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On the Spotlight: The Memory Chair, by Susan White


Thirteen-year-old Betony has always hated going to her cranky great-grandmother’s house. It’s old and stuffy and boring and the woodstove in the kitchen is always burning too hot. But her Gram doesn’t have any other family living close by on the Kingston Peninsula, so Betony ends up being dragged along all the time.

She’d rather be pretty much anywhere…until one day Betony sits on her Gram’s favourite chair. She is suddenly transported into the past, and is experiencing her Gram’s life as if it were in her own memory. At first Betony is excited and curious, and begins to develop a close relationship with Gram, even learning to cook and quilt. But after she has experienced a few more of her great-grandmother’s memories, she realizes she is slowly uncovering a terrible, shameful family secret.




Susan’s  Website / Goodreads /  Facebook

Sue White was born in New Brunswick and moved from one New Brunswick city to another. As a teenager her family moved to the Kingston Peninsula and she only left long enough to earn her BA and BEd at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. Settling on the peninsula, she and her husband raised four children and ran a small farm while she taught elementary school. Since retiring she is grateful to now have the time to work on her writing and the freedom to regularly visit her new granddaughter in Alberta.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.
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Guest post: “My Inspiration behind ‘The Saint of Santa Fe'” by Silvio Sirias

Sirias - Cover - 9781937536565.inddEvery June 9, the Republic of Panama mourns the anniversary of Father Héctor Gallego’s disappearance. More than forty years after the crime, his case still remains a source of deep, national pain.

While researching The Saint of Santa Fe, I spent a considerable amount of time in the mountains of the province of Veraguas, where Father Gallego served as parish priest. I had lengthy conversations with people whose lives were deeply affected by this noble Colombian. Among them were Jacinto Peña, the lone witness to Father Gallego’s abduction; Father Raúl Rodríguez, Santa Fe’s current parish priest; and Edilma Gallego, Héctor’s sister who first came to Panama in September of 1999, when it was thought that her brother’s remains had been found. Edilma Gallego, a person every bit as courageous as her older sibling, has chosen to stay in this country to continue his work. And she and her family still have hopes that one day they will learn the truth about what happened to Héctor.

The stories and comments I heard while in Santa Fe were both inspiring and heartrending.  “He was the angel God sent to liberate us,” an elderly campesina said to me.  “To know him was to know Christ,” said Eric Concepción, for whom Father Gallego obtained a scholarship so he could study agriculture. At the time of our conversation, Eric was the president of Panamá’s organic farmers. “He was a prophet,” Father Rodríguez claims. “And sadly, as history repeatedly demonstrates, prophets meet a tragic fate because the truth they speak threatens the established order.”

And Father Héctor Gallego did speak the truth. As the first parish priest in the four-hundred year history of Santa Fe, he helped bring an end to the exploitation campesinos had been subjected to for centuries. Sadly, the truth offended the local strongman—a first cousin of General Omar Torrijos—and this cost Héctor his life.

Who kidnapped Father Héctor Gallego; on whose orders; how did he die; and where are his remains are questions that several former members of Panama’s defunct military can answer.  Yet in writing The Saint of Santa Fe I believed readers deserved to learn the story about the extraordinary things this saintly man did in life.

Find out more on Amazon


Silvio Sirias is the author of Bernardo and the Virgin (2005) and Meet Me under the Ceiba (2009), winner of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize for Best Novel, and most recently The Saint of Santa Fe.  A native of Los Angeles, he spent his adolescence in Nicaragua and currently lives in Panama.  In 2010, Silvio was named one of the “Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch (and Read).”  He has a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Arizona.  He has also published academic books on Julia Alvarez, Rudolfo Anaya, and the poet Salomon de la Selva.  In addition, he has a collection of essays titled Love Made Visible: Reflections on Writing, Teaching, and Other Distractions.  The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature lists him among the handful of authors who are introducing Central American themes into the U.S. literary landscape. For more information, visit his website at / Twitter: @silviosirias



Known Devil is the third instalment in Gustainis’ Occult Crime Uniturban fantasy series. Though I had not read the first two books, this one was completely stand-alone and didn’t make me feel I was missing anything. I have, however, read other books from Gustainis in the past (Evil WaysBlack Magic Woman andSympathy for the Devil), and thoroughly enjoyed them. He is a fabulous writer.

In this exciting new series, Detective Sergeant Stanley Markowski of the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit,  and his partner, vampire detective Karl Renfer, try to keep law and order in a world where supernaturals — or supes — have come out of the closet and walk the streets with humans. Markowski’s daughter, a vampire witch, is eager to help and offer her expertise, especially because she’s attracted to Karl.

A new drug has hit the streets, Haemoglobin Plus — better known as Slide — the first drug that addicts supes, and as a result, a new wave of crimes has risen in Scranton. Stan and Karl are right on the case, interrogating both humans and supes alike, trying to find out who is behind the new drug: Pietro Calabrese, the Godfather of the local vampire family? Wizard Victor Castle, the unofficial head of the city’s whole supernatural community?  The Delatasso family? Or the new Patriot Party, who has  declared supes “abominations before the Lord?”

If you love urban fantasy a la crime noir, you’ll love this book. Gustainis is smart, gritty, snarky. I just love his sharp, witty descriptions. Take a look at a few:

“He had salt-and-pepper hair, wide-set brown eyes, and a thin moustache in the middle of a face that was no harder than your average concrete wall.”

“He stared at me with eyes that had probably looked dead even before he became a vampire.”

“The terrace outside the front door is open in warmer weather, for those who like sharing their food with the local bugs. I prefer to eat inside, where the only insects I’m likely to encounter have two legs.”

“I saw a puzzled look on his face — maybe because Karl’s grip, like every vampire’s, is colder than a banker’s heart.”

Gustainis is also a master at providing comic relief. I laughed out loud at times. Stan is a likable, sympathetic character, tough yet kind when needed. The world building, the setting, and all the supernatural details come through in a genuine, realistic way. I also enjoyed all the police procedural, showing once more, as in his other books, that Gustainis has done his research well.

The story moves at a fairly quick pace, propelled by entertaining dialogue and lots of action scenes. Particularly interesting is the dynamics between humans and supernaturals now that they have to co-exist side by side. But best of all, is the author’s gifted prose, a pleasure to read. Highly recommended for fans of detective urban fantasy!

Visit the author’s website.

Find out more on Amazon.

My review as originally published in Blogcritics.

Character Interview: Diane O’Connor from Linda Merlino’s suspense Room of Tears

We’re thrilled to have here today Diane O’Connor from Linda Merlino’s new suspense, Room of Tears.  Diane O’Connor once taught high school and lives in Queens, in 2041 she is 71 years old.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

ImageThank you so for this interview, Diane.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

The book portrays my character with complete honesty.  I worked with the author, Linda Merlino, very closely making sure she detailed my description of my life as a firefighter’s wife and the events before and after 9/11.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

The Diane I was before 9/11 differed dramatically from the Diane I became.  The author burrowed into my soul and became my shadow writing with an in depth skill the Diane that was Billy’s wife and the Diane that became his widow.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I used all my strength-my reserves and then some to carry on after Billy’s death.  I did what I could to be a mother to our boy.  Tenacity would then be a trait I consider strong – without it I would not have survived.

Worse trait?

I lost faith after Billy died – closed off my heart to buffer the pain.  I developed a way of coasting through each day – living on the periphery and that leaked into being a mother.  My worse trait surfaced – selfish me –I turned inward shutting out my son from the person hidden beneath the shell – the mother he never knew.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Sally Field as the Diane portrayed in 2041.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

My one and only love my husband– Billy O’Connor.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I knew the ending – I’d been given the gift or curse if you will of knowing and I was never nervous or surprised just grateful to finally tell Billy’s story.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I considered Friar Antonio Ortiz a man of great character coming as he did upon my request to Queens.  A humble man, who struggled with me from our first greeting. A man who promised, on the soul of his great grandmother, to carry the burden of my revelations, for nineteen years.  I would not have wanted to be Antonio.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I asked Antonio to remember us – and he did.  The ending was the beginning of never forgetting.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Write about the Diane before 9/11.  I was fun and spirited – I loved life and believed we were invincible.

Thank you for this interview, Diane.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Hopefully readers will tell others about Room of Tears and their word of mouth will spread and my name will remain on their lips well into the future.


ImageLinda Merlino is the author of  Room of Tears (July 23 2013),Hudson Catalina(2008-Belly of the Whale & re-release 9/14/12), Swan Boat Souvenir (self-published 2003) she began writing fiction as a young mother on the sidelines of endless soccer practices.  Linda wrote anytime any place.  A manuscript filled a carton in the back seat of her car.  Many years have passed since those early beginnings, but her work continues to be inspired by her children.

The author has a fascination with heroes and writes her fiction to honor ordinary men and women who react unselfishly in extraordinary circumstances.  She extends her gratitude to all who keep us safe and free.

Her hometown is outside of Boston.  She lived for many years in New York City and more recently calls Connecticut her home.

Find the author on the web:           


Character Interview: Jalenia, from The Curse Giver, a fantasy novel by Dora Machado

We’re thrilled to have here today Jalenia, from Dora Machado’s new fantasy novel, The Curse Giver. Jalenia is an ageless curse giver who usually keeps her name and whereabouts secret, but generally operates in the Kingdom and the Free Territories that comprise the Land of the Thousand Gods along the great river Nerpes. She’s very mysterious, so don’t expect to learn a lot from her and beware: Whatever you do, you don’t really want her to turn her attention to you.

CurseGiver_Front Cover FinalIt is a pleasure to have you with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you, I think. I don’t do interviews often. More like never. But you seem like an interesting character yourself and I’m currently looking for work. Who knows? Maybe you or one of your readers needs a curse cast?

Thank you so much for this interview, Jalenia.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Fairly portrayed? I don’t think so. Creatures like us are never fairly portrayed. We are secretive, devious and mysterious by nature. We don’t like the spotlight. We believe in wickedness over goodness. We enjoy doing evil. We have to cast curses to exist, and yet people fear us because we do our job so well. Face it, villains never get fair press.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I’m afraid she might have painted me weak on a couple of occasions, but overall, I think Dora didn’t mince words. I mean, I like being evil, and she got that, oh, yes, she wrote me just the way I am. She didn’t make excuses for me. She didn’t make me good, or friendly, or even caring, thank the gods. So what if the readers may loathe me? So what if I cursed the Lord of Laonia?

Face it. The Lord of Laonia’s father did me wrong. He deserved to be cursed. He and his entire line deserved to suffer, all the way to the last of his sons, Bren, whose story is told in The Curse Giver. He was a fighter, that one. He wasn’t willing to lay down his sword and wait for my curse to kill him like any reasonable man might have done. His sense of duty was as impressive as his endurance.  I really enjoyed stringing him along. He waged a good fight. You must understand. I relish what I do and I enjoy a worthy opponent every so often. Heroes like Bren are hard to come by in my business. Fear usually neutralizes the cursed. Not Bren. He refused to be neutralized. He made it interesting for me.

As to that remedy mixer, Lusielle, well, she had it coming. She thought maybe she was going to be able to defeat me with her potions, to heal the curse from the very man that was trying to kill her in order to survive and save his people from the destruction. Little did she know about how foul and terrible her death would be in the hands of the man she tried to heal. Little did she know about the terrible secret that the Lord of Laonia kept from her until the very end.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m powerful, more powerful than any other curse giver that has ever existed. I’ve got good blood lines, excellent training, and I’ve lived a long time, which means I have the skills and expertise to cast a virulent curse. I can command the elements, travel swiftly through astonishing means, change my appearance almost at will and kill the strongest man with but a twist of my wrist. I’m persistent, oh yes, tenacious like the Goddess herself. And I’m a planner. My curses are impregnable, carefully crafted to address contingencies, anticipate disruptions, and ensure my victim’s demise. Finally, I’m merciless, selfish and wicked beyond redemption. These are the traits that make me the most powerful curse giver in the realms.

Worse trait?

I don’t have a worst trait. I consider myself the perfect curse giver. Shudder when you hear my name.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I doubt there’s anyone in my world capable of playing me. Don’t you understand? I can be anybody. I could even be you.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Love? Yuck. There’s enough of that from Bren and Lusielle in the story. Those two fought off the attraction growing between them almost as hard as they fought their enemies and me. I never understood. What did Lusielle see in the bitter, wretched lord fated to die by my hand?

Lusielle was a powerful healer, I understand that, but why would she want to heal the very man who was destined to kill her? I mean, what kind of madness fuels that type of compassion? I never did figure all of that out.

If you ask me, love is a pretty disgusting ailment. It makes the heart weak and the mind feeble. Lust, on the other hand, is a bit more interesting, something that perhaps I might consider to ease my boredom from time to time. There’s this creature that I had to work closely with there at the end the story, a traveler of the dark realms like myself, a soul chaser who claims the souls of the cursed when I’m done with them. To satisfy a fit of lust, he wouldn’t be bad. But love? Please.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Nervous? Me? Ha.

I’ll admit that Lusielle gave me a few surprises along the way. She ended up being stronger, more skilled and resilient that I had anticipated. Perhaps I should have taken care of her early on, when I killed her mother. Lusielle’s wits turned out to be more impressive than most, certainly more impressive than the cursed Lord of Laonia.

He was all brawn, wrath and desperation, easy to tease, mock and mislead, until he found Lusielle and, together, they tried to defeat my curse. Fools. She gave him hope. Hope is another disgusting emotion, a dangerous delusion. Have I told you how much I relish tearing people’s hopes to shreds? It’s extraordinarily fun. You ought to try it sometime. But I’m getting off point. You need to know: Regardless of how the story ended, my curse prevailed and that’s the true measure of my power and strength.

If you had to trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I wouldn’t want to be Brennus, Lord of Laonia, because if I were him, I wouldn’t have him to torture, would I? Also, I treasured the man’s hatred for me. Like I said in the book, loathing, hatred and revulsion are thrilling, satisfying emotions worth living with and for. I cherished the Lord of Laonia as my enemy because he refused to forget and forgive. He knew that I was dangerous and would always remain so. He was a creature after my own heart and I will forever relish the scent of his scarred soul.

How do you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away?

Doomed and damned are the souls of the cursed. Useless are their struggles.  I’m the curse giver and you, you will always be my prey.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

Embrace the wickedness within and you will find me; relish it and you will understand me.

Thank you for this interview, curse giver Jalenia.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Perhaps if The Soul Chaser has a story to tell, I’ll be in it, for cursed souls rarely live for long and the soul chaser must come.

Purchase The Curse Giver on AMAZON


Dora Tapestry 2 June 2013 (480x640)Dora Machado is the award winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books July 2013. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website or contact her at

Subscribe to her blog at, sign up for her newsletter at and follow her onFacebook and Twitter.

Book Review: Blood Moon, by Alexandra Sokoloff


Blood Moon.jpg 250 x 375

Book Description

Book II of the Huntress/FBI Thrillers

Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace.

The haunted child who was the only surviving victim of his rampage is now wanted by the FBI for brutal crimes of her own, and Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt for her, despite his conflicted sympathies for her history and motives.

But when his search for her unearths evidence of new family slayings, the dangerous woman Roarke seeks – and wants – may be his only hope of preventing another bloodbath.


Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon DE

My thoughts…

This novel was a hell of a ride. Sokoloff has a gift for creating engrossing plots and heart-racing thrillers. I read the first book in the series, Huntress Moon, and although I loved that first instalment, this second one was even better.

First of all, the whole thing about the female serial killer–actually, a vigilante–is quite compelling, especially because our protagonist, Roarke, develops torn, conflicting feelings toward her. And we can’t help but do the same! Sokoloff has done her research well and she incorporates lots of information about the mind of the serial killer. She does this skillfully, however, without including long information dumps like some other authors do. Roarke is a sympathetic hero with a high sense of honor and justice. There are lots of twists and turns, yet the story evolves organically, with the right balance of quiet moments between the thrills. Lots of atmosphere, lots of interesting setups.

If you haven’t read Sokoloff’s novels yet, I highly recommend you do. She’s one of my favorite authors these days and her stories never disappoint. One more thing, although Moon Blood is the 2nd one in the series, it holds well as a stand-alone book, as the author incorporates bits of backstory here and there to quickly draw readers right into the central plot of the series. In sum, if you’re a fan of suspense and thrillers, I strongly recommend you pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

Read my interview with Alexandra Sokoloff HERE.

Book Review: Wasp’s Nest by Gabriel Valjan

In this the second installment of his Roma series, author Gabriel Valjan takes secret government analyst Alabaster Black from Rome to Boston to investigate Nasonia Pharmaceutical and its CEO, Cyril Sargent for Rendition, the covert government agency she works for.

Nasonia uses advanced molecular biology and genetic sequencing technology to target human diseases. Sargent, who’s demonstrated lack of transparency in his dealings and unorthodox strategies in the past and who’s named his new controversial venture after a group of wasps, claims that his company is in no way perverting the natural order of things or doing anything unethical. He also claims that his research with wasps might lead to developing a methyl toolkit to use against cancer.

Thus, it is up to Alabaster to figure out what’s really going on and, because of her unnatural pattern recognition ability, she she soon gets hired by Sargent.

While this is going on, Alabaster is still being haunted by her last adventure in Rome in the form of a Bulgarian hit man set on killing her after a price has been put on her head. Old friends and a love interest from book I join in, adding further tension to the story as they uncover a twisted conspiracy.

I really enjoyed reading Wasp’s Nest. In fact, I liked this book better than the first one. Somehow, I was able to feel closer to Alabaster: she’s smart, bold and fearless yet has a soft side that is at times humorous. But mainly, I think it was the whole idea about DNA and wasps that did it for me. The information was fascinating. As Valjan did with Rome in his first book, Boston is fleshed out in vivid detail in this one, to the point where the setting becomes almost like a character. Also, as in the first book, the author goes into detail bringing Italian food to life–to the point where the reader has no other option but to love it. In short, an interesting, entertaining read. Recommended.

Read my interview with the author.

Purchase links:
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble Paperback
Kindle / Nook

This review originally appeared in Blogcritics.

Interview & Review: SEVERED THREADS, by Kaylin McFarren

Please welcome my special guest, romantic suspense author Kaylin McFarren. I recently had the chance to read and review her latest novel, Severed Threads, and I have to say it is an entertaining, thrilling read. Kaylin was generous enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions about her book and her writing. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview!

About the author

A native of California, Kaylin McFarren has traveled around the world and is now settled in Oregon.

As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in developing the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to unleash and develop her own creativity, she has since channeled her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest. She is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers.

Thanks for this interview, Kaylin! Do you consider yourself a born writer?

Definitely. Since the age of eight, I’ve loved to write stories and have been filled with an active imagination.

What compelled you to start writing professionally?

Like many authors, I was originally inspired to write my first novel after reading a great book and seeing an amazing movie. Mine happened to be Memoirs of a Geisha and The Notebook, which will always be my favourites.

Severed Threads is full of romance, suspense and danger. What was the most challenging aspect of writing this romantic thriller?

The most difficult task to writing a suspense story is to keep the action moving while revealing character traits and emotions along the way. Severed Threads contains an array of characters and each serve their purpose in revealing a twisting and turning plot that ultimately leads to a pleasant resolve. However, keeping the voices of each person unique also proved to be a challenge.

Tell us something about your hero and heroine that my readers won’t be able to resist.

Chase Cohen is a handsome, womanizing, thrill-seeking treasure hunter who has found his greatest challenge and true love in Rachel Lyons. But she doesn’t trust Chase for good reasons and won’t be easy to win matter how hard he tries.

What did you find most fascinating while researching underwater archaeology and ancient Chinese treasures?

I had no idea how much gold had been lost at sea. According to Greg Stemm, co-founder and co-chairman of Odyssey, there’s billions of dollars scattered beneath the ocean. However, much of the ocean floor is unexplored and unmapped and global imaging shows crushing depths ranging up to six miles. And there could even be gold or diamond mines that far surpass what anyone on earth could imagine. Since trade included priceless collectibles and dishware from China as well as gold and silver, these were lost along with ships that sank during storms and battles hundreds of years ago and many will never be least not in our lifetime.

How long did it take you to write the novel and did you work from an outline?

It took me close to two years to write Severed Threads. This included the time needed to research details and edit my final manuscript. I typically create a synopsis and then write by the seat of my pants. I’m not big on storyboards and planning, as I’m too anxious to get my stories on paper.

What was the editing process like?

Although I tend to edit as I go, I eventually asked three published authors and two experienced readers to assist with my initial editing before hiring a professional editor to review my manuscript. After taking all of their advice into consideration, I fine-tuned my writing and sent it in for publication, hoping I’d done my best in creating a fast-paced, entertaining tale.

What advice would you give to first-time novelists who are just starting to market their books?

Spend a little extra time in researching your options. If you chose to approach a publishing house, be sure the agents you contact are experienced in your genre and have a great track record. If you decide to self-publish, be prepared to spend a little extra money and time in promoting your titles as well as yourself.

What’s on the horizon for Kaylin McFarren?

I’m currently completing the second book in the Threads series – Buried Threads – and will be following this with a third – Banished Threads. I’ve enjoyed my characters so much in my first installment that I decided to take them on adventures around the world and have been urged to do so by readers who follow my stories.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

Keep reading and if you enjoy the work created by an author, be sure to let them know. Your praise and support encourages every author to write!

Thanks, Kaylin!

Find out more about Severed Threads on Amazon.

View the original article on



ImageThe story opens during a diving salvage operation with experienced divers and treasure hunters Sam Lyons and Chase Cohen. Though they’re working on the Griffith wreckage, Sam believes the site also contains the wreckage of none other than the Wanli II—the Ming Dynasty Emperor’s lost dragon ship containing an ancient figure head, a fierce dragon in gold leaf and preserved in resin for all posterity—the gift Mai Le intended for her lover.

Unexpectedly, however, things turn bad for Sam while he’s underwater: he suffers cardiac arrest for no apparent reason. Indeed, the circumstances surrounding his death appear more than a little mysterious.

Chase, who had loved him like a father, feels responsible and doesn’t know what to make of it. Did something malfunction or did something scare Sam down there? He’d been an experienced diver with over 20 years of experience under his belt. What had Chase missed? Sam was the only man Chase had allowed himself to trust. He and his daughter Rachel were the only two people he really cared for. But now all had changed: Sam was dead, and Rachel would forever blame him for his death.

Move four years forward. Rachel Lyons, Sam’s Daughter, is working at a grant foundation. All is pretty quiet and routine in her life…until she’s approached by a museum director asking for a grant to conduct another diving salvage operation, run by none other than Chase’s Trident Ventures.

Though Rachel has no intention of helping Chase, Chase is set on convincing her. Since the operation focuses on discovering the Wanli II, if they succeed, her father would receive his long overdue reward and the museum would fund a permanent exhibition to honor his memory.

Yet, Rachel is still hesitant. Then, a twist of fate puts Rachel’s brother in danger, forcing her to change her mind about funding Chase’s project.  Chase is more than suspicious about her sudden change of heart, but he isn’t about to say no to this opportunity which could help him leave his mark upon the world as a renowned treasure hunter.

Thus, she grants him the money and insists on joining the underwater expedition. Can she put aside pride and work with Chase on a daily basis?

Severed Threads is an engaging, entertaining read! I’ve always enjoyed stories about lost treasures and underwater archaeology and this one didn’t disappoint. The hero and heroine are realistic and sympathetic and there’s a sizzling chemistry between them. The plot is believable with a fair share of exciting twists and turns. I found the workings of a grant foundation and a diving salvage operation quite interesting and informative. Pacing is fairly quick with a nice balance of action, dialogue, description and the inner thoughts of the characters.

In short, Severed Threads is an exciting novel featuring danger in the high seas, romance, action and adventure, murder, and even a sprinkle of the paranormal for good measure. Recommended.

Purchase from Amazon.

Visit Kaylin McFarren’s website.


Beyond the Books with Maryann Paige, Author of Hidden Shadows

Maryann Paige was born in Brooklyn, New York, lived in Nevada and Texas and landed back in her home state.   She resides in the beautiful Hudson Valley and uses the area as the setting for her novels and stories. She attributes the idea for her first novel, Hidden Shadows to her younger son, who claims to have met the shadow people on a nightly basis.  After researching and learning of them, she decided to write a novel loosely based on her son’s experiences.  Please visit Maryann at to find out about her latest novel, Cemetery Gates.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Maryann Paige.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

A: Hidden Shadows was my first novel.  I have also released my second novel entitled, Cemetery Gates.

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

A: The first book I had ever written was called They are Here, a science-fiction attempt, and something I would never try to bring to publication.  I was eleven years-old and had a bit of an obsession with the mysteries surrounding the Egyptian pyramids.  One can easily tell it’s a book written by a child.  It remains at the bottom of my junk drawer, exactly where it belongs.

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

A: Hidden Shadows received close to eight rejections prior to making a sale.  It’s a cumbersome task because many publishing houses do not allow simultaneous submissions, so one presents their work and waits.  The time frame between penning the novel and publication of Hidden Shadows was about eighteen months.

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

A: The rejections didn’t feel good.  Unfortunately, the publishing houses are so busy; they are unable to give any suggestions or tell a new writer where they have gone wrong.  However, I was determined and kept submitting my manuscript.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

A: Hidden Shadows was published by Club Lighthouse Publishing whom carries an array of all genres from erotica to horror.  Terri L. Balmer and her staff are amazing people and perfect for new writers.  I decided to go with CLP because Terri was responsive, professional and supportive.

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

A: When I heard the news of be offered a contract by CLP for Hidden Shadows, I had burst out of my office at work, and jumped up and down.  It was very exciting.  I went home that evening and starting writing my third novel, Wolf Strap.

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

A: The first thing I did to promote Hidden Shadows was to made flyers and put them all over my town, trying to drum up some interest in the book.  I think it was successful, too.  Anytime, I went into my favorite deli, the owner kept asking me for more leaflets.

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

A: If I had it to do over, no, I would not choose another outlet.  CLP took a frustrating situation and turned it around for me.  I loved the individual attention I received, although I’m a new author.

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

A: Oh, yes, I have grown as a writer.  Cemetery Gates has been released and I’m working on other novels, too.  I’m currently editing on my third novel, Wolf Strap, and can see how much I’ve grown as a writer.  It becomes easier to see your own mistakes, those wonderful grammatical errors, and where you need to slow down or speed things up within the story.

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up?  What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

A: If I had it to do over, I would have done more research on the publishing industry.  I had always focused only on the writing part.  If I would have had a better understand of the semantics of the industry, I would have known what to expect and that would have made it less frustrating.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

A: The biggest accomplishment for me since being published has been receiving a positive review from Bitten by BooksHidden Shadows received 4 out of 5 tombstones. The reviewer said she enjoyed the story, empathized with the characters and wanted more.  She also offered a critique on what she thought may have been a problem within the novel.  I welcomed it and have taken it into consideration for my future projects.

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

A: Writing is not how I’ve made my living over the past years.  Professionally, I have been a manager in corporate America for an import company.  I would love to hang up my business suit to write full-time, and am hoping someday I may be given that opportunity.  My business background has helped me in the writing profession.  Writing is so much more than penning a good story.  It’s a business and needs to be approached as such.  There is marketing, sales, art work decisions and many other things involved in each project.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

A: As my future as a writer progresses, I would love to eventually become involved in film.  I can see Hidden Shadows as a scary and interesting movie playing on Saturday night on the Horror or SyFy Channels.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

A: My final word to other writers is to believe in you.  Take your passion and keep writing.  Don’t let a day go by where you forget your dream.  And, today there are more opportunities than ever before to become published and get noticed.  The electronic age we live in makes all of this possible.  Keep up the good work!

