Monday, January 31, 2011

"Said the Spider" by Earle E. Van Gilder - Author Interview & Book Review.

I am very pleased to be able to host Earle E. Van Gilder today!! He is the author of "Said the Spider" - a brilliantly written thriller that should make your "must read" list for this year!! I found myself captivated from the beginning and devoured the book within a matter of hours. I couldn't put it down because I HAD to know what happened next. Then ending is memorable (I LOVED IT!!) and the characters and storyline a very realistic. I'm very excited that Mr. Van Gilder is making this a series. He has completed two more books in the series that I MUST get my hands on!
To find out more about the book and where to purchase it, please see below.

Author Interview:

Describe your book in five words or less.
Mystery, intrigue, investigative thriller.

How did the ideas for your books come to you?
Friends had asked me to write and share my life stories.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?
Sitting down and taking time away from so many other things is the discipline I need to improve on in writing. The easiest is dreaming up the characters and story.

What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
I’ve completed two (2) more book in series with Said The Spider. They are Gumshoe Diary-The Month of May, and Point of Connection. They involved many of the same characters but with new and different adventures.

Why did you choose to write for specific genre?
I didn’t choose a genre or a specific targeted reader. I’ve written about what I know, lived and experienced.

What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?
Knowing that another person wants to read something that I’ve written is a very pleasant experience.

What is your writing space like? Do you have a designated space? What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting? Typing? Handwriting?
I have my own room called “the bunkhouse” which gives the impression of an individual museum made up of things gathered and achieved over many years of life. My drum set is directly behind me, the walls are covered with plaques, spurs, swords, western pictures, cowboy hats and my paintings. And, oh yes, the computer

How do your juggle a writing schedule with real-life work, or are you a full time writer?
I retired in 1998 from my work as President of the company I founded, Corporate Information LTD, an investigative agency that specialized in white collar and undercover investigations. My freedom to write is much improved and my writing continues as the pace of my life allows it.

What's the best/worst part of being a writer?
The writing is the easy part. The worst part is my anticipation and frustration with this part of the process. I am impatient!

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
My inspiration is my wife.

What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Who was your hero growing up? And my answer would be my Grandmother, for no other reason than she loved me unconditionally. I was always safe with her, and she was then and is now my idol. My newest idol and right up there with Grandma is my wife Annie. How could a guy ask for anything more?


About the Book:

Said the Spider
Author: Earle E. Van Gilder
ISBN: 9781432754334
Genre: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, General
Please visit the Author's Book Page for purchasing information.

Synopsis:
Sophisticated crime syndicate parasites invade the normally solid foundation of Midwestern banking and generations of established manufacturing. Executives and management usually in control suddenly find they are masterfully manipulated into a web of irreconcilable personal and financial seduction.

From the traumatic discovery at the river’s edge to the eventual confrontational conclusion Said The Spider seduces greedy, gullible and unsuspecting prey into a deadly and graphic whirlwind of corporate disaster leading to murder, suicide and revenge.

The early exploits of the juvenile crime spree by a youthful mastermind who cleverly manipulates his prey leads the reader to the ruthless genius manipulating the city. This drama of cause and effect with no escape from the temptations of lust, greed, and ignorance has been cleverly baited.

The corporate investigative agency and police sources enter almost too late to stop this whirlpool of turbulence as the bank Vice President’s realize their own failure and the investors and corporation officers panic and retreat from the coming Armageddon.

As murder, suicide and monumental financial losses are exposed, the crime syndicate learns of an investigation which might interrupt their lucrative operation. Crime bosses will stop at nothing to successfully complete their artistic looting of a major bank and manufacturing complex.

Time is running out. Investigators are pulling pieces of the puzzle together. Corrupt and greedy bank executives are running for their lives. The syndicate is charging ahead in their goal of complete domination and eventual departure culminating in a surprise and conclusive end to fraud and murder.

About Earle E. Van Gilder:

More than 40 years Earle (Doc) Van Gilder was involved in the investigation of white-collar crime. The last 20 years he ran his own Investigative Corporation partnering with major firms, local and state government agencies and law enforcement to solve a wide range of criminal activities from internal theft and white collar crime to insurance fraud, criminal investigations and undercover operations.

Earle is also a certified Kyokushinkai Karate Branch Chief and martial arts instructor and well versed in the handling of weaponry. These experiences combined with his Marine Corp and equestrian experiences have resulted in a number of short stories which in turn led to his first novel, Said The Spider. He recently completed a second novel, Gumshoe Diary, The Month of May.

