Monday, August 31, 2009

Spotlight Author Shares Life Changes After Australia...

First of all, I want to thank Glenda for featuring me on her blog. It has been such fun seeing my photos and quotes every few days, and I so appreciate her taking the time to review my book and interview me. It is always great to connect with a reader, but it is even more fun when the reader is so enthusiastic about telling others! However, now it’s time for another writer to be featured, so I thought I’d close out “my” month with a few final thoughts.

I learned a lot during that first six-month trek around Australia. I have learned more since, but not just about Australia. I have learned about the nature of pursuing dreams and building careers. I’ve discovered that goals often turn out to be doors, rather than destinations, leading to other goals and to rewards undreamed of at the outset. Both Australia and writing have given me more than I expected.

My life is completely different from what it was before I left or what it would have been had I not gone. The most obvious difference is that I’m working for myself. Another difference is changed priorities. Before Australia, I worked all the time. I almost never took vacations. Instead of travel, I had shopping. Today, I’d rather take a great trip than have a fabulous wardrobe or new TV—and I’ve had some amazing journeys. I take more time to contribute to the community, from teaching classes to organizing fundraisers. On a beautiful day, I’ll go to the Botanic Garden or forest preserve for a walk, knowing that I’ll work better when I return refreshed. I just have a different mindset now. I still have to work hard— no one who is self-employed escapes hard work. But work isn’t my whole life now.

Freelance writing has its ups and downs, but even in down times, I’m pleased I made the choice I did. When things are good, I’m more than content—I’m having a wonderful time. I write about the things I love, primarily history, food (mostly culinary history), and travel. I am doing everything now that I once thought I’d have to save for retirement—so no need to retire!

I’d love to write a sequel to Waltzing Australia (I’ve been back to Australia three more times, and have many more adventures to share), but only time will tell if I’ll get to do that. However, even if that doesn’t happen, I’m pleased to have been able to share that first grand adventure. I hope readers come away with a sense of knowing Australia, but more importantly, with a sense that dreams can come true, if one pays the price.

Cynthia, thanks so much for being here during your birthday month! May your writing continue to show the enthusiasm and heartwarming stories about your adventures for all of us to share!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Visit to Australia Through Her Eyes - Favorite Quotes of Moi! Thanks Cynthia!

It is almost beyond words to describe the beauty of the rainforest. It is harder still to express how that beauty affected me. My reaction was almost physical--an intense serenity, an elated peacefulness poured through me, like cool water in a dry land. (13)
This is it. This is the edge, where civilization runs out and wild is simply status quo. My spirit seemed to vibrate in sympathetic response to something in that wildness. I felt drawn to the innocence, the fierceness, the solitude. (47)

As I clambered up and down that magnificent, shattered, chaotic landscape--towering, water-sculpted rock walls, fascinating plants, the sparkling river, dazzling scenery on all sides--munching on warm, tangy-sweet wild passion fruit, soaking up the gloriously brilliant sunlight, I could not help but think to myself, "I don't know what the rest of the world is doing right now, but it couldn't be this good." (121)
Most interesting are the Darwinias, or Stirling Bells. Not only do they grow nowhere else in the world except the Stirling Range, but each of the seven varieties of Darwinia has its own mountain, growing nowhere else in the range...

As I sped over the soft earth, the wind in my face, the colors crowding in around me, I felt fleeter and freer than I can ever remember. Such is the liberating quality of joy. (157)

I have done the most amazing things--beyond what I ever imagined myself doing. Traveling across Victoria's legendary High Country on horseback was harder than I had dreamed, and more wonderful. The mountains were glorious, and the riding, exciting, though I suspect I ran through about a two years' supply of adrenaline. (250)

I sat on a low, wooden bench, just to enjoy the view, but was soon interrupted by the gentle pressure of a wallaby's nose on my shoulder. Two wallabies stood, watching expectantly, batting long eyelashes, as I dug into my pockets for more treats. (See picture - 279)
I began to unpack and settle in. In a fit of mostalgia, I put on my Snowy River hat and oilskins and stood wistfully in front of the full-length mirror. I have owned few pieces of clothing that were so evocative, that pleased me so completely as they. I love this look and what it represents. I took my riding gear off, put it in the closet and still smiling, went to bed. (315)
I wondered again, as I have wondered before, why this place moves me so. I am drawn to the remoteness, to the vigor, the fierceness, and the unfettered innocence of this land, and its spirit whispers to my spirit, and its song sings in my veins. I don't know if this is cause or effect, but I do not need to know. I simply surrender myself to the pleasure of feeling it one more time. (438)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shadrach Linscomb Shares The View From ViewHouse Publishing

Determined To Be Heard

Shadrach Linscomb was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He spent his younger years in the Bayview-Hunters Point area, and continued to spend his weekends at his grandparents’home there even after his family moved to the Ingleside District.
As an adult, Shadrach has lived all over the San Francisco Bay Area, including the cities of San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Hayward, Oakland, and San Leandro, and thus has experienced the richness and diversity of multiple cultures—a personal journey that has taught him to respect and be open to others.
Here are some of the highlights of Shadrach’s colorful life:

• In 1980, when he was in elementary school, Shadrach was diagnosed as severely speech impaired, which led many professionals to conclude that his chances of educational success were slim to none. Instead of buying into this dismal prognosis, Shadrach began to write short stories and poems, and dreamed about becoming a famous author.
• In 1989, Shadrach graduated from Balboa High School.
• Shadrach’s older siblings left home while he was still young, and then his mother left, too. What was worse, Shadrach’s relationship with his father was beyond adversarial. Pulled in opposite directions by strong forces on the streets and loud calls from the church, the adolescent Shadrach got caught up in street life for a time, struggling to survive.
• Nevertheless, Shadrach found time to read the works of Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Ernest Gaines, and others, and aspired to join their ranks one day. Meanwhile, many of the elders in the community, recognizing his potential, urged Shadrach to become a true leader in his community.
• Without funds and basically homeless, Shadrach decided to leave the fast life behind and enroll in City College of San Francisco, where he somehow found a way to attend classes.
• Shadrach received a big break in 1993, when a working-class family in Belmont heard about him and took him in. Soon afterward, he was accepted into the School of Social Work at San Francisco State University. By 1997, he had earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Social Work.
• Also in 1997, Shadrach got a job as a counselor at a non-profit organization based at a middle school in San Francisco, where he worked with “at risk” students. One of his most successful interventions was to write short plays for those students to perform in front of the whole student body, as well as the parents--something these kids had never been allowed or encouraged to do before.

