Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Daily Science Fiction, Nature: Futures, and various other anthologies and e-zines.

For more info, visit or subscribe to her newsletter here!

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  • Can you remember if there was a moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t remember the exact moment, but looking back in my records from my childhood, it’s easy to see that writing was always an interest of mine. In first grade, I’d just watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time, and I somehow came up with the idea of having my friends and I perform a play based on it. I used my mom’s computer to write a script and presented it to my teacher, who decided to turn it into a class project. I still have the original script I wrote.

  • What inspired you to write your first book?

I was living in Michigan at the time, and my second son had just been born. I’d been trying to find a creative outlet, which wasn’t exactly easy, being a stay-at-home-mom with two children. My local library was sponsoring a short story contest, and I decided to try my hand at it. I wrote a short story about time travel — specifically about a woman who had gone on a vacation in the past and, while she was gone, had a sort of selective amnesia that made her forget about her real life in the present. I didn’t win the contest (and looking back now, I see how rough that story really was!), but it inspired me to explore some of these ideas I had about time travel tourism, memories, and the professionals whose job it would be to help wayward time travellers who got stuck in the past.

  • How did it feel to finish your first book to a publisher? What was the most terrifying thing about submitting your first book?

When I first submitted that short story to my local library’s writing contest, it was a big step, since that was the first thing I’d submitted for publication as an adult. With THE CONTINUUM, it was another big step, since it was the first time I’d finished a book-length story, and I’d already spent months revising it. But I knew that I wanted to try to get it out into the world, to at least see if it was something that I could accomplish.

  • How did you react to having to edit or make changes to your “baby”?

This has gotten easier over time. My original draft of THE CONTINUUM had the events taking place in strict chronological order — first all the “Past” events, then all the “Present” events, then all the “Future” events. — rather than following Elise’s personal timeline as she jumps around from past to present to future and back to the present again. As a newbie writer, I thought this was clever, and it took a while for people to convince me that it wasn’t the best way to tell the story.

My editor at World Weaver Press, Rhonda Parrish, was a great partner during the revision/editing phase. It was clear throughout the entire process that she didn’t want to change my story but to help me make it the best version of itself that it could be.

  • What is the hardest part of being published for you?

I absolutely love all the encouragement and support of my real-life friends and family, but it’s still strange for me to talk with non-writers that I’ve known for years about my work. Writing is such a solitary pursuit and many of my extended family and acquaintances didn’t find out until recently about my career in fiction. It’s been a bit surreal, having the people I know “in real life” reading things I’ve written. My husband and I jokingly refer to it as “crossing the streams.”

  • What is your idea of a perfect date?

Dinner at a good Mexican restaurant, then back home for movie-watching on the couch. I’m a bit of a homebody, but I can’t resist a good dinner out.

  • What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Find some writer friends! Whether in-person or online, find some writers who are on the same skill level as you are, who have similar aspirations and drive. They will become your best friends as you navigate the waters of writing and publishing and experience the ups and downs.

  • If you weren’t a writer, what other artistic outlet do you think you’d have?

About a decade ago, I nearly started a photography business. I’d done a handful of weddings and other events and served as official photographer at a previous workplace, but when it came down to it, I didn’t have a lot of interest in the business side of photography and have much preferred to just keeping it as a hobby.

  • Do you have a secret skill that you can share with us?

I make awesome spreadsheets. I’ve always been an organized person, and I attribute a lot of that to my mom teaching me how to use Quattro Pro when I was six or seven years old. I have budget and accounting spreadsheets, story submission spreadsheets, story structure spreadsheets, goal spreadsheets, and various other spreadsheets for all areas of life.

  • If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

Time manipulation! I’d not only be able to slow it down to accomplish all the things I want to do and savor each moment but could also fast-forward through the boring parts (waiting in lines, folding laundry, etc)

Elise Morley is an expert on the past who’s about to get a crash course in the future.

For years, Elise has been donning corsets, sneaking into castles, and lying through her teeth to enforce the Place in Time Travel Agency’s ten essential rules of time travel. Someone has to ensure that travel to the past isn’t abused, and most days she welcomes the challenge of tracking down and retrieving clients who have run into trouble on their historical vacations.

But when a dangerous secret organization kidnaps her and coerces her into jumping to the future on a high-stakes assignment, she’s got more to worry about than just the timespace continuum. For the first time ever, she’s the one out-of-date, out of place, and quickly running out of time.

Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech.” —Unreliable Narrators

Buy your copy here

~ Official page ~

~ Goodreads ~ Amazon ~

~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~

“The spinning slows. Suddenly, everything stops.

My legs flail, searching for solid ground, until I plunge abruptly into dank, smelly water. I gasp, and my mouth fills with brine. I’m being dragged in one direction, but instinct pulls me the opposite way. I kick against my heavy skirts and break the surface. For one dizzying moment I’m utterly confused. The concrete slabs of the nearby docks sharpen my fuzzy memory.



The Titanic.

I Extracted while on the gangplank—a gangplank that doesn’t exist in 2012. This is exactly why our travellers are encouraged to use pre-approved Extraction locations. The Wormhole dumps travellers at the same place they’ve left from, which can make for some awkward (or dangerous) entrances.

Across the way, Marie does a frantic doggie-paddle towards the steel rungs leading up to the dock. With labored strokes, I swim after her, clutching the sphere in one hand. When I reach her, she’s still clinging to the bottom rung, too exhausted to climb to safety.

“Hang on.” I slip my Wormhole Device into my handbag and pull my dripping body up to the dock. Water streams out around me, forming a dark puddle on the concrete. The evening sun, balancing on the very edge of the horizon, casts an eerie glow on the water.

“Okay. Come on up—”

My encouragement is drowned out by the sound of retching. Lovely.

I clench my jaw to stop my teeth from rattling and focus on retaining my professionalism—not easy, considering the mucked-up circumstances.

Finally, Marie starts up the ladder, ascending tentatively, with gasping breaths. When she’s close enough to grab my forearms, I pull her up with much grunting and tugging. Her eyes widen as she takes in the industrial warehouses, giant cranes, and sprawling parking lots that seem to have appeared instantaneously.

“What have you done?” Her voice rises in pitch with each word.”


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Case File Phantom Book Tour @GoddessFish

Case File Phantom

by Dana Ford


GENRE: Mystery Fiction



In this mystery fiction novel, Georgia Richards lost hope of ever seeing her husband again since he disappeared over a year ago.  On a Saturday afternoon, she thought she saw him at a play; on stage at the Oaksdale Playhouse.  But, Georgia didn’t have the courage to find out if it was really him.  Constance McCauley was empathetic to Georgia’s faint of heart and decided to offer her investigation services to find the true identity of this mysterious man.  Would Constance be able to track down Georgia’s estranged husband?  If he was found, why had he been missing for over a year?  As Constance pursued this case with a combination of faith and persistence, she witnessed the power of forgiveness unfold before her eyes.


It was beautiful inside.  The space quaint, low lighting, enough ambience to make a lucrative business deal or extend a marriage proposal.   Thanks to Troy making reservations, we were seated right away in a cozy booth for two.  Sean placed a marketing folder on the table next to his place setting.  “I’m looking forward to talking about what we can do for your company.”  He said.  His eyes were naturally a darker brown in this low lighting.  I smiled, thankful for the distraction of the waiter.

“Would you care for some wine?” The waiter asked pleasantly.

“None for me, thank you.”  I replied.

“I’ll take a glass of your best red wine.” Sean responded.

“Very good sir.”

Sean jumped right in.  “Did Alex talk to you about all of our services or did he just focus on one aspect of what we do, like print advertising?”

“Well, I actually did not tell you the whole truth about Alex and I.”

Sean perked up to listen.

“I do own a private investigation firm, but I never met Alex through your company.”  The waiter returned with Sean’s glass of wine and sparkling water for me.  We both ordered their chef’s special pasta with a salad.

“Oh.”  Sean thought for a moment.

“But, tell me.  What services do you have?”  I asked.  I actually did want to know.

Until dinner arrived, Sean presented all of the details that were included in the marketing folder that he had brought.  He pitched ways to expose my business from print advertising, to social media strategies.  “Are you interested in pursuing any of these marketing approaches?”  He asked, knowing that he was one of the best salesmen on the Brown & Edwards sales team.

Taking a look over all of the amazing food that was just placed on our table, I also considered the marketing services that Sean had presented.  “Let me think about it.”  I responded.

“You had the same hesitation when we met the other day.  What exactly are you thinking about?”  He returned like a true salesman.


It is my pleasure to feature Dana Ford, author of Case File Phantom, on Room With Books.

Please tell us about yourself.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

I have been writing stories since I was in elementary school. My best friend and I would have sleepovers and write short stories through the night.  Her reaction to my writing encouraged me to become a writer.

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

I write for fun on my spare time, usually on the weekends.  I also have a day job in a large corporation.

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Twists and turns that keep you reading laced with a lesson in forgiveness and learning how to forget the past.

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

I have been writing for fun since elementary school, also was a journalist for my local newspaper.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

The publishing process took about 4-6 months.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

That depends in a variety of factors, how much time can be dedicated to writing, how developed the plot is, or how easy is it to find your “mojo”.  When all of the above is clicking for me, I have finished a book in 6-8 months.

What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

The next novel is another case file.  The plot for this one is introduced in the last chapter of Case File Phantom.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

In Case File Phantom, my favorite character is Michael Woods.  He is authentic, compassionate, and a great friend.

What is your routine for writing?

Writing for me is fun.  I usually write on the weekends while at home.  I can be in any room to write and prefer to be near a window with natural light coming through.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

It depends.  The titles for my books have come randomly.  Sometimes before I begin writing, or while I’m writing.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

The hidden message in this book is the power of forgiveness.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?


Do you read all the reviews of your books?


That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

What is your favorite food? I don’t have a favorite food, but my favorite meal of the day is breakfast.

Who is your favorite singer or group? Whitney Houston

What is your favorite color? Purple

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? A couples’ resort with my husband – anywhere.

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your book. I hope you will come back again!


Dana Ford has enjoyed writing stories since she can remember.  She has penned several books and has found a new love in writing mystery fiction.  Her favorite hobbies besides writing is watching old movies, volunteering in her community, and spending precious moments with her family.

Dana Ford will be awarding a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

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Over Easy Blog Tour @pamelafordbooks @iReadBookTours

Over Easy

by Pamela Ford

The Continental Breakfast Club, Book One




ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please, leave comments!


Category: Adult fiction, 260 pages

Genre: Romantic comedy

Publisher: Aine Press

Release date: May 10, 2016

Content Rating: PG 13 (For some profanity)


About the Book

01_PF_OverEasy_R19Allie Parker’s had enough. Just because she’s a dog groomer, her overachieving family of doctors and lawyers treats her like a child. She’s convinced that a successful husband is all she needs to change their attitudes. So when she and her friends come up with a brilliant new way to meet eligible men, Allie squeezes into her sister’s stylish clothes and sneaks into continental breakfast at an upscale hotel to find herself the perfect guy.

Before Allie has taken her last bite of syrup-laden waffle, she’s met the man of her dreams. But what she doesn’t know is that he’s a jewel thief who mistakenly thinks she’s his contact—and so does everyone else who’s after his stash of diamonds.

Suddenly Allie’s world is crazily upended. And as she scrambles to prove her innocence and get back to her old life, she discovers happily ever after sneaks up when you least expect it.

Purchase Links

Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble


Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Over Easy by Pamela Ford for the purpose of an honest review.

It was an absolute pleasure to read Over Easy by Pamela Ford. This is a book that captured my attention and held it from cover to cover. It had plenty of action including manhunting, sleuthing, and lots of laughter!

Ms. Ford has created a cast of characters that is easy to relate to, then you mix in a trio of furry friends and the story is bound to get a little wild!

I love that Over Easy is the first book in a series so I can get my fix for The Continental Breakfast Club in pretty short order! You should pick up a copy. I think you’ll be very pleased with your purchase!

I definitely recommend Over Easy by Pamela Ford and give it five steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee.



©July 31, 2016

Patricia, Room With Books


Author Q&A

author banner

What made you write a book about women sneaking into hotel continental breakfasts to try to meet eligible men?

I was at a continental breakfast several years ago, minding my own business of course, when I spotted a good looking guy in a suit eating breakfast alone. Suddenly the question, “What if. . .” popped into my head and the story idea was born. I started writing the series in third person, but quickly switched to first person because it seemed a more natural way to show the central character’s personality—and quirks.

If you are a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

My youngest child is now in college, so I have much more time to devote to writing. But balancing that time is still difficult because my daughters call 75 times a day. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but they call a lot—when they’re walking home from class or going to work or bored or making cookies or. . .

What is your favorite travel spot?

I don’t have a specific favorite spot, but I really like water—lakes, oceans, ponds, rivers. . .even puddles! If there’s a body of water nearby, I’ll like the vacation.

What childhood books inspired you to want to write books?

I was a voracious reader as a kid, so I think that libraries in general are what inspired me to write. For a while we lived in an area serviced by a Bookmobile, and I can still remember what it felt like to go to the Bookmobile every Saturday morning. I discovered The Black Stallion series on the bookmobile, which was like getting a gift since I was a city girl who was always begging my parents for a horse.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I don’t know if I would go back, but I’d really like to go forward. I would love to see what the future holds—whether space and interplanetary travel is commonplace and if we will have colonies on other planets.

Where do you write?

I like to shake up where I write because it helps keep my writing from stalling. I’ll write at my desk, or on our three-season porch, or at coffee shops. I really love working in coffee shops that open their exterior windows/walls in nice weather.


Meet the Author

Pamela FordPamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot – and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

Connect With the Author

Website  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads



Five winners total:

Two winners will get a print copy of Over Easy + a $10 Starbucks gift card;

Two winners will get a print copy of Fresh Brewed + a $10 Starbucks gift card;

One winner will get a print copy of both books + a $25 Starbucks gift card!

Ends September 17, 2016

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Fibers Virtual Book Tour


by Jennifer-Crystal Johnson


NBTM_Fibers_Banner copy


ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please leave comments!


GENRE: Science Fiction


About the Book

Anna Reynolds is caught up in the middle of a secret interdimensional government agreement… and she doesn’t even know it. There’s a medical anomaly loosely dubbed Morgellons disease afflicting a number of people. Symptoms include open sores that produce colorful string-like fibers, fatigue, and nightmarish visions of shadowy figures. No one knows where it came from. No one knows what causes it. There is no cure. When Anna begins having nightmares and waking hallucinations of the shadow people, her uneasiness about her condition grows. Enlisting the help of her doctor and some friends, Anna is determined to find out what’s really going on and why Morgellons is such a mystery. With her health declining and doubts about whom she can trust, is Anna doomed to become a slave to her condition? Or will she and her unlikely group of would-be heroes come through, saving her… and, ultimately, the world?




Standing slowly with her palm pressed to her eye, she spotted a tiny clump on the counter not far from the tweezers. It looked like balled up blue and red string wrapped in eye goo. But when she touched it gingerly with her fingertip, it felt hard, similar to rock or crystals. She turned off the water.

Not wanting to leave this cluster of strange unattended, she picked up the tweezers again and pinched the whole mess between the tips. Cupping her left hand underneath, she took it to a kitchen counter and turned on the overhead light.

Squinting her hazel eyes, she poked at the tiny mass with the tip of the tweezers, suddenly wishing she had another pair.

“What the hell are you…?” she muttered under her breath, trying to keep her breathing shallow so she wouldn’t accidentally exhale it away and lose it. She noted that her eye felt perfectly fine. A little sore, but not bad. She decided to get a toothpick from the silverware drawer and pinched the balled up fibers in the tips of the tweezers again. Just in case.

As she loosened the tweezers and brought the toothpick closer to the tear duct excretion, she watched the blue string she had pulled on stretch itself slowly toward the wood.

“No way,” she muttered, moving the wooden toothpick closer. She moved it left, then right… each time she moved it, the tiny string followed. She saw the red one poking out from the tangled mass, too, and she dropped the tweezers and the toothpick, stepping back and taking a deep breath as she cupped her hand over her mouth.

What is that?


Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Jennifer-Crystal Johnson, author of Fibers, to Room With Books!

And it’s my pleasure to be here! Thank you so much for interviewing me on your blog; I look forward to your questions. 🙂

Please tell us about yourself.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

I’ve wanted to be two things my entire life: a writer and a musician. Although music still plays a large part in my life and I look forward to composing and playing the piano again regularly at some point, right now I’m very focused on writing fiction and am hoping to earn enough money with my books to immerse myself in music again in the future.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing since I can remember and it always just came naturally. I have always loved reading, too, which is probably part of what inspired me to write, but I have a massive imagination and people have always told me that I’m good with words, so writing is one of my oldest and truest friends.

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

I have two jobs, actually; three if you count being a single mother of three. My job outside the home is one I just recently began (I hadn’t worked outside the home for almost 10 years) and is only part time. I work as a home care aide for a really awesome quadriplegic man, helping him get things done that he can’t do on his own. On top of this, I’m still a freelance writer, editor, and publisher, helping authors and business owners self-publish their books for a fee. Then of course there’s being a single mom of three wonderful kiddos and everything that entails: taking care of a household, cooking, cleaning, helping with homework, delegating chores, and being there for my kids when they have a problem or need some advice. 🙂

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Anna battles Morgellons disease and, inadvertently, an interdimensional conspiracy, wreaking havoc on her life… and our world.

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author. When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

I considered myself a writer in about third or fourth grade because that was when I started having ideas for original stories and writing them. When I was 12, I added journaling to my daily routine and I got my first freelance writing job online when I was 13. At that point, it wasn’t just me considering myself a writer – it was also an employer, which made it official. 😉

How long did it take to get your first book published?

My first book didn’t take long to get published at all, but I went with a publishing company that was on the Writer Beware list, which I didn’t find out until years later. It wasn’t a horrible experience for me, but it was discouraging and a bit disappointing, especially when I found out that it essentially wasn’t the real deal. After I left an abusive marriage around the same time the book was published, I didn’t give up – it just took me a few years to get back to seeing writing as a business and finish a sort of memoir about my experience with domestic violence (this is unpublished; it was more for therapy than anything else).

