Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Closing up shop

Hello, all! After some consideration, I've decided not to blog here anymore. While I do like helping other writers, I've come to the point where I run the risk of having too much on my plate. There are too many other things that I want to do with both writing and art, and looking toward the future, I don't see myself giving this blog proper attention.

I've deleted the Twitter. If you would like to follow my account, I'm here @LeaRyan1

My writing blog is here

I'm going to leave the blog intact out of respect for any writers who linked in.

Thank you to the authors who have appeared here and the readers, too. I wish you all well.



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

excerpt: The Blasphemy Tour, by Jass Richards

Two Canadian atheists go on a cross-country speaking tour of American Bible Colleges, and oh god, they end up committing all sorts of blasphemies. Philosophy meets Stand-up.
(In The Road Trip Dialogues, the prequel, Rev and Dylan are charged with blasphemy for adding “‘Blessed are they that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stone.’ Psalms 137:9” to a Right-to-Life billboard just outside Algonquin Park. As a result of a well-publicized court trial, the American Atheist Consortium offers an all-expenses-paid speaking tour of American Bible Colleges. The Blasphemy Tour tells the tale of that tour.)
Opening Excerpt:
Rev slowed as they approached the border at Fort Erie and chose a car lane that had virtually no line-up. Carefully maneuvering into the narrow lane, which was marked by concrete dividers on either side and a huge concrete pillar on the driver’s side—whose function intrigued, and absolutely eluded, her—she pulled up snug behind the car in front of her.
Almost instantly a voice boomed out over the speaker. “BACK UP YOUR VEHICLE!!” Simultaneously, a border guard appeared out of nowhere and walked briskly toward their car, making forceful ‘back up’ signs with his hands.
“BACK UP YOUR VEHICLE NOW!!” The voice commanded.
“All right, all right,” she grumbled, puzzled by their urgency, and put the car into reverse. She grabbed onto the back of Dylan’s seat for leverage, turned to look behind, and started to back up.
“Rev!” Dylan said almost immediately. But too late.
She heard the clunk. Then the clatter. And when she turned to face the front again, she saw that the rear view mirror on her door was gone, clipped by the concrete pillar. So that’s what it was for.
She mumbled something as she opened her door to retrieve it.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” she ignored the command. It was just a rear view mirror and it was sitting right there.
She exited the vehicle. More or less.
“Shit,” she muttered.
Dylan didn’t dare glance over—he was staring straight ahead in disbelief, exclaiming with full Irish, “Bloody hell—” Besides, he knew what had happened. “Please tell me you fell out, you’re on the ground, and you’re going to stay there,” he managed to say.
“Yes, yes, and—” she tried to stretch her legs, but apparently her knees were doing their very best imitation of concrete—“don’t have any choice. I hate this growing old—” she growled.
“Yes, well, we can commiserate about the tragedy of being over forty later. Perhaps when we turn sixty. Because at the moment we’re surrounded by half a dozen border guards. All of whom are seriously armed.”
“What?” she popped her head up.
“Men with guns!” Dylan shouted.
“Oh.” She ducked back down.
Dylan raised his hands.
Rev also raised her hands. Her head hit the pavement. “Shit!”
Dylan winced. “Are you—still conscious?”
“Yes. Unfortunately. I really—”
“—used to have abs. I know.”
Dylan did as he was told.
“STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE!” The voice repeated.
“Just give her—” he looked over at her—“an hour.”
“Oh shut up.”
Two of the three guards who had been aiming at Dylan swivelled to Rev.
“She was talking to me,” Dylan said quickly. “Rev?” He was afraid to look directly at her in case that looked like they were colluding to—do something.
She grunted. And cursed again.
“He called you ‘m’am’,” Dylan said out of the side of his mouth. “That should give you—motivation.”


Friday, June 1, 2012

Virtual Book Tour of Vasant Dave, Author of Trade Winds to Meluhha

Navigating through Controversies in writing Pre-Historic Fiction

No other ancient culture is mired with multiple controversies as perhaps the Indus Valley Civilization. Almost any aspect that you examine, there are polar differences. For someone who writes fiction based on the ancient culture of Indus Valley, these disputes carry a lethal potential of branding him. While some authors and artists love stirring up controversies, or creating one where none existed, I am among those timid writers who prefer to steer clear of heated discussion.

The bitterest is based on Nationalism – one between Pakistan and India as always. Since much of River Indus flows through Pakistan, and two of the biggest sites Harappa and Mohenjo-daro are located there, a certain section in that country tends to establish an exclusive right on Indus Valley Civilization.

After the Partition of 1947, the Archaeological Survey of India rushed to find sites which it could call its own. They discovered innumerable small sites along the dried-up bed of the mythical River Saraswati, now the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra. But ASI's biggest discoveries were Lothal which had a port, and Dholavira which had two storm water channels. My protagonist Samasin, a Mesopotamian youth on run, visits all these places in the novel.

Running almost neck-to-neck with it is an argument springing from Religion and Mythology. The Hindus relate Indus Valley with their ancient scriptures, the four Vedas. Amish Tripathi, an author whose two books are selling like McDonald Pizza in India, imagines Shiva not as God but a sort of Superman in the Indus Valley. His approach is based on a seal discovered at Mohenjo-daro. It depicts a squatted man surrounded by wild animals. The most familiar portrayal of Shiva is in a similar yogic position, meditating. One of His many names is Pashupati, Master of Animals. So the person whose image is engraved on the Mohenjo-daro seal fits in perfectly.

