Friday, September 21, 2012

Cover Reveal, Woohoo!!!

So here's my cover reveal! A big thanks to Deborah Sletten of Tugboat Designs. She's an amazing designer. She took my scattered ideas and gave me a brilliant cover. I am beyond excited with how it turned out.

The book is going ahead of schedule. I'm looking to release it (tentatively) in 3-4 weeks. I will update  the blog with the info.

So now, here's what I'm so excited about. Hope you love it as much as I do!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Author Interview with Nat Parkinson

I recently had the chance to talk with the enigmatic Nat Parkinson. With over forty years of writing behind him, he has become an overnight sensation with his first book, Bishop and the Pixies, Book One: The Hunt Begins. Straight from the pages of Facebook, a story began to develop and Nat nurtured it to fruition.

In Book One of Bishop and the Pixies, all of the magical world finds itself on the brink of disaster. A former commando and his band of pixies find themselves on a mission to save the world. Will they be able to discover who's behind the threat and stop them in enough time?  Throw in a lovely human named Louise, grand theft tiger cubs, and Willoughby's galloping kittens and you'll enjoy the wild ride.

Keep an eye out for Book Two of Bishop and the Pixies. It's slated for an early November release!

Oh. I must tell you that without the pixies none of this would be possible. (There is currently a pixie bomb being held over my head. They forced me to say that.)

When Nat sat down to answer the interview questions, he told me that this was his first interview for the book. This little ol' blogger is feeling rather privileged at the moment! I'm always excited to do interviews with authors, but this one means a little more to me since I had the opportunity (with many of you) to watch the characters develop. Thanks Nat!

Alright Pixies, Humans, and Others, here's what you've been waiting for. A quick ten twelve questions with Nat Parkinson.

Are you a new author or do you have other books I can mention?
This is my first novel.  I have written for nearly 40 years – both for newspapers and business, but this is my first foray into fiction.

What is your background?
In many ways I am Bishop. I have traveled or lived in nearly thirty different countries and speak nine languages.  I love to cook, was in the rare wine business, worked as a Merrill Lynch Stockbroker, served in the Army, lived for five years on a sailboat, and was actually raised by butlers and nannies.  I am a throwback to the 1800’s, now living in quiet obscurity in Maine and raising my kids.  Most of my neighbors believe I am in the Witness Protection Program.  I encourage this belief.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book?
“Bishop and the Pixies” was drawn from watching the Facebook antics of H.P Mallory’s “Pixie” fans…they are delightfully mischievous and many of the scenes in this and the future books are shamefully lifted from their posts on Facebook.  This entire series is being written with ‘real time’ interaction with the fans – I release periodic snippets on my author page and to the secret Pixie Page for their approval.  I learned early on in this process that I had to satiate their curiosity for my own well being. I have made a careful effort to include locations I have visited, meals I have cooked, and real world things I have actually seen or lived.

Procrastination is defined as an author's favorite pastime. What do you do to avoid writing?
I still have a ‘real world’ job (almost 16 years as an agent for Aflac) and am interrupted at least 20 times a day with claims and questions.  Punctuate that with my kids, dog, cat, and life and the writing is crammed in between.  But, I was a US Army journalist and can bang out 3,000 to 5,000 words in a day.  If you ‘fell behind’ in army journalism school, you got re-assigned as an infantryman…I made it a point never to fall behind.

Will we be hearing from Bishop again? (If so, please give a guesstimate to when.)
“Bishop and the Pixies” will be a trilogy.
My ‘target’ for Book Two is November 2012.  Here are the opening paragraphs:

“Master ‘S’

It is with a heavy heart and my sincere gratitude that I must advise you of my intent to retire from your service. Recent circumstances have made my continuing employ impractical, if not hazardous to your personal safety, and thus we must part ways. 

Many years ago we struck an
agreement. You agreed to postpone our contract for the duration of the war out of respect for my patriotic duty to the crown. Once again, the world is at war, but this time the stakes are the future of the entire world. I propose the same agreement. I shall continue to serve ‘for the duration’ of this current conflict then, assuming there is a world remaining to which I might retire, I shall live out the remainder of my days.

You once told me that you would always take the solemn word of a British Soldier. I assume that is still the case today. Again, you have my solemn word that I shall continue my efforts to vanquish this threat with all my skills and vigor.

Given the nature of the enemy we face this resignation may well be entirely moot. The odds of my surviving this battle are certainly not in my favor. I have faced such odds before and do not fear them. But as in Libya, I have a greater obligation today than my own safety. If I survive, I must retire. This shall be my final campaign....”

How difficult do the pixies make your job as an author?
They are constantly looking over my shoulder.  But, without them there would be no books, so I do my best to ignore.

What do you do when you're not writing?
I’m pretty boring in ‘real life’. I am a news and golf junkie and watch C-SPAN for “fun”.  Really.

You've enjoyed immediate success with your book. What advice can you give to other aspiring authors on how to promote themselves?
I was amazed this afternoon to find that “Bishop and the Pixies” hit #1 on Barnes and Nobles ‘New Sci-Fi’ after only 6 days…I can only attribute this to the way I wrote it.  Every step of the way I included my Facebook fans, shared pre-release excerpts and included them in the writing process…I don’t think ANY book has ever been written in this way.  So, when it was released I had a fan base waiting – for a new author and a first book.

You're book is a tie-in with another successful series. Would you like to tell us a little about Bishop's origins?
I invented “Bishop” as the daytime Facebook bodyguard to Sinjin Sinclair (Vampires tend to sleep during the day and sorta need someone to keep them safe) and the Facebook persona took on a life of its own.  This is not a ‘tie in’ so much as a ‘jump to the left….and then a step to the right’  No characters in B&P appear in any of H.P.’s books…this is an entirely new ‘world’.

Is there a specific age group you are targeting or is this a book for readers of all ages?
I kept this book (and all future books) age appropriate for age 12 – but targeted it to also appeal to adults…there is no sex, very mild profanity (‘Crap’ versus worse choices) and most of the violence is aimed at ‘bad guys’.  I have kids, and would not worry for one minute about them reading my books, and 90% of my readers are adults – who enjoy a funny story.

Who are you reading right now?
I have a vast collection of 1950’s “Juvenile Fiction” and am currently re-reading the “Tom Corbett – Space Cadet” series.  Gosh they’re swell!

Where would you live if you could choose anywhere in the world?
No hesitation – back to living on a sailboat.  You get to pick your neighbors and the view is always lovely.

Below you can find Nat Parkinson's links:


Barnes &  Nobel:

Join Bishop's Army:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best Indie Book Festival

The Best Indie Book Festival is going on for one more day. If you haven't checked it out, stop by. There are prizes to be won...
Click on the link below to be directed to the site:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Interview with Award Winning Author, Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is the author of three award winning books: Megan's Way, Come Back To Me, and Chasing Amanda. As a mother of six, she has even found time to run multiple websites as well as mentor other authors.

The World Literary Cafe is one of Melissa's pet projects. Through this site, authors are connected to other authors, readers, and literary services. The resources available on Melissa's site alone makes it a must-have for any aspiring author.

Now, a quick five questions with Melissa Foster:

What gave you the idea to reach out and help other authors through the WLC, The Women's Nest, and Fostering Success?

When I first began writing, I reached out to Jodi Picoult for a few answers. I was beyond green--I was probably yellow at that stage. She was kind enough to answer my emails in a very friendly fashion (which I could not believe!) and I felt very blessed for her brief guidance. At that very moment, I promised myself that if/when my books did well, I would take everything I learned along the way and share it with other aspiring and established authors. Three years later, I'm still adding daily to what is available for authors, and taking it further to create a literary community, not just a place to learn, but also a gathering place to connect with other literary types. I think we've done that with the World Literary Cafe, and Fostering Success is a hub for author education. 

The Women's Nest is a different story all together. I work from home and many of my friends work in offices or, at the time, had young children at home, so finding time to chat about life or fun was difficult to do. When I created The Women's Nest it was to fill that gap. To bring women from across the world together in one area for support and friendship. We don't allow marketing in our forums, so they are clean and full of supportive conversations and women. It's the best thing I have done. A labor of love.

Megan's Way is being turned into a film. Are you nervous or excited to release the story to a new medium?

I'm both, nervous and excited, but I'm also realistic. I know just how these things can turn at the last second. I hope and pray the movie is done well and timely, but know that at any time it can be pulled from production. So, for now, my fingers, toes, and eyes are crossed. I know the script is out now with the production companies choice of actresses, so we shall see!

I hear you have a motto. Would you like to share it with us?

This made me laugh. I had no idea that people would ever pay attention to my motto--and I am SO honored that you even noticed. Yes, my daily motto is; Enjoy each and every day--no one else can do it for you. My motto that I also live by and do share often with others is; Always give more than you receive.

You're an author, run multiple websites, and are a mother of six. When do you find time to relax?

Relax? What's that? :-) My children are all older now, so my chaotic days are in the past--the youngest are 11 and 12, so life is actually rather sane compared to years ago when we were attending four sports practices each week, five games/events on the weekend, and had two babies in tow. My relaxation time comes very late in the evening. After the kids have completed their homework, dishes are done, and I pry myself away from my computer (which I never really do), we spend time as a family. I usually read around midnight, and that is very relaxing.

Every author has their favorite way to procrastinate. What's yours?

Oh gosh, that is the best question! "Favorite" way to procrastinate? I've never thought of it like that! I love to chat on social media and spend far too much time doing that. My other procrastination is to chat on the Women's Nest or develop ideas for WLC (yes, that's procrastination for me). 

Click on any of the following links to get Melissa Foster's books:


Join Melissa Foster and 9 other award-winning authors in the BEST INDIE BOOK FESTIVAL,

Featuring 10 Literary Fiction & Thriller Titles!

10 Award winning books and SEVERAL chances to win a

$10, $20, or $50 Amazon gift card 

(3 lucky WINNERS will be chosen!)

Click the link below the image for details.

I blog with BE Write

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sneak Peek Section

 I've been doing some heavy editing and revising since I posted the first two chapters. The prologue and first chapter are done and in their final forms. You can see them in the Sneak Peek section. Enjoy!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Author Interview with Ron Hummer

Ron Hummer is a professional who is bound by a non-compete agreement. Non-compete agreements prevent a person from working in their profession within a certain area for a specified amount of time. These agreements can hinder a job search and economically depress families.

Ron has taken his own experiences with non-compete agreements and turned them into  murder mysteries:

In "A Hell of A Woman," Donn Gunn has lost his wife and is now on the verge of losing everything else. He meets a woman who may or may not be a serial killer. Will Don's non-compete agreement keep him from finding a new job before he's the killer's next victim?

"96 Rocks" is about a corporate powerhouse of a radio station. By using non-compete agreements, the radio station plays puppet master with it's employees. When the general manager is found murdered, will detective Ozzie Rivera find answers in the form of the victims of corporate greed?

Now, for the Q&A with Ron Hummer:

Your books deal with your disdain for non-compete agreements. Could you tell those of us not familiar with the term what that means and why this is an important issue for you?

