Friday, October 22, 2021

Audio Series: Swan Song


Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was originally hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.

Today, Elizabeth B. Splaine joins us and reads an excerpt from her new book Swan Song. Elizabeth is a retired opera singer who enjoys reading and writing WWII stories that focus on tenacity, hope and the indomitable human spirit. Prior to writing, Elizabeth earned an AB in Psychology from Duke University and an MHA from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She spent eleven years working in health care before switching careers to become a professional opera singer and voice teacher. When not writing, Elizabeth teaches classical voice in Rhode Island where she lives with her husband, sons, and dogs.

Click the soundcloud link below to hear Elizabeth reading an excerpt from her book.

What it's about:

Ursula Becker’s operatic star is on the rise in Nazi Berlin…until she discovers that she is one-quarter Jewish, a mischling of the second degree. Although Hitler is aware of her lineage, her popularity and exquisite voice protect her and her family from persecution. As Ursula’s violin-prodigy half-sister comes of age, she comes to the attention of the Führer, who welcomes the awestruck teenager into his elite, private circle. When William Patrick Hitler arrives in Germany and is offered employment by his doting Uncle Adolf, a chance encounter with Ursula leads to a romantic relationship that further shields the young diva from mistreatment. But for how long? Restrictions on Hitler’s perceived enemies tighten, and Ursula is ordered to sing at Hitler’s Berghof estate. There she throws down a gauntlet that unleashes the wrath of the vindictive megalomaniacal leader. Fearing for her life, Ursula and Willy decide to emigrate to England. But as the ship is about to sail, Ursula disappears. Desperately hoping that Ursula is still alive, Willy crosses the globe in an effort to find her, even as his obsessive uncle taunts him, relishing in the horror of the murderous cat-and-mouse game.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Blog Tour: The Last Days of Hong Kong


We're happy to help Meerkat Press support the release of their latest title The Last Days of Hong Kong by participating in their blog tour. And if you're at all into winning free stuff, they're running a giveaway where you can potentially win a $50 book shopping spree.

Click here to enter!

Time to grab a book and get tipsy!!!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

With the release of the final book of my Noir Fantasy trilogy Witch of Empire, it feels like time to settle down with a celebratory drink. Straight bourbon for me, as it seems appropriate for a series so obviously inspired by film noir. A series Cassandra Khaw says, “Tastes like subways and smoke and whiskey-filled nights.”

But that begs the question. What do the character’s drink?



Straight Gin. She drinks to get drunk, as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Using a mixer feels like lying about what she’s setting out to do.


In the old days, she was partial to French Martinis, now that her selections are somewhat more limited, she mostly drinks Sully.


Picture, if you will, the most garishly coloured drink upon the cocktail menu. Garnished with enough fruit to put an end to scurvy, not one, but three paper umbrellas and a curly straw. It is full of ice, and luminous liqueurs that are normally only found on the top shelf behind the bar, entirely unused. As he drinks it, it changes colour while he works through the various layers. The name of this drink is likely to be mildly obscene.


A devoted brandy fan who has now been reduced to drinking light beer, because his darling wife doesn’t much care to see him drunk. Without a bad influence around to take him out drinking, he is actually sticking to her stricture.


During his creative periods, the Prime Minister partakes in Sazerac cocktails, just the misting of absinthe is enough to hold his finely tuned palette hostage. He is also a prodigious taster of wine, though he rarely drinks any decent quantity of it nowadays.

Mol Kalath

It is unclear if giant demonic crows actually need to drink anything.


As a chef, he has seen far too many talents burn out in a haze of liquor, so he himself refrains from alcohol, preferring soft drinks. He has a particular penchant for milkshakes, but suffers dreadfully as a result, due to his lactose intolerance.


If giant demonic crows don’t need to drink, then dolls most assuredly do not. At best, any offered drink might soak into his fabric and stain him.


The Sidecar cocktail of brandy, lemon juice and orange liqueur remains her favourite, and the faint aroma of oranges seems to follow her around like a cloud of perfume.

La Plongeon

A Red Snapper is his drink of choice. Vodka, lemon juice, tomato juice. An affectation he picked up in Paris before the great war, and never managed to shake. Even though Vodka is practically impossible to export from the Khanate.


A Kvasya, served in a tall glass. Cinnamon, vodka and kvass. Simple.


Released October 5, 2021


Book 3 in the Witch of Empire series

In the aftermath of the war, Iona “Sully” Sullivan has lost everything; her job, her friends, her fiancé and even her magic. But when an old friend shows up on her doorstep, offering her the chance to undo one of her long litany of mistakes, there is still enough of the old Sully left to get her on the first boat to Hong Kong. A stranger in a strange land, Sully must navigate alien customs, werebear chefs, the blossoming criminal underworld, religious extremists, Mongol agents, vampire separatists, and every other freak, maniac or cosmic leftover with an iota of power as they all compete for a chance at the most valuable prize in all the world; a little sailor doll named Eugene, and the last wish on earth.

BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


 G.D. Penman is the author of more books than you can shake a reasonably-sized stick at, including series like Witch of Empire, Savage Dominion, Deepest Dungeon and The Last King. Before finally realizing that the career advisor lied to them about making a living as an author, G.D. Penman worked as an editor, tabletop game designer, and literally every awful demeaning job that you can think of in-between. Nowadays they can mostly be found writing fantasy novels and smoking a pipe in the sunshine. They live in Dundee, Scotland with their partner, children, dog and cats. Just . . . so many cats.

Twitter  |  Website

Monday, October 11, 2021

Indie Ink Runs Deep: Caroline Hagood


Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....


Today's ink story comes from Caroline Hagood, whose latest book GHOSTS OF AMERICA releases October 15th. 

Written on the Body


I didn’t expect to get my first tattoo in my thirties, but there you have it. For my partner’s birthday, we went to a rooftop comedy show, ate Ethiopian food with our hands, and got matching tattoos: abstracted versions of the Celtic symbol for family. We’d started dating in high school, had two kids at home, bouncing off the walls of our Brooklyn apartment, and still enjoyed each other’s company after a pandemic lockdown. We felt we had earned these inked symbols of attachment. And we were ready to do something huge and symbolic to commemorate all of this.

Because of the pandemic and consequent lockdown, we had felt, paradoxically, simultaneously enclosed and constantly in danger for over a year. We were not teenagers sneaking out to get tattoos against our parents’ will. We were the parents. We were old, we were tired, we had lived through a global disaster. We wanted to live on the edge, but only for the few hours we could get our own parents to babysit our children. It was that type of living on the edge.


Of course, the idea of getting the tattoo was different from actually getting it. As a writer, I loved the idea of meaningful symbols written on my body. The tattoo artist, Tanya, understood this and spent the whole time discussing literary theory with me. Afterwards, I sat looking at a photo on my phone of Tanya giving me the tattoo, unable to connect with myself that person stooped over a chair. When I got home, though, and looked at my tattoo in the mirror, and then went and wrote, it all felt finally natural. This time, I had written my story not on paper, but on my body, which is exactly where I felt it should be.


Caroline Hagood is an Assistant Professor of Literature, Writing and Publishing and Director of Undergraduate Writing at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She has published two books of poetry, Lunatic Speaks and Making Maxine’s Baby, and one book-length essay, Ways of Looking at a Woman. Her writing has appeared in The Kenyon Review, the Huffington Post, the GuardianSalon, and the Economist

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Where Writers Write: Robert Tomaino

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is 
Robert Tomaino. 

Robert is a writer, editor and consultant. He has served as a Managing Editor for the National Organization for Rare Disorders and, and he was an assistant editor for the textbook,  The Complete Directory for People with Rare Disorders, 1998-1999, published by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. When he breaks away from deciphering medical jargon, Robert writes fiction, from the fantastical to the urbane. He lives in Connecticut and is a member of the Fairfield Scribes.

Where Robert Tomanio Writes

I have a simple desk set aside for writing and only my creative writing projects. I handle no other tasks at that desk. I have a small table set aside for regular work where I do medical writing, rare disease patient advocacy consulting, and mundane responsibilities like paying the bills, checking emails, balancing the budget, and marketing work. Oh, and write guest posts for blogs!


Finding a way to separate my creative life from other responsibilities is important. Creating a space specific to fiction writing helps my mindset and motivation. When I sit at the desk, my brain knows it’s time to write. It doesn’t always lead to a productive writing session, but on average it’s increased my productivity and enjoyment. The setup is spartan – desk, pencil/pen holder, and my monkey ninja, which is a hidden phone stand. (The dice are new, and the coasters are from the Mark Twain library.) I recommend a comfortable chair. For me it helps to have one where I can lean back in frustration when I just can’t get the phrasing or sentences to my liking.


I write in the morning, usually shooting for 5am. Armed with a cup of coffee, and buoyed by the solitude and quiet of the early morning hours, I dive in. Sometimes the words flow and other times they simply do not, and I find myself making another cup of coffee or being sucked into the vast distraction that is the Internet. When I try and write at other times during the day, I find my mind wanders or there are too many distractions, especially in my apartment.


If I find the time to write during the afternoon, I usually change the location. Like many other writers, I also write in cafés. Something about the vibe of a great café, those small little communities where life hums along, helps the creative process. Less often, I’ll write at libraries. Tucked away among the hundreds of books, I find the atmosphere spurs the creative process. The variation in where and when I write breaks up the routine and invigorates my creative efforts when the flow of words slows.


I live in a small apartment. It’s neither clean nor messy, but rather a mix of organized dishevelment. The kitchen is as large as the living room. I’m of Italian descent and my grandmother taught me to cook, including her supersecret meatball recipe. Obviously, a big kitchen is a necessity for me. A room set aside for the writing craft would be nice. Life, however, is making do with what we have available to us. My new book, New Madrid, won the When Words Count Retreat’s Pitch Week last year. It’ll be released on October 5, 2021 by Woodhall Press. The contest forced me to sit at the desk and put in the work to finish the novel. It didn’t matter at that point whether there was another room or not. The time of day didn’t matter either. The work had to get done.


I also carry a notebook and will write entire scenes in a park or at a diner during breakfast. A bonus to this style is I can edit the scene as I type it into my laptop. Where, when, and how a person chooses to write are all up to the writer – there isn’t a one size fits all solution. For myself, and suspect a lot of people, multiple methods can prove to be the best way.


Imagine a world in which the Salem witch trials never ended…It's the early 1800s and Jack Ellard is a reluctant lawman of the growing river town of New Madrid, Missouri. Expelled from the army for his role in a brutal Native American massacre, Jack has carved out a solitary life as sheriff and rebuffed several offers to become marshal. Despite his desire to avoid controversy and conflict, trouble follows him out west. When a young girl named Abigail Duncan goes missing, everything changes. Jack is forced to delve into the town's secrets and confront his feelings for the girl's mother, Sarah. But when a firebrand preacher named Elijah Prescott, and a city-raised Native American named Chata, arrive and offer to help find the young girl, Jack is unsure of their motives. Neither is who they claim to be. Even Sarah seems to be hiding things from him, and Jack begins to fear the preacher's criticism of her bold and uncompromising demeanor.