The Darkness of the Womb

The Darkness of the Womb

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review of A Feast For Crows

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I may be coming off a Game of Thrones high, since I almost gave this book four stars instead of three. But then I read a few of the other reviews on this site and came back to my senses. Through most of thE book, I was bored silly and hated a lot of the new storylines introduced. I'm well aware that this is only half of an even grander story, but I feel like George R.R. Martin could have done a better job of splitting the two stories in half. At the end of the book, Martin talks about how he thought about leaving a "To be continued", as his initial plan was to have all of the characters present, and to spread the book's legs out a bit more. But instead, he decided to split the characters of this story in half, which in the end, I think was a bad move. Better to have half of a story with interesting characters dispersed throughout, rather than half of a story with only boring characters instead. That just doesn't fly in my book. Pacing is everything to me, and this one mostly moves at a snail's pace throughout. Only the last 100 pages or so are thrilling.

That said, Martin is too good a writer to give this book any less than three stars. If I was able to read through 976 pages, then it couldn't have been that bad, right? And it wasn't. I've put down shorter books than this because I couldn't get through them, so the fact that I finished this one is a testament to Martin's storytelling. Even the boring stuff is worth reading, I guess.

If you've read the other three books, then you have to read this one. You'll suffer through most of it, but will feel rewarded in the end. I look forward to A Dance of Dragons.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Interview With Colony Earth Author, Regina M. Joseph

Hey, Regina. Please tell us about the Alterran Legacy series. Where did you get the idea?

As life-long avid reader of diverse genres, I decided a few years ago to investigate our earliest civilizations. Not much exists, other than mythology and the Bible. One of the most interesting and complete set of so-called myths were found in long-buried clay tablets from the Sumerian civilization They told of their ancient civilization being nurtured by those who came from the stars. Each city had its patron god who lived in the central ziggurat. According to the legend, the star dwellers were ruled by a family headed by Anu and his sons En.Lil and En.Ki. Taking this myth as fact, I wondered how an advanced technological society could devolve into being run by a single family, and what was happening on their home planet to lead them to colonize Earth. Drawing upon our own political and societal trends, as well as the expanding resource of the Internet, I surmised their home world and why Anu’s two sons came to be stationed on Earth.

Fascinating stuff. Please explain the "Age of Sumeria". That has a very Dune-sy feeling to me for some reason, which is good, because I love Dune.

Sumeria was in fact an ancient civilization covering extensive territory, primarily in what is now Iraq. At the civilization’s height, it was lush with vegetation. Imagine coming from a primitive hunter-gatherer society and chancing to find the great walled city of Nippur, where all the people were well fed through agriculture and their city homes are filled with amenities. All from the immortal god who dwelled in the ziggurat.

Ah, so I was way off. :/ Oh, well. Geography has never been my strong suit. But let's get more into your personal life. Who were some of your influences growing up? Has sci-fi always been your genre of choice?

Growing up in Zanesville, Ohio, there wasn’t much to do other than read. I think I read every book available in the children’s section. One of my early favorites were the science fiction novels of Andre Norton. But I read virtually everything. I’m a lawyer by profession.

Ah, yes. It says that on the biography of your website. Speaking of your biography, it also says that your first installment, Colony Earth, won first place in the Global eLit award in science fiction. Can you please tell us how you entered that and what it felt like to win first place?

I saw an advertisement for the contest and submitted by novel, never expecting that I would win. I was completely amazed at winning. It was awesome!

What do you have in store next for your fans?

The third installment of The Alterran Legacy Series follows Anu to Alterra, where his rivals are making plays for power. With Alterra in focus, I can explore ways in which the Internet, mind implants, cloning, and our other technologies may evolve, for better or worse.

Sounds good. Are there any other genres that interest you? Would you ever, say, write a fantasy novel? Or a mystery?

I like exploring the changes that will hit our society as longevity lengthens, especially through the creation of new drugs or procedures, such as the rejuvenation chamber used by the Alterrans. There are various contemporary ways to explore this breakthrough. Wouldn’t it be odd if grandma took a course of treatment to become as young looking as the grandkids?

That would be odd. So, what is it like being an author in Ohio? Do you put any Ohio influences in your story?

Northwest Ohio has great parks, which are good for taking long walks and thinking through plots. Also, with few traffic jams to consume my time, I have more time for writing!

Excellent! Is there anything else you would like to talk about or plug?

I really appreciate this opportunity to talk about my book!!! Thank you so much.

No, thank you! The pleasure was all mine.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interview with Quake Author, Lisa Arrington

Today, I talk to Quake author, Lisa Arrington. Hello, Lisa.


Please tell us about Quake. Give us a synopsis.

Ali and Caden thought they were your average teenagers trying to navigate high school pressures and college decisions.

During a camping trip all of that changes when an earthquake ushers in an alien invasion on their small desert hometown.

