Crowning Glory, Stacy Harshman’s SOCIAL EXPERIMENT

An exciting interview and book you’ll want to read!

Crowning Glory by Stacy Harshman Book Tour BannerPlease tell readers a bit about your new book, Crowning Glory:

Crowning glory is a book that is a social experiment combined with a memoir. It started when I bought a long, red wig one late night on eBay. When I put the wig on, I felt transformed into a fiery, sexy and bold woman. When I wore the wig out into the world, people reacted to me very differently. Men and women both stared. One man threw his briefcase down on the ground, kneeled and asked me to take him home with me. I got a lot of attention. And I admit I loved it. I started wondering what it would be like if I had the same long hair, but different colors. How would I feel as a blond or brunette? How would people react to me?

I decided to find out and concocted a 5-week long experiment where I would live the life of a redhead, a blond, a raven-tressed woman and brunette, plus the last week was me with my own hair. I even hired an accomplice/spy to accompany me at all times and record data, like stare stats. The book is about the experiment and the adventures my spy and I have along the way, plus it is the story of my struggles with bipolar disorder and how the experiment helped me heal in ways I couldn’t have predicted.

Your book is certainly a unique one! How did you come up with the idea?

Wearing the initial red wig out and about in Manhattan and getting so much attention gave me the start of the idea. I was amazed at how different I felt — fiery, confident, and fun – which was a huge change from how I had been feeling. I had been fighting a long bout of depression, and this wig wearing was a weird miracle. It helped me feel good and gave me energy.   I decided to do the experiment out of curiosity and also give myself a steady structure and focus.

I was wondering about how I would feel and how people would react to me wearing the same wig but with different hair colors. As I pondered the idea of doing some big hair experiment and writing about it, I walked under David Letterman’s “Late Night” marquee and realized that people do “Stupid Human Tricks.” That was all the encouragement I needed!

What would you say was the most important thing you learned from your experiment?

To avoid comparisons with other people. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s cliché, but if you are jealous of someone then try to improve yourself in those areas you covet, but do it for yourself.

I’m proud of myself for doing the experiment. At the time, I was in a deep depression and a great deal of social anxiety. I needed something drastic to pull me out of it. I was isolating and stuck in my apartment and head. The experiment and spending so much time with my spy/assistant was a big challenge for me. It might sound like a simple thing to do, but it took guts on my part. I had to go against all the internal messages of “No way! I can’t! I won’t …”   I found out I was stronger than I thought. I needed the support, structure and friendship I found in the experiment. That helped me heal.

So, sometimes throwing yourself into something new and scary, even playing dress up for a month straight, can lead to unforgettable adventures and experiences that show you who you really are.

What did you learn about other people?

Other people are affected by your appearance. You are judged by your appearance. I think once someone gets to know you that judgement lessens as they see the bigger/deeper picture of who you are.

What did you learn about yourself?

I’m affected by my own appearance! I judge other people by their appearance, at first, too. I think we all do, on some level. I try to drop that judgement as soon as I have it and have an open mind.

During the experiment, I judged people less and opened up to others much more when I started to feel better and more confident about myself.   I think any negativity or criticism I felt towards others stemmed from the fact I wasn’t happy with, and didn’t have confidence within, myself. I was afraid of being judged “unworthy’ or deemed “unwanted.”

I see from your website that you’re not only an author; you’re an interior designer, an artist and a musician. Tell us a little about each of these aspects of your life:

Well, the writing manifested in “Crowning Glory.” I also have a play called “Portraits of Vivienne” which is right on the verge of being finished. I just have to dive back in and figure out the ending! I also have a children’s book in the works, called “Blub Blub the Baby Blue Whale.” Bulb’s quest is to let the world know about the noise pollution in the ocean, which severely hurts whales and other aquatic mammals.

My music adventures began when I first arrived in NYC, back in 2002. I wrote, played and recorded five albums of music. I mainly sang, but also accompanied myself on keys, which I played out with my guitar player. I had many fun and challenging experiences.

During my interior design career, I sold antique tribal rugs and also created a lighting design company. Sourcing the rugs and then selling them was so much fun for me. I really appreciate, admire and love handmade beauty that has a history. My love of it and enthusiasm carried over into my customers. They were thrilled with there finds and grateful to learn about the history and stories their new pieces of fiber art contained.

