Archive for March, 2011

Interview – Steve O’Brien – Author of Elijah’s Coin

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Today we are pleased to have Steve O’Brien with us.  Mr. O’Brien is the author of Elijah’s Coin.  An inspiring story about how simple it is to make a change in people’s lives. 

Rhodes Review:  What inspired the events of Elijah’s Coin?

Steve O’Brien: Some have asked if Elijah’s Coin is autobiographical in any way. It’s not, however the story weaves together personal experiences and those of friends and acquaintances. I wrote the story for my kids originally. I became troubled by their interest in pop culture and the ways that some develop fame. Many times it comes through dangerous or reckless behavior. Success had become living in the extreme, even crossing into unlawful behavior. I wanted my kids to know that success was very different from the way it is portrayed in modern media. So I wanted to create a fictional story that would provide lessons about real success and having a purpose in life.

Rhodes Review: What would you like people to come away with from Elijah?

Steve O’Brien: I want readers to learn the importance of giving and of kindness (no matter how corny that sounds) and to pay it forward. I was struck by a thought that at the end of your life, people won’t remember what kind of car you drove or what house you owned. They won’t remember anything about your “stuff.” They won’t even remember much about the things you did during your lifetime. Everyone you touch, however, will remember exactly how you made them feel. That comes back to how you treat others. So Elijah’s Coin is an attempt to get people to look outside themselves and look at the impact they can have on others—that is true success.

 Rhodes Review: What is your background in writing?

 Steve O’Brien: I have a journalism degree and worked as a sports writer in high school and college. I wrote several short stories, but wasn’t terribly interested in the publishing side—mostly it was for my own enjoyment. My legal career kind of overwhelmed my creative writing until the past few years. Elijah’s Coin had a very personal purpose. I didn’t really write it to publish, but people encouraged me to move forward with it. Oddly, I remembered how much fun writing is, so I have a few more projects I’m working on.

 Rhodes Review: Did you always want to be a writer?

Steve O’Brien: Writing has always come kind of naturally to me. I guess I wanted to be a storyteller. That’s what drew me to the law. In a former life, I was a litigator and the challenge of explaining a complicated case to a jury was an opportunity to “tell a story.” To take facts and cast them into a description that is persuasive, yet true to the evidence. I’ve always felt that great litigators were great storytellers. They have to quickly and convincingly engage their audience more than any other type of storyteller. So even though I wasn’t doing hours of writing for some part of my life, I was still engaged in the craft.

Rhodes Review: Where do you get your muses?

Steve O’Brien: Two of the greatest words in the English language—“What if…” The core of every story can come back to one great “what if” question. I also love history. I’m not one for memorizing dates and events so much as taking the context of a historical situation and bringing it forward in time. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code is an example of that historical shift, or works by James Rollins.

Also, my wife and I play a game when we are at a dinner or event. One will point out another table or group of people and say “what’s their deal?” The other will go into a long and detailed description (all imaginary) describing everything about their lives. It is a great exercise for character development and besides that it’s just plain fun.

Rhodes Review: What would you tell my readers who are interesting in writing?

Steve O’Brien: Write something every day. Read every day. Learn the craft. Stephen King said something that stuck with me. He said we don’t get to decide if our work has commercial value. Kind of an odd remark to inspire a writer, but the point is we have to be ourselves as writers. We have to develop our own style. If a writer tries to mimic a known, commercially successful author’s style, the work won’t have any sense of identity. Be yourself. You don’t need a license or anyone’s permission to be a writer. If it’s in you, only you can bring it out.

Rhodes Review: What other writing projects are you working on currently?

Steve O’Brien: In March my second novel, Bullet Work will be released. This is a very different book from Elijah’s Coin. It is a mystery suspense novel set at a thoroughbred race track. It is written in third person, so I have evolved to a different genre and style of writing. I also have a suspense thriller manuscript that is through the first draft. I still have a lot of work to do on that one.

Rhodes Review: Any appearances/announcements you’d like to mention?

Steve O’Brien: Bullet Work will be released March 22, 2011. If you are a mystery suspense fan, you’ll enjoy this book.