Lives are lost and friendships are tested as Ali and Caden, along with their best friends, begin running for their lives. However, nothing can prepare them for the secrets they discover when they begin learning more about themselves then they ever thought possible.

Aliens, huh? Interesting. What genre would you classify your book as? Is this a sci-fi novel?

I would say that Quake is perfect for the young adult crowd, although most of my readers have been adults. It is classified as sci-fi due to the content.

I see. And why did you pick the location that you did? Can you tell us more about it?

Tucson is my hometown! I love it here and thought that writing about the beauty of the desert would be the perfect setting for an alien invasion. Plus, everything happens in LA or NY, so it also made sense to write about it happening in the last place it would actually happen!

This is true that most stories take place in NY and LA. I never really thought about it. I guess you just take it for granted. So where did you come up with the characters for your book?

The protagonist, Ali, is loosely based on my teenage self. The other characters are loosely based on a combination of family, friends and other people that I admire.

I see. And what is southern Arizona like? Do you try to infuse this setting in your writing?

HOT! LOL. It is one of those places that as a child you can't wait to leave, but then as you grow older you realize the subtle beauty of it. The mountains, the cacti, the sunsets. Absolutely gorgeous. Quake is the first story that I have set in Tucson. The sequel has been moved to another 'no way would that happen there' location, but I do have another story in mind that may be set here.

Glad to hear you're already working on the sequel. On your author's bio, it says that you can usually be found with a Kindle in your hand. Do you prefer reading on a tablet or with a physical copy, and if so, why?

Mostly I love the Kindle because it has tons of books on it and I can also use it for my writing. There are very few books that I wish I would have gotten a physical copy of but if I run across one of those I will go out and buy it right away. My family thinks I'm nuts for having two copies of things!

It's not nuts. I do it, too, sometimes. So what's it like raising two boys and being a mother?

It is never a dull moment, let me tell you that. My sons are 14 (nearly 15) and 9. The age difference has always been a huge issue for them, but I think (I hope) that it's getting easier. They are able to have conversations now and hang out without wanting to beat up each other. I love being the mom of boys. I love that they are active and play basketball and football. I'm kind of a loud person, so these sports are perfect for cheering. Being a mom is a great.

It sounds it. So, what is you favorite "mind-numbing" game on your phone? Please don't say Candy Crush. :)

LOL! You caught me. I will waste so much time on that game. My youngest has also got me to play Subway Surfers and I like 4 pics 1 song.

Excellent. Is there anything else you would like to talk about or plug?

Hmmmm, if there is anything else that people would like to know about me please follow my social sites: Blog: Twitter: Facebook:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Interview With In The Beginning Author, Abby L. Vandiver

Today, I interview the talented, Abby L. Vandiver, author of the mystery/sci-fi novel, In the Beginning. Hello, Ms. Vandiver.


Please tell us about your debut novel, In the Beginning. What exactly makes it "quasi" sci-fi? Could you explain that, please?

My book is fact mixed with fiction, so I think it’s quasi sci-fi because some things I write about are true. Additionally, it doesn’t get sci-fi-ish until the last chapters of the book and I don’t want sci-fi fans to get disappointed when they read the first two-thirds of the book and it’s a mystery.

Fair enough. I'm glad you make that distinction. Where did you get the ideas for this book?

Well, to be honest, I can’t remember where I got the idea. I wrote the book back in 1997. I’ve been trying to remember. All I remember is that I lost my job, was feeling kind of low and decided, “I’ll write a book?” Instead of, “Let me find a job.” But, however I came up with the idea I’m glad I did because at the time I published I don’t think there are any other books that has my idea.

It's interesting that you say that, because I haven't heard of many mystery/sci-fi novels of note. But could you explain that a bit more? When you say your book mixes "fact with fiction", what do you mean? What is the actual fact aspect of your book?

Good question. In my book I talk about historical events, the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls and them being withheld from public view and the controversy over some of our ancient mysteries. And to explain those things I’ve taken factual information from scientists, NASA and other scholars.

Fascinating stuff. You were once an attorney and a college professor. Why did you decide to take up writing full time?

I got sick back in 2011 and didn’t want the stress from working to interfere with my recovery, yet I knew I needed to make a living. I have three degrees, a bachelor’s in Economics, a master’s in Public Administration and a JD and I thought, surely I can figure out something to do from home. Of course, I didn’t utilize any of those degrees as I ended up starting an e-magazine, and a publishing company and that led to me writing. I loved it so much and it was so relaxing, I thought maybe I could make a go of it.

It's good that you did! And what did you happen to teach as a college professor. Did it impact your book?

I taught Macro and Micro Economics and Comparative Economics. But it’s funny, none of my educational background was incorporated into my book. You’d think I’d at least write a courtroom drama. But I didn’t. And the next two books I’m working on have nothing to do with my training either

That's so interesting. In my first book, I definitely put some of my profession as a teacher in there. I don't see how I couldn't. But tell us more about these next two books of yours. I see that you're developing a series loosely based on your family. Can you tell us what makes your family interesting?

