Saturday, October 31, 2009

Review: Financial Headlines Explored in Drama

Men of Gain
By Hunter McClelland
Strategic Book Publishing
ISBN: 9781608600687
106 Pages

No one was complaining as long as business was good; everyone was making money.” (p.41)

Enter into the life style of the rich in Men of Gain by Hunter McClelland. Evan and Jennifer own a “magnificent Tudor house,” own expensive cars, share in family activities on their boat. Life is good.

Until Evan, Manager of the Venable Hedge Fund took more risks than he should have for one of his most important financial deals—involving $19B.

In a modern somewhat novella format, the first half of the book covers the typical activities in the Tipton family. Evan, of course, spends most of his time working or talking on the phone about potential work or emergencies. Jennifer, of course, is a homemaker, taking care of the children and enjoying various leisure activities. Jennifer is considered an outsider, not coming from another rich family, and there is a certain realism to her that in many ways carries the story.

As questions arise, concern is expressed, and problems are expected, it happens during a planned weekend with the family to go out on their boat. Everybody notices that Evan is frustrated and wishes he could have gone to work instead. When his father takes his cell phone away and starts talking, Evan shares some of his concerns, only to have his father clearly let him know that everything he ever did was always morally correct.

Evan felt that times had changed; more was expected these days. Chances had to be taken in order to make the expected bonuses that could run into millions!

Returning to the office after his short time away immediately became a nightmare as he was arrested, charged with malpractice, fraud, and misallocation of funds, and suspended from work, pending an investigation by the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission.

He also met with his company’s legal representatives, who were supposed to represent him; however, he soon began to wonder if that were true, especially when the lead female lawyer, sexually propositioned him!

Hunter McClelland provides an imaginary intimate look into the family of those Men of Gain in today’s financial world where the “bottom line” is the one and only true goal for those working there. Competition, betrayal, risk-taking are expected; finger-pointing the final outcome. Is it worth it?

Recommended for those who are looking for the answer. A final note of interest, this book is “dedicated to honest, hardworking people everywhere.”

G. A. Bixler

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seeking & Responding to Literary Criticism - Discussion Led by Carol Cassella

Carol Cassella, Author of Oxygen, Published by Simon & Schuster, will be discussing "Seeking and Responding to Literary Criticism" on the Discussion Board, at Facebook's Reviewers Roundup Group Friday, October 30th from 11:00 to 1:00 EST. Click the title of this article to proceed to the Discussion Board!

This event will be held on the Reviewers Roundup Discussion Board in order to Save the Information for the Future! Please join the group before then so that you can fully share and post to talk with Carol.

Carol Cassella will share with us on seeking and responding to literary criticism. Carol is the first-time author of Oxygen, published in June by Simon & Schuster. An interview between Carol and Glenda has been posted as a separate board addition so it is available for review prior to Friday. Also posted is Glenda's review of Oxygen.

Here's a few words from Carol to start you thinking:

"...most fascinating to me is the sense I am getting that readers are sometimes reluctant to write freely, telling me whatever they think. OK, I can sort of get that, because I go all sweaty-palmed and short-of-breath when I get to meet an author I admire. But here’s the thing: without readers there would be no books—or at least no published books. The reader is the client, and I am the service provider. That’s not to say I can take every criticism to heart. However..."

Don't forget to join RR group in order to post and to refresh the page to keep up with the discussion!

If you are not available at the specific time, feel free to add questions in advance or after the event and we'll make sure Carol has the opportunity to respond! In fact, I've already posted some questions!

Brought to you by Reviewers Roundup THIS FRIDAY!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review: Bailey Ruth Raeburn, Ghost Extraordinaire Back in Latest Hart Novel!

Merry, Merry Ghost
By Carolyn Hart
Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780060874377
282 Pages

Bailey Ruth is Back!

What a wonderful surprise to see that Carolyn Hart’s Merry, Merry Ghost will be available for a new Christmas cozy mystery to enjoy or give as a gift! Her first in this series, Ghost at Work was wonderful. Merry Merry Ghost is better!

Always fearful that she will not be sent back to earth for another assignment since she tends to bend the rules a bit, Bailey Ruth decides to approach Wiggins, who runs the Department of Good Intentions, and just ask for another! Envisioning her wardrobe carefully, to look subdued and reserved, she visits Wiggins at just the right time...

Susan, a woman from Bailey Ruth’s hometown is “scheduled” to join them in June and several things have occurred that Wiggins feels must be monitored closely. One is that the child of Susan’s son, Mitch, has been left on the doorstep. Mitch had been killed in the Service and his wife had just died, so a friend had brought Keith to his grandmother. Fortunately, Bailey Ruth could be seen by Keith, who was four, and she greeted him and assured him that she would be with him and help take care of him.

The Pritchard’s were a rich and prominent family who did much to help the community, but Susan Flynn had been the last of the family until Keith came. As you might guess, this immediately affected Susan’s life. Even though she was very ill, Keith had brought to her a new joy and desire to live. Still, she also knew that, once it had been verified that Keith was indeed a Pritchard, that she must change her Will to ensure his relationship was acknowledged.

Those who had been in line for inheritance had been with Susan for years, but all were from the Flynn family, with no blood relationship. Obviously, they were upset, and one of them made sure she didn’t live to change her plans!

Ah, you say, yes, a typical story. But not with Bailey Ruth on the job!

Her activities bring nothing but fun, joy, and love to the situation. Bailey Ruth is a wonderful character. I love how she takes advantage of being on earth to create the best outfit for the time, and magically snap it onto her materialized body. Surely when she was alive she must have been one of the best-dressed women in town or now she is wearing the minks and great clothes she didn’t have in the past. And then there are her many decisions as to how she can accomplish what needs to be done, without breaking one of those heavenly rules! In this novel she is there at Christmas and thinks nothing about breaking out in a song or two, appearing for a party, or just enjoying being back on earth to “pop in” and see her children for just a minute!

But the ways she helped to solve her assignment are wonderfully humorous as she tries to help the police and not “appear” as the Merry, Merry Ghost! Carolyn Hart has created another winner for new readers or those following the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series. This is only the second novel, but let’s hope she stays around for a long time! Such Fun!

G. A. Bixler

Friday, October 23, 2009

Reviewers Roundup Hosting Pat Bertram, The Book Marketing Floozy!

Book Marketing Floozy
Pat Bertram
Shares Re Book Blog Tours,
Writing, and her books
Click on title to go to site!
Saturday, 3-5:00 PM EST
Brought to Your by Reviewers Roundup
Here's a little from Pat in advance!
My latest novel, Daughter Am I, is the story of a mythic journey -- a quest -- though the characters who help and hinder the hero are not wizards and warlocks but aged gangsters. To promote the book, I’ve embarked on my own quest. A blog tour. There is much ahead of me in this cyber quest — tests, meeting allies and enemies (enemies don’t have to be human — they can be missed deadlines, lack of energy, blank mind, all the various ways life has of thwarting us). This quest in itself will be a supreme ordeal — 70 blog posts in 35 days? Yikes! I’m sure there will be plenty of other ordeals before I can reap my reward. You can find my blog tour schedule here:
One of the problems I’m discovering is that everything takes longer than I think it should. I had hoped to be further along in my preparations for the Daughter Am I blog tour, but . . . yep, everything takes longer than the time I’ve allotted. I worked on an interview last night, which should have been easy. Ten questions about my books. That was it. Yet it took me three hours.
Glenda Bixler invited me here today for a live chat about blog tours, my books, and anything else you care to discuss. I’ll try to answer any questions you have and will accept any suggestions.
The live chat will be from 3:00pm ET to 5:00pm ET on Saturday, October 24, 2009. I hope you will join us! It will be fun!
Come Join Us!

Review: Second in Trilogy Tragic And Thrilling!

Oracle’s Legacy:
Shadows of Fate
By R. B. Holbrook
ISBN: 9780557095889
478 Pages

“...perfection is fruitless...wake your eyes to mistakes, for they are catalysts of great knowledge, opening many roads that perfection can’t offer.” –1st Oracle

Yes, you could read R. B. Holbrook’s second book, Shadows of Fate, in the Oracles’s Legacy Trilogy as a stand-alone novel. After all, it’s nearly 500 pages of action-packed supernatural adventure! But why would you want to? Check out my review of the first in the Trilogy, Children of Sun, and begin right from the beginning! I know you will be glad you did! Remember to use the Glossary to understand the civilization into which you will enter for this short time.

