Around The Globe With Russ Colchamiro

cape-mayThis week I pick up not just my featured author, but his family, too. We take a short hop to Cape May, NJ. Sunning on the beach, his children (the Ninjas), playing in the sand, the wife working on her tan. Out farther, dolphins play. What a cool place for an interview.

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

A: If I’m the most fascinating person in New York City than Manhattan has gotten awfully boring! LOL! I’m Russ Colchamiro, a science fiction and fantasy writer predominantly focusing on humor, mystery, and action adventure. I’m married with twin ninjas—a boy and a girl. I work in Manhattan, and live in Northern NJ. I also have a crazy dog, Simon, who may or may not be an alien himself.

Genius cover2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

A: I think most people have that ‘one in a million’ experience once in their lives. For some reason I’ve had about a dozen of them. I have no idea why. But for someone who generally speaking stays close to home—except when I travel the world!—I seem to have a knack for getting looped into the unpredictable scenarios that seem to be influenced by cosmic forces. Oh, the stories I could tell. Oh … wait …

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a professional wrestler?

A: I can barely wrestle the Netflix remote away from my ninjas, much less get in the ring. When it comes to writing, the best way I can say it is this: being a writer isn’t what I do, it’s who I am. Not writing simply isn’t an option for me.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

A: Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Harlan Coben, Carl Sagan, and Sara Gran. Besides being great writers they’re all brilliant in their own ways and have (or had) a life perspective—and experiences—different from mine. I’m a bit of a philosophical guy with a curiosity I’m never able to satisfy.

FK cover5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book be great company?

A: Love, Murder & Mayhem is a new anthology from Crazy 8 Press, with 15 stories from 15 authors. While I’m typically a novelist, I served as editor for this one, and contributed one of the stories. Each tale contains at least one act of love or romance, at least one murder, with lots of mayhem, all in various science fiction settings. We have superhero and supervillain stories. Off-world and space cruiser stories. We’ve also got A.I., private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travel, an aliens/monsters mash-up and … one DuckBob! Perfect reading for a layover.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

A: I tend to do a lot of ‘pre writing’—a combination of outline, story concepts, and character arcs. I take a lot of notes, and try to work out most of the plot—like storyboarding a movie—before I sit down and clack the keys. Once I have it all down, then I start digging in, following my chapter outlines. After the manuscript is written, I go back and do anywhere from 5 to 10 revisions, tightening up the prose, rewriting where needed, and layering in details, descriptions, and dialogue to fill in the gaps. Then I show the manuscript to my trusted inner circle, and then make additional edits after reviewing their feedback. I’m process oriented in this way. I edit, edit, and edit again until I feel like I’ve nailed it.

Astro cover7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

A: Don’t over think it. Start writing. Doesn’t matter if what you write makes sense or not, if it’s good or not. It’s irrelevant. Just get the ideas flowing. There’s an old saying from my hero Zig Ziglar I adhere to: You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to start if you want to be great. Just write and write and write, ignoring any doubts or confusion. Just go. You’ll get there.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

A: My overriding philosophy is this: Every day my goal is to be a better man today than I was yesterday, and to be a better man tomorrow than I am today.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

A: I’ll probably stop writing when I’m dead. Maybe. My next project is going to focus on my private eye character Angela Hardwicke. She’s in that classic Sam Spade style, fedora, pinstripe suit, knows the angles. She’s appeared in three of my books so far—including Love, Murder & Mayhem—but it’s time for her to get her own book. My plan is to do an entire series with her. I’m also working on a top secret project which I can’t talk about just yet. But stay tuned!

Colchamiro10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

A: You can find me on Amazon, Goodreads, my Web site and the Crazy 8 Press Web site. Plus Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And when I’m on book tour. And … Links here:

Love, Murder & Mayhem at Amazon

Russ books at Amazon

My Web site

Crazy 8 Press Web site



Facebook author page

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U & I – Questions

time for questionsLast week, I invited readers to ask me questions regarding my experiences with Uber. During my time as a driver I talk with passengers and they also have questions they like to ask. I’ve noticed many, many repeat questions. Today I’d like to mention some and give my answers, which, unfortunately, have become pretty standard. Not sure how to answer the same question week after week with different words.

  1. How long have you been driving for Uber?

Two years in September, 2017

  1. How long have you been driving today?

(This answer, of course, depends on when I started so this is the exception to the standard answer.)

  1. Have you been busy today?

It’s been pretty steady.

  1. Do you like to drive for Uber?

It’s not too bad. (Actually, I think this is sort of a dumb question. Uber isn’t my primary job and I set my own schedule. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it.)

  1. Do you do this part time and what Is your regular job?

Yes. Assistant Graphic Designer for Gannett.

  1. Do you mainly stay in downtown?

I cover the metro. I’ve driven in all of the suburbs and even farther out. Usually, I stick around downtown during Friday afternoons and sit at the Kum and Go on University by the Interstate on Saturdays, covering the west side.

  1. What’s your longest trip?

Either from the airport to Grinnell or the airport up to Ames, then back to the airport. (A guy left his identification on his dresser. That was fun because snow fell during the trip and we were caught in a three-mile single file lane due to an accident.

  1. What’s your craziest Uber story?

I really don’t have any wild and crazy stories. Most of the people are pretty cool. Some of them like to play music and turn up the volume. Some talk loud. Couples will kiss and snuggle in the back seat (no outright making out…yet.)

I’ve had some unusual trips. *I took two guys from the strip club back to home so they could get more money, then back to the strip club. *I took a young couple out to a west side night club where they tried to get in without an ID, then took them back to the east side. That one lasted 45 minutes. *I took a quartet home while one guy was upset because he was thrown out of the bar and the front seat girl tried to calm him. *I took another quarter of girls to various homes while they argued amongst themselves on trying to recover their cars the next morning. One girl said she wouldn’t pick up the others, then didn’t understand why they were mad at her.

  1. Do you make good money with Uber.

It pays the gas and a little bit more.

10.. Have you had anyone puke in your car.

No. Many of the drunks fall asleep. I’ve had two almosts. New Year’s Eve 2015. I pulled over to the side of the road so one guy could get out and do his business. Ditto with the drunk girl, who dry heaved. Then at the motel, she was out before the car stopped and kneeled in the snowdrift to finish her business.

No, I haven’t had any puking, but…

This last weekend I picked up a trio from one of the bars down on Court Avenue and took them out to the west side. The first girl crawled in and sprawled in the back seat. The guy entered the passenger seat and said the first girl was pretty drunk but wouldn’t throw up. He proceeded to play loud music for the entire trip. The second girl kept telling me she loved the song Africa by Toto. When I dropped them off, they hauled out the drunk girl and I discovered that…she had urinated. It had spread to cover the entire back seat. Uber said they’d charge her extra and reimburse me for cleaning costs. Needless to say, but I will, that was the last trip of the night. Which was fine. It was 2 a.m. and I had planned on heading home anyway.

Any more questions?

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U & I – Hello

20121231new_uber_logo2A couple years ago I kept hearing advertisements for Uber. You know, the taxi’s competition, where citizens drive their own cars, and pick up passengers through an application. So, I invested in an upgraded phone, signed up and have been driving since September 2015.

In the almost two years, I’ve discovered the many areas in which to create blog topics. So, in an ongoing series, I present U & I.

First up, I’ll introduce Uber to those who may not be familiar. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the technical side but basically, you download the Uber application to your phone, input your information, including a debit/credit card. When you want a ride, you input your pick-up address and destination. The call goes out to the closest Uber driver and in minutes, you have a ride. Riders can, for the most part (although lately their have been system glitches) chart the progress of the driver, know the first name of the driver, and the make/model/color of the driver’s car. Riders can change the destination at any time, including during the trip. Riders can share the cost of the trip with other passengers.

For the driver, he/she downloads the Uber Driver application. This person has gone through uploading insurance, registration, license plate, an image of the car, and a head shot to the Uber system. The driver has also uploaded a bank account for the weekly deposits on trips made. Drivers are paid each Wednesday for the previous Monday through Sunday trips. Lately, though, drivers have the option of early deposit for a fifty cent fee.

Once the application is downloaded, the driver activates it, and goes online. He is now ready to make trips.

For the best impression, it is always advisable to have a clean car, in and out, a full tank of gas, and maybe some extras for the passengers. I’ve heard one woman has devised a basket of treats and water bottles for riders. The driver must be well groomed, should know the traffic laws, and speak English. This last is not to be discriminatory, but I have heard of one driver who couldn’t speak English and was let go.

When the driver receives a call for a ride, there is a flashing beeping circle showing amount of time to the pick-up point. The driver will either tap the screen to accept or not tap and 15 seconds later, the call is dropped and goes to the next closest driver. Once accepted, the system shows the location of the rider. The driver has the option of plotting out the route through whichever GPS maps system has been connected to the system. I’ve chosen Google Maps. It’s not always reliable, but works well.

At the pickup point when the rider enters the car, I always confirm the name, because I have had the wrong person enter the car. (Which means, the person is not paying attention to the phone, which shows the make/model/color of the car. Mine is an orange Dodge Caliber, and used to be a gray Ford Escape. They’re not too difficult to recognize.) Anyway, I swipe the Start Trip which shows the destination which I also confirm. I can also plot it through the map if necessary. At the drop-off point, I then swipe the End Trip and then rate the passenger. The passenger will have ample time to rate the driver. Five stars is great, and currently I have over 700 five star rides. The system averages the rankings and a driver must stay above a certain percentage to be allowed to drive.

Payment is made through the card the rider has uploaded. The driver never knows the last name of the person or sees any cash payments for the ride. Tips are different and many people do tip which is a bonus to the driver. I’ve had tips from $1 to $20.

The system is set up so that driver and rider can communicate with each other but neither sees the other’s phone number. Calls and texts are sent through the Uber system.

