Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Joy of Holding My First Novel

Paperback:ISBN 978-0-9852490-0-7
Kindle: ASIN: B007WO1YXY
epub: 978-0985249021
It’s not quite the same magnitude as holding my son in my arms for the first time, but it’s still a rush. I’m taking a break from writing about other people’s true ghost stories, and my current work in progress (another dark tale of supernatural suspense,) to just say, wow! I’m sitting here in my office holding a copy of my first novel Shepherd’s Fall. It is a strange and wonderful sensation holding a book that contains my novel.

For me, the story is always alive in my mind, and to actually hold a physical manifestation of those fictitious events in my hands is odd and sometimes still catches me by surprise.

My son just turned twenty-one, and as a parent it is always amazing to watch your children grow into independent adults that are making their way out into the world to create their own lives. So it is strange to think of my book as taking a similar journey and now it is also going forth into the world.

While I will always be my son’s father, and my book’s author, they will both live on beyond me. How wonderful.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Helping Hand

I find that many of the ghost stories passed on to me are about seeing spectral apparitions or hearing strange unexplainable noises. However this story is different. In this case a family actually had an intelligent response from their ghost.

            The Carters, (again a fictitious name in order to protect the privacy of the innocent. sheesh.) bought an old house in Horsham Pennsylvania that dated back to the revolutionary war period.

            The family fell in love with the home from the first visit, despite the fact that it required a great deal of renovation. Up for the challenge, they purchased the house, moved in, and proceeded to commence with the improvements.

            Cue the eerie music; this is when the strangeness began. When the dad, Chuck, (Not his real name, but sounds cool like Chuck Norris.) would start working on a project he would lose tools. This happened on several occasions where he would set down a hammer, screwdriver, or saw, return to use it later and not be able to find it.

            On one occasion he lined a row of nails up on a ceiling beam so he could work his way along it nailing up a board in the ceiling. Before he could climb the ladder with the board, each of the nails, one at a time, fell off the beam and landed standing straight up on the floor.

            The spirit in the house seemed to delight in making it hard on the Carters to change or modify the house.

            After a few months of this, Chuck and his wife were frustrated. So Chuck decided to appeal directly to the presence in the house. He felt foolish, but he stood in their living room and explained to the empty space around him that they loved the house and wanted to take care of it.

            That ended the disturbances, at least the disruptive ones. Going forward Chuck found all his missing tools. It also seemed like the spirit now wanted to aid in the houses upkeep. On several occasions when Chuck required a certain length of wood he would find pieces that remarkably were an exact fit.
            Coincidence or a spectral helping hand?  I’m not sure, but at any rate the Carters were able to remodel the home that both they and their ghost shared a fondness for.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Interview with Dennis Royer

Mayan Calendars, Preppers, and Presidential Elections all have people thinking about change and possible disasters. Author Dennis Royer has tapped into this cultural undercurrent and mined a gem in his new dystopian novel Earthburst.
The United States of America reaches the tipping point where takers outnumber producers. They elect a charismatic president without really knowing who he is, a deranged president with an insatiable hunger for power who in a fit of madness plunges all of planet Earth into darkness. Scattered throughout the wasteland that was once America, isolated groups of women and men conspire to hold on to their humanity, rebels who must be rooted out and destroyed in order for the soulless regime to thrive. In a lonely Pennsylvania valley a naïve young man trundles face first into a storm of evil armed only with his faith and motivated by his love for a girl enslaved.

Dennis Royer has enjoyed a lengthy career in information technology as a programmer and network administrator. He began writing novels in 2000 as an artistic release from the unforgiving logic of bits and bytes. As a resident of rural Perry County, Pennsylvania, Dennis derives inspiration from his bucolic surroundings. His Perry County mystery novels center on the rural lifestyle and include mountain lions, rustic old inns, Native American culture, and buried treasure!
In a departure from the mystery genre, Dennis's latest novel, "Earthburst," is a post-apocalyptic saga set primarily in remote Tioga County, PA.

Having read and enjoyed all Dennis’s previous novels in the Perry County Mysteries Series, I was delighted to read an advance copy of his new novel Earthburst, and was blown away by the epic scope and plausibility of the terrifying future he envisioned. I recently had the opportunity to interview Dennis about his writing process, future plans, and new novel.

GRA: Why write a dystopian novel?
Dennis Royer: The dystopian / post-apocalyptic genre has always been my favorite as a reader, and I always wanted to write my own vision of what life would be like if humanity were stripped of modern technology and forced to live off the land. There are so many scenarios where something like this could happen that it's a real possibility. We've lost so much of our knowledge during the past century that it would be a real struggle to survive. Grocery stores carry only a 3 day supply of food. What happens when the food runs out? Would people cooperate and work together or would society rapidly degenerate into an everyman-for-himself mentality? My current novel, "Earthburst," has just been released this month and explores this issue.

GRA: At what point in your life did you realize you were a writer?
Dennis Royer: In what seems like a lifetime ago, I worked for a consulting engineering firm and was tasked with writing environmental assessments for local municipalities. Dry, boring stuff. At the time I thought I was handed this task because of being the new guy, but during my employee evaluation my boss told me that I wrote with "aplomb." Not knowing whether this was a compliment or a pejorative, I consulted a dictionary. When I found out it was praise, that ended up being the validation I needed to keep me writing.

