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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Silver Sphere

Today I'd like to introduce you to author Michael Dadich, who is doing a Super Book Blast Tour with Goddess Fish Promotions.

Michael has been writing since first setting pencil to steno pad at age 8. A year later, he began developping the world of his current series-in-progress, and even created its title, The Silver Sphere. Now, with the support of years of experience, those early maps and back stories have progressed into what he hopes is a fresh and entertaining take on the classic young adult fantasy adventure.


Despite his frequent escapes into parallel worlds, Michael roots himself firmly in his very real family and community. When not pacing the yard manically after every few pages of writing, he spends as much time as possible hanging out with his studly 9-year-old son, and his inspirational wife Jenna. He also coaches several local youth sports teams in Beverly Hills, and alternates between yelling at his two crazy Corgis and hiking with his trained German Shepherd.

For more, join him in his favorite fantasy world, from Lord of the Rings to the creations of C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey and Terry Brooks. Even more importantly, stop by and say hello on his Facebook page at AuthorMichaelDadich, tweet him @MichaelDadich, and stalk his website at http://www.thesilversphere.org



What is The Silver Sphere about?

Shelby Pardow never imagined she could kill someone. All she wants to do is hide from her troubled father... when she is teleported to awaiting soldiers on the planet Azimuth. Here she is not a child, but Kin to one of the six Aulic Assembly members whom Malefic Cacoethes has drugged and imprisoned. He seeks to become dictator of this world (and then Earth by proxy).

His father, Biskara, is an evil celestial entity, tracked by the Assembly with an armillary device, The Silver Sphere. With the Assembly now deposed, Biskara directs Malefic and the Nightlanders to their strategic targets. Unless...

Can Shelby find the other Kin, and develop courage and combat skills? Can the Kin reassemble in time to release or replace the Assembly, overthrowing Malefic and restraining Biskara?

If you want to find out, hurry up and read this novel!

And don't forget: Michael will be awarding a $75 Amazon or BN.com GC to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour - so be sure to leave your comment!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

What do you wish for the new year?

2012 has not been the best of years for me and my sister. I had some concerns regarding my health (high blood pressure, a heart that beats too fast at times, ...) which have luckily been resolved by proper medication and learning how to deal with stress.

But in February I nearly lost my sister - which would have left me all alone. We were on a ski trip in Switzerland and had been skiing the entire morning. We took a break for lunch (a lengthy one, because the sun was out and it was lovely sitting on a terrace) and resumed skiing by 1.30 pm. We first did a black (or diamond, as they call them in the USA) run without any problem and then decided to go down to the main station to begin the descent all down the mountain. On one of the easier slopes my sister just fell head down into the snow. When I reached her, she was not yet moving. I dug out my cell phone, but by that time somebody had stopped as well. He was a ski teacher and he immediately felt for a pulse - which he did not find. Right then I assumed the fall had been fatal. I only learnt afterwards that it is possible not to feel a pulse on one side of the neck. A Tut a quarter of an hour later my sister began to move and to speak very incoherently. She did not know what had happened. She was taken to the local hospital, where they gave her one test after the other, but the doctors also could not find anything. It was not the blood pressure, nothing with the heart, ...
Still, it was a right scare. To make it worse, it was already the second time Chris almost died. The year before she was eating fries when one of them got caught in her throat, and if I had not been able to get it out by hitting her hard in the back, she would have suffocated.

So what I wish for 2013 is that both of us can stay healthy. Also that we don't have any big problems with the house or the flat. Because when something occurs it is always a big cost. I've just had a new kitchen and bathroom, so my funds are low. And Chris had some problems with the heating at the flat.

Secretly I hope that one day I'll scratch one of those lottery tickets and see that I've won a tidy sum (10,000 € would be grand)... Or better still, that I win Win for Life, which means you get 2,000 € a month for as long as you live.

What are your wishes or intentions for the new year?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Historium in Bruges

We've just returned from a day to Bruges, one of the eldest cities in our country. We took the train of 9.13 in Heist, which brought us to Bruges in 14 minutes. From the railway station we made the (short) walk to the town center, with the Market Place as main attraction. There we visited the new attraction Historium.


Historium brings you back to the year 1435, in an experience where you can see, hear and smell. It tells the story of Jacob, who is apprentice of the famous painter Jan Van Eyck. He has to accompany the master's new model to the studio... and some things you wrong. The tour tells you what happens to Jacob and his Anna, in seven different scenes.


The only remark I had was not the acting (it is superb, all well-known actors) but the speech they used. As someone who studied medieval literature it went wrong with me how they spoke. They did not use modern day language then!

This aside, it is certainly an attraction worth its money (11 Euro for an adult). When you leave, you have the opportunity to drink one of Belgium's many beers, or taste some handmade chocolates....


After our visit to Historium, we went for lunch. Also a nice discovery (booked online): Bistro Mario in the Dweersstraat (close to the Market). For only 87€ we had a cava for cocktail, homemade tomato soup, a fish pan (five different sorts of fish in a very good sauce) along with handcut fries and a good salad, to end with an Irish coffee and wine and water.

At long last we did some shopping - bought ourselves dresses for New Year's Eve and also a clock for our living room.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Novels by Susanna Kearsley

A couple of years ago, while being in London, I picked up a copy of Susanna Kearsley's first novel, Mariana. I did not know anything about the author, only bought the book because the blurb on the backcover appealed to me.


And yes, the novel was a great read. Mariana is about a modern day woman who goes to live in a 17th century house and meets a ghost - that of a Cavalier in the Civil War. Needless to say a nice love story develops...

More recently, while browsing the Amazon shop for other good reads, I happened upon the novels of Susanna Kearsley once more and decided to buy a couple of them. I've got The Shadowy Horses, Every Secret Thing and The Rose Garden.

Every of these books is just lovely to read. If you are interested in history, want a good romantic story and some mystery and don't care about time-travel, then you must certainly read them too.

The Shadowy Horses is the story of archeological research about the lost Seventh Legion. A friend of the heroine is sure he has located the remains of this lost legion. Despite their searches, they don't find anything, unless the son of the housekeeper tells of his meetings with an real legionair!

Every Secret Thing is about the Canadian secret service during World War II.  A young woman sets out to find the buried secrets, to find out also her life is in danger.

The Rose Garden finally is about the Jacobite rebellion in 1715. Eva returns to the place where she was happy as a child and wants to help her friends out of financial problems. They want to make their home available to the public, and a ghost would help! But then Eva meets real ones... and one of them is a very cute guy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jack Taylor, ex-guard

Quite recently I watched the first episode of the Irish series Jack Taylor, based on the novels of Ken Bruen.

I love to watch such detective series, just as I like to read thrillers and detective novels. "Jack Taylor" was a nice discovery. It played after Lewis (another great series). You always think they can't do any better, but this Irish drama was more than worth viewing.


Jack Taylor once belonged to The Guards (the Irish police) but he's made redundant because he gives a speeding ticket to the chief of police (and when this one laughs at it, he gets a fist into his face). Now I just love such a kind of man! Not meaning I condone violence, but when someone gets to me I don't think - just act. I've once given a guy who wanted to rape me two black eyes, one broken nose and some missing teeth by a blow with a hammer on stand-by. That was in the 1980's when I was living in Germany and had a room in a house full of young officers. They were warned: when one of them dared to enter my room (the locks were worthless) I'd give them hell... I only had to do it once, the rest took care to leave me alone from then on.

So this Jack is a man after my liking. Of course he has some faults: he smokes and he drinks heavily. But he has the heart at the right place and when someone is in need of help he does what he can. Not always following the rules of law, but rather his own.

I've not yet the novels, but I intend to. I always buy the books once I've seen a TV-series, and quite often the books are even better.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas everyone

On Christmas Eve, I'd like to take the opportunity to wish everyone who reads this blog a Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the day, share love and friendship and don't overdo on food and drink.

Here in Belgium Christmas will not be a fine day for lots of people who suffer from floodings. I've read they have the same problems in Great-Britain. Here at the coast it's stormy and we expect rain, but there won't be any big problems. I still haven't heard from my neighbor, who looks after my house in Dendermonde. She calls me when there's something wrong. As long as I don't hear from her, we can assume all is well.

My sister has her birthday today. She's become 52. She doesn't think it's bad to have your birthday on Christmas Eve, as she gets twice the load of presents!!!

Have a fine day, everyone.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Getting ready for Christmas

Despite the lousy weather (it's been raining very hard and there's a strong gale here at the coast) we've been shopping (shops were open this Sunday, always are this time of year) because my sister wanted to start preparations for the Christmas dinner.

She's a great cook, and this year she's going to make a venison stew as main course. We bought the meat and the ingredients for the marinade already today, and the pot is in the fridge now. The meat needs to marinate for at least 24 hours.

We'll do the last bit of shopping tomorrow morning, and let's hope the waiting won't be too long. It will probably be very busy in the supermarket. We still need to buy our wines, some vegetables and something for dessert.

Our flat is nicely decorated with a little tree (can't place a big one, lack of space!) and other decorations, and we plan to dine with candle light.

What are your plans for tomorrow?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nickie's Ten Questions to Karen Kay

Remember my blog about Native American culture, from some days ago? Well, recently I did an interview with Karen Kay, who writes the most lovely romances in which Native Americans play a main role.



Ms. Kay was very responsive and glad to have the opportunity to show her work. Here's the interview:

1) Did you always wanted to be a writer?

No, not always. Although I've loved literature all my life, early this lifetime I was trained in classical music -- playing piano and clarinet. I always thought that I would do something with music, but was disillusioned with the field when, in college, I learned that many of the musicians I was hanging out with were on drugs. This scared me a little and I had second thoughts about going into the music business.

2) Why did you pick romance as your genre, and not anything else?

I loved the old Emily Loring stories when I was in school. Then, when my kids were young, I began to read romance again as a sort of escape. I grew to love the genre and eventually tried my hand at writing one. Let me define romance, however, as the word is being changed into something it never was before. Nowadays the word "romance" is sometimes being used to encompass unusual sexual experiences, ones which might cause the God of the Bible to shudder. But when I started writing the genre, romance was defined as the love between one man and one woman, who have problems with each other, but work through them to a happy-ever-after. The stories are often stories of chivalry and great adventures. Noah Webster defines romance in his 1828 dictionary as follows:

Romance
n. romans', ro'mans.

1. A fabulous relation or story of adventures and incidents, designed for the entertainment of readers; a tale of extraordinary adventures, fictitious and often extravagant, usually a tale of love or war, subjects interesting the sensibilities of the heart, or the passions of wonder and curiosity. Romance differs from the novel, as it treats of great actions and extraordinary adventures; that is, according to the Welch signification, it vaults or soars beyond the limits of fact and real life, and often of probability.

The first romances were a monstrous assemblage of histories, in which truth and fiction were blended without probability; a composition of amorous adventures and the extravagant ideas of chivalry.

2. A fiction.

Romance, v.i. romans', ro'mans. To forge and tell fictitious stories; to deal in extravagant stories.
3) You have a greatgrandmother who is Native American. How much of that heritage is in your blood?

I'm not entirely certain. I know that my great-grandmother was Choctaw Indian -- I have some pictures of her on an old computer. How much Choctaw blood she brought to the family we don't know. We only know that she was Choctaw Indian and proud of it, as was my own grandmother.

4) How long did it take to finish your first book, and have it published?

When I first started writing, I was working as a Realtor in Vermont and worked about a 65 hour work week. But I took off every Thursday and wrote to my heart's content -- that was the schedule I kept in writing my first novel -- and it took me about a year to finish the book on that schedule.

5) How do you deal with criticism?

A very, very successful author once told me that she didn't ever read her reviews. When I first started, I read them and then gradually took her advice and stopped reading them entirely...only reading them if sent to me personally or if someone else mentioned them -- then I knew they wouldn't crush me and so I was in more of a mind to read them. I would give this same advice to new authors. Don't read your reviews. It's only opinion and sometimes (not always, thank goodness) reviewers can take out their own frustrations with writing on that project they are reviewing. So ignore them and write and create.

6) In your novels you use Native American language at times. Do you know different languages?

No, not really. I have some great dictionaries and on the book, LONE ARROW'S PRIDE, a Crow friend of mine, Jeff Rides-the-bear, looked over the language that I used -- mostly because to the Crow people, Crow is their first language, and so I was hesitant to write about the Crow because I was afraid I'd make mistakes with the language. So he really helped me with this.

7) Do you visit the settings of your novels personally?

Yes, I do -- even spending my honeymoon on the Blackfeet reservation.

8) How do you organize your research into customs and traditons?

I love this question. Early on I became aware that it was only through the invader's eyes that we saw the character of the Indian -- we don't have the voice of the Indian of the time to defend himself or give us his viewpoint of the invader to his land. When I ran across some "facts" -- or rather lies -- that were hard to believe -- I decided to look into the character and honesty of the person who was writing the book about the Indians (this is for historical research). I discovered something very profound. Most of the men at that time who wrote about the Indians were themselves drunks and scroundrels of the worst sort -- breaking their word and promises without thought or consideration, drunk in all their dealings. When I discovered this, I found out that these "authors" were putting their own blackened heart and evil deeds upon the character of the Indian -- in other words they were telling lies -- fabulous lies -- and of course these are the sources that Hollywood is fond of using to depict the character of the Indian also. It's not that the Indians were all "good" and the whites all "bad." Not at all -- but there was honor and integrity to the Native American, who tried in many ways to pattern their own heart and character after the Creator. So I would say this: Be careful of who you use as research in the historical realm. Research the character and honesty of the man doing the writing -- and base your own judgment on that. Here are sources that I think are good ones: George Catlin, Edwin Thompson Denig, James Willard Schultz -- to name a few.

9) Mind if I ask why you married in a reservation?

We married in LA and Las Vegas actually and spent our honeymoon on the reservation. I was writing about the Blackfeet and yearned to go to the Reservation. My husband is from Montana and he was happy to go there, also. It was a wonderful experience.

10) Can you tell us which are your favorite authors or books?

One of my favorite books and I still often read it because I love the male character in it is BUCKSKIN BRIGADES by L. Ron Hubbard. I also love another of his stories for the same reason, BATTLEFIELD EARTH. There was a story I read when I was very, very young called THE PINK DRESS -- can't even recall the author now -- but it was a romance and I really fell in love with it. But I also love Joanna Redd, Joanna Lindsey, Lois Greiman, Louis L'Amour and so many, many others it's hard to list them. I love the field of Historical Romance and Romance in general and have loved it most of my life -- even as a young girl. The old Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy movies (musicals) still thrill me to this day -- I was very, very young when I saw my first Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy movie on television, but I was very moved by it -- and still am.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Special Agent Pendergast

As you must know by now, I'm a voracious reader (next to being an author) and one of my favorite characters in a book (or rather, series of books) is Aloysius Pendergast, the FBI agent created by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

I stumbled by accident on the first book in which he appears (although he is not the main character): Relic. Since then I'm hooked. I've been buying all the novels in which he appears. Why? Because he appeals to me, and I'd say to a lot of other fans.

So who's this Pendergast guy? He was born around 1960 in New Orleans, Louisiana and hence he has this mellifluous Southern accent. He has a younger brother and this Diogenes is evil and is to play an important part in the books. He works for the New Orleans branch of the FBI, but frequently moves to other parts of the States when a case interests him, particularly when involving a serial killer.


Pendergast is a slender man, with white-blond hair and is always dressed in black. Make no mistake, his clothes and shoes are tailor-made. He prefers the finer things of life and is highly intelligent. Also he is dangerous and not afraid to use violence. In short - a man after my taste!

Before the first story begins, Pendergast was married to Helen Esterhazy. But she died in a mysterious way. It is only in Fever Dream (the 10th novel in which Pendergast is featured) that we learn that Helen is probably not dead, and Aloysius sets out to find out the truth (in Cold Vengeance and Two Graves, which has only recently been published).

Pendergast is a rich guy. He doesn't need to work. He owns several houses (among which a plantation in New Orleans) and has a big apartment in the Dakota building, New York. He personal assistant is Proctor. He also has a ward, Charlottte Green - a woman who is over 130 years old!

In the course of the series he becomes friends with NYPD detectives Vince D'Agosta and Laura Hayward, and with reporter Bill Smithback (who works for the New York Times) who later on marries Dr. Nora Kelly, a curator of the New York Museum of Natural History). This museum features in the first novels, Relic and Reliquary. Mysterious things happen there, and mostly involve another doctor, Margo Green.

Most of the Pendergast novels can be read on their own, but I would advise to read them in sequence, as each book introduces characters who will appear in later ones. This is the list:
1) Relic (introducing Bill Smithback, Vince D'Agosta and Margo Green)
2) Reliquary (again with D'Agosta, Smithback and introcing Laura Hayward, who will later become D'Agosta's fiancée)
3) Thunderhead (not with Pendergast, but introducing Dr. Nora Kelly who falls in love with Bill Smithback in this one)
4) The Cabinet of Curiosities (Pendergast inherits a mansion in New York, where he finds Constance Green, and is helped to solved a crime by Nora Kelly and Bill Smithback)
5) Still Life with Crows (introducing Corrie Swanson, who is also to appear in the last novels)
6) The Wheel of Darkness (here Pendergast takes Constance to Tibet)
7) Cemetary Dance (again with D'Agosta)
8) Brimstone (featuring Diogenes)
9) Dance of Death
10) The Book of the Dead (again set in the Museum of Natural History)
11) Fever Dream
12) Cold Vengeance
13) Two Graves (where we learn Pendergast has two sons: a good one, and an evil one...)

Any other Pendergast fans around???





Thursday, December 20, 2012

The end of the world?

For those who believe in it: hurry, there's not a lot of time left. If you put your trust in the Maya calendar, you only have a couple of hours left before the end of the world on December 21st... You can perhaps do those things you still wanted to do, or try and reach Bugarach in France. There, according to myth, the mountain will split into two halves and aliens will rescue some chosen few.

Those who don't believe will have a good laugh!



But why is it about 10% of the world's population believes in the apocalyps? They will say the Maya calendar - or the thirteenth b'ak'tun - will end on December 21st, but the Maya themselves claim they will only start a new one the day after.

Others say the planets Mercurius, Venus and Saturn will be on one line on that day. According to the believers this is not a coindidence. But our meteorogical instute Mira doesn't understand why people make so much of it. The moon has been closer to earth for hundreds or thousands of times, and yet it has done nothing else but influence ebb and upcoming tide.

Disaster scenario's have existed for ages. The German protestant Luther predicted the end of the world in 1600 en Christopher Columbus believed it would end in 1658. Nostradamus thought the millenium would be disastrous and 2000 would never come. And Jehavah's Witnesses have been 'adjusting' their end of the world a couple of times already...

Naturally, our planet will once cease to exist. It will extinguish in fire and every form of life will be extinguished. Only - it might take up to 5,000,000,000 years!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Christmas Dare

Hello everyone! Today I’d like to present you to author Joan Chandler, who is right now doing a Virtual Super Book Blast Tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the release of her novel The Christmas Dare.

Joan Chandler is a Florida native who has lived in the Deep South all of her life. She is married with two children who are her pride and joy. She lives a double life of sorts, holding down a nine-to-five job during the day, and writing steamy romance at night—often with her black cat curled up in her arms as she types.

When she’s not spending her spare time working on her next novel, she loves to go camping, sharing girls’ night out with her friends, walking her two dogs, and watching football.



About the novel:

Self-professed Christmas addict Gia Dixon, and by-the-book Ethan Castle have been best friends all their lives. When tragedy strikes Ethan’s family, Gia’s the rock he depends on to pull him through the darkest days. Then, a shared, long-forgotten memory leads to an unexpected yet tender kiss. Can a simple Christmas dare help them find true love?

 And here’s an excerpt from the novel, to give you a taste:

She made a face at him as she prepared to get out of the car, and then flipped around to her knees to reach between the seats to gather up her packages. As she pulled everything forward through the gap, she leaned over to kiss his cheek.

He caught her by surprise when he turned to face her, causing their lips to meet. Her eyes widened, while his turned dark.

“Gia,” he said, the name coming out of his mouth in a low rasp.

She closed her eyes but didn’t move. She couldn’t speak. Then she sensed when he was about to kiss her again. She tilted her face up to receive it, her lips parting to let him know she wasn’t opposed.

Ethan put his hands on either side of her head, his long fingers wrapping around to bury themselves in her thick, blonde hair. “Gia,” he whispered again as he closed his mouth over hers and slipped his tongue inside. She twirled hers around it, gently sucking. They were lost in the moment, oblivious to whether anyone else was around or not. They forgot where they were. They even forgot who they were. And in their place, these two sensual, passionate creatures tangled their arms around each other and kissed as if their lives depended on it.

Finally, Ethan sighed and pulled back a little. “Tell me that this is okay with you. Please say that it is.”

Gia had trouble finding her voice, so instead she pulled his mouth to hers again and greedily kissed him. When it ended, she asked breathily, “Does that answer your question?”

A few links to find out more about the author and her work:

Blog:  www.joanchandler.wordpress.com

Twitter account:   @joanchandler1

Find her on Facebook:  Joan Chandler

Previously published works are Perfectly Imperfect, and No Regrets.  Both are available at:

Bookstrand.com:  http://www.bookstrand.com/joan-chandler 


Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/joan-chandler?keyword=joan+chandler&store=allproducts

And don’t forget!

Joan will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card, winner's choice, to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 gift card to Bath & Body Works to a randomly drawn host.

 

Fire arms: for or against?

After the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook primary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the debate is again going on whether or not fire arms should be banned.

Here in Belgium there are strict laws for weapon use. You can't just go into a store and buy a gun (handgun or rifle). No, you have to be at least of age (over 18) and have all kinds of permits. Only registered hunters and sport shooters can legally buy arms. Of course, if you go to the black market, you can find a kalashinikov without any problem...

Personally, I don't have any feel for guns. I wouldn't know how to shoot one, and even with one in hand would not know where the bullet would be headed. That is of course because of my poor eyesight. But then I also don't feel like shooting down someone.

This doesn't mean I'm against the possesions of fire arms. Our laws are such that when a person breaks into your home you can't do just anything. You have to let them rob or murder you, otherwise the poor fellow will file a law suit against you! That is not okay by me. I know for myself, if someone ever breaks into my house and I can hit the perp over the head with a heavy object or kick him off the stairs, I sure won't hesitate to defend myself.

In theory, you are in the right when you claim self-defense. But you better make sure the perp won't tell anything anymore. Only a dead perp won't tell lies.

So I don't really know if I'm for or against fire arms. My once boyfriend said he'd provide me with one and would learn me how to shoot it, but that was before he disappeared. Now I only have an antiquated World War One rifle and a bayonet, which are somewhere in my attic.

Personally, I don't think the possession of arms makes you a murderer. The boy who made all these victims at the Sandy Hook school was clearly dissatisfied with his life - you can see it in the eyes. Because he used fire arms, he made more victims than our own Kim De Gelder, who shares the same forlorn and dead look with Adam Lanza. He used a knife, so he only made five victims when he entered a kid's day care center and began to slash around.

Adam Lanza (above) and Kim De Gelder (underneath)


See the dead eyes? These guys are sick in their head, but don't think they are psychopaths. A real psychopath is highly intelligent and you'll never know he is a killer - I know, I've met two of them already.

Something should be done to make this not happen again. Society should be much more proactive in helping out people who are mentally unstable. Another example: a week or so ago, a young mother killed three of her children. The mother-in-law had noticed she was behaving strangely, but the husband would hear nothing of it. I still find the mother-in-law should have alerted the social services and then a tragedy could have been prevented.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter's Magic

Good morning, folks! Today I'd like to introduce you to author Cynthia Gail, who has written a contemporay romance named Winter's Magic.

Cynthia is a native Missourian. During her teenage years, her family relocated twice, taking her from a high school freshman class of over 1,200 students to living in a small town in Kentucky with a total populations of less than 1,000.  Despite the culture shock and challenges of those shy teenage years, Cynthia met her true love in that tiny town and now she greatly appreciates a community where everyone waves, calls you by name and treats you like family.

Cynthia and her husband now live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with their eighteen-year-old son and three dogs. When she's now working or writing, she can be found with family and friends. She loves to bake in the winter, grill in the summer, and on occasions, she sneaks away from everyone and curls up with a good book.

The author hopes the reader will enjoy her stories. Each one touches on modern day issues, fears, and challenges that women face every day. And each one illustrates that love is within reach if you let down those wallls and allow your heart to open. Our lives and experiences are so much more meaningful when we have someone to share them with!

 

Cynthia is now doing a promo tour with Goddess Fish Promotions to launch the release of her novel, published by Soul Mate Publishing.

