Sunday, October 30, 2011

I've Won a Bloggy Love Award!

I’ve received a Versatile Blogger and Bloggy Love Award from fellow MuseItUp author, Michelle Pickett.  Check out her award-winning blog, Michelle’s Musings!  Thank you so much for the awards, Michelle.
There are the rules that go with these awards:
  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post. Thanks so much, Michelle!
  • Share 7 things about yourself. (see below)
  • Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it. Here are my 15 Choices (in no particular order):

Karen Cote, Karen Cote TV
Cassandra Carr, Hot Blogging with Heart
Penny Lockwood Ehrenkrantz, One Writer’s Journey
Wendy Laharnar, Wendy Laharnar’s Blog
W. Lynn Chantale, Decadent Decisions
Chris Redding, Chris Redding Author
Killarney Sheffield, Killarney Sheffield’s Blog
Suzanne Drazic,  Putting Words Down on Paper
Allison Knight, Allison’s Musings
Barbara Ehrentreau, Barbara’s Meanderings
Heather Haven, This and That

Seven Things About Me

1.    I’ve been divorced almost thirty years, and I live with my elder daughter, Elizabeth, and fifteen year-old granddaughter, Colleen.  We’ll be moving within a year or so, as she JUST got engaged and her fiancé, Marshall, is expanding his garage and adding a mother-in-law apartment.  He’s a great guy and I’m really happy for them.  My younger daughter, Christine, lives downstate and had three children—Alex, 15; Beth, 13; and Presley, 9.  I’m a doting grandma as much as I can be.  I tend to be heavy on hugs, as I’m broke a lot.  There are grandkid photos on my FaceBook page.

2.    I love animals.  When I was a suburban wife, we had a wonderful dog named Peaches.  When I became a divorcee living in apartments, I started keeping cats.  Right now I have Tinkerbelle and Acey Deucy.  Tink’s mom was Hamster, a barn cat Christine adopted.  I took two kittens from her litter, but we lost Titania this winter to cancer.  Acey’s mom was a stray who gave birth on my neighbor’s patio.  I would go outside and play with the babies.  One evening when I was on the phone, he climbed my screen door when he heard my voice.  He adopted me.  His mom and those siblings who didn’t find homes now live on a horse farm with temperature-controlled stables.

3.    We live at an auto and antique museum with all kinds of cool stuff from the original Batmobile to a haunted barn.  But we don’t have to worry too much about the ghost in the barn, because the Ghostbusters car is also here.  Our landlord owns the auto museum and his brother runs the antique museum.  Elizabeth works there.  She works in the food court, Betty Boop Grill and drives the trolley tours.  We’re about as far northwest of Chicago as you can get and still call yourself a suburb, but it makes for a nice day trip or “staycation.”  It’s the Volo Auto Museum and it’s open year round.

4.    Two years ago I went through addictions treatment at the Danville, Illinois VA Medical Center.  Oh, yeah—I’m a Navy vet.  I was a medic back in the seventies.  I worked surgical ICU and Women’s Surgical at the Navy Hospital in Oakland, California, and then got transferred to the clinic in Pearl Harbor where I promptly got pregnant with Elizabeth and got out.  (I was a newlywed, it was Hawaii…)

Back to treatment—I had reached a point where I was so obese, I was becoming crippled.  I hadn’t weighed myself in over a month when I finagled my way into the program, but I was 296 a month earlier, so I think it’s safe to say I was probably 300 pounds.  I was the only patient in the program dealing with food issues.  Everyone else was there kicking drugs or alcohol.  So, there I sat with my salad and fruit while the guys ate the day-old pastries the local bakery sent over every morning.  It was good practice since I went in Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend and came out December 23.

I gave up sugar and white flour and began to lose weight, but I started to slip in terms of how much I was eating when I gave up my apartment and moved in with Elizabeth.  It turned out to be a really good thing, though.  A doctor at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago (they combined the VA with the Great Lakes Navy Hospital) diagnosed me with celiac disease.  I’m allergic to glutens.  I gave up ALL wheat, rye and barley and I read labels even more carefully than before and as of last week, I’ve lost 130 pounds.  My goal is to lose another twenty or thirty pounds and get my Body Mass Index into the normal range for the first time since I left the Navy.

