Friday, December 4, 2015

Weekly Roundup: December 4, 2015

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! December has arrived, and like it or not, it's time to get to work on your holiday wish list and your gift-giving list.

If you're determined to give the gift of reading but uncertain about the titles that might work for the people on your list, you might consider some advice provided the technology website Mashable this week. According to writer M.J. Franklin, the Penguin Hotline will be open again this year to provide personalized book recommendations based on information submitted by shoppers via an online form.

Franklin writes that the Penguin Hotline is "designed to help you find the perfect book for even the most particular readers. And despite its source, the Hotline is also publisher-agnostic -- recommending books from a variety of publishing houses in order to give ideas as diverse and expansive as any given reader's taste."

Sounds pretty good. But browsing is nice, too, especially when you start your shoppig early and have plenty of time to find just the right story. You'll find dozens of great books in our bookstore for the reader on your list! What could be better than a carefully selected book that reflects a friend or relative's interests and reading tastes?

Take a look around now so that you can finish your shopping and savor quieter moments during the holidays -- perhaps with a good book you've chosen for yourself.

Thank you for stopping by our blog for the roundup this week. Here as always, for your reading pleasure, we have the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share with you. 


"Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. . . . It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus."

~Enid Bagnold


A reminder from Jeana: All OTP books are on Manic Readers!

Need help choosing a great book to read?
Check out our sample chapters on

We have plenty to choose from. Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters will be updated frequently, and new releases will also be featured. 


Our latest release is the latest novel by award-winning author J.L. Greger.

In I Saw You in Beruit, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry identified only as "F" sends an email from Tabriz. “Help. Contact Almquist.” Intelligence sources determine the message refers to Sara Almquist, a former professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and draw her into the plan to identify and rescue F from Iran. 

Sara is forced to dredge up long-forgotten memories to ascertain the identity of F, taking her on a journey that shifts from her student days through her career as a globe-trotting epidemiologist. Soon she is caught in crossfire during a shoot-out in the Midwest, then put on a transport plan to the Middle East, followed by journeys in small boats and overland in Lebanon with danger as her companion. Which of her past decisions put her in jeopardy? Or is her current friendship with Sanders, an urbane state department official, the real reason she’s being attacked?

J.L. Greger writes thrillers and mystery novels with tidbits about recent scientific advances. For example, did you know Cuban researchers recently patented a vaccine against a rare type of lung cancer? When you read her thriller Malignancy, you’ll see this fact makes modern Cuba emerge from the pages of the novel.

Don’t worry if you’re not much interested in science; her novels are filled with action and suspense, twisted but convincing plots, and the characters just quirky enough to be appealing. Her other mystery/ thrillers include Coming Flu, Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, and Ignore the Pain.

While a professor in the biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, J.L. sharpened her story-telling skills with lectures in biochemistry and nutrition at eight-thirty in the morning. She found that students were more likely attend class and retain the “dry” facts if she “humanized” the science with relevant stories. She enjoys writing novels because now the facts are secondary to the story, instead of vice versa. 

Her two great passions are Bug and travel. Bug is a pet therapy dog at local hospitals and the inspiration for the Bug in her novels. She's included her travels to Bolivia and Cuba in Ignore the Pain and Malignancy. J.L. has also done consulting in the Untied Arab Emirates and Lebanon. When she's not traveling, she lives with Bug in the American Southwest. 

J.L.'s short stories focus on families and their crises. One of them, “Shoes,” won an award from the Public Safety Writers Association. Malignancy was a first-place winner in the association's 2015 Writing Competition.


Virgil Alexander was interviewed by author and interviewer Barbara M. Hodges for the fall issue of Mysterical-E Magazine. The magazine is a quarterly literary journal of mystery and the mysterious dedicated to publishing mystery stories of all types and stories of the mysterious. 

In the interview, Virgil talks about his writing process, including the research that provides the foundation for his stories and the sources of his inspiration. He also give some advice for new writers and talks about his future work, saying, "I would like to do a true historic novel; writing the actual life of a real person as factually as possible while filling in the blanks with my own imagination."

Virgil gives an interesting inside look at his writing life in this interview. You can read the full exchange here.

Virgil's The Baleful Owl was recently published by OTP, and Saints and Sinners was a second-place winner in the Public Safety Writers Association's 2014 Writing Competition. Virgil is also the author of The Wham Curse.

In The Baleful Owl, the murder of an archaeology student and attempted murder of a second pull Apache tribal officer Al Victor into what seems to him a senseless killing. The Arizona Antiquities Task Force brings deputies Bren Allred and Manny Sanchez into the case. 

They find themselves investigating a sophisticated high dollar artifact theft ring centered around the unique Baleful Owl effigy. The ruthless ring leader is not motivated by greed, but vengeance for imagined wrongs. Before the case is solved, one of the officers will be the unwitting target of the skilled assassin..


Nicholas Checker will be at Dragon's Egg Studio in Ledyard, Connecticut, to present his novels Druids and Scratch at a holiday bazaar on Saturday, December 5, from 2 to 5 p.m. The books will be available at a discount for holiday shoppers.

Scratch is a chilling tale of loyalty, friendship, and courage – set in the mysterious world of feral cats. It also contains reflections of how cultures too often misread and mistrust one another, leading to ends that might have been avoided.

White Saja, a renowned tomcat of the wild woodlands, returns to his old haunts to rescue his onetime clan from a gruesome fate. It leads him on a fearful quest into the brooding Dark Woods where he and a reluctant rival must seek the aid of a dread creature whose very name has long invoked terror in them all. Enter the pages of Scratch and discover unrelenting adventure!

Druids is a medieval fantasy adventure of an isolated lad born with an eerie sense that earns him the suspicion and contempt of those who fail to see it as a gift. He joins two renowned knights -- both caught up in a terse gender rivalry -- while on a perilous quest to liberate a ruined land from a druid-lord’s deranged sorcery.


Marilyn Meredith (aka F.M. Meredith) has several events upcoming. She will have a booth at Christmas Boutique at the Springville Ranch at the Big White Barn in Springville, California, on Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. She will have books from both her series there. 

In Springville, follow Route 190 to where the road splits off to Balch Park Rd. The Big White Barn is right there.

Then, beginning on December 7, Marilyn's novel Lingering Spirit will be on sale for 99 cents for Kindle. The sale lasts until December 11. This book is one of Marilyn’s favorite, and she describes it as "not a mystery, but a romance with a touch of the supernatural." The plot was inspired by something that happened in her family

In Lingering Spirit, Nicole Ainsworth struggles with the changes forced on her life after her police officer husband is killed in the line of duty. Her efforts to focus on her daughters and cope with her grief are kept off balance by images of Steve, her deceased husband, who seems to be trying to communicate with her. Eventually, Nicole finds that Steve isn't the only one watching over her, and she discovers a second chance at happiness.

Finally, on Thursday, December 10, at 6 p.m., Marilyn will be speaking to the new Bakersfield chapter of Sisters in Crime at Lorene’s Coffee Shop in Bakersfield, California. 

Her topic will be what it takes to write nearly 40 books.

Marilyn's Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series, published by OTP, contains 11 books, the latest of which is Violent Departures in which college student Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway. Everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.


C. Ed Traylor will be selling and signing copies of his novel The Crossing on Saturday, December 12, at The Sly Fox independent bookstore in Virden, Illinois, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. He'll do the same on Saturday, December 19, at the Girard Township Library in Girard, Illinois, from 11 a.m. to noon, and at Cherry Tree Treasures and Gifts in Carlinville, Illinois, from 1 to 3 p.m. 

The Crossing tells the story of Racheed Ul-Bashar, a Pakistani whose grandfather and sister are killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan. Driven by revenge, Racheed develops a minutely detailed plot, a synchronized strike on three American cities on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. He contacts Juan Rodrequs, a violent, ruthless drug cartel leader in Juarez, Mexico, who agrees -- for a price -- to help by moving terrorists and supplies across the border.

All goes well until Diego Garcia, a trusted ally and confidant of the cartel leader, is stopped in Illinois for a speeding violation while transporting 400 kilograms of cocaine. Facing significant prison time, Garcia becomes an informant for the FBI Terrorism Task Force to save himself. But unbeknownst to him, the other terrorists, or the task force, Racheed and his partner decide to enter the U.S. at a different location, forcing the FBI Task Force to scramble. Will they be able to eliminate the threat to some of America’s largest cities and most cherished attractions?

The Crossing was a second-place winner in the Public Safety Writers Association's 2015 Writing Competition. 


Richard Paolinelli will be appearing on author David Clarke's online radio show "Different Strokes For Different Folks" on Sunday, December 13 at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific. On the show, the host promises to help listeners find common ground and take it to the next level. The show encourages listeners "to keep an open mind and prepare to open the door to new understandings." 

Richard will be talking about his recently published mystery thriller Reservations. In the novel, which is set in a land deeply seeded in beliefs and legends, someone is eliminating the leaders of the Navajo Nation disguised as the trickster Coyote. Whoever it is has the Navajo President squarely in his sights, and everyone else “seeing things.”

As the body count rises, the FBI sends in their best man, Special Agent Jack Del Rio, to put an end to the killings -- a white man who is not trusted nor wanted. A decorated hero for thwarting a terrorist attack in London, Del Rio finds himself in a completely different world among the three Reservations -- Navajo, Hopi and Zuni -- located in the Four Corners of the American Southwest.

When the past and the present collide, only one leader shall remain.


On Tuesday, December 1, Ilene Schneider gave a talk about her books Chanukah Guilt and Unleavened Dead to an appreciative audience of senior citizens residing at The Tradition of the Palm Beaches, an independent living facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.


Serita Stevens was recently made a member of the Hollywood International Film Festival Advisory Board, which is part of the Hollywood Film Festival. The board reviews foreign entries for possible awards at the festival, which also has an international fashion aspect.

Serita reports that she "finds it interesting [to compare] foreign filmmakers' art compared with American movies. They're more art house films and [use more] limited points of view than [Americans] do." She says that she often finds herself "thinking of how I would heighten the stories or develop them differently.


David Freedland participated in the Men of Mystery conference on November 14, in Irvine, California, where he promoted his recently published Lincoln 9, winner of an honorable mention in the Public Safety Writers Association's 2014 Writing Competition.

David described his experience as follows: "As a new participant, I was assigned a guide to walk me through the process and to sit with me at my assigned table.  She was excellent, had read my book, and was highly complementary of my work.

"Surprisingly, most of the attendees sitting at my table had already read my novel and requested that I sign their copies. I shipped 20 books from my personal stock to the conference and sold 19. According to my guide, it is unusual for a rookie author to sell so many.

"Since the conference took place in Irvine, CA, where my novel takes place, several Irvine residents in attendance asked me to sign their copies. The featured speaker, C.J. Box, a New York Times bestselling author of 18 novels including the Joe Pickett series, gave an outstanding presentation, and I learned much for my next novel (which is now outlined)."

Overall, David found that the conference was a great opportunity to present his book. 


OTP has just completed an agreement to establish print-on-demand services with Amazon EU.

We're hopeful this new deal will help us add to our Amazon sales by making OTP books accessible to other geographical areas via their Amazon portals.


Robert Weibezahl continues his project to read and write about the compete works of British novelist Graham Greene (1904-1991). The most recent entry at Robert's blog looks at Greene's first volume of memoirs, A Sort of Life.

Robert writes that "the purpose in reading A Sort of Life is not to garner the facts of Greene’s life -- there have been plenty of biographies written to provide those. No, what comes from reading this book, as perhaps came from the writing of it for Greene himself, is an attempt to capture the writer’s elusive nature under glass."

You can read the complete review here. Robert is the author of The Dead Don't Forget and the upcoming novel The Wicked and the Dead.


Lorna Collins this week wrapped up her blog series about the recent trip she took to Hawaii with her husband, Larry. The trip, especially the portion in Waikiki, has been full of ups and downs. 

Lorna writes, "We’ve always said there was no such thing as a bad trip to Hawaii, but now we’ve had to modify our opinion."

Find out why in her post here.


Lesley Diehl continues her blog series about serious themes in cozy mysteries this week with guest blogger James R. Callen, author of the Father Frank series. In his post, he discusses the use of serious themes in a cozy, how he uses them, and what he recommends to keep your cozy "cozy."

He writes, "Thus, a good cozy can, and should, have a serious theme and a lighter side. Ease the serious stuff in gently. Don’t slap the reader in the face and say, 'Pay attention to this serious situation.'"

Callen's entry provides a male author's perspective to Lesley's interesting series. You can read the rest of his ideas here. 



OTP has a started a new Goodreads Giveaway, this time for A Fox with Earrings by Loyd Little. Five copies of our latest title will be given away to lucky readers in a random drawing on December 10.

In A Fox with Earrings, Nolan Chastain is three months into a consuming affair with Cass Tolley, a woman he’s known and been fascinated with for more than a decade. It is not the sort of thing Nolan is used to. Frankly, he’s a little reserved and formal. Divorced two years ago, Nolan owns a small but upscale real estate firm in Augusta.

After the first day of showing million dollar homes to a recently retired Air Force general and his wife, Nolan arrives at Cass’s home to find police cars and blue lights―Cass has been shot and killed. Clues are sparse. No sign of breaking and entering or of a struggle. Ty Marion, chief of detectives and a college friend of Nolan’s questions him.

Going into the house, they pass a stuffed fox that Cass had picked up from the taxidermist two days earlier.  For fun, she and Nolan had pinned a pair of her mother’s earrings on the fox. The police suspect Nolan, and he realizes he must discover the actual killer before the scandal taints his business and the police charge him with murder.

It's easy to participate in this giveaway by following this link. You'll need to create a Goodreads account or log in (you're already on Goodreads as an OTP author or avid reader, right?). Then just enter your address to complete your entry. Winners will be notified at the end of the contest.


That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.

We look forward to your emails! If you have a news item you'd like to submit to the Weekly Roundup, please send the details to Nancy at Photos and your personal commentary about events, expectations, and outcomes are encouraged!

Big or small, old or new, your news helps us keep our blog updated and showcases the great books and talented authors we're so proud to have published. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome too. Please do drop us a line!

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Billie Johnson, Publisher


John M. Wills said...

Overwhelming talent to suit all interests.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Great job! Aren't we the busy ones? Love it.

Amy Bennett said...

I feel like a slacker! Can't wait to add more to my reading list! Great job, everyone!

David Freedland said...

Thanks so much Billie & Jeana for posting such a great write-up regarding my conference experience! Enjoyed following the many OTP authors' adventures.

Carolyn Niethammer said...

Another energetic week for OTP authors. Some of the new titles are most intriguing.

Billie Johnson said...

Yes, I agree...another exceptional Weekly Round Up. I am always struck by how good looking OTP authors are! Handsome, manly men, and lovely ladies...good looks and writing! What a combination!

Richard Paolinelli said...

Nice roundup. Looking forward to a full hour on the radio on the 13th. I recently did a 25 minute segment on a radio program that seemed to have ended within seconds instead of 25 minutes.

Dac said...

Dang! More additions to my pile of books to read!!

Nancy LiPetri said...

Another great round-up. What interesting lives our authors lead--foreign films, research and all!

JL Greger said...

Thanks for featuring I SAW YOU IN BEIRUT.

Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

It's astounding to see how much OTP has grown since I became an author for them in 2012. Impressive to see how busy everyone is staying. Great WRU once again.

Doug Seaver said...

Great WRU! Now, on to reading some of the books.

hou said...

Yes, I agree...another exceptional Weekly Round Up. I am always struck by how good looking OTP authors are! Handsome, manly men, a lovely ladies...good looks and writing! What a combination!
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