A Perfect 10 with P.C. Zick

Source: A Perfect 10 with P.C. Zick

I’m featured on Don Massenzio’s blog today.

It’s the dog days of summer so it’s time for some sweet deals!

FREE downloads for the next two weeks for the books in the Behind the Love series

Behind the Altar – FREE August 14-16

Behind the Bar – FREE August 17-18

Behind the Curtain – FREE August 22-23

Behind the Door – FREE August 24-25 (New release)

Behind the Love -Social Media




A Merry Mountain Christmas web low resI wrote a novel and a novella this summer. A Merry Mountain Christmas was created as the temperatures soared to near nineties every day and humidity nearly has high. I had to close my eyes and imagine what it looked like in the mountains with a soft coating of snow. It wasn’t as difficult as you might imagine.

Mountain Miracles (release date: September 13) and A Merry Mountain Christmas, Books 3 and 4 in my Smoky Mountain Romance series, gave me a unique opportunity as a writer. The Christmas book was written for the new Christmas Pets and Kisses 2 box set (release date:  October 11)CPK2-3D-transparent and had a hard deadline. Mountain Miracles was written to provide the gap between the last one, Misty Mountain, and the new one for the set. The deadline was all my own.

mountainmiraclesnewSo I began Mountain Miracles with an idea of where I wanted it to end up for A Merry Mountain Christmas. Except it didn’t go as quickly as I had anticipated. I had written three-quarters of the novel when I looked at the calendar and realized I had only a month to write the Christmas novella. So I left the work in progress and moved forward and wrote A Merry Mountain Christmas. The plots depend on one another so it was actually easier than I thought and helped me write a richer storyline for both of the books. At least I hope I accomplished that for the reader. It feels that way as the writer.

I’ll be posting more about both of these books and the box set in the coming weeks. Usually, I like to take a break between projects, but that’s not possible this year. I’m working on another Christmas novella, but I’m having trouble getting into it. I can’t say much about it because it’s for another group project and still a secret, but it’s due December 1 so I better get inspired. The first chapters are written and characters established. It will come.

Then just when I thought I’d be fine, I did something really crazy. I accepted an offer to write a new Valentine story featuring a pet for the Valentine’s Pets and Kisses box set. Due date? December 1.

I’m blessed to have so many projects. Let’s just hope my muse agrees.

Smoky Mountain Romances

Minty's Kiss draft 1_edited-1Minty’s Kiss – Kindle, B&N, Apple, Kobo, Paperback

Misty Mountain – Kindle, B&N, Apple, Kobo, PaperbackMISTY_MOUNTAIN_small

Mountain Miracles – Kindle Unlimited (Preorder, Release: September 13), Paperback

A Merry Mountain Christmas – Paperback only

Christmas Pets & Kisses (2015) – Kindle, B&N, Apple, Kobo

Christmas Pets & Kisses 2 (Release date: October 11, 2016) – Kindle, B&N, Apple, Kobo




Welcome to this edition of Author Wednesday. I’m pleased to present a guest post from author Elaine Cougler, who’s been featured in the past on my blog. She’s the author The Loyalist’s Wife and the The Loyalist’s Luck. She hopes to publish the third in the series in a few months. Today she writes about one of my favorite topics. How do authors manage to write when real life keeps interfering? Here’s how Elaine manages!The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Writing Under Adversity

by Elaine Cougler

I’m one of those perfectionist people for whom planning is second nature—well, maybe even first! When I have speaking engagements they go off pretty much like the proverbial clockwork as I plan well in advance and execute my plan. It gives me comfort to know I have with me what I need for all eventualities. I also plan my writing schedule where I write five days a week in the morning, and I work pretty hard not to have that interrupted.

Book Two

Similarly, I had the timing of my second book (The Loyalist’s Luck) launch all figured out. The cover was perfect, the printer was ready to go with a schedule that would allow me to actually have books at my launch, and my interior book designer was on board. By the time I left for my cruise/reward, the book would be off to the printer.

Now the way my book designer works is I send her the completed manuscript and with magic software she puts it into the actual format for a book. No more Word document. Next, my pages come back to be proofed. I read them most carefully and if I find any errors either in my work or in my designer’s work, I print the page, circle the error with the correction, and send a copy of that page back to my designer.

Simple process, right? For the first book the system worked well. For the second book, days passed before I’d get the next batch of pages. This all meant that I had to keep editing and sending corrections to France while I was on the cruise. My schedule till launch was tight. Too tight. And the email on the Alaska cruise ship was not always reliable. Never mind, I got it all corrected and the final proofed pages sent off to my printer, gem that he is, and the book got printed. We do what we must.

Another time when working under adversity could have derailed me was just over a year ago when my younger sister unfortunately lost her battle with cancer. Of course it was an unbelievably sad and stressful time, but every morning I buried myself in my work, revising, rewriting, rereading, and losing myself in the historical fiction world I’d created. You see, I didn’t have to think about the horrors in my real life. I could lose myself in my writing, and for a few blessed hours, forget. Rather than hinder my writing this personal crisis helped me finish my final manuscript.

