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

Monday, October 3, 2011

Author Interview: Donna Anastasi

Today we learn a little about Donna Anastasi, author of Spin the Plate. Donna is on tour with Walker Author Tours, so stop by her tour page to learn more about her, the book, and the tour stops.

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

Donna Anastasi: On the book website

Jennifer Walker: Where can we buy your book?

Donna Anastasi: Black Rose Writing publisher:


Barnes and Noble:


or email me at

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Donna Anastasi: Spin the Plate is the story of Jo, a woman who has come through a traumatic childhood not battered and broken, but powerful and enraged. A tattoo artist by day, she roams the streets of Boston nightly to forget her past and feed her two passions: rescuing mistreated creatures and inflicting bodily harm on their perpetrators. Unassuming and unafraid, Francis, a man harboring his own back story, is the one person Jo can't seem to scare off. Right from the start, he sees clearly the caring soul buried deep within Jo's hard exterior and puts into motion a succession of life-altering happenings for them both.

GOLD MEDAL WINNER, Women's Fiction, 2011 Living Now Book Awards

SILVER MEDAL WINNER, Contemporary Romance, 2011 Readers Favorite Book Awards

International Book Award Finalist, Romance

International Book Award Finalist, Women's Literature

Jennifer Walker: What is your greatest writing challenge?

Donna Anastasi: In general…words seem to flow out of some writers like water from a babbling brook, for me, especially when it come to fiction writing, it feels more like coaxing well-water from an ancient hand pump.

For this story in particularly… Normally lead characters have to be likable, but Jo at the start is unlikable by design. That’s why I added the flashbacks at the start to help see the world from her perspective. Jo’s defenses for not allowing people to get close are having an acerbic personality and a foul mouth, which changes over time with Francis’ love. The hope is that when it comes to the reader’s feelings towards Jo, he or she will experience a “plate spin” shifting from disdain to empathy to a love of the character.

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

Donna Anastasi: Getting readers to see these characters as real people. Knowing there are people all over the country curled up on their couch, or outside on a beach, or in a plane reading the story and having the same experience I did when it first hit me is amazing.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your previous work.

Donna Anastasi: My other published works are non-fiction books on small animal care published by Bowtie Press. The first of these, the still popular “Care Made Easy: Complete Guide to Gerbil Care”, was published in 2005 and will have a second printing in 2012, including a chapter on training gerbil agility. Oh, yes they can. Check out my friend “Herman the Show Jumping Gerbil” on youtube if you have any doubts. [Note from Jennifer: watch the video. Oh, so worth it.]

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

Donna Anastasi: I am a part-time writer, jotting ideas in a small journal I always carry as they come to me and taking off an evening or a weekend day as I can to write. My day job is as a user experience/web designer - currently I work for Fidelity Investments in Boston. Writing proposals, technical reports, and user guides for my job has helped me not only to author non-fiction hobby books but also with fiction writing. Design is a highly collaborative process requiring the combined expertise of many different skill sets. I bring the same type of team approach to my writing, providing ideas and drafts to a wide and diversified audience, gathering feedback, and improving the content and presentation through many iterations. One of my goals was for Spin the Plate was to be vetted sufficiently pre-publication, so that once released there would be no major surprise problematic reader-reactions.

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

Donna Anastasi: By far my biggest asset in writing the novel was my husband Tom Anastasi, a professor and playwright. Tom is a master of conversational dialog and a font of basic knowledge and useless trivia on just about any topic

My mentor was Holly Robinson, a professional writer and author of “The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter,” who read endless drafts and helped set me in the right direction, e.g., “you need to slow it down…”

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

Donna Anastasi: I read a lot and am a film fanatic. I also enjoy writing reviews of whatever I read, which usually is some combination of non or realistic fiction-animal-spiritual-love-friendship-loyalty-sacrifice-off beat-growth-Christian-healing theme. You can see what I’ve read and watched in the past few months here:

I also write amazon lists of my all-time favorite works, and when appropriate include Spin the Plate on a list.

Jennifer Walker: What have been your most successful marketing techniques?

Donna Anastasi: I am constantly pounding the keyboard in search of publicity opportunities. In addition to doing this book tour, entering the book in indie award contests, and soliciting reviews I try to get creative about spreading the word. My most unusual marketing idea was to link the free Short Story version of Spin the Plate in an inexplicitly popular youtube video of my baby rat Muzzy on who the lead-rat-character in Spin the Plate was based:

Jennifer Walker: Is your family supportive of your writing?

Donna Anastasi: Yes, my family is supportive about letting me forgo my home-responsibilities to go off and write. Plus my husband is always at the ready with facts and dialog, or even to do some onsite research for me, like visiting a tattoo shop, when I get stuck or am up against a deadline.

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

Donna Anastasi: Favorite genre to read and write is animal-spiritual-love-friendship-loyalty-gritty-sacrifice-off beat-growth-mind-expanding-important truths-healing-Christian themed, with non-gratuitous romance and violence. I like works that I can read in one setting, which is why I watch a lot of movies and am reluctant to start a fiction book that is over 1 1/2 inches thick. I’ve been known to read six or 10 hours straight sometimes staying up half the night to finish a book. I can read non-fiction over time, but if I love a fiction book I will finish it in two days at most, no matter what the length.

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

Donna Anastasi: Truthfully, right now, I could use a restful trip. It would be a late Spring cruise right out of Boston to Bermuda (one of the cleanest, lowest stress, and most beautiful places in the world) where absolutely no demands would be placed upon me. I’d go with one other person, either my husband, one of my teenaged daughters, or a best girlfriend. And not pack much more than a bathing suit, a camera, a book, and my journal for writing!

Thanks to Donna for stopping by, and be sure to listen to her live on the radio tomorrow at 3:30PT at

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book

We have a big week on the A Cuip of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, with two podcasts this week! The first is a special edition, where Jennifer will be visiting with Donna Anastasi, author of SPIN THE PLATE.

Donna is on tour with Walker Author Tours this week. This takes place Tuesday, October 4th, at 3:30 Pacific Time at Read more about Donna, the book, and visit the virtual tour stops at

During our regular time on Wednesday, October 5th, Jennifer will talk with P.S. Baber, author of CASSIE DRAWS THE UNIVERSE. Listen in at As always, both episodes will be archived for later listening.

Cassie Harper is a brilliant but disillusioned high school senior living with her mother and grandmother in a dilapidated house in a nameless Kansas town. Amy Cole is a beautiful and popular track star who has just moved from California with her father, the school’s—and Cassie’s—new English teacher. After Amy succeeds in breaking down the walls of Cassie’s self-imposed solitude, the girls band together to avoid the common end of all high school students: inexorable assimilation into an increasingly empty and incomprehensible world. But as Amy and Cassie attempt to outrun fate, their pursuit will be cut short by an unexpected adversary, leading Cassie to devise a chilling and unimaginable revenge.

Cassie Draws the Universe is a complex and tragic tale of friendship and betrayal, living and dying, human cruelty, and the terrible price of vengeance.

Learn more about this book at

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Author Interview: Joanne Lécuyer

Author Interview: Joanne Lécuyer

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Joanne Lécuyer: My second children’s book is Kaptain Vamp. It’s the story a young vampire named Allistaire, who is also part human. He wants to change the fact that humans are afraid and distrustful of vampires. His family has been living among humans for hundreds of years and they’ve always used their abilities for good. One day, while reading his favourite superhero comic, Allistaire decides that he’s going to do everything he can to help humans. In order to become a superhero, Allistaire will start by doing good deeds. His sidekick, his human friend Rich, offers to help him out.

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

Joanne Lécuyer: Since vampires have been the rage for adults for the last few years, I thought it would be fun to write a story about them for kids. I liked the challenge of taking this theme and making it positive. I didn’t want to give the kids nightmares. Also, I thought a vampire-human superhero would make a good story.

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

Joanne Lécuyer: There are three main things I like about writing. First I really enjoy the writing process and reading the stories to my husband or friends and family. The second thing I really like is working with the illustrators. That’s when the story starts to come to life. I usually have a pretty good idea of what the characters and setting might look like. But what I like is that each illustrator also brings a different way of seeing. The final images are usually somewhere in the middle. Finally, but not least, I thoroughly enjoy getting the feedback from the readers. It’s wonderful when a young reader tells you how much they enjoyed the story. I love the fact that the books allow my readers (and those who are young at heart) to be taken away on a magical adventure. That’s how I feel when I write and read the books.

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

Joanne Lécuyer: Writing children’s books is new to me. I’ve only been writing them since 2009. For me, the writing process really varies. Sometimes I start by describing the characters, at other times it’s the story that comes out first. I seem to get my story ideas early in the morning while I’m walking to catch the bus or during my commute into the city. But sometimes they come when I’m really tired, after a long day at work. I always keep a notepad and pen with me to jot down ideas. Usually it’s enough to describe the overall concept. For Kaptain Vamp, I wrote a whole chapter in a restaurant while waiting for my husband.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your previous work.

Joanne Lécuyer: My previous book, The Witch, The Cat and the Egg, was the first one I published. It’s a mix of books and animated cartoons that I’ve read and watched over the years. I think as an author, it’s hard not to put some of our own thoughts and desires into our books. When I was younger, reading my favourite Disney books, I wished that I could talk to animals and that I would understand them. So Juliane is a young witch that lives on the border of a magical forest. She knows its secrets and talks to the magical creatures that live there. Her black cat, named Magicus, leads Juliane to a place in the forest where a quest is revealed. Juliane will need to call on a few of her magical forest friends to help her fulfill it and a very important promise.

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

Joanne Lécuyer: I’m working on a few writing projects. I think the next book will be about a fairy. I’ve also got outlines for the sequels to The Witch, the Cat and the Egg and Kaptain Vamp for 2012.

I’m experimenting with other writing mediums. I’ll soon have one or two comic strips available only on my website. Readers will be able to vote for the one they prefer and I’ll either continue with it as a comic strip or I’ll use the story in a future book.

Jennifer Walker: What do you do when you aren't writing books? Do you do other writing, work a day job, have hobbies?

Joanne Lécuyer: I have a full-time job that involves communications and change management in the Canadian federal government. It keeps me pretty busy during the day. Writing is one of my favorite hobbies. Others include reading and watching sci-fi and fantasy movies. I also want to make jewelry with precious gems and learn to play piano. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day!

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

Joanne Lécuyer: Readers can connect with me through my website (, Facebook (Topsy Books), and on Twitter (@JoTopsyBooks). The eBook of Kaptain Vamp will be available on my website in October. The print version will be available in November – just in time for Christmas! I’m working on getting it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble soon.