Friday, July 29, 2011

Read book interview with Starr Reina by Linda Barnett-Johnson

Book Interview with Starr Reina

1) Please tell us about what you like to write? List your websites, what you do and anything else you'd like our readers and writers to know about you. (Please list your accomplishments too).

"I am an award winning author for my short story "Cut" and have penned the Ivanovich Series, in the thriller/crime genre, featuring Pavel Ivanovich. The first is “In the Name of Revenge”, the second, “Deadly Decisions” and I am working on the third as you read this. I enjoy making every character stand out.

Flanking Ivanovich's side in "Deadly Decisions" is Teresa Mancini, who vies with Ivanovich for readers' attention. According to J.M. DeLuc, who was "raised in an Italian family", Teresa "is all your characters". I am also the author of young adult novella "Cruel Whispers" and its sequel novel "Cruel Past".

Additionally, I am an executive editor for Suspense Magazine. I have been interviewed in the newspaper and on the radio with relation to my fiction work and have been a co-host on Suspense Radio.

I have won three Best Speaker awards as well as Best Evaluator at the Voice Ambassadors chapter of Toastmasters. I am a member of Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter and nationally.

I have a free quarterly newsletter called "WhoDunIt" that has many benefits for not only authors but readers as well and can be subscribed to at:

2) You are a very accomplished author. Which accomplishment are you most proud of? Can you tell us about your writing schedule? When do you write?

I can't choose one accomplishment over the other that I'm proud of. Each time I pen a good story, short or novel-length, that readers enjoy, is an accomplishment. As to my writing schedule, truthfully, I do so when I get the time. Since I work a full time job, it's generally done in the evenings and on weekends. However, once in a while, I take a 'sanity saver' long weekend somewhere alone. I usually spend that time writing, uninterrupted.

3) I see you like to writer thriller/crime novels. What started the path in that direction? When did you start writing?

When I was around thirteen years old, I began reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys mystery series. They enthralled me enough to make me think I could write something like that. And so I tried. I wrote about four chapters of which I was very proud. I offered up my prose to my father, the biggest fan of reading in our family. He sat down and read every word then proceeded to give me a half hour lecture on plagiarism. I was crushed because they were my words and being at a very influential age, it dashed my hopes of ever writing, so I stopped. I didn't put pen to paper again until I was an adult. Ironically, the first in my young adult series, "Cruel Whispers" was released on Father's Day. How fitting.

4) Well, I am glad that you didn’t stop writing. Our families can either be our biggest fans, or our biggest critics. We should encourage, not discourage. Can you tell us a bit about your novel, Cruel Whispers?

Absolutely, we should only encourage in that respect. "Cruel Whispers" and "Cruel Past" are young adult books. I've since changed gears to more older readers. "In the Name of Revenge" is the first in my Ivanovich series, followed by "Deadly Decisions" and coming soon, "One Major Mistake." Although the latter is a working title since it’s unpublished and subject to change. This new thriller series is abound with crime and action.

5) Do you usually have more than one story going at a time? If so, how do you manage your time?

Actually, yes. At present, I have two different series I'm working on. I can't say that I divide my day up in equal parts. I write in the manuscript that 'talks' to me the most at the moment.

6) Is there a message in your novel(s) that you’d like our readers to grasp?

No particular message in my novels themselves, but I do have one. Well, it's more of an inspirational theory. When children are young and at impressionable ages, never should a parent discourage their ideals or thwart their aspirations. You never know where they may lead.

7) Do you use characters of people that you know? How do you develop your characters?

My characters are a mix of fictional composition. They don't come from one person I know, but a menagerie. They may have traits derived from some I've met, but they are their own 'persons'.

8) What do you find challenging in your writing?

The most challenging thing I face really is time. Because I work full time, it's not always easy to carve out a section of my day, but when I do, it's not necessarily when my creative juices are flowing. To help with that, I try and write something everyday. It doesn't matter what it is, just anything.

9) Every writer uses a different method of formatting. Do you use an outline? Do you come up with a title first, and then a storyline? I have actually started writing, not knowing where I was going. Do you know the start and the ending before you write?

Those are very loaded questions! I'll try and address each. I don't per se, use an outline. I get an idea and begin putting it on paper. As the story progresses, I find mapping out what is happening in each chapter aids with what I want to happen next. I don't think about titles. They are secondary to any story. The main reason for a good title is to appeal to the reader and of course, it must have something to do with the context of your story. The alpha and omega...the beginning and the end... So many, many times I've began chapter one only to go back and change it completely. As a matter of fact, that is just what happened in "One Major Mistake", a third in the Ivanovich series I'm currently writing. As to the ending, toward the first third or so of the book, I begin forming an ending in my mind. Unfortunately, that ending typically ends up changing by the time I actually get there.

10) Do you have any last words for us?

Writing is my passion. It's not a hobby and unfortunately, I haven't been able to call it a career yet. But no matter, writing for me is in my soul. I have to tell stories. There are millions of ideas in my mind screaming to get onto paper. Some make it, some don't. Regardless, I can't stop creating yarns for readers to enjoy. If anyone wishes to contact me, please feel free to email me at You can visit my website at as well. There, you can sign up for my free e-newsletter WhoDunIt that keeps everyone updated on what I'm doing as well as what other authors are doing. Thank you for your time and for this interview.

Starr, than you for taking the time to do the interview. I know our readers and writers will learn much from you. Go out and buy her books, you'll be glad you did.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Want to know more about Linda Barnett-Johnson, Editor and Virtual Assistant? Read interview by C.K. Volnek:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Read interview with C.K. Volnek - children, middle and youth author -

Interview With C.K. Volnek

Please tell us about you, your books, and list any websites you have and any information you'd like to share with our readers and writers.

Hi Linda,

Thanks for this gracious offer to tell you a little about me and my books. My name is C.K. Volnek and I write for children, middle grade and young adult. I love the curious minds and passion with which our youth live by, so open and ready to embrace to the possibilities of today. My goal in life is to never truly grow up where I lose that wonder. I live in the wide open state of Nebraska. A recent visitor commented that she thought she could see five states from here. Maybe not quite. But I do love the openness and space. Spring is my absolute favorite time of the year as I look out over the big blue sky and rolling hills of green dotted with baby calves.

My first novel, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, is a tween mystery/adventure/ghost story coupled with Native American folklore and the history and mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

Evil haunts Roanoke Island and it’s up to young Jack Dahlgren to destroy it, before it destroys him.
In 1587, 117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Island without a trace, leaving behind not only unanswered questions, but a terrifying evil.

Now it’s up to twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family from the hateful beast that haunts the island.

With the help of newfound friend, Manny, a Native American sage, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack must piece together the clues of the Lost Colony to discover what this evil is and where it came from. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, Jack must uncover why the evil haunts his island, but can he destroy it ... before it destroys him?

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, by C.K. Volnek, is due to be released September, 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing


My second novel, A Horse Called Trouble, is a tween horse story. Having grown up with horses, I have been lucky to experience first-hand the love and trust a horse can give, and can pull from you in return. After visiting a troubled youth horse therapy program, this novel was born. It a story where the reader can empathize with the misfortunates of thirteen year-old Tara and root for her and a horse called Trouble.

A Horse Called Trouble

A troubled tween must overcome her abusive past to save the defiant horse that has taught her to love and trust again.

Tara Cummings hasn’t had an easy life. Abandoned by her mother at the young age of seven she’s been passed from foster home to foster home; not wanted anywhere by anyone. At thirteen she finds herself skeptic and suspicious, with no family, no friends, and forced to participate in horse therapy.

Horse therapy “will teach trust, perseverance, respect and the value of teamwork,” or so says the program’s instructor. Tara is unconvinced. Trust only got her heart broken, perseverance only gets her put down, and no one respects or wants to team up with the misfit foster kid.

At the therapy horse farm, Tara meets Trouble, an angry and defiant horse, bent on destroying everything and everyone around him. At first she’s afraid of Trouble, until she realizes he’s as misunderstood and untrusting as she is. She pushes aside her fear and a special relationship is formed as she alone manages to calm him, much to the surprise of everyone at the farm. Trouble trusts Tara, and Tara in turn finds hope and acceptance as well as the will to love and trust again herself.

Tara’s self-esteem grows through the therapy program as she begins to work through her shyness and reservations. But her confidence is shaken as an even greater challenge looms ahead. Trouble’s manipulative owner is determined to have him destroyed because of his ‘dangerous’ nature. Tara must overcome her own limitations and fight to save the horse that has freed her heart and given her life value and meaning.

A Horse Called Trouble will be published in December, 2011 by MuseItUp Publishing.

Visitors can find me at:
Website: Blog:
e-mail: twitter: CKVolnek

2) I see you like to write for the young adult and children. What do you find most challenging about writing for that age group? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

I do love writing for children. They are fun and so full of life. My own children are the apple of my eye. My middle son hates to read and I took it as a challenge to create stories children would be interested in and want to read. And if they learn something along the way, whether it’s history, something about themselves, or something to make their world a little better, then that’s a bonus.

3) As a lover of history, what kind of research do you do for weaving history and folklore into your books?
My story Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island is based on the history of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. It is such a mystery. What did happen to the 117 colonists? Did they die in a storm, or at the hand of others? Did they move inland and join the Native American tribes? Will we ever know?

I did quite a bit of research when I was writing my story, complete with uncovering the manifest of the actual colonists and using some of their names in my story to keep it as authentic as I could. My reader will get to understand a little of what life might have been like back then. They will get to know the characters, good and bad and hopefully take some lessons away to make the world a better place. I also added a mythical monster from Native American folklore.

4) Do you usually have more than one story going at a time? If so, how do you manage your time?
My muse is a pesky creature. I have three works-in-progress going at the moment, plus several more pleading in the back of my mind to be able to come out. I never have trouble finding something to write, it’s more, which story am I going to write today?

5) How do you develop your characters? Do you use people that you know?

I do tend to use many elements of people I know…good and bad. I draw from all experiences in my life, remembering those people that have had the most affect on me…good and bad.

6) Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Most of the experiences in my book are purely fictional, but many elements are from personal experiences. Life can throw some pretty crazy curves. Happy memories, sad memories all blend into the patchwork quilt of our life.

7) Did you learn anything from writing your books? If so, what are they?
I did learn a lot about the history of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island when I wrote this book. The mystery still baffles me and I find myself both angry and proud of this venture. I am proud of the colonists for their bravery to come to a new world to try and make a new life. But I am angry at Sir Richard Grenville for burning an entire Native American village just because he thought a native stole a silver cup. It was because of this I wove the lessons of tolerance and forgiveness into the story of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.

8) How do you manage your time?

Time is a brutal creature. I still have a day job and will continue to keep it until my writing provides for me, which I hope to be sooner than later. J Even though my children are older and mostly out on their own, there are still many things that take demand of my time. Family, friends, church, hobbies…but I always try to keep my evening for my writing. I kick my feet up in my comfy big chair and have at least two to three of my puppies laying on the chair or ottoman with me and write into the wee hours of the night.

9) Do you have a set format for writing? Do you use an outline? Do you know the beginning to the ending before you sit down to write? I have written short stories where I didn’t know how it was going to end. Has that happened to you?
Most of the time when I start a book I have the basic idea of the story complete from beginning to end. But I dare not plot the whole thing out because my muse will ultimately change it. I have a basic outline, write and research along, making tons of notes for my muse to take into future chapters. There are usually many twists and turns I never expected when I first sat down to write the book.

10) Do you have any last words for our readers and authors? What would to tell a beginning writer?
I would tell a beginning writer over and over again, to always believe in themselves and never give up. Everyone has a story to tell and it won’t get told if you don’t tell it. And it just may be the story to save someone’s life in one way or another.

It has been my pleasure interviewing C.K. Volnek, and hope to continue to be friends long after this interview. Order her books today and let me know what you think. Charlotte, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule, to do this interview. It was really an honor.
Ignite the Genius Within by Dr. Ranck - See my blog and sign-up for future reviews:

Ignite the Genius Within by Dr. Christine Ranck and Christopher Lee Nutter


Jump start hope,

kick your creativity into gear,

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of what's possible.

Using a revolutionary system based on the latest in brain science and technology,

this utterly unique book/soundtrack combo will help you uncover and then

release the deeply-held, secret blocks and beliefs

that stop you from getting what you want in life.

Ignite the Genius Within combines adaptations of two new and powerful therapy treatments--EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and BrainspottingTM.

Dr. Ranck, a psychotherapist in NYC, who, along with her traditional practice, specializes in creativity and performance enhancement. She witnessed many astonishing and "impossible" while using these fast and effective mind/body techniques and wanted to provide the experience and results in a book for the general public.

Your genius brain and system already have all the answers you need inside you--
you just haven't had easy access to them...until now.

Ignite the Genius Within is a different kind of book altogether.
It's a book that works from the inside out.

It is mostly a doing book rather than a reading book that works on two levels:
•Powerful color images and artwork, accompanied by penetrating questions guide you to deep-brain processing. A picture paints a thousand words. Pictures are a short-cut into you.

•A BILATERAL SOUNDTRACK with music and nature sounds that oscillate back and forth (instead of stereo), stimulates both sides of the brain, distracting the thinking brain, and giving access to dream processing--which usually happens while we're sleeping. Proven to enhance creativity, this soundtrack allows you to travel through space and time--and sometimes to take a trip into yourself unlike anything you've experienced before.

By forcing the brain to process information differently, we can begin to see and experience events and ideas differently. A new perspective can potentially change everything.

Ignite's powerful elements uncover and deliver the answers --the answers that are already there--in order to make change happen within the deepest part of you.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Gypsy in New York by Juliette de Bairacli Levy,

It is at once an herbal, a travel book and a compendium of Gypsy lore and Gypsy ways.

Juliette gives us river winds, strange characters in the streets by day, rats scurrying by at night, and legions of cockroaches in the apartments, against whose window the blossoms of apple and pear trees toss, even in the great city’s cement heart. Order your copy of A Gypsy in New York
Juliette de Bairacli Levy (1911-2009) is honored as the grandmother of modern American herbalism. She has devoted her life to the health and well being of domesticated animals, especially dogs. Her herbals and memoirs have been in print, and in use, for over fifty years.