Books I & II of The Lova Chronicles is available now!

The Lova Chronicles kicked off with The Earthen Shroud in August 2013!

Want Your Book to Read Like a Movie?

Check out my book trailer and see how I did it!

Author Book Signing

I've only done this once, but I had the time of my life! You can too; see how.

Food-Inspired Art

Check out my guest post on Notebook Blogairy about how food inspires my writing.

Pages From My Diary

I started a new blog series: awesome, intimate, legendary.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: J T Baroni

Thank you for joining us for another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's guest is my good friend J.T. Baroni.  He has written an amazing horror novel by the name of The Legend of Rachel Petersen.  I was given the honor of reviewing the book, so what a fitting way to start our Halloween...

Welcome, Jim!  Let's get right to it.  Your main character is Christian Kane, a journalist who writes a novel about a creepy ghost girl after being inspired by a cemetery tombstone.  Needless to say, I'm seeing quite a few similarities between you and your character.  Were these references intentional or mistakenly transposed?

Being an avid outdoorsman, I had stumbled upon a lone grave in the middle of the woods, and thought to myself, “How strange! Why did this person end up out here?” Talk about inspiration! A story immediately came to mind, which I was compelled to write.

Now, if you read the blurb on my book, “Outraged when The Pittsburgh Post Gazette overlooks him for a promotion, 39 years old Sports Writer Christian Kane quits and moves to the country to write fiction. Inspiration flows from a grave he stumbles upon in the woods. Driven, he compiles The Legend of Rachel Petersen, a fascinating and horrific story revolving around the dead twelve-year-old girl laid to rest beneath the weathered tombstone. His book quickly becomes a best seller, which Hollywood then turns in to a blockbuster movie. Kane becomes rich and famous, but does Rachel Petersen become more than a figment of his imagination?”

You will see these references were definitely not a coincidence.

The Legend of Rachel Petersen is an incredible blend of humor and suspense, a rare talent for sure. How do you achieve this?

 By using everyday occurrences, I strived to make this novel touch on every one of the reader’s emotions, feelings, and senses. I want readers to feel Kane’s anger when he was not granted the well-deserved promotion, and to feel the love between the Kanes.

This happily married couple has a sense of humor, so I also wanted a few chuckles, for an example, when the choking partygoer coughed up the stuffed mushroom appetizer that bounced off Shelby’s forehead. While on the other hand, readers will wince at the maggot-infested, gut-wrenching stinking rotting corpse, while wondering when Rachel will show her evil little face next.

Most writers fit into one of two categories: pantsers, who write only when inspired by an idea (and are typically identified by a desk covered in post-its) or plotters, who tend to organize their thoughts and story lines in well-graphed notebooks or bulleted Word files.  Which best describes your style?

My writing style would be a ‘plotting pantser’, minus any post-its or notebooks. I keep it all in my head, when inspiration makes me write. I don’t use an outline; instead, I write a few pages and then I edit that, and then I write some more pages and re-edit every word from the start. Each time I sit down to write, I usually start reading and editing from the beginning of the book until I’m at least five chapters into it.

I also like to envision my story mentally as if I’m watching a movie, and then I do my best to describe the scenes and characters by putting words to paper.

The movie thing resonates with me; I do that, too!  You mentioned your book took a year and a half to pen. Was that length of time due to research, and what else lengthened your writing time?

Having a daytime job is a huge, but necessary, burdening obstacle in this starving artist’s life! Add to that, a family, a dog, gardening, hunting and fishing; all take time away from the typewriter.

Not only did I research The Civil War for correct dates and places, I found it necessary to go online and brush up on my grammar and punctuation skills. The Legend of Rachel Petersen is the first book I have ever written, and I have been out of school for three and a half decades. I had forgotten what a dangling participle was.

Writing this novel is one more item scratched from my bucket list.

A portion of your book proceeds go to Leader Dogs for the Blind. I know that charity is dear to you; can you tell our readers more about that?

I am donating a portion of my book’s proceeds to The Leader Dogs for the Blind, located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. This organization has been training Leader Dogs and sponsoring them to blind people, free of charge, since 1939, and they have achieved this amazing feat all from donations. The reason I want to donate to Leader Dogs is because my older brother, Gene, blind since birth, is currently on his third canine companion. In addition, I am the Vice President with the local Lions International Club.

I know all too well, both their generosity and the impact of their invaluable services. Furthering that statement, I also understand first handedly how strongly the visually impaired faithfully depend, trust, and rely on their dogs, whereas Gene is on his third leader dog.

Thanks to everyone who helps support my cause! Raising a puppy to Leader Dog status is extremely expensive, averaging forty five thousand dollars per sponsored dog.

Thanks for joining us, Jim!

I would also like to give a big hug and a thank you to Raynetta for reviewing my book and having me as a guest on her beautiful blog!

RJS Book Review
I was a little nervous about reviewing The Legend of Rachel Petersen, typically because I tend not to like horror books.  Unless you're Stephen King, they're just not scary.  If I'm going to bother picking up a genre book, it had better deliver what that genre should--for horror books, I want to be scared.  It's a simple as that.
Let's just say Rachel Petersen delivered--in a BIG way.  There were significant moments in the book where I literally jumped.  Baroni's imagery is so vivid that you found yourself right there with the characters, running from a phantom through the woods or desperately brushing crawling bugs from your body.  The suspense was phenomenally breath-taking, and I had several moments where I took a note from Joey [on Friends] and hid my e-reader in the freezer.
If I had one criticism, it would be that the story drags in the middle.  There's a lot of set-up once Rachel's story is introduced.  And since the novel is a story within a story within a story, I really had to pace myself to keep up.
4/5 suns: This book was a page turner for sure!

You can find J.T. at the following links:
You can find J.T.'s books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book-to-Movie Classics: Think Like a Man

I'm going to start this blog by being honest and admitting I own a copy of Steve Harvey's first book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.  I'll go so far as to say I've owned it for awhile.  I will go a step further and say it was a fascinating read.  Any insight into what is ordinarily a very guarded male mind is a welcomed foray.  As a now single woman, fresh off a 10-year relationship gone horribly wrong, and back on the dating scene, I found that a lot of Steve's comments, while they seem common sense, are things I, and many of my girlfriends, were clueless about were it not for the book.  Every woman has that girlfriend who sleeps with guys on the first date, or the super successful elitist who thinks the bank account makes the man.  There are even those of us who simply believe in love (that's me) and tend to try to make everything into a fairy tale.  Truth be told (and I've confirmed this with some guy friends), Steve got it right, and if women understood how guys love and communicate, we'd be less likely to hold on much too long to the bad relationships and throw away the good.
Steve discusses many aspects about dating that seem or feel taboo to many women.  For instance, how soon is too soon to introduce him to my children?  How long should I wait to be physically intimate?  Why do men cheat?  Do men really want to fall in love?  The answers to these questions are practical and real, albeit not always what you're expecting.  A lot of the answers to those burning questions are "Because we can."  Infuriating, right?  But what was more fascinating to me was the empowerment Steve infuses into this book.  The answer is infuriating because you find that you are the reason they can; we put up with it.  And if that individual man knew he couldn't get away with that with you, he wouldn't try.  He'd either leave you alone altogether or come correct.  Steve points out the insecurity most women have: the fear of being alone.  And any assertion we have that threatens to scare a man off breeds a desperation within us that screams, "Where will I find another one?"  Steve reassures us that there are good men out there--if we bother focusing our attention on our own self-esteem and demanding for ourselves the respect and love we deserve.
This mantra continues into the adapted movie, Think Like a Man.  In a star-studded cast, Think Like a Man delivers humor and true sentiment in a BIG way.  I must say, Kevin Hart steals the show.  The only divorcing man in the group of men featured, his comedically bitter perspective of relationships on the other side of love is both endearing and real.  Of course, there's enough chocolate on both sides in this movie: the cast is stacked with some of the most prominent African-American actors in the industry, each bringing their own style and charisma to the screen.  While the archetypes in this film cover broad generalizations--like "Mama's Boy vs Single Mom"--each actor brings a natural atypical personification to their roles.
I was wonderfully entertained!  I must admit, I didn't expect to like this movie.  I thought it would be another generic black romantic comedy.  I've gotten a bit desensitized to the "happily ever after" endings of rom-coms (seeing as the only one I ever saw that didn't end that way was The Break-up, the ending of which was oddly dissatifying!).  But, despite the way it ended, I was incredibly captivated.  It was a laugh-out-loud good time, and everything I wanted from a romantic comedy.  You'll be hard pressed to find a man willing to watch it with you (haha!), but the national rating is a 9 out of 10.
5/5 suns: The movie is an entertaining watch regardless of where you are in your relationship, but the book is a must-read road map for the single woman.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Ahmad Taylor

Thanks for joining us!  Today's guest is Ahmad Taylor, a 36 year old budding sci-fi thriller author and former NYC police officer from Brookly, NY.  Ahmad gave me the honor of reviewing his  bestselling, award-winning debut novel, Dark Side of the Moon, which is also pending a sequel some time this fall.  Welcome, Ahmad!

Can you tell us about your latest work, the sequel Darker Side of the Moon?

In Darker Side of the Moon, former agent Derrick Thomas’s journey to save his family and uncover the truth about a secret government program using violent criminals for slave labor continues. Derrick awakens at a secret government facility on the surface of the Moon in more trouble than he could have ever imagined. He finds himself in the middle of a prisoner revolt and his family still missing and feared dead; oh, and the least of his problems is his missing left hand. After rescuing the hostages of the lunar site, Derrick follows a lead that takes him back to Earth to track down his family and attempt to take down the leader of ARCA, the clandestine government agency which has been performing unconscionable experiments on unwitting test subjects for more than 40 years.

Wow, that sounds exciting!  Okay, so if your book became a movie, who do you see playing your main characters?

From page one of DSOM, I always imagined the two main characters, Derrick and Jeanie Thomas, being played by Will Smith and Paula Patton. Just a combo I think would really work on screen.

What projects can we expect from you in the future?

While there is a third book in the Dark Side series, I plan to take a break from [that] for a moment and work on a few individual works:

• Crime novel about a bank heist gone awry;
• Suspense/Thriller about a futuristic society where people use clones to commit horrific crimes with total legal impunity, until…
• Drama about a vampire who shows readers the sad irony of being immortal.

Those are just a few of the tales I have in my pipeline. I have a few more, including a mega series that will probably take me the better part of a decade to construct.

That's a pretty full plate.  Do you have any advice for other writers?

Determine whether you can truly do this for the rest of your life. It is such a great rush creating something new and original, and while the dream of being a famous and successful author producing quality literature seems very enticing, the reality is that there are few to no overnight successes in the literary arena, and if you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to plug away during the hard times, then you will find this a hard path to follow.

That being said, if you truly love writing, don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way. There is no greater satisfaction than proving yourself worthy and your critics wrong.

 RJS Book Review
Dark Side of the Moon is about Derrick Thomas, a 28-year-old government agent, who finds himself caught up in a whirlwind mystery of intrigue and covert, top-secret intel--only to find that his father and sister are somehow dangling at the center of it.  This book has all the things you love about a great sci-fi story: futuristic weapons, engaging fight scenes, government cover-ups and an extensive list of dead bodies.  The twists and turns this novel takes are inventive and intricate as the plot builds from one discovery to the next.
But Dark Side doesn't open this strong.  I was often confused by the flashbacks and their relevance, and Taylor takes awhile (almost a hundred pages) to bring the reader to the real plot of the story.  There was quite a bit of jumping around in the opening chapters of the novel, and I had trouble getting my footing in the plot lines because of it.
Don't let that discourage you, though; once Dark Side picks up, it doesn't let go.  And the ending delivers a great big WTF, leaving you panting for the pending sequel.

3.5/5 suns: The first hundred pages almost killed it for me, but I'm glad I persevered.

You can find Ahmad at the following links:

Twitter: @AhmadDarkside
Darkside Blog:

You can find Ahmad's book(s) at the following links:


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Allison Merritt

Thank you for joining us for another installment of Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's guest is Allison Merritt, a seasoned romance novelist with a bunch of great books already under her belt.  Join us as she discusses her latest book, The Sky Pirate's Wife.

Tell us about yourself, Allison.

I’ve always been a serious reader, so it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I wanted to be an author as well. I’m from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri where I live with my husband and our dogs. Hiking and photography are two of my passions besides writing.

What first attracted you to this genre?

The first time I saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I was in college and I didn't really grasp the whole “steampunk” idea, but I loved the movie. I watched it again while I was writing a historical romance, and I said, “I could write a book like that!” So the Legends and Lovers Series was born from watching movies like LXG, Van Helsing, Jonah Hex, and Disney's Treasure Planet might have had a little something to do with it. I started reading Cheri Priest's Clockwork Century series and following other steampunk authors so I could get a better grasp of the genre.

Tell us about your latest work.  Can you share a little of it with us?

The Sky Pirate's Wife is the second book in the Legends and Lovers Series. The hero, Captain Alwin van Buren, is one of the secondary characters from The Treasure Hunter's Lady. I couldn't get him to leave me alone, so he got his own book, which sparked the idea for a series.

After a tragic airship wreck, Captain Alwin van Buren makes a drastic decision to obtain a wealthy bride in order to save his flagging business. He meets his match in Sophie Barnes, heiress to an airship empire. After he seduces her and ensures their marriage—igniting a rivalry with her godfather—he learns the green-eyed beauty is as headstrong as he is.

Sophie knows Van Buren's reputation based on a series of dime novels written about his adventures. Determined to be more than an end to a means, she despises him for luring her into marriage. In fiction, he's a no-nonsense captain on the verge of piracy, but the flesh-and-blood man wins her heart by proving she's worth more to him than her money.

Their love is threatened when Sophie learns Van Buren's airship accident was a result of mythical creatures. Winged predators that appear to have a grudge against him, a fact he deliberately hid by accusing her godfather of sabotage. If she can forgive him for that, they still have to face the danger when they're cornered and at the mercy of beasts and the evil that controls them.

How did you come up with the title?

I'm really terrible at titles. I actually came up with The Sky Pirate's Wife while I was writing The Treasure Hunter's Lady. I thought, if the heroine of that novel would just fall in love with the airship captain, I'd call it The Sky Pirate's Wife. So it was actually that title that led to the title for the first novel.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

The hero came first for this book. Alwin van Buren is a Dutch airship captain. In the series, when I first started writing, it was set in Australia and the country was claimed by the Dutch in the early 1700's. When I changed the setting to America, I didn't mess with Van Buren's background. As for the plot, I tried to think of what would ruin an airship captain. The perfect solution was an attack by paranormal birds that seem bent on destroying him. It almost leads to the ruination of his company. In order to get money, I decided he needed to marry an heiress. Sophie came into the picture, the naïve about business and love.

As for the bird, which one of the characters labels thunderbirds, I did research and found out that there are a lot of reports of people seeing birds too big to be real flying around, particularly in the Midwest. There seem to be a lot of people who know someone who knows someone whose second cousin twice removed had a pet or child picked up by a giant bird.

What do you love about independent publishing?

I'm a control freak. I love that I decide when to release the book, I have all the say in the covers, I can give away as many copies as I want in contests or for review. It works out very well as a hands-on experience.

What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I'm not terribly picky. I adore YA fiction, and I'd say that probably my main genre for reading, but romance is running a close second. I'm not a big fan of Regency, but most of the others I'll pick up, particularly if it contains hot cowboys. I'm a huge Dean Koontz fan, especially the Odd Thomas series.

What projects can we expect from you in the future?

Around the first of August I finished the third book in the Legends and Lovers series, so I think that will be an early spring release. I'm working on the fourth book right and I have some pretty solid ideas for the fifth one, which I'm fairly certain will be the last in the series. After that, I have a great idea for a paranormal historical romance.

What do you believe contributes to making a writer successful?

Joining a writing group or a critique group and finding beta readers. I'm very introverted, so making friends is hard for me, but I've been fortunate enough to find some writing friends both online and offline who support me. They understand my success and my failures. I've also been lucky enough to have family support. It's important that people believe in you.

What are some of your favorites (foods, color, musicians)?

Favorite food – lemon meringue pie without the meringue.
Favorite color – green
Favorite musicians (because I can't just pick one) – Shinedown, The Fray, Lady Antebellum
Favorite TV show – M*A*S*H

Do you have (a) muse(s)?  If so, what are they like?

I call my muse Leif. He's a really hairy little guy who's too fond of alcohol, would rather be sunbathing in a boat on the ocean, and doesn't put up with the Evil Internal Editor. When he's in the mood to talk, he has amazing ideas.
Thanks for joining us, Allison!

You can find Allison at the following links:

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –
Google Plus – &

You can find Allison's exceptional books at the following links:



Monday, October 8, 2012

Scheduling: Mischief Managed

In a previous blog post, fresh off my new "success" with The Grim, I found myself swamped: my indie author life in one hand, my personal life in the other.  My two babies (my novel and son) could not seem to agree; each wanted my time all to themselves.  I found that success, on both fronts, would come from some good ol' Steve Harvey advice.

A viewer/listener had asked Steve how he managed to be so successful.  Besides prayer and fairness, Steve confessed his secret was scheduling: he plans every hour of his day.  Even if he is just watching television, he knows for exactly how long he's going to do that, and he never wastes an hour, from the time he gets up until he lays down.  I took this information to heart, and for you busy indie authors out there, I think this will help you, too.

If you're like me, you have a full plate.  You're trying to write, blog, maintain social media sites (and there can be quite a few of those), promote and hone your craft all at the same time.  And that's just your author schedule.  First, create a list of all the things you need to do as an author, and make a second list for your responsibilities at home.  Find a pocket appointment calendar (or, in this technological age, make use of your smartphone or tablet scheduler) and divvy up your time.  Here's some tips on setting your schedule.

1. Assign a specific day for larger tasks.  Some things just take a lot of time to do.  Give these time-consuming tasks a large block once a week for efficient management.  For instance, I write all my blogs on Tuesday mornings.  I make a list of all the blogs I want to write that day, and block off my entire morning, from 7:30 until 12:30, to get them written.  I don't do anything else but write blogs during that block of time (that includes taking anything other than emergency phone calls).  Whatever blogs that do not get written in that block of time get scheduled for the following Tuesday.  If you know a large task is going to build up on you if you wait a week (like say, emails), schedule smaller intervals daily to stay on top it.

2. Be realistic about how long things take, and leave room for commutes.  I have "School Pick-up" on my schedule for the days I have to get my son from school.  So my schedule also allows for my travel time to the school and the time I am in que.  However, the que line for dismissal is a long wait; I make use of this down time by scheduling "Read for Book Review" in the twenty minutes I'm waiting for school to let out.

3. Schedule some leisure.  Block out time frames to do things you enjoy (other than writing), and plan daily family time.  All work and no play can make anyone a grouch.

4. Write, daily.  You are a writer.  You cannot be a successful writer if you do not find time to write.  Know yourself and the time it takes for you to get focused and churn out material.  For me, I know I spend at least 30 minutes rereading my previous material and about 30 minutes dawdling for ideas.  I block off at least two (2) hours of writing time a day; that way I know at least one hour was productive.

5. Be flexible.  We all have those last minute upsets that throw our whole day off.  You had planned to write before you started dinner, but Mikey threw up at school so now you have to go get him and the rest of your afternoon will be spent in the emergency room.  Bend with the events, but be sure to reschedule whatever you had planned that day so that everything gets done.  Life throws us curve balls; that doesn't mean we have to strike out.

It will seem like a lot at first until you get the hang of working from a schedule, but I've been doing it for several months now, and I've never felt so organized and motivated.  The only days I'm truly overwhelmed are the curve ball days--and let's face it, they happen.  So if you're tired of the ticking time bomb, even if you're not an author, try this method.  And be sure to let me know how it works for you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Anna Patricio

Thank you for joining us on another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's Spotlight author is Anna Patricio, a debut historical fiction author from Australia.  She took Early Christian and Jewish Studies in college as well as Egyptology.  Her love for the cultures of the Middle East in turn inspired her to write her premiere novel, Asenath.

Besides your studies in Middle Eastern culture, what inspired you to write this book?

I have always loved the [Biblical] story of Joseph, as well as adored his character. Some time ago, I grew curious [about] who his wife was. When I looked her up, I found hardly anything on her. I began to imagine what she might have been like. I then thought it might be nice to write about it.
I have actually been wanting to write a novel about Asenath for the longest time—since my student days. I tried everything: have it in third-person, beginning with Joseph and Asenath’s wedding, even a contemporary story in which a modern-day couple find “connections” to Joseph and Asenath. I even tried writing from the “middle” of a novel but that didn’t work.
It was an on-off thing. Then on New Year's, I finally buckled down and wrote—and finished—the novel. I daresay that this idea found me, rather than I looking for it.

Can you tell us about your main character?

Asenath is the daughter of a priest of Heliopolis, also known as On / Iunu (the latter being the Egyptian name; Heliopolis is the Greek). In my novel, I have her as the adopted daughter of the priest; originally she is a fisherman’s daughter from an inconspicuous village along the Nile. Through a bizarre series of events, she winds up in the big city where she is adopted by the powerful high priest and his wife. When she grows into a young woman, she meets the Hebrew steward Joseph, who eventually becomes her love interest.

I was inspired to take liberties with her parentage after reading this Jewish folktale which also had her as the adopted daughter of the priest. The folktale, however, had Asenath being of secretly Hebrew heritage! I thought it was interesting, but in real life, I think Asenath was Egyptian through and through.

How important do you think villains are in a story?

[Villians are] quite important, as they represent an obstacle the hero/ine has to face. I think it’s important to make a novel engaging, the main character must always be “in hot water” (to quote some writers’ advice book I read). Otherwise, once the problems are solved, the stories are over.
I also like novels to be realistic, and villains make it so. After all, I guess all of us have met that “thorn in the flesh” at one point or another.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Well, I like Arthur Golden who wrote Memoirs of a Geisha. I love his writing style, and the story was very poignant. His main characters’ long-suffering love for [the Chairman] was very touching as well. I’ve read my copy of the novel so many times, that the pages have already fallen off the spine. He was one of my influences for Asenath, actually.

I also like the works of Wilbur Smith and Pauline Gedge, who write excellent and well-researched novels set in Ancient Egypt. And I’ve read one novel by Alex G. Chappell that impressed me very much—he wrote a very sweet romance novel of Joseph and Asenath simply entitled—why—Joseph and Asenath! The last pages drew me to the edge of my seat. It is an underappreciated gem.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?

Yes, I am reading Pauline Gedge’s House of Dreams. I am still in the early parts of the novel, but I love it. I like to read a Pauline Gedge novel slowly at first, as she has all this intricate descriptions and details. Eventually, the plot speeds up.

How do you deal with rejection letters?

Well, can’t do anything about them really. After reading it, I forget about it and move on. “There are still others to query,” I think.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes – before querying an agent/publisher, research them. There are many scammers out there who will give you stress to no end. I nearly fell for a scam myself until I heard about it in these writers’ warnings/advice. Be careful.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Read, watch TV or movies, browse in shops—especially bookshops, and spend time with my dachshund Chestnut. I am a huge dog lover, by the way.

What are some of your favorites (foods, color, musicians)?

My favourite foods are pesto pasta, dark chocolate, stuffed crust pizza (as long as there are no onions cuz I am allergic to them), pad thai, yang chow fried rice and sushi with cream cheese - not all at the same time, of course! My favourite colours are all hues of violet—purple, lavender, indigo, orchid etc. My favourite kind of music is classical and New Age/fantasy (such as the music of Loreena McKennitt), although I listen to anything except heavy metal and rap.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

Well, being published! ‘Nuff said! Also having total strangers tell me they loved my book. That is very encouraging.

Thank you for visiting us today, Anna!

You can find Anna at the following links:

You can find Anna's book Asenath at the following links:

Ebook Edition

Paperback Edition (For those in Sydney, Australia this is across Queen Victoria Building; they have the book in stock)