Friday, August 27, 2010

Monica M. Brinkman author of The Turn of the Karmic Wheel

This week's interview is of Monica M. Brinkman, the author of a story with mystical twists that give its characters exactly what they deserve. That is, of course, what Karma is. In The Turn of the Karmic Wheel people turn into skunks or werewolves if that is what they deserve. Or they suffer countless other fates. It is a fascinating concept and here is a little bit about the writer who came up with it.

INSIDE THE HEAD of Monica M. Brinkman, Author of The Turn of the Karmic Wheel

Are you a cat or a dog person?
Definitely, a cat person. From my earliest memory, I was able to tame the proverbial ferret cat without getting my eyes scratched out of my face. In fact, most who know me call me the “Cat Whisperer’.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
Caught me off guard with this one as my latest book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, is a mixed genre containing suspense, spirituality, horror and the paranormal with a touch of romance. In this instance, I suppose I didn’t quite balance them but included them.

How long have you been writing?
Ever since I learned the English language. Even as a small child I wrote poetry and songs. Believe it was a way to deal with my extreme shyness and family situation. We had a very dysfunctional family.

How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
The Turn of the Karmic Wheel embodies 100% of my spirituality as well as allowing me the freedom to express, in written form, my path to justifying an unjust world. Without giving the plot away, let’s just say that you had better re-think the acts, deeds and choices you’ve selected in your life.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
As you will find in all my books and writings, my goal is to open the readers’ mind to seek other possibilities and choices in life. I am a bit of a rebel when it comes to writing. Tell me I can’t write about it, write it in that format, or include certain types of characters and you better bet that is exactly what I am going to do. To me, it is insulting to the intelligence of the readers of the world to put them in some sort of ‘readers’ box’.

What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them influenced your writing, share an example.
You chose the right person for this question. I think I’ve held more jobs and variety of types of jobs than most people I have met.
A few of them have been a Singing Telegram, Radio Commercial Voices, Claims Adjuster, Operations Manager, Theatre Producer/Director and even a Window Washer. The list goes on but it would bore you to death.
How I look at jobs is that whatever job you do, do it well and of course we learn much from each position we hold. In holding a diversity of positions, I ultimately came to see that life is not fair, nor perhaps was it meant to be so. One thing for certain is that life is hilarious.
Take the Singing Telegram, for example, it more than impacted my writing, it allowed me to actually write and be free of the fear of failure or looking the fool. I found out that looking the fool is what allows you to go after your passions and conquer fear of any endeavor you wish to accomplish.
After experiencing such things as knocking on a customers door and having a stark naked
bi-sexual male with a smile spread across his face open the door...hey, you can’t write that material, it has to come from real life.
My philosophy is-Laugh at me all you want, just buy my books and enjoy them.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
What process? Only joking but I must say that I honestly just sit down and write. I’ve heard of other authors structuring their story, selecting the characters and actually having an outline before they begin the writing. That’s not me. It flows from my mind into the fingers and I just type, type, type. So, I must pick intuition on this question. My dreams bring forth fantastic stories. I hear people say that their dreams don’t make sense yet my dreams are so adventurous I could make movies out of them. Sometimes they are so real, I must remind myself it is just a dream.

What projects are you working on at the present?
That’s an easy question as I am writing the sequel to my latest novel called ‘The Wheels Final Turn’. Believe it will surprise many due to the content. I’m not giving any secrets away just yet, let’s merely say it will be full of surprises.

What's your favorite art form (excluding writing)? Why?
Painting in the oil medium is my favorite, though I do use acrylic or water-based oils on occasion. What intrigues me about painting is the process itself. You start with what looks like dark blobs of color and by adding lights and darks; you bring the blobs to life in the form of beauty. It as if you are creating life itself, from nothing.

What trash item did you see that inspired you to write a story?
A piece of glass that broke in such a way it held prisms. Such a simple piece turned into an object of beauty. It became a spiritual object at that moment.
I used it to write a wonderful bit of poetry and at that instant I decided I would always include a bit of poetry within each of my books.
I can’t get the poet out of my blood, as you will see in my novel. Each section has a bit of poetry before the first chapter.


Monica M. Brinkman, is a freelance fiction writer and poet.
Born and raised in the Philadelphia, PA area, she relocated to San Jose, CA, where she co-wrote and appeared in a small musical, How Lucky Can You Get. All proceeds were donated to The Muscular Dystrophy Association. She is a lover of all arts, owned a community theatre and has performed as a singer, actress, and voice of various radio commercials, along with dabbling in oil and acrylic painting.
She now resides in the St. Louis, Missouri area, which inspired her current fiction novel, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel.
In June of 2009, she released, Into the Tunnel of Darkness, a short poetry/prose book. It has received five-star reviews and was a featured book selection for the month of February 2010 on the Manic Readers site. You may find this book on-line at Barnes & Noble. She is a current member of The Writers Center and, along with various other authors related groups and donates much time to reviewing new books for various Writers sites.

Please visit her web-site or contact her at

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Michelle Kaye Malsbury author of The Swindler

This is another interviews with a writer who has published a book with All Things That Matter Press. Michelle Malsbury sounds like an interesting woman. Her book, The Swindler is in the right place at the right time. It's about a ponzi scheme and the unscrupulous people who run it. What could be more appropriate than a well written financial thriller. Here's what Michelle has to say about herself and her writing.

Are you a cat or a dog person?
I have always been an animal person. I love all animals. Ever since I can remember I was drawn to animals especially the strays that had no love or warm place to sleep. (I grew up in IL and the winters there are brutal) I love the spirit of animals. The unconditional love they provide for their favorite humans is second to none. My dog and cat are part of me and intertwined in my genetic make-up. They are part of what makes me tick. I don’t have children so they are not only my pets, but for all intents and purposes my children too. I could never favor one over the other.

What do you like about writing?
Writing is the greatest form of self expression I can reach. It allows me to connect with my inner self and explain that to the world, hopefully in terms they can understand and identify with. If I do not write I feel like something huge is missing from my life.

How do you reach your muse?
My muse, this is a toughie. I have topics and ideas that resonate with me and serve as a guide to some of the things I write about, especially those that inspire action or passion on behalf of the reader. I love the environment, politics, animals, education, business, and peace. These serve as templates for much of my non-fiction writing as I am passionate about them and hope to pass that passion on to others. For fiction I look every where and at all of the people and scenarios I come into contact with as potential muses. I have a very active imagination and I think that helps too!

Do you listen to music while you write, or do you require total and utter silence?
When I write seriously I require silence or only instrumentals. I want to only hear my words because I want to accurately describe actions and characters in my head while translating them to the keyboard. At those times music with words can be a distraction to me. Instrumentals however do not add words to my already wordy brain and can sometimes serve to spur me on in my writing, especially if the music is something I really really like. I am partial to piano solos of a classical or modern nature. I also love Latin music for its beat. There are other instruments like the pan flute, sax, or sitar that can be so primal that I am inspired to write and write and write.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
I try to begin my books based on something I am familiar with and then move into unfamiliar territory that requires some additional research in order to get the story right. I love learning new things and research helps to keep my mind engaged in things I have not previously been familiar with or participated in. For instance, in the end of The Swindler there is a lengthy courtroom drama that is played out very publicly. I am not schooled in legalese and have not spent time in an actual courtroom. Therefore, I had to do some serious homework in order to get the pace and semantics and entire court stuff to read like I knew what I was talking about. I reviewed many documents from previous trials, especially those from the Bernie Madoff trial as those most closely mirrored my books theme and character dilemma. I hope it was at least close!

What inspires you?
Life inspires me! I love reading and reviewing books. I love research and watching the political news on television. Topics that are fresh and timely are an inspiration to me to write about because they resonate with today. For my websites I write a lot about politics or government, occasionally entertainers or sports personalities. Health care was an important issue for the people of America and those watching us around the world. Therefore, I championed why it should pass and concentrated on the benefits that would be derived from passage. This was a topic that was near and dear to my heart. I was glad to see it finally come to pass. Human and animal rights violations tick me off and I’ve tried to include them in my articles for American Chronicle. Education and illiteracy are two topics that I cannot say enough about. My list of inspirations goes on and on, but these topics can give you a glimpse into what makes me tick.

What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
I’ve been a bartender, stewardess (flight attendant), realtor, commodities broker, and more. All of those jobs have helped me to write accurately about those positions in my books. They have also shaped who I am now and how I perceive people in those industries at this time.
The Swindler is based on a true story of a place where I actually worked. Much of the story is fictionalized, but the places written about and some scenes actually took place. The man I worked for, who was a smaller version of Bernie Madoff, financially speaking, is now behind bars. I did not know immediately that we were operating illegally or unethically. I worked for this man for nearly five years before I finally quit. I saw the business from the inside out. That was one of the most fun and fast paced jobs that I’ve ever held. I learned a lot working there and that has, in turn, shaped my opinions of what Wall Street gets away with today and what direction we, as a country, need to take to curtail those excesses and greed.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I am accustomed to ebooks from pursuit of many of my educational endeavors. According to many educational facilities this ebook format saves them oodles of money. I think ebooks are easy to download and you can highlight sections and write notes: both good things when you need access to instant recall of a certain topic. I think they are a bit impersonal, but ecologically a big paper saver!
I like the feel of a real book in my hands too! I review books for Bookpleasures and we do not review ebooks at this time. Has that caused us to miss out on some good reads? Maybe. One of my all time favorite things to do is to wander around in book stores. I love looking at the various book covers, seeing who is new in the marketplace, and reading the synopsis’.
I personally hope we never give real books up entirely: how would I stock my shelves in my library?

What do you like to read in your free time?
My entire free time is taken up with reading and writing reviews. I love it! I read a lot of business books because that is my educational background and they keep me abreast of all of the new techniques coming down the pike. I love spy novels, legal thrillers, and murder/mysteries. I like to read about politics and political figures, as well as, policies we have adopted and how they have panned out. I try to mix things up a bit, as far as topics I read, so I am well rounded and more conversant in a variety of topics.

Who's your best/worst critic?
Marvin Wilson, my editor, is my best and worst critic. He was a godsend when I needed some serious polishing for The Swindler. Thank you Deb and Phil for leading me to him! Marvin knows how to get me (and perhaps all writers) to produce work that shines. He took my story, which was a emerald in the rough, and created a sparkling gemstone that I am proud to place my name atop of. He is a master of knowing what things really really needed changing to make the story flow better. I’ve had other people read and suggest things for my books or articles, but Marvin is by far the best! He comes at his criticism from an editorial perspective, but also as an author himself. Over the course of his editing process he becomes intimately involved with the characters, their dialogue, and the story flow of the books he reworks. I’d say Marvin is equal part magician and muse! Thank you Marvin!

Red or pink?
I actually like both colors, but am partial to pink. I always wear some version of pink toenail polish. Jackie Onassis was fond of pink for fingernails and toenails and I admired her quite a bit because she was classic and timeless in her choice of garments, accessories, and jewels.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Absolute Certainty - Rose Connors

Absolute Certainty : A Crime NovelAbsolute Certainty : A Crime Novel by Rose Connors

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We downloaded this book from my local library and burned a CD for a trip we took recently. We were ten hours in the car both ways and this story made the ride seem much shorter.

The book is about Marty Nickerson, an ADA (Assistant District Attorney) in the Cape Cod area. That struck home for me since my son is an ADA in Charlotte, NC. Of course, if he is spending his time tracking down serial murderers he hasn't let his parents know.

One of the things I liked the most about this book was the author's respect for and knowledge about the law. She is constantly letting the reader know about the way the judicial process works in Massachusetts. During one scene her boss pulls her off a case because she doesn't believe Marty will do the best she can to prosecute the case. That was a mistake. Marty knows that for the system to work she has to do her job to the best of her ability even if she has concerns. Later on the judge looks over her notes and it is clear that was what she had planned to do.

The build up of suspense in this novel is handled very well. I was on the edge of my seat at times (not good since I was driving). I also loved trying to figure out how it was going to end. I was wrong, which says something for the unpredictable plot. But I thought there were too many coincidences at the end. That was my one complaint.

I recommend this book, especially the audio version. Bernadette Dunne was the reader. She did a superb job.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Author Interview - Harris Tobias

There will be a number of Author Interviews posted on my site for the next month or so. It's part of a publicity campaign conducted by my publisher, All Things That Matter Press. It also should be interesting to get to know something about the lives of a talented group of writers. I'm starting with Harris Tobias because his book is a fun read and that seems to be in keeping with this project.

Here are Some things That Matter To Author Harris Tobias:

Why should I read your book?

For entertainment. If you’re looking for deep meaning, The Greer Agency probably isn’t for you.

Are you a cat or a dog person?

We have always had both dogs and cats in our home, but if I had to choose, I’d go with dogs.

What do you like about writing?

I enjoy the inner world of my imagination. I often think I am telling myself a story while another part of me is trying its best to get it down on paper. I feel that the story is out there in its pure form by the time it has passed through my mind and fingers it is a poor imitation of what it was.

How do you reach your muse?

Whatever that inner voice is that tells the stories I call it my muse. I love when she is present and talking. Then I could write all day. When she’s absent I turn to other genres, write letters or read. I often sit with a notebook on my lap and let my mind wander. I find writing with a pen freer and easier then trying to force a story on the computer.

What does your muse look like?

I have absolutely no idea, but she has been kind and generous. I expect she is beautiful and voluptuous.

Do you listen to music while you write, or do you require total and utter silence?

Silence always. Music distracts me.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I write in several genres: science fiction, detective/crime, children’s stories, song lyrics. I like to give myself assignments like Let’s see if I can write five little stories involving aliens or ten animal fables. That’s how I wrote my novel The Greer Agency. I assigned myself the task of writing 15 connected stories.

What other books have you written?

The Greer Agency is my second novel. My first A Felony of Birds is available from Amazon.

Anything in the works?

I’m going to collect some of my short stories into two short story collections—one for sci-fi and one for crime fiction. Also I’m collaborating with a couple of illustrators to bring two books of fairy tales to market. I’m also working with a talented composer on a musical called Gumshoe based on the characters in The Greer Agency. This is all very exciting for me personally. I love collaborations.

How long have you been writing?

I have always written but there was never any time to do it seriously. Five years ago I retired and found the time to write every day. I think I’m getting better at it.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

Storytelling is as old as language itself. I am pleased to be a part of so basic a human tradition.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.

Intuition entirely. I rarely know how a story will turn out when I begin. I love it when a story reveals itself to me. It’s a very mystical thing. It’s almost spooky how a small clue or description in the beginning of a story suddenly becomes crucial toward the end. Where did that come from. It’s amazing to me.

Do you count time or words to your daily regimen?

Words. I like to write a thousand words a day.

Who’s your publisher?

I have been extremely fortunate to have been picked up by All Things That Matter Press (ATTMP). Phil and Deb Harris have been a pleasure to work with. They are caring and sympathetic professionals who are willing to give previously unknown and unpublished authors a chance.

How can we find out more about you and your work?

I have a blog and I publish stories on Scribd also you can email me directly at .

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Reawakening Memories

I stepped back in time recently when I took a trip to Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey. It is the place where I spent my summers from the time I was born until I was a young man. Many of the friends I've known for most of my life were there. On a Friday night we got together on a lawn by the lake, grilled food, sang old songs, and reminisced about the time we spent together. It was a wonderful break from my normal routine, but it was also a chance to recharge the many memories I draw on when I am writing.

Memoir writers draw their stories from the lives they have lived, but that is also true for those of us who write fiction. Even a novel like mine, which includes past lives and often focuses on the civil war era, draws most of its content from experience. Of course, the historical events had to be researched, but the research for the way people react in different circumstances came from living through events and watching others do the same. The process is similar to what an actor does when preparing for a role, but a writer does it for all the characters in his work. We all have weaknesses and strengths. Writers need to be able to filter out the ones our characters need.

Although the party by the lake was a great way to stimulate memories it was also a new memory. The friends I saw are wonderful people. It was great to talk to them and hear how they're doing. It was a good reminder that the most important aspect to the lives we live are the people we get to know along the way.