Author Bits and Interviews

An Interview with Karla Tipton

Dangerous Reflections
by Karla Tipton

ISBN 978-1502812377
Createspace, $18.99 

Kindle Direct Publishing, $1.99
January 27, 2015
Thank you for dropping by for this interview. I just love time travel books and I am sure many of my readers will be interested in seeing something new and something old that they may have missed.  

Friends, Karla Tipton has two time travel books that should be of interest: Dangerous Reflections and Rings of Passage.  But I know you are here to read the interview so on with it.

First,  Dangerous Reflections is an Edwardian London-based story about a graduate student who travels through time to help save her dying grandmother. What inspired you to write a time travel book that features mystery and magic?

I’ve always written stories with time travel and paranormal elements since elementary school. The time travel element was most likely inspired by watching the gothic TV soap, Dark Shadows, and Christopher Lee vampire movies. My mother handed me a collection of Edgar Allen Poe short stories when I was about 10. She hoped I would learn the dangers of keeping secrets from The Tale-Tell Heart. But what really caught my attention was the plot device of having a dismembered murder victim buried under the floorboards.

Dangerous Reflections came about after I discovered the Harry Potter books in the early 2000s, when J.K. Rowling was still writing book 5 out of 7. Losing myself in “Potterverse” helped me escape my day-to-day life, inspired my hope, and stirred my creative imagination. I began writing fan fiction based in that world, and when my stories earned over a thousand positive reviews on a fanfic website, I decided to develop a magical world of my own. Whereas Rowling’s magic world was entirely imaginary, mine is set against the backdrop of history.

I remember running home from school so that I could catch Dark Shadows.  The only soap I ever watched. Love, loved it. I was a fan of Poe as well and the Tale Tell Heart was one of the best.

 Your first novel, Rings of Passage, is also a time-travel novel about King Richard III. How did writing that novel contribute to the story in Dangerous Reflections?

I wrote Rings of Passage, which features Richard III as the romantic hero, about 20 years ago. In the mid-1990s, Rings of Passage was agented and pitched to New York publishing houses, but at that time, romance publishers weren’t interested in books that blended romance, time travel, fantasy and history all in one. When Richard III’s skeleton was excavated from under a parking lot in England in 2012, I dusted off my novel, updated it, and sold it to a small e-publisher, LazyDay. It seemed miraculous to me that the medieval king I had written a novel about so long ago was suddenly all over the news. Richard’s reburial in Leicester Cathedral was scheduled for March 26, 2015.

Although the magical conventions are different in Rings of Passage and Dangerous Reflections, there are definitely similarities. Themes that always seem to appear in my novels are that soul mates do exist and that destiny can be altered if the love is strong enough.

Another similarity between my two novels is my incorporation of the Philosopher’s Stone, a magical substance produced by alchemists, who were ancient sorcerer-scientists. In Rings of Passage, the magical rings are made of it. In Dangerous Reflections, it’s the substance the heroine seeks to heal her sick grandmother and father.

 What other background and experience do you have as a writer that led to you trying your hand as a novelist?

I began writing fiction at about age 9. I was inspired by paranormal stories early on, and one of my first short stories was about zombies created by voodoo. I continued to write fiction, but became involved in the rock music scene as a listener, bedroom musician, and observer of trends. I enjoyed the writing styles of rock journalists such as Lester Bangs, and decided I wanted to write about the music. I joined my high school newspaper so I could publish my rock concert reviews, and went to college for a journalism degree. After graduating from Kent State University in Ohio, I took a job at the Antelope Valley Press in California. In addition to writing historical feature articles about the local area and residents, I continued developing my rock journalism chops by interviewing musicians and reviewing albums and concerts that took place in nearby Los Angeles. Many of my articles are posted on my website.

So you went out and got the education to support your passion. I find many good writers have written since they were quite young. Sometimes I think that if you are born to write , you write no matter what. It is always nice when people back up the passion with education.

 There are strong elements of romance in both of your novels. How did you develop the male love interests’ characters and are they based on any individuals that you know personally?

The male love interests in my stories truly are built upon my imagination and my ideal dream lovers, not on any real person or relationship I’ve ever had. Don’t I wish! I do like antiheroes, and both male leads are haunted by darkness and self-loathing within. They are curmudgeonly bad boys with hearts of gold. It’s a favorite archetype of mine. I also like dark-haired English guys with long noses. Go figure.

I think most of us like a little bad boy in our good men.

What do you find the most fascinating about the fantasy, historical, romance, and time-travel genres?

It’s the blending of the fantasy, historical, romance and time travel genres that I enjoy most. I “genre-bend” without even trying. Writing a formula romance? Now that’s hard. Really hard.

When writing romance, it’s developing the relationship dynamics between two characters that is the most gratifying for me. When life throws them a curve ball, or they find themselves in incredible circumstances, or under extreme pressure, I like to see the extreme lengths of courage and strength they can muster.

Sounds like your characters lead the story.  I have found the best writers, at least the ones I like, let the characters show the story, reveling their true nature as the story unfolds.

 What would you like readers to remember about you and your books?

I want readers to be moved by my themes of sacrificing for love, and how trust between lovers is hard won but easily lost through betrayal, or perceived betrayal. There’s the idea in all my novels that soul mates might be destined for each other, but not necessarily destined to be together. The world is a harsh place, and external forces can keep two lovers separated no matter how right they might be for one another.

I also want readers to be so gripped by the plot twists and cliffhangers in my novels that they stay up too late, totally engrossed, and are sleepy all the next day at work, but never doubt that it was totally worth it.

Yes, those are the books we remember for years, aren't they.

 Are you working on a new novel and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

I’m working on a novel called Potionality Crisis. It’s a modern day tale and does not involve time travel. The story revolves around two scientists: the hero, Silas, is a curmudgeonly yet sexy university professor and chemist renowned for developing natural healing compounds, of which the patents are sold to fund the university. The heroine Ellie is his graduate student assistant with a secret: Her mother is a witch and Ellie, too, practices magic. Ellie’s professional aspiration is to merge magical methods of healing with the hard scientific techniques that Silas is famous for. But Silas has a secret, too – one that he is not even aware of himself.

That sounds intriguing. We will have to keep an eye out for it.

Thank you again for stopping by. I'm looking forward to more books from you.

 Readers, be sure to try out one of these lovely books.

Read more about Karla Tipton:


Revenge of the Pond Scum interview:

Revenge of the Pond Scum' is a delicious title, don't you think? Well, maybe delicious isn't exactly the word you would used for anything to do with scum but I thought delectable was going a bit too far. Still, the title got me interested and the funny, flowing, clear writing kept me engaged.  Today I have an interview with the fascinating author, Kenn Amdahl. I'm sure, after you read the interview, you will have a clear idea of his wonderful writing style and will want to have one of his books for your own. The good news is most are available in ebook form.

Long ago I read a science fiction short story about a crew sent on a mission far from earth.  I don't remember the writer's name nor the title of the story but the plot ideas have long stuck with me. Everyone on the crew had a specific job and expertise from the biologist to the engineer - everyone except one person. The young man stewed and stewed about the fact that, genius that he was, he didn't have a 'job' or a reason to be on the ship. Then one day the crew ran into a problem none could solve even with all their knowledge. It was then the young man's role became clear as he took what he learned from the engineer, the physicist, the biologist, and others to come up with a solution. Reading Amdahl's book reminded me of this science fiction short story. He was the one who didn't have a job on the crew but, in the end, he might be the most critical person of all - Amdahl or someone like him. I am not surprised at some of the responses Kenn Amdahl got from those working on the diseases he were researching.
Available from Amazon or ClearWater Publishing
Thank you, Kenn, for agreeing to this interview.  I know being a researcher, writer and publisher can take most of your time.

Vital Signs, a section of Discovery Magazine, is one of my favorite parts.  Your book had the feel of these folksy medical mystery stories. Did you develop that for this book or are all your books written in the same everyday language tone as "Revenge of the Pond Scum"?

I usually write in a conversational style. Generous people like yourself describe my writing as  "folksy;" others might call it "smart alecky" or "wisecracky."  Pond Scum really is a medical mystery, so I'm pleased it seemed that way to you.

Most of my books try to explain dull subjects in an easier and more fun way; it makes sense to keep the writing livelier than the textbooks I compete with. Once I finally understand something, it's not hard to explain it in simple terms. When we feel a little foggy about an idea, we hedge our language. If you're the head of the Federal Reserve trying to explain a multi-trillion dollar economy that no one understands, you toss out phrases like "over exuberant quantitative easing" and hope everyone else is as confused as you are so they don't ask a follow-up question. If you're a boy trying to explain the way you feel about a girl, you start talking about moonbeams and rose petals cascading down the rainbows of your imagination. When you talk about something you actually understand, you say it simply, like this: "Your spark plug's loose. Tighten it." 

Of course, we all modify our style depending on the mission. There's a site where you can paste some of your writing and the algorithm calculates what famous writer you most resemble. It decided my unpublished science fiction novel is like Arthur Clark. The intro to "Revenge of the Pond Scum" is apparently in the style of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. My funny contemporary mystery, "Jumper and the Bones"  reminded the site of Dan Brown. I'm pretty sure Dan would be insulted by that.

I'd like to try that site myself!

What kind of response did  "Revenge of the Pond Scum" receive from the science community?

The response has been gratifying.  I asked leading experts to review chapters about their specialties. Derrick Lonsdale, M.D., retired from the Cleveland Clinic, actually called me on the phone to talk about thiamine. He's written four books on the subject and was quite excited about my project. Gary Gibson of the Weil College of Medicine at Cornell University was very kind. I had a nice exchange with a legendary world pioneer in iodine research. A guy whose nonprofit coordinates the ALS research of 20 universities said my book "helped him think about ALS." I've had great email exchanges with experts on bats, ethnobotany, fungi and vitamins. Each of them also gently corrected any errors in my own thinking. 

Regular readers have said nice things as well, although that feedback has been limited so far. Unlike most of my books, I released this first as an electronic book and haven't put out a paper version.  Most of my mail comes from readers recently affected by one of the diseases I talk about. They usually say they found the book a useful place to start educating themselves and appreciate that it isn't somber and depressing. Other people just like all the weird scientific tidbits they learned.

I enjoyed the science tidbits but I also know someone who recently died of ALS so that part was also interesting.

Why did you release it as an e-book? 

I decided to do the kindle version before the paper version for several reasons. First, Amazon allows an author to set up a few free days, and I used those to get the book into the hands of hundreds of researchers. If there was anything useful in the book I wanted to make sure they could find it easily. Conversely, if there was anything wrong, I knew they'd let me know. Second, it's much easier to make corrections in an e-book. I didn't want to print thousands of copies of a paper book and then discover it contained some factual error that everyone missed.

I can understand the easy edit part. I used to do my writing on a typewriter.  So glad my blog is electronic!

How long did the research take you? 

The project took about two years. 

Was all your research done from your home and on your computer? 

No, but much of it was.  A friend came down with a disease similar to ALS; I wanted to understand it.  Like everyone else, I started  with Google and Wikipedia and moved on from there. It became a bit of an obsession. I kept notes about what I learned and those notes morphed into the book. Although I did most of the research on the Internet, I also read several books. Often these were obscure or expensive and I had my local library get them for me. I read two fascinating but difficult books on bats, one on the history of iodine deficiency, one on the cycad tree of Guam, a couple on fungus and mushrooms. Other books -- for example, two about epidemics and one about life in the canopies of trees -- that I happened to read when I didn't think I was researching wound up influencing the book as well. 

But the Internet was critical. A couple of incidents made me realize how powerful it's become. The head of Oregon Health Universities, a world renowned researcher, agreed to read a chapter about his specialty  to check my facts. When he first responded to my email, he was in Beijing giving a talk at a conference. Along with his initial reply, he graciously attached a copy of a paper he'd published three weeks earlier describing his studies of an unexplored role of a certain kind of toxin. (Briefly: besides merely killing cells, "excitotoxins" can alter the DNA of surviving cells, particularly nerve cells). It was so new he figured I probably hadn't seen it yet. But actually, I already had seen it, read it, and had incorporated his new findings in the book. On the other end of the scale, the same week, I was also able to read a book published in the 1890s on raising mushrooms, and some largely forgotten studies from the 1930s about using vitamins in conjunction with a treatment program.  Imagine:  I could read scientific papers from a hundred years ago as well as those published last week, delivered within seconds of my keystroke, all while wearing pajamas in my basement. I could swap jokes with a world class scientist who happened to be in China. Ten years ago, I could not have written this book. No one could have. 

There is a dark side to that. It's equally astonishing how much really bad science floats around the Internet as freely as plastic garbage on the ocean.  It takes more time to sort the valid from the crazy than it does to read the studies.

Still, I am with you. The internet has opened worlds for people like never before. I liked it in the beginning because I could send messages at three in the morning when I was working and not disturb anyone...Well, those who keep connected with their phone 24/7 might be disturb nowadays. Today I am fascinated by how much information (and people) are their at your fingertips. However, as you say, there is lots of misinformation out there as well.

Are you still doing more? 

Not in the same intense way, but I'm still interested. I have Google Alerts set to several key words and phrases, so I receive frequent news updates. Every day I read articles from around the world about blue green algae blooms, for example, and shudder at the casual reactions of the local officials. 

What other books have you written? 

I'm probably best known for "There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings."  My other books include two I co-authored with math professor Jim Loats, Ph.D: "Algebra Unplugged" and "Calculus for Cats."  I've published two novels, "The Land of Debris and the Home of Alfredo" and "Jumper and the Bones."  "Joy Writing: Discover and Develop Your Creative Voice" is a condensation of my thoughts on becoming a better writer.  "The Wordguise Alembic" is a collection of essays and poems from my blog, as well sample chapters from each of my books. I released that as a 99 cent kindle book just for fun.  I've written several other novels that aren't good enough yet, so I haven't published them. I wrote a book on music theory for guitarists and a book of musings about becoming more spiritual. Neither of those are ripe yet either, so they remain unpublished. When you are your own publisher, you have to learn to reject yourself and not give in no matter how much you whine.
You certainly have done tons! As an aside, the name Jim Loats struck me so I looked him up on the internet and found he is a math professor at my Alma Mater. I probably took a class or two from him! (six degrees of separation!)

I saw "There are no Electrons" and thought it looked interesting since I majored in science and took electronics in school.  Can you tell us what that is about?  

It's about the basic concepts of electricity-- voltage, resistance, capacitance, inductance etc. It's an odd and funny little book. As an experiment, I wanted to write a book that was first entertaining and only coincidentally instructive. That is, grab the reader's attention the way a good movie does, and then, while the reader is engrossed and leaning forward, slip some information into his brain when he isn't looking. A reverse educational pickpocket move. The book is pretty silly but many people like it, even if they aren't particularly interested in Ohm's Law.  It inspired all the books for Dummies and Idiots and may be the only book about electricity with back cover blurbs by Ray Bradbury, Clive Cussler, Dave Barry and George Garrett.Those guys are saints and I owe them big time. Please tell your readers to buy all of their books. 

You heard it, folks. Buy books by these authors. I actually have bought books by three of these guys.

What are you planning for the future? 

Someone just turned "Jumper and the Bones" into a screenplay; reading their proposed "movie version"  reminded me how much fun I had writing that book. Now I'm halfway done writing the sequel. I'm rewriting a science fiction novel I wrote years ago. Dozens of my poems have been published in literary journals, so I keep thinking I probably ought to collect them into a book.

But I'm probably most interested in a mixed media music and history project. One of my sons gave me a very old book of Irish songs published while Thomas Jefferson was President.  It contained cool songs which, I discovered, had fascinating histories. None of the songs have ever been recorded because they had faded away by the time audio recording became possible. Over the last couple of years, I've arranged several and researched the people who wrote them. I hope to release an e-book that includes my version of the songs themselves, plus the history, plus the sheet music and lyrics.  It feels like an honor to have the chance to bring those songwriters and their songs back to life for a while. 

Irish music speaks to me.  I look forward to your book.

Why did you develop Clearwater Publishing

No one else wanted to publish There Are No Electrons and I decided they were all simply wrong. It was rejected 89 times. 

it takes guts to buck the system. How is it working for you?  

It's been fun. I've met many authors, publishers, book store folks and librarians, as well as people who just love to read. Readers and writers are my tribe, so connecting with them is always a joyful family reunion. Plus, I've sold about 100,000 paper copies of There Are No Electrons and it continues to sell reasonably well. I've been making my living by self publishing for 23 years. I'm not rich by any means -- all my vehicles are old enough to vote-- but I'm not complaining. People often tell me that one of my books improved their life in some way, and you can't put a price on that. Many of the companies who declined to publish Electrons have contacted me saying now they'd be delighted to take it off my hands. I've rejected them all. You can't put a price on that either. 

Over 100,000 copies sure does prove someone wrong, at least 89 someones. I have to pick up that book today!

Do you accept other authors? 

Sadly, no. I've tried and only had mixed results. Writing takes  time and so does marketing. When I try to market other people's books, I find I'm cutting into my own writing time.
I guess there's one exception:  my son Paul did pretty well with "The Barefoot Fisherman: a fishing book for kids." He basically self published it under the Clearwater umbrella. He did all the work, including the marketing.  He sold many copies, improved some lives (especially kids who were "reluctant readers") and won an award or two. 

These days, when an author thinks my company would be a good fit for her book, I tell her she should consider self publishing. I recommend she read "The Self Publishing Manual" by Dan Poynter. Publishing is much easier today than when I started. If a book is going to do well, the author will make more money by self publishing. Like ten times more money. If it doesn't sell, at least she'll skip the years of brutal rejection. Plus, she won't have to agonize over what to give at Christmas.

Publishing is fun and easy. Only two aspects are hard: writing a good book and then convincing someone to buy it. 

This has been so enjoyable! Thank you so much for your time! By the way, I think you would be a wonderful fit for Terry Gross’s show ‘Fresh Air’.  I would love to hear you live on the radio.

Remember you can get copies of Kenn Amdahl's work on Amazon and through Clearwater Publishing.


Feb 16, 2013
The Story Behind “World War-D

After reading World War-D, I was struck by what a huge task this was, so I asked Jeffrey Dhywood to comment on the back story for this monumental book. -Gabriella (Eva Kosinski)

1)  You put an awful lot of hard work into putting this book together, and some of the chapters are very detailed and technical.  What happened that caused you to feel so strongly that the laws must change?   It's an awful lot of work to do unless there's a strong sense of commitment.  Was there something that happened in your life to spur you into taking on this challenge?

I got quite heavily involved into drugs back in the early 1970s and lost many people around me, including A., the woman I most loved in my live, as well as her sister D. a little over a year later. Both committed suicide as a consequence of their heroin addiction.  

D. came to visit me the day before she jumped from a third-floor window. The door to my apartment in Paris was open and I had put a note on the door, asking her to just push the door as the bell didn’t work. I do not know what happened, whether she didn’t see the note, didn’t knock on the door, tried to ring the non-working bell; in any case she came to the door but didn’t come in, and she was in pain, she was desperate, looking for help, looking for comfort. In many ways this seemingly closed door that was really open was an image of our relationship and it has been haunting me ever since. I had given up drugs by then and I didn’t want to witness any more deaths, least of all D.’s.

Years later, I met their younger sister V. in the streets of Paris in a chance encounter, and we talked a long time about A. and her sister D.; she told me that A. had been pregnant but didn’t want me to know about it. She told me that D. was waiting for me to save her from herself; that she thought I was life, that I was the sun for her. Still, From London to Formenterra, from Paris to Morocco, I failed her even though I knew all along that I could save her, or could I? I was too timid and feared to impose on her, while she was waiting for me to grab her back to life, back to light, or was she? On the day of her funeral, I was walking painfully towards the cemetery, my steps and my mood getting heavier and heavier as I got closer, until I couldn’t stand it anymore and told myself “What for? She is dead now! Too many lives have been lost already.” I turned back almost running, with a feeling of elation and relief, with a weight taken off my chest; I had chosen life, I had turned my back to death. Or was I running away? Or both?

I moved to Latin America in 2000, and witnessed the region being sucked into a frightful and deadly spiral of violence and chaos because of drugs, or more precisely, because of drug-trafficking. As the carnage kept spreading, I felt the urge to do something about it, as the war on drugs is a really dreadful nonsense, an absurdity. Yes, drugs are powerful, and yes, they can be extremely destructive; I have paid a very high price in my personal life to learn this. This is precisely why prohibition is so dangerous. It is absolutely foolish and even irresponsible to relinquish the control of such powerful and potentially destructive substances to organized crime. The underlying paradigm of prohibitionism is fatally flawed. 

I started writing in 2010 with a sense of urgency and commitment, plunging into my subject with dedication and even compulsion. 

Reading through all the literature on the subject, I soon realized that most people look at just one facet of the topic, one piece of the puzzle. It was somewhat like the blind men trying to describe an elephant by describing the part of the elephant they are touching, the leg, the tusk, the trunk, the tail. Few and far between were courageous voices, such as Judge Jim Gray or Michelle Alexander, but even them, while looking at a bigger picture than most, were still looking at the issue from a decidedly US perspective. I wanted to go beyond. I wanted to give the full picture, I wanted to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle, and I wanted to do it from a global perspective. I set very ambitious goals for myself, and I wanted to write for the general public, not just preach to the choir. I had to make sense of this conundrum not only for myself, but for those who had never given much thought to the issue and never analyzed it with a critical mind.

Putting to good use my logician and mathematician background, I approached my topic as a complex mathematical problem that, like most real-life problems, does not have a unique solution, but rather an infinite continuum of possible outcomes under varying conditions, the problem being to define the optimized outcome and then find the proper conditions for such optimized outcome in a dynamic process. 

I dug through tens of thousands of pages of studies, statistics and reports, from the UN, the WHO, the US government, the European Union, academics, researchers, activists. I was keen on choosing sources as respectable and uncontroversial as possible. I soon found out that the information, the data is all there, but lots of the conclusions are upside-down because of the flaws of the underlying dominant model, starting with the well-meaning but totally unrealistic goal of a drug-free world, the stated optimized outcome of the dominant prohibitionist model. In real life, prohibition is not practically enforceable in a free-market economy. The necessary conditions to even near such a lofty outcome can only be found in such extremes as the now defunct Soviet Union, Maoist China or Saudi Arabia, and even these most extreme words do not fully achieve this goal. Even after decades of mass incarceration of drug deviants of a scale that surpasses the Soviet and Maoist extremes, the US has miserably failed to curve the spread of substance use and abuse, just merely kicking the can around, from heroin in the 70s to cocaine in the 80s, to crack in the 90s, to amphetamines and now psychopharmaceuticals.

I started by deconstructing prohibitionism and the war on drugs and realized that in prohibition, or the War on Drugs, we are referring to “illegal drugs”, which is in fact two very distinct problems bundled together with catastrophic consequences: “illegal” and “drugs”. Once we untangle and separate these two problems, we can come up with reasonable and sensible alternatives. 

I dug into the philosophical, ideological and historical origin of prohibitionism, and how it relates to the other 19th centuries totalitarian ideologies of coerced societal transformation: Communism and Fascism. I hypothesized that technological improvements such as industrial distillation of alcohol, opium smoking and the discovery of morphine or cocaine, create an evolutionary adaptative gap leading to the disease of excess called addiction. Prohibition was the wrong answer to a very real problem. It was also an alibi for more nefarious ends, mostly racial and cultural discrimination.  From then on, the history of prohibition is a downward spiral of ever diminishing returns and ever increasing mayhem and chaos. An analysis of the human, societal, economic and geo-political cost of the war on drugs clearly demonstrates that prohibitionism, by effectively giving control to criminal elements, is the worst possible form of control. Prohibition heightens the harm potential of illegal drugs by an order of magnitude and the bulk of the harm they cause derives from their illegal status. 

It should be noted that there are no clear relationship between the legal status of a substance and its intrinsic harm potential, the personal and societal harm it may inflict independently of its legal status. Bundling within the same legal framework relatively harmless substances such as marijuana and ecstasy with crack cocaine and heroin has had dreadful consequences and ended up facilitating the transition from the so-called soft drugs to hard drugs.

Looking at the drug part of the problem, I look at all psychoactive substances, irrespective of their legal status, starting with a brief introduction to the workings of the brain and how it is affected by psychoactive substances. This part of my research really fascinated me as I came to realize the amazing power of the human brain. I am currently working on a follow-up book project called “the brain explained” that will expand on that section of “World War-D”, trying to make it accessible to the general public. The brain circuitry, the neurons and their connections, can be viewed as a physiological representation of our inner models of reality. Such models are usually self-reinforcing, as we typically filter in the information that reinforce our inner models and/or interpret it through the filter of our inner models. However, events in our life, powerful sensations or experiences (including psychoactive experiences), may alter our neural network and affect our inner models of reality, with unpredictable consequences, and may be life-changing, for the better or for the worse. In addition, we have the power to direct our own transformation through conscious learning (or re-learning) and awareness. Addiction is the result of such neural alterations, and recovery is a conscious re-learning or more precisely, un-learning process. Various techniques have been developed throughout the ages, such as meditation, yoga or biofeedback, to facilitate the self-transformation process.

Going back to the psychoactive substances, we must first realize and acknowledge that they have been used since the dawn of humanity, and from tea and coffee to tobacco, alcohol and psychopharmaceuticals, or even marijuana and cocaine, most people use them on a regular basis if not daily, therefore, the concept of a drug-free world is just a pipe-dream. Each culture has its own dominant psychoactive substances that typically serve as social lubricants and facilitators and may have ritualistic or religious consonances, alcohol being the dominant psychoactive substance of Western civilization. As a result of globalization, psychoactives substances have gradually expanded outside of their traditional territories. While alcohol and tobacco have conquered the planet, the traditional psychoactives from Asia or Latin America and their extracts and derivates, have been moving the opposite way, conquering the Western world and are now also spreading throughout the planet. The latest psychoactive wave to sweep the planet is led by psychopharmaceuticals, the products of technological innovations in neuroscience.

We should also acknowledge that most users of psychoactive substances use them in moderation, often with occasional episodes of abuse in special circumstances such as celebrations. Problem users, those susceptible to cause harm to themselves or to others, are a relatively small percentage of users. Trying to prevent all use of any particular substance is extremely counterproductive and it is far more efficient to focus on problem use, how to prevent it, how to minimize its associated harms.
Once we properly understand the “illegal” and the “drugs” parts of the problem, and once we split and untangle them, we can reconstruct and address each one separately. Illegality can be solved by controlled legalization, which, if properly done, will dismantle the illegal drug marketplace. Drug use per se is not an issue in and of itself; substance abuse is a medical and social issue that should never have been turned into a criminal issue.

The next step is to set reasonable and realistic goals for optimized outcome and see what type of conditions will allow reaching these goals. I propose a paradigm shift away from the unrealistic drug-free world fallacies towards more realistic goals of harm minimization. To that effect, I look at the various legal models of psychoactive substances, the alcohol model, the tobacco model, the prescription drug model, and the prohibitionist model, which, as we have already seen, is by far the worst possible form of control.  Each of the existing regulatory models has its own flaws and limitations, but we can learn from these models to design a regulatory framework that will produce the desired harm minimization outcome. The model I propose favors nudging over coercion. Acknowledging that people will use psychoactive substances whether we like it or not, I propose to nudge them towards the least harmful substances, the least harmful patterns of use, and the least harmful administration modes. I also propose to set in place alert mechanisms so that users moving towards hazardous patterns of use can receive proper help and support. 

In short, my goal with “World War D” is to try answering the simple but fundamental question: “Can organized societies do a better job than organized crime at managing and controlling psychoactive substances?” which is placing the bar very low when you think about it. To that effect, I lay out a concrete, pragmatic and realistic roadmap to global controlled legalization under a multi-tier regime: “legalize, control, tax, prevent, treat and educate,” with practical and efficient mechanisms to manage and minimize societal costs.

2)  Has there been any blowback from people who DO believe in the Drug War, and what percentage of them actually read the book all the way through?

I haven’t received any negative feedback from prohibitionists so far. I offered a copy to former UNODC director Antonio Maria Costa, who hasn’t taken me on my offer. I had some dialog with Mr Maria Costa while he was still in office at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, but our dialog was rapidly cut short. You can see some of his comments on my website.
People rather unfamiliar with the topic have found the book eye-opening. Several people have complained that the book is too detailed and too technical, with too many references. Some admitted that they struggled with the chapter on the brain, but were glad to stick to it as it gave them a great understanding of the workings of the brain. 

I really do not know how many of my readers read the entire book. This is not a novel that you read from cover to cover after all, but several people have commented that they use “World War-D” as a reference. It was even selected as a textbook for a criminology course in Southern Utah University.
I also have to admit that to the best of my knowledge, my readers have mostly come so far from the activist community or are in favor of legalization. Reaching out to the general public has been harder than I thought, but I am making headways.

3)  Are there any new updates in the situation to report since the book's original publication?

There have been tremendous changes on the drug policy reform front, with Latin American countries leading the call for reform, and of course the states of Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana with double digit margins. I have prepared a review of the major events of 2012 that is available at
Jeffrey Dhywood Investigative writer
“World War-D” on Amazon:

Check out our FB page for updates
on the War on Drugs and Global drug policy reform


An interview with Peggy Randall-Martin:

Now we have a very short interview with another author who might well suit the theme of today's blog. Please meet Peggy Randall-Martin.

Peggy, it is nice to have you visit.  I see you have several books for sale currently.  I am impressed by the different writing styles in these books. Looking for Timmy is written close up and personal with a wonderful feeling of talking directly to the narrator while, from what I have read so far, The Last Exit tends to be distant and more of a telling. 

 You describe your books as being sort of like "The Twilight Zone." which fits right into our theme. Can you explain?
The most consistent comment from my readers is the comparison of my books to “Twilight Zone” episodes. You may remember that many of the episodes depicted bone chilling paranormal and disturbing events. This is a genre I have been drawn to since I was a child, and one that still has me looking over my shoulder, even though I know I'm home alone. You might say the genre picked me.
Otherworld tales and paranormal stories don’t have endings that can be tied up in neat little bows, because in real life and in the literary world, these happenings cannot be neatly explained away. The eternal search for answers and possible explanations is one of the main reasons fans of the genre keep coming back.

You are also obviously attracted to Bayou Country. What is it about this region that seems to attract tales about the supernatural?
There is no simple answer to your question, but I’ll give it a shot.
New Orleans, French Quarter, The Big Easy, Bayou and Backwater country … the area possesses a delicious combination of mysteries, myths, legends, and some truths that will not be denied …
During prohibition, the federal government with all its power and the backing of the 18thamendment, could not find a way to control the sale of alcohol in New Orleans, a City they considered to be one big speakeasy.
New Orleans’ prominent religion is Catholicism and the City is famous for its distinct variety of Louisiana Voodoo. New Orleans is known for its French Creole architecture, and Louisiana is the only state in the Union governed by Napoleonic Law.
Mix all of the above together. Then and add more than a pinch of the legend of Marie Laveau, and a dash of charms, magic powder, voodoo spells and curses. Next add doses of dark and brooding above ground cemeteries or the River and bayous after midnight, and you have a veritable breeding ground for every thing that sends chills up your spine and goes bump in the night.
 You've also said that your writing career got off to something of a delayed start. Are you glad you didn’t write books earlier in life?

It is my belief that everything has a time and a season, now that I am retired, mine has come. I am having a love affair with life! My passion is writing; it's not always a sure thing, but it is always satisfying in the end. When I get up in the morning I can be anyone I want to be, achieve any goal and even change my appearance periodically during the day with words, new characters, storylines and imagination.

I'm hoping I will have time to write sometime soon, as well. It is good to know there is still time! 

 Do you rewrite/edit much?

Yes, I do when/if necessary. Once a book is finished, I step away from it for a couple of days. Then I re-read the manuscript, paying attention to content and looking for typos. After a book is published, I buy the first copy, take notice of the format, and check it again.

I think I would have a hard time doing my own editing. And I don't blame you for buying the first copy to see it. When I do my blog everything looks good UNTIL I see it published. LOL

 What do you think separates a good book from a bad book?

Anyone can write, not everyone knows how.

I think that is true to some extent.  I find very few really poor writers in this business but I also find very few outstanding writers. But because of this rarely is my time wasted and every now and again I find a real gem.

Thank you for stopping by for a moment!

Readers, here is some more about Peggy Randall-Martin and where you can find more information on her books.

"Life doesn't begin at forty, it begins when you are no longer afraid to live it," Peggy Randall-Martin.
I am a method writer, and listen to genre oriented (period/mood) music when I am writing.
I've authored 13 Kindle books. Currently I am working on a trilogy with two other authors, and have 3 novellas in process, including Volume 2 of "The La Bauve Family Legend Series." I stay very busy!
My new kindle book, “Looking for Timmy,” went on sale March 27, 2012. The year is 1955 and the setting is in Stones Throw, a small rural Oklahoma town. COMING SOON: “Sunday Meals & Snake Neckties,” is a coming-of-age novella that takes place in 1951 in rural Oklahoma.

SUNDAY, MAY 13, 2012

I hope everyone is enjoying or did enjoy Mother's Day. This year, fortunately, my birthday did not fall on Mother's Day though my family tends to celebrate my birthday, my dad's birthday and Mother's Day all on the same day anyway. This year, we will not be doing that so perhaps I will catch up on all the things I have missed while I was away at the convention this last week.  We can only hope.
In honor of Mother's Day, I am bringing you an interview with Denise De Sio, the author of Rose's Will. The book focuses on a family, especially the mother.

 Welcome to A Book A Day Reviews Denise!

Congratulations on publishing your first novel. What are some of the main themes in “Rose’s Will?”

“Rose’s Will” explores the love, moral commitment, compassion, the quest for authenticity, and the choices that make or break us.

Rose D’Orsi is the central character in “Rose’s Will” but we see her only through the eyes of the other characters.This of course has been used before very effectively but tell us how you made the decision to use this style.

We all know people who have no ability to evolve, people who still believe exactly what they were taught when they were seven. At seventy, Rose is one big broken record, and giving her a voice would bore a reader to death! However, people like her don’t live in a vacuum. They have relationships. “Rose’s Will” concentrates on those relationships.

In order to deal with their mother, Rose’s children have settled into very different roles. I don't think that is so very different than my family. Can you give us a brief idea of how the characters ended up in their roles.

Yes, Glory is the rebel. She leaves her abusive childhood behind at seventeen and spends most of her life estranged from her mother.  Ricky is a people-pleaser and ends up feeling stuck in the role of his mother’s resentful lifelong caretaker after Rose is abandoned by both her husband and Glory. These two paths define their lives.  

What about Eli? 

Yes, Eli, our wealthy Bulgarian Holocaust survivor is certainly a charmer! His capacity for unconditional love is enormous and I have yet to meet a reader, male or female, who doesn’t absolutely fall in love with him by the end of the prologue. That’s why I open the book with a heartwarming love story between Eli and Rose, who meet each other at the Senior Community Center on Kings Highway.

“Rose’s Will” touches on some pretty serious issues (the Holocaust, 9/11, child abuse, terminal illness), so I was impressed with the amount of humor you used throughout the book, mostly in the telling of family tales. The Maxwell House story was hilarious!

Yes, Glory in particular uses humor to cope with painful situations, and Eli has a wonderfully dry, educated wit that conjures up the eternal twinkle in his eye. The Maxwell House story is 100% true, by the way. I think every family has delicious gossip that, given enough time, becomes grist for family mill for generations to come. Rose’s Will contains quite a few of mine.   

How did you choose the title?

I’m usually horrible with titles, but this novel titled itself. Rose’s Will is a double entendre that conveys both Rose’s stubborn willfulness and her legacy.

Tell us anything we might find interesting about you.

Other people think I’m much more interesting than I really am. I think I’m stable, rational and organized, yet I’ve been described by others as wacky, unbelievable, and outrageous. I just don’t get it.

I've heard the same about me.  You should write a book, they say but they don't see me through my eyes. I suspect that your readers will feel the same about you, even if you don't find yourself all that interesting!

Who is the perfect reader for your book? Please do not say "everyone." ;o)

Okay then, almost everyone. It’s gotten five-star reviews from men and women from 20 to 85. Why? Because almost all of us have compromised who we are, hoping to gain love and acceptance from someone close to us.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you
overcome them?

The only obstacle that I encountered in getting this book published was my own fear of failure, or maybe success. I’ve written all my life and never made a serious effort to get published. When I let it slip, in my social circle, that I’d finally finished a novel, my friends and family put the screws on me. “Send out that manuscript…or else!” I grudgingly sent out about 8 query letters and two partial manuscripts before miraculously picked it up.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

There is no “most important” piece of writing advice that wouldn’t take up an entire book of grammar and punctuation. Either you have a command of the English language or you don’t. If you don’t and you have a great story to tell, you have two options: educate yourself, or get a ghost writer instead of inflicting a bad product on your readers.

I have read many books where the grammar has destroyed the story but equally have read books where the grammar could not possible save the story. A balance is very important. You certainly do well.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

You can purchase Rose’s Will for only $4.99 through my website at where you’ll find direct links to buy it from Amazon for Kindle, Barnes and Noble for Nook, and on my publisher’s site at  for all other devices. COMING SOON! Look for Rose’s Will in print this summer!

Thank you for stopping by, Denise!

Final note from Denise:

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Tweet to me at @Topbee
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An Interview with Brian Holers, Author of Doxology
 Gabriella Wheeler
So much of the focus of this book seems to be on finding one's way back home. Is this an updated version, in some sense, of the biblical story of the prodigal son?

First of all, I appreciate the elevated comparison. I only hope Doxology can carry a fraction of the messages of hope and redemption found in the Holy Bible. Readers will experience a certain amount of biblical imagery in this book, not really put together in any particular order. It just permeates the story. Id be flat-out lying if I said I planned it that way. Thats just the story that came out. Not quickly, Id like to add. I worked and worked to craft this story, for over 3 years.
I do see the similarities between Scooters story, and that of the prodigal son. When he returns from a long time away, his father even refers to him as such. However, in the biblical story, a father gives his younger son a share of what he would one day inherit, and the son runs away to waste it on wine, women and song, only to return when he is dead broke and starving. Scooter, conversely, leaves home with nothing and doesnt really want to return. He likes his new life, as undignified as it may appear. But he does have similarities to the prodigal sonhes lost, aimless, doesnt appreciate what he has. So its an updated version of the story, I guess.

Your characters are very complex and become very real to the reader. How did you find them? Were they based on folks you know?

I guess I just found them in my head. I honestly have no idea where this story came from. All I had when I started was a mental picture of an older man and a younger man, uncle and nephew, waiting in line to get some food in the basement of a church. The nephew, in this picture, had just returned to his hometown for his fathers funeral, after many years away. The uncle was helping him find a piece of himself he thought he had left behind when he left that small town, and had never been back. Other than a couple of night classes at the local university, I have no training in writing. I just happened to have some timeI had sold a business and didnt have to work too hard for awhileand I started spending hours and hours and hours of it crafting the story in Doxology. No character is based on anyone I know, but some readers tell me they recognize someone from their family, their hometown.

One of the things I really liked about Doxology is you managed to give small glimpses of the underlying problems, creating an emotional connection for the reader, in spite of never really showing us what happened. It would seem that's a difficult thing to do; many authors never pull it off. Any tips for aspiring authors?

Well thank you for the compliment. The two most important ingredients I needed were time and discipline. Over the course of a dozen drafts, the book gained more and more depth, but it was important to me it not become too long. I ended up with an 80,000 word book but probably wrote 300,000. Whos going to read a thousand page book by a guy theyve never heard of? Shorter is often better, anyway, Writing a novel is like cooking a gumbo, it keeps getting further and further distilled, constantly thicker and richer, and like an especially long poem, you just keep getting rid of words you dont really need. Lots of readers like to do the work of filling in all the blanks. Also, the greatest thing I did, and this doesnt come free, is pay a professional editor to read for me during the development of the book. I strongly advise this. It costs money, yes, but the advice is a lot better than what youll get from your friends or from a reading group.

Are there more stories to be told with these characters? Specifically, do we ever find out if Scooter makes it back? Or is he simply used for contrast to show that some folks never get there.

Scooter would be a good subject for another novel. Whatever he looks like from the outside, he has made a place for himself, and is relatively happy there. It seems he never gets anywhere in his life, and maybe he doesnt, but some people dont. Still, its hard not to like him. I dont have any plans to return to him, at this time. I am two drafts into novel number 2, and number 3 is boiling. I have a feeling Doxology will be the only story told about Jody, Vernon and Scooter. If so, I will miss them. But I wont be surprised if some of the minor characters show up again. I had to cut one of the minor characters in the final draft (her name is Mawmaw), but she immediately made a place for herself in Miracle Run, my second book.

As I recall, the word doxology only appears once in the book near the end. Why did you choose that for the title?

A doxology is a short hymn of praise. I mentioned earlier that all I had when I started was the image of the two men waiting in line at the church. Actually, there is one more thing I had. A feeling. The feeling that permeated the story, from the earliest stages, was a sense of gratitude. I didn’t want to write a religious story per se, I just wanted to write a story about people who feel about life the way I do. They have struggled. They have loved and lost. Still, they recognize something much greater than they are, something well beyond understanding, is looking over them, and they are grateful. So the story wasn’t supposed to be about church or religion, it was supposed to be about people struggling through life, as we all do, and recognizing, at times begrudgingly, the presence of something greater.

Book Trailers are a thing nowadays. No more do we have to haunt book stores, reading back blurb after back blurb. Gone are the days when authors and publishers had to pull you in with only the written word and some graphics on a city bus. The days of begging to be put on some newspapers To Be Reviewed list are over. With the internet and television, authors and publishers can touch thousands or even millions using video trailers. Reaching that many people  might even help bring non-readers into the fold. Certainly the following trailers by today’s guest author have that potential. 

Check out these trailers out and then come back for our interview with internationally famous Stacy Eaton, author of My Blood Runs Blue series.

My Blood Runs Blue:

Miss Stacy, it is nice to have you for a visit today. We are looking forward to getting to know you better.

Thank you so much for allowing me to come visit!  I love being out and about and talking with people!  I love to answer questions and love to listen to what others have to say.  So please if anyone has other questions after they read this, please do not hesitate to contact me!  

What do you think about book trailers?
LOVE THEM!  I love video trailers!! I love making them too!  I spend hours searching photographs to use to fit the characters and scenes of my books.  Then I spend hours searching music that fits the feeling of the video.  The whole process takes a few days to do, but I love it and I love to watch them.  It gives you a piece of where the book is going, a small visual and I am a very visual person.

The ones you did are fantastic! I loved the music. The people in the pictures are gorgeous but I especially like Greene. Love the hair.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My Name is Stacy Eaton, but that is only a product of my full name.  I have a very long extensive name and I use these two parts because they have meaning to me, and they hide me just a bit. I was born in Orange County New York and moved 23 times in 9 different states before I finally settled into a nice area in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I never wanted to be a writer, until a plot line came to me and then I just couldn’t stop it from coming. After that the bug was implanted and it just keeps coming!

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
The day that my first book, My Blood Runs Blue was officially published I formally called myself not only a “writer” but an “author” as well. There was a lot of dancing and jumping on bed going on in my house that day!

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I do – actually two.  I own my own internet business and I am also a Law Enforcement Officer.  In my job as a police officer, I do a lot of investigations and I am one of a few that is a Certified Crime Scene Investigator. I love the Forensics part of my job, and I love the investigation and putting the pieces all together.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Blue Blood for Life: A suspenseful, intriguing novel about love, choices and consequences that will keep you on your toes to the very end.

Do you self-publish?
I self-published with the help of Outskirts Press, Inc. and I loved working with them. I will continue to work with them through this series.

It’s nice to have a good relationship with your publisher. It is amazing how many authors don’t.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
My Blood Runs Blue I wrote in 9 weeks.  It just took off.  Blue Blood for Life took me 11 weeks.  Some of my other books are taking longer because I am spending so much time marketing with my first two books.

Wow! That’s fast! Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?

Book 3 is actually the hardest to write, and I am working on it right now. I know where I am going with the book, but I am having an issue with someone at the start and I have walked away from it for a few days to think it over.

What can we expect from you in the future?  Will you write more books of the same genre or are you thinking of jumping to something new?
I do write in different genres. I currently have 3 other novels that I am working on that are not part of the series and not Paranormal/Urban Fantasy.

How far will this current series go?
I believe this series will end at 4 books.  I’m not positive, but that looks to be where we are heading with it.

What is you favorite book so far?
Blue Blood for Life is my favorite right now, but I am working on another one that I love, so it might change.  Blue Blood for Life deals with choices and decisions that affect a lot of people. I believe that we must all make our choices and live by what happens from those choices. I really liked how that all played out in this book.  Plus I love the fact that not one person who has read it has seen the end coming.
I love books like that!

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release the book to the public?
I have a few author friends who will do what we call “Beta Reads” to make sure the plot is smooth and makes sense.  Sometimes I ask them to do a review. I will pick about 5 people to read it while it is in the publishing stage and ask them to review it.  Some are good friends while some are people I barely know. I want honest reviews, not fluff from my friends so I go to people I know will be honest.
I've done some continuity editing and it can be tough when the book is so good you keep slipping into the rhythm of the story. Your Beta Readers must have had massive trouble with that!

I understand that you designed your covers. How do you come up with the title and cover designs for your books?
They just come to me.  The pictures on the covers represent a moment or two in the book, just like the titles represent words from the book. They concepts just come to me and then I pass it along to my cover artist at Outskirts Press, Inc.

 Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block" and how do you deal with it?
Yep – I drive… (laughing)… When I get a block, I walk away and then I usually go to work and spend my shift driving around and working out the problems in my head.  If you saw me at 3 in the morning talking to myself, you’d think I was crazy but I am actually talking out conversations in my head between my characters.  Usually within a couple days I have it figured out and I am back to writing.

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Oh yeah!  Officer Kristin Greene is myself – there is no way around it – it’s true.  Many of the characters are based off people I know, Kristin’s partner at work, Mick, he’s my real partner, just named differently.  Some characters are a mixture of people, but many are straight from people I know.

What is your favorite book by another author?
I think my all-time favorite series was written by Janelle Taylor called the Ecstasy series with Grey Wolf.  I loved that series and probably read it 10 times. I don’t own the series right now, but would like to obtain it again someday.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?
Currently I am reading “Come Back to Me” by Melissa Foster on my Kindle.  I am only 17% in and I absolutely love it, but I love all her books.  I will probably have it done by tomorrow. I read very quickly.

Only 17%? I recognize that format. You're reading on a Kindle!

 I read from my Kindle all the time – I am never far from it, so I love having e-books.  If I love a book, then I want it in Hardcover. With the change in the way people are publishing, many times books aren’t available in hardcover anymore so I have to resign myself with a paperback instead. 

Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read?
In my daughter’s school, she is in third grade; they do a lot of reading, and writing.  Each year they create several books in school.  She is also writing a story that we are making into a book for Christmas gifts for family.  I encourage it.  Some days when I have a lot of work to do and she wants to be with me, we bring her reading chair in my office and she will sit and read behind me as I work.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
Yes – but I would never say what they were.  I believe everyone has a specific taste and if I don’t like something, it doesn’t mean something else doesn’t love it. 
 I understand that. As a reviewer I come across some extremely popluar books that I, personally, had a hard time reading and have had others I adore that still get poor reviews from some people.

Is there anything in your books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
While I love the cover of My Blood Runs Blue – I would change it slightly.  I would use  slightly different character pics.

Thank you so much dropping by, Miss Stacy. I am so glad I met you and on twitter, no less.
For those of you who use twitter a ton, you can find Miss Stacy  @StacySEaton

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit! 

Our pleasure.

If you would  like to know more about Stacy Eaton and her books, look for her at her
While her Books can be purchased from Amazon off her author page here:  and fromBarnes and Noble, if you want a signed book purchase it off her website.

The Healing Crystal Trilogy:

Today we have an interview with award winning author, Michele Poague. Her new trilogy, the Healing Crystal, now has Heir to Power book one and Fall of Eden book two currently on sale. Ransom book three will be available in early 2012.

How did the story come about?  I have always loved reading. When I read the Dragonriders of PernAnne McCaffrey made writing look easy. It wasn't. One morning in the early 80's, I pictured this young woman with long white hair and I knew where she lived. She carried a palm-sized crystal and I knew what it was, and what the story was going to be about, but in the 80's and 90's I didn't have time to write the story.    
I never gave up on the idea and I started to write the story several times only to give up and put it away. In 1991 I took a short trip to the mid-west to research the area I believed Kairma and her family lived and the story began to unfold in ernest. The characters told me where the story took place. When I looked up at that great, carved mountain, I asked myself what a stranger to our world might think. From there, the entire religious and political philosophy of Survin took shape. The research of the area added depth realism. Although I enjoy fantasy, this is not fantasy, so the setting had to be realistic. The tunnels were one of the things that brought the story to life, but the monument south of Keystone played into the story with such perfection that I believed this future could really happen.

Another ten years passed, but the idea of The Healing Crystal never left me. I kept waiting for Connie Willis to write it. I thought this story was right up her alley, and I really wanted to know what was going to happen to the Crystal. Granted, I never told her this, but I kept checking the bookstores just in case.

Actually, I think I was just waiting for the right time to tell the story. In the early years of the twenty-first century the story became even more relevant. When I gave up politics I had to do something with all that extra time so I drug out all my notes once more and wrote theHeir to Power.

What books have most influenced your life? The first real book I ever read was the biography of Wild Bill Hicock when I was in the third grade. I was so enamored, I read every biography that author penned. Another book that had a profound effect on me was The Ruling Class, which sent me right into the depths of politics. The Riders of Pern gave me the courage to write because Anne McCaffrey made it look so easy, which it really isn’t. Writing words is easy, getting it right? No, not so much.

What book are you reading now? Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Read.

Anything else you like to do? I love to throw big parties.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? I don’t really have a favorite author. I love Connie Willis and Janet Evanovich for their sense of humor and fun. I love David Brin, Larry Niven, Jerry Pernell, and Orson Scott Card because they can take something as fantastic as being on another planet and make it seem real and believable, almost common place. When it comes to colorful imagination J. K. Rowling is an absolute master.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Connie Willis. I try to read everything she writes. She’s very diverse.

What awards have your books received? Flamingnet Top Choice Award for Heir to Power, and IUniverse Editor's Choice Award for Fall of Eden.

Can you tell us about Flamingnet and the Top Choice Award you received for book one, Heir to Power?Flamingnet is a site that reviews books for young adults. Although the Healing Crystal isn’t marketed as a YA book, there is no graphic sex or over-the-top violence. The concepts regarding religious and political philosophy are adult and there are lots of characters that might be difficult for someone under 13 to follow, but the adventure is simple fun.

Can you tell us about the Editor’s Choice Award you received for book two, Fall of Eden?
IUniverse is the company that is publishing The Healing Crystal Trilogy. The Editor’s Choice Award is given to books IUniverse feels are among the best books they have to offer.

Some books in a series do not finish a story.  Does this book stand alone?
Each of the books are designed to be complete stories in themselves but with enough unanswered questions to hold all three books together.

This trilogy contains elements of rivalry between two sisters as well as two young men. Where did you learn to picture this so well? Is there something in your childhood that gave you the insight to portray this in such clear detail? I have five sisters and was born in the middle. I know what it’s like to be the younger sister as well as the older sister. I’ve watched my sisters fight, I’ve helped my sisters fight, and I’ve caused my sisters to fight. As to the young men, I believe rivalry and jealousy is something you learn from having siblings. The rivalry between two friends is not that much different than between siblings. Remember that all the young men were close friends first.

Do you have a specific writing style? No. I write what comes to me and then polish it. There are so many writers that I aspire to be like. Mostly, I just hope my writing is coherent.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Yes, everything you write is about your own experiences. I don’t believe you can write well about things you don’t know. The actual situations in the book were created by the characters as they told me they were doing. I explore emotions through them.

Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest? Patrick Rothfuss has written a fabulous book called The Name of the Wind. I’m on pins and needles waiting to read, The Wise Man’s Fear.

What are your current projects? Book three of The Healing Crystal TrilogyRansom, is in its final draft. I’m currently doing research on two new stories. The Candy Store is a time travel romance and Last Kiss is about a cocktail waitress who uncovers the ghost of a 1920’s Jazz singer while remodeling an old house. This is what I call an almost true story.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. Lois Deveneau is as close a friend as one could have and is really more like a sister. She and I talked about writing a book when we first met. Her support has been invaluable. That said, Reggie Rivers was the first person outside my family that said I could write and that gave me the courage to publish.

Do you see writing as a career? Absolutely, there are lots of people who make a career of writing. Is it a career for ME? Currently writing is a wonderful hobby that might someday pay for itself.Publicity, the price of the Scorpio Rising eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including 2 Kindle Fires, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 23rd, so you don’t miss out.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

About Scorpio Rising: Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio Rising takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes. Alex Ivanov is the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves. Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser. Monique Domovitch’s debut novel, Scorpio Rising, is a compelling tale filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio Rising promises to resonate with all who once had a dream. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

  About The Sting of The Scorpio: In Scorpio Rising, Monique Domovitch presented a compelling tale filled with colorful characters and the manipulation of power, ambition, and greed. Now she gives us its spellbinding sequel, The Sting of the Scorpio, where Alexander Ivanov returns to New York with his new bride, Brigitte. The real estate industry is ripe with opportunity. Blessed with irresistible charm, ambition, and the single-minded obsession to succeed, Alex plots and manipulates his way to almost mystical success. Everything he touches turns to gold, but it’s never enough. When a hostile takeover bid leaves him struggling to save his beloved company, he suspects those closest to him of plotting his downfall. Brigitte, the beautiful redhead who abandoned her country and her career to become his wife, feels alone. In return, Alex has betrayed her time and again, each indiscretion cutting deeper into her soul. Brigitte’s son, David yearns to be an artist, but Alex’s plans leave no room for such frivolous goals. He grooms a reluctant David to become the heir apparent until a devastating tragedy attracts the attention of another young man. The Sting of the Scorpio is a rich tale of a man at the mercy of his own greed and a woman bound by her need for love. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

  About the Author: Monique Domovitch began writing at the age of fifty-five. Two years later, she has two self-published novels—her Scorpio Series—and a three-book deal with Penguin, for books she has written under the name of Carol Ann Martin. Never seen without her laptop, Monique and her husband travel the world and divide the rest of their time between their homes in British Columbia and California. Monique loves to hear from readers! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.  

Let's get to know the author a bit better through this rousing Q&A...

  You’ve had varied careers, the first of which was modeling. Looking back, what did you learn from your careers? From modeling, I learned that by pretending a person can become. I was the shyest, gawkiest girl, but walking the runway taught me to hold my head high and smile in spite of my fear, and with time, the confidence I tried to project became real. From my years as a financial planner, I learned that I, and only I, am responsible for my financial security. This is a lesson I tried to teach women during my four years as a television financial coach. And from becoming an author during the last third of my life, I’ve learned that it’s never too late to follow one’s dream. Like the old Nike commercial says, “just do it.”

  You married again late in life. Is marriage easier the second time around? Maybe not the second time, because I was divorced twice. But the third time is the charm. Mind you, I was on my own for twenty years before meeting my new husband. I came to a point where I decided I’d rather be alone than in an unsatisfying relationship. And I was very happy with my family, friends, career and dogs. My life was full. I believe that when a woman is happy by herself, she’s less likely to make a wrong choice.

  Do you believe in love? Totally and passionately. But, and this is a big but, I think that it can be very easy to mistake passion for love, and although they are not mutually exclusive, they are not always both present at the onset. I believe that love is friendship on fire. For that reason, unless one person really likes another— and I’m talking, ‘Like,’ with a capital L here— real love is not possible.

  Who has provided you with the most inspiration for your writing? It wasn’t so much a ‘who,’ as a ‘when,’ that really pushed me to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I was fifty-five years old, had just retired after a lifetime of being a career person while denying my real dream, writing. That’s when I decided that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. You know how people are supposed to ask themselves, ‘when facing death, what they would regret not doing?’ For me the answer was writing. Writing is what I had always wanted to do.

  What are you working on at the moment? I’m almost finished writing the first of a three-book mystery-series for Penguin, which I write under the pen-name, Carol Ann Martin. I’m having a great time developing the main character—a career woman suffering from a burnout, and who escapes from her life to a tiny community, only to stumble upon a murder. Next, I have a stand-alone book that is about half done. I want to go back and finish that one. And then, I have the rest of my astrological-sign series, the next in line being Taurus, set in the investment world. More greed, deception and betrayals. And then the second of my Penguin books, and then...Sometimes I think I’ll never have the time to write everything I want to write.

  Do you have a writing schedule? Yes, all day every day :-P Just kidding. I try to write eight full hours a day, or a minimum of one thousand words. But try as I might, I find that the first half of a novel just about writes itself. The words fly onto the page, but when I get to the fifty percent mark, the going slows to a crawl—especially in a murder mystery. I have to keep going back and forth making sure all the clues and details are there, but not so obvious they give everything away.

  Where do you write? I made myself a private space in my home and that’s where I go for privacy. But my best writing is often while I’m doing the dishes, or during long drives. That’s when my mind wanders and I dream up my next scenes, or come up with some snappy dialogue. I often stop and just down a few lines to remind myself for later.

  What advice do you have for wannabe authors? I don’t want to give anybody the same old advice about practicing your skill, getting an editor. My advice is, treat writing like a business, especially if you plan on self-publishing. Remember, your novel will be competing with millions of other novels out there. You have to come up with a plan to make yours stand out and get noticed. Of course the story and the style counts, but everything else counts too. Will you write for women? For young adults? For children? What publishing format should you choose? E-book? Soft cover? Hard cover? How much will it cost and how many copies must you sell to break even? How will you distribute your novels? What can you do to make them stand out from the millions of others? A new author should research what the best-selling authors have done to become successful, and then create plans of their own.

  What do you do when you're not writing? People are always surprised to find out that I’m also a hobby beekeeper. I have one hive from which I harvested over forty pounds of honey last season. And I love to boast that my honey is absolutely wonderful. It has a floral quality, because of the area where we live. Victoria is the most floral city in North America.

  If you had one wish, what would it be? That one is easy. I wish for a long and healthy life, so I can keep writing for the next fifty years. Okay, fifty might be pushing it. Make it at least forty years.


Interview with Kenneth G. Bennett

Where did you find the inspiration for this novel?         
The idea began with an article I read about The Gaia Hypothesis. This hypothesis, proposed by NASA scientist James Lovelock, says, in brief: “all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth make up a single, self-regulating entity.” In other words, the Earth itself is a living thing. A vast, “super-organism.”
I love this idea! And when I first read about it I wondered how it might be woven into a novel. In my imagination, and in conversations with friends, I took the Gaia Hypothesis one step further. “What if Gaia (the Earth) is not simply alive,” I asked, “but also sentient?” It occurred to me that a lot of so-called primitive cultures believed this very thing. Understood it in their bones.
Then I was backpacking with my son Eli (age 9 at the time). After a few days in the wilderness, feeling more connected to the land, perhaps, I started to tell Eli the story of The Gaia Wars. He loved it. It took me about a year to write the book and refine it.
Warren Wilkes is quite the unexpected hero. Tell us about him. Is he someone you’ve met before, or is he completely fictional?
My son and his friends are all pretty outdoorsy kids. They’ve backpacked and skied and kayaked and climbed since they were really little, so Warren (a sort of feral, wilderness boy) is probably a composite of the kids I see every day.
This story’s setting is incredibly vivid. How did the Cascade Mountains influence your writing? Do you believe you could have told the same story in a different setting, or would it have been missing something otherwise?
North Cascades National Park is one of my favorite places on the planet, and I go there often. It’s easy to find inspiration in the ancient forests and high-alpine meadows of that region.  I’ve also been heavily influenced by Olympic National Park, and by wild areas in Alaska, where I spent much of my childhood. The landscapes in the book contain elements of all of those places.
The Mendari aliens and their organic droids, the Fabrinels, mix-up the story in a way nothing else could have (not even the irksome Mr. Finley). How did you go about creating these other races and defining their culture and behavior?
The Mendari are fantastically advanced, technologically, but suffer from a civilization-wide melancholy. They have every device and contraption imaginable, but in the process of acquiring all this stuff, they’ve nearly destroyed their lovely planet and suffocated their own wild souls. They venture to Earth out of desperation, and with newfound humility, hoping to regain the wisdom they lost millennia ago.  The Mendari race is basically the Human race in a few hundred years—if we don’t get our act together in terms of taking care of our planet.
Gaia, or Onatah, is the living embodiment of the Earth Mother. Without giving anything away, tell the readers how she fits into the story.
Gaia, the Earth Mother, represents the wild soul of the planet. She’s the wellspring of all life; the source of the DNA that animates everything from bacteria to redwood trees to homo sapiens.  But we humans have reached the point where we think maybe we don’t need to be connected to this wild soul any longer. We see ourselves as separate from the natural world. I think this kind of hubris is a huge mistake, and that’s reflected in the story.
How much research did you have to do in order to learn about the Denelai people’s folklore and nature rituals? How did you find this information?
I love to learn about Native American culture, modern and ancient, and have read a lot about what North America was like prior to European contact. I’m steeped in that history, but the Denelai culture is entirely a product of my imagination—not based on any one people or tribe.
Your cast of characters has very interesting names—ones I suspect were not chosen arbitrarily. Please tell us how you came up with the names for Ina, Mirra, Uhlgoth, and the others.
I greatly admire the name-inventing abilities of authors such as Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, Ursula K. LeGuin and (of course) J.R.R. Tolkien. I worked really hard to come up with names that fit the various characters in The Gaia Wars.
You leave The Gaia Wars off on a very big cliff-hanger. What made you decide to take this gutsy literary move—channeling Warren, are you?
The Gaia Wars ends at what felt to me like a natural stopping point (or at least a “pausing” point)–A slight break in the action before all hell breaks loose in Battle for Cascadia.
Battle for Cascadia picks up where the first book leaves off. What can we expect from the sequel? Are there any major ways in which the style or plot line is different than The Gaia Wars?
Battle for Cascadia is a direct and immediate continuation of The Gaia Wars.  Many of the storylines begun inGaia draw to a conclusion in Battle—but not all of them! There are a lot of mysteries left to unravel in those rugged North Cascade canyons.
You’re going to give us more Warren Wilkes, right?! Please tell us you’re planning a third book in the series, and if you can, give us some clues about what happens next.
Absolutely!  Warren and company find themselves in a very dangerous place and in very perilous circumstances at the conclusion of Battle. There’s a whole lot of story left to tell.

Interview with Terri Giuliano Long
In Leah's Wake and the Characters Who Make It a Story
Please tell us a bit about your book and what you hope readers take away from reading it.
In Leah’s Wake tells the story of a family in collapse. Sixteen-year-old Leah, a straight-A student and star soccer player, has led a perfect life. When she meets and dates a sexy older guy, attracted to his independence, she begins to spread her wings. Drinking, ignoring curfew, dabbling in drugs—all this feels like freedom to her. Her terrified parents, afraid they’re losing their daughter, pull the reins tighter. Unfortunately, her parents get it all wrong, pushing when they ought to be pulling, and communication breaks down. Soon there’s no turning back. Twelve-year-old Justine, caught between the parents she loves and the big sister she adores, soon finds herself in the fight of her life, trying desperately to pull her family together.

Parents, wanting the best for their children, often push their kids to be perfect – and push themselves to be perfect parents. It’s tempting to believe that only bad kids from bad families get in trouble. This attitude allows us to distance ourselves – this could never happen to us – and creates unhealthy competition. When families have problems, we judge and ostracize them, only adding to the difficulties they’re already facing. The truth is, when problems arise, the fallout affects the entire community. The epigraph from The Grand Inquisitor says it best: “everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything.” As Hillary Clinton famously said,it takes a village to raise a child. For the sake of our children, we must all do our part to be supportive members of the village.
Although the Tyler family is far from perfect, they love one another. Had the community rallied around and supported them, perhaps Leah would not have gotten as lost. Like adults, most teens just want to feel accepted and loved – not for what they accomplish or contribute, but for who they are. I’d be thrilled if my novel inspired readers to suspend judgment, to look less harshly at troubled teens and their families. I think we owe it to our teens, to our communities, and to ourselves to work harder to support and encourage all kids, not just those who conform.
Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
LEAH TYLER:  Leah is a strong young woman, beautiful, smart, a superstar in the community. As long as she lives up to their expectations, she’s accepted, even celebrated. As soon as she tries to take control of her own life, question the rules, spread her wings, she meets resistance. When she chooses her troublemaker boyfriend over a promising college soccer career, and heads down a path of drugs and self-destruction, she rips her once happy family apart.
JUSTINE TYLER:  Justine is twelve, in that awkward stage, not really a child anymore and not quite a teen. Justine is intelligent, faithful, and kind, and she sees the best in people, sometimes to her own detriment. Deeply religious, she sees God as Father and protector – a belief that will be challenged by her family’s turmoil. Her best friend is Dog, the family’s aging pet Labrador. Although only twelve, Justine is left to be the rock as the rest of her family plunges into depression.
ZOE AND WILL TYLER:  Zoe and Will are hardworking parents – too hardworking – who love and want the best for their children. Ambitious and strong, Will is willing do whatever it takes to help his children reach their full potential, even if it means alienating them in the process. He can’t sit back, watching his teenage daughter destroy her promising future. Zoe, a child therapist and motivational speaker, is a peacemaker who avoids confrontation, and thus easily falls into depression. Their divided approach to Leah’s rebellion drives a wedge into their marriage.
Rather than listen to their daughter, accept that she’s growing up, that her choices may differ from theirs, and guide her down the path that’s right for her, Zoe and Will try to take control. This is a classic problem between parents and teens. The minute we put our foot down, say no, they can’t do this or that, they tend to focus all their energy in that direction. Zoe and Will’s escalating attempts to control their daughter result in her pulling away. This is a difficult cycle to break.
JERRY JOHNSON:  Jerry Johnson, the police officer, is the only non-family member with a voice in the novel. Jerry’s work as a police officer brings him into frequent contact with the dissolving Tyler family. Though flawed like all the characters, he takes his responsibility for others to heart. He’s the connecting force in this novel.
TODD CORBETT:  Leah’s boyfriend, Todd, a former roadie in a rock band, is a modern day James Dean, a rebel without a cause. He’s been arrested for dealing drugs, so it’s easy to blame him for leading her astray; really, he’s a conduit. He makes her feel comfortable and safe and encourages her blossoming independence.
By the time Leah realizes that he wants to control her, too – albeit in a different way – it’s too late. If only she’d realized how deeply her family loves her, she might have avoided the dire consequences she suffers. That’s the central irony in the book – perhaps the irony in many relationships between parents and teens.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Bob Sullivan, the owner of Sullivan Farms Ice Cream, and Dorothy Klein, the beautiful woman who designs the button bracelets Zoe buys for Leah and herself, are real people.
Every other character is completely imaginary. I did borrow gestures, habits, and physical characteristics from real people – the runaway arm belongs to my youngest daughter, KK; my husband is a darker physical stand-in for Will. Of course, borrowing sometimes results in unfortunate assumptions. I’m lucky – my family puts up with my thievery and ignores the conclusions readers draw.
Personality, motivation, and behavior of my characters I’m fully responsible for.
Q: Your book is set in Cortland, MA.  Can you tell us why you chose this city?
Geographically, the town of Cortland is modeled after the town of Harvard, MA. In the fall, we used to go there to pick apples. Harvard is stunningly beautiful – with the rolling hills, the stone walls, the orchards. Sometimes, Dave and I would drive there and just ride around. This family is in tremendous pain; they’re struggling. That these fierce struggles might take place in this bucolic setting felt surprising, and that tension felt important to the book.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
Judging from the stories I hear, the social and political climate in the imaginary town of Cortland reflects that in many middle- and upper-middle class towns across the U.S., and perhaps outside the U.S. I’ve talked with parents who’ve expressed frustrations similar to Zoe and Will’s. Culturally – not always or only by their parents – children feel pressure to live up to impossible expectations. When children step out of line, the parents and families often feel judged.
Community plays an important role in setting expectations and shaping and maintaining connections. The expectations, the constant demand to perform, can be overwhelming. In small towns, everyone knows everyone else, by sight if not by name. You can’t hide. If you or a family member is in trouble, everyone knows it. That claustrophobia and the constant feeling of condemnation, being watched, inform the inner lives of these characters and influence their behavior.
Q: Who are your favorite characters in the story? 
My characters are all imperfect – they behave badly and they’re sometimes, perhaps often, enormously irritating – but I love them all, for their strengths as well as their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Justine is sweet and caring and kind, so she’s easy to love, but I also love Leah. Although Leah drives the parent in me crazy, her heart is in the right place. The same applies to Zoe and Will – they often make terrible choices; despite their failures, they act out of love.
In the novel, Jerry Johnson, the police officer, is the only non-family member with a voice. Though flawed like all the characters, he takes his responsibility for others to heart. I’ve always admired Gail Mullen Beaudoin, a police officer in Chelmsford, MA. Gail brings strength, dignity and grace to a very difficult job. I see police officers as the connecting force in communities. Every day they put their lives on the line. To me, they’re our real life heroes. As the connecting force in this novel and for this family, Jerry is my favorite.
Q: Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?
In a chapter called “Sisters Redux,” Justine, the geeky, goody-two-shoes little sister, asks Leah for a cigarette. It’s almost painful to see her trying so hard to win her big sister’s acceptance and affection. At first, Leah scoffs; then it dawns on her that Justine is actually serious and her conscience takes over. Leah has made difficult choices and been ostracized for them; for Justine, that path would be wrong. In certain arenas, dorks have the advantage, she thinks.
As she’s about to say no, it occurs to Leah that Justine has a right to make her own choices. With this insight, for the first time since they were young kids, Leah sees Justine as her equal. Despite her reservations, she gives her sister the cigarette. In a sweet moment, later in the chapter, Leah teaches Justine to dance. This love between the sisters is, to me, heartbreaking and special.
Q: If In Leah’s Wake were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?
Will Tyler – Matt Damon. Mr. Damon exudes fatherly love and protectiveness and he’s also very intense. If his daughter were in trouble, I can picture him going into overdrive, like Will, and doing whatever it takes to pull her back.
Zoe Tyler – Sandra Bullock. I see her as loving, driven and ditzy, a less strident version of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the mom she played in The Blind Side.
Leah Tyler – For the role of Leah, I’d search for new talent. Caroline Wakefield, as played by Erika Christensen, in the film Traffic, reminded me of Leah, in her all-American beauty and stunning transformation from preppy to drug-addicted prostitute. Ms. Christensen is too old for this role, but she’d be the prototype.
Justine Tyler – Abigail Breslin. Like Justine, she’s sweet and dorky and cute. She’s also precocious and strong.
Jerry Johnson – Vince Vaughn. He’s not the guy who walks into a room and gets the girl, but he’s centered and responsible, the rock for the others to lean on.
Todd Corbett (Leah’s boyfriend) – Jordan Masek. Jordan plays the role of Todd in my trailer. Jordan is actually a sweet guy, in real life. But he knows how to channel his inner bad boy. I can’t imagine a more appropriately cast 


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