Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tia Silverthorne Bach's "Chasing Memories"

It's always a pleasure to welcome a fellow indie author to the blog.  Today we delve into the first book of the Tala Prophecy series by Tia Silverthorne Bach.  This YA series promises to be interesting, with a paranormal twist added in. 

Book Summary:
There isn’t another way; not now. The others are coming. I can’t let them have you…Seventeen-year-old Reagan has a problem: She can’t remember what happened the night her brother was taken.

Now, the dreams haunting her from the incident are becoming more intense by the day. All the while, the lines between what’s real and what’s a product of her paranormal-obsessed mind are becoming blurred.

Is she losing her mind or has she just stepped into a world she thought only existed in books?

Caught in a web of worried parents, competing boys, Wiccan relatives, protective amulets, and psychiatrist babble, Reagan must determine the truth before it’s too late.

My Review:
The prologue chapter very quickly sets up the horror and mystery surrounding a family campout at Yellowstone.  But before going further, we have to backtrack in time to the mundane life of seventeen-year-old Reagan in a sleepy Colorado town.

Chapter one takes us back two weeks prior to the events in the prologue - and it felt like those moments when people do nothing but name drop.  There were so many references to known books, magazines, television shows, movies, and product brands that I thought I was in the middle of advertisement overload.  One page alone referenced eight different books and television shows.  But I grit my teeth and read on.

I'm glad I did.

After chapter one we return to the events immediately following the prologue.  Reagan is in the hospital recovering from what appears to be a grizzly bear attack on their campsite.  Her younger brother, Sam, is missing and presumed dead, his body carried off into the woods by the attacking predator.

Upon return to Colorado, life continues to turn upside down.  Her friends don't comprehend what Reagan is going through and regularly spy on her and report to her mother.  Reagan suffers from constant headaches accompanied by horrifying dreams of the night she was attacked and Sam killed.  In her dreams, she sees not a grizzly attacking their camp but a huge wolf with amber eyes - and it talks to her.

Worse, at times she hears her dead brother's voice in her head - but she's still awake.  Reagan knows she isn't crazy but can't explain it nor why she trusts Sam's directives.  But then everyone else starts trying to give her direction and control her every step.

That's when Reagan's mother goes on the defensive - and yes, I mean defensive.  Her mother doesn't appreciate the influence her Wiccan grandmother begins to have over Reagan's life.  Nor the new, strange, and somewhat dangerous pseudo-boyfriend who injects himself into Reagan's life - so she forces Reagan to accompany her to see a psychiatrist.  But her mom doesn't stop there in her efforts to remove Grandmother Nana's influence.  I found both Reagan's mother's actions and at times her "friends" actions despicable.

Chasing Memories kept me reading.  There's teenaged angst scattered throughout, but I was able to get past those moments and stay engaged in the overall story.  Yes, this is a paranormal YA, but the paranormal aspect rather takes second billing to the building of the storyline, of the relationships in Reagan's life, and then what is happening to her.  There were a few times where her thoughts and actions flip-flopped very rapidly and weren't cohesive, but for the most part this was a minor annoyance.

The story ends on a cliffhanger, so be warned.  For those who like a heavier paranormal focus, I'm guessing the paranormal component will take front and center stage in the following novel based upon how the first ended - but this is pure speculation on my part.

I'd recommend Chasing Memories to teens and twenty-somethings and to those who enjoy a light paranormal mystery.  And hey, I always enjoy a good, multi-layered female protagonist like Reagan.  Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Tia Silverthorne Bach is an avid reader, sometimes runner, involved wife and mother, and rabid grammar hound in addition to being a multi-genre writer. Her three daughters were born in Chicago, San Diego, and Baltimore; and she feels fortunate to have called many places home. She's the award-winning co-author of Depression Cookies, a coming of age story written with her mother. Tia's office is wherever her laptop takes her and any place that's conducive to allowing a wild imagination like hers to flourish.  Check out her website at and blog at

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Pages: 296
Publisher: self-published
Release: May 22, 2013

Kindle buy link ($3.99):

Amazon paperback buy link ($12.99):

Barnes and Noble paperback buy link ($12.99):

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Housekeeping and a Book Recommendation

Hello hello, dear readers!  I've a few things to share with you today and wanted to just congeal it all into one post.