Sure.  A typical non-compete agreement is one that an employee signs and is told that he or she cannot work for a company that has a competing product.  So even if a company has 10 products and another company has one of those products, the employee cannot work there.  It’s not Coke or Pepsi.  It’s Coke and Bottled water.
Since the employee is considered at will, the non-compete further states that he or she can be fired at any time for any reason and would not be able to work for a company with a competing product for 2 years, thus limiting their job search to the point where they can’t work in the industry.
In my case, I was given a memo stating that I had two weeks to sign this agreement or I would be terminated from my company.  I knew that other companies in my industry had a similar contract so I decided to sign it.  I didn’t think there was a choice.
Other people hesitated to sign this agreement and I know that certain people were pressured to the point where they were told that if they didn’t sign the agreement, then they would be terminated.  Others were given a pass due to favoritism and did not sign the agreement.  This is nothing more than discrimination.
I have met with 3 employment lawyers in the past 12 years.  All of them have said the same thing.  These contract are like a form letter that lawyers fill out.  They’re always the same and that’s why they are air-tight.  Companies like mine have an attitude that they’re doing you a favor because your job is your reward, since they don’t even have to give you a severance package if they fire you.  The reason for having the two years after being terminated from your job: it’s an attempt to keep you out of the industry so you can’t get back into the industry, thus destroying your career.
I think non-compete agreements have a place in the business world for people who are CEO’s for example and others who do have trade secrets.  These people either make a tremendous amount of money or are given payoffs that are as much as 2 years of their salary even if they are terminated.
Where I draw the line is when companies feel that all the employees who work for a company have trade secrets.   People who make less than $70,000 a year and don’t attend board meetings are put on these non-compete agreements and cannot afford the litigation cost of $10,000 to go to court to get relief from their non-compete agreement.  That is the most important reason that this should be regulated since it was tried in Massachusetts.

Authors can be notorious procrastinators. What's your favorite way to waste time when you're avoiding writing?

It could be a lot of things.  I could be watching a San Francisco Giants game.  Reading a book.  Going on twitter.

Do you have a new project that you'd like to tell us about?  

I have worked on something but I’m not sure if I want to go forward with it yet.

Who's your literary inspiration? 

For these two books, I would say Bruno Fischer.  I follow a lot of pulp fiction writers from the 1940’s - 1960’s.  When i wrote 96 Rocks for example, it was based on different point of views from characters like Bruno Fischer did in the Ben Helm mysteries.

Who are you reading right now?  

I’m reading the Tourist by Olen Steinhauer.  I’m planning to read The Neighbors Are Watching by Debra Ginsberg next.  

What do you think your impact has been towards educating the public about the evils of non-compete agreements?

The reviews on my books have been great but I have talked to a lot of  people who are very skeptical of non-compete agreements because people don’t really want to believe that they can be deprived of a living due to their non-compete agreement.    Here are examples of the myths that people have created about non-compete agreements.

A judge would not enforce this against an employee - Besides the fact that that you’re paying $10,000 just to go in front of a judge, the truth is that state laws in most states state that the judge has to blue pencil a non-compete agreement so even if it’s unreasonable, the judge has to make it reasonable.  If it was 2 years for example, the judge may make it a year.

Every state is a right to work state - Doesn’t matter.  My lawyer said that the non-compete agreement is what rules in the court of law, not the right to work.

A company isn’t going to go after an employee because of the litigation fees.   They don’t have to.   The hiring manager will show the non-compete to their attorney and the attorney will advise the manager not to hire you because they can be sued.   They won’t cover your legal fees.  I have been told three times that my attorney has advised me not to interview your or hire you for this position due to your non-compete agreement.

The government would not stand for this.  Congress would take action.
State and local governments passed laws to protect non-compete agreements because they don’t want to regulate it.  They feel that if it is regulated, then jobs would be lost.  That is the reason the government in Georgia passed Amendment 1, which, like many other states, forces judges to blue-pencil non-compete agreements.   Chris Christie passed the trading secrets act earlier this year by a 79-0 margin, making New Jersey the 47th state to pass this act which allows companies to bring civil lawsuits against their employees like they did in the lawsuit between Google and Groupon.

How have you and your family been affected by your subjugation to a non-compete agreement?

I think people who read this may say to themselves you’re lucky to have a job.  If I want to summarize my job, it would be this.  It doesn’t matter how late I stay.  It doesn’t matter if I make significant contributions to the company.  I can assure you that I do make significant contributions to my company and they’re not recognized by management since I have not been rewarded with a raise for many years among other things.
If I were to go further in my summary about my job, I would tell you that I have to work at a high performance at all times to meet my goals and quota.  It doesn’t matter how well I did over the course of the year.  If I don’t make my goals even for a month, I would be on probation and them I would be history if that were to continue.
I’m lucky to have a wife that is supportive of me during this time.  Financially, it’s hard and we have to wonder from month to month if I will have a job.  If I’m lucky enough to get another job that I’m unqualified for since it’s out of my industry, I’d be looking at a pay cut of $15,000 if not more.   It doesn’t help that I have seen many of my colleagues in my company and my industry lose their jobs and know that they are out of the industry due to the same non-compete that I’m on.  People getting fired because the company decided to go in a different direction with a product or because someone went on probation and suffered through it because they couldn’t meet their quota and lost their job.
Sure, when you’re on probation, you can look for another job but take some time to go through the ads through Indeed or Dice.  Must have 5 years of banner ad experience.  Must have 3 years of transportation sales experience.  Do not apply for this position if you don’t know what unique visitors are.  Yet the people you are competing with for these jobs are applying for the same position have more experience than you do.
I don’t think of myself as a job hopper.  I don’t know if the grass is greener at another company.  But if people have me have a good reason to leave their employer, then they should have the right to do so.  People like me shouldn’t be forced to stay in a company because they have spent money in giving us specialized training.  This is the justification that companies and lawyers have for non-competes.  It’s a two way street but these non-compete agreements make it a one way street where the deck is stacked against the employee.
My job search has been over 5 years.  I haven’t given up on looking for another job but if you were to read my book A Hell Of  A Woman, you would more than understand what people like me and other people are going through who are on non-compete agreements.

How long have you been writing for?

On and off for about 15 years.

Why did you choose the murder mystery genre?

I’ve always heard the saying write what you know.  I’ve had a lot of short stories published at various websites that were mysteries.   I understand that and I understand non-compete agreements.
I thought that writing a book about non-compete agreements would make it sound more like a rant.  As one reviewer said, by making this a murder mystery also, it doesn’t sound preachy.   That was my goal in writing 96 Rocks and A Hell Of  A Woman.

Any final thoughts on non-competes?

Yes.  The future of non-compete agreements is stronger than ever.  Go on Google, go to news and type in non-compete.  You will see that more companies are adopting them and they’re being enforced by the courts.  You can read the links provided here and know that non-competes are growing at an alarming rate, invading a lot of companies as well as hair salons, pharmacy technicians, and even dog and cat groomers.  Look up canine oasis and you’ll see a lawsuit based on a non-compete agreement.
Other recent developments include a Doctor who signed a non-compete agreement that stated that if he worked within a 50 mile radius of his last job, he would be fined $750,000.  This has to make me wonder if this will be applied in other industries as well in non-compete agreements.
How about 2 disc jockeys in Ohio being sued because they wanted to leave their FM station and start a podcast.  The station tried to sue them in court and lost.  This is like saying that a journalist can’t have a blog.
Speaking of journalists, people on twitter may remember the lawsuit last year where Warren Stephens of Halifax Holdings bought 16 editions of the New York Times and told all the journalists that they would be on non-compete agreements that stated that they couldn’t work at another newspaper, magazine, radio station, or TV Station where Halifax had a property for 2 years even if they were terminated.  In the end, Stephens was pressured not to do this but said that any new employees would still be under this non-compete agreement.  One journalist said that this would create ownership of a story by the newspaper.
 If we are going to put people back to work in America and restore jobs in this country, the least we can to is discuss this openly and recognize that there is a problem.  Just because unemployment offices won’t update their application to have one additional question - are you having trouble finding work due to your non-compete agreement - doesn’t mean that this isn’t a problem.
 "Matthew Marx, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, conducted a study and found that one-third of workers who signed non-compete agreements ended up leaving their chosen industry all together when they changed jobs, often at a significant cost."
People are sacrificing their education, their finances, and their future just to make these non-competes work for companies.  There is no justification for people to do this.

Ron has included some links about non-compete agreements you may find interesting:

Here are the links to Ron Hummer's books: