Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest blog post by Heidi Jon Schmidt author of The Harbormaster's Daughter

Today's Guest blog post is from author Heidi Jon Schmidt featuring her new release novel The Harbormaster's Daughter

Here are what people are saying about her new release

Publishers Weekly
Schmidt (The House on Oyster Creek) returns to Cape Cod to examine the turbulent times of Franco, the bitter 47-year-old assistant harbormaster who is part of the insular Portuguese community that exists in constant tension with the wealthy summer tourists. A brief affair with a tourist named Sabine results in an unexpected pregnancy and trouble for Franco. But things get worse when, four years later, Sabine is murdered, making Franco, a married man, the primary suspect. Their three-year-old daughter, Vita, who knows nothing of her real father, goes to live with Sabine’s friend in a small town, where she grows up and is sheltered from the news of her mother’s real killer being found. But when the killer commits suicide in jail, she’s forced to confront both her past and her present, finding support with a local gang of misfits in a local theater company. Schmidt paints a colorful picture of the Massachusetts Cape and its people. She understands the struggles of adolescence and compounds them skillfully with the stifling nature of smalltown life. However, the central relationship—between Vita and Franco—isn’t given much attention, resulting in a story that feels at times without a center. Agent: Jennifer Carlson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Aug.)

Schmidt delivers a thoughtful, realistically complicated
exploration of love, marriage, friendship, and community
in The House on Oyster Creek while perfectly capturing the
spare beauty of Cape Cod in her subtly nuanced, beautifully
crafted prose."
--Chicago Tribune, Printers Row

"...Schmidt conveys the unassailable bond of tradition in a
tightly knit community along with the ins and outs of oyster
culture. Her writing is nuanced and oh so clever as it relays
her characters' persistence in the face of life's obstacles.
Superior literary fiction."
--Library Journal

Enjoy the Blog Post

I  was reading Heidi's bio and one of her thoughts about writing interested me so I asked her this question:
 what does it mean to you as an author to set your stories in a place you know so intimately and what leads you to your stories 

And so from that question came her blog post

Diary of a Nosy Neighbor
We had a wave of arsons in our little town a few years ago.  The first fires were small, one in a dumpster and one in the dry grass beside the highway.  Then someone's shed burned down, then a garage and then, on Halloween night, one of the oldest houses in town. My daughter was 10--she went as a flower fairy that year, in a costume I'd put together out of some green tulle over a thrift shop dress, with a cap that looked like a stem growing out of her head.  The excitement of Halloween is so much about being out after dark, knocking on stranger's doors, Jack-o-lanterns flickering ghoulishly....and all while you're  holding your mom's hand.  When the sirens sounded that cozy scariness was interrupted by cold fear.  Mothers picked up little dancers and goblins while the men in the neighborhood jumped into their trucks to head for the fire station. This town was built in the eighteenth century: wood frame houses crowded along streets just wide enough for horse carriages. Strike a match and you can wipe out a block before the fire trucks are out of the garage. 

That night the arsonist didn't have to use a match: the house he targeted was under renovation, and he climbed in a first floor window, found a blowtorch, lit it and walked away, probably along the beach, where, in the dark of an October evening he was unlikely to be seen. The fire was knocked down before it could spread.  Ten days later, another house went up in flames--while the firemen worked to squelch it a grand piano fell through the weakened ceiling and very nearly killed a man.  

Who was doing this?  Why?  We speculated endlessly, on the steps of the Post Office, in line at the coffee shop.  Suspicion fell on a former firefighter, a troubled teenager, then on a homeless man who'd been found sleeping in the firehouse.  But they all seemed to have alibis (Never mind the police, four women at the grocery checkout could figure this out based on where they bumped into who the day before.)   

The State Fire Marshall, called in to help with the investigation, held a meeting for townspeople, partly to reassure us, partly to ask for our help.  Arson is the most difficult crime to solve, and in a tourist town like ours, where half the houses are unoccupied in the off season, it's all too easy for a criminal to make his way from yard to yard without being noticed. 

"What we need," the Marshall told us, "is a nosy neighbor." Representatives from his office, in plain clothes, had gone through one neighborhood after another without so much as a single woman sticking her head out an upper window to interrogate them.  What was wrong with us, he wanted to know, minding our own business this way?  We needed to become a lot nosier, as fast as we possibly could.

This was it.  Clearly my moment in the sun had arrived.  I am one of the nosiest people I know.  There is no little crevice of human existence that I don't want to peer into, preferably with a flashlight, a magnifying glass, and a notebook. And a small town, blessed with one main street (the better to see everyone you know as you head out to return a library book), and a stiff breeze (the better for your neighbor's divorce decree to blow out of his garbage and into your tomato bushes). 

I went forth from that meeting charged with a mission. While I usually prefer the dignified term "curiosity,"  'nosiness' does spell it out.  If your Cyrano-like proboscis has ever been caught in a slamming door, it may be that you share this calling.  We're needed, we snoops!  And I was glad to have someone beside me recognize this.  I've always thought nosiness got a bad rap, mostly because it has become associated with scornfulness and sanctimony over the years.  But the fact that I'm dying to see in your windows does not mean I want to denigrate you.  It means I want to learn from you, to understand how it is that different people, all of them wishing for more or less the same things (health, love, safety, recognition for the good we do, forgiveness...the list goes on and on), take such disparate paths to their goals.

 How is it that we are all as different and as alike as snowflakes?  I can read Freud and Tolstoy and Austen and Wilde for some answers to this question, but nothing will ever compare to that original text, the contents of my neighbor's trash.  This has gotten me into trouble at times. I once complimented a painting newly hung over an acquaintance's couch; it was absolutely beautiful, but  I'd only seen it because he forgot to close his curtains one night.  In fact I wouldn't have known where he lived if he'd remembered to close his blinds, and now, when I walk past his house (as I do every time I head to the library) I add another little piece to the puzzle that this very nice man represents to me.  He keeps his garden tidy, and grows an impressive variety of peppers-- is this because he grew up in a spicy culture, Mexican maybe?  Or is he, like my husband, of such absolutely British descent that he never saw a garlic until he had come of age and has therefore a deep desire to Know the Peppers, in all their spectacular variety?

He would probably tell me it's because he likes peppers.  Fair enough. 'Knock on any door,' a brilliant novelist, also a friend of mine, used to say-- meaning that behind every door there is plenty of beauty and of affliction, that we aren't alone in our peculiarities.  Fiction does that for us--knocks on a random door and reveals that we're in good company, whether we're exulting or grieving or just snooping through other people's lives.  My last two books--The House on Oyster Creek and The Harbormaster's Daughter, have been set in a fishing, touristing town not unlike the one I live in, and I know they are better for the kaleidoscope of thoughts and images and understandings I've gained from thirty years of the ordinary daily world here.  The Harbormaster's Daughter imagines the growth of a girl whose mother  was murdered much as  a local woman was ten years ago.  The book is full of my sense of this place and its people, and though many, many others know the outline of the story, no one else would imagine or write it the same way.  My nosiness-- my fascination, which originates in my own peculiarities-- makes it what it is.

That arsonist was never arrested.  One week there were no sirens, then the next, and the next, and after a while we forgot to be afraid.  People theorized that he had been a summer visitor, renting an unheated cottage.  When the air got cold enough he had to move and we got to breathe easy again.  I wonder where he is now--does he still set fires or was that part of some madness that took hold of him that year and has let go now?  Maybe he just came to some understanding and stopped--I wonder what that understanding might be.  Maybe he has a little family and feels terribly guilty, is making up for the arsons by joining his local volunteer fire department. 

Or maybe there's a much darker answer.  How I wish I knew. And how I wish my nosiness had been vindicated and I had spied the firebug out my window. I'd have run out to ask him what he was doing.  I mean--I assume it was a him, but I'm not going to know.   I do believe that whether you call it curiosity or nosiness, our persistent interest in each other is ultimately a great thing-- that the first step to closing the gap between disparate people, and groups of people, is seeing, questioning, and thinking about those variations.  Beneath the differences are much deeper layers of similarity.  I'm never sure whether 'minding one's own business' isn't really a way of making sure one's assumptions go unchallenged,  of failing to appreciate other lives and ways of life.  

In my capacities as a nosy neighbor, and as a novelist, I will continue my investigations into this and many other questions, and keep you updated on my progress.

copyright Heidi Jon Schmidt  2012

Be sure and visit Heidi's website here buy the book here

Thank you Heidi for a look into your lovely town and into your personal and writing life.

here are Heidi's other titles

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Release of Fair Game by Taylor Keating w/Guest blog post and review

This week's new release feature I've asked our author(s) to provide a guest blog post. Tyalor Keating is a pseudonym for the writing team of Catherine Verge and Paula Attenburg who each have their individual writing careers as well.

Fair Game is the third in their Guardian series and is available as of today.
And here's a little tidbit that's not well known I came up with the title for this book.
Pretty cool huh :womanhappy: 

So Happy Release day ladies
Here's the guest blog

What Were We Thinking?
By Taylor Keating

Taylor Keating is a pseudonym we use because in real life, we’re two separate people.  

More often than you’d think, one of us gets asked about our writing process—usually by someone who knows us both and can’t believe we made it through three books together.  (Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom…)

Just as in storytelling, we’ve found it’s easiest to show rather than tell.

I’ve selected an excerpt from our newest release in the Guardian series, Fair Game, to illustrate how we work together, and I’m going to explain what was happening as we were putting it together. I opted not to use the book’s opening scene here because my writing partner, who I’ll call WP, is a backstory dumper whereas I’m a sprinkler, and it was a bit of a struggle for both of us to get the right combination. (The only things going through my head were possible locations for hiding her body.) I also worried we’d give away too many spoilers for anyone who might want to read Game Over andMind Games before tackling Fair Game.

Our actual process is fairly straightforward. WP is fastest so she usually writes first, and I’ll take her pages and rework them.  We try for thirty new pages a week. Of those, she’ll write twenty. I’m then adding to what she wrote, or playing with it, and if that doesn’t give us ten more pages, I write a new scene.

This excerpt, however, is something I wrote and WP edited. 

First, a little background.

Our hero, Chase Hawkins, has been pulled out of stasis and back to his body, and he’s been separated from our heroine, River Weston. He’s desperate to find her. After finally receiving the authorization he needs to return to her, he comes home to his apartment to prepare for the journey and finds two intruders waiting for him.

This is Hawk’s first scene in Fair Game.

Dr. Jennings leapt to his feet, clearly uncertain about the welcome he was about to receive. He was slight and wiry, with a boyish face under a trim beard, the kind of man who looked odd with graying hair. He had a true scientist’s fascination with life and possessed an air of innocence that couldn’t be faked. His entire adult years had been spent in classrooms and labs.

“Could he BE any more boring?” WP moaned when she read that.

I love this guy. I admit it, I like smart people. I always hope some of it will rub off on me. He’s the nicest person in the whole story, too. And okay, yes, he’s a bit dull. But Hawk really needed someone in his corner he could trust.

“Spence.” Hawk injected warmth into his greeting to put the scientist at ease. He was still pissed at being left in stasis longer than planned—he didn’t like being a lab rat—but at the same time, it was how he’d met River so he was willing to forgive and forget. But only Spence, who had never in his life done deliberate harm to anyone or anything. The rest of the cryonics world could kiss Hawk’s ass.
“Which one of you has the potty mouth?” our editor asked when she read the original copy. WP looked smugly at me.

Hawk needs to swear, damn it. I’m sure you can sense by now that he’s a bit disillusioned with how this particular experiment has played out. After some discussion, WP and I agreed that we wanted him mad at the world and a little bitter, but not so much so that it blinds him. Spencer Jennings gives that little touch of humanity to his life that keeps him from breaking. If Hawk can’t see the good in people, how can he make sacrifices for them?

But I finally agreed to cut out some of the more superfluous F-bombs throughout. And maybe a few other superfluous words. (Okay, I’ve just discovered a new euphemism I like.)

So far, however, all is still good between WP and me. Let’s skip ahead...

They were here about River. There could be no other explanation.

Wary now, Hawk did not offer his hand. No one touched a Fae unless he was willing to have his thoughts read, and that was something Hawk would never again permit without good reason. (“Ooh!” WP squealed. “Foreshadowing!” Because you know them’s fighting words anytime anyone says “never again.” That’s like begging Karma to bitch slap you.) It had taken him the entire four months since he’d been brought out of stasis to regain the ability to sleep uninterrupted, and even now, he sometimes awoke in the night in a blind rage, ready to fight off whatever new mental torture the Dark Lord had decided to inflict on him.

And that, folks, was the passage that inspired the fight. You have no idea what torture it was to get a passing grade from the info-dumper on that one. What started off as something straightforward and simple turned into a full chapter of useful information.  I refused to reveal too much in dialogue. She wouldn’t let me act it all out. In the end, the editor had her say, too. I think, out of the whole series, this one chapter took the most effort to get it to a point where everyone was happy.  There’s a lot going on. (We laughed, we cried...) You get the idea.

All of which raises a question for both WP and me that we hope you can answer. How many of you prefer dumpers, and how many like sprinklers?

Because the answers will factor into the next series we co-author. ;-)

Happy reading!

here are links to my reviews of the first Game Over and the second Mind Games in the series and a link to their Taylor Keating website.  
So please enjoy the blog post and the reviews of the first two and now my review of Fair Game

My Review of Fair Game
On his Guardian home world after having been released from stasis Chase Hawkins is anxious to return to Earth and to River, his superiors have decided that Earth isn’t ethically ready for the technology they have, the so Chase and his team are ordered to “defuse” it, he now has to not only get to her but to explain what is going to happen.
Before he leaves Chase discovers a insidious plot for Earth and a secret about River’s lineage which leads him to an uneasy alliance with the spiritual leader of the Fae, but he’ll do whatever it takes to get to her.
Earth is on the brink of total destruction after pandemic, war and corrupt malevolent leaders and River is just trying to bide her time until Chase returns by protecting those she cares for, but she’s loosing this battle too when she not only has to worry about the evil military villain still pursing her but now a new virus is spreading and she’s afraid it may have something to do with the hologram program she’s created.
Will Chase and River find each other and the answers to save her world or will it all be lost in the blink of an eye.

The incredibly talented writing team known as Taylor Keating has done it again, blown it out of the sky with this the third in their fantasy/sci-fi/romance Guardian series. They continue to amaze this fan by the imaginative on going storyline which crosses not only genre boundaries but galaxies and planets as well. In this installment they continue the epic romantic saga of their protagonists River and Chase, who’s love for each other and righteous beliefs are stand outs,  but it’s all the minor actors in their play that make the differences too from the evilest of fiends to the purest of hearts and all in between who bring the images and voices from the pages onto the screen in my mind. Her romance continues with an against all odds feel and her love scenes would brighten any dark night.
But to enjoy the full scope of this series they’re best read in order.
Buy the book here visit the author(s) website here

Catherine Verge                                                Paula Attenburg

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Release Feature Return to Willow Lake + Q&A w/author Susan Wiggs

New Release Feature 8-28
Return to Willow Lake + Q&A w/Susan Wiggs

Debbie- Susan is another of my very favorite authors and so please welcome her today to
celebrate the release of her newest Lakeshore Chronicle novel, Return to Willow

Welcome Susan. Can you tell us a little about your new release, and for those of us
who aren’t familiar with you Lakeshore Chronicles Novels about the series as well?

SW: The Lakeshore Chronicles series grew out of my love and nostalgia for the beauty of the Catskills and the charms of small-town life. I created the Bellamy family and all their friends (and enemies!), happily writing about their lives and loves by the shores of Willow Lake. The seasons change, people come and go, but there is constant drama in the little village of Avalon and its surroundings.

Do you have a certain number of novels in mind for this series?

SW: No. I’ll keep writing stories that take place in this setting. It’s beautiful and filled with my favorite things–an old-style summer camp, a lake and ski hill, country club, town with an amazing library...One treat in store for readers of RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE is the endpapers inside the covers of the hardcover edition. There is a hand-drawn map of the area, compliments of my publisher.

You write both stand alones and series novels, do you have a preference?

SW: No preference. I enjoy both. Connected books give me a sense of continuity, and stand-alone novels make me feel independent.

Do you have a favorite of your novels and I’ll admit that my all time favorite is
Just Breathe. It just so happens that the first time we meet the heroine of Just
Breathe, it was in a Lakeshore Chronicle novel and my favorite in the series is
Marrying Daisy Bellamy.

SW: You have an eagle eye! I think that’s super. Sarah Moon, the main character in JUST BREATHE, visits from California and stays at the Inn at Willow Lake. I’m so pleased that you remembered her.

What are you working on now and how many books do you write in a year’s time?

SW: I am working on THE APPLE ORCHARD, a novel that takes place in beautiful Sonoma, California. I seem to juggle between one and two books per year, depending on what’s going on in my life.

There are many authors who are having their out of print novels re-released in
digital formats. Is this something that will be or is happening with yours?

SW: Yes, I think it’s likely. So many readers have embraced digital books. It’s great to have a format that allows for books to be so widely available.

Okay, now for something a bit personal. Can you tell us something that’s on your
bucket list if you have one?

SW: I don’t have a bucket list, just a ton of things I’m dying to do. Most involve travel and adventure, like traveling in a suite on the Orient Express, which I did in July. Another dream of mine is to learn to surf, so this Thanksgiving, we’re going to surf camp in Costa Rica. I’m already getting excited. In RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE, Sonnet definitely has the wanderlust, but she also needs a sense of home, and that’s really key to the story.

Do you have any B&N events or signings coming up?

SW: Yes, please check this link: for upcoming events. 

Susan thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, not that you’ll
need it but good luck with the novel and I can’t wait until your next one.

SW: Thank YOU for having me and for being a book champion!

My Review of Return to Willow Lake
Courtesy of RT Reviews Magazine

Wiggs makes every visit to Avalon, N.Y., special for readers, and this trip is no different. Fans will enjoy this opportunity to reconnect with old friends, meet new ones and watch two of their favorite characters fall in love. Even though part of a series, Wiggs’ vivid imagery and dialogue helps build the town and makes this entry stand well alone.
Sonnet Romano and Zach Alger have always been best buds but, on the night of Daisy Bellamy’s wedding, that all changed when they gave in to passion. Sonnet looks on it as a mistake — she’s carefully planned her life and Avalon is in the rearview mirror. But Zach sees a future for them — he just doesn’t know how to convince Sonnet. A family crisis throws a curve into Sonnet’s best-laid plans and brings her back to Avalon to help care for her ailing mom, prompting her to take a second look at her plans for the future — and Zach.

Buy the book here  visit the author's website here

enjoy the video

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend + Q&A w/author Matthew Dicks

New Release Feature Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
Plus Q&A w/ Matthew Dicks

It is my pleasure to announce that Matthew has agreed to be my featured author in June of 2013 when the General Fiction Forum reads this incredible novel together.

Debbie - Matthew Welcome to the General Fiction book club forum at B&
For those of you who don’t know Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is narrated by Budo who is the imaginary friend of an autistic boy named Max.
Matthew I have to admit that the premise of this novel grabbed me, can you tell me where the idea came from and tell us a bit about the novel too.
Matthew - The idea for the book originates back in in childhood.
When I was about ten years old, I was speaking to my mother about a trip that we had made to Roger William’s Park in Providence, Rhode Island.  I was reminding her of an afternoon spent in the Japanese Gardens, and how Johnson Johnson and I played tag on the connecting islands in the middle pond.
“Matt,” she said.  “You know Johnson Johnson wasn’t real.  Right?”
“You know Johnson Johnson was your imaginary friend.  Right?”
“No,” I said, thinking my mother was crazy.  “Johnson Johnson.  The boy who lived with us for a while.”
“Matt, there was no Johnson Johnson.  He was imaginary.”
“No. Johnson Johnson.  The boy who lived with us.  Like Jessica.” 
Jessica was a foster child who had come to live with my family for about six weeks, and she was one of several children who my parents would take in from time to time when I was young.  In my mind, Johnson Johnson had been just another one of these kids.  The first of them.
But it turns out that Johnson Johnson was not real.  I had made him up.  Even with a brother and a sister, I had somehow needed someone else to keep me company, and so I invented Johnson Johnson, who my mother had always assumed was named after Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. 
I couldn’t believe it.  Years later I would watch the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a story about technology that allows people to erase unwanted sections of their lives, and I instantly understood the concept and sympathized with the characters.  In a single stroke, hundreds of memories of my childhood had been altered forever.  The boy who I thought had accompanied me to all of my early  adventures had suddenly been erased, and for weeks afterward, I would find my mind stumbling upon memories in which Johnson Johnson still existed.  Memories in need of erasing. 
I mentioned this to a fellow teacher a couple years ago, and she said it would make the basis for an excellent book. I thought she was crazy, but my agent and wife agreed, so I began writing. I have learned to always listen to my wife and agent.
What I ended up with is a story told by Budo, the imaginary friend to a boy named Max. Max is an unusual child who is operating somewhere along the autistic spectrum, and he has come to rely on his imaginary friend for many things. But Budo has his own life as well, separate from Max, in which he meets and befriends other imaginary friends, navigates the world of human persons and worries about his continued existence in the very tenuous life of an imaginary friend. When Max finds himself in great peril, only Budo can save him. In doing so, however, Budo must risk his own existence as well. It’s a story about friendship, courage, love and the power of imagination.

This is your third novel, did this release feel as exciting as the first?
Every release is thrilling, and it is my most sincere hope that they never begin to feel like old hat. I am continually stunned by the idea that something I made up in my head can take on a tangible form and ultimately end up in the hands of readers around the world. While this release is a little less nerve-wracking than the first because I know what to expect now, it is just as exciting as the first. 

What are you working on now
I have a few projects in the works. I’m in the process of finishing my next novel, and I am also working on several children’s book and a memoir. I’ve also partnered with a musician to write a rock opera that was recently picked up by a Hartford playhouse for a two week run, so we are busy getting that script into shape as well. I have many irons in the fire at the moment, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When you research for your novels do you do it from a desk or do you go out in the field as well.
Most of my research takes place at the dining room table, which is where I do the majority of my writing. My process is to write first and repair later, so when research is required, I tend to make an educated guess rather than stopping the flow of the story in order to ensure that my facts are correct. I would much rather get the story on the page first before worrying about what details are in need to changing.
The exception to this rule has been my memoir. In writing it, I have begun investigating aspects of my own life to ensure that memory and reality are simpatico. It’s been an interesting process. I have found myself treating my former self as an entity separate from the current version of myself, and when I question old friends, relatives and former coworkers about my past, I speak about myself as someone other than me, which has brought about a number of odd stares.

Your bio says that you’re an active teacher, a published author of not just fiction, an owner of a DJ company, a husband and father and soon to be father again –congratulations, plus more. That’s a very active schedule, how do you fit it all in
I am not picky about the way in which I get things done. I like to tell people that I write in the spaces of my life. If my daughter is taking a bath and I have fifteen minutes to myself, I will try to write six good sentences in that time. I think that people are far too precious with their time, insisting on the right atmosphere, music, or beverage in order to write or accomplish a similar goal. I write whenever I can. Having the summer free from my teaching job helps, of course, but I have not missed a day of writing in at least seven years, whether that is ten minutes with a scrap of paper or eight hours at the laptop.
It also helps that I don’t sleep much. When you can feel good after just four or five hours of sleep, you have a serious leg up on a lot of people who require more time in bed.

It also says you’re a reader but doesn’t list your genre(s) of choice, so what kind of reading to you enjoy, do you have any favorite authors.
I read from almost every genre except romance, and I may give that a try at some point. I split my reading almost evenly between fiction and nonfiction. My favorite author of all time is Kurt Vonnegut, but some of my other favorites include Bill Bryson, Stephen King, Toni Morrison, Nicholson Baker, David Sedaris, Nora Ephron and (of course) William Shakespeare.

You said that you narrowly avoided dying twice by the age of 18, did these events change the way you live, the way you look at life in general, does it enter into your writing at all.
My two near-death experiences, in addition to surviving an armed robbery, have greatly dictated the way in which I live my life. Like it or not, there is not a day, and oftentimes not an hour that goes by that the thought of my mortality does not enter my mind. It is this mindset that propels me from bed before sunrise every morning wanting to make the most of my day, whether that is making time to play with my kids to working hard to teach my students, write my books, improve my golf game or grow my business. The awareness of time passing and the fragility of life are ever-present with me in a way that is difficult for most people to imagine, and for good or ill, this is the reason I manage to get so much done.
In terms of my writing, I think that Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend marks the first time that these experiences have impacted my fiction. It wasn’t planned when I began writing, but I quickly came to know Budo as a character who was just as concerned about his continued existence as I am, and for even greater reason. The lifespan of your average imaginary friend is frighteningly short, and Budo knows this. Many of the fears and anxieties over my own mortality are reflected in the way in which Budo feels about his own mortality.   

Now for something unrelated to writing, what’s at the top of your bucket list
I’ve been fortunate in knocking off a few of those things recently, including becoming involved in the live storytelling circuit in New York City, primarily through The Moth. My goal was to someday tell a story for a Moth audience, and I was fortunate enough to win on my first try. Since then I have won twice more and competed in two GrandSLAM championship events, but I have yet to win one. That remains a goal.
I’d also like to give a TED Talk someday, and publishing a children’s book has also been goal for a long time. I’d like to write something that my three year old daughter can read sometime before she is a teenager. She is decidedly unimpressed with my books so far. I’d also like to find my way to teaching writing on the college level someday, though leaving my fifth graders behind is hard to imagine. 

Matthew I know after reading your blog and website that I would love to meet you in person, do you tour with your books and do you have any specific B&N events or signings planned.
My book release will actually be taking place at the Barnes & Noble in West Hartford, CT, which is the town where I teach. They have always been great to me, and I am thrilled to be able to kick things off there. We are in the process of planning the rest of the tour, and I hope to include other Barnes & Noble stores as well.

 Matthew thank you so much for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to answer my questions and good luck with the sale of the book. I look forward to the next one too.

I urge my readers here to check out Matthew’s wonderful website, it’s an eclectic grouping of information that is fun, interesting and educational and his piece about this release day is especially poignant and a tribute to his wife.
And here is the address of the Barnes & Noble where Matthew’s book kick off will take place
Barnes & Noble
Blue Back Square
60 Isham Road
West Hartford, CT

Here is the code to listen to a sample of the audio book

 My Review of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
Matthew Dicks
St. Martin’s Press
ISBN13: 9781250006219
320 pages

Budo and Max are best friends, Max created Budo from his imagination. Budo is Max’s imaginary friend. Budo is different from other imaginary friends, he’s been alive for longer than any imaginary friend he knows and he looks more human than a lot of imaginary friends do, that’s because Max is different than most boys his age. Max lives inside himself a lot, he doesn’t like to be touched and sometimes he get’s “stuck” inside himself too, this makes him a target for bullies and the other kids don’t know how to act around him so they mostly avoid him. Imaginary friends can see other imaginary friends even though they are only visible to the friend that created them and Budo has befriended and lost many imaginary friends since he’s been alive. Budo loves Max’s mom and dad, he loves Max’s school and most of his teachers, but not all of them. Budo also hopes that since Max is different that means that he won’t “disappear” like other imaginary friends have done, maybe Max will need him forever or at least a long, long time, because the one thing that scares Budo is disappearing.

I have to admit that several things caught my attention about this novel, first the title and second the premise, so after being reeled in by those things I was totally hooked when I started reading the book.
The narrative is intelligent, witty, innocent and adult. The story is told by Budo the imaginary friend of an 8 year old suspected autistic boy named Max, we follow Max and Budo through their very interesting life and the lives of the people and imaginary friends around them, and then something happens which gives the novel a very different feel as they get caught up in a dangerous situation and how they go about getting out of it. It’s about life, it’s about death, it’s about being brave, being scared and doing the right thing even at the cost of your own survival to help those you love, it’s a journey into unknown danger and how to persevere. And if you’re anything like me by the end of the read you’ll have been dragged through the gauntlet of emotions and wish you had a friend like Budo too.
Thank you Mr. Dicks for this very impressive novel and I can’t wait until you join us for the month next June and I’m also looking forward to journey with you as I read another of your novels.

Matthew's other novels

Buy the book(s) here visit the author's website here

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review of Renegade's Heart by Claire Delacroix

Renegade’s Heart
Claire Delaxroix
Deborah Cooke Publisher
ISBN13: 9780987839930
280 pages

Claire Delacroix aka Deborah Cooke has been entertaining readers for many years with her bold heroines and lusty heroes from medieval times, and just when you thought the only way to experience the era with her was through her previous series she comes out with a brand new companion series staring the characters we’ve loved from Kinfairlie and Ravensmuir and the previously released and just recently re-released Jewels of Kinfairlie series.
This first installment stars Isabella Lammergeier sister to Alexander (The Snow White Bride) and Murdoch Seton. These characters will endear you to them within the first few pages, Murdoch with his arrogant yet honorable air and Isabella with her curiosity. Now if you don’t read historical novels everyday it may take you a page or two to get into the dialogue swing of things but once you do you’ll find a richly flowing narrative that will bring the action right to you. The plot involves a lot more fantasy then the last one’s did so you’ll see a fair amount of fairies flying about and raising havoc. The romance is sweet, it’s sensuous and it’s just a little racy too and I love how Claire describes it to us in her typical perfect time period fashion.
Bring on round three and thank you so much Claire for giving your fans what we so appreciate.

It’s a bitter homecoming for Murdoch Seton, after 3yrs held captive in the fairy realm he returns to find his father has died, his brother is laird and the coffers at the keep are empty. The relic that cost so much of the treasury has disappeared and with it the wealth and health of the estate. Murdoch is sent on a quest to find the treasure and to punish the villain who stole it. His crusade takes him to Kinfairlie where he’s met with falsehoods and deceits by it’s Laird and a fair maiden who intrigues him. It’s also become clear to Murdoch that the Elphine Queen who tricked him isn’t done with him by far, in fact she’s got permanent designs on him.
Isabella is shocked by her reaction to the renegade Murdoch, his mere touch causes shivers that are not from the cold, his heart seems true and his undertaking noble, but can he be trusted with her heart, and her innocence, and will she discover the secret to saving him from the fae Queen before he’s lost to her forever.
Together they search for the lost relic and what they find will change them, the question is will they survive the fae, and her kin.

Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Photo credit:
Michelle Rowen

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Release Feature You Don't Want To Know and Q&A w/Lisa Jackson

Q&A w/Lisa Jackson New Release Feature
You Don’t Want To Know

Please welcome back Lisa Jackson, she was just with us a bit over a month ago when she released Afraid  to Die and she’s back this time with her Hardcover release of You Don’t Want To Know.

1.        Debbie Tell us a bit about this novel

Lisa - YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW has become my favorite novel to date.  For years, SHIVER was my fave, but it’s finally been eclipsed by this one.  Set on a solitary island in the Pacific Northwest, YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW is the story of Ava Church, a once-strong woman who has been mentally crippled over the loss of her son.  Is she paranoid?  Being haunted?  The victim of a conspiracy?  Hallucinating? Being gas-lighted?  Or just unable to face the truth that her precious two-year old boy is lost to her forever?  She keeps seeing him, through the mist and rain, on the end of a pier and the images are so vivid she thinks she may be losing her mind.  Trapped in a beautiful home which is now her prison, she is slowly unraveling and doesn’t think she can trust anyone of her family—not her husband, her cousins, or her best friend.  A stranger on the island and rumors of sightings of a serial killer who escaped a now-abandoned mental hospital add to her confusion.  It’s her quest to peel off all the layers of secrecy and find out what happened to her boy and in so doing, maybe, just maybe she’ll find her own sanity again.

2.     Is this a stand-a-lone or is it part of a series

YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW is a stand-a-lone.  (So far, but who knows in the future?  I  keep dreaming up books as sequels with characters I already know and love!

3.     So Lisa the first thing I have to say is, I guess the bribe I sent you didn’t work and all the pleading I did with all my local friends because I see the release event will be in Las Vegas, so as I dry my eyes tell us what the grand prize winner will get in Vegas

After three months of voting, the town that got the most votes in the “Straight to the Heart of Your Town” contest was Las Vegas, so we’ll be throwing a VIP party there on August 7th. All of the people who voted for Las Vegas are invited, and we’ll be giving out free books to go with the delicious food and drinks.  It’s going to be a blast. On August 6th at 6:30, I’ll also be doing an event that’s open to the public at the B&N in Las Vegas (8915 W Charleston).

4.     Do you usually tour when you have a new release come out and how do you handle it when you have two releases so close together like you do this summer

I haven’t done an official “tour” for the last few books, but this year I’m attending many conferences and events during the summer when both AFRAID TO DIE and YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW are released.  It’s exciting, exhilarating and exhausting!

5.     What are you working on now

I’ve got a couple of projects going.  My sister, author Nancy Bush and I are co-writing the third book in the “Colony Series.”  SOMETHING WICKED will be out next June, and I, by myself am working on READY TO DIE, the 4th book in the Grizzly Falls, Montana series.  I think for the first time in 5 books, it’s not Christmas there!

6.     You mention two organizations on your website that are important to you and they are also closely related by supporting families that have lost a child. 

Yes, the M. I. S. S.  Foundation and Molly Bears.  My family has suffered the tragedy of infant loss so I know first hand how important these kinds of organizations are.

7.     Tell us a bit about these organizations and without being invasive what they mean to you and how to contact them if anyone would want to either contribute or ask for assistance. 

They are both listed on my website, under Lisa’s Causes.  The MISS foundation offers support for those families who have lost a child or suffered infant loss and that website is . Molly Bears is also for families who have experienced infant loss.  This organization, run entirely by volunteers and with donations, makes custom “Molly” or Teddy bears to the exact weight of the lost infant.   Families experiencing this kind of grief can place themselves on a waiting list for a bear, which is (so far) free, though the organization is in desperate need of donations to keep running.  I have a Molly Bear, a picture of which is located on my website under Lisa’s causes, where you can also link to .

8.     Now we would never want you to give up writing, but when you were young what did you want to be when you grew up. 

A writer, of course and then, maybe a veterinarian until I realized how many bloody, injured animals I would have to care for.  (Okay I did think I could be a bareback rider or horse whisperer, but I was very poor at any of these things.)  Oh, yeah, I can’t sing either, so that was out.  Lady Gaga is soooo relieved.

9.     Okay one more question to let us know you a bit better: What would your dream vacation be. 

Yikes, that’s tough.  I suppose either a week or two in a Welsh castle or an Italian villa?  In the winter, of course.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and summers here are spectacular---winters, not so much!

Thanks Lisa, have fun in Vegas, and good luck with the new novel.

My Review of You Don't Want To Know

You Don’t Want To Know
Lisa Jackson
416 pages

Two years ago Ava Garrison’s son Noah disappeared never to be found, since then her life has been a nightmare, a medicated blur filled with despair and misery. Recently released from a mental hospital she’s returned to Church Island and her family mansion of Neptune’s Gate, surrounded by her husband, employees other family and friends she’s never felt so alone and through it all she’s never given up hope of finding her son. She misses the take charge woman she once was but a series of episodes requiring her rescue by sexy new ranch hand Austin Dern only seems to confirm her instability, still she can’t get over feeling that something is off, that someone is against her. But who. And is there anyone on the Island she can trust.
Austin Dern has his own agenda for taking the job as ranch hand at Neptune’s Gate and the last thing he needs is a sexy off her rocker Ava Garrison interrupting his thoughts and getting in his way. But the more he gets to know her the more he thinks that beneath the fragile mask is a tiger and he’d really love to see that tiger roar, but she’s married and he’s got his own job to do on the island, and besides she’s crazy. Or is she.

Lisa Jackson has hit another one out of the park, a grand slam of a who done it, a psychological thriller that kept me awake at night, on the edge of my seat during the day and my heart pounding through the whole novel. Her storyline is as intense as it gets filled with tragedy, betrayal, murder and loss. Her characters are enigmatic, engaging, demented and unforgettable and Ava is a heroine I will likely never forget. I felt the sea spray, saw the fog, tasted the seafood and experienced the joy and the horror thanks to her signature scene painting narrative and the pages flew by thanks to her easy reading dialogue. This is a definite must for your beach bag, on your commuter train or sitting on your sofa if you like a racing pulse with your read this is your cup of tea.
Ms. Jackson thank you for the most fear filled ride yet this summer, I can’t wait to see what comes out of your imagination next.
Buy the Book here visit the author's website here
Want to learn more about the fabulous Ms. Jackson, click here and see what Jeremy Cesarec blogged about her on the Nook Blog at B&N

Photos by Kimberly Butler Photography