Beyond the Books with Chris DeBrie – Author of Shakespeare Ashes

Shakespeare AshesChris DeBrie wrote all of his books, including this year’s Shakespeare Ashes, between shifts at a grocery. He lists Judy Blume and Eduardo Galeano as a few of his literary influences. DeBrie lives in Virginia.

Wash Your Hands Productions


Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Chris. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

A: Shakespeare Ashes is my third novel.

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

A: As Is was first published in 1999.

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

A: I submitted queries for As Is to about a dozen publishers and agents. I still have a few of the photocopied rejection slips as a dose of motivation. Only one agent answered positively. She called me to say she liked the story. But after a few months during which she said she was shopping the book, she asked for money to continue the search for a publisher. At the time I couldn’t afford her fee, which was probably good, as I later found out that most reputable book agents don’t ask for money up front–they take their cut once they’ve opened a few doors for the writer. I later saw her agency’s name on a ‘warning/avoid’ list online. So my ignorance and poverty at the time actually helped. Who knew?

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

A: Even when I was a teenager, already writing and planning, I had an intuition that my style of writing wasn’t going to get past the literary gatekeepers. Not unless I had some success on my own. That was some years before print-on-demand and the internet, so I am blessed that I came along at this time. It’s now possible for one person to create and promote books, music, or anything. You can find a way to spread the word and distribute your creation, and keep a measure of control.

We got a glimpse of what’s to come, with the music industry a few years ago–file sharing changed everything, and they’re still scrambling for new business models. A version of this is happening in every industry.

So the rejections from the big boys didn’t really hurt; I knew even then that, to a New York editor, I was just one more unagented wanna-be in the slush pile.

I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

A: As Is was first published by Infinity, a company that has been utilizing POD since about 1997. I compared several publishers and, all things considered, Infinity’s combination of price, extras, control and book quality seemed a cut above. For some reason, I thought that having the same title under different POD publishers would make it available in more places, so I then put it out under a different publisher a year later. But in 2007 I made it available exclusively from Infinity. Just to keep things simple.

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

A: That first book was published just so I could hold it in my hands, originally… The writing itself, I celebrate after a book is done, because I know what it took. But otherwise, I won’t celebrate until I achieve the success I’m after. I’ll know the day.

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

A: With As Is and Selective Focus, I didn’t promote at all. This was another of the ideas I had as a teenager–that I wanted to have the beginnings of my own library before I really pushed myself out there. Artists of all stripes get judged by a first work. I wanted to be that guy who was already a vet by the time he was really noticed.

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

A: That implies I have a choice in the do-over, in which case I naturally would choose a mainstream, well-connected publisher. POD and self-publishing still have the stigma of lesser quality, usually for good reason, and so a big hunk of reviewers and book sellers just won’t touch anything in that category. I can’t change that alone, but I can make sure that my books are as well-written and as eye-pleasing as anything at Barnes & Noble.

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

A: All of my books were done through POD. I’m harder on my stuff than most anyone. I am never ‘finished’… The growth as a writer simply parallels my growth as a person.

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up?  What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

A: I might have researched the industry more thoroughly. I was all about the stories for so long, and learning more about agents, book companies, and so on may have helped in my query letters.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

A: Still waiting for that one.

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

A: If I wasn’t a writer, I would have liked to be one of the best pro athletes on the planet. That, or Batman.

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

A: I wouldn’t trade my mind and life for anything at this point.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

A: As good as I think my imagination is, I rarely imagine my own future. Planning what I want for dinner tonight will probably change.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

A: If you can’t step outside of what you’ve written and become a reader again; if you find yourself skimming through your story edits; if your own writing doesn’t grab you… then keep trying, because people seem to know whether you care. Find a few book lovers that you trust to read your stuff. It helps if they’re honest to a fault. And it’s a cliche, but edit, edit, edit… Put the story away for a few days or weeks, rinse, and repeat.

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