Saturday, December 27, 2008

Watching a Strange Urban Subculture

The Unseen by T.L. Hines

Have you ever felt someone was watching you. How about the tiny hole in the ceiling that glitters when you look at it? It may be Lucas, or a member of the Creep Club.

Lucas is a very sympathetic character. A loner, he lives vicariously watching people in offices. His thoughts and style of life pull you in almost against your will. It's like visiting a foreign country where the fascinating rituals are not part of your daily life.

I enjoyed the first chapters of the book, being a watcher, myself, in Lucas' unusual world. Then the scene changes. He becomes involved with other watchers, the Creep Club, but these are more sinister. Lucas hopes for a connection with the person watched. The Creep Club members watch in private homes and violence appeals to them. Lucas abhors the delight his fellow watchers feel in getting violence on camera. He wants to help the people not exploit their suffering for “art”.

The end of the book is a typical thriller chase scene with Lucas always one step ahead of annihilation pursued by spies, the police, the CIA and other strange agencies. I felt the book lost something at this point. The chase scene seemed almost disconnected from the first half of the book.

For those who enjoy thrillers, this is a good read. It's a fascinating view of an urban subculture that will have you wondering about the sounds in the walls.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Linda Ballou's Hawaiian Novel





Linda Ballou


For purchase, visit * *

Your Local Book Store

ISBN 10: 1-932993-88-6

ISBN 13: 978-1-932993-88-2



280 pages

Linda gives a brief description of the story.

Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai’i – Her Epic Journey is an historical novel couched in magical realism set in pre-contact Hawai’i. Wai-nani’s character is inspired by the personage of Ka’ahumanu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great, who was responsible for ending the 2,000-year-old Polynesian “kapu system.” The turbulent romance of these Hawaiian icons is set against the backdrop of Hawai’i’s most dynamic period between 1740 and 1820. Captain James Cook arrived in 1778. Cook’s visit triggered change that facilitated forces already set in play by Kamehameha (Makaha), the warrior prophesied at birth to bring the splintered Island people under one rule. Precocious Ka’ahumanu, always the center of controversy, is revered by some as the loving “Mother of the people” and by others as the “flaw that brought down chiefdom.”

Wai-nani embodies all that was good in ancient Polynesian society. Athletic, assertive, and brave she stands beside her warrior-king husband sharingin his joys and sorrows for forty years. Like all Hawai’ians, she is a water baby—finding strength, solace and wisdom in the sea. Her greatest pleasure isswimming with her wild dolphin friend, Eku. Throughout her life, she rails againstthe “kapu system” that calls for human sacrifices, separate eating-houses formen and women, and severe penalties for the slightest infractions of lawsimposed upon the common people by ruling chiefs and priests vested with thepower of gods.

My research included living on Kauai for a year, extensive reading andmany subsequent visits to the Islands to walk in the footsteps of the ancients. Ihave come to know the rich poetic expression of a sensual people inspired by thebeauty of their natural surroundings. Even though the old Hawai’ians were agenerous people they were also fierce and given to tribal wars. Inbreedingamong royals was encouraged and resulted in a statuesque, handsome race ofgiants. They had a distinct class system assigned by bloodline. Commonerstended to the land, fished and provided for the high chiefs and their courts. Wai-nani shows us that even though many have called the ways of long ago harsh, even savage, the beauty of the land and the mighty ocean washed through the hearts and minds of the ancients who were a deeply spiritual people.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Meet Linda Ballou

I asked Linda how she had decided to write about Hawaii.

My appreciation for nature took me to Kauai, the most luscious of all the Hawaiian Islands with pleated cliffs and treacherous seas fending off newcomers. It is believed by Hawaiians that a mantle of mana (spiritual power) protects the island from harm. It is here that I listened to wind voices and the seed for my historical novel Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai`i – Her Epic Journey took root in my heart. This story inspired by the powerful personage of Ka`ahumanu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great is a poetic rendering of the ancients with tales of heroes and heroines doing supernatural deeds of mythological proportions. The people of old Hawai'i were connected to nature, played freely, loved passionately and communed with gods that dwelled in every tree, rock and flower. This book is written in the name of Wai-nani with great Aloha.

My quest today is to get to as many naturally beautiful places as I can before they are no more! I have hiked, biked, kayaked and ridden on horseback through some of our most precious wilderness areas. My travel articles and photos have appeared in numerous national publications. My essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and various literary journals. “Look Both Ways on Small Islands” was included in the I Should Have Stayed Home anthology published by RDR Books. Please go to my website where you may view many of my articles and photos. If you look closely your reward will be to discover the Secret to Youth.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bullying -- Lea Schizas theme for YA and Children's Books

Bullying is something that happens in schools and playgrounds. It can have serious consequences for young children. Bubba and Giganto illustrates this theme on the soccer field.

Synopsis of the story.

Bubba hates it when his dad gets a contract for a new project. That means uprooting the family from one city and moving to another. Attending a new school is a major pet peeve of his. His smart alecky nature attracts the bullies in every school he’s attended.

On the first day of school, Bubba bumps into this rather large student. Fearing a confrontation, he wears his tough guy attitude and waits for the punches to begin. Remarkably, the new student apologizes, and Bubba and David (aka Giganto as Bubba eventually nicknames him) become best friends.

Bubba and Giganto try out for the high school soccer team, and that’s when trouble begins. Bubba knew eventually he’d meet the bullies of the school, and he was right.

In the first initial weeks, Bubba learns about a death that occurred the previous year; faces the bullies on several occasions; helps Giganto practice soccer before tryouts; and challenges the bullies to a scrimmage.

Little does Bubba know Giganto holds a secret - one that will place Giganto in a deadly situation.

I asked Lea about her next project. Again the theme of bullying came up.

I know you've signed on for a new book with 4RV publishing. Since we have so many children's authors visiting our blogs, I think they'd be interested in how you got your idea and anything else you'd like to share about your new project.

My newest contract with 4RV Publishing is a children’s picture book, Libby the Odd Squirrel. I used squirrels because they’re cute but also they are like kids – friends one moment then chasing each other down the street the next.

The whole book is a universal theme: friendships and bullying. My first book with 4RV, Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us, also is based on bullying but geared for the 12- 15 year-old age group. Libby is a cute story on one little squirrel’s attempt to make friends, how one squirrel attempts but steers away when the ‘boss’ squirrel approaches, and the turn of events that pits Libby into making a decision that risks her life.

This is typical in children nowadays, a theme they can relate to. Some children try to make friends; but there’s always one in the crowd who is a leader and manipulates others to shun that other child. Children can openly relate to topics they have experienced in their lives that’s why it’s important for writers to keep that in mind.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lea Schizas Discusses Publishing

Girl reading in the library

The publishing business has to be a major concern for writers and the news now is mostly bad. The big print publishers are having cut backs. Simon and Schuster has reduced their workforce by 2 percent; Thomas Nelson, by 10 percent. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has put a hold on contracting for new books. The bad news goes on. On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal today December 4, 2008, has an article about Kindle. Amazon can't keep them in stock.

Since Lea Schizas is Editor in Chief for Red Rose Publishing. I asked her for her thoughts on the future of ebooks.

Since you're an editor for Red Rose Publishing, primarily an ebook publisher, what do you think about the future of ebooks?

At first I had my reservations about ebooks because, like me, many prefer a print copy in their hands to take with them and read wherever and whenever they want. However, from the moment the handheld devices were introduced, where you can upload an x amount of ebooks, sales have been on the up rise. Ebooks are cheaper than print books and the customer gets immediate gratification when they buy. The download in most cases is immediate. Even bigger publishing houses have jumped on the bandwagon so that tells it all.

Will more and more books be published as ebooks, or will we still see the preponderance of books published as print books?

For the time being, once more understand that you can carry a novel in these handheld devices, I believe print books will still be a bigger preference over ebooks. As I explained above, there are many who believe ebooks means sitting by the computer for long periods, reading novels. That’s not the case. Although I don’t have a Kindle device or any other one, I’ve been told you read a book as though you are holding a print copy in your hands. Once the word goes out, then I do believe ebooks will begin to surpass print books.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Meet Lea Schizas Author and Editor

Lea Schizas is a mother of five and tenderly referred as ‘Mother Hen’ by many writers.

Many have asked me where I find the time to do all that I do. Easy, when you have a deep passion for your work, you will always find time to complete your projects.

Lea Schizas is the founder of The MuseItUp Club, an online critique community, the Muse Online Writers Conference, and co-founder of Apollo’s Lyre. Each of these venues has consistently been in Writer’s Digest 100 Top Writing Sites since 2005.

For more information on her blogs, upcoming books, zines/newsletters, go here:

Lea is an editor as well as a talented writer.

In a previous interview, Donna Mc Dine asked her: What do you find to be more challenging: editing other writers’ manuscripts or developing your own?

I don’t have a hard time developing my ideas into penned words, nor the editing stage. I do have a hard time figuring out if I’m objective enough and deleted inconsequential passages to the fullest extend. That is why a critique partner or an editor comes in handy. We need another pair of eyes to catch things we are too involved with to see.

I have absolutely no difficulty editing other manuscripts because I am totally objective to this work and can spot plot holes, passive writing, weak dialogue easier than its creator.

. . . . .

Since Lea is editor in chief of Red Rose Publishing and edits for several other publishers including 4RV, a publisher of children's as well as adult books, it seemed like a good opportunity to get her views on what an editor looks for in a submission. She also gives me gives me a plug for Summer's Story, a mainstream romance novel being released by Red Rose Publishing on December 18th. Lea is a wonderful promoter for other people. Thank you, Lea.

As an editor, what do you look for in a book that you might consider for publication?

That’s easy. I’m looking for a twist in a story. Reading so many submissions after a while you can predict the ending. If a writer can surprise me along the way and throw me off track, then they’ve done their job. This doesn’t mean they can have a passive voice, or tell a story – a book needs to draw a reader into that make-believe world using an active voice, a showing mode, and strong characters with dilemmas that keep a reader hooked.

Do you look for different things in a children's book, as opposed to an adult romance novel for example?

Most definitely. First off I look at the age appropriate content for the author’s intended audience. The topic matter must be something that particular age group can relate to and understand. As in adult books, strong characters (and in kids books the main character should be either the same age or 2-4 years older – kids love reading books where the characters are slightly older than them), interesting situations, and a fully fleshed ending are important aspects in kids books. Mysteries, spooky horror and fantasy continue to be two strong genres for kids books – the 8 and over crowd.

In adult romance, I want to read more than the Cinderella/Pretty Woman theme. That’s been done, over and over again. HEA (Happily Ever After) are still strong, but writers need to add new twists. Let’s take your romance novel for example. I liked Summer’s Story because you gave your character a unique career: a horse breeder. You bring your reader into the horsing world, giving them a glimpse of the behind the scene action in horseracing. That competition between one horse owner and another, the sneakiness and underhandedness in others…these were just some of the qualities that drew me into your story and why you got the contract. A novel must maintain a reader’s interest throughout. That’s the quality I’m looking for as submissions editor.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons

From the fertile fields of Grenoble to the luxurious Court of Louis the XIV, Golden Keyes Parsons brings the world of 17th century France to life. It is the story of Madeleine Clevell and her family, Huguenots, but with strong ties to the court. When dragoons descend on the Clevell estate, Madeline determines to save her family by calling on her youthful friendship with King Louis. Although her husband and mother try to dissuade her from her desire to go to Versailles, she insists believing the King will be the same infatuated suitor of her youth. It is a gamble that teaches Madeleine many things about the world and most of all about her self.

Parsons has created a fast paced adventure that weaves the historical details of the persecution of the Huguenots into the story of one woman's courage to save her family and remain true to her faith. This is a must-read novel for aficionados of historical fiction. If the subsequent novels in the series are of the same caliber, Parsons will have a superb series. -- Nancy Famolari, author of Summer's Story

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dogmen by Patricia Crandall

Today Patricia gives us a taste of her novel. Sounds like a great read.

The Dog Men

Ten-year-old Wyatt and eleven-year-old Hannah uncover the dark world of

illegal dogfights when they trespass at a Vermont farm and peep through a

barn window. And when crotchety old Lester Cranshaw's dog, Paddy, turns

up missing, there is no holding him back from investigating the situation and

the kids join in. In the dead of night after the trio are captured and held

hostage at the Inglis farm, Wyatt will need all of his wits and courage to

escape In order to save the lives of his Friends. THE DOG MEN draws the

reader into a tempest of animal abuse, lawlessness, and kidnapping within

the confines of small-town happenings. A Chilling plot and a peerless

relationship between kids, adults and pets.

The Dog Men by Patricia Crandall

Book Information:

Publisher: Publish America

For purchase, visit



Monday, November 17, 2008

Patricia Crandal Talks About Writing a Mystery

Today's question for Patricia: What are you writing now?

I am currently working on several mysterycrime
stories, a series of contemporary and
family short fiction and novels. I put aside
whatever free time I have for writing.
My feelings as a poet have affected my role
as a mother by allowing me to capture in
poetry the formative years of my children.
These poems are snapshots in words.
Whenever I read them, I see my children as
they were during that moment in time.
I like to write mysteries because I like to read
mystery stories. It all began with the Nancy
Drew series by Carolyn Keene when I was a
pre-teen in the 1950s. Each holiday, I would
request the latest Nancy Drew title and upon
receiving it, I would curl-up in an oversized
chair and begin reading the fast-paced
adventure. Prior to that time, I was hooked
on the Bobbsey Twins.

My first effort at writing a mystery story
detailed a long, frightening chase by a
sinister man. A dark tunnel appeared, leading
to (of course) a haunted mansion. The notso-
brilliant ending had me saved by the man
of my life at the time - my father.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Meet Patricial Crandall

This week I'm hosting Patricia Crandall, a very fascinating author. I'll be posting new information about Patricia every day this week. For today, I'll let Patricia tell you a little about herself.

