Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Interview: David Parrott

Today we have the chance to learn more about what inspired this novel, and how author David Parrot turned his musings about "what if" into a novel. 

1. What was your inspiration for "The Last Best Hope?" On the day I attended my nephew’s wedding at Gettysburg I had what I can only describe as a “ghost experience.”  The sun was setting and my wife and I were slowly driving through the battlefield, and right at that moment Paul Robeson began singing “Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot” a capella on our car radio. Also at that moment, a pink tinged mist flowed down from the nearby mountains and made all the statues in the park appear to go into motion.  I felt the hair on the back of my neck raise up and a feeling that “they’re all still here” came over me. 
This was the impetus to begin a story about the men that died  (or were wounded) in that field on that day. In a bizarre twist, when I began to do serious research of the men involved in the events of the first day at Gettysburg, I found that the very spot I was at in my car ride that evening was where the Bucktail regiment made their last stand on July 1st, 1863.  I didn’t know that until after I had decided to base my story on the men who came down from the oilfields of Western Pennsylvania to fight there on that day.

2. How did you decide what would happen to the actual historical characters, like Lincoln, in this book? As I researched the battle more, I was influenced by a book on the events of the third day of Gettysburg that showed that only an extreme act of heroism by George Armstrong Custer and his Michigan cavalrymen kept the tide from turning for the South (see the book Lost Triumph: Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg--and Why It Failed  by military historian Tom Carhart.) This was typical of nonfiction history accounts which I read in my research. Very often the authors would say “if events had not happened in just this way, the South might have won at Gettysburg and turned the tide of the War.”  
Following that line of reasoning, I looked at some of the plans that had been made if the South did win at Gettysburg.  There was an army, led by Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard that was poised outside Washington, ready to assault the capital and Lincoln.  My story accepts that premise, that if the Confederates won at Gettysburg, they would have concentrated their forces on capturing Washington, DC, and deposing Lincoln.  
In my story, the White House is sacked and Lincoln is shot.  His bodyguards (who were Pennsylvania Bucktails) spirit him off into the woods. Most people think he is dead. These events have a profound impact on him, and he is bitter and angry about what has happened to his family, himself, and his nation. 

3. How much research was involved in writing this? I spent several years writing and researching drafts of this story. I have a master’s degree in historical theology, and that training helped me know how to do the research. I was given excellent access to historical material at the Drake Well museum in Western Pennsylvania, including rare and restricted archival writing, maps, and photographs.  I also spent time with Titusville historian and author Steve Karns. 
My nephew owns a farm at Gettysburg, so I used that as my base for on-site research at the battlefield.  In addition to that, I have a number of friends who are Civil War re-enactors who read drafts of this story and made pointed criticisms of any inaccuracies they found in the text. I was also given access to documents and materials by the county historical societies in my area, and read dozens of books, including regimental histories and first person accounts of the early days of the oilfields in Western PA. 

4. Can you tell us a little about the main character, Ezekiel Edwards? Edwards is a combination of historical figures. In my research on the Civil War I learned that there were a number of men who showed up in their hometown after the war, to find that everyone thought they were dead. (Some even had graves and tombstones to visit.)  This accounts for the part of his story that concerns his wife thinking him dead and remarrying (that actually happened to some soldiers.) His New England background is based on several historical figures. The first was Jonathon Edwards  the famous Puritan preacher and philosopher. The other two men were both named Chamberlain – Joshua Chamberlain, the hero of Little Round Top, and another Captain Chamberlain who was the leader of the Bucktails, was from New England, and who was injured on the first day of the battle and carried to McPherson’s barn. He was shot in the shoulder, but recovered to write the 150th Bucktails regimental history. 
Each of these characters lent some of their story to my invented character Ezekiel Edwards. The parts about being taken to Pittsburg (old spelling) to recover are authentic, and I think he is fairly typical of the educated class of men who were prominent both in the Civil War and in the oilfields like Pithole, PA. 

5. Chastity Stottish is another important figure. Can you describe the role she plays? She is a nurse in Pittsburg, and is also the somewhat spoiled daughter of a wealthy iron mill owner, her father Solomon Stottish.  She is headstrong, independent and unconventional (few young ladies were allowed to become nurses then, it was too risqué.) She is also extremely unconventional in that she is in love with an African American slave when the story begins. But the conflicts inherent in that situation come to a head when she gets further involved as a love interest of Ezekiel Edwards, who is sent to “fetch her” by her wealthy father. She also plays a key role as Abraham Lincoln’s nurse. He is grouchy and morose, and she must put up with not only his moods, but his reputation and position. If she loses this patient to his injuries it will have a dramatically bad effect on the nation.  
Through the romantic relationships that she has with Marcus the slave, and later with Ezekiel Edwards, I try to show that she grows as a person – from being something of a brat, to someone who plays a key role in the development of the story and the unfolding of events. 

6. How did you chose the setting for this book? I’ve mentioned the events which led to me writing about Gettysburg, and Pittsburg,  but the main setting for the story is in Pithole, PA.  I first heard about Pithole while riding a tourist train through the Oil Creek Valley. The docent on the train pointed to a stream coming down a hillside and said “Up that valley is Pithole. A million dollars a day in gold changed hands in that town in 1865, and there was a murder a day.”  Just that chance remark made me think it was a great setting for a suspense novel.  

