Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekly Roundup: January 15, 2015

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup! We hope you've been following along with our hosted posts this week. Ilene Schneider posted about adapting true events to fiction, and Lorna Collins wrote about the importance of accurately depicting places in novels. Please take a look and leave your comments and questions for the authors and the OTP community.

Books by these authors—and all of our other titles—are available in the OTP bookstore, of course. Take a look and find your next compelling read!

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.

"The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade."
~Anthony Trollope

A reminder from Jeana: All OTP books are on Manic Readers!
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Just click on a title and you will be directed to a free read! These sample chapters are updated frequently, and new releases are featured. Recently added titles include Track Three, I Saw You in Beirut, A Full Bubble Off Plumb, A Fox with Earrings, and Black Indian Red Heart (White Justice)



Bert Silva's thriller New York Scramble was reviewed by Publishers Weekly's Booklife recently. The reviewer calls the novel "diverting" and ends the brief synopsis with the praise, "Silva keeps the action moving briskly."

You can read the full review here.

New York Scramble opens with a shot. "This is for you, Frank," the shooter said and fired his weapon at point blank range. The onetime boss of the New York underworld grasped his bloodied neck and fell.

This begins a curious story where a gangster and a freelance artist become acquainted through a mutual interest in---comics. A friend introduces Joe and Gilda to each other in Los Angeles. They venture to New York on a quest for success. He strives to sell cartoons to magazines. She, an actress, seeks roles on stage or screen. A producer Gilda knew in Germany is in the city to promote a major motion picture. His presence will prove to be disastrous for the couple. A shady psychiatrist, dealing in illicit drugs, creates another complication. More bad people become involved. And finally the police.


Marilyn Meredith (aka F.M. Meredith) was hosted by the Ladies of Mystery blog on December 28. She wrote about what it takes to write nearly 40 books—a topic she recently spoke about at a Bakersfield Sisters in Crime meeting.

She writes, "My first book to be published was an historical family saga based in my mother’s genealogy. That wasn’t so easy–it was rejected nearly 30 times, and rewritten over and over–before it was finally accepted. So that meant I had it made, right? Not so, the editor that took the first book moved on. When I sent in the book written about my father’s genealogy, the new editor wasn’t interested. Took a long time before I found another publisher–and many more rejections.

"The point is I wasn’t easily discouraged–and  despite many set-backs (crooked publishers, publishers who died, agents who did nothing) I kept plugging away."

You can read the full post here.

Marilyn's nearly 40 books include two mystery series. The most recent book in her Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries, published OTP, is Violent Departures.

In the eleventh of the Rocky Bluff books, 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.


J.L. Greger's international mystery thriller I Saw You in Beirut was the Saturday Sampler at Venture Galleries on January 9. Blogger Linda Pirtle quotes an early reviewer in her introduction to the novel: "This story is full of twists, some romance, and looming danger; a terrific mystery thriller."

Finally, the major ended his call and sat down across the teak table from Sara. “We’re interested in Farideh Hossein. Tell me every detail you remember. Nothing is too small. Start at the beginning.”

He placed the monitor on the table and drummed his fingers impatiently. Sara tried to organize her thoughts but was distracted. I bet the person listening would like to ring his neck for tapping on the table like that.

“I don’t remember how I met her.” She noted the major continued to tap the table. “I only remember… three incidents with Farideh.” She gulped. “I guess I’m ready. I’ll start with the most revealing. I hadn’t worked for Doc Steinhaus long. So, it must have been a Saturday in September or early October of seventy-eight.”


The day was hot. I heard a roar of the crowd at a football game in Camp Randall Stadium as I entered the almost empty, red brick building.

Four of Doc’s graduate students were in the workroom when I delivered printouts from the computer lab in a nearby building. Three hardly lifted their heads to acknowledge me. I knew why. Danny was yipping in his high tenor voice about inconsequential departmental gossip as he looked at his near empty desk. The other three politely refrained from telling him to shut up.

I sat down by Mike and waited for instructions. I had a bit of crush on Mike. As was the fashion then, he had a thick unruly beard. He muttered, “Think of a way to shut the fool up. Doc should be here shortly. He wants you to enter data for me at the computer center.”

I got up and sliced a thin sliver of chocolate cake for myself from the tired-looking birthday cake on the table in the center of the room. The grad students had celebrated Mike’s birthday the day before. Most of the cake was gone, but wax candles were strewn on the table. “Danny, do you want a piece of cake. It’s still moist.”

Danny drew a freckled hand through his carrot red hair and blinked his brown eyes at me in apparent surprise. “The baby talks.”

I ignored the insult and placed a big slice of cake on a napkin and was handing it to him when Farideh slammed into the office. As usual she wore hip-hugging, frayed blue jeans, the bell-bottom type. An off-white knit ribbed top, which showed her slim waist, clung to her torso. Despite her dark hair and black eyes, I doubt most would guess she was from Iran. She was about five seven and moved with long, smooth strides. . . .

You can read the complete excerpt here.

In I Saw You in Beirut, F, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, sends an email from Tabriz. “Help. Contact Almquist.” As Sara Almquist is drawn into the plan to identify and rescue F from Iran, she is forced to remember and re-evaluate characters from her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and from her career as a globe-trotting epidemiologist.

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?


Helen Osterman's Rogue Wave, the most recent novel in her Emma Winberry mystery series, was reviewed at Night Owl Reviews on January 9.

Reviewer Adeshr writes, "Listening to your inner voice can be either a good or bad thing - depends on how much you depend on it. Whilst this book was based on suspense, the reader is also taken to the inner world of the 'sixth sense' which makes you think that we all possess this special gift -- just how to make use of it."

You can read the complete review here.

In Rogue Wave, Emma Winberry and Nate Sandler, her significant other, plan a vacation on a sailboat on the Caribbean. Emma has misgivings about the trip and discusses it with her guardian angel who tells her there will be trials ahead. At the beginning of the sail, the ocean is calm and they relax.

While sailing from the island of Curaçao to Bonaire, they see a small uninhabited island with a lone palm tree. Emma notices a flashing light, as if someone is sending an SOS. They have no idea that Estrella Montoya, wife of a Venezuelan drug lord, is being held captive there. When returning to Curaçao, they encounter a violent storm. Nate is washed overboard by a rogue wave. Is he lost forever? How does Emma get involved with the drug lord and his family? Follow the characters through the world of storms at sea, piracy, drug lords, and heroism to the pulse-pounding conclusion.


Richard Paolinelli's mystery thriller Reservations was reviewed on the Double Plus Books blog on January 13.

In rating the novel "plusgood," reviewer Amanda Hill writes, "I was completely engaged for this entire novel. Although I had a guess at who the murderer was early on, the author led me on several hunches and had me questioning every turn. This novel reminded me of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie because the main character was so well written and the investigation was just as intriguing. There were also several timelines and plot lines used that all converged on this murder investigation, and I really enjoyed the way they all weaved together."

You can read the full review here.

Reservations 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.


Frederick Savage's Black Indian, Red Heart . . . (White Justice) was reviewed recently on Reader's Favorite. Reviewer Trudi LoPreto gives the book high praise: "What a sensational book Black Indian, Red Heart (White Justice) is in telling the story of the events leading up to and including the Indian War of 1862. . . .

"I highly recommend this book for all fans of the Civil War era, all western fans, and anyone who enjoys a book that will keep you turning the pages long into the night."

You can read the full review here.

Set in the Civil War era that takes the issues of slavery and injustice head on, Black Indian, Red Heart . . . (White Justice) follows the story of Colton Sage, the son of a runaway slave and an Indian woman. He is born free into a world of unending prejudice and bias. He grows up to become one of the most notorious Indian outlaws in the land, the infamous "Black Bat from Hell." This is a no-holds-barred account of the events that led up to the Indian war of 1862 and the largest mass execution in US history. Not for the fainthearted, this historically engaging work of fiction is told with a series of cliff hanger chapter endings and a "can’t put it down" storyline. 


John H. Gibson, author of the recently released Track Three, is a contributor to the current International Thriller Writers' Thriller Roundtable discussion, ongoing until January 17 at The Big Thrill website. The topic is "Are the lines between good and evil increasingly more ambiguous in modern thrillers?"

John writes, in part, "In popular fiction, I believe when you blur the lines between pure good and pure evil, you increase the opportunity for reader angst, reader emotional involvement and a more pleasurable reading experience. This is not to say that the hard line separation of good and evil in popular thrillers cannot be pleasurable and totally satisfying. . . . I think blurred lines are infinitely more pleasing in a thriller than not. What are your thoughts?"

You can read the discussion and add your thoughts and questions here.

In Track Three, readers come along for the ride when a popular and top-rated investigative journalist, Elliott Lawder, and Katherine Lambert, a street-wise black British street urchin, are thrown together by the untimely death of an NSA Systems Analyst. Follow the adventure of our hero and heroine as the story moves at break-neck speed from Washington to London to Brussels to The Netherlands as the two attempts to discover the answer to why every US Security Agency, including the NSA and the CIA, are trying to kill them.


Author and artist Mary Montague Sikes is scheduled to teach several upcoming painting classes. On Friday, January 15, and Saturday, January 16, she will be teaching the acrylics workshop "Paint Like Georgia O'Keefe" at the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center in Williamsburg, Virginia.

She notes that "For many years I have been fascinated by the paintings of Georgia O'Keefe, who once lived in Williamsburg. We visited the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a few years ago. While teaching at West Point Elementary School, I encouraged my young students to 'paint like Georgia'."

