Monday, April 30, 2012

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book: William Dickerson

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer will interview William Dickerson about his novel, No Alternative. Listen live on Wednesday, May 16 at 3:30 Pacific time or hear the recording any time after the show at

No Alternative is a coming-of-age drama set in the world of suburban American teens in the early 90's. Main character Thomas Harrison is determined to start his own alternative band, an obsession that blinds him to what’s either the mental collapse, or the eruption of musical genius, of his younger sister, Bridget.  She boldly rejects her brother’s music, and the music of an entire generation of slackers by taking on the persona of an X-rated gangsta rapper named “Bri Da B.” No Alternative not only explores the music scene in the early 90's, but examines socially significant themes––suicide, depression, drug addiction and the teenage angst and alienation that were so prevalent at the time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

This week on A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book radio show

This week on the A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book BlogTalkRadio show, Jennifer interviews Sebastian Gibson, author of Nitt Witt Hill. Listen live on Wednesday, April 18 at 3:30 Pacific Time or hear the recording any time after the show at

Just in time for the heating of the electoral battle between America’s political parties, Sebastian Gibson released his new novel Nitt Witt Hill. Hilarious, sadly accurate, and highly entertaining, Nitt Witt Hill follows Mark Twain (Mark, a political consultant and his dog, Twain) in their quest to find out what's making America so neurotic. Nitt Witt Hill has been called“the perfect antidote to 2012 election fever…bound to be the satirical novel of the year.”

Sebastian Gibson is a lawyer, author, and political comedian. You can find him @sebastianstuff on Twitter or visit:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Review: Live and Let Fly, by Karina Fabian

I first "met" Karina Fabian when I edited her book Magic, Mensa and Mayhem at Swimming Kangaroo Books. I was more than happy to read Live and Let Fly, her latest in the DragonEye, PI, series, and review it for her book tour!

Live and Let Fly Book Review
Rating (1 to 5 *): ****

The magic is Faerie.  The technology, Mundane.  When they meet, the survival of the world rests in one dragon's…er…claws.  See Vern as you've never seen him before! 
Sister Grace and Vern are no strangers to danger, although they may seem a little strange. After all, Vern is a dragon (albeit a gorgeous one), and Grace is a nun who does magic. They fight the good fight in the Mundane world on behalf of the Faerie Catholic Church, but when the herald's girlfriend and Vern's girly friend Heather, AKA the ultra-famous Rhoda Dakota gets kidnapped, things suddenly get personal. The conspiracy turns out to be much further reaching than Vern and Grace originally realized, and Vern must masquerade as a human, the worst thing he's ever had to do, in order to get to the heart of the matter.

Live and Let Fly is the new entry in Karina Fabian's DragonEye, PI series, which started with short stories and the novel Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. These spy spoofs combine fantasy and faith (did you read Karina's guest blog last week?) and are packed with puns, clichés (to be fair, the characters acknowledge the clichés, so it's hard not to forgive them), and action from stem to stern. While Live and Let Fly is essentially a stand-alone story, there are numerous references to previous stories and inside jokes that may lack meaning without reading the others. Luckily, there are also lots of jokes that don't require a history with the series to make you laugh. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to go ahead and read the other stories!

If you like mysteries, spies, dragons, nuns, puns, clichés, brownies, sprites, Catholics, demigods, and good clean fun, DragonEye, PI might just be the series for you.

Karina Fabian is an award-winning fantasy, science fiction and horror author, whose  books make people laugh, cry or think—sometimes all three.  Check out her latest at

Monday, April 9, 2012

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 Angela Sage Larsen, author of the Fifities Chix series and the Petalwink series. Listen live on Wednesday, April 11 at 3:30PT, or hear the recording any time after the show, at

Travel to Tomorrow--Author Angela Sage Larsen has flown with fairies, time traveled to the future, befriended an ornery elf and learned to speak Chinese in Beijing. To find out which of these things happened on paper and which in real life, check out her popular Petalwink story book series (which she wrote and illustrated) for kids and her new YA book, Travel to Tomorrow, the first book in the Fifties Chix series about five time traveling high school friends. Many more books — which may or may not be fiction! — for kids and teens are in the works.

Find out more about Angela Sage Larsen at:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Guest Post: Faith and Fantasy, by Karina Fabian

Today we have a guest post by Karina Fabian, author of the fantasy mystery Live and Let Fly, due to be released on April 20. This is the sequel to Magic, Mensa & Mayhem, which was a super fun read. Let's hear her thoughts on writing a story that has elements of religion and fantasy.

Faith and Fantasy
by Karina Fabian

Don’t you love this cover? A good-looking guy, a dragon—and a nun! Some people might find it a contradiction to have nuns and dragons together, but I don’t see a contradiction with putting religion in a fantasy setting. In fact, I believe it enhances the story.
I originally included religion in my DragonEye world simply because I had a noir-style dragon detective, Vern. Noir detectives always have a tortured past they are jaded about. What works better for a dragon than an encounter with St. George? Of course, if George had killed him, I’d have no character, so he drafted him instead, and now Vern’s stuck serving God, and in some very unusual ways.

Of course, that meant I needed an infrastructure to support George and direct Vern; Sister Grace just jumped into one of the stories, and since that universe is one of magic and magical creatures, she’s a part-siren nun with powerful magical ability dedicated to God’s works. This has set me up for some powerful—and fun!—challenges when merging a known religion into a fantasy world.

1. Keeping the line between fantasy and reality. I remember hearing about one author who had to stop writing one of her series because people were taking it too seriously—she’d written convincing stories of magic happening in our world right now that people pestered her for “the secrets.” While I think we can trust that most people reading fiction know it’s FICTION, we need to be careful not to be too convincing in our realism. Even though my DragonEye world is totally implausible, I made a line: Mundanes (people of our world) can’t do magic—genetics or God’s Will (both, really), but only a few Faerie humans can perform magic—and even then, they need to be near the Faerie realm or have a stored supply. (That’s important in Live and Let Fly.)

2. The faith needs to be believable to the creatures of your world. For example, a “Mother goddess” on a world of insectoids that hatch, alone and independent, from eggs--why would such creatures, who have no concept of "mother" by nature, develop such a religion? Just like a blind race would never develop the concept of visual color, so this species would not develop a religion around a nurturing motherly figure. They would worship God in some other image that they, by their nature, would understand. A great example of this is "Dyads" by Alan Loewen and Ken Pick. Their foxlike creatures, who mate for life, have their own trinity: husband, wife and eternal dance.

In Live and Let Fly, I had to adapt what is essentially a Catholic faith to a world that included other creatures—from dwarfs to dragons—and to take into account the ancient gods. Magic also changed the basic nature of the battle between Good and Evil. Their World War II, for example, was about Satan trying to take over the world.

3. If you are incorporating faith into your fiction, especially true faith, do not use the story to serve it. In other words, you want your religion to be an integral part of the world, supporting the plot and characters and not to deliver a message. If the book becomes all about The Message, then you lose the reader—and your chance to reach them. Themes are important as are lessons, but they are the subtext. The story is what gets readers to read the book; the theme is what keeps them thinking about it. Show the difficult as well as the beautiful of your religion, make it take the back seat when it needs to; do not preach. (This is actually not a problem for me, since I never start with a message in mind—I’m just trying to write a crazy fantasy mystery.)

I believe that faith is a part of sentience, and as a result, I incorporate faith in my stories—sometimes based on real religions, sometimes fully make-believe. Done well, they enhance the world and the characters. It’s worth the challenges.


Thanks to Karina Fabian for stopping by! Come back on April 12 for my review of Live and Let Fly.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Author interview: Elizabeth Ashtree

Our interview today is with Elizabeth Ashtree, author of Maiden's Mistake.

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

Elizabeth: My latest book is a Victorian romance, Maiden's Mistake, from Musa Publishing,  It is available as a Kindle book from Amazon at  I have a web page at, a blog called Telling Tales at, and I'm on Twitter @eashtreebooks.  

Jennifer: Tell us about your book.

Elizabeth: Knowing he can never have children of his own, Jonathan Everleigh, Earl of Mercia, marries scandal-plagued Juliette Markham, saving her from disgrace. But when he finds his ruined bride is still a virgin on their wedding night, Jonathan vows to annul their marriage. Then Juliette discovers that she actually is with child, this time from her wedding night, and she is as determined to stay married as he is to leave her. When Jonathan’s past catches up with them, the Earl and Lady Mercia must navigate their marital problems, countless dangers, and a final confrontation with the madness plaguing them. If they can make it out alive, love might be there waiting for them on the other side.

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

Elizabeth: I've spent some of my writing exploring the idea of children who are not our own, but whom we come to love as if they were our own flesh.  I have some contemporary romances with Harlequin Superromance that also explore this idea in different ways.  But I longed to write a historical novel, too.  So I wrote a story about a tormented hero and the uncommon woman who drags him back to happiness through sheer determination.  I like twists, so I worked in that he would marry this disgraced young woman, who'd been taken advantage of by a cad, partly to gain an heir, given youthful injuries that left him infertile--a secret he keeps from everyone.  When she shows up a virgin on their wedding night, he feels betrayed when other men would be delighted. Then, when she becomes pregnant from that marital union, he feels doubly betrayed and wants to know who she'd gotten herself pregnant with.  It's a great twist on the more usual period stories.  The heroine is strong and capable, but a victim of all that young women were not taught about their own bodies at that time.  

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

Elizabeth:  I use a pen names because my day job is as an attorney with the National Security Agency, part of the Department of Defense.  My day job doesn't mix well with writing romance (although when co-workers find out about my writing, they are very supportive).  Because of that  fun, but demanding day job, I don't yet have time to write full-time, but hope to start once I retire from Federal service in a few years.  I write in the evenings and on weekends, but since my husband and I moved to a log home with a small orchard on six acres, I find myself working and playing outside, too.  So it's a struggle to find writing time.  Nevertheless, I can't imagine not putting stories into the computer and sharing them through publication.  I love to write.

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

Elizabeth:  I write from a lengthy synopsis.  I figured out that I need to write a synopsis to submit a manuscript to a publisher, so I might as well write one first and use it to guide the story.  However, I do deviate sometimes from what I originally planned.  Characters develop identities and "speak" for themselves 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?

Elizabeth:  I am a member of an excellent critique group run by Ruth Glick who writes as Rebecca York.  We are dedicated to producing published stories and have been wonderfully successful at that for all members.  One things I get out of the group, besides the great company of smart authors, is the pressure to keep writing so I'll have something to read when we meet.  It's wonderful to get immediate feedback on things just written from professional writers who know what they're talking about.

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

Elizabeth:  I find marketing to be the most difficult.  It can be very time consuming and there are only so many hours in a day.  And I'd always rather be writing.  

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

Elizabeth:  as I mentioned, I've got the interesting day job.  Then I have two grown sons (one who, along with his wife, has given me my beloved grandson; the other who is studying writing in a Masters of Fine Arts program).  My husband and I recently moved to rural Pennsylvania and have been trying to reinvigorate the orchard that came with the six acres.  And we have two tiny chihuahuas.  One is all black and played with my agency badge when we first met her, so we named her Spy. The other one had three different names before her antics informed us her name needed to be Ping (yes, she's rather lively!).

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

Elizabeth:  I love to read fantasy and speculative fiction.  The obvious ones, such as Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, the Dresden Files.  Also recently discovered Patricia Briggs.  Also longing for conclusion to the Name of the Wind.  Humor also attracts me, such as First World Problems: 101 reasons the terrorists hate us.  Sometimes I go for suspense, such as anything by Harlan Coben (who is also a hilariously funny in-person speaker, too) or Dean Koontz.  I have a long commute to work each day so I read a lot of audio books!

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

Elizabeth:  Terry Pratchett.  I've read every book of his in print, including children's books and manga.  I have a quote from one of his books, Jingo, at work: "If we succeed, no one will remember.  And if we fail, no one will forget." And The Truth is my all time favorite book.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

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 Jennifer Hurst, author of Fall. Listen live on Wednesday, April 4 at 3:30 Pacific Time or hear the recording any time after the show at

...the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair..." Genesis 6:2

And Julia Dayle Halstead had no idea she was a target.

Find out more about Jennifer at