Bones, a young boy, was the reason Ollie had died. She allowed her energy to be transferred, much as you would blood, to keep him alive. She knew that Bones had a special role to play in the future!

Ollie had been brought back to life when she had died as a small child. Jamili, her father had used his energy at that time. This time, however, she had been dead for four days and the House of Moon being known as Demon’s Wrath had pulled her back from death. He wanted her as his own and for many reasons.

But first he had to break her to his will...

Violence was part of those in the Structure, but readers should be aware that what happens to Ollie will be difficult to read. This book has violent content and parental guidance should be used. But if you enjoy following the lives of powerful, fascinating, sexy women, picture one who has the capability to use energy as a tool and the guts to use it, and you’ll know that Ollie fought to give as good as she received, considering the torture she was forced to bear! No matter how much, each of her brothers and sisters were experiencing problems resulting from Ollie no longer being there to support them.

Few in Ollie’s family knew that she was alive. But many of them, especially Vlad who was able to track her bloodline and Cee who was a healer, began to have dreams and/or could feel her energy, each feeling that they were only suffering from their personal loss. And in the Moon complex where she was held captive, only one woman, a healer, was assigned to help her through her days of beatings and resulting anger and pain.

Ollie’s twin brother had changed the most since her death. Mainly he had also learned what his future role would be. Now, as Ollie strives to regain her strength and escape, the rest of her family and loved ones were also looking toward a dangerous future that was being foretold.

But none of them knew at that time that the danger would be Ollie...

Science Fiction? Yes but once you enter the Structure you will become spellbound, flinching when beams of energy are used, waiting breathlessly while buildings crash down, trees are uprooted and thrown as spears, walls are destroyed and one member of the Structure strikes down another and another!

For imaginative genius, I’ve not read anything like Oracle’s Legacy: Shadows of Fate by R. B. Holbrook!

G. A. Bixler

Review: Enter This Surreality Only If You Dare!

Oracle’s Legacy:
Children of Sun
By R. B. Holbrook
ISBN: 9780557112883
310 Pages

It takes awhile to create the story of a civilization that exists alongside humans, without their having any knowledge of those within its “Structure.” That said, as you begin to read the science fiction trilogy, Oracle’s Legacy, by R. B. Holbrook, take the extra time to read or refer to the Glossary at the front of the book and get to know a little about this civilization. Once you have a fairly basic understanding... start reading and enjoy!

First in the trilogy is Oracle’s Legacy: Children of Sun. The Oracle, who is the leader and most powerful of the structure is of the House of Sun. She is very old and close to death. Already, there are those from other Houses who are gearing up for proposing that the next Oracle be selected from their respective House! An election? Well, not quite. Many of those proposed will be assassinated before they have a chance to be selected!

The structure is made up of seven houses that seek enlightenment by attempting to understand the nature of energy. The type of energy that it uses characterizes each of the houses. For example, the House of Blade embodies physical energy and uses much of it for military purposes, while the House of Stone embodies environmental energy. Many of Stone are engineers, architects or those who work in agriculture.

Although there are only 8 million people in the Structure living amongst the billions of humans, each one is born with certain gifts—gifts that allow them to use or manipulate energy in some particular way and identifies their respective house. Each of the entities strive to reach various levels of enlightenment which requires understanding the balance between all things and how they are connected. As each individual matures, they develop what is called a “seal” that expands across their skin surface, which reveals the type of power they use.

Ollie is the first main character readers will meet. She works under Geo, the oldest brother of a family of the House of Sun. Many have been brought into the home and they become family; specifically they are under the protection of the family and call the head of the home Mama. Many of the children there have the same father, but not all children are of the House of Sun.

Ollie was brought into the home to save her life. In fact, she had died from the abuse she suffered as a child, but was brought back to life. Her twin brother Ellis was traumatized by having Ollie chosen by a sexual predator and now is totally devoted to protecting his sister as much as she is willing to allow. For Ollie has developed into a much-feared, but much-loved woman (depending upon whether she’s protecting you or hunting you)!

This review provides an overview of the book; however, once you are into the story, the characters are wonderfully unique and full of surprises to delight readers. Imagine telepathy, extraordinary brilliance, telekinetics, those who can heal using energy, those who can see in the past, present or future.

Then consider the range of actions that could occur as these supernatural individuals strive to win the top position when a new oracle is named! Exciting action like none other awaits you in R. B. Holbrook’s Oracle’s Legacy: Children of Sun! Enter this surreality, only if you dare! If you love Science Fiction, this just may be a must-read for you!

G. A. Bixler

Review: Novel Highlights Account of U.S. Intervention into War For Oil--100 Years Ago!

The Creed of Violence
By Boston Teran
Counterpoint Press
ISBN: 9781582435251
245 Pages

I love unusual and The Creed of Violence by Boston Teran is unusual for various reasons. One is that the two main characters are father and son; however, the father does not know that the younger man is his son until close to the end of the book. The author emphasizes the relationship over and over by often eliminating the use of their names, choosing instead to refer to them as “the father” or “the son.” For this reader, it forced me to look more closely at their dialogue and actions and to carefully examine the interrelationship shifts and changes. A truly unique experience that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Another unusual thing was that Teran wrote in a foreword statement that he would leave it to the reader’s judgment whether our present political and military situation parallels the world upon which his novel was built. Doing this, of course, also forces the reader to verify or deny those parallels. Even before I started to read, I was sure there would be!

Rawbone was born in Scabtown and raised in a brothel. He was not yet 10 when he killed his first man. His son considered him a common assassin.

His son thought he hated him because he had left he and his mother. Perhaps, though, he had grown stronger because of his father—because John Lourdes was a respected officer of the Bureau of Investigation. And he wanted to be the cause of his father’s death...

Now he had his chance. In his latest escapade Rawbone had killed all of the men who were driving a large truck—full of guns and ammunition. Rawbone had planned on selling the load to the highest bidder, checking in with his lawyer as to how that could be best accomplished. He sent him to Juarez to meet with “very private people.”

John Lourdes was already working in that area. So was his boss, Justice Knox, who was at the right place at the right time to capture Rawbone. In fact, his son was one of the agents who now had him under arrest. But then, Rawbone had something to trade...

It made John sick to think that his father could earn immunity. What was worse, because he was the only agent who was bilingual, John was going to have to travel with Rawbone as he “worked off” his end of the deal. They would travel across the border, where John would have no authority; Rawbone could escape or kill him and nobody could prevent it! The only hold over him would be that John would have Knox’s direct order to kill him if he posed any type of threat. Father and Son both had reason to protect each other—or to kill the other!

And they were heading deep into Mexican oil country--where representatives of American oil companies and governmental officials were meeting to increase bottom line profits--with oil, it’s always the bottom line...

Boston Teran’s The Creed of Violence is a tour into the deadly violence that erupts when power and money drive the actions of men, while others starve and barely make a living. With high tension between father and son while the action is sometimes slow-paced, it challenges readers to study the love/hate relationship as it evolves between the two men, as they fight to save their lives!

This tale will live with me--and maybe you--for a long time! Highly recommended!

G. A. Bixler

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Little More From Carol Cassella! Talk One-to-One on Facebook!

Who were the people or person that inspired you to write?

I could name many people who inspired me—excellent teachers of English literature from grade school through college, my parents, teachers of the many writing classes I’ve taken as an adult. But clearly the biggest inspiration has come from the authors of all the books I’ve lost myself in over the course of my life. The ability to build an entire world through written words still feels miraculous to me. Every time I read a good book I am inspired to try again.

How many different drafts of a manuscript do you go through before you publish?

Infinite! At least that is the word that jumps into my mind. The first draft is so weak it’s really just a sketch of where I’m trying to go. From there it’s a matter of battling my own disappointment about what I’ve put onto the page—kneading it, cutting it, shaping it until it begins to come close to what I want to say. I build a book in layers, many of which I don’t begin to understand until the third or fourth draft. My current book is labeled ‘Eight draft,” and it isn’t done.

I've heard authors say that sometimes the characters take over...Sounds like you've kept control! LOL What has been your favorite story/subject that you have written about and why?

Well, that’s pretty easy since I only have one finished novel, OXYGEN. It’s about my work as an anesthesiologist. I loved writing about something that is so important to me, and so difficult to explain clearly. Our job in the operating room is often misunderstood. Science has always fascinated me, and I love the challenge of translating it to non-scientists, helping people appreciate how universal it is—a truth that exists in every language and culture, facts we’ve discovered and mysteries we haven’t yet explained. I honestly believe science has the power to solve so many of the problems we are facing today. The novel also centered around family and our relationships—another topic close to my heart!

I know that I was surprised when it was the anesthesiologist that was the physician that was "at fault" in your book. Normally we all think of the surgeon! Reading novels such as OXYGEN gives each of us an opportunity to learn important info through a fun way; that's what makes fiction so enjoyable for me at this time in my life!

What kind of environment do you prefer when you’re writing?

I like my quiet little office looking out over the water. I can edit in a café or on my ferry-boat commute, but to get the first words onto a blank page I really like solitude and lots of natural light.

That's probably pretty hard for you to do with the family right outside your door! I'm glad they are an understanding supportive group!

So, what tips do you have for aspiring writers?

Don’t give up!! Decide if you can be happy reading other people’s books and stories, or if you need to create your own. You’ll know—if you can envision going peacefully to your grave without writing, maybe you can give it up and spend your days happily reading. More power to you! Writing is hard work. But if you know you will be clawing to get at a pen when they are carrying you away, then you must write. Don’t succumb to the myths that it should come easily if you have talent, or that you’ll always feel inspired. How many pianists can play without hours of difficult practice? But the pleasure that comes from rereading a paragraph once you finally have it right can make it all worthwhile.

Chat With Carol on October 30th from 11 to 1:00 on Facebook...
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Reviewers Roundup

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moi Receives Kudos! How Cool Is That?!

Branden Publishing Company will be having a 100 year birthday soon. They publish mostly nonfiction. Adolfo and I met at the Chicago Book Show many years ago and he sent me a copy of his own book. I reviewed it and, since then, he has asked me to review many books published by him...

Soooooo, it was especially nice to receive the following in my Facebook Inbox! How Wonderful a Day is when somebody shares their appreciation!

Adolfo Caso October 17 at 9:14am

For several years, I have read Glenda's reviews on books which I have edited and written. It is hard to imagine how a person like Glenda is able to make her assessments on the worthiness of books and how capable she is in describing her assessments so that new readers are able to gain more information and greater enjoyment from their readings. Glenda is a senior reviewer.


Latest Poetry from Thomas Kemp - Author of Your Poet Is

In my mind I would always see her curls as pine cones,
Hanging or falling down from the side of her skull.
What you ask, do I mean?
As a child she wanted to be known as a trouble maker,
And Irish kid with mossy green eyes.
Like someone who is always out front
and hounding the neighbor boys.
If it were not for her Dad…Bruno
The boys would have won.
But, he saw to it that she could
handle herself playing baseball,
kickball or in the woods,
hunting butterflies and birds...
listening to the blarney
she heard
from the lips of faithless men.
So, you think she was a tomboy, no I do not agree…
She was a tom tom boy in a girl’s pretty Sunday school dress,
With pine cones for curls hanging about her head...

Thomas kemp/poet

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Now Reading the Oracles Legacy: Book 2 in Trilogy!

R.B. Holbrook Unearths Volume II of Sci-Fi Trilogy —

Oracle’s Legacy: Shadows of Fate

North Carolina author R.B. Holbrook announced the forthcoming release of SHADOWS OF FATE Volume II of the epic ORACLE’S LEGACY, the author’s first venture into pure and imaginative science fiction. The book will be released on October 26, 2009. Pre-orders are available on the author’s Web site

Garner, NC, September 22, 2009 — ORACLE’S LEGACY is an inventive story about a secret civilization known as ‘The Structure’, which was formed in approximately 6000 BC in order to create its own tiered system of enlightenment for its inhabitants that live alongside humans.

The Structure’s society is comprised of seven Houses that chase after enlightenment by achieving various levels of growth in a disclosed attempt to understand the nature of energy in modern day times. Unique tattoo-like ‘energy seals’ display each level as citizens face life challenges, battles, death and re-embodiment.

ORACLE’S LEGACY: SHADOWS OF FATE Volume II rewards sci-fi fans with the continuation of the action-packed journey of The Structure’s civilization and the return of Ollie, who died due to her corrupt seal in CHILDREN OF SUN Volume I. She is revived only to wake up blind and in pain inside a facility of House Moon, the outcast House. Ollie struggles to find her purpose and the nature of her chaotic power.

Holbrook often reveals Creed to Oracle Bethea and other family members as a ‘mental influence’ who can see past, present and future simultaneously. Creed mentally visits Bethea and warns of the coming destruction to the Structure, and it is revealed that it will be solely up to Ollie to save or destroy it. Ollie suffers Demon’s Wrath’s constant torture and tries her best to fight back, but her powers haven’t fully returned since her death.

“Holbrook has created a memorable character in Ollie,” said ForeWord Magazine. “She’s a beautiful, opinionated, foul-mouthed, humorous, family-loving killer whose mother tells her, you have power—power people fear—power that can harm others if not used appropriately, so you must show restraint.”

Holbrook is confident that readers will be entertained and kept on the edge of their seats as the plot continues to unfold in ORACLE’S LEGACY: SHADOWS OF FATE Volume II and in the last Volume of her science fiction trilogy, which will culminate the story in a dramatic and effective way later this year.

Visit Web site, Author R.B. Holbrook resides in North Carolina and after earning her Master’s Degree, she pursued a career in writing. ORACLE’S LEGACY is her first science fiction trilogy.

Book Info:
TITLE: Oracle’s Legacy: Shadows of Fate Volume II
(Oracle’s Legacy: Children of Sun Volume I - released)
ISBN: 978-0-557-09588-9
Publication Date: October 26, 2009
Pages: 496
Suggested Retail Price: $25.50

Pre-order ORACLE’S LEGACY: SHADOWS OF FATE VOLUME II at R.B. Holbrook’s Web site, The book will be released on October 26, 2009.

Lacewing Communications
Katherine Brungs

# # #
To schedule an interview with the author, please contact Katherine Brungs of Lacewing Communications by e-mail: or visit Greater Cincinnati-based Lacewing Communications LLC is a full service marketing firm, which provides authors, publishers and other industries branding, marketing, Web site and PR management. The views and opinions expressed in this press release do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Lacewing Communications or its affiliates.

I've just finished Oracle's Legacy: Children of Sun! I recommend you get this one first if you haven't already read it! Too good not to plan for the whole Trilogy.
Starting 2nd book today! Reviews Soon!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Review: Terri Blackstock Writes Thriller on Intervention!

By Terri Blackstock
324 Pages

Be prepared for Intervention! If you do not like to read true-to-life fiction, this book may be too realistic for you! But you will be missing, in my opinion, the best novel yet written by Terri Blackstock with her "Up All Night Fiction"!

Emily Covington is an 18-year-old drug addict. Her father died from cancer several years ago. They had been very close. Her mother, Barbara, had nursed her father during his long illness and now had to work even harder to provide an income for Emily and her brother Lance.

Barbara was always under a cloud of guilt for not being able to be with her children more and so when she tried to talk to Emily about the life-threatening decisions she was making, Emily knew to use that guilt to get her own way. Knowing this, Barbara felt that an outside individual might be more able to help. With the support and agreement of Lance, who was just 14, Barbara scheduled an Intervention.

When Trish Massey arrived, Barbara was concerned. She was a small woman, smoking a cigarette and drinking a caffeine-laden energy drink. Would she be able to handle Emily and get her back to the recovery center? By the time they were home and Trish had spent some private time with Emily, however, Emily had reluctantly agreed to go for the treatment.

Arriving in Atlanta, Emily used Trish's cell phone to call her mother and begged to allow her to come home. Refusing, Barbara then talked to Trish. That was the last time Barbara had talked to her daughter.

For Trish had been murdered in the airport-parking garage! Emily was seen on the security cameras running away from the car and getting into a large black sedan. And the police were looking for Emily for the murder!

Barbara dropped everything, including the work necessary to be awarded the chance to redecorate the Governor's mansion and keep her company solvent, and flew to Atlanta. After much begging, she took Lance with her and together they started their own investigation into what had happened to Emily. The difference for them was that they just wanted to find her!

But for Detective Kent Harlan, he was still naming her as the lead suspect for the murder of Trish. That is, until he met Barbara and Lance and listened to them talk about Emily. And began to piece together other clues that indicated that Emily could have actually been running away from Trish's car, in fear of her life!

A touch of romance as Kent takes a personal interest in helping Barbara find her daughter adds to the tense drama as it is discovered that Emily had definitely been kidnapped, the only lead being a text message, mom help me.

Blackstock is one of my favorite authors. You may find after reading Intervention, she'll be added to your must-read author list! Definitely 5+!

G. A. Bixler


Friday, October 16, 2009

The Writer's Psalm 23 by Guest Blogger Katherine Swarts


The Lord is my Editor; I shall not want for inspiration.
He makes fresh ideas take root in my mind like green grass,
He leads my thoughts in steadfast channels,
He refreshes my writer’s voice.
He guides my words to speak truth and righteousness
For the glory of His Name.
Even when I stall in the mental pit of writer’s block,
I will not fear failure,
For You are with me;
Your Word and Your Spirit,
They instruct me.
You prepare great works for me to write
In the face of opposition.
You anoint my mind with Your creative energy;
My idea pool overflows.
Surely Your goodness and love will stay with me
All the days of my work,
And I will write the praises of Your Name
To the end of my time on earth.

Copyright Katherine Swarts
Katherine is a B2B newsletter and blog writer at
Spread the Word Commercial Writing.”

Click on Article Title to Visit Her Blog
New Songs From the Heart!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guest Blogger Katherine Swarts Shares "What Makes a Real Writer?"


Bring up the subject of writing at any large social gathering, and, sure as death and taxes, someone will pipe up with a reason why he or she always wanted to be an author but can’t:

· “I have a great idea for a novel, but I just don’t have time to write it.”
· “People say I have talent, but I never can think of anything to write about.”
· “I have writer’s block.”
· “I have to wait for inspiration.”
· “I’ve tried, but only the big names get published anymore.”

More often than not, these “reasons” are really excuses for being lazy, prideful, afraid to risk failure, or afraid of what might come with success. People who really want to write make time for it. Writers who are willing to succeed work hard at learning how to do it.

Then there are those who lie around dreaming of the day they’ll dash off some great work straight out of their heads, drop it in the mail to an editor, and rest in luxury the rest of their lives as the royalties pour in. These people are setting themselves up for a dark future once they finally do get around to dashing something off, see their expectations of instant and easy success fall flat, and sink into bitterness because “no one will give me a break.” Rarely do they consider that perhaps their writing really isn’t (yet) good enough to publish.

And Christian writers can be among the worst offenders. Every major Christian publisher’s editorial staff will testify to cringing whenever the phrase “God gave me this message” appears in a query letter. Editors have learned from experience that this usually means, “God dictated this to me word for word, and it’s your Christian duty to publish it immediately and unedited.” And that the work accompanying the query letter usually looks unedited—in the extreme.

Nowhere in the Bible does God promise wealth and physical comfort for all who do His work—indeed, many passages (John 16:33 and 2 Timothy 3:12 just for starters) promise exactly the opposite to the majority of believers. And Scripture definitely does not advocate any idea remotely resembling “do a little work for God for a short time and He’ll reward you with years free for idleness”—which, if they were honest about it, is exactly the scenario many aspiring Christian writers are hoping for. They think they’re writing for God’s glory, but not far beneath the surface their primary interest is in feeding their own pride and their fleshly appetites.

The best antidote, for anyone who feels inspired to write something for the public in God’s name, is to keep in mind Colossians 3:23:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” [NIV]

Not even—especially not—for yourself.
Copyright Katherine Swarts
Katherine is a B2B newsletter and blog writer at
Click the article title to Visit her blog:
New Songs From the Heart

New Book: The Time To be Happy Is Now! Check It Out!

New Book

The Time to Be Happy is Now

Provides 52 Techniques to Overcome Stress

Dr. Kenford Nedd, who previously wrote Power Over Stress, has just come out with a new book, The Time to Be Happy is Now, which details 52 proven techniques to overcome daily psychological and physiological problems in order to build a successful career and enjoyable life.

“I have been practicing these techniques for more than 20 years with groups of executives, doctors and other professionals, all over North America,” Dr. Nedd reports, “and all of those who adhered to the techniques got significant improvement in their ability to function, while reporting higher levels of happiness in their lives.”

The Time to Be Happy is Now offers three types of techniques: how to deal with difficult situations and unpleasant people, how to heighten your emotional skill and build inner strength and how to use the stressors in your life to build a refined and integrated physiology and a happier life.

One technique designed to help you keep your cool under trial involves instant relaxation – how to reverse negative emotional and physical stress in 11 seconds using a formula consisting of seven steps. Contracting certain muscles groups, breathing in through your nose and redirecting your circulation to designated parts of your body, are a part of the process. Another technique is designed to stimulate the chemistry of happiness by using your brain in new ways. A third teaches how smiling can change blood flow to the brain and how to use this knowledge to make yourself happier.

The book emphasizes how to use your physiology to change your emotions, how to behave with the happiness of others in mind and how to deepen your connection to yourself, enlarge your circle of love and enrich your spiritual life.

Dr. Steven Pratt, bestselling author of Superfoods Rx, declares, “Ken Nedd makes stress reduction more fun than anyone on the planet. He helps us, in a science-based, enjoyable fashion, learn to control the everyday stress which we all encounter.”

Joy Bramble, Senior Editor of The Baltimore Times, calls the book “inspiring, practical and uplifting,” and Dr. Aziz Vellani dubs it “a must-read book with the power to change your life.”

Former St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny D. Anthony believes that Dr. Nedd’s “practical, sensitive lessons on happiness touch the heart, inspire the soul and heal the broken spirit,” concluding: “This book is just right for these times!” And Thomas J. Marrie, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta, declares that The Time to Be Happy is Now is “A must-read for every medical student that will make the practice of medicine even more rewarding.”

Among other things, Dr. Nedd’s new book explains: how happiness changes body chemistry, how to acquire the biology of happiness, how the physiological state of happiness improves one’s ability to get a job and keep it, and how happiness and ideal work performance go hand in hand. It details what really happens to one’s body when it’s under stress―emotionally, chemically and physiologically.

“If left unchecked, unhappiness can undo all the good things you do for your body—like exercise and proper diet—and even interfere with medical treatments,” Nedd states. “By adopting these practical and easy-to-follow techniques, you can learn to take control and steer yourself to financial and social success, with a sound, clean, and happy mind.”


About Author Dr. Kenford Nedd
Born in the Caribbean nation of Antigua, Kenford Nedd earned his BS and MD degrees at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He took post-graduate courses at UCLA and University of Chicago and headache and pain courses in London, Toronto and many U.S. cities. A member of the American Headache Society, Dr. Nedd has been in private practice for more than 20 years and is an acknowledged authority in Behavioral Medicine and Stress. For more than 18 years he has taught his stress-reduction techniques to organizations and corporations across North America, including the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, American Airlines, The Canadian Medical Association, The Canadian Diabetes Association, AT&T, Pfizer, Blue Cross, Bayer Inc., Barclay’s Bank, Bristol Myers and Alcan. In 2004 he published the book Power Over Stress.

The Time to Be Happy is Now
245-page paperback; $18.95
Published by QPress;
ISBN-13: 978-0-9733291-1-7
Available at, and


Media Contact:
Charlie Barrett, The Barrett Company Communications, Los Angeles, CA
Phone: 310-471-5764; E-mail:


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review: Vengeance Road by Rick Mofina Provides High Suspense!

It was called Vengeance Road for a reason. Deceit, theft and murder had occurred there. Not much had changed since the 1800s when it first got that name. Now Jack Gannon was heading there based upon a hunch, really, hoping no other reporters had gotten there before him. They hadn't.

