Thursday, May 22, 2014

Iron Horsemen by Brad R Cook – The Cover!

Iron Horsemen by Brad R Cook – The Cover!

I present the cover for Brad R. Cook’s debut novel the Iron Horsemen!

Iron Horsemen by Brad R Cook
First book of The Iron Chronicles
a Y/A Steampunk Adventure!
Coming November 15, 2014 from 
Treehouse Publishing Group 

Alexander Armitage doesn't fit in at Eton College. Not only is he an American, his father, the newest professor at school, is obsessed with ancient languages and the dusty old books he makes Alexander study. When his father is kidnapped, Alexander gladly leaves this world behind and finds himself partnered with a baron's daughter, her little bronze dragon, and an eclectic crew of Sky Raiders in a quest to find him. When their search leads them to Malta, they discover a secret society intent on unleashing the four ancient horsemen and destroying the reins of power in London.  

In a steam-powered Victorian world where pirates prowl the sky and secret societies determine the future like a game of chess, Alexander must confront the harsh legacy of the divided country he left behind, a new aristocratic world that rejects him, and the overwhelming pressure of being offered to become a Horseman himself.

Iron Horsemen by Brad R. Cook
Will be available as an e-book too!
November 15, 2014 from Treehouse Publishing Group
ISBN: 978–0989207951
Bookstores can order from Midpoint Distribution –

About the Cover
Many thanks to the cover designer and artists who brought my world to visual life in such a spectacular manner!
The horse is a photo by Mary Catherine Campbell of Celtic Cat Photos
And the border was designed by a great steampunk artist, Georgie Retzer or
Cover designed by Kristina Blank Makansi

About the Author
Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy writer, and publisher at Blank Slate Press. An award winning short story writer, he began as a playwright, and joined the board of St. Louis Writers Guild in 2008, guiding the organization as President since 2011. He learned to fence at thirteen and never set down his sword, but prefers to curl up with his cat and a centuries’ old classic. He writes during the witching hour when his muses are most active, and asks everyone to preserve our historical treasures for future generations.

I see things that never were and say, “why not?” – BRC

Learn more at or and follow him on Twitter @bradrcook

Pre-order your copy today! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

YA/MG author Margo Dill: Follows characters' lead

Margo L. Dill is a children's author, freelance editor, and workshop leader, living in St. Louis, MO. Caught Between Two Curses, which includes the infamous Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs, is her first young adult novel. She is also the author of the historical fiction, middle-grade novel, Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg (White Mane Kids, 2012) and the forthcoming picture books, Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire and the Case of the Missing Cookies and Lucy and the Red Ribbon Week Adventure.  She promises that she is a Cardinals' fan at heart, but the Billy Goat curse on the Chicago Cubs was too irresistible for a plot line. 

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? Interesting question! First I will have to admit that my writing is focused. I guess it is? No seriously, I suppose it's my characters. They keep talking to me in my head until I get them doing what they are supposed to be doing. I write mostly character driven novels--I mean there's some action (like in Finding My Place, there's the Siege of Vicksburg!), but my characters tell me how they are going to act and react in situations, and then I follow them around until the end of the novel.

What inspired your latest book? In 2003, there were a couple news stories that caught my eye. One was about a little girl who had survived a car crash when her parents had not, and she wasn't found for a couple days. She fed herself on the food and drink in her diaper bag. The other story was about Steve Bartman who was the guy who reached over and interfered with one of the Chicago Cubs outfielder's play on a foul ball. Many people blamed him for the Cubs not making it to the World Series that year. Of course, many other people believed it's the Curse of the Billy Goat. So, I thought about these two stories for a while. I have always wanted to explore why some people survive in an accident and others don't. Is it because the person still has something left to do on earth? Or was it just luck? I also wondered: is there anyone anywhere who can break the Curse of the Billy Goat? Out of these questions came Caught Between Two Curses

What do you think readers will like about your book? It's not a book about baseball--so if you don't like baseball, don't worry--there's romance and magic for you. If you like sports, there are a few Cubs games that my main character Julie must attend, so there are those scenes for you! Most readers have said they liked my main character, Julie, and her voice. That's great news because I love Julie, and I hope others can, too. 

How much fact is in your fiction? In my first novel, Finding My Place, there's a lot of fact--it's a middle-grade historical fiction novel based on the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863 during the US Civil War. I tried to put in all the gross stuff that kids love like the fact that some of the Vicksburg citizens ate rats to keep from starving to death, and they built caves out of the yellow clay hills to hide out in when the Yankees bombed. Kids love when I tell them about acorn coffee and pea bread, and how my antagonist Mrs. Franklin doesn't like either of those and is mean to her slaves when she is served this food. However, since it's fiction, all my characters are made up--none of them (except for Generals Grant, Pemberton, and Lee) were real. In my second novel, there are the curses, so it has a little less fact. But I do include the real name of the man who put the curse on the Cubs, and the story takes place in Chicago--mostly in an unnamed Chicago suburb. The teen problems in Julie and her friends' lives, such as the pressure to have sex, finding a date to homecoming, dealing with family drama, are very much real.  

What are your top three reasons for writing? 1. It takes less education than being a doctor, lawyer, or plumber. 2. It's easier than running a marathon or climbing Mt. Everest (barely). 3. I can't imagine doing anything else because I love writing, words, and reading so much! 

CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO CURSES -- Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it's not just any-old-regular curse, either-it's strangely connected to the famous "Curse of the Billy Goat" on the Chicago Cubs. Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time. Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family's future, and her own love life-and time is running out!

FINDING MY PLACE -- Thirteen-year-old Anna Green can hardly remember life before the War Between the States touched her hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi. for 47 days in May, June, and July 1863, the Union army bombs Vicksburg day and night, attempting to overtake the city. Anna longs for the days before Yankee bombs screeched above her, before her family was torn apart, and before they moved to a dark, damp cave to protect themselves from falling shells. During one terrible bombing, a tragedy strikes Anna and her siblings and changes their lives forever. Can Anna find the strength to keep her family together in the midst of war?

Books are available on my website, my publishers' websites, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound.You can start at my website for the links or to order an autograph copy: 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Writers go to market in Ferguson, MO

AuthorFest at the Market begins this weekend, featuring Eileen Dreyer, Elle Meyer, Robin Tidwell, Mike and Carol Hodges, and Braxton DeGarmo.

The Ferguson Farmers' Market is open from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, and typically has plenty of food booths, so you can come hungry and leave full. It's located at 20 S. Florissant Rd in Ferguson. From I-70 take the UMSL/S. Florissant Rd. exit and head north. From I-270, take the New Florissant Rd exit and head south. The market sits just south of the train trestle.

For more details, go to

Thanks to Braxton DeGarmo for organizing local authors' participation!

2014 Farmers Market Calendar:

May 10:
  • Braxton DeGarmo – Thrillers: “The Militant Genome,” “Indebted,” and more
  • Eileen Dreyer – NYT Bestselling author of The Drake’s Rakes Series
  • Elle Meyer – “Chronicle of the Mound Builders”
  • Robin Tidwell – the dystopian trilogy: “Reduced,” “Reused,” and “Recyled”
  • Mike and Carol Hodge – “The Creator’s Essence” (Carol), "Where is the United States in Bible Prophecy" and "Unto Us A Child Is Born" (Mike 
June 14:
  • Braxton DeGarmo – Thrillers: “The Militant Genome,” “Indebted,” and more
  • T.W. Fendley – “Zero Time”
  • Margo Dill – middle age and young adult books: “Finding my Place,” “Caught Between Two Curses,” and more
  • L.S. Murphy – “Reaper,” “Neighbors,” “One More Day,” and “A Reason to Stay”
  • Mike and Carol Hodge – “The Creator’s Essence” (Carol), "Where is the United States in Bible Prophecy" and "Unto Us A Child Is Born" (Mike) 
July 12:
  • Braxton DeGarmo – Thrillers: “The Militant Genome,” “Indebted,” and more
  • Eileen Dreyer – NYT Bestselling author of The Drake’s Rakes Series
  • Connie Brown – “Simple Wisdom Nuggets"
August 9:
  • Braxton DeGarmo – Thrillers: “The Militant Genome,” “Indebted,” and more
  • L.S. Murphy – author of “Reaper,” “Neighbors,” “One More Day,” and “A Reason to Stay”
  • Connie Brown – “Simple Wisdom Nuggets"

September 13:
  • Braxton DeGarmo – Thrillers: "The Militant Genome," "Indebted," and more
  • Margo Dill – middle age and young adult books: "Finding my Place," "Caught Between Two Curses," and more
  • Mike and Carol Hodge – “The Creator’s Essence” (Carol), "Where is the United States in Bible Prophecy" and "Unto Us A Child Is Born" (Mike)
  • Piper Punches – “Missing Girl” and “The Waiting Room”
  • Connie Brown – “Simple Wisdom Nuggets"

October 11:
  • Braxton DeGarmo – Thrillers: "The Militant Genome," "Indebted," and more
  • T.W. Fendley – Zero Time
  • L.S. Murphy – author of “Reaper,” “Neighbors,” “One More Day,” and “A Reason to Stay”
  • Connie Brown – “Simple Wisdom Nuggets"

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pam DeVoe: Plot & character are "wheels" that propel story along

Welcome to Pam DeVoe, a cultural anthropologist, who has long been interested in traditional China and has a PhD in Asian studies. With the support of a Fulbright dissertation grant, she lived a year in rural Taiwan studying traditional Chinese culture, which gave her additional insight and grounding in the historical Chinese narrative.

She has many non-fiction publications in anthropology, refugee and immigrate studies, and multi-cultural mediation. She has won awards from Saturday Writers, a chapter of the Missouri Writers Guild, and from American Pen Women for her poetry. In October 2013, her first novel, A Tangled Yarn, was published by Annie’s Publishers as part of their Creative Woman Mystery series.

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? In mysteries plot is essential. The story can’t wander; the scene must somehow feed into the mystery, either by providing clues or red herrings. No matter how beautifully written, if the scene doesn’t move the story forward, it has to be cut. So, plot gives structure to the story; however, character development is also essential to a successful tale. Without engaging characters, readers won’t bother finishing the novel because they won’t care what happens. Characters and their relationships raise the emotional tension of the story. Plot and characters are the wheels, similar to those on a bicycle, which propel the story along. They are equally important and I try to always keep that in mind as I write.

What inspired your latest book? Currently I am working on a young adult historical adventure/mystery trilogy (the Mei-hua series), which I hope will be out late this year or early next year. It is set near the beginning of China’s Ming Dynasty in 1380, a year of immense changes with terrifying consequences.

But, your question is: what inspired me to write historical trilogy—rather than the contemporary mysteries I have been writing?  China is constantly in our news. The country has gone from unimportant to us—because it was internally oriented and relatively poor economically—to a global power and one of our major trading partners. Our economic well-being is thought to be tied to it, yet we know little about China, its history and its culture.

We can’t understand the present unless we understand the past. And that’s as true for other countries as for our own. Well-written and accurate historical fiction, mysteries or adventure stories, can help fill this gap. My hope is that, through my Mei-hua series, young people will develop a deeper understanding of this fascinating culture and its people. 

How much fact is in your fiction? Whether I’m writing a historical novel or a contemporary mystery, accuracy is critical. I research as much as I can—from a detail about how a particular rifle sounds when shot or how llamas behave or the proper ritual for a Daoist exorcism. Research means reading broadly on the topic but also, and maybe even more important, interviewing experts or relying on my personal experience. And, I must say, this is the part of writing that I most enjoy. In fact, it’s often hard for me to stop researching and get to my story! 

To me, fiction is as important as non-fiction in shaping the reader’s perception and, therefore, getting the facts right is essential. In my Mei-hua series, I steep myself in the history and culture of the time, but also use contemporary events that may inform those historical details. For example, I studied folk traditions and religion and am able to call on some of the experiences I had to create certain scenes.

Of course, the reader doesn’t want a dry history or exposition on details, such as gun use. Facts provide the story’s base but every story’s top priority is to entertain, to keep the reader engaged and turning the pages.   

What are your top three reasons for writingTruth be told, the first reason I write is because it’s fun. Yes, it’s a lot of work and some parts I like a lot more than others, but it’s a joy to create stories and bring characters to life.

Second, I want to take my readers on a journey. The journey may be to introduce a different culture and time period, as with my historical trilogy. It may be to explore our human nature and the consequences of our behavior. Or, it may be purely to spin a mystery to entertain and, hopefully, challenge the reader.

Third, because I am an anthropologist, I also use fiction to delve into the personal side of other ethnic groups and their cultures.  It’s an exploratory process for both me and the reader. And because I’m writing fiction, the exploratory process can include “what if” in a way non-fiction works don’t normally allow.

A TANGLED YARN -- Join Shannon McClain and the members of the Purls of Hope knitting circle in Apple Grove, Oregon, as they unravel mysteries that touch their lives and the lives of those they care about in the quaint coastal town.

In their sleuthing adventures the women will find danger, intrigue, and even romance. They will unearth dark secrets some would rather stay buried. But they will also make heartwarming discoveries that change lives forever.

Follow Shannon and her friends as they uncover clues and solve mysteries, and let their heart-pounding adventures keep you on the edge of your seat.

My debut novel A Tangled Yarn is a part of the Creative Woman Mystery series.  It is available through Annie’s Publishing’s book-of-the-month club.  You can get more information or sign up at:

My web site is I also interview Midwestern and Internationally-oriented mystery authors once a month for for the Greater St. Louis Sisters in Crime blog. The site is: