30 Sept 2012

Author Interview - Jessica Scott

Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats, three dogs and two escape-artists hamsters, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She has commanded two companies, served in Germany, Korea, Fort Hood and Iraq, and been lucky not to get fired. She is a terrible cook and an even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.
You can find her online at

Because of You (Book 1,  Coming Home)
From the war-torn streets of Baghdad to the bittersweet comforts of the home front, two wounded hearts navigate the battlefield of coming home from war in this explosive eBook original from newcomer Jessica Scott.

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again—until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.

Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels—for the first time in a long time—like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty—it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected—her deepest desire.

Release Date:  Out Now!

Until There Was You (Book 2,  Coming Home)
Link to the Goodreads Page - click here
Release Date:  8th October 2012


If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Oh great question. There are so many fantastic authors out there. Wow. Um, I really have no idea. I’d love to work with Shawntelle Madison because she’s got a sense of humor as warped as mine. And I think I’d love to work with Nalini Singh just to learn to be a more evocative writer. She’s got a beautiful way with words. And probably Victoria Dahl because she’s funny as all get out.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
There isn’t really a typical working day for me. The best way for me to write is on my back porch with a cup of coffee and a song stuck in my head. I don’t know why but having a song stuck in my head really helps the writing flow. I don’t normally sit down to write until later in the evening after I get home from work and the family is put to bed.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Making sure I hit those emotional notes that make people care about the characters. I rarely read a book I where I don’t connect with the characters some how and I always try to write a book where readers connect with mine.

When and why did you first start writing?  
Back in 2007, I was at Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning. I was away from my kids and my husband was on his 2nd deployment. I did a lot of hanging around in the bookstore and one day in class, I started writing. I guess you could say the rest is history.

How did you come up with the idea for the book ‘Until There Was You'?
The class that followed OCS had 2 people in it who were constantly at each other’s throats. One day one of my buddies said they should just sleep together and get it overwith and well, the idea for Evan & Claire was born.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Very much so. I read a ton of non fiction. I love to read books that make me laugh so on my kindle right now is Victoria Dahl’s Close Enough to Touch and Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Storm.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Learn your craft. Don’t query until you’re ready. Follow industry folks on twitter and facebook and learn from them. there’s always more to learn. always.

To celebrate the long awaited release of Jessica's second book, she is having a super giveaway the http://www.jessicascott.net/blog/?p=2818 UNTIL THERE WAS YOU PREORDER SWEEPSTAKES all throughout September until Oct 7th!
If you preorder UNTIL THERE WAS YOU, you get entered into a chance to win a Kindle Fire or a Nook Color.

She is also giving away a digital eARC of UNTIL THERE WAS YOU to someone today!

Continue reading Author Interview - Jessica Scott

Book Review - Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. 

Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. 

For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. 

A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.

Release Date:  1st February 2011
Publishers:  Bloomsbury
Source:  Won from a Competition
Links:  Goodreads  /  Amazon.co.uk  /  Amazon.com     

My Review      8 out of 10

This book surprised me so much.   This story deals with some really hard hitting issues including (but not telling you all of them as that will spoil the story) illegitimate children etc.  There are a lot of twists and turns in this story that it definately kept me on my toes.  

What I enjoyed the most about this story is the relationship between Grace and her sister Lily.  Because it has been just the both of them for such a long time, they have formed a bond that makes them want to fight to stay together and Grace taking the role of a mother figure.  Grace will do anything to make sure that her and her sister stay together.  This leads her, together with her sister, to work at a funeral home with a family called the Unwins, who are a lot more nasty than what they seem...  

A great historical fiction story about Victoria London.  The descriptions in this story was so great, when reading I felt like I was right in the story...  If you like historical fiction, I would highly recommend it.  If you have never tried historic fiction, this would be a great place to start...

Best wishes

Debs :-)
Continue reading Book Review - Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

27 Sept 2012

Book Review: My Last Blind Date by Susan Hatler

It’s Valentine’s Day and Rachel Price has a choice: Stay home and watch TV with her loveable doggy or let her best friend, Ellen, set her up on a blind date. What to do….