Five weeks ago I wrote in my blog that maybe I had appendicitis because of the pain in my side while I was working on that post. Two days later I learned the truth. That dreaded disease, shingles, picked me as its next victim. Even though my skin ached and the nerves in my side and abdomen stabbed me constantly I found a way to prop myself in my chair with my hot water bottle and type. Again, I enjoyed the writing because I forgot what was happening in my real life for those two hours that I worked on the rough draft of the third book in the Loyalist trilogy, The Loyalist Legacy.

Writers, then, often have a choice when bad things happen and it is up to us how we face our problems. We can let them steer us completely away from our writing—and I’ve done that many times—or we can ‘man up’ and find the positive in order to keep going. Now that I know this other side to adversity, I’ll choose to work through it more often. I hope you will, too.

ElaineCouglarAbout Elaine Cougler: A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.



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Book 1: The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon US



Book 2: The Loyalist’s Luck on Amazon US






#2015 – A New Start


I’m not big on resolutions, but I do believe the new year is an opportunity to look back and forward. Then it’s time to get onto the business of NOW.

So first, here’s my look back at what I wrote about my goals for 2014.

1. Establish myself as a best-selling author – I certainly gave it my best effort. I continued establishing social media contacts, and I joined the box set Heroes to Swoon For with ten other authors to make a pretty good stab at best-selling status. 47a53-heroes2bto2bswoon2bfor_3d_medium

2. Finish writing Native Lands and publish it in 2014 – Done!

world travel guide, Morocco, memoir

3. Publish Odyssey to Myself – Another check off the list! 

4. Work on new travel blog, P.C. Zick Travels – OK, so I didn’t work on this one, but I published the essay book! 

5. Establish my editing and formatting business – I started off with a few jobs, but as the year progressed, my own writing and publishing took priority. I am starting off with a few jobs again this year, so contact me if you’re interested in talking about my services.

6. Start a new work in progress by the end of the year – I believe I accomplished this goal. I wrote my first romance, 64Behind the Altar, and published it in September. That novel went into the box set, Heroes to Swoon For. Then I started the next novel in that series, Behind the Bar. I put all of my Florida Fiction Series into a box set in November. ffs_boxset_final


That brings me to 2015 and my new goals for the year.

  1. Continue to pursue my writing dreams – This means I continue writing, publishing, and interacting with colleagues and readers. I’ve been given a great gift, and I will honor it and continue toward success as both an author and an entrepreneur.
  2. Finish Behind the Bar – bb_PBOOK005I hope to finish it in January and publish it by mid-year. I also plan to write the third book in the Behind the Love trilogy, Behind the Curtain. It would be nice to get it published by year’s end as well. I’m still participating in the Romance in a Month class, so that should keep me on track with this series.
  3. Continue to participate in box sets with fellow authors – I submitted Native Lands to the box set, At Odds with Destiny, with nine other authors. This should be released in March. I’m signed up with some other romance authors to write a steamy novella, The Hot Boys of Summer, about my beloved and sometimes beleaguered Pittsburgh Pirates. That will come out in June. I’m also participating in a Christmas box set with a pet theme. My novella will star an old and wise cat named Minty. And then if that’s not enough, last night I signed up to participate in a set about wine. Mine is called the Sins of Zin. Release date on this one will be early 2016.
  4. Finish a work in progress, The Learning Curve – I started this years ago, and it’s set on the banks of the Suwanee River so I’m thinking about changing the title to include the famous river. I look forward to getting back to this novel which will probably turn into a murder mystery–my first attempt at that genre.
  5. Continue to grow as a writer – This includes honing my craft, expanding my horizons by attempting different genres, and learning all I can about the art of writing compelling fiction.
  6. Assist my fellow Indie Authors, as well as those going the traditional route and those who are still trying to figure out which way to go – In 2014, I almost stopped doing Author Wednesday. But then I received such wonderful feedback from the authors I’ve featured, that I kept going, and I’m glad I did. It’s an easy way to give back and help others, and I’ve met some wonderful folks in doing so. I will also continue to write my reviews my way, with positive comments and feedback on the books I read.
  7. Read and then read some more – I have a full Kindle Fire and bookshelves of unread books. It’s one of the best ways to become a better writer.
  8. And finally, I will write, and then I will write some more – I have several novels started with first chapters. I really want to write one about four female friends in their fifties and how they’ve managed to stay friends through husbands, children, divorces, diseases, and deaths. It won’t always be pretty, but it will be real.

My personal goals are to maintain a healthy lifestyle, live with little impact upon the earth, and love others with grace and kindness. Wish me the best!

How about you? What are your goals for 2015? Do you set resolutions? Please leave me a comment – I always love to hear from you.

And thank you for following this blog. I’ve gained some new followers this year, so welcome aboard. I’m grateful for all your support.


Author Wednesday – Cate Beauman

???????????????????????????????Today I welcome back the prolific author, Cate Beauman, who has just released her seventh romantic suspense novel in the Bodyguards of LA County series. This is Cate’s third appearance on Author Wednesday. Her body of work is impressive.05 The Bodyguards of LA County Series

Here’s what Cate has to say about Saving Sophie, the newest installment in her bestselling series. 03 Saving Sophie_3D

Stone and Sophie are as opposite as can be—or so it seems—and that’s why telling their story was so much fun! Readers met Stone in Justice For Abby. He’s a gorgeous bad boy, more interested in taking care of himself than worrying about anyone else. Stone’s a hard-ass. There’s no other way to say it, but everyone has an achilles’ heel. That’s what drew me to Ethan Cooke Security’s latest bodyguard. I kept asking myself what type of woman had the power to bring a man like Stone McCabe to his knees. Enter Sophie Burke, a shy jewelry designer dealing with lots of trouble, and you just might have your answer.

I hope you enjoy Sophie and Stone as much as I enjoyed writing them!


About Saving Sophie

When the only choice is to run…

Jewelry designer Sophie Burke has fled Maine for the anonymity of the big city. She’s starting over with a job she tolerates and a grungy motel room she calls home on the wrong side of town, but anything is better than the nightmare she left behind.

Stone McCabe is Ethan Cooke Security’s brooding bad boy more interested in keeping to himself than anything else—until the gorgeous blond with haunted violet eyes catches his attention late one rainy night.

Stone reluctantly gives Sophie a hand only to quickly realize that the shy beauty with the soft voice and pretty smile has something to hide. Tangled up in her secrets, Stone offers Sophie a solution that has the potential to free her from her problems once and for all—or jeopardize both of their lives.

Read an excerpt from Saving Sophie:

Sophie glanced around one last time at the town she’d called home for more than twelve years as Dylan merged south on the onramp towards Brunswick, knowing she would never come back to the place where she and her mother had made their fresh start.

“Your train leaves at nine. We should make it in plenty of time.”

“I’ve never traveled by train.”

“Me neither.” Dylan moved into the right lane, letting faster traffic pass. “Have you decided where you’ll go?”

She shook her head, even though she’d thought of little else since she woke this morning, knowing today had to be the day. “Somewhere big. Somewhere where he can’t find me.” She swallowed. “He’ll look. He’ll never stop,” she said, staring into the side mirror, waiting for the black Mercedes to rush up behind them and force them to pull over. “You have to be careful.”

Dylan huffed out an amused laugh. “That bastard doesn’t scare me.”

She wished he didn’t scare her either. “Be careful anyway.”

“I will, but he’s a coward.”

“No more than me,” she murmured, glancing down at the hints of bruised skin peeking out from under her sleeves.

Dylan tossed her a look. “Don’t go there.”

She sat back fully in her seat, unable to take her eyes off the mirror until Dylan eventually exited the interstate and drove toward the center of town, stopping in front of the Amtrak station as the train pulled up.

“Looks like you won’t have to wait.” She set the emergency brake and searched through her purse. “Here’s my license.” She handed over the Maine ID and paper ticket she’d bought and printed when Sophie gave her the green light from her kiosk at the mall. “We don’t look all that different with your wig, so this should get you your next ticket in Boston.”

“Thank you.” Sophie leaned over and gave Dylan a big hug. “Thank you so much. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you.”

“Don’t look back, Sophie.” Dylan eased away, squeezing her hand. “Get out of here and never look back. Here are the phone numbers for the Stowers house shelters in Baltimore and LA I told you about—just in case.” She handed over the March copy of Trendy magazine with papers sticking out from the edges.

“Thanks. Please don’t forget to put flowers on my mother’s grave.”

“I won’t.”

She nodded and hugged Dylan for the last time. “Bye.”

“Bye. Take care of yourself.”

“I will.” Sophie got out, sliding her backpack on her shoulder as she made her way to the bored-eyed man at the ticket kiosk.

“Ticket and ID, Ma’am.”

Sophie handed over both, holding her breath, waiting for her plan to fall apart.

“Safe trip.” He gave them back.

“Thank you,” she murmured, letting loose a shaky exhale as she turned and moved toward the train, wanting to run instead of walk. She boarded the first available car and stared out the window as she sat down, watching Dylan pull out of the lot in the rusty hatchback, already missing the only person she’d had a connection with. She bobbed her leg up and down, struggling to keep her fidgeting at bay. Minutes passed, feeling like hours, until finally the doors closed. The train jerked forward, moving toward Boston—the first stop on her journey to freedom.


Cate profile picAbout Cate Beauman: Cate currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. She is the author of the best selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for twelve years.

“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, four years later, I’m currently working on my eighth novel, Reagan’s Redemption, which I plan to release in early spring of 2015. I’m very grateful for the support and success I’ve had.”

 Click here to enter the E-Book Giveaway Contest

Contact Cate

 Amazon Author Page


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Twitter: @CateBeauman






Author Wednesday – Albert Isaac

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome author Albert Isaac who writes science fiction as well as humorous essays on life. His novels are Endless and its follow-up Utopia Revisited, which he recently published.

