Thursday, December 31, 2009

In-Sight by Jerry Webster

Ward McNulty had it all…his own syndicated column, the love of the beautiful co-anchor for Channel Five News, and powerful friends—including congressional hopeful, Chet Garner. But in his pursuit of wealth and fame, Ward had distanced himself from his traditional Catholic family—especially his father—a common man with very uncommon insight.

State Senator Garner convinces Ward to support the conversion of the sleepy island town of Timuqua into an exclusive resort to be named “North Beach.” However, this pits Ward against his own father—a resident of the island—in a bitter eminent domain battle. Too late Ward learns that North Beach’s financial backers are not who or what they appear. And when Ward balks at being asked to slander his father’s attorney, he suddenly finds himself blind, broken, and charged with DUI manslaughter. Overnight, the whole structure of Ward’s “successful” life comes crashing down around him. He loses his job, his girlfriend, his eyesight, and is about to lose his freedom. When all his former “friends” abandon him, Ward turns to the only man who’ll stand by his side—his father.

In the meantime, North Beach’s financial backers will stop at nothing—including murder—to get what they want. In the ensuing struggle, Ward learns the secret of his father’s uncanny insight and the true meaning of sacrificial love.

In-Sight is the story of fall, forgiveness, and redemption…of deeply instilled family values triumphing over a culture gone awry…and of a lost son coming home. It’s for anyone who believes that God has a hand in destiny and is not completely surprised when He draws back the curtain for a brief instant and allows a glimpse at another reality.


Interview with Jerry Webster:

Q. Why did you write this book?
R. About three years ago I was on a silent retreat. One of the meditations was on the gospel of the talents and we were challenged to think about what talents we had that we’d never used for the Lord. My BA was in English Lit., but I’d never done much with it. By the time the retreat ended, I decided to try to write fiction—but fiction that would serve the Master. However, I had no idea of where to begin. So I turned to prayer and meditation for inspiration. All I got in return were intrusive thoughts about a movie one of my kids had rented called Shallow Hal. It was about a very superficial young man who judged everyone by their looks—their beauty or lack thereof…until he was hypnotized to see their inner character rather than their outward appearance.

Every time I tried to think of something to write about, the memory of Shallow Hal kept pounding at my mind’s door. Finally I discussed it with a spiritual mentor, and he suggested that—instead of purging the intrusive thought—I should go with it and see where it leads.
That night I got home, grabbed a pad of paper, and starting writing down “What if” questions. What if a man really could see inside others—their character instead of only their looks. What if a worldly, selfish, sinful man could see the condition of his own soul…whether he was alive with divine grace, dead in mortal sin, or “wounded” by past sins? How would that affect him? How would it affect his relationship with others?

From that thin thread of an idea, the plot for In-Sight was born.

Q. What was the hardest part?
R. Initially, the hardest part was in trying to come up with a scenario in which the protagonist, Ward McNulty, could develop in-sight into his own and others’ souls. It had to be placed in a context that made it believable. Before even beginning, I did some research into other men who had actually possessed this gift—Don Boscoe, Padre Pio, and the Cure d’ Ars—to name just a few. Then I coincidentally happened to read about a woman who was temporarily blinded after being thrown from a horse. So I did some research on temporary blindness caused by trauma. When I put these two together, I was able to come up with a plausible scenario in which a formerly healthy young man might be temporarily blinded—and in which his “sight” would be altered when he emerged from his physical blindness.

Q. What was the easiest or most fun?
R. I really had a lot of fun with a minor character, Emma Lee Wheeler, who plays a significant role at the end of the novel. She was an elderly black woman who worked nights on a hospital janitorial staff so she could help her daughter and two grandchildren. She was also a spiritual delight—a very kind woman who reflected God’s love on everyone she met. She and Ward developed a bantering relationship while he was hospitalized after his DUI accident. The give and take of their exchanges was a lot of fun to write. I was smiling almost the whole time—and I watched my wife smile, too, when she proof-read the novel and got to that part in the book. I think it was the most fun I had while pounding out the story.

Q. What do you hope people get from your book?
R. I hope that they’re entertained. Otherwise I would have written pure apologetics. But by weaving a moral into an entertaining tale, I hope that the moral will make more of an impact.

Most of all, I hope that the readers will recognize the spiritual realities of their own souls—that it might cause them to look inside and wonder what they would see if they had in-sight. I remember a saintly friend of mine once told me the story of how he had asked God to allow him to “see” his sin. How God granted him that grace—and how he wept bitterly for hours afterwards and was finally consoled beyond anything he’d ever experienced by the sense of overwhelming love and forgiveness.

The other thing I hope readers get out of In-Sight is some sense of God’s love for us—no matter what we’ve done—the knowledge that He can and does forgive all…if we just ask.

Q. How do you want to be remembered as an author?
R. I’d like to be remembered as a man who could spin a good yarn with a good message. If all I had wanted to do was to entertain, writing In-Sight would have been a lot easier. I love the old classics that weaved a moral seamlessly into the thread of the story so that the reader absorbed it almost without being aware that it was happening. That’s a goal of mine. Hopefully, as I write more and become better at the craft, I’ll be better able to emulate those masters of yore.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Help My Husband Has Sexually Abused Our Daughter: a devotional by Debra Butterfield

Help! My Husband Has Sexually Abused Our Daughter is a 30-day devotional based on the Book of Psalms. Written from personal experience, Debra L. Butterfield leads readers through the tumultuous journey of emotions mothers experience with this ordeal. Each reading includes four sections: My Story, Lesson, Take Action and Prayer.

Interview with Debra L. Butterfield

Why did you write this book? I wrote the book because I wanted mothers to know they were not alone in this ordeal and I wanted to help them through it.

What was the hardest part? Even though I thought I was fully healed from my experience, I had some emotional moments that revealed I still felt wounded in some areas. Writing the book helped me gain additional healing.

What was easiest or most fun? The easiest and most uplifting part by far was reading through the Psalms to find appropriate verses to use with each chapter.

What do you hope people get from your book? It is my intent the reader find hope, encouragement, and healing for her wounded spirit as well as practical tools to help her child and family heal.

How do you want to be remembered as an author? I'd like to hope that the openness and honesty about my life breaks down reader barriers and helps them to know I truly care about them and their lives.

What's next for you?
I am working to build a readership through an online magazine called Glory and It's designed to bring readers hope and encouragement for the tough issues in life like abuse through stories of real people and the victories they have experienced.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? Jewish Roots of Christian Worship by Meredith Gould, Ph.D.

In her newest book, author Meredith Gould invites readers to learn more about the Jewish sources of Christian rites, rituals, and traditions. She draws upon scripture and historical sources to explain how Judaism has influenced liturgical worship; the design and décor of church sanctuaries; and how Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation are rooted in Judaism. Includes: questions for reflection; activities for individuals or groups; a glossary, easy-to-follow timelines, and key Christian-Jewish documents.

Website Link:

Interview with Meredith:

Why did you write this book?

Raised Jewish, I was taught that cultural and religious identity were synonymous; both permeated our home. Having come of age during the 1950s and 1960s, I was raised during a time when this was true for most Catholics as well.

When, as an adult, I became a practicing Catholic, I was somewhat shocked to discover how much had changed. Younger Catholics seemed fairly clue-free about how to create – let alone sustain – their Catholic identity outside church. As a result, I ended up writing The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions (Doubleday, 2004).

While giving lots of parish-based talks about Catholic culture, I became aware that most Catholics know precious little (or nothing at all) about their Jewish roots. No joke: for some it came as news that Jesus was Jewish. (Really, I'm not making this up.) But, I was also delighted to discover a great curiosity about and hunger for learning more about Judaism among Catholics of all generations; that's why I wrote Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar?

