Beyond the Books

DARK SPIRAL DOWN: Michael Houtz on Writing, Publishing, & Promotion

After a career in medicine, Mike Houtz succumbed to the call to hang up his stethoscope and pursue his other passion as a writer of fast-paced thrillers. A rabid fan of authors such as Clancy, Mark Greaney, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor, Mike loves series writing with strong characters, fast pacing and international locations, all of which explode into action in his debut novel, a 2017 Zebulon Award winner. When not at the keyboard, he can be found on the firing range, traveling for research across the globe, or trying out the latest dry-fly pattern on a Gold Medal trout stream.

He lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

His latest book is the thriller/international/action novel, Dark Spiral Down.

Website: www.mikehoutz.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelhoutz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.mikehoutz/

https://www.facebook.com/mike.houtz.77

About the Book:

COLE HAUFNER is a reluctant superstar in the professional mixed martial arts world. After his latest fight, his wife and child perish in a car crash. His grief deepens when his brother, BUTCH, a Delta Force operator, is absent from the funeral and reported missing by two furtive strangers who show up unannounced at the burial. Despairing, and acting on a tip, Cole travels to his childhood home in southeast China, looking for his brother.

Butch and his teammate, HAMMER, are the sole American survivors of a gun battle between their unit and North Korean commandos, both sides fighting over possession of a stolen suitcase containing a miniaturized fusion device that could either provide unlimited clean energy or be converted to an undetectable bomb seven times more powerful than a nuclear explosion. Leading the North Koreans is the sociopath, Commander PARK. Pressed into helping the Koreans is a disgraced former CIA operative, BARRETT JENNINGS.

Cole meets with the uncle who raised him, MASTER LI, and is warned to stop his search for Butch. Barrett discovers Cole’s identity (with the help of a genius computer hacker, LILLY), which opens a twenty-year-old wound when Barrett was blamed for the disappearance of Cole’s father, along with the man’s invention. Barrett enlists the 14K organized crime syndicate to help capture Cole. Hammer, separated from Butch during the fight for the device, thwarts the gang’s attempt to kidnap Cole, and the two then set off to find Butch and the device. All parties converge on the city library where Butch, now disguised as a monk, is attempting to communicate with the Pentagon. Barrett and Park capture Butch, while the 14K gang nabs Cole.

Danger mounts as Chinese authorities begin investigating foul play within their borders. Cole fights his way free of the gang and reunites with Hammer.  Both men find Barrett’s apartment and discover Lilly (the man’s stepdaughter), who divulges Barrett’s identity and plan. Cole clashes with Hammer, who is willing to sacrifice Butch in order to recover the fusion device. Lilly offers her help in exchange for her and Barrett’s rescue from Park’s grip. Meanwhile, Barrett discovers the true nature of the case the North Koreans are pursuing and, sensing he and Lilly are to be assassinated by Park once he has the device, frees Butch. Butch, trusting Barrett was sent to rescue him, leads the turncoat to the site where he hid the device. Barrett, hoping to make a quick fortune selling it, shoots Butch before escaping with the case.

Cole, along with Hammer and Lilly, arrives at the location of Butch and finds him gravely wounded. Butch fingers Barrett for shooting him and for stealing the case. Cole wants only to save his brother but Butch makes him promise to kill Barrett and recover their dad’s invention. The revelation that the device is his father’s scientific discovery propels Cole forward to fulfill his brother’s mission. Cole is forced to abandon Butch at a hospital. Cole pursues Barrett to a remote dock where the ex-CIA man is planning to escape China by boat. With the Chinese military now actively looking for Cole, Cole confronts Barrett and Park sparking a gunfight. Barrett kills Park. As Barrett turns the gun on Cole, Hammer kills Barrett. Cole, Hammer and Lilly escape via the boat, and the fusion device is safely returned.

Readers Love Michael Houtz!

“If you’re in the market for a fast paced, action filled, page-turning thriller, Mike Houtz delivers a must-read novel. I highly recommend this emotional rollercoaster of a book for every die-hard thriller reader…Get it ASAP!”

~Lima Charlie Review

~*~

“…this work proves that author Houtz is undoubtedly a rising star in the publishing world.”

~Andrea Brunais, Author

~*~

“Mike Houtz takes us on fast-pace adventure in Dark Spiral Down, a thrilling ride along the border between China and North Korea, where Cole Haufner is in pursuit of his Delta Force brother and a device that has the potential to change the world forever or destroy it.”

~Dan Grant, Author

~*~

Dark Spiral Down is a phenomenal debut novel by Mike Houtz. This book has everything readers of the genre love: a great plot, memorable characters, and a powerful voice. It’s a must-read!”

~Ammar Habib, Bestselling & Award-Winning Author, Editor-in-Chief of Thriller Magazine

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

https://amzn.to/2UpXJmK

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

Great to be here! This is my first full-length book. I’d had a few smallish

Shorth stories in tiny, obscure fanzines published many moons ago. This is my first, hopefully of many, professional releases.

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

I’m with The Wild Rose Press, a small/medium New York traditional publisher.

Originally, I’d written the book as a self-publish title because I was working on a medical thriller intended for a Big 5 agency. Along the way, I’d won an award for my current book and received an offer for it to go the more traditional route. Definitely unexpected but a good way to go. I felt comfortable with them because of the excellent communication along the entire process.

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

I signed a contract in Febr of 2018 and am hitting the market with full release in May 2019. I’d always assumed it would take at least 12 months or more on my first title, and I wasn’t surprised.

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

I was thrilled! I felt one step closer to joining the ranks of people I’d read my entire adult life. I have a really long way to go but that first step was such a joy. The validation that people saw my work as worth investing in, and reading, made all that early writing worth the struggle. I think it was a (couple) of beers and a Hibachi dinner with the family.

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

I’d had a number of media campaigns going into the leadup of the release. Signed book giveaways, interviews, book reviews, the list seemed endless. My first big outing was a speaking engagement with the first writers group I’d ever attended back when I first starting looking into pursuing writing as more than just a little hobby. I traveled back to Las Vegas to meet with the wonderful people at the Las Vegas Writers Group. It was so odd being the center of the discussion and not in the audience listening to someone I wanted to become.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Certainly, I have a bit more confidence in what I’m doing. Before publication, there’s always a part of you wondering if you can do this sort of thing. Conversely, I have this newfound sensation I need to improve upon myself because I have this obligation to my publisher and new audience. I can’t rest on what I’ve done. There is always a push in the medical field for continuous improvement, and I feel that same obligation in writing. I guess I learned something valuable along the way.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I don’t know if I’m surprised, but the glacial pace of the industry is something I hadn’t seen when practicing medicine. I may have made dozens, if not hundreds, of decision, some as fast as a few seconds, that could make the difference in another human’s life. Let’s just say that’s no longer the case in my life. I am amazed at the support within the writing industry. By and large, everyone I’ve worked with or come into contact with are genuinely nice people—another refreshing change.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

The support from people who’ve read my book is mind blowing. Total strangers excited about the story line and their willingness to give shout-outs to others has been a tremendous reward. The interaction with someone who is now a fan of my work always fills my heart with gratitude. I want to keep providing those folks with that same enjoyment. It’s very motivating.

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

It’s the same message I heard before and am now passing on—the only difference between a published author and those that haven’t is that the published author never quit. Be prepared to commit to the process and not just give lip service. Understand it can take years, and you WILL make it. Never quit!

 

 

Encounters Virtual Book Publicity Tour & $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

ENCOUNTERS by Patrick Stull

Title: ENCOUNTERS
Author: Patrick Stull
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 250
Genre: Fine Art Photography Book

 

 

With photography at its base, Stull offers a nuanced explication of his encounters to allow the viewer an opportunity to form a relationship with his art. While looking within ourselves, exploring our own feelings, he hopes that he will inspire greater humaneness in response to his art.ENCOUNTERS is the second in a series of six large-format books in which artist, photographer and author, Patrick Stull explores a wide range of experiences. Using light and the physical body, the written word and his artistry he creates imagery that examines aspects of the lives of women.

Compiled over the last 18 years, the images in ENCOUNTERS, Stull says, are meant to “inspire and challenge the observer while always empowering the subject.”

Stull brings a powerful sense of the surreal and the spiritual to his work as he plots a course along the many paths of the human experience.

His imagery runs from the ghostly and ephemeral to the flowing and
fiery.

As much as he concentrates on the human form, Stull never forgets to focus on the humanity of his subjects. His choice of the coffee-table style book format draws the viewer into an experience both intimate and
universal.

Stull’s first book in his series, titled EVOLVE, was published in 2006. A third book, titled HIDDEN DIMENSIONS, is completed and awaiting publication. Future titles in the series include DHARMA, BEING DIFFERENT, and YOGA, A HEALING MOMENT.

Stull hopes that his readers come away from the book with “a love for art and a respect for the female who gives us life and challenges us to be better human beings.

 

https://patrickstull.com/books-2/encounters
 

______________________

 

Encounters
is a collection of imagery created and compiled over the last 15 years to
inspire and challenge the observer while always empowering the subject. The
imagery is coupled with text, odes and perspectives about the human experience
and existence itself. The imagery is mostly an explication, an intimate view of
the lives of women and our relationship to them – on an individual and cultural
level. However, there are images of men included in this work. A portion of the
portfolio presents something more than a photographic image. Here the imagery
is developed into contemplative art pieces of the surreal genre, where the
viewer is transported into the depths of their own psyche challenging them to
see something new.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

American artist Patrick Stull has spent the last eighteen years mostly creating imagery about the lives of women. He searches for what lies beneath the surface of his subjects, empowering each one he encounters. He has recently ventured into the realm of surrealism, creating powerful imagery that reflects on our humanity
while dealing with the meaning and power of art.
Stull say’s, “My work has allowed me to venture past the camera into the realm of a humanist, an artistic life, delving into the intellectual, a more cerebral life experience, creating what I call ‘connectivism.'”
His ongoing work is based in large-scale digital photography accompanied by sculpture/body casts, composition art, painting, poetry/prose and drawings.
His art is then integrated, collectively, into exhibitions to provide the viewer a once in a lifetime experience. The presentation of the work is delivered to the viewer in a unique and emotionally powerful way.
Stull, 71, a self-taught artist, works in many artistic disciplines. Educated at San Diego State University
with degrees in psychology, economics and philosophy during the 1960’s, amidst the backdrop of the counter-culture revolution and the Viet Nam War, where his social consciousness and political views were shaped. Stull emerged from a Catholic Irish/German family, one of five children where work, discipline and religion took precedence over emotional expressions of the self – a differentkind of loving environment. Being a husband of thirty-plus years and father to two has taught him the power of kindness, love and commitment.

His latest book is the fine art photography book, Encounters.

 

Visit his website at www.patrickstull.com.
_____________________

GIVEAWAY!


50 Amazon Gift card
 

Patrick Stull is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Amazon Gift Card.
  • This giveaway ends midnight August 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on September 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

 

Review: From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth, by Jean Paulynice

From-idea-to-reality-FRONT-CoverTitle: From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth

Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA

Publisher: PAULYNICE CONSULTING GROUP, LLC

Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM

Website: https://www.jeanpaulpaulynice.com/

Genre: Self-help/Inspirational

Publication Date: June 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-1-0   (Hardback)    $19.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-2-7   (Paperback)  $14.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-7-2   (eBook)         $7.99

Find out more on Amazon.

Jean Paulynice draws from personal experience, revealing the secrets he shares with clients and provides you with essential information as if he were your own personal coach guiding you along the way.

By using this workbook, which has ample space for notes, you’ll be able to brainstorm, self reflect, and develop a plan/strategy, as well as become aware of not only your strengths but also your weaknesses and obstacles. In addition, you’ll be able to join a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Written in an engaging, conversational style, “From Idea to Reality” will help push you forward and gather momentum, improving your chances of discovering and fulfilling your true potential and increasing your chance of success. No matter your type of entrepreneurship, this book will be helpful if you’re starting out or would like to take your business to the next level.

 

 

Author Interviews: Laura Simmons, Author of Tough Karma: A Race Against Time

Laura Simmons grew up in northern Virginia and spent most of her career working for various Department of Defense contractors in the Washington, DC area. She has a fascination with all things metaphysical. She enjoys writing, jigsaw puzzles, adult coloring books, vacationing at the beach with her husband, and studying tarot cards and other types of divination systems.

Website:  http://www.littlebitsofkarma.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LauraSimmons37

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thekarmaseries

About the Book:

BOOK BLURB:

Astral travel and a deadly secret make for a gripping paranormal romance from start to finish.

Amber Macklin’s world is cruelly shattered when she loses her baby girl three months after her husband’s sudden death. Her cousin, Bryce, comes to her rescue, moving her into his home for fear she will kill herself from the grief. He provides solace and a shoulder to cry on, and he has loved her as more than a cousin for a long time. Amber and Bryce soon discover they are not blood relatives, which opens the door for romance as he pulls her through her darkest hours. When Mike, a college friend of Bryce’s, stops by to visit, Amber senses a deadly secret behind his nice guy persona. She has a frightening dream that Mike is trying to kill her and recurring sleepwalking episodes where she draws detailed pictures of him torturing her. Deeply troubled, Bryce uses his ability to astral travel to investigate Mike and uncover his terrifying past. Mike has had his eye on Amber for some time, and when he learns that Bryce and Amber have become lovers, he is furious. Mike abducts Amber and takes her to his rural Georgia hideaway, and Bryce must rely on his astral abilities to track her down. But will he be too late?

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Tough-Karma-Race-Against-Time-ebook/dp/B01NCWLQBK

Barnes & Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tough-karma-laura-simmons/1125444644?ean=2940157291990

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

I am multi-published.

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

My first book was published with a vanity press, Outskirts Press. I had a good experience with that company, so I published my next two books with them.  I chose this route because I work a full-time job and don’t have the energy or time to do everything myself. I like to save my free time for writing and marketing.

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

It took about two months from the time I signed until I had a finished product.

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

I was excited and terrified of what people would think of my book. I didn’t do anything to celebrate other than let my friends and family know that my book was available to purchase.

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

I sent out copies to bloggers who expressed an interest in reading my book for an honest review.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

As a writer, I think I have become much better at creating tension and suspense, and I am more aware of when I am dragging out a chapter or scene. I want my books to be page-turners with few dull moments. Although, each reader has their own preferences and all I can do is my best and hope that the majority of people who read my stories enjoy them.  Before I became a published author I could barely use Facebook, and Twitter intimidated me with all of those hashtags. Now I’m comfortable using both of them and have recently figured out how to use Pinterest. I think I’ve come a long way!

