Sunday, December 16, 2012


Like many, I woke up on Saturday morning to learn the news of the senseless massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. 

As the details of this horror act of senselessness filtered out, I became aware of the gravity of the situation and I looked to my own two children Xavier, 6 and Lucy 3. I tried to fathom what the parents of those children in Connecticut must be going through both then at the outset of the violence and now some two days later. 

My social media stream became filled with various reactions, stories and updates from this small town across the far side of the world. I read through the comments with an increasing sense of frustration at the outpouring of grief, emotion and platitudes and thought to myself "Words are cheap". 

So I set about looking for some way to make a tangible (albeit) small contribution which I hope will do something - ANYTHING - for those parents, siblings and families whose lives have been irrevocably affected by what happened on Friday morning. 

The Newtown Parent Connection is a grass roots organization which was established by concerned parents and other informed citizens of the Newtown Community, to address the problem of substance use and abuse among young people in their community. Its role has expanded somewhat to offer services and groups that manage a wider range of parenting and family issues. 

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the Newtown Parent Connection established a fund to which people can donate to directly help the families and victims of the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

I couldn't ignore this and so, I reached out and gave a donation via Paypal to the fund.  Their bona fides are sound. I would urge you, if you can, to give a little to this worthy cause. At this time of year, when so many families are readying themselves for Christmas celebrations, these families will be trying to make sense of their shattered lives. 

Why am I donating to this cause?

These are children - like yours, like mine...


Charlotte Bacon, 6 Daniel Barden, 7 Rachel Davino, 29 Olivia Engel, 6 Josephine Gay, 7 Ana Marquez-Greene, 6 Dylan Hockley, 6 Dawn Hochsprung, 47 Madeleine Hsu, 6 Catherine Hubbard, 6 Chase Kowalski, 7 Jesse Lewis, 6 James Mattioli, 6 Grace McDonnell, 7 Anne Marie Murphy, 52 Emilie Parker, 6 Jack Pinto, 6 Noah Pozner, 6 Caroline Previdi, 6 Jessica Rekos, 6 Avielle Richman, 6 Lauren Rousseau, 30 Mary Sherlach, 56 Victoria Soto, 27 Benjamin Wheeler, 6 Allison Wyatt, 6


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Constructing Promises - A Look At Sara's Promise by Deanna Sletten

I am pleased to be welcoming author Deanna Sletten this week whose latest release Sara's Promise hits the shelves and promises to deliver a heart felt and fully realized story that will appeal to lovers of fine romantic fiction. 

Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women's fiction novels that go beyond the basic romance novel. Her stories dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. Deanna has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Deanna started her writing career in the early 1990s writing articles for parenting publications and local newspapers. Over time she transitioned to writing for blogs and websites and was a contributing writer for the women's website, She Knows. In November 2011, she changed course and put all her energy into novel writing and hasn't looked back since.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

So, onto the guff about Sara's Promise.

Do you believe in soul mates?

William Grafton had the perfect life with his lovely wife, Sara, and two teen-aged children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara died suddenly, leaving him alone to raise his children and wonder how he would ever get through life without his soul mate. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of his late wife, yet he finds he is drawn to her. But after a few strange occurrences, he begins to wonder–are these just coincidences or has his Sara come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman?

Annie Paxton doesn't believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn't know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.

Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence or by Sara keeping her promise?


William Grafton stood staring out the window of his fourth floor office in Beaverton. The photographer was late. He checked his watch again. Okay, so she was late by only two minutes, but she was late just the same. He had better things to do than wait. It only made him brood more about having to waste the time to retake the photos that were done two months before. It wasn't his fault some idiot at the magazine had lost the photos, yet he seemed to be the one paying for it.

Irritated, he turned from the window, smoothing down the sleeve of his suit jacket over his gold watch. In his navy suit, cream shirt, and pinstripe tie, he looked every bit the business man that he was, partner in his own architectural firm Grafton & Hanover for seventeen successful years. They had offices in Beaverton and Portland to handle all the business that came their way. The town of Beaverton had grown increasingly in size over the past twenty years, and firms were needed to build condos, apartment buildings, banks, shopping malls, and office buildings. But playing the part of business man was not his style. He much preferred his den at home to working in this sleek office, leaving the paperwork and appointments to his secretary and accountant to handle, and coming in only when necessary. Over the past five years, he'd pulled himself almost entirely out of the commercial end of the business, leaving the large building projects to his partner, Jeffrey Hanover, and their staff. He preferred working with individual home owners, helping them draft the homes of their dreams. 

William ran a hand through his thick, black hair that he wore slightly long. A touch of gray tipped the ends now, but he was forty-four, and that was to be expected. And if age hadn't grayed him, then his children had, especially his daughter, Sandy. That's why he'd preferred working at home all these years, so he could try to watch over them and try to fill the gaping void in their household. But it had been too big a job, bigger than he'd ever imagined.

