What’s critical to read next? Margie Miklas’ debut novel!

I am so very excited to share this book with you!  Margi Miklas is a critical care nurse colleague of mine who has been lucky enough to retire and travel all around Italy!  She has written several award winning books depicting the colorful, less-traveled towns and villages amongst Sicily, Rome, and the Amalfi coast.  But that’s not the exciting part!  On her last viaggio abroad, she penned a medical thriller!  I am proud to show off my nurse buddy’s debut novel!  Check it out!Margie Miklas

  1. What sparked off the idea of your books?

My first three books are on Italy, so my travels there and how I felt at home and fell in love with Italy sparked the idea for the books. The first book is based on my blog, which I started when I went to Italy as a solo traveler for three months. Once I returned home, I realized I had much to say about that experiences besides what I wrote on my blog.

I wrote My Love Affair with Sicily for the same reasons, except that book is based on five separate trips to Sicily, the region where my maternal grandparents were born. I wanted to share my experiences as I discovered explored their village and the other towns and cities in Sicily, a place where I almost felt a strong connection.

The main reason I wrote my third book, Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, was to present Naples in a more positive light than its reputation. So, the book is a photography/coffee table book depicting life in Naples as well as the Amalfi Coast, which I truly love.

So, this newest work, Critical Cover-Up, is a work of fiction, my first novel. My years of working as a critical care nurse and witnessing the changes in the healthcare system, sparked the idea to write this book. I decided to make it more exciting than that, so I wrote a thriller set in a hospital where a critical care nurse is the main character and discovers corruption and evil around her.

2. Which character, if any, most resembles your personality?

I guess it would have to be Allison Jamison, the protagonist, although as I wrote the story, I don’t think I was consciously thinking of her like that.

3. Which character was the hardest to write and why?

Detective Derning. I don’t know any detectives personally, so his character required more research and imagination for me.

4. How do you plan/research your books?

The Italy books were nonfiction so the research consisted of checking on historical facts about places, monuments, and dates. In Critical Cover-Up, I created a loose outline based on events by chapters, which changed some as the story evolved during the writing process. As I wrote sections which included laws, places, protocols, etc. I reviewed current policy and statistics related to those.

5. What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I am taking a break. I know I will write another book, but nothing concrete is in the works at the moment, although I have been overwhelmed by the positive response and comments about a sequel.

6. Do you write for any websites?

I am a contributing writer for various online and print magazines and newspapers, including Italia Magazine, La Gazzetta Italiana, The Grand Wine Tour, and Italian Talks, the blog for Baglioni Hotels.

7. Do you prefer to read paperbacks or ebooks? Why?

I prefer paperbacks and hardback books because it seems easier to pick up and continue reading. I have so many books on Kindle that I have started and never finished. I like going into bookstores too and browsing the shelves.

8. What was your favorite book as a child and as an adult?

I liked Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales as I was growing up, but as an adult, I prefer biographies and autobiographies. I am currently reading Brice Springsteen’s, Born to Run.

9. Whom do you admire and why?

I admire my 91-year old mother who always encouraged me to be independent and follow my dreams and today, she still always wears a smile and is positive and encouraging. I also admire writers who can write about very personal challenges times in their lives. I find their stories inspirational and moving, and don’t know that I could write about such private experiences.

10. Name three people, dead or alive, you would invite to dinner. Why?

Wow, this is a tough one. I’d like to invite Angelina Savoca, my Sicilian grandmother who died when I was in my twenties. I have so many questions I’d like to ask her about her life in Sicily before she came to the United States. I’d like to invite Emmy award-winning writer Matthew Weiner so I could pick his brain about character development and storylines. And I’d like to invite Andrea Bocelli if he’d be gracious enough to sing. He’s one of my favorite performers.

Now, if that doesn’t get you interested….try a FREE excerpt from this awesome read!!!

Critical Cover-Up         Critical Care Cover-Up . . . .

The unit was full, so it looked like her shift would be busy. They were also one nurse short, since someone had called in sick and not been replaced. Word from top management was the usual explanation: “There aren’t any nurses available.” One nurse now had three patients, and the charge nurse had one patient and an empty admission bed. This was becoming the status quo lately, and Allison did not recall the staffing being so tight when she worked her clinical during nursing school. Good thing she enjoyed the work so much that she didn’t mind being busy. It was the frickin’ paperwork she detested.

***

     By 2:00 a.m. Allison had gotten caught up with her work. Thank God Mr. Wetherly is somewhat stable. Allison doubted that anyone outside the medical field would describe a critically ill patient in those words. It seemed like an oxymoron. His blood pressure and heart rate were maintaining within the parameters ordered by the physician, although he required high doses of vasoactive medications to achieve those numbers. As Allison reviewed the electronic chart and checked his orders, she became curious as to the events which led to his respiratory arrest a couple of nights before.

Unable to find any new information from the physicians’ progress notes, she approached the central station monitors. I know there’s a reason he coded, and maybe I can find something here, she thought. Zeroing in on Mr. Wetherly’s information, she backtracked to the day in question.

She located his patient data screen and studied his vital sign trends. Her inquisitiveness became an obsession for a few minutes as she zoomed in to the time of the code. She sensed she was on the verge of uncovering something.

“What is this? Oh no. Do I really want to see this?” she said. What had triggered the alarm was not only a heart rate of forty-five, but an oxygen saturation of fifty, which was quite low. After more investigating, Allison discovered that the oxygen saturation had been low for an hour before he coded. The last time it had been within normal limits was an hour and five minutes prior to the code, and at that time it was reading ninety-five percent. The number consistently decreased from there until it reached fifty. She knew this was not good. The alarms for O2 sats were always set for ninety-two or ninety-three, since anything below that was abnormal. Why didn’t someone check on this patient when the alarms went off? she wondered as a heated flush spread up her chest and across her face.

Allison then checked the alarm review for the same time period and found close to 100 instances when the alarm had been triggered for low oxygen saturation.

Her stomach roiled, and she swallowed back the wave of nausea that followed. Why didn’t someone see this? She printed out the alarm events and also the patient’s vital signs from that terrible day and shoved the papers into her bag. Glancing around, she noticed that she was the only one at the desk and felt relieved that she was not being watched. Maybe she would reevaluate the information later when she had more time. Her gut informed her that something wasn’t right, and she knew this information was something she had to save.

The more she contemplated what she’d discovered, the more anxious Allison became. She knew that sometimes nurses just silenced the alarms when they were sitting at the desk and didn’t really investigate the reason for them. Most of the time it was insignificant and an annoyance, such as an irregular heartbeat in a patient everyone already knew suffered from the problem. But this was serious, and Allison thought she recalled a nurse sitting near the monitors for most of the night before Mr. Wetherly coded. She remembered that the nurse was Paula, an experienced ICU nurse who had worked in that unit for at least three years. Now Allison recalled that Paula had been sitting near the monitors that night and silencing alarms while she was charting. Had she silenced Mr. Wetherly’s alarms? Possibly. Probably. But Allison had not witnessed it. She could identify the nurse, but she couldn’t say for sure that this nurse had turned off any alarms, since she wasn’t specifically observing her behavior. But someone had to have silenced those alarms.

The sense of unease didn’t dissipate, and Allison wasn’t sure what she should do. If I don’t say anything, nobody will know and nothing will happen to my coworker. Allison had this gut feeling that if the alarms had not been silenced, Mr. Wetherly would never have had low oxygen saturation for a long enough time to cause him to stop breathing.

***

     For the next two days, her stomach was killing her as she couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. Wetherly’s situation. Is it my responsibility to say something? Will it make any difference?

When she came back to work that night, she found out that Mr. Wetherly had died during the previous shift. The nurses had coded him with the family present, but the sepsis was too advanced and he didn’t survive. She tried to tell herself it was for the best, that he would never have been the same, but she knew better. Mr. Wetherly never should have arrested in the first place.

So readers?  What did you think?  Where can you connect with Margi Miklas?

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, or send her an email!  But don’t wait!  Halloween’s coming up!  Treat yourself to this #mustread!

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Touching the Face of God – meet pilot and aviation writer Ray Haas

Ray Haas at the John Gillespie Memorial

Touching greatness in aviation!

As a lover of aviation, one of my favorite poems is High Flight, by WWII pilot John Gillespie Magee, Jr.  How amazing that his beautiful words are spoken at almost every winging ceremony across the world?  That they are featured in Arlington National Cemetery.  The poem truly resonates with those who know the joy of flight.  I am very excited to share an interivew with Ray Haas, who is turning John’s story not only into a book, but a movie as well.  Can’t wait!

Ray Haas has written plenty in his life. However, it has all been in personal journals, small essays, and software. “Touching the Face of God” is his first official public offering, but certainly not the last. Aviation is certainly Ray’s passion, followed closely by speculative fiction. He is actively working on projects in both genres.

Ray currently lives in eastern North Carolina, having moved there from Portland, Oregon due to requirements of his day-job. He hopes to someday make it so that his writing eventually becomes his day-job!

Starting his professional career by washing windows, Ray enlisted in the Navy and became first an Electronics Technician, and then a Data Processing Technician. On a Navy research & development project, Ray worked on the first non-tactical shipboard-based computer. Getting his first email account in 1976, Ray started a career that lasts to the present day.

Also in 1976 Ray started taking flying lessons, first learning how to fly a sailplane. After earning his Private Pilot’s License (Gliders – aero-two), Ray went on to obtain his Single-Engine Land (SEL) and Instrument (IFR) ratings. Ray was the proud owner of a Piper Warrior for several years.

What sparked off the idea of your book?

I have always been interested in aircraft and flying. Growing up in the late 50s and 60s, I was entranced with the space program, and really wanted to become an astronaut. That dream was dashed when I found out that my extreme near-sightedness would prevent me from becoming a military pilot, which at that time was the only ticket to flying into space.

Another interest I had early on is in WWII, particularly the early part. Linked with my interest in aircraft and flying, the models I build tended to be of those used in WWII; both fighters and bombers. Of particular interest was the Battle of Britain, which occurred during the summer of 1940.

I had also wanted to be a writer of books and screenplays. I had always thought that there should be a “reboot” of the classic 1969 movie, “The Battle of Britain.” I started doing research about that period of time, and came across the poem, “High Flight.” I had heard the poem recited during the TV sign-off films during the 60s and 70s, and had read it several times while becoming a glider pilot in the 70s. While doing my research, I thought I would track down the exact wording of the poem as well as the story of its author, since there seemed to be a considerable amount of discrepancy in both.

Even with the somewhat limited Internet search capabilities of the time, I was able to start finding out many details about John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and his famous poem. The further I dug, the more fascinating a story it became. And though there had been a couple of books and articles published about Magee, I thought that these barely covered the surface story.

And so, the Battle of Britain story was moved to the back burner, and the Magee/High Flight story became paramount. I started research in earnest in 1990, and it took 24 years to finally feel that I could release the results of a tremendous amount of work! I will eventually get back to the Battle of Britain project, since I believe that that particular battle was the single most important battle of WWII.

Which character, if any, most resembles your personality?

Frankly, I identify (not surprisingly, I suppose) with John Magee. We’re both pretty smart, both pilots, both very stubborn, and both of us were in the military. I have always been somewhat of a rebel, and know what it’s like to be a “peacock among pigeons” (a phrase used to describe Magee). I can learn things quite quickly, as did Magee. I’m not nearly as smart as he was, and don’t have his gift of expression, but I do feel a certain kinship with him. I would’ve like to have known him.

Which character was the hardest to write and why?

I guess I had a bit of difficulty writing about Magee’s relationship with Elinor Lyon. Elinor was the Headmaster’s daughter that John fell in love with. But it was a case of unrequited love. I was actually able to communicate with Elinor and learned the true story from her directly. So it was hard to say that, on the one hand, John laboured long and hard to return to England and Elinor, but on the other hand, Elinor was not too receptive of his advances. Although… I truly think that given more time, Magee might have been able to win her over.

How do you plan/research your books?Touching the Face of God

There was never any real plan; the book really grew organically. At first I was going to write a screenplay, and then an A&E style documentary. I finally accumulated so much data that I thought that it would be a shame not to make it into a book, with the added advantage that the book could be used as a “bible” for the eventual making of a feature film and/or documentary. Only in the last year or so did I truly began to put everything else aside and concentrate of getting the book done.

Research also evolved over the years. I started with an article published in the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) magazine, which lead me to Hermann Hagedorn’s 1942 Magee biography (“Sunward I’ve Climbed”), which lead me to an entire range of research leads. I have worked with computers since 1976, so using the Internet & email was a natural thing for me. In the beginning the great search tool was AltaVista, eventually supplanted by Google. I found that more content was added to the Internet every day… so research became a daily practice (what is here today might not have been here yesterday, still true to this day). Simply put, the book would not have been possible without the Internet & email.

Another tool I used extensively was GoogleMaps. I was able to see detailed maps of areas, and also use StreetView to take a look at some of these places.

The final element that brought everything together was the discovery (through the Internet!) of the John Gillespie Magee Family Papers collection at the Yale Divinity Library. It was truly the “mother lode.” I spent five days scanning over 1,800 documents there, and goodness knows how long I spent in organizing all that data. I think it really “made” the book, as I was able to include photographs, quote letters, and so many other things that would have not been possible before. True source data.

 What are you working on at the moment?

I self-published the book, so I had to take off my author’s hat and put on the marketing hat. There’s so much to learn about this stuff!

I am also working on getting the book made into a feature film. It is such a great story that I strongly feel that it will attract some interest. And that is another area I need to learn about: how to get the work in front of those who make decisions about such things.

The Battle of Britain project has come off the back burner; not completely, but enough for the moment. I’ve got two books I would like to adapt for film, plus a couple of original screenplays.

Do you write for any websites?

Just my own:

Do you prefer to read paperbacks or ebooks? Why?

These days I prefer ebooks on my Kindle. I tend to read a bunch of books simultaneously, and it’s nice to have them all in my Kindle. But I still love paper books… there’s something about them that is in my blood. Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon remains one of my favourite places… just going through the stacks and leafing through books remains a wonderful experience.

Favorite book as a child and as an adult?

Well… I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books. Hard to pick out a favourite… Let’s see… as a child, I think “Dune” by Frank Herbert (which I read mostly under the covers by flashlight, no wonder I was extremely near-sighted!).

As an adult? Yikes… I’m tempted to break it down into fiction/non-fiction… but I’ll just say “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein.

 Whom do you admire and why?

  • James Cameron, for being a genius, an innovator and being always true to himself. My dream is to work with Cameron and turn my favourite adult book (shown above) into a movie… filmed, of course, on location (the Moon).
  • Anthony Robbins, for his audacity, compassion, and gift of being able to communicate what he has learned to the rest of us.
  • Robert Heinlein, one of my spiritual fathers, for taking me to worlds in my imagination, but also giving me some extremely good advice for day-to-day living.
  • Richard Bach, another of my spiritual guides. There are few people I have felt quite as connected to as Richard.

 Name three people, dead or alive, you would invite to dinner. Why?

  • John Gillespie Magee, Jr. I think that John Magee had to have been a very interesting person to know. He was extraordinarily intelligent, well-travelled, and had a curiosity about the world that he lived in.
  • Robert Heinlein, for reasons detailed above.
  • I’d say Richard Bach, but I’ve actually had dinner with Richard, so that doesn’t count…
  • Tom Hanks. Another very intelligent and talented individual. He and I have quite a bit in common.

Now, enjoy a couple of excerpts from this amazing book! 

In the first excerpt, John is trying to decide whether or not he should attend Yale, or travel to Canada and join the Royal Canadian Air Force. John has been granted a generous scholarship to Yale, based on his record high scores in the Classics admission examination. And although he had, for all practical purposes, already made up his mind, it was felt that John should meet with Yale President Charles Seymour, if only to explain why John would not be attending Yale that year.

The indented & italicized sections are from a letter that President Seymour wrote to John’s father after the meeting.
John did indeed meet with President Seymour. In a letter written to John’s father, Seymour explains what happened during the meeting:

He [John Jr.] came in this morning and again this afternoon after lunch. He told me that he had practically reached the decision last night in his own mind, but that he did not want to make it final until he had talked to me. He was extremely courteous in expressing the hope that I did not feel that he was belittling the opportunity offered by Yale in admitting him. He said that the decision would have to be his own but that he would be grateful if I could throw any new light on his problem which might lead him to alter the decision he had reached.

Charles Seymour himself had been educated in England and might have had a good grasp of what John was struggling with.

In all honesty I had to tell him that this was a personal problem which he would have to decide himself, that in general I thought that young men in his position, or in positions similar to his, would do greater service if they accepted the educational opportunity offered, but that if his inclination against college at this time was so strong that he count not concentrate happily upon his work here, I on my side could not urge him to undertake it. He said that after balancing all the factors, he was quite clear that he would not be happy this year in New Haven and that the only peace of mind he could find would be by seeking his commission in Canada…

John seems to have decided to hedge his bet, and try to leave the door to Yale open:

He went on to say that he had also decided that it would be better for him to ultimately come to Yale rather than to go to Oxford, and he asked what arrangements could be made for admission in a later year. I advised him that if he had definitely made up his mind he should inform the Chairman of the Board of Admissions that he wished to defer matriculation and that later, when the opportunity offered, he should apply again for admission. In the circumstances such admission would be certain to be granted.

President Seymour then presented his final analysis of the conversation, as well as an apology to John Sr. for not making a more concerted effort to persuade John Jr. to attend Yale:

I was so taken with him and his approach to his problem that I am deeply disappointed in a personal sense that apparently he is not to be with us, but there can be no question of the depth of his feeling. I think that it is entirely likely that he would be unhappy here under present conditions…

I can understand your own feelings with regard to the immediate future of your boy. I hope that you will not feel that I let you down in not bringing the strongest sort of pressure to bear upon him, but in all conscience I believe that this is the kind of problem which can only be settled by the man himself.

Amidst all this conflicted opinion and in the pressure of seeing his adopted homeland viciously attacked, John made up his mind suddenly and finally: he had to return to England.

John had decided to give up a generous scholarship to Yale, give up the relative safety of his family and of the United States, and to go into harm’s way.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr., age 18, was going to war.

Get your copy of “Touching the Face of God” today!

 

 

 

Aerial ballet over South Louisiana

Tom Burdick in cockpit of his crop duster

“”We are not the wild, whiskey-drinking daredevils that onlookers might perceive us to be,” says Tom Burdick, a pilot who’’s dodged bullets while flying.”

At the crack of dawn, before most of us are up and going, there is a ballet being performed in the skies. Tom Burdick is a special type of pilot. He dances amidst the clouds flying high, winging over and swooping down from the heavens over southern Louisiana. He and his team crop dust the plantations that are featured in the FLYING SOLO series of books, which I have written for AgeView Press. Not only can he fly, he can write. Burdick has served as my technical consultant for the crop dusting passages in SOLO VIETNAM. In addition, he contributed to the dramatic plane crash sequence in WAITING IN THE WINGS. His heart and soul is flying and that’s what comes through in his desciptions of soaring through the heights.  He once told me that he’s never happier than when flying.  He described it as his lifeblood.  I am elated and honored to call him not only a colleague, but a dear friend. Enjoy this article about Tom published some time ago in the Baton Rouge Business Journal.

Original Article and Photos By: Chuck Hustmyre published Nov 30, 2007 at 6:00 am. (Updated May 4, 2012)

Tom Burdick swoops in fast and low, the wheels of his airplane almost brushing the tops of the trees standing along the edge of the field. He levels the wings and dips the bright yellow nose toward the ground. He’s zooming in at 130 mph, with the afternoon sun behind him. From the ground, Burdick looks like he’s lining up for a strafing run as he aims the sleek, single-engine propeller-driven plane at a field.

In a sense Burdick is making a strafing run, although it’s not a line of enemy planes he’s attacking, but a row of crops. From a height of only eight feet, he triggers the release of the plane’s payload, and a line of nozzles along the trailing edge of the wing spews an aerosol cloud that swirls in the wake of his prop wash. Burdick roars across the field in seconds. He pulls back on the control stick and rockets skyward. At the top of his climb, he kicks the rudder over and banks into a steep turn, setting himself up for another diving pass at the field.

In the business, he’s known as an A.G.—an agriculture pilot. His munitions of choice aren’t bombs or bullets, but pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Not that he hasn’t seen a few bullets. “I was shot at once,” he says. “I found two holes—one in the tail and one in the wing.”

Tom reading FLYING SOLO

Taking a break with a great book!

Burdick, a 62-year-old, who although is short in stature, stands tall, exudes quiet confidence.. He started flying right out of high school, paying for his pilot training by working the flight line at an airport in his hometown of Madison, Wis. As a newly winged commuter pilot, Burdick flew VIPs around Wisconsin, including the governor on a campaign tour. Later, he spent four years as an air traffic controller at the hyperkinetic Los Angeles Center in Palmdale, Calif., directing commercial jets and other aircraft over central California and northern Mexico. Burdick lost that job when the air traffic controllers’ union staged a walkout in 1981, a move that prompted President Ronald Reagan to fire all the strikers.Fortunately, a crop duster training school in Casa Grande, Ariz., 460 miles away, was accepting new students. “I rode my motorcycle from Palmdale to Casa Grande in the middle of the night,” Burdick recalls. During the ride he hit a patch of black ice with his Kawasaki 550 and went down, knocking off his windshield. He froze for the rest of the trip. “It was so cold my face was stuck.” At crop duster school Burdick met a guy from Louisiana looking to hire an ag pilot, so in February 1982, he packed up what few belongings he had and moved to South Louisiana. He’s been here ever since.

The next Aerial Crop Care pilot.

The next Aerial Crop Care pilot.

For the full text article, you can see it here.

Tom Burdick is pretty basic – and that is how he started his company. Aerial Crop Care, which began with only one pilot, Tom, now boasts an annual revenue upwards of 1.2 million.  His team of five pilots fly Air Tractor AT-502 crop dusters, which are impressive machines that cost upwards of $800,000. The sleek, long-nosed, low-wing planes pack a 750-horsepower propeller-driven turbine engine that runs on jet fuel. They top out at about 150 mph and has a 500-gallon hopper built into the nose to hold chemicals or seeds. In addition, they founded Mosquito Squad, a company which combats mosquito invasion.  Tom was instrumental in the design of the state of the art plane used to combat the pests. But Tom Burdick’s only love isn’t flying.  He is the proud parent of two grown children and grandpa to a precoscious two year old pilot-in-training.  During National Aviation Week, AgeView Press is proud to recognize and salute this outstanding professional in the skies!

Did you love or hate Catholic school? Meet saucy journalist and author Amy Gallagher

Those of us Baby Boomers who attended Catholic school all have some strong memories.  Some good, some not so good.  Take a look at this author interview with dynamic and talented journalist Amy Gallagher.  Amy has a knack for bringing young adult and childen’s issues to the forefront through creative humor.  She has been published in numerous journals involving healthcare and aviation.   In addition, she has published two children’s books on being the “odd child out” and learning the ABCs through eating health veggies!  She has recently joined alliance with the Indie Authors of AgeView Press.  Enjoy!

Amy Gallagher writer

Meet YA and Children’s author Amy Gallagher

What sparked off the idea of your books?
My original manuscript – which I’m still writing – Riley Patton, In Search of the Blarney Stone, a fiction set in Ireland. My Chapter 4 was basically a character analysis of Riley which I then brought to life to create Good Girl Gone Plaid.
Which character, if any, most resembles your personality?
Definitely Riley. I’ve always loved the name Riley for a girl. And Riley is just as inquisitive as I was growing up. I think it’s important to ask “why” even to grown ups which was frowned upon at home, school and church during my childhood. When children know why, they understand more and feel greater empathy. It’s a child development fundamental that needs to be properly nurtured. It’s also a teaching moment between adult and child.
Which character was the hardest to write and why?
Probably Riley’s dad. My own father died in 2003 when I was drafting the Riley Patton, In Search of the Blarney Stone. Chapter 4 was about Riley and I read it to my dad who absolutely loved the character and her shenanigans. My dad never knew alcohol would lead to death, and as he lay dying in the hospital over the course of three weeks, I read my manuscripts to him, as well as scriptures.
How do you plan/research your books? Well, that’s a tough one because I work full time as an English teacher and I also write freelance for nurse-related magazines. Planning and researching for my books happens when it happens. I’d love to do nothing but write my books, and that’s what I’m working toward…one day!
Good Girl Gone Plaid for YA

A YA coming of age story!

What are you working on at the moment? I’m drafting Good Girl Gone Blue, a non-fiction account of my life as a “Blue” wife – married to a police officer…ten years but the streets got the best of him, which led to his adultery, ultimate divorce, first ever foreclosure, etc. The foreword is written by a psychologist who worked for and with the Dallas Police Department for 20 years which is very insightful, validating and supportive. I’m also including actual police reports to highlight the realities of the life as a Blue and a Blue Wife. Blue as in the color of the uniform, and Blue as in the resulting depression that emanates in the life. I’ve also completed two children’s nutrition books: The Blue Apple and Johnny’s New Race Car.

Do you write for any websites?   I’ve written articles published on various web sites and newspapers: ADVANCE for Nurses Newsmagazine; Air Med & Rescue Magazine;Nurses Lounge; Nurse.com; Fort Worth Star Telegram; Burleson Crowley Connection Newspaper; Burleson Star Newspaper. In addition, I run an advocacy website for nurses called RNspiration.
Do you prefer to read paperbacks or ebooks?  Tell us why . . .
I need both. I think a balance of the two is important to the growth as a reader, writer and teacher. As a teacher, I continually poll my students [middle school and high school] about their preference, and invariably the results are always 50/50. I find that very interesting and telling about the future of paper. So many have predicted the death of paperbacks, but I believe otherwise.
Favorite book as a child and as an adult? As a child, my two favorite books were Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Black Beauty. As an adult, probably Anne Lamott’s books, notably the Blue Shoe.
Whom do you admire and why? I admire my 17 year old son Michael. That may sound trite since I’m his mother, but I admire his ability to adapt to the adult-level demands of teens today. He is a child of divorce, and has had to manage the “double life” like many children of divorce today [including my students], along with the unrealistic expectations of others to produce perfection daily. The freedom to “run be free” has been stolen from our teens. Families are broken, society delivers conflicting messages, our leaders lie, money talks. I don’t mean to sound negative; I’m not. I am a realist, a mother who has had to “fight the good fight” for and along side her son. He has overcome many challenges and yet remains so beautiful inside and out.

When you just feel different!

When you just feel different!

Name three people, dead or alive, you would invite to dinner. And of course, why? Jesus, Peter, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, my son Michael, my mother Shirley, Ghandi, my best friend from St. Peter’s Catholic School Mary, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Ellen D. Why? Jesus for the obvious – He was the main character in the greatest story ever told! Peter, my elementary school was named after Peter, and throughout the book of Peter, the content address sobriety, salvation, suffering and serving. Peter was a pastor/shepherd and instructed how to deal with persecution from outside the church, false teachers, evildoers…all while stimulating Christian growth. I’ve always believed that if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. I’ve also been persecuted and have come to understand there are evildoers in this world, which I refused to belief as a little Catholic school girl. Churchill because he vehemently stated “We will NEVER surrender!” I love that! I fight my own personal “wars” at times, and yet this man was a Timex that kept on ticking. JFK because he was the first Catholic president, and I’d like to ask him who the shooter was. I’d also like to give him a piece of my mind about his multiple affairs. Earhart because I’ve been called “Amelia” a few times in my life, and I love flying – have also written for the aviation market, interviewed corporate pilots, flown in a private jet, flew a corporate jet simulator and a Blackhawk helicopter simulator. I’d like to ask her where she crashed…if she crashed, and what were her last thoughts. My son Michael because I love him and he has a brilliant mind and would thoroughly enjoy the experience. My mother because she would also enjoy the experience. Ghandi because he is the great teacher of simplicity/peace. My best friend Mary because we grew up together, and I considered her like a sister; we had so much fun together as kids. I would love to reconnect with her today but I do not know where she lives/works. Denzel because he is my favorite male actor and I find him very sexy. Tom Hanks is my second favorite actor, brilliant as well. Ellen D. because she is extremely authentic and incredibly funny which is a tough act to follow. She “bottom lines” to the truth which I appreciate as a journalist. Just the facts, mam.
Enjoy an exerpt from Good Girl Gone Plaid

A cheeky UK hockey player tells dragon tales! Meet Paul Cude

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Turning cheeky for kids!

Turning cheeky for kids!

I look after my two girls, and when they’re at school I’m a teaching assistant. I love playing hockey, and help coach kids, mine included. Other interests include reading, building computers, squash, cycling, great days out with my wonderful wife and kids, as well of course as WRITING! I’m currently editing my second book in the series. This one is called  ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’.

 What is your favorite quality about yourself?

I suppose my sense of humour. I always try and look on the bright side of anything, and I’d much rather be laughing than crying. It’s always lovely to see my kids laugh, and be rather cheeky at times…….although I’d never really tell them that. My sense of humour is interspersed throughout my book…….look out for the giant grinning spider.

 What made you want to be a writer?

Oddly it just happened. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my eldest daughter was just a baby (she’s not far off 11 now) I had the single most realistic dream I’ve ever had. I didn’t remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head…..so graphic, so intense, so…..mesmerising. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, “You have to write it, you just have to.” At the time I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story…….sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose looking back it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly…..3 months, and then, well………..I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn’t a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I’ve learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing  process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it.