7. Even with the South winning the civil war and slavery remaining legal in this book, there is still a desire for many to live differently. How is that portrayed in this book? I think the fact that Lincoln survives, and his dream for an America really built on the ideals that he believed in – that America could not be “a house divided – it shall have to be all slave, or all free” animate this story. When he later talked about a nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal” I think it was a watershed moment in American history and thought.  
With hindsight we are able to look back and say that the triumph of freedom for all people in America was inevitable.  But it was not inevitable for those who had to fight to end slavery –  many of the historians I have read see the outcome at several key points in the struggle to be in doubt.  I think what my story tries to suggest is that even if the cause was lost, the struggle would have continued on, and that spirit of liberty and freedom that is at the heart of the American experiment would have prevailed. I think that is portrayed by the events at the end of the book when General Grant appears on the scene. 

8. Who are your favorite authors? I grew up reading American authors like John D. MacDonald and Taylor Caldwell. I later came to be very interested in British writers like J.R.R. Tolkein, G.K. Chesterton, and C.S. Lewis. I like their combination of myth and fantasy in their work.  But I still have some American favorites like that I like to read currently, like Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson, who do a mix of fantasy and science fiction, and the Gorky Park author, Martin Cruz Smith.

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? Nothing very special, although I do like to put on music from the period I am writing about and I find that inspiring. 

10. Can you tell us about any future projects?  I have thought about a sequel to my current Civil War novel that features U.S. Grant, but the main thing I currently have on the back burner is an apocalypse story that combines elements of the Christian view of the “end times” with elements of the what I call the “scientific apocalypse” – massive climate change, plagues, etc.  

The Last Best Hope is available now from Amazon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Introducing: David Parrot

Let's get to know a little more about David Parrot and what inspired this alternate history novel. And don't forget to come back tomorrow for a behind the scenes look at how The Last Best Hope came to be. 

"David L. Parrott was born in Detroit, but as a boy he lived in Pittsburgh and Sweden. He spent his formative years in DuBois, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor s from Melodyland School of Theology in Anaheim, California, then moved to Boston where he studied church history and languages at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, with some coursework at Harvard Divinity School. While in Massachusetts, he earned a master s in historical theology and worked restoring colonial homes. 

When he returned to Pennsylvania he ran a small construction business while writing fiction in his spare time. He and his wife, Leslie have two children, Travis and Lauren. Because his wife is of Japanese-American descent, he began researching the internent of the Japanese-Americans (including his wife s entire extended family) during World War II. This research led to his first historical novel MURDER IN MANZANAR. His other published work is a humorous mystery, THE CURIOUS CASE OF PUNXSY PHIL based on the legend of the weather predicting groundhog. 

David s interest in the Civil War grew from his work in church history as well as the connections between the oil region of Western Pennsylvania and the battlefields of the Civil War. His nephew owns a farm at Gettysburg and a number of the author s friends are active Civil War re-enactors and historians. These connections helped him in his research while writing THE LAST BEST HOPE. It also helped to have a sister, Dr. Jayne Magee, who teaches writing at a community college in Ohio: she has helped improve the story with her insightful comments. He is currently working as a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the Communications Media department and teaches courses on communications theory and scriptwriting. He is completing a doctorate in that field, with a research interest in foreign language acquisition in 3D virtual worlds using avatars, while continuing to write in his spare time. His interests include writing, history, restoration of antique British cars, and German toy trains." 

The Last Best Hope is available now from Amazon

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Edible Bookshelf Button

New Book: The Last Best Hope

Last week we got a taste of WW1-era Europe and the history of that time and the people who lived through it. This week, the historical fiction novel being featured is taking us down a different historical path. An alternate one. We've probably all wondered what the U.S. would be like to day if the South had won the civil war. David Parrott attempts to answer that question in The Last Best Hope

"Historians have often asked, What if the South had won at the Battle of Gettysburg? what if, indeed?

1865: The South has won The Civil War; Robert E. Lee is President of the Confederate States of America; and Abraham Lincoln is paralyzed and a fugitive, protected by remnants of the defeated Union Army after being shot in the spine when Washington was sacked by the Rebels. Slavery is legal and has penetrated all sectors of the land that was once the United States of America. John Wilkes Booth, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and The PInkertons all play a pivotal tole in the shaping of the now permanently divided nation. 

Set in the oil boom area of Northwest Pennsylvania, The Last Best Hope, follows the lives of Captain Ezekiel Edwards, Chastity Stottish, others deeply impacted by the aftermath of both stunning victory and shameful defeat in a sweeping drama of romance, adventure, and hope for a better tomorrow." 

The Last Best Hope is available now from Amazon

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: The Officer's Code

At a time when Eric's biggest concern was meeting his father's high expectations, fitting into his new German life and finding a way to win over the father of the woman he loves are paramount. To accomplish his goal of marrying Brigitte, Eric embraces his German heritage and secures a spot in the prestigious German cavalry. This seems like a sure path to impressing Brigitte's father until rumors of war begin to spread. 

The idea of this book, that a young man joins the German military to win over his girlfriend's father, and then is faced with the rise of World War one is filled with potential. Right away readers can imagine the struggles, emotion, and tragedy the characters will face. Once readers start reading, they will find that their imaginings won't be disappointed. Alexander delivers on everything promised. This story is rich with emotion, plot, and deep characters. 

The characters are the first thing that will attract readers to this story and keep them from putting it down. Eric is badgered by his father at every turn - something most readers can relate to in one way or another. That connection with Eric deepens as the story progresses. His successes are constantly deemed unworthy by his father while those around him praise his effort. Alexander leads up to Eric's decision to stand on his own very well. Given that this decision is influenced by the wild and beautiful Brigitte makes it all the more intriguing. 

Brigitte and Eric's relationship is a center point of this book in plot line, but also in interest. Readers won't be able to help getting wrapped up in their story. When you meet these two it is obvious that they both have room to grow. Throughout the book they face multiple struggles within the relationship, and also from the circumstances of the conflict overtaking the world. Brigitte and Eric also face personal trials when it comes family problems and personal loss. The emotion that runs through this story is deep and real. I felt very connected to these characters and truly cared about them as I followed their story. 

The historical aspect of this book was very well done. Alexander obviously did her research and took the time to build a realistic setting and storyline. Even though I am far from being called a history buff, I felt at home in World War 1 era Europe. Unfamiliar aspects of the culture and locations were explained without making it into a history lesson. Alexander gave just enough background of the time period and the politics going on to make it real. 

There were really only a few small items that gave me a little trouble. At times, especially in the early chapters, the descriptions of certain rooms or places was a bit heavy. I felt it slowed the story down in some places. There were also some sexual elements, that while not overly graphic, would be inappropriate for younger readers. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It was a well developed story with fascinating characters and plenty of emotional turmoil. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Mainly adults readers, but I wouldn't tie it down to one particular genre group. Historical readers in general will like this book. Of course, those interested in WW1 will fall right into the story, but also, those readers looking for a good dramatic story, or a romance that is meaningful and strong will love this book as well. 

The Officer's Code is available now from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle, and Barnes and Noble.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Favorites: The Officer's Code

In any book centered around a romantic relationship, the beginning, the initial meeting, is important. It should make an impact and convince the readers that this relationship is worth caring and reading about. 

Given that Eric von Schellendorf makes several life changing decisions because of this woman, I was quite interested to see how their first meeting would go. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. Brigitte is a character that instantly catches your attention. She is not a proper little princess like you might expect. Her families largely ignores her, and even Erich has a moment where he wonders if she isn't a little crazy. However, that doesn't stop him from being captivated by her. 

I enjoyed the interplay between these two characters. Brigitte is flirty and wild, wanting boys to chase her just so she can put them off. Erich sees this and refuses to play her game, but instead plays his own. It is a fun and memorable beginning to their relationship, one that promises the rest of their story will be one you want to read. 

The Officer's Code is available now from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle, and Barnes and Noble.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Interview: Lyn Alexander

Let's go behind the scenes of The Officer's Code and find out what inspired this tale of love and devotion amid war and difficult choices. 

1. What was your inspiration for "The Officer's Code?"  Oddly, it was another novel that I had already written, “The English General”, which started off as just another story. The central character, General Erich von Schellendorf, was so compelling that I had to write a second novel to show what happened to him after the end of Hitler’s war. THEN I simply had to write yet another novel to show how he got into such a life in the first place.
The original inspiration, however, when I was very young many years ago, was my friendship with Frau Lucie Rommel, the widow of the famous German field marshal of World War II. Many things she told me stuck in my mind for about 40 years before I sat down to write about a German general who had to fight a war he didn’t want for a leader he despised. (No reflection on Rommel, who was a tiger.)

2. Can you tell us a little about your main character, Eric Foster? Oh gosh. This is a young fellow graced with inherent leadership that he doesn’t recognise in himself – but other people do. He is also easily linfluenced. When he meets Brigitte, she is enough delight for him to change the fundamental course of his life. It’s a conscious choice he makes, which I hope demonstrates a basic strength of character, rather than a momentary weakness.

3. What spurs Eric's decision to abandon what he knew and basically start a new life?
It’s the old father-son conflict. If it were not for the rigid demands of his father, Eric would not have been so driven, and Brigitte might have remained a pleasant episode in his young life.

4. What is it about Brigitte that Eric finds so alluring? First, of course, her spectacular beauty. But Eric is not so superficial as that. Second, her love of horses and ability as a horsewoman, and her almost boyish companionship. Of course her flirtation and taunting get him dancing to her tune in bewildered circles. But most important is her deep loneliness and his ability to fill that vacuum.

5. What influences Eric's decision to seek out connections with his mother's German family? In Germany of that day, the military occupied the highest level of society, just under royalty itself. To attach himself to a celebrated German military family name allows him to court Brigitte’s aristocratic family as an equal. Yes, in that day one had to court first the family, then the daughter.

6. Eric's decision to embrace the German side of his family has far reaching effects. Can you explain a little about this? By using the name of an actual, powerful, historical figure I was thus able to accomplish the story line that I visualised. Eric’s deceased great uncle was Bismarck’s Minister of War, giving Eric equality with Brigitte’s family and making it possible for them to marry. Second, the family name gives Eric both protection in the German army, and an unseen sponsor during the war itself. 

7. Describe the changes Eric undergoes, without giving away too much, as a result of his military association? So many changes. He develops from an English university student to a military officer in the toughest army in the world. He loses his youthful naiveté. He learns how NOT to drink. He gains courage in the fellowship of the army, and pride in the meaning of the uniform. He uncovers deep strengths within himself that he never knew were there. He learns the true meaning of honour.

8. Who are your favorite authors? This is hard. Ernest Hemingway. Erich Maria Remarque. I think the popular writers of today do not reach very deeply for their stories. I don’t mean deep significance, I mean deep inside. This may be unfair of me. I’ve recently discovered the Scandinavian authors, who do reach deep and who write in wonderful active prose, and of course must have extraordinary translators to make it work so well. I’m presently working through Hans Fallada’s novel “Jeder stirbt für sich allein” (Every Man Dies Alone) in the original, which is a tough reading project, but enormously rewarding. Fallada wrote from where he stood, as if it were completely off the cuff. An amazing writer.

9. Do you have any interesting habits or rituals when you write? Not very interesting. I have a large ‘workroom’, with cathedral ceiling, large windows TV, computer/printer, a wall of books, and two small parrots who like to help. I have a touch-screen, and one of the parrots, Rainbow, likes to sit on the monitor to see if she can find with her beak the little red button at the top right corner. Other than that bit of excitement, I just park the old butt in the chair and do my work. And hit Ctrl-S every few words, for insurance. The TV is tuned permanently to the classical music channel.

10. Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? The Schellendorf series of historical novels is on my table until all four are released – probably in the next three years. Until they actually go to the printer, each manuscript will be tweaked and line-edited until it is as letter-perfect as possible. 

The Schellendorf Series
1.  The Officer’s Code - World War I
2.  The Versailles Legacy – The rise of Hitler
3.  The English General – World War II
4.  A Good Soldier – after the most destructive war in history.

Then I have three older manuscripts that I hope to bring to publishing standard. These will all keep me busy for a while.

The Officer's Code is available now from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle, and Barnes and Noble.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Introducing: Lyn Alexander

Get to know more about Lyn Alexander to day and how her own history has influenced her writing. 

"I started writing when I was twelve and have never stopped since.
When I was seventeen I walked out of high school under a cloud, and a few weeks later on my eighteenth birthday ran away to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force. In boot camp on Day One, lowest of the low, I was abruptly introduced to a challenging military life of discipline, physical effort, teamwork, drill and regulations. Almost as quickly I picked up pride in the uniform and in myself, pride in duty, honour, fidelity, and high principle.
Eight years later I was commissioned from the ranks, so I experienced military life from two distinct perspectives. While in the RCAF, I wrote my first full-length novel, Steelwalker. I sent it off to an agent in New York, who immediately sold it to Doubleday, and sent me a munificent cheque for $1600.00 (U.S. funds), about two months’ pay at that time. Ah foolish me: I thought it was just that simple!
Eventually I resigned my commission to study veterinary medicine, mainly because at that moment in history there was no advancement for women in uniform. Today we have woman generals. Onward and upward, ladies!
It took ten hard years to work my way from pre-university to a veterinary degree. While a student at Ontario Veterinary College, I have taken the temperature of a dolphin, and filed the nails of a circus elephant! Since graduating in 1977, I practiced small-animal veterinary medicine and surgery, specialising in pets, exotics, and reptiles. I retired in 2009.
I have travelled much of Western Europe, the U.S.A. and most of Canada, and speak three foreign languages badly."

Stay up to date on what Lyn Alexander is writing by visiting her website

The Officer's Code is available now from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle, and Barnes and Noble.

You can also enter to win a signed paperback copy or an ebook of The Officer's Code by entering below!

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Monday, October 22, 2012

New Book: The Officer's Code

Step back into pre-WW1 era when the idea of embracing your family's Prussian connections and securing a spot in the German military seemed like a good way to win over a girl's father. This quickly changes in the months before The Great War breaks out. 

"In 1912, failing at Cambridge pre-law, Eric Foster rebels against his father s rigid plans for his future as a barrister in the family s London law firm. Transferring to Heidelberg University, he is the Engländer to the other students. In his search to control his own destiny he falls in love with the daughter of a German baron and retired cavalry colonel. To prove his worth to Brigitte s aristocratic family, Eric uses his German mother s old Prussian connections and takes her family name. As Erich von Schellendorf he is able to buy a commission in an elite German cavalry regiment. By penetrating the most respected, most powerful social class of Imperial Germany of that day, he opens the way to marry his beloved only months before the outbreak of World War One, the war to end all wars. Fighting in the army opposing his homeland, can Eric stay true to the powerful German Officers Code of Honour? And if he does, can he ever go home again?" 

The Officer's Code is available now from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle, and Barnes and Noble.

You can also enter to win a copy of The Officer's Code by entering below!

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Night Journey

A family wedding over the weekend should mean a few days of fun and friends...not ghosts and near death experiences. Emma isn't thrilled when she learns the hotel they are staying at has a history of supernatural visitors, but she doesn't believe in ghost, so what does it matter? Right? Her beliefs are quickly challenged with strange experiences and an inexplicable familiarity with the hotel. 

The history behind this book was what drew me in initially. I really enjoyed the real "ghost stories" mentioned in the book and the details about the hotel and its otherworldly residents. I'm not big into paranormal sightings and such, but knowing this hotel really has these stories gave the book more depth for me. 

The characters in Night Journey were another element that kept me reading. You meet Emma, and from the first few pages you can feel her emotional struggle and sympathize with the hardships she's been going through. When it comes to the topic of children, I couldn't help but get sucked into Emma's agony. Emma has great strength as well. She's been through a lot, but she doesn't fold. I enjoyed her character and felt as though I was taking the journey right along with her. 

Zan was a great character as well. His love and concern for Emma is very endearing. As he waits feeling helpless but desperate to save her, it's hard not to wring your hands along with him. The side characters were interesting as well. With some, like Moonbeam, I wasn't sure about at first, but Browning used them well to foreshadow and give aid when needed without letting their eccentricities overpower the story. 

The flow of the story overall was well done. Browning kept the action going while still delivering quality storyline. My only issue with flow was in the beginning where there was a lot of history being given. At times it was a bit too much all at once. Even though it was interesting, it could have been broken up a little more. Aside from that, I stayed interested all the way through and stayed anxious about what was going to happen. 

Overall, this was a fascinating story with great history, wonderful characters, and a plot that you can get caught up in. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, there is a lot in this story that appeals to readers of all types. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Paranormal readers will certainly enjoy this book, but those who aren't big into the paranormal will enjoy it too thanks to the history, good relationships between the characters, and mystery.

Night Journey is available now from Amazon and B&N

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Favorites: Night Journey

Books and movies that are based on true stories have always interested me. Having a base in reality brings another layer to the story for me. This is especially true for spooky stories! 

I loved that Night Journey was based in a real hotel with an actual history of hauntings. While some ghosts mentioned in the book are fictional, many of the accounts mentioned are recorded events. I love scary stories, and reading this while knowing that real people who have visited this hotel have had these strange encounters gives me goosebumps. 

If the setting had been entirely fictional, I don't know that this story would have had the same impact on me as I read. I kept picturing real hotel guests encountering the same phenomenon. It made me want to visit The Crescent Hotel!

Night Journey is available now from Amazon and B&N

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Interview: Goldie Browning

Today where going behind the scenes of Night Journey to find out more about how this ghost story came to be. 

1. What was your inspiration for Night Journey? The 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. A few years ago my husband and I took a motorcycle trip through the Ozarks, and we decided to stay at the beautiful old hotel in the enchanting town of Eureka Springs. We booked two nights in Theodora’s Room and we weren’t there very long before she let us know it was still her room. 
She made banging sounds where nothing had fallen, there were cold spots in the room, and the first night there I saw what looked like a blue, fluorescent mist that hovered in the upper corner of the bedroom for several moments. The next night I took the ghost tour and learned all about the hotel, its ghosts, and its true, macabre history when Dr. Norman Baker, a 20th Century snake-oil salesman, ran a cancer hospital there in the 1930’s in which he promised a cure for cancer to poor, desperate people during the Great Depression. That night, I actually dreamed the basic plot of Night Journey, so I had no choice but to write the book. A recent review of Night Journey complained about one character talking as if she were conducting a tour. Well, that’s exactly what she’s doing. I wanted my readers to experience the Ghost Tour for themselves. It not only shows them what happens in the real hotel, but it relays a lot of good information about the hotel and its history. I have been told that people sometimes carry my book with them on the tour to use as a reference!

2. How did you make your story of a haunted mansion unique from other books? The combination of fact with fiction. The Crescent Hotel is a very real place where a person can go to sleep with ghosts, if that’s what they want to do. I spent months researching, finding out everything I could about the mysterious Norman Baker and his crimes. I even located his trial court records in the national archives in Fort Worth, Texas that hadn’t been touched in decades. I wanted to learn everything about what happened there to cause so many restless spirits. I was privileged to write Norman Baker’s bio on Findagrave. If you’re interested, go to, click on “famous name search” and enter Norman G Baker. 

3. Can you describe the main character, Emma, and her personality? Emma is a goal-oriented person who puts everything she has into achieving whatever it is she wants. Her five-year plan is to have a baby with husband Zan, but it hasn’t happened yet, so she’s stressing about a medical procedure to “kick-start” her fertility. As an adopted child, she’s slightly insecure and she likes order and predictability in her life. So, she must learn to think on her feet while on her “night journey” adventure. The sub-plot about Emma almost being the victim of a transplant scheme came only months before I fell ill with cardiomyopathy and was referred for heart transplant evaluation. Thankfully, a miracle happened and I made a full recovery—but there is a bit of irony in the situation.

4. How do Zan's and Emma's view of the hotel they will be staying at differ? Zan thinks the idea of staying at a haunted hotel is cool, but Emma is not amused. She’s never really thought much about ghosts, and she doesn’t really believe in them, but she can’t help being slightly creeped out. She’s also never thought about reincarnation, but she soon discovers she’s been at the hotel in a former life.

5. How did you use foreshadowing to give readers hints about how Emma might be connected to the hotel? When Zan and Emma stop at the Overlook and she sees the hotel on the hill that appears to be floating in the clouds she has a feeling that she’s been there before. Then, when they get inside and she looks around, her feeling of déjà vu become stronger. When she hears the room number they will be staying in is 419 she remember it’s the room number from her dream in the car.

6. You use a lot of small clues in the early chapters. How did you plan each clue? I worked backward. I learned who my characters were and what they were like. Then, working from a basic plot outline, I fleshed in the details.

7. The two living MCs aren't the only one who make and appearance in the opening. Can you tell us a little about Theodora without giving away too much? Theodora, whom I have personally met (hovering blue mist), is a little old lady, age 75-80. She had ovarian cancer, so she went to the Baker Cancer Hospital for treatment. Actually, Theodora is not a documented person who died there. However, she is one of the more active entities inhabiting the Crescent Hotel and people have reportedly seen her as a full body apparition. In my story, she is like a guardian angel to Emma on several occasions during her “night journey.” When the TAPS Ghost Hunter crew filmed there they stayed in Room 419 and she moved their luggage and camera equipment against the door while nobody was there!

8. Who are your favorite authors? My favorite famous authors are: Nora Lofts, Phyllis Whitney, Rebecca Paisley, Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Caroline Clemmons, Heather Graham, Lorelei Shannon, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, on and on…

My favorite SOON-TO-BE FAMOUS authors are: Laurel Bradley, Lorrie Kruse, Paul Xavier Jones, Lyn Alexander, David L. Parrott, Harol Marshall, Ann Fields, and Debby Grahl

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? I must have my one-year-old Maltese, Trinket, next to me at all times.

10. Can you tell us about any other books or projects you're working on? Groan… I am so busy editing Storyteller Publishing books I don’t spend as much time as I’d like on my own writing. However, I am working on a book called THE BRIDES OF THE ADOLPHUS which is another “haunted hotel” book, this time set at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Texas, which just celebrated its one hundred year anniversary, and incidentally, was where Stephen King stayed last year while promoting his book “11/22/63”. And we all know what happened in Dallas that day. My book will involve time travel to three different times in the past: 1912, 1937, and 1963 and will incorporate different ghostly legends at the actual hotel. 