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

When I started this journey I didn’t know how time consuming marketing my books would be, or how long it would take to receive reviews. That has been the biggest issue for me. As far as the publishing industry as a whole, I’m delighted that there are so many opportunities now for indie authors to publish their stories. It makes selling a book more competitive but at the same time, there are so many unique and different stories to enjoy reading.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author? 

To me the most rewarding thing is when I receive a review where the reader loved my story and can’t wait for the next one.

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

Make sure you have your work professionally proofread or edited, and it is also a good idea to find some beta readers to give you feedback on your story before you publish it.

 

 

 

 

Review: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery, by Jean Paul Paulynice

START-LIVING

Title: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery

Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA

Publisher: PAULYNICE CONSULTING GROUP, LLC

Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM

Website: https://www.jeanpaulpaulynice.com/

Non-Fiction

Genre: Self-help/Inspirational

Publication Date: May 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-9-6 (Hardback)      $16.99

ISBN: 978-1-7335601-9-1 (Paperback)    $9.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-0-3 (eBook)           $3.99

ISBN: 978-1-7335601-2-2 (Audiobook)   $3.95

 

Do you feel as though you’re on autopilot, going through the motions every day—wake up, go to work, come back home, have dinner, sleep, repeat—without real meaning, depth, and purpose in your life?

 

Even if you have a fulfilling job and earn a good salary, that doesn’t mean you’ve found your passion in life. The problem is, finding your passion can be elusive, especially in our present society where we are constantly seeking external validation from others and are being judged in public platforms more than ever (i.e. social media). Perhaps the wisest statement in this book is that “the moment you start to listen to yourself, you can start shutting out all the noise.” This little book is all about soul-searching, self-analysis, and reflection. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and seek out your passions. Sometimes you have to change your mindset and shift your perspective about things in order for transformation and growth to take place. Likewise, it’s also about the choices you make, not so much the major ones but the little ones you make on a daily basis.

 

In his light, honest, and engaging prose, Jean Paul Paulynice encourages you to do some introspection so you can begin your path toward finding your passion and bliss in life. For those who journal, the reflection questions he asks make very good journaling prompts. A very quick read, under fifty pages, It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! is a little morsel of goodness and wisdom that will help on your journey to self-discovery.

 

 

 

 

Author Interviews: David H. Reiss, Author of Fid’s Crusade

While growing up, David H. Reiss was that weird kid with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He was the table-top role-playing game geek, the comic-book nerd, the story-teller and dreamer.

Fortunately, he hasn’t changed much.

David is a software engineer by trade and a long-time sci-fi and fantasy devotee by passion, and he lives in Silicon Valley with his partner of twenty-six years. Until recently, he also shared his life with a disturbingly spoiled cat named Freya.

(Farewell, little huntress. You were loved. You are missed.)

David’s first book, Fid’s Crusade, has just recently been published; this was his first novel-length project, but it certainly won’t be his last—he’s having far too much fun!

Website Link: https://www.davidhreiss.com

Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/davidhreiss

Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/davidhreiss

BOOK BLURB:

Consumed by grief, rage, and self-loathing, a brilliant inventor rebuilt himself to take on a new identity: the powered-armor-wearing supervillain, Doctor Fid. For twenty violent years, Fid has continued his quest to punish heroes who he considers to be unworthy of their accolades, and the Doctor has left a long trail of blood and misery in his wake. After a personal tragedy, however, Doctor Fid investigates a crime and uncovers a conspiracy so terrible that even he is taken aback.

Haunted by painful memories and profound guilt, the veteran supervillain must risk everything to save the world that he once sought to terrorize. Every battle takes its toll…but the stakes are too high for retreat to be an option.

In the end, it may take a villain to save the entire Earth from those entrusted with the Earth’s protection.

Praise:

Fid’s Crusade by David H. Reiss is one of the most refreshing and lively takes on the superhero genre I’ve seen in years. His title character’s crusade is colorful, compelling, and takes wonderfully unexpected turns, and the novel delivers an impressive emotional punch (to go along with the super-powered ones). It stands easily alongside other character-driven superhero novels like Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, Carrie Vaughn’s After the Golden Age, and Paul Tobin’s Prepare to Die!.” – Hugo award-winning author Tim Pratt

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C92PMDH

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

I’ve been writing for most of my life, but Fid’s Crusade was my first published novel; I’ve since published two more books in the series.

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

I originally intended to go the mainstream traditional publishing route and had begun the process of seeking representation from a literary agent, but I eventually decided to self-publish instead.

There were several reasons for that choice. For one thing, I’d come to realize that my novel was within a sub-genre that didn’t seem to be getting much attention from the Big Five publishers. For another…I wanted to have printed copies of the novel in time for my Grandmother’s 100th birthday.

I’ve never regretted my decision.

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

Self-publishing is very quick; it only took a few days once I decided that I had all my files in order.

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

It felt simply extraordinary. Getting my first box of paperbacks delivered in the mail was a dream come true.

If I recall correctly, my housemates and I celebrated by going out for a stupidly expensive steak dinner.

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

I don’t regret my decision to self-publish, but I often lament the fact that I didn’t have a clear marketing strategy in mind before I started. I flailed about and didn’t really learn my way around advertising for quite a while.

One thing that I *did* do early on was to enter my novel in contests that accepted self-published works. Fid’s Crusade ended up being the winner in the “Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror” category of the 2018 Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize and was finalist under consideration for the annual grand prize.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’m always learning, both in improving my craft as a writer and in slowly learning how to market my works effectively as a self-published author. Getting feedback from my readers has helped me recognize my strengths and to identify aspects of my writing style that I need to work on.

I learned a lot from writing Fid’s Crusade and am proud that I’ve been able to take those lessons and move forward with new projects.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It seems remarkably naïve in retrospect, but I have to admit that I didn’t have the slightest clue as to the amount of effort that would be needed in order to market and advertise my novel effectively.  I’d had this image in my head that I would simply release my book into the wild and readers would stampede forward to read it.

That isn’t quite the way that it worked out. But I’m learning.

One thing that has amazed me is the remarkable communities of self-published authors that are dedicated towards helping each other succeed. I’ve found facebook groups that teach marketing strategies, resources to find beta readers, etc. It’s simply wonderful how many tremendously successful authors have turned around and tried to share the secrets of their success with their peers.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I love getting feedback from my readers. There is nothing quite like the knowledge that I was able to entertain a stranger, that I was able to touch their emotions and inspire them to dream with nothing more than words on a page.

Having fans is the most rewarding thing about being a published author.

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

Read a lot. Write a lot. And learn to cherish critics who are willing to tear your writing apart; you’ll learn more from one person who hates your work (and is willing to tell you why) than you will from a thousand people who love it.

 

Interview: Geoff Armstrong, Author of Moments That Made America

Geoff Armstrong began his teaching career in 1965 after receiving a teaching diploma from McGill University’s Macdonald College. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montreal’s Concordia University in 1967 where his major field of study was history. Armstrong credits writers such as Bruce Catton, and Thomas B. Costain, as well as the encouragement of his father who had little formal education, but a deep love of reading and of history, as the inspiration for his own life-long interest.

Throughout a 25-year teaching career he taught history at several grade levels and learned quickly that to reach the hearts of his students, history had to be made immediately and deeply relevant and accessible: that some event that took place centuries before those students were born had a direct and profound influence on every aspect their lives. He also learned that talking down or writing down to his students was a recipe for defeat. It is this awareness, shaped by a quarter century of teaching and countless questions by thousands of intelligent young people that has informed and shaped his writing.

His latest book is Moments That Made America: From the Ice Age to the Alamo.

You can visit his website at www.MomentsThatMadeAmerica.com.

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

This is the second time I’ve published a book. The first time was back in 2005 and it was self-published.

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

My first publishing venture was vanity or self-published. I chose the self-publishing route because I needed to get the book out of my system

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

It took about three months, but part of that time was taken up with indexing.

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

My first reaction to finding a “real” publisher rather than using the self-publishing route was elation. That feeling was followed quickly with the hope that my book would be enjoyed by readers. In didn’t really celebrate. I was a little overwhelmed/

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

I looked up ways that I could use the Internet to assist the publisher with promotion.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I have recognized and accepted the fact that I have a much bigger responsibility both to my publisher and to my readers to do my best writing.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

First is the enormous changes that I have witnessed over the years. Second has been the amazing competition that publishers and authors face. Today, anyone with a $15 a year domain name and a cheap website can sell their book even if it’s a really awful book.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

It’s a bit early to judge the full extent of what the rewards can be, but I have already seen the beginnings of what I would describe as the recognition that I have accomplished something that people only dream about. One thing, however, that I already know is that any possible financial reward is at the bottom of any list I might ever have contemplated.

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

Never give up. It took me 75 years.

About the Book:

From its geological birth during the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent millions of years ago, through the nation-shaping key events that led to its political independence from the British superpower, and other crucial, sometimes miraculous events that worked to create the nation, Moments That Made America: From the Ice Age to the Alamo explores those defining moments, both tragic and inspirational that profoundly shaped the nation and its people – crucial turning points that worked inexorably to mold and make America. These pivotal “tipping” events formed America’s geographical, sociological, political and historical landscape. Part 1 culminates with the discovery of gold in California and the role it played in fulfilling America’s dream of Manifest Destiny.

