Archive for April, 2014

Palace, Slaves And Monsters: Inspiration Behind The Sultan’s Wife

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Guest Author: Jane Johnson

Jane_Johnson Sitting in a restaurant in the Moroccan town of Agadir, I became aware of the haunting gaze of an African man in a red turban, his expression sullen, yet proud. He was the subject of a painting on the other side of the room and I couldn’t stop looking at him. He was, I discovered later, the famous ‘Turk in a Turban’, Delacroix’s portrait of a Moroccan court slave (the original is in the Louvre).

“When King Hasan II died in 1999,” my husband said, following my gaze, “his bier was carried out of the palace in Fez by six of his slaves. They looked just like that. Proud to do their final duty by their king.”Delacroix portrait

I had met and married Abdellatif after researching my first Moroccan novel (The Tenth Gift), and was still experiencing regular culture-shocks. “Slaves? In 1999?” I was too amazed to be outraged.

Abdel explained that slavery was abolished in Morocco only in the 1960s: his mother had slaves in her household. A man cost a bucket of salt; a woman a dish of salt. The royal family’s house-slaves would have been free men by the 90s, but even so, bearing the coffin out of the palace would probably have been the first time they had set foot into the outside world. “Of course,” he went on, “in earlier times they would have been eunuchs, like the man in the painting.” All male attendants in the inner court were castrated to guarantee validity of succession: no entire man could enter the sultan’s harem.

I looked at DelacroiThe Sultan's wifex’s handsome ‘Turk’ again. How could he maintain dignity, pride and defiance in the face of such physical and social insult? And so the central character of The Sultan’s Wife, Nus-Nus (the Arabic word for a half-and-half coffee) was born. Taken captive in the jungles of West Africa during tribal feuding, he was sold as a slave and castrated as a gift to the sultan.

Moulay Ismail was Sultan of Morocco from 1672 to 1727. His glittering empire stretched from the coasts of North Africa through the desert to Timbuktu. He was known as ‘Safaq Adimaa’ or ‘The Bloodthirsty’ for his ruthlessness and habit when bored of testing the sharpness of his sword on the neck of the nearest slave.

In 1703 a visiting ambassador asked how many children the sultan had. After 3 days he was presented with a list of 525 boys and 342 girls. His wives and concubines were even more numerous but amongst them is one constant: Lalla Zidana, bought as a slave from his brother, dreaded by all as ‘the witch Zidana’. Despite – or maybe because of – this she maintained a 30-year ascendancy over Ismail’s affections and exercised absolute power over his harem. In the novel, Nus-Nus has to navigate a safe passage between these two extremely dangerous presences in the Meknes court.

Meknes has been called a second Versailles. Moulay Ismail and Louis XIV were contemporaries, both passionately involved in the constMohammed bin Hadou Moroccan ambassadorruction of their palaces. Versailles may not have been built with slave labour, but Louis was heedless of the lives of his workmen. In the bitter winter of 1685 many of the 40,000 workers died. Conditions, of course, for the thousands of slaves at Meknes were far more terrible.

During the latter years of the 17th century Morocco was at war with England over the strategic port of Tangiers. Moulay Ismail was determined to expel the foreigners; but years of siege and bombardment had little effect. At last the sultan decided to send an embassy to London to negotiate a treaty. The Moroccan embassy of 1682 arrived in London in January under the command of Mohammed ben Hadou Ottur, and in my novel Nus-Nus accompanies him. The embassy was feted by the smartest society and encountered in London the most brilliant creative minds of the age: Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and alchemist Elias Ashmole; Samuel Pepys, John Dryden and a young Henry Purcell.

A portrait of Charles’s mistress Louise de Kéroualle by Pierre Mignard was in progress while the embassy was in town. Louise hosted a grand dinner for the embassy. Wine was served, but the Moors confined themselves to milk and water and conducted themselves with the most ‘courtly negligence in pace, countenance, and whole behaviour’ according to diarist John Evelyn, managing not to ogle the ladies, who included several of King Charles’s mistresses in shockingly immodest garb.

Ambassador Ben Hadou

The ambassador had his portrait painted twice: both paintings are in the archives of the National Portrait Gallery in London; the Mignard is on display there. The subjects of these paintings took on a life on their own for me, so vividly did they inhabit the novel. But of them all, Nus-Nus, inspired by Delacroix’s masterpiece, remains my favourite: he represents the contradictions of the age, on the cusp between the ancient world and the Enlightenment, between continents and cultures, between traditional gender roles and identities.

About Author:

Jane Johnson has worked in the book industry as a bookseller, writer and publisher (amongst other writers of JRR Tolkien, and George RR Martin). In 2005 she was in Morocco researching the story of an ancestor taken by Barbary pirates and sold into slavery in North Africa, when she met and fell in love with her own ‘Berber pirate’ to whom she has now been married for 8 years.  She is the author of three Moroccan novelsThe Tenth Gift, The Salt Road and The Sultan’s Wife- and has also written several books for children.

An Interview with Ellen Meister, Author of Farewell, Dorothy Parker

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Ellen Meister author photo low resYou must be familiar with Farewell, Dorothy Parker’s writer Ellen Meister. How can you not be? She is such a nice person, a brilliant and thoughtful author, blogger and creative writing professor at Hofstra University School of Continuing Education. Ellen has written four novels: Farewell, Dorothy Parker, The Other Life, The Smart One, and Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, including several essays and short stories. Currently, she is working on her fifth novel, tentatively titled Dorothy Parker Is Dead and Living in the Algonquin.

In this interview with us, Ellen talks about Farewell, Dorothy Parker, its popularity and the experiences she have had while writing this book.

You’ve been a Dorothy Parker fan since your teen years.  How were you first introduced to her work?

In high school, I read about the Algonquin Round Table–the group of wits who met daily for lunch during the 1920s–and was struck by the irreverence of Dorothy Parker’s quips. I simply had to know more about the woman who said things like “It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard” (after terminating an unwanted pregnancy) and “Ducking for apples–change one letter and it’s the story of my life.” I was young enough to think that my generation invented sass, so it was a revelation, and I simply had to know more. I picked up a copy of “The Portable Dorothy Parker” and have been hooked ever since.

At that age, what about her voice appealed to you?

Once I got over the fact that people actually enjoyed sex in the 1920s (did I mention that I was young?), I was bowled over by Dorothy Parker’s pithy but profound insights into heartbreak. It all felt so fresh and so personal.

Why did you want to bring Dorothy Parker to life in a novel?

At the risk of sounding hallucinatory, there’s a part of me that has always carried Dorothy Parker around on my shoulder, wondering what she would make of the modern world. Now that I’ve written the book, I’m amazed that it took me so long to come up with the idea for it.

In FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, movie critic Violet is better at expressing and defending herself in her film reviews than in real life.  Can you relate?

Absolutely. It’s always been easier for me to find my real voice on paper. The page cannot judge me.

Your Dorothy Parker Facebook page

<> has over 100,000 followers, and more every day. 

Are you surprised by its popularity?

I always suspected there were legions of Dorothy Parker fans out there, and finding so many of them has been a singular joy. Best of all, the page has become a community–a place where smart, literate people can connect to enjoy a national treasure.

Parker left her entire estate to Martin Luther King, Jr., though the two never met.  What was their connection?

Throughout her life, Dorothy Parker had a profound commitment to fighting injustice, so it was natural that the civil rights movement would capture her heart.

What do you think was Parker’s proudest moment in her long career?

In 1927, Dorothy Parker was arrested for protesting the conviction of Sacco and Vanzetti, Italian immigrant anarchists who were accused of murder and received an egregiously unfair trial.  (The judge in the case had been quoted as saying, “I’m gonna get those anarchist bastards good and proper.”) Though the protest was unsuccessful and the men were executed, I believe Parker took more pride in her efforts to save them than in any writing success.Farewell DP paperback cover

Were you surprised by anything you found in researching this book?

I was surprised that so many of the quotes attributed to Dorothy Parker have little or no evidence to support that she was the actual source.

You have said that capturing Parker’s language “nearly wiped me out.”What was most difficult about it?

Her language was so precise and her wit so razor sharp that I had to excise half of the funniest lines and rewrite the other half a hundred times. It increased my appreciation of her immeasurably!

If Dorothy Parker tweeted you today, what do you think she’d say?

Since I was careful to cast Mrs. Parker in a full light–portraying not just her acerbic wit, but her devotion to fighting injustice and her big, beautiful damaged heart–she would probably tweet: *Don’t believe a word of it.*

What is your favorite Dorothy Parker quote?

Probably, “”If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

What’s it like to visit the legendary Algonquin Hotel, Parker’s favorite haunt? 

For me, connecting to the rich history of the Algonquin is almost magical. As soon as I enter, I experience a rumble of joy that’s like a bass beat I feel all over.

Parker and her Algonquin Round Table cronies were the epitome of the roaring twenties zeitgeist.  What do you think is driving the resurgent interest in the 1920s?

In our stressful political and economic climate, it’s natural to be nostalgic about the era. From here, the 1920s look like one big party–cool and young and free–innocent of the darkness about to descend on the nation in the form of The Great Depression and later, World War II.

Dorothy Parker died forty-five years ago, yet people continue to be fascinated by her.  How do you explain her longevity?

She had a timeless genius. Humor so rarely holds up through the decades, but hers does. It’s a testament to her talent and vision that her wit seems as fresh and funny now as it did almost a century ago.

You teach creative writing at Hofstra University Continuing Education. What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t be in such a rush to get published; give yourself time to hone your craft and find your voice. It’s a long process. And read, read, read.

Ellen, thank you so much for this wonderful interview.

If you would like to know more about Ellen, visit her website at

The Grove and Its Background Story

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Guest Author: Jean Johnson

Jean Johnson 2009 2 - avatar largeThe Grove is the second book in my Guardians of Destiny fantasy romance series. It can stand on its own reasonably well, but I’ll admit readers will get more out of the story if the read the rest in that series when they all come out, and if they read the previous series Guardians is linked to, the Sons of Destiny Series. But what you won’t find between the covers of this book is where I got the idea for a magical garden gone wrong.

I’d say I have my father to blame, but my father is neither a mage, nor has he ever damaged a garden if he could help it. Quite the contrary; after struggling for years in the business world as an engineer whose skills weren’t being used in any sort of engineering way, he determined that he had to quit his office career in order to salvage his mental health. I don’t know exactly what turned him in this particular new direction–I was only a child at the time, barely into double digits–but turn he did, and headed up a new path: the gardener’s path.

Trading suits for coveralls and calculators for pruners, he opened a landscape maintenance business. He wasn’t much into fantasy–certainly not romances–and though he loved shows like Star Trek, my father has always been a pragmatic man, so when he opened himself up to the world of horticulture, he dove in up to his brain, checking out book after book from the local libraries on the proper care and maintenance of plant life. He’d regale us with tales from his experiences with his customers, discuss why one pruned branches at certain angles and in specific places, and tried to instill his daughters with a deep love of the outdoors, because that was where he had found his happiness in his work.

Alas, it didn’t quite take. My sister’s one of those constantly-on-the-phone Cover of THE GROVEmodern woman types; in fact she got a job at an answering service, where she is now the manager. For myself…I hate, loathe, and fear bugs. Creepy crawlies. Spiders. It took me until I was in my thirties to stop shrieking at the sight of even the teeniest of spiders, and lo–if you go into a garden, there they be: bugs of all shapes and sizes. Coupled with the fact I wanted to be a published author, and that writing–oh, joy!–was an indoor profession…neither of us wanted to follow in his footsteps. They were pretty big footsteps, too: he was honored with a rare lifetime membership in a landscape professionals’ association for all his contributions. Unfortunately, health complications ended his career before he could find someone to carry on his business. But to this day he’s still proud of all he learned and all he accomplished, and his wife and daughters are proud of him, too.

Because he loved his work, we learned to appreciate it as well. And because as a writer, I am constantly asking increasingly outrageous “What If…?” questions, I have always had in the back of my mind for many years the question of, What If…a garden in a land of mages was warped by magics running wild? What would happen to the plants, the trees, the animals? Yes, even to the bugs? What sort of plants would be actually magical by their own nature? Would some become ambulatory, able to walk around? Why would they want to? Would some of the flowers have unique potions embedded in their perfumes? Would trees become treants or treemen, able to move and defend their arboreal territories? How would a magical garden react to intruders, or confinement? Would even the soil be contaminated by the magic as the plants broke down and decomposed, or was the soil itself the source of the problem?

Thus were born the migrating marigolds, the power-infused sap, and the magical bleeding hearts that are seen in this story. They’re only a small part of the overall story, which is indeed part fantasy epic and part romance. Still, for all that my father won’t ever read my novels–they just aren’t his sort of subject, and I’m perfectly fine with that–The Grove is in a way a nod from me to him for sharing his love of gardening with his family. Thanks to him, I know to mow my lawn in different directions each time to keep it well-trimmed, and how to prune a tree to not only cut back on wild growth, but where to prune it to encourage or discourage new growth, and how to lop off branches in a way that will reduce the chance of infection and rot. I know that roses are best pruned in February–which I need to do this month–and that once you plant small bulbs such as bluebells, good luck getting them all out of the ground again. Oh, and bamboo is always best planted in containers, or it’ll run wild like a weed.

I hope you’ll enjoy the story of Saleria, the mage-priestess tasked by her people to manage the magically mangled Sacred Grove of Katan, and Aradin Teral, a Darkhanan Witch-priest and Hortimancer, who comes looking for a true representative of the Katani people, and stays because he finds the challenge, and the love, of a lifetime.

About Author:

Jean Johnson is a multiple national bestselling author in categories ranging as far apart as paranormal romance and military science fiction. Having gotten her foot in the door first in romance in early 2007, she has since hit the Extended NY Times Bestseller list, recently been a special convention guest, and has been nominated multiple times for awards, including the 2011 Philip K. Dick Award for Best Science Fiction. She resides in the Pacific Northwest, promises to always write the best stories she can, and does not promise to keep her sense of humor out of her works. At this point, she has 15 novels and 2 single author anthologies already published, with many more scheduled to come. If you want to learn more, you can reach her at:, @JeanJAuthor on Twitter, or via Facebook at Fans of Author Jean Johnson.

India-Shop Books @

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

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We invite you to start exploring our website, , and let us know your feedback. Your suggestions and views will help us to improve the website and give you the best possible browsing and shopping experience. If you feel that something should be reviewed or enhanced, please drop us a mail at

‘Where Do You Get Your Ideas?’ Jason Fry on the Mysteries of Inspiration

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Guest Author: Jason Fry

jace-hed2When I visit a school or library to talk with kids about my books, I always know one question is coming: “Where do you get your ideas?”

On a recent trip to Connecticut, I answered this by talking about the importance of reading, and shared the old author’s trick of looking in the newspaper for possibilities – Sochi’s Winter Olympics led us to discuss how abandoned Olympic facilities might make an interesting setting for an adventure.

I told the kids that for me, a good idea feels like a loose tooth – I can’t stop poking at it. But I also told them that the source of ideas can be mysterious, which is one of the joys and frustrations of being a writer.

The Jupiter Pirates, my space-fantasy series for young readers, started with a simple thought, one I began batting around with my wife during a summer walk in the park.

It could be fun to write a kids’ book about space pirates.

From there, an idea formed quickly, in a way that rarely happens to me.

Imagine a family of space pirates. They have their own starship. The mother is the captain, the father is the first mate, and the children are midshipmen.

That was definitely an idea I could poke at. Thjp1en the rest of it came to me in a flash.

As crewmates, the children have to cooperate. But they’re also competing — the rank of captain is handed down from one generation to the next, and only one of the kids will be chosen.

My wife and I looked at each other. That sounded pretty good, actually. It sounded like the engine that could drive a series of adventures, with plenty of action but also something to say about growing up and discovering how your family has shaped you in ways that are both proud and painful.

From that starting point, I added inspiration from Star Wars, and Treasure Island, and Patrick O’Brian, and even “The Sopranos.” The result was The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra, the first book in the adventures of Tycho Hashoone, his twin sister Yana and their older brother Carlo. It’s got a hammer-and-tongs space battle, a mystery with a side of courtroom drama, sibling rivalry, and pirates who say “Arrr” unironically. 

It’s been a thrill to get to share Hunt for the Hydra with the world, and I can’t wait to unveil the further adventures of Tycho and his siblings. But as for the idea that started it all, I just shrug. Sometimes you get lucky.

Author’s bio:

Jason Fry is the New York Times-bestselling author of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Visual Guide and nearly two dozen other Star Wars books. His first original novel, The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra, was published by HarperCollins in December 2013. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. For more about the Jupiter Pirates, visit

Bugged: How Insects Changed History: An Interview With Children’s Book Author Sarah Albee

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Sarah Albee 1Sarah Albee is a well-known author of bestselling Sesame Street and Big Bag books. She has authored a myriad of books for young readers, three of which have been New York Times bestsellers. Before starting her career as a full-time Children’s book writer, Sarah had done a lot of jobs including babysitter, waitress, secretary, newspaper cartoonist, textbook illustrator, semi-pro basket ball player and many more. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, this talented author and editor is now living in Connecticut with her husband and three kids. Today, Sarah talks about her journey as an author, her life and all about her latest, “Bugged: How Insects Changed History” in her interview with us.

Sherry: Sarah, welcome and thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I’m thrilled to put you in the spotlight.

Sarah: Thanks, Sherry!

Sherry:  Can you share a little about your upcoming book, “Bugged: How Insects Changed History” and what inspired you to write this?

Sarah: I love to write about history from unusual perspectives. In this case, I was interested in the role insects have played, for better or worse, in our history. Insects have helped create empires (silk, red dye) and have toppled others (Alexander the Great, Napoleon). They’ve also killed more soldiers in wars than guns have (typhus is transmitted by the louse, malaria by the mosquito). My inspiration to write it is part of my mission as a children’s book writer: to get kids to see how fascinating history can be.

Sherry: What research was required for this book?

Sarah: I read a lot of science-oriented books and articles in addition to buggedhistory. I interviewed experts on infectious disease. It was challenging to distill down a lot of complex concepts having to do with epidemiology, entomology, pathology, immunology–into language kids would understand. As a children’s book writer, you never want to “talk down” to kids, but it’s important to write with clarity—and it has to be compelling and entertaining, too.

Sherry: Before starting your career as a full time children’s book author, you were a newspaper cartoonist and a semi-professional basketball player (as much as I know). So, when did you decide to become a writer and what’s it like writing a book?

Sarah: Yes I’ve had a lot of fun jobs in my life, but I always wanted to write stories. Growing up, my sister and I wrote a lot of storybooks together—she wrote the text and I illustrated them. And I’ve always loved basketball—my husband is a coach and my oldest son plays in college—but writing for kids is the best job ever. I got my start writing for kids at Sesame Street, where I worked for nine years.

Sherry: Can you talk about your interest in beginning readers?

Sarah: Starting my career at Sesame Street gave me a wonderful grounding in the preschool mind. I’m glad my first books were for the youngest kids. What Sesame Street taught me is that very young children can still be smart and engaged and appreciative of humor—they’re just younger versions of who they will become. So as a writer it’s a challenge to appeal to them at whatever developmental stage they’re at, but never to condescend to them. I began to branch into writing for older kids after I stopped working there full time and became a freelancer. I think perhaps as my own kids grew older, I became more and more fascinated with writing for older age groups. Nowadays my favorite age group to write for is middle grade—8 to 14.

Sherry: I’ve noticed that you choose a different name for your writing, why have you chosen to write under a pseudonym?

Sarah: When I was at Sesame Street, I was an editor. But from time to time a colleague would ask me to write a book for which she was the editor—as writer, I played a very different role. It was our boss’s rule that we take a pseudonym when we wrote books on staff, and now I understand her reasoning. You really are a different person as a writer than as an editor.

 After I became a freelancer, I kept writing under my Sesame Street pseudonym (Constance Allen), and when I wrote for other properties, like SpongeBob and Blue’s Clues and Dora, I wrote under other, different pseudonyms.

Nowadays I write for middle grade series. Sometimes two or more writers will write under one pseudonym, so the perception is that the series is by one person. For instance, Carolyn Keene, the writer of the Nancy Drew series, was a fictional person. Several writers wrote the series.

My general rule is that I use my own name for books that are completely mine. But if I’m writing for a character I did not create, I use a pen name.

Sherry: I’ve seen a few of your books were illustrated by the fantastic Robert Leighton. How is it for a writer to see what an artist makes of your words and story?

Sarah: Robert did a wonderful job lightening up much of the text portions of Bugged. There’s a lot of death and disease and grisly details in the book, and his cartoons helped tremendously keeping the tone upbeat and not too depressing!

Sherry: What is the secret to keeping children informed as well as entertained?

Sarah: As a nonfiction writer, I feel a real obligation to keep my books interesting as well as informative. If they’re also funny, then I feel I’ve done my job even better. Many kids think they don’t like history, because they’re reading dull textbooks in social studies or history class. I want to show them how history is full of drama, excitement, and compelling stories. And whereas textbooks have a tendency to sum up, compartmentalize, and sound like the “last word” on what happened in the past, my goal is to show kids that many historical figures had complex personalities, and that there are multiple perspectives on past events.

Sherry: It’s really very exciting to see three of your books appear on the New York Times Bestseller list. How do you feel about it?

Sarah: Of course it’s wonderful and exciting—but honestly, what makes me happiest is hearing directly from kids that they read and liked my books. Part of why I love writing for middle graders is that they choose to pick up my books on their own—whether buying them or checking them out at the library—so in that sense I’ve “earned” my sales figures. I hope that makes sense.

Sherry: What are you working on at the moment?

Sarah: I have a book coming out next year with National Geographic Kids about the history of crazy fashions—corsets, hoop skirts, bound feet, lead makeup—and why people wore what they did. I’m in the picture-research stage right now, which I absolutely love! It’s going to be a beautiful book—Nat Geo has the best design team ever!

Sherry: Any advice for young people who want to be writers?

Sarah: The best advice I have is to read. Read as much and as widely as you can. It’s the absolute best way to learn the craft.

Thank you so much for your time Sarah and for such wonderful answers.

If you would like to find out more about Sarah Albee and her books, have a look at her website Also, you can get the copies of Sarah Elbee’s books here.

Why I Write For Boys?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Guest Author: Eddie Jones

eddieWhy do I write for boys? Because I am one. Have been for as long as I remember. And I love boy books. Especially boy books that involve mystery, adventure, and dead bodies.

I fell in love with reading in the seventh grade, when I found a used copy of Tom Sawyer in my grandmother’s attic. From seventh until twelfth grade, I trotted out the same tired book report, made a few new comments on Tom and Huck’s adventures, and presented it to my teacher. Each year the results were the same. A over F. A for content, F for grammar.9780310723936

My grammar has not improved, but I have learned a few more things about writing for boys. For example, boys like action, suspense, and dead bodies. At least my boys do. That’s the reason I introduce a corpse in the opening chapter of Dead Low Tide. Only this corpse won’t stay dead, and when the body of Heidi May Laveau abducts Nick Caden’s sister, our hero is forced to investigate the world of the undead in order to rescue Wendy. Along the way, Nick discovers the roots of voodoo and the allure of black magic. He also finds oskull-creek-coverut that Zombies are nothing new – that the concept of the walking dead has been around since the Old Testament.

While hiding in the shack of a Voodoo Queen, Nick is forced to face his own mortality. He asks the question that haunts us on our deathbed: what becomes of us when we die? The more Nick learns, the more convinced he becomes that the dead really don’t stay dead.

Dead Low Tide, Skull Creek Stakeout, and Dead Man’s Hand are mom friendly. I managed to avoid cursing, sex, and excessdead man's handive violence while creating these stories. I believe a well-told story doesn’t need to offend to get noticed. I also feel strongly that boy books should be short for those readers who would not normally pick up a book. My goal is to give boys a book they can consume quickly. But these are murder mysteries so there are false clues, dead ends, and … dead bodies.

The Caden Chronicles series has been compared to the Hardy Boys. Except that in each book I deal with one aspect of the occult. In Dead Man’s Hand, I explore the idea of ghosts. In Skull Creek, it’s vampirism.

I could say more but brevity has its rewards, so I’ll stop. Besides, I’m on a deadline, and when you write scary murder mysteries, it’s wise to keep the dead in line.

About Author:

Eddie is a North Carolina-based writer and an award-winning author with HarperCollins. If you’re a tween/teen with a scary story visit We’re always looking for “dead beat” reporters. You can learn more about Eddie at

Does Size Matter?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Guest Author: Gerry Bartlett

tnIt’s always tough to pick just the right title for a book. I have a series with ten books about the same heroine. Glory St. Clair is an ancient vampire who was bloating when she was turned in 1604. Or at least that’s what she tells people. Actually she went on an eating binge right before her big V-day. So she’s stuck with hips a little too wide and a figure that will never be model thin. My books aren’t dark, intense stories. I write light paranormals. So my titles have to reflect that tone. The first one was Real Vampires Have Curves. After that my editor insisted each one allude to Glory’s curvy body. Quite a challenge. Especially by the time we got to book ten.

Okay, so here we are with Real Vampires Know Size Matters. Does it? Lucky for Glory, her long-time lover is an ancient male who likes his women full figured. Glory complains that she won’t ever be a siz0425267032e six, but she knows that her generous curves please her men and she dresses to make sure they notice her assets. And what are those? This blood drinking vampire, who can rip out your throat or drain you dry, is a good person. She’s also smart and a savvy business owner who has had to make her own way in a world that is limited by the death sleep at dawn. Glory knows that some people judge others based on exteriors but it’s the inside that counts—integrity, humor and the ability to know who you are and stay true to yourself.

Writing a long running series isn’t easy, especially one that features the same central characters book after book. I felt Glory had to grow and change from book to book. She needed to realize she had more to offer than a great fashion sense and acrobatics in the bedroom. Oops, I hope I didn’t make someone blush. Yes, parts of my books are steamy. My vampires fall in lust and love. Make commitments and break hearts. And Glory had to decide if loving forever is in the cards for her.

In Real Vampires Know Size Matters, she finally came to an important conclusion. It wasn’t easy for her. She had enemies to deal with, competition for her lover’s affection, and a new family to learn to tolerate. She got by with help from her friends and her strength of character. Because when all is said and done, it’s not your dress size but the size of your heart that matters.

About Author:

Gerry Bartlett is the nationally bestselling author of the Real Vampires series. She is a native Texan and lives halfway between Houston and Galveston where she has an antiques business that lets her indulge her shopping addiction. Would she like to be a vampire? No way. She’s too addicted to Mexican food and sunlight. You can reach her on or follow her and her dog Jet on Facebook or twitter. Her latest release is Real Vampires Take a Bite Out of Christmas (Real Vampires 10.5) an e-novella available now.

The Story Behind The Story

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Guest Author: Lisa Harris

IMG_0772Several years ago, I wrote Blood Ransom, a romantic suspense that focused on human trafficking in Africa. At the time, I had no idea this was an issue in the US, but as I did my research, I was shocked with what I discovered. While human trafficking has gained more exposure over the past few years, many still assume that slavery vanished at the end of the civil war. But unfortunately, the modern day slave trade has become a huge, international moneymaking business to the point that there are now more slaves today then at any point in history.

Statistics very, but there are close to a million women brought into this network and traded as human cargo every year worldwide. Most of these women end up in the sex trade while others become domestic slaves. Smugglers prey on the vulnerable and desperate, and once they are entangled in the system, these woman have no perceivable way out; including the thousands that are trafficked right here within the United States.

When I started writing my new series, Southern Crimes, I decided that theDangerous-Passage-662x1024 backdrop of human trafficking would not only make a suspenseful story, but it would also help people become aware of this very real issue. In Dangerous Passage, a young Vietnamese girl named Malaya, is promised that life will be better for her in America, as she will earn enough money to send home to her family. Instead, she arrives to a nightmare. She and the other girls with her are told that they are now in the US illegally, and that they will be arrested if the authorities find out. She’s told there is nothing she can do. If she runs, they will find her. And when they find her, they will kill her.

While this story is fiction, there are hundreds of women who have lived Malaya’s story. The good news is that between the authorities, non-profit organizations, and ordinary citizens who get involved, these captives can find freedom.

From the back cover of Dangerous Passage: When two Jane Does are killed on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, detective Avery North discovers they share something in common–a tattoo of a magnolia on their shoulders. Suspecting a serial killer, Avery joins forces with medical examiner Jackson Bryant to solve the crimes and prevent another murder. But it doesn’t take long for them to realize that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. As they venture deep into a sinister world of human trafficking, Avery and Jackson are taken to the very edge of their abilities–and their hearts.

Dangerous Passage exposes a fully-realized and frightening world where every layer peeled back reveals more challenges ahead. Romantic suspense fans will be hooked from the start by Lisa Harris’s first installment of the new Southern Crimes series.

About Author:

Lisa Harris is a Christy Award finalist and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has sold over thirty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent over ten years living as missionaries in Africa where she homeschools, leads a women’s group, and runs a non-profit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry.The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for her to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)

When she’s not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari.  For more information about her books and life in Africa, visit her website at or her blog at For more information about The ECHO Project, please visit

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