Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This Week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview Tori Martinez, author of The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Listen live today at 3:30 at, or listen to the recording any time after the show.

Many people think they know the story of King Edward VIII giving up his throne for the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson, in 1936. The truth is: politics and innuendo clouded that story from the very beginning, with the result that few people really understand who The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were and what forces propelled them to their infamous fate. The Royal W.E. by Victoria Martínez examines the individual and intertwined lives of Wallis and Edward – or “W.E.” as they referred to themselves – and provides readers with unique glimpses of the real people, as opposed to the sensationalized characters, that were The Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Tori can be found at her personal website,, and her Arbitrary History Blog at

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview Stephen L. Brayton, author of the novel Beta . Join us Wednesday, December 21st at 3:30 at for the live podcast, or listen to the recording any time after the show.

Private Investigator Mallory Petersen, a fourth degree black belt with her own taekwondo school in Des Moines, Iowa, splits her time between teaching martial arts and her often inane cases. It's not that she wants bad things to happen to people, but it makes life more interesting when they do.

When Mallory accepts a case to find Cheryl McGee’s kidnapped eight year old daughter, she is pulled into the dark underworld of child pornography. The trail soon leads to the Quad Cities, where Mallory partners with an officer from the Special Case Squad.

As the investigation deepens, Mallory discovers there’s more to the girl's disappearance than her client let on.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Guest post from Donna Anastasi: The Gerbil Room

Today we have a guest blog from Donna Anastasi as part of her virtual book tour with Walker Author Tours for her book, Spin the Plate. Let's get a little insight on what this author does when she's not writing or working!

Donna Anastasi Guest Blog: The Gerbil Room

My day job is as an interaction designer with positions in recent years with some of the top “Fortune” companies like Fidelity in Boston, McKesson, and Liberty Mutual. My current job is with a growing company whose radio blast you’ve likely heard. I haven’t yet told them of my secret life: my life as a crazy gerbil lady. I got my first gerbils at this time of year in 1999, shortly after a car-totaling accident. I was on my way to an office Christmas party one evening. For some reason my husband couldn’t go. I was on my way to pick up a girlfriend who I worked with when a newly licensed 16-year-old with a car full of friends came to a T in the road and didn’t realize she had a stop sign and plowed into me. My car was spinning around and I got hit by the airbags. Before I slammed into the stone wall, I really thought that might be it.

About a week later, I was still in the woozy state of mind that follows that kind of accident. I took my two then young girls to a pet store and thought, hmmm…this might be a good time to get a couple. My husband was out of town, and why not? Why not just do the thing you want to do rather than throwing up excuses all the time on why it is you shouldn’t. I’d always wanted gerbils, so I let my girls pick out two. One for each. Over time we got more. We got a boy from a pet store who, with one of the girls, produced our first (very colorful) litter of babies. I was hooked. The next gerbil we got from Texas, bringing with him the gene for Siamese coloring (like a Siamese cat) into this part of the country.

Now I have many gerbils.

Most of my gerbils I’ve bred myself. My three or four favorites have taken years. I’ll see a gerbil in a book or a small animal show and then the image of that gerbil is seared in my mind. I’ve never taken a picture; I don’t need to. Then I’ll travel the country and mix the genetics needed for the entirely and jet black gerbil, the schimmel (orange tailed white) whose genes almost died out in the country, or the holy grail of gerbil: variegated, where the spotted extends through the body and tail and color gets mixed up into the white collar.

One thing that I like about the gerbils is that with a high-responsibility, demanding, stressful job. I find it relaxing to spend time with the gerbils. I also find as a full-time employee, mother, and wife there is always someone who wants my time. Have you ever seen in the grocery store those spring loaded milk or orange juice cartons – I don’t know why but that is what it makes me think of – no matter how many tasks you complete another follows right behind and snaps into place. So the secret is to throw in a few cartons of your own. Fill up the time because God knows if you try sitting quietly with a book or exhibit any other sign of perceived idleness, you will be hunted down within two to four minutes. But if you are “busy” with something, those around you wait for you to finish before hounding you. When I escape into the gerbil room, when I’m cleaning cages and playing with the babies, for some reason, no one seems to bother me. It is a place of quiet, no demands, a tiny joy-fix, a little magic. A room of my own.

See YouTube for a video blog - me in the gerbil room:

Thanks to Donna Anastasi for stopping by! Purchase your copy of Spin the Plate.

Monday, December 12, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview Karina Fabian, author of Mind Over Mind and several other books. Listen live this Wednesday at 3:30 Pacific Time, or listen to the recording any time after the show is over, at

Deryl Stephens' uncontrollable telepathic abilities have landed him in a mental health institution, where no one believe in his powers.

Joshua Lawson, a summer intern at SK-Mental Institute, does something no one else has ever done: he accepts Deryl's reality and teaches him to work with it. As Deryl learns control, he finds his next challenge is to face the aliens who have been contacting him psychically for years--aliens who would use him to further their cause in an interplanetary war.

Read my review of Mind Over Mind!

Learn more about Karina at

Sunday, December 4, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book, Jennifer will interview Michael Allen. Michael Allen is the author of A Danger to Society and When You Miss Me, the first a novel and the second a children’s book, both of which he has written from real life experiences. He has also written several screenplays that are in post-production and will soon be released.

Listen live Wednesday, December 7 at 3:30 Pacific Time at, or listen to the recording any time after the show.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Author Interview: Jennifer Hurst

Today's interview is with Jennifer Hurst, author of Fall.

Bio: Jennifer grew up in a traveling family. As the oldest of 8 children, she spent most of her childhood in the South Pacific playing in the ocean and going barefoot to school. She graduated with a B.S. in Technology Management at Utah Valley University and worked in the construction industry for 12 years. Jennifer worked her way up from drafter to project manager before retiring to pursue her lifelong passion for writing and art. She lives in Utah with her three sons, a toe nibbling, snuggly Boxer named Tanu, and a deranged siamese cat called Horatio (who also loves to walk up and down on the piano keyboard in the middle of the night).

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

Jennifer Hurst: Interested readers can find me at Fall is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony Ebooks, Smashwords and other places where ebooks are sold.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Jennifer Hurst: Fall is about a headstrong, impulsive young woman, Julia Dayle, (JD for short) who is given the chance to prove herself as a project manager for a conversion project. Her grandfather owns the construction company she works for and she is determined to prove to him she has what it takes to run his company when he retires. Little does she realize what she is getting into when the actual work begins on the site. There are twists and turns to the plot that not even the most attentive readers will figure out (I secretly enjoy surprising people). There is a paranormal aspect to the story, and this involves demons, angels and, well, I won’t say. That’ll ruin the surprise.

Jennifer Walker: Where did you get the idea for the story?

Jennifer Hurst: Like a lot of writers, I got the idea for this story from a series of dreams I had. Fortunately, none of them made it into the final cut of the book.

Jennifer Walker: What is your greatest writing challenge?

Jennifer Hurst: Staying focused. Often while I'm working on one story, I'll get an idea for another and I have to start on it right away before I lose the feel of it.

Jennifer Walker: What other projects do you have coming up?

Jennifer Hurst: An action/adventure YA called Muddy, a Sci-Fi graphic novel for tweens based on a computer game called Zening, a Chic Lit Fantasy based on Scotlands Pict people, an action/adventure for tween boys about a family of Monster Hunters, and of course, the sequel to Fall.

Jennifer Walker: What is your writing process like--do you outline first or just start writing, etc.?

Jennifer Hurst: I used to be very organized and detailed. I'd have every chapter outlined and scenes described in detail, but once I got to writing it, I'd find myself in a tug-of-war with the characters over who got to tell the story and how. Finally, I just gave up and let them have their say. It's a win-win situation as I'm not stressing about what goes where and the characters get to tell it their way.

Jennifer Walker: What have you done to develop your writing craft?

Jennifer Hurst: I write constantly. In my journal, notes to my kids, in my head, etc. I carry around a notebook and when words won't come, I use doodles to capture the feel of the stories I want to write.

Jennifer Walker: What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?

Jennifer Hurst: Marketing it. I like it - but its more time consuming than writing the book. I'd rather be writing.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your non-writing life. Family? Pets? Hobbies?

Jennifer Hurst: I have three boys, who are the centers of my universe. They keep things lively and interesting and help me to keep my priorities straight. My hobbies involve my children. I write to entertain them and earn a living to support us. It's becoming more and more a family thing for us - we tell stories a lot.

Jennifer Walker: Who is your favorite author of all time, and why?

Jennifer Hurst:: Frank Herbert. He opened my mind to a whole new world of science fiction and the possibilities. C.J. Cherryh would be a close second. I love her book Rimrunners.

Monday, November 28, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, I will interview Ellen Ruderman, author of CHASING THE RED CAR. Ellen G. Ruderman, PhD, is a psychoanalyst and mental health consultant who has published numerous articles and books about the challenges of women's quest for autonomy in professional and familial relationships. CHASING THE RED CAR is her first novel.

Read my review of CHASING THE RED CAR at

Monday, November 21, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview Dennis Danziger. Dennis is the author of A Short History of a Tall Jew and Daddy, The Diary of an Expectant Father. He writes a regular guest column for the Huffington Post and his essays have appeared in Premiere and Education Week.

Listen live this Wednesday at 3:30 Pacific Time at, or listen to the recording any time after the show.

Be sure to read Jennifer's review of A Short History of a Tall Jew.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: Spin the Plate, by Donna Anastasi

Spin the Plate, by Donna Anastasi

Paperback: 198 pages

Publisher: Black Rose Writing (May 27, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1935605399
Rating (1 to 5 *): ****

Spin the Plate Book Review

Jo fills her waking hours in an attempt to keep her 128 episodes of childhood trauma from replaying in her mind. She is a talented tattoo artist, she roams the streets at night in search of needy animals to save, she picks fights, and she works out and follows a sumo wrestling training program. However, no matter how hard she tries, those episodes continue to torture her.

Enter Francis, a strange little man (as she thinks of him), who wants to be with her but does not make demands or pressure her. Francis, who tries to live in the manner of his sainted namesake, is much more than he appears, and he seems determined to save Jo from her demons. She's not so sure she needs saving, but she can't quite turn him away.

Spin the Plate, by Donna Anastasi, crosses several genres. There is a romance, but it is much more serious and heavy than typical romance novels. There are Christian themes, but the grittiness of the story would deter the typical reader of Christian fiction. The overarching theme is Jo's transformation from a sexually abused child to a woman who attempts to hide her femininity and quash all signs of vulnerability to a woman who is able to accept a man's love. This, to me, puts it squarely in the genre of Women's Fiction...and let's not confuse that with "chick lit". This is serious stuff, no fluff here. The story tackles some tough issues, and while it doesn't tread lightly, it does handle some harsh scenes very gracefully.

As a reader, this is an interesting, absorbing story. As an editor, I see much potential if a developmental edit were done on it: much of the story is rushed, some descriptions and details are distracting rather than adding to the story, and some of the back story and timelines are a little confusing or contradictory. However, while working on these things would make the book better, it is quite readable and powerful as it stands.

Donna Anastasi's characters are rich and interesting, and the picture she paints in the reader's mind is vivid. She tackles some tough situations that happen in our world every day, which we need to be reminded of, and she does it without being preachy. Spin the Plate is a worthy read!

Listen to my BlogTalkRadio interview with Donna at!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review as part of a virtual book tour promoted by my company, Walker Author Tours. However, this did not influence my review, and I gave it the same honest assessment I give all books I review.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A special edition of A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

On a special edition of the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview Donna Anastasi, author of Spin the Plate. This interview is a part of Donna's virtual book tour with Walker Author Tours.

Listen live on Thursday at 3:30 Pacific Time or any time after the show at

Spin the Plate is an inspirational story of the central character Jo’s personal journey from an abusive childhood to romance and overcoming the scars of childhood trauma.
Learn more about Donna and the book at

Monday, November 14, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

On the 11/16/11 edition of the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview Heather Justesen about her latest book, Blank Slate.Listen live this Wednesday at 3:30 Pacific Time at, or listen any time to the archived recording after the show.

Read Jennifer's blog interview with Heather at

After waking from a coma, Adrianna can’t remember who she is, any of her family, friends, or fiancé. As if her recovery isn’t hard enough, she finds she can no longer play the piano—something she’d always loved and made into a career. In a desperate attempt to do something that would make her feel useful, she steps in as office manager for her brother when his quits, and finds she has a knack for the position. That and the developing feelings for her brother’s business partner after she and her fiancé split up give her a new direction in life and hope for the future. Until everything starts crashing down around her.

Heather’s prior novels include The Ball’s in Her Court and Rebound. To learn more about Heather and her writing, visit her website at or her blog at She loves to hear from readers and speak to schools, book clubs, and church groups. She can be contacted at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: The Original Horse Bible

The Original Horse Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Horse, by Moira C. Reeve and Sharon Biggs

Paperback: 544 pages

Publisher: BowTie Press; Original edition (August 30, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1933958758
Rating (1 to 5 *): ****** (yes, 6.)

The Original Horse Bible Book Review

Anyone who has ever had a horse or spent any time with them knows you never stop learning about them. There is so much to learn, you could fill an entire set of encyclopedias! Authors Sharon Biggs and Moira C. Reeve attempted to get some of the more important and interesting stuff into The Original Horse Bible, and they did a fantastic job of it.

The Original Horse Bible contains breed profiles, basic information novices must know, training techniques, health and basic care, showing tips, breeding information, and so much more. It's a truly stunning collection of knowledge, supplemented by many pictures--it's worth getting the book just to look at them alone. The amount of research that went into this book is mind boggling.

I have one small beef with the book, and that is minor. There are so many views on training and care that I thought the authors should have acknowledged that more--techniques discussed are presented as the only correct way to do something, which I'm sure they felt is true, but some very successful trainers or vets might disagree. With my level of knowledge, I didn't find any of the information to be bad or incorrect, I just know that there are other approaches that are just as valid.

The Original Horse Bible is a valuable resource that horse lovers could sit down and read cover to cover and be entertained while they learn more than they could ever have expected, but it's also laid out in such a way that it's easy to find information you need to go straight to. It is well written and conceived, and I applaud the authors for their hard work.

On a sad note, Moira C. Reeve is no longer with us. May she rest in peace knowing that she has left a vast legacy in the work she created throughout her career.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book Review: Chasing the Red Car

Chasing the Red Car, by Ellen Ruderman

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: (November 8, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1450267181
Rating (1 to 5 *): ****

Join us on November 30, 2011 at 3:30PT when I interview Ellen Ruderman on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show!

Chasing the Red Car Book Review

Kim LeBow grows up in a very scary time, an age when McCarthyism is in full force and threatening many people she cares about, including her father and her favorite teacher at school. Her home life is scary too, with a mother who is emotionally unstable and a father who often disappears with no explanation.

Chasing the Red Car follows Kim through her life, from growing up in the McCarthy era, through college, and later as an educator. It comes full circle after 9/11, when the Patriot Act brought some questionable policies. She struggles with her conviction to voice her own views and beliefs when those in authority tell her not to. Yet, her father taught her to stand up for what she believes in, and she does.

Chasing the Red Car was an entertaining and thought-provoking read. Although I am not liberal, I thought it would be interesting to see that side of the story set in such a volatile time. It was enlightening to see the way the witch hunts of the time affected not only the communists who were flushed out, but those around them as well. (ETA: Just to be clear, I am not in favor of how things were handled at that time.)

Ellen Ruderman's characters were realistic, and there was an interesting balance between the different personality types. I found the timeline a little difficult to follow at times when flashbacks were mixed in with the story. Also, Kim mentioned "my beliefs" many times--to the point of being repetitive--without ever really saying what those were except for a couple of vague comments about human rights. I would have liked to have seen how such a young girl came by whatever her beliefs were and a little discussion of what was so radical. However, I can guess that since that wasn't really the point of the book, the author wanted to focus more on the feelings and emotions of this coming of age story. All in all, I enjoyed the book and found it to be a good commentary on how politics affect us all.

Join us on November 30, 2011 at 3:30PT when I interview Ellen Ruderman on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show!

Monday, October 31, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

On the 11/2/11 edition of the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview Chitoka Webb, author of Something Inside Of Me: How To Hang On To Heaven When You're Going Through Hell. Listen live on Wednesday at 3:30PT at or tune in later for the recording.

Read my written interview with Chitoka here!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

On the October 26th episode of the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will talk with Lori Hedderman, M.Ed., N.C.C., L.P.C, author of Preparing Your Children For Goodbye: A Guidebook For Dying Parents. Listen in at 3:30 Pacific Time at or tune in any time after the show to listen to the archive.

Preparing Your Children For Goodbye is a supportive guidebook for parents who are terminally ill. This book is specifically designed for use by parents of children and teenagers. It includes questions to help you consider issues relating to your children, as well as more general questions that will trigger memories about other parts of your life.

Learn more about Lori Hedderman, M.Ed., N.C.C., L.P.C, and her work at

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: A Short History of a Tall Jew

A Short History of a Tall Jew, by Dennis Danziger

Paperback: 468 pages

Publisher: Deal Street Press; first edition edition (February 8, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0615318460
Rating (1 to 5 *): *****

A Short History of a Tall Jew Book Review

Philip Lachman is pushing 40, divorced, and as a teacher in Los Angeles, nearly broke. He's decided it's time to get married again. The problem is, in material girl L.A., it's hard to find a woman who doesn't mind his financial status and isn't scared off by his communist son or his highly self-centered daughter. On top of that, his ex-wife is determined to make his life a living hell as vengeance for one transgression 14 years ago. His life is beginning to look an awful lot like the proverbial Job's, but like that unfortunate character, he is determined to keep his faith and weather the hard times.

A Short History of a Tall Jew is an amusing tale of faith, love, and hardship. Despite Philip's cascading series of woes, there is humor as well. It is a life-affirming read--after all, if you're doing better than Philip, maybe you don't have as much to complain about as you thought. It has plenty of warm moments to offset the times when he is out in the cold, and he catches just enough breaks to keep you from wallowing in his despair. The book is well written and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Although it is long, the pages just fly by.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Author Interview: Rod Miller

Our interview today is with Rod Miller, author of several books, the latest of which is THE ASSASSINATION OF GOVERNOR BOGGS.

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

Rod Miller: Visit my web site,, to learn more than you ever wanted to know about me, including photos from my childhood and rodeo days. All my books are on the site, with links to the publishers or online book sellers.

Also, links to a number of online booksellers and the publisher. Your local bookseller can also order the book through all the major wholesalers if it isn’t on their shelves.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Rod Miller: THE ASSASSINATION OF GOVERNOR BOGGS is not easily categorized. It’s a historical novel based on actual people and events, a detective story, a cold-case investigation, a crime novel, an Old West frontier tale, and something of a mystery.

In 1842, Lilburn Boggs, former governor of Missouri, was gunned down by an unknown assailant. He was given up for dead and so reported in the newspapers. But he survived and lived another 18 years. Twenty-five years after the crime, and following the governor’s death, his family engages a Pinkerton agent to investigate the case and name the killer. We follow his investigation from one end of the Old West to the other as he tracks down clues that inevitably lead to Salt Lake City and the prime suspect, Mormon gunfighter Porter Rockwell.

Jennifer Walker: Where did you get the idea for the story?

Rod Miller: The story comes from history, growing out of difficulties between Missouri citizens and Mormon settlers during the 1830s. However, this is an aspect of that story that is not well known and rarely examined, either in fiction or nonfiction. The people involved are fascinating, the events absorbing , and the mystery surrounding it all intriguing. With such great stories out there, who needs idea?

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your previous work.

Rod Miller: I suppose I am an example of how to mismanage a writing career—six books, six publishers, six different audiences. My first book is about the life of John Muir; not a detailed biography, but more a highlight reel of his life. JOHN MUIR: MAGNIFICENT TRAMP is part of the nonfiction “American Heroes” series from Forge Books, and was released in hardcover in 2005 and soft cover in 2009. A paperback Western novel from Kensington/Pinnacle followed in 2005, GALLOWS FOR A GUNMAN. Then a history of the deadliest massacre of Indians by the US Army in Western history, MASSACRE AT BEAR RIVER—FIRST, WORST, FORGOTTEN, released by Caxton Press in 2008. In 2010, Port Yonder Press released a collection of cowboy and Western poetry, THINGS A COWBOY SEES AND OTHER POEMS; Laughing Mouse Press released a limited edition hand-stitched chapbook of poems about the Shoshoni Indians, NEWE DREAMS; and, of course, there’s THE ASSASSINATION OF GOVERNOR BOGGS from Cedar Fort/Bonneville Books.

In addition to books, I’ve written and published several articles for Western magazines, essays for, lots of poems in magazines and anthologies, short fiction in a number of Western anthologies, short nonfiction for anthologies and an encyclopedia, and a bunch of book reviews.

Jennifer Walker: What other projects do you have coming up?

Rod Miller: At present I am in the middle of a novel, most of the research and some of the writing is done for a book of popular history, I have a couple of magazine articles in the mill, and am reading a book to review for a history magazine.

Jennifer Walker: Do you write full time? If so, tell us how you manage it. If not, what is your day job?

Rod Miller: In a sense, I write full time since my day job is—and has been for more than 30 years—writing copy in an advertising agency. However, that kind of “creative” writing is altogether different than the “creative” writing involved in making poems and stories. I did not imagine I could, nor did really want to, write anything other than advertising until about 15 years ago. Then, for some unknown reason, I wondered if I could write a poem. The same curiosity led me, later, to try short stories, and, later still, books, and so on. I enjoy writing all of it—even the advertising.

Jennifer Walker: What have you done to develop your writing craft?

Rod Miller: My college degree is in journalism. I did not take any creative writing classes and no more than the required literature courses. So, I started writing poetry and fiction unschooled and untrained. But I have always been a busy reader, so I suppose most of what I learned about writing came by osmosis from reading the work of good writers.

Once I started writing, I started studying the work of others with more depth and intention; studying how they said things, how they did things, how they led the reader from point A to B, and how they did it in unexpected and unusual ways. This applies to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, even magazine articles. The more I read good writers, the more I learn about good writing, and the more I can attempt to put what I’ve learned on the page. Membership in Western Writers of America has also been invaluable in more ways than I can count.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

Rod Miller: Not a genre, really, but most of my reading is related to the American West. I have had a lifelong interest in the history, people, and culture of the American West. I read about the West in every genre imaginable, including history, biography, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, current events—you name it. Likewise, everything I have written, and probably will write, concerns the American West.

Jennifer Walker Who is your favorite author of all time, and why?

Rod Miller: I don’t believe I could pick a single favorite in anything in life. I like Wallace Stegner, John Steinbeck, John McPhee, James Galvin, Wendell Berry, Cormac McCarthy, Mark Twain, Edward Abbey, Charles Badger Clark, Ambrose Bierce, Banjo Paterson, Ivan Doig, Mark Spragg, Elmer Kelton, Paul Zarzyski, Norman Maclean….

All write beautifully, and most depart from the norm to unexpected and wonderful effect.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Author Interview: S. A. Bolich

Today's interview is with S. A. Bolich, author of Firedancer.

Jennifer: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

S. A. Bolich: You can always check my website at for news and a little boring background about moi. I do have a blog wherein I talk about writing techniques, how to get stories off the ground and the like at And, of course, you can find Firedancer at the publisher or in the Kindle store at Amazon, on Smashwords, and at Barnes and Noble.

Jennifer: Tell us about your book.

S. A. Bolich: Jetta ak'Kal was the most talented Firedancer of her generation, destined for the elite Circle of the Fire Clans--until the Ancient, the elemental fire Dancers have battled since the Beginning of all things, broke free from its prison at the heart of the world and killed her lifemate and the village Jetta was charged to protect. A year later, her clan demands that she resume her life and her duties to protect another threatened village, but Jetta no longer has the heart or the confidence. She mistrusts the Dance that is supposed to bind the Ancient, for it has failed her once, and Old Man Fire is acting strangely. Still, to Annam she must go, in company with the most erratic journeyman in all the clans, to protect a place that has never known the deadly incursion of fire--but that must be protected at all costs. And to complicate her life even more, Annam is full of Windriders, masters of air, the Ancient's most potent fuel. With disaster poised on every breath of wind, Jetta cannot fail, for if she does, Annam will not be the only victim of the firestorm that will surely follow.

This is "other world fantasy," set on a planet that is not Earth, with its own ecology and culture and internal logic. It was fun to write and, from the reviews I'm getting, fun to read. I hope so, anyway!

Jennifer: Where did you get the idea for the story?

S. A. Bolich: Therein hangs a tale... The first line, "This fire was malicious." just popped into my head from nowhere, and intrigued me enough I had to keep writing to know what it meant. But eventually it became clear to me that Jetta's battle with a pernicious enemy was deeply rooted in something a lot more mundane--my long and frustrating struggle with a particularly nasty weed attempting to take over my horse pasture! Oh, how I hate knapweed. Year after year I spray it. Year after year it comes back. Being a writer with too much imagination, naturally it has assumed a cunning personality and a sinister purpose in my mind. The Ancient is really knapweed, but oh so much more interesting. This is fire that thinks, that plans, and really, really wants to win.

Jennifer: Tell us about your previous work.

S. A. Bolich: I have several short stories out, in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, and other places, including an ebook published by Damnation Books called "Who Mourns for the Hangman?", a dark historical fantasy. I write a bit of everything, but a lot of my stuff is well grounded in history, seeing that I was a history major in college. I fully intended to write historical fiction. Somehow that never actually happened.

I currently have stories out in two anthologies, Defending the Future IV: No Man's Land, which is military SF, and a werewolf in space story in Wolfsongs 2. Both of those are available at Amazon.

Jennifer: What other projects do you have coming up?

S. A. Bolich: I am currently working on the sequel to Firedancer, which is called Windrider, scheduled for release next year, and there will be another one after that. The elementals are fascinating: Wind, Fire, Water, and Earth, and they each have a story. I am also in the midst of a 6-volume alternate history series that looks at a really fun and unexplored explanation for what really happened in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. That one has to wait a bit, though, because I am contracted for Windrider and at least one other book first.

Jennifer: What is your writing process like--do you outline first or just start writing, etc.?

S. A Bolich: I really can't outline with any degree of success. I'm one of those seat-of-the-pants writers. I need the first sentence. The next sentence draws from the first, and just keeps going. The story grows organically, and eventually I figure out what it's about and where it's going. I think the muse always knows; otherwise the first sentence or the first scene would not float up out of that endless well of words inside to begin with. But man, she holds her cards kinda close sometimes.

Jennifer: Do you work with a writing group or mentor? Why or why not? If you do, what do you get out of it?

S. A. Bolich: I have moderated the online writers' workshop at for 13 years. Workshopping has greatly improved my writing. Just having new eyes on a project is incredibly valuable, because they're liable to spot all those logic holes big enough to drive a truck through that the author never sees. They also catch the prose that doesn't flow so well, and can kindly tell you that your plot is, eh, not plausible, your characters unsympathetic, and all the other stuff a serious writer needs to hear. Writing in a vacuum is the last thing any writer should do; you just need to be open to advice, but not a slave to it, because it's your book. Ultimately, your vision is the one that should prevail. But a workshop can certainly help you hone your idea to a very fine point.

Jennifer: What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?

S. A. Bolich: The writing took a little longer than usual, mostly because of life distractions, but selling it was easy. My publisher asked to see a sample of my work, I hastily revised Firedancer, which had been moldering in my drawer since I wrote the first draft and forgot it, and sent it off. She loved it, bought it, and bam. The marketing is the hard part, because this is new territory for me, and having only begun to concentrate on my writing in the last 3 years, I have not built up a "name" yet. But I'm learning, and quickly. I do love going to cons and meeting fans and other writers and sharing ideas for everything from marketing to crazy "what if" story ideas.

Jennifer: When and why did you decide to become a writer?

S. A. Bolich: I never decided; it was just always there. From the time I was old enough to realize I could think I was making up stories in my head. I won my first writing contest in 6th grade, and had I been smart, I would have focused like a laser on developing my writing career. Instead, it was just always something I did, my strongest call when I needed something to do, but boring stuff like making a living always came first. Thus, I let myself be distracted for a long time before it finally came home to me that the reason I didn't like working for other people was because I really, really wanted to be at home writing. So finally I surrendered and found a way, and here I am, just a little bit late.

Jennifer: If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom?

S. A. Bolich: Heh, that's easy. Machu Picchu, with Dr. Who. That awesome place, with the Doctor in tow? You know, of course, that cool things would happen.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

The October 19th edition of A Cup of Cup of Coffee and a Good book will feature Andrea Pearson, author of The Key of Kilenya. Listen life on Wednesday at 3:30 Pacific Time at or listen to the recorded podcast any time.

When two vicious wolves chase fourteen-year-old Jacob Clark down a path from our world into another, his life is forever changed. He has no idea they have been sent by the Lorkon-evil, immortal beings who are jealous of powers he doesn't know he possesses-powers they desire to control.

The inhabitants of the new world desperately need Jacob's help in recovering a magical key that was stolen by the Lorkon and is somehow linked to him. If he helps them, his life will be at risk. But if he chooses not to help them, both our world and theirs will be in danger. he Lorkon will stop at nothing to unleash the power of the key-and Jacob's special abilities.

Learn more about Andrea and her book at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Author Interview: Sarah Williams

Today's interview is with Sarah Williams, author of Captive.

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

Sarah Williams: My book is currently available through Amazon and Smashwords. For anyone interested in finding out more about me I have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. I also have an author page on both Amazon and Goodreads.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Sarah Williams: My book is called Captive and is what I would describe as a thriller with a supernatural twist. It’s set in England and starts with a young woman named Lux who wakes up in a hotel room that she has no memory of falling asleep in. She is alone, scared and inexplicably terrified of the dark. I actually try not to go into too much detail about the book as I feel it gives too much away and spoils the twists.

Jennifer Walker: What do you find most rewarding in writing a book?

Sarah Williams: I get such enjoyment from writing my books. I disappear into a world of my own making and I can let my imagination run free. I’ll lose myself for hours as I create characters and send them on adventures. One of the best feelings in the world is when someone reads your book and tells you they loved it.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your non-writing life. Family? Pets? Hobbies?

Sarah Williams: I’m originally from England but I moved to Australia in 2008 to support my partner’s business. It was actually a great move for me as it gave me much more time to focus on my writing. Living in Australia offers me a wonderful lifestyle and I feel so lucky to live next to the beach. When I’m not writing I love to read and can often be found scouring books in the library. I also enjoy gardening, yoga, good food and wine, films and music.

Jennifer Walker: Is your family supportive of your writing?

Sarah Williams: My family have always been hugely supportive of my writing. When I first started jotting down stories, writing with pen and paper, my younger sister would always be waiting to read what I’d written. When I upgraded to a word processor she would sit with me, wait for me to finish a chapter and then eagerly await as I read the latest instalment. Even now, though she lives in England and I live in Australia, she continues to be the first person to read and give feedback on my work. My mum edits everything I do and my dad is a great source for my research as he is a retired policeman. My partner and his family are equally supportive of what I do and it’s nice to know that everyone believes in me.

Jennifer Walker: Who is your favorite author of all time, and why?

Sarah Williams: I started reading Dean Koontz when I was probably a bit young to be reading Dean Koontz but his books made a huge impression on me and he remains one of my favourite authors of all time. I love the stories he weaves and the characters he creates. I know that when I pick up a Koontz book, it will be good. I’ve also recently come across Carol Goodman, who is definitely up there with my favourite authors. She is a beautiful writer and creates tales that are absorbing and impossible to put down.

Jennifer Walker: What is your writing process like--do you outline first or just start writing, etc.?

Sarah Williams: When an idea pops into my head I normally want to just start writing but I’ve learnt from experience that some prep work is necessary. I will normally outline the basic storyline and then write bios for my characters so that I know them inside out. When I’m ready to sit down and write the book, I do it to music. I have a very specific soundtrack for writing to and I find this helps to inspire the work that I create. When a first draft is completed it’s sent out for feedback and then when that stage is complete I will move onto my second draft. I’m a perfectionist by nature so I put my book through a lot of editing before I feel confident enough to release it to the public.

Jennifer Walker: What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?

Sarah Williams: The easiest thing for me is writing the book. It’s getting it out there that’s the problem. In a highly competitive industry where timing can be just as important as the quality of your book I decided to self publish through Amazon. This was a very empowering thing to do but being a self published author means the marketing side of things is very difficult. Trying to get the word out about my book and making it stand out from all the others out there is going to be my biggest challenge.

Jennifer Walker: What other projects do you have coming up?

Sarah Williams: I’m currently working on the sequel to “Captive”, which is as yet untitled but will be due for release in 2012. I’ve also got a comedy in the works. With my focus on “Captive” and its sequel this has been put on the back burner but I look forward to trying something a little bit different in the near future.

Jennifer Walker: What have you done to develop your writing craft?

Sarah Williams: I always think the best way to improve my skill as a writer is to just keep writing. I’ve been writing for years, for as long as I can remember and feel my work just keeps getting better as I become more experienced. I focused on English at school and then went on to get a degree in Theatre and Creative Writing, which again helped to develop my skills. As well as writing my novels I also work as a freelance writer, which gives me the opportunity to constantly harness my skills. Writing is a part of my day to day life and that means I get to practice all the time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Author Interview: Christie Anderson

Today's interview is with Christie Anderson, author of Deep Blue Secret.

Christie AndersonAuthor Bio:

Christie Anderson has gone from a BA degree in Latin American studies at Brigham Young University, to pizza delivery, flight attendant, office manager, and real estate investor, to finally finding her true passion in writing. She loves lounging on the couch knowing her wonderful husband is by her side. She enjoys movies, books, and being outside in the sunshine whenever possible. She misses the ocean like crazy, but is terrified of waves. She's dabbled in photography, drawing, and golf, and she loves all animals. She's still trying to convince herself she likes to cook. Christie grew up in Southern California and currently lives in Salt Lake City, patiently waiting in a tiny, cinder block apartment for her husband to complete his master’s degree in geology. She couldn't be more proud!


California teen, Sadie James, thinks her life couldn’t get any better. She has great friends, an energetic mother she adores, and the beach practically in her own backyard. But her carefree life is turned upside down when she’s rescued by a mysterious and strangely familiar boy who won’t even tell her his name.

Each time the boy appears, Sadie’s unexplainable attraction to him deepens along with her need to unravel his secrets. The boy is there to protect her. But as wonderful and exciting as it might be to have an irresistible boy with crystal green eyes protecting her every move, every minute of the day...why does Sadie need one?

As Sadie finds answers, she realizes her life isn’t as perfect as she thought. Not only is she caught in a world of dangerous secret agents she never knew existed, but it turns out her true identity may be the greatest secret of all.

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

Christie Anderson: My Web site is the best place to start, From there you can find the link to my blog, my book trailer, the Deep Blue Secret playlist, and purchase links for the eBook and paperback formats at Amazon, as well as Barnes & Noble.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Christie Anderson: Most of the story follows Sadie who thinks of herself as the typical California teenager, having fun with friends and enjoying the coastal sunshine. But her life takes a drastic turn when a mysterious boy named Rayne (pronounced like rain) shows up out of nowhere to help when Sadie falls victim to an accident. Sadie feels an instant connection and attraction to Rayne, although she doesn’t believe in love at first site and attempts to fight the feelings which she believes are illogical. Meanwhile, we get small glimpses from other characters’ perspectives, all who come from a totally foreign and somewhat dangerous background that Sadie will soon be forced to become a part of, whether she’s ready for it or not.

Jennifer Walker: Where did you get the idea for the story?

Christie Anderson: I love stories that I can relate to, but with some kind of element beyond the normal to spice things up and pull me out of real life. I started researching folktales and legends, hoping to come across something that would spark a unique idea in my mind, but most of what I found—faeries, vampires, angels, etc.—all felt overdone to me. Truthfully, my idea for The Water Keepers was first sparked by reading about the fountain of youth online, but really didn’t come together until after a lot of brainstorming sessions with my husband. And of course my own experiences growing up and attending high school in Southern California played a big part as well.

Jennifer Walker: Is your family supportive of your writing?

Christie Anderson: They are incredibly supportive! They’re always the first to send congratulations, offer up advice or ideas, and cheer me along when things get hard. My husband thought I was a little crazy when I first started out, but I’ll never forget the moment he turned to me and said, “Wow, your story actually sounds like a real book.” And from that day forward he was my number one fan.

Jennifer Walker: What other projects do you have coming up?

Christie Anderson: Deep Blue Secret is just the beginning of Sadie and Rayne’s experiences together, and I’m so excited to be working on book two of The Water Keepers series. I have this big story swirling around in my head and I don’t think I’ll be getting much rest until I can put it all down into words. Unfortunately, it will take at least three (but more likely four) books in order to reach this goal, so I guess I won’t be resting any time soon. Hopefully the readers won’t be too frustrated with me, but I definitely think it will be worth the wait! Of course, my opinion is a little biased.

Jennifer Walker: Where is your favorite place to write?

Christie Anderson: I used to dream of writing in strange locations that would inspire spontaneous writing genius, but that method never worked out for me. I’m not great at concentrating with distractions around, so my answer is pretty boring. I always write at my desk in our home office. I listen to music for the first few minutes to get my creative juices flowing, but after that I usually require complete silence. I like to prop my feet up on the shelf underneath the desk where my husband keeps his stack of old textbooks. This is mainly because I’m so short that my feet don’t reach the floor easily. And I always use the same cushy square pillow behind my back to keep me comfy for hours at a time.

Jennifer Walker: When and why did you decide to become a writer?

Christie Anderson: English was always one of my best subjects in school, but I always felt forced to write about topics I wasn’t interested in. It was the same way all through college. Writing a paper under a deadline was torturous. I really didn’t know I was a writer until about a year and a half ago. I was just coming out of some tough years in my life and I was looking for a source of comfort. I won’t bore you with the details here, but I’ve shared more of the story on my blog for those that are interested.

Basically, I turned to audiobooks as an escape from real life for a time and a friend recommended the Twilight books to me. I didn’t become obsessed with Edward or Jacob like so many fans, although I did enjoy these characters. It was actually Stephenie Meyer I felt most drawn to. There are people out there with unkind things to say about her or her books, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. But her stories were influential in helping me during a rough time, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Something about her experiences inspired me to believe I could create stories too. Soon after this, my mom requested I write down memories for Mother’s Day that year. She mentioned how much she enjoyed my writing and encouraged me to do it more often. Writing a book was already a crazy idea taking over the back corners of my mind, and moms know best, so at that point I was convinced easily.

Thanks to Christie for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This Week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

On the October 12th edition of A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book, I will interview Barbara Briggs Ward, author of THE REINDEER KEEPER. Listen in on Wednesday, October 12th at 3:30 Pacific Time at, or click any time after that to hear the recording.

Abbey senses something special about the little man tending to the reindeer who, along with a century-old farmhouse, a barn full of animals, and fields abounding in woods and pasture, was a gift to Abbey from a stranger. Abbey and her husband, Steve, move in just before the holidays. They have been together since the '60s, eloping when Steve returned from Vietnam. Now with Abbey's cancer in remission, they're looking forward to their boys coming home for Christmas.

Turns out this Christmas proves to be more magical than anticipated as Abbey realizes an understanding never thought possible through the rekindling of a belief rooted in childhood. Of course it's who delivers this gift on Christmas Eve that gives Abbey and Steve the strength to face their greatest challenge.

Learn more about Barbara and THE REINDEER KEEPER at