Blog Archives

Nothing to See Here

Nothing to See Here is about Maxi, a middle-aged man who has returned home to Ireland after living in America for 25 years. He is currently going through some financial troubles as his business failed, and now he has to re-group and take care of his elderly mother. When he returns home, he reconnects with friends Jasper and Ella and finds a map to treasure in their home, leading Maxi, Ella, and her friends Ida and Debbie to go on a treasure hunt. They hope to change their lives with the riches they go in search of.

Author Brendan Walsh provides readers with a story plot that is both refreshing and entertaining. Keeping the reader on their toes with plot twists makes this an unpredictable read that is sure to take the reader on a wild ride. Unfortunately, as the story progressed, the characters began to get tunnel vision due to being so focused on the treasure creating one messy adventure.

I found the characters to be funny and relatable, and I wanted to read more about them. The author paints a vivid picture with his richly detailed descriptions, making it easy for the reader to imagine the scenes. The use of dramatic irony built the tension in the story because there were times when the characters in the story did something that would be futile to them reaching their goal, and I, as a reader, wouldn’t be able to warn them. This shows Walsh has excellent writing skills to build up so much tension in the reader for fictional characters. I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed and ended too quickly.

Nothing to See Here is a page-turning comedy novel filled with action. This treasure hunt story will appeal to those who are looking for a fun-filled adventure with lots of hijinks.

Pages: 322 | ASIN : B0B2FD2XCS

Buy Now From Amazon

The Story Took Off From There

Jeff O’Handley Author Interview

Powerless follows a man that must adapt to a post-apocalyptic world and keep his family alive and safe as resources become scarce. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The first glimmer of an idea for Powerless struck when I was driving through a hurricane to pick up my daughter at her friend’s house. The road crossed a small stream, and as I saw the water boiling through the culvert beneath the road, an image flashed in my head of the road flooded and impassable. I thought, “What if I couldn’t pick up my daughter?” This thought was followed by two in rapid succession that will be familiar to anyone who writes. The first was, “Oh, that would be horrible!” The second was, “Oh, that would make a great story!”

So, for a while, the broad idea was ‘Man moves heaven and earth to get his daughter back amidst a great natural disaster.’ That interested me, but it didn’t thrill me–it just looked like some sort of generic action movie in my head. One day I was mulling it over yet again, and I was thinking about this family that was one kid short in a crisis and picturing husband and wife at the dinner table with an empty chair where their daughter would be. And I sort of idly wondered, “What’s it like in the other house? The one with the extra kid?” That was my “Ah, ha!” moment, and the story took off from there.

Kevin must learn to adapt to a new way of life that he was unprepared for. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Kevin is a nice guy, and while he certainly hasn’t finished last in life, he definitely gets walked on and over a bit. I was interested in exploring what would push him to finally say “no”, what situation and circumstance would help him find the power within to stand up for himself, and to stand up for what is right.

He’s also someone who is rather optimistic by nature, as well as resourceful and forward-thinking.
As the situation in Powerless unfolds he proves to be surprisingly good at doing things that he’s never done before. But his optimism and basic faith in others leads to some blind spots where he is unable to see some of the threats to his family lie.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The biggest theme in Powerless is family, and how we define it. While the antagonist in the story is Eli Sobchuck, the real conflict is ultimately between Kevin and his wife, Monica, and it’s over how to define family. Kevin wants to draw the family circle as wide as possible to include not only his daughter’s friend, who has been stranded at their home during this event, but also neighbors and the people of the town. He sees the wider community as part of his responsibility. Monica, meanwhile, is trying to keep that circle as tight as possible, is trying to protect herself and the people closest to her. This resulting conflict is not only with her husband, but with herself.

The book also looks at the dynamics between people with power and those without, and the use of power for personal gain versus community good.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have a completed manuscript of what I think of as ‘economic fiction’ about a woman who finds herself trying to work off debt in a compulsory, government sponsored volunteer program. It’s pretty much good to go but it doesn’t yet have a home. I’m hoping to rectify that. I’m also in the early stages of a project that is too new to really talk about right now. It has some characters and some situations that are interesting, but I haven’t quite found the story just yet and I’m sort of trying to write my way into it.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | GoodReads

Sunspots, Al-Qaeda, North Korea—no one knows why the power goes out in sleepy little Harpursville, how much of the world is affected, or how long it will last. In one instant virtually every modern convenience stops working, leaving the townspeople scrambling.

For Kevin Barton, the problem is compounded by the presence of his sixteen-year-old daughter’s best friend, Dina, who’s been stranded at the house after yet another sleepover. When Kevin’s attempt to escort Dina home ends in robbery and humiliation, their “second daughter’s” overnight visit becomes a permanent stay. Kevin doesn’t really mind. Dina helps with everything from hauling water to digging a garden, and she does it with a smile. But with food scarce and hunger eating away at reason, her large appetite and constant presence sets the household on edge, causing a rift between Kevin and his wife, Monica.

Help is offered by the man who stops Harpursville from sliding into everyone-for-themselves chaos but then he gives Kevin an unthinkable ultimatum. With the peace of the town and Kevin’s own family hanging in the balance, he faces a two-front war. Can Kevin find the power in himself to protect everything he holds dear?

Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel

Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel, written by Sophia Alexander, is the second book in her Silk Trilogy series. However, this book stands on its own and will captivate readers from the opening pages.

Gaynelle and Vivian are two sisters being raised by their stepmom, Jessie. They live on a family farm in rural South Carolina, sheltered from most of modern society. There is fear of men being drafted into fighting in World War I and the Spanish flu taking loved ones away. Vivian is often sick, and Jessie thrives on doting on her as if she were her own blood. Meanwhile, Jessie hates everything about Gaynelle. In her eyes, Gaynelle embodies everything from her husband’s first wife that she hated.

When Vivian is sent away to recover from her mysterious illness, Gaynelle struggles at home alone. Gaynelle wants to make friends and doesn’t understand why she can not be friends with the Black family next door. She falls in love with a summer farmhand working with her father only to end up pregnant, turning her already dysfunctional family even more on end.

This astonishing novel grabs readers in the first chapter and takes them on a journey that makes it impossible to put the book down. The characters are well developed. Even the minor characters stand out for their parts in this novel. The characters are my favorite part of this novel. Jessie, the evil stepmom, is crazy and will do anything to achieve the dream she has imagined in her head. As the story progresses, her nefarious personality comes out slowly, but the actual depth of her devious plot unfolds shockingly.

Gaynelle is an innocent character many can relate to, wanting the fairytale love. Believing her true love could rescue her from her situation if only he knew what was happening. She is a sweet character that readers will want to see bloom into a strong woman. Her older sister Vivian takes her under her wing when she moves into the town. Vivian thrives in town, picking up the latest in fashion and politics. The emergence of women’s rights plays a vital part in Vivan’s personality.

This engaging novel takes readers into the mind of two young women coming of age in the 1920s and realizing they have more potential than just being farmwives. It also takes readers into the twisted mind of a woman that will stop at nothing to take what she believes she is owed in life. The multiple viewpoints in the narration allow readers to get to know the characters through their own minds and those around them.

Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel is a dramatic coming of age and family saga novel exploring the 1920’s women rights movement through the eyes of two young women and the romance of unrequited love. This novel will entertain readers with captivating dialog and the mystery of what other secrets this family hold.

Pages: 226 | ASIN : B095DYHDDJ

Buy Now From Amazon

The Story Is My Story

John Lockton Author Interview

Odyssey’s Child follows a teen who struggles with finding a purpose to live after his mom dies and an old sailor helps him learn about himself and life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Ethan struggles with finding a reason to live at the start and grows into a stronger person by the end. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The story is my story. My mother died tragically when I was eleven as in the book, died differently than in the book, though like the book I blamed myself for her death. An uncle with a small boat in the Caribbean took pity on me. The book is the story of the two month, 1,500 mile voyage, for me a voyage of recovery from trauma and of finding myself and my future, just as for Ethan in the book. On the boast were three people as in the book, my uncle, Johnson, a wonderful black sailor, and Oliver in real life, and me. All the incidents in the Caribbean occurred as written. In writing about Ethan I was influenced by The Alchemist, a young man who journeys far as a seeker only to find what he is seeking within himself. I tried to repeat the theme of overcoming tremendous adversity, growing strength and wisdom in the fight, and in the end uplifting the reader to a renewed appreciation of the joy of being alive.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I am a great fan of Life of Pi and decided to take my Caribbean voyage as a thirteen year old and turn it as far as possible into a Life of Pi in the Caribbean. For that I needed the equivalent of a tiger on board and George was created. And why would George, a rich and socially prominent man, stay two months on a boat with a boy he didn’t know? He had to fall sexually in love with him. Then to add tension, a struggle between two men for the soul of the boy, I enlisted Johson as the boy’s protector and Geoge’s rival. Finally I locked the three on board through love and hate in a way that none could escape the voyage, as locked together as the boy with the tiger in the middle of the Pacific. This stage set I watched to see what would happen. The book almost dictated itself.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book, the second of a planned series of three, is The Child of Lot, a murder mystery. Set in the California eugenics movement, carrying the eugenics to its grotesque consequences in Germany, then following lingering tentacles of eugenics wrapping around a New England prep school. A boy, Ethan at an older age, must survive merciless bullying at the school, find out why a man dies trying to ride a horse that couldn’t be ridden, and then survive those trying to kill him to prevent him revealing the murder. The book is an education on eugenics and it’s horrors, an inside look at a very real repressive New England pre school, and a salute to determined courage and the power of love.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

For fans of Life of Pi and The Alchemist, an unforgettable, spellbinding literary epic, brimming with excitement and magic that will have you laughing and crying in the joy of being alive that is the Caribbean.

When Ethan Carpenter fails to get help for his mother as she lays dying he is blamed for her death, cast out by a father who hates him, and finds himself adducted to a small sailboat in the Caribbean. The man who holds him descends to the darkest of evil with the boy his prey, as dangerous to Ethan as the tiger in Life of Pi. Like Pi, Ethan must find a way to avoid the man and his evil on an extended voyage, a two month, 1,500 mile sail the length of the Caribbean. But unlike Pi he must fight a second tiger within. Selfblame for his mother’s death has taken him so far into himself that the real world seems an illusion, suicide the only answer. As the evil increases he is pushed toward becoming part of the very evil he is fighting. Can he overcome the man while finding a way out of the darkness that is his life? The boy’s odds dim as the voyage becomes a frightening odyssey with the killer ocean storms, predators of the deep, and fantastical and deadly characters on shore as Homer told it of old.

The boy’s only hope is a black sailor who befriends him and tries to protect him. A knock-down physical and psychological battle rages between the two men with the heart and soul of the boy the prize and murder at play. Even in the violence the sailor’s wisdom and humanity shine through, taking the story to an exploration of life’s deeper meaning. And like The Alchemist, the sailor leads the boy through a series of events, each with a life lesson, in a personal journey toward finding himself and his future, a narrative of inspiration and self-realization. Lush, evocative, and totally human the story reminds one that life is worth living and the search for one’s self is the most important search of all.

We All Have Our Own Stories

Greta Harvey Author Interview

Waiting in Wattlevale follows a divorced mom as she starts a new job in an elderly home, and learns about friendship and relationships from the residents. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

A few years ago, I helped my mother through the life changes and decisions for her future care. Feeling her confusion and uncertainly was heartbreaking.

Peony starts off the novel as an unsure woman rebuilding her life and grows throughout the story. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The inner strength is in us all to change and grow.

