Friday, December 31, 2010

Dishing it up with Karen Dionne.

Happy New Years Eve! I’m jazzed to have Karen Dionne on my blog today.

Karen Dionne is the internationally published author of Freezing Point, a science thriller nominated by RT Book Reviews as Best First Mystery of 2008. A second environmental thriller, Boiling Point, is forthcoming December 28, 2010. Karen is cofounder of the online writers community Backspace (, and organizes the Backspace Writers Conferences held in New York City every year. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the International Thriller Writers, where she serves on the Board of Directors as Vice President, Technology, and as Managing Editor of ITW's monthly publication, The Big Thrill.

JET: Thanks for hanging with us for a bit. Your second novel, Boiling Point came out this week, can you tell us a little about the book?

Karen: Boiling Point is an environmental thriller in which two microbiologists on field assignment in Northern Patagonia, Chile discover what appears to be a simple case of illegal dumping. But deliberately ruining the earth is never simple, and before they know it, they’re caught up in a race to save not only the planet, but their own lives.

I got the idea for Boiling Point when I read an article, “10 Wacky Ways to Save the Planet,” about using geoengineering to counteract the effects of global warming. One of the suggestions the article put forth involves seeding the atmosphere with sulfur dioxide particles to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption.

The idea that someone would take it upon themselves to deliberately and permanently alter earth’s atmosphere struck me as an act of hubris worthy of the most megalomaniacal thriller villain. I’d recently seen an incredible photo of the Chaitén volcano eruption: billowing red and purple clouds shot through with lightning against a black sky that was absolutely amazing, so that became the setting for the book.

Then I traveled to Chaitén volcano for research. I stayed in the town at the base of the volcano, even though Chaitén town was evacuated and without electricity or running water, since it was ruined by a lahar during the initial eruption – a fast-moving flow of mud and ash that choked the river and buried the town. I also hiked to within one mile of the new lava dome, where I saw steam vents, heard explosions coming from the caldera, and felt a small earthquake. It was an amazing and awe-inspiring trip which definitely informs the novel.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Karen: I think the most challenging aspect of publishing has been learning to accept that the whole process takes so long. When you’re with a major publisher as I am, each step, from getting feedback from your editor, to seeing the cover art, to getting copyedits, then page proofs, ARCs, and finally your author’s copies and seeing the book in the bookstores, takes months. For both books, from the day the novel sold to the day the novel hit the shelves was nearly two years. I’m not naturally a patient person!

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Karen: Oh, without a doubt, it was getting the news that we had an offer from Berkley for my first novel, Freezing Point. I happened to be in a bookstore when my agent called – how perfect is that? My editor’s purchasing Boiling Point was also exciting, there’s nothing like that first time.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Karen: The craziest thing I’ve done for research was definitely traveling 7,000 miles to check out an active volcano. At the time I got the idea for the book, I didn’t know anything about volcanoes or Chile, and I don’t speak ten words of Spanish. I had only a few weeks to clear my desk and set up the trip, and I remember thinking the night before I left, “Am I nuts? Who do I think I am, a character in a novel?” But it all worked out fine.

As for the most interesting fact – before I researched the book, I didn’t realize that in the Southern Hemisphere, the moon is upside down. How cool is that?

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Karen: I have two. First, it’s important that writers who are still struggling to break in understand that writers are not in competition with one another. The more books that are sold, the stronger the industry becomes, and we all reap the benefits. Every time a reader buys a book by a bestselling thriller author, they’re also helping me, because they’re helping to create a market for the kind of books I write. So don’t ever be jealous of another author’s success. There’s room at the table for both of you.

The second is: Write the right book. It takes a year or more to write a novel. Don’t settle for a good story idea, or an excellent story idea, or even a great one. Write an AMAZING novel – the kind that generates multiple agent offers, and has publishers falling all over themselves in their rush to purchase. It’s not as impossible as it sounds; at the Backspace forums, I see first-time authors hit this sweet spot over and over again. If none of your novel ideas have that blow-’em-out-of-the-water wow factor, don’t write one until it does. Stretch. Reach. Don’t settle.

JET: Great advice! 

All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with:

JET: Paper or Plastic?

Karen: Paper! My next novel, Breaking Point, is set in an area of slack winds and currents between California and Hawaii called the North Pacific Garbage Dump where literally tons of plastic debris have been accumulating for decades. Once you begin to understand the scope of the problem, you can’t ever look at a piece of plastic the same way.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Karen: Steak! Medium rare. Yum! Tofu, not so much.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Karen: Beach, then mountains, then desert, then anywhere. If I could live forever, eventually, I’d live every place on earth.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Karen: Rock. I’m a child of the 60s.

JET: Leather or Lace?

Karen: Leather.

JET: Angels or Demons?

Karen: I always root for the good guys.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Karen: Paper. I have an e-reader, but still find myself reaching first for a print book.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Karen: Silent Film Classics.

JET: Spring or Fall?

Karen: Fall.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Karen: Coffee!

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Karen: While I’m waiting to hear from my editor about that third Point book (and waiting, and waiting – see my answer to publishing’s greatest challenges), I’m working on the first book in a science thriller trilogy for young adults. My adult novels all feature scientists as the main characters, and the protagonists in the young adult series are the children of scientists, so it’s a natural progression for me. I’m really enjoying the new story. Writing in a teenager’s voice is fun!

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Karen Dionne and her work at her website:

 Next week, I'll be highlighting the January releases for my Backspace brethren. 

Until then, have a safe and happy New Year's Eve! 


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jenny Craig wek 16

Dropped a half pound but didn't have the opportunity to measure myself though - not with the surgery.  We'll see how I fare next week after no exercise and a week of R&R. 

I'm hoping the surgery doesn't reverse the progress I've made. Although it is apt to have some affect due to the lack of exercise.  After next week - I'll be starting physical therapy, so that will help me get back on the physical fitness wagon.

How did you all do during the holidays?

Until next week...


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas All!!!

Just a quick note to say Merry Christmas to everyone. 

I'm a bit under the weather from shoulder surgery, so this will be short and sweet.  

Tonight is the traditional watching of It's A Wonderful Life with my sister and her family.  Man do I love this movie!

Anyone have special Christmas traditions they'd like to share?

Swing in next Friday when I have author and Backspace co-creator Karen Dionne!

For now, have a Merry Christmas and I hope Santa is good to y'all!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jenny Craig week 15

Another half pound gone and I'm so jazzed about that.  Especially since I went out to eat twice during the week. 

Next week is going to be challenging and I may not be in the condition to post anything on the 29th because I'm having surgery just before Christmas on my shoulder. As a matter of fact - the day this is posted is surgery day.  Ugh. 

I'm hoping this will not throw me completely out of wack with my diet plans - but we'll see. 

Anyhow,  wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Dishing it up with Elizabeth Loraine

Today I have the pleasure of having Elizabeth Loraine, author of the Royal Blood Chronicles on my blog.

JET: Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

Elizabeth: Book Three The Dark Prince follows Katrina and the Five to the New World on their continuing quest to protect the peaceful races of the world including humans. It’s another wild ride as they travel across the continent to choose locations for new vampire clans in this new land. They encounter new allies and enemies along the way and are stalked by an evil presence: The Dark Prince the son of the Queen of the underworlds son who wants Katrina, no matter what the cost.

Cain the Quest is book four in my series Royal Blood Chronicles. Cain is a character that I introduced in book three: The Dark Prince. I just thought he was so interesting that I wanted to know more about him myself. Cain is a vampire of royal blood like the others except he has lived his entire life in the underworld kingdom of Althar. His Father, the Count Marcelle DeCountelay betrayed the templar knights who’s surviving members are still hunting them today. His mother Daniella is also the mother of Damien, Katrina’s love interest in the series. This book follows Cain on his journey of redemption as he tries desperately to redeem himself and join his sister and his half brother to help the Five Protectors. Will he succeed?

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Elizabeth: Writing is just the beginning. The hardest part is the marketing and promotion. Getting people to read the books, but I am doing as much as I can because I believe in them and know people will fall in love with Katrina if they will just give her a chance.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Elizabeth: Finding out that people do like the series and want to read more. That is great fun.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Elizabeth: I loved Hans Christian Andersen as a child and later of course Anne Rice. But I loved reading about history and it was a big influence in writing these books.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Elizabeth: After reading so many modern teen books out there and finding that there just wasn’t anything new. I thought I could fill that niche with strong female characters and a new take on the vampire legend.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Elizabeth: I was doing research on the templar Knights and found that they some had fled to Scotland to fight with Robert the Bruce of Braveheart fame. Robert the Bruce’s lineage is the royal house of Spencer as in Diana Spencer (Princess Diana) and a relative of Christopher Columbus! You may read more about this in another book!

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Elizabeth: Each one is like your children making it hard to choose. I think the one that I am working on at the moment is always my favorite. Katrina of course is close to my heart because it is the first one and she rocks!

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Elizabeth: Find your niche and don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice and don’t take no, or you can’t, for an answer.

JET: : All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

Elizabeth: Plastic

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Elizabeth: Steak, definitely!

JET: : Beach or Mountains?

Elizabeth: Mountains

JET: : Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Elizabeth: Rock

JET: Classics or Modern?

Elizabeth: Classic

JET: : Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Elizabeth: Cheesy B horror.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

Elizabeth: Demons

JET: Paper or Digital?

Elizabeth: Paper

JET: Salty or Sweet?

Elizabeth: Salty

JET: : Coffee or Tea?

Elizabeth: Coke Zero

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Elizabeth: Thanks for asking, Book four Cain the Quest is being edited so I am on to Book Five! Maybe I could come back and talk about that next spring!

I’d love to have you back next spring Elizabeth! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Elizabeth Loraine and her work on her website:     Her books can be found HERE on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jenny Craig Week 14

I lost a half pound this week - even with going off plan twice!   Because of this, I'm feeling more confident that I can sustain this when I go back to normal food and not the prepackaged Jenny Craig food.  Next week looks to be the same with dinner out on Saturday and a luncheon with my department on Tuesday.  But I have a plan on how to approach both these outings without feeling like all I can have is a salad. 

My measurements are looking fantastic too. 

All in all, I'm very happy with the results and I'm beyond the halfway point - which is a stellar position to be in and I'm not worried at all about the holidays. 

So with that - I'm going to get back to the business of writing. 

Hope you reach your goals this holiday season!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Dishing it up with Jason Halstead...

Hi folks, Today I have the pleasure of having fellow eXcessica author Jason Halstead on my blog.

JET: I understand you have a release with eXcessica this month, can you tell us a little about the book?

Jason: The book is called Human Nature, which is ironic because it’s science fiction and there’s more than just humans in it. The American culture has a history of movies and books where humanity is on the defensive and overcomes long odds, especially in the science fiction genre. Well what if, I wondered many years ago while watching “Independence Day,” the aliens came and righteously kicked our butts?

A year later, after the aliens came and left less than 10% of the Earth’s population behind, the survivors are trying to recover and reform civilization from the ruins. Not only are they squabbling with each other but they also have common enemies in the many alien species that were left behind. In the midst of all this, a young woman with nothing left to lose has to come to terms with her own humanity. Rediscovering that is not only the key to her own survival, but the only chance the band of vagabonds she’s befriended has remaining.

JET: Your writing crosses several genres from erotica to fantasy, which one is your favorite to write and why?

Jason: Interesting that you chose Erotica and Fantasy as the boundaries. I used to write Erotica, but I grew disillusioned with it. Oh, the people who read it enjoyed it and praised me for it, but most of them were not after full-fledged plots and stories. I’ve even counseled some younger writers as they struggled to find their voice and almost without exception I encourage them to downgrade or get rid of the sex unless it advances the story or the character(s) in some way. With that said I still have plenty of adult situations in what I write, but I prefer sensual to visceral.

I don’t like the thought of being hidebound by a genre either. A long time ago, I wrote fantasy exclusively. These days most of my stuff has a science fiction flavor, but I’ve got another book coming out with Excessica in March of 2011 that is romance. My fantasy roots cannot be escaped either, as my Dark Earth universe blends fiction with fantasy and, in several novels I have in the works, a healthy dose of science fiction as well.

It was such a simple question too, why did I have to do this to you? The long awaited answer is I don’t have a favorite genre. I write about characters, not genres. I like possibilities and engineering situations that people can enjoy and identify with. Whether that takes place on a hostile alien world or while forced to lay down on the floor of a bank in the wild west while it’s being robbed is irrelevant to me.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Jason: Would I get in trouble if I said answering these questions? Just kidding, of course, this is fun.

The most challenging part of getting published was getting published. Truthfully, I haven’t put in the time and effort to deserve it. I don’t have hundreds of even dozens of rejection letters. I have a couple handfuls, between publishers and agents, so don’t think I escaped the wrath of the publishing industry. Still, I was fortunate in finding Excessica while doing research and thinking, “Wait a minute, if that story was published through them, why the hell can’t mine be?” And so I tried one out. I was rejected! To Excessica’s credit it was a shorter story, but I still think it was a fine piece of work. My finest piece of erotica, in fact. Go figure.

So I tried again with something I really enjoyed but felt certain stood no chance of being accepted. It was a fantasy novel with a few touches of science fiction, but twisted purely into a fantasy setting. It was fun for people interested in that niche, but I wasn’t sure there were more than a dozen people outside of myself who enjoyed said niche. It barely even had a touché of erotica in it, and Excessica seems to flourish on such titles. I stood no chance and resigned myself to forget about it while I waited the obligatory 4 – 8 weeks. Barely over a week later I received email that it was accepted.

Moral of the story? Beats the heck out of me – I’m still trying to figure it out! That was six books ago and I still don’t know why it was accepted – it just doesn’t seem economically viable. Many since then I think deserved it though, so I take my hat off to Excessica for taking a chance on me.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Jason: Aside from reading that initial acceptance letter, I’d have to say the most lasting moment for me had to be my first editing experience. It was not enjoyable, at least not at first, but it was traumatic. That same infamous first book and a certain editor who is sitting on the other side of the table. She raked me through the coals and called me everything except a heterosexual white man. But she did it with an angry style that brought out a writing style in me I didn’t know I had. The end result was something I was proud of, prouder than the original, and I learned a lot in the process. In fact, thanks to a couple of abusive sessions with her now I recently had a book accepted that required no editing aside from my own review.

JET: LOL – you make me out to be some kind of editing dominatrix - not sure whether to be honored or insulted *wink-wink*. Actually, Jason and I have a great writer/editor relationship and I am honored to be a part of his Voidhawk legacy.

Now back to the interview... Can you tell me which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Jason: There are too many to name off, but I’ll see if I can hit the highlights that I remember. Tolkien, of course, but he wasn’t my favorite. Terry Brooks was an inspiration because he started out very young. Piers Anthony amused and captivated me with his Xanth novels. There were so many others (Lloyd Alexander, R.A. Salvatore, etc.) but I think my favorite author growing up had to be Raymond E. Feist. That man can spin a tale.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Jason: I’ve always wanted to take the plunge, I just never knew how. My mother still has things I wrote as a child. About seven or eight years ago I underwent a personal change – no, I didn’t become transgendered – and decided to take control of my life again. I went back to school, became a power lifter, and quickly learned that if I put my mind to it I could accomplish just about anything.

I often take a slow and methodical approach to accomplishing my goals, doing plenty of research and thinking my options through thoroughly to make sure I’m optimizing my chances of success. I think that may be why I didn’t use the shotgun approach to getting published but instead researched my targets and developed a strategy to approach them.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Jason: The thing that is great about fantasy and science fiction is that I get to make stuff up! Now with that said I’ve still done plenty of research, but generally I consult the all knowing Oracle of Google. Not very exciting, but the things I look up seldom are (medical conditions / symptoms, specifications on firearms, etc.). It also helps that I’ve lived a fairly diverse life and I have a personal treasure trove of useless trivia in my head. That helps with perspective and allowing me to dabble in many areas and skill sets.

But we all have something surprising, cool, or disturbing that we’ve stumbled across. For me it involved researching the myostatin gene and myostatin inhibitors for physical development. Cool stuff, to be sure, but even cooler is the living breed of cows that already exemplify this. Check out the Belgian Blue via your favorite search engine to see what I’m talking about.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Jason: Whichever one I’m working on at the moment. I can finish something and move on to the next one, then down the road go back to edit the first and fall in love with it all over again. Or sometimes my mind works in reverse. Just last night I was cooling down after working out and a bunch of great ideas rushed into my head for my next book in my Dark Earth setting.

It’s not a setting that captivates me, it’s the characters. Call it my God complex but I just love screwing with my characters and seeing what they can overcome. So far so good, nobody’s failed to recover and become a better fictional person because of it. Then again that just pushes me to work them harder.

That’s nothing, you should see what I do to the people I train in the gym…

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Jason: Lots of people encourage people to write for x amount of time every day or crank out y many words in a day. I’ve tried the former, on the written advice of R.A. Heinlein, but not the latter. In either case, I don’t see the point. If it’s there for you to write, then write it. If it’s not, don’t force the issue and crank out pure crap. Sure, I’ve made myself focus and come up with something when I knew I needed to do just that, but generally after a few minutes of corralling my brain into the right area it takes off on its own.

I think the best advice is to read as much as you can and send feedback to people. Critiquing other people’s work helps you develop the tools needed to view your own work with perspective. Along those lines try to butter up people to read your work as well and offer critiques. Take nothing personally, that’s a key component to improving. Yes, what we write is very personal to us but sometimes it’s horrible and needs an overhaul or worse, a funeral pyre. Remember that being successful as a writer requires an audience. Not listening to that audience and giving them something they like will make it even harder to get into the business.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

Jason: Why not canvas or burlap? They make those for carrying stuff. Reusable, environmentally friendly, and less prone to ripping when 10 pounds of crap is shoved in a 5 pound bag.

But plastic is cheaper and easier, and less prone to ripping often. Bad news for drinking and storing food in thanks to the things that leech out of it and into the food or drink, but we often don’t have a choice.

Do I have a preference? Indeed I do, and it’s to move on to the next question…

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Jason: Steak. I pick up heavy things for fun and meat is a cornerstone of a high protein diet for a weight lifter. The fact that it’s darn tasty doesn’t hurt either. As for tofu, that’s just all kinds of bad for anybody, but especially those of us who are proud of our testicles.

Hormonal concerns aside, eating meat and learning to cook it is postulated to be what allowed us to become intelligent, civilized, and essentially human. Granted, many news headings from day to day make me doubt the intelligent and civilized claims, but that’s me being flippant. A recent article in the BBC shows research and theories done by many scientists about meat and cooking, in all its glory.

Vegetarians need not take offense to this - it doesn’t mean their brains are shrinking or that they are spending their entire day foraging for food. Our society has managed to create all sorts of calorically dense non-meat based foods. Doughnuts or French fries, for example.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Jason: Right now I live in Utah, surrounded by mountains. It’s pretty and offers all sorts of great hiking and other wilderness adventures. But, with that said, I enjoy the beach as well. In fact I had to sell my boat when I moved out here due to lack of many decent bodies of navigable water.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Jason: Country these days is not the country I grew up being forced to listen to by my parents. I love my parents, don’t get me wrong, but I grew up hating that stuff (with the caveat of John Denver and some bluegrass - go figure). So rock and roll is where my heart is, and while there is some good stuff these days the 80’s will live forever.

JET: Classics or Modern?

Jason: I’m not sure. I enjoy both to an extent. It would help if I could narrow this down to a topic though. For example, 9 times out of 10 I think black and white photography is a waste of time. We have the technology to do color, why not use it?

Other classics will live on forever (e.g. The Princess Bride or even The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Classic Dukes of Hazard versus the recent remake? I’m not sure - I had trouble watching the movie I kept being distracted by Jessica Simpson. (interesting bit of trivia, my first pet was a wonderful puppy that earned the name Daisy in honor of the original series).

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Jason: I usually avoid both, but on rare occasions I will go for the B movies out of a desire to be amused by the sheer badness of it. As for silent films - you’d have to tie me down, drug me, and hold a gun to my head (not necessarily in that order) in order to make me watch one.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

Jason: Zombies are cliché. Mindless and slow, they’re not good for much of anything except overwhelming with sheer numbers. Demons, on the other hand, possess a talent for wickedness and cunning that makes them wonderfully sadistic. Not to mention their otherworldly qualities that make it very difficult to harm or banish them. And don’t get me started on the wonders of the succubus…

JET: Paper or Digital?

Jason: Digital. My day job is that of an IT professional. I build my own websites, write my own programs, plan and administer my own networks and domains. Paper is handy occasionally, such as during a power outage.

Given a choice between an ebook or a print version I’ve recently switched over to preferring ebooks. I have an e-reader (iPad - which in my opinion is overpriced and serves very little use outside of being an e-reader or something to watch movies on) and my recent book purchases have taken place via that. Far more convenient than going to a book store or even ordering one online and waiting for it to ship.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

Jason: I’d love to say I prefer healthy. I can say that, and I do. But, given the recent Halloween and the fact that my kids raked in a good sized bucket of loot during their wanderings I have to be honest. I do great until I walk by that damn bucket sitting on the counter. Once I see it I lean over and poke around, looking for something tasty and sweet.

Another answer that satisfies both cravings is a bowl containing a mixture of salted peanuts and candy corn. Try it, you’ll be hooked.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Jason: Coffee, though only occasionally. I had a bad experience with some green tea a few years back. I don’t dare touch the stuff since. It wasn’t even the tea’s fault but the powers of association are mighty.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Jason: Working on a freebie, actually. It’s a shorter story (15,000 - 20,000 words) that I plan to make available for anyone interested. It’s taking place in my Dark Earth universe and while it is not necessary or even attached to any of the existing storylines, it does tie some things together and explain some behind the scenes details that people might find interesting.

Of course one of the real reason I’m writing it is to try and pull in some interest to my books and, in particular, the Dark Earth setting. The other reason is because I thought the premise was a neat idea - a man haunted by his past in an unusual way. That and I felt I owed it to my other characters to tie this in and help them have some closure in their own fictional lives.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Jason Halstead and his work at the following places:,,,

Jason Halstead works by day as an IT Professional, developer, and database administrator. From time to time he puts on a few other hats as well.

In his spare time Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, writing, and lifting weights. He enjoys reading and responding to fan mail as well, so if you liked any of his books, don't be shy!

Until next time…


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jenny Craig Week 13

The week from hell - truly.  I started off just fine - but then on Tuesday - things started going awry with the family and that threw my schedule completely off - so from Tuesday on - I didn't exercise and on Thursday, I had a little fender bender which threw my back out - so that kind of screwed up my physical fitness plans Thursday and Friday. 

What did all that amount to on the scale? 

No loss. 

But I did lose a quarter inch on the measurement side.  So - not a total loss. 

I'm hoping this week will be much better.  I think the things come in threes curse is done (daughter sick on top of the wisdom teeth deal,  son twisted his wrist in Jukido and then the accident) - so my plan is to get back on track this week and hopefully see scale results.  :) 

Cheers to all those who have chosen to do something about their weight and I hope my written journey gives you a little boost. 

Until next week...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ho ho ho - it's December!

December is here.


Christmas time.

I love the holidays but the time flies by so quick that I don’t have time to really sit back and enjoy as much as I’d like to. But hey – that’s life – right?

Anyhow – it’s the first Friday of the month, so it’s time to highlight a few new releases from my Backspace brethren that would be great stocking stuffers!

Boyd Morrison – Rouge Wave – November 30 -In this thrilling novel from THE ARK's Boyd Morrison, a massive explosion rocks the uninhabited central Pacific and launches a series of mega-tsunamis toward Hawaii. In one hour, Honolulu will cease to exist. In that same instant, Kai Tanaka, the director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, begins a desperate race to save the lives of a million people, including his wife and daughter.

Lesley Livingston – Tempestuous – December 21 - "I don't love Sonny Flannery."

That's the lie Kelley Winslow told to protect the boy she loves from a power he doesn't know he possesses. Devastated, Sonny retreats—to a haven for Lost Fae that's hidden deep underneath New York City.

But Kelley's not about to let things end in heartbreak. To get Sonny back, she's got to find out who's after his magick—and how to use her own. She's got to uncover who's recruiting Janus Guards to murderously hunt innocent Faerie. She's got to help rebuild the shattered theater company she called family. And she's got to do it all without getting dangerously distracted by the Fennrys Wolf, whose legendary heart of stone seems to melt whenever he's around Kelley.

The intrigue and romance that began with Wondrous strange and Darklight come to a stormy head in Tempestuous, the breathtaking conclusion to Lesley Livingston's ravishing urban Faerie trilogy.

Karen Dionne – Boiling Point – December 28 Chaiten, a long-dormant volcano in Chile, fuses the destinies of two microbiologists, a celebrity scientist, and a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who waits for the one sign that his diabolical plan is about to be put into motion. For the Earth has become a pawn in the biggest gamble ever played with humanity's future-and Chaiten is about to blow.

Karen Abbott – American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee - December 28 America in the Roaring Twenties. Vaudeville was king. Talking pictures were only a distant flicker. Speakeasies beckoned beyond dimly lit doorways; money flowed fast and free. But then, almost overnight, the Great Depression leveled everything. When the dust settled, Americans were primed for a star who could distract them from grim reality and excite them in new, unexpected ways. Enter Gypsy Rose Lee, a strutting, bawdy, erudite stripper who possessed a preternatural gift for delivering exactly what America needed.

American Rose chronicles her story, as well as the story of the four scrappy and savvy showbiz brothers from New York City who would pave the way for Gypsy Rose Lee’s brand of burlesque. Modeling their shows after the glitzy, daring reviews staged in the theaters of Paris, the Minsky brothers relied on grit, determination, and a few tricks that fell just outside the law—and they would shape, and ultimately transform, the landscape of American entertainment.

With a supporting cast of such Jazz- and Depression-era heavyweights as Lucky Luciano, Harry Houdini, FDR, and Fanny Brice, Karen Abbott weaves a rich narrative of a woman who defied all odds to become a legend—and whose sensational tale of tragedy and triumph embodies the American Dream.

Allison Brennan – Love Me to Death – December 28 - Six years ago, Lucy Kincaid was attacked and nearly killed by an online predator. She survived. Her attacker did not. Now Lucy’s goal is to join the FBI and fight cyber-crime, but in the meantime, she’s volunteering with a victim’s rights group, surfing the Web undercover to lure sex offenders into the hands of the law. But when the predators she hunts start turning up as murder victims, the FBI takes a whole new interest in Lucy.

With her future and possibly even her freedom suddenly in jeopardy, Lucy discovers she’s a pawn in someone’s twisted plot to mete out vigilante justice. She joins forces with security expert and daredevil Sean Rogan, and together they track their elusive quarry from anonymous online chat rooms onto the mean streets of Washington, D.C. But someone else is shadowing them: A merciless stalker has his savage eye on Lucy. The only way for her to escape his brutality may be another fight to the death.

Darlene Franklin-Campbell – I Listened, Momma - A poignant and enduring story of a young woman’s struggle to maintain hope amidst desolation.

With characters so real they seem to be made of breath and bone, Campbell draws us into the nucleus of this Appalachian family as if we are relatives. We feel their heartaches and yearn for their healing as though our own happiness depends on theirs. This is Southern fiction at its finest.

— Sandra Kring, author The Book of Bright Ideas

Don’t forget to grab a couple of my releases this December as well. Survival Games and Mind Games – the first two in my Games Trilogy and in my FBI series , you’ ve got a choice of Dark Reckoning or Vengeance.

Happy Shopping!

Next week I’ve got another FIDO /Excessica author on board to dish it up with - Jason Halstead. Swing in and say hi if you get the chance!

Until next time.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jenny Craig Week 12

Awesome week - I dropped 2.5 pounds this week even with Thanksgiving as part of it!  Outstanding feeling to hit the halfway mark.  I did a little dance after I stepped on the scale and saw that magic number. 

I know I won't hit a loss of 5 pounds by the end of November, but I might come close with this week in the mix.  That is stellar.

I'm still battling with a bum shoulder so I can't do as much from a physical standpoint as I'd like, so my workouts are very concentrated on the lower body as opposed to full body workouts.  Still, I'm losing inches and that is a good thing.  As a matter of fact, I'm wearing pants today that I haven't gotten into in years.  I've dropped two sizes already. 

Perhaps size 6 or even size 4 is a real possibility when I reach my goal weight.  :) 

Anyhow - I would be completely jazzed to drop another 2.5 pounds this week - but I'd be happy with 1 to 1.5 pounds at this point.  Lots of running around scheduled this week and I'm looking forward to it. 

Until next time!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chris Ryan's Thanksgiving Prayer...

Thanksgiving and Christmas season is upon us and I figured I'd say a prayer of thanks. 

I'm thankful that Jessica is alive, even if she isn't with me.  I'm still a little sketchy about what really happened, but I'm alive and Frank's dead and  all's right with the world. 

I'm thankful Eric was too young to understand what a monster I really was otherwise I would have died in that concrete prison.  But in his eyes, I saved his mother, so he saved me, healed me with some serious mojo that I'm still carrying around today.  I can feel it in my bones, flowing through my veins like white lightning.   

I'm thankful I'm not rotting in some prison awaiting a death sentence.  If there were any justice in this world, that's where I'd be, but for some reason, the cops believed the ruse that I am indeed Christopher Aris and I had no knowledge of what my brothers were doing.  Thank God I was able to erase any proof of Chris's participation before I got out of there.  Now, I'm just waiting for that fiction to crumble. 

I'm thankful that everyone loved my brother enough for him to be named in all their wills.  When I took on his identity, I didn't imagine I'd be a richer than God.  My first act when the money was free and clear was to make sure the victim's families were compensated, including Jessica and Tom.  I know money can't erase my conscience, but it certainly helps me to think I'm trying to make amends for all the horror.

I'm thankful I kept the tapes of Jessica and I because without them, I wouldn't have lasted five years away from her. I would have sought her out before she had the chance to marry Tom.  I would have begged for her forgiveness and I would have done something I would live to regret. 

You see, I just want her to be happy.  I'd like to believe I'm the one that can make her happy - but I know that's just a ludicruous fantasy.  Unfortunately, I now have to break my silence, because if I don't she will be devistated. 

So please God, please don't let this be a mistake. 

To find out more about Chris Ryan, pick up MIND GAMES by J.E. Taylor at!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jenny Craig Week 11

Half a pound.  Not bad considering I was in New York at the beginning of the week and didn't follow the menu and it's "that" week for me, so I'm a wee bit bloated. 

On the down side, it doesn't look like I'm going to lose the 5 pounds I wanted to this month.  Don't think that will drop in a week, especially with Thanksgiving this week.  I might hit three, but five pounds seems a little out of reach.  I could probably do it if I starved myself -but that defeats the purpose here and I don't want to run that type of marathon.  It's a cheat to the body and soul. 

So I keep on plugging away at the last fifteen pounds.  Little by little it will come off.  I'm almost at the halfway point, so that will be a win when I hit the twelve and a half pounds.  My whole goal was twenty-five pounds and when I signed up, I thought it would be faster than this.  But when I look at the goal in comparison to my starting weight - I'm trying to lose close to one fifth of my weight. In that framework, that's a huge number.

I got through Halloween without breaking stride - but November has been a challenge and a bit of a plateau according to the scale - but not according to my measurments - so the story is bigger than just the scale.

For instance:
I've lost five inches in my chest, four inches in my waist, four inches in my stomach and five inches in my hips.

My clothing fits better and I feel much better than I had carrying that weight around on my little frame.

Anyway, you folks have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Catch you next week when we find out if Thanksgiving derailed my progress or not!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dishing it up with author E.J. Knapp...

Hi folks, welcome back to another interesting Friday. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing fellow Backspacer, E.J. Knapp. EJ entered the world of thriller writers with his début novel Stealing The Marbles, which came out on September 1st from Rebel e Publishers.

EJ was born during a thunderstorm in Detroit, Michigan, several years before the Motor City discovered fins. Raised in a working-class, blue-collar neighborhood, he morphed into the stereotypical hoodlum a teenager, growing up on the west side of Detroit, was expected to be. Dropping out of high school at sixteen, he hit the road in his 1960 Chevy and has, in one way or another, been rolling down that road ever since.

He has published numerous short stories in various on-line magazines. He is also the author of a nonfiction

work, The Great Golden Gate Bridge Trivia Book published by Chronicle Books in 1987.

JET: First of all, let me say thank you for joining me on my blog. Your first full-length thriller, Stealing the Marbles came out in September. Can you tell us a little about the book?

EJ KNAPP: Glad to be here, thanks for inviting me. The book revolves around the Parthenon Marbles, Greek antiquities stolen by Lord Elgin at the turn of the 19th century and shipped to England. The Greeks have been trying to get them back for close to two hundred years with no success. Danny Samsel, thief extraordinaire and the protagonist of the story, is exiled on the island of Kefalonia because of an earlier theft. Estranged from his lover, Kaz, and desperate to find a way to reconcile, he decides to steal the Marbles from the British Museum and return them to Greece, knowing he will need her help to pull it off.

JET: Was writing thrillers a conscious choice or was it just a natural affinity? Why do you think that is?

EJ KNAPP: Probably more a natural affinity. Though my tastes in reading spans the genre spectrum, I tend to read more thrillers than any other type of book. Over all, I prefer thrillers that are more character oriented than those that are primarily plot driven. As for why, I like the pace of the thriller, the inherent danger, the many obstacles to overcome and, in one that is character driven, the emotional turmoil the characters live through.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

EJ KNAPP: Oddly enough, the writing has been the easy part. It’s been the seeking-publication part and the promo part after publication that’s been the hardest for me. My horn is banged up and I don’t toot it very well in any case, so having to pump myself up in query letters and, now, in seeking reviews and interviews in an attempt to get the book buzz, it’s a bit like climbing a mountain with my hands and feet bound and an apple jammed in my mouth.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

EJ KNAPP: Initially, it was landing an agent. However, that turned into such a fiasco that it became my least favorite moment. Firing that dude was both the worst and near-favorite moment early on. The favorite moment by far was actually holding the printed book in my hand. I’m a staunch advocate of eBooks but there is something still quite magical about holding a paper book in your hand. I would say that was followed closely by its acceptance by Rebel e Publishers, the editing process with my editor Jayne Southern and seeing the cover, created by the genius Jacques Stenvert, for the first time.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

EJ KNAPP: Early on, it was Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein. I wrote a lot of really bad SciFi while stumbling my way through puberty. The greatest influence, though, was Kurt Vonnegut, who I discovered while in college. He not only influenced my writing, he gave me back my love of writing. Richard Brautigan would have to be listed as well.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

EJ KNAPP: Probably about the time I learned how to read. Reading took me out of the hostile environment my young self found himself in. In writing, I discovered that I could create whatever world I wanted, or needed, to travel to.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

EJ KNAPP: Back in the 80s, I wrote a non-fiction book on the Golden Gate Bridge for its 50th birthday. This was pre-internet so all the research for that book took place in the library. My friend Cindy Ford and I spent a lot of time in the San Francisco State library and, as it turned out, I’m allergic to book dust. I sneezed my way through several months of reading microfilm and dozens of boxes of Kleenex gathering the information for that book. As for the most interesting fact, there were many I found amusing in the GGB book the most interesting was learning that Lord Elgin did, in fact, steal the Marbles. There was no indication, that I found, that the Ottoman Empire actually gave the Marbles to Elgin, which is the prevailing belief.

JET: Of all the stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

EJ KNAPP: If we’re talking published short stories here, it would have to be a toss-up between The Dance and The Karaoke Singer, both of which can be read on my website.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

EJ KNAPP: Read. Read some more. Continue to read. Write, write, write. Read some more. Join a writer’s group or a good writer’s forum like Backspace. Get over your fear of putting your work out there. Learn to take criticism without it making you want to slit your wrists and then learn to take it with a grain of salt. Everyone’s a critic, not all of them are good critics. Pay extra attention to the writer/critics who’ve gained your admiration and respect.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

EJ KNAPP: Paper. Why waste what little oil we have left on plastic?

JET: Steak or Tofu?

EJ KNAPP: Steak, rare.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

EJ KNAPP: Love both but if I had to choose, it would be the beach, preferably a deserted one.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

EJ KNAPP: Rock-n-Roll.

JET: Classics or Modern?

EJ KNAPP: Modern.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

EJ KNAPP: Not much of a horror movie fan so Silent Film Classics would trump Cheesy B Rated Horror. If we’re talking books, now, horror would be the way I’d go.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

EJ KNAPP: Zombies. My Latin is rusty and all you need is a good Mossberg pump with a lot of shells to kill Zombies.

JET: Paper or Digital?

EJ KNAPP: Digital. My hand writing is so bad, even I can’t read it.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

EJ KNAPP: Love both but I’m definitely a sugar addict.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

EJ KNAPP: Coffee. Peet’s coffee if at all possible.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

EJ KNAPP: It’s called Meter Maids Eat Their Young/A Love Story’s End. It’s about a journalist who returns to his home town after a long absence and must deal with a breaking story that has the town on a powder keg edge while dealing with all the memories of his past. Murder, memories, mayhem and mangled meters plague him at every turn. I’m nearly finished and hope to have it in the wind mid next year. I’ve also started work on a story titled Bad Bucket and the Church of the Dung God. I think that one will be fun to work on.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about E.J, Knapp and his work at the following places:

Join me next week when I'll have an in-depth interview with none other than billionaire Chris Ryan. 

Until next time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jenny Craig Week 10

Bust of a week.

I got sick half way through the week and while I stuck to the menu - I lost a few days of exercise. Only one of my measurements dropped by a half inch - and it's really not the one I want to drop if you know what I mean. wink-wink.

Hoping next week will be better even though I have two days in New York City.  Hopefully I don't blow it too much.  :)

Anyhow - that's my report.  Hope you all are doing well on your diet strategy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Special Agent Steve Williams discusses his most recent case.

Hi all. It’s time to throw out convention and give my blog over to one of my characters for the day. I’m leaving you in the capable hands of my favorite G-man, Steve Williams.

Thanks Ms. Taylor.

Hi folks, I’m special agent Steve Williams and right now I’m working undercover on a pretty significant case in New York. I’ll put it this way, if I get caught, I’ll end up like the dozen or so prior undercover cops - dead in an alley way or at the bottom of the East River.

This guy is the biggest cocaine magistrate on the East Coast and I want to bring him down. The only problem – there’s a bigger fish the FBI wants to fry and I’ve got to get the goods before we bring Charlie Wisnowski in.

I know what you’re thinking.

Charlie Wisnowski?

What kind of “king-pin” name is that?

Not the usual name you’d associate with a cocaine lord – but Charlie is a ‘high-end’ distributor. He doesn’t sell his product on the street like a common thug. Nope, he’s much more inventive and selective, and much, much more dangerous.

He’s been doing this for fifteen years and thinks he’s above the law, untouchable.

My boss told me to watch my back because money could be a seductive bitch and he wasn’t kidding. The amount of money and blow Charlie throws around is insane.

Insane enough to make an honest man think twice.

Anyhow, on that note, I better get back to it.

Thanks for having me on your blog and let’s hope I’m around the next time you call on me.


If you have any questions for Steve, he'll be on and off all day.  
Next week, I have the pleasure of interviewing EJ Knapp, author of Stealing the Marbles. 
Until then,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jenny Craig - Week 9

Hi all -

No change in the weight this time, but I did still lose some inches.   Busy, busy, busy and now have to start thinking about the holidays. 

Now I'm off to writing.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Scavenger Hunt for $50 Amazon Gift Certificate.

Everyone likes to play games so I figured this month I'd do a scavenger hunt and the grand prize winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate and their choice of one of my books. 

In order to be entered in the contest for the gift certificate, you'll need to answer some questions and provide proof of purchase for one of my books or short stories. 

The contest rules and questions are on my website here:

Links to my books and short stories are also on my website or you can go to either of these places:

Novels in paperback or e-book:
Short story e-books:

You also have the opportunity to gain additional entries into the contest and those parameters are outlined on the Scavenger Hunt page of my website. 

The contest ends on November 30th and I will contact the winners via email on December 1st and deliver the Amazon Gift Card via email by the end of the first week of December - just in time for Christmas.

Happy Hunting!

Friday, November 5, 2010

First Friday!

Hey all –

It’s the first Friday in November and that means it’s time to highlight some of my Backspace brethren’s books as well as two of my own November releases. Remember – books are fantastic Christmas gifts!

So without further adieu…(in release date order):

Ian Barker – FALLEN STAR - November 1

FAMOUS: Celebrated. Acclaimed. Legendary. Illustrious. Popular. Notorious. Recognised. Renowned. Successful. Eminent. Prominent. Excellent. Having kudos. Being a star. The Fallen Boys were at their zenith when Zac’s luck ran out. How does the shock of being dumped from dazzling and conspicuous success into relative obscurity affect his fellow boy band members Karl, Ritchie and Leon? Accustomed to adulation, wall-to-wall glamour, sex and all the illusions of fame, the Boys find themselves in strange territory. No longer courted, with zero prospect of resurrecting the group, they find themselves facing harsh realities. Karl is driven to appear on chat shows and accept pantomime roles: all the P.R. exercises he previously spurned. Desperate for work he even auditions for a blue movie. Reluctantly, he participates in a TV reality series soon after he meets Lizzie Keating, daughter of an IRA bomber. Hormones and adrenalin surge as the challenges to their relationship surface: Karl’s father, ex-Army and implacable in his hatred for the Irish; Karl’s wandering eye; Lizzie’s refusal to play second fiddle to anyone. With gusto, humour and insight, Ian Barker entertains with this intertwined tale of discovering what is truly valuable in life.

Kim Stagliano – ALL I CAN HANDLE – I’m No Mother Teresa (A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism) – November 1

How one woman raises three daughters with autism, loses one at Disney World, stays married, has sex, bakes gluten-free, goes broke, and keeps her sense of humor. "Dr. Spock? Check. Penelope Ann Leach (remember her?)? Check. What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Check. I had a seven hundred dollar Bellini crib for God’s sake! I was perfect. And so was Mia when she was born . . ."

...and so begins Kim Stagliano’s electrifying and hilarious memoir of her family’s journey raising three daughters with autism. In these stories, Stagliano has joined the ranks of David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs with her amazing ability to lay everything on the table—from family, friends, and enemies to basement floods to birthdays to (possible) heroin addictions—eviscerating and celebrating the absurd. From her love of Howard Stern to her increasing activism in the autism community and exhaustive search for treatments that will help her daughters, she covers it all. Always outspoken, often touching, and sometimes heartbreaking, Kim Stagliano is a powerful new voice in comedic writing—her “Kimoir” (as she calls it) will be a must-read within the autism community and the literary world at large.

J.E. Taylor – VENGEANCE – November 1

Living large in New York City as a corporate lawyer for the most savvy drug lord on the East Coast, Special Agent Steve Williams carefully plots Charlie Wisnowski's downfall. His plans go to hell when his wife Jennifer survives an attack by a serial killer. With her life in jeopardy and his undercover guise threatening to unravel, he orders Charlie's arrest. But the sting goes woefully wrong and Steve becomes the target of a mafia assassin hired by the biggest crime boss in America. Escaping from the city, Steve and Jennifer settle back into their quiet life on the banks of Mirror Lake. Their peaceful existence shatters with a crippling loss and Jennifer's visions escalate, forecasting a brutal assault on their family. Armed with scant details from her dreams, Steve trudges through a litany of past connections, searching for the key to stop the course of fate. What he uncovers chills him to the core - a brother with a grudge, a serial killer and a mafia assassin are all on his trail. The hunt begins . . .

Caridad Ferrer – WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE – November 23 YA

A dancer driven to succeed.

A musical prodigy attempting to escape his past.

The summer they share.

And the moment it all goes wrong.

Dance is Soledad Reyes’s life. About to graduate from Miami’s Biscayne High School for the Performing Arts, she plans on spending her last summer at home teaching in a dance studio, saving money, and eventually auditioning for dance companies. That is, until fate intervenes in the form of fellow student Jonathan Crandall who has what sounds like an outrageous proposition: Forget teaching. Why not spend the summer performing in the intense environment of the competitive drum and bugle corps? The corps is going to be performing Carmen, and the opportunity to portray the character of the sultry gypsy proves too tempting for Soledad to pass up, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with Jonathan, who intrigues her in a way no boy ever has before.

But in an uncanny echo of the story they perform every evening, an unexpected competitor for Soledad's affections appears: Taz, a member of an all-star Spanish soccer team. One explosive encounter later Soledad finds not only her relationship with Jonathan threatened, but her entire future as a professional dancer.

J.E. Taylor – MIND GAMES – November 29

Chris Ryan doesn't understand why he's alive. By all accounts, he should have died in the prison he and his step-brother created. Dying screams and the ring of gunshots still haunt his dreams and to make matters worse, five years hasn't erased his passion for Jessica Connor. She left him bleeding on the cold concrete floor, escaping the prison that held her for close to a year. Semi-conscious and close to death, his gaze fell on an apparition of her son and white light filled his skin, healing his wounds and giving him a second chance . . . and to this day that power still rages within him. Haunting visions of her daughter's death drive him out of hiding and he shows up at her doorstep with the intent of giving her the power he safeguarded all these years. But his good intentions fall short when they realize he led the vengeful spirit of his step-brother straight to her. Cancer is no longer their biggest worry, now Chris and Jessica must battle a ghost hell bent on destroying all of them.

Next week I'll be doing a character interview - stay tuned for more details.

In the meantime - keep reading!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jenny Craig Week 8

I made my goal of 10 pounds before the end of October!  WooHoo! 

I'm cruising along with this and very happy with the results.  Anyone who's on the fence about joining Jenny Craig should take the plunge.  The food is great, the weekly calls keep you honest and the results - well, let's just say my husband has been very happy with the results. 

Anyhow, just wanted to let y'all know my progress. 

Until next week.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dishing it up with Heather Brewer!

Folks, I’ve got Heather Brewer, author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod on my blog today. Her latest book, Twelfth Grade Kills came out on September 21, 2010 and let me tell you, this book kicked some serious butt! If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading her young adult series, I suggest you head to the nearest book store and get on it.

JET: First of all, let me say I really enjoy your Vlad series and I’ve confiscated my son’s copy of Twelfth Grade Kills and burned through it in one day. It was supposed to be my reward for finishing my edits, but I made the mistake of taking a break and picking the book up – that’s all she wrote – at least for the rest of that night. 

Now that I've gushed about the book, let me ask you about your Book Expo America surprise.  Can you explain how it felt to walk into the Expo center and see Vlad’s brand painted on the stairs?

Heather: I literally gasped aloud! Probably the first time I've ever done that in my life. It's one thing when you're sitting at home, hidden away from the world, telling yourself stories. It's quite another when the world starts to enjoy those stories with you.

JET: What made you choose Young Adult as a genre?

Heather: Really, it chose me. The first two books that I had ever written (both awful, unpublished and hopefully rotting somewhere) were for adults. Both were learning lessons--the primary lesson being that a writer should write from the heart. It turns out that my heart is actually a teenager and thirsts for blood.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Heather: Learning to have the patience of a saint. Everything in publishing involves waiting. Waiting for literary agents, waiting for editors, waiting for cover art, waiting for reviews. It's an endless cycle. And unfortunately, I've never been a very patient person. But I'm learning!

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Heather: I have new favorite moments every day. But two stand out to me: 1. the first time I spoke to my now agent, Michael Bourret, and he totally understood what I was trying to do with Vlad, and 2. Meeting a Minion named Jaymes at San Diego Comic Con. He cried and thanked me for getting him through school. Whenever I start feeling self-doubt, I think of Jaymes and how much my books meant to him. Then I sit my butt in that chair and get to work.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Heather: The greats: Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe. I've always loved the darker stuff, and happily blame my twisted little imagination on these three.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Heather: I've written bad poetry, short stories and the like since I was about five. But when I turned twelve, I read Stephen King's "Carrie", and it changed my world forever. I closed the book after that reading and said aloud for the first time, "That's what I want to be. I want to be a writer." But it took me many years to actually take the plunge. I was in college when I wrote my first manuscript, and a stay at home mom for several years before giving it a serious go. Luckily, for me, the third time was the charm.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Heather: I called up a blood bank and asked them how long it takes stored blood to expire. Probably should have explained that I was a writer first.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Heather: That's like asking me to choose between my children! I love them all for very different reasons. A current fave, however, is "Shadow Children"--a short story featured in an anthology edited by R.L. Stine called "Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror". I love this story, because in it, I face a fear that I still very much deal with. The fear of What's Lurking in Dark Places.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Heather: Stick to a daily word count. Set a goal (no matter how small) and reach that writing goal every single day, no matter if you're sick or travelling. And remember this formula for writing a book:
Butt + Chair = Writing!

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

Heather: It depends what we're talking about. Bag-wise, I prefer cloth or plastic (paper rips so easily). Cups? Plastic. (Note: I am terrible for the environment)

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Heather: Steak! The more rare, the better. I'm a carnivore, through and through.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Heather: Mountains. Hiking is a blast! Besides, I don't do well in the sun, and I get incredibly bored at the beach. When you're a non-swimmer, there's really not much to do there.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Heather: Rock-n-Roll!

JET: Classics or Modern?

Heather: Everything has its place, so I'll pick both (though I do tend to lean toward modern).

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Heather: I loves me some silent films, but I am all about cheesy horror! For instance, William Shatner once starred in "The Devil's Rain". It was horrendous. I loved every second of it.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

Heather: I think it's been well-established that I am on Team Zombie, no matter who or what the opponent is. Unless someone brings up Team Vampire or Team Starbucks...then I'm in trouble.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Heather: As far as books go, it's gotta be the real thing. Paper, without a doubt.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

Heather: Sweet. I could give up potato chips, if necessary, but don't you touch my Godiva chocolates.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Heather: Though I often tout my love of Starbucks, I'm actually a bigger fan of tea. Nothing like a cup of tea and a cookie to relax me at night.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Heather: I just turned in the first draft of "Beginning", the first book in my new spin-off series, called "The Slayer Chronicles". These books will take place during the summers between the school years of "The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod". If readers enjoyed the bloodshed in my Vlad books, they'll love what's in store for Joss!

I'm currently working on the first book in another series, called "Bloodbound". Monsters, sword fighting, and a kick-butt girl - what's not to love?

"Beginning" will debut Fall 2011, and Minions can expect "Bloodbound" sometime in Spring 2012.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Heather Brewer and her work at the following places:,,

Next Friday, I'll be talking about my new release Vengeance and highlighting some of my Backspace friends releases. 

Until then,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jenny Craig Week 7

1.5 pounds - w00t!  Now I'm at a total of 8 pounds.  I'm just hoping to get to 10 pounds by the end of the month.

I kept up the exercising and I'm feeling great! 

For those keeping up with this blog - sorry this is late and so short - but I'm buried right now - so until next week!  Cross your fingers. 


Friday, October 22, 2010

Dishing it up with the authors of DRACULAS (A Novel of Terror)...

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with F. Paul Wilson, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand and Blake Crouch, the authors of DRACULAS (A Novel of Terror) released this week on October 18, 2010. DRACULAS hit number one on Amazon under Occult books and kindle e-books due to an interesting marketing strategy including hundreds of reviewers posting to their blogs and websites and Amazon and anywhere else they possible could - all coordinated with the book release.

Here’s the skinny on DRACULAS:


Mortimer Moorecook, retired Wall Street raider, avid collector, is losing his fight against cancer. With weeks to live, a package arrives at the door of his hillside mansion—an artifact he paid millions for…a hominoid skull with elongated teeth, discovered in a farmer’s field in the Romanian countryside. With Shanna, his beautiful research assistant looking on, he sinks the skull’s razor sharp fangs into his neck, and immediately goes into convulsions.


A rural hospital. A slow night in the ER. Until Moorecook arrives strapped to a gurney, where he promptly codes and dies.


Four well-known horror authors pool their penchants for scares and thrills, and tackle one of the greatest of all legends, with each writer creating a unique character and following them through a vampire outbreak in a secluded hospital.

The goal was simple: write the most intense book they possibly could.

Which they did.

A word of warning:

Within these pages, you will find no black capes, no satin-lined coffins, no brooding heartthrobs who want to talk about your feelings. Forget sunlight and stakes. Throw out your garlic and your crosses. This is the Anti-TWILIGHT.

About the authors:

F. PAUL WILSON is an award-winning, NY Times bestselling novelist whose work spans horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, young adult, and virtually everything between. He is best known as the author of THE KEEP and creator of the urban mercenary Repairman Jack. (

JACK KILBORN is a pen name of J.A. Konrath, who has written six Jack Daniels thrillers. The seventh, SHAKEN, will be available this October. Kilborn is the author of AFRAID, ENDURANCE, TRAPPED, and SERIAL UNCUT, (written with Blake Crouch) which has been downloaded more than 250,000 times. (

JEFF STRAND is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of such novels as PRESSURE, DWELLER, GRAVEROBBERS WANTED (NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY), BENJAMIN'S PARASITE, and THE SINISTER MR. CORPSE. His secret shame is SUCKERS, co-written with J.A. Konrath. (

BLAKE CROUCH is the author of four thrillers, DESERT PLACES, LOCKED DOORS, ABANDON, and SNOWBOUND, all published by St. Martin’s Press. His short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen, THRILLER 2, and other anthologies. (

JET: What prompted you folks to write a novel together?

Blake, Joe, Paul and Jeff: We all know and like each other, respect each other’s writing, and when Joe came up with such a hot title and premise, it seemed like a no-brainer.

JET: With voice being the key to any story, how did four very distinct and talented authors come together to a meeting of the minds to produce a novel with consistency in the voice and tone?

Blake, Joe, Paul and Jeff: First, we set all egos aside. We opened our work to each other to read in very early stages, and tried to stay receptive to feedback. One of the cool bonus features of this book is a 40,000-word email chain between the four of us, which shows a glimpse into our collaborative process, warts and all.

JET: Was there ever any disagreements on where the plot should go? If not, can you tell us about some of your more interesting collaboration sessions? If so, tell us about one that sticks out in your mind.

Blake, Joe, Paul and Jeff: Yes, we had major disagreements about the end, the fate of a character, and a scene toward the end we ended up taking out. It’s all chronicled in exhaustive detail in the bonus features of DRACULAS.

JET: Tell us a little about Draculas. What makes this a "must have" read?

Blake, Joe, Paul and Jeff: Pure Intensity. Horror. Major scares. Laugh-out-loud humor. And it all takes place in a hospital over 4 hours.

JET: What's next for each of you?

BLAKE: Next up for me is finalizing a new book I’ve just finished. My first two novels, DESERT PLACES and LOCKED DOORS also just went up on Kindle for a reasonable $2.99, so I’m jazzed about that.

JOE: I've got two sci-fi ecopunk novels in the TIMECASTER series coming out in 2011 with Ace Berkley, and a few other super secret projects in the works. I'm writing the eighth Jack Daniels novel, called STIRRED, with Blake, which will also be the third in his Andrew Z. Thomas books (DESERT PLACES, LOCKED DOORS.) It's a wrap-up to both of our series.

JEFF: Next up for me is WOLF HUNT, which does for werewolves what DRACULAS did for vampires, except that I finished WOLF HUNT several months before DRACULAS, so actually it's DRACULAS that does for vampires what WOLF HUNT did for werewolves. WOLF HUNT is funnier, though.

PAUL: FATAL ERROR, the penultimate Repairman Jack novel, hit the street mid-October. Just finished a draft of THE DARK AT THE END, the (sort of) last Repairman Jack novel. I say "sort of" because the whole series ends with NIGHTWORLD which will come in 2012. Jack is a player in that novel, but the cast is an ensemble from across the Secret History.

Buy DRACULAS here!

My review of Draculas was posted on Monday October 18, 2010.

Next week, I have author Heather Brewer on my site for a pre-halloween minion fest! Join us for the fun and games.

Until next week,



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jenny Craig - Week 6

Another half pound and half an inch on my waist and hips this week. 

I wanted to see more, but considering we are talking the actual loss of fat - and not water weight - I'm happy with it. 

It's funny because I got a half pound of cheese at the deli and stared at the package.  Now fat isn't necessarily the consistency of cheese - but it certainly is a visual motivation.

I'd still like to see 1 - 2 pounds a week - but that has been a little difficult to achieve with only 45 minutes of exercise.  So this coming week - I want to up the exercise to an hour a day and see if that results in hitting my weekly goal. 

My calorie intake is still 1200 a day - so with the increase in activity - my target is a total loss of 10 pounds by the end of October.  I'd like it to be more since I'm only three pounds away from that goal - but considering we are talking two weeks - I think that's managable and attainable. 

If I continue at the rate of 5 lbs a month - I should hit my goal by the end of January.  Ideally - I'd like to hit that goal by Christmas - but based on the past month and a half - I'm not sure if that's realistic - even with the increase in activity.

In other words, the battle is going well and my husband is really noticing the difference which helps with the motivation factor.  That sparkle in his eyes when I catch him checking me out is so worth the effort!

Until next week

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review of Draculas

I finished Draculas a week ago and I’m still a bit ambivalent about it. I liked it – don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t love it. So my lament is where do I put it on a scale of five stars? For me it’s 3.5 stars – right smack between I liked it and I liked it a lot.

Several factors weighed in on this, one of which surprised me since I’m usually the queen of gore. I’m not squeamish by any stretch of the imagination, and this didn’t make me queasy but the sheer abundance of gore shocked me to the point I might not have kept reading if I hadn’t signed up to review the book.

But if I did that – I would have missed out.

Yes, the gore in the beginning got to me and turned me off, but eventually the characters, specifically Jenny and Randall – won me over. These two characters were the reason I kept reading, I cheered for them, felt anxiety for their fate, even cried for them. To me, they were the strongest of the book’s cast.

Another factor that played into the score was the fact that I just couldn’t picture what these monsters looked like. Of course, there were several descriptions of what happened, how they turned, but I just couldn’t picture it no matter how I tried and I’m usually so good at visualization. The good thing about this – I didn’t have any nightmares related to reading Draculas but I’m sure others did.

The last factor for my scoring was the ending. I’m not going to spoil it here, but I was a bit taken back. You could even say a couple things pissed me off. But not the fact they left it open-ended and allowed for the possibility of a sequel and a million and one questions fluttering around my brain for days.

This book certainly isn’t the usual vampire story – it brought me back to the days of Salem’s Lot, where these creatures were the embodiment of evil and I liked that far better than the brooding vampires in the Twilight series that ended in what I call an anti-climax of nothingness.

This definitely didn’t fall into the anti-climax of nothingness category and for those who dig a scary, blood-ridden ride, pick this sucker up – you won’t be disappointed.

On Friday (10/22), I have the pleasure of having the authors of Draculas - Joe, F Paul, Jeff and Blake - on my blog for a short interview. Join me then to find out more about Draculas.  In the meantime, if you want to purchase this book - hop on over to Amazon by way of this link:

Buy DRACULAS here!

Until we meet again -