What's the story about? Here's the blurb:

Beth Sergeant and Nick Chester come from opposite ends of the social food chain. While he sees a rare beautiful woman without an agenda, she sees a wealthy playboy. Can he convince her to let go of her insecurities and take a chance on love, when challenges from his past force her to reveal her most guarded secret?

Owner of La Bella Vita, a five-star day spa nestled in the affluent suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, Beth Sergeant knows her elite clientele first hand. She attended their private schools. She was even engaged, although briefly, to one of their most recognized bachelors. But she never fit in to their social-elite world.

 After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. When he chooses to socialize, he has a never-ending list of exclusive events and beautiful women vying for his attention. Yet he never lets himself forget that everyone has an agenda.

Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and accepts an invitation to dinner, despite her deep-seated insecurities. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick's dated and learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick's past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.



And following is an excerpt out of the book:

“Can I see you Wednesday night?”

“Assuming you get out in the morning?” Beth tried to feign indifference as the grin on her face reached new heights. He wanted to see her again. That fact, and being with him tonight, was nothing short of an early Christmas present. Score one for Jenny’s advice. Sometimes you do have to let down your guard and enjoy life as it comes.

“True. I’m not worried, though. Surely they’ll have this cleaned up overnight.”

“When do you get home?”

“I think I land around six.”

“Give me a call when you get in and we’ll figure out where to meet.”

Beth closed her eyes for a moment to absorb the exquisite sensation of being cocooned in his arms as he held her so gently. She could feel the power in his broad shoulders and the hardness of his chest as he drew her against him a little closer than before, bringing every nerve ending in her body to attention.

When she opened her eyes, Nick was staring at her with an intensity that caused a shudder to run through her. And as the music faded, he led her through one last turn and bent down to kiss her. Short, but heavenly sweet. Then he nodded toward the windows.

“We probably need to head home.”

“I don’t think the snow’s going to let up anytime soon.” Her voice sounding steadier than she felt.

The author also provides some links:

Amazon   http://amzn.to/PdYIyf

Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/RnxlBC

Soul Mate Publishing  http://bit.ly/VwT9ZI

Twitter  http://bit.ly/VXuYZx


And finally, don't forget:

Cynthia will be awarding the following prizes to three randomly drawn commenters during the tour. Eithere one $ 10 Starbucks GC, one $ 10 Amazon GC, or one $ 10 Soul Mate Publishing GC.

SO MAKE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT, TO HAVE A CHANCE AT WINNING A PRIZE
 
 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas markets

I don't know how it is in the rest of the world, but here in Europe Christmas Markets are really big business. Nearly every town that counts has one nowadays, here in our country, in the Netherlands, in Great-Britain, in Germany....



I went to the first one when I was living in Germany. I saw the Weihnachtsmarkt in Cologne and Dusseldorf, also that in Aachen. Glühwein, roasted chestnuts, cider, apples with a coating of chocolate, cookies galore, ... And when there's a bit of snow it's even cosier.

Here in Flanders the Glühwein (warm spiced wine) is present, but far more popular is the jenever. That's a sort of gin but only made in Belgium and Holland. The best jenever comes from Hasselt, where they even have a Jenever Museum. You have straight jenever, which is best drunk ice cold and without added water, but it also comes with flavors of lemon, strawberry, up to chocolate!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Native American culture

When I was just a little kid, I always thought there was something wrong with the portraying of the Native American (or Indian, as we called them then) in those Wild West movies we saw on our TV. Why were the Indians always the bad guys, and the whites the good? Even at such a young age, I thought this could not be right.

I was very glad to see at last a film, Soldier Blue, which told a more true story. I remember it brought some commotion in the US, as it showed how the army ruthlessly killed people who had committed no crimes. That was when I was just 20 or so. And later on came Dances With Wolves, which is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.


I began to look up facts about Native American and I remember I even wrote to one of the Nations for more information on their way of living. I did get an answer, and still have a word list from the language of the Apache to English. Thought for a long time I could write a novel set in the Wild West, but consider against it. I just know not enough to write about a culture that is so different from ours.

Luckily there are authors around who can write a beautiful book in which Native American culture is related to the reader. Take Janet Dailey. One of the books I remember she wrote is The Pride of Hannah Wade, where a white officer's lady is taken by Apache and held there as a captive first and later on as a wife. Hannah soon realizes these 'wilds' have more honor than her own husband.


Also Madeline Baker writes beautiful romances about the Native American - for instance Lakota Love Song, where  a young while girl falls in love with the young Lakota who's injured. And then of course Karen Kay who has written more than fifteen novels about Native American culture. Miss Kay says she wants the reader to see how noble these men and women were - and if you read her books, you can only agree.

Some time ago, I bought a CD full of Native American music, and I find it strangely attractive. I respect people who can live with an immense respect for nature (something we also learned as little kids from our father) and the elements.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nickie's Ten Questions to Minette Walters

) As Some time ago I did an online interview with British crime author Minette Walters. She writes psychological thrillers, with biting dialogue and great insight, which have earned her the title of reigning queen of British crime novels.


Some of her novels are also adapted to the silver screen. Remember The Ice House?

Well, this is what I asked and what Minette answered:

1) Did you know as a child you wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I only ever wanted to be a writer.

2) What type of articles did you write when you worked for various magazines?

After I graduated from university, I joined IPC Magazines as a sub-editor on a romantic fiction magazine, writing articles, short stories and 30,000 word novelettes to help pay the mortgage. After a period as editor, I decided it was time to go freelance and so I started writing full-time for women's magazines.

3) Did this happen overnight?

I was 22 when I started being published in magazines and it was a real buzz. Suddenly, someone was prepared to pay me for something I'd created. But I wrote a lot of unpublished and unpublishable material before I got there!

4) How did you come up with the idea for The Ice House?

The book had its roots in my profound interest in two themes: the damage that families can do to themselves and the nature of truth. I have always been fascinated by crime and what drives people to commit murder, so I took that interest and decided to run with it. My recollection is that I simply sat down and wrote those first four pages, I hadn't plannen anything!

5) You took about two years to finish this book. How did the process go?

I wrote the book as soon as my second son had gone to school. Children are so noisy, so I think I just needed the peace and quiet! I have always been fascinated by the challenge that crime fiction represents to an author, and I always wanted to know if I could carry an intricate plot for 100,000 words, and keep readers guessing, while I was portraying characters under considerable tension. It takes me about a year to write a thriller now.

6) Now, so many books later, you must have more confidence in your abilities. Is that right?

Not necessarily! The main difference between published and unpublished authors is stamina - most people give up at 10,000 words. However, self-doubt is every author's friend. Without it, you will never be able to edit your own work.

7) Was having your first book published difficult?

Yes! It took a year for my agent to sell it and a year befoe it was published.

8) How do you handle criticism?

Writing is appallingly hard work, you need skin like a rhinoceros to take the knocks, but when someone says - 'I really like your work'. WOW! The whole exercise is one long ego trip.

9) As you show deep psychological insight in the characters you invent, it would interest us to know if you have studied this subject?

No, I didn't. I read French at university at Durham, but I rather regret it now. Psychology or politics would have been a better choice. However, at the time, I took the advice of my teachers who told me to read what I was good at, and I happened to be good at French. The trouble was I wasn't interested in it and only stuck it out to gain a degree! I spent more time on extra-mural activities than I ever did in the French department, but I gained a broader education as a result, which I think has helped me gain the insights into people's psyches.

10) Would you care to tell us who your favourite authors are? Or books?

Anything at all. I read a great number of books - fact and fiction - although my favourites are crime and thriller novels because they're always the most exciting! I do read other crime authors, although not in the same way as I did before I was published. Sadly, when you understand how a plot is constructed, there's less suspense than when you don't, and these days it's a rare book that takes me by surprise. But I love great characters... which is why Hannibal Lecter stand out like a beacon from the last 20 years. I guarantee Thomas Harris's startling and original creation will be as long-lasting, and spawn as many derivatives, as Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What's the first thing you do in the morning?

According to a study, performed by one of our universities, young people between 18 and 30 years of age, immediately grab for their i-phone when they wake up. They need to check their messages before they go to the bathroom and have their breakfast.

So, what's the first thing YOU do when waking up? I must confess I am also a bit addicted. I come down to have my breakfast (I always eat before I bathe) but while I'm having my first cup of coffee of the day, I switch on my pc and - also - check my mail. When I'm travelling, I take my Blackberry and check my messages, even if it costs me some.

My sister is quite different. She doesn't care for mail. She only has one email account (I have three of them) and only checks it about once a week... She likes to read the newspaper during breakfast (guess that's why I turn to the computer: we only have one paper!). When she' s gone to work, I switch off the pc and also set to reading the news. Afterwards I take my shower and get dressed.

As you can read, we always have a breakfast. Usually some slices of brown bread with a spread, and sometimes toast or cornflakes. On Saturdays and Sunday we do something special for breakfast, like baking our own cornbread or raisins bread, or we prepare pancakes or eggs. We have picked up this habit from our trips to the US and Great-Britain.

We also eat together, both in the morning and in the evening. It's a tradition we took along from our parents and greatparents. There has always been time to talk and exchange news while sitting around the table.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this. I always like to read your comments!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12

Today is a special day for those who believe in numerology. The 12th day of the 12th month, in the year 2012. It is the last time this century we can have such a series of numbers.

What's special about the number 12? Well, there are twelve months in a year, Christ had twelve apostles, ....

And it's exactly 12 days to go before the Apocalyps - at least if you believe in it!

Today, lots of couples have married in Belgium, those who were most fortunate, exactly at 12 minutes past twelve.

Also for Kim Clijsters this will be a special day. Tonight she plays her last match ever, against Venus Williams. She says goodbye to tennis and will spend more time with her daughter (and perhaps with other babies to come).

Now I don't know if this is really special or important, but also in my family numbers played a part. My grandmother had four children (3 boys, 1 girl). Two were born on the 2nd of a month, the other two on a 15th. My mother (who was born on March 2nd, 1930) gave birth to me on May 15th...

And what's even better, both my sister and I were born exactly at 8.45 am!

I also play with the same set of numbers when I fill in a lottery form. I believe it brings luck.

What about you? How important are numbers to you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Big breasts? Then it's a girl!

Sometimes you can read curious things in your daily newspaper. Today there was an article about American biologist Jena Pincott , who has written the book Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies.



In this volume she bundles several surprising things about a pregnancy – no fairy tales, but scientific facts.
* Frail women get more daughters

Several studies prove that women who take in more calories, more than often get a son. The reason? Female embryo’s are stronger than male ones, and can survive in less ideal circumstances. Jena points out though, that it has no sense to hunger yourself to have a girl. It would harm the foetus.

* Breasts tell the gender of your baby
The form of your belly – watermelon or rugby ball – does NOT tell your baby’s gender. But the size of your breasts can. Women who are expecting a girl have bigger breasts during pregnancy than women who are expecting a boy. When the baby is a girl, the breasts have an average swelling of 8 centimeters. For a boy it would be around 6 centimeters.

* A lot of sex diminishes miscarriage
A good old tumble protects a pregnant woman better than anything else against pregnancy poisoning. When having sex, the man’s proteins and hormones are spent. When the female body recognizes these, there is no problem (which happens when you often have sex with your partner). If not, there is a chance of poisoning.

* Eat a lot of chocolate if you want a sweet kid
A study in Finland proves how women who regularly eat dark chocolate during their pregnancy get babies who are happy and don’t cry a lot. They are also more active and laugh frequently. According to Jena Pincott this is because the mothers were happy because of the sweets. Another fact: one piece of chocolate a day lessens the risk of high blood pressure.

* Nightmares get you a fast delivery
Those who dream lively get their babies faster. Dreamers take approximately one hour less to set their baby into the world.  Women who have nightmares get them even faster. Dreams and nightmares help women to absorb certain frights, conflicts and new information. They are psychologically better prepared for their baby’s arrival.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Becoming a published author

I don't know how it was in the past, but in this century becoming a published author is not easy at all.

To start with, you should set your goals. If you want to be published with a major company you need to quality with the following requirements:
a) write extremely well, use a fresh language nor riddled by any grammatical error or flaw in style, bring forth new or unusual ideas
b) find an A-list literary agent who will not put your manuscript on the slush pile
c) hope and pray this agent will get you published

You can always try. But not many succeed. If you ever visit writing forums, you'll see hundreds and thousands of beginning authors who have failed in landing such a contract. This doesn't necessarily mean they write badly or their work is shit. You can have a very good story, but the powers above might consider it 'not fit for the market' - meaning they presume they can't earn money representing you.

I write for fun. Luckily for me, otherwise I'd have grown white hair trying to find a publisher. Now I know for myself my writing is good - ok, I won't win a Pulizer prize, but then I don't feel the inclination to write such literary prose. I concentrate on historical fictiton, with elements of romance. Some of my stories are more romantic, while nowadays I'm tending towards the more dark of the gothic novel and time-travel.

When I first sent out my manuscripts years ago I only met refusal. The nicest rejection letter came from an editor at Avon who wrote me she loved the book - but only wished I'd sent her this manuscript 20 years before, when it would have been an instant hit... So right, the story is fine, but they don't think it will sell.

Nevertheless, I kept on trying - which is something you need to do as a beginning author: never give up hope! One day I sent out my usual query mail - to receive an anwer not second later. It came from a respected agent, who was willing to have a look at my WIP. Foolish me, I did not believe this could happen. I hesitated, trying to find out if this was genuine. When I finally realized it was no hoax, the agent had lost his patience with me.

So I considered my other options. I could alway go for vanity publishing, but did not feel like handing over my hard-earned money to some people who live of the foolishness of new authors. I'm not that crazy!

Another way was self-publishing, but then I knew this would also not work for me, as I'm living in Belgium and I wanted to be published in the USA. How in heaven's name can I do promotion when I live so far away?

God bless, then came e-publishing. Lots of new companies (sharks and others) but after some time the bad ones got recognized and big warning posts appeared on the forums. (Think of Publish America!).

At long last I came into contact with a new publisher, mainly into ebooks. They read my WIP and offered me a contract. I did not receive any advance, but they treated my work with respect. I got an editor and had to work on re-writes under her direction. The cover was made professionally and all in all the whole process was as it should be.

I'm still with Rogue Phoenix Press. I trust them and I know they do a great job and are expanding year by year. They are also very honest when they tell you how many books are sold and calculate the royalties.

I continue to write without stress and I know I can get a manuscript published now. Now at last I have the freedom to try and find an agent who can (perhaps) get me with a bigger company. One day or other, my genre should become popular again - everything always returns!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quite a weekend!

Some weeks ago, we decided we'd spend this weekend at the coast. My sister has her birthday in December and we always celebrate it in our favorite restaurant. Problem is, you have to make reservations there weeks in advance and so we could not know what kind of weather it would be...

We left Friday afternoon while it was snowing quite hard. The train from Dendermonde to Ghent was a bit late, but luckily the other train waited. But instead of leaving from its usual platform, it now took off from another one - only nobody mentioned it! We raced, and thank goodness got on the waiting train before it left the station. We reached our flat without any problem and were satisfied that the heating was still working (we've experienced it didn't more than once).

Yesterday was a sunny day but very cold. No problem, you can dress for the cold. We make a long walk along the boardwalk and had hot cacao someplace. And the dinner at night was as lovely as ever.

But today we had to return home, and of course those rotten train did not run properly. The one from Heist arrived half an hour late, and the conductor did not bother to mention we had to leave this train in Bruges. There we had to board another train which would stop in Ghent. We did not get our connection in Ghent because of this delay, and had to wait for more than half an hour again.

And when we arrived in Dendermonde, it began to ice-rain and there was a nasty wind. Yuk!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nickie's Ten Questions to Mary Jane Clark

For the weekend, I'd like to post an interview I did with bestselling author Mary Jane Clark.


Here are my questions:

1) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It wasn't until I was in my late thirties that I decided to try my hand at fiction writing.


2) Did anything in your youth prepare you for it?

As a kid, I always liked English, reading and history better than math and science. In college, I majored in journalism and political science, knowing that I wanted a career in broadcast journalism.


3) You did not immediately write novels. You started out a career as a reporter. When did you decide you wanted to create novels?
Actually, I started out as a desk assistant, an entry level job, at CBS News in New York. When my children were born, I went to a part time schedule. After my son was born with Fragile X Syndrome, the leading cause of inherited mental impairment, and my marriage dissolved, I needed to have a dream to focus on. That's when I started writing Do You Want to Know a Secret?
4) Your work for CBS gives you a good angle for the type of novel you write. Does this make the work easier?

I don't know if it makes the work any easier, but since my characters work at a fictional television news division, working in a real one helps me keep up to speed.
5) Did you find it difficult to find a publisher for your first novel?

Not really...once my agent sent it around, she sold it in two weeks. But it took almost six years for me to write, re-write and then finally get that agent.

6) Do you have an agent, or do you make your own deals?
have an agent.

7) How do you deal with criticism?

I do read reviews and readers' reaction e-mails. I don't love criticism, but I pay attention to it. After digesting the review, I try not to dwell on it.

8) Have you ever considered writing another type of novel?
Yes.


9) What does the reading public mean to you?

The reading public means almost everything...because if nobody's reading, what's the point of writing? Maybe some people would write anyway, but I know I'm not one of them. Knowing that others are going to read what I write makes me strive to produce the best book I can.

10) Do you have favorite writers or books?

I'm a pretty eclectic reader. My favorite book, Gone With the Wind, is not a mystery or a suspense novel at all.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fodder for fashionista's

As I was preparing to travel to our flat at the coast, I needed to change my things from one bag to another, and thus the idea came to me to write something about fashion.

I'm not a fashionista, that's for sure. I only have TWO handbags: one leather shoulderbag which I used to take to work (mainly because it was big enough to put my lunch box into and also my thermos) and a more classic black leather one for outings. That's it. I don't need more.

I would  never spend my money on a bag by Delvaux. Alright, I admit they make nice bags, but the prices they ask...!


And I would  not pay for this bag, either:


Btw, do you know the designer? Right, it's Gucci.

Also clothes and shoes are not very important to me. I don't have a wardrobe that spreads over a room. And I don't have hundreds of shoes either. Certainly not high heeled ones. I often wonder how women can walk on these killer heels?

My clothes are mostly practical. I would not dream of wearing short skirts and deep cut tops when I'm in the classroom. I rather go for pants and pullovers. Nowawadays my pants are mostly Gerry Weber: very practical German (or Austrian) design. Cost around 100 € a pair.  Sometimes, I buy one more expensive piece, because I can keep that for ages. I once bought a very expensive leather jacket in Steamboat Springs, and I'm still wearing it now. I also got a Donna Karan cocktail dress from Harrods when I felt like spending some hundreds of euro.  But the dress is gorgeous and I can wear it when I attend opera or any special event.

My shoes must be good leather ones, and I prefer to buy Ecco, Clark's or Hush Puppy. I always try to buy them when the sales go on in London. Then they are about 50% cheaper.

How much of a fashionista are you? What's important to you?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Susan Kay's Phantom

For fans of Pantom of the Opera, there is a novel they should definitely read. Author Susan Kay has written this wonderful book which gives an insight in Erik's- the Phantom - life.

The author says she was a little bit afraid of tampering with a world classic - the novel Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. But I think she did a wonderful job.


While Leroux's work is vague and often wrong historically, Kay's novel tells us a believable story how Erik became the Phantom.

Phantom is written from different points of view. It starts with Madeleine, who is Erik's mother. Widowed at an early age, she looks forward to the birth of her child, but is frightened to death when she sees her deformed baby. She develops a hate-love relationship with her young son, who only gets some friendship from his dog Sacha and his mother's best friend. Then the novel continues from Erik's POV. After some spiteful villagers murder his dog, he thinks they'll come after his mother as well and so he decides to run away. He hides in the woods, but is taken by prisoner by a band of travellers. They deploy him as an attraction in their fair. At long last, he can get away (after murdering the man who beat him all the time) and travels to Italy.There we get Giovanni's POV. He is a master stone mason and finds a new pupil in Erik. But the drama arises when his young daughter comes back from boarding school and falls in love with Erik. She demands to see his face, but when he finally gives in, she runs off in sheer fright and falls down a roof terrace, breaking her neck. Next we move to Persia, where Nadir is head of the police in his district. He is ordered by the Sjah to bring the famous magician Erik to the royal palace. In Tehran, Erik becomes the architect of many magnifcent buildings, but also of some torture rooms, which have to be made on demand of the Sjah's mother. Then back to Erik's POV. After his time in Persia, he returns to France, just in time to be part of the construction of the new Parisian Opera. Secretly, he makes a home for him there. And when a new soprano joins the cast, he falls in love with Christine.

The final part of the novel is told by Christine and Erik. Although she fears her Angel of Music, Christine falls in love with Erik, although she also feels something for her old friend Raoul. I nearly wept when I read how they finally come together...

The last chapters are told by Raoul - how he knew Christine always preferred Erik and how he is glad with his son Charles. A very musical child, who will be a piano virtuoso before long...

I can certainly recommend this book. The only negative thing is that the Ebook version is riddled by typos - a very messy job of that editor! But they don't refrain you from reading on, of course.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sinterklaas kapoentje...

Sinterklaas kapoentje, leg wat in mijn schoentje...

This is the beginning of a centuries old song which children sing the night before Sinterklaas comes. The good holy man comes during the night between December 5th and 6th.



Sinterklaas or Saint Nichols is the main figure of a yearly celebration which takes place in Holland, Belgium and some former colonies of Holland. It has an ancient origin. And do you know that Santa Claus is actually Sinterklaas, as the custom was brought to America by Dutch and Flemish shipbuilders?

Already in the 15th century, children in Flanders and Holland put their shoes before the chimney, because the saint travels on the roofs and drops the presents through the chimney. He rides a white horse and is accompanied by one or two servants - Zwarte Pieten. Not to be a racist, but they were always portrayed by black men. Perhaps they were seldom seen in those times???



On the Saturday following on 11th November (Saint Martin), Sinterklaas makes his official entry in our country. According to the song, he comes from Spain in a steamboat, but right now, he ferries down the Schelde and comes to land in Antwerp, where thousand of children are waiting for him. This event is also brought on national TV.

And of course only good kids get a presents.Those who are naughty don't get anything. Surprise, surprise this year the Saint did not find any naughty child when he arrived in Antwerp....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

King Biscuit

Today I'd like to introduce you to Michael Loyd Gray, author of King Biscuit.



Michael's book is published by Tempest Books and the genre is American literary fiction. Right now, the author is doing a promo tour with Goddess Fish, from November 26th until December 7th.

What is this book about? Well, it's 1966 and the Beatles have taken over the airways. Star Trek is in its first season on NBC and 39,000 American troops are stationed in Vietnam.

A war is going on Argus, Illinois as well, between 16-year-old Billy Ray Fleener and his father. While his father dreams of Billy Ray joingin the family business, Billy Ray dreams of moving to California, becoming a surfer and getting into Margie Heinrich's pants - not necessarily in that order. Instead, he gets a summer laying pipe and the dubious distinction of town hero after saving Purdy Boy, the mayor's wife's dachshund.

When his beloved uncle and role model Mitch is killed in combat, Billy Ray feels like he must leave Argus or be stuck there forever. With little more than the clothes on his back, he hops a bus for Helena, Arkansas to visit Mitch's grave. Along the way he meets up with a cast of character as varied and polarized as America itself - from a marine captain home on leave to a band of hippies bound for Graceland. Each teaches him something about love, loyalty, and the true meaning of freedom. But what Billy Ray really learns is that everyone has the power to define who they are. He may have left Argus as a boy, he returns as a man.


I asked Michael what inspired him to write this novel and how he created the characters for it. This is what he answered:

I guess King Biscuit came to me in part because I have always had fond memories of the 60s—especially the music. It seemed like a great time to set a coming of age story because the country itself was so unsettled and chaotic and in some ways the country, too, was struggling to come of age. Vietnam cast a long and ominous shadow on America in those days and the music was a perpetual soundtrack to our lives and so both Vietnam and music lurk in the shadows of King Biscuit. Coming of age in those days was so different than now – less reliance on technology and so less obsession with devices and more emphasis on people – conversation. There were no cell phones, no laptops, simpler cars, not many television channels. Simpler often really is better. As Scotty says in Star Trek IV—“The more you overtake the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

 As for my main character, Billy Ray Fleener – I just wanted a regular kid for the part, but one who senses his world in small and narrow Argus, Illinois, can’t possibly be all there is, and so he’s very willing to leave it for adventure and to see how it all affects him. Once I had placed him in an initial scene I learned more and more about who he was – what he thought about, where he felt he might end up. We learn about our characters as we go. We watch them and listen to them in their first scenes and then we are able to help them evolve.
AND DON'T FORGET :
Michael will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.