My Guest K.N. Smith Author of The Urban Boys

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K.N. Smith Author Guest Post

Like authors of any other genre, YA fiction writers can learn many new things if they’re open to the process. One of the keys to a successful book for a young audience is character believability. This is much easier said than done. Imagine spending multitudes of hours crafting a personality out of thin air. What we do is wholly visualize the character, dissecting every single detail about him or her, with the remaining time spent articulating that to the reader. It’s part of the craft that needs a lot of attention, even being worthy of visually sketching-out or pre-determining the characters’ events from chapter to chapter, just to stay on track. Something not to be forgotten is the emotion and passion each character will need in order to bring the story to life.

For me, the reason this post is focused on character development relates to recent reviews I have received, and second, the enjoyable experience I recently had watching the movie Goosebumps starring Jack Black about the adventures of Author R.L. Stine. While reviewing some of my recent reviews, I was encouraged to reflect more deeply on character development in preparation for the next book in the series.

I felt transported to another world just by experiencing the lives of these incredible characters who are so true to life and authentic-feeling, yet unlike any I’ve met before.

When I saw the movie Goosebumps, I was immediately attracted to the excellent character development happening within the scenes. The fear, the excitement, the emotion in those characters was quite brilliant! You could see and feel what they were going through in a very real way. In particular, the “Chump” character was great! He really displayed quite a number of emotions, and was extremely believable.

I love this aspect of writing, and I implore you to dig deep when it comes to developing your own characters. They need to come to life. You should give yourself enough time to really study them, grow them, relate the dialogue to their distinct personalities, and make them believable and real. And trust me, characters have flaws. They have ups and downs, and strength and weaknesses just like you and I. Therefore, if you think about yourself and your own experiences, and those of the people around you, you will have all the backstory you need to create a memorable, lasting, and exciting narrative for your next project. Thank you for allowing me to share with you today, I hope you enjoy the excitement of The Urban Boys!



K.N. Smith is an American author and passionate advocate of childhood and family literacy programs throughout the world. She continues to inspire students of all ages to reach their highest potential in their literary and educational pursuits.

An established non-fiction writer, Smith chose the teen fiction genre as a way to enhance her daughters’ (then) high school literary experience, and to engage other youth in literacy development. Her creative literary flair sweeps across pages that twist, turn, and grind through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narratives.

As an ardent supporter of youth and family literacy programs across the globe, she states, “My hope is that The Urban Boys will spark imagination in a wide variety of readers while elevating global literacy efforts. It’s important that we have diverse families of readers for generations to come.”


The Urban Boys by K. N. Smith Cover PhotoThe Urban Boys by K. N. Smith Back Cover Photo

  • Series:The Urban Boys (Book 1)
  • Paperback:300 pages
  • Publisher:Two Petals Publishing (September 3, 2015)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0989474755
  • ISBN-13:978-0989474757


The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world. The story chronicles their effortless interrelations and later exposes the testing of their deep bonds. It introduces the reader to an array of supporting characters who alter the boys’ lives forever.

The Urban Boys offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama. The story twists, turns, and grinds through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in a diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narrative! Intriguing, intelligent, and full of action, The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses offers a memorable, emotion-packed, thrilling ride for young and mature readers alike!


Five friends do something considered taboo by the townsfolk and enter the mysterious, forest-like preserve. But something otherworldly awaits them among the trees. Yet just as the five can then sense each other, so, too, can three others sense them, and one of the trio is a killer. Smith’s book blends action and mystery with elements of the paranormal. Additionally, the novel overflows with positive thematic pointers relating to the importance of family, honesty, etc. The presence of these moments of encouragement make her story worth reading.
4-stars – John E. Roper, The U.S. Review of Books

“Author K.N. Smith uses her mastery of the written word to weave an entrancing, yet powerful tale of adventure that keeps you turning pages in an unquenchable desire to find out what happens next. The author’s matchless prose details cinematic fight sequences and fully developed characterizations especially in a final, stupendous scene that will take your breath away and leave you limp with spent emotions. Five stars for this imaginative and inspiring story, sure to be as appealing to general audiences as it will be to the YA crowd!”
5-stars – Don Sloane, Publishers Daily Reviews

“An energetic YA adventure debut with stellar action sequences. Smith’s writing is intelligent and often lyrical. Her exuberant prose never fails to dazzle.”- Kirkus Media

“Read the Prologue and fasten your seat-belts! – The URBAN BOYS: Discovery of the Five Senses is the kind of thrill ride you’d expect from a seasoned action and adventure novelist, not in a first novel by a writer just entering this genre. The URBAN BOYS really grabs you. There’s the beauty of the scenes described, the eerie, mysterious source of the boys’ new power, and the suspense you will feel in every engagement that rivets you to every page. The URBAN BOYS creates a whole new world of emotions, suspense, danger and drama. It’s a great read!” 5-stars – Melvin Tag 


K.N. Smith has over twenty years experience in writing, communications, and creative design. She lives with her family in California.








*Book Tour Media Kit provided by Susan Barton, My Book Tour










Better Not Love Me by Dan Kolbet

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Better Not Love Me by Dan Kolbet Cover Photo


File Size: 2307 KB

Print Length: 240 pages

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publisher: Alfe Publishing; 1 edition (October 26, 2015)

Publication Date: October 26, 2015

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Language: English





Amelia Cook never wanted to be a corporate executive responsible for a toy business that spanned the country. She accepted the job out of obligation to her past love. The work has forced her away from her children and broken her marriage. After years of misery, she’s decided to walk away.

Single, unemployed and uninspired, Amelia rents a palatial lake cabin for the summer and attempts to reconnect with her children who barely recognize the mom they once knew. Amelia’s summer at the lake takes a surprise turn when a handsome man moves into the cabin next door. The only problem? It’s her old boss, Nate. Can Amelia forgive Nate’s past behavior, find love and forge a bond with her children all while being dragged back into the corporate life she loathes?

Better Not Love Me is the sequel to Don’t Wait For Me, but is a standalone novel.


Dan Kolbet Author Photo 1


Dan Kolbet lives in Spokane, Washington with his family. He is an independent author, former newspaper editor and reporter. He is currently working on his next story.

His novels include You Only Get So Much, Don’t Wait For Me, Off The Grid, Better Not Love Me, plus short stories, Five Rows Back and An Easel for Avery.

You might read romance stories to escape the humdrum day-to-day. You root for your protagonist to find the love you have at home, or the love you want to have someday. Unfortunately, we’re not all tennis pros, powerhouse attorneys or lonesome billionaires pining for each other. Most of us are pretty normal people who do normal people things each day. Love happens in the middle of all that. Love stories happen around us every day, we just have to find the patience to see them and take notice.

So when the characters in my novels fall in love, it’s not because they are in a romance novel. It’s because that’s what people in their situation should do. Yes, they might fight it. And they will probably screw it up, but isn’t that what we all do?





*Book Tour Media Kit prepared by Susan Barton, My Book Tour.

An Assiduous Novel by James Faro

I am a member of the Goodreads group Swap Reviews which is a good place for Self and Independently Published books to gather some reviews by other authors.

I selected a novel, The Assiduous Quest by Tobias Hopkins, by James Faro because I like the title. And yes, I had to look up the definition of assiduous! And I must admit, this novel is definitely marked by careful unremitting attention or persistent application!

Let me begin by introducing the author, James Faro.JamesFaro.JPG

James Faro joined the Merchant Navy at the age of sixteen, traveling extensively throughout Brazil, North America and the Caribbean. He has lived in many countries including Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Aden and The Netherlands. Now living in Brighton, on the south coast of England, he has retained his fascination with travel and the sea which is reflected in his writing. He has a Post Graduate degree in History from the University of Sussex.

I contacted him after reading his book and I am delighted that he accepted my invitation for an interview but I’ll get to that later.

First, about his novel!Linen Market, Dominica (detail) by Agostino Brunias.jpg

The Assiduous Quest of Tobias Hopkins

A step back in time to 17th Century Jamaica.

Genre: Historical Drama

Intended Audience: From Young Adults to General Fiction readers

The road curved for a good half-mile before it met the house; a steep valley, rich in wild vegetation, separated Toby from the property. The line of trees leading up to the front porch of the house cast long shadows across the carriageway. To the left and a little further up the slope, there were some more outbuildings which he hadn’t noticed on his first visit. The sun was high enough now to light up the east side of the property and the hill beyond was touched with a thin layer of mist: a scene presenting a magical picture of La Bruma.

And now for the interview:

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The initial idea for this book came to me in a dream. I rarely remember my dreams, but in this instance I imagined I was on a tropical island. I was walking along a track in the hills when I came across a farm hidden in the mist.

I, too, am often inspired by my dreams! Where do you write? 

I live in a one bedroom cabin surroundBedroom window in Winter.JPGed by woods and fields. So, at this time of year (mid-winter), I write in my bedroom: the warmest spot in the place. In the summer I like to get outside as much as possible and sit under the trees (providing the wind doesn’t blow away all my notes)



Bedroom window in Summer.JPG

That is quite a lovely view ! On a scale from Plotter being 1 and Panster (writing by the seat of your pants) being 10, Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Answer = No 1 (Plotter)

I have to admit that I spend a heap of time working on the plot before I start to write. Then, when the story takes off, the characters take over and often lead me in a new direction. It takes a great deal of persuasion to get them back on track and I usually give in and let the story take its own course, often with a better result.

Those characters can be rascals and try to hijack a story! Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I love painting and, as I was writing a novel set in 17th century Jamaica, it led me to seek out works from that time and in that location. I then came across the paintings of the Italian artist, Agostino Brunias, who spent some time in The West Indies and whose work, Linen Market, Dominica, I have used for the cover of the complete novel.

The Assiduous Quest is divided into three parts.

The cover of Book 1 is by the French impressionist, Camille Pissarro, who, for a time, lived in St Thomas in the
Virgin Islands.

Crique avec voilier (detail) by Camille Pissarro.jpg

The Book 2 cover illustration is, again, by Agostino Brunias.

Free Women of Colour with their Children and Servants in a Landscape by Agostino Brunias.jpg

And Book 3 is by Willem van de Velde II whose maritime paintings I’ve always loved.


A ship in need in a raging storm by Willem van de Velde II.jpg

Beautiful paintings and they definitely fit the story. Who is your favorite character from your book and why? 

My favorite character is Beatrice. She has many qualities I admire. She’s bright and perceptive, a survivor who’s tough and determined. She’s also a risk-taker who behaves impulsively and is unpredictable. This makes for an fascinating interaction between Beatrice and Toby. They are, in many ways, opposites. And this, perhaps, is the very reason they connect so well.

I liked her, too! How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

My least favorite character is Groot; a monster, a psychopath who has no feelings for those who he destroys. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I have never believed in the old adage “there’s good in everyone”. If there is any good in Henk de Groot, I certainly haven’t discovered it!

I agree and you found the perfect name for him as well! Speaking of names; how important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Names often give an indication to the class, age, culture and social background of the characters. When writing historical fiction, it’s much the same. The resources I use are from records of ship passenger lists sailing to the colonies and, in the case of the sequel I’m working on now, from soldiers enlisted to fight against the Native Americans in New England.

The protagonist of The Assiduous Quest, Tobias Hopkins, is from a Royalist family in England; as is Elizabeth Thomas. However, the other characters in the story are from different backgrounds. Magdalena, originally an African slave, uses the name given to her at the time when Jamaica was occupied by the Spanish. Beatrice Somerset has a similar background to Magdalena. Here’s how she explains it in the story;

“I was interested in how your family acquired the name Somerset?” Toby said.

“Not me proper name. I get it from friend of Elizabet. He called . . . Erloff Somerset.”

“Oh, Peter Burlington, the Fourth Earl of Somerset.”

“That the one!” The girl’s eyes brightened. “You know he?”

“No, not very well. He is a friend of my uncle. So, what is your family name?”

“de Benitez.”

“Beatrice de Benitez?”

The girl made a face.

“That seems to be fine to me, why change it?”

“Aye, aye, aye. You ask so much questions!”

Thanks for adding that insert from your book. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Write from the heart. Don’t write in a certain genre because you think it’ll be popular or it will sell. Write what you want to write and don’t be swayed by anyone. Choose a subject which inspires you and which you feel passionate about. Take your time and never be in too much of a rush. Plan out your plot and your characters before you start writing. Think about how you want your story to progress and how you want it to end.

Also consider attending a writing course. I hooked up with a writer’s group where we met every week to discuss our work. This might not suit everyone, but it certainly worked for me. I also invested in a week’s course with the Arvon Foundation and met a few other like-minded writers from all over the world. Along with some great tuition, we also got to stay at, Lumb Bank, the beautiful house where poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath once lived.

Very good point! Thanks for sharing that. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I always read my reviews. I don’t usually respond to the reviewer, just accept their point of view. I think it’s a great privilege to have someone read though and comment on my writing.

As regards to advice in dealing with a bad review, I would say don’t lose sleep over it. It’s impossible to please everyone even if that’s your aim.

If the review is constructively critical of my work, I consider this seriously and will usually take on board the suggestions. After all, how can we communicate through writing without the honest opinions of our readers.

If the review is complementary, and the reader has obviously enjoyed the book, it can still bring a tear to my eye.

All very good points! Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

I was an artist in my twenties and, while I was just about able to support myself on the sale of my paintings, music became my first love. Since then, I’ve been a professional musician. Travel is another passion of mine. I’ve lived in a few countries but would still love to see more of the world and explore other cultures. I also enjoy cooking and gardening.

KUDOS for you! I’m an artist as well but I can’t say it EVER a supportive source of income. I’d love to travel Europe. I’ve got a cottage on a lake in Louisiana, maybe we can do a vacation swap!


What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Tell as many other people as you can about the book! I cannot underestimate the power of word of mouth! Reviews are also very important to authors. Even a few lines are appreciated. A mention on a blog, facebook page or twitter is also useful. Anything to get people talking about the book.

Great suggestion and it doesn’t cost them anything! What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a contemporary psychological thriller (under a different author name) which has been an ongoing project for the last few years. I’m also working on the sequel to the Assiduous Quest. This book is set in the same time period (1675) and will take Toby to the Northern Colonies of Virginia, Maryland, New York and Massachusetts – right into the conflict between Native Americans and the settlers of New England. I have the plot worked out and much of the material has already been written. However, as so often happens, the characters will probably take the story in a new direction and lead me into situations I hadn’t previously considered. I’ll just have to see what the outcome is. I hope to get both of these projects completed by the end of this year.

Please let me know when your thriller comes out. That’s probably my favorite genre.

Now for some fun.

Are you a compulsive shopper/hoarder?

I’m not into shopping (unless it’s browsing in bookshops) but I am a hoarder. I have a drawer full of receipts dating back months (no idea why I keep them). Maybe they give me a sense of security! When the Apocalypse comes I’m convinced my boxes full of useless stuff will protect me!

At least you can use the receipts to start a fire. Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?


Ha! Now that question has sent me down memory lane.

On one occasion it happened at a town called Manaus, Brazil, about a thousand miles up the River Amazon.Manaus.jpg

I was eighteen at the time, out on the town with my buddy, Phil. We had both been working in this region for over a year and, although the place was familiar to us, we decided to try out a new bar in the red-light district. By 2.00 am, after a number shots of Bacardi and coke, the other customers had left and it was obvious the bar staff (a rough-edged crew) wanted to pack up and go home. They handed us the tab. But we’d already paid! (or so we thought). Determined to stop us getting away, the staff blocked our way to the only exit. But, Phil, being head-strong, shouldered the door and we all stumbled out into the foul-smelling street. Phil raced down the road, leaving me in the gutter with a knife at my throat. I cursed him. But then, just as I thought my time was up, along came a taxi. The passenger window rolled down and Phil yelled for me to jump in (which I somehow managed to do). But the driver wasn’t in a hurry to leave. He spoke a few words in Portuguese to the bar staff and they all piled in the cab to join us.

Twenty minutes later, at the local jail, we discovered we still had the same amount of cash on us as we did when we arrived at the bar earlier that night. We paid the tab with apologies and hand shakes all round.

That is quite an adventure and sounds like a great encounter for a couple of your future characters. What is your biggest fear?

Just like Winston in George Orwell’s 1984, my biggest fear is being trapped in a room full of rats. I once saw a guy corner some rats in a barn and watched, in horror, as a few of them leaped up at his face. So, I sympathize with Winston when he’s strapped to a chair in room 101; two cages of rats placed on the table in front of him. Ugh!

Thanks for bringing that image to mind! I don’t know how to segue into this so I’ll just jump to it. What do you want your tombstone to say?

“Thank God that’s over!”

Love it! If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

I would choose to be invisible. So, like a fly on the wall, I would have the ability to eavesdrop any conversation in time and space then make use of them in my writing. So good to be able to get inside people’s heads when their guard is dropped. If only H G Wells hadn’t got there before me!

With today’s technology, I don’t think being “visible” is a hindrance. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Provide images if you want.

I would love to visit India. Such a diverse country steeped in tradition and culture. At school I read E.M Forster’s, Passage to India, and was fascinated by the vivid descriptions of the country and it’s people.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many documentaries on India. Where I LOVE the colors and most of the culture, I don’t think I could bear the poverty. If you were any plant or animal, what would you be? Provide imagFudge copyes if you want!

I would be a cat. I’ve owned many cats over the years but the one closest to my heart was Fudge, a white and tabby who survived many travels until he reached the age of sixteen. I have many memories of him marking out new territories, leaping from roofs and stalking out prey.





He was a beautiful cat! What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

To complete all of my books; the ones I’m currently working on, and the stories which exist in my imagination. Something for my grandchildren to remember me when they’re older!

I can appreciate that. What is your favorite song?

This is difficult. It has to be, Desafinado, by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The music of Brazil has a special place in my heart, evoking memories of my time spent there in my late teens. The title of this song means “Out of tune” and the lyrics describe someone who is set apart from the crowd; someone who likes to make up his own mind and doesn’t need to conform to the norm.

I like it! I listened to it while I finished this blog post. What is your favorite movie?

I know this is cheating, but I have two favorites; Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski, and The Sixth Sense, directed by M Night Shyamalan. What I love about both of these movies is the portrayal of ordinary characters we can relate to, plunged into bewildering situations, unsure of who to trust. Also the antagonists, the elderly couple in Rosemary’s Baby who shock us when they reveal who they really are. The Sixth Sense also takes us by surprise; particularly the twist at the end which I did not see coming!

I do love the manipulation techniques used in Rosemary’s Baby and the “who can you trust” scenario and then, SPOILER ALERT, her resolution. And, now that you mention it, I see the similarities of the two characters. Good call!

And finally, please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELETE KEY!

There are so many – I hit the delete key every other sentence! Today, I’ve just deleted three big chunks from the book I’m working on now. Here’s an example deleted from today’s work:

With a further six miles to go, he trampled through the unforgiving drifts; each snow-clad step an act of obstinacy. . .

The problem is that since writing this passage the protagonist has been delayed in getting to the location – it’s now April and the snow has gone.

Good choice!

For more information on James Faro, check out these links.



Facebook Page:

And you can check out my review here:

Thank you, James, for being a guest on my blog. I truly enjoyed your book and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.



Book Blitz: Small Talk, a Detective Daniel Hayes Novel by Robert T. Germaux

Small Talk Cover 

About the Book:

A serial killer has the people of Pittsburgh on edge, and Detective Daniel Hayes and his hand-picked Special Assignment Squad are working feverishly to solve the case before more innocent lives are lost. But the killer proves to be a formidable foe, whose viciousness appears to be matched only by his ability to elude capture.

Throughout Small Talk, the reader is given glimpses into the mind of this cunning and sadistic murderer, an individual who seeks a face-to-face confrontation with his pursuers, a confrontation Daniel is only too willing to provide.

Read the first seven chapters of Small Talk

Robert Germaux Author Photo

About Robert Germaux:

Robert Germaux and his wife, Cynthia, live outside of Pittsburgh. After three decades as a high school English teacher, and now a good many years into retirement, he is beginning to have serious doubts about his lifelong dream of pitching for the Pirates. Small Talk is Robert Germaux’s second book. His first book, The Backup Husband, is a contemporary romance novel, available on Amazon.      *******

Robert Germaux Author Q & A

I see you were a high school English teacher for thirty years. That’s quite an accomplishment! Were you doing much writing during this time?

No, I wasn’t, mainly because I was too busy grading my students’ papers, along with doing the thousand-and-one other things involved with teaching. And to be honest, I really didn’t think of myself as a writer during those years.

What made you decide to take the plunge and publish your first book, The Backup Husband?

Pretty much just the desire to put my work out there, to see if it was as good as I hoped it was.

Why did you take the Indie route?

I’d written several books about a private detective named Jeremy Barnes, but my agent and I hadn’t been able to find a publisher for them. I knew how popular eBooks were becoming, so I thought I’d try that route.

The Backup Husband is a contemporary romance novel. Small Talk is about a serial killer. Was this a conscious decision to keep your book genre choices open?

No, not really. I’d had the idea for The Backup Husband floating around in my head for some time, and after I wrote it, I thought it might be the best book for my initial foray into the world of eBooks. My other books are all crime novels, and that’s the genre I most enjoy.

What kind of research did you do for Small Talk?

I was fairly knowledgeable about standard police procedures, but I had to do a lot of research into the technical aspects of the investigation by Daniel and his squad, things like facial recognition software, etc. I also had to educate myself about what can be learned at autopsy, which wasn’t my favorite part of the research for this book.

What would you say has been the most difficult thing about Indie publishing?

I knew next to nothing about Indie publishing, and at first, it seemed as though every time I learned something, that led to two or three other “somethings” I had to learn. It was very frustrating.

Are you currently working on a new book?

I’m finishing the final edit on One by One, the next case for Daniel and the Special Assignment Squad.

Do you have any advice for new Indie authors?

I would recommend that they educate themselves as much as possible about the world of Indie publishing, but even more important, try to find someone who already knows all this stuff and is willing to guide you through the process. When I decided to put The Backup Husband online, I had no idea what I was doing, which made for a long and arduous experience. With Small Talk, I’ve been lucky enough to have Susan Barton in my corner, making the whole process a delight.

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Readers can connect with Robert Germaux via his website, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. Review copies are available upon request via contact form here.