Tag Archives: fiction

Seeking Reviews/Review Copies for “Dear Frank: Babe Ruth, The Red Sox, and the Great War” by W. Nikola-Lisa

This is an announcement posting only: Please contact the author only through the links below.

W. Nikola-Lisa is pleased to announce his new book, Dear Frank: Babe Ruth, The Red Sox, and the Great War.  Set in 1918, Dear Frank offers the reader a glimpse of life in the Boston area during the waning days of World War I.

Babe Ruth, the Red Sox, and the Great War is a piece of historical fiction for the middle grade reader. The story follows a series of letters written by one brother to another during the latter part of 1918. It’s the last year of World War I and the Boston Red Sox, with Babe Ruth on the mound, are going to the World Series. Andrew, at home in the Boston area, writes to his older brother, Frank, a soldier on Europe’s western front, to catch him up on all the news.

  • Title: Dear Frank: Babe Ruth, The Red Sox, and the Great War
  • Author:  W. Nikola-Lisa
  • Publisher: Gyroscope Books
  • ISBN: 978-1468115215
  • Pages: 100
  • Published: February 2012

About The Author:

W. Nikola-Lisa’s interest in writing books for young readers began as an elementary school teacher. He is the author of numerous books, including the award-winning Bein’ With You This Way (Lee & Low), Shake Dem Halloween Bones (Houghton Mifflin) and the How We Are Smart (Lee & Low), recipient of the prestigious Christopher Award. As an accomplished storyteller and musician, Mr. Nikola-Lisa enjoys sharing his writing experiences with elementary and middle school students nationwide.

For more information, review copies, or interviews please contact:

W. Nikola-Lisa
Email: nikolabooks@gmail.com
Website:  http://nikolabooks.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=87ee175b02a298dcec7e78690&id=c31efb9c4c&e=226d10a84a

Dear Frank is available for purchase online through the author’s website, from the publisher, Amazon.com, BN.com and other online retailers.  Bookstores should contact Ingram for wholesale orders.

Other books by W. Nikola-Lisa from Gyroscope Books:

  • Dragonfly: A Childhood Memoir
  • ISBN: 978-1450595605
  • Published: June 2010
  • Pages: 74

Dragonfly is the author’s childhood memories growing up in Texas in the early 1960s.  It was not a particularly positive time in his life, but it was one that left a deep impression on him.  As such, Dragonfly is not a book for young readers as its content, although not explicitly graphic, is provocative. The author would recommend it for the middle grade reader and up.

  • Hey, Aren’t You the Janitor?: And Other Tales from the Life of a Children’s Book Author
  • ISBN: 978-1453667392
  • Published: January 2011
  • Pages: 52

W. Nikola-Lisa chronicles his life on the road as a children’s book author. Although the stories in this collection reveal a wide variety of characters and settings, the central core revolves around the weird and wacky: a kiss on the hand from a first grader, a brief run-in with Benny the Bull, a case–or two–of mistaken identity. It’s the curtain pulled back on a highly esteemed and delightful profession. Readers young and old will enjoy the stories in this collection.

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Filed under Child/YA Fiction

Cemetary Street by John Zunski

Review: With a variety of situations that happen in all levels of the society you live in, no matter where you are in the world: angst, pain, love, death, Cemetary Street is set in what I would consider Anytown, US, but what I understood to be emotionally engaging to some, didn’t grab me. I could certainly feel the power of the author’s vision in this “slice of someone’s life” tale and what they wished to present, yet the “all-American” theme especially when including military life has never been one I identified with or care for. Characters were vividly drawn and detailed, no doubting that, and the story moved forward with good pace, and obviously a clear plan, I felt Cemetary Street was a great debut effort, but just wasn’t my type of read.


Description: “In a world of presumptuous people, irony is alive and well,” concludes James Morrison, the narrator of this touching coming of age novel. A view Shannie Ortolan – James’s longtime friend, sometimes lover, and full-time obsession – wouldn’t argue. From their first encounter as teenagers until Shannie’s death, experience the twists, turns and enthralling characters that populate Cemetery Street.

On the cusp of the new millennium, James fulfills a promise. Reenacting a childhood ritual, he places a mud pie upon a grave. This simple act triggers powerful memories. Meet the people that shaped James’s life. Shannie, who among other things, introduces him to the sport of dodging freight trains. Count, the cemetery caretaker’s son, helps James navigate the minefields of adolescence until destiny is met in Desert Storm. Russell, an aging blind African-American, guards a horrifying secret behind a cloud of cigar smoke. Diane, Shannie’s mother, a college professor dispels the notion of tweed jackets and elbow patches. Steve Lucas, a mortician’s son, who despite bizarre obsessions, stands by James during his most challenging times.

Laugh, cry, and blush as James recounts events of a late twentieth century American life.”


Author Bio

John was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia. In 2003, he sailed across the country in a U-haul and settled in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. He is the Author of four novels. Cemetery Street is his first. His second, Shangri-la Trailer Park will be published in the fall of 2011. Dirty Bum for President – the story of a unique candidate and Nightwatching – a ghost story, will be published in 2012. He is currently working on Cemetery Street’s sequel, Montana Rural.

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Reviews

Author Interview & Review of Brian Springer’s “Highway to Vengeance”

Review: Volume One of Thomas Highway Novels. Whether it’s about Navy SEAL training or what a body does as it dies, when the extra steps an author takes to make sure his facts are as accurate as possible is obvious, it’s a special thing. There’s always the other side of the coin, making sure the reader is not flooded with too much superfluous information, but I greatly appreciated the authentic voice. For me, it showed absolutely showed this author is serious about his craft, and he means business just like the main character Thomas Highway.

“Highway to Vengeance” had the phrasing and euphemisms associated with “avenge the fallen” type books, so fans of the genre might be pleased with that aspect of Springer’s tale. The main character, Thomas Highway, is presented in such a way you see the human side of him also, not only a man willing to kill those responsible, outside the boundary of law, when his wife is murdered. He remains a sympathetic figure throughout, with a quiet charisma that grows on you. One thing I would have preferred, in this dialogue heavy first person POV, was to have scenes and personalities develop more through description of behaviors than descriptions of actions. Especially at times when high tension or great suspense is presented, too many details can be distracting.

Springer kept up a steady pace of action and methodical progress as we followed Thomas Highway’s path of vengeance and created an anticipation that is unique for me: I was curious about what happens next. We know this is the first volume in a coming series, and Springer really made me want to watch Highway’s evolution. We’ve seen him struggling with his wife’s murder, seeking out and killing the bad guys (and girls), and finally in the end, getting the SOB behind it all. He’s grown as a person, he’s smarter, harder and even more seasoned. And where will he go from here? I’m sure Brian Springer will tell us. “Highway to Vengeance” has a more common theme, like many suspense thrillers, but was very successful in creating a main character people will want to get to know further.


Published: March 29, 2011

Publisher: Ann Egan Publishers

Available at Amazon in print and Kindle ,and Smashwords.

Source: Author

To learn a little more about the author behind the thriller, here’s our interview, but you can always contact the author through his website listed below. 

Brian Springer in his own words:


What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I started off writing supernatural thrillers with a heavy horror element. After I landed an agent, however, he wanted me to write crime thrillers with no supernatural elements, so I did. Three years and two books later, he was unable to land a deal with a publisher so we went our separate ways.  I self-published the crime thrillers I wrote for him but have since gone back to my first love, writing supernatural thrillers. They just offer so much more freedom and the opportunity to talk about issues that matter to me the most; life and death, belief and unbelief, mankind’s purpose (or lack of one) on this earth. It’s much easier to delve into those subjects with a broader canvas to work with. Limiting yourself to the “real” world is just so damn, well, limiting. Ideally I’d like to marry the style and setting of a crime thriller with the subject matter of a supernatural horror novel.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

It was actually in class while getting my MBA. I’d always been a serious reader, but it wasn’t until we were in the middle of a three-hour long discussion about what would make the perfect handheld device (this was way back in 1997) that I realized that I wanted no part of the business world. So I decided to write a book. My first book, a really bad political thriller modelled loosely after George Orwell’s 1984, was written during the year and a half I was getting my MBA. Mostly in class.

Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?

I’ve got a blog that I don’t write nearly often enough. It’s called the BS Book Blog. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter (brianspringer13) and my website can be found here: Brian Springer.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Dan Simmons is my idol because of his effortless weaving of literary elements into his novels and his willingness to buck the establishment and write in multiple genres. I grew up on Stephen King and Clive Barker but have gravitated more towards crime novels in my later years; Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos and Michael Connelly are always solid reads. And George RR Martin is the king of fantasy. Also a nod to Joe Haldeman.

What are your favorite genres to read?

I don’t read genres as much as I read authors. I’ll read crime, horror, fantasy, science fiction, straight thrillers and even some literary novels if the writing is good enough. I’m not a big believer in genres; I understand their necessity but I think they serve as artificial inhibitors. I want a good book, period.

Why do you write?

Multiple reasons: To exorcise my demons. To make sense of the world and ultimately the universe. To keep my mind occupied. To escape from the real world.

What excites you about writing?

 The ability to work things out. I’ve got so many conflicting ideas rummaging around in my head, fighting for priority, that the only way I can organize them is to put them down on paper. And then to see what I’ve written and how it all works together, that’s exciting.

What kind of research do you do for your books?

Depends on the book. For Highway to Vengeance I spent a good deal of time watching documentaries and reading about SEAL training so I’d get the details right. The last group of people you want to piss off are SEALS. Straight thrillers have a lot more technical elements to research; guns, the technological capabilities of the government, layouts of safehouses and heavily fortified compounds, that sort of thing. Most of it comes from the internet but I have a few friends in the military and intelligence communities that allow me to bounce ideas off them. The supernatural thrillers are more off-the-cuff. But most of my supernatural stuff is based in mythology, so I’ve done a lot of research there. Mostly from books but also online. But for both I like to do a lot of geographical research. I like to get a feel for the location I’m working in, even if I scramble some of the specifics to fit my story. On location, if possible. Google if not.

Do you currently have any works in progress?

Yes, two different ones. Both supernatural thrillers, one about a girl with mental abilities that escapes from a government program and goes on the run to seek out someone that can help her figure out her purpose. A quest-type novel. The other one is about an eternal warrior that’s spent the last 2000 years training for a specific reason, only he doesn’t know what that reason is. Sort of an unholy mish-mash of Highlander and The Bourne Identity and The Dark Tower. Both books take place in the same “universe” and may even be part of the same cycle of stories, I haven’t decided yet. Hell, they might even end up as parts of the same book. It just depends on how it plays out.

What would you like readers to know about you the writer?

Wow, a tough one. I guess I’d like my readers to know that I’m very down-to-earth and approachable and truly want to hear from them, both the good and the not-so-good comments. I’m just a normal guy with a screwed-up head, not some psycho artist with a superiority complex and a holier-than-thou attitude. I do this because I’m compelled to, but also because I want to allow people the opportunity to catch a glimpse at a world-view that they might not ordinarily take the time to consider. Also that Brian Springer, the writer, is far different than Brian Springer, the person. All the thoughts and attitudes and philosophies in my books come from the characters themselves and not me. Please don’t confuse the characters with the writer. They are not one and the same.

A big thanks to Brian for taking the time to share more of this thoughts and writing process with readers!

Other titles by Brian Springer, Blood Money, also available through Amazon and other distributors.

Description: “In a world of slippery justice and bankrupt morals, Greg Kelton is an anachronism; a vigilante-for-hire who would be far more at home in the Old West than modern day Southern California. Despite his proclivity for operating outside and even above the law, Kelton is a brutally honest man who only takes on jobs that are in line with his strict moral code, often to the detriment of his own pocketbook.

When Kelton is approached by an old friend with an offer to rescue a beautiful female biologist named Jessica Robbins from federal custody, he accepts without hesitation. They quickly finds themselves on the run from the government, in a race to keep Jessica’s latest discovery, a vaccine for the AIDS virus, from getting squashed.

As the chase continues through Disneyland, Death Valley and finally culminating in the tunnels under Las Vegas, Kelton finds himself growing more attached to Jessica with every passing moment, forcing him to face a past that has left him a fractured, wounded man in order to expose a conspiracy that could change the world as we know it.


Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Interviews, Reviews, Suspense/Mystery

One Mistake by Andy Frankham-Allen

Review: I love psychological stories. Ones that make you think, stories which are more than just a telling of a tale, and “One Mistake” fit that category for me. Without dancing around issues, long backgrounds or dialogue, we are introduced directly to Robert Hoard, the main character, and the plot, which I found believable though some might doubt the possibility of astral projection.

Though we are told some backstory without having directly experienced it, to me this didn’t feel jarring or abrupt. It takes a special skill to do so, and a certain mind which can appreciate the magic authors perform when they successfully create a well-rounded, balanced world in a minimum of pages.

Descriptions are outstanding in placing the reader at the scene, as well as building a sense of horror at what astral projection really can mean, and how it can be manipulated. I didn’t find the ending unexpected, yet “One Mistake” was a satisfying read. My favorite part was the fact it left me with a question. With his new found ability, what was next for Robert Hoard?

Description: When Robert discovers a business card in a phone box advertising astral projection lessons, he thinks he’s stumbled upon a way to improve on his ordinary life. Unfortunately, the instructor has much more sinister plans for his student.

Format & Length: ebook, 9 pages
Published August 2010 by Untreed Reads Publishing
ISBN13: 9781452404684
Source: Publisher through EAR.

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Reviews, Speculative

V.I.T.R.I.O.L. by Anne de Gandt

Review: There was a poem by the French author, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) titled, “Une Charogne (A Carcass)” that particularly struck me. It begins:

“Do you remember the sight we saw, my soul,
that soft summer morning
round a turning in the path…?”

Even when translated to English it has a distinct metre and flow. Visual, simple yet profound, it was intimate, speaking as if only to me, yet clearly had monumental breadth and might whisper to anyone. It was unforgettable after I first heard then read it. Anne de Gandt’s V.I.T.R.I.O.L. was the same.

There is a challenge in this work, however, and I found I ached to revise this precious gem as there were some errors of spelling, structure and tense that, at times, interrupted flow. V.I.T.R.I.O.L is literary fiction: setting, imagery, voice, characterization, and more, not to be confused with anything less as this would lessen its impact. Those looking for light, blasé reading, a book to pick up and put away without a second thought? Look elsewhere.

Personally, this story deeply spoke to me for it echoed expressions in my own memoir. I had to read it slowly, in increments I could understand, before I could pass on to another scene. For similar reasons, I reread it a few times drawing as much emotion as I could from the story of its words. It’s rare that a work creates in me a desire know more behind what has been presented. I knew that only reading it once wasn’t enough. For that reason, I would imagine some might find V.I.T.R.I.O.L. too cryptic, too difficult to comprehend at times, but I found it engaging far beyond average.

In the emotionally charged seventeen pages of V.I.T.R.I.O.L, there are almost whimsical views through the hideous evil people commit, the senseless brutality in their selfish desire for sexual release and power over others. Those who’ve suffer thusly will recognize and know what is being represented through imagery. Be prepared to remember parts of the rage, fear, hurt, grief, hopelessness felt after “those” times; your own personal madness in the so-called world of sanity, yet it is not a book without hope or which lacks beauty despite its serious themes. It is real is the sense of the word that this is authentic, believable, utter truth. Haunting, powerful and very, very unique. With great eagerness and curiosity I look forward to reading more of Anne de Gandt’s work.

Description: You could write a book about her life. V.i.t.r.i.o.l.’s heroine has lost the key of her past. Childhood and adolescence look like blank pages. An emptiness that is destroying her to the ruin. Until memory comes back and along with it the terrifying meaning of the word ‘inceste’.

Published April 13th 2011
ISBN: 9781458120


To see video for this work, please visit it’s page on YouTube.

About The Author

Écrivain-photographe, Anne de Gandt crée des univers où se mêlent passé et présent, rêve et réalité. Son travail est une invitation aux voyages, à travers le temps, l’espace, la mémoire, l’identité et l’espoir.

Writer-photographer, Ann de Gandt creates worlds which mingle past and present, dream and reality. She invites you to journey across time, space, memory, identity and hope.


My Interview With Anne de Gandt


What was your first published work? When was it written and/or published?

My first published work was V.I.T.R.I.O.L., in spring 2010. It has been written very shortly, in 15 days. I never thought it could be read by anyone but me, until I realize I wanted to share it with other people. I had to make it visible and discovered Smashwords. It was just what I was searching for: an easy, quick and free way to make this story available. Otherwise, the adventure would surely have stopped here.

At what age did you begin writing? What kinds of writing did you produce? Poetry, short stories? Was there any particular inspiration?

I started to write at 17. I was seeking a way to express what I wanted to say. I first tried drawing or photography, but none of them suited me completely. I discovered lately writing was the main part of the balance, and that each one was expressing something specific.

Do you have a specific genre in which you write? What are some of your themes?

Writing comes naturally, without thinking of a specific genre. Some stories are written in theatrical genre, the next ones may be written in another. I’m not sure to decide of it. What connects people between them, what makes a person come closer to another -or not-, are some of my themes. The true hero is the heart, its movements, failures, pleasures.

How would you describe your writing style? To whom would you compare your work?

Maybe it is early to speak about a writing style. I try to be true with emotions and let them lead me, more than I lead them. This can be a pleasant as far as a painfull game. One never knows where it leads. When I start to write, I’m listening to my feelings: this one, this one; maybe this one… and then, suddenly, I “jump into the water”, without knowing where it goes. I discover sometimes the story only when it’s over.

Would you tell me what books you have available?

Today, two series are available: “Aphrodite’s Gardens” shows, in a theatrical genre, how love drives us to do incredible things. Its is mainly based on stories between women, their search for love and/or happiness, their hopes, their despair. The other series includes four stories (Vitriol, Décades, Mirages, Exil) and is about the difficulty to live as an adult when you had an unhappy or difficult childhood.

From what I’ve read, some of your writing involves themes or topics some people find difficult or disturbing. Would you tell us about these books, perhaps give us the descriptions?

Vitriol is about inceste, the damages such a violence does to the body and soul. It describes the states associated with but also shows that hope is possible, after all. That’s the main point of this book and the reason I wanted to share it with others. Being raped is like living with the seeds of evil: beyond violence, there are feelings such like hate, anger or despair that silently walk their line inside you, until they completely destroy you, as far as your life. This process can be stopped, providing that you face your deep demons and most of all, your fears.

Décades is about desire, and the difficulty to live together once the fire decreases. Is it possible to keep the intensity of the first moments, and how? Living together for women or men is submitted to such a pressure that sometimes, I have the feeling it is what destroys a lot of gay/lesbian  couples.

Mirages speaks about illusions. Who are we really despite of our jobs or social appearance? What do we search for? What defines us? Through this story I tried to tell how we may lose ourselves in this process.

The last one, Exil is the continuous of Vitriol. Being pregnant at 15 is irreversibly destructive and disturbing, but also leads to another level of being. Maybe it’s the most sorrowfull story of the four.

For myself, I realize some topics can be difficult but they are also important. Would you tell us your motivations for writing on sensitive themes?

Speaking of difficult topics is part of the life. Facing our fears, our deep desires or our bounds helps in finding who we really are. Throughout these stories, I tried to show that even in darkness, there is light. In fact, it is this light I want to speak of. Telling dark stories is a way to speak of the light inside. Its brightness is not the same.

You also have a series titled “Aphrodite’s Gardens”. What you tell about your theme and characters?

“Aphrodite’s Gardens” is about love. The game of love. Between women, but not only. Persephone is the main character, and lately, Eumene, her partner. Through their meetings, they discover some dimensions they would have not seen otherwise. Persephone is about the quest of love; Pandora speaks of revenge, desire and possession; Lorelei is about loneliness, doubt and freedom inside a couple.

Do you currently have any writing projects or works in progress?

Pallas, still in progress, speaks about identity, adultery and its consequences inside a couple. Another series, very different of the first ones, is coming soon.

My French is rather basic these days, and my lessons long ago. Do you have any plans for translations into other languages?

I plan to translate these stories soon or later in english. I’m working on it.

You are also an independent publishing author. What made you publish independently at Smashwords versus publishing with a traditional publishing house?

Smashwords gave me a freedom I would never have found otherwise. Suddenly, my book became real, was freely distributed in main retailers and could be read by others. It’s like a game and the rules at Smashwords are both fun and fair. Where most of publishers would have said “no” or take a charge for the process, Smashwords says “yes!”. It is like a wide-open door. Writing becomes available to anybody. I love this idea.

What good things have you experience with independent publishing? Have you had any problems?

Meeting other people is the good side of the experience. For my part, I havent’ met any problem, only good surprises.

Would you suggest other authors self-publish? Why or why not? How did you discover Smashwords?

Self-publishing gives the means to make a dream come true. I can only encourage authors to self-publish what they write, even if they must be aware that it does not mean selling immediately. It’s a long but fascinating and full of interest process where you learn a lot about yourself as far as the others.

Do you have any works in process you might wish to share description of with readers? Stories you are working on now?

Besides Pallas, from “Aphrodite’s Gardens”, another series is about to begin: how do we find the light I mentionned above? It’s a journey, a long, terrifying but wonderful journey. I cannot tell more. Follow my website in the very next months…

Red Haircrow’s Note:

I consider it a privilege to have made the acquaintance of Ms. de Gandt, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. Primary thanks goes to the Smashwords website where Mark Coker gave me the opportunity to post information about my review and interview site, and Anne contacted me.  Without that, I might never have had the pleasure.

Thanks again Anne de Gandt, very best wishes and good luck in all your work.


Filed under Contemporary Fiction