Friday, June 30, 2017


Tom Fugate is a 1978 graduate of Virginia Tech.  Born in the baby boom (1956) he still lives in his hometown of Hiltons, Virginia.   He has worked in radio, television news, the printing industry and in computer support.  Port in a Desert Storm is the fourth book in the memoirs of Lee Thomas.  Mr. Fugate has never worked for any government agency, but he did grow up reading a lot of spy novels.



Author: Tom Fugate
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 304
Genre: Espionage/Thriller

July of 1990. The world is once again a dangerous place. The powder keg that is the middle east is once again ready to explode. The small oil rich country of Kuwait has been invaded by the forces of the Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq. The world is on the brink of war as a coalition is formed and preparations are made. Lee Thomas is once again right in the middle of the situation even before it starts. Sometimes your dreams can turn out to be nightmares, or even worse they can turn out to be reality. From Washington, DC to MI6 Headquarters in London England and then to the hotbed of the Middle East Lee is once again a witness and participant to history.


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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

I guess that the thought of creating something that other people would enjoy inspired me.  I had been telling stories and making stuff up since I learned to talk.  It was probably Ian Fleming and Robert Heinlein who inspired me most to write.  They both wrote some of the first non-children’s books that I remember reading.  James Bond and Space opera.  I guess that is a weird combination 

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think that the day I found out that people got paid for telling stories.  I was probably about 10.  I started my first book in high school.   It was bad. 

Do you have a day job?  What do you do?

I have been doing computer programming and support for well over 20 years and still do that.  Now most of the work like that is for individuals rather than companies.  Maybe I am a semi-retired computer support person.

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

1.      Sit down and write.
2.      Get feedback.
3.      (probably most important) don’t try to write like someone else. If you don’t like it no one else will so be yourself. You will figure out your own voice.

What hours do you write best?

Some of my best material has been written very late at night (or early in the morning depending on your point of view).  I write best when I want to write. There are things that I have written at various times of day that I really think are good.

How often do you write?

This is one of those that I guess we all have been asked.  With me I am always working on things.  I am creating and tweaking things in my head constantly.  People tell me stories that trigger something that will end up in something.  I probably create and edit constantly but I am not always doing the physical act of writing.

Are you an avid reader?

Yes.  I probably got that from my father.  He would read anything that was handy.  My mom reads a lot but she is more selective than dad was.  I prefer espionage/thrillers (imagine that), mysteries, some fantasy, occasionally horror and lots of science fiction

What are you reading now?

As of today I am reading “Trigger Mortis” which is a James Bond novel that takes place just after the events of Goldfinger.  It is written by Anthony Horowitz and contains material that was written by Fleming. I am also reading “The Last Colony” by John Scalzi.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on the fifth of the Spy Dreams Series.  This one is titled “unFriendly Persuasion”.  In this book, Lee is now running the agency.  The story kicks off with a shootout in a Wal-Mart.  There is at least one more of that series kicking around my head.  I am also going to write a novel featuring Sylvia Pyne,  She was introduced to my readers in “Cigarettes for Two” and came back in a big way in “Port in a Desert Storm”. There is also a story percolating around my brain about Lee’s boss and some of his exploits working for the OSS in WWII.

There is also a mystery in the works that is entirely stand alone.  It began one day when my mother asked me to bring her some cinnamon, yeast, bug spray and nail polish remover.  My mind works in mysterious ways.

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Irene Woodbury’s third novel, Pop-Out Girl (2017), pushes a lot of buttons. It’s a gripping look at the tumultuous life of a 23-year-old showgirl-wannabe named Jen Conover who pops out of cakes at special events in Las Vegas for a living. The novel offers riveting glimpses into the loves, lives, triumphs, and tragedies of Jen’s family and friends as well.

Irene grew up in Pittsburgh, and has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Denver. The University of Houston 1993 graduate also called Texas home for seven years. Her writing career began In 2000. After five years as a successful travel writer, she switched to fiction. Irene’s first novel, the humorous A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis, was published in 2011. The darkly dramatic A Dead End in Vegas followed in 2014. Pop-Out Girl is another dramatic effort. With her husband, Richard, editing, Irene completed the novel in eighteen months. She hopes audiences will enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it. 



Author: Irene Woodbury
Publisher: SynergEbooks
Pages: 188
Genre: Commercial Fiction

When Zane Hollister returns home to Las Vegas after two years in prison and discovers his showgirl-lover is with another guy, he goes ballistic. After stalking and taunting the couple for months, his toxic jealousy takes a darker turn. To wipe out Colton, Zane masterminds a devilish zip line accident and a terrifying car crash. When those fail, he resorts to kidnapping Jen and forcing her to marry him. And it gets even worse when Zane shoots Colton’s boss, Matt, by mistake as he aims for Colton in a horrific drive-by shooting.
With Matt lingering in a coma, Jen’s cocktail-waitress mother, Brandi, absorbs a seismic shock of her own. After hearing Matt’s name on the local news, she realizes he’s her first love of decades past—and Jen’s real father.
Will Matt emerge from his coma to reunite with Brandi and Jen? Do the cops nab Zane, who’s hiding out in Hawaii? And can Jen and Colton’s love survive Zane’s lethal jealousy?
There’s a happy ending for some, but not for all, in Pop-Out Girl.


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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

Being around the family bookshelves as a child inspired me. I would pull encyclopedias off the shelves and sit on the floor looking through them. My mother taught me to read at age five and I was off. Reading eventually led to writing, I think.

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing poetry at age nine or ten. Maybe at that point I thought I would be a writer.

Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?

If I’m working on a novel and something I need for a chapter or scene comes to me during a movie or while I’m reading, I will jot some things down. 

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

At age nine or ten, I started with poetry. That went on for years. As a teenager, I wrote a journal for two years. It was on eight-by-eleven paper and I ended up with 750 handwritten pages. I think that really turned me into a writer because the journal became a refuge, a place of comfort and safety. That’s very seductive and trains you to want to write.

Do you have a day job?  What do you do?

No day job.

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

Don’t double-write your leads. Check the second graph of your chapter or story and see if that’s really your lead and then delete the first graph.

In revising your book or story, change the order you read in to gain a fresh perspective. With a book, read the last chapter first and move to the front of the book. This enables you to find mistakes and see things you couldn’t see before.

If you have an idea for a book or story, but don’t know how it ends, start writing and figure it out later. Just get something on paper to work with and the details will come to you at some point.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

If I’m tired or not feeling well, yes. You have days when you’re not as productive, but it’s all part of the process. Tomorrow will be better.

What hours do you write best?

Mornings, from 8 to 11.

How often do you write?

Every day, unless I’m on vacation. But even then, there are always social media or marketing things that have to be done.

Are you an avid reader?

Yes. I love books, magazines, and newspapers.

What are you reading now?

Slipstream, an autobiography of a British writer named Elizabeth Jane Howard. I love it.

What are you currently working on?

I’m marketing my new novel, Pop-Out Girl. I look forward to starting another novel in six months to a year. Maybe something humorous, or a sequel to Pop-Out. We’ll see.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Chat with Darden North, Author of 'The Five Manners of Death'

Darden North’s mystery and thriller novels have been awarded nationally, most notably an IPPY in Southern Fiction for Points of Origin.  His newest thriller, The Five Manners of Death, also follows Wiggle Room, Fresh Frozen, and House Call. Darden North has served on author panels at writing conferences including Killer Nashville, Murder on the Menu, SIBA Thriller Author Panel, and Murder in the Magic City. To book Darden for a book club, book signing, or presentation contact: A board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist practicing at Jackson Healthcare for Women in Flowood, Mississippi, Darden North is Chairman of the Board of the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Mississippi Medical Association. He lives in Jackson with his wife Sally and enjoys family, travel, and, outdoor activities. The Norths have two adult children, who also work in the medical field. Author website:
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about The Five Manners of Death, and what compelled you to write it.
Darden North: I was intrigued about a medical examiner’s classification of the five manners of death and how those classifications can become blurred. That’s what we fiction authors do … blur the truth, take things to the extreme and make life more interesting. What would a surgeon think if bodies began to collect around her to satisfy the five manners of death? 
M.C.: What is your book about?
D.N: In The Five Manners of Death, there are five ways to die. Surgeon Diana Bratton believes that homicide is the only way left … then the police prove her wrong. Diana learns that murder is her family secret.
M.C.:  What themes do you explore in The Five Manners of Death?
D.N.:  Family loyalty trumps truth every time. The thriller weaves characters through the five manners of death: suicide, accident, natural causes, and undetermined until it’s clear that homicide—that a 50-year-old murder—threatens to destroy a family.
M.C.:  Why do you write?
D.N.:  This may sound a little deviant, but there is real satisfaction in twisting the lives of my characters and throwing them into all kinds of trouble. I enjoy interjecting the element of shock into my murder mysteries and thrillers, surprising readers with what characters say or where they wind up. I feel a calling to write novels that portray the contemporary South for what it truly is … progressive and beautiful. 
M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?
D.N.:   Sometimes my creativity surprises me. It may spring out of a causal conversation with a friend, or even a stranger. I don’t have the luxury to write on a certain time schedule.
M.C.:  How picky are you with language?
D.N:   I try to avoid repetitive expressions as well as prevent the overuse of certain words. That can be a challenge for any author.
M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
D.N.:  Gosh, how easy would that make this thing?
M.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?
D.N.:  When the manuscript is finished (and you want the novel to be really, really finished) and it’s time for the revisions.
M.C.:  Your best?
D.N.:   When the book is released, and I get feedback from readers. Sometimes they see more in a character or a situation than I intended, and that is fun.
M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
D.N:  No, each novel is an opportunity to push further, to do something different.
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
D.N.:  My answer is totally expected: seeing my first novel House Call in hardcover print, including the slick, metallic color book jacket. There’s never been a more beautiful book.
M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?
D.N.:  An obsession means that you push everything else aside, let everything else fail or fall.  That’s not me.
M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
D.N.:  Readers want to think that, so it’s best to let them keep guessing.
M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
D.N.:  I do my best writing sober.
M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?


