Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mike Lynch, Love's Second Chance

AUTHOR:  Mike Lynch
BOOK TITLE:  Love’s Second Chance
PUBLISHER:  Ellechor Publishing

Tell me a little about your book.
All of us go through the pain of rejection, and react to it in different ways. In Dana Rogers’ case, she leaves New York City after the tragic death of her fiancé and moves to Fairhaven, a small town in Connecticut, in order to forget her problems. There she has caught the eye of Evan Johnson, a successful real estate agent and kindred spirit to Dana. But because of the pain in her heart, she can’t see it. Dana buries herself in her work, but Evan’s persistence pays off, and begins to break through her hardened shell. Everything gets thrown into chaos when the church she works at burns down in a fire, which threatens to undo everything Dana has worked to save, including the first sparks of a relationship with Evan.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I have wanted to write a novel about what life is like for those who work in a church for a long time. Many things go on behind the scenes most members of the congregation don't realize. This is also my first foray into the romance genre, and thought this would be the best way to approach this story. As an author, I have found that the most satisfying stories are ones where the reader really gets to know the characters. If I hope to improve as a writer, I thought it important to create a story that is primarily character-driven. That, in my mind, is what romance-themed books are all about.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Definitely part-time. Like most authors, we have day jobs because the number of books sold are not enough to earn a living as a full-time writer.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I think writers are born that way. I know that's true in my case since I had little interest in books or reading growing up. My interest was more in the area of movies and television. Since I'm a visual learner, that would make a lot of sense. As someone who enjoys stories, I found myself writing short stories for my own enjoyment from my earliest memories. I never had any intention of getting them published, but I believe we are all born with God-given gifts, imbedded into our personalities for the benefit of others. Shortly after high school, I suddenly had the idea I could write a novel. That was truly a surprise for me, given my background, but thought I would give it a shot. It was a science fiction story based upon the premise 1000 alien ships were headed toward Earth for the sole purpose of destroying it. With that simple idea, I spent the next several months fleshing it out. As you can imagine, it was pretty bad, and worked on it off and on for the next 28 years, honing down the story until it was in publishable shape. My perseverance paid off, and I eventually found a publisher for When the Sky Fell in 2009.  

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
It’s different for each story. In the case of Love’s Second Chance, there are two experiences I want each reader to walk away with.  The primary one is that I have written a good story that will hold a person's interest from start to finish. I believe LSC is an engaging story, with three-dimensional characters readers will care about as they navigate the different turn of events throughout the story. This book is squarely targeted at women, with relationships between the different characters being at the core of the story. Women enjoy the relationships they have in their lives, and the same goes for characters they get to know in stories. They root for them to get together, and hope they will have happy lives when they do. That is what LSC is about.

The secondary experience I want people to walk away with is the importance church plays in a person's life. In LSC, the reader sees how the spiritual health of New Covenant Church has a direct impact on the town of Fairhaven. Making a direct connection in the story to the Book of Habakkuk in the Bible, God's blessings are withheld when the town's people put themselves and other things before Him. When the people decide to put God first in their lives again, His blessings return.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I actually don't stick to one genre of writing, which I know is a big no-no for writers, but I cannot help myself. I've written stories that are based in science fiction, fantasy, historical, adventure, and romance. I'm your proverbial Jack of all trades, but master of none. I guess the reason for this is that I think of a story first, and then decide what is the best genre it should be told. What works for one doesn’t work for another. It is always my desire to have my stories touch people, and I ask myself what is the best way I can do this. Which genre I choose largely determines this. If I want action, I go the thriller or sci-fi route. If the story needs to be more character-driven, then I go more in the romance direction. It’s as simple as that for me.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
I would think most writers wished they had more time to write. As I talked about in a previous question, most writers work, which means they are allotted nights, weekends and holidays to do their writing. In my case, it’s not time, but sales of books. I have been fortunate enough to publish five novels in the past five years, for which I am extremely grateful. The problem for me is selling those same books. I knew this would be the difficult part when I first decided to become an author. On an average year, over 200,000 books are published. That’s a lot of competition, and it takes a great deal of work to set your book apart from all the others. That means doing interviews, book signings, author events, speaking engagements, writers conferences, and the like. The reward for me is when someone tells me they enjoyed my story. That’s why I got into writing in the first place.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
There’s nothing in the story that actually happened to me, however, my wife graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco in 1987, and worked in restaurants for years. It is not a stretch to say she loves food. She also has a passion for gardening, which she does regularly. Those are two character traits shared by a lot of people, and so I decided to include them in the story, such as interests for several characters in the story, along with a plot point or two.

How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
The main protagonist in the story is Dana Rogers, and I would say the two of us are very similar people. She tends to be an introvert, as I am. And as such, we prefer to spend our time in solitude than with other people. We both take great pride in our work, and have a mutual love of history. I think Dana is a little braver than I am, however. When the church she works at realizes there has been a steady drop in attendance, she is given the job of reaching out to the townspeople in an effort to woo them back. Despite her misgivings, Dana agrees to do this. Me, I think I would be less enthusiastic. I am not a confrontational person by nature, and don’t like to point out areas in people’s lives that are lacking in some way. She also has a love of food I don’t. I basically eat to live. She lives to eat.

What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
Since I generally create most of the elements in my stories from my imagination, I don’t do too much research. If, however, I touch upon a fact or actual event, or something the reader would know to be true about a person or place, then I usually go on the Internet, get the information I need, and include it in the story. The rest I make up.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Yes, they do. I have been a Christian for over 30 years, and I would much rather focus on what builds us up, not tears us down. With that said, I do touch upon the darker sides of characters as the story warrants. That is what is required of me as a writer. If I wrote only about us getting along, without any obstacles for the characters to overcome, that would be a really boring story, I have found the best way to handle violent or sexual moments is to I hint at them rather than explicitly describe them. In the end, I believe it makes for a more powerful story this way. What we imagine is usually far more intense than what I can put on the page. It’s like the old adage—less is more.

What about your book makes it special?
I believe every book I write is special. The same goes for all the other books you find in bookstores and libraries. An author had a story to tell, which is different from any other story ever told. The character you’re introduced to is not quite like any other character ever written, nor will there ever be in the future. That is what books worth reading.

What is your marketing plan?
Like any hopeful author, I tell everyone who will listen to me about my books. That has meant attending conventions, book signings, sending e-mails to friends and family, not to mention getting to know people with similar interests on websites, and doing radio interviews. It takes a lot of work getting the word out about one’s book, much more than I expected, so I appreciate the opportunity you've given me to share my stories with your audience.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
The best place to learn about me and the stories I’ve written is on my website:

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
This may sound like a cliché, but it all comes down to good writing. Every story needs memorable characters you can connect with, and a story that is engaging. That is what hooks agents, publishers and readers. You can have the best reputation in the world, but if the story’s no good, then it won’t be published. It’s as plain as that. I also realize that every hopeful author is competing against every other hopeful author out there. You can have a story that’s really good, but if a publisher is looking at ten other books that are just as good, probably only one with be chosen. They only have so many slots open, and a lot of quality work gets rejected. It’s just the way it is. The trick is to find any way to get your work published. That can be newspaper articles, short stories, magazine articles, whatever you can do that will add to your writing resume. Be creative.  The more you set yourself apart from other authors, the easier it will be for you to get your story published.

What’s in the future for you?
I recently finished my next novel, a sci-fi story entitled, After the Sky Fell. It is a sequel to my first novel, which has been a long time coming. The publisher hasn’t indicated when it will be coming out yet, so I will have to keep you posted. I’ve been talking with another writer I know the past few months about a collaborative effort for another novel. This one will also be a sci-fi story, one we’re both very excited about. He and I have worked primarily with small publishers, which has been a good experience for us, but we’re ready to reach a wider audience. The best way to make that happen is working with a big name publisher, and our hope is that this story gets us launched on the national stage.


Everyone deserves a second chance in life, no matter how unlikely. Dana Rogers learns this powerful truth while she serves as the pastor's assistant at New Covenant Church, the center of community life in the town of Fairhaven for the past two hundred years. There she has caught the eye of Evan Johnson, a successful real estate agent and kindred spirit. But the tragic death of her fiance has wounded her so deeply she has vowed never to love another man again, including Evan.

A steady decline in church attendance in recent months has become a source of concern for Dana, which if not stopped she fears could have an adverse affect on the town. Despite Dana’s strong objections, Evan helps her work through the pain of her loss, developing a relationship with her neither of them thought possible. In a stunning turn of events, New Covenant Church suffers a devastating setback, one that threatens to undo everything Dana has worked to save, including the first sparks of a relationship with Evan.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

H. K. Carlton, You Found Me

AUTHOR: H K Carlton                 
BOOK TITLE:  You Found Me
PUBLISHER:  MuseItUp Publishing

Tell me a little about your book.

You Found Me is a historical romance and your classic love triangle. Take two men, add a damsel in distress throw in a little mystery and you have the perfect formula for turmoil and heartache. What makes the situation a little more complicated is the two men involved are brothers.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?

This story began with the tangled triad between the three major players but as I developed the characters the relationship between the brothers took over, for me. (But any one who follows me, even just a little, knows that I have a fascination for brothers, but that’s another story) LOL. Marcus Sunderland, the Duke of Carlton reared in England and his half-brother Laird Niall Lummisden, raised in Scotland, are two very different but captivating men. Despite the political and cultural ramifications they choose to make the relationship work. There is mutual love and respect between them, which makes the growing rivalry all the more disconcerting.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am a part-time writer. I do have other responsibilities, luckily those I can accomplish from home for the most part. I try to spend the majority of the morning, replying to e-mails, promotion and blogging while I attempt to fit in the rest of my duties. I write or edit during the afternoon, when possible. I also like to write at night, when everything else has settled down.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I am an avid reader (well, I was when I had the time) and I have always written for my own enjoyment but I’d have to say only in the last four years have I taken my manuscripts seriously, or even referred to them as such. To that point, I hadn’t shared my stories with anyone else. It wasn’t until I completed You Found Me that I thought that maybe I had something special this time. I approached my sister and she offered to read it. That in of itself, was a big step for me. Luckily, she loved it. With her encouragement, You Found Me was the first manuscript that I sent out to potential publishers.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?

I hope the story and the characters are memorable. When I find a book that I love; I remember the characters if not the entire story. And the ones you love kind of stick with you. I hope You Found Me stays with some readers. That would be cool.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?

I write erotic, historical and contemporary romance. I enjoy writing in all genres; I don’t have a preference.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?

The toughest part for me so far, has been promotion. I didn’t realize how time consuming and detailed it might be. I am learning as I go. I also find writing a blurb or synopsis difficult. I tend to be wordy, so taking a 147,000-word manuscript and summing it up in 200 words or less, or even down to five pages—not my thing.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

The brothers are loosely based on people that I know. Some of the character traits might be familiar, if they only knew.

How much is your protagonist like you? How different?

Unfortunately, the female lead and I do have several traits and experiences in common; but none that I would like to disclose.

What kind of research did you do for this type of story?

When I was strictly a reader, I read mostly historical romance—the more Scottish/British the better. Several of my family members were also born in the UK. Some things I knew at the onset from personal knowledge and from reading, but geography and costuming a time period piece took a little research and some help from my fabulous editors.  In addition, writing the phonetic dialogue for Niall was a little tricky for a novice. I also hadn’t realized how authentic and accurate historicals needed to be. While I was writing You Found Me, I didn’t give it an exact date stamp for that very reason. It is a work of fiction; I didn’t want a specific era to give readers any preconceived notions or opinions for the period or the characters.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?

The highly sexual scenes don’t bother me at all given that I also write erotic romance. But sometimes I find the violent scenes or highly emotional ones a little demanding. I get involved with my characters at times. But I’m learning to let go with more ease now that there are so many characters running around. I don’t have as much time to dwell before moving on to the next project.

What about your book makes it special?

I think the relationships forged in the book make it special. It is a character driven story.

What is your marketing plan?

Marketing Plan…I’m on the Trial and Error plan. Lol. I promote using Twitter and Triberr and I have a blog where I post my own news and host some guests. I am slowly acquiring a following, but finding the time to fit everything in is challenging.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
From my publishers MuseItUp Publishing and Total-E Bound. People can also check out my blog Pick a Genre Already or follow me on Twitter I’m also on Facebook and Goodreads or Amazon

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?

Don’t give up. If you don’t find a publisher right away for your work, learn, make it better and try again. Eventually, you will find a place and the right publisher.

What’s in the future for you?

For the month of February, along with You Found Me (MuseItUp), I also have an erotic time-travel novel entitled Lost Time (Total-E-Bound) being released.
And coming out in April I have another historical romance The Devil Take You also from MuseItUp as well as an erotic short story from Total-E-Bound, Streetlight People, my first ménage piece.
I’m also working on several projects in various stages of completion.

Blurb ~ You Found Me
Injured, lost and alone what more could a girl ask for than to be rescued by a roguish Scottish Laird and a proper English Duke.

Marcus Sunderland reared in England, groomed from birth to be the Duke of Carlton. He is everything a proper English gentleman should be. Unwaveringly loyal to his liege and childhood playmate Queen Elnor, devoted to his people and his country.

Laird Niall Lummisden of clan Logan in Lomond Scotland is everything a roguish Scottish Laird should be. Dedicated to his clan. Friendly, easygoing, born with confident swagger, he is the complete antithesis to his English half-brother Marcus. 

As the brothers travel to a royal engagement they discover a woman left for dead in the road, beaten beyond recognition. Decreed by his Queen, Marcus must take the stranger back to his estate to recover from her injuries. The unidentified woman not only survives the vicious attack, but as she begins to heal and communicate, struggling to recall her life before they found her, both men are intrigued and attracted to her.

The Duke and the Laird have survived a lifetime of cultural and political differences, but will the brothers survive her?

Excerpt: You Found Me
Nor’s face ran the gamut of emotions at once. She surged to her feet, turning to him and grabbing his arms with surprising strength. Her eyes darted wildly from side to side. “Carlton, you must…” She swallowed quickly and nodded her head.
“You must take her. Get her away from here. Tonight. This night. Take her away from here,” she repeated.
Marcus struggled to gather her against him to comfort her, but she pushed at him. “Do not!”
“Nor, calm down. Tell me why this woman bears the same mark as you, and we’ll figure this out. She cannot be moved this night. She would not survive the travel. Be she kin?”
“Do not question me, Carlton. Do as I ask. Take her home with you. Take her to Tranmere. Keep her there until I can figure this out.” She swiped at her brow. “Prepare her to travel as best you can, Janess, and hurry.”
“Right away, Highness.” Janess went to the door and requested help from the other women.
Elnor bent quickly and rubbed dirt onto the wrist of the mystery woman. She grabbed Marcus by the arm and guided him from the hut.
“Who is she, Nor?”
“I do not know. This could all be a plot. Just get her away from here. I do not need any more scandal around me right now. For now, just do as I say. I will reward you greatly when this is over.” She walked away from him swiftly.
Puzzled, his gaze followed Nor’s retreating figure. Never had he seen her act this way in all the long years he had known her.
Niall approached him, apparently mistaking the look on his brother’s face.
“Has she gone?” He frowned trying to look over his brother’s shoulder into the darkened hut.
“No, no.” Shaking his head in denial, Marcus clapped a comforting hand on Niall’s shoulder.
“Nor wants me to take her to Tranmere. Now!”
“Now?” Niall’s voice rose incredulously. “She’ll die fer sure! She canna be moved again!”
“I know this, but I cannot disobey my queen.” He faced his brother, hands turned palms up, shaking his head as if asking for another solution.
Niall walked quickly toward the castle, chuntering in Gaelic. Marcus was not fluent in his brother’s tongue, but he did recognize the phrase “not my queen” in his limited understanding of the language. Marcus had to sprint to catch up to him. He grabbed his brother’s shoulder, spinning him back around.
Niall turned, ready to fight. “Your queen,” he sneered, “is no’ always, righ’!”
“Oh, so if you stormin’ up there gets you beheaded, me thrown in the dungeon, then that poor girl,” he pointed, “still gets no help. Is that what you want?”
All the bluster went out of Niall. “I’ll go find our horses. I’m sure we’re gonna need ’em to attend a burial this eve.” He stomped past Marcus back toward the village.
Marcus paced, as he tended to do when he needed to think. He lost track of time as he pondered the possibilities. He did not know how much time had passed when he heard horsemen approaching. He looked up to see one of the queen’s coaches and fifty or so soldiers appear on the road before him.
“Your Grace,” the captain nodded formally from atop his horse. “We are to escort you to Tranmere.”
Marcus nodded, then followed on foot as a multitude of questions tumbled through his mind. What was Nor keeping from him? What sort of plot might be afoot surrounding this girl that warranted fifty soldiers as escort? ’Twas overkill, in his opinion. More a mission in futility. The woman would surely succumb to her injuries as they travelled. Marcus scrubbed his chin absentmindedly as he contemplated the symbols on their wrists. From what he’d observed, the markings were indeed similar; only the lettering differed, and the mystery girl’s appeared more crude, perhaps disfigured in her attempt to fend off her attackers. What danger was Nor so afraid of that she felt she could not share her thoughts with him?
Marcus and Nor had spent most of their childhood together, their parents close. He had thought he knew everything about her and her family, descendents of kings. Damn it!
He should storm the castle himself and demand she answer his questions, given that it was he who was putting himself and his brother into the path of who-knew-what by taking the girl with them, along with a royal guard in tow. He would not be able to get near Nor now, she’d made her decision. Given him his orders. Sent her guards. ’Twas done.
By the time Marcus had cleaned up and sufficiently filled his belly enough to ride again, his burden was already loaded into the royal coach.
Niall was mounted and joking with the English knights, none of his contempt for their queen evident. Marcus went to mount his horse as well, but Niall’s voice stopped him.
“Are ya no’ ridin’ with the lass?”
“No. I am no nursemaid, nor do I wish to ride with a corpse.”
Niall vaulted off his horse and threw his reins at Marcus, all in one fluid motion.
“Then I will. She’ll no’ die alone this nigh’!” He yanked open the door of the coach and climbed inside. Marcus watched as Niall gingerly situated himself, then re-positioned the girl so her head was cushioned against his chest. He wrapped his large arms around her. The space was cramped now, with Niall’s big body in there. He reached in and covered the pair with a blanket and wondered why he was ever surprised by his brother’s behaviour. Niall grumbled with revulsion something about riding inside the English queen's coach. Marcus began to chuckle at his brother's discomfiture when the young woman mumbled a pathetic sounding "Thank you," against Niall's chest.
"Ah, Sweet," Niall breathed, in apparent empathy.
Marcus closed the door with the knowledge that if the poor thing were conscious then she had just witnessed them predict her demise.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jake Needham, The Umbrella Man

AUTHOR:     Jake Needham
PUBLISHER:     Marshall Cavendish Int'l (print editions), and Half Penny Ltd (digital editions)

Please tell us about yourself?
I'm a lawyer who became a screenwriter through a series of accidents too unbelievable to describe. After ten years or so of writing mostly for American cable television, I realized how little I actually liked television so I thought I'd see if I could figure out how to write novels instead. I've since published six international crime thrillers that have sold several hundred thousand copies, so I guess that worked out okay for me.

Tell us your latest news?
I just published THE UMBRELLA MAN. It's my sixth novel and the second book featuring Inspector Samuel Tay of Singapore CID. Sam is a character I like a lot. He's a little lonely, a little overweight, a little grumpy, and he has a way of pissing people off, but he's a damned fine detective and a good man.

THE UMBRELLA MAN is an effort to combine an international thriller with a traditional police procedural. It's a small scale story set against a large scale background. "Jake Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice," the Bangkok Post said. I always try to live up to that.

When and why did you begin writing?
It was an accident, honest.  I was involved in a complicated corporate merger and ended up responsible for a very modest little Hollywood production company that was making cable TV movies. In an effort to focus the company more tightly on what I thought it could do well, I dashed off an outline of the kind of movie I wanted the company to make. A copy of my outline somehow got sent to one of the cable networks and they called up and asked me to make it for them.
Make what? I asked. That film you wrote the treatment for, they said.
And that was how I became a screenwriter…

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It took a while. It seems to me that 'writer' isn't a title you bestow on yourself. It's a status that's earned, and other people will tell you when you've earned it. I had done half a dozen movies before I stopped being embarrassed when people referred to me as a writer.

What inspired you to write your first book?
The realization that movies were boring the unholy crap out of me. I reached a point at which I couldn't stand sitting through another movie. I still can't, really. So if I wanted to keep writing, I had to find another vehicle. I had no idea whether I could figure out how to write novels or not, but I thought I'd give it a try. It's worked out pretty well.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No. I don't do message. I write novels that I hope will engage you, interest you, and intrigue you. That's all I do, and if I can succeed at that I figure I've done enough. You can get all the messages you want from The New York Times.

Are experiences in your books based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)
My books are well known for being drawn from real events. A lot of reviewers have even remarked on it. CNN said my books have a "ripped from the headlines" feel, and The Wall Street Journal said that "much of the fun in reading Needham's books is trying to decide how much of what is in them is based on fact and how much is the product of the author's imagination."
THE BIG MANGO was based on some odd occurrences when Saigon fell to the invading North Vietnamese in 1975; LAUNDRY MAN drew on the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce in the 90's, a bizarre financial institution that was also known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals. A WORLD OF TROUBLE grew out of a military coup in Thailand which drove a popular prime minister into exile in Dubai and led to upheaval in the streets there; and so on.
I tell a story in the foreword to A WORLD OF TROUBLE about a retired intelligence officer who tried to get me to tell him how I had found out about a secret operation that turned up in one of my books. I explained to him that I hadn't found out about anything, that I had simply made up the events that he was talking about. I don't think he really believed me. That's the thing about writing crime thrillers set in Asia. You can't make anything up. Whatever you think you made up, one of these days someone will come up to you and tell you it really happened. Or maybe that it's about to happen.

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
I just finished Stephen Hunter's new entry in his Bob Lee Swagger series, THE THIRD BULLET. It's a remarkable weaving of the Kennedy assassination into a contemporary thriller. You can question whether the plot really hangs together, I suppose, but the voices of the major characters are remarkable. It's truly excellent, wholly engaging writing.

What are your current projects?
I'm just finishing a new Jack Shepherd to follow on after LAUNDRY MAN, KILLING PLATO, and A WORLD OF TROUBLE. This one is a novella called THE MACAU JOB that's about a casino robbery in Macau. I've never tried a novella before so it's something new for me.

Do you ever have problems with writers block?  If so how do you get through it?
There's no such thing as writer's block, at least not for a professional writer. Look, writing is a job.  John Gregory Dunne said that writing is manual labor of the mind, it's laying pipe. You just show up every day and do your job. Whining about so-called writer's block is something professional writers don't do.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yeah. Sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard of your choice, and do it.  I'm sick to death of people talking about writing, studying writing, analyzing writing. That's all malarkey. You DO writing. That's all there is to it.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My print editions are published by Marshall Cavendish, a UK publisher owned by a Singaporean media group, and my digital editions are published by Half Penny Ltd, a digital publisher based in Hong Kong. Marshall Cavendish distributes my print editions in Europe, Asia, and the UK. They're not sold in either North America or Australia. My digital editions are of course sold worldwide by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and everybody else.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

My website –

My Letters from Asia , which offer a little personal background on the places and things that appear in my novels, appear every couple of weeks and are posted online here -


The first bomb cracked the Hilton like an egg; the second gutted the lobby of the Marriott; and the third peeled the front off the Grand Hyatt. Three massive explosions, all at American hotels in the heart of the city, and all within a few horrifying seconds. Hundreds are dead and thousands are injured. Singapore is bleeding.

Inspector Samuel Tay is a senior inspector in the Special Investigation Section of Singapore CID, but he is frozen out of this investigation from the beginning. He's made serious enemies in Singapore's Internal Security Department, and he has even more enemies at the American embassy, so Tay is assigned routine cases while his colleagues join with the CIA and the FBI in a feverish search for the bombers.

Three days after the explosions, the smell of death still sticky in the city's air, Tay is sent to a run-down apartment near the Malaysian border where two children have found the body of a Caucasian male with a broken neck. Tay feels an immediate connection with the dead man, although he doesn't think he has ever seen him before.

As Tay searches the dead man's past for clues to who he was and who his killer might have been, Tay's own past begins to give up its secrets. A long-dead father he can barely remember reaches out of the grave to point to the truth about both the murdered man and the bombings. And the horror of Singapore's destruction becomes a personal horror for Samuel Tay.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo, Normal for Norfolk

AUTHOR: Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo
BOOK TITLE: Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)
PUBLISHER: Thelonious T. Bear Books
Amazon USA

Amazon UK:

Amazon Canada:

Tell me a little about your book.
Mitzi: Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) is the first in a new series I’ve co-authored with my celebrity sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo. It’s a quirky crime novel slash cozy mystery featuring Thelonious T. Bear, a photojournalist who happens to be a bear. However, he’s not like others in his species. Thelonious drives a Mini Cooper, wears a deerstalker hat, and even uses cologne. He’s also a big fan of jazz musician Charlie Parker. In this debut novel, we find Thelonious leaving behind life in the big city (in this case London) to take a photojournalism assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he hopes to make a new life for himself. He just wants peace and quiet, a simple life. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get it. Instead he stumbles upon a series of brutal murders of village pub landlords. He ends up becoming the sole suspect, thanks to the inept Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID. While all this is happening, we have a side story running featuring Vinnie and Desmond Clark, a pair of thugs from London’s East End who fancy themselves the modern-day Kray Brothers. How they inevitably connect to Thelonious is something you’ll have to find out for yourself. The novel contains a slew of quirky characters such as Fag-stain Man, Zimmer-frame Granny, a beekeeper, a frisky B&B landlady, a grumpy vicar, and a pub owner who serves up pheasant road kill.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Mitzi: The idea for the protagonist Thelonious T. Bear was already in mind, inspired by Teddy Tedaloo, of course! The actual storyline came about during a stay in rural Norfolk. In fact, almost the entire plot took shape while we were in a village pub drinking some local ale and chatting with a vicar at the next table. He found his way into the book, albeit with a grumpy personality!

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Mitzi: I am a full-time writer, yes, though that also includes being a marketer and promoter and manager and administrative assistant. These days you have to wear a lot of hats if you hope to tread water. If you’re really lucky, you won’t sink! It’s impossible to organize my writing time. I constantly struggle to find blocks of time in which to write, since there’s always so much else to get done. That isn’t even including the normal tasks and annoyances of daily life!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Mitzi: I’m not sure I knew specifically that I wanted to be a writer, but I did know that I wanted to be a creative artist of some sort. Although I’ve always been good at writing, professionally I could have gone into writing, art or music. As a child I was juggling all three and could have taken any of these directions, but the writing is the thing that eventually took off. So I took off along with it.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Mitz: I would like to hope that they find themselves transported to another world through the protagonist, who is a unique entity unto himself, being a bear and all. Although the book is a cozy mystery/quirky crime novel, there’s quite a bit of social commentary in it too, not to mention humor. Maybe it will get readers to see the world from another perspective—albeit one much nearer to the ground!

