Author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne (USA)

Charlene The Star and Bentley Bulldog by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Charlene the Star makes new friends in this exciting adventure. She wants to win a special award for jumpers. She must learn important things if she wants to reach her goal. Does she succeed? How does Hattie react when she sees the headline in The Gazette? Why is Cherish so afraid? Your child will be fascinated with the amusing adventures of Charlene and her friends. Children will be entertained and learn important life lessons.

Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog is Deanie’s fifth book. It’s the third in her series of Charlene the Star books. Her other books include her award winning autobiography, Tails of Sweetbrier, as well as, Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, and Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes. All of Deanie’s books encourage children to persevere and strive to do their best.

Deanie is a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature. She enjoys music, singing, spending time with her family and their dog, Elliott. Deanie is also an avid fan of baseball and equestrian events.

Holly’s passion for Art began at an early age under the guidance of renowned artist, Ray Quigley. She earned a Fine Arts degree from Southern Methodist University. She devotes her talents to equestrian and family portraits, as well as children’s book illustrations. Holly has beautifully illustrated all of Deanie’s books.

Cold Coffee Book Review: Charlene The Star and Bentley Bulldog – by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is the newest release in her children’s adventure books.

Among some of the characters in this enchanting adventure include Charlene The Star (a horse) from Jumping For Joy Farms who is a competitive jumper, Mary Harris who is Charlene’s owner and rider, Hattie the chicken who loves to wear bonnets, and Bentley the bull dog who learns a valuable lesson about bullying.

Charming animals with unique personalities teach children life lessons on having proper manners, the value of friendships, sportsmanship, accepting and owning our mistakes, apologizing and making amends when we have hurt someone, and even when winning there is always room for improvement.

Parents and teachers should know that at the end of the book there are 8 questions and answers that challenge the child to remember what they have read (enhancing reading comprehension) and congratulates them for what they do remember.

Delightful hand drawn illustrations by Holly Humphrys-Bajaj bring the story and characters to life.

Other adventures that are available include Charlene The Star, Charlie The Horse, Charlene The Star and Hattie’s Heroes and Tails Of Sweetbrier.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse Charlene The Star and Bentley Bulldog along with author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne other books as educational tools with pure reading enjoyment for young impressionable minds. This review was completed on December 26, 2014.

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Deanie Humphrys-DunneDeanie Humphrys-Dunne is a children’s book author with five books published at this time: Award-winning autobiography, Tails of Sweetbrier, Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.

All of her books offer positive messages for children. Her sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, beautifully illustrates her books. All books are available on Kindle.

Tails of Sweetbrier is an inspirational award-winning autobiography about a little girl whose one desire was to become a champion equestrian, in spite of her handicap. This book has won the Silver Medal in the Feathered Quill Book Contest and was a finalist for the Clipp Awards. Tails of Sweetbrier will show children that anything is possible if you persevere. This book was chosen “Most Inspirational” by the staff of the Pawling Book Cove in 2009. (first edition)Tails of Sweetbrier is now published in a second edition. The most recent award for this book is Honorable Mention in the Purple Dragonfly Book Contest in 2015. Deanie’s other books, Charlie the Horse, and Charlene the Star, and Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, are amusing, fictional tales, which contain important life lessons. All of these books are available on Kindle.

Deanie is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has been featured on several author websites. She has been interviewed several times by renowned, award winning author, Claire Power Murphy on Claire’s program, “Improve Every Year. Her interview with Claire, “Building character Through Children’s Stories” received top billing. Deanie has just been selected as “Author of the Year” by author/reviewer, Geri Ahearn in 2013.

She has recently received the following blogging award nominations: Liebster Award (2), Shine On Award, Sunshine Award, Dragons Loyalty Award, Very Inspiring Blogging Award, the Super Sweet Award and the The Shauny Award and the One Lovely Blog Award. She’s most grateful to everyone who nominated her.

Deanie is secretary for the Claire Power Murphy Foundation. She enjoys watching equestrian events, and figure skating competitions, music and singing, spending with her family, and their dog, Elliott. She is also an avid Yankee fan.

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Author Dan Trumpis (Sun Lakes, Arizona-USA)

Welcome-To-Harmony-by-Dan-TrumpisWelcome To Harmony by Dan Trumpis

Being twelve years old is already hard enough. Being a werewolf makes it even harder. Dillon Howell and his parents have just moved to Harmony, a small town in Northern California. Like all kids, he just wants to fit in and make friends, while keeping his “condition” a secret, of course. But Dillon quickly finds out he’s not the only person in town who isn’t what he appears to be. Welcome to Harmony, Dillon Howell. Your life is about to change forever.

Cold Coffee Book Review: The township of Harmony in Northern California could be like any small town in America, but it isn’t. Like in most small towns secrets are desperately tried to be kept and the Harmony forest is the keeper of many secrets.

For Dillon Howell moving to Harmony with his parents gives him a new chance to fit in and make new friends. If just being a teenager isn’t enough of a challenge for Dillion, being a Werewolf presents its own set of challenges.

As Dillion and his family settle into the normal day-to-day life at home and at school the supernatural forces in the dark forest beckon to him and he finds that he is not the only one in this town with a secret. Come with Dillon to Harmony and see what life has in store.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse Welcome To Harmony by Dan Trumpis. The author skillfully writes this epic middle grade fantasy (PG) in a way that encourages teens to read. Life in Harmony might mirror their life in some routine ways and then again it might just be a little darker, more intense, and hairier than normal. Reviewed on November 6, 2014.

Book Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy, Children’s, Fiction

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Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Dan Trumpis

Dan-TrumpisDan Trumpis was born in Los Angeles and spent most of his life in California. He has always loved telling stories, for as long as he can remember, and has practiced writing in a variety of mediums – prose, comic books, stage, and screen. Since becoming an elementary school teacher, he settled into writing books for kids after being exposed to a broad range of classic and contemporary children’s literature.

Currently, he resides in Sun Lakes, Arizona and teaches fifth grade language arts at C.O. Greenfield in Phoenix, where he hopes to inspire within his students a love for writing and literature.

Interview:

Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I write middle grade fiction – although many teens and adults have read and enjoyed my books. My stories are about magic and monsters, two subjects I have been interested in for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t my original intention to write middle grade fiction. I originally set out writing for adults, but when I became a teacher, I began reading more middle grade fiction and decided to write for that age group. I had a lot of fun doing it – and even landed an agent for a while – and haven’t looked back since.

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Gosh, almost fifteen years ago, I made the switch from screenwriting to prose – which, let’s face it, was my first love. I went to workshops and attended writing groups to hone my craft. Those were some rough years as I was also learning to manage clinical depression. It wasn’t until 2009 I felt ready to begin submitting manuscripts to agents.

What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? For Welcome to Harmony, I wanted to do a story about the importance of friendship for middle school age kids – probably because I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. However, as a twist, I thought I’d give them all supernatural gifts.

For Gwen Gladstone: A Tale from the Town of Harmony, I wanted to write a book that centered on magic (In each book, I’m trying to explore a different aspect of the supernatural.). Also, like Harmony, I wanted to tell the story of an outcast who finally finds a place to fit in.

What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? I love the rush that comes when everything is flowing, and you don’t have to think about what you’re doing. The story is unfolding on its own, and the characters are telling you what they want to say and do.

What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Not long after I published Welcome to Harmony, I got a really nice Facebook message from a man in New York who’d purchased my book on a whim and absolutely loved it. He went on to write a glowing review on Amazon.com. It felt amazing to touch someone so much with my writing. Speaking of which, at the last school I worked at, I inspired a whole fifth grade class – who’d read Welcome to Harmony – to want to become writers. That was also a pretty amazing feeling.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Write like you’re already famous.

Who is your favorite author and why? I’d have to say Neil Gaiman. I’ve been a fan of his since his Sandman comic book. I’m blown away by how he’s able to write for all ages, from picture books to books for adults. The Graveyard Book will probably go down as one of my all-time favorites.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? For any aspiring and already published writers reading this, I would like to leave you with a quote from the great Ray Bradbury: “You only fail if you stop writing.”

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Author Linda Maria Frank (Massapequa Park, New York-USA)

The Mystery Of The Lost Avenger by Linda Maria Frank

The wreckage of a World War II plane is found in the mountains of Appalachia. It mysteriously crashed in 1943 on its way to a naval base. Inside the plane is a note, written by Annie Tillery’s great-grandmother, Charlotte, who was in love with a fighter pilot. Young Charlotte tested the planes and flew them to naval bases; her fiance flew the planes in battle.

While investigating the crash site, NCIS finds the note in the plane, which they trace to Charlotte and then to her surviving family members, Annie and her mother Carol. The mystery begins. Why did the plane crash, and what does Charlotte’s note mean? Annie and her mother decide to dig into Great Grandmother’s past by way of the aged family attic.

There, they find love letters written by Charlotte and her Navy pilot fiance. There is a code to be broken in those letters and The Mystery of the Lost Avenger to be solved. As they explore, Annie suspects Charlotte’s ghost is reaching out to tell her something, but what? She enlists the help of her boyfriend, newly licensed pilot Ty Egan, but Annie feels she may be the key to her great-grandmother’s top-secret life.”

Cold Coffee Book Review: Good news for all Annie Tillery Mystery Followers. The Mystery Of The Lost Avenger (book 4) is finally here. This book educates young minds using this fictional mystery that involves NCIS investigating the crash site of a World War II plane.

Turns out the pilot was Annie Tillery’s great-grandmother Charlotte who was a test pilot for Grumman and actually flew in battle. Annie, her mother Carol are intrigued by Charlotte’s note and decide to dig through the old family attic to see what they can find out about this mysterious family member. What they discover in the attic only adds to the mystery and soon Annie suspects that Charlotte’s ghost is reaching out to them from beyond the grave with an important message.

Annie’s decides to get her boyfriend Ty Egan who happens to be a pilot involved. Here is their conversation.

“Ty, you won’t believe what Mom has been telling me about a mystery concerning my great-grandmother. Mom, this is your story, and maybe Ty can see something we don’t. Can you fill him in on the details, so far? I’m just hearing this story for the first time, too.”

“Well, let me start with . . .” She shuffled the papers in her lap. “Here’s the letter we received from the Department of the Navy. And here’s a copy of a note we found in the plane. The note is written on some sort of a company form with and identification number on it. The number belonged to Charlotte, my grandmother.”

“I also have a letter from the Naval Crime Investigation Service about the condition of the plane where they found the note, and the pilot they found in the wreckage. There are skeletonized remains of a person whose identity they are trying to confirm. They know who flew the plane when it went missing, but they must confirm that it is that person. It is a woman.”

Mom added a new thought, “You know, it’s ironic. Charlotte did die in a plane crash many years later. She continued to fly recreationally after the war. When I went to Maryland to see if there was any record of her time at Grumman, I found these letters in the house where Charlotte spent her last years.”

Students and young adults of all ages will enjoy The Mystery Of The Lost Avenger. Although a series each book is unique and stands alone with no need to read in a particular sequence.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse The Mystery Of The Lost Avenger and all the books in the Annie Tillery Mysteries by Linda Maria Frank. I purchased this book from print. This review was completed on June 24, 2016.

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Secrets In The Fairy Chimneys by Linda Maria Frank

Amateur sleuth Annie Tillery has been warned to stay away from Nevshehir, Turkey, where she is heading to meet her boyfriend, Ty Egan, and Cedric Zeeks, Ty’s best friend. Intent on helping the two excavate an archeological site where they hope to link human remains to the first African ancestors, Annie does her best to shakes her foreboding feelings as her plane lands in Istanbul and she prepares to embark on her next adventure.

But when a stranger claims he is there to pick her up and then disappears once he sees Ty, Annie is immediately thrown back into worry mode—especially after Ty tells her there is unexplained tension surrounding the dig and she receives a threatening note at the hotel. Still, as the three head to Nevshehir, Annie is buoyed by the excitement surrounding ancient Turkey and the possibility of uncovering secrets. The dig is plagued by accidents and theft, however, and the three friends, assisted by the head archeologist’s twins, must search the ancient city of Istanbul and the caves of fantastic Cappadocia to find who is sabotaging their work.

In this young adult thriller, detective Annie Tillery must once again walk on a dangerous path in an attempt to unravel a complicated mystery and solve the secrets in the fairy chimneys.