Benefits to the rider:

– Faster service. I have heard from many riders how the regular taxis can take up to an hour or more to pick-up. The longest I’ve had to travel is about 23 minutes.

– Cheaper ride. One of the frequent comments I hear from riders is that Uber is cheaper than cabs. I know from personal experience when I was forced to take a cab (because no Uber driver was out at 5 am) and I had to go to work because of my car being down. The driver wanted to take me on an out of the way route to pad his fare. I had to keep redirecting him to the correct route. The trip from my house to downtown was $55. About twenty cents for each tenth of a mile. An Uber ride from a gas station near Southridge to my house was about $9 and would have been less than $15 or $20 from downtown. There are exceptions in that a lot of time there are Surges. Increased cost for increased demand. Better for the drive, but it costs a bit more for the rider. However, I think it’s still cheaper, because the cabs will also increase their prices.

– Friendly drivers. I enjoy conversing with the riders and have shared a laugh or two with many.

– Navigation. Riders are intelligent and they know if a driver has missed a turn. That’s why there is the map system. Drivers want to earn higher ratings so they’re going to be more honest and not try to pad the fare.

Benefits for the driver:

– For me, it’s a chance to get out of the house instead of spending time at home doing nothing or trying to think of something to do.

– Ease of payment as explained above.

– Drivers choice. I think this is the biggest asset to the driver. I can choose when I go online and offline. I have no boss over my shoulder telling me to get out and drive. (Well, not since I stopped the irritating texts from the system. Lol) My schedule is usually Friday nights and Saturdays. But not always. I drove the evening of July 3 since I had the holiday off. I drive until I feel tired or just don’t want to drive anymore. A cool aspect of the system that is recent is that they’ve set it up to where I can plug in my home as destination and the system will look for rides going my way.

I have met a wide variety of people, and have seen more of Des Moines and the suburbs than I ever imagined I would.

So, that’s Uber. There are other details I could have gone into, but I thought a nice intro would be good. I’ll delve into other aspects of Uber-ing in future blogs.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to know something specific about Uber, please, ask them in the comment section and I’ll include them in future blogs.

If you need a ride, try Uber. I might show up in your driveway.

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Spotlight on: Gabriele Russo

Inclement Gods Banner 851 x 315

3D Inclement GodsInclement Gods

Gods Inc Series

Book Two

Gabriele Russo

Fiery Seas Publishing

June 2017

Book Description:

When you live in a world pullulating with gods, can you truly be an atheist? Well, yes…if you know a way to get rid them.

Mysantheos, a fanatic atheist at the head of a powerful lobby/terrorist organization, has created a weapon able to kill gods. All he needs is a disruptive figurehead to attract the masses. Goblin, who has just tried to supplant Queen Louhi as CEO of Gods Incorporated, has been deemed the right kind of unworthy. Mysantheos breaks him out of the Queen’s prison and the godslaughter begins.

As the divine bodies pile up, panicked gods blame the CEO Queen for Goblin’s escape. Resentment builds in the company and violent factions start pushing for the extermination of the human race. Will Queen Louhi’s Nerd Squad, a group of angry gods, and Richard (a down-on-his-luck private eye), manage to find Mysantheos in time to prevent what promises to be the bloodiest conflict between men and god ever?

Excerpt 1

“LET’S KILL ‘EM ALL!” YELLED MARS, presiding in lieu of Jupiter. Ahura-Mazda* sighed wearily. These young gods were exasperating, and now that the meeting was in its fiftieth year, there were always a few standing in for their elders. Mars, always hot under the helmet, was one of the worst.

He smoothed his long curly beard, rose and rearranged his silken robes. “How many times must we explain this? We tried that before. Does the Deluge ring a bell? And now we’re back to square one. There has got to be a better way.”

“Not to mention how much work it was,” said Vishnu, playing with his nose ring. “Exhausting! All that rain…and then having to recreate everything.”

“Well, I for one wouldn’t mind getting a good storm on,” said Thor. “It would be more interesting than this meeting.”

“You gods do what you want with your humans.” Inti’s sun-disk crown of feathers was disarrayed from shaking his head so much. “My believers are still faithful, and no one isdumping a shitload of water on their heads.

Excerpt 2

“So we’ll kill’em all!” repeated Mars. “They’ll believe in us then.”

“Who?” Athena’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “The dead ones?”

Amun stood up before Mars could reply. “Talking of death, what about Anubis’s proposition the other day? That thing about us going back to earth to live with the humans.”

“Might not these scientists interpret this move as one of weakness?” asked Inti.

“Not if we kill them all!” shrilled Mars with mounting anguish, cheeks now red under his strawberry blond peach fuzz of a beard.

“Ah yes, good idea,” said Athena. “Live with humans and piss them off so they revolt.”

Thor twirled his hammer. “How can they revolt? We’re gods.”

“Perhaps,” said Ahura-Mazda. “But we are few and they are many. Personally, I preferred Mwari’s idea about creating a new dimension, even if it does mean leaving what’s left of my believers without guidance.”

“Both ideas have merit,” said Athena, “and their faults: I think the disbelief runs too deep here for our presence to do any good. What if we tried a combination of the two?”

“You mean create a new world AND live with the humans?”

Vishnu’s voice became pensive.

“No!” Mars’s whole face turned vermillion. “Killing them is the solution! A nice little blood bath…Ah! Come on!”

Excerpt 3

The two men watched him leave. When the sound of his footsteps died away, they detached themselves from the wall, unhooked the ladder and lowered it into the pit. As the prisoner started moaning that he had had enough, the big man hurried down, made a shushing gesture and clubbed him hard on the head.

Two minutes later the ladder was back on the wall and the big man, now carrying a black duffel bag across his shoulders, followed his accomplice out in the maze of corridors. Silently, they made their way through twists and turns until they reached an open sewer grate.

The big man dumped the bag down in the hole and sat on the ledge. “Now get back to your post,” he whispered, “be ready for the next extraction.” Lithe as a tiger, he jumped in the dark tunnel.

Dragging the grate back in place, his accomplice wondered in what sort of unholy mess he had gotten himself into.

Fiery Seas

authorAbout the Author:

Gabriele Russo, AKA Lucie-Gabrielle Jolicoeur-Rousseau, was born in Quebec City amidst a family of book lovers – her father had dreamed of being a writer and both of her brothers are published authors.

Since she earned her Bachelor’s in History, it was no surprise (except to her) that she ended up working in restaurants, eventually owning two, which almost drove her mad. She sold them and was nursed back to pseudo-sanity by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.

That’s when she answered the family calling and decided to write. Armed with her ideas for the Gods Inc. series she went back to the University and got her Master’s in Creative Writing.

She now lives with her husband in Culpeper, Virginia, where she divides her time between painting, ripping apart and reconstructing her recently bought historical home, playing tennis and, of course, writing more books.

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Fun In The Sun

floridaThis morning I receive the knock on the door and when answered, I’m whisked away to Florida…okay, not quite, but this week’s guest blog loves Florida and sun and summer…as do I.

Ruin Banner 851 x 315I love summer. There. I said it.

I’m from Florida, which isn’t so much the land of sunshine as people would think, especially in the summer when it rains three out of five days. The humidity is so thick you can slice it with a knife and let’s not even talk about what it does to your hair if you weren’t born with stick straight locks. There are also bugs the size of your hand. And unless you’re one of the lucky few, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll get sunburned at least once.

Still—I love summer.

I love the longer days—so long, I have to wear sunglasses until close to nine at night. I like being able to sit on a patio at seven in the evening with a beer and a book and just relax. I am sweaty and possibly getting sunburned? Yes, but it’s a small price to pay.

I love the water, specifically the coast. I’m a little over an hour from the coast and from now until sometime in early October, the water is in the upper seventies to mid-eighties. Are there jellyfish and seaweed and Cthulhu? Yes, yes, and I hope to hell not but again, those are all a small price to pay. Well, Cthulhu would be a large price but I still think it would be worth it.

Finally, I love how quiet my city gets. Granted, we’re still a city but in the summer most of the college students go home and we have about two and a half months where it’s mostly locals and it’s a completely different vibe. Traffic is lighter, people are more relaxed, the pace is slower. Don’t get me wrong—we’re a college town and the students are a major part of our economy. But it’s nice to have a break from the shenanigans of teenager freshly released in to the wild for a bit.

So I don’t mind the heat. Or the bugs. Or having to slather myself with sunscreen in order to not turn a hundred shades of red, all of them unflattering. I love summer.

Except for the humidity.


Is it done?” Cam strapped the saddle bags he’d somehow managed to stuff all my clothes in to the little bike—not quite a motorcycle but bigger and less dorky than a scooter. When I didn’t answer right away, he stepped over to me, grabbing my face in his hands and squeezing. “Coniglietto. Is it done? Did you take care of her?”

“Yes.” Even to my own ears my voice sounded dull and lifeless. Considering the fact I felt high as fucking kite, I could only assume it was shock. “I took care of her.”

Not in the way he meant, not exactly, but I’d taken care of her the best way I knew how.

I’d done a lot of horrible things, on purpose and accident, and I had no doubt I would do more horrible things still. But I’d be damned even more than I already was before I actually killed my sister.

“Good girl.” Cam pressed a quick, hard kiss to my forehead before steering me toward the bike. “I have little doubt the archangels will be here soon—so we shouldn’t be.”

“Where are we going?” It didn’t matter. I had, for all intents and purposes, hooked my wagon to his. If anyone threw doubt on my commitment to the so-called cause, all Cam would have to do was point out what I’d done to Joanne. Sure, there might be trouble when it came out she wasn’t actually dead but it could all be explained away as yet another newbie mistake.

After all, they taught us how to not kill people. Not the opposite.

“I’m thinking Prague.” He settled himself on the bike, gesturing for me to do the same. He handed me a helmet, his lips curving upward when I stared at it blankly. “Safety, little rabbit. And a disguise. It’s safer for us to blend in at the moment.”

“Right.” My hands felt thick and clumsy as I struggled to strap on the protective headgear and I cursed under my breath when Cam finally took pity on me and did it himself. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Change is hard, little rabbit.” He brushed his lips over mine before flicking the tip of my nose. “Now, let’s go take over the world, hmm?”


LM Pruitt

Release Date: May 31, 2017

Book Description:

I can resist everything except temptation—Oscar Wilde

But what happens when temptation is everywhere?

Cam is tempting to me toward the darkness.

Barry is tempting me toward the light.

And I want them both. I want it all.

Temptation will be my salvation. Or my ruin.

authorAbout the Author:

L.M. Pruitt has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember. A native of Florida with a love of New Orleans, she has the uncanny ability to find humor in most things and would probably kill a plastic plant. She knows this because she’s killed bamboo. Twice. She is the author of the Winged series, the Plaisir Coupable series, Jude Magdalyn series, the Moon Rising series, and Taken: A Frankie Post Novel.

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loyalty-quoteOnce again I bring you short essays on monthly themes from Brayton’s Black Belt Academy. This time around is Loyalty

Ethan –

Loyalty is standing up for your friends. For example, let’s say a friend told you a secret. Being loyal means you keep that secret. Another example is watching and making sure they’re safe. I am loyal to my family because I watch my sister when I promise to.

Stella –

I think loyalty means learning from and listening to my Mom and Dad. It is speaking up and saying “Yes, Sir!” at karate when we are being asked to do something. It is trying my hardest to do things the right way. It is also helping my brother and my family and my friends when they need it. At school, I am loyal to my teacher by showing up on time, doing my homework, listening, taking turns and trying my best.

People Loyal to me: Mom & Dad, Grandma & Grandpa, Grayson

People I am Loyal to: Mom & Dad, Mrs. Westhoff, Grandpa & Grandma, Mr. Brayton, my friends

Madison –

Loyalty is paying attention to others. I am loyal to my teacher, mom, dad, dogs. My teacher, mom, dad, and dogs are loyal to me.

Noelle –

What is loyalty. Well, the definition of loyalty is “faithfulness to a commitment”, but loyalty’s definition in my eyes is “staying true to your promises.” Loyalty is when you stand firm to your friends, to your family, and to your promises. It’s also when you can turn down temptation that would seem more fun to do at the time. Loyalty is always what I look for in a friend.

You can use loyalty wherever you go – school, outside, at home, or even in the small unimportant places. Loyalty is a key characteristic that you should look for in people. If you see allegiance and faithfulness shining out of someone’s personality, you know that they have a great loyal quality!

At school, loyal acts happen all over. If someone’s friends invite them to play, but that person had earlier promised to help another friend understand an assignment, it is a king and loyal act to stay and do what you’ve already told someone you’d do.

If, at a friend’s house, I am told to come home to help my cousin babysit like I promised earlier, staying at my friend’s house instead of helping my cousin, which was my earlier commitment, would not be an example of loyalty.

Loyalty is being faithful to what you’ve already told someone you would do. It’s helping out a friend in need, assisting your cousin, and even the small, unimportant things, like grabbing your friend a piece of paper like you earlier told them you would do instead of talking with another friend at the other table. Can you find loyalty in your friends? Can they find it in you? Look for loyalty.

Elijah –

The definition of loyalty is: the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments.

I like loyal friends because they can help you out. In return, they expect you to help them our, too. Remember, a loyal friend will stay until the end. If you need to do something, but you don’t have time, you could ask your loyal friend.

So, no you have my opinion of loyalty. I hop that you can find a friend that is loyal. It is greatly beneficial to life.

Saleena –

Loyalty: faithful to a cause. Faithful to someone to whom fidelity is held to be don. Loyalty is also to the mother and father who gave birth to you. Loyalty must be instilled in you as a child from your parents.

Loyalty is something that cannot be bought. Loyalty must be earned. The nearest thing to loyalty is a mother’s love. Remain loyal when things are not going smoothly. The greatest loyalty in life is to “thine own self be true.” We also find our loyalty in God and Jesus. Loyalty for our teachers and instructors.

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Around The Globe With David H. Minton

opera hosueThis morning I enter the transporter to pick up this week’s featured author. Where are we going and what will be our experience when we get there? Well, here’s what happened, straight from the author:

We are enjoying a rich sea food dinner right on Circular Quay just across from the opera house in Sidney. The weather, as always, is remarkable, warm with a friendly breeze. As we are eating, we happen to notice a couple a few tables away eating together. They appear more simply dressed than most of the patrons and maybe the are drinking a bottle of champagne. Perhaps it is some sort of celebration, we don’t know, but they appear so happy together. Then we notice we have the same waitress, so that is when we decide to do what I call a RAK (Random Act of Kindness). We have learned from previous experience that if you don’t share the same wait person, it is nearly impossible to succeed with a RAK. We conspire with the waitress to pay their bill. She is delighted with the conspiracy, informing us that we couldn’t possibly have picked a more deserving couple. But then, suddenly, she wants to know what to tell them, so she hurries over to our table. We are speaking in low whispers, but I don’t think it matters, the couple have not taken their eyes off each other. I explain, wait until we are gone and then tell them their bill was already paid. And so we linger over coffee while they have their desert and then we settle their bill, and our bill, and then we are gone.

Somewhere in all that, there’s the following interview.

Where on Earth Button 300 x 225

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I’ve been called a renaissance man by many of my friends, enemies and co-workers and I believe one of the reasons this makes me different is that I never see obstacles to what I am trying to do, just interesting problems and challenges which I enjoy solving.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I write award winning poetry and mathematical algorithms sophisticated enough to be patented.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?

I did a lot of ‘something elses.’ I’ve played in a band, I’ve taught physics and engineering at the University level, I’ve done a variety of engineering jobs from refueling nuclear reactors to working targeting algorithms for missiles. So in short, I never experienced a “rather than something else.” If something else interested me, I did it. Being a writer interested me because of the attention to detail necessary to succeed.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Probably P. T. Deuterman, because of the wide variety of plots he has been able to come up with in his various books. I believe it would be quite interesting to brainstorm plots with him. I’ve read all his books, but I’ve never met him. Another great possibility would be Philip Kerr, for the same reasons.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

It would be great for a four hour layover at an airport, because it is a single contained end-to-end adventure, virtually tailor made for situations like getting delayed for donkey hours at an airport. For being stranded on a desert island, I think it might not be so good, it is not dense enough. You would need a bible or koran for something like being stranded on a deserted island.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I generally start my stories with a fairly loose or open outline of what I want the story to include. Then I spend some time filling in the main characters; finally the events that make the story happen. I do not find that doing a detailed framework or outline works very well for me. I need a looser framework and then I fill in he story as I go. One thing this method requires me to do however, is fill in the details of the characters a I write about them, so as to avoid contradicting myself later. Usually I’ve been to the places I write about. I may google a map to help me remember details of place or orientation. I am pretty careful not to use brand names in my stories and rarely use the names of specific places unless they are in the public domain–for example if I know there is a “Pizza Pirate” at a certain location, I will just call it a pizza place. If I name a specific place, it is made up and not real. I do this to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

When I am at a loss on how to start writing a section or a book or a scene, I have often found it helpful to write about what I want to write about. For example, I have a scene in which my characters are at dinner and are discussing something critical to the plot. I can’t quite get my head around how to write the scene. Usually, I can find a way by beginning with writing about the scene, what is important and why I want to include it.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

“Make it happen.”

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I’m working on the next “Where on Earth?” story, which is set on a new winery near Santa Fe New Mexico. I’m also working on a children’s book about an unlikely friendship between a pelican name “Fast Eddy” and a penguin named “Ibix.” Additionally, I am working on a novel about “Steel Helmet.” which is an “Iron Dome” like missile defense interceptor system being built in the Gulf States by an unlikely band of allied characters, including Israeli, Saudi, Swedish, Qatar and American engineers.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

On the Fiery Seas publishing web site,


Excerpt 1:

Flying along in his Jet Ranger, Dan Richards knew they were just barely in advance of a storm closing in. Returning from his work in Fairbanks, Search and Rescue was the last thing on his mind. Besides, they didn’t have much time. They had to get this chopper on the ground and in a hanger or no one would be flying it, ever. If they didn’t make it to Base, which was the only hanger around, there was a very high likelihood the chopper would be damaged, even destroyed by the storm. Base was about twenty minutes away, so he figured they could just make it to safety. But, Base knew that as well; they wouldn’t have called him if it weren’t serious. In fact, a rescue beacon alarm was an urgent call for help. Someone was in great danger, or worse. That was something with which Dan was familiar. Although not his job, in the wilderness of Alaska, he often found it was his calling. If they thought he could help, maybe he could. He nodded to Ted Matthews, his fair-skinned, buzz-cut, no-nonsense co-pilot.

“Base, Red Wing. Go ahead.”

“Red Wing, Base. I have a constant SOS from a rescue beacon. It may indicate an avalanche victim, given the region and the weather.”

“Roger, possible avalanche victim. Where is it?”

Excerpt 2:

When he got back to the infirmary, he set his cup of coffee on the counter and put the water and chow down in front of the dog. She stood up, sniffed around, and began lapping up some water. Then, she moved to the meatloaf and pretty quickly had devoured the contents of the plate and licked it clean. Checking on the patient, he found her core body temperature up to normal now but she was still unconscious. He carefully lifted her out of the bath, placed her on a clean bed and tucked the blankets firmly around her to keep her body temperature up. Once he was satisfied she’d be fine for a while, he decided to go check on the boss, but first he asked the dog, “Do you want to take a trip outside? The weather is pretty bad, but I can let you out back if you like.” The dog looked attentively at him, but otherwise made no move. For no particular reason he would ever remember, he repeated, “Veux-­‐‑tu aller à l’extérieur?” (Would you like to go outside?) Immediately the dog came over to the door, right next to him. So, he thought, a French-speaking dog. What next? I assume that means the Mademoiselle speaks French as well. With that, he quickly made his way to Dan’s room. Once there, he opened the back door of the lodging and said to the dog,

Ici, rapidement!” Apparently understanding, the dog rapidly ran outside into the howling storm, disappearing in seconds.

Oh, mon Dieu! thought Frenchie, maybe I lost her in the storm. But, before he could even begin to worry that he didn’t know the dog’s name, she was back.

“Ah, merci,” he said as he held the door.

Excerpt 3

Turning to the frozen bundle, Dan asked, “What’s the matter, Larry?”

“Don’t know,” he mumbled, hardly understandable. “She’s hurting, can’t stand. Baby not due for 10 more weeks, last check-up everything fine. I left her with enough firewood for a couple of days, been walking all night.”

“Okay, you stay here and get warm and fed. Frenchie, have Ken break out the snowmobile, get it topped off and add a couple cans of fuel; take Larry to the infirmary and get him to bed. You are going with me. I’ll be ready in two minutes; we’ll take rescue kit C.”

“Roger,” Frenchie said and left the room.

“I’m going with you,” Larry said.

“No,” Dan was quite gentle. “We have to get her back here in this storm. I’ve done this before and so has Frenchie; you rest easy, we’ll make it back. Frenchie is a combat EMT. You’ve been up all night and need to rest up for what is to come. If I take you, I won’t be able to bring Frenchie back—nothing personal, but I’d rather have the medic in this case. We’ll be back in six hours, max. You sit tight.”

“I could walk back here again,” Larry said.

“Don’t be heroic, Larry. Anne will want you here when we get this done. Sit tight, go with Frenchie.” He checked his watch. “We’ll be back around lunchtime.”

Frenchie hurried out of the room, yelling to Ken. Dan rushed into his bedroom-bath area, quickly brushed his teeth, got dressed and picked up a Winchester 30-06 with a box of ammo on his way out the door. Samantha felt forgotten in the hubbub, but he stopped in front of her, gestured to the room, and said, “Mi casa, su casa. I’ll be back as soon as I can; you won’t be stuck here any longer once we can get a chopper out. I’m sorry to leave in such a rush.” And then he was gone and she was alone in the room.

Excerpt 4

As the flight got underway, Samantha, having never experienced a helicopter ride before, saw that the view below her was quite different, in an intimate way, than the view from a passengerplane window. She looked all around below and was amazed by the closeness and the individual features of the view. She now understood why it was sometimes called a ‘God’s eye view.’ Like God, one could stop and hover over one place, examining as long as needed. When she looked down on a scene from the chopper, it looked like what she imagined God might see if he looked down from heaven. The amount of detail she could see was amazing. She began to study the terrain, looking for anything familiar. Her reasoning was that one of the most important things in her life had happened not far from here, so she should at least be able to recognize major landmarks. It wasn’t to be, however, and she was entirely surprised when she heard Dan announce in her ear they had arrived and he would be putting the bird down. They would wait until the police caught up, in about five minutes. By this time, they were sitting on the ground, waiting.

At first Samantha didn’t recognize anything, but then as she scanned the scene, she realized her team was congregated off to the side and they were furiously active, barking and running. Suddenly, Dan leaped out of the cockpit and began running toward her dogs with a powerful-­‐‑looking rifle. When he started firing at the dogs, the noise blasted in her ears, and she was sure it was powerful.

“What’s he doing shooting at my dogs?” she shouted, “I have to stop him.”

Frantically, she undid her seatbelt and moved to the door, trying to figure out how to open it and get out. By the time she had figured this out and had landed in a foot of snow, the police department chopper had arrived. The Police Chief jumped out and began clambering through the snow after Dan, carrying a shotgun—and also shooting at her dogs. She bounded into the path Dan had cut and furiously followed the two men, yelling loudly at them as she went. Etoile ran beside her, undeterred by the fluffy snow that threatened to bury her with each step, even using Dan’s tracks.

coverWhere On Earth? An Alaska Adventure

By David H. Minton

Fiery Seas Publishing

May 30, 2017

Romantic Adventure

Book Description:

Dan Richards, an Iraq war vet, is a surveyor for the mining company, looking to open a new silver mine. Scrambling to establish his helicopter charter business in the wilds of Alaska, while trying to stay connected to his teenage daughter, his world soon turns upside down when he rescues a woman and her dog sledding team after an avalanche.

Samantha Bettencourt, an environmental engineer, is eager to begin her first project with the university. A spokesperson for an environmentalist group intent on preserving the wilderness, she is on the path to saving the wild, but when Dan walks into her life things start to change.

Sparks fly between Dan and Samantha as they find themselves running for their lives—from the good guys as well as the bad guys out to ruin the things they long to protect. Will they be able to escape before it’s too late? Will they get a chance at love or will they lose everything. . . including their lives?

About the Author:

After graduating college, David spent two tours in United States Military Assistance Command Republic of Viet-Nam, before beginning his career as a nuclear engineer, then electronics engineer, tele-communications engineer, and software security engineer. He has previously published three non-fiction books, several poems, and many non-fiction technical and historical articles.

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Spotlight on Laura Bickle


coverThe Dragon’s Playlist

Laura Bickle

ISBN: 9781537891965

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

From the author of THE HALLOWED ONES and NINE OF STARS comes a new novel blending the magical and the real…

This is war,” the dragon said. And she believed him.

Di fled rural West Virginia to study music and pursue a bright future as a violinist. But when a mining accident nearly kills her father, she is summoned back home to support her family. Old ghosts and an old flame emerge from the past. When Di gets a job as a bookkeeper at the same mine where her father worked, she is drawn into a conflict pitting neighbor against neighbor as the mine plans an expansion to an untouched mountain.

If the mining company’s operation goes forward, there will be more at stake than livelihoods or the pollution of the land: Di has discovered a dragon lives deep within Sawtooth Mountain, and he is not happy with this encroachment upon his lair. When catastrophe strikes, Di must choose between her family’s best interests and protecting the dragon – the last surviving bit of magic in Di’s shrinking world.

In every fight, sides are chosen. And there can be no yearning for what has been left behind.

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bickleAbout the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology-Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

More information about Laura’s work can be found at

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Spotlight on La Baronne

The Seduction Expert Button 300 x 225The Seduction Expert

La Baronne

Paperback: 178 pages

Publisher: VSP Publishing

Genre: Romance, self-help

Release date: May 27, 2017

ISBN-10: 0998427705

ISBN-13: 978-0998427706

coverBook Description:

After two best-sellers in France and Brazil, the seduction expert has now arrived in New York with her Vuitton luggage. She was the most famous seduction expert in France. She is now the most famous seduction expert in the world.

Imagine years spent in her company, during which she challenges the biggest heartbreakers… Years of analyzing, tracking and well-deserved revenge. All motivated by a single promise: to change the lives of all those women calling upon her services. A few women would swear that The Seduction Expert changed their lives.

She is an iron hand in a velvet glove, a woman of honour, dressed in a designer suit. She is the Wonder Woman of modern times who owns Gucci shoes and Burberry coats. She is the kind of woman of action who brings emotional turmoil. Get her card, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barth!


For them, love is for the VIPs, the fashionable, connected set to which they will perhaps never be a part?! Yes, they might have bank accounts in Zurich, or look like Barbie dolls, but to no avail. If his heart has not gone into 5th gear, these young ladies will remain on the side of the road to destiny. They all want the same thing; the rare pearl, the top prize and the jackpot. And from the fine lingerie from Aubade to the latest fruity gloss from Dior, all stops are pulled out to successfully integrate the circle. They all want to taste of this oh-so-select concept. You know? The thrill of love-at-first-sight, love with a capital L. This contagious illness for which time is the only cure. They all want to catch it, and many end up by contacting The Seduction Expert for help in doing so.

About the Author:

La Baronne is a consultant, and human relations hold few secrets for her. She knows all the facets, even the smallest, as she has spent time studying the subject.

In her opinion, love and human relations are simply a science integrating a complicated mechanism from which stem a number of principles, laws, equations and rules. Like a game of poker where you test different strategies at certain moments.

Here you are bluffing, there you are betting, then you are laying the cards on the table and finally, you fold.

In short, the factor “luck” does not exist for La Baronne, it has been invented by those that know nothing about it.


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Spotlight: Marilyn B. Wassmann

Pen Scratching Poets Banner 851 x 315Pen

Scratching Poets


Benjamin Wassmann

Genre: Poetry

Publisher: Author House

Date of Publication: November 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-0448-6

Number of pages: 149

Word Count: 22,634

Cover Artist: Marilyn Benjamin Wassmann

Book Description:

 Pen Scratching Poets has been described as a delightful book in which the author shares her family’s collection of creative poems.

 The poems compilation and art work are by Marilyn B. Wassmann with contributions by members of the Benjamin family and their descendants, with the technical assistance of Paul A. Wassmann.

The book is divided into two sections. The first section, Pen Scratching consists of the poems by Ethel T. Benjamin and her descendants and the second section is Marilyn’s poems





the Author:


 Marilyn Benjamin Wassmann was born in a leap year. She earned four degrees: two in Art History, one in Library Science and one in Studio Art. In 2011, she retired from her work as an art cataloger at the Library of Congress.

Marilyn and her husband, Paul, authored the children’s book, What the Wind Blew In. They live in Hyattsville, Maryland.

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