Archive for February, 2016

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We’re happy to be hosting R. Lawson’s THE CIA INTERNATIONAL THRILLER SERIES Book Blast today! Existential Threats is Book 4 and The Carrington Prophecy is the latest and is Book 5. Pick up your copies of this fantastic thriller series!

Existential Threats

Title: Existential Threats (Book 4 of The CIA International Thriller Series)
Author: R. Lawson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 345
Genre: Thriller/Espionage

The CIA’s incoming Director of Counter Terrorism, Biff Roberts, is inheriting a multitude of challenges. For starters, there is the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. Added to that, the Middle East has become enmeshed in a surge of radical religious extremism ranging from fanatical Muslims of the Islamic State to the Taliban, groups who commit unspeakable atrocities using violence to pursue their atavistic goals. Syria’s civil war could result in Assad’s weapons of mass destruction getting into the hands of the splintered groups of Islamic Jihadists fighting there. This radical ideology has now spilled over into Africa with furious intensity.
And as if these international problems were not enough imminent threats to confront, Iranian mullahs have issued an Islamic death warrant fatwa on Biff, and those hoping to see it through are chasing him to the ends of the Earth.
Things move closer to home when CIA intelligence discovers that Iran has dispatched Mahmoud Abu Javari, the notorious IED bomb maker to the U.S. Biff now faces a Homeland threat of 9/11 proportions and has to thwart a bomb plot in San Francisco without knowing the target or timing for the planned act of terror.

For More Information

  • Existential Threats is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:


New Year’s Day

The assassins hid behind a huge boulder above the timberline, giving

them an excellent view of the ski slopes below.


“In the red parka at the top of the Tofana piste,” the handler, Rashid,

said, spotting the target first. He spoke in Arabic with a distinctive French

inflection, his calm voice belying his excitement. “Look to the right side of

the slope. He’s just inside the tree line, leaning on his ski poles and talking

with the woman and her children. See him?”


Beside Rashid, Mustapha frowned as he peered through the scope of his

rifle. “Your binoculars have a wider field of view,” he complained. His accent

was foreign to Rashid, an African version of Arabic that fell heavily on

Rashid’s ears. In addition to disliking his accent, Rashid found Mustapha’s

facial tattoos—tribal markings apparently—distasteful. But Mustapha had

a reputation as a skilled shooter and he seemed dedicated to their mission.


“Big guy, blond hair,” Rashid said as he laid his Bushnell binoculars

on the hood of their snowmobile and pointed. “About six hundred meters

down to the right. Use my binoculars if you can’t spot him.”


“Okay, now I have him,” Mustapha said, grinning. “He’s much bigger

than I imagined, good target. But there’s a tree branch in the way

now. I’ll wait until he skis out to the first mogul, then I’ll have him in my crosshairs.”


* * *

Biff Roberts stopped at the top of the Tofana run, enjoying the rest and

the magnificent early morning view of Cortina below. The gondola had

dropped them off at over ten thousand feet, and after traversing over

to the piste, they were even higher. It was easy to get winded at this


“Let the youngsters go first, Patricia,” Biff said. “I doubt we can match

their pace.”


“Okay, Biff,” Patricia said, smiling warmly. Patricia DeBartola was

in her fifties, but Biff thought she looked better than most women thirty

years younger. Like him, she kept herself in great shape, another reason

they were a great match.


Biff was enjoying a rare break from work before the next big step in his

career. After four decades in the CIA, he was about to take on his most challenging

role yet—as the head of Langley’s clandestine Counterterrorism

Division. He was looking forward to getting started, but first he wanted to

spend time with Patricia and get to know her kids better.


“Watch out for ice on the downside of moguls at this hour,” Patricia

told him. “It’s so easy to catch an edge when you check and turn downhill.

And although it’s a black diamond run, it’s really not too difficult if you

control your speed. That’s essential. Rest if you start to tire.”


Patricia could see from Biff’s smile that he didn’t mind her advice. But

she realized she might be overdoing it.


“Don’t do anything crazy trying to impress me, okay?” She smiled to

try and hide her concern. “I know how you are sometimes.”


Maybe I do worry too much, she thought. But she was an expert skier

and this was a challenging slope. Biff was strong and athletic, and he’d

told her he could ski, but could he handle this steep hill? She didn’t want

to jeopardize their holiday vacation with an injury. In retrospect, maybe

she shouldn’t have brought him up here, but the Tofana chute was her

children’s favorite run, and the view was absolutely spectacular. She would

just have to watch him closely.


“You got it, lady,” Biff said. “I promise to take it nice and easy.” Biff

didn’t want her worrying about him today. Biff’s work meant he was

often in danger, but this was time to relax and get to know her family


Patricia glanced at her daughter. “Alessandra, I suggest you go first, in

case you fall. Your brothers will follow to pick you up.”


Her daughter remained silent, not taking the bait.


“Right, Enzo and Donatello?” Patricia added. “You’ll look out for your

baby sister? She might be a bit rusty.” Alessandra had given birth last year

and missed the ski season. “Be sure to keep a close eye on her, okay?”


“No problem, Mom,” Enzo replied without hesitation, smiling widely.


Unlike his sister, Enzo appreciated his mother’s sense of humor, which

was often half in jest, half in earnest.


“Same old predictable Mom, looking out for her brood,” Donatello

said quietly beside Enzo. Donatello leaned on his ski poles, raring to go.

They had both heard that refrain for years, to look out for their baby


“Yeah, right, Mom,” Donatello said loudly. “No problem.” He replied

like a good son should, no matter his age. Their dad had disciplined

them well.


“Doubt we’ll keep up with her, though. She’s definitely the

best downhiller in the family, maybe the town,” Donatello reminded

her, as if she wasn’t cognizant of that well-established fact after all these


‘Baby sister’ had been a top notch ski instructor on this mountain

and the winner of many alpine competitions before she married ten years

ago and started her family. Now the mother of three, Alessandra still

had a cult-like following of aspirant young female skiers in Cortina who

stopped her on the streets for her advice on training exercises and hints

on succeeding in timed trials.


At Donatello’s remark, Alessandra just politely smiled, shunning the

time-honored family banter, and pushed off. She checked adroitly on the

first mogul and swiftly weaved her way gracefully down the fall line, starting

the five-thousand-foot vertical descent to the Dolomite village in the

valley below.


Biff watched her glide effortlessly down the steep slope, darting

through the moguls like a rabbit, changing direction unpredictably but


“The whole scene is definitely like an edited Warren Miller ski clip,”

Biff observed. “Good show.”


