New Release from the World’s Strongest Man

Miracle FighterI am proud to announce the release of a fun, exciting novel written by “World’s Strongest Man” John Wooten.

Check out Miracle Fighter— a story of love, faith, and family —on Amazon. The book also features the art of cartoonist Dick Kulpa.

John has added writing to his many feats of strength.

John Wooten holds 143 world records as the “World’s Strongest Man.” He has pulled a train, lifted an elephant, and lain on a bed of nails while two men with sledgehammers demolished concrete blocks on his chest. In addition to his feats of strength, Mr. Wooten is an actor, producer, screenplay writer, jujutsu grandmaster, and judo professor, and has earned black belts in aikido and karate.

Congratulations to my dear friend and client, the World’s Strongest Man, on his new release.


Results: Writing for Publication Workshop

The workshop I led at the North Palm Beach Library was a great success. On the first day, we had six people, which was nice because everyone got a chance to share their work. Over eleven people showed up on the second day, and we all learned a lot. In the future, I’ll be planning workshops that focus on various stages of writing and publishing, such as penning your own blurb and synopsis, as well as working to market your work after its been published. Stay tuned.

Writers gather for the first day of the workshop.
Writers gather for the first day of the workshop.

Feeling rejuvenated

Last week, I had a dream about someone I’d never met. The very next day, I met the person in real life. My dreams have been very powerful, prophetic, and telling lately, providing insight, ideas for stories, and even brief escapes from reality. The nightmares haven’t ended, of course, but I’m grateful for even a short reprieve from those.

I’m filled with creative energy, bursting at the seams, and when I was able to change my perspective about the novel I’m currently working on, a few pieces fell into place, and I realized where I’d gone wrong. I ended up deleting at least three chapters, and removing the entire first section.

As I drove home in the pouring rain, I felt as if my father was sitting in the seat behind me, guiding me.

And I began a steady mantra to myself, a soft whisper in the back of my mind:

I will get an agent. I will sell a book to a big publisher. I will do it.

Because half the battle is the mindset. I’ve known this for many years, but it’s taken all that time to break out of the mold created for me when I was little, to shed the negative thinking I was brought up with.

I see where I made my mistake. I made my mistake when I believed the Voices I heard as a child, the ones that said I would never succeed. I made my mistake when I believed the people who scoffed at my dreams, crushing them like smoldering cigarette butts under their shoes. I see where I made my mistake.

Now I’m going to correct it.

New York Times Best Seller list, here I come.

Two Oceans
Two Oceans

Monday morning success story

I applied for a job editing children’s books, but I didn’t get it. However, I was one of fifty-seven applicants, and I made it to the top five. My editing sample was well-received!

This tells me that my work is paying off. I wanted to share that success story with my readers today. I hope everyone has an equally successful week.

Happy Monday!

Votes for Vixens

Review coming soon!

Elizabeth is a small-town Kansas girl who has grown up under her domineering father’s shadow. When she finds out that her father has denied her hand in marriage to the town’s most eligible bachelor–a man she’s long secretly desired–she snaps. Her father punches her for the last time. She realizes she has no future and with stories of suffragettes, women’s rights, and voting in her head, vows to be free.

She escapes to New York City where she meets Margaret. Margaret believes in the right to vote for women and engages Elizabeth to join in the National Women’s Party activities.

Operation: Opera House is underway. In a month’s time, President Wilson is due at the Metropolitan Opera House to give a speech. The NWP hopes that a peaceful protest will convince the president to gather congress in order to ratify the 19th Amendment.

As they prepare and plan, Margaret shows Elizabeth how to live and love. Under Margaret’s sensual touch, Elizabeth begins to heal from numerous emotional wounds. But on March 4th, 1919, their “peaceful protest” becomes a riot on the streets of New York.

A riot ensues in Elizabeth’s heart as well when her former flame shows up in the city.

About the Author

Tara Chevrestt is a deaf woman, former aviation mechanic, writer, and an editor. She is most passionate about planes, motorcycles, dogs, and above all, reading. That led to her love of writing. Between her writing and her editing, which allows her to be home with her little canine kids, she believes she has the greatest job in the world. She is very happily married.

Tara also writes as Sonia Hightower. Sonia writes the racy stuff and argues that she was here first. She just wasn’t allowed to be unleashed until the last year.

While Tara and Sonia continue to fight over the laptop and debate who writes the next book, you can find buy links, blurbs, and other fun bits on their website, or their Facebook page.

Buy Votes for Vixens on Amazon today. This book is wonderful! There will be a review posted soon– keep checking back!

Author Andrew P. Weston: If you had the power to make a difference . . . would you?

In a series of terrifying events, otherworldly beings intervene to save innocent lives. The world community reacts with relief as they realize that angels may in fact exist, and they are diligently protecting us.

