Friday, March 31, 2017

On the Hot Seat with Philip Cioffari, Author of 'The Bronx Kill'

Philip Cioffari is the author of the novels: DARK ROAD, DEAD END; JESUSVILLE;  CATHOLIC BOYS; and the short story collection, A HISTORY OF THINGS LOST OR BROKEN, which won the Tartt Fiction Prize, and the D. H. Lawrence award for fiction. His short stories have been published widely in commercial and literary magazines and anthologies, including North American Review, Playboy, Michigan Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, Florida Fiction, and Southern Humanities Review. He has written and directed for Off and Off-Off Broadway. His Indie feature film, which he wrote and directed, LOVE IN THE AGE OF DION, has won numerous awards, including Best Feature Film at the Long Island Int’l Film Expo, and Best Director at the NY Independent Film & Video Festival. He is a Professor of English, and director of the Performing and Literary Arts Honors Program, at William Paterson University. 
Check out the author's works on Amazon:
Connect with the author on the web:  / #philipcioffari
Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
My novel, The Bronx Kill, is about a drowning death and the effect it has on those involved in the incident. When, on a hot August night, five teenage friends challenge each other to swim the East River from the Bronx to Queens, one boy drowns and the body of the only girl among them is never found. The three survivors take a vow never again to speak about the incident. When they reunite five years later, they find themselves at the mercy of the drowned boy’s brother, an NYPD detective, who holds them responsible for his brother’s death and vows to bring them to justice by any means possible. Now, Danny Baker, one of the three survivors, must fight not only to preserve his childhood friendships but to save himself and his friends from the detective’s brand of vigilante justice.
My inspiration was that I wanted to write about the complexity and durability of friendship. The apparent and not-so-apparent ties that bind us, the debts we owe one another, the divisive factors that can tear a friendship apart, the loyalties that can supersede everything, even ethical and moral principles—these are my concerns here.
In particular, my focus is on friendship that originates in childhood, that continues to hold us together long after childhood ends, friendship that develops and matures over time, that changes as the dynamic of the relationship changes, friendship that allows us at its best to be individuals within the larger framework of the we.
The characters in this novel have been friends since grade school. They have experienced the small triumphs and defeats that occur in playgrounds and alleys, on handball courts and ballfields. They have endured the mean streets of the Bronx, faced hardship, humiliation and loss; but it isn’t until their mid-twenties that they must confront the most severe test of their loyalty to one another. I wrote it as a suspense thriller because I thought that was the most effective way to engage the reader in this story.

Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
My publisher, Livingston Press/University of West Alabama, is a small Indie publisher dedicated to publishing novels of exceptional quality. They have published all of my books, and have proven to be extremely professional and supportive. 
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing the story, or did it come later?
The title came before I began writing. The Bronx Kill is a channel of water that runs between the Harlem River and the East River, so named by the early Dutch who settled the area. Once I came across that name I knew I would one day use it as the title of a book. Besides its literal meaning, it invites metaphorical interpretation. Of course it refers to the drowning death that begins the novel. Its other references I’ll leave for the reader to discover.
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
I thought it should be dark, gritty, and urban to reflect the setting and help set the tone for the reader.
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
Amanda Nolin. My publisