Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Jillian is back!

This Thursday, April 16th, is release day for my first ever sequel, as book two in the Jillian Spectre series hits bookstores. The paperback will follow on July 2nd. You can pre-order now and the ebook will magically appear on your reading device at midnight on Thursday.

I'm thrilled with the cover, done by a very talented artist in the UK named Becky Glibbery. And gotta love the throwback Veronica Lake hairstyle on the cover gal.

Hope you'll check it out... if parents are looking for a clean (no sex) young adult book without teens shooting each other with arrows, pass the word.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Story Bundle: The World's Coolest Shopping Cart for Book Lovers

Imagine you're in a bookstore and I walk up to you with a shopping cart filled with ten books in a genre you really like. You look at the covers and blurbs and find them interesting. They're the kind of books you'd buy. Then I tell you that you can pay whatever you think they're worth, and, oh, by the way, you can register to win a Kindle or a $100 gift card. You'd probably ask, "What's the catch?"

There isn't one. Welcome to Story Bundle.

This is a company that creates bundles of books with similar themes and offers them at a price you determine. And right now, one of my books is in that shopping cart.

The young adult bundle is called "Crossing Worlds" and every book features a young protagonist dealing with amazing challenges in magical worlds. In my case, "Destiny's Hourglass" is the story of a teenage boy who can change the future with his mind. Yeah, I know the current trend is to write kick-ass girls, but I thought the guys deserved equal time. And, ya know, that Harry Potter kid seemed to develop a decent following.

How did I arrive in said shopping cart? Well, a few years ago some author friends told me about Story Bundle, so I sent them a bunch of books of different genres to check out. A few weeks ago they contacted me about joining a very talented group in an upcoming bundle. So here I am.


The bundle is available for a little more than three weeks and the timing is perfect, since the last day (April 16th) coincides with the release of the second book in my Jillian Spectre series. (See aforementioned kick-ass girls.)

Anyway, hope you'll check out StoryBundle.com. They always have multiple bundles for sale of different genres. As for that pricing thing, you can pay a little and get five books or pay a bit more and get five bonus books.

But wait, there's more! Remember, I mentioned a prize, so don't forget to register for your choice of a $100 gift card or a Kindle.

So, is this the coolest shopping cart, or what?


Friday, March 13, 2015

We're lucky enough to be writers thanks to these people

Sometimes, I really hate my other job in television news.

This week I was working as a producer covering one of the saddest, most gut-wrenching stories I've ever done; the military helicopter crash in Florida which took the lives of eleven brave men.

From the moment I arrived it seemed like everything was working against those involved in the search and rescue operation. The fog was incredibly thick and not burning off. Clues were few and far between. And the longer we waited, the more we realized the hope of finding anyone alive was slowly disappearing.

During our day long wait I struck up a conversation with a young Air Force Sergeant, who had not been exposed to such massive media coverage. He made a comment that what media people do is amazing. But he had it very wrong, so I told him, "Hey, we tell stories for a living. You'd take a bullet for this country."

Then it hit me as I looked around at the anguished faces of the members of the military. I can only write whatever I want thanks to the freedom they provide. Think about it... these brave men and women would die so I can tell stories and write books for a living.

So if you're a writer, next time you see someone in uniform, thank that person for their service... and for giving you the right to do what you do. Meantime, say a prayer for the families of those eleven who died giving you that right.

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Leonard Nimoy story: or, how I managed to miss interviews with both Kirk and Spock in the space of five minutes

I've been going to Star Trek conventions since they started back in the seventies. It has always been my favorite show of all time, and back then, conventions were a haven for fellow desperate and dateless geeks, a real life Big Bang Theory.

Then when I became a TV reporter, I had an excuse to meet and interview my childhood heroes anytime there was a convention in town. George Takei was my first, followed by Nichelle Nichols, Grace Lee Whitney, James Doohan, Walter Koenig... but I had never covered a convention with the big three: Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

So when the entire cast was re-united for the show's 30th anniversary in 1996, I made sure to apply for press credentials early. My photographer Russ was as big a fanboy as I was, and we were determined to score the big interviews... a "get" for lifetime trekkers.

A little investigative work told us which door Shatner and Nimoy would be using when they arrived, so we staked it out. Russ discovered that Leonard Nimoy would be sitting down for only one interview as soon as he got there, and it's an exclusive for a network. He manages to strike a deal with the photog shooting the interview to let us in as well... but the promoters would only allow one person in the room. Obviously, since this was TV and we needed video, Russ had to be the one to go. So I remained staking out the door waiting for Shatner while he took off to get the Nimoy interview.

Naturally, as luck would have it, five minutes after Russ left, here comes Captain Kirk. Oh, not just Shatner, but just about every other star of the Trek universe. It was like being on the red carpet without a camera.

By the time Russ returned all the stars had passed by, but he got a good ten minute interview with Leonard Nimoy, who Russ said was as kind and gracious as could be. After that we got to be fans, sitting in the audience as our childhood TV heroes regaled a packed house with terrific stories. You could tell the stars of the show really enjoyed being there and interacting with the fans. And that's a great memory for me, even if I didn't get my interview with Spock.

