Sunday, July 31, 2011

Second place in the FIBP Tour de Trailer

Writers now make book trailers - little movies to market their works. It's part of the new normal in the publishing business.  In order to give some deserving folks a bit of publicity, my publishers, FIBP, ran a trailer contest

Last week I posted the First place winner, Say Goodbye by Robert Capko, here:

Now, here is the second place winner, Sons of the Great Satan by Anthony H. Roberts :

Here is a description of the book, and it sounds fascinating:
When American teenager Joey Andrews and his family arrive in Tehran, Iran in 1976 they find an expatriate paradise within one of the world's oldest civilizations. Through the bold and imperious leadership of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, this ancient land is thrust into the modern age bringing great progress to some and seething resentment to others. It is the twilight of an empire, the last golden hours before the fall of darkness.

SONS OF THE GREAT SATAN leads the reader through a cataclysmic event as seen through the lives of the Andrews family of Peligrosa, Texas and the Zadehs of Tehran, Iran. Joey Andrews and Farhad Zadeh form a friendship amid a naive wonderland of teenage sex, drugs and rock'n'roll that explodes into a firestorm that rocks a nation. 

Enjoy the second place winner!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Last Week's Blackout, or: It Must be Whiny Monday

After about a month of blips, last week my internet came to a shuddering halt. It would have been okay, had I not just scored a possible interview with the creator of a new paranormal show on the Travel Channel, been in the middle of cover design for the print edition of The Night Watchman Express, and continuing my obsession about keeping up to date on all forms of social media (which now, apparently, also includes Google +.)

I managed to get some massages through by calling some friends  and begging them to post stuff for me on Facebook. "Please, could you tell everyone I'm still alive? All righty then."

I was  also thinking about my little bloggy-poo, here, since it tends to wither if not watered everyday. So I suppose this column is by way of an apology for neglecting you last week. Or perhaps I just want to yell, Hey! Not my fault!

In any case, the cable guy eventually showed up. In his favor, he looked like this:

"Make certain you're home between 10 and 6, ma'am."
However, since last week was an incredible heat wave and the poor man was working outside, he smelled like this:

"Looks like you need a new router..."
I don't care, though. He fixed my cable connection. So, I'm baaaaaaack.....

PS: Cool downloads for your Kindle here. And if you join KDP they are free. This link tells you how!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Say Goodbye, the First Place winner of Le Tour de Trailer

This is the first prize winning video! The book is Say Goodbye, by Robert Capko.

America is ready for a new type of hero. John Paxton is a man who understands duty--both to his family and to his country. As a highly decorated pararescueman in the Air Force, he's risked his own life numerous times to save the lives of others. He is the epitome of the pararescue motto: These Things We Do That Others May Live. But now that he's married with two small children, he's content as an instructor at Lackland Air Force Base.

Then Paxton is commanded to lead a team on a dangerous mission--supposedly to rescue the pilot of a stealth fighter shot down over Serbia. Yet, nothing is as it seems. As the mission goes from bad to worse, Paxton uncovers a deadly plot that threatens National Security. But to fight an enemy with ties to one of the most dangerous organizations on the planet, he risks not only his own life, but also the lives of the people he loves the most.

"SAY GOODBYE is a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat page-turner. Don't miss it!"
~Michele Bardsley, national bestselling author

"Finally, a thrilling true-to-life novel about America's ultra-elite but largely unsung special operations force, the Air Force Pararescuemen."
~Matthew Bracken, former Navy SEAL and author of the ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC series.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Announcing the winners of 'Le Tour de Trailer'

First place - Blog/Facebook/Twitter tour July 21st

Say Goodbye by Robert Capko

Second place - Blog/Facebook/Twitter tour July 22nd

Sons of the Great Satan by Anthony H. Roberts

Third place - Blog/Facebook/Twitter tour July 23rd

Children of the Elementi by Ceri Clark

Congratulations to all three, and to Danielle Raver, who did a spectacular job of running the contest.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter and My Obvious Obsession

Yes it's another HP post, and yes, I'm obsessed - but who's not, eh? Hm? Nice  opening weekend numbers, btw, Harry.

Really long movie line

I'm actually waiting to see the movie, because i promised a friend and her son that I and my daughter would go with them. This means that when other people talk about the movie (hello, daughter's best friend who went on and on about the ending) I have to cover my ears and sing, LALALALALA

It reminds  me  of those wonderful, nerve wracking days  when the books came  out. I insisted on getting the English versions. Not that I mind the Scholastic versions - the illustrations are  far better, obviously, and the covers are  gorgeous (more  on that later.) No, I just wanted to read the actual words that Ms  Rowling wrote. Hagrid should say Mummy, not Mommy, when talking about the baby dragon looking at him.

