Archive for February, 2013

1 counselor dynamite starr 2Hello, my name is Starr Burgess and my journey to becoming an author began as a school counselor in 2008 where I had the privilege of serving students and colleagues in the Pflugerville, TX and Round Rock, TX School Districts and now currently in my own practice.

I can’t express the joy and gratitude that I feel each and every day that I wake up and began a new day in my ministry, my quest to serve others. We as counselors advocate hope, encouragement, and change each and every day. It’s the way we walk, talk, smile, and assist. The motto I fell in love with and keep in my heart every day is: “No One Cares How Much You Know Unless They Know How Much You Care,” how fitting and inspiring for our profession!

Never did I envision that writing children’s books, lesson plans and activities, and a counseling product line would be my next endeavor but I am completely committed, capable, and thankful for the opportunity to serve you, my fellow counselors. I have been working on writing books for several years and finally created the main character, Counselor Dynamite, whom I lovingly refer to as the pioneer super hero of schools.

Counselor Dynamite represents counselors everywhere, whether your workplace is in schools, private practices, agencies, or non-for-profits. Counselor Dynamite is more than just a character, the name is a reminder of how important our responsibilities and services are to our students, children, adults, families, and colleagues. Counselors wear many hats in the operation of schools, many hats that people don’t see but experience as the fruit of their labor.

My mission in every book is to re-energize the importance of the counselor’s role in schools everywhere. You are Counselor Dynamite!

Website: www.counselordynamite.com


1 counselor dynamite

It’s Christmas time and Counselor Dynamite is the newest superhero to hit the scene.

Counselor Dynamite’s mission: To serve and protect children and support staff members in schools everywhere.

It’s the day before Christmas break. Teachers and staff are either running low on patience or are just plain tired. The students as you might have guessed are full of unbridled energy, but one thing is for sure everyone is ready to start Christmas break. Counselor Dynamite notices that something is amiss and quickly jumps into action knowing that if something isn’t done soon, students, teachers and staff will never be the same once chaos is unleashed. Will her helpers and faith be enough? Starr Burgess’s endearing story is brought to life by Victor Guiza’s vivid, colorful, and crisp illustrations.

Counselor Dynamite will capture the laughter and spirit of the holiday season with mischievous behavior and humor so contagious you will want to read it again. Counselors everywhere will be inspired to reinvent their own special quick, happy dance marking the end of each adventurous day.

Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Apple iTunes Store

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2 VincentHobbes_02An avid reader as a child, horror author Vincent Hobbes grew up nurtured by parents who encouraged his creativity. His dad used to read to him, Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, over and over. In high school, he had two wonderful teachers who motivated him and gave him the confidence to pursue his creative mind.

“My parents always pushed me to be creative,” states Hobbes. “They allowed me to harness that side, something I believe few parents do. I read a lot, and always enjoyed reading and writing. In high school, I had two English teachers that urged me on. They made the subject interesting, and sparked a wild ride where I eventually became a writer.”

His fascination with horror fiction began at an early age. Like many authors of his generation, he read a lot of Stephen King. He also loved horror movies. To top it off, he also liked scaring people. “Ask my sister, I absolutely loved scaring her the most while growing up. I suppose she was my test subject. Horror has always come natural to me.”

Today, Hobbes is the author of The Contrived Senator, Exiles, Plight of the WarriorTo Read or Not to ReadThe Hour of the TimeLimbo-population 428The Dragon of DelinarTHEY, Khost, Charms Indigo, and Seal Team 2025. His job consists of writing and producing other books for writers. “I’m one of the lucky ones,” he says, “I get to do this full time.” One of his latest novels, Khost, is a military horror/thriller inspired by actual events about a group of Special Operators in Afghanistan who are sent on a mission to kill ‘something’ in a cave. He calls military horror Militainment, or military entertainment, a category that can cross into horror, action, adventure, and thrillers.

Hobbes describes his working environment as “unorganized madness,” and tries to keep a disciplined writing schedule to stay in practice and exercise his creative muscles. He believes that’s what defines a professional writer from one who simply likes to write. He may stray from it at times, but usually the pressure of a deadline keeps him on track. As far as his writing process, he doesn’t edit as he goes. He believes a story must be put on paper first, and he tries to write as fast 1 Khost Coveras he can until he has a completed manuscript. “In my opinion, you lose momentum if you try to perfect your work before finishing. Editing can wait,” he says.

Success can be hard to define, but this writer seems to have clarity about this facet of being an author: “If I can have readers enjoy some down time with one of my books, I feel I’ve been successful,” he states. “And if I continue to grow as a writer, and get better as time passes, I feel that’s successful too.”

Hobbes’s advice to aspiring horror authors is to “Write and write what you want. Going outside the box is more important than following a certain mold. To do this, a writer must write.” He also reviews books on his blog and is happy to consider novels from other authors.

Presently, the author is enjoying the Militainment sub-genre and has a novella, Charms Indigo, and a short novel, Seal Team 2025 coming up soon.

Find Vincent Hobbes on the Web:

Website: www.VincentHobbes.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/VincentHobbes

Twitter: @HobbesEnd

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1054429.Vincent_Hobbes

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Bob FergusonBob Ferguson grew up in a remote region of Canada without electricity or telephones. He spent evenings listening to an old battery-operated radio and dreaming of faraway places. Later in life he traveled extensively. His travels to the Bahamas form the basis for Buzzard Bay. The author and his wife currently live in Fiji, where Bob writes and his wife teaches. Their children and grandchildren live in Canada.



About the Book:

Murder, drugs trafficking, kidnapping and betrayal are the detonators that set Bob Ferguson’s explosive thriller BUZZARD BAY into motion.

The tale begins on a cold winter night in a remote area of Canada. Five assassins surround an old farm house. They have already made four kills and this one seems as routine as the others. But then a dog barks and the murderous plan is suddenly disrupted. In a breathless chase over the next two days, three of the assassins lie dead, including their leader. Eventually, the only assassin to escape is a man named Henekie. He had vowed to kill the man they missed and knew someone who would be willing to pay him to do it. He heads back to Germany to find that contact.

The killers’ target is Bob Green, a Canadian farmer who needs some serious funding to keep his business operating in the black. A solution seemed to materialize when Bob joined the other assassination victims to work on a farm project in the Bahamas touted as “the opportunity of a lifetime.” Bob and his wife, July, had spent a blissful honeymoon in the Bahamas, so he is happy to return to his paradise with the promise of making money. But paradise turns deadly when his Buzzard BAy 4fellow workers discover that the project is just a front to keep an airstrip open to be used as part of a cocaine distribution route from the islands. Now, the Canadians are being eliminated one by one after being sent back home, and someone is holding July in the Bahamas. Bob must get back to the Bahamas to find her.

The suspense mounts as Bob sets out to rescue his wife and set things right. To do that, he must agree to a CIA plot to go underground and pose as a well-known drug dealer thought to be dead. His decision puts both July’s and his life at stake.

Bob Ferguson’s Buzzard Bay gives readers all the adventure and thrill they could ask for in this unputdownable read.


Would you call yourself a born writer? No, but I have stories to tell and I think people will like to read about them.

What was your inspiration for Buzzard Bay? I went to a remote island in the Bahamas where I found an airstrip that had been ploughed up. I asked the locals about the airstrip and the stories they told me were my inspiration.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing? How cocaine travels around the world and its effects on people’s lives.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? We travel a lot so I like to use many locations in my books. This book took me ten years to complete but my next one will follow the same characters with new locations so it will not take long.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day. Some days I will write a chapter, and other days I will write more. This past year, I have spent approximately six hours a day writing. Sometimes I did not write anything for a few days until I had everything straight in my head.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book? Timeline and cast of characters.

What do you love most about being an author? Telling about things most people don’t know exist.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision? I self published. This is my first book so I made lots of mistakes, but as a first time writer you have to get your book out there and then promote it.

Where can we find you on the web? buzzardbaythriller.com


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Join Pamela Fagan Hutchins, author of the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace, as she tours the blogosphere January 2 – March 29 2013 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!  This tour is part of a huge Kindle Fire HD Giveaway. You can enter HERE.


ImagePamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back.  She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician.  Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.

Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.




About the Book:

If you’re at all inclined to be swept away to the islands to fall in love with a rainforest jumbie house and a Texas attorney who is as much a danger to herself as the island bad guys, then dive headfirst with Katie Connell into Saving Grace

Katie escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and her Bloody Mary-habit when she runs to the island of St. Marcos to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.



Welcome to The Dark Phantom Review, Pamela. It’s great to have you here. Tell us, would you call yourself a born writer?

Definitely. Writing is my go-to form of expression. When my husband and I were dating, he wooed me with his spoken words. I would stare back at him, big-eyed and speechless. He worried that I didn’t feel the same way he did. It wasn’t that I lacked his feelings. It was that I needed to write it down to “say” it to him. He received some lovely letters for me before I found my physical voice.

What was your inspiration for Saving Grace?

I lived in the Caribbean for nearly ten years, part of that time in a big jumbie (ghost) house in the rainforest. My experiences in that amazing house inspired me to write Saving Grace and the rest of the upcoming Katie & Annalise series.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I am intrigued by the struggle to master oneself, to achieve growth and self-control while remaining serene enough serenity to release the things that are outside of one’s control.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I started the Katie & Annalise series five years before I published Saving Grace, the first novel in the series. The actual book took me six months to write.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.  

I am driven more than I am disciplined. I may go weeks without working on a book, although I write every day for other, smaller projects. But when it is time to meet a book deadline, I write around the clock, stopping for nothing but food, ibuprofen, and ice.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Saving Grace was my debut novel, but, by the time it was published, I had finished writing the entire series. In writing the series, I found that I had to go back and completely (and I do mean completely) rewrite the story of Saving Grace. I salvaged 15,000 of the original 85,000 words and ended up with a fresh 85,000-word book. So, for me, the hardest part was letting go of the original version, pulling out that proverbial blank sheet of paper, and having the oomph left to do it one more time when I was really ready for a break. When I did the rewrite, though, it was magic and flowed like nothing I’d ever written before.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love feeling the rightness of words flowing one into another, of perfect images that bring a secret smile to a reader’s face, of crying and laughing out loud as I write a story. I love living it. I become my protagonist. My entire family prays for me to finish the book so we can all quit living out the drama of the scenes, one by one, over and over.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I am an author-preneur who indie published with SkipJack Publishing (http://SkipJackPublishing.com). Since I have been told I am a control freak (perish the thought), I know that indie publishing was the right path for me. I have been elated with the results, although the process was long and hard. I had to learn the business of publishing from soup to nuts, and I still have a lot to learn. But it went so well that we will be open for submissions at SkipJack later this year, for women’s fiction and mysteries for women.

Where can we find you on the web?


Thanks, Pamela, and best of luck with Saving Grace! 



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ImageToday my guest is horror author Vincent Hobbes, whose latest novel, KHOST, is a military horror set in the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. In 2004 he founded Hobbes End Publishing, but later sold the company and now writes full time. He’s the author of The Contrived Senator, Exiles, Plight of the Warrior, and, together with 17 other authors, of the anthology The Endlands. He recently finished producing the second volume of The Endlands. His latest novel, KHOST, released last year, is currently being considering for production in Hollywood. He resides in North Texas with his wife and German short-haired pointer. 

Find Vincent Hobbes on the Web: 

Website: www.VincentHobbes.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/VincentHobbes

Twitter: @HobbesEnd

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1054429.Vincent_Hobbes 

Watch the trailer!


Thank you for this interview, Vincent. Why don’t you begin by telling us what’s inside the mind of a horror author? 

Do you really want to know? 

I suppose like any other horror writer, I delve into the human mind. Our inner fears, what excites us. What scares us. I’m an observer. 

Your novel, KHOST, can be categorized as military horror. Can you tell us about this horror subcategory and what got you into it? 

Military horror is exactly what it sounds like—a horror story with military aspects. I was first introduced to the genre by author Stephen Knight who has some great novels in the genre. 

As writing for writing in the genre…I began working with some guys who served their country. Proud Americans with military background or experiences. It’s been refreshing, actually. 

ImageKhost is inspired by a variety of actual events, and I spoke with some men who were involved in this. Of course it’s fictionalized, but I’d say their enthusiasm got me into this. 

Tell us something compelling about your protagonist. 

There are several main characters in Khost. My personal favorite is Sgt. York. He’s a Delta Force member stationed in Afghanistan, served several tours, likes to fight. The man lives for war, and for his team. He experiences something beyond the imagination while out on patrol. The man has demons, but loves his Delta brothers and will do anything for the men he fights beside. He’s a warrior. 

KHOST is set partly in the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Did you have to do a lot of research about these places and the military? Do you have a military background? 

My best-friend is a Marine, and I’ve spoken with dozens of Special Forces Operators to cover the military side. Even still, I had to do tons of research. I found it quite liberating, actually. I learned much about a war I didn’t have a clue about, and even  more about our current conflict in Afghanistan. Luckily, I enjoy military-type things, so that helped. 

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this novel? 

Two things. First, I didn’t have much to work with. I knew certain facts that needed to be included, but past that, had to wing it. I suppose that’s natural with any idea turned into a book. The second was the time frame. I wrote like a madman, because I had a deadline of sorts. I’d usually take my time on such an endeavor, but I didn’t have that luxury. It was good, though. It forced me to write. 

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? 

I never write outlines. I think it hinders a writer’s creativity. Most people have no clue what it’s like to put together such a word count, and Khost was like any other—a battle. I do believe a writer must simply write. I had a character list, a few highlights, and that’s about it. The rest just came as it did, and I put it to paper. 

Who is the target audience for KHOST? 

For Khost, my target audience isn’t necessarily the literature buffs. Wasn’t intended to be. It’s for your average reader who enjoys a fun  read. Nothing more, nothing less. Anyone who enjoys a militaristic novel would enjoy Khost, as will horror fans as well. 

What is your writing schedule like? Are you disciplined? 

I’m a chaotic, unorganized disciplined. With Khost, I had to be. Catch was, I had weeks,  months worth of research. I needed to be as accurate as possible, and do so without boring the reader with details. I usually try to keep a minimum word count daily. A writer needs to practice, and with Khost, I kept an absurd word count. 

 I hear you have a new book coming up in March. Would you like to tell us about it? 

I do. Two, actually. The first is a short novella. It’s called Charms Indigo. It’s a fun read, geared again to a casual reader looking to pass the time with a fun story. It deals with plane crashes. I figured I’d touch on an innate fear most of us have. It’s due to be released in early March. 

Secondly, I’ve been working on a short novel titled Seal Team 2025. It’s another military book, though not horror. More action and adventure, and  it’s a fun one. I like to call it Militainment! 

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

Never venture into Khost.

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ImageCassie came to me, I didn’t go to her.  

I finished The Immortality Virus late in the fall of 2008, and though I took pride in my second novel, I felt worn out (creatively). When the new year came, bringing with it the opportunity for all kinds of writerly resolutions, I decided I needed to take the year off. I would read, blog, journal, but otherwise give my muse time to heal. 

I didn’t make it a year. It turns out, I really am a writer. Writers write. We can’t not write. Taking the pressure off my muse did turn out to have been a great idea, but putting a time frame on it was a bit naive.  

Cassie came to me in mid-February, as I played on the floor with me (then) 9-month-old daughter. I won’t go so far as to say she popped into my head fully formed, but it was close. I sat bolt upright, my eyes probably doing that cartoon bulge, as a light bulb appeared over my head.  

What if… What if the hero of a fantasy story was the only one in it without magic?  

I wrote the first line of the story as soon as my daughter went down for a nap. It read: “My parents think the longer the name, the more powerful the sorcerer, so they named me Nicolas Merlin Apollonius Roger Scot. You can call me Nick.” 

Okay, so it needed work. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted a female heroine. Nicolas (who does not go by Nick and might set you on fire if you tried) became the oldest of Cassie’s siblings. 

After that, Cassie told me new things about herself every day. I had a rough draft by the end of June.


Award-winning author Christine Amsden has written stories since she was eight, always with a touch of the strange or unusual. She became a “serious” writer in 2003, after attending a boot Imagecamp with Orson Scott Card. She finished Touch of Fate shortly afterward, then penned The Immortality Virus, which won two awards. Expect many more titles by this up-and-coming author.

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Find Christine Amsden on the web: 

Web Site: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/

Blog: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/?page_id=200

Facebook: Christine Amsden

Twitter: @ChristineAmsden

Goodreads: Christine Amsden

Goodreads Q&A Group: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/48134-q-a-with-christine-amsden


Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.


“When sorcerers call the shots, what’s a girl without powers to do? Get ready for a ripper of a murder mystery full of romance and intrigue, where magic potions bubble, passions spark and vampires are definitely not your friend. Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective grabs you by the heart and won’t let go until the very last page. Well written, immersive and unputdownable. This is urban fantasy at its best. More please!” 

–Kim Falconer, bestselling author of The Spell of Rosette, Quantum Enchantment Series


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Revelation:  Book One of the Revelation Trilogy

By:  M. J. Mancini

ISBN: 147920806X


Publisher:  Create Space Independent Publishing

368 Pages


Review by guest reviewer Irene S. Roth

Revelation is a story that resembles Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.  If you enjoyed that book you will certainly love this intriguing page turner too.  It is a book about murder, betrayal, intrigue, and the holy church.

Michael Gabriel Raphael is a devoted husband and father, enjoying a peaceful and fulfilling life. Then one day, one moment later, he is thrown into an abyss of frustration, torture, and suffering the likes of which is very hard to fathom. Accidents do happen, of course. But few accidents change the course of one’s whole life like this one did for Michael.

Michael’s estranged daughter is abducted by the Cavalieri di Satana (Knights of Satan), a society of devil worshipers. The Cavalieri plans to possibly kill his daughter in a ritual to prevent the second coming of Christ. Michael is told by Nicholas Nevsky, a religious theologian from Rila Monastery in Bulgaria that his daughter is the Holy Vessel Jesus Christ. There is no apparent coincidence between Michael’s last name and that of the Archangel Raphael.  Is Michael’s daughter who they think she is?

Revelation is a unique intellectual thriller.  It is violent, torturous, intriguing, and downright scary. The reader will be transported into this dark world of the Cavalieri. It is a nasty place indeed.  How could such a good man end up there?  How can he make it out?

This book is the first in a series of three novels in the Revelation Trilogy. M. J. Marcini was an only child. He was forced to use his imagination to entertain himself. Now, drawing from his wealth of creativity which permeates his writing, Mancini has become one of the most identifiable and intriguing authors.

This review was first published on Blogcritics.

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Join Gary Grossman, author of the political thriller, Executive Command, as he tours the blogosphere January 2 – February 28 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your BookExecutive Command Virtual Book Publicity Tour is part of huge $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway. See details HERE on how you can win one for your very own!

About the author:

Gary Grossman, author of EXECUTIVE COMMAND, EXECUTIVE ACTIONS and EXECUTIVE TREASON, is a print and television journalist, an Emmy Award-winning network television producer, and a film and TV historian.

His career has included stints producing for NBC News, ABC, CBS NBC, Fox, PBS, and more than 40 cable and broadcast networks.

ImageGrossman partnered with Robb Weller in Weller/Grossman Productions, a prolific documentary and service and information television production company.  Together, they produced more than 9,000 programs and earned numerous awards including the prestigious Governor’s Emmy Award for their 1996 USA Network special, “Healing the Hate,” and an Emmy for Best Informational series with the 2002 production of “Wolfgang Puck” for Food Network.

He began his career at 15 as a disc jockey at WHUC, his local radio station in Hudson, New York.  He went on to work at Boston television station, WBZ; joined the Boston Globe as a special contributor, and then became a full-time television critic and columnist at the Boston Herald American, before moving to Los Angeles.  His articles have also appeared in the New York Times and numerous magazines.  He has taught journalism and media classes at Emerson College, Boston University, and USC.  Grossman’s two previous acclaimed non-fiction books, Superman:  Serial to Cereal and Saturday Morning TV, cover television history. 

Grossman earned a Bachelors’ Degree in Communications from Emerson College in Boston and a Master’s Degree in Urban Affairs from Boston University.

Grossman lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Helene Seifer, and their children Sasha, Zachary, and Jacob. He serves on the Emerson College Board of Trustees and the Boston University Metropolitan Advisory Board.

About the book:

The Third Political Thriller in the ‘Executive’ Series by Gary Grossman.

The clock is ticking down to an attack on America’s most vulnerable natural resource: Water.  

Our nation’s water resources are high on terrorist target lists, but low on America’s consciousness.  Water sources are largely unprotected, providing open access to any enemy with chemicals and bio toxins.

So far we’ve been lucky. But that luck won’t last.

ImageThis is the all-too-real-and-present danger facing President Morgan Taylor and Secret Service Agent Scott Roarke as they desperately try to prevent hell-bent terrorists from destroying America and its infrastructure city by city, and state by state.

Fact-based in frightening detail, Executive Command is a political thriller that will leave you pondering its strong possibility the next time you pour a glass of water. 

Purchase links:   



Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qViHfjhv_Ys


Would you call yourself a born writer?

I love to write.  My day job is producing and writing television documentaries and service-and-information shows for a variety of networks.  At night, I hit the computer again, jumping into fiction – which in fact is like holding up a mirror to tomorrow’s news.  Crafting clever sentences, creating dynamic characters and driving an exciting plot forward remains a great thrill for me.  Was I born to do it?  I’ll put it this way, I was absolutely born into the right family in upstate New York.  My mother served a campaign manager for a local mayor and Congressman.  And my father was in law enforcement.  I suppose that gave me a huge jump start in how many of my opinions were shaped and how both worlds could come together through dramatic story telling.

What was your inspiration for EXECUTIVE COMMAND?

As a novelist in the political realm, I try to “think the unthinkable.”   That means I not only devour news on a daily basis, I dig deeper and consider “what if?”  The underlying plot in EXECUTIVE COMMAND is a very clear and present danger – the threat to our most valuable and vulnerable natural resource – WATER.  It’s timely, relevant and very scary.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I like to call my novels “political reality thrillers.”  That means they’re more than political thrillers.  I deal with a strong sense of real threats and how people would really interact as they deal with them.  The themes have included Russian sleeper cell spies still working in the U.S. (EXECUTIVE ACTIONS), the power of hate radio and a coup attempt drawn from actual history (EXECUTIVE TREASON) and attacks on our nation’s water supplies in the latest book in the series, EXECUTIVE COMMAND

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

EXECUTIVE COMMAND took a year from initial writing to eBook publication/distribution by Diversion Books.  

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

My typical drill is 3 pages per day.  That’s 90 pages a month, 180 pages after two months.  I can complete the first draft in five months if I keep up the pace.  Some days it’s more.  And then other days I just do research.  But the key is to keep going forward and think through the next day’s plot developments just as I go to sleep.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The greatest challenge was getting back into the principal characters’ heads and lives.  I had taken a few years off between EXECUTIVE TREASON and EXECUTIVE COMMAND.  I needed to re-read my own work in order to recapture the details of my characters.  Then, once I started writing, they did the hard work for me.  They basically told me what to write.  As odd as that sounds, it’s really what happens.  Characters take over.

What do you love most about being an author?

Truly the thing I enjoy the most is hearing from readers; especially readers-turned-fans.  My ongoing characters become familiar to them.  They want to see them grow and take on new adventures.  Just the other night a reader told me she thrilled to dive into EXECUTIVE COMMAND on her iPad and get back to Scott Roarke, Katie Kessler, Penny Walker, “Touch” Parsons and Morgan Taylor.  She knew them so well, they were like friends.  What a tribute. 

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

My publisher is Diversion Books in New York, a dynamic new publishing house founded by agent Scott Waxman.  I have a wonderful editorial director, Mary Cummings.  Together, Scott, Mary and their team they have fashioned a wonderful route for my books to get real attention domestically and around the globe.  We’re also working on opportunities to bring the stories to film and television.  Believe me, I constantly think about who would make a great Scott Roarke.  I’d certainly love to hear from readers as well.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website is www.garygrossman.com.  I invite everyone to check it out and write me.  I really try to answer every email that comes through my portal.


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A native of Chicago, former police detective Chris Karslen grew up with a love of history and books. An only child, she spent a lot of time reading, developing ‘fictional friends’, and getting lost in the world of stories.

Naturally, her love of reading and books led to writing of her own, and when she retired from her police work she finally decided to fulfil her lifelong secret desire. In 2003, she sat down and wrote her first line—and she hasn’t looked back since.

ImageNow a fulltime writer, her mission is to entertain readers with her stories. “I want to share my love of certain things, like places, history, and time travel. It’s my way of saying, this is why I love England or Turkey or history, etc. I like using the characters to present a ‘what if’ question and have the reader join me in asking it to,” states Karslen.  

Karslen enjoys writing romance and adventure and her stories are full of action, mystery and suspense. Her latest novel, Byzantine Gold, is a romantic thriller set in Cyprus and the sequel to her first book in the series, Golden Chariot. For this series, she interweaves history and archaeology into her fiction. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa, something that no doubt has had an influence on her work. However, besides her modern romantic thrillers set in exotic locations, she also writes time-travel historical romances.

“I am not a fast writer,” says Karslen about her writing habits. “I have so much research with all my books that I start with an outline. That helps me set the parameters of the story. It also helps me to know what research I’m going to need the most and I can narrow what I have down. Once I begin writing, then the story changes as I go along. I’ll see an event on the page and a question will arise and I’ll build in a scene or character or problem that didn’t occur when I worked on the outline.”

Karslen tries to write every day and makes an effort to run errands and do other personal or household business in the morning and then sit down to write by midday. She writes until 5:00 or so. “That doesn’t mean I write all I’d like to put on the page, but I try.”

ImageShe advises aspiring authors to join a critique group, take classes, and go to conferences and seminars to learn the craft. She recommends the following books: Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction by Don Maass, and Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Deb Dixon.

She also advises to develop a tough skin and accept the fact that your early drafts may not be ready to submit right away. “Every new writer believes what they’ve written is perfect. Perhaps there’s someone out there this is true for but I can’t think of any. Hemingway said, ‘There’s no such thing as writing, only rewriting.’”

Her favorite authors include Bernard Cornwell, John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Joe Wambaugh, Julia Quinn, Julie Anne Long, and Deanna Raybourn. Among her favorite books you’ll find The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay, Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice, The Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell, The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, the Pennyroyal Green series by Julie Anne Long, The Prey series and Virgil Flowers series by John Sandford, The Harry Bosch series by Mike Connelly and the Hollywood Station series by Joe Wambaugh. 

Karslen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse. Currently, she’s finishing the third book in her Knights in Time series, which she hopes to release this late spring.

Learn more about Chris Karslen and her work on her website and blog.

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The last time I’d cried because of a book was years ago and the culprit was Marley and MeCrazy Quilt is such a different book yet so alike in many ways. Both deal with death and loss, both are incredibly moving stories, and both remind us how short and precious life is. 

The story begins when our protagonist, Flora Adams, decides to visit her hometown of Lubbock, Texas, following her recent breast cancer treatment. In a way, she’s running away from a dull marriage and from her newly near encounter with death. However, unexpected events compel her to stay in Muleshoe, a little town in the New Mexican border. There, her life becomes entangled with a quirky, wise old man who’s dying of cancer and who’s being evicted from his home, as well as with his troubled teenaged granddaughter. By helping the old man through this difficult time and by becoming a mother figure to the girl, Flora is able, at least partly, to heal herself and deal with her own fears. Ultimately, she’s able to empower herself and find the courage to live her life to her full potential, based on what she really wants and needs and not on somebody else’s agenda. 

I absolutely loved Crazy Quilt. Not only is the prose beautiful and interlaced with vivid images and perceptive observations about life and death, but the characters are so incredibly real and compelling that I felt myself there with them, sharing their emotions and tribulations. There are also segments and lines of dialogue that are straight-out funny and made me laugh out loud–a nice relief from the usual heavyness of the subject. This is a novel that will make you ponder, will make you cry and will make you have those “A-ha” moments. Once in a while a novel comes along that has so much substance it makes you think about your own life. This is one of those novels, and one you won’t forget in a long time. Highly recommended. 

Visit the author’s website.

Purchase from Amazon or University of New Mexico Press

My review originally appeared in Blogcritics

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