But the big rig was there--he had come home, and had brought his latest victim with him.

I had not read any books by Rick Mofina until I selected Vengeance Road! What an exciting fast-paced drama! Let me tell you a little about it!

Jack Gannon is a reporter at the Buffalo Sentinel and happens to catch a call regarding a body being found in a local park. The body of Bernice Hogan has been found and as Jack begins his investigation, he discovers the major suspect being considered by the police. He runs the story!

The suspect has some powerful friends and Jack is suspended. But he keeps on his search, now as a freelance reporter--there are too many "coincidents" that bring the suspect near the case! Based upon his earlier story, the mother of another young girl, Jolene Peller, had asked Jack for help, believing that she could trust him. Jolene had been on the way to Florida for a job, but had never arrived. She had met her friend, Bernice, and thought that she should help her, turning back to follow her into the woods. She disappeared on the same night Hogan had been killed. Gannon had made a commitment to try to find Jolene, as well as break the story!

Living on the severance pay from the Sentinel, Jack begins an in-depth investigative report on the main suspect. His one confidential informant had assured him his story was accurate and kept him informed of what was happening because Jack had protected her. Another fact discovered was that a big rig with a sword or large knife as an emblem on the side was seen parked near the scene of the crime. Truck stops were obvious places to search. Jack's investigation takes him all over the US and into Canada, discovering a trail of unexplained deaths that went far back in time.

Sometimes the police got to places first, but often it was Jack there waiting until the primary investigators showed up. Soon they began to realize that Jack seemed to know more about the case than they did, respecting him even though they didn't like him or want him around!

I love interesting surprise endings, don't you? Well, you will definitely find one in Rick Mofina's Vengeance Road. This story is so intertwined with twists and turns that you've really got to read it to begin to see the psychological trauma through which a young man traveled to end a terror that had started generations ago. Suspense like you haven't seen in awhile! Don't miss this one!

G. A. Bixler

Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male Now Available!

First-time author Philip Nork brings
Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male to life!

Mars and Venus…The battle of the sexes?
Men and women alike will enjoy the book that just might end the relationship war!

Author: Philip Nork
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Distributors: Ingram Book Company
Baker & Taylor, Inc.
Release date: August 2009
ISBN Paperback-9781438967448
ISBN Hardcover-9781438967455

First-time author Philip Nork and AuthorHouse are happy to announce the release of this “highly entertaining and unique trip back in time.” Follow a young boy on his confusing and challenging journey of self-discovery, and his yearning to become the “real” yet sensitive man he longs to be.

As you read these life lessons you will undoubtedly recall some of your own past encounters and how they too were perceived. Life lessons are all around us, you just have to see them and react accordingly. Along his journey the young boy learns lessons that all men need to know, and that most women want them to use, such as:

v Be different, sincere, and make females feel special.
v Girls remember the good things and want to reciprocate.
v See the difference in everyone and celebrate it.
v Girls want to be heard: guys need to be better listeners.

Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male allows the reader to not only experience a one-of-a-kind journey, but also relive their own...and to see how the actions that they followed could have been perceived--and ultimately accepted--by those that count in their life.

“Women will want to have someone like Phil enter their life, while men will wish they were more like him. Either way, all will be thoroughly entertained.” Cliff Carle, editor.

Philip Nork lives in Henderson, Nevada and is already working on the second book in this series, Sensitivity 102: Choices. Go to his blog at to see more information about him and the book.

Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male is available at many on-line retailers such as and

Look for my review of this new book, coming soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Men of Gain Exposes Costly Wall Street Shenanigans

Timely New Psychological Mystery Novel Men of Gain
Exposes Costly Wall Street Financial Shenanigans

Hunter McClelland’s new psychological mystery novel, Men of Gain, dramatizes the financial and psychological collapse of a hedge fund manager whose decisions costs his clients millions of dollars, when Wall Street undergoes its greatest meltdown in 80 years.

“I felt this story needed to be told as a compassionate study of the personal and emotional life of a man,” McClelland explains. “In today’s society, men’s emotions tend to be ignored. I wanted to trace the psychological evolution my protagonist Evan Tipton goes through when faced with a very stressful situation, where something goes very wrong in his life. When the U.S. financial crisis hit in September 2008, I realized that this was the perfect situation in which to explore men’s nature.

“The book deals with several very timely and controversial issues, including malpractice, risky hedge fund investments, sub-prime mortgages and business ethics. I believe this story is unique, and I am unaware of any other novels dealing with the current financial crisis from this perspective. Men of Gain is meant to be enjoyed but also to promote discussion and insight into how this financial collapse was created. The main reason I write is to show the reality the financial disaster has played out with people, not just with the markets.

“In Men of Gain, Evan struggles personally and morally within the crucible of the financial world. However, the novel also explores whether this fund manager was guilty of unethical practices or was simply naïve as to what was going on all around him.”

San Francisco banker and writer Roland Bianchi says, “You recognize at the outset that the author has a passion for the subject, as well as talent and style that earn your trust. A must read!”

Burlingame, CA doctor Dana Wemple declares, “With this first novel, Hunter McClelland presents an intelligent and perceptive view of current American culture, examining the value in numbers and in relationships. The characters take us on a compelling journey well worth reading.”

And Berkeley, CA educator James Lippincott adds, “Evocative and warm, this page-turner explores the men and events contributing to the economic meltdown of the 21st Century. Magnificently narrated: a voice of the times.”

About Author Hunter McClelland
Author Hunter McClelland was born and educated in Richmond, CA, earned a B.S. in psychology from University of California at Davis, and then undertook a nursing degree and a Ph.D. in physiology from Johns Hopkins University. She worked primarily as an operating-room nurse, and also taught nursing for 10 years at Stevenson University in Maryland. During her medical career, McClelland lectured and developed courses in pathophysiology and biology. Currently Hunter is working on her second novel, which deals with green technology and the auto industry.

Men of Gain
116-page paperback; $12.95
Published by Strategic Book Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60860-068-7
Available at, and and selected bookstores


Media Contact:
Charlie Barrett, The Barrett Company Communications, Los Angeles, CA
Phone: 310-471-5764; E-mail:
Watch for my review coming soon if this sounds like YOUR kind of book!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Talking with Carol Cassella, Spotlighted Author of Oxygen!

Sharing a little more with us today is Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen! Look for notices of live chat on Facebook later this month!

Oxygen included betrayal of a friend/peer. Did something like this happen in real life?

I suppose none of us can live a very long life without at some point feeling betrayed. But the incident portrayed in OXYGEN is not derived from any actual personal experience. Primarily, I was interested in exploring what happens to a strong, professional woman when she finds her life beginning to spin out of control. Many of the plot elements in the novel are tied to this, helping me and the reader look at that question from different perspectives.

Did writing come natural to you or is it something that you had/have to work on?

I think the biggest trap I fell into for the first thirty-five years of my life was believing that if I had any talent, or was ‘meant to be a writer,’ writing should come easily. It is sad to think how many unwritten novels are walking around on the planet because of that common belief. Inspiration is great when it strikes, and one should grab it and go, but it will inevitably fade as the gap between one’s envisioned story or novel looms before the ten to one hundred thousand words it takes to translate it. Writing can be hard work. That, indeed, may be part of the reward in finishing a piece, rereading it, and deciding that—yes—it is satisfactory! My primary advice to aspiring writers is DON’T GIVE UP! It is supposed to be hard at times.

Well, yes, I think a lot of people, including me, think that "authors" have been given that special talent, especially for fiction writing! I've never had problems in business writing, but my creating other than a short story or so has always seemed an impossibility! Yes, I guess I could have a novel inside of me...but then again...who would be here waiting to read your second book!?! I think my special gift is "reading!" LOL

Do you see your future writing come from your life or from other people?

When I boil it down, all my writing comes from my own life. All the conversations I have, the people I watch on the street, the family conflicts and joys I experience, are filtered through my own emotional soup. How can it be otherwise? No matter how different any of my characters may seem from myself, they are all a part of me, because I will never truly be able to know so intimately how anyone else perceives the world. I guess that makes writing a rater selfish pursuit in the end, doesn’t it?

Interesting response...I think though that you have to have that instinctual people watching that does not always come to all of us and I'm not sure I would call it selfish. You would need a greater perception and interest in others as you communicate to effectively use those experiences in your books, I would think...

Did you go to school for writing?

I was an English Literature major in college, and books and writing have always been my passion. I did not get an MFA or any other formal degree in creative writing, but I have taken many, many classes in fiction writing as an adult. I think the best education for a writer is close observation of your world and your response to it, and reading, reading, reading. Try to read not only from the outside in, (enjoying story and character as a witness), but also from the inside out. By that I mean, read as a writer. When you get chills over a perfect paragraph or page or chapter, ask yourself why the author chose to use that particular structure, verbiage, point of view. Look at what they put into the scene as well as what they left out. Play with it—how might you have written it differently? This can be a hugely educational and fun exercise.

You certainly have taken advantage of your educational activities...writing based upon your major and your first novel, Oxygen, based upon your medical degree. Makes you a wonderful role model for young women in high school and college!

Did you ever think that your first book would be quickly picked up and you would be where you are today?

This is an easy one! Never in a million years. But even more significantly, I never understood that getting published is only the first step in a very, very long road that continues to be challenging. Most of that challenge is good, but it also involves learning a completely new industry with all its complexities in the middle of your other life; not to mention, most of that industry is in an office in New York, and I am at my desk in Seattle with no rule book! But it has also been a fun adventure and I think it can be very revitalizing to start a brand new career halfway through life, especially when you are keeping your last career going simultaneously.

Yes, I've heard it from many authors that they never realized that publishing your book was only the beginning! Well, your readers are certainly happy to have had the opportunity to "read you" and look forward to your second novel!

More from Carol Soon!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Attention! Mapp and Lucia Readers Alert!

Do you enjoy series? I love them! My own collections include series on cat mystery cozies! However, when an author is no longer able to continue the series, it is often heartbreaking for the following. Recently I met Guy Fraser-Sampson, another lover of a series usually referred to as Mapp and Lucia. New to me but it has an international following. Kudos to Guy for having the courage to ask permission from the estate of the former author, E. F. Benson, and working to continue this legacy.
As we were talking, I thought it would be great to have Guy share on my blog and tell us more about his efforts. He has given us a little info about his first book, a note from the originator, E. F. Benson designed to set the stage, and has shared a review of his own book by Frank McGillion, a fellow author and a past Booker Prize nominee. Check for a total of three articles all together.
Now a few words from Guy...
I have written a book called “Major Benjy”, which is a continuation of the work of a dead author. His name was E.F. Benson and the books in question are usually referred to as the Mapp and Lucia stories, named after their two leading characters. They are works of comic fiction and, unusually, the humour has survived very well over the years (they were written before WWII and Benson died in 1940; see the author’s note following. Incidentally, Benson underwent something of a revival on some college campuses a year or two back.
I gained the consent of Benson’s estate to continue the series, so this is similar to what has been done recently with the James Bond books of Ian Fleming. This was welcomed by the international fan following of Mapp and Lucia stories. This is a continuation of the wonderful comic stories originally penned by E.F. Benson, which over in England are regarded in the same light of P.G. Wodehouse’s “Jeeves and Wooster” stories, and were made into a number of TV shows starring Prunella Scales of “Fawlty Towers” fame.
Thanks so much, Glenda, for helping get the word out in the US to those who might be Mapp and Lucia fans and to all those who enjoy reading! I'm on LinkedIn and will be joining other book sites soon. I look forward to talking with you!

Note from Author of Mapp and Lucia books...E. F. Benson

Author’s note:

E.F.Benson was born at Wellington College, where his father (who went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury) was headmaster, in 1867 and died at Rye, which he had made his home for the last 22 years of his life, in 1940. He was to immortalise Rye as “Tilling”, the setting for the “Mapp and Lucia” books which have attracted a huge following worldwide, and he served twice as the town’s mayor, as he has Lucia do in the books. His home, Lamb House (previously the home of the novelist Henry James, a family friend) also featured in the books, transformed into Mallards, the home first of Mapp and then of Lucia. In recognition of its literary heritage it is today a National Trust property.

Benson found fame early in life, writing Dodo when he was just 26. The novel, which featured a thinly disguised real life society hostess, became an instant success and was admired, among others, by the future Edward VII. So great a success that Benson was known by many (those who did not call him “Fred”) as “Dodo” Benson for the rest of his life. Though Benson stoutly denied that the central character was based on any real life person, he was finally persuaded at the height of the craze for the book (which was reprinted twelve times in less than a year) to write to Margot Tennant to apologise for any embarrassment he might have caused her. Her reply was worthy of Lucia at her best. “Dear Mr Benson, have you written a novel? How clever of you.”

Benson went on to write over 100 different books and though his Mapp and Lucia books (of which sadly there are only six) have always enjoyed a devoted cult following he was until the mid-80’s known chiefly for his ghost stories, which are said by specialists of that genre to be comparable to those of his contemporary, the great M.R.James, and at least the equal of Charles Dickens. Then Channel Four television in the UK ran a dramatised series of the later Mapp and Lucia books superbly acted by Prunella Scales, Geraldine McEwan, Nigel Hawthorne and Denis Lill, and the books were reissued to take advantage of a whole new generation of fans.

Perhaps more than any other writer, the sheer quantity of Benson’s output told against him, and the standard of his books is appallingly inconsistent; some are, at least by modern standards, almost unreadable. Outside the two areas for which he is best remembered, his most notable books are probably the novels Paying Guests and Secret Lives, but he also wrote plays, literary criticism, history, biographies, and books on the great love of his life, figure skating, of which he was a pioneer, campaigning for the building of ice rinks.

However, his reputation has been building steadily and there is now general recognition that he was indeed a major writer of the early twentieth century. His ghost stories and the Mapp and Lucia books deserve no less. In America this has been in part because he has been championed as a gay writer, but this is both unfair and unnecessary. He was an intensely private man and his books are determinedly asexual. Nor does his literary stature need any such boost; his talent is there for all to see.

There is no doubt that Fred was gay; so was his mother (one of the loves of her life, incidentally, was called Lucy) and so were both his brothers, but that is not the point. To describe him as a gay writer in the same way as, say, E.M. Forster was a gay novelist is plainly inappropriate. Forster wrote The Longest Journey, which is shot through with male longing and of course Maurice which has an overtly gay plot, so much so that he would not allow it to be published in his lifetime. Benson would have been horrified if his private feelings had become public knowledge, though they were well known within his family and he had long term relationships with at least two men, with both of whom he co-habited.

When we turn to the Mapp and Lucia stories it is perhaps this very gayness which makes them what they are. There is a wonderful bitchiness about them which have prompted some to make comparisons with Jane Austen, but in Fred’s case it is a camp bitchiness. As the very first sentence of Miss Mapp, for example, we find the immortal words: “Miss Elizabeth Mapp might have been forty, and she had taken advantage of this opportunity by being just a year or two older.” Yet his greatness is truly demonstrated by the fact that, no matter how many appalling things he has his characters say or do, we still think of them fondly, which emotion seems rarely to be induced by more upright characters in contemporary novels.

There are in fact only two things wrong with the Mapp and Lucia books.

The first is that there are only six of them, a fact regularly bemoaned by those who re-read them once a year and are eager for more. This hunger was partly assuaged by Tom Holt, who wrote two additional books some years ago, though at the time of writing these are both sadly out of print, which seems almost to have become the hallmark of a good book these days. This in turn gives rise to a second problem which is that there are gaps in the narrative which are never filled in, into which holes some characters fall without explanation, never to be seen again (Lucy is a good example).

