Monday, April 29, 2024

New Book Release: Reckless Sex, Lies and JFK by Mike Rothmiller


Click cover for Amazon link

Drawing on new interviews and previously hidden police and intelligence files, Reckless finally reveals the full corruption of America’s Camelot.

‘Reads like James Ellroy’– 
Daily Telegraph

‘JFK didn’t hesitate to employ deception, espionage and covert action’ – Timothy Naftali, 
Wall Street Journal

Mike Rothmiller is a New York Times Bestselling Author, nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, historian, and former cop and Army medic. He has also served as a TV reporter, an award-winning documentary producer, and television host for ESPN, PBS, and other international television markets. He has written and produced more than 25 television documentaries, numerous TV and radio ads, and has authored movie scripts. His nonfiction book, My Hero. Military Kids Write About Their Moms and Dads (St. Martin's Press) received international acclaim and holds the honor of being the only book in history to have forwards written by three living Presidents and General Norman Schwarzkopf. Coming this summer, Prime Witness has just been optioned for television. 

In addition to his other, eclectic careers, Mike has been a corporate President/CEO and directed three divisions of Sony Electronics EMCS-America. He's authored 23 books and his recent Secrets, Lies and Deception and Other Amazing Pieces of History was featured on Fox News and over 40 Television News Stations across America. Readers of his books include three Presidents, former First Lady Laura Bush, the late Charlton Heston, and Queen Elizabeth II. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

New Book Release: I Dream I Wake I Write by Jane Ruby

Click cover to find it on Amazon

This book contains stories that began as writing exercises for a creative writing class. Stellar grades from the instructor indicated merit to the writing, so they and additional works were composed and compiled into a book. Most came from real life experiences while others came from dreams. All story characters came from people the author had the pleasure or pain of meeting in real life.

Author Jane Frances Ruby grew up in the baby-booming, blue-collar suburb of Willowick, Ohio. Loathing to write, she did so only for her college degrees and job security. She wrote several technical papers for The Lubrizol Corporation, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees while in that company’s Research Department. Having married and started a family in Phoenix, AZ, she turned to fictional writing. Her first novel, The Azurite Encounter, and its sequel, Voiceless Whispers, were written with help from her daughters, both avid readers of Young Adult fiction

Monday, April 15, 2024

Whatever happened to etiquette? - by Vijaya Shartz

 Raised in Europe, I remember learning to set a table as a child, and I hated all these useless conventions. Who cared about where the water glass or the wine glass went. How close to the plate, on which side, and in what order the knives, spoons, and forks should go. But knowing it served me well when writing historical stories.

The British still keep many rules of etiquette, from what temperature to serve tea, how to curtsy, or what “fascinator” to wear for each occasion… probably due to the Monarchy.

Japan still honors the “Tea ceremony,” a complicated ritual to make the perfect cup of tea to show appreciation for someone special.

Japan also adheres to a stringent etiquette and applies it to their business dealings. Here, again, maybe it’s a lingering remnant of the Samurai and of the Imperium. Like walking to the left of, and one step behind a superior, a teacher (Martial arts) or a husband (for a woman).

The Samurai cast used to not just bow and obey without question, but they would lay down their lives for the honor of their overlord… even committing Seppuku (ritual suicide) taking the blame to preserve their lord’s honor.

My mom used to say that punctuality was the politeness of the kings, their only way to show respect to others. Ever since, I like to be punctual, if not early for every circumstance. Maybe it’s a sign of self-importance on my part? It makes me feel like royalty.

In the US, however, except for a formal dinner at the White House, etiquette seems to have vanished from daily lives. There used to be a dress code to board a plane. Not anymore.

If I believe the dating sites, not showing up or showing up late for a date is common place. No one seems to care anymore. Is this a lack of respect for others? Or just a sign of the times. Our hectic lives give us all kinds of excuses to skip formalities.

I used to send good wishes to friends and family for the new year, a letter, a card. Now, they are lucky to get an email every other year. Still, some of my friends keep making hand-made cards and sending them in the mail for special occasions. She says she enjoys making them, and it’s like a relaxing hobby.

I feel guilty for not reciprocating, but who has the time? Still, I keep these hand-made cards, like precious relics of a tradition which will soon disappear. You can’t stop progress, but maybe we should sometimes look back and consider what we lost in the bargain.

I use many details of cultural etiquette in my books, even in Science Fiction, even with strong heroines and brave heroes. 

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo 

Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo FB

Monday, April 8, 2024

Solar Eclipse by Four Writers Who Were There


On April 8, 2024, much of North America will experience a solar eclipse: an alignment of Sun, Moon, and Earth. The Moon’s shadow path will begin on the Pacific coast of Mexico, pass from Texas to Maine, then leave North America through Newfoundland and Canada, before continuing into the Atlantic Ocean.

Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court 

It grew darker and darker and blacker and blacker, while I struggled with those awkward sixth-century clothes. It got to be pitch dark, at last, and the multitude groaned with horror to feel the cold uncanny night breezes fan through the place and see the stars come out and twinkle in the sky. At last the eclipse was total, and I was very glad of it, but everybody else was in misery; which was quite natural. I said: “The king, by his silence, still stands to the terms.” Then I lifted up my hands—stood just so a moment—then I said, with the most awful solemnity: “Let the enchantment dissolve and pass harmless away!” There was no response, for a moment, in that deep darkness and that graveyard hush. But when the silver rim of the sun pushed itself out, a moment or two later, the assemblage broke loose with a vast shout and came pouring sown like a deluge to smother me with blessings and gratitude; and Clarence was not the last of the wash, to be sure. 

Virginia Wolf 

But now the colour was going out. The clouds were turning pale; a reddish black colour. Down in the valley it was an extraordinary scrumble of red and black; there was the one light burning; all was cloud down there, and very beautiful, so delicately tinted. Nothing could be seen through the cloud. The 24 seconds were passing. Then one looked back again at the blue; and rapidly, very very quickly, all the colours faded; it became darker and darker as at the beginning of a violent storm; the light sank and sank; we kept saying this is the shadow; and we thought now it is over— this is the shadow; when suddenly the light went out.We had fallen. It was extinct. There was no colour. The earth was dead. That was the astonishing moment; and the next when as if a ball had rebounded the cloud took colour on itself again, only a sparky ethereal colour and so the light came back. I had very strongly the feeling as the light went out of some vast obeisance; something kneeling down and suddenly raised up when the colours came. They came back astonishingly lightly and quickly and beautifully in the valley and over the hills— t first with a miraculous glittering and ethereality, later normally almost, but with a great sense of relief. It was like recovery. We had been much worse than we had expected. We had seen the world dead. This was within the power of nature.

James Fennimore Cooper 

At twelve minutes past eleven, the moon stood revealed in its greatest distinctness—a vast black orb, so nearly obscuring the sun that the face of the great luminary was entirely and absolutely darkened, though a corona of rays of light appeared beyond. The gloom of night was upon us. A breathless intensity of interest was felt by all. There would appear to be something instinctive in the feeling with which man gazes at all phenomena in the heavens. The peaceful rainbow, the heavy clouds of a great storm, the vivid flash of electricity, the falling meteor, the beautiful lights of the aurora borealis, fickle as the play of fancy—these never fail to fix the attention with something of a peculiar feeling, different in character from that with which we observe any spectacle on the earth.

Annie Dillard: Teaching a Stone to Talk 

From all the hills came screams. A piece of sky beside the crescent sun was detaching. It was a loosened circle of evening sky, suddenly lighted from the back. It was an abrupt black body out of nowhere; it was a flat disk; it was almost over the sun. That is when there were screams. At once this disk of sky slid over the sun like a lid. The sky snapped over the sun like a lens cover. The hatch in the brain slammed. Abruptly it was dark night, on the land and in the sky. In the night sky was a tiny ring of light. The hole where the sun belongs is very small. A thin ring of light marked its place. There was no sound. The eyes dried, the arteries drained, the lungs hushed. There was no world… We got the light wrong. In the sky was something that should not be there. In the black sky was a ring of light. It was a thin ring, and old, thin silver wedding band, and old, worn ring. It was an old wedding band in the sky, or a morsel of bone. There were stars. It was all over. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Stuck in the Middle By Dan Baldwin

Yes, I'm stuck in the middle with you
And I'm wondering what it is I should do…

That lyric from the Steelers Wheel hit expresses well the writer’s dilemma of facing a dragging mid-section, chapter, or scene. The mid-book slump is a frequent topic of discussion among writers. “I’m stuck! How do I get out of this mess!” The answer is to stop stressing out, find the problem, address it, and move on.

The following are common problems:

Clarity of Action. Does the character have a clear focus that drives the action? Can the reader comprehend this focus or is he left wandering in the wasteland of the author’s prose? Every scene must have a purpose, and that purpose must be clearly stated through word or deed.

Too Much Dialog. Dialog should inhabit as many words or pages as necessary to move the story forward. Provided readers are kept aware of who is saying what and are inspired/entertained/interested, they’ll continue reading. That being said, a character’s occasional ear-scratching or foot-shuffling helps keep the reader grounded.

Too Much Back Story. Authors often provide detailed information even when it bogs down the story. For example, Jill discovers that her husband is unfaithful and confronts him. Rather than writing a lengthy paragraph or page about her frustration, her growing anger, her sense of betrayal, you could show the same thing in a couple of lines of action: Woodrow sauntered through the front door, placed his briefcase on the floor, and sniffed a burned something or other from the kitchen. “Jill, honey—” Jill stepped out of the hallway, suitcase in hand. She slapped his face. “How could you! With her!”

Too Much Pacino. Al Pacino is an American treasure but, often, his emotional level is far too high for a scene. It’s easy to mistake going over the top for grand literature. Beware the tendency to create “art” when you should just be telling a good story.

Not Enough Teasing. A scene, and especially a chapter, must lead into the next scene. For example, at the end of Chapter One your detective knocks on a door. As Chapter Two opens, he steps in only to hear the “click” of a revolver being cocked. Why not end Chapter One with the sound of that click? The reader is compelled to turn the page…

Losing Your Place. Sometimes minor characters become so interesting that there’s a tendency to follow their adventures. That’s okay, provided their story lines lead back to the main character and drive the story forward. A good secondary character who drags the writer from the core of the story may need his own tale in a separate piece.

Making Their Story Your Story. The story is what happens to your characters, how they feel about it, and how they act within it. When the writer takes over, it’s robbery. In my western novel, Caldera III – A Man of Blood, I had meticulously planned out some important action to move the story forward. Fortunately, my protagonist jumped out of my computer screen, grabbed me by my brain, and said, “I’d never do it that way, Dummy!” He was right. I followed his advice, wrote it as he described the incident, and the novel is much better for it.

If you’re stuck in the muddle, consider the above possible causes. Most important, listen to your characters and you’ll find your way out.

The author of westerns, mysteries, thrillers, short story collections, and books on the paranormal, Dan Baldwin has won numerous local, regional, and national awards for writing and directing film and video projects. He earned an Honorable Mention from the Society of Southwestern Authors for his short story, Flat Busted, and was a Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards with Trapp Canyon and Caldera III – A Man of Blood. Baldwin was a finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for Sparky and the King; his Bock’s Canyon won their 2017 Best Book Awards. Baldwin’s paranormal works are The Practical Pendulum – A Swinging Guide, Find Me as told to Dan Baldwin, and They Are Not Yet Lost, among others. They Are Not Yet Lost won the New Mexico-Arizona Book Competition, and How Find Me Lost Me won the Best Book Awards 2017 competition. Find Dan’s tips for writing and more at