Re-Wired – by Greg Dragon (featuring Dyane Forde) for One Breath Books

I interviewed Ned Hayes, author of Sinful Folk, a while back. Months later, I got an email from him with a very interesting offer:  Would I like to contribute to “A book podcast with very quick reviews of books. One Breath for each book…”

Say what?

Well, I gave it a shot and here it is! You can read the full written review here. But if you’d rather be moved and caressed by my lovely voiced (ha!), click on the link below and be transported to the world of Rewired. Oh, and if you’d like me to review your book, contact me for a review exchange. Your book could end up being reviewed in One Breath.


Author Interviews, Essays, Misc

Author Interview with Science Fiction Writer Shirley Gibson Coleman

Shirley Coleman, author of “Mersoon Rising”
Shirley Coleman, author of “Mersoon Rising”

Hello, everyone! It’s wonderful to see you all this fine Monday morning, and while I’m at it, I’ll add that it’s wonderful to have a special guest with us today as well: Shirely Gibson Coleman! Shirley is a published author of six novels including Mersoon Rising, a science fiction novel, but she’s been writing her whole life. Please stay a while and help me welcome her to Dropped Pebbles.

Oh, and for more information on her and her work, you can check out this excellent newspaper article .

It’s so good to meet you, Shirley. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I live with my husband of many years outside of in Michigan just. I work full-time at a district library. I don’t read books as often as I used to or would like. More often I listen to mysteries. Writing and preparing manuscripts for publication; editing both my work and at the library, there’s little time for anything else but online communications such as this. Thanks for having me. My life is quiet. I enjoy various kinds of music (jazz, rock, classical, gospel, Celtic, new age) Japanese anime, fancy sports cars, Sci-fi movies and action movies, period films like Jane Eyre and  PBS mysteries and Masterpiece Theater. I’m a Dr. Who loving, Syfy channel watching, homebody with few friends.  We go walking in various parks but rarely go to the movies or anywhere else. It will be a big change for me to go off signing books and talking to a bunch of people I don’t know.

Oh, I knew you were special! I love anime as well 🙂

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing?

I’m a fair artist and can create clay sculptures, watercolors, and acrylics. Used to do vocals in a band and my husband played bass guitar but not anymore.

Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it?

I love to make up stories and I don’t remember not making up stories. I find the possibility of alien life fascinating and I believe God created other worlds with living beings.

What keeps you motivated/inspired?

Life and the people I observe or read about, motivate me to tell versions of their stories. Watching the news and hearing reactions from people I don’t know, stimulates stories. I eavesdrop a lot— story-lines or plot scenarios come about from brief encounters in everyday life. I also remember vivid dreams. One of my books came from a vivid dream.

It’s amazing what you can learn from people-watching

What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? 

I’ve written short stories but few are very good in my opinion.  But writing them is good practice. I write poetry just for myself, friends or family. I’d rather write novels. So far, I’ve completed six novels including Mersoon Rising. If you Google Shirley Gibson Coleman, reviews I penned for Library Journal should pop up. I wrote and illustrated a children’s book that was considered by Golden Books but eventually turned down.

What can you never see yourself writing?

YA books. Books about zombies, werewolves, shape-shifters or fairies.

As a reader, what do you think makes a good story?

I enjoy stories with male protagonists. I’ve grown weary of tales about contemporary women looking for Mr. Right or who have been wronged by someone. I prefer third person and have often put down a book that’s in first person. And yet I want the story to reveal secret, perhaps unsettling thoughts of the characters. I like stories with happy endings and hate it when the main character dies at the end. I read a book by a famous author once. The story was great and he had me to the last chapter. Then he killed the main character! Never read any of his other books! And it ruined me, Dyane. I’m now a spoiler reader. That is, I choose a book but I read the end first to find out who dies! That’s awful…

Um, I’ve been known to skip ahead and read the end of a few books  myself…

What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

Try with all my might not to write a tale with predictable scenes. If my readers do have an idea how a scene will end, I try to make the journey unique as possible. It isn’t easy and I’m not sure yet if I’ve accomplished it but I’d love to hear what readers think.

Okay, Readers! That’s your cue!

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I like complicated love relationships, love triangles, and hidden or quirky character flaws. I have the greatest problem with point of view. I tend to get in the head of too many characters at once in the same scene and have to do some deep editing to fix it. I think I write dialogue pretty well but I struggle with tag lines or describing movements and gestures- what characters do when they’re not talking. You know what I mean? Great writers master these little fillers and they’re seamless. I often wonder do great writers fuss over every word as I do.

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

My husband is my muse. I pick his brain and seek his opinion and often rewrite troublesome paragraphs, passages or chapters I’ve asked him to read. I’m a big fan of life science. How insects, aquatic species and animals live, survive and procreate is fascinating.  I like to apply traits from nature to aliens and invent characters almost like us yet other worldly because of the traits of Earth creatures. Examples used in my book: Changing eye colors like chameleons or sea creatures; Fathers caring for children; Birth from and egg or pods; Spiders, scorpions, snakes and other creatures sting and use venom to master their prey.  The other big influence is my belief in a Creator of the universe and the very disturbing world we live in. If my writing causes someone to look inward and find compassion for other humans no matter their origin, then I’ve done well.

What draws you to your preferred genre? Why do you think it’s so popular? (Or less popular than it could be?)

Science fiction predicts the future and promotes creative speculations of every aspect of human life and existence. I like to mix action, sexuality and imagine what aliens could be like. People, especially those who grew up with high-tech gadgetry, may not realize their world is full of science fiction items that are now science fact.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

I have two manuscripts (sci-fi/paranormal) to edit for publication. And I’m working on a third book regarding Mersoon. I just submitted to the publisher the proposal for the second book.  I write adult books with large casts, steamy sex, male leads, strong women and multiracial characters.


That sounds fascinating! I’m intrigued by stories with multi-racial characters and worlds. Everyone, here’s the blurb. I know you all want to find out more:

“Welcome to Mersoon, where the food is free, the water pure, and the drugs are good. War is constant, and the inhabitants mix with the Descendants of Earth. Long ago, the Descendants of Earth traveled on generation ships to a dual sun solar system called Rodrigo’s Suns. Now, they dominate the human-occupied planets within the System Alliance and live with alien and mixed races both friendly and hostile. Vintori Jymirr Erroc is a living legend, and the head of the Erroc and Jymirr Nations on the planet Mersoon. Throughout the System Alliance, this powerful and mysterious leader is considered to be a king of diamonds, but his dwindling Jymirr race teeters on the verge of extinction while another conflict begins with the Firfwaat Nation and its ruthless leader, Lon. As war erupts on Mersoon following a series of cyber attacks, ground and aerial invasions, and bloody clashes, an election for the new System Alliance Overseer reveals an intricate and flawed political system brimming with extortion, deception, and rebellion. Against this backdrop of bloodshed and espionage, terror and the fight for survival, Vintori and the Jymirrs struggle with relationships and temptations that will test the bounds of love and shape the future of their race-if Lon does not wipe them out first. Mersoon Rising is a riveting adult sociopolitical space opera that chronicles the lives and loves of the Jymirr race during an epic battle for the fate of a planet and an entire solar system.” 

Yes, that does sound pretty sweet. Looks like I’ll be adding that to my reading list

Do you have a blog, and if so do you promote other writers on it?

I don’t have an answer for this yet. I’m just getting started in the being published role and hope to get to the point where other writers would benefit from a promo on my site/blog. Right now, I’m not certain what readers think. Hello… I’m  listening….

Ahem, Readers…

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Insisting on uninterrupted time. It’s just me and my husband but for some reason I seem to  have less time to write. 🙂 Oh to write all day… I cope because I need my day job to well… eat and stuff. 😉 And I like spending time with my husband just about as much as writing. As the dedication says, he’s my hero.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

James Lee Burke because his characters are never perfect good guys or bad guys. Anne Rice because her words go together like poetry and she can make the impossible seem true. My favorite of her books is The Feast of all Saints which is not about vampires. Joyce Carol Oats because her characters intrigue me with their horrid ways. Samuel Delany because he’s at once classy and outrageous. Lolah Burford for the same reasons as Delany (Edward, Edward is the most uniquely despicable story I’ve ever loved reading). Susan R. Matthews because the organizations and character she created is magnificently twisted. I’ll end— but I could go on –with Stephen Donaldson for the hideous man who was then redeemed and a heroine like no other in the Gap Series of five books.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Just write what you like until you enjoy reading what you wrote. I’m on this journey too and I have blisters on my feet. We’ll all limp along and try to find a smooth path.