The second was astutely pointed out in an article written for Penguin by Philip Hensher; all of the minor characters are unashamedly two dimensional, as though recognising the fact that all they are good for is background scenery. Hensher is himself a successful novelist with books such as The Mulberry Empire to his credit, and thus knows what he is talking about. I will happily borrow his words, since they express the point much more eloquently than anything I could write:

“Mapp and Lucia are only part of it, of course, and they are surrounded by an enchanting cast of one-note grotesques … Glorious as they are, most of them only do one thing; Mr Wyse is always bowing, Susan is forever coming up the road in the Rolls in her sable, the padre is always speaking in a sort of Scotch and his wife never says anything, merely squeaks … Even Georgie, the Major and Quaint Irene, who are a little more varied in their habits, run along very clear grooves, doing pretty well exactly the same thing from one end of the novel to the other. They may surprise each other – “No!” is their favourite exclamation - but they don't surprise us, and we know that at any moment, Georgie is doing his needlework, Quaint Irene is painting some naked models while a six-foot maid brings in the refreshments, and the Major is calling “Quai-hai!”.”

He is absolutely correct, of course. You cannot even argue that if Benson had gone on to write more of the books then these deficiencies would have been ironed out; this is the way he chose to write them, and that is that. Interestingly, to those without the trained eye of a professional novelist these weaknesses had not really made themselves apparent until they were brought home by the television series (though I think Hensher may be a little unfair when it comes to Georgie, who is a major character both in the Riseholme and the Tilling books and who surely shares some of Benson’s own characteristics).

I first got to know Benson at the age of ten by the expedient of listening under the bedclothes to “A book at bedtime” on a transistor radio turned down very low. One week they featured Queen Lucia and I was fascinated by it. A visit to our local library revealed that E.F.Benson was in the adult library whereas I only had a ticket for the children’s library next door, but the librarian’s defences soon crumbled under the weight of my mother’s attack, and I duly read all six from cover to cover. They have been a constant in my life since then, sitting in that part of my bookshelves that is reserved for the books I read again and again.

Without wishing to sound either pretentious or sentimental, Major Benjy represents the culmination of a life’s ambition and I can honestly say that the book has been slowly percolating inside my head for the best part of thirty years. I have always wanted to write another Mapp and Lucia book for people to enjoy, and I thought that as long as I was doing it anyway, I might as well also do my best to address the two problems to which I have alluded above.

So, the book is designed to fill the narrative gap between Miss Mapp and Mapp and Lucia; it is set in the early part of the same summer when Lucia and Georgie first arrive in Tilling. It also explains what happened to Lucy, who disappears without trace between the two existing books.

To address the second problem was less simple and I leave it to the reader to decide how effective I have been in my efforts to fill out some of the supporting cast. As with all fiction, I found them taking on lives of their own as I wrote, and the finished article is not at all what I had in mind when I set off on this adventure. Many times words, particularly dialogue, would come into my head as I wrote and I would set them down before continuing doggedly with what I originally had intended. The next day, on sitting down with a cup of tea, I would re-read what I had written the day before three or four times, and then often resignedly delete everything but what had come to me spontaneously. Writing this work of fiction, unlike the safer realms which I usually inhabit as a writer, frequently felt like undertaking a high wire act without a safety net.

Like a circus performer, I decided to trust my instincts. I hope that you will laugh in all the right places, but, whatever your reaction to the book, please accept it as an honest labour of love and think kindly of the ten year old under the bedclothes.

Provided to set stage for Major Benjy by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

Review: Guest Review by Frank McGillion of Major Benjy

Necromancing Major Benjy and Friends
Frank McGillion

Title: “Major Benjy”
Author: Guy Fraser-Sampson
Publisher: Troubador
Date of publication: 1 September 2008
ISBN: 978-1906510-749

Raising the dead has its dangers and Edward Frederick Benson knew them. For he was told that his father only turned to the priesthood after attempting something of this sort, being so horrified at what he conjured up he felt he had to embrace God professionally. Raising spirits, by way of contrast, can be very jolly indeed. And in his exciting new book Major Benjy, Guy Fraser-Sampson does both. He raises the dead – albeit metaphorically – by resurrecting the much-loved characters of Fred Benson’s legendary Miss Mapp and Lucia novels: those works of humorous fiction, crafted in the 1930s, that retain a highly discerning following today. He raises our spirits too, by producing a work of such richness and variety that we cannot fail to feel elevated to rare heights of pleasure on reading it.

Unlike Benson’s father however, there will be no need for Mr Fraser-Sampson to alter his profession. So accurate is his reincarnation of these characters and their milieu, it should simply transform this best-selling author of non-fiction into a best-selling novelist.

For in this gem of a book those unfamiliar with Benson’s town of Tilling and its occupants will discover that a setting that had drifted into hibernation in book form, has now re-emerged fully awake and raring to go. Those familiar with Tilling will immediately find themselves returning to a place so similar to that portrayed in Benson’s originals that it is barely distinguishable from them.

The much maligned term ‘ghost writer’ acquires a brand new meaning here, as Benson’s doppelganger is clearly at work creating a familiar world imbued with an unfamiliar freshness. Each part of this book is superbly crafted: the shifting point of view, the characterisation, location, prose style, dialogue and the story-line itself. Deft of touch, meticulous in detail, with plot twists as unpredictable and sophisticated as Tilling’s very own capricious Contessa, the author explores the characters and their surroundings in quite masterful detail.

The plot takes off when the retired, ex-colonial Major Benjy, pulls open his front door to Elizabeth Mapp. He puts on what charm he can for Tilling’s best-known lady of leisure. What he hasn’t put on however, are his trousers. And for those of us familiar with Miss Mapp’s class-based sensibilities, we soon realise we have a game on. And what a wonderful game it is! We are taken to the highways and byways – the ins and outs – of both Tilling and its residents.

Thus we are: privy to a dinner party where the Major out-sozzles himself with archetypal élan and discovers himself in an unwelcome spotlight; to a crossword puzzle that leads to cross words and dangerously crossed lines between Tilling’s finest; to a rubber of bridge that bounces about like a crime thriller, and to a cake competition that gradually rises with unbearable, and unchristian, tension, culminating in a form of Find-the-Lady played with a chocolate gateaux, a white frosted icing cake, a cohort of name flags and a tin of Cherry Blossom shoe polish.

We learn of the delicately described exertions of Major Benjy with the enigmatic love interest—Heather, as the story flows along, its twists and turns, eddies and ripples seeping into the reader from one of the finest and funniest works of fiction to appear in a very long time.

Most importantly, the author portrays – through a medium-dry and perfectly honed humour – just how unpleasant people can be to one another however intimate they may seem. In doing so he offers us insight to both the characters and ourselves. And in the finest traditions of literature of any genre, he enables us to realise once again that human nature, whatever its social origins, is complex, contradictory and often unpleasantly surprising.

This is especially true when he portrays the ruthless demands of the English class system and those driven by its diktats. There is one scene in particular that does this superbly. This is when one of the female characters takes verbal revenge on her hostess, friend, confidante, and bitter enemy. So powerful is the description of her emotions that we are reminded how skilfully the genre of humour can be used to portray the vagaries of the human spirit when in capable hands.

In summary what we have here is an enchanting and poignant masterpiece that takes us back to a world we had thought long gone. Hence we are able to revisit life in the town of Tilling several generations after it effectively ceased to exist. Once again we can share the lives of a set of irrepressible characters who plot and scheme to outdo friend and foe alike and who portray their very human sides as they do so.

Yes, raising the dead has it dangers, but the only danger with this book is that we consider it one of the very best by E.F. Benson, when it is, in fact, written by a posthumous protégée of whom that same Fred Benson would be very proud indeed.

We look forward to having our spirits raised again soon by Guy Fraser-Sampson. And the sooner that happens the better.

©Frank McGillion June 2008

Friday, October 9, 2009

Event Announcement: Doesn't This Sound Cool?!!!

325 Gold St. Suite 303,
Brooklyn NY 11201


Electric Literature Presents:
The Soapbox Reading Series

Where: Washington Square Park, (west of the fountain).
When: October 13th, 2009 and October 20th, 2009, Noon – 1:30pm

Oct 13th: Colson Whitehead and Carmiel Banasky
20th: Stephen O’Connor and special guests

The Electric Literature Soapbox Reading Series is exactly what it sounds like: Writers will read their work atop a box in the middle of Washington Square Park.
Washington Square has a long and storied history of both arts and activism. To celebrate the area, the Soapbox Reading Series is an inclusive event for a diverse audience of passersby, office workers, cops, shoppers, students, and literary enthusiasts sharing in a common, transportive experience.
The Soapbox readings will entertain and promote literary fiction by connecting authors directly with the public, while celebrating the diversity of the city and its cultural wealth.
No rain dates, so pray for sun!
Colson Whitehead, a 2002 MacArthur Fellow, is the author of four novels and a book of essays about New York City. His most recent book is Sag Harbor.
Stephen O’Connor is the author of Rescue, short fiction and poetry; Will My Name Be Shouted Out?, memoir and social criticism; Orphan Trains, narrative history, and Here Comes Another Lesson, short fiction, forthcoming from Free Press. His fiction and poetry have been in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Conjunctions, TriQuarterly, Threepenny Review, New England Review, The Missouri Review, The Quarterly, Partisan Review, and many other places. His essays and journalism have appeared in The New York Times, DoubleTake, The Nation, AGNI, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe and elsewhere. He teaches fiction and nonfiction writing in the MFA programs of Columbia and Sarah Lawrence.
Carmiel Banasky grew up in Portland, Oregon and received her B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. In Oxford, Mississippi, she taught preschool and, in her spare time, attempted to organize a pro-choice movement. She failed. Eventually, she found her way to New York City to finally focus on writing. Currently, she is studying with Peter Carey and Colum McCann at Hunter College, where she also teaches creative writing. She has two stories published with Glimmer Train Stories, one of won first prize in their Family Matters contest. Other stories can be found online at The Boy Bedlam Review.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Talking With Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen!

Carol Cassella is with us this month as Spotlighted Author. She is very busy juggling her professional and personal life and still work on completion of her second book. Sooooo, she's going to share on an ongoing basis and if everything goes write, we'll have an "on the wall" interview for everybody at the end of the month! How Cool is that?!!! First, here's a little background:

Where are you from?

First, thank you for selecting me to spotlight on your blog this month! I look forward also to talking with you and others at Facebook later this month.

I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I moved away for college and then lived in the Northeast for a few years. I always knew I wanted to live somewhere that an invigorating and artistic city was in close proximity to great natural beauty, because both those settings are vitally important and inspiring to me. Alas, as much as a Texan is always a Texan, I didn’t find the right combination there. I returned to Texas to go to medical school, but thought I’d move back to New York or Boston. Then I visited a friend in Seattle. It was the fourth of July—72 degrees, mountains and water in every direction. We went to a good restaurant, the Pike Place Market, a play, and then the next night we were camping in the Olympic Mountains. I was in heaven!!

When did you start writing? When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

The first clear memory I have of writing is at about the age of eight or nine. My parents had an ancient Underwood typewriter, with sticky keys but the amazing capacity to type some words in red. I started my first book on it. “A Witch Called Hazel.” I was the youngest of three girls, and by the time I was old enough for playmates my sisters were too busy with their own social lives, so books became my closest friends. I could completely lose hours, days and weeks in them—I still could if I weren’t so busy. I think that exposure to and love for written descriptions worked its way into how I see my world. I have always walked through my days silently describing them, writing sentences that play with the right word or phrase to capture what I’m experiencing.

Carol, I can perfectly understand your early choice of books as friends. I had two older sisters plus a brother. They were the ones that learned to dance, went skating and learned to ride a bicycle. They too became too busy when all of that was my time to learn...but there were always books!

Your first book was about your professional life, was this planned for a series? Or, Where do your ideas and subjects come from?

OXYGEN was definitely born inside my professional life as an anesthesiologist. I had been scanning for subject matter for years, and when I began training as an anesthesiologist I discovered wonderful material there. We are such a hidden profession—there is so much to tell people about what we do, and how we affect their lives. But even more, I found the metaphor of Oxygen—the most critical safety element during anesthesia—to be perfect for the themes I was interested in exploring. Another, more practical aspect of setting my novel in the world of an anesthesiologist is that I had no time to do any research! I needed to write about what I know. I don’t have any plans for a sequel to OXYGEN right now—I think I’ve said what I wanted to say about my hospital work. I am still writing about medicine and medical science in my second novel, and probably most of my novels to come. Medicine is too much a part of me to leave it out of my writing.

I think most of us look to our work to find much to share about our own lives. However, the medical area is fascinating to many of us, so I was especially happy to learn about your role, finding it is much more important than I realized since, as you said, it is "a hidden profession."

Readers...more later! Carol is working...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Review: A Touch of Southern Gothic in Angel's Rest by Mary Edwards

Angel’s Rest
By Mary Edwards
Wings ePress Inc.
ISBN: 9781597055079
240 Pages

The beautiful cover of a man carrying a small girl out of the water immediately captured me. Who was the little girl? Did she drown? Or was she still alive? What was her name? Obviously the answers were to come as I began to read Angel's Rest by Mary Edwards!

When Deirdre (Dee) Anderson was called to the office of Tyler Summerfield, a man she had always called Uncle Tyler, she thought it was going to be about a small inheritance from her grandfather who had recently died. Uncle Tyler had been her grandfather's partner and was now handling his estate. Unfortunately, he now had the responsibility to tell Dee that there was no money. In fact, he had been giving her a small allowance out of his own pocket. He had held $1000 to give to her at this time, but knew that it was not sufficient for the long term.

At the meeting, however, he revealed that he had at least one option for Dee. If she were willing, he had arranged to have her work to restore a home in Mississippi, just outside of Vicksburg, which had been built before the civil war, but long vacant. Dee was in a daze, knowing that she had no background to undertake the work, but was able to think clearly enough that she realized she had no choice. If she didn't take this opportunity, she would have to immediately start her own search for a position.

Raised by her grandfather, Dee had become a rather independent woman and so, after the shock of losing her grandfather plus having to assume a position for which she did not feel qualified, she pulled herself together and made the journey. Immediately she would meet a number of individuals: Sean Wilson was to oversee the work she would be doing and Bill Brooks, a local veterinarian who was a friend of those involved at the home. She also met Melanie Nash who was to assist Dee and Sadie Lucas, who had years ago helped keep house at Angel's Rest.

There was one major problem, however. Dee had been told a little about some of the people who might be discussed when she arrived and she had been told not to reveal that she knew anything about them. The problem was that Dee indeed did not know anything but, regardless, she soon found that someone was trying to get her to leave!

Dee had known little about how her parents had died so that her grandfather raised her. Now she was in a place that she seemed to remember and she began to have visions of past scenes that seemed to have taken place within the home or on the grounds. In trying to begin a new life, she had accepted the individuals she was now living with at face value as potential friends, and she would enjoy their company, only to have them do or say something that was so strange that she began to doubt or trust them. Both men had shown a romantic interest, but then she would see that they were involved with others as well. Soon, she could not even tell herself how she really felt about her beaus!

Readers will feel the fear and terror and, mostly, frustration that Dee experienced. It results in a page-by-page suspense that will keep you on edge. Nobody was allowed to talk about the past, yet everything happening seemed to be based on it. For instance, why had Sadie started calling the home, Angel's Rest? And who was the little girl Sadie claimed to see there? Soon Dee decided she had to find out or possibly lose her life!

Mary Edwards tells the story of Angelique, the little girl that had been carried from the water so many years ago to haunt Angel's Rest until the girl found her own rest. Enter the horror of that search into which Dee Anderson has fallen, and through which she must now find her own personal salvation! Visit this southern, mysterious home and help solve the mystery--you'll be glad you joined the search!

G. A. Bixler

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Welcome to Carol Cassella, Spotlighted Author of Oxygen!

Welcome Carol Cassella!

Good Morning! I hope you'll come and welcome Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen to Book Reader's Heaven! We'll have an interview sometime soon and who knows what else will be happening this month!

In addition to her web site which you can reach by clicking on her author photo, I've also linked to her blog, which you can reach by clicking the article title for this entry!

She's a busy lady and I appreciate so much her willingness to be here this month!

Book Club Members! There is info and questions that can be used on her web site.

Here's a short blurb "about me" from her blog until we talk more with her!

Carol Wiley Cassella majored in English Literature at Duke University and graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1986. She currently practices anesthesia in Seattle and is a freelance medical writer specializing in global public health advocacy for the developing world. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington with her husband and their two sets of twins, and is working on her next novel.

Click below to read my review and, oh yes, I added Carol's response! Scroll down because it repeats todays entry as well...