Interview with Janet K. Brown, Author of Victoria and the Ghost

janet (3)Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas with her husband, Charles. She began writing while her three daughters were kids but did not study the craft or submit her work until she retired  in October,2005. Writing became a second career.

4RV Publishing released Janet’s debut novel, an inspirational young adult, Victoria and the Ghost, July 25, 2012.

She studies her three grandchildren for help with teen expressions and actions.

Pen-L Publishing released Janet’s non-fiction book, Divine Dining Dec. 6, 2012. It’s a 365 devotion book to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness.

Janet belongs to such writing groups as ACFW, OWFI, CWFI, and RWA and continues to write short stories for teens and adults.

She and her husband love to travel with their RV, visit with family, and work in their church.

Contact Janet at:


Or E-mail:



Thank you for joining us today, Janet. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Through the years of rearing my three daughters and supporting my husband’s success, I wrote as therapy for depression despite my busy hours. I loved my life, but because of my own choice, as with most mothers, I hid my desires and reveled in those of my family. In 2005, I realized time was passing for me to enjoy my oldest granddaughter, so I retired from my job as medical coder and bookkeeper for a pulmonary doctor and set out to enjoy grandkids and write.

I joined a local RWA chapter, studied everything they threw at me, wrote, and submitted to one publisher after another. Thank God, I improved over those first efforts, and thanks also, for Vivian Zabel and 4RV Publishing for offering me my first contract, only 6 years after I started, a proverbial short time in trying to sell your first book. God does give us the desires of our heart.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I love to write. My first story came in junior high. My English teacher that year dished out more aggravation to me than to any of my fellow students. At the end of the year, she told me she did that because she saw promise in my writing. Imagine that, a little Texas girl who was so shy she trembled at walking into class every day.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

Years ago, I wrote a coming-of-age novel about a college girl. It was my princess falls for a criminal and saves him from himself piece. Victoria and the Ghost was my first teen story. I’ve always loved writing for teenagers. I think I never quite grew up. I’ve written teen short stories for several years. I discovered Clara Cemetery, the real place for part of my setting for Victoria and the Ghost about the time my granddaughter was going through her rebellious teens. The two things just clicked in my feeble brain.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

Favorite part – It’s just plain fun. You have the freedom to say things an adult wouldn’t say for fear they’d offend someone. Giggle.

Greatest challenge – Hands down, it’s keeping up with the latest technology  that’s commonplace with teens. Also keeping abreast of the “in” sayings. Thank God for my grandkids’ help and kids in my church. They never realize how much I study them.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

At fifteen, Victoria, a city girl, loses her mother’s love and copes with country isolation, no friends, and no one who cares, until she meets a ghost.

When her mother leaves the family to become a Dallas trophy wife, Victoria’s dad moves her and her sister to a North Texas farm to herd cattle and raise chickens. Refusing to believe this is more than a temporary set-back, Victoria tries to make new friends which isn’t an easy task. The first one stabs her in the back with gossip and a sharp tongue. Meanwhile, her new stepsister takes Victoria’s place in her mother’s heart. Rejection and anger stalk Victoria like a rattlesnake in the cemetery. Good thing she makes friends with a ghost and through him, a good-looking teenaged cowboy.

What inspired you to write it?Victoria and the Ghost - Cover

As I said, the real Clara Cemetery caught my attention, a well-maintained area on the lonely plains, like a Garden of Eden in the midst of desert. Another thing, that brought that inspiration was my granddaughter left a huge high school to go to graduate from a much smaller one with only 100 in her graduating class. She called it “that hick school.” Funny, but that made me think how traumatic something like that is to a teen.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

You can purchase it from my publisher at:

It can also be found on Amazon. The link is:

What is up next for you?

I’m 2/3 through with a sequel to Victoria and the Ghost. For those who read that one, they will remember Victoria’s irritating friend/enemy, red-headed Shelley. This will be her story of a country girl who must move to the city without friends or horses.

Her father gets a job as a janitor at the old Collin County Courthouse. When he fights alcoholism, Shelley covers his job for him. I explore the ghost legend at the old courthouse at McKinney, Texas. My working title for the manuscript is A Ghost for Shelley.

I plan on once again pitching it to Vivian Zabel at 4RV Publishing. I can only keep my fingers crossed.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Janet. We wish you much success.

Thank you so much, Cheryl, for allowing me to tell you and your readers about my story.


A Boy Called Duct Tape by Christopher Cloud

 A fast-paced, action-packed adventure story is what you’ll find in the young adult novel titled, A Boy Called Duct Tape.

Pedro Perez’s family is poor–so poor, his classmates have taken to calling him Duct Tape for the tape that holds his sneakers together. When Pedro discovers a $20 gold coin at the bottom of Harper’s Hole, he’s sure he’s found a piece of Jesse James’s treasure, rumored to be hidden in the Ozark mountains. Hiring a local spelunker, Pedro, his younger sister, Pia, and their 13-year-old cousin, Kiki, go on an underground adventure in the hopes of finding a treasure that could change all their lives.

Author Christopher Cloud has created an exciting adventure story with A Boy Called Duct Tape. A 12-year-old unpopular kid, his nine-year-old sister with a bad leg, and his cousin who is visiting, are an engaging trio of young treasure hunters. After performing research to find out how much the $20 gold coin is worth, Pedro is convinced it is part of the spoils from the James brothers’ heists. The three decide to hire Monroe Huff, a local spelunker to guide them through the cave using a $1 treasure map sold at the county fair.

A Boy Called Duct Tape is part history lesson, part geology lesson, and all pure enjoyment. Simpler in content than some young adult novels geared toward an older audience, the constant action will keep readers turning the pages. Cloud’s style and a superb plot blend together with his wonderful cast of characters to provide an overall great story.

As a parent, I only had one complaint. No mother in her right mind would allow her two young children and her niece to make a potentially life-threatening journey with a total stranger. While the reader isn’t privy to how Pedro unfurls his plan to his mother, she is the one who drives the three kids to meet Monroe Huff on the day they start their treasure hunt; and she knows they might be staying overnight. She briefly talks with Huff and then tells the kids she trusts him, gushing over how he called her ma’am. Now, I could easily believe the kids hatched this plan and didn’t tell the mother they were taking off with Huff, leaving behind a note for her to find once she returned home from work that day, but having the mother approve of the trip after meeting Huff once was a huge stumbling block for me. It’s the one dent in what is otherwise a flawless read.

A Boy Called Duct Tape by Christopher Cloud is a fabulous book. I’ll definitely be looking for more from him in the future.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Paperback:188 pages
  • Publisher:CreateSpace (April 6, 2012)
  • ISBN-10:1470006332
  • ISBN-13: 978-1470006334
  • SRP:  $8.35
  • Kindle version: $.99

I received a free Kindle version of this book through Pump Up Y our Book virtual book tours in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Review: The Priest and The Peaches by Larry Peterson

Travel back to the Bronx in the unforgettable journey of the Peach kids and their ally Father Sullivan.

When Pops passes away, the newly orphaned Peach kids struggle to know what to do. Over the course of the next few days, they learn exactly what their father meant to so many people. When their neighbor decides to create problems for the unsupervised children living above her, they find a staunch ally in Father Sullivan. With his help, they soon come to know the importance of family, faith and forgiveness.

The Priest and the Peaches is the debut young adult historical e-book released by Tribute Books and authored by Larry Peterson. Peterson also wrote Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes, which we reviewed here. This is a moving story of one family’s life turned upside down by the sudden and unexpected death of their father. In addition to Peterson’s keen eye for detail, he provides readers a good glimpse into life in the Bronx in the mid-60’s. What I feel the author excelled in is how the characters evolved throughout the story. I was glad to see that not everyone had a change of heart, which kept the story real.

The book has an excellent message of how faith and family play a significant role in our lives. It also shares the message of forgiveness and second chances. What I truly enjoyed is how the story showed that kids often don’t know everything about their parents and the impact they have on other people. The Peach kids and the readers learn that Pops is a lot more than meets the eye.

I didn’t, however, care for the third person omniscient point of view. This book has a strong narrator, and as such, it was harder to get inside the characters’ heads than if the book was told from a different POV. Sometimes the characters sounded the same to me, and I didn’t like how the narrator would step outside of the present story to mention how things would play out in the future. I felt the book would have been stronger and moved more swiftly if told perhaps from Teddy’s point of view. Teddy is the oldest of the Peach kids and is now responsible, along with his seventeen-year-old sister, Joanie to care for their three younger brothers.

The Priest and The Peaches by Larry Peterson is a story you won’t soon forget. It inspires with its excellent messages. It will touch your heart and even make you laugh at times. I’m glad to hear the author is working on a sequel. I would love to know more about the Peaches.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Publisher:  Tribute Books

ISBN: 978-0-9837418-4-8
ISBN: 978-1-4658-6327-0
Pages: 285

The book’s official site is:

Larry Peterson’s blog:

Larry Peterson’s Facebook:!/larrytpbx

Larry Peterson’s Twitter:

Tribute Books website:

Tribute Books Facebook:

Tribute Books Twitter:

Kindle buy link

Nook buy link (coming soon)

iBookstore buy link (coming soon)

Smashwords buy link

PDF buy link


Interview with Beth Goobie, Author of Born Ugly

Beth Goobie graduated from the University of Winnipeg and the Mennonite Brethren Bible College. She is an award-winning writer of young adult fiction and is best known for her quirky and dark stories. Her novel Before Wings won the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award in 2000, and was chosen by young readers for the Best Books list of the American Library Association. Her novel, Born Ugly, was released in September.

Thank you for joining us today, Beth. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’d be glad to. I was born in 1959 and am currently 52 years old. I’ve been through a lot of changes in my life. I’ve lived in five different Canadian provinces, as well as a small Dutch village. At one point I was religious, and now I’m not. I’ve worked as everything from a weed-puller, janitor, piano teacher and nanny, to a group home staff. In addition, I’ve been through two major illnesses, one of which left me legally blind in my left eye at the age of twenty-four; both illnesses dramatically altered the direction of my life. All these experiences significantly changed the way I grew up thinking. I’m grateful for that.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I started reading. I still have a story about a princess that I wrote at age six.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

With respect, I’ve never thought of what I do as writing for a market. I write primarily for myself – for the teenager who still lives inside me. If it works for the fifteen-year-old me, there is hope it will connect with other young people. But I never think of those young people as a “market.” That’s the publisher’s job.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

My favorite part of writing for teenagers is living the teenage characters that I’m currently writing about. I find young people to be vivid, smart, funny, and vulnerable. Trying to keep up with the characters in my novels keeps me on my toes, makes me feel more alive in my ancient, 52-year-old body – as if there are still more changes ahead of me, as if further growth is still possible.

The biggest challenge in writing for YA readers is the same as it is in writing for any genre or age group – to get up every day, ignore the “I can’t” voice in my head, and firmly, steadily write another paragraph, another page, another chapter. It’s the discipline of it all – the discipline of hope.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Born Ugly is about a decidedly non-photogenic sixteen-year-old girl named Shirley, and the way she is treated, which is despicably. Basically it’s about bullying based on appearance. Shirley also gets caught up – unwittingly – in the drug trade, but it’s primarily about how society treats those it deems physically unattractive.

What inspired you to write it?

My appearance comes in around average, but in junior high I looked odd. I come from a low-income family, and in junior high I was still wearing the cat-eye glasses I had initially received in grade three, as well as polyester pants I had started wearing in grade five. In addition, I had prominent buck teeth and braces. I was an obvious target for bullies, and they let me have it – remorselessly. And, like Shirley, I was also being abused at home, so I had nowhere to turn for comfort. As an adult, I felt a need to go back and give voice to those experiences – that part of me that so often had to endure being called “Dog Face.” Born Ugly is the result.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

As far as I know, your local bookstore. If there isn’t one on the shelf, you can ask the clerk to special-order one in – there should be no extra cost.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

No. Since I’m legally blind in my left eye, the resulting double focus means a headache if I spend much time on a computer or watching TV. So I don’t.

What is up next for you?

Red Deer Press has accepted an “easy-read” juvenile novel called Jason’s Why for publication in 2012. It’s about a nine-year-old boy’s first few days in a group home. And I’m currently completing my 17th YA novel. After that, I’ve got the first thirty pages of another YA novel waiting.

Do you have anything else to add?

I would like to express my immense gratitude to the Canada Council for the creative writing grant that funded the writing of Born Ugly. And if anyone is looking for a respectful, scrupulous editing and publishing experience, I heartily recommend Peter Carver and Red Deer Press. Thanks also to The Children’s and Teens Book Connection for your interest.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Beth. We wish you much success.

Interview with Laura Burks, Author of Altered

Joining us today is Laura Burks, author of Altered, a young adult paranormal romance mystery novel.

Thank you for being here, Laura. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Sure, and thanks for letting me join you today.

I live in the Deep South with my husband and our two teenagers.  As most houses with teenagers, things can get very hectic, but fun. The most exciting part of my day is hearing what they’ve done and their accomplishments. High school and college can be so interesting seen through the eyes of your kids.