Some of the covers for the English version are  pretty bad. The Philosopher's Stone (there  is no such thing as a Sorcerer's Stone) is  really nice, but the Deathly Hallows is badly conceived. Ron looks like he's  got a weird, goblin arm. Clower inspection proves that the arm carrying the  sword is actually Griphook's:

UK cover for The Deathly Hallows

In any case, since I was waiting for the book to come from the UK, I had to wait while all my friends read their versions.

Especially for The Order of the Phoenix. There was the  usual "death of a major character" newsbreak, and  I was dreadfully afraid it would be Ron.

And I had to try not to listen to the conversation. And now I'm doing it again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deleted Scenes

When my daughter and I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 (and one of just might have worn Gryffindor robes and brought a Pygmy Puff and Ginny Weasely's wand to the cinema) we thoroughly enjoyed it. However, there were some scenes from the book I missed in the movie.

Ginny's Pygmy Puff

My favorite, and one that seemed to reflect the second quote in the front of the book, was set in the Lovegood home. When Harry, Hermione, and Ron went upstairs to Luna's room, they saw a mural of the three of them and Luna as well as Ginny and Neville. The six figures in the mural were interconnected with a gold chain which, about closer inspection, proved to be made of the word "friends," written over and over again.

I know it's not terribly exciting, but the theme of friendship was so important during the books that I wish the painting had made it to the big screen. They could have cut out the scene of Harry and Hermione dancing in the tent, IMO, although I did like that song they danced to.

Of all the characters in the book, Ron got the most shortchanged. Where was the whole story line about the Keeper in Quidditch? It got shoved in as a reason for Lavender to jump him in the Half-Blood Prince, but where were the Weasely is King buttons?

Speaking of that, how are Ron and Hermione going to hook up without the whole SPEW plot? It got cut from the films (and rightfully so - it was a bit silly) but it was the whole reason that - oh, they'll have to come up with something good.

(All right, I'll admit here and now that I'm a bit obsessed with Ron. OK? OK.)

Finally, there was a scene from the DH 1 movie that was filmed, but deleted. It's a piece between Ron (shocker) and Hermione, and I think it's too good to miss:

How about you? What scenes from the books do you wish had made it to the movies?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brainstorm, by Gordon A. Kessler

NOTE - At the end of the column, find out how you can enter the running to win an eReader!
My guest blogger today is Gordon Kessler,  a former US Marine parachutist, recon scout, and Super Squad team leader. As well as Brainstorm, he has Indie published the thrillers Jezebel and Dead Reckoning, as well as a how-to book, Novel Writing Made Simple.  His websites, and www.IndieWritersAlliance, are landing pages for writers to help them in their writing endeavors. 
Here are what two bestselling authors say about Brainstorm:
“ exciting and fast-paced as a thrill ride on a dive bomber, a maelstrom of action, violence, murder and mayhem, way too much fun to put down...based on an actual black CIA program known as ‘Project Stargate. Kessler...really knows his stuff. An outstanding novel.”— Douglas Preston, bestselling author of The Codex, Relic and Book of the Dead and many more.
"...a wild ride into the reality of human consciousness...a kickass adventure story that will have you thrumming through the pages well into the night...handled with stunning effect."— James Rollins, bestselling author of Black Order, Sandstorm and Map of Bones as well as many others.

Gordon Kessler

Thanks for having me on your blog, Alison!
 I love talking about my books—Brainstorm, in particular. I enjoyed writing this one so much that I decided to make it into a series, and I’m busy working on the second “Daniel McMaster” thriller, now. (Note - Brainstorm is also available on Kindle, at this link, for only 99 cents!)
The research for Brainstorm was nearly as much fun as the writing. All my novels involve heavy research in order to not only create a believable world for my reader, but to do the same for me.  For Brainstorm, I delved into CIA black projects from years past, and I was amazed at what I found. Projects like Grill Flame, Stargate, MK Ultra just to name a few. There were telepathy and thought-projection experiments and, of course, remote viewing. Stemoceiver implants, hallucinogenic drug experiments, hypnotism and brainwashing—such fun they had back in the fifties, sixties and seventies (and maybe still are?)! I also dug deep into the cutting-edge technology used in nonlethal weapons and defensive measure of today, many of which are still in concept or experimental: incredible things like invisibility cloaks, acoustic cannons, sticky foam, EMP devices and holographic projectors.

Real life invisibility cloak being tested
CIA dog

In all my thrillers, the main characters must interact with nature, adjust to it and, in some cases, overcome it. There’s always at least one dog (dozens in Jezebel, or rather a horse in Dead Reckoning), a storm, a past that plays a huge role in the plot, at least one US Marine, Native American, Oriental and African American character, and they usually play major roles. But I’m careful to not make these standards in my stories contrived. Oh, and I almost forgot (typical man, right ladies?) there’s always a deep but conflicted romance—a passion that proves strong, perhaps unexpectedly so, in the end.

Also, I draw considerably from my own past.  None of my experiences measure up to the tension and drama of my stories, of course, but I put a lot of myself in the stories.  I’m a former Marine recon scout and paratrooper, I’ve fired all sorts of weapons and I’ve been all over the world—mostly the seedier ports-of-call. I enjoy SCUBA, sailing, snow skiing and marksmanship, so don’t be surprised when I draw on those things for my stories. 
Writing has made me more objective and insightful, especially because of having to write believable antagonists—to make the bad things they do make sense, so that readers can almost understand how the “bad guys” can be so-o-o bad.  Character depth is paramount to a good story. It helps that I’m a people watcher. I observe folks at the mall, on the street, at the local Starbucks. I imagine the thoughts going through their minds, what their families are like, their jobs, their homes, where they’re off to, where they’re coming from.
Writing is the most pleasurable thing I do.  It’s an escape for me.  I’ve seen the ugliness in the real world, and I don’t like it—I hate it.  In my fictitious story worlds, very bad things happen—terrible things—but the bad guy always gets it, one way or another, in the end.  However, there’s always a huge price that’s paid, and a bittersweet, but happy ending…mostly. My personalized license tag says “FICTION”. It’s a statement: my fiction is my reality, because the reality I see around me doesn’t make sense. I’ve used my passion for writing, not only in my stories, but to help develop other writers’ skills, in one way or another.  I’m a founder of the Kansas Writers Association and was their first president. My latest project is the “Indie Writers Alliance,” an alliance of independent authors formed to help put their fiction in good shape, get it published and promote it so that readers can enjoy these talented writers’ stories. You can check it out at  
It’s all about emotions, for me. That’s what entertains. Not the frowns and smiles, but the deep-down emotions that you can feel is there, but hidden between the lines. I hope you take the time to read Brainstorm.  Watch for those little gold nuggets and those insignificant hints that will make sense in the end.  I hope you can feel those emotions I’ve hidden between the lines.
Also, please check out Jezebel and Dead Reckoning—I know you’ll enjoy them.  And while you’re at it, look for my short stories “Jack Knight” (a dramatic romance, set during the Vietnam War era), and a short story you won’t recognize as mine: “Toothpick for Two” a humorous romance, of sorts. They’re all available as eBooks.
Thanks again, and happy reading!
Here's an excerpt  from Brainstorm:
Sunny looked away and wiped the moisture from her cheek. When she turned back with her jaw clenched, her eyes set hard on Jackson. Through the crimson glow inside the armored vehicle, she stared—face stone-like and expressionless—and Jackson did his best to hide his anxiety. She seemed to look through him, gazing at something just out of reach in the past. Her tears were gone, any redness in her eyes imperceptible in the red night lighting. In her face was a grittiness Jackson had seen in only a handful of men, the ones sure to become great soldiers. But the major wanted no part in making the beautiful redhead before him into a Kevlar-tough warrior. He wished he had another choice, but today Sunny could play an important role in bringing in her husband and saving dozens of lives.
People were disappearing. Scientists, surgeons and men and women of special abilities were vanishing from all over the world, particularly from the United States. Jackson hoped that at least one of those presumed abducted, Daniel McMaster, hadn’t become a traitor—that he wouldn’t have to kill his best friend.

One lucky commenter during Gordon's blog tour will win  a choice of a basic Kindle, Kobo, Sony Reader or Nook! To increase  your chances, follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Harry Potter and the Ballroom Scandal

 My sister and I came up with some scenes  from Harry Potter, if the series had been written by other authors instead of by the incredible JK Rowling. Can you identify the author or genre? And - I'll bet you can do better than we did. Post your efforts in my comment section. Can't wait to read them!

Lord Voldemort stroked the silk of Hermione's gown.  "Such a young lady to attend a ball all alone," he breathed in her ear.

She drew back, incensed.  "Lord Valdemort! How dare you! " she said, twitching her gown from his grasp.

Some yards away, Sir Weasely put down his glass of firewhiskey.  Languidly crossing to where Lord Voldemort stood, he picked up his lorgnette and gave the bald duke a long stare through his glass.  Finally he allowed it to drop.  "Your servant,Voldy," he murmured.  "Can't say I like your waistcoat.  Ah, Miss Granger, I believe you promised me this dance?" 

Putting one arm around her waist, he swept her away onto the dance floor.


