Tuesday, December 8, 2015

AMONG THE STACKS: Matt Manochio


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Matt.  Welcome to The Gal.  I have recently become a fan and I am super excited to have you here today.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Matt Manochio:
I'm a 40-year-old single dad living in northwest New Jersey, where I write and edit guide that help insurance underwriters understand various businesses and industries.  If that sounds boring, it can be. But I have a great job that allows me to write my stories in the afternoon and, more importantly, be a dad.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Matt Manochio:
That's a tough one.  I honestly can't think of one thing, let alone five.  But I'll try.

1. I was once obsessed with throwing knuckleballs and baseballs and, at one time, fantasized about being a knuckleball pitcher.  The only problem is you really need to be an outstanding baseball player in order to do that, and I couldn't even make my high school team.  Ah, the follies of youth.  But I cannot wait for my son to become old enough to throw a baseball.

2. I've performed stand-up comedy six times in my life in 1998 when I was working as a newspaper copy editor in South Carolina.  When it works, and you can make people laugh, it truly is one of the best feelings imaginable.  When it doesn't work, and you bomb, you feel like crap.  But there are worse feelings in the world.

3. I own every Enya album, including the new studio release, Dark Sky Island.

4. When I was a newspaper reporter, I once appeared with On the Record with Greta Van Susteren to discuss the tragic death of a young vocal woman who died in Hawaii.

5. I love ventriloquists. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Matt Manochio:
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Matt Manochio:
Finders Keepers by Stephen King.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Matt Manochio:
As far back as elementary school, when I would write silly stories and read them in class with the sole purpose of making my classmates laugh.  I enjoyed writing and got into newspapers - I was a daily newspaper reporter from 1999-2011 - because it was an outlet to write.  I began trying to write novels in 2007 and just kept at it, and am glad I did.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Matt Manochio:
Nope. Either sitting on my couch or sitting on my bed.  Either works for me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Matt Manochio:
I'm working on what I hope turns into another Krampus novel, knock on wood, and firmly believe a book begins taking shape once you've finished the first draft and begin re-reading what you wrote.  So I suppose that's a process, not really a quirk.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Matt Manochio:
Just how long it takes to write even a short novel, one that's 65,000 to 70,000 words, which is sort of the minimum that publishers tend to accept and probably 250 pages long.  I'm amazed by authors who write 1,000-page books.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What book shave most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Matt Manochio:
That's a touch one because I'm not a voracious reader.  I've read more Dave Barry books that I can count, but most of them weren't novels.  And the first novel he wrote, Big Trouble, I didn't find funny.  I love humor writing and try to find a balance in my works.  The aforementioned Hobbit, along with Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and Stephen King's Salem's Lot, are the books that I have gone back and reread time and again.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Matt Manochio:
Good question because I have no idea how to answer it.  How about one that keeps you engaged?  I felt that way about Justin Cronin's The Passage.  I loved lying down at night to read it and didn't want it to end.  And I can't attribute it to wonderful characters (I can't name any of them off the top of my head).  I suppose it really depends on your own personal preferences.  I know there are people who hated The Passage.  Why?  We all read the same book.  You have to into the book with interest in the subject matter (The Passage dealt with vampires) and hope it grabs you.  That's still not a good answer!  I wish I had a better one.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Matt Manochio:
You're good.  This is another question I'm having trouble answering.  I don't really love characters or become obsessed with them.  Here's what I mean: there are people who've read every Harry Potter book, can name all of the characters, recite their back stories, etc.  I can't do that with characters in my favorite books.  I know Bilbo Baggins is the protagonist in the Hobbit, but for the life of me cannot rattle off his relatives, and I'm sure there are people who can.  When I'm writing my characters, I try to envision whether I want the reader to like the character or hate them and proceed accordingly.  (Or at least I try.)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Matt Manochio:
Probably Billy Schweitzer, the protagonist from my first novel, The Dark Servant.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Matt Manochio:
No.  You're not looking at the cover when you're reading a book.  You're reading the pages, what's in them is what matters most.  And my publishers ask for input into the cover design.  I try the best as I can to describe what I'd like to see, and hopefully my publishers can come up with something that closely mirrors it.  The cover for my second novel, Sentinels, is by far my favorite.  It's almost exactly what I was looking for.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Matt Manochio:
Just how aggravating the editing process can be.  You spend months writing a book, more months refining it, then you proofread it before sending it to the publisher, then you get it back (sometimes a year later) from your editor with his comments and those of a copy editor's.  You make your changes, return it, and then get the corrected version to go over one more time - all the while hoping, praying, you've caught every possible typo or missing word that could be hiding in there.  And when you've learned you've missed some after the fact?  It's deflating.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Matt Manochio:
From Sentinels: What it was like for a black teenager to be sold to slavers and chained within the bowls of a ship bound for the United States from Africa.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Matt Manochio:
That I try to use humor whenever I feel it's warranted.  Most horror books, at least the one's I've read, don't include boatloads of humor - be it in dialogue or when describing something.  And humor lines that I do read tend to be throwaway lines, like the author knows something should be inserted to lighten the mood but doesn't really think about how to do it, inserts a line or two, and then moves along with the horror story.  Humor matters to me because, if done correctly, you might have a reader for life.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Matt Manochio:
They're important.  I've come up with all my book titles.  I originally named my first novel The Dark Companion but was informed by my publisher that a Ramsey Campbell book that is published had a similar title, so I opted for Servant.  As for Twelfth KRampus Night, one of the book's antagonist's Frau Perchta, historically, made her rounds in Bavaria during Twelfth Night festivities.  As for Krampus, there's Krampus Night, which is December 5, the Night of the Krampus, which is when he supposedly makes his rounds to beat up the bad kids.  So I took both Twelfth Night and Krampus Night and came up with the title, and it really works, if you ask me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Matt Manochio:
It would have to be a novel.  Realizing that something that started on a single page and then results in a 300-page book that you can hold in your hands - and reading the blurbs that you managed to score from more famous writers - is quite rewarding.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Matt Manochio:
My target audience would be high school-aged kids to adults who want to have fun when they read.  I want my books to be entertaining, first and foremost.  I try not to get all deep and philosophical or preachy.  That's best left up to others.  I try to impart a little moral of the story, and I do try to include a twist or two.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Matt Manochio:
I don't really have any that I can think of.  I might have versions of a scene that I cut and paste into a different Word document to come back to for whatever the reason.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Matt Manochio:
I don't really operate that way.  I don't have multiple projects floating around.  I currently have two projects that, at some point, will be completed.  Which leads to the next question.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Matt Manochio:
I like Krampus.  Love him.  And I find it challenging to come up with new stories that feature him.  Krampus was put on this earth to catch and torment kids.  I introduce him in my first book doing just that in modern times.  I never thought about a sequel because, really, what more can you have him do that would be totally different?  So with Twelfth Krampus Night, I worked backward and include two dark servants - Krampus and Frau Perchta - that are in competition with one another to infiltrate a castle to get their prey.  All the while, all hell is breaking out in the castle and everybody inside it wants to get out but dares not because Krampus and Perchta are outside.  That was a lot of fun, and I'm currently working on another Krampus story that I hope becomes a full-length novel.  I'll see where it takes me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Matt Manochio:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything that you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Matt Manochio:
What a thorough interview!  Thank you.  If someone is reading this and hasn't read any of my works, well, please give me a try.  I have a warped sense of humor (like Krampus does) if that helps.  Also, to anyone who might or who has read my work: if you haven't already, please leave a review on Amazon, which, to me, is the site that matters most.  If you want to put it on Goodreads and B&N and elsewhere, please do.  The more the merrier.  Those reviews can help authors like me and others get noticed.  And that's important.  And it really means a lot to me that you took the time to do it.  Thanks!


About the author:
Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.  He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Association Awards for his reporting.
            He wrote about one of his passions, rock 'n' roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.  He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment.
            His debut novel, The Dark Servant, was published with Samhain Horror in November of 2014.  His second novel, Sentinels, was released November 2015, just prior to Twelfth Krampus Night in December 2015.  He currently lives in New Jersey with his son.

REVIEW: Bad Apples 2


Bad Apples 2
By: Edward Lorn, Evans Light, Jason Parent, Adam Light,
Kealan Patrick Burke, Gregor Xane

Genre: Horror, Anthology
Publisher: Corpus Press
Publication date: 10.2.2015
Pages: 260

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.6.2015


I have read quite a bit from every person in this book, so when I found out that Bad Apples 2 was out, I could not wait to get time to read it.  And, as usual, I was not disappointed.  Another quality anthology, and one I hope continues for years to come.

Halloweekend - 3 1/2
A story about a haunted house with misbehaving animatronics, done in typical Edward Lorn fashion. A good story, but not his best work.  I like the things he comes up with, the stories he tells, and sometimes the way he tells them, just not always the way he writes them.  I think he has a tendency to go "too far" not because the story needs it, but for shock value.  I enjoyed the way the animatronics were depicted and the fact that there was a surprise "appearance" from a character seen in last year's story, but I found this comical instead of scary.

Candy Apple - 5
I enjoy this story a little more every time I read it.  Evans has a way of creeping you're reading his words, and at the same time giving your imagination everything it needs to run wild with the story and characters he's played out before you.  This story, to me, is a bit of a warning about the things that can happen to you when you play a holiday game by yourself... and what happens when you're not careful about the wishes you make.

Dia de los Muertos - 4 1/2
Two Bad Apples, two times Jason Parent has scared the nonsense out of me.  Last time, I knew a child with the same name as the child in his story... with an imaginary friend of the same name.  This time, upon reading the line that mentioned the lights going out, the ones in the room I was in turned off, leaving me in complete darkness.  And I could have sworn I heard nails skittering across the wall.  It was a bit before I was able to pick the book up again.
            A very good story that went in directions I never expected, with a "hero" that is not typical in stories.  Mr. Parent's writing is never a disappointment and I look forward to what he comes up with next.

Tommy Rotten - 5
I have been impressed with Adam's writing since the first story of his that I read.  With each new piece, I am more and more amazed at his imagination and talent.
            I was super excited about this story.  It has been one of my favorites of his and creeps me out every time I read it.  The ending was really good and made me wish that there was more to the story.  Like his brother, he has a knack for giving your imagination the extra push that leaves you laying in bed, lights out, eyes as wide as saucers, watching every shadow, questioning every sound.

The One Night of the Year - 5
Kealan Patrick Burke being part of this was a huge surprise and made Bad Apples 2 more enticing than it already was.  Talk about a talented guy.  And this story was perfect.  
            I was lying in bed, reading this book, enjoying every second of this story... until I got about halfway through.  I will admit that I had to close my Kindle, vowing to continue reading once the sun was back up.  I want to thank you for that, Kealan.  You have a way with words and an impressive talent - and you managed to scare me enough that I wasn't sure I wanted to pick this book back up.  The characters are well written, and the story will be haunting me, and keeping me wondering on Halloween for the rest of my life.

Doctor Proclivity & Professor Propensity - 5
Ever since I experienced Six Dead Spots (a book I still have problems describing with anything more than "Gregor writes crazy so well"), I have been a fan and, in all honesty, his story is the one I looked forward to the most in this collection.
            All I can say is: Gregor Xane has done it again.  I had wondered why his was last and now I know - it would have been tough to follow.  The characters are great, the story so intriguing that, once it began, I could not stop reading until it was done.  Twists and turns, unexpected moments, and the end nowhere close to what I expected, open enough to keep my mind in the story long after I had finished.  I am left wanting to know more - and wanting more from this author.

About the book:
The minds behind the bestselling Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror return this October with another batch of frightful fare.  This time, they brought along a friend - Bram Stoker Award-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke!
            Dive into the season with these six Halloween treats:

Two boys enter a Halloween attraction that holds a devilish secret - but one of the boys has a surprise of his own in Edward Lorn's HALLOWEEKEND.

Halloween was his birthday, and all poor Bob Talley wanted was for his family to be together again.  This year, his wish might come true amid whispers of CANDIE APPLE, from Evans Light.

A deserter seeks to escape the horrors of war and pave a new existence in a foreign land in Jason Parent's DIA DE LOS MUERTOS.

Does something putrid truly reside in a small town's pumpkin patch, or is it only a local legend?  Find out in Adam Light's TOMMY ROTTEN.

An old man and his dog await Halloween visitors with candy and a shotgun in Kealan Patrick Burke's THE ONE NIGHT OF THE YEAR.

Jimmy Stones and his Uncle Shel uncover the dark secrets of Medium, Ohio's annual Halloween puppet show in Gregor Xane's DOCTOR PROCLIVITY & PROFESSOR PROPENSITY.

REVIEW: Twelfth Krampus Night


Twelfth Krampus Night
By: Matt Manochio

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication date: 12.1.2015
Pages: 121

Recommended by: Hook of a Book, Read 2 Review
Date read: 12.6.2015


Anyone that knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of the Krampus myth.  It all started when my  nieces were 3.  There was an article in the Houston Chronicle that told the stories of Krampus, as well as several other "characters" that deal with naughty children this time of year.  To me, his story was the best, and ever since then, any time something is devoted to Krampus, I have to read it or see it.  (Yes, that means I did see the movie - and I really liked it.)

This is my second Manochio novel, and I have one more planned for the month.  As with the last one, I found this very enjoyable, and I'm glad that I was introduced to his talent.

The characters in this book are well written, especially Frau Perchta and Krampus.  I love the competitive streak between the two that lasts the whole story, and how they deal with each other.  I also like Beate and how much she grows as the story goes on.  There were a couple of unexpected twists, and some things that kept me wondering until the answers were given at the conclusion.  And what a conclusion... I really like how the story ended, but also what was laid out in the final pages, which put in my mind so many further stories that could be written starring these two amazing characters.  (Yes, I am now a fan of Perchta, too.)

To me, this book was more like a really good action movie with some frightful moments.  There were some parts that kept me on the edge of my seat, that had my heart pounding and my stress level up, but I didn't find it, as a whole, scary.  That's not saying this isn't a great book because it really is.  I just don't find Krampus himself to be "scary," just more a natural part of life, and I wish that he had more than one day to do his duties, or maybe a longer list.

This is a great read and I highly recommend it, especially to people who love Krampus as much as I do.

Favorite line: "Do you think it is okay if I eat some of him?"  (Epic!)


About the book:
Dark servants clash!
            Medieval maiden Beate, who's grieving over the mysterious eviceration of her best friend, Gisela, must escape a Bavarian castle under siege by sadistic creatures.
            Standing in her way - beyond towering walls and crossbow-toting guards - are Saint Nicholas's demonic helper, Krampus, and Frau Perchta, a belly-slitting hag who prowls the countryside during First Night festivities to punish naughty teens.
            Beate wants you.  Krampus and Frau Perchta want in, determined to breach the castle to snag their prey.  Beat has no idea why these monsters want her, but she must use her wits to save herself from horrors both human and inhuman - lest she wind up like Gisela.

About the author:
Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.  He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Association Awards for his reporting.
            He wrote about one of his passions, rock 'n' roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.  He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment.
            His debut novel, The Dark Servant, was published with Samhain Horror in November of 2014.  His second novel, Sentinels, was released November 2015, just prior to Twelfth Krampus Night in December 2015.  He currently lives in New Jersey with his son.

Friday, December 4, 2015

REVIEW: Wolf Land


Wolf Land
By: Jonathan Janz

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication date: 11.3.2015
Pages: 314

Recommended by: Hook of a Book, Read 2 Review
Date read: 12.3.2015


Jonathan Janz is an amazing author and a really nice guy, so when I saw that he had a blog tour coming up with Hook of a Book - and for Wolf Land - I jumped on board.  (Book tours always give me a reason to move books I have on hand further up on my TBR list haha.)

Janz has a talent that, unfortunately, most writers do not have.  He not only knows how to write a story that stays with you and gets into your head, but his use of characters and setting are simply spot on in every book I have read of his.  His characters, even the bad ones, have a way of grabbing your attention (and sometimes your heartstrings), and I'm always surprised to see who makes it through the story (they really are never the ones I expect).  His settings could be anywhere; you could walk past "this place" everyday of your life and never even think about it until you start reading his latest... and that's where he first gets me every time.  His description of events are powerful - and sometimes so gory - but so... perfect.  

From the very first page, I was drawn into a story that, to be honest, scared me.  I mean REALLY scared me.  And not just while I was reading it.  Even after I put the book down, the story remained right there on the very outskirts of my thoughts, waiting to sneak back in when the lights were out, when I was walking past a large grouping of trees down the road from my place, when I came home from the grocery store in the dark.  I'll be honest: When I finished this book last night, I sat there for a good half hour taking it all in.  This was after two days of sleepless nights, of not getting to bed until really late (like 3am and after) unable to put the book down.  And, after enjoying my view of the trees behind my building... and being convinced that I saw something moving in them, something large and... We'll just say that all my lights stayed on last night.

As usual, I enjoyed his characters - and was a tad disappointed when some of the characters (the ones that typically survive these kinds of things) died early on.  I really liked Duane and Joyce - Duane because he grew after the horrific event, and Joyce because I completely relate to her.


About the book:
An unholy predator on the prowl!
            The small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends.  They're about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil.
            The werewolf.
            The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded.  And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy town is about to face an even greater terror.  Because the four victims of the werewolf's fury are changing.  They're experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings.  They'll prey on the innocent.  They'll act on their basest desires.  Soon, they'll plunge the entire town into a nightmare.  Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.

About the author:
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything.  Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012."  The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."
            2013 saw the publication of his novel of vampirism and demonic possession, The Darkest Lullaby, as well as his serialized horror novel Savage Species.  Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, "Fans of old-school splatter punk horror - Janz cites Richard Laymon as his influence, and it shows - will find much to relish."  Jonathan's Kindle Worlds novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows marked his first foray into the superhero/action genre.
            Jack Ketchum called his vampire western Dust Devils a "Rousing-good weird western," and his sequel to The Sorrows (Castle of Sorrows) was selected one of 2014's top three novels by Pod of Horror.  2015 saw the release of The Nightmare Girl, which prompted Pod of Horror to call Jonathan "Horror's Next Big Thing."  His newest release is Wolf Land, which Publishers Weekly called "gruesome yet entertaining goriest" with "an impressive and bloody climax."  He has also written four novellas (Exorcist RoadThe Clearing of Travis CobleOld Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories.
            His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliche happens to be true.  You can learn more about Jonathan at his website.  You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

REVIEW: Sentinels


Sentinels
By: Matt Manochio

Genre: Horror, Occult, Western
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication date: 11.3.2015
Pages: 274

Recommended by: Hook of a Book, Read 2 Review
Date read: 12.1.2015


I have been looking forward to this book, so when Erin approached me about being part of his blog tour, there was no way I could turn it down.  And it was well worth the wait.  I really enjoyed the story, holding my breath with anticipation from start to finish, and had the hardest time putting it down, reading late into the night.  The story has some great characters and, as always, Matt is on point with the pacing of the story - nothing ever seems rushed and the story plays out perfectly.  And the way he does fear - wow!  I was creeped out by several parts of the story, but the characters and events came back into my mind once the lights were off, creeping me out a second time - nicely done!  Definitely a must read.

There was just one problem, one that to others may not be a big deal, but to me became bothersome.  There were several errors throughout (missing words, not enough research on the way people spoke at the time, etc) and even though it didn't stop me from finishing the story, they did become irritating the further I got into the story.  To be honest, it was rather disappointing.  


About the book:
These are no ordinary killers.
            They don't distinguish between good and evil.  They just kill.  South Carolina's a ruthless place after the Civil War.  And when Sheriff's Deputy Noah Chandler finds seven Ku Klux Klansmen and two Northern soldiers massacred along a road, he cannot imagine who would murder these two diametrically opposed forces.
            When a surviving Klansman babbles about wraiths, and is later murdered inside a heavily guarded jail cell, Noah realizes something sinister stalks his town.  He believes a freed slave who's trying to protect his farm from a merciless land baron can help unmask the killers.  Soon Noah will have to personally confront the things good men must do to protect their loved ones from evil.