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

That all depends on how much time I can devote to writing and what type of book it is. Nonfiction such as personal development is fairly easy because I simply write my thoughts down – the outlining process is simple, factual, and practical. Poetry was always easy for me because it was simply another way of journaling (I don’t write poetry very often anymore, unfortunately, but I think that’s partially because I don’t journal enough), so I would go through my journals and see what I was comfortable publishing and what I wasn’t. Poetry is very personal to me… my soul on paper, that sort of thing. Fiction tends to be a little more difficult for me because I worry about forgetting an important detail or accidentally leaving holes in the plot, so I tend to do a number of revisions and re-evaluating of the draft before I feel comfortable even sending it to beta readers. Fibers took me five years; I’m hoping that the second book in the trilogy, Numbers, will only take me about a year or a year and a half. That’s the goal, anyway. 🙂

What can we expect from you in the future?

You can definitely expect more sci-fi conspiracy thrillers! Once I finish writing and publishing this trilogy, I already have another series in mind that was inspired by a dream I had. As a general rule, you can expect very unique, intelligent, and well-researched novels from me. 🙂

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

I absolutely love a strong female lead character, especially if they have to grow into their strength. However, in the Infiltration Trilogy, I’m not entirely certain who my favorite is yet because the story isn’t finished. We’ll see how everything turns out after the final book and then I’ll know which character I consider my favorite. 🙂

What is your routine for writing?

Right now I don’t have a set routine, and I generally don’t work well under strict scheduling (which is why I was never able to keep a job outside the home for longer than nine months or so). Let’s just say that the words, “free spirit,” tend to be used to describe me a lot, and this could be perceived as a wonderful or detrimental quality depending on whom you talk to about it. I tend to go through phases, so while I may write every single day for two or three hours for a few months, I may only write for clients for weeks or months after that. It all depends on what my client workload is, what I have going on with my family and other job, and whether I have the energy to write fiction or not. Sometimes not writing has opened doors for opportunities and knowledge that wouldn’t have been there if the timing hadn’t been perfect, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. 🙂

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

I tend to choose a title first that encompasses the premise or idea; then I start writing various different aspects of the idea down and working on the draft as I can. Nothing is set in stone, so things can always be changed or adjusted to fit the completed work; I’m open to that. However, I tend to have ideas and then the titles come to me, and oftentimes the titles themselves are key to remembering the premise of the whole story, at least in the outlining and drafting phase.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

Of course! What better way to illustrate a message than by telling a story as opposed to just stating an opinion? That doesn’t always mean that people will draw the same conclusions or even notice or understand the message, but it is there for those who like to get into discussions and conversations about various books and their concepts and ideas… as well as whether other people see things the same way or not.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I personally prefer paperback to any other type of book. The reasons are simple… paperbacks give you a physical, solid overview of what’s there and I can mark and dog-ear pages for whatever purpose, highlight important parts, and write notes in margins fairly easily. When I really, fully read a book, I tend to be completely immersed and people to discuss certain parts of it may come to mind, so I like to be able to mark my place(s) and jot down ideas. I know there are many people who would consider this an abuse of books, but as someone who has used and abused and studied my own journals for emotional healing and therapy, I like to absolutely know that the book has served its purpose for me, whether that be entertainment, learning, or otherwise. Besides… a few “scars” and coffee stains add character. 😉 My books wind up perfectly imperfect and proudly damaged, just like me. Nobody can say that those books haven’t lived a full life.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

I cannot say that I have a single favorite book; however, there are two that rank at the very top and have for a long time: Phantom by Susan Kay and Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. I’ve read both of these books at least three or four times, and they’re my favorites because they’re very interesting to me. Phantom is the life story of the incredible man behind the mask (Phantom of the Opera) from birth to death and all of the adversity and hardship he had to endure and overcome before becoming the Phantom of the Opera. Lost Souls has many characters whose stories are sad but adventurous and breathtaking, and I love being reminded that, despite whatever cruelties life may throw at you, it’s still beautiful and worth living to the fullest, even if your choices aren’t always perfect or you go through a period of pain.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

Absolutely! They’ve all been positive for Fibers, but if readers say anything negative – especially if it’s said by more than one – I take it into consideration for future books if I can. No one is perfect, and if I can use what I’m told to learn from it and improve my writing, then I consider it an honest gift from readers. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to do at first, so I had to learn to take criticism gracefully… but I’m not one to be ashamed of little mistakes. 😉

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

Sounds awesome; let’s do it. 🙂

What is your favorite food? Oh, I love a lot of different kinds of food… sushi is definitely in my top five, along with salade nicoise with either tuna or salmon, teriyaki, and grilled tri-tip steak, shrimp, schnitzel, and corn on the cob. 🙂 Cooking is a very therapeutic hobby for me and it’s also productive, so I love making great food for my family.

Who is your favorite singer or group? I definitely can’t choose just one here, either, because I go through phases and adore a lot of different types of music… I will say that NIN helped me through a lot of struggles in life when I was younger, so Trent Reznor will always have a special place in my heart. I also absolutely love Imogen Heap and have been following her music since I was about 12 or 13. Currently, I like listening to Rob Thomas, Imogen Heap, Celldweller, Ellie Goulding, Mumford & Sons, Skrillex, and a few others. I have a couple of Pandora stations that get a LOT of play, and all of these artists are included. 🙂

What is your favorite color? Purple. Burgundy comes in at a very close second, but pretty much any shade of purple is a purple I love.

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? Anywhere with water… oceans, lakes, rivers, I just adore water. Can’t swim well at all, but I love the water!

What final words would you offer to our readers?

Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my sci-fi conspiracy thriller series, buying & reading it, and showing such awesome support for authors! It is absolutely appreciated, and I hope to see you again next week at the next tour stop. 🙂

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your book. I hope you will come back again!



Meet the Author

Jennifer-Crystal Johnson is originally from Germany, but was raised an Army brat. She has published one novella under her former last name, The Outside Girl: Perception is Reality (Publish America, 2005 – out of print as of 2013), a poetry book, Napkin Poetry (Broken Publications, 2010), and a collection of poetry, art, and prose called Strangers with Familiar Faces (Broken Publications, 2011). She’s also published a collection of short creature horror stories called If You’re Human Don’t Open the Door (Broken Publications, 2012), a personal development book called The Ten Pillars of a Happy Relationship (Broken Publications, 2014), and a collection of more horror stories (no creatures this time, just people) called Our Capacity for Evil (Broken Publications, 2015). She has several poems and short stories published on Every Writer’s Resource and has recently published a science fiction novel called Fibers, the first book in the Infiltration Trilogy. Jen owns and operates Broken Publications ( and publishes an annual anthology to raise awareness about domestic violence called Soul Vomit ( When she isn’t writing or editing, she enjoys playing games with her three kids, watching crime shows on Netflix, or reading. She lives in WA State with her three children, three cats, and a crazy puppy named Thor.

Connect With the Author


Video excerpts – watch the author read!



The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This Madness of the Heart Book Tour @blair-yeatts @GoddessFish

This Madness of the Heart

by Blair Yeatts


VBT_ThisMadnessOfTheHeart_Banner copy


GENRE: gothic mystery/thriller


HELLO! ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please leave comments!


About the Book

Bad religion can be deadly. So Miranda Lamden, small-town religion professor, discovers in This Madness of the Heart. The dark hollers of Eastern Kentucky offer fertile soil for shady evangelist Jasper Jarboe, new president of Grace and Glory Bible College, as he beguiles the small mining town of Canaan Wells with his snake-oil charm. When Miranda isn’t teaching at Obadiah Durham College, she’s investigating paranormal phenomena—or enjoying a turbulent romantic relationship with backwoods artist Jack Crispen. JJ’s inquisition-style gospel has alienated her long since, but when he announces his plan to transform her forest home into an evangelical Mecca, complete with neon cross and 40-foot Jesus, Miranda girds her loins for war. But JJ isn’t finished: he goes on to launch an attack on her friend and fellow professor Djinn Baude with an avalanche of vicious rumors. Not only does he accuse Djinn of demonic communion with the old Voudon witch whose curse killed the college’s founding family, but he also smears her with insinuations of lechery and vice. With JJ’s urging, hate boils over into violence and tragedy, sweeping Miranda up in its flood. One death follows another as a miasma of evil overwhelms the tiny community, and only Miranda can see clearly enough to halt its spread. This Madness of the Heart is the first in a new series of Gothic mystery-thrillers featuring Professor Miranda Lamden, whose spiritual gifts have drawn her beyond university walls to explore the mysteries of other world beliefs. Her unique vision brings her into repeated confrontations with evil, where too often she finds herself standing alone between oblivious onlookers and impending disaster.

Purchase Links

This Madness of the Heart e-book will be free during the tour.






The night turned around her, until, in the darkest watches before dawn, she rose from her knees, abandoning the bloody altar with its guttering candles. A queen entranced, she paced slowly down the hill toward the sleeping house, her eyes blind with visions. Through the front door she walked, into the hall’s center, to the foot of the great staircase. There she raised her bloody hands and cried aloud in a high-pitched wail, sinking at last to a low hissing hum.

“Guede-z-araignee! Come a-hungered! Drink di lifeblood o’ dis evil man! Drink he mem’ry away! Tak he woman int’ di night, Tak’ he chillun, tak’ dem all! Tak’ dem int’ di darkness! Tak’ dem all—tak’ dey lives, tak’ dey bodies, tak’ dey souls! Gi di blood o’ di murderer no rest, not in dis life, not in di next. Spill dey blood on dis bloody land! Come, Guede-z-araignee! Come an’ drink!”

Like a snake swaying on its coils, a tendril of smoke emerged from the darkness, swelling and growing, rising and twisting toward the upper floors of the plantation house. Tiny rainbow-hued flames licked at the polished floor. Then, with a screaming roar, fire like a spider’s bloated body engulfed the great hall, swallowing the keening woman and gathering the curving staircase to its tumid breast. A billowing inferno exploded into the long upper halls, curling and crisping the fine imported wood, sealing bedroom doors with sucking flame, feeding on the agonized cries within: a holocaust offered to a vengeful deity, sated at last with the charring bodies of the landowner’s family… the whole family, save one, a tiny boychild, carried sleeping from his father’s house by an old black nurse, terrified by the fiery havoc she had witnessed in her dreams.


Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Blair Yeatts, author of This Madness of the Heart, Room With Books! Hello, Blair! Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a retired college professor, with special interests in unusual religious/paranormal phenomena and how/why people have these experiences. I live with my husband, two cats, and a dog in wooded hill country near the Appalachian Trail, where I walk 2 miles every morning before I start to write. I come from an academic Virginia family, but I was born and raised in Kentucky—which is where This Madness of the Heart is rooted. The next two books in the Miranda Lamden series also take place in the Kentucky/Tennessee hill country. I love wild forests and mountains—and deserts, too—partly because in their silence I sometimes think I can hear the voices of an Earth far more ancient than the muffled presence most of us know.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes and no! LOL When I was just six years old I used to make up stories about my collection of little stuffed animals, which I was invited to share with other primary students in my grade school: that might be an early clue. But I don’t recall saying, “I want to be a writer!” I do remember saying “I want to be a cowgirl!” (grade school) . . . “a park ranger!” (middle school) . . . “an ambassador!” (high school) . . . and then finally “a professor of religion!” (graduate school). I stuck with that last one for quite a while before I started to write.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to write?

If you don’t count my dissertation, I started to write about 25 years ago. I’d finished my degree and decided that I wanted to take some time off and make sense of my life with an autobiography. I wrote like a maniac for a year or so. I even got a grant to pay for my expenses. All I can say is that I’m immensely grateful that none of the hundred or so queries I wrote bore fruit! It was an appalling book, and I would have been mortified to have it in print. The lessons we learn in life . . . But the many rewrites I did of that book taught me a lot about hands-on writing, so when I finally got around to really writing, I had some idea what I was doing.

Do you have a job in addition to writing?

I taught college-level religion for a number of years, as well as doing first-hand research into obscure religious phenomena, along with some consulting work. I have that much in common with the main character of This Madness of the Heart. But the similarities mostly stop there. I enjoyed teaching, but not enough to put in the long hours for little pay with mostly unmotivated students. Creating a semester’s lectures is a huge amount of work, and if you use the same set of lectures over and over again, it’s deadly boring, which left me faced with more huge piles of work. I didn’t like my choices. Since teaching as a day job didn’t pay much anyway, switching to writing (which I dearly love) was a no-brainer.

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Appalachian religion professor Miranda Lamden explores bad religion and paranormal phenomena in a hair-raising new gothic thriller.

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

First of all, I need to say that “Blair Yeatts” is a pen name. I’ve published three books already (with a fourth in the works) under a different name in a different genre. I wanted to branch out from the genre I’d begun with, and I decided that my readers might be alienated by a drastic switch, so I chose a pen name . . . I guess I really began to think of myself as a writer when I published my first book, and people bought it!

How long did it take to get your first book published?

As I mentioned above, I tried to go the traditional route with my autobiography 25 years ago. I set myself a goal of 50 queries to publishers and 50 to agents before giving up, which I met, and then gave up. Madness is actually the next book I wrote—while I was teaching—but for many reasons I set it aside without trying to publish it. In part I sensed that I was too personally engaged and needed to give it some space before even considering publication. That was a good call. It’s pretty much an entirely different book now than when I first wrote it. Then when I finally settled down to serious writing, about 10 years ago, I decided that self-publishing was the way to go, so I had very little difficulty. Learning the formatting and publicity skills were the biggest challenges.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

I’d say 9 months to a year. I consider a book a good length if it comes in at somewhere from 70,000 to 90,000 words. That takes a while, and I do my own (obsessive) editing. Of course, some books are less obliging than others!

What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

I plan to continue with the Miranda Lamden Mysteries for some time. I have drafts already completed for books 2 and 3 (Blood on Holy Ground, and The Gorge Runs Red—possible title). I’m doing edits on Holy Ground now and hope to have it out by the fall. I think each book is better than the last, as they should be!

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

I think my favorite character from Madness is Elmus Rooksby, the aging pastor of a small holiness church in the hollers of Appalachia, and the founder of a small college that has been taken over by the book’s villain, Jasper Jarboe, DD. It’s very difficult to create a “good” character (as in virtuous, kind, loving, etc.) without making him smarmy, or weak, or boring. I think I succeeded with Elmus. He’s a passionate man, driven by his faith, yet truly loving toward other human beings. He struggles with rage and hate in the face of JJ’s appalling nastiness, but he finds a way to deal with himself—and JJ—without descending into the sewer. He comes through as a wily and righteous man without self-righteousness . . . which in my experience is a very rare thing.

What is your routine for writing?

I have my own office, with cats, in my home. I sit at my Mac, often with a cat in my lap trying to help, and tap away. I write every available minute for as long as the muse is working—and when she shuts down, I work on the other stuff. But what, you might ask, is “every available minute”? Well, it means after I’ve walked my mile or two and had enough coffee to be conscious . . . but before I start nodding out over the keyboard in midafternoon. It’s in between household chores and bills, errands and cat-box cleaning, and time invested with my husband. So, for real? Four – five hours early in the day and two – three in the evening, unless I’m really on a roll, and then everything gets jettisoned, including the husband and the cat boxes.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

The title definitely comes later. I’ll start jotting down possibles as I write, so by the time the first draft is done, I usually have a firm “maybe.” Like the 3rd book, The Gorge Runs Red. That’s only a possible, because I know I still have time to mess around with it.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

I’d say no. I don’t like morals or messages in fiction. I truly dislike being preached at. My characters often have opinions and beliefs, and they live by them, and at times my opinions are obvious. But they’re not hidden.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I’m a Luddite, I fear: I like the feel of a printed book in my hands—hardback or paper doesn’t matter, although I might have slight bias toward paper, because they’re lighter. I enjoy the musty smell of well-thumbed pages. I like to be able to close the book and look at the cover. And best of all, I like to be able to handle it without it running out of battery juice, or having it fling me into some alternate universe because I tapped the wrong part of its little electronic torso.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

Everyone always asks that question, and I never know how to answer it. I’m terrible about “favorite” questions. Do I like raspberries or strawberries better? I don’t know—they’re different. Blue or green? Ditto. I guess I’ll go out on a limb and pick my favorite recent read (this year). Since I’ve already read it three times, I guess it qualifies: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Paladin of Souls. It’s not new, but it was new to me. She wrote about a woman in midlife, which was a plus for me. I went through enough teenage angst of my own without seeking it out in my reading. I loved her concept of deity: the four common faces of godhead—Mother, Father, Son, Maiden—plus the Bastard who picked up all the broken leftovers. But best of all I liked her description of the main character’s relationship to deity, specifically the Bastard: it was earthy and painful and unpredictable, without formula or neatness—yet ecstatic and earth-shattering and healing. Of course, Bujold threw in numbers of rampaging barbarians, demons, sorcerers, and undead to keep the reader on her toes. It was a fantasy, after all. I loved it. I wish she’d stop writing science fiction and write more books like the Chalion series.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

Yes, for better or worse. I know many authors don’t, but I want to know what people are saying. What puzzles me is why so many people who write to me to tell me how they love a book don’t write a review that anyone else can see!  I suspect readers don’t realize how crucial reviews are to self-published authors. Without a huge corporate name commanding high-visibility reviews, self-published authors really need reader reviews (especially if they’re good!)

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

What is your favorite food? Ah, more favorite questions! The fun never stops. OK, I got it: Shaker lemon pie with lots of rind and lemon juice! Fresh-caught fried cod is right up there, too.

Who is your favorite singer or group? Sting, definitely, but I miss his older-style releases. I enjoyed Symphonicities and The Last Ship, but not like I did Sacred Love.

What is your favorite color? Teal, or blue-green

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? A camping trip in Utah’s high desert in spring.

What final words would you offer to our readers?

I’d like to hear from you! If you enjoy Miranda, let me know!

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books, Blair. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your books. I hope you will come back again!



Meet the Author

Blair Yeatts grew up in the midst of a large, old southern Virginia family, much like the family of her main character. She followed her parents into a career in academia and taught religion at the college level in Kentucky for many years. Her special areas of expertise are psychology and Earth-based religions, in which she has done considerable research.

From childhood, Ms. Yeatts has been a fan of mystery fiction, starting with Nancy Drew and moving through Agatha Christie to twentieth century giants like Dorothy L. Sayers, P.D. James, and Nevada Barr. She is fulfilling a life’s dream in writing her own mysteries.

Ms. Yeatts shares her home with her photographer husband, two cats, and a dog. She has a lifelong love of wild nature, and prefers to set her stories in rural areas, where threads of old spiritual realities still make themselves felt. Her first three books take place in different parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Connect With the Author



Twitter:  @blair-yeatts






Blair Yeatts will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Homicide in the House Virtual Book Tour @cshogan276 @GoddessFish

Homicide in the House

by Colleen J. Shogan


VBT_HomicideInTheHouse_Banner copy


ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please leave comments!


GENRE: Cozy Mystery


About the Book

During a government shutdown, Kit’s congresswoman boss is found standing over the dead body of a top staffer she tangled with in front of the press. The police are about to name her as the prime suspect. The weapon was the Speaker’s gavel, an item entrusted to the congresswoman the previous night. The killer knows Kit is on the case. Can she solve the mystery in time to save her job and her life?




Smartphones are great time wasters. I fiddled with various apps as I waited. The next level of “Angry Birds” was within my grasp when I heard footsteps and voices across the hallway. I got up and stood in the doorway to greet my boss.

From the look on her face, she was not pleased. She charged like a linebacker to the exit of the Speaker’s lair with Jack Drysdale on her heels.

“Stop, Congresswoman Dixon. You’re not listening to reason!” From behind, Drysdale placed his hand on Maeve’s left shoulder in an attempt to prevent her from leaving the suite.

Maeve had impressive reflexes. She turned her body toward him and grabbed his wrist with her right hand. “Don’t touch me! Is this how the Speaker’s staff treat members of the House?” Her voice was loud and filled with vitriol.

The gaggle of reporters who had been relaxing inside the anteroom trailed behind me. This was better than a boring pen and pad session. One of them murmured, “I think that’s Dixon from North Carolina.”

This was not a good development, but Maeve didn’t know that the press had a front row seat to her implosion.

Maeve clutched Drysdale’s wrist for several seconds until she let it go. Apparently her physical assault didn’t intimidate him. He ran ahead and stopped directly in front of her.

Stretching his arms out wide to slow her down, Jack made his last stand. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have done that. Please come back in the office so we can sort this out. You’re a valuable part of this caucus and the Speaker wants to work with you on this deal.”

Maeve shook her head. “You guys in House leadership are typical politicians. You can’t take no for an answer. I’m not ready to make a decision. Now get out of my way.”

Unmoving, Drysdale locked eyes with Maeve. She didn’t look away and squared her shoulders. I could almost feel the tension around me as the reporters anxiously waited for the outcome. What was Maeve going to do? Knee him in the groin if he didn’t back down?

After a moment that seemed like an eternity, Drysdale gave in and stepped aside. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and hurried into the hallway to catch up with her. As we exited the corridor, I glanced back to the doorway where I’d been standing. Every reporter was on his or her phone, ostensibly calling in the most salacious story of the shutdown thus far. A junior member of Congress and the Speaker’s top aide had nearly come to blows in the Capitol. A high school reporter could make that story fly.


Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Colleen J. Shogan, author of Homicide in the House, to Room With Books!

Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Colleen Shogan and I’m a part-time writer. My “day job” is at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. I’m a political scientist by training, and formerly worked in the United States Senate. I live in Arlington, Virginia with my husband and rescue beagle mutt, Conan.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, but fiction is a fairly recent enterprise for me. As a political scientist, I’ve mostly written nonfiction, including a book on the presidency. I always knew I wanted to be involved with politics. It makes sense that as a fiction writer, I pen books with politics as the backdrop.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing fiction for four years now. I went for a walk one day in my suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood and conceived of the story for my first book, Stabbing in the Senate. I went home and told my husband about it. He said, “You have to write that book!” So I did. That’s how the Washington Whodunit series began.

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

I’m a senior executive at the Library of Congress. I work in our outreach division, which is responsible for many of the Library’s public programs. It’s a terrific job. I get to work on initiatives such as the National Book Festival, the Center for the Book, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Library’s exhibits program, the Kluge Center for Scholars, and our Visitor Services operation. There’s never a dull day!

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Kit Marshall, now working in the House of Representatives, must save her new boss’s political career when she’s accused of murder.

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author. When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

I’ve been a writer for a long time. Perhaps when I published my first book on the presidency in 2006. Every job I’ve ever held involved writing. If a day goes by and I haven’t written anything, I consider it not a productive day.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

My first fiction book took a while. After I finished the draft, I worked with an editor to improve it. Then I joined an online review group. When I was satisfied with it, I searched for an agent. Once I found an agent, she had to find a publisher. The whole process of securing a publisher probably took about two years.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

I’m currently writing the third book in the series and I’m almost done with the first draft. This one took me about nine months to write, which isn’t too bad considering I only write for short intervals most evenings and then on the weekends.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I plan to write more books in the Washington Whodunit series. I have ideas for several more stories with these characters. They’re popular and people enjoy them, so if I can keep coming up with interesting premises for mysteries, I will keep writing.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

My main character Kit is probably my favorite, but I most enjoy writing about Meg, her best friend. Meg is very unpredictable. You never know what she’s going to say or do. She also tries to get Kit to misbehave. She’s like a devil sitting on her shoulder.

What is your routine for writing?

In the evening, I will write for about an hour. I come home from work, get into comfortable clothes, give my dog Conan a treat, and then try to write. On the weekends, I always have coffee when I’m writing in the morning.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

I always choose the title before I write the book.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

There’s no hidden partisan agenda in my book. The only message is that people who work in government in Washington, D.C. usually want to do the right thing for our country. Politics gets a bad rap these days, and there are many reasons why we don’t always see good results. But that doesn’t mean those who work for our government aren’t trying their best. I hope the books convey that positive theme.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I read almost all books on my Kindle these days. I love being able to buy a book at any time on my iPhone, computer, or iPad and then immediately enjoy it later on my device. I’m at the point now where I don’t enjoy reading in paper as much, unless I’m marking up a book because I’m doing research for something at work.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

Absolutely. You have to be honest about your writing. Honest feedback is important in any job. But sometimes critics are needlessly negative and picky. The scene in Academy Award winner “Birdman” in which Michael Keaton goes off on a critic is legendary! All frustrated writers should keep that scene burned in their brains.

That’s enough of the serious business.

How about a handful of fun questions?

What is your favorite food? Pizza.

Who is your favorite singer or group? Poison. I love Bret Michaels!

What is your favorite color? Red.

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? We love going to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. But I’d really like to see Ireland and Scotland someday.

What final words would you offer to our readers?

We’re in the midst of a very negative political season. Homicide in the House might be the brightest spot of the summer!

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with Homicide in the House. I hope you will come back again!



Meet the Author

Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She writes the Washington Whodunit series published by Camel Press. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.

Connect With the Author

Twitter @cshogan276

Website ~~ Facebook

Amazon ~~ Goodreads



Colleen J. Shogan will be awarding a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Friend of the Devil Virtual Book Tour @GoddessFish

Friend of the Devil

by Mark Spivak


VBT_FriendOfTheDevil_Banner copy


ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please leave comments!


GENRE: Thriller (Culinary)


About the Book

In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, cut a deal with the Devil to achieve fame and fortune. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe. Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.




He perused Chateau de la Mer’s large and mostly incomprehensible menu. Changed every few weeks, handwritten in Avenzano’s elaborate cursive before being photocopied, it closely resembled an annotated Medieval manuscript. Finally, he acceded to the staff’s offer to prepare a tasting menu for him, accompanied by the appropriate wines.

He was presented with a sculpture of dried vegetables in the shape of a bird’s nest, filled with a combination of wild mushrooms and chopped truffles, bathed in an intensely reduced demi-glaze. The carrots, zucchini and peppers had been cut into paper-thin strips, intertwined and allowed to dry, yet retained a surprising intensity of flavor.

He consumed a dish of tomato, basil and egg noodles, bathed in a light cream sauce, perfumed with fresh sage and studded with veal sweetbreads.

He ate an astonishing dish of butter-poached lobster, remarkably sweet and perfectly underdone, flavored with sweet English peas and garnished with a ring of authentic Genoese pesto.

He was served a slice of Avenzano’s signature Bedouin-stuffed poussin—a turkey stuffed with a goose, in turn stuffed with a duckling, in turn stuffed with a poussin, or baby chicken, with a core of truffled foie gras at its center, covered with an Etruscan sauce of chopped capers,

raisins and pine nuts. This dish had been the source of much controversy over the years, since it bore a close resemblance to a Louisiana terducken. It predated the terducken, however, and was supposedly inspired by a creation first served to the French royal court. For good measure, Avenzano had added influences from the cuisine of the Middle East.


Author Q&A

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?

The one that intrigues me the most is bilocation, or the ability to be in two places at once. It’s a multitasker’s dream, and would definitely save a great deal of time.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

I’m painfully shy, to the point of being antisocial. I also hate public speaking, even though I do a lot of it and have become proficient over the years.

When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?

If I don’t start with a mental concept of what the character looks like, I allow the action to define him or her and fill in the physical description later on, after I have a grip on the character’s behavior.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I definitely fly by the seat of my pants. I prefer to let the story tell itself. This is far more exciting and much more fun, but also dangerous—if you’re not sure where you’re headed in terms of plot, the story can easily blow up in your face.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what?

I learned a great deal about the nature of spirituality: how people define it and experience it, and how to cope with many of the inherent contradictions in the quest for a spiritual life. Obviously this journey is different for everyone, but just as obviously you never really know what you believe until those beliefs are challenged.



Meet the Author

Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on He is the holder of the Certificate and Advanced diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Mark’s work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. He is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). His first novel, Friend of the Devil, is published by Black Opal Books.

Connect With the Author




Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Author Page Link



One randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Pull Up A Chair With Author Karen Welch @welchkaren1

June 10 2016


It is my pleasure to welcome author Karen Welch to Room With Books. Karen has graciously, and painstakingly, answered a plethora of questions to give our readers an opportunity to get to know her better!

Karen, please tell us about yourself.

Welch - 09I’m a Virginia native. I was born in Richmond and spent most of my childhood in rural Amelia County, where my family originally settled in the early 1700’s. Needless to say the roots there are deep! While I will always consider that part of the world my home, most of my adult life has been spent in North Florida and in Southeast Kansas, which is where I am now. I have two children, now with families of their own. My husband and I live in a 120-year-old house in a small town, enjoying the relative quiet of retirement—the perfect environment for an introverted writer to ply her trade!

Please tell us your latest news?

I’ve just finished a serial novella, All That Glitters, and I’m still working on the second book in the Welcome to Walnut Lodge Series.  There are plenty of other ideas in the pipeline, but I do best working on one thing at a time.

When and why did you begin writing?

I must have started “writing” at about age 10, but I finally got serious at the end of my 50’s, when it occurred to me that I only had a couple decades left to get the job done. I was always going to be a “writer” because the ideas floating around in my head intrigued me enough that I wanted to see them on paper. I never gave any thought to who else might see what I’d written. I just wanted to write the stories so I could see how they ended. Now, sharing them provides me with a bonus thrill I never anticipated back when I was just scribbling my stories in notebooks for my own amusement.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until I began to hear response from readers of my first book. I was reluctant to put myself in that exalted position until I realized my work had moved someone else enough for them to reach out to me. I still find it a little bit surreal when I see a review or open an email from a reader. They consider me a writer without question, so I guess that means I must be doing my job right.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Heats UnfoldThis goes straight back to the when and why of writing. I had a number of ideas sketched in my mind and when I sat down to write, what became Hearts Unfold seemed to be at the front of the queue.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I always start with “What if?” Then I try to let the story tell itself through the eyes of the characters. I’m a “pantser,” so many times I’m surprised by the way things unfold, but I try to resist manipulating a story for the sake of genre or style. I suppose I’m a storyteller, much like my grandmothers, who both loved to tell long, detailed stories about people they’d known and places they’d seen. That tradition is sadly dying in our faster paced present, so for those of us who write in that tradition there is a responsibility to keep it alive.

How did you come up with the title?

Shannon's DaughterThat varies. Sometimes I know the title first—such as with Shannon’s Daughter—but more typically the title comes from something significant that emerges as I write. For instance, I used quotes from hymns and scriptures for the titles of the Valley Rise series because they appeared somewhere in the stories.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?

Again, that varies depending on the story. The Valley Rise books are clearly about the transforming power of love. The Walnut Lodge books seem to have a “second chance” message. I don’t start out with the idea of conveying a message, but it often turns out there is one theme that stands out by the time I’m done.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There is definitely something of my life experience in what I write. I’ve lived long enough and known enough people to have gathered quite a few ideas and impressions. I often use places I’ve visited as inspiration for locations, and music I love plays a role in many of my stories. Most of my characters are purely fictional, but they often have some small part of a real person at their core. For example, the character of Bernard Silverman, the famous conductor who appears in the Valley Rise books and Shannon’s Daughter, is based rather obviously on Leonard Bernstein, who had a great influence on my love of music. The only time I’ve come close to writing about a personal experience is in Katie Lost and FoundKatie Lost and Found. I did travel to Europe and meet a very nice young Dutchman, who is the obvious inspiration for Peter, but the story is otherwise a work of fiction.

What books have influenced your life most?

It would be impossible to name a few specific titles. I’d rather say that reading everything I could get my hands on as a girl, from Alcott to Hemingway to PG Wodehouse, as well as lots and lots of historical fiction, influenced my love of a well-told story. I still read constantly and believe firmly that a writer must not only put words on paper, but fill her mind with as many words and images as possible to keep the imagination fueled.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d probably say Jan Karon. When I read the Mitford series, I was impressed with her personal story as well as her work. It’s never too late to change course and follow your dream.

What book are you reading now?

I’ve just finished reading An Echo in the Bone, the seventh book Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?

I’ve enjoyed sampling the work of Indie authors. There’s a lot of good writing out there.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on the second novel in the Walnut Lodge series, which focuses on a couple who were close friends in high school but lost touch for many years. When they meet up again in their hometown, the old attraction is still there, but their current responsibilities and life experiences make rekindling the relationship a bit tricky. Never fear, there’s always a happy ending at Walnut Lodge!

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Early on I shared my work with a couple of friends who convinced me that I should keep going. I knew they would be honest with me, brutally if necessary, so I took them at their word.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No, I don’t think so. It doesn’t pay to rehash once you’ve published. Better to move on to the next project and hope to improve with each work.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My father was an aspiring writer. He died when I was very young and I expect I wished that I’d inherited something of his gift.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Sure! This is from Where We Left Off—Welcome to Walnut Lodge Book Two

“So, how did things go with my sister?”

Jeff avoided Cami’s expectant gaze, wondering how best to answer. Even he was smart enough to recognize, from the moment Cami casually mentioned Connie for the job, that Mitchell sister number two was up to her old tricks. They might be co-workers now at the Lodge but Cami would always seem more like a little sister to him. They’d shared a lot in the past, much of it too hard and deep for a couple of teenagers to share without bonding them beyond friendship.

“Well, if the goal was to find a sitter for Mother, it went great. Connie starts next week. If you’re asking whether we did more than talk about the job, not really.”

“Come on, Jeff. Be patient with her. She’s been through hell and back since the two of you were close. Connie’s leery of opening up to anybody, even her family. Give her a chance to get to know you again.”

“I hear you, Cami. But there’s not much gain in ‘getting to know me’ now. You’d have better luck putting your matchmaking skills to work on old Cyril here.” He nodded toward the Lodge’s resident mascot, a white muzzled Pomeranian who shared his shift most nights. Currently Cyril was performing what he considered his primary duty. Curled in his bed, he was snoring softly into the elegant golden plume of his tail, the occasional twitch of an ear the only sign he was following the conversation.

“I’m not match making, I’m just trying to help two people I care about. But I think it’s exciting. I mean I’m sorry your mother’s condition is the reason, but putting the two of you in the same place day after day, that’s a good thing. You’ll see. Connie needs a friend who remembers what she used to be like, who doesn’t walk on eggshells around her.”

“Is that what you girls do, walk on eggshells? That doesn’t sound like the Mitchell sisters I remember. You guys were brutal.”

“We tend to take it easy on Connie now. She never mentions her marriage. It’s like if she doesn’t talk about it, it never happened.”

“What about Lily? Doesn’t she talk about her father?”

“No. Never. I guess they talk about him with Lily’s therapist, but never in front of us.”

He thought for a moment, sorting what he knew from what he was willing to reveal. “That’s rough. I’m sorry it’s taking so long for them to move on.”

“That’s why I say Connie needs to be around people who really knew her before. And you knew her better than anybody. Maybe better than we did.” Cami shot him a challenging look, one he couldn’t ignore. “Think back, Jeff. You and Connie were always together, from the time you moved here. You remember what she was like, so optimistic, so determined. Now it’s more like she’s pushing a big rock up a steep hill, just waiting for it to roll back on her. And the worst part is, she seems to think when it does, she deserves to be crushed.”

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding time to write, pushing aside all the other responsibilities in my day to just sit down at the computer, seems to be my biggest challenge. I’ve recently become the fulltime caregiver for my husband, so changing the focus from that level of activity to the internal work of writing is difficult. I’m slowly finding the discipline to do that, but it’s definitely a change from the way I worked when I first started writing.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I’d have to say Hemingway because of the clarity of his writing. He doesn’t merely paint a picture with words. He takes a photograph.

Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

It isn’t necessary, but I would love to get out to more writers’ conferences and do more signings. Unfortunately, my current situation doesn’t allow for that, but perhaps in the future I’ll be able to meet more readers and other writers face to face.

What is the hardest part of writing a book?

Knowing when to stop revising. There will always be a better word or phrase, so you just have to say “good enough” once the story’s told, and stop agonizing.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I’ve learned a lot of things. I suppose the most important is to trust my instincts. I set out in the beginning to write a book I wanted to read. If I’ve done that, I now know there are others who will feel the same about it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Do it! Whether you set out to find a publisher or to self-publish, write, rewrite, let someone you trust read your work and then get it out there. We live in a very exciting time when the industry is going through so many positive changes. Take advantage of them!

Do you remember the first book you read?

No, but I remember the first book I couldn’t put down was Little Women. I read it over and over until my mother finally made me find something else to read because I was constantly crying over certain parts of the story. I guess you could say it really grabbed me!