5.    I’m so addicted to British TV, I’m developing an accent.  We were at a cruise-in for auto enthusiasts and I walked up to a man with an antique car and asked if it had a rumble seat or a boot.  He looked at me like I had two heads.  Then I realized my error and asked if it had a rumble seat or a trunk.  Oops!  We were there with Herbie—the one who went to Monte Carlo.  A man came up and started talking about VW Bugs.  He was asking all kinds of technical questions.  All I could say was, “But it’s Herbie!  He went to Monte Carlo.  Dean Jones drove him and Don Knotts was his sidekick.  Julie Sommers was the love interest and Herbie fell in love with her car.”  He’d ask how many litres the engine was or the size of the tires and all I could say was, “But it’s Herbie!”  Oh, yeah—I got to ride in him, where Don Knotts sat.

6.    I’ve been a member of Mensa.  My membership has lapsed because I couldn’t afford the dues this year.  OK—I’m gonna get political here.  Unless you have a disability that was caused by your military service, you can’t get dental care at the VA.  I’m bi-polar and that wasn’t caused by my military service.  Medicare doesn’t cover dental care, either, and because I’m a vet and seen at the VA, I can’t get Medicaid.  So, I’ve gone over a decade without dental care.  Needless to say, my teeth were falling out of my head.  I had to resort to pulling one myself with the old string and door method.  Someone said that if I could prove my bi-polar disorder was a pre-existing condition and get 10% VA disability, I could get dental care, so when I got up to Lovell I asked about it.  My first suicide attempt was when I was nineteen and the hospital hasn’t closed.  The person I spoke to told me that I could get dental care at Public Health.

So, I went there and it wasn’t free; it’s on a sliding scale.  I still owe them almost $200 for extractions, all of which were done with local anesthesia only.  After they pulled all of the teeth they deemed necessary, I went to get my dentures.  Now mind you, I walked in and said, “I need new teeth.”  There were signs everywhere that said, “No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.”  So imagine my shock when, after pulling most of my teeth, they said, “Oh, you haven’t signed your contract yet,” and told me they wouldn’t replace my teeth until I came up with $1,200.  Cash.  It’s a real testament to my bi-polar meds that I didn’t go into a violent, screaming rage and have the cops called on me.  In fact, I managed to hold my tears until I got into my car, and I only sat there for about twenty minutes before I pulled myself together enough to drive home and cry the rest of the day.

I actually managed to get credit from GE Credit Company’s Care Credit program.  They gave me $1,000 in credit and I found a place in Milwaukee called Affordable Dentures.  I had a major bite problem which the Public Health dentist never mentioned, but all three civilian dentists I saw did.  The first Affordable Denture franchise I went to suggested I try a dental school.  The University of Illinois doesn’t accept Care Credit.  The local dentist I tried suggested braces on the seven teeth I had left on top.  Yeah, right.  The doc in Milwaukee looked in my mouth, said, “I can’t work with this bite.  These teeth have to come out.”  I asked if he accepted hugs.  I had to save up another $500 before I could have the work done, and I’m now paying off Care Credit so I can get my bottom partials.  We definitely need better health care in this country.  It’s ridiculous when a person has to go ten years without dental care and pull her own teeth, and Public Health doesn’t tell you before they pull your teeth that you have to pay cash to have them replaced.  I suspect I wouldn’t have qualified for credit if I hadn’t given up my apartment to make my car payments on my Prius.

