Back Story – When do you use it? How much should you use? Is it necessary?

Here is an oldie but goodie that I thought I would re-post with some updates:

My blog this week expands on a concept that appeared as a tip in an earlier blog. That tip focused on removing writing that was unnecessary. When I completed my first book, I tried to make sure that all of my characters were fully developed. I created biographies for each of them using templates that I found on the Internet. These templates included sections for physical attributes, motivations, character traits, family background and other biographical details.

In my Frank Rozzani Detective Series, the main character has events in his back story that motivate who he is in the present time. These events pushed him into his career as a private detective and forced him to relocate. My first draft of the book had two full chapters devoted to Frank’s back story. I thought that readers would want all of this rich detail about his former life in Syracuse, NY along with his family history and the tragic events that brought him to the present day in the story. I incorporated this as a flashback. I was excited about it and sent it off to my editor.

When I received my editor’s comments, she slashed nearly all of the flashback chapters from the book. She said that it was all unnecessary and that I should be more stingy with the back story and spread it out throughout this book and the ones that would follow. It was a blow to my ego at first, but in hindsight, she was absolutely right.

After this eureka moment, I started looking at the way other writers used back story in their work. Some of them, like John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard use back story very sparingly and only reveal details when they are relevant to the current story. Others like Dean Koontz and, in some instances, Stephen King, use back story to develop their characters into living and breathing people full of complexity. I wanted to land somewhere in the middle and I think, with my first book, and to a greater degree, my second book, I have succeeded somewhat.

Have I mastered the use of back story? Absolutely not. I don’t think, as writers, we ever truly perfect any aspect of our writing. I thought, however, that I would post some tips that I use and that might help you as you look for balance in sharing character background information in your work.


1) Use the flash back technique sparingly: Unless you are writing a book about time travel, you can really confuse your reader by jumping back and forth in your book. If your reader starts to wonder where and when the story is taking place, you might lose them. If you must use flash back, consider doing it in short doses, such as in a character’s dream. If you have to devote a chapter to it, be certain that the details are relevant to the story.


2) Consider giving past information as part of a conversation: This technique might involve a character telling their story to another character as part of a conversation. You want to avoid long monologues by your main character. You should try to make the reveal of the back story more of an interactive scene between the characters.


3) Incorporate portions of background details as a summary: Many authors use this technique to indicate what has happened in the past. They will reveal details in the character’s background with single sentences.  Here is an example:

“As an attorney, John vigorously went after cigarette manufacturers. He wanted nothing more than to be victorious in cases against them while securing high punitive damages for his clients. This passion was fueled by the deaths of both of his parents from lung cancer.”

believe4) Make the back story believable and realistic: As an author, you should think out the main points of your main characters’  back story. Don’t invent events just to suit your story. The back story should be grounded in some type of reality. You can’t have your character defeat their enemy with a complex form of martial arts if studying the techniques do not make sense in the characters background. Maybe he or she was in special forces or spent time in Asia.


5) Create a situation where the information needs to be known: In my first book, Frankly Speaking, the main character is single and is being pursued by a beautiful, successful woman. Despite her obvious hints, he resists her. When things finally come to a head, he reveals the details of his wife’s murder to her and explains his reluctance to get into a new relationship. This is a case where the reader was aware of some of the details, but other characters were not.

I hope that these tips about back story were helpful to you. I learn more about the different methods to reveal character background details as I read more and apply the techniques that I’ve learned to my own writing. Those things that motivate your characters might be the things that keep your readers interested, especially if you have multiple works that feature the same cast of characters.


Author Talk – Ann Morris

Web photo 08.2015Today we sit down with children’s author Ann Morris to talk about her work and her inspiration. Please enjoy.

DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

AM: Everything Is Different”/”Todo es distinto” are the English and Spanish versions of the same story. They are picture books for children of any age.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

AM: No, but I’ll do my best.

Brett and his dad visit England briefly; many observations and questions ensue; Brett learns that different is not the same as wrong.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

AM: Children of any age (5-9), children reading to them and parents or adults reading to them. Language learners are also part of my intended readers.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

AM: I was visiting the United Kingdom, in England specifically, and people were commenting on things they noticed that were different. Immediately I knew it would be a perfect children’s story. Children’s notice things that are different, but they are much more adaptable to new ideas than adults. With a constantly changing world, it is important for children to learn that there is more than one way to do things “right”.

DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

AM: Melissa Wright is my illustrator for this book. She is a cousin of mine that I have never met, but she has entertaining details included in her illustrations.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences?

AM: My junior high English teachers were fantastic and left a deep impression on my love of the language. Growing up, my dad was very observant and constantly drawing our attention to a pretty landscape or sunset. My mother loved to write and gave me tips as I progressed. She never did a project for me but was always cheering from the side lines. My junior high geography teacher was important in pointing out that we should look at what we have in common with people that are different from us.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

AM: They are both equally important. Brett is the young boy who is constantly noticing “different” things and worrying that something will happen. His dad patiently addresses his concerns and explains why they are that way and that they work fine in this location.   

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your book, what would it be?  Why?

AM: I don’t know that I could change anything. The story is based on things I actually saw, places I visited, and Brett is based on my nephew, true to form including speech patterns.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book

AM: My tax advisor wouldn’t allow me to deduct trip expenses on my tax return! I’ve learned since that I could have. Grrrr.

I loved the trip and relive it every time I read the story. I want to return to the Midlands in England!

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

AM: My books are all based on true experiences. They are my way of telling a story, teaching a lesson, and trying to impress the importance of healthy adult/child relationships.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I am equally bilingual in English and Spanish (spoken and written) and love languages and cultures. I am always learning. A former High School Spanish teacher, I was always working to reach the students personally as well as academically. They know if a teacher cares about them or not.

I was a musician starting with piano in elementary school through adulthood. I’ve had leadership positions and feel it is important to include co-workers in decision-making. Everyone is important.

