Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Review: BOOK OF SPIES by Gayle Lynds

If you like some history thrown in with a thriller that contains mystery, suspense, espionage, and memorable characters, you should be adding BOOK OF SPIES to your summer reading list.

Judd Ryder, a former intelligence agent, learns that the Library of Gold just may exist.  For centuries, world rulers, historians, and even the Vatican have searched for Ivan the Terrible's personal library of priceless gold and jeweled-covered books dating back to the ancient Greeks.  One of the library's volumes, Book of Spies, surfaces and the CIA links the legendary library to a secret book club that may own the library, a bank account connected to terrorists, and the death of Judd's father.  Together, Ryder and the CIA turn to Eva Blake for help.  Eva's a rare books curator serving time in jail for the vehicular manslaughter of her husband.  Racing from London to Rome, Istanbul, and Athens, Ryder and Eva Blake must locate the library--and stay alive during the process.

The book has a complex plot that keeps readers guessing from the first page right through 'til the end.  A cast of unforgettable characters weaves its way through an endless maze of complications, plot twists, danger, betrayal, and murder.

BOOK OF SPIES is the first book in Gayle Lynds' new series and I can't wait for the next one.  On a scale of 1 o 10, I give this book a 9.5.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with RICK CHESLER

You live in Hawaii, which those of us in the lower 48 imagine as paradise. Is it really paradise? Why? Why not? 

It depends on your definition of paradise. I live in Honolulu, which is a major urban center with traffic, crowding, skyscraper office buildings, homelessness, and crime--just like any other city, but with nicer weather and the beach always nearby. However, many other parts of the state—especially on the other islands-- offer pristine natural areas as well as small town, rural living with a true tropical island pace.

You have a B.S. in Marine Biology and work as an environmental project manager. How’d you get from there to being a mystery/thriller writer?

I’ve always had a fascination with the natural world and the ocean in particular. I was one of those kids who caught frogs and turtles and crayfish from streams and brought them home to live in terrariums. Later, I earned a degree in marine biology. Writing fiction, for me, is just another way to explore the world in which we live, albeit in a highly entertaining fashion.

Tell us about WIRED KINGDOM, your new thriller.

Wired Kingdom is my debut novel, a high-tech mystery about a whale tagged with a webcam that broadcasts a murder at sea. It was released May 25 this year, from Variance Publishing / Deviation Books. It is available in mass market paperback and various e-book formats, including Kindle.

What are you working on now?

It’s top secret at this point, but suffice to say that more action, adventure, intrigue, and cutting edge science & technology are on the way!

Share with us your road to publication: Are you an overnight success? Do you have an agent? Any special tips or advice to new authors?

Definitely not an overnight success. I wrote a couple of “practice” thriller manuscripts over the years before I wrote and eventually sold what was to become, after many versions, revisions and edits, Wired Kingdom.

I do not have an agent at this time.

The best advice I can give to new authors is to stay actively involved in promoting their work. It’s been surprising to me how many seemingly chance connections have resulted in a new reader. For new writers or aspiring authors, the best single piece of advice I can give is to read a lot within your chosen genre or area.

Do you have any special promotional activities currently underway in support of Wired Kingdom?

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I do! Right now and until July 31, 2010, I have a giveaway contest running with, the free social network for book lovers. All you have to do is have a (free) Goodreads account, and click the “Enter to Win” button on this page:

In return for entering, all I ask is that you spread the word by adding Wired Kingdom to your shelf and recommending it to your Goodreads friends. Winner will receive a signed copy of the book. Good luck!

What are the addresses of your websites, blogs, Facebook page, etc.?

My author website:
Wired Kingdom Facebook fan page:
On publisher’s website:
Author twitter: @RickChesler or
Amazon page:

Thank you very much for having me on Author Exchange Blog. Happy reading!  -Rick

[Blog Hostess comment:  I reviewed Wired Kingdom earlier this month.  If you're interested in seeing my review, click here.]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Release: FOREST OF CORPES by P.A. Brown

P.A. Brown, award-winning author of the L.A. Crime novels, announces the release of Forest of Corpes this month.  It is the sequel to Geography of Murder and is a Gay Police Prodecural with BDSM content.

Forest of Corpses is published by MLR Press and can be found at:

You can visit P.A. Brown's website at:

Monday, July 19, 2010


You’ve lived in rural settings in Idaho and Utah and you’ve toured all over the U.S. What are your thoughts about choosing settings for books/stories and how they affect the characters?