Ellen says the guy is a “10,” but the last guy she set her up with was a “–5.” Rachel’s been flirting with coworker Noah Peterson and she’s hoping he’s noticed. Then, she finds out Noah has big plans. Even worse, he advises Rachel to go on the blind date!

Should she play it safe and spend the Hallmark holiday with her loyal pooch, Chester, or risk another dating disaster by trying yet again for love?

Release Date:  4th February 2012
Source:  Copy Received from Author
Links:  Goodreads  /  Amazon.co.uk  /  Amazon.com  

My Review    10 out of 10

If you would like to see the video review, please see the end of this post.

I absolutely love love loved this short story from Susan Hatler.  Another delightful burst of uplifting romance that I could not put down. 

I immediately warmed to the main character, Rachel.  She is being set up on a blind date by her friend but is unsure whether she wants to go or not.  It isn't until she finds out that the guy she fancies at work has 'big plans' for Valentine's Day that she decides that she is not going to stay in.  

This short story has the perfect amount of romance and there were parts in this that made me giggle also...  

If you are after a short burst of romance and happiness, this is definately one to pick up...  Highly recommend it to all!

Best wishes

Debs :-)
Continue reading Book Review: My Last Blind Date by Susan Hatler

25 Sept 2012

Author Interview: J E Hall

J.E. Hall is the author of the romance mystery novel, Angie of the Garden.
Pick up your copy at Amazon:  Amazon Link - Click Here

About the Book:
Angie of the Garden is a story about a psychiatrist named Hollis Simms. He is an affable individual who is dedicated to his patients, and his family. Hollis is married to a provocative and wealthy woman named Olivia: their irrepressible teenage daughter is named Annabelle. She used her considerable resources to purchase the estate called Fairhaven for them to live in.
As a boy Hollis found a diary written by a woman named Angie Barton buried in a garden. The journal told of the hardships and deprivations suffered by the woman from Boston as she traveled on the Oregon Trail. She became his first love. One evening as Doctor Simms walked past a garden on the estate he encountered the spirit of Angie Barton. Hollis learns that she worked at Fairhaven as a house servant after returning from the west. He cannot fathom how this adventurous woman could have come to such a station in life. Hollis decides that Angie must have experienced some kind of trauma. During her subsequent appearances he entices her into recounting the long trek westward in order to discover the cause of her malaise.
Hollis’ obsession with the woman from the past also begins to strain his relationships with those closest to him. Hollis is determined to find the reason for Angie’s moribund spirit. In the end he does, and Angie finds peace. Then a chance encounter reveals something else about the woman in the garden.

If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 

John Irving. I’ve always enjoyed the characters he creates.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 

I usually spend an hour or two working in the evening. I work in my apartment.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
When I start to get on a roll and I find myself having to constantly stop to correct spelling and grammar. I shouldn’t complain considering how much of that is done automatically by word. But I will anyway.

When and why did you first start writing? 

About ten years ago. I had always intended to write, but in my twenties and thirties I was burning the candle at both ends as they say, and never found the time. Now I’m able to get into a routine, which is essential to finishing a novel.

How did you come up with the idea for the book ‘Angie of the Garden.’?

I wanted to write a story that involved a ghost. I took a trip one day to the Planting Fields Arboretum in Old Westbury. It’s a beautiful place with a wide variety of trees and plants. There’s a mansion on the grounds form the Gold Coast Era. I imagined a family living there today, and the father being a psychiatrist who encounters a troubled spirit. I tried to think of something that would make the ghost interesting. One day soon after I was searching for something on the internet (I don’t remember what it was) and came across an article about the Oregon Trail. I’ve always been interested in history, and I thought that having the ghost be a pioneer from the 1800s would make for an interesting story.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I used to be, but since I started writing I’ve used my free time to create my own stories. My favorite book (s) of all time is the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolken.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

My approach is to write the stories that occur to me, instead of taking in account what’s popular at the moment and trying to fashion something that will sell. It really depends on what your objectives are. If I write a good story that rings true to me I feel the time and effort was justified.
Continue reading Author Interview: J E Hall

Waiting on Wednesday: Touched by Corrine Jackson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly memo that is hosted by Breaking the Spine Blog.


