Monday, December 23, 2019

Why write The Courier? The inspiration behind the thriller novel by Gordon J. Campbell @gcampbellgordon #writing

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Why write The Courier? The inspiration behind the thriller novel.
By Gordon J. Campbell
I'm not worth the crumbs from the tables of the likes of James Lee Burke, Lee Child, and Robert Crais, but these great thriller writers inspired me to set out on a course to produce a novel. I'd be genuinely gratified if any of my work resembled their style or exceptional ability to create a world of their own.

A few of my associates felt a book based on my business experiences would be a more natural path for a first foray into the writer's world. The result would have been a study on Japanese market entry solutions. This project might be realized in the future.

I agree that a thriller novel is considered a leap from my everyday experiences, but I argue that a fictional story is also a powerful vehicle to showcase real-life experiences. It is more fun to read about a businessman’s daily interactions, when they are enhanced by action and artistic embellishment.

Some of The Courier’s pages are influenced by people met, and times enjoyed or suffered through in Japan.

I have met a Yakuza with tattoos inked from ankle to neck who claimed to have sold futures on his skin.

My work selling medical products to US Government hospitals at military installations in Asia and Europe put me in contact with professional soldiers who generously shared stories worth emulating in thriller novels.

An evening stroll through any of Bangkok's red-light districts will allow enough research by observation to create an account worth sharing.

I asked myself what would happen if a salesman without military training entered into a dangerous situation unfamiliar to anything in his world. Could he stand up, perceiver, and protect his people?

How would he do under fire or when facing extreme challenges from evil and dangerous antagonists?

Would he man-up to survive and be capable of protecting his family?

Who would help him when everything was on the line, and what would it cost him when the smoke cleared? Would his life be unalterably changed?

I hope these questions are answered when you read The Courier. May you have as much fun reading the novel as I had in its creation and development.

More blogs by Gordon are available for anyone’s perusal on his website:

Gordon Campbell is a Winnipeg born Canadian who’s spent most of his life in Japan. He's worked as an English teacher, a market entry consultant with a focus on the medical and sporting goods industries, and as a sales director for a corporation with multiple product lines.

He’s presently working on the second novel of a series initiated with The Courier, and its protagonist, Gregg Westwood.

Gordon leans on his experiences built around decades working and traveling in Asia. He’s trained at several karate dojos, run full marathons, and skied black diamond hills in the Japanese Alps.
He played American football at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and started in the Canadian championship game known as the Vanier Cup. Gordon is a member of Psi Upsilon Fraternity, Sinim Masonic Lodge, and the Tokyo Valley of the AASR.

When he’s not writing, working, attending one of his daughter’s vocal concerts, pumping iron, or at a lodge meeting, you’ll find him dining with his wife Mako at their favorite local bistro.

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Title: The Courier
Author: Gordon J. Campbell
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 311
Genre: Thriller

An expatriate businessman, Gregg Westwood, leaves the Officers’ Club at an American Air Base in Japan unaware about the impression he’s made on two intelligence agents. They sized him up as someone with potential for strategic deployment, and more importantly, he's under the radar.
Gregg's exploits start with what he thinks is a one-off assignment as a courier, and the straightforward task spirals out of control. He's forced to rise to the occasion and use every resource available to survive. Even his family is jeopardized which forces him to return to Japan to settle scores.
The Courier is one man’s struggle to fight for survival in a world that he's not been trained for and where violence and retribution are the names of the game.

“The Bottom Line: One of the year’s best thrillers.”  
"With such fine attention to detail in creating some amazing scenes, I give The Courier 4 out of 4 stars. Campbell creates an amazing and well-edited adventure that could even someday work on the big screen. Readers that enjoy action adventures or thrillers will likely enjoy this one as well."
--Official review by Kendra M Parker,
"The Courier is an exciting ride from start to finish. I couldn't put it down and wanted more when it finished."
--Gyle Graham, entrepreneur and longtime Tokyo expatriate
“The Courier would transform well from a thriller novel to an action movie.”
--Michael Harrison, marketing expert and martial artist


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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Book Video Teaser: A Lady's Past by A.S. Fenichel @asfenichel @lyricalpress @kensingtonbooks #bookteaser #bookvideo

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The greatest risk—for the sweetest reward…

His fiancée’s betrayal nearly cost Jacques Laurent everything. Despite his resolve not to trust anyone again, he can’t abandon the young woman he finds alone on the road to London. In the brief hours they spend together, the enigmatic Diana touches his heart in a way he can’t explain. Even after bringing her to the Everton Domestic Society for safekeeping, he can’t get her out of his thoughts. And when he next encounters her, working as assistant to a renowned scientist, he becomes even more intrigued…

The Society’s kindness is especially welcome after everything Diana endured in a French prison, but she fears for the safety of those who get close to her. French spies are on her trail, convinced that her scientific knowledge can help them win the war. As peril draws them irrevocably together, Diana and Jacques succumb to mutual desire. But love may be the most dangerous pursuit of all, when a lady guards her heart even more carefully than she guards her life . . .


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A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful IT career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in Missouri with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Book Feature: 'TWAS THE NIGHT by Marin #bookfeature

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Author: Marin
Publisher: Fontreal
Pages: 32
Genre: Children’s Picture Book


‘TWAS THE NIGHT is a wordless book that “tells” a heartwarming and inspirational Christmas story. The illustrations gift each reader, young and young at heart, the opportunity to reimagine the Season’s wonder, and the freedom “to script” (if they choose to) their own lines to go with the images. Keep dreaming big!




'TWAS THE NIGHT is a wordless book that "tells" a heartwarming
and inspirational Christmas story. The illustrations gift each reader, young and young at heart, the opportunity to reimagine the Season's wonder, and the freedom "to script" (if they choose to) their own lines to go with the images. Keep dreaming big!





My name is Marin and I was a child a very long time ago. My father passed away when I was one year old. My mother remarried and I was raised by my loving (but strict!) grandparents. After losing their son, they were terrified by the thought of losing their grandson. For this reason, they didn’t let me play on the street, swim in the nearby pond or explore the forest with the rest of the kids. This was also the reason I learned to read and write long before I went to school. My grandparents surrounded me with books. Books became my imaginary parents and my fictional friends. Apart from my genetic building blocks, books also came to be the main component in my development as a creative, compassionate and competitive individual.

I studied nuclear physics, art, and literature, but I enjoyed art the most. As a young artist, I was eager to succeed, winning prizes from various countries. I later became a partner in an advertising agency and switched my attention to serving clients. My last award was somewhere in the early nineties – The Best in the West by Corel Draw Corporation.

Oh, a few more boring things about me: I do not drive, I do not drink carbonated beverages, I have never consumed food from McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC or any other fast food restaurant, I do not have a mobile phone, I have never used legal or illegal drugs (except Gravol when I fly), and I have never visited my GP (much to the disapproval of my wife).

I read. I read every day. I am what I am today because of books. This publishing house is my little “thank you” to all of them.

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Surviving Short Hills and Deep Valleys by Richard Robbins #guest

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Surviving Short Hills and Deep Valleys
By Richard Robbins

There are many obstacles to be overcome when starting the writing process, some relatedly minor, some seemingly insurmountable. The hardest obstacle to overcome is generally just starting.  My advice to other authors is to just get going.  Don’t worry about how long it will take, how long the book will be, or if it’ll be any good.  Just go for it!

I found it helpful to seek out advice from established authors, some online, and some in person. There are rules of writing which are universal, such as the rules of grammar, tense, and point of view, but here are others which can be synthesized and incorporated piecemeal, such as how to outline, and how to develop plot, character, and theme. While writers have different approaches, there is something to learn from each.

Here is the approach I have taken on my three novels (two published, one being released next year).  I begin by finding a particular character, relationship, or issue which interests me, then build the basics of a story around that. I then try to find a particular theme, or new question I’d like to address, and link the story to that. After determining the main characters, story arc, and theme, I make a high-level story outline, and then individual chapter outlines.  I would advise the beginning writer to not be too concerned about quality, tense, or point of view at first; just put your thoughts down on the page the first time through.  Then improve the plot and technical points on each subsequent draft. And finally, find a good editor.  They’ll help take care of the technical details.  Spending too much time on those details early in the process tends to stifle creativity.

Writing can be a wonderful outlet for your creative thoughts. For me, the process is its own reward. If no one ever read my work, the process of creating it would be enough for me. The fact that my work has given a small degree of pleasure or escape to other people brings me great joy and satisfaction. I hope the sharing of my experience and encouragement helps bring the same joy to you.

With love and kindness,
Richard Robbins

Richard’s first novel, the award winning Love, Loss, and Lagniappe was inspired by actual events in his life, and utilizes his Medical and Business School background to explore the journey of self-discovery after heartbreaking loss, while revealing the scientific basis for the meaning of life (You’ll have to read it to find out!)

Panicles, explores the price of fame and fortune through the eyes of two families, one wealthy and powerful, the other blue collar, from a chance meeting at a Florida poolside, to the highest levels of politics and power. This sweeping saga of love, war, money, and power leaves each family weighing their duty to their family versus service to their country.It all leads to a fateful choice—a sacrifice—which could change the course of history.

Richard lives in New York City and New Orleans with his love and inspiration, Lisa, my wife of thirty years (and counting), near their beloved grown children.

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Author: Richard Robbins
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Pages: 281
Genre: Literary Fiction

Is it better to take the risk and pursue the glory of fame and fortune, or to live a simpler, more grounded life?

“Richard Robbins has presented a cast of interesting characters, and each one is fully explored. The plot engages the reader from the first page to the last. The writing style is fast-paced and flows smoothly. Author Richard Robbins has penned a captivating novel in Panicles. A fascinating read!” ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Deborah Lloyd (5 STARS)

Follow the fates of two families, one wealthy and powerful, the other blue collar, from a chance meeting at a Florida poolside, to the highest levels of politics and power. This sweeping saga of love, war, money, and power leaves each family weighing their duty to their family versus service to their country.

It all leads to a fateful choice—a sacrifice—which could change the course of history.
EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a contemporary literary exploration of two very different families, with their ties to politics, power and influence, and to each other. [DRM-Free]
Panicles will make you think, make you cry, make you laugh and smile and keep you reading until the very end.” ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Trudi LoPreto (5 STARS)

Panicles is a novel that invites reflection with its subtle and significant meaning… Connections, effects, and a great storyline make Panicles a remarkable novel from many points of view.” ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Astrid Iustulin (5 STARS)

Books by Richard Robbins:

  • Love, Loss, and Lagniappe
  • Panicles
  • The Tormenting Beauty of Empathy (Coming 2020)


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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

20 Questions with Simon Dillon Author of 'Phantom Audition' @uncleflynn #20questions

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Today's guest is Simon Dillon, author of the psychological thriller, Phantom Audition. Simon is here today to answer 20 questions about his life, writing and goals.

1. Are you a morning writer or a night writer?
I’m a whenever-I-have-a-spare-minute writer, morning or night.

2. Do you outline or are you a pantster?
I’m a control freak and outline everything. I won’t start a novel unless I have an ending I think is amazing. Then I work backwards from that point, working on character profiles, chapter outlines, research, and everything else. Sometimes chapters do throw out unexpected branches here and there, but I always end up at the finale I originally got so excited by.

3. Which comes first – plot or character?
This is a hoary old argument, and one that I think confuses people because they often say character when they mean characterisation. The latter refers to all observable information about an individual: age, intelligence, sexuality, education, occupation, personality, and so on. But to me character refers to the choices made by said individual within the narrative, because of who they are. For example, Frankenstein’s choice to create the Monster is a choice of true character. Because of who he is, he cannot possibly do otherwise. Therefore, to me character and plot are inseparable. They are essentially the same thing.

4. Noise or quiet when working on your manuscript?
I can’t have distraction whilst writing. Silence please.

5. Favorite TV show?
Doctor Who. A national institution in the UK, this is the longest running sci-fi programme in history (1963 to the present, with a sixteen-year hiatus between 1989 and 2005). It has been my favourite programme since childhood, and still is, because essentially it has an infinite premise. It can be anything, at any time in history, on any planet, and in any dimension. It is quintessentially British, scary (famous for causing children to hide behind the sofa), surreal, quirky, exciting, and occasionally very moving.

6. Favorite type of music?
A hideously open-ended question. I love pop music from all eras (although I’m not that keen on the 1950s) but I have a special love for Pet Shop Boys (aka Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe). Sophisticated electronic pop par excellence, with lyrics that range from the satirical and scathingly sarcastic, to the profoundly melancholic. Their heyday was in the 1980s and 1990s, and like Doctor Who they are another UK national institution, but they still make excellent music today as well.
I also love classical (particularly Beethoven) and film scores (particularly John Williams).

7. Favorite craft besides writing?
Directing. I used to want to be a film director, and trained in that medium, but ended up working in television instead. Despite having a few short films under my belt, I decided writing was more my thing, and focused for a while on feature screenplays (none of which have been produced to date). That eventually bought be me back to my first love of writing prose.

8. Do you play a musical instrument?
No. During my childhood, my parents made me take piano lessons for a while. I bitterly resented having them after school, when I’d rather be watching cartoons. My parents told me I’d regret giving up the piano, but they were wrong. I’ve not once regretted it. I simply knew where my talents lay, and they weren’t in performing music. My brother on the other hand, he is musically gifted. He plays violin and piano and has had jobs in several prestigious orchestras.

9. Single or married?

10. Children or no?
Two children.

11. Pets?
No. I’m not really a pets person, but not because I don’t like animals. I simply don’t want to have to look after them. Too many people get pets and then don’t look after them properly. I hate that. If you’re going to have pets, you need to take proper responsibility for them.

12. Favorite place to write?
At home, in quiet surroundings. I’m not one of these writers that likes to hang out in cafes whilst they write. Too distracting. And too many cakes.

13. Favorite restaurant?
I have a penchant for out-of-the-way hidden gem pubs that serve amazing roast lunches, such as the Rose and Crown in Yealmpton (a village that appears in Phantom Audition, incidentally). Also, for the best fish and chips in the known universe, check out the Magpie in Whitby. (These are both in the UK.)

14. Do you work outside the home?
Yes, but only until my batteries run down. Then I need recharging. 😉

15. What was the name of the last movie you saw?
The Aeronauts (on a nice big IMAX screen). Pretty good on the whole, with a plethora of high-altitude thrills. Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne are fast becoming an unlikely odd couple, and they have plenty of chemistry. Also, the balloon sequences are vertiginous and agreeably anxiety inducing.

16. Favorite outdoor activity?
I love going walking on Dartmoor, which I live very near. Bleak, beautiful, and sinister all at the same time, it’s no wonder Dartmoor has proved such an inspiration for writers (including most obviously Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with The Hound of the Baskervilles). There are also plenty of beautiful beaches and rugged coastlines worth exploring in south-west England. When you get good weather, this place is amazing.

17. Pet peeve?
People who chatter or use phones in cinemas. Those annoying little screens creating light pollution give me Incredible Hulk style rage. I cannot understand why people are so inconsiderate.

18. Your goal in life?
To entertain people, and to make a living from my writing.

19. Your most exciting moment?
Too personal to be shared here… But career wise, getting published by a traditional publisher (Dragon Soul Press) was a very exciting moment. So far, I’ve had three of my gothic mysteries published by them: Spectre of Springwell Forest, The Irresistible Summons, and Phantom Audition.

20. The love of your life?
My wife (the moment too personal to be shared referred to in the previous question pertains to her).

The spirit of Simon Dillon took human form in 1975, in accordance with The Prophecy. He kept a low profile during his formative years, living the first twenty or so of them in Oxford, before attending University in Southampton, and shortly afterwards hiding undercover in a television job. In the intervening years, he honed his writing skills and has now been unleashed on the world, deploying various short stories and novels to deliberately and ruthlessly entertain his readers. He presently lives in the South-West of England with his wife and two children, busily brainwashing the latter with the books he loved growing up.

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Title: Phantom Audition
Author: Simon Dillon
Publisher: Dragon Soul Press
Pages: 300
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Small-time actress Mia Yardley, recently widowed wife of renowned actor Steven Yardley, discovers her late husband’s secret acting diary. The diary details appointments made with a psychic medium, who advised Steven on which roles to take. It also raises questions about his mysterious and inexplicable suicide. Seeking answers, Mia speaks to the medium, but in doing so is drawn into an ever- deepening mystery about what happened to her husband during the final days of his life. Eventually, she is forced to ask the terrible question: was Steven Yardley murdered by a vengeful evil from beyond the grave?


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Monday, December 9, 2019

Back Story: SPIRITS OF THE WESTERN WILD by David Schaub and Roger Vizard #backstory

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by David Schaub & Roger Visard

I love reading all the backstories of published authors, and the trials and tribulations that lead to finally getting their manuscript published.  So many of these stories talk of what a nightmare it can be, and I am here to tell you… it sure is! 

Since releasing our eBook and audio drama, I have been getting a lot of queries on just how that process went, and thought I would share that journey with you here.  Hopefully our experience will raise a few flags to help you steer around some of the inevitable bumps and potholes in the road.

First a little background:  I have been working as an animation supervisor in production for over two decades now, so I really came in the back door on this writing thing.  I spent years working with directors, writers, and creative producers – fully immersed in that world.  Through that process became fascinated with the mechanics of story, and developed my own instincts and sensibilities for what makes a story work.

It was during the production of “Stuart Little 2” that I connected with my writing partner, Roger Vizard.  We spent a lot of time over the years beating stories back and forth between ourselves, looking for something we could develop together.  One of our projects is a buddy film featuring a young cowboy and crotchety old ghost who refused to believe he was dead.  The final result is SPIRITS OF THE WESTERN WILD.

I’ll save the creative development details for another time, and focus only on the publishing challenges that came after the script was complete.

So there we were, sitting on a precious pound-of-paper (1.25 lbs to be exact).  Having drudged through hundreds of screenplays myself over the years, I fully acknowledge what a chore it can be for anyone to commit to actually READING these things (without it becoming a huge favor by the designated reader to do so…).

When Roger moved onto another animation gig, I decided to keep chipping away at the next steps toward production.  I had the crazy idea of producing it as an audiobook to make it super-easy for studio execs to absorb on their commute.  No reading required -- just straight-up entertainment for the listener. 

Self-funding the film wasn’t an option, but since I was looking for something to direct, I figured I could certainly produce an audio drama!  It was also a great opportunity to demonstrate my directing chops with actors, bringing it to life in a way that the written page alone could never achieve.

The task was more than I bargained for, and tapped into all the skills I had acquired while working in the production world.  Honestly, I thought that getting the performances out of the actors would be the toughest challenge, but that was easy compared to the layered music and sound effects that had to be woven into the tapestry.  Again, we can leave that saga for another day.  So let’s move on…

Once the audio was complete, I proceeded down the path of prepping final audio through ACX (audiobook creation exchange).  This is the gateway to Audible/Amazon, and audio files need to be processed here first.  I have to say that the technical spec sheet from ACX was a little overwhelming.  Thankfully there are lots of resources at their site to help you through, but don’t underestimate the technical challenge of meeting their delivery requirements.  Apparently, it can take several submission rounds before getting a final approval.  Since Audible specializes primarily in spoken-word audiobooks, I thought that ours would be particularly tricky with the wide dynamic-range of our audio experience; that is with music and sound effects, screaming actors, etc. Surprisingly, the first submission was approved!  But I can assure you it was because I was extra careful hitting their specs with the tools they provided.

So that’s it!  Send it out to Audible now, right?  Not so fast!  While I passed ACX’s technical inspection, Audible let me know that our audiobook could not be published until there was a print (or Kindle) version available on Amazon.  Argh!  So that put me into another tailspin…

Remember that this project was developed as a screenplay.  Unfortunately, Kindle doesn’t offer a solution to display screenplays in their native format, which is a strict standard by industry definition.  So I embarked on the task of trying to figure out a suitable solution.  I failed miserably at formatting it myself with off-the-shelf with e-publishing tools, and subsequently hired two different formatting “experts,” only to be gravely disappointed with both.

I finally stumbled onto a service called Liberwriter (  I’ll endorse them here because they saved my butt.  Through Liberwriter I was able to achieve a suitable alternative to CENTERED dialogue blocks, using specially INDENTED dialogue blocks instead. You’ll find other formatting oddities along the way, but it’s all in the interest of rendering a look that’s easy to read on Kindle and other eReaders.

Actually, now that it is released on Kindle, I’m happy that it is.  Not only can you follow along with the Audible version, but you also get a first-hand account of how the audio adaptation evolved from the written screenplay.  It’s also a convenient way to share some of the artwork that Roger and I have collaborated on along the way.

So that’s the publishing journey in a nutshell.  We are going to keep kicking it down the road with the goal of making this film.  I started an Instagram feed to document the journey: 

I thought it would be entertaining to post the twists, turns and writing inspiration as we go. I’m sure there will be lots of discoveries, insights and takeaways on the bumpy road ahead.   Please FOLLOW – and enjoy the ride! 

-  David Schaub

meet the authors

David Schaub is a writer and Academy Award ® nominated Animation Supervisor working in the film industry for more than 25 years. In 2019 he produced and directed the audio adaptation of SPIRITS OF THE WESTERN WILD.  He also developed STORY COMPASS® smartphone app for screenwriters ( in 2017.

Schaub received Oscar nomination for animation in Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Disney), along with nominations for BAFTA Award, Saturn Award and Critic’s Choice Award, and won the Golden Satellite Award for Best Visual Effects for his team’s work on the film.
HEAD ANIMATION on Sony Picture’s SURFS UP – recognized with two Annie Awards among its ten nominations including Academy Award nomination and four Visual Effects Society (VES) award nominations.

ANIMATION DIRECTOR – Universal’s award-winning JURASSIC WORLD EXPEDITION (2019) VR EXPERIENCE. Exploring cinematic potential of virtual reality.

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Roger Vizard is a writer and self-taught artist. He was accepted into the animation program at Sheridan College in1987, then worked at Sullivan Bluth Studios in Ireland, then as an animation apprentice on “WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT” at Richard Williams’ studio in London.  He later became Williams’ assistant animator on “THIEF AND THE COBBLER.”

After several years working in Europe at studios like Gerhard Hahn in Germany and A-films in Denmark, he moved to Los Angeles in 1993 to work as a story board artist on the first season of Sonic the Hedgehog, then rolled back into animation again after that.  He successfully made the transition to from 2D to CGI on “STUART LITTLE 2” in 2001, and since that time have worked non-stop at animation/VFX studios in Los Angeles.


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inside the book

This mystical adventure follows a young adventure-seeker named Luther McCleron on a westward journey to learn more about his Grandfather. A series of fateful missteps take Luther far from his destination to a disheveled little town under the tyranny of a crooked sheriff named Big Willie. It’s here that Luther comes face-to-face with the legendary ghost of Monty: a curmudgeonly ghost who refuses to believe he’s dead. Luther just wants to get back to his quest, but Monty thwarts his plans by using Luther to take out his vengeance on Big Willie.

Through a catastrophic string of events, Luther and Monty find themselves hopelessly entangled in a combative partnership that escalates to the breaking point. Only by reconciling their differences are they able to uncover the profound connections that weave their fates together.

A mysterious book of premonitions, an ominous crow, and ancient Indian drive the mystical tone of this world; conjuring spiritual forces to help steer Luther on his journey through this western “twilight zone.”

All the loose ends resolve in a satisfying story of redemption, loyalty and ascension while exploring the mysterious nature of fate and destiny. Was all of this a coincidence? Or are we guided by ancient “spirits on the wind” that nudge and steer us along our path to assure that we arrive safely at our intended destination in the end?

5 out of 5 stars
 A fantastic and Immersive adventure for everyone. 
What a wonderful audio book and what a pleasure it was to be on this journey. Not only the adventure was captivating but also everything around it. The sounds effect and voices really bring it all together, you almost feel like you are right there witnessing all this first hand. The production quality is something I have never heard before. Very well done and I highly recommend it.


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20 Questions with Kathy Holmes Author of 'Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon' @screamiebirds #20Questions

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Today's guest is Kathy Holmes, author of the psychological suspense, Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon. Kathy is here today to answer 20 questions about her life, writing and goals.

1. Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I write first thing in the morning and then, sometimes, again in the late afternoon.

2. Do you outline or are you a pantster?

I used to say I was a pantser, but I think the first draft is really my outline. Along the way, I will stop to make notes about what should happen when. So it’s really a bit of both in an ongoing process.

3. Which comes first – plot or character?

That’s a good question. I would say character, even though the opening scene of this book came to me in a nightmare, it was really about the characters.

4. Noise or quiet when working on your manuscript?

Although I’d like to be, I’m not one of those writers who can write in a coffee shop. I get distracted by people-watching. So I’m either writing in my quiet studio or at certain points in the story, I’ll create a playlist and listen to music to get into the mood.

5. Favorite TV show?

Tough question. I’m a faithful “General Hospital” fan. I watch it on DVD over lunch as a writing break. In the evening, my husband and I might watch a few shows on HGTV or the Food Network or Netflix. And we continue to watch Downtown Abbey on repeat, which is unusual for us, to rewatch a show on TV.

6. Favorite type of music?

I love to listen to almost all music. Right now I’m writing/producing Electronic Dance Music.

7. Favorite craft besides writing?

Programming drum beats in my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

8. Do you play a musical instrument?

I play some piano but mostly my music keyboard, which I use to program my DAW.

9. Single or married?


10. Children or no?

No human children.

11. Pets?

Two furry kids still living (five that have passed, who I still miss).

12. Favorite place to write?

My casita, which is a separate room over the garage.

13. Favorite restaurant?

I confess to being somewhat of a foodie so I couldn’t possibly choose one. But I’m also a Disney fan so I have to say we’ve been to Napa Rose quite a few times.

14. Do you work outside the home?

I’m now retired from contract technical writing projects, which I often did from home.

15. What was the name of the last movie you saw?

That’s a tough question. I don’t watch a lot of movies these days. I think the last movie I watched was “Isn’t it Romantic?”

16. Favorite outdoor activity?

Walking is so healing and inspiring and creative. It helps me think through a plot or a problem.

17. Pet peeve?

My latest pet peeve is more than a pet peeve now, I think. It’s growing as I see how high tech companies have become so big and powerful by acquisitions setting algorithms that reward the person with the highest numbers so that it’s harder for the small business owner or independent author to get attention.

18. Your goal in life?

To continue to learn and grow my talents, as Erma Bombeck said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'.”

19. Your most exciting moment?

So many. When I saw Elvis in concert, auditioned for a solo singing part in high school and got it, won the sixth grade spelling bee, was offered representation by an agent, when I met my biological father, but most of all, when my husband and I were married in the Orthodox Church.

20. The love of your life?

My husband is definitely the love of my life.

Kathy Holmes grew up in Southern California near Disneyland and the beach with a book in one hand and a transistor radio in the other. She began writing stories about family and wrote her first song with a childhood friend. They called themselves the “Screamie Birds.”

Books have always spurred her love for travel, especially to places she’s read about, and location is often a character in her books.

After an exciting career in Silicon Valley, she is now combining her love for both books and music at Screamie Birds Studios. You can find out more about her books and music at

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Nikki Durrance escaped the worst nightmare of her life when she fled Las Vegas for San Francisco, leaving her abusive husband Jeff behind at the Blue Diamond Saloon. Rebuilding her life in San Francisco with the help of her closest friend Sally, Nikki draws the line with one thing: men. But when she accompanies Sally on a business trip back in Las Vegas, Nikki meets Dr. Mike Fischer, a sexy and desirable pediatrician also from San Francisco.

After a whirlwind courtship followed by a proposal, Nikki panics and jumps on the nearest cruise ship to Mexico. Realizing she must face her fears rather than run from them, she returns home and accepts Mike’s proposal. Life picks up even more speed with Mike’s plans and Nikki panics once again, imagining that everything Mike does mirrors her ex-husband Jeff. Attempting to sort out what’s real and what’s not, Nikki begins to question everything, including her sanity when everything with Mike feels like déjà vu.


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