Category Archives: thriller

Reminder: 5th annual WD Popular Fiction contest


Nov. 2 deadline, 4,000 words or fewer; cash prizes!

Romance, Thriller, Horror, Mystery/Crime Fiction, Sci Fi/Fantasy

Entry and info HERE:

$15 online course! Writing P.I.s in Novels


I took a workshop from Colleen and Shaun this weekend at AuthorFest. They are REAL private investigators and Colleen has written COUNTLESS novels!

October 19-26, 2009: Crime Scenes, Homicides, & DNA ($15.00)
An introduction to crime scenes and homicide investigations (topics include key tasks covered by law enforcement, a general introduction to estimating time of death and types of wounds, and how a PI might be called upon to aid in a homicide investigation). Class concludes with a discussion of DNA, its testing, how it might be deposited by a suspect, and how it’s used in court proceedings. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: October 17, 2009

November 16-23, 2009: Surfing the Web & Digging for Dirt ($15.00)
Ways a sleuth uncovers data, from Internet/database searches to getting down and dirty in someone’s trash. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: November 14, 2009

December 14-21, 2009: Trials 101 ($15.00)
Writing a story with a courtroom scene and need to add some realistic touches? Or perhaps you’re fleshing out a trial attorney, or maybe just want a handle on a few terms for when your protagonist makes a court appearance? This class is an introduction to trials (U.S. legal system), outlining the key players in the courtroom, the history of trials, a few reasons why trials happen (as well as some wrong reasons trials happen, which could provide great story conflict), and ends with several examples of outstanding trials in books and movies. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: December 12, 2009

“Fear Drives My Writing” (“Dark End of the Spectrum” author Anthony S. Policastro)

Both of my novels, DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM and ABSENCE OF FAITH, both mystery/thrillers, were written out of fear, universal fears that I believe all of us consider at one time or another.
DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM is about Dan Riker, a computer security expert whose family is kidnapped by digital terrorists who take over the power grid and cell phone network and hold the United States hostage. Dan is the only one with the know-how to stop them, but the hackers have his family and he must decide to save his family or save millions of people.

While I wrote this book the fear of losing my own family pervaded my thoughts and I wrapped a plot around this fear using the latest wireless technologies and a lot of imagination. I still have my family and the thought of losing them is unimaginable. This was the fuel for DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM.

Dan’s life is well planned, predicted and uneventful like most of our lives and I wanted to see how Dan would react when all of that is shattered in an instant when his family disappears.

Does Dan have the courage to save his family or will he just give up because he never had to face such insurmountable odds? Will he save millions of people whose lives are threatened by the terrorists or will he save his family? The book is not just about technology.

These are some of the questions I addressed in the book and when or if you read the book you may ask yourself these same questions and maybe better understand your own capabilities.

ABSENCE OF FAITH also addresses universal fears when residents in a highly religious small town have horrible near-death experiences and wake up with burnt skin.  They believe they went to hell and that God has abandoned them. Matters get worse when a local Satanic cult emerges and wins over many residents.

My fears of losing all hope and all faith in the face of a downturn in life is what spawned ABSENCE OF FAITH. Again, I was interested in how people would react if you stripped them of all hope and faith. Would they pick themselves up and continue their lives? What would they do when this great fear overtakes them.

These are the questions I address in ABSENCE OF FAITH.

Bestselling author and psychic Sylvia Browne writes in her book, Prophecy, that, “…our beliefs are the driving force behind our behavior, our opinions, our actions. Without faith, without our beliefs, we’re lost.”

I have always been interested in religion and why and how it has such a powerful hold on all of us and what would happen if it were taken away.

I not only wanted my books to entertain, but I also wanted them to inspire, educate and leave readers with something to think about after they put the book down for the last time. I wanted the books to be relevant to people’s lives today and some of the problems we all face in the journey of life. I hope my books are that and more.    

Both DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM and ABSENCE OF FAITH are available as paperbacks from Outer Banks Publishing Group, and as ebooks from and the Amazon Kindle.
Both books will soon appear on Barnes and Noble’s new ebook site.

Visit my blogs for tips on writing, publishing, and books, WRITING IS ABOUT PUTTING YOURSELF TO WORDS and THE WRITER’S EDGE.

Interviews can be found at

The Lulu Blog
Ask Wendy – The Query Queen


Paying market for audio short stories


Read guidelines and submit through here:

Submissions open again on Aug. 1 for adventure, animal, historical, holiday, horror, humor, mystery, crime/PI, suspense and Westerns

10 QUESTIONS FOR…paranormal fiction author F.P. Dorchak


Author interview with F.P. Dorchak




photo by Kim Claybaugh

photo by Kim Claybaugh





I’m a tech writer and live in Colorado and I write gritty, realistic, paranormal fiction. No, not vampires, as “paranormal fiction” seems wont to mean these days.  We’re talking past lives, supernatural nastiness, remote viewers, and UFOs.  That kind of paranormal.  Anyway, I attended Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona, and studied physics, astronomy, German, and philosophy, and served seven years in the U.S. Air Force as a missile warning and satellite operator. I get up BEFORE the crack of dawn to work on my manuscripts, and recently acquired literary agent Cherry Weiner.  Cherry is currently shopping around my supernatural mass murder and UFO conspiracy machine manuscripts.


1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest manuscript is about an astronaut trapped within a damaged space station who gets caught up in the UFO conspiracy machine. I used a lot of real stuff from growing up in upstate New York to my time in the Air Force.  Yeah, there’s lots of made-up stuff, too, but I’m not telling what’s what.  :-]  It takes place in Colorado Springs, New Mexico, and New York.  Oh, yeah, and in Earth orbit.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’d love to say I was born with pen in hand, but a lot of mothers might cringe at the thought.  I started writing at the age of six, my mother tells me.  Wrote and drew about Civil War battles, because I felt I’d been a Civil War soldier (see my website for more information about…), but it wasn’t until about fourteen or fifteen that I actively began writing short stories.  I loved horror and the supernatural so wrote about flesh-eating tables, gargoyles, vampyres, and all-things weird.  I attended college and my writing went on hold, but I picked it up around 1986, and soon took a Writer’s Digest correspondence course, instructed by James Kisner.  I wrote a lot and read a lot.  Joined a couple critique groups for a few years (got kicked out of one cause of the nastiness I wrote), kept writing, and attended writing conferences. In 1993 took second in the SF/F contest at the first PPWC.  I have since been published in the US, Canada, and “the old Czechoslovakia,” now the Czech Republic, with over a dozen paranormal short stories in various small-press magazines, and self-published my first novel, Sleepwalkers, in 2001 (  Except for one review (, the rest are great. Can’t please everyone, huh?

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I come-to in the middle of some secluded Michigan back road (in my jammies), cut out that dang implant I can’t seem to get rid of for the umpteenth time, and hitch my way home.  Okay, not really.  Up at oh-dark-thirty, write for a couple hours before my day job.  Work like a dog for “The Man and Woman” (I have dual bosses–takes two to manage me, don’tcha know…).  Hit the gym later in the day, do whatever are the chores du jour, try to relax a little before bedtime, and start it all over again.  Yeah, baby, life is great!

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

A small home office with a couple whiteboards covered in items-o-interest, a wall with pictures and stuff from my time in the Air Force, family photos.  Earth and moon globes.  A corkboard packed with notes.  Shelves and floor space littered–I mean covered–with “research material.”  A small desk with my needed writerly machinations, and pictures of my adorable and charming wife (did I mention “adorable” and “charming”?).  An overstuffed filing cabinet.  WAY overstuffed.  I think it’s supposed to represent an analogy about me.  Or something.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Your standard Elements of Grammar and Strunk and Whites, but where’s the fun in those?  I devour books on Weird Shit (can I say that on our six-second delay?), like UFOs, past and future lives, NASA and Secret Society conspiracies, most works by Stephen King.  The mega volumes of the Seth material.  THERE’S some funky reading, my friends….

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

You don’t have enough already?

1) When I was a kid, I actually wrote an entire story around the OUTSIDE of our house.  Don’t worry, it was in pencil.

2) I attended acting and modeling classes with the John Casablancas Agency; attended “go-sees” (auditions) in the late eighties.

3) I believe I’ve lived before.  Many times.  (Like you didn’t see THAT coming?)

7. Favorite quote

We create our own reality.  TMI yet?

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

World creation.  God complexes.  Mega-use of the imagination.

There’s a downside to any of the above?!

9. Advice for other writers

What are you doing this for, huh?  Find your reason then pit-bull it to death.  There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no room in writing for the half-possessed.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Someone once told me that Sleepwalkers helped them remember their dreams…GOOD dreams, for a change…where for a long time had been nothing and nastiness, because of relationship abuse.  There was more to the conversation that I wish I could recall, but, man, I was dumbfounded.  It really affected me.  If I never sold another book, THAT particular one was more than worth it.  It actually HELPED someone.  My fiction helped someone through a dark, brutal period in their life.  Good Lord, how do you top that?  I think about that a lot.

Where can people buy your book?

I have some links to short stories and such on my website (, and every so often, I try to keep a semi-regular blog, also accessible from my website ( If you’re at all interested, stop on by and post a comment.  Take a crack at Sleepwalkers (, available from at my website or (cheaper at AuthorHouse–see link on site).  It may not change your life, like my one readers, but it might.  And it just might get you to think a little differently about life in general.  Bret Wright read it twice (read his two reviews, at–thanks, Bret!  And thank all of you for taking the time to read a little about me.


