Saturday, June 30, 2012

Now Available - Knight's Big Easy

Dear readers!  My friend and fellow author, Gordon A. Kessler, just informed me that his newest book in the "Knight's Reports" series is finally live on Amazon for your Kindle. 

I had the pleasure of proofreading "Knight's Big Easy" prior to publication and can tell you that this story moves at such a rapid pace it will keep your old ticker pumping for the duration.  If you'd like to stay inside where it's cool instead of out in the heat and humidity, this novel will give you ample reason to do so - without getting bored.  Or if your penchant is more toward lazing by the pool, pick this up on your Kindle before you head to the water.

You'll be glad you did!

Knight’s Big Easy

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Where the Characters Take Us

Things have taken a bit of a turn in writing my sequel, Piercing the Darkness.

When interviewing other authors for my site, my favorite question to ask is (I'm sure you all know the answer to this one by now) whether or not they outline their novels.  When first conducting interviews, I was constantly surprised by how many times other authors stated they didn't outline and just let the story and the characters take them hither and yon.

Over the years, in almost all of the writing 'how to' books I've read, speakers I've heard, etc., etc. there is one clear and fairly unanimous refrain - outline, outline, outline.  So call me shocked to discover that I'm not the only one or even one of the few who ignore said refrain.

I've always been a bit of a rebel.

Or just stubborn.  My mom would call me headstrong.  But I digress once again!

Don't get me wrong - outlines serve a purpose for some writers, but they just don't work for me.  When I write I always have a clear idea of the beginning, end, and certain segments along the way.  It's like there's A and Z with a little G, L, P, and U intermingled and all I have to do from there is connect the dots without giving too much away.  So it isn't like I write completely blind.

But at times I am blindsided by twists and turns as those connections are made. 

Take for example, a character from Running into the Darkness.  This character was supposed to be a major player throughout the series, but as the ending neared, he walked up to me (in my mind, of course), laid down his weapon and stated that it was better for him to die in order to save my protagonist.

I fought.  I resisted.  I told him he was crazy.  Either that or I was.

In the end, it worked out perfectly as he sacrificed himself to save someone else.  It covered over a multitude of sins and left him with that endearing, redemptive quality we seek in all heros.  However, it left me in a quandry.

So in Piercing the Darkness, we have the introduction of a new character who was set up to fill a minor role left open by the demise of previously said character.  The interesting thing is that this new character has quickly developed a back story that has tongues wagging.  He has intrigued me to the point that his back story plays right into a deeper role I now need him to fulfill - and once again it's completely different than intended.

And I really, really like it.

Now things are moving really fast.  The pages are slamming out faster than I can count.  The story is flowing in such a way that I hope to have the draft finished up by summer's end.  Then it will ruminate for a month while we finish up the cover art and then on to final draft.

I can hardly wait to see where the characters take me between now and then.  Someone else will have to die in the end.

Guess we'll all have to wait to see who that will be.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Study Now on Smashwords - Free

Well I finally finished my time with Kindle Select.  That means as of early this morning THE STUDY is now on Smashwords and being offered for free - and I've decided to make it free for an unlimited amount of time.

So if you don't have a Kindle and would like to take a gander at my very looong short story, run on over to Smashwords and download a copy at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Walk Down Memory Lane With Molly Best Tinsley

I promised, so I'm delivering. 

Today I have the pleasure of taking you back to the Naval Academy and introducing you to to our next guest via Tribute Books and Fuze Publishing.  She is not only an author of fiction, but a playwright, and brings to us today a memoir that is very near and dear to her heart and mine - walking a loved one through the unwinding of a life via Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.  Please welcome to the blog, a guest post by Molly Best Tinsley!

"After fifteen years of writing fiction, I was enticed into trying my hand at playwriting when I heard about a contest for one-act plays.  I wound up crafting a dramatic piece based on the strange language that was taking over my mother's mind - the product of dementia, it was bizarre and nonsensical, yet poetic, and like a poem, it hummed with hints of hidden meaning.  The play, "The Hummingbird's Nest," was produced as part of the Source Summer Festival of New Plays, and the woman cast in the role of my mother was truly awesome.  In fact when the awards for the festival were doled out, she won for best actress.  The experience was enough to hook me on the collaborative play-making process.

Sometimes, though, your creative spirit just wants to withdraw and work alone.  You want to have a narrator to bridge the gaps and plumb the depths of a story; you want to be able to design your own scenes, costumes, and atmosphere, without regard to a production budget.  The appeal of the theatre's extroverted world dims; the dependency on producers, directors, and actors feels, well, too dependent.  Thus during the recent years of making plays almost exclusively, I've gone back several times to writing narrative.  Notably, the first time was to tell the whole story of which "The Hummingbird's Nest" had been only a part.

Entering the Blue Stone (Fuze Publishing, 2012) takes you into the vortex of organic brain disease.  Our father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at the same time that our mother began manifesting Alzheimer's symptoms, and my siblings and I had to act fast in order to prevent them from totally going down the tubes.  Our solution was a continuing care facility.  Soon after they were admitted, we became convinced we had stepped through the looking glass - the administrators had lost their minds while those with diagnosed dementia exemplified grace and a certain common sense.

In Entering the Blue Stone, my aim was to stick as close as I could to real events.  What kept me writing was the desire to document my family's experience with an end-of-life institution and question its assumptions about old age.  Diminished cognition must not equate with diminished humanity.

I'm currently at work on the first draft of an entirely different sort of narrative, a spy thriller, "Hotel Limbo," sequel to Satan's Chamber (Fuze Publishing 2009), of the same genre, which I co-wrote with Karetta Hubbard.  Instead of bringing coherence to my own life, I've plunged into issues and settings I knew virtually nothing about when I began.  Karetta and I knew only that we wanted to foreground the global issue of human trafficking.  Although the facts of the book come from research, in a plot-driven story they don't just speak for themselves; they must be deployed in ways that create mystery, suspense, surprise.  Unlike my memoir, I don't know yet exactly how this story will end.  That's what keeps me writing - I'm curious to find out."

Thanks so much to Molly for visiting the blog and writing about such an important topic.  My own dear grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's, and I watched with agony as my grandmother, mother, and her siblings had to deal with the emotional turmoil it brought as they grieved the mental loss of a loved one while still caring for the remaining physical needs.  A dear older friend of mine cared for his beloved wife, suffering for twenty-three years through Alzheimer's.  He meticulously applied her make-up and fixed her hair every day because he knew how important looking nice had been to her.  The grace with which he treated her lingers with me still today, even though they are both now gone.

So to end, I raise a glass to all of the caregivers - both family and friends - who give so much of themselves to see loved ones through the end of this life.  Thank you for the memories, Molly Best Tinsley!

Entering the Blue Stone Summary:
What happens when one's larger-than-life military parents - disciplined, distinguished, exacting - begin sliding out of control?  The General struggles to maintain his invulnerable facade against Parkinson's disease; his lovely wife manifests a bizarre dementia.  Their three grown children, desperate to save the situation, convince themselves of the perfect solution:  an upscale retirement community.  But as soon as their parents have been resettled within its walls, the many imperfections of its system of care begin to appear.

Charting the line between comedy and pathos, Molly Best Tinsley's memoir, Entering the Blue Stone dissects the chaos at the end of life and discovers what shines beneath:  family bonds, the dignity of even an unsound mind, and the endurance of the heart.

Purchase her books at:

Amazon paperback:

Fuze Publishing paperback:

Amazon Kindle:

Barnes& Nook:

Molly Best Tinsley's Bio:
Air Force brat Molly Best Tinsley taught on the civilian faculty at the United States Naval Academy for twenty years and is the institution's first professor emerita.  Author of My Life with Darwin (Houghton Mifflin) and Throwing Knives (Ohio State University Press), she also co-authored Satan's Chamber (Fuze Publishing) and the textbook, The Creative Process (St. Martin's).  Her fiction has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sandstone Prize, and the Oregon Book Award.  Her plays have been read and produced nationwide.  She lives in Oregon, where she divides her time between Ashland and Portland.

Connect with her through Fuze Publishing at:!/fuzepublishing

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Visit the Naval Academy with Kathleen Toomey Jabs

Okay readers - time to polish those brass buttons and spit shine those shoes until we can see our reflections.  We're going to be celebrating Navy week here at the blog (cue marching band).  Yes, this week I have the pleasure of hosting not one but two Naval officers!

And of course, they're also talented writers.  Celebrating the recent release of her first novel, BLACK WINGS, please welcome to the blog Kathleen Toomey Jabs!

DAB:  Tell us about the time when you first realized you wanted to be a published author.

KTJ:   In the late 1980's, I was enrolled in a Naval Academy creative writing course taught by Molly Tinsley (co-founder of FuzePublishing, ).  I absolutely loved the course, and one of the short stories I wrote in that class, "Lifeguard" won a contest and was published in a literary journal.  I was ecstatic and I was hooked.  When I graduated from the Naval Academy in 1988, I owed the Navy five years of service so I put my dream on hold for a while, but I never lost it.

DAB:  What prompted BLACK WINGS' premise?

KTJ:   I entered the Naval Academy in 1984, the eighth class to accept women.  I had no idea what I was getting into or what military life entailed.  For a long time, I didn't write about the military or set my stories in military settings, but once I started, I kept going.  I loved exploring the world of girl/women trying to navigate their way through the military training as they chased different dreams.

I worked on a series of short stories centered on women at the US Naval Academy for almost two years before I started on BLACK WINGS.  After so many drafts, I'd finally found the voice for Bridget Donovan, the main character in BLACK WINGS, but I didn't have the whole conflict.  One day I had a vision of a female pilot crashing into the sea.  I also had the line, "Audrey Richards always wanted to fly," come to me.  I needed to understand what had happened to Audrey and why she had crashed and it kept going back to her time at the Academy.  I was also fascinated by the whole aviation world.

The title, BLACK WINGS is both a reference to a physical object and a metaphor.  In the Navy, people who are warfare qualified, such as aviators, wear a device on the pockets of their uniforms.  In shorthand, the aviator device is referred to as "wings."  Throughout the novel Audrey is confronted with sets of black wings, which are meant to scare her away from flying.

DAB:  How long did it take to craft BLACK WINGS?  Describe that experience for our audience.

KTJ:   The entire process of writing, rewriting, sending out, revising, and finally, publication took 10 years!  I started with a short story and a character, Bridget Donovan.  After about two years, I enrolled at George Mason University in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program because I wanted deadlines, structure and feedback.  BLACK WINGS was my thesis (although it wasn't called BLACK WINGS back then and that early version is structured much differently).  I revised my thesis for another two years then sent it off to an agent who had contacted me after a short story had been published.  The agent was encouraging, suggested I rename it BLACK WINGS and asked for a few more revisions.  I felt like I was flying!

I made some edits, he sent it off and it was quickly rejected by five publishers.  The agent suggested more tightening, which I did, then he lost interest.  I was devastated.  I started shopping around for another agent.  I made more revisions, but I couldn't get any serious or sustained interest.

After a year or so of rejection as well as outright silence, I put the novel (literally) in a drawer.  It stayed there for 2 years.  I felt like Edgar Allen Poe's character in "The Telltale Heart" - instead of a beating heart, I had a failed dream, knocking at my conscience.

One day I reconnected with Molly Tinsley, my former Naval Academy professor, on Facebook.  She had a new book out, which I quickly ordered.  As we were catching up, I mentioned my failed novel and she offered to read it and give me an honest assessment.  She loved the characters and wanted to publish it with Fuze.  The stipulation was:  more edits, a tightening of prose.  I signed up for it all.  I was working full-time so I had to do most of my editing and revising on weekends.  That took about two years.  The Fuze team was incredibly helpful throughout the process.  BLACK WINGS was published in December 2011, almost ten years to the day I started.

DAB:  You've probably heard the saying "write what you know".  Besides writing mysteries, do you read a lot of the mystery genre as well, or is there another genre you prefer?

KTJ:   I do love mysteries and read a lot of them, but I also love literary fiction, particularly layered stories and historical fiction.  I'm fascinated by time and the influence of the past on the present.

DAB:  Do you have a daily writing regimen, and if so, please tell us about it.

KTJ:   When I was working on BLACK WINGS, I set a limit of 1000 words a day.  I didn't do anything else until I hit my limit.

DAB:  There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What typically works best for you?

KTJ:   I outlined AFTER I had completed my first draft so I could see what subplots were where and how they might need to be tightened or deleted in future versions.  I also used it to figure out where I needed more attention.  I hate writing the first draft, but I've learned I just need to start writing because I will end up revising everything anyway.

DAB:  Is there a character in BLACK WINGS with whom you closely identify?

KTJ:   I'm closest to Bridget and some of Bridget's early adventures or mishaps during plebe summer at the Naval Academy are drawn from my real life experiences.  Bridget is not a particularly squared away plebe when she arrives at the Academy and neither was I, but Bridget is also different from me.  I'm not as brave or as mouthy as she is!  Through her experiences I was able to do and say things I wished I had.  It was incredibly freeing.

DAB:  What is it like for you when you receive fan correspondence?

KTJ:   Fan correspondence is really gratifying - after so many years working on BLACK WINGS it's a true joy to know it's out in the world.

DAB:  What's next on your writing horizon?

KTJ:   I am jotting notes and thinking up ideas for another adventure for Bridget!

DAB:  Thank you so much for stopping by the blog.  Please take a moment and give us a blurb on BLACK WINGS.

KTJ:   Thank you for having me on the blog!  It's an honor to be here.

"We'll start with the easy questions first," Wilkinson said.  He knelt beside her and taped a red wire probe to her right forearm.  "We have to establish a base line."  He placed green wires on her left arm and looped them into a pad on her fingertip attached to the lie detector machine.  She avoided looking at the wires and studied the faint blue-green streaks of her veins.  A trickle of sweat leaked down her back.  She tapped the armrest with her right finger, and the wires began to shake.

And there you have it, dear readers - straight from the Captain's mouth.  BLACK WINGS sounds like my kind of story, and I look forward to reading it this weekend.  Pick up a copy at the links below:

Amazon paperback

Fuze Publishing paperback

Amazon Kindle

Barnes&Noble Nook

LT Bridget Donovan suspects the worst when her former Naval Academy roommate, Audrey Richards, perishes in a botched take-off from an aircraft carrier.  The Navy says it's an accident, but facts don't add up.  Could it be suicide, or murder?  Donovan's unofficial investigation into what really happened, both during their past Academy days and in Richards' final hours, forces her to examine the concepts of honor, justice and the role of loyalty in pursuit of those ideals.

Kathleen Toomey Jabs' Bio:
Kathleen Toomey Jabs is a 1988 graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  She served on active duty for six years and is currently a Captain in the Navy Reserve.  She holds an MA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University.  Her stories have been published in a number of literary journals and received several prizes, including selection in the National Public Radio Selected Shorts program.  She lives with her husband and two children in Virginia.

Contact Kathleen via:

Follow her blog tour with Tribute Books

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Birthday Bonanza (and other fun tidbits)

Have I got some news for you, my fellow readers and writers!

To celebrate my birthday with you, I'm offering some specials during the month of June.  Starting today through the 30th, you can pick up a copy of "Running into the Darkness" for only ninety-nine cents through either Amazon, Smashwords, and soon Barnes and Noble and all other online eBook retailers.  Enjoy the savings!

Amazon Running into the Darkness
Smashwords Running into the Darkness 

As a special bonus, I'll also be offering "The Study" free again - but hurry.  It will be offered one day only - June 6th.  Then shortly after the end of my Kindle Select period this month, "The Study" will be available for free for the remainder of the month through Smashwords.  I'll update you when that time comes.

Amazon The Study 

On a side note - I hope you've taken notice of some ongoing changes I'm making to the blog.  Throughout the next few weeks I'll be adding additional pages to the blog, accessed by the pretty-colored tabs at the top (purple is, after all, my signature color).  For months now I've been promising a centralized location where you can always go to access books for sale by those interviewed here.  It just makes it more convenient for you over time.  It's going to be a work-in-progress for awhile so please be patient.  It's that technology thing, you know.

In the meantime, happy reading!