Friday, April 17, 2015

Tips on Writing Fiction from Joel Fox, Author of 'The Mark on Eve'

One can find hundreds of writing rules and tips in books and the Internet and many conclude, after listing the rules, that you can break the rules if necessary. Basically, the author is saying you must be aware of writing standards but first and foremost you must be true to yourself.

Still, it is helpful to hear what other authors have to say about how they compose their works. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Building Suspense

I think one of the best writing tips I ever heard was an example offered on how you build suspense. The example used the legend of Damocles, who was permitted to sit on the king’s throne. To show the stress the king is always under, the king arranged to have a sword hanging over Damocles head held to a ceiling beam by a single hair of a horse’s tail. That is suspense. Now, said the instructor, image a mouse gnawing on the hair. That is how you ratchet up suspense. Don’t merely have obstacles for your characters to overcome, turn up the danger.

Picking Up the Next Day

Getting started on your writing each day is often a tough chore. Staring at a blank monitor is a common experience for writers. What I try to do, if possible, is stop the previous day’s writing in the middle of a chapter. That usually gives me momentum as I start fresh the next day. I usually know where the chapter is going and that allows me to push ahead quickly when I sit down to write.

Cliff Hanger Chapter Endings

To tie the first two tips together, I think cliff hanging chapter endings are important to keep the reader’s interest. It also allows you to dive into the next chapter as you resolve the situation in the previous chapter’s ending and move into that next chapter -- but not finish it so as to pick up your work quickly the next day. Creating a cliff hanger, of course, also builds suspense, especially, if you have that mouse gnawing at the hair holding the sword at the end of the chapter.

Write Something you Want to Read

Don’t try to guess what the market wants – write something you want to read. Yes, there may seem to be an endless production of Zombie stories that sell well, for example, but if you don’t enjoy reading about Zombies the odds are you won’t be producing a story those who follow such tales will enjoy. Write what you want to read. You’ll enjoy the experience and have more fun.

No Perfect Time to Start

There is always some last minute research or plot development that can keep you from starting to write. Waiting for the perfect moment is a classic case of procrastination. Sure you can start way to early and get twisted into knots as the story progresses, but you can also lose a lot of time by waiting for the perfect moment when you anticipate everything will be in place to begin. If you are generally comfortable with the story and characters, begin. The characters will often take you in a direction you didn’t expect and that is a rewarding and thrilling experience.

Writing Time

I’m sure this last tip won’t work for everybody. Writers know when they are most productive. For me, that time is early morning. Writing between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. means there is no distraction from family or phone calls. Even the dogs are still asleep. I find that I am fresh in the morning and that ideas I had been working on in my head often get sorted out when I’m sleeping.

 Title: The Mark on Eve
Genre: Suspense
Author: Joel Fox
Publisher: Bronze Circle Books
Purchase on Amazon  
Joel FoxJoel Fox has spent over 30 years in California politics, serving on numerous state commissions, working on many ballot issue campaigns, and advising candidates. An adjunct professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University, Fox has authored hundreds of opinion pieces for numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal,Washington Post, USA Todayand Los Angeles Times. Joel Fox is also the author of the Zane Rigby mystery series—Lincoln’s Hand and FDR’s Treasure— in which an FBI Special Agent must solve a puzzle from the past of an American president to solve modern day murders.  A native of the Boston area, Joel Fox lives in Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Interview with Jamila T. Davis, author of She's All Caught Up

She's All Caught Up
Title: She's All Caught Up!
Author: Jamila T. Davis
Publisher: Voices International Publication
Pages: 338
Genre: Memoir/Young Adult
Format: Paperback/Kindle

She's All Caught Up is a cautionary tale based on the life of Jamila T. Davis, a federal prisoner serving a 12 1/2 year sentence. Jamila grew up in a loving middle class home, raised to become her parent's ideal star child. All was copacetic until high school years. Jamila rebels and chooses to live life in the fast lane. When this good girl goes bad, it seems there is no turning back!

For More Information

She's All Caught Up! is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads. 

1) Welcome to the Writer's Life, Jamila. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been writing?
      Hello my name is Jamila T. Davis. I am an author, prison reform activist and the co-founder of WomenOverIncarcerated, a nonprofit organization that provides resources to women in prison and female ex-offenders. I've been a published author since 2011.
       I write books to inspire, empower and uplift the down trodden. My books are primarily written as cautionary tales to enlighten my readers to the severe consequences of making poor choices and not loving ourselves enough. I share my mistakes, and those of many others who also attempted to live life in the fast lane. My writing is geared to expose the serious repercussions of this lifestyle.

2) Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
       My recent release "She's All Caught Up" is a memoir about my early life experiences. I grew up in Jamaica-Queens, New York. I was raised by my mother, who was a school teacher, and my father, who was a NYC Transit Supervisor. My parents grew up dirt poor with limited opportunities. Their hardships growing up caused them to be determined to provide my brother and I with the opportunities they themselves never had. My mother became a stage mom. She had me trained in the arts at an early age. By the time I turned 10 years old, I became a cast member in an off-Broadway play and toured the country performing. I also danced professionally in dance recitals at Lincoln Center, all while maintaining straight A's in school.
     When I became a teenager, I was accepted to the acclaimed High School of Performing Arts in New York City, also known as the "Fame" School. Back then, I was my parents ideal star child and voted "most likely to succeed" by my peers. Then, it happened! All of a sudden my values changed. I was swept off of my feet by a 16 year old drug dealer from the Southside Housing Projects of South Jamaica-Queens. He became what I perceived to be the love of my life. My life went down hill from there. I made one poor choice after another, and I never seemed to fully recover.
     I wrote my book because I am not alone in making poor choices or putting love over the best interest of self. Although times have changed, teens today are still rebelling against their parents and making the same drastic mistakes which have the potential to ruin their lives. In my book I honestly expose my flaws and the root problems that led me on a high speed chase to find inner fulfillment. I decided to share my intimate experiences with my readers in hope that they will avoid my tragic mistakes.

3) What are some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
      While writing, I took note of the many details of my life experiences that I overlooked at the time they occurred. I found myself wanting to stop Young Jamila from crashing. The signs of danger were so visible, but at the time I could not see them. Recounting my many mistakes that caused me severe hardships was extremely painful. My continued destructive patterns ultimately led to a 12 1/2 year federal prison sentence, which I am currently serving. On the top bunk in a 5 1/2 x 9 cubicle at the Danbury Federal Prison Camp, the same facility where Piper Kerman of "Orange Is The New Black" was housed, I wrote my book. Dealing with the reality of my circumstances and the events that led up to my current fate didn't make my writing easy. I often found myself having to take breaks to cry and process, as I pinpointed the areas in my life where I went wrong. Although my writing process was painful at times, ultimately it was rewarding. It helped me to acknowledge my mistakes, learn from my past and heal.

4) Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link where we can see it?
      Yes, I have a press kit. My press kit includes my bio, my author's photo, past press release and articles written about me and my books, and a selection of articles and poetry I wrote. My press kit appears in the media room of Voices International Publications at

5) Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?
      As I mentioned earlier in this interview, I am an author who is writing from behind bars. This has limited my access to media. Yet, I am apart of a prison community outreach program created to deter at-risk youth from crime. We go out into the community and share our stories. This experience is actually what led me to write "She's All Caught Up." After I was able to witness first-hand the reception I got from teens, who vowed not to make the poor choices I made after hearing my story, I knew my story had the power to change lives. Teens are one of the hardest audiences to reach because they think they know it all. Once I captivated their attention, I realized by being a real person who is currently paying a high price for my actions, it gives me an advantage. Dressed in my prison khakis, serving a decade plus sentence, my audience has no choice put to take heed to my message, because it is REAL!

6) Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it is necessary to have one?
      I never dreamed I would become an author. It wasn't until I was incarcerated that I discovered my ability to write books. Although I strayed far away from the path my parents had established for me, they did not abandon me. Earlier in this interview, I explained my mother became a stage mom when I  was growing up. In my adult life, she reassumed her position, but transcended it to cater to my writing. My mother started her own publication company, Voices International Publications, as a means to publish my first book series, "The Voices Of Consequences Enrichment Series." It is a three book, self-help series for incarcerated women. Since then, she has become more experienced in the publishing business and has signed several authors under her company. It is her goal to collaborate with a major publishing company to distribute her current catalogue. Knowing her track record of excellence, I believe this is something she will get done. Therefore, my mother serves in the role as my agent. She is doing an amazing job at championing me to the top!

7) Did your agent, or publisher, prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?
       My mother is a woman who is all about purpose. Her objective is to utilize my story at an educational tool to help children avoid my past mistakes, and to create awareness about the epidemic of women in prison and over-incarceration. It is her hope to humanize those of us service lengthy sentences for non-violent crimes, so a real solution will be provided to end this destructive epidemic. Her marketing and publicity plans are all surrounded around these objectives.
       My mother is currently working on a documentary about my life, my case and my efforts behind bars. Recently, after Teresa Giudice, cast member of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" was imprisoned at the same facility where I am housed, and the premiere of Dianne Sawyer's new series about women In prison, there has been a great interest about incarcerated women and the circumstances that led to our incarceration. My mother is currently fielding calls from media outlets who want to tell my story.

8) Do you plan subsequent books?
     I plan on writing a sequel to my book "She's All Caught Up," which is entitled "The Trade Off." I have also created "The High Price I Had To Pay" Book Series to give incarcerated women a platform to share their stories. These books are written as cautionary tales, featuring the lives of incarcerated women serving decade plus sentences for non-violent crimes. My experience has taught me that God has a plan for my life that is bigger than just me. I am merely a vessel that He is using to send a message to His children. I write for the purpose to help others avoid my tragic mistakes, and to inspire the down trodden to push ahead and overcome. It is important to know that our past mistakes don't have to dictate our future. We can change our course at any time. I did!

9) Thank you for your interview, Jamila. Would you like to tell my reader's where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

      Yes, thank you. Please visit or to support my prison reform movement. My books are available on, and on and You can also reach me on Facebook at, or Twitter/Instagram: @jamilatdavis. I have tons of informative information that I think you will all enjoy on the web. Please take a minute to check it out! Thanks again for your support. 

Jamila T. Davis (@JamilaTDavis), author of "She's All Caught Up!," is a self-help expert, motivational speaker and a women's prison reform activist. Through her inspirational books and cautionary tales, based on her unique real-life experiences, she is helping to transform the lives of both the young and the old. For more information about Jamila T. Davis visit or

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Guest post: "The Mystery of Creative Writing," by Graciela Limón

“Where does it come from?” I ask. 

 “Where do the images, settings and stories come from?” I wonder. 

 When studying at UCLA, I had a wonderful professor, Doctor Barcia, whose lectures on fiction usually centered on his view that all literature comes from literature already written, only expressed in a new fashion. Which, of course, mirrors the adage that there’s nothing new under the sun. 

 Yet when I write a line or a paragraph, when I turn to a new scene, or craft a character, I ask “Where did that come from?” This is not to deny that I’ve been deeply influenced by the greats, writers such as John Steinbeck, Gabriel García Márquez, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Leon Tolstoy, and so many others, nor is it to say that my own memories don’t surface to form my writing. It’s not even to say that I don’t beforehand envision or outline what I intend to write. What I am saying is that so much of what I write most often comes from a hidden recess; a place I had not before reached. There have been many times when I’ve been surprised by the unexpected dialogue, by the sudden twist in a character’s way of being, or of even the novel’s ending. 

 As my professor stressed, I don’t doubt that my creations reflect what has already been written, what I’ve read. On the other hand, I know that for me the process of creative writing is indeed a secret happening, an enigma that transports me to another world inhabited by people that become more real than those that surround me in my everyday life. Yes, for me, the place from where my writing comes is a mystery, and no doubt will remain that way forever.

Book TitleThe Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy
Genre: Historical Fiction/Hispanic
PublisherCafé Con Leche

Graciela Limón, born in Los Angeles, California, is the daughter of Mexican immigrants.  She attended public and Catholic schools in her hometown, and continued on to university after which she became a professor of Latina/o Literature.  Parallel to her teaching she has been an activist in Latina affairs, gender affairs and Trans Border issues.  Limón has published nine novels, including her latest work, The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Interview with Ruby Lee Tuesday, author of Better Believe A Story of Hope

Title: Better Believe
Author: Ruby Lee Tuesday
Publisher: Trafford
Pages: 132
Genre: Biography
Format: Ebook
 Purchase at AMAZON

 Ruby Lee Tuesday was born to be her father’s property. Trapped in an abusive home where only perfect was good enough for the devil, Ruby attempted to distract herself from his ways through her music, poetry, art, and most importantly, her faith in God. Tuesday shares a heartbreaking story of childhood trauma as she bravely pursued her dreams, despite living with parents who seemed determined to destroy her, both physically and emotionally. While providing a riveting look into the ways of an abuser, Tuesday details how her mistreatment eventually caused her to lose her faith, embark on a path of self-destruction, and succumb to panic attacks and depression. But through it all, Tuesday somehow managed to find solace and an escape in her music, ultimately leaving everything behind and bravely following her dream all the way from Norway to Nashville, Tennessee, where she would find faith once again. Better Believe is a story of determination, passion, betrayal, friendship, and hope as one woman journeys from the darkness of abuse into the light of healing where she learns to believe in herself for the first time.


Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

This is the first time I write a book and it is the first time I publish a book.

When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I chose to go Self-published because I had the means to do so.

How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I wrote and published this book within 1 year, 2014.

How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate? 

My feelings were a little mixed when I published this book. On one hand I was very proud that I had finally voiced my story and thereby broken out of a bondage of silence. I also felt as if I did something wrong when I told my story, you see everything that happened within our family was to never be told. We never talked about it, just let it happen. So when I now tell my story I kind of break the number one rule of all domestic violence families, namely not to talk about it. My sister didn’t like it at all so she has, as far as my knowledge goes, pressed charges against me in Norway to have the book withdrawn from the market. So as far as celebrating it I kind of struggled with the whole thing and the celebration I have yet to look forward to. But in my heart I am very proud that I dared to voice my story and to keep moving toward my final goal in life, to record and release my album “…butAlive!!!” as LadyLoveRebel. And I am working on the album now. So as far as further goals in life, I am still focusing on reaching this one. My story and my music.

What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I promoted in on my web page and I also made agreements with Trafford to market and promote my book.

Ruby Lee Tuesday has spent years on healing both physically and spiritually. She is a poet, singer, and songwriter who plays a variety of instruments. Ruby left Norway in 2013 to pursue her dreams in Nashville, Tennessee. This is her first book.

Marilyn Monroe, Writing & Publishing: Interview with Mercedes King

We’re thrilled to have Mercedes King at The Writer’s Life!  Mercedes is the author of a fantastic new historical psychological thriller, A Dream Called Marilyn.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I have a fondness for Old Hollywood, and I grew up in a house with tabloids aplenty. So I think it was a natural transition for me to end up writing stories that blend fact with fiction. Marilyn Monroe, even though
she’s been gone over 50 years, still has a solid fan base. Her allure and appeal haven’t diminished, so it was fun using her as a character and dipping into her private life.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

The hard part is blending fact with your fabrications and making it believable. To do this, be prepared to invest a ton of time into research. You read the books, articles, get to know someone like Marilyn, then add in your own flavors.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Triumph Productions is my publisher. It’s my company and like another child. You have to raise it and rear it. Not an easy, overnight task. We’re talking the long haul.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

That it happened. My first book endured a lot of rejections because of the subject matter. There aren’t too many lines you can’t cross when it comes to art and publishing, but apparently, I found one.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m in the idea stage of a new book. I’m a tad superstitious and don’t want to say too much about it right now. I might—might—get a release date for September 2015. We’ll see.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Probably Facebook. I’m showing my age, right? But Google+ is growing on me.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

For this story, Marilyn’s greatest struggle was not having control of her life. Events spiraled and we know what happened to her (or we each give a nod to the version or conspiracy theory we’re convinced of, when it comes to her death). Life is a fragile thing, and truth can be painful and messy.
Q: Do you have any final words?

Thank you for your time and for this opportunity. I hope readers enjoy the story. 

About the Author:

A founding member of Sisters in Crime Columbus, Ohio (affectionately dubbed SiCCO), Mercedes King can be found elbow-deep in research, reading, or enjoying the local bike path. Combining her love of pop culture with history, she created A Dream Called Marilyn, a fictional take on the last weeks of Marilyn’s life. With an unquenchable thirst for a bygone era, she’s also written O! Jackie, a fictional take on Jackie Kennedy's private life--and how she dealt with JFK's affairs. Short story fans would enjoy The Kennedy Chronicles, a series featuring Jackie and Jack before the White House and before they were married. Visit Mercedes’ website at to find out more.
For More Information
About the Book:
 In the summer of 1962, nothing could prepare Dr. Charles Campbell for his first meeting with new client, Marilyn Monroe. A reputable L.A. psychiatrist, he’s been hired by a studio executive to treat and subdue the star, no matter what it takes. Although he’s been warned about Ms. Monroe’s unpredictability, she’s not what he expected. Gaining Marilyn’s trust means crossing doctor-patient boundaries, and trying to separate fact from Hollywood-fed-rumors proves destructive to both Charles’ career and his personal life. As Marilyn shares her secrets and threatens to go public with information that could destroy President Kennedy’s administration, Charles’ world turns upside-down. He sinks deeper into her troubles than he should, but Charles becomes determined to help her, even though it means endangering Marilyn’s life and risking his own. 

For More Information

  • A Dream Called Marilyn is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Guest post by Melissa Abramovitz, author of 'Helping Herbie Hedgehog'

I love being a writer. Sometimes I marvel at the fact that I get paid for writing fun poems and stories, and for doing interesting research that allows me to learn so much every day when I’m working on nonfiction projects. But just because I love my job doesn’t mean it’s easy. On the contrary, there’s nothing easy about doing comprehensive research on a topic for several months, then organizing it into a 20,000 word flowing narrative for an educational book that will keep a teenager’s attention. Condensing pages and pages of research notes into a 200 word book that includes the most interesting and important facts about a topic in language that a first-grader will understand and enjoy is even more challenging. There’s nothing easy about revising and revising and revising until a manuscript fits the publisher’s word count requirements and contains no awkward transitions or other errors either. And having manuscripts you have written and submitted on speculation come back rejected by publishers is devastatingly difficult as well. 

Many people tell me they want to be published authors. Many of them look at published children’s books or novels and think wow, that looks so easy, and I’m sure I can do it better than these authors did. They think it’s simple to sit down, write a book or other type of manuscript, and have it published. So they write a story and submit it for publication. When it gets rejected fifteen times, they wonder why. Some of them ask me to take a look. If I have some spare time, I look it over, and see numerous grammatical mistakes, typos, flawed plot structure, weak story characters, and a host of other deficiencies. So I suggest that the individual attend writer’s conferences, sign up for writing classes, and practice honing their writing and revision skills. Whaaaaat? That sounds like a lot of work. Well, yeah, it is. And for those who persevere and become published writers, developing good working relationships with editors, promoting one’s books, and a host of other types of work are heaped on all that initial work. So no, a writing career is not for everyone. But for those of us who love our profession, it’s a dream job.           

About the Author

Melissa Abramovitz has been a freelance writer/author for 30 years. She’s the author of hundreds of magazine articles for all age groups, from preschoolers through adults; more than 40 educational books for children and teenagers; numerous poems and short stories; the children’s picture books ABCs of Health and Safety and Helping Herbie Hedgehog; and a book for writers titled A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines. Melissa graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in psychology and is also a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. She is a member of SCBWI, NABE, and The Working Writer’s Club.

About the Book

Herbie has places to go and things to do. But he needs some help ‘cause he hasn’t a clue! If you’ll help Herbie decide what’s right and wrong, he’ll be busy and happy the whole day long! Herbie the clueless hedgehog needs help figuring out how to get places and go about his day. Amusing delightful rhymes invite kids to give helpful advice while learning about everyday things in this early chapter book/picture book. Should Herbie ride his bicycle to visit his cousin who lives across the ocean? Will his TV set cook a meal? He really needs these kids’ help! Recommended for ages 2-7.

Title: Helping Herbie Hedgehog
Genre: Children’s picture book/early chapter book
Author: Melissa Abramovitz
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Interview with Alan Joshua, author of The Shiva Syndrome

Title: The Shiva Syndrom
Author: Alan Joshua
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Kindle

 A secret Russian mind research laboratory in Podol'sk erupts, annihilating thousands and leaving a monstrous, one-mile deep crater in its wake. Beau Walker, parapsychologist and reluctant empath, is coerced into joining a research team, code-named SHIVA, to investigate the enigmatic event. Walker must fight his way past political and military deceptions and a host of deadly adversaries to unlock the riddle of the SHIVA syndrome. Will he have the physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to defy the dangers he faces…or will they destroy him before he can come to a new, challenging understanding of the nature of reality?

To Purchase The SHIVA Syndrome

amazon BN

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Alan Joshua. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A:  Thanks for inviting me. To begin, Alan Joshua is my pen name. In addition to writing, I’m a clinical psychologist with a background in parapsychology. Originally, I intended to go into art and studied at a local college where I majored in sculpture and design. Art didn’t satisfy my scientific interests, so I moved in the direction of biology with medicine in mind.

I became fascinated with Psychology as it addressed my long-standing interest in the paranormal. I earned degrees in Psychology at Temple University. Then, I completed my doctorate at Saybrook University, because I wanted to work with Dr. Stanley Krippner, an internationally known psychologist and parapsychologist.

My dissertation research focused on an analysis of the psychology of “psychic” or “spiritual” healers, a form of biopsychokinesis (BioPK). Immediately, this posed many challenges. Research of this type was unlike an ordinary research project, making it necessary to develop my own methodology. The study was well received. The results were published in numerous journals and as chapters in two books. 

But what was most unexpected was that I seem to have chanced upon the psychological processes used not only in the healers I studied, but also in  individuals who produced paranormal abilities in and out of laboratories. It  also applied to the altered consciousness found in certain spiritual practices.

I’ve been writing for many years, without the desire to publish. However, I published my first article on creativity and consciousness during the Eighties and a variety of other nonfiction publications since then. The Shiva Syndrome is my first serious attempt to write and publish fiction.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: The Shiva Syndrome grew out of the need to exercise my imagination after writing hundreds of limiting, detailed, fact–based psychological test reports--many having been forensic cases. The book was inspired by ideas originating from my research. It extrapolates information gleaned from my readings into parapsychology as well as firsthand contacts with “psychics,” sensitives, healers, Tarot readers and other diviners. I was also motivated by psychotherapy clients—children to adults--who spontaneously reported incidents of telepathy, clairvoyance, seeing apparitions, and out-of-body experiences. I was the first, usually the only, person to whom they revealed this information.
But the central focus of The Shiva Syndrome is the significance and power of human consciousness, its potentials, and the weaknesses that prevent us from accessing and/or using these abilities in beneficial ways.

I found a paradox among my private practice clients. Many believed in paranormal abilities, either through their reading, seeing “psychics” or astrologers, or events described in the Bible. There, the prophets could be seen as precognitive; Jesus demonstrates precognition and healing. 

However, when I asked patients if they had the capability of using these same abilities, all denied that they could. Most were completely unaware of the large body of scientific parapsychological evidence for the existence of PSI, from Rhine’s Duke studies to the present, yet all were interested in reading about it in fiction or seeing it in films.

So, SHIVA was born out of many factors. I intended for it to be entertaining, personally involving, and thought provoking. It challenges the idea that what we call “paranormal” is really beyond normal, or abnormal. It suggests these abilities are latent in all of us, but raises the question of whether we, as a species, are evolved enough to use them wisely.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

A: One of the greatest struggles, from the beginning to the end of the writing was in finding ways to translate abstract, complex concepts into forms that could be more easily understood by readers. When you use terms like “mythic consciousness,” or “collective unconscious,” there are many instances when words fail.

Another challenge impacted the evolution of the book. Having an art background, I tend to have strong imagery associated with storytelling. I elected to try my hand at a screenplay first. After partially completing it, an acquaintance suggested that I send it to an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles. He reacted very quickly, and sent me an exciting email telling me how interested he was in the story. However, as I moved ahead on the screenplay – learning while I wrote – I realized that the partially finished product was already four times the length of the average script. At that point, I saw no other alternative than to turn it into a novel.

This led to another set of catastrophic circumstances. When the manuscript was complete, agents and publishing houses – although intrigued by the story – would take it no further. It was far too long for a debut author. As in the case of other publishers, Champagne Book Group suggested that I split the story into two books. After this was done, I found that the fabric of the story had been torn and lost momentum and evolution, both in plot and character development, that was found in the complete manuscript. Fortunately, Champagne held a conference over this issue and agreed that it should move forward as a complete story.

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A:  Not at this point. At this time, The Shiva Syndrome can be pre-ordered, but will not be published until April 6, 2015. I have started to develop an internet presence and have hired a promotional company to assist.

I’ve been invited to be interviewed in a 90 minute podcast, approximately one month after publication. I’m anticipating the possibility of other opportunities of this type.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A:  I don’t have an agent. My understanding is that an agent becomes a necessity if one of the major publishers or someone in the film industry expresses an interest in your book. I sent out a mass mailing to many agents offering The Shiva Syndrome. While most may have looked at the word count and dismissed it out of hand, some requested partial manuscripts. The process of trying to engage an agent was more difficult than having a doctoral dissertation accepted. I have considerable sympathy for the many aspiring authors who have run the same frustrating gauntlet.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A: At the recommendation of other writers, I have hired a promotional company to assist in launching the book and promotion.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A:  Tentatively, yes. I’ve developed three concepts for follow-up books,  including a sequel to The Shiva Syndrome. 
Q: Thank you for your interview, Alan Joshua. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: Thank you for inviting me. I’ve provided a list of websites and other means of finding me on the web above. At this time, The Shiva Syndrome can be purchased directly by visiting Burst, a division of Champagne Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Apple iBooks.

I sincerely hope that readers will contact me at to leave feedback on the book. There is also a comment box where visitors may describe any paranormal events that they have experienced.

The Shiva syndrome, his debut fiction novel, is a science fiction/paranormal mystery and thriller. Always curious about the unknowns of human experience, he is fascinated with creativity and paranormal abilities. This led to his involvement with Psychology and research into Parapsychology. He has explored paranormal abilities using hypnosis and in-depth interviewing of a wide range of practitioners. Among his prized possessions are a shriveled, mummified banana (a product of one healer’s biopsychokinesis) and a small, curled Austrian teaspoon produced by a German healer while six people sat around him. (see )

The Shiva Syndrome incorporates his knowledge of Parapsychology and experiences with healers, intuitives, “psychic” sensitives, etc. Unsurprisingly, he is a science fiction fan and has been influenced by such writers as Asimov, Bradbury, Crichton, Heinlein, Serling, and the extraordinary genius of Phillip Dick. As an avid Star Trek fan, he is fond of contradicting Gene Roddenberry, believing that human consciousness and its potentials are “the final frontier.” If you have questions for me, I would be glad to answer them–time permitting. I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had any paranormal experiences.

  For More Information Visit Alan at his website  
As a native Philadelphian, Alan Joshua (pen name) has the appropriate fondness for soft pretzels and cheesesteaks. He is married, has two grown children, and lives in the suburbs. He is currently a practicing Clinical Psychologist with a background in Forensic Psychology. His diverse background includes working in a State penitentiary and mental institution, a sleep laboratory, and a pain management center. Joshua has published many nonfiction journal articles.

Dear Reader by Sarah Remy

The Writer’s Life newest feature, Dear Reader, gives authors a chance to talk to their readers - YOU!  
Today's guest is Sarah Remy, author of the fantasy, Stonehill Downs.


Dear Reader…

Are you watching ABC’s Agent Carter? I am, with great interest. I’m also paying very close attention to the show’s ratings. Not necessarily because I’m attached to the story – although I do love Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter – but because so many people out there seem to think ABC’s offering is a sort of 21st Century litmus test: is the comic book culture ready for a woman in the lead role of a super hero series?

I’m honestly not a huge comic book geek, but I happen to be married to someone who is, which means I know the comic book industry does not in fact rely on Marvel’s Peggy Carter as an example of a minority main character written right. Have you met Natasha Irons? Kate Bishop? Have you read Strangers in Paradise, a classic and one of my all time favorites? And surely you’ve fallen into the pages of Jeff Smith’s Rose?

I’d like to suggest that the question is not really is the comic book culture ready for a woman in the lead role of a super hero series? but is the MAINSTREAM MEDIA culture ready for a woman in the lead role of a super hero series?

In spite of Hayley Atwell’s fine performance in the lead role, Agent Carter’s ratings are steadily dropping. Do I find this concerning? Yup. But I’m not quite ready to point a finger and blame latent misogyny for the dip in viewership. Could be the writing’s faltering some. Could be Agent Carter’s suffering from new kid on the block syndrome, just as its predecessor, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., did in 2013. Only time will tell.

Yeah, I’m not a huge comic geek but I’m watching Agent Carter very carefully. Why?

Because I write stories about minorities in a genre (like the comic book industry) that has been – in general and up until some years ago – heteronormative white male dominant. I write about princesses that don’t grow up and marry the prince. I write about Latino boys who kill the dragon and save the kingdom. I write about non-binary characters in traditional fantasy and scifi roles. And I write about cis adults who fall in love and realize that maybe romance won’t secure the throne after all, and hey, let’s put work before family even if that’s not necessarily the ‘best choice’.

I write real people into unlikely worlds because I think that’s what the next generation of scifi and fantasy wants to be.

And I’ve got fingers crossed that Peggy Carter will prove the point.

About the Author:

In 1994 Sarah Remy earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Pomona College in California. Since then she’s been employed as a receptionist at a high-powered brokerage firm, managed a boutique bookstore, read television scripts for a small production company, and, more recently, worked playground duty at the local elementary school.

When she’s not taking the service industry by storm, she’s writing fantasy and science fiction. Sarah likes her fantasy worlds gritty, her characters diverse and fallible, and she doesn’t believe every protagonist deserves a happy ending.

Before joining the Harper Voyager family, she published with EDGE, Reuts, and Madison Place Press.

Sarah lives in Washington State with plenty of animals and people, both. In her limited spare time she rides horses, rehabs her old home, and supervises a chaotic household. She can talk to you endlessly about Sherlock Holmes, World of Warcraft, and backyard chicken husbandry, and she’s been a member of one of Robin Hobb’s longest-running online fan clubs since 2002.

Her latest is the fantasy novel, Stonehill Downs.

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About the Book:

Title: Stonehill Downs
Author: Sarah Remy
Publisher: Harper Collins/Voyager
Pages: 400
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook

Stonehill Downs follows Mal, a powerful mage who functions as Lord Vocent, the king’s personal forensic scientist and detective.  Magic and murder are his calling.  Never have the two entangled in quite as terrifying a manner as on Stonehill Downs, where Avani, a Goddess-gifted outsider, has discovered a host of gruesome corpses reeking of supernatural malfeasance.  The investigation is haunted by ghosts of Mal’s past, and the two quickly learn that they must cast aside their secrets if they are to succeed in unearthing the pervading evil—before it’s unleashed from the boundaries of the Downs, straight into the heart of the kingdom.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Epic Science Fiction Book! Apex by Aer-Ki Jyr

Title: Apex
Author: Aer-ki Jyr
Publisher: Harper Voyage Impulse
Pages: 368
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Format: Kindle

A new dawn is coming.

 It's been eons since Humans controlled the universe, after their defeat by a mysterious enemy. With their downfall came a virtual dark age in which culture and technology stagnated. But now trade is once again flourishing as Human artifacts resurface throughout the galaxy, resurrecting long-forgotten advancements. And one such discovery may very well alter the course of the future forever. An epic space adventure, Aer-ki Jyr's Apex is a breathless race to the ultimate prize, with the very fate of the stars hanging in the balance.

For More Information

  • Apex is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


Aer-ki Jyr is a scifi author with a writing style that crosses over many genres, culminating in giant story arcs deserving of the 'epic' label. His ongoing independently published Star Force series takes an unusual approach in that it is broken up into novella 'episodes' similar in structure to a TV series, with each being around 20,000 - 30,000 words long and occurring in sequential order. The series(with 100 episodes planned) begins in the near future then jumps sporadically down the timeline, making for an atypical storytelling approach that has already seen over 25,000 sales. Coming in April, 2015, Jyr joins the HarperCollins author ranks with his first professionally published novel "Apex" that will begin another huge space saga with a long series of novels planned.

Publishing Tips & More: Interview with Russ Colchamiro, author of 'Genius de Milo'

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
Russ: My debut novel Finders Keepers is a scifi backpacking comedy ... think American Pie meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe's DNA.
Genius de Milo is the second book in the trilogy, where our bumbling backpacking heroes Jason
Medley and Theo Barnes are once again tasked with retrieving a radioactive jar filled with the Universe’s DNA … before it wipes out the galaxy.
And whereas Finders Keepers was set predominantly in Europe and New Zealand, the action in Genius de Milo has shifted mostly to the U.S. And, of course, there's lots going on in Eternity, the 'cosmic' realm where the Universe is created. I fabricated all of the backpacking scenes, but the scifi shenanigans are totally real and based on my personal intergalactic experiences.
Genius de Milo is for fans of authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, and movies and TV shows such as Harold and Kumar, Bill and Ted, Hot Tub Time Machine, Time Bandits, Quantum Leap, Groundhog Day, Northern Exposure, Third Rock from the Sun … and Midnight Run.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Russ: Genius de Milo was the first time I’d written a sequel, which poses all sorts of structural challenges. To my mind it needs to work on three levels: 1) as a satisfying, self-contained novel that new readers can thoroughly enjoy even if they haven’t read Finders Keepers; 2) as the second novel in the Finders Keepers trilogy that not only continues but enhances the overall narrative and individual story arcs, and; 3) structurally as a launch pad for the final, upcoming novel that will conclude the trilogy.

My suggestion — for authors looking to author a trilogy — is that before you start writing, plot out the basic structure of the overall narrative and have a good idea of the big moments that need to happen along the way. You want to leave enough room for the story to grow and change organically along the way, but since there needs to be connective tissue from book to book, you’ll want to think the overall plot through a bit. Otherwise you risk going down a narrative path in one book you can’t recover from in the next.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
Russ: I’m a member of Crazy 8 Press, a collection of mostly award-winning, best-selling scifi and fantasy authors who banded together so that we can bring our wacky tales to the audience as we intend, and on our schedule. By publishing through Crazy 8 Press we have more control of our fates — for better or worse!
As for how we met … a few years ago Aaron Rosenberg, one of the Crazy 8 founders, stopped by my table at a scifi convention outside of Philadelphia, and asked me about Finders Keepers. It turns out that Aaron is also a scifi comedy author — there just aren’t that many of us — and so we became fast friends. Not long after that the gang at Crazy 8 Press formally invited me to join them. I’ve now published all of my novels through Crazy 8 Press.
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Russ: Indeed. I published Finders Keepers in October 2010. I didn’t know it then, but it was right before e-books took over the market … and also in the middle of what turned out to be the biggest economic downturn in a century. Talk about bizarre timing! I originally published (print and e-book) though a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints, with success right away.

I was able to land a national distribution contract (uncommon for a first-time author), with Finders Keepers carried by several Barnes & Noble stores throughout the country. Finders Keepers also received very supportive write-ups by Publishers Weekly, and I was one of only a half dozen authors globally to be invited by Wattpad to become one of their featured authors.

And then right after Finders Keepers debuted, e-books revolutionized the way readers digest novels, and for authors it’s been an entirely new and ever-changing world since then. I wound up reprinting Finders Keepers through Crazy 8 Press so that I now have my entire catalogue under one imprint, and control all of the rights, which is nice.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

Russ: The third and final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy, which I’m working on now, is targeted for a fall 2016 release. I'll also being contributing a short story to Pangea, an alternate reality collection from Crazy 8 Press which we're funding through Kickstarter, and should be out later this year. Beyond that I'm planning a Finders Keepers spin-off series, a baseball-themed scifi mystery novel, and another project which needs to be totally hush-hush for now. So ssshhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Russ: Twitter.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Russ: Just like with Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo falls into the category that I like to call Cosmic Lunacy — comedic scifi. It’s meant to be fun and funny — a great time you’ll never forget — but also give you something to think about. It’s a popcorn book on the outside, yet there’s more to it than meets the eye. Our heroes are worried about paying rent … and also saving the galaxy!

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Russ: If the Milky Way galaxy does in fact vanish from the Universe, I can neither confirm nor deny my involvement.

About the Book:

Title: Genius De Milo
Author: Russ Colchamiro
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Pages: 320
Genre: SciFi/Comedy
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo's twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can't tell which version of his life is real.

All because of
Milo, the Universe's ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across
America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we've long suspected — that there’s no galactic
Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

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