Four minutes late. How much longer would he have to wait? He paced the floor, wondering where she was. He usually didn't mind the publicity or the time it took to show off his work. Having photos of the homes he designed appear in a publication like Architectural Home always brought prestigious clientèle his way. But having to waste his time redoing something because of someone else's stupidity irked him. And her being late irritated him more. He'd give her five more minutes, and if she didn't show, he was out of here.

Connect with Deanna here

Facebook with Deanna here    

Tweet with Deanna here    

Goodreads Deanna here   

Deanna's Amazon Author Page is here


In celebration of Deanna's new book release she is having a giveaway! Leave a comment on this site to have your name entered in the drawing for one of four prizes: Two $25 Amazon Gift Cards and 2 paperback copies of Sara's Promise. Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you. You can enter at each site of the blog tour for more chances to win! Giveaway starts December 10th and ends December 17th at midnight. Winners will be contacted December 18th after noon. 

Follow the tour schedule at Deanna's Official Site. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bringing Chaos To Order - Conversations with Meg Eichmann

This past Saturday, I attended the South Australian Writers Centre Summer Book Fair at the Atrium in Rundle Street, Adelaide. It was a great event and a great opportunity to showcase "Gifts of the Peramangk" as well as meet some wonderful people. And one person in particular who kinda blew me away was up and coming South Australian author Meg Eichmann.

At just 16, Meg has already packed a considerable amount into her young life that has included overseas travel, schooling in some diverse and varied places and of course writing, which she has an untold passion for. Like me, Meg was present at the Summer Book Fair to promote her debut novel "The Order's Experiments" which caught my eye right away and made an impression - not only for what it promises as a story - but for the story behind the story. This writer's journey towards publication is worthy of telling in and of itself.

But let's start with the guff on "The Order's Experiments" which is a fascinating blend of sci-fi, urban dystopia and chase thriller. 

Kyra and Fallen have strange pasts. At six years old Fallen fled from his unconventional home to the streets. Kyra, born to an underworld movement known as the Order, ran away when she was eight to be free of it. Both live in the city as street kids, living as strays for years, repressing their pasts as they try to survive, but no one can run forever. When the Order persuades Fallen to join them Kyra, in debt to Fallen feels compelled to return as well and both of them start the long journey back into their memories.

Together they are made to delve into what was their past; face the harsh realities of the underground and find a way to help each other face their childhood demons. While training themselves into heartless killers their only hope is to reconcile their lives in time to save their future.

The Order's Experiments is written in a voice that is at once contemporary but it possesses a tension and a maturity that is testament to Meg's skill as a story teller. The dual protagonists in Kyra and Fallen engage the reader and invite you to accompany them on what is at times a harrowing psychological journey. Their journey is visceral and you feel it acutely. 

As mentioned earlier, Meg sat down to write the novel back in 2009 as a 13 year old. Juggling the demands of school and a young life in general is considerable enough but in talking with Meg she recalled to me that the initial draft took her about a year to write. Once it was completed however, she didn't know what to do with it, how to find a publisher or an editor for that matter. 

I then signed up with Xlibris in 2011, a self-publishing agency where you pay them to print and make the book available, however I still had to edit it myself. So I spent around six months editing and cleaning up the book with the help of friends and family until it was finished and I published halfway through this year. It was such a slow process and I was never sure what moment were the ones to celebrate. Certainly, the moment I finished the book, unedited but finished, years before was a good one. Finishing the editing too was fantastic and a huge relief. Now, all that remains is to see how the book fairs in the market place.

The Order's Experiments greatest strengths are its characters. They are vividly drawn and their motivations are real and compelling. I asked Meg how much of herself is invested in these remarkable characters.

In Kyra, I tried to avoid making her too much like myself, but I very much wanted to use aspects of myself that I hadn't explored much to build her, and through that she evolved into a person of her own. She takes up aspects of humanity that can be seen as bad, like a great need and love of power and strength, but crafts them into tools for her own usage. Through her and Fallen, I've taken traits that might often be associated with villains, because of our own perceptions of the wrong in these traits, and explored them as survival tools, kept in check by the characters. 

My main male character for instance, Sorric Fallen, has an extremely cold and unsympathetic temperament, which he uses to survive but still has a moral code to keep himself in check. He is attracted to the humanity in Kyra, and recognizes that they have a similar understanding about these negative aspects of themselves, that they were all they had to keep themselves alive. 

Through the book, I wanted to use it as a tool to question our common day moral beliefs and explore the changing meanings of right and wrong.  

Meg Eichmann was born in Elizabeth, South Australia in May 1995. After moving to New South Wales, where she spent seven of her schooling years, her passion for writing was first sparked. She moved back to South Australia with her family in 2010 where she currently resides and attends high school in the city. Aside from writing, Meg enjoys archery and bush walking. 

Meg has also travelled extensively, spending time in Eastern Europe where she volunteered at an orphanage in Romania. This experience in particular had a profound effect and has shaped her conscience.

My Romanian experience was very much a journey of self discovery. I wanted to see what I was capable of in travelling and volunteering and working with children, because it really is very hard work. 

Romania itself was wonderful, the culture and the landscape, and the way the orphanage was run I thought was fantastic and I learned a lot from them. They had a very open, community setting and it seemed to work well for the children. I with my elder sister worked with the younger children and in particular two toddlers for twelve hours a day. We stayed inside and tried to keep them entertained and after midday the rest of the kids would come home and were wanting attention too. 

I am really glad I did it. The two toddlers, Alex and Maria I will remember for the rest of my life, Alex in particular I looked after. We think he might have been autistic, as he seemed really intelligent but didn't like being touched, but I found that if I held him as though my arms were a swing - that cheered him up no end, and I grew really fond of him. 

But I have to add, other parts of that trip included the freezing cold, sorting through donations with numb fingers and colds, and a lot of stress. However we also had a fantastic time in Romanian Castles, and trips out to the forest with some kids. I'm really glad I did it.

Meg's priority going forward is to complete her secondary education in 2013 after which she'll explore university - but it is writing and travel, with volunteering included that Meg sees as her priority.

The Order's Experiments is available now.

Purchase The Order's Experiments from Xlibris Publishing

Purchase The Order's Experiments from Amazon

Purchase The Order's Experiments from Bookworld Australia 

Purchase The Order's Experiments from Barnes and Noble 

Connect with Meg at her Official Site here

Facebook Meg here

Meg Eichmann at the SA Writers Centre here


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lost Songs Found - Coversations with Stephen Ormsby.

Recently, I had the pleasure of encountering a fellow Gippslander and author Stephen Ormsby who approached me to ask if I would be interested in being featured at his website. Stephen is an enthusiastic supporter of independent authors, artists and musicians and in a short time he has welcomed an impressive roster to his site and the result has been a really interesting and diverse conversation that has become a weekly staple for me. 

It follows then that I just had to return the gesture and feature Stephen over here because Stephen, himself, is an author of significant talent whose new release "Long Lost Song" is creating all sorts of buzz.

There is no doubt that Stephen is worldly, a seeker of inspiration and also a deliverer of it. He started out as an IT professional and toiled away in that industry for twenty years, whilst travelling extensively, reading widely, exploring music and raising a family with his wife that now consists of two beautiful children and a mad cut named Smudge. He made the brave decision to pursue a more creative life which has been something of a life changing thing that has served his well being in more ways than he anticipated. He love of writing has always been a central part of who he is and the idea of writing novels has been a natural extension of that. Indeed, Stephen has already written four full length novels whilst still encumbered by the demands of his chosen profession but when the idea for Long Lost Song came along,  Stephen knew this was the project that demanded to be published.

The guff on Stephen's landmark novel is thus:

A virus is decimating America today and Michael Decker is the culprit.  Or is he?

Is it the work of a curse recorded into a song by 1930’s blues musician Ricky Jensen?

Long Lost Song tells the story of Ricky and Michael as they battle their personal and real demons while the world reaches end times of biblical proportions.

One question remains. How do you stop a devil of a song made to break a crossroads deal?

Long Lost Song draws together several favoured elements of Stephens - the deep south and the ubiquitous blues music, the supernatural, voodoo and melds it together to form a narrative that crackles with tension and intelligence, while giving the reader respite in elements of romance that Stephen handles with a deft hand so that it balances the overall tome. The music of the south plays well with the novel and the reader should consider taking out some John Lee Hooker or Muddy Waters even some Ry Cooder to complement the reading experience. Trust me, it works really well, delivering you into the heart of the story and holding you there until the charged climax. 

Stephen's readership have enthused at Long Lost Song's powerful story telling and it has become a well earned favourite right across the globe. 

Stephen Ormsby has achieved a fascinating blend of voodoo, misguided desire, death, and the unconquerable human spirit. Here, for all to relish, is the one single essential ingredient of the human condition—the capacity to love.

Norman W Wilson, PhD

Long Lost Song is just the opening to a planned schedule of releases by Stephen that will see him further cement himself as an author of considerable talent. Already, he has continued his considerable work rate by producing a series of shorts under the title "Leftovers from the (Writing) Table that are available now and show case his abilities in an (arguably) more restrictive genre (ie. the short). 

Purchase Long Lost Song at Amazon  

Purchase Long Lost Song at Smashwords     

Stephens Short Story Series "Leftovers from the (Writing) Table" can purchased from Amazon and Smashwords

Connect with Stephen Ormsby here

Facebook Stephen Ormsby here

Tweet with Stephen Ormsby here