I love to bird watch, flower garden, and work on geneology. I write poetry and love to take photographs. My piano technician says I have a “sensitive” ear. It’s all related somehow. People and the world are inter-related, it is important for us to notice and be conscious of other people as well as Mother Earth, and it is important for us to seek harmony.

About Ann Morris

Ann (Ana for Spanish books) Morris has a deep interest in education.  She knows that children have vivid imaginations and an insatiable love of learning.  Morris developed an interest in writing children’s stories with the intention of recording memorable experiences with young family members sprinkled with memories of her own youth.

As a teacher and as a community worker, Morris has collaborated with and served people from many cultures new to our country, including our Latino friends. She speaks and writes Spanish as well as English.  Her hopes are to encourage children and parents learning to read their native language, as well as to motivate language learners.  She includes a positive adult role model, a curious child and a unique learning experience in each story.

Ann (Ana) Morris is the author of


Author Talk – Richard Abbott


Today we sit down and talk with author Richard Abbott about himself and his fascinating book.

DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

RA: The title is Far from the Spaceports, the genre is Science Fiction

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

RA: A human-AI partnership tackles hi-tech financial crime among the asteroids.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

RA: It’s near-future science-fiction, so should appeal to people who like to speculate what the next hundred years or so might bring. I’ve had good feedback from people who know about today’s IT and finance industries, and can see how this sort of situation could easily come about as and when we expand into settlements elsewhere in the solar system. It’s not so much an action book as an exploration of how crime might be committed and tackled in such a situation.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

RA: The book title is also the title of a song which features in the book. I’ll talk a bit more about this in the ‘fun fact’ section below.

Kindle-Cover-basic-starfieldDM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

RA: The cover was designed by Ian Grainger ( after a lot of conversation and ideas going to and fro between us. I wanted a picture which would suggest the story’s main location in the asteroid belt. We also tried to include something that would indicate the AI part of the story but nothing worked well, so we stuck to the natural world.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences?

RA: Ursula LeGuin was the science fiction writer who – years ago now – introduced me to the idea that the genre could be thoughtful and provocative. Much later I discovered Harry Harrison and his laconic style, along with a whole wealth of other science fiction writers. I tend to prefer those whose vision of the future is optimistic rather than pessimistic.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

RA: That’s a difficult question! Probably Slate, the female AI half of the partnership. Why is she my favourite? Well, I could go all psychological and say that she represents part of my own anima, but I suppose it’s more likely I can easily imagine the enormous help she would be in my day job. And the more I wrote about her, the more her emerging personality grew on me.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

RA: A young man called Dafyd, who is a minor character in this book. He’s basically spoiled and idle, and I can’t think of many reasons to like him.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

RA: It’s very geeky, but at one point I made an assertion that something would not be possible in the low gravity of one of the moons of Mars. Later on I rechecked it and found that it would work after all. It’s something to write my way out of in the sequel, I guess.

DM: Now, as you mentioned, can you give us a fun fact or a few about your book?

RA: The song of the title is put into the mouths of a (fictitious) music group called The Descenters. However, the original ‘Far from the Spaceports’ song originated as part of a family holiday contest many years ago. At the time – and this dates the event quite nicely – there was a computer came called Descent which was very addictive. Sadly it s unplayable on a modern machine, but the book is, in part, a commemoration of that.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

RA: I must admit, I don’t really know of any. People have written about high-tech crime before, but normally in an Earth-based setting. I don’t know of anyone writing about it in the solar system at large. The idea of being an investigator appears a lot n science fiction, but often people jump past the solar system stage and go straight for a plot set more widely among the stars. If other people are writing about this kind of stuff, I’d love to read them.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

RA: Well, I like walking in Britain’s National Parks, but that is not really very unique. I started writing historical fiction, set in the ancient near east in the Late Bronze Age, and intend to keep both genres going in parallel. But right now the science fiction definitely has centre stage. For a day job I really do work in financial IT, so there’s a good deal of authenticity in the technobabble. However, I don’t get to travel into space and don’t identify myself with Mitnash, the central human character of the book.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

RA: I maintain a web site at and regularly blog at Both of these places combine my interest in history and historical fiction along with science and science fiction. Or follow me on Facebook ( or Google+ (

DM:What can we expect from you in the future?

RA: There is a sequel in progress, with working title By Default. All being well I hope that will be released in the second half of this year. That involves the main characters Mitnash and Slate having to do some investigative work on Mars and its moon Phobos, as well as back among the asteroids.

As well as that, I intend to keep the historical fiction series going for a little longer, with a seafaring plot linked to the tin trade.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

RA: If you like the book, tell others about it! Reviews on blog sites, Amazon, Goodreads and so on are all extremely valuable to authors. It doesn’t matter if the review is short or long – all authors value the interest and feedback more than the actual words.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

RA: First and foremost, persevere in writing what you want to, and work hard to get the technical presentation right as well as the creative ideas. If a major publishing house isn’t interested then in today’s world there are lots of other options – small publishing hoses, often dealing with niche areas, or of course self-publishing which is now easier than it has ever been in the past.

Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

No problem. This is from a little over half-way, in a musical interlude featuring The Descenters.

There was a sudden roar of appreciation from the main room, and at the same moment Slate buzzed me. Show time. As I went back via the bar, five musicians paraded in and took up their positions. The Descenters had arrived. Slate whispered to me the names of each, and their instruments of choice, and would have gone on to give complete biographies and skills matrices if I had let her.

They kicked off with a few warm-up numbers, mostly taken from one of their earlier concepts, Fraggle. These were basically all instrumental show-off pieces, with the lead singer joining in once the other threads of sound were well under way. His voice was every bit as high-pitched in the flesh as in recording, and I couldn’t see any obvious bio-enhancements. Nor could Slate, so maybe it was authentic. At any rate the scent, peripheral tracking and subliminal shots made for a considerably more rounded experience than what I had listened to on the Harbour Porpoise.