How can readers get into contact with you? Comment on the blog or email me.  Put “Mersoon Reader” in the subject so I won’t be reluctant to open it.  I’m on twitter #mersoonmoon.

Shirley, it was great to meet you today, and I’m confident the Readers enjoyed getting to know you as well. Thank you so much for stopping by. Readers, please let Shirley know how much you appreciated her visit by writing a message her or email her–and check out her books!

Have a great week!

Author Interviews, Essays, Misc

Author Interview with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer Charles Barouch


This Monday, we have the privilege of welcoming science fiction and fantasy author Charles Barouch to Dropped Pebbles. Charles has experience with many different forms of writing, including Manga and Children’s Books, so please stick around to discover what he has to say to say about his first creative love as well as what other projects he’s working on. 

Good Monday, Charles. Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Since, for me, writing is like breathing, I feel obligated to have something interesting to say. Combine that with my paranoia about holding just one job at a time (I’ve got 80 years experience on my resume) and I have a very wide array of experience to draw upon.

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? 

Interested, yes. Skilled, not so much. I am a good designer but I am not good at translating that into paint or clay or skyscrapers. For me, writing is more craft than art. I guess it ‘fits in’ to editing, layout, and teaching — writing as a technical skill with a strong artistic aspect.

What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

I write everything. Science Fiction, Fantasy…I have completed draft of book one of a Manga series (I just need an artist). I have six months of a Web Comic written (I just need an artist). I have over fifty print articles to my credit as a journalist. I just finished writing a Children’s Book (That one does have an artist). I used to teach poetry writing.

I can’t see myself writing Erotica or Romance. Otherwise, fiction and non-fiction are both wide open.

To you, what makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

Almost everything I have ever written has started with annoyance. I wrote my second novel because Isaac Asimov wrote something about the rules of writing which ticked me off. I wrote one of my best short stories because a book set up a great scene and then simply changed chapters without ever taking us inside the ruins by the side of the road.

A good story has characters and situations which resonate with the reader. A great story compels you to read even when you have nothing in common with the characters and the events.

As a reader, pacing and continuity are really important.

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My weakness, as my wife continually points out, is too little description. Defining my strengths is harder because it comes out like a brag. I am really good at managing the pace of my stories. I write runaway trains that drag the reader along, gasping for breath.

By the time they are edited, they are a bit slower and cleaner, but still have that underlying roar of the engine.

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

I’ve dwelt on the negatives enough. Positive influences: Nancy Kress — I want to be her when I grow up. Andre Norton. C. J. Cherryh. Robert Heinlein. So very many amazing writers. Aside from the known names: my mother, who encouraged my love of Science Fiction even though she wasn’t particularly fond of it. My wife, who pushes me to always do better. She reads a lot of what I read. We have a huge pool of common reading. My kids, who let me get away with NOTHING. They are very gifted beta-readers.

More recently, I’ve started a writing community on G+. The Theme-Thology folks have been a huge positive. Likewise, the communities run by John Ward, Traci Loudin, and others have been very helpful.


What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)

I have a lot of genres. I like Science Fiction and Fantasy because they free me to frame my ideas in the most amazing contexts. I can talk about racism, greed, power, relationships, spirituality — anything that speaks to the human condition — and it has a million ways to be expressed.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

AF_Cover_1aHere’s the blurb for Adjacent Fields, which is available for sale (Kindle/Nook/Kobo):

The business of Teleportation.
Imagine if someone invented a teleportation device and their first thought had to be: How do I market this? What if you couldn’t use a teleporter because governments are still trying to figure out how to regulate it? Rama and Walter are standing at the cusp of changing the world – if they can just get the funding.

I should have the sequel to Adjacent Fields — Adjacent Memories — out by middle 2014.

Theme-Thology: Invasion will be on sale September 28th, 2013. Theme-Thology: Day I Died will be out in November 2013. Theme-Thology: New Myths will be out in January 2014. Reality Breaks, which is a shared universe, will have its first book out in early 2014. Tales of Kassa: Kraken (I’m an editor only on this one, Madre Knight wrote it) will be out early 2014 as well.

Why is social networking and the promotion of other writers important to you?

The reason I built a community on G+ was to help people tell their stories. I routinely promote projects that I don’t publish. Writers need readers. I do what I can.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

The most difficult part is wrestling with my characters for control.

A good story requires continuity. I often find that my characters can’t follow the plot I expected to write without being wildly inconsistent. So, I sit down with a plot, lose all control to my characters, and then try to pull it all back together at the end.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

The folks I mentioned before, plus too many more. I read very broadly.

What advice would you give to new writers?

The best advice is: write, write, and write some more. Get a critiquing circle. PAY FOR REAL EDITING. Most of all: just keep writing. The first couple of novels you produce should probably never leave the drawer.

How can readers get into contact with you?

My contact information and my works in print can both be found here:


It was great to have you with us, Charles. Readers, I hope you enjoyed reading about our guest and will look him up on his site or drop him a line here. Thanks for reading!


Author Interviews

Author Interview: Embark on a Voyage of the Imagination with Zachary Bonelli


zbonelli_200Zachary Bonelli, author

Well folks, we are in for a treat. Joining us for today’s interview is none other than Zachary Bonelli. Some of you may know him from the Google+ Science Fiction Writer’s community, where is he one of the moderators, or from his upcoming serialized novel called Insomnium, or from his publishing imprint, Fuzzy Hedgehog Press. I’ve had the privilege of reading episodes of his current science-fiction serial Voyage Along the Catastrophe of Notions, which actually introduced me to a whole side of the genre I had never before experienced. Yes, it had me running for Wiki explanations (quantum theory, anyone?) but really, what a cool discovery! So, if you are brave enough, I invite you to take our hands and embark with us on a voyage into the brilliant mind of Zachary Bonelli.

1)    Zach, can you start us off by telling us a little about yourself?

I’m the author of the ongoing Voyage Along the Catastrophe of Notions series and the upcoming serialized novel Insomnium. Voyage is about the adventures of a young man named Kal as he travels between alternate universes. Insomnium is more fantastic—the escapades of a man named Nel and his friends as they seek to escape a dream universe that has trapped them all.


Six months ago, I started up my own independent publishing house, Fuzzy Hedgehog Press. What started out as just a name on my self-published ebooks quickly grew into a fully-fledged self-publishing outlet.

2)    From having read some of your work, it’s pretty clear you’re a very smart guy. Voyage, for example, is packed with science, tech and philosophy. How did your interest in those subjects contribute to you becoming a writer?

Thank you. I’d say my favorite elements of those you mentioned are philosophy and ethics. I’m fascinated by human psychology and sociology, as well as the development of human civilizations. Cultures fascinate me. I spent my twenties exploring various parts of Asia and the Pacific.

Voyage definitely contains a lot of my sense of wonder and my fascination with both real and hypothetical configurations of human cultures. Big questions in my works include topics like what our purpose is as individuals here on Earth. What are we doing with our lives? How do we distinguish important endeavours from frivolous ones?

3)    What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, etc.) and genres do you prefer to read and write? Why?

I have a strong preference for fantasy and science fiction, but I also read a lot of non-fiction. Aubry Andersen, the illustrator and artist for Voyage (whose artwork and writing you should totally check out!), taught me to read Wikipedia articles to find the seeds of story ideas. I’ve gotten a lot of traction from that technique.

Within science fiction, I’m a big fan of slipstream and new weird. China Mieville and Neil Gaiman are two of my favorites. I don’t know that I have any particular preference on format. Give me just about anything that stretches and challenges the present limits of my imagination, and I’ll gobble it up.

illustration_chapter2_530x800 Illustration by Aubry Andersen from Chapter 2 of Voyage

4)    I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What is it that makes you want to stop turning pages?

I have a bachelor’s degree in English literature, and while that program did teach me a lot about how to write and think critically, I feel that the vast majority of everything I read for that program failed at the level of narrative engagement. My professors insisted that the elements I viewed as lacking—plot and strong characterization—were “pedantic” and “shallow” and that “good literature” shouldn’t have them.

Since beginning my adventures in independent publishing, I’ve come to meet the other extreme of this argument. Some writers make plot and characterization the entire focus of their story, to the exclusion of theme, motif, and metaphor. Description and mood and setting are torn away entirely, and the only thing that matters is moving the characters through a plot.

Both extremes irritate me immensely.

What I strive for in my writing is something in between. You don’t get engagement with people’s emotions unless you have a plot and vivid characters, but you lose out on depth if you forgo metaphors, themes, and motifs. I believe a great novel weaves all these elements together.

5)   As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’ve heard many writers say this, and I’ll join their ranks—all of my characters, even my antagonists, are all small shards of myself. To draw a character I care about, and who I hope my audience will care about, I have to understand them, and the way that works for me, is to reflect on myself.

I think this will especially come through in Voyage: All Hallow’s, which is scheduled to be released this October. Partly it’s a goofy, “festive” side-story, but there’s an element of reflection on the psyche there, too.

As far as strengths and weaknesses, my biggest strength, I think, is my imagination. It always has been, and I suspect it always will be. My biggest weakness? Well, all my other skills as a writer will be forever playing catch-up with imagination, I suspect.

6)    Who are your favourite writers and why?

Norton Juster is my favorite author, and The Phantom Tollbooth is my favorite book. So many of the novel’s elements resonated highly with me—the search for purpose and meaning in a strange world, the use of setting itself as a metaphor for the characters’ struggles, even the idea of a trio of heroes adventuring through a strange land together. Readers will find all of these elements throughout my work.

7)    Can you tell us about Fuzzy Hedgehog? What other projects are you working on?

When I went to publish my first ebook back in November of 2012, I made up the publisher “Fuzzy Hedgehog Press” to put on the copyright page and in the “publisher” field on various online vendors.

Since then, I’ve started a website, even registered FHP as a small business. I’ll be working with Lightning Source for the print versions of my books. In other words, I find myself occupying a strange place between independent author/self-publisher and independent/small publisher.

fuzzy_71x60Fuzzy Hedgehog Press

In terms of writing, I’m wrapping up Voyage: Embarkation. Currently ten episodes have been released, with four more and a side-story on the way before the end of the year. I’ll also release eight episodes of my new serial Insomnium before the end of 2013, starting in October.

illustration_chapter6_530x800Illustration by Aubry Andersen, Chapter 6 of Voyage

Of course, there are four more Voyage arcs to come. The next one, Windbound, will be released throughout 2014. And I’ve got two other ideas brewing, which I’m pretty sure are standalone novels, not serials.

8)    What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Finding time to do everything. That’s been one my biggest surprises, actually, since I started this adventure over a year ago.

Early in 2012, a lot of the advice about how to start e-publishing made it sound like you’d just write up something in your free time, throw it up on Amazon, and then your bank account would just start exploding.

This presumes a lot of things. It presumes you’re going to put together a slapdash cover yourself or hire someone to do it quickly on the cheap. It presumes you’re not going to spend very much energy on editing or getting feedback (just enough to be sure your work isn’t universally hated). And it presumes that you don’t care that much about the format or presentation of your work.

Well, I do care about those things. I can’t do anything slapdash, and I don’t want to release anything until I’ve made it as awesome as I possibly can. My rough metric for determining how much editing I need works like this: my time from concept to publication is one month for every ten thousand words minimum. And I should have read over the entire work at least half a dozen times, and at least once out loud, before publishing.

Does this “slow me down” when you compare me to some other independent authors? Yes. Do I think I’m reaching a higher quality bar than I would have otherwise? Yes. Do I think it’s worth it? Absolutely.

9)    What would you want your legacy to the writing world to be?

I’ve given this a lot of thought. I think, when people see all of Insomnium, and especially when Voyage is complete four years from now, my perception of how I’d like to be perceived goes something like this: “Here’s a guy with a lot of heart, who’s experienced a lot of joy and a lot of pain, and when he looks around at the rest of the world, he sees the beauty of the human condition, but also a lot of suffering, and though he realizes he’s not without his own failings, he hopes the world is a little bit better of a place for his having been here.”

10)    How can readers get into contact with you?

You can reach out to me by email at You can also find me on my blog, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

All of my books are available from the Fuzzy Hedgehog Press website.

Zachary, it was great to chat with you today. You have such incredible and ambitious goals ahead of you, I can’t wait to see how they all turn out. Readers, please go and visit Zachary at Fuzzy Hedgehog Press, and take a look at the different projects he’s got brewing over there. Let’s support each other!

Until next time!