Friday, October 7, 2011

Laura Burks: ALTERED

I welcome Laura Burks, author of Altered.
Laura, tell us about your debut novel.
Thanks for asking, Susan. My debut novel, Altered is a young adult paranormal romance with a mystery element. Altered was released September 1, 2011 through Wings ePress in both print and epub.
Altered started out with a few simple ideas: a book that mysterious writes on foggy nights, a curse, vivid dreams, and an eighteen-year-old girl in a small town.  Did I say simple? I thought it was when I started, but as I wrote, the mystery, paranormal and romance element had to fit just right, so simple was not always the case.  I also chose to write Altered in first person, so the reader can really feel the emotions and get in the head of the main character, Jenna.
Here’s a few lines to sum up –
For eighteen-year-old Jenna Larson, spending the summer falling in love should be normal. But when she discovers a cursed book capable of secret writings and a hidden message, finding a way to alter the curse to save a life changed everything. Only Jenna’s choice may have already chosen her.
 Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn.      

I’m such a people person and I love to talk. Answering this question might be too easy. First of all, I have never been a book-worm. Not even sure I like that term, but people use it all the time. I do love to read, but I find stories interesting at so many levels: movies, plays, music, real life, and of course, books.  When I was in the first grade, my teacher went around the room and asked everyone what they wanted to be when they grew up. I heard doctor, lawyer, bus driver, and then it was my turn. Well, the only answer I had was that I wanted to be famous.  Not sure exactly what type of famous I wanted, but in my mind I wanted to share stories. I think I pictured myself in movies. What’s funny is that I probably was thinking “Brady Bunch.”

What has been your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

The most rewarding experience for me has been self-discovery. It’s not the only rewarding experience, but one that was there from the start. You see, when I decided to write Altered, it was a solo effort.  Meaning only my family knew what I was doing and encouraged me all the way. I discovered things about myself I never took the time to see. It wasn’t until I was finished that I met other writers. Of course that opened up another side that I found and still find incredible.
Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?
Yes, it’s available in all formats. You can visit, , or my website at .
 How do you choose your setting?
I wanted a small town setting for Altered. I felt having a small town would give more of a mysterious feel rather than a large town. Being that I’m from Louisiana, stories of hauntings, curses, and weird happenings are a part of life here or at least in some areas. So I chose a small town in Louisiana as my setting. Now, I have to tell you, the small town I chose is not a cursed town. Remember, it’s a fiction book and I needed a small town, so I chose a place that I was familiar with. If the town I chose has any weird or unexplained happenings, it’s just a coincidence. Now I can’t say that for every place in Louisiana. After all, we are the home of famous ghost stories and voodoo.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
I’m an only child who has always had a vivid imagination. Not strange, just creative. I was also raised and still am a practicing Catholic. Yes, all of this had a big part in my writing. For me, I wanted to write something that my family, friends, and even one day grandchildren could pick up and read. Altered is geared toward young adult starting at the middle school age on up. What I love about the young adult genre is that is draws even the adult readers in as well. Probably more adults read young adult novels today than ever before. Maybe it’s because it brings us back to a innocent, simpler time in our life that we tend to forget.
 Laura, I wish you great succes with Altered.
Thanks Susan for hosting me today.

My pleasure.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Larry Kelter's Brain Vault

