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Interview with Middle Grade Fiction Author Fiona Ingram, author of ‘The Secret of the Sacred Scarab’

I can’t remember NOT having a book in my hand. My schoolmates called me a bookworm, and nothing’s changed since then. I was brought up on the children’s classics because my parents are also avid readers. My earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, I entertained my three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. We also acted out the stories for my long-suffering parents! I graduated from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, with a double first in my B.A. (French & Drama). After completing my Honors in Drama at Natal, I then went to the University of the Witwatersrand to do my Masters degree in French-African literature (graduated cum laude). I also studied drama at The Drama Studio in London and mime at L’Ecole Jacques le Coq in Paris. Upon my return to South Africa, I immersed myself in teaching drama at community centres, and became involved in producing community and grassroots theatre with local playwrights and performers in Natal for several years. A move to Johannesburg took me in a new direction—that of journalism. I have written freelance for the last fifteen years on everything from serial killers to relationship advice. Writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for my 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied me on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series, Chronicles of the Stone. I have already completed the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although I do not have children of my own, I have an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. My interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films.

Fiona’s latest book is the middle grade adventure novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab – Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Stone series.

Purchase ebook for $2.99 here!

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About The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!

Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has received the following awards:

  • Book Award Nominations & Wins:
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction  USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
  • Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
  • Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers’ Favorites Awards
  • Number 2 in the USA Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
  • Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
  • Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
  • Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
  • Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards

The Interview:

Thank you for this interview, Fiona. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?

My latest published book is The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, aimed at ages 9-13. A thrilling adventure for two boys, whose holiday to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient mysterious secret.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?

I do have plans for a new book. The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is the first in a middle grade adventure series entitled Chronicles of the Stone. I have completed Book Two, called The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and I am about to begin Book Three, called The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.

What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?

I began my writing career at age ten, making up adventures to entertain my three younger brothers and their friends. My four brothers and I would then write plays and act them out for my long-suffering parents. I graduated from university in theatre studies and actually went into theater and teaching drama. However, to the relief of my anxious parents, I finally gave up performing and got a ‘real’ job in journalism. I only wrote my first book after a trip to Egypt with my mom and my two young nephews. The Secret of the Sacred Scarab began as a short story to entertain them and then grew into a book and finally a book series. In the interim I have written two historical romances and collaborated on an historical Viking novel.

How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?

I had an idea that I discussed with the artist. The image of the scarab is based on a famous Egyptian artifact. The hardcover was designed and painted by Steven Felmore, a South African artist. The e-book cover was designed and painted by Lori Bentley, also a South African artist. Lori drew the interior illustrations and maps, as well as the visuals for the website. Lori is busy with the second book cover.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The scarab beetle is sacred in ancient Egyptian mythology and culture so it seemed appropriate. Egypt is a land of mystery and secrets, a place where curious kids would have the most fantastic time.

 Is there anything you would change about your book? And why?

No, I love it just as it is.

Do you have a book trailer? And what are your thoughts on book trailers?

Yes, I do have a book trailer and I am very proud that I managed to create it by myself! I love book trailers. It’s a chance for the author to add a creative touch to their book/s.

Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?

I am traditional and love either paperback or hardcovers.

 Are you a self-published / Indie author?

Yes, I am self-published. After being rejected by 35 British agents (who will naturally all regret turning me down when I am rich and famous!) I was so naïve I thought the only option left was self-publishing. However, I think I have learned about publishing from the bottom rung up!

Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?

My books are like old friends and I often reread them.

What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?

 I am reading two books right now. The Winds of War by Herman Wouk and Sourcery by Terry Pratchett. Both paperback.

 Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?

Don’t look back and don’t give up is the best advice I have been given. My publicist once said to me (when I was moaning about getting people to read my book), “All you need is one person to read your book. The right person.” He was correct. That one person can be the agent or the publisher or the movie maker who loves what you have to offer.

Patience, persistence, and self-belief are what you must cultivate. Cement the vision of success in your mind. Do not even contemplate the faintest idea of failure.

Make sure your book meets the industry’s standards. No one will bother with a poorly written, badly edited manuscript. Read other people’s work and subscribe to newsletters offering writing tips.

Above all, write your own story. You can pick up tips and advice from other people but your story is unique to you so keep it that way.

Where can your readers follow you?


Facebook page:

Goodreads author page:



Amazon: (Kindle)

(hardcover & paperback)



Watch the Trailer!

Interview with M.E. Patterson, author of ‘Devil’s Hand’

M. E. Patterson is an author of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and thrillers, as well as an information technologist. He received an English/Fiction Writing degree from Virginia Tech, where he studied under nationally-recognized writers and poets. He has published short stories on RevolutionSF and his first manuscript for his book, Devil’s Hand, placed in the top five in the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest.

You can visit his website at or his blog at

Connect with him on Twitter at mepatterson or Facebook at

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

Devil’s Hand is my first published novel. I have previously published a short story or two in some small venues.

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?

Devil’s Hand has been self-published. I wrote the first draft of the novel quite a few years ago and started down the traditional submission/query/rejection path with agents and editors. Seven revisions and many, many full reads later, it became clear that the market was changing so rapidly that a book like Devil’s Hand could potentially do as well, or better, through self-publishing channels. So I went that direction and haven’t looked back.

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

As a self-published book, it was really just a matter of days to finish tidying up the files and making the book available through Amazon, B&N, and Createspace.

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

It was gratifying to finally feel as though the work I had labored on for so many years was available for other people to enjoy. Even if only one or two people bought it, I was happy knowing that it was now out there. I didn’t do all that much to celebrate, short of having a beer and stepping away from the computer for a couple hours.

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

My initial marketing strategy involved quite a bit of Google Adwords ads, Facebook fan cultivation, and an email blast to everyone I’ve ever met. The latter sold quite a few books and garnered several reviews from people that I wasn’t even expecting to hear from. Google and Facebook had mixed results, though I’ve managed to cultivate a pretty solid Facebook fan group that I interact with regularly now.

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

It hasn’t been that long since the book hit the (virtual) shelves, so I can’t say I’ve changed all that much, though I have polished my marketing and self-promotion skills quite a bit.

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

I’m more amazed right now about the scale of change that’s occurring in the industry. Watching the wave of self-published and small/indie press books wash in on top of what has traditionally been a pretty exclusive club is really a neat experience. I like that we’re now seeing so many indie books garner solid fanbases and serious sales for indie authors.

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

For me, at least, it has to be building new relationships with readers. Having someone send you an email or a tweet telling you they just finished your story and loved it is extremely rewarding.

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

I could be cheesy and say “don’t stop dreaming” or whatever, but the truth is that it’s really hard and a ton of work if you want to build any reasonable size of audience. If you’re not up for either of those things, you might want to rethink the whole writing biz. That said, if those two obstacles don’t deter you, then the best advice I can give is to read, read, read, write, write, write and edit constantly. You’ll only get better.

Interview with Tamara Elizabeth: ‘I waited to publish on my 51st birthday as a celebration for another year traveled’

Tamara Elizabeth is a speaker, author, self love coach, radio host, a master motivator of women in transition, conductress of motivational seminars, professional photographer, small space designer, lover of social media, mother of 5, and a fabulously loveable woman after her first 50 years.  She is determined to create a revolution of women.

Tamara started her life over at fifty and believes that if she can do it, any woman can.  That’s when she decided to take her experiences and help others with her latest book, Fabulously Fifty and Reflecting It! – Discovering My Loveable Me.

I have 4 greatest accomplishments in my life – my 4 grown children.  My next greatest joy is my step son that I have had the honor of nurturing for the past 7 years.

Visit her website at

Follow her on Twitter at and Facebook at

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

I am proudly a first time published author

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 choose to go self-publishing with a Print on Demand company

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

I waited to publish on my 51st Birthday as a celebration for another great year traveled in my life.

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

I was so proud of my perseverance and dedication. This workbook was a very important goal as apart of a healing process in my own journey of traversing through a challenging transition.

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

I announced it on my website/blog and social media. Then I signed up for a virtual tour.

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

Once I saw it in print I realized I could do anything I put my mind to and have continued my writing with many spoons in my creative soup bowl. I am confident that absolutely anything can evolve into my next project – my fears are now abated.

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

 With all the different avenues for getting ones work published, anyone has the opportunity to provide the world with their gift of words put into amazing ideas. With the increasing ease it is to get any book you want from anywhere in the world why not try to take flight with publishing your dream if you so desire.

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

Right now just having so much fun being on virtual tour and learning so much about the book industry. I am loving it!

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

Your dream is a reality and only your imagination can prevent you from being published. If you have something to say share your gift – you owe it to the world to share your expertise no matter what it may be. Everyone has something important to satiate the minds of readers.


Lousy Gigs Make for Good Stories by Joseph Garraty

Lousy Gigs Make for Good Stories

By Joseph Garraty

Like one of the main characters in my novel, Voice, I play guitar in a local rock band. Also like that character, I’ve played a lot of crappy gigs. The similarity ends there—I’m generally a nice guy, and Stephanie Case is, well, neither of those things, and that’s just for starters. But the lousy gigs? That’s something that ties all rock musicians together. Every time I meet a new musician, we get to trade horror stories. A few examples:

1. I played a venue one time where the roof leaked. That’s not so bad, huh? Maybe it wouldn’t have been, if I hadn’t been standing in a puddle of water with an electrical cable running from the guitar I was holding to a 100-watt amplifier—which, I noted with horror about halfway through the show, was also standing in a puddle of water.

2. My band showed up to do a soundcheck at one venue, only to discover that the sound guy was in jail. I admit, that was so ridiculous it was kind of funny, and an episode inspired by that actually made it into Voice.

3. When one of my bands was just starting out, we got thrown out of a venue for not bringing enough people to the show. I’d never had that happen before (it was completely humiliating), but some of my friends later told me it was kind of normal at this particular establishment. The guy who ran it, Big Lou, bore a remarkable similarity in disposition and appearance to Jabba the Hutt, and he’d attained a reputation for being a complete jerk to most of the local musicians.

4. Three vocalists, one mic. Obnoxious? You bet. Funny to watch? Oh yeah. We fell all over each other trying to get to and from that mic stand. The bits with three-part harmony were particularly entertaining. I’m lucky I didn’t accidentally club someone to death with the headstock of my guitar.

That barely scratches the surface. I’ve also had to turn away a boatload of drug pushers, deal with an astonishing variety of equipment failure (nothing like screwing around with a bass amp that won’t work when you’re twenty minutes into the set you’re supposed to be playing), fight with sound guys that took an immediate dislike to me or somebody else in the band, and the list goes on and on. I’ve put on transcendent performances to empty rooms and mediocre ones to packed houses, and (occasionally) vice versa.

What does any of this have to do with writing? Atmosphere. Vibe. Voice, if you will. Verisimilitude. From the standpoint of research, Voice was one of the easiest things I’ve ever written, because I’ve experienced so much of that scene. And for me, there are few tableaus quite as evocative as the stage at a sleazy bar two minutes before showtime. The gear is set up, the lights are down, there’s maybe a half a dozen people nursing their drinks and shooting glances toward the stage, wondering what they’re in for. Just offstage, the band is tuning up.

And if I’m there, I’m grinning like a fool—because in these dark, out-of-the-way places, despite the grime and the horrifying bathroom, despite the drunk who won’t stop pawing you and the sound guy who turns you up until you feed back like crazy or turns you down until you can’t hear anything, and despite the fact that you’re about to bust your ass for two hours for six bucks, you never know when something magic might happen.

I guess I do have something else in common with Stephanie Case. We’re both made to play seedy dives.

I’m cool with that.

Joseph Garraty is an author of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He has worked as a construction worker, rocket test engineer, environmental consultant, technical writer, and deadbeat musician. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

His latest book is the horror novel, Voice.

You can visit his website at

Connect with Joseph at Twitter at

Gloria Oliver and How Zumaya Publications Changed Her Life

Zumaya Publications, a small press publisher based in Austin, Texas, and headed by the magnificent and articulate Elizabeth Burton, is celebrating its fifth year birthday this month (Happy Birthday Zumaya!) and as part of the birthday celebration, the authors would like to tell you how they were published by Zumaya to help you understand how important their small press publisher is to them.  Today we have as our guest, Gloria Oliver, who is going to talk about how Zumaya Publications changed her life.

How Zumaya Publications Changed My Life

by Gloria Oliver

Getting published is a tough business. I’d been trying for years, growing more and more horrified as slush pile waiting times grew to two years and up. I’d also finally caved in and admitted that networking and hobnobbing were pretty much a requirement, so I decided to get out there and fight my shyness as much as possible and give it a go.

I was very lucky and a SF/fantasy literary convention sprang up in the Dallas area called ConDFW . So I dragged myself to the thing and sat in on panels covering a huge variety of subjects on writing and cover art. I got to see actual published authors walking around in the flesh, sharing their wisdom and more.

One absolute bubble buster was the fact the industry had changed (and continues to do so!). It’d gone from the editors running the show to the marketing and the accounting folks making most of the decisions. This meant that something like In the Service of Samurai which I had thought was totally an unusual idea and therefore would sell (Japanese fantasy with undead ninjas and samurai), would now not necessarily be the type of thing they were looking for. They wanted books with sequels and molded sure sells — very similar to the direction taken by the movie industry.

I did a great wallflower impersonation by the water table and eavesdropped for all I was worth. I happened to overhear Selina Rosen talking to someone about doing a fencing match outside – authors fencing – ooo! So in a brisk chilly day (on which I forgot my jacket and almost froze parts off of my body), I watched several authors and fans go at each other with different types of swords. I made notes, took down names, continued to absorb.

By the time the weekend was over I had several resource websites, small publisher websites, and names to go out and find info on. Even got the reader side of me all a tizzy with local authors I could try whose stuff sounded fascinating – Carole Nelson Douglas, Rachel Caine, Martha Wells. So even though I was totally shy and barely spoke to anyone, I still came away with information and wisdom straight from the authors and cover artists as to the travails of the business. It was AWESOME!

So loaded with info I started looking at some of the names/places I got. One I checked out was Yard Dog Press, which is a small southwest publisher. These smaller outfits would publish things not considered by main stream publishers, and you didn’t have to wait YEARS to get a response, so I saw that Samurai still had a shot. I’d go small press! Yard Dog wasn’t reading at the time, but Selina was very encouraging.

Also, while I was there, I looked up Jeff Turner, an author who had been at ConDFW and who had a short story or two in some of the Yard Dog Press anthologies. From the news page I learned he would soon have a book out from Zumaya Publications. So off I went to check them out. (Back end networking!

Booyah! Didn’t have to talk to people, so this was sweet. Though I can email like a mad woman when I need to.)

Zumaya was open for submissions and all they required was a synopsis and sample chapters so…off went all three of my pending works. (This has most likely changed. Always read the submissions page!)

They accepted two! In the Service of Samurai and Vassal of El. YES!

Mind you this was when Zumaya was a Canadian Entity. It has now moved to Austin, TX and they’re celebrating 5 years as a US company this very month!

Zumaya itself has continued to evolve as the company scours for better ways to do everything! For my latest release, The Price of Mercy, I got to experience one of their newest developments – editing the books (Author and Editor) simultaneously online!

With all my other published books and short stories, the editing process was always very similar – once the work had been accepted and editing time came up, the publisher went through the manuscript then sent it back with the edits (normally by email sometimes regular mail) for me to review, make changes, and if necessary go another round.

Well, not this time! For The Price of Mercy I got to experience a whole new way of getting my manuscript edited. I’ve seen the future. And it is bright and interactive!

Using what technology is already out there, my editor prepped me up through Google Docs (where she’d uploaded the manuscript by chapter chunks) to do the novel’s edits. We went chapter by chapter in two hour blocks over a little less than three weeks time.

In Google Docs, we could both open the document and make changes AT THE SAME TIME! I could see where she was at all times (a little cursor with her name on the screen) and any edits she made as she made them. It even popped up a chat box beside the document so I could ask questions or vice versa!

There was even the ability to add a comment box on particular lines like you can with Word’s Track Changes feature.

As she’d explained before we started, the new process saved a lot of time as there was no lag between her edit and my accepting/rejecting/or questioning said changes as it all happened right there and then.

It truly went pretty fast!

The only thing I believe would have made it better would have been to be on Skype at the same time, as I occasionally didn’t realize she’d typed something or vice versa. (Ugh, she even did a horrible Sherlock Holmes joke on a typo of Lestrave’s name which I’d accidentally made to be Lestrade. She typed that sucker out before I could type out my own, “No, don’t do it!” lol.

But maybe it would be safer not to be connected by voice, or she would have heard me whine as she mercilessly slashed unnecessary words off the manuscript. (Though I suppose that’s what the Mute switch is for.) Heh heh. (Ah yes, editing pain never hurt so good!)

Overall it was a very eye opening experience and I think made the edit better besides. What made it more fantastic was that as we worked on this thing we were both in totally different cities (though same time zone), yet it made no difference. The future truly is bright! The world is also shrinking by the moment.

I’m proud to be a Zumaya Publications author as they lead the way!

Gloria Oliver lives in Texas towing the line for her feline and canine masters. She is the author of the novels “In the Service of Samurai”, “Vassal of El”, “Willing Sacrifice”, “Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles”, and her latest, “The Price of Mercy”, all in the Fantasy and YA Fantasy genres. Three of the novels were finalists in the EPIC ebook Awards and two in the Dream Realm Awards. She also has stories in “The Four Bubbas of the Apocalypse”, “Houston: We’ve Got Bubbas”, “Small Bites”, “Ripple Effect”, and “Ladies of Trade Town” anthologies. She is a proud member of both EPIC and Broad Universe.

When not busy working with numbers at work, she enjoys reading, writing, watching movies, and Japanese Anime. You can find Gloria at her blog, on Twitter, or even Facebook. To find out more about her, and for sample chapters and free reads, please visit her website

Purchase her latest book, The Price of Mercy at Amazon or the Zumaya Publications website.

Pump Up Your Book Announces L.L. Reaper’s ‘Black Widow and the Sandman Virtual Book Tour 2011’

Black Widow and the SandmanPump Up Your Book is proud to announce LL Reaper’s Black Widow and the Sandman Virtual Book Tour which begins June 20 and ends August 12 2011.

L.L. Reaper is two multi-published, award-winning authors who decided to write under a pen name for their dangerously sexy suspense series, Black Widow and the Sandman. Black Widow and the Sandman begins with children in Cuba suffering an agonizing death. The cause, a toxin released by a terrorist organization hell bent on genocide. The scientific community is at a loss, and the Cuban government can no longer hide the truth from its citizens. Cuba’s only chance lies in the capable hands of a reclusive scientist from the country they believe is behind this terrorist attack, the United States of America. Roman “The Sandman ” Tate is the most sought after mercenary in the world. When he is ordered to protect scientist Jeanette “Black Widow ” Mason, he finds she is much more than scientific equations. The two join forces to create an antidote and stop those responsible for the mysterious illness before more children die and Cuba follows through on its promise to retaliate.

Midwest Book Reviews says, “As genocide looms, hope may come in what you believe to be the enemy. “Black Widow and the Sandman” follows Roman Tate, a mercenary called the Sandman, as he protects Cuba’s only hope against a deadly biological weapon, an American scientist Jeanette Mason. A riveting novel of action, adventure and terrorism, “Black Widow and the Sandman” is a fun read that will be hard to pit down.”

Join the writing team as they tour the blogosphere June 20 through August 12 promoting their book. You’ll be able to find out more about the authors as well as winning free copies of their thriller suspense novel, Black Widow and the Sandman. Don’t forget to stop by and chat with them personally at the Facebook party at the end of the month. To find out where they’ll be heading, check out their tour schedule at Stop by and say hello. They love their fans as well as hearing from them!

You can visit L.L. Reaper’s official website at or connect with them at Twitter at and Facebook at

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book publicity for authors looking for maximum online promotion to sell their books. Visit our website at to find out how we can take your book to the virtual level!

In the Spotlight: ‘Eyewall’ by Buzz Bernard

Author: H.W. “Buzz”  Bernard
Title: Eyewall
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (April 15, 2011)

Eyewall takes you on a dramatic ride into the eye of a major hurricane and the lives of the people who challenge it. Major Arlen Walker is on his final mission with the Air Force Hurricane Hunters. As commander of a WC-130, he’s been tasked to recon Hurricane Janet just off the Georgia coast On paper, the flight looks like a milk run. In reality, it turns out to be anything but. Walker, having been briefed that the hurricane is weak, penetrates the storm hat low altitude. Too late, he realizes Janet has turned savage and that he’s chosen a death wish flight level. The hurricane pummels the plane. The aircraft, spewing fuel, limps into the calm eye but is so severely damaged, Walker cannot fly it out. He and his crew are trapped in the center of a catastrophic storm as it swirls toward the mainland.


A crippled Air Force recon plane, trapped in the eye of a violent hurricane.

An outspoken tropical weather forecaster, fired from his network TV job before he can issue a warning: the storm is changing course and intensifying.

A desperate family searching for a runaway daughter on Georgia’s posh St. Simons Island, cut off from escape as the hurricane roars toward them.

A marriage on the rocks; an unrequited sexual attraction; a May-December romance.

All will be swept up by the monster storm.

Get ready for a white-knuckle adventure.

Read the Excerpt!



Dead ahead of the aircraft, a massive redoubt of roiling clouds, the eyewall of Hurricane Janet, billowed toward the heavens and poked into the underbelly of the stratosphere. Between the aircraft, an Air Force Hurricane Hunter, and the towering wall, layers of white and gray clouds, innocuous outliers of the storm, cluttered the skyscape. But the eyewall itself was obsidian, foreboding.

Major Arlen Walker leaned forward in the pilot’s seat, scanning the sky through the cockpit windshield. Beads of cold sweat spotted his forehead. His muscles were tense, strangely alert to some undefined threat. It was as if he’d been awakened in the dark to the heavy creak of a floorboard, or the rustle of bushes outside a window when there is no wind.

He understood–or thought he did–that the probable source of his apprehension was not Janet but the strange events of the previous day. Thus, there should be no rational, no logical reason for his unease. Or was there? He stared at the barrier of clouds, trying to take their measure, guess at what lay within them. Janet was a mere category one, the lowest intensity on the rating scale, yet if you could judge a storm by its looks…. He spoke into the intercom, addressing the on-board weather officer, Captain Karlyn Hill. “Karlyn, this thing might have teeth. Is it still looking like penetration at 5000 feet?”

Her voice came back. “Yes, sir. The Hurricane Center said she’d still be a cat one on our first pass. If she isn’t, we’ll do the next fly through at 10,000. And kick the asses of those guys next time we see ‘em.”

Walker considered her words, her tone of voice. Whistling past the graveyard? Colonel Bernie Harlow, the copilot, didn’t think so. “Attaboy, girl,” he said. Walker gripped the aircraft’s controls and stared at his looming adversary. “Give me a heading, nav,” he said.

“Zero-four-five,” Major John Best called out.

Walker turned the aircraft to the new track, then glanced at the cockpit radar. They were minutes from the edge of the eyewall. On the radar, solid red and magenta returns indicated torrential precipitation. They were approaching a palisade of rain. “No way this thing is a one,” he said.

“Yeah,” Karlyn responded. She usually added a commentary or light-hearted one-liner before penetrating the eye of a hurricane. This time she didn’t.

The plane was doing a little dance now, a constant jiggle as it barreled toward the bulwark of bruise-colored clouds.

“Winds are going up fast,” Karlyn said.

“Is there a better way in?” Walker asked.

“Don’t see one.”

“Break it off, Major?” Colonel Harlow asked.

“Negative. Let’s do the mission. It’s not a cat five.” Harlow was testing him.

“Let’s hope,” Best chimed in.

“‘Half a league, half a league, half a league onward. All in the Valley of Death rode the six hundred,” Harlow recited, holding his gaze on the eyewall.

“What’s that?” Walker asked.

“Tennyson. ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade.’ The Brits. Crimean War.”

“If I recall my history, that didn’t end well.”

The plane rattled more sharply now, the jiggle lapsing into a hard shake.

“No. It didn’t.” Harlow looked at him. And in his eyes, Walker caught a flicker of doubt, something he’d never seen before.

Watch the Trailer!

Here’s what critics are saying about Eyewall!

“Buzz Bernard bursts on the scene with EYEWALL, a compelling and suspenseful tale told with the insight and authenticity of one who has walked in the world of the famed Hurricane Hunters and endured the harsh realities of a major, devastating storm. Great characters combine with razor-sharp suspense and leave you breathless. A one-sitting, white-knuckle read.”

–Vicki Hinze, award-winning author of DEADLY TIES

Buzz Bernard conjures up one satisfyingly suspenseful situation after another in this novel. EYEWALL has all the adrenal intensity of a roller coaster combined with intricate plotting, compelling characters, and a larger-than-life situation expertly handled. This jewel of a thriller founds itself on character complication in the midst of an all-too-believable natural disaster that will keep you turning pages to its exciting conclusion. There is nothing calm at the eye of this perfect storm of a book.

–Brian Jay Corrigan, J.D. Ph.D.

A well-crafted tale you can’t put down; characters you care about; a spot-on insiders look at hurricane forecasting and flying.

–Jack Williams, author and founding USA TODAY Weather Editor

You can pick up your copy of Eyewall online at Amazon by clicking here.

Interview with ‘Recovery’ Alexandrea Weis

Alexandrea Weis began writing at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. After several years in the medical field, she decided to pick up the pen again and began her first novel To My Senses. Since that time she has writen several novels and sold two screenplays (White River and Blood Will Tell). Blood Will Tell is currently in pre-production with Buyer Group International. Her work has been critically acclaimed and is continually growing in popularity.

Her most recent book is Recovery, the second novel in the Nicci Beauvoir series which takes readers on a Big Easy thrill ride when a lover’s murder is solved and a spy with a bulletproof bravado quickens Nicci’s broken heart.

Alexandrea is also a permitted wildlife rehabber and works rescuing orphaned and injured animals. She recently has been working to aid oil soaked birds in the Gulf disaster.

You can visit Alexandrea’s website at or connect with her on Twitter at and Facebook at!/pages/To-My-Senses/113609858681394.

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

 This is my second novel. The first, To My Senses, garnered numerous book awards and was well received by the critics. Recovery is my second novel in the Nicci Beauvoir 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 was self-published. I tried the usual route of getting an agent and sending out queries until I was blue in the face. I decided to self-publish to see if I was really any good as a writer. I learned so much from that experience, especially from other authors. Self-published authors for a long time were considered the bastard children of the publishing world, but that has changed a great deal in the past few years. More and more mainstream publishing houses are turning to self-published authors because they are experienced, have well crafted novels, and have proved they are serious about their writing.

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

About six to seven months from the time I signed the contract to the time of publication.

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

It was a relief actually to be published at first. I thought, maybe now I can finally discover if I can do this or not. Then I started getting great reviews and requests for more information about my next book. That is when I realized that maybe I could pursue writing.

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

I sent out books to reviewers, took out ads in industry magazines, and placed the book in a few writing competitions. After that, word of mouth took over. Four years later my first book, To My Senses, is still growing an audience.

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

I take myself more seriously now. I never thought of myself as a writer before To My Senses. I was just a nurse who wrote a little fiction on the side. Today, I think of myself as a writer. That has probably been the greatest change in my self-awareness. I was always scientific in my thinking prior to publishing my first novel. But I have learned to finally embrace my creative side, and allow it to flourish.

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

What surprised me was how much business, and how little creativity, is actually in the industry. In medicine, when presented with a new disease or set of symptoms, we tend to embrace the challenge. But in the book business, format and formula are the mainstay of publishing. Publishers are more concerned about how a novel fits into a certain mold than admiring the unique creativity in that story. I find many in the publishing world rarely think outside of the box. However, it is the readers who are clamoring for more diverse and creative stories. I have heard many readers say that for every good book they read, there are about five they could not get through.

