Monday, April 30, 2012

Interview with author Cate Dean

1.) On your site you label yourself a paranormal suspense and an adult/young adult fantasy writer, so can you tell us about what you've written so far? What's your latest project?

I have two shorts released: When Walls Can Talk, which is a YA fantasy novella, and Last Chance Jack, which is a fantasy short story. My paranormal novel, Rest For The Wicked, will be released in April.

2.) You are an indie author, but do you have dreams of working with a traditional publisher or do you prefer to remain independent?

Right now, I’m going to stay independent. I tend to write shorter novels, which do not sell well in the traditional publishing arena. Plus, I’m a bit of a control freak, so being in control make me happy.

3.) Why are you a writer?

I have stories I want to tell, stories I have to get out of my head – and, of course, I’m a little crazy. It comes with the territory – staring at a blank screen for hours on end, writing about things that only exist in your head. I love every crazy minute of it. :-)

4.) Jelly or jam? Why?

Jam! It’s easier to spread, and has delicious bits of fruit. Jelly just comes out in a fruit colored lump. Ugh.

5.) What's your favorite brand of peanut butter?

Laura Scudder’s All Natural – the kind you have to stir. Love that stuff! I always left the last little bit in the jar and put it back in the fridge, so someone else would have to mix up the next jar. Sorry, Mom.

6.) Your blog also mentions you have had some experiences with the supernatural or at least which make you believe in the supernatural; care to tell us about some of those experiences?

Okay – you all know I’m a bit crazy already. I am really sensitive to emotions, and – other things. I posted this experience on my blog a while back, along with a photo. I was in the necropolis in Glasgow, Scotland, on a hill above the cathedral. On the way up that hill, I took a single picture, of an interesting headstone set into the hill. It was a cold, windless, overcast, May morning, and I was alone with the huge Victorian monuments to the dead. After wandering for a bit, I stopped near one of the monuments to look out at the view of the city. It was then I felt a chill, and a female voice whispered in my ear. A second later a murder of crows flew into the air from the bushes right behind me. To say I was spooked would be an understatement. I left rather quickly, and spent a good half hour in the cathedral, until I stopped shaking. When I returned home, and got my photos developed (this was pre-digital, at least for the average person), there was something in the photo of that headstone – something that wasn’t there when I took it. How’s that for an experience?

Okay – another one? This is less spooky, but just as unnerving. I was walking through the local cemetery in Virginia City, Nevada. (What can I say – I love cemeteries.) It sits on a stretch of land just outside the city, and is just how you picture an Old West cemetery would be: graves scattered here and there, with all types of markers, from plain wood crosses with the name and date carved in, to elaborate graves with fancy headstones and wrought iron fences. I didn’t stay long here – it felt like I was being watched, though I was alone, and the air felt oppressive. I stopped at one of the older graves on my way out, and I hadn’t been there more than a few seconds when ants just poured out of the side of the grave marker, like a wave of black, and spread across the top of the grave. Yep, I left in a hurry after that. And I still visit cemeteries whenever I run across them. Someday, I’ll go back to the necropolis in Glasgow, and see what happens.

Thanks for doing this Ty – and great questions! I had a blast answering them.

Thank you, Cate!
To find out more about author Cate Dean, visit her online at her ...
Website: Cate Dean
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Books read in 2012: No. 38 -- The Maltese Falcon

by Dashiell Hammett

Started: April 29
Finished: May 1

Notes: I'm not well read in Hammett, so I can't consider myself a huge fan, but I have been meaning to dip into his writing more. Besides, I have enjoyed the Humphrey Bogart movie based upon this novel, so I feel I will probably enjoy it.

Mini review: I had never been one to think of Bogart as a great actor, believing him to be a good actor but basically one dimensional in his talents. Now, after having read this novel, I have to admit Bogart did an excellent job of portraying the Sam Spade character, following through perfectly on the dialogue and mannerisms of the character as drawn up by Hammett. This was an excellent read, my favorite of the few things I've read of this author, and I'll looking forward to reading him again eventually.

Books read in 2012: No. 37 -- Voltaire's Adventures Before Candide

by Martin Gibb

Started: April 28
Finished: April 29

Notes: Having just read Candide, specifically to brush up for reading this story, I now turn to this story.

Mini review: While Candide was a work of satire, here is a work of the complete absurd, mean "absurd" as a fictional motif and not as the modern usage of criticism. It's an interesting little tale, written somewhat in the tone of Candide.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Interview with thriller author J.E. Taylor

1.) According to your site, you are mainly a thriller and horror writer. Who were some of the authors who drew you to these genres?

Dean Koontz, George R.R. Martin, Lawrence Sanders to name a few, but it really came down to Stephen King. His writing drew me in, chilled me beyond compare and still could drum up an emotional response, whether it be tears or laughter or just a shudder. He is the king of horror and I bow down in the shadow of his brilliance.

2.) During the last couple of years there has been a lot of discussion concerning the future of books and e-books. What are your opinions? Have a preference? Care to predict the future?

E-books will continue to gain popularity. The environmentalists will continue to make lots of noise about killing trees and the global warming effect this has and you will see traditional publishers buckling under the pressure and switching to primarily digital formatting and even print on demand publishing to save the trees. While physical books will never go away completely, they will become more of a relic than the norm. Same with bookstores, they’ll convert to more electronic delivery – almost like library coffee shops with very few physical stock and very little overhead, save for the wireless capabilities and the stellar coffee that will give Starbucks a run for their money.

You asked. That’s what I see.

3.) One of the exciting aspects of digital and indie publishing is discovering new writers. Who are some authors you have been glad to discover in this brave new world of publishing?

Oh my. I’ve met some fantastic writers, indie and traditional published alike. My publishing partner – Jason Halstead – has some intense books as do the authors that signed with Novel Concept Publishing. Beyond our little stamp of the world, I discovered John Locke, Amanda Hocking, Mel Comley, Cat Connor, Poppet, J.A. Konrath, Blake Crouch. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting some exceptional traditional writers through one of the writing organizations I’m involved with – those names are more mainstream – Jonathan Maberry, A.S. King, Allison Pang, Lisa McMann, Heather Brewer, Sara Gruen, Karen Dionne, Brett Battles, Robert Browne. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan, A.S. King and Karen Dionne as well as plenty of others that I know I’m missing here, but if I never took this writing journey, I highly doubt I would have picked up any of these writers books.