7.    Back to where I live.  The reason I live with my daughter is that I couldn’t afford both my car and my apartment.  I’m on disability due to bi-polar disorder and adult ADHD.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the kind of bi-polar disorder that lends itself to ups of great euphoria and creativity.  My manic episodes tend to be violent rages that come out of nowhere, do a lot of damage and leave wreckage to be cleaned up later.  I rate them on the Fugita scale, like tornadoes. There are three stages:  rage, crying and apologizing, and exhaustion.  My current book, Rock Crazy is about Katie McGowan, whose husband is at his wits’ end with her bi-polar disorder.  In a last-ditch, tough-love move to get her to have surgery for her disease, he takes her to the Moon and divorces her.  Katie thinks she’s space sick, but she’s wrong; she’s pregnant.  She finally agrees to the surgery, but it’s too dangerous while she’s pregnant—as are her meds.  I used some of my own manic episodes in the book, although Katie’s hallucinations are a more severe form of the disease than mine.  The Voice is real, however.  I have a Voice telling me my behavior is inappropriate, but I can’t stop once the episode starts.  That gets downright scary.  One of my doctors said it’s like being on a roller coaster.  Once the ride starts, no matter how much you want to, you can’t get off.

So—that’s seven things about me.  Thank you so much for this award, Michelle.  I greatly appreciate it.

The blog tour continues.  One lucky person will be able to choose a signed copy of my first book, Rock Bound, or a Rock Crazy tee-shirt or mug.  And don’t forget to go next-door and comment on my review of The Halloween Dino Trip by Lea Hovris Shizas.  Here’s the link:

Rochelle’s Reviews:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Welcome Killarney Sheffield

RW:    Hi, Killarney.  Welcome to my blog.  Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?

KS:     Wow, just a little bit? LOL! I'm married almost 17 yrs now to a retired dairy farmer who turned beef and have 5 school-aged kids. Before becoming an author I was a Natural Horsemanship trainer, farrier (horse-shoer), equine massage therapist, and level 1 English and Western coach. I also did and still do breed thoroughbreds and appendix horses.

 RW:    How long have you been writing?

KS:     I started as a kid (twelve years old) on my Mom's old manual typewriter. The 'e' and 'g' keys stuck so you had to hit them really hard on the old ink ribbon. I had a great school teacher who encouraged me to write despite being dyslexic and even submitted some of my stuff into various school-aged competitions. I never won anything but I did place a few times. I placed for my first novel Buck about a buckskin color mustang stallion. (I still say Walt Disney stole that idea from me LMAO!) I quit writing late in high school as showing horses and working to put myself through college and pay the rent became priorities. I started again after getting married and having the first three kids because it was easy to do while they were napping. (Incidentally I penned my first historical romance “The Horseguard's Lady” at this time which ended up being my third novel accepted by MuseItUp Publishing ten yrs later!)

RW:    What is/are your favorite genre/s?

KS:     Definitely historical romance. I cut my teeth learning from great writers like the now deceased Kathleen E Woodwiss who was and still is the Queen of tagless writing, and Canadian Jo Beverley a fifteen time best seller and five time RTA winner (who was kind enough to guest on my blog last month). However I do dabble in a little other stuff. I have two soft erotica romances, one 'Chained' set to release October 28, set in 1974 and one book in the coming 2012 MuseItHot Lacey's Lamp series. I have also penned MuseItUp's first accepted steampunk (historical romance-ish) and am working on a tween fantasy (at my kids’ request), a Flapper romance (1924) and an historical/thriller with another Muse author, Nancy Bell. Basically anything post 1980's is fair game for me.

RW:    Who are your favorite authors?

KS:     As I mentioned earlier for historical romance it is Jo Beverley for her amazing description of settings and Kathleen E Woodwiss for her incredible way of going tagless and still keeping you in the scene. My early favorites growing up were Walter Farely- The Black Stallion Series, the Trixie Beldon series, Nancy Drew and great classics like Sounder, Little House on the Prairie and the Big Red series. (Not the cartoon one, but the one about the Irish setter farm).

RW:    What is a typical day like for you, and when do you get your best writing done?

KS:     LOL, I push pull and drag the kids off to school, go like stink off a skunk to get the animal chores and housework done then write from noon to four PM when the kids get home. If I am lucky I don't have to run one of my athletic or 4H kids somewhere and I can squeeze in another couple hours while everyone is watching TV before bed.

RW:    What else have you published?

KS:     I have seven historical romances with MuseItUp and two soft erotica shorts with MuseItHot (under pen name Kelli Key). I have just finished my longest project yet of almost eighty thousand words and sent it off in hopes of getting an agent that will get me into one of my two favorite publishing houses, Avon or Zebra, as well as finishing up my tween fantasy to send to a Canadian children's publisher. In addition to that I am my local newspaper's reporter/columnist for local events and human interest stories.

RW:    If you went to “that God-forsaken rock the Moon,” what one special thing would you take?

KS:     Just one??? My computer for sure but if I could I would definitely sneak in a gallon of vanilla bean ice cream and a large Tim Horton's french vanilla coffee! Oh yeah, and my orange kitty cat 'Bad Baby' and my thoroughbred stallion 'Stamp de Gold' aka 'Love Monkey'. Those two just keep me in stitches and so much unconditional love every day.

Editor’s Note: Someone did sneak a pair of cats aboard the shuttle with the first wave of prisoners to the Moon. Crystal Petrie found them in with the livestock. Didn’t take Eve long to deliver her first litter, either—brazen little hussy. But I suspect the shuttle crew would notice a horse. And on a three-day trip, your ice cream would melt and your coffee would get cold. You’d have to sneak a bag or four of the beans and brew it yourself.

RW:    Tell us about your current book. How many words/pages is it?

KS:     My second release came out in September called Stand & Deliver Your Heart. It is about a female 1800's highway woman (coach robber). Through Mother Nature's stormy whim she unwittingly rescues a suicidal lord in a failed robbery attempt. Her conscience compels her to take him in, but he knows her secret. Will he keep it? Can he save her from the hangman's noose? Who will stand and deliver their heart first? You’ve got to read it to find out. (;

Tag Line: “This is not a fairy tale. No prince is going to come on his white horse and rescue me.”

RW:    Where did the idea come from?

KS:     I honestly can't remember LOL. My ideas come from some pretty strange places sometimes—from my nine year-old son's black Holland lop rabbit Dexter (the star of a work in progress about a female magician), to a documentary I watched on Marie Antoinette (my 2013 release entitled Marie based on the thought “What if Marie had escaped beheading?”). What it boils down to is I am just a hopeless romantic who thinks that life should be fair. (Yes, I'm a Libra. LOL).

RW:    How did you choose your setting? Have you woven any of your own life or environment into it? If not, how did you research the details of the area?

KS:     Well since I write historical romance, history is the key to it all. I use reference books and internet sites to research my stories. (Interestingly enough, I hated social studies/history in school. LOL). There is always a bit of me in every story I pen. For example, my June 2011 release Guilty Kisses has a scene with an...ah...mammary gland dilemma...I am not going to explain it, lol. Read the book. In Stand & Deliver your Heart my second release, I suppose it is her relationship with her horse 'Shadow,' which mirrors how I feel about my stallion. As for my Oct/ 28 soft erotica release Chained, well, it is her whole dairy farm experience. After being married to a man who dairy farmed for thirty years, I have a unique and humorous outlook on the industry and slobbering cows in general. LOL!

RW:    Who is your favorite character in the story?

KS:     That is a tough one. I don't think I have a favorite character but rather favorite traits in each one I write. For example, In Guilty Kisses I love Cassie's, (the heroine’s) naivety. In Stand & Deliver your Heart I love Sara's determination and refusal to accept the world as it is. As for Chained, well I just love Shianne's crass outlook on everything in general. LOL.

RW: How many drafts did you do before the manuscript was ready for submission?

KS:     I do one draft, refuse to character plot because I prefer my heroes and heroines to take the story wherever they please, then I fine tune and submit. I like to keep things simple and I write a fast paced, action filled read because, well a slow story or detail-filled scene bores me. I need a romance that isn't just about the love. Give me ship wrecks, damsels in distress, high speed horse chases and duels and I am hooked!

RW:    What’s the one thing you hope readers will take away with them when they finish reading.

KS:     I hope they had a chance to step out of their stressful world of kids, ringing phones, work demands and crazy schedules. I want to give them hope that love can be found/will be found in any situation if you believe.

Editor’s Note:  When I read Guilty Kisses, I couldn’t put it down and read straight through a family barbecue on Father’s Day.  To be fair, it took the kids until ten PM to put together the gas grill my daughter bought her boyfriend and it was cold outside.  But even when we finally ate at eleven PM, I still couldn’t put the book down until I finished it.

RW: Where can we buy?

KS:     You can find all my releases at, and twenty or so other e-book and paperback vendors. The complete list is on the MuseItUp site.

RW: How can we reach you?

and my soon to be unveiled all in one site:

Excerpt: From 'Stand & Deliver Your Heart'

Another fork of lightning lit up the sky, and she wondered if the weather was an omen of
terrible things to come. She tried to keep from stiffening in the cold, flexing her limbs slowly so
as not to spook their nervous mounts. Her horse shifted its weight, lowering its head away
from the pelting rain.
Sarah listened for any sound indicating an approaching carriage. Where is it? Has the driver turned around and headed back to London because of the storm? Maybe we are wasting our time sitting out here in the rain. perhaps the lady in question is not coming.
Just when she was about to give up, the mare lifted her head, ears pricked forward.
Sarah listened closely. After a few tense moments the sound of jingling harnesses and the rattle of an approaching coach made itself heard over the wind and rain.
“All right men, here she comes,” she whispered over her shoulder. “Get ready.”

KB:     Thank you so much for having me here today!

RW:    You’re so welcome, and thank you for swapping blogs.  Tomorrow Killarney will be hosting me on her blog.  Stop by to meet Scott McGowan, the hero of Rock Crazy, and comment for a chance to win on my blog tour.  One lucky person will be able to choose a signed copy of my first book, Rock Bound, or a Rock Crazy tee-shirt or mug.  And don’t forget to go next-door and comment on my review of Marva Dasef’s Missing, Assumed Dead.  Here are the links:

Rochelle’s Reviews:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Meet Katie McGowan of Rock Crazy

This is the first official stop on my blog-tour.  Follow me through the tour and you could win a prize.  One lucky commenter can choose a signed copy of Rock Bound, or a Rock Crazy tee shirt or mug.  The full schedule is on the left-hand column and the next links are at the bottom of this post.

What’s Rock Crazy about?  Here’s the short version—abandoned, pregnant and bi-polar, Katie McGowan’s going crazy on that God-forsaken rock the Moon!

And now, I’d like to introduce Katie McGowan, the heroine of Rock Crazy.

RIW:         I’m asking these questions in the Rockton Community Hospital, inside Mt. Aragaeus on the Moon, where Katie McGowan has been hospitalized for the remainder of her pregnancy.  She’s lucid and is sitting up in bed as she speaks to me.

What's your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about YOU?

Katie:       I have no clue.  I’m bi-polar, but so are a lot of people.  And it’s not like I came up to the Moon to have that chip implanted in my brain.  I don’t wanna become a robot, or a vegetable.  They say the surgery’s not experimental anymore, but there was a lady in the hospital when I was in for one of my manic tantrums and she had the surgery when it was still an experiment and she was a vegetable.  I don’t wanna be like her.

RIW:         Can you tell us about your hero/ine?

Katie:       I don’t really have one.  [Katie’s eyes well with tears.]  My ex-husband, Scott, brought me up here to this God-forsaken rock, the Moon, and then he dumped me the first time I decked him!  He said he couldn’t deal with my tantrums anymore.  He knew I was bi-polar when he married me the first time and when we renewed our contract after the first five years.  But I knew it wouldn’t do any good to fight him when I looked in his eyes.  Well, when I looked in the one that wasn’t bandaged.  There was no twinkle.  It was just flat and dead looking.  And I didn’t have the strength to fight because I was sick!  I couldn’t keep anything down, including my meds!  How could he yell at me for not taking my meds when I’d try but I’d just vomit them right back up?  I thought I was space sick and Scott—I don’t know what he thought.  But it was morning sickness, all day.

RIW:         What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?

Katie:       Well, I guess I really do need to get the chip implanted in my head.  I’m not space sick; I’m pregnant.  And my boss’ wife says if I want to keep my baby, I have to have the surgery.  But the doc says it’s too dangerous now and my meds’ll hurt the baby so I had to go off them and I can’t stop crying and I know I’m gonna get violent again and prob’ly suicidal and…  Oh, me-ann… I’m in trouble!

RIW:         Do you expect your hero/ine to help or is s/he the problem?

Katie:       Scott says he wants me back.  Like I can ever trust him again.  He says he didn’t really want a divorce.  He was just trying to force me to get the surgery.  He claims he thought if I had to support myself and live on my own I’d “hit bottom” and realize I needed the chip.  He even says he’ll take me home now, but the doc says it isn’t safe to travel.  Scott looked kinda puzzled when the doc said that, but I’m listening to the doc—not Scott.  If he ever wants me back, he’s gotta show me that he wants me and not just our baby.

RIW:         That’s all the questions we have for you. Thank you for speaking to us.

Katie:       Yeah, thanks for interviewing me.  I still don’t see why anyone would want to write a book about me.  I’m not all that special.  Maybe the baby’ll do something important and someone’ll write something cool about me in the history books as the mother of…

[Katie pats her abdomen.]  You’re gonna grow up and do something really important, aren’t you, Baby?

Her eyes go out of focus and after a pause, she replies, “Because you’re special and I’m gonna be a much better Mommy to you than mine was to me.”

Her demeanor changes completely and she snarls almost like an animal, arms wrapping protectively around her swollen abdomen.  It looks as though she’s trying to kick but her legs are restrained by an invisible force.  “Leave me alone you nasty bitch!  I don’t want you anywhere near my baby, Mama!”

“I won’t let her hurt you, Baby.  I promise.  She won’t ‘raise you right’.  Scott, help us!”

A nurse comes into the room and holds a syringe up to Katie’s IV tube.  There’s a faint hiss, and Katie slumps back in the bed, unconcious.  “I’m afraid that’s all you’ll get from her today, Ms. Weber.”

Price:  $5.50


Right now you can go over to Rochelle’s Reviews and see what I had to say about May I Have This Dance by Roseanne Dowell.  Don’t forget to leave a comment on both blogs.  I’ll see you on Thursday, October 20, 2011 over at Decadent Decisions, Lynn Chantale’s blog.

I’ll draw a name from among those who comment on all of the stops between now and The Long & the Short of It Reviews on November 14, 2011 and I’ll announce it here on November 15 2011.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Chapter Forty-Two by Cyrus Keith, Author of Unalive

For those few of you who have not read The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, be warned: What follows is a major spoiler. Six times nine equals forty-two. When I got my brain wrapped around that, my mouthful of cola flew out my nose.
Of course, those of you who haven't read The Hitchhiker's Guide have no idea what I'm talking about, and that's fine. To be frank, some of you who have read it still don't know what I'm talking about. Which is fine. Let me explain it, then.
I first read Mr. Adam's trilogy of five books when it was still a trilogy of three books. The other two came out long before I figured out that six times nine equals forty-two. (Hold on a minute, I'm getting to it, all you math whizzes out there).
My first mistake was thinking that the statement had anything to do with mathematics. It doesn't. I can hear the steam hissing from the algebra professors' ears now. Forget math for a minute. Okay, for a second.
We all know that six times seven equals forty-two, mathematically. And here's how the number forty-two figures in our explanation. An ancient race of pan-dimensional beings built a super-computer to find "the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything." After mulling over the situation for a billion or so years, the computer blew its nose, broke wind, and spouted the Answer: "Forty-Two." It then fell upon the ancient race of pan-dimensional beings to come up with some kind of sense from this. The super-computer in question suggested that the pan-dimensional beings were so confused only because they didn't know the Ultimate Question to the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. It could design another super-fangly computer to deduce this, and of course, it would only take another billion or so years to figure out. In the meantime, the agreed upon question was "How many roads must a man walk down?" Of course. Forty-two. Hallelujah, we have our question, and our answer! Right? Wrong-O!
Okay, here's the cool part: We remove the mathematics from the equation. For those of you already ahead of me, slow down for those of us who just aren't there yet, okay? People stress out so much over what life means, and if there's more. I just want to put as many psychiatrists out of work as I can here. How many of you can look around you and say for a certainty that your life makes perfect sense, and you can understand everything that has happened to you? Are you getting it yet? Let me illustrate.
My older son has had seven major spinal surgeries. We lost him on the table three times, and he remains severely handicapped from the genetic disorder that twisted his spine and threatened to crush his heart with his own rib cage. My younger daughter has a rare form of epilepsy that should have taken her life before she was five. I spent time in jail for a crime of which I am innocent. My father, older brother and younger sister have all gone, taken before their time by cancer or heart failure. Numerous times throughout my life, all rights and odds, I should have been killed. Drowning, asphyxiation, shooting, cutting, hey, folks, I've been through it. Tell me what makes sense out of all that. I won't even go through the litany of my own surgeries. I have precious friends among my comrades at the Muse who make my list look like a child's vaccinations.
Now, I'm not here to complain. I know that, in the grand scheme of Life, the Universe, and Everything, six times nine equals forty-two, and it's not up to me to make sense of it. I have the life I have, and you have yours. We are all who we are from the lives we experience and how we handle the curve balls the Universe throws at us. And whether we have our faith on which to lean, or no faith to which to adhere, the bottom line is the same.
So stop freaking out trying to make sense of things. Take each year, each month, each day, each breath and make it count for what you can. Be the best person you can be.
Might as well fill your glass, raise a toast and love it. Because six times nine equals forty-two.

In the second installment of The NADIA Project, the potential stakes are raised even higher. The lab where Nadia was built is no more. But when The Pinnacle strikes back at the government agencies trying to crack its secrets, a horrible truth emerges: The evil cabal of kingmakers is still building living weapons of mass destruction somewhere on the globe.

Jon Daniels and Nadia Velasquez must find the lab and stop it before a new wave of terror erupts across the world. In order to succeed, though, they must get through The Pinnacle's most deadly weapon: Jenna Paine. 

All who stand between evil and the innocent are two ancient warriors, a misfit genius, a rogue FBI agent, and a living antimatter bomb named NADIA.

Buy Unalive:

Connect with Cyrus:

NOTE:  I've reviewed Unalive over at Rochelle's Reviews.  Hop on over to see what I thought of it.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Welcome Author, Poet, and Newspaper Editor Collin Kelley

This week I would like to welcome Collin Kelley.  I just finished reading his second book, Remain In Light which came out yesterday, and will post my full opinion next month on Rochelle's Reviews.  I definitely recommend this book.  It is a thought-provoking page-burner.  And now... Collin!

RW:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a journalist by day and poet/novelist by night. I really enjoy all types of writing and have dabbled in play-writing, screenplays and I’m about to start working on a memoir about all my travels to England.

RW:  How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was a child. My parents taught me to read and write very early. I always read far above my grade level. I got into poetry in high school, dabbled in fiction, but poetry came first. While other kids wanted to be firemen and astronauts, I always wanted to be a writer.

RW:  What is/are your favorite genre/s?

I love literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, paranormal. I used to work in a bookstore, so I read a little of everything – from Danielle Steele to John Updike—because I wanted to explore every kind of writing and find my own voice, style and genre.

RW:  Who are your favorite authors?

Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, John Irving, Anne Sexton, Walt Whitman, Raymond Carver, Ray Bradbury, Stan Rice, Michael Cunningham—far too many to name.

RW:  What is a typical day like for you, and when do you get your best writing done

I have a very busy day job as a newspaper editor in Atlanta, so my creative writing happens in the evening. I’ve found my sweet spot is from about 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. I finished writing and edited Remain In Light during those hours, accompanied by BBC Radio 2 streaming from London.

RW:  What else have you published?

I have a novel called Conquering Venus, which was published in 2009 and is a literary mystery. I’ve also got three poetry collections: Better To Travel, After the Poison and Slow To Burn.

RW:  If you went to “that God-forsaken rock the Moon,” what one special thing would you take?

Will there be wi-fi on the moon?  I can’t live without my laptop.  

RW:  Tell us about your current book.  How many words/pages is it?

Remain In Light is about a Parisian widow, Irène Laureux, whose husband was murdered during the student and worker riots in 1968. She’s been looking for his killer for 30 years and finally catches up with him with the help of American expat writer, Martin Paige. But finding the killer reveals a much larger conspiracy. There’re crooked cops, detectives with questionable motives and stolen identities. The e-book version came out October 1 from Vanilla Heart Publishing and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. The print version will be out in January. It’s 88,000+ words, so probably something readers could get through in a couple of sittings. It’s very fast-paced, so I hope folks will find it to be a page-turner.

RW:  Where did the idea come from?

Both Conquering Venus and Remain In Light are part of what I’m calling The Venus Trilogy, since the books are connected but can be read in any order. I was inspired by a trip I took to London and Paris in 1995. It was an amazing experience and I got to meet some very interesting people and immerse myself in the cultures. Paris is usually portrayed as a city of love and romance, but it has a dark underbelly that most tourists never see. I wanted to look beyond the guidebooks and explore the Paris that is just beneath the surface of the postcards. As the character Irène Laureux says, “This city is not always full of light.”

RW:  How did you choose your setting?  Have you woven any of your own life or environment into it?  If not, how did you research the details of the area?

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel back and forth to London and Paris over the years to be able to soak up that flavor. I wrote a big chunk of Remain In Light while I was in the UK and France last summer. I tried to go and spend some time in all the locales I wrote about, especially in Paris, and took hundreds of photographs.

RW:  Who is your favorite character in the story?

That’s a bit of a Sophie’s Choice, but Diane Jacobs is a very opinionated and slightly unhinged school teacher who takes no guff from the other characters in both Conquering Venus and Remain In Light.  She’s a little xenophobic, doesn’t really like kids and has no business being a teacher, so the snarky and sarcastic things that come out of her mouth are a hoot to write. She’s also just an average citizen who gets swept up into the mystery and intrigue in the novels, when she’d rather be drinking a bottle of wine while a hot guy kisses her toes.

RW:  How many drafts did you do before the manuscript was ready for submission?

Remain In Light went through four drafts before I had it the way I wanted it and my editor said it was coherent enough to publish.  I didn’t agonize too much over the storyline, since I had outlined it and knew exactly what was going to happen. I didn’t use an outline for Conquering Venus, and realized later that was a mistake. The outline kept me focused and help me get from point A to point Z quickly.

RW:  What's the one thing you hope readers will take away with them when they finish reading Remain In Light.

I hope they’ll be thrown a little off-kilter by the characters and the situations they are put into. As I mentioned with Diane, the characters in Remain In Light are not detectives or secret agents, but ordinary citizens who must step up to solve a series of mysteries because the police and government are in collusion. I also hope readers will see the great bond the characters have with each other. None of them are related, but they become a tight-knit, if slightly dysfunctional, family.

RW:  Where can we buy Remain In Light?
The E-Book version will be out Oct. 1 for Kindle, Nook and in various e-pub formats at Smashwords. The print version will be available from Amazon and B&N in January 2012.

RW:  How can we reach you?

Twitter:   @collinkelley


In 1968, Irène Laureux's husband was murdered during the Paris student and worker riots. Thirty years later, she is still on the hunt for the man who knows how and why Jean-Louis died – his secret lover, Frederick Dubois.

Aiding in her search is American expat Martin Paige, a writer still reeling from a love affair gone wrong with a student, David McLaren. Martin meets a young poet, Christian, and the two fall in love, but their happiness is shaken when Martin's friend, Diane Jacobs, arrives in Paris with news that David has gone missing.

Diane discovers that David's disappearance is more than just a missing person case with connections to drugs, stolen identities, long-hidden government secrets and a shocking connection to Irène's past. This literary mystery takes readers from America to London and into the dark underworld of the fabled City of Light.

Excerpt: You can read the first four chapters of Remain In Light at this link:

RW Note:  This was post was prepared on September 29.  Therefore buy links were not yet available for the e-pub edition.