“She’s a talented skier,” Patricia replied. She was clearly proud of her

family, especially her daughter, and rightfully so.


“She doesn’t look a bit rusty to me,” Biff complimented.


“She’s still got it at thirty, hasn’t lost a move.” She nodded to her sons.

“OK, boys. Go catch her, if you can.” Patricia laughed delightedly, realizing

she hadn’t been this happy in years. She had been nervous about

having the kids meet Biff, but everything was going wonderfully.


The brothers immediately set off after their sister, laughing. They were

strong, athletic skiers but lacked their sister’s grace as she short turned in

the fall line, taunting them to catch her.


“A classic display of sibling rivalry?” Biff suggested. “You raised some

great kids, Patricia. Look at them go, having a ball.”


“Thank you. This is always a big part of our family New Year’s tradition.

They’re trying to make an impression. They intend to test you out as

a prospective stepfather, so heads up.”


“Natural thing to do, I suppose.” Biff smiled down at Patricia. “You

sure scored impressively with my family last week.” Patricia had gone to

Arizona with him for Christmas festivities. “You turned Caroline’s life

around, thank God.”


Patricia smiled, pleased. “She just needed some motherly TLC. I

understand what she’s going through.”


“You gave her helpful insight, dear,” Biff said. “It’s been a whirlwind

experience introducing our kids, judging if they’ll accept our relationship.

Like you said, so far, so good.”


Less than a year ago, Biff’s wife and childhood sweetheart, Mary Beth,

had been gunned down by an assassin, in place of Biff. Many years ago,

Patricia’s husband, the Italian ambassador to Israel, had been assassinated

by Hamas while visiting Gaza on a peacekeeping mission. It was that

shared experience of traumatic grief that had brought Biff and Patricia

together so quickly and so intensely. His children, rather than angered at

his finding love again so soon, seemed to understand all the more that life

was short and precious, and should be lived to the fullest. Patricia’s kids

seemed to want the same happiness for their mother.


“We better catch up with them,” Patricia said. “I see them waiting

downhill for us, joking around. Look, they’re waving to us to come on.

Let’s go. Try and keep up.”


“Keep up with them?” He grinned. “You’ve got to be kidding.”


“Well, let’s try and not let them out of sight. You’re next, I’ll follow.”

She smiled, thrilled at the positive start to their vacation and family

introductions. After her family tragedy, she’d doubted if she’d ever be

deeply happy again. Yet in Biff, she’d found someone to spend the rest

of her life with, someone who had experienced a similar misfortune.

Empathy drew them together, and the whole was greater than the parts

that bonded them.


“Be patient,” Biff said. “It’s been a while since I last skied at Tahoe.

And I’m not in your kids’ class, believe me. But it’s just like riding a bike,”

he added, smiling. He took off, bouncing off the first mogul, trying to

imitate her kids’ skillful execution of a check turn and hot-dogging it.


Despite Patricia’s warning, he immediately caught an edge on the

mogul’s icy downhill side. Biff lost his balance and began to fall.


His fall was a fortunate event as it turned out. Just as he began to slip, a

.223 caliber bullet ripped through his left shoulder, sending red fragments

of his insulated parka flying. Groaning in pain, he crashed head over heels

downhill between the steep moguls.


Patricia noted the muffled sound of a gunshot fired through a suppressor

from uphill an instant before Biff fell. Despite the silencer, the rifle’s

resonance followed instantly through the clear mountain atmosphere. She

had heard that unforgettable “bap” sound before, and her years of association

with Mossad conditioned her response. She glanced furtively uphill

at the ridge. She saw no one, but suspected more incoming fire.

Had the shot caused Biff’s awkward spill? It all happened too quickly

for her to tell.


“Biff!” she called as she immediately skied to his assistance, not fearing

exposing herself to danger. He could be shot, and she had to help him.


The Carrington Prophecy

Title: The Carrington Prophecy (Book 5 of The CIA International Thriller Series)
Author: R. Lawson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 298
Genre: Thriller/Espionage

Biff Roberts, the CIA’s counterterrorism director, receives actionable intelligence that a rogue regime is planning a sneak attack with the goal of exploding a nuclear device above the United States, triggering an unnatural Carrington Event.

The cosmic storm of the Carrington Event’s electromagnetic pulse waves released by the explosion would cripple all electronic systems and power grids in the U.S., leaving the homeland defenseless and vulnerable to conventional warfare.

With North Korea looking to be the most likely suspect, Biff is tasked to intervene and prevent this attack without triggering a global world war. Collaborating with NIS, the South Korean Intelligence Service, Biff and his team work to thwart the impending disaster, while also leaving the CIA with plausible deniability.

For More Information

  • The Carrington Prophecy is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

Andrews AFB

After brief conversation, considerable reflection, and two bottles of vintage champagne, Biff Roberts and the other members of the CIA’s counterterrorism team finally slept for the remainder of the flight from San Francisco back to Andrews Air Force Base. It had been a long, harrowing week that thankfully had ended in averting a national disaster. They had successfully aborted an Iranian terror plot, one potentially of 9/11 dimensions that could have killed thousands.

Upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Biff noticed the CIA’s DCI Admiral Delaney, his attaché, and an entourage of Langley officials and security guards were waiting to greet them on the tarmac. As the CIA G-4 taxied to its designated parking spot, many in the crowd waved excitedly. Biff also noticed the DCI had a large dossier under his arm.

That’s usually not a good sign, Biff thought. Something’s brewing — something big.

Biff and his team descended from the plane into the smiling crowd. They received a combination of applause, thumbs up, and salutes as acknowledgement of their lead role in thwarting the terrorist plot in San Francisco.

“Fine job, Biff,” the admiral said. “Welcome back.” They shook hands and exchanged pats on the back.

Admiral Delaney was sincere in his admiration of his top field operative, recently promoted to Director of the Counterterrorism division. Even after all the long hours and stress of his work in San Francisco, Biff seemed as sharp as ever. His energy and appearance were the envy of many younger men. His six-foot-four athletic frame was still packed with muscle well into middle age, and his thick, wavy blond hair belied his age.

“Extraordinary how you pulled it off, Biff. Impressive tactics,” Delaney said as they walked toward a line of waiting cars. “You never cease to amaze me. That Switchblade drone/flash bang caper will become a classic in our CIA annals.”

“Thank you, sir. I had some good help.”