After nearly an hour they were done with that, and enjoyed the wild applause and cheers of the audience. The hostesses circulated with drinks again. I was, I insist, entirely sober still, and well able to conduct with Slate a detailed analysis of the main guitarist. She was able to swap effortlessly between several stringed instruments, including a beautifully atmospheric steel-string slide rigged up on a trestle. She also teased odd harmonics out of the strings far more often than anyone else I had seen.

Before long they came back for the main set, Blow the Reactor and Home to Bed. The earlier funky instrumental melodies were swapped for soaring lyrical numbers – by this time I had no idea what the words meant, but they certainly sounded inspiring. The Descenters had a habit of launching into a weird melange of musical experiment, verging on pure noise, which suddenly resolved into heart-plucking beauty when you least expected it. Then lyricism exploded into a series of straight dance tracks as the evening built to a climax.

I had never seen low gravity dance, and the closest thing I could think of was old vids of punk pogo moves. But where the most enthusiastic punk rocker on planet Earth could never get above their own knee height, here on Bryher the vaulted cavern was full from top to bottom with wild excitement.

Far from the spaceports

        and the friendly taverns,

there are deep dark caves

        and looming caverns.

There’s gold and platinum,

        copper and lead,

and a whole lot of robots

        that want you dead!

I watched the Scilly Isles at play, convinced that whether sober or drunk, my planet-shackled sense of gravity and space would never let me dance like that. The whole room shook as the crowd joined in the refrain.

About Richard Abbott:

Richard Abbott writes fiction set in two very different places. First, there is historical fiction set in the Middle East at the end of the Bronze Age, around 1200BC. The second area is science fiction, set in a near-future solar system exploring issues of high-tech crime and human-machine relationships.

His first science fiction book, Far from the Spaceports, introduces Mitnash Thakur and his virtual partner Slate as they investigate financial crime in the asteroid belt.

His first book, In a Milk and Honeyed Land, explores events in the Egyptian province of Canaan. It follows the life, loves, and struggles of a priest in the small hill town of Kephrath.

A follow-up novel entitled Scenes from a Life begins in Egypt. It follows the journey of a scribe as he travels to discover his origins. down the Nile from Luxor and finally out into Canaan.

A third book, The Flame Before Us, is set in the middle of calamity. New settlers are arriving from the north, sacking cities and disrupting the established ways of life as they come. This story follows several different groups each trying to adjust to the new situation.

Author readings from both In a Milk and Honeyed Land and Scenes from a Life are available online as YouTube videos.

The short story The Man in the Cistern is set in the same location as In a Milk and Honeyed Land, but around ten years later.

The short story The Lady of the Lions is set in the same location but around one hundred and fifty years earlier.

Triumphal Accounts in Hebrew and Egyptian is the ebook version of his PhD thesis which, for those who want the technical details, supplies academic underpinning for some of the ideas and plot themes followed up in fiction.

Richard lives in London, England and works professionally in IT quality assurance.

When not writing words or computer code, he enjoys spending time with family, walking, and wildlife, ideally combining all three pursuits in the English Lake District.


Author Talk – Armand Rosamilia

WH2Today we sit down and talk with author Armand Rosamilia. Armand is a fellow northeast native who, like me, opted to move to Florida. He is going to share a little bit about himself and his latest work.

DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

AR: Green River Blend is a supernatural thriller

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

AR: My elevator pitch:  When Horror and Coffee collide

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

AR: Fans of horror and supernatural novels. Some readers have commented it reads like a Bentley Little tale, which is a definite compliment to me. Fans of my other work will also read my voice in this one, even if you’ve previously only read my Dying Days zombie fiction or the Flagler Beach Fiction Series, which is contemporary fiction akin to beach reads.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

AR: The story begins in the Pacific Northwest near the Green River but it is also a nod and a wink to the Green River Killer, setting the tone for the book. When I had the hazy concept for the book, knowing it would have something to do about a special coffee, Green River Blend was the first thing that came to mind for a book title and the coffee itself.


DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

AR: The cover was done by Dane at ebooklaunch. My publisher, Devil Dog Press, worked with the concept I had for the cover art and ran with it. I think it fits perfectly with the novel and I’m quite proud of the way it came out.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)

AR: Dean Koontz got me started on this journey. As a 12 year old I started reading all of his work and wanted to write myself. I think, as a writer, everything around you begins to influence you. Any conversation, any person walking by, pretty much anything you see or read or hear adds to the mix. As you become a better writer you can better filter in what you need to create your own stories and unique voice.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

AR: I love them all! But if I had to choose it would be Kenny, a shoe salesman in a dead-end job who wants to become an author. It is definitely partially based on my own experiences. I sold shoes for many years before becoming a retail manager and hated every minute of it. My dream was always to become a full-time author, which I successfully did about six years ago. I can still look back and see what my life was almost like, and in some thoughts and actions it mirrors the struggle Kenny goes through.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

AR: I love all of my characters I write, of course! Some of them are really bad people and deserve their fate. I think the man who runs the coffee shop and moves into the quiet little town and creates so much havoc isn’t appealing because of the things he does, but he’s still an interesting character to follow along.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

AR: As an author there’s always something you want to change. It is never truly finished. I could rewrite every sentence a dozen times. It comes to a point where you have to let it go and let someone else read it and move on to the next project. I’d like to think my work is perfect… because if I don’t it will keep me up at night.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?