But there are those who would seek to stop what they feel is a threat against their livelihoods. How far will some go to battle the Guardians? Is the fairy tale over before it even begins?

Guardian Angels is a powerful and compelling story about the catalyst that has the power to unite society in the hope for a better future. The spark of hope is fragile—can it last?

Welcome, Andy! Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in a little town called Bearwood in the UK. As the name suggests, it was an area of forests and woodlands and was all that remained of the once huge Forest of Arden of Middle-Ages fame. (Part of THAT was Nottingham Forest) . . . and we all knew who lived there. Ha-ha.

My family was 5th generation military– Royal Navy –and with that kind of heritage, it was a foregone conclusion which way my life would unfold. Despite being an avid sportsperson and also quite academic, I joined the Royal Marines. Life was “interesting” to say the least and I ended up serving in a number of specialist units. Just under nine years later, I joined the Police Service in the South West of the UK, and went on to serve in such diverse roles as a high speed pursuit driver, motorcyclist, and then later within Crime Intelligence.

Despite my gruff exterior, I love poetry, dancing and go all gooey with animals– but especially cats. An accident at work ended my career a little earlier than intended, but that gave me time to devote myself to the writing I’d wanted to do for quite a number of years.

Your background is really impressive! I’m sure you get a lot of ideas from it. What was the main inspiration behind Guardian Angels?

Bitter life experience. During my time in the military and my twenty-three years in the Police Service, I lost count of the incidents I had to deal with where someone’s life was changed forever by unexpected tragedy! Life is a very fragile thing, and “out of the blue” such things can strike when people least expect it, bringing untold calamity and suffering.

Attending those incidents often made me think, “What would have happened if we had got here sooner? Or if we had the resources or training to undo all this suffering and damage?”

That’s how the Guardian concept was born. The one accident that inspired me to actually put my thoughts together into a more structured form involved the death of a young boy on his way home at the end of a school day. Rush hour traffic is dangerous at the best of times. The scene was horrendous, as were the terrible sobs of the woman driving the vehicle he ran in front of. She was a mother herself, and her anguish was heart wrenching, even though there was nothing she could have done to avoid him. That’s why the opening chapter of Guardian Angels involves a young boy stepping out into the path of a truck. It describes what ALL the Emergency Service personnel there that day wish could have happened, had someone like a Guardian Angel been there to help. It describes what we’ve ALWAYS yearned to see for the people we serve. Can you imagine what it would be like if they were real?

What genre do you most enjoy writing?

I’ve always loved science fiction. I could read by the age of four and used to devour all the science fiction books in the library, so it’s inevitable I would gravitate towards that. However, now I’m getting my toe in the door, I’m discovering a bit of a “nose” for paranormal action / thrillers.

What is the easiest and most difficult thing about your genre? The easiest thing about those genres is the fact my warped and fragile mind is overflowing with ideas I want to get down in writing. The most difficult thing is to keep those ideas fresh. There’s a lot out there. I’m determined to make my stories different and appealing.

Who is your favorite character in your book, and what do you like most about him or her?

Commander Yasin. She’s based on my lovely wife. No-nonsense, stern, but with a quirky sense of humor. AT LAST I can get to tell her what to do! (Oooh, I’m gonna get it now!)

Do you get many of your ideas from your own life, or is your work mostly fictional?

While the concepts might be fictional– or a weird application of what I’ve experienced –I try to put as much of myself and what I know into the stories to add that anchor of realism. If it’s believable, people tend to relate to it more.

The science fiction of today is very often the science fact of tomorrow.

That is so true! How did you get started in publishing?

It took six months of research and preparation to get ready to start writing. Once I’d done it, I polished it, tweaked it– got it nearer to what you see now, and then submitted it to three publishers who didn’t mind multiple submissions. I got accepted almost instantly by two.

That’s a rare thing– congratulations! If you could share a tip for my readers about writing or publishing, what would it be?

Work with your editors closely! We are all influenced by life experience and can pick up habits that have become ingrained in us over the years. Our editors are there to take our little parcels of magic, and refine them into something cosmic. I have a tendency to wax lyrical. Thankfully, my editors have slapped my wrists and helped me begin to cut out the crap! I’m improving and so has the standard of my work. That can only benefit me and my stories in the future.

Thank you for visiting my blog, Andy!

Guardian Angels is available wherever books are sold, in both paperback and digital format. Buy direct from the publisher, or check it out on Amazon! It is a wonderful read.

Visit Andrew P Weston:

Website | Facebook | Blog

If You Follow Me

Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father’s suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. But in Japan, as she soon discovers, you can never really throw away your past . . . or anything else, for that matter.

If You Follow Me is at once a fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. Alive with vibrant and unforgettable characters—from an ambitious town matchmaker to a high school student-cum-rap artist wannabe with an addiction to self-tanning lotion—it guides readers over cultural bridges even as it celebrates the awkward, unlikely triumph of the human spirit.

This is one of the most delightful books I have ever read. I found it on the shelf at the library and could hardly put it down. Malena Watrous weaves a tale that we can all relate to. I was extremely touched by Marina’s journey after the death of her father, and her attempts to deal with her grief.

Divine messages come from the most unlikely of places. I often find that when I am dealing with something particularly trying, I happen upon a book that leaves me speechless and helps me to deal with whatever I am going through. If You Follow Me was one such book.

This past February, my father died. I am much too young to have lost my father. Although Marina lost her father to suicide, the death of one’s parent is still traumatic . . . especially since I only had three years to get to know my father. In many ways, Marina’s journey was my own. I am still dealing with the grief, and there are times when I break down.

I know my dad is here, watching out for me. In If You Follow Me, Marina sees her father in the strangest of places:

I don’t know how long I’ve been staring at the swarm of blue and white dots on the TV screen before they rearrange themselves into my father’s face, only that I’m not surprised when it happens. It’s like I’ve been waiting for this. “How did you find me?” I whisper, and the image flickers, disappears, then reappears.

Malena Watrous writes with a beautiful simplicity. Her writing found its way easily into my heart, reminding me of my own struggles. It’s funny how things come to us when we need them the most. In this case, it was this book. As a fiction writer, I know that I often wonder if anyone really “gets” anything meaningful out of my books. The thing is, you never really know when the words you write will be the words that someone else needs to hear. Thank you, Malena, for writing such a lovely book.

Encouraging children to read

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know very much about children. The extent of my knowledge comes from interacting with my little sisters, and observing the children who come into the library. For those of you who don’t know, I work in a library. (I am a mechanic disguised as a librarian—teehee.) All manner of children come into the library. Some of them are shy, some are rambunctious, and some would be better suited for a zoo. Many of them are glued to cell phones, or they just come in to play games on the computers. It is always refreshing to see a child who loves to read. The readers remind me of me when I was little. I grew up around books and always preferred reading over doing anything else. Here I am reading a newspaper:

Some of the parents have to argue with their children to get them to read. They seem to spend a lot of time convincing their child that a certain book is worth their time, or that it’s better than television. These parents seem disappointed when they leave, probably because they know their child won’t actually read the book when they get home.
Some kids come in of their own volition, pick up huge stacks of books, read them in less than a week, and return to find more. One small child was known to cry and throw a fit when she had to give up her books, her mother all the while attempting to explain the act of borrowing, and the fact that there were always more she could read and take home with her.

Some children know the library very well. They are quiet, they know exactly what they’re looking for, and they’re excited when they find it. Admittedly, these children are few and far between.

In the midst of my observations, I saw something that irked me.

As a child, I was encouraged to read everything. I spent most of my time in my grandmother’s living room, reading her books. She had James Michener, Shakespeare, the Collette series, and a number of classics. I loved these books. Many of them were old, and they had that “old book smell” that I adore. I loved cuddling up with them and drifting off into other worlds. I especially loved Shakespeare, even when I was little.

I suppose that’s why it bothers me when I see a parent tell their child, “You can’t read that. It’s too long. It doesn’t have enough pictures. It’s not your reading level. You’re not old enough.” I saw a little girl grab a chapter book in the Junior Fiction section, and her mother immediately snatched it away from her. “You can’t read that. You’re too young.” The material had nothing to do with it; it was like any other Junior Fiction chapter book. The girl’s mother thought it was too long.

That’s fine—maybe it was. Maybe the girl would have grown disinterested and wanted to read something else. Whether or not she would have lost interest wasn’t what had bothered me. What had bothered me was that her mother had said, “You can’t.
I grew up around books, but most kids are growing up around televisions and video games. Reading isn’t important to them. But when I see that spark of excitement in a child’s face—“Wow! I want to read this book!”—and it is quickly extinguished by a parent who quite possibly doesn’t realize how impactful the word “can’t” is, I am a little discouraged.

“Can’t” is a powerful word. “You can’t do that” is something that a child takes to heart.

“You can’t have a cookie before bedtime.”

“You can’t run in the house.”

“You can’t wear that outfit today.”

“You can’t read that book.”

There are many “you can’t” that a parent tells their child, most of them perfectly understandable. But if you tell a child that she can’t read a book—well, she just might apply that to any book. Tell a child she “can’t”—and she may well believe you.

The Hero Blog Hop: Alexis Nevid tells it like it is

Meet Alexis Nevid, private detective, and somewhat reluctant hero. Here she is, sitting at the Coral Reef Tavern, enjoying her favorite refreshment, whiskey on the rocks.