“Word is Javari will talk at GITMO,” Delaney said. “They’re confident they’ll break him. Another good move, whisking him offshore as an enemy combatant. We’re sure to get some blowback, but what the hell. I’m certain we’ll get valuable intelligence from him that will outweigh any misguided liberal bellyaching about enhanced interrogation.” The admiral shook his head. “They can’t fathom the distinction between harsh interrogation and torture. They should take a sabbatical in the Middle East and observe the prisons there. Their methods are torture. And when they’re finished with you, they cut your head off.”

“Jihadists and terrorists don’t fall under Geneva conventions,” Biff said. “The treatment at GITMO is harsh, but humane. I’ve personally observed the methodology.”

“Enough of this interrogation method talk,” Delaney said. “I’ll manage the blowback… Back to your San Francisco exploit. Job well done, my good man, glad I made you a director. You’re making me look good. After that Snowden NSA fiasco, we needed to score some points. Our NSA colleagues over in Fort Meade caught a lot of flak over that security lapse.”

“They sure did,” Biff said. “I appreciate your comments, sir.”

Biff and the admiral reached the line of cars, pausing in front of a limo.

“I want you to spend a week at Rose Hill with Patricia. You deserve a good rest.” The admiral gestured toward the vehicle beside them. “Our limo will drop you off.”

“Thank you again, sir. Glad to be home.”

“I bet. Listen, when you get a chance, please review this information carefully and let me know your thoughts. It’s very important to get your input before I advise the Chiefs of Staff next month with our intelligence estimate about how we should manage this grave situation.”

The DCI handed the dossier to Biff like a hot potato, as if he couldn’t wait to get it out of his hands. This was more than a homecoming reception. As Biff had anticipated, something big was brewing, and Biff sensed he’d soon be in the middle of it.

Biff noted the thick folder was marked CARRINGTON EVENT – Classified: Top Secret – B.C. ROBERTS V’s copy (# 2 of 5)

“Know anything about this subject?” The DCI asked as Biff looked at the cover title.

“The Carrington Event?” Biff said. He paused, probing his memory. The subject did ring a bell, setting off his remarkable recall, a trait that had distinguished him at Yale and contributed to his successful CIA career.

Biff nodded. “A cosmic event involving the sun’s electromagnetic pulses, a flare or burst of gamma rays. A major solar storm occurred in the mid-1800s. The Carrington Prophecy says that the event may recur every 150 to 180 years or so, as a natural catastrophic event.”

“Your recall is incredible, Biff. Actually it was September 1, 1859. A solar super storm hit the earth with the flare power of a billion atomic bombs exploding. Night became day. Telegraph systems went down worldwide and electrical outages occurred nearly everywhere, resulting in general chaos. That geomagnetic interruption was like a dirt road compared to today’s information superhighway. Our almost total dependency on electronics in modern life makes us frighteningly vulnerable to another solar storm of that magnitude.

“Think about the ramifications of a foreign attack generating a massive electromagnetic pulse,” the admiral added, “a form of sabotage that would elicit a similar catastrophe.

“It’s a scary scenario, Admiral, very threatening. Not sure I want to go there.”

“I like your choice of words, Biff. But I’m concerned we will have to go there. Consider a nuclear device detonated in the stratosphere over the U.S. That scenario would make the Carrington Prophesy come true, maybe much sooner than a natural occurrence. It would paralyze all of our power grids, bringing all electronic communication and basic functions to a halt. It would pitch our IT-based society into perpetual night, vulnerable to attack.”

The admiral’s expression was grim. “That’s our next existential threat, Biff. It’s essential for us to avert such a doomsday scenario.”

“You’re thinking of an ICBM attack?” Biff asked. “Iran? China? North Korea?”

“Who’s got the craziest leader, the loose cannon?”

Biff didn’t have to think long about that one. “Kim Jong-un.’’

“Precisely. Come up with a plan. You’re our Counterterrorism Director.”


About the Author

R. Lawson

R. Lawson is a retired vascular surgeon and served as a captain in the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon. With over 120 academic works under his belt, he moved into the fiction genre and began writing thrillers with a focus on terrorism, cyber spying, national security and more.

He hopes that you enjoy his CIA International Intrigue series featuring Biff Roberts, veteran CIA agent, as he travels the globe thwarting threats to the United States and its allies.

His latest books are Existential Threats and The Carrington Prophecy, Book 4 & 5 in The CIA International Thriller series.

For More Information









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Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass, military heroes who defy the limits of their broken bodies to protect the women they love. She is the author of The Asset (Carina Press), the first novel of her Wounded Warrior series and three other novels scheduled for release during 2016.

A Georgetown University graduate, Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

The_Asset_High Res.jpgQ: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Asset. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: Sure! The Asset is a contemporary romance about a woman, fleeing from her sinister past, who must defy her fears and risk her life to care for a wounded warrior, a SEAL, running away from his uncertain future. Together they learn that fear can give way to courage and love is a healing journey. The Asset is the first novel of my Wounded Warrior series, a collection of novels that feature strong, self-reliant heroines trying to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy military heroes who will lay down their lives to protect the women they love.

I was inspired to write both the novel and the series by the amazing people I met while my husband was in the Navy and we lived as part of the military community. I wish that everybody in the world got to meet these brave souls. More specifically, my heroes and heroines are inspired by the wounded warriors coming back from the wars abroad and the incredible resilience they show every day.

Q: What do you think makes a good romance? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: A romance is a novel that aims to discover the mysteries of the human heart, the forces that bring us together, the prejudices that pull us apart. I don’t know that you can ever narrow down the elements that define a good romance, but I think most romance writers would agree that strong, vivid, authentic and evolving characters make a difference, as does a well-constructed plot and a rich, interesting setting. The relationship is always at the center of the story and our ability to connect to those characters is key. But the ultimate measure of a good romance has always been and will continue to be the story’s ability to touch the reader’s heart.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I usually have a broad idea of what the plot will entail and how it will flow. I might even have a loose outline that I use as an overall guide to check my progress. But the best plot twists are those that surprise not only the reader, but the writer as well. I love it when that happens! So I’m always open to see where the story and the characters will lead me. I’m always thrilled to be surprised.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Some of these characters have been living in my mind for quite some time. Take Lia, for example, The Asset’s heroine. She’s fleeing from a drug lord who has terrorized her existence. Her early life mirrors some of my experiences growing up in Latin America and the perils of a world riddled with conflict and violence.

Likewise, Ash, The Asset’s hero, is a Colorado native, born and bred. I’ve spend a lot of time in the Rocky Mountains and I think that my vision of that part of the country shapes Ash as a person and as a hero. I don’t usually do character interviews of sketches prior to writing, but sometimes I keep a list to clarify the traits that feel strong to my writer’s heart.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: As I mentioned above, I grew up in Latin America. The villain in this story is someone who by definition is familiar to the reader, someone who by virtue of his power and money is a ranking member of the global society, despite being ruthless, violent and cruel.

In The Asset, Ramon Ruiz Rojas—Red—is the ambitious, brutal head of the Rojas cartel, the most powerful drug lord in the States. I won’t give up any spoilers, but suffice it to say that he’s after Lia with a vengeance. After stalking her for years, he’s now on her heels and, this time around, he intends to snare her for good.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Pace is very important to keep the story rolling, focusing on the key aspects of the mysteries at the heart of the novel. The flow of information is another vital element that helps keep up the suspense, when a character knows what and why. It’s also important to eliminate any aspects of the narrative that don’t contribute to advancing the story. If it’s not necessary, chop it off and move on to keep the narrative exciting.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: I’m huge on experiential research and observation. As a writer, I like to put myself in situations that are similar to those that my characters are experiencing. Research goes a long way to add resources to the writer’s toolkit and helps build authentic stories with realistic details. But there’s nothing like being there to create rich settings.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I knew the theme and yes, the theme is recurrent in the Wounded Warrior Series. The series is not really about physical injuries. It’s about the wounds we all carry deep inside, the pain we all experience as human beings, the courage that it takes to face and overcome the challenges life throws at us. Above all, the series is about hope, love’s extraordinary healing power and the joy that comes from the journey.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: In my view, writing is an art, but technical proficiency helps the artist convey her gifts. Editing is an art too. Sure, an editor has to be technically proficient to do her job, but without a feel for the story, the editing process can become a misadventure. Romance requires an editor able to connect with the story at a gut level, who can feel through the narrative, understand the characters and evaluate their authenticity. Moreover, you want someone who brings practical applications to the editing process. If you’re writing romance and you’re interested in publishing your work, you need to have an editor who knows the genre, the romance community, and the romance publishing industry.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: A passion for writing, a personal and professional commitment to storytelling, and perseverance to see the journey through.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: I guess it would depend if you like doing homework or not!  I wouldn’t want to devote my life to doing something I hate. On the contrary. Life is too short to for that. To me writing feels as if I’d won the lottery. I get to sit down every day of my life and write my stories? And I get paid for that? I’m the luckiest girl on earth.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: The best investment I’ve ever made in my career was working with my private editor. A good editor teaches, encourages and guides in addition to everything else. She or he provides personalized learning opportunities that save you time and effort as an author. A good editor can be the difference between publishing or not.

One other resource that I think it’s important, and it’s free for the most part. Your writer friends are a great source of support, knowledge, information and perspective. Find them and stick with them. You’ll be happy for the company along the way.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: I’ve been saying this a lot lately: Writing is an act of love.

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Inside the Book:

Title: The Berkshire Jack Russells
Author: Eileen Chatwin
Publisher: Authorhouse
Pages: 108
Genre: Memoir
Format: Ebook

This is a true story about two Jack Russell’s who lived in Berskhire with my me and my children. They truly had a wonderful life and I think you should read about them, what they got up to and they places they visited.

When you hear other people saying it’s a dogs life, they mean that they think that dogs have an easy life. Well that is not true as they are always guarding their owners as well as trying to enjoy themselves. They also met some interesting animals during their travels so why not read about them.

The Berkshire Jack Russells is available for order at

Meet the Author:

Having been the owner and lived with these two Jack Russells, Gabby and Boni, all their lives, l thought there was a story to be told about them as they were the most loyal and fun loving dogs you could wish to have owned. They were mother and daughter, as we had two litters of puppies, but we did not keep any from the second litter as we thought two dogs were enough in a house. We took them everywhere we travelled both in England and abroad, and wherever we lived they were constantly on guard for our personal safety whether that be out walking on a lead or in bed when they were guarding the house.

When they died, almost within a year of each other, we realized what a difference they had made in our lives as a family. They were missed almost every day, you had got so used to them bouding around the house. My grown up daughter’s have families of their own now and are going to have some Jack Russells very soon of their own for their children. My late husband would love to have known that a book had been written about our two dogs as he thought they were great. Gabby was born in June 1976 and died in September 1992 and Boni was born in May 1978 and died in October 1993.

I live in the County of Berkshire in England where there are a lot of Stud Farms that breed Jack Russells so you see a lot of them around. I do creative writing as a hobby now that I am retired and thought how delighted my late husband and of course my own children would be if I wrote about the dogs we had. I am a widow and live on my own but have plenty of good memories to keep me going. My grandchiildren are always asking for stories about the dogs that their mum’s had and of course I always oblige. Happy Days.


Eileen is giving away a $25 Gift Card!


Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 15 and ends on February 26.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on February 27.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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roccoA writer for over three decades, Rocco Lo Bosco has published poetry, short stories and two novels. His first novel, Buddha Wept (Greycore Press, 2003), about a spiritually gifted matriarch’s experience of the Cambodian genocide, received good reviews (e.g., Publishers Weekly) and much praise from readers, many of whom called it “life changing.”  His current novel, Ninety Nine, is published by LettersAt3amPress. Lo Bosco also has a nonfiction book in press with Routledge (2016), co-authored with Dr. Danielle Knafo, a practicing psychoanalyst, entitled Love Machines: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Age of Techno-perversion. He is currently working on his third novel, Midnight at the Red Flamingo. Additionally, he has edited papers in the fields of psychoanalysis and the philosophy of science and has also worked as a ghost writer.

Connect with Rocco on the Web:

www.roclobsoco.com / www.twitter.com/roclobosco / www.facebook.com/roclobosco

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Ninety Nine. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?  

A: Thank you. My book is about a poor and mixed––mine, yours and ours–– Italian-American family fighting desperately to survive in Brooklyn in the early 1960s. The story centers on the two (step) brothers living in a family threatened by psychological fragmentation from within, dangerous levels of poverty and two vicious loan sharks who will have no trouble killing the father if he doesn’t find a way to pay their boss. Meanwhile the two boys run with a small gang, The Decatur Street Angels, led by one of the brother’s cousins, a dark-minded genius who invents wild and daring exploits for the group that become progressively more dangerous during the summer of 1963. One of the brothers is involved in his first (and secret) love affair with an older woman while the other is losing his mind over the abandonment of his mother. The event streams of the book culminate at the novel’s end in a stunning and unexpected climax.

Michael Ventura, novelist, essayist and cultural critic said, “In Lo Bosco’s Ninety Nine you experience the vitality, brutality, faith, doom and grace of people whose only choice is to figure out how to take it. They endure situations from which there is no escape, surrounded by beliefs and attitudes from which there is no escape, and their nobility is that, in the midst of such a Brooklyn, they nevertheless know and value beauty and are exalted by wonder.” I think this properly captures the spirit of my book, and what I secretly intended in writing it.

ninety-nine (1)The novel creatively draws on my early years growing up in Brooklyn, but its inspiration emerged from two very specific things: a dream and a book.  When I was five years old I had a dream that has stayed with me my entire life, a dream that in essence predicted the character and quest of my life.  The dream appears in the book, and it will become clear to the reader why that very dream inspired the novel.  The second inspirational element came from finding a book I was never supposed to see. When I was fourteen I found it in the bottom of a box that held my father’s war memorabilia—a large, government-issued volume about the Second World War. It contained far more pictures than text. I returned to this forbidden book repeatedly and viewed images that literally altered the trajectory of my life and shaped my particular interests in human endeavor. I knew I could not remain silent. Though I did not yet know that I would write, I knew that I would not want to pass through this life quietly, hunkered down in some existential bunker until the danger passed.  At fourteen I already knew the danger never passes. That forbidden book appears in Ninety Nine, but it was also part of the inspiration for Buddha Wept.

Q: What do you think makes a good novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

  1. Well, it is not truly possible to narrow a good novel down to a formula of some kind. If it was possible to do so, a novel would not be . . . well, novel. In that there are certain areas of overlap that good novels share, I can say with some certainty that a good novel has interesting and complex characters facing interesting and difficult situations, and the whole of what they do and what happens makes for a damned good story. Additionally, the characters and their story may imbue the reader’s experiential perspective with renewed radiance and a degree of insight. It does no matter how bright or dark the novel is; a good novel deeply affects the reader in some way.

Now on the other side of the question, because language and human imagination suggest infinite capacity, any attempt to reduce the novel to some theory will ultimately fail. Literary theory is necessarily incomplete because human experience is infinite, as is the human imagination and the capacity of language. There can be great novels that do not meet conventional criteria. Finnegan’s Wake, for example, is considered by many to be a literary masterpiece. Also future technological developments will create new possibilities for stories. I’m thinking here of Charlie Booker’s television series, Black Mirror. I believe that the stories/scripts of these shows, which freely mix science and science fiction, have great literary merit. They’re like a 21st century version of the Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover the plot as you worked on the book?

I first saw and wrote scenes. Characters and situations based on memory and imagination began popping into my head.  A scene would begin as a kind “of picture poem” –– a snapshot of characters and situations that conveyed an intense emotion or insight. These “picture poems” seemed to constellate around the recollected dream (mentioned above), which provided the gravitas that drew them together.  As I collected more scenes, they began to suggest a linkage and a trajectory. As I sequenced and connected the individual scenes, the story began to form. At this point characters were bouncing around in my mind, telling me what they wanted to do within the story that was forming. I felt I was always a little behind while writing the book, kind of catching up to the story (and its characters) that was telling itself through me.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

Dante is a complicated character. He attempts to manage the chaos and violence of his life by using his intellect. He takes refuge in the laws of nature, trying somehow to reconcile them with his wild family life and his crazy life in the streets of Brooklyn. He wishes he could be brave and fearless like his stepbrother, but he thinks too much. What he doesn’t realize is how much he feels and how what he feels gives him a power of which he is not yet aware.

Dante emerged from the dance between my memory and imagination. It’s not like I developed him. It’s more like he was hidden within me, and I had to find him–– as were the other characters as well. Once I found them, they had a lot to say.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

There’s no one villain in my story. Everyone is a villain in some way, and some may be heroes as well. Memory provided the realism, imagination the radiance, and intellect the insight.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

Okay, keeping in mind that the experience of writing for me is more like a possession than something I plan out carefully from the beginning:

I kept foremost in my mind the art of showing as opposed to the craft of telling. I wanted to create a portal into another world—in this case the world of a family fighting to survive in Brooklyn during the early 1960s. I wanted the reader to experience this world through every sense. I kept my verbs sharp and my descriptions brief but packed with appeal to the five senses.  I read everything I wrote aloud to hear it and see if it transported me, if it felt real and strong, if it made music. I paid close attention to how I paced the story, making sure I always had the reader wondering what would happen next, utilizing scene cuts to gas the story and imbuing scenes with plenty of action and cliffhangers. I wrote the story so the suspense and tension keep building throughout until it all culminated in a denouement with multiple outcomes.

I paid attention to how I stacked long and short sentences. I kept my chapters short. I peppered the narrative with insights and unexpected brief assertions that quickened the pulse. I worked with great care around the dialogue. The dialogue is what brings the characters to life. They have to speak somewhere in between the way people really talk and how they would talk if they always said the brightest, sharpest, wittiest, or most interesting things. They have to speak so that the reader wants them to say even more than they do. They have to say unexpected things at times. Not because it’s cool for them to do that, but because they themselves carry a depth they are not consciously aware of. That depth in which so much is hidden is where they come from and where their story comes from as well.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

I went back to Brooklyn. I took lots of pictures. I walked the streets that I’d known so many years ago. I stopped in a bakery and got a lemon ice. I went home, got drunk and climbed into a hot bath and looked at the pictures until the water got cold. By then, I knew I had the setting.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start, or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

I think certain themes occur throughout my work, my thought and my life: the tragic nature of human existence, the unending desire to be loved and to love, love’s relationship to death, the limits of human knowledge and the search for certainty, the irrepressible urge for transcendence that wars with human limitation, and the incredible beauty to be found in all of this. I never concern myself with a theme when writing fiction. The “theme” will emerge from the story. I am foremost and obsessively concerned with writing a damned good story.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

I don’t think there is a clear divide between the two or even a truly satisfying definition for either. Both make their presence known in different ways. With the important caveat that they cannot be separated or even cleanly defined, I think we admire craft but are amazed by art. Craft is the technique, art the vision, though one cannot exist without the other. Craft is learned through study, discipline and endless repetition. Art comes onto the scene with defiant wings mounted on the body of craft. Art is the result an upsurge of one’s being that must manifest as a concrete demonstration. Its form is always tied to its culture, but its motive transcends culture.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

The three things that come to mind are: (1) the ability to write a distinctively good story with interesting characters that affects the reader in a meaningful way; (2) the ability to rework the story until it sings; (3) a relentless devotion to both.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

Who am I to argue with Lawrence Kasdan, whom I have followed since his debut as the writer and director of Body Heat, a neo-noir which I found perfectly diabolical. What a plot and what characters, especially Matty! (“You aren’t too bright. I like that in a man.”) Yet, I would concede to his statement only with the caveat that homework is also defined as something given to oneself rather than only by a teacher. And what is that homework? Read, read, read and write, write, write.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

I’ve relied almost wholly on books because I’m a cranky and stubborn loner. I shall name only a few that proved critical in my development as a writer and novelist.

