Interview with @LesleyDiehl author of Failure is Fatal #cozymystery #authorinterview

Today I’m welcoming Lesley A. Diehl, author of Failure is Fatal, to the Readsalot Blog. She has graciously agreed to answer a whole bunch of questions for me and my readers.

You went from professor of psychology to author of mysteries. A reader can be forgiven for expecting you to write psychological thrillers. Why cozy mysteries?

I began my love of reading mysteries with Nancy Drew and the Dana sisters when I was a kid and soon graduated to Agatha Christie, so I guess cozy mysteries are in my blood. With my background in psychology, I also love writing them because they are so character focused, and creating interesting, somewhat unique characters allows me go use what I know about how people tick. That, paired with my background growing up on a farm, gives me license to develop my characters in a small town setting, the perfect backdrop for an intricately drawn set of motives for killing. I also like that I can insert serious themes into my work, especially issues surrounding family and the environment.

How does your background in psychology influence your writing?

I began writing mysteries when I retired from academe where my writing life was made up of scientific papers that demanded precision and logic in their execution. While that style of writing does not make a very good mystery novel, it does help in plotting a mystery. I like to plot, and I like the logical tightness demanded to make the twists and turns work in solving the crime. My early work shows this passion most clearly, but Failure Is Fatal reflects not only this adherence to tight plot lines, but also my desire to give the reader characters they can relate to, enjoy and like. I want readers to try to solve the crime along with the protagonist because they like her and find the puzzle of who did it compelling. My background in developmental psychology and my own aging made me want to create a mature protagonist, but one who is fully engaged in an adventurous life.

Describe Failure is Fatal in 140 characters (also known as a tweet).

The murder of a campus co-ed leads Professor Laura Murphy to investigate a fraternity’s not-so-innocent shenanigans which point directly to the killer.

Who would you pick to play the characters of Professor Laura Murphy and Detective Derrick Pasquis in a Hollywood adaptation of Failure is Fatal?

That’s so difficult because I can think of young actresses and older ones, but none in the right age range. I need a plump Angelina Jolie, perhaps Jennifer Anniston? Melissa McCarthy certainly could deliver the lines well, particularly the humor, but she’s a little too plump. As for the detective, how Denzel Washington, if he can manage a Caribbean accent.

What’s the most amusing thing that happened to you while writing Failure is Fatal?

The research referred to in the book was actually a project students and I did collaboratively the year before I retired, and it was the best work of my career, but I left academe before I could publish it—a bittersweet, but kind of funny time for me because I had no idea then that it would find its way into a murder mystery.

Laura Murphy is a common enough name but Pasquis is somewhat unusual. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

Pasquis was the last name of a very good friend of mine and my husband’s. he was from Haiti, so he had that soft accent. He and his wife who was Cuban could dance up a storm. He was a lovely man, and I think it’s fitting that I used his name for my kind, bright and sexy detective.

How do I pick names? I pick them out of thin air, sometimes based upon a name popping into my head. In other cases, I simply like the name or the sound of it. Choosing the name of someone I knew for the detective as unusual for me.

What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

I love creating complicated plots and lots of plot twists. That was what first drew me to writing mysteries. In the last year, I’ve become more focused on my characters, making them more complete, by giving them greater depth of emotion and complex backgrounds. I like exploring a character’s past history and bringing it into the present. In Failure Is Fatal, a seemingly unrelated event from Laura’s past leads her to the killer.

Tell us about your next release. And when can we expect it?

In September, Camel Press will release the fourth book in the Eve Appel mysteries, Mud Bog Murder. The protagonist of this series is a woman who runs a high end consignment shop in rural Florida. She is one snoopy gal (she and Laura Murphy would race to see which of them got involved in solving a murder first; maybe they would make a good sleuthing pair).

When Jenny McLeay leases her property to be ravaged by the annual mud bog races, the small rural town of Sabal Bay, Florida, is divided into warring camps: environmental activists versus monster truck fans. Jenny, who frequents the consignment store owned by Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, doesn’t seem to mind when Eve and Madeleine join the protesters the day of the races.

During the race, Eve catches Jenny’s airborne head after it is tossed into the air by the wheels of a truck. Even without the disembodied head, Eve has her hands full. The town resents her role in the protests and is boycotting the consignment shop on wheels. She is torn between two men—GQ-handsome, devoted PI Alex and tall, dark, and exotic Sammy. Will Eve and Madeleine ever be able to move into their new digs? Not unless the town forgives them. And not if whoever decapitated Jenny gets to Eve before she and her sleuthing buddies solve the mystery.

~ About the book ~


Title: Failure is Fatal (Laura Murphy Mysteries)

Author: Lesley A. Diehl

Published: January 21, 2016

Publisher: Creekside Publishing

Genre: Cozy Mystery

~ Synopsis ~

Someone at Professor Laura Murphy’s college appears to be playing a joke on her by planting sexually explicit stories in her research results, but the joke turns deadly when one story details the recent stabbing murder of a coed. Laura’s close friend, Detective Derrick Pasquis from the local police, asks for her help in interviewing the prickly suspects who resist intervention from outside the campus community. Eager to search out clues, Laura ignores warning signs that playing amateur sleuth may jeopardize her newly developing romance with Guy. And of course her usual intrusive manner puts her at odds with everyone on campus—colleagues, the college administration, the head of campus security and fraternity members. Is there no one Laura can’t offend in her eagerness to find the truth? The closer she gets to solving the crime, the more it appears that the past—the coed’s, that of a prominent faculty member and Laura’s own—is the key to the murder. Caught in an early winter blizzard, Laura must choose between wandering the mountains and freezing to death or taking her chances with a killer clever enough to make murder look like the work of an innocent student.


~ About the Author ~


Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.

Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

~ Giveaway ~

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

FAILURE IS FATAL large banner326


How to do an author interview ~ the reader’s perspective #marketing #writing

Let me start by saying that I am in no way or manner an expert in marketing or being an author for that matter. I am, however, a voracious reader. I read at least one book a day, sometimes two, and on the not-totally-rare occasion three. I’m a huge supporter of indie writers because – duh – I am one and I try to read as many self-published books as I can. In order to find these books – because we all know Amazon isn’t much help – I follow a ton of blogs on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. I read heaps of author interviews and guest posts as well as book excerpts. What will make an author interview stand out for me? Enough that I’ll 1-click the book?

Fun. My number 1 advice to writers doing an author interview is to have fun. Sure, writing is serious business and – okay – reading is sometimes too. But picking out what book to read and finding an author you want to follow? That should be fun. Unless the interview is for a writing blog aimed towards other writers, don’t be too serious. Although many readers are nominally interested in the vocation of writing, you’re here to sell a book – not educate readers on the art of writing.

Don’t overdo it. A lot of blogs or websites that do author interviews have ready-made lists of interview questions and it’s up to the author to choose which questions to answer. Limit the amount of questions you answer to keep the reader’s attention. If I’m doing a blog tour and get several requests for interviews, I try to pick different questions from each blogger (many of the standard interview questions overlap). If you have readers who are following the tour, they won’t end up reading the same answer over and over.

Vary your answers. Oftentimes it’s unavoidable that you answer the same question with different bloggers/websites. There are just some questions that keep coming back. What’s your favorite book? or Who is your favorite author? are all-time favorites. I try to vary my answers. Not only because it’s impossible to pick a favorite book or favorite author, but also to provide different material.

Just a word of caution. It’s important that the interview reflect your writing as well as your personality. There’s nothing worse than reading a super funny interview from a writer and then grabbing the book expecting tons of laughs only to be disappointed when the book is super dark and depressing.

Any other advice for the writers out there on how to do an author interview?

Interview with @LauraMcNeillBks, author of Sister Dear #DomesticSuspense

Sister Dear

Title: Sister Dear

Author: Laura McNeil

Publisher: HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson

Genre: Domestic Suspense

Pages: 336

~ Synopsis ~

All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return to Brunswick, Georgia, sends earthquakes through the small, coastal community. Even her daughter Caroline, now a teenager, challenges Allie’s claims of innocence.

Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a campaign for the truth, digging deep into the past. Her investigation threatens her parole status, her own safety, and the already-fragile bond with her family. What Allie uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Goodreads

~ Interview ~

It sounds like Allie and her sister have some issues. Do you have a sister? If so, what did she think of this story?

I actually have two brothers, both younger, although I grew up with lots of friends who have sisters. I did quite a bit of research on sibling rivalry, personality disorders and family dynamics, which, I hope, all added to the realism of Allie and Emma’s stories.

Both Sister Dear and your previous novel are Domestic Suspense. What inspired you to write this genre?

I began writing humorous Southern women’s fiction under the pen name Lauren Clark back in 2011. It seemed to make sense to write what I knew … and I had just left a position in TV news after six years of anchoring and reporting. I had tons of funny and poignant stories to share, and four of them made it into those first books.

I had indie published the first four books, but an agent approached me after reading my second novel. She had enjoyed it, but really wanted to represent an author who was writing thrillers and/or suspense. I was reading the suspense genre quite a bit, and It just so happened that I had just finished writing Center of Gravity and Sister Dear and was trying to decide what to do with them. Luckily, a division of HarperCollins wanted to publish both. Center of Gravity was published in July 2015. Sister Dear comes out April 19th of this year.

Describe Sister Dear in 140 characters (also known as a tweet)

All Allie Marshall wants is a second chance. But when dark secrets won’t stay buried, how far will Allie go to save herself and her child?

Is there a lesson you want readers to learn from reading Sister Dear?

I would love if the novel made readers really think about how one decision or incident can change a person’s world entirely. I also hope that readers consider how one lie or mistruth can impact a loved one’s life forever. Sister Dear explores family relationships in depth–not just between sisters Allie and Emma — but between Allie and her daughter, Allie and her parents, and Allie and the other people she most loves and trusts in the world.

Tell us about your next release. And when can we expect it? Will it also be of the Domestic Suspense genre?

The next book I’ve written, called The World Breaks Everyone, is also in the domestic suspense genre. It’s set in New Orleans and centers on the life of Olivia Jacobs, the daughter of a famous celebrity chef. The night of her father’s new restaurant opening, Olivia and her father are attacked. The father is kidnapped and Olivia goes on the run in the French Quarter and Garden District, searching for answers. It’s my hope that the book will come out in early 2017.

What’s your favorite part about the writing process? 

I do love coming up with new ideas. I love the first blush of the story, and I especially love writing the first lines and first few chapters. It’s then that it seems like everything and anything is possible in the story. At that point, you really, as a writer, are still getting to know your characters, and (at least for me) learning about their hopes and fears and dreams.

~ Excerpt ~


In her final minutes as an inmate at Arrendale State Prison, Allie Marshall’s body pulsed with tension. Eyes averted, managing any movements with robotic precision, she remained on guard.

Only moments to go.

A sliver of time. Not even a quarter hour. An unremarkable measurement, when held up against the billion other moments in any person’s natural life. But after a decade inside, those last twelve minutes seemed the longest span in all of eternity.

To her right, rows of monitors blinked and recorded everything across the sprawling campus in Habersham County. Though the angles differed, the subject never changed: women in identical tan-collared shirts and shapeless pants. Inmates on work detail, in the cafeteria, in dormitories.

A corrections officer sat nearby, her pale-blue eyes scanning the screens. To this worker, to all of them, Allie was GDC ID, followed by ten numbers. Nothing more. Inside the thick metal bars, Allie’s life was suspended, a delicate fossil in amber.

Until now. Ten more minutes.

Her reflection stared back, unblinking, in the shatterproof glass window near the door. Green eyes flecked with gold, dark-blonde hair tucked in a loose ponytail, barely visible brackets at the corners of her lips.

Maybe, Allie thought, she’d forgotten how to smile and laugh. Happiness seemed unreachable, as if the feeling itself existed on the summit of an ice-tipped mountain shrouded by storm clouds. Indeed, the rush of pure, unadulterated joy belonged only to those with freedom. Allie’s memories of it—her daughter’s birth, Caroline’s first smile, first steps—were fleeting and distant.

Instead, the perpetual motion of prison, the waking, sleeping, and sameness, all blended together, like a silent black-and-white movie on a continuous loop.

Until the news of her parole.

At first, the concept of liberty seemed impossible—a hand trying to catch and hold vapor. The judge had sentenced Allie to sixteen years, and she fully anticipated serving each and every one of them. She didn’t believe she’d be granted an early release—she couldn’t—until she stepped beyond the walls and barbed wire and chain-link fence, barriers that kept her from everyone and everything she’d ever loved.

Allie focused on breathing, stretching her lungs, exhaling to slow her pulse. Her own belongings, a decade old, lay nearby. Keys that wouldn’t open doors. A watch with a dead battery. A light khaki jacket with a photo of then five-year-old Caroline tucked in the pocket, one pair of broken-in Levis, and a white cotton shirt. Gingerly, with her fingertips, she reached for the clothing, then gripped the bundle tight to her chest.

A second guard motioned for Allie to change quickly in a holding room. With the door shut, she pulled the shapeless prison garb over her head and picked up the shirt. The material, cool and light, brushed against her skin like gauze. Allie shivered.

For ten years, all she’d known was the rasp of her standard-issue navy jacket, the scrape of her worn white tennis shoes along the sidewalk.

Back in Brunswick, Allie had filled her closet with easy summer shifts and crisp linen pants. Now her body was different too—the soft curves had dissolved, leaving lean muscle behind. The jeans hung loosely around her waist and hips. The top billowed out in waves from her shoulders.

Nothing would fit, she reminded herself. Not much in her past life would.

And that was all right.

When she walked out of Lee Arrendale State Prison, home to thousands of female inmates, Allie didn’t want reminders. No indigo tattoo inked down her back or neck. No numbers or symbols etched into her arms or fingers. The only external validation of time served was a faint scar that traced her eyebrow.

The real proof of her internment lay underneath it all. Below the seashell white of Allie’s skin, hidden in blood, tendons, and muscle, the experience indelibly marked on her soul. An imprint made by incident, mistake, and tragedy.

Evidence, and lack of it.

“I’m innocent,” she’d insisted to everyone who would listen. Her lawyers fought hard, rallied a few times, but in the end, the jury convicted her. Voluntary manslaughter.

A year later, Allie’s appeal failed. Then money ran out. Her father turned his attention back to his veterinary practice after his cardiologist warned the stress of another trial might kill him. Her mother did her best to minimize worry while Emma, her tempestuous and fun-loving sister, assumed the role of doting aunt and guardian to Caroline.

And there was Ben. Sweet, thoughtful Ben. The man who’d wanted to marry her, who said he would love her always. Even after her arrest, he’d promised to wait for her if the worst happened. Allie couldn’t live with herself if he’d sacrificed everything—his rising political career, his reputation, and his life for a decade or more. She’d broken it off, knowing it would wound him terribly. When he’d finally left, when she saw him for the last time, it was as if the very core of her being had been torn away, leaving a vast, gaping emptiness she couldn’t fill, despite how hard she tried. Allie closed her eyes. She’s convinced herself it was the logical thing, what made sense. She had done her best to forget him. It hadn’t worked in the least.

The days and months blurred. Entire seasons dissolved, shapeless and gray, like the ink of fine calligraphy smeared by the rain.

The squawk of the prison intercom barely registered in Allie’s brain. Sharp insults and threats were routine, eruptions of violence expected. Even along the brown scrub grass and wooden benches of the prison yard, there was no escape. Allie always tried to disappear—pressing her body close to the concrete walls, becoming a chameleon against the barren landscape.

The women in Arrendale weren’t afraid of punishment; most had nothing left. Some bonded with other inmates for favors; others paid for protection with cigarettes, food, and stamps. For those prisoners who had lost everything; inmates with little hope of parole, life was almost unthinkable.

Clutching her hands in her lap to keep from shaking, Allie watched as a woman collapsed in the cafeteria, stabbed in the jugular with a plastic fork. The next week, a fellow inmate in her dormitory was choked to death, purple fingerprints visible on the woman’s throat when the guards discovered her body. Allie was haunted with grief for weeks after a young girl, only four years older than Caroline, tried to hang herself with a scrap of fabric.

Despite it all, despite the desperation that seemed to permeate the very air she breathed, Allie had survived.

In another few minutes, her younger sister, Emma, would arrive, as bus service didn’t run from Alto to Brunswick. Tomorrow she’d meet her parole officer at noon. And like every parolee, she would receive a check, courtesy of the Georgia Department of Corrections, enough to buy shampoo, a bar of soap, and a comb for her hair.

Allie blinked up at the clock, almost afraid the time might start going backward. She forced her eyes away, squeezed them shut. If she tried hard enough, her mind formed a picture of her grown daughter’s face. In her daydreams, she’d imagined their reunion a million times, rehearsed every possible scenario. She worried about the right words to say, how to act, and whether it was all right to cry. The enormity of it was impossible to contain, like holding back the ocean with a single fingertip.

All that mattered now was seeing Caroline.

The buzzer sounded long and loud; its vibration shook the floor. The burly guard sighed and lumbered to her boot-clad feet. She stood inches from Allie’s shoulder, her breath hot and rank from a half-eaten roast beef sandwich.

Locks clicked and keys rattled. The barrier, with its heavy bars, groaned under its own weight. An inch at a time, the metal gate heaved open. Soon, there would be nothing but empty space standing between Allie and the rest of the world.

She felt a nudge.

In that moment, Allie heard four words, precious and sweet.

“You’re free to go.”

~ About the Author ~

Laura McNeil

Laura McNeil is a writer, mom, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Northern Alabama with her family.

Her latest book is the domestic suspense, Sister Dear.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Sister Dear banner




Interview with @DavidSAtkinson_ author of the Not Quite So Stories

Today I’m welcoming David S. Atkinson, author of Not Quite So Stories, to the Readaslot blog. He’s talking about his latest publication and his writing in general.

I’m just going to go ahead and ask the question everyone is wondering. What in the world is Absurdist Literary Fiction?

People often disagree on exactly what a genre is or isn’t, but I view Absurdist Literary Fiction as stories that are primarily realistic and straightforward, but involve elements of the ridiculous or irrational, often as symbols for aspects of life that characters have difficulty grappling with. Etgar Keret’s story “Fatso” uses a woman who turns into a slovenly male rugby fan during the full moon as a symbol for how lost people are when getting into serious relationships. A wildebeest takes over a characters washing machine in Nathaniel Tower’s story “Laundry Day” as a symbol of his attempt to come to terms with being a first time father. Similarly, a clockwork monkey toy with cymbals stands in for our struggle with technology in my story “Monkey! Monkey! Monkey! Monkey! Monkey!”

What inspired you to write the genre – Absurdist Literary Fiction?

I had been writing very realistic, straightforward stories for a while when I had a couple of off the wall ideas pop into my head. They seemed very fun to work with, so I went ahead and wrote them (such as my story “Context Driven”) even though I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. Then I ran into Etgar Keret’s The Nimrod Flipout and Amelia Gray’s Museum of the Weird. They were doing similar things to what I was having fun with, and gave me a lot in terms of what I could do with this sort of thing. They led to other authors (George Saunders, Aimee Bender, Haruki Murakami, and so on), and I started comparing all this to the sort of approach to the world I saw in myths like Rudyard Kipling’s Just so Stories. I got the idea for this collection and everything kind of snowballed from there.

Describe Not Quite So Stories in 140 characters (aka a Tweet).

Life is absurd, beyond our comprehension. We simply have to proceed in the face of that. My stories examine how different characters manage (and/or fail) to do this.

What do you want readers to get out of your writing and this book in particular?

Ultimately, I want readers to enjoy themselves. I’d also like them to feel a little more okay in the face of life’s absurdities and perhaps regain a sense of wonder with respect to the world, but only if they’re entertained first. Fun is first and foremost. I’d definitely like people laughing when they read my story “The Boys of Volunteer Fire Two-Twenty-Two-Point-Five (and a Half).”

If you could sit down to dinner with one writer, dead or alive, who would you pick?

Probably the dead one so I have less competition for the food. To be serious though, I’d probably pick either Etgar Keret or Amelia Gray since it was their work that really got me going in Absurdist Literary Fiction. Of the two, I’d probably have to pick Etgar Keret because, in addition to being a fascinating person from everything I’ve seen, he also seems really, really nice. He’d probably let me have some food. Maybe we could even write notes to each other on the plates like in my story “The Des Moines Kabuki Dinner Theatre.” Amelia Gray is fascinating too, and I’m sure is really nice, but I’m betting she could take my food from me by force if she wanted. Perhaps simply because it was funny.

It’s quite the jump from patent attorney to absurdist literary fiction writer. Where do you find the time to fit it all in?

I just grab chances wherever I can. I put in a lot of hours at the office, but I spend most of the rest of my time reading or writing (still primarily reading, usually about 200-300 books a year). I read/write on the way to work, on the way home from work, whenever my wife is off at tennis, and so on. I wrote the initial draft of my story “Dreams of Dead Grandpa” while waiting for my wife to get done at a seminar while we were on vacation in Paris. If writing is something you really need to do, it’ll fit in somewhere. There may simply be other things you don’t do. For example, I don’t get a whole lot of time to watch TV.

Tell us about your next release. And when can we expect it?

I’ll have to be a little cagey about that. I’ve got something lined up, but we haven’t announced yet. I’ll just say it’s in a post-post apocalyptic vein, a response to the post-apocalyptic obsession that’s been so big recently (as well as further back than that, since even apparently Christopher Columbus once predicted the end of the world).

What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

I like the planning phase quite a bit, getting to sit around and dream while there are so many possibilities. I still think that has to pale though in view of getting to read back over a full draft. Writing is a messy process and I’m always sure that I’m going to be horrified when I look back at what I’ve been struggling over for so long. When it turns out to the contrary and I’m holding something beautiful in my hands it almost seems like a gift that came from somewhere else, a changeling. My story “Domestic Ties” was particularly like that.

What’s the most amusing thing that happened to you while writing Not Quite So Stories?

The most amusing would probably be the inspiration for “Context Driven.” I was out at a restaurant with my wife and walked over to get in our car afterward. I turned the key in the door, but nothing happened. I simply stood there a minute until my wife said: “You know this isn’t our car, right?” Turns out, it was the same color and year as ours, though a Camry instead of a Corolla. There are millions of cars out there that look almost just like mine, and I’d walked up to that one instead. Just kept trying to unlock the door. The actual owners were standing only a little way away on the sidewalk, staring at me. It was pretty awkward, but then everyone started laughing. I was still pretty embarrassed, but then I got an idea for a story based on the experience (e.g., what would have happened if my key had worked even though it wasn’t my car?). In my defense, my wife said she’d pretty much made the same mistake, but realized that our Lenore seat covers weren’t there.

~ About the Book~

Not Quite So Stories


Author: David S. Atkinson

Publisher: Literary Wanderlus LLC

Pages: 166

Genre: Absurdist Literary Fiction

The center of Not Quite So Stories is the idea that life is inherently absurd and all people can do is figure out how they will live in the face of that fact. The traditional explanation for the function of myth (including such works as the relatively modern Rudyard Kiping’s Just So Stories) is as an attempt by humans to explain and demystify the world. However, that’s hollow. We may be able to come to terms with small pieces, but existence as a whole is beyond our grasp. Life simply is absurd, ultimately beyond our comprehension, and the best we can do is to just proceed on with our lives. The stories in this collection proceed from this conception, each focusing on a character encountering an absurdity and focusing on how they manage to live with it.

For More Information

  • NOT QUITE SO STORIES is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
  • Watch the book trailer at YouTube.


 ~ About the Author ~

David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson is the author of “Not Quite so Stories” (“Literary Wanderlust” 2016), “The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes” (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and “Bones Buried in the Dirt” (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80K). His writing appears in “Bartleby Snopes,” “Grey Sparrow Journal,” “Atticus Review,” and others. His writing website is and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.

For More Information

  • Visit David S. Atkinson’s website.
  • Visit David’s blog.


~ Giveaway ~

David S. Atkinson is giving away one paperback copy each – BONES BURIED IN THE DIRT & THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL PANCAKES!

Terms & Conditions:

By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.

Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive either BONES BURIED IN THE DIRT or THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL PANCAKES

This giveaway begins March 1 and ends on May 27

Winners will be contacted via email on May 29.

Winners have 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not Quite So Stories banner

Interview with Nika Rhone, author of What the Lady Wants

Today I’m welcoming Nika Rhone, author of What the Lady Wants, to Readsalot. She’s talking about her latest release and writing romance.

What (or should I say who?) inspired you to write romance?

It seems like I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. I started with science fiction and fantasy, but as I started to read more romance, I found I wanted to write it as well. There’s just something inherently appealing to a good love story.

Are you a believer in happily ever after or are cliffhangers okay in your opinion?

Oh, for romance there definitely has to be a HEA, or at least a HFN (happy for now). I’ll qualify that by saying I’m okay with a trilogy or series that has cliffhangers for the main story arc in each book, as long as they give me the HEA payoff at the end, but it had better be worth the wait.

Describe What the Lady Wants in a tweet (also known as 140 characters).

Thea has wanted Doyle for as many years as he’s considered her off limits. When she decides to change his mind, he doesn’t stand a chance.

Describe Thea in 1 word. Describe Doyle in 1 word.

Thea: determined

Doyle: honorable

Would your characters in What the Lady Wants want to hang with you?

LOL, probably not. They’re a lot more fun than I am.

Who would you pick to play the characters of Thea and Doyle in a Hollywood adaptation of What the Lady Wants?

Since I don’t use pictures of actual people to base my characters on, this was a tough one. But a little time with the internet gave me two almost perfect choices: Victoria Justice for Thea and Eric Winter for Doyle.

What’s the most amusing thing that happened to you while writing What the Lady Wants?

I wish I could think of something witty here, but honestly, I got nothin’.

Thea is an unusual name. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

Names are extremely important to me in creating a character. It has to really match the personality, as well as sound right to the ear. I’ve literally spent weeks trying out names for new characters until I hit on one that was the right fit, and other times the name and character come to me fully formed. It’s a crapshoot, but either way, the name is one of the most important elements in crafting the story.

Tell us about your next release. And when can we expect it?

Next up is the second book in the Boulder Bodyguards series, which readers got a sneak peek of at the end of What the Lady Wants. Poor Amelia is all set to marry the wrong man, but the right one is close at hand, even if neither of them realizes it yet. I expect it to be out later this year, maybe even by summer.


 Title: What the Lady Wants

Author: Nika Rhone

Published: December 14, 2015

Genre: Contemporary Romance

~ Synopsis ~

The heiress…

She’d wanted him since she was eighteen. Four years away hasn’t cooled the heat Doyle arouses in her, which means it’s time for Thea to take the former Marine by the horns and open his eyes to everything he’s missing. What will it take to prove that she’s not some untouchable porcelain doll, but a red-blooded woman determined to finally get her man?

The bodyguard…

Honor forced Doyle to consider Thea off-limits. Keeping her that way was proving much more difficult. Every time he turns around she’s there, wreaking havoc on his senses, making him think about long, sweaty nights and how good she would feel wrapped up in his arms. How long could a man be expected to ignore the woman who calls to his every secret desire?

The danger…

But Doyle has a secret that could jeopardize not only the first fragile bonds of love, but Thea’s very life. Will he be able to act before it’s too late for them both?

AmazonBarnes & Noble ~ iTunes

~ About the Author ~

Nika Rhone has been fascinated with storytelling from the moment that first book was placed in her eager little hands, starting a lifelong love affair with the written word.  Eventually, though, reading other people’s stories just wasn’t enough, so she started to write down her own.  The magic of creating brand new worlds and the people who live in them keeps her hard at work thinking up the next set of characters she can torture before giving them their happy ending.  She lives in her hometown on Long Island, New York with the two men in her life: her super-indulgent husband and their outrageously spoiled shelter dog.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

 ~ Giveaway ~

  a Rafflecopter giveaway


Interview with Susan Corbett, Author of In the Belly of the Elephant

new-734_zpsgijbcfjvToday I’m welcoming Susan Corbett, author of In the Belly of the Elephant, to Readsalot. She’s talking about her experiences in Africa and what it was like to write about her years in the Peace Corps.

What inspired you to write your memoir?

When I came home from Africa in 1982, people would ask me, “How was it?” How do you explain five years of an experience that changed your life in one brief conversation? I had also kept detailed journals the entire time I was in Africa. In 1991, after I had married and had my 2 boys, I quit working full time to be with my small children. I started reading my journals again and realized I wanted to share my story with the world.

What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

I love structuring stories. I had flip charts up all over the walls with story structure, charts tracking characters, events, myths, etc. I also love the actual writing of the story. I love language and tried to describe Africa and my experiences in words that put the reader in the scene with all 5 senses. I love writing about place. I loved reliving so many of the things that happened to me and remembering the people who had such an impact on me. I love the act of sharing what I learned through story.

If readers could only learn only one thing from your life story, what would you want that lesson to be?

Go out and discover the world!! It is so important to experience and try to understand other people, other cultures, other perspectives. It is the only way there will ever be peace in our world.

Are you planning to publish more of your life story? If so, when can we expect it?

Writing In the Belly of the Elephant was a gut-wrenching, ego smashing, act of sending my naked soul out for the whole world to see. I don’t plan on writing another memoir. HOWEVER, I am currently writing a mystery series about a group of women (based on my old high school buddies) my age (50’s) who go traveling and get embroiled in local unsolved mysteries. These books will be full of my life experiences, my perspective, my love of place and travel, and the lessons I want to share with the world. I have chosen this path because more people read fiction. Fiction is easier on the body and soul to write and more fun.

Is there anecdote from your time in Africa that didn’t make it into your memoir which can share with us?

Hmmm. A funny one. I was traveling through West Africa with some Peace Corps friends. We were taking local transport which entails a lot of waiting and sitting. Consequently, I had become very constipated. A friend we had visited had given me a baggie of loose tea to help with the constipation. When we came to the border check point to enter Ghana, one of the soldiers went through my back pack and found the bag of tea. Thinking it was marijuana (illegal throughout Africa) they put me in a back room for questioning. Usually at this point, one is expected to bribe one’s way out of a situation. Instead, I spent a lot of time explaining in a very animated way, that I had a bad case of constipation and that the baggy was tea to help me poop. The soldiers found this so funny, they let me go without a bribe. Africans love humor. Using my sense of humor got me out of a lot of touchy situations.

What’s the most amusing thing that happened to you while writing In The Belly of the Elephant?

Reading through my journals and reliving the many, many times I spent laughing with Peace Corps and African friends was a lot of fun. Living in Africa, I often found myself in situations (like the one above) that could have been real downers and even dangerous, had I not chosen to find and/or insert humor into the mix. It seems to be a universal truth that people respond positively to humor as long as they are included in the humor and not the brunt of it.

~ About the Book ~


Title: In The Belly of the Elephant

Author: Susan Corbett

Genre: Non Fiction/Memoir

Date Published: December 18, 2013

~ Synopsis ~

Everybody needs to run away from home at least once. Susan Corbett told people she was out to save the world, but really she was running — running from her home as much as to anywhere. Like many women, she was searching for meaning to her life or for a good man to share it with. In Africa, she hoped to find both.

 Compelling and compassionate, In the Belly of the Elephant is Susan’s transformative story of what happens when you decide to try to achieve world peace while searching for a good man. More than a fish-out-of-water story, it’s a surprising and heart-rending account of her time in Africa trying to change the world as she battles heat, sandstorms, drought, riots, intestinal bugs, burnout, love affairs and more than one meeting with death. Against a backdrop of vivid beauty and culture, in a narrative interwoven with a rich tapestry of African myths and fables, Susan learns the true simplicity of life, and discovers people full of kindness, wisdom and resilience, and shares with us lessons we, too, can learn from her experiences.

Purchase Links

Amazon ~  Barnes & Noble ~  Smashwords

~ About The Author ~


A writer, community organizer, and consultant in program management, micro-enterprise development, family planning, and HIV/AIDS education, Susan Corbett began her community development career in 1976 as a Peace Corps Volunteer, working in a health clinic in Liberia, West Africa. In 1979, she joined Save the Children Federation as a program coordinator for cooperative and small business projects in Burkina Faso.  In 1982, Susan returned to the States where she has worked with local non-profits in drug and alcohol prevention for runaway youth, family planning, homelessness prevention, and immigrant issues.

Susan has traveled to over 40 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Caribbean, and Central and North America and has lived and worked in ten African countries over the past thirty years (Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, The Gambia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Liberia). She lives in Colorado with her husband, Steve, her sons, Mitch & Sam, and her dog, Molly.