I believe that an author must feel close to an area to be able to write about it. It brings authenticity to the story. It also helps the writer to build and develop characters that act like they are from that area, such as expressions and attitudes and clothes, etc. My new book, Anasazi Intrigue, is set in St. George, Utah, my home. The inspiration for this story came from a true experience that really happened right here in my little valley in southern Utah. The Santa Clara/Virgin River flood in 2005 was a terrible disaster. About two hundred homes were seriously damaged and twenty-five were completely destroyed. The small five-foot-wide river, which could easily be crossed on foot or in a car, grew as wide as the length of a football field, and it was taking everything in its path. In three days time, it had dug into the earth’s surface, carving away at the banks, creating ridges as high as forty feet deep. In fact, the river was moving at ten feet per hour, just like a plow pushing the dirt and trees down the river. Everyone worked hard to help the residents remove what they could from their homes before the flood hit, but there were those who escaped with only the clothes on their backs. The experience of charity and compassion by the people was incredible. There was no prejudice of religion, race, culture, or status, just unconditional love and concern for everyone. Homes, clothes, and food were instantly found for the homeless. We all gathered together and tried to help in anyway possible. Several weeks later, a man found his car thirty miles downstream from his home. But that wasn't the only inspiration. We also have the background of the Anasazi Indians.

You have six daughters. How does the mother-daughter relationships you’ve experienced affect your writing?

Actually, my daughters affect my writing quite a bit. In Anasazi Intrigue, I have taken the liberty of creating the daughters for John and Julia and gave them the personality and fun expressions of my three youngest daughters: Alaina, Serena, and Felicia. April has Alaina's personality, Sharlene is like Serena, and Faith is the spitting image of Felicia. When I told them what I did, they thought it was funny. And yes, my husband says that he feels "outnumbered" but he adores each of his daughters.

Share with us the importance of Family Legacy.

I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. If these stories are unwritten, then they’ll be lost forever. Our children need to be proud of their ancestors. Leon Garfield said: “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” What I’m teaching people to do is how to paint, to be the storyteller. Adults are usually the main audience, but I’ve attracted many teenagers who want to learn how to write. In fact, one library sponsored this workshop for a group of troubled teens. Writing helps to express one’s innermost feelings. It can be a healing process.

Tell us all about your latest book.

It’s about a devastating flood that takes out several homes in a small town, the importance of preserving ancient artifacts, and a few puzzling and mysterious events. Julia is a reporter, and when she finds out about a possible poison spill that kills some fish and neighbor's pets, she has a feeling that something isn’t quite right. Before she realizes what is happening, Julia finds out that this incident is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought. With dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants chasing John and Julia, they have their hands full. To read an excerpt from each of my books, visit

Do you have any daily writing routines? A certain number of required pages or words?

I usually write in the morning when my mind is fresh and I don't feel any pressures of the day. I don't usually have a required amount of pages because I just "go with the flow."

What type of research goes into creating one of your mystery novels?

First, I find a subject that interests me. For example, with Anasazi Intrigue, I was interested in the Anasazi Indians right here in my valley. Who were they, where did they come from, how did they live? Many people wonder why they disappeared, leaving behind their belongings and valuables. Where did they go and why? There is much speculation about what might have happened. Some archaeologists believe that discord and tribal violence caused abandonment of the villages. In my research, I found that archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to find out about it. Did you know that an ancient funeral pit could be sold for $60,000 on the black market? Not to mention all the pottery, baskets, and pendants found by looters. Looting is only second to selling illegal drugs. It’s a very intriguing subject and I enjoyed learning so much in my research.

What are the addresses of your websites and blogs?

"The World of Make Believe" is my official website:
At my Author's Blog, I have fun interviewing authors and have book give-aways every Monday at:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book Review: WIRED KINGDOM by Rick Chesler

When a blue whale tagged with a web-cam designated with stolen defense technology broadcasts a brutal murder at sea as part of a television nature program, Special Agent Tara Shores finds herself navigating an ocean of maniupulation and deceit in a deadly race to reach the 100-ton creature romaing the Pacific before an unknown killer can destroy the digital evidence it carriers.  (book blurb from the paperback by Deviation Books, a division of Variance, LLC)

From the moment this book began, it hooked me.  The complex plot maintained its pacing and suspense, keeping me turning the pages and anxious to discover what would happen next.  And, whatever did happen next was always a surprise and well-motiviated.  Not a single coincidence in this book.  Chesler tied everything together and created sympathetic characters--even the bad guys.

I found myself oddly drawn to the whale, who, although she is central to the story, didn't share a single thought.  She did, however, experience a multitude of challenges and death-defying experiences that left me rooting for her 100% of the way.  In one chapter, I was sure she'd survive.  In the next, I was convinced the bad guys were not only going to kill her, but do so in one or more gruesome ways.  You have to read the book to learn the fate of the magnificent blue whale.

Rick Chesler holds a B.S. in Marine Biology and, while he educates his readers throughout the story, he does so in a way that is not intrusive or technical.  I found myself intrigued by the underwater world he portrayed so well and equally as enthralled by the people and technology who study and live in it.

Wired Kingdom is a must-read.  If I had to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 10.

You can visit Rick Chesler at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A Humble Little Post About how to Kiss Your Writer’s Block Goodbye
(And Maybe Punch it in the Crotch on the way out)

I'll always remember it. Late in the spring of ’82 when I was young and the world was spread before me like something that spreads before you when you’re young.

So I walked into the O.R. and said, “Scalpel.” The lady (I think it was probably a nurse, but who can say when everyone’s wearing a mask – it could have been some desperado in a pink outfit) handed me a scalpel. “I’m making the first incision,” I said. Then I started with the bone saw. “Oooh, look,” was my next comment. “It’s his brain.”

