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Character Interview: Cassandra Brighton from Linda Lucretia Shuler’s literary novel, ‘Hidden Shadows’

HiddenShadows_medWe’re thrilled to have here today Cassandra Brighton, from Linda Lucretia Shuler’s new literary novel, Hidden Shadows.  Cassie, forty-five, recently sold her Houston boutique of Native American Art, “Spirit of the Southwest,” and moved to Willow City, a small community in a rugged corner of the Texas Hill Country.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Cassie.  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?

It took a while for the author to know who I really am. I don’t think Linda would mind if I use her first name; we’re close now. I think of her as a sister. Although I didn’t at first. I didn’t trust her then.

I’m a private person, really – full of dreams, musings, hidden fears. So much has happened in my life, so much love and so much sorrow – the kind that rips you apart. I’ve made some stupid mistakes, but who of us hasn’t? It takes a while to share these hidden parts of yourself, the good as well as the bad. We all are a mix, aren’t we? None of us perfect. All of us a stew of feelings.

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

“Colorizing.” Hum. Now that’s a curious choice of words. To be honest, it’s hard to see oneself from another’s eyes. I never thought myself beautiful, although friends tell me otherwise. I’ve just turned forty-five, after all. Bits of gray in my hair, and some lines starting to appear under my eyes. As for my personality, Linda’s been relentless, digging right down inside me, forcing me to realize things about myself I didn’t understand before. Sometimes I think she goes overboard, like with my dreams. Dreams should be private, shouldn’t they? And here she is, spilling them to the world. Especially my visions of ancestors who once lived in this creaking old homestead. I can feel their spirits here, warm, kind – well, all except one. But I don’t want to talk about him.

What’s the next question?

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My strongest trait? Lordy, give me a moment to think . . .

Perhaps my strongest trait is my sensitivity, my awareness of thing felt, but not seen: the  struggles of others, hidden within them; the spirituality of animals, such as the wolf who seems to have adopted me; the faint music of long-ago echoing among the hills; the soft footsteps and whispers of spirits within the walls of my ancestral home. It’s natural to me, this lovely way of responding to the world.

Worse trait?

My strongest trait is also, in a weird way, one of my weakest. I can be overly sensitive, easy to wound. My imagination often runs rampant, tossing me into a whirlwind of anxiety.

On second thought, maybe my worst trait is the reluctance to let go of the past. Memories, longings, hopes unfulfilled – these haunt me.

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!)?

Angelica Joli. I love her intensity, the graceful way she moves, like a panther. She has chutzpa too; I can’t imagine her sitting down and letting the world pass her by. And emotional! Everything she feels flits across her face; no words are needed.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Oh, yes. He’s gorgeous. Mercurial. Talented. Frustrating. Tormented, I think, by his past. Quick to anger, I suspect. I don’t know if he’s as quick to love. He chose someone else – a tight-lipped, icy queen who claimed him as her own.

I’ll let you discover the rest.

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

To be honest, I was nervous from the beginning. I mean, couldn’t Linda at least give me a break?  I had to knock her in the head a time or two – or tried to, at any rate. She must have heard me, because she finally came around to seeing things my way.

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?

Guy, a tormented soul. Something about him scared me in the beginning. Still does, as a matter of fact.

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

It surprised me. I mean, you make plans and life suddenly throws something else at you. But isn’t that the way it goes? Life is a journey toward the unexpected. I’m here, I’m healthy, I’m smiling. That’s all I’d better say.

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

I’d say, “Linda, write about me as I am now, not as I was when we first met.”

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

Oh, I would love to think so! However, there’s a kink: My ancestors are rattling around in Linda’s thoughts, demanding to be heard. I suspect she’s going to write about them next. Theirs is an interesting story, my pioneer forefathers (or is it foremothers?) and the dangers they faced so bravely as they settled in this wild corner of Texas. Since I’m part of them, I’m part of their story, too.



Linda Lucretia Shuler wrote her first story when she was six, Koko the Monkey, which she still has tucked into a drawer. Since then her stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and literary journals, and a handful of her plays have been produced in schools and community theatres.

Linda received a BFA in theatre from the University of Texas, and an MA in theatre from Trinity University while in residence at the Dallas Theatre Center. She taught theatre arts in college and high school for three decades, loving every moment and directing nearly a hundred plays in the process. She also wrote theatre arts curriculum K-12 for Houston ISD, conducted numerous workshops, and performed in community theatres.