Author: Freda Hansburg 
Publisher: Micro Publishing Media 
Pages: 248 
Genre: Thriller

Tell on You is a psychological suspense novel that best fits within the Gone Girl-inspired niche genre of “grip lit.”   Jeremy Barrett’s obsessive love equals that of Jay Gatsby for Daisy Buchanan, as life imitates art in his private school English class. But his angst-driven infatuation brings dire consequences as he is drawn into the machinations of his disturbed 16-year-old student Nikki Jordan, whose bad intentions rival those of her teacher.  A fast-paced, drama-filled tale, Tell on You reminds readers about the wildness and trauma of adolescence—and the self-defeating behaviors to which adults resort in times of stress. From gaslighting to vicious bullying, poisonous family privilege to the loss of a parent—Freda Hansburg draws on her experience as a clinical psychologist to explore the depths of each dark situation in Tell on You.



Book Excerpt:

“OWW!!”  EIGHT-YEAR OLD Brandon Jordan screeched as his sister Nikki twisted his arm in an Indian burn.  “Nikki, stop!”
            His cries brought Mom crashing into Nikki’s room.  “Nikki, I won’t have you bullying your brother again.  Let him go this instant.”
            “But I caught him in here messing with my stuff!” Nikki gave Brandon’s arm a final wrench before releasing him.  Pouting, he scurried from her room. 
            “I don’t care what he did.  I told you, keep your hands to yourself.”  Her mother turned away, judgment delivered. 
Probably in a hurry to get back to her vodka and reality TV.  “At least when Dad was here, somebody stuck up for me,” Nikki called after her.
Mom’s angry face reappeared.  “Stuck up for you?”  A bitter laugh.  “Stuck it to you, and all of us, is more like it.”
“Wasn’t me he left,” Nikki said.
“Really?  When’s the last time he even phoned you?”  Her mother walked off with that parting shot.
“Like you’d know, bitch.”  Nikki said it under her breath, but not under enough.
“Who do you think you’re talking to?”  Mom stormed back into the room, got right up in Nikki’s face, breath boozy.  “You’re grounded for the next three days, kiddo.  Give me your car keys, right now.”
“Maa!” Nikki protested.  “How will I get to school?” 
Her mother held out her hand for the keys.  “Get up an hour early and I’ll drop you on the way to work.”
“No way!”  Nikki fished the keys from her bag and dropped them into her mother’s open palm.
“Then walk.”  Her mom headed out of the room, turning back for one last jab.  “Or call your father.”
This time Nikki closed the bedroom door before cursing her out.  Walking to school sucked, and tomorrow’s weather forecast called for cold.  Call your father.  Very funny.  Dad lived in Austin now.  But it gave her an idea.
Nikki picked up her phone to make the call, rehearsing the pitch in her mind.  I’m so lonely, Mr. B.  I’m taking care of my brother again because my mom went out.  And she forgot we were supposed to take my car in for a new battery.  And I was wishing…I know I shouldn’t ask you…but if you met me and gave me a ride to school tomorrow, I’d get to see you.  You wouldn’t have to take me right to school, just drop me nearby. 
She’d sell it to him.  And after that, she’d see about getting even with her mother and
brother.  Maybe steal Brandon’s Game Boy batteries and hide them.  And see how much
distilled white vinegar she could add to Mom’s vodka bottle before the bitch actually
 noticed.  Nobody, but nobody, got to score the winning point against Nikki Jordan.

About the Author

Freda Hansburg is a psychologist and Tell On You is her debut trade thriller.  She self-published the suspense novel Shrink Rapt and co-authored two self-help books, PeopleSmart – a best-seller translated into ten languages – and Working PeopleSmart.  Freda lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she is working on her next novel and her Pickleball game.

Her latest book is the thriller, Tell On You.




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Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Feature: Mestlven by Jesse Teller - Check out the Giveaway!

Revenge, Insanity, and the Bloody Diamonds 

Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues. 

He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin. 

Author links:

Please click on the picture for details on how to enter this fabulous giveaway!