The most surprising part of all though, is that sometimes…the words just flow out of you, almost as if it were supposed to be that way. On occasions, I’ve sat down to write for half an hour or an hour, and in the blink of an eye, over two hours have passed, and I’ve written three or four times the amount I was aiming for. It’s a little bit spooky, in a good way, but wonderful and rewarding at the same time. I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

 How did you come up with the title?

The whole story came to me in a dream one night, and in the dream, I could see the main character in his dragon form, with this very clear marking of a bent whistle, etched on his scales……hence his name…..Peter Bentwhistle. Whenever I think of him, that’s the first thing that pops into my head. As for the ‘threat from the past’, that’s more about the opening part of the book, that in my mind loops around and connects to the very ending, while still leaving a few unanswered questions for the readers to think about. All will be revealed, some bits in the not too distant future.

 What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing I like to either spend time with my wife and children, or play hockey. A day at the beach down in Swanage or Hengistbury Head followed by a meal out on the way back sounds perfect. If not that, a family bike ride somewhere or a walk in the New Forest. I do love a game of hockey with my friends at Salisbury hockey club, but as I get older it’s much harder to do on a regular basis. I help coach my kids and other children every Sunday morning though, and still try to get to men’s training weekly. Playing squash weekly with an old friend, helps me get through the week. (He’s mentioned in the book.)

What was your favorite part of the book to write? Why?

My favorite part to write was easily the second to last chapter……….’Fawking Hell!!!!!’ As you may have gathered from the chapter title, it has something to do with bonfire night. This whole chapter had been in my head for years before I started writing it, and given that it’s around twenty-two thousand words long, I absolutely whizzed through it. It was a pleasure to write, and the words just zipped out of my head and on to the screen. I could genuinely see every little detail of what happens. Twists and turns abound in that chapter, and it includes a graphic fight scene, which ends in a most unexpected way. It’s easily my favorite part of the book, and just thinking about it sends goose bumps down both of my arms.

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

Well, I’ve only just finished writing my follow up book….’Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’, and before any editing it’s just over 215, 000 words long, considerably longer than the previous one. It picks up pretty much from where the first book left off. Only in this one, things get much……..chillier. Quite literally. There’s another tale from the nursery ring (where dragons grow up), related to something that happens much further on in the book. Old and new characters alike feature in what I think is an adventure even more action packed throughout. We come across the mysterious nagas, for good or bad, and we learn a little bit more about the background and living conditions of the king, as well as discovering that he’s far from past his sell by date. There’s much more dragon and human team sport. Tank, one of Peter’s friends, even gets to play a whole detailed game of rugby, in a much similar vein to Peter’s hockey match in the first book. Plus more death defying laminium ball matches, this time in the league, rather than the global cup, with the Indigo Warriors perhaps biting off a little bit more than they can chew. Some of the action here is truly EXPLOSIVE! (A clue, methinks…) The characters, new and old alike, reveal a little bit more about themselves, with something for everyone. The new places visited include Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Egypt, USA, and of course the underground world of the dragon domain. My warped sense of humour still features in places of course. Watch out especially for two of the King’s Guards in the early part of the book, that are particularly good value on that front. Other than that, there’s not much more I can tell you without giving away some of the plot, which of course I’m reluctant to do.

How and where can my readers purchase your books?Bentwhistle

Currently my book can be found for free at Smashwords, in all formats, or can be purchased in either paperback or kindle version from Amazon

The Goodreads page for my book can be found here

Keep up with Paul Cude on facebook here

Or on twitter @paul_cude

Or his website to support the book www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk.  In addition, blog www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk which provides further insight into his creations and author interviews.

 

 

An Ab-fab interview with awesome author Jaimie Admans!

It’s been so much fun to interview authors this season, especially those from the across the pond, that I wanted to share with you another one.  She’s a riot!  One of my most favorite BritComs is Absolutely Fabulous.  It is a pleasure to introduce to you the “ab-fab” Jaimie Admans.
 

Author Jaimie Admans

“Ab-fab” author Jaime Admans

Tell me a little about why you started writing.   I’ve always loved writing, when I was little I was always writing stories and I was absolutely rubbish at everything in school, all I wanted to do was write! It took me until I was about 15 to realize that I wanted to be a writer, and a couple more years to discover chick-lit and start writing that!

Why is chick lit a favorite genre?   
I love it because it’s feel-good escapism, I think. It’s also relatable. It’s stories about women just like me, who get themselves into embarrassing situations just like I do, and it usually has a happy ending, which gives us all hope! Chick-lit books are usually uplifting, fun, not too serious, and sometimes just what you need to take your mind off things or get lost in after a stressful day!

I absolutely loved the Bridget Jones stories.  Tell me about your writing as it relates to the UK.   
I think my writing is very British sounding. It’s always set in the UK, obviously because this is my home and the place I know best, and I use a lot of British ‘slang’ words that are second nature to me but other people have never heard of! It’s quite funny to get messages from Americans saying they didn’t get half the words in it, because it’s stuff I use in every day life! I recently read a list of British words with their alternative American versions and was quite surprised by how different we are!
You mean word’s like fag, serviette, boot, lorry, and corny?  You betcha and I love it!!!!! 

Where do you get your story ideas?  Any particular motivation?  
The smallest things! Inspiration comes from the weirdest places, it can be a picture I’ve seen, a sentence someone has said to me, a news report, anything really. The smallest thing can spark off a landslide of ideas – the hard part is transforming them into a coherent book plot!

How do you feel about being Indy published?  I love it! I love having absolute control over my own work, being able to set my own dates and deadlines, and not have to wait months for publishers to get their act together! I don’t think the method of publication matters much to readers, as long as the book is good, most people don’t care if it’s indie or traditionally published. Being indie is also very satisfying as you know that you are solely responsible for a book, so when it’s well received, it’s brilliant. Of course, if it’s badly received, you only have yourself to blame too!

Who would you say were your greatest author influences?   Judy Blume for one! It was after reading her books as a teenager that I decided I wanted to be a writer. Her books touched me so much, they meant so much to me when I was growing up, they inspired me to want to do the same – to write books that meant as much to other people as hers meant to me.

What was your most flattering moment after writing the book?   A wonderful book blog, that I was already a huge fan of, chose Kismetology as ebook of the year 2012, that was definitely my most flattering moment! I put it out there with very little confidence in my own work, hoping against hope that people would like it, and for someone who reads hundreds of books a year to give it that honour was just amazing! Every good review is always so flattering, and reading people saying nice things about my writing always makes me so happy, but that particular honour really made my entire year!

Don’t you just love the UK spelling?  Me too!  My daughter had a terrible time passing her HSC exam in Australia because of it!  Having lived in Australia for couple of stints, I often catch myself spelling those words the UK way too!  
Why would readers want to choose this book?    Because it’s funny (I hope!) and a bit different to normal chick-lit in as much as it’s not a straightforward girl-meets-guy tale, it’s actually about the protagonist looking for a man for her mother. Her mum meddles in her life too much, so Mackenzie sets out to find her a partner of her own, she meets a lot of men, some good, some… not so good, and she learns a lot about herself in the process! It’s full of dates, good and, er, quite bad, but overall it’s fun and feel-good, and will hopefully leave you with a smile on your face!

What are you working on next?   I have a Christmas YA romantic comedy coming out on November 6th, called North Pole Reform School. It’s about a girl who hates Christmas, but is taken to a reform school in the North Pole, run by a group of elves who are determined to make her and her fellow Christmas-haters learn to love the season!

 Where can my readers get your books?Book Kismetology
I’m mostly on Amazon, although I do have a free children’s Christmas story available for download through all ebook retailers.
You can find Kismetology on Amazon by clicking here
My author page on Amazon and more information about me is here. And all my books are on listed there.
You can stay reach out to Jaimie on social media by clicking these links.  You won’t
be sorry.   She’s an absolutely fabulous delight!
Here’s Jaime’s website and blog
Give Jaimie a shoutout on Twitter
Or follow Jaimie on Facebook 

Springtime romance all year round – meet Jude Ouvrard

Author Jude Ouvard

Author Jude Ouvard

Tell me a little about why you started writing.  I started writing when I was a kid. I always had stories going on in my head. Most of them were about a bunch of girlfriends starting college.  I started writing my first story after I had read my fist young adult novel. It inspired me and gave me a sense of freedom.

Why is romantic fiction a favorite genre?  I love reading romantic fiction. I’ll read any genre of book as long as there is a love story. I decided to write romance because I truly enjoy creating the first moment, first kiss and passion.
Tell me about your writing as it relates to Canada. All of my stories are based in the USA: New York, Boston, Seattle etc…  I only have one story that is based in Montreal and it isn’t published. I wrote it two years ago. It’s actually the first story that I have written in English. I might eventually work on it and publish it.

Romanic Novella by Jude

Romanic Novella by Jude

Where do you get your story ideas?  Any particular motivation?  I get my ideas or motivation from events that occurred in my life or simply out of my imagination. I get most of my ideas when I’m driving; it seems to be the only place where all the ideas come together.
How do you feel about being Indy published? It feels good. I hope to become a bestseller author someday. I want to be able to write as a living.

Who would you say were your greatest author influences?  Nicholas Sparks inspired me a lot at the beginning. I read most of his books. Later, I read Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire and it changed everything. I admire her a lot. I think she is an amazing writer.  I love her style and her writing.

What was your most flattering moment after writing the book? The most flattering moment was when I got my first review. It was a five star review and that made me the happiest person alive.

Why would readers want to choose this book? My novella, Under the Sun, is easy to read. Nothing is complicated. It’s the story of two persons falling in love. Both of them have gone through a lot and together, they can help each other.  It’s part of a beach read anthology called Heat Wave.

What are you working on next?  My next novella Wonderland will be out at the end of October.  I am also working on a novel right now. The title is Body, ink, and soul. I am hoping to publish by the end of 2013.

Where can my readers get your books?

AMAZON CANADA       AMAZON US

Jude Ouvard is a young, aspiring Canadian author.   She is mother to small children and works full time, yet still finds time for her passion of writing.   Enjoy her blog.