Welcome, Patricia

I was born Patricia Crandall in Bennington,
Vermont.Presently, I live with my husband,
Art, at Babcock Lake in the Grafton
Mountains near Petersburgh, New York. My
daughter and her family live nearby. Also
living near us is our son. I have two
granddaughters and one grandson. I devote
time to my family, writing and community
work. I enjoy reading, skiing, golfing,
knitting, walking/hiking, swimming,
exercising and traveling.

I have a vast number of poetry/haiku,
numerous articles and short stories published
in many small press magazines and a variety
of newspapers. I have won many poetry
awards and have two books in print, Melrose,
Then and Now, a historical volume and I
Passed This Way, containing poetry

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Midnight Hours – A can't put down crime story

While recovering from an accident that confined him to a wheel chair, Police detective Martin Rogers finds an interest in life through an Internet connection with a lovely woman. Or is she what she seems? She has given Martin a reason for living, but when she sends a picture of herself that is a duplicate of one found in the pocket of a dead paraplegic, Martin and his police buddies wonder if she's given him a reason for dying.

The author makes you believe in the reality of her characters. Details of the investigation are true to life. The Oklahoma countryside is beautifully described and gives the novel a strong sense of place. The plot is filled with surprising, but thoroughly believable twists that keep the reader guessing up to and beyond the last page.

Zabel has created a fast moving plot with characters you come to care about, a satisfying romance, and suspense that keeps you reading. Readers of crime fiction will appreciate Zabel's latest novel and will be hoping for more. I love a good murder mystery. I recommend this one highly for readers who are looking for interesting and believable characters, a tension filled plot, and a realistic setting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bubba and Giganto: Against the Odds -- Review

Exciting soccer games, a special friendship, and a hint of mystery make Bubba and Giganto: Against the Odds a book that will win the hearts of middle-grade boys and girls. Bubba, a veteran of moves to new schools uses his skills as a soccer player to fit in to his new environment. He forms a friendship with Giganto, an over weight, shy boy who also has aspirations to play soccer. Some team members bully Giganto in an effort to keep him off the team. The mystery of why they are so down on him and the tactics Bubba uses to support his friend keep the reader turning the pages.

Lea Schizas, the author, has captured the world of high school athletes with believable characters and fast paced action scenes on the soccer field. The book is a good read, but in addition gives a profound look at the problem of bullying in schools. Many students are faced with the choice of whether to support the bully, stand up to him, or ignore the problem. Bubba is a role model for how to fight the bully, not with your fists, but with your brains, and most important how to support your friend.

Bubba and Giganto: would be an excellent choice for a class discussion in grades 6 – 8 on how to deal with bullying. The book is available from Amazon. More information is available on the author's blog:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jonathan Mayberry's Workshop

Last weekend I attended a workshop by Bram Stoker winner, Jonathan Maberry. I was a little put off by the fact that he writes horror/thrillers., since I write romance, YA and mysteries. However, I went to the workshop, because when you live in the boonies like I do, you take what you can get.

With Jonathan it was more than take what you can get. He's an exceptional presenter. For six hours, he kept us spell bound with advice and stories from his experience. I haven't taken notes this way since graduate school. I'll give you a couple of points I liked and may do more later. I have a notebook full of ideas.

Social Networking is important. I have two novel contracts with Red Rose Publishing, so I knew I had to do it, but until I heard Jonathan, I wasn't sure how to be effective. I had accounts and invited a few friends, but I figured that wasn't going to sell many books that way. My friends would probably buy them, but I needed broader exposure. Here's Jonathan's suggestion: make a list of the successful writers in your genra and see if they have pages on My Space or Facebook, then invite them to be friends. Being a rather shy person, I would never have thought of doing that, but what do you have to lose. Worst case, they will say 'No,” but there are lots of nice writers out there who are willing to help newbies. Jonathan told several stories about people who established relationships with "famous" people and got known because of it.

Another idea that caught me because I write Flash Fiction is the commuter novel. The style is often associated with Dan Brown. He writes very short chapters opening with a hook and ending at a crisis point. After doing several surveys, the publishers discovered that people read these novels all the way through. Because the chapters are short, you quit feeling that you've made progress – hence the commuter idea. People reading on the way to work want a good stopping place when they get off the train. I've written flash fiction and I know writing this way isn't easy, but it has the potential of getting your readers more involved in the story and keeping them there.

Jonathan made other good points, but I think I'll keep them for another post.

About Me

Nancy Famolari is retired. She lives with her husband, five horses, two dogs and five white cats on a farm in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Her stories and poems have appeared in Long Story Short, Flash Shot, Fiction Flyer, Lyrica, and Matters of the Heart from the Museitup Press. She received an award from Fiction Flyer for one of her flash fiction stories. Her novel,“Summer's Story,” will be available soon from Red Rose Publishing. The novel is based on her fourteen years of experience breeding, training and racing Standardbred horses.