Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Spotlight: The River of Forgetting by Jane Rowan

People don’t make up things like that for fun.

That’s what Jane’s therapist tells her when Jane reports fragmentary memories from her childhood that hint at sexual abuse. A busy, successful scientist, Jane at first fights the implications, but finally has to admit that something indeed happened. With help from a gifted therapist as well as creative arts, Jane taps into her own aliveness and reconciles with both her parents’ love and their betrayal.

This deeply personal memoir invites the reader behind the closed doors of the therapist’s office and into the author’s journal and her very body. Jane’s tender story shows how we can use the challenges of painful childhood traumas to transform our lives.

Read an excerpt!

Chapter 1: Pandora’s Box

The memory emerged from a dim corner of my mind, jolting me awake. It was a humid morning in August. The air flowed softly through the bedroom window, bringing in a catbird’s song from the cherry tree just outside. I sat up in bed and propped a pillow behind me, grabbed my spiral-bound journal from its place on the bedside table, and began scribbling:

I am three or four and I hurt between my legs. I’m perched on the toilet in the big bathroom in our house at Shell Beach. The door is opposite me and the light streams in from the window on my right.
I feel the sting when I pee. My mother says that I slipped in the bathtub and fell on the bathtub rim. I have no memory of anything that caused the hurt, but I know I don’t believe her story of how it happened.

Fear sank claws into my stomach. I wondered what had happened and who had hurt me.

No way. Surely not. Not my father. I don’t know how to tell what’s true. I don’t want to make things up.

This was Revelation Day, the day that started me on a long journey into my past. How did it happen that a 52-year-old woman suddenly woke up to the possibility of long-ago abuse? What had kept the issues at bay so long? Why could the past now grab me by the throat?

Read the reviews!

"...this memoir is poignant, heart-wrenching and almost poetic in its prose.  Sharing with us the story through poetry, dreams and narration, we are taken upon a journey with a family that loves even though the horrors are long forgotten."

--One Day at a Time

"Ms. Rowan writes her non-fiction book like a novel. It's a book so easy to read that one has nearly finished before it's realized. I had a hard time putting it down. The hours rushed by as I was caught up in her powerful and easy prose.

One of the most intriguing and significant books of its kind I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing."

--Bookish Dame

"The River of Forgetting inspires with poetry, journal writing, and a poignant narrative. As readers follow Rowan's transformation, they too will be encouraged to find the peace and joy they deserve."

--The Book Connection

"Well-written, interesting and brutally honest. This is a book that may be difficult for some to read, but it’s also an important story to understand the consequences of sexual assault on the victim. You really must read this one!"

--Reading Frenzy

Jane Rowan is a New England poet and writer. After teaching science for three decades in a private college, she retired to pursue the creative life. She has published numerous articles and the self-help booklet Caring for the Child Within—A Manual for Grownups, available through her website and through Amazon (Kindle). An excerpt from The River of Forgetting appeared in Women Reinvented: True Stories of Empowerment and Change. Visit Jane at  and find out more about her memoir at

Monday, June 27, 2011

Talking Virtual Book Tours with Wayne Zurl, author of 'A New Prospect'

Our guest today is Wayne Zurl, author of the mystery novel, A New Prospect. Wayne is on a virtual book tour in June and July 2011 with Pump Up Your Book and we decided to ask him a few questions about virtual book tours as part of his stop at The Writer’s Life.

Thank you for this interview, Wayne. Can we start out by having you tell us briefly what your new book is about?

A NEW PROSPECT follows Sam Jenkins, a retired New York detective lieutenant as he hires on as chief of police in Prospect, Tennessee, a small city in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Sam’s first day on the job provides him with a homicide to solve. Cecil Lovejoy, a wealthy real estate developer is stabbed to death at the annual British car show.

The investigation quickly nets the chief more suspects than he ever wanted. Plus, the victim’s politically powerful widow throws a monkey wrench at the case by requesting State Detectives lead the investigation. Does she doubt Jenkins’ ability or think he’s too good at his job?

More and more authors are realizing the potential for sales that derives from virtual book tours. Can you tell us your personal reasons why you chose a virtual book tour to help get the word out about your new book?

I’ve arranged for a dozen local book signings where I’ve sold from 5 to 15 copies per event. I envisioned more action, but have been told I’m doing okay.

I admit being a dinosaur when it comes to the workings of 21st century social media, but have learned enough about it to see that conventional ways of selling a novel may be obsolete. The publicist I chose to conduct my virtual book tour showed me many positive reasons to use her service.

Is this the first time you have heard of them? If not, where did you hear of them?

I’ve heard of virtual everything going on over the Internet, but really didn’t understand the mechanics. I didn’t know a blogspot from a sunspot. This is the first time I investigated the possibility of a VBT being a good avenue to publicize my novel. Another author from a group I belong to at mentioned his VBT and it sounded interesting.

As you know, a virtual book tour involves - among other things - interviews and guest posts. Do you prefer one over the other?

I prefer an interview with good questions. I spent 20 years of my adult life testifying in court. I do well answering questions. Especially when I have them in advance; it’s almost like an open book test. But I can live with guest posts when given a few topics from which to choose a topic to write about.

Some authors prefer an all review tour. Can you tell us if you are one of them and why or why not?

So far I like the reviews I’ve gotten for A NEW PROSPECT. Who could hate 4 or 5 stars and a bunch of compliments? Everyone seems to love the story and main characters. But I think a diversification of events is the best way; reviews to get additional opinions on the story, interviews to allow readers to learn things about me, and even the guest posts provide views to other aspects of my personality. I think a writer would short change themselves with a review only tour; too impersonal.

What do you hope to achieve through promoting your book through a virtual book tour?

In the big scheme of publishing, Wayne Zurl is a virtual unknown. From all I’ve read so far, the number of people reached by these virtual tours and social media exposure is staggering.

On-line booksellers are littered with books by new authors. I need people to recognize my name and that my book was chosen as best mystery at the 2011 Independent Professional Publisher’s Book Awards. Unknown films that win an Oscar become big names. Maybe my “Indie” will make A NEW PROSPECT the SLUM DOG MILLIONNAIRE of detective novels.

Do you promote online through other means? Website? Blog?

I have a website ( and use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Author Central at Amazon,, YouTube for my promotional video,,,,,,,, and Indie Bound and January Magazine pages on Facebook.

Who maintains your website/blog?

The last time I worked with computers professionally, they were 7 feet tall. I have a computer whiz who guides me through my technophobia. He’s actually looking for a 12 step program for me to join. But he does everything I ask to keep my website looking interesting, new, and professional. He built a section I can tend myself which I call my diary. I have a mental block about saying I have a blog. It sounds like I need surgery.

What are your experiences with offline book signings? Do you have much luck selling your book through that method?

As I mentioned before, I’ve already done a dozen book signings and will continue to do more at potentially good venues. They all went well enough, but there is time and expense involved, and I sit around for 3 hours hoping to generate interest in me and my books.

Some people are funny. When they see a person sitting at a table flanked by a couple signs, they assume you’re trying to sell them something they may not want; a book, a timeshare, or some new invention that makes polishing your copper a breeze. These people scurry away without making eye contact. Other people are curious. They stop to talk and buy a book or not. I’ve met some interesting and nice people that way.

Here’s a fun question. If money were no object, how would you promote your book?

That is a fun question. As an ex-civil servant I love to spend other people’s money. So, if I didn’t have to pinch pennies, I’d hire someone to book me on a bunch of local and national network TV shows. I like public speaking and can be as charming as hell for 15 or 20 minutes if I work at it. National TV would really get the word out there.

Thank you for this interview, Wayne. Do you have any final words?

Sure, having the last word is fun, too. I think anyone who wants to read an authentic police novel, written by an ex-cop who has assembled a cast of quirky characters and allows a middle-aged guy to be the hero should buy A NEW PROSPECT.

Sorry, no vampires, zombies, or teenage werewolves—only a good old-fashioned murder solved by old-fashioned police work.

For more information about Zurl or his books, visit Follow his virtual book tour at

Connect with Wayne at Twitter at!/waynezurl or Facebook at

Check out the trailer! Love the music!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Interview with Aaron Patterson, author of 'Airel'

Aaron Patterson is the author of the bestselling WJA series as well as a two Digital Shorts 19 and The Craigslist Killer. He was homeschooled and grew up in the west. Aaron loved to read from a small child and would often be found behind a book and would read 1-3 a day on average. This love drove him to want to write but never thought he had the talent. He wrote Sweet Dreams the first book in the WJA series in 2008. Airel is his first teen series and plans for more to come are already in the works. He lives in Boise Idaho with his family, Soleil, Kale and Klayton. His daughter had an imaginary friend named She.

His latest book is Airel. You can visit his website at StoneHouse Ink or connect with him on Facebook at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Aaron. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Airel?

I have been writing for just over two years. I have two mystery/Thriller novels out and writing for the general market is fun but the teen market just spoke to me in that it is so hungry and it seems that teens are looking for good stories. I love this story and am excited to write the other books in this series.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

Airel is the Greek spelling for an angel. I wanted all the names in this book to have a meaning so each character was chosen with this in mind. I know it seems funny with the way it is spelled but I think it will make it recognizable.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Not sure what to think of this question. I wrote it, so that is good enough right? Ha, well I love writing and love telling stories. I guess I believe this novel will in some way leave the reader in a better place after reading and maybe even change them in a lasting way. How is that?

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I do not worry about what anyone else is doing and take on all the responsibility of marketing my own work. If this series becomes a hit and takes off I will be on the front end pushing it and doing everything I can. We authors need to understand that we fail and succeed based on our own hard work not what someone will do for us. I plan to do a local campaign by giving out one signed copy of Airel to one High School girl in every HS in the Boise area. From there a massive Facebook and Twitter push and give-a-way’s and things like that. We are already seeing some great movement and the feedback has been amazing.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

I guess most any teen or YA book out there. Twilight, The Fallen series. This book is different as it changes from the main character POV to a different time frame. Bouncing back between times to see the other side of the story is compelling way to tell a story. It is also written from a 17 year old girl which written by a guy in this voice will keep you intrigued. I would say to read Airel and see for yourself.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Airel is sitting in a theater watching a movie with her crush Michael. She notices that something is going on a few rows in front of her and watches as a man stabs the guy next to him, and to make matters worse he turns and looks up at her… Dun, dun, dun…

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, this is book one and book two is called Michael. I plan on this being a three to five book series.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Aaron Patterson. Do you have any final words?

If you want more information you can follow my blog: I am also on Twitter: Mstersmith and on Facebook. I respond to all fan mail so if you love the book shoot me a message and if you hate it send me some hate mail. Thanks so much and keep reading.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Interview with Michael Scott Miller, author of 'Ladies and Gentlemen...The Redeemers'

Michael Scott Miller works with numbers by day in the business world and with words by night. He began writing shortly after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and has had his work published in the Welcomat (now Philadelphia Weekly) and wrote music reviews for the Wharton Journal while his wife was getting her degree there.

Miller’s debut novel, Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers, has been downloaded more than ten thousand times and has received tremendously positive reader feedback, earning 4-star to 5-star ratings at Amazon,, Smashwords, and Kobo. The complete set of reader reviews and comments can be accessed at .

Miller grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and now lives in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania with his wife and three children.

You can visit Michael Scott Miller’s website at or connect with him on Twitter at or Facebook at!/profile.php?id=1206880325.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Michael. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers?

I made my first attempt at novel writing in high school but never got past the first few chapters. I still have the typewriter-produced pages and once in a long while, I stumble across them in my file cabinet and read them nostalgically.

The first spark of an idea for Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers came to me about ten years ago when I was riding the train into center city Philadelphia for my job at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. As I walked through Suburban Station, I would routinely see singers or musicians performing in the corridors. I began to wonder what would happen if someone gathered together these seemingly destitute folks and molded them into a musical act. Could they come together with a music industry promoter and be turned into a successful band?

This thought stayed with me trip after trip, until it finally struck me that while I might not have the necessary skills to form and promote a musical act, the idea might make for an interesting tale.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

Initially, I thought the name of the book and the band would be the Subway Surfers, comprised solely of musicians recruited from the subway corridors. However, as I developed the story line, it became apparent that the story would work more effectively if the characters had a greater diversity of backgrounds and baggage, which ultimately led to the concept of the Redeemers.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

For starters, it’s different and not easily categorized. It’s a character-driven story about a down and out music promoter, the disparate musicians he brings together, and their developing realization of just how much they have to gain from one another.

When I received my first review that wasn’t from a friend or relative and she said, “This is the most entertaining story I've read in a long time,” I knew I was onto something.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

As an indie author, the promotion has really all been on me. My initial goal was to get the novel into as many hands as possible and get some reviews, so I posted the book for free at more than twenty websites including Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, goodreads, kobo,, and my own website. I also published the novel at Amazon’s Kindle Store for the minimum price of $0.99. With this approach, the book was downloaded more than ten thousand times. I have since priced the book at $0.99 everywhere, along with a paperback version through Amazon at $7.95.

With regard to promotion, my efforts have largely involved social media with the mantra of creating a presence everywhere that I can. This includes interacting with and requesting reviews from book bloggers, participating in online reader/writer communities such as Kindle Boards, Nookboards, BestsellerBound, and goodreads, and interacting through Twitter, facebook, and LinkedIn. I’ve also sent out press releases broadly, as well as media kits to local newspapers and alternative weeklies. The book will be featured in Montgomery Newspapers (a local weekly with a circulation of 40,000+) in the coming months. In addition, I maintain my own website for the book, which I created through Weebly.

I’m also very excited about my virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. My novel and I are appearing on 15-20 websites throughout June with a combination of book blogger reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways, including copies of the book and author-autographed drum sticks.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

I’ve heard comparisons to The Commitments, which is natural I suppose, given that the story surrounds a mythical band with a heavy dose of internal conflict. The story line is quite different, but all in all, it’s a comparison I would gladly accept.

What I’ve heard most from readers regarding what makes the book special is how real the story feels and the emotional bond that readers form with the characters in the story.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Page 73. Bert, the former music promoter, Charlie, the card shark saxophone player, and Dave, the classically trained piano teacher, are stalking Ethan, the guitarist and UC Berkeley student that Bert and Charlie met several days prior in a San Francisco BART station. Ethan has rebuffed their overtures, treating the two as nothing but a pair of subway derelicts. Along with Dave, the men have now come to The Grind, the college coffeehouse where Ethan plays guitar on Friday nights, in the hopes of performing for him to demonstrate their serious intention. The musicians are almost comically out of place, aging men in an establishment filled with college students.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely. Readers have asked about a sequel, but I don’t think that works. Ladies and Gentlemen…The Redeemers ends right where I want it to.

I’m starting to sketch out an idea I’ve had for awhile about a very different story, still character-driven, but I’m not ready to say more about it yet. I think it’s one of those writer’s superstition things.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Michael. Do you have any final words?

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I’m touched and flattered by my readers, and thankful to them for making me feel like I’ve given something back to the entertainment world.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Interview with Lynda Simmons 'I'm finally where I always wanted to be'

Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her – like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

Her latest book is Island Girl.

You can visit her website at or connect with her on Twitter at!/LyndaMSimmons and Facebook at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Lynda. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Island Girl?

My first novel, Marrying Well, was published in 1997 through Silhouette Books and I went on to write 6 more romantic comedies for Harlequin and Kensington. While I enjoyed every one of them, I did feel boxed in by the necessity to create always-likeable characters, and to keep the focus on the male/female relationship.

Too often, the relationship between the mother and daughter, or the sisters or the best friends was far more interesting than anything that was going on between the man and the woman. Sex is all well and good, but sooner or later your characters have to get out of bed, and that’s when things can definitely sag.

I found myself constantly editing out subplots that were overshadowing the main story, and shelving characters who were loud and flawed and a lot more intriguing than those always-likeable heroines.

I longed to tell a different kind of story and as luck would have it, in 2002, my agent retired, the line I was writing for folded and the editor I’d been working with moved to a non-fiction publishing house. Instead of seeing this as a run of bad luck, I decided it was the universe shoving me into the future, telling me quite clearly that it was time to give those other stories a shot.

Getting Rid of Rosie, a comedy about betrayal, revenge and female friendship, was my first step into the mainstream, and Island Girl is my final step away from the relative safety of the romance shelves into the deep dark woods of general fiction.

While I’m finally where I have always wanted to be, I know it’s a lot easier for my books to get lost in those woods, with all two copies shelved spine-out next to the full facings of Kings, Browns and Rowlings. But when I ask myself, would I go back? The answer is always a definitive no.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

Interesting you should ask. The publisher didn’t like my title choice at first. They felt it was misleading, that people would assume the book was set in the Caribbean or Hawaii, but that was precisely why I liked it. The title not only turns the stereotype on its head, it also lets everyone know that the city of Toronto has its very own Island Girls.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Alzheimer’s is a devastating illness that touches more and more lives every year, and contrary to what some folks would have you believe, there is nothing even vaguely karmic about it. This disease doesn’t care who you are or what you did or how much money you have. Big Al is an equal opportunity thug, and unlike vampires, he doesn’t need an invitation to walk into your life.

My family has been dealing with Alzheimer’s for over fifteen years, and in speaking with other caregivers and families during that time, two questions came to mind over and over again: Do you have to forgive someone a lifetime of sins just because they have Alzheimer’s? And who has the right to control your future?

I knew I wanted to explore these questions and more, and what better way than in a work of fiction? A story where a fiercely independent woman like Ruby Donaldson, who wasn’t always a good mother and can be decidedly unlikable on the best of days, finds her independence threatened in the worst possible way, and must now face both of those questions head on: does she deserve forgiveness? And who will control her future?

I knew going into this project that the subject matter and the characters were controversial, and that just like Ruby, not everyone was going to like it. But the issues are real, and won’t go away simply because we refuse to face them. With Island Girl, I wanted to take a realistic, no-holds barred look at Alzheimer’s, alcoholism and mental acuity with a story that is at times dark and at others hilarious, and let the reader decide who was right, and who was wrong.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

The publisher sent out ARCs and press releases. I hired a publicist and took on virtual book tours such as this one. I also do bookstore signings, library readings and talks on writing to various groups. Anything at all that will bring Island Girl to readers’ attention!

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

The obvious comparison is Still Alice, but other than the fact that they both deal with a woman with early on-set Alzheimer’s, the books are nothing alike. Told in three first person viewpoints, Island Girl is about family, friends and the nature of love when hard choices have to be made.

Ruby is no one’s idea of a perfect mother. She snoops, she lies and she always believes she’s right. As a result, she is estranged from her older daughter, Liz, an aspiring alcoholic who blames her mother for the mess their family has become and for the fact that Grace is a virtual prisoner on the Island. Accustomed to getting exactly what she wants, Ruby quickly discovers that forgiveness is not a right and cannot be demanded. It has to be freely given, but Liz isn’t about to do anything that will make her mother happy. Ruby always thought she’d have a lifetime to make things right, but suddenly time is running out.

Island Girl has been described as everything from a difficult read, to this summer’s must-read. The only common denominator is the emotional reaction this book elicits in a reader. You might love Ruby, or you might hate her, but the one thing you will never be is indifferent!

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Ruby’s daughter Liz is standing outside Fran’s restaurant in downtown Toronto. She’s dressed in her Donut King uniform, complete with fetching hairnet, watching her mother through the glass. She knows Ruby has seen her, and Ruby knows Liz has seen her too, but neither one will make the first move. It’s a very telling scene, capturing the essence of both women and their struggle for control.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m always planning. It’s just a matter of what the publisher is buying! Right now I’m working on a black comedy which is new for me. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Lynda. Do you have any final words?

Buy the book? Those words work for me! Cheers.

Interview with Julia Madeleine: 'I published independently so all the publicity is up to me'

Julia Madeleine is the youngest daughter of Irish immigrant parents from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Born in Canada and raised in a small town in southern-western Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron, Julia honed her duel passions for art and fiction writng from the time she was old enough to hold a crayon. As a teenager she moved to Toronto and graduated in Media Writing from Sheridan College. She wrote for a number of entertainment magazines, while spending all her free time writing fiction, and then in 2000, her passion for art led her, quite by accident, into a career in the tattoo industry.

Home for Julia is Mississauga, where she lives with her husband and teenaged (future tattoo artist) daughter. For a year she lived in the country on a 30-acre property in the middle of nowhere, which became the inspiration for her second novel, No One To Hear You Scream. Currently she is working on the sequel to her first thriller, Scarlet Rose (2008) which will be released sometime in the fall of 2011.

You can visit her website at or her blog at Connect with Julia at Facebook at!

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Julia. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, No One To Hear You Scream?

I’ve been writing fiction since I was in my teens. I decided around the age of eighteen that I wanted to write a book. My first manuscript was a really bad horror novel that I wrote long hand, actually printed every word in pen (I’ve always had an aversion to cursive writing). Back than I was reading a lot of Stephen King, so he was quite an influence as I’m sure he was with generations of writers.

I wrote my latest book, No One To Hear You Scream, after my experience buying a country house in foreclosure and being stalked by the former owner, still angry over losing his house.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

When we moved to the country, it felt like we were so far removed from civilization that I used to say to my husband, “there’s no one to hear you scream out here.” So it seemed quite fitting to use that saying as a title because the family in my story are city people who’ve moved to the country and feel a profound sense of isolation and vulnerability living out in the middle of nowhere.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Because it’s good and scary as hell. It’s the kind of book I would want to read.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I published independently so all the publicity is up to me.

So far I’ve arranged a blog tour, sent out a lot of review copies, put an ad on Goodreads and did a book giveaway.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

I like to describe my book as Stuart Neville’s The Ghosts Of Belfast meets the classic noir thriller, Cape Fear. What makes it unique is the lethal alliance that forms between the main characters. Justine Jameson is a seventeen-year-old single mother who’s moved home with her parents, and experiencing post partum psychosis. When she hooks up with the former owner of their house, Rory Madden, a violent Irish ex-gang member just released from incarceration, the two plot the murder of her parents.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Page 61. Rory is sitting in the office of his former lawyer after being release from pre-trial custody. His lawyer has stolen a large sum of cash that Rory had hidden in his house after getting busted in a drug raid. Now he’s come to reclaim his money, and he’s brought a Remington12-gauge pump action shotgun as persuasion.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Most definitely. I’m currently working on another thriller that’s scaring the hell out of me. It’s about a young woman on the trail of a serial killer.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Julia. Do you have any final words?

Check out Goodreads for a book giveaway I’ve got going on until July 16th: I’d also like to share my awesome book trailer in which my husband is doing the vocals to one of his original songs:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pump Up Your Book Announces L.L. Reaper's 'Black Widow and the Sandman Virtual Book Tour '

Pump Up Your Book is proud to announce LL Reaper's Black Widow and the Sandman Virtual Book Tour which begins June 20 and ends August 12 2011.

L.L. Reaper is two multi-published, award-winning authors who decided to write under a pen name for their dangerously sexy suspense series, Black Widow and the Sandman. Black Widow and the Sandman begins with children in Cuba suffering an agonizing death. The cause, a toxin released by a terrorist organization hell bent on genocide. The scientific community is at a loss, and the Cuban government can no longer hide the truth from its citizens. Cuba’s only chance lies in the capable hands of a reclusive scientist from the country they believe is behind this terrorist attack, the United States of America. Roman “The Sandman ” Tate is the most sought after mercenary in the world. When he is ordered to protect scientist Jeanette “Black Widow ” Mason, he finds she is much more than scientific equations. The two join forces to create an antidote and stop those responsible for the mysterious illness before more children die and Cuba follows through on its promise to retaliate.

Midwest Book Reviews says, "As genocide looms, hope may come in what you believe to be the enemy. “Black Widow and the Sandman” follows Roman Tate, a mercenary called the Sandman, as he protects Cuba’s only hope against a deadly biological weapon, an American scientist Jeanette Mason. A riveting novel of action, adventure and terrorism, “Black Widow and the Sandman” is a fun read that will be hard to pit down.”

Join the writing team as they tour the blogosphere June 20 through August 12 promoting their book. You'll be able to find out more about the authors as well as winning free copies of their thriller suspense novel, Black Widow and the Sandman. Don't forget to stop by and chat with them personally at the Facebook party at the end of the month. To find out where they'll be heading, check out their tour schedule at Stop by and say hello. They love their fans as well as hearing from them!

You can visit L.L. Reaper's official website at or connect with them at Twitter at and Facebook at

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book publicity for authors looking for maximum online promotion to sell their books. Visit our website at to find out how we can take your book to the virtual level!

Friday, June 17, 2011

TWL Chats with Neil Cullan McKinlay - Author of From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice

Neil Cullan McKinlay is the author of From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice. Born to Scottish parents Neil came into the world in 1956 on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. When Neil was three his mother and father took the “high road” to the southern bank of Loch Lomond, Scotland where he grew up. With Scottish accent well-rehearsed he moved back to Canada just before his twenty-first birthday. Sick of shoveling snow he then migrated to sunny Australia some thirteen years later. Neil is married and has three married daughters. He is a Presbyterian minister and a part time Army Chaplain.

Please visit his “Snow On the Ben” website:

Or his “Snow Off the Ben” Blog:

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Neil. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: I’m now in my mid-fifties and have been married to Dorothy for thirty years. I have one grandchild, a grandson, and another about to be born. I have a varied background, e.g., I once was a marine plumber, a domestic plumber, a railway pipefitter, and then a Presbyterian Minister and an Army Chaplain. I have lived for many years in Scotland, then Canada, then mainland Australia, then Tasmania, then mainland Australia again. Dorothy and I have raised three daughters who are all now married. Therefore I have a wide resource of life-experience material to dip into to assist me in my writing endeavors.

My own mother used to coax me to write when I was growing up. Then for years I would write song lyrics to tunes I would strum on my guitar. However, it was probably only within the last ten years or so that I seriously considered myself as an aspiring writer. I was asked by an editor of a writer’s magazine in Australia if I’d like to contribute every month to his magazine, which I did and still do. Also, not long after starting that I began giving my congregation in Tasmania copies of my sermons. Writing tends to be more formal than speaking, but in my writings I have tried to blend my speaking voice with my writing voice.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: My From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice is a memoir of sorts. It records my journey into Freemasonry as part of my serious quest to find God and the meaning of life. Believe it or not, I thought that God was hiding and perhaps could be found in the Lodge, what, with all their supposed secrets.

There are also elements of a travelogue in my book as I relate illustrative incidents from Scotland, Canada, and Australia (including Tasmania). So my book is a geographical, philosophical, and theological journey. But most of all it is a spiritual journey that ends with God. It is in three parts, viz., Pre-Masonry, Masonry, and Ministry.

King Solomon and his Temple are a big part of Freemasonry and also of my book. I draw analogies between the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, and Solomon’s Temple, all of which, though real, are types or pictures of Christ’s Kingdom to come. My book is peppered with little anecdotes about the flora and fauna of Scotland, Canada, and Australia, all of which serve to illustrate the little glimpses I was getting of God while on my spiritual journey. In these things I was seeing Him watching me through the window, i.e., through the lattice (Song of Solomon 2:9).

There is also much symbolism in the rituals and furniture in the Masonic Lodge. The Bible is quoted from abundantly. The reader will be engaged in some of the aspects of Freemasonry that served to drive me to a deeper search for God. I was awarded a Bible by my Lodge as a reward and recognition for presenting papers I had written as a result of my Masonic studies. It was through reading this Bible that I was converted.

I wanted to share my life experiences with others in the hope that they too would be drawn to seek God and find Him in Jesus Christ. From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice details my exciting journey from darkness to light.

What kind of research was involved in writing From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice?

A: The research mostly involved double checking theological concepts against the Bible and Bible Commentaries and other theological books. These varied from researching Adam and the Garden of Eden, Noah and Noah’s Ark, Solomon and Solomon’s Temple, to Christ and His future Kingdom. I researched the similarities among these, which is to say that the previous three are types of Christ and His Kingdom.

Then I also researched certain aspects of Freemasonry. Is the God of Freemasonry the Christian God, i.e., the Triune God? And if so, how can Freemasonry accommodate e.g., Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, etc., who obviously do not worship the Triune God? I also had to research the main differences between York Rite and Scottish Rite Masonry. These two rites are open to Master Masons who want to further their Masonic education. Is one of these rites more “Christian” than the other?

I also had to research things like US presidents, Australian Prime Ministers, National Anthems, explorers, historical characters, geographical locations etc. Yes, a great deal of research has gone into the writing of From Mason To Minister!

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A: I think I’m like most writers, I write because I love it. To become a published author is to receive recognition. It is reassuring to know that one is not delusional! The road to becoming published did have one or two bumps on it! I was comforted by the knowledge that Robert M Pirsig’s bestselling Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was knocked back something like 122 times before it was published!

I had a small publisher knock back my From Mason To Minister. It didn’t fit with the types of books they were dealing with. However, they made me think that I really had a great book by the compliments they passed about it. So, it seemed to me that I only needed to find the right publisher.

I sent my manuscript to Nordskog Publishing who gave positive feedback, but wondered who might read a book such as mine. I think anyone with an interest in Christianity, Freemasonry, including those who wish to know what the founding fathers of America were doing in the Lodge, will read and enjoy my book.

I must admit that I was quite naïve to what goes into publishing a book, cover design, proofreading, editing, choosing font size and style etc. The team at Nordskog Publishing Inc. were really patient with me when things got up and running.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

A: It was supposed to be done within a year, but actually took just over a year and a half. There was a glitch with the cover-design. The original cover was to be a modification of a design my artist brother had come up with. However, his computer program crashed and the whole thing had to be scrapped. So, it took us a while to come up with a new cover-design that was pleasing to all concerned. Then we decided to go hardcover instead of paperback which stalled things a bit more. But I am really happy with the final product!

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: No, I don’t have an agent. Not having had one, I wouldn’t know if it is necessary to have one! However, it would seem logical that a good agent would be greater asset than no agent!

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes, I already have other manuscripts that are in need of suitable publishers. They are mostly theological in nature. Therefore that would no doubt restrict them to Christian publishers. They have the titles of Demystifying the Gospel, The Nexus: The True Nature of Nature, Are All Who Die In Infancy saved?

However, at the moment I am having a bit of fun working on a Christian novel of the historical fiction genre called A Stick In Time. It’s about Saint Patrick’s Staff as it travels with twenty-one year old twin men from Ireland in the 1600s to Outback Australia today – where there is a beautiful woman who lives in a town in which people age very slowly. I love writing this because it is like watching a movie in which I get to write what happens next!

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: Most of From Mason To Minister was written while I was living in beautiful Tasmania. Our home was on the slope of a hill overlooking a valley and a bay that was part of the River Derwent. Also in the view was Mount Wellington with other mountains (often snowcapped) off in the distance. I suppose it’s corny, but I found the view from my window to be very inspiring. It helped in that it reminded me of the lochs and mountains of Scotland, some of which are mentioned in my book.

I do tend to pace up and down when I am trying to gather my thoughts or think something through, though essentially I am tied to my computer terminal in my study. However, since moving from Tasmania to Queensland I now also like to sit in my backyard with my laptop. However, my most favorite place to write is in a room with a view. I just wish I had one…

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A: I don’t think you could go far wrong with a television ad. It would also be good if you could get someone to hold it up in a movie. Your book’s a bestseller if Oprah Winfrey or Glen Beck endorses it, so I would supply a box-load to give away to the audience! I guess huge billboards along the motorway might help or ads on the sides or backs of city buses. A blimp in the sky? The sky’s the limit when you are all cashed up!

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

A: The downside to self-promotion is that it is the promotion of self! The dilemma for me is, who is going to know about From Mason To Minister unless I tell them? Does this make me sound like a brag? Regardless, I’ve mentioned it in my Blog and I’ve mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter and post reviews whenever they come up. From Mason To Minister: Through the Lattice is also advertised on my Website.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

A: I love writing. Therefore I wasn’t writing with publishing in mind. But I can see writers give up their dream to become published on account of how hard it is to find a publisher who will accept unsolicited manuscripts. Even if by the off chance you do find one that will actually accept your “masterpiece” it can take months and months before you hear back from them. And then if the answer is no, it’s back to square one. Most disheartening!

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

A: I don’t think we should give up. Unlike the old days, we can now surf the Web to find publishers of the type who would be suited to run with your book’s genre. I love writing, but I’m not overjoyed about trying to talk up my work to publishers, but the bottom line is that this is necessary part of the whole process – if you wish to be published.

Thank you for your interview, Neil. I wish you much success!

A: No, it is I that should thank you for this lovely interview!

TWL Chats with Neil Cullan McKinlay -

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Interview with Carole Waterhouse, author of 'The Tapestry Baby'

A creative writing professor at California University of Pennsylvania, Carole Waterhouse is the author of two novels, The Tapestry Baby and Without Wings, and a collection of short stories, The Paradise Ranch.

Her fiction has appeared in Arnazella, Artful Dodge, Baybury Review, Ceilidh, Eureka Literary Magazine, Forum, Half Tones to Jubilee, Massachusetts Review, Minnetonka Review, Oracle: The Brewton-Parker College Review, Parting Gifts, Pointed Circle, Potpourri, Seems, Spout, The Armchair Aesthete, The Griffin, The Styles, Tucumari Literary Review, Turnrow, and X-Connect.

A previous newspaper reporter, she has published essays in an anthology, Horse Crazy: Women and the Horses They Love, and Equus Spirit Magazine. Her book reviews have appeared in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Press, and The New York Times Book Review.

Her latest novel is The Tapestry Baby, a novel depicting a mother who believes her child is born to fulfill some special destiny and discovers her life is intertwined with six other people, raising the question of whether any of us really control our own decisions, and through the process learns that greatness can be defined in the simplest of gestures.

You can visit Carole’s website at

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Carole. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Tapestry Baby?

I’ve written my entire life, starting with stories about my pets as a child. I always loved books and wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I started publishing work in literary magazines when I was in graduate school and wrote for newspapers. The Tapestry Baby was largely a result of the high I felt after getting my fist novel, Without Wings, published. It may be my most spontaneous piece of work. Every detail I saw, every person I met and every conversation I heard seemed to work its way into this book. I completely immersed myself into this world I had created for a year while I wrote it and didn’t fully come back to my real life until it was complete.

I love your title. Can you tell us why you chose it?

The main character, Karin, becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with a mysterious tattooed man. All during her pregnancy she imagines her baby will be born with skin that is a mixture of colors. I used the word “tapestry” to describe the effect, because I wanted the image to be beautiful, something full of wonder and potential. The different colors suggest Karin’s hopes and dreams for her baby, the way every prospective parent imagines the unique life in store for their child, their hope that they achieve greatness in whatever way that ends up being defined.

Why did you believe your book should be published?

I think I succeeded in writing something that is entertaining and unique in structure, yet still accessible. I used to be a big figure-skating fan and always remember Dick Button saying that a great figure skater was one who in some way moved the sport forward, made a contribution that was unique and redefined what skating could be. That’s a pretty lofty goal and I’m not going to suggest that my novel even begins to do anything like that for literature. It is playful, though, and takes some risks, and wants to be a little different from what is already out there.

We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I’m with a small press and realized from the start that I’d need to be heavily involved in promoting my work. Zumaya has been very good about sending out review copies, locating websites and blogs where work can be promoted and offering advice to authors. Because of my work at the university and my own past experience with newspapers, my books always receive a lot of local press coverage, and I am working with a publicist who has been organizing a virtual book tour. I’ve also relied extensively on all kinds of social media to connect with readers.

What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Rather than a book, the best comparison that comes to mind is a German film from the late 1980’s called Run, Lola Run. It shows the same sequence of events occurring over and over again in altered forms, focusing on how a slight difference here or there in our encounters with people can have a major impact on their outcome. This is the same general theme The Tapestry Baby addresses, how we end up affecting each other’s lives in ways we can never fully comprehend. Two random people sitting on a bus can have a conversation about an attractive building they pass that ends up influencing someone else to become an architect, or someone spilling a milkshake on a sidewalk can cause someone else to slip, then meet the love of their life in the emergency room. Both works approach this idea with a similar sense of humor. The Tapestry Baby is a little more complex because of the number of characters and the less obvious way their stories are intertwined. I like to compare the structure to the child’s game of gossip where a line is passed from person to person to the point where it becomes unrecognizable, only in this case, it’s a whole sequence of events.

Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Reggie is having his fortune told by Clarissa, but Lydia’s ghost is there in the room with them and keeps interrupting. Lydia is a younger version of Mrs. Brown, and while Reggie knows she isn’t really dead, he is still haunted by her in ghost form because of the way he inadvertently hurt her in the past.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m already working on my next novel, which is about a contemporary woman named Sylvia who becomes fascinated with the Empress Elisabeth of Austria and begins to see parallels between their lives. Sissi, as Elisabeth was called, appears before Sylvia and helps her to reassess her life. They take off on a journey together through Europe exploring Elisabeth’s past in hope of finding a solution to questions Sylvia is dealing with in her present.

Thank you for your interview, Carole. Do you have any final words?

I just want to thank you for taking the time to interview me. More information about me and my book is available at my website, and my book blog