Sunday, October 31, 2010

Guest Blogger: Chris Wardle and The Tinfish Series


Chris Wardle is on tour with his five-book Tinfish series. I've already read the first three books in this series and enjoyed these quirky characters who are drawn together as a result of climate changes to their world. I'll be reading the last two books and reviewing them at the end of the month on my kid's book blog, TC&TBC.

Here are the books in the series:

Book One: The lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish
 

Book Two: Mr. Choli’s River Trip

Book Three: Mr. Vinegar and the Frozen Sea (my personal favorite so far)

Book Four: Mrs. Cat-biscuit’s search for the downward land

Book Five: Mr. Ginger and the disappearing fish

Chris is our special guest bloger today. I hope you enjoy his post.

Apple Crumble by Chris Wardle

In Mr. Vinegar and the Frozen Sea, the third book from the Tinfish series, Mr. Ginger graduates from being a mere recipient of Mrs. Tinfish’s mackerel sandwiches to becoming the team’s head chef. This transformation is accompanied by his discovery of a cookery book containing elaborate recipes, for which he has limited understanding and none of the right ingredients. Needless to say, the results of his culinary endeavours have remained somewhat questionable.

In many ways, Mr. Ginger’s voyage of discovery into the world of cookery is similar to my own (apart from the mackerel sandwich bit, although I can be partial to one…). My cooking experience, up to the point that I left home for university, came from two directions. Firstly, from my pub-kitchen job on a Saturday night where, after considerable dedication to the washing-up, my responsibilities were elevated to doing the toast for the chicken-liver pate and rinsing the slugs out of the lettuce.

Meanwhile, at school I had been prepared for survival in the outside world with a curriculum based almost entirely on jars of stewed apple. At around the age of ten, the state education system deemed it appropriate for me to get about four one-hour lessons of home economics, after which we were moved on to the craft department to make strange-looking clay animals for the rest of the term. I was packed off to school with a plastic bag containing an oven dish and the ingredients for an apple crumble. The following week we attempted a stewed apple pastry thing, and I believe we also took on the ambitions of a stewed-apple pie before my education was declared complete. So, nothing in the skills department that actually enabled me to feed myself on a daily basis. Also, unless I was away sick on that day, I don’t recall any mention of economics within the home either.

Since leaving home on this thin grounding of apple crumble and de-slugged lettuce, it is perhaps no surprise that my current signature dish has not been plucked straight from the a’la carte menu. My most accomplished meal is in fact the humble spaghetti-omelette, a recipe which I picked up whilst I was working in West Cameroon. It’s one I think that Mr. Ginger would approve of, so long as a large helping of mackerel was thrown in there as well for good measure.

Chris Wardle holds a bachelor’s degree in physical geography as well as a Master’s degree for water supply in developing countries.


Over the last ten years Chris has travelled extensively in developing countries working on charity projects in poor communities. He has been able to draw on his numerous experiences to inspire his creative works, particularly living for long periods in communities with different cultures in Africa and Asia.


An orphaned kitten in Northern Uganda was the inspiration for Mr. Choli’s character in the Tinfish series. He now lives in the UK with Chris’s family (via a few months with a foster family in France to organise his European passport).


Website: http://www.mrtinfish.moonfruit.com/
Store: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=28817892
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-lighthouse-of-Mr-Tinfish/253883077406
Contact: mrtinfish@gmail.com

Pump Up Your Book Announces Novermber '10 Authors on Tour


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Join a talented and diverse group of 41 authors who are touring with Pump Up Your Book during November 2010. This is the largest group of authors Pump Up Your Book has ever put on tour in a given month!

Follow these authors as they travel the blogosphere from November 1st through November 26th to discuss their books. You’ll find everything from horror to mystery novels, from children’s books to culinary books, from romance to self-help, and more!

Vincent Zandri returns to Pump Up Your Book in November to begin his two-month tour to promote the paperback version of his bestselling horror novel, The Remains. Pamela Samuels Young is also back with her legal thriller, Buying Time, and Marilyn Meredith returns to discuss the latest book in her Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Invisible Path.

Maybe you’re starting to think about the holidays and winter. NY Times bestselling author Jon Katz is on tour with, Rose in a Storm, his first novel in a decade. Also on tour with books set around this time of year are Kristy Haile, Sheila Roberts, and Tim Slover.
Thrillers come to you from John L. Betcher and Mary Maddox, while Kathy Bell, Valmore Daniels, DCS, Rolf Hitzer, and Mark Oetjens talk about their science-fiction books. Historical novels are being promoted by M.M. Bennetts, Kieran Kramer, and Hana Samek Norton. Children’s books come to you from Cheryl Malandrinos, K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman, and W.S. Martin.

Two series of books will be on tour in November: The Truth series for girls by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein and the Tinfish series by Chris Wardle.

For non-fiction lovers we have memoirs from Shari Bookstaff and Dina Kucera, a true crime book from James D. Livingston, a culinary book from Denise Burroughs, a self-help anthology on tour with Judi Moreo, a book on spirituality by Nick Oliva, and a women’s issues book from Kandy Siahaya.

Also on tour with Pump Up Your Book in November are Joel M. Andre, Monica Brinkman, Lian Dolan, Shelly Frome, Mike Manos, Sam Moffie, LeAnn Neil Reilly, Robert Seymour, Vila Spiderhawk, Hazel Statham, Bronwyn Storm, and Amanda Wolfe.

Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wuu3mdIbEg to view a video trailer introducing our authors on tour in November.

Pump Up Your Book is a virtual book tour agency for authors who want quality service at an affordable price. More information can be found on their website at http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/.

Contact Information:

Dorothy Thompson
Founder of Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tours
P.O. Box 643
Chincoteague, Virginia 23336
Email: thewriterslife@yahoo.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Author Spotlight: Jon Katz and Rose in a Storm

From New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz comes a moving and powerful novel, the first one inspired by life on his celebrated Bedlam Farm—and perceptively told from the point of view of Rose, a dedicated working dog.


Rose is determined and focused, keeping the sheep out of danger and protecting the other creatures on the farm she calls home. But of all those she’s looked after since coming to the farm as a puppy, it is Sam, the farmer, whom she watches most carefully.

Awoken one cold midwinter night during lambing season, Rose and Sam struggle into the snowy dark to do their work. The ever observant Rose has seen a change in her master of late, ever since Sam’s wife disappeared one day. She senses something else in the air as well: A storm is coming, but not like any of the ones she’s seen over the years. This storm feels different, bigger, more foreboding.

When an epic blizzard hits the region, it will take all of Rose’s resolve, resourcefulness, and courage to help Sam save the farm and the creatures who live there.

Jon Katz consulted with animal behavior scientists to create his unique and convincing vision of the world as seen through the eyes of a dog. Poignant, thrilling, and beautifully wrought, Rose in a Storm is a wonderfully original and powerful tale from a gifted storyteller.

Read an Excerpt!


Chapter One


Inside the farmhouse Rose lifted her head and pricked up her ears. She heard the troubled wheezing of a ewe. From the window, through the dark, she could see mist, mud, and the reddish shadows of the barns. She pictured the herd of sheep lying still, spread out behind the feeder.

Raising her nose toward the pasture, she smelled the rich, sticky scent of birth, of lamb. She smelled manure and fear.

She heard a gasp, the sound of death or desperation, and then one ewe calling to the others in alarm. She stood and padded quickly from the window to the side of the farmer’s bed, then looked up at his sleeping face. She barked once, insistently and loudly.

Sam, the farmer, startled awake from a dream of Katie in the dark January night. He muttered, “Are you sure?” and mumbled something about a night’s sleep, but got out of bed, pulling on pants and a shirt.

He knew better than to ignore Rose, especially at lambing time. She seemed to have a sort of map of the farm inside her head, a picture of how things ought to be. Whenever something was wrong or out of place—an animal sick, a fence down, an unwelcome intruder—she knew it instantly, and called attention to it, sniffing, barking, circling. She constantly updated the map, it seemed to Sam.