Cold Coffee Book Review: Annie Tillery Mysterys book three ‘Secrets In The Fairy Chimneys’ can be summed up as Indiana Jones meets Nancy Drew with the skills and precision of CSI. A mystery unfolds amidst a mix of ancient history and modern innovation, in an ageless Eastern country where time moves at a camel’s pace.

Dedicated research by author Linda Maria Frank leaves no stone unturned while great description text transports the reader to the streets of Turkey with it mosques and minarets, towers and modern buildings. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “Water droplets plunked into the pool from the vaulted ceiling. After the heat of the bazaar and the street chase, it was deliciously cool. Ornate columns with carved capitals supported the ceiling. The bases were decorated with animal and human figures. There were a few visitors, but the enormity of the space muffled their conversations.”

Strong characters with great dialog brings us to dusty archeological site in one of the oldest towns in human history called Catalhoyuk. Nothing can explain it better than this quote: “We were in a valley of shapes I couldn’t believe were not made by humans, humans with a fabulous imagination. Conical formations called fairy chimneys in various sizes spread away from us in every direction. The color of bleached bones, they sat majestically among the gray-green brush and white claylike soil. The air shimmered from the heat. I could smell the odor of clay mixed with a faint herbal scent that must have come from the brush.”

Cosponsors from Vermont University are looking for a DNA connection between residents of Catalhoyuk and our original nomadic ancestors in Africa. Annie Tillery and her team go to work excavating this archeological site with all its inherit dangers and a mystery brings out the detective in Annie.

From the spell of an Ouija board to a magical balloon ride in the sky nothing is lost as this time and space makes all their senses come alive with amazing black and white graphics that bring the main characters to life.

Students and young adults of all ages will enjoy Annie Tillery Mysteries. Although a series each book is unique and stands alone with no need to read in a particular sequence.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse ‘Secrets In The Fairy Chimneys’ and the Annie Tillery Mysteries by Linda Maria Frank. I purchased this book in Kindle. This review posted on February 5, 2015.

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

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Girl With Pencil, Drawing by Linda Maria Frank

Seventeen-year-old amateur detective Annie Tillery is at it again. After she wins a series of art lessons at a prestigious art gallery, Annie shows up for her first lesson to find her instructor, Francesca Gabrielli, in a volatile argument with John DiCristiani, the art gallery’s director. He is demanding that she illegally copy art masterpieces. Unwittingly, Annie is about to be drawn into the illicit, treacherous, and unpredictable world of art forgery. When DiCristiani is found murdered in cold blood, Francesca becomes the prime suspect. She calls upon Annie to help solve the crime along with her NYPD detective aunt, Jill Tillery. They must brave the dangers of an international art fraud ring in an attempt to clear Francesca’s name. They discover that the key to solving the case revolves around a mysterious brownstone in Brooklyn whose inhabitants present tantalizing and elusive clues. As Annie and company attempt to stay one step ahead of DiCristiani’s murderer, they escape one deadly trap after another. The stakes are high in the glamorous yet dangerous world of illegal art trafficking. Annie must solve the crime to save her life and that of her friends.

Cold Coffee Book Review: Annie Tillery Mysterys book two Girl with Pencil, Drawing is a spectacular read for students and young adults of all ages. Each book in the Annie Tiller Mystery Series is unique and stands alone with no need to read in a particular sequence.

The story line in ‘Girl with Pencil, Drawing’ by Author Linda Maria Frank draws the young reader into an adventure where young Annie Tillery goes for her first art lesson at a prestigious Art Gallery. With youthful exuberance and an eagerness to advance her drawing skills Annie arrives early. When she enters the studio she overhears a heated argument between two people who turn out to be her Art Instructor Francesca Gabrielli and the Art Gallery Director John DiCristiani.

Annie’s empathy for others and her sleuth personally draws her into a murder mystery when John DiCristiani turns up dead and Francesca Gabrielli is the prime suspect, Annie enlists the help of her Aunt Jill who is a NYPD Detective to help clear her new found friend and art mentor’s name.

With strong characters, flowing dialog and layers of mystery, soon everyone is caught up in a real who-dun-it that involves a long lists of suspects and hidden clues. Twists and turns with all the dangers that come into play when an International Art Fraud has been perpetrated.

I invite you to go beyond this headline: “Manhattan Business-Man Found Slain in Chelsea. John DiCristiani, a wealthy business man, whose financial interests reached as far as Hong Kong and Istanbul, was found shot to death in his posh apartment overlooking the Hudson River. Mr. DiCristiani’s body was found by an employee from his Soho gallery. The police questioned the employee, Ms. Francesca Gabrielli, at headquarters, but subsequently released her. Police would only confide that the murder weapon was found at the scene and that all other leads were being investigated. Mr. DiCristiani is survived by a son, Mark, twenty-five, a law student at New York University.”

Learn the ins and out of the art world that include how scientists tests for authenticity in original paintings by world renown artist like Renoir and the lucrative forgeries that make this underworld as treacherous as any international mob association.

Follow the clues, wait for the DNA evidence and sift through the ashes left by an arsonist. Inspire a young reader to discover the innate detective skills of Annie Tillery who is fast becoming the next Nancy Drew. This series should be placed on our schools’ summer reading list.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse ‘Girl with Pencil, Drawing’ and the Annie Tillery Mysteries by Linda Maria Frank. I purchased this book from Kindle.Review completion date March 24, 2015.

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

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The Madonna Ghost by Linda Maria Frank

Seventeen-year-old Annie Tillery and her Aunt Jill set off for Long Island’s Fire Island for a vacation of surf, sun, and sailing. Annie is happy to leave behind the stress of her relationship with her parents. Aunt Jill, who is an NYPD detective, is mixing her vacation with a case she must keep secret from Annie, who is suspicious nevertheless. Annie finds romance and intrigue when she meets Ty Egan, the nephew of their host on the island. They find themselves in the middle of an eerie adventure when she and Ty investigate the tragic and perplexing story of a local ghost. Annie becomes increasingly uneasy and the investigation turns sinister when Aunt Jill goes missing, the ghost appears, and the troublesome neighbors in the cottage next door become hostile. When they find one of Aunt Jill’s special earrings on the neighbor’s porch, they begin to wonder what she was doing there. Will they find Aunt Jill before it’s too late? In the breathless conclusion to their investigation, Annie and Ty narrowly escape death solving the mystery of The Madonna Ghost.

Cold Coffee Book Review: Come on vacation with Annie Tillery and her Aunt Jill to Long Island’s Fire Island. Stand with Annie on the Ferry and recall what she sees; “Looking out across the Great South Bay, I could see Fire Island in the distance, a long stretch of dunes and scrub pines across the horizon. At the western end of the island, was the black and white striped tower of Fire Island lighthouse, blinking away. Sailboats maneuvered across the dark blue waters of the bay in ballerina fashion, their sails puffed out by the wind like dancers’ gauzy skirts.”

Walk along the boardwalk which “opens onto a broad cement lane where homey little cottages, each with a tiny garden” stretch as far as the eyes can see. Relax with Annie and Aunt Jill in the charm of “Windalee” one of the oldest houses on the island where secret a secret passage was used to smuggle liquor onto Long Island in the twenties. The Long Island coastland has always been the perfect environment for shipwrecks, lost treasure, pirates, bootleggers, drug runners, kidnapping and terrorists.

Learn the history of settlers coming to Long Island as far back as the early 1800s and how Fire Island got its name. Become aware that men, women and children enduring treacherous seas in wooden ships came to Fire Island and some were forced to wade cold ocean water to make it to Bay Shore. Join Annie and TY on their quest to see ‘The Madonna Ghost’ as past accounts and island legend recalls seeing her walking on the Bay Shores in the mist of the salt water air to protect the grave of her infant child who perished while she was trying to make it to shore.

Mystery and suspense develops when Annie discovers that her Aunt Jill, who is a NYPD detective is not really on vacation, but working an active case. Watch Annie’s sleuth abilities interrupt her own vacation when her beloved Aunt Jill is missing and some unscrupulous neighbors beside “Windalle” are on the top of her short list.

Enjoy a youthful budding romance and see for yourself that “Fire Island must indeed be a paradise where dreams come true.”

Annie Tillery Mysterys book two ‘The Madonna Ghost’ is an enjoyable read for students and young adults of all ages. Each book in the Annie Tiller Mystery Series is unique and stands alone with no need to read in a particular sequence. Author Linda Maria Frank uses her own background in forensic science, great research, delightful writing skills, intensive character development and interesting dialog to keep her readers engaged in each one of her mysteries. The Annie Tillery Mystery series should be placed on our schools’ summer reading list.

I, Theodocia Mclean endorse ‘The Madonna Ghost’ and the Annie Tillery Mysteries by Linda Maria Frank. I purchased this book from Kindle. Review completion date March 27, 2015.

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

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Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author Linda Maria Frank

Linda-Maria-FrankMessage from Author: Hello, fellow mystery lovers. As a teacher of forensic science for almost 20 years, I decided to create mysteries around the science I found most interesting. I also wanted to create a smart, edgy, young female detective to solve my cases. The result was Annie Tillery. I like to call my books “Nancy Drew meets CSI”. My books capture, not only my love of mystery and science, but those things I found most exciting in life; sailing, falling in love, and my fascination with New York City.

Currently, I am living on Long Island and working hard to promote my books. The third Annie Tillery mystery will revolve around another topic I find fascinating, and that is archeology. It takes place in Turkey. Stay tuned for more thrilling and dangerous adventures for Annie and that oh-so-sexy Ty.

After many years in the teaching profession, Linda Maria Frank, the author of Annie Tillery Mysteries, has launched a new career. Inspired by a childhood passion for the Nancy Drew series and the popular television series, CSI, she successfully married an appealing heroine (Annie Tillery) with gripping story plots to create these new fiction books for mystery readers.

THE MADONNA GHOST has earned the distinctive “Editor’s Choice” and “Rising Star” awards. As a result of this book, Frank is included in the Authors Show 2013 Edition of “50 Great Writers You Should be Reading”.  GIRL WITH PENCIL DRAWING, the second book in the series, ramps up the adventure and suspense. Annie stays one step ahead of the bad guys by the skin of her teeth. The third Annie Tillery Mystery, SECRETS IN THE FAIRY CHIMNEYS, takes Annie to Turkey where caves, treasure pirates and saboteurs threaten to close down the archeological dig where she and her friends are working to unlock the secrets in the oldest town ever discovered.

Continuing her passion for her former career in education, she has put lesson plans for her books on her website, www.lindamaria.com, and other teacher websites. Her conviction is that you can make your child a life-long reader by introducing them to exciting fiction that will provoke them to ask questions about the world they live in, or would like to know about.

Before venturing into writing, Frank’s first love was teaching science, her assignments ranging from Middle School to graduate level courses at Hofstra and Adelphi Universities. She was the science chairperson for the last five years of her career at Seaford, L.I. Schools. She was awarded teacher of the year in Seaford High School in 1989. She won an award from the American Association of University Women for her ability to inspire young women to pursue careers in science.

 At Hofstra University she taught courses in forensic Science and Biotechnology at Hostra College, as well as Science Methods courses in the School of Education. It was the Forensic Science courses that gave her the story lines for her heroine, Annie, who is based on a composite of former beloved students.

She recently retired from Adelphi University where she supervised science student teachers. To quote, “Writing, publishing, and marketing books is a full time job, and it’s time to change careers.”

Today she collaborates with children’s author, Karen Bonnet, to do presentations about their books and their journeys in self-publishing. Linda and Karen give a portion of the proceeds from their books to the Interfaith Nutritional Network, and are planning a series of programs for the Boys and Girl Club.

She also collaborates with author, Lois W. Stern, on a project called Tales2Inspire, a writing contest, an anthology of inspiring stories, and a marketing platform where authors help authors.

Presently Frank is involved in a project at LTV in East Hampton called “The Writer’s Dream”, an interview show where authors discuss the many different aspects of the profession. The show is aired on Cablevision 20.

Her ultimate goals are: to find an agent who will present my books to TV or film, to find venues to present my books and programs, and to organize book fairs as events for non-profit organizations to raise money.

Interview:

What makes you proud to be a writer from greater NYC? Being a writer in the greater NYC area is a challenge due to the competitive environment. There are many writers here in my little town of Massapequa Park. Long Island is proud to have many writers’ groups, organizations and Meet-ups. (My Meet-up is called FABLE of Massapequa Park). To have written, published and become active in marketing my Annie Tillery Mystery series is an accomplishment alone, and it is a second career. It’s been a great learning experience for me, as well as a teaching opportunity by way of sharing my experiences with others, both young students and other writers. I do a workshop on the ins and outs of self-publishing with another author. It’s called “So You Want to Write a Story”.

What or who inspired you to become a writer? The inspiration to write this series comes from my teaching days. I enjoyed exploring the world of science with my students. In particular, it was a pet project of mine to encourage my female students to peruse science careers, for which I won an award from the American Assn. of University Women.  When I started writing and creating the character of Annie Tillery, I drew from the characteristics of my female students. Secondly, I love the field of forensic science which I taught for over twenty years. And who of American adult women didn’t love Nancy Drew?

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? The first two books were written when I took a writing course. I really didn’t know how to write a book, so I took a course in novel writing. My mentor said they were good, but it would take time to get them traditionally published. I put them aside. When self-publishing became a recognized entity, I decided to publish, picked a company, and in 2010 had my first published book.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? My parents were well educated, encouraged higher education, and fostered a love of reading. The schools I went to and the friends I had aimed for intellectually challenging careers. My first writing pieces were all about my life at home and the warm nurturing environment it provided.

Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? The first two books, The Madonna Ghost, and Girl with Pencil Drawing had titles from the start. Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys came to me at the very end of writing the book. I am writing book #4 and it has a working title for the purpose of filing, but I think this one will have to come after I have done significant work on the book.

Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? My genre is often listed as either YA mystery or Children’s Mystery. I am more comfortable with Mysteries for Girls of Any Age, because that is where I find my audience. The plots are intricate enough for adult readers, as is the CSI science. My heroine is 17 going on 19 as the books progress, and that’s what makes the series for young readers.

What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? I love archaeology. I read an article about an archaeological dig in Turkey. I thought, what a great setting for a mystery. I researched the area of Turkey which, by the way, has the weirdest landscape, and I went from there, even visiting Turkey.

What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? When my book club, Seaford Bookies, comprised of my teacher contemporaries, read my first book, The Madonna Ghost, and one of them said, “I love Annie”, I believed there was no greater reward. They continue to read and purchase my books. Who better to know a great teen girl than the teachers who spent their lives teaching, guiding and nurturing them?

Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? A fellow author said he knew an agent, and would I like him to give her one of my books. Of course I said yes. Her opening comment to me was, “I didn’t really read your book, but . . .” Her comments were the exact opposite of any reader comments I had received. Lesson: Never ask an agent for a favor. Their time is too precious to give you a comment based on actually reading your book. You must approach and agent in the proscribed professional way laid out on their websites. Breaches of this protocol are not well received.

What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Having the first copy of The Madonna Ghost sent to me in the mail, opening the package and holding it in my hand. I had just completed medical procedures for a bout with cancer, and this was very sweet indeed.

Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I have had to argue some points with editors about plot elements and science which they are not too up on, but otherwise, it’s been a good experience. The self-publishing companies offer many marketing packages for very steep prices. I tried one of the promotions that came with my publishing package and it was not effective.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Search the internet for free help with your writing. Join a writing circle. If one doesn’t suit your needs, try another one. There are lots out there. When your manuscript is done, get the best professional editor you can afford.

Who is your favorite author and why? Don’t laugh. Charles Dickens. His stories are rich with, not only language, but plot twists. His characters are masterpieces of humanity. The social themes of his stories are cogent today. He has crafted wonderful, colorful stories.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? I would like to see more books written where girls are smart, strong, courageous, and independent.

I do a workshop on “Daydreaming”, because I think it is important to know the things you really love, and will lead you on a road to what you really want to be in life. Take your favorite daydream, and take baby steps to make it happen. Research it. Find out how to accomplish your dream. And soon, “wishing or rather, daydreaming, will make it so.”

Linda writes Great Teen Mystery Books – Where Nancy Drew Meets CSI

Do you love a Mystery? How about a Ghost Story? Grab some pure entertainment!

Enter the world of “Nancy Drew Meets CSI” and follow new girl detective, Annie Tillery, as she navigates her way through intriguing plots with good forensic science, narrowly escaping the dangers that keep those pages turning.

Author Linda Maria Frank’s Websites and Related Links
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Author J. A. Hunsinger (Colorado-USA)

Assimilation: An Axe of Iron Novel by J. A. Hunsinger

Assimilation will wet the appetite of the fans that have developed a fascination with the plight of the Greenland Viking settlers in the first two novels of the series, The Settlers and Confrontation.

The twists and turns of this continuing tale will engage the reader from the outset as the tall, fair-skinned invaders, knowing it is their key to survival, gradually assimilate with the savage natives of the pre-historical land that will become the Hudson Bay and Great Lakes regions of Canada and the US.

In a scenario ordained by the gods, this assimilation process has a thin chance of success through the forced involvement of two of the Viking settlers with tribes of natives that are habitual enemies of one another. Against overwhelming odds that can have but one successful outcome for the settlers, daily life becomes a balancing act where one word, one gesture, one innocent mistake, can spell disaster in this hostile setting.

Cold Coffee Book Review: Assimilation is the final novel in the Axe of Iron series by J. A. Hunsinger. The author asks that you read or reread the ‘Historical Perspective’ that is located in ‘The Settlers’ which is the first volume in this series. The author’s research into the historical time frame and authentic pre-historical Indian names is irrefutable. The ‘Historical Perspective’ goes into the whole concept of the Norse sagas. Even though each book stands alone, as a reader who has enjoyed the entire series, I encourage you to purchase all three books.

As the author states in his book’s description, the first two books in this series (The Settlers and Confrontation) “dealt with the plight of the Greenland Viking settlers”.

Assimilation begins with a map showing where the settlements are and opens with two Naskapi warriors hidden from view, surveying the river valley below. The saga continues with descriptive writing that puts you the reader on the ground experiencing the mysteries of the Viking period. Smell the earth and lush dense forests, travel the routes carved out of the land by natives and take up residence in the villages and experience the hardships of this pre-historical land that we now call the Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes of Canada and the US.

Eavesdrop on Nipishish and Ingerd as they lay in each other’s arms, engaged in whispered conversation like couples do.

Join warriors in their canoes as they glide in the chill of pre-dawn morning heading toward the Haudenosaunee Village.

Stand at the rail of a Viking ship called Steed of the Sea and feel the motion of the sea as the ship heads towards a distant beach.

After the storm, the Norse society dries out and attends to the damage that Njord and Thor (the gods of weather) have forced upon them. Catch a glimpse of the smoke that curls into the calm skies over the cook fires where fish, meat and stew aroma awaits the barley bread and other leftovers that will nourish the community and reward the daily chores.

Reconnect with the characters that you have come to know like Halfdan, his dog Fang, Tostig, and experience the council meetings where men discuss their destiny, when in reality it is the gods like the “mighty Thor” who have the final say.

Strong women who cook and weave on looms by the light of seal oil lamps, teach their girls to spin fibers of wool into skeins of thread, care for the children and their men with tenderness in a world where both beauty and harshness intertwine. Communities where communication and yes even gossip are the norm, and where the outsider might find rest if assimilation is acquired.

Drumbeats of war are as common as the moon rising over the snow, so too are the tracks of snowshoes where the trappers are as important as the warriors for a civilization that exists within a fine balance between preservation and extinction. Here is a quote: “Nipishish, Kejo, and Lothar returned to their village as quickly as possible after the parley with Nesatin. Word spread faster than normal through the Nitassinan that the Anishinabeg had rejected Sachem’s peace offering regarding the people of Haldansfjord.”

I invite you to read Assimilation and discover for yourself where the legend of the Death Wind came from and what it meant for the earliest American colonies. Enjoy the detailed glossary at the end of this book which will help you understand the authentic names and terms used in this book series.

Let me take this moment to thank Author J. A. Hunsinger for his time, research and engaging storytelling that has made An Axe of Iron series possible. I sincerely hope that he will continue to write as some storytellers have one story to tell, others have infinite stories that need to be told and preserved for generations to come. The Axe of Iron novels are one of those series that time will not forget.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse Assimilation: An Axe of Iron Novel by J. A. Hunsinger. Assimilation is book three in the fictional historical accounting of exploration and settlement of Vinland (North America). I purchased this book from Kindle. Review posted on October 1, 2016.

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Confrontation: An Axe of Iron Novel by J.A. Hunsinger

Second Book In An Axe of Iron Series

In Confrontation, two calamitous events occur that pave the way for the hostile beginnings of an assimilation process between the Greenland Norse settlers and the natives of Vinland. The first mixing of cultures occurs when a woman of the Northmen, Thora, and Deskaheh the Haudenosaunee, marry. This union, accepted enthusiastically by the Northmen, opens a window into the native mind.

For all the people of this land the way is rocky and fraught with danger at every turn, but the acceptance and friendship that develops between the Northmen and the Naskapi, another native tribe, over an affair of honor, the eventual acceptance of a young boy of the Northmen by his Haudenosaunee captors, and a scenario that seems ordained by the will of the gods, makes it all begin to fall into place, as it must for the Northmen to survive.

Will this developing relationship allow the Northmen to remain in the homeland of the Naskapi, or are they doomed to failure?

The settlers must deal with that question on a daily basis. Standing in their way are uncounted numbers of indigenous peoples, the pre-historical ancestors of the contemporary Cree (Naskapi), Ojibwa (Anishinabeg), and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Indians. From the outset, the warriors of these various tribes violently resisted the incursion of the tall, pale-skinned invaders. The overwhelming numbers of the native peoples in Vinland hold the fate of the Northmen in their hands. The success or failure of the settlement at Halfdansfjord hangs in the balance.

Cold Coffee Book Review: This character driven, action packed historical fiction saga continues from ‘The Settlers: An Axe Of Iron Novel’ where 163 Greenlanders and 152 Icelanders (including men, women and children) set sail with horses, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, equipment ( tents and parts to horse drawn carts) and supplies to explore areas of what they call Vinland (North America).

Confrontation – An Axe Of Iron Novel cover with the Viking battle axe reflecting warriors gives us the first clue regarding the brutal facts of survival and desperate measures taken by men to protect their women, children and settlement with blood sweat and tears. Author J. A. Hunsinger has provided an in-depth ‘Glossary of Norse Terms’ and ‘Native Terms’ to help readers understand the people and culture.

Settling into a new land will prove challenging when the indigenous tribes who have a distaste for any fair skinned men due to those who cheated them in trade, abused them and killed their tribesmen in the past. Apart from expected interaction with the variety of native cultures, life in the new settlement is forced into daily and seasonal routines out of necessity.

Halfdan Ingolfsson and Gudbjartur Einarsson (his second in command) walk the settlement commons overseeing the duties pertaining to survival like the grueling process of filling the Kiln (furnace) with dry birch wood, burning the wood until only charcoal is left and then storing this precious commodity under the shed roof to be used for heat and cooking during the harsh winter months.

Children in the settlement (especially the boys) had to earn their place in their family and settlement by moving from boyhood into manhood by demonstrating skills taught and mirrored to them by their fathers, brothers, cousins and other men around them. Skills like hunting which was the core of survival. Unfortunately dangers exist when dealing with wild animals like a Bull Moose protecting his territory, cow and calf. Death can be mercifully quick and brutal. The burial ceremony, reverence for even the youngest hunter/warrior, tradition and spirituality (Gods Will) play a role for the dead and those who remain.

Seasons marked by the moon predict work, trade, play, marriage and birth. I quote Bjorn “as a pleasant smile curved his lips”. “Yes, it is time I thought of a mate. Another long winter comes and company in my bed would be welcome. Perhaps this is the one (as he recalls the tall blonde woman)”.

Confrontation is inevitable, warriors’ attack, prisoners taken, injuries sustained, spoils of battles and questions about their ability to live in peace brings us to the anticipation of the third book in An Axe Of Iron Series titled “Assimilation”.

J. A. Hunsinger’s series ‘An Axe Of Iron’ has been exhaustively researched and parallel the actually events as close as a historical fiction can. I recommend this series to both men and women and suggest that the series be placed on a high school/college reading list.

This reviewer is looking forward to ‘Assimilation – An Axe Of Iron Novel’ which is the third book in the series.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse Confrontation: An Axe of Iron Novel by J.A. Hunsinger’s book two in the fictional historical accounting of exploration and settlement of Vinland (North America). Reviewed posted on October 20, 2014.

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The Settlers: An Axe of Iron Novel by J. A. Hunsinger

First Book In The Axe Of Iron Series

The Settlers: Axe of Iron is a tale of survival, strife, love, and the quest for a new home in the face of hostile opposition. Conditions of manifest destiny propel a large contingent of Norse Greenlanders from relative security into an odyssey of exploration and settlement out over the unknown waters of the North Atlantic, to a North America of one thousand years ago, to a land they called Vinland. The chieftain, Halfdan Ingolfsson and his second-in-command, Gudbjartur Einarsson, spend a winter gathering 315 men, women, and children from the two Norse settlements on the southwestern coast of Greenland.

Early in the spring of A.D. 1008, the company sets sail aboard six large cargo ships. Five days into the voyage, in the strait between Helluland and Markland, present day Hudson Strait, a gale holds the flotilla in its grip for four long and arduous days. Halfdan decides to seek shelter in a protected bay, so they can rest, repair the storm damage, and replenish food stores lost in the storm.

During the following weeks, the settlers reap a harvest of fish and game that is the best in living memory. When hunters discover a sheltered fjord, Halfdan orders a move. Tornit hunters from far to the north venture south to hunt, and the Northmen strike up a friendship with them. The Tornit tell the newcomers much about the local area and describe coastal waters far to the south.

It is this thought-provoking insight into the geography of this new land and the dawning realization that the storm god, Njord, seems to have led his people to this place, that cause Halfdan to revise his thinking and propose a new plan to Gudbjartur and the council of ship’s captains: sail south before choosing where to build their settlement.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Cold Coffee Book Review: The Viking ship called ‘Steed of the Sea’ sailing in the cold dark waters in the foreground of tall glaciers under a foreboding sky on the cover is just the beginning.

Whether you sat under the history lessons of Columbus discovering America or are more adventurous in your approach to history and have a yearning to know who was here when Columbus arrived and where did they come from, ‘The Settlers’ is a tale that should be on a mandatory reading list in all schools in order to provoke thought and discussion on native North America in the latter half of the tenth century. Scholars can’t agree but this tale offers a new perspective about America’s indigenous people, how they viewed explorers, handled settlers and coexisted on a bountiful body of land with all its beauty and treacherous environment.

It is important to read the ‘Author’s Note’, ‘Historical Perspective’ and the ‘Glossary Of Norse Terms’ provided by the author to educate the reader. In the Author’s Note you will meet Gudbjartur Einarsson who is an Icelander, a Northman or Norseman who is second in command under Halfdan Ingolfsson. Chapter one unfolds six wooden ships carrying 163 Greenlanders and 152 Icelanders (including men, women and children) set sail with horses, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, equipment ( tents and parts to horse drawn carts) and supplies to explore areas of what they call Vinland (North America).

Exhaustive research, realistic characters garbed in functional layers residing in a true to life story line that allows the reader to experience the sea voyage and land exploration with exquisite writing that creates a sense of being present in the story even when this first book in ‘An Axe Of Iron Novel’ series has been closed on a night stand.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“He whistled tunelessly to himself, the notes blown away on the wind. His eyes darted over the sea ahead and aloft at the trim of the sail and rigging. The heart of the ship pulsed through the soles of his feet, vibrated up through the steering oar and the palms of his hands, an inaudible hum that told him all was well in his world.”

“Wind driven rain stung exposed skin like bees protecting their hive.”

“Several kettles of whale blubber boiled over individual fires on the beach to render the valuable oil. The thick, rich oil, skimmed of the connective tissue – the crunchy fried meat and curled pieces of skin were a delicacy-had many uses. It was a valuable food source, preservative, and lamp fuel.”

After the journey across treacherous seas land was a welcome sight with all of its wild game like “Grunting herds of Reindeer” not to mention the predators like wolves and bears. Women and children scour rocky cliffs for seabird eggs to add to their food supply giving the kids some stress relieving egg throwing activity.

Unforeseen and inevitable injuries, herbal treatments, Viking burial ceremony amidst deep held Christian beliefs.

Attraction and a “bed of soft, furry skins nestled in the scrub brush, well protected from the north wind’. Passion, “eyes smoldered with lust” hands explore, tongues probe, “locked bodies swayed in the throes of passion”.

Hunting and cooking for survival, sewing for protective covering, animal pelts and jewelry making for trade commodity. The best and the worst of human nature revealed in a hostile new world.

Now heading into the reading of ‘Confrontation: An Axe Of Iron Novel’ book two of the series gives clarity as to the sequence of history, characters and events that readers should follow in order to understand and digest the fiction history which is laid out in great detail, humanity and historical correlation regarding much debated events.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse The Settlers – An Axe of Iron Novel book one in the fictional historical accounting of exploration and settlement of Vinland (North America). Reviewed posted on October 18, 2014.

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Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author J. A. Hunsinger

j-a-hunsinger-2016J. A. Hunsinger is an Author, Publisher, Amateur Archaeologist and Historian. His Axe of Iron Series Details The Settlement Of A Large Group Of Norsemen On The North American Continent Beginning In 1008 AD.

J. A. Hunsinger’s Books Include Axe Of Iron: The Settlers, Confrontation and Assimilation.

J. A. Hunsinger lives in Colorado, USA, with his wife Phyllis. He writes and promotes full-time. His three book trilogy Axe of Iron Series can be purchased at Vinland Publishing. His books are also available from Amazon.

Although he has long been a writer, much of his adult life has been associated with commercial aviation, both in and out of the cockpit. As an Engineering Technical Writer for Honeywell Commercial Flight Systems Group, Phoenix, AZ, he authored two comprehensive pilots’ manuals on aircraft computer guidance systems and several supplemental aircraft radar manuals. His manuals have been published and distributed worldwide to airline operators by Honeywell Engineering, Phoenix, AZ. His first published work for the general public, Flight Into Danger, appeared in Flying Magazine, (August 2002). Many of his articles have been featured in other periodicals and websites or are featured on his blog.

After his flying career ended on his 60th birthday, he found himself with time to continue his writing; this first novel was actually begun more than twenty years ago. He attended many writing classes and seminars, but couldn’t sustain a head of steam as a writer. All of that changed abruptly in 2004, when he remarried. Phyllis provided the necessary push and as a result he treated writing as work, which it most certainly is.

Writing is a learned craft. In order to learn to write, you must write. Eventually the classes must be set aside; set a daily work schedule and stick to it. That is not to say you should stop taking classes altogether; learning is a lifetime experience. Sooner or later though, you must take the plunge and go at it on your own.

Have a story to tell, one that you like. Then sit down and get busy. Have your work professionally edited: rewrite, edit, rewrite, until you’ve gotten it as good as it can be.

That’s all there is to being a writer.

Interview:

Tell us what makes you proud to be a writer from Grand Junction, Colorado? Writing is the culmination of a lifetime of learning and working at my chosen profession. My first composition for hire was as an air transport engineering technical writer. Now, for the first time I am able to work at my own pace in response to my criteria for the task at hand. I always wanted to write, but my primary mission was to make a living for my family, so I had no time for pie-in-the sky dreams. Now that my career has ended and my life is settled I can write without the worry of making a living. If my books continue to find a market, one day I might perhaps make a success of this. In the meantime I am telling my stories, people are buying and reading my books, and that is what this is all about for me. It never was about the money; rather it is about telling the story.

What or who inspired you to become a writer? I have been a writer all my life, but I merely dabbled at writing. But I did have a story to tell that gradually possessed me, so I had to tell it. My wife, Phyllis provided the support and advocacy that I needed to actually write a novel.

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? I began to write the story 20-years ago, but the time and desire to write and finish the work did not manifest itself until I retired from flying and remarried. My soul mate entered my life in Feb. 2004. From that point on she gave me the shove that I needed to organize the details of what had been rattling around in my head over most of my adult life.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and why? Yes, definitely! I came from a military family of readers and I was raised before TV ruined the family unit in American society. My Dad wrote many short stories and articles, so his grasp of the English language and his amazing vocabulary impressed me from the beginning. My entire education was in Parochial schools and Parochial College, so I received the best stimulus available to become whatever I wanted.

Do you come up with your title (s) before or after you write the manuscript (s)? I have all the titles of my Axe of Iron Series noted, as each covers a certain segment of the series and that title reflects a major scene of that particular book.

Tell us why you write the genre (s) that you write? I am an avid reader of both history texts and historical fiction novels. Written history has many holes, gaps if you will, that give an author an endless supply of fodder. It is natural for me to tell stories about subjects in which I have an interest. The Greenland Vikings and the medieval Viking culture in general have always been my focus. My Swedish/German heritage is another reason for my interest in the medieval Germanic tribes.

The Axe of Iron Series are character-driven, historical fiction books. My characters tell the story and the reader sees the events through their eyes. I have had a lifelong interest in the medieval Norse people. That interest became focused on the five hundred year history of the two known Norse Greenland settlements. The mystery surrounding their abandonment and the disappearance of every single person living therein has captured my imagination. My books offer a plausible story of what my reading and research has indicated may have happened to them.

Tell us your most rewarding experience while in the writing process? That would have to be when the rough draft is finished and I read the entire manuscript and realize that I have written a good story.

Tell us your most negative experience while in the writing process? The road to publication has been a nightmare because of the time and money wasted while I learned the business. I wish I could say that there is lots of help out there for the newbie’s, but actually, the reverse is true. You are prey swimming in the shark’s pool— take heed. Believe nobody, and get everything in writing, research, research, and research. Even then, you will have picked the worst time in the world’s economy to enter the business.

Dealing with agents is a most disheartening undertaking for a writer. Agents act like the writer exists because of agents, when in fact it is the other way around. I wasted a year trying to find an agent from among those professing to have an interest in my area of my genre only to find that there are not any in existence. I have no need for an agent. Having said all of that, though, clearing the air so to speak, I do have a few suggestions if you are interested.

Do your homework on the submission guidelines for any query. All literary agents will have their own guidelines; adhere to them absolutely. Do not ever send a manuscript unless it is requested. Hire professional editors to edit everything that another person will read, especially the final draft of your manuscript. Spell check, spell check, and spell check.

An English teacher is not an editor and you cannot edit your own work, so hire someone. Your professionalism will determine whether you ever make the grade. A shabby cover letter on your submission packet will guarantee its demise. Agents and publishers are busy people and they have no time to waste on people who do not follow their submission guidelines.Tell us your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? When you hold your finished book in hand. You will have been through a gut wrenching, mind-numbing roller coaster ride. You will have wanted to get off more than a few times, but you stuck it out and your finished book has made it worthwhile.

Tell us your most negative experience in your publishing journey? Having to learn the trade, write my book, take care of copyright, ISBN, barcodes, etc. and find a reputable house to print, manage, warehouse, and distribute my books was a negative from the outset. It made the process all uphill and much of the pleasure was lost as a result. I did find such a house in BookMasters, Inc., Ashland, OH, but it was a long search. Bookmasters can and will do everything they tell you. However, be aware that there are MANY unscrupulous people and companies out there waiting to take your money while promising the moon. Now that I know something about the business I have found this second book of my Axe of Iron series to be a satisfying experience. I would have preferred to hire a literary agent and publish my work through a large house. That did not happen due in part to the continued decay of publishing in this country. In this economy, which will continue to worsen at all levels, few large houses will survive, leaving the small independent publisher as one of the few avenues to publication for an author. Those publishers that survive, large and small, will be extremely selective in the books that they publish, leaving many authors to wither away.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Our mission as authors is to get published. Let’s assume that your manuscript is a first draft. Before you can send out query letters telling the world of the birth of the great American novel, your work needs editing. I do not mean having a friend, an English teacher, your boss, or any other layman read your manuscript, no, I mean that you must engage the services of a professional editor. Thus begins the process of polishing your manuscript until it is the best it can be. This process can involve numerous corrections and rewrites. Done correctly it is a lot of work. I do all editing electronically within MS Word. The time and expense involved varies with the quality of the work. One hundred thousand words will cost in the neighborhood of $2000.00, or more, by the time you get it right.

Believe it or not, writing your book is only the beginning. With a final draft of your manuscript in hand, it is time to query. Famous people query with a proposal before writing the manuscript. I will assume that you are not yet famous. As an author, you cannot deal directly with one of the large publishing houses, so your next challenge is to interest a literary agent in your work. If you find a literary agent, your relationship will be contractual. Do nothing with anyone without a contract. Fully understand your part of the contract before signing, or hire an attorney versed in literary contracts to help you understand. There are numerous listings of literary agents on the Internet. Research each agent for their submission guidelines, select those receptive to your genre, be certain that they are accepting submissions, submit only what they require, and never send an unsolicited manuscript. They will not read it. Your literary agent will handle your contractual relationship with a publisher; they are your agent acting in your behalf.

If you are fortunate enough to become a published author through the literary agent/publisher/reader sequence of progression, congratulations, you have hit the big time. Your publisher will handle all the details of composition/format, cover design, printing/binding, fulfillment/marketing, and warehouse/distribution, leaving you free to crank out books. You will have little or no input regarding any of the production aspects of your book, nor will you retain any rights other than copyright. The publisher will own the ISBN and all future negotiations for anything concerning that work will be through, or with the permission of, the publisher.

Who is your favorite author? Why I am my favorite author, of course! But, I continue to read with pleasure: Cecil Scott Forester, Wilbur Smith, Ayn Rand, W.E.B Griffin, Ken Follett, and too many others to list in this space.

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J. A. Hunsinger’s Websites:
http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/reviews/
http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/order/
http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/articles/
http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/blog/
http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/contact/

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Author J. A. Carlton (Austin, Texas-USA)

Wednesday’s Child (Freedom Fighter Book 1) by J. A. Carlton

In 2055 the U.S. is a 3,000 mile wide graveyard. Inside the country’s borders, a war against the world is about to begin.

After Commander Harold Mitchell’s murder, Stone Rivers, an idealistic young graduate is called in to head up Delta Squad. His first day in charge is the day he loses his second in command.

Lieutenant Jade McKay should’ve been given command of Delta, but instead was put in charge of investigating Mitchell’s murder, the very murder she’s been accused of committing. On the night she begins her investigation, a sinister branch of the government that will stop at nothing to unlock the classified secrets buried deep in her subconscious, takes her captive.

Elija Tyrell will do anything to destroy Jade, including going back through time to re-make the world they came from.

U.C. Director Antoine Pecho will do anything to get his “Pet Project” back home where she belongs, including giving her to Tyrell.

Cold Coffee Book Review: The world and the United States of America as we know it in 2015, is unrecognizable in 2055. The CIA, Homeland Security, ATF and DEA are all merged into one body now called the U.C. or Upper Command.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are merged into the New United Military Alliance or NUMA which is under the control of President Clayton Maxwell in 2055. History had repeated itself with mandatory DNA collection and the desire to create a perfect race. During this engineered holocaust America’s population was decimated forcing many of the remaining citizens’ into catacombs and tunnels, where they later became known as “Unders”.

Lieutenant Jade McKay is a trained assassin working between NUMA and the Unders to ‘take back the topside’. She has been implanted with a microscopic computer chip with “binary coding tendrils attached along her visual pathway” which make her memory almost photographic. Jade is able to carry out any mission as long as it doesn’t conflict with her basic principles. (Jade is not only hyper-kinetic and telepathic, she has to contend with the side effects of a hybrid drug that suppresses her neural impulses that cause nightmares.)

Upon return from an assignment to protect Darien Rivers, the man most directly responsible for helping NUMA break away from Maxwell’s control, Jade finds herself arrested and charged with the murder of her Commander, Harold Mitchell. But like all superior soldiers Jade has an enemy named Elija Tyrell who is out to destroy and even kill her. Working with the local UC branch Elija takes Jade prisoner determined to find out whether or not she can be compromised.

This adversary will stop at nothing to accomplish his goals including going back in time to change history. I like this quote from Jade, “Something’s going to happen today. I swear I’ll kill him if he keeps pushing.” The sense rushed through her veins, carried in every cell of her blood to every nerve fiber, axon and dendrite. As sure as she was breathing, something huge lay in the shadows of this little corner of the universe. “I wonder if anyone else feels it. Whatever it is, I’m not gonna like it.”

What a great read. Become mesmerized in Jades ice green eyes and her abilities as ‘Wednesday’s Child’ continues with book two of the series called ‘Into the Fire’ and book three ‘Fortune’s Tide’ in the ‘Freedom Fighter Series’.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse Wednesday’s Child by J. A. Carlton as a science fiction, action, suspense, mystery thriller. Review posted March 19, 2015.

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Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author J. A. Carlton

J. A. CarltonJ. A. Carlton has more than 8 books and 5 screenplays under her belt, J. A. Carlton has a mission that mainstream publishing doesn’t want you to know about. She’s the Author you’re NOT reading but SHOULD be!

Award Winning Author J. A. Carlton blasts through genre barriers, first with her horrifying psychological thrillers ‘Broken’ and Soul Hunter. With a penchant for epic series Jill has published ‘Wednesday’s Child’, ‘Into The Fire’ and ‘Fortune’s Tide’ of her ‘Freedom Fighter Series’. ‘Nick, Of Time’, ‘Second Hand’, and ‘The Third Race’ are the first three installments of her ‘Heroes Of The Line Series’.

Jill currently lives and writes in Austin, Texas. She is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Speaker, Author and Screenwriter.

 “A percentage of author proceeds are donated annually to the prevention of child abuse.”

Her Mission:

Entertain as many people as possible!
Inspire others to explore their creativity!
To learn something new!
To share something new with someone new!
And to urge others to do the same!

 

Interview:

What makes you proud to be a writer from Austin, TX? Austin has an absolutely incredible and supportive arts community. There’s an openness and appreciation for so many different mediums here.

What or who inspired you to become a writer? My mom. She’s the one who instilled a love of reading and literature in me. She’s the one who taught me to find the bliss within the pages. From there, writing I suppose was a natural progression.

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? When I was twelve. Though I was in my mid thirties before I believed that what my characters had to say had validity.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and why? Absolutely. My mother was an English teacher who instilled in me a love of literature and the myriad worlds that could be mine if I only dared to believe and open my mind! I grew up with a family that cherished education and imaginative expansion.

Do you come up with your title (s) before or after you write the manuscript (s)? Usually the ‘logline’ holds the title. I also write screenplays, so once I have the concept, a working title comes relatively quickly.

Tell us why you write the genre (s) that you write? I like things a little spicy so work mostly with Thrillers and Supernatural themes.  I tend to think of genres as ingredients in a recipe, so I love mixing and blending their elements in the hopes of creating a unique flavor to my particular story telling voice. Also, exploring human behavior in relationships is utterly fascinating and employing multiple genres gives a far more well-rounded view of a character and how they interact with the world on different levels and under different circumstances

Tell us your most rewarding experience while in the writing process? The moment when you know your characters will prevail in spite of, AND because of whom their experiences have made them.

Tell us your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? The day a client told me she was going to start a small press so that she could put my works out there in the world. She believed in me so much that she started a press geared toward getting new authors with unique voices a chance to be read.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? If writing is what you love, don’t ever stop. Learn from others, how to run a business, learn to network. (I don’t mean slamming the keys at the local coffee shop… meet people, join writers groups. You will suck many lemons before you find the right people to work and grow with but when you do, it’ll all be worth it.).

Who is your favorite author? The first author who made me pursue her works was Marguerite Henry.

Books Available To Purchase Now:
Broken (psychological thriller)
Fortune’s Tide (Third – Freedom Fighter Series)
Into The Fire (Second – (Second – Freedom Fighter Series)
Nick, Of Time (First -Heroes Of The Line Series)
Second Hand Heroes (Second – Heroes Of The Line Series)
The Third Race (Third – Heroes Of The Line Series)
Touch Me-Nurturing Your Relationships Through Positive Touch (Stand Alone Book) 
Soul Hunter (psychological thriller)
Wednesday’s Child (First – Freedom Fighter Series)

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? Yes. Please, if you love to write do it! Invest in an editor, one you can meet with face to face. Believe in your voice BUT… understand your market. Do you have a point? If so, stick with it. Do you want to be the next Rowling? Meyers? Koontz? Learn the art and structure of story then as you write consider both the market and yourself. It can be a beautiful compromise! Just understand what you want and why.

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Author JD Kaplan (Northern Illinois-USA)

The Scary Girls

Cold Coffee Book Review

‘The Scary Girls’ contemporary urban fantasy by JD Kaplan will captivate your imagination and tease your own dreams. Kaplan’s descriptive writing will draw you into the plot by his use of vivid colors, musical concepts, space and time, people and places, romance and terror, reality and fantasy.

His main character named Patrick Benjamin MacKenzie, better known as Trick to his friends takes the reader into his world as a lead guitarist for a band named ‘Fishmonger’. Little does Trick know that by walking into ‘The Carpenter Creek Brewery’ for drink or two one night will change his reality!

Three women, all with the name of a flower will soon come into his life. His reaction: “The music we’d made together had been magical. Like good sex almost. No, amazing sex. I was hooked. I thought about them that entire night and when I finally I fell asleep my dreams were full of music and magic, all of it revolving around those girls, The Scary Girls.”

Characters that you might meet or hope not to meet somewhere at some time will overwhelm your senses. Music, romance, supernatural places, images, and characters from an ancient world take you on a journey to the “Dreamside”. When you wake there will be a lot of questions, but I guarantee that the read will be intense.

I, Theodocia McLean endorses ‘The Scary Girls’ by JD Kaplan as a contemporary urban fantasy that will stimulate your imagination. I purchased this book in Kindle. This review was completed on March 29, 2015.

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Headline: Your Journey To The Dreamside Begins Now

Book Description: “Male guitarist needed. Talented humans only. Ask for Forsythia.” Trick is looking for a new band. So what the hell, he makes the call. Which is how he meets the Scary Girls. Mysterious, Beautiful, and otherworldly, there’s something downright…scary about them. But the music he makes with them is incredible. Magical. Because of them, he discovers a world within the one he knows, just left of center, hiding around the next corner. A world of magic, improbability, and impossibility. Trick changes. He senses more—he is more. He’s always felt out of place, uncomfortable in his own skin. Now, he’s coming alive. But who is relentlessly and terrifyingly hunting him? Can Trick figure it out before someone gets hurt? All he can do it try. As it turns out, that’s a fine place to start…

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Welcome To The Dreamside

What is the Dreamside?

It’s the mystical and chaotic place where all dreams take place. It is an ever shifting landscape made up of a patchwork quilt crafted by the minds of people asleep and dreaming in the Waking World. Separated from our world by the Wall of Sleep, this is where the stories in my books take place.

So come on in and explore the Dreamside…

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Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author JD Kaplan

JD Kaplan currently lives in Northern Illinois with his wife, two kids and very insecure Golden Retriever, Max. He has worked in the software industry for nearly 18 years after a period of failing to publish his poetry. At this stage in life he’s actively trying to change careers again to be a full time author of fantasy and science fiction novels.

Interview:

What makes you proud to be a writer from Chicago? I don’t know that pride comes into it but I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and after spending about 20 years living elsewhere (Austin, Tucson and San Jose) it’s really great to be home. It’s funny how the things that bugged me about this place have become a source of great comfort. I love the down to earth people here.

What or who inspired you to become a writer? At the age of 13 my aunt introduced me to Frank Herbert, Stephen R Donaldson and J.R.R. Tolkien and that year I wrote a 200 page book. It was the worst garbage ever but I did complete it and it had a story. I guess that’s a victory in itself. I’ve tried my hand at a few different styles of writing—poetry, short literary fiction and music—but in the end I have come back to the type of stories I loved as a child.

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? When I first graduated from college I got a job in a bookstore in Tucson and spent all my free time writing poetry and short fiction. I basically collected rejection notices…this was at a time when you still got rejection notices from publishers and agents. Nowadays you’re lucky if you get a post it note with ‘no thanks’ scrawled on it.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? As a kid I was quiet, shy and a bit reclusive. I loved to curl up with a good book that featured impossible things. I didn’t have much interest about reading stories that were feasible—I wanted to escape. Both my parents were educators and reading was valued as a good pastime in our house.

Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? Sometimes I come up with a title before or during writing, but rarely do those titles survive to the end. The one exception to that is The Scary Girls. I tried different titles for that book but in the end that one just stuck.

Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? My writing falls somewhere into the broader range of urban or contemporary fantasy. There aren’t any vampires, werewolves or benevolent monsters in them. It’s more like the urban fantasy of Charles de Lint or Neil Gaiman, though I would never compare myself to them, of course. I’ve heard people refer to it as ‘slipstream’ lately. Stories with magic and fantasy elements but set in the modern world.

What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? Listening to Forsythia by Veruca Salt really loudly in my car as I drove somewhere. I just got this scene in my head where the main character first meets the Scary Girls. I ended up replaying that scene in my head over and over, tweaking it, adjusting it, even roleplaying it until it solidified. That was where the book was born.

What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Every time I complete a book it’s so empowering. I’ve got two I’ve published and another three that I’ve completed but have shelved. That moment when you finish it is quite awesome.

Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I had an agent request my manuscript then lose it, forget who I was and then eventually just blow me off. The entire process took 6 months and really almost killed my energy to get published. On the other hand, I guess I should thank her for driving me to self-publish, which has been an awesome experience.

What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? The first moment I held a trade paperback copy of my first book. Then again with my latest book. I had kind of thought it wouldn’t be as intense as the first, but I was wrong.

Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Well, since I decided to go independent, I’ve not really had many negative experiences. Sometimes it’s disappointing at how hard it is to get noticed by readers. Marketing a book is hard. It takes a different skill set than is needed to write the book.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Write every day no matter what. I liken it to running. If you’re a runner, you make sure to run every day. You build it up as a habit that you just do without having to convince yourself to do it. Even one missed day can take you out of your stride.

Who is your favorite author and why? I have two favorite authors. Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint. Both of them write the kinds stories I love to read: lyrical, thoughtful and full of magic. Their stories draw on myth, folklore and other sources to inject magic and fantasy into our everyday world.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? I am really drawn to strong female characters. One of the things I love about the more mainstream urban fantasy genre is the wealth of strong female leads. Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs) is probably my favorite character currently. Some of my favorite characters in my own work are female. Penny from Waking Dreams, and Foxglove from The Scary Girls were so much fun to write. I really want to get to the point where I feel comfortable writing an entire book from the perspective of a strong woman.

Author JD Kaplan’s Website and Related Sites
http://www.thedreamside.com
http://onthedreamside.blogspot.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7363644.J_D_Kaplan
https://www.facebook.com/jd.kaplan.author
https://twitter.com/jedeleh
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Author Cora J. Ramos (Pinedale, California-US)

Haiku Dance by Cora J. Ramos

Dance Series Book Two

Thirteen year old, Shino, rebellious and undisciplined, is sent away to the Tendai monks to be trained as a samurai warrior. When leaving his childhood friend Miyoshi behind, he carelessly crushes her young heart.

Years later, weary of senseless battles fought for selfish lords, Shino is thrust into the world of Heian Kyo where he finds Miyoshi once again. Now blossomed into the beautiful and charming Lady Lotus, she is courtier to the emperor’s court and soon to be betrothed to another. Finally accepting that he has always loved her, he risks everything to keep her from the fate to which she is destined but does not want, and the dangers that threaten her life. Does he dare hope for more?

Cold Coffee Book Review: Even though I am open to all books, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a story about a samurai warrior. I was wrong, so let me explain why.

It is 968 AD and early spring on Mount Takao, Japan.

Torn away from his grandfather and the tea farming, final acceptance of his direction in life sets in as Shino puts away his childish memories of Miyoshi. Strict samurai training of body and mind becomes his existence while Miyoshi learns the disciplines of her intended role.

Boyhood is replaced by manhood; through the skills perfected in battle, by dreaming the future, and the assignment that brings him back into Miyoshi’s life in an unexpected way. I quote:

“Tonight, after years of denying and repressing the urging of my heart, I now admit I love her. It has always been so. But my heart is weary of fighting for lost causes. I am not of her class and can never hope to have her. She’s a lady of the court of the emperor, and I, a samurai warrior. There is no meeting place for us except here, where I watch over her tent while she sleeps, guarding her as instructed by my daimyo lord.”

Miyoshi, too, has a destiny to fulfill. Can the worlds of the samurai warrior and the court aristocracy ever intertwine?

With Intense knowledge of the time period and culture, Author Cora J. Ramos weaves mystery steeped in ancient Japanese culture that is very educational. Well-developed characters with innocent childhood memories will touch your soul. Suspense is woven around elegant beautiful haiku poetry, love letters, and famous quotes from Confucius, Buddha and Lao Tzu. Carefully worded dialog draws the reader into this historic yet contemporary love story.

‘Dance The Dream Awake’ was Cora J Ramos first book in what she now calls her “dance series”. This book was inspired by a paranormal incident that occurred while she was vacationing on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Although the author considers this a series, each book stands alone with its own story line and ending. Once a teacher, the author now enjoys writing full-time in California with her husband and two feisty Chihuahuas.

Readers now wait for ‘Dance The Edge’ due to be released in late 2016.

I, Theodocia McLean endorses Haiku Dance by Cora J. Ramos. I purchased this book from Kindle. This review was completed on July 10, 2016.

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Romance Historical/Contemporary

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Cold Coffee Press Author Spotlight Interview With Author Cora J. Ramos

Cora-RamosCora J. Ramos is a writer of short stories of mystery and suspense that have won awards and been published in the anthology, Valley Fever, Where Murder is Contagious.

Her first novel, Dance the Dream Awake, was published in June 2015, a paranormal romantic suspense set in present day, but with a past life of a Mayan life lived in the Yucatan, around 900 A.D.

Her second novel is a romance set in the Heian, Japan of 980 A.D., when the pillow books (like Tales of Genji) were written by the first women authors. It was published May-2016.

Cora is a trained artist and loves to paint for her own pleasure and helps design her own book covers. She keeps journals of her dreams, poems and inspiration for paintings and stories.

She is past president, past editor of San Joaquin Sisters in Crime

Currently she is member of: International Sisters-in-Crime (and the San Joaquin and Central Coast Chapters)
Romance Writers of America (and Yosemite Writers chapter)

Interview Questions:

What makes you proud to be a writer from California? I’m proud to be a writer from Fresno, California because the surroundings were the inspiration for my first short stories which ended up in the anthology:  Valley Fever, Where Murder is Contagious.

What or who inspired you to become a writer? I had always wanted to write but the incident that got me to put pen to paper to create my first novel was a déjà vu experience. On a trip to the Yucatan, Mexico, as I approached one of the pyramids, I was sure I’d been there before. I was certain there was an opening around the side (if you know Mexico’s pyramids, they don’t have openings in the side that I’m aware of) and that there would be a room in there. I steeled myself to enter the pitch black opening, not knowing what was in the dark, but convinced I would find that room. I followed a corridor that twisted and turned until I arrived at a room that opened to the sky. I heard in my head, “This is the room where they dumped the bodies, after they cut out their hearts in sacrifice, and burned them.” Well, that’s not something I could easily forget so when I had the opportunity a short time after the trip, I wrote from that impression and thus began my novel, DANCE THE DREAM AWAKE.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? I was an only child that spent a lot of time alone with only my imagination. Before I began to read, I was taken to the library every week to listen to stories read aloud while observing the colorful murals of fairy tales illustrated on the walls. When I began to read, I ended up voraciously consuming every fairy tale I could get my hands on. Later, when my younger cousins would ask me to tell them a story, I would make them up on the fly. I eventually wanted to write them down but never did—until after that Mexico incident.

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Our Sisters-in-Crime chapter (mystery writers) would hold a tongue in cheek contest every year, called the Coveted Dead Bird Contest. It was limited to a ten page story of murder or suspense. We would all compete with each other for the upside down faux dead bird statue. That first story did not win, but got published in a German anthology. I was hooked. The contest produced many stories over the years. Two other writer friends from that group and myself found a publisher and put our stories into an anthology using the themes we wrote to through the years. (Valley Fever, Where Murder is Contagious)

What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? It is the flow of creativity that happens when you open up and get in the flow. Especially when you write something and later look at it and say, “Huh, wow, I hadn’t seen that coming.”

What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Each publication is a new high. That first short story that sold to a German anthology gave me the confidence to know I was a writer. I could do this writing thing! My first novel was my ‘learning to write’ journey with a teacher, but I was hesitant in letting it go right away. When I finally sent it to a publisher years later, I was confident, and it was accepted without question. I was thrilled. Two years later I re-published it with my present publisher Black Opal Books with a new cover.

How many published books do you have? Two novels and a shared short story anthology.

Please list the titles of all your books:
Dance The Dream Awake
Haiku Dance
Valley Fever, Where Murder Is Contagious (anthology of mystery/suspense short stories)

Do you come up with your title(s) before or after you write the manuscript? I came up with the first title, Dance the Dream Awake from the subject matter of a past life dream coming awake in the jungles of Mexico—a romantic suspense. It was the working title from the start and I never found one more appropriate. After it was published, I started on the next story, Dance the Edge (in process at the moment) and wanted to maintain ‘dance’ in the title. I knew I had more to write about one of the main characters, Jack who has an edgy past. As I was writing it with the theme once again of a past life, it became that character’s samurai life. The problem was that the past life became so powerful a story, I had to pull it out and write it as its own romance novel—thus Haiku Dance was born. That name evolved out of the haiku poems shared throughout the love story.             

Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I began writing without thought about genre. With my mystery/suspense background and my love of the gothic romance novels of England, I fit into the Romantic Suspense genre but didn’t really think about that while writing it. And, with fairy tales and magic as an early influence, the paranormal/fantasy elements creeped in. So I don’t fit neatly into the major genres. I write stories of mystery and suspense that include love and sex. Shamans, past lives and magical elements work their way in to add spice.

Which book title would you like featured in this interview? Haiku Dance

What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book (one book) that you are seeking promotion for? As I mentioned above, this book was begun as the sequel to DANCE THE DREAM AWAKE, the past life of Jack Hart, character from my first novel. When I began to do research on samurai for a time before they joined into warrior clans, I found this charming time in Japanese history, called the Heian era. The first women writers wrote books and diaries of the life of the emperor’s court at that time. They were called pillow books, because the ladies of the court would keep these ‘diaries’ under their pillows. I was intrigued and fascinated by the customs, clothing and people of that era. It fit what I wanted to do with my samurai—perfect for Jack’s past life. Only the story became much bigger as I wrote it and had to be pulled out and written as a stand-alone.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Write from your heart; what has meaning to you. Learn craft and take criticism humbly to improve all the time, but not from people who know less than you do. Writing is a process where growth never ends. I think of it as a yoga; a daily practice of stretching yourself to greater flexibility and strength. You have to keep improving. On the other hand you can’t get the perfectionist mindset that stops you from publishing until it’s perfect. There is no end point as a writer. When you’re confident you’ve done the best you know how to do, jump.

Who is your favorite author and why? I don’t have a favorite. There are many authors I love for different reasons—some for prose, some for plot, and some for engaging the reader so well—a good story whether or not it is perfectly written. A few authors that that come to mind: Pat Conroy, Michael Connelly, Charlotte & Emily Bronte, Barbara Kingsolver, Pamela Clare, Robert Crais, Michael Crichton, Edgar Allen Poe, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I could go on but I’ll stop there.

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Author Jennifer Robins (Cleveland, Ohio-USA)

Abuse Me No More and The Roads Dead End by Jennifer Robins

Brian never stopped loving her. He longed for her every day since she left. When he heard Kristina was coming back, he was anxious to see her, but wanted to wait until she got settled after the trauma of being abused so terribly by her husband, now her ex-husband. He knew about the damage Jason did to her face and didn’t want to embarrass her by calling or going to see her to soon. When Kristina needed help to fix her clankedy old car, she had no choice, but to call on Brian who had a car repair garage. She knew he’d help her, but what she didn’t know was how much more he’d do for her.

Cold Coffee Book Review: Abuse Me No More – by Jennifer Robins is an intriguing story about a love that went terribly wrong and the ability to accept love again. Kristina, she is also called Kris is the main character who faces the challenge of recovering from a brutal attack inflicted on her by someone she loves.

Kristina struggles to move forward while living within the meager monthly disability income that she receives and a small schooling allowance granted to her by the state of Illinois under the Victim’s Law Act.

Life in Grover Falls is by no means easy as Kristina struggles for both physical and emotional healing. With multiple surgeries in her future, it seems her only comfort is knowing that Jason is incarcerated. She has to trust the justice system as memories haunt her.

When it seems that life will not give her a break and everything around her seems to be breaking down to the point of her roof leaking and her car is need of repairs, a man named Brian will gently give her the courage to look in the mirror again and risk loving and being loved.

Kristina draws her strength from her cat named Sissy and a painting on her wall that brings back precious childhood memories of her grandmother. It is her spiritual connection to her grandmother that enables her to find restoration and healing after the panic attacks. “Morning sun danced into the room, perching on her grandmother’s painting, illuminating it like a dim golden spotlight. The stream of water in the painting seemed to come alive flowing lazily to the bottom of the frame. She could almost feel the soft breeze through the trees and meadow in the background. Grandma made her paintings come alive in detail as if it were a video. She rested her head on the back of the sofa and felt the tranquil effect of a loved artistic hand.”

Is her faith strong enough to allow her to trust Brain and allow herself to love again? “Birds chirping outside the bedroom window announced the dawn of a new day. Sun rising in the eastern horizon gave promise to a nice day. Brian stood by the side of the bed with his arms stretched up over his head, a wide yawn coming from his open mouth. The stream of light from the window shined on his strong half-naked body like a spotlight entering the stage. The muscles in his bare chest bulged as he tightened his biceps. She raised her head from the pillow to smile in delight at this wonderful figure standing before her.”

What will the future bring, what dark forces will try to hold her captive, how does abiding love bring resolution and do “dreams have a way of awakening one to life’s realities”.

I, Theodocia McLean endorses Abuse Me No More by Jennifer Robins as an example of one rising above a victim mentality to embrace life, love and even help from those who have passed on to the other side. The review was completed on December 13, 2014.

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The Roads Dead End by Jennifer Robins

Clark and his wife Ginger head out from their apartment in a suburb in Arizona for a weeks vacation to a resort in the desert. They expect to find the old west as a theme in the park portrait with all the buildings and clothes of the old west to make it seem real, but what they find is nothing like the brochures advertised. Were they lost in a time warp, or did this place turn out to be a joke?

Cold Coffee Book Review: The Roads Dead End is another great paranormal romance adventure by Jennifer Robins.

This short story begins as Ginger who works at a medical center and her husband Clark who is an airport fight coordinator is destined to take a vacation to Alamo Lake Park. The brochures and vacation video has convinced Clark and Ginger that this desert resort is the vacation spot that they have been dreaming about.

“Soon they were on their way with the sun in the lower western sky still radiating heat to the earth in shimmering waves across the roads that led to the outer city limits. Evening was approaching and Clark wanted to get to the park before dark.”

Come vacation with Ginger and Clark as they need a much needed break from their professional lives and a romantic getaway to the Wild, Wild West! Or, was it a very strange place, nothing like what they’d expected!

I, Theodocia McLean endorses The Roads Dead End as just one of many of Jennifer Robin’s paranormal adventures. We were given this book in a PDF format for review. The book review was completed on July 4, 2015.

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Here Are A Few More Selections From Author Jennifer Robins

Careful What You Wish by Jennifer Robins

Wishes sometimes come true, or do they? While tuning an older woman’s piano, Carlson notices her photo at a much earlier age and finds her enchantingly beautiful. He wishes he could have been around when she was young so he could seduce her, make love to her.

Did his wish come true when he returned to her house the next day for his forgotten tools? He has reason to believe it did.

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Emily’s Other Face by Jennifer Robins

Emily wakes in clothes other than the ones she wore to bed. It’s as though she’d got out of bed and went somewhere and don’t remember. What’s happening while she sleeps? Could she be sleep walking, or is there something more sinister going on? Her problem stems back to her childhood, only its become more intense as she became older. Afraid to make a commitment to the man she loves, Marshal a successful attorney helps her by taking her to a psychiatrist who hypnotizes her and suspects multiple personalities, but there’s a surprise waiting for Emily and it scares her until she confronts the situation with courage and the help of a psychic.

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Ghostly Antiques by Jennifer Robins

Widowed Clara Espy never thought she’d have to worry about her independence, but after the sudden death of her husband, she had to find a way to earn a living. The insurance left to her would not last so she took over a antiques shop as a way to keep her life going on as it was. Events during her remodeling, open the door to a hidden gift of Psychometry which turns her life around to one in which she now has contact with the dead and can talk to them as well as see them. Her life had not only changed, but she felt lonely until a certain coffee shop owner comes along to brighten things up romantically. Her psychic gift leads her to a situation of terrifying danger, but help comes from beyond through the coffee shop owner Charley.

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Mirror Mirror by Jennifer Robins

Britney never expected to meet up with a ghost living in an old mirror left in the house she’d moved into. Not only did he upset her by being there, but he also became very interested in her which led him to help her from a dreaded disease. His good deed is rewarded by the very thing that kept him from moving on. Britney finds her life turned around through the help of a lost spirit, Captain Leopold Archer and she can go on to fulfill her fondest wishes.

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Murder Me Twice by Jennifer Robins

The interesting subject of death and what happens after has been under scrutiny for a long time by those who are skeptical. Research goes on with amazing results. Do we live on and possibly come back to another life. And, what if we experience signs of our past life?

This novel hits on the subject and takes it to another level.

When Constance Withers’ new love interest offers to help find out the reason for her recurring and disturbing nightmares, the couple uncovers a string of deadly secrets that reveal Constance is in danger of being killed—again.

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Over The Mistletoe – by Jennifer Robins

Rachael didn’t know how her life would change just by looking into a department store window at the wonderful annual Christmas display. How was she to know that very day would be the beginning of a life time romance? The Great Depression was a tragic time in our countries history, but that didn’t stop Stan from courting the pretty girl standing on the sidewalk outside the department store on a snowy day in December, 1939.

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Trick or Threat by Jennifer Robins

Halloween can be a fun and wonderful time. Pumpkins carved with all kinds of faces, witches in black tall hats, and spiders climbing up a large web. Treats of candy and sweets of all kinds to hand out to the little ones at your door. Parties for the adults to show off their costumes of anything you can imagine. But, there can also be ghosts who tend to want to return on this special holiday to haunt and scare anyone gullible to entertain them. Ella fears this very thing when her step-father, promised to come back on Halloween on his dying bed. The thought stayed with her all year long, but when October 31st was approaching, she became more frightened than ever.

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Secret Visions by Jennifer Robins

Growing up with the gift of Psychometry wasn’t easy for Kevin, but soon he knew he’d use it for good and the best way to do that was to join the police force. His gift would help solve crime. This would allow him to spot criminals with only a touch of his finger.

He meets and quickly falls in love with lovely Candace while at the local grocery store. He helps her with her groceries and asks if he can call her. A real love affair takes off immediately and they begin to date.

His new career as a policeman starts while he continues to romance Candace.

One of his first encounters on the job has his gift telling him of a break-in suspect being a wanted murderer, who later comes after Kevin after he escapes from jail for revenge of blowing the whistle on him. When the situation involves the woman he’s in love with, things get very intense.

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 Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author Jennifer Robins

About The Author: Jennifer Robins took up writing about the paranormal after a long time in the business world. She attended Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio (TriC). Her interest in the unexplained we live with has taken her to some intense research of many intriguing subjects. These findings have inspired her to write the stories she puts into words for others to enjoy. She lives with her husband and a few wonderful pets. Jennifer spends time with her grown family, loves to write, paint in oils and play the piano.

Interview:

What makes you proud to be a writer? The accomplishment and a promise to my dying daughter.

What, or who, inspired you to become a writer? A friend who told me I could never write a book. LOL.

When did you begin writing with the intention of being published? 1990

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and why? Not really.

Do you come up with your title(s) before or after you write the manuscript(s)? Before

Why do you write in the genre(s) that you’ve chosen? Total interest and experiences of my own.

What has been your most rewarding experience while in the writing process? To know I was given a contract for my work.

What has been your most negative experience while in the writing process? Publishing scams I ran into. Some have cost me a lot of money. But I’ve learned.

What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Great five star reviews.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Don’t let rejections get you down. They are only a part of writing. Keep going and don’t let anything discourage you. Learn everything you can about writing and study others who are bestselling authors by reading their books.

Who is your favorite author and why? Nora Roberts. I like her style, 3rd person omniscient. I write this way also and find it easy to follow and more informative to the reader. Her books are exciting with romance and more often suspense.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? Only that I love writing and work at it every day. I sometimes wake during the night with ideas, boot up the PC and there I hop on the key board.

Jennifer Robins’ Published Books:
Abuse Me No More
An Author’s Nightmare
Careful What You Wish
Emily’s Other Face
Ghostly Antiques
Ghostly Antiques II: The Ancient Egyptian Bowl
Jeffrey
Mirror Mirror
Murder Me Twice
Outside That Door
Over The Mistletoe
The Roads End
The Ghost Of Herbert Grezley
To Christmas With Love
Trick or Threat
Secret Visions
What Happened To Anna

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Author James H. Barrett Jr. (Northern Nevada-USA)

A-Corporation-of-AngelsA Corporation of Angels by James H. Barrett Jr.

Directly behind the tallest skyscraper in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a building that houses a family-run business devoid of political, greed, and power struggles. Teamwork, kindness, and compassion for others are prerequisites for employment at C.O.A. Inc. for it is not a typical company: it is A Corporation of Angels and its Ceo is God.

Angels, who are allowed to choose their own names while working for C.O.A., work discreetly alongside walking souls while attempting to keep Lucifer and his company, Hostile Takeover Enterprises, at bay. Gabriel and his partner, Sarah, are two angels working on Project Lost Faith, a special assignment to help reinstate faith in God. As the pair attempts to outsmart Lucifer’s cronies, everyone is watching, especially the Ceo of C.O.A. But Gabriel and Sarah are not the only angels on important missions battling those who prey on the weak and hopeless.

In this inspirational tale filled with suspense and humor, A Corporation of Angels diligently works to engage Christians about their faith while doing their best to keep Lucifer from carrying out his own mission.

Book Review: “It had come to everyone’s attention that many people were losing faith in God, particularly in America. It was the angel’s duty to do what they could to turn that around.”
Set in modern-day America, James H. Barrett, Jr.’s new novel, “A Corporation of Angels,” takes its readers on a humorous and soul-enriching journey. It’s not often that the religion genre mixes so well with mystery and action, but the local author does so perfectly. Set in Pittsburgh, the employees of C.O.A. work alongside the walking souls while fighting Satan and his minions in the Hostile Takeover Enterprise company.

The story follows angels Gabriel and Sarah, who interact with other couples in their community to spread kindness, compassion, and generosity; Jeremiah and Jonah, two angels who couldn’t be more opposite but work in harmony; and Sephora, Serafina, and Michaela, a trio of strong women sent to work in New York City. For any Pittsburgh resident or fan of the city, memorable locations like Carson Street, Mt. Washington, the Strip District, and PPG Plaza are something to look forward to and trigger the thought of “I know that place!” constantly. Highly imaginative and creative, Barrett, Jr. is able to incorporate Biblical figures like Luke and James, who serve as generals alongside Sergeants Matthew and Peter, as well as Lucifer’s faction, which includes the likes of Covah, Seil, and Soahc — who are, of course, Havoc, Lies, and Chaos.

“A Corporation of Angels” is a story that’ll keep you rooting for the good guys while also questioning what makes the walking souls stray toward sin and corruption. Although it may be a work of fiction, the book applies to many aspects of everyday life. It’s perfect for a youth group or for anyone looking for an uplifting and interesting read.” Reviewer: If You Have One. WHIRL Magazine review By Julie Pawlikowski

Cold Coffee Book Review: If you ever wondered how angels interact in the physical world, communicate with humans and influence good over evil this fictional account will inspire deep thought and spiritual growth whether you are a believer now or not.

A Corporation of Angels brings a whole new meaning to corporate America. “Working at C.O.A. would be considered more of a hands-on atmosphere. It involved more than sitting in an office, with your face buried in a computer. Much of the work took place on the streets among people. One day you could be in the office, collecting information on the computer, and then the very same evening you would be in New York City, keeping an eye on a client. One thing was for sure, it was never boring.”

Imagine for a moment that you are an angel.

Imagine that you work within a corporation where teamwork, kindness and compassion are essential in your daily duties.

Imagine your C.E.O. is God.

What if your assignment was “Project Lost Faith” and it is your job to walk among humans to help them discover or rediscover their faith in God?

Would you work alone, in pairs or in groups?

How would you interact, protect and/or influence human beings?

Talk about obstacles, how would you handle Lucifer and his employees who are working from H.T. Enterprises to undermine you and the human spirits are every turn?

What if you weren’t an angel from C.O.A., but an employee where Lucifer is your C.E.O. work life would different from working for the C.O.A. “Unlike C.O.A., there was not much trust within the company and confidence amongst employees was not a strong suit with H.T. When a member of the staff was picked for an assignment, they could be sure that other eyes were upon them. They were ready to snitch on co-workers without hesitation, if it helped them climb to a higher position on the company flow chart. The C.E.O. preferred this method of promotion from within. He thought it kept his employees on their toes.”

Let’s come back to your life now. Think about all the times in your life when a chill went up your spine, a shadow skirted around you and you or a loved one was spared from an emending accident, survived an illness or even death itself.

I invite you to read ‘A Corporation of Angels’. Author James H. Barrett Jr. uses his faith, imagination and possibly some divine intervention to write a plausible account of spiritual beings (angels) on earth. The characters are complex, the dialog will draw you into the story. Well written action is mixed with mystery and humor that will give you food for thought.

I, Theodocia McLean endorse A Corporation of Angels by James H. Barrett Jr.. Another selection from this author titled ‘A Summer To Be Treasured’ can be found on Amazon. I purchased and reviewed this book from Kindle. The review was completed on May 11, 2016.

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A Summer To Be Treasured by James H. Barrett Jr.

For forty-five-year-old Josh “Rusty” O’Brien, it seems only a few years ago he was a young boy growing up in Oakwood Acres, Pennsylvania, a quiet suburb where everyone knew everyone. That thought takes him back to the summer of 1973, when he and his buddies were fifteen years old. Josh, Jake Thompson, Joey Flynn, and Walt McDonald were virtually inseparable; it was a summer to be treasured.

Their favorite pastimes were hanging out together and riding their dirt bikes in and around their small suburb, especially after Josh buys his 1969 Suzuki 250 Trail Bike. Bored with the same old track in town, the four plan a riding excursion that takes them farther from town into the rural area, past old man Simmons’ place, and out to the abandoned mine.

While checking things out, the four unexpectedly tumble into a twenty-foot hole. They spend the night in the hole, hoping and praying their parents will find them. But what happens during their eighteen-hour ordeal changes their lives.

Book Review: “Imagine the excitement of a young teenage boy getting his first dirt bike, candy apple red with a black racing stripe. Now Josh (Rusty) can have a summer to treasure going on an adventure with his three best buddies.

Rusty grew up in a neighborhood where everybody knew each other; in a family that valued hard work and had a deep faith. The story takes place in Oakwood Acres during a simpler time. A time without smart phones, ipads and google glasses. A time when the outdoors, and one’s imagination, made up a day of activities. Boys being boys, they soon grew tired of the same games and yearned for more excitement. Rusty, Jake, Joey & Walt decided to take a day trip out past old Mr. Simmon’s place. Stories about the spooky property were passed down from older siblings. They knew they needed to be careful when venturing into his territory. But what happened that day will forever change the lives of these four boys for many years to come. This tight knit community learns much about each other, and knows how to come together in a time of need.

James Barrett has a great talent of storytelling and this book will keep you engaged from beginning to end. It is a story for all ages whether seeking adventure or a nostalgic journey back in time.” Anonymous

Genre: General Fiction, Inspirational

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Cold Coffee Café Spotlight Interview With Author James H. Barrett Jr.

James-H.-Barrett-JrJames H. Barrett Jr. published his first novel, “A Summer to be Treasured”, in 2014 with Abbott Press.

He recently moved from Pittsburgh, PA and now lives in Northern Nevada, with his wife, Belva.

“I enjoy writing Family-friendly fiction. Stories that everyone can relate to. Usually involving everyday people that have some type of obstacle to overcome. I like an underdog. It’s all in how you deal with things.”

Interview:

What makes you proud to be a writer from Pittsburgh? I’ve written mainly about Pittsburgh, that is where I grew up and I’m proud of my hometown city. My 4th book will contain references from Pittsburgh as well as the west coast, which is where I am currently living.

What or who inspired you to become a writer? I’ve always loved telling stories, but one of my professors in college encouraged me to consider writing and I’ve always kept that in mind.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? Of course. I think every writer uses life experiences in their writing and I am no exception.

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? I joined Penn Hills Writer’s Group about 8 years ago. The members all encouraged each other and I will always be grateful to them and the Penn Hills Library.

What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Writing can be a very humbling experience. People have varied tastes. Just because you think you’ve written a masterpiece, it doesn’t mean the world will agree. You just have to give it your all, put it out there and hope for the best.

What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Learning to have patience. Things don’t come overnight. You have to keep on truckin’

How many published books do you have? Two

Please list the titles of all your books:
A Corporation of Angels
A Summer To Be Treasured

Do you come up with your title(s) before or after you write the manuscript? After for the 1st and before for the 2nd

Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? General Fiction for sure, but also a mix of Young Adult and Inspirational as well.

Which book title would you like featured in this interview? A Corporation of Angels, which was just released in February

What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book (one book) that you are seeking promotion for? I fused my background in manufacturing along with my faith, to create a story of angels in a business type setting. There is Marketing, Advertising, Project Management and Angel Resources departments, to name a few. As far as I know, there is nothing like it on the market.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Never give up! Follow your heart. Write what you want to write. Not what you think others want to read. Don’t jump on the Vampire bandwagon!

Who is your favorite author and why? John Grisham. I really love his style of writing.

 

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Author Carol Desforges (Rhode Island-USA)

Behind Closed Doors by Carol Desforges

Behind Closed Doors delves into the dark secrets of the Shugrinsky family following the desperate path of the manipulative mother Naomi as she runs from her past demons and copes with her day to day struggles.

The first book in the Shugrinsky family saga series, The Pinning, focused on Elizabeth breaking free from her dysfunctional family; now learn more about her mother’s tragic story in Behind Closed Doors.
Elizabeth would be the first to tell you that Naomi is not an ideal mother: she is manipulative and controlling, and she appears to be unraveling fast. But Naomi has survived tragedy before, and now she’s struggling to do so again.

When her suicide attempt doesn’t extract her from her painful marriage like she’d planned, Naomi finally opts to divorce Jesse. But with her history, she worries how she will be able to keep custody of Elizabeth and Mary. And even beyond the legal matters, how can she maintain a relationship with her daughters when everything she does seems to twist into something bad?

Naomi’s story travels back and forth from the 1940s through the 1970s, building the taut and bitter web that makes up her life. All it takes is for one string to snap before her world collapses around her, and the fallout won’t just affect her…

Behind Closed Doors is filled with tragedy and suspense, yet it leaves a small ray of hope for the Shugrinsky family by the end.

Cold Coffee Book Review: ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is a stand-alone book in the Shugrinsky’s family saga. ‘The Pinning’ (first book in the series) was Elizabeth’s story. ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is Naomi’s story (Elizabeth’s mother).

Naomi graduated from Columbia Law School in the 1940s but in a desperate attempt to leave her parents’ home she marries an affluent man named Jesse. Her story reflects many women’s history in the forties who succumb to their husband’s wishes for them to stay home and raise the children.

Needless to say, her dysfunctional childhood carries over into her relationship with her husband and children. On top of Naomi’s internal struggles is her acute awareness of her husband’s drinking and philandering.

Naomi’s emotional struggles take a toll on her and whenever any form of mental illness is added to family dynamics there are repercussions. Woven into every family are secrets that stay hidden behind closed doors.

Quote from the book jacket: “A novel drenched in drama and suspense”.

I think one should read ‘The Pinning’ first and follow up with ‘Behind Closed Doors’ (or buy both together) to get a deeper understanding of each woman’s story.

I, Theodocia McLean endorses Behind Closed Doors  by Carol Desforges. Review posted in August 2014.

Genre: Literature & Fiction, Sagas

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Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author Carol Desforges 

carol-pictureCarol Desforges holds degrees in biology and education from the University of Rhode Island, and over the years she has worn a variety of career hats: primary and secondary educator, dietitian, nursing home administrator, home care coordinator, sales associate, secretary, and bank teller.

In the past, Desforges spent her time volunteering in her local community tutoring teens and adults, managing religious organizations, working suicide prevention hot lines, running adoption support groups, and leading Girl Scout troops. Now, she writes novels, teaches Mah Jongg, and runs statewide tournaments for the game. The Pinning and Behind Closed Doors are the first two books in her Shugrinsky family saga series.

Interview:

What makes you proud to be a writer from Rhode Island and New York? I tend to write about places in which I have lived, Rhode Island and New York. I enjoy introducing the readers to these places and the idiosyncrasies associated with these regions. When I can express a thought in an entertaining fashion but get the reader to understand my point of view of or understand the point of view of one of the fictional characters in these places, I want to jump up and scream, “Hurray! I’ve done it.”

What or who inspired you to become a writer? A met a young woman from a dysfunctional family who stated that she hated her mother.  I asked the twenty-three-year-old if she would feel the same way about her mother if her mom became ill or died. She said that she could never forgive her mother and would always hate her.  I tried to explain to her that she might regret not having a relationship with her mother; she may never have peace of mind. I tried to explain that she could come to a resolution with her mother without “forgiveness.”  The girl did not understand. I decided to write a story about a young woman from a dysfunctional family who was able to come to a resolution with her mother (and or parents).  As I began to write, I became more and more excited with the process of writing. It became a catharsis for me as well.

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? After I began my first attempt at writing, I showed my efforts to a librarian and a neighbor. Both felt I had some talent in writing. The librarian encouraged me to make the story into a novel. At that point, I decided to learn more about writing. I went to a writer’s conference and heard from others how difficult it was to get a publisher; however, the writing field was not as bleak as it used to be. It was becoming fashionable to be independently published when a traditional publisher was not available. I decided to take the plunge. I ordered two books on the process of writing and tried to incorporate the book knowledge into what I was putting down on paper.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? I came from a very dysfunctional family. It was not difficult for me to write a story about a dysfunctional family. I had a good understanding of how a character could behave and react in dysfunction. I wanted the characters in the story to exist in the same time frame as my formative years, 1950s and 1960s. During those times, families were portrayed as picture perfect and ideal (e.g., “Father Knows Best” and the “Donna Reed Show”). Divorce was not common. Homosexuality was not open. During that era, I felt there were a lot more dysfunctional families than there were picture perfect ones. Most people relate better to some degree of dysfunction than to the world seen through rose-colored glasses. I decided to write about a parent with mental illness and introduce alternative lifestyles to a young girl.  I tried to write without being judgmental.

Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? It depends. While I was writing the manuscript The Pinning, I came up with a title.  I used the term pin and pinning so much, it was natural to incorporate it into the title. In fact, I made the ending pertinent to the title after the title was created. Using the word pin and pinning, I came up with a surprise ending in the format of O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi and left the book open ended–implying that there would be a sequel. In Behind Closed Doors, I chose the title before I wrote it. The book involves a married couple with a less than perfect hidden relationship. Also, the mother was mentally ill and her condition was hidden from her family, friends, and neighbors. She was thrown into a psych ward with locked doors (hence behind closed doors).

Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I write family sagas. You often hear that you should write about what you know. I know a lot about dysfunctional families. Voila, I write about them. I have written and independently published two. I have ideas for a third the family saga novel that will mix in fantasy.

What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? The most exciting and rewarding experience in the writing process is the aha moments–when an idea comes to mind and you feel you have expressed it well.

Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? The only negative experience in my writing career has been the fact that my writing does not seem to interest agents and traditional publishers; however, other readers have been very encouraging. I suppose I could pick a hot topic to research and write about and have agents and publishers banging at my door; but, I am not passionate about that.

What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? The admiration people have for writers surprises me. Even though I see some flaws in my writing endeavor, most people appreciate my stories anyway. I did not know how to create suspense in my first novel, but no one seemed to mind it.  By the second novel, I had mastered that skill and people enjoyed reading the story that much more. That was rewarding.

Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I hired a professional review service that was off-base. It is said that real life is stranger than fiction.  Most of my stories are fiction. Occasionally, I will throw in a real-life experience. The review service told me that parts of my story were too farfetched to be realistic, when in reality, they were taken from real events. After that I decided not to hire a reviewer for a statement on the cover of my books. Although agents did not choose to look at my work, I am writing for my satisfaction not theirs.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? My advice to other authors is to try to find moral support any way you can–friends, family, and other writers–as there are too many critics that will want to put your work down. Try not to get discouraged. However, you need to listen to critiques. They can often be helpful to the writing process.

Be sure to get a good editor. Most libraries and newspapers don’t like to take on independently published authors as they are afraid those writers’ works will be error ridden or poorly thought out.

Who is your favorite author? I have several authors I adore. These names come to mind: Jody Picoult, Geraldine Brooks, and Kim Edwards.

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