Sunday, 30 June 2013

Booksigning Horror Story by John Hartnett

Booksigning Horror Story
by John Hartnett

My book, “The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life from the Cheap Seats” was published in December, 2012.  It took so much time and energy just to pull the whole thing together that the idea of having to market and promote it myself was akin to be asked to run the New York Marathon 30 seconds after finishing it.

I must admit that I have not done the best job in promoting my book but did manage to set up a couple of book signings, the first of which was at the Catholic Bookstore, located on Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans.  During Mardis Gras.

For anyone who has not been to New Orleans, it is a city that “brakes” for parties and virtually shuts down during Mardis Gras, arguably the biggest celebration of the year.  Schools, businesses even streets are closed so drumming up a crowd for even a well know author isn’t easy.  Try getting a crowd to skip a parade to meet a self published author from New Jersey.  Fearing the worst,  I was tempted to pick up a couple of laborers that hang around outside of the Home Depot just to fill up the room.

The reason the signing was set up in New Orleans was because my wife was born and raised there and her mother and several of her siblings live there as well.  To say my wife misses New Orleans is a gross understatement and as hard as I try, there are few comparisons I can make between life in the Big Easy and New Jersey, with the exception that people from both locations have a strange way of pluralizing “you”.  I believe the correct spelling for NJ is “youse” and in New Orleans, it’s “y’all”.  Even with that amazing similarity, my wife has yet to fully bond with the Garden State and on some days, even me.

So facing the strong possibility of a small turnout, all I can say is thank God for my mother-in-law because she was able to get some of her friends to come and we had a nice little crowd.  Many of her friends are in their 70′s and 80′s and I was asked to say a few words about my background and how the book came along and since none of us know how long they have left, particularly people who are in their 70′s or 80′s,  I tried to keep it short.

Unfortunately, several of the women arrived at different times, and the store manager kept asking me the same questions I had already answered and I was forced to repeat myself to the point where many of the early arrivals, including myself, were giving serious thought to leaping out a window.

There was one woman there in her late 70′s who had written her own book about her father and we spent some time talking about it.  It was a self published, large format, hard copy deal and cost something like $45, and it became clear to me that she wanted me to buy her book.  I, of course, wanted her to purchase my book, which topped out at $8.99 and had, upon further scrutiny, a lot more laughs in it than her’s did.

Every time I put her book back on the table, hoping to focus on me for a few moments, the woman found something else to show me, and pointing out a photograph or an old newspaper clipping, placed the book back in my hands.

I ended up dropping the $45 for her book, in fact, if I recall correctly, she followed me right up to the cash register,  and after factoring in all the books I sold that afternoon, in addition to the four or five I gave away for free to a few family members and a young priest who had wandered in, I grossed something like $3.85.  Still, a good time was had by all, as they say, and more important, I learned a valuable lesson.

Never tell another author who comes to your book signing that you know how to read.

 Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre –  Humor
Rating – PG
More details about the author & the book
Connect with John Hartnett on Facebook & Twitter

#Orangeberry Author Interview - Alison Morton


What inspired you to write your first book? A terrible film! It was that simple. Something snapped in my brain and I thought, ‘I can do better than that.’ I sat down at my computer the next morning and started typing. But I think that underneath, I must have been ready to get my story out, to bring Roma Nova out of the place it had been hiding for many years.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? When I was beginning, I read, listened, absorbed and acted on every piece of advice I received from tutors, conference speakers, bloggers, fellow authors. Then after a while, I saw conflicts in all this advice and started to sift it. The result was the list of writing books I recommend on my blog:
I took the advice of an established writer who said he never read other people’s work when he was working on his novel and I’ve found his advice was solid. I wrap myself up in my own world, and resist others’ influence. You have to keep your own writer’s voice clear in your head.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Apart from ensuring you have your grammar and vocabulary correct and your research verified, I think the most difficult part is the sheer physical effort of producing 100,000 words. The hours fly by and you look back at the five or six pages you’ve produced and realise you’re at the end of your working day. Then it starts all over again tomorrow.
The next hardest thing is to leave your completed manuscript alone for at least two months. Your head is still reverberating from being in the book’s world and it’s very hard to start the next project. But putting distance and perspective between you and your work is essential if you want to remain objective when self-editing.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? It made me realise how complex any book is and what a lot of hard work goes into creating a story. Novels must have some kind of structure and purpose, and progress from the situation at the beginning to some kind of resolution by the end, i.e, a well-constructed plot, rather than just a series of events. And this takes work!

Do you intend to make writing a career? It’s my fourth career! But I think it’s the best one. I’ve worked in the City of London, as an entrepreneur and then translator; occupations which have honed my work and organisational skills, developed my business acumen and made me a wordsmith.

Have you developed a specific writing style? My style is succinct, spare and accurate, according to my readers. I haven’t aimed for a particular style, but one of my pet peeves is unnecessary description, so I try and drop in enough detail so the reader knows where or when they are, but I don’t want them to start skipping because I’ve included superfluous words. Every one is there because it needs to be!

What is your greatest strength as a writer? I’m not sure I can answer that without sounding as if I’m bragging! Readers have said they like my ability to surprise them. I’ve always had an active imagination and love thinking up plot twists. I leave it to reviewers. One said, “Brilliantly plotted original story, grippingly told and cleverly combining the historical with the futuristic. It’s a real edge-of-the seat read, genuinely hard to put down.”

Can you share a little of your current work with us? It’s the sequel to INCEPTIO and the next in my series of Roma Nova thrillers. PERFIDITAS (Betrayal) continues the story of Carina who is now established as a special forces officer. But she’s in trouble. One angry colleague has tried to kill her and another sets a trap to falsely incriminate her in a conspiracy to bring down the government of Roma Nova. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman exiles, Roma Nova has survived until now. Once the conspirators strike, Carina is on her own. Her natural ally, her husband Conrad, is imprisoned. Calling for help from her old friend, Apollodorus, a career criminal now mostly going straight, she races against time, desperate to save her country. But she is totally unprepared for the ultimate betrayal…

How did you come up with the title of the book you just published – INCEPTIO? INCEPTIO means “the beginning” in Latin. It’s the story of how Carina, originally called Karen, was raised in America (albeit a different America from the one in our timeline), then had to flee from a sinister government enforcer. She escaped with the help of a special forces officer called Conradus Tellus to Roma Nova where her dead mother had been born – a new beginning for her as well as the start of her story for the readers.

Can you tell us about your main character? In INCEPTIO, Karen Brown is a regular young woman, not quite 25 years old, who works in an office in New York. Her parents are dead and she’s not particularly happy or unhappy. She’s had to become self-sufficient and even defensive because of the changes in her early life, but she’s a decent, likeable, average girl with a strong sense of right and wrong. And a bit of a temper.

When her life is threatened and she’s uprooted, she discovers not only her true background in Roma Nova, but resilience and personal strength which she needs to face the killer who’s hunting her.

What was the hardest part about writing this book? Following historic logic. If you write a story with a historical theme, but which departs from our standard history, you have to develop that alternate history in a credible way or you’ll lose the reader. Unlike fantasy where you can introduce all kinds of interesting elements like wizards, earth-lore, elves, etc., alternate history has to follow from the point where it diverged so you can’t go from Romans to Tudors in ten years. That’s an extreme example, but you see what I mean.

If you bring a custom into the modern era, you have to think about how it would fit in. For instance, in the Roma Nova police station, there are honey cakes in the squad room, not chocolate digestives (UK iconic cookie) or bagels. And while the Roma Novans are proud of their culture and history, they only wear formal dress (stola and palla for women, toga for men) on formal occasions. My heroine wears her service uniform most days and changes into jeans when at home.

Is there a message in your novel? Well, first and foremost, I want people to be entertained by my book, but there are themes of loss, self-discovery and uncertainty running under the thriller story. Nothing is ever as it seems and we can never be sure of what will be thrown at us. And, of course, there’s a strong tone of feminism, not strident, but very confident: in Roma Nova, women are naturally prominent in all aspects of life.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller (Alternate History)
Rating – PG13
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Alison Morton on Facebook 1 & Facebook 2 & Twitter 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Barber’s Conundrum by Other Stories by John Hartnett

The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories is more than just a collection of thirty-seven short literary humor pieces and humorous jokes that will make you laugh. It provides a treasure trove of tips and invaluable advice to help you navigate safely through marriage and relationships, raising kids and to finally understand the more peculiar aspects of day to day living that up until now, had been tossed into a big heap as just another one of God’s mysteries.

For example, did you ever wonder why weather reporters continue to stand in the middle of raging hurricanes to tell us what hurricanes are like when everybody else already knows what hurricanes are like? Did you ever wonder why people stop their cars in the middle of the street to let geese walk past even though geese have been flying long before Cro- Magnon Man was in knee pants? Did you ever think that if aliens do exist on our planet, most of them work in customer service? They do!

All of that, and more is in the book, so what do you say? At $8.99, you’re guaranteed to receive at least $10.50 worth of terrific advice and life extending laughter, which as we know is the best medicine, and there’s never a co-pay with laughter so you’re up well over $20 already and this is only the back cover. Think of the possibilities to save when you read the whole thing.

 Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre –  Humor
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with John Hartnett on Facebook & Twitter

#Orangeberry Author Interview - Gabriel Boutros

Can you share a little of your current work with us? The Guilty is about Robert Bratt, a highly successful lawyer who specializes in twisting the facts to get his clients acquitted for the crimes they committed. His daughter’s best friend is raped by a former client of his, who is then successfully defended by a lawyer that Bratt had trained. That lawyer made the victim look like she was the aggressor. This turns Bratt’s daughter against all lawyers, including him, and starts him questioning  his profession and the way he has practiced it. Although he’d like nothing more than to take some time off to re-assess his priorities and heal his relationship with his daughter, he is committed to defending a violent, young gang member accused of a double-murder. Bratt has doubts about his client’s innocence, but feels the pressure to continue his old tactics in order to win despite everything his conscience is telling him.

Who is your publisher? I am a proudly independent author. In other words, I self-published using CreateSpace. It’s a great tool for someone who enjoys doing everything themselves, although they also have people on staff you can hire for different parts of the book-making process. If I’m self-published it’s because I realized that a new and unknown writer was going to have to spend a lot of time publicizing his book, even if he used a traditional publisher. So, now I control what kind of marketing I want to do, who I want to do interviews with, where I submit my book for reviews, and so on. I don’t worry about whether my publisher is really pushing my book, or has a vision for it that is different from mine.

How did you develop your plot and characters? The general outline of the murder and the ensuing trial is actually based on a murder case I worked on many years ago. I found the facts of that case could be the framework for a story that was as much about the lawyer struggling with his own conscience as it was about his trying to win his case. As for the characters, I tried to keep them realistic, with well-rounded personalities. They may have a characteristic or personality trait that I may have noticed in someone I met here or there, but none of them are based on anybody real. I tried to write each character in a way that he or she has a specific role to play in the twin conflicts that are fought in the court room and in the lawyer’s conscience.

How do you promote this book? I spend lots of time connecting with readers, as well as other authors, reviewers and bloggers, on various sites. This means lots of interviews, getting others to review my book, writing a humble blog about my struggles to achieve fame and fortune, etc. I do spend quite a bit of time on the marketing and promotion, but I’ve also met many great people who are really into writing or reading books, which just happen to be two activities that I’m really into as well.

Will you write others in this same genre? For sure. For a few different reasons: first of all, most readers, and I include myself in that group, love a good courtroom drama, with all the tension and conflict that’s inherent to the subject-matter. It’s also an area I know well, and so can I can mine it for many story ideas. I also love a setting which has the potential for moral and ethical conflicts, running in parallel to the criminal story.

How much of the book is realistic? As I wrote The Guilty I kept imagining various lawyers I knew reading it. I knew if I twisted around the courtroom procedures, or cut corners on some basic rules of practice, or had lawyers saying things in court that real lawyers would never do, that I would hear about it very quickly. So, while it is a work of fiction, which means everything gets ratcheted up a notch or two for dramatic effect, I think how the lawyer deals with his client and his witness, how the trial unfolds, and the decisions people make, are all realistic.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Yes. I am presently working on a new book. It’s called A Crooked Little Man. It also revolves around the Montreal legal scene, although the main character is the polar opposite of the lawyer in The Guilty. He is, by all standards, a failure. He has a hard time finding or keeping clients, rarely succeeds in any of his cases, and can only pay his rent because he is collecting alimony from his much more successful ex-wife. Circumstances find him representing a homeless man accused of murder, and he finds himself over his head.

Do you have any advice for writers? I can’t add anything to the best advice I was ever given: before you become a writer you have to spend a lot of time reading. It amazed me when speaking to some young writers to find out that they weren’t very well-read. I don’t know how you can write a book unless you know what goes into making a book great, or even terrible.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? I think those who enjoy reading should constantly stretch their tastes and interests. That means reading genres they hadn’t tried before, going for more commercial or literary fiction, depending on what they usually read, trying out classics, as well as newer writers, maybe taking a look at experimental or avant-garde writers. The worst thing that can happen is you confirm your previously-held opinion that you don’t like something. More than likely, though, you’ll surprise yourself by discovering books you never realized you’d enjoy.

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? I will be happy if I feel that I’ve written all the stories I wanted to, whether it is one, or one hundred, more. I don’t want to stop writing and regret never getting around to some great story idea. Of course, it will be important for me that people read and enjoyed my stories. That’s a very gratifying thing.  But even if nobody ever read anything I ever wrote, I still was very happy to have written them, and I think I’ll feel the same way when I hang up my quill.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Courtroom Drama
Rating – R
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Gabriel Boutros on Facebook

The Guilty by Gabriel Boutros

THE GUILTY has been described as “A Brilliant Courtroom Drama.” (Charles Bray,

It is the story of Robert Bratt, once a high-flying defense attorney, but now haunted by doubts over his chosen profession and the violent people he represents. He is hired to defend Marlon Small, a young tough who is accused of a brutal double-slaying. The accused’s mother is a devoutly religious woman who is certain that her son has been falsely accused, and looks to Bratt to save him. 

Despite the mother’s protestations, Bratt’s instincts tell him that Small’s airtight alibi is too good to be true, and he is very probably guilty. But Bratt’s drive to succeed, combined with his sympathy for the heartbroken mother, push him to defend the young man.

-Can he continue to turn a blind eye to what his client has done, and manipulate the truth as he so often has in the past, while no longer being able to look himself in the mirror?

-Loosely based on a multiple-murder that shocked Montreal in the 1990s, this riveting story pulls the reader into the inner workings of a murder trial, and reveals what one lawyer must do when he has to defend “The Guilty.”

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Courtroom Drama
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Gabriel Boutros on Facebook

Friday, 28 June 2013

Evergreen by David Jester (Excerpt)

Sheila Haynes woke that morning to a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach, the place where butterflies and insecurities wander. She hadn’t drunk the night before, hadn’t eaten anything that might have given her a suspect stomach.

She walked to the bathroom on high alert, tried to recollect her dreams as she showered -- hoping for a memory of something that could have put her in such a state of anxiety. It didn’t occur to her until later, after she’d dried, dressed and prepared for breakfast, that the root of her unease was her daughter, Siobhan.

She usually woke to the sound of the fifteen year olds music, or the chatter of her teenage prattle on her phone as she kept her friends up to date on how little each of them were doing. The bass of the music or the sound of her voice penetrated through the two-bedroom mobile home like rain on a tin roof. Sheila was often forced to listen to the latest trending tune or to her daughter’s newest celebrity crush. That morning she hadn’t heard a whimper.

She made herself some toast, trying to enjoy a breakfast in silence but feeling incredibly uneasy about it. Her daughter was a pain, most teenagers were, but she loved her. She was a loving child, showing more compassion, empathy and respect than many girls her age. Yes, they had their rows and yes they had their fall outs, but they loved each other. They’d been each other’s rock ever since her father, the bastard with the unfaithful eyes and wandering penis, walked out six years ago.

She made Siobhan a slice of toast and a cup of tea, took it to her bedroom with a smile on her face.
Siobhan wasn’t there and their home was small, there was nowhere else for her to be.

The bedsheets were ruffled, disturbed, but it wouldn’t be the first time she hadn’t made her bed. Her clothes from the previous day were still strewn across the floor.

She put the plate and the cup down, held a hand to her uneasy stomach. She checked for Siobhan’s mobile phone, she would never leave home without it -- she would feel like she’d lost an arm if she didn’t have it stuffed in her back pocket or clasped firmly in her hand.

The phone was under the bed, dropped to the floor and kicked underneath. Sheila took it out, checked the messages for a clue, a sign. There was nothing of note.

She began to feel worried. Her heart was thumped in her chest, she could feel her pulse in her neck as her blood threatened to leave her body. She mumbled a small prayer, made the sign of the rosary and left the house, deciding to quiz the neighbours.

She stopped on the doorstep, her heart caught in her throat.

Siobhan was on the ground, twisted like a discarded doll at the foot of the steps. Sheila made a noise, a half-scream, half-shout. She toppled forward, her legs giving way. She bounced and rolled down the three metal stairs that led to her door, stopped on the dewy grass beneath, managed to remain upright on wobbly legs.

Neighbours heard the noise and began to filter out from the surrounding caravans, swarming out of the densely populated park where everyone’s garden was everyone else's. They stopped when they saw the body, some shuffled forward, others moved back. Some beckoned people to the scene; others wanted, tried and failed to make it to Sheila to comfort her.

Sheila screamed until her throat ripped raw; until her lungs expelled their last, exhausted breath; until the blood of those watching ran cold. The noise would be her last, torn by grief she would never utter another word, wouldn’t be able to summon the emotion, the enthusiasm, to offer anything more for anyone else. Her screams would live on in the nightmares of those that had heard.

She dropped to her knees. The pale flesh on her pointed kneecaps dug into the soft mud, the sucking sound of the impact audible in the aftermath of the faded torment. She reached for her daughter’s head, held it in the crook of her arm like she had done so many times before.

She was cold, colder than she’d ever been. Her face was hers -- the same face that had grinned many a cheeky grin; smiled many loving smiles and kept her proud mother happy -- but it was colder, whiter, emptier. A small trickle of blood seeped out of her blue lips; Sheila wiped it away with a thumb, kissed her cold lips and then dragged her head close, burying her silent sobs into the withering, blood-stained locks.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Horror
Rating – PG13
More details about the author & the book
Connect with David Jester on Twitter

Garry Rogers – The True Beauty of Book Covers

The True Beauty of Book Covers
by Garry Rogers 
I only recently began to question the old line, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”  Having never really given the subject any thought, I always assumed that the sole purpose of a book cover was to attract buyers.  I thought of it as an advertising gimmick that served a commercial purpose and had nothing to do with the quality of the story.  I felt that plain covers might be more honest and desirable.

When I completed my first novel, “Corr Syl the Warrior,” my attitude changed.  I was concerned that since I had no reputation at all, there might be no readers.  I was confident that some readers would like the story, but I was suddenly concerned that those readers might never stumble upon the book.  I decided that I needed a snazzy cover.

The only thing I knew about eBook cover design was that the fonts had to be legible at thumbnail sizes.  Other than that, I assumed a book-cover designer would create something attractive that would appeal to potential buyers.  I checked a few websites for examples, and chose a designer that had made some science fiction covers.  I provided a one-paragraph book description and a few pictures, and sat back to see what she would produce.

The designer did a great job with what I gave her.  She proposed a few options, suggested colors and fonts, and ended up doing a beautiful job.  Along the way, I thought more about book covers and realized that I had missed an opportunity.  I began looking closely at the covers on the books on my shelves and I realized that book covers could play a significant role in telling a story.

With shapes, colors, and text, a cover could set a mood and it could illustrate important story elements.  An author could use the cover to foreshadow important events within the story.  I realized that the cover could also help define characters, give a real glimpse of a setting, and give clues to the story theme.

The first book I read to myself, “Tarzan the Terrible,” has gone through numerous printings since its publication in 1921.  And it has had at least 20 different covers.  The covers range from simple text to images that seem unrelated to the story, and to images that illustrate important scenes and the story theme.

As a child, I often wondered what the image on the cover was.  I imagined several possibilities, and finally settled on one.  I think it depicts a particular scene in the story.  I could be wrong.  If you think you know what the image is, add a comment to the post on my website.

Book covers can be more than mere advertising, or even works of art.  They can be beautiful, informative, and suggestive all at once.  A cover designer might achieve all that, but a designer working together with the book’s author is more likely to take full advantage of the opportunity the cover provides.  If the author can describe what the cover could show, a good designer can probably put it together.

So, can you tell a book by its cover?  YES, if the author takes the time to help with its composition.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre –  Science Fiction 
Rating – PG
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Garry Rogers on Facebook & Twitter

Corr Syl the Warrior by Garry Rogers


When an armed Danog patrol crosses the border into Wycliff District, the Wycliff Council sends a young Tsaeb warrior named Corr Syl to investigate and recommend a response. Corr soon learns that spies have infiltrated his district, and already many lives are at risk. He catches a glimpse of something truly evil, and with no time to spare, must choose between a safe response that might fail, and a sure response that might start a global war.
 Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre –  Science Fiction 
Rating – PG
More details about the author
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#Orangeberry Author Interview - Brenda Faye Collie

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? The completion of my trilogy based on the character Loresha Evans.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? It originated when  I was in the 4th grade and I was given the assignment to write a poem.

How long have been writing? I have been writing for over fifty years.

When did you first know you would be a writer? When I was in college.

What inspired you to write your first book? I wanted to write about a positive role model.  A book that would encourage teens to be the best they can be.

Do you intend to make writing a career? I am doing that now.  I am semi-retired and I spend a lot of time writing stories and plays.

Have you developed a specific writing style? I try to write in first person giving the feeling that the main character Is speaking directly to the reader.  My playwriting background helps me do this.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? My greatest strength as a writer is my use of dialogue.  This is demonstrated in my novels and plays.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? I am presently working on a book of short stories and plays.

How did you come up with the title? Almost A Senior, the title of my novel, came about because the heroine is a Junior doing what is normally done by Seniors.  She became president of the student body at her high school.  Thus, she is Almost A Senior.

Can you tell me about your main character? Loresha, the main character, is a teenager who knows what she wants. She is a good student who loves school and what school has to offer.  She is an excellent role model for other teens.

Who designed the cover. We wanted a real female teen on the cover.  I suggested my niece.

Who is your publisher? My publisher is a small independent publisher; with Scott Martin at the helm.

Will you write other books in this genre? Yes, I am developing another teen/young adult novel.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? Some personal experience, for example I was on the student body council.  By vote, and I struggled with breast cancer like Loresha’s mother, Mama Police.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Young Adult
Rating – PG
More details about the book
Connect with Brenda Faye Collie via email

Almost A Senior by Brenda Faye Collie


Almost A Senior is the story of the soon to be 17 year-old, Loresha Evans, a junior at a fictitious Harlem high school who has just been elected student body president. The book boasts greatcharacterizations. She learns from the difficulty of leading a reluctant student council and non-caring student body the importance of patience and diplomacy. She also learns the importance and benefits of doing one’s civic duty.Loresha’s social status changes and she becomes a member of the school’s “in crowd.” The price is the loss of her best friend. She experiences her first love. But is he right for her? Loresha’s time in office brings herface-to-face with school politics and personal challenges.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Young Adult
Rating – PG
Connect with Brenda Faye Collie via email

10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Being an Author by Steena Holmes

10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Being an Author
by Steena Holmes  
  1. Get ready to invest: 3 laptops later, I wish I had bought a MacBook in the very beginning and discovered Scrivener. It has literally changed how I wrote and in a good way.
  2. Patience is a skill I would need to learn and fast.
  3. The way my beta partner writes might not work for me, and that’s okay.
  4. Find a good chiropractor and become their new best friend.
  5. Not everyone will be happy with your success. And by ‘not happy’ I mean jealous, rude and will tear you apart publicly. Don’t take it personal. Just smile and realize it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
  6. Just because I wrote it doesn’t mean it should be published. That goes for my first, fifth and tenth book. Not every book needs to be published.
  7. Just face it – your family will not buy your book. And that’s okay. In fact, you should probably just forget about that all together.
  8. Suck it up and learn how to promote and market your books. Don’t rely on your publisher or friends to do it for you. And be prepared to be surprised at how much you like doing this. Yes, it will shock you.
  9. Not every idea is a great idea – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it first. Just be open to failing – fail forward – it’s the only way you’ll learn and grow as a writer and as a person.
  10. Get ready for your dreams to come true – because it will happen!

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Women’s fiction
Rating – PG
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Steenah Holmes on Facebook & Twitter

Emma’s Secret by Steena Holmes


For two years, Megan, Peter, and their two older daughters, Alexis and Hannah, dream of nothing but being reunited with the family’s youngest child, Emma, who was kidnapped just before her third birthday. When Emma is miraculously found living with an elderly couple just miles from the family’s home, they are hopeful that her return will heal the wounds her disappearance created.
But Emma is vastly different from the sunny toddler they remember. She barely remembers her parents or her older sisters. She is quiet and withdrawn, and, worst of all, longs for the very people who kidnapped her.
Megan is consumed with bitterness, while Peter works later and later nights in the company of his gorgeous business partner. And in the middle of everything, Megan’s best friend has become suddenly distant and secretive.
Then a chance encounter in town leads to a secret that changes everything again for Emma. And Peter must decide between the happiness of his youngest daughter and the trust of his family.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Women’s fiction
Rating – PG
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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Semmant by Vadim Babenko (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

I’m writing this in dark-blue ink, sitting by the wall where my shadow moves. It crawls like the hand on a numberless sundial, keeping track of time that only I can follow. My days are scheduled right down to the hour, to the very minute, and yet I’m not in a hurry. The shadow changes ever so slowly, gradually blurring and fading toward the fringes.

The treatments have just been completed, and Sara has left my room. That’s not her real name; she borrowed it from some porn star. All our nurses have such names by choice, taken from forgotten DVDs left behind in patients’ chambers. This is their favorite game; there’s also Esther, Laura, Veronica. None of them has had sex with me yet.

Sara is usually cheerful and giggly. Just today I told her a joke about a parrot, and she laughed so hard she almost cried. She has olive skin, full lips, and a pink tongue. And she has breast implants that she’s really proud of. They are large and hard – at least that’s how they seem. Her body probably promises more than it can give.

Nevertheless, I like Sara, though not as much as Veronica. Veronica was born in Rio; her narrow hips remind me of samba; her gaze pierces deep inside. She has knees that emanate immodesty. And she has long, thin, strong fingers… I imagine them to be very skillful. I like to fix my eyes on her with a squint, but her look is omniscient – it is impossible to confuse Veronica. I think she is overly cold toward me.

She doesn’t use perfume, and sometimes I can detect her natural scent. It is very faint, almost imperceptible, but it penetrates as deeply as her gaze. Then it seems all the objects in the room smell of her – and the sheets, and even my clothing. And I regret I’m no longer that young – I could spend hours in dreamy masturbation, scanning the air with my sensitive nostrils. But to do that now would be somewhat awkward.

Anyway, Esther arouses me even more than Veronica, perhaps because she is “bi,” as Sara once confided to me. Esther moves like a panther and looks like an expensive whore. Her nipples burn like hot coals, even through her starched white blouse. Her hair shimmers purple black, and her skin is tender like silk, though it looks more like velvet. The moment she comes close I seethe with the desire to touch her. I’ve done so a few times and even apparently got somewhere – she once slapped me in response. Surely it was a game, but I doubt we’ll go much further. Here’s why: now I like Laura from Santo Domingo best of all.

Yesterday, on her evening rounds, she was really hot. Yes, her legs are not so slender and her butt looks too large and heavy, but her whole body radiates passion, a natural lust too difficult to conceal. Cats scatter when they hear her walking, and gawkers turn their heads to stare. Even paralytics and defunct oldsters get horny when they feel her vibes – and I’m no paralytic or by any means too old. She leaned over me as if to arrange the sheet, flashed her huge brown eyes, licked her lips – and I knew I would have her now or very soon. I ran the palm of my hand up her thigh to the narrow moist strip of her thong. And I’m not even sure she was wearing a thong!

Then she teased me with her slim bare foot, gazing at my face with a come-hither look. Too bad she had to leave so quickly – but this is just the beginning, no doubt!

I whispered after her, “Where are you going?” when she reached the door.

“Wait,” I murmured. “Now I won’t be able to fall asleep.”

“Yes, you will,” Laura assured me. “I gave you a good sedative.” Then she added, “Think of me!” And these words held a lot of promise.

I did think about her, and then, in my dream I copulated wildly with a busty mulata. She smelled like Laura – the rainforest, the sea, the sweetest of sour smokes. Likely, from now on I’ll need this mix like a junkie.

It’s two days until Laura’s next shift. Two long days of eager anticipation. I now have another goal for myself.

Thinking about this, I face the window and view the distant mountains. The sun has moved down to the side. Turning my head, I see my shadow again; it’s the only thing marring the perfectly white wall. Soon the sun will shift farther to the south, and the wall will regain pure whiteness, announcing lunchtime.

Then the mountains will change as their colors fade, the contours sharpen and stand out against the sky. The peaks will loom jagged; indifferent and cold. A guard will bring me the newspapers, and I will leaf through them vacantly, scanning the pictures and trying not to get newsprint on my fingers.

Then I’ll do the usual set: some hatha poses, stretching my back and leg muscles; a tantra workout, keeping my balance with my eyes closed; and finally, bandha yama drills so my erection would be harder than a steel spring. I’ll think about Laura – already calling her “Lora” in the northern style. She’ll like that; it may bring us closer. Or, perhaps, we’ll even choose a new name for her.

The peaks will finally grow indistinct in the twilight. Everything will fall silent as dusk turns to night. I’ll draw the curtains, leaving only a crack so the fresh air from the mountains filters into the room. Then I’ll have dinner, drink a half bottle of wine, and begin to compose another letter to Semmant…

Listen! My confinement might last years and years, but I’ll give it to you straight: I am not afraid and have nothing to hide. Let them think I’ve lost my mind, but I know, if anyone has – it’s not me! I’ll tell them something else too: don’t count on it. I’ll say, “Semmant!” It will be like a shout, and yet the softest, the most quiet of words. Only the quietest words work for confessions – confessions of hatred, and even more so, of love.

The white walls surround me for a reason, but I will not crack up here, and he – he is my protector, my healer. Yes, at times I may lose control, and it would seem I’ve exhausted my strength, but I won’t succumb – as I can’t betray him, cannot leave him alone. Neither Esther nor Laura can help me in this – and not Sara, not Veronica. Their minds are somewhere else, I’m on my own, and I’m not that mighty. Take these notes – they reveal my weakness. But it’s still no excuse to abandon them.

I don’t look for excuses – even here, behind these walls, despite the treatments and the constant spying. Oh, I know, very attentive eyes are keeping watch over my writing. I feel them with my back, my skin, and even with my shadow on the wall. But I don’t care; I pay them no heed. I am not posturing or putting on an act. I could simply discard the paper – ball it up, chuck it aside. Even burn it – or I could keep quiet and just stare out at the mountains, which are impervious to any words. But I can’t do it; I have to write, even though it’s so unbearably difficult to get through. It’s so hard to be heard by others who are lost in broad daylight, who are blinded by their inability to see, who suffocate in their own waste. They are all arrogant and infinitely naïve. And me – I’m not so different. I, too, am blind and naïve, and arrogant in my own way. That’s why we speak the same language, saying almost the same thing.

So, day in and day out, watchful eyes see a familiar picture. The papers are scattered across my table; it’s night, darkness, dead silence. I write to him; then I get distracted and write to all of you. My fingers grow numb; at times I shiver with cold. Then the opposite: I’m drenched in sweat – and compose with delirious haste, or sometimes a mere word per hour.

It takes enormous effort, though the story is flawless, its plot coherent and logical. I drew it up myself, right up to the final scene; I started with nothing and ended up with more than I could possibly handle. It’s a great experience, no matter what; it would be foolish to keep it to myself. You may object and laugh behind my back, but I have an answer: I’ll say, “Semmant!” This may raise anger, provoke envy. But time will pass, and you’ll see that I’m right.

He will not become anybody’s hero – he’s not a hero at all. He is not a conqueror, though he knows no fear. You may be tempted to laugh at him as well – yes, his naivety surpasses mine, and yet oddly enough he is wise and discreet. No one’s mockery can change that.

It’s not easy to become his friend. And who would dream of competing with him, feeling overconfident for no reason? Who would dare to take his place? That would be reckless and dangerous. His armor shines with a genuine gleam and yet it cannot save him from any arrow. Yes, one should not expect too much from his shield. And then, I realize, it’s more important for everyone to know: what lies beneath that shield?

I could give a concise answer, but I’ll put it differently: shed your own layers one by one. Shed your clothing, your masks. Wash off the makeup. Take a long, hard look at what you see – can you make sense of it? Do this alone, since it’s embarrassing, indeed. The covers have been thrown on the floor, and the labels have even been cut out of them. All that remains is to look deeper inside, brushing away small details, with or without regret. The trick is to get down to what’s most vital, even if it’s concealed and hidden, locked away. One may grow tired and miserable along the way; and once there, may be left speechless. The unexpected may be found – some strange, unfamiliar things. Who will be able to name them properly? I guess no one, as is always the case. Everybody will be looking around: where is the hint, the subtlest of signs? And then again I’ll say, “Semmant.”

Listen – I admit my idea was different. I had a less ambitious plan. Everything was supposed to turn out simpler. Some may even blame me: I was following the footsteps of evil. And yes, I relied on the blindness of the crowd. I indulged others’ greed, but my intentions were pure; they were good. At least I was unselfish; perhaps that vindicates me somehow, though I seek no vindication whatsoever.

I don’t seek it because I feel no guilt; I’m even proud of myself, pleased. I might have done many things wrong, but now I know where I erred. I recognize the most horrible delusion, which could confound anybody.

Others can learn it too, if they have the patience to hear me out. Which is not likely. But I continue.

Because the only thing that matters is to keep moving forward.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Amazon UK
Genre – Literary Fiction
Rating – NC17
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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Orange Moon Affair by AFN Clarke (Excerpt)

Mojave Desert – October 2012

Flying a helicopter requires a clear mind, concentration, balance and a delicate touch. 

Flying a helicopter you are unfamiliar with, in the dark, with two nasty bullet wounds in a body that has not slept in thirty hours, is an exercise in surreal survival. I had ten hours flight time in this model MD 902 Explorer, so it wasn't total guesswork. 

I made sure Julie was strapped in tightly and flipped on the switches. There wouldn’t be enough time to sit and let the engines warm up completely. We needed to get airborne before the local police showed up. In the distance beyond the factory building, where the car exploded in the arroyo, a pall of smoke billowed into the moon lit night sky.

Once I got the machine off the ground, stabilised and then flying on the heading Danny had given me, I asked Julie to call him and write down the co-ordinates of the destination, then talked her through entering the figures into the GPS navigation system while I concentrated on the instruments. All I had to do was make sure I didn't hit anything flying at an altitude of fifty feet across the desert, following the route on the EFIS from Mojave to Desert Rock airstrip, wherever the hell that was in the vast expanse of the Nevada desert.

As we flew, the rising sun glimmered just below the horizon to our left. Dark sky turning light blue just before the sun appeared as an orange-white ball throwing shadows across the desert. The distant terrain rose in craggy rock mountains, rising ever higher to about five thousand feet, and I had to fly the aircraft through the narrow gorges maintaining the pretence of a special operations training flight at ultra-low level. 

“Can you see if there are any sunglasses in the side pocket,” I asked Julie, feeling my left arm begin to stiffen. 

“Here you go.” Her voice sounded strangely distorted in my headphones. Or perhaps it was just my mind beginning to shut down as my body leaked valuable blood onto the seat from the wound in my side.

“Thanks.” I tightened the lock on the collective and flexed my left arm, ignoring the pain, just trying to get some feeling back into it. Estimated flight time was just under an hour and a half, and I wasn't confident of being able to last that long.

“I'm sorry I got you into this,” I said stupidly, as if what I said would make any difference.

“I could have said no.”

“But you didn't.”

“Nope. Don't ask me why, but I didn't.”

“Did you get the bug into the computer before they ambushed us?”

“I did.”

“Well at least one of us accomplished something today. How's your head?”

“Hurts like hell. How's your...?” she paused looking across at me. “Everything?” She laughed. A desperate sound hurled against a bleak outlook.

We hurt more than either of us could describe.

We didn't know what the future held for us, but we laughed anyway as the sun rose across the desert, and I banked the helicopter into the first of the rising mountain ravines.

After an hour throwing the helicopter through the narrow canyons and rocky gorges, I could feel my strength and concentration ebbing slowly away. But that seemed inconsequential in the surreal experience that was the excuse for reality.

Julie massaged her temples, and when she spoke her speech was slow and slurred. I knew she was concussed and slipping into shock.

By 'red-lining' the helicopters engines I could force more speed, but as the sun came up the temperature would rise, and everything could go very wrong very quickly.

But there was no choice.

I inched up the collective, dropped the nose and advanced the throttle a touch, watching the gauges creep toward the danger zone.

Waves of nausea blurred my vision, so I used the only tool I had to sharpen my mind.


By wriggling in the seat I could press against the wound in my lower abdomen, not too much, but enough pain to sting my sagging consciousness into wakeful concentration. Now was not the time to sink into peaceful, blissful oblivion. I had a precious cargo to deliver, a woman I loved more than my own life.

At any other time, flying low level through the desert canyons as the sun rose above the horizon, would have been an extraordinary experience. One of those almost vivid adventures that stays in the memory forever. But I wanted this experience to be over as soon as possible.

Every part of my body and soul willed the airstrip into view.

Flying is a slow inevitability.

You know you're going to get there, and yet the more desperate you are to arrive, the more time drags.

Another rising ridge after fifteen minutes of undulating desert, and the sweat dripped down my face, arms and back, seeping into the wounds and causing more pain as my body salts stung raw flesh. I glanced quickly at Julie who sagged forward against the seat harness, semi-conscious, head flopping as the helicopter rose, fell, and banked through the ravines. I just wanted to take her in my arms, hold her and tell her everything was going to be fine, but now was not the time to drift into sentimentality, there was still the task of getting this machine on the ground.

The gauges swam in front of my eyes as I struggled to pick out the speed dial. That and the vertical speed indicator were my guides as we crested the ridge and Desert Rock airstrip lay in front of us just beyond a dry lake bed.

Was it a lakebed or a mirage?

I dropped the collective and pulled back slowly on the cyclic, slowing the aircraft down, establishing an approach to the runway. The speed bled off and I nosed down a little to keep the aircraft's forward speed at forty knots, but my eyes refused to focus properly, and darkness appeared at the corners of my vision as if I was looking through a telescope at an image that kept getting smaller. No matter what my mind was telling my body it wasn't responding, running out of blood and slowly shutting down.

But not before I got this machine on the ground.

Only a few more feet.

Maybe twenty-five, maybe thirty-five, maybe....

I didn't know anymore.

Then I saw the FIM-92 Stinger ground-to-air missile spearing up toward us from a far ridge.

My reactions were slow and for a fatal moment I watched the white smoky trail from the rocket motor arc its way through the sky. I pulled on the collective and kicked the anti-torque pedals to port, almost escaping the oncoming death, but the rocket slammed into the tail boom.

The earth spun in a lazy arc as the helicopter arched over backwards at fifty feet above the rocky desert as I lost control, spiralling to the ground, pieces flying in all directions, the only section remaining relatively intact being the forward cockpit, saved because the main rotor head deflected the impact.

There was no pain, just a smashing, grinding, splintering sound. I felt a violent lurch as my head slammed into the side door, then silence. Almost lying on top of me, held by her seat harness, Julie stared into my eyes, blood dripping from her nose and ears, trying to speak.

“Julie,” I gasped trying to reach up and touch her face, but my arm wouldn't move.

Car engine noises.


I was struggling with consciousness.

With reality.

Where was I? What had happened? I didn't know.

Images from the past flashed through my mind.

My father's dead face.

Julie naked on the catamaran.

Julie. My Julie.

Then nothing.
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Genre – Thriller 
Rating – PG13
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#Orangeberry Author Interview – Donna B. McNicol

Have you always enjoyed writing? My first memories of writing are using my little toy typewriter to create a neighborhood newspaper. I typed up each copy and sold them for ten cents. I was in 4th grade. So I guess you could say yes, I’ve always enjoyed writing.

What books did you love growing up? I read voraciously growing up, anything I could get my hands on. From children’s classics like “Wind in the Willows”, “Charlotte’s Web”, “Stuart Little” and “Mary Poppins” to everything in my parents bookcase including all the Readers’ Digest Condensed Version books, “Peyton Place” (when I was really too young to understand it), all of Edgar Allen Poe’s works and on to Ayn Rand in high school.

Who is your favorite author? I have too many to list but at the top of my list are:
Diana Gabaldon, who writes time travel romance adventure that even men love in her Outlander series.

James Patterson, I’ve read every Alex Cross book written and fell in love with Maximum Ride before she was featured in his YA series.

Toby W. Neal, who lets me visit Hawaii without ever going there in her wonderful Lei Crime series.
Lisa Jackson and Sandra Brown are there as well. Two new authors I love are Nick Russell and his “Big Lake” series and Linda S. Prather and her paranormal books.

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live? I grew up in a very small seacoast town in southern Massachusetts until 9th grade. Then we moved to an even smaller town in southern New Hampshire. After high school graduation I moved to Florida and have been on the move ever since. Since high school I have lived in eight Florida cities, three Georgia cities, two New York cities, two Iowa cities, two Colorado cities as well as Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

In 2007, after being widowed in 2004, I sold everything and hit the road in my Class C motorhome, pulling a trailer with my motorcycle. I became a full-time RVer, guess my gypsy roots were showing.
In 2008 I met a recently widowed man at an RV rally in Gillette, WY. who was also a full-timer and a motorcyclist. Fate was watching out for us, we married in April of 2009 and have RVed in most of the 48 states.

We live and travel in a 41′ fifth wheel trailer with a 10′ garage at the back end, a toy hauler. We pull it with a small Freightliner, and no, I don’t drive it. For the last year I have followed behind in our pickup which we bought so I would have something to drive when my husband had a double knee replacement a year ago.

We have five acres in rural north central Tennessee and have an RV site set up there. But the big news is that in December we are moving to Ecuador for five years. And yes, I will continue to write. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? I’ve spent a lot of years living in small towns as well as larger cities like Atlanta and Miami. I love to people watch. Most of my characters are compilations of the people that I’ve met and/or observed over the years.

I especially love small towns and the special relationship between the land and the people living on it. Quirky is good!

Do you plan to publish more books? Absolutely! I am currently working on book two in the Klondike Mystery Series, titled “Barely a Spark”. I have plans for another six in that series.
I also have a romance trilogy in the planning stages, “Chance, Hope, Celebrate”.
Last, I hope to have my first children’s bedtime rhyming book out before the end of the summer.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk? I always keep a notebook and pencil handy (I love soft lead in a good mechanical pencil) for notes. I write with my laptop…in my lap or on a table if not at home. I don’t do well at a desk, probably due to living in an RV and “making due” with furniture.

Do you find the time to read? It’s not the time so much, it’s the fact that when I’m writing I just CAN’T read. I lose interest. Maybe because when I read a book, I don’t want to stop until I’m done. I’m trying to get better at this bur right now not much reading is getting done.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? For me that’s an easy question – the editing, especially the proof editing. I do make a first run through, then pass it to my husband for the second. Back to me, then off to several others for input and editing. Sometimes they make good points and I make changes; they always find error, typos and missing words. My brain just seems to ignore them.

Sometimes it’s so hard to keep at it – What keeps you going? That’s easy – my readers. That’s the hook – you write, they read, they like, you write, they read. You get the picture. When no one likes what I’m writing, I’ll stop.

Otherwise, I’ve found that I work better under a deadline. That’s no different than I was with assignments in high school. I wrote 80% of “Not a Whisper” during Camp NaNoWriMo last August and I wrote all of “Home Again” during NaNoWriMo in November.

Do you find it hard to share your work? When I started writing my blog in January 2012, I was terrified the first couple of times I wrote some flash fiction for public consumption. When no one panned me and a few congratulated me, I continued. Flash fiction is great for immediate response and I really enjoy writing it. I spend so much time on my novels that I got away from the flash and am just now getting back to it.

Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it? “Not a Whisper” is the first in the Klondike Mystery Series. Set it a small fictional town in north central Pennsylvania. A group of mostly retirees form the Klondike Breakfast Club or KBs as they like to call themselves. When one of their members goes missing after a suspicious fire, they join forces to find him and prove him innocent of arson and murder.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG
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