As for the other part of my day, when I’m not writing or keeping up with whatever life throws at me, I work part time giving back to my community teaching a “Get Real About Violence” course in our local elementary schools. A few months out of the year I work with middle school students in our Youth Legislature Program.

And for fun, I love the outdoors, boating, vacations, watching movies and just hanging out with my family. 

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

The writing bug found me when I wasn’t looking. Writing, for me, came in many different forms – freelance, poetry, speeches, and then the big bug hit and had me itching with ideas.  I held the idea of Altered for a short time, and then I shared my thoughts with my family. With their encouragement, I began that very same day.

It was March, 2009 when I wrote the first line of Altered.  It was finished in a few months, or at least I thought it was. Then I learned how to edit. Editing can be a nightmare at times, and it’s not just for new writers. Every book written goes through so many stages until it’s ready for submission. Being new, I had no idea what it really took to have a book published.

Here’s the back page blurb for Altered:

Hearing her name started it all…

All eighteen-year-old Jenna wants to do is have a slow paced and predictable summer in the small town of New Roads with her grandfather. But on Friday the thirteenth, the unpredictable occurs when she mysteriously hears a voice leading her to a buried book. Jenna is unaware that a secret curse lies within and she’s just unleashed its hold.

As writings appear in the book strangely matching her vivid dreams, Jenna’s curious nature takes over pulling her deeper into the mystery and the connection to her family. What she didn’t expect to find was a forbidden love and a choice to save a life.

Will Jenna’s choice remain a secret? Or did the secret choose her?

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

Although I’m not a teenager anymore, and I won’t say how long ago that was, I’ve always been drawn to the young adult genre. They’re fresh, fun, and every age from teen on up can relate. I like the voice, the atmosphere created, and the ease of being able to grasp the story. In today’s market, young adult novels are probably selling more to adults than ever before. I guess I’m not the only one who is captivated by this genre.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

Because I have two teenagers myself (well, one is almost twenty) my favorite part is the innocence of the characters and how you can create their growing, learning and maturing at just the right times.

The greatest challenge in writing for the young adult market is to not give in to what society sees, but to show other sides of their personality that’s just as important.  I find the media doesn’t always give the youth of today the credit they deserve. If you really give them a chance, you’ll see very caring, loving, wanting to be accepted young adults who are trying to find their way.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

I’m working on two young adult novels. At this time, neither is paranormal. One of the novels is a shared project with my daughter.

I’ve had several requests for a sequel to Altered, and the idea is very tempting. So far, the paranormal romance mystery element seems to be going over very well. With that in mind, I might change one of my novels to that sub-genre. Like I mentioned, it’s very tempting.

What inspired you to write it?

My family’s encouragement inspired me to start writing, but the adrenaline once I started kept me going. It’s like a strange, but good, addiction to want to finish full circle. I found myself craving to want to learn more and hone the craft of writing. I felt like a sponge soaking in everything I could to learn the market: writing, editing, submitting, rejections (yes, you have to learn to accept those, too) publishing, and now marketing.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Altered is available in both print and epub and can be purchased on Amazon,, or ordered through your local bookstore. I also have a website with order information. Here are all the order links:

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, I have a website with novel excerpts, more about me, a book trailer video, reviews, contact and order information, appearances, my blog, a facebook fan page, and more. Please feel free to contact me. I love hearing from readers.  Here are the links:

What is up next for you?

Right now I’m concentrating on marketing my novel, Altered, and gearing up to finish my other novels. I’m having a lot of fun meeting other authors and readers throughout the online community as well as meeting them face-to-face. 

I’m also going to be on “The Around Town” show, which is local in my area, in October. I’m very excited about that. If possible, I’ll have the link posted on my website.

Do you have anything else to add?

Of course, I always do. Being able to share what was on my computer for my eyes only for so long with others is such a humbling experience. People ask me if I’m excited to be published. My answer to that is yes, but in a grateful way. If it weren’t for Wings ePress giving me the chance, and the readers support and encouragement to continue writing, I’d still be in the edit mode wondering what if.

To those out there that are wondering if you are a writer or not, don’t worry. All of us who write, whether published or not, ask that question all the time. Being published is not what makes you a writer. What makes you a writer is your desire to be one.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Laura. We wish you much success.

Thanks for having me today. And I wish you much success as well.