Alexis is a loner, but she has one good friend: Frank Gibson of the Witchfire Police Department. In Check Out Time, she is introduced as a somewhat mysterious woman of Native American descent, with a penchant for Cuban cigars.

She spends a lot of time in her little rented office, her feet propped up on the scratched surface of her desk, amid stacks of papers and piles of books. This is where she is introduced to readers, calmly waiting for an investigation to “fall into her lap”. When Spencer Whellaby, wealthy store owner, bursts into her office and asks for her help, she is thrown aback to discover that he wants to her to investigate a suicide.

Interestingly, I never meant for Alexis to become an important character. But I absolutely love her– she is tough, and she tells it like it is. She is reluctant to get involved in the lives of others, but she is strangely drawn to Naomi Vogler, the main character of Check Out Time, whose sad story touches Alexis’s heart.

Meet Alexis Nevid in my latest Mystery release, Check Out Time. I have a feeling she will be returning in future works. After all, although Alexis has a habit of disappearing when she wants to, she tends to reemerge when we least expect it.

Buy Check Out Time on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Available in print and e-book

Enjoy this short excerpt of Check Out Time . . . .

When Alexis didn’t want to be noticed, she had a talent for disappearing. As the sounds of the night settled in and bats fluttered in the overhang, Alexis sunk into the bench and became a statue—a part of the shadows. When the time came, she would be ready.

No one seemed the notice the dark shadow on the corner of a bench until it began to move, straighten, and become a human being. The night crew turned collectively and saw Alexis emerge from the darkness, smooth and snake-like, much like some denizen from another world.

“Where’d you come from?” Keith asked.

“I’ve been here,” Alexis explained. “I’ve been waiting.”

“Not for this . . . I mean, you didn’t know the power was going to go out, did you?”

“You’re quick, Mr. Ryan. I had a pretty good idea something was going to happen, but I didn’t know what. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” Alexis pulled a nine-millimeter out of a holster on her belt. “I believe there’s something in there waiting for me.”

“What’s going on?”

“I’ll tell you later.” Alexis walked toward the front door.

Thank you to my dear friend Brian’s father, Michael, for taking the Halloween photo of me and immortalizing Alexis.

Who’s your favorite hero? Reply to this blog post with your name and email. You will be entered to win a digital copy of Check Out Time. Good luck!

Beginning July 27 and ending on the 31, over 100 authors and bloggers will share their favorite things about heroes. And everyone is doing a giveaway, including me!

We have THREE grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 100 times!

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: A fantastic Swag Pack!

Enter to win! Remember to leave a comment.

Writers: What’s the most annoying question you’ve ever been asked about your work?

For me, the most annoying question is, “How much of your novel is autobiographical?”

If Taking 1960 were autobiographical, I would be a tormented artist with psychotic relatives, and an apparent talent for solving decade-old serial murder cases.

If Check Out Time were autobiographical, I would be a somewhat homely girl with admirably large biceps, grease stains under her fingernails, steel-toed boots, and a dog named Diesel.

I am not either of these characters, and it grows tiresome when people continually confuse my life with my fiction. I know this happens to other authors. I attended a book talk once where the author was discussing her stories, which were loosely based on events in her childhood. In the book, the character’s father was a negligent drunkard (or something to that effect) and people in the author’s family were wondering if she was slyly revealing long-kept family secrets.

In a way, the confusion can be a compliment. Perhaps I have created such a believable world that people can’t help but think it’s an expression of my own life.

It does cause problems, though. When my mother first read the book, she was very upset, and wanted to know why I had killed her off. It took a lot of explaining to make her realize that Naomi is not me, and Naomi’s mother is not my mother. I pointed out some very large differences: Naomi’s mother is curvaceous, short-haired, and enjoys baking cookies. My mother is none of these things.

How much of Check Out Time is real?

Well, mostly just my experiences. Initially, I came up with the concept when I was working overnight in a grocery store, and when I had just met my dad again in 2008. I made up Naomi, gave her some of my interests, and gave her a few situations that I was familiar with.

To me, “write what you know” means “write the sorts of things that you’re familiar with.” I think some people take the phrase too seriously. Especially with fiction, people wonder if the author experienced the same things as the main character, or if the main character is based on them.

For example, the latest gossip centers around E.L. James and Fifty Shades of Grey. Everyone keeps whispering, “You’d have to know a lot about that stuff in order to write it.”

So, does E.L. James have a BDSM dungeon in her basement? Maybe.

Did anything in Check Out Time really happen? Most of it didn’t.

Writers: What’s the most annoying question you’ve ever been asked about your work? 

Have you ever written anything with a particular goal in mind, only to have readers interpret it completely differently? How did this affect you? 

Leave a comment: I would love to hear your thoughts!