Friday, January 18, 2019

Guest Blogger: James Osborne


Please tell us about your latest book.

SECRET SHEPHERD was released this past November by Solstice and just won an international award as Best Mystery of 2018. The novel is the second in my Maidstone Series, beginning with The Maidstone Conspiracy. A respected New York editor, Lois W. Stern, described SECRET SHEPHERD as “a magnificent story of love and hope prevailing in a world under siege.” Life is good!

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m at work on Book Three in the Maidstone series. The working title is A REASON FOR TREASON. Obviously, espionage factors heavily in this plot.

How do we find out about you and your books?
SECRET SHEPHERD and my other books are listed on the Solstice website, as well as on Amazon: Secret Shepherd. My books and biography are also on my Goodreads Author’s Page and Amazon Author’s Page.

Why did you decide to write mystery/suspense novels?

Ideas for stories in this genre seem to emerge naturally.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

Quite a bit. A varied career has contributed greatly to experiences I draw upon for scenes and episodes in my novels. I’ve had the good fortune to be raised on a wilderness farm, and to have worked as an investigative journalist, college teacher, vice-president of a Fortune 500 company, Army officer and business owner. Each has yielded valuable perspectives and experiences.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?

It began when a grandson encouraged me to write down some of the stories I‘d been sharing with him. Some became short stories and a few provided the plot outlines for the novels to follow.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

Both. I write best in the early morning, that is, sometime after 6 a.m.; earlier in the summer, later in the winter. That said, ideas for scenes or plot twists come to mind anytime. I always carry a notepad and pen wherever I go; I have one in every jacket and vest. And my mobile has a notes function should I be caught without a notebook.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?

My lovely wife is patient and supportive, and has a number of her own interests. We call it parallel play. I’m blessed! Our children are grown.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?

We golf, hike, play pickleball, kayak, bike and garden. I also enjoy doing handyman work, a throwback to the farm and a great counterbalance to writing fiction.

Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas come from career experiences, and from observing the world around us. Hey, I’m a former journalist and thus an unrepentant news junky.

Do you feel humor is important in mystery/suspense novels and why?

Yes. Humor provides a means for the reader to compare and contrast the serious stuff.

What kind of research do you do?

Extensive. My research is mostly online, but I do some in-person where and when possible. Google and Google Earth and Wikipedia are invaluable, but not infallible. It’s imperative that visible and historic facts be correct; errors undermine the credibility of the whole story. This is where sound research backed by good beta readers and excellent editors are absolutely vital.

Please tell us about yourself.

I’ve the good fortune to have had numerous unusual experiences granted few others. I was born on my parents’ living room couch, raised on a farm deep in the wilderness and attended a one-room country school where a dozen or so students ranged across grades one to eight. One winter on the farm with little reading material I browsed through a 1,996-page encyclopedia. I still have it. Since then I’ve read widely, from Plato and Tolstoy to Zane Gray and John Grisham. My undergraduate studies are in psychology and political science, and did graduate work in management at Duke University and corporate finance at University of Virginia, Charlottesville. My father was a master mechanic so before attending university I apprenticed briefly with him but my insatiable curiosity led me to journalism, the only job I ever applied for. Other career opportunities came along. I spent 16 years as a reserve army officer, which took me to numerous parts of the world, thanks to an understanding family. I write more or less full time now, and won’t ever retire.

What are some of your favorite things to do?

Gardening, golfing, walking and enjoying the company of my wonderful wife.

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?

My all-time favorite book is Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea.” One read of it made clear why it earned him the Pulitzer Prize and contributed to his Nobel Prize for Literature. It inspired me to write. I’ve browsed through it a few times. A close second is a book by Albert Einstein, written in lay language. I read it while in my early 20s. It was inspiring. I gave it to someone who needed it; can’t recall the title.

Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?

Nelson DeMille, Michael Connelly, Dan Brown, Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Frederick Forsythe… the list goes on, and on.

What do you think of critique groups in general?

They serve a useful role. They work best when groups are comprised of writers with similar skill levels. New writers need a different kind of guidance, support and encouragement than do more experienced writers. I belong to two online critique groups; don’t participate nearly as much as I should.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Writing something.

How many books have you written, how many have been published?

I’ve written five and had four published. Number five is a second collection of short stories almost ready for submission. It’s a sequel to my collection ENCOUNTERS WITH LIFE. The stories for Volume Two are assembled but some need more work. A sixth book will be part three of the Maidstone Series, mentioned earlier. I’m also working on a second edition of my thriller THE ULTIMATE THREAT, an Amazon bestseller. It’s an update and doesn’t count as another book. Also work is underway on a sequel to it, and that will be book number seven.

After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?

Of course! I buy an initial copy and read through it. Solstice recommends it; a really good idea! I’ll browse it again when a book club or another group invites me to discuss it.

Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?

I read somewhere that an author ought not to play favorites. That said, I enjoyed writing SECRET SHEPHERD more than the others. I don’t know why. My favorite characters are the chief protagonists in the series.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

Feedback from readers.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?

Looking for something to do… that is, besides golfing, gardening, hiking, kayaking, etc., etc.

What is your greatest desire?

In the realm of writing, seeing one of my books on the big or small screen.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

This applies as much to freelancing articles and short stories as it does to book manuscripts: First, prepare to exercise endless patience and perseverance. It will pay off, but know you have competition – some 950+ books are published every single day. 2. Do lots of homework. That is, read voraciously in your genre and related genres. 3. Never submit a manuscript until it has been critiqued by beta readers and edited by a professional editor. Then go through it again, and again… and again. 4. Research thoroughly what publishers are looking for at any given time. They have specialties and trends change. They know what the reading public wants at any given time. 5. Learn how to write query letters and synopses. This is crucial! 6. Everything you need to know can be found online. Take the time to find it. Best of luck!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Guest blogger: J.D Sanderson

                                           A Footstep Echo by [Sanderson, J. D.]

Please tell us about your latest book.

My current book is called A Footstep Echo. It’s a character-driven sci-fi time travel mystery. One of my early beta readers described it as Doctor Who meets The Bourne Identity, which I think is perfect.

The book features two main characters – Bernard Abbey and The Mystery Girl. Bernard is a bit of an unusual protagonist because he’s in his 70’s and kind of cranky. The Mystery Girl is 28, and unable to speak. It makes for some interesting character development!

So many sci-fi novels revolve around the question of how people deal with adversity. I wanted mine to be about how we deal with progress.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m currently writing a sequel which I’ve titled The Clock’s Knell. It’s a darker story, told over a five act structure. If the first one was Doctor Who meets The Bourne Identity, this one is Doctor Who meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

How do we find out about you and your books?
The best thing to do is follow me on Twitter – You can also follow me on Goodreads or on my Amazon Author page -

Why did you decide to write science fiction novels?

I’ve been a fan of science fiction for as long as I can remember. My influences range from Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica to Lost and Doctor Who. I’m also a collector of a number of classic authors.

My most unique influence has to be my collection of vintage 50’s radio plays. That kind of storytelling forces you to use your imagination – something I really wanted to try and do with my writing.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

All of it.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?

I first tried to write at the age of 15. Between 15 and 35, I started and abandoned 10 books. Then I watched the Netflix original series The OA. It blew me away. Once I saw that, I realized there was room in the universe for the smaller scale type of sci-fi story I wanted to tell. I started writing and finished the book within a year.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

I write when I have time. I work a full-time job and am busy raising an adorable baby girl, so time is tight. The good news is I can get 3-5K words done at a time.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?

My wife is insanely supportive and doesn’t mind if I take time late at night after our daughter’s gone to sleep. I prefer to write at night, so it works out well. She’s also one hell of an editor!

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?

A good movie or favorite episode of Star Trek never hurts!

Where do your ideas come from?

I don’t plan out my stories or try to emulate what I love. My best ideas come when I’m winging it at the keyboard and thinking to myself “What haven’t I seen before?”

Do you feel humor is important in sci-fi and why?

Humor can have a place in any type of story. For me, I feel that humorous lines are very expensive, and I shouldn’t spend them unless I absolutely need to. I feel that pop culture storytelling is awash in bathos, the anticlimactic effect created when a joke is inserted. Humor is used so heavily in some TV shows and films that it completely undercuts any dramatic weight. It’s something I try like hell to avoid.

What kind of research do you do?

A TON. I’m not operating in the science fantasy realm. My books are character-driven, but they’re hard science fiction. I listened to hours of podcasts and free college lectures. I also read ever old physics or futurism book I had on my shelves to make sure I was keeping things believable.

Please tell us about yourself.

I’m fortunately enough to work in communications, which means I get to write every single day. I’m married to a wonderful woman, and we have a beautiful daughter and spunky mini poodle we love very much. Currently, we live in Central, South Dakota

What are some of your favorite things to do?

I love to walk the dog, write, play music, and go to the movies. A trip to Starbucks never hurts either!

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?

My favorite author is sci-fi maverick Charles Sheffield. My favorite book, however, is Watership Down.

Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?

David Weber, Ted Chiang, William H. Keith, Jr, Isaac Asimov, Frederick Pohl, and Robert Heinlein.

What do you think of critique groups in general?

I haven’t used one before. I’ve heard good and bad things. Right now, I prefer to work with a few beta readers of varied tastes and interests.

Where do you see yourself in five years?


How many books have you written, how many have been published?

I’ve written and published one novel, with a sequel hot on its heels. I’ve also submitted two short stories to some great publications, and am waiting to hear back.

After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?

I had to buy it to get my own copy. I reread it before starting work on the sequel.

Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?

One of the characters in my first book is a young female scientist named Tal. She’s short, kind of mousy, and very shy. She’s the opposite of almost everyone else. Much to my surprise, she became a fan favorite character. I guess she’s become one of mine as well, because she’s taken a leading role in the sequel story.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

You get to create the world as you wish to see it.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?

Something creative I’m sure. That bug has bitten me one way or another since I was 5.

What is your greatest desire?

To tell stories, and to be a good husband and dad.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

Be original, and write for you. Try not to worry if someone else likes or approve it. It’s cliché, but what matters the most is whether or not you love it.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Karma Is A Bitch

Karma Is A Bitch by [Stevens, Lizzy, Miller, Steve]

Karmas are immortals that kept the not so good people in line. They lived by the motto “Do bad things bad things will happen.” Tessa Waters was one of the best Karmas of the Karma realm. However, she wasn’t the fastest. She would watch over the realms, Earth, being her main realm. When she saw somebody not behaving she would send down a Karma punishment on that person. They were always funny and made the other Karmas laugh but she wasn’t fast enough. The head Karma thought it would help Tessa if instead of watching from a far she went down to Earth and passed out the punishments up close. Maybe that would make her faster. She could not return until she hit 100 Karmas. Tessa thought that would be no problem. Until the trickster of all tricksters, Loki, got in her way. How was she supposed to pass out Karmas if Loki was right in the way playing pranks on everyone? Now Tessa had to deal with the trouble makers and Loki. How was she supposed to hit her goal of 100 and make it back home? 

Quick Read ~ Short Story

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Why I write short stories

Why I write short stories and quick reads.

There is a place in this world for both large long novels and short ones. Everyone doesn't have the same amount of time. I remember when my boys were in elementary school. For the pick up line you had to get there close to an hour early or you would be wrapped around the building and down the road LOL  So you have close to an hour to just sit and wait. Short stories and even the shorter quick reads are perfect for that. 

You don't have to worry about losing your place or forgetting what you read because you might not get a chance to pick the book back up for a few days. Especially if you started reading it in the drive up line at school on a Friday. It's going to be Monday before you get a chance to read again and by then you have lost your place and need to go back and reread a few pages.

Or people who have to sit in the waiting room at the doctor's office. Sometimes you sit out there for a half hour to an hour to be called. A good little fast read that you can do all in that one sitting is perfect. You were kept from being bored and you finished the story so you don't have to worry about where you left off.

Life can be crazy busy and a fast getaway is perfect.

Don't look down on short story authors. Just because the book isn't 500 pages doesn't mean it isn't just as good as the 500 page book.

There is a place in this world for both.

Thanks to all of my readers who take a chance on my books. I couldn't do this without you!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Guest Blogger: KC Sprayberry

Blaze A Team Omega Thriller is an exciting psychological thriller from best-selling author, K.C. Sprayberry. This particular story has been in my to be completed files for sixteen years. The concept was always a group of Elementals, individuals capable of manipulating earth, wind, water, and air to control wildfires, working together and sometimes against each other. It wasn’t until I noticed a trend of brush fires in California, blazes that seemed almost unnatural, that I came up with the thrilling adventure this tale is now.

Fires ravage California for eight long years.

Into the fray of taming these beasts comes a group of people with the power to control the elements of fire, water, wind, and earth.

Their only duty is to subdue the flames ravaging the state, to assist firefighters, hot shots, and smoke jumpers dedicated to protecting the Golden State.

You can get this exciting book here:

One team stands out among the others, a group of four twenty-three year olds. They came into their abilities while these blazes were at their strongest. Dakota Henderson, Cary Toronto, Fante Cyndall, and Luisa Henderson appear to be ordinary people, doing normal jobs. Yet, when the call out comes, they dive into the belly of the beast to protect those threatened with the flames of destruction.

One of them receives the ability to lead all Elementals, the powers to battle against rogues from their organization. Can this individual put a stop to these wildfires and bring peace back to the embattled state?

About K.C. Sprayberry

Born and raised in Southern California, K.C. Sprayberry is living a dream she’s had since she first discovered the magic of books. She traveled the U.S. and Europe before finally settling in the mountains of Northwest Georgia. She’s been married to her soulmate for a quarter of a century and they enjoy spoiling their grandchildren along with many other activities.

A multi-genre author, K.C. Sprayberry is always on the hunt for new stories. Inspiration strikes at the weirdest times and drives her to grab notebook and pen to jot down her ideas. Those close to her swear nothing or no one is safe if she’s smiling gently in a corner and watching those in the same room interact. Her observations have often given her ideas for her next story, set not only in the South but wherever the characters demand they settle.







Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My youngest and his belief in Santa Clause

My youngest is now almost 15 & I still remember the time he asked if Santa was real. My husband and I agreed that we would follow the tradition but we wouldn't lie. If they came right out and asked then we would be honest.

So we did the whole leave the cookies and milk out for Santa year after year. We wrote letters. They got photos taken at the local store.

Then Kindergarten came about LOL and he came in and he said kids were arguing about it at school. Some said he wasn't real some said he was. So what is the answer? Is he real or not.

That's when I told him that Santa wasn't real but not to mess it up for other kids. Now that you know you keep this secret so they can continue to have fun with it.
He nodded his head and says that's what I thought LOL 

And he never told. 

A Surprise For Christmas by [Stevens, Lizzy]

Samantha wasn’t expecting what she got for Christmas this year. Her doorbell rang and there sitting on her porch was a baby in a basket. This changes her life for the good. But then something happens. The baby’s father comes for his child. How can Samantha convince him that she is the best thing for the child?

The Christmas Wish by [Stevens, Lizzy]

Bethany’s life is turned upside down when she lost the love of her life Tyson on Christmas. A year goes by when she is suddenly offered a chance to undo the past by Fate dressed up as Santa. Is this for real? Can she really make a wish on a star and get her beloved back or is somebody playing a mean trick on her?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Guest Blogger: Nicole C Luttrell

After years of war between Montelair and Septa, the two thrones are united by family. Victor's nephew, Morgan, is sharing the throne with the last heir of the royal line, Jacob. He and Lenore decide to travel to Montelair with their newborn daughters to help broker peace.But peace among their own people is harder to achieve. The city is tormented by a terrorist who calls himself The Tinker. He and his group of anarchists plant bombs through the city and call for the death of the new kings from every street corner.Meanwhile, in Calistar, Sultiana and Devon are marching to war with Kussier. The ancient hatred between the two countries is sprung anew when Sultiana is declared heir to the Calistar throne.Waiting at the border, though, is a much darker enemy. A force from legend threatens to consume both countries, and possibly the world.

Get it at Amazon

Get it at Smashwords