Category Archives: Special Postings

Ultimate List of the Best Book Review Blogs

Kindlepreneur has created a comprehensive list of book review blogs that gives authors one more piece to their book marketing puzzle.

Their article on the ‘Ultimate List of the Best Book Review Blogs‘ includes a long list of book reviewers and also provides the information author swill need to understand how verified purchase reviews are used on Amazon, ‘the mentality of the buyer’, and different types of blogs before presenting a long list of reviewers broken down into their preferred book genres.

What I found most helpful was their section on ‘How to Get Your Book Reviewed by a Blog’. This section provides a lot of great information that will help authors get the most out of the lengthy list of reviewers that they provide on their site.

Checkout Kindlepreneur and their article on the ‘Ultimate List of the Best Book Review Blogs‘.

And Then You Left (Poetry Video)

For Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day by Gloria D. Gonsalves

Grieving, they say, is the cousin
of loneliness, bonded through
closeness or distant blood.
You left my body the same way.
Slipped away silently, as far kin
of my clan, and yet closer for I
still, feel the knives cutting through
the womb where I had you alive.

Our conversation was one-sided,
but I knew you were listening.
We already had names for you,
representing us, from two cultures.
We manifested you as a girl.
I had begun recalling wisdom
to share with you, our child.
When pain slowed my right leg,
I held hope that we would meet.

That night on my birthday,
I prayed, asking the virgin mother
to take you was the holiest prayer
I have ever offered to the ascended.
The pain was too much to bear
and faith guided me to let you go.
You held on tight, determined to
stay, but the boat carrying you
was sinking to the death realm.
I helped, perhaps more myself than you,
by drinking chamomile tea.
The tea drowsed, and pain floated
like a red amaryllis flower.

My beloved unborn, forgive me
as my waters failed to keep you safe.
It was a long night of life
until I dragged myself to your gravesite;
a bowl of waste and other discharges.
I heard you leave with a ‘plop’ sound,
from waters of life to the waters
of the dead and unwanted remnants.

I still wonder whether you finally rested
in heavenly waters, or you were minced
in the sewer, like a thing, not human.
I keep your existence in this world,
but a mother is not one without proof.
When in the forest, I still hear you
swimming and murmuring in the streams
and that gives me a sea of comfort;
you are still in this life, only parallel to
that which my boat sails saddened.

Love Starts From Home – The Official Book Launch Party

The Official Book Launch Party

July 3, 2021 @ 5:00 PM

Official launch party for the children’s book series Love Starts From Home.

A ticketed event with limited space. Purchase your tickets today!

Purchase Tickets:

Let’s Celebrate The New Books!

  • Author talk and book signing
  • Special Guest speakers
  • Meet The Editor
  • Book reveals
  • Food ( Three course meal ) + Nibbles will be served
  • Entertainment and much more

About The Author

Dr Debbie Obatoki is an author who loves adventure and meeting new people. She is passionate about her career, family and community.

Children’s Book Series – Love Starts From Home

This series was born out of a firm belief that the home is the first and best place to learn how to give and receive love. It was written as a conversation starter. We don’t always have the answer, but as adults we can set the pace for healthier family connections.

Questions? Email



Leo siku ya simanzi
tuzibebe kanga zetu.
Tusambaze kona zake nne
zikawe ngao ya uchungu wetu.
Kanga zetu zibebe faraja
hadharani na faraghani.
Magufuli katutoka
kama jua linalozama.
Tuzibebe kanga zetu
tukasambaze matumaini.

Machozi yatutiririka
kwa kasi ya mto Ruvu.
Tuzibebe kanga zetu
tukadeki nyuso zetu.
Kilio kimetutia kikwi
tujisitiri na kanga zetu.
Waliotangulia tuwaombee
heri iwavushe kwa maulana.
Tuzibebe kanga zetu
kama mkeka wa sala.