Occasionally her map failed or confused her—but that was rare. Sam saw to it that Rose was always with him, that she was apprised of everything that came and went—every animal, every machine—so she could keep her mental inventory.

Among his friends, Sam called Rose his farm manager. They had been together for six years, ever since he had driven over to the Clark farm in Easton and seen a litter of border collie/shepherd mix pups. He had still been debating with himself about whether to get a herding dog—he had no idea how to train one, and no time to do it, anyway.

But, perhaps picking up the scent of sheep, Rose ran right over to him, looking so eager to get to work, even at eight weeks old, that he brought her home. A few weeks after she arrived, some sheep had wandered through an unlatched gate and across the road, and Rose shot out of the house through the newly installed dog door, corralled them, and marched them back, working on instinct alone. She certainly had no help from Sam, who wasn’t even aware that the sheep were at liberty. The two had been working side by side ever since.

From then on, Sam would shake his head whenever he saw the elaborate, highly choreographed herding trials on television. Rose grew into the role on her own; she simply seemed to know what to do. The farm, he told his friends, was the world’s greatest trainer. And the sheep did what she told them to, which was all Sam really cared about. Get them from one place to another. Didn’t have to be pretty, though sometimes it was beautiful.

The relationship had grown way beyond anything Sam understood at first, or even imagined. It was more like a partnership, he had told Katie, an understanding subtler than words. It was something he lived, not something he thought much about.

I think you love that dog more than me, Katie would sometimes joke. Sam would blush and stammer. She’s just a dog, he would say, because he could not say what Rose truly meant to him.

Now he could tell from the urgency of Rose’s bark that something was wrong. She kept tilting her ears to the pasture, agitated, eager to get outside.

So on this cold and windswept night, Sam, a tall, thin man with what had once been a ready smile and a full head of reddish-brown hair, went downstairs and got a flashlight, pulled on a jacket and boots, and he and Rose walked out the back door and into the night. Even in the dark, in the reflected light of the moon, he could see the glow of her fiercely bright-blue eyes.

The farmhouse sat at the bottom of a gentle, rolling pasture. By the back door, there were two paths. The one to the left led out into the woods, and the one to the right ran toward the two barns and the pasture gates.

The first barn was big, filled with hay up in the loft and tractors, and sometimes cows, down below. A shed was attached to the big barn, which housed equipment and supplies, as well as some feed. Farther up the hill was a large pole barn. A three-sided structure with the fourth side open to the air, it allowed the sheep to be outside, which they preferred, while still offering some shelter from the elements. When they were kept inside a closed barn, they got fearful, claustrophobic, bleated day and night. Anyway, it was the way Sam’s father had done it. The three buildings formed a triangle: the farmhouse at the bottom, the big barn off to one side nearby, the pole barn a hundred yards up the hill. The cows were in the other pasture on the far side of the barn.

A few hundred feet from the farmhouse, the path led to a gate that connected to a fence encircling all of the pastures and barns. Sam was proud of that fence. He’d spent years shoring and patching it, and in the past year or so, no animal had slipped out, or in.

As they neared the barn, Sam finally saw in the beam of light from his flashlight what Rose had heard and sensed, up behind the building. He moved faster, opening the pasture gate. Rose raced through and ran to the struggling ewe. Sam retrieved his sack of medical equipment from the barn and hurried behind the dog up a path well worn by the animals, marked by manure and ice-encrusted mud, pungent even in winter. The big barn was on the right, looming like a great battleship, its lights sending small beams out into the dark, foggy pasture. That old barn had a lot of stories to tell.

The lambing shed where Sam had put this pregnant ewe a few days earlier was also open on one side, though protected from the snow and wind. An open hatchway led from the lambing shed inside the barn to an area warmed by heat lamps and lined with hay and straw, where the ewes could take their newborn lambs. With this arrangement, they were outside when they went into labor, so they could be near the other sheep, and Sam could still see and hear them from the house. Or at least Rose could.

He trained his light on the sick ewe, number 89. Her wheezing had calmed, which was an ominous sign, and she lay still, on her side, in the corner of the pen in a bed of hay.

Rose waited for Sam to open the birthing pen gate, then rushed in to the mother and attempted to rouse her, nipping at her nose and chest.

Sam opened his bag and pulled out scissors, forceps, bandages, syringes, a jar of iodine, antibiotics, and some rope and salve. He was serious and calm as he followed Rose’s lead, this small black and white dog, with those piercing eyes, moving with speed and confidence.

The other sheep gathered in the pole barn up the hill, watching, intent and anxious. Rose glanced up at the crowd of ewes, and at the Blackface, their leader, who had appeared at the front of the flock. Rose’s eyes and posture gave clear instructions—stay back, stay away from Sam—and they obeyed.

If necessary, she would use her teeth, pulling some wool to get things moving, or to stop things from moving. She rarely needed to do that. But tonight, particularly since there was no food around the lambing area, Rose knew they would keep their distance. The sheep wanted no part of a human or a dog in the middle of the night.

It was black and cold, and the ground was icy. Rose saw and smelled the amniotic fluid puddling under the ewe. Rose could see the almost imperceptible movement of the ewe’s stomach, hear the faint breath, see the moisture in her eyes, the stream from her nostrils. She could hear the faintest of heartbeats.

She could smell the ewe’s struggle.

Rose and Sam had done this before, many times.

Having failed to get the ewe to her feet, Rose backed up while Sam set up his light, kneeled down, rolled up his sleeves. She watched him rub salve on his hands before turning the ewe and plunging his arm into the dying mother, finding the lamb stuck in the uterine canal.

The smell was intense, and troubling. This was a bad sign. Lambs didn’t last very long after the water had broken.

Sam muttered and cursed. He turned the lamb’s feet until they were pointed in the right direction, then he grunted, pulled, and pulled again. Finally, Rose saw him draw out his hand, and with it, the lamb. The small, matted creature was not moving.

Sam dipped his pocketknife in a bottle and then used it to cut the umbilical cord. Then he stood, lifted the lamb by its feet, and swung it, left and right, in the cold air, to get its heart beating. The lamb was slick with fluids, and the air was frigid. Lambs can die quickly in these conditions. If they’re healthy, their mothers will usually guide them through the hatchway to the warmth of the heat lamps.

Rose barked, excited. The lamb suddenly coughed and wheezed. It was alive. Rose ran around to the ewe’s face and began nipping at her nose, urging her to her feet.

The dog and the farmer worked with urgency. The cold was biting and Rose felt the sting of it in her paws. Her whiskers were covered in ice. She needed to get the ewe up quickly, had to get her to clean her lamb. And the lamb needed nourishment.

Sam pulled out a plastic bottle with sheep’s milk that he had stored in the freezer and thawed, putting it gently in the lamb’s mouth. He pulled a syringe from his other pocket—a vitamin booster, for strength and energy—and gave the lamb a shot. Rose kept working to get the mother up, so she and her lamb could bond by smell and know each other.

The ewe began to stir, looking at Rose. The dog did not waver or back off, but barked and lunged, nipped and kept her eyes locked on the ewe’s.

The ewe closed her eyes, reopened them. She was suddenly alarmed, breathing more heavily now, as she struggled to get to her feet. Afterbirth trailed from under her tail.

Sam carefully put the lamb down and came over to help, pulling the ewe up gently. She was disoriented, panicky, and as soon as she was upright she tried to bolt. Rose headed her off. She and Sam knew all too well that when ewes ran, they could forget the smell of their lambs and abandon them entirely. That was not going to happen, had never happened when Rose was there.

Rose held the ewe to the spot while Sam positioned the lamb beside her. Then he ran into the barn and came back with some water laced with molasses syrup for the ewe. She lapped it up greedily while the lamb searched for its mother’s nipple. The ewe seemed to gain strength, returning to the world, becoming aware of her baby.

The ewe began to call out to her lamb. Now protective, she turned, lowered her head at Rose, and charged, butting her, and catching her off guard.

“Head’s up, Rose!” said Sam.

Rose was sometimes unprepared for how powerful the mothering instinct was in ewes once it kicked in and they bonded with their babies. It was a testing time for her, as the formerly compliant ewes changed, and she was suddenly, sometimes violently, challenged. She always regained control, with her body, her eyes, her teeth, and her ferocious determination, which eventually wore down even the most maternal ewe, even though it sometimes left Rose bruised or limping. After a time, they became sheep again, doing what they were supposed to do.

The vet once told Sam that Rose weighed thirty-seven pounds, and that any one of those two- and three-hundred-pound ewes or rams could have stomped or butted her senseless, but they didn’t know they could. Rose had to make sure they never knew.

Sam looked up and saw that it had begun snowing lightly, and the wind was picking up. He was huffing hard on his hands, looking up at the sky. Rose looked up, too, and felt a stirring in all of her senses.

Sam appeared different to Rose than he used to, quieter, not as strong, not as clear-headed. A lot of things were different since the night Katie had been taken from the house.

The very map of the farm had changed.

She watched Sam as he worked silently, purposefully, toweling off the lamb. Once he was sure the mother had the smell of the lamb, he picked it up in a cloth sling. It was time to get it under the heat lamps and onto a pile of straw. There the mother would finish cleaning her baby, and the baby would find her teats and drink some more, getting warm and dry, and the ewe could bond with him—it was a ram—and know his cry. The two would nestle up together and talk to each other in a language all their own.

Sam was now backing up to the hatchway, and the ewe looked around frantically. Rose kept her distance, a bit away and behind her, so that she wouldn’t panic and head for the other sheep, who were still watching from the pole barn.

The ewe darted a few feet up the hill. Rose dashed ahead of her and brought her back. They repeated this two or three times, Rose and the ewe, in a kind of a dance, Rose anticipating where the ewe would go and blocking that route. Even though her lamb was being carried in that direction, it was unnatu- ral for the ewe to move away from her flock, and toward the barn, especially with a human and a dog. Only the ewe’s intensifying mothering instincts kept her from running off. That and Rose in her face, whenever she looked or turned to go up the hill.

Finally at the hatchway entrance to the barn, the ewe froze. Rose watched her look up the hill, then toward her lamb. Rose saw that she was still thinking of bolting up to the pole barn, to the Blackface, to the safety and comfort of the other sheep.

Sam backed into the barn, making sure the ewe could see him and the lamb in his arms. He opened the lambing pen gate, then turned on the heat lamps and put the baby down in the warming glow. The lamb bleated, and the ewe bleated in response, rushing through the hatchway and into the pen.

Rose kept the mother in until she settled down there. The ewe eventually forgot Rose, and nosed the lamb under the lamp and onto the hay. She began licking him. Sam closed and tied the plastic fencing of the makeshift pen. The ewe, exhausted, would let her baby feed, and then the two of them would sleep.

Sam turned away to check the wiring of the heat lamp and bring some fresh hay. Rose sat down, calming also. Her job was done. But in less than a minute she stood again and turned away, limping slightly from the butting of her shoulder.

“Okay, girl,” Sam said to Rose as he shone the flashlight around to see if the other pregnant ewes were up to anything. Rose did not understand his words but understood the tone of voice, his approval. And she also understood it as the end of this work.

Rose smelled the warm, rich mother’s milk, heard the sound of suckling. The timeless map, a compilation of countless memories and experiences and images, was as it should be, and now updated to include one new creature.

Sam slid the door shut.

Rose followed him to the gate and then trotted toward the house. Sam walked on ahead of her, but on the stoop, she paused for a moment. Something made her look up again at the predawn slate sky.

Rose felt the storm coming, smelled snow and heavy air. She remembered other storms, the snow and wind and killing cold. She felt a flash of deep alarm run through her like a bolt of lightning. The hair on her back and neck came up. Sam called for her, but she waited a moment longer before following him inside.



Read the Reviews!

“I felt as if in writing a novel Katz told me more clearly and more fully what the world looks like to a dog than all the animal behavior books I’ve ever read.”

 –Janet Perry, author of Needlepoint Trade Secrets and Bargello Revisited

 
“…I highly recommend this to anyone who loves dogs or life on the farm.”
 –Philip R. Heath, Gadgets, Music, & Books

"This book will appeal to all animal lovers as well as readers' searching for a really inspiring read. It has it all, from joy to sadness to inspiration, in a manner that will touch the heart and, if you're not careful, perhaps leave you a bit misty eyed."

--Charles M. Nobles, Tulsa, OK



Jon Katz has written nineteen books—seven novels and twelve works of nonfiction—including Soul of a Dog, Izzy &; Lenore, Dog Days, A Good Dog, and The Dogs of Bedlam Farm. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Rolling Stone, Wired, and the AKC Gazette. He has worked for CBS News, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Katz is also a photographer and the author of a children’s book, Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm. He lives on Bedlam Farm in upstate New York with the artist Maria Heinrich; his dogs, Rose, Izzy, Lenore, and Frieda; and his barn cats, Mother and Minnie. Rose in a Storm is his first book in a decade. You can visit Jon Katz’s site at www.bedlamfarm.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guest Blogger: Robert Seymour, Author of Wig Begone

Today's special guest is Robert Seymour, who wrote the humorous novel, Wig Begone, under the pen name of Charles Courtley.

Charles, a newly qualified lawyer without a penny to his name, plunges into the archaic world of the Bar as it was thirty-five years ago. After a stroke of beginners’ luck – and a taste of good living – he soon becomes established in practice battling away in the criminal courts, conducting court-martials in Germany and on one horrifying occasion actually appearing in a commercial court, “winding up ” companies of which he knows nothing! He encounters a wide range of clients including an Italian motorist charged with assault, who claims to have been savagely attacked by an elderly lollipop man wielding his road sign. On top of that, there are instructing solicitors who never pay him and even one who has departed this world altogether yet still manages to operate on a shadowy basis from the vicinity of Bow Road in East London. Court-martials take Charles abroad where he encounters a German policeman’s dog whose canine expertise is deemed to be perfectly sound evidence and samples a night out on the other side of the infamous Berlin wall just making it back to the safety of the West. Wig Begone is an exhilarating tale of Charles’ early career with disaster often lurking round the corner and culminating in his own appearance in front of England’s most notorious judge!

Rich Ticks by Robert Seymour

“What is the difference between a tick and a lawyer?”

“A tick falls off when you die.”

Not very flattering, but probably an accurate assessment of most people’s attitude to lawyers. For they are popularly perceived to be rich and parasitical - never associated, like writers and artists, with living from hand to mouth or on the verge of poverty.

But that was exactly what life was like when I first began to practise as a barrister in the 1970s. My wife, Jane and I, lived in a damp-ridden basement flat so ill-equipped that we needed a hammer to turn up the gas taps on the cooker, used a one-bar electric fire which might burn your toes but warmed little else, and gazed at an ancient TV set which only worked if you encouraged it with a hefty swipe.

Not only were my earnings minimal in those early days, but , as a matter of course, solicitors delayed payment for months if not years - choosing to believe that we barristers all subsisted on private incomes.

Of course, as part of the ethos of being a barrister, I had to give the impression that I was successful, so outwardly at least, I dressed well. However, my one tailor-made pin-striped suit (bought second-hand from a clothes-hire shop) soon developed a large hole in the crutch of the trousers and fraying cuffs on the jacket. This latter item did survive in a patched-up state for some years, but the trousers soon became a source of embarrassment, requiring me to purchase another reasonably similar pair of trousers without delay. My shoes too, might be highly polished but the soles were riddled with holes which I blocked, as best I could, with plastic padding on the inside.

All this was very different from the dreams I’d enjoyed on passing the exams.

The barristers I met then, during a period of training, drove swanky cars to their chambers in the Inns of Court, lunched in venerable dining halls rich in splendour and after a modest day’s work drafting pleadings, enjoyed a quiet drink in one of the area’s many wine bars. The courts, frequented by these legal luminaries, were generally civilised ones like the Supreme Court of Judicature and House of Lords nearby. If they were ever forced to undertake criminal work, it would be at the Central Criminal Court situated in the Old Bailey only a short distance away.

Instead, after tedious Underground journeys, I trudged wearily to a variety of run-down police courts, built in Victorian times, which stank of sweat or worse, to find myself representing the very dregs of criminal low-life. My best advocacy was really reserved for the bank manager in persuading him to increase my overdraft limit time and time again.

I suppose, I was still a tick, but hardly one over-bloated by pecuniary gain or marked by any sort of glamour!

Robert Seymour, (under the pseudonym of Charles Courtley) is a retired judge who lives on the English coast with his wife, Jane, of 38 years, and a small dog called Phoebe.


He is the author of Wig Begone, a tale of a young barrister’s triumphs and tragedies. As well as adapting his novel into a screenplay and writing a sequel, he contributes to legal newsletters and blogs.


Find him online at http://courtleyprocedures.wordpress.com/


Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Giveaway at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

To celebrate Halloween, author Linda Weaver Clarke is giving away a copy of her book, Edith and the Mysterious Stranger this week.

With mysterious letters, cattle rustlers, a spunky woman, the liar's fire, Halloween, and young love, there is always something happening. It is 1904 and Melinda is "with child" and threatening to miscarry. Her cousin Edith, a nurse, moves to Paris to care for her. Edith has wonderful qualities but never gives a man a second chance because her expectations are so high.

However, all that changes when a mysterious stranger begins to write to her. For the first time, she gets to know a man's soul before making any harsh judgments. Whoever he is, this man is a mystery and the best thing that has ever happened to her. The question that puzzles her is whether or not he's as wonderful in person as he is in his letters. In the meantime, Melinda and Gilbert's sixteen-year-old daughter, Jenny, falls for a young man of questionable character. David has sort of a wild side to him, but Jenny only notices the goodness about him.

I read Melinda and the Wild West, the first book in A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho series. I'm eager to own more of them, but my TBR pile is so large, I hate to scoop up anything else until I whittle it down.

If Edith and the Mysterious Stranger is as well done as the first book, you'll be in for a treat and won't want to miss this giveaway.

Visit Linda Weaver Clarke's blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/ for additional details. This giveaway ends on November 1, 2010.

Linda Weaver Clarke was raised on a farm surrounded by the rolling hills of southern Idaho and made her home in southern Utah among the beautiful red mountains and desert heat. She is happily married and the mother of six daughters and has five grandchildren. Linda travels the United States encouraging people to write their family history and autobiography. She is the author of A Family in Beak Lake, Idaho series, and The Adventures of John and Julia Evans mystery series. Her latest release is Mayan Intrigue.

Visit Linda online at www.lindaweaverclarke.com or her blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Mystery of the Disappearing Blogger


Having coordinated virtual book tours for three years now, I've been able to pick up on some trends:

  • The majority of authors are serious about online book promotion and have some level of involvement in their virtual book tours.
  • Most bloggers want to do their best to create appealing blogs and posts for their readers.
  • Most bloggers use some form of social networking to promote the content on their sites.
  • Few virtual book tours will go off without a hitch, but the majority of issues are minor and easily addressed.
But the one growing trend that is alarming to a virtual book tour coordinator like me is the Disappearing Blogger. He/She can be a blogger you've been doing business with for a long time or one that you've just started nurturing a relationship with. He/She could have been blogging for months or years. He/She could be blogging every day. He/She could have a huge following of dedicated readers. He/She could have a blog with a unique and eye-catching appearance that makes readers want to stop by.

The one thing these bloggers have in common is that they request books from authors, publishers, publicists, or virtual book tour coordinators and then stop blogging without explanation. Repeated attempts to contact these bloggers are ignored for one reason or another--perhaps a family emergency--and you never uncover the clues behind their disappearance. You want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but you can't help but feel duped.

The Disappearing Blogger tarnishes the reputation of every blogger out there. He/She can cause authors, publishers, publicists, and virtual book tour coordinators to set more stringent guidelines for who will be allowed to review their books; so that even if a blogger has always met deadlines, he/she might not be eligible to review books of interest. The Disappearing Blogger calls into question whether online reviewers can be taken as seriously as reviewers for publications.

As a blogger and virtual book tour coordinator, I have seen the good that comes out of bloggers talking about and promoting books. I hope the trend of the Disappearing Blogger is one that fades fast.

Author Spotlight: Donna McDine and The Golden Pathway


High-pitched screams echo each night. David’s cruel Pa always chooses the same victim. Despite the circumstances during slavery, David uncovers courage to defy his Pa.

Raised in a hostile environment where abuse occurs daily, David attempts to break the mold and befriends the slave, Jenkins, owned by his Pa. Fighting against extraordinary times and beliefs, David leads Jenkins to freedom with no regard for his own safety and possible consequences dealt out by his Pa.

Read the Excerpt!

He clamped his hands over his ears, but it didn’t block the high-pitched screams from the barn. He knew they would stop. They always did. Yet, the silence scared David even more, knowing Pa would seek a new victim.

Thud. Thud. Pa’s heavy footsteps echoed on the porch.

Clank. The buckle from Pa’s belt hit the floor.

Buzz saw. Pa’s loud snores shook the windowpane.

David grabbed his boots and with shaky hands slid them on. His small size made it easy to hoist himself out the bedroom window and shimmy down the trellis. David did his best not to leave any footprints in Ma’s tomato garden. He made sure each night to leave the straw broom on the front porch leaning against the railing by the garden. David reached over the railing for the broom. He carefully brushed the dirt to hide his footprints, all the while backing out of the garden. Satisfied that he’d covered his tracks, David shook the dirt off the broom and placed it back on the porch.

If Pa found out what he was doing, he’d skin his hide for sure. David loved Pa, but he had to make this stop.

Read what they are saying about The Golden Pathway!

“The best thing about this book is that it raised other questions… Any book that can cause a child to crave more knowledge on a subject is a good one.”
–Lynn’s Reading Corner

“I thought this was a very well written story for children to understand.”
–Chrissy’s World of Books

“Once children have read about David and the part he played in the Underground Railroad, they’ll be eager to find other stories to enhance what they’ve learned in The Golden Pathway.”
–Beverly Stowe McClure, author of Rebel in Blue Jeans, Just Breeze, and Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines

“A tale sure to inspire anyone who doubts their own courage”.
–Lori Calabrese, author of The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade

“The Golden Pathway is a story about courage and friendship.”
–Renee Hand, author of The Crypto-Capers series and the award-winning, The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill: Case #1: The Great Pie Catastrophe

"I highly recommend the Golden Pathway to teachers, parents, and children. The story will be a valuable part of any classroom studying slavery in the US. In addition to being a good introduction to the history and life of the time, it will generate good discussion about the era, making it a valuable addition for libraries."
--A. R. Silverberry, award-winning author of Wyndano's Cloak

"This is definitely a book I would share with my children to help teach them what it means to care about other people."
--Debbie's Book Bag

"A great book that shows friendship and compassion even in children. I'm happy to add it to my children's reading shelves."
--A Moment with Mystee

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Donna’s stories and features have been published in many print and online publications, and her first book, The Golden Pathway, will be published through Guardian Angel Publishing. Ms. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Musing Our Children, and The National Writing for Children Center. Learn more about Donna at http://www.donnamcdine.com/ if you sign the guestbook, you’ll receive a FREE e-Book Write What Inspires You: Author Interviews, and http://www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com/  and http://www.thegoldenpathway.blogspot.com/.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guest Blogger: Dean DeLuke, Author of Shedrow

Today's special guest is Dean DeLuke, author of Shedrow.

From rolling pastures in Lexington, KY to darkened alleyways in Newark, NJ, from Manhattan’s posh ‘21’ Club to a peculiar and mysterious landfill in Eastern Kentucky, and from Saratoga Springs, NY to the tiny island of St. Lucia, Shedrow portrays a collision of characters from many divergent worlds. High society and the racing elite, medical and veterinary specialists, mob figures, and Kentucky hill folk become entangled in this unique twist on the medical thriller.

Dr. Anthony Gianni, a prominent Manhattan surgeon, becomes involved in a racing partnership as a diversion from a thriving surgical practice and an ailing marriage. The excitement builds when the partnership acquires Chiefly Endeavor, a two-year-old colt with the breeding, the spirit, and enough early racing success to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

When a new partner with an unsavory background appears and a breeder’s nightmare becomes real, Dr. Gianni and a dedicated veterinarian must confront organized crime and solve a complex mystery that threatens to destroy both of their careers, and possibly a great deal more.

Believability in Fiction Writing: Write What You Know and Research the Rest! by Dean DeLuke

It is an old adage, perhaps even a cliché in fiction writing: write what you know. And while it certainly provides an author with a good starting point, there will always be a need for additional research, and that research will be a key factor in making the story believable, the characters real, and the plot an engaging one.

In the novel Shedrow, the principal character is a surgeon who becomes involved in a thoroughbred racing partnership as a diversion from a thriving practice and an ailing marriage. It was not a stretch for me to create true-to-life drama from the operating room and the racetrack. I have, after all, been a surgeon for nearly thirty years, and my experience with thoroughbred horses dates back to my high school and college years when I was a farm hand on a thoroughbred farm in upstate New York. More recently, I have been a partner with Dogwood Stable. So I had a long history of hands-on involvement at all levels.

That combined experience in the medical and racing arenas did not mean that I had no research to do—only that there would be less of it. For the research that I did perform, I used a variety of the standard techniques: site or field research, internet-based research, and one-on one interviews.

Most of my field research related to visiting sites I was already somewhat familiar with, in order to give my setting descriptions absolute authenticity. I wanted readers to be able to see, hear, feel, even smell the surroundings—whether on the backstretch at Saratoga or in the paddock at Gulfstream. So I would sit quietly and record what I experienced, from the smell of manure alongside the barn to the feel of a cooling mist carried by the wind from the fountains near the paddock at Gulfstream. The visual description is only one component; good writers always advise us to use as many of our five senses as possible throughout our story.

Of course, the internet has made the life of the writer infinitely easier. There are innumerable things that can be researched without ever leaving our computer screens: a myriad of facts and figures, even photographs or satellite views of settings, etc. The internet can augment but should never totally replace the other methods of research.

For some things, nothing can take the place of a face-to-face interview with a real expert or an insider. So for certain details about how a particular disease might present in horses, I asked a vet. And even though I had spent plenty of time around horses, I asked a real racing insider—one who had spent her entire lifetime with thoroughbreds—to read my story. She let me know where the potential shortcomings were.

A key point in writing believable fiction is to know where you don’t require any help, and where the story might be made better with some additional research. So in the case of my novel Shedrow, I knew I didn’t need anyone to tell me what it was like in an Operating Room. But I didn’t hesitate to ask a veterinarian or a horse trainer for assistance if I had an equine medicine question.

Despite our best efforts, there will undoubtedly be some instances where an author gets a particular detail or fact wrong. It happens even to the best authors, and when it does, one thing is certain: it may get by our editors, but our readers will surely let us know.


Dean M. DeLuke is the author of Shedrow, a new thriller dubbed a cross between Dick Francis and Robin Cook. He is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a graduate of St. Michael’s College, Columbia University (DMD) and Union Graduate College (MBA). Currently, he divides his time between the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery and a variety of business consulting activities. You can read excerpts and reviews, view a book trailer and photo gallery, and see details of upcoming contest offerings at http://www.shedrow1.com/.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guest Blogger: Dean DeLuke, Author of Shedrow

Today's special guest is Dean DeLuke, author of Shedrow.

From rolling pastures in Lexington, KY to darkened alleyways in Newark, NJ, from Manhattan’s posh ‘21’ Club to a peculiar and mysterious landfill in Eastern Kentucky, and from Saratoga Springs, NY to the tiny island of St. Lucia, Shedrow portrays a collision of characters from many divergent worlds. High society and the racing elite, medical and veterinary specialists, mob figures, and Kentucky hill folk become entangled in this unique twist on the medical thriller.

Dr. Anthony Gianni, a prominent Manhattan surgeon, becomes involved in a racing partnership as a diversion from a thriving surgical practice and an ailing marriage. The excitement builds when the partnership acquires Chiefly Endeavor, a two-year-old colt with the breeding, the spirit, and enough early racing success to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

When a new partner with an unsavory background appears and a breeder’s nightmare becomes real, Dr. Gianni and a dedicated veterinarian must confront organized crime and solve a complex mystery that threatens to destroy both of their careers, and possibly a great deal more.

Believability in Fiction Writing: Write What You Know and Research the Rest! by Dean DeLuke

It is an old adage, perhaps even a cliché in fiction writing: write what you know. And while it certainly provides an author with a good starting point, there will always be a need for additional research, and that research will be a key factor in making the story believable, the characters real, and the plot an engaging one.

In the novel Shedrow, the principal character is a surgeon who becomes involved in a thoroughbred racing partnership as a diversion from a thriving practice and an ailing marriage. It was not a stretch for me to create true-to-life drama from the operating room and the racetrack. I have, after all, been a surgeon for nearly thirty years, and my experience with thoroughbred horses dates back to my high school and college years when I was a farm hand on a thoroughbred farm in upstate New York. More recently, I have been a partner with Dogwood Stable. So I had a long history of hands-on involvement at all levels.

That combined experience in the medical and racing arenas did not mean that I had no research to do—only that there would be less of it. For the research that I did perform, I used a variety of the standard techniques: site or field research, internet-based research, and one-on one interviews.

Most of my field research related to visiting sites I was already somewhat familiar with, in order to give my setting descriptions absolute authenticity. I wanted readers to be able to see, hear, feel, even smell the surroundings—whether on the backstretch at Saratoga or in the paddock at Gulfstream. So I would sit quietly and record what I experienced, from the smell of manure alongside the barn to the feel of a cooling mist carried by the wind from the fountains near the paddock at Gulfstream. The visual description is only one component; good writers always advise us to use as many of our five senses as possible throughout our story.

Of course, the internet has made the life of the writer infinitely easier. There are innumerable things that can be researched without ever leaving our computer screens: a myriad of facts and figures, even photographs or satellite views of settings, etc. The internet can augment but should never totally replace the other methods of research.

For some things, nothing can take the place of a face-to-face interview with a real expert or an insider. So for certain details about how a particular disease might present in horses, I asked a vet. And even though I had spent plenty of time around horses, I asked a real racing insider—one who had spent her entire lifetime with thoroughbreds—to read my story. She let me know where the potential shortcomings were.

A key point in writing believable fiction is to know where you don’t require any help, and where the story might be made better with some additional research. So in the case of my novel Shedrow, I knew I didn’t need anyone to tell me what it was like in an Operating Room. But I didn’t hesitate to ask a veterinarian or a horse trainer for assistance if I had an equine medicine question.

Despite our best efforts, there will undoubtedly be some instances where an author gets a particular detail or fact wrong. It happens even to the best authors, and when it does, one thing is certain: it may get by our editors, but our readers will surely let us know.


Dean M. DeLuke is the author of Shedrow, a new thriller dubbed a cross between Dick Francis and Robin Cook. He is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a graduate of St. Michael’s College, Columbia University (DMD) and Union Graduate College (MBA). Currently, he divides his time between the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery and a variety of business consulting activities. You can read excerpts and reviews, view a book trailer and photo gallery, and see details of upcoming contest offerings at http://www.shedrow1.com/.




Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Review: Arsenic and Clam Chowder by James D. Livingston

On August 30, 1895, Mary Alice Livingston Fleming purchased clam chowder and a piece of lemon meringue pie from the Colonial Hotel Restaurant. Mary Alice lived in the hotel, which was also home to her stepfather, Henry H. Bliss. Though Mr. Bliss and Mary's mother, Evelina Bliss were now separated, her mother and step-father remained on good terms. Mr. Bliss even paid Mary Alice's bills.

Mary Alice had been alone in her apartment that day. When her children returned home, she asked her daughter Gracie and the girl's friend, Florence, to carry the clam chowder in a small tin pail and the pie wrapped in paper to Gracie's grandmother, Evelina.

Hours later, Evelina Bliss was dead. Mary Alice would soon be accused of her murder.

Arsenic and Clam Chowder: Murder in Gilded Age New York recounts the sensational 1896 murder trial of Mary Alice Livingston, a member of one of the most prestigious families in New York. Livingston was accused of murdering her mother with a lethal dose of arsenic found in the clam chowder that had been delivered by Mary Alice's daughter and her friend. Her motive: to gain access to the inheritance left by her father, which would become hers only after her mother's death.

By the time of Evelina's demise, Mary Alice had three children by three different men and was six months pregnant. Although she had never married, she took the name Fleming, which was the family name of the father of her first child. Mary Alice was no stranger to the court system. She had accused two of the fathers of her children with a breech of contract, claiming they agreed to marry her.

Mary Alice's trial would last months, providing fodder and sensational headlines for Joseph Pulitzer's World and Randolph Hurst's Journal. If convicted, Mary Alice would face the death penalty. During the time of her trial, juries were made up of men, so in order to provide her with a jury of her peers, Pulitzer formed a jury of "twelve well-known, brainy New York women" who would follow the case and pronounce a verdict. An all-out circulation war was on.

Witnesses from well-known experts to Mary Alice's daughter Gracie and her friend Florence would be examined and re-examined to discover the truth. The truth, however, remains elusive.

In this intriguing account of Mary Alice's trial, author James D. Livingston brings Mary Alice and the days in which she lived, up close and personal. So engaging that it reads more like a novel, Arsenic and Clam Chowder, is an impartial true crime story that brings the reader from that fateful day in August 1895, through Mary Alice's trial, and into a discussion of reasonable doubt. A distant cousin of Mary Alice and her family, Livingston's account is well-researched and throughly detailed, providing the reader with a glimpse into the Gilded Age in New York, capturing the headlines of the day, the industrial advances, and the society into which Mary Alice was born and lived. In the end, the reader must decide if the outcome of the trial was fair and right, based upon the facts provided. The author also provides his thoughts on the matter.

The Afterwards section follows the major players in Mary Alice's trial after the verdict; nicely wrapping up the story for readers. Also included are historical photographs of buildings, evidence, and sketches drawn during the trial.

If you love true crime novels, you'll definitely want to pick up a copy of Arsenic and Clam Chowder by James D. Livingston!



Title: Arsenic and Clam Chowder
Author: James D. Livingston
Publisher: Excelsior Editions/State University of New York
ISBN-10: 1438431791
ISBN-13: 978-1438431796
SRP: $19.95

Friday, October 15, 2010

Interview: Lars Walker, Author of West Oversea

Lars Walker is a native of southeastern Minnesota, where he grew up on a small farm. He is a graduate of Augsburg College in Minneapolis and has worked over the years as a crab meat packer in Alaska, a radio announcer, a gas station attendant, and an administrative assistant. He currently lives in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, where he works as librarian and bookstore manager for the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations. In his spare time, when not writing, he can often be found playing Viking with a local reenactment group. We'll talk to Lars today about his youth, his writing, and his plans for the future.


Welcome to my blog, Lars. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Very quiet, very, very shy (although, oddly, I have no stage fright, and am a pretty good public speaker and actor). The shyness is a kind of backhanded blessing, though. It keeps me at home, where my writing laptop is.

Where did you grow up?

I was raised on my parents’ farm, southwest of Kenyon, Minnesota. I lived in the same house from my birth until I left for college at 18. I expect that’s a pretty rare experience nowadays. My novel Wolf Time is in part a tribute to my home town, a pretty Lake Woebegonesque place. And yes, I am Norwegian. And Lutheran.

When did you begin writing?

When I was a kid, I actually thought I’d be an artist when I grew up. I drew obsessively—“action” pictures that would get me in all kinds of trouble if I were a school kid today. I was never entirely happy with my drawing, though. I didn’t like the way I handled proportion, and I never really mastered perspective. Then, sometime in high school, I started experimenting with writing stories. Over the course of a couple years, I found I’d given up drawing almost completely. Writing turned out to be a much more satisfying instrument for whatever music I was trying play. It scratched my itch better.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I generally write in the evenings, after work and supper. I often have the TV on while I write; I find a little distraction stirs the broth for me. Or, when I’m in the zone, I find Bach or Grieg are conducive to my work. I also write on Saturdays, as much as I can, but I take Sundays off. I believe in a day of rest.

What is West Oversea about?

West Oversea is a historical fantasy. The hero is an actual 11th century figure, Erling Skjalgsson of Sola, a Norwegian chieftain who became the most powerful man in Norway. In this installment in his saga, he gives up his property and power in order to avoid doing a shameful deed, and embarks with his friends and family on a voyage to Greenland, to visit Leif Eriksson (this isn’t historical name-dropping; Erling probably did know him). It’s a stormy voyage, and they end up stopping over in Iceland, and then getting blown to the strange new land recently discovered by Leif. There are plenty of opportunities for fights, and (this being historical fantasy) there’s a good deal of magical trouble too.

What inspired you to write it?

I’ve been a nut about Vikings since I was a kid (probably because nobody’d invented video games at that point in time). I started reading all I could get my hands on the subject, so I’ve been essentially doing my research ever since.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I have some friends who are discerning readers, whose advice I’ve come to rely on. They get the unpublished text files when they’re finished (or I think so), and they tell me what they think.

Who is your favorite author?

C. S. Lewis. I love the science fiction trilogy, the Narnia books, and the apologetics. Screwtape and The Great Divorce too, of course. He was interested in Norse myth, as I am, but never did much in that field; I like to think he’d have enjoyed my stuff.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I started my first novel (as a short story) around 1970, and gave it up because it wasn’t working and I really didn’t know what I was doing at that point. Around 1980, I sat down and finished the thing. It was rubbish and I knew it, but I wanted to be able to say I’d written a novel all the way through. I reasoned that someday I’d be ready to craft a book, and it would help me to know I’d done the physical work once already.

Around 1990, I figured out what I wanted to do with it, and wrote it again from scratch, without a glance at the first version.

By that time I’d gotten a few short stories published in a national magazine. The editor quit to become an agent, and asked me if I had anything he could offer to publishers. He then started shopping the book around, and he eventually sold my first published novel (a different one, as it happened) to Baen Books. It was published in 1997.

So it was a snap; it only took a little over 25 years.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Amazon carries it, and you can also get it from my current publisher, Nordskog Publishing, by going to http://www.sendmethatbook.com/.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Absolutely. My web site is http://www.larswalker.com/, and I share a blog at http://www.brandywinebooks.net/. I post there generally about five times a week.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

I’m working on that. As they say in the industry, it’s in development.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

All things being equal, the prize goes to the persistent. If you have a modicum of talent, and are able to take advice, the main thing is to keep doing the thing, and to see your failures (you will have many) as learning experiences. This is easier to say than practice, but that doesn’t make it less true.

What is up next for you?

I’ve got another Erling book finished, plus a couple modern fantasies.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thanks for your time and space.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Lars. We wish you much success.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Author Spotlight: Lars Walker and West Oversea

In this Viking adventure tale, Erling Skjalgsson valiantly relinquishes his power and lands rather than be dishonorable to his evil brother. Supported by a well-drawn cast of characters, Skjalgsson sets sail for uncharted vistas with Greenland as the ultimate destination. The first leg of their voyage takes them to a newly settled Iceland. A dangerous storm blows the adventurers off-course where they encounter new peril with the wild lands and peoples of North America. Meanwhile, Erling’s Irish priest, Father Aillil, on a quest to rescue his enslaved sister, wrestles with a secret dark power that threatens to destroy them all. West Oversea is set against the historical and dramatic Eleventh century backdrop of a Norway in flux as pagan Norwegians are converted to Christianity—sometimes by force.

Read the Excerpt!

Chapter 14 The next morning Astrid and the child were gone. It was as always when someone goes missing. You reckon they’re using the privy or in one of the other houses, and after a while someone asks where they’ve gotten to, and someone else says. “I thought they were with you,” and that person says, “Well, I thought they were with you and then there’s a deal of asking about; and the upshot is that no one has seen them since the night before.

Read the Reviews!

“…I found West Oversea to be a worthy continuation of the Erling Saga. The book reads so fast that when it’s done, the reader is left both satisfied with the ending and still longing for the story to continue.” –Darwin Garrison, Fort Wayne, IN “West Oversea is a fantastic book and deserves to be one of many in a long series….This broadly researched Viking adventure is written within a beautifully rich framework. It is like an actor who does not break his character, even when everyone else goes off-script.” –Phil Wade, brandywinebooks.net


Lars (pronounced Larce) Walker is a native of Kenyon, Minnesota, and  lives in Minneapolis. He has worked as a crabmeat packer in Alaska, a radio announcer, a church secretary and an administrative assistant, and is presently librarian and bookstore manager for the schools of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations in Plymouth, Minnesota. He is the author of four previously published novels, and is the editor of the journal of the Georg Sverdrup Society. Walker says, “I never believed that God gave me whatever gifts I have in order to entertain fellow Christians. I want to confront the world with the claims of Jesus Christ.” His latest release is West Oversea: A Norse Saga of Mystery, Adventure and Faith. Visit Lars online at www.larswalker.com/  and his blog at www.brandywinebooks.net/
 

PURCHASE WEST OVERSEA AT AMAZON.COM!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Author Interview and Giveaway at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog - By Heart and Compass by Danielle Thorne

Check out this great author interview and giveaway over at Linda Weaver Clarke's blog.

Danielle Thorne freelanced for online and print magazines from 1998 through 2001, adding reviewing and editing to her resume. She is the author of The Privateer, a 1729 historical about British privateering in the Caribbean and Turtle Soup, a sweet contemporary romance set between Atlanta and St. Thomas.

Danielle currently writes from south of Atlanta, Georgia. She lives with four sons and her husband, who is an air traffic controller.

So, what's By Heart and Compass all about?

When Lacey Whitman buys a restored Victorian home, she never dreams discovering an antique diary will lead her back to sea and into the arms of the dive bum she’d rather forget. Her habit of living in the past comes to a screeching halt as diver Max Bertrand and the diary of his ancestor take Lacey on the quest of a lifetime: To discover and raise the privateer ship, Specter, and bring the treasure and legacy of a true hero home again. But will finding it cost her heart?

Read an excerpt!

Sitting outside, one of the divers looked busy replacing the o-ring on a scuba tank.

"I'm looking for Max?"

The long haired employee didn't bother to stand, much less look up.

"So?"

"I'm Lacey Whitman, and I'm looking for the Max that owns the museum."

"You call that worthless shack a museum?"

Dumbfounded, Lacey couldn't think of any reply.

"What do you want?"

"I'm looking for Max," she repeated, feeling a flash of impatience. "I have some papers for him."

"Warrant, restraining order, or paternity test?"

After a pause in which she realized he was serious, she replied in frustration, "I have some research for the Bertrand family and someone at the museum told me to come down here."

Lacey caught herself biting her lip.

Finally, the man of absolutely no assistance put down the tank and stood up. Short and compact, he had amazing turquoise eyes that glowed from a dark, tanned complexion. Loose strands of sun-kissed brown hair blew about his face in the breeze.

"Max doesn't need anymore paperwork. He doesn't want to see your research, and he is not giving dive lessons."

"I didn't ask for a dive lesson."

The diver sat back down again, crossing thick tattooed arms over himself. They stared one another down until he won. It was cheating to look her over as if she was a sweet little morsel, but it worked.

"I just want to talk to Max," she demanded.

He stared back with no expression. "You just did. Now get off my beach."

Lacey's cheeks were already flushed from getting the once over by this beach bum. His insult made her red all over.

"I'll be sure to let them know at the Bertrand Museum," she threatened, as if it mattered.

She turned on her heel and stalked off but he called after her, "Lady, I am the Bertrand Museum!"

***

Visit Linda Weaver Clarke's blog this week at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/2010/10/interview-with-romance-author-danielle.html to read her interview with Danielle and to find out how you could win a copy of By Heart and Compass.

Can't wait that long? Pick up a copy at Amazon.com today!

Visit Danille online at http://daniellethorne.jimdo.com/

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Review: Copper and Candles by Amber Stockton

Yearning to do more for those less fortunate than her, Felicity Chambers decides to do the unthinkable--she assists a pregnant woman who is on strict bed rest and takes her place working in a candle factory in Detroit's dangerous factory district.

Walking to work one day, she bumps into Brandt, a worker in the nearby copper factory. Their feelings soon blossom into more than friendship, but Felicity knows her parents would never allow her to marry a commoner.

What she doesn't know is that Brandt is hiding his true identity as well. When their secrets are revealed, it's possible they might never be able to trust each other again.

I've already read all three books in Stockton's Delaware Brides's series, which has been repackaged by the publisher and is now sold as the Liberty's Promise series with all three original stories now included in one book. I enjoyed the first book of this series so much that I ordered Copper and Candles at the same time I ordered the second two books in her original series.

Historical romance novels have long been a favorite of mine. That Stockton's work is also Christian romance makes them attractive to me, but the added attention to historical detail, the superb character development--which can be challenging in books of the required size in the Heartsong Presents line--and the obstacles Stockton places in her characters' way, keep me coming back to read more and more of her books.

Felicity is a young woman with her own mind. She uses her position in society to help those less fortunate, but really wants a chance to get her hands dirty. Along the way, she makes many friends; friends she never would have met as Felicity Chambers. Her parents don't approve, but they allow her to expand her wings a bit.

Brandt has responsibilities no one realizes. Also hiding his own identity, he ends up working in a copper factory. Very few people know who he really is or why he is working there under an assumed name.

These secrets are what bring Felicity and Brandt together, but neither knows the other person is anyone other than who she/he says she/he is. The reader follows along knowing at some point these secrets will be revealed. How Stockton develops the plot and brings the reader to this moment keeps a person flipping page after page. And once those secrets are revealed, the reader must follow along to see if Felicity and Brandt can accept the reasons for hiding those secrets and follow their hearts.

Copper and Candles by Amber Stockton is definitely a book I'll be reading again.


Title: Copper and Candles
Author: Amber Stockton
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
ISBN-10: 1602603405
ISBN-13: 978-1602603400
SRP: $2.97

Author Spolight: ZombieStopperUno and ZombieStop Parade


This story has nothing to do with zombies. It's about a couple of renegade punks who conduct an online campaign of ridicule against the cash-grab mentality, and get themselves into some trouble.

The story is set against a backdrop of millennial-generation alienation. Students who grew up dreaming of stock options, now look forward to a future of working for paltry wages, if they're fortunate enough to find a job at all. The struggle of the characters to deal legitimately with this inter-generational social conflict, is the heart of the story.


Read an Excerpt!

Jilian’s been an environmental advocate since she was ten years old. Her friends used to call her, Eco-Geek, and she was fine with that. One time she was at a meeting for her climate change group, and she met someone there who told her about Corky Club. She was interested and talked the guy into taking her there. He must’ve given her some advice on how to dress, because she didn’t show up in her usual upscale attire. I don’t remember what she wore but she must’ve dressed down quite a bit, so as not to stand out as an obvious interloper.

I don’t envy Jilian with the pressure she has to be exceptional. A lot of this pressure comes from her parents, but she gets it from her friends as well. All of them want to feel justified in their privilege. This has to suck for someone whose talents are as relatively ordinary as Jilian’s are. I feel fortunate that my parents have such limited expectations for me. I’m in the same boat as Jilian ability-wise. I’ve been described as just smart enough for it not to get me anywhere.

Purchase this book from:

www.amazon.com/ZombieStop-Parade-ebook/dp/B00332F5QQ

http://productsearch.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?store=EBOOK&WRD=zombiestop+parade

http://ebookstore.sony.com/search?keyword=zombiestop+parade

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9698


ZombieStopperUno is a big fat trouble-maker. He always has been, and barring a successful intervention to get him to submit to the counseling he needs, he always will be. Despite being well aware of his disputatious tendencies, he makes no attempt to reform himself. He is a product of society's ill-advised policy of abandoning corporeal punishment for "high-spirited" children. His case is a classic example of the hazards of tolerating non-conformant youth. He should be ignored by all right-thinking adults. If you choose to give him the attention he so desperately craves, you need to understand that you are contributing to the problem, and that makes you a trouble-maker as well.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Author Spotlight: Philip Stott and Another World

Scientist, educator, and author Philip Stott takes us on a harrowing journey back to the future.  The time: a few thousand years ago.  The place: a world we can barely imagine—and may not want to.  Here there is much to amaze, but there is also much to appall.  Here, all but a few have forgotten God; here, note but a few realize what is coming—terrifyingly—from above and beneath.  To enter that world is to risk seeing our own.  But enter it you should—the better to prepare yourself for another world that is soon to come.

Read the Excerpt!

After he had splattered his son’s brains out all over the sledway, it was all he could do to stop himself from burying his head in his hands and weeping in front of his men. He hated himself for striking that blow, but he’d had to do it. Couldn’t let him suffer for hours—no chance he could live with his guts torn and spilling out, not even if they could have got him to a doctor. Shouldn’t let anyone else finish him off, either.

But he’d had to put on a show of indifference. In a gang like this, the first sign of weakness would mean a knife in the back before the day was out.

Read Reviews of Another World!

“An action-filled novel that combines Biblical and scientific themes.”

–My Favorite Things

PURCHASE YOUR COPY AT AMAZON!

Philip Stott was born in England in 1943. He studied at Manchester University, where he obtained B.S. (with honours) and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering. He lectured at universities in Nigeria and South Africa and carried out research in the analysis of geometrically nonlinear structures. He shared the Henry Adams Award for outstanding research in 1969. While lecturing at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, he studied biology. After leaving Wits he joined an engineering consulting firm. His ongoing interest in all aspects of science led to studies in mathematics and astronomy with the University of South Africa and, later, to four years of part-time research with the Applied Mathematics Department of the University of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.


After many years as a firm atheist, he was converted to Christianity in 1976. Following several years of studying the conflicting claims of secular science and Scripture, he actively entered the Creation/Evolution debate in 1989.


In 1992, he was invited to address a conference in Russia and since then has lectured, addressed conferences, and taken part in debates in eastern and western Europe, America, Canada, and southern Africa. Venues have included the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN), a UNESCO International Conference on the Teaching of Physics, and the Russian Academy of Sciences.


Philip Stott is married to Margaret (born Lloyd). They have two children, Robert and Angela; and two grandchildren, Sean and Julie. They live in Bloemfontein, South Africa.


You can read more about Philip and his novel, Another World at http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-another-world.shtml


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Interview: Philip Stott, Author of Another World

Philip Stott was born in England in 1943. In 1967 he moved to Nigeria to lecture at Ahmadu Bello University and from there he moved to South Africa to lecture at Wits. University. In 1976, while an ardent atheist, he met the Lord Jesus Christ and his perspective on life changed completely. For many years he has been passionately concerned with the relationship between Scripture and Science. He has been an invited guest lecturer at The Russian Accademy of Sciences, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, a UNESCO conference on the teaching of Physics, the State University of St. Petersburg and many other places of learning in Europe, Africa, USA and Canada. We'll talk to Philip about his youth, his writing, and his future plans.


Welcome to my blog, Philip. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a very fortunate person. I grew up in a loving home and was encouraged to work towards a sound education. I have had the opportunity to do many exciting things, go to many interesting places, meet many outstanding people, marry a very special wife, have wonderful children and most fortunate of all, to experience the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small sea-side town in England. It was just after the Second World War and England was in a devastated state. Everyone was struggling with the same difficulties so it was a time when people were sympathetic, cared about each other and were more than willing to help with each others problems. In many ways I think it was a better environment for growing up than the ease and affluence of today. Those were the days before television, and most of us read avidly. I used to read about five books a week.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

One which I treasure is from the end of the war. My father came home on leave from France (where he was an interpreter with an American bomb-disposal team). He brought a French toy train set with him. I remember my elder brother sitting on the sofa and my mother holding me in her arms. We watched the train go round and round its little track. The locomotive had a battery-powered headlamp which was brighter than the dim gas lamps which lit the room. It was pure magic.

When did you begin writing?

I began serious technical writing in 1965. I only began writing fiction in 1973 - just for fun. I wrote short stories and a novel without really thinking of getting them published, I just shared them with friends. The first time I wrote actually intending to reach a wider public (in anything other than technical journals) was in 1994 when “Vital Questions” was published.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

Quite a bit of my working day is spent on technical writing. My non-technical stuff is done whenever I can find a quiet opportunity. I usually get up at 4am - sometimes even earlier – when everyone else is still asleep. I am at my most creative, and enjoy writing the most, when the only sound is the distant crowing of cocks.

What is Another World about?

Another World is about the count-down to the flood. The main character is Noah's son, Japheth. We travel with him through a world that has become rotten to the core. He has to contend with gangs of robbers, corrupt police, dishonest businessmen and human traffickers. But he does come across a few honest, upright people and has some great experiences as well as many scary ones on the way to his family's earth-shattering date with destiny.

What inspired you to write it?

I have done a lot of research into the flood. It is one of the topics I have lectured on throughout Europe, Africa the USA and Canada for about twenty years. The events of the flood itself, and the condition of the world just before it struck, were almost certainly very different from most people's conception of them. The evidence suggests a highly developed civilization with advanced scientific knowledge and stunning technology. I can't think of a more exciting setting for a novel ... it cries out for a special genre which could be called “Scriptural Science Fiction”.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My daughter, Angela, who is, among other things, a talented and successful author. She has always been a great encouragement. She often seems to have an inflated opinion of my abilities. That can be a bit embarrassing when I fail to live up to them, but she never seems to lose faith in me anyway.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I have been a member of a local writers guild “Die Bleomfontein Skrywersvereniging” for a few years. Amost all of the members are Afrikaans speaking, and all the presentations are in Afrikaans, but the members can all speak English fluently. I have learned a great deal from the guild and one of the members is a “fan” of my work, always ready to give advice and to critique my writing.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

If the local bookstore does not have it in stock they could order from Nordskog Publishing Inc, Ventura California. In South Africa it is available from Christian Liberty Books, Cape Town. It is also available at Amazon.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I have a web site Scripture and Science. It is part of the Reformation Christian Ministries web site (which is going through a major re-organisation at the moment). There is a lot of information about the interaction of science and scripture, including the flood.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Enjoy your writing. I think it is better to aim for a piece which gives you a lot of joy in the making, rather than just to get it published. If it gets accepted for publication take that as an added bonus. If it does not, it will have been a valuable part of developing your writing skills. If you did not enjoy writing it, then it's not very likely that others will enjoy reading it.

What is up next for you?

I am working on a book about cancer – its causes and cure. Some early-bird readers of Another World have suggested a sequel, and I might think about that when the cancer book is finished.

Is there anything you would like to add?

There is an old, but true saying that if you do not know the past you will not be prepared for the future. The flood was a judgment from God. The Bible tells us there will be another judgment. Jesus said that it will be “just as it was in the days of Noah” – most people will be totally unprepared. I hope Another World will inspire readers to be prepared for what I believe is coming sooner than most people expect.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Philip. Good luck with your book.