Hidden Shadows, Linda’s debut novel, takes place in Willow City, a ruggedly beautiful section of the Texas Hill Country less than three hours from her home in San Antonio. Several other manuscripts are in the works, reaching across the genres. These include a prequel to Hidden Shadows, plays, and a collection of poems and a half-dozen different story ideas demanding attention.

Linda enjoys participating in Toastmasters, writer organizations, critique groups, and book clubs. She continues her love of theatre, delights in watching the birds flocking outside her office window, and is an enthusiastic fan of San Antonio’s championship basketball team, the Spurs.


Title: Hidden Shadows

Genre: Literary

Author: Linda Lucretia Shuler

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Amazon / OmniLit / B&N / Twilight Times Books

Hidden Shadows is a story of connection: to the land, to our ancestors, to others, to ourselves – and to the redemptive power of love: 

Cassie Brighton, devastated by the accidental death of her husband, flees to a remote homestead deep in the rugged Texas Hill Country. Alone in a ramshackle farmhouse steeped in family secrets, Cassie wages a battle of mind and heart as she struggles to overcome the sorrows of her past, begin anew, and confront the possibility of finding love again.

What people are saying:

Hidden Shadows is a wonderful novel of a women’s journey of self-discovery and search for purpose. The characters will win your heart (and sometimes break it) in this beautifully written and satisfying story of loss and renewal.”

Sandra Worth,

Award-winning author of The King’s Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen

Book Review: The Accidental Art Thief, by Joan Schweighardt

TheAccidentalArtThief_medTitleThe Accidental Art Thief

Genre: General fiction/Literary

Author: Joan Schweighardt

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Find The Accidental Thief on Amazon 

Set in New Mexico, this is the story of 45-year old Kathryn (aka Zinc), a deeply sensitive yet socially awkward woman who’s lived all of her existence without making her own decisions, and whose life suddenly forces her to take charge, face her fears, and grow as a human being.

For the past 25 years Zinc has cared for an old art collector and lived in a casita under the protection of his estate. She writes poetry and her only possessions are her two dogs. Life is monotone and safe for Zinc, whose idyllic environment is perfect for hiding from the world. But things abruptly change when the old man suffers a tragic fall and dies. His nasty daughter Marge takes charge, and gives Zinc only two weeks to gather what little she has and find another place to live. Overnight, Zinc is forced to face her fears and the world she’s been hiding from for so many years—or tries to, anyway.

Her first decision—stealing one of the old man’s paintings—unravels a series of unusual events that forces Zinc to interact with other people—a clairvoyant, her auto-mechanic brother, and a poet whom she ends up meeting in Antigua and falling in love with, among others. She even gets a job at the Chamber of Commerce. But Zinc isn’t the only one struggling through life and facing her demons, and so do the other characters in the book. Eventually, Zinc must make things right and return the painting, but not before going through a series of unusual turns.

The Accidental Art Thief is a well-written literary novel with complex, skillfully developed characters—ordinary people moving through life like ghosts, it seems at times. Their emotions are what makes this novel compelling. Themes of love, friendship, self-growth, and emotional survival interlace in this sometimes darkly humorous story. Elements of magical realism further deepen the tale, adding a light touch of the paranormal to the plot. Fans of Alice Hoffman, Sue Monk Kid, and J.K. Rowling (The Casual Vacancy) will surely enjoy Schweighardt’s The Accidental Thief.

My review originally appeared in Blogcritics. 

I was given a review copy by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Character Interview: Frankie Winesky from Joan Schweighardt’s novel, ‘The Accidental Art Thief’

TheAccidentalArtThief_medWe’re thrilled to have here today Frankie Winesky from Joan Schweighardt’s new novel, The Accidental Art Thief. Frankie is a 52-year-old auto mechanic living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Frankie. 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?

Number one, your introduction missed the mark. So let’s set the record straight right now: I am not your average auto mechanic. I am the owner/operator of my own auto repair business. I got a corner lot, a nice big garage with three hydraulic lifts, a brake lathe, a high performance tire changer, a wheel balancer, a bathroom, and a nice cushy office with a big oak desk and a/c.

You bring it in, I work on it, no matter what shape it’s in. And 99.99 percent of the time I get it running again. But I’m best known for the work I do on vintage models. I got two of my own: a ’65 Mustang convertible and a ’66 GTO. Cars are my life. That’s why when I wanted to find a way to thank my little sister for, um, saving my life that one time there, I bought her the Firebird: V-6 aero snout with a one-piece fold-down seatback, which would have come in handy if she’d had to live in her car, which, if not for me, would have actually come to pass. A muscle car for a chick with no muscle, figuratively speaking.

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

The author nailed it. I think she really helped the reader to understand the great inconvenience it was to have my sister and her mutts moving in with me. I think readers will really appreciate the sacrifice I had to make to accommodate the three of them.

What do you believe is your strongest trait? 

Besides knowing more about cars than probably 99.99 percent of the people on the planet? Probably I got more good car stories than anyone else too. Click and Clack, the Car Guys on that radio show? They’d be the only ones in my league.

Worse trait? 

I wouldn’t really say I have a worse trait. Not that I can think of on the spur like this. Worse thing I ever did was screw up a relationship with this woman Gloria. Ah, Gloria. You can read about her in the book if you’re interested. That mistake cost me big time. And all for a one-nighter with a thirty-something-year-old who I never saw again. You live and you learn.

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!)? 

Funny you should ask. My sister asked me the same question the other day and I said right off the bat, George Clooney. He’s taller and he’s got more hair, and maybe we don’t look that much alike, but we carry ourselves the same, if you know what I mean. We got that confidence thing going. Zincy laughed. She said, “Honestly, Frankie! I’ll give you William H. Macy, but that’s as far as I’ll go.” I said, “Fine, I’ll take the H-man.” Clooney is better looking, but no one is as cool as Willy H.

Do you have a love interest in the book? 

Oh, do I ever.

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

How can I say this without being a spoiler? My sister committed this crime, see? And being her big brother and all, I had to cover for her. I had to more or less undo the bad thing she did. Remember the scene in Mission: Impossible where Tom Cruise is dangling from a wire being held on the other end by someone he doesn’t even trust? Suffice it to say I had to endure almost the exact same predicament to save my sister’s ass. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but there was some uncertainty about how it would all turn out.

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? 

Shite, I can tell you right off the bat that I wouldn’t want to be my sister. She ain’t wired right, if you know what I mean.

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

Ooh la la, at least from my perspective. Ooh la la, and bring on the homemade tarts and ginger ice cream!

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

Give me center stage. And let me tell more car stories.

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

Count on it.


joan Joan Schweighardt is a former indie publisher who now works as a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and editor. The Accidental Art Thief is her fifth novel.

Connect with Joan on the web:

Website / Twitter / Facebook

Find The Accidental Art Thief on Amazon.

Interview with Silvio Sirias, author of ‘The Saint of Santa Fe’

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

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Saint of Santa Fe.What was your inspiration for it? 

A: Thank you for the congratulations! I read about the tragic, yet heroic, story of Father Hector Gallego’s in a local newspaper shortly after my wife and I moved to Panama. Something about his sacrifice, as well as the photograph they published, started to haunt me. Even though his disappearance and death occur nearly forty-three years ago, Panamanians still remember him and the work he did. In fact, they continue to clamor for justice in his case.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist. 

A: The story is about a young, Colombian priest who left his homeland to start a parish in a remote area of Panama. He soon discovered that his parishioners had been living as indentured servants for generations. He helped to free them. In the process, however, he offended a wealthy landowner and he was kidnapped by military operatives never to be heard from again. Also, in researching the novel I met his sister, Edilma, who moved here from Colombia fifteen years ago to discover the truth about her brother’s death. The novel tells her story as well.

Q: How was your creative process during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way? 

A: This has been the most difficult of the three novels I’ve published. At first it was because I knew little about Panama’s culture and history, so I had a lot to learn. It took me about three years to become comfortable enough to write about my new, adoptive homeland with confidence. Then, because of this insecurity I included too many historical details in the narrative, weighing the pace down. It took me quite a while to decide what to jettison, but once I did the pace improved significantly.  Finally, General Omar Torrijos, a figure many revere in Panama, is the villain in this tale. It was a tremendous challenge to flesh him out. He became clear after I took a trip to Coclesito—a town he adored and used as an experimental Sirias - Cover - 9781937536565.inddstation to improve rural conditions in the country. In fact, he died in a plane crash while flying there. During my visit I felt his spirit and I came to understand his legacy with absolute clarity. But it all took quite a while, nearly ten years from the moment I decided this would be my next novel. Of course, I took long hiatuses, but getting this story right required of all my faith and patience. In the end, though, I am thrilled with the results.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it? 

A: I am also a teacher, and even though I have been teaching for many, many years, I still get a bit nervous before starting every class. I take it as a sign that I care about what I’m doing. It’s the same with writing. But as with teaching, after a few minutes into it the anxiety disappears.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: When I write full-time, I work from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. five days a week.  My wife and I have chosen to lead a simple life. We own little and are almost debt-free. Because of this, I can take long stretches off from my teaching job, usually two years at a time.  It is then that I can devote myself entirely to my next novel. I am hopeless at multitasking.  When I write, that is all I do. I just can’t balance it all, I’m afraid. But because of this, I am much more of a homebody when I am a writer than when I’m a teacher.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author? 

A: Such an honest question deserves an honest answer. And although my answer may seem brutal, any writer facing such a situation has a difficult choice to make. I couldn’t be an author if my wife wasn’t 100% supportive. Every writer needs a spouse who helps to nurture the muse, otherwise it would be akin to sabotaging one’s work. As heartless as this may sound, I’d say either give up on writing or get out of what appears to be a bad relationship. To become a writer one has to make countless sacrifices, and a spouse needs to be on board for all of them.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree? 

A: I wrote an essay titled “The Kindly Demon that Fuels Me.” I wrote it precisely in response to Orwell’s essay “On Why I Write,” where the quote you mention can be found. I agree that most writers have demons. Mario Vargas Llosa added to this thought by saying that novelists write to exorcise demons. Yet the one that drives me is a benevolent one, taking the form of my desire to be remembered after I’m gone. When I look at it this way, I am don’t find my demon terrifying in the least.

Book Review: ‘A Very Good Life’ by Lynn Steward


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00031]A Very Good Life is the first book in an exciting new series by successful business woman now author Lynn Steward.

In this story, which crosses over from the literary to women’s fiction to romance, Steward takes us to 1970s Manhattan, home of the sophisticated and the elite. There, we meet Dana McGarry.

Dana has everything — a successful job at a prestigious department store, a handsome lawyer husband, a beautiful home, and loving family and friends. But things aren’t always as perfect as they appear to be, aren’t they?

When Dana’s husband begins to drift away, and demands at her job require that she behaves unethically, her world begins to crumble. She finds herself at a crossroads. Will she make the right decisions and stay true to herself and her vision of what a ‘good life’ should be?

This was a wonderful read! It reminded me of novels I read years ago by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Female readers will no doubt empathize with Dana as she struggles to keep her career and marriage together. She is strong, but also caring and sensitive. Readers will also be swept away by the setting. With vivid detail, the author brings Christmas in 1970s New York City alive in all its splendor. I really felt transported in time and place, felt the snowflakes and smelled the holiday trees. The characters are sympathetic and interesting and, of course, the antagonist is just one of those persons the reader will love to hate.

Steward has created a wonderful world of drama in this new series. Book two is supposed to come later this year and I’m really looking forward to reading the new installment. If you love women’s fiction and are a fan of strong female protagonists, I recommend you pick this one up. It won’t disappoint.

Find out more on Amazon.

Visit Lynn Steward’s website.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

Character Interview: Dana McGarry from Lynn Steward’s literary fiction novel, A Very Good Life

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00031]We’re thrilled to have you here today Dana McGarry from Lynn Steward’s debut novel A Very Good Life.  Dana is a twenty-nine year old public relations and special events coordinate at B. Altman department store, living in New York City, New York.

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

Thank you so much for this interview, Dana.  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? 

Yes, I was fairly portrayed. Lynn understood the unexpected and sudden challenges in my life, and she gave me the time I needed to work through them.

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

Lynn had the same problem, people underestimated her, so she did an excellent job painting the two sides of my personality: I am accommodating but at the same time ambitious and determined.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Fortitude and independence.

Worse trait?

Too intense.

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!)?  Kristen Bell.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

My husband, Brett McGarry.

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

When I learned my husband took the free-spirited junior litigator from his law firm shopping for a professional wardrobe.

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?

Janice Conlon, the junior litigator who seduces my husband, Brett.

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

Sad, but hopeful.

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

I want to have a little more fun, be adventurous.

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

Yes you will! Lynn has written the synopses for four more novels in the Dana McGarry Series, and I was told to expect an exciting career in the fashion industry, and a handsome and charming love interest!

AVGL LS in libraryAbout the Author

Lynn Steward is a successful business woman who spent many years in New York City’s fashion industry in marketing and merchandising, including the development of the first women’s department at a famous men’s clothing store. Through extensive research, and an intimate knowledge of the period, Steward created the characters and stories for a series of five authentic and heartwarming novels about New York in the seventies. A Very Good Life is the first in the series featuring Dana McGarry.

About the Book

Although Lynn Steward’s debut novel, A Very Good Life, takes place in 1970s New York City. it has a timelessness to it. Dana McGarry is an “it” girl, living a privileged lifestyle of a well-heeled junior executive at B. Altman, a high end department store. With a storybook husband and a fairytale life, change comes swiftly and unexpectedly. Cracks begin to appear in the perfect facade. Challenged at work by unethical demands, and the growing awareness that her relationship with her distant husband is strained, Dana must deal with the unwanted changes in her life. Can she find her place in the new world where women can have a voice, or will she allow herself to be manipulated into doing things that go against her growing self-confidence?

A Very Good Life chronicles the perils and rewards of Dana’s journey, alongside some of the most legendary women of the twentieth century. From parties at Café des Artistes to the annual Rockefeller Center holiday tree lighting ceremony, from meetings with business icons like Estée Lauder to cocktail receptions with celebrity guests like legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Steward’s intimate knowledge of the period creates the perfect backdrop for this riveting story about a woman’s quest for self-fulfillment.

Purchase on Amazon.

Book Review: Crazy Quilt by Paula Paul

The last time I’d cried because of a book was years ago and the culprit was Marley and MeCrazy Quilt is such a different book yet so alike in many ways. Both deal with death and loss, both are incredibly moving stories, and both remind us how short and precious life is.

The story begins when our protagonist, Flora Adams, decides to visit her hometown of Lubbock, Texas, following her recent breast cancer treatment. In a way, she’s running away from a dull marriage and from her newly near encounter with death. However, unexpected events compel her to stay in Muleshoe, a little town in the New Mexican border. There, her life becomes entangled with a quirky, wise old man who’s dying of cancer and who’s being evicted from his home, as well as with his troubled teenaged granddaughter. By helping the old man through this difficult time and by becoming a mother figure to the girl, Flora is able, at least partly, to heal herself and deal with her own fears. Ultimately, she’s able to empower herself and find the courage to live her life to her full potential, based on what she really wants and needs and not on somebody else’s agenda.

I absolutely loved Crazy Quilt. Not only is the prose beautiful and interlaced with vivid images and perceptive observations about life and death, but the characters are so incredibly real and compelling that I felt myself there with them, sharing their emotions and tribulations. There are also segments and lines of dialogue that are straight-out funny and made me laugh out loud–a nice relief from the usual heavyness of the subject. This is a novel that will make you ponder, will make you cry and will make you have those “A-ha” moments. Once in a while a novel comes along that has so much substance it makes you think about your own life. This is one of those novels, and one you won’t forget in a long time. Highly recommended.

Visit the author’s website.

Purchase from Amazon or University of New Mexico Press.

My review originally appeared in Blogcritics.

Guest Post On the Elements of a Short Story by John Paul Jaramillo, author of The House of Order

I think I’m particularly interested in trouble. Folks getting in and out of trouble. The thing within folks that creates that trouble around them. Especially Latino males. Tom Spanbauer describes his style as dangerous writing. And I’ve tried to steal that for my stories. I think finding the trouble and putting the reader in an uncomfortable position along with the characters creates the most interest for the reader. So that’s one. I also think the language needs to mean more to the writer than the reader. That comes from my study of poetry. Tracy Daugherty told his workshop members that language is a character’s skin. I like that idea. We have to get inside of our character utilizing more and more intimate language. I guess that’s when I started using more and more mixing and switching of English and Spanish in my stories. To match the intimate language of the old folks from Colorado that influenced me and that best represent me. So that’s trouble and language. I guess the story must also be affecting. And I guess I mean that stories need to be less plot-driven and more driven by emotion. The best stories that I return to again and again are stories that give less plot and storyline but through the deep use of language and care for the main character makes me feel the most. The work has to be character driven and affecting to create a true immersible experience to compete with films and television and more visual mediums.

about the author

john-paul-jaramillo authorA native of Southern Colorado, John Paul Jaramillo now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He has an MFA in creative writing from Oregon State University, and presently holds the position of Associate Professor of English at Lincoln Land Community College.

His writing has been featured in Acentos ReviewCopper Nickel Review, Antique Children Arts Journal, Fogged Clarity Arts JournalDigest Magazine, Verdad Magazine, Polyphony Online, Paraphilia Magazine, Sleet Magazine and forthcoming in Palabra Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art. 

He’s the author of the short story collection,The House of Order, published by Anaphora Literary Press.

about the book

house of order

The House of Order, the first collection of composite stories by John Paul Jaramillo, presents a stark vision of American childhood and family, set in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Manito Ortiz sorts family truth from legend as broken as the steel industry and the rusting vehicles that line Spruce Street. The only access to his lost family’s story is his uncle, the unreliable Neto Ortiz.

Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Interview with Deb Elkink, author of ‘The Third Grace’

When author and city-slicker Deb Elkink fell in love and married an introverted cowboy, she moved from her bright lights to his isolated cattle ranch far off in the prairie grasslands. Still—between learning to pilot a light aircraft, sewing for a costume rental store, and cooking for branding crews of a hundred—Deb graduated with a B.A. in Communications from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN; she also holds an M.A. in Theology (both summa cum laude).

Her award-winning debut novel, THE THIRD GRACE, is set in the contrasting locales of Parisian street and Nebraskan farmyard, and incorporates Greek mythology and aesthetics with the personal search for self. Her writing has been described as “layered and sumptuous,” “compelling,” and “satisfying.”

Visit her website at

Friend her at Facebook at!/deb.elkink.

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

Thanks for your invitation. The Third Grace is my debut novel and, like the mommy of a first baby, I love talking about her!

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?

Greenbrier Books is a fairly new and small press out of North Carolina, introduced to me by my agent. It’s a royalty-paying house but not traditional in that it doesn’t stock store shelves, instead distributing high-quality print and eBook versions through most online booksellers. I’ve been satisfied with my inauguration into the publishing world, as Greenbrier has maintained a good and personal relationship with me, “holding my hand” through the whole scary process.

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

I signed the publishing contract in early July and the book was released five months later, on December 1, 2011.

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

I vividly recall holding the advance reader copy of The Third Grace in my hand for the first time. I’d been driving alone in my car after visiting my rural post office, with the package from the publisher still sealed shut on the seat next to me. I was thinking I’d wait till I got to town to fondle the book, but I was trembling with anticipation, and decided I’d better stop speeding and just pull over to open the box. When I caught sight of the glossy cover art and flipped the pages, while sitting there on the side of the highway, with semi-trailers screaming by and shaking the wind out of me, I couldn’t hold back—I jumped out of the car and whooped and danced with pure, unmitigated delight at seeing that novel in print. It was glorious! On a wintry evening a few months after that, with stacks of the official novel ready to sign, I celebrated with a proper book launch party at the finest arts venue in our small city. I invited the whole world to it, and allmost a hundred friends showed up (not bad, I thought). I wore very high heels and a clever little “fascinator” hat of black feathers and netting to set the tone.

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

Of course, I contacted local news outlets as well as announcing the publication on my social media sites. I began to promote The Third Grace through speaking engagements and signings. I also entered the novel in a contest and was delighted to receive a prestigious prize (the Grace Irwin Award of $5,000 for the “top pick” of entered books published in 2011), which has given me some exposure and also funds to hire a publicist.

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

My confidence has grown. I was raised under a prolific artist—my mom still paints almost every day, and her work is visually beautiful, able to be fully appreciated the moment the viewer sets eyes on it. But with a novel, it’s different. The reader needs to invest significant time in analysis, and this means the writer, breath held, must be patient in learning how the work will be received. The publication of The Third Grace—and especially the win of a significant literary award—has given me the gift of validation by my peers. I’m much more secure in my wiring abilities as I work on my second novel, believing in the likelihood of its publication. I expect the first novel to act as a stepping-stone for my next one.

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

Before I was a published author, I didn’t realize how rigidly the industry observed genre; that is, I thought that if I just wrote a “good” story, an editor somewhere would find it engaging and put it into print. You know—I believed that if I worked hard, I’d be rewarded. Not so! Many excellent books by fantastic writers remain unpublished. I now see the necessity of an agent to ensure that the manuscript—clearly labeled as to category and target market—is put into the hands of the correct publisher, in the proper format, at just the right time. Writing a good story is only the beginning of success!

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

At first blush, it’s the accomplishment of meeting a goal and the encouragement to keep on writing. And then, I admit to being a little surprised at the notoriety I suddenly have; starry-eyed strangers are asking for my signature! This means I have the new responsibility of properly representing myself and what I’m all about, because I now have a growing readership that will hold me accountable for my words and actions—an obligation I hold seriously.

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

I say: Go to a writers’ conference! Becoming connected with other “real” writers and agents and editors was instrumental in pushing me to complete the novel to industry standards and meet the practitioners who could get the book into print. I’ve found acquisition editors and agents and publicists to be eager and friendly—they’re honestly just looking for the next new author, and it might be you! But you need to go where they congregate.

Interview with David S. Grant, author of ‘Blood: The New Red’

David S. Grant is the author of ten books including Corporate Porn, Bleach|Blackout, Hollywood Ending, and Rock Stars. His latest novel, Blood: The New Red, is now available. David lives and writes his weekly rock, travel, and NBA columns from New York City.

For more information on BLOOD: The New Red please go to  Follow David on Twitter: @david_s_grant



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?

 BLOOD: The New Red is my tenth published book and my fourth with Silverthought Press.  I have also published books with Brown Paper Publishing, SynergEbooks, and Oak Tree Press.

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

Corporate Porn was my first book and was published by Silverthought Press.  The story intertwines two characters, one is a model turned adult film star named Mickey, who reappears as the lead narrator in my new novel, BLOOD: The New Red.

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?

I have gone through the slush pile process and from time to time continue to reach out to agents and major publishing houses.  I have found a home with Silverthought Press, an independent press that appreciates my writing.  I’m always impressed and pleased with the output of my books.  To answer your question, MANY rejection slips; thankfully, I never kept track though.

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

It’s frustrating for sure, and you have to decide if the time is worth it.  Really ask yourself what you are looking to get out of the process of writing and publishing your book.  If you are hoping to make a million dollars you may want to rethink your career choice.  I do believe that with anything in life, if you stay focused on a goal you can get there, in the end it’s really a question of what you want.

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

Silverthought Press was a new press (that had an online presence for years prior) that read my manuscript and wanted to make it part of their inaugural release.  Corporate Porn was published in hardcover format and can still be purchased as a hardcover through Silverthought Press.

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

I was very pleased with the editing and overall output of Corporate Porn.  My next book was a double novel titled Bleach|Blackout that had dual topsy-turvy covers.  It was really cool, but nothing compares to my latest book, BLOOD: The New Red.  The “grindhouse” cover really begins to tell the story of what’s inside.  I mean who doesn’t want to read about an ex-porn star returning to New York City to model and get mixed up with a crazy designer who may or may not “take out” Oprah Winfrey on the runway?

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

Probably a press release, I’ve dabbled in press releases, blog tours, and reaching out for reviews.  What I’ve found works the best is to establish an audience via a blog or online writing presence (writing a weekly column for example.)

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

No, there was a lot of luck in the timing and I am very grateful for the work of mine that has been published.

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

As mentioned earlier, BLOOD: The New Red is my tenth published book.  I’ve learned that being published is a very small part of the journey.  There is the writing process (most fun for me) and then the after published marketing which will take as much time as you have, plus more!

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?

20/20 hindsight I would have reached out to independent publishers first and not waste a large amount of time querying major publishers who are rarely interested in fiction from new authors.

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

My latest book is definitely my biggest up to this point.  With BLOOD: The New Red I’ve (hopefully) created an entertaining read that moves the reader quickly through the streets of New York and into a fashion world where sex is used as motivation, wine is served by the year, and cocaine is back in style.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

From a writing perspective, well, writing.  I enjoy the actual writing best, whether it’s jotting notes, creating an outline, or polishing prose, it’s all good to me!  Writing is cheaper than psychiatry, and MUCH cheaper!

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

Embrace the process, don’t quit, and remember the actual reward is in the writing.

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