What was the hardest part?

In both the "Foreword" and "Afterword" I describe some of the difficulties I experienced while writing this book. These difficulties ended up being personal, which is weird because I'm not exactly reticent about revealing factoids about my life in my published work.

I absolutely did not expect that researching and writing this book would plunge me into (yet another) murky night of the soul. Truly the hardest part was coming to terms with the fact that while Christians in the liturgical church (i.e., Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican-Episcopalian) might be ready to embrace their Jewish roots, some Jews had "issues" about my qualifications (read: chutzpah) for writing this book. So what if I had scholarly training, I'd deserted the tribe!

My Conservadox Jewish therapist, who provided much positive support during my years of Catholic formation and when I worked for a parish, finally got very directive. One day after I wept my way through a session, he said, "Forget about writing for other Jews. They won't understand what you’re trying to do." What was I trying to do? I was trying to make the case for more similarities than differences among and between us.

What was easiest or most fun?

You might think that doing lots of research was tough, but I loved every head-banging moment of sorting through historical and biblical scholarship, reading theology, studying scripture, and then making all that highfaluting stuff accessible to regular folks.

I also had a lot of fun making quirky connections and poking some gentle fun at this and that. I was thrilled when Christopher Ringwald, author of A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom and Joy on the Sabbath and editor of the diocesan paper in Albany, NY characterized my book as "erudite and charming and breezy (in a good way)" on

What do you hope people get from your book?

My hope and indeed my prayer is that as a result of reading my book, readers develop deeper appreciation and gratitude for their Jewish legacy. And, having developed deeper appreciation and gratitude, I hope they commit to cultivating this in their children and grandchildren.

Scholarly theories abound about why it took nearly a century for a religion called Christianity to emerge from Judaism. In my book, I invite readers to look at this history through the lens of Judaism, then offer my own perspective – a family feud spinning out of control to the detriment of all its members.

How do you want to be remembered as an author?

In addition to being fondly remembered as an author who made readers laugh about things not normally considered funny, I'd like to be remembered for helping to heal the shattered world of Christian-Jewish relations. And, what the heck, I'd like to be remembered as an author who tried to break through barriers to ecumenical understanding. Not too ambitious, eh?

What's next for you?

If you'd asked me this question while Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? was in production, I would've said, "Absolutely not another book." Thanks to the human capacity to forget pain, I've begun futzing with a book I started, then set aside, approximately six years ago. Sooner or later, I'll get around to writing a book about the spiritual value of fear. Write what you know, right?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Through the Open Window by Anne Faye

Lucy Lyons is a woman trying to escape her past. Content to work as a librarian and live alone with her dog, all she wants is a simple life with no complications. When she decides to take the plunge and begins to write a novel during National Novel Writing Month, she gets much more than she bargained for. Her writing will not only force her to face her own secrets, but will also put her in the path of a handsome artist who shares her love of the written word. "Through the Open Window" is an engaging novel about the secrets we keep and the hope for second chances.

Why did you write this book? I had always wanted to write a novel. Last year, I decided I would do National Novel Writing Month in November. I knew that there was no way I could get the 50,000 words done in one month, but I decided I would get as much done as I could. Of course, then I needed an idea. Around October 30th, the idea of writing about someone doing National Novel Writing Month came to me. After that, the story all fell into place. It actually took me until January to finish the story.

What was the hardest part?
There was a point in the middle of the project when I just hated the whole thing. I felt like it wasn't worth all the aggravation and frustration of trying to squeeze in writing on top of all the other busyness of life. But once I got through it, the thrill of completing it was well worth it.

What was easiest or most fun? Most fun was checking my word counts on a daily basis and watching them go up. Hitting 50,000 words meant so much to me, even though the story wasn't done and I had to keep going. There was a great sense of accomplishment.

What do you hope people get from your book? I hope people enjoy the story. It is light reading and a bit of a tearjerker. I hope that they come to care about the characters and spend some pleasant time reading it.

How do you want to be remembered as an author? I want to be remembered as someone who wrote stories that touch the heart.

What's next for you? Right now, I am working on promoting "Through the Open Window" and hope to begin work on a new novel soon!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Self-Publisher's Guide by Karen Coiffi

Do you have a book in you dying to come out? Do you want to self-publish a book you’ve already written, but you’re not sure what to do? Well, The Self-Publisher’s Guide is for you!

From Writing Your Book, to Self-Publishing Options, to Creating a Website, to Promotion - it's all included in this handy guide.

Topics include: learning to write, critique groups, being ready for publishing, choosing a publishing company, creating visibility through promotional strategies, bringing traffic to your site, resources, tools, and much more.

The Self-Publisher’s Guide offers great self-publishing and promotional tips, advice, information, examples, and resources!

Purchase link:

Why did you write this book?

There are three reasons I wrote this e-book. The first is that I listen to a number of teleclasses about writing and marketing. Hearing the questions asked from some attendees I realized there are many writers who don’t know the basics. I wanted to address these issues in an affordable manner.

The second reason is because I am a reviewer for and I review a number of self-published books. So far, almost every one of these books, it is obvious, has not been professionally edited. If fact, it is apparent that most of them haven’t even been critiqued.

I find this sad because a few of these self-published books had good stories. It is difficult to do a review for a book that is poorly written. One of the books I read didn’t even have dialogue punctuation. I am hoping that through The Self-Publisher’s Guide author’s who are taking this road will be better equipped to produce a quality book. I made the price of this e-book very affordable so those, like most of us today, with little money can still afford this guide.

The third reason I wrote this book is because I self-published a children’s bedtime story, Day’s End Lullaby, and this e-book. I put a lot of effort and time researching self-publishing and looked at a number of Print on Demand companies. I wanted to share this information with others who are venturing onto the self-publishing road.

What was the hardest part?

The hardest part was keeping the guide small. There is so much information on writing, publishing and marketing that it was difficult to narrow down the information I wanted to include in this 22 page e-book. It is intended to be a starting point that touches on everything from writing the story, to publishing it, to promoting it. While there are a number of very informative manuals that go into greater detail in these areas, The Self-Publisher’s Guide is meant to guide the writer so he/she knows in which direction to head, along with providing step-by-step instructions.

What was easiest or most fun?

The entire e-book was easy to write. When you know the topic well and there is so much information available, it’s easy to write about it. It began as a simple and basic 10 page guide, but every time I reread it, I added something else. Finally, I told myself I had to stop at 22 pages – I could have went on and on. And, it was fun trying to publish it.

What do you hope people get from your book?

I hope this e-book guides those who are beginner writers and those who are thinking of self-publishing onto the path that helps them produce a quality book. By taking time, a little effort, joining a critique group with experienced authors, and the extra cost of getting a professional edit, a poorly written or mediocre book can be turned into a great book.

This is especially true of children’s books. There are a number of tricks, strategies, and rules that are unique to this genre. If you’re not aware of them it’s a give-in that your book will reflect it.

How do you want to be remembered as an author?

I guess I want to be remembered as a good writer, one who knows the craft (still learning), and one who ‘pays it forward.’ What I mean by the last part is: recently I read in The Writer that writers are a generous lot. They give of their time and knowledge – they ‘pay it forward.’ I want to be remembered as part of that group.

What's next for you?