All Writing Helps All Writing

F. P. (Frank) Dorchak

SLEEPWALKERS (ISBN 0-75963-950-7)

10 QUESTIONS FOR…S.G. Kiner, author of the Susanna Sloane series


Author interview with S.G. KinerHongKongCoverKinerWebPic

I’m a full-time writer.  I was an executive in advertising and a former model.  I currently ghostwrite for securities attorneys and consults and testifies as an expert witness in securities arbitration hearings.  I have been published in numerous professional articles and journals.  I recently completed the sequel to The Hong Kong Connection.  I have two children and three grandchildren and live with my husband in Palm Beach, Florida.   

1. Tell us about your latest book.

“Political intrigue, suspense, romance, and a gutsy and beautiful protagonist create a well-crafted masterpiece of a novel in S.G. Kiner’s The Hong Kong Connection—A Susanna Sloane Novel.”

Susanna Sloane is a brilliant, beautiful and street-wise securities attorney.  A widow and grandmother of three, Sloane hasn’t lost her spunk or nerve, taking on the Chinese government, the big boys of Wall Street, U.S. government officials, the FBI, and the Russian mafia—some as foes and some as friends.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

When instructed to reduce the stress in my life after undergoing bypass surgery, I decided not to return to work full-time, but to write a novel.  My original concept was to fictionalize some of the more fascinating securities cases on which I have worked, but the characters took over. 

As a child I wrote short stories, but after college and law school, all I wrote was legal opinions.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

It depends on if a book is in edit.  If I’m composing, I like to be at my computer early, write all day (with the usual interruptions) and stop at five.  However, if I’m working with my editor, my time is usually governed by his schedule.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Dresden after the firebombing is an apt description.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I used to confine my pleasure reading to Ludlum, Forsythe, Fleming (I read all the Bond novels in sequence) and other writers of that genre.  As I got older I discovered Susan Isaacs and other female authors.  In 1996 I joined a literary club, and have been forced to expand my horizons to the classics, non-fiction, etc., and glad for it.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I’ve been married to the same wonderful, supportive husband since the age of eighteen.  Besides being an avid reader, I’m a gourmet chef, an expert knitter, and the silliest grandmother (so they tell me).  I love classical music, opera, and Broadway.  My family was in the clothing business in New York (my home town) and I love to shop.

7. Favorite quote

The greatest test of courage on earth is the ability to bear defeat without losing heart – Robert Ingersoll

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The frustration of finding a publisher and the joy of being published!

9. Advice for other writers


10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I had just written a graphic and steamy sex scene when my three adolescent grandchildren arrived.  Without realizing that it was still on the screen, I left my office to greet them, became involved with preparing lunch, only to discover all three at my desk – reading what was on the screen.

Where can people buy your book?, B&, :

 Want to win a free book? S.G. Kiner gives away one book a week through a random drawing on Facebook.  This is the page:

10 QUESTIONS FOR romance/mystery/thriller author Rod Summitt


Author interview with Rod Summittsecuredownload

Rod Summitt is a retired former Junior High School social studies teacher and retail manager.  He first tried a hand writing in the seventies.  While still teaching, he co-authored a mystery novel with another teacher.  That novel received some interest from two different publishers, but was deemed to be of insufficient length to publish.  Rod and his co-author said on several occasions that someday they would dig it out and try to expand it.  However, Rod left teaching for a management position in the hardware/home center field, and his co-author passed away.  Still, every once in awhile, Rod would say to himself that someday he would give writing another try.

A few weeks after he retired, Rod decided that “someday” had come.  He dusted off the manuscript from the mid-seventies and rewrote it.  He revised and expanded it.  With the blessings of the family of his co-author, Reunion with a Killer was rewritten with some new characters and numerous new scenes added.

After finishing that project, Rod decided to dive into another idea that had been lurking in the back of his mind for some time.  He wanted to try his hand at a mystery/romance.  As he started the story, he thought that he would weave a romance into a mystery story.  However, as the project evolved and reached a conclusion, When Pasts Collide, according to Rod, ended up being a romance novel with some mystery woven in.  His wife is steadfast in her belief that Pasts is a mystery with a little romance within it.  He now divides his time between more traditional mysteries and mystery/romance stories.

Rod lives with his wife of forty plus years, Joyce, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  He has three grown children and eight grandchildren.  He is an avid fan of professional football, baseball, and hockey.  He has been an enthusiastic reader and collector of mystery novels since his early teens.  His home library contains well over four hundred and fifty novels from a variety of authors including complete or nearly complete collections of Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, Emilie Loring, Margaret Truman, Dorothy Gilman, Sue Grafton, Catherine Coulter, Janet Evonovich, Jill Churchill, and Lilian Jackson Braun.

Rod spent his childhood in Muscatine, Iowa, and moved to Lafayette, Colorado at the start of high school.  After a hitch in the Navy, mostly at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor Hawaii, Rod returned to Colorado to attend college at Colorado State College (now University of Northern Colorado) in Greeley.  He has lived in Colorado Springs since graduation from college.

Rod also enjoys traveling around the United States whenever he can.  He combines being a tourist with research for his fiction writing.  He is the author of four novels: When Pasts Collide, Reunion with a Killer (with Richard Edgerton), The Nurse and the Deputy, Return to Paradise, and New Beginnings.  All of them have either been published or scheduled to be published by the Crystal Dreams division of Multi-Media Publications.  He is currently at work on two more.finalcover

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is The Nurse and The Deputy, a romance/suspense.

Summary: When nurse Diane Rodgers moved to the Tri-County Area of Eastern Colorado, she was not looking for a new romance.  She was only looking to escape the heartache of her broken relationship with Dr. William Stevenson.  Although she had lived her whole life in Chicago, she quickly adapted to the small town life in Tri-County.

Deputy Sheriff Shawn White met Diane in his official capacity on her first day in the area, but quickly decided he wanted to know her personally not professionally.  His early attempts to cultivate a relationship were carefully parried by Diane, but soon his persistence appeared to be paying off.  However, a misunderstanding drove a wedge between them.

When Diane found herself in a crises situation and in need of help from Shawn in his official capacity, they found that they must also confront their personal relationship head on.

 2. How did you get started as a writer?

I started writing seriously after I retired from retail management in 2004 although I had wanted to write for years.frontcover_j1

3. What’s a typical day like for you?

I couldn’t say that I have a typical day—my wife and I are both retired except for my writing and we kind of just take each day at a time—we try ti make it to the gym or take a long walk at least four days per week, sometimes more.  Some days I work hard at spoiing grandchildren.  I don’t write according to any schedule.  I mayon one day write for six or seven hours, and one day not at all.  Probably my average is two-three hours; three-four days per week.

4. Describe your workspace.

I have a corner desk, 6′ by 5′ wit my PC facing into the corner, an unabridged dictionary to my left a thesarus and other reference books to my right.  I have a card table for notes, other reference materials like an atlas.  The walls to my left and right contain numerous pictures of family and friends and special places.

5. Favorite books?

My favorite books–boy, that’s a hard one as I am a prolific reader–see bio–I’ll say The Promise, by Danielle Steel, McCullough’s bio John Adams (my hero), and Seven Days in May by Knebel & Bailey.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you:

Well, shortly after getting married, I lost my wedding ring playing football with a coconut in the surf in Hawaii (after several beers–OK maybe more than several); I proposed to my wife on our first date and then later that evening when introducing her to some friends, couldn’t remember her last name [I intended to change it anyway]; one time when I was teaching Jr. High, I stopped at the scene of a pile-up in a snow storm on my way home on Halloween dressed as Captain America to try to assist the policeman who was being overwhelmed with the situation — He yelled, “Get back in your car.  I have enough problems already!”

7. Favorite quote?

Easy—–“There is no sense in being stupid if you can’t show someone.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer?

Best thing about being a writer – You get to live in different worlds, the real world and the worlds you create.  I guess the worse thing is sthe frustrations you encounter trying to get published.

9. Advice to writers?

Never give up.  My second published novel, Reunion with a Killer, a mystery/suspense, was first co-written with a friend in 1973, but we were unable to get it published.  When I retired, I re-wrote some of it and started submitting it around with no success.  Finally, after my first novel, When Pasts Collide, a mystery/romance, was published, Reunion was accepted and was published in 2006, thirty-three years later.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Sort of goes with above. I had been sending Reunion to publishers for over a year and Pasts for about four months.  I had baskets of rejections.  One Tuesday I received a rejection for Reunion from Crystal Dreams Publishing, and the next day I recieved an acceptance from Crystal Dreams for Pasts.


B.  My books can be purchased direct from the publisher at or from Amazon, B& or special ordered from any bookstore.  The last I knew, they were available in stock at Beth Anne’s Book Corner, and Barnes&Noble Citadel.  My website is

10 QUESTIONS FOR political thriller novelist Karna Small Bodman


Author interview with Karna Small Bodmankarna_bodman-1final_finesse_arcgambit_rev_comp

Author of: CHECKMATE, GAMBIT and FINAL FINESSE (Political thrillers – with a romantic twist)checkmate_rev

I was on the air for 15 years as a TV news reporter and anchor in S.F., L.A., and D.C and did political commentary for the ABC Network in NY. Then I served in The (Reagan) White House for 6 years – first as Deputy Press Secretary and later as Senior Director of the National Security Council. Now I’m writing political thrillers where I weave many of those White House experiences into the stories. Each novel deals with a different national security crisis and features scenes where I had worked – inside the Situation Room, the Oval Office, on Capitol Hill as well as hotspots overseas.

When I researched my first book, CHECKMATE, several years ago, I was trying to figure out who the “bad guys” were going to be – and I researched a (then) obscure terrorist group operating in the (disputed) Kashmir region between India and Pakistan. The group was Lashkar-i-Taiba.  And I wrote about how they were planning attacks in India, among other things. Then just last Thanksgiving, it turns out, that this was THIS VERY Lashkar group that did attack Mumbai and has been training terrorists (including the “shoe bomber”) around the world. Boy – it was like “déjà vu all over again.

The main characters reappear in GAMBIT. I had used chess terms for those two books, but when I created some new characters for the third book, I decided to use terms from the game of bridge. So the new title – out May 12 – is FINAL FINESSE.

1.    Tell us about your latest book.

FINAL FINESSE features a heroine who is Deputy Director of the White House Office of Homeland Security.  When several of our natural gas pipelines are sabotaged, causing havoc throughout the heartland during a harsh winter, she teams up with the VP of the company that owns the pipelines to try and find the perpetrators and stop their deadly schemes. A love interest develops but when he is sent on a seemingly simple business trip to South America, he disappears. Now our heroine must deal with international plots, political intrigue and problems at the highest levels to try and find him and also stop a team of foreign agents before they complete their final assault.

2.    How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve always been writing (started writing poetry in the 8th grade) In my various jobs, I wrote TV scripts, newspaper columns, magazine articles and briefing papers for the President. But there was a premium on brevity. However, I always wanted to write a novel, though now I find this is a completely different challenge: how to take an idea and expand it to 400 pages! It took a while to expand my brain to do that.

3.    What does a typical day look like for you?

There really is no “typical day,” although I’m always on the look out for research for the next novel (I read 4 newspapers a day and clip articles all the time) Right now I’m working on marketing/publicity for the launch of FINAL FINESSE. Many of my author friends say that they have to spend about 25% of their time writing and 75% marketing – unfortunately, that seems to be the case – especially in these tough economic times. After all, with over 200,000 books (of all kinds) coming out each year, you have to work awfully hard to let the public know about your story.  I have been fortunate though because I’ve now given over 150 speeches to various groups around the country – to spread the word. I find that having a “captive” audience is a wonderful way to tell others about your work – then hopefully most of them will decide to buy the novel right there on the spot.

4.    Describe your desk/workspace.

We actually live in three different places. We spend the winters in Naples, Florida where I have an office in the house looking out at Naples Bay. Watching the boats go by and seeing dolphins swimming right off our dock can be an inspiration, or sometimes a deterrent to working hard.  We spend spring and fall in Washington, D.C. where I do a lot of my research – interviewing government officials (who are usually happy to talk to an author, whereas they may not be as enthusiastic about talking to a daily reporter). I also drive around and double check all my settings, streets, restaurants and places where I want my characters to live.  We spend our summers out in Jackson Hole where I have a desk set up in our Great Room and look out a big window at the Tetons.

5.    Favorite books (especially for writers)

I have always loved Nelson DeMille’s writing – well, most of his books, starting with CHARM SCHOOL many years ago.  I also enjoyed PLUM ISLAND and GOLD COAST.  Katherine Neville is a world-famous author who sold millions of copies of her great novel THE EIGHT – it’s terrific. And I also have been inspired by former CIA agent, Charles McCarry who wrote SHELLY’S HEART.  For current thriller heroes, I do like Vince Flynn’s books.


6.    Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

(1) I was scheduled to be in the car with White House Press Secretary Jim Brady on March 30, the day of the assassination attempt on  President Reagan and only stayed back at the office at the last minute. I would have been standing right next to Jim when John Hinkley fired those 6 shots in 3 second, combat style with two hands – injuring the President, Jim and others on that fateful day. (2) I still like to write poetry and lyrics. I recently wrote the lyrics to a country song – and wish I could find someone in Nashville to put the words to music.  And (3) When I was growing up, I saw tons of old movies starring Esther Williams – and always wanted to be like her. Even now, I swim laps every day. Of course, there is absolutely no physical resemblance (especially in a bathing suit).

7. Favorite quote

From George Bernard Shaw who said, “The best way to get your point across is to entertain,” (which is exactly what I’m trying to do with my novels).

7.    Best and worst part of being a writer

Best part is being your own boss and being able to say whatever pops into your head.  Worst – or hardest part – is having to work so hard to market/publicize my work.  Then again, once we authors build up a reader base (after several novels), we hope to one day make the NY Times bestseller list and then focus a majority of our attention on creating the next good story!

8.    Advice for other writers

Go to writers’ conferences. I’m a member of several great writers groups, e.g. Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America among others. They all have great meetings at annual conventions and all have local chapters where other authors and speakers offer encouragement, critique groups and all kinds of support. Also, in terms of the big conferences – that’s where the editors and agents go to meet the new writers. That’s how I met my editor – at a writers’ conference!

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I remember sitting at a table with my books stacked up for a signing at Reagan National Airport on a Friday from 5:00 – 8:00 PM. All the passengers were racing by catching flights or rushing home so it was kind of tough to sit there and just hope someone would stop and buy a book.  Finally, one guy who had time to kill between flights came up and started leafing through my book.  He read the cover copy and exclaimed, “Oh my God! You worked at The White House. This is my lucky day. It is absolute providence that we would meet tonight.” I thought, Geez…what now? He then went on to say that he was a scientist and he had invented a whole new program for stem cell research, but he couldn’t get anyone in the government to pay attention. So he was going to email me ALL his research and he expected me to give it to the President! Hmmm.

Where can people buy your books?

I hope people will stop by my website: and check out the books, the background, the photos and the contact/events page where they can see my email address and be in touch to chat if they wish. Also, they can send me a note with their address and I will mail them autographed bookplates.  All of my books are available through the website (at a discount from Amazon) and are also available at major book stores around the country.  FINAL FINESSE should be on the “New Release Tables” at Barnes & Noble – at least in the major markets and hopefully will also be available at Borders and independent book stores.

Interview with Bram Stoker winner – Steve Burt, “The Sinister Minister” (YA horror)


Yep, this is my dad. And I’ve decided to keep his post up for one week because I’m teaching at the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference next week and won’t have time to post a new author every day. I’ll still try to post some new contests during the week, so check back or follow me on so you’ll know when the contests go up.

Author interview with “The Sinister Minister”thesinisterministersteve

 Rev. Dr. Steve Burt, a.k.a. The Sinister Minister, has won the Bram Stoker, Ray Bradbury, and Benjamin Franklin Awards. In addition to horror and mystery/suspense, he writes church leadership books, inspirational books, devotional material, and has published hundreds of pieces in such venues as Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, Yankee, Family Circle, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He’s the father of writing authority Wendy Burt-Thomas (Writer’s Digest Guide to Writing Query Letters) and grandfather to Ben and Gracie. In February 2009 he was profiled in Connecticut Magazine (“The Sinister Minister”). His book Even Odder was a runner-up to Harry Potter for the 2003 Bram Stoker Award, and his Oddest Yet won it in 2004 (Young Reader category), the first self-published book to do so.




1.  The major TV stations and Connecticut Magazine recently profiled you as “The Sinister Minister” for being the clergyman who won the world’s top horror award, the Bram Stoker. That’s a joke, isn’t it?

No, it’s the ironic truth. After 30 high-profile years in my primary vocation as a pastor, national lecturer, and writer of church leadership books, articles, and inspirational pieces (like for Chicken Soup for the Soul), the spotlight was suddenly shined on my low-profile avocation as a closet writer of horror and dark fiction when Oddest Yet won the Bram Stoker Award. Funny thing is I was nearly outed the year before when Even Odder was runner-up to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter in the young readers category. So now people come up to me when I’m autographing books at arts & crafts shows and exclaim, “I know you. You’re The Sinister Minister.” The accidental branding was serendipitous for me.


2.  Your output is impressive–a thousand shorter pieces in print, over a dozen books, not to mention cranking out a sermon the length of a mid-length short story or article each week—all while working as a pastor and national lecturer on small church issues. And you say you manage to read a book or two a week. When do you ever find time to write?oddlotlb

When do doctors and lawyers find time to play golf? How do other people carve out time for bowling leagues? We find time for what we’re passionate about. I’m passionate about writing. I only watch three TV shows a week—LOST, Desperate Housewives, and Two and a Half Men (oh, and the UConn women’s basketball team), while most people spend hours either watching TV or simply channel checking. I don’t channel check, and that alone must save me twenty hours a week. If I can get three hours a day in for five or six days or nights a week–at only 3-6 manuscript pages per sitting—that’s a minimum of 15 pages a week, and a maximum of 36. Do the math. Pages pile up.


3.  How did you get started as a writer? What were your influences? evenodderlb

My fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Youngs kept me after school for being a chatterbox; and instead of making me clean the erasers or write “I will not talk in class” until my hand fell off, she had me write stories, and then she’d critique them. I also read voraciously—comics, weird magazines, mysteries, whatever I could get my hands on from the school and public libraries: The Mushroom Planet, William O. Steele’s frontier adventures like Buffalo Knife with their young protagonists, stories of the Norse, Roman, and Greek gods, Sir Walter Scott Ivanhoe, Daniel DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Stephen Crane, everything in the Weekly Reader and Scholastic books-to-buy programs (my classmates and I traded). Before I hit my teens I had read The Odyssey, The Iliad, The Aeneid, Poe, O Henry, Twain, DeMaupassant, Saki, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley. The last thirty years I’ve really enjoyed work by old seminary neighbor Stephen King, Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series, James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books, Tony Hillerman, John Sandford, Sue Grafton, and Thomas Perry. That’s the tip of my reading iceberg. And I read a lot of theology, too.


4. Your stories sometimes fall under horror, but they’re not gory. How would you describe them?oddestyetlb

Horror Lite, some supernatural adventure, a few paranormal mysteries like my Devaney and Hoag stories. Right now I’m writing a young adult novel that falls under “realistic fantasy.” While my work appeals to young readers and adults alike, just as Harry Potter does, I lay off the gore, preferring Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock off-camera approaches. And I like character-driven stories rather than plot-driven ones, so mine have far less dependence on shock or special effects. Myself, I’m sorry horror literature took the turn toward splatterpunk and gore in the early seventies with movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street, because they de-emphasized good writing. That may be why I read a lot of what my Brit colleagues call “weird fiction,” the high quality stuff you get from Ash Tree Press and The Ghost Story Society.


5.  Have you always self-published? If not, what made you decide to do it? 

No, I wrote church leadership books for traditional publishers like Judson Press and Alban Institute. But making 3% to 6% on a $10-$13 book that has a first run of 2,000-3,000 books isn’t very rewarding monetarily. They changed my titles, insisted on covers I didn’t like, and—in one case—had a 3 year delay before the book came out. And I had to do all the p.r. myself anyway. I’d rather run 2000 of my own books (from final manuscript to published product in 3 months) for $2-$5 cost apiece, and sell them at fairs and public readings for $15 a book. Other than I don’t even bother with bookstores or distributors. When I did have a distributor, I sold fewer than 1% of my books through bookstores, and the store and distributor made all the money. I mean, by producing books myself, meeting my audience face-to-face (young readers), and selling direct to my market (teens, parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians), how many copies do I have to sell per year to beat the money offered by those “real” publishers? I owe this realistic approach to self-publishing guru Dan Poynter, author of The Self Publishing Manual, whose weekend course I took.wickedoddlb


6. Any advice for those considering the self-publishing route?

         Yes. If you can’t devise a concrete, workable, realistic plan for getting your book in front of (#1) your audience, which in my case is mostly teens, and (#2) your market/buyers, which in my case is parents, grandparents, and teachers–don’t write it. Or at least, don’t pay the money to self-publish it. Once you’ve given the first 10-50 copies of your press run to family and friends, who will purchase those books (cases of them!) stored in the attic? And don’t think you’ll get them sold through bookstores or online, because you still have to do the PR and marketing to drive customers there to ask for them (if you can even get those bookstores to stock them).


7. Do you have to deal with writer’s block?coverlb

Hah! Every week I first have to deal with sermon-writer’s block. So I just sit down and start. My congregation wouldn’t like it if I stood up on Sunday morning and said, “Sorry, no word from God this week.” That pressure, and the discipline I’ve developed by producing an 8-10 page, double-spaced manuscript each week, has helped me write fiction. I usually just sit down and apply myself. (And I have a large sign above my monitor that says “Writers write. I am a writer.”

A side story about writing process. After Odd Lot won a Ben Franklin silver medal for Best Mystery/Suspense Book in 2001, I felt the pressure to beat that with my next collection. So I wrote and rewrote the first lines, first paragraphs, and first pages of the opening story for Even Odder. Damn! Writer’s block! Dead end! A month of it! Finally my writing-authority/editor/daughter Wendy Burt-Thomas (Writer’s Digest Guide to Writing Query Letters) advised me to free myself up by shifting from the write/edit side of the brain to the storytelling side. I got a mini-cassette tape recorder with headset mouthpiece and from scratch orally created a story every day while on an hour’s walk with my dog. At the end of 43 days I had 43 stories, some very bad. But I transcribed the best 15 to MS Word, edited on-screen, and published Even Odder (not a great book, but runner-up to J.K. Rowling for the Stoker). I didn’t write the book, I told it. We may not all be good at writing stories, but everyone tells them.


8. Do you have any funny stories? unkslb

Yes. Oddest Yet, won the 2004 Bram Stoker by outpolling Dean Koontz and Jeff Marriotte, and tying Clive Barker’s Abarat (a terrific book). After getting drubbed in New York by Rowling the year before, I figured an unknown minister with an unknown self-published story collection had no chance against the biggies, so I opted to skip the black-tie ceremony in Burbank, California. But my L.A. agent, always looking for photo ops with the biggies, attended, and at 2 a.m. my time phoned. “Guess what?” she teased. “You won the Stoker.” I was still pretty much asleep and had to preach the next morning, so I muttered “Shit” and went back to bed. The Stoker arrived via UPS that week (a haunted mansion modeled after Poe’s House of Usher), and I placed on the altar above my fireplace. After two weeks of kissing it goodnight at bedtime, I eventually noticed the little door in its front and opened it. It had Clive Barker’s name inscribed there for Abarat! He’d walked off the Burbank Hilton stage with my Stoker! After a mediated hostage exchange, Clive graciously and apologetically surrendered my trophy and I returned his. (Apparently he hadn’t thought to open his little door, either). Afterwards, when I told my author/daughter/capitalist Wendy, she emailed, “Are you nuts, Dad? Clive’s is worth a lot more than yours on eBay.” Kids are here to keep us humble, right?

Dad with the Bram Stoker Award

Dad with the Bram Stoker Award

9. What advice do you have for new writers?

Read, read, read—for enjoyment and to learn. Write, write, write anything you can–sermons, newsletter articles, jokes, anecdotes, devotional material, poems, cartoon captions, recipes, anything—but especially stories short and long. Write what you like. Submit stuff. Publish even if sometimes there’s no money but only a contributor’s copy. My first horror stories went for no-pay and low-pay, but I gave away only one-time rights, then later collected them into Odd Lot (almost all reprints from those low-pay and no-pay small magazines and zines); it then went on to win awards and made me some money. That’s contrary to what you hear from most writing-advice columnists who are selling nonfiction and advise you not to ever let it go unless you get paid for it. Learn from writing-related magazines and books. Learn from rejections (I had a thousand before an acceptance), then submit again and again. Publish your own stuff if you have to, but make sure you know your audience (for me it’s teens), your market (for me it’s their parents and grandparents and teachers), and how you can get it to the buyers. As my old neighbor Stephen King said: writers write, wannabes wannabe.


10. What books do you recommend fiction writers read?

Everything in their favorite fields or genres, then beyond that. I gobbled up hundreds of romances for awhile to see if I wanted to write them (which I didn’t). But even though I chose not to write them, I learned a lot about character development, plotting, and how to begin and end a chapter. Oh, and there are two absolutely essential primers every fiction writer should read: Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work and Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Most of us try to write instinctively, but Swain shows us things like Motivation/Reaction Units, so we see how and why our best writing works, so we can learn to do it again and again.

 Where can people buy your books?

At public readings, school visits, writers’ conferences, arts & crafts shows around New England. Use your Visa or Mastercard on my in-home answering machine (860 885-1865) or hit the website I only sell autographed copies, and it’s only through me that you can get the 4-pack special deal of $10 off for the series. Request a brochure (29 Arnold Place, Norwich, CT 06360. As a last resort, get an autographed copy from

10 QUESTIONS FOR…psychological thriller novelist Frank Say


Author interview with F. Say, (a.k.a. Frank Say) ninelivescoverfsay4

Currently live in Sewickley Pennsylvania with my wife & cat.  Currently writing second manuscript, a follow-up to Nine Lives.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Nine Lives is a psychological thriller.  The main character finds out he cheated death.  This causes unease in the spirit world and they make their unhappiness known to him. He begins to search for answers which brings about a horrific turn of events.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

By accident.  I had an idea for a story but no writing experience-other than college term papers-so I looked for someone to write it for me.  When I could find no takers, my wife said I should give it a try.  Seven years later I am writing the answer to question three in this survey.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

When I am home writing:  Wake up no later than five am.  Write for three hours.  Work on marketing(web-site, e-mail lists, press releases, )   Go for a forty minute walk regardless of weather.  Come back for more marketing.  Sneak in a nap around noon.

More marketing.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Typical computer desk with writing materials, books, files and bills that I enjoy looking at to squash any false sense of security I may have that day.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Stephen King’s “On Writing”

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1) I was a terrible student in all areas of my academic life. 2) I collect gargoyles. 3) I do a mean Joan Jett Karaoke, “I Hate Myself For Loving You.”

7. Favorite quote

Writers are too self-centered to be lonely,  Richard Condon.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Living inside your own head

9. Advice for other writers

Listen to the experts only 50% of the time.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

Last year at this time I almost gave up complete hope anyone would notice my writing and want to publish it.  I have begun to listen to my inner voice about 50% of the time, as well.

Where can people buy your book? 

Available at major book retailers by special order, you can also purchase Nine Lives on my Web site, or direct link to: