Fridays 5 with Karen Cogan

A native of Houston, TX, Karen spent her early years enjoying life along the Gulf Coast.  After high school, she attended Texas A&M as well as the University of Houston where she obtained a B.S. in early childhood education. She has written numerous articles and stories, books for children and novels for adults.  She particularly enjoys writing contemporary and historical romance.

She now lives in the Southwest with her family and assorted pets.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?
A.) I have had a life-long love of writing. However, I got serious when I quit a teaching job to stay home with the first of my four children. I wouldn’t say I had a lot more time, but the inspiration bloomed and I wrote my first novel. Over the years, I wrote many articles and short stories, and more books.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?
A.)  The hardest part is finding time. It is also hard to juggle the actual writing with the publicity aspect. I am not as literate as I would like to be with aspects of getting my work before the public.

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In this sweet Regency romance, life in India is idyllic for Anne Tyler and her younger brother, Jeremy until the deaths of their parents shatter their world. They are sent to England to live with a grandfather that neither remembers. However, as the years pass, the kindly man proves a balm for their wounded hearts. His death, when it comes, is a cruel blow.
Though his will leaves the estate to Jeremy, the boy is not yet of age. His grandfather’s nephew, a man with a mysterious past, is named guardian of the property and soon arrives to take up his duty. Unfortunately, the man has a son who is both evil and cunning. Since he stands to inherit the estate should Jeremy die, he will stop at nothing to get his hands on the property.
Murder and threats of murder soon haunt their every move. Standing between them and disaster is the handsome Lord Westerfield, a man who promises to defend Anne and Jeremy, even at risk to his own life.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?
A.) I was elated when the editor called and offered a contract. I couldn’t wait to get the print copies of my new book, The Secret of Castlegate Manor. When they finally arrived, I stared at the shiny book jackets and felt like I’d just had a new baby.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?
A.)  Though they are both necessary ingredients, I believe character is probably the more important element. I remember many well-done characters from books I’ve read better than I remember the stories.

B.)  ) What is a typical day like in your world?
A.)  I get up and take a walk around the neighborhood. If it is during the school year, I go to work as a teacher. When I get home, I ride horse back and feed our horses. I may get to see the grandkids for a while. I cook supper and clean up. At last, it’s time to sit down and write. I usually spend two to three hours each night on my current book projects.

New Release: Wind Chill by Patrick Rutigliano

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What if you were held captive by your own family?

Emma Rawlins has spent the last year a prisoner. The months following her mother's death dragged her father into a paranoid spiral of conspiracy theories and doomsday premonitions. Obsessing him, controlling him, they now whisper the end days are finally at hand.

And he doesn’t intend to face them alone.

Emma finds herself drugged and dragged to a secluded cabin, the last refuge from a society supposedly due to collapse. Their cabin a snowbound fortress, her every move controlled, but even that isn't enough to weather the end of the world.

Everything she knows is out of reach, lost beyond a haze of white. There is no choice but to play her father's game while she plans her escape.

But there is a force far colder than the freezing drifts. Ancient, ravenous, it knows no mercy. And it's already had a taste...

Wind Chill also contains eight original bonus stories:

The Fear Merchant: The local king of Halloween finds himself outdone by a new neighbor and becomes compelled to discover what secrets lie in the haunted house across the street.

Bang!: A rivalry between two creatures of the night takes a black-humored twist. 

Little Red Vest: A break down leaves a woman stranded on the wrong side of town—and witness to a bizarre performance that can warp time as easily as it does flesh.

Shadowplay: Still mourning his little brother’s death, an aging wave slave finds comfort in the local playground. But he can’t help but wonder about the strange child who lingers there after dark.
Jump Cuts: Bitter and dejected, a spinster discovers a way to reconnect with the warmer shades of the human experience. And her own regrets. 

The Skin Trade: A one-night stand leaves a businessman with an unthinkable cargo. 

"At turns heart-rending and terrifying, Wind Chill plumbs the costs of love, family, innocence, and the supernatural with a grace rarely seen in horror fiction. Rutigliano understands the human condition, and we're prisoner as he leads us down a dark and claustrophobic hallway all too real, and, more importantly, actually scary. His career will be a long and fruitful one." - Ben Eads, author of Cracked Sky
"You are in for a treat. Wind Chill is a story of survival in the most horrific way. When a daughter can no longer trust her father she must find a way to save herself." - Horror Novel Reviews
"Patrick Rutigliano's 'Wind Chill' is a nice blend of old world meets new when an ancient myth comes to life for a modern doomsday prepper. Come for the title story and stay for more of Rutigliano's bleak short pieces. This is a good little bundle of terror in one sick package." -Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Little Dead Red
"Wind Chill is a genuine page turner that will leave you cold, ravenous and scared as Patrick Rutigliano breathes new life into an old legend.Wind Chill is great horror." - Douglas Draa, editor of Weirdbook Magazine
"Patrick Rutigliano writes crisp and lean, with a deft delivery, a vivid imagination and an ability to immerse the reader in the fear his well-developed characters suffer. Wind Chill evokes atmospheres as cold, claustrophobic and as intense as the environment it is set in, and with it, Rutigliano crafts a memorable tale where not one word is superfluous. In addition to the novella itself, this book contains the bonus of several other short works, each one a diverse slice of horror pitching ordinary folks into extraordinary situations where anything can, and usually does, happen. Highly recommended for all those who like a clever mix of both the cerebral and the visceral." - Jim Goforth, author of Plebs

About the Author:

Patrick Rutigliano made his way as a fry cook, cart monkey and feral cat tamer before going into business for himself. Working as an editor and proofreader in addition to writing, his first independent release, "The Untimely Deaths of Daryl Handy," hit Amazon in 2013. His first novel, "Surviving the Crash" was released by Retro Rocket Press in 2014.

During his off time, Patrick can usually be found attempting to recreate foreign cuisine, performing the solemn duty of feline waterbed and having spirited debates with his wife over the failings of Disney villains.

Further information is available at

Fridays 5 with Shari Sakurai

Shari Sakurai was born in Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom. After completing secondary school she moved away from further education to work in administration.

Shari is very interested in other countries’ cultures and mythology; in particular Japan. Japanese themes and influences can often be found in her work.

Shari's debut novel Demon's Blood was released in ebook format on 25th January 2014. She has participated and won the National Novel Writing Month challenge for the past eight years.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?
I’ve always loved to write since I was a child, but I only got really serious about writing for publication about six years ago. I’d wanted to publish a novel since I left school, but there were other things in my life that had to take priority and it’s only been in recent years that I’ve been able to realise my dream.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?
I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my writing and so I find it hard to stop tweaking and re-wording things.

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Immortal blood is precious and Kokawa Taku’s makes him especially unique.
After vampire hunters force them to flee Tokyo, Taku and his lover, Thane, try to make a new life for themselves in England. But three months later Thane is still tormented by nightmares of the fire that almost cost them their lives. This leads to carelessness and the discovery of one of his victims.

When faced with threats from all sides Taku tries his best to protect them although his actions are met with disapproval and anger from Thane. Unknown to his lover, Taku is also struggling to keep hidden the truth of what really happened three months ago.

However, it is only a matter of time before Taku’s past and bloodline catches up with him.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?
Publishing a novel has always been my dream and at first it seemed almost surreal for it to finally become a reality. After it had sunk in that I’d actually done it I felt so pleased and proud of myself. I also felt some apprehension about whether or not people would enjoy what I’d written. For me publishing a novel is like putting a part of myself out there and I was nervous about the feedback I’d receive – thankfully the majority of it so far has been positive and lovely!  

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?
It’s difficult, but I’d say characters. They are the life of the story, the ones driving it forward. Without great characters the reader can’t relate to what they’re going through or form any kind of emotional attachment to the novel.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?
I get up and check my emails before getting ready and going to work. When I get home I try to write every night after dinner, even if it’s just a paragraph. I then check my various social media accounts, emails and then unwind before bed by playing Sims on the laptop or Pok√©mon on my 3DS!

Twitter: @ShariSakurai
Amazon Author Page:

Fridays 5 with Kirsten McKenzie

Kirsten McKenzie has worked in her family's antique store since she was a toddler, where she has gone from being allowed to sell 50c postcards in the corner of Antique Alley, a literal treasure trove, to selling $5,000 Worcester vases. This is her first novel, and traverses London, India and New Zealand. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband and two children.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) When my youngest child was about to start school, and my family started harassing me about what I was going to do with my 'spare time'. Although I was already working part time in my family's antique shop, I'd always wanted to write a book, to leave a little piece of me behind so to speak (other than children), so I sat down and wrote a book.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) Avoiding the Internet. I sit down at my laptop, fully intending to write until my fingers bleed, but then I get sucked down the Twitter rabbit hole, something interesting pops up on Facebook, or I find a fascinating article about writing on a website somewhere.

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Synopsis: Following the unexplained disappearance of her parents, and in a last ditch attempt to save the antique store she has inherited from financial ruin, Sarah Lester takes on a deceased estate. Amongst the estate is a collection of fifteen vintage postcards. Sarah is unprepared for what these postcards hint at about their reclusive former owner, and soon they complicate her life in unimaginable ways. Traversing three continents and two centuries, where tiger hunts and ruby necklaces are irrevocably entwined with murders and mysteries, auction houses and antiquities, Sarah is drawn into the enigma that could solve her parents' disappearance.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) Surreal. It still feels surreal.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) The story. The story has to be balanced between good and bad. There has to be a level of "Oh no!", and "Oh yes!" to keep the reader's attention. Of course the characters are equally important, but how can you fully love a character (or hate them), if the story doesn't grip you? A reader can overlook a clunky dialogue between characters every now and then, but they will never forgive you for writing a dire story, with no ebb and flow. Reader's want to be taken hold of, their faces glued to their pages or kindles.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  Get up. Make coffee. Get the children up and off to school. Come home. Have another coffee. Procrastinate on the Internet. Do some laundry or housework. Have another coffee. Realise its lunchtime. Eat lunch. Followed by coffee. Panic that its 1pm already. Actually start writing. Get into the writing mood, then in a really frustrated way, save all the work I've done, and  pick up the kids from school. Think about writing after they've gone to bed. Actually drink wine and procrastinate on the Internet.

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