Friday, September 30, 2011

Dishing it up with Amy Corwin...

Today I have the pleasure of dishing it up with Amy Corwin. Amy is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and recently joined Mystery Writers of America. She has been writing for the last ten years and managing a career as an enterprise systems administrator in the computer industry. She writes Regencies, historicals, mysteries, and contemporary paranormals. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.

Amy’s books include the two Regency romances, SMUGGLED ROSE, and LOVE, THE CRITIC; three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; and her first paranormal, VAMPIRE PROTECTOR.

Join her and discover that every good mystery has a touch of romance.

JET: Can you tell us about A Rose before Dying?

Amy: “A Rose Before Dying” was such a thrill for me to write. I have been researching and growing old garden roses since 1998 and when I got the idea for the book, I was so excited I couldn’t wait to write it. I had already developed the idea of a Regency inquiry agency called Second Sons, run by Knighton Gaunt. I wanted to have the freedom to introduce other characters, but still have a connection between the stories. In “A Rose Before Dying” Charles Vance picks up the threads of an investigation when his uncle, Sir Edward, is implicated in a murder. The clues are roses and Charles is thrust into the role of detective to clear his uncle’s name and stop the next killing when the murderer sends another rose as a warning that he’s not quite done, yet.

For those interested, here is a brief blurb about the book.

Only Sir Edward had the motive, the opportunity, and a garden full of the roses sent to each victim before their death.

The first victim was Sir Edward's ex-mistress, a woman who threw him over for a younger man. After receiving a mysterious rose, she dies while alone with Sir Edward. Then a second rose is delivered and a deadly game commences, where roses are the only clues to save the next victim.

However, Charles Vance, Earl of Castlemoor, refuses to believe his uncle, Sir Edward, could commit the murders, even when the renowned head of the Second Sons Inquiry Agency warns him there may be some truth behind the rumors. “The roses are Sir Edward's attempt to cast suspicion elsewhere.” “Misdirection.” Or so the whispers say.

Convinced he can prove his uncle's innocence, Vance enlists the aide of notable rosarian, Ariadne Wellfleet, little realizing his actions will involve the Wellfleet household in the killer's game.

Before the week is out, Charles receives another rose.

And someone else is missing.

JET: What drew you to paranormal romance and contemporary and historical mysteries?

Amy: I love them. They make me happy and provide challenges to me as a writer that I still find exciting. I think reading Barbara Michaels and Georgette Heyer really solidified my goals for me. I want to be like them. With perhaps a soupcon of H.H. Munro’s dry wit thrown in.

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

Amy: Figuring out what I wanted to write, and how to write it. For years, I tried to fit the mold of “Romance Writer”. I wanted to be a “Romance Writer” because I was intimidated by the thought of trying to write a mystery. But my heart was in the mystery genre and it wasn’t until I finally decided to move firmly into that genre that I found success.

You must follow your heart, even if the path ahead terrifies you.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Amy: Oddly enough, it wasn’t what most folks describe. It wasn’t “the call” or signing my first contract. It was finding a critique group of women who were just as driven as I was to succeed. They were warm, welcoming, and gave generously of their time and support. So here’s to: Charlotte Featherstone, Kristina Cook, and Monica Burns. They are all wonderful authors and their success is well-deserved.

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

Amy: Barbara Michaels, Georgette Heyer, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Andre Norton, H.H. Munro…the list goes on and on. I haunted the library and a used bookstore that sold books for the phenomenal price of 25 cents. I’m afraid my reading habits didn’t do my favorite authors much good, but it let me enjoy a huge variety of books that I could never have done otherwise.

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

Amy: I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first story when I was seven. It just took me a while to get a grip on it and actually get published.

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

Amy: One year, I ordered close to 100 old garden roses. That was insane and I’m currently reaping what I sowed in trying to keep a garden that is far too large under control.  At least the weeds are prospering. But my interest in the history of roses led to “A Rose Before Dying” so while my back may ache, I can’t regret it.

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

Amy: “The Vital Principle” because it’s truest to my internal voice. It’s a mystery, but there are tiny flashes of humor and a hint of romance with more to come. I loved Pru and Knighton and am currently working on their next story. I think these two characters resonate with me because they reflect my own internal conflict. Pru believes in shades of gray and the concept that there are many “truths” depending upon your perspective. Knighton believes there is one, universal truth. I’m torn between the two perspectives and the interplay of these two characters lets me explore this moral argument.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Amy: Write. And then listen. Nothing you write is perfect. Be willing to listen to suggestions, complaints, and editors. They may not be right on target with their comments, but give them a chance. They might spark that change in your manuscript that will turn a good book into a brilliant one.

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?

Amy: China. It’s reusable. LOL

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Amy: Steak. I’m allergic to soy beans.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Amy: Both.  Totally depends upon my mood.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Amy: Alternative.  Okay, I’m weird, but…I am what I am.

JET: Leather or Lace?

Amy: Lace.

JET: Angels or Demons?

Amy: Humans. Definitely humans. The others present too many existential dilemmas.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Amy: Digital.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Amy: Both. I love “The Sheik” but I also adore anything coming out of Hammer Studios that features Christopher Lee and Barbara Steele. I love dear Barbara.

JET: Twilight or True Blood?

Amy: Huh? How about the original Dark Shadows? 

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Amy: Both. Coffee in the morning. Iced Earl Grey in the afternoon. Ta.

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

Amy: I’m desperately working on a novella for the holidays, Christmas Spirit. It’s only taken me two years to write it, LOL. By the time you read this, it should be in the claws—er, hands—of an editor. I’ve just submitted “A Fall of Silver” to my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and I’m praying they like the submission. It’s a paranormal romance and is a lot more hard-edged than most of my other books. Wish me luck!

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

Author website:





Amazon Author Central:

Join me next week when I have Stephanie Campbell and Christine Butler on tap in addition to the list of October releases to watch for. 
Until then,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Unforeseen Perks of Having an Office by Christiana Miller

Folks, today I have the pleasure of handing my blog over to author and Backspace member Christiana Miller...


By Christiana Miller

Whenever I heard of an author who had an office where they went to, to write, I was always torn. Part of me felt envious they had that luxury. Part of me felt like it was a scandalous waste of money, unless they were a best-selling author who could afford it.

Until the day I was looking for an apartment in a better school district. This may not have been the neighborhood we lived in, but it was the neighborhood we had spent all our time in since my daughter was born, where she went to preschool, and where her friends lived. It was where I wanted her to continue her schooling.

The bad news was that the only apartment we could afford had been rented. The good news was, as I was walking out of the realtor's office, I noticed an office had just come up for rent, in the district I was looking for, for one-third the price of the apartment.

So, I checked it out. It was tiny, but lights and a/c were included in the rent and, best of all, the previous tenant was willing to leave the office completely furnished. So I rented it. And since I had started a publishing brand to publish my own books, it was easy to move the business into the new office location.

It was probably the best decision I ever made. So what were the perks, you ask?

PERK #1:

A better school district. If you own a business or are an employee in a better school district, you may be able to use that to get your kid on that district's waiting list as well as have your child released from the district you live in.

For us, the week before school started, we got a phone call telling us that my daughter had been moved from the waiting list to the active list, and would be starting school with all her friends.

However, you will need to start this process fairly early in the summer, as it takes time to get your business license, publicize your DBA, schedule your fire inspection, fulfill any insurance obligations on the business, etc.

PERK #2:

Unexpected pets! This may not be the case with you, but our first day at the office, my daughter noticed that we were sharing the space with a two foot long (from snout to end of tail) alligator lizard. Her name is Flower and the only thing she'll eat (so far) is McDonald's side salad and whatever bugs wander in. Flower has the run of the office and is pretty sure we're squatters.

PERK #3:

Tax deductions. You can deduct the business expenses and office rent from your taxes. And it won't raise the IRS red flags that trying to deduct a home office does. It's relatively easy to get a Federal Tax ID (your banker can even do it as you watch) and set up a business banking account. As a bonus, once you have both a business and personal account with your bank, you'll usually qualify for free upgrades and perks.

However, there are a lot of unexpected expenses that go along with setting up a business and renting office space, so make sure to keep good records. Your first month will (most likely) be your most expensive.

PERK #4:

Space!!! Most people can manage to carve out an office for themselves in their homes, using an extra room. However, when we downsized our apartment, we no longer had any extra space in our new place.

Now, I can move all the writing books, paper reams, office equipment, research materials, and filing cabinets that used to clutter up my home and keep them in the office.

I'm still in the process of doing this, but I'm looking forward to being able to reclaim my dining room as a dining room. And my bedroom. Once this office-stuff type of de-cluttering is done, I can turn my focus to the hordes of toys that are slowly devouring our living room.

PERK #5:

Dedicated writing time. My husband works at home and I never realized how much my writing was affected by having to compete with all the distractions of child, spouse, internet, TV, phone, doorbell, etc. I remember kidding around that I had gotten so used to writing when PBS Sprout and Nick Jr. were on, I now had to turn on kid's cartoons to summon the muse.

Once I got the office, however, this is what I started to notice:

I'd get my daughter ready for school, drop her off and head to the office. Since I don't have any internet access there, or TV, or even a land-line, all I can do is sit down and write. So I do. I write.

I open the blinds. I write some more. I look for the alligator lizard. I write some more.

When I would normally stop for the day, thinking that I'm just about all tapped out… I look at the clock and notice that school's nowhere near over for the day.

Since I have nothing else to do, I sit back down and I write some more. This time, when I stop, I'm absolutely convinced that the muse has left the building.

So I get up, stretch, look for the alligator lizard, stretch some more and…

I still have time left.

So I sigh and I sit back down to the computer. Hearing the desperation in my call, the muse comes back in from her break, and we start again.

For every day I spend writing in the office, I get about a week's worth of work done, compared to how much I do when I work at home, surrounded by TV, people and internet temptations!

PERK #6:

The comfort of a schedule. If I spend the day writing in the office, I don't feel guilty for not writing at home. Now, I can use that time to play with my daughter or clean our home, or work on marketing, or organize writing events. Without the constant guilt that accompanies the thought "I could be/should be writing."

So, while having a dedicated office space was something I thought would always be a dream, I'm very glad it has become a reality.

About the author: Christiana Miller is a novelist, screenwriter and mom who's led an unusual life. In addition to writing for General Hospital: Night Shift and General Hospital, she's had her DNA shot into space (where she's currently cohabiting in a drawer with Stephen Colbert and Stephen Hawking), and she's been the voices of all the female warriors in Mortal Kombat II and III. If her life was a TV show, it would be a wacky dramedy filled with eccentric characters who get themselves into bizarre situations.

Miller recently started a publishing company (HekaRose Publishing) and wrote/published her first novel, Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Diesel, Smashwords. Check out her website at: or like her author page on Facebook. You can also find her on Twitter at @writechristiana.

Excerpt From "Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead"

At the beginning of this whole, surreal journey, I had no idea you could be evicted from your body as easily as you could be booted out of your apartment. Easier, actually, since there's none of those pesky laws in place to protect you. But it all started out so innocently. . . With a streak of bad luck.

One of the problems with being a witch is when you ask the universe a question, it generally gives you an answer. Or just enough of one to ruin a perfectly good week.

But since it was my birthday. . .

And since I was an eternal optimist. . .

And mostly 'cause I was stuck at the longest red light in the history of traffic, with nothing else to do. . .

I dug my tarot deck out of my purse and pulled three cards for the coming year.


Three of Swords.

The Tower.

Transformation. Sorrow. Change through destruction. Happy birthday to me.

Damn it. I shouldn't have looked. You'd think I'd know better by now. Damn tarot cards always suckered me into peeking into my future and I just about always regretted it. Because the hell of it was. . .

They were usually right.

After a quick stop at Trader Joe's, I was finally home. I propped the grocery bag on my hip, wrestled open the wrought iron gate and placed my hand on my mailbox. Mara Stephens, Apt 1-C.

I stood for a second, hoping my unemployment check was in there and tried to read the vibes. This was a game I always played with myself -- a small psychic exercise to keep my 'sight' sharp. But I didn't feel any sense of urgency or hope. Just a whopping dose of dread.

Great. So my guess was no check, but at least one major bill I'd have to pay. I unlocked the box and quickly sorted through the mail. Sure enough -- a sale flyer from the Crooked Pantry, a birthday card from a temp agency and a pink notice from the Dept. of Water and Power.

Good thing I had plenty of candles to fall back on. And a swimming pool. Maybe I could shower over the drain in the courtyard, with the garden hose. People washed their dogs there all the time. And my shampoo was considerably less toxic than flea dip.

Tucked into the back of the mailbox was a reminder about the rent. At least that was one thing I didn't need to worry about. Lenny knew I was good for it. How much longer I'd be able to pay the rent though. . . That thought made me queasy.

Suddenly, a wave of panic hit my stomach and clenched it hard. Forget crawling, gooseflesh positively raced across my arms. I struggled to breathe. Whatever was wrong, it all seemed to be coming from the direction of my apartment.

I dropped my mail into the grocery bag and peeked around the corner of the mail stand. Behind the screen door, my front door was wide open.

Shit! I ducked back behind the mailboxes and fumbled through my purse for my cell phone.

I flipped open the phone and hit 9-1-1.


I hung up and tried again.

Still busy.

Bloody hell. No wonder the crime rate was so high in Los Angeles. I didn't know what the non-emergency number was, so I decided to call my home phone and warn the intruder to clear out.

If I was lucky, it would just be a break-in. A simple case of anonymous robbery. I'd warn them that I was on my way home and they'd hit the road with their haul.

But as I punched in the first three digits, the phone beeped, the battery icon blinked and the screen went black.

Damn it. I shoved the phone back into my purse and took another look at my apartment. The living room lights had been turned on against the gathering dusk. But why would robbers turn on the lights? Didn't that negate the whole idea of stealth?

I crept closer. That's when I saw Mrs. Lasio, the new building manager, planted like a bull in my living room.

Great. Just freaking great. Why did it have to be her? Why couldn't it have been some whacked-out crack-head carting off my TV?


If you enjoyed this excerpt, you can get the full story at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Diesel, or Smashwords.

Until next time,

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dishing it up with Gerald Rice

Today I have author Gerald Rice in the house. 

JET: Can you tell us about Fleshbags?

Gerald: Fleshbags is about a minor zombie outbreak in the industrial section of a major city in Metro Detroit. There are five sets of people who are dealing with this situation in their own ways—a father who’s trying to get to his young daughter, a home health-aide who just wants to go home at the end of her shift, an ex-con who’s trying to get out of town, a teacher who just wants to escape her students, and a cop tasked with keeping everything under control.

JET: What drew you to fantasy and horror?

GERALD: What pushed me to fantasy and horror was my mother. She took me too all kinds of age-inappropriate movies. She took me to see Creepshow after I got out of class when I was in kindergarten. She was a huge Stephen King fan and had all his books in hardcover. When I was about twelve or so she gave me Eyes of the Dragon and really turned me on to reading horror.

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

GERALD: Probably cultivating an original idea. When I first started trying to write for publication I wrote a zombie story and submitted it to Cemetery Dance. I thought it was revolutionary at the time, but in the form letter they sent rejecting me, one of the possible reasons they had for rejection was the exact thing I’d done in my story.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

GERALD: Seeing my name in print. It was on-line, but still a thrill. Either Alien Skin Magazine or Nocturnal Ooze, can’t remember which, but they had actually rejected my story originally, but gave reasons why and encouraged me to resubmit. I saw what they found wrong and once I’d redrafted it was a better story.

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

GERALD: Stephen King, obviously, but F. Paul Wilson was a major player. I read his Freakshow anthology when I was a teenager and my mother bought me The Keep. Honestly, that one was too difficult for my thirteen year old brain and I put it down. I think I wound up reading it when I was seventeen, but that was after Reprisal and Reborn. Other than those two guys, I’d say Al Sarrantonio and Thomas Disch.

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

GERALD: I don’t know that it was ever one point; it was more a gradual thing. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. I remember writing a story in 2nd grade as a class project and we bound our own books with string. Mine was about two witches named Yvonne and Yvette, but I have no clue what they did in it.

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

GERALD: I never did anything remotely close to what that guy did in Stuart Connelly’s Red Coyote Weekend, but one thing I did find out is there are documented cases of people bleeding from the pores in highly stressful situations.

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

GERALD: You’re putting me in a real Sophie’s Choice situation here.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

GERALD: Write what you love and you’ll never fail. It might take a while before you to succeed, but if you dedicate yourself to improving your writing by learning from the books you read you can get there.

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?

GERALD: Plastic.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

GERALD: Steak.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

GERALD: Beach.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

GERALD: Rock-n-Roll.

JET: 2012 Mayan Prophecy Believer or Ain’t Gonna Happen?

GERALD: Ain’t gonna happen.

JET: Angels or Demons?

GERALD: Angels by default. They’re probably just as scary.

JET: Paper or Digital?

GERALD: Paper.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

GERALD: Cheesy B-rated horror.

JET: Sword wielding ninja or Gun toting momma?

GERALD: Sword-wielding ninja.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

GERALD: Tea, preferably rooibos.

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

GERALD: Got a few things in the pot. I should be working on the follow-up to my first novel, but I just came up with an idea too intriguing to ignore (I blogged the first few entries of Dead Right on my website). Then after that I may either start on a Christmas horror novella or a collaboration project I decided to go it alone on.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Gerald Rice and his work at the following places: You can follow me on Twitter @GeraldRice, like the Gerald Rice fan page, or go to my website,

Until next week



Monday, September 19, 2011

Manic Monday with K.J. Morgan

The story of how K.J. Morgan came to be a guest here today is quite amusing. I won an e-book giveaway of The Burn on Goodreads and uploaded that puppy onto my Kindle along with over a dozen submissions for Allegory e-zine. The Burn happened to land in the middle of the submission pile – I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this - you can well imagine my delight as I began to read this brilliant – and I mean stellar brilliant, like a super nova brilliant – submission to our e-zine.

When I discovered it WASN’T a submission, I was a little bummed. This sucker was already in print. Dang, I would have loved to be the e-zine that discovered this gem.

Needless to say, I gave it a five star review and shot a note off to Ms. Morgan asking if she would be willing to write a little something for Manic Monday. I was thrilled when she accepted.

So without further delay, I give you K.J. Morgan!

Counterculture Fiction; the Art of Burning Man

What is it about Burning Man? A gathering of over 50,000 in the Black Rock Desert, dressed in sequins, leather, paint, dust, nothing…seeking something, seeking anything. It happens for art’s sake, or for the sake of a rave, of freedom, of exhibition. There are art cars and art camps, DJs, alcohol, drugs, sex, politics, drama and mayhem. But, most of the time, it’s about a group of friends on a road trip, someone breaking up, someone cheating, someone realizing who they are, someone letting go…a neon-laced journey of wonders that culminates in a flaming effigy sacrificed to youth, glory and a shattered, humanized image of the American dream.

Trivial? Surely. Idiotic? Definitely. But also more, always more. There is a supernatural quality to a pale stretch of desert, a burning sky at sunset, shadows cast against a neon glow. At Burning Man, this is especially true. Your demons rise to the surface, called forth by the very air of temptation, of reckless abandon. And your ghosts. The people you’ve left behind. The people you’ve wronged. The people you’ve loved. They whisper from warbled mirrors and hookah smoke, from faces that remind you of one night, one moment, that surprising murmur, that last kiss.

When I set out to write a Burning Man paranormal romance, I wanted to incorporate that particular feeling, the sense that the Black Rock Desert serves a kind of supernatural purpose, as a crossroads of sorts. The story, The Burn, threads together a little BM philosophy and scenery with a touch of pure horror, and a peppering of hot romance. It’s a dark adventure through a modern day garden of delights, where not everyone is human.

Ironically, that’s a far easier premise than trying to explain the real event, the bizarre merging of surreal and mundane, the crystallization of imagery and meaning. In 2004, I said goodbye to a marriage while on the playa. In 2005, a camp member and friend passed away during the event, leaving me with nightmares that have lasted to this day. In all honestly, I’ve sat the last few years out. Will I go again? As long as I can still fit in the feathered bikini, and paint glitter on my face, the answer is ‘yes’. What will I find there? A demon or two, I expect. But then, as an author, you can’t run from those, can you?

Thanks for joining us today and don't forget to pick up your copy of The Burn here at Amazon!

Friday I'm dishing it up with author Gerald Rice - swing in and say hi if you get the chance!

Until then,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dishing it up with George Everyman

Today I’m dishing it up with George Everyman. George is indeed everyman. He struggles with marriage and he struggles to understand the female perspective. If you're a man who has been in a relationship for a while, you will be able to relate to him in many ways. And if you're a woman who wants to take a peek into a man's mind, this is your chance.

JET: Can you tell us about I'm George, mwm, 52?

George: I'm not a writer by trade but some interesting events in my life and my wife's life must have sparked something deep in my psyche and the book just kind of wrote itself. It took 37 days to write which, ironically, is the same number of days that my e-affair with Lara lasted.

JET: What drew you to contemporary romance and humor?

George: Well, romance and humor are the closest genres that I can associate with this book, but it's really hard to pigeon hole this kind of book into a specific type. And it's probably helpful to know that I wasn't writing it for any specific audience. I was writing it to sort out some things in my mind. One reviewer said: "This is memoir/comedy/tragedy/self-help and it should be viewed as a mixture of all of them".

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

George: There weren't any hurdles, really. A friend had written a book and there was an article in the local paper about how he published through Smashwords, so I did the same and it was pretty easy. Of course, I had (and have) no intention of contacting the local newspaper because if my wife Abby were to find out about the book and actually read it, I'd be in deep, deep trouble.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

George: It was pretty darn cool to see the book 'out there' and have people actually downloading and reading it.

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

George: I loved Dr. Doolittle as a kid.

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

George: Shortly after I found out about my wife's affair.

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

George: Well, in kind of a convoluted way, you could say that my e-affair was 'research'.

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

George: This is the only one I have written.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

George: Oh yes. Plenty. Everyone has at least one story to tell, so tell it. But, in the process, from the very beginning, tell the truth. Sure, if you have to cover some things up to not cause huge problems with your spouse or friends or family, that's OK. But it's not OK to try and please everyone with what you think they might expect from you. If you are trying to please anyone with your books, you are missing the point. Don't write for others, write for yourself.

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?

George: Paper comes from trees, naturally. Plastic wreaks havoc with nature.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

George: Steak with a blue cheese tofu sauce on top.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

George: Mountains in the summer. The beach in winter.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

George: Bluegrass

JET: Leather or Lace?

George: Leather. It smells and feels so good.

JET: Angels or Demons?

George: God, I wish Angels would talk to me. There are no demons.

JET: Paper or Digital?

George: Paper.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

George: Number one.

JET: Sword wielding ninja or Gun toting momma?

George: Give me Bogey.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

George: Coffee with cream and sugar.

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

George: The super brain (we all have one) is working on something but it's not giving me much right now about the scope of it. However, when it's ready, it will come at me like a locomotive, I'm sure.

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

Smashwords   Nook   Kindle

Next week, I’ve got K.J. Morgan on my Manic Monday series and Gerald Rice dishing it up next Friday.

Until then,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gut-Level Research by Toni Dwiggins

Welcome to another Manic Monday and a guest post from Toni Dwiggins. Toni is neither a geologist nor a nuke worker.

She’s always worked with words: script typist at a motion picture studio, research clerk at university libraries, proofreader for a textbook company, copy-editor for that company, and finally textbook writer for same company. From there, she went freelance.

She’s done magazine work, both fiction and non. She’s author of a US history text and contributed to texts in the sciences, including earth science. She’s done tech-writing for the Silicon Valley computer industry. Her techie experience hatched an idea that became her first novel, about an attempt to sabotage the nation’s telephone system (INTERRUPT, published by TOR Books).

Her latest book BADWATER is now available on Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

Without further adieu – here’s Toni…


So there’s this crime fiction writer who gets involved with a real-life hitman, and the hitman recounts his true visceral experiences as story material for the writer. The writer comes to want to live it himself, and nearly does.

It was movie, a Russian flick called GHOST, and it got me thinking about what makes a story feel gut-level real.

So I decided to run an experiment. I chose two scenes I’d written, from two different books: one inspired by a real-life experience, one totally made up. Both scenes were intended to give the reader a few shivers—or least keep the pages turning.

I showed the scenes to a friend who’d not read either book (some friend!;) and asked which one she thought came from something I’d experienced in real life.

Scene #1 (from BADWATER, the first in my Forensic Geology series): the bad guy is in a slot canyon in Death Valley, having just watched the chaos his act of sabotage caused, and now he’s getting the hell away from the scene before he gets caught. He’s already jumpy and suddenly there comes a low-pitched roaring sound, from upcanyon. He’s desert-wise and knows it could be a flash flood coming, caused by summer storms in the watershed above. And there’s no way to escape—the canyon walls are vertical and he can’t outrun a flood. The sound intensifies. And then around the upcanyon bend comes something totally unexpected: a black twisting whirlwind of soil and pebbles. It seems alive, snaking its way down the twisting slot canyon without touching the walls. It screams. The bad guy presses himself against the canyon wall and the whirlwind just grazes him as it passes. A flood would have drowned him. This thing spooks the hell out of him.

Scene #2 (from VOLCANO WATCH, second in the series, to be released within a couple of months): the protagonist (of both books) Cassie Oldfield is returning to her hometown, which has just been evacuated under the threat of an eruption. She’s returning in search of her partner, who she believes is stranded there. She’s returning on skis, coming in cross country via a steep canyon. (I like canyons) There’s a sudden low-pitched roaring sound (I like scary sounds) and, in wonder and terror, she sees a slab of snow detach from the canyon wall and descend upon her. Avalanche. It catches her, tumbles her, envelopes her. Buried with only a small air pocket, she must dig her way out. But the snow is like ice. She thinks she’ll die. And then mother nature throws her a rope: there’s an earthquake, cracking the icy snow roof enough that she can escape. Of course, she escapes into more trouble….

My friend says, without hesitation, #2 came from your real-life experience. Hey, I say, I’ve never experienced a volcanic eruption. She qualifies; but you’re a skier and you’ve skied the back country in heavy snow. Hey, I say, I’ve never been buried in an avalanche. She qualifies; yeah but I saw you take a nasty fall in deep powder and you were, technically, buried. Well yes, about half an inch deep.

Scene #1, I tell her, came from a real-life experience. Me in a slot canyon in Death Valley, alone, mindful of the warnings about sudden flash floods. And then the noise, and the devilish black whirlwind. My friend stares. That’s just too weird to be real. I shrug. It happened.

For scene #2, I got on the net and googled ‘avalanche’ and read about other people’s harrowing true-life experiences.

So my take-away is this: experience something exciting/crazy/spooky in real life and it would be a crime not to use it in a story. Need something exciting/crazy/spooky in a story that I haven’t experienced—do the research.

As long as it doesn’t involve impersonating a hitman.

* * * *

And just to give you all a peek into her new book – here’s the blurb for BADWATER:

Forensic geologists Cassie Oldfield and Walter Shaws embark on a perilous hunt--tracking a terrorist who has stolen radioactive material that is hotter than the desert in August. He threatens to release it in America's most fragile national park, Death Valley.

But first he must stop the geologists who are closing in.

As the hunt turns dangerous, Cassie and Walter will need grit along with their field skills to survive this case. For they are up against more than pure human malice. The unstable atom--in the hands of an unstable man--is governed by Murphy's Law. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

And it does.

To find out more about Toni, visit her at her website.

Friday I’ve got George Everyman on tap, so swing in and enjoy!

Until then,



Friday, September 9, 2011

Dishing it up with J.H. Bogran

Today, I have the pleasure of dishing it up with J.H. Bogran. José, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist and he ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José is the author of TREASURE HUNT, the first in the series of a professional thief who goes by the handle of The Falcon. Other works include short stories THE OUTPOST and LOVE ME TWO TIMES, published by Red Rose Publishing. The novel HEREDERO DEL MAL, is a thriller published by Editorial Letra Negra.

He’s a contributing editor to The Big Thrill magazine; co-screenwriter for two TV serials and writes movie reviews for Honduran newspaper La Prensa and is also a member of the International Thriller Writers.

JET: José, can you tell us about Treasure Hunt?

José : For starters, the story is set in the late 90’s, so don’t question the absence of blackberries or ask for The Falcon’s twitter account. :-)

During the late 70’s Bill Porter hijacked a jetliner, demanded ransom and made a narrow escape to a small country in Central America. Twenty years later, he’s about to be released from prison and hires The Falcon to retrieve the stolen money. However, Bill’s former cellmate, Jack Davis, is after the money, too.

Additionally, I wrote a short prequel, Absolution Withheld that introduces the characters of The Falcon and Father Daniel Weiss.

JET: What drew you to thrillers?

José : The excitement, the thrills, the insurmountable odds against the main character; all of these drew me to thrillers led by the Clive Cussler, Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum among others.

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

José : To learn the craft enough to get a sympathetic publisher who was willing to take me in.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

José : The first e-mail from a reader; and my spam filter almost takes it away from me! To read a stranger’s liking to my writing was a wonderful experience.

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

José : During my teens: Arthur Connan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Mario Puzo. During my twenties when I first decided to write: Ken Follett, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler and Robert Ludlum; the made it look so easy.

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

José : I’m always been sort of a story-teller, but it was during my mid-twenties that I seriously considered writing for more than just fun.

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

José : While researching for my next novel, I wrote an email to a museum requesting them to let me sit on the seats of a plane they had on display. They refused politely, so I’ll have to go on imagination.

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

José : At the risk of sounding much like a cliché, I don’t have a favorite. Honestly, it is like asking me who of my three sons I love the most.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

José : Don’t give up the dream. Keep writing, submitting and most important, learn from your mistakes.

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?

José : Paper.

JET:Steak or Tofu?

José : Steak. Has anybody ever answered Tofu?

JET:Beach or Mountains?

José : Mountains to live, Beach for a day trip.

JET:Country or Rock-n-Roll?

José : Rock-n-roll, baby!

JET:Horror or Comedy?

José : Both!

JET:Top 10 best seller or Unknown Back Shelf Find?

José : Dangerous Fortune, Gone with the Wind, The Cardinal of the Kremlin, The Godfather, Sahara, The Bourne Identity, The Road to Gandolfo, Travesuras de la Niña Mala, Cien Años de Solidad.

JET:Paper or Digital?

José : Undecided.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

José : Either is fine, depending on the company and current mood.

JET:2012 Mayan Prophecy Believer or Ain’t Gonna Happen?

José : Come on! It ain’t happening!

JET:Coffee or Tea?

José : Coffee, except when I’m visiting Buckingham Palace and I accommodate for the Queen.

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

José : I have one thriller shopping around for an agent/publisher. I have another one in the early stages of first draft, and last but not least, I hired an editor to polish a short story collection. My goal is an early December release—you know, in time to make a superb Christmas present—but still in the air.

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

Twitter: @JHBogran

Feel free to drop him a line at

Next week I’ve got Toni Dwiggins on tap for Manic Monday and George Everyman set for next Friday.

Until then,



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Waiting Game by Ty Drago

Hi folks, today I have a very special guest: Ty Drago, the editor of Allegory E-zine and author of the Young Adult thriller The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses (April 2011). Ty is one of the hardest working men I know, holding down a full time job as a business analyst along with his writing and editing endeavors, but he carved some time out of his schedule to visit us here today and impart his wisdom.

So, without further adieu…here is my favorite editor-in-chief talking about something near and dear to all writer’s hearts…

The Waiting Game

Wheels turn slowly in modern publishing. Writing a novel takes time. Editing a novel takes even more time, if you’re serious about it. But at least you’re busy. Once the finished work is out the door — to agents or editors, the waiting begins.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I’ve written a dozen novels, all of which have been submitted to various venues. Of them, so far three have been published and a fourth is currently under consideration. So I know all about the Waiting Game.

It’s a game in which the author has few moves, once the book is out the door. An agent, assuming you have one (assuming it’s not, in fact, an agency to which you’ve just submitted), may havesome options. He or she can nudge or nag, trying to pry out of overworked editors some level of feedback. But the results of such efforts, as far as I’ve seen, are mixed at best.

In the Writing Game, almost all moves are on the publisher’s side of the board.

But as a writer, are you completely helpless? Well, maybe not completely.

When my novel PHOBOS was submitted to Tor Books, we heard nothing for six months. Then eight.Then ten. After that, at my (then) agent’s advice, I travelled to WorldCon to attend Tor’s late night party in their hotel suite. I spent the next four hours in a bathroom with my (then) editor, as he played makeshift bartender, serving up beers and wine coolers that were on ice in the bathtub. Yep … it was that kind of party.

And he knew full well why I was there. In fact, he said so: “Ty’s here because he wants to know if he’s book’s going to be published.”

I didn’t deny it. We both knew I was making a move — one of a writer’s few moves — in the Waiting Game.

Well, PHOBOS was published. I received a contract and then waited an additional fifteen months for the editorial changes to come in. Then I waited another year until the hardcover edition hit the shelves. All in all, from first submission to publication took something over two-and-a-half years.

The Waiting Game taxes us. It costs us sleep. It drives us to stare at our phone or email and hope that this morning, or this afternoon, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next season, we’ll hear something — hopefully something positive. But too often the news, when it finally comes, is otherwise. Often a “no” can take as long as a “yes”. And what you’re left with in the grim aspect of shaking off your disappointment, resetting your pieces on the board, and starting the Waiting Game anew with a different publisher.


We didn’t invent the game. We didn’t draft the rules. We can’t even really play it in any solid, active way. Not really. But we can win it.

Winning the Waiting Game means making a sale.

Unfortunately, such wins are few and far between for most of us, while the game itself goes on. The Winning Game ain’t fast and it ain’t fun. Frankly, just playing it demands a level of bravery that many writers are never able to muster. There’s a peculiar dignity in the act of dropping that manuscript in the mail or pressing the send button on that critical email. Because, without that single act of courage, there can be no Waiting Game.

We may not have a lot of moves.

But the first one is always ours.

Folks, you can find out more about Ty Drago and his work at

As always, thanks for stopping by!



Monday, September 5, 2011

Manic Monday with Abigail Lawrence

Welcome to another Manic Monday guest blog and Happy Labor Day! Today I have Abigail Lawrence, writer and foster parent, talking about what led her to write her memoir Invisible Tears.

Without further adieu – here’s Abigail…

It could be that you have to be a bit mental to write a memoir. And I guess brave too, and let’s face it, you have enough guts to think that your particular life or parts of it, will be of interest to anyone but you. The thing is, we’re all fascinated by our own lives. And so we should be, but to stop people thinking about themselves for a short time, you need to be able to capture that nosy neighbor trait, you know, the desire to find out what the neighbors are up to.

To start, first you’ve got to have a very critical mind and with any book, you have to know what the story line is. Where is the beginning, the middle, the end? How is this thing going to end up and how do all the pieces you’re putting in there relate to that bigger picture? And I have to admit that when I first started writing my story, I didn’t know how it was going to end up and where all the pieces fitted. Now you might say, how you can say that? After all, this was your own life you were writing about. But here’s the thing, the more I got into the writing process, the more I actually learned about what I had experienced in my life. Things that hadn’t made sense at the time began to make sense as an adult. Events that had seemed insignificant finally revealed their meanings. I began to see the connections and finally get a little understanding of what I had been through. I made connections with parts of my life that I knew only little bits of, but research from family members made lots of it fall into place. I know that writing for me was more than cathartic; it taught me a love for the written word, the desire to better myself through writing and the ability to make someone loose themselves. Invisible Tears does just that. Taking you back to another era that time has forgotten. Look out for the next book too, Cupboard Love.

Invisible Tears by Abigail Lawrence

Shocking and spellbinding. The writing voice of Abigail Lawrence is so real that it is impossible to put this book down.

I have to say this is by far the most gripping memoir I have ever read. Five stars! --Steven Ward, Author

At a time when six-year-old Abbie needs love and security, her mother goes to the hospital and never returns. Still distraught, Abbie is passed to whoever will have her. Her new step mother subjects her to unimaginable physical, sexual and psychological torture and delivers her to local paedophiles in the entertainment business. During her single minded pursuit of fame Abbie's step mother stops at nothing, beating and prostituting her own children.

This is the story of Abbie's struggle to survive, the grim details of child abuse of the worst kind all told from the perspective of a little girl.

As a teenager Abbie is uncontrollable. A Modette during the 80's revival, she finds a love of scooters, rebellion and gang life on the wild side. Dulling her pain with alcohol, drugs and promiscuity at a very young age, Abbie loses control and becomes well known to the local police. Not one person can get through to her because she has no fear, no self respect, no morals or self worth. With nothing to lose, she throws herself into one battle after another, blood and guts brawling between the skin heads and the mods on the streets of London.

Her family eventually disowns her realizing they are unable to help. Abbie finds herself in the care of the Court until she is abandoned by children's homes and Social Services too. Alone, penniless and pregnant at the age of 16. Haunted by the secrets of her unspeakable past. Will anyone ever see her invisible tears?

You can purchase Invisible Tears at the following places:
Amazon US    Amazon UK   Barnes & Noble  Smashwords

You can find out more about Abigail Lawrence at her website.
Thanks for joining Abigail today and swing in on Wednesday, when I’ve got Ty Drago on tap for a special Wednesday blog.

Until then,



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy September First!!!

Happy September First.  Summer's almost over and I've had a few days offline (due to lovely tropical storm #Irene), which got me thinking about the past three quarters of a year in New England. 

  • January was one of the snowiest months on record.
  • May a tornado took quite a bite out of Massachusetts between Springfield and Sturbridge.  
  • July brought record heat
  • In August the earth moved from the Virginia Earthquake 
  • Irene blew though in August too and massive wind damage, power outages and floods occurred from the southern Connecticut shore all the way into Vermont.   
 I'm almost afraid of what's coming next!  So to divert my brain from all the doomsday scenarios, I've looked ahead to the books released in late August or slated for release in September.  There's something for everyone here - enough to escape the end of the summer blues...

GEORGIA REIGN by J.E. Taylor (September 1, 2011)

Special Agent Steve Williams, still reeling from the death of Chris Ryan and his unexpected inheritance, isn’t ready to step back into the line of fire. Relations with his wife are strained at best, and now he’s saddled with a new partner and a not so silent guardian angel.

When his boss calls with news of another case, a serial killer in Atlanta targeting children, it strikes a nerve in Steve. Caught between responsibility and instinct, he makes a choice – a choice he’ll regret forever.

VITALIS - NEW BEGINNINGS by Jason Halstead (August 31, 2011)

Humans have advanced to span multiple solar systems, diminish the effects of aging, and conquer the human genome, yet their cruelty towards their own kind binds them to the stone age. The rim worlds are the outer solar systems for human civilization. Men and women earn their living with their wits and talents, although treachery often nets a bonus.

The Rented Mule is a ship with a crew seeking to earn an honest living in a realm of dishonesty. No stranger to trouble, they know the unwritten rules of the trade and have avoided being claimed as “salvage” for many years.

On a routine transport mission the Mule has to struggle with not only the usual dangers of traveling through rim systems, but also a new navigator with a troubled past and a romantic interest in the ship’s engineer.

Plagued by threats from without and within, the crew’s only hope when the Mule suffers catastrophic damage may be an uncharted planet. The fate of the Rented Mule and crew is in the hands of the neophyte navigator.

ME AGAIN  by Keith Cronin (September 17, 2011)

Two young stroke victims meet in a hospital . . .

Jonathan's memory is gone, wiped clean by a six-year coma. Since nobody had expected him to recover, his sudden awakening becomes an awkward intrusion on his family and friends.

Rebecca's personality has changed, making her a stranger to her husband. Gone is the vivacious trophy wife, replaced by a shy, awkward woman with a knack for saying exactly the wrong thing.

They don't fit in. And they'll never be the same. But now they've got to decide what matters most: who they were, or who they can become?

A steadily accelerating story exploring the irony, humor, and opportunity that can accompany personal calamity, ME AGAIN follows the intertwined paths of two people forced to start over in life: one looking for his place in a world that has moved on without him, the other struggling to navigate a relationship with a man who wishes she were someone else.

YANKEE DOODLE DIXIE by Lisa Patton (September 13 2011)

A charmingly funny testament to second chances in life and love from the acclaimed author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter

Lisa Patton won the hearts of readers last year, her book Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter became a sleeper-success. Building on a smashing debut, Lisa’s poised to go to the next level—because whether in Vermont snow or in Memphis heat, Dixie heroine Leelee Satterfield is never too far from misadventure, calamity...and ultimately, love.

Having watched her life turn into a nor’easter, 34-year-old Leelee Satterfield is back home in the South, ready to pick back up where she left off. But that’s a task easier said then done…Leelee’s a single mom, still dreaming of the Vermonter who stole her heart, and accompanied by her three best friends who pepper her with advice, nudging and peach daiquiris, Leelee opens another restaurant and learns she has to prove herself yet again. Filled with heart and humor, women’s fiction fans will delight in this novel.

WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE by J.T. Ellison (September 20, 2011)

The headshot didn't kill Taylor Jackson. But it will haunt. In her showdown with the murderous Pretender, a bullet taken at close range severed the connection between Taylor's thoughts and speech. Effectively mute, there's no telling if her voice will ever come back. Trapped in silence, she is surrounded by ghosts-- of the past, of friendships and trusts lost--of the specter of a lost faith in herself and her motives that night. When Memphis Highsmythe offers Taylor his home in the Scottish highlands to recuperate, her fiancé John Baldwin can't refuse her excitement, no matter his distrust of the man. At first, Memphis's drafty and singularly romantic castle seems the perfect place for healing. But shortly the house itself surrounds her like a menacing presence. As Taylor's sense of isolation and vulnerability grows, so, too, does her grip on reality.

PTSD. Pills. Ghosts. Grudges. Someone or something is coming after Taylor. But is she being haunted by the dead...or hunted by the living?

GOOD GRACES by Lesley Kagen (September 1, 2011)

Lesley Kagen returns with the sequel to her national bestselling debut, Whistling in the Dark.

Whistling in the Dark captivated readers with the story of ten-year-old Sally O'Malley and her sister, Troo, during Milwaukee's summer of 1959. The novel became a New York Times bestseller and was named a Midwest Honor Award winner.

In Good Graces, it's one year later, and a heat wave has everyone in the close-knit Milwaukee neighborhood on edge. None more so than Sally O'Malley, who remains deeply traumatized by the sudden death of her daddy and her near escape from a murderer and molester the previous summer. Although outwardly she and her sister, Troo, are more secure, Sally's confidence in her own judgment and much of her faith have been whittled away. When a series of disquieting events unfold in the neighborhood-a string of home burglaries, the escape from reform school of a nemesis, and the mysterious disappearance of an orphan, crimes that may involve the increasingly rebellious Troo-Sally is called upon to rise above her inner demons. She made a deathbed promise to her daddy to keep Troo safe, a promise she can't break, even if her life depends on it. But when events reach a crisis point, will Sally have the courage and discernment to make the right choices? Or will her false assumptions lead her and those she loves into danger once again?

Lesley Kagen's gift for imbuing her child narrators with compelling authenticity shines as never before in Good Graces, a novel told with sensitivity, wit, and warmth.

THE TAKER by Alma Katsu (September 6, 2011)

True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price.

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. Until a mysterious woman arrives in his ER, escorted by police—Lanore McIlvrae is a murder suspect—and Luke is inexplicably drawn to her. And as Lanny tells him her story, an impassioned account of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, she changes his life forever. . . . At the turn of the nineteenth century, when St. Andrew was a Puritan settlement, Lanny was consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, and she will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.

Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain but also to blind and ultimately destroy. It is also a potent reminder that each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption.

DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry (August 30, 2011)
Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also been six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.

But before they even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town, and as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, and insane murderers, and face the horrors of Gameland—where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?

In the great Rot & Ruin, everything wants to kill you—and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will survive….

THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann (August 30, 2011)

When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the Quillitary. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination.

It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate—until he discovers that instead of a “death farm,” what awaits him is a magical place called ArtimÉ. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.

But it’s a rare, unique occurrence for twins to be divided between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of ArtimÉ that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate magical battle.

THE CITY OF SECRETS by Kelli Stanley (September 13, 2011)
Miranda Corbie is back in this sequel to City of Dragons. "Impressive...Stanley's hard-boiled, strong female sleuth stalks Hammett's San Francisco and does the job with all the panache of Sam Spade. Readers will eagerly await the next installment in this exciting new series." --Booklist (starred)

When Pandora Blake is murdered at San Francisco's 1940 World Fair and her body marked with an anti-Semitic slur, Miranda is soon entangled in a web of deceit and betrayal that is only overshadowed by the threat of impending war. With a strong female protagonist more steel than silk and a mystery that will grip you until the last page, this sequel to the critically-acclaimed City of Dragons will appeal to fans of noir and historical mysteries.

Thanks for swinging in.  Next week I've got Abigail Lawrence for another Manic Monday guest blog,  a special appearance by Ty Drago on Wednesday and ending the week, I'm dishing it up with J.H. Bogran.

Enjoy and have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Until then,