4.) You hear a sound outside your house at night. You go to investigate. Outside you find a flying saucer landing right outside your door. What do you?

I invite them in for a drink by the fire and drill them for information on the different worlds they’ve visited. I wouldn’t cook for them because, despite once having a small gig as a Pampered Chef, I’m a real disaster in the kitchen and wouldn’t want the aliens to think everyone’s cooking on Earth was that bad.

5.) M&Ms or Reese's Pieces? Or Sixlets?

M&M - especially the ones with the little pretzels in them.

6.) If one of your books was to be made into a movie, which would you prefer it to be? And why?

Hunting Season, hands down. It’s intense and it includes some serious supernatural elements, classic good versus evil and a heart wrenching scene near the end. I had the most fun writing this one and can see it doing exceptionally well on the big screen.

You can find out more about J.E. Taylor and her books at her website:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Books read in 2012: No. 36 -- Candide

by Voltaire

Started: April 26
Finished: April 28

Notes: I read this satirical novel by the great philosopher years ago during college, but I'm drawn to it again because I soon plan to read the story "Voltaire's Adventures Before Candide" by Martin Gibbs, an author I've recently discovered through my very own Interviews of writers. So, basically I'm doing a little brushing up before moving onto Martin's story.

Mini review: I had forgotten just how funny Voltaire could be, and the ending was more philosophical than I had remembered. After all Candide's adventures, the few ups and the many downs, he seems to finally come to the conclusion that the best place for man is to "cultivate our garden." I like that.

Books read in 2012: No. 35 -- In Love with Eleanor Rigby

by Stacey Cochran

Started: April 26
Finished: April 26

Notes: I've been aware of author Stacey Cochran for quite some time now, but I had yet to read any of his work. Thinking it was time I did so, I thought I'd start with this short. Obviously the title, a reference to The Beatles song, drew my attention right away.

Mini review: This little story is deserving of much pondering. At first glance it would seem to be a fairly simple boy-meets-girl story, but it is much more complex, heartfelt and thoughtful than such a facile notion. The main character strikes me as a bit like a late-20s version of Holden Caulfield, though that could be my own mind fooling me because of a mention of Salinger early in this tale. The title I find intriguing. Because of the connection to The Beatles song, I can't help but draw comparisons between McCartney's Rigby character and Cochran's two major characters presented here. It would seem natural to expect Tabitha, the female heroine, to represent a form of the Eleanor Rigby character in some fashion, but that doesn't quite feel right to me. If anyone, Joe, the male protagonist, strikes me as a character more befitting of the McCartney song. And then there's the fact "Eleanor Rigby" the song is one not only about loneliness, which this story touches upon, but is ultimately about death and potentially a loss of hope, which isn't necessarily the case with Cochran's story (though I don't want to give too much away). "In Love with Eleanor Rigby" is a complex tale, but not so complex it cannot be enjoyed by the average reader; much like the song, it is enjoyable lyrically while also containing hidden and not-so-hidden depths. An inclusion of a character with the author's last name can't but make one wonder about the personal history behind this story, to ask. One wants not necessarily to ask how much presented here was "real," but how much of it was "truth." I'm thinking quite a bit. Bravo to the writer. A piece of fiction hasn't given me this much to think about since ... hell, I don't know, maybe Tolstoy or John Gardner.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Interview with author Philip Bulman

1.) Your novel Replenish the Earth is a historical Christian tale set in the year 303. Do you consider yourself a Christian writer, a historical writer, or a mixture of both? Or simply a writer?

I am a writer who loves working across various genres. While Christianity is central to my identity as a person, it is not always central to my writing. In the non-fiction realm, I have written about topics ranging from homelessness to technology. While writers who focus on a single genre have enriched my life, I like the freedom that comes with exploring different approaches to the written word.

2.) Can you tell us about your next writing project?

I have published a few poems in obscure literary journals. Someday I would like to publish a whole collection of poetry. Unfortunately, I am 56 years old and still have not written enough good poems to justify publishing even a small collection yet.

3.) You have a past as a journalist. Considering this, in the future, do you see yourself focusing more on fiction or non-fiction writing?

I would like to write more fiction. The shorter forms are especially attractive, perhaps because they are so difficult and challenging. If I ever succeed in producing even a single good novella, I will be very happy.

4.) What are some of the major differences you've found in writing fiction as compared to non-fiction?

Fiction is often more challenging for me, perhaps because I have done less of it. In non-fiction, my first drafts always need more work, but I can edit them fairly quickly. My fiction writing goes through many, many revisions.

5.) What is your favorite book, and why?

Gee, do I have to choose just one? I change my mind about that regularly, but because you are putting me on the spot, I will say that the Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor are worth reading more than once.

6.) Coffee or tea? Or something else?

Any highly caffeinated drink will do if I expect to spend a few hours writing.

Books read in 2012: No. 34 -- Break Into Fiction

by Dianna Love and Mary Buckham

Started: April 23
Finished: April 25

Notes: The focus of this particular book about writing is upon character-driven genre fiction, so I thought I would take a look. I've read more than my share of books on writing, but I sometimes feel my characters need to be stronger, so maybe this book will give me a few pointers.

Mini review: A bit basic, but sometimes it's good to cover the basics again, and I did get a few ideas for future plots. Glad I read this one. It's really more of a workbook, so it would probably have been better to make use of it in print, but I could follow along easy enough in e-book form.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Interview about my literary novel, 'More Than Kin'

For those who only know me for my speculative writings, especially my fantasy novels, it might come as a surprise that I have penned more down-to-earth, even somewhat literary material. Here I am mainly referring to my novel More Than Kin, which is available in print and in e-book formats.

If you would like to know a little about More Than Kin, check out this new interview with me over at Limerence Magazine.

And thanks to Tiffany at Limerence for the interview!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Interview with Sheila Horgan, author of The Tea Series

1.) Sheila, you are the creator of The Tea Series. Can you explain to our readers a little about The Tea Series, its characters, the plots, the antics?

The Tea Series is a hybrid of a traditional novel and a serial novel. I find that people read very differently these days. The vast majority of my readers do not want everything from the past rehashed at the beginning of each novel. Sweet Tea begins right where Hot Tea ends. Iced Tea begins right where Sweet Tea ended. Each book is full-length.

The series is centered around two Irish American sisters. Cara and Teagan are part of a large family (which enables endless story possibilities) that has one foot firmly planted in Irish tradition and the other stepping out in a very American world.

The books are fun and funny. I've been asked why I write 'fluff'. Simple. I get emails all the time from readers. When a reader says -- "I laughed all the way through chemo..." or "Your book helped me through a terrible time..." or "Your books remind me so much of my mother, she died when I was a child, you brought all her love back to me." -- fluff is good.

2.) Many of your e-books are priced at 99 cents. Noting that, what are your thoughts concerning e-book prices? Do you find the lower price works best for the writer and reader?

When I first published Hot Tea, I had it priced higher. My sales were pretty sad. I lowered the price as an experiment. The first month that I had a sale every single day, I couldn't believe it. By the time I was selling several hundred books a day, I was doing the happy dance enough to make my neighbors worry. I've decided that 99 cents is appropriate for The Tea Series, as the books are all dependent on each other. For books that are more self-contained, I charge a bit more. Many of my readers have told me that I should charge more for The Tea Series but I have decided that the books will remain 99 cents each as long as that price point is available.

3.) What are some of your favorite books?

Early Janet Evanovich. The Giving Tree. The Prophet. Many of the long running series. I've just found Bob Mayer and am really surprised that I can't put his books down.

4.) Where do you find inspiration as a writer?

Life. It really is that simple.

5.) Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Hershey's milk chocolate. Copious amounts.

6.) You wake in the deep, dark woods where there is no cell phone service, not knowing how you got there. The weather is moderate, spring. You are wearing and have on you exactly what you do at the moment of reading this. What do you do?

First I thank God I got dressed this morning. Then I regret the whole 'no shoes in the house' thing I started when the kids were young. I'd take a little time to notice what is going on around me. All things inspire a writer and this particular pickle I've gotten myself into might make a great book. I'd be sure to pinch myself a couple of times to make sure I was really awake. Probably do a little hunting around. It would be very embarrassing to find that I sat on my rear and waited for help when there was a lovely resort twenty feet away. Remind myself not to venture too far. It would be equally embarrassing to find out that there was a search party looking for me within moments but I'd wandered off. I think I would then have a conversation with myself, not the first one, that pointed out that my sister watching all those reality TV shows was smarter than I thought.

Sheila Horgan's books can be found through all major online distributors:
For the Kindle
For the Nook
At Smashwords
And don't forget to check out her website.

Extra bonus

Sheila actually had a surprise question for me!

What is your least favorite word and how often do you use it?

My least favorite word begins with the letter "F" and I prefer not to publish it on my blog, though I might have once or twice and forgotten about it. How often do I use this word? Probably several times a day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Novelist Christopher Meeks brings journalism, film techniques to fiction writing

1.) Christopher, can you tell us a little about your road to becoming a fiction writer?

I’m not someone who knew “I want to be a writer” at age eight. I didn’t write diaries or pen notes to J.D. Salinger. I went to a lot of movies as a kid, and I started making Super 8s in high school, so I wanted to make movies, which I pursued in college.

I also wasn’t a fan of English classes or writing essays. When I had to write a college essay on my hobby — such a boring and stupid idea — I got pissed off, and I made my hobby kicking chunks of built-up snow off of car fenders (I’m from Minnesota). I explained the beauty of chunk kicking. I went into the various kicks and goals. My rage turned into humor. The professor read it aloud in his usual monotone, but the class roared. I thought I was getting an F but going down in flames. He gave me an A. That gave me my first taste for writing, and I took three creative writing classes after that and learned how to write screenplays, too.

After college, I moved to Los Angeles and was making a short film in 35mm when the fire department shut me down for not having a permit. I lost my life savings — a couple thousand dollars — and after that I thought I’d be a writer only. I didn’t need a permit for that.

2.) On your blog, a recent post titled "Success, AWP and a Growing Huge Problem" talks quite extensively about the division between the book and e-book worlds. In your opinion, what will the future hold for book publishers, writers, etc.?

Two months ago, I might have told you of the beautiful democratization of the publishing industry where authors didn’t need agents or publishers anymore; authors could do it themselves. While most self-publishers haven’t done a great job of it because they haven’t researched what is required for a good book, some new and independent authors such as Darcie Chan have made thousands of dollars a week. Then I went to the AWP Conference and wrote the post you mentioned.

At AWP, I realized that colleges still exclusively taught traditional publishing, and the awards went to those writers with books in print. That may change. Someone will eventually give big prize money to eBooks.

While I know eBooks will grow in popularity, it won’t mean the popular ones will be self-published or from small presses. When indie authors first made headway with eBooks, a number of the eBook bestsellers as listed by the New York Times and USA Today featured self-published books or those from small presses. I looked the other day, and every single book of the top twenty were from big publishers.

Big publishers know how to market, and when they have a great book, such as Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, a great agent and publisher leads it to the green pastures of success. To see that point of view, read How a Book is Born by Keith Gessen.

Still, I’ve imagined a way that indie publishers, small publishers, and big publishers all find a large chunk of the marketplace. I’m guessing, though, big publishers will learn what small ones are doing and then do it better.

3.) What are some of the differences you have found between journalism writing and writing fiction?

Journalism and writing fiction are more similar than some people imagine. Journalism taught me grounding the reader in “Who, what, where, when, why, how?” Those all are great elements for fiction. Set the scene. Create action. What people do reveals their character.

While I was studying fiction and playwriting in a graduate program at USC, I took a class in magazine writing at UCLA Extension, and I started getting freelance work right away. I published extensively while still in school. Getting used to deadlines has been extremely helpful in writing fiction because I can give myself deadlines that I meet.

Still, what’s great about fiction over journalism is you can get deeply inside a character’s head and show the world through a unique set of eyes. I’ve come to see that being a fiction writer is akin to being a philosopher. I never set out with any agenda, but now after five books, I’m discovering—and some critics are showing me—that I have certain perceptions on life.

4.) Who are some of your favorite writers?

The first time I read voraciously was my junior year in college, much of which I spent in Denmark. I ended up with a lot of time on my hands because I knew no one at first and everyone was speaking a strange language I’d never heard. I found the Roskilde library and the English language shelf and came to love Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Kurt Vonnegut then. I already loved J.D. Salinger, and to this day his Nine Stories remain perfect. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a touchstone for me, and I love all John Irving.

In the 90’s, after I started teaching creative writing at CalArts, I was asked to teach English at Santa Monica College. My main goal was not to intimidate my students the way I’d felt by most of my former English professors. I started using contemporary novels, split equally by male and female authors. Thus, I’ve come to find a lot of new authors. My favorites now include Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Janet Fitch, Sara Gruen, Alice Walker, Michael Ondaatje, and Michael Cunningham. In fact, I’ve made an Amazon Listmania list on the novels that my students have loved enthusiastically.

As for indie authors, I adore Waiting for Spring by R.J. Keller, Lord Vishnu’s Love Handles by Will Clarke (who’s a mainstream author now), Ransom Seaborn by Bill Deasy, and The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan (who just signed with Ballantine Books). There are many others I’m leaving out.

5.) Okay, I've seen a couple of pictures of you, some with facial hair and some without. Spill it. What's the story with the mustache?

First of all, I had my mustache since the 70’s. It was part of my self-image. Then I saw Tom Selleck’s picture last year, and he looked dated — stapled to the 70’s, which may be his age now, too. His mustache looks unnaturally dark. I didn’t want to be that guy. I shaved as fast as I could.

6.) You are eating at a restaurant when Steven Spielberg walks in. After a few moments he takes notice of you and walks over to your table. He obviously recognizes you. Then he informs you he recently read your latest work and says he enjoyed it immensely. There's no mention of a working collaboration, but he is obviously enthused by what he read. What is your response?

I’d say thanks, that it’s an honor to meet him, and that we have a friend in common, David Franzoni, who worked with Spielberg as a writer and producer on Amisad and Gladiator -- two of my favorite films. I’d offer Spielberg another of my books, and tell him he and Kate are welcome to a barbecue on my new patio.


I also say thanks to you, Ty. Your questions were great, and this has been fun. My novel Love At Absolute Zero happened to be the Romance of the Week on Kindle Nation Daily recently. Think of the book as an unusual contemporary romance where a young top physicist, who just earned tenure at the University of Wisconsin, is determined to find his soul mate in three days using the Scientific Method. Chaos ensues. That’s the book Spielberg hypothetically read. It’s perfect for a movie.

Books read in 2012: No. 33 -- Swords Against Tomorrow

edited by Robert Hoskins

Started: April 16
Finished: April 25

Notes: The next novel I write is probably going to be epic fantasy again despite the fact I had been taking a break from epic fantasy. But I wrote a magical realism novel (100 Years of Blood) and now I'm feeling the urge for epic fantasy again. To help get me in the mood, I turned to this little paperback I've had in my to-be-read pile for some time now. It features heroic fantasy tales by Lin Carter, John Jakes, Leigh Brackett, Poul Anderson and Fritz Leiber. This was one of the very first of a string of Sword & Sorcery and related anthologies from the 1970s, and I've long wanted to get into it despite the fact I've probably read some of these stories in other collections at one time or another. Here's to hoping this helps keep me in the epic fantasy mood!

Mini review: It took me longer to read this one than I had expected, but I wanted to take these stories slow and savor each of them, re-reading in some places. It would be difficult to pick out a favorite. I will say it's too bad John Jakes doesn't write more fantasy stories. Also, I would be surprised if Leigh Brackett's Roy Campbell character from the story "Citadel of Lost Ships" was not an influence upon the Han Solo character, especially considering Brackett was known as the "queen of space opera." For those who enjoy Sword and Sorcery, as well as Sword and Planet, fiction, this collection should be right up your alley.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fiction author Aliya Anjum also pens travel writings

1.) As a Pakistani writer, you naturally bring an approach that will be somewhat unfamiliar to some Kindle readers. Do you think your background allows your writing to bring something new, possibly exotic to some readers?

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to engage readers on your blog through this interview. As for your question, indeed, my worldview and the themes I cover are certainly different from your average American writer. I do try to offer my readers glimpses into other cultures and peoples, although I am not sure how successful I am at that. We are living in the most interesting times of human history, where the entire world is linked on real-time basis. Within the U.S. itself, diversity makes possible getting to know cultural flavors. However, cultural imports may differ a tad from home cultures. I discuss foreign settings juxtaposed with American settings. I hope that my reader is able to walk away with a greater appreciation of the common thread of humanity across cultures.

2.) Besides fiction, you have also penned a non-fiction e-book about travel. Where are some of the places you have visited?  Which one was your favorite?

I have visited the length and breadth of Pakistan, including the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Pakistan-India border and many towns and places with intriguing history and breath taking landscapes. I've visited Southern Pakistan where cotton was first cultivated 5,000 years ago and seen a 500-year-old necropolis (one of the largest in the world) there. I’ve visited cities in western Pakistan famous for their central importance in the ancient Indian, Buddhist and Hindu empires. I’ve also stood where Alexander the Great once stood. I’ve also visited a hillside Army mess in Kashmir, where the UN Observers were stationed.

Outside of Pakistan, I've been to Italy, Egypt, the United States, Bahrain, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and Greece. It’s hard to pick a favorite as every country has great things to offer. Italy however, has a special place in my heart.

See 15 Beautiful Pictures of Pakistan for photos of some of the places Aliya Anjum has traveled.

3.) What are some of your future goals as a writer?

To become a best-selling author and to be translated into many languages, one day ...

4.) Your short story "Mandy Marries a Muslim" deals with the potentially touchy subject of two people from very different religious and societal backgrounds coming together in matrimony. Is there any hint of truth to this story?  Not that the story itself is true, but have you experienced or known others who have experienced similar situations as presented in your story?

I would like to say that all fiction has a grain of truth to it. As for my story, love knows no boundaries, especially since at the end of the day, we are nothing more than just living, breathing human beings who all seek the same things in life no matter what the color of our skin, what language we speak and what religion we believe in. Surprisingly this simple fact is overlooked and people across the world harbor fears about the others.

5.) What are your favorite dishes to eat?

Boiled rice with lentil soup, Chicken Nihari, Pasta, Bihari Chicken.

6.) What kinds of music do you enjoy?

Anything with a catchy beat.

For more on the books of Aliya Anjum, visit her Amazon author's page and her Smashwords page.

Friday, April 13, 2012

True crime author R.J. Parker offers free books to those in uniform

RJ, so far your writing has exclusively been in the true crime field, much having to do with serial killers. What drew you to this type of writing, and will you continue to write about true crime, or are other topics, possibly even fiction, in your future?

I have been an avid reader for over 30 years and really enjoyed fictional stories that included serial murders. I also read all of John Douglas books, who is my FBI hero, and he coined much of the terminology used today when talking about serial killers. I don't have much of an imagination so I never attempted fiction, and I wanted to write after reading thousands of books, so I decided to write on what I know best, serial killers. I have been offered recently to co-write with a NY bestselling author about a fictional serial killer, so yes, it is very likely that you will see fiction in my future.

You mention on your website you started writing after becoming disabled. It seems I've heard of and known a number of writers who have had similar experiences, my own not being far from it through a heart condition. If you had not suffered from Anklyosing Spondylitis, do you think you would ever have taken up writing?

Absolutely. This arthritic disease simply sped up the process because once I learned how to deal with this cripling diability, I started to focus more on my abilities, rather than disabilities.

Some seem to label or think of serial killing and mass murder as mainly an American phenomenon. What is your take on this?

Yeah, I've heard that. According to the FBI, 85% of the world's serial killers are American. Yet, the U.S. accounts for only 2% of the world's population. That being said, the worst killers actually are from other countries, ie, Dr. Harold Shipman killed 250 plus people. How about Hitler as a mass murderer, and Stalin? At any given time in America, there are between 30-50 active serial killers. That is scary.

Also on your site, you offer your Kindle books for free to law enforcement, firefighters, Allied soldiers, correctional officers, EMTs, etc. What prompted you to do this? And do you have a background in any of these fields?

I am actually a retired Navy SEAL and former FBI Agent. Okay, not really, but I would have loved to be. I don't have a background in law enforcement, but many of my family members are or have been soldiers, police officers and firefighters. I am a very patriotic person. I'm Canadian, but I'm still a part of North America so I am patriotic to both our countries. Before I published, I promised myself that no soldier or men and women in uniform who do so much in protecting and serving their countries, will ever have to pay for my books. Since Jan. 1 this year, I have gifted over 600 free books and have gotten hundreds of beautiful e-mails telling me that is so kind of me. I always write back and thank them personally for their service. I've met a lot of beautiful people this way. I've been Blessed by God with very good sales so that I can afford to gift these books. By the way, I have to pay full price for every book I gift.

Do you consider yourself well read in true crime literature? If so, who are some of your favorite writers?

First and foremost, John Douglas is my favorite. Since I was a young boy, I always wanted to be an FBI Agent from watching the show at the time, The FBI starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (who is 93 years young). I found out in my early teens that I couldn't be with the FBI because I was Canadian ... what a disappointment, I still remember it. Getting back to John Douglas, I really enjoyed his books: Mind Hunters, Inside the Mind of BTK, Obsession, and The Cases that Haunt Us. He has other books, but those were my favorite and inspiration to write. Other great authors are: Gary King, Brian King, Ann Rule and Jack Olsen, just to name a few.

What criminal of any type have you personally found to be the most interesting, the most worth studying?

Oh boy, there are so many. I think the most interesting was Ted Bundy.He was one smooth operator and could sell ice to an eskimo. He was devious and a downright psychopath. Yet, he was very intelligent.

In closing, I also want to mention that I give a percentage of my royalties to Victims of Violent Crimes. It's not about how much we can get, but how much we give.

Thanks, RJ!

For more about true crime author RJ Parker, check out his ...
Website: RJ Parker
Amazon page
Facebook page
Twitter feed

Books read in 2012: No. 32 -- Spaceling

by Doris Piserchia

Started: April 10
Finished: April 16

Notes: I've read this novel twice before, once as a kid and once as a teen, and I loved in both times. But that has been more than 25 years since my last reading, so I thought I'd try it again as an adult and see if I still get the same feelings. It's a bit difficult to describe this novel, but it's basically about the adventures of a teen who can jump through glowing rings in the air and land in other dimensions. The plot is more complex than that, but those are the bare basics. I'm hoping to still love this one.

Mini review: Still a pretty good read after all these years. I came to the novel with not only an older man's eyes, but also with a writer's eyes, and this did lead me to pick up on some not-so-glowing factors I had not noticed during my earlier reads. For instance, I felt there were far too many characters, a number of who really didn't add anything to the plot. Also, I felt some of the events seemed a little too lucky or unlucky, though some of this could be given over to some of the more vague shades concerning the plot, which is really about dimensional travel. Still, I enjoyed it, and perhaps will read this one again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dark fiction author John Grover entertains with monsters, supernatural

1.) John, you are mainly a horror writer, so can you tell me a little about how you approach the genre as a writer?

I mostly write quiet horror, subtle things. I examine the nature of evil in mankind. A lot of my stories have a questioning theme that leaves the reader to question his or her understanding of the world around us. Is man the real monster in horror stories or is there an external force that seduces him to do evil? I write stories that feel a lot like the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Darkside. I love writing about monsters, the supernatural and I tend to explore themes of life after death in my stories. More than likely I tell stories that help myself and others deal with our mortality and what comes after we leave this world. I’ve been told that many of my stories have an ironic twist to them. I like to think I write entertaining stories ... ones I’d love to read myself.

2.) You have also written some fantasy. How was the process of writing fantasy different from that of writing horror?

I actually find writing fantasy to be much harder. In horror I have an established world, ours. So I find it easy to take the every day or the normal and turn it upside down. In horror the people are everyday people. In fantasy I have to invent an entirely new world. One that is not ours, one that is populated with beings that don’t exist, or at least we think they don’t. To me, this is much harder to suspend the reader’s disbelief. This world has its own laws, physics, people, gods, geography, food, languages, you could go on and on. I find that creating this world takes a lot of discipline and detail. When I’m done I'm still never sure if I’ve pulled it off.

3.) Who are some authors you feel have had a major influence upon you?

Some of my favorites are Clive Barker, Jack Ketchum, HP Lovecraft, Poe, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Bram Stoker.

4.) Where are the darker genres headed?

As in other decades, I think dark fiction takes on a lot of the issues going on in society. I think we’ll continue to see stories that deal with life after death but also tales about government control, invasion by outside forces, losing our identity, waking up to find that things changed right under our noses and now we no longer feel safe, invasion of mind and body. I think common monsters like zombies and vampires will fade somewhat to be replaced by new beasties. I’d love to see the werewolf make a big come back and bigfoot stories seem to be on the rise.

5.) Beer, wine, or the hard stuff? Or something else?

I tend to like mixed drinks. My favorite ... The Mojito! Is It Cinqo De Mayo yet?

6.) You are walking down the street when suddenly a screaming girl covered in blood comes running past you. You look back and there's a great big guy with a butcher knife (also covered in blood) and he is running after the girl. You are now between him and the girl. What do you do?

Get killed. I’m a weakling ... that psycho would rip me apart, throw my limp body aside and continue after the girl. But seriously ... I’d either slow the guy down with a trash can, a rock, tripping him or I’d run with the girl, grab onto her and guide her to the nearest public place and of course scream like hell!

For more about author John Grover, check out:
Shadow Tales: the official site of John Grover
Aftermath ... the online series
The John Grover Amazon page
... and the following video!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New magical realism novel

My latest e-book novel (I might take it to print eventually) has been a stretch for me as a writer. It is magic realism, which is a difficult genre to explain. Magic realism is generally accepted as a sub-genre of fantasy literature, but that's a bit of a stretch. At its most basic, magic realism stories are ones in which the characters and the world take speculative and fantastical elements for granted, such elements being common in the stories but not necessarily essential to the plot. Even that definition doesn't sound right, but it's the closest I can come to at the moment.

Then there's the fact my novel, 100 Years of Blood, doesn't necessarily fit into the definition I just gave. Are there fantastic and/or speculative elements in my novel? Yes. No. Maybe. The truth? I'm not telling. No, I'm not trying to get people to read my book to find out, but the very purpose of this novel is for the possible speculative elements to be something of a mystery. Are they really there? Obviously there are some odd things going on here and there within my story, but I don't explain them. On purpose.

100 Years of Blood might not find a readership. It is not a straight-forward novel with a hero and heroine and villain, nor is it meant to be plotted by pinpoint ... event A happens, event B happens, event C, etc. It is also not a novel of answers, but a novel of questions. I do not explain certain elements to readers, which might be this books downfall.

I want the readers to think for themselves, to come to their own conclusions. Do I have an idea of what's really going on in 100 Years of Blood? Sure I do, but I'm not telling. That would defeat the purpose of writing the novel in the first place.

What this novel does (or I hope it does) is to present certain characters in a situation that might seem relatively straight forward at first. The reader will likely quite easily pick up on certain things that will lead them in a particular direction. But is that direction the right one? Or is there truly any direction at all? Are these characters who and what we think they are? And do the events of this novel mean what we think they mean, if anything?

My goal with this novel was not necessarily to be obtuse for the sake of it, but to challenge the reader. I read a lot, and many novels (especially modern ones) wrap everything up with a nice bow at the end, where we get all the answers to everything and every character gets what's coming to them. This is not the case in 100 Years of Blood. It might seem that my novel rambles, but it does not, and it might seem somewhat wordy, which it probably is, but on the plus side it's only about 65,000 words, so it shouldn't take long to read it.

Now that I've ran my mouth off enough about 100 Years of Blood, here is the actual blurb:

During the early years of the 20th Century, a servant of an English lord arrives in an isolated county among the hills of Appalachia and begins work on a house large enough and fine enough for retiring nobility. For retirement seems to be the goal of Richard Abingdon. Retirement from the nobility, retirement from the world, retirement from life. With the building of this house comes a new community not far away, and Lord Abingdon soon finds he can isolate himself physically, but the world goes on around him and will even intrude upon him.

100 Years of Blood is the tale of the rise and fall of the House of Abingdon during a century. This is a novel of questions, not answers, focusing upon the individuals who come and go within the house, the servants, and the seemingly never-aging residents. Is there true mystery here? Or is what is presented all there is to see? The answers lie within the reader, for each must decide for oneself.

Where can one find this e-book novel? The usual places:
Barnes & Noble (coming soon ... like within the next 24 hours)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Interview with romance author Aris Whittier

1.) Aris, on your blog you call yourself a romance writer. Can you tell our audience some about your writing and your books?

I write several different categories of romance — suspense, cozy mystery, and contemporary. Fatal Embrace, my debut novel, is a romantic suspense that was featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine as a Red-Hot Read. Secrets, my latest release, is also a romantic suspense with a little supernatural twist. Across Eternity is a beautiful love story that tells of love that transcends time. I wrote Across Eternity because it came to me in the most vivid dream. It’s a very special story that I’ll never forget. Most of my fan mail is from this story.

2.) Many indie authors tout the benefits of selling through Amazon, but I noticed your review numbers for your Barnes & Noble Nook books are through the roof. What are your secrets to success over at B&N?

Unfortunately there’s no secret. I’ve found that some books do really well on different sites and there’s no rhyme or reason. I’ve sold just as many books, if not more, on Amazon but the readers just aren’t posting reviews.

3.) The first time I visited your blog, the very first post I saw was about food, specifically about tarts. You won me over right there. Then I noticed your blog is not solely about writing, but is quite the eclectic menagerie. Do you find blogging helps you as a fiction writer? Possibly as an inspiration or simply as writing exercises? Or is blogging mostly a matter of fun and whatever is on your mind at any given time? Or something else?

Those tarts are mouthwatering, aren’t they! I don’t blog solely about my writing simply because I feel my readers don’t want to hear about writing all the time. And I’d run out of stuff to blog about! I find that most readers want to know a little about me — my likes, dislikes, and what I’m doing. Therefore I blog about whatever I enjoy and as you can see that can be almost anything. I find blogging fun and a great way to share and connect with readers.

4.) I see you are also a Pinterest member. Do you find that site useful as a writer?

I joined Pinterest less than a week ago so I’m totally new and just learning. I love the concept and I’m always surfing different boards. As a writer I don’t think I have it dialed in yet, but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it …LOL.

5.) Speaking of food, dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate?

Milk chocolate dipped in peanut butter or on strawberries!

6.) Who are some of your favorite musicians?

I am totally wearing out me Adele CD right now — I can’t get enough of her. The last CD’s I bought were Bruno Mars, Luke Bryan’s, and Tony Bennett Duets II. I think my choice of music is an eclectic menagerie, too ;o). My true weakness is Christmas music by anyone who was in the Rat Pack. In my car right now is Christmas by Michael BublĂ©. It’s been so stormy the last few days it just put me in the mood. My kids nearly threw a fit when they got in the car and heard it …

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Books read in 2012: No. 31 -- Write Good or Die

edited by Scott Nicholson

Started: April 8
Finished: April 16

Notes: This little e-book is slightly more than a year old, so I have slight concerns the information provided will be out of date. But on the plus side I'm familiar with many of the authors who have articles in this e-book, and I'm looking forward to their various tales of success, tips for writing and business, etc.

Mini review: As predicted, some of the material here was out of date, but some of it is still quite pertinent to writers today. This would be another good read for those starting out as an indie author.

Books read in 2012: No. 30 -- Harvest of War

by Charles Allen Gramlich

Started: April 8
Finished: April 8

Notes: Charles Gramlich writes in numerous different genres of fiction, but epic fantasy is not one I normally associate with him. So, that being said, when I found out Charles had a story available in the genre, I had to snag it up.

Mini review: Now this is what epic fantasy should be all about. Plenty of action but also plenty of thought. And who says a story about orcs can't be touching? To all my epic fantasy pals reading this, you need to check out this e-book by Charles.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Books read in 2012: No. 29 -- The Voice (Tales of the Endlands)

by Scott Fitzgerald Gray

Started: April 7
Finished: April 8

Notes: This short story by Gray, a fellow member of the Monumental Works Group, is now available by itself but will soon be part of a collection titled Shadow to Shadow: Dark Tales of The Endlands. His writing is good enough to have made me jealous on a few occasions, so here I go again, expecting to be jealous. Again.

Mini review: I have to say, there was quite the beautiful, almost lyrical language here in numerous spots. At first this struck me as a little unusual (though not in a bad way) for what seems to be part of an epic fantasy tale and/or world, but it fit the story perfectly, giving a depth I find often lacking in such literature. Again, Scott Fitzgerald Gray has surprised and impressed me. I will be quite shocked if in 10 years his name is not mentioned alongside those of Martin, Erikson and the like.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Interview with author Kathleen Valentine

1.) For those who don't know you, Kathleen, can you tell us a little about yourself as a writer and your books?

I was born and grew up in the Allegheny highlands of Pennsylvania among people who were storytellers. All my life I listened to my parents, aunts and uncles, and their friends tell stories about things that had happened, about the “Old Country”, about their lives. As a child I loved those stories. My first novel, The Old Mermaid's Tale, is a love story about a young woman who collects sea lore stories and the singer/songwriter she falls in love with. To me stories are what keep the past alive and perpetuate culture and traditions.

2.) What do you look for in a good book?

As Sol Stein says, “I want to fall in love.” I look for something that fascinates my imagination – a wonderful character, an intriguing setting, a compelling plot. I don't have as much time to read as I would like to have so I want to be engaged and sucked into the story. If characters are superficial or clichĂ©, I lose interest quickly.

3.) As an indie author, do you aspire to work with a traditional publisher, or are you happy as an independent?

I love being independent. I started my own press, Parlez-Moi Press in 2003. It was slow going in the beginning but since the digital revolution things have really taken off and I'm thrilled.

4.) When reading, do you prefer print books or e-books? Or does it matter?

It depends. I do love the feel of a beautifully bound, deckle-edge hard-over, but I also like the convenience of my Kindle. It doesn't really matter to me once I get sucked into the story.

5.) A genie makes you an offer. Either your next novel will be a huge, runaway success that will bring you millions of fans and dollars, or your next novel will go relatively unnoticed on the larger scene but will draw tons of praise from critics and literary circles (universities, professors, etc.). Which do you pick?

LOL! That's not fair! Of course I long to write a book that will be recognized for its literary merit but, above all, I'm a storyteller and I want people to read and love my stories, so I guess I'd have to go with the former. Not so much because of the fame and fortune, although that would be nice, but because I want people to read my stories.

6.) What's your favorite brand of peanut butter?

Teddy's - the All Natural kind without salt because the nuts are crunchier that way.

7.) What's your favorite word?

I've always had a fondness for "troubador."

8.) If you could have any other name than the one you currently have, what would it be?

Actually, I love my name but I wish people would remember the “Kathleen” part and quit calling me “Karen.” That has gotten very old.

9.) Is it true you are hiding under government protection? If so, why? Spill it!

Shhh, it all began on a hot summer night in Galveston when there was a hurricane forming out in the Gulf and we'd been drinking Jose Cuervo all afternoon and then this guy showed up with a van full of hula dancers and, well, I'm sure you can imagine how all that turned out.

You can find out more about my books at my web site: and at my blog: Or by visiting my press:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Interview with author Caddy Rowland

1.) Caddy, the third novel in your Gastien Beachamp series is scheduled to come out this spring. Can you tell us a little about the series, the characters, the plots, etc.?

Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream is about Gastien’s coming of age and his struggle living on the streets of Paris. He is trying to find a way to become an artist with his own studio (peasants did not own property then) and learn how to be a great lover. He is poor and from the country, with no formal art training. He was physically abused by his father and has emotionally shut off. The tagline for this book is “Sometimes the 'impossible' is possible. But the cost can be extremely high.”

Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny picks up right where Part 1 stops. Gastien is now in a studio and living his dream: painting, sex, and partying. This takes place during the bohemian artist era of Paris, where vices of all kinds were legal and anything was acceptable. Then Sophie appears and they fall in love. It asks the age old question: Can a man driven by his calling truly find time to love? And, if he does, what are the repercussions?

This series is dramatic historical fiction and family saga. The first two books are dark, emotional character studies for adults. However, there is also humor. The third book moves into another generation of the family. It, too, will be emotional and a study of the various desires of the main character and how those desires affect his life and the people around him.

People who have read the first two say they can’t remember a book that made them feel so many emotions and that they cannot get Gastien out of their head for weeks.

2.) Your novels are steeped in the history of mid-19th Century France. What books and other material have you studied to bring a sense of realism to your historical writings?

I did a ton of online and book research. Three of the books that helped me the most were: Bohemian Paris (Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930) by Jerrold Seigel, Montmartre by Philippe Jullian, and (A Mecca of Modern Art 1860-1920) Paris Montmartre by Sylvie Buisson and Christian Parisot.

3.) Who are some of Gastien's historical and literary ancestors, if there any? Scaramouche? Casanova?

I don’t know that any stand out as much as Gastien himself. He was definitely one of a kind. He was way ahead of others in regard to his painting and a true nonconformist. Gastien did what he needed to do to realize his dream and, later, to keep living it -- regardless of how others judged him.

4.) Would you want to meet Gastien? Why or why not?

I would LOVE to meet Gastien! I am also an artist and would love to learn some technique from him. Also, he is extremely good looking. It never hurts to view a little eye candy.

5.) What are some of your future plans for your writing?

Continuing The Gastien Series (there will be 4 or 5 in the series) and then writing some other fiction that is bouncing around in my head.

6.) You are on a ship sinking just off a deserted island. You have clothes and some food, but only enough time to grab one more box before the ship goes under and leaves you stranded. So, which do you grab, the box of chocolates, the box of wine, or the box of books?

The books. Wine would be nice, but would soon be gone; as would the chocolates, but the books can help me escape to another world until I am rescued. Plus, with any luck, one might give me hints on how to survive until then.

For more about Caddy Rowland:
Blog: Caddy Rowland, Writer of Fiction, Painter of Life and Energy
Gastien Fanpage on Facebook
Twitter feed

Buy links:
Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream
Available in Paperback at CreateSpace
Available on for Kindle
Available on Barnes & for NOOK

Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny
Available in Paperback at CreateSpace
Available on for Kindle
Available on Barnes & for NOOK

Books read in 2012: No. 28 - Curious Myths of the Middle Ages

by Sabine Baring-Gould

Started: April 2
Finished: April 7

Notes: This freebie e-book was originally published in 1867. Though it's obviously outdated, I still like to look back on what earlier eras thought of even earlier eras. Glancing over the table of contents, I'm at least vaguely familiar with most of the topics to be covered here, but there were a few things new to me.

Mini review: As predicted, not a lot new here for me, but it was an easy enough read and I picked up a few ideas for stories. Not the most exciting of reading, but I've read worse. Also not overly informative, but does cover the basics of a dozen or so myths with many references to older (sometimes much older) sources of information, which was appreciated.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Horror, fantasy author J.R. Leckman interviewed

1.) What draws you to writing mainly fantasy and horror literature?

I have this philosophy about video games. I refuse to play sports games, because I can play those games in real life. Instead, I prefer to play games where you're the mighty wizard, throwing fire and lightning at monsters in the woods, because whenever I attempt to do that in real life, I get kicked out of Walmart ... again.

The same thing goes for books. I can create those experiences, not only for myself, but others. Fantasy is my "for fun" genre of choice, where horror seems to be something I am just better at. I have had a couple of (very generous) people refer to some of my horror stories as similar to Dean Koontz, who was one of my favorites growing up. There is something about exploring both the dark and beautiful places of my own mind, and then sharing that with others that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Likely, I will stray into some other genres (such as sci-fi, which is NOT the same as fantasy), and if I can ever find the necessary foresight, I would love to write something similar to Picoult.

On the subject of horror, I also want to be part of the change it needs. While few will dispute that King is the master, I think he is one of the few true teller of tales left. I love watching scary movies. I love reading scary stories. I often feel that the eighties and nineties were the golden age of horror, and we've lost touch with what truly scares us. There is a difference between what scares us and what grosses us out. Thrillers are great, but they aren't necessarily horror. When I ask people about what scares them, they seldom answer in terms of that feeling of helplessness, but rather discuss that scene from that one movie that had a lot of blood in it. Really good ghost stories are hard to find these days, but I do think they are making a comeback.

2.) Your blog mentions you want to be a high school science teacher. If one of your books suddenly made you somewhat wealthy, would you still want to teach? Or focus upon your writing?

I currently am a high school teacher! If I got wealthy from one of my books, it would depend on which one. If it was  one of my darker tales (I have a couple), then I would probably quit out of necessity. People don't want Chuck Palahniuk teaching their kids science.

If I could continue to work, I would most likely try and teach a couple of classes. That's actually what I am doing now, is working part time until the end of the semester. It gives me time to write and to interact with other people. Now, if I were to become J.K. Rowling type wealthy, it would probably be in my best interest to quit. That kind of wealth comes with fame that would make teaching a problem, in my opinion.

3.) Who are some of your favorite authors?

King and early Koontz were among my favorites, horror wise. Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, and Zelazny were also my favorites. Truthfully, I keep up with them all from time to time, but I'm trying to explore new options, particularly in horror.

4.) It's night when you hear a noise outside your house. You look out the front door and see a giant of a man standing there wearing a hockey mask and carrying a blood-drenched machete in one hand. He is staring right back at you. What do you do?

Tell him there are no teenagers here and quietly close the door. Truthfully, I would take one of two approaches. I am a big guy myself. If I believed I could close the gap, I would go for it. I've spent the last couple of years learning Hou Quan (monkey boxing). Those hockey masks have nice big holes for me to sink my fingers through. As long as I could dodge that machete, it wouldn't be hard to swing around, collapse the leg, and try to blind him.

If I couldn't close the gap, I would make a hasty run to the kitchen for a pair of skillets. That way I would have something that could deflect a machete, hopefully long enough to brain him. Now, all of this is fine, unless I'm dealing with a vengeful spirit. At that point, hit him with salt. If that doesn't work, run to the car, burn rubber to the nearest 24-hour Walmart, and hang out where plenty of people can see you. Preferably back in sporting goods. That way, if the power is cut, I'm by the guns and propane tank.

5.) Do you believe in ghosts?

I would like to. I've captured EVP before, but until I have a more definitive experience, I can only make assumptions. Personally, it would fall in with my own personal beliefs, but who knows what that bump in the night really is? I've actually done a LOT of research into the paranormal, even so far as trying to join a local group (who could only meet on kung fu nights, so I didn't go). If I ever did encounter one, I would try and avoid a negative reaction (such as screaming and freaking out). It seems like that disrupts the experience, causing the ghost to disappear.

Ghosts really are interesting. The idea that the spirit of the deceased can still be hanging around is an idea that stretches across the globe and centuries of experience. It is very rare to see such ideas spread across many cultures, and that usually tells me that there must be some truth to the tales.

6.) Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi, but I'm fairly indifferent overall. I prefer Mt. Dew and Dr. Pepper to either. Truthfully, I have had a hankering recently for Crystal Pepsi, but I don't think it's gonna happen.

Find out more about J.R. Leckman online at his blog and:

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Books read in 2012: No. 27 -- About a Boy

by Nick Hornby

Started: March 31
Finished: April 3

Notes: I've read one other novel by this author, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Also, I've seen a couple of movies based upon his writing and have enjoyed them as well. So I thought it time to dig in and read another book by this man.

Mini review: I'm glad I read this as an older man and not 20 years ago. Much of the plot revolves around the suicide of Kurt Cobain, believe it or not, which is rather unusual because this isn't even hinted at in the movie. I'm not sure as a twenty-something in the early-to-mid 1990s that I could have come to this novel properly because of my inexperience as a youth. A big part of this novel, especially the end, is about growing up, but it's also about changing, even as an adult. I don't think I would have understand any of that 20 years ago, or even 15 years ago. That and the then pain of Cobain's suicide would have been a bit too much for the younger me. As far as my opinion of this novel, it was a good but not great read, but I'm glad I read it.