Students who take the workshop complete the instruction with at least one finished painting.

On consecutive Wednesdays beginning January 13, Mary is teaching "Acrylic Painting for Beginners" at Gloucester Arts on Main in Gloucester, Virginia. The class takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. Students may take one class or sign up for all.

Mary is the author of both novels and nonfiction books published by OTP. You can read about these books as well as her artistic projects at her website.



OTP children’s book author and artist Beryl Reichenberg will host a series of children’s paper craft and bookmaking classes in cities along California’s Central Coast. She’ll be showing children how to make a pop-out book of monsters and animal faces at Studios on the Park at 1130 Pine Street in Paso Robles on Friday, January 15, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday, January 24, at the Santa Maria Discovery Museum at 705 McClelland Avenue in Santa Maria from 3 to 4 p.m.

The latter event is part of the Nat Fast Children’s Art Day celebration at the Discovery Museum. This commemmoration is held each year to honor Nat Fast, a local artist who was a champion of art education for young children. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 89.  Beryl will be joining other artists from the region to bring many art projects for children.

She explains that the monster and animal faces "are relatively easy for kids to make and involve simple folding and one cut to pop out the mouth.  It’s exciting to see what kind of face the children choose to draw.  Once they draw their faces, I’ll encourage the children to make up a story about these characters. If there is time we may move onto other pop-out forms." 

On Saturday, January 23, at 1 p.m., Beryl will be at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden in San Luis Obispo helping children make a recycled book about elephant families and conservation.

Beryl will be selling her six OTP children's books and other books at these events. You can read about her writing and other creative projects at her website.


Larry K. and Lorna Collins will be the featured speakers at The Memory Keeper: A Literary Luncheon on Monday, January 18, 2016 at 11 a.m at the Costa Mesa Country Club in Costa Mesa, California. They'll be talking about and selling copies of their book, The Memory Keeper to an expected crowd of approximately 200 guests.

They’ll also be selling copies of Ghost Writer, which is set in the area and should attract the interest of attendees. The event is sponsored by the Santa Ana/Tustin and and Huntington Valley West committees of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.

In Ghost Writer, unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-great-aunt and is delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results.


Les Hoffman will be signing of his novel Sudden Justice on Wednesday, January 20, at 7 p.m., as part of the Joint Effort Leisure Ministries program sponsored by the Community Presbyterian Church in Port Aransas, Texas. The event will feature readings and a meet and greet with the author.

Les reports that this event is one of the "Winter Texan" events he plans to schedule in Port Aransas to promote his book to readers who arrive during the annual winter influx of tourists to the area.

In Sudden Justice, A Mexican drug lord expands his brutal enterprise into South Texas. An overbearing business executive entraps the women in his employ. A Southern patriarch and his son control a small Alabama town with an iron fist and a thieving hand. These situations have one thing in common. The perpetrators have found a way to operate outside the law, while the victims have nowhere to turn . . . or do they?

Bryce Daniels is a man who understands the pain and frustration of feeling helpless against the power of money and the arrogance that it breeds Resurrected from a troubled youth after the death of his father, he is now a family man, engineering professor, and community theater actor with a flair for costuming. But behind these idyllic circumstances, he uses all his skills to help those who find themselves outside the rule of law.

Daniels travels from the hills of Texas to the coastal wilds of Alabama to hunt a ruthless enemy, while being hunted himself by an investigative journalist piecing together his vigilante activities. The ensuing roller coaster of events culminates in a dire threat to himself, his family, and the belief system he has built his life around

Radine Trees Nehring will be signing copies of her novel, A Fair to Die For, at Barnes and Noble, 4144 N. College Avenue, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Saturday, January 23.  The event, from 1:00 to 4:00, is part of the Community Business Development Manager's interest in supporting local authors.

Radine writes, "If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello. The B&N cafe is highly recommended. Come for fun!"

In A Fair to Die For, it’s October, craft fair season in the Ozarks, and Carrie and Henry are helping their friend Shirley sell her quilts and Baby Cuddlys at the War Eagle Craft Fair. A mysterious cousin with ties to drug dealers appears, danger stalks the fair.

When Carrie is abducted by killers following a breakfast at War Eagle Mill, she’s afraid she won’t escape, because—though her aim in life has always been to help others out of problems—no one who can help her knows where she is. “There is no me out there to help me.” 


Additional details about these events will appear in future Roundups. 

Mary Montague Sikes will be teaching two "Creating Collage Art" classes during the month of February. The course offering through Arts Alive will take place on Wednesday, February 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pamunkey Regional Library's West Point Branch in West Point, Virginia.

The course will take place again on Saturday, February 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gloucester Arts on Main in Gloucester, Virginia. 


Marilyn Meredith hosted fellow OTP author J.L. Greger on her Marilyn's Musings blog to share some tips about keeping one's writing efforts going during winter months. Among the tips is this helpful idea:

"2) Organize your writing. I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, but I keep a running list of characters (with short profiles) and a timeline. These tools make it easier for me to quickly pick up my writing every day."

You can read all the tips here.

On January 15, Marilyn hosted Loretta Jackson and Vicki Britton to talk about finding plot ideas.  They write, "Inspiration can strike unexpectedly, sparked by some account in a museum or news article or by stories related to us by local people. As authors of the High Country Mystery Series, we are always on the lookout for new plots and settings for our books set in the fictional town of Durmont, Wyoming. This series features Jeff McQuede, a modern-day sheriff with old time values derived from his Old West namesake.

"We have explored Wyoming in depth in our search for plot ideas. We have found it strange how some perfectly good events or plot ideas never develop while others almost instantly take hold."

You can read the full post here.


Lorna Collins interviewed J.L. Greger this week, on January 11. In the interview, titled Attempting to Find in Motion What Was Lost in Space," J.L. talks about the origins of her ideas for the novel and its settings.

She writes, "[I]n the 1990s, I consulted on issues in biology (medicine and agriculture) at the United Arab Emirates University in El Ain and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. As you might expect, I saw research facilities, hospitals, and classrooms, and talked to faculty, business leaders, and students. You might be surprised to learn I also saw a testing lab for the racing camels, agricultural industries, markets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai before the creation of free zones to enhance development, and ships lining up to pass through the Strait of Hormuz. In Lebanon, I was thrilled by Phoenician ruins dating back three-to-four-thousand years and saddened by the damage war had wreaked on the beautiful city of Beirut. It was easy to see why the Lebanese bragged Beirut was once the Paris of the Middle East."

You can read here about how these travels and her work in this region influenced her current novel.


Jackie Taylor Zortman reflects poignantly this week in her Mountain Memos blog about an abiding friendship that touched her life in innumerable and memorable ways.

She writes, "He was and is very dear to my heart and will forever be.  He was part Ute and part Apache and I’ve never met a kinder and more caring individual. During a particularly dark and stressful time in my life, even though he didn’t know me personally, he would always stop me and say hello as I walked past the business in which he worked, taking my mail or bank bag down to the post office or bank from my bookstore, up the street."

Find out what was so special about this friendship here.


Mary Montague Sikes posted on her Notes Along the Way blog about returning to the The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, one of the 20 hotels featured in her coffee table book Hotels to Remember. The book contains more than 200 photographs documenting unforgettable hotels, some of which no longer exist.

Mary writes, "Hotels to Remember became a snapshot in time because, as many of those people I interviewed for the project told me, hotels are constantly undergoing change. Recently, I realized how true that statement was when we visited the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia for lunch."

Find out here how The Jefferson has changed from Mary's previous visits.


Have you entered the latest OTP Goodreads Giveaways? We have two under way right now! To participate, 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.

We're giving away five copies of J.L. Greger's thriller I Saw You in Beiruit in a giveaway that ends on January 16.

In I Saw You in Beirut, F, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, sends an email from Tabriz. “Help. Contact Almquist.” As Sara Almquist is drawn into the plan to identify and rescue F from Iran, she is forced to remember and re-evaluate characters from her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and from her career as a globe-trotting epidemiologist. 

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?

It's easy to get in on the giveaway by following this link.

We're also giving away five copies of JoAnn Smith Ainsworth's paranormal suspense thriller Expect Trouble in a drawing that will take place on January 25.

In Expect Trouble, The U.S. government recruits psychics to find Nazi spies on the East Coast during WWII. Opening herself to ridicule by revealing she’s clairvoyant is the last thing U.S. WAVE Livvy Delacourt wants, but when Uncle Sam needs her skill to track Nazi spies, she jumps in with both feet. Join this emotional journey through paranormal realms of fast-paced suspense and supernatural battles as U.S. Navy psychics pit themselves against their Nazi counterparts.

It's easy to get in on the giveaway by following this link.    


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

Finally!! The first one here!!! Great work OTP writers.

Amy Bennett said...

Wow, what a busy bunch! 2016 is getting a fast start out of the gate!

Billie Johnson said...

Yes, this was a jam-packed WRU!! Good work, everybody!

Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

Another great WRU and I have to say OTP has really become an impressive group of super busy authors. Looks like Billie's encouragements to get busy and get "out there" is working. This publishing company has grown in leaps and bounds over the three years I've been on board. YAY!

Dac said...

Wow, there's a lot going on with OTP and its authors! Nice blog, as always.

Jeff Zwagerman said...

Too much to read, so little time 😊

JL Greger said...

Jeana and Nancy have worked overtime in putting together this blog. Thanks