Interview: Miss Mae, Author of the SF Tale Through A Glass Darkly

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Miss Mae. She’s the author of the Ahoy, Mischaps! series, the deliciously suspenseful science fiction tale Through A Glass Darkly, and the wonderful murder mystery Catch Me If You Can. If you’re interested in the audiobook version of Catch Me If You Can, Miss Mae and her publisher is offering up a serious discount. Go to the book’s page on the Pulp Radio’s webiste, add to your cart, and use this code [DABDARK40] to get a 40% discount for the downloadable version of the audiobook.

1) What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

The mystery of my husband’s illness! That’s nothing like the mysteries I write, I know, but whatever is afflicting him, and we -and the doctor- not knowing the answer, is driving us crazy. That’d have to be a medical kind of mystery book -definitely not what I write- but in a fictional plot, one might could weave that an airborne germ from a too-close asteroid from Mars invaded his bloodstream.

2) If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you choose?

I’ve thought on this since I read your question and I honestly can’t think of one. To me, if a character is evil enough to be labeled as villain, then he doesn’t deserve a happy ending (unless it’s satire, or humor, of course).

3) The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

Oh gosh, this is a tough one. Definitely all of Anne Shirley’s ‘Green Gables’ books, plus the DVD’s of the movies (with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie); James Herriot’s books; The Hobbit; Phyllis Whitney; Victoria Holt – wow, I could go on and on, but will stop there.

4) If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

A superhero, and his name is Hero Husband to the Rescue! Yes, my hubby is my hero and he wouldn’t hesitate for one iota to risk his own life to save mine.

5) What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

This is funny because I was a teenager in the last century, but I ain’t revealing which decade! LOL

6) What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

I’d love to meet James Herriot, along with his partners ‘Siegfried’ and ‘Tristan’. I’d chat with him about his love of animals, and how veterinary medicine has changed since he first joined Siegfried’s practice.

7) What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

One that makes hacking computers a complete impossibility!

8) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

There is a job that stands out, though it wasn’t exactly my ‘worst’ or ‘most difficult’ (though I won’t say ‘challenging’, either, because I know something is shady when I hear someone try to explain a situation as ‘challenging’.) I held a job in an all male maximum- security prison and I managed their inmate accounts. What always, even to this day, struck me as ironic was when we employees parked our cars in the morning and walked up the sidewalk to go inside. We had to pass a guard in the tower and they always called down, “Any weapons?”

If I had a weapon on my person and meant to carry out a criminal intent, am I really going to answer, “Yes.”??????

9) Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. How did you get into creating and designing cover art?

As a young girl, art was my first love. You could always catch me with a pencil in hand, trying hard to sketch what my fevered mind imagined. In 9th grade art class, one of my still-life’s was exhibited at a tri-county showing. However, in my later teens, the more books that I read the more I was drawn toward writing my own stories and that rivaled my love of art. With the invention of computers, though, and programs that manipulate stock photos, I can still create and design to my heart’s content – so I now enjoy the best of both passions.

Thank you for having me at your blog, Susan. I’m thrilled to be here! I’ve enjoyed meeting your readers. I’d be happy if anyone is interested in signing up for my monthly newsletter. When they do so, they can download a PDF of my SF novella, “Through a Glass Darkly” given as a gift. Also Dove Island and Fated Destiny…Oh, Yeah? are available as perma-free stories on Amazon!

Miss Mae’s question to my readers: Everybody is health conscious these days, but do you know where your chocolate was grown?

Places to Find Miss Mae


I. B. Nosey Blog


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Pulp Radio Audiobooks



Book Blurb for Catch Me If You Can

Are all rules broken when it comes to playing a game? Washed ashore a South Carolina beach, Lois Steinberg learns her shelter, an old plantation house, was scheduled to host a “Catch Me” game convention. When the cook is the first one found murdered, the game environment instantly morphs into a terrifying evening reminiscent of And Then There Were None. This audio book has won the Platinum Award in the 2017 Hermes Creative International Competition.

Don’t Forget: Miss Mae and her publisher is offering up a serious discount. Go to the book’s page on the Pulp Radio’s webiste, add to your cart, and use this code [DABDARK40] to get a 40% discount for the downloadable version of the audiobook.

Pulp RadioAmazon ~ Audible ~ Smashwords

Author Bio: 

Miss Mae is all about romantic mysteries. With her writing style compared to the likes of Agatha Christie, her books “Said the Spider to the Fly”, “When the Bough Breaks”, “Dove Island”, “It’s Elementary, My Dear Winifred” and “See No Evil, My Pretty Lady” are award winning best sellers. The novellas “Miss Penelope’s Letters”, and “Through a Glass Darkly” have received top rated five-star reviews. Her latest murder mystery, “Catch Me If You Can”, in audio format, has won the platinum award in the 2017 Hermes Creative International Competition. Tantalizing trailers, and more information, is readily available at her website.

She’s also penned three tales in the ‘Ahoy, Mischaps!’ children’s/humor series. Book #1 is “Ahoy, Gum Drop!” followed by Book #2 “Ahoy, Out There!” with Book #3, “Ahoy, Mummy Mia!” In these slightly cracked stories, readers are introduced to a cast of intriguing, extraordinary and downright bizarre characters, accompanied by the one and only I.B. Nosey, the ‘official unofficial’ reporter. To learn more about the ‘Mischaps’ and cyberspace’s only Pukelitzer Award winning interviewer, visit ‘Feeling Nosey?’