ORDER YOUR COPY AT AMAZON:

https://www.amazon.com/Moments-That-Made-America-Alamo/dp/1727864913/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1CS06XA8TTF0I&keywords=moment%27s+that+made+america&qid=1550640819&s=gateway&sprefix=Moments+That+Made+A%2Caps%2C212&sr=8-2

 

 

Character Interview: Darrell Henshaw from Randy Overbeck’s mystery/ghost novel ‘Blood on the Chesapeake’

character interviews logo We’re thrilled to have here today Darrell Henshaw from Randy Overbeck’s new ghost story/mystery, Blood on the Chesapeake.  Darrell is a 25-year-old high school teacher and coach originally from the Midwest, but currently living in Oxford, Maryland.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Darrell.  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?

Overall, the answer is yes. Dr. Overbeck seemed to capture me fairly well, though Dr. Overbeck could have gone with a little less about my OCD. I mean everyone has quirks, right? But that doesn’t mean, you have to expose them. Also, my life is more than ghost hunting, though I get it, that was what the story was about. I’m pleased Overbeck did a solid job of portraying my work with students, which is important to me. After all, I’m dedicating my life to serving them. Oh, and I really liked his description of my girl, Erin Caveny. He hit it out of the park with her.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently? Pretty much, I would answer yes. You notice, in the book, he didn’t describe me as one thing. I mean, after all, I’m a high school teacher and coach, though still a bit of a nerd. I’m also a ghost whisperer (I think I read one reviewer described me that way and I like the sound of it), even though that only gets me in trouble. I’m looking to mend a broken heart and fall in love with Erin. And, oh yeah, injustice really bothers me. I think Overbeck was able to capture these several facets of my life—okay, along with my OCD issues.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Readers might think it was my ghost hunting ability. I mean, how many people can see ghosts, much less have them communicate with you? But I think my best trait is that I care about the kids I serve, as a teacher and coach and beyond. As the story unfolded and I discovered what had happened to that poor student, Hank, my heart went out to him—even if he was already dead. Of course, I was out of my depth, but I felt compelled to do something to bring about justice for him and see that the people who had murdered him were punished.

Worse trait?

Without a doubt, my OCD. It’s always there but seems to flares up when I get nervous or overwhelmed. Sometimes—though I don’t admit this to many people—it can be so extreme that I’m paralyzed, sure that anything I do will lead to catastrophe. Early on, it got in the way of my dating Erin and, if I’m not careful, it can even leak into my work as a teacher and coach. I work on it all the time, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made so far.

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 don’t really like this question because it’s always hard to decide who could play me. I mean, will he get my OCD right and not go over the top with it? Can he convey my love of teaching and concern for the students correctly? With all that said, I think perhaps Logan Lehman or Nicolas Hoult could do me justice. Maybe, I can get Darrell to have the director hire me as a consultant.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Most certainly, though I didn’t expect to. Before I came to Oxford for the new job, I had been dumped at the altar, kinda. (You’ll have to read the book for the details.) Anyway, I’d sworn off women, but then I met Erin and this stunning redhead with emerald eyes knocked my socks off. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s smart as a whip and brave. It’s a good thing too, because I needed her by my side as I worked my way through the mystery. I don’t think I would have made it without her. Scratch that, I definitely would not have made it without her.

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

That’s easy. When I was friggin’ dumped overboard in rough seas in the middle of Chesapeake Bay and thought for sure I was going to drown, I definitely thought it was all over. Then…well, the readers will just have to see for themselves.

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?

Of course, that would have to be one of the antagonists, or in plain speak, the villains. Probably I’d least like to switch places with Williams. He represents most of what I can’t stand—privileged, moneyed (well, I could tolerate the money) and arrogant individual who believes he is superior to others around him. A person who believes his money and position even allows him to use those around him. I’d be incredibly uncomfortable inside his skin.

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

I couldn’t have written it better myself. The bad guys get what they deserve and I get the girl. Oh, wait, that’s a spoiler, isn’t it? Can you delete that?

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

I already know Dr. Overbeck is planning more adventures for me—he’s talked with me about them—so here goes. Give me a chance to enjoy teaching and coaching the kids I like to work with. Don’t overdo the OCD; I’m not some kind of geek. And if you have to include another ghost, could you make it a beautiful girl, instead of a huge, scary guy? I’m just saying.