Hermione was struggling to make her way out of Diagon Alley with her shopping. She had found the one gem of the season, the Bill Blass Hogwarts robe, made every year with simple but flattering lines. It had cost her a month's wages but it would be worth it to see Ron's face when he caught her wearing it!

As she stepped onto the busy London sidewalk a limousine pulled up and a familiar silhouette leaned out of the back window.

"Victor!" she cried in surprise and shock.


 Ginny began exclaiming, "Hermione, your hair!  Who put a spell on it? McGonagall?  I must dash.  And your robes!  And your eyelashes!  Oh, it is unfair, you are so lucky to be you."


Harry was walking to class when he heard Professor Trelawney call out behind him, "Oh, em, em, Mr., eh..."

Harry made his Caught By A Death Eater Cruciatus Curse face, curling over his stomach and popping out his eyeballs and tongue, before turning around to face her. "Good morning, professor," he said in way he hoped sounded pleasant.


Hermione shouted and hit out at Ron as Scabbers crawled up her leg.  "You know I hate your beastly pets!" she yelled.

Meanwhile, Harry sat munching his Choco Frog, looking at Hogwarts in the distance.  "I always think food tastes so much nicer outdoors," he thought.


I leaned back, propped my feet up on my desk, and sighed. Last night at the Three Cauldrons had left me with an ache in my head and a stomach that churned like a grindylow in a muggle's washing machine.

That's when she walked in. Tall drink of water with blond hair and radishes for earrings. "Name's Lovegood. Word around town says you can help a dame in distress," she breathed.

"Word around town doesn't mean anything, dollface," I replied. "We are out of business."

She reached in her purse and pulled out an object I never thought to see again. A Timeturner.

I put my feet on the ground and reached for it. "Not so fast," she cooed. "Are you going to help me?"

"Name your potion," I said. "Snapes' Detective Agency just reopened."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Research - Medical History

I'm in the middle of doing research for a future installment of my Night Watchman series. I wanted two of my characters to become nurses in training for a local doctor, so I am reading about the history of medicine.

It's fascinating stuff. It seems that medicine in the Western world was stalled, with some exceptions, until after World War I. One mighty example was the debate over cleanliness. Joseph Lister, building on work of others like Pasteur, proposed a system by which doctors would wash their hands and instruments before seeing patients.

This was pooh-poohed by many others in the medical field, leading to a raging debate. Some insisted that washing hands was actually unsafe - doctors needed to build up a "good layer of blood and pus" in order to give the benefit of their hard work to their patients. (Yeah, I don't get that either.)

It was attitudes like these that certainly killed President Garfield. Hit by an assassin's bullet, he would have easily recovered if the many doctors attending him had washed their scalpels before they began prodding the wound. Once doctor, in fact, came straight from a farm where he had been attending as a veterinarian. You can just imagine what was all over his hands - manure, in fact, was supposed to beneficial as well. Lovely.

When Garfield died of a raging fever, not from the bullet, the subsequent autopsy showed pockets of infection all through his body. The doctors were puzzled, since a build up of pus was supposed to be a good thing.

This attitude persisted into the 1900's. Perhaps part of the problem was the thriving business of medical training - schools sprang up all across the United States to train doctors. The business of training accounted for at least one fifth of income in most cities. The schools, however, consisted of little or no actual education, offering certificates to those who could come up with the several hundred dollars and a black bag with buckles.

I just can't wait to use some of this stuff in my new book (as soon as I finish editing the one I just wrote, The Lamplighter's Special.) That's one of the joys of writing - getting to showcase some new knowledge, in the supporting structure of fiction.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Beverage Break

It's Friday. We're on vacation soon. I'm thinking about summer beverages, both leaded and unleaded:

Mojitos - I make mine with vodka instead of rum (seems smoother) as well as homemade simple syrup, fresh lime juice, and fresh mint. Splash in the club soda and serve over lots of ice.

2 parts vodka 1 part simple syrup 1 part lime juice, fill with club soda and add mint springs.

Sun Tea - This is a tough one - plop some good Irish tea bags in some filtered water in a glass container and leave in the sun for an hour or two. I like to put in some green tea bags with that mix as well. And I squirt in agave syrup as a sweetener, as well as fresh lemon or orange slices and more fresh mint.

6 black tea bags (I use Barry's Irish breakfast) and 2 - 3 green tea bags in 1 1/2 gallons filtered water

Serve those with some more fresh stuff - homemade magno salsa (cut up mango, cut up cucumber, lime juice, fresh cilantro, dash hot sauce, some fresh garlic and / or red onion) and flour tortillas, cut up and put under the broiler for a minute. You can squirt those with fresh lime, too.

Put on your comfiest muumuu and enjoy the fireworks.

PS - That sun tea's not bad with a shot of vodka. Just saying.