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Interview with Russ Colchamiro, author of sci-fi comedy ‘Genius De Milo’

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

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

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

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

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About the Book:

Genius De Milo 2Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

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

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

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

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

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

Russ: I have several books in publication. My novels include the scifi backpacking comedies Finders Keepers and Genius de Milo -– think American Pie/Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — and the scifi mystery adventure, Crossline –- think Flash Gordon meets Escape from New York. I also contributed a short story to the Crazy 8 Press wizards and demons anthology Tales of the Crimson Keep.

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?

Russ: I was in deep negotiations with three mid- to large-size publishers, who all wanted Finders Keepers, but because of the economic downturn they all cut back on their production. They all said that if the economy had been better they would have signed me on the spot. So I wound up going with a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints.

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

Russ: Once we agreed, it took about six months to produce Finders Keepers and get it published and ready for sale.

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

A: Finders Keepers debuted in October 2010, just two months after my twins were born. So the boring truth is that I didn’t do a whole of extra celebrating. I had my hands full, both figuratively and literally!

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

Russ: Let out a deep breath!

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

Russ: I’m far more efficient. I have a much better sense of what the story needs and what it doesn’t need, so I’m not wasting nearly as much time with content that will never make the final version. I’m also getting much stronger at pacing, finding the right balance between pushing the plot forward but also taking enough time to develop the characters so that the readers are invested in the outcome.

I tend to write complex, interlocking character arcs and storylines into the overall narrative, so I’ve had to force myself to really focus on what’s most important, and then build around it.

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

Russ: I published Finders Keepers in October 2010. I didn’t know it then, but it was right before e-books took over the market … and also in the middle of what turned out to be the biggest economic downturn in a century. Not what I’d call ideal timing! As I said above, I originally published (print and e-book) though a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints, but despite the economy I had success right away.

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

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

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

Russ: I take a certain pride in having brought my ideas to the page in a way that others can enjoy. Or ridicule! Ha. But seeing my books on a shelf, in someone’s home, or in a bookstore, or available online, let’s me know that I set my mind to accomplishing something that was important to me, and that I did it as well as I knew how to do — and was able to do — at the time that I did it.

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

Russ: Write because you love it, write for yourself, and write every day. And if you can make money at it … all the better.

On a more technical level, work with beta readers and editors who will give you actionable feedback that helps you improve the story you’re working on — and your craft — in very specific ways.

If you’re getting feedback like, “oh, that was good,” or “it wasn’t for me,” then they’re not really helping you.

Be highly selective, choosing people who will tell you what you actually need to hear, not what you want to hear. And keep your world of trusted ‘advisors’ on the small side. Feedback from too many people will distract and confuse you.

Being an author is a lot of work, so try to have as much as you can along the way, and unlike me, celebrate every step along the way. We writers need as much encouragement as we can get!

Interview with Susan Louise Peterson, author of THE YES BOOK FOR TEENAGERS & THE NO BOOK FOR TEENAGERS

Susan PetersonSusan Louise Peterson is an author and school psychologist living in Las Vegas, NV. She has taken a twenty year journey working in the tough inner city schools of Las Vegas, Nevada as a teacher and later a school psychologist. Susan has worked with students from pre-kindergarten to high school levels. Working in a large inner city high school she noticed that many teenagers were dealing with communication issues related to their parents, teachers and other adults. Students were given limited information from adults when they asked questions and usually did not understand the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ type of responses they received from adults. In response, Susan Louise Peterson wrote two companion books to help teenagers with this communication dilemma. She is the author of the newly released books entitled THE YES BOOK FOR TEENAGERS and THE NO BOOK FOR TEENAGERS.

Susan is an award winning educator and has won several national awards for improving educational practice. She was named to the Practitioners Hall of Fame for Improvement of Educational Practice from NOVA University.

In addition, Susan is the author of the recently published book IS MY CHILD AUTISTIC OR DELAYED? (Vilnius Press-2013), as well as eight other books in the areas of education, research and child behavior.

You can visit her website at

Click here to enter the $25 Amazon Gift Card + Books Giveaway!


The Yes Book for TeenagersThe Yes Book for Teenagers was written to address the multiple meanings of ‘yes’ as teenagers often ask parents and adults for numerous requests. Susan Louise Peterson, a school psychologist has worked in the inner city high schools of Las Vegas with a large number of teenagers. She has seen the ‘quick and fast’ requests from teenagers. These requests when answered with a ‘yes’ response often need a little more explanation and detail. It is hoped this book will help teenagers understand the broader meaning of a simple ‘yes’ response.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.


The No Book for TeenagersThe No Book for Teenagers seeks to help teenagers understand why adults (such as parents and teachers say ‘no’ to them. Teenagers literally have thousands’ of requests and these requests can cause major disagreements between teens and adults. Parents and teachers are often helping teenagers understand the ‘bigger picture’ and some of the challenges they may be facing now and in the future. The book is written by Susan Louise Peterson, a school psychologist who has worked with teens in the inner city schools of Las Vegas, Nevada. As Susan emphasizes in the book, the word ‘no’ can be connected to many things. She helps teens explore the various meanings connected with a ‘no’ response.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

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

The Yes Book for Teenagers and The No Book for Teenagers will be my tenth and eleventh books published. I have nine other books on a variety of human relations and education topics.

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 have taken a traditional academic publishing approach to the first eight books, but I am now using a more independent publishing approach for the last three books. I have a greater interest in being involved in the direct publishing issues and promotion of the books than I have had with traditional academic publishing.

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

Since I have been through the publishing process before I feel it moves at a much faster pace. I think I spend more time getting the foreword and comments for the book than I do writing the book. The delay is not with a contract, but rather in putting the final touches on the book.

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

The first book published came after numerous rejection letters, but I really appreciated when an editor recognized and respected my work. He worked with me on seven other books and this was a really good feeling.

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

Actually, when my first book was published I knew nothing about promotion and just assumed the publisher would handle it all (I was totally wrong about that). I think they listed my book in an academic catalog and that was pretty much all of the promotion there was, so I learned I needed to be more involved in the promotion.

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

I think I have grown as a writer from seeing that it is more than getting a book published. The book has to help someone or say something that gets a person thinking about a change or a new way to look at something.

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

I love the publishing industry because it can change like any other business or field. New technology, new marketing approaches and new companies are popping up and changing the whole publishing field.

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

The most rewarding thing about being a published author is the joy I have with self expression of my ideas through the written word. I cannot always express these things orally, but I am much more comfortable expressing them in written form.

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

I hear many people say “I am going to write a book someday.” I just want them to know that writing the book is only the first step and that there is so much more to the publishing and promotion process of the book.

First Chapter Reveal: The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry

The Beloved DaughterTitle of Book: THE BELOVED DAUGHTER
Genre: Inspirational Fiction
Author: Alana Terry
Publisher: CreateSpace



In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. Catastrophic floods have ravaged her countryside. But it is her father’s faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha’s well-being.

Is Chung-Cha’s father right to be such a vocal believer? Or is he a fool to bring danger on the head of his only daughter?

Chung-Cha is only a girl of twelve and is too young to answer such questions. Yet she is not too young to face a life of imprisonment and forced labor. Her crime? Being the daughter of a political dissident.

“The Beloved Daughter” follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps of the contemporary free world. Will Chung-Cha survive the horrors of Camp 22?

And if she does survive, will her faith remain intact?

“The Beloved Daughter” won second place in the 2012 Women of Faith Writing Contest.



“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Isaiah 42:3

The wind howled, pummeling gusts of snow through the cracks in our cabin walls. If the stinging cold and the hunger pains weren’t enough to keep me awake, my parents’ hushed argument was. I hugged my blanket as I listened to their voices, forceful and angry as the winter gale.

“We can’t risk drawing attention to ourselves,” Mother warned. “These inspectors report to Pyongyang.”

I slipped one eye open, just a crack. I knew my parents were anxious about the arrival of the inspections unit from Pyongyang, our nation’s capital. Kim Jong-Il, the Dear Leader himself, sent these inspectors to Hasambong to weed out any subversive citizens. No one in Hasambong felt safe, even us children.

My parents stood in the middle of our cabin facing each other. Father didn’t move at all. His face reminded me of the statue of our nation’s founder in front of our school. Kim Il-Sung’s bronze image never yielded in rain or snow or hail or storm but gazed resolutely at his starving citizens with cold and stony eyes.

“I will not renounce the truths of Scripture just to make my life here on this earth a little more comfortable,” Father spat. He was still whispering, but the forcefulness of his words filled our cabin like the roar of the angry Tumen River in flood season. “‘If you falter in times of trouble,’” Father quoted, “‘how small is your strength’!”

Mother swore. “Don’t talk to me about strength! Don’t you think I wish things were different? But they’re not. You think I’m a coward. But I’m the one who watches out for our daughter’s safety while you bring open suspicion upon our household right in front of the inspectors. No, Husband.” Mother pointed a finger in his face.

“It is you who are the coward.”

Instinctively, I longed to rush to Father’s aid. In the candlelight, I saw Father’s frame droop. His shoulders sagged. He looked older and frailer than I ever saw him before. I waited for Father to respond, willing him to defend himself, but he was silent.

“You dare speak to me about courage,” Mother continued, probably unaware that she was close to shouting now. “You don’t realize how much courage it takes to get up every morning and go to work, knowing that my daughter could be interrogated any day by her teachers at that school. Knowing that I’m powerless to worship God like the Good Book says if I want my only child to see her thirteenth birthday. Knowing that my husband thinks I’m an apostate because I would rather see Chung-Cha survive to adulthood. And meanwhile you – for the sake of a mere philosophy – are willing to condemn our entire family to prison camp. Of course you realize what those guards would do to Chung-Cha there, don’t you?” I prayed for sleep to shield me from my mother’s words, and I clenched my thin blanket tight against me.

“And do you know what will happen to Chung-Cha if she dies without ever learning the good news?” Father asked quietly.

“She knows the good news,” Mother insisted. “Why isn’t that enough? Why do you continue to endanger our only child? Especially now with the inspectors here, looking to make an example of traitors?”

“The Lord will care for us,” Father promised. I pretended not to hear the strain in his voice.

“You are certain of God’s provision,” Mother countered.

“Yet if Chung-Cha doesn’t die of cold and hunger this winter, she’ll just as likely die in a prison camp this spring. All because of your recklessness. You have the word of God in your heart.

Why can’t you keep it there instead of speaking so openly and condemning us all?”

Father was speechless. I willed away the sob that was rising in my throat at the sight of my dear father so humiliated. Could Mother be right? I never met anyone like my father, who memorized whole books of the Bible although Scripture was outlawed in North Korea, who whispered the gospel to his co-workers but never was caught. Father’s faith was so strong that I was certain the Hasambong mountains themselves would one day cave in at the sound of his prayers breathed in the darkness. Could this man – whose love for his Creator was so vast that the entire North Hamyong Province hardly seemed large enough to contain it – really be wrong to love God so deeply? Was Father foolish to obey God so fearlessly?

Father always promised that God would care for us just like he cared for the sparrows. Years ago, I was quick and eager to believe Father’s words of faith. But as each month of the famine grew worse, as each night I shivered from the cold and clenched my empty stomach while listening in on my parents’ disagreements, I wondered if my mother could be right. Seeds of doubt found fertile soil in my empty belly.

In our Hasambong village, even the sparrows were falling to the ground from starvation, not to rise again.

Now with the inspectors here, the danger was even more real. The prison camps were more than rumors. Two families in our small village of Hasambong had been relocated since the start of the famine. One couple was caught with a stolen potato.

The other family, whose infant I played with before she starved to death, was accused of cannibalism.

Was Mother right? With the People’s Safety Agency here to inspect us, wouldn’t God understand if Father was less vocal about his faith, given the circumstances and grave dangers to our family?

My father sighed, and I held my breath to hear what he would say in his defense.

“I am not a fool. I know what risks come from following Jesus Christ.” Father’s voice wasn’t angry anymore, but gentle, like the snow that occasionally covered the Hasambong mountainside in a blanket of unblemished white.

“Chung-Cha is a gift from God … as are you.” Father reached out his calloused, work-worn hand to wipe a tear off Mother’s gaunt cheek. She turned away with a disdainful snort.

Father continued, “Nevertheless, if I began to love these gifts more than the One who entrusted them to me, then I would not be able to look my Savior in the face when I stand before him and give an account of my life.

“It is God who gives me breath.” The confidence of Father’s quiet confession filled our cabin with uncharacteristic warmth. “And as long as my old worn-out heart keeps beating, as long as these tired lungs continue to draw air, I will not remain silent. I cannot. I will proclaim the Good News until my Savior returns to rule the earth or until he calls me home.”

My heart swelled at Father’s words of triumph and faith. I watched Mother’s face to see if she felt the same wave of power, the same surge of hope, that transcended the suffering and fear – even the constant hunger – of our provincial lives in rural North Korea.

Mother brushed past Father and unpinned her hair. She walked to the bed, yanked down the tattered blanket, and hissed, “Your stubborn faith will be the death of us all.”

Lowell Christensen’s The One-Minute Zillionaire Book Blast today! Win $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Pump Up Your Book and Lowell T. Christensen will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card during his The One-Minute Zillionaire Book Blast today! This promotion ends at midnight. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!



Like any good success book, The One-Minute Zillionaire will get you so crazed with principles, keys, goals, affirmations, and profound and poetic platitudes that you’ll want to dash to Alaska to search for gold and taunt grizzly bears. Christensen delivers a very funny yet sensible message with help from a wide cast of characters, including Shakespeare, Freud, Pamela Anderson, Dante, Greek goddesses, Chewbacca, Charles Manson, Saint Peter, and Pancho Villa. He pondered the powerful achievement techniques and heat-resistant feet of Anthony Robbins, the paradigms of Stephen R. Covey, the excellence of Thomas Peters, the mind power of Napoleon Hill, the brazen squint of Donald Trump, and the fudge-making ability of Martha Stewart. He consequently discovered the number one key to success, “The best way to achieve success is to write a success book.”

Christensen covers financial success but adds advice on wooing, weight loss, time management, travel, and other topics with the goal in mind of making the book thicker. Go to for national and international reviews, excerpts, free bonus offers, and articles.

Praise for The One-Minute Zillionaire:

“The author has a light touch and the ability to laugh at himself and his own ideas. Without a doubt, Christensen is funny.”

— Foreword Reviews

“Lowell Christensen is the author of “The One-Minute Zillionaire,” a new humor book about success. In a press release, Christensen writes that he hopes his advice about “how success requires quite a bit of formal and practical education, hard work, and falling on your face a few times” will resonate with readers.”

Albuquerque Journal

Purchase your copy:




Lowell T. ChistensenLowell T. Christensen has kept himself busily occupied as a writer, engineer, rocket scientist, musician, backhoe operator, outdoorsman, chef, rancher, and international traveler. His previous books include Coping with Texas and Other Staggering Feets and Beginning Farming and What Makes a Sheep Tick, and he has written magazine articles that feature presidential elections through the theme of Shakespearean plays.

Christensen also writes articles for his local newspaper about public education, cheesy television shows, Scout camp misadventures, and the county library’s resemblance to a dead rhinoceros. With a degree in chemical engineering, he has worked for DuPont and the University of California.

His latest book is The One-Minute Zillionaire: Achieve Wealth, Fame, and Success in an Instant, Give or Take a Hundred Years.




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Book Blast: Feathered by Tom Weston + Win $25 Amazon GC!

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Welcome to Tom Weston’s Feathered Book Blast!  Here’s your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash PLUS an autographed copy of his new fantasy, Feathered: Being a Fairy TaleFeathered is the 3rd book in the Alex and Jackie Adventure Series and we’re so happy to bring you not only a great giveaway but tell you all about Tom and his new book.  This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents and ends on March 29.

FeatheredTHE BOOK

Whenever Alexandra Caroline O’Rourke, AKA Alex, met with trouble, she generally blamed her younger sister, Jackie. And Alex’s sudden engagement to marry a Viking prince, against her will, probably classified as trouble. If nothing else, a wedding held in 11th century Ireland would make it difficult to invite her friends from San Diego. Regardless of blame, Jackie was the only person who could help Alex, but Jackie was still in the 21st century. And Jackie had her own problems, which included uncooperative fairies and strange songs which only she could hear. But most of all, if Jackie could not find a way to make it rain, marauding Vikings would be the least of their worries, because this is Feathered: being a fairy tale and this is an Alex and Jackie Adventure.

Purchase your copy:


The Author

Tom WestonAward winning writer and film-maker, Tom Weston, returns to the fantasy genre for his 3rd novel in the Alex and Jackie Adventure series, FEATHERED: BEING A FAIRY TALE. Originally from England, Tom now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Before turning his hand to fiction, Tom had a successful career as the CEO of a consulting company, conference speaker and writer of industry articles and business books. But determining that the business world lacked a sense of humor, Tom decided to hand in his jacket and tie and instead turned to the world of literature. His novel, FIRST NIGHT, set in Boston during the New Year’s Eve festival, introduced the unlikely heroines, Alex and Jackie, and the ghost of a 17th century Puritan named Sarah Pemberton. FIRST NIGHT won an Honorable Mention in the Middle-Grade/Young Adult category, in the Writers Digest 17th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards. The sequel to FIRST NIGHT, called THE ELF OF LUXEMBOURG, was published in January, 2010. As with FIRST NIGHT, THE ELF OF LUXEMBOURG is also a supernatural mystery, with a blend of humor and history that has become Tom’s trademark. Following the publication of THE ELF OF LUXEMBOURG, Tom turned to the medium of film to produce and direct the award winning animated short, THERE BE MONSTERS!, based on one of his TALES FROM THE GREEN DRAGON TAVERN. Tom also wrote the critically acclaimed and award winning, Historical Fiction novel, FISSION, based on the true life story of scientist, Lise Meitner. Tom is now working on a new animated short called DANCING DAISY DAY.

Visit Tom Online:


And now for the GIVEAWAY!!! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash and an autographed copy of his book, FEATHERED!!!
(Ends March 29, 2013)

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Character Interview: Reed Jackson from Holly Bush’s historical romance, Reconstructing Jackson

We’re thrilled to have here today Reed Jackson from Holly Bush’s new book, Reconstructing Jackson. Reed is a 32-year-old lawyer from Fenton, Missouri.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Reed. 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?

Reed JacksonThis author was unduly critical of my mood early on in the book. I’d lost a leg in battle, lost my plantation and heritage to younger brother and my fiancé to boot. I was well within my rights to be cantankerous!

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

She did not give me near the credit I deserved for traveling by train hundreds of miles with complete strangers and having to rely on their kindness to navigate any uneven landscape or building at our inevitable stops and delays. I was the image of humbleness.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My intelligence and good looks.

Worse trait?

Pride and stubbornness.

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!)?

Why, Val Kilmer in his Doc Holiday days, of course. He looks a fair bit like me, although not as manly.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I do. Belle Richards.

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

When outlaws started shooting at me and at those nearest and dearest to me.

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?

Beulah Freeman. Let’s just say that Beulah got mixed up with something unpleasant.

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

I very much like the end of the book. It is an update to my dear, sainted Mama, whom I miss most desperately.

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

I would wish she would make sure to explain to our readers that my bride is the reason for my continued success and the very heart and soul of our family. I am nothing, was nothing, without her.

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

I certainly hope not. As a southern gentleman, my privacy and the privacy of my family, trumps the rights of usurpers telling our very personal intimacies. Good day to you!



Holly BushHolly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.
Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group.

Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, and was the vice-president of her local library board for years. She loves to spend time near the ocean and is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.

Her latest book is the historical fiction, Reconstructing Jackson.


Reconstructing Jackson 21867 . . . Southern lawyer and Civil War veteran, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation in a wheelchair. His father deems him unfit, and deeds the Jackson holdings, including his intended bride, to a younger brother. Angry and bitter, Reed moves west to Fenton, Missouri, home to a cousin with a successful business, intending to start over.

Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read, cleans, cooks and holds together her family’s meager property. A violent brother and a drunken father plot to marry her off, and gain a new horse in the bargain. But Belle’s got other plans, and risks her life to reach them.

Reed is captivated by Belle from their first meeting, but wheelchair bound, is unable to protect her from violence. Bleak times will challenge Reed and Belle’s courage and dreams as they forge a new beginning from the ashes of war and ignorance.

PUYB Blog Tour: The Sexiest Drink on Earth by Mark Spivak

The Sexiest Drink on Earth

By Mark Spivak

How did a something that tastes like castor oil flavored with tree bark become the sexiest drink on earth?

Iconic SpiritsGaspare Campari invented his famous potion in 1860 by infusing sixty herbs, spices, barks and fruit peels in a mixture of alcohol and distilled water. It became a sensation, and Campari turned into an entrepreneur. There’s only one problem: Campari is bitter, and human beings have taste receptors for bitterness that function as an early warning system, alerting us that we are about to consume something that might be toxic or poisonous.

Imagine the dilemma for your brain as you take a sip of cold, refreshing Campari and soda. Part of your mind is saying, “Don’t drink this—it might kill you!” In another sector of your cranium, though, the drink is perceived to be sophisticated and desirable. Given that more than 27 million bottles of Campari are sold each year, the brain has obviously found a way to disregard the potential dangers of bitterness. In researching my book, Iconic spirits: An Intoxicating History, I spoke to scientists doing research on the physiology of taste, and they all had a theory on how this conflict was resolved.

More importantly, though, how did Campari come to be regarded as the sexiest drink on earth?

The shimmering red potion may be infused with dozens of herbs and spices, but the advertising images have always contained a strong dose of forbidden fruit. In its marketing materials, the company describes Campari as a “symbol of passion” and goes on to say that this passion “expresses itself in terms of seduction, seduction and transgression…”

The famous 1920 poster by Marcello Dudovich is a good example. Two lovers are locked in an embrace that can only be described as smoldering, balanced precariously on the edge of a sofa and enhanced by a background of soft crimson light. Two glasses, one half-filled with Campari, sit on a nearby table. The woman’s hand rests on the man’s cheek in a classic gesture, pushing him away and embracing him at the same time.

In 1998 Campari began working with the celebrated Indian director Tarsem, who created the series of “Red Passion” ads. The campaign was the first in Italy to present female homosexuality in a straightforward yet compelling way; from there it went on to target other social norms. In a 2005 commercial, a man stands at the bar during a reception when he spots a tall, beautiful woman on the other side of the room. They exchange looks. The man obtains a Campari on the rocks from the bartender and follows the woman to a secludedpart of the building. His hand slips as he approaches her, and hesplashes Campari on her dress and cleavage. Slowly and tantalizingly, the woman removes her top and reveals herself to be a man. The man then takes off his shirt to display his bra and the fact that he’s actually a woman. The ad blends mystery and intrigue, explores repressed desires, and blurs the lines of gender identity—all in sixty seconds.

So relax and enjoy a cocktail made with Campari, whether it’s a Negroni, Americano, Garibaldi (Campari and orange juice) or a classic Campari and soda—but make sure that someone you care about is there to enjoy it with you.

Mark Spivak smMark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the restaurant critic for Palm Beach Illustrated. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Ritz-Carlton, Continental, Art & Antiques, Newsmax, Dream of Italy and Arizona Highways. From 1999-2011 he hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Mark began writing Iconic Spirits after becoming fascinated with the untold stories behind the world’s greatest liquors. As a writer, he’s always searching for the unknown details that make his subjects compelling and unique.His latest book is Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History.

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