About the author:
Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.
            He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting.  He wrote about one of his passions, rock 'n' roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highest of his journalism career.
             He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.

Monday, November 23, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Little Miss Somebody


Little Miss Somebody
By: Christy Lynn Abram

Cover Designer: Lori Follett at Wicked Book Covers

Genre: Coming of Age
Publisher: Gravity Imprint of Booktrope Publishing
Expected publication date: December 15, 2015

Fourteen-year-old Nikki's world is turned upside down when her mother makes an impulsive move to Missouri.  Having left everything she knew behind, Nikki is left to fend for herself from her mother's vicious cycle of abuse and abandonment while living at her grandmother's house amidst her mother's drug addicted siblings.
            Feeling unloved and more than ever like a burden, Nikki seeks to find a missing piece to the puzzle of her life - her father.  Along the way, she unravels more layers of family abuse and pain causing her to feel helpless.  But she won't give up.  Not yet.  Not Nikki.  Not until she finds what she is looking for.
            Will Nikki feel the love she so desperately needs?


About the author:
After enduring years of childhood abuse and struggling with depression and PTSD, Christy Lynn Abram embarked on a journey to self-healing using holistic wellness as her guide.
            Now, as a Wholistic Muse (guide to one's self) and author, she teaches others how to love themselves healthy.  Christy is trained in eight healing modalities, including: Reiki, EFT, reflexology, massage therapy, and a crystal healer, all of which aided in her discovery of how to heal herself naturally.  These life-changing skills also served as the foundation to enhancing her gift as an intuitive healer.
            She has been recognized for her knowledge of the chakra system (by best-selling author of the Chakra Bible, Patricia Mercier), gemstone healing, and energy medicine.  She also contributes to several online publications on the subject of holistic healing and offers individual coaching, e-courses, and workshops all designed to assist and encourage others on their journey toward a better, fuller life.  Christy also loves to use her gift of writing to help others.  In her book, Chakra Wellness: 7 Ways to Renew the Total, she dives into the seven chakra centers from a mind-body-soul perspective.  Readers learn how to discern key issues, heal imbalances, and maintain energetic barriers to eliminate stress and increase their overall well-being.
            In her latest release, Little Miss Somebody, Christy wears her heart on her sleeve and delivers a poignant tale of love and sacrifice.  To learn more about Christy and her mission, visit her website.
            Christy can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
            You can read her latest interview via Indie Book Promo here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hyde 'N' Seek Editing Does Black Friday


Every year, around this time, I sit down to think about what has happened in my life over the past year - what needs to be changed, what needs to be added, and what I am most thankful for. 
            Like so many others in this world, the new year brings for me resolutions and goals, not just in my personal life, but in my business life as well.
            This year a lot of changes were made - hard decisions and choices, but all necessary - and I found out, in my darkest times, that I can succeed, and that I can make my life better.  The end of this year has begun a new life for me, and my look at my future is different than it has been in a very long time.

Two of my biggest things that I want to work towards in 2016 are:

1) Making The Gal in the Blue Mask a "household name."  Maybe not to that extreme, but I would like to get out there a little bit more, and build it beyond just more book reviews.
            I want to create more relationships with authors that I haven't met yet, and build my relationships with authors that I know.  I want to do a lot more interviews, and showcase several more short stories (like I did for Halloween this year).  I have big plans and you'll be hearing more about those after the beginning of the year.

2) Grow Hyde 'N' Seek Editing.  This year has been a good year for my editing business, and I've had the pleasure of working with several authors and to be part of some great projects.  I really would like to add some more authors to my client list, and for a very selfish reason: I enjoy doing it and editing brings me a happiness that I can't even explain in words.
            This is how I think about the whole thing: I want to be part of the team that helps make your book the best it can be.  I want to help you organize your thoughts, tell your story, and share it with your readers, all while helping you to keep your voice.  Whether I come in at the end, after you've edited it several times and only need to get a second opinion, or come in at the beginning, either while you're writing your story or right after, my job is the same.  And I do it because I love doing it, and because I want to help authors.  I have a natural eye for it, and have been told several times that I catch things others miss.  I go above and beyond because that's how I believe we should be in life.

I've been putting a lot of thought into this and, as a way of celebrating the end of 2015 - as a way to say thank you to all the authors who have believed in me, and an encouragement for everyone holding on to a manuscript to accomplish their GOALS and their DREAMS - I am giving 15% off of every editing project until midnight New Year's Eve.

"Darn, but I don't have my manuscript completed yet.  Shucks!  What am I going to do?"

Good question.  The editing project does not have to be completed by that date.  Heck, it doesn't even have to be started by that date.  What needs to be completed is the contract signing and payment.  So... even if your book isn't going to be ready for me until February or after, you can get all of this taken care of before the end of the year, get the project completion dates you are looking for, get your 15% discount, AND be able to use it on your taxes in April.

I mentioned earlier the things I am thankful for.  Hyde 'N' Seek Editing is one of those things.  Since this is the month of Thanksgiving, a time when we were are supposed to remember and celebrate those things, I decided to do a "Black Friday Sale" of my own.

From NOW until midnight THANKSGIVING, instead of charging $0.009 a word, I will be charging $0.006 a word.  Think about it like this:  Your manuscript is 100,000 words.  When you bring this to me, it would cost you $900 (which is actually quite good).  BUT - until midnight Thanksgiving Day, that 100,000 manuscript edit will be $600.  That's a savings of $300!!

Send me an email or contact me on Facebook (Hyde 'N' Seek's FB Page) and we can discuss your project further.

Remember:
15% off all editing projects until the end of 2015
or, for those of y'all that want to save a bunch of money,
$0.006 a word until midnight Thanksgiving Day!

AMONG THE STACKS: Werner Stejskal


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Werner.  Welcome to The Gal.  I really appreciate you joining us here today.  I've had the pleasure of reading several of your children's stories and it's nice to be able to learn more about the man behind the books.
            Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Werner Stejskal:
Born in Vienna, Austria, I am now living in the paradise of Perth, Australia with my wife, two married children and three grandchildren.  I worked in the printing industry for many years and later for the United Nations in Vienna.  Now retired, after a full and eventful life, I began to write children's stories.  I found illustrators through Upwork, narrated them myself for YouTube, and finally took the next step by publishing ebooks. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things that most people don't know about you?

Werner Stejskal:
I can't even tell you one thing.  As a story teller, I tell everybody everything about myself, too!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Werner Stejskal:
Absolutely no idea.  I started reading in first class and never stopped.  I finished all books in the library for my age within one year.  I have read over 5,000 books by now and stopped counting a long time ago.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Werner Stejskal:
I am a third way through the mammoth task of reading Nora Roberts.  She is the most amazing author around.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Werner Stejskal:
Our daughter has a black cat.  I like cats.  This must have been an influence to the inspiration I was given one sleepless night after a West to East flight from Europe three years ago.  I suddenly had the idea of Oliver & Jumpy laid out before me and began writing the next morning.  I wrote 60 stories within two months.  The illustrations of all the stories will finalize this year.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Werner Stejskal:
I do everything with my iPad.  It used to be on my lap until I was made aware of the health issues.  Now I try to keep it as far away as possible.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Werner Stejskal:
Using the iPad, my typing skills reduced to one finger.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Werner Stejskal:
As mentioned before, the initial idea was given to me in a sleepless night.  Most of my story ideas came to me while swimming leisurely in the public pool.  I simply let my thoughts wander and grabbed hold of interesting story concepts.  It was helpful to go through all the common children's book scenarios as well.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Werner Stejskal:
Walt Disney for my series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What inspires you the most?

Werner Stejskal:
Silliness, not without reason, is the country in my series called Sillandia. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Werner Stejskal:
English.  It is not my mother tongue.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Werner Stejskal:
Anything with a good laugh and stories kids can relate to and learn a lesson from.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take way from your story.

Werner Stejskal:
The elaborate illustrations would already interest very small children with their mom explaining the stories.  Early readers would benefit from the unusual language for picture books, while many adults like the quality of this sometimes controversial series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Werner Stejskal:
Oliver, of course!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Werner Stejskal:
I like children's stories.  I am simply not good enough to write novels.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating this book?

Werner Stejskal:
I have learned such a lot about the whole ebook industry.  I am not only writing, but also producing the series.  In this way I have become familiar with employing illustrators, editors, reviewers, etc.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Werner Stejskal:
I started with the intention to create something very different to the usual kiddy books.  Oliver & Jumpy was high quality illustrations unlike so many picture books today.  I am using adult language, because I believe kids should not waste their time with being talked down to in little people lingo.  I also believe we underestimate small children.  Adult issues are readily understood if explained properly.  Some of the issues in my stories can be controversial, but most reviewers are fully supportive.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Werner Stejskal:
I don't hide anything away, but certainly have projects for the distant future.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Werner Stejskal:
The future will bring print-on-demand for all books.  And the final goal will be to develop a TV series of the 20 books and 60 stories.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by today, Werner. :)
            One more thing before you go: Where can we find you?

Werner Stejskal:
You can find a free introduction booklet
and also a free full-size book on Amazon.


About the author:
Born in Vienna, Austria, I am now living in the paradise of Perth, Australia with my wife, two married children and three grandchildren.  I worked many years in the printing industry and later for the United Nations in Vienna.  My wife had been a pen-friend, whom I visited in Hong Kong and finally got married to.  After an eventful life, finally retired, I began to write children's stories, had them illustrated through Odesk, narrated them myself for YouTube and finally published the ebooks on most platforms.  I will publish 17 books with three stories each in English, before translating into several other languages.  My dream is to see "Oliver & Jumpy" animated as a TV series.

About the books:

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

1: Molly the Mole - Oliver has an accident and makes a friend.
2: Saving Ducky - Jumpy saves a duckling from the eagle.
3: Jumpy's Secret - Oliver gets a big surprise.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

4: Monkey Island - Joey is being kidnapped.
5: Fairy Castle - The fairy queen invites our friends.
6: Treasure Hunt - A secret treasure map is inviting to a memorable hike.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

7: Winterland - Fun in the snow...
8: Baby Oliver - Yes, Oliver has been a baby, too!
9: Egging - Watch what hatches from a big egg.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

10: Unhappy Dog - The friends make a dog very happy.
11: Kite High - Do you like to fly high in the air?
12: Butterfly Trouble - Jumpy frees many butterflies.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

13: Baby Sitting - Oliver has problems with babysitting.
14: Good Deed Day - Oliver helps a fellow cat to become happy again.
15: Magic - Our team is getting magic lessons.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

16: Who Am I? - Oliver loses his memory.
17: Up the Tree - Oliver explores a tall tree and meets many animals there.
18: Moon Crystal - Oliver and Jumpy are flying to the moon.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

19: Santa's Chocolate Factory - Naughty Joey is getting into mischief. 
20: Thriller - One of Oliver's friends is taking part in a singing contest.
21: April Volcano - April Fools' Day can be no joke.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

22: The Incredible Train Journey - The three friends are having a very adventurous train journey.
23: Hiccup - Do you ever suffer of hiccups?
24: Fishing - Oliver goes fishing with Joey.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

25: Olly the Owl - Olly is a very wise owl and helps Oliver to find his lost ring.
26: Desert Travel - Oliver's sister has new kittens, and he has to travel through the desert to see her.
27: Ghosts at Halloween - Oliver plays cards with ghosts.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

28: Letter in a Bottle - Joey wants to free a prisoner.
29: Oliver Meeting Jumpy - This is how Oliver first met Jumpy!
30: Enchanted Forest - Oliver and friends are fighting the witch.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

31: Crockery Party - Crockery and Cutlery cooks for Oliver.
32: Shark Frenzy - Oliver is almost getting eaten by a shark.
33: Small World - How fascinating can be the tiny world.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

34: How I Found My Top Hat - Oliver did not always have a top hat!
35: Oliver in the Circus - Oliver performs in the Circus.
36: Ship Wreck - Oliver and Jumpy are diving to a wreck.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

37: Rescue in a Picture - What a way to travel!  Check this out!
38: Wet Cat - Oliver has a wet accident.
39: Down River - Dangerous boating on a wild river!