Kanga zetu tuzifukize rehema
ili tujawe karama.
Vinyongo na visasi tupepee
vitoweke kwa haya na soni.
Marehemu wetu tuwaenzi
fedheha sio kanga yetu.
Tuilinde amani yetu
kwa umaridadi wa kanga.
Tuyavae maneno mema
kwa madaha ya utanashati.
Tuzibebe kanga zetu
tukamuage baba yetu.

Tamati ya maisha imefika
buriani haitoshi pindo.
Kanga zetu ni vigawanyio
kati ya mauti na maisha.
Sare za kanga zetu
ni shada zenye thamani.
Tutandike kanga zetu
kwenye njia ya mazishi.
Waliolala wanafarijika
kusindikizwa kifahari.
Tuzibebe kanga zetu
safari ya baba imekwisha.



Today is a day of mourning
let us carry our kangas.
Let us spread its four corners
as a shield for our pain.
Our wraps should carry comfort
publicly and privately.
Magufuli has left us
like the setting sun.
Let us carry our kangas
to go spread hope.

Tears are welled up
like the speed of the Ruvu river.
Let us carry our kangas
to mop our faces.
Weeping has hiccupped us
let us shield ourselves with our kangas.
Let us pray for the gone ones
to cross over with blessings.
Let us carry our kangas
like a prayer mat.

Let us fragrance our kangas with mercy
so we may be gifted with deliverance.
Let us wave away bitterness and vengeance
that they depart ashamed and confounded.
Let us honour our late loved ones
for ridicule is not our kanga.
Let us protect our peace
with beauty of the wrap.
Let us wear good words
with pride of elegance.
Let us carry our kangas
to bid farewell to our father.

The end of life has come
farewell does not fit the hem.
Our kangas are a border
between death and life.
Our kangas as uniforms
are valuable wreaths.
Let us lay our kangas
on the road to the funeral.
Those gone are comforted
by this elegant escort.
Let us carry our kangas
our father’s journey is over.

How the heroic Irish won the American Revolution remembered this Patriot’s Day

Phillip Thomas Tucker, Ph.D. @IrishCentral Apr 15, 2019

The role of the Irish in the American Revolution has often been written out.

George Washington Park Custis, Washington’s adopted son and a careful student of history, placed the significant Irish contribution to the American revolution in a proper historical perspective:

“When our friendless standard was first unfurled for resistance, who were strangers [foreigners] that first mustered ‘round its staff when it reeled in the fight, who more bravely sustained it than Erin’s generous sons?  Who led the assault on Quebec [General Montgomery] and shed early luster on our arms, in the dawn of our revolution?  Who led the right wing of Liberty’s forlorn hope [General Sullivan] at the passage of the Delaware [just before the attack on Trenton]?  Who felt the privations of the camp, the fate of battle, or the horrors of the prison ship more keenly than the Irish?  Washington loved them, for they were the companions of his toil, his perils, his glories, in the deliverance of his country.”

Yet, the role of the Irish has often been written out. No chapter of America’s story has been more thoroughly dominated by myths and romance than the nation’s desperate struggle for life during the American Revolution.  Unfortunately, America’s much-celebrated creation story has presented a sanitized version of events.

The long-accepted proper imaginary of the typical American patriot was that of an Anglo-Saxon who descended from early English settlers.  This popular perception became a permanent part of the national mythology, in regard to the people who were seen as having been most responsible for sustaining and winning the revolutionary struggle.

As could be expected, the seemingly endless romantic myths about…





New York Times and CBA bestselling author Tosca Lee has spent the last three weeks offering entertainment, comfort, and encouragement to the public during a nightly “Story Time with Tosca” at 9 Eastern on Facebook live. It started March 20 with a promise to read until shelter-in-place guidelines are no longer necessary… which means she currently has no idea when she’ll stop.

Lee has been reading from her 2014 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year winner, Iscariot—her bestselling novel about the life of the infamous disciple and ministry of Jesus Christ. The perennial Easter season favorite is read annually by some of her fans and was chosen in a vote the day before “Story Time with Tosca” began on March 20. Story Time happens on Tosca’s Facebook author page at and everyone is welcome to check out past installments of Story Time live recordings plus take part in the live episodes.