Interview: Henry Herz, Author of When You Give An Imp A Penny

HerzWhenYouGiveAnImpAPennyFolks, please welcome author and editor Henry Herz to the blog again. I have thoroughly enjoyed his works (Nimpentoad & Beyond the Pale) and recently his newest release When You Give An Imp A Penny. Get ready for a lively interview that includes Lord of the Rings references, an appreciation of children’s stories for all ages, and plenty more!

1. If you could be an extra on a kids’ movie or TV show, what would it be?

What a terrific question! But, so difficult to answer given the many great choices. I think it would be a blast to have been an extra on The Incredibles, The Princess Bride, Shrek, Arthur and the Invisibles, Chicken Run, or Where the Wild Things Are.

2. Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon?

I think we first need to clarify what KIND of dragon. Are we talking silly dragons like Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon), H.R. Pufnstuf, Cassie (Dragon Tales), Puff the Magic Dragon, or Elliott (Pete’s Dragon)? Perhaps powerful but kindly dragons like Saphira (Eragon), Falkor (The Neverending Story) or Ramoth (The Dragonriders of Pern)? Or the terrifying killing machines Vermithrax Pejorative (Dragonslayer), Fafner (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Norbert (Harry Potter), Ancalagon (The Silmarillion), Yevaud (A Wizard of Earthsea) or Smaug (The Hobbit)?

Since I enjoy spending time with my family and writing, I should probably remain human, and opt for a dragon pet, so long as it obeys my will. “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

HerzNimpentoad3. If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

If I couldn’t be a writer, I’d be a board game designer. It’s a fun combination of being analytical and creative. I actually designed a submarine warfare game MANY years ago and sold it to SPI, but they went out of business before the game could be made. Not my fault!

4. If you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

Since I am a Lord of the Rings fanatic, I have to say I would eat whatever Galadriel’s elves are serving for dinner in Middle Earth’s Lothlorien, or whatever Finarfin’s elves are serving in Valmar (the capital of Valinor in The Silmarillion). I’m guessing vegan, but with plenty of good wine.

5. If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in children’s literature, what HerzMonsterGooseNurseryRhymesbooks would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Creating a syllabus for a college class in children’s literature would be a two-edged sword. It would be a riot to do, but it would be HARD to pick only a few to cover. Some personal favorites include:
Younger Kids: Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak), This is Not My Hat (Klassen), A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Stead), The Cat in the Hat (Seuss), Frog and Toad Are Friends (Lobel)
Older Kids: The Hobbit (Tolkien), The Book of Three (Alexander), A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Lewis), Charlotte’s Web (White), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Dahl).

6. What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

My answer to your question 2?

See also the Six Degrees of Sauron web application I co-designed. The Dark Lord is closer than you think!

HerzBeyondThePale7. What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

That was a LONG age ago. As in carved stone tablets… Probably a Dr. Seuss book. Perhaps One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish.

8. Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, my new picture book, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY, is just out from Pelican Publishing. Before you lend an imp a penny, there’s something you should know—such a simple act of generosity could set off a side-splitting chain of events! A colorful picture book full of mythology, mischief, and magic, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY shows us just what happens when an accident-prone—but well-intentioned—imp comes along asking for favors! The same writer/illustrator duo that brought you MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES brings to life a comedy of fabled proportions.

HerzWhenYouGiveAnImpAPennyFrom tracking mud on the floor to setting the broom on fire, this clumsy little imp causes accidents wherever he goes, but he’s determined make things right again. The only thing it will cost his host is a little patience—and maybe a bit of time cleaning up some messes! It won’t be long before this troublemaker has won over the entire family (except for the cat) with his irrepressible charm.

I have three more picture books scheduled for publication. LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016) is an aquatic retelling of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, but with a sassy cephalopod protagonist. MABEL & THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016) is a bedtime picture book inspired by Mercutio’s soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet. Little Mabel was an expert at not going to sleep. But Mom had the Queen of Dreams in her quiver of bedtime tales. The Queen paints children’s dreams, so she only visits when their eyes are closed. DINOSAUR PIRATES (Sterling, 2017) is a comical mashup of two kid favorites. A T-rex with a piratey patois!? Cap’n Rex leads his dinosaur pirates in search of booty. As they encounter obstacles in their quest, the apex predator “encourages” his crew to think outside the box. When the treasure is found, Cap’n Rex wants to keep it for himself, but the clever crew turns the tables on him.

I’m thrilled to be moderating a children’s literature panel at WonderCon in Los Angeles on March 26. The panelists will be award-winning authors and illustrators Bruce Hale (CLARK THE SHARK), Jon Klassen (THIS IS NOT MY HAT), Laura Numeroff (IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE), and Dan Santat (THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND), and Antoinette Portis (WAIT).

Places to Find Henry Herz and his two talented sons Josh and Harrison



Interview: Paul B. Spence, author of The Madness Engine

SpenceTheRemnantHello Dark Dabbers, please welcome SF writer Paul Spence to the blog today. We chat about heroes & villains, geeky stuff, books & movies, and plenty more. Enjoy!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Out of the Dark, by David Weber, because it was then that I knew I could do better.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Worst or most difficult job? Most of them. Anything monotonous that keeps me from thinking? Worst Job? Ditch digger. Writing is more stressful, but more rewarding.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Other than mine? Seriously, I’d love to play a Fallout-type game set in my universe(s). Other than mine, Skyrim done Dragonriders of Pern style.

SpenceTheFallenWho are your non-writer influences?

Non-writer influences? What is this thing you speak of?

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Gilgamesh. I haven’t made time for it yet. I need to.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

To be honest, I’m not fond of villains. As for villains I thought worked great, Eddorians would top the list. Maybe Cthulhu.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Kip and Peewee from Have Space Suit — Will Travel, by Robert Heinlein.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed?

The one that comes to mind is the movie Forbidden Planet, by William Shakespeare — er, The Tempest, yeah.

SpenceTheMadnessEngineIs there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you? 

I thought the later Hunger Games movies were good. I usually don’t watch adaptations too often. Don’t even ask my opinion on The Hobbit movies. I don’t read books derived from games.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Off the top of my head: Roger Zelazny, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, and E.E. “Doc” Smith. I haven’t got a clue what they’d order, but I imagine alcohol would be involved.

SpenceMilankovicCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Can’t think of any offhand. I’m pretty comfortable in my skin. Maybe when I shook hands with Neil Armstrong as a kid and realized I was already too tall to be an astronaut.

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I like cover art that conveys something from the book. The original cover for John Steakley’s novel Armor really nailed it.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Too many to count. I’m a scientist, dammit! We geek out all the time! That said, I do have recurring arguments about Classic Star Trek vs Next Gen. Next Gen sucked and has no rewatch benefits. Classic Trek was real science fiction and still relevant. Anyone who thinks differently can feel free to try and debate me.

SpenceImposterWhat is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. I have dyslexia, so I started reading later than most. I’ve made it since then.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

Invite someone to go through an obstacle course? How bizarre. I’d challenge anyone who thought Next Gen was better than Classic Trek. How about that? Libations? No. Not till after I kick their asses. Then they can buy me Guinness.

Finally, what upcoming events would you like to share with the readers?

My third novel, The Madness Engine (#3 The Awakening series), is scheduled for release on the 22nd of May. I will also most likely be at Bubonicon in Albuquerque again this year.

The Remnant (#1 The Awakening series)

SpenceTheRemnantLt. Commander Hrothgar Tebrey is assigned as a military attaché to an archaeological expedition as light duty to recover from the disaster of his previous mission. But things quickly begin to go wrong on Cedeforthy. Someone, or something, is manipulating events to sabotage the expedition.

When the science team becomes marooned on the planet by the tides of war, the sinister force reveals itself, and Tebrey must fight against a seemingly unstoppable enemy to save not just himself, the expedition, and the woman he loves, but his very soul.

Some things are worth dying for; it is the things worth living for that matter.

The Fallen (#2 The Awakening series)

SpenceTheFallenLt. Commander Hrothgar Tebrey has returned to duty in Special Operations, but it is becoming harder for him to fight in the name of a government he no longer feels is just – one that orders purges against its own citizens.

Meanwhile, dissention is growing within the ranks of the Earth Federation Fleet. Ships continue to go missing, and the military needs someone to blame. A war with the Sentient Concord seems inevitable.

But if the Earth Federation destroys the Sentient Concord, who will fight the true enemy? For the Sentient Concord is the only government that knows the truth about the hellish Theta entities…

…Entities that want Tebrey dead, and are willing murder entire worlds to make it happen.

The Madness Engine (#3 The Awakening series)

SpenceTheMadnessEngineThe war between the Sentient Concord and the Earth Federation grinds on, but dark forces are moving behind the scenes, forces intent on unleashing terror on a scale never seen before, a terror that has already spread beyond Commander Hrothgar Tebrey’s universe.

On an alternate Earth, acid rains fall smoking from the steely skies, and feral things that were once human skitter through the ruins. Tebrey’s father Daeren Drake searches for clues about the enemy and finds more than he bargained for.

Meanwhile, Lt. Commander Tonya Harris and Ghost stumble upon an engine, a weapon that must never be used, but already has been… by the enemy.

Loyalties will be tested, dark pasts revealed, and the enemy will strike a blow at the heart of the Concord from which it may never recover.

Places to Stalk Paul B. Spence





Additional Interview over at North of Andover

Interview: Chip Huddleston, Author of Snowbeard the Pirate & the Naughty List

HuddlestonSnowbeardPirateNaughtyListFolks, please welcome Chip Huddleston! You can catch my review of Chip’s Snowbeard the Pirate and the Naughty List over HERE. You can also check out his downloadable CD for yourself on CD Baby. Today, Chip talks about Bunnicula, Puccini, the great shows on PBS & BBC, and plenty more!

1) You are obviously into taking a standard story (Santa delivering toys on Christmas eve) and turning it sideways (tossing in pirates and stale fruit cake). What other stories would you like to give a twist to?

There have been so many smash-up novels in the last couple of decades, it’s hard to keep up with them all. My interest recently has been on looking at our holidays and family traditions and coming at them from a little bit of a different perspective. Also, humor is an extremely important element in my writing (and life!) so almost anything I write, even something dark, has some humor involved. I was a professional actor/singer for over twenty years so theatricality appeals to me as well.

I’m looking right now at the way we actually celebrate Halloween and feel that it has been underserved by some of the lore and literature. I loved the Bunnicula series, could someone please do something about the Easter Bunny? Can’t we write something better there?

2) If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I read The Hobbit when I was about 12 years old and that was a revelation. I’d love to have that experience again. Being a singer, the first time I heard (and understood!) Puccini’s La Boheme was almost a religious experience! Puccini has this way of crafting beautiful melodies, even throwing away (seemingly) an exquisite phrase every now and then. I like to think of that when writing.

The PBS Masterpiece Theatre presentation, Upstairs, Downstairs, was a great favorite, although I’ve revisited it and it doesn’t seem quite as good as my memory of it. But with Downton Abbey now on the rise, I’ve found my new, improved Upstairs, Downstairs. I’m a great fan of PBS and would love to see someone do a parody of a PBS fundraiser where, because of the tremendous success of Downton, PBS changes all their most successful shows to reflect that. For example, they might have the Beatles Play Downton show or a show for American tourists traveling in England entitled, Where In The Hell IS Downton Abbey? Or a fusion of Asian and English cuisine co-hosted by David Ming of Simply Ming and the cook from Downton Abbey. They could call the new show, Simply Dreadful. Maybe a show called, We Have British Accents And You Don’t – Hah! The possibilities are endless!

3) Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I have to admit that I would love to be able to (safely) visit Jurrassic Park! Also, the idea of the Kraken has always fascinated me (as you know, I even have a humorous reference to it in Snowbeard’s tale.) I don’t think I could successfully use an I-Phone to take a Selfie while in the clutches of a Kraken – I think I’d need a GoPro to capture it (right after it captured me!).

4) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

One of the worst jobs I ever had was cleaning restrooms on my college campus to pay for tuition. But the acoustics were wonderful so I would sing as I scrubbed and mopped! Also, as I mentioned previously, I worked professionally as an actor and singer, eventually working on Broadway and at the New York City Opera. Although it’s great to get applause at the end of your work day, it can be a very difficult profession because there is so much rejection, very much like writing.

5) What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

It is difficult for me to answer this question. My sons would be much better on this answer than I (one age 22, the other 17 and big video gamers). I don’t quite find fascination in shooting soldiers or zombies over and over but I love mystery series so maybe some sort of Sherlock Holmes/Miss Marple/Hercule Poirot video game where you solve murder mysteries and, much like the musical based on the Dicken’s novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, there might be options at the end where there are different endings with different murderers.

6) What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I have enjoyed several reboots of classics. The Mary Russell series by Laurie King that speculates on what may have happened with Sherlock Holmes is very good. I enjoy the original Sherlock Holmes stories but I find that the genius of those stories is the Genius himself, not so much the storytelling. In fact, getting back to PBS/BBC (which I love, obviously) they have that nice updating of Sherlock to present day London starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The most recent one had a wonderfully absurd plot where Holmes fakes his own suicide spectacularly, with Watson witnessing it and being terribly traumatized. But Holmes reappears after about a year and stuns Watson to the core.

I’d put this in my mythical parody of PBS, by the way, by having some Alan Cumming look-alike announcing that, “Brilliant British actor, Benedict Bandersnatch returns in, Sherlock Holmes and the Jabberwock –  an exciting story where Sherlock and arch-nemesis Moriarty commit double suicide by leaping into the jaws of the Jabberwock only to pop out it’s backside one year later Fully Alive, ladies and gentlemen!!!”

7)What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Being an opera fan back during the 70’s and 80’s, there were always two camps on who was The World’s Greatest Tenor, Pavarotti or Domingo? While one can appreciate both, I was always a Domingo fan. Pavarotti, by far, had the best vocal technique, but, in my opinion, Domingo had the more beautiful sound.

Oh, and for sheer, gut-wrenching animalistic keening try googling Franco Corelli singing Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot. But be forewarned! You will aurally ingest an almost lethal dose of testosterone by listening to it. It is amazing.

HuddlestonSnowbeardPirateNaughtyList8) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, the picture book version of Snowbeard the Pirate and the Naughty List will be out for next Christmas (2015). I have grown out my white beard to look like Snowbeard/Santa in order to promote the story in a very festive way.

One of my literary heroes, P.G. Wodehouse, also wrote lyrics and the book for several musicals. I merely dabble in lyric writing as well and I’ve created a character for myself called, Satire Claus, the Singing Christmas Grouch and am putting the finishing touches on my lyrics for a new Christmas song parody CD entitled, I’m Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas.

Interview: Erin Gitchell, Author of The Feast

GitchellTheFeastWelcome Erin Gitchell, author of The Feast. Today we chat about the company of Ents, Firefly, library work, coverart and more. Enjoy!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Book / Movie: Howl’s Moving Castle. I’d like to read the book before seeing the movie. I did it the other way around and have regretted it ever since. I wish I could go back in time and read the book for the first time without the movie characters in my head.

TV Series: Firefly. It was such a fun show! Perfect blend of humor, danger, spunk, chemistry, violence, and shiny lingo. The first time I saw it, I missed a few episodes here and there. I’ve watched it multiple times since, but I wish I could go back in time and watch it properly the first time around.

Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I think I’d enjoy traveling with an Ent for a while, and I’d REALLY enjoying talking to a dragon (but not the kind that would want to eat me). I would definitely avoid a dementor, since, being a muggle, I’d have no way to protect myself from them. And no, I’d never take a selfie with an Ent, dragon, or dementor. My daughter is the only beastie I’ll take pictures with (begrudgingly).

Who are your non-writer influences?

I work at a library and see a wide variety of people every day. Some just look so much like characters, it’s hard not to imagine them that way, inventing fantastical histories and personalities for them. The downside is when they do actually talk to me, I have to pretend like I didn’t give them a name and place in a story. I’m influenced by daily life, just little moments that trigger ideas, nothing grand or methodical. “There is learning in everything,” someone said in a book I read once, and it’s something I truly believe.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

I’d be an inventor or explorer. I like to take things apart and try and fix them, too, which kind of goes along with inventing. Or an artist (but not the snooty kind). However, I am pretty happy being a librarian (except when grumpy patrons yell at me).

McKinleyTheDoorInTheHedgeIf you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Required Reading:

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings trilogy also encouraged)
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
1984 by George Orwell (if they somehow managed to make it this far in life without reading it)

Encouraged Reading:

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
Sabriel by Garth Nix
– Anything by Robin McKinley
– Anything by Robert Jordan (if they want to go down that road, more power to them!)

I guess the syllabus focuses on fantasy. Oh well.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

In truth, I haven’t had one yet, unless you count joining the Legolas Fan Club in junior high with the first LOTR film came out. It was a very awkward club. I usually just demonstrate my admiration for an author by re-reading the book(s) over and over.

MarillierWildwoodDancingCover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

Some covers are so photoshopped these days, that’s all I see (the photoshopping)! It’s great authors have access to artists that can use that kind of software (whether they’re self-published or working with a publisher), but sometimes there are just too many layers. That being said, some of my favorite fantasy covers were created by Kinuko Y. Craft (she has done covers for Robin McKinley and Juliet Marillier, among others). They are EXTREMELY detailed, but in a way that’s not overwhelming…more like a, “The more you look, the more you see” kind of way. I’m intrigued when the cover tells a story, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an illustration of a scene within the book.

Which mythical/fantastical race would you rather be?

I always choose mermaid (so long as I am speedy enough to avoid getting eaten) since there’s so much of the ocean that needs to be explored. However, not everyone can see the benefit of being a mermaid…

GitchellTheFeastGoodreads blurb about The Feast: Rebellion was sown…Revenge will be reaped…and The Feast for freedom awaits!

Delaterra, once a land of peace and prosperity, is tainted with suspicion and fear. The King’s Eyes and Ears, spies without conscience, hunt the Farmers, a group of Delaterran rebels who are dedicated to restoring Delaterra to her former glory. Yet there are whispers traveling fast on the wind, that the Farmers are not alone in their desire to rid the world of the Nameless One and the tyranny he sows. As The Feast draws near, a woman trapped in the body of a horse, an ex-knight, a seer, and an assassin must draw the factions together if they are to have any chance of success.

Places to Find Erin Gitchell





Interview: Melinda Moore, Author of A Sunset Finish

MooreASunsetFinish_200Please welcome Melinda Moore to the blog. I quite enjoyed her novella, A Sunset Finish, and asked her for an interview. Today, we chat about Katharine Hepburn, the Pueblo Revolt, The Hobbit movies, Star Wars, faeries, and bassist Edgar Meyer. Please sit back and enjoy!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I wish I could read The House with the Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs for the first time again. It’s a great childhood introduction to spooky books. I still go back to his stories now and then, but I can’t recapture that goose bumpy feel I had the first time.

BellairsHouseWithClockInWallsWhat biographies of the creators of your favorite genres do you want to read? Are there lesser known creators that still need a biography?

I’m actually not a fan of biographies. When I was in my twenties and very idealistic, I found biographies to diminish the subject. I had a favorite author whose ideals in his books were right along with mine, and then I read about his real life and found he didn’t follow those ideals at all. His was the first to be disappointing but not the last.

The highlight of my biography reads was Me, which is the autobiography of Katharine Hepburn. I found it to be exactly as I imagined her real life being. She was a leader in feminism in all her characters, and her real life was the same way.

Probably the low was not one I read myself. I had recommended Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to a friend of mine. She read Lewis Carroll’s biography and said, “Did you know he liked to paint and photograph nude little girls?” I have never recommended his stories to my children.

I still find myself wondering enough about an author to consider checking out what the Internet has to say about them. Of course with blogs you can watch living autobiographies. One of my favorite authors started to blog a few years ago, and while reading it didn’t ruin her books for me, I don’t follow it because her day to day life does not interest me.

But a writer who I do wish had a biography or autobiography out, and who I find to be very approachable (I emailed her how much I enjoyed a book she wrote and she replied in under an hour) is Jane Yolen. The breadth of her work is amazing.

YolenDragon'sBloodGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

Well depending on the type, I think a dragon qualifies as the answer to both 🙂 I love to write about dragons and would want to encounter the friendly type, or hot erotic shapeshifting type, but not the type that would burn me to a crisp on sight.

What book(s) should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

It seems like the Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher would make a good CCG because there are so many different factions. It would also be great as an MMO. It has a huge fan base, and I think players could make it a very dynamic game. It looks like it’s already an RPG, but I haven’t had the pleasure of playing it yet.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

For A Sunset Finish I used Dancing Gods by Erna Fergusson and several historical books about the Pueblo Revolt. Although other stories I’ve written aren’t so directly tied to an area in the real world, I still research a lot about the folklore of whatever mythical creature I’m using. I use fairies frequently and have found The Erotic World of Faery by Maureen Duffy to be very helpful—it’s not as racy as it sounds 🙂

ZahnHeirToTheEmpireWho are some of your favorite book villains?

Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy for Star Wars is by far my favorite villain. I think that series is officially the Heir to the Empire series, but because Thrawn is so awesome, people just call it the Thrawn Trilogy. In fact, he is so cool all other villains have escaped my head at the moment.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I really like the Pride and Prejudice production with Colin Firth. The new movies for the Narnia series have been great and added new depth to the books. I think the second Hobbit movie was terrible. I loved The Lord of the Rings movies, and the first Hobbit movie was good, but I don’t know what happened with the second part.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I really enjoy interviews like this, but it’s hard for me to go out and seek them along with seeking reviews. I also just spent what I considered a large sum for advertising and really didn’t get much in the way of sales from it. I’ve found the balance between promoting current publications and working on new stories to be difficult. In the long run, I think concentrating on improving my writing and getting new stuff out there will be what pays off.

MeyerViolinConcertoCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Actually, my awkward fan girl moment occurred in my musician life, but I wasn’t gushing. I played the bass from middle school until my early thirties. Bass is just not that glamorous. But when I was in high school, a man who was both a hot bass player and cute was burning up the music scene. He was giving a master class in Colorado, I live in NM, and I auditioned and received a spot to play for him along with a few other girls from here (strangely Albuquerque had mostly female bass players when I was going through high school even though it’s a male dominated instrument). So we drove up there, the whole time talking about how cute Edgar Meyer was and not focused on our music at all. By, the time I played for him, he was pretty much a god in my mind. I managed to get through my song; he gave me comments. His last comment was, “It would really be great if you played it by memory.” He whisked the music off my stand and stood there waiting for me to play it by memory. There was just no way. I was now humiliated in front of the bass god and all his worshipers!

A little addendum to the story: he just performed with Taylor Swift on one of the country music awards this year. I was flipping through channels, saw him and jumped up yelling that I knew him. My kids thought I was crazy 🙂

MorgensternNightCircusCover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I really like both covers that I’ve seen for The Night Circus. I’d love to have artwork like that for a series I hope to publish one day.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

My short story “The Virgin and the Dragon” has just been released in the Spring 2014 volume of The Colored Lens. My novella A Sunset Finish will have been out a year this summer, and I’ll probably do a special giveaway at my blog

Places to Stalk Melinda Moore


Other Blog

Jupiter Gardens Press



Interview: Terry Irving, author of Courier

IrvingCourierEveryone, please welcome author Terry Irving to the blog today. He’s here to chat about his book Courier, Hurricane David, Lee Child, Tolkien, The Great Escape, Saint Crispian’s Day, and plenty of other, eclectic bits.

As a published author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

First, I appreciate the chance to be here and chat with you. It is a real honor. As for inspirational activities, I’ve always found being fired a tremendous way to get those creative juices flowing. Lee Child worked as a television director in New York and it took a prolonged period of unemployment to inspire the creation of one of the great adventure heroes in modern fiction. In fact, one day, while food shopping with his wife, he reached up to get a food item that she couldn’t quite grasp and she said, “Maybe that’s the job you can do. You can be a reacher.” and that’s where the name Jack Reacher came from. Now, I’d appreciate a show of hands on the question of whether anyone thinks that Tom Cruise is the right actor to portray this quintessential tough guy and broad-shouldered brawler. I personally think this was as bad a casting error as having Nick Nolte portray Scarlett O’Hara in the upcoming remake of “Gone with the Wind.”

Semi-seriously, I would say that writing is the best preparation for writing. My first complete professional script came in 1975 or so when I was sent to Miami to cover their first serious hurricane in a decade. After heading to the Hurricane Center with a camera crew from the local station and their reporter, this guy named Steve Kroft (I sometimes wonder what happened to him), my first intimation of approaching disaster was when I told the crew to shoot lots of pictures while we chatted up the director and they returned in less than five minutes, having taken a single sweeping pan of the room. I ended up walking them around and giving them encouragement with comments like, “Shoot this guy’s face as he watches the screen,” “zoom into the radar picture,” and the immortal “Yes, I realize that you’ve taken a wide shot of this but I could really use a tight shot as well.” Anyway, we were on the way back to the station and Steve turned to me and said those magic words, “You’re going to have to write this because I have to do the intro to my own package.” As my throat instantly snapped shut—depriving me of all oxygen—I was able to look at my watch and see that it was 5:15pm and I had 45 minutes to write, edit, record, and lay video onto the package before the 6 o’clock feed.

We got back to the TV station and I put paper and a sheet of carbon paper in the typewriter (I’m not even going to try and explain what all this involved.) Then I sat for a second, contemplating my imminent death and the odds of hiding out in the Florida Keys for the rest of my life. I finally decided to write something, on the page. Not only would it then not look at me which such an accusatory blank glare but I could edit what I had written. I did understand how to edit after dealing with cuddly bunnies like Sam Donaldson and Cassie Mackin for a couple of years. So I put my fingers on the keys and began to write:


The only editing I really did on this before we took it to air, was to answer a question that the executive producers in New York kept repeating. “Didn’t he tell you where Hurricane David was going to go?”

The fact is, then as now, forecasters never tell you where a hurricane is going to go because…well, liability is definitely a factor but the primary reason is that they really don’t have a clue. My last line was hailed by New York as a perfect answer to this problem. If you read it with conviction, it sure sounded like we knew the options for the hurricane’s path but what I was really saying was that it could “slam into the coast of South Florida” or wander off to take a short vacation in Portland, Washington—who knew? This taught me the invaluable use of words to make it appear as if you’re saying something intelligent when you’re really just tap-dancing across the ice-floes.

What is your favorite fictional holiday (from books, movies, or tv)?

I suppose I’d have to go with Saint Crispian’s day. I don’t mind telling you that I was there at Agincourt and now that I’ve reached a respectable age, will yearly invite the neighbors over for a feast, say “Tomorrow is Saint Crispian,” and then I roll up my sleeves and show off the scars. If nothing else, it keeps them from bothering me for another year.

Anyway, I remember it like it was yesterday. Prince Hal on his charger calling on us to throw ourselves against impregnable castle walls in the face of certain death: It was as if he was speaking directly to me—after all, I was definitely the most vile man in the company, and in hot competition for the All-English Title.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

This sort of battlefield encouragement was only equaled by the call of innumerable US Marine Corps sergeants during the Pacific campaign who, as the front of the LST would drop, would shout out. “Come on, you bastards. Who wants to live forever?”

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?


Well, I’d say that this picture speaks for itself. Clearly, I fall among the group that requires neatness and “tiditude” before I can even consider setting pen to paper, ink to foolscap, or digits to flash memory, as the case may be.

How did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

Well, it couldn’t rank up there with Saint Crispian’s—what can?—but it was a bit of a celebration. I was seconds from punching the keys that would put my first novel “Courier” up online as a self-published book on Amazon when the email came in from my agent saying that this insane and undoubtedly drunken Brit named Emlyn Rees had said he loved my book and was begging to publish it.

I was working the midnight to 10am shift at Bloomberg News at the time and I can remember coming out of my cubicle and telling the happy news to Ronald, the night security guard and the only other person in the entire building. We exchanged a hearty handshake and then he pulled his hat over his eyes and went back to sleep and I returned to my little terminal (it only had two screens and not four like the real hot shots at Bloomberg had,) where I continued to pound out what could only be described as complete fiction since all I understood about international finance came from the immortal Rudyard Kipling:

…deep in the veins of Earth,
And, fed by a thousand springs
That comfort the market-place,
Or sap the power of King,
The Fifth Great River had birth,
Even as it was foretold–
The Secret River of Gold!

It was truly a moment to remember.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I think that I haven’t changed all that much. I was a sort of pretentious and sarcastic kid back then and several of my most recent ex-employers have told me that it was just those characteristics that led them to become ex-employers. In fact, I had no idea that I would become a journalist and, later, a writer, despite the fact that I was Editor-in-Chief of the school newspapers in Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and Twelfth grades.

I was a bright kid but not terribly perceptive.

At the time, I thought I would never become an author because I didn’t want to compete with my father, the noted Beowulf scholar Ted Irving, who had written at least three books that were widely acclaimed as “brilliant.” Of course, now I have some suspicions about those reviews since the bloody things were mostly written in Old English and are still completely impenetrable to me all these years later despite the fact that my brother and I both had hand-me-down typewriters with special keys so we could compose poems like this:


I’m sure that I don’t need to translate these famous stanzas to your educated audience (Thank Goodness, because I still can’t read them!) and, yes, that’s where Tolkien got the Elvish language. In 1951 when my dad brought The Hobbit in to read to my older brother, he said, “Here’s this book from a guy who teaches Old English over in England. Let’s see if it’s any good.”

What is the oddest or craziest thing you have ever done to get rid of writer’s block?

What is writer’s block?

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I agree completely that cover art makes all the difference. As an example, it was this proof of concept by my friend and illustrator Tom Joyce that has literally compelled me to complete my urban paranormal thriller, “Day of the Dragon King: Book One in the Last American Wizard Saga”.


I finished the first draft just yesterday to the complete horror of my agent who is convinced that it will not only destroy my career but his as well.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, “Courier,” a thriller set in the strange world of 1972, where women didn’t work, everyone smoked, and television news was shot on film, will be released on May 1st. The story involves a completely corrupt American President (a fictional character who just happened to have a long nose, jowls, and a tendency to wave his hands in a “V” sign at inappropriate moments) and his cabal of brutal lackeys so it’s being marketed as a fantasy. However, it also has a lot of extremely fast motorcycle riding so I would recommend to anyone who enjoyed The Great Escape or Six Days of the Condor. Since I’ll bet that most of your readers have not watched either movie—even though they both are in color and do have sound—I’d recommend renting them from Netflix.

The instant that sucker hits the market, I will be everywhere that will have me. In fact, you can expect me to show up in your living room or by your bed and encourage you to buy a copy. Don’t be afraid, I’m way too old to be interested in anything but money. You can avoid my bad imitation of Mr. Dickens’ Ghosts of Christmas by simply going to Amazon and pre-buying a copy of “Courier” which is currently on pre-sale so I can presumably make some pre-profits.

Thank you for inviting me and I wish the best to all your readers.

Author Bio:

Terry IrvingAuthor and long-time journalist Terry Irving moved to Washington D.C. in 1973 to kick around for a few weeks and never looked back.

In the nation’s capital, Irving started out riding a classic BMW R60/2 for ABC News during Watergate. Carrying that news film was the beginning of a 40-year career that has included producing Emmy Award-winning television news, writing everything from magazine articles to standup comedy and developing early forms of online media. He has traveled and worked in all 50 states plus parts of Europe, Africa and Asia.

Irving is the winner of four National Emmy Awards, multiple Peabody, DuPont and Telly awards, plus an honor at the Columbus Film Festival. He has produced stories around the world from the fall of the Berlin Wall to Tiananmen Square. He worked as a senior live control room producer at CNN, Fox, ABC and MSNBC. He wrote and edited copy for some of the top anchors and journalists in television news including Ted Koppel, Diane Sawyer, Wolf Blitzer, and Aaron Brown.

Irving is an active member of the International Thriller Writers and the Mystery Writers of America, and serves as a board member of the Foundation for Moral Courage.

Irving is the author of the on-going memoir “On the Road” and the self-help book “The Unemployed Guy’s Guide to Unemployment,” both published in 2012 by Rock Creek Consulting LLC. His debut novel “Courier” releases May 1, 2014 from Exhibit A Books, the crime fiction imprint of Angry Robot Books. It’s the first of several books planned for The Freelancer Series.

Irving and his wife live just outside Washington D.C. because their dog simply refuses to live anywhere else.

Places to Stalk Terry Irving

About the book, Courier

COURIER_VBTIn his daily rounds as a Washington motorcycle courier, Vietnam veteran Rick Putnam has found that the only way to blast the demons from his soul is with the sheer speed of his beloved BMW. However, the race turns very real when he suddenly becomes the target in a lethal pursuit and Rick must find out just who is trying to kill him – and why. “Courier” is the high-velocity thriller by long-time Washington journalist Terry Irving that slashes through the darkness at the heart of our nation’s capital. It’s a fast-paced, finely crafted foray into high-level intrigue, political corruption, and the invisible wounds of war that will keep readers hanging on as the danger threatens to spin out of control.

The year is 1972 in Washington, D.C., a hotbed of government secrets and fractured souls, with the Watergate Scandal heating up and the Vietnam War slowing down. One day during his courier gig, Rick unknowingly picks up a roll of news film that proves the President is guilty of a transgression that would mean not only impeachment and conviction but lifelong disgrace. A rogue CIA agent backed by a Korean assassin and two Saigon cowboys is sent to recover the film and silence Rick – permanently. Rick fights back with the assistance of some of the world’s first computer hackers, two brave congressional staffers, and a motorcycle gang leader who fought by his side in Vietnam’s toughest battle. In the middle of it all, Rick falls in love with a Native American law student who may just be able to bring some peace to his tortured soul.

With its white-knuckle pace and absorbing intrigue, “Courier” is a heart-pumping, riveting read full of high menace, hot motorcycles, and Washington’s own brand of mayhem – the kind you never read about on the front page. It’s a must for anyone who likes their thrillers real and their motorcycles very, very fast.

The Hobbit Read Along Part I

Heldig in her basket. Yes, those are kitty nibble marks on the corner.

First off, a big thanks to Snobbery for inspiring this reread and letting me join in the fun. She has a most excellent discussion of the first 5 chapters, with pictures. Pretty snazzy. So make sure you make your way over there for the bulk of the fun in sharing this book.

I first read this book when I was in 6th or 7th grade and I am shamed to say I have not read it since. Yet it was such a vivid book that so many parts have stuck with me over the years. Oh, and that silly cartoon that I watched over and over again as a kid with all the singing really reinforced the book.

Last year I listened to this great lecture series (Modern Scholar: Tolkien and the West by Michael D. C. Drout) on iTunes that talked about the influences on Tolkein in crafting his stories and went on to discuss Tolkein’s influence on future generations of writers. It was really enlightening about how Tolkien pulled so much from the old European tales, legends, and pantheons of gods. He crafted The Hobbit and his publisher had a young relative read it to see it was worthy. It was . It took Tolkien decades to come up with a sequel, which became much larger and more serious than a child’s book (The Lord of the Rings trilogy). I find it fascinating that he never did stop writing in this world he created, coming up with languages and complicated histories for each of the races.

Snobbery has supplied us with some insightful questions.

1) Songs.  We’ve had a few already.  Did you read/sing them to yourself, or did you skip past them?

I read them. Singing in bed to the cat seemed silly and she has a tendency to whap my lips if I make too much noise while she sleeps on my chest. I enjoyed them as I felt they helped move the story forward or gave background info/motivations to the characters. Though I will admit the dishes songs (where the dwarves are testing the limits of Bilbo’s hospitality) were a bit silly.

2) For those of you who haven’t read The Hobbit before, what are your first impressions based on these initial chapters?  For those of you re-reading, how has your opinion of these chapters changed since the first time you read them?

To this day, I can still remember that The Hobbit was my first book that featured dwarves. It was such a puzzle to me as I had never met anyone really short up to that point and I found it awesome that a revered book featured these folks that were not the standard tall, bronzed, athletic hero types. We got the Geriatric Hero in Gandalf (this name translates as Elf with Stick, I think), our short, Awkward Bearded Heroes in the dwarves, and the Hesitant And Befuddled Hero Bilbo Baggins. This is definitely not your standard adventure story.

Shortly after reading this book, I watched Willow with Warwick Davis. Awesome movie. Still one of my favorites to this day.

3) How do you feel about the way Bilbo escaped from Gollum/the Goblins?  Was he cheating?  Or did he do what had to be done?  This isn’t a question about the narrative aspects (because we know there would have been no story if he’d been gobbled up right away), but rather do you believe he could have clarified?  Stopped Gollum from trying to guess what he had in his pockets?

Definitely a cheat. But his life was on the line, so I cut him slack. I would have done the same thing myself. Did Gollum truly expect to have his opponent loose and then simply lie down and expose his throat for a death bite? If I ever end up in a Riddle Battle, and I loose, and I am about to be eaten, well…. that is the perfect occasion to pull out the hidden knives. Totally socially acceptable.

Other tidbits:

I have had a hairy feet fetish since I was young. I think it started with this book. (Hey! I can see you looking at me sideways!)

Good thing trolls are an argumentative lot and not that bright. I was really worried that the adventure party number was going to decrease right from the beginning.

At Elrond’s place I loved the description that every kind of hospitality could be had depending on what you liked: songs late into the night, good eating, work. Huh, work? Labor as a source of distraction and fun on your vacation is not something I understood as a kid. But now as a farmer, I get it. I would rather be helping friends/relatives with home repairs, gardening, animals on my little vacation than site-seeing.

The Hobbit Read Along – Coming Soon

I haven’t read The Hobbit in years so I decided to join Book Snobbery in a read along.

Here is the schedule for The Hobbit, but here is the link to their post which has info about even more Tolkein they will be reading this summer. I don’t know if I will be able to join in with all the fun this summer, but I can at least squish The Hobbit into my schedule.

June 23 – June 27 Chapters 1-5

June 27 – June 30 Chapters 6-12

June 30 – July 4/5 Chapters 13-19


And they made this cool badge-thingy that had me snort-laughing, so I just had to show you all here:

Courtesy of Book Snobbery