• In the fall of 1997, Shadrach launched his own publishing company, VIEW HOUSE PUBLISHING, based in downtown Oakland. A few months later, he published his first novel, One Day in the Life of Zechariah, a story about an interracial relationship that deeply probes the protagonist’s inner self and personal struggles.
• Shadrach published his second novel in 2001, Brother Status, a story about a streetwise teen and all of the colorful characters in his dangerous neighborhood. In 2007, this book was selected by the Oakland Public School District as one of its recommended readers.
• Shadrach published his third novel in 2005, Sex, Guns, and a Barber (A Shelton Parker Mystery), which opened doors for him as a publisher when he became an award-winning finalist in the African American fiction category of the National Best Books 2006, sponsored by USA Book News. This book also received Honorable Mention for the Hollywood Book Festival Award. Furthermore, the San Francisco Public Library purchased and placed copies of the book throughout its branches. Sex, Guns, and a Barber is now marketed by Baker & Taylor, one of the nation’s largest book distributors.
• On December 20, 2006, the Oakland Post interviewed Shadrach about his publishing company, with sales reaching throughout the United States and even to Great Britain. Shadrach can be seen signing one of his books at any number of different cultural events in the Bay area.
• In 2008, Shadrach published his fourth novel, Player Related, which follows the romantic exploits of an African American male who spent his childhood in foster care. With this book, Shadrach once again became an award-winning finalist in the African American fiction category of the National Best Books 2008. The book has also been highlighted in the East Bay Express, an alternative weekly newspaper serving Berkeley, Oakland, and the greater San Francisco East Bay area.
• Also in 2008, Shadrach published his fifth book, Stories of Relevancy: 11 Reading Passages for Comprehension, a work that goes further than most traditional reading comprehension books in many ways. To promote family values, Shadrach also produced a jigsaw puzzle for little children, A Family Dinner.
• In April 2008, Shadrach started working on a children’s book that combines education and storytelling. He and graphic designer Derrick Bryant plan to release this book in 2010.
• Always on the path to prove his childhood critics wrong, Shadrach became Dr. Shadrach Linscomb on May 22, 2009, when he graduated from the University of San Francisco with a doctoral degree in education.
• On June 13, 2009, Shadrach conducted his first Writing & Self-Esteem Workshop for children between the ages of 8 and 12 to help them to develop an interest in writing, a passion for creative art, and a general good feeling about accomplishing something important. The fruit of this workshop will be the book Young Authors & Artists: A Collection of Work from Creative Children, scheduled for release on September 21, 2009.
Shad, thanks so much for sharing your story with us here at Book Reader's Heaven! Blog Readers, I met Shad by reviewing Player Related in 2008. Watching his life move ever forward is a powerful story...He is a man to be watched for the Future! Shadrach Linscomb is a Man Determined to be Heard!
Gotta Listen!

Like Writing Contests? Check out News From ViewHouse Publishing...

Short Story Contest for Aspiring Writers

We at View House Publishing are pleased to announce our first annual short story contest for aspiring writers. The theme is open to short stories from all genres. We are looking for original, creative, and poignant pieces featuring convincing characters and great plots. Dr. Shadrach Linscomb will be the judge for the contest.
Prizes for the Winners:

1st place $250
2nd place $150
3rd place $50

The contest is open to all
The entry fee is $8 per story (multiple entries are allowed)
Each story can be no longer than 2,500 words and must be written in English
Cover sheet or entry form must be submitted with story (Name, address, email & telephone #)
Unpublished stories should be formatted in Microsoft word or PDF (for online submissions)
Submissions will be accepted from July 1, 2009 to November 17, 2009 (Postmark)
Stories will not be mailed back to the sender and there is no refund for the entry fee
Winners will be announced by December 1, 2009
(Note: Authors retains all rights)
Entry form:

Writer’s name: ________________________________________________________DOB: ___________________
Title of your story: _____________________________________________________________________________
Street Address: _______________________________________ City: _____________________ Zip: __________
Home Phone #: ____________________ Cell Phone #: ____________________ Email: _____________________
Signature: _______________________________________________________ Date: ________________________
Please make your check/money order payable to View House Publishing (VHP), mail your story, a check, and this completed form to: VHP, 1305 Franklin Street, Suite 502, Oakland, CA 94612 (credit & debit cards are also accepted). For more information, call (510) 350-5502 or send an email to Fax (510) 404-5278.
For online submissions:
Send your story with a cover sheet as an email attachment to and an invoice for the entry fee will be sent to your email via PayPal services within 1-3 days.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wine Country in Victoria, Australia

Chandon Winery, Victoria:

Australia’s wine culture,
and the beauty and greenness
of Victoria’s countryside
mentioned often in Waltzing Australia
Photo and
Waltzing Australia dialogue
Cynthia Clampitt

Review: Murder on Campus! Great Whodunit!

Defending College Heights
By Stuart Nachbar
ISBN: 9780595496310
217 Pages

Stuart Nachbar's Defending College Heights brought back many memories of working within the political and town-gown relations on a university campus (for nearly 40 years). For recruiting commander Kevin Callahan, he didn't even have the opportunity to learn.

Soon after he came home from Iraq, Kevin was made commander of recruitment in the area surrounding Hudson Technical University. Hudson had a long association with the military service for campus recruitment as most federally supported universities do. As plans for the annual job fair were finalized, a protest against the war in Iraq was made in the most horrifying way possible--Kevin was killed, and left in one of the campus guardhouses. "No More Lies" had been left as a message on his t-shirt.

Jack Donnelly, Kevin's uncle, had helped raise Kevin and greatly cared for both his sister and Kevin. He went to identify the body and stayed. He was upset with the way the investigation was "not" being conducted, since the army was deferring to local police to handle the case.

But the president of the university was a savvy lady and she intended to ensure that her institution was saved in light of the potential damage that Kevin's murder could have. She convinced Jack to come and work for her, using his urban planning skills, and assured him that she would not interfere if he then conducted his own investigation in his off hours. Really gutsy president! I enjoyed watching her in action with peers, faculty and board members.

Student and/or community anti-war groups were suspected the most. As Jack began to both handle his new job assignments as well as make inquiries around town, he began to question quite a number of people. Interestingly, as things moved forward, it was the students who originally were protestors of the war that worked the hardest to help solve the case. I was pleased that Nachbar showed that the students were not involved!

For murder is a tool of those seeking power or more power. And that held true at Hudson Technical University. For the power sought was to be able to close this institution of higher learning and sell the property for non-educational uses!

Defending College Heights is a good solid whodunit, while providing readers the opportunity to learn about and evaluate armed forces recruitment within a university campus. Believe me, the political environment is really close to reality, in one way or another. Highly recommended.

G. A. Bixler

Review: Paranormal Thriller Invites You to Meet Keaton!

By Phillip L. Davidson
ISBN: 9781440149283
292 Pages

Although this novel is listed under “religious” fiction, let me first highlight that Dreamer by Phillip L. Davidson is also a great paranormal thriller/adventure story! On a scale of 1-5, I’d go 6 easily.

David had begun having dreams again. They were flashbacks to his time in Vietnam, which had caused dreams years before just after he had come home. What he couldn’t figure out was why they had started again. Sunny had suggested he visit a psychologist; only to have him, too, later appear in one of his dreams! Finally David began to wonder if his dreams were not just dreams, but visions.

One of the main characters in his dreams was Keaton, formerly well-respected Sarge in his group of Green Berets. And then he learned from his psychologist that he had had a visit from Keaton! In fact, David’s entire former group had also received a visit from him.

The only thing, though, was that David had been at Keaton’s funeral many years ago!

Sunny had received word that her parents had been placed under arrest in Argentina. The location was very dangerous at that time since Britain was threatening war. David begged Sunny not to go, but of course realized that she had an obligation to try to help. However, as soon as she landed, she was arrested, while her parents were freed. It was Sunny and her connection to David that had been wanted. Everybody knew what would happen, she would be tortured to find out what the U.S. planned to do regarding the potential war.

Trying to find out about Sunny was futile. David was astounded that nobody was willing to try to help an imprisoned American, especially, the wife of an officer!

In desperation he tried everything, until he thought carefully about Keaton’s visit to Father Perez, his psychologist, and his demand that David meet him at a mansion in Georgia. And it was then that he knew—he was to free Sunny himself, using the plans that Keaton had already set in motion well before Sunny had even left the States.

From then on, adventure after adventure takes place. Sometimes Keaton is there; sometimes he has briefed one of the team personally. And more than one participant of the ongoing battle between good and evil sometimes took Keaton’s identity! Each of the men met the “Keaton” that he would follow into death!

Phillip L. Davidson is a former infantry Captain who commanded a group of Kit Carson Scouts during the Vietnam War. His experience has been effectively used to create a novel of action that reflects on the loyalty, camaraderie, anger, frustration and pain of those who participate in war battles. But it is the author’s obvious personal experience in faith that moves this book beyond a great adventure thriller to a drama that “must be read!”

G. A. Bixler

Monday, August 24, 2009

Camels in Australia? You Bet!

Camels, near Alice Springs, NT:

On the other side of the gap, we visited a camel farm. There were no roads or rails coming inland for much of the Centre’s history, and horses were not really suited to desert travel, so camels—one-humped dromedaries from India—were imported during the 1800s to help conquer the sand and dryness of this part of Australia


Waltzing Australia Excerpt
Cynthia Clampitt

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Review: The Crossing Places Coming From England in January!

The Crossing Places
A Ruth Galloway Mystery
By Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780547229898
306 Pages
1-2010 Edition

Elly Griffiths’ The Crossing Places, includes all my favorite things! With a professional rating of 1-5, my personal rating is 10! Mystery, suspense, a taste of gothic, great forensics knowledge, a little bit spooky, a touch of the mystic, a captivating whodunit, and a main character I can actually relate to! It doesn’t get any better for me!

Ruth Galloway is an archaeology professor who lives near a dig site she once worked. There are isolated marshes, dangerous areas where one can be lost instantly, yet Ruth has found the home that suits her and her two cats. Now ten years later, based upon her forensics expertise, she is called upon to examine a body that is found very close to the former dig and, of course, close to where she lives. This connection results in an avalanche of murder, intrigue, love, and loss of trust because Ruth is right in the middle of it all!

Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson had also been there ten years ago. And when they found the buried child, he immediately thought, and hoped, that it was Lucy—Lucy who had been kidnapped and never found. Even finding her in death would be better than never knowing where she was! Nelson stood over Ruth as she kneeled to study the body. The child had been tied down, seemingly with vines. Then Ruth saw the torque, knew it definitely was from the Iron Age and suggested to the Detective that this was probably an ancient body, which on later examination proved to be correct.

The find did not ease the frustration of the police and family, but it did create excitement in the archaeological field. Ruth called her former professor, with whom she had worked on the original dig and explained what had been found. He was able to take a sabbatical and was soon there, seemingly to take over her discovery. Ruth was not pleased. But Eric moved ahead, getting permission to dig, pulling together a crew... Even Ruth had to admit she was happy to be back digging!

But then she would remember why permission had been granted. Another little girl had been kidnapped, her body found buried in the old dig site!

The police had of course conducted their own investigation, but Detective Nelson knew that the detailed search and dig process by professional archaeological staff could be beneficial to finding additional clues. But during that time, the past came back to haunt Ruth:

Her previous lover had separated from his family and came to live near her while he wrote a book, but really hoping to rekindle their earlier romance.

One of the main protestors of the previous dig was found to be living nearby and even working at the same university where Ruth was.

Eric’s return brought back all of her hero-worship/love feelings for him, even while he was laying claim to her discoveries!

And it was Detective Nelson who was pulling her further and further into solving the case--as well as close to him!

Actually, for a self-proclaimed overweight spinster, there were quite a number of potential suitors in her life, including one of her next-door neighbors who she had just become acquainted with!

Sounds like an ideal situation for her?

Well, no, because every one of those individuals was somehow tied to the kidnapping of the two little girls! Believe me folks, this whodunit keeps you guessing right up to the very end... I was fairly certain, then the seductive clues of the author would change my mind to another! Exciting, puzzling, page-turning suspense at its finest! I’ll be looking for more books by Elly Griffiths! Especially those in the Ruth Galloway mystery series!

G. A. Bixler

Review: Romance Novel Set in Amish Country Shares God's Role!

A Man of His Word
By Kathleen Fuller
Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9781595548122
292 Pages

Kathleen Fuller’s A Man of His Word is a touching, heartwarming story of love in Amish country in Middlefield, Ohio. Although it includes much about the Amish Old-Order Community, anyone who loves the romance genre will be caught up in the lives of those looking to find a perfect love.

Moriah Byler thought she had found that love. She had known Levi and his brother Gabriel all of her life; however, Levi’s teasing personality had won her heart and they had started to date and finally married. On their fourth anniversary, Moriah planned a special dinner to celebrate and to share the news that they were going to have a baby.

But instead of having that celebration, Moriah received a note from Levi that he was leaving her, the church and the community!

When Gabriel went to visit the horse farm on which Levi had been working, he discovered the reason—Levi had become involved with the owner’s daughter and she was also going to have a baby!

In the Amish community where divorce was forbidden, Moriah was left to salvage her life. Returning to her parents’ home, she attempted to fit in again, but it was difficult. Gabriel had never shared what he had learned about the other woman, but he tried to be there for Moriah and emphasize that he and his father would still be part of the baby’s family, if she would allow it.

Gabriel also had never told Moriah that he had always loved her, but had withdrawn when Levi and her started dating. Gabriel was a good and honorable man and now he wanted to be there for Moriah...

Another romantic drama runs parallel to this story. It is the story of Moriah’s brother Tobias and his love-hate relationship with Rachel. This somewhat funny tale adds balance to the heartbreaking story of Moriah, while Tobias matures through seeing the distress and unhappiness of Moriah and is able to identify how he really feels about Rachel.

Perhaps you are wondering how God fits into the book? Well, He knew the actual plan for their lives, if they were only willing to follow Him. Feelings of anger, hurt, frustration, hate are all faced and rejected based upon the faith of the main characters. Much can be learned about how we, too, might face similar situations.

A Man Of His Word by Kathleen Fuller provides a learning experience for those of us not within the Amish community. But, for whoever reads the is a wonderful novel that highlights placing our faith in God as the primary source as we look toward a mate. Highly recommended.

G. A. Bixler

Review: The Untold Story of King Arthur - A Must for Historical Readers!

Arthur and Excalibur
The Untold Story
By Gordon Etherington
Trafford Publishing
ISBN: 9781425160388
302 Pages

Do you believe in the legend of King Arthur? Did he really exist as Britain's King, leading the battle to win over the Saxon invasion and begin merging the country under the High King? After you read Arthur and Excalibur: The Untold story by Gordon Etherington, all of your doubt might just disappear! No review could cover the breadth and depth of this book's content!

When High King Uther Pendragon saw a woman he desired, then he took her--even if she had drunk too much and was near unconsciousness. This time he wanted the wife of Duke Gorlois. Fortunately for Igraine, her maid caught the King in her bedroom, because she had proof of what had happened when she discovered she was pregnant! When Igraine realized this, she immediately called upon her old and wise friend, Merlin.

Merlin took charge of everything, having Igraine visit a sanctuary where she could have the child and afterward, leave the child to be raised there in his youth. Gwendolyn, a young woman in the village, became the only mother Arthur knew. Later, Merlin arranged to have Arthur live in the home of Sir Ector where he would be trained for his future role--although none of those involved in Arthur's life were aware who he was.

One small incident illustrates the type of detail in this book: When just a lad Arthur met his first bear! There in the woods he stood, waiting to see what she would do. And then a young cub appeared who had a large thorne in his paw that could not be easily removed. Arthur not only removed it but also prepared a compost to take the pain away. Arthur was known thereafter in the animal kingdom; and they later helped him in battle!

Arthur was still very young when it became necessary to bring him forward to be named as the rightful new High King. He had learned much, including a secret visit to a mystical cave, when he was called upon to challenge for the right to rule Britain. And, of course, he was selected by being able to pull the sword belonging to the High King from a stone (Excalibur came to him later!)

Readers we all know bits and pieces of King Arthur tales. However, Arthur and Excalibur will carry you through his entire personal life...and beyond, so that you will also know where Excalibur now rests! The story includes many battle scenes, much about Arthur's ability to pull together various people and gain continued and widening support. And you will also learn how he was finally betrayed!

The author gives credit to his story to a medium who led him in understanding and unlocking his knowledge and memories. This reviewer responds that in whatever way Gordon Etherington gained his insight, it has resulted in a comprehensive literary statement that is expansive in information, exciting in detail, and certainly plausible as The Untold Story of Arthur and Excalibur. An excellent addition to this early Britain historical period when King Arthur reined!

G. A. Bixler

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wow! Let's Walk on the Beach with Cynthia!

Cheynes Beach, WA:

I walked down to the beach. It was a spectacularly beautiful spot, with the gently sloping crescent of pearly white sand running from the surrounding green hills down to the clear, vividly blue water. I took off my shoes and strolled along the beach, then waded in the water, trying to hold my skirt up far enough to keep it away from the waves, but usually failing. It was a glorious day and a mesmerizing location.
Photo and Excerpt
Cynthia Clampitt
Used with Permission

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: Interview with Dawn Menge, Creator of Queen Vernita!

Dawn, I've just finished Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains! I'm impressed and on behalf of children and parents who care about teaching their children, I thank you!

Thank you, Glenda, I really appreciate your review, kind words, and having me here...

Dawn, When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing in a credentialing class. One of the assignments in class was to write a children’s math book.

Children's Math, huh? That would be an interesting topic...I can see the Queen writing on the chalkboard in her own castle classroom! Where do your ideas and subjects come from?

My ideas and subjects come from my life. The character Queen Vernita is based on my grandmother. The other characters in the stories are people that are in my life, my family and friends. The subjects come from my travels. The Blue Ice Mountains comes from my trips to Alaska, the next in the series; Queen Vernita meets HeathyBean the Astronomer is based on my brother Heath.

Heath...interesting name, reminding me of Heathcliff! I know you are working on your doctorate and have undoubtedly done much writing, but did you go to school for writing?

No, I have been in the special education field for the past 14 years. I have a clear credential and masters degree in special education. And, as you mentioned, I am currently a candidate for my PHD in curriculum and instruction at Capella University. So yes, I've done a lot of writing, although creative writing is much different. But with my family life, it all seems to pull together.

Does Your writing come natural to you or is it something that you have to work on?

Writing about Queen Vernita and her adventures comes naturally to me. The subject and her characters are a big part of my life. The activities and education that I am passing on to my readers is something that I have experienced myself. Therefore it all comes from the heart. It is easy to write about the people that you love, your enjoyment of life, and to pass the passion into your writing and to your readers.

Well, I certainly can agree that your passion comes through in your writing! I would enjoy spending time with Queen Vernita! Especially if I can visit her castle...! Kidding??? Not! What has been your favorite subject to write about?

Traveling and using these experiences to expand our children’s knowledge base. Every new adventure that Queen Vernita goes on is a new adventure for me. I have had a good response with my books and I look forward to seeing what mischief Queen Vernita gets into next.

Yes, I'd like to see her get into a little mischief myself! So, what are the projects do you have for the future?

Sir HeathyBean and the teacher Cora will discuss the different aspects of astronomy. He teaches Queen Vernita and her friends about the sun, moon, planets and meteors.

Queen Vernita will soon travel to an enchanted island with her friends. This adventure is based on my trip to Kona this summer. Queen Vernita will learn about Seahorses, eels, botanical gardens, sea turtles and many more exciting subjects.

In Queen Vernita’s 5 adventure she will learn about volcanic activity and the flora and fauna surrounding this environment.

In the adventures I also try to add in information about disabilities and environmental issues as in animals that are becoming extinct and preserving the planet.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment to date?

The Most important thing in my life is my family. I have three beautiful children and three grandchildren, a very special mother and two brothers. Without these people in my life I would be lost. They have given me the inspiration to reach whatever goals I desire.

That excellent answer surely is illustrated in your choice of writing books to help children learn!
Any tips for other writers?

As they say “Just do it”, but remember to do what you know. If you are writing about a subject that you have a great passion for and is close to your heart, it will come naturally and easily. The enjoyment you get from it will be passed onto your readers.

Not a secret, of course, but not as easily to do! I read constantly, but I also realize that I don't have the creative talent to write...which you obviously do! Dawn, thanks so much for sharing with us today! I wish you well with your Queen Vernita series...

Review: Dawn Menge Provides Excellent Children's Educational Fun Book!

Queen Vernita Visits the
Blue Ice Mountains

Dawn Menge
Outskirts Press, Inc.
ISBN: 9781432711696
32 Pages

Dawn Menge, author of Queen Vernita Visits The Blue Ice Mountains, works with the severely handicapped population, her degree being in Special Education. Sometimes I think it is important to highlight the credentials of the author to provide parents the background that will be well illustrated in the book under consideration. The primary learning process in this book is to teach children the months of the year, the days in each month and the days of the week. The repetition is extensive and serves well to reinforce what is being taught.

However, children really will not be too interested that they are learning! Because the beautifully colorful book, illustrated by Bobbi Switzer, has much to capture a child’s attention!

The thrust of the storyline is that Queen Vernita, being a kind queen, shares her vacation with her friends by inviting one to visit for one month. Based upon the personal interests of that friend, then, the Blue Ice Mountains are explored.

For instance, in April, the study of wildflowers was highlighted. Various flowers were detailed for each day and sometimes, additional information is provided. As I thought about the book as a learning tool, I realized that it could easily be coupled with the Internet, where the parents could find pictures of those items mentioned each month...the potential for learning, based just upon this book, is quite extensive.

Other months included physical activities including Kayaking and snorkeling.

Learning about living things included crabs, sea otters, bald eagles, bears, and whales.

December even included a little bit about Christmas and the North Pole.

My three favorite activities was the study of glaciers, the Aurora Borealis and visiting the rainforest with Ranger Larry!

At first I wondered about the characters being older individuals but then realized that the choice might be related to learning also, since it is from parents and relatives that all children start to learn about their world.

Overall, I was very impressed with the book! In fact, it will be passed on to a grandniece when I next see her. Either through self-learning or as a parent-child tool, Queen Vernita Visits The Blue Ice Mountains by Dawn Menge is highly recommended for age-specific reading and learning...and having fun too!

G. A. Bixler

Ever Cuddled With A Koala?


Among the tall gum trees, dozens of koalas nibbled leaves or slept, curled into tight balls, wedged in the forks of higher branches. A mother koala ambled from limb to limb, her baby clinging to the fur on her back.

Photo and Excerpt
Waltzing Australia
Cynthia Clampitt

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review: A Second Chance Sometimes Comes!

On The Bluffs
Steven Schindler
The Elevated Press
ISBN: 9780966240818
300 Pages

When you find someone to love, make sure you fight to keep her... Or so seems to be the moral of On the Bluffs by Steven Schindler! Once you read Brian DeLouise's story, I think you will agree!

Portia had been Brian's lover when they had met during a summer at Cape Cod. Even then Brian had been trying to make his way into the entertainment field by working at the summer theatre held there each year. His time with her was precious and genuine, but at the end of the season, Portia had gone overseas.

Brian went back home where Frances quickly seduced him, got pregnant and then lost it, but continued on with him into marriage. During most of the marriage, and especially during the latter years, Frances had cheated on him. Her defense was that he knew she liked to party when he married her, so...

For whatever reasons, Brian had stayed in the marriage, until Frances asked for a divorce...

Interestingly, about that time Brian had become a hero for acting quickly when a mugger had attempted to rob two couples leaving a party...a hero, except in his wife's eyes!

And then there was the fact that he was fired from work!

It was not surprising that Brian started looking backward to happier days... And Cape Cod... And Portia...

With nothing holding him home, given that Frances was already working to ensure she got to keep the house as she scalped (and I do mean scalped...every single hair!) Brian in the divorce he was now anxious to have finalized!

Can you go back? Frankly the first part of the book was tedious for me, totally personal since I, being single, have my own opinions as to what should be allowed in a marriage to make it worth staying. Yes! Brian should have never married the woman!

On the other hand, I loved Portia!

As advertised, this novel is sometimes fun, sometimes sad, but altogether a quite unique love story that deserves attention. You just have to sympathize with Brian and be grateful that he finally took that trip backwards in life!

The thing that bugs me, though, is...Frances winding up with all the loot! Would have preferred this lady maybe met with an accident? Yes, if you love to hate soap-opera femme fatales, then On The Bluffs by Steven Schindler is especially for you!

G. A. Bixler

A Taste of Poetry From Dan!

Taking Measure

Cool nights and mild sunny days make sweet grapes.
Good shoes can reshape the arches.
Holding a hand can balance a difficult step.

And we change—if we didn’t we’d be old crusty socks.
We’d be beef jerky whose double-dose of preservatives
make us taste like cow chips.

What is the measure of all this change?
Sears doesn’t sell a measuring cup
to pour our “daily did’s” or “nightly do’s” into.

Yet we can open a bottle of wine
and know the sun it took in.

We can put bread in the oven
and see the fortitude of its yeast in rise.

We can put the cream of what we do in a churn
and account for buttermilk and butter.

We can take our shoes off, massage our feet
and sooth the steps of each new day.

We can smile and turn frowns around just for grins.

We can look around us and see
the character of heart
of those we have been
through changes with
and in that
take measure.

© 2009 Dan Kantak

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Visit Kings Canyon - Excerpt from Waltzing Australia

Kings Canyon, NT:

We drove to a spot about two miles from the head of Kings Canyon. Undulating, scalloped stone walls fell from the plateau above like a great, ragged, red furbelow. Hugh led us up one of the steep, broken stone pleats. A 700-foot climb brought us to the top of the canyon wall.
Photo and Excerpt
Copyright Cynthia Clampitt
Used with Permission

Monday, August 17, 2009

Review: The Rapture by Liz Jensen - Is It Near?

The Rapture
Liz Jensen
ISBN: 9780385528214
295 Pages

Liz Jensen, in The Rapture, certainly has given quite a few twists to the potential “doomsday” story known by many of us from the Book of Revelations and other places within The Bible. Many kudos for tackling a difficult topic and creating a new look at an old, old prediction! Is The Rapture near?

Bethany, just 16, is placed in a psychiatric hospital for the murder of her mother. Her father is an evangelist. With the considerable knowledge of the Bible that is drilled into a preacher’s kid, Bethany is constantly predicting disasters to anyone, highlighting that the Rapture will happen soon. The latest listening to her ramblings is her new therapist, Gabrielle.

Gabrielle has a few of her own problems, having lost mobility through an accident and being referred to this hospital as the only place at which she could probably find a job, since her own therapists felt she was not ready to resume professional counseling. Bethany is assigned to Gabrielle who quickly takes advantage of her, calling her Wheels, since she is confined to a wheelchair. Frankly Gabrielle is somewhat afraid of Bethany’s potential physical aggression!

But when Gabrielle realizes that one of her predictions for a disaster actually occurred, she begins to investigate. She finds her previous nurse, who is now on medical leave, and is told by her that Bethany is not only predicting the disasters—she is causing them!

Coincidentally, Gabrielle meets Frazer Melville, a physicist—and also a man who doesn’t seem to mind she is in a wheelchair, quite content to enjoy her beauty from the waist up! Although Gabrielle has doubts from time to time, they begin to care deeply for each other and she shares the story of Bethany and her predictions. Melville is hooked immediately and asks if there were other predictions that could be verified to have happened.

There were many; and his research showed that all of her predictions had actually occurred on the day and in the place she had foretold.

And she was now predicting the major event that would flood over the world...

Once again, he started researching the possibilities, contacted experts, and found that what she was saying could indeed actually happen. The experts were so sure, in fact, that they were willing to announce their opinions to the world so that people could prepare for the disaster.

Bethany’s father did indeed prepare. Bethany made sure she was where he would be when The Rapture was scheduled to occur...

Liz Jensen has created a fascinating thriller that totally reverses the roles of the characters as we may have thought would happen when, indeed The Rapture occurred. Whether you believe in the potential event is irrelevant; Jensen’s story is believable...and a must-read in my opinion!

G. A. Bixler

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Check out the Sealion & Excerpt from Waltzing Australia!

Sealion, Kangaroo Island, SA:
We walked out onto the hills of drifted sand and clambered down their steep, shifting sides, descending to the beach, where we were surrounded by Australian sea lions. The colony here is made up of nearly 500 sea lions, and they were ranged all along the bay, as far as the rock-sheltered white sand stretched in either direction.
Photo and Excerpt
Copyright Cynthia Clampitt
Used with Permission

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beautiful! Right?! Photo and Excerpt from Waltzing Australia!

Millaa Millaa Falls, Queensland:
We headed off through the rainforest again, to visit some of the area’s many waterfalls. My favorite was Millaa Millaa Falls. Moss and ferns hang from the underside of a high, ragged, jutting cliff, over which the water flows in a long, silvery cascade. The surrounding tropical greenery is so dense that it also appears to be flowing over the cliff. The waterfall is reflected in the pool at its base, which gives the impression of two falls rushing toward each other and meeting at the water’s surface. As always, I would have liked to have stayed for days.
Photo and Excerpt copyright
Cynthia Clampitt
Check out Blog by Clicking Article Title!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review: Drawing In The Dust by Zoe Klein - I Loved It!

Drawing In The Dust
Zoe Klein
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781416599128
360 Pages

Wouldn't it be wonderful if alternative history sometimes really took place? Do we know for sure that it didn't? I believe that if the love story that Zoe Klein created in Drawing in the Dust was true then God, me and a lot of other people would be very happy! Indeed, Klein's Drawing in the Dust is an inspired beautifully written novel that demands to be read and shared!

Naima and Ibrahim Barakat came quickly to speak to Page Brookstone. She was at work in Megiddo and had been for twelve years. When the Barakats explained they were looking for an archaeologist to "dig" under their home, it could have been fate. Quite possibly, though, it hit just at the right time since Page had become less than thrilled to be pulling out wrapped children from long-ago tombs on a daily basis. It also didn't help that her boss, mentor and roommate in a housing area of fellow professionals, was also suggesting a different relationship than she cared to have...

Curiosity more than anything else brought her visiting Anatot. She was happy to visit since it was the hometown of the prophet Jeremiah and she told herself that she might as well learn about Jeremiah's home. She asked a local merchant for a tour and he quickly indicated he would show her Jeremiah's tomb. But when she saw the tomb, which appeared to be early Muslim, her own knowledge told her that she was not visiting the tomb of the great prophet.

But then Ibrahim saw her and immediately assumed she was there to visit them--how could she not go with him? When she was inside their home, though, she immediately began to question their sanity, for he has drilled a hole right between the couch and the television! How quickly could she leave!

She is invited to dinner and Naima shows her to the bathroom to freshen up. But there Page encounters a figure, standing behind her, but when she turns, there is nobody there. She quickly is on her way to the front door, but encounters Walid, their nephew who has already started to remove the tarp in the living room. Page is hooked!

I do not in any way want to spoil the story of what happened after that! Only to say that I wish the story was at least based upon a real archaeological site, because what is found is beautifully described and would be a marvelous discovery! I will say, though, that a scroll of Anatiya is one of the archival documents discovered. Of course, the author is responsible for the writing--such poetic beauty! Assumed verses of the scroll, written in the language of many of the Old Testament books:

"It is an appalling...thing to be an ancient scroll, filled with stories and secrets... in an earthen jar...where no one can touch you or know you."

Jealousy, fear...and love waits for Page to encounter as she excavates beneath a home that is known for being haunted by ghost lovers! Meet Anatiya...and a side of Jeremiah you have never heard about in Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein. It is a book that you will remember for learning the secrets in that earthen jar.

Although based upon some religion history, this is an adventure into an alternative historical mystery you shouldn't miss! I loved every page of this book!

G. A. Bixler

Monday, August 10, 2009

Review: Rome Sims - An Adventure in Scientific Discovery!

Inside Awake
Rome Sims
Eloquent Books
ISBN: 9781606939123
161 Pages

Starting with an enticingly beautiful cover depicting an underwater scene, a futuristic ship, and a strange statue, I moved quickly to start reading Inside Awake by Rome Sims.

Near Lake Eyasi, Tanzania, a group of scientists noticed a bright light, but they were just there to collect random blood samples from migratory birds. Then members of the Mamoya clan also saw the pulsating radiant orb. Hunters, animals and the scientists perished as they stood watching it rotate. They had instantaneously died from extreme thermal shock.

Readers meet Dr. David Woodall in a Particle Physics Complex in Switzerland where he is so deeply involved with the "mysterious artifact," which is 13% beryllium, 2% niobium and 85% unknown, he pays no attention to anything else, including his boss who is pressing for quick information!

But, when Geri calls, he finds time to talk...

The major action and adventure is taking place in the Indian Ocean Sunda Trench where Dr. Sharon Geraldo (Geri) and her team are on an oceanographic survey expedition. The research vessel had passed across the Malacca Strait when Dr. Geraldo spotted a huge statue. It had taken eleven years and a billion dollars to build the USS Argo and it was packed with any innovative technology available. And this trip would allow the team to use them fully!

At the same time in Polanco, Uruguay, paleontologists had found a remarkably preserved skeleton of a forty-foot beast as a result of a flash flood. But they also found a grey octagonal-shaped box with strange symbols that resembled hieroglyphs.

While in Antarctica, a giant circle, slightly raised off the ground had appeared since the last site visit two days ago... But one of these scientific explorations has led to the biggest mystery of all. Dr. Geraldo and her entire team has disappeared! At least, they aren't where they landed underwater, in the same year!

The Commission has collected artifacts and relics for centuries--but a woman known only as Madam is now in charge and their activities have become much more dangerous...

The trips to these sites, such as Tanzania and Antartica are wonderfully detailed so that you enjoy the trip as if you were the scientists making these discoveries. Brilliantly detailed, readers are caught up into these individual mystery discoveries. In fact, readers become so involved that they want more...

And that just might be the only shortfall of Inside Awake by Rome Sims. As with many other serial stories, readers are left hanging, maybe even more so in this book because of the various locations and artifacts, which are involved, and being investigated. I would have preferred to have both books and spent the weekend in this adventure...So, Mr. Sims, burn some midnight oil to get The Commission to us quickly! I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Madam!

G. A. Bixler

Interview with Rome Sims - Author of Inside Awake

Rome, thank you for sharing a little with Book Reader's Heaven today! Where are you from?

I'm a current resident of San Diego California, but I'm from Racine, Wisconsin and grew up later in the metropolitan area of St. Paul/Minneapolis Minnesota.

So, when did you start writing?

I began writing at a very young age in Racine. My mother often scolded me for composing adventurous tales past bedtime, and frequently found me beneath a blanket with pencil, paper and flashlight, writing wondrous fiction well into the night. Back then, it was a means of escape. Those stories took me to far away places, from the chaos of a fairly large and somewhat typical dysfunctional family.

I suppose that’s how and when I developed my vivid imagination. Sometimes, I’d wish that I were riding into battle with the knights of King Arthur’s Roundtable or looking for fossils on a dark and cold Saturn moon. It was moments like those, when I was alone, that really defined me. I became very curious about the world, and consequently, extremely interested in all aspects of the natural and applied sciences. As a kid, I read any and everything that I could get my hands on regarding subject matters pertaining to anthropology to biology to physics.

Well, your book, Inside Awake, surely reflects all of that reading--it's a wonder you haven't written your first novel earlier! But perhaps your interest in science took on a life of its own?

I remember once while in my mother’s kitchen, using her pots and pans to mix spices, grass, broken sticks, crushed glass and dirt, trying to cook up a cure for every disease imaginable. And although that moment has long since past, every so often, I can still feel the sting of that admittedly justifiable paddling.

Hmmm, I think that would have stifled my "work" a little too! So when did you get serious about writing?

My first attempt at serious writing came when I asked and got permission to start a school newspaper while in 6th grade at Lincoln Elementary School. I recruited a couple of other students as reporters, and with the assistance of my teacher, Mr. Griffith as the editor/overseer, the two pages of the Lincoln Press was born. I don’t think I was really interested in journalism, but I learned the art of objectivity which further improved my skills, and I was able to write something other people would read.

And regarding your comment about writing my book earlier? Now you would think, a kid with a slightly above average IQ, rich imagination, and a natural writer (for the craft, for me, is as innate as speech)…surely, the road to success would be already paved with glittering stones of success…but au contraire. And it’s not to say that I haven’t had some success in the business world, for I’ve had a fair share. However, what I fail to realize, until later in life, is that sometimes for most of us, the past is difficult to escape, and sometimes for an unfortunate few, it won’t let you escape.

We are all inherently born with an inner voice whose sole purpose is to guide us safely on our journey through life so that we may be humane and fruitful. However, when traumatized, the human spirit manifests itself as a dark cloud of distrust and emotional seclusion. The condition eats away at the soul, consuming character, strength and will, eventually becoming comfortable like old leather. Our inner voice, that which guided us, becomes as distant as the sun.

I’d like for you to read a quote I penned, when one day while contemplating…well….me, I had a brief moment of undeniable clarity.

"Everyone is running from something. But if we’re lucky, really lucky, fate intervenes and presents an opportunity to conquer our fears. Only then, if triumphant, can a destiny bestowed become a destiny fulfilled."

Sad to say that in today's world that may be true; but, on the other hand, I think destiny is sometimes disguised... Sometimes the past may be rekindled, because that adventure that you dreamed about as a child is certainly in your book!

Well, I write as a means of discovery, and to share in that journey. And I can guarantee two things you will discover from reading my novels; my books will always be entertaining, and the characters will teach you something about yourself as they have taught me. Because when it really comes down to it, inside, I am like you, and you, like me.

Ahhh, but there is also complementary people...people like you, the writers. People like me, the readers! Yes, we may be alike, but you just may find that your new fans will fulfill and create a destiny that you never had even thought would be!

Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us today, Rome! Best wishes in your writing on the followup book to Inside Awake--The Commission!

Visit Tasmania With An Excerpt from Clampitt's Waltzing Australia

Bennett's Wallaby, Tasmania:
It is spring, so most of the females have joeys in their pouches. We offered them bread, lettuce, and apples, and they gently placed forepaws on our arms to steady themselves as they ate out of our hands. They would occasionally place their paws on our knees and lean across our laps to see what another wallaby was eating. They watched everything we did, followed us around, let us stroke their incredibly soft fur, and generally behaved like the family pet. (And these are non-captive animals—this is a national park, not an animal reserve.)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Writers/Authors - FYI I Didn't Know Fall Was a Good Time to Submit, Did You?


Get In The Race!
Legends of the Fall Rush

Call For Submissions—August 13 & 14:

Dear Glenda, Have you heard the rumors that the publishing industry steps up its game come the fall? That the best time to get published is in the autumn?Well, it's true! The publishing industry is gearing up for the impending fall rush. When summer ends, editors at publishing houses and literary magazines fling open their doors to welcome quality submissions. And literary agents are scouting for the next big blockbuster while submitting their summer acquisitions.
Ready, Set, GO!

Our Review Board will be reading August 13 and 14. Want to take advantage of the fall frenzy? See our submission guidelines.Online submissions encouraged!

The whole industry goes into a frenzy during the fall. And the best part is that YOU can benefit from the momentum by sending your work to us for consideration ASAP.We can make sure your writing gets to the right people at the right time—giving you the edge you need to take advantage of the fall rush. The more submissions you can make before the end of the year, the better!Call For SubmissionsOur Review Board will be reading on August 13 and 14 only. If you would like us to take the frustration out of your submission process AND increase your chances of getting more acceptances, NOW is the best time to get your work circulating more widely.We’ve made it simple for you to send us your work via our easy online form. So do it today, while you’re thinking about it. The publishing industry is at its hottest as the fall weather begins to cool. Give yourself the advantage you deserve and put the cyclical momentum of the industry to good use!Be sure your work arrives in our office by August 14—that way we can be sure your writing is proofread, formatted, targeted, and prepared in time get the early bird advantage this fall.Learn more about our submission guidelines and read submission FAQS here. Great writing only gets published through great submissions strategies. So contact us today!NOTE: If you submitted work to us prior to this call for submissions, please know that your work will be reviewed during our upcoming meetings.

Calling All Tweeple, Twiterati, And Tweeps!Hey, are you on Twitter? We are too! And we’re answering your questions about writing in real time!Stop over and say hi!

Ronnie L. Smith, President

Submit Your Work To Our Review BoardFull Service clients enter by INVITATION ONLY. We are currently reading submissions in the following genres: Poetry, Short Prose, Novels, and Nonfiction Books.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES may be found at Submission Guidelines Page.E-mail queries may be sent to Please follow e-mail guidelines.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

New Book Out: Inside Awake by Rome Sims

Inside Awake
By Rome Sims
Review Coming Soon!

Inside Awake is the thrilling, debut action adventure novel by Romé Sims. Taking readers on a whirlwind tour from Tanzania, to the Indian Ocean’s Sunda Trench, to Switzerland, and beyond, this action-packed taste of Jurassic Park combined with the best of the best governmental plots, will soon be followed by the conclusion of this great adventure in The Commission!

When the United Nations discovered a tragedy of unimaginable proportions, their early investigations uncover a massive loss of life around a lake in Africa; a government satellite links the incident to a radio signal off the coast of Sumatra and a group of scientists and military personnel are enlisted to find out what happened.

Dr. Sharon Geraldo, known as Geri to her friends, leads a research vessel across the Malacca Straight off the Sumatra Island. It had taken eleven years to build the vessel and it was equipped with every possible piece of innovative technology that could be needed to complete their mission: “Inside Awake.” As Geri and her team take their first maiden voyage in the area, Geri spots a large primitive statue and what looks to be some type of structure. That will be their first site visit!

But an unexplained phenomena happens – the team disappears. Actually, they’ve been taken back in time! The excitement during this visit highlights the novel!

During this same period, scientists are being sent all over the globe to investigate disease or unknown events causing death. In Tanzania, three people were burned to death quickly, in a fraction of a second! One of those scientists called back to Manhattan, and disclosed, “Test results from Lake Eyasi indicate positive...”

David Woodall is hired by a questionable organization to find out what really happened. But he is kept away from some parts of the building and from some of the artifacts that have been brought back from various sites. When he discovers that Geri, a friend for whom he cares greatly, has disappeared, he begins to use his own methods for getting what he needs, no matter how well it is being guarded!

Sims’ riveting novel is scientifically superb in describing the land areas, the historical perspectives and the various natural habitats where the scientists travel. Like all serial stories, Sims’ Inside Awake leaves you wanting to move right into his next novel! The Commission coming soon!

ISBN: 978-1-60693-912-3
Check out Book Trailer by clicking the title of this article!

Isn't She Beautiful?! Excerpt From Waltzing Australia!

Crimson rosella sitting on my knee:

I bought some birdseed, because (I had been told) if you feed them, the parrots will come right out of the rainforest. Within seconds I was besieged by the most astonishingly beautiful birds I’ve ever seen. Brilliant red and royal blue, they’re called crimson rosellas.

As greedy as they were, they got tired of waiting for the seeds to hit the ground and started perching on my hands, arms, shoulders, head. As D.H. Lawrence noted: “That is another of the charms of Australia: the birds are not really afraid.” I was delighted. I sat on the ground and poured the rest of the seeds into my skirt, then photographed the birds as they perched on my knees, munching, and snapping and flapping their wings at newcomers. They were so beautiful, I could hardly believe it.

Excerpt from Waltzing Australia and Photo
Copyrighted Cynthia Clampitt

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Review: Great Cop Story Coming In October! Trackle It!

Rizzo’s War
Lou Manfredo
St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9780312538057
290 Pages

“There just is,” Rizzo finished telling his new partner Mike McQueen in Rizzo’s War by Lou Manfredo, coming in October 2009. Rizzo shared much of his experience with Mike, who had been promoted to Rizzo’s unit with influence from the Mayor’s Office after he had solved an important case.

Indeed, the entire book reflects the way things work in New York—negotiation and payback. You just had to watch with whom you were bargaining!

Mike starts off with a bang on his first tour with Rizzo—he falls for the victim of an assault! Of course that is a big “no,” but... Little by little Rizzo and Mike get to know the other, testing the boundaries for each other, until they mutually decide to confirm that they are willing to be partners. Then Mike begins to really see how it works!

Rizzo has been at NYPD for so many years, he’s near retirement. He knows everybody he needs to know and has given much to ensure things are done. Many “owe” him, but he doesn’t collect unless there’s an important reason.

Until the daughter of an important, influential councilman, Bill Daily, has been missing for a long enough time that the family is very worried. She is manic-depressive and has caused many problems before; however, it is now believed she is totally off her meds and they have no idea where she is, although she had recently called her mother, who had thought Carol sounded suicidal. Daily wants her found and wants the best men to work the case, full-time, and quietly!

Rizzo bargains through the details and financial benefits of taking this case. Mike then sees Rizzo go to work! Finding Carol is only half the battle though, for along the way he discovers that Carol is afraid of her father and of going into a hospital where he could have influence over her stay there.

While Mike has met with his former partner and finds that she is able to help locate Carol; she was running with a motorcycle gang, but was “lost” in a bet to another motorcycle owner!

Rizzo’s War by Lou Manfredo has been classified as a thriller. In my opinion, it is not thrilling, but a sad, perhaps too realistic commentary on the lives of our police officers and politicians. The work is hard, involves steady, long hours of seeking and searching for some small tip that will lead investigations forward. If necessary, it takes the officers into troubled neighborhoods and into potentially dangerous situations. The War is real, and sometimes deals must be made—deals that may sometimes be a little “gray” if the war is to be won...

Manfredo indeed writes in a “stunningly authentic” manner that effectively reflects his personal experience working in the Brooklyn criminal justice system. The story is slow-paced, steady...prodding toward what the best way that justice can be served without getting caught in the crossfire! Highly recommended cop novel! If you ever need a cop, call Joe Rizzo!

G. A. Bixler

Excerpt from Waltzing Australia by Cynthia Clampitt; Photo by Clampitt

Three Sisters rock formation,
Blue Mountains, NSW:

We stopped at Echo Point, a jutting ledge that affords an excellent view of the rock formation, the Three Sisters and a major portion of the Jamison Valley. The view was amazing: the forests more than 2,000 feet below, lapping at the mountains’ feet, mottled by shadows of passing clouds; sudden, vertical up-thrusts of stone, tall, pale rock walls emerging from and topped with dark, green foliage. The wind coming through the valley below sounded lonely and haunting. It was glorious.

copyright: Cynthia Clampitt

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review: Quinn Takes Leading Role in Blood Game!

Blood Game
By Iris Johansen
Johansen Publishing
ISBN: 9780312368128
338 Pages

Iris Johansen is one of my favorite authors, so I was pleased to have an opportunity to read and review Blood Game, her next Eve Duncan Forensics Thriller due out in October! We get to continue enjoying Eve’s activities, but a new exciting twist has been added and it’s a “doozy!” If you are already a Johansen fan, you should be sure to get her latest! If you are not a fan, but enjoy forensics suspense at its finest, Blood Game will ensure you immediately place Johansen on your must-read author list!

Kevin Jelak is playing a game—a Blood Game. If he drinks a sufficient amount of high-quality blood of strong women, he will become invisible, immortal and all-powerful! Jelak plans for Eve Duncan’s blood to close out the game soon! And to prepare her to look for him, he places a small gold container of blood in her home refrigerator!

Nancy Jo Norris had been just 19 when Jelak had killed her. While she had been selected quite randomly, it turned out that she was the very intelligent, strong daughter of a Senator who demanded that they put the best man on tracking her murderer. That man was Joe Quinn, Eve’s long-time friend and lover.

But Eve notices that there is something wrong—Joe is avoiding her and refuses to share that anything is wrong. He escapes from the house quickly when he is called out to go where they had found Nancy Jo. They found a small gold container of blood near her body! As Joe goes through his routine, he meets a young girl who is able to help him, explaining that Nancy Jo had been in the parking garage at the Perimeter Mall when she had been attacked! Soon he discovers that the tip is a good one and his investigation moves steadily forward. Did I mention that the young girl was Nancy’s ghost?

And then Seth Caleb arrives in town. He has learned of the gold containers; he has been searching for this monster for many years, since Jelak first killed a dearly loved relative of his. Caleb has the ability to help Joe and Eve in many ways that are not normally available. But, he is “hunting;” and Joe is not quite sure that he can agree to Caleb’s plan!

Blood Game by Iris Johansen has much more magic and mystery. It is a new and exciting expansion of the Eve Duncan series that should bring Joe Quinn into the story even more than in the past. I, for one, hope this change continues! It has the potential to lead toward many alternative paths down which this loving couple can travel. In fact, I’d also like to see Seth Caleb stay as a permanent character as well.

I’m already looking forward to Johansen’s next book. In the meantime, if you haven’t read Blood Game, get it soon for a weekend of thrilling drama!

G. A. Bixler

Monday, August 3, 2009

Review: A Circle of Souls - Psychological Suspense At Its Spookiest!

A Circle of Souls
By Preetham Grandhi
Sweetwater Books
ISBN: 9781599552354
341 Pages

Dr. Preetham Grandhi’s, A Circle of Souls, is not only a fantastic psychological suspense novel, it’s sp-ooooo-ky! I loved it!

Janet was walking home from school, worrying about the fifth-grade math test she had taken that day when she decided to take a different route, through private property. When she reached Willow Lake and started to pass the old red boathouse, she heard a noise and was concerned that somebody might need help. She went to investigate, and was never seen again.

At least by anybody other than seven-year-old Naya...

Naya had been taken to the hospital after she had been found sleepwalking by her adoptive parents and they realized that she had placed herself in danger. Dr. Peter Gram, a psychiatrist at Newbury Hospital was immediately drawn to Naya and became personally involved in helping her. Fortunately, Naya felt comfortable with him and was quite willing to share drawings of the dreams that were disturbing her sleep. One picture was of a young blond girl who was lying on the ground near a large rock.

Peter had lived in Connecticut, around this area all of his life; and he immediately recognized the rock! But he felt he had to make sure so he drove to the site and climbed to the top of the rock as he had done in his youth and was certain this was the place in Naya’s picture, though he knew she couldn’t have been there. Next he went to check out the location of where the little girl had been placed. And soon found himself in handcuffs!

Leia Bines, an FBI agent expert in cases involving children, was fairly certain this man was not the one who had killed Janet, but she was taking no chances, at least until one of the local officers joined her and identified Dr. Gram. Hhe explained why he was there, although they were not inclined to believe that a little girl had somehow psychically envisioned the location where Janet had been found.

With no other leads, Leia Bines has no choice but to take Dr. Gram’s help! As each picture involved Janet, Dr. Gram seeks out Naya’s Indian family, trying to find out more about her medical background, hoping to discover what was causing her sleep disturbance. When Peter met with Mr. Iyengar, Naya’s uncle, he learned that her mother had been a “Seeked One” and apparently so was Naya...

But then there came a night that Naya’s dream was of herself, and she hadn’t had time to show her new picture to Dr. Gram. Naya had disappeared!

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi is a beautifully written walk into a mystical world of suspense. Readers are caught with clues that could mean this one, or that one, but are not really sure until the very end. At the same time, the loving way in which Grandhi writes and talks about the children in the psychiatric unit reveals his own personal commitment to his New York patients. Much applause for his novel and his work! I’ll be trackling Preetham Grandhi, hoping he has another novel coming soon!

G. A. Bixler