Category: JJ’s Blog

Changes Coming Soon!

Changes Coming Soon!

You’re about to see a new look to my books – the Dream Series will soon become the Dream Doctor Mysteries.  And here’s a sneak preview of what the covers will look like…














There may be some slight tweaks, but this is pretty much the final new cover!



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Featured Author – Lynn Almengor and “Now That We’re Adults”

Featured Author – Lynn Almengor and “Now That We’re Adults”

I want to introduce you to another one of the amazing authors I met earlier this month at AwesomeCon.  Today, please say hello to Lynn Almengor!

Lynn Almengor holds a BA in Video Communication from Arcadia University, and previously wrote/directed guerrilla-style independent films. Because her parents were right about art rarely paying, she also works as a Web Producer in her hometown of Philadelphia, PA. When not writing, Lynn can usually be found playing video games, watching “bad” movies, or goofing off with her husband and their ferrets.






You can follow Lynn all over the Interwebs: at her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, on YouTube and also on Goodreads.

Lynn’s first book is called Now That We’re Adults, and it’s fantastic.  I read it, and I thought it was really truthful, insightful and moving as well (but also really funny), and I totally recommend it.

A group of geeky 20-somethings in Scranton, PA, struggle to form post-college identities without alienating each other in the process.

When happy-go-lucky Wade is dumped by his longtime girlfriend, he’s left to wonder whether she might have a point about his lack of ambition. Needing a distraction from the heartbreak, he begins programming a video game, which soon becomes a passion project as he strives to prove he can follow through on his own.

Meanwhile, his brother Ian barely has time for games now that he’s overloaded at work and struggling to connect with pregnant wife Kat, who’s starting to doubt whether she wants a baby at all. In fact, without the shared experience of college, their entire friend group is splintering.

Needing his friends more than ever, Wade becomes obsessed with turning back the hands of time. But with everyone’s hopes and expectations so tangled up, it might take an outsider—someone like painfully shy librarian Eleanor—to provide some much-needed perspective. That is, if she could get out of her head long enough to risk making a connection.



The book is on sale this week for just $0.99, so you have absolutely no excuse not to go and buy it right now!

I’ve also got an interview with Lynn – check it out!

Who is your favorite author?

My favorite unpublished author is my husband, who’s currently in the middle of writing a fantasy series. But my favorite published author, who you can (and should) go out and read right now, is Dan Burley. He writes character-driven crime fiction that spans the entire lives of Detective Reggie Harper and his crime novelist daughter, Elizabeth—and his dissection of family dynamics is just as compelling as the cases themselves.

How do you describe your writing style?

My writing style is very matter-of-fact. I tell you exactly how it is and get to the point using the fewest words possible. Coming from a filmmaking background, I also like to let the majority of my scenes play out in cinematic real time so you feel like you’re right there next to the characters.

Why should we read your book?

Because it’s honest. A lot of stories infantilize 20-somethings by playing into sitcom clichés about trouble doing laundry or paying bills on time, without digging deeper into the serious fears motivating that behavior. I went to a lot of dark places while writing this book, but the tone is still hopeful. Sure, you can fail miserably, disappointing yourself and everyone else, but as long as you’re still alive you get a chance to learn and choose differently next time.

Have any of your characters been modelled after yourself?

There are bits of me woven into each of my characters, but none of them are specifically based on me. It’s more like I took everything I’ve experienced, thought, or witnessed over the years, chopped it up into tiny pieces, and rearranged those pieces into entirely new stories.

If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?

Definitely Rob. That guy gets up to some pretty crazy antics off-page. The first draft actually had more scenes alluding to his secret life, but they didn’t advance any of the main characters’ arcs so I had to cut them. Which is fine, because ultimately, I prefer letting Rob remain mysterious.

What books have most influenced your life?

“The Catcher in the Rye” holds a special place in my heart. When I first read it at age 15, Holden was my hero. Then, by the time I read it again in college, I’d pretty much become Holden, so it was like reading about myself. Finally, when I read it for a third time, closer to age 30, I realized Holden was just a regular kid going through regular kid problems. And that’s when I realized I’d grown up!

Beatles or Monkees? Why?

I was never particularly into either, but I’m biased toward the Monkees because my sister has been obsessed with them since high school and still goes to their concerts. Plus they’re fun, and sometimes you just need fun music!

Who should play you in a film of your life?

Dakota Fanning. I never think celebrities look like me, but recently saw a poster for “The Alienist” and did a double-take! If you gave her glasses, messy red hair, and a pair of plaid pants, she could totally play me.





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Guest Post – Janet Elizabeth Lynn and the Skylar Drake Mysteries

Guest Post – Janet Elizabeth Lynn and the Skylar Drake Mysteries

Please welcome two special guests today – author Janet Elizabeth Lynn and her husband Will Zeilinger!

Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn write  individually until they got together and created the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955.  Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.

The next Skylar Drake Mystery, fourth in the series, SLICK DEAL will be available April 16, 2018 and yes…we are still married!






I’ll turn it over to Janet now…


My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylark Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year’s Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

We spent a week in Avalon researching the life and times of the island in 1956 and made an amazing discovery.  A group of California sportsmen approached Philip Wrigley, (son of William Wrigley, Jr.  the owner of Catalina Island) and proposed having a motorcycle race on Santa Catalina Island.  The men were inspired by a race that began in 1907 on the Isle of Man, off the coast of England.  Mr. Wrigley saw it as a way to draw attention to the island and agreed

The Catalina GP drew hundreds of racers from across the country, packing boats from Southern California with riders ready to test their motor cycle on the streets and hills. It was a two day, 60-100 mile race. Because  the race was held on an island only accessible by boat, the Catalina GP was a one-of-a-kind race. The regular racing rules didn’t apply, allowing motorcycle manufacturers to race test new technology not allowed at other regular events.

I found the article in the Avalon Library. I went through old newspapers from 1956 (with white cotton gloves.) As soon as I finished reading it, an amazing subplot came to me. I handed the article to Will, he read it and he was also inspired. We took copious notes, put everything back and got back to our hotel to write.

We went back the next day to research more about the popular race and why it no longer is held. The race was discontinued after 1958 for many reasons. Some motorcycle racers and their fans, began to take on a tough, hard drinking, rebellious image. They took advantage of the small town and its citizens.  Property damage, actual attacks on island residents (the mayor being one of them).

          What seemed to burst the balloon, was actor Lee Marvin. It was reported that he tried to incite a mutiny on the homebound ship. Full of drunk and rough housing people, the captain took Lee seriously, put on his side arm and contacted the Harbor Patrol. As the article said,Marvin had some explaining to do.

The local police force was small. To help with the large crowds coming for the event, volunteer law enforcers were recruited from the town.  However, with their inexperience, they were helpless and outnumbered. The decision was then made to discontinue the race and initial steps were also taken to change over from the local police to an agreement with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The event returned, in 2010. One of the original four Yamaha bikes from 1958 raced after a 52 year absence.

SLICK DEAL is the fourth in  the series…and yes we are still married!







Follow Janet and her husband at their websites!

Janet  Elizabeth Lynn –

Will Zeilinger –

Here’s more about the new book, Slick Deal!

On the eve of the New Year, 1956, oil tycoon, Oliver Wright dies suspiciously at a swanky Hollywood New Years Eve party. Some think it was suicide.

His death is soon followed by threats against the rest of his family.

Private Investigator Skylar Drake and his partner Casey Dolan are hired by an L.A. gangster to protect the family and solve Oliver’s mysterious death.

Clues lead them to Avalon, on Santa Catalina Island, a Hollywood movie star playground.

A high profile scandal, mysterious women, treason and more deaths complicate matters, putting Drake and his partner in danger.

Twenty-three miles may not seem far away but false identity and corruption on this island could squash their efforts to answer the question—How in the world can a dead man commit suicide?




Last but not least, here’s an excerpt!


Almost midnight. I was working security for the New Year’s Eve bash at the posh Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with my partner Casey Dolan. The rented tuxedos we were wearing made us look like we belonged with the rich crowd down on the ballroom floor, but we were working. This was one of the most exclusive parties in the city. I’d been here before and I’ve never known any other hotel with the kind of history this place had. Our job tonight was to keep an eye out for trouble…and I suppose this was a much better way to greet the new year than sitting at home in front of the television with a bottle of whiskey. As a matter of principle, I didn’t take security work. But Dolan thought D&D Investigations would benefit from this job by keeping the lights on and paying our secretary. He was right.

I scanned the crowd and checked my watch—a minute before midnight. The noise level in the room escalated with anticipation. I spotted Dolan at his post under an archway on the other side of the room and smiled. He nodded. From my spot on the catwalk above the ballroom floor I watched as they counted down the last seconds—five, four, three, two…  Just as the clock on stage struck midnight, the room exploded with shouts, horns, balloons, and a snowstorm of confetti. The band played “Auld Lang Syne” while a banner unfurled above the bandstand that proclaimed: HAPPY NEW YEAR 1956.

It seemed as though everyone in the world was dancing, hugging, and kissing. My mind disappeared into the past. I remembered my late wife, Claire, and how we celebrated every New Year together. Even when she was big with our daughter, Ellie, Claire was stunning. I pulled out my wallet and gazed at her photo. I miss you honey, so very much.

A man’s voice boomed over the P.A., “Is there a doctor in the house?” My dream with Claire evaporated. I looked down at the stage where a man had grabbed the microphone from the band leader’s hands and shouted, “We need help in the main lobby.”

I motioned for Dolan to stay put while I ducked behind the heavy drapes and crossed the hall to the lobby mezzanine. Fourteen steps would take me down to the lobby floor. I think I only used five. My hand automatically went to my holster, just in case.  Pushing through the crowd, I found a portly man on his back in a pool of blood on the terracotta-tiled floor. A tuxedo-clad man loosened the tie of the victim but I knew he was gone. I’d seen that vacant look in his eyes a hundred times back when I worked LAPD homicide.

Somewhere in the crowd I heard “Make way please, we’re nurses.” A couple of women in evening gowns appeared. I held the curious crowd back while the women knelt on the bloody floor and checked for a pulse. One shook her head and placed a lacy handkerchief over the dead man’s face.

Screaming sirens outside announced the arrival of the police. Partygoers scrambled. More than a few were probably here with someone other than the one to whom they were legally and lawfully wed. I identified myself as hotel security to the first officers to come through the door.

“You were first on the scene?” one asked.

I nodded. “Me and about a hundred other people.”

“You see this happen?” I shook my head. Another officer shouted to the crowd, “Anybody here see this happen?”

More police swarmed the lobby with news reporters on their heels. I wasn’t surprised. This party attracted reporters like flies on a dead cat. All around camera flashbulbs popped, making the room as bright as day.

Someone grabbed my arm. I looked into the eyes of a dark-haired woman wearing a full-length fur coat. With all the commotion, I thought she was a tipsy guest who wanted to kiss me. Instead, she pulled in close and whispered in my ear, “Please help me get out of this place. I can’t be seen here.” She turned her back to the cameras. With one hand, she yanked the combs from her hair and let it cascade down to her shoulders. She had the aroma of flowers. Then she turned up the collar of her fur coat to cover part of her face. Tears rolled down her cheeks. I saw the desperation in her eyes.

“Please.” She squeezed my arm. “I don’t know this hotel.”

The elevators and outside doors were blocked by uniformed cops. I whisked her toward a side room.

A cop in a cheap brown suit noticed us walking away and yelled, “Hey, you two. Get back here.”  I used to be a cop and I knew one when I saw one. This guy was probably a plainclothes detective. “You’re interfering with a police investigation,” he yelled.

“Maybe we should go back.” She stopped. “I’d hate to get you into trouble.”

“Believe me. It wouldn’t be the first time. This way.”

I noticed her striking resemblance to Ava Gardner. I pulled her along and headed to an empty room.

The cop caught up with us as I pushed open the door and turned on the light. I pulled out my PI license. He grabbed it from my hand just as I moved my jacket to show him my gun.

“Oh hell. Skylar Drake. I should have known.” He tossed my license back. “Why do you have to mess around with this investigation?”

“You have your job and I have mine.” I nodded toward the raven-haired beauty standing behind me.

“You stay put, Drake, while we sort this out.” I held up three fingers in a Boy Scout salute. He frowned and backed out the door.

I reached into my tuxedo jacket pocket and handed her my business card. Her perfectly shaped eyebrows went up. “Skylar Drake, Private Investigator.”

I nodded. “Now I need to get back to work.”

“I can’t be seen here.” Her tearful emerald green eyes sparkled in the light. “May I count on you to be discreet?”

My mind raced with a hundred things she wanted me to be discreet about.

Another plainclothes detective from my old precinct stormed in. I remember him as a real blowhard. “Drake. What the hell are you doing here?”

“Working and I was just leaving.” I nodded to the woman. “Nice to have met you, miss.”

Before the detective could get out another word, I slipped out the door and walked back to the lobby.

I checked the time—two a.m. The police had finished with most of the guests and allowed them to leave. The party was over. My job was done.


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Featured Authors – Andrew and Cecilee Linke

Featured Authors – Andrew and Cecilee Linke

It’s time to introduce you to another great author (TWO great authors, actually) that I met at AwesomeCon.  Please say hello to Andrew and Cecilee Linke!








Both of them are really interesting – aside from their books, they’ve got other passions.  Cecilee is an accomplished singer, and also a huge Kate Bush fan (check out her podcast which is delving into every single song Kate’s ever released), while Andrew shares an interest with me in tabletop gaming. They’re also both teachers, in addition to their fantastic novels.

You can follow them all over the Intertubes:

Andrew’s website 

Andrew’s FB Page

Andrew’s Twitter

Cecilee’s website

Cecilee’s FB Page

Cecilee’s Twitter

Cecilee’s instagram

What about their books?

Cecilee writes both young adult and historical novels.









The Travelling Society series follows five teenage friends who,well, travel the world together.  Bienvenue sees the girls off to Paris:

This first book of the Traveling Society takes the girls to Paris, France. Nellie’s Aunt Emma invites her and two friends to come visit for two weeks in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Since Anna and Miyoko have to stay behind for family obligations, Nellie, Patty, and Lavinia join in the adventure, though the girls are never more than a tweet or Facebook message from one another.
When they’re not visiting the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, each girl has their own journey of self-discovery to complete.
Will Nellie’s parents understand their daughter’s desire to be an artist?
Will Lavinia find her self-confidence in singing again?
What will it be like for Patty to be away from her vegan family for the first time?