  1. Early inspiration was Beat Poetry along with other beat writing (e.g., Kerouac’s On The Road).
  2. Writing The Natural Way, by Gabriele Lusser Rico.
  3. Using Both Sides of Your Brain, by Tony Buzan. Get the latest edition.
  4. 1984, by George Orwell.
  5. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov.
  6. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess.
  7. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, by Oscar Hijuelos.
  8. Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges.

A recent set of novels, among the best I’ve read, and that I strongly feel every aspiring writer should not only read—but deeply and repeatedly study—are the four Neapolitan Novels written by the brilliant Elena Ferrante and translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. These books are treasures of story, insight and writing genius.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

Learn to tolerate the terror evoked by the blank page, and learn to love enduring bouts of solitude.





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Inside the Book:

Title: Candlelight in a Storm
Author: Naveen Sridhar
Publisher: Authorhouse
Pages: 280
Genre: Biography
Format: Ebook

“Candlelight in a Storm by Naveen Sridhar is the historical biography of his wife. Born during World War II and fleeing the violence there, later fleeing communist regimes as a teenager, and traveling the world, her story is at once colorful and harrowing. John F. Kennedy came to Germany and said ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,’ signifying that Germany did not need to be forever tarnished with the legacy of the Nazi party, and there was a generation of Germans looking to establish peace and freedom in the country. Candlelight in a Storm is the ode to this generation. Self-published historical memoirs can, at times, seem like a vanity project, i.e. something for the family to read, but less interesting for the casual, unaffiliated reader. Sridhar doesn’t fall into this trap due to the strength of his writing and the thoroughness of his research. As he makes clear in his introduction, he interviewed many people to prepare this book, so this is far more than a family history, it’s a history of an entire generation. For anyone thinking of writing this sort of family biography, this is a textbook in how to do it: combine objective overview with subjective experience. It helps that Sridhar’s writing is so stylistically rich. The narrative manages to be both detailed and breezy, with enough dialogue to make it really come to life, rather than being a turgid, fact-driven history.

If you are interested in World War II and haven’t gotten the “other side of the story,” Candlelight in a Storm is a good place to begin, and succeeds in telling an oft-neglected side of the history of these events.”—4.5 stars SPR Book Review. http://www.selfpublishingreview.com

“A must-read for those interested in Germany, the UK, and India post-World War Two. A fascinating, well-written book by an author who was there.”—Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual.


Candlelight in a Storm is available for order at

Meet the Author:

Naveen Sridhar is a scientist and an author living in Germany. He has a Ph.D. in chemistry and chemical engineering. In his career as a research scientist in the German industry he has published a vast number of scientific articles. Beside his profession he was also active in the field of entertainment and authored in 2011 the book A Complete Guide to Ventriloquism: Principles, Practice and Performance. Born in India, he migrated to Germany at an early age for studies at the Technical University of Berlin. Widely travelled, he is fluent in eight languages. He lives with his wife in Germany. They have two grown sons.


Naveen is giving away a $25 Gift Card!


Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 22 and ends on March 4.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 5.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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Swept Away Banner

Inside the Book:


Title: Swept Away

Author: Kristina Mathews

Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Ecopy

Carson Swift may look exactly like his twin brother Cody, but they’re as different as tie dye and camouflage. Reliable, responsible, and usually the designated driver, Carson is also over being his brother’s keeper, but suddenly his plans to break free are complicated by the woman they fish out of Hidden Creek . . .

Lily Price is not your typical damsel in distress. Infidelity, infertility, and downsizing provide a triple threat to her ego, but falling into the swollen river nearly ends her life. If not for the handsome stranger—make that two handsome strangers—she might not have had a chance at having a baby by any means necessary . . .

As Carson helps Lily overcome her fear of the river, she helps him save his rafting business from going under. She also saves him from abandoning all that is important to him in order to get a taste of freedom. Together they find that love is the ultimate adventure.

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Meet the Author


Kristina Mathews doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn’t until she turned forty that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing.

While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she’s remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, parent club member, or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books. She proudly tells her students she writes romance novels that they can read when they’re older.

Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of more than twenty years, two sons and a black lab. As a veteran road tripper, amateur renovator, and sports fanatic, she hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors, and someday throw out the first pitch for the San Francisco Giants.

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JP RattoJP Ratto is a husband and wife collaborative writing team. EVERYTHING TO LOSE is the first of a three-book series featuring private investigator Lucas Holt.

Judy began writing full time six years ago. She attended Hofstra University’s Writing Intensive in the summer of 2010, and participated in a Hofstra-sponsored writing and critique group from 2009 to 2012. She has written an upper middle-grade fantasy adventure and a children’s mystery chapter book. Judy also does free-lance editing.

Pete Ratto, a former member of the U.S. Navy serving half his enlistment with the U.S. Marine Corp, is a retired corporate accountant and is now writing full time.
Both are avid readers of mysteries, thrillers and suspense. Active in a critique group made up of local authors, they enjoy discussions on all aspects of the craft of writing. Pete enjoys photography, writing and going to the beach. In her spare time, Judy paints watercolors and to her husband’s delight, cooks an occasional dinner. They have a son and a daughter, both grown and living in New York. Pete and Judy live in southern Florida with their cat, Gillian.

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About the Book:

Private investigator Lucas Holt is on a mission…

Lucas Holt specializes in kidnap recovery. Ex-Delta Force and a former NYPD detective, he has spent the last fifteen Everything to Loseyears burying himself in case files to cope with the unsolved abduction of his daughter, Marnie.

Janet Maxwell just can’t let go…

After the death of Janet’s husband and son in a tragic car accident, she hopes Holt’s expertise can locate the daughter she gave up for adoption seventeen years ago. Janet knows her actions will have explosive repercussions for the girl’s father—presidential candidate, Todd Grayson. With no family, hope of finding her only daughter is all she has left. Or is there a more sinister motive?

There’s no greater incentive for a father than protecting his daughter…

On a mission to bury the constant reminder of his failure to recover Marnie, Holt agrees to Janet’s proposal. But at what cost? When his inquiries lead to news of the death of another woman, Holt can’t shake the feeling something is off about the whole case. And when new evidence surfaces about Marnie’s disappearance, his drive to recover Janet’s daughter and his own become one and the same.

Crooked candidates, hired mercenaries, bitter lovers, and his own life on the line—will Holt find it inside him to risk it all in the line of duty? There’s no telling how far you’re willing to go when you have everything to lose.

  • Everything To Lose is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Judy: I’m a born daydreamer. I’ve always loved to imagine my life in different scenarios and places. I could be anything and go anywhere and it’s very cost effective! I began writing middle grade, fantasy adventures when my children went to college, and I had time to devote to it.

Pete: For me, I would say it is about 40% innate ability and 60% learning to craft a story and practice. The innate portion comes from reading hundreds of stories in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense category. Once I decided to try my hand at writing, I began to pay more attention to story structure, pace and building characters.

What was your inspiration for EVERYTHING TO LOSE?

Judy: We started with the main character, Private Investigator Lucas Holt. Once we gave him a life and knew the kind of cases he worked, we tossed around a few ideas until we settled on the one we thought most compelling.

Pete: We were looking for something timely and, since we are coming to a presidential election year, thought a candidate could have his chances of being elected threatened by the exposition of something from his past.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Some themes in our writing are greed, revenge, and power. In EVERYTHING TO LOSE, we deal with the consequence of choice. Lucas Holt is a private investigator who specializes in kidnap recovery, a vocation fueled by the abduction of his six-month-old daughter, Marnie. Holt must deal with the emotional pain he suffers as a result of decisions he made fifteen years before. Although made in the name of justice, he lives with the fact that refusing to compromise his principles may have led to Marnie’s kidnapping. When Lucas Holt accepts the challenge of finding Janet Maxell’s daughter, he is attempting to atone for those choices.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

The better part of a year. While having each other to bounce ideas off is a perk of collaboration, we had to find an overall process that worked for both of us. Also we didn’t have a deadline and took our time.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Judy: No…but I’m adapting…sort of. I’m a pantser, and I love when I’m surprised by what a character does, where they decide to go, or how they respond to another character. It sounds silly, but for me the characters write the story. I am most productive in the early mornings when the house is quiet and the birds aren’t awake yet. Once I’m in the zone, I can write for hours.

Pete: Well…we are a collaborative writing team and sometimes find it challenging to merge our different processes and styles. I’m an outliner. I like structure and a definite time designated for writing. It can occasionally become…interesting…as we may not always be “on the same page,” so to speak. But we’ve agreed to sit together at 10am each day to discuss our current project. Once we’ve established what each of us will work on, we can proceed at our own pace.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Aside from merging our different writing habits, we’ve devised an overall plot line that spans the first three books in the series. Each book has a main plot—a case Lucas Holt must resolve and another subplot running concurrently. More and more information is revealed about the subplot until it is resolved in the third novel. The greatest challenge is the timeline and making sure the parallel storylines sync up and eventually converge to provide the reader a satisfactory experience. We believe we’ve done that in EVERYTHING TO LOSE.

What do you love most about being an author?

Judy: Although working as a team demands some scheduling, flexibility is a big perk of being an author. On the artistic side, I love to create characters and settings. It’s not quite the same world building as in epic fantasy, but it’s still great fun. It’s wonderful to write stories readers can enjoy and characters with whom they can connect. Writing is an extension of oneself, but only the author has to know how much of you is in your character or how much of their experiences are yours.

Pete: I agree with Judy. The hours are great and the commute’s a breeze! I enjoy creating a great villain—it’s about as close to being a badass as I’m going get. Now, ask me what I hate. I join a universe of writers who hate writing a synopsis for publishers. I live near the ocean and enjoy putting my “toes in the water and my ass in the sand” but when I am working on all cylinders on a villain, I forget to leave the house—unless there isn’t any beer in the refrigerator.

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?

While writing EVERYTHING TO LOSE, we intended to self-publish. We wanted to have control over the process and timing of the novel’s release. Then a friend recommended we submit our book to his publisher, a small press named Limitless Publishing, LLC. It turned out to be the right decision for us. They held our hand through cover design, editing, and marketing. They are a great bunch of people.

Where can we find you on the web?

Friend us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jandpratto

Follow us on Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/jp.ratto.1/

Follow us on Twitter @jandpratto: https://twitter.com/jandpratto

Visit our Website: http://www.jpratto.com/ Read the first chapter.

EVERYTHING TO LOSE is available on Amazon:

Paperback: http://amzn.com/1680584219

Kindle: http://amzn.com/B019BMC37U

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Vasudev Murthy Final - CMYKVasudev Murthy lives in Bangalore, India and writes on music, humor, management and crime. He has been published by Poisoned Pen Press, Bloomsbury, HarperCollins and Sage. His work has been translated into Portuguese, Korean, Japanese and Kannada. He is otherwise a Management Consultant and violinist with a passion for animal welfare.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Sherlock Holmes, the Missing Years: Timbuktu. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?
A: In the Sherlock Holmes Canon (the compendium of stories), there is a period between 1891 and 1894 that’s called the Missing Years. This is a period where Arthur Conan Doyle stopped writing after killing off Holmes at Reichenbach Falls. He resurfaced in 1894 in the story – The Empty House. There is considerable conjecture about where he might have been in the interim.

My first book about this was Sherlock Holmes, the Missing Years: Japan, where I claimed that he was in Japan. In this book, encouraged by my excellent editor, Barbara Peters, I placed him in a mystery in Timbuktu, or more correctly in Africa, with the center point being Timbuktu.

Q: What do you think makes a good thriller. Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?
A: This is only my view, of course. I think it’s the following:
1. An unpredictable plot
2. Finally etched characters one can visualize as someone in flesh and blood
3. A sense of closure – because we need to feel that good finally prevails over evil.

9781464204524_FCQ: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?
A: I have the key milestones more or less ready when I start writing. But since this kind of book involves a great deal of complicated historical research, I do face the challenge or temptation of trying to incorporate something I discover along the way. An occasional rewrite is needed. An example of that might be the very interesting story of the Cathars of France, the details of which I used in my Timbuktu story.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?
A: In my case, I have a different challenge. The protagonist, Sherlock Holmes, has already been sketched well and is often known to the reader before the book has been opened. That means I need to constantly adhere to the expectation of the user. But yet, it would be quite boring to have exactly the same persona unchanged since 1891. A little variation is needed – both to Sherlock as well as to the expected story line.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?
A: I think there are no true villains. Moriarty has, of course, an aura of utter villainy, but his is a character that must not be exposed too much. Other villains in this book remain hidden for extended periods, and then surface. The villainy comes from the expression of extreme views, a certain contemptuous cold-bloodedness. And yet, a villain might show sparks of being a normal human being – you can’t expect him to be nasty 24 x 7.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?
A: A chapter must end with an unresolved situation, usually via a completely unexpected event. You can keep the suspense going by refusing to proceed in a linear manner. In other words, you can help in delayed gratification. I think conversation, usually clipped, adds spice and creates a sense of involvement.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?
A: A historical novel must refer correctly to events in history and make the characters appear to be involved in them. Then the physical setting is also needed – the desert, the sea, the heat – we need to talk about this because it affects our characters. In this novel, I have done exactly that.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?
A: I did have an approximate plot but things did change along the way as I uncovered new historical facts. And no, this is a unique theme and does not recur. At best, I might say that both novels have travel intrinsic to the plot.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?
A: What we do is assemble some clumsy blobs of writing. It comes to life in the hands of an editor who you trust and whose motives are quite sincere. I hope that answers both questions. I am not in agreement with the notion that a writer has descended from the heavens as a supremely gifted angel.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?
A: Stamina – to write and revise. A thick skin – to ignore pointless criticism and an apparently indifferent market. Interpersonal communication – learning how to ask for opinions in the right way and allowing others to feel part of the writing process; they would then be your book’s ambassadors.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?
A: I don’t understand the question and will respectfully pass.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?
A: Not really. It changes constantly. In this specific case, it was always useful to refer to the original stories to remind myself of the tone and language of the era.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?
A: I think writing in different genres is stimulating. Writing in only one genre is likely to make your writing predictable, though it may garner a loyal set of fans who become fanatical about imaginary characters.

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Inside the Book

Reflective LeadersTitle: Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations

Author: Nick A. Shepherd and Peter J. Smyth

Publisher: iUniverse

Genre: Business and Economics

Format: Ebook/Paperback

An organization operating in the twenty-first century is different from one that operated during the Industrial Revolution. Today’s focus is on optimizing human potential; people are the enablers of most aspects of intangible value. People develop relationships with suppliers, customers, distributors, and other third parties through which work is executed. In Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations, authors Nick Shepherd and Peter Smyth take an integrated view of organizational performance that blends a focus on both outcomes and relationships.

Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations suggests a framework for developing and applying an improved approach to organizational leadership and management. In addition to philosophy and conceptual approaches, it presents tested practical tools and direction. It also delivers case studies of organizations that have applied Shepherd’s and Smyth’s ideas and realized measurable improvements in the day-to-day activities of the organization, along with measurably improved outcomes from the organizational activity.

Using over twenty years of practical consulting experience as well as careers in management, Shepherd and Smyth demonstrate how effective leaders can maintain a focus on organizational tasks and outcomes and do this while building and enhancing human relationships.

Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations is available for order at

Guest Post

“My boss is such a moron – she only occasionally listens to what I have to say and even then seems to ignore my ideas.” Sound familiar? While we may not have uttered the words directly it is quite possible that we may have heard it from others. How true is it?

The reality is that many people get promoted into leadership positions – not on their ability to lead but on their ability to get the job done. Yet once in a leadership position they often come to realize that they rise or fall based not on their own efforts but on the work of others; the result can be that they constantly hound their staff for results – thinking that is their job. Yet this creates dissention, unhappiness and an overall loss of morale.

What do effective managers do? In our book “Reflective Leaders and High-Performance Organizations” we share ideas developed over 25 years of working with individuals and groups. We describe how effective leaders must start by understanding their own personality and behavior and how this seen by others. Many of us see ourselves in a different way than others see us – and are surprised when we receive feedback that fails to match our own perceptions of ourselves. What “I think about myself” in my reality but unfortunately it may not be the reality of others!

Effective leaders learn to “look in the mirror” so as to start understanding how they are seen by others and how that determines how others respond to them. So to be an effective leader starts with the willingness to:

a. Have an open mind about opportunity for personal improvement;
b. Be willing to receive feedback from others in a “non-defensive” way, and
c. Be willing to take the feedback, learn from it and seek ways to improve.

People who are placed in leadership positions hold both the success of a department or an organization in their hands. It is almost a “sacred trust.” They have the potential to grow and develop other people in a way that maximizes their potential and brings the greatest benefit individually and organizationally. This is a critically important opportunity – there are no successful organizations only successful people – and successful people are encouraged and developed by effective leaders.

Meet the Author

Nick A. Shepherd has more than forty years of business experience. Since 1989, he has owned the management-consulting and professional-development company, EduVision Inc., which provides management-consulting and development services to public and private sector organizations.

Peter J. Smyth has over thirty-five years of experience in the fields of adult education and organizational consultation, counseling, psychology, social work, and mental health. He holds numerous qualifications in the areas of teamwork, leadership, coaching, emotional intelligence, and personal and organizational assessment.

Shepherd and Smyth have worked together for over twenty-five years facilitating workshops and helping clients enhance their teams and leadership capabilities.

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 Viral Justice Book Banner

Inside the Book:

Title: Viral Justice
Author: Julie Rowe
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Ecopy

As a general’s daughter, Alicia Stone has fought twice as hard for everything she’s earned in the military. A Special Forces consultant with black belts in three martial arts, she’s as strong as her surname implies. No one dares call her Alicia—no one but Colonel Robert Maxmillian, head of the Biological Response Team.

With Alicia at his side, Max must lead the team into northern Iraq to investigate a virus—or is it a weapon—killing the area’s population. Charged with guarding his body, she can’t help wanting his hands on her body. Max would be the perfect fling. But he demands more.

The heat builds between them, but danger quickly follows. As the two get closer to the source of the virus, they’ll have to risk their future to outsmart a scientist with nothing to lose.


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Meet the Author

Julie Rowe
Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”.
In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has short stories in Fool’s Gold, the Mammoth Book of ER Romance, Timeless Keepsakes and Timeless Escapes anthologies. Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. AIDING THE ENEMY (book #3 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2014 Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Canadian Living.
You can reach Julie at http://www.julieroweauthor.com , on Twitter @julieroweauthor or at her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/JulieRoweAuthor

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