Thank you Mr. O’Brien for taking the time to visit with us here.  You can read a review of Elijah’s Coin here.

Review: Guardians of 2632 – Nora Weston

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Order book here:


Order E-book here:


Dr. Zane Grayson – Head of a Time Traveling Agency in 2632.
Julia Emerson – A woman Zane had a brief encounter with in 1998.
Marissa – Zane’s Best Friend in 2632.
Marshall Pickett – An evil mobster with an interest in Julia.


Travel through time with Dr. Zane Grayson, executive director of Guardian TMF…a monstrous time traveling facility, as he fights against corruption, Elites, Time Mercs, and his own obsession with time surfing to realize his future may actually exist in the past, 1998 to be exact. Guardian 2632—a story of epic proportions depicting what a man will sacrifice to save a life.


There was quite a bit to like about this book. The story was very interesting. It reminded me a bit of quantum leap. A man is tasked with the job to travel to different periods in time, and set right what went wrong. The plot involves a woman who Zane had met during one of his travels in time. She is the wife of a corrupt cop, and is desired by a local mob boss. The Boss is willing to do anything he can to save her. Zane shows how much someone will sacrifice in order to protect another.

I liked the characters, particularly the characters of Zane and Julia. The character of Zane was a lot more fleshed out though then the chracter of Julia, I felt. The book is a combination of a mystery, sci-fi story, and romance.

If I had to point out drawbacks to the story, there were some grammar mistakes which were minimal. A scene in which Zane was being attacked by 2 Mercs (futuristic mercenaries) seemed to just come out of nowhere, and didn’t seem to have a transition into it. The romance itself seemed a little rushed as well.

All in all though, it was an enjoyable story, and I think if you are into sci-fi romance or paranormal romances, you’d probably enjoy this story. I look forward to seeing more from Ms. Weston in the future, and I’d like to see what’s next for Dr. Grayson.

Copies of the book can be purchased at these links:

Purchase Links:

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Brandi at BK Walker Books and Ms. Weston for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

About the Author: 

Nora Weston’s fiction and poetry slips in-between and all around science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Her publishing credits include the anthologies Mind Mutations, Cyber Pulp’s Halloween 3.0, and Dark Pleasures. Other venues in print and online include; The Hacker’s Source, The Dream People, Hoboeye, Abandoned Towers, Lost in the Dark, Sputnik 57, Soul Engravings, and Decompositions. Recently, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Worlds Within–Worlds Beyond, Trapeze Magazine, and Four and Twenty published her work. Melange Books has accepted The Twelfth Paladin for a May 2011 release. Nora has had the pleasure of reaching people through the airwaves on radio stations throughout the US, and episodes can be downloaded from Blog Talk Radio’s show Not Picture Perfect.

See Ms. Weston’s Guest Post on character development here with good advice for potential writers.

YouTube Preview Image

Guest Post – Nora Weston – Author Guardian 2632

Monday, March 21st, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Zane Grayson is tall, dark, and handsome…or maybe tall and handsome with a Scotch-Irish linage since I can’t quite picture my male protagonist. The female lead, Julia Emerson, has eyes so green they look like emeralds, but that’s all I have for her. Long tresses of honey-colored hair fit her personality, although reddish-blonde locks might be better. Alas, assigning a character’s facade can drive authors to pull out their own hair, and if this aspect of character building is ignored, it leads to flat characters without any descriptive details. Now, mind you…I don’t need to know how many hairs are on a character’s head, but give me something!

A good imagination helps, and asking fellow writers for suggestions is a wise way to go as well, but there are other alternatives to get a grip on what characters may look like. Once an author has decided the outer shell for a character, other qualities about that person are envisioned without much effort.

In Guardian 2632, Zane Grayson is a top-notch soldier, but he’s also a highly skilled military doctor, and I knew I wanted him to have dark eyes that would captivate Julia Emerson, yet his rock hard, muscular body needed a face. The fastest way for me to give Zane a face was to visit Dreamstime, iStockphoto, and shutterstock, which have thousands of photos to click on. Simply search for what you desire in a character…like dark eyes, black hair, and long bangs, and then let the magic begin.

I went through hundreds of faces, but recognizing my hero and having various photos of that person available for reference was an unbelievable feeling. Once I found Zane, I imagined him as a guy needing to live life on the edge…dying for a rush whenever possible, and I saw him as a courageous man who’d do anything to save others, especially Julia Emerson.

If using an online photo database doesn’t work for you, try magazines, and use Google to bring up photos of people who may fit the description of your character. There’s just something about the way a person smiles, or the sparkle in their eyes may say it all, and even the lines on their face tells a tale.

I studied the photos until I found that one face above all others who’d best represent Zane Grayson…and that person inspired at least a thousand words about the personality and looks of the protagonist in Guardian 2632.

How do your characters take shape? Do they resemble people you know, completely imagined, or are your characters derived from dreams?

Thanks for visiting!

Ms. Weston is currently on a virtual blog tour for BK Walker Books.

See our review of Ms. Weston’s book here

Guest Posting: Lisa Rusczyk – Author Chasing the Dark

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Lisa Rusczyk Guest Blog

Hello, faithful readers of this blog. It’s great to be here. My name’s Lisa. I’m a novelist, freelance writer and freelance editor. My wonderful publisher Passionate Writer Publishing has set me on this virtual book tour for my book Chasing the Dark and a book of shorts done with other authors called Unloved.

I could tell you all about the books. I could tell you about how Chasing the Dark was much different than other books I’ve written. Hey! I just did! But I’d rather talk about my cats.

I have six cats. They are indoor/outdoor cats, and they are all quite beloved. First I got Micah. In the paper, there was only one ad for kittens in Nashville in April of 2002. It was for “Siamersian” kittens. What they heck are those? Three parts Siamese, one part Himalayan. Some people living out in the country invented the breed. He puked all over me on the ride home and has been puking daily ever since. Micah is the alpha cat of the household and always has to be around people. He also likes to knock things over, especially fancy wine glasses. He sleeps with me every night and his meows are expressive in every tone.

Next I got Cloud. He’s my true baby. He’s gray with a white chest, belly and nose. He has a gray freckle on that white nose. Micah beat him up for years, which made him neurotic. When he snuggles, he snuggles hard. He loves to talk back and forth. His favorite thing to do is play “mouse” with bottle lids. If anyone says the word “mouse” in casual conversation and he’s around, he maows. I’m worried because I haven’t seen him in four days. I’m going to call the pound when they open to see if he got picked up – his collar broke last week and I haven’t replaced it.

Coraline is a gray tortie we got at the pound. She’s, well, not too bright, but she’s the only cat who has never come home scratched up, keeps impeccably clean, has gorgeous whiskers and the cutest meaow. I think she understands English. If she gets on my lap after being out in the rain, I can tell her to go clean herself and come back. She’ll do just that.

Spooky is the sweetheart of the bunch. She’s a long-haired black tortie, tiny, and loves to stalk us when we eat. She was skinny even though she gets fed a lot of people food, but her belly’s growing because she’s got babies in there! We’ll have kittens in about 6 weeks. She’s a charmer. Any person or cat who comes in this house is smitten with Spooky, and I’m one of many.

Osho is the daddy of the kittens. We got Osho and Devlin, brother and sister, together. Osho is a cream color with a few tabby stripes and Devlin is a ginger. Osho worships Spooky. He follows her everywhere, snuggles with her, cleans her ears and face. When she walks in a room, his whole world lights up. Devlin is a shy little girl. To pet her is an honor, and if she snuggles, you are in an elite crowd for a moment. Devlin loves other cats, but she’s terrified of people.

Wish me luck in finding my baby Cloud. I’m counting the minutes till the pound opens.

Review: Where Does the Money Go? – Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011


Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Revised edition (Jan. 18, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062023470
ISBN-13: 9780062023476
Order book here:



Order E-book here:

What’s your political view. Are you conservative, and think those liberals are destroying the country. Or are you a liberal that thinks the conservatives in this country have a greedy stick up their butt. Whichever side you fall on, I think you’d find this book very interesting. I found many opposing views in this book. Some of it supported my views, some of it didn’t. But the authors explained things in such a way that it made sense. While some books on finance could be dry, this one was actually entertaining. It leaves you a lot to think about, particularly on a lot of the hot button issues. It explains in detail almost every budget related issue from defense spending, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to social security, medicare, and the Healthcare legistlation from last year.

I did notice at Amazon and Barnes and Noble that there were two version of this book. One came out in February of 2011 and is updated with more recent information. The one available for e-readers is about 2 years old so information won’t be as fresh. If you are going to purchase a copy (see my links to the stores above), I’d suggest getting the printed copy over the electronic copy so you have the most up to date information.

Whichever side of the political aisle you fall on though, I think you’d find this book to be a valuable reading experience. The authors have another one out on the energy crisis that I very well may check out. It doesn’t matter what your politics are, as Americans we all must be informed, and when books come along like this, that explain everything impartially, you should grab them and read them.

About the Authors:

Scott Bittle is the executive editor of, twice nominated for the Webby Award as best political site. He is also an award-winning journalists. As an executive vice president of Public Agenda, Jean Johnson has more than twenty years of experience understanding public attitudes on a broad range of issues and has written for USA Today, Education Week, and the Huffington Post. They’re also the authors of Who Turned Out the Lights? Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

2 people like this post.

Giveaway – Toys – James Patterson

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Thanks to Brad at Hachette Book group I”m able to offer my readers 1 copiy of this book. To enter, follow these simple rules:

1) One Entry if you’re a follower [You can follow through Google Friend connect to the right, you can also sign up to follow through Twitter or Facebook].
2) An Additonal Entry if you blog about this contest.
3) An Additonal Entry if you’re a new follower.
4) One entry each for posting on facebook and/or twitter.
5) Must leave a comment letting me know how you follow me, blog link to this post, facebook/twitter link, etc.
6) Contest will continue until 03/18/2011.
7) This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada. No PO Box addresses (street mailing only).

See our review here.

6 people like this post.

Review: Toys – James Patterson

Monday, March 7th, 2011



Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (March 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316097365
ISBN-13: 9780316097369
Order book here:



Order E-book here:


Hays Baker – Elite, Operative for the Agency of Change.
Lisbeth Baker – Elite, Hays’ Wife.
Lucy – Human Resistance Fighter.


It’s the year 2061. Humans are an endangered species. The ruling society is what is known as Elites. These elites are biologically designed superhumans, with enhanced engineering components. They’ve driven the human race to a second class existence, and are determined to wipe out all humans. To do this, the President has a special task for of officers. One of these officers is Hays Baker. Hays is about to have his entire existence unwind on him.


I found this book very exciting. Most of Patterson’s books are thrillers involving detectives. This was more of a spy thriller in the tradition of Jason Bourne or James Bond. There are tons of narrow escapes. There are car chases. There are falls from an airplane. There are fights. Everything you could expect, with even a little romance thrown in. The plot was interesting. The story really kept my attention, and I finished this book within a few hours.

If there were one drawback, it was that to me it seemed a little political. Maybe that was the point. I couldn’t quite place it, and maybe it’s just because it involved a futuristic political scenario, but I felt there was a statement in there somewhere, and wasn’t quite sure what the statement was.

If your a fan of James Bond, James Patterson, or Jason Bourne, then I think you’d probably enjoy this book. It was definitely a fast ride from beginning to end, and I enjoyed going on it. I look forward to reading more adventures of Hays in the future, and they did seem to leave it open for followups.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Brad at Hachette Book Groups for a review copy of this book and the giveaway. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Thanks to Brad, we’re able to offer 1 copy to a lucky reader.  Go here to see the rules and enter.

Books: Pit Stop for Marian Thomas

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

5 Easy Steps to Get Your Book Noticed by Book Clubs!

Marian L. Thomas

Talk with most authors and they all have one thing in common—to get their books noticed by as many book readers as possible. Book Clubs today have become the means to accomplish that task. Book clubs represent book lovers, and book lovers are the ones that buy books. So how do you get your book noticed by book clubs?

Hopefully, following these 5 easy steps will help .

Step #1- Website. Get a website created with your own custom domain name. It has been common in the industry to see author domain names that are geared toward the title of their first book, however, it might be more effectively in the long run to get a domain name that features your first and last author name. For example: Why Important? Book clubs need somewhere to go to read more about you, your book (s) and to see how to purchase your book. A website also helps you establish creditability as a serious author.

Include on your website the following:

-Home Page: a photo of yourself is often displayed on the home page.

-BIO: Keep it simple but give it some substance.

-Book Page: Book Synopsis, Purchase Links for Your Book, Reviews, Links to Book Trailer

-Media:  To set up this page, first make sure you set-up a free press room at Once your press room has been created, ensure that any press releases that are written about your book, book events or other news that is media worthy is linked to your press room. You can then add a link to your press room under your Media tab. Be sure to include any links to articles that you have written or radio shows on this page.

-Contact: Use this page for comments, a way for readers to reach you or as a guest book.

-Calendar: Must have! Google Calendar is great, free and can be embedded on your website.

Step #2 – Sponsorship. Sponsor 3 to 5 book club meetings during the first month of your book release. Book clubs are often looking for sponsors for their events or meetings.  The result,  if you get 25 to 50 book club members  the first month of your release, that’s 25 to 50 more people that know about your book! Word of mouth is vital as you continue on your journey to authorship. Look for a local coffee shop to hold your events. Here’s an idea for a good theme: Coffee &  A Book. Buy the first round of coffee and consider having finger-type  foods or sandwiches if available.

Step #3 -Network. Use the Internet to invite book clubs to your event. Try websites like: to find book clubs in your area and reach out to the coordinator. Set-up a “Like” page for your book and do a search on ‘book clubs’ on facebook. Invite them to ‘like’ your page. Also, look for groups on facebook that are geared toward readers, authors, writers or poetry. Offer to send a book club president a signed copy of your book.

Step #4- Live Chats. There are many book clubs out there that won’t reside in your local area or State for that matter. You want to have a means to reach them as well. Skype can help.  Invite book clubs to schedule a ‘live’ chat with you on Skype. If they have Skype already set-up, then it’s a free call for you and them. Skype also allows you to do a video call. Of course, there are others companies that offer this, so do your research and find one that book clubs are also using.

Step #5- Cash or Credit. Make sure you display lots of copies of your book at your event and be sure to have a means for your guest to purchase them. If you have an Iphone or Blackberry, there are credit card companies out there that have great apps that can be installed on your phone. This gives you the ability to take credit cards whenever someone says “I want your book”!

About the Author:

Marian L. Thomas, reared in Chicago but lives with her biggest-supporter—her husband and their spoiled but playful dog, Winston in Atlanta, Georgia. Her debut title, Color Me Jazzmyne, went on to become an Amazon Best-Seller and was ranked as one of the” Top 100 Books”-1st Qtr 2010 by the Sankofa Literary Society Review.

Marian welcomes the release of her second book, My Father’s Colors-The Drama-Filled Journey of Naya Monà Continues to online retailers,, Barnes &, Kindle and Nook. Be sure to get your copy today! It is sure to be another Best-Seller for the author as it takes you on the journey of four individuals that lead to one destination filled with betrayal, lies and shocking secrets.

Author’s Website:

Ready to Purchase Your Copy? Click Here

Ms. Thomas is currenly (today) doing a pit stop blitz tour of different sites. Stop in to the BK Walker Event Page and leave a comment for your chance to win 1 of 5 Ebook Copies of My Father’s Colors. Share the event and leave a link in the comments section and be entered to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Fun facts and trivia throughout the day.

Stop in and leave a comment at each pit stop for your chance to win a signed copy of My Father’s Colors (a comment at each stop is mandatory to be entered into drawing). Use the linky below to visit the blogs participating on this tour.

1 people like this post.