There's still a week left to enter the giveaway of Running into the Darkness.  Be one of twenty-five readers to get your free copy.  As you know, I've been prepping for the marketing your eBook article and have received several tips from my fellow participating authors - one of which was a giveaway, which I'd never tried before.  Thus this giveaway of RITD was born!  Click below to enter.

And yes, the marketing article is coming next week!  I'm looking forward to sharing with you the various practical things I've done to find readers for my book.  Then there are the ways other participating authors have championed their work too, and I'm so grateful for their participation.  It's going to be chock full of simple things you too can do to interest readers, so tell all of the writers you know and don't miss it!

Lastly, I have a book recommendation for all of you suspense lovers out there - especially if you like an interesting heroine.  Gingerbread Man by Maggie Shayne is an intriguing story I read last weekend that kept me guessing, and as regular readers know, that's pretty hard to do.  The red herring was obvious early on, but it wasn't until well into the second half of the story that I was certain of the killer.  There was also an element I didn't see coming until probably the final quarter of the novel.  I really like stories that keep me guessing.

Be warned - the storyline centers around a pedophile serial killer and the cop who jumps on the trail.  This trail takes him to a small lakeside town where he meets a woman shattered by tragic events from the past.  But it's this woman who could be his greatest asset in hunting down the sick pervert who preys on the innocent - if only he could get her to remember.

Like I said, this was a surprising freebie and I ended up enjoying the mystery element in the storyline.  The overall writing style, however, needs strengthening.  Too much pronoun usage kept me gritting my teeth, but once the story grabbed and got moving it wasn't quite as grating.  The love story aspect between the hero and heroine also was a bit much, but that's likely just because I find romance annoyingly sappy and unrealistic.

So there you have it, folks!  With the Halloween season rapidly approaching, Gingerbread Man might be your ticket.  Watch next week for the marketing article, and don't forget to sign up to win a free copy of Running into the Darkness before the opportunity dwindles.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Repeat Performance with Michael F. Stewart

Michael F. Stewart is once again joining us with his follow-up novel  to Assured Destruction.  I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this prior work earlier in the year and jumped on the opportunity to read the second in the series Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie.  If you don't remember, I enjoyed the first in this YA series, even though my technologically challenged brain had a little difficulty keeping up with some of the protagonist's computer ease.  So let's get down to brass tacks and take a peek at Script Kiddie.

Book Summary:
Jan Rose no longer steals data from the old computers she recycles. She doesn't need to. As the newest member of the police department’s High Tech Crime Unit, the laptop of a murderer has landed on her desk. Her job: to profile and expose a killer.

But that’s not all.

A creep lurks in the shadows, stalking a friend, and Jan must stop him before the hunt turns deadly. The clock counts down for Jan to save her friend, her job, her boyfriend—maybe even her life.

My Review:
Script Kiddie starts off shortly after the events from the first book - and quickly we see the crap hits the fan for our protagonist, Janus Rose (I still like that name).  She's sporting a cast on her leg, crutches in order to get around, still having little time to take care of everything in her day (namely schoolwork, her family business, and the new boyfriend), and then there is the matter of penance for her crimes.

Yes, the police department has taken her on as her community service requirement.  Jan is now placed with the cyber crimes division.  Problem is, none of the other officers want her around.  After she's given an assignment to "prove" her mettle, she discovers it was all a ruse.  But the computer she's asked to profile is what gets the blood flowing (and in real life, heads would roll).

Then there is still the matter with her ailing mother and the strange, old boyfriend her mom decided to start seeing from AD.  Peter is still an enigma to Jan.  She's not sure who he really is and whether or not he's trustworthy.

Next throw in a quasi-irritant from the first book, who is stupid enough to post naked pictures to get involved with a cyber romance and finds herself stalked by a middle-aged sexual predator.  Who does she run to for help?  You guessed it - Jan.

Janus has changed alot from the first story.  Circumstances have humbled her and with too much to deal with, nothing gets accomplished.  She's no longer the hip, super-smart chic who knows it from AD - and I'm not yet sure how I feel about that.  I understand she's gotten in way over her head, but I rather missed the sharp wit and self-assured young lady from book one.  It felt almost as if too much was going on at times so that no one thing got enough focus in the storyline, almost like what happened to the movie Spiderman 3.

The only other thing that just seemed too unrealistic was the final big scene where the bad guy gets his comeuppance.  Just seemed unreal for a young teen with a broken leg and several other injuries at this point to get the upper hand of a large, angry man.  But the fact that Jan was willing to go the extra mile for a disturbed friend does lend her that dose of heroism for our main character.

Even with these issues, I found Script Kiddie to be a good, fast read.  The scene where she tries to drive with her cast is absolutely hilarious.  The fact that the student body clapped for her after this (at least she thinks that's what it's for) makes it even funnier. 

I also found the aspect of her being accused of changing the grades for the entire student body a good kink in Jan's armor.  Who wouldn't suspect her after all she's proven capable of in the past?  Proving she didn't, however, is a task even she's not sure she's up to.  This throws her to trust Peter, her mom's aged boyfriend.

And once again, I found Peter to be a good "red herring" character at times.  I like the fact that Jan's still not sure exactly who he is and what he's really up to - and why he's appearing to try and help her with her cyber investigations.  He tends to keep the story in a state of flux, never sure if he wears a white hat or black.

And I like that!

So check out Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie near the end of August 2013 for the teen audience or the youth within yourself.

And don't forget to sign up for the giveaway below:

Author Bio:
After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults.  Check out his website at

Formats: paperback & ebook
Release: August 2013
Pages: 156
ISBN: 9780981269979
Publisher: Non Sequitur Press

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sitting Down with Tony Rauch

It's been a great week thus far and is only getting better with today's interviewee.  I had the pleasure of reading some of author Tony Rauch's work prior to conducting the interview.  It's fun, light-hearted, a bit creepy, and yeah...bizarre!  So let's get down to business.  Come on, Tony, and sit down in my interview chair!

DAB:    I have no experience with the bizarro fiction genre, and there may be many in our audience like me.  So let me start this interview by asking – what is bizarro fiction?

TR:       it is many things, or can be many things. It is weird fantasy. Dr. Seuss for adults. A swirling of genres. It is experimental. Formula turned inside out. It is Kirk Cameron moving in next door to you and getting a job as a clown at children’s parties. It is you then stalking Kirk Cameron and monitoring his every move with elaborate charts, much as I have done (you can join me some night if you wish, but you have to pass a test first, and I’m gonna test you but good). It can probably best be summed up in the beginning of this interview and this listing -

scroll down a little for the list –

            But the main thing is: it is not just one thing. It is the literature of the strange, the absurd, where stories are harder to classify. It might be silly or cartoony, it might be strange horror, it might be unusual cowboy, it may be a love triangle between really shy dinosaurs. Now it’s your turn to list what it might be. It can be whatever you want it to be.
 DAB:  That's funny!  I especially like the "Dr. Seuss for adults" moniker.  How did you first develop an interest in this genre, and when did you decide this was what you wanted to write?

TR:       I do not like labels, as I find them limiting. And I don’t know what categories my stories would best fit. I guess that would be up to others to consider. I like a variety of story types, tropes, and formats, so mixing them seems to work best for me. This was how I always wrote because formula fiction was too boring and limiting. A swirl of styles, forms, and types was more challenging and freeing. A story might be a list, it may be just three lines, it may be a middle with you to be left thinking of a beginning and ending. It is meant to challenge and provoke.

            I was writing this kind of stuff before a recent label congealed. My first collection, “I’m right here,” came out in 1998, and some of those stories date back to the early 90s. I just called them absurdist, or post-modern, or experimental, or put the pedal to the floor and drive through the supermarket in a stolen city bus, or alternative, or underground. It was just more challenging, more liberating, more boundless than other forms of inhibited, tight, constrained, formula jive.

            I was always interested in this type of writing - Donald Barthelme, Mark Leyner – anything different, fresh, new, alive. I didn’t go to it. It came to me at the library when I first read anthologies such as “the anti story”, “super fiction”, “the naked i”, “the uncommon reader”, “cutting edge.” Leonard Michaels’s short story “murderers” showed me there could be no rules, no formats. It unshackled previous restraints. I was always into art, reading, drawing, sketching, and I read that story and said, yes, this is what I want to do, and so I did.

            But I’m not sure if my stories or sketches would fit in with “bizarro fiction” as I seem to deal with the middle ranges of experience and not the extremes. But you see, there’s where it’s great, and that’s the appeal to me – that is my thoughts on the subject, where everyone else will have a different point of reference. So the genre then becomes more elastic and oozing as everyone has their own idea of what “extreme,” “absurd,” or “silly” might be. Someone might read something and think it is a horror piece, where another person may see it as an absurdist piece or satire. Actually, I’m really tired of talking about this – investigate it on your own. In the meantime, would you like to see my Kirk diagrams? I’ve got notebooks full.

DAB:   I'm definitely with you on the whole "labels" issue, and I'll leave Kirk to you for now.  This short story collection is so different – how do you come up with such interesting and “bizarre” ideas about which to write?

TR:       I think my collection, “eyeballs growing all over me . . again” is just some strange story starters for young adults and sci fi fantasy adventures, maybe picking things up where Ray Bradbury left off and just taking off with those types of vibes.

            The stories just hit me – at the super market, while walking my dog, etc. I’m so busy at work during the day that it’s as if a part of my brain is thinking of these things all day without my knowing it and then that door opens in the quiet moments. I like the big ideas in the small moments – the mini-adventures, going places, discovering gadgets, seeing things I otherwise could not.

            Most of the ideas I think are just extrapolations of things I think about, then extrude them to their breaking point – what’s in that cupboard or behind that door? Obviously a strange mushroom who knows who has a crush on me but won’t tell me until I do it a favor. That sort of thing.

DAB:   In eyeballs growing all over me…again, which is your favorite story in the collection?  Which is your favorite character?  Do you personally identify with him/her/it in some way?

TR:      I hate them all. the people in it are all liars, they have poor hygene, they . . . No, actually I like them all. I guess the best for me in that one would be “send krupac through the portal” as a man is offered a chance to search for his girlfriend in another dimension as the version of her in this one has broken it off. And “people have been drifting away lately” where people just up and float away. They deal with loss and I have a hard time coming to terms with loss, though I am getting better with change. I identify with the feelings and sentiments behind those two and some other pieces in there – the man who builds a robot to try to meet women, the desire to go back in time and see a cool rock and roll concert, the desire to escape, ambivalence, contradictions, dealing with weird crap that happens for no reason, etc. These are just extrapolations, just metaphors for the crap we have to deal with.

DAB:   Do you have a set writing routine, or do you fit it in around everything else whenever you can?

TR:      I have very little time to write, which is why short stories probably fit best for me. Most novels I’ve seen are contrived and way too long. I tend to write when a good idea hits me. But usually I only have an hour a night to write as I work all day. It’s too bad that short story collections, and weird genre stuff in particular, does not sell well because I think it would challenge a lot of people to think in a different gear for a while if they just gave it a chance. Basically I work in a very obscure art form and thus I consider myself more of a folk artist, an outsider – as if writing down old folk songs or paintings found in the attics of old garages that no one knows who wrote or painted.

DAB:    The "folk artist" comparison fits pretty well, I think.  Tell us about your writing space.  What’s on your desk?  What do you do to get in the writing mood?

TR:       The first two books were written on those old main frame macs in a study with books all around me. Both my old apartments had views to flowers and trees, so no hectic distractions and lots to wonder about. Then I got a house and a lap-top and now type in the living room on a wooden TV stand. The view across the street is nice – again, lots of big trees, no distractions. Often I will write something out long hand in bed at night, again when there are no distractions. That’s it. There are no real secrets other than the old adage: ass to chair. Having no distractions is the key for me, so at night when all is blank and quiet seems to work best at opening things up for me.

DAB:    Was there anyone in your past that influenced your desire to write?  Your present?

TR:       No one person. I was always introverted, way too much for my own good, and always into art and drawing and those drawings had a narrative to them which I started writing down as they were actually stories in pictographic form, whether I realized that or not. Also, me and my friends used to write funny, absurdist skits for school to entertain ourselves, and I think that really formed my outlook and template – seeing the world as a strange, absurd place.

DAB:    So since we’re talking about some “bizarre” situations here, if you had a time machine would you choose to go visit the future or past?  Why?

TR:       The past. Unfortunately I miss a lot of things. I’ve always had a longing for the past - friends, old stuff, a chance to re-do a couple of things and get them right. Though I should be more adventurous and say the future, as that is probably a healthier outlook. Sometimes you just gotta let things go, let things be.

DAB:    Okay, now let’s come back to reality for a moment.  There’s one question I love to ask fellow authors – do you outline your stories or do you just sit down and write where the story takes you?

TR:       Depends. Either / Or. Sometimes it’s easier to write it all out all at once, since most of my stuff is so brief. Sometimes if I get an idea elsewhere, I have to jot it down as an outline. So basically it depends on where I’m located when the idea hits me. For some reason, often times the endings come to me first, and then I work back from that.
            The important thing to me is to be interesting, thought-provoking, entertaining, informative, fast and brief, present new and different ideas or takes on things. Now I don’t know if I’ve achieved that, but that’s the goal.

DAB:    And it's always nice to have a goal.  Are you working on anything new at present?  Care to give us a sneak peek?

TR:       Nothing new right now, unfortunately. I’ve been swamped with other life matters and work. I have three books of shorts done and ready to be published and at least one YA collection almost finished, but no one as of yet to publish them. I was unemployed for a while (I’m an Architect, so my job depends on lending and the overall economy because it is a service industry) so I had some time to really dig in and finish some things and work on marketing my other published story collections, which is really hard.

            But odd shorts have a very limited market, so very low sales potential I’m afraid. I have thought of doing a novella just to see if I can do one, and also just as a change of pace or as a writing exercise. It’s probably good to stretch and grow and not get stagnant or refine a shtick. Repetition is the opposite of art. If you’re burning on technique, you’re not an Artist, you’re an illustrator, and artist with a small ‘a’. If you’re out there balancing on new ground, trying new things, then you’re an Artist. I want to create Art, something different, unique, challenging, fresh, alive, free. Whether I’ve achieved that or not is up to an individual reader to decide and balance out with what their thoughts are.

            In the meantime, tell Kirk I say hello.

I'll do that, Tony!  Thanks again for joining us here at the blog to offer insight into the bizarro genre - and your writing life.  Be sure and check out Tony's work through his website at

Author Bio:

Tony Rauch has three books of short stories published –
-         “I’m right here” (Spout Press)
-         “Laredo” (Eraserhead Press)
-         “Eyeballs growing all over me . . . again” (Eraserhead Press)
            He has an additional titles finished and is looking for a publisher for them, including “as I floated in the jar”. He has been interviewed by the Prague Post, Oxford Univ student paper, Raintaxi, and has been reviewed by the MIT paper and the Savanna College of Art and Design paper, among many others.
Story samples can be found at –
His work deals with fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, a sense of discovery, escape, concealment, ennui, regret, loneliness, technology run amok, eerie vibes, irresponsible behavior, confusion, absurd situations, surrealism, modern fairy tales, etc.