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

I’ve learned from Dr. Overbeck that he plans to include me in at least two more novels in the series he’s calling The Haunted Shores Series. (At least, I get to travel to these great resorts on the water.) For this next one, Overbeck has me headed to Cape May, New Jersey—which happens to be the most haunted town on the Eastern seaboard. Yikes. Then, there’s some talk about a trip for Erin and me to the Caribbean. I like the sound of that. After then that, well after that, he says it depends on what the readers want.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Dr. Randy Overbeck is a veteran educator who has served children for more than three decades as a teacher and school leader. Over that time, he has worked many of the roles depicted in his writing, with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent. An accomplished writer, he has been published in trade journals, professional texts and newspapers. His first novel, Leave No Child Behind, won the 2011 Silver Award for Thriller of the Year from ReadersFavorite.com. His new novel, Blood on the Chesapeake, is the first in the new Haunted Shores Mysteries series. Dr. Overbeck is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and an active member of the literary community. You can follow him on Twitter @OverbeckRandy, friend him on Facebook at Author Randy Overbeck or check out his webpage, www.authorrandyoverbeck.com.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

After being dumped by his fiancé, Darrell Henshaw, a young teacher and coach, strikes out for new pastures and lands a job on the Chesapeake Bay. He can’t believe his good fortune as Wilshire, a quiet, scenic and charming resort town on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay offers him his dream job—teaching high school history and coaching football and basketball—and, as it turns out, a second chance at love. Except no one told him that a student was murdered at the school and that the kid’s ghost haunts the hallways.

You see, Darrell sees ghosts, though he’s not happy about it. His first encounter with the spirit world did not go well and he has the OCD scars to prove it. But, after he’s hounded by the terrifying ghost, he decides to look into the murder, aided by his new love, Erin Caveny. Together, they follow a trail that leads back to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, after two locals who try to help are murdered and Erin’s life is threatened, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew. Find out more at: https://www.authorrandyoverbeck.com/books

 

Character Interview: Petra Simmons from Victoria Landis’ thriller, JORDAN

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Petra Simmons from Victoria Landis’ new thriller, JORDAN.  Petra is a twenty-nine-year-old chocolate shop owner living in West Boca Raton, Florida.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Petra.  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?

I was, though some of the early readers did remark that I was a bit too protective of my little brother, Andy. Come to think of it, Jordan told me the same thing. I’m not sure I agree with any of them.

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

At times, I came off as being too jaded. I really do care about people, and I want them all to be healed, but I keep asking the questionwhy was it my life that had to get interrupted like that? Jordan said someday I’d have that answer, but it’s still bugging me.

I can compartmentalize. When hard things happen, I can push them to the back of my brain and concentrate on what needs to be done. I’m a survivor.

Worse trait?

I’m impatient, and I lose my temper with people I need to help me. It makes my life harder.

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!)?

Hmmm . . . Alicia Vikander would be perfect. But she’d have to do an American accent.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I do. My boyfriend, Ben Nathan. He’s a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy. Looks pretty hot in the uniform, too. I could see Liam Hemsworth playing him.

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

Oh. Wow. Pretty early on. Which was why I was so hesitant to join Jordan in her ‘mission.’ Mission. I guess that’s what we should call it. I don’t know. But she convinced me. Convinced all of us.

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?

Not want to be? Easy. Jordan. I mean, all of us want to have special abilitieswe think. But I saw up close what that means. You’ll never have a normal life. And I really, really, liked my normal life.

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

Huh. Well, it ended with a hopeful situation, but Landis sure did make us pay a price for it.

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

Not sure she’d listenand she’s already told me I’m in Book 2but I’d tell her to allow us to go to the bathroom. (Laughs)

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

There are three books planned for this series, and yes, I’m supposed to be in all of them!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

www.VictoriaLandis.com  Victoria Landis is a professional writer, editor, and artist. A 16-year member, and former board member, of Mystery Writers of America, she Co-Chaired the SleuthFest Writers Conference from 2015-2018.

She’s taught at SleuthFest, the Authors Academy at Murder on the Beach, and the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

When Petra Simmons and her brother, Andy, help a seemingly homeless young woman, it immediately changes their lives forever. Within days, it’s clear the woman, Jordan Crissman, possesses an amazing ability—perhaps the most miraculous ability of all.

They realize in the current world of viral social media, they must be careful.  How best to employ the miracle without causing havoc? They plot a strategy.

Despite their plans, word gets out too fast, and the world comes running—invading and overwhelming South Florida—along with serious danger.

Find out more on Amazon

 

In the Spotlight: Josephine Baker’s Last Dance by Sherry Jones

From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.

Purchase Josephine Baker’s Last Dance in paperback,  ebook,  and  audiobook  formats on  Simon and Schuster’s website (available on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble,  BooksAMillion,  Indiebound,  Kobo,  and  other sites). Learn more about Sherry’s books  at  www.authorsherryjones.com

Book Excerpt:

Just before she entered the stage door, a drop of rain hit her on the head. No, that was not a bad omen, only a reminder to do her best, to shine like the star she was, or would be. Wilsie came running up—Mr. Sissle was there, but Mr. Blake had yet to arrive. “You’ll knock ’em dead, Tumpy. Just do your dancing and forget the rest.” Josephine didn’t need to be told that. She was ready.

She flexed and stretched her arms as she walked with Wilsie across the stage, past the musicians gathering, trumpets and saxophones and drums and a clarinet, down into the auditorium, where a slender man spoke to a white-haired man at his side. He turned his head very slightly and looked her up and down from the corners of his shrewd, hard eyes. His mouth pursed.