You can stay up to date with Goldie on her personal websiteStoryteller Publishing's website, and the Crescent Hotel's website. 

Night Journey is available now from Amazon and B&N

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Introducing: Goldie Browning

A book set in a haunted hotel that once used to be a cancer hospital...there must be a story behind this story. Let's get to know more about Goldie Browning and how she developed an interest in the paranormal. 

"Goldie Browning’s twisted imagination and fascination with the paranormal began in early childhood with her grandmother’s ghost stories and her brother’s retelling of classic fairy tales, such as Snow White and the Seven Little Frankensteins and Cinderacula. Almost every vacation she takes includes a stay at a haunted hotel or castle, as well as visits to famous cemeteries or catacombs. 

Her first and favorite job was as a secretary at a military mortuary in West Germany, followed by more mundane employment which included being a newspaper reporter, a real estate agent, a substitute school teacher, and a legal secretary. She finally settled down to a long career as a courtroom deputy clerk for two federal judges before retiring and getting to do what she wants to do when she grows up—be a writer—and now editor of Storyteller Publishing.
Not long after finishing Night Journey she was stricken with cardiomyopathy.  She received an implanted cardio-defibrillator and was evaluated for a heart transplant, which ironically paralleled the plot of Night Journey. Luckily, time and medication worked their miracle and she made a full recovery. Her experience, as well as someone near and dear to her in need of an organ transplant, has transformed Goldie into an advocate for Organ Donation and Living Wills.
The best thing she ever did was marry her high school sweetheart, Alan a long, long time ago. She’s living happily ever after with husband and family, which includes a menagerie of fur people, on a wooded hill in rural North Texas." 

You can stay up to date with Goldie on her personal website, Storyteller Publishing's website, and the Crescent Hotel's website. 

Night Journey is available now from Amazon and B&N

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway Hop

The Edible Bookshelf is joining the Fall Into Fantasy Hop hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writerand The Write Path

The Fall Into Fantasy Hop will run from October 16th - 21st. 

Every blog that is part of the hop will be giving away a fantasy book! I will be giving away a signed copy of my newest YA urban fantasy novel,Inquest:Volume 1 of the Destroyer Trilogy

Interested? Learn more about Inquest and then check out all the other blogs and their giveaways as well. 

Inquest:Volume 1 of the Destroyer Trilogy 

"What would you do if your destiny was to bring chaos, and the end of the world? For Libby Sparks, turning sixteen means only one thing…death. Guardian rule demands she attend the ritualistic Inquest that will unveil her talents and secure her place in society. But that isn’t all that will be revealed in Libby’s case. The more talents you have the better, at least to some degree. Four or five talents will guarantee you a life of luxury, but seven…that is the mark of the Destroyer. 

Libby knows her Inquest will reveal her to be the Guardians’ greatest enemy. Their law requires her death before her eighteenth birthday. If she lives, prophecy foretells that the world will fall into chaos and destruction. Once her destiny is revealed, Libby is abandoned when her mother throws her out, her boyfriend tries to kill her, and her best friend shuts her out. Only Milo, a slightly grungy outcast, seems willing to be her friend—but Libby soon realizes he has secrets of his own. His secrets may very well have everything to do with her own destiny. 

In order to make it to her eighteenth birthday, Libby must bury her talents and convince the world she is harmless. Her plan only lasts until Milo is put in danger and Libby is forced to choose. Abandon her friend to save her own life, or embrace her destiny and truly become the Destroyer." 

Praise for Inquest: "Delsheree Gladden’s breathtaking dystopian young adult novel, Inquest, is one of the most brilliant books of 2012. The characters are full of life and the story will keep you turning pages until the very end. It’s a thrill ride you’ll never forget.” —Apryl Baker, author of The Promise and The Awakening 

“Inquest is pure story, and I love it. Gladden seamlessly blends realities from our world with the extraordinary fantasies from hers, to create a story that’s easy to get lost in. Her characters are flawed and perfectly irrational like the rest of us, and it was nice to read a YA novel with a protagonist that was more human than hero. I’d honestly recommend this book to anyone that’s a fan of fiction." —Jesse Anderson, author of Trailer Park Juggernauts

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New Book: Night Journey

We're gearing up for Halloween this week on The Edible Bookshelf. Goldie Browning's paranormal novel, Night Journey, pulls you into a world where the dead observe and interact with the modern world and the past still holds considerable sway over the living. 

"A ROMANTIC WEEKEND GONE WRONG America’s most haunted hotel, a spooky ghost tour with a visit to a former morgue, and a family wedding—all the ingredients for a fun-filled weekend. Emma and Zan Fuller have never been to the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas—at least not in this lifetime. But the ghosts that haunt the former cancer hospital remember Emma, and they won’t rest until she’s joined them once again. When a bizarre accident almost claims her life, her soul is catapulted backward in time to 1938. Things get even worse while she lies comatose, however, because she is now a target for an organ transplant scheme. 

STAR CROSSED LOVERS It’s Depression Era 1938 when Ivy Turner meets Harry Fuller. Love happens quickly, but they’ll never live happily ever after if her parents have their way. Despite their objections, the couple elopes. Wedded bliss soon turns to despair, however, when Harry is arrested and Ivy is sent to the Baker Cancer Hospital. But Ivy doesn’t have cancer. She’s pregnant with Harry’s child—the child who will someday become Zan Fuller’s father. JOURNEY 

ACROSS TIME Emma wakes up, but not the way she’d expected. Her soul has entered the cancer-riddled body of a woman who had died only moments before. And to make matters worse, she’s trapped in time—it’s 1938. She’s back at the Crescent Hotel, which is now the Baker Cancer Hospital. The people who had once been simply characters in a ghost story are now living, breathing human beings. But Emma’s biggest worry is Zan’s grandmother, Ivy. If anything happens to her or her baby, Zan will never exist. Can Emma, imprisoned in a sick and dying body, rescue Ivy and Harry? Can Zan, in 2011, prevent the hospital administrator from ending her life support and harvesting her heart?

Night Journey is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus

The day starts off ordinary enough for Ameca J. Her sister is driving her crazy. Her dad is too busy to pay attention to her. No big surprises there...until Ameca's little sister Fraya makes a startling discovery. The glowing being in the woods sends a "RUN" message through Ameca's mind, but of course, Fraya reaches out an touches the being. The next thing they know they've been dumped in a completely different forest, on a completely different world. Getting back home is a problem. Staying alive in this new world is an even bigger one. 

Ameca and Fraya end up being transported to Mythrania, a world where the girls' blond and auburn locks set them apart as Magi - magic users. Which may sound like fun, but only until the girls realize their hair color has set an evil demon after them. The world of Mythrania that Jones created is very rich and interesting. The descriptions draw you in and the history helps readers become invested in the characters. I really enjoyed the backstories of the characters the girls meet. The fact that they all have their own problems in addition to stumbling upon the girls and their father rounded out the story. It isn't just the girls you worry about, it's all the characters you meet. 

The idea for this book is very interesting as well. The choice of using hair color as the factor that set the girls apart was very unique, and something young readers can enjoy. They idea of a prophecy is nothing new in YA fiction, but Jones puts a twist on the idea by making the prophecy something sprung from a world the girls don't even live on. There are tried and true story elements in this book, but Jones does a good job of giving each one new life in this story. 

For young readers, this book has good pacing. The girls' journey moves along nicely, skipping over long drawn out parts of the journey where young readers would lose interest. Jones kept the story focused on events and action. The characters aren't overly emotional about the changes that happen, which doesn't work well for adults and older teens in many cases, but for younger readers who want to read about adventure more than emotional turmoil, it was a good fit. 

One of my few issues with the book was that I did not immediately care for Ameca very much. I thought she was overly mean to her sister. Perhaps if Fraya had actually been more annoying and troublesome I would have sympathized with Ameca more, but I actually thought Fraya was sweet, so Ameca's treatment of her made it difficult for me to like her in the beginning. As the story progresses and Ameca begins to see that her sister does have worth and that she does love, her attitude begins to change and I felt myself enjoying her character a more. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. The world was well developed, the side characters were full, the overall story was very interesting, and for the most part the main characters were characters you could care about. The adventure these girls and their father go on is sure to capture young readers attention. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It's a fun, imaginative fantasy. It was a good start to the series. 

Who would I recommend this book too? I feel it's going to interest readers on the younger side of the YA spectrum. I would recommend this boys and girls ages 9-14. I think older teens will be harder to target because of the age of Ameca and Fraya, and the focus on the adventure over the thoughts and emotions involved. I think this is a fun book for parents and children to read together, but I don't think it's one that will crossover to the adult readership alone. 

Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus is available now from Amazon and B&N

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Favorites: Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus

Every fantasy book has to have a solid fantasy world that is real, interesting, and draws the reader in. Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus starts out in the everyday world we all know, but contact with The Spirit pulls them into Mythrania. 

One of the aspects of this world that really pulled me in was the history of this world. Ameca and her sister and father don't just drop into a world of magical beings and adventure, the become wrapped up in not only a world wide threat, but personal feuds as well. 

The story of two friends, one who lost the woman he loved, one who lost a sister and blames the other for her death, was an added layer to the world that made it feel that much more real. It helped me connect with was seemed to be only side characters at first. I enjoyed the sense that this world had conflict on many levels, making it a rich story overall. 

Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus is available now from Amazon and B&N

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interview: Paul Xavier Jones

Yesterday we got to know more about Paul as a writer. Today, let's get to know more about how Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus  came to be. 

1. What was your inspiration for Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus? The idea came to me during a truly dreadful holiday on the Greek island of Crete, a treat for my wife’s 40th birthday. We ended up in a terrible hotel which we hadn’t booked, and my two daughters were bored, so decided to fight all the time. It was during one of their bickering sessions that I thought to myself; wouldn’t it be great if they didn’t fight?

This was followed by, how could I get them to stop?

The answer, write a book about them, and put them into situations where if they continued to fight as they did now, then either they or someone around them would quite literally die.  So the books are based on my two children, Ameca and Fraya, whose names are used as well. Ameca got the lead name in the title, because her name was just that much more unusual.

2. How did you develop the fantasy world in this? I’m proud to live in Wales, and the countryside where I live is spectacular enough to form the settings for the world of Mythrania. As well as that, legends of the Celts and Merlin the Wizard are very common here, so the basis of some of my material was easy-ish.

3. Ameca J is the main character, but the reader also gets to follow her father. What made you decide to use a dual storyline like this? That’s a tough one to answer without giving away some of the plot, but in essence it was because I wanted a “twist” at the end of the story that the reader wouldn’t expect, and also by the time I got that far in the novel I knew I’d be writing a sequel, and the “twist” would form its beginning.

4. Can you tell us a little about Ameca J and her relationship with her sister. Well, I guess like many teenagers with younger siblings, it’s either pretty good or pretty bad. In this case its bad; Ameca is the elder, is fairly spoilt and resents the intrusion of her sister into her life, and particularly dislikes what she believes is a reduction in the attention she gets from her father now that she has a sister. This has obviously built up over some time.