I also started a lighting company, called, Andarina Designs.   I was inspired by the antique, colorful glass swizzle sticks that I would see in vintage stores. One day, I saw sunlight shining through a bunch of them and though, “I want to make a lamp out of that.” So, I started to experiment and came up with two different lines of lighting. That was a lot of fun for me.   The first lamps were made with original vintage swizzle sticks. Then I discovered that a huge glass rod color palette was already available. Combining colors and making my own palettes was heavenly!

Where the heck do you find the time to do all these things?

I’ve actually taken a break from living in Manhattan and doing all these things. I’m in Vermont now. I volunteer on a therapeutic farm/ranch. For example, today I’ve been planting onions in the garden, and tomorrow I will be taking care of llamas. I still paint and teach people my multi-media technique here at the ranch.

You’re clearly driven. Where does your ambition and drive come from?

I want to make meaningful art and and have a meaningful connection with people. I think that desire to connect fuels my drive and ambition. Sometimes, I don’t feel connected and that is a painful place to be.

Living in NYC must have been exciting, since it put you right in the center of the arts, fashion and entertainment industry.

Well, my life is very different now since I live in Vermont and work on a farm.   I was having a hard time with depression last year, and I decided I needed to move and get help. So, I came to Vermont, and lived and worked on a Therapeutic Farm called Spring Lake Ranch. I don’t live there anymore, but I do volunteer during the week.

How much has your life changed since moving from your hometown in Illinois?

Wow. I’ve had so many lifetimes since then. I’ve lived in Central America, Europe, Canada, New York and now Vermont.

In Illinois, I lived in a very secluded community and didn’t have much news from or dealings with the outside world. Obviously, this has completely changed.   I do feel like my explorations have led me to a small, working community here in Vermont where I feel more comfortable. So maybe I’m still a country girl afterall.

Do you have any new books in the works?

I want to finish my play, “Portraits of Vivienne.” It deserves to be finished.   I’d also love to find someone to help me with “Blub Blub the Baby Blue Whale.” I really feel strongly about educating kids about the noise pollution in the ocean and what it does to whales and dolphins.

What advice would you give other writers who may be sitting on the fence about publishing their book?

Well, I would first work with an experienced, professional editor before you publish. At first, I didn’t want to do it. I thought my book didn’t need it. My book was well-served by doing this. It gives me reassurance that grammatical issues aren’t going to get in the way.

I really wanted an agent to pick up my book. I was disappointed when that didn’t happen, but I think going ahead and self-publishing is the way to go. I think you should get it out there, in whatever way that works best for you. You’ve worked this long and hard – you and your book deserve to be heard!

Stacy Harshman Author Photo 1


Stacy Harshman recently relocated from NYC to Vermont where she currently works on a therapeutic farm. after a Midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home in New York City, which she still maintains.

Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals and to the healing arts. Stacy invites readers to connect with her on her website and on Facebook.

*Author Interview prepared by Susan Barton, eBook Review Gal.




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Q & A with Robert Germaux Author of Hard Court

Hard Court by Robert Germaux Virtual Book Tour Banner

Why a novel about a private detective?

I’ve always loved mysteries, starting when I read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books as a kid. As I got older, I enjoyed Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels, and eventually I also got hooked on the characters of Spenser, Elvis Cole and Myron Bolitar, among others. When I decided to write my first full-length novel, there was no doubt in my mind that my protagonist would be a private detective.

How would you describe Jeremy Barnes, Bob? 

There’s an old line about people you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. Well, if you did end up in that dark alley with one of those people, JB’s the person you’d want covering your back. He’s a tough guy with a soft spot in his heart for life’s underdogs, and while he’d much rather diffuse a tense situation with his sense of humor, if push comes to shove, he’s more than capable of handling himself that way, too.

Is JB based on anyone in particular?

There’s a little bit of several people I’ve known in JB, but mostly he’s a product of my fertile imagination. Actually, other than the fact that he’s bigger, stronger, younger, smarter and better-looking than I am, we’re remarkably similar

How do you come up with the plots for your books?

It’s a combination of finding subjects I’m knowledgeable about and things I have an interest in. For example, in Leaving the LAW, JB attempts to help a young man who’s involved with gangs at the school where JB used to teach. In the early 90s, I was teaching at a Pittsburgh high school that the local cops called Gang Central, so I had some personal experience with that whole scene.

Why first person narrative?

I can’t imagine writing about JB in any other way. When I write my Jeremy Barnes novels, I’m right there inside his head. At those moments, we’re one and the same. He’s definitely my alter ego.

You’ve said you can’t see yourself ever writing a character interview with Jeremy. Why is that? 

Jeremy exists in the world I created for him, and I’m very comfortable writing about him in that world. But bringing him into this world just doesn’t work for me. It would be sort of like the literary equivalent of breaking the fourth wall in a stage production. I’m sure some authors can pull that off, but I’m not one of them.

Do you have a reading group?

Yes, and the group’s name is Cynthia. As soon as I finish writing a chapter, I give it to my wife. Cynthia knows my characters as well as I do, so I almost always end up using her comments/suggestions.

How important was it for you that Jeremy would have a love interest in the character of Laura Fleming?

I knew from the start that Jeremy would have a woman in his life, a soul mate. The scenes with JB and Laura are my favorite to write, whether they’re discussing one of his cases, talking about her kindergarten kids or just sharing a candlelight dinner at one of Pittsburgh’s hilltop restaurants.

Okay, Bob, last question. Are there other Jeremy Barnes mysteries on the horizon?

I’ve actually written three other books about Jeremy: Small Bytes, Speak Softly and the aforementioned Leaving the LAW. If there’s a demand, I will definitely publish them, too.

Robert Germaux Author Photo


Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that at an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places.

Hard Court by Robert Germaux Cover Photo REDUCED  (532x800)Although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one.

Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes. I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write Small Talk and The Backup Husband. Now I’m back and I just released my first Jeremy Barnes novel, Hard Court, on April 11.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), going to live theater productions, watching reruns of favorite TV shows such as “Sports Night” and “Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and share a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my characters and stories. Please feel free to contact me via my website.




Advice for aspiring authors: write!


Advice for aspiring authors: write!

(From an interview with Julie Tetel Andresen by Linda Lee Williams..see link below!)

If you are a writer, you have a story to tell that you can’t not tell. So, you’re killing yourself if you’re gazing at a television screen, driving around, or doing anything other than writing your story – especially because I know that while you’re doing these things, you actually have the story you’re dying to tell roaming around in the back of your head…and it’s frustrating you.

So, end your frustration and write. Of course, a new frustration will arise, namely the difficulty of actually writing. But this new frustration is better than the old one of not writing.

Your job isn’t to determine whether the story is good enough. Your job is to get it down. (Editors come in handy at this point. I would never dream of working without one.) Julie Tetel Andresen

Fascinating Interview With Julie Tetel Andresen Author & World Traveler!

Love and Happiness by Ben Burgess, Jr.


eBook Review Gal Book Tour Stop for Love and Happiness by Ben Burgess Jr Book Tour Banner

eBook Review Gal Book Tour Stop for Love and Happiness by Ben Burgess Jr


Karen has it all: a handsome husband, beautiful twin daughters, a lovely home and a great job. Karen also has a secret; she’s cheating on her husband, with not one man, but two.

On the outside her life seems perfect, but on the inside Karen feels neglected, bored and unappreciated. Yearning for affection and excitement, she falls into the arms of first Raheem and then Tyrell. Out of fear of losing her husband and breaking up her family, Karen ends the affairs but things don’t turn out how she planned. When Karen’s dirty secrets are revealed she must fight to keep her family together.

Chris is doing all he can to hold his marriage together. He loves Karen but she grows more distant every day. When she starts coming home later and later, he suspects she is being unfaithful. When Chris accidentally takes her cell phone what he finds changes their lives forever.

When tragedy strikes, Karen must decide if she should sacrifice her happiness for her husband’s love, and Chris wonders if he should stay with Karen because he still loves her despite her infidelity. But if they do stay together, will they ever find love and happiness again?

Sexy and relatable, insightful and inspiring, Love and Happiness shows us both sides of Chris and Karen’s story, and reminds us that sometimes to have it all, you must first lose it all.


eBook Review Gal Book Tour Stop for Love and Happiness by Ben Burgess Jr



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Love and Happiness is a romance story that makes you think. It’s told from both Karen and Chris’s perspectives so you can see where both of their heads are at. Karen is cheating on her husband Chris, with not one man, but two. On the outside, her life seems perfect, but on the inside, Karen feels neglected. Out of fear of losing Chris and breaking up her family, Karen ends the affairs but when Karen’s dirty secrets are revealed,
Karen must decide if she should sacrifice her happiness for her husband’s love, and Chris wonders if he should stay with Karen because he still loves her despite her infidelity.