GRA: Boxers or Briefs? Basically when an idea strikes for a story do you write by the seat of your pants all loosy-goosy like boxers, or do you outline and have more support for the story like briefs?
Dennis Royer: I'm definitely a pantser. I write a brief notes on no more than 2 or 3 pages covering how my story will start and end and the important plot points. I use these notes to keep myself centered, but my characters are the ones who tell their story, not me. I find that detailed outlines stifle my creativity.

GRA: What other genre that you haven’t written would you like to try?
Dennis Royer: I admire authors who can craft intelligent, literary fiction and consider it the highest art form in novel writing. For example, stories like Kathryn Stockett's, "The Help" or Khaled Hosseini's, "The Kite Runner" are inspiring and enduring. I aspire to someday write a literary novel of this caliber.

GRA: What other authors do you read?
Dennis Royer: Lisa Gardner. Her novels are sick and twisted. That's why I like them. I also like Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child. There are so many others. I read or listen to audiobooks about 50 novels a year. I prefer fast paced, plot driven fiction. Oh, and there's a new guy named George Appelt who is getting ready to release his debut novel. I'm really looking forward to that one.

GRA: What is your writing schedule like?
Dennis Royer: I'm a seasonal writer and am most productive during the winter months when it's mostly dark outside. There are too many distractions during the summer. I prefer to write in the afternoon and evening since I have never been an early riser.

GRA: Where is your favorite place to write?
Dennis Royer: My house has a dedicated office where I do all of my writing. Two of my four walls have floor-to-ceiling bookcases loaded with books from my favorite authors. Having all of those friends around me is an inspiration. I close my office door to block out noise and write in the quiet. Playing music is a distraction and frightens away the muses.

GRA: Can we look forward to another book in the Perry County Mysteries Series?
Dennis Royer: I wrote four Perry County Mysteries in four years and had to step away from it to avoid series fatigue. As a reader, I get disappointed when an author keeps a series going long after the ideas run out and the work becomes stale. I didn't want to do that to my readers, although I'm often asked by them when the next installment is coming. "Earthburst" has been a welcome change of pace, and now that I've had a break I might revisit the Perry County series. For all of you Kindle fans out there, I definitely intend to release Kindle versions of this series during 2012.

GRA: Who influences your work?
Dennis Royer: My writing is influenced by a combination of authors. I refer to them as my brain trust: Stephen King for his vivid imagination, James Patterson for his short, fast paced chapters that end in cliff hangers, Ken Follett for his prose, Charlaine Harris for her humor, and Scott Sigler for his fearlessness and marketing savvy.

GRA: What has been the most bizarre experience in your writing career?
Dennis Royer: I had two weird things happen to me on the same day at the same book signing event. A truly memorable day. One guy walked up to my table and asked how he could get published. All of you who are authors know how impossible that question is to answer succinctly. I gave him some vague response and the guy got hostile. He said something like this, "You authors are all alike, holding back your secrets to success. You just don't want to let me in on the game. You OWE it to me to answer my question." Sheesh, I thought he was going to grab my shirt collar and shake me. I finally got rid of him, and a short time later another guy plopped his manuscript on my table and insisted that I read and critique his story about a colony of insects living on an alien world, and by-the-way, the insects also happened to be born again Christians. Needless to say, with those distractions I didn't sell many books.

GRA: What’s next?
Dennis Royer: With the release of Earthburst, I'm in the process of lining up a book tour for this summer and look forward to meeting with my readers. After that, I'll be on hiatus for about a year to take care of personal commitments that have been piling up. Don't worry, though, I'll be back. I have a lot of stories in my head that need to come out. Stay tuned for updates at my website:

Thanks to Dennis Royer.
For action, mystery, and suspense keep an eye on this talented writer. And pick up a copy of Earthburst today, it is available in trade paperback and Kindle versions from, or order from your local bookseller using this ISBN number: 978-1469969435.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Assassin’s Code Book Launch Party

Another fun book event.
I picked up my copy of New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry’s new Joe Ledger novel: Assassin’s Code last night at the book launch party at the Doylestown Bookshop. And I can’t wait to start reading.
Once again I’m impressed with another excellent independent bookstore. The Doylestown Bookshop was hopping last night, as customers perused its interesting and eclectic selection of merchandise, as was Doylestown itself. I never realized what wonderful atmosphere the town possessed at night with its Victorian architecture lit by the glow of streetlamps, inviting restaurants, and retail shops. It felt like a mini-vacation attending Jonathan’s book launch party.
Of course it is always a pleasure to meet up with Jonathan, not only is he a talented author, but he is truly a great guy.
I’ve been looking forward to book number 4 in the Joe Ledger series, and of course I’ve been keeping busy reading Dead of Night, another of Jonathan’s books while I waited for Assassin’s Code, and wow, if you want to read a truly haunting zombie book, then pick up Dead of Night.
As always, the artwork on the cover of Assassin’s Code is fantastic, and it made a spectacular cake. It’s awesome to live in a time when covers can be reproduced in sugar with photographic quality. Check out the picture.
One of the great joys of writing that I didn’t anticipate is meeting other authors and watching as their careers grow. I expect many more great tales from this master story teller.

Check out Jonathan at:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Interview with T. M. Crone

T. M. Crone received her PhD in Molecular Biology before the turn of the century and a B.S. in Horticulture sometime before that. That's why you'll find plants and other scientific dogma piled not so deeply throughout her stories. She lives in central PA with her family where she teaches Biology, Physiology, and whatever else the local colleges throw her way. A nature freak by design, she loves all things natural, with the exception of spiders. You can find her at,

SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS: An Anthology of Scifi, Fantasy and other Strange Tales, is a culmination of her previously published short stories whose themes vary as much as the characters. It is available in
print and Kindle format at

Explore the strange and endless possibilities of the future. How desperate will humans become? Where will exploration, science and politics lead us? What will be the warning signs of the end? Regardless of where you go to seek answers--a distant moon, the back streets of a dystopian society, a grave--the stories within these pages will keep you wandering.

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing T. M. Crone.

GRA: At what point in your life did you realize you were a writer?

T.M. Crone: I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but life takes you down paths unexpectedly. I made a lot of detours, but quite frankly I didn't know HOW to be a writer back then. I was an avid reader of science fiction at a very young age, and I always thought "I can write a better story than that." I would write little stories on sheets of paper and bury them in my backyard, thinking that some day when humans were extinct and alien from another planet would unearth it and read it. Eventually I focused on what was important to me, and that was writing.

GRA:When an idea strikes for a story do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

T.M. Crone: I don't believe in formal outlines. I think they are stilted verse and a waste of time. I used to write by the seat of my pants, but that proved to be difficult, and sometimes after I've written 10s of thousands of words I sat back and said, "what was I thinking?" Now I think through things and write down a few pages of simple sentences "outlining" the progression of my story. Although the story plot takes twists and turns I hadn't anticipated, the words flow much faster and I don't find myself stuck at a dead-end.

GRA:What other genre that you haven’t written would you like to try?

T.M. Crone:
Writing speculative fiction seemed a no-brainer to me, since scifi/fantasy had been such a huge part of my early years in every way, so I haven't given it too much thought. However, there is a story or two bouncing in my head dealing more with medical supernatural themes, and someday I'll write them down. I like dark literary works, like Janet Fitch's novel, Paint it Black.

GRA:What other authors do you read?

T.M. Crone: I have so many favorite authors. My all time favorite current writer is China Mieville. He's brilliant, what more can I say. Brent Weeks, Karen Miller and Neil Gaiman are way up there on the list. Octavia Bulter is another, but sadly, she has left us too soon. I love Janet Fitch, and although my taste leans toward speculative fiction, I would read anything she wrote. I've also read some great works by local writers such as Susan Gourley, Cate Masters, Mike Silvestri, Jon Sprunk, Dennis Royer and Eric Glick. And I here there's a great novel by George Appelt, Shepard's Fall, coming out soon! Can't wait for that one.

GRA:What is your writing schedule like?

T.M. Crone: It's almost impossible for me to have a writing schedule. Between my teaching obligations and my children, sometimes there is little time. I write when ever I can, during the day when my kids are in school or late at night when everyone is asleep.

GRA:Where is your favorite place to write?

T.M. Crone: I have a great writing room with a fireplace and green walls. I am surrounded by reference books and novels written by my favorite writers. 

GRA: Do you ever tie your short stories together?

T.M. Crone: That I've never done. However, I have taken a secondary character from one of my short stories and given him a role in a novel. I love developing quirky, secondary characters. I think they are just as important as the main protagonist.

GRA: Who influences your work?

T.M. Crone: Hmmm... I don't know if there is a specific "who" but there certainly is a "what." I have been inspired by many female novelist, including Octavia Bulter and Karen Miller. They make strong, resilient, sometimes evil female protagonists that I love. In a genre that had been dominated for so many years by the works of male writers, it is refreshing to read scifi/fantasy whose female protagonists are not sex slaves or subservient bystanders. Old time scifi writers just couldn't get the female right, but that has changed.

As for the "what," I think every time I witness an event that doesn't sit right in my conscious, I come up with a story. The initial spark may not appear in the finished work, but sometimes it does.

GRA: What has been the most bizarre experience in your writing career?

T.M. Crone: I wish something bizarre WOULD happen. It would make things more interesting. There has been a few unexpected events. I once wrote a humorous fantasy short story centered around my father who had Alzheimer's disease at the time. The story itself would not give away that point, but when it was published I received an email from a friend asking for permission for her friend to use it in a class on Aging and Dementia she had been teaching. So, somewhere in North Carolina there are students reading my story.

GRA: What’s next?

T.M. Crone: I am in the midst of a few writing projects, including polishing a dystopian fantasy novel that I hope to query soon. I am 20,000 words into the writing of my third novel, a scifi story taking place between worlds.

Thanks to T.M. Crone.

To read more from this talented author you can follow her at:

And don't forget to pick up a copy of SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS at at