5. The magic in this book is linked to hair color. How did you decide on this interesting combination? Yes, I think that idea is unique. I wanted something that would fit the story, particularly the prophecy part which identified “the One” (Dad), “the Flame” (Ameca) and the Flower, (Fraya). I decided that hair colour would do that job, and I would tie their powers to it. Ameca, being red-headed would have a power linked to her personality, and as most red-heads are stereotyped as having volatile natures, then her powers seemed to fit the bill. Fraya on the other hand had gentler powers, and would seem to be a bit “dizzy” which seems to fit the stereotype for blondes. Readers will note however, particularly as the series progresses, Fraya loses that stereotype and demonstrates some interesting magical innovation.

6. The world Ameca J finds herself in comes with its own history and problems. How did you develop the world's backstory?I think all I can say about that is I’ve always been an avid reader myself, and many other books probably inspired that, however to make the story work it had to be set somewhere beset by problems of its own – wouldn’t have been much of a story if they’d traveled to a world where everyone got on with everyone else!

7. Ameca J is 14 years old in this first book. Was her age due to the time frame of the series, or more for the age of readers you are hoping to attract? She was actually 13 in the draft, based on how old the real “Ameca” was at the time, but after some discussion with the publishers we decided to make both girls slightly older. I didn’t have a target audience for the work originally, it was meant to be enjoyed by anyone who liked fantasy books from ten years old and up.

8. Who are your favorite authors?I have a lot, but mainly, J R Tolkien, Edgar Rice Boroughs, Robert E Howard, David Gemmel, David Eddings, Terry Pratchett, Bernard Cornwell, Arthur Conan Doyle

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? Not really. My writing has to fit around my two businesses and all the travelling I do, so I have to be able to simply put my laptop on anytime, anywhere and throw myself into it.

10. Can you tell us a little about the rest of the Ameca J series and any other projects you are working on? Well, there are another 3 books after the first one;
Ameca J and the Revenge of Rex-Ultar
Ameca J and the Demon God of Mythrania
Ameca J and the Rise of the Serpii

I will probably write another one or two as well, depending on how popular they prove to be. I have also written a Sci-Fi thriller called Boundary Limit, and it seems to be quite popular so I’m going to write a sequel, maybe two. I’m some way down the road on this, hoping the sequel, “No Boundaries” will be ready before Christmas 2012. I’ve also tried my hand at a Doctor Who novel, which is with the BBC submissions department, and I’ve published an adult humour/drama book called an Agent For Change.

Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus is available now from Amazon and B&N

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Introducing: Paul Xavier Jones

Let's get to know more about Paul Xavier Jones, the writer, and tomorrow come back to learn more about his newest book Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus

"Paul Xavier Jones is a Welsh writer living in the Swansea Valley with his wife and two daughters. Xavier is his pen name, based on an old nickname.

Paul is and always has been an avid sci fi and fantasy fan, graduating from Marvel and DC comic book superheroes to the realms of Middle Earth and Cimmeria. Authors who have influenced Paul’s thinking and writing are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J R Tolkien, Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Boroughs, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler and more recently, Andy McNab.
His own work is Epic Fantasy (the Ameca J Trilogy) and Science Fiction Thrillers (Boundary Limit). To date, Paul’s books are available as eBooks from Amazon and Smashwords.

Paul has written articles on eBook publishing for the Western Mail. 

Paul has also given talks on writing and eBook publishing for events such as the Rugby Business Network and been interviewed by the Llanelli Town Website

Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus has been awarded the Top Choice award by Flamingnet book reviews.

The Ameca J Series
The Ameca J series originally started life as one book, written specifically for Paul’s daughters, who both attend Welsh medium schools. Because Welsh is their first language, their English vocabulary was not great, so Paul wanted them to have a book that they could read to help improve their vocabulary. Of course, once the first book was written both children wanted to know what happened next, and the series was born.

The series starts with Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus, where Ameca, the teen protagonist from the title is sent to fetch her sister from school. While returning home, the two girls are transported to another world, Mythrania, where they have to put aside their differences and work together to survive. 

Mythrania is a land of magic, closely tied to our own, and there the girls discover that they have magical abilities by virtue of the colour of their hair; in Mythrania everyone has black hair, while Ameca has red hair and her sister has yellow. This gives them abilities which are tied to their personalities; Ameca can generate fire as she has a volatile personality, while Fraya can heal or age people with her own powers.

The girls are soon caught up in a battle between the humans on Mythrania and a range of horrific adversaries known as “Werethralls” – men who have been changed into beasts, but still retain their intelligence. Typically Werethralls are three types; Bear, Wolf and Lizard.
As the tale unfolds, Ameca and Fraya discover they are destined to fight the evil behind the Werethralls, a nebulous being of power known as the Scelestus.  They also discover they were prophesized to do this by someone called “Menindus,” the greatest magic user of all time. Incredibly, Menindus was also known on our world by another name, “Merlin.”

In this first book, the girls must get over their sibling antagonism and learn to use their abilities to fight for their very lives and the future of the entire Universe.

The second book follows on directly from the first, with the girls having to return to their own world to secure a magical artefact. They return with companions from Mythrania who have a culture shock on seeing the technology of our world as Mythrania is still medieval. They girls are shocked in turn to discover their mother has been abducted, and their quest takes a new twist when they try to recover her from agents of the Scelestus who have operated on our world for centuries.

The final book in the series draws together the story from the first two where the girls discover the true meaning of family and Ameca in particular must face a destiny that no child is prepared for… to kill her father…

The series was also written to promote a strong message of family solidarity. Having two children inevitably leads to lots of quarreling and bickering, and Paul wanted to paint a picture of what can happen where a family doesn’t pull together.

Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus is now available from Amazon and B&N