In Trade winds to Meluhha, I have transformed that unknown man into a more realistic character of Yotai, an ascetic. I have made him give a hint about what to expect in the narrative. He had prophesied self annihilation of the Indus Valley race by two deadly venoms – one the people would consume by craving, and another they would contract by lust.
A somewhat related with Religion is the existence of domesticated horse in the Indus Valley. Carbon dating of the earliest seals depicting a horse puts them later than 2000 BC. That interferes with the periods of the Vedas and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata that the Hindus would like to believe, because the horse is an integral part of all those scriptures. In order to prove that the animal existed much earlier than 2000 BC, Jha and Rajaram manipulated an image of a much older seal, turning a picture of a bull on it into a horse. In response, Witzel and Farmer wrote an article entitled 'Horseplay in Harappa' exposing the hoax! In my novel which is set in 2138-37 B.C., there is no horse in Indus Valley till the character of Captain Paravar carries a foal from Mesopotamia.

The language that the Indus Valley people spoke is as big an enigma as their script. One school of scholars believe that it was Sanskrit. On the other hand, research by Dr. Asko Parpola and Dr. Iravatham Mahadevan indicate that it was Proto-Dravidian from which four present South Indian languages viz. Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu have descended. I accepted their reasoning and used Tamil lexicon to create characters' names and to tweak site names so that they sounded like those in Southern India.

In some cases, the author of fiction cannot avoid looking partial even if s/he tries hard to remain neutral. In case of doubt, s/he is forced to select one possibility and move on with the plot. At the end of the day, it is for the readers of fiction that he is writing, not for the academicians.
Trade winds to Meluhha by Vasant Davé is available as e-Book in various formats from the following web-sites:

FaceBook page of the novel at

Monday, May 7, 2012

interview: Bryan Lyze, author of The View


Crime boss Red Cabon is arranging the killing of prosecution witnesses with the help of his secret informant. 

The extroverted witness Maria Bozzella is in the protection program when she meets and falls in love with Jack Moore.

Jack is an innocent and Maria must break it off, but it is too late. Jack is in the middle of a war, and F.B.I. agents are dying quickly.
 What inspires your stories?
I don’t really know, but the inspiration definitely comes first. With THE VIEW it was actually the view from a cottage I was renting at the time and then about eight hours of imagination. Afterwards I had the basic outline.

What genre do you gravitate toward and why?
Romantic thrillers, but I like trying different things. Each genre has it’s own challenge, and that can be fun.

What are your work habits like?
Awful and sporadic, but even when I’m not writing I’m thinking about the story, and when I start writing I lose all track of time.

What do you consider your best work?

Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?
I put down as much as possible as fast as I can and then flush out and fill in over the course of refining my stories. I see the story in my mind visually and I usually know the last line of the story almost as soon as I begin.

What experience do you want for your readers?
First I want them to enjoy the read. I try to keep it interesting and keep them guessing, but mostly I hope they get lost in the story and characters.

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?
Of course, but I take a lot of literary license. THE VIEW is complete fiction.

What are your most significant challenges when you write?
Having an idea that works in your head but not on paper or for the current story and letting it go, that can be difficult.

What are you currently working on?
A children’s book that was an original poem.
Do you have any writing advice you would like to share with aspiring authors?
The same advice we all hear and know, keep writing.

Available now in paperback and e-book on Amazon

Saturday, May 5, 2012

interview: Mathias Freese, author of The i Tetralogy

This evening, we welcome Mathias Freese.

Interview : Mathias B. Freese

by | on April 30th, 2012 | Literary Sojourn
Mathias B. Freese is a multifaceted personality who is a teacher, a psychotherapist and an author. I got a chance to read and review(here) one of his books – This Mobius Strip of Ifs and was quite impressed by his writing style and the sincere way in which he has shared his life with his readers.
It was a pleasure to conduct an e-interview with him for our readers here.
1. When did you start writing your experiences in the book form ? How has been the writing experience so far?
I have been writing since 1968, although at age eighteen my high school yearbook published a poem by me which was so misunderstood and so savagely edited that I didn’t recognize it when it was in print. An English teacher got carried away and omitted the underlying theme of depression which I was experiencing when I wrote it. Unknowingly she compounded my resentment. It was the repressed Fifties, so what else is new? The next effort was ten years later in a short piece for an education journal which revealed or uncorked my disenchantment with teaching content in the classroom. After that my full-blown neurosis composed of despair, depression and rage revealed itself in 1974 when I had “Herbie” published, my first major short story. (See my first short story collection, Down to a Sunless Sea.) As you know the first essay in This Mobius Strip of Ifs , explores my serendipitous and synchronous adventure with that particular story. In any case after being listed with Mailer, Oates, Singer and other greats, I felt very encouraged and continued to write.
Rejections cooled my ardor but I never quit. Indeed, I promised myself that I would set out to write the best stories I could and at a later date have them published. This self-promise took thirty or so years. Characterologically this effort says so much more about me than as a writer. So as Spencer Tracy once said about Kathryn Hepburn in one of their collaborations, what there is of her is “cherce.” Consequently I don’t quit. I persevere. The only audience I write for is me and if you like what I have written, so be it.
My writing experience can be extracted in a sense from Kazantzakis’s epitaph: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”
2. What has this literary journey taught you and enriched you with?
Vibha, this question is the equivalent, as I think about it, of assessing my very life which by the way is what I have done on a regular basis over the years and decades, in short, pungent, I hope, open and feeling essays. We are all born to be done away with. Again I go to an epitaph to help reflect, this time Epicurus: “I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.” Much wisdom and therapy in that remark, for Epicurus, rightly so, believed that philosophy should be a kind of therapy.
But readers of this interview want something else, don’t they, Vibha? (Happy talk?) An aspect of myself is not to please others but that while I write I share my experience with you, with me first. I have enriched my literary journey, not the other way around. I give to my writing and I learn in that way to write better. Krishnamurti famously said in one of his dialogues, “The word is not the thing itself.” So all my writing is just an approximation of what turmoil, tumult and insight I have about my human condition. As we all should know, to cite Christopher Hitchens, we are only partially rational, animal, and often savage at that, and our human genome controls the robot that we are.
3. Which has been your most satisfying writing experience so far?
The i Tetralogy, my extensive take on the Holocaust, represented much of who I am as a Jew and human being, of my growing up Jewish in America. In that novel I put all the skills, imagination and heartfelt renderings I could about man. I have gone beyond Wiesel’s affirmation that indifference is not tolerable any longer. I have arrived at a different assessment based on my reading, psychotherapeutic experience, my atheism – free of religious conditioning, the bane of civilization, and I have gone into the unexplored country. Man is out of control, always has been, genetically so! In a few years we all will be reading about evolutionary psychology, the additional scientific work based on Darwin’s theories which have emerged in the 90s. Dawkins, Dennett, Ridley, Wright will become well-known names, and what they have to report based on immense scientific studies can be summed up in Richard Dawkins words: “We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecule known as genes. This is a truth that still fills me with astonishment.” The Selfish Gene
Consequently writing about the Holocaust allowed me to examine the nature of man so genetically far beyond Hobbes’s “short, nasty and brutish” assessment.
This Mobius Strip of Ifs, I believe, has given me the most pleasure because I was freewheeling in my approach and many essays were written over four decades and reflected the thinking I had at different stages of my adult life. Upon reflection, the book is about the emergence of a self. It was an assessment of myself and now at 71 I see where I had trod and what lay before me. Ironically it was you or someone else who wrote that the book was a profound self help one which, I feel, is an oxymoron.
Nevertheless, this made me think and if it is so, that I have made others go back to my book, chew and digest it, that is a delightful gift to this writer’s life. My working hypothesis is that this book is from an inner directed person, and that is uncommon. Recently the American Psychiatric Association deleted Narcissism from its manual of disorders, DSM IV or V. That is, most Americans are now narcissistic and what was formerly a disorder is now the norm. All those learned interventions I had acquired for dealing with this disorder goes out the window. So when an American goes overseas and wants a house and insists that it have an American bathroom, that kitchentop counters be made of granite, that all appliances be stainless steel only testifies to our lunacy, not our so-called normalcy. By the way, the essential trait of a narcissist is his or her emptiness, the rest is all bluff.
4. Are all the essays in This Mobius Strip of Ifs taken truthfully from your own life or do they have some fictional elements too? How comfortable do you feel opening your feelings in front of the world?
Easy to answer. My life is non-fiction. I will not play shrink here, but I gather individuals are uncomfortable with my openness. An English Academic, who I have 50 years on, cited this difference between English and American writers. Americans are into Whitman, Thoreau, Ginsburg and British writers, except for Hitchens and a few others, are constipated, to be blunt. Brits, unlike Ginsburg, cannot howl. I can’t think of an English equivalent to Hart Crane. To make my point, this academic was displeased with my plumage. Oh I couldn’t care less because she cannot see through her own conditioning.
Having spent years in treatment and working on myself by reading Krishnamurti, I have no qualms about expressing my feelings openly, not disguised as in novels and short stories. The personal essay fits my personality and I use it as best I can. Think about this: the real task of a good shrink is to make the unconscious conscious and human beings have a terrible time arriving at revealing themselves. We really do not communicate well as a species. We are gelatinous vats of suppressed and repressed feelings and awarenesses. When you can break through, you are free.
I struggle to be psychologically free. I can say that all my writing is about my need to be psychologically free, of myself, especially you, and of the world which conditions 24/7. And the worst felon in all this is the monolithic and mammoth conditioning of religion which is the dragon at the gate. Freud argued (The Future of an Illusion) that to become free of this conditioning brings you into full adult maturity as a human being. Religion is man -made. (Pause.) Consequently it is corruptive.
5. What do you intend to write next? When is it expected to be published?
The next book is already finished and I am thinking of how to go about getting it published. I have submitted it to several online magazine contests, but most likely I will have to self-publish it myself.I will not engage agents on this because it is so time intensive to acquire one I’d rather go the other alternative routes. After all, I do not have a vast readership nor do I devote many hours to promoting the book. I try to do what I can but I refuse to be sucked into rampaging capitalism which is all the rage across the internet, the hustling, self-promoting, the slobber at some writers’ mouths as they urge you to read this or that. So here is a synopsis of my next book. No one who encounters the Holocaust seriously is ever done with it.
I Truly Lament, is a varied collection of stories, inmates in death camps, survivors of these camps, disenchanted Golems complaining about their tasks, Holocaust deniers and their ravings, and collectors of Hitler curiosa (only recently a few linens from Hitler’s bedroom suite went up for sale!) as well as an imagined interview with Eva Braun during her last days in the bunker. The intent is to perceive the Holocaust from several points of view.
An astute historian of the Holocaust has observed that it is much like a train wreck, survivors wandering about in a daze, sense and understanding, for the moment, absent. No comprehensive rational order in sight.
In my award-winning Holocaust novel, The i Tetralogy, considered by some an important contribution to Holocaust literature as well as a work of “undying artistic integrity” (Arizona Daily Sun) I could not imagine it all, and this book of stories completes my personal struggle. Within the past year 10 stories have been published online and in print from this collection, the most recent “Slave” published in Del Sol Review in December 2011. I will promote my present book and by year’s end publish the new one.
6. What were your thoughts when you started writing The i Tetralogy ? What unique thing did you want to convey on the Holocaust that has not been done before?
Allow me to depart a little from the question and express my thoughts in this fashion To have survived the Holocaust is to have been gutted as a human being. The inner self is ravished. Whether or not one recovers from that is beyond comprehension.
All literary depictions of the Holocaust end as failures, perhaps revealing shards of understanding. And is understanding ever enough? Writing about the Holocaust is a ghastly grandiosity.The enduring mystery of the Holocaust is that memory must metabolize it endlessly and so we must try to describe it, for it goes beyond all imaginable boundaries. One soon realizes the fundamental understanding that the species is wildly damaged, for only a damaged species could have committed the Holocaust. No great piece of art, no technological achievement or other historical creation of mankind can ever expunge the Holocaust.
Human beings are so much less than we give them credit for. If we begin here perhaps books can be written about the Holocaust – without blinders or eyelids, although by definition they will fail. Every artist who struggles with the Holocaust must begin with an acceptance of failure and that must be worked through before art begins.
I have come up short here. I must say what I have to say as a man, as a Jew, and be done with it. I feel deeply the flaw within as part of this species. I am ashamed.
By name and nomenclature, the Holocaust is but an approximation of what happened. The species cannot grasp its nature. The artist will only succeed marginally if he or she manages to drive that home.
The eternal perseveration of the species has become the Holocaust. We will never be done with it. We will never work it through.
7. You are a teacher and a psychotherapist – which of these two vocations excite you more or is more satisfying, other than writing. While working in the capacity of a psychotherapist, which do you think are the most common human frailties and strengths?
As a psychotherapist I can engage human beings, at times, at very profound levels, not in the classroom. Most schools condition human beings, that is their real task – to indoctrinate, to be an American or to be French. By working with my fellow human beings I began to grow as well, and as you know, Vibha, in This Mobius Strip of Ifs I write about the telling consequences of being a client and a practitioner. For me treatment helped this soul to become much more free, more open, more expressive, although I still work on those potholes we all have.
I am not an expert on human happiness, frailties and strengths. No one is an expert. As I age I realize I know shit. Perhaps other than techniques, therapists should keep that in mind, all “professionals.” Look at the world about – it is in chaos, those in charge are not in charge themselves, think of Clinton’s errant penis, Cheney’s need to devour human beings by sending them off to war, Sarah Palin who did not know that there was a North Korea and a South Korea.
I’d pose your question another way. What can I do to become aware, and what can I do to decondition myself so that I can see clearly? In that is hope.
8. Could you please give suggestions to budding authors on how to make their writing more effective and meaningful?
Advice sucks. Whatever advice I have received I had to process through my own machinery. So if you want to lick at the waters of advice-givers, make sure that your machinery is working real well and that you can discern good from bad.
Let me specify. It is an old cliché to writers that they should write between 500 to 1000 words a day over years. And what if you cannot? Well, I had to work and feed the family. I wrote in study halls while I taught; I wrote late into the night when I could. I fought off despair all those years through sheer grit and bullheadedness. I just wanted to write to exorcise my dybbuks. I never thought of myself as a writer. I was an auto-didact. What I have concluded is that you do your best, learn what you can, use what seems useful and forget all the bullshit – you know, 10 ways to have your book reviewed, how to write a query letter to a blogger, how to get an editor, and how to promote you work before you even write it (book as package). I don’t know about you but I am fatigued. We do all this fussing as each day we move closer to our end. Ecce Homo.
Release date: February, 2012
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Publisher: Wheatmark
ISBN: 9781604947236
Price: $10.95 paperback. $9.95 Kindle
Availability: Amazon (paperback), Kindle, Barnes and Noble and

Mathias B. Freese is the author of The i Tetralogy, a Holocaust novel, winner of the Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice Award 2007, and Down to a Sunless Sea, a collection of short fiction, Indie Excellence Finalist Book Awards, He is a psychotherapist and teacher. Non-fiction articles have appeared in the New York Times, Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy, Pilgrimage and other journals. In 2005 the Society of Southwestern Authors honored him with a first-place award for personal essay/memoir. In November/December 2011 Mensa Bulletin published this essay in revised form. His new collection of short stories is in progress, I Truly Lament, Working Through the Holocaust. In 2011 ten stories from this collection were published, the latest being “Slave,” Del Sol Review #18, 2011. His writer’s blog is This Möbius Strip of Ifs, a collection of essays written over four decades, was published in February 2012.
Interview reposted with permission from Mathias Freese. Content located at   and

Thursday, May 3, 2012

excerpt: What Happened to Tom, by Christopher Taffen

What Happened to Tom
Christopher Taffen


When Tom next woke, he tried to reach for the glass of ice chips, but
it was, apparently, an impossible task. When he tried to lift his arm,
it felt like dead weight. He couldn’t believe how weak, how lethargic,
he was…


A few minutes later, or maybe it was hours, Dr. Anders entered
briskly. She wore a clean and freshly pressed white lab coat. Her
movements were efficient. She was cool, competent, and dispassionate.
In other words, words the common man might use, she was a bitch.

She glanced at Tom’s sleeping body, checked the bag of clear fluid
hanging on an IV stand, then began to read the various monitors,
making notes on the clipboard she was carrying. Tom woke.

“Where am I?” he asked then, his voice scratchy. “Who are you?”

“You’re in a—health clinic. I’m Dr. Anders. You—”

“What happ—” he broke off when he managed to focus on her. He
recognized her. “I remember you! Last night…”


He had watched her approach from across the room. She was trim,
pretty, confident.

“Hi,” she had said to him. “Mind if I join you?”

“No, not at all,” he replied, charmed. And charming.

She sat on the empty stool beside him at the bar.

“What’ll you have?” Tom signaled to Ty, the bartender. He was a neat
man, a clean towel always over his shoulder.

“A cosmopolitan, please.”

Ty nodded, and a moment later put the rubied concoction in front of her.
“So,” Tom started the old dance, “you work around here?”


“Wait a minute,” he said, continuing to struggle as his memory
returned in bits and pieces. “You said you were a nurse—”

“No,” she spoke carefully, “I said I worked at a clinic. You assumed I
was a nurse. Do you know why?” she added, an edge in her voice.

But he didn’t really hear the question.

“Did we—?” He frowned. No, that wouldn’t explain why he was there.

“We had a drink,” he tried again, grappling with his inability to
remember, and then with the implications of his inability to remember.
To remember even a thought he’d had a few hours, or was it days, ago.

“Did you put—” He tried, again, to wrap his head around the
possibility of having been slipped the so-called date rape drug and—

“Did you—”

“No,” she said. Then added, “Not exactly.”

Her amendment didn’t register.

“How did I get here?” he asked. Then corrected, “How did you get me here?”

“Oh, don’t sound so surprised,” she said, with a little disdain. “Do
you think it’s so impossible?”

He had a confused flash then, of leaning heavily on her and being
helped into a car.
“You drugged me!”

Again, such surprise. She didn’t respond.

His realized then that his side hurt. “What did you—”

But he couldn’t even raise his hand to lift the covers and look. Had
they taken a kidney? Was she part of some illegal organ transplant
operation? He looked in vain at his body, completely covered by the
bedding, then tried to take an internal inventory.

“What did you take from me?” he asked, his anxiety turning to panic.

“Calm down,” she said. “We didn’t take anything. On the contrary, we gave you—”

He struggled to raise himself from the bed, and only then realized
that his wrists were cuffed to the bedrails. He freaked. As anyone
would upon discovering they’re a prisoner, held hostage.

He had no idea.

“What the hell—why am I— What the hell are you doing to me?” he screamed.

“Just relax, Tom,” Dr. Anders calmly injected a sedative into his IV
line. He slumped into unconsciousness once again. “It’ll be okay,” she
added, the barest suggestion of sarcasm in her voice.


When Tom woke again, he was more quickly aware of his situation.

“Nurse! Someone!!” He struggled against the cuffs. “Help!!” He could
see they were just Velcro straps, but he wrestled with them in vain.
He leaned forward then, thinking maybe he could grab one of the ends
with his teeth. Oh, shit, big mistake. Hurt like hell. He fell back
against the pillows. What in god’s name had they done to him?


An allegorical horror story.
A psychological/philosophical thriller.
A must-read for every man.

On Smashwords

On Amazon

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Hello! ok. I've been absent from this blog for a while, mostly because I'm elbow-deep in not one but two book projects. I apologize if you emailed me and I haven't gotten back to you. I checked the inbox for a while, but then neglected it for a longer period of time.

I do plan to return. I do plan to answer emails. There may be some changes as far as content. I need to streamline this whole blogging process. Some of the posts were taking too long to put together (links, pictures, etc), which is why I went on hiatus in the first place.

Let me think on this thing for a minute. We'll see where we land.


- LR

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guest Post: The Thrill of It All by PI Barrington

Christmas is over, the New Year has begun and it's the weekend. You pull out your Kindle or Nook or whatever e-reader you got for the holidays and browse the e-books seeking something interesting. There's fantasy, sci-fi, romance, historical, and paranormal to name a few of the majors. Hmm…how to choose?

All the big names are out there but you’re feeling adventurous so you start looking at independent authors including those who self-publish their novels. Hey, it's fairly cheap, the cover looks interesting and it's got a killer title. Why the heck not?

Congratulations, you just downloaded a crime thriller! No small accomplishment considering the incredible amount of them out there waiting for eager eyes like yours. Especially the crime thrillers; if you look hard enough you'll see they seem to be one of biggest genre' from self-published authors. Why is this so?

As a self published author as well as a crime thriller author, here are some of the reasons we are so entranced by the thrill of writing the thriller:

1. We get to let our imaginations run wild! We not only get to write the breakneck speed of the plot with all its twists and turns and surprises to thrill you and take you on an out of control freight train ride, but we get to be inventive as well.

2. We get to invent technology (new weapons, vehicles, etc.,) if we write futuristic crime thrillers and sometimes break that new ground in current time thrillers as well.

3. We get to create heroes, heroines, and our favorite and hopefully yours, bad guys or bad gals as we deem fit. What does that mean? It means that we can make our good guys a little bad and our bad guys a little bit good. Or we can make them both bad by making them both hell bent on revenge for either the same or completely different reasons. We can make our bad guys completely crazy or genius crazy or just genius. In fact we can make our criminal someone you love or someone you love to hate!

We can make you cry when the misunderstood bad guy gets popped by the hero or make you laugh with evil glee when he or she gets their just desserts. We can make them all gorgeous looking including Mr. or Ms. Bad, or we can make our baddies look like George Clooney or Denzel Washington and let them use it to commit their crimes! Think incredibly handsome serial killer women can't turn down because of those laser blues and killer smile! We can make our heroes and heroines pretties or just unusual looking enough to be oddly sexy or we can make them just blatantly hot!

4. We can give them problems. And not just dangerous "How the hell is he/she going to get out of this?" type problems either. No, they can come with emotional baggage including guilt, anger, revenge, addiction, or compulsive behavior and that's just the good guys! Imagine what we can do with our baddies! Well, you'll just have to read that book you just downloaded to find out!

5. The thrill of the chase! We love not only playing chase or cat and mouse not only with the goodies and baddies, but with YOU as well! Yeah, that's us, keeping you on the edge of your seat, trying to figure out what's coming next, who knows what and who doesn't and who the heck is who! And if we can keep you in the dark until the ending when (and if) we shock you, we are doing our job.

6. We can write out that movie that plays in our head for you. If we're really good at what we do, we can create excitement, fear, laughter and anger in you as you watch that movie too! And you should have the third row center seat—the best in the house.

7. And finally, the last and probably most important reason self published authors lean into writing crime thrillers—it's just so damned much fun!

So the next time you're in the mood for something a little adventurous or even a little dangerous, think of us, those crime thriller writers whose ultimate fantasy is to drag you out of your comfort zone, throw you on a runaway train, bus, car, air plane or helicopter and make you scream with the dizzying dips and drops and hair pin curves until you're begging for mercy or until you reach the end!

PI Barrington is the author of Isadora Daystar, a dark sci-fi adventure, which is available via the following retailers.



Also be sure to visit her on her blog.

Curiosity Quills is a gaggle of literary marauders with a bone to grind and not enough time for revisions - a collective, creating together, supporting each other, and putting out the best darn tootin’ words this side of Google.

Curiosity Quills also runs Curiosity Quills Press, an independent publisher committed to bringing top-quality fiction to the wider world. They publish in ebook, print, as well as serialising select works of their published authors for free on the press's website.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Excerpt: Undertaker by William F. Brown


Boston: where California meets Jersey…

I knew I was in trouble when Gino Parini shoved that .45 automatic in my face and made me read my own obituary. I’m not talking about something vague or California-cosmic, like the San Andreas Fault will turn Nevada into beachfront property, or those McDonald’s French fries will seal my arteries shut, or second-hand smoke will give me lung cancer. I’m talking about my own honest-to-God black-and-white obituary ripped from page thirty-two of that morning’s Columbus, Ohio newspaper:

TALBOTT, PETER EMERSON, age 33, of Columbus, died Sunday at Varner Clinic following a tragic automobile accident. President and founder of Center Financial Advisors of Columbus. Formerly of Los Angeles, a 1999 graduate of UCLA and a lieutenant, US Army Transportation Corps...

That was me. I was Talbott, Peter Emerson, 33 years old, and formerly from Los Angeles. I had graduated from UCLA and I had been a lieutenant in the Army. Coincidence? I didn’t think so. There was only one of me and I didn’t die in the Varner Clinic or anywhere else last Sunday. I was an aeronautical software engineer and I had never been to Columbus or heard of Center Financial Advisors much less been its President. Still, when you’re looking into a set of hard, dark eyes and a .45 automatic, it’s hard to argue the fine points.
But I'm getting ahead of myself . . .

The Undertaker is available at

William F. Brown's website is HERE.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interview: William F. Brown, author of Amongst My Enemies and The Undertaker

Author Bio: "Bill Brown is the author of six mystery and suspense novels. The Undertaker, is a domestic thriller published last February. It’s garnered 18 Five-Star and 17 Four-Star reviews of 37 posted on Amazon. Amongst My Enemies, his newest, is a Cold War thriller dealing with espionage, revenge, and missing gold. Both are available on all the usual e-book sites. An earlier novel, Thursday at Noon, a Joan Kahn Book from St. Martin’s in hardback and various paperback and foreign editions, will be out in e-book this spring. He has also written four award-winning screenplays. A native of Chicago, he attended the University of Illinois. He and his wife live in Ohio,where he writes, paints, and plays bad golf."

What inspires your stories?

I was always a reader, and I read one too many bad books – bad plot, unrealistic action, and cardboard characters. I turned to my wife and said, “I can do something this awful.” (It happened to be an unusually bad Clive Cussler) So I went to the library, got some books on writing, did my research, and gave it a shot. That was 6 books, 4 screenplays, and a lot of years ago.

What genre do you gravitate toward and why?

Suspense thrillers, both domestic and international, because that’s what I always read and enjoyed. As they say, we should write what we like and what we know.

What are your work habits like?

Not as regular as I would like. We travel a lot, and I play golf and paint from time to time. I use a computer, do my best work in the evening and at night, hate being disturbed, and like an orderly desk and work area around me; provided I can keep my wife from putting STUFF on my desk!

What do you consider your best work?

What? Pick one of my babies? Is this ‘Sophie’s Choice?’

Actually, and to be fair, my newer work is better than my very early work. As in everything, we learn. I wrote 4 novels, and then tried screenplays for a number of years. I won and placed in a number of contests, and actually had one briefly optioned, but Hollywood is largely an insider game. I think the only people who win are the ones who host the contests. But, screenplays are an interesting discipline. They teach tighter writing, dramatic pacing, dialogue, and character arcing. I then went back to novels, re-writing two and writing two new ones and they were much better. I think The Undertaker, a snarky, funny, contemporary thriller which came out in e-book last year, and Amongst My Enemies, a more dramatic period piece set in the late 1940’s and 1950’s which just came out, are my best to date.

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

I am a tight constructionist. If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t build the road to get you there. It’s the characters who drive the story, and to properly weave and arc them together, you need to know where you want them to be in the end.

What experience do you want for your readers?

I call my novels ‘beach’ or ‘pool’ books, with no apologies. No matter how pretentious we try to be, writers are in the entertainment business. If not, why would Sony, Time Warner, and the other media companies own all the publishing companies? My novels are fun, exciting reads, but ones which I hope are well crafted.

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

Some of my novels are in current settings, but some are set in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s. I had a double-major in history in college, so most of my plots flow out of real events and involve historic figures. The fictional characters, however, are carefully structured to fit the dramatic needs of the story; but I’m sure I have used observation to flesh them out. My wife and I have traveled quite a bit, and I think I have been to most of the locales I use. That helps, but so can an issue of National Geographic.

What are your most significant challenges when you write?

As far as the actual writing goes, it is finding enough long blocks of ‘leave me the Hell alone’ time to completely focus on the text. But . . . in recent years we are in a brave new ‘upside down’ world where the publishers, agents, and bookstores (the former Gatekeepers and Key Masters) who chose the winners and then did all the packaging and promoting, haven’t got a clue and aren’t buying. Now, anyone with an internet connection can by-pass all that, and about 800,000 have. That’s great, except of the minor problem of getting noticed. So, we now spend all our time Face Booking and blogging and tweeting instead of writing, which is what every other ‘writer’ is doing, wondering why nothing is selling and very little is getting written.

What are you currently working on?

I spent last year putting two ‘new’ books I had written out as e-books with all that entails -- working up the learning curve of e-book marketing. I am now updating and converting two of my very successful previously published hardbacks to e-books. Thursday at Noon will be up in March or so. I then hope to get back into a new-new suspense novel I had about one-third written before I decided to see what this e-book thing was all about.

Do you have any writing advice you would like to share with aspiring authors?

There’s an old saying in business management, “Don’t mistake activity for progress.” I’m afraid much if not all of the Face Booking, Tweeting, and blogging we do is simply writers posting to other writers (the rest of that 800,000), none of whom have the slightest interest in buying one of our books. So, don’t forget to keep writing and improving your writing, as you try harder and harder to be a ‘writer.’ And, eventually, the vampires, zombies, fairies, girls with almost-bare chests and guys with no shirts and oiled lats will fade into fad history . . . I hope.

Amongst My Enemies is available in the Amazon Kindle Store.

William F. Brown's website is HERE.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interview: Larissa Hinton, author of Everblossom and Iwishacana/Acanawishi

Today we welcome Larissa Hinton, author of Everblossom and Iwishacana/Acanawishi! Here she is.

Hello, my name is Larissa Hinton. I'm a grad student at Hampton University and hopefully by next year, I'll be a full time secondary English teacher. In the morning, I'll be a teacher but at night I'll become an author. Reference isn't working for you?

Lol, anyway, most of the fiction I write really comes from a life of reading of what I love to read. Some of it, comes from a dark place which I never knew existed until college. Ah, gotta love college. Always discovering new sides of yourself.

If you want to know more about me and my sarcasm, you can just check out my blog and click on FAQ's. Thanks for reading my super short bio! :)

Q. When did you first start writing?

I started writing at the ripe age of 12. At first, I wrote poems because of my lovely English teacher decided that we should write poems and from then on, I fell in love with poetry. The writing bug really bit me a year later when the movie of Nickelodeon movie, Clock Stoppers came out. I thought the movie was going to be horrible, so I decided that I would write a novel that would be better than the movie. Needless to say, my book wasn't as good as the move but I didn't care. I love writing and nothing else mattered. Thus my obsession with writing begun.

Q. What music do you listen to when you write?

Actually, I don't listen to music when I write. The reason I don't listen to music is because it distracts me from writing. My favorite genre is electronic dance. So every time I listen to it (especially Cascada or Rhianna's Please Don't Stop the Music) I want to dance instead of write. So it's more of a hindrance instead of a help.

Q. Do you have any hidden talents?

Apparently, I have the talent of weaving my hair. Everywhere I go people compliment me on my hair and they are so shocked to know that I did it myself. You should see their faces, "You did THAT yourself?" Yeah, of course. You know how expensive it is to get kinky twists done? Over a hundred dollars easy, especially with all of the hair weave I did and how long it is. I'll give you a hint: The hair is longer than you think! I constantly sit on my hair, lol since I didn't originally intend for my hair to be this long when I started out . . . But that's a whole different story.

Q. What was your inspiration to put together this anthology?

Funny enough, there wasn't any inspiration at all! I know, such a bad answer for a writer, but I am telling the truth. You see, I was taking a Creative Writing class and for the first time ever, I had to write short stories. Before this point in my life, I never wrote a short story but I found something funny about it: I loved it. I was able to delve into the characters I loved, create new stories that would inspire bigger ideas, and it was a way to play with the inner thoughts that floated my mind. Even at one point, my professor told me that all of my novel ideas were really short stories. Granted, at that time, I did not appreciate him saying that, but some of my ideas were short stories. I just never knew it.

The poems in the anthology however, were inspired by mostly my personal life. And other times, by the urge to write it down. I don't think I could fully explain it properly, but when an idea hits me, it's like lightening and I'm alert and aware that a poem is in me that needs to be written. I've literally tried to go asleep with that feeling, but I couldn't. I had to write it down into poetic form. It doesn't happen so often (like once or twice a month) but when it happens, I have to write that poem down or I can't think straight.

Oh, and one of the poems, In Death You Speak, it was inspired by boredom in class. I was sitting in one of the English Literature classes listening to them drone on and on about something, so I wrote a poem instead of listening. I know. I'm horrible. A-soon-to-be English teacher not paying attention in an English classroom? Shocker.

Q. What books of yours should we be looking out for release next?

The next book I'm currently editing that you should look for is the sequel for Iwishacana/Acanawishi.


Where rules are meant to be broken
Anissa is constantly on the run from the police and can't seem to stay out of trouble.
Secrets are meant to be kept
Until Anissa hides Florence in her bedroom and her mother finds out. There's only one thing left to do: Send her to Juvenile Cop Camp to erase all of her crimes on her record.

And everything is not what it seems
There's only one problem: Anissa is innocent.
Welcome to Iwishacana.

You can buy this book at these sites:

Amazon US

Createspace eStore


An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts . . . It changes.

The author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi, now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to romance. So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed; you'll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.

This book is available for purchase here:
Barnes and Noble
Createspace eStore

Q. What book are you reading now?

I'm reading Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves. It's a gorgeously dark fantasy book from an author I love. Sadly, I'm almost finished with it but I will give it a grand review hopefully sometime next week. I'm so excited to share this book with my followers!

Q. What is the most difficult thing about being a writer? What is the easiest thing?

The easiest thing about writing is coming up with the ideas. I come up with new ideas practically every day I take a step outside. Now the hardest part about writing is putting your idea on paper and making it come across right. Especially for a novel. It's a long journey from the first page until the last and to make sure it's projecting the idea from cover to cover from word to word is the most difficult part. As a writer, you have to be consistent, persistent, and have excellent time management to be able to complete a novel with style, grace and be sane. Seriously. Ask some writers if they haven't pulled their hair out over a story that just wouldn't translate from their brain onto the paper right. Ah, the makings of a novel.

Q. Quick: Vampire or Shapeshifter?

Shapeshifters all the way. Vampires get way too much hype right now and they have become mainstream and valued for their apparent sex appeal. Shapeshifters on the other hand, will always win in a battle, they are scary, and they are sexy. Win win.

Q. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

I know for me, the most rewarding thing about being a writer is getting back reviews from people who have bought and loved your book. And understood your ideas! I was really wondering about the poems I wrote called WSV (Words Speak Volumes). For the longest time I debated about publishing them in the first place since all they were was words written down a page telling a story in an odd way. I thought that maybe people just wouldn't get it.

It warmed my heart that not only did people understand my poems, they loved them! I couldn't be more thrilled since my poems have never been out to see daylight (yes, I get the Emily Dickinson irony there)! Therefore, I'm always glad to receive somewhat of fan mail on how my writing has made people think in a whole new way once they read Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology.

Q. Any advice for writers?

I have plenty of advice for writer! They can check out these links on my blog here:

But overall, I'd say keep writing and keep reading. Do your research. Do not limit yourself with traditional publishing or self publishing. It is possible to do both.

Q. Anything you want to say to your readers?

To my readers, I have to say you are the driving force behind my writing. You are the people I am so grateful for and I hope that you will find time to read my books and love them just as much as I do. And if you do love them to pieces, then please express and share your love in reviewing my books online! That is all the thanks I need at the end of the day.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Before Movie or Movie Before Book?

My mom gave me a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a couple of months ago. I haven't read it yet.

I plan to see the movie, probably on DVD and I've been debating whether to read the book before or after I watch it.

If I read the book first, I’ll already know what happens in the movie, more or less. I think also, reading the book first gives a person feelings about whatever may have been left out of the movie or added in.

However, being knowledgeable about the story also has advantages. I would probably know more about character motivation and such.

I recently read the first Harry Potter book and I found that there were details that weren't included in the movie or I just didn't catch them.

So, I guess what I do will depend on how I want to experience the movie. Do I want to be knowledgeable while sacrificing suspense or should I wait and see what extra tidbits I pick up during a post-movie reading?

- LR

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Trailer Tuesday

Welcome back! I have returned from holiday hiatus. Book Trailer Tuesday is always a good place to start.

First, while choosing the book trailers this evening, I went through a couple in which the acting was...less than stellar. They won't show up here. I think if a publisher goes to the trouble and expense of producing a book trailer that contains actors, they should probably try and find some that can act at a somewhat believable level. Terrible acting is distracting. Hey! That rhymes!

Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare.

Gabriel's Redemption, by Steve Umstead.

I feel like there isn't enough science fiction on Journey Reader. I need to fix that, yes?

I currently have NO interviews, spotlights or guest posts on the schedule, so if you are an author of fiction and would like to be featured, shoot me an email. The virtual door is wide open. JourneyReader at

Until I can schedule some appearances, we'll just have to see what I can come up with. Adventure!