5Q's with Heather Bserani

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A.)  There isn't a clear cut point where I can say that I went from aspiring to author.  It certainly wasn't the moment I uploaded my file to amazon.  I would have to say it was about a month after publication when people began referring to me as a writer.  After a while it finally sank in that indeed I am a writer.  It is something that I couldn't be more proud of.  Its a forever type of thing too.  I will always write.  It has become a part of who I am.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?
A.)  For me the hardest part of writing is finding time to actually do it.  Like most of us indies out there, I am balancing a day job, parenting and writing among other things.  There are times where I will go weeks without having time to sit and write down the ideas racing through my head.  I haven't yet found a schedule that allows me consistent time to write, but hopefully at some point it will become more of a regular thing for me.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?
A.)  The moment I clicked the upload button for Immortal Storm I was elated.  It had started as something I mentioned casually at a summer gathering, but after three years it had finally come to fruition.  That one file represented three years of my life.  It was something that I had always wanted to do, as do many, but I had actually stuck with it and achieved my goal.  I remember that it took a few days for the smile to fade.  I am still in awe everytime I type my name into the amazon search box and my novel pops up.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?
A.)  Outside of writing I am a pretty busy person - you only live once, so I figure I should do everything I can. I am a mom, so my family is undoubtedly my passion.   I also absolutely adore France and speak fluent French.  I travel whenever I have time and can afford it.  I have two horses and enjoy horseback riding, I do so whenever the weather in NY cooperates with me.  Finally, I have been dancing for about 30 years.  I am never as happy as when I am in the dance studio.  I have studied many forms of dance, but I adore ballet. 

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?
A.)  My question for an author would be for Antoine de St. Exupery, author of Le Petit Prince.  I would want to know how he was able to craft such a profound tale with such everlasting meaning.  To me his work is the epitome of writing.  It is beyond me how he was able to create such a powerful work in such a limited frame.  The fact that his novella is loved across the world and by so many different age groups continues to amaze and astound me.
Heather Bserani is the author of the Shield of Night books, a paranormal romance series. She has also penned several short stories. While she currently lives in New York, she has spent considerable time in France. She holds a Bachelor's of Arts in French and Spanish and a Masters Degree in teaching secondary French. An avid reader, Heather can always be found with her nose in a book. She enjoys many genres including classical French literature and historical fiction, but she is happiest when reading about vampires. When she isn't reading or writing, Heather can be found in the ballet studio or astride one of her trusty horses.

Amazon link to Immortal Storm

Review of Dead: The Ugly Beginning

Title: Dead: The Ugly Beginning

Author:  T.W. Brown

Published: May December Publishing LLC

Pub Date: April 22, 2010

Genre:  Zombie Horror.

Synopsis: The unthinkable has happened. The dead are walking! Humanity's fragile thread may be reaching its bitter end. Individuals and groups struggle to survive...some at any cost. Will there be anybody left? Or, is this just...The Ugly Beginning? The story is told through the eyes of several different groups of survivors scattered across the U.S. Mixed in are a number of vignettes that explore the varying depths to which man is predisposed to stoop to when all the conventions of civilized humanity are stripped away.

Review: I will preface my review by admitting that I’m not a big fan of Zombie fiction.  I have read my share of it in the past and will acknowledge that T.W Brown, does a pretty good job of writing a compelling tale that will draw one into the story. His use of a group of nerds already familiar with Zombies adds depth to characters that are well drawn and wholly believable. I will admit there were a couple of confusing moments where I lost track of the characters and had to backtrack to recall  them. Of course that could be because I’m getting older and you know what they say about us old folk.
My biggest problems with the work were mechanical in nature.
The first being the way the story constantly switched from past to present tense and back again throughout the whole book. The author did do a passable job of keeping the tense switches divided but there were a few times when he switched tense in the middle of a paragraph. These switches constantly threw me out of the story. Had he chosen to remain in past tense I feel the flow of the story would have been much better.
The second problem I lay at the feet of the publisher. That is the formatting errors that plague my kindle copy of the book. Numerous words that should not have been were hyphenated, and entire sections of text were formatted in block instead of  first line indent format. I received my copy on 1/28/2012 as a free download. The book was originally published on 4/22/2010 and there were several reviews that mentioned the formatting errors published before I got my copy which gave the publisher ample time to contact Amazon and correct these issues.

5Q's with Sara Brooke

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A.)  Somehow, I always knew I could write and had worked in different fields where writing was a necessity.  But the first time I considered myself an "author" is when Biting Dog Publications agreed to release my horror novel "Still Lake".   That was when I truly felt validated, because someone was willing to take a chance on an unknown author and represent the book.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?
A.)  For me, the most difficult part is editing the book once it's done. You get to the end and think "Whew. Now I feel satisfied with my story", but in reality the end is just the beginning of a very long editing process.  There are so many things you miss from a grammatical standpoint when you are simply free-form writing that you must go back and review everything.  Were all the plot lines connected?  Did you use proper grammar and punctuation?  Were you too wordy?  These are all things you have to ask yourself and really cannot be answered until the manuscript is complete.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?
A.)  Well, my first e-book was only released by Biting Dog within the past several weeks, so I can tell you that the euphoria of truly completing that first novel is amazing.  It feels like you've given birth to something new and exciting and you sincerely hope that others enjoy it as well.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?
A.)  Love reading horror novels and watching scary movies.  Not necessarily for content or ideas, just because I love the feeling of being scared and unsure of what will happen next.  For more calmer moments, I am passionate about the important people in my life.

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?
A.)  Well, I know lots of authors so I would have to first choose someone who I've never met but truly admire.  Bentley Little, in my opinion, is the most talented horror author alive today and if he were in a room with me, I would ask him the following. "Would you marry me?" That would probably scare him more than any of my books:)

Sara Brooke is a horror and suspense novelist living in South Florida. A lifelong avid reader of all things scary, Sara's childhood dream was to write horror books that force readers to sleep with their lights on.
Her first novel, Still Lake, was released Spring 2012.
Sara's influences and favorite authors include Bentley Little, John Saul, William Blackstone, and Joe McKinney.
Learn more about Sara Brooke at www.sarabrooke.com

5Q's with Deborah Coonts

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A.) When I found the courage to let others read what I wrote.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?
A.) Punctuation. I finally gave up. Actually, trusting your gut, telling your story in your voice, writing outside the lines and knowing it's the right thing to do...even when others disagree and want to tell you 'the rules.'

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?
A.) Terrified yet whole.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?
A.)  Learning, and helping.

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?
A.) Ayn Rand:  May I buy you a drink and sit and talk for a spell?

Bio :
Author of WANNA GET LUCKY?, LUCKY STIFF, And SO DAMN LUCKY, and, LUCKY IN LOVE, a digital novella.  Look for the next digital novella, LUCKY BANG, on July 4th!
for more info deborahcoonts.com


The title of today's post reminds me of the time I was involved in Scouting with my grandson. When the Scout Master made an announcement the boys would yell in reply, competing with one another to be the loudest, stamping their feet and screaming the announcement song that went as follows.

Announcements, announcements, announcements!
What a terrible way to die,
A terrible way to die,
A terrible way to be talked to death.
A terrible way to die.

It was always fun to watch those uninitiated parents as they got their first introduction to the song. Up to this point they would be marveling at how well ordered the boys were as they conducted their meeting. You could tell who the old timers were as they usually had their ears covered with their hands before the Scout Master made his announcement.

In my efforts to expand this blog and provide constantly updated content I copied a feature I had seen on quillsandzebras called Five Minute Mondays. Each week a different writer answers the same five questions. I still need to come up with a snappy title but for now I'm calling it Monday's 5Q's.

I contacted a number of writers I know and posted an open invitation on Facebook, Goodreads, and around the web. The response has been good, not overwhelming, but good and I've managed to fill every Monday between now and beyond the middle of August.

June 11: Deborah Coonts
June 18: Sara Brooke
June 25: Heather Bserani
July  02: Rick Hautala
July  09: Lorne Oliver
July  16: Wednesday Lee Friday
July  23: Bryan Hall
July  30: Scott Nicholson
Aug  06: William F Nolan
Aug  13: Alice Sabo
Aug  20: Jo Ann Russell

I recently finished reading Robert Dunbar's MARTYRS & MONSTERS and will post my review once I get it done. But first I have to finish my review of T.W. Brown's DEAD: THE UGLY BEGINNING.

In the weeks and months ahead I plan to add several more features.

The Editors Corner: Here I'll feature a different market for writers that contains a brief interview with the editor in charge as well as the submission guidelines for the featured market.

New Releases: A weekly feature announcing new and upcoming titles in the horror / dark fiction field.

Nuts &  Bolts: The magic behind the words. Each post will ask several different writers how they handle one aspect of writing fiction. This will be open to any writer that wishes to participate.

So that ends my announcements.

Announcements, announcements, announcements!
What a terrible way to die,
A terrible way to die,
A terrible way to be talked to death.
A terrible way to die.

Works in Progress

For anyone that's interested I thought I'd give a quick overview of some of the things I've been working on lately.

Recently finished two short stories WHERE THE DEAD THINGS GO and SKIN. Letting them sit for a bit before I go back through them.
In WHERE THE DEAD THINGS GO a young boy learns of his brother's death in Iraq. Fleeing his sorrow he becomes lost in the forest and discovers a secret place where all the dead gather.
In SKIN a tattoo artist tattoos an angel and becomes obsessed with her unnatural beauty.

I'm still working on my novella ENTER NIGHT. Had finished it and was about to send it out to a couple of people who offered to be first readers when I realized the approach was all wrong. I'm a perfectionist by nature so I've opted to hold off a bit longer on sending it out, I'm gonna fix the problem first. The story stands well as written, I just find the opening catalyst a bit contrived so I want to try another approach that to me feels more natural.

My novel REPRISAL is still in the editing stage. I work on it as time permits. At its core the story is about vengeance. The main character Susan, is a young widow who moves to Porter Mines with her daughter a year after her husband's death in Iraq. Porter Mines, like many other small towns across the country, has its share of secrets and local legends. One legend in particular centers on a witch who had been burned at the stake in the late seventeen hundreds. With her dying breath she cursed the inhabitants vowing that with each generation she would take her due. From that point on, every thirty five years, seven children vanish.
The house Susan purchased has its own secrets. One is a closed tunnel in the basement that had been used by bootleggers during prohibition. The other secret is the ghost of a young boy who shot himself after being haunted by the ghost of his sister's best friend who befriends Susan's daughter Christine.
There's a lot more going on in the story but I don't want to reveal too much, too soon.

I'm starting work on a sequel to SHADOWS OF THE PAST,  a series of books that will detail the alien take over of the planet, starting small and spreading to engulf the entire world's population. I'm interested in the air war of world war two, the aerial dogfights between piloted aircraft where skill was a determining factor in whether a pilot lived or died. Where it was necessary to maneuver close to achieve victory and I've always thought it would be neat if it were necessary to do so again. I've worked out a plausible reason for mankind to have to revert to pre-computer weapons systems to defeat an alien invader. With this series I can introduce the Armageddon Air Force. Everything's in the planning stages right now. But book two will be titled BRETHREN.