Lee, the first runner-up to Mrs. United States 1998, jokes that she hasn’t worn makeup this many days in a row since her tenure as Mrs. Nebraska. She says the time has been heart-warming, with readers calling the time their favorite part of the day and a much-needed escape from the news and rigors of quarantine. “It’s been an unexpected blessing for my family in return,” Lee says. “A much-needed marker in days that otherwise feel as though they’re running together.” From days that, by her own admission, are a little extra surreal given how closely the news has mirrored her 2019 bestselling thriller, The Line Between.


An outbreak in Washington… a run on essential supplies… schools closed… quarantined towns… borders shut down.

The Line Between: A Novel by [Tosca Lee]

The spate of recent headlines is also the plotline of Lee’s medical thriller, The Line Between, which released January, 2019 from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster—a year before COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. The book’s sequel, A Single Light (September, 2019, Howard Books/Simon & Schuster) comes to paperback August 17.

Watching the news one year after the release of The Line Between—a Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for best mystery/thriller of 2019—Lee calls life “eerie and surreal.”

“Every now and then my husband and I just look at one another as we listen to the news—including the day the Canadian border shut down,” Lee says, of yet one more event she wrote about two years ago before the books went into print. “It’s a little eerie,” she admits.

Another one of the reasons Lee, herself, finds solace in Story Time with her readers.

The Line Between has been optioned by Radar Pictures (Jumanji) and Ed Burns’ Marlboro Road Gang Productions (Public Morals) and is in development for television as first reported by Deadline Hollywood:

“[An] edge of your seat, heart-palpitating tale.”

Top Shelf Magazine, for A Single Light

Tosca Lee

Lee is the award-winning, New York Times, and CBA bestselling author of 11 novels including The Progeny, Firstborn, Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, and The Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. Her books have been translated into 17 languages and been optioned for TV and film.

Tosca received her B.A. in English from Smith College. A lifelong world adventure traveler, she lives in Nebraska with her husband and three of four children still at home. To learn more about Tosca, please visit

The Monsoon Ghost Image

Tom Vater Author Interview

Laure Siegel Interviews Tom Vater

You’ve lived in Thailand for fifteen years. Your latest novel, The Monsoon Ghost Image, the third and last part of your Detective Maier series, is largely set in Thailand and this is the first time you have chosen the country as a location for a novel. How would you define your relationship with the country and why did you finally decide to write about Thailand?

I love living in Bangkok. It’s the greatest, most liveable city in Southeast Asia. People are super-friendly and you can get anything you can possibly imagine and quite a lot of stuff you probably can’t. And I’ve been traveling around Thailand extensively for years because I’m the co-author of a German language guidebook to the country which is blessed with incredible natural attractions, decent food, good infrastructure…. And then there’s the mad, convulsive politics… so there’s a phenomenal amount of shadow and light there and it took me some time to be able to see between the extremes. I have written plenty of non-fiction about Thai culture, including the best-selling illustrated book Sacred Skin – Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos ( with photographer Aroon Thaewchatturat, but it took me a long while to take a step back to select the issues I wanted to talk about, the kind of things readers in the West can relate to and those that are too far out for anyone to relate to – the ethnic minorities, the mass tourism, the tawdry sex industry and its foreign adherents, the general air of impunity and injustice when powerful forces become involved, but also a straightforward personal singlemindedness when it comes to social justice that many Thais quietly carry with them.

Also, I can’t think of many novels set in Thailand that I really like myself. So much of the fiction about the country written by foreigners is inhabited by the very lack of sophistication its authors ascribe to Thais, which is actually a form of detachment, both from daily horrors and overwrought empathy. It’s hard to explain. When Europeans come to Bangkok for the first time, they often have this impression of a modern, thriving metropolis, cosmopolitan, brash, and money-driven with abject leers in uniforms. And that is surely all there. But then there’s this other side to the city – quiet back alleys smelling of frangipani, perfectly symmetrical lotus plants floating like deep sea oceanic apparitions in bottomless clay pots, quickly passing smiles that drip with promise, laughter so light it floats through the smog straight to heaven, someone being so incorruptible in the face of absolute venality, it might appear frightening to pragmatic western minds.

The background of the novel is the CIA rendition program which went in full force after 9/11 and which used third-parties countries to interrogate and torture people. Thailand was briefly one of those host-countries. Why did you use this theme?

The previous two Detective Maier novels had historic themes. The Cambodian Book of the Dead revolved around the Khmer Rouge genocide, while The Man with the Golden Mind touched on the CIA’s secret war in Laos in the 1960s. With The Monsoon Ghost Image, I wanted to bring the series into the recent past. Rather than have Maier sift through the detritus of long gone cruelties, I wanted him to face something that is relevant today – the war on terror, America’s endless war and the co-option of weaker nations into its realpolitik. I’m not out to blame Thailand. The pressure applied by the US to assist in its barbarism was presumably immense.
I feel that the clearly undemocratic actions of nations who talk about democracy incessantly and who pride themselves on their apparently participatory governance, need to be a much more prominent part of our common narrative if we are to create a future in which it’s worth living. And I am not sure we’re doing anything like that. The renditions were a collective failure, not just of agency people, the military, the politicians, but of everyone who waves this off as a mad minute, including Europeans. I love American arts, their music, their movies, their paintings, but the abuse of the very norms the US cherishes is so commonplace now, it comes with a sheer endless number of historical precedents and is nonetheless so fiercely defended by many Americans, that there needs to be a counter-narrative. Incidentally, most of the information I used came from the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, published in 2012. Read that and weep.

You write many other things, political and cultural journalism, illustrated non-fiction books, guide books to well-known Southeast Asian destinations, but you seem to find solace in fiction. What do you find in fiction and which message do you want to convey?

I think you can get much closer to essential truths with fiction than with what is published in mass media. And the writing process is so solitary, the author is in control, within the limits of her skills, of the message, the characters, the plot, the whole thing. Like a painter, one goes to places by oneself, in one’s head, in one’s memories, alone. That’s always appealed to me.

What are your current projects?

I’ve just co-written a long crime story about sharks in La Reunion. That’s currently being published as a five part serial in Ecoute, a French language magazine for sale in Germany. I’ve also just finished a short story called To Kill an Arab (not a meditation on MAGA fantasies, I’m afraid) which is set in Morocco and which will be out in an anthology in the US later this year.
And I am currently on my way to Nepal for the Mekong Review, an Asia-based literary magazine, to write an essay on the changes I’ve seen there in the past twenty years, especially since the 2015 earthquake, which I had the misfortune to witness.

You are German but write mostly in English. Why? Is this a way to detach yourself from yourself?

I learned English as a teenager, not just in school, but also because my parents spoke English and because I hung out with American GIs as I grew up near a military base in West Germany. When I was 18, I moved to the UK and studied literature. I always liked Joseph Conrad for whom English was a third language. And I loved America’s literary and musical outlaw landscape from Paul Bowles to William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski, from The MC5 and Patti Smith to Captain Beefheart and The Velvet Underground. When I started writing obsessively, I was already in South Asia, where English is a prerequisite….it seemed a natural thing to do. It’s served me well. There’s more interest in Asia in English speaking markets, so I stuck with it.

What is your writing routine and would you recommend it to anyone else? How do you feel about the fact that it’s almost impossible to make money from personal writing?

I used to write a thousand words a day, for a couple of decades. But I write so much journalism now that the fiction and even longer non-fiction projects only come in intermittent bursts. But once I’m on a project, I generally don’t stop until there’s a first draft.
Making money from fiction is a huge challenge. Making money from popular music is a huge challenge. Being a painter might not earn you enough to eat either. I mean, who manages to do that? You can count bankable writers in any given country on one hand. Basically the arts are on their knees, trapped between old, broken, no-risk and elitist Swengalis who no longer function as creative gatekeepers because decisions on the merit of a story are made only with money in mind, and the Internet which has opened the floodgates for millions who write whom no one will ever read. And with Amazon both distributing unfiltered cultural waste and hogging almost all distribution channel, art will continue to die until we find a new mechanism that provides artists with a chance to create and lead a reasonably dignified existence.

In these confusing times, what can genre literature bring to our collectively troubled minds? And is the trade doing the job?

Genre literature either brings comfort or a rude shock. In rare cases perhaps both. Most mainstream crime fiction falls into the comforting kind, from Lee Child (whose single-minded tone I love) to whatever title with ‘The girl…’ in it that is being pushed this week. I don’t know if crime writers like David Goodis, Ross MacDonald or Jim Thompson would be read today. Guys like Massimo Carlotto are not on the bestseller lists.

But I also read that there’s a lot of challenging Sci-Fi out there, driving issues like climate change and gender equality. Incidentally, my favorite novel that features Bangkok is The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigulapi, a brilliant Sci-Fi take on the city being consumed by rising sea levels.

Laure Siegel is a French journalist who has been reporting on popular culture in Europe and Asia for ten years.

Tom Vater has published three crime novels and is the co-owner of Crime Wave Press, a Hong Kong based crime fiction imprint. He writes for The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, CNN, Marie Claire, Penthouse and others, and has published some twenty non-fiction books, including the best-selling Sacred Skin.

Crime Wave Press

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff Author Interview

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff Author Interview

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff Author Interview

DR: How did you come up with Gina S. Miyoko?

MKB: I honestly don’t remember except that she arose from a dream I had, the plot of which (yes, my dreams often have plots) I don’t remember. I knew I wanted to write her as the protagonist of a mystery novel, and I knew I wanted her to be different from the female P.I.s I’d read. I love mystery and crime fiction but I noticed that all the female protagonists were alienated and broken and party to dysfunctional relationships. I wanted Gina to be flawed and have enough pain in her life to be relatable, but I also wanted her to be part of a very functional, if quirky family and support network. Among the Japanese names I was considering, Gina Suzu Miyoko meant ”Silver Bell Temple”; Tinkerbell became an inevitable nickname. And her personality just grew out of that.

DR: And Russian Orthodox witches?

MKB: Around the time I was developing Gina and the characters that would surround her, I was reading a book entitled THE BATHHOUSE AT MIDNIGHT: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia (WF Ryan). I was reading it because the novel I was working on at the time (MAGIC TIME: ANGELFIRE, from Harper-Voyager) had a Russian ex-pat as one of the central characters. Okay, and also I’m Russian-Polish on my father’s side and have been fascinated with the folklore and history of slavic culture since I was a child. Probably more so because my grandmother was so adamant that I not be taught anything about the Old Country but be brought up thoroughly American. In any event, the book sparked the idea that I wanted Gina’s mother to be Russian and fascinated by arcana. She was originally going to be a psychologist, but by the time I started writing the book that became THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER, she had morphed into a cultural anthropologist and folklorist.

As tends to happen with these things, as I began to write the characters, they essentially told me who they were. I’m sure you know the feeling—as if the character is inside your head whispering sweet somethings to your Muse.

DR: Can you talk about Tinkerbell on Walkabout—the novelette that describes how Gina became a detective?

MKB: I wanted to document Gina’s genesis as a PI, but the plot actually came about as a weird synthesis of several real-life moments. I lived in Grass Valley for about 35 years and set it there in part because of an experience I had being a founding member of Nevada County Citizens for Racial Unity, a group that formed after a black man who’d just moved to the area was beaten up by a bunch of white teenagers in a local park. That caused us to consult with the California Highway Patrol about the forces of racism in the area. What our CHP liaison told us about gangs from Colusa and Yuba counties trying to gain a foothold in Nevada County gave me most of the plot elements I wanted for the story. A visit to Charlotte, North Carolina one Christmas occasioned me seeing the mostly scrupulously tidy wrecking yard I have ever laid eyes on and that gave me a key element in Gina solving the crime that lies at the heart of the story.

DR: Did you research PI procedures like the post-it notes and Who/What/When etc?

MKB: I have to laugh. The post-it note method is something I’ve used to plot novels for years. It seemed to me that my post-it process would be as ideal for working out the nuances of a real world mystery as it is for plotting a novel. My editor suggested editing the scene in which you first see Gina use the post-its so that she just wrote on the white board. I declined and explained the beauty of post-its to her by having Gina demonstrate it for the reader.

DR: How did you become interested in the problem of looting of antiquities? Why the Southwest?

MKB: I have loved archaeology for as long as I can remember. I subscribed for years to Archeology magazine, and KMT (Kemet – which is the old Egyptian name for Egypt). I happened to read an article about a female undercover agent for the National Park Service and the sort of work she and her teammates did, chiefly in the Southwest where there are a lot of vulnerable caches of artifacts, mostly on First Nations land. But I’d also been following several international cases at the time—the Elgin Marbles that the British Museum had to return to Greece and the blackmarket cases that big US auction houses and museums alike had been implicated in. I was also following the rediscovery of the Rosalila (an utterly fantastic nested temple at Copán in the Honduras) and some amazing finds at Bonampak, which is in Chiapas, Mexico.

It was that last item that gave me the location for some of the action in the book. I sort of let all of that percolate and it seemed natural to have my protagonist have the experience I’d dreamed of having—seeing those antiquities first hand. More than that, I wanted her to have a hand in saving some of them. The lack of funding for preserving these sites is a real and persistent problem in the world of archaeology.

DR: These days cultural appropriation is a sensitive topic. How did you go about portraying Hispanic, Asian, and Native characters in a respectful manner?

MKB: I suppose every writer has their own approach; mine is to love the people I write about and to recognize that they’re people first, not representatives or symbols or archetypes of a particular culture. But, in writing them, I have to recognize that their cultural framework will condition their responses to things. So, to Rose Delgado, though she’s married to a non-Hopi, living in Sausalito and working all over the country, she’s still Hopi. That means that Hopi lands are still sacred to her and that she takes the theft of native artifacts personally. Her job is more than just a job because of her cultural background and her investment in it is different than the other members of her team.

To me, Gina’s tattoo is exemplary of the cultural intersectionality I’m portraying. It’s a Russian Orthodox True Believer cross with a Buddha seated at the nexus in a lotus blossom. The cross is for her mom, the Buddha for her dad. Gina calls herself a Russian Orthodox Buddhist, which is an echo of what I told people who asked about my religion before I became a Baha’i. I’d say I was a Hindu-Buddhist-Christian. So, what I was trying to capture in Gina was a character who was an intersection of three cultures—Japanese, Russian and American.

I’ve been privileged to have been surrounded by people from diverse cultures all my life and I think that if you approach characters of any culture with curiosity, love and an attitude of learning, you’ll strive to portray them as complete, three-dimensional human beings.

DR: Is there such a thing as SASH (Society for the Appreciation of Sherlock Holmes), and would you join?

MKB: There’s a Sherlock Holmes Society of London, but as far as I know, there’s none in the Bay Area—at least not like the one Gina’s dad, Edmund, is part of. I made it up. Or maybe Edmund did. I would totally join SASH if there was one around. I love Sherlock Holmes—in fact, I have a Sherlock Holmes pastiche idea I’d love to write.

DR: What have you written recently?

MKB: I’ve been doing a lot ghostwrites lately. And they have been diverse and interesting. I just finished up a YA set in Seattle, and am still working on one that also makes use of my deep love of archaeology. Beyond that, my dear agent is shopping a crazy range of novels I tossed at him, including an SF novel with a peculiar genesis that I’d love to see be the first of a trilogy, a YA paranormal/contemporary fantasy featuring a 14 year-old-protagonist who discovers she’s a witch from a long line of witches, a magical realism yarn that is my take on the old Russian fairytale, Frog Princess, and a paranormal romance that I collaborated on with a couple of show runners from LA.

DR: What lies ahead? What lies ahead for Gina Miyoko – are new novels in the works?

MKB: I’ve been working on what I hope will be the next book in the Gina Miyoko series—working title, THE FORGETFUL FOLKLORIST. I’ve got about eight or nine novels sketched out and more ideas popping into my head all the time. I’ve also been outlining a steampunk novel I’d like to write, involving yet more artifacts. (I got the idea from a book cover someone asked me to design, then didn’t want.)

DR: How does The Antiquities Hunter fit into your repertoire of published works?

MKB: It’s a real outlier among outliers. I started out writing science fiction. In fact, I’d published a bunch of stories in Analog before I shifted gears and wrote four epic fantasy novels all based on dreams. Then I discovered magical realism and fell madly in love with it. That caused my writing to take a weird turn that peaked with ”The White Dog” (Interzone). In moving over to crime fiction, I’m really pursuing something that’s fascinated me as a reader for years. I’ve been in love with mysteries and detective fiction forever. So, even though THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER looks like a departure from the outside, from where I sit, I’m just writing what I’ve always read. I also realized, when I looked at the fiction I’ve written, that most of my stories have a mystery embedded at the core—sometimes blatantly, as in ”The Secret Life of Gods” and ”Distance” (Analog), or in a veiled way as in my novels THE SPIRIT GATE (originally from Baen, in reprint from Book View Cafe) and STAR WARS LEGENDS: SHADOW GAMES (Del Rey/Lucas Books).

DR: What authors have most influenced your writing? What about them do you find inspiring?

MKB: My greatest prose heroes are Ray Bradbury, W.P. Kinsella (whom I cast in DISTANCE with his permission), and Tim Powers. These are the writers whose use of language, storytelling chops, and sheer imagination made me hungry to write. Bradbury and Kinsella have written some of the most beautiful and evocative prose in the English language and Powers has given me epiphanies about the many ways reality can collide with the fantastic.

I admire Dean Koontz, JK Rowling and Sue Grafton as well, especially for their character development chops and the uncanny way they connect the reader to their characters from page one. I also have to credit Harry Turtledove (who’s written some of my favorite Analog stories) with making me stray into alternate history, with my novelette ”O, Pioneer” (Paradox) which takes an upside down and backwards look at Christopher Columbus’ ”discovery” of the Americas.

DR: Why do you write what you do, and how does your work differ from others in your genre?

MKB: I write what I do because either a character demands to be written about (Gina Miyoko being a case in point) or an idea demands to be explored. I thrive on exploration. It’s why I love road trips (What’s around that next curve?), research, archaeology (What is that thing I just dug up?), first contact stories, and mysteries of every kind. Writing is exploration I undertake to satisfy my insatiable curiosity about what if.

I’ve been told that I write fantasy with rivets, meaning that my fantasy work tends to take a very pragmatic approach to the fantastic. It works the other way, as well. My Gina Miyoko stories have an undercurrent of the supernatural to them if the reader chooses to read the pragmatic references to obereg (the good luck charms her mom is forever sneaking into her pockets), Holy Water, and spells as being more than just a concession to Nadia Miyoko’s avocation. This means that my fiction often falls through the cracks. When I sent ”The White Dog” to Interzone, the editor wrote back and said essentially, ”I loved it, but where’s the fantasy element?” I responded, ”In the eye of the reader.” He bought the story and it was a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award.

DR: How does your writing process work?

MKB: Mileage varies … a lot. With short fiction, I’ll sometimes scribble a handful of questions that become notes and when I see a beginning and end, I start writing. With novels, I sometimes get out the sticky notes. I had a great little flow chart app I used for a while, but they stopped making it. I use Evernote to toss bits and pieces into, as well. The sticky note brainstorming is still the best method I’ve found of plotting a novel because it allows me to visualize relationships between characters, their motivations and other plot elements.