What makes you laugh or cry?

The same things can do both—children, dogs, my husband, a good book, a good movie, music. It changes as I get older, but I’d much rather laugh than cry.

Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?

There are many! I guess I’ll have to go with the first to come to mind. I’d love to meet George Harrison. I was crazy for him as a teenager and then so inspired by him later in life.

Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

I love to garden. I enjoy cooking. I take great pleasure in restoring old houses and furniture. Like writing, they can all feel like work at times, but unlike the writing, they are done simply for my personal satisfaction.

What TV shows or films do you enjoy watching?

I don’t watch much TV, mainly a few programs on PBS, but I’m currently obsessed with the Outlander series on STARZ. I enjoy historical films, mysteries, and occasionally a good tearjerker love story.

What is your favorite food, color and music?

Anything baked—bread, cake, muffins. Yellow. Classical.

If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?


Do you have a blog or website? If so what is it?

The address for Lost in the Plains is My blog about writing, life, and anything else that comes to mind.

You can find out all about my books and other things at my Amazon Author Page.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to our readers?


Thank you, Karen, for spending so much time helping me by pulling up a chair with us on Room With Books! I hope you’ll come back in the future with more answers to questions and books to read!


Meet the AuthorWelch - 09Karen Welch was born in Richmond, Virginia and grew up in nearby Amelia County, where her family had originally settled in the 1720’s.  After a twenty-year sojourn in North Florida, she now resides in Southeast Kansas with husband John, a cocker spaniel named Raleigh and an eccentric calico cat who on occasion answers to Patches.  Her long delayed writing career began in 2012 with the publication of her first novel, Hearts Unfold.  This inspirational romance quickly grew into the Miracle at Valley Rise series with the release of Entreat Me Not, Heart of My Own Heart and Offered for Love in the following year.  Karen is also the author of the holiday novella, Christmas at Valley Rise, and Shannon’s Daughter, a romance set in the mid-twentieth century revolving around one of the characters in the series. In August 2014 her new series Welcome to Walnut Lodge premiered with the release of Katie Lost and Found.

Contact Karen at, find her on Facebook at, follow her blog Lost in the Plains at and follow her on Twitter @welchkaren1.


All That Glitters coverKaren has compiled a 40-week serial novella, published on her blog Lost in the Plains, into her latest offering as ALL THAT GLITTERS. It is a novella of approximately 60,000 words.


Max Evans is at the top. Labeled the Blonde Adonis, he’s idolized by millions around the world for his golden voice and his blonde good looks. He might be every woman’s dream, but for rising TV journalist Lucinda Cramer, he’s a troublesome glitch in her already complicated schedule. Filming a documentary about a pop idol on tour is hardly the kind of hard hitting assignment Lucy longs for, and the timing of the job couldn’t be worse. With her private life full of responsibilities and the shadow of a past tragedy looming over her family, the last thing she has time for is trailing after a pampered celebrity. Two weeks on a tour bus is plenty of time for Lucy and Max to discover that first impressions can’t always be trusted and second chances are never too late.

Hand Over Fist Virtual Book Tour @mikerosswriter @GoddessFish

Hand Over Fist

by Michael Ross


VBT_HandOverFist_Banner copy


ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments.


GENRE: Thriller


About the Book

When an old friend disappears, Martin learns nothing is what it seems… Martin Russell can barely face the future. With dismal life prospects and an estranged family, he is at the end of his rope. When an old friend, Hannah, elbows her way back into his life, Martin’s luck begins to turn around. Hidden within the shadows of evil, there must be some good…

Ex-policeman Bobby Tanner lost everything one rage-filled night. Now he runs a reading group for alcoholics where he meets a young drug dealer, Zack, who disturbs him in a way that’s hard to define. Bobby soon discovers the teenager is in over his head and has been dealing with a despicable individual known as The Chemist.

The roots of evil run deeper than we imagine…

Martin’s lucky streak begins to unravel when Hannah suddenly goes missing, and he turns to a friend of a friend, Bobby, for help. Thrust into an underworld empire of corruption and half-truths, he learns his friend may not be who he thought she was.

In a shadowed world of deception, stalkers, and despicable drug dealers, Bobby and Martin must uncover the truth, and fast…

Several lives depend on it.




“Good morning. L & J Windows. How can I re-direct your call?”

“Hi. Can I speak to John please?”

“Which department is John in, please?”

“Sorry. John Staples.”

“Is Mr. Staples expecting your call, sir?”

It had been hard enough dialling the number, and at that point, Martin seriously thought about putting down the phone, but he managed a garbled response. “My name’s Martin Russell. I used to know John quite well. We were friends.”

Her tone made it clear that she was looking forward to advising him that Mr. Staples was otherwise engaged. “I will see if Mr. Staples will take your call, sir.”

Martin felt a knot in his stomach and convinced himself that he should put down the phone. Maybe give it five seconds. Then,

“Russ, you old bastard! How are you?”

Just to hear the warmth in his old friend’s voice was enough to make the call worthwhile.

“Just been keeping my head down.” Martin looked at the scribbled notes he had made earlier and continued, “You probably know everything went pear-shaped for me.”

“Yeah, sure. I heard about the bitch taking your boy and milking you dry. They say the banks fucked you big time. You never, ever, deserved that. Let’s meet up.”

It was typical of John Staples, and it was how Martin remembered him. How could Martin have blocked him out of his life? He spoke quickly before he lost his nerve. “You’ve probably guessed I’m ringing you up for a favour, haven’t you? Pretty damned shitty, I know, after more than three years.”

“You’ve got it, Russ, whatever it is.” There was hardly time for the businessman to draw breath before he offered his old friend an invitation. “Hey, Russ, come to the game tonight.”

There was no questioning on any details of the favour Martin wanted, but the thought of mixing with a group of successful business people filled Martin’s head with dread. “It might be a bit awkward tonight, Pin-up.”

Staples. Pin-up. It was a silly nickname, but all John’s close friends had used it for years. There was a thoughtful silence at the other end of the phone.

“Just two stand tickets, Russ. You and me on our own.”

John’s immediate grasp of his fears left Martin feeling utterly choked and unable to respond, so Pin-up filled the space for him.

“That’s agreed, then. Meet you outside The Feathers at seven. Oh, and the favour? It’s done, whatever it is.”



Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Michael Ross to Room With Books!

Please tell us about yourself. Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

No, only in the last 7/8 years. A successful businessman.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

Eight years – going to my fist creative writing class and discovering I had an ability

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

Very much committed to my writing nowadays

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Martin has hit rock bottom before Hannah re-enters his life, but one night she disappears and life turns upside down

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author. When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

When I produced and self-published my first short story anthology

How long did it take to get your first book published?

To find a publisher – three years

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

Four months

What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

Three more books this year; a follow up thriller to Hand Over Fist, entitled Out of hand, another short story anthology and first of all, in July, a feel good romance Chasing What’s Already Gone.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

All three main characters Martin, Pin-up and Bobby have large chunks of me in their DNA

What is your routine for writing?

Get up – walk the dog – catch up on News 24 – then write.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

Write the book and wait for the title to jump out at me during the writing process

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

Somewhere in all of my books there is a character who has hit rock bottom, survived and is making their way back in the world. Never give in to the fates.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

Easy going on that one.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

I would be disappointed with myself if I could answer that one, I would like to think my tastes and desires were constantly changing.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

I do, every now and then it might hurt to read something I do not agree with- but what hurts us makes us stronger.

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

What is your favorite food? Sea bass

Who is your favorite singer or group? This week Ben Folds

What is your favorite color? Yellow

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? Gdansk – I LOVE Poland – glorious country.

What final words would you offer to our readers?

Never stop reading

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your book. I hope you will come back again!

Patricia, Room With Books






About the Author

It was a strange and twisting road that led to the publication of my first novel. From my humble beginnings, as an office clerk, to ownership of a multi-million dollar business I always maintained my love for literature.

Born and raised in Bristol, England. I spent most of my life in business, my companies turning over in the region of $500 million. The majority of that time marketing cars, eventually owning the largest Saab specialist in the world, before a bitter divorce forced me rethink my priorities. Particularly between 2003 and 2005 when I had to accept that I was no longer a millionaire but literally penniless. I avoided bankruptcy by the skin of my teeth and slowly rebuilt my life.

This led me to the life changing decision to leave the bustling city and move to live halfway up a mountain in the Welsh valleys. At the same time I started a part time six year English Literature course at Bristol University, and attended creative writing classes at Cardiff University. I left school at sixteen and this was my first taste of further education and an immense challenge.

I eventually adjusted my thinking to the academic life, and on 30 June 2015 had confirmation of my 2.1(Hons) degree from Bristol University. At the same time I also won the prestigious Hopkins Prize for my essay on Virginia Woolf and the unsaid within her text. Now the university courses are finished it will, with any luck, gives me plenty of extra time that I can devote to my fiction writing.

Thanks to the university experiences, my interest in English literature has flourished over recent years. Hopefully I have evolved as a writer from my earlier work in short stories (over ninety of them.) Although interestingly my first three novels have all been developed from a long forgotten short story.

Life is, once again, very good, and I live very happily halfway up a mountain, in the Welsh Valleys, with my wonderful partner Mari, and our rescue dog Wolfie.

Connect With the Author


Twitter @mikerosswriter



Goodreads    Mike Ross



Michael will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Hope Virtual Book Tour @griercooper @GoddessFish


by Grier Cooper

Indigo Ballet Series




ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments!


GENRE: Young Adult


About the Book

Indigo is living the life she’s always imagined at the famed New York School of Ballet. Or is she? Although she hopes she’ll be chosen for the company, her ballet teachers aren’t talking and their silence is confusing.

When Indigo is singled out for a coveted solo she feels her dreams are finally within reach, until she finds out she’s dancing with Felipe Gonzalez, the school’s smolderingly hot rising star. In the days that follow, Indigo questions everything she thought was true and finds herself making surprising choices.

After a fateful piece of paper reveals the truth, Indigo must ask herself the hardest question of all: can she take control of her own future to create the life she wants?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00002]



Someone grabs my elbow firmly and I turn to find the new guy leading me to get a spot in line. I scowl at him and then at my elbow. “Um…hi? That’s my elbow.”

“You do not wish to dance?” he says, eyes wide. His accent is silvery, melodic. Also hot.

“Um, no–I mean yes–I mean, you’re grabbing my elbow a little too tightly.”

He drops it like he’s been scalded, holding up both palms in defense. A stray lock of brown hair curls along his temple. “My apologies. Sometimes I forget myself.”

I look at him as I try to appraise whether or not he’s making fun of me, but his face is unreadable. Also I can’t look at it for long or I might get hypnotized. “Riiight,” I say.

We wait in silence, watching the other dancers ahead of us. When we reach the front of the line I see our two reflections–dark and light–in the mirrors that run along the entire front wall of the studio and decide they are complementary. At least it’s nice to have a tall partner for a change; my opportunity to dance with someone my size is limited because I dwarf several of the other boys in the room.

I start to move and feel his hands firmly on my hips. His breath warms the back of my neck and I feel myself flush. Normally I’d take a glimpse in the mirror to make sure my alignment is perfect, but I don’t dare. For reasons I don’t want to admit to myself, I feel nervous and jittery. We face each other and he offers his hand as I come into arabesque. He starts the slow promenade and I chance a quick glimpse at his face. He smiles and I catch my breath. I switch my gaze over to his shoulder and notice that my palm is slick with sweat. I’m so embarrassed I feel heat in the tips of my ears. I pray my face isn’t bright red.

He slides a hand around my waist for the dip and I close my eyes. “Relax,” he says into my ear. “I’ve got you.”


Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Hope by Grier Cooper for the purpose of an honest review.

I haven’t (yet) had the pleasure of reading the first book, Wish, of the Indigo Ballet Series, but I intend to remedy that oversight during my upcoming vacation at the beach!

Hope is a wonderful, painfully wonderful book to read and to learn about life in a performing arts school and also about ballet. Ms. Cooper generously defines the technical terms associated with the ballet at the back of her book, and without the glossary I would’ve been lost past the first mention of barre!

Indigo is a beautifully written young woman with surprising (to her) talents and a spine of steel that allows her to navigate her way through the snares and dangers of dance. It is truly remarkable to watch her grow throughout the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed Hope by Grier Cooper. It is a pleasure to relax, read, and learn something new at the same time.

I recommend Hope by Grier Cooper and give it four steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee.







©May 9, 2016

Patricia, Room With Books




Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Grier Cooper, author of Hope, to Room With Books!

I’m happy to be here…thanks!

Please tell us about yourself.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I always kept a diary; the kind with a small lock on it. Trust me, growing up in a house with three younger brothers who got into everything made this necessary. I also loved reading; I devoured books and the library was and still is a favorite place. But I didn’t think about being a writer back then because my head was completely wrapped up in ballet–especially after I taught myself how to do a double pirouette. I would practice in the halls at school whenever I had a spare moment, and my mom had to constantly throw me out of the kitchen because she got tired of me practicing in there…but it was the only uncarpeted floor in the house with enough space to dance.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

Like every other kid in school, I wrote all the time; essays, book reports, short stories, and of course, the aforementioned diary. I’ve also always been a voracious reader…books have been a source of entertainment, knowledge, and escape; a sanctuary, really. Eventually the love of books translated into feeling like I had stories to tell, too. I’ve always enjoyed kids and realized I wanted to write for them, especially after I became a mother.

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

I also give talks about themes I touch on in my books, like how to overcome self-doubt. It’s fun visiting schools and ballet studios, and meeting young people. I like to share personal stories and offer insight. I still teach dance and yoga from time to time, by request.

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Dancer hopes she’s chosen for the company…paired with distractingly hot partner…makes surprising choice. Is it the right one?

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

It wasn’t until high school, when my short story won first prize in the school literary contest (and a fifty dollar check!) that I began to think I might have a future as a writer, but my first “real” title (a full book) was published many years later, in 2010. Signing a real contract made things feel official.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

I began writing books in 2009 and my first non-fiction title was published in 2010. But it wasn’t the one I was talking about before, the story that I really wanted to tell. That book, called Wish (the first of the Indigo Ballet Series) came many years later, published at the end of 2014.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

That depends! It took a long time to write Wish-–more than a year–because I was working on it while writing a bunch of other stuff. It was also my first full-length novel, so there was a huge learning curve. Since then I’ve written a couple of other titles, including one that I wrote during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which happens every November–check it out all you would-be writers!) where you have 30 days to write an entire novel. Sounds kinda crazy, right? But I thought, hey, why not give it a try and see what happens? You know, I managed to write an entire book in less than 30 days! (I think it was 28, total). That was just a first draft, of course, and it’s far from ready to publish, but it showed me it was possible. I’d say the average time to write a book is at least a few months, and that’s after I’ve finished researching and outlining. I’m one of those plan-ahead people.

What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

I am currently working on Dream, the third book of the Indigo Ballet Series. I’m also currently working on audiobook versions of the series, which will be available later in the spring, through Audible.

Contemporary young adult will always be a favorite for me. Close friends insist I have an obsession with high school, and they are probably right. I didn’t go to a normal high school; I went to a performing arts high school with models, actors, musicians and dancers who needed a flexible schedule in order to pursue their careers. Sadly, this meant we missed out on some of the fun stuff, like prom. I live it vicariously through my books, with real characters set in the real world. I like YA because it focuses on a time in life where huge change occurs. It’s a dynamic and exciting time of life, a time to figure out who you want to be.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

Indigo is the main character in the series and also my favorite. She’s strong, but not in the way that a character like Katniss is strong. Indigo is emotionally strong, yet sensitive at the same time. I think it’s a great balance.

What is your routine for writing?

During my years as a professional dancer we started every day with an early morning ballet class. I still like to begin the day with exercise, because it gets the energy moving in my body and starts those gears inside my brain spinning. My workday is confined to the hours of nine a.m. until 3 p.m., when my daughter is in school, and I often squeeze in some brainstorming sessions while she’s at practice after school.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

The Indigo Ballet Series has been a planned trilogy from the very beginning and I had a specific vision and titles in mind. Other times the title comes last, although I always have a working title.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

I tend to work with broad themes; things like friendships, family, or perseverance, and keep them filed away in the back of my mind, while the story evolves.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I’ve never been a big fan of hardbacks. They’re cumbersome and way too hard to read in the bathtub. Also, they make my hands cramp when I read them. I’ve always preferred paperbacks because I like the way they feel in my hands. I didn’t think I wouldn’t ever be an eBook fan until I got a chance to try out my daughter’s Kindle and found I had serious envy, so I got one for myself. I love that I can load tons of books on something the size of a small paperback (so handy for travel) and backlighting makes it easy to read at night.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

There are too many good books out there to name one as a favorite. I love The Arabian Nights because there are tons of stories woven together in one novel. I have a really cool edition with an embossed blue leather and gilded edges. It’s beautiful, as well as fun to read…great to read aloud, too. I’m a huge Gabriel Garcia Marquez fan–I’ve read Love in The Time of Cholera several times–the only book I’ve read cover-to-cover more than once.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

No way! I always hope that people enjoy my work, but it’s impossible to please everyone. Other writer friends advised me years ago to always make sure to put out the best work possible and leave it at that. However, I think it’s important to get feedback from other writers; they know the intricacies of what makes a good book better than anyone else.

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

Sure. Lay them on me.

What is your favorite food? Sushi. Absolutely.

Who is your favorite singer or group? Billie Holiday. She’s amazing. One of the best to listen to on a rainy day.

What is your favorite color? Black. Much to my husband’s dismay.

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? A quiet beach with fine-grained, white sand and clear turquoise water. And no traffic.

Thank you for spending time at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your book, Hope. I hope you will come back again!

Thanks so much for having me!



Meet the Author

Grier began ballet lessons at age five and left home at fourteen to study at the School of American Ballet in New York. She has performed on three out of seven continents with companies such as San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, totaling more than thirty years of experience as a dancer, teacher and performer.

She writes and blogs about dance in the San Francisco Bay Area and has interviewed and photographed a diverse collection dancers and performers including Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, Glen Allen Sims and Jessica Sutta. She is the author of the Indigo Dreams ballet fiction series for young adults and The Daily Book of Photography.

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