Was there anything from your own life that you put into the characters in your novel?

Compassion, empathy and the observations of other’s lives. We all have our own stories.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My fourth book is Gidgee Harbour, which takes place in South Australia and about a dying little shopping centre. The business owners try everything possible to find a way to save it and their livelihood. A feel good tale with lots of humour in it. It’s at the publishers and out any day now. All my stories are set in Australia and with lovable true-blue characters and our quaint Aussie humour.

  • Repent at Leisure, in Queensland a suspense tale in a rural setting.
  • F n B’s House sitters is also in Queensland. It’s a story of two women setting up a house sitting business with all their odd situations and clients that they have to deal with.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook

Quirky characters abound in Wattlevale, home for the elderly in rural Australia, workplace for the caring and ambitious. While some residents are waiting for the end, others find lost love, laughter and larrikinism from some true-blue old bushies. In one year, there’s plenty of entertainment and humour. Visiting children find their way into the hearts of many, collecting pearls of wisdom along the way.
A feel-good tale, from joy to heartbreak, with enduring characters and inspiring life stories. Another gem of a story from Greta Harvey.

The Next Challenge Is Right Now

Author Interview Chris K. Jones

Headcase Book 1: Shock & Denial follows an elite sports psychologist whose gambling addiction entangles him with a dangerous crime boss. What was the inspiration for your story?

I’ve always been an avid sports fan and was once a competitive athlete. I competed in Judo for twenty years until my 40s and played and coached soccer. I am in my 50s now, so I mainly compete against myself by setting endurance goals to keep up my fitness. What I always loved about athletics wasn’t just the physical part but the psychological side.

I wasn’t the fastest, the strongest, or the biggest Judoka, but years of meditation and mindfulness practices from my Buddist teachers helped me stay calm when I stepped on the mat. I got really good at seeing tells in my opponents when they were nervous. I also used my meditation practice to put myself into a “flow” state. This heightened awareness helped me capitalize on my opponent’s mistakes and find my “perfect throw.” I  was so focused and acting rather than thinking that I didn’t realize what technique I was using. I had to look at the video to see what throw I used to win the match. On the other hand, it was often a mental mistake rather than a physical one when I lost. I wasn’t mentally ready, or I got distracted, or I was thinking rather than acting.

I’ve always had a fascination with failure in athletics. How do elite athletes recover from an epic failure when their fame, fortune, and complete sense of being are on the line? They seek a sports phycologist to help them work through their issues and get back to performing. But as a writer, my favorite question is “what if?” So…what if the sports phycologist had more emotional issues than the athletes he treats? From that thought, Dr. Andrew Beck was conceived.

Dr. Beck appears to have it all together, but readers soon find out about his traumatic past. What inspired your character’s development?

It was interesting that Dr. Andrew Beck could diagnose and treat athletes with significant emotional issues yet be blind to or compartmentalize his issues. As Andrew’s issues emerge, we see the wreckage he creates in his life every time he tries to cover up his mistakes or fails to deal with the issues from his traumatic childhood. He always thinks he is the smartest guy in the room, until he meets Fergus. His hubris gets him in big trouble.

What were some important themes for you to explore in this book?

The overall theme of Headcase is if you don’t discover your demons, they will destroy you. And it doesn’t matter if you are a rich and famous athlete; your demons will emerge and wreck your life.

I’m constantly appalled at the lack of empathy for pro athletes who are courageous enough to go public about their mental health issues. During my research, I came across a study that showed that pro basketball players experience the same anxiety levels as men and women on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lack of care for their well-being from some fans and teams really disturbs me. Many athletes had horrific childhoods and came from low-income families, and now that they have resources, the pressure to keep “earning” so they can take care of their families is extreme. The average pro athlete’s career is four years or less. So you need to earn a lifetime of income in just a few years. So part of my objective with Headcase, besides writing an entertaining novel, was to expose the dark side of sports and show readers that athletes have real issues too, just like you and me. Wealth can solve some problems, but deep emotional scars and traumas need therapy and support, not the “rub some dirt on it and toughen up” approach of people who have never competed at an elite level.

What is the next book about, and when will it be available?

I’m working on the second book in the Headcase series as we speak. I’ve finished the outline, and I’m ready to write scenes. I learned a lot of valuable lessons about my writing process while writing my first book in Barbados. That was a wonderful experience. It was inspiring to peer over my laptop to look at the turquoise sea 50 feet away from my desk. Every once in a while, a turtle would pop its head up to breathe the salty, cool breeze. Now, I’m back in Tarrytown, New York, and my view from my window is the mighty Hudson River which is also inspiring. Being around water centers me and helps me find my creative flow state.

I’ve received such wonderful and supportive notes from my readers asking me when Book 2 will be ready. I’ve also received a 5-star review and Golden Book Award from Literary Titan, so I’m feeling a little pressure to finish my next book and make it better. But I like the challenge! I’ve developed good habits from a lifetime of athletics and a career as a serial entrepreneur. I love to set goals and push myself to achieve them. I kept myself accountable by keeping a timesheet. It took me 714.5 hours to write Book 1. For Book 2, I hope to learn from my mistakes and finish Book 2 by the fall of this year. Winning the Golden Book Award from Literary Titan has been a wonderful experience and boosted my confidence. However, even when you win the big game, you still have to go to practice tomorrow. Celebrate and enjoy your victory, and then get back to work. The next challenge is right now.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Dr. Andrew Beck is the go-to sports psychologist for troubled pro athletes. There isn’t a head he can’t fix—except his own.

Whether it’s a violent hockey pro, reckless power forward, or drug-addicted major league pitcher, Andrew’s therapeutic strategies get players out of their heads and back to their winning ways. His status, wealth, and privilege afford him box seats for every game, flying private, an office overlooking Central Park, sports cars, country clubs and a Greenwich mansion. Andrew and his brilliant PR executive wife, Sandra, enjoy a life most would envy.

But Andrew has demons of his own.

A former golf prodigy and the son of a Masters Golf Champion, he knows firsthand the stress of topflight competition. Ted Beck taught Andrew everything he knows about being the best, but his father’s emotional and physical abuse pushed him past a breaking point. At 18, as the country’s top amateur, he walked away from golf to pursue psychology. The father and son bond was destroyed.

But while Beck quit the game long ago, the game won’t quit him.

Years later, the drive to win at all costs still burns deep in his soul. He gets entangled in the world of illegal high-stakes gambling—and a dangerous relationship with Fergus Mackenzie, a ruthless operator of an underground club that caters to the vices of the ultra-wealthy.

Andrew uses his insider access to athletes in a wager which leads down a path of blackmail, a mysterious murder, and life-or-death bluffing.

With his livelihood, marriage, and life on the line, Andrew finds himself playing the ultimate mind game and risks losing everything.

And now the only way out is ALL-IN.

Odyssey’s Child 

Author John Lockton’s Odyssey’s Child is a voyage of youthful hope and potential in the face of emerging secrets. After witnessing his mother’s death, thirteen-year-old Ethan lives with his abusive father until George van Rosenthal, an influential well-wisher who makes a point of befriending and protecting young boys, invites him on a Caribbean cruise. Under the influence of George and his hired mate Johnson, a wise and well-read sailor who knows the sea and islands well, Ethan begins to emerge from his shell. Still, as George’s prejudices and repressed feelings start to rise to the surface, Johnson must maintain constant vigilance to protect Ethan.

The plot of Odyssey’s Child engages readers with some severe and disturbing topics such as racism, suicide, and pedophilia. Still, the author handles these topics well and at an excellent pace that develops alongside the characters. Lockton’s prose colorfully evokes the Caribbean to create nostalgia for life many will have never lived, but this is ultimately secondary to the excellent characters that drive the novel.

Of the three principal characters, Ethan’s development is indeed a swell of hope as he adapts to his new environment. Yet, at the same time, George is juxtaposed with this as a descent into darkness. Johnson’s character is well established and stable throughout but severely tested as he begins to see George as who he really is, and this tension becomes the key focus of the novel more than the cruise itself.

Ethan, George, and Johnson are forced to struggle with their identities in an odyssey that transcends their physical voyage. Ethan struggles to overcome his past and battles the darkness that ranges inside him from his mother’s death. With the help of Johnson, Ethan learns valuable life lessons and starts to see himself as someone that has worth and a future.

Odyssey’s Child is an emotionally charged coming-of-age novel. Readers will see some of the dark sides of humanity, but through it, they will also see the good that can be found when you look.

Pages: 355 | ASIN : B09PWWDW86

Buy Now From Amazon

Learning To Balance Darkness And Light

Author Interview Patricia Leavy

Shooting Stars follows an author that meets the love of her life and realizes she must face the trauma of her past before they can live happily ever after. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

There’s an expression “hurt people hurt people.” Sometimes that isn’t true. Sometimes people in great pain are able to love others in extraordinary ways, and they only hurt themselves. That’s what I wanted to explore. I wanted to look at how people with both visible and invisible wounds can love each other unconditionally, and how in turn, that may help them heal.

Tess starts off confident but it is a facade, as that shell breaks away she transforms into a stronger person. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Tess is my favorite protagonist from any of my novels. In many ways, she’s an aspirational character. She’s enormously talented and successful, which has afforded her an enviable life on the surface. She’s also deeply kind—she sees the humanity in each person and treats others with grace. Despite all she has going for her, she’s haunted by trauma survived in her childhood, and for a long time she struggles to find any genuine happiness. While the details may differ and be more traumatic in Tess’s case, I think many of us carry deep wounds. So often people see our highlight reel on social media and may have a false sense of our lives, when in fact we may be struggling. So as I developed Tess, I wanted to peel back the layers, from what we see on the surface, to what she’s really dealing with on the inside.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

For me, this is a story about learning to balance darkness and light in our lives. It’s also about the healing power of love in all forms—romance, friendship, love of art, and love of community.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I fell so completely in love with Tess, Jack, and all their friends that after writing Shooting Stars I wrote 5 more novels based on these characters, for 6 in total. Each novel takes place about a year later—so it follows the characters for about 7 years. Each novel has its own story and theme; however, the collection as a whole also has an overarching narrative. It’s an epic love story about balancing darkness and light so that we may ultimately live in full color. There’s romance, laughter, tears, and some unexpected twists and turns. The title is Celestial Bodies: The Tess Lee and Jack Miller Novels and it comes out June 1. I’m so proud of it. Truly, of all my work it’s what I love and revisit the most. Reading it is a bit like being wrapped in a big hug. Here’s the amazon link:

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Tess Lee is a novelist. Her inspirational books explore people’s innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite her extraordinary success, she’s been unable to find personal happiness. Jack Miller is a federal agent. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. He’s dedicated everything to his job, leaving nothing for himself. The night Tess and Jack meet, their connection is palpable. She examines the scars on his body and says, “I’ve never seen anyone whose outsides match my insides.” The two embark on an epic love story that asks the questions: What happens when people truly see each other? Can unconditional love change the way we see ourselves? Their friends are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who mysteriously calls her Butterfly; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; and Bobby, Jack’s younger friend who never fails to lighten the mood. Shooting Stars is a novel about walking through our past traumas, moving from darkness to light, and the ways in which love – from lovers, friends, or the art we experience – heals us. Written as unfolding action, Shooting Stars is a poignant novel that moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy. It can be read entirely for pleasure, selected for book clubs, or used as supplemental reading in a variety of courses in communication, psychology, social work, sociology, or women’s studies/gender studies.
%d bloggers like this: