Monthly Archives: July 2015

Cover Reveal – TRIANGULATING BLISS by Janelle Jalbert

MBB_TourBanner_TriangulatingBliss copy

A struggling veteran reads about the mysterious death of a local athlete and wants to learn more. He meets the owner of the business linked to the crime and discovers others have “disappeared”.

All stories include a man with dark hair, blue eyes, and a strong jaw.

Then, it’s his turn.

The mysterious forces at Bliss change everything. What brought them all to Bliss is not as it appears and their lives are powerfully interconnected across space and time.




September 20, 2013

Greg’s mind didn’t follow his body into the coffee house. His mind was still on the fact that with a few strokes of a pen, he had undone everything that he worked towards. The exhilaration of that definitive step was quickly replaced by a growing sense of unease. It wasn’t his style to pull the trigger, figuratively or literally, without having a game plan. Then again, he didn’t need a game plan, he needed a life plan. One step at a time. He chastised himself as he joined the line of caffeine-craving citizens.

The newspapers near the door caught his attention. All of the headlines contained some variation of the same – Local Sports Legend Found Dead at 27.

Ha, Legend at 27? Greg thought. I’m 29, and no one’s calling me a legend. Survived a bomb in Afghanistan…haunted by the nightmares…soon to be an Ellison family disappointment when everyone learns what I did, and a guy who played basketball is considered a legend…at 27? He looked around the coffee house. Half of the people in line were double that age. At best – maybe – they were a legend in their own minds. Greg’s self-loathing got ahead of his caffeine fix. He distracted himself with one of the newspapers.


Greg studied the series of pictures of the same man, as a teen in a high school basketball uniform, in a college uniform, and in a professional one. The line for coffee at 8:30 in the morning was nearly out the door, so it gave Greg time to flip through the story.

Mikel Thomas, 27, was found in his West Los Angeles home Thursday night. His wife, Nisha, found Thomas bleeding from an apparent, self-inflicted gunshot wound when she returned home from a taping of her talk show. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Greg caught up with the line’s progress and continued to read.

Thomas, a professional basketball player, had a troubled career in Philadelphia, Miami, and Sacramento. He attended Pasadena High School where an injury forced him to give up a promising football career. Thomas began playing basketball as a junior and became a top college recruit. He attended college in Los Angeles before being drafted to Philadelphia.

Shoulda played sports. Greg thought.

Thomas was involved in a shooting incident that left one dead after he was traded to Miami. His repeated altercations on and off the court led to a suspension. After a trade to Sacramento, Thomas missed part of the season for an undisclosed medical condition following a mental evaluation in a Pasadena hospital last Christmas. Thomas had a history of drug and alcohol incidents, but detectives declined to comment on that being a possible cause. The investigation continues.

Pretty standard celeb drama. Greg barely registered the comments from the player’s wife and a teammate about the shock of it all. He caught up with the coffee line and skimmed further.

Mary Thomas, Mikel’s mother, called into a sports radio show late Thursday. When asked if there was any indication that Thomas was in trouble, she responded. “He kept saying that his disappearance from that Bliss bar changed him forever. It was that crazy bar that killed him. I know it.”




Janelle Jalbert has ghostwritten 15 nonfiction books on topics ranging from productivity, money management, marketing, cooking, and relationships. She also worked as a copywriter for some of the biggest online names and worked as a motorsports reporter covering NASCAR. Jalbert enjoys bringing stories to life that celebrate the magic in everyday living. To learn more about her current and upcoming releases and promotions visit Jalbert currently lives in Southern California, though she regularly returns to her second home in North Carolina when her pack of pups grants her a vacation.

Freebies & Bonuses:




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Janelle will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.




Book Tour ~ Overcoming Anxiety by David Berndt


Title: Overcoming Anxiety
Author: David Berndt, Ph.D.
Publisher: David Berndt, Ph.D.
Pages: 110
Genre: Nonfiction/Self-Help
Format: Kindle

The good news is that anxiety can be overcome without relying on medication. Psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., in Overcoming Anxiety outlines several self-help methods for management of anxiety and worry. In clear simple language and a conversational style, Dr. Berndt shares with the reader powerful step by step proven techniques for anxiety management.

You will learn:

  • A Self-hypnosis grounding technique in the Ericksonian tradition.
  • Box Breathing, Seven Eleven and similar breathing techniques for anxiety relief.
  • How to stop or interrupt toxic thoughts that keep you locked in anxiety.
  • How to harness and utilize your worries, so they work for you.
  • Relief from anxiety through desensitization and exposure therapy.

The book was designed to be used alone as self-help or in conjunction with professional treatment Dr. Berndt draws upon his experience as a clinician and academic researcher to give accessible help to the reader who wants to understand and manage their anxiety.

Overcoming Anxiety

For More Information

Overcoming Anxiety is available at Amazon.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About The Author


David J. Berndt, Ph.D. was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago where he published or presented over 80 papers and articles before establishing a private practice. Dr. Berndt currently lives in Charleston, S.C. where he also teaches in an adjunct capacity at the College of Charleston. He is best known for his psychological tests The Multiscore Depression Inventory, and the Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children, both from Western Psychological Services.

His latest book is the nonfiction self-help, Overcoming Anxiety.

For More Information

Visit David Berndt’s website.
Connect with David on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit David’s blog.

Author Interview

David. Thanks for being here today. Tell us about you
I am a clinical psychologist by day, and an author after hours. I live in beautiful Charleston, SC.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I really like not only being able to make a difference in the lives of my clients, but being able to learn new things every day to improve my craft (both my therapy and my writing).

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I am pretty sure my first choice would be Meher Baba, the man who is probably most famous for the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” quote that Bobby McFerrin turned into a song.. As far as I can tell he was probably not only the most loving and compassionate man of his time, but also the most fun. Second choice would probably be Ernest Hemmingway, especially if the Spanish civil war was still raging.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Up until now all my publications were aimed at colleagues, but I realized that much of what I have learned over the past 20 years was from my clients, and they have taught me ways to improve and make my interventions more effective. It seemed like sharing some of that knowledge with a wider audience would be helpful. This book is actually the first in the Psychology Knowledge series, and I am committed to doing at least three more.

Tell us your writing process
I actually have a full private practice and a full social life, so in order to write this book, I had to seriously cut back on poker playing. I usually write, at most, in three or four hour blocks, supported by plenty of caffeine.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always written, but mostly for my colleagues. The idea to write for the public grew from a confluence of two lines of experience: First, as I mentioned above, I wanted to share more widely what I had learned practically over the years. The other factor was that I had supported a family member’s literary career by doing her publicity, even winning an award for that effort. So, I was somewhat confident that I could get the word out and the book would be read.

What are you working on next?
I have a series of books coming out, with one scheduled for late October that I am still working on and that addresses Special Topics in Anxiety. It deals with less prominent anxiety related problems ranging from skin picking and hair pulling to Complex Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder and insomnia. Anyone wanting to keep up with what I am writing and also get free reports and information that I am sharing should join the Psychology Knowledge Readers Group.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
When I keep up with it, I am a pretty good poker player, sometimes competing in WSOP circuit events. Of course psychology comes in handy there. I also play bass guitar, but it has been a while since I played with a band.

Who are your favorite authors?
Hemmingway and Tom Robbins stand out for me but I can’t leave out my beach reading obsessions like Lee Childs, James Lee Burke, and Charlotte Hughes, all New York Times bestsellers. Charlotte also happens to be my wife.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Travel. I have been to all over (India, China, Morocco, Brazil, Turkey to name a few) but my favorite vacation is the Greek Islands. One place I haven’t been that I would love to see is Australia and New Zealand.


Any final thoughts?
If you are struggling with anxiety, Overcoming Anxiety can help you build a set of tools that can empower you to tame and harness your feelings. Please let me have your feedback, that’s how I learn and grow. It’s fine to tell me how much you liked the book, but it is even better to let me know how I could explain something more clearly or when you make a suggestion of what I left out that was the most helpful to you. Thanks again for the opportunity to have this interview. It happens to come during my launch extravaganza in which the Kindle ™ version of the book is marked down from 5.99 to only 99 cents so, if you want the eBook version, you probably don’t want to wait to buy. Also, while the print book is everywhere the digital book is, for now, exclusive to Amazon ™

Book Tour – Tales by Charles Todd


 About the Book
Title: Tales
Author: Charles Todd
Genre: Mystery & Detective

TALES is a collection of Bess Crawford and Ian Rutledge short stories published together for the first time from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd.  Now published together for the first time: Charles Todd’s beloved short stories – “The Kidnapping,” “The Girl on the Beach,” “Cold Comfort,” and “The Maharani’s Pearls”-about intrepid Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge and dutiful battlefield nurse Bess Crawford.   The vibrant tales transport readers from the homefront in Great Britain where the ominous clouds of war were ever-present during World War I to the bomb riddled the frontlines as soldiers desperately sought to gain ground again Germany with Lieutenant Ian Rutledge and finally to the exotic, dangerous India of Bess Crawford’s youth. Together they create an extraordinary glimpse into the treasured worlds of some of mystery’s most cherished characters.

Author Bio

Charles Todd author photo

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother-and-son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina.



From The Maharani’s Pearls: A Bess Crawford Story

“We followed the Maharani and her entourage out to where her motorcar waited. I remembered that the first time I’d seen her, I was sadly disappointed that she hadn’t arrived on an elephant. Now, as my father was handing her into the rear of the motorcar, I looked at her guard, always handsomely dressed, plumes in their caps, sitting astride lovely black horses. Behind them was an assortment of grooms, and see her driver set out from the compound gates, I realized that I’d seen of those grooms before. It was in the village not an hour ago, and he’d been standing behind one of the stalls near the fortune-teller’s tend, talking to a man with a long scar on his face. But what could he possibly have been doing there?

I touched my father’s arm. ‘That groom – I’m sure I saw him today in the village. But he wasn’t wearing the Maharani’s livery at the time.’

My father turned quickly. ‘Tell me.’

If I explained what I’d seen, it would mean confession to my own escapade. But I could hear the fortune-teller’s voice again: The life of someone you care for is in grave danger. My child, you must go now. Before it is too late.

Had she been telling my fortune at that point? Or warning me? Had she heart something? Gossip flew about the marketplace like birds on the wing.

Had it been said in an entirely different tone of voice, not the singsong of a pretend trance?
‘The village fortune-teller. I think she knew something. It was after Simon had come into the trend, you see. Perhaps the warning was meant for him or even for both of us. Please? Ask Simon.’

. . . You must go now. Before it is too late.

If I’d lingered at the bazaar, I’d have arrived too late for the Maharani’s visit. Go with this man, she must have meant. Now. Before it’s too late.

Of course it was known that the maharani would be calling on my mother. Her entourage would have been seen arriving at the compound. Everyone talked about whatever the Maharajah or his family did. A new parrot, a new motorcar, a new jewel, a new elephant – it didn’t matter, the news would spread on the wind.

My father said urgently to me. ‘I can’t go to the colonel with only the information I’ve collected from the my daughter, my batman, and a fortune-teller. What else do you know? You must tell me.’

‘I don’t know anything else –‘ I began, beginning to worry in earnest now.

From behind us, Simon clear his throat. I’d forgotten he was there.

‘Because of the heat today, your men haven’t been out on patrol yet.’

My father wheeled. ‘You’re right. Simon, go and tell them to be ready to ride in five minutes. And make certain each man has a rifle and a pistol. With double the usual amount of ammunition for both.’ To me he said, ‘Go inside. Tell your mother what is happening.’

‘But the Maharani,’ I argued. ‘I’m worried about her.’ Something else occurred to me. ‘She didn’t invite me to visit.’

‘Yes, she was worried. She didn’t want you in the middle of whatever might happen in the next ten days. But you’re right about one thing. It’s happening now, not later. Go on, tell your mother. We might not be back for a while.’”

Interview With… Duncan Ralston

Hi folks. Today I am joined by Duncan Ralston. Duncan was a guest a few days ago with the release of his ne book, Gristle & Bone.

Duncan, thanks for being here today. Tell us about you –
I’m 38. I grew up half in Toronto, and half in a small town. I currently live in Toronto with my girlfriend and our dog, where I’ve worked behind the scenes in television for the past ten years.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Gotta get working! Write, write, write. It doesn’t hurt that my dog is probably panting heavily to wake me up for his walk.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I’d love to pick Stephen King’s brain for a day. Could it be ‘80s King, though? Is time-travel an option?

What’s the story behind your latest book?
I wanted to write a collection of horror stories because I love writing characters. With short stories, I could write as many as were necessary and take them all to their breaking points. I suppose that makes me a bit of a sadist. I also wanted to give potential readers a good idea of my writing style, and with Gristle & Bone, I was able to write in multiple styles and voices within the same book. I’ve always felt the style should fit the story, and I hope Gristle & Bone reflects that.

Tell us your writing process.
I try to clear out the day’s business first. That includes: Facebooking, tweets, emails, etc. Then I’m free to lose myself in the writing for a bit. Usually I read over whatever I’ve worked on the previous day, then get right into it. I break here and there for snacks and messing around with the dog. I don’t worry about writing every day or word counts (they’re a distraction), but when I do sit down to write, I try to make a day of it.

Do you have any advice for other writers how they can get the word out about their book? 
I spend a fair amount of time promoting, sometimes too much. What I’ve noticed is that “Buy my book” tends to annoy people more than it sells books. Connect with people. Discuss shared interests. Avoid paying for Facebook Page “Like” ads, as the people who end up liking your page rarely if ever interact. They may mostly be bots.
Also, be courteous to bloggers/reviewers. Be respectful of their rules. Seriously. They may be your biggest allies in the industry.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since age 15 or so, but I didn’t think it might be a viable option until about 2010, when I won a pitch contest for a TV pilot I was working on, essentially a short story about the series. After that, I wrote a novel, some pilot and spec scripts, and then the stories collected in Gristle & Bone. People seemed to respond to them when I self-published it last year, so I started reaching out to reviewers and publishers. I was pretty ecstatic when Booktrope’s Forsaken horror imprint picked it up in the winter for republishing, and their input has been invaluable.

Tell us about your main character.
As there are many main characters in Gristle & Bone, I’ll stick with one: In “Viral,” Tara Maxwell is a music journalist who’d always wanted to be an investigative reporter. She’s tenacious, and has the chops for it, but for one reason or another she’s stuck in her current gig.
When she sees a viral video of a depressed teen girl who disappears on camera, it strikes a chord. She’s worried about disappearing into obscurity herself, metaphorically, of leaving nothing of her behind, so she decides to find out if it’s real or a very good hoax. If it is real, what happened to the girl? We discover she has very personal reasons for looking into the girl’s story the closer she gets to the truth.

What are you working on next?
My “first” novel, Salvage, is due out this fall. Here’s the official blurb:
When his sister drowns, Owen Saddler follows in her footsteps, determined to uncover the circumstances surrounding her death by diving into the murky waters of Chapel Lake.
30 years ago, the town of Peace Falls was flooded for a hydroelectric dam, and its ruins remain below. The disappearance of the church’s Pastor and parishioners still haunts the citizens of Chapel Lake, but does the church haunt the lake itself? Is Owen really seeing ghosts, or has he succumbed to the depths of madness?

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I can identify pretty much any song I’ve heard a couple of times within about two seconds.

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Hike, travel, read, walk the dog, and when I get a chance, hang out with the family and friends.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
Beyond Salvage, I’ve got several novels/novellas/short stories on the go, along with a screenplay or two. I’m very excited about the ideas I’ve got percolating. Unfortunately they’re top secret at the moment, but I’m itching to tell someone!

Where can people find you on the web?
You can find me at my website, The Fold (
On Facebook at
On Twitter @userbits.

Any final thoughts?
Thanks for having me. And Keep it Creepy!


Excerpt of “Viral” from Gristle & Bone
“You are looking into the Walker disappearance, is that correct?” Constable Nadeau dropped into the chair behind her desk with a squeak. She spoke with a heavy Quebecois accent, the English slightly stilted; th becoming t or d, depending; lone hs dropped; emphases in all the wrong places.
“Yes, that’s right,” Tara said. “Do you mind if I record this?”
Nadeau waved the question away.
“How long has she been missing?”
“Two week,” Nadeau said. “The Bamber girl reported she had not seen her the afternoon Daria made her video.”
“Nor her parents.”
Nadeau wore mysterious smile as she shook her head. “Oh no. MacKenzie was supposed to meet Daria to work on a video project for school. I suspect it was this video you see on the internet, which she had uploaded later that day.”
“You think these kids worked on it together. That it’s just special effects.”
“Oh, I have no doubt, Ms. Maxwell.” She folded her hands over the desk, leaning forward on her elbows, reminding Tara of Hal Waterman. “And you? Surely you don’t think it’s real?”
“Of course not.” Her indignation seemed forced even to herself. “Why did you smile when I asked about her parents? Did they—?”
“Greta and Anson Walker are… unique.”
“Unique? How so?”
Nadeau raised her sharp eyebrows. “Let us just say, it’s no wonder to me why Daria Walker disappeared,” the detective said, then frowned a little at the unintentional implication, and corrected herself: “Went missing. The girl’s father didn’t even remember what she was wearing that day, not that it would have helped one way or the other.”
De udder was how it sounded in Nadeau’s accent, and Tara couldn’t help but grin. “Why not?”
“The thing is, Daria left a pile of clothes in front of the computer before she slipped out of her bedroom window. The hoodie, her jogging pant, a pair of socks and underwear. All the things she wore in the video. There was even an earring and a little beaded bracelet—”
Tara seized on it: “A friendship bracelet?” Left her clothes. Left her bracelet, and her jewelry… everything she couldn’t take with her to the Great Beyond.
“Maybe.” Nadeau shrugged. “She’d just left it there on the carpet beside her desk chair. Like she want us to believe she literally disappeared…”

Book Tour – Lucien and I by Danny Wynn



Book Genre: literary fiction
Publisher: Bright Lights Big City
Release Date: Late August 1994
Buy: Amazon

Book Description:

Be Careful What You Wish For…

What if you had the chance to relive your twenties the way you really wanted them to be?

Thirty-nine-year-old David is presented with that opportunity by Lucien, a charismatic young Englishman. Ranging from downtown Manhattan to Istanbul, Majorca, and the Hamptons, the two of them live a life of excess—drugs, beautiful women, and adventure—and forge a strange but great friendship.

But with every journey, there comes a price; and in every paradise there lurks a temptress. For David, will his quest for excitement lead him to betrayal and loss?

“Wynn immerses readers in psychologically rich studies of his characters and their quiet but fraught interactions. The prose is subtle but vivid, intellectually engaged but never arid, as the author provides readers with a flurry of glittering snapshots that gradually coalesce into a picture of tarnished longings. An engrossing and vibrant…meditation on friendship and the deep currents that run beneath its surface.”

—Kirkus Review

Author BioPicture

Danny Wynn is a full-time fiction writer, and before that, he was an executive in the record industry and part-time fiction writer. He has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, and London, and now makes his home in the West Village with his wife and two children. His other favorite place in the world (after the West Village) is the island of Mallorca, Spain

He is currently finishing two novels.

Danny describes himself as a creature in search of exaltation. In addition to attending the original Woodstock Music Festival, some of the other great concerts he’s been to include: Roxy Music on the Avalon Tour at Radio City, Bon Iver at Town Hall and subsequently at Radio City, The National at BAM and later at The Beacon, and The Waterboys at the Hammersmith Palais, Bruce on his solo tour, U2 on Zooropa and later tours, Dylan on the right night, and Van on the right night.

Among his favorite movies are: Performance, Bad Timing, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and Withnail and I. His favorite novels include: The New Confessions by William Boyd; A Flag For Sunrise and Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone; The Magus by John Fowles; Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison; andThe Comedians and The Quiet American by Graham Greene.

He derives enormous sustenance from his close friends.


Drop ’em, blossom. Show us yer growler.”

Mock Cockney accent, exaggerated deep voice, cartoon lasciviousness. Signature Lucien. Lines that caught his ear, phrases, often said apropos of nothing, no context. Sometimes staying with him for a few days, sometimes woven in and out of his conversation for years. Absorbed into his persona, like the flaws in fine linen, a natural quality of the fabric, as fashionistas are fond of saying. He always seemed half-aware that his persona was on display, but was relaxed and natural at the same time. He was a performer. Mephisto. Gollum.

That particular line—“Drop ’em, blossom…”—Lucien picked up from a scoundrel named Bobby Stevens toward the tail end of his days at public school. Bobby S was an older guy, mid-twenties, local, a bit dodgy. Sold hash and other drugs. His crude personality had a curious appeal, especially for the aristobrats at the school, always on the lookout for a bit of the debauch.

One night, Lucien and a couple of friends went out with Bobby S to the new nightclub in town. It had been promoted as having a spectacular state-of-the-art laser show. They stood around in the flashing darkness, drinking pints and gin and tonics. Before long, Bobby S pronounced in his coarse lowlife manner, which Lucien later came to mimic so well, “This is crap! I’ve seen better light shows in the cancer ward at the Children’s Hospital.”

Yeah, I know—vile and disgusting, not remotely funny to most people. But the over-the-top outrageous­ness made it humorous to the young lads. And even many years later, when Lucien related the incident to me and we were both supposedly mature adults, the same atrocious quality made us laugh. We cringed at how out of order it was, but all the same we laughed. That’s what we were like.

Author Interview

Danny, thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you.….
I am at long last a real writer who writes good books, and I got there through a very large number of tiny incremental improvements. I am sometimes very unhappy, but I do my very best to enjoy life. I love my wife and kids and friends.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?  
First, my wife and kids. And second, to write novels that speak to people so they are touched and moved.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why? 
Bob Dylan because he is the greatest musical and lyrical artist of all time. Or Bill Murray because I think his company would among the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
It is the story of a strange but great friendship between a very charismatic young man and a middle-aged man trying to re-live his young adulthood, and it takes place predominantly in the nightlife of Istanbul and downtown Manhattan, all of which is captured with great realism that the reader can see, hear and experience for himself or herself. The story is truly shown, not told.

Tell us your writing process. 
I try to have a complete story before I start, especially an effective ending. Then I figure out how to show the story rather than tell it. Then I build it in layers via numerous drafts in which I gradually find ways to make my writing as alive and precise as possible, and add telling details and characteristics that add to the realism and the interestingness of the work.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 7 or 8.

Tell us about your main character:   
My main character in “Lucien And I” is the first person narrator, David Burden, and he feels that he was born at 29 years old, and is on a quest for excitement and capture the young adulthood he didn’t have. He is not a good person, but he is an extremely honest narrator. And in the course of his quest, he does an enormously bad thing and deeply regrets it.

What are you working on next? 
A highly compelling, page-turning thinking man’s adventure story that takes place in the Greek islands, and has three uniquely interesting well-drawn characters. It is going to be by far the best novel I’ve ever written. It is very exciting to write. I feel like I have electricity in my veins.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
No, but I write very well.

Who are your favorite authors?  
Graham Greene, Robert Stone, William Boyd, John Fowles, Jim Harrison, Somerset Maugham, Pete Dexter and Paul Theroux.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Read, listen to live and recorded music, travel, and spend time with the people I’m close to, sometimes combined with a fine meal.


Any final thoughts? 
The subject of all my novels is ultimately the human condition. If that subject interests anybody reading this, they should read my novels.

Interview With… Cindy Skaggs

Hi Readers. Today I am chatting with Cindy Skaggs, author of the Untouchable Series.

Cindy, thanks for being my guest here today. Tell us about you.
I’m a single mom who works three jobs, has two kids (15/13), two dogs, a cat, a car payment, and a mortgage. I think I’m pretty normal (which is what we all want to believe). I go to the gym on a semi-regular basis (ok, I try), I hike when I have the time, and focus a ridiculous amount of energy on my kids, because they need me more now than they will in five years. I also just finished my MA in creative writing and I’m going on to get my MFA so that I can teach at the university level. I write genre fiction and literary nonfiction (which is a really weird combination that freaks out my professors).

Writing is my obsession, I like fictional people, and I read like a junkie.

Cindy Skaggs

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I’m a night owl, so mornings are a form of torture. I use a sleep mask so the dawn creeping into my east-facing window doesn’t bring the day on sooner than necessary. I haven’t found a way to dim the sound of birds chirping (why, oh why, are they so happy when it’s not even 4 in the morning! Don’t they know I’ve just turned off the computer?).

When I’m writing, what gets me out of bed is the voices in my head. That elusive stage between wake and sleep is when I get my best ideas. I’ve been known to sleep with my laptop in the bed next to me so I don’t miss a single thought as I slowly transition into consciousness.

If I’m not in the middle of a project, I wake up to get the kids off to school (I am not a chipper morning mom who makes full-course breakfasts, as my children will sadly lament). Plus, there’s the whole dogs need to go outside thing that forces my tired backside from the mattress.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Limiting it to one person is another form of torture, but if I had to limit it to one living person, I’d say J.K. Rowling. I think she’s brilliant as a writer, but also as a person. I follow her on Twitter because I love that she stands up to the trolls and the activists and isn’t afraid to express her beliefs. She’s reached a stage in life where she can say what she means without worrying about the repercussions.

Also, like Rita Skeeter, I want Hogwarts dirt (does that make me a fan-girl?).

What’s the story behind your latest book?
If there’s anything I detest more than mornings, it’s the idea that someone is watching me be a complete spaz on the treadmill. When I first joined the gym, I felt like someone was always watching (I know, no one is paying any attention), but as I ran (or did the run-walk thing), I imagined a woman who really did have someone watching her every move. Why were they watching? How would she react? What kind of woman really did command the attention of every man at the gym? And why would she hate it? Imagining this took me out of my own head and helped me log more miles on the treadmill.

The first scene was written while I ran, and I created this thoroughly uptight, terrified, ex-wife of a crime boss who has more watchers than a reality TV show. Experience has taught her that she can’t trust a soul, even at the gym.

After I finished the first draft of Untouchable, I was cleaning out old files from my computer, when I ran across one in WordPro format entitled MafiaWife. Because WordPro is dead, I had no way to open the file and see my initial idea, but it taught me that our imagination is more powerful than we realize. I had an idea years ago for a book about a mafia wife, but I didn’t put it together until I started running (run-walking) on the treadmill.

Tell us your writing process:
I’m a binge writer. I get an idea and let it percolate, oftentimes for months. I build a music playlist that puts me in the same emotional place as my characters and listen to it incessantly (my 3rd grade nephew has word-by-word knowledge of Imagine Dragons CD because I played it all the time while working on my latest project WC).

I figure out where the book starts and where it ends, because I like my novels to travel full-circle. I put very little in writing until, through some sort of magic (or a deadline), I start to write. Once I put fingers to keyboard, I’m a fast writer. I type close to 100 words per minute and I work hard not to think (I can easily get stuck in my own brain if I’m not careful).

At the height of my manic writing sessions (and they’re fairly manic, with me taking little time for real life or actual showers), I can write several thousand words per day (my best being 10,000 words). I vomit the story onto the page, then take a more leisurely stroll through the manuscript to rewrite and edit. I don’t let anyone read until I’ve done at least one rewrite, and I have non-writing friends who go through first draft.

What has and has not worked for you that you can share with aspiring & upcoming authors?
Writing for the market has not worked for me. In many ways, I wish I could hit a current trend and ride it, but it doesn’t ring true for me, and every time I try to ride a popularity wave, I end up caught in the rip tide. I wrote a couple really bad historical romances in the late 90’s before my daughter was born (actually, I shouldn’t say bad, since one was a Golden Heart finalist, but they just didn’t ring true). It took time for me to realize that I had the voice of a contemporary writer.

What has worked for me is trusting my intuition. When I was in my 20’s, I wanted to be published so bad that I would have done anything. I altered my manuscript after every critique, and it stole the soul from my writing. In the end, I had a “saleable” storyline, with no voice and no passion and no soul (which of course wouldn’t sell). I learned to trust my instinct. I may not be a perfect writer, but I know my vision and I pursue it with relentless passion.

Trust your instincts, is my recommendation to aspiring writers. Instinct will take you farther than anything else.

I would add to this that part of trusting my instinct was submitting to Entangled Publishing. I did the research, and in my heart, I knew it was the place for me. I waited, endured some unfortunate delays, because in my heart of hearts, I knew where I belonged. I’m beyond thrilled with Entangled.  I have so many writing friends who complain about their first release (and their first publisher), but I have nothing but love for the way this has unfolded.  Everything from the edits to the cover has been stellar (is that not an amazing cover!?).

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
In Mr. Pittman’s fifth grade class, he assigned us to write a short story. It was a three-page short story, my first creative writing assignment, set in the Bermuda Triangle that began with one sentence that Mr. Pittman gave us. I rewrote it on purple paper with purple ink. I even wore a dress to read it aloud to the class (as I was a tom-boy, that was newsworthy). That moment of sharing my story with my classmates was it for me. I knew I’d be a writer.

Tell us about your main character:
I like broken people. Some of my favorite writers have these emotionally-together women who have a strong group of friends and wear fantastic clothes and cook brilliant meals, and I love reading these books about strong women forging relationships, but I don’t know women like this. I know broken people, because they’re interesting and fun and challenging and real.

Sofia is repressed. She’s what my mother would call buttoned-up. The hero calls her as starched as the clothes she wears. I have such compassion for Sofia, because she’s living with the consequences of choices she made at 19. All of us have to live with our choices, but hers endanger her life (which she can handle) and that of her son. She wants love, she really and truly wants a hero, but after years of not knowing who she can trust, she trusts no one. That makes her come across as cold, when she’s really just lonely and afraid. At the heart of it, she’s a mom who would do anything to protect her son, and doesn’t realize until he is endangered how far she will go. The endangerment actually leads her into a relationship, because she doesn’t have time to second-guess or fear the consequences. By thinking only of her son, she brings about the biggest and best change in her life.


What are you working on next?
I think in groups of three, so I’m working to finish the Untouchables series. Once you read Untouchable, I bet you can figure out whose story is next. Email or contact me on my website to tell me what you think.

In addition, I started a longer series I affectionately call WC. Talk about broken people, these people are so broken, I’m pretty sure I know them. 🙂 I’ve never attached to characters the way I’ve attached to the heroine in WC. I’m afraid to acknowledge why I attach to such broken, strong, chaotic characters. It’s finished, and I’m working on the second in the trilogy.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
Well, I think writing is a super power, but what do I know? I also play the flute, make crazy-good sculptures out of tortilla dough, and can wrangle the neurotic dog without claw marks scarring my skin (which really and truly is a talent).

Who are your favorite authors?
Well, like mornings, I find limiting myself pretty dangerous territory, but if I had to say it off the top of my head… Nora Roberts, because I like the way the people in the group form a bond and create a “family.” Laura Kaye, because her military characters, like mine in WC, are hardcore, and so broken and loveable and deserving of an HEA. Maya Banks, because her KGI operatives are so danged hot.

What do you like to do with your free time?
I read like a junkie, I hike as often as I can get away with it, I play cards and board games with kids and family, I like reading tarot, and this weekend, I’m observing (participating in) a group hypnosis session (but that may or not be research for the next Untouchables).

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
Imagine I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I have ideas for the next decade, because in my mind, the only limitation is time (and Einstein thought that was an illusion). I have plans to finish the Untouchables series, and you’ll see that there is one character in Untouchable who really needs an HEA (even though Logan would disagree).

In addition, I have the WC trilogy to finish up. This is a group of lost and misbegotten souls who has wound their way into my psyche. If I ever get a tattoo, it will be WC (my promise to myself is to get a WC tattoo when the book reaches a certain sales level… but I’ll never tell…okay, I’ll tell afterwards with a photo on Twitter).

In addition, I have a new group of characters in mind who are fearless and in need of their own HEA.

Where can people find you on the web?

Any final thoughts?
I’m a giant sap (and being published has only intensified it). In my 20’s, I tried to hide it, but as my children hit puberty, I’ve realized that hiding behind a mask, an image of who or what we are supposed to be, well, that’s juvenile. And a waste of friggin time. I love to talk books, and movies, and the HEA. I love talking about lost and misbegotten souls, broken characters, and redemption. I love talking to readers and writers and bloggers and pretty much anyone who wants to engage in social interaction. Hit me up, by email or social media. I’ll respond. How else will we have these amazing conversations?

Book Tour – Patricia Asedegbega

Cover - When I Grow Up


Author of I stand Corrected, Rewind, Balou Uncensored, Bienvenidos a gatos anónimos, Pasarse cuatro Pueblos and Sesenta segundos dan para mucho, Patricia Asedegbega Nieto was born to a Spanish mother and a Nigerian father in Madrid. As a child, she relocated with her family to Nigeria and later returned to Spain, where she acquired her BSc and master´s degree.

She is currently living near Madrid with her family and her very stubborn cat, Merlin Mojito.

Author Pic - Patricia Asedegbega



When I grow up…

“You need a plan B,” said Alicia’s mother when at five years old she told her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Thirty odd years later, Alicia is on plan D: sharing a flat, no tangible savings, and working for hateful Julia, whose sole purpose in life is to make her existence utterly miserable. Good thing she has Oscar and the girls to make the long hours at work bearable. But when a series of events tears the close-knit group apart, putting friendships and motives under suspicion, will Alicia be able to restore balance and set things right? More importantly, will she ever be able to upgrade her life to at least plan C?


I glance at the clock on top of my desk, willing the time to go faster. I have been painfully watching the seconds pass by all morning. In five more minutes Oscar and the girls will be at the kitchen for our accustomed tea break. He had sent a group message half an hour ago informing us when he was taking his break and asked if anyone else was free.
I look nervously at the door, hoping Julia, my boss, won´t choose that moment to open it for one more useless urgent request, when we both know it can also be done three hours from now or even tomorrow. She has a knack for being most inopportune, and if she gives me a task and I take my break late, I´ll have to sit on my own as the others will already have returned to their desks. We are only allowed ten minutes off outside our lunch hour—we always add one or two more, though, as we feel time spent in route to the kitchen should not be included— and we try to coordinate with one another so we can take our breaks together.
The seconds tick so slowly. I can hear Julia on the phone speaking in the voice she uses when she is talking to a client, the same voice that would mislead anyone who didn´t know her into actually thinking she is remotely human.
Just in time, I grab the handset and race to the staff kitchen where Oscar, Emma, Amparo, and Carmen are sitting around the wooden table staring hungrily at the cream-filled buns resting on a plate. We take turns in bringing something to accompany the pot of steaming coffee the first one to arrive makes, and I can´t wait to sink my teeth into what Carmen has brought for us today.
“Ah, there you are!” Emma exclaims as I rush to pour a cup of coffee. “We were only going to give you half a minute more before starting.” The rest start tucking in, while at the same time trying to fill each other in on their hectic days and how our bosses seem to have a goal of making our lives even more difficult than necessary, if possible.
We work for Fernández & Associates. It´s the kind of law firm where the lawyers bill their clients six figures just for answering the phone. We have some of the most prestigious and wealthy clientele, both in Spain and abroad. One of our departments deals with international law, so we cater to all the legal needs of a lot of Spanish businessmen who own companies in other countries, as well as foreigners who come to set up businesses here in Spain. It was started by Sergio Fernández Castellón , the father of our present senior partner, Alejandro. He wanted to provide very personal service to his clients, so our policy has always been to have just five lawyers, each heading a department. This enables them to have a very close and direct relationship with each client. Now that Alejandro has taken over, he is following the same philosophy and, as a result, we have clients that have been with the firm for over thirty years. We accept new clients strictly on recommendations and only on rare occasions.
The firm occupies three floors of a building located in Calle Serrano . The ground floor holds the reception area and conference rooms. The secretaries and junior lawyers have offices on the middle floor. And finally, on the top floor, where few venture except when summoned, the partners have what we like to call their dens.
The five of us are “corporate personal assistants”, which is an important sounding title that really means your job description is whatever the boss wants, no matter how ridiculous it is. We all speak various languages, have university degrees, and are known for our discretion—except during our breaks, of course. There, we have no secrets from each other. But really, apart from it being extremely interesting to know all that goes on with the other four bosses, confiding in each other has really helped us on more than one occasion to narrowly escape impending disasters that might otherwise have cost one or two jobs. So our undercover network is of utmost importance to us and probably to the firm as well.
I love a good gossip, but sometimes knowing what someone else´s boss has done is important for me. I can then feel that I am not the unluckiest person on Earth because I work for Julia.
Julia is a brilliant lawyer. She has two law degrees and a Masters degree, and she speaks perfect English, German and French. She is thirty-five years old—I saw both her passport and ID card, information that was quickly shared with my friends as soon as I discovered it—but she has the character of a cobra, always ready to spring and attack. For some reason, only those of us beneath her station have been “lucky” enough to see that side of her. Her colleagues respect her, and I admit she has earned that esteem by having practically no life outside of work. But that is where her charm ends, especially with me. I seem to always be at the receiving end of her attacks. Sometimes she is all smiles and extremely solicitous, but a second later succeeds in almost reducing me to tears.
After five years of working for her, I have finally developed the ability to look directly at her and not lower my head when she berates me. It all enters through one ear and goes out the other. That, and the fact that I have convinced myself, after some intense online searches, that she must have some sort of emotional disorder that she is probably unaware of.
“It has been a difficult morning,” I say. “Julia missed her dentist appointment and blamed me for it.”
“I know you didn´t forget to tell her,” Oscar replies. “Go on; shock us with what really happened this time.”
“Yesterday morning, I reminded her that it was at nine today. Good thing I also sent a text message to her mobile last night. She got there at ten and was surprised they weren´t able to squeeze her in. She seems to think everything should be dropped when she arrives somewhere. I tried to get her to look at the text message where she could have easily seen the time it was sent, but she refused to, claiming she didn´t receive it. I´m sure she has erased it. I have a good mind to go through her phone, but I´m not going to waste my time as I wouldn´t be able to use it as proof anyway. I know she knows that she isn´t right. It just annoys me how she always seems to blame me for everything that goes wrong without giving me a chance to defend myself. Honestly, this firm does not pay me enough for the mental stress she puts me through.”
“I know what you mean,” says a visibly upset Emma. “Gonzalo forgot his wife´s birthday again, which must be because when he isn´t working he is pursuing anything that closely resembles a female. I sent her flowers as usual, but he didn´t follow it up with a call or do anything special, and she came to the office looking extremely furious. There was a mighty row. I´m surprised it wasn´t heard in the surrounding buildings. Guess who was to blame for everything?”
Amparo says: “You guys are really paying for some past sins in a big way. I have to say that Alejandro, apart from being very easy on the eye, has never treated me in a demeaning manner and is quite considerate for a boss. He even knows when my birthday is and sends me flowers.”
We can´t help but nod in agreement with our mouths full. Even Oscar, who is about to marry his longtime girlfriend, has often said that Alejandro is one of those men that should not exist, as they make women compare what they have at home to them and probably wish they could trade. Every woman in the firm is secretly in love with him— except Julia who seems quite indifferent to his charm, but that just reinforces my belief that she isn´t quite human. He has the dreamiest blue eyes and abundant hair that he absentmindedly has to push away from his eyes occasionally as it is quite long. He looks as if he has just effortlessly stepped out of the cover of a magazine; not at all the image that comes to mind when one thinks of a lawyer. Alejandro heads the International Law Department, so he is not just a pretty face. He has succeeded in maintaining and even upgrading the high standards his late father left the firm with when he handed the reins over to him.
I don´t think he knows I exist, but, like every female worker here, I too have imagined walking down the aisle with him at one time or another. Pity that all his girlfriends have been models or rich heiresses and I, not being one or the other…
We cram all that we can into those short ten minutes, then hurry back to our desks and daily work routines. As soon as I sit down, I read a message from Julia asking me to go to her office, where she proceeds to dictate various letters that need to be sent out. I look up when she finishes the last one to see if she needs anything more from me and see that she is looking at her computer screen intently. I take this as an indication that my presence is no longer required.
“You need to reschedule my dentist appointment and apologize for the mix up,” she says as I reach for the door handle. I hesitate, about to argue, but then I wonder what use it would be. I have no desire to give her one more reason to humiliate me.
I walk away and call as she had asked me to. I say how sorry I am for the misunderstanding, but Esperanza, the receptionist, and I both know who really made the mistake. It´s not the first time it has happened, and it won´t be the last.
I print out the letters, put them into a folder, and take them back to her so she can sign them and so I can post them on my way home. Whilst I do this, I reflect on how difficult some women make it for their own kind sometimes. There is no love lost between us, but for the life of me, I have no idea what Julia has against me. In my case, it´s because of everything she has done to me throughout the years. She has killed any affection or respect I tried time and time again to develop for her. I wonder what she does when she isn´t working. I know there is no husband or children. She keeps her personal life under a closed lid. It seems to be women in general she has a problem with, as the only one of us lowly PAs I have ever seen her smile at is Oscar.
I go online, as I always do when I need a boost, and type the words that will lead me to the images that have always taken me to my happy place…


Patricia, thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you:
I am a product of mixed raced parents and as a result have had the opportunity to live in both Africa and Europe; this has greatly enriched my life. I currently live in sunny Spain and even though I have a degree in Environmental Biology, writing is my passion. My favorite genre is mystery and I have started two series one in Spanish and another in English and I hope to be doing this for a very long time.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The first thought that came to mind when reading this question was “It´s something I do automatically” but once out of bed, I guess I´m inspired by practically everything around me and the people that are important to me. The things we are passionate about keep us going and hopefully bring out the best in us.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Of the living, I´d love to have an insight into the thoughts of any of my favourite writers. Elizabeth George, for example. But if it could be anyone, it would be Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I think she was a remarkable person and I´d have loved to have been able to chat with her.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Although a fiction work, my book “When I grow up…” has an underlining of reality. It will probably remind the reader of childhood dreams and lost opportunities that have taken them to the point in their lives they find themselves in but ultimately, it is a book of hope for the future.

Tell us your writing process:
I don´t really have an organized writing process. I normally have a main idea that I develop as I write, somehow things fall into place and in the end, I´m able to get a coherent story line from all the alternate scenarios running through my head. I write when I can, not really having a fixed schedule or number of hours I dedicate to writing. I do set time frames for the whole process that I do my best to achieve.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?
Being an author is a very competitive career as there are so many talented authors out there trying to leave their mark in the world. I´d advice new authors not to be discouraged and keep trying until they are able to create a small niche for themselves.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
In the past, I had made various failed attempts at being a writer but I didn´t start seriously until about four years ago. I haven´t stopped since then.

Tell us about your main character:
The main character in “When I grow up…” is Alicia. A young woman in her mid thirties, who like most of her peers, struggles to make ends meet. She is a strong, sensitive and determined person who tries to fight against her circumstances and rise above them. I believe she is someone the readers will find easy to identify with.

What are you working on next?
I´m about to continue working on the sequel of my suspense series “I stand corrected”, it will hopefully be out for December.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I think I´m very creative and this comes very handy when writing. I´m also very good at organizing events, especially charity events.

Who are your favorite authors?
My all time favorite author is Agatha Christie; I also enjoy reading Anne Perry, Elizabeth George, P.D. James, Marian Keyes…

What do you like to do with your free time?
I love reading, experimenting with recipes, watching TV series, listening to music…

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I´m having “When I grow up…” translated to Spanish and it will be out in October. For December, the next in The Rosario and Balou series will be released and I have plans for next year to bring out a fiction novel to aid a special needs kids school we help with in Nigeria.

Any final thoughts?
I feel really privileged to be able to do something I´m genuinely passionate about and nothing makes me happier than when someone tells me they had a great time reading one of my books. This is what keeps me going and I hope I´m able to do this for many more years.

Book Tour – To The Promised Land


About the Book
Title: To The Promised Land
Author: Michael Boylan
Genre: Literary Fiction / Mystery

Every student leaving the protected grounds of school wonders: must I now throw away my ideals, or can they guide me through the rough-and-tumble city? The philosopher Socrates’s descent into the bloodsports of business and politics was called “ketabasis.” But for the old college friends Moses and Peter, it is betrayal and murder found in Michael Boylan’s fast-paced and gripping novel, To the Promised Land. Can their friendship, and their morals, survive in the Washington world of corporate crime, backstabbing bosses, floundering do-gooder groups, and a media ravenous for scandal? The old adage, “Do no harm,” is pulverized in Washington’s internecine power-struggles: for nearly every action brings an unexpected harm, and several enemies. Moses leaves the law, seeking atonement for shielding a company that poisoned a town; Peter leaves the small world of the campus, and takes up a controversial campaign to alter affirmative action, seemingly to bring about “the greater good.” Their threads of ethics must do battle against lawyers, private detectives, secretive lobbyists and, looming over all, the charge of first-degree murder. Boylan sets philosophical passions, and an engaged dialogue about forgiveness, inside a film-noir world, where affection, family loyalty, and trust come under threat. Propulsive and witty, To the Promised Land is smart about ideas, and smart about people negotiating justice and power in public life.

—David Gewanter. Professor of English, Georgetown University.

Michael Boylan’s thought-provoking novel, “To the Promised Land,” is a gem. Read it for its suspense-filled, fast-paced action, for the philosophic insights its characters raise as easily as they breathe, or for probing its main mysteries: why did Moses Levi disappear; why did he send his journal to his college roommate; and, more profoundly, how can one heal a guilty conscience or live without harming others?

—Virginia L. Warren, Professor of Philosophy, Chapman University

Author Bio

Michael Boylan is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Marymount University. He is the author of 26 books and over 120 articles in Philosophy and Literature. Details can be found at


Buy the Book:
Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)


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