Friday, November 30, 2018

Interview with Author Howard Levine

Howard Levine is the author of one previously published novel, Leaving This Life Behind. He is a retired teacher of special education and English as a second language. Before his first public school teaching position—at a high school in the Bronx, NY—he taught Transcendental Meditation, which he still practices regularly.  Howard now lives in suburban Washington DC, where he hikes, bikes, and writes.  He and his wife volunteer at a soup kitchen and a senior citizens center.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer:  My novel, entitled Last Gasp, fits into the category of “thriller”—if pressed for the type of thriller, I would say “political.”  I selected the title because the event that sets the plot in motion is a mass murder by gassing, a terrorist attack at a rock and roll concert.  The title takes on additional significance near the end of the novel. 

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer:  The novel was inspired by the mendacious and profits-over-people nature of right-wing federal governments during the last several decades in the United States—illustrated most vividly by the Iraq War and basically everything that Trump and the Republicans have done, or attempted to do, since he took office.  The idea for the novel came from a simple thought:  What if the government staged a “terrorist attack” to further its own ends?  The details of the plot fell into place as I went along.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  The hero is Frank Tedeschi, a Vietnam vet who owns a hardware store in Westchester County, north of New York City.  His estranged brother Rob, a detective with the NYPD, is the other main character.  Rob’s daughter dies in the gassing, which the government blames on Islamic Jihadists.  Frank, owing to a chance encounter, is one of the few individuals who doubt the government’s explanation.  He and Rob embark upon a perilous mission to prove the truth.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  My first published novel, Leaving This Life Behind, was published in October 2000 by Creative Arts Book Company.  As with Last Gasp, the main characters are working-class New Yorkers—but the similarities end there.  Leaving This Life Behind is narrated in alternating chapters by a cabdriver and his wife. She dies in the first chapter.  For the rest of the novel, she narrates from a fictional hereafter.  Her husband struggles to raise their young developmentally delayed son on his own.  There is a reunion of sorts at the end—the details of which I can’t divulge without spoiling the ending for anyone who might read the book.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  Currently I’m working on a novel in which a retired couple in Arizona rescue two “undocumented” minors from the desert and attempt to reunite them with their father in Maryland.  In doing so they place themselves in danger, as they are violating newly stringent laws concerning undocumented immigrants and asylum.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer:  I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I started writing in earnest because I wanted to express some ideas regarding life as a whole in a fictional context.  The result was Leaving This Life Behind.  I was hooked on writing thereafter.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer:   Get as much feedback as you can on your work.  It's hard to see material clearly and objectively, especially after you've gone over it repeatedly.  Also, don't expect to make a living as a writer.   Aspire to that, but have a profession via which you can support yourself.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: Last Gasp can be obtained now, at  “Last Gasp by Howard Levine” should be typed in, since there are one or two other books with the same title.

Howard is available for comments and questions.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Interview with Publisher Tanya Eby

Tanya Eby is the owner of Blunder Woman Productions. She is also a USA Today bestselling author and an award-winning narrator of 700 audio books. She has a passion for storytelling and her indie publishing company allows her to create and publish exciting work by new authors. She is deeply committed to giving voice to stories by people who haven’t been heard. You can find out more about Blunder Woman Productions Find out more about Tanya at

Question: What is the title and genre of your book?  Why did you select them?

Answer: WRONG TURN, an anthology of thriller and mystery stories. I wanted to offer a collection of stories in this genre for a few reasons:

1) I love short stories as an art form. They’re the perfect thing to read between novels or when you don’t have a lot of time. Sometimes I read short stories while reading another book as a little break.

2) Why thriller and mystery stories? Because they’re my favorite. I also wanted to hear these stories performed.

Question:   What inspired this book? How did it come about?

Answer:  Really it just came from me thinking of the next project I wanted to produce and then looking at what I wanted as a fan. What did I want to work on? What would be a fun prompt to give writers to explore. Equally, what would be fun for narrators to play with? It all led me to take a…Wrong Turn. That’s so cheesy, but it’s true.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published books?

Answer:  Our other original anthologies (in audiobook and ebook) are Nevertheless We Persisted, Vintage Love Stories, and coming soon…Nevertheless We Persisted: Me Too.

As I mentioned, I love short form writing. Anthologies give me the chance as a publisher to work with a variety of writers and then pair them with terrific narrators. I plan on offering more collections in the future. I’m thinking I’d like a collection of humor, one of horror, and one of erotica short stories. Something for every mood, I guess.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  Right now, we’re working on Nevertheless We Persisted: Me Too. These are powerful poems and essays about people’s direct experience with sexual trauma and/or discrimination. It’s a heavy piece, but I feel it’s also a really important one.