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

Without a doubt, having my stories embraced and loved by the readers. When someone tells me how much they loved To My Senses or Recovery, it makes all the pains of publishing that book worth it.

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

Never stop writing. As long as you are writing you are growing as a writer. It is when you stop and give up on your dreams that your dreams will die. As long as you believe in yourself, you will find others who believe in you as well.

Visit other stops on Alexandrea Weis’ virtual book tour by clicking on banner!

Interview with G.F. Skipworth: ‘…by being the one who dares put it out there, you’re the brave one’

G.F. Skipworth has toured much of the world as a concert pianist, symphonic/operatic conductor, vocalist and composer, but also worked in speech, comedy and academic writing. Educated at Whitman, The Peabody Conservatory, Harvard and UCLA, he sat down to compose a while back, but a four-volume fantasy series came out instead. Moving to historical fiction, Stormfield-Tales from the Hereafter, based on Mark Twain’s final work, was released last year. Skipworth acknowledges his latest release, The Simpering, North Dakota Literary Society, to be his favoritea tongue-in-cheek work set in the otherwise grim year of 1919. “Simpering” is available at, and from almost every major online seller worldwide. You can find out more about his book at

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

The Simpering, North Dakota Literary Society is my seventh book, and my second of historical fiction.

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

My first book, which is also published, is entitled Shindaheen, and although it was the first, I’m still fond of it. The series was completed with Fire and Iceland, Three Roads to Waitsburg and Airna of Karapin. Shindaheen is a non-dungeon/dragon fantasy set between the Pacific northwest  and several off-world locations. Since I didn’t really know the ropes at that time, it took a tremendous effort to design, finish and edit it. Things have become increasingly easier since.

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 went down the middle from the very beginning, creating a small publishing house from a pre-existing business of thirty years, dealing in large-scale classical concert management.This parallels the difficulty in getting started as a musician. You need the management to get the press, and the press to get the management. By doing it yourself with a legitimate organization, that paradox can be broken.

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

Publishing through a pre-existing business, the rejection is moved to the realm of reviews. As a musician, I’ve been reviewed all my life, and have put certain things into perspective. The “like/don’t like” review without an accompanying thoughtfulness is lost on me – a cow can tell me that. The weekend amateur reviewer who enjoys the rush of cruelty is meaningless, and there’s no honor or talent in that. Likewise, the gusher can be helpful, but one has to be careful not to buy into it too much. All responses are considered for merit, and taken with a grain of salt. Now that I’m more experienced, it’s not so bad.

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

Rosslare Press (of Rosslare Arts International) had a thirty year record of efficiency and thoroughness from all its staff. There are so many parallels between music and writing that it was a natural segue.

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

It’s a special reward in itself, because it allows you to visit earlier times when everything was new – the first bicycle, the first composition, the first recording – the first book. The tactile experience of the book can make a child out of you for a day or two.

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

The literary management wing of Rosslare had me in a string of Pacific Northwest libraries before the ink was dry, and there was a huge push to list the book everywhere on the internet. Even they were subject to a learning curve, however, and it takes quite an effort to get that title into people’s minds so that they will seek it out.

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

No – In the same way I broke the impossible pattern by creating an artist management agency, the same thing is possible in literature. It’s an exhausting process, but I hope one that will begin to run itself. I was fortunate to have a truly professional editor with a lengthy fiction, non-fiction and academic list to her credit.

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

The Simpering, North Dakota Literary Society is my seventh novel, and I believe that my naturalness of dialect is starting to smooth out. I grew up in a humorous, warm but linguistically formal family (Trust me –  you don’t want to be a first-grader who says things like shan’t and daren’t.) My upper crust characters who have trouble dealing with the larger world are easy assignments, but to write dialogue for the plain-talking next-door neighbor is not always second nature.

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?

In terms of the actual writing, I knew nothing about the publishing business, formatting or lines of inquiry. In this respect, the music industry was different enough to leave me in ignorance. I looked at the odds and bypassed the large houses entirely, and was so leery of the “come hither” publishers that my natural instinct to trust myself came to the front, despite the learning that would have to take place. Doing it over, I would begin the same way, but would seek the help of a high profile internet wizard, letting him or her go at it as one person selling only one author’s books.

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

I would characterize the time as a series of very small, accumulative achievements. As the writing gets tighter, response has risen. One or two award nominations have come about. Libraries across the U.S. have expressed interest in several of the works, especially Simpering and Shindaheen. More ambitious future projects are taking shape.

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

If I could start over, remembering my life as a musician, which has been very satisfying, I would tend toward astronomy, cosmology, physics. The first time around, I had to do what I did. There was no other life I wanted. I’ve been on stage three times a week since the age of eight. Time to be the first concert pianist on Mars.

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

Music and literature form a beautiful combination, and I work in both simultaneously with no difficulty. In fact, at times, they overlap significantly. Now that I’ve written “Winterreise – Winter Journey” on the twenty four poems of Franz Schubert’s song cycle of the same name, I will record the cycle this fall as both pianist and singer. The CD will be sold with the book.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

Living a less hectic but fuller musical and literary life. More solitude, more writing. I have already traveled much of the world under the stress of concert tours. Now, I’d like to do it again, not as a tourist, but as an interested visitor seeking the flavor of every culture.

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

Don’t even pause in your writing at the sound of rejection. No author can capture the hearts of every reader. Use the good reviews, but don’t get giddy over them. Continue to perfect and subject your work to authentic criticism. Your imagination is exempt from right and wrong. You’re just trying to match it with like minds who buy your book, the same way we develop friendships. Remember that by being the one who dares put it out there, you’re the brave one – no apologies necessary, to anyone…ever.

Interview with Terry M. Drake ‘Live Happily, Ever After…Now!’

Terry M. Drake is a Licensed Social Worker, National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Certified Trainer of Ericksonian Hypnosis and Nero-linguistic Programming (NLP).  He has spent the last 15 years learning about himself and others, through his academic studies resulting in his MSW, his professional studies, as a family therapist, program director and his vast training and research into hypnosis, NLP, the law of attraction and positive psychology.  Terry, also has a wealth of personal experiences related to depression and addiction, which he shares in his writings and work with others.  Terry is currently a Director of mental and behavioral health programs for a non-profit agency, a Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in private practice, as well as author, speaker and consultant.

Terry is also author of the self-help book, Live Happily Ever After…Now!

Terry’s email address is, his website address is and his blog is also on this site, as well as more information about him and his book Live Happily, Ever After… Now!

On twitter @terrymdrake or become a fan at Live Happily, Ever After Now! On facebook.

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

Live Happily, Ever After… Now! Is my first published work, although, I already have two more books just waiting to be put on paper.  I plan to start working on my next book later this month.

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

Live Happily, Ever After… Now! and it’s being published by Lake House Publishing.

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 didn’t bother submitting the manuscript for rejections, as I found in my research that rejections are common and I decided to go straight to self-publishing.  I even started my own publishing company, Lake House Publishing.

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

I avoided the rejections to my manuscript by self-publishing, but I didn’t avoid constructive criticism.  My first draft needed help and looking back I’m actually embarrassed by it.  My first critique was very helpful and brutally honest, it stung a bit, but I went right back at it.  I used the criticism constructively and it really helped.

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

Lake House Publishing, because I’ve heard great things about them.  As previously mentioned I started my own publishing company, so I could have more control over the whole process.

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

It felt and feels great to be published.  To finally have completed the whole process and see your work for the first time, it’s awesome!  However, I then began focusing on the marketing and publicity, not fully celebrating yet.  I am waiting to celebrate once the whole process has unfolded a bit more and then my wife and I will do something special.

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

I started a facebook page and contracted for a virtual book tour.  Through all my research social networking and online marketing sounded like the best way for a busy professional, who is just breaking into the field to get the exposure and publicity needed to build a brand, so that’s the way I decided to go.

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

No, it wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot of valuable information and the experience will help me with my next book, as well as depending on what direction I decide to take with my publishing company I use the information to help other new authors.

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

I have not, as I just finished Live Happily, Ever After… Now! I do have a few ideas and am going to start working on my second book later this month.

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?

I could have paid better attention to detail.  I am not a very detailed person, so the details that go into the formatting of the book and the use of technology to speed up the process were areas I needed to pay closer attention to.  I learned the hard way and spent some time re-doing things and learning what I could have researched and implemented from the beginning.

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

Getting started on my marketing and publicity of the book.

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

I wouldn’t have chosen a different profession.  I became a social worker and family therapist, which I was meant to be.  Now I can share this information with others, as a writer and speaker, hopefully helping others become happier and more successful in their lives.

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

I have combined the best of both worlds, as I have just become an author with a wealth of knowledge and experience, that I want to share with others.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

Ten years, wow!  Well, I see myself looking healthy and happy, enjoying my career as a speaker, consultant and author, as well as balancing it with an active and fun social and family life.

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

A quote that I use in my book and is from the great American Inventor Thomas Edison, who by the way was a phenomenal person and understood that you can accomplish whatever you want, as long as you take steps to make it happen and enjoy the whole experience.

“Many of life’s failures are by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

You can find more quotes like this or the inspiration and formula you need to succeed in getting published, as well as being successful in everything you choose to do in Live Happily, Ever After… Now! Visit and learn more.

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