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Mitzi: I work in many areas and am continually expanding into new genres and blending together genres I’ve already worked in. For instance, my other recent release Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire is epic-style fantasy spiced with the erotic. It’s not the first time I’ve delved into fantasy; my short story collection In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales is another example, but utilizing the fairy tale motif. I’ve ventured into parody—in this case sex parody—with Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance is Gothic fiction, paranormal romance and sensuality all rolled into one. Getting Even: Revenge Stories is in the crime area and Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers is speculative fiction with an erotic twist. As for favorite genres, I’d have to say Gothic and quirky crime, which is probably a good thing, since the plan is to write more novels in The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles series. As for the Gothic, I’m working right now on a new anthology with a Gothic theme.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Mitzi: Trying to make a living! And there’s no way to get past it—you just try not to think about it too much, because if you do, you’ll end up accomplishing nothing.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Mitzi: Not so much an actual event, but more so little vignettes that actually happened to us during our stay in Norfolk. I already mentioned the vicar, but there are also scenes in the book that played out very close to reality, such as the scene with the show-off patrons and snooty barmaid in the gastro-pub and the scene with the amorously minded dog at yet another pub. An awful lot in Norfolk seems to happen in pubs. Mind you, that’s probably true of Britain in general.

How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Mitzi: The protagonist Thelonious T. Bear is very much like my co-author, Teddy Tedaloo. Aside from the obvious (both of them being bears), they both have little patience for fools and foolish behavior. They also tend to grumble a lot, though that’s because they see things for what they really are rather than go through life with blinders on like most people seem to do. There’s a lot to be said for bears. They just aren’t into all the pretense and nonsense that humans are.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Mitzi: I write all kinds of scenes, and many of my books do have a lot of sexual content in them. I am a writer, so it’s my job to create all kinds of scenes, therefore it doesn’t bother me per se, providing there’s a legitimate reason for them to be there. But I’m not a huge fan of inserting violence or sex just for the hell of it. They should be there for a reason and for the development and advancement of the storyline and characters. We see this sort of thing overdone in film – ie lots of extreme violence that doesn’t really need to be there. The same goes for sex. It’s all been contrived for no reason other than to shock and grab attention; it really doesn’t advance the art form at all.

What about your book makes it special?
Mitzi: The main character is just so one-of-a-kind. I mean, how many professional photojournalist bears have you heard of—especially ones that drive Mini Coopers, drink real ale, and listen to Charlie Parker? I’ll wager not a lot! The fact that Thelonious seems to have consistent bad luck (being a murder suspect isn’t exactly “lucky”) is something many can identify with—such as always being in the wrong place at the wrong time, not necessarily the murder part!

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Mitzi: I’d suggest checking out my various websites and social media profiles. I have quite a lot going on, including my blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog and even a Web TV channel, Mitzi TV, which covers the quirky side of London. Links can be found beneath this interview.

What’s in the future for you?
Mitzi:  I’m working on three books as we speak! The first is an edgy and steamy Gothic-themed novel that’s a sequel to a classic work of literature. It’s called Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray, and it will be out in autumn 2013. I’m also doing two short story anthologies: Love, Lust and Zombies and Darker Edge of Desire, the latter being the one with the Gothic theme. If you have any short story writers out there who might be interested in submitting material to me, they can find the specs at Once I’ve got these projects delivered, I hope to get cracking with Teddy on the next novel in The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles. We already have the setting and plotline all worked out and we can’t wait to get started!

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles):

Mitzi Szereto website:

Mitzi Szereto on Twitter:

Teddy Tedaloo on Twitter:

Mitzi Szereto Facebook fan page:

Teddy Tedaloo Facebook fan page:

Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog:

Mitzi Szereto MySpace:

Normal for Norfolk

Pub landlords are being murdered in Norfolk! Thelonious T. Bear, ursine photojournalist, leaves behind the big city life of London to take an assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he hopes to find the real England. Instead he stumbles upon gastro-pubs, crazed Audi drivers and murder. As the hapless Thelonious keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, he attracts the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID, who's determined to tie Thelonious to the crimes. Add in a pair of hoods from London's East End, celebrity TV chef Paolo Louis Black, and plenty of oddball local characters and it all adds up to a madcap journey through England's most quirky county, where everything is normal for Norfolk!