Archive for May, 2012

Kimberly Dana’s latest book will bring hours of reading pleasure to teen girls, especially those with a particular interest in cheerleading.

Years ago, a murder was committed in a cheerleading camp: a beautiful teenager with beautiful red flowing hair was drowned in the lake. Rumors say the killer was her best friend.

Now, ten years later, our witty protagonist Tiki Tinklemeyer is put in the same camp by her parents, who want their daughter to become more social and outgoing. But Tiki couldn’t hate the situation more. She feels awkward and out of place, to say the least. She’s not into fashion, makeup and boys, like the other girls in the camp. Worst of all, she’s never done cheerleading in her life! How could her parents have been so cruel? How will she possibly fit in? Thank God, one of her roommates, Rubi, turns out to be rather nice.

Soon, Tiki finds out about the ten-year old murder and the rumors that the dead girl’s ghost still roams the camp. Tiki can handle rumors of ghosts. After all, she’s an intelligent girl with common sense. However, things take a turn for the worse when strange events begin to take place in the camp. Is it one of the girls playing a trick on her — or is it the ghost of the murdered girl?

This was a delightful read! Dana really has a talent for getting inside the head of teen girls. The voice is young and fresh and the pace moves quickly with lots of fun, quirky dialogue. So this is a soft horror story with a humorous twist. The story was intriguing enough to keep me reading throughout, and the ending was good, promising more to come in Book Two. The only thing I found a little annoying was how the author wrote the dialogue by some of the girls in capitals. At times it was too much, and I found it distracting. Because of this detail, I’m going to give this book 4.5 instead of 5. Recommended!

To learn more, please visit the author’s website at: http://kimberlydana.com/

Purchase from Amazon.

My review originally appeared in Blogcriticshttp://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-cheerage-fearage-by-kimberly/#ixzz1vzpeDjC9

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The Realms of Animar is an enjoyable read, one that will appeal to teens who are fans of fantasy and science fiction.

Set in a world where people have two forms, one human and one animal, this is the story of Thane, a teenage boy whose life is suddenly turned upside down when his animal form unexpectedly transforms into something never seen before. Filled with inmmense power, he now holds the key to the future of Animar and to saving his people from struggle and oppression. But Fatalis, the evil force who plans to rule Animar, learns about Thane and creates an army to destroy him and anybody who gets in the way of his plan. In order to fight Fatalis, Thane seeks the help of other beings, the Avians and Aquans. In a twist of fate, the hunters and the hunted must get together to save their world. 

Though the beginning was kind of slow, with a lot of information being presented by dialogue, I was intrigued with the story enough to keep reading. The author does a fairly good job in creating his medieval world — which, by the way, doesn’t have dragons, elves or sorcery like so many other books in this genre nowadays — and dividing it into five realms: Herbivore, Carnic, Avian, Aquan and Reptilian. I enjoyed the action, battle scenes, and watching Thane grow into a brave, fearless warrior and hero. Though it has some violence, the language and other aspects make this book appropriate for the lower young adult crowd and even for middle graders. Recommended for readers 11 & up.

Website: http://www.therealmsofanimar.com

Purchase from Amazon or B&N

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-the-realms-of-animar/#ixzz1vuXLnMbH

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ImageJuliana (Jill) Muehrcke is the award-winning author of many books and articles. Founder and editor of the international magazine Nonprofit World (snpo.org), she has studied at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan and has a BA degree, specializing in English and psychology, from the University of Washington. Jill is listed in Who’s Who (MarquisWhoswho.com). In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and eating ethnic food. For many years, in several cities, including Seattle, Honolulu, and Madison, she has written restaurant reviews.

Her latest book is Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope.

You can visit her website at www.WakingUpHappyBook.com.

Listen to Jill on the Joy Cardin Show at http://wpr.org/search/ideas_program_search.cfm?StartYear=3&keyword=muehrcke&x=0&y=0.     


1. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself? 

My life has revolved around reading and writing for as long as I can remember. Editing is also a passion of mine. Some of my friends gave me the moniker “the goddess of editing” because I talked with such enthusiasm about how much I loved to edit. I’m the editor of the magazine NONPROFIT WORLD (www.snpo.org), which I founded 30 years ago, and that’s a labor of love. I’ve been a freelance writer and editor since about 1973. I’ve had dozens of books, articles, and monographs published over the years, mostly in the nonprofit and educational fields. My most recent book, WAKING UP HAPPY: A HANDBOOK OF CHANGE WITH MEMOIRS OF RECOVERY AND HOPE is a complete departure for me, and it’s also by far the most personal thing I’ve ever written. 

2. Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story. 

WAKING UP HAPPY is a combination of memoirs and self-enhancement exercises. Readers tell me the combination is very powerful and has helped them change their lives when nothing else has worked for them. They say that, first, they’re inspired by the true stories of others who have prevailed. And, then, the exercises and to-do lists spur them in the right direction toward transformative change. I wrote the book because it’s exactly what I was looking for when I decided to change my own life for the better. WAKING UP HAPPY includes my own memoir, as well as the memoirs of my daughter, granddaughter, and over 30 others who have made dramatic changes in their lives. When one of the storytellers learns a lesson in their life, I’ve added activities readers can do to put that same lesson to use.

 3. Did your book require a lot of research? 

Some of the research was already done, since I’ve been collecting exercises, tips, and tactics for change for many years in order to create a fulfilling life for myself. When I started writing WAKING UP HAPPY, I began interviewing other people who, like me, had experimented with many methods of change. So then it was a matter of telling their stories – not only what they did to transform their lives but how they did it – and adding exercises that would help readers make similar changes in their own lives. 

4. What was your goal when writing this book? 

ImageMy aim was to help as many people as possible learn the keys to waking up happy every day. One of the suggestions in the book is to ask someone to be your Waking Up Happy Buddy. That person can be a friend or family member – or just someone you think would enjoy the process of self-discovery as much as you. If you don’t know the person well, that’s OK. You’ll soon become extremely close as you both do the exercises, then get together on a regular basis to discuss your results and insights. I think that’s the best way to use WAKING UP HAPPY and the best way to create life-enhancing change. 

5. Who is your target audience? 

Anyone who is ready to change their life for the better! While the memoirists who tell their stories in WAKING UP HAPPY are all recovering from addictions, harmful habits, and intolerable situations, you don’t have to be in despair to benefit from making life changes. Growth is constant and lifelong if you’re doing it right. We all have our gaps that need work. Even those who are successful high-achievers, who consider themselves winners, often need to alter their lives. They may be working so hard that they risk destroying their relationships and letting stress ruin their health. Stress is a killer, so it’s life-saving to replace overwork with calming, self-sustaining habits. So, when I say the audience for WAKING UP HAPPY is anyone who wants or needs to make changes in their lives, I guess I’m saying that there’s no one who isn’t part of the target audience! 

6. What will the reader learn after reading your book? 

WAKING UP HAPPY is an encyclopedia of ways to make changes – both small and large –  in your life every day. In addition to the exercises that appear each time a memoirist learns a life lesson, every chapter ends with “Things to Do Today.” At the end of WAKING UP HAPPY are chapters called “What Works and What Doesn’t” and “365 Steps on Your Journey.” So, even after you finish reading the book, there’s a helpful exercise for every day of the next year to keep you on your path. The memoirs will have made it crystal-clear that revolutionary change is possible. The exercises will show you how to do it. There’s even an index so you can look up exercises on a particular part of your life you’d like to improve. Everything is at hand to make your spirit sing! And you will also learn this: You are not alone. Others have been where you are, and they have triumphed. You can, too, All the need do is take one small step today. Then take another one tomorrow. In time, these tiny steps will evolve into profound change. 

7. Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects? 

I’m putting together a workshop which may end up being an all-day or all-weekend event. Participants can do the exercises in WAKING UP HAPPY and then spend time in reflection and discussion. I’m also urging book clubs to choose WAKING UP HAPPY as their selection of the month so that I can come to their book discussion (either in person or virtually). Again, we can do some of the exercises together at that time and explore our discoveries. I think doing the exercises, writing down your results, pondering them, and then sharing them with others is the core secret to creating meaningful, lasting change. 

8. Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Yes. Please come visit us at www.WakingUpHappyBook.com. I would love to have you share your own stories, ideas, and insights there and connect with other readers who are on the same journey with you. 

9 As an author, what is your greatest reward? 

My greatest reward is hearing from readers that they’ve forged fulfilling, joyous lives as a result of reading what I’ve written. It makes everything worth it! 

10. Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work? 

I’m donating half the proceeds from WAKING UP HAPPY to the Recovery Foundation (www.recoveryfoundation.net) – a wonderful group that provides scholarships for people who want counseling but can’t afford it. So when you buy a copy of WAKING UP HAPPY, you won’t just be transforming your own life! You’ll also be transforming the life of someone else! 

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ImageJohn H. Byk (pen name, Conrad Johnson) was born and raised on the gritty streets of Detroit, Michigan.  After surviving high school, he joined the Coast Guard and then went back to school to earn his Masters of Art in English.  Still aching to see more of the world, he worked as a Merchant Seaman and then taught English in Japan and Thailand before returning to Detroit to teach high school.  Having had enough, he retired early and now spends his time writing and interviewing contemporary authors on his podcast blog, 2012writersALIVE, from his home in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula.  When not chained to the computer, he spends his free time hunting, fishing, hiking, sailing and enjoying nature with his best friend Judy and his adoring canine, Sarah.

To promote his trilogy, the John Oxman Vogages, the author is offering the prequel, Detroit Daze free on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

About the book:

ImageDetroit Daze is a novel about guts, glory and gangs set in the Mad Motor City of Detroit, Michigan.  Not for the faint of heart. Not for the nostalgic minded reader.  Not for suckers but for survivors only.


What was your inspiration for Detroit Daze?

I wrote my first novel, Till the Moon Falls, in 2010.  When I finished it, a sequel came to mind so I went right to work on that. It’s called, Xe-Nophobia. After finding an old high school friend on Facebook, he suggested that I should write a novel about those wild and crazy days so I did, figuring that a trilogy was better than a duology.  The book is a prequel that completes The John Oxman Voyages series.

How long did it take you to complete Detroit Daze?

Once I finished my first novel I couldn’t stop writing.  I finished all three books in a year and then a fourth one and now I’m working on my fifth. I’ve also written non fiction, chapbooks along the way.  If there’s a day that goes by that I’m not writing, then I’m thinking about writing.

What do you find most challenging about writing crime fiction?

Avoiding sensationalism.  Blood and violence for its own sake does not a good story make.  There has to be a compelling narrative to justify it all.

 What is your favorite scene in the book?

To be honest, I hated the entire manuscript when I was done with it.  But then I shared it with Rebecca Forster, indie author of the best selling Witness Series and she nearly flipped out because she loved it so much.  She answers this question best when she posted a review on Amazon that says, “Every word, every plot turn, every scene was so graphically presented that the reader prays the main character will be able to escape his circumstances. You will never forget Heavy, Berwyn and the rich cast of characters portrayed in this novel.”

What do you love most about being an author?

The freedom to dream, explore, create, share and to have an excuse for eating fudge brownies for a sugar buzz while working.

What does an author need to do to be a guest on your radio show, 2012writersALIVE? 

First of all, they have to have a book that’s on the market and ready to be purchased with a click. Secondly, I prefer authors that have experience related to the work they are promoting and/or credentials more substantial than just being a blogger.  I screen potential guests carefully to keep my show classy and relevant (I hope!).  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, they need a telephone or Skype connection, especially if they live outside of the USA.

What’s on the near horizon?

Warmer weather and lots of fishing trips.  Seriously. I can hardly believe how much I’ve written in the past two years and all the interviews that I’ve done.  I feel it’s time to slow down a bit, catch my breath and cast a few flies for trout as I still continue working on my next project and soliciting guests for my podcast blog at a much more relaxed pace than before.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

If you’re a writer, write from your own social milieu. If you’re a reader (as all good writers should be), always have at least two books on your nightstand (or on your electronic device) that you’re working your way through.  Scan and sift through everything that you come across in print.  Also, watch a goofy comedy film every now and then.  Besides that, make sure you wear sunscreen on the beach.

Connect with John H. Byk:

Twitter: johnhbyk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/john.h.byk

Link to excerpt: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79687

Link to purchase page: http://johnbyk.blogspot.com

Link to book trailer: http://youtu.be/pPV9ID3QAHE

Don’t forget to download your free copy of Detroit Daze from Smashwords or Barnes and Noble:



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Book description: 

Alan Watt wrote the first draft of his novel Diamond Dogsin just under 90 days, and later sold the North American rights for $500,000 to Little, Brown in a bidding war. The book became a national bestseller, won a slew of awards and is soon to be a major motion picture.Get the first draft down quickly! The 90-Day Novelis a day-by-day guide through the process of getting the first draft of your novel onto the page. The 90-Day Novel was workshopped at LA Writers’ Lab over three years and has helped hundreds of writers complete their work. Some of his students have gone on to become bestselling authors and win major literary awards.The 90-Day Novelis structured into three parts.

Part One describes the process of getting your story from imagination to the page and prepares you, through a few simple, powerful writing exercises to access the story within. Part Two is The 90-Day Novel, a series of 90 daily letters that will guide you through the hero’s journey. Writers often tend to get stuck halfway through, mired somewhere in their “idea” of the story. The 90-Day Novel will show you how and why you got stuck, and how to get to the end of your first draft. Part Three is a compendium of stream-of-consciousness writing exercises designed to help you access the primal forces in your story, as well as the Structure Questions that will invite up images at key stages in your hero’s journey.

The 90-Day Novel teaches you how to distill your plot to its nature, and clarifies the mysterious process of assembling vague disparate images into a coherent narrative. Working in this way, story structure (which is often taught as a formula) becomes a springboard, setting you free to explore the far reaches of your imagination. “There are no rules,” Watt tells us. “Stay out of your left brain, and let your unconscious do the heavy lifting.” The 90-Day Novel clearly articulates the process of marrying the rigor of story structure to the wildness of the imagination, and in the process reminds us of something we so often forget…that writing is actually fun.

My thoughts:
From all the books on writing I’ve ever read–and they are in the dozens–I can honestly say this is by far the best. The best way to describe this book is: plotting for right brainers.
Why for right brainers? Because Watt teaches you how to plot in an organic, stream-of-consciousness manner. Think of it as Writing the Breakout Novel meets The Artist’s Way. What really struck me about this method is the idea that we can’t solve a problem at the same level of consciousness that created that problem. What this means is that often it is impossible to plot a strong, compelling ending of a novel unless we’ve gone through the journey with our characters, that we must allow our characters to play and trust our subconscious to do the work. Watt also advises to keep curious all throughout the writing process, so that new questions emerge while our world takes shape.
An important point Watt stresses is that ” it is character that suggests plot,” and that stories are about transformation and a “shift in perception.” According to the author, at the heart of every story is a dilemma, which isn’t meant to be confused with the problem.  Watt goes on to explain the difference between the two: “Problems are solved, while dilemmas are resolved through a shift in perception.”
The 90-Day Novel is an insightful, revealing, must-read for any serious novelist. This is a book I’ll continue to use every time I start a new novel. The exercises are spot-on for getting me in touch with my subconscious and creativity. Finally, in addition to being insightful and practical, the book is also highly inspiring. Every novelist has those moments of self doubt, and Watt tackles these too.

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Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here: One Woman’s Journey to Recovery from Incest is a deeply disturbing memoir. At the same time it is an important book, one that offers a strong message of hope and renewal to victims of this terrible crime.

“My decision to write this book came from a deep desire to say, ‘You are not alone.’ I share some of my memories and some lessons I have learned to aid me in living a happier life,” writes Carey.

In her candid, honest voice and simple, straight-forward style, the author tells us what her childhood and teen years were like. It was hell, being abused by a manipulative father and raised by a mother who often beat her with a belt yet at the same time was–or seemed to be–completely oblivious and unaware of what was going on in her household.

While reading the book, I couldn’t decide whether I was more angry and disgusted at the father or at the mother. What makes me even more revolted is the fact that some of the relatives knew what was going on but never said or did anything to help. It’s so hard to accept that this kind of situation happens all the time. This is a brave, poignant account of a victim finally shouting out to the world the horrors of incest and its often inevitable consequences such as teen pregnancy and prostitution.

All I can say is that I take my hat off to this courageous author for having written this memoir. Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here includes a lot of practical information and resources for victims. If you’re a victim of incest or you know someone who is, I recommend this book. If you suspect someone of being a victim, this is the right book for you as well. The author includes various checklists for signs, prevention and aftereffects.

To find out more about this book and the author, please visit Brinda Carey’s website.

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-dont-cry-daddys-here/#ixzz1uG1kbIQK

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Does what you read or where you read say anything about you?  I tend to read in bed before turning in for the night, but I also “read” or listen to audiobooks in the car.  What this says about me is that I tend to read when I’m somewhere quiet, and non-book  words (spoken or otherwise) are less likely to distract me.

One of the reasons I need this is because my ears seem to pick up everything around me.  This could be because of my classical music training, and playing in a symphony orchestra where one must listen to and be aware of dozens of other parts playing with one’s own.  And you must be able to fit in harmony and rhythm as well.  So you hear details, you are hyper aware.

When I’m in a crowded room, it’s difficult for me to tune out everyone else talking in the background, and truly focus on what one person—the one talking to me—is saying.  I’m hearing several conversations all at once.  That’s why if you meet me at a party and want to talk to me, I might pull you aside to somewhere less noisy.  I’m not trying to be exclusive, I just want to hear you better without all the other “noise.”

As a reader, even audible sounds and words will distract me from what I’m reading.  My wife is quite the opposite.  Her background is in education.  And when she was a teacher of middle schoolers, she had to develop the ability to tune out the noise and focus on what she needed to .  Sometimes she gets so good at tuning things out and focusing that she tunes me out.  It’s then I have to tap her shoulder with a smile, and she realizes she’s done it.

The one reading time I’m extremely protective of is my morning Bible reading.  During that hour, I shut the door, keep the computer off, and tune out everything/everyone else.  No internet, no phone calls, no emails, nothing.  I’ve gained the most out of those times to an immeasurable benefit.

ImageNow, if I’m ever going to finish Stephen King’s 11/22/63 before I’m a senior citizen, I’d better set aside some focused time like that.

What kind of reader are you?  Can you multi-thread and multi-task?  Can you read, and talk to someone on the phone at the same time?  Or are you like me, and get frustrated when you’re trying to read, and someone in the library is whispering, but having an intriguing conversation that you really don’t want to eavesdrop on, but can’t help hearing—and thus get distracted?

About Josh

Joshua Graham is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon and Barnes & Noble legal thriller BEYOND JUSTICE.  His latest book DARKROOM won a First Prize award in the Forward National Literature award and was an award-winner in the USA Book News “Bests Books 2011” awards.


Connect with Josh at the following:
Website: www.joshua-graham.com/blog
FACEBOOK: http://joshua-graham.com/fb
Twitter: @J0shuaGraham


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What happens when a moody teenage angel is forced to attend high-school?

The answer is Griffin’s Fire.

Griffin’s Fire is the second installment in Darby Karchut‘s Terrae Angeli young adult fantasy series, published by Twilight Times Books. I didn’t read the first book in the series and have to say that I was a bit lost at the beginning of the story. Fortunately, not for long. Karchut provides only the essential bits of backstory and I was soon engulfed in Griffin’s world. As far as the first book, Griffin Rising goes, suffice to say that Griffin is a supernatural being known as a Terrae Angeli, a being who has the ability to control Fire, Water, Wind and Earth and who, like a guardian warrior, helps humans who are in danger. Book I is all about his apprenticeship, relationship to his mentor, love for a mortal girl and ‘fall’ into the world of mortals when he’s banished from the Terrae Angeli.

In this book II, Griffin is forced to live like a normal mortal teenager and enroll in Centennial High, a form of hell on earth. Not only must he adjust to his new nature, but he must also deal with nasty math teachers and especially with his mentor Basil’s new Terrae Angeli apprentice, who comes to live with them and who does everything in his power to drive Griffin crazy and turn Basil against him. Griffin is pretty miserable, even more so when he’s compelled to breakup with his beloved Kate and hide the powers that refuse to die within his own being. Is his Terrae Angeli nature gone for good — or are his powers back? If so, why? What does it mean? And how must he keep this knowledge a secret without betraying Basil and others who trust him?

I had a lot of fun reading this novel. The story moves quickly, the characters are all distinct with their own quirks and personalities and Griffin is truly sympathetic — moody, hot-tempered and impulsive yet with a kind and courageous heart. Karchut does a good job with her teen-friendly prose and her voice is fresh and engaging. After I finished reading the novel I felt an urge to get myself a copy of the first book to see how it all started. So the main characters are definitely ones to root for. Griffin’s Fire will appeal to both boy and girl teens and to angel-fiction fans in general. Recommended.

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-griffins-fire-by-darby/#ixzz1uAl5u100

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Join Denise Robbins, author of the romantic suspense novel, Phish NET Stalkings (L&L Dreamspell), as she virtually tours the blogosphere April 2 – May 25 2012 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

ImageHigh-tech becomes high-risk in Denise Robbins’ novels. The New Hampshire based author uses two decades of experience in computers to explore the killer possibilities in technology. Denise integrates her knowledge of computers and technology along with secrets, intrigue, suspense, and even a little romance into all of her techno-romantic thriller novels. Readers and reviewers agree Denise writes stories that will keep you at the edge of your seat and clamoring for more.

Her latest book is Phish NET Stalkings.

You can visit her website at http://www.deniserobbins.com.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Official Tour Page 


Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I’m a blonde go-getter who loves to spend her free time with family and friends, play in the dirt of her gardens, and spin tales of romance and suspense.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

I devoured books. I still devour them. You should see my garage. I enjoyed non-fiction and any story that had horses in it. As a kid I read quite a few of the books my father would read.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

Phish NET Stalkings revolves around online dating, and internet phishing scams.

When Jane East is looking for Mr. Right through an online dating service, she receives an e-card and unknowingly installs phishing software onto her computer. Along comes Cooper Chance, who helps her track the cyber phishing scammer, while she helps in his investigation of a man who attacks women using the online dating service.

There are many twists and turns, including the fact that Cooper is seen wearing ladies’ pink underwear, and the small problem of Jane’s intense fear of cops—caused by seeing her mother and granny Pearl murdered by men with badges. Of course, those men are still on the loose and searching for her. Can Cooper get past her guard in order to save her life?


ImageThe inspiration: Have you ever received an e-card or a link in your email from someone you don’t know? What about those emails supposedly coming from your bank? Are they safe?

Almost all of us who use computers nowadays have experienced the internet phishing scam to some extent. I wanted to make readers aware and show them what could happen to the worst extent and how to prevent it.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

My ideas usually come while I am crawling into bed or just falling into dreamland. Or in the shower.

Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?

My muse and I get along fairly well. Every once and a while she refuses to cooperate. When that happens, I write my own writing prompts to inspire her to want to write anything. If that doesn’t work, I get in the car and take long drives. That usually works.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

With some help from my father who is my first-round editor, I edit as I move along one chapter at a time and keep going. Once the story is complete, I go back and edit the full manuscript.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

The age old adage of any publicity is good publicity.

As a writer, what scares you the most?

I’m most fearful that my books won’t be read.

How do you divide your time between taking care of a home and children, and writing? Do you plan your writing sessions in advance?

When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?

I’m an early bird. I get up on Sunday mornings before the rest of the world wakes up and I go find a corner in Panera then curl up with my laptop and write.

Do you have any unusual writing quirks?

I don’t think I have any real quirks, but I do seem to have a knack for always starting a love scene while I am sitting in the middle of a restaurant. Picture me with my laptop, flushed cheeks, and fanning myself in an air-conditioned restaurant. If you see someone like that it’s probably me writing my next love scene.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Blog: http://deniserobbins.blogspot.com

Website: http://www.deniserobbins.com

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

My current work-in-progress is a story that takes place in Kenmare, Ireland. What happens when you mix an Irish pub keeper, her family, the Irish Republican Army, and an ex-ATF agent? Explosive!

As an author, what is your greatest reward?

My greatest reward as an author is when a reader takes the time to tell me they read my book and what they thought. That is the best feeling.


Author Bio: High-tech becomes high-risk in Denise Robbins’ novels. The New Hampshire based author uses two decades of experience in computers to explore the killer possibilities in technology. Denise integrates her knowledge of computers and technology along with secrets, intrigue, suspense, and even a little romance into all of her techno-romantic thriller novels. Readers and reviewers agree Denise writes stories that will keep you at the edge of your seat and clamoring for more.

To find out more about Denise Robbins or check out her latest books visit her website at http://www.deniserobbins.com. Now available are Phish NET Stalkings, Never Tempt Danger, Connect the Dots, Killer Bunny Hill, It Happens in Threes.


Phish NET Stalkings Blurb: All she wanted was to find love. Was that too much to ask? How difficult could it be to find one man, the perfect man for her?


After dating the losers of the century, Jane decides there has to be a better way. She turns to an online dating service. After all, they guarantee a ‘happily ever after’ or your money back.


Jane East, CEO of Not-So- Plain- Jane’s organic cosmetics wants to fall in love with a man who makes her toes curl when he kisses her. Unfortunately, the one man who makes her toes curl also wears ladies’ pink underwear and a badge. The pink underwear she could probably deal with, but the badge is a different story.


Ever since seeing her mother and granny Pearl murdered by men with badges, Jane has a fear of cops and anyone who carries a badge. Especially, because the killers are still on the loose and searching for her.


Former FBI Cybercrime special agent turned small-town Chief of Police, Cooper Chance, gets caught with his pants down and his family jewels tucked in pink ladies’ underwear with lacy frills when he meets the woman of his dreams. That’s not his only issue. The woman has a fear of cops. If he can get past her guard, maybe he can save her life.


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ImageTalking about Lola Cruz is one of my favorite things to do, and I’m so excited to be hanging out on The Dark Phantom today.  Bare-Naked Lola is the third Lola Cruz Mystery (Living the Vida Lola was first and then Hasta la Vista, Lola -4 1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews, came next). 


Despite the fact that it’s the third book in a series, I bet Lola Cruz mysteries are probably brand new to many of you. I thought I’d launch right into how she came to be.  I hope you end up loving her as much as I do!


There’s one thing that I’m asked (sometimes with raised eyebrows) as a writer of a Latina mystery series. 


Bet you can’t guess what the question is.


I’ll give you a hint.  I’m not Latina.  In fact, I say in my bio that I’m proud to be Latina-by-Marriage. 


So, the question is… drum roll…


“Why do you write a Latina character, and how did you manage to make her so authentic?” (My first editor, a Latina, felt that Lola Cruz was one of the most authentic Latina characters she’d read.  I felt so honored and as if I’d really done justice to the character and the culture when she told me that)


The short answer is: “I’m a writer, of course, so it all comes so easily!  Why not a Latina?” 


But that, of course, is a complete lie (the part about it coming easy, not the part about me being a writer). 


Writing is hard work, and it’s true that you have to write about what you know.  But, as I’ve already stated, I’m not Latina.  I’m a white girl from California now living in North Texas.  But I married a Latino man (21 years married now) and I’ve learned so much about his culture through the years of our relationship, so I really do feel as if I know Lola.  I know her from the outside looking in.  I know her though my children’s eyes.  I know her through my husband and his family.  His parents lived with us for several years, his sister is one of my best friends and is the sister I never had, and so many elements of the Mexican culture speak to me.  So I write this series and write Lola because there is so much beauty in the Mexican culture and it truly speaks to me.


When we had children, it became even more important that we find ways to bring that culture into our American lives, to show the kids the culture that is part of their history, and for them to embrace that part of them.  When the character of Lola Cruz (given name Dolores) came to me, it felt right because in so many ways I felt that this family that I’d created in my mind represented so many things I wanted to emphasize about the Mexican culture for my kids.  The family, the faith, the language, the food, the traditions…  But I also wanted to show how these elements can be balanced within an American life.  


Lola balances (or struggles to balance) life with the cultural and familial expectations placed on her with her own passions and desires which stem from living as an American.  I was particularly careful and conscious not to slip into stereotypes, and when people comment that my characters are so authentic and non-stereotypical, I take great pride in that!


So, who is Lola Cruz?  Here she is in a nutshell:


Dolores “Lola” Cruz: Part Crusader, Part Swashbuckler, Part Sage




Lola’s single, a good Catholic girl (usually), but willing to do a lot to live her dream of being a detective.  She works for muy misterioso Manny Camacho, has always loved old high school crush Jack Callaghan, and has a modern day rogue for a brother.  The long and the short of it is that Lola can definitely hold her own in any situation, even when her mother’s berating her for having a career instead of marriage and children, when her mafioso grandfather has her doing ‘family’ work, and when her grandmother thinks she’s a ghost.


The Look:


Long auburn hair with copper highlights, hips and boobs and curves to spare, stripper shoes (to go with her strip list), and a wardrobe full of clothes that Jack Callaghan can’t resist her in.  A belly button ring…maybe.  A black belt in kung fu and a love of yoga make her fit and strong.


Leading Man:


Jack Callaghan, newspaper columnist with a past and some baggage that prevents him and Lola from moving forward.  Who is Sarah, anyway?


The Bottom Line:


Lola Cruz is a feisty heroine.  She’s smart, sexy, and sassy.  She’s a great friend, loyal, and kick ass.  I like to say she’s my alter ego (if I were a super hot, sexy, smart Latina detective).


So, that’s Lola’s story.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear!  Oh! I have a copy of Hasta la Vista, Lola! (book 2 in the series) for one commenter.  The books don’t have to be read in order.  They stand alone as mysteries, although the relationship between Lola and Jack develops with each book.


Meet the characters!  Read Lola and her crew’s On-Line Dating profiles.


ImageAbout Melissa Bourbon


Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas.  She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.


She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox and two romantic suspense titles.


Visit Melissa at her website | Twitter Page | Facebook Home | Goodreads | and Books on the House, a website bringing books and readers together!


Join Melissa’s mailing list at her website:  http://misaramirez.com 


About Bare Naked Lola


Going undercover is second nature for Private Investigator Lola Cruz, but she’s out of her league when the case of a murdered Royals Courtside Dancer leads her to a local nudist resort. Parading around the sidelines of Sacramento’s professional basketball scene in a barely-there cheerleading outfit is one thing—but parading around in nothing but smile? If she has any chance of hiding this from her traditional family and on-again/off-again boyfriend Jack, she’s going to have a lot more than her duct tape bra and killer dance moves to keep under wraps….


Get your copy of Bare-Naked Lola at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!




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