forest at dusk. There were a few wolves following me. The sounds of waves hitting the shore caught my attention and I followed the sound until I was standing in the shallows looking out into an endless ocean. It reminded me of home. The smell of the ocean, the feel of the cool breeze as it gently blew by, all felt real.


Arielle Caldwell’s Vital Statistics and Online Details:

Arielle is a 27 year old mother of 2 little boys, wife of 6 years, proud U.S. Navy Veteran, poet, author, photographer, scrapbooker, and whatever else she feels like doing. She began writing at an early age but never pursued it until recently. Starting with poetry, she progressed to books. She lives in Pensacola, FL with her family.

She writes fantasy fiction books and loves creating her own little worlds! The first book of her series, Burning in Water, has been released. You can get your free Ebook through, Barnes and Noble, Apple I books for now. Paper copy now available on and Amazon!





Remember to comment below to be entered to win a signed 4x6 picture of her covet art!

The giveaway ends Wednesday, December 12th at midnight (US Central Time).

It only takes one comment, question or otherwise, to be entered to win!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'Tis the season... well, almost.

"Seven o'clock; psychos seize Santa's workshop,
and only Lee Major's can stop them"
This time of year it is impossible to avoid all the trappings of the holiday season. Lights and decorations are everywhere. Radio stations have begun to inundate us with the sounds of "good cheer", and many television networks are doing the same thing.

Don't misunderstand. I am not a hater of the "seasonal flavor" of entertainment...  but a lot of it is not as entertaining as those who made it would like to believe it is.

I spent hours combing over lists of movies that are "must watch staples" of Christmas entertainment...  I found that I agreed in part with a lot of them...  but not totally with any of them. I polled my friends and family on Facebook, and took what I agreed with from the other lists, and compiled my own little top 40 list for everyone's viewing pleasure.

Don't agree with me? Comment and tell me why. These are, after all, only my opinions.

Dennis' Top 40 Christmas Movies:

40) Jack Frost

39) Fred Claus

38) Jingle All The Way

37) Home Alone

36) It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

35) A Chipmunk Christmas

34) The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas

33) The Santa Clause

32) Reindeer Games

31) Casper's Haunted Christmas

30) Prancer

29) The Family Man

28) The Greatest Story Ever Told

27) The Bishop's Wife

26) The Bells of St. Mary's

25) Holiday Inn

24) Frosty the Snowman

23) Santa Claus: the Movie

22) The Holiday

21) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

20) Star Wars Christmas Special

19) A Charlie Brown Christmas

18) How The Grinch Stole Christmas (animated)

17) The Night They Saved Christmas

16) Polar Express

15) Babes in Toyland

14) Elf

13) Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

12) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

11) Scrooged

The Top Ten: 

10) Gremlins

9)  The Nightmare before Christmas

8)  White Christmas

7)  Miracle on 34th Street

6)  Christmas Vacation

5)  The Ref

4)  Love Actually

3)  The Muppet Family Christmas

2)  A Christmas Story

1)  It's a Wonderful Life

Honorable Mentions:

Edward Scissorhands, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Brazil, & Bad Santa