The Wash Woods series explores the history of a lost town in southeastern Virginia, and the first book is False Cape:

The sailors saw the land coming toward them and knew they must be getting close to their destination. It had to be Cape Henry.
Alas, they were wrong. They had strayed too far south and had reached the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
Throughout the 19th century, countless ships ran aground in this weather-beaten area of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Many perished in the dangerous storms that often pelted this area.
But some survived and made it to shore.
Here in this isolated corner of the world, four generations of people lived and died by the sea in a little village called Wash Woods. This long-forgotten place comes to life through the tales of Mary Margaret “Mamie” Marsh, a descendant of those shipwrecked survivors, as she details what it was like to grow up in a seaside town at the turn of the 20th century.

And Andrew writes both adventurous tales and science fiction:









The Oliver Lucas novels feature archaeological, Indiana Jones-style adventures.   The first book is The Staff of Moses:

Oliver Lucas is a professional tomb robber, though he prefers to think of himself as an adventure photographer and gentleman relic hunter. It has been a decade since his previous career fell to pieces in the wake of a discovery that led him to abandon academia and begin scouring the world for clues to an ancient conspiracy.

Now a powerful man wants Oliver to track down a relic from the pages of history: the staff Moses used to call down plagues, part the sea, and lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. Unfortunately, the scroll that points the way to this relic is in hands of a band of renegade military contractors, and the only connection Oliver has to them is through a disgraced Egyptian spymaster.

Oliver calls on Diana Jordan, an expert in ancient art and languages, and his former lover, to help him translate the scroll. She agrees, and together they set off for Egypt, resolved to track down the staff, no matter who stands in their way.

It isn’t long before Oliver and Diana find themselves in over their heads, confronting undead guardians, ancient cults, and the unleashed power of the staff itself.

And he also writes science fiction.  One of his books (next on my reading list, from the books I bought at AwesomeCon, so look out for a review soon) is Dyson’s Angel:

A thousand years ago the Enclosure destroyed our solar system and scattered humanity across the inner surface of an impenetrable shell surrounding the sun.

In another life, Moira was a relic hunter scouring remote zones of the Shell for scraps of alien technology and human history to sell to the highest bidder, just trying to scrape together enough credits to pay down her debts and escape her past.

That was before her lover was killed and uploaded into an alien computer.

Now Moira is the unwilling captain of the insane alien void ship Zau/Heraxo, scrounging for bounties in the corporate zones to earn enough credits to keep her void ship flying and what remains of Zau alive. Scoring the biggest bounty of her career should give Moira her ticket out of this life, but nothing is ever that easy.

Following the trail of a runaway polymath, Moira’s past begins to catch up with her even as forces beyond her control conspire to use Zau/Heraxo for their own purposes.

I’ve also got a fantastic interview with both Andrew and Cecilee…

Who is your favorite author?

Andrew: That’s a really difficult question for me to answer. I love so many different kinds of books and regularly read everyone from John Grisham to Alastair Reynolds (editor’s note: another Reynolds fan – yay!). If I were going to be locked in a space ship for the rest of my life an could only bring the works of one author with me… I would probably choose either Madeleine L’Engle or Ian M. Banks. L’Engle because her works walk the line between science fiction, drama, and faith-based, so there would be some variety in the material. Banks because he writes fantastic science fiction with a dark sense of humor, but has enough of a literary bent that I could dig into the characters and themes. But this really is an impossible question for me.

Cecilee: And this is impossible for me too. I don’t have an absolute favorite author because I find myself reading more non-fiction these days, so my reading tends to be topic-based. If you’d asked me this question when I was a teenager, I would’ve told you probably any of the Bronte sisters. I was the nerdy 7th grader who read through Wuthering Heights several times (whether I understood absolutely everything, I’m not sure) and still considers Jane Eyre to be one of her favorite books. The language was sometimes a little above my level, but I didn’t care. Reading the Bronte sisters’ books was an immersive experience. I was stepping into a different time and place, and that’s why I was always drawn to the classics as a teenager (and still am; I finally read Anne Bronte’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall last year and think it’s SEVERELY underrated). I also appreciated that these ladies were doing their own thing in a time when women were just supposed to be wives and mothers.

How do you describe your writing style?

Cecilee: Andrew says my writing reminds him a little of Madeleine L’Engle, probably because I’m trying to write young and interesting characters who are trying to find themselves, rather than focusing on romance. I would describe my writing style as conversational (but not superficial!) in my young adult books and a little more formal but still conversational in my historical fiction stories.

Andrew: Cecilee definitely has a more conversational style, though I’d add that she also occasionally has lovely descriptions of the scenes in which her stories take place. I write in a straightforward narrative style, with little emphasis on flowery prose. There’s a lot to be said for a strong authorial voice and directly addressing the reader, but I like to let my characters and settings speak for themselves with clean descriptions and snappy dialogue. Whenever I’m writing a scene, I try to imagine how it would be filmed, then add in descriptions to help readers visualize the events and keep them engaged in the conversations.

Cecilee: Andrew definitely has a cinematic feel to his stories! When I’m reading them, especially his Oliver Lucas stories, I can picture it all on the big screen. Maybe someday that will happen!

Why should we read your books?

Andrew: My books are escapism with an undercurrent of philosophy. You can read them just for fun and enjoy the adventure as characters search for magical relics or fight to survive against overwhelming odds, or you can really pay attention to the characters and themes. For me the story and the fun is paramount, but I always include complex characters who are struggling to work through the many shades of grey which color our world.

Cecilee: I try to do the same sort of thing in my books: include complex characters. It makes the characters feel more like real people rather than cardboard cutouts. This is especially important, I think, in writing young adult literature. I think YA gets a bad rep sometimes. Too much romance, not enough interesting characters, etc. I didn’t read a lot of YA when I was a teenager. Note that I was reading the Brontes at that age instead! I want people to read my Traveling Society books so they can see that teenagers are actually really cool people who are just trying to make their way through the world and do more than talk about make-up and who they’re taking to the prom. Many of these girls are based on some of my own students. Nellie Tryke, who loves to draw, is based on a student I had a few years ago who was a budding artist. As for my historical fiction stories, I want people to feel immersed in another time and place and even learn a little something about a place they may not be familiar with. You’d be surprised at how few people in my area even know about the ghost town of Wash Woods, which is practically in their backyard!

Have any of your characters been modelled after yourself?

Cecilee: Oh yes. Elodie and Heloise are modeled a little on me, in the sense that Elodie likes to play music and Heloise loves to cook. Most of Traveling Society girls all have a little bit of me as well. Nellie Tryke is nothing like me and the same with Anna Anderson. Patty Monaghan is someone who says what she’s thinking and can be sarcastic at times, and she says the things I wish I’d had the confidence to say as a teenager. Miyoko Raymond wants to be a fashion designer and loves to sew. Lavinia Welch, the one who wants to be a singer and who loves French, is the most like me. She loves French culture like I do and she has a major confidence crisis like I had as a teenager. I knew a girl in choir who had this FANTASTIC voice. She came out and sang Tell Me On A Sunday, a musical theater song, at a recital and hearing her sing with so much maturity and confidence intimidated me to no end. So yes, many of my characters are based on me.

Andrew: To misquote Cobb from Inception: “Never recreate characters from your memories, always imagine new characters. Only use the details. Building a book from memory is the easiest way to lose your grasp on what’s real and what’s fiction.”

I use small details of myself in characters, such as Oliver’s frustration at lack of agency in The Eye of Odin and specific elements of Talbot’s panic attacks in A Cold Day to Drown, but I never directly place myself or anyone else into a story.

If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?

Andrew: I think I would enjoy being Oliver Lucas for a little while. He’s a bit smarter, stronger, and better connected than I am, and it would be fun to actually travel to the exotic locations he visits. There’s a strong element of escapism in the Oliver Lucas novels, and despite occasional doubts Oliver has a strong personality and drive to learn secrets and explore the world. I’d love to have as much confidence as him and be able to travel as widely.

Cecilee: I would too! Of my characters, I would probably want to exchange lives with Lavinia for a day, simply because she is trying to make it as a singer and singing is something I have enjoyed (though admittedly sometimes fought with in my own confidence issues) from an early age. I would love to be on stage singing my heart out and acting like Lavinia will be doing in later books (though it’ll take a while to get there!)

What books have most influenced your life?

Cecilee: Probably Jane Eyre, which is still one of my favorite novels ever. The reading level was definitely more advanced than expected for a teenager, but it was such an immersive experience reading that book and I LOVED her character. I loved that Jane stood up for her beliefs, that she wasn’t willing to become someone’s mistress, and that she felt there was more to life than just becoming someone’s wife and mother. Another book that influenced me was Dominique, a random French novel I bought when I was in France in 2006, and which I spent three years translating from French to English. The book was by Eugène Fromentin, a guy who was better known as a painter. He was the first to paint daily life in French Algeria in the late 1800s. His writing in Dominique was some of the most beautiful I’ve ever read. You can tell this guy was a painter because his descriptions made you feel like you were right there in the French countryside experiencing it with him. His descriptions have influenced my own (or at least, I try!).

Andrew: I read more fiction, though not as much as I did when I was younger, and much of my view of the world and writing comes from the books that I have read. A Swiftly Tilting Planet is one of my favorite novels, which taught me to commingle science and magic in my writing to produce thoughtful stories driven by characters. Treasure Island is the archetype of a brilliant adventure story, packed with twists and antiheroes. The Lord of the Rings is to me, as so many others, the foundation of my love for fantasy novels, and I hope to write a fantasy book half as engaging and deep some day. And I cannot leave out William Gibson’s madly brilliant Neuromancer, which launched my quiet obsession with cyberpunk, or Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead, which both challenged me to think of aliens in a different way and showed me that literature can surpass the intent and message of the author.

If you could select one book that you could rewrite and add your own unique twist on, which book would that be and why?

Andrew: If I could, I think I would rewrite some Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolfe novels in a science fiction or fantasy setting. I love good old fashioned detective stories, but period pieces don’t always feel as relevant or exciting anymore. Sherlock has had a decent run of modernization on TV recently, so… yes, given the chance I would create a pastiche of Nero Wolfe in a new setting.

Cecilee: The aforementioned Dominique would be fun to rewrite and twist. As much as I enjoyed reading and then translating that novel, I would like to rewrite it from the point of view of one of the other female characters. The female characters in Dominique are a little thin, and I think that’s due to the style of the time (mid-1800s). The main plot of the novel is about Dominique’s impossible love for his best friend’s cousin Madeleine. However, even when they do spend time together, you don’t really get to know Madeleine as a person. Why does Dominique love her so much other than he just thinks she’s beautiful? We never find out. He puts her on a pedestal from the beginning and we never know why. So I would like to rewrite that book from Madeleine’s perspective so you get more of a sense of who she is as a person and why Dominique was so in love with her.

Beatles or Monkees? Why?

Cecilee: Monkees hands down. It could be that I have the most personal connection to their music, but I would pick them. Catchy songs that still hold up (even if they didn’t write them, whatever!). Overall, just fun music. My friend Sarah was obsessed with the Monkees when we were in high school (and still is!). So I listened to them as well and still enjoy their music. I actually saw them in concert at Wolf Trap (minus Mike Nesmith) in the early 2000s, where Sarah and I were among the youngest people in the audience! I still have the concert program somewhere.

Andrew: I can’t pick Peter Gabriel? Ok… um… I’ll go with the Beatles because their influence was… no, wait. Monkees, because I don’t want to think about Yellow Submarine.

Who should play you in a film of your life?

Andrew: Matt Damon, circa 2000. Ocean’s Eleven teaches us that he could be just as awkward as I am, and he looks exactly like my grandfather did in 1945.

Cecilee: YES he does! It’s SO weird how much Andrew’s Grandpa Otto looks like young Matt Damon! For me, it would probably be Zooey Deschanel. She’s one of those people who I think would get along well with me in real life. Dye her hair a little red and that could be me! I don’t look like many celebrities (even an “upload a picture and see which celeb looks like you” doesn’t bring up more than maybe 30% matches!)!





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Featured Author – Emily English and “Uniting the Heavens”

Featured Author – Emily English and “Uniting the Heavens”

I met several fantastic indie authors a couple of weeks ago at AwesomeCon here in Washington, DC, and I’m trying to feature all of them here on the site.  First up is Emily English!

Emily has spent most of her career as a systems analyst, writing and editing technical documentation and requirements for enterprise-wide systems. If that wasn’t thrilling enough, in her spare time (aka the wee hours of the night) and over the course of five years, she completed her first novel Uniting the Heavens, a story that had taken root in her skull almost 20 years ago.

Emily is heavily influenced by (and obsessed with) anime and the Final Fantasy video game series. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and a high-anxiety dorgi in the Washington metropolitan area.

Emily is currently working on Book 2 of the Uniting the Heavens series.

You can follow Emily all over the Interwebs!  She’s on (naturally) her website, as well as GoodreadsInstagram, Facebook, Twitter and, last but not least, Tumblr



Emily’s first book is called UNITING THE HEAVENS.









What’s it about?

When a bloodied, secret message destined for the powerful Lord Tiede ends up in the hands of Aren, a young apprentice serving in the greatest library in all of Cordelacht, his life starts to unravel. A murderer is leaving grisly sacrifices all over the city in the name of Magic, Aren’s little sister starts relaying messages from the gods, and the Lady Tiede becomes a little too familiar with the bumbling apprentice. As intelligent and handsome as he is naïve, Aren has a gift for saying all the wrong things and stumbling into hopeless situations, like falling for a mysterious scholar with her own hidden agenda.

Now it’s up to Aren to save Tiede, and to do so he’ll need to rekindle his masochistic relationship with Tiede Wood, the magical and cursed forest that protects the House. Will Aren unmask the monster on the killing spree and finally prove his worth? Or will he succumb to his personal demons, unable to overcome the stigma of being an Unblessed, and die as godless as he was born?

Want to read an excerpt?  Of course you do!

    Aren wasn’t sure how it was possible for black to get blacker.

He slowed down to keep from tripping over roots and branches, but his chest thumped hard with panic. He stopped to catch his breath in a small clearing where trickles of fading light had managed to sneak through the canopy of trees and fell upon him like a rain shower. His eyes filled with dots of shadow and light, mingling with the noise in his head, making him feel nauseous.

He leaned on the staff and risked calling out, “Selina! It’ll be dark soon, and we need to get out of here!” Perhaps yelling was not inconspicuous, but the hairs on the back of his neck were sending prickle signals down his arms. His damned headaches had caused a lapse in judgment. What was he thinking letting a child lead him into the Wood to meet up with a gnome? “Tell me where you are, sweetheart! I’m fine! I don’t need any magic water; we just need to get home!” He could be talking to himself for all he knew. She could be another half click away towards the south—though he couldn’t pick out south from any other direction at this point. “What if I told you the stupid gnome wants you to come back?” He blathered at a charcoal burrow squirrel that had peeked out of its tree. “I take that back; he’s not stupid. He’s great, hilarious actually. We’re best friends. Stars, Selina, where are you?”

He needed a plan. There were two—maybe three—hours of sunlight left outside of the Wood, which meant less than one hour of quasi-visibility where he stood now. He could try to go back the way he had come and hope that Selina would do the same after she realized there was no such thing as healing water. Or he could stay where he was and hope that Selina would come this way, if she had passed through here at all.

He hated how familiar the whole ordeal felt, how his bones woke up and burned with life. Something in the air heated the blood that raced through his veins, and he felt like he could destroy something. The magic of the Wood was driving him to madness while the voices in his head cooed and seduced him. They had to get out of here.

Emily’s also given us an interview.  You know you want to read it!

Who is your favorite author?

Although I have a lot of favorite authors, I’m going to have to go with Neil Gaiman. I love how his work can be whimsical or extremely dark. His writing is so descriptive and his stories so imaginative. I’ve seen him speak 3 or 4 times now, and I’ve met him once—he even let me hold his writing pen. His sense of humor is quirky, and he comes off as very down to earth. He strikes me as some kind of alien being who has done a great job at fitting in with us earthlings, but every now and then you catch a glimpse of his otherworldliness.

How do you describe your writing style?

My writing style tends towards the lighthearted and descriptive. I’m a huge fan of fantasy, but I don’t like getting bogged down in the rules and the histories and the world-building that goes along with it. I believe all of that is important, but I don’t like having it spelled out for me in stories. So when I write, I want to give the reader enough to form a mental image and let them fill in the rest. The result is a writing style that is more accessible—even to people who don’t read a lot of fantasy.

Why should we read your books?

I’ve had the Uniting the Heavens story in me for a very long time. I know my characters very well, and they are the driving force in my story. I’m so passionate about this story, and I have such faith in this story and the characters. I’ve been told that Uniting the Heavens is an original look at mythology and magic, and I’ve had people who don’t even read fantasy tell me that they’ve really enjoyed it because of the storytelling itself. If you enjoy reading, I think my story is easy to pick up and get lost in.

Have any of your characters been modelled after yourself?

I can relate to several characters in my story in different ways, but none of them are modeled after me or anyone else I know. My characters are their own individuals affected by their own various circumstances in their lives. That said, I find it easy to relate to their different characteristics. For example, I have a character who gets nervous around authority, and I can relate to that. I have another character who likes to drink, and another who doesn’t do a whole lot of talking. But on the whole, none of them are like me, nor I like them.

If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?

I have so many characters who would be fun to switch lives with! Aren would seem to be a good choice, but he’s so haunted that I don’t think I could live his life. Dane would be fun because he enjoys a good drink and doesn’t take things seriously. I think in the end, I’d go with Kaila. First of all, she’s a water spirit so I’d get to be a water bender. Haha! She’s also beautiful, smart, and strong-willed. Mostly, she gets to spend a lot of time with Aren. Count me in!

What books have most influenced your life?

I have difficulty picking certain titles. Usually it’s a theme or an author’s writing that move me. I gobbled up books with fairy tales or mythology growing up so those were my building blocks. Then, I got into the Choose Your Own Adventure series and got into Dungeons and Dragons (editor’s note: same here!). After that was the Final Fantasy video game series. I know that’s a video game and not a book, but the influence of those in-game stories, art, and music on my life has been too tremendous to not mention. I eventually got in to Tolkien’s books, then Patricia McKillip’s books. McKillip’s books really struck a chord with me. Her prose is gorgeous, and if I could write prose a fraction of the way she does, I’d feel like I struck gold. Her book Winter Rose was a huge turning point as far as an influence in my writing life.

If you could select one book that you could rewrite and add your own unique twist on, which book would that be and why?

I’d rewrite Twilight. I’d take out the sparkling and the stalking and whatever it is that makes me want to strangle Bella (editor’s note: that would be pretty much everything about her, wouldn’t it?). I had read the entire series, and I’ll even admit that I liked Twilight. I could have lived without the other books, though. I feel like the story itself is intriguing, and I love a good love story. I also love beautiful looking characters. I would just rewrite it to make the female protagonist stronger. You can fall in love and still be a strong, independent person. I’d also inject some humor into the story. I like dark stories, but come on—you can still laugh in the dark.

Beatles or Monkees? Why?

I prefer primates over bugs because they are cuter and way less creepy. Haha! Ok, fine I’ll go with the Beatles. Everyone in my family is a Beatles fan, so it’s hard to avoid it. Usually the question is Beatles or Stones? I’ll still go with the Beatles. I’m way more familiar with their songs, and I’ve seen Sir Paul in concert. I also admired George Harrison. I couldn’t even tell you the names of the band members in the Monkees (editor’s note: Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork).

Who should play you in a film of your life?

This question reminded me that there are not enough superstar Asian women in Hollywood. I’ll go with Natalie Mendoza, Ming-na Wen, or Elodie Yung. I think this means there must also be a lot of ass-kicking in the film of my life.

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Kindle Giveaway!

Kindle Giveaway!

And, no, I don’t mean books you can read on a Kindle.  I mean a giveaway OF an actual Kindle.  For free.  To you.

For your chance to win, all you have to do is CLICK HERE, or on the photo below, to enter the giveaway.



























Good luck!

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Book Tour – The Jane Barnaby Adventure by…well, me!

Book Tour – The Jane Barnaby Adventure by…well, me!

Finders Keepers
The Jane Barnaby Adventures Book 1
by J.J. DiBenedetto
Genre: Light Suspense Thriller
230 pages
All archaeology student Jane Barnaby had to do was deliver a box of
pottery shards to her professor at his dig site, along with his new
car. Yes, his office was in Oxfordshire, and his dig site was in
Spain, a trip of 1,400 miles across three countries and two bodies of
water. Still, it should have been simple.
That is, until everything went wrong.
Now, Jane has the wrong box and is being chased by thieves who want it and
aren’t particular about how they get what they want.
Add to that, she’s picked up a pair of passengers who both claim they can
help her get her professor’s pottery back and return the artifacts to
their rightful owner. If only she knew who was working with the
thieves and who she can trust in this high-stakes game of finders keepers.
**Only .99 cents!**
Losers Weepers
The Jane Barnaby Adventures Book 2
226 pages
Jane Barnaby had everything going her way: a prestigious internship at the
Museum of Natural History, a fantastic Upper West Side sublet
apartment, and helping plan her newly-engaged college friend’s
Until a casual lunch with her friend’s fiancé set off alarm bells, and
sent her digging into the rabbit hole that is his past.
When that rabbit hole leads Jane and her on-again, off-again boyfriend to
the English countryside, uncovering secrets dating back to World War
2, searching for priceless art treasures looted by the Nazis, and
fighting off the thieves who will kill to get those treasures for
themselves, will they discover the truth, or lose their lives?
Her Brother’s Keeper
The Jane Barnaby Adventures Book 3
175 pages
Jane Barnaby has planned the perfect Christmas vacation. Her father and
his fiancé are joining her in Spain at her archaeological dig.
They’ll see her work, meet her mentor, and they’ll all enjoy a few
days of sunny Mediterranean beaches in the dead of winter.
But it all falls apart when Jane’s annoying brother tags along and lands
in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.
To clear her brother’s
name, all Jane has to do is chase a wily female con-artist across
Europe, catch her, and confront the woman and her accomplices. Oh,
and outwit an ex-KGB agent and his personal goon squad along the way.
J.J. DiBenedetto is author of the Dream Series and the Jane Barnaby
Adventures and lives in Arlington, Virginia with the love of his life
and a white cat who rules the roost.
His passions are photography, travel, the opera, the New York Giants, and
of course writing.
Mr. DiBenedetto is devoted to writing books with a sense of mysticism to
entertain and perhaps invite his readers to suspend belief in a way
they might never have.
Since he was very young , he has always been intrigued with the
supernatural and things that can’t be explained rationally.
By always asking way too many questions, it piqued his interest to the
point of setting his writing off and running when he grew up! All the
curiosity building up all those years were finally getting put into
words to captivate readers. And it hasn’t ended. His main goal is to
share all the stories he has inside, putting pen to paper. And that’s
how the Dream Series was born.
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
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Facebook Parties!

Facebook Parties!

Today’s a busy day – I’ll be at not one, but two Facebook parties, and if you stop by, you can win lots of great prizes!

Starting at 1 PM Eastern, there’s a fantastic audiobook event called THRILL ME!

I’m participating with several other amazing authors, and you can win audiobook copies of our books – it’ll be a blast, so be sure to check it out!

Also, at 5:30 (again, eastern time), I’ll be guest-hosting at the release party for Jessica Elliot’s new book, Of Snow and Mistletoe, again along with several other great authors, so be sure to drop by!



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