I have a number of things brewing. I’m working on a couple of children’s stories, I write articles about writing, marketing and health, and I want to write a guide for beginning writers, specifically children’s writers. As I mentioned above, writing for children involves additional rules and strategies. I know many beginner writers would benefit from a guide to get them started in the right direction.
In addition to this, I have the Karen and Robyn Writing for Children Newsletter that I send out monthly. It includes information, advice, tips, and links relating to writing, marketing, and reviews. In fact, sections of The Self-Publisher’s Guide are included in monthly installments. It also includes news bits from DKV Writing 4 U ( To subscribe readers can go to and just sign up!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Chaunce of Riches by Chelle Cordero

Ben Johnson was hired as a bodyguard for a rich widow and her kid, but he never expected to be working for the woman who had abandoned him just when he had needed her the most. Damn it all, he still wanted her. Samantha Chaunce never thought she would have to explain why she married the rich man instead of Ben. Or that her husband had been murdered...and Ben was the prime suspect.

An Interview with Chelle Cordello:

Why did you write this book? In yet another one of my random thinking spurts, I wondered how far a woman would go to help the man she loves – that’s how Samantha was born. I paired Sam with a guy who was educated in the "school of hard knocks" and who still had an attitude about those who "had".

What was the hardest part? Researching the setting so that it seemed authentic – while I've been to Baltimore and most of the other areas, I was not as familiar with them as my own backyard. Fortunately the internet provides a wealth of virtual sightseeing.

What was easiest or most fun? I will very often talk aloud as one of my characters as I write and I enjoyed talking like Samantha who went from being a financially poor orphan to the very rich widow of a publishing mogul. I enjoyed pretending some of the airs.

What do you hope people get from your book?
Enjoyment, on the surface. And I guess I'd like them to think about what they would be willing to do for the people they love.

How do you want to be remembered as an author? I think I just want to be "remembered".

What's next for you? My next novel Common Bonds: Tangled Hearts will come out next February. This is another romantic suspense that involves some unusual twists of fate, greed, deception and hot romance.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Christmas Cookies are For Giving by Kristin Johnson and Mimi Cummins

More than a cookbook, CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING is a celebration of family, friends and the joy of giving. Stories, recipes, tips and more...

Smells of cinnamon…cookie cutters…rolling and baking…eating dough…warm times with friends and family…Christmas cookies are a universal symbol of sweetness and family tradition at Christmas. But the joy of Christmas cookies goes beyond eating. In CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, Kristin Johnson and Mimi Cummins reawaken the fun of giving Christmas cookies, as they remember doing when they lived next door to each other when young children.

From the original short story “The Giving Christmas Cookie,” which shows a family brought together by a special cookie at Christmas, to nearly 50 scrumptious recipes with mouth watering photos, to the timely, easy directions for making homemade “Gifts in a Jar,” CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING shows that old-fashioned Christmas gifts are the antidote to cynicism about Christmas. The secret to celebrating your family and friends may not be in the mall, but in your pantry where you’ll find the ingredients to make Triple Chocolate Caramel Brownies, Nut Roll, and Vanillekipferl—The Giving Christmas Cookie. Give this book as a present, and you may be rewarded when someone you love bakes the goodies in this book for you.

An Interview With Kristin Johnson:

Why did you write this book?
My childhood friend Mimi Cummins started, which is a top-rated Christmas cookie site. We came together in California for one of our reunions, and out of a reminiscing session with my mother came the idea to do a Christmas cookbook--not just any cookbook.

Both Mimi and I grew up around wonderful bakers--her grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother. We used to live next door to each other and have many fond memories of Christmas cookies at each others' homes. Somehow we knew that we had to blend the recipes with stories about giving, family, friends and, of course, cookies! We had many stories from our childhoods, and Mimi solicited stories from the community.

What was the hardest part? I would say selecting the recipes, because there were so many yummy ones--also the stories. Another challenge was to make the spirit of the book stand out from other cookie books out there. I think of it as a Christmas storybook with recipes.

What was easiest or most fun? Working with my childhood friend Mimi Cummins. We had a blast doing this book. Also, getting lots of new recipes to try, and writing the short story "The Giving Christmas Cookie".

What do you hope people get from your book? You don't have to give the most expensive presents to make Christmas, or any occasion, special. In these economic times people are looking to simplify as opposed to the excess that we're all taught we should want. The Gifts in a Jar recipes especially are a terrific low-cost and thoughtful gift. Cookie dough bonds people together. As the stories from people on that were published in the book illustrate, making and giving food is a spiritual experience and a way to connect family and friends.

How do you want to be remembered as an author? As an uplifting influence, whether I'm writing science fiction, literary love stories, screenplays, teleplays, or whatever I am currently passionate about,

What's next for you? I'm doing many projects, and hoping to get my teleplay "" produced. Other than that, writing, writing, writing!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gonzo the Curious Cat by Martha Ramirez

Gonzo is a curious cat that lives on Farmer Louie's farm. As he learns the many lessons of life by his misadventures, he is often reminded of Farmer Louie's motto, "Safety First." Farmer Louie always knew that Gonzo's curiosity and adventurous personality would one day get him into trouble. But when Gonzo finds himself lost in an unfamiliar place, he discovers the true meaning of why it is important to be extra careful and less curious. Will Gonzo find the special gift he is searching for while lost? Come join the fun and meet all the playful barnyard friends, Gonzo the Curious Cat, and Farmer Louie. Learn what friendship and safety can bring.

Interview with Martha Ramirez:

Why did you write this book?

Gonzo the Curious Cat was inspired by my brother-in-law Gonzalo, AKA "Gonzo." When he was a young boy he was struck by a car, it nearly ended his life. In 2008 it happened again. A car struck him, nearly ending his life once more. What are the odds of that? I went to visit him in the hospital and I got this compelling need to write a story for children about safety awareness. Each character is named after a family member. The book is actually based on many misadventures that my brother-in-law has lived through. He's just like a cat with 9 lives. It is also dedicated to my father-in-law who recently passed away (Farmer Louie).

What was the hardest part? Can't think of anything LOL. Not with this particular book, anyway.

What was easiest or most fun? Naming all the animals after family members.

What do you hope people get from your book?
Safety is important.

How do you want to be remembered as an author? I want to be remembered as a great entertainer. Also I would like my storytelling to be able to touch lives, in some way or another.:)

What's next for you? I am currently seeking representation for my debut novel. I am also working on both a paranormal story and a memoir (as well as other children books). You may visit my Website at: I also have a blog at: and a reviews

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gaea by Robina Williams

The heavenly Design Center is where it all happens: new worlds, new species, are planned and built here, prototypes are tested, and the creations are sparked into life. Earth's greatest inventors, craftsmen and artists work here among the angels, contributing their skills and ideas. There's a great restaurant, too, with Saint Lawrence himself, patron saint of chefs, cooking personally for distinguished visitors. Among whom, one fine day in early summer, is Earth’s goddess, Gaea, dining in the company of Quant the seraph and saints George, Sebastian and Stephen—for the Lord's family is large and varied, and all its members are expected to get along together. Mostly they do get along, though Gaea is hopping mad at the way she has been treated by mankind lately. She herself has been the subject of a brutal assault, her animals, birds and fish are suffering, and her environment, her very fabric, is under attack.

The goddess decides to hit back and show Man that he needs to improve his behavior, in his own best interest. She calls in her relatives to assist her in persuading humans to mend their ways before they cause irrecoverable damage: men must learn to share earth’s resources and respect the planet that supports them. “Mister don’t care” must be made to care.

Interview with Robina:

Why did you write this book?