Question:   What made you start publishing?

Answer: I started publishing because I wanted…more. I’m a full-time, professional narrator and I’m also a writer. Over the years, I’ve made a lot of connections with writers and narrators, and it just seemed like I could help get their great material out in the world. Since I had the skills and some extra time, why not? Publishing gives me a creative outlet where I have control over a final product. It’s very satisfying to publish and hopefully help give new writers an outlet for their work…and for many of them, their first taste of being published.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing?

Answer: Keep on writing. Every time you write something, you’re better than the piece before. Train yourself to write every day, on a variety of prompts. Be open to possibilities. Support other writers, and indie publishers. We’re here working for you. J

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your book?


Tanya is available for questions and comments.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Interview With Author Alretha Thomas

My guest today is Alretha Thomas. Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, Alretha soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces. This led to plays outside of the church, including Alretha’s One Woman, Two Lives, starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient, Denise Dowse.The production garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.

In between plays, Alretha’s first novel Daughter Denied was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Representing her books and plays, Alretha has been the guest on many radio shows and television shows including San Francisco Public Affairs show Bay Sunday with Barbara Rodgers on CBS affiliate, KPIX Channel 5. She was also interviewed by Sam Rubin, Entertainment reporter for KTLA in Los Angeles. In 2011, Alretha launched her second novel Dancing Her Dreams Away, and it was also well received. Her third novel, Married in the Nick of Nine spawned a four-book series that was acquired by Soul Mate Publishing in January 2014. In August 2014, Alretha was awarded the Jessie Redmon Fauset Literary Award for her indie novel Four Ladies Only. In 2016, Alretha penned the Detective Rachel Storme Mystery Series: Justice for Jessica, Losing Lauren and A Penny for Her Heart. Additionally, in 2016, Alretha returned to acting and is now writing and acting full time.

Question: What is the title and genre of your latest novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer:  The Women on Retford Drive. It’s a mystery. I chose the title because the novel is female-driven, and the backdrop of the novel is a mansion on Retford Drive. I chose the mystery genre because I love writing mysteries.

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: I write from the inside out. All of my stories form within me. It’s almost like I’m channeling people and situations from other times or dimensions. I know that sounds a little out of the box, but it’s true. A story about a mother and stepdaughter who together fight a common enemy just filled my spirit one day. After I created the characters, the entire story crystalized, and I was able to sit down and create an outline and proceed from there

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:   Julia Pritchard, 40, is someone who would see a homeless man on the street and bring him home, clean him up, and help him get into a program so that he could turn his life around. She’s a beautiful person inside and out. Unfortunately, it was her giving heart that let her see the best in her abusive husband Keith when she met him twelve years ago. So, after six years of marriage when he slapped her in the face with a TV remote and began to abuse her regularly, she was hard-pressed to reconcile the sweet man she had met with the monster he had turned into. Julia’s father was abusive to her mother and her mother stayed in the relationship, so her behavior is somewhat understandable. She had a successful sitcom ten years ago, and she’s vowed to finally leave Keith and make a comeback. She’s determined and tough as nails when she has to be. She’s not perfect. She’ll lie in a minute if she feels it’s justified, and she can be stubborn once she makes up her mind.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  Currently, literary agents are reading what is actually the second standalone novel in my Dancing Hills Mystery Series. The Women on Retford Drive is the first book in the series. If that book gets represented and sold, then it will no longer be a part of the Dancing Hills Mystery series. My next project will most likely be writing a second book for my new publisher. After I’ve fulfilled my contractual obligation, I’ll write a book to follow The Women on Retford Drive. While all that’s going on, I have adapted The Women on Retford Drive to stage. Yep, I’ve written the stage play version. I’m looking for a producer. I’d love to see it go up in June 2019.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: My fifth-grade teacher inspired me to write. She gave the class a short story assignment. I got an idea to write a story about a bag boy in a supermarket who falls in love with a young customer. I guess you could say that was my first romance story. The following day our teacher congratulated the entire class on our work. However, she said there was one story that stood out. And that story was mine. I nearly fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it. She read it aloud and the class was riveted. While I was watching the expressions on the faces of my peers, I knew in that moment I wanted to be a writer for life.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: Write what you know and love. Don’t try to write what is trendy and never give up.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer:  My novel is currently available on

Alretha is available for comments and questions.