Lawrence Kelter, author of The Brain Vault, is my guest today. Welcome, Larry. Have a cup of hot tea and a cookie and tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn.
Thanks for having me over, Susan, and the tea and cookie sound great.
Early on in my writing career, I got a real leg-up from bestselling novelist Nelson DeMille, who read BY EXECUTIVE ORDER &actually edited the manuscript. He sent the manuscript back to me with a note that read, “Your work needs editing, kid, but that’s a hell of a lot better than not being able to write. Keep it up.” I was also part of a tightly-knit writer’s workshop led by soap opera legend, Ann Loring (LOVE OF LIFE 1956-1970). She taught me the art of screenwriting and the first screenplay I wrote under her watchful eye finished prominently in the Nicholl’s Fellowship (AMPAS).
In high school I was voted the student least likely to be found in a library.
 LOL. Me too, Larry.
How many books have you written?
I’ve published four novels including three books in the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series. The first two books in the series, DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES, and RANSOM BEACH are in the Amazon Top 100 for Mystery/Police procedurals. Chalice is a savvy NYPD detective with lots of psychological baggage.
I’ll be releasing a new novel in November, featuring a new hardboiled hero, PI Frank Mango (yes, that’s right, I said, Mango).  Mango is tough, funny, and oh so out there.
What books or authors have influenced you?
Needless to say I’m a huge fan of Nelson DeMille. In fact, his John Corey character who strongly influenced the personality of my protagonist, Stephanie Chalice. Both Corey and Chalice are cut from the same bolt of cloth; they are both shrewd law enforcement agents with a sharp tongue and incessant sense of humor. BookWire review wrote about her, “Chalice’s acerbic repartee is like an arsenal of nuclear missiles.”
 I’m also a huge fan of Thomas Harris and his perfect modern age monster, Hanniabal Lecter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and RED DRAGON. I positively never tire of the psychological jousting between Lecter an Starling. Harris is the father of forensic fiction and rarely get’s credit for his authentic portrayals of police work.
 What has been your most rewarding experience during the writing process?
 I’ve been blessed with very positive reader reviews. As any writer will tell you, you need a tough skin in this business—there is no shortage of rejection: agents and publishers are usually quick to point out flaws in your work, whether valid or not (okay, I had to slip that in). I am positively reborn every time I read a glowing review. Most of my readers have very nice things to say and often comment about aspects of my writing, confirming that I’m “getting through.”
Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?
Yes, thank God. The bulk of my sales are in ebook format.
Does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
 Totally, most of my books take place in the Northeast with the bulk of the action in Manhattan and Long Island. I’ve always heard that you should write what you know about and so I do. I think it adds depth to the book when you can truly develop a setting and write about it at a level that transcends that which is visually apparent.
We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?
 As I’ve moved away from traditional publishing and have gone “indie”, my promotion consists entirely of social media; Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and forums. I have someone who helps me with the social media as I am completely Twitter challenged. I’m planning a local New York tour later this year when Kiss of the Devil’s Breath debuts.
Can you tell us about current or future projects?
Kiss of the Devil’s Breath will be released in November, featuring a new hardboiled detective named Frank Mango. Here’s the lowdown:
Once there was Marlow, now there’s Mango, Frank Mango, a new detective doing his job in a very old fashioned way, an unlikely hero in an age of computers, gadgets, and gizmos. Two dead bodies have been discarded along the Sunset Strip, both aspiring actors, women of talent and ambition in a town renown for eating you up and spitting you out. Who really cares about these nobodies? Mums the word—with the Academy Awards just days off, the powers that be are determined to sweep the dead under the carpet at least until Oscar can take his gratuitous bow. There are, however, wrinkles in this finely crafted plan of deception, most notably the disappearance of yet another woman, a killer whose sniper rifle is trained on the fabled red carpet, and a throwback detective who doesn’t like to get pushed around.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
 On my web site at:, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Thanks for the tea and cookies, Susan.

You're welcome, Larry. Best of luck with sales.                    

Monday, October 3, 2011

James V. O'Connor: Another Man's Treasure

Jim O’Connor and his wife, Lynda, operate  O’Connor Communications, Inc., a public relations firm specializing in book and author publicity. (Lynda did several blogs last year.)
Jim also runs a home organizing business, CLUTTER CONTROL, serving the northern suburbs of Chicago. He is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), and has appeared on several national and Chicago TV shows demonstrating ways to get organized. The characters and the situations in this book are not based on or similar in any way to any of his clients, their lives, or their homes.

Another Man’s Treasure is his second book. His first book, CUSS CONTROL, The Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing, was a media sensation. He appeared on more than 300 TV shows, including Oprah, the View, the Today Show, the Early Show, CBS News Sunday Morning, and the O’Reilly Factor. Time, Biography, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Traditional Home Magazine, Cosmo, Redbook, and Family Circle are among the 750 magazines and newspapers that featured him. His radio resume includes over 800 interviews in every English speaking country in the world.
Before starting his public relations firm, Jim worked in corporate communications for four Fortune 500 corporations. He is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago. He and his wife live in Lake Forest, Illinois.
It my pleasure to have you on the blog today, James.

It's nice to be here, Susan.
I have to tell you, James, that since clutter makes me cuss, I really need to read your first book, Cuss Control. But today, let's talk about your new release, Another Man's Treasure.

LOL. I hope it helps. Susan.

How many books have you written, James?
    Two. CUSS CONTROL, The Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing, and my new novel, Another Man’s Treasure.

    What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

    Promoting CUSS CONTROL was the most exciting time of my life. The media loved it because it was both funny and thought-provoking. The media interest went on for years. I was on more than 100 TV shows, including Oprah, The View, The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, The Early Show, The O’Reilly Factor, and stations across the country. I was in more than 400 newspapers and magazines, and interviewed on more than 600 radio stations in seven countries. And I’m not exaggerating! I have the clips and tapes.

    Congratulations on the success!
    Tell us more about your latest release, Another Man’s Treasure.

    I call it a non-traditional mystery-romance. Instead of a murder, there’s a secret search for unknown riches hidden in a Victorian mansion. And instead of a woman protagonist with a complicated love-life, the main character is a married man struggling to resist the seductive flirtations of a divorced client. It should appeal to women who want to know the thoughts, concerns, passions, doubts, torment and other emotions of a man reluctantly falling in love. Men will like it for the same reason, because in real life, guys don’t share such personal matters.  It’s common for both men and women to be attracted to someone other than their spouses, so readers will want know what happens. Both plots come together with surprise endings.

     Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

     All of the above, through regular channels. My publisher is Post Mortem Press in Cincinnati.

     How do you develop characters?

    The protagonist thinks and acts the way I do sometimes, and the way I wish I could act other times. The main female character is modeled after an appealing and fun woman I used to know. The other characters just came to me. It was easy.

    We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

    My wife and I have a public relations business specializing in book promotion!

    Yes, I interviewed Linda last year about all your PR business can do to help authors with promotion. You're fortunate to have a inside track.

    Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

    On my official author’s website,  My PR business website is

    Bloggers, here's more information about James's books:

    Press Review: ‘Another Man’s Treasure’ offers mystery and romance

    Chicago-based author James V. O’Connor demonstrates a deft range of writing skills and his ability to craft an engaging and page-turning read in his new romantic mystery novel, Another Man’s Treasure. Reflecting the get-organized trend popularized by numerous TV shows and magazine articles, O’Connor’s central character is a professional home organizer whose simple life is about to explode.

    O’Connor’s captivating story involves well-crafted ordinary people dealing with realistic romantic entanglements, complex family relationships, and frustrating clutter. Centered on a search for hidden riches in an old mansion, Another Man’s Treasure is an entertaining tale that has readers gradually sympathizing with conflicting characters, stunned by surprises, recalculating the eventual outcome, and pondering the book’s messages long after they’ve finishing reading it.

    “The mystery plays on everyone’s fantasy of finding treasures in their attic or forgotten storage,” says O’Connor. “The romance will intrigue any married man or woman who has ever been physically or emotionally—and dangerously—attracted to someone other than his or her spouse.”

    As a book publicist who has worked with bestselling authors, O’Connor is no stranger to the challenges of capturing the attention of an audience. In Another Man’s Treasure, he skillfully develops the necessary dynamics and employs clever dialogue as caring people collide over materialism and love. Included in the mix of opposite behaviors are greed and generosity, fidelity and temptation, and honesty and deception. 

    Set in Albany, New York, the main character, Ted, is a former Chicago stockbroker turned professional organizer. He’s hired by a difficult client to clean out his deceased father’s cluttered Victorian mansion. Ted’s secret task is to find something of great value that the client believes his eccentric father hid in the mysterious house. What—or who—is trying to stop him?

    Although he’s married, Ted finds himself falling for another client, an attractive and flirtatious single mother. He resists her, but events keep bringing her into his life, intensifying their relationship. His wife and the woman’s jealous ex-husband suspect something is going on. He makes two discoveries, one that captivates the city, and one that determines his fate.

    While this mystery-romance novel is a new genre for O’Connor, he excels in his descriptions of the interaction, the modern American city atmosphere, and the classical portrayal of true-to-life emotions, needs, and frailties. The memorable characters, storytelling, and unpredictable twists and turns make for an enjoyable and entertaining read.

    Published by Post Mortem Press
    ISBN: 978-0-61551652-3
    Available in bookstores and online in hard copy and ebook.
    For more information visit  or

     What People Are Saying

     Another Man's Treasure is a delightful, engaging, fast-paced read laced with great characters and a fascinating plot.  James O'Connor has crafted a treasure of a novel!”

    Kris Radish, best-selling author of Hearts on a String and seven other novels. Kris is a former journalist, nationally syndicated columnist, magazine writer and university instructor

    “In Another Man's Treasure, I found myself caught up in the story of ordinary people in ordinary marriages who seem very real as they navigate the complexities of life and love. You'll find yourself rooting for characters and thinking about them long after you've finished reading.”

    Erica Orloff, author of Freudian Slip and 20 other novels

     “O’Connor weaves together two diverse plots in a way that keeps you reading, eager to discover the connection and the outcome. You need to read this book.”
    John DeDakis, senior copy editor for CNN’s "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" and author of the suspense novels Fast Track and Bluff

    "Real-life characters with intriguing secrets, an engaging plot that grabs you from the first chapter, and the possibility of hidden treasure—who could ask for anything more? A terrific read, with characters I can care about. I loved this novel! "
    Randye Kaye, actress and author of Ben Behind His Voices: One family’s journey from the chaos of schizophrenia to hope
    Another Man’s Treasure kept me turning the pages to find out if Ted McCormick discovered the alleged treasure and how he resolved his romantic entanglement. The surprise ending was worth the wait!”

    Patricia Starr, concert pianist, Mrs. Senior California, and author of Angel on My Handlebars

     “What a terrific read!  O’Connor nailed it with Another Man’s Treasure. The reader is totally absorbed from the get-go, wondering what might be in the old Smith mansion and feeling the sexual tension between Ted and one of his clients.”

    Glen Sondag, author of Anything Other Than Naked: A guide for men on how to dress properly for every occasion

    Another Man's Treasure is full of intrigue, flirtation, passion, and humor. It's a wonderfully entertaining tale from a first-rate storyteller.”

    James Campbell, award-winning author of The Final Frontiersman and The Ghost Mountain Boys

    “As an FBI agent for 30 years, I found it refreshing to read a violence-free book that still captivated me with mystery and suspense, conflict and tension—all nicely balanced with romance and humor. Another Man’s Treasure has more than a little something for everyone.” Jack Owens, author of Don’t Shoot! We’re Republicans!  Memoirs of the FBI agent who did things his way

    “James O’Connor’s debut novel is destined for the best seller lists! Engaging from the first chapter, the characters are real and the plot irresistible.”

    Gary Moore, award-winning author of Hey Buddy: In Pursuit of Buddy Holly, My New Buddy John, and My Lost Decade of Music, and Playing with the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, World War II, and the Long Journey Home, soon to be a major motion picture

    “The intangible actions and feelings we live with every day and take for granted are dissected and put back together in this interesting tale of ordinary people."

    Julian Smith, winner of the American Society of Journalists and Authors award for biography and memoir, Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure

     "Another Man's Treasure offers a cast of characters that, like most of us, are at once ordinary and eccentric, simple and complex, decent and deeply flawed. We are lured immediately into their web of ambiguity.”
    Judith Valente, PBS-TV correspondent and co-editor of Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul and author of the poetry collection Discovering Moons

     Another Man’s Treasure convincingly relates how emotions deeper than passion can challenge and threaten even the most loyal and steadfast heart.”

    Suzanne Nance, the only woman who has climbed the seven tallest mountains in the world