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Click on cover

In this novel, Astronaut Kyle Lucas Metheny becomes an unlikely savior when his experimental flight goes terribly wrong. He awakes in a strange and unfamiliar future and learns he is there to fulfill a prophecy.

I must make full disclosure here. Back in 2005, Albert and I both lived in the same north Florida town and both were in transitions in our life. Albert had lost his job to downsizing and had just written his first novel. I was in the process of a divorce and starting a new job as editor of two magazines. We didn’t know one another until Albert showed up at one of my book signings. I tell him he came and never left. I hired him as a reporter and columnist for the magazines. Later, when I left to take another job, he replaced me as editor at Tower Publications in Gainesville. He’s still there, and thankfully, he’s still writing. He’s recently compiled some of his columns in the book Life So Far. 

Click on cover

Click on cover

Hello, Albert. It’s wonderful you could visit today and talk about your life as a writer. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

I was very young, maybe seven, when I wrote my first ‘book,’ Billy and his Bellybutton. It was a great hit with my parents and grandparents. I believe I made three issues (still have one!). Truth be told, my voice has changed since then.

That’s great, and I’m happy to hear you still have a copy. You wrote that book, but most of us take longer to actually call ourselves a “writer” or author. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

Fast-forward about forty years, and I could finally officially call myself an author, after publishing my first novel, Endless, in 2005. The book isn’t a bestseller (yet!), but it launched my writing career and led to many great things.

I remember that day you showed up at the book signing. You seemed a little baffled by what to do next. I remember that feeling after publishing my first novel. I’m glad you’ve continued. Let’s talk about writing rituals? Do you have any you’d like to share?

Some people listen to loud music while they write. Some people need absolute silence. My needs are somewhere in the middle. I’ve written comfortably in coffee shops or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office; early in morning or late at night. A lot of the writing occurs in my head as I’m driving the car, or (not) watching TV or lying in bed at night before falling asleep. I don’t have a specific ritual other than when I feel the urge to write, I jump on it. I’ve almost always had full-time work, so carving out writing time can be challenging. But when I’m in the zone, I become hyper-focused, and can produce a remarkable amount of work.

It’s amazing what can be done when the “zone” strikes. What is your vision of yourself as a writer?

I see myself as a novelist and columnist. I enjoy writing about the silly things I’ve done as a kid (and the lessons learned) as well as my life experiences as a husband, father (and now grandfather). My third book, Life So Far is a compilation of some of the columns I have written for local publications during the last five or six years.

It’s a delightful collection of essays, Albert. I found myself laughing out loud sometimes because you capture those silly little things we all do in life and then you turn it around into something positive. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

My first and second science fiction novels chose me. After losing my younger brother in an automobile accident, I began imagining a world without death. Endless sprang from that experience, back around 1978. Over the next several decades, I would go back and improve upon the original work. While I was re-working the final version, the sequel came to life. When Endless was published, I was already halfway through writing its follow-up, Utopia Revisited.

That’s an awful tragedy to endure, yet you were able to make something positive out of it. I’m sure your brother would be proud of you. Do you have particular messages or themes that you try to convey to your readers?

Hope. Humor. Positive thinking. I plan to one day write a book about the remarkable things that happen when we think (and act) in a positive manner. It is really quite remarkable. I very much look forward to writing my success story.

And I’ll look forward to reading it and applauding your success. Since you’re also a journalist, write a paragraph as a reporter writing about you for a newspaper article on up and coming authors.

“Albert Isaac knows a thing or two about death. After all, he spent five years working in a busy emergency room and another twenty working in the medical examiner’s office. But during his days dealing with the dead and dying – indeed, even years before entering these challenging occupations – he imagined a world without suffering. A world without fear. A world without death.”

Excellent. Your journalistic skills shine through! What’s next for you?

Currently in the works (available late 2014) is Life So Far, Volume II. However, for the past several years I’ve been contemplating a novel about my years working for the medical examiner’s office. Other projects have kept me occupied, but the time has come for Life in the Morgue to see the light of day, especially since there is such a great interest in this genre. Perhaps it’s also time to adopt some writing rituals!

I think you’re doing just fine without them. What knowledge have you acquired recently that might assist other writers?

Write what you know. Write first, edit second. I’ve known several writers who spend so much time re-writing their first chapter that they never finish the book. It’s easier to fix your completed story than to write a brilliant first draft.

I can’t help but edit as I go, but I don’t continue to rewrite until I’m all done. That’s good advice. Do all your books have a common theme or thread?

Life. I didn’t plan it that way, but the first two books are about the consequences of living forever, and my collection of columns is entitled Life So Far. Of course, the first two are science fiction books, and the most recent is about things that have actually happened to me. Life. My life.

We’ve talked about your messages, but what kinds of techniques do you like to use in your writing?

One night when I was stuck on a chapter, I jumped on to the middle of the story. On another occasion I decided to write the ending. Both of these techniques were useful because now I knew where the story was going. I could foreshadow upcoming events. I could pace my writing. I’ve also made outlines and sketched out timelines to be sure I stayed consistent. Sometimes the story flows so fast I can barely keep up with the inner dialogue; a character appears from thin air, complete with a name and a face, and takes the story in a completely unexpected direction. I have to ask myself, “Who’s writing this thing?” And you’d best not stop to edit – you just need to keep on transcribing.

You’re right(write) about that. We never quite know where we’re going to be taken. I’m amazed at authors that spend so much time outlining before writing. I never do that. Let’s talk about reviews. We all get them, but what’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

“This science fiction novel truly validates the human soul. Readers quickly escape into a world where people of the twenty-sixth century live beyond 500 years but in doing so have surrendered to the siren song of technology (the grand elixir).”

What’s your one sentence pitch for Utopia Revisited?

An exciting peak into the future where everybody lives forever – almost everybody – and a stark reminder of the consequences of surrendering one’s freedom to technology.

How did you choose the title of Utopia Revisited? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

I tried to find a title that hasn’t been used too much. This was not the original title by any means, and I went through a dozen or more different ideas before finally settling on Utopia Revisited.

How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published?

Eight years. Which seems crazy because I had written well over half of it by 2005. But life gets hectic. I never expected to take so long but I had a lot of new ideas that would have not been included had I rushed through just to hit one of my many self-imposed deadlines.

Sometimes that happens. My work in progress was started in 2006, and then, life happened. Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?

Self-published. Part of the delay in publication was waiting to hear from a traditional publisher. When it was turned down (which, while disappointing, was not surprising) it took the wind out of my sails for about a year. I didn’t want to wait any longer and self-publishing put a book in my hand (and in online bookstores) within a matter of days.

Been there, buddy. I dropped out for awhile, too. Then I saw the revolution in publishing and decided to become a part of it. I’m glad you have, too. What is the message conveyed in Utopia Revisited?

The importance of individuality, free thinking and fully experiencing all that life has to offer – even the bad.

What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

Exciting. Thrilling. Imaginative. Story telling at its best!

Those are great comments. Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.

While finishing Endless, the floodgates to my imagination flew open. As a follow-up, I wanted a novel that could address some unanswered questions, but that would also stand on its own. I was able to tell the back story through the eyes of a stranger from the past. You don’t have to read the first book to understand the second.

What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?

Not much. I fact checked some concepts but, being a work of science fiction, I had the luxury of using my crazy imagination.

Who or what is the antagonist in Utopia Revisited? Did you enjoy creating this character?

There were several antagonists – including a machine – and it was fun creating them. I even brought back the primary antagonist from the first novel.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Utopia Revisited.

My second favorite scene (can’t tell you the first) is a sequence of events where our antagonists catch up with our heroes and some serious conflict ensues. I had to switch back and forth between many simultaneous scenes – often very short – to tell the story in a fast-paced, exciting manner. I think it works. It does for me, anyway. But I’m biased.

Where do you write?

Typically in my home office on a desktop computer. However, I’ve been known to write anywhere on my laptop, from the recliner in front of TV to a cabin in the mountains.

What do you do during your down time?

Vacation with my family. Listen to music. Ride my motorcycle. Daydream. Bicycle with my boy. And watch WAY too much TV.

What book are you reading right now?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – an Inquiry Into Values, by Robert M. Pirsig.

That’s a great book. Do you set your books in the place you live?

Part of Utopia Revisited takes place in my hometown of Miami. Naturally, all of my columns are set where I’ve lived (or vacationed).

Albert Isaac SigningAbout Albert: Albert Isaac is a writer and editor living in north central Florida. Albert studied English, journalism, music and film at the University of Florida, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He then followed the next most logical career path of any well-intentioned English graduate and went to work for the Medical Examiner’s Office and stayed twenty years. However, within him the writer remained and in his spare time he re-wrote a story he had started years before. In 2005, he published Endless. Albert is editor-in-chief for Tower Publications.

Links to books and social media sites:


Authors Den website



Author Wednesday – #New Release of Glimpse of Sunlight

Welcome to Author Wednesday and something a little different today. In the year I’ve been posting Author Wednesday guest posts and interviews, I’ve never had an author not follow through with either the materials or a cancellation apology. It happened with today’s scheduled author so I suppose that’s better odds than I had as an English teacher on the days a major assignment was due!


Click on cover for Amazon page

As I was figuring out what to do, my friend and colleague Leona Bodie (see previous Author Wednesday post) posted the release of her new novel Glimpse of Sunlight, co-written with G.E. Gardiner. I had the pleasure of editing this book and am anxious to receive my copy to see the final version. Leona is also the author of the award-winning thriller, Shadow Cay, which I also edited.

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Click on cover


Here’s the press release for Glimpse of Sunlight:

Legend and myth combine with historical fact throughout the pages of Glimpse of Sunlight, creating incredible adventures set during the golden age of piracy and sunken treasure ships. The characters are faced with moral choices that range from revenge and violence, to murder, greed, and sensual compromise. Even a voodoo priestess, a haunted house, and a secret attic room find a place in this action-packed novel. And best of all—it’s based on a compilation of historical people who lived and breathed and features Jonathan Dickinson, who shipwrecked near the St. Lucie Inlet in 1696 and whose name lives on in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, an 11,500-acre preserve near Hobe Sound that allows visitors to step back in time and see what this pristine area looked like.

Reviewers and fellow authors are delighted by Glimpse of Sunlight. Mackenzie Lucas, award-winning author of To Have and To Hold, states, “I fell in love with the characters…wonderfully compelling story.” Richard R. Blake of Reader Views says the novel is “sure to add new fans to the growing number of enthusiasts of the works of both authors.” These pirates are bound to steal your heart.

I hope you’ll take a look at this exciting book. From what I read during the editing stage, I know you won’t be disappointed.

About the Authors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALeona DeRosa Bodie is the award-winning author of the suspense novel Shadow Cay. After teaching high school English and a stint in private industry, she decided the novel churning in her brain for fifteen years really deserved her attention. So she left her job to sail and write full-time. Leona is the Florida Writers Association’s Regional Director and past VP.

G.E. Gardiner spent his first career founding and running several small businesses. In 1997, a hemorrhagic brain stem stroke put him in the hospital for more than six weeks. Seven years later, he began writing to strengthen his brain. G.E. also leads a Florida Writers Association group.

Please visit www.JonathanDickinson.org for more information.

Writer as the Main Character

woman writerThe main characters in most of my novels share at least one characteristic. They all write for a living or aspire to be writers. In my latest release, Trails in the Sand, the main character is an environmental writer. The choice of career is no accident on my part, and as an author, I’m not an exception for creating characters who write.

Pat Conroy’s Beach Music is the story of travel writer Jack McCall who escapes into his work to lose the past. In Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Jo March’s passion for writing fuels her until she marries the professor. Thanks goodness, we’ve come a long way since the novel’s publication in 1868.

In Trails in the Sand, environmental writer, Caroline Carlisle, writes about the wildlife impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The wildlife experts in Florida choose her as the only reporter allowed to cover the sea turtle nest relocation project, which involved digging up nests and moving the eggs to the Atlantic coast to save them from the oil. She’s able to observe the momentous event firsthand. Much to her surprise, she begins to uncover secrets about her family in the pursuit of the sea turtle story. Caroline’s status as a reporter allows her special access, which helps unfold the plot.

I use writers as main characters because they are perfect observers and can go into situations where the average character couldn’t or wouldn’t go. On the television show, Castle, Richard Castle writes murder mysteries using a New York City detective as his main character. As a result, Castle researches his novels by going to murder scenes with the detective and helps to solve cases. Far-fetched maybe, but it’s enjoyable. His status as a writer allows him latitude to observe and write realistic, yet fictional, plots

Writers uncover information and find ways to expose culprits. In the novel I’m currently writing, a minor character is a newspaper reporter. The main character relies on him, not only for information about her husband’s murder, but she also gives him information in hopes he can help solve the mystery.

Writers are resourceful with contacts in high places, which can help move the plot along. Most reporters, in the real world, keep their sources close. In the case of Trails in the Sand, Caroline Carlisle speaks directly to wildlife officials, receives press releases, and enjoys loyal, established relationships with her sources, which brings her into the inner workings of government during the crisis. She also knows how to do research, which again is a plus for plot movement.

There’s another reason for a writer to use a writer as a character. Research makes up a large portion of my life when I’m working on a novel. Even though the author makes up the plot details, the details still need to be accurate and plausible. When I wrote about sea turtles and their habits in Trails in the Sand, I needed to research how long they lived, where they nested, how they made a nest on the beach, how long the eggs incubated, and what happened after the hatchlings emerged from the eggs. It took me days to research the details to write one scene where a sea turtle comes ashore to lay eggs as two teenagers watch on the beach.

I didn’t need to research the life of a writer because I’ve lived it. I’ve been a journalist. I’ve traveled for the job. I’ve worked with scientists, and I’ve interviewed many people in very strange situations – a man who owned a pack of hairless dogs he kept at his home in a rusty and remote trailer in north Florida comes to mind.

Some of my favorite people are writers, and they qualify as “characters” by many standards. I might as well use them in my stories. They make good company in a rather isolated career.

Caroline tries to explain to her mother that she wants to be a writer when she’s sixteen. I think I wrote this scene because I wished I’d been brave enough to tell someone I wanted to write at that age. Instead, I did the acceptable thing and became an English teacher. From Caroline Carlisle on writing in Trails in the Sand:

“You can’t be a writer,” Momma said when I was sixteen and told her of my career plans. “You need a profession you can count on to support you. You can’t depend on a man, especially the way you act.”

“I want to be a writer,” I said. “Who says I can’t be the next John Steinbeck?”

“I certainly hope not, young lady. Isn’t he that writer who killed himself a few years back? Is that the kind of life you want for yourself?”

“Of course not, Momma, and you’re thinking of Ernest Hemingway. Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath. I want to write a book like The Pearl – so brilliantly poignant and symbolic. The Grapes of Wrath is all right, but somehow I think if you can get the message across in fewer words, you have truly mastered the art of language. He uses ants and oysters to tell his tale.”

Momma stared at me as if I’d lost my mind. And I guess in the world of Calico, Florida, I did stand out as a little odd. I spent long summer days down on the riverbank reading, writing, or observing the world around me. Nature became my home, and the turtles, frogs, and birds of the Calico River that bordered our town were my friends.

“Where did you come from, child?” Momma asked. “How do you know these things? Sometimes you talk just like Alex.”

“Uncle Alex? He liked to write?”

“He loved nature, absolutely loved everything about it, and talked about it like you do.” Momma was no longer staring at me; she was gazing out the kitchen window into the back yard. “He loved chasing fireflies, too, just like you.”

“I wish I’d known him, Momma. What if I study marine biology? Is that a substantial subject?”

“It’s something,” she said as she turned back around. “At least you’ll be able to teach. You’ll need something to do with your life.”


Author Wednesday – Andrew Lennon

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Andrew Lennon whose novel, A Life To Waste, follows the life of a middle-aged man named Dave. A tragic accident when he was younger caused him to give up on life. Now he spends his days drinking and mooching off his mother. One night his world is turned upside down when his mother is taken away. Dave tried to track down this “thing” and embarks on a horrifying and gruesome adventure.5103I9SsH+L__SY346_

Andrew, I’m so glad you could visit my blog today. Your novel sounds intriguing as well as frightening. I’m always interested in how authors find their voice. Do you remember when you discovered your voice as a writer?

I have always enjoyed writing stories, and I used to write a lot when I was younger. I stopped for a while when I reached my late teens. Not long ago I gave up drinking and found I had so much more free time on my hands. I began to read a lot more, and then thought I would start writing again. I was shocked at how easily the words spilled onto the pages. I didn’t have to stop to think about what I should write next because it all just seemed to come naturally. So now I try to do it as often as possible; it’s fun for me.

Congratulations on finding that voice again and on your new sobriety. Who has most influenced your writing and why?

My biggest influence has to be Stephen King. I think anyone who writes horror would probably agree that he is the best out there and any author should aspire to be that good. Another very big influence is Ryan C Thomas. It was while reading his book The Summer I Died that I decided to give it a go myself. I even sent him messages asking advice, and he was kind enough to respond which gave me a lot of motivation.

That’s wonderful that he replied to your inquiry. I’m sure that gave you a good amount of motivation to begin your book. Good for you and for Ryan C. Thomas. What’s going on in your writing life now? 

I have a few things going on right now. I have  written a few short stories which at some point I hope will go into anthologies. I also have another book which I’m a couple of chapters into.

Do you have a favorite character that you created?

My favorite character is probably Trevor in A Life To Waste. He only plays a small role, but he reminds me a lot of an old friend so I have a great feeling of nostalgia when reading about him.

What’s the best thing said about your writing by a reviewer?

One review said that I was “the Lowry of the written word.” I know that Lowry is made famous for making the simple, quite beautiful so I took this as a huge compliment!

That is a great compliment. Since another writer gave you the motivation to begin writing, what advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

The same advice I was given when I received mine. You can’t please everyone because people have different tastes, so it is impossible for everyone to enjoy your work. If you are fortunate enough that the reviewer has highlighted what it is they didn’t enjoy then take those points on board and try to improve on that in your next project.

That’s very good advice, and I agree. It’s important to learn from reviews if they’re constructive. One of the most difficult things for writers is crystallizing the topic of their book into one succinct sentence. What’s your one sentence pitch for A Life To Waste?

Dave has wasted his life away, now he has to fight an unknown horror to try and win it back.

How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

No, the title was originally Out of Time but it got changed along the way. A Life To Waste seems more fitting for the main character.

Based on the short description of the book, A Life to Waste seems to be a better suited title. How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published product?

In total it was probably about four months. I tried to write for an hour each night without fail so it all came together quite quickly.

That is amazing. Is the book traditionally or self-published?

It’s self published. It is so quick and easy to get your work out to the world right now I don’t see why not.

What is the message conveyed in your book?

Appreciate what you have because one day it could all be taken away from you.

What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

That they couldn’t stop reading it and would recommend it to friends.

Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.

I heard neighbours fighting one night. They are always fighting and screaming. I thought, one day they’ll be getting killed and everyone will ignore them.

Who is the antagonist in your book? Did you enjoy creating this character?

The antagonist is this book is a bit of a mystery character. You don’t learn an awful lot about him. Just that he is there and should be feared. I did quite enjoy creating him yes.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

OK, read the book and you’ll understand, but when the ice cream van turns up. I can’t say more than that, sorry.

That’s a good teaser. What else do you want readers to know about your book?

It’s my first book so it is a relatively easy read. I think it’s a scary read and most people would enjoy it. It also sends quite a psychological message about how easy it is to waste your life away. This story goes a fair bit deeper than just horror.

If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose?

Stephen King and Ryan C Thomas, my two biggest influences. It would be awesome!

Is there one book or author with whom you identify or hold up as your standard-bearer?

Again, Stephen King. Probably The Shining being my favorite book of his.

Do you have any particular rituals or good luck charms in your writing process?

Does eating chocolate count? If it does then that is my writing ritual.

Chocolate always counts. If listen to music while you’re writing, what is it?

Usually quite heavy, I usually just put Kerrang on in the background.

Where do you write?

In bed mainly.

That’s where I like to write sometimes, too. How does your immediate family feel about your writing life?

They all are very supportive and enjoy my writing.

What do you do during your down time?

I read a lot and I spend a lot of time with my family.

What book are you reading right now?

Poe’s Children – A Horror Anthology put together by Peter Straub.

Do you set your books in the place you live?

No, I live in England. I usually imagine my writings in a suburban Amercian neighbourhood. I don’t know why, just seems to happen.

If a movie was made about your success as a writer, who would play you?

Hmmm, I’d like to be hopeful and say someone like Brad Pitt, but  I don’t know, maybe a not-so-funny Adam Sandler?

Andrew, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you today. I’m so glad you stopped by for a visit.

author picAbout Andrew Lennon: Andrew Lennon was born in Maghull, Merseyside, in 1984. He works for his father’s company based in Warrington. Having always enjoyed writing, Andrew is now trying to get his stories out to the public. With influences such as Ryan C Thomas, Stephen King, and Jack Ketchum. A Life To Waste is Andrew’s first novella. Andrew enjoys reading, camping, watching TV, and spending time with his wife Hazel and their children.




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Inheriting a Family Legacy

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

In the past few weeks, I’ve immersed myself in the writings of my great grandfather. The man, Harmon Camburn, died fifty-two years before my birth. I know he was the father of my paternal grandfather. That’s about the whole of it, except for the journal he wrote for his children chronicling his years as a Union soldier in the Civil War. He joined Michigan’s 2nd Regiment in 1861 in the early days of the war.

I’m putting the journal in electronic form so others can read about his experiences as a soldier and as a prisoner of war with the Confederates in the last year of the war. Besides that, it’s simply an interesting read. My great grandfather was a storyteller. Here’s a particularly descriptive passage:

June 7, 1863 – As the train sped southward, the descending sun gleamed across the broad expanse of gently undulating prairies, clothed in the fresh verdure of early June, tingeing the tops of the hedgerows with gold and glancing its beams from the farmhouse windows in spikes of flame. The breath of early summer was in the air and the corn was limitless. From close at hand, away to where the earth and sky meet, houses, hamlets, and villages could be seen with their orchards and cattle, lending an added charm of domestic life to the natural beauty of the scene. Before darkness shut out the view, a town was passed that was located on a gentle rise in the otherwise level prairies. The name, Richview, aptly describes the scene as we sped past, going we knew not whither.

On my maternal side, my grandfather wrote a brief autobiography in poetic form. He died a decade before my birth. My grandfather, Edwin Stephens, left school in fourth grade. He then began working in the clay mines in Cornwall, England. In 1900, at the age of twenty-one, he sailed by himself to the United States. He worked in the copper mines of Michigan’s upper peninsula before bringing his strong faith to the ministry. He became a Methodist circuit minister, and with my grandmother, raised ten children. My mother was born in the fifth spot. His last position was in the small Michigan town where I was born and raised. As a child, I remember older folks telling me what a way with words Rev. Stephens had. I wish I could have heard him preach from the pulpit in the same church where I was baptized and confirmed.

I return to the church in Cornwall my grandfather built and meet some new relatives

 Home and Boyhood

By Edwin Stephens

Rude peasant home, such was the humble place

That welcomed him the second child and boy,

But what of that? ‘Twas full of charm to him,

Though built of native clay and thatched with straw.

There on the Cornish hills for years it stood

Battered by raging storms, or wrapt in mists

That held their clammy mantle close for days

And hid the landscape from the roving eye.


Among the recollections of my early years

Are cherished scenes, still fresh in memory.

And glad experiences in boyhood’s days

When life was in its springtime:  I can see –

The hawthorne hedges in their creamy white

Surrounding meadows carpeted with green,

And sheep and cattle grazing in the midst

And daisies shyly peeping thru the grass

Afraid of being crushed by heedless feet.

On yonder hilltops, ‘neath the summer sky

The furze and heather grew in rivalry

Each bidding for attention from the bees,

That with its golden blooms, this wiht its pink.

I hear the hum of honeybees and drones –

Some pollen laden, some on nectar bent

And some with sacks all filled and homeward bound

Where empty cells await the precious load.


Sometimes I feel like an oddity in my family. Choosing a writing career is viewed by non writers as a little odd. Reading words of men whose genes I carry inspires me to continue my journey in telling stories. Perhaps what I have written will leave another legacy one hundred years from now.

A few weeks ago, I learned my great nephew – the son of my youngest niece – is writing a fantasy/science fiction novel. He starts college this month, and already he’s started a book. I say hip-hip hooray. Maybe I’m not so odd after all.

What about your family legacy? Any writers in the fold?