I poked it, and laughed HI-lariously when the fellow kicked a nearby bedpan. Another poke and he shouted “Fruity tooty love your booty!”

At this point several armed officers escorted me out of the room. But in spite of the fact that I was in prison for a while (turns out there are rules about doing brain surgery when you are not, in fact, a doctor of any kind), I’ll always have those great memories. The guy I operated on probably won’t, but that’s a risk I was willing to take.

“Wait, wait, WAIT! What the heck does this have to do with being a writer and avoiding writer’s block?” I hear you say.

To which I answer: everything, suckah.

Here’s the big secret about writer’s block: writer’s block usually doesn’t mean a writer has nothing in him or her to write; rather it usually means they do have something to write, but there’s some kind of internal crap filter that keeps them from writing it. As though there’s a part of most writers that insists that every single sentence be an appropriate calling card for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Or at least a Hugo or something.

But that’s just dumb. Not everything you write will be perfect. And it’s not supposed to be perfect. That’s what God invented re-writes for.*

So wait, now you agree I may have a point, but still aren’t getting the whole brain surgery connection. Well, it’s simple, my fine young friend.** The point of the brain surgery example is to illustrate a simple fact about writing: unless you are in charge of correspondence between hostile states, it is very likely that no matter how bad a writer you are, no one will die.

Person who does brain surgery without adequate preparation = bad (and probably dead brain surgery patient). Person who engages in writing without adequate preparation = fine-and-dandy-because-how-the-heck-else-are-you-going-to-get-good-at-it? So the stakes are low and you can write without worrying about killing someone. Takes a load off, don’t it?

And that leads to this question: You want to know how to avoid writer’s block? Answer: Just WRITE. Accept the fact some of what you write will not be fit for wiping Charley Manson’s behind. When you accept that, you can also accept that you’ll be able to go back and fix it later (thus making what you write fit for wiping the hinies of really important folks like the President or Oprah or other people who run the world).

And when you start to write with this attitude, an odd thing happens: you start to get good. You start to get fast. You start to be a writer who knows you can sit down at a moment’s notice and bang out something that resembles a good piece of work.

Example: I recently optioned a screenplay, and was asked to do some rewrites on it. I netted several tens of THOUSANDS of dollars. Total time to write the script: three days. Total time to do the rewrites: two days.

That’s a good earnings ratio.

Or how about this: I wrote a book called Billy: Messenger of Powers (which, BTW, you can get at at or at on The book is pretty good: it’s currently the Highest-Rated book out of many thousands at, and has gotten great reviews from dozeons of folks. All this to say (aside from being a really subtle way of pimping one of my books) is that the book does not stink. It is even possible to call it “good.”

It is over 180,000 words. That’s well over 400 pages in paperback format.

I wrote it – including rewrites – in a month. Because I just let myself write, and let myself enjoy it.

Writing is NOT brain surgery. It is NOT nuclear weapons testing. It is WRITING. It is something that anyone and everyone can do. And along with that fact, it is also something that anyone and everyone WILL get good at.

If they practice.

If they recognize “writer’s block” for what it really is: they’re own insecurity getting in the way of a good first draft.

If they, in a word… write.

So what are you sitting around reading this for? Go write something!


Michaelbrent Collings is a lawyer, screenwriter, black-belt martial artist, father, husband, and has a killer backhand on the badminton court. He is, in a word (wait, that's several words!), a guy going through some serious personality issues.

He wrote Billy: Messenger of Powers because his wife was tired of being scared by the stories he was telling her (especially the one about the girl under the bed...) and wanted something more light, more airy, and with fewer dead people. There have been worse reasons to write a story.

In addition to Billy, he’s also written screenplays, several fairy tales, a couple of nonfiction books, and dozens of articles on a variety of subjects. He even has a blog at http://www.whoisbillyjones/mylittlethoughts that lets you delve into the inner creakings of a warped mind.

And if you’re still game for more, you can “friend” him on his Facebook page at, which will give you early heads-ups on his writing adventures and also gives you a pity Thought For The Day (“TFTD”) that is worth every penny you pay for it.

Michaelbrent currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, two kids, and several imaginary friends, all of whom are too cool to invite Michaelbrent to their parties.

* Unless you don’t believe in God, in which case I guess you’re just going to burn in Hell, where you will have writer’s block forever and also will probably have to sit next to me while I smack my chewing gum very loudly.

**You may in fact be a cruddy old coot, but since we’ve never met I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Just like you’re going to imagine me with a thick head of hair.

© 2010 by Michaelbrent Collings

All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 12, 2010

Author Interview with NANCY MEANS WRIGHT

When you begin writing, you seldom have an in-depth outline of plot or character. What are the drawbacks of having too much detail in mind when a writer begins a project?

In part, it’s a reaction to all the term papers I had to do in college and grad school! But mostly I don’t outline—other than a general idea of victim, sleuth, and “who dunnit”—because I love the surprise that comes at the end of each scene. What the characters suddenly decide to do: someone jumps out a window, or a new character slams into the room to upset the tea kettle. I believe a writer should stay open and ignorant and allow new ideas and events to emerge and startle.

You clearly don’t believe in writer’s block because you always quit writing just before the end of a scene and then make notes about where/how to resume. Why do you think other writers have writer’s block? Do you have any tips to avoid it?

I can’t say I don’t ever have writer’s block—I broke my arm this spring and that slowed me up! But in general, no. In addition to the post-scene notes, I read over what I wrote in my last session, and that usually sparks new writing. It might be fear that keeps some writers from writing…and if one takes too much time away from work, the fear grows: “Help! I’ve lost my focus…” And the writer retreats to the refrigerator. Well, I confess: this has happened to me now and then. But a second cup of coffee helps, along with the act of writing—any writing, about anything—to restart the engine.

How valuable is a good agent? How harmful is a bad agent? Does a writer really need an agent?

Valuable, yes! I’ve had three good agents—the first found a publisher for my debut (non-mystery) novel—then quit to start an antiquarian bookstore. The second sent a ms around, died, alas—and the ms was lost. Acting as pseudo agent (see my website), my husband sold my first mystery novel to St. Martin’s Press. I “fired” him, found a new agent, who got more money for the next four—she earned her 15%! But now I’m going it alone with Perseverance Press, who gives me superb editing and lavish book promotion. So a writer only needs an agent, it seems, for the large publishers.

Along with other books, you’ve published ten novels—most of them in contemporary settings. What made you decide to write an historical novel?

I’ve always been fascinated by the 18th-century: its idealism, its revolutions calling for liberty and equality. And I discovered Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she cried out for a woman’s right to divorce, to cultivate her independence, for equal education with boys—in short, for “Justice for one half of humankind!” I was intrigued by her fiery, unconventional life in Ireland, England, and in France where she lived and loved during the excesses of the Reign of Terror. Although her lover abandoned her, and she scandalized society as an unwed mother, she ultimately faced life with zest and good humor. Sadly, she died shortly after giving birth to the future Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein. But I knew I had to write about her life—in her persona.

In addition to writing mystery fiction for adults, and non-fiction, you also write YA. Tell us about that market and the books you’ve written.

I’ve published YA short stories in Seventeen and elsewhere, and in three novels. I guess the age group appealed to me because I’d taught young adults for years and had four of my own—all so conflicted and vulnerable! Down The Strings (E.P. Dutton), came about when my teenage daughter invited a few girls to a slumber party and 200 showed up, along with a rock band. Oh, the damage! As punishment, I made her put the event on tape—it became chapter four; I cast her as a puppeteer’s kid, who feels everyone is pulling her strings. She was also in The Pea Soup Poisonings, a novel that won the ’06 Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA. A sequel, The Great Circus Train Robbery,was an ’08 Agatha finalist, inspired by an engineer who rode into my life along with his model rail cars, one of which rumbles daily under my reading chair.

Tell us about your most recent book.

In Midnight Fires, Mary Wollstonecraft is a rebellious 27-year-old governess for the daughters of the notorious, aristocratic Kingsborough family in Ireland. To Mary, their Mitchelstown Castle is a Bastille, and her employers proud and contentious. Lady K wants Mary to teach embroidery and the pianoforte; she wants to teach them Shakespeare and to think for themselves. Of course there’s a mystery when Lord K’s womanizing half-brother is stabbed, and rebel peasant Liam is charged with the crime—Mary rises to his defense. To me, the real life Mary W., who deplored sham and injustice (she had earlier kidnapped her own sister from an abusive husband), proves a terrific sleuth. Publishers Weekly (to my great joy) calls the novel “captivating.”

What are the addresses of your websites and blogs?
“Becoming Mary Wollstonecraft” on Facebook.
(Or see my publishers’ URL: Daniel & Daniel/Perseverance Press)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Maddie James and her colleagues are terrorism experts working in a crumbling intelligence agency.  They are certain another big terrorist attack is coming, but in a post 9-11 election year, the Administration is stressing its victories in the war on Terror--and few want to hear the term's warnings.

So begins the press release for Susan Hasler's debut novel.  I have no personal or factual knowledge of what goes on inside our government agencies, but INTELLIGENCE gave me a whole new insight into what just may be going on.  Hasler spent 21 years working for the CIA and she did an excellent job using jargon in a way that actually lent to the story rather than detracting from it.  Her sarcastic and witty sense of humor, along with a depth of compassion, created a cast of memorable characters.

More importantly, her well-laid out plot provided me with much food for thought--even after I finished the book.  I couldn't put INTELLIGENCE down; I read it from cover to cover in one day.  If I had to rate it on a scale of 1 - 10, I'd give it a 9.5.

INTELLIGENCE was released on June 22, 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin's Press.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


You’ve written a variety of fiction and non-fiction and were also a writing teacher. What is the biggest misconception a writer has before being published?

Not realizing how much one must do to promote his or her book. It takes as much time for me to promote as it does to write a book.

Once a writer has published many books, as you have, is it easier to keep coming up with ideas and materials—or harder?

Oh, I always have ideas--it's finding the time to put them into the computer that's the hard part. We just returned from Mayhem in the Midlands, one of my favorite mystery conventions, and now I have a huge stack of writing-related tasks to get done. (And I didn't even mention all the things that must be done to run this busy household.)

Having penned both fiction and non-fiction, which is easier to write? Should writers try their hands at both, or stick to just one?

I truly love writing fiction the best and seldom write any non-fiction anymore, unless I'm doing a ghost-writing project for someone.  Having said that, I think writing non-fiction is best if you really want to make some money at this profession.

Tell us about your most recent books.

I write two series. The latest in the Rocky Bluff crime series is An Axe to Grind. The idea for the story came from a talk by a coroner at a Sisters in Crime meeting. He showed slides and talked about various murders and one was about a decapitation. I took notes and knew that one day the detectives in my series would have to solve that case. While doing so, Detective Milligan has to put planning his wedding to Officer Stacey Wilbur on hold. The Rocky Bluff P.D. series has an ensemble cast and what I've tried to do is show how what happens in the police officers' families affects the job, and what's happening on the job affects the family.

Dispel the Mist grew from research about Big Foot for a previous novel. I learned that the Indians on the reservation that is often in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series believe in a legendary creature called The Hairy Man. I was fortunate to see the pictographs of the Hairy Man in a rock shelter on the reservation and knew that my heroine had to have an encounter with him.

I met your husband when we were at the EPIC Conference in New Orleans earlier this year; he’s not only nice (and charming!), but also incredibly supportive. How important do you believe it is to a writing to have a support system?

It certainly helps to have a support system and I'm so fortunate that my husband is willing to do so much to help me especially when I'm on the road promoting my books.

What types of things do you do to promote your books?

I attend writers and mystery conferences if I can either be an instructor/speaker or be on a panel. Though I do a few book store signings, I do far more library visits, book and craft fairs. And of course there is the Internet, where I'm on Facebook and Twitter and do blog tours for all of my books.

What are the addresses of your websites and blogs?

My website is
My personal blog is
Every Tuesday I blog at
and the first and third Tuesday's I'm at

Linda, thank you so much for letting me visit your blog today.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Your book, BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS, wasn’t published in the traditional way. Tell us why not and how you accomplished getting it into the hands (and ears) of the public.

BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS was not published in the "traditional" way mostly because I got tired of killing entire rainforests with query letters. Not only that, but due to the fact that most "traditional" publishing houses require that you send them the book one at a time (no sharesies!), that means that each rejection takes six months to a year... time during which I'm not really allowed to do much with my book other than cause the ink to run with the my unrequited tears. Also I dropped my soda pop on it, which may have had something to do with the ink running. But mostly it was the tears thing.

In addition, I also published it as an e-book because (not to sound like a snot but...) EVERYONE who read it loved the thing. I figured I'd be able to move the product myself, and if that was the case, why share so much of the profits when I'm doing all the work? It seems to be working so far. The book is selling well for Kindle on, and it is the Number One Highest Rated book at (which has thousands of books, so it's not like I'm number one of three or something, though that would be cool too).

So... I'm not a bizillionaire yet, but I've definitely got my eye on a small private jet that has my name all over it. Speaking of which, it turns out that spray painting your name on a jet goes under the heading of "graffiti" rather than "marking your territory." Word to the wise.

And, not to make ALL this irrelevant, but in addition to the e-versions that are out there, Billy actually is coming out in print form in a few months. It's all part of a little plan I call "Gradually Taking Over the World."

You wear many hats: writer, screenwriter, attorney, black belt, father and husband. (I’m sure I’m leaving out about a dozen others, as well.) Do you compartmentalize these portions of your life or do you blend them together? Share with us the secret of your serious multi-tasking abilities.

I blend everything together in a very compartmentalized way. Which sounds funny, but it's actually true. When I'm a writer, I'm generally not punching something. When I'm doing martial arts, as a rule I try not to take my laptop to fights. And of course when I'm a father and/or husband I try to avoid punching AND writing since the other people involved feel hurt and/or ignored and/or a need to go to the hospital. But at the same time, you can't keep things completely separate. Billy: Messenger of Powers, for example, is a Young Adult fantasy novel. So there are dragons and mermaids and such. But some of my favorite characters are the Kung Fu Cleaners, a group of obsessive compulsive rock monsters who clean everything they can... and also know karate. Obviously I got that from a combination of having to clean house and do karate on my kids - er, I mean, encourage them with love to learn how to clean their rooms.

So everything stays apart, but everything comes together. It's very deep and I'll give you a minute to think about it and also now's a good point to take a bathroom break if you want.

What is Writer’s Block and how do we avoid it? (Didn’t you write a book about this?)

Why yes, I DID write a book on that (funny you should ask!). The book is called How to be a Writer, and it's available at and as well. It's more of an essay than a book, but the point is that I think writer's block is really more ofa dsf a'dsfkja'sdna;gua[rp'tj'a bx ag'agk.

Now, the above may seem like nonsense, but it's really code. Because if I TELL you, WHY WOULD YOU BUY THE BOOK? Also, I'm going to do a guest blog for this wonderful website, and I'll be talking about that very subject in the blog, so if I tell now, why would you read the blog? Sheesh.

In the short duration of our “relationship,” I’ve sensed a thread of humor in everything you say and do. How important do you think having a sense of humor is to a writer—and why?

First of all, I told you not to tell anyone about our relationship! My wife just wouldn't understand! To say nothing of my three mistresses and a couple of very protective sales people who work at Baby Gap (don't ask). But social faux pas aside, I don't know what you're talking about. I think Mr. Spock said it best when he said "Emotion, Captain? I don't believe I understand the question." That was in one of the Lost Episodes (as opposed to an episode of Lost, which is totally different).

But seriously (as if THAT boat hadn't sailed long ago), I think a sense of humor is critical. The line between horror and humor is very thin. So humor is a necessity if you're going to place yourself in a position where anyone can take a shot at you. Sure, most of the time people love me and my work. Sure, I'm attractive and some would even describe me as "billionaire playboy." But once in a while there is someone who doesn't like my work, or me, or my family, or the ground I walk on. And in that case I have to have a sense of humor about it. Which is why I tell knock-knock jokes right before I shoot those haters.

If you could play badminton with one historical figure, who would it be – and why?

Probably Ghandi. 'Cause I'd point out that if he beat me it would be like he was engaging in warfare and so while he was off on a hunger strike I'd WAIL ON HIM! Either that or Gumby. I know, a lot of people don't count him as a historical figure, but that would be the perfect way to prove all those doubters wrong!  [Blog Hostess Comment:  "Since I remember him from my childhood, and I've passed middle age, that makes him a historical figure."]

If you had to write something for your tombstone, what would it be? P.S. it has to be something true.

I'd love it if I could truthfully write 'Michaelbrent Collings - not perfect, but got a little better each day.'

P.S. This is also a good question to ask people on a first date. Nothing like talk of death to reel the right one out. It's how I got my wife. That and the proper administration of some sedatives at just the right moment.

What are the addresses of your websites, blogs, and other online presences?

Well, I'm fairly ubiquitous. So here they are (you asked). - it's the "official" site of all things Billy Jones and has had over 1/4 million hits. It links to places you can get the books in e-format as well as linking to a place where you can get a terrific audio version of the book done by a really dynamite guy named Andy Bowyer (he's at - get yours today!) - this is where you can see the list of all my books available for Kindle on Billy is there, along with a couple of fairy tales, and some nonfiction work - this is where you can get my books in other e-formats. Like I said before, Billy is currently the number one highest rated book on the entire site, and that and two of my other books hold the top three spots in the highest rated children's books category. Yee-haw! - this is my blog. It's got a lot of rambling and no coherent throughline, but if you want to know what Voltron has to do with parity of the sexes, or why email is the devil, or why I miss Action Men (this makes sense only if you read the blog), then My Little Thoughts is the way to go. - my Facebook fan page where (if you click "Like") you can get heads-ups on my writing adventures, first notifications of new blog entries at My Little Thoughts, and a bona fide Thought For The Day ("TFTD") that is guaranteed to amaze and astound or your money back.

There's actually more, but let's face it, I've put you through enough for one day. Plus, you still have my Guest Blog to fear - er, look forward to. [It's scheduled for 7/14, folks!  - LF]  Always leave them wanting more... Or, in my case, always leave them. At least, that's what my mom said right before she booted me out of the house. (Just kidding, she had the cops do it.)

Thanks for letting me bend your ear a bit. Happy reading!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New Release: THE ALPHA by Annie Nicholas

Annie Nicholas is happy to announce the release of THE ALPHA, a work of paranormal erotica, on June 21, 2010.

You can find THE ALPHA at

You can find Annie at: or at .

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Interview with ANNIE NICHOLAS

Your website tells us you write Paranormal with a twist. Tell us about your “twists.” 

I write Paranormal with a Twist, which means if you like your stories off the beaten path, your characters cut from a broken cookie cutter, and to get your beliefs challenged then welcome to my worlds. My mind is a dark and strange place where odd people live.

You wouldn’t know it by meeting me. I’m a baseball/swim team mom, standing on the sidelines cheering my boys, baker of cookies, healer of scrapes, and keeper of the household peace. Yet, monsters live in my head.

Share with us your personal road to publishing. 

A couple years ago I was housebound for six months due to illness. In an attempt to save my sanity and not die of boredom, I began to write. From there, I met an online critique group and we all grew together as writers. With their encouragement I submitted my first story, THE OMEGAS, and it got offered a contract!

Tell us about your latest book.  My newest release is THE ALPHA, Book 2 of The Vanguards series.

Someone is about to get some Spice in his life.

Spice has nothing but the clothes on her back when she returns to Chicago. She's looking for a better life, and that means reuniting with her estranged twin sister, Sugar. She isn't thrilled to find out Sugar's boyfriend is a vampire. But then she meets Eric, once the bottle-cap-glasses-wearing nerd next door --now grown up into the kind of man she'd love to snuggle with on this cold winter night...and he’s offered her his room in Sugar’s house.

Eric can’t believe Spice has returned. He’d given up hope of ever seeing her again, let alone having her stare at him as if he’s sex on a stick. But now that all of his fantasies for them are coming true, reality rears her ugly head and Eric must tell Spice his intimate secret; he’s actually an Alpha werewolf looking for his mate and he thinks he’s found her.


You live in the Green Mountains of Vermont, which are gorgeous—year round. How does your personal geographic setting influence the settings in your books? 

I live vicariously through my characters. They get to go places I’ve dreamed of going like Budapest, Rio, and Chicago. I do have a story I’m drafting that will take place in Vermont and have been collecting data for it. I’m really excited about writing this story!

Do you prefer Alpha or Beta heroes in your romances, and why? 

I prefer Alpha heroes both in writing and reading, the edger the better. They make the story more interesting and you can’t always guess what they will do next. In my book, THE ALPHA, my hero is learning what it is to be alpha so he has some beta in him at first.

What were your early influences in writing? 

I actually wrote an article posted on my website thanking all those specific authors who influenced and how. But the ones that come to mind right away are Larry Niven, CJ Cherryh, and Anne McCaffery.

What are the addresses of your websites and blogs?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Interview with D.P. LYLE

You’ve written thrillers and non-fiction “how-to” books for writers, along with other things such as essays, articles, and a regular column in MWA’s The Third Degree. You’re also a practicing physician. Share with us how your “day job” prepared you for the world of writing and publishing, and how the technical writing feeds your fiction.

I’ve practiced cardiology in Orange County, California for over 30 years. Since I write nonfiction books on medicine, forensics, and fiction in the medical thriller genre, my day job has obviously impacted my writing. Most of my nonfiction books deal with forensic science and though I was never trained in that I was able to self educate myself in the field. Understanding forensic science was not difficult simply because the vocabulary and the scientific principles behind it are virtually identical to those found in medical science. It is simply looking at the science from a different angle. All forensics means is “of the law.” Forensic science is the science of law enforcement. Anatomy, chemistry, biology, physics, all come into play in both forensic and medical science.

You consult with writers and other professionals concerning forensics and medical issues. What prompted you to engage in this activity and how does it work? 

I answer questions for writers if they have some aspect of their story that involves medical or forensic issues. I try to give them the science behind their question, explained the science in simple terms, and hopefully, offer them some suggestions for how to use it in their story. I’ve been doing this for a number of years and right now have over 4000 questions from writers on my computer. Two of my books, Murder & Mayhem and Forensics & Fiction, are compilations of some of the best questions I received from writers over the years. There are links on both my website and my blog where writers can submit questions. I do have certain criteria that must be met before I will answer a question but these are spelled out on my website.

I have also worked with the writers of several TV shows over the years, again helping them with the scientific issues in their stories. I’ve worked with writers of shows such as CSI: Miami, Law & Order, Monk, House, Cold Case, and others. Recently I’ve been working with Matt Witten, one of the writers for a new TV series titled The Glades that will come to the TNT Network in August. I’m looking forward to that one.

In addition to your website, you also host The Writer’s Forensics Blog and Facebook and Twitter pages. What are your thoughts about online marketing and promotion? 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, marketing is a big part of a writer’s career. It’s not always the fun part but it is a necessary part. You must get your name out there in front of the public and other writers. Of course, writing a good book is essential but you also must be front and center. I find that things like Facebook and Twitter can help with that but more importantly I think a good webpage, and if you have the time, an interesting blog helps even more. We live in a high-speed media age and staying in contact with your readers is very important.

Tell us about the Crime Lab Project. 

The Crime Lab Project is the brainchild of Jan Burke. She created it and is the driving force behind it. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the problems that plague the modern-day crime lab. The major one being funding. Virtually every lab in the country is underfunded, understaffed, and has a backlog of work to do. Jan has been working very hard to rectify this problem for the simple reason that justice delayed is often justice denied. The faster and more efficiently crime labs can do their job the better off everyone is. There is a link to the CLP on my website.

As all writers know, the process of writing and publishing is not easy and it seldom generates overnight success. First, what is your definition of “success” from the perspective of a writer, and what are the two major things a writer must do to achieve it? 

My definition of success happened yesterday around noon. I finished the first draft of my next novel. The first draft is always the hard part. For me, rewriting is the fun stuff. Any time you finish the heavy lifting on a project, you should consider yourself successful because most of the work is now done.

I think a writer can look at success from many angles. One would be the self-satisfaction of completing a project or a novel. All writers know exactly how hard this is and reaching the finish line is success in anybody’s book. Another important measure of success would be getting a book published. This is not an easy task. There are many roadblocks along the way. Obviously, the first step is to write a good book but after that you are at the mercy of the system. You must find an agent and then an editor that likes your work and is willing to spend the money to put it in print. And of course, there’s always luck involved here. Another measure of success would be reaching the New York Times bestseller list. That would be great but is realistically not going to happen for most writers. Again, you have to write a good book, it must catch the public’s attention, and it must sells tens of thousands of copies. The last measure of success would be the ability to make a living from your writing. Few writers achieve this but that is probably every writer’s ultimate goal.

If you could spend 24 hours with any person in the world (past, present, or future), who would it be—and why? 

That’s an easy one. Leonardo da Vinci. Hands-down. Though there had been many incredibly talented people and incredibly interesting people on this planet, he is a cut above everyone else. Simply look at his accomplishments. An artist, inventor, scientist, and the epitome of the Renaissance man. I remember seeing the Windsor Castle collection of his anatomical drawings when they were on tour many years ago. Stunning. To look at those pages and to think that Leonardo himself put the pen to the paper was overwhelming. Though we now know some of his anatomical concepts were erroneous, for me, that did not change the power of the knowledge, investigative research, and artistry that he put into these drawings. His scientific inventions and his understanding of scientific principles were far beyond any of his contemporaries and, indeed, beyond the abilities of those that followed him for several centuries. He was just that far ahead of everyone else. I would absolutely love to sit down and break bread with him. 

Tell us about your latest book. 

My latest thriller is titled Stress Fracture. It is the first in a new series starring forensic and criminal behavior expert Dub Walker. It’s set in the South and takes advantage of that location for much of its storyline. The story deals with PTSD and its complications and treatment and how things can go completely sideways. In this story, a series of brutal murders take place in and around the city of Huntsville, Alabama. The murders are on the one hand carefully planned and executed while on the other hand seem brutal and completely out of control. Dub is brought to the case to determine what type of individual might act in this fashion and to help with tracking down the killer. The second book in the series is titled Hot Lights, Cold Steel and deals with robotic surgery. It will be out in 2011. As I mentioned earlier, I just finished the first draft of the third in the series.

What are the addresses of your websites and blogs?

My website is called The Writers Medical and Forensics Lab and can be found at:

My blog is called The Writers Forensics Blog and it can be found at:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Interview with DOROTHY HOWELL

Dorothy Howell/Judith Stacy is a multi-published author in more than one genre.  Read on to learn more about this fascinating, and productive, woman.

You’ve published many novels and have amassed a readership in two genres. Tell us about the challenges and rewards of writing in two separate genres.

The two genres I write in are historical romances under the pen name Judith Stacy, and contemporary mysteries under the name Dorothy Howell.

At first glance, they seem very different, yet both have elements I like to write – and read about. I love the emotional involvement with the characters and, of course, a happy ending. I get both of those with my romances and the mystery series.

One of the things I won’t write about – and don’t like to read – is graphic violence. I don’t like those pictures in my head. Even though someone is always murdered in my mystery series, the crime always takes place off stage.

Tell us about your most recent book: its title, release date, where we can buy it, and a short blurb.

SHOULDER BAGS AND SHOOTINGS, is the third book in my Haley Randolph fashion sleuth mystery series. It was released in July in hardcover from Kensington, and is available online, in chain and independent bookstores, and in e-book formats.

This book is the follow up to PURSES AND POISON and HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE, which launched the series. Both are now available in paperback.

In Haley’s latest adventure she’s in hot pursuit of the season’s latest and greatest handbag when her purse party rival turns up dead in the trunk of her boyfriend’s grandmother’s Mercedes.

What’s your take on the eternal conundrum of plot versus character being the most important element of a novel?

In my writing and in the books I enjoy reading, it all comes down to character. I believe that’s what brings readers back to an author, particularly when it’s a series. We just HAVE to know what the character is up to now, what kind of trouble they’ll get into and how they will get out.

Your bio indicates that publication of your first novel didn’t occur immediately after completing it. Tell us about that process: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

My first book, a historical romance, took years to complete. Not because it was long or complicated, but because I’d find myself overwhelmed with self-doubt. Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who encouraged me to finish the book.

The manuscript was rejected by nine publishers. Each one was heartbreaking. I’ve since learned that a measly nine rejections is nothing! My books have been rejected well over 100 times since then.

Seven long years passed before I sold my second book, thanks to a critique session with an editor at a writer’s conference. I got an agent at the same time and eventually found my way to Harlequin Historicals where I sold 20 more romances.

My attempt at writing mysteries went much smoother, thankfully. I got a new agent right away and he sold the 3-book series in only four short days. Kensington brought it out in hardcover – my first! – and just renewed the series for three more books.

With publishing credits of a couple dozen novels under your belt, have you settled into a writing routing? Do you write every day? Do you produce so many words or pages a day?

Years ago when I quit my “real” job and started writing full time, I wrote like a crazy woman. I was so thrilled to devote myself to it! But I soon learned that what I’d thought was being focused and goal oriented turned out to be compulsive and obsessive. So for my own sanity – and the safety of others – I adopted a set writing schedule.

I write four or five hours a day, five days a week, weekends and holidays off. At this pace, I can write approximately 10 pages per day.

Do you have any special promotions going for the release of you newest book?

With the launch of every new book in the Haley Randolph series, I have a contest where I give away a gorgeous designer handbag. The winner is drawn at random from entries received on my Web site.

What are the names of your websites and blogs?

My romance site is
For mysteries go to
I’m also have a Facebook fan page at Dorothy Howell Novels.