I wrote this book because I felt strongly about mankind’s degradation of earth and the harm that humans are doing to their fellow inhabitants of the planet. Because I don’t have the knowledge to write a scientific treatise, I decided to personalize the issue: I would write about Gaea as mother of her pantheon—mère de famille—and the difficulty she and her progeny were facing when a newcomer to earth began behaving so selfishly as to threaten her entire realm. Now I come to think about it, maybe for Gaea and her family it was somewhat akin to having a new and troublesome neighbor—or rather, a neighbor that had suddenly turned troublesome, for she had had no quarrel with early Man. Early Man had understood that Earth needed nourishing and caring for, but later Man had forgotten that Earth sustained him and that he needed, in his own interests, to look after her. If he overexploited her resources and damaged her environment, then he himself would ultimately suffer. Gaea—Earth—wondered why he failed to grasp the obvious.

Gaea is my somewhat alternative take on the problem of human activities harming the planet. I have never been quite sure that the ancient gods ever went away—I saw no reason why they should—and so I decided to use the old deities to cast fresh light on a matter of significance to us today. On my web site is an article I have written about my blending of the classical world and our twenty-first century world, with the gods helping to mend an environment we have damaged in our headlong rush for technical progress: take a look at Gaea Hits Back, on

What was your favorite part?

I especially enjoyed writing the scenes featuring the Lord and His seraph Quant. I felt that there was a relationship there. The seraphs, archangels and other angels, having all been created to serve their Lord, were given different tasks. The angels did as they were bid, of course, but they had preferences, and some of them found earth duty uncongenial. Not so Quant. He liked humans and happily lived among them at his Master’s behest. His Lord was appreciative of the sacrifices His faithful seraphic servant made and of his willingness to take feline form so as to blend with friary life. And the Lord was amused by the little jokes the quantum cat played on his beloved friars.

I also greatly enjoyed writing the final scene, where the entire cosmos joined in praise of the Lord of Life, species and stars alike raising their voice in thanks to their Creator, and the Lord, God of All, expressed His delight at hearing this universal harmony by stretching out His hand and lighting the heavens.

What was hardest to write?

I find that the beginning of a book is the hardest part to write. One has to structure the opening scene in such a way that it grabs the attention of readers, compelling them to want to read on. The very beginning has both to set the scene and to point to future possibilities. Also, of course, the author is introducing characters—probably the main characters in the story—and they need, to my mind, to be portrayed in a sympathetic light, so that the reader will identify with them and will be keen to know what happens to them later on.

What do you hope readers get from it?

My hope is that Gaea manages to convey a sense of the inclusiveness, the interconnectedness, of creation. People—indeed, creatures of all types—may look different from each other and differ in their nature, but all were brought into being by the Lord and are loved by Him in all their variety. Life is a network—perhaps literally, with the cosmic filaments; nothing lives in isolation. Mankind needs to realize this; Man is part of an ensemble, part of a divine symphony—again, perhaps literally, for each star and planet has its own signature note. The Lord is making heavenly music, and humanity is one of His players. Man needs to coordinate his activities with those of his fellow inhabitants of earth. As Gaea says in my book, “There’s plenty for everyone. I’ve resources enough…” Man needs to share; if he monopolizes Earth’s gifts, then there are stresses and strains which ultimately adversely affect Man himself.

What's next for you?

I am now writing the fourth book in my Quantum Cat series. I am also trying a ghost story but I’m not sure if this will work out.

Finally, I would like to say thank you, Karina, for giving me this opportunity to talk about my books on your book blog, Virtual Book Tour de 'Net.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Relics by John Desjarlais

Relics tells the story of Jean-Michel d'Anjou, a young disinherited knight who tries to save the Sword of St. Martin in a burning cathedral but fails. However, a perfect cross is burned on his shirt, which the bishop takes as a sign that Jean-Michel should go on a quest to find relics to replace those lost in the blaze. Consumed by an impossible longing for the lovely baroness who finances the venture, Jean-Michel travels with a mysterious troubadour and wandering scholar to Crusader Palestine, where he becomes entangled in a terrorist plot to assassinate King Louis IX of France.

An Interview with John Desjarlais:

Why did you write this book?

After writing “The Throne of Tara” (Crossway Books 1990), set in Dark Age Ireland , I became interested in the rich trade in relics during the Middle Ages. These treasures of bone, cloth, and small possessions (rings, swords, shoes and such) were guarded by kings and monks, bought and sold for exorbitant prices, stolen, fought over, counterfeited, and, of course, used widely in devotions. Every cathedral altar had a relic embedded below it; every knight’s sword contained a relic in the pommel. People traveled long distances on pilgrimages to be near the remains of famous saints, seeking spiritual renewal or particular favors, especially healing. As a Protestant (at the time; I’m a Catholic now)), I was fascinated by this Catholic practice. The greatest relic of all was, of course, the Holy Land, which was fought over during the 200-year period of the Crusaders’ occupation of Palestine. My other historical fiction revolved around the collision of cultures, and the clash of Christianity and Islam in this period seemed strikingly contemporary. It’s more so now, post 9/11.

What was the hardest part?

The research was daunting, especially in the age before the Internet (I worked on it in 1991-2). But I loved exploring in libraries and museums, and research always revealed new plot possibilities. The hardest part, as usual, was getting out of bed early in the morning, at 4:30, to write before my day job as a media producer began at 8:00.

What was easiest or most fun?

The most fun in writing fiction is finishing a scene that you know really works. You read it over and it comes alive, even to you, and you ask, “Did I just write this?”

What do you hope people get from your book?

A few hours of entertainment with some learning along the way. There isn’t a deep ‘message’ in the story, apart from, perhaps, the protagonist’s real quest to be accepted by his critical father and discovering that God the Father accepts him as he is. But like the troubadours of the period, I mainly wanted to tell a good yarn with some intrigue, danger and romance.

How do you want to be remembered as an author?

I think I want to be remembered as a faithful and godly Catholic, a loving husband and caring father and grandfather first. As an author? I hope people regard my work as smart, stylish, and soulful – maybe even worth reading more than once.

What's next for you?

I’m working on two things. First, a sequel to my recently-released mystery BLEEDER (Sophia Institute Press) that features a minor character from that story, Latina insurance agent Selena de la Cruz, as the protagonist. VIPER, told against a rich tapestry of Aztec mythology and Mexican Catholicism, deals with the rural drug trade. My other project is a chapter in a forthcoming book that considers the work of J.R.R. Tolkien in relationship to books of the Bible. I’ve been asked to examine how St. Paul’s ideas about the nature of sin as discussed in The Letter to the Romans are exemplified in The Lord of the Rings.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CSFF Presents: Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson

Fantasy. Mystery. Action. Humor. Parents, teachers, and librarians will no longer have to push kids to read-The Berinfell Prophesies will engage intermediate readers and leave them clamoring for more.

The Seven succeeding Elven Lords of Allyra were dead, lost in the Siege of Berinfell as babes. At least that's what everyone thought until tremors from a distant world known as Earth, revealed strange signs that Elven blood lived among its peoples. With a glimmer of hope in their hearts, sentinels are sent to see if the signs are true. But theirs is not a lone errand. The ruling warlord of Allyra, the Spider King, has sent his own scouts to hunt down the Seven and finish the job they failed to complete many ages ago.

Now 13-year-olds on the brink of the Age of Reckoning when their Elven gifts will be manifest, discover the unthinkable truth that their adoptive families are not their only kin. With mysterious Sentinels revealing breathtaking secrets of the past, and dark strangers haunting their every move, will the young Elf Lords find the way back to the home of their birth? Worlds and races collide as the forces of good and evil battle. Will anyone escape the Curse of the Spider King?

Purchase Curse of the Spider King:

Learn more at these sites:
Wayne Thomas Batson’s blog -
Christopher Hopper’s Web site -
The Prophecies of Berinfell series Web site -

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Last Protector by Daniel Starr (with Review)

Scrornuck Saughblade, a tall, red-haired young man who wears a kilt and packs a "magic" sword, thinks he's just doing a good deed and maybe meeting a new girlfriend when he wades into a Saturday-night bar brawl to rescue serving-wench Nalia. Jape Phelps, the Ranger whom Scrornuck is sworn to protect, knows better: Nalia's ability to duck a punch before it's thrown is the visible display of a much deeper talent, a talent that just might save the world when the "streams of time" cross two weeks hence.

Read more about how Starr created his world's religion, Spafuism: Faith-Filled Fiction

Mini Review by Karina:

FTC Disclaimer: All I know was I was standing in this incredibly long line waiting to go on some crazy ride I wasn't looking forward to but my kids were clamoring for, when the tall, skinny bearded guy in armor and carrying the most freaking-amazing sword I'd ever seen pops into line in front of us. He said, "Expect a book. Review it. The fate of Topeka* depends on it!" and he's gone before anyone can protest his cutting into line! Well, the book showed up in my e-mail. I didn't pay for it. I'm not getting paid for it. But the fate of Topeka* is in my hands...

The Last Protector is laugh-out-loud funny with some very clever details. I enjoyed the characters and the general plot quite a bit, but I must admit, the details appealed the most to me. Things like The Sacred Yellow Bricks left behind when the construction crews got laid off, or the employees that magically appear to return your shopping cart for you. The "freaking-amazing sword" was a wonderful piece of high-tech placed into a medieval setting--a nanotech blade controlled by the grip and mental imaging of its bearer. Daniel Starr is full of creative ideas like that, woven into the book with a sense of fun. This is one I plan to read to my kids (9-16, who still love bedtime stories).

*Actually, it's spelled Taupeaquaah in the book, but how was I to know?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

As the Eagle, Flies the King by Wendy McNeice

Forced to be queen to an absent and evil king, Chaim, with her friend and servant, dress as scribes and escape the loneliness of a confined life, to begin a journey to Jerusalem to fulfill her father’s dying wish. The words of the prophet Daniel grip her consciousness just prior to her escape. The two are followed by an elite Mede soldier, working undercover for Persian King Cyrus. Chaim initially detests Mohganees, thinking he is a Persian conqueror who may one day entrap her enslaved people. Mohganees the Mede throws a talisman into her boat as she escapes and she kicks it into the Euphrates, thinking it an evil spell. The mystery of the talisman will weave its way into the book. During the famous battle in Opis, the place the Euphrates will be diverted, Mohganees twice saves Chaim and her friend Ettu from captivity. Mohganees commandeers a boat they are traveling in as he follows the king’s orders to map the Euphrates to re-channel its flow. He is believed drowned when the Arab trader’s boat they were traveling in is overturned by thieves.

The girls are taken into the camp of some highwaymen intent on enslaving them and Mohganees also becomes a (disguised) captive of the highwaymen. Believing Mohganees to be dead, Chaim professes a new found love for him and Chaim and Ettu assist Mohganees’ escape, unaware who he is. When Mohganees returns to find the talisman, Chaim and Ettu attempt to rescue an orphaned temple slave, the one who tells them the news that will make their decision clear. Sheera has overheard that Cyrus is on the march to Babylon. In a remarkable twist, Chaim comes to realize she must return to Babylon, as she understands that to follow the call of God unconditionally, she must trust in the Lord, which means that “He will direct thy paths.” In so doing, Chaim discovers the purpose of her mission was quite different from her expectations.

In the mean time, Mohganees makes a bid for peace to the soldiers manning the bulwarks at Babylon and helps open the way for a peaceful takeover of the city by Cyrus, the ‘annointed one’ of Isaiah. The mystery of the ‘talisman’ is revealed and after the final climax, joining the Persian army to release the Jews from Babylon, Chaim and Mohganees have professed their desire to marry and now have one more hurdle to face. Mohganees is not a Jew, and another twist will leave the reader with a pent up sigh of relief. And Ettu, Chaim’s former servant and long-time companion, becomes one of the ‘singers of renown’ at the request of the new king.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Power in the Blood by Linda Tate

Power in the Blood: A Family Narrative traces Linda Tate’s journey to rediscover the Cherokee-Appalachian branch of her family and provides an unflinching examination of the poverty, discrimination, and family violence that marked their lives. In her search for the truth of her own past, Tate scoured archives, libraries, and courthouses throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, and Missouri, visited numerous cemeteries, and combed through census records, marriage records, court cases, local histories, old maps, and photographs. As she began to locate distant relatives — fifth, sixth, seventh cousins, all descended from her great-greatgrandmother Louisiana — they gathered in kitchens and living rooms, held family reunions, and swapped stories. A past that had long been buried slowly came to light as family members shared the pieces of the family’s tale that had been passed along to them.

Power in the Blood is a dramatic family history that reads like a novel, as Tate’s compelling narrative reveals one mystery after another. Innovative and groundbreaking in its approach to research and storytelling, Power in the Blood shows that exploring a family story can enhance understanding of history, life, and culture and that honest examination of the past can lead to healing and liberation in the present.

Power in the Blood can be ordered directly from Ohio University Press ($18.36) or from Amazon ($17.90).

Thursday, November 05, 2009

John Paul II High: Trespasses Against Us by Christian Frank


Spring semester at the first year of John Paul 2 High, it seems to Celia Costain that almost EVERYONE is dating: except her! Her parents don't allow dating, and Celia's mostly fine with that -- but that doesn't make her life much easier. Because she's the principal's daughter, everyone seems to think she's perfect. And when scary things start happening to her friend Allie, no one seems to want to tell Celia what's really going on!

As for George Peterson, his conflict with Tyler Getz is far from over. As Tyler targets more JP2HS kids, and threatening messages on Allie’s cell phone appear with alarming frequency, George starts wondering how long the good guys have to wait before they’re allowed to strike back?

As events escalate, George finds himself waiting for Tyler to cross the line so he can serve out justice … but the only person standing in his way is his former best friend: Celia Costain.

Mini Review:

Another terrific book in the John Paul II High series. Christian Frank takes on topics from teen dating to school shootings. I loved how the characters continued to be real kids; there was no perfect Catholic schoolkid portrayals here. As such, readers identify with the kids and what they're dealing with. I had a hard time putting it down, and indeed, swiped it from my daughter's room so I could finish it! Definitely a series to collect.

Interview with the Author: (Christian Frank is the pen name for a team of writers. One of the writers of Trespasses, Andrew McNeil, speaks to us today)

Ryan and I (and Johnny, author of books 1 and 3) have been on the JP2HS development team since “the beginning”, several years ago, when we all met around a small table in Regina’s kitchen (why is it that so many great Catholic endeavors have begun around someone’s kitchen table?) to hash out the concept. I’ve known Ryan for 15 years, and it was an extremely easy and enjoyable process tag-teaming Trespasses with a good friend. We wrote over the course of months, through many ups and downs regarding the series’ future (thanks be to God they seem to be worked out now), on two separate computers in the same room of my home. Although we were both tasked to concentrate on separate viewpoints (I wrote George; he wrote Celia), there was a constant exchange of ideas about story and character, so you can truly say that all of the book belongs to both of us, and really to the entire JP2HS team. These characters, their lives, motivations, and futures have been a part of OUR lives for a long time; I’m glad you and your daughter are enjoying them so much. Spread the wealth! Tell everyone about us!

On to your questions.

Why did you write this story?

Personally, I’ve always been a bit down on the quality and character of products made specifically by Catholics or Christians, meant for mass market consumption. This is just my opinion of course, but I’ve found the Christian book, movie, or album that competently entertains while it informs or glorifies to be pretty rare. I’m sure we could all name our favorites, but I’ve heard many “readers of faith” tell me they feel like they have to “settle” for some types of Christian entertainment because they feel compelled to avoid all things secular (a view I don’t necessarily share, but I can sympathize with people who feel that way; it’s often more trouble than it’s worth carefully picking your way through the minefield of non-religious media, some of which is brilliant and some repulsive, and often both). Even things produced specifically for the “serious” Christian community are often spotty in terms of quality, or are simply under-produced – there’s only so much production money to go around, after all.

So I was happy to agree to write book 2 when the opportunity arose. I had been attending JP2HS group meetings for some time, and I knew the characters and tone we wanted. Especially important to me was Regina’s insistence that we weren’t writing a “girl’s book” or a “boy’s book”, and we weren’t limiting ourselves to Catholic readers (although we knew, realistically, the majority of our readers would come from that audience). We were also trying to avoid pandering to a too-young age group – while adults aren’t our target audience, I’d hope that our books are entertaining and refreshingly “real” to adults (judging by all the “I read this book with my kids and we both loved it” type of responses, it seems like we’re achieving that goal). I look at this series as an opportunity to put out something authentically Catholic, faithful to our Holy Father, the Magisterium, and the long-standing Traditions of the church, that mixes high quality with a strong moral underpinning. Despite the uncommon situations our JP2 kids find themselves in, much of what makes the books compelling is a sense of realism – these characters live in a real world, with real people that aren’t always good or bad, and where the best thing doesn’t always happen.

To answer the question, then: I hope Catholic teens (and adults) reading our books will, first of all, enjoy themselves and have a good read. I also wanted to give something to the Catholic community that would reflect the experiences of real Catholics in the real world, while at the same time addressing issues within both the Christian and secular worlds, which are really the same world. Finally, I hoped to provide a positive and truthful image of Catholic teaching and thought to our readers outside the Catholic community, all while never compromising on the beautiful truth which is Catholicism. I think it’s safe to say that’s what all of the JP2HS team members are hoping for.

What was your favorite part to write?

I’m a humor kind of guy, so I enjoyed finding the funny little moments to write about. On the other hand, I liked the action scenes too, particularly the ending. For those of you who’ve read the book, I hope that doesn’t sound weird! My favorite scene from Celia’s point of view was actually right near the beginning – the description of daily life in the Costain house.

You have some pretty heavy scenes in this book—how difficult were they to write?

Perhaps not as hard as you might imagine. In fact, I found those particular scenes easier to write than some of the more day-to-day ones. For me, the hardest parts of writing are the little annoyances: making sure everyone is where they should be at a certain time or place. Getting the little details of setting just right. Describing mundane facial expressions. Big action or suspense scenes, on the other hand, seem to roll off the pen, so to speak. I usually get those correct on the first writing.

Would you have wanted to go to John Paul II high when you were a teen?

That’s a tough question. I went to public school all the way up until college. I’d never been to a private school, Catholic or otherwise, and my only exposure to home schooling were two friends (a brother and sister) who used the Seton program (excellent, by the way) for high school. I didn’t have the experience at the time to realize just how much secular culture informed everyday life in the public schools. I was Catholic, but not as courageous or forthright about my faith as I should have been. My faith was tremendously strengthened during my college years (at Christendom in Front Royal, Virginia), and I looked back on some of my high school experiences with horror and sadness, all the more because I hadn’t realized at the time just what I was missing, or what I was doing wrong.

On the other hand, I learned a lot from those bumps and bruises about how the secular world really works, its strengths and weaknesses, joys and terrors. My time at Christendom was in some ways the polar opposite, but not everything was completely different. My experiences in both environments helped me to learn which actions and attitudes, shared at both types of schools, arose from human nature, and which were the product of a good Catholic upbringing or surroundings. It also gave me a realistic window into both secular and Catholic thoughts and ideals, and I value that knowledge. In fact, in terms of writing the JP2HS series, I consider it one of my greatest assets.

My wife and I home school our own young children, and I would certainly consider sending them to a good Catholic private school like JP2HS before I would a public school, even though our public schools in this area are really good places. Public education is a mixed bag at best, and while I don’t doubt that it’s for some people, it’s certainly not for us. And of course there’s all the government intervention, forced secular culture, and poor standards to consider.

Even given all that, though, I wouldn’t trade my personal experiences in public school. That’s easy to say in hindsight, of course, when I’m sitting here happily married with two great kids, a bunch of solid Catholic friends, and at one of the best parishes on the planet. The teenage me might have jumped at the chance to escape the popularity rat race that is public school, or might have equally balked at a total student population of seven!

What's next for the kids of JP2HS?

Hmmm . . . so many secrets to keep. What can I tell you? Well, book 3 takes place entirely over the summer between the previous school year and the next, and is told from the viewpoints of Allie and Brian. Allie is dealing with fallout from the shooting, and Brian has his own problems. You can probably find out everything I’m allowed tell you at the official JP2HS website. Book 4, which Ryan and I are starting now, starts the next school year from George’s and Liz’s perspectives, and promises to include much in the way of surprises that . . . uh . . . I can’t tell you about. Let’s just say that life at JP2HS won’t be as easy as it used to be for our friends there. But then, life never is.

Anything to add?

Regarding Catholic entertainment, I should say that ever since I've been involved with the JP2HS project I've become more aware of quality Catholic literature and novels for all ages, not the least of which are Regina's own books. I used to think there simply WAS no good, modern Catholic lit. Now I'm more of the opinion that it's out there, but sometimes hard to find. And of course, there are unfortunately still poor efforts out there that get published anyway, simply because they have the words "Catholic" or "Christian" attached to them.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Book of Tentacles by Scott Virtes & Edward Cox, editors

Special note: This anthology features my story, "Mishmash," from the DragonEye, PI, universe. Ever wonder how Sister Grace ended up working with Vern? It's all explained in "Mishmash" in The Book of Tentacles.

Come here . . . but not so close that THEY can reach you. Not so close that THEY can whisper their secrets into your ear.

THEY know the frailty of our minds, and the joy of perverting sanity. THEY long to share their stories of how the human race falls, of sacrificed princes, and of mad women roaming the streets of lost cities. THEY have tales to tell of murder, mystery, magic, and of things you cannot see.

THEY want you to listen. THEY want you to know.

Now come here. But not too close ... or the tentacles will find you.

- strange last words of the mysterious Edward J.

The Book of Tentacles contains 30 original stories in a variety of genre starring--you guessed it!--tentacles. Aliens to ancient gods, deep seas to outer space. Come and read the adventures of those who got too close.

* 1: INTRO by Scott Virtes
* 2: "A Lady’s Quick Reference Note on the Tentacle" – Camille Alexa
* 3: "Call of the Bailiff" – Matthew Bey
* 4: "Professor Hilliard’s Electric Lantern" – Robert J. Santa
* 5: "Lab Assistant" – Marge Simon
* 6: "A Quiet Neighborhood" – Laura J. Underwood
* 7: "In the Octopus’s Garden" – James Dorr
* 8: "Drosera" – Joshua Gage
* 9: "The Temple of Squoad" – Steve Goble
* 10: "A Ferrylouper at Stenness" – Christopher M. Cevasco
* 11: "Cascade" – Cathy Buburuz
* 12: "Hideki and the Giant Squid" – Mark Lee Pearson
* 13: "Mishmash: From the Case File of DragonEye, PI" – Karina Fabian
* INTERLUDE: Weird Art
* 14: "long and black in the middle of the night" – Sharon Bray
* 15: "Low Life" – Clinton Lawrence
* 16: "P6 is Burning" – Scott Virtes
* 17: "Slight Pudgy Writer Seeks Foreign Entanglement" – Tyree Campbell
* 18: "What Did She Know of Love" – Terrie Leigh Relf
* 19: "Taking Root" – Rob Brooks
* 20: "Sucker Punch" – Mark Onspaugh
* 21: "The Little Sea Maid" – Kendall Evans & Stephen M. Wilson
* 22: "One Big Drinker" – Billy Wong
* 23: "To See" – Jim Ehmann
* 24: "Mr Octopus Hands" – Brian Rosenburger
* 25: "Dead Wait" – Carl Hose
* 26: "Jar of Peaches" – Terry Hickman
* 27: "The Mantle of Power" – Matt Betts
* 28: "Blood Amber" – Keyan Bowes
* 29: "Ink and Shadows" – Kali Black
* 30: "Azure Doom" – William Blake Vogel III
* 31: "The Signal" – Aurelio Rico Lopez III
* 32: OUTRO by Edward Cox
* Cover Art & Design: "A Chance of Tentacles" by Scott Virtes

Buy a copy or get more info at the website,

CONQUER ALL OBSTACLES by Jo-Anne Vandermeulen


Middle-aged divorcee, Tara Robstead, wants more than a secret love affair with her boss, Josh Henderson.


Yet, her search for a happily-ever-after costs her more than a price paid in blood—her soul is slaughtered.


Now confined in a mental hospital, she must confront her greatest fears in order to break a psychopath’s control over her fractured mind.


Against the ticking clock, Josh must face his true love for Tara before it’s too late.

Visit the author’s website at:

Interview with Jo-Anne Vandermeulen

Why did you write this book?

When I wrote “Conquer All Obstacles” I was having a lot of internal conflict. I’d just returned from the Neurologists (after performing several tests) to confirm or rule-out the possibility of early Alzheimer’s. Thankfully, the tests turned out negative. The symptoms I’d been experiencing would have to be further examined.
In “Conquer All Obstacles” there are passages woven throughout the novel, taking the reader into the ‘NOW – at Gladstone Central Mental Hospital’. The main character’s collection of semi-comatose internal conversations, are the actual confused (or I call it practically insane) thinking I was experiencing—making this suspense/romance a very interesting read. The reader is taken from the NOW to the past (starting at 6 months prior) and gradually lead into the present time. “Conquer All Obstacles” is a real page-turner with a built in story structure that hooks the reader right from the start--the reader cannot help but wonder why a strong independent woman could end up in such a confused mental state, and how will she be able to conquer this internal battle that’s happening within her mind.

“Conquer All Obstacles” is a testimony for all who inspirational message that confirms our internal strength can overcome whatever ailment or barricade that a person may have to face. Love, passion, and the true spirit of hope can work as weapons; battle and win against obstacles. An inner strength that most don’t realize we have.

What did you enjoy most about writing it?

When I wrote “Conquer All Obstacles”, I enjoyed feeling the characters become real in all forms—physically, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually. Their personalities developed and grew as the story unravelled.

What was hardest to write?

The most difficult part to write “Conquer All Obstacles” was the first 50 pages. I must have revisited and revised those pages anywhere between 30-40 times.

What do you hope people will get from your book?

By the time the reader completes “Conquer All Obstacles”, I hope they are inspired with new discoveries about love, courage, and internal strength of mentality. The readers will feel growth as they become each character—experiencing the truth about love, the power of courage; and the knowledge of making choices...the means to conquer all obstacles is controlled from within thy self.

What's next for you?

I live one day at a time—a journey that’s already predetermined by God. Yes, I plan; but, I don’t plan the outcomes. Expectations just get me into a lot of trouble.
Over the next 4-6 months, I plan to market “Conquer All Obstacles” through local and Internet promotions. I’ve become my own publicist, distributor, and marketer which leaves little or no time for writing.

Within this time frame, I will continue with the edits to my soon-to-be-released (November 2009) “Premium Promotional Tips For Writers” and keep building my author platform. Once this non-fiction is released, I will continue to take the rolls mentioned with a shift in targeted audiences—exchanging interests from suspense/romance to more writers and authors who are searching for practical tips to market their books. Having a fiction and nonfiction released fairly within the same time period should prove very interesting (which I’m up for the challenge).

There’s no way I can stay away from writing for a 6 month period. I plan to write another fiction. My readers will dictate whether or not there will be a sequel.

Corresponding with my fans is very important. I’m looking forward to our exchange of ideas and the building of relationships. Opportunities have a way of just showing-up behind all doors I open. Thank you Karina for THIS wonderful opportunity to share my some of myself and my writing with your readers. God bless.

Monday, November 02, 2009

John Paul II High: Catholic, Reluctantly, by Christian Frank.


When their parents decide to start a new high school,George, Celia, Liz, J.P., Brian, and James are all thrown together, although they have almost nothing in common. George and Celia attended the local Catholic high school, Brian and James were homeschooled. Liz just wants to attend a school where she can play sports, and J.P. just wants to make trouble.

Then there's a shooting at the local public high school, and Allie Weaver joins the class ...


What I love about this book is that just because the kids are in a Catholic school--a small "upstart" school begun because (it's surmised) the local Catholic school was secular in its thinking and curriculum--doesn't mean that they are isolated from the world or some kind of cliché of Catholic children. They do say the rosary, and they learn to apply Catholic teachings and philosophies to their lessons, but these are kids anyone can identify with. There's the jock, the beauty, the practical joker, the disdainful know-it-all, and the peacemaker. They have fights, break the rules, go to the school dance at the public school (and have fun). They have insecurities, crushes, and teenage angst. In other words, these kids are as real as kids you'll find in any school today. That makes for a great breeding ground of stories.

"Catholic, Reluctantly" is a great start. We see the kids in the first day throes--and the teachers, too, as they deal with the problems of starting a new school in an old (formerly abandoned) building. John Paul's practical jokes don't help the school's situation, either--especially when he brings in a cow on the day an inspector shows up!

Of course, the biggest adjustment is for Allie, whose mother forced her to attend because Allie had been held at gunpoint at her old school by someone in a costume. With the gunman still at large--and possibly among the student body--she's relieved to attend John Paul II high, but misses her friends, her old classes, and her boyfriend, captain of the wrestling team. However, as she gets to know the kids as JP II, especially George, also a wrestler and a sweet guy, she starts to see things differently. No, no sudden major change for "Catholic goodness" but a very natural and gradual realization that maybe her boyfriend isn't quite the Prince Charming she thought he was. (He is a jerk.)

George and Brian (another JP II student who had been homeschooled until then) join the public school wrestling team. Again, the situation is treated with realism, as George makes assumptions about his skinny, homeschooler friend, and appoints himself "protector" with disastrous results.

This is another book I passed on to my daughter, Amber, who has been homeschooled, Catholic schooled and is starting her first year at the public high school. She's identified with the characters to the point that she dreamed about them while reading the book. She found the plot exciting and believable. She begged me to get the next one even before she'd finished reading the first.

Sophia says of the JP II series: "It's about time Catholic teens have a fiction series they can call their own." It's true that Catholic kids will identify with the kids in JP II high, but I'm not sure I'd limit my readership. The issues addressed in these books are ones all kids face, and their responses are good examples to anyone. Not to mention, the book is just a great read.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Daughter of Narcissus by Lady Colin Campbell

Daughter of Narcissus is a stunning analysis by Lady Colin of her own dysfunctional family positioned at the heart of upper class Jamaican society from the middle of the 20th century to the present day. Covering the end of the British Colonial Age and the rise of a liberated generation, whilst addressing the narcissistic personality of her mother, the author brilliantly interconnects the sociological, political and personal. As she dissects the family dynamics lying beneath the appearance of wealth and power, Lady Colin’s understanding of personality disorder is revelatory: compelling the reader to comprehend the destructive and tragic reality concealed by rational language and behavior.

Set against a backdrop of glamour, wealth and fame, this compulsive book is both a fascinating history of one socially prominent family, and a uniquely detailed analysis of narcissism, its manifestations and how to survive them in order to lead a purposeful and affirming life.

Interview with Lady Colin Campbell:

Why did you write the book?

Daughter of Narcissus
was not my idea. The suggestion that I write it came from the eminent American psychoanalyst Dr. Erika Freeman. She thought that I could make a contribution of value to a subject, narcissistic personality disorder, that at the time (three or so years
ago) had been little addressed by professionals much less by those who had lived through it.

At first I baulked at the prospect, not only because I am not a professional psychoanalyst/psychiatrist/psychologist, but also because I felt it would violate my mother in writing a book about her. Erika convinced me that there would be no disloyalty in writing the truth about my mother, for she was already dead, and the experience I had gained as a result of her problems might help others who were living through or trying to recover from what I had survived and managed to turn into something psychologically and spiritually enriching.

What is your favourite part?

I cannot say I really have a favourite part. The book needs to be taken as a whole, for it is an amalgam of so many varied traits, qualities, blessings, curses, failings, and it covers such a wide spectrum of experiences and periods that the sum of the whole is greater than any of the parts, in my view.

What was hardest to write?

One must remember that I am a professional writer who has written many books, so writing comes as naturally to me as typing does to a secretary.

On a more personal front, because I had been through therapy many years ago, and had therefore buried all my ghosts, there was no one part of Daughter of Narcissus which was particularly hard to write.

I do feel, however, that it would have been impossible, rather than merely difficult, to write the book had I not been through the cathartic process which good therapy is.

Personality disorders are very damaging to everyone who encounters them, and I cannot conceive of any writer doing justice to a subject that is so complex, conflicting, contradictory and turbulent without first having gained a degree of emotional distance and serenity through therapy. I would go as far as saying that personality disorders are not fit subjects for writers to use as cathartic vehicles, for the damage they can do to others as well as themselves can be great indeed, unless they are in command of both themselves and their subject. And such command does not come through off-loading one's pain on a reading public which will often be vulnerable, but in healing yourself and understanding not only what you suffered, but what your perpetrator also suffered. In a word, compassion rather than judgementalism or emotional dumping will ultimately be more productive not only for the writer but also the reader.

What do you hope readers get from your book?

I hope they gain knowledge they did not possess before they started to read the Daughter of Narcissus, as well as confirmation for the instincts they have or have had when dealing with people who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and its related personality disorders. NPD is quite a difficult disorder to cope with, and I hope that by being as honest and open as I have been, readers who might be in positions that are similar to that which I and my siblings and other relations were in vis-à-vis Gloria, will somehow benefit from my experience. I don't pretend that dealing with NPD is easy, or that it is painless, but I do hope that by the end of the book those who are locked into relationships with NPDs will have gained sufficient tools to lighten their load and maybe even to begin the process of liberation.

It may not be possible to have a truly good relationship with an NPD, but I found that it was possible, if one drew the lines very definitely and faced what one was dealing with constructively and positively, that I could have as good a relationship with my NPD as her disorder allowed. So instead of it always being dreadful, or of her usually making me feel dreadful, one could draw what little good existed out of the relationship, while minimising the inevitable discomfort.

What's next for you?

Daughter of Narcissus
is the second book in a row I have written about an anti-heroine, the first being Empress Bianca, about a double murderess who evades being tried for her crimes but finds that public odium for her actions is so great that the world instead of a cell has become her prison.

I think a change of pace is appropriate as well as desirable, so after I have promoted Daughter of Narcissus I shall be embarking on two separate projects. The first is an intellectual indulgence which will most likely make me not a penny, but will bring such pleasure that I will not mind. It is editing an eighteenth century memoir of a French royal who had strong views on how Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette reacted to as well as mismanaged their responses to the Revolution, with a foreword which will explain the characters involved and their significance in what has already gone down in history as the first great revolution. In my view there has been far too much partisanship in considering the French Revolution and its main players, and now that sufficient time has elapsed for consideration to be given to each participant in an even-handed way, thinking people should be able to digest and incorporate the facts and contradictions without becoming so polarised that they adopt unnecessarily pro-royalist or -republican positions.

My second project will be the indulgence of another interest. I
suspect it will have far greater general appeal. I have been
commissioned to update and expand my 1986 Guide to Being a Modern Lady.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eden Fell by Lily

A dark and modern fairytale that chronicles Eden's life as she falls from grace. Following a stream of consciousness, she journeys with her constant companions, the snake and the rhinoceros, through her life as an abstract painter to the end of the world. Together, the three of them encounter zombie marionettes, a frost prince, a winter sprite and a diligent gardener. Without the snake and the rhinoceros, there is only a punk kid, a clerk at a convenience store, an agent and a smattering of acquaintances. Watch... as Eden falls.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Zombie Cookbook by Kim Richards: Reviews

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Mini Review by Karina:

I'll post other reviews below, but thought I'd put in my two cents. Light on the horror and heavy on the fun, this book has a lot of imaginative stories and cover the gamut of interests. "A Hard Message to Deliver" is very well done horror, while "A Zombie's APB" will make you snort out your brains. "The Secret Ingredient" has a "cozy mystery" feel to it, as did "Brain Food." I could see "Brain Salad for Dummies" featured in Zombieland. "A Zombie Named Clete," "Beer-Battered Brains," and "Quick and Easy Zombie Pastie" are cute, fun reads, while "Express Cuisine" never stops with the action. (I won't comment on "Wokking Dead" or "My Big, Fat, Zombie Wedding," except to say I was laughing for hours after I wrote them, they were such fun.)

I will warn you: a few of these stories have excessive profanity, IMHO. I don't recommend this for kids because of that.

Wrap of of Reviews!

The Zombie Cookbook helps, what really keeps the idea of zombies “fresh” in the mind of readers around the globe is its collection of stories, poems, sketches and recipes which orbit around a subject everyone can sink their teeth into: Food!
--Trent Kinsey,

As you can imagine, all of these stories are written tongue-in-rotted-cheek. So if you want a fun collection of writing that mixes humor, horror, and a dash of cilantro, pick up The Zombie Cookbook.
-- Sean McLachlan, cot 5

"Are you a fan of rotting flesh, drooping eyeballs, dismembered bodies, romance? Romance? Yes, The Zombie Cookbook has something for everyone whether your reading tastes lean toward the gruesome or the romantic. Kim Richards has put together an eclectic collection of zombie tales and recipes... Interspersed with these delectable tales are eye-popping, finger-licking good illustrations provided by the talented George Silliman"
Penny Ehrenkranz,

The Zombie Cookbook is kick-ass, 'pee-your-pants' funny, and definitely worth checking out! For those with a dark, twisted, sick sense of humor, GET THIS!! 5 Stars!
--Shaun Collins, Purple Raven Reviews:

If you’re a fan of zombie fiction, I would definitely recommend picking this up. Don’t try the recipes at home, though, unless you’ve got a shambling dead to feed.
--Muse's Block, Sinai Enantia,

...well-written. ...When the collection hits its high points, in stories like The Right Recipe and My Big Fat Zombie Wedding, you end up discovering some short stories that have a lot of depth and world-building done to them in addition to the puns and slapstick humour that pepper the book. ...definitely worth checking out.

Ryan Harron,

The Zombie cookbook puts a totally new twist on the lives or rather lack thereof, of such creatures.
--Ron Berry,

full of surprises--a wonderful break from the traditional Halloween-type horror stories
-- Books and Authors,