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 -

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Amy Browning
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Tina Kulesa
Melissa Lockcuff
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Cara Powers
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher

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.