As Doctor McCoy said at the end of Wrath of Khan, "He's not really dead as long as we remember him." 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Join me at the Romance Festival, Sunday February 8


Nope, we’re not talkin’ about the movie with Kevin Hart. This is about your fictional heroes, the ones you create who will live happily ever after with your heroines. As you’re writing these imaginary guys, have you ever wondered what’s going on inside the heads of real men? (Long pause for your sarcastic comments like “Not much!” or “Beer!”)
As a guy who writes romance, I’m always amazed at the reactions I get from female authors when they discover I do so by writing my heroine in the first person. They basically ask, “How does a guy get inside the head of a woman?” as if you gals have some impenetrable force field. This is generally followed by a look of fear which says, “Oh (expletive), a man has cracked the code and figured us out! Change the combination!” Trust me, it would be easier for the average guy to decipher the Rosetta Stone.
But step back a minute. All writers create characters of both sexes. Female romance authors do whip up Mister Right from scratch all the time. Yet no one ever questions how a woman author can write from a man’s point of view. Why it surprises people that I do the opposite still amazes me.
Okay, you didn’t read this far unless you wanted a peek into the male romance playbook, which is what we’re going to discuss during this week’s festival on Sunday. I’ll answer any questions about why men act the way they do, how guys think about women, dating strategy, the dating type versus the marrying type, fear of picking up the phone, and anything else you can think of that will help you take up residence inside the head of your hero.
For example, I might discuss the different kinds of lies men tell on first dates, since they’ll pretty much agree with a woman on anything to let her think they have stuff in common. There’s the casual bending of the truth: “I’ve heard great things about Downton Abbey, I’ll be sure to watch it.” Or the say-anything-to-get-a-second-date bold faced lie: “I’d love to go with you to the Celine Dion concert.”
We might talk about things that strike fear into men, like women who talk about having children during a first date. That screeching sound you heard is one of the man leaving skid marks.
So what wheels are turning in our heads? How sentimental are we? Do we really like your cat? Are we actually listening to you or just giving you the bobblehead? Would we like it if you took the initiative in the romance department? What do we look for in a soul mate?
So drop by and let’s chat. Hopefully it will help you get inside our heads. (But you probably won’t stay long, since, let’s face it, we’re all basically sloppy.)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rest in Peace, Steve Baker: The big brother I never had...

When you're an only child, your friends are as important as your family. Sometimes, more so.

When you lose one, it leaves a hole in your heart.

To call Steve Baker just a good friend would be doing him a disservice. He was more than that; a big brother who was always there for me, a truly unselfish person who made the world a better place and taught me how to do it.

Steve was a television photographer, one of many I worked with over the years. Photogs and reporters have a special bond; when you spend most of the day in a news car, you don't use all your time talking about your story. Instead, you get in these incredible life discussions, and when you connect it's almost like being married at work. A great newsroom is a second family; it's hard to describe the unique camaraderie that exists in the business filled with nothing but creative, sarcastic people who all have a no-holds-barred, nothing-is-sacred sense of humor. The news industry is like one big fraternity. When we lose a member, we all feel it.

His other fraternity was the band of brothers known as Vietnam Veterans. Steve was an Air Force photographer whose amazing pictures ended up in Life magazine. He put himself in harm's way to get the best shots, as most photogs do. He ended up taking shrapnel and was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

While writers have a pen, Steve's signature was written with a camera. Where writers have a voice, Steve had a style. If you spend enough time in a newsroom you can look at a story and immediately know who shot it simply by the way it was shot and edited. Steve could manipulate light and shadows, using the forces of nature to make beautiful pictures and make those of us on camera look our best. Steve was a paradox; a tough as nails military vet who showed viewers how beautiful the world can be. Several years older than our reporters, he was our newsroom dad. 

He was also part of the most fun newsroom I've ever worked in, always involved in some of the most elaborate practical jokes you could imagine. And he loved doling out payback. Once we were doing a live shot in New Orleans and another crew from New York kept getting in our shot, waving and acting unprofessional. A few months later Steve and I were in Orlando, and, lo and behold, saw the same crew. Steve wanted to write something on their car, but we didn't have any soap or shaving cream. What we did have was a bunch of jelly donuts. You can imagine what blistering Florida sun does to strawberry preserves when they're used to write on a windshield.

Best news crew ever. That's Steve on the floor, second from left. You can probably tell this group didn't take things too seriously.

Steve on the left, celebrating with the staff after a ratings win.

Teaching an NFL star to shoot.

I could go on forever with stories about the guy. The time we were doing a story in a dicey neighborhood: "There's a gun under the seat if you have to shoot someone." The time the video recording deck went out and he had me hold a paper clip to connect the battery: "Will you get electrocuted? Probably not." The time Steve flagged down a waiter in a New York restaurant because his coffee was ice cold. "Can I have a hot cup? I'm funny about my coffee that way." The time a former employee showed up for a visit along with his wife, who everyone despised, and someone sarcastically said, "He's here with his lovely wife." Steve's reply: "Did he get re-married?"

Along with a ton of fabulous memories Steve leaves behind an absolute gem of a wife, Linda, and one son, Kelly, who followed in his dad's footsteps and proudly serves his country as an Air Force Captain.

And a lot of friends who will miss him terribly. 

Steve was still taking pictures on his travels during retirement, a photog till the end. I have no doubt that when he arrived in Heaven and saw the spectacular landscape of paradise, he asked God for a camera.