This book was supplied by Outskirts Press for me to honestly review.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"The Cross and the Psychiatrist" by Terry L. Dorn Tour & Book Review

The Cross and the Psychiatrist
Author: Terry L. Dorn
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 9781432739744
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
For more information on how to purchase a copy in either paperback or e-book, please go here.

About the Book:

A story about a life that fell apart and is mended by faith. When a person experiences a mental breakdown he is treated like he's not even two years old.

Terry Dorn has experienced torture as a child, lived on the streets in Minneapolis, Minnesota at age ten. He Slept in box cars and vacant houses at first. Was hospitalized several times for observation as a teenager. He had to fight to not receive shock treatments at age fifteen.

Terry is a bounce back person and has become a hero to many who have experienced a major psychiatric challenge.





My Thoughts:

"The Cross and the Phychiatrist" is only 83 pages long, but it certainly packs one powerful message! This book follows the life of author Terry Dorn, focusing on his struggle to find and receive help to not just medicate, but recover from his mental illness.

In this book, Mr. Dorn tells how he was treated and how he fought to become treated as a "person" instead of a mental patient. He tells his struggles with the mental health system, people's views of his diagnosis, and even how the church treated him. This book will tug on your heart as he continues with his road to recovery and how it happened.

If you know anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness, you will know that Mr. Dorn speaks the truth throughout these pages. His prose is honest and to the point and will make you more aware of the struggles that a mental patient deals with.

Make sure to add this book to your must-reads for 2011. It is an amazing story of faith and hope that shouldn't be missed. I highly recommend it!!

About the Author

Terry Dorn left home at the age of ten due to torture and abuse. Many teachers told Terry he could not be a writer because of his education. He has published a book for Washington State Mental Health system and has been the editor of a newspaper. "You must learn to turn your problems into lessons". The real power in this life is (FAITH) and beleiving in ones dreams! Terry's ability to see the good in people has helped many individuals to return to a productive life.

Book was supplied by Outskirts Press for me to honestly review.

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Passport Through Darkness" by Kimberly Smith - FIRST Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Passport Through Darkness

David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kimberly L. Smith is the president and cofounder of Make Way Partners, a mission organization committed to ending human trafficking. She is currently leading Make Way Partners to build the only private and indigenously based anti-trafficking network in Africa and Eastern Europe. A devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, Smith lives with her husband, Milton, in Sylacauga, Alabama.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

Each one of us longs to know we matter. We hunger to know that we have purpose, our life has meaning, and God dreams great dreams for us. In Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances, Kimberly Smith invites us into her own struggles as an ordinary woman who feels those aches, asks those questions, and stumbles through a quest to find her place in a broken world.


Traveling around the world and deep into the darkness of her own heart, Smith’s worst fears collided with her faith as she and her family discovered the atrocities of human trafficking. But in that broken place a self-centered life was transformed into an international effort to save thousands from modern-day slavery, persecution, disease, and genocide.

As Smith and her husband risk everything for orphans in Eastern Europe and Africa, they see God work again and again in impossible situations, especially in their own lives and marriage. They see God change them—even in their exhaustion, marital struggles, and physical limitations. They see the beauty of living out God’s dreams.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143470212X
ISBN-13: 978-1434702128

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


AT THE END OF ME


I stood at a precipice, a crag of rock in a parched, thirsty land that mirrored the condition of my heart. From where I stood, I looked down upon the riverbed that rendered the jagged cut reaching from the left corner of my mouth down to the bottom of my chin, and my right eye purplish black.


I recalled the day these marks came upon me and considered how many of the women I saw laboring in the current below who shared my experience. Fifty percent? Ninety percent? Had any woman been spared the hand-delivered scars of violence birthed in the tomb of this brutal, war-torn land?


Sickly cows wove around and between the women in the river. As the cows did their business in the water, some of the women bathed. Others washed rags they donned as clothing. Still others drew cans of drinking water from the soapy-feculent murkiness.


Taking stock of the last few months spent here at the border of Darfur, Sudan—the cusp of hell—I savored how God had knit these women into the fiber of my soul in ways that I’d never imagined possible back in the day of my corporate-ladder climbing. Love for them had changed my whole world. It had changed me. Now it was time for me to take what I’d been shown here back to my home in America with prayers that it, too, would be transformed.


My soul felt as restless and insecure as my feet did shuffling at the edge of the cliff.


A part of me felt so dark, lonely, and overwhelmed, I wanted to throw myself from the spire and be done with it. That would be the easy way, though, and my life had never seemed to be about finding the easy path. In fact, something in me seemed to like making life as difficult as possible.


A sprig of hope, a mite of faith encouraged me to stand down. Wait. Be expectant, but don’t jump. Pray. Help was surely around the corner.


Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) had promised to send someone to witness the persecution, rape, mutilation, and genocide I was documenting on the southern border of Darfur. Knowing it had taken me months of preparation, followed by endless fieldwork, to find and accurately record this data—information that I was still just beginning to comprehend—I didn’t see how I could possibly help the VOM rep to grasp it in just three days.


Sudan is the tenth-largest country in the world; the region of Darfur is the size of France. The southern half of Sudan has a grand total of about three miles of pavement. Darfur has none. The reality of war, insecurity, violence, and lack of infrastructure, combined with the fact that we had no vehicle to speed up our maneuvers, rendered the task of sufficiently covering the vast territory in such a short time frame all but impossible.


I’d taken it upon myself to take the time and risk of walking from village to village or riding our sole motorbike to the death camps, what I’d come to call the Internally Displaced People’s camps (IDP). I started calling IDPs death camps after my first visit over a year ago. Before that trip, the word camp always conjured an image of security, even if the conditions were rustic. Visiting one stripped me of my penchant for naiveté, showing me thousands of people squatting in the desert with no food, water, or security—just waiting for death. For most, the wait wasn’t long.


I wanted to make sure I would be able to adequately expose the VOM rep to the same kind of reality. To do that, I would need transportation to cover vast amounts of ground more quickly than walking would allow.


Late yesterday a brainstorm hit me. We’d ride donkeys! James Lual Atak, our indigenous director, laughed at my kawaidja (rich white person) notions, calling me a Sudanese wannabe. But he humored me. Since the VOM rep would be here in just a few days, early this morning he’d brought several donkeys to our camp so we could test-ride them before the rep arrived.


Always ready for action, I was the first to climb on. An old man we called Peterdit held the end of the rope tied around the neck of my donkey, which I’d named Blue. The sharp ridge of spine rising from Blue’s bare back cut into me in all the wrong places, and I squirmed to make a seat for myself.


Peterdit kept overenunciating two Arabic words for me, one for stop and one for faster. As Blue reared up, alternately kicking his hind legs and then his front legs high into the air, he let me know he wasn’t happy about my squirming on his backside.


Blue’s outburst jerked the rope from Peterdit’s grasp. Blue set off toward the village, bucking like a horizontal kangaroo.


In my hysteria I could only summon up one of the two words Peterdit taught me. I screamed it as firmly as I could, “Harach! Harach! Harach!” over and over again trying to make Blue obey my limited grasp of the Arabic language: “Stop!”


My head thrashed back and forth, and I flopped to Blue’s side, squeezing my legs around his girth as tightly as I could, while clinging to the frayed rope now burning the palm of my hands as it ripped through my fingers. As I blitzed by, I caught a glimpse of James laughing uproariously from atop his donkey, his long legs conveniently reaching his feet flat to the desert floor. At the time, I found no humor in Blue’s fit, or my condition!


After my whirlwind tour of the village via Blue’s conniption, Peterdit boldly stepped into Blue’s path and grabbed the rope flinging freely in the air as I clung to Blue’s short tuft of mane. He yelled a word I did not recognize in such force that the beast calmed himself, and I fell to the ground. Although my body would yell its trauma to me through deep musculature aches for many days, my only serious injury was to my pride.


Apparently the one Arabic word I had been yelling was not the word “Stop!” but rather “Faster, faster, faster!”


The comedy of my barebacked-donkey ride at this morning’s sunrise seemed a millennium away, and a stark contrast to the bleakness of what followed. As waves of heat swelled from the desert floor, I wrote off the whole donkey deal as another one of my romantic inclinations, and James and I opted to walk, not ride, to the death camp.


While there may be few good days in a death camp, this one was particularly brutal. We’d been out of medicine for a month, out of food for a week, and today, we ran out of water. All of those life giving commodities were gone, except for the private stash we kept at our compound for James and me, the kawaidja.


Although at home in the United States, people often thought of me as a poor missionary, I was coming to understand and grapple with the fact that I was, in reality, wealthy for simple things like never running out of water.


Up to this point in my life, what had I chosen to do with my riches? Standing on that cliff, I painfully acknowledged how I’d squandered so much of what God had given me, most painfully my entire life. Many times throughout this journey, this awakening, I have come perilously close to throwing it all away.


Through God’s grace, I slowly stepped down from the precipice and began to face the end of the me I’d created for myself. I wanted to live the life—be the me—He dreamed of.


I remembered a prayer I’d cried out many years before, begging Him to use me. I wondered, if I’d known where that prayer would lead, would I still have prayed it? Deciding the answer was yes, I uttered a new prayer: “You can have whatever You want from me, but please, God, just show me what difference one person can make in the darkness of this broken world.”


The following is His story, as lived through me to this point.



My Thoughts

This book was difficult for me to get through because of the emotional content. I found myself having to stop more than once because of a horrific story that was told. So many times it broke my heart knowing that others are out in the world suffering so.

This book needs to be read by all. It needs to be talked about and it points out that something needs to change. This is a powerful, powerful story that will leave everyone who has read it, changed. I know I cannot look at things the same way.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Homemade Granola

One way we save money is by making a lot of our own groceries. I love to bake and find it rewarding and satisfying knowing what is in the food I serve my family. My children love granola, but we found most on the market to be hard and quite substandard, so we went on a search to find a good recipe. With a lot of experimenting, we now have a recipe that we are satisfied with.



Granola

Syrup:
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
Cereal:
5 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried milk
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/2 cup raisins
Other on-hand ingredients ie: nuts, dried fruits, coconut, seeds, etc.

Place oatmeal in a 9" x 13" pan. Sprinkle evenly with dried milk, then salt. At this point, I usually will sprinkle 2 Tbs. flax seed meal, an even coating of each: coconut, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chopped walnuts or pecans.** Leave the raisins out until later.

After you are satisfied with with the ingredients in your cake pan, set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix the oil, brown sugar, and honey in a small saucepan and heat until the ingredients combine. It will seem like the oil and sugar won't mix, but once it starts boiling, you will see a change - everything combines. Take off heat and pour over ingredients in cake pan. Mix well. Bake for 7 minutes, stir, then bake for another five, stir, then put back in for another 5 minutes. By now, the ingredients should be a bit browned and the syrup has been incorporated evenly.

Take from the oven and cool - mixing while cooling to prevent items from staying in one huge clump.

**Note: If I'm putting in raisins, I usually add about an equal amount of dates. If I'm using another dried fruit or berry, I'll leave out the raisins sometimes. There really is no recipe of what to add after the first four cereal ingredients - it's usually whatever I have on hand and what I think may taste good together. I like to put in as many seeds as possible, because the seeds have a powerhouse of good vitamins and minerals in them.

We have been making this granola for a good year now, tweaking it as we go - experimenting with different combinations and ingredients. Today I made our normal raisin, date and pecan granola and in the second pan I made a cherry granola which used our own dehydrated sweet cherries. The cherries were a bit of a disappointment, as they didn't have the flavor we get from dehydrating sour cherries. It was still good, but not as good as it could be. I will be making note of this.

Great Finds for Cheap Living

I had heard about a GoodWill store that was only a few miles from my son's university. I decided the next time we were out that way, to stop in and have a look around, so that's what we did.

The store was huge and was packed full of goodies! The clothes were gorgeous and were sorted by age, gender and color or style, but not by sizes which made it somewhat difficult and frustrating (not to mention time consuming) to find something. The time taken did pay off though, as I came home with 4 like new jumpers - 3 denim and one a faux suede, a gorgeous cardigan and 17 sewing patterns for $14.25.

A few weeks ago, I had found some neutral colored long sleeved t-shirts on sale for $1.99 each, so I had picked up 4 of them. They look very nice with the new jumpers, as does the cardigan. Imagine - I now have 4 beautiful new outfits (actually more if you mix and match) for less than $20!

I'm anxious to start working on the new patterns, but need to take my sewing machine in to have it cleaned and "tuned". I'm hoping I'll be able to drop it off in the very near future. Unfortunately, they are more than 60 miles round trip, and then the return trip to pick it up. I'll have to make sure I have other stops planned to make it worthwhile.

What things do you do to save money?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"The Target" by Bill Bowen - Author Interview - Book Review

I am very pleased to host Bill Bowen, author of "The Target" today with both an interview and a look at his book. Bill's book was an excellent read that I enjoyed immensely. I jumped at the chance to read this book, as it was written by a Veteran that has a background in intelligence. What better way to give realism to a book than to get it from someone who has experience in the genre he is writing?

The Target is a story about a Veteran who loses his wife in a terrorist bombing and what he does to rectify his loss. At the same time, it also follows the sister of one of those involved in the bombing. It is a moving and powerful story that will appeal to both men and women. The characters are real and the scenario is something that I believe can really happen.

This is a book to put on your must read list as well as an author to watch!

The Target
Author: Bill Bowen
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 9781432734824
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Please visit here to find "The Target" in either paperback or e-book.

Author Interview:

What is your book about?


The story line begins with the explosion of a dirty bomb at Union Station in Chicago and leads to a plot by a group of “average” American to detonate a bomb in the Middle East to demonstrate that the combination of terrorism and nuclear weapons is a threat to all society, not just the West.

More broadly, The Target provides multiple points of view – a jihadist, a moderate Muslim woman, a liberal blogger, military veterans, a Catholic priest – about revenge, the killing of civilians, and terrorism in the nuclear age.

Why did you decide to write it?


During the Cold War we and the Russians had enough warheads to destroy each other; deterrence worked. In today’s world the perspective is one-sided and we are waiting for a bomb in a container in New York. I would like the decision makers in Pakistan, Iran, and elsewhere to recognize that they are also threatened by proliferation of nuclear weapons to other countries and terrorist groups.

Do you have a favourite character? Why is s/he your favourite?

I particularly like Aisha al-Rashid, the moderate sister of one of the Union Station bombers. I have a university professor daughter with a Harvard PhD in Islam who helped me shape the character by living with me in Cairo, introducing me to many of her friends, and guiding my reading. Some of the more interesting discussions at book signings have been about Aisha and the moderate Muslim perspective.

The main characters of your stories - do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

The protagonist, Mike Curran, is quite a bit like me but a greater commonality is the most characters are composites of people that I have known. One of the joys of writing is the ability to think back to old friendships or acquaintences and use those as a basis for interesting, complex characters. Some of my friends died young; many led ordinary but interesting lives; some experienced little glimpses of glory. I knew Karl Luedtke and his roots in Ripon, Wisconsin; I know Barbara Ryken, the liberal blogger; and I particularly knew several of the people who influenced Mike Curran’s development.

When I began writing I had too many characters. One important piece of wisdom from my editor, Ed Robertson, was to combine them. They then contain complexities and contradictions, just like real people.

What types of readers will be interested in your book?

The readers skew toward male between the ages of 35 and 70, particularly veterans. However, many women readers like the characters and their wrestling with moral issues. Those who like nonstop action are less interested than those who like to mix education with entertainment.


What is special about your book? What differentiates it from other books in the same category?

From a plot perspective, the tables are turned in that average Americans become the terrorists. The Target is also unusual in that it presents multiple perspectives on political and moral issues rather than only that of the traditional hero. Most readers will find the perspective and actions of a moderate Muslim woman to be particularly enlightening.

Have you published any other books? Do you plan to publish more?

I do publish a weekly blog at www.RightinSanFrancisco.com, but The Target is my first novel. I am currently working on a second which also features “average” Americans, a unique twist on a major issue of the day, and multiple perspectives. At least a couple of the characters will carry over.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?

The premise is that a group of Texans decide to exercise the option to seceed which the Lone Star State was given when it joined the Union. The story will present a range of perspectives about the state of politics and an undercurrent of conspiracy for and against. I plan to publish early in 2012.

And now, for a little fun:

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?

Food; water; my wife.

What is one book everyone should read?

Other than The Target, the Bible.


If you were a superhero what would your name be?

Obi Wan Kenobi

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?

Mindreading, but I would have to be able to turn it off.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Pistachio


One food you would never eat?

Monkey brains, an Indiana Jones staple.

Pet Peeves?

People who feel superior.

Thank you, Bill for sharing this with us and for a great book. I look forward to your new book next year.

About Bill Bowen

Bill Bowen holds degrees in foreign affairs from the United States Air Force Academy and Georgetown University. He has served in military intelligence and in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs … at the intersection of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the President’s National Security Advisor.

Bowen lives in San Francisco with his wife, Sue, where he enjoys the political theater of local and state government and shares his thoughts at www.RightinSanFrancisco.com.

Book was supplied by Outskirts Press for me to honestly review.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"A Chronicle of Endylmyr" by Charles Hall

When I sit down to read, I want a book to escape and get lost in. I want something that will take me away from a long day and the mundane trivialities of life. That is probably why I love fantasy so much. It can take me to some of the most amazing places created in the mind of the author and shared only with those that dare to open the cover and read. Lately, I haven't found much in the fantasy genre that has excited me - until now.

I'm very excited to be able to introduce you to Charles Hall. Charles has published his first novel, an epic fantasy that is not only very well written, but I would say it is exactly what I've been craving in a fantasy. His prose is brilliant and his storyline is engaging and well developed. I adore his characters, especially Gylfalin, who, to me, is as perfect of a character as Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. They are well developed and with the multiple points of view, one can become quite intimate with them.

I'm thrilled that I have finally found a fantasy that has left me not only feeling satisfied, but that I read something of quality. I'm very excited about this series and I cannot wait until the next installment is in print!! Mr. Hall is a brilliant author who has made it on my favorite author list.

With that being said, you can imagine how exciting it is to be able to post an interview with him here today. I hope you enjoy reading his interview as much as I did!

A Chronicle Of Endylmyr: The Witches of Endylmyr
Author: Charles Hall
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 9781432750282
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic
To purchase A Chronicle of Endylmyr in paperback or e-book, please click here

Author Interview:

Tell us briefly about your book.

It is a literary epic fantasy involving the attempts of an ambitious and power hungry Eastern despot to seize and control all magical items in the world of the novel. In an attempt to seize a magical falcon he besieges the Western city of Endylmyr, only to be temporarily defeated in the end by three women who use a combination of the magical devices to harness the power of an electrical storm to destroy his armies.


Do you have a favourite character? Why is s/he your favourite?

My favorite character is my protagonist, a retired mercenary, and the most experienced fighter in all of Endylmyr. I think he’s my favorite because I have projected much of my own experience on him.

What inspired you to write this book?

As a former creative writing instructor, one of my sons sent me a story to edit. A character and a magical device in his story caught my imagination. With his permission I used them as the seeds of the novel. His story now forms the prologue, as noted on the cover page.


What message would you like readers to take away from your book?

That love and loyalty can triumph over ambition and greed, and that we must take whatever fate brings and make the best of it, relying on the loyalty of friends and our own skills and strengths to get through.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?

Ancient and contemporary native cultures, Western literature (starting with Homer, through Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and J.R.R. Tolkien) my personal experience of having lived and delivered a son at home on the Flathead Indian Reservation, among other things.

Is there anyone who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

Yes, my now deceased wife, once a student of mine, and our two sons, both college teachers and aspiring writers.

What's the best/worst part of being a writer?

The best part is entertaining readers, the worst is wondering if my work is worthy.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

As a young boy I was entranced by the Hardy Boy Mysteries (Franklin W. Dixon), Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (which I remember reading seven times.)

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

My favorite author is probably J.R.R. Tolkien, on the basis of his excellent prose and sheer imaginative genius. I like Fantasy, but I read a wide variety of new and old writers, including C.S. Forrester, John LeCarre, John Steinbeck, Ellis Peters, and Robert E. Howard, to name a few.

And now for a little fun...


If you were stranded on a deserted island what 3 things would you want with you?
A library, my girlfriend and a cat.

What is one book everyone should read?
“The Lord of the Rings”

If you were a superhero what would your name be?
The Wizard

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
“To sleep, perchance to dream…”

Write a haiku about your book.
“Of birds and orbs and magic gear,
And archers without fear”

A HUGE thank you to Mr. Hall for allowing me to participate in hosting him.!!!

About the Author

Charles has been fascinated by book reading and writing since a very early age. Because of traumatic experiences in his home and family life, he often found himself lost in mystery and adventure stories. He had such a deep love for language arts that he began his college career as a French major. However, he soon realized where his passions lied and graduated with B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Literature.

During that time, he also began to experiment with writing poetry. Some of his work was published in small campus magazines, and keeps most of the pieces he wrote stashed away in his bookcase. His love for poetry also led him into a co-editor role with a popular poetry magazine at the University of Wyoming. His love for writing soon had an added benefit as Charles went on to marry the best writer in the advanced composition course he taught there.

Inspired by authors such as James Lee Burke and James Crumley, Charles wrote his first novel, titled Indian Summer. He wrote two other novels, Crude Surgery and Green Reaper, before the pressure of family demands pushed his professional life into another direction.

Other circumstances kept Charles from writing for several years after that. It was not until his son sent him a short fantasy asking for his opinion that his passion arose again. From there, the idea of his most recent literary epic fantasy, A Chronicle of Endylmyr was born and the rest is history...

 Book was supplied through Outskirts Press for me to honestly review.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Are You Considering Home Schooling?

I had decided to home school my children while I was still in high school. I had read an article in "Mother Earth News" and knew then it was exactly the best thing for my family. Then I graduated, went to college, worked, got married, and had children. It wasn't until then that I remembered about home schooling. My husband, though, was far from agreeing in with my great ideas. He went to the seminars, heard the stories, but was far from convinced.

Our oldest was registered for kindergarten, and just a few days before he was to get on the bus, we received a phone call from one of his friend and former pastor. Bob said, "Don't you dare put that child on the bus!" and after a long conversation, had changed my husband's outlook. The day before our son was to start class, my husband decided we would home school.

That was more than 15 years ago, and I can honestly say it was the best decision we ever made. I watched our children grow, learn and mature with a responsibility that I knew I didn't have at their age. They have a love for reading and learning that didn't seem to die as they became teenagers.

I won't say our decision was easy. We had no family or friend support. We were considered crazy, radical, too good for the norm, and were harming our children. How would the children socialize since they wouldn't be with their peers all day? How would we be able to teach them if we didn't have a teaching degree? How dare we think we knew more than the professionals! We were told they would never function in society and were going to be "backwards" because of our lack of skill and knowledge. Sigh...

Thank the good Lord we never listened, but followed what we thought was best, but with lack of support there were days I doubted myself and what I was doing. The worst time I doubted our decision was during my son's senior year. He was applying to colleges and I allowed that awful fear of how we had hurt his education creep inside my head. I wondered if we really had made a mistake and ruined his whole life...

That was two years ago. He was accepted to all the colleges he applied to, but I still worried wondering about the socialization issue. I again had no need to worry. He adjusted very well, carried a full load, did work studies, and made the Dean's List both semesters his freshman year. This past semester, he made President's List and was elected President of the History Club. He is considering a double minor or possibly a double major and then on to get his Master's Degree. He has been awarded a few scholarships and now has another soon to be awarded based on his grade performance.

This is our last year of home schooling. Our daughter is in her senior year and has received her acceptance letter to the university she really wanted to attend. She has worked since she could get her hands on working papers, and is employed at a great Christian camp/retreat. She works as both support staff and counselor. She also volunteers and works with children during her free time.

Both children have surpassed our wildest dreams. They have become people that we are very, very proud of. Am I bragging? Ummmmm - I guess I am, but at the same time, I want to share our family's success story. I want to let others know that their children won't be damaged, unsocialized, or backwards. They will end up being adults you can be proud of!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Recovering.....

Sorry for not posting lately. I've been down with the flu. I'm hoping to begin posting again starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things Are Becoming Even More Expensive

We are cursed blessed to be living in the marcellus shale region. With that comes an increase in traffic, increased demands in housing and businesses are booming. Cost of housing has gone up to insane prices, taxes are going up, water is becoming polluted and I've heard our area being called a "wasteland". Sigh.... Wells are springing up all around us, and living in a small town, we have no recourse but to put up with everything with nothing in return. Am I complaining? Not really - just stating the cold, hard facts.

We have been considering leaving for a long time, but hubby was looking for the perfect job. He could at that time - then the economy changed and his chance of getting that job got a whole lot slimmer. We thought we'd ride things out, but now with the crazy business here of the gas - we really want out. Now, just to find a job that will allow us to leave and be able to pay for a new home and college for 2 kids.

This year is going to be the time for severe cutbacks for us. All those little luxuries that we've enjoyed for years are going.... magazine subscriptions, television, newspapers, etc. - they are all getting canceled or won't be renewed. Both kids will need a cell phone next year for college, so we are going to have to find a cell phone company and we will finally give in to buying cell service. Sadly, reception is poor to none in our area making it about impossible to drop our land-line. Hopefully that will change in 8 months. Imagine, what we save in dropping all the above items will pay for the kids cell phones. :(

Food prices have gone up considerably and so has gas. We are now over $3.20 a gallon and it still continues to go up. Sadly, there were no raises because of company cutbacks. Our garden will just have to be increased in size and now that I have an Excalibur dehydrator, we'll be able to save both time, space and money by dehydrating instead of canning. It is amazing the things one can do with dehydrated foods, and more amazing that they retain most of their nutritional value and flavor!! My goal this year is to see how many groceries we can make ourselves and how much we really NEED from the store.

Speaking of saving money, I MUST share three wonderful new challenges I have joined. Retroredux is having some really fun but frugal reading challenges that really appealed to me.
 
First is the Public Domain E-book Challenge. This challenge deals with public domain books from places like Project Gutenburg, Manybooks, etc. If you are like me, you've been there and have found that there are no descriptions of the books that are offered. This challenge has you reading and reviewing these books. You can pick the level you want to participate in (all are easily obtainable), then read and review the number of books you signed up for. What a fantastic idea!! Not only are you setting a fun goal, but helping other readers at the same time :)



The second challenge she has that I signed up for is called The Buck Stops Here Challenge. In this challenge you read books from your own personal library. The only rules are: 1. They must cost from FREE to up to ONE DOLLAR - nothing more expensive and 2. no loaned books. You MUST own these books. This also includes e-books (and we know how many cheap and free e-books are out there!)



The last challenge is called the Forgotten Treasures Challenge. In this challenge, one must read books that are at least 25 years old. Man, my budget over the last 20 years of marriage has only allowed me to purchase books from yard sales and the Goodwill, plus those that were obtained from FreeCycle, so, I have a TON of these babies sitting on my shelf!!

All of these challenges seem to go hand-in-hand with our cutbacks, so here's to living cheaper without really sacrificing anything at all! :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Peita" by William Zink

When I had received this book from the author via a win through the Member's Giveaway on Library Thing, I was thrilled! The book had sounded exceptionally good, and I adored the cover.

My father had died only a few months before receiving this book, and I really didn't think I'd have the reaction I did to it. Mr. Zink's prose was so realistic and personal, that I couldn't continue reading at the time. I had never expected to have such a gut-wrenching reaction!! I ended up having to put it aside and waiting for a bit before trying to read it again.

I picked "Pieta" up again on New Year's morning and thought I'd give it another go. I didn't put it down until I was finished. What an amazing and heartfelt book!

The book centers on a very short period of time in the life of Jim Priest. He is preparing for his mother to die and he is taking care of her along with his sister. There are days he also brings along his 6 year old daughter so she can spend as much time with her grandmother before she passes. During this time, one gets glances of Jim's life, his struggle with his family - in both his married life as well as in his past childhood. His mother suffers from the last stages of Alzheimer's and when she becomes lucid, he learns a few key things from his past.

Jim's daughter brings clear the reality of life and death from such an innocent viewpoint - straight to the point and in a matter-of-fact tone. She balances out the pain and heartache with questions and a bit of humor that only a child can bring to such situations.

"Pieta" is less than 130 pages long, but the richness of the writing makes it as satisfying as a much longer novel. It deals with some very personal subjects and is quite a heavy read, but a very good read. This one is going to stay with me for a very, very long time.

"Pieta"
128 pages
Author William Zink
Publisher: Sugarloaf Press
ISBN: 9780970070241
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis from Goodreads.com
Jim Priest's mother is dying. With his daughter beside him, he alternates caretaking duties with his sister. A year earlier his father died in mysterious fashion -- the head of the Virgin Mary from a lifelong sculpting project of The Pieta fell on top of him, killing him instantly. As days pass by, his mother falling in and out of coherency, the buried secrets of a bittersweet childhood re-emerge, forcing the four of them to accept, if not fully resolve, the limitations of their bonds. Pieta is a story about personal ambition, the anguish of unrequited affection, and the redemptive spirit of a young girl. In concise, elegant prose, William Zink examines the singular, yet universal, forces tugging at the hip of a family in the midst of its most epic chapter

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!! Let's Welcome 2011 With Some Change.....


Each New Year always brings such hope and promise of a year better than the last. It brings not only hope of new things, but also allows us to reflect on the past year and thank God for the blessings he bestowed upon us, as well as the grace and love he gave us to get through the rough spots.

This year brings change in our lives here as well as a bit of a change to this blog. When I started blogging about my reads, it was an outlet to voice my thoughts about what I was reading to a journal that would listen much better than my husband. Instead, this blog became something I never expected - a review blog with more offers of books to review than I could ever possibly read. This opportunity was amazing and beyond my wildest dreams and a huge blessing. It occupied my time after the passing of my father and saw me through many difficult times over the past year. I was able to escape reality through the pages of a book and all I needed to do was write a review.

At first reviewing was very easy, as all the material was new and unusual to me. I was pretty much a non-fiction reader that didn't splurge much in fiction for myself. I was thrilled to be able to read all the new books and dive into genre that I wasn't familiar with. Then the reviews became harder as I struggled with trying to write about books that were once exciting but soon came to feel like many of the genres were all using the same template. It's strange writing this, because I'm not saying that the quality of the books were different than the first one that I read, it's more that they just became alike. The thrill seemed to be gone and as I read, I would find myself thinking this is just like.... That made it harder to write and original review and I starting feeling stale and not enjoying certain genres as much. I really didn't want my love of reading to become a chore, but it seemed that was the road I was heading down.

I needed to step back a bit and look at what I really wanted. This blog is my hobby - not a paid job, and all my time here is volunteered. It has taken down some interesting roads... I've met some of the most awesome authors and PR professionals. I've made some amazing friends through this blog, and it has been with their suggestions and input that I've come to the conclusion that this blog needs to change. Goodbye stale and hello something different....

No, the book discussions and reviews will not disappear - but I have decided to follow the suggestion to add a little of my life content here. I have had many ask about me personally, but I thought a straight review blog was the way to go. Yet, here I am, feeling inadequate, stale and boring. I guess it's time to take advice from those who have more experience and insight.

So, in the coming months, you'll see a little bit about my life, my loves and hobbies along with our changing life here. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Wishing you all a fantastic new year and may you find yourself richly blessed beyond your wildest dreams...

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