Where do your story ideas come from?

My first novel “Monster” was based on my personal life and experiences.

My second novel “Wounded” came about while I was actually working on “Love and Happiness.”

“Ken” from “Monster” makes a cameo appearance in “Love and Happiness.” I didn’t want fans to think I was a one trick pony or feel that my book was derivative so I was stuck with how I would write it.

My co-workers (Who happened to be lesbians) asked me to write a book with a Lesbian protagonist. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be possible since I wasn’t a woman, and I knew nothing about being Gay or the LGBT community. My co-workers decided to
take me to a Lesbian bar. (They took me to the Cubbyhole, which is the first bar I mentioned in Wounded.) After going there with them and talking to the women, I decided to work on the book. To make the book feel as authentic as possible, I did a lot of research. I interviewed fifteen women and five couples, to hear their thoughts, feelings, and philosophies about being a Lesbian, and life. I also used one of my family members as a basis for my character development, so I felt personally invested in creating “Samantha.”

For my latest novel “Love and Happiness,” I used real life relationships as m
y inspiration. I talked to several married and divorced couples. I asked them what they enjoyed and hated with marriage. I wanted to know what they wish they could change or what they regretted not doing. With all of my novels, my goal is to make people think. I want to help people see things from different perspectives to help the world to be more open minded.

Do you have a favorite character?

My favorite character to write would have to be Karen because she was more of a challenge. To write as a woman when you are a male is hard. I did a lot of research. I interviewed close to twenty women, asking them all types of questions about marriage and infidelity. It’s a lot of work to develop a female character as a male author, but I loved showing the different layers of her personality.

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in her 8th-grade class, I read Richard Wright’s “Native Son” I r
ead that book, and it was life changing for me. I knew I wanted to one day write something that could have the same effect on people. Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? While in 8th grade, my English teacher Mrs. Marcus gave the class a poetry assignment. My poem was on basketball. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I remember my teacher was blown away by it. She encouraged me to keep writing. She was
one of my most influential teachers, and I promised her if I ever wrote a book, I would write a poem about the Holocaust for her. (She was Jewish and had family that were survivors.) My dream was to publish a poetry book. I continued to write throughout high school and college.

How do you work through writer’s block?

When I have writers block, I do several things. Sometimes, I’ll force myself to continue writing. Sometimes, I’ll read a book that is a different topic than the one I’m writing. Sometimes, I’ll take a break from writing altogether to recharge my creative batteries.

What do you think makes a good story?

I think a strong plot with strong dialogue and believable characters help to make a good story.

Do you think most authors understand the importance of marketing their own work?

I think most authors have difficulty marketing their book because there isn’t an exact formula for success with marketing your book. What works for some authors, might not work for another. I try to observe different authors and stick with what I found helped and was effective.

What are some of your methods for self-promotion? To sell your book effectively, I believe it starts with you. You have to talk to all types of people. Personally, I set a goal to sell (5) paperbacks a day to five complete strangers. To sell a lot of books, people have to know your book exists. I search for credible reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads. I also do research on the internet for other well know reviewers. Word of mouth is definitely important, but it can only go so far. I use all of the popular social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest) to advertise. I use press releases, advertise in local newspapers, and enter book contest to promote and spark interests for potential readers and reviewers.

What’s your writing schedule like?

I write whenever I have the time or as soon as I have an idea. I have a Samsung Note 5 so if an idea comes to mind, I literally write it down or use the voice memos to record my thoughts and write them out when I get time. I try to write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph. I’m a huge perfectionist so I’m constantly editing and re-editing while I’m writing. Once my project is completed, I edit again to try to make my work the best it can be. When I’m writing, I can have music or a movie playing in the background, but I totally zone out and focus on writing. I turn the internet off when I’m working on my laptop because honestly, I usually end up looking at Facebook or checking out stuff on ESPN.

To include my daughter in my writing process, she puts her desk next to mine while I’m writing and practices writing her letters and/or doing her homework.

What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love playing with my daughter. I like doing puzzles with her or playing sports with her. I love basketball and boxing. Those are two of my favorite sports. I love to read of course, and I’m a big movie buff. I love going to the movies and watching all types of movies.

Who would you say has been a major influence in your life?Ben Burgess Author w: daughter

My biggest inspiration/motivation is my daughter. As a parent, I want nothing but the best for my child. I look at her as an extension of myself. I didn’t have a great childhood. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, I was insecure about myself, I lived in poverty, and I missed out on opportunities due to a lack of funds. While my childhood wasn’t the best, I had a great role model – my mother. I watched my mom struggle to pay bills, work two jobs, put herself through school all the way up to her doctorate, and moved us out of the dangerous neighborhood we lived in, into a house in the suburbs. She did all of these tasks on her own. My mother did the best she could to push for me to have better opportunities than she did. She drove me to want more out of myself and to become the best person I could be.

That is exactly what I wish to do for my child. I want to instill in her that strong work ethic and will. I want her to realize that with hard work and dedication, she can do anything she puts her mind to. I want her to see how I juggle being an NYPD detective, personal trainer, father, and author. I love her, and I want to be that positive role model she looks up to like my Mother was for me. Every achievement, every award, every acknowledgment I receive, I want her to understand that I put 100% into everything I do. I pray that it pushes her to be a great person.

Do you ever use friends, family members or acquaintances as character models?

I love to people watch and I’m constantly thinking, so when I observed different relationships I felt this book “Love and Happiness” needed to be written. I felt the story would help both men and women think and that is what I always try to do when I’m telling a story. When I’m developing my characters, I like them to be layered. I don’t want to make perfect characters because no one is perfect. I develop characters that have strengths and flaws because I feel that makes it easier for readers to connect. I put pieces of myself into every character, but I also look at the personality traits of strangers, family, and friends to inspire me for my character development. I like to do research also by interviewing strangers to get different perspectives on topics.

How do you deal with criticism?

There are different strokes for different folks. There will be some that just don’t feel my style of writing or the story I’m telling. In this business, you have to have thick skin, you can’t take everything personal. I listen to constructive criticism that I feel is helpful. As a writer, I try to work on my flaws and improve with every book, but it’s impossible to please everyone. I work hard to write stories I believe a majority of people will enjoy.

What types of books do you like to read? I

like to read Urban/African American Fiction, Drama, and Contemporary Romance. What would readers be surprised to know about you? I think readers would be surprised to know that I’m actually an NYPD Detective.

If you could spend the day with a famous author who would it be?

I would want to spend the day with my favorite author, Eric Jerome Dickey. He was crucial in my decision to become an author. He has also supported me and has given me advice about the literary industry.

How would you spend the day together?

I would probably ask him questions about the industry.

Are you working on anything new now?

My next project is titled “Daddy’s Girl” Which will be a story of the trials and tribulations of a single father raising a bi-racial daughter on his own. The daughter character in this book will be “Lynn” from my first novel “Monster.” Here, you will see her origin, and learn more about her character. After that novel, I will begin working on another book called “Black and White.”

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

There will be lots of times when you want to give up. There will be times when people will talk bad about your book or sales might be low. Never give up. Believe in yourself and believe in your work. Listen to critiques and push your pride to the side. It doesn’t matter how great of a writer you think you are, you can always improve.t of a writer you think you are, you can always improve.

There will be those who will not be fans of your writing, but you should never give up. Keep growing and learning your craft. Edit and re-edit. (*always have your books professionally edited. You want people to take your book seriously and not feel that it is amateurish.) Learn from your mistakes, take classes and read other authors. Research the industry.

Two of the most important things to do are:

1. Find a credible editor

2. Promote, promote, promote!

You have to put your heart and soul into your work. While it will be hard and you will go through trials and tribulations, in the end, it’s worth it when your book is entertaining people and it’s successful.

Ben Burgess Author



Ben Burgess Jr is the author of the award winning novels “Monster”, “Wounded”, the poetry book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” and the new novel “Love and Happiness”

He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams. His poetry book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” and his novel “Monster” are currently used in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan.

Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management, and a MA degree in Educational Leadership. He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.

Ben Burgess Author Award







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

The Urban Boys by K. N. Smith Book Tour Banner

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










Ben Starling’s Something in the Water

Something in the Water is fundamentally a love story—with a bit of adventure in the tropics thrown in too.

SITW Ben_black spot reflect double.jpg

The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than just a mystery…

What if to be with the man of your dreams…you had to give up your life?

On the verge of losing her job, side-lined journalist Teal is forced to travel to the South Pacific to profile a powerful businessman. But with her almost-but-not-quite fiancé Bear discouraging her every step of the way, she may not be able to save her career or her relationship.

When corporate criminals invade paradise, Teal teams up with a former boxer turned marine-biologist to investigate. As she discovers the true intentions behind their new canning operations, she must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or—with Perry—defend the island with more than her life.

Hand+Whale.pngSomething in the Water, An Ocean Romance is available on Amazon.


Something in the Water was inspired by the loss of my partner at forty-five years of age to ovarian cancer in 2012, just thirteen weeks after her diagnosis. In the aftermath, an old friend challenged me to turn that grief into something positive.

Remembering a conversation with a charismatic Polynesian fisherman (I visited there once) about his people’s vision of death and the afterlife, I began to write. Through the written word, I hoped to explore and capture several extraordinary events that happened around the time of my girlfriend’s death. The novel and the series kind of took off from there…

What can we look forward to next from you?

Something in the Water will be supported by a series of short stories that reveal the backstories of the major characters in this world.

The first in the series, Something in the Air, is available now free at my website as well as free on Kobo (also available at Amazon) and the second short story in the series, Something on the Fly, will be released in the Spring!

Something in the Water available on Amazon

Something in the Air

Something on the Fly – coming soon!


Something in the Water – Chapter 1 begins…

New York, September

He didn’t look like the hotel guests, the business people, or the tourists. He didn’t move like them either.

He brushed past me as I climbed off my Vespa, stilettos in hand, outside the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria. Had he smiled at the radiance of my scarlet ball gown? Or was he amused by my battered Converse sneakers?

As a valet approached to take my scooter and helmet, I spotted my boss, Malcolm, waving hello from the lobby. He was approaching the glass doors that separated us when I noticed a small wooden box on the ground. Two steps later, I had picked it up. Who could have dropped it?

No one was close by, so I turned. The only man who’d passed me was already a half block away, gliding beside the cars that waited for the lights to change at the end of the block. Was it his?

What I knew for sure was that now wasn’t the time to be tracking down the little box’s owner. I should hand it in to reception and concentrate on the evening ahead. For a few seconds, I relaxed as I studied the hotel’s confident, soaring opulence—a world unknown to me before my arrival from Nantucket four years ago. The smooth texture of the box, however, drew my thoughts back to it. Was there something valuable inside? What if it did belong to that man, and he never returned to collect it? I turned the box over—and caught my breath.

“How on earth…?”

Malcolm emerged in front of me. “Hello, darling, you look absolutely—are you okay?”
I thrust my sparkly evening shoes into his hands, and hitched up my shawl. I was about to give chase when a convertible Ferrari lurched to a stop beside me.

“Going my way, babe?” its driver shouted, over the thrum of the engine.

But my dress was redder, and I got the better start.

You can find the rest of Something in the Water, Chapter 1 at


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 Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel. His interest in marine life has taken him across three continents over the past three decades. He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively until about five years ago. He is 6’3”and 185 lbs. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an M Phil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.


Check out my previous interview with Ben!

Connect with Ben

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Better Not Love Me by Dan Kolbet

Better Not Love Me by Dan Kolbet Book Tour Banner.png

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.



A SPECIAL THANKS for Reading The Kitchen Dance by Geri G. Taylor

I want to thank all my friends, family, fellow authors, and readers who have supported me on my first novel, The Kitchen Dance.
I just received the rights back from Melange Books, LLC, and, at this time, the Kindle version is no longer available on Amazon but the ebook can still be purchased directly from me for $2.99 (via PayPal) in a mobi file that can be read on a Kindle.

Plus, I still have paperback copies for $14.95 (via PayPal) that I will personalize and autograph.

Also, you can still find good deals on used books on Amazon as low as $4.75 (including S&H)!

I appreciate you reading my book and I sincerely hope that you enjoy it and find it entertaining. If so, please take a few moments to share your opinion on Amazon and, if you are a member, Goodreads or other sites you like to visit.

Please visit my website and watch my book trailer.

Also, if you haven’t already done se, please visit and “LIKE” my Facebook page for The Kitchen Dance.

Feel free to post an encouraging comment. 😀

I enjoyed writing this book and I am busy working on my next novel, but the promoting can be overwhelming. This why it is so wonderful when readers like you spread the word.