Expected Release Date:   27th November 2012
(Release date obtained from Goodreads)

Goodreads link is here.

Remy O’Malley heals people with touch—but every injury she cures becomes her own. Living in a household with an abusive stepfather, she has healed untold numbers of broken bones, burns,and bruises. And then one night her stepfather goes too far.

Being sent to live with her estranged father offers a clean start and she is eager to take it. Enter Asher Blackwell. Once a Protector of Healers, Asher sacrificed his senses to become immortal. Only by killing a Healer can a Protector recover their human senses. Falling in love is against the rules between these two enemies. Because Remy has the power to make Protectors human again, and when they find out, they’ll becoming for her—if Asher doesn’t kill her first.

This is Book One in the Touched trilogy.
Continue reading Waiting on Wednesday: Touched by Corrine Jackson

23 Sept 2012

Book Review: Bringing the Summer by Julia Green

It’s the lazy end of summer and Freya is about to start her A levels. Her brother Joe died a year ago, but she is slowly coming to terms with his death. She is beginning to feel ready for something new – a change. And then a railway accident brings her into contact with the gorgeous Gabe. Freya is drawn not just to his blond good looks, but everything about him, including his large, shambolic, warm and loving family, which seems to Freya so different from her own.

And then Gabe’s clearly troubled older brother makes it clear he is interested in Freya – and Freya has some decisions to make about what she really wants.

Estimated Publication Date:  13th November 2012 (first published (10th May 2012)
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher
Links:  Goodreads  /  Amazon.co.uk  /  Amazon.com 

My Review:    8 out of 10           

I have to admit that I did want to read this one when summer was still here but unfortunately I did not get around to reading it until now.  This book does live and breath the summer.  We see the main character, Freya, whose family appear to be living on eggshells after the death of Freya brother.   Freya then meets Gabe, becomes friends and is introduced to his wonderful family, including his brother.  

I have to admit that although this book was very predictable, the part that I enjoyed the most about this story was the relationships between each of the characters and watching how they progress throughout the book.  The relationship with Gabe and Freya is definitely the backbone of this story to start with and then you have the introduction of Gabe's brother who comes in and for one reason or another changes the dynamic of the relationship between Gabe and Freya.  

I would highly recommend this, especially if you like chicklit and YA chick lit books.  This is definitely a fantastic summer read or beach/pool read if you are off on holiday somewhere sunny to get away from the autumn/winter seasons....

Best wishes

Debs :-)
Continue reading Book Review: Bringing the Summer by Julia Green

22 Sept 2012

Book Review - New Girl by Paige Harbison

"Welcome to Manderley Academy"I hadn't wanted to go, but my parents were so excited.... So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine's not the name on everyone's lips. Oh, no.

It's Becca Normandy they can't stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley--the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it's my fault that infallible, beloved Becca is gone and has been replaced by "not" perfect, completely fallible, unknown Me.

Then, there's the name on "my" lips--Max Holloway. Becca's ex. The one boy I should avoid, but can't. Thing is, it seems like he wants me, too. But the memory of Becca is always between us. And as much as I'm starting to like it at Manderley, I can't help but think she's out there, somewhere, watching me take her place.

Waiting to take it back.

Released:  31st January 2012
Source:  Netgalley Review
Links:     Goodreads  /  Amazon.co.uk  /  Amazon.com 

My Review:    6 out of 10

Definitely a very interesting book to read.  I do love to read stories about school lives, things that do not go according to plan and following someone's struggles in fitting into a new society.  Thinking that going to a new school and meeting new people is going to he hard enough, it turns out that the new girl has some large shoes to fill.    I did find it confusing that we never really found out the name of the new girl (unless there was something I missed in reading this story).   With Becca missing, all throughout reading the novel there is always the question of what really happened and whether any of the characters the new girl meets along the way had a hand in the disappearance and as I read more and more of this story, seeing more and more of a bigger picture of who Becca was and how larger than life character she was/is, it was more of a mystery about what happened to Becca.

I have to admit that there were points in the story were I felt the story dragged but I did enjoy finding out more about this mysterious Becca and discovering more pieces of the jigsaw as the story went on..

Best wishes 


Continue reading Book Review - New Girl by Paige Harbison

19 Sept 2012

Book Review: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child—and she likes it that way. After all, her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro’s parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can’t understand why her parents cut her sister so much slack, and why they’re not pushing for answers.

Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate Caro’s new boyfriend and put her on the outs with her friends and her parents, she seeks solace from an unexpected source. And when she unearths a clue about Hannah’s past—one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her—Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.

Release Date:  9th October 2012
Publisher:  Delacorte
Source:  Netgalley Review
Links:  Goodreads  /  Amazon.co.uk  /  Amazon.com   

My Review     10 out of 10

I do not usually read books that have a religious feel to it but every now and then I come across a story that just sounds so good I like to give it a try and this is one of those.  Religion does play a part in the story.  This is a very relaxing, slow paced story and I absolutely loved it!

At first, to be Caro appeared to have a very bad attitude towards her family but as the story went on I understood that it probably wasn't a bad attitude but rather like a reaction to her family dynamic.  She has been an only child for so long and not really knowing much about her sister and then having been told that her sister is coming back.  It must take some adjusting to change from a situation that she has been living for as long as she can remember.  Caro has a great set of supportive friends who help her come to terms with what is happening around her.  Caro's family are very controlling and demanding but, again, this is something I understood more as the story went on.

This story, for me, is very much about family dynamic and family secrets.   The most enjoyable part for me about this story is the dynamic between Caro and her sister, the way they react with each other when Hannah comes back to live at the family home and the way their relationship changes as they spend more and more time together.  Another part to the story alongside the family dynamic is the story of Hannah and her life before being away, her life while she was away and her life when she gets home.   This story was not what I was expecting but absolutely loved it.

A really great story about families, sisters and coming to terms with the past.  A fantastic book, I would highly recommend...

Best wishes

Debs :-)

Continue reading Book Review: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

Author Interview: Yannis Karatsioris

Yannis Karatsioris -real name-, Greek born and raised, is 29 years old and lives in Athens, Greece. He has already staged a play, published a fantasy novel in Greek and, after winning with The Book of the Forsaken the gold medal on HarperCollins' competition on authonomy.com, is now making his first steps in the publishing world out of Greece.
His tastes, dark and sarcastic, guide him to a style reminiscent of Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Jonathon Stroud and Mikhail Bulghakoff.


A sarcastic storyteller traps three characters in his web in order to get hold of a special book.

Daniel, Cassidy and Igor are three unique individuals, considered outcasts for different reasons. They are about to meet and stick together, as coincidences and forced situations lead them to a journey all around Europe.

As everyone is after the Book of the Forsaken, the coming Game is about to take place on the dark side of the moon. But there is a cost to that knowledge. Let alone to the wish to partake.

"The Book of the Forsaken" got the gold medal on authonomy.com's HarperCollins UK hosted competition on Feb 1. 2012.


If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
First off, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to talk about me and my work, Debra.
I would be willing to work with Raymond E. Feist for some epic, secondary world fantasy. And with Neil Gaiman for something gritty and contemporary.
Also, for other kinds of literature I’d work with yet unknown authors, with who I met online in literary sites –where one can find talent in tons.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I usually write at familiar environments. Home, that is. Or anything similar to a home. I usually write deep into the night, unless what I write is “happy” or a comedy.
A typical writing day is something that doesn’t exist for me yet… Not much else to say about that. I don’t have a routine, and I don’t think I can have. My background includes playwriting and acting, which more often than not means I will be walking around the house saying phrases of characters in my novels or just playing them in my head. Walking around the house is optional.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Sometimes, after I’ve played a scene in my mind, and after I feel content with the outcome, I feel bored that I have to write it down for others… I know, right? This feeling, that when I write, I have to deal with the same scene, in a slower manner than how it runs in my head, can bring my forehead on the table and leave it there for hours.

When and why did you first start writing?
I wrote my first short story in Greek when I was seventeen. My first novel again in Greek when I was twenty-three (The Abyss Wars, available in English as well).
The first short story was written out of emotional necessity. I was in love. I haven’t written anything romance since. It won a national award some years after. The first novel was written out of mental necessity, I couldn’t stand the plot and the characters, and I somehow had to put something together. It got no award however.

How did you come up with the idea for the your book?
I was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. In “The Book of the Forsaken”, first part of “The Game” series, I wanted to take the idea of old gods living among us a step further. What would they manifest as? What would their interests/ friends/ habits/ be? What plan do they serve since they are not the gods we believe in anymore?
It’s not religion though! Urban fantasy, or as a reviewer put it “supernatural dark comedy”.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Yes! Very much so.
When I’m not reading and reviewing unpublished work, I indulge myself in some good contemporary fantasy or historical fiction. I’d like to think I’ll find good high/epic fantasy someday again.
Right now I’m reading Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Yes, stupidly so, I have.
Read a lot, there’s no other way to know where you stand and what is old or new out there.
Write whenever you feel like writing, not whenever other say you have to. “Having to” leads us to imitation, to mass production.

Continue reading Author Interview: Yannis Karatsioris

18 Sept 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly memo that is hosted by Breaking the Spine Blog.


Expected Release Date:  13th November 2012
(Release date obtained from Goodreads)

Goodreads link is here.

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
Continue reading Waiting on Wednesday: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

15 Sept 2012

Book Review - The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

Jake's father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger ...

The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Venn is not alone in wanting to use its powers. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn's estate: Sarah - a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne - who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. 

There are others, a product of the mirror's power to twist time. And a tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. But of them all, Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.
Release Date:  4th October 2012
Publisher:  Hodder
Source:  Review Copy Received from Publisher
Links:  Goodreads  /  Amazon.co.uk  /  Amazon.com           

My Review     8 out of 10

To view the video review, please see the end of this post...

Anything that features time travel definately has my full attention and from the moment I read the blurb for this book, I was so excited to pick it up. 

Jake is the main character in this story.  He is a trouble maker at school to the point where he gets expelled and has to return to Wintercome Abbey.  Little does anyone know, this was his plan all along.  Jake believes that Oberion murdered his father, who had got missing recently.  Sarah in another character who appears mysteriously at Wintercome Abbey...

I did feel that the middle of the story dragged a bit and I was waiting for something to happen but it soon picked up and I absolutely loved the ending.  It has an amazing twist...   

Best wishes

Continue reading Book Review - The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

13 Sept 2012

Author Interview with Sandy Nathan + Kindle Fire Giveaway (Giveaway not hosted by me)

If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 

Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander Series, which starts out with the time-traveling nurse from post-WWII meeting the gorgeous Scottish hunk. I love her work. I’ve read the entire Outlander Series twice and am beginning on round # 3. These are 800 page or more novels, and maybe eight of them exist.

I think she’s a wonderful writer. Her historical depictions and research are impeccable. Her characters are beyond memorable, and her locations are compelling. She ranges all over the time span from Revolutionary times to the late 1960s. Also, she’s sold more books than anybody but Stephen King. And she’s smart: she has a PhD and was a scientist. She’s just signed a deal to have Outlander made into a TV mini-series like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

If I worked with her, maybe it would rub off. All of it.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 

So much is involved in the production and marketing of books that “typical” and “normal” and “ordinary” get thrown out the window. I have six books in print now. Writing time has become precious.

I write whenever I can. Knocking out four or five hours of writing every morning would be nice, but my life seldom seems to allow that. I have responsibilities to our family business as well as my writing. My horse and I also have an agreement that I will keep her properly exercised.

Here’s a glimpse into the way I’m forced to write:

Not very long ago, I was wailing away at Mogollon, my visionary thriller about a Native American retreat and the sequel to my first novel, Numenon. I was making great progress rewriting the draft I’ve had on my hard drive for twenty or so years. I’d final broken the writer’s block that had strangled me for years. Not only were the plot threads coming together, material for Mogollon’s sequel was popping into my head.

Then I had to go to New Mexico to work on an exhausting, but necessary, family business venture. I was there almost a month with my husband, working like a mad creature. I had a computer, but no writing time.

In New Mexico, I did complete two very successful “KDP free book days” with Amazon for two of my books, as I noted above. It was fun seeing The Angel arrayed next to George R.R. Martin’s books on the Sci-fi Adventure page. The only difference between us was that he got paid.

To get those results, I didn't just toss off a note to my Facebook friends. I contacted every relevant on-line group, club, discussion thread, my entire 9,700 strong contingent of followers on Twitter, everyone I’d heard of on Facebook, my personal mailing list, and everyone else I knew. It worked, but I couldn’t write while I was doing all the above.

All that time, I was burning to write. A scene from the sequel to Mogollon was banging inside my skull. I thought about it in the shower, going to sleep, and every other moment. I had to write it or explode.

I thought I’d be able to write one afternoon, a draft maybe—anything to give me relief from the creative pressure. Unfortunately, an extremely talkative fix-it person came and would not leave. Sayonara writing time.

Add to all that the fact that I was starting a blog tour and sheets with interview questions had been sent to me from various blogs, I was “a one-armed paper hanger with a fire on the stairs,” as my dad used to say. If I couldn’t write that scene, I felt like my head would blow up.

A few weeks later and back in California, I was able to write the scene. Bliss! It came out exactly the way I imagined it. Apparently, being dammed up for a while doesn’t hurt my prose, only me. The next new scene is forming, as I begin a three-month blog tour requiring a new post almost every day. See you later, writing time. This time, maybe my head will explode.

When I write at home, my computer is in the middle of the family room. This is a really bad place, since everyone hangs out there and they don’t want to be quiet so I can write. So I get crabby. Once I really get into writing, it’s OK. I could write under a railroad track when I’m absorbed.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 

Getting the time for it. Once I had the luxury of spending whole days writing. I wrote 26 pages in a day once, a lifetime record. I was burning with creativity. Now marketing and peripheral things take big bites. In addition to the stuff I listed above, I’m trying to get my website spiffed up and create a new website for the Tales from Earth’s End, the series that The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy is part of. That’s my old blog, linked above. I find myself thinking things like, “What’s SEO? Why do I need it?” That’s part of being a modern writer.

I wish I had a week carved out so I could just pound the keys of my keyboard and have fun. I could probably finish the sequel to Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, my thriller about the richest man on earth meeting a great Native American shaman.

When and why did you first start writing? 

I started writing full time in 1995. Before that, I wrote academically and professionally. I used to write letters and people receiving them would respond, “Oh. That’s so colorful. I feel like I’m there.” I knew I had talent, but didn’t have any idea how much work I needed to do to become an adequate writer, much less a professional one.

I’ve seen published works by people who are hot-shot professionals in some other field, economics, say. It’s terrible writing. To really write, a prospective author has to learn to write. May sound simplistic, but it’s not.

In 1995, I joined a writing group led by a local poet and literature teacher. I was in that group for nine years until it petered out. Then I joined a writing group led by a full professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He held a PhD in English Literature and had eight or nine publications from major publishing houses. Most of the people in the group were traditionally published authors.

That group was brisk. The critiques ripped to the core. It was painful to traumatic to be in the group, but I learned more in two years there than nine years of the other group. Hearing twelve people rip my work became hard to take. Now I use a terrific editor who gives as tough critiquing as the professor’s group, it’s just not so hard to take. I’ve worked with her about six years.

The why of my writing is handled in the following questions. It’s a form of healing myself and going deeper into my psyche than I can go any other way.

Note that while I talk about mystical experience and receiving the inspiration for books very quickly, I’ve been working on my writing techniques with pros for seventeen years. My writing ability is something that I’ve worked to attain.

How did you come up with the idea for the book The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

Here’s the very long answer:

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy is about a young couple and their friends facing the destruction of all life on earth through a nuclear holocaust. It has been described as follows:

New York City on the Eve of Nuclear Armageddon, Late 22nd Century—Perhaps
Tomorrow morning at 7:35 AM, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: Jeremy Edgarton, a 16-year-old tech genius and revolutionary; and Eliana, the angelic, off-world traveler sent to Earth on a mission to prevent her planet's death.

Join Eliana and Jeremy as they begin a quest to save two doomed planets . . . and find each other.

There’s a story behind the story. I unintentionally practice what I call “literature through disaster.” When something awful happens to me, my subconscious seems to jump in and transform my pain into a book or a series of books. My first novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, came from the resolution of a very painful personal calamity. A few years ago, another exceptionally painful event occurred. My brother died. He was my beloved baby brother and only sibling. Outwardly, I looked calm, but inside I was screaming with grief.

About three months after my brother died, I had a dream in which a shimmering golden light floated above me as I slept. That light was totally conscious, totally alive, and beautiful in every way. It radiated peace and good will. As I slept, I felt it lower itself upon me. The bliss was indescribable. The light continued to descend until it became me, merging with me fully. I got to feel the inner state of an angel. (Did I tell you I like meditation and spiritual practice and have very dramatic spiritual experiences? I’ve had them most of my life.)

When the experience of golden light faded, a book rattled around in my head. My unconscious mind morphed the angelic presence of the dream into Eliana, the exquisite dancer from another world who comes to Earth to save her planet. She appeared in my mind as a waif materializing on the sidewalk of a New York street in the late 22nd century.

Within four or five days, the major outlines of the book became clear to me. They seem to pop through a membrane separating the known world from the vast inner world of creativity and imagination. The character Jeremy is based on my brother. Jeremy in the book may not be much of a likeness to my real brother, but he is my brother in my soul’s eye. I don’t know where the other characters came from.

I do know the origin of the setting and socio-economic aspects of the book. In The Angel, the world is a police state, civilization has disintegrated, and nuclear Armageddon is on the horizon. It’s not a cheery place, and it shouldn’t be.

At the same time that one part of me was grieving for my brother, another part of my psyche was scared silly over the state of the global economy. For many years, I made my living as an economist. I hold a BA and MA in economics, worked on a PhD, and was economic analyst for Santa Clara County. (That’s the southern part of Silicon Valley in California.) Our economy is in very bad shape. We need to work together to solve the problems or something like what’s depicted in The Angel may happen.

Historical precedent exists. There’s a parallel between the milieu of The Angel and what happened after WWI in Europe. Making a complex story ridiculously simple, Germany lost WWI. The Allies demanded reparations from them for the damage the country did during the war. The Treaty of Versailles granted the Allies the right to collect reparations. They did so and Germany fell apart.

People were starving. Society was falling apart. Toss in the Great Depression and you had an invitation for a dictator and strongman to take over. One did—Adolf Hitler. The rise of Hitler and the Nazi movement occurred in large part because of Germany’s post-WWI economic disaster.

In The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, the fictitious Tsar Yuri takes over as the world staggers from a massive depression, which begins with the financial melt-down of 2008. The end state of The Angel begins in our time, as the recovery from the current Great Recession stalls.

Do I believe what’s portrayed in the book could actually happen? No. But something like it could. Everything that happens in the book—people disappearing of off the streets, torture, illegal surveillance, the government not telling the truth, hidden military action, and more—is happening somewhere on the globe now.

One of the reviewers said that The Angel occurred in “a future world only heartbeats from our own,” which is why he found it so disturbing.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now? 

I read all the time. My guilty pleasure is waiting for Pixel of Ink every day and downloading free books. I now have over 400 on my Kindle.

I just finished Backpacked by Catherine Ryan Howard. Hilarious trip that Catherine took across Central America with a friend. She really shouldn’t backpack.

Right now I’m reading Hush by Eises Chayil. I haven’t got totally into it, but it’s about a young Orthodox Jewish girl who sees some horrific thing and can’t talk about it in her community.

Before that, I read The Blasphemer by John Ling. This is a thriller about undercover agents attempting to guard a famous Islamic professor whose latest book has Islamic militants wanting him dead. Super fast paced. I think the author is either from New Zealand. Or Australia. Maybe South Africa. I dunno. Very good book.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

  1. Learn to write.
  2. I mean really learn to write. I was in two writing groups for a total of eleven years before my first book came out. Despite that, I didn’t really know what I was doing until I . . .
  3. Got a fantastic content editor. I made mistakes in my early books because no one was tough enough to say, “Look, Sandy, it doesn’t work. It’s too long. Needs . . . everything.” My current editor has the editorial skills to rip and shred a manuscript without mercy. She also has the personal skills to tell me what needs to go without devastating me. My writing gets better because I carry my editor in my head saying, “That doesn’t move the action forward.”
  4. Run your book past your content editor a couple more times. I usually do three passes. Do you know what a content editor is? That’s the person I was talking about above. The content editor looks at the overall flow of the manuscript, pacing, plotting, character development, and “removing unnecessary words,” to quote the Chicago Manual of Style.
  5. Get a really good copy editor and proofreader and let them loose on your edited manuscript. The copy editor fixes glitches in English, checks that the character has the same number of kids throughout, that his wife and other characters have the right names. Proofreading concerns spelling, typos, and other glitches.
  6. Maybe give your manuscript two passes with the copy editor and proofreader. Or three. No such thing as too much proofing.

My advice is the same whether you self-publish (do all the work of publishing yourself and finance it) or try to be published traditionally (where you get a literary agent to sign you on. The agent sells your work to a publisher, who publishes it. And you and the agent get paid. Eventually.)

Self-publishing has been looked down upon by traditional publishing forever. “If you’re a good writer, the major publishers will publish your work. If you do it yourself, you’re a lousy writer.”

This attitude is changing somewhat, as some self-publishers sell millions of copies and become fat cats. Here’s a secret: If you do really well self-publishing, agents will come to you. You don’t even have to be a very good writer, you just have to sell.

If you write what’s in your heart, what expresses your values, know how to write, and the manuscript is proofed properly, “They will come.”

They do.

On the other hand, if you self publish, you will work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you decide to self-pub, do it right. Make your eBook something you can be proud of and that reviewers won’t trash. This is a large project. You can look at the blog role on Your Shelf Life, my blog for writers, for resources. All the technical people I use for my books are on it.

That’s my best advice.

About Sandy Nathan:
Sandy Nathan writes to amaze and delight, uplift and inspire, as well as thrill and occasionally terrify. She is known for creating unforgettable characters and putting them in do or die situations. She writes in genres ranging from science fiction, fantasy, and visionary fiction to juvenile nonfiction to spirituality and memoir.
I write for people who like challenging, original work. My reader isn’t satisfied by a worn-out story or predictable plot. I do my best to give my readers what they want.”
Mrs. Nathan’s books have won twenty-two national awards, including multiple awards from oldest, largest, and most prestigious contests for independent publishers. Her books have earned rave critical reviews and customer reviews of close to five-star averages on Amazon. Most are Amazon bestsellers.
Sandy was born in San Francisco, California. She grew up in the hard-driving, achievement orientated corporate culture of Silicon Valley. Sandy holds Master’s Degrees in Economics and Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. She was a doctoral student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and has been an economic analyst, businesswoman, and negotiation coach, as well as author.
Mrs. Nathan lives with her husband on their California ranch. They bred Peruvian Paso horses for almost twenty years. She has three grown children and two grandchildren.
You can visit her website at www.sandynathan.com.
Visit her blogs: http://sandranathan.net and http://yourshelflife.com (blog for writers)  http://talesfromearthsend.com (series blog)
Follow her on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/sandyonathan
To purchase a paperback copy of Sandy Nathan’s The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Brown-eyed-Boy-Sandy-Nathan/dp/0976280906
About The Angel and the Brown-eyed Boy:
Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: A teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler.
By the late 22nd century, the Great Recession of the early 2000s has lead to a worldwide police state. A ruined United States barely functions. Government control masks chaos, dissenters are sent to camps, and technology is outlawed. War rages while the authorities proclaim the Great Peace.
Finally it all breaks down. We’re in New York City on the eve of nuclear Armageddon. In the morning, ultimate destructive forces will wipe out all life on earth. Only Jeremy Edgarton, a 16-year-old, tech genius and revolutionary; and Eliana, the angelic, off-world traveler sent to Earth on a mission to prevent her planet’s death, can save the world.  Join Eliana and Jeremy as they begin a quest to save two doomed planets … and find each other.
Winner of Four National Awards:
●        2011 IPPY (Independent Press) Award Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction.
●        2011 Indie Excellence Award in Visionary Fiction (Winner of Catergory)
●        Best Books of 2011, USA Book News:
  1. Winner, New Age Fiction
  2. Finalist Fantasy/Sci-Fi
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