AR: The original idea for this book has been with me for many, many years. In fact, I started an original and lousy first few chapters about 20 years ago when I was still living in New Jersey and had only been to Florida once in my life years ago. I knew that was where it would be set, though. When I finally got back to the story after working on quite a few others it just clicked. Hammond Beach in the book is a very loose Flagler Beach, an actual place where I set a seven-book contemporary fiction series.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

AR: Readers have told me it reads like a Bentley Little book, which is a major compliment. I have some darker spots in it and I’m not afraid to have sex and over the top violence at times to make the reader wince. It doesn’t overwhelm the story, which is important, and probably why people compare the book favorably to Little.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

AR: I can put 87 plain M&M’s in my mouth at once. Yes, unfortunately this is a real fact. I once ate 37 White Castle cheeseburgers in a night and I wasn’t even drinking. So, to answer your question… no.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

AR: My website is but I’m most active on my Author page on Facebook: and of course you can find me on Amazon:

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

AR: Many more books. I am currently working on the sequel to Green River Blend and there will be a third book to wrap up the trilogy. My crime thriller, Dirty Deeds, will be getting a sequel this year as well as quite a few other new books from me in 2016.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

AR: Spread the word. Let friends and fellow readers know about a good book. Reviews are so key for an author, too. Take a few minutes to leave a review and help authors continue to live their dreams.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

AR: Patience. Think of everything you do long-term. If you’re thinking you’ll be an overnight sensation and sell a million books on day one of your debut book, you might want to come back down to reality a bit. Not saying it can’t happen but plan for it not to and try to grow it. If it does… congratulations, you beat the odds.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

Sure. Here is an excerpt from Green River Blend:

Randy Garvin was thirty-nine years old, fit for his age and a workaholic, putting in long hours at his gas station. He was a devoted husband to his high-school sweetheart, Jean. Quick with a joke and a lending hand, everyone in Hammond Beach knew Randy. Some knew him from his All-State high school football and baseball career, where he set a dozen school records that still stood over twenty years later. Others knew him as the church-going neighbor who had once saved a drowning little boy during Hurricane Andrew, risking his own life to help another.

No one knew the dark secrets that lurked in his head lately.

A new Mustang convertible with the top down pulled next to pump one, three high school girls he knew wearing matching red two-piece bikinis.

Randy remembered when his Jean used to wear revealing clothing like that but never to the beach and never in public. Times had surely changed. He was still a young man but felt really old around kids these days. He supposed never having one of his own made you forget what it was like.

“Morning, Josephine,” Randy said as he approached her car. He wiped his hands on his yellow ‘Randy’s Gas & Garage’ T-shirt. “Heading to the beach?”

“Yes, taking a break from school. It’s too nice out here,” Josephine laughed, smiling at her two friends in the backseat of her convertible. “You should close up and come with us.”

“I’m sure the wife would like that, me and a car filled with high school gals,” Randy said. “I came out when I saw this beautiful automobile. Where did you get it?”

Josephine smiled. “It’s an early graduation present from my daddy.”

“How is your daddy? We played football together, you know.”

“He told me that once. He’s doing well; he just got remarried and lives in Miami with his new wife.”

“I think we went to school with her,” Jenna Meyer chimed in from the backseat. “She might even be younger than us.”

Josephine shot her friend a dirty look.

Jenna put her hands in the air and frowned. “I’m just saying… you say it all the time, anyway.”

“I can say it. She’s my gold-digging new step-mom.” Josephine turned back to Randy and smiled. “I’m sure the fourth wife will be nice, too. And he’ll buy her fake boobs as well.”

Randy laughed. “Knowing your daddy… tell him I said hi.” Randy ran his hand on the door of the Mustang. “Tell your mom I said hi, too. I went to school with her as well.”

“Will do. Bye.”

Randy watched as the convertible pulled away into traffic. Randy had fixed up a Mustang during senior year and cruised Main Street with it. Those were the days. Jean used to take the rides up and down the coast on A1A, stopping in St. Augustine for lunch or Jupiter to see his Aunt Rosemary. They were just a couple of kids with no worries in the world and Randy with a football scholarship to the University of Miami.

When his knee had blown out during the Thanksgiving Day game that year, Randy had accepted it as the will of God. Instead of college, he had married Jean and purchased the gas station from the retiring Mister Clem, with the help of his father’s checkbook.

Twenty years later and he still loved coming to work and dealing with the locals as well as the Spring Breakers on their way south to Daytona Beach.

The Mustang disappeared going east toward the Atlantic Ocean and Randy sighed. It was a beautiful day to let your cares fade away. He wondered if Jean wanted to take a ride, maybe up to St. Augustine for dinner like old times.

He’d close up early today and surprise his wife at home, maybe go down to the florist and buy her some roses. Randy had shut down the gas station an hour or two early each night this week but he didn’t care about the business anymore. His mind was on other things, ideas he couldn’t get out of his head.

The old Pennsoil clock on the wall behind the counter wasn’t his friend right now. Randy wanted to get out of there, go get another cup of delicious coffee from the new place at the other end of Main Street and get home. Tonight he’d take a break from his disturbing thoughts and spend time with his wife, who he loved more than anything in this world.

Randy wondered if the girls were already at the beach, meeting their friends and sneaking a beer or two, making out under the shadow of the pier and enjoying life. He also wondered what noises Josephine would make as he gutted her slowly.

About Armand Rosamilia:

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he’s not sleeping. He’s happily married to a woman who helps his career and is supportive, which is all he ever wanted in life…

He’s written over 150 stories that are currently available, including horror, zombies, contemporary fiction, thrillers and more. His goal is to write a good story and not worry about genre labels.

He runs two very successful podcasts on Project iRadio, too…

Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast – interviewing fellow authors as well as filmmakers, musicians, etc.

Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast – with co-host Mark Tufo, the duo interview authors and filmmakers and anyone else they feel like talking to

He also loves to talk in third person… because he’s really that cool. He’s a proud Active member of HWA as well.

You can find him at for not only his latest releases but interviews and guest posts with other authors he likes!

and e-mail him to talk about zombies, baseball and Metal:




Author Talk – Judith Barrow

judith barrow2

Today we sit down with British author and blogger Judith Barrow. She is going to share her work with us and tell us a bit about herself, her inspiration, and the concluding book of her trilogy. Please enjoy.

DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

JB: Living in the Shadows is the third and last of the trilogy. It’s a family saga that crosses over into history and crime genres.

DM: Can you summarize your book a short sentence?

JB: It’s the 1960s, and this generation has to deal with the past actions of their parents; they have no idea what dangers they face from a common enemy.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

JB: It’s a women’s fiction (although men have read it as well!)

Why they should read it? Well, it’s the last of the trilogy and the secrets that have haunted the Howarth family since the Second World War finally come to the surface.  It’s a dangerous revelation, brought about by one coincidence, and brings together the numerous storylines that are threaded throughout the first two books towards the final conclusion. Throw in all that the 1960s meant to society and I think it’s a good read.  Living in the Shadows has been described as a “hard-to-put-down-till-over book”.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

JB: I decided on the title because it’s how I feel the next generation lives and deals with the secrets that will make their lives implode. And I wanted the title to reflect the other titles of the trilogy.

book cover

DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

JB: As they have throughout the trilogy, my publishers gave me two images, background scenes and photographs of people from each era. With Living in the Shadows there is just one figure, a young woman who typifies the sixties with her hairstyle and clothes.  I also wanted to keep the sepia effect that the others have.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences?

JB: I’ve always written; I couldn’t help it. Influences? Hmm; as a child, and I suppose like many others, I wanted to write like Enid Blyton. When I was older I adored all the Catherine Cookson books. Nowadays I’m inspired by any author who writes a great story.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

JB: My protagonist, Mary Howarth, who has been the central character throughout the trilogy.  She lives within the shadows of her family’s expectations of her – a pattern that rules her life. Most of all she lives within the shadow of her own loyalties. I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our expectations and those of other people. But ultimately she goes her own way

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

JB: That has to be Frank Shuttleworth. He epitomises all I dislike about a person; he’s a bully, he manipulates those around him, he’s sly and he’s violent. Writing the parts of the story that involved him was difficult for various reasons. But he is what he is

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

JB: That’s difficult; I need some time to think about that. Hmm, okay… a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ here; I’d like more reviews on it. Because that would mean I’d learn from a larger cross-section of readers and know where to strengthen my writing … and where I’m getting it right. Other than that, I’ve done my best to write a decent story and, after numerous edits, I think I wouldn’t know what to change.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?

JB: Fun fact? Well, not sure it’s fun but I once had an agent who decided to send my work to a commercial editor who changed the whole manuscript so it read as a chicklit.  Not my style or genre at all. The agent and I soon parted company.

Oh, and once, giving  a talk about the first book of the trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, and the research I did on the first German POW camp which is the main setting of the book, I was told by a member of the audience that her family used to send parcels to an ex POW in Germany whom they’d befriended. In 1951 he wrote to say he didn’t like the sweets they included– please don’t send any more. As this was before sweet rationing finished they were puzzled and asked him to describe them. Turned out he’d been eating Oxo cubes.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

JB: Family sagas are always about families who have passions, live through difficult times and go through shifting fortunes.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

JB: Hmm. Well I paint when I can and am rather good at seascapes if I say so myself. And I tutor creative writing and I’ve helped quite a few people get published one way or another.  And I have an old collection of every Dickens’ building that is in his books that I can’t bear to part with. The number of times I’ve taken them to car boot sales… and not put them out for sale!

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

JB: This is me:

And my books:

book1Pattern of Shadows:


Barnes & Noble:


book2Changing Patterns:


Barnes & Noble:

 book cover

 Living in the Shadows:


Barnes &Noble:

Or from:

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

JB: I’m writing the prequel to the trilogy, which is the story of the protagonist, Mary Howarth’s, parents, Bill and Winifred. Working title Foreshadowing.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

JB: Review… please … just review. Especially on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you, very grateful.

DM; Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

JB: Write, edit, edit, edit. Send out to as many agents and publishers who take on or publish writers who write in the same genre as you. And remember, it’s all subjective. If one person doesn’t like your work, someone else will.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?

JB: Glad to:

The man who filled the doorway was short but stocky; his thinning curly hair a mixture of grey and ginger. Wearing slacks and an open-necked shirt to show off a heavy gold sovereign chain around his neck, he had an astrakhan coat slung over his shoulders.  He was what Linda’s dad, in his old-fashioned way, would call a bit of a spiv.

‘I’m sorry, no visitors at this time of the day.’ Linda dried her hands and dropped the used towel in the bin under the basin.

‘I’ve paid for a private room, she’s my wife, and I’ll visit when I want.’ He didn’t look at Linda; his eyes fixed on the woman in the bed who was ineffectually jiggling the now screaming baby.

Linda flushed at the abrupt rudeness. ‘I’m sorry, but no. Your wife needs some privacy and anyway the rules are the same for everyone. Visiting time is —’

‘When I say it is.’ Still he didn’t turn towards her, but his ruddy cheeks reddened even more.

It was the anxiety on Harriet Worth’s face that made Linda step between the man and the bed. She was the same height as him and met his glare. But there was something about him that caused her throat to tighten. She stared at the scar on his cheek, shaped like a half-moon, at his nose, crooked from an old break and she sucked in a shocked breath, suddenly aware that she was on her own in a room with a man that, for some unknown reason, she was afraid of.

‘You’re in my way.’ Narrowing his eyes, he gripped her arm, his fingers pinching.

‘George, please… Nurse?’ Harriet’s voice shook as she raised her voice above the crying. ‘I’m sorry. Just this once?’

Linda took another jagged breath, held it, let it go, forced herself to sound calm. ‘Okay. But that baby needs feeding. I’ll be back in five minutes.’ The man released his grasp when she stepped to one side.

Holding on to the bedrail he bent towards his wife. The baby quietened as though listening. ‘Don’t apologise for me, do you hear? Never apologise for me.’

‘I’m sorry, George.’

‘Think on then.’

The threat stopped Linda at the door. She looked back at Harriet, who fixed her gaze on her and gave a small shake of her head. Walking stiffly from the room, Linda willed her legs not to give way under her. Sweat prickled her hairline; she thought she would vomit at any moment. She mustn’t be seen in this state; there was no way she wanted to, or even could, explain the unwelcome and strange terrors that seeing the man bullying his wife had dredged up.  Diving into a nearby linen room she slid down against the closed door to the floor. Pulling up her knees, she rested her head on them and closed her eyes, willing herself to calm down. When she opened them it was pitch black inside the cramped room. With a small cry she struggled to her feet and fumbled for the switch. The light was momentarily blinding but relief coursed through her.

She’d always been afraid of the dark.

About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, near Oldham,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for thirty four years.

She has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and a MA in Creative Writing with Trinity College, Carmarthen.

She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions. She has completed three children’s books.
She is also a Creative Writing tutor.


Author Talk – Robert Eggleton

roberteggletonToday we sit down with author and retired children’s psychotherapist, Robert Eggleton. Robert is from West Virginia and is going to share his writing and some information about him with us.

DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

RE: Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one short sentence?

RE: Rarity from the Hollow is the story of a traumatized little girl who learns to be the savior of the universe with the help of an alien boyfriend, for when she’s old enough to have one, and her mentally ill family and friends.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

RE: Rarity from the Hollow is an adult literary science fiction novel, not for the prudish, easily offended, or faint of heart. The targeted readership is those who enjoy involvement outside of mainstream fiction and who expect more from a book than simple escapism. That audience should give this novel a try because it comes highly recommended by notable book reviewers of different genres, including two Gold Medals.

Awesome Indies found: “…Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most fans of sci-fi will thoroughly enjoy.”…

Rarity from the Hollow was awarded a second Gold Medal by another popular book review site, Readers’ Favorite: “…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved….”
Most reviewers have referred to the novel as “unique” or a synonym, so if readers are interested in something a little different, a genre bender, Rarity from the Hollow would be one to check out.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

RE: The title of the novel comes from a scene in the middle of the story: “Yard Sale in the Hollow.” Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, an empowered victim of child maltreatment, had organized a team to help her save the universe in exchange for the alien intervention that had been provided to cure her family of mental illnesses and distress. The team was still in its analysis of the threat phase when it when to planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall that was the center of universal governance. To establish Earth’s right for continued existence, the team had to compete in a standard event involving the negotiation of the best prices, the biggest discounts, for merchandise sold in the planet’s shops. After the shopping trip, the merchandise, most of which had unknown identification or purpose to team members, was brought back to Earth and put in the barn. Lacy Dawn decided to have a yard sale to get rid of it. The yard sale grew up into a “Woodstock” by advertising on the internet: Rarity from the Hollow – rare and unique merchandise most attractive to connoisseurs of weird stuff.


DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular artwork?

RE: A good cover for Rarity from the Hollow has been problematic because it is cross-genre and speaks to readers in an adolescent voice but it is an adult novel. The current cover is the fourth attempt and has been the best received, a caricature image that doesn’t attempt to reflect the actual story. The second cover was done by Jag Lall, pro bono, an English comic book artist. It was great, but only captured the early tragedy in the story, leaving out the satiric and comedic impression. The third cover is almost the same, but the phrase, “A Children’s Story. For Adults.” was centered to draw more attention to the fact that Rarity from the Hollow is not a young adult novel. Adam Lowe, the owner of Dog Horn Publishing, the traditional small press in Leeds that published the novel, designed that cover. Subsequently, two other artists gave a new cover a shot, but decided that their work didn’t meet their hopeful expectations to capture the story in its entirety. One of these artists produced abstract and the other was impressionistic.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences? 

RE: I’m not sure that you have enough bandwidth for me to make a complete list of inspirations and favourites, so here’s a few. Ferlinghetti, the poet of the Beat Generation, showed me how to enjoy my anger about political and societal issues. Similarly, Vonnegut’s anger in Breakfast of Champions helped me stay strong as a children’s advocate and as a writer, and how to experiment with my writing style outside of commonly accepted structures and formats. Nora Roberts knows how to get me in a romantic mood. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series reinforced my faith in the potential of adolescent morality and the future of the world. Watership Down by R. Adams was such a sweet adventure that some of this element just is a necessary ingredient of even the scariest, saddest, or most erotic story. The versatility in cross-genre and the use of humour by Bradbury had to have been a subliminal inspiration, especially now that I think about it. Dean Koontz has been masterful. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by D. Adams and Another Roadside Attraction by Robbins pushed me into the wilder side of writing regardless of censorship, as did the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics. And, Stephen King’s use of everyday horror convinced me that alarming scenes can be created by using almost anything as a prop. Piers Anthony sure knew how to write a goofy pun and has always gotten me to giggle.
DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

RE: I have many favorite characters, many more than those introduced in Rarity from the Hollow. Picking a favorite would be like a parent picking a favorite son or daughter. Each character has strengths, weaknesses, attributes…but, let me tell you about Browne. I love that mutt, but maybe that’s because Brownie is so easy to love. He’s Lacy Dawn’s dog and plays an important role in her plan to save the universe. Here are some of his qualities.

Maybe you have a pet like this:

  • Defensively Brave
  • Unconditionally Loving
  • Forgiving
  • Dutiful
  • Entertaining
  • Bright
  • Stupid Exactly at the Right Times
  • Empathetic
  • Sensible

I could go on, but……..

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

RE: My least favorite character in Rarity from the Hollow is Faith’s father. Faith is Lacy Dawn’s best friend and plays an annoying and comical ghost most of the story. This man, the father, is only mentioned a couple of times but that is enough to recognize the meanest daddy on Earth. I didn’t give him a name because he didn’t deserve one.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

RE: What a question! There’s a million things that I would change about Rarity from the Hollow, but the number one would probably be a line in the first chapter – the first chapter was too soon to acknowledge that Faith, I’ve mentioned her just a minute ago, was the ghost of a sexually abused child. I probably needed to introduce her better, to share her comedy and satire before full disclosure about her background of having been murdered by the meanest daddy imaginable.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?

RE: Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel and the first in a prospective series, Lacy Dawn Adventures.  A couple of fun facts about the novel pertain to the android’s aspiration to achieve humanity. His name is DotCom, a parody of that which markets what is least needed. It was fun for me to think back about potty training my son and incorporating it into the story: “…I pooped….” Similar to my son, DotCom had a hard time, after so much work to achieve social expectations, flushing it down the toilet…. Lol  Another fun fact was writing about the android adolescent sexual development – recurring spontaneous erections like I remembered from junior high, a total embarrassment.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

 RE: As I mentioned before, Rarity from the Hollow has been referred to as “unique” or a synonym by several book reviewers. However, one reviewer, Awesome Indies, the first of two Gold Medals, found that the novel was a “Hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” That’s one of my favorite all time stories, so I took it as a high compliment. An affiliate of Fantasy Fan Federation, an international organization that has been around since the 1940s and holds an annual fantasy fiction contest, said in his review, “…begins with some rough stuff, hard to read, involving child neglect and child abuse. But it soon turns the corner to satire, parody, and farce, partaking a little of the whimsical and nonsensical humor of Roger Zelazny or even Ron Goulart….” Elements of the story have also been compared to writing by other authors:

 “…His frank and honest portrayal of poverty in rural Appalachia is reminiscent of Stephen King’s use of “everyday horrors I look forward to reading more from this rare, original author.” — J. D. Nelson

“…The mixture of sci-fi, gritty reality, humour, and the mode of thriller reminds me a great deal of Dean Koontz’s writing, and Robert Eggleton may indeed have the potential to follow in Dean Koontz’s footsteps.” –Kevin Patrick Mahoney Authortrek

Again, however, my novel is cross genre so while it may have similar elements to several other books, it wouldn’t be fair to say that it is similar in its entirety to others.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

RE: No, I don’t think that I have any unique talents. I’m just a regular guy who works hard and does his best with successes and failures. I collect LPs, especially obscure psychedelic music, as a hobby.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

RE: One place that I think would be very cool for people to check out would be an article that I wrote about the prevention of child abuse – it comes from my heart so it’s revealing. Author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to child abuse prevention. The article is here:

I have a website. It’s basic and never up-to-date, but there is a link to my personal email on it and I welcome inquiries:

Folks can say hello on Facebook:  or

Or, if your readers would like to check out some book reviews of Rarity from the Hollow: .

And, if you have heard enough to want to support a traditional small press with a purchase directly from the publisher: 

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

RE: The next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure is called Ivy. It asks the question, “How far will a child go to save a parent from addiction?” While this topic sounds very serious, similar to how child maltreatment does when thinking about Rarity from the Hollow, I’m working on the satire, puns, and dry humor to make it a fun read. One of my poems recently won first place in an international science fiction / fantasy competition:

Another one will be published in a magazine in a couple of weeks. I’ll post about it on Facebook. I’ve always got one or more short stories pending in a submissions process, but, you know how that is, nothing definite yet.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

RE: The most significant way to contribute to the success of Rarity from the Hollow would be for readers to tell others about it, in person and online. Of course, I would love to have more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, likes and shares for my posts about it on Facebook, and retweets on Twitter:

I’d also like to pitch child abuse prevention one more time. Please check out the article that I mentioned and join the movement to ensure child welfare, internationally and beginning in your own communities.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

RE: Well, I’m certainly no expert on getting published. Honestly, I feel that I just got lucky by finding Dog Horn Publishing when I was about to give up. I recommend that writers with debut novels also first look around for traditional small presses that might be interested in your genre. These outfits have gone down faster than seals in an oil slick, so finding one might be increasingly difficult, but it would certainly be worth a shot – free professional editing and no upfront costs. I guess that my best advice if you are thinking of self-publishing would be to get an independent editor, someone who will give you an honest assessment of your work before you invest any money into having it published. An investment in editing, especially if your work is found to have major problems, would likely be better than publishing something that wasn’t ready and, thereby, risking the loss of a future readership. That’s just an opinion. I don’t think that there is a magic carpet ride to successful publication and corresponding sales. I’m working on it myself.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?

RE: Sure.

From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:


…..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn’s name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

I hear her voice. Why won’t she answer me? 

“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.

Nobody responded. The trees weren’t supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.

I will always love you guys. 

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.

Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 

Jenny looked to the left of the path.

There ain’t no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 

She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn’t exit and into a blue light that did.

“All right, you mother f**ker!”

“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you’re supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story).”

DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.

“Grrrrr,” emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn’s dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.

“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”

“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

Stay between them.

“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I’m old enough — like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend — what you call it — my fiancé.”

“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.

“MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”

Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

He ain’t got no private parts, not even a little bump.   

“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”

Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.

“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”

I will need much more training if I’m ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”

Jenny’s left eye twitched.

DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…

…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There’re a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain’t complained since the shots started — not even with an upset stomach.”

“He’s a doctor?” Jenny asked.

“What’s your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that’s different — even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”

“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.


Mommy’s right. Maybe I need a different argument.

            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.

“What’s that?” Jenny asked.

She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

“Mommy, I’m so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn’t talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain’t had no chance to talk. All I know is that he’s home and I’m sooooo happy.”

“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that’s a good sign. Maybe she’s right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. Id better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.

“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition — the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.

They both glared at him.

“Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.

“Okay, Mommy.”

“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.

“I love you too,” DotCom said.

Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile — at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.

Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

About Robert Eggleton

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Purchase links: 

Author Contacts: 

Author Talk – Teagan Geneviene

12-18-2014 New Haircut-1 cropped

Today we sit down with fellow indie author and blogger Teagan Geneviene.  She stopped by to tell us a bit about herself and her work.

DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

TG: I guess everyone is tired of hearing about my indie novel, Atonement, Tennessee (novel info here) so I’m going to talk about the novel I’m converting to a serial at my blog.  That’s The Guitar Mancer.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one short sentence?

TG: Would it be worth a novel if I could tell it in one short sentence?  Okay here goes, “It’s a magically fun ride.”

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

TG: I try to cast a wide net for my audience. Hopefully that comes naturally with the fact that my writing is not given to extremes. I don’t go to extremes with violence or gore, sex, naughty words, or other things that push people’s buttons. But that’s just who I am.

While I think these urban fantasies have a broad appeal, this one should have special appeal for “baby boomers.”  (Ugh… I’m getting so tired of that term.)  The story opens on New Year’s Eve 1969, so I include day-to-day items in the telling of the story that will entertain readers who remember the 60s and 70s.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

TG: This is probably the only time I didn’t struggle with the title.  The Guitar Mancer is part of the mythology I created for the story.  There are “mancers” and the villain is the Guitar Mancer.

Guitar Cover Concept Draft-1DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

TG: I’m still tweaking the cover, but it is my work.  I bought a few stock images, edited them, and put them together.  So I’m well aware that the one I gave you is imperfect.  I like it though, and when I have time I will fine tune it.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences?

TG: Different influences come for different stories. Overall, a major influence was David Eddings and his “Belgariad” stories.  I love his sense of humor and the relationships between his characters.

For The Guitar Mancer, a place was my influence that and the people around me.  At two different times in my life, I lived in Nashville, TN.  That’s where the novel begins.  I saw how much influence and social–political power music wielded.  I took that in a more literal direction for the novel.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

TG: Oh Don… If you only knew how much work I’ve done to protect this character… I’ve taken every step I can, but you eventually have to let them “fly.”  He is not a main character.  I’m talking about what I call a “tier two” character from The Guitar Mancer.  His name is Bodaway Thunder.  I love all the contrasts within him.  The fact that he is physically such an unusual person is also dear to me.  Unlike me (living on “moderation mountain”) Bodaway is an extreme, at least in his description.  He’s definitely unique.  I’ve written a lot of characters, but Bodaway Thunder is closest to my heart.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

TG: Hmmm… good question.  For me, in the writing of a character I can enjoy creating a villain as much as a hero, as long as I’m making them interesting.  I think my least favorite (though that could change) is Racine Mabry from the “Atonement” series.  She was meant to be a “tier two” character, one of a group of friends.  I didn’t mean anything negative for her.  However, after I wrote and published the novel, there was just something about Racine that I didn’t especially like, even though I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

So my novel in progress in the sequel, Atonement in Bloom.  Racine’s character gets more attention.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

That’s the perfect question, Don, because that is precisely why I’m “serializing” The Guitar Mancer.  I am not doing a re-write or a collaboration in releasing it as a serial. Rather, I hope that the blogging process will cause me to subtly alter one thing—

You see, The Guitar Mancer is intentionally very quirky… not laugh out loud funny, but definitely quirky. About halfway into the novel, I felt it took a very metaphysical turn.  That would be fine if the book started out that way, but it was not what I had in mind.  So the serial version is an experiment.  We’ll see what happens.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?

TG: The Guitar Mancer actually began in the 1990s.  Everyone said I should write a romance, because that’s what made money, what would get me published.  But I write fantasy… so I set out to combine the genres.  I didn’t finish the story.  Then about 15 years and a few cross-country moves later I accidentally threw away that manuscript (along with a couple others).  A bit on that here.

However, the story’s mythology and a few of the characters stayed with me over all those years.  Finally I dusted off the concept, removed the romance part, added more characters and a second mythology and The Guitar Mancer was reborn.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

TG: In research I did before beginning an epic fantasy (The Dead of Winter) I came to the conclusion that everything has already been done.  But that doesn’t mean similar stories are poorly done.  I categorized many that had “been done” that I enjoyed very much.  That said, I don’t know of another story like The Guitar Mancer.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

TG: Unique? Me?  No.  I’ll leave being unique to Bodaway Thunder.  I do however write a weekly motivational/mentoring mini-post at LinkedIn.  I call the series Thriving Thursdays.  More here.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

TG: There is plenty of information on my blog.  Check my “About Teagan’s Books” page here:

Or my Amazon Author Page here:

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

TG: Hopefully, continued adventures in whimsy.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

TG: I would love to have great reviews posted for Atonement, Tennessee.   For the Guitar Mancer, leave an encouraging comment on my blog.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

TG: I can’t really speak to getting published.  I’m “indie.”  However, one must first write the book to get it published, so…  Don’t let the absence of support from family or your “real” friends stop you.  They can’t see the version of you that allows you to write.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

TG: Okay Don, this partial scene takes place as I gather my main characters to one location.  Most of the story is from my heroine’s point of view.  However, this tidbit is from the point of view of Tam, my second most important character.  Here goes.

As Tammarand Ben Taliesin pulled out of the parking lot of Blaylock Sound Magic Studios he glanced at the pink phone message paper.  “Meet me at the lake in an hour.”  The box marked “From” held the words fire maker.

“Cryptic enough, shaman?” Tammarand muttered sardonically.  “No one could be quite as enigmatic as a shaman.”

It was bad enough that he heard rumors all over Music City of musicians who suddenly either wouldn’t or couldn’t play.  It gave him a bad, bad feeling.  Then for the shaman suddenly came to Nashville and insisted on an immediate meeting?  That was a very unsettling combination of events.

It also worried him that in his message Bodaway left the meaning of his name instead of his actual name.  The name Bodaway meant fire maker in the Apache language.  Tammarand was sure that was a hint that his friend’s visit was not a social call.  Use of the term fire maker also suggested trouble, as in setting a fire.

He would have been glad to see his old friend, Bodaway Thunder, if he hadn’t been so blasted annoyed.  Something was wrong and he knew it even before Blaylock handed him that little piece of paper from a pink message pad.  Receiving the cryptic message from someone else made it irritating in the extreme.

Tammarand could feel it in his bones.  Something was off, out of balance, catawampus, and just plain wrong.  Something big and wrong.  And it wasn’t big in the way Bodaway Thunder was seven feet tall of big.  No, something was big and wrong in a very, very bad way.

He looked disdainfully at the pink paper again and crumpled it in his hand as he drove.

Don, thanks very much for letting me visit today.  I enjoyed relaxing and chatting here at your blog.

About Teagan Geneviene (From her Amazon Page)

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, a southerner by birth, was “enchanted” by the desert southwest of the USA when she moved there. She had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences in both the southern states and the southwest. Teagan writes many types of fantasy, from what she likes to call “quest type” fantasy, to urban fantasy, to fantasies with a dash of mystery. Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to contributions from viewers.

Major influences include Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.