My mother was born in Jim Crow south in 1914 (She had me at 45). Her mother died when she was two and her father took all six children and split them up between his sisters. Each sibling had a different history, suffered through different things, but my mother, after they became adults, tried to keep them all together. Tried to keep Family. And during the time she came up there was so much going on - Civil rights, blacks migrating to the north, two world wars, and technology bursting out at the seams from the television to the atomic bomb. I just think it’s a good time period for a book. Plus, she told me a million stories, probably half of them not true, but I want to weave them into a fictional book.

I'll look for that when you're done with it. Can you please tell us about the sequel to In the Beginning that you're currently working on?

Sure. The name of the sequel is The Westbury End Book Club. It tells the story of how the manuscripts that turn up in In the Beginning got into the caves at Qumran, who put them there and all the things that are in them. This one I may make a little more exciting, but it’ll still be about family and perseverance. It’ll be out at the end of this year.

Cool. That's good. Can you tell us why you decided to sell your book independently, and where can people pick it up?

I have this thing in my head, which people get on me about, that I can do anything if I try. So, I decided instead of searching for someone to publish my book, I would do it myself. I set out to learn everything I could and I did it. It made me feel even happier about my book. I wrote it, I designed the cover and I published it. Plus, my mother always told me that if you want something done right, do it yourself. You can pick up a copy of my book on Amazon, Smashwords and on goodreads.

Sounds good. Is there anything else that you would like to discuss or plug?

No, nothing else other than I want to say thank you for interviewing me about my book. I need all the publicity I can get. So, “thank you,” and I hope your readers will pick up a copy of my book.

Oh wait, I guess I should plug my other book, the one based on my family. It is titled “1203” set in Birmingham, Alabama and Cleveland, Ohio during 1947-1977. It’s not only about family, but the interracial marriage, discrimination, murder, the number’s racket and a lot more. Look for it the early part of 2014.

Excellent, looking forward to it, and thanks again.

My pleasure.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review of The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese FalconThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked The Maltese Falcon, and I can understand its legacy. For a book that came out in the 1930s, it's amazing that Dashiell Hammett got away with what he did. This book was ahead of its time, and its content is taken seriously. This is a very mature book, and I like it for that reason. It's worth your time.

For those who have already seen the movie, the book follows the same thread. In that way, you really don't have to read the book if you're just interested in the plot. But you really should read the book, since Hammett is an amazing writer. The way he describes Sam Spade's womanizing and exploits is very straight and to the point, just as you'd expect a detective novel should be.

That said, being that this is one of the first in the genre, I must say that the twists and turns aren't as exciting as they would be if I had read the book when it initially came out. But that's more my fault than the author's, who did an amazing job at getting me invested in the twisty tale. Plus, I really love the ending. It's different and it opens up the notion that the story of Sam Spade continues, even if this little adventure is over.

Overall, if you like well-written characters, then give this a read. It's short and it's wonderful.

View all my reviews

Interview With Author, J. Thomas Powell

Your book, Vermont Voodoo, features both zombies AND voodoo. What was the reasoning behind combining such distinct supernatural concepts and creatures?

I knew I wanted to write about zombies from the beginning, but with all the TV and movie versions out there I knew I'd have to do something unique. The idea of the zombie originates from stories about voodoo in the New World, and early cinema used this trope often. Since George Romero we really haven't seen much of the voodoo zombie, and it was a lot if fun bringing that monster back to life (heh heh). The problem was that most portrayals of voodoo are laced with racist stereotype, and it was a challenge to work against the stereotypes while keeping a light, campy tone.

Cool. Now let's talk about location. The story takes place in Vermont. Why Vermont? Is there any specific reason why you chose that specific location to tell your story?

I set the story in Vermont for two reasons. First, it was thematically important to s set the story in a dying industrial city, and you see a lot of that in New England. Second, I thought it would be a lot of fun making my heroes flee from the undead in a snowstorm.

Indeed. That does sound pretty fun (and scary). Next question, and it also pertains to location. According to your website, you were born in Upstate New York and studied at Syracuse for a film degree, but now you live in Texas. What's wrong? Were you trying to escape the terrible snow storms here on the east coast?

I'm so happy that I'm living in Texas these days, and yes, a big part of that has to do with the weather. That being said, I've always enjoyed moving around and seeing different parts of the country. I spent every summer as a kid traveling up and down the East Coast, and living in Texas had made it easy to explore the South, especially places like New Orleans. I get a ton of inspiration by travel. This year I had an opportunity to go hiking in Nepal, which, let me tell you, was a trip and a half. Hopefully there will be lots more international travel in my future.

It's interesting that you got a film degree. Do you also dabble in film?

I worked at a production company in NYC straight out of college where my job was to read and evaluate screenplay submissions. After doing that I got into writing screenplays, and then writing novels. I still do some video editing on the side, and my screenplays are being submitted to festivals, so who knows? Maybe you'll see some of my work on the big screen. My dream job would be to write and produce independent movies, but whatever happens I hope to stay balanced between my film life and my literary life.

Nice. Now, back to your book. Where did you get the inspiration for it?

Vermont Voodoo is the first book I've ever written, and going into it I knew my biggest challenge would be finding the material and the stamina to write something that long. That's why I choose zombies; there's lots of material to explore and I could keep myself entertained with my monsters the whole way through. The fictional city of Frostbite is very similar to Syracuse, where I grew up. But my biggest inspiration may have come from my friend Daniel Cailler and his novel, Waking. Also set in a gritty industrial city, Waking is about a group of vampires and a hunter on a quest for revenge; I had the pleasure of writing a screen adaptation of Dan's book, and Vermont Voodoo has plenty of winks and nudges aimed at Dan. We work pretty well together, and if you like my book you should check his out, too.

Groovy. Now, can you tell us about National Novel Writing Month and how you're connected to it?

National Novel Writing Month, which is more commonly referred to as NaNoWriMo, is organized by the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light. Basically it's a challenge issued every November to write 50,000 words in one month or less, which is a short novel. You log your word count into their web site each day and if you reach the 50k goal by the end of the month you win... Bragging rights! And a novel. Which you wrote. It's wildly popular for writers and writing enthusiasts and a great educational tool, as well as a support system for getting that first draft on the page, as I did with Vermont Voodoo. I love NaNo.

Sounds legit. Okay, two part question. If you could have any super power, what would it be, and with said power, would you be a hero or a villain?

My superpower would be to invent doughnuts without any calories. Wait, that's not a superpower. Okay, my superpower would be hyper intelligence, and I would use that power to invent doughnuts and possibly funnel cake without any calories. That also cures diabetes. The hero part should go without saying.

Best. Power. Ever! Okay, is there anything else you would like to talk about or plug? Another project?

Of course you can buy my book, Vermont Voodoo, on Amazon in paperback or kindle format. But you should also follow me on Twitter @knid44 for updates, giveaways, promos, and general musings. I am working on a new sci-fi novel titled The Geneticist's Son, which should be out next year.

Excellent! Okay, thanks for the interview.

My pleasure. Thank you.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Wow, and I mean wow! While the first book is still my favorite as it truly immersed me into the world of Game of Thrones, I'd be hard-pressed not to know why most people consider this book to be their favorite. I mean, so much goes on in it. And major things, too. Big deaths, big changes, and a gonzo ending that makes me wonder where the hell this story is going next. I mean, as I said before, WOW upon WOW! It's such a great book.

That said, it does get really slow at parts, namely in the Bran and Arya sections. I really couldn't care less about their tales in this book, and they're long, especially Arya's. If you watch The Game of Thrones show, you'll know what a big role she plays in this book. For a majority of it, she travels, but she seems to be running in place. By the end, you're upset by her journey. It really didn't seem to be worth it. Bran is much the same way. You really feel that his quest is traction-less. But the rest of the characters have much to be valued and explored here, especially Jaime, who was probably my favorite character in this book since his change is the greatest of them all.

Overall, I think book 3 is better than book 2, but not as good as book 1. But you still have to read it. It's too good not to.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 9, 2013

Interview With How I Exiled My Inner Bitch Author, Miv Evans

Short and sweet. That's how Yahoo contributor and author, Miv Evans, likes to keep her interviews. Short and sweet. I had the pleasure of talking with her about her debut book, How I Exiled My Inner Bitch and other things. Here's how it all went down.

Please tell us about How I Exiled My Inner Bitch-The Book.

I was inspired to write it after listening to a lot of my friends complaining about their partners' kids, and the complaints of the kids!

Yeah. It can get a bit annoying at times. Outside of writing books, you also write film reviews. Can you tell us about that?

The majority of the negative reviews I've had published are for studio releases, as my policy is to write nothing at all if I think an indie is unworthy of praise. There are, however, exceptions, the most current of these being Layla Versus. This film was so tedious I nearly nodded off but, when I went to the press day, the writer/director compared his film to Bridesmaids, claiming his was more authentic. Apart from being a huge hit, I think Bridesmaids is one of the funniest comedies ever made, and I couldn't wait to get back to the office to start work on Layla's epitaph.

Ha! Nice. You actually have a twitter account of "inner bitchisms". Can you tell us about that?

Inner Bitchisms will be posted regularly as soon as the book is published. Nothing is from the book, so you'll miss out if you don't follow #innerbitchisms

Done and done. Now, your book starts off with a ten year old girl watching an R rated movie. What was your first R rated movie and how old were you when you watched it? Did it seriously impact your life?

I honestly can't remember my first R rated film. I can remember Last Tango in Paris, which was the abridged version, but before that is a blank.

Fair enough. My first R-Rated film was The Exorcist. I couldn't sleep for weeks! Now, you also sold a comedy drama to BBC TV. What was it about?

It was titled The Metal Movers. John Howard Davies, the director of Fawlty Towers, was attached, together with Ruth Caleb, the producer of Shirley Valentine. It was based on my experiences as a female car dealer. As the only woman in a male environment, I was the butt of much humor, and decided it was all too good to waste!

Awesome. I have to check that out. I love Fawlty Towers. Coming from Wales, do you ever put your Welsh sensibilities in your writing?

The only Welsh trait I'm aware of is that we pry on our neighbors. When I meet people, I always ask loads of questions, but I'm not sure if being nosy is a sensibility!

That's actually a universal trait. And finally, How I Exiled My Inner Bitch is your debut novel. What other novels can we expect from you?

How I Exiled My Inner Gigolo and How I Found My Inner Sociopath. A trilogy!

Sounds great! Thanks.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Interview With Drop Out Author, Neil Ostroff

(Image taken from:

Today, we have a really special treat. Neil Ostroff has been getting more and more exposure with his book, Drop Out, and he was kind enough to swing by for an interview. Hello, Mr. Ostroff.


Please tell us about Drop Out and how it's different from your previous work, which has typically been sci-fi based.

I’ve been a thriller sci-fi writer for more than twenty years now and over that span of time my books have gotten the attention of numerous literary agents and publishers. In 2005, I signed with a major literary agent from a major NY literary agency. This agency had sold hundreds of books and film rights, some for as much as seven figures. I was very excited.

Wow. Pretty cool.

My agent loved all six (at the time) of my books and like all good agents edited them and provided insight to help make the stories more saleable, all without asking for a dime in advance. We had several exciting close-call deals and a few heart-racing moments while waiting to see what kind of money was going to be offered. My agent encouraged me to keep writing more books and truly believed that one day I’d hit it big.

Then something happened that turned my world around; a close friend was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. But here’s the kicker… he was given just two weeks to live. He went from his nine-to-five life, to knowing he had a very limited amount of time left. Having no close family and no money for a good hospital, he was left with little option except to die alone. It is then that my wife and I decided to hospice him.

I'm sorry to hear that. My family put my aunt into a hospice a couple years back. It was an unreal experience.

Yes. It was an incredibly powerful experience watching as his life slipped away and how he dealt with it psychologically. When the day finally came that he passed on, I was there to shut off the ventilator and pull the sheet over his head. I’ve never been the same since.

As a writer, I wanted to capture something of the moment and relay what I learned from watching someone’s life end. Having never written a literary fiction novel before, I suddenly found myself in the throes of a powerful statement about the meaning of life. DROP OUT was written in a fanatic ten day period.

When I sent the completed manuscript off to my agent, he was extremely disappointed that I had gone this literary route and had no intentions of ever trying to sell the book. I had no intentions of letting the book sit in a drawer, so after a few emails and telephone calls we decided to end our partnership. I was devastated to be back among the ranks of agent-less authors.

And then, an amazing thing happened.

I indie published DROP OUT a little over a year and a half ago, and since then sales have grown steadily each month. At this point, nearly ten thousand copies of the book have been downloaded and I’ve gotten to as low as 1,500 on Amazon’s paid sales ranking. But what is most heart-warming and gives me the most satisfaction is the emails and reviews that I’ve gotten telling me how the book has changed people’s lives. Almost every review is a five star and what the reader’s are saying… well, check it out yourself.
(Image taken from

Oh, don't worry. I will. What do you attribute the success of Drop Out to?

I think Drop Out is getting a lot of attention because it has a deep message that people can relate to: Life is precious. The character’s touch readers deeply, simply because each has lost so much and then finds strength through the other.

I see. You write on your blog about how you're happy that you were dropped by your agent because it granted you freedom as a writer. Do you plan to release all of your books independently from now on?

Absolutely! I wasted a lot of time waiting, waiting, waiting, for responses from publishers after my agent would submit a manuscript. What’s amazing is how much junk is published because the stories are stripped of anything controversial or scenes are deleted simply because they don’t appeal to the mainstream even if they are vital to the story being told. My books are way too non-mainstream for a politically correct, big-business publisher.
(image taken from:

I hear ya. You have also said on your blog that Drop Out has affected readers. Can you give an example?

I can give two very recent examples and the reviews are posted on Amazon to see. In fact, all my Amazon reviews basically say how the book has affected readers. The first is a review by an 82 year old woman who said the book has lifted her depression and literally was a spiritual experience to read. The second was an email I received from a reader who is dying of pancreatic cancer, like the character in Drop Out. He told me the book has helped ease his fears of death and that it has helped him deal with his situation. That’s heavy duty stuff.

Wow. That's amazing. Your book is really making a difference. That said, it's different from your other books. So, do you plan on going back to sci-fi, or is literary fiction your thing now, given how much people have reacted to it?

I tend to write what I want and what comes to me, which is the best benefit of indie publishing. Right now I’m just about finished with my thirteenth novel, a dystopian sci-fi, and I’m outlining a new novel which is going to be a literary life-changer, like Drop Out.

Nice, I look forward to those. Now, some personal questions. Who are your favorite authors, and how have they impacted you?

Stephen King is my God. I’ve read just about everything by him. I try to write my books the way he does, with every sentence having an impact on the reader. When I’m not reading Stephen King, I’ll page through just about anything. One of my favorite pastimes is going to the used bookstore 25 cent rack and picking up a dozen random novels. I’ll page through each, and if the story hooks me by the second page, I’ll read the entire thing.

Stephen King's a good choice. What's next for you?

As I mentioned, I’m finishing up a novel now, and have another outlined and will start that at the end of summer. I have two more completed novels sitting in a drawer, but they are literary and personal, and I think may not be ready for a general audience. Maybe if I hit it big and readers want to devour everything I’ve done, I may publish them.

Sounds good. And finally, some fun questions about you outside of your writing. You can answer them in one word responses if you like.

Pizza Hut or Dominoes?

Neither. I only eat pizza from family owned pizzerias.

What's usually better, the book or the movie?

Always the book. I love getting inside the mind of a character which is hard to do in movies.

Who had better hits, The Beatles or Michael Jackson?

The Beatles.

Finally, if you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be?

I would love to spend an afternoon drinking coffee with Stephen King and discussing the strangest plots woe could come up with.

Good stuff. Anything else you want to plug?

My books are available for all electronic readers and devices. Please follow my blog to learn more about me and my journey to indie fame. Here is a brief list of sites I belong too. Thanks and good reading.

ALWAYS WRITING A blog about the writing life, making it as an indie author, and showcasing the books I write. Please check it out.

Amazon author central page:

Authors den

Facebook author page!/pages/Facebook-Page-of-Author-Neil-D-Ostroff/124794694205967


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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Interview With The Check Out Author, Richard A. Lester

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing the author, Richard A. Lester, whose book, The Check Out, is on sale today. Pleasure to talk to you. Please tell us about The Check Out.

The Check Out is a satirical thriller about a group of degenerate grocery store employees who decided, independently of each other, to heist $10,000 worth of prize money. They are each mired in their own circumstances, and see the money as the only way out. There is plenty of action, humor, and even some emotional weight.

That sounds great. But it also appears that this isn't the first tale you've ever told. You have also written the short stories Dinner For One and Father McKenzie. Can you tell us the difference between putting together a novel and a short story?

I have written a few short stories, as well as the novel. The stories that I write are usually confined to a single main character, and generally take place in few locations. I can finish a first draft of a story in a matter of hours. I don’t normally outline a short story, as the plot isn’t that complex. For The Check Out, I spent months gathering ideas, outlining events, and writing it. At this point, I am steering away from the short stories, in favor of novels. I like spending more time with the characters, and delving deeper into the plot.

A novel does have a certain quality to it that a short story can't match, and vice versa. But you have other talents outside of writing. Can you tell us about the trailer you made for The Check Out? It's really cool.

The trailer was a lot of fun to do. I have worked in independent films for a while now, and have lots of friends who are active in the local scene. My very talented friends at Azbest Films did the shooting for me. We spent a few hours driving around town, getting a few shots. We filmed everything else in a backyard. It’s amazing how you can do a few simple things to make a wall look like a jail cell. As for the style, I wanted it to look like a 1970’s exploitation film. That was a huge influence on the actual book, and I wanted the trailer to convey that idea.

Sounds like fun. Outside of telling stories, you've also done some very noble things, such as taking donations for the terrible tornadoes that struck Oklahoma. What led you to decide to get into such a cause?

As a human being, I believe it is my duty to do as much as I can to help those in need. Taking donations and sending the profits from my short stories was a very easy way to do something positive. I have plans to do more for my own community in the future. I believe that anyone who is lucky enough to earn money by entertaining should use it to benefit others who need it.

Again, that's very noble of you.

Thank you.

Back to your creative side. According to your Amazon page, you are also an independent director. Can you tell us about that?

I have worked in independent film, off and on, for the past ten years. I wrote and directed a movie called “Night of the Snakehead Fish,” which is actually celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Since then, I’ve worked on a number of shorts for other people. I shoot and edit; sometimes I write. After writing script after script that I couldn’t afford to film, I decided to turn my attention to novels. I don’t have to get a crew together, or hire actors. There are tons of scenes in The Check Out that I’d never have the budget to film.

One interesting anecdote about film making: After I directed Snakehead Fish, I was working at the record store I was employed at. I heard someone say "Aren't you the guy that directed that independent film?" I looked up at the person, but didn't recognize him. I looked around, trying to see if he was talking to someone behind me, and realized he wasn't. So, I said that I was that guy. He asked me how I got it released on DVD (this was before everyone was making digital films left and right), and we chatted for a while. He told me that he was working on a new film with Ludacris and Terrance Howard. Turns out, that guy was director Craig Brewer. At the height of his fame, I used to tell people "Brewer? Oh yeah, that's the man who asked if I was the director of a film!"

Whoa. That's pretty cool. I love Black Snake Moan. What do you want readers to get out of The Check Out?

I want readers to have a damn good time with my book. It’s meant to be a quick, entertaining romp. There’s not really a message or deeper meaning here. It’s just supposed to be fun.

Yeah, I agree. Books should be fun. Is there anything else that you would like to plug or talk about?

For readers that are curious about my interest in film, I also run a movie review blog entitled A Reel Indication. I tend to focus on more obscure fair, but there’s new stuff up there, as well. I’m always looking for contributors!

Cool. I'll make sure I stop by. Thanks for your time.

Thank you.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Video Review of The Shining

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Interview With ToThe Swift Author, Missy Michaels

Today, we interview author, Missy Michaels to talk about her novel, To The Swift. Hello Missy. Can you tell us about your book? Loving the title, by the way. 

Thank you for the compliment on my title! My novel tells the story of Daniel and Monica LeBlanc. When they marry, they barely know each other.  Despite their different backgrounds the couple builds a happy loving marriage. After the birth of their three children and almost ten years into their marriage Daniel develops a weakness for alcohol. Monica loves Daniel but she is fed up with his drinking and decides to leave the marriage. In an attempt to save their relationship they move to Memphis, TN from Louisiana. They make friends but one of their new friends sets a goal to destroy exactly what Daniel and Monica are trying to save.

Nice, sounds juicy. Why did you decide to set the novel in Memphis, TN? That's an interesting location.

 I chose Memphis, TN because I have lived in the city before and I really like the music, the food, Beale Street and the city’s history. I am a fan of Beale Street, Memphis barbecue and the Riverfront.

 Yes. I hear the barbecue in Memphis is sensational. Let's talk about your book's length. At 205 pages, it's a brisk read. Was that a conscious decision to not make it too long? 

 Actually, it wasn’t. I was just watching the story unfold before my eyes.

Fair enough. :) Now tell us about yourself. What's Fort Hood, Texas like? 

My dad switched to the civilian life when I was 2 years old so me and my siblings actually grew up in Springfield, MO. It’s a small city in the Midwest and it was a great place to grow up. I was a quiet skinny kid who loved to read. I was in Girl Scouts in elementary school. By junior high I was involved in journalism and running on the track team in relays. In high school I was on the school newspaper staff, the yearbook staff, marching band and a sprinter for our track team. Springfield, MO has the distinction of being the original location of the Bass Pro Shops. When I was in my 20’s and living in Dallas, TX I worked for a hotel that put our name and the city we were from on our name tags. Guests would always get excited when they saw Springfield, MO and mention the Bass Pro Shops.

Interesting. And I like that you did journalism back in school. I did, too! Now, your bio says that you have a lifelong fear of flying. Have you ever been on a plane? 

I haven’t yet and I’m actually trying to keep it that way. I’ve planned a few trips but I still haven’t gotten around to actually confirming the flight. Maybe one day. I do love road trips though.

 (Image taken from:

Who doesn't? Your bio also says that you love collecting Hot Wheels. Can you tell us what got you into collecting them?  

I have one daughter and two sons. When my sons were small they loved to play with Hot Wheels on their racetrack. When I was shopping for new cars with them I came across a Nestle Crunch Chevy Camaro and I was officially hooked. I have a cool looking collection.

 That is cool. I was always more of a Micro Machines guy myself growing up, though. Now let's talk about the protagonist of your book. How do you think you would fare if you were put into similar situations?  

I would most likely be under the care of a grief counselor and a psychologist.

Ha. Sounds like a lot of drama.  Some people have actually called your book a love story. Would you classify your book as romance or as something else entirely? 

I would not classify it as a romance. I was so surprised to see it referred to that way at first. There are characters who truly love each other and there are some scenes that are pretty hot. Initially I considered To the Swift as contemporary fiction.  After seeing how readers respond to the story I would reclassify it as romantic suspense.

Hmm. Romantic suspense. I like it. Is there anything else you would like to talk about or plug?  

Yes, on the subject of writing, I’m working on a ghost story and I’m also writing another novel that will bring back some of the characters from To the Swift. That actually was not my original intent but I actually received some messages on my Facebook page practically demanding it. On a personal note, I’m learning to speak French. So far I’m totally prepared if anyone needs for me to count to 10 en francais! I am also a very proud parent. My daughter recently graduated from Tarleton State University, my oldest son just recently enlisted in the military, he’s now a soldier at Fort Sill, OK and my youngest is starting his senior year of high school this fall. And I want to request that everyone who sees this interview, check out To the Swift! I think you’ll enjoy it. 

I think so, too. Thanks for the interview, Missy. 

You're welcome. Thank you.

As posted before, you can find Missy's book here.  

You can find her on Facebook here

And this is her Goodreads account. She's very personable. Become her fan!

Friday, August 2, 2013

On killing Off Characters

(Image taken from:

Before I finished heavily editing my last book, The Darkness of the Womb, one of my friends told me that some of the characters seemed indestructible. He said that I leave a lot of close calls but no real danger, which, in the end, hurt the story.

Well, I really thought about that and knew right then and there what I had to do. I had to kill off one of my main characters. Only then could you sense that danger was real in my world.

This sort of unpredictability is important in any story, but it can't just be a meaningless death for the sake of having a death. If it didn't impact the plot or advance the story in some way, then I knew the reader would become even more distant with the narrative. And there's nothing worse than the curtain being pulled back only to reveal that there's an actual author telling the story. The best writing makes you forget that the author even exists at all until the end of the book, to which you want to thank them. So kill your characters off with caution. It's a big decision. Make sure that it's the right one.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Interview with Michael Brookes

Welcome to my blog. As the title suggests, I love books. All kinds of them! I love regular published, self-published, mainstream, independent, you name it! This will be a site where I review books and do interviews. I'm really critical, so if I don't like the book, you'll know. Believe me, you'll know. If you want to find my book, The Darkness of the Womb, you can pick it up here. Please give it a look, booooooy. Or giiiiiiiirl. :) And please give it a review on Amazon, even if you think the book sucked. Okay, now onto our first guest, Michael Brookes. He writes horror and fantasy. Speak on it, Michael!

(Image taken from: Goodreads)

According to your blog, The Cult of Me, you are a game producer by day. What kind of games do you produce?

I work at one of the leading game develops here in the UK - Frontier Developments. I've worked on a number of titles - RCT3, Thrillville, Kinectimals, LostWinds and I'm currently working on Elite: Dangerous, which is pretty cool as this is the sequel to the game that got me into gaming back in the mid-eighties.

You also say that you're a writer by night. What kind of books and stories do you write?

I tend to write horror (ish) stories, generally with a metaphysical flavour. I've recently branched into science fiction with my novel Faust 2.0 and I have just completed the first draft for Sun Dragon, the story about the first manned mission to Mars.

One of your books is actually called "The Cult of Me". You seem to really like that title. What does it mean to you?

When I was coming up with the title for that novel it fitted the idea of the story (about a person who centres everything on himself and is able to mould people around him to the same way of thinking). I also like the sound of it, so I used it for my blog as well.

You have done a lot of author interviews on your blog. Is there any reason why you've chosen to support so many independent writers?

I found the indie author scene to be full of helpful people, so I decided that I want to give something back so I do what I can to help promote other indie authors. It's also a great way to meet new authors.

It is! What is your favorite song, and why do you love it so much?

Always a tricky question to reduce it to one choice! I'll go with the 'Mythhistory' by a band called Sabbat. The reason is mainly for the lyrics which are simply superb:

Mother, sister, virgin, whore
She is all these, and yet still more
That I could to understand,
She takes my heart, I take her hand

And can you blame me?
Is it such a crime?
To crave for one small piece of Heaven.
that I can call mine.

Wonderful lyrics.

One of your favorite things to do is sleep when you have the time (Which seems to be rarely). What's the craziest dream you've ever had?

Another tricky question as I tend to only remember fragments. I like falling dreams though, there's something quite awesome about leaping from asteroid to asteroid or jumping into the Sun.

I see that you like to write horror. Do you also like to read horror? And if so, who are your favorite authors in the medium?

I do enjoy reading horror and have a number of authors I love reading, as well as the classics like Poe and Lovecraft I also like contemporary authors like King and James Herbert. Clive Barker is also my favourite horror writer.

There's also some great indie horror writers, David Haynes and Kit Tinsley stand out for me.

Two part question: If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and with this power, would you be a hero or a villain? Why?

I would be a villian on the face of it, but I would be using my powers to change the world for good. I love the juxtaposition of bad people doing good things for the wrong reasons.

My choice of superpower is a bit trickier, I would probably go for something boring like being able to read people's minds and see the secrets hidden there.

What are you currently working on and where can we find it?

I'm currently working on 'An Odder Quintet' which is the follow up to my previous short story collection:

A quartet of dark short stories (10,000 words total) each with a twist in the tale. The drabble enhanced edition also contains some of my favourite drabbles (100 word stories).
The Yellow Lady
Grave robbing is a dirty business, in more ways than one. When he disturbs the grave from a childhood scary story he discovers it's not always treasure to be found.

This Empty Place
At the heat death of the universe, Death contemplates his existence.

Forced Entry
Terrorists seize an average suburban house. A Special Forces hostage rescue team is sent in and encounter more than they were trained for.

The Reluctant Demon
A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.

Available from:
Amazon (US):
Amazon (UK):
Barnes & Noble:
iTunes (US):

Do you have any last thing that you want to talk about or plug?

I do - thanks. I run a monthly short fiction contest on my blog. There's no entry fee and you could win a £50 Amazon gift card. Find out more at this month's competition page: