Monday, May 28, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Kea Alwang

1.  Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:
Treehugger is a Young Adult Sci-fi Fantasy novel.
For fourteen-year-old Chloe, planet hopping is a gift. Leading a double life has its perks. Being Earth-born, however, simply bites. But does it really matter what world you're on when trying to find yourself?
2.  How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

When we meet the main character, Chloe, she is at a point in her life where the closest she comes to security is nuzzled up to a tree trunk. She indulges in the primitive life force of trees to feel better grounded, much as trees find a firm place in the ground by clinging to it via their roots. Trees don't play a huge role in the story, but they do symbolize the security to which Chloe attempts to cling.
3.  Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Naturally I love the book's heroine (Chloe aka Star of Earth.) However, my favorite moments are when she interacts with one of her soul mates, CK. Talk about the opposite of a clueless male! It's not that he gets everything right, but he certainly wants to, and he knows how to make amends when he goofs. There is never any B.S. coming from CK. His honesty and ability to care despite the painful experiences he's lived with make him the best friend we all want to have.
4.  How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

Definitely Professor Kroter. He is the insane genius who scarred the three core characters so badly that the effect he had on them overshadows all the other dangers they have faced in their young lives. Truthfully, I take a deep breath before writing Kroter scenes; he creeps me out, too. Fortunately, he's not based on anyone I've ever met!
5.  If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

Well, Treehugger is Book One of a Series I titled, Based on a Dream. While the other two books have gone through their first drafts, I do wish I could have put them all together in one book so that the reader (and me) can just keep going without interruption. We wouldn't have to leave the vast expanses of space and time that is Chloe's world for a good long time! Unfortunately, that would make for a volume larger than the longest Harry Potter-a bit much. I don't think anyone would take a book that long seriously.
6.  Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series: 
The three core characters came to me in a dream when I was about 10 years old, and I just never forgot them.
7.  Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I take martial arts classes, and my flourless chocolate torte is to die for. Then again, I find anything chocolate to die for!
8.   How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

My blog is found at I have a Facebook author page at I tweet @kea_alwang and my email is Print and e-reader versions of Treehugger are available on,, and
9.  What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm outlining my plan for the completion and release of Book Two (title TBA) of the Based on a Dream series. But for now I would say it should be out in a couple of months. (Fingers and toes crossed.)
10.  Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Unless you really can't write your way out of a paper bag, don't let self-doubt mess with your head. Stories, on the whole, are extremely subjective. One person's trash is another's treasure, as they say. Some writers' books are exactly what a major publisher is looking for at the time. That doesn't mean your story won't appeal to a select few other readers or even to the masses who are ready for something new. So don't rule out self-publishing; don't rule out the story in your head.
11.  Is there anything else you'd like to say?

When they say creating a novel is like giving birth...whoever they are, they are not kidding.
12.  And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us: 
That would be Mistake Number Two.
Tara's schnauzer let out a geriatric sigh. I only heard it because of the room's sudden silence.
Had to open my mouth, didn't I? It's just that Natalie and Gianna could handle such gossip if they knew about it. They wouldn't give a damn. Not Valerie, though. That poor girl looked haunted enough when she wasn't in anyone's cross hairs.
Nine sets of raised brows dared me to repeat myself.
"Don't what, Chloe?" accused Maura, her pointy chin jutting as if she'd like to stab me with it.
"Valerie's father left her and her mother last year," I said.
I held my breath, wondering why that snippet of info wasn't enough to get my point across. Out of habit, I searched the air around me for the compassion and understanding I've gone without for over a year now. The reflex is useless these days, but old habits die hard when you've become completely reliant upon them. What I do sense around me is a weird sort of anxiety, the andrenalized sort of emotion people might feel if they were in a race to climb to the top of a mountain and were afraid of tripping, tumbling down, and winding up kicked out of the race.
I spoke slowly. "They were homeless four months ago; she's lucky she has somewhere to live now."
Everyone's eyes went blank, coldly stating that I still had not made my case. Only Tara appeared slightly unnerved, but not enough to do anything about it. Wow. Did I need to spell everything out?
I cleared my throat. "So she can't even hope for newer clothes. Plus, she's on the autism spectrum and gets help for her speech problem. Of course she's ... different! But, how could that be her fault? Why do you think she has so many resource room classes? Turns out she's an amazing artist, though." I stopped babbling and realized each word was digging me further into a sinkhole.
Jessica Reardon sneered, dark eyes pinning me to the wall from beneath long lashes. That was all it took for my body temperature to hit a new low. Although she is a girl of few words, anything that does come out of Jessica's mouth is going to be vicious. Shaking her long ebony hair out of her face, she tilted backward on one hand and grabbed a fistful of popcorn. "What are you, her social worker?"
The room laughed until Kerry hissed, "And what's your excuse?" Then they howled as if all the world's comedians suddenly came together in one place.
That's when self-preservation turned my thoughts inward. My eyes were still open, but the slumber party was no longer before them. A flash of the life I prefer to this one was quick to jump out of storage, ready to run interference for my thudding heart. I welcomed it into my mind's eye....
CK and I sit behind a row of thick, golden shrubs. We lean against each other; my cheek tacky against his dark-chocolate, humidity-sodden hair, our fingers intertwined just because. We feel bored, yet comfortable. Dull assignment. Dull world. Wonderful company. I am wishing we were home on our surrogate planet, Jacondor, me showing CK and Leada an Earthen movie they haven't seen. Instead, CK and I wait for a sudden call to back up Leada, if she needs our help. Her face appears in my head, too: pretty Leada who could never be as mean as Tara Hendricks' friends.
Thank you Kea for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

Monday, May 21, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Ruth Madison

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

(W)hole is a coming of age romance about a teenage girl who has always had a secret desire to be with a disabled man and what happens when she meets the perfect guy.

2.  How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

I always knew that I wanted to somehow use the word play of the way the word "whole" and the word "hole" sound exactly the same and mean exactly the opposite of one another. I loved that. I thought it fit well with my story of a girl who feels an emptiness that she doesn't understand. It also works well for the paraplegic hero who also struggles with feeling complete. Then I had to figure out how to convey that double meaning. I tested out several versions on friends until I decided on the parenthesis. Now that it is becoming a series, I've had to find more titles that use word play in the same way! The second book is Breath(e).

3.  Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Stewart Masterson. As much as I love and relate to Elizabeth (she is so much of me), I am totally in love with the male character. I find him and his story so compelling that I've written several short stories featuring him without Elizabeth.

4.  How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

Oh gosh, this is a hard question. I have so much affection for my characters. I guess I would say Robert. He is as close to a villain as the story gets, saying some nasty things to Elizabeth in his effort to protect Stewart.

5.  If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

I would pace it better. I've learned so much about book writing since I wrote it in 2009!  I think it is a good and strong story, but the arc is not a standard story arc and if I had kept it closer to that I think the story could have been even stronger.

6.  Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

This is a rather unique book/series actually!  It takes the niche genre of "wounded" or "imperfect" hero romances and pulls back the curtain on it, examines some of the impulses and desires underneath those books. It is extremely raw and honest. 

7.  Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I have a wide variety of interests. It surprises people to learn that I can speak Hindi, that I study classical Indian dance, and that I'm a hard-core gamer geek.

8.  How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

I love to hear from people, even just to open up dialogue about my unusual themes. I'm reachable at, at, and of course at my website

9.  What can we expect from you in the future?

I have a lot of things planned. I'm always balancing short stories and novels. I will continue to tell stories about Elizabeth, but most of my future stories are planned to simply have male love interests who are disabled without a deep exploration of that. I'm branching into science fiction romance and erotic romance. One thing that will always remain the same: I love to tell love stories.

10.  Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

My tip is that the more authentic and real you can be on the page, the more it will help people. If you are able to be honest about your own weaknesses and flaws as they show in your characters, people will relate to that and be relieved to recognize themselves.

11.  Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I'm so happy to have this opportunity to meet you and to tell you a little about what I do! Thank you so much.

12.  And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

“Hello,” he said.
“Hi,” she said. Already she could feel her face flush. What had her mother said to him to make him come over here and talk to her?
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Elizabeth.”
“I’m Robert, it’s nice to meet you.”
“You too,” she said. He had nice, soft-looking, brown hair and a neat, clean-cut appearance; his eyes were friendly, his jaw was strong. Her friends would call him cute. She would too. She knew he was. Her mind accepted the fact that he was attractive, but her body was not responding to him. If he was just…for an instant she pictured him in a wheelchair, but she felt uneasy doing this, as though her thoughts might cause something awful to happen to this innocent man.
“Would you like to dance?” he asked.
Elizabeth was surprised. “Um, sure,” she said.
Robert held out his hand. Elizabeth put down her camera and took it. On the dance floor there were only two other pairs shuffling back and forth, clinging to their partners so close it seemed they were about to bolt for the bedroom. This made Elizabeth uncomfortable and she didn’t quite know how to hold Robert. He took the lead and brought her into a traditional dance hold. They began to shuffle too. The music was slow and boring.
Afraid to look directly into his eyes, Elizabeth mostly let her eyes drift over his shoulder. As they slowly turned, she saw that her parents were watching her closely.
They turned again and suddenly Elizabeth found herself looking at the man she had been secretly observing all evening. He had a beautiful wheelchair. It was small and sporty, with wheels that turned in slightly, and a red tube tucking his feet underneath the body of the chair. He was wearing sneakers with his suit. His pant legs were loose. One of his hands lay in his lap and the other held a glass of champagne.
Just before Robert and Elizabeth turned again, her eyes drifted up to his face and their gazes locked. Electricity seemed to shoot through all the veins of her body. She turned her head to stay with his eyes for as long as possible before her partner turned her around.
“Are you all right?” Robert asked.
“You don’t seem like you’re really here.”
“Sorry. I don’t care much for weddings.”
Robert laughed. “I thought all girls loved weddings.”
They turned and Elizabeth was looking at her parents again. She saw her mother frown at the same moment that she heard a voice on the other side of her.
“May I cut in?”
They both stopped moving and broke apart. Elizabeth turned and saw the man from the river and her stomach seized up. He was even more beautiful close up.
“Are you serious?” Robert said, but the man wasn’t looking at him. He held out his hands to Elizabeth.
She felt as though she was in a dream. She saw her hands stretch out to touch his and she saw her fingers trembling. The skin of his hands was thick and rough when she tightened her slender fingers around them. She didn’t notice Robert stumbling to the side of the dance floor and sitting down in the chair she had been occupying.
Suddenly, for the first time, the man seemed very short. Elizabeth was acutely aware of how tall she stood above him. From a distance he had seemed larger than life and now he only came up to her waist. She stepped slowly forward and back and the man holding her hands was rolled back and forth with her. She could feel the heat in her face and knew she was blushing. Hopefully he would think she was just flushed from the lights and the dancing.
How could she know this wasn’t a dream? Pinching herself did not seem like a practical test; instead she tried to open her eyes very wide. If she were asleep, perhaps her real eyes would pop awake if she could get her dream eyes open enough.
The man in front of her raised an eyebrow. It wasn’t a dream. She was so nervous that she could not find a place to rest her eyes. It was too intense to look into his hazel eyes, it was too rude to look at his legs, so she tried to focus on his nose.
“My name is Stewart,” he said.
She couldn’t seem to make her voice function. It was as though she had forgotten how. At last she whispered, “I’m Elizabeth.” 

The Amazon link is:

Ruth Madison
Author of love stories with disabled heroes
Web site:

Thank you Ruth for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

Monday, May 14, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with William G. Jones

1.   Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

Driving to BelAir / Mainstream Fiction / Is it the road trip from hell? Or one last chance to make things right again?

2.   How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

I'm a classic car fanatic. My dad has restored both a '56 and a '57 Chevrolet BelAir, and once I decided to use a '56 Chevy as the hero car, I wanted to tie the destination of the road trip in with the fact that the car is a BelAir.

3.   Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

That's tough. It's a toss-up between Arissa and Billy, and I think it's because deep down, they're both innocent in that they've somehow shielded themselves from the cynicism that comes with growing up. Even though Billy is a drug addict and causes so many problems throughout the story, he still comes across as sweet and somehow pure. I'm tempted to say Bandit is my favorite, though, just because I based him off my actual dog and I love that dog so much.

4.   How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

The dad, without a doubt. He's such a volatile character who has to be present in every scene of the book, but he's really not really fleshed out in the book. That was a fine line to walk, because--in the sense of the story--he only exists in flashback, and at that, only filtered through Dale's point-of-view. Those early impressions have to stay with the reader until the end. I think the worst part was that the dad couldn't be a fleshed-out character interacting directly with the protagonist, so there was this constant sense of disconnect throughout the story.

5.   If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

I'd change whatever is keeping people from clicking the "Buy-Now" button.

6.   Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

Driving to BelAir was originally written as a screenplay. The ending never really worked, though. I had a few people look at it and nobody could really put their finger on what needed to change. So, writing the novella was, in many ways, an attempt to work through the problems with the screenplay. In fact, most of the story goes through major changes from the mid-point on.

Also, Driving to BelAir is not autobigoraphical in any way. My dad is still working on old cars. Both the cars he restored are hardtops, not convertibles. But a lot of the quirks the car has are taken from events that really happen in those old cars--embellished, of course, but still very real.

7.   Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I'm a writer, a graphic designer, a video editor, a photographer, and I use to be known as the Mr. Goodwrench of computers at my old workplace, because I could strip down a tower and have it back together again within minutes, usually (but not always) fixing whatever was wrong to begin with.

8.   How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

My website is but I'm horribly inconsistent about posting there. I'm all over Twitter at and on Facebook at and at Google Plus

9.   What can we expect from you in the future?

Who knows? I'm currently working on a rewrite of a thriller I started on in 1999. I also want to put out a short story collection and I've got another novella I started on I'd like to finish. We'll have to see, though. I'm not a speedy writer by any means, Driving to BelAir took me 6 months even with a finished screenplay to work from.

10.   Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

My biggest piece of advice is to not shortcut this. I've seen so many people rush to self-publish and their work isn't anywhere close to what it could be or even should be. Great writers, too, who just can't seem to be bothered with rewriting or proper editing--they just throw a spell-checked first draft out there and beg people to buy it while they crank out part two. Editing and rewriting are just as essential as character and plot. There's nothing I hate more than a book that feels inconsistent from chapter to chapter or even paragraph to paragraph. As a writer, I just feel like if you can't take the time to get things right, I shouldn't waste my time reading it.

11.   Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you for this opportunity! I guess I should also say that Driving to BelAir is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords and, for the moment, only in eBook form.

12.   And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

Here's the beginning of the scene where Dale returns home for his father's funeral.

I parked and got out, went straight to the back of the rental and started unloading luggage. A cool breeze whipped the tops of the weeds in those overgrown fields. It sounded like some far off ocean. In the distance, a diesel tractor labored against the earth.

Monica opened the passenger door and the poodle came alive, jumping down and running past my feet. It hiked a leg and peed, all the while sniffing the air and jerking its head from side to side. Then Monica stepped out of the vehicle, those bug-eye sunglasses affixed once more to her face and aimed in my general direction.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“He was your father.”

I huffed a laugh and wagged my head.

Just then, the farmhouse’s screen door flew opened so hard it popped back against the wood siding like a small-caliber gunshot. My brother, Chad, came storming across the porch, sweat soaked through his plaid flannel shirt, the leather soles of his work boots slamming the wood porch steps in rapid fire. His hairline had receded in the years since I last saw him, the cut still short and dark, like dad’s.

“What are you doing here?” he screamed as he reached the dirt path in front of the house, spit flying from his mouth. “You don’t have any right to be here!”

Next thing I knew, he was right in my face, broad nostrils flared, squaring off like a prizefighter.

“Hello to you too, brother,” I said.

Thank you William for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blurbing Your Book

Oh the joy of buying a new book!  Let's say you're browsing your local bookstore and/or favorite website looking for a new read.  First, you'll probably head over to the section that displays the name of your favorite genre (sci-fi/fantasy, romance, historical, non-fiction etc.).  Next, you might gravitate towards the new releases or recommendations based on your buying history.  If the title and cover look intriguing (oh come on, we're all guilty of picking up a book because the cover is pretty), we'll pick the book up and flip it over.  What are we looking for?  The blurb of course!  The nice little one-to-three paragraph snippet that tells all about the story without giving anything away.  Most of us (if not all of us) take time to read the blurb before we buy the book.  We want to make sure it is going to be an enjoyable read and worth the money we are about to spend.

Now, why am I going on and on about this?  Well, if you are an indie author, more likely than not you are writing your own blurbs.  But, isn't that the easiest part?  I mean, writing the book itself is so time consuming!  True, but not only does the blurb need to be relatively short, but it must capture the essence of your story while drawing the potential reader in.  Blurb writing can sometimes be a daunting task, so below I'm going to share some tips and suggestions (from my own, personal experience) with those indie authors who may be new at this (or those who find the process really difficult and tedious).

1.) Keep It Short
     The blurbs for my books (I've written five so far) are all around three paragraphs long.  In each paragraph I try to summarize the beginning, middle and end of the story.  In essence, I'm writing out the synopsis of the plot.  You might say, "But Jenna, that sounds kind of boring . . . The details often make the story shine and the synopsis doesn't always have those great details!"  Here's how I get around that:  I make my sentences long.  Don't be afraid to utilize the comma, colon and semi-colon!  They are our friends!  Play with your words and try to fit as much information in each sentence as you can.  But you don't want to overdo it either.  Keep a check on the length of your blurb and the amount of story you are sharing by reading it several times, out loud as well, and by getting some friends to look it over for you.  Same process as editing your book.

2.)  Focus On The Main Points
      A blurb is similar to an outline.  If you are the type of author that outlines your books, take advantage of that.  What are the most important aspects of your story that you want the reader to know?  Who are the main characters?  What is the main conflict?  As a reader, I always want to get an idea of what type of person the main character is, how dangerous their nemesis might be, how difficult their goals are to achieve, and what the setting is (I like unique settings :)).  Of course, be sure to leave me hanging a little at the end . . . don't want to go and give away the ending.

3.) Write Multiple Blurbs
     I know, sounds crazy, huh?  Write multiple blurbs for one book?  Writing one is hard enough!  Yes, it sounds like extra work, but this gives you options.  The blurbs don't have to be completely different from one another.  Perhaps you can start one out by describing the main character.  Maybe another jumps right into the conflict.  Just play around with it and see what develops, then you will have some options that you can test out on your friends, family and fellow authors.

4.)  Match The Tones
      All of the books I've written so far have been in the fantasy genre.  Four are aimed at middle-grade epic fantasy readers, and one is more for the YA paranormal crowd.  All of my blurbs are written with a dramatic undertone (epic fantasy tends to be a bit on the dramatic side, as well as paranormal YA; in my experience at least).  In the case of my Oescienne books, I've also thrown in a sense of mystery and wonder.  I also wrote a short story collection to go along with the Oescienne books.  In that case, I wrote three separate, one paragraph blurbs for each individual short story.  The first short story, Capture the Castle, is more adventurous than dramatic, so I tried to emulate that tone in the first paragraph.  For my newest paranormal book, Faelorehn, I've done a little something different.  A friend of mine recommended that I use a quote from the book as my blurb.  Intrigued, I took her advice and incorporated the quote as my first paragraph, then followed up with two paragraphs describing my main character, and a teaser of what struggles she might face later in the book.  Feel free to check out my blurbs on my Legend of Oescienne and Otherworld Trilogy pages to see if I actually pulled this off . . . ;)

5.)  Keep At It!
     Finally, the last form of advice I can think of with regards to blurbs is to keep at it!  You'll get better at it in time and hopefully it will come easier to you.  Actually, I kind of enjoy writing them now . . . I know, crazy huh?  Like the writing process of your full-length stories, improvement comes with practice, so don't give up!

I hope that I've been able to pass on some advice for all you indie writers out there.  I'm by no means an expert and I can't even tell you if my blurbs have helped my sales.  What I do know is that, as a reader, I am always reading a book's blurb before I purchase, so writing a good (or at least a descriptive) blurb is very important.  Good luck and happy writing!

-J.E. Johnson

Monday, May 7, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Todd Thorne

1.  Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:
Dark Doses – speculative fiction anthology
Seven dark and gritty tales of what-if from Todd Thorne describe a troubled tomorrow on the small scale, from the eyes of a few people enduring it.
2.  How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I was playing around with various title ideas one day and I imagined these seven tales lined up as vials containing sinister looking fluids. In walks a doctor with a stainless steel, hideously long, hypodermic. He says—in a perfect imitation of Vincent Price—“Now this won’t hurt a bit.”
Interestingly, I entertained the notion of using this cheery kind of image for the anthology cover, but in the end, I really wanted the cover to showcase one of the stories. 
3.  Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Timmy, the protagonist in the story “Game Over.” He’s in fifth grade and battling his monsters the best way he knows how to do.
4.  How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?
Colonel Yancy, one of the protagonists in “Perfect Soldier.” I think I did well enough drawing out the empathy for him and the position he’s in, but reading the story some 4 years after it published, I can’t help but feel he’s something of a caricature. Likely I could have remedied that at the cost of a longer tale, which we weren’t seeking at the time.
5.  If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?
That’s easy. I would have liked to commission seven works of art, one for each tale in the anthology. And, given the personal level of each story, the art pieces would have been intimate, with some kind of common thematic element to bind them together... say, lighting, perspective, color palette, aspect of menace, Alfred Hitchcock cameos, or some type of connection. Given the multimedia advantages of an e-book, the *right* use of graphics can add a touch of icing on the cake.
Alas, my family actually likes to eat on a regular basis. So just 1 dark art work instead of 7.
6.  Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Six of the seven stories were published between 2007 and 2011. All were in different e-zines and one, “To Soar Free,” was also published in a print anthology called  Mystic Signals .
Somebody nominated “To Soar Free” for the 2010 British Science Fiction Association award in the short story category. I have an idea who it might be, though I’ve never confirmed my suspicion. Let’s just say: always maintain a good relationship with your editors, even if they don’t buy your story for their particular publication. Unfortunately, “To Soar Free” did not make the short list for the final award. But it was really cool to see it nominated!
I had a short chat with an engineering fellow about the virtual reality game console I came up with for “Game Over.” In the story I branded the console a Sony. This guy seemed quite serious that I talk candidly with Sony R&D because... you never know: they just might be interested in it. I thanked him kindly for the suggestion. 
7.  Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
In my day job (IT) I hold 5 U.S. patents. So perhaps I should talk to Sony and file an invention disclosure (see the previous question).
Though I’ve never been on radio, I’m told I have a radio voice. Many years ago while working in a grocery store, I used to get ‘special requests’ to give the in-store announcements, even the lame, corny ones. Who knows? Perhaps one day I’ll do a podcast or two. Hopefully not cause them to be lame or corny in the process.
I brew my own beer. Drink my own beer too. As well as other beer. And single malt scotch. Wait, I guess ‘drinking’ doesn’t qualify as a talent. So scratch all that and leave it as: I home brew.
8.  How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Though it’s not going to win a Webby Award, my main site ( is the place to seek me out. There you’ll find pointers to me via e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and my blog (
9.  What can we expect from you in the future?
For sure more short stories of the twisted, dark variety. Since the sale of my first flash fiction piece, “The Fisherman,” earlier in 2011 I’ve tended to churn out flash length tales. We’ll see how long that persists.
I absolutely do want to write novels. My first manuscript was not suitable for publishing, though I have ideas about how I might salvage that particular story. In any event, I have high aspirations for the novel I’m currently writing. Plus other ideas for novels keep queuing up in the mid-brain. Ideas are the easy part. Quite often though, they don’t particularly like passing through the translation filter onto the screen.
10.  Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
If you’re a writer hoping to achieve success in the form of acclaim, good tallies, or nice sales figures, I’m a believer in J.A. Konrath’s philosophy regarding e-books. Except I think of Joe’s approach as The Killer Cookie recipe, which means:
1. It has to catch your eye,
2. It has to sound good to eat,
3. It has to look positively delicious,

4. It has to be priced so you don’t even think twice about it,

5. It has to be found where ever you want to buy it, and

6. It has to make your taste buds squeal when you munch it.

Shifting the above to your e-book, it must:
1. Have a striking cover and a title that grabs
2. Have an arresting book description, search tags and keywords
3. Have all aspects of your packaging be clean and crisp
4. Have a low or even impulsive buy price
5. Be readily available across all major store fronts
6. Be well written, engaging, compelling and error-free
Clearly, you can settle for less regarding the 6 attributes and still do reasonably well. Only you can decide, though, what ‘success’ really means to you personally. With that intention in mind, use your web references to learn about, tackle and accomplish the 6 attributes. Finally, don’t be shy about asking for help. Everybody needs it at some point.
11.  Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’m not sure if I am supposed to spread this around, but Douglas Adams was right about 42.
12.  And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
From “Shadows in the Mirror” in Dark Doses :
The corner Starbucks opened at 6:30. Rachel got in at 6:15 because the kid working the drive–through had a crush on her. He waited on her personally. She rewarded him with some protracted flirting before she placed her usual order.
“How’s your husband?” love–struck kid asked over the roar of milk frothing.

“Fine,” Rachel said. Weeks ago she’d claimed being married just to stop the kid pestering her for an IM address. It wasn’t a total lie, technically.

“Why doesn’t he come in with you? Some kinda coffee allergy or something?”
“He… travels. A lot. He doesn’t like going anywhere when he’s actually here in town.”
“Oh. Guess not. Well, if you’re ever bored… want someone to do lunch with—”

“I know where you work.” She winked at him, keeping his hopes alive.

In return, he granted her his customary, generous discount. It always paid dividends to be the object of someone’s affection.

Still, Rachel held her breath until her debit card transaction cleared. Her meager balance was due to the fact she hadn’t picked up and deposited her recent paycheck—one of several items she’d neglected over the last two weeks of being out ‘sick’ due to the breakup.

Behind her, the front door popped as the lock engaged.

Rachel took her latte over and pushed on the handle. The door banged but did not open.

“Lemme get that,” love–struck kid said.

He bounded over and slid in a key from the jingling mass on his belt. The mechanism wouldn’t budge.

“Weird. Like it’s stuck or something.”

Lights winked out across the shop. They plunged into the predawn gloom.

The kid glanced up. “What the—

Rachel shrieked as several alarms split the air with deafening horn blasts and howling wails. Her cup thudded off her foot.

“Back door,” the kid said, screaming over the din. But it, too, stubbornly resisted the key. “What’s going on? Stupid security system’s gone nuts.”

Rachel pressed her hands hard against her ears. In the back of her mind, Edward’s voice droned his warning.


This is crazy.” In the kid’s squeaky voice, panic overrode the alarm racket. “Let’s break glass and get the hell outta here. Come on!”

“Do you have a server?” Rachel bellowed at his retreating back.

“Am I a what?” He paused, shook his head.

“Have a server? A store computer.”

“Yeah. What about it?”

“With a broadband connection for wireless and security monitoring?”

“Right. In the storage closet. What—”

“Go shut it down.” When his expression reflected a preference for doing anything but, she yelled, “All of it. Hurry!” He fumbled for another key.

Rachel went and stood by the front door with the other morning shift employee, a lanky girl so terrified she looked about to piss herself. Off in the distance, red–blue strobes danced across building facades, marking the rapid approach of the police response. Just about the time Rachel decided she should raise her hands to avoid getting shot by some trigger–happy cop, the alarms silenced and the overhead lights blinked on.

Half an hour later, fresh latte in hand, she trudged back to her apartment. The store manager had been so grateful, she bestowed free drinks for the next three months, whatever Rachel craved. The kid had been absolutely starry–eyed; his puppy–love crush super–sizing to full idolization. Rachel felt like an arsonist, rewarded for helping extinguish her own blaze.

As she feared, another new message lurked in her Yahoo account. She choked on seeing the sender name.

Even worse, a snapvid accompanied the e–mail. With a hesitant finger, she clicked on the message first.

Rough morning? Too much excitement for you? So sorry. Thought you’d gotten used to such things. Oh, I forgot. You quit. Turned your back. Tucked your tail and retreated to your little fantasy world where none of this shit ever happens.


Take a long snort of that coffee, girl, and open those eyes wide. It’s all real and you have to face it. You have to face ME! Like you promised. Like you really should do.

You can’t run. Can’t hide. I can go anywhere, do anything to make you keep that promise.

Don’t believe me yet? Watch the vid.

* * *
Thank you Todd for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at