“How old are you?” he’d said before Wilsie had even introduced them. The stage door opened, and a very dark-skinned man with a bald head hurried in, talking about “the damned rain,” scampering down the steps, striding up the aisle, shaking water from his clothes.

“Eubie Blake,” he said, smiling, holding out his hand to her.

“This is Tumpy, Mr. Blake, the one I told you about,” Wilsie said. “She’s here to audition for Clara’s spot in the chorus.”

The man with Mr. Sissle—the stage manager—motioned to her and she followed him up the stage steps. Did she know the songs? Could she dance to “I’m Just Wild about Harry”? Josephine wanted to jump for joy. She pretended to watch as Wilsie showed her the steps, which she already knew as if she’d made them up herself. Josephine stripped down to her dingy leotard, tossed her clothes on a chair, then ran and leaped to the center of the stage. This was it. She bent over to grasp her ankles, stretching her legs, then stood and pulled her arms over her head.

“Ready?” Mr. Sissle barked. The music started, and she began the dance, so simple she could have done it in her sleep. Practicing in the Standard, she’d gotten bored with it and had made up her own steps, throwing in a little Black Bottom, wiggling her ass and kicking her legs twice as high as they wanted to go, taken by the music, played by it, the instruments’ instrument, flapping her hands, step and kick and spin and spin and squat and jump and down in a split, up and jump and kick and spin—oops, the steps, she didn’t need no damn steps, she had better ones—and kick and jump and wiggle and spin. She looked out into the auditorium—a big mistake: Mr. Blake’s mouth was open and Mr. Sissle’s eyes had narrowed to slits. Don’t be nervous, just dance. Only the music remained now, her feet and the stage.

When she’d finished, panting, and pulled on her dress and shoes, Wilsie came running over, her eyes shining. “You made their heads spin, you better believe it,” she whispered, but when they went down into the aisle Josephine heard Mr. Sissle muttering.

“Too young, too dark, too ugly,” he said. The world stopped turning, then, the sun frozen in its arc, every clock still, every breath caught in every throat. Mr. Blake turned to her, smiling as if everything were normal, and congratulated her on “a remarkable dance.”

“I can see that you are well qualified for our chorus, Tumpy,” he said, and on his lips, the name sounded like a little child’s.

“You have real talent, and spark, besides. How did you learn to do that at such a young age? You are—how old?”

“Fifteen,” she said.

Mr. Sissle snorted, and cut Wilsie a look. “Wasting my time,” he said. Mr. Blake looked at her as if she’d just wandered in from the orphanage.

“I’m very sorry, there’s been a mix-up,” he said. “You must be sixteen to dance professionally in New York State.”

“I’ll be sixteen in June,” Josephine said. Her voice sounded plaintive and faraway.

“We need someone now.” Mr. Sissle folded his arms as if she were underage on purpose. Mr. Blake led her toward the stage door, an apologetic Wilsie saying she hadn’t known. Mr. Sissle followed, talking to Mr. Blake about adding some steps to “I’m Just Wild about Harry,” saying they should put in some kicks, that he’d been thinking about it for a while. Uh-huh.

“Come and see us in New York after your birthday, doll,” Mr. Blake said. “You never know when we might have an opening.” He opened the door and let the rain pour in before shutting it again. He looked at Josephine’s thin, optimistic dress. Where was her umbrella? She hung her head. He stepped over to retrieve a black umbrella propped against the wall and handed it to her. She took it without even knowing, her thoughts colliding like too many birds in a cage. She would have to stay in Philadelphia, she had failed—too young, too dark, too ugly—she should have lied about her age, what had gotten into her? Showing off, that was what.

And now Mr. Sissle disliked her, and she would never get into their show; it didn’t matter how many times she went back. As she stepped out into the rain with that big umbrella in her hands unopened and felt the rain pour down her face; she was glad, for now they would think it was water instead of tears, but when she looked back, Wilsie was crying, too, in the open doorway.

Seeing the men watching from a window, she stopped. They wouldn’t forget her; she’d make them remember. She walked slowly, her silk dress dripping, while Mr. Sissle gesticulated with excitement as he stole her ideas—authentic Negro dancing were the last words she’d heard—and Mr. Blake looking as if he wanted to run out there, scoop her up, and carry her back inside.

( Continued… )

© 2018 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sherry Jones. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

About the Author

Author and journalist Sherry Jones is best known for her international bestseller The Jewel of Medina. She is also the author of The Sword of MedinaFour SistersAll QueensThe Sharp Hook of Love, and the novella White Heart.  Sherry lives in Spokane, WA, where, like Josephine Baker, she enjoys dancing, singing, eating, advocating for equality, and drinking champagne.

Her latest novel is Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

Website: http://authorsherryjones.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sherryjones
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sherryjonesfanpage
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/josephinebakerslastdance
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cybersecuritytechnologywriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1219600.Sherry_Jones

 

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