Once I’ve charted something that way, I write a synopsis that becomes a living document that I can add to as I work. At some point the characters start yakking and doing things and I have to start writing. I used to have to write everything in #2 pencil on lined paper first, then edit as I committed it to the computer. Then I’d do that until roughly the last third of the book when the boulder started rolling downhill. But for some time now, while I still love writing notes long hand, I do all my writing at the keyboard. I’ve only ever had a laptop, because I feel the need to be portable. Sometimes a silent house is the best place to write, and sometimes a noisy coffee shop is best. I’ve also learned to give myself permission to do what I heard one writer refer to as ”moodling”. It looks (and feels) like I’m not doing anything, but my mind is hard at work looking for connections. And when enough connections are made between elements and characters, the writing happens.

Whenever I sit down to write, I always read back what I did previously. I tried Hemingway’s stopping in mid sentence and it only led to frustration.

DR: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

MKB: First, write without editing. Ray Bradbury famously said of writing, ”Don’t think.” He advised hiding your editor hat and just getting the bones of a story or a scene down without worrying about whether you found the right word. THEN, put on your editor hat and edit. This can make the difference between a story ending up attached to an email on its way to an editor’s inbox or ending up in an obscure file folder.

Second, learn your tools—words. Know what they mean, what they imply, how they taste, how they sound. Read your prose out loud before you submit it. Here, I find Mark Twain’s advice sage: ”Use the right word, not its second cousin.”

Third, be flexible. The method you used to write one story may not work for the next one. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or that your process is broken. It just means it’s different this time. This was a hard-learned lesson for me. It took reading Lawrence Block’s learning experience with regard to flexibility (in one of this Writer’s Digest columns), to understand that I wasn’t losing ”it”; ”it” had just morphed a bit.

I’ve learned a lot from the experiences of other writers and from their prose. One of the most valuable learning experiences for me is to read other writers’ prose with an awareness of my own responses to it and analyze why it makes me feel how I feel. Then I try to apply that in my own work.

Oh, and when you’ve written that story and read it out loud, making sure that (as Twain said) you’ve used the right word, not its second cousin, send it to the magazine or agent or publisher you really want to see it with, not something less. When I sent my first story to Stan Schmidt at Analog, the wisdom in all the writing magazines I’d read was that I should send it to a small non-pro market first and work my way up. And I should send something short that stood a better chance of being accepted. I went against that advice and sent a 19,500 word novella to my favorite magazine and got accepted.

Short form: Always shoot for the moon.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

This interview was provided by

Gina “Tinkerbell” Miyoko is not your typical private eye. Armed with a baby blue Magnum, a Harley blessed with Holy Water by her dramatically disposed mother, and a Japanese mingei tucked in her pocket (a good luck charm from her Sherlock Holmes-obsessed father) Tink spends her time sniffing out delinquent dads in the San Francisco Bay area and honing her detective skills.  

But when her best friend Rose, an undercover agent, discovers there’s a stalker on her tail, she hires Tink as a bodyguard. Someone must be trying to intimidate Rose and scare her out of testifying in an upcoming case on looted Anasazi artifacts.  But when Tink tries to flush-out the stalker, things take a far more dangerous turn.

Now, with a dead black-market dealer and an injured Rose on her hands, Tink must take her best friend’s place and follow the looters’ trail towards a powerful and lucrative antiquities collector in Cancun, Mexico. Equipped with an ingenious disguise and a teasingly coy persona to match, Tink is determined to find out who is behind the attack on Rose and the illegal trafficking of these priceless artifacts. Along the way, she will find help in the most unlikely of partners…

Deep in the jungle and far from civilization, Tink must decide who she can trust as she tries to unearth the ones responsible behind the pilfering and bloodshed―and still make it out alive. 

Buy Now From

%d bloggers like this: