Friday, June 21, 2013

Excerpt & Giveaway: Christopher McPherson

          James Murray is a young man with a dream -- he wants to be a writer just like his idol, Dashiell Hammett -- but there's a Depression on, and he's the only one in his family with a job. Even though it's a good job -- clerking in the Junior Boy's department at the swankest new department store in downtown Los Angeles: Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth -- it's not writing. At the end of one typical day at work, there's a scream. James rushes toward the sound and finds his best friend -- co-worker Elizabeth "Bess" Flowers -- apparently shot and lying dead in the Better Furniture department. He finds a note in her purse telling her to be in front of the Orpheum Theater at 5:30 "or else." 
          He looks at his watch: it's nearly that time now. Was she shot by a person she refused to meet? Or by someone who wanted to make sure she didn't make the meeting? James decides to keep the date in front of the theater where, with the help of his good friend, screen-star Charles "Buddy" Rogers, he begins a whirlwind ride through the crepuscular depths of downtown Los Angeles, trying to solve Elizabeth's murder. "Murder at Eastern Columbia" is not like any book you've ever read: Not a single novel, it's two parallel novels, featuring two heroes, working two murders in two different versions of 1930s Los Angeles. 
          Join James and his alter ego as they each try to solve the murder of the girl with sorrel-colored hair. His hard-boiled alter ego -- neither a private detective nor a police officer: just someone "who wants to help" -- needs to find out who's trying to pin the murder on him, but finds himself in a jam: "Yeh. Strawberry preserves. All the way up to my neck." Two men in two stories work their way through downtown Los Angeles following clews, interviewing people who might know something, going from location to location, with one goal in mind: find out who might have wanted the girl dead. Along the way they meet a rich cast of characters including the notorious gangster, a gorgeous raven-haired dame, the beautiful young boy whose love is his undoing, a young doctor whose specialty is cancer research, the cleaning lady with a secret addiction, the struggling piano player who just wants to keep his nose clean, the gum-popping pawn-shop clerk and the sultry Chinese apartment manager who tries to hide behind the mysteries of the Orient. "Murder at Eastern Columbia" is filled with twists, turns and a climactic scene along the dizzying heights of the observation deck atop the brand new Los Angeles City Hall. Come along for the ride in this James Murray mystery: the story of a young guy, a kid really, who dreams of something better.         

Murder at Eastern Columbia, a James Murray mystery, takes place in downtown Los Angeles in 1931. In this excerpt, one of the main characters talks to a friend of hers over breakfast about a trip she took with her now-dead sister -- and how they met the man she believes killed her sister.

"Both of us -- my sister and I -- wanted so bad to see Paris. Father sold one of our cars and managed to scrape up enough money to get us there and back, with a little left over for accommodations and food. It wasn't a lavish trip by any means, but we didn't care. We wanted to be in Paris more than anything else in the world, so Father sent us.

"We had a wonderful time. Met some wonderful people. One of them was a gorgeous French model. She took us under her wing. Showed us everything that made Paris so beautiful. We all became fast friends. She was supposed to be coming back to America on the same ship. Something happened at the very last minute -- I think she got a booking for a Vogue magazine cover shoot -- and she ended up having to take a later sailing. In the confusion, all of her bags were left on board our ship. There was no time to take them off, so she gave us the claim checks and asked us to make sure the bags arrived in America safely. She even gave us a couple hundred French francs for our trouble.

"Well, it was hardly any trouble, if you know what I mean. Think of it: two poor American girls, third class on a beautiful ocean liner, making the sailing across to America. My sister always had more ambition than I did. She took the extra francs the model had given us, marched right up to the purser and upgraded us both from third class to the finest first class suite we could afford. I was shocked, but it was all pretty exciting.

"She gave our room attendant the claim checks and had all the model's trunks brought to our suite. You should have seen her face when she opened them up: there were fabulously expensive Chanel dresses, Vionnets, Poirets, dresses by Molyneux and Lelong, entire suits by Schiaparelli and Mainbocher, and a separate leather bag filled with exquisite Hermes silk scarves. Hermes silk scarves! Can you imagine? It was all the best of the best of French couture right there in our suite. My sister spent hours trying on everything -- and then the idea hit her: she would have her hair and nails done at the ship salon and then go to dinner dressed in one of these sumptuous outfits! I was against it, of course, but she would hear none of it. So, she did just that and we went to dinner that evening.

"I have to admit, she looked stunning. She had chosen a fantastic dark-green satin Mainbocher, with an inset chevron in light green right at the waist. It came with an ermine-trimmed cape. Oh, with her red hair, it was amazing. She was perhaps the most beautiful woman at dinner that night. I didn't dare to wear one of the model's outfits, so I stuck to my own clothing, but I still looked good."

I looked up at her and smiled. "I'm sure you did," I offered.

She smiled back, then continued.

"When she came down the stairs into the main dining room, you could hear all the conversation stop as people turned to look at her. In fact, a few of the men stood and began applauding at her entrance. Soon, the entire room was applauding. I think they thought she was a famous actress or something, the attention she got.

"After dinner, there was dancing. She was the most popular woman on the ship that night. All the wealthy young rou├ęs fluttered around her like so many moths to a bright flame. She asked for a cigarette and was given ten. She asked for a light and was met with a blazing fire of lighters and matches. I was happy for her because she was happy. But then, he came up to her."

"Marco?" I asked, wiping my mouth and taking a sip of coffee.

"Yes. He approached her and the other fellows retreated fast. He had a reputation even aboard that ship. Once he made his claim on her, no other man dared to approach her. It was the start of a ship-board romance that lasted the rest of the trip. She had no shortage of fine outfits to wear and she wore them all. After that first night, I rarely spent time with her. How could I? She was always with him. I saw her across the crowded dining room, or on the deck, or at the symphony, but she was almost never without him at her side. I was worried, but she seemed so happy. It was the last time she was going to be that happy."


Christopher Mcpherson also has a contest going on via his Facebook page. One person will get an Amazon gift certificate, a celebrity photo, a box of note cards and an autographed paperback copy of the book. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Interview: Henry Herz

          First-time author Henry Herz is a management consultant by day, and a children's book writer and crime fighter by night. His son Josh is a middle-school student who likes doing parkour and collecting LEGO. His other son Harrison is an elementary school student who loves playing basketball and video games. Both are big fans of The Lord of the Rings, the annual Comic-Con convention, and have an entrepreneurial bent. With technical assistance from their dad, they started three web-based businesses selling LEGO party favors, custom cast bases for Warhammer, and painted concrete yard sculptures.
          They are (distant) relatives of Madeleine L'Engle, whose book "A Wrinkle in Time" was ranked #3 on the top 100 children's books of all time by Scholastic's Parent & Child Magazine. Writing must be in the DNA!

Favorite Reads? 
          No fair! That's like asking me to list my favorite foods. There are too many to fit in a post. What comes to mind first are Lord of the Rings, Where the Wild Things Are, and Shogun.

Inspirations for the book?
          I wanted to get my kids interested in reading fantasy. They were too old for Where the Wild Things Are, and too young for the Hobbit. So, I decided to draft something myself. The storyline is a journey, where the fuzzy protagonists have to overcome obstacles to reach a safe destination. 

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
          Definitely not. Originally I wanted to drive a garbage truck because that looked cool to my young eyes. Happily, my preferences evolved with time.

Any Pet Peeves?
          People without integrity (not to be confused with Doctors Without Borders) probably top the list.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
           Vanilla. And while we're on the subject of treats, I'm very upset that Egg Nog isn't available all year round. I guess I should add that to my list of pet peeves...

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
            I've walked on broken glass and swallowed fire. And lived to tell the tale. Really.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
           We've not thought about a soundtrack for Nimpentoad, although Can't Find My Way Home by Blind Faithr would be a good choice. Some of my favorite musical artists are Joe Bonnamassa, Dave Matthews, The B-52s, Jethro Tull, and Depeche Mode. Yes, I know that's an eclectic mix.

Do you need anything to write? 
          Just a computer with internet access (dictionary, thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, Google images & wikipedia are all very handy). But chocolate couldn't hurt.

How long do you write on any average day?
          It varies from one to three hours. My day job pays the bills, so it gets precedence for now.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
          Remember, it's an early chapter book aimed for kids 6-9. They love the adventure and the illustrations. Parents like that the story discourages bullying and promotes teamwork and creativity. Parents also appreciate the meta-story of two kids helping write and promote the book.

Author Info:
Nimpentoad website: (you can buy signed copies there)
Henry's blog:
Twitter: @Nimpentoad 

Inline image 1A children's fantasy book telling the tale of the courageous and resourceful little Nimpentoad, who leads his tribe of Niblings through the perilous Grunwald Forest, overcoming obstacles and encountering strange creatures along the way. Kids aged 5-10 enjoy the adventure and stunning illustrations. Parents appreciate a story that discourages bullying, and emphasizes teamwork, creativity, perseverance, and leadership.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis

Cover Blurb:
There are worse things than death, worse people too.
The "talk" was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they're a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn't until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

          Persephone was very easy to identify with, despite how *Ahem* unusual her circumstances were. When I started reading, I was a bit apprehensive that this book would turn into another pile of disgustingly artificial mush, with another teenage girl battling angst and hormones as she takes on problems. And there's nothing wrong with that once in a while, but this book was so much more enjoyable for having emotionally grounded characters. Persephone was believable and likable as she struggled with coming to terms with her situation. I felt there were a few times she could have acted more maturely, but I loved that she didn't immediately fall into the stereotypical kick-butt girl category  Oh, she was no pansy to be walked upon, but she wasn't unnaturally invulnerable either. She became a very real and unique character. I also appreciated how well developed Hades character was. Seriously, never thought I'd learn to love Hades, and, even though the relationship between Persephone and Hades hinted of insta-love, I could buy it.
Characters: 4.4 Stars
          I would classify this as a lighter, pool-side read, but it was definitely not straight fluff. The world was very well thought out. Not only were their no plot holes (which is always nice), but there were no plot excuses either! Plot excuses being defined as exciting plot developments that provide a good story but lack any true reason for existing (e.g. Captain America being forced to crash land his jet in an icy wasteland. Dramatic? Yes. Necessary? Not so much. Plot excuses appear in movies all the time, and don't get me started on a recent NYT Bestseller I've read.) I started reading and couldn't put it down, because it was fun, exciting, and the plot made sense. Every action had motivation. There was no meaningless meandering. The easiest most-direct route was taken. The story-line felt genuine. The ending was completely satisfying, but, needless to say, I will be looking up the sequel as soon as I'm done with this review!
Plot: 4.7
          This book has a very light, easy style. The story was neither forced, nor drawn out to ridiculous lengths. I didn't feel like any word was were it was simply to take up space. There was enough story there to fill the whole book, and I could relax without getting shunted out of the tale by discontinuities. I found Kaitlin Bevis' writing witty and refreshing.
Style: 4.3 Stars

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: from author for review
Genre: Fantasy
YA Fiction

Author Info:
Facebook--Kailtin Bevis


Friday, June 7, 2013

Cover Reveal: Choke by S. R. Johannes

'Choke is the 2nd in The Breathless Series of sci-fi novelettes and the sequel to Suffocate.

The two novelettes will be available on ebook only for 99 cents!  The 3rd novelette in the series, Exhale, is scheduled for Nov/Dec 2013 just in time for the holidays.

Fans of Wool, Never Ending Sky, Mila, or Across the Universe will love this mini-series.'

When Eria escapes her home in the Biome, she uncovers more about her
features and specifications as a HumaNot. Following her father's
instructions, Eria embarks on a journey into a dangerous and unpredictable world.
Along the way, she encounters a young rebel, Dirk, who explains he's from the Anarchy, an underground human resistance rising up against the BOTs--advanced man-made robots gone wild. Together, Dirk and Eria battle underground serpents, desert dingos, sand storms, and advanced Bots that are always hot on their trail. As they become closer, Dirk reveals his hatred of machines, forcing Eria to hide
the secret of what and who she really is.
When the truth of her identity comes out, Eria is forced to become the very thing she hates the most.

Award-winning author of Amazon Bestselling thriller, Untraceable.

Find S. R. Johannes on 
PinterestTwitterFacebook or her blog!
Choke is available starting June 24th.