Don’t miss your chance to save: Book launch for Wildfire coming March 22

You can reserve your advance copy of Wildfire for just 99 cents—but only until midnight March 21.

It’s only 6 days till the first Wine Country Mystery goes live on e-book retailer sites.

That means there’s less than a week left to pre-order your copy for just 99 cents. As of launch day—Thursday, March 22—the price goes up to $2.99.

So do as your parents advised you: buy when it’s on sale. And it’s on sale RIGHT NOW.

Win a signed paperback

I’m giving away three signed paperbacks copies of Wildfire. Send a screen capture to showing your order to enter your name in a draw for one of them.

And email this blog or the links to your friends who love good mysteries so they can enter the draw, too.

What’s Wildfire about?

The sun sets through the smoke from wildfires in Sonoma County, California, October 9, 2017. Photo by the author.

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Join the launch party on Facebook March 22 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. ET.

In the meantime, you can read the first two chapters for free on Wattpad.

Wildfire is now available for pre-order

Book 1 in the new Tara Rezeck Mystery Series is now available for pre-order on Amazon at a special low price.

If you order the book before its launch day on March 22, you’ll be able to get it for just 99 cents.

Pre-order here.

What it’s about

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job after evacuating she finds her employer’s, body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Wildfire is an Independent Authors International title. 

What the beta readers are saying

A select group of readers have seen the pre-release version. What were their reactions?

“Even though we were gone when the fires were happening, I sure felt like was there.”—D.G.

“I like Tara Rezeck and where the author plans to go with her.”—M.H.

“I really like the novel.”—K.L.

Don’t wait

Remember, the price goes up on launch day. So don’t hesitate. Be the first of your social network to read this new book.

Launch day: Walking Out of War

Source: Nasa

Today, the third book in the true-life trilogy about my father-in-law’s experiences in World War 2 launches on Amazon. That’s right: Walking Out of War is now available for sale in both e-book and print formats.

Cover-WOOW-500x800 (1)

And in celebration, you can get the other two books in the trilogy at reduced prices.

And if you want all three books for free, come to the launch party on Facebook from 5 to 9 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, February 22. Prizes include:

  • e-book copies of all three volumes in the trilogy
  • signed paperback copies of each book
  • a $25 Amazon gift card
  • and the grand prize—a complete set of all three books in the Eastern Front trilogy, personalized and signed by the author (that’s me).

There’s no fee to get in, but there will be skill- and knowledge-testing questions, as well as a live chat and lots of fun.

See you there!

Independent book review: One Upon a [Stolen] Time

OnceUponAStolenTimeThe perfect haunted castle story
By Samreen Ahsan

The old adage, “Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true” is the starting point for this story. Myra Farrow is a romantic young woman from London, UK, who is obsessed with stories about medieval knights and princes. She wants to be part of history, and wishes she were a real medieval princess. Frustrated with the impossibility of that, she reads medieval English history, literature and poetry, even making it the subject of her university degree.

Her parents have indulged her to the point of visiting every old castle and manor in the UK, except for one that’s abandoned and closed: the totally fictitious Hue Castle.

Myra’s parents, who run a successful business in London, are concerned that their daughter lives more in the past than the here-and-now, so they arrange a marriage for her to Steve Bernard, scion of one of the UK’s wealthiest and most powerful families.

But Steve isn’t just the inheritor of wealth. He’s actually a successful video game entrepreneur, and while he isn’t interest in Myra romantically, he does want her to be a model for shooting scenes for his new medieval-themed video game. And as coincidence will have it, Steve has chosen the abandoned, yet lifeless Hue Castle for his setting.

Hue Castle has all the necessary elements for a very spooky setting, like prison towers, dungeons and instruments of torture. But the most dangerous thing is a shrouded mirror. When Myra looks into it, she sees scenes from six hundred years ago, the vicious cruelty that brought down a curse so extreme that nothing grows at Hue Castle — no plants, not even rats live there.

As Myra returns to look into the mirror, she’s increasingly drawn into the lives of those dead for six centuries, and gradually, she begins to hear them and finally contacts Edward, the crown prince of England in 1415. Myra wonders whether she can even enter that time, and if she does, whether she would be able to return.


Ahsan’s strength is creating believable, familiar characters, and Myra is another example. She’s a romantic, obsessed with her fantasies of kings and princes and knights, but she is far from one-sided. She dreams about being rescued by a handsome knight, but she’s not weak. She’s a complex, modern woman who likes her cell phones and clothes, and her freedom and independence.

Steve is a complex man, too, who undergoes a transformation through the book and comes to love Myra for who she is. This sets up a love triangle and another level of conflict in Myra, who is already trying to choose between the past and the present.

Perhaps the most complex, appealing character is the tortured Edward Hue, the prince and son of the cruel (fictitious) King Stefan. You really feel for this character, and I was surprised by how fully Ahsan has realized this character.


The only thing I didn’t like about this story was the framing device, the overly complex way she has set up the story, with Myra being set up by her parents with Steven, who is not interested in her at first. I understand why Ahsan chose the billionaire genius guy and the smart, regular girl structure for her previous two-volume Prayer series (A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded). She was showing what a love story like 50 Shades could be if handled by a writer with skill and talent. But there is no need for that here. Neither is there a need for the marriage to be arranged. Steve could have just hired Myra to be his model, and gradually fallen in love with her. It would have made the story simpler and allowed the author to get to the action quicker.

But that’s a minor point. This is a mesmerizing story that keeps you swiping your e-reader to get to the next page. It’s well worth a read.

Get it on Amazon.

How to find funds for your novel: Guest post by Roger Eschbacher

Finding the funds to cover editing, design and production of a book is a challenge every independent author must work out. This week, the award-winning Roger Eschbacher describes his solution.

This post originally appeared on the old Scott’s Written Words blog.

As just about any “indie” author will admit one of the biggest knocks against our tribe is that often self-published books are rife with errors (punctuation, grammar, typos, continuity problems, etc.). We know how jarring it can be to run across a typo in a traditionally published book, so imagine how distracting it can be to be poked in the eye by dozens of them.

Why does this happen? To be blunt, it’s because the author didn’t have the book properly edited. And by “properly,” I mean professionally. No matter how good at catching errors you think you might be, you’ll never get them all. No matter how good you might think your beta reader/proofreader friends are at finding embarrassing mistakes in your text or story, there are always more hiding in your manuscript. Always.

I can verify this through my own experience. I can’t tell you how many “final” reads I did on Dragonfriend, my 2013 self-published MG fantasy novel. I’d go through it, find and fix a bunch of errors, only to go back to the beginning for one last look and find even more. I realized I needed professional help. I needed a paid editor with a trained eye to go through my manuscript and find the mistakes that would embarrass me if they ever made it out of my computer and into the wild.

What does any of this have to do with finding funds for my novel?

Well…having come to the realization that I was in over my head as far as editing goes, I started looking around for someone to help me out. Guess what? Editors can be expensive! My manuscript was in the 75,000-word range, and quotes for an edit on a book that size ran from the upper hundreds to the low thousands on the sites I checked. Google “editing, novel, proofreading” yourself and be prepared for your jaw to drop to the floor. This is not a knock against the editors, by the way; what they do is very time- and labor-intensive (= expensive).

So what was I going to do? I knew I had to get my book properly edited, but I also knew I wasn’t exactly dripping with cash. I was frozen in place until I could scrape together enough funds for a professional editor. Frozen, that is, until I ran across Kickstarter.

How Kickstarter works is a site that exists solely for raising funds for “the arts.” Based on the artist/patron model of old, Kickstarter provides a platform where you can raise money from friends, family, and total strangers without having to beg in person. You simply set up an account and direct people to it with a “Hey, if you’re interested in backing my book project…” Amazingly, to me anyway, a lot of folks were willing to pitch in and help me out.

If you head over to the site, you’ll find that everyone from filmmakers to graphic artists to greeting card makers have a project going on. Oh, and authors too.

Here’s how it works. You sign up for an account, then pitch your project to the Kickstarter folks. My “project” was to raise enough money to have my book professionally edited and pay for its setup (cover design, proof copies, Createspace Pro Plan, etc.). Frankly, I think this step is included to make sure that only “creatives” get in the door. They’re very specific about not accepting charity or non-arty business projects. This site is about raising funds for projects with artistic content.

Thankfully, my project was approved and I set about trying to determine the amount of funding I would need. Having priced out the costs listed above (I picked an editor quote somewhere in the middle of the pack) and factoring in Kickstarter’s five percent account fee, I determined I’d need about $2,100.00 to properly prepare Dragonfriend for publication. Kickstarter recommends that you research your costs and pick a sum that is very close to the amount of funds you will actually need. They say that an appropriately priced project is more likely to succeed, and I think that makes sense.

Next, you determine how long you want the project to go. The allowable range is between 30 and 90 days. Kickstarter recommends 30 days, advising that if a project is going to be funded, it’ll usually happen within that period of time. I wish I had listened to them. I chose 45 days, only to have my project achieve full funding at around day 25. You have to wait for the project to play itself out before Kickstarter releases the funds, so I found myself cooling my heels for the balance of time left in the project. Another reason not to inflate your request is that if you don’t reach your funding goal within the allotted time, the project fails and no one (yourself or Kickstarter) gets any money. The backers who pledged prior to fail won’t be charged either, which is good, but you obviously don’t want to fail. In short, determine a reasonable goal and don’t be greedy!

Next, you create your backer “rewards,” attaching fun things like bookmarks, signed copies, and future character naming rights to various donation price points. They encourage you to be inventive, so in addition to those traditional rewards, I added stuff like writing a “fake” unmasking scene from the Scooby Doo series I write on. The backer became the villain and was able to pick the name of their evil alter-ego in a customized script. Sure it’s silly, but three backers ended up receiving scenes thanks to some very generous donations.

Then you press the “launch project” button and get the word out that you’re trying to raise money for a worthy project—asking folks to become true patrons of the arts. I ended up raising $2,205.00, which I promptly put into play by hiring an editor. I chose Iguana Proofreading and opted for their complete package of a manuscript critique and proofreading.

I have nothing but good things to say about my Kickstarter experience. It provided the funds I needed to launch my book. Without it, I’d probably still be going through the manuscript and finding error after error after error…

What about you? Do you have any experience with Kickstarter or tips on hiring a pro editor? Please share them in the comments.

c114e-undrastormur2bcoverA native of St. Louis, Missouri, Roger Eschbacher lives in Los Angeles, California, where he’s worked as a writer/actor for over 30 years. These days he works primarily as a TV animation writer. He has written for shows you’ve heard of like SCOOBY DOO: MYSTERY INCORPORATED, WABBIT, and LITTLEST PET SHOP and a few you haven’t. Along the way he managed to get nominated for an Emmy. He’s the author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure novel Dragonfriend (winner of a 2012 BRAG Medallion) and its sequel Giantkiller. Roger’s most recent work is UNDRASTORMUR: A Viking Tale of Troublesome Trolls, a novelette available on Amazon. He’s also written two children’s picture books, “Road Trip”, and “Nonsense! He Yelled,” both for Penguin. 

For a list of all of , please visit Roger’s LinkedIn profile page.

Visit Roger’s

Guest post: Alan McDermott on being an author

This post originally appeared on my old Blogger blog on November 23, 2011.

I’ve asked some bloggers to contribute guest posts, where they answer two questions:

what’s the best thing you’ve done, as a writer?

what is the hardest thing, or the biggest mistake you’ve made?

I am contributing posts on the same subject to their blogs.

The responses have covered topics from the kind of writing they do, when they write, their writing process and even managing their personal lives.

5c77e-alan_profile_pic-300x225The first is Alan McDermott from the UK, author of the wildly successful Tom Gray series, which now includes Gray Justice (which I reviewed on this blog), Gray Resurrection, Gray Redemption, Gray Retribution and the latest, Gray Vengeance. He is a member of Independent Authors International. His blog is Jambalian.

Take it away, Alan!

The best and worst of being an author

The best part is easy. You might expect me to say it’s looking at those sales figures and seeing them tick over, but to be honest the thing that pleases me more is when I get a review from someone totally impartial. There haven’t been that many (I think around 16 in total, spread over a few sites such as Amazon, Smashwords and Goodreads), but each one gives me the determination to keep going on the next book.

Readers might think that the book in their hand was written by someone spending hours at the keyboard in an idyllic mountain retreat, but I’d bet that 90 percent of the time the author is like me, working a day job and coming home to a family. As any parent knows, that leaves very little time for anything, never mind writing a novel. This means I have to get up at dark o’clock every morning in order to scrape a couple of hundred words together before setting off for the office. When I get home there are three lovely ladies waiting for me, and they all want a piece of Daddy, and when I get an hour to myself in the evening I am so worn out I can just about say Hi to my friends on Twitter before the sandman comes calling. Weekends are not much better, but at least I can manage a thousand words over the two days.

It’s a tough regimen, but every time I see a new 4- or 5-star review it tells me that someone got a lot of pleasure from my book, and that makes it all worthwhile.

The hard part about being an author? To be honest, I don’t think there is an easy part. Notwithstanding the above routine, I had to come up with a storyline which gallops along at such a pace that the reader cannot put the book down. Having written that story, I then had to tame the beast that is impatience. The beast rears its head as soon as the last word has been confined to the page and screams “Publish it NOW!” I succumbed with my first novel and boy, did I pay the price. I’d given copies to friends and family the day before I published it on Smashwords and the emails soon started coming in, mostly entitled “List of errors.” I cringed as I realized I had given away over a hundred copies and all of these readers would have their reading experience ruined by needless typos. Even after fixing these errors, I got feedback from customers telling me they had found even more! Lesson learned, and for the next instalment I will be doing a heavy re-read and passing it to a few friends well before I publish it.

The next hurdle is probably the hardest to overcome. You now have a perfectly-formatted, error-free book, you think it’s a fantastic read, but how do you get it into the hands of readers? Sure, I’ve got a few friends on Facebook, but when I announced the release I got a couple of responses, both saying “well done,” but neither offering to read it. So I went back and told everyone they could have a free copy, and six people took me up on the offer.
Next came the Google search performed by all new authors: “How to sell my ebook?”

Up came about 150 million results and I started scrolling through. Most of the links took me to writer blogs and the general consensus was that I should get a Twitter account, which I duly did. I signed up and began telling the whole world about my book. After no sales that week, I discovered that people had to be following me in order to hear what I was saying. So I went in search of authors and the numbers began to rise, but still no sales. As I started clicking on blog links in the tweets of others, I discovered some of the cardinal rules of Twitter: don’t just tweet about your book; don’t send new followers direct messages asking them to buy your book; do always thank people who retweet your words; do try and make genuine friends rather than just potential customers. The list goes on, but these are the ones I have concentrated on.

One of the last things I ever considered was having my own blog. With no time to eat, never mind write, how could I begin to pile more work on myself? Nevertheless, it was seen as an essential part of the whole writer-selling-books deal. I already had Jambalian and I added a few posts about the book, but I realised that a proper blog was needed and created a free Jambalian blog on Blogger:

I have tried to keep the focus on writing without saying “BUY! BUY! BUY!” but I find it hard to get time to even think of a topic, never mind commit one to pixels. I’m getting better, though.

At the moment, things are moving slowly, but having stuffed impatience back in his box, I am prepared for the marathon.

Now to get some writing done…

Six sentence Sunday: The vampire edition

Portrait of a female vampire borrowed from 123RF photos

A couple of years ago, I participated in a Web and social media initiative called Six Sentence Sunday. The idea was to publish six consecutive sentences from a writing project—book, story, play, whatever—link it to the Six Sentence Sunday page and then, every Sunday, read the samples of other participants.

Six Sentence Sunday has since closed down, but I thought I would republish my own series here on this new blog. Let me know what you think in the Comments.

Six sentences: enter the vampire
This excerpt features a vampire scene from my first novel, The Bones of the Earth. Not cute, sexy, romantic vampires. No, mine are horrifying bloodsuckers.

Context: this excerpt is from Part Two: Tests. The MC, Javor, his mentor, Photius, and their recently rescued damsel in distress, Danisa, are walking south in Dacia toward the limes, the border of the Roman Empire. They camp for the night. The two men are supposed to take watch in turn, but both fall asleep one dark, dark night. Javor dreams about his old girlfriend:

Her hands roamed over his naked skin, and her kisses became nips and bites. She kissed his throat hard, sucking the skin into her mouth until it hurt.

A sharp pain penetrated his neck, and his eyes flew open as he gasped. The sun was gone the sky was dark, and Javor felt cold. He was back in the night under the oak tree, and there was a terrible pain in his neck. He groped at it and felt something … hairy.

Want to find out more? Want to read about a realistic fertility rite? Click the Sample selection from the Work we’ve done menu at the top of the page for the first chapter. Want to read about vampires who are not friendly and pretty (for a change, at least)? Order the e-book from Amazon or Smashwords.

And continue the Six Sentence Sunday trend — post six sentences from your own work (if you have one) and post a link here, too.