Friday, March 28, 2014

PUYB Virtual Book Club Q&A + Giveaway with Donna M. McDine, Author of A Sandy Grave

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.
Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership. 


Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com 

Thanks for joining us at the book club today, Donna. I just finished reading, A Sandy Grave. It’s a timely and enjoyable read. What made you decide to write a book for kids that centered around the topic of poaching?

It was quite by accident that A Sandy Grave came to life. To be quite honest with you I’ve never knew much about the Violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Mammal Protection Act until I was reading an article about a dead washed up whale on a California beach. I immediately clipped the article and began researching this topic. What I discovered about poachers truly fascinated me, hence I began the non-fiction outline of what became A Sandy Grave.

Can you describe your process of taking an important topic and crafting a story that is entertaining and educational around it?

It’s important to conduct research to stay accurate to the details of true life, especially when it concerns laws or facts. Just because an author’s story may be fictional, accuracy is a must to make it entertaining and educational at the same time. I often create character profiles and conduct character interviews to learn how each character will respond to a certain situation. Blending the facts with well-written characters and scenes using all the five senses will have an enjoyable story leaping from the pages. 

Did you learn anything surprising during your research for this book?

The Violations of the Endangered Species Act, the Mammal Protection Act, and what a poacher is fascinated me as to how the authorities do their best to protect marine life and how poachers truly have no regard for anything but the almighty dollar.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

The characters in A Sandy Grave are based on my two daughters and a niece. I specifically used their character traits from their language to their body mannerisms. When my daughters and niece read the book they connected to it right away. I was quite pleased with their feedback, since all three of them are brutally honest I their opinions.

Did your background or personal experiences influence the writing of A Sandy Grave?

My only personal experience was my fondness of family and friends beach vacations.

What are some of the other projects you’re working on right now?

I’m in the midst of preparing for my keynote speaker engagement for PARP (Parents As Reading Partners) Night at Nanuet Elementary School on March 19th. I will be presenting on the topic of “How An Idea Becomes a Book.” I’m delighted and a bit anxious at the same time for this wonderful opportunity, the estimated attendance is 180+. 



Readers can leave a comment or question for Donna for a chance to win a softcover copy of A Sandy Grave.

TERMS & CONDITIONS:



  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old and reside in the United States.
  • One winner will be chosen via Random.org
  • This giveaway begins March 28, 2014 and ends April 1, 2014
  • Winner will be contacted via email on April 2, 2014. Comment must include email address so we can contact you.
  • Prize will be shipped directly to the winner by the author. 
  • PUYB Virtual Book Club and Donna McDine are not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipment.
  • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED

Then Like the Blind Man Book Tour Highlights

It's so sad to see our authors go, but in tribute we do a recap of the highlights of their blog tour with us at Pump Up Your Book.  Today we're highlighting Freddie Owens and his Then Like the Blind Man Virtual Book Publicity Tour.  I am thrilled to say he's now a #1 Amazon Bestselling Author.  Freddie, you rock!

About the Author:
A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak
Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. 

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”

I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with…force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘… just at the right place’.

Freddie Owens’ latest book is Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story.

Visit his website at www.FreddieOwens.com.

About the Book:

A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited
wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.

Virtual Book Tour Highlights: 
Praise for Then Like the Blind Man:

"This is a first novel by this author and I believe he did a marvelous job combining historical fact with fiction to bring us the story of one boy's struggle to cope and understand his life."

-- Miki's Hope (Click here to read more) 

"So if you loved Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird then why not give Freddie Owen's THEN LIKE THE BLIND MAN a read.?  the author did a wonderful job of character descriptions and fitting them into the plot.  He showed how a young person sometimes has to take on more adult responsibilities than he should.  With faith, you can leave the bad things behind and start living.  Lessons to be learned."

-- Books, Reviews, ETC (click here to read more) 

"Then like the Blind Man is a peephole back through time to the 1950's South. By grounding his novel so firmly in an era of illusions, public personas and private demons Owens is able to play with the dichotomies of good and evil; of things apparent and those hidden and by doing so clearly illustrates through the character's of Orbie's sharecropping grandparents, who choose to defy convention, and impart to Orbie the only love he has ever known.  No, nothing in rural Kentucky is taken for granted and for Orbie it has some of the best of what life has to offer."

-- The Most Happy Reader (click here to read more) 

"This was a complete joy to read and one of my favourite "types" of stories.  A book about boyhood in Kentucky during the 1950s.  Coming of age, southern fiction, historical fiction, racial relations: all "genres" that appeal to me and nothing better than to find them altogether in one well-written book."

-- Back to Books (click here to read more)

"I have to say that my favorite part of this story had to be the southern dialect!  The author certainly brings his characters to life with realistic twang that certainly allows me to imagine them living in Kentucky in the 1950's."

-- WV Stitcher (click here to read more) 

"The dialect was so wonderful that I found myself reading with certain accents as characters changed and it helped really submerse myself into the story and time period."

-- Our Families Adventure (click here to read more)

Memorable Quotes:

"After many years of 'almost' and 'no' or 'yes but we wouldn't know how to market it' from agents and publishers alike, I've opted for 'certainly' and 'yes' instead, taking all my marbles to Amazon and my unincorporated Blind Sight Publications, the phantom home of Blind Man."

-- Confessions of a Reader (click here to read more) 

"I witnessed my grandmother wring a chicken's neck when I was nine.  It ran about the yard headless, spewing blood and flapping its wings as the life went out of it.  For the chicken and for the boy I was too, there was something existentially irreversible about this, something horrific and final.  I wanted to write about it, not so much just to describe the horrors of a chicken's death but to say something about how I, a nine-year-old, experienced these."

-- Blogcrics (click here to read more) 

"I had a great time on a dairy farm with several of my cousins, milking cows, hoeing tobacco, running over the hills and up and down a creek that surrounded the big farm. I remember too, periods of abject boredom, sitting around my grandparents' place with nothing to do but wander about the red clay yard or kill flies on my grandmother's screened-in back porch."

-- The Book Connection (click here to read more) 

"In the midst of writing the novel I became aware of how dependent the world is on one's point of view and how one's point of view is in turn dependent on the world. This to me was fascinating. I wrote the story (as suggested above) in first person and from the protagonist, Orbie Ray's point of view. In it Orbie comes to suspect Victor Denalsky, the novel's villain, of having murdered his father. The reader sees Victor but only through Orbie's eyes. Everything about Victor therefore is a function of how Orbie sees him, and Orbie's description of Victor is in turn heavily influenced by Victor's behavior. Victor tries to manipulate Orbie's point of view, cajoles and challenges it, at times violently, but in the end Orbie's view prevails, though profoundly transformed."

-- The Busy Mom's Daily (click here to read more) 

"I find myself at times afraid of success, though this is what I seem to be striving for.  Success is not bad, of course.  We all (probably) want it.  You (probably) want it.  I want it.  But I wonder whether the efforts made on its behalf are truly fruitful.  I have made compromises; I've had to market my book, for example, more than I had envisioned, being self-published.  This has eaten into my writing time.  In fact, of late, writing time has been next to nil.  Sometimes I wonder if there's an easier way to success, whether or not a more preplanned, formulaic approach to writing would yield greater results."

-- Sweet Southern Couture (click here to read more) 

Click here to visit Freddie's official tour page.

 





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last by Meryl Ain, Arthur M. Fischman & Stewart Ain

Title: The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last
Authors: Meryl Ain, Stewart Ain, & Arthur M. Fischman
Publisher: Little Miami Publishing
Pages: 196
Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Paperback

Purchase at AMAZON

Three years after the death of her mother, Meryl Ain was still unable to fill the hole that the loss had left in her life.  In talking to friends, Meryl discovered an insight shared by those who had successfully overcome grief; there simply is no closure.  It was a breakthrough for her. She writes, "Our loved ones will always be with us if they are not forgotten. It is up to us to integrate them into our lives in a positive way that reflects their unique personality, values and spirituality. In that way we keep them alive in our hearts and minds always."

Meryl enlisted the help of her brother, Arthur Fischman, and her husband, Stewart Ain, and began a quest to interview people who had moved beyond mourning through meaningful action. The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last by Meryl Ain, Ed.D., Arthur M. Fischman, & Stewart Ain (March 2014, Little Miami Publishing Company, Trade Paperback, 196 pages, $18.95, ISBN:978-0-9882553-7-1) is a result of that research.

The Living Memories Project presents more than 30 interviews with both celebrities and others who share their experiences and the projects they undertook to memorialize their loved ones. The authors have sought to demonstrate that any tribute, big or small, can be a meaningful way to preserve memories of loved ones. Establishing a foundation or scholarship, using a recipe on a particular holiday or family occasion, creating artwork, embarking on a project or even an entire career – all could be traced to a specific talent, interest or value of the deceased.  Each chapter offers a rich first-person history that will engage and inspire readers of all faiths.

Among them are:
  • Linda Ruth Tosetti, who made a documentary film about her grandfather, Babe Ruth, to highlight his humanitarian side – a value she cherished and believed was often overlooked in Babe’s biography. Ruth was a German-American, who publicly denounced the Nazi persecution of the Jews in 1942.
  • Liz and Steve Alderman, who established the Peter C. Alderman Foundation to honor the memory of their 25-year-old son, who was killed on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. The foundation trains doctors and establishes mental health clinics on four continents to treat PTSD.
  • Eileen Belmont, a quilt designer who helps others preserve their memories of deceased loved ones through the creation of memory quilts. 
  • Singer/songwriter Jen Chapin (daughter of the late folk rock icon Harry Chapin), who carries on her father’s legacy of music and feeding the hungry.
  • Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma (sister of Yo-Yo Ma), who keeps the memory of her father and music teacher /mentor alive through the Children's Orchestra Society and her poetry.
  • Robert Meeropol (son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed as spies by the US Government in 1953), who established the Rosenberg Fund for Children to help children whose parents are imprisoned.
  • Author, actor and raconteur Malachy McCourt, who presents his unique take on how he keeps alive the memory of his brother Frank (Angela's Ashes) through the Irish tradition of song and story.
 Not everyone can create a foundation, fund an orchestra or make a documentary film, but the authors' hope is that readers will find inspiration from the wide range of actions they read about. The authors are currently compiling narratives for the second volume of The Living Memories Project and welcome input from readers.

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

PUYB Virtual Book Club: Q&A with Historical Fiction Author Freddie Owens


A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”
I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with…force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘… just at the right place’.

Freddie Owens’ latest book is Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story.

Visit his website at www.FreddieOwens.com.

Thanks for coming to the book club, Freddie!  It's great to have you with us.  I love coming of age books especially the kind you have written.  Can we start out by having you tell us where you got the idea for Then Like the Blind Man?

Freddie: Well, two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became the novel, Then Like the Blind Man / Orbie's Story. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a "city slicker" from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature's neck. I watched as it ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set aright, recreated, if only that one thing could be found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado's approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.

I especially love Orbie.  Can you tell everyone a little about him?

Freddie Owens: A funny thing happened on the way to the completion of my first novel. On a daily basis I found myself entering or trying to enter the skin of a nine-year-old boy, trying to see the world of the novel entirely from his point of view. I suppose I should thank the 'Novel Muse' for giving me such an opportunity. I mean it was fascinating. And your question gets to the heart of this one thing I was trying to do, i.e., show how dependent the world is on one's point of view and how one's point of view in turn is dependent on the world. I mean Blind Man is told from Orbie's point of view, right? The reader sees Victor through Orbie's eyes. Victor therefore is a function of how Orbie sees him, and how Orbie sees Victor is in turn a function of Victor's influence. He deceives and threatens Orbie's point of view, challenges it, at times violently, but in the end Orbie's view prevails, though profoundly transformed - as does his world.

Now, Victor Denalsky is not your typical villain. He is extremely complex, confusedly so, yet he seems somewhat cardboard-like in the beginning, almost stereotypical (intentionally so). I think this is because Orbie's viewpoint is still rudimentary; he sees things in black and white nine-year-old terms, a parallel I suppose to the racist attitudes he displays early on. Victor is seen by Orbie to have some good qualities, he's a war hero, he's been in battles, he's very good looking and has what seems to be a very friendly relationship with Orbie's father, Jessie, and his mother, Ruby. An ominous quality enters all this however after Orbie's father is killed in an accident at the steel mill and Victor moves in on his family and vulnerable mother, bringing with him the smell of toilet shit and beer and dead cigars.

Victor becomes the bad guy; the hated stepfather in Orbie's eyes and everything enters hell from there on in until Orbie's sensibilities are awakened in Kentucky. He has certain experiences there with his maverick grandparents, with the black community of Pentecostal snake handlers and with the Choctaw shaman, Moses Mashbone. He finds he can’t maintain his prejudices in an environment of humor and vibrant fellow feeling. Even his tightly nursed hatred of Victor begins to unravel. As his world (in spite of everything) becomes sweeter, happier, it becomes also more and more perplexing, posing questions worthy perhaps only of the nine-year-old wunderkind, paradoxical questions like, "How can you save what you want to destroy?" As Victor becomes increasingly monstrous, increasingly alcoholic, increasingly violent, we see also that he becomes oddly repentant, has himself been spiritually wounded, becoming worthy of a deep though uninvited sympathy. This all takes place in Orbie's point of view, of course, which in turn is subject to the influence of the world of Kentucky and Harlan's Crossroads, which again is subject to Orbie's point of view. Like I said, fascinating.

Kentucky is one of my favorite states - love the back country.  Can you tell us if you had to go there for research, have you been there before and why did you choose Kentucky as your setting?

Freddie: Actually, I was born in Kentucky but grew up around Detroit. I would sometimes spend a week or two, once I spent six weeks, in Kentucky, staying with cousins or with my grandparents. And yes, it was an entirely different world for me, providing some of the best and worst times of my growing up years. I had a great time on a dairy farm with several of my cousins, milking cows, hoeing tobacco, running over the hills and up and down a creek that surrounded the big farm. I remember too, periods of abject boredom, sitting around my grandparent's place with nothing to do but wander about the red clay yard or kill flies on my grandmother's screened in back porch. Some of this did come out in the novel – in that character you love, Orbie.

What is the most favorable thing people have said about your book?

Freddie: Well, Kirkus Review gave the book their highest rating. They gave it a starred review, which is how they designate a book of exceptional merit. It got great reviews also from Publisher's Weekly, The San Francisco Book Review, Midwest Book Review, ForeWord First and several others.

The most favorable thing came not from any of these big reviewers however; but from a reader who wrote to say how she was so saddened when the book came to an end because she wouldn't get to hang out with the book's characters any longer. She said she hoped I'd be writing more about these characters in the future, that I'd find a way to continue the story. Which, of course, was very gratifying to hear.

How neat that this is your debut book.  Do you have more books on the horizon?


Freddie: Well, I'm currently thinking of doing a screenplay for Then Like The Blind Man. I've actually started the work, which is a challenge since I know nothing about screenplay writing – but I'm learning. I'm reading and I'm learning. I also have begun jotting a few ideas down for a sequel and hope someday to be able to say to the lady saddened by my book's having come to an end, Hey gal, look here! There's more!

Is there anything you'd like to say to your readers and fans?

Freddie: Writing – especially great writing – is the mind's gift to itself.  Reading is the mind's way of opening the gift. If in it one finds emptiness filled to the brim, then I say, so much the better, dear reader. Read on.    

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Still Life With Strings by L.H. Cosway



Title: Still Life with Strings
Author: L.H. Cosway
Publisher: L.H. Cosway
Pages: 350
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format:Kindle


Purchase at AMAZON

My name is Jade Lennon and I stand still for money.

The night I saw Shane Arthur watching me everything changed. A man in a suit always catches my eye, but it was the way he looked at me that was different. Like he knew me or something. He didn’t know me, especially not in my costume. My sobriety rests on staying away from men, but there was something about him that made me throw caution to the wind.

After all, I was never going to see him again, right?

Wrong.

Standing still isn’t the only way I make my money. I also bartend at a concert hall. Never in my wildest dreams did I think Shane was going to show up there. Not only that, but he’s the most recent addition to the orchestra. So now on a daily basis I have to resist one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever met and he plays the violin. For me that’s one hell of a deadly cocktail.

He wants me to teach him how to live. I’m not sure how much a twenty-six year old recovering alcoholic who works in a bar and moonlights as a living statue can teach a world class concert violinist, but I’m sure going to try.

Still Life with Strings is a story of music, art, sex, magical realism, and romance that you will never forget.


Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Soul of the Sun by Genevieve Crownson

Title: The Soul of the Sun
Genre: Paranormal/Young Adult
Author: Genevieve Crownson
Publisher: Genevieve Crownson
Pages: 348
Format: Paperback; Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

“The hands of time turn on the face of the sun. Only you can move them. If the Watcher controls the hands of the clock he can go anywhere, past or future-- and destroy our planet.”

Since the days of ancient Greece, the Argos dynasty has kept a secret, a mystery passed down through their descendants from generation to generation, in the hopes that the forces of good can stop the evil destruction of planet Earth.

Margaret Ingall is harboring that secret. Time is running out for the descendants of the Argos. They know a great healer and time traveler will be born of their blood. But the only person that knows whom they will call “the soul of the sun” is Margaret’s sister, Abigail. Before she can reveal the healer’s identity, disaster strikes…

Evil stalks them, watching and waiting to find out which member of her family has the ultimate power. Is it Margaret’s own child? Or her beloved granddaughter? Or even herself? Their only clue is a powerful protective amulet that will lead them all in a cat-and-mouse game to discover secrets as ancient as time.

If the Watcher discovers the truth before they do, all will be lost.

Fate, time and love weave together in their struggle to fulfill their destiny. Will Margaret’s fears sabotage her family’s protection? Can the healer accept her gifts in time? And once the soul of the sun is finally revealed, will it be too late?

Her power is incredible. The sacrifices required of her are immense.

Will it be enough to stop the Watcher?



Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Interview with Kevin Bohacz, author of techno-thriller 'Immortality'

I am Kevin Bohacz the bestselling novelist of Immortality and a lucid dreamer… Welcome to my dreams. I am also a writer for national computer magazines, founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system – the ESE Engine System (circa 1978). I was also a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. All of those careers and more are behind me now that I am a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams. Thank you for reading my stories and making this all possible.

His latest books are Immortality and Ghost of the Gods.

Visit Kevin’s website at www.kbohacz.com.

Thanks for coming to the book club, Kevin! I absolutely love thrillers. Why did you decide to write that genre?

Kevin: I love hard science fiction and I love thrillers but more than anything I love the type of hard science fiction that is theoretically possible and set in

present day, which is pretty close to the definition of one kind of techno-thriller. This is the brand of techno-thriller that I write. I often get compared to Michael Crichton since he is arguably the inventor of this type of techno-thriller. I actually bend the techno-thriller genre a bit to my own liking. Thrillers typically are supposed to be action and suspense first and foremost but I take the time to do enough character development to create fully realized three dimensional people. My characters are not perfect. They are flawed like all real people. For me the stories are all about the characters. If the characters are not 100% real and true to whomever they may be then the story stumbles. If a reader has strong emotions for the characters whether it is hate or love then the story soars.

The other thing I enjoy about my slightly bent genre is that I make everything scientifically possible. Making everything possible leads to greater levels of suspension of disbelief in the reader. I feel this makes the stories more compelling. When I am reading a story nothing can cause me to stumble quicker then reading something portrayed as fact that I know is not possible. Whether it’s something simple like a real street described incorrectly or a technical device that is highly unlikely, it all equals the collapse of my suspension of disbelief. The same is true for the characters. I stumble reading a story if a smart character does something slightly foolish just to move the plot along or vice versa. So the bottom line is that I write the kinds of stories than I love to read and my slightly bent techno-thriller genre allows me to do this.

I love it that your theme in your first book, Immortality, revolves around evolution. Can you tell us more about this?
 

Kevin: Well actually Immortality is not my first published novel, Dream Dancers got that award back in 1993…

The epic tale of my bestseller Immortality and the sequel Ghost of the Gods has five different interwoven themes and is about many different things: physical immortality, love, the end of the world, and revenge… but as you’ve pointed out what is arguably the biggest underlying theme is the idea of self-directed human evolution and the notion that through this mechanism at some point in our history we will vanquish death from natural causes. This concept has been given many names but transhumanism is probably the most widely known.

Here is what one of the critics had to say about evolution in the two-part tale of Immortality: Publisher’s Weekly STARRED review: “Bohacz’s vision of a humanity that faces the need to evolve profoundly or face certain destruction is as timely as today’s news and as chilling a doomsday scenario as any ecological catastrophe can suggest...”

So how do we extend our lifespan to the point where death becomes the exception instead of the rule and save ourselves from destruction? I think we have been doing just that for our entire history as a species. It is what all self-aware life forms do. Once you know you are going to die, once you have taken that bite of the apple, there is no alternative other than to wage war on death. Survival is hardwired into our psyche.

As far back as we can trace our ancestry we've extended our lifespan by enhancing our bodies so that we could better protect ourselves from the environment and predators of both the two and four legged varieties. Unlike non-self-aware creatures that function heavily on instinct, we have been very busy using our analytical brains to alter our bodies. In the hundred generations of recorded history and millions of years before, we have been self-evolving by augmenting our bodies with technology. We started with stone tools then worked our way up to fire, then wheels, then suits of armor, then gunpowder, then the atom.

This self-directed evolution radically changed in the last century. Today life extension is coming through sweeping scientific breakthroughs. We are embedding electronics into our bodies, networking our thoughts, and engineering our genes. We have moved from physical prostheses to mental prostheses in the form of computers. Our self-evolution is accelerating at a breathtaking rate in lockstep with the geometric advancements in technology. It seems inevitable that we'll continue to enhance ourselves with machines, chemicals, and genetic manipulations. What will healthcare be like a hundred years from now? The environment? Love? Wars? No one knows if we're careening toward paradise or a nightmare, but I think nothing short of a global catastrophe will keep us from opening this particular Pandora's Box.


Can you give us a description of your characters in Immortality?

Kevin: Since the tale is epic there are a lot of pivotal characters so I will limit the descriptions to the very most important characters.


Mark Freedman: Professor Mark Freedman is in his late 40’s. He is a Nobel Prize winning research microbiologist and bioengineer. He is a full tenured professor at UCLA where he conducts advanced research into genetic engineering of bacteria. The university gives their Nobel Laureate everything he wants. A seemingly endless supply of federal and private grants provides even more. He has achieved his dreams, but paid a price. He is divorced from a wife that still loves him. He is an absentee father from a daughter he adores. He is nearing fifty and counting all the mistakes he has made. A diabetic from childhood, he has started drinking and knows the damage it is causing. He lives in a million dollar condo in Venice Beach, California with one of his graduate students who is half his age. It was affairs with young women like this one that cost him his marriage.  A decade ago he was a pioneer in the field of micropaleontology. It was his discovery a bacterium named COBIC-3.7 that won him his Nobel Prize. COBOC is 3.7 billion years old and oldest known form of motile life on Earth. This bacterium is the first cousin to protoanimals and the very nexus of the great kingdoms of plant and animal. It is literally the origin of an evolutionary branch that would eventually lead to all animals, including humans and it is still swimming and living among us. With this glory ten years behind him, he is now hunting a new theory to win a second Nobel Prize. He is seeking to prove a connection between this ancient bacterium and the great extinction events from hundreds of millions of years ago. He believes COBIC is the canary in the coal mine that predicted those great extinctions.

Kathy Morrison: Doctor Kathy Morrison is in her late 30’s. She is a hugely respected doctor at the CDC in Atlanta. She has worked for the CDC since graduation from Harvard Medical. She began as an EIS field agent and for many years took some of the most dangerous assignments. She has seen firsthand the suffering and death wrought by the most terrible diseases on the planet. She is a workaholic who is only in her element when she is trying to solve medical mysteries. She is attractive but thinks she is not. During her college years, she dated a long procession of would be doctors and then married a surgeon. She is unlucky in love and still getting over a hurtful divorce. She has a bad knee from a skiing accident and sometimes needs a cane. She lives in a very desirable condo in the trendiest neighborhood of Atlanta, which she can barely afford on her government paycheck.


Sarah Mayfair: Sarah Mayfair is in her early 20’s. She is a newly minted Morristown, New Jersey police officer. She is going to college part-time working her way to a psych degree with a good though not perfect grade point average. She wants to get into federal law enforcement. A bit of a tomboy, she likes sports, camping, and even hunting.  She is an expert on the pistol range. She shoots all-pro at the situation contests and took third place last year in the state finals. She has emerald green eyes, dark blonde hair, and is extremely attractive. She is part Middle-Eastern, part English, part Indian, part Moroccan, part Italian and the list goes on. Her mixed-ethnicity is often mistaken by the eyes of the beholder: Italians think she is Italian, Middle-Easterners think she is Middle-Eastern, Indians think she is Indian, and Brits think she is British. In this way she is almost a chameleon. She had an emotional breakdown not long ago but has recovered for now. She lives with her boyfriend Kenny and a huge Rottweiler named Ralph who she adores.


Artie Hartman: Artie is in his late 20’s. He is an assistant D.A. for New York City. He is half Japanese and half English. Artie grew up in a very bad NYC neighborhood and joined a gang, the Dragons, the same year his parents were killed. He got into trouble and was sent to juvenile detention for possession of a firearm. He accidently killed a boy in a gang fight but was never arrested or under suspicion for the crime. When he was released from detention his record was expunged and he was later taken in by his uncle who became a second father to him. Guilt over all he did while he was running with his gang is something that plagues him in his adult life especially now that he is prosecuting teenagers and young men who were just like him.


General McKafferty: McKafferty is in his 50’s. He is a true patriot who believes in God, Honor, and Country. McKafferty is career Army, West Point, and commander of BARDCOM, which stands for Biological Armaments Research and Development Command. BARDCOM is a top secret command and in some ways the military’s analog to the CDC. Biological weapons are illegal by international treaty and BARDCOM only develops weapons in order to devise and test ways to counter them. McKafferty is a bull of a man and truly ugly in appearance. He knows he is menacing in appearance and uses the power it gives him. He likes the sideways glances and fear. His face is large and quarter moon shaped on profile. A pair of jug ears stick out rudely from below a peach fuzz of gray hair. His skin has a ruddy leather complexion from too much booze and fistfights in his younger years. He is a soldier who clawed his way up the commissioned ranks and earned every bit of success the hard way. He is greatly respected by his peers. He loves his wife and family. He is an idealist in that he sees his role as a warrior who has sworn an oath to protect and there is nothing he will not do to protect his country including breaking the law or disregarding orders.


Every book has that on the edge of your seat drama. What part of your book will have us glued to the pages?


Kevin: The short answer to your question is the drama builds from the first page and keeps on building to the very last word of the sequel. I think the point at which I consider the action becomes intense is around the 25% point into the first book Immortality. You do not have to take my word that Immortality and Ghost of the Gods will keep you glued to the pages and reading until the sun comes up. The critics agree about the drama or adrenaline rush. Here is just one example: Publisher’s Weekly STARRED review: “Bohacz provides mind-bending portrayals of factions vying for power and reflections on the essence and fragility of humanity. But philosophical concerns never obtrude on the fast-paced plot. The question of who can be trusted impels the reader to keep turning the pages of this highly satisfying and dynamic techno-thriller.”

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?


Kevin: To all my readers, thank you for making my dream come true and to everyone else please take Immortality and Ghost of the Gods for a test drive! I promise it will be a wild and winding road that will keep you guessing until you reach the very last word on the very last page.

 


Announcing L.H. Cosway's Still Life With Strings Release Day Blitz!


 Today is release day for L.H. Cosway's new contemporary romance, Still Life With Strings!

Title: Still Life with Strings 
Author: L.H. Cosway 
Publisher: L.H. Cosway  
Pages: 350  
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: March 24 2014

Book Summary: 


My name is Jade Lennon and I stand still for money.

The night I saw Shane Arthur watching me everything changed. A man in a suit always catches my eye, but it was the way he looked at me that was different. Like he knew me or something. He didn’t know me, especially not in my costume. My sobriety rests on staying away from men, but there was something about him that made me throw caution to the wind.

After all, I was never going to see him again, right?

Wrong.

Standing still isn’t the only way I make my money. I also bartend at a concert hall. Never in my wildest dreams did I think Shane was going to show up there. Not only that, but he’s the most recent addition to the orchestra. So now on a daily basis I have to resist one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever met and he plays the violin. For me that’s one hell of a deadly cocktail.

He wants me to teach him how to live. I’m not sure how much a twenty-six year old recovering alcoholic who works in a bar and moonlights as a living statue can teach a world class concert violinist, but I’m sure going to try.

Still Life with Strings is a story of music, art, sex, magical realism, and romance that you will never forget.
 
PURCHASE LINKS:



Excerpt:
They call me the Blue Lady.
The more poetic would say a dark angel, or an unexpected, fantastical surprise standing upon the mundane street. I wear a long midnight blue dress, a matching wig, white paint on my hands and face, and glorious, feathery blue wings affixed to my back.
I feel like a gap in reality, a moment where people can pause mid-stride and say in a breathy, wonder-filled voice, wow, look at that. For the more cynical, wow, look at that nutjob.
Perhaps for a moment someone will think that they’ve stepped into a world where normal is not the rule anymore, that the extraordinary is. That my wings aren’t false but real, that my skin is really this white, my hair really this blue.
Unfortunately, none of it is real.
But it’s nice, isn’t it, for a brief moment to imagine that it is?
In reality I’m a twenty-six-year-old woman with a stack of bills I’m struggling to pay and two younger siblings who are reliant on me to keep a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food in their bellies.
I do this living statue act whenever I have the free time. It gives me an artistic outlet, while also making me some much-needed cash on the side. Admittedly, I don’t normally do it at one o’clock in the morning in the middle of Grafton Street, but it’s a Saturday. That means there’ll be lots of tourists. More to the point, lots of drunk tourists with loose pockets and even looser inhibitions about who they hand over their cash to – such as women who stand very still while dressed like a Manga fairy.
I stare directly ahead, unblinking, controlling my breathing using a qigong method, just as I hear the recognisable loutish shouting and laughter of a stag party up ahead. When they come into my line of sight, I see that they’re all wearing black T-shirts with their nicknames written across the back and Jack’s Stag Weekend across the front.
No shit.
I am an island, an inanimate object among the to and fro of humanity. I brace myself for the possibility that the stag party is going to be trouble. Moments later, one guy stands in front of me, waving his hand in my face and trying to get me to blink. How original.
Sometimes I feel like those guards who stand outside Buckingham Palace. And like those long-suffering buggers, I have also perfected the art of remaining still and giving no reaction at all.
“Are you blue all over?” he slurs with a drunken sideways grin.
As a street performer, you have to take the rough with the smooth. When you put yourself out there, you’re going to encounter every facet of society: the good, the bad, and the drunk off their arses. Kids are the best. They haven’t yet lost the sense of wonder that makes them stare up at you and truly believe you’re some sort of blue-fairy-bird-woman-thing.
“That’s a real nice rack,” says another of the stag partiers.
Yeah, you try carrying it around all day and dealing with the back problems, and then tell me how nice it is, I think. Soon they lose interest and continue on their way. A half an hour passes, and several more pedestrians throw some coins into my hat.
The moon is full tonight, a round white orb perched amid the stars. I want to go up there and see what everything looks like from on high. I flutter my wings and prepare for flight, flapping them through the air and then leaping into the sky. My ascent is an easy one. I pluck a star out of the blackness and stick it in my blue hair as an adornment. When I reach the moon, I find a comfortable spot and sit. Leaning my chin on my hand, I gaze back down at the street. The people look like tiny black ants, the buildings like less brightly coloured blocks of Lego.
I blink, and I’m back on my box, back on the street. I was never really on the moon. My wings are a pretty accessory, but they’re useless for flying. Sometimes I can imagine things so hard that I feel like they’re really happening.
About the Author:
L.H. Cosway
L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favourite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books. 


Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Still Life with Strings.



Visit her website at www.lhcosway.com.

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