Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Hiatus

Hey there! Journey Reader is going on hiatus until January. Thank you to all of the authors were contributed this year.

Happy Holidays! Everyone have fun and be careful and keep reading.

- LR

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview: Robert Bennett, author of Blind Traveler's Blues

Author Bio: “Robert Bennett, a former social worker turned writer, lives in the house he grew up in with his mother, one of his two brothers, two dogs that don’t get along, and a turtle. His lifelong focus has been a concern for the needs of society’s disenfranchised. His articles span a wide range of topics from sports to technology and from politics to social justice. His fiction is grounded in real world events and technologies as well as his own philosophical concerns. "It is the act of truly living and believing in yourself that is important, not the manner in which that action is undertaken." Mr. Bennett has spoken to groups of physical therapy students, church members and senior citizens, and has appeared on several radio programs. Contact Mr. Bennett through his website at”

What inspires your stories?

My previous career was as a social worker involved in the care of men with mental challenges. Then I started my writing career as a journalist focusing on disability issues. I switched to fiction after writing an article about a device to help blind people navigate their world. So, you could say, as I’ve often told people, that I still consider myself a social worker dealing with issues of disability, but these days I do my work through the written word and through what most people would consider fiction.

What genre do you gravitate toward and why?

I write mysteries with a sci-fi kicker. My protagonist’s disability (blindness), in my mind at least, tends to make the whole world a mystery in need of exploration. And, I’ve always been interested in technology so the sci-fi aspect of my stories fits that need.

What are your work habits like?

Work habits?? I’m supposed to have habits??? No one told me that! Seriously though, I’m not the kind of writer who says I need to write every day or that I need to write a certain number of words every day. I guess I’m sloppy in that regard. But what I do is write when I get a strong idea, or when one of my characters speaks to me and says he or she wants to do something. My stories are set in locales that I’ve visited. So, when I get the itch to travel I make sure to take copious notes and try to figure a way to fit the place into something my protagonist would want to do.

What do you consider your best work?

I don’t judge my own work for its good/bad value. I let my readers do that for me. I feel too close to the work to be a good judge and it feels arrogant to say this or that is my best. However, my readers have told me, in no uncertain terms, that my current book, Blind Traveler’s Blues, is my best thus far.

Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?

I’d have to answer yes and no. I start with a general idea of what I want to write about. Then I start doing research to flesh out my idea and to see if it would make for a good, viable story. But, I don’t outline and I don’t have a firm understanding of how the story is going to end, or even develop. I let my characters tell me where they want the story to go.

What experience do you want for your readers?

Simply put, I write about the experiences of a wide range of people with disabilities. After all, we all have a disability of one sort or another. Some, like the need for glasses, are more socially accepted than others. In my nonfiction pieces I’ve written about what it is like to be someone with a disability: the devices they use, the opportunities they are given, and the challenges they face. In my fiction I continue that trend while focusing on the world of the blind. I’d like my readers to experience all of these things.

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?

As both a social worker and a writer I’ve learned the importance of observation. I’ve learned to study people: their traits and habits. I don’t believe in the concept of fiction. Instead I believe everything comes from a part of the author’s experience. With that in mind it should come as no surprise that I’ve “borrowed” from the world around me. Just as I set my stories in the places I’ve visited, I also incorporate ideas, traits and habits from the people I encounter into my work. I believe all authors do to one degree or another.

What are your most significant challenges when you write?

I work out of my home so I’m constantly listening to the two dogs and two other people who I live with, At the same time I’m bombarded by ideas by the characters I create. As I’ve said before, my stories are character driven in the sense that I let them tell me where they want to go and how they want the story to proceed. So, if for some reason they don’t choose to talk to me, than I am stuck not writing. Finally if, as in my next story, I want to try to experiment with a new setting or character, I am forced to rely on research material. Sometimes that is hard to find.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve started to research material for the next story in my Blind Traveler Mystery series.

Blind Traveler's Blues is available at




Amazon UK

Amazon DE

Barnes and Noble

Thank you for stopping by, Robert! - LR

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Excerpt: Hazardous Choices by Joseph Rinaldo

Excerpt from Chapter Five of Hazardous Choices by Joseph M. Rinaldo

Coach Rotteli kept the meeting flowing. “Any other coaches want the floor?”

“Thanks, Coach.” Karl Vaughn stood. “Remember to watch the tapes you have of last year’s games, and keep pushing yourselves to get stronger. Once in a while, remind yourselves how bad last season sucked, and let that motivate you to work harder.” He paused for effect, and then continued, “I’m already looking forward to having a great next season!”

“The only thing I want to add to that,” boomed Coach Pearl again, “is that you can’t win a championship in the summer, but you can lose it. You lose it by not doing the things you know you should. Yeah, it’s summer, you’re outta school, but don’t slack off. You came here to play football and WIN games!”

Troy stood up, and with mock enthusiasm, said, “OK, Coach, which great coach you read about said that?”

“All of them!” Coach Pearl snapped back.

“One last thing, I want to personally thank each and every one of you for going to the “End the R-Word” rally last night. Seeing everyone there in uniform standing together sent a great message that as a group and as individuals you will not put up with people making fun and degrading the mentally retarded. I really appreciate that, and Eric does, too.” Looking at them like a proud father he added, “That means a lot to me, and it shows what tremendous character all of you have.”

“Thanks, Coach.” “Glad to be there.” Players shouted from around the room.

“Coach,” Troy said from his position standing along the wall. “I glad to make you proud, but I was there for Eric. I think of him every time I hear that word.”

“Damn straight!” “That’s right!” “Preach on, Brother T-dog.”

“Get out of here, and go study. Good luck, everyone!” Coach Rotteli said with his eyes welling up.

Troy and Darnell walked out together both wearing their lettermen jackets. “What’s your plan for the summer, D?”

“Back to my mom’s place in Chicago,” Darnell mumbled in a low voice, aching with depression as they drifted off from the crowd moving down the hall.

“Does that mean rejoining the gang?” Troy stopped walking and stared Darnell in the eyes to emphasize his seriousness.
Darnell responded with a soft, hesitant, “Yeah, if I don’t go back to the gang, they might take it out on my mama.”

“Oh, my God! I knew it was dangerous, but that…” Troy’s words drifted off as he reflected on what Darnell must be going through. “I, uh, I’ve been thinking that we might have a place for you at my parents’ house; if I can swing it, would you be interested?” To lighten the mood, Troy quickly added, “That means living in Owensboro, which sucks, but you already know how bad that sucks.”

“Man, that’s really nice of you. I would say yes, but my mom is all by herself, and I feel guilty leaving her alone any more than I have to. And like I’m sayin’, since they know where she is, she’d probably pay if I dis’ed the gang. Thanks, though.”

Darnell gave a slight smile to show his appreciation.

“So how could you come play ball down here if leaving them means dis’ing the gang?”

“I told them I have a chance to make the pros. They bought it, cuz everybody wants to believe a guy from their neighborhood can make it, so here I am.”

“My offer about living with us stays open, D. I’ll even drive up there to pick you up. Make up some crazy-ass story about a tryout with the Tennessee Titans if you have to.” Troy looked Darnell in the eye to reinforce his sincerity. “I’ll drive you to the bus station tomorrow afternoon, okay?”

“Yeah, that’d be good. To the bus station, I mean. I like you too good to ever let you come into my neighborhood.” Darnell’s depression churned his stomach as the realization of returning to gang life hit him. Regardless of Troy felt about Owensboro, Darnell would stay forever if he could. For Darnell the safety of Owensboro meant more than any of his classmates could understand.


Hazardous Choices is available at


Barnes and Noble


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview: Chris Wind author of Satellites Out of Orbit

Welcome, Chris!

What inspires your stories?

For the “Epistles” section of the book -- which is a collection written by Eve, Cain’s wife, Noah’s wife, Delilah, the Queen of Sheba, Mary, and others as if they were feminist – the starting point was taking Paradise Lost in my Milton course way back when I was getting my B.A. in Literature. It seemed so clear that Eve was being infantilized, subordinated, etc etc.

And for the “Soliloquies” section, it was, of course, Shakespeare – oddly enough not the 2nd year course I had to take in university, but teaching Hamlet and Taming of the Shrew in high school. It just got so hard to defend Shakespeare as the wise, old bard when he seemingly endorsed such awful sexism – Portia treated as bait, prize, Kate clearly abused, and so on.

What genre do you gravitate toward and why?

In the case of Satellites Out of Orbit I chose the genre to fit. That is, the Soliloquies are written as soliloquies in Shakespearean language; the Epistles are written as epistles; the Fairy Tales (another section in the book) are sometimes written a little like fairy tales (“Greystrands” for example, and “Thumb”), and sometimes more like direct critical commentaries (“Cinderella” for example, which is actually written by her sister); the Myths are poems (revealing the myths inside the myths – for example, when I thought about it, it makes a lot of sense for Galatea to just up and leave, and Penelope doesn’t exactly wait, and so on); the Letters are letters -- letters that might have been written by Lady Godiva, Milton’s daughter, Rubens’ model, Mozart’s mother, Freud’s wife, Plato’s students, and others – assuming a feminist consciousness.

I’ve been ‘accused’ of not picking and sticking with a genre – an accusation obviously from someone who likes to pigeonhole in conventional slots. The prose pieces are hybrid – half essay, half story. There are footnotes and references. And that’s because there are asides (hence, footnotes) and I did a lot of research for this book, so I list my references. I also list the original sources I used – which myths I started with, which version of The Bible I was using, and so on. And for the Letters, well, they’re heavily based in fact. For example, much of what Mrs. Mozart says in her letter is absolutely true: Nannerl did in fact teach her little brother, Wolfgang, to play, and the two of them gave concerts together at first (only later, did Mr. Mozart say Nannerl should stay home…); the tour schedule; the painting; and so on. Same for the letter by Lady Godiva, the one by Freud’s wife… Satellites took three years to write partly because I just kept getting so immersed in the research!

What are your work habits like?

I write for a couple hours, then go for long walks, during which my brain either works on the problems I had and often solve them or it goes on holiday.

What do you consider your best work?

Well, I do like Satellites very much, but I think I like dreaming of kaleidoscopes a bit more.

Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?

Well, since Satellites isn’t a novel, the question doesn’t really apply. But I definitely put a lot of planning into it, did a lot of research, as I mentioned, thought a great deal about the characters and what they might think and say if they had a chance.

What experience do you want for your readers?

I want them to be intrigued. I want them to stop and think about it, to say ‘ah – ‘ and rethink everything they thought they knew about The Bible, Shakespeare, myths, fairy tales – women in the canon, women in our society!

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?

As I’ve suggested, the Letters section features real women; their situations are real and anchored in history, but not what I have them say – that’s fiction. I specifically chose women who had not said anything (or at least women for whom nothing written has survived), so that I could speculate in this manner; that’s why, for example, I had Freud’s wife write to his mistress, Lou Salome – Salome has written, has spoken for herself, so I didn’t want to mess with that.

What are your most significant challenges when you write?

Remembering to consider it done when it’s clear and coherent. Remembering to put the art in. Remembering to savor the words as well as the ideas.

What are you currently working on?

A novel tentatively titled August, a lengthy introspection trying to answer ‘How did I get here – from there?’

Satellites Out of Orbit will be available December 31 in print and as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online bookstores. A free sample is available at Smashwords.

Thank you for stopping by, Chris! - LR

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Excerpt: The Fool's Journey by Mary Chase


Almost too late, Rosa Ruiz saw the host of angels gathered at the bottom of the stairs. They were weeping in a bright, feathered mass, inconsolable, their burnished locks tumbling forward on the steps.

In other times, Rosa might have thought it strange to see so many together. In other times, she might have stopped to listen to their whisperings, or even worked up the courage to try touching one of them.

The times were different now. For good or ill the world had called out to angels through book, video, and even Twitter. Now they were here. Some days there were so many it was hard to walk around. She shook her head and crossed herself quickly.
It was bad luck to step on an angel.

Rosa picked up her basket of dust rags and brushes and squeezed past them on her way up the stairs. They didn't even look up. She climbed to the top of the steps and was reaching into her bag for her large ring of keys when she spotted the feather.

She had never known an angel to let a feather drop.

Slowly she stooped to pick it up, then held it to the light. The feather was translucent, like opals edged with gold, fine as a saint's halo in a holy picture. For a moment, the colors danced in flame, then shriveled to brown in her hand until it seemed nothing more than a dry seed husk from a maple tree.

Rosa shrugged and let the wind carry it away. Maybe, she thought, it would find its way back to its angel.

As she let herself into the apartment, she glanced over her shoulder. The angels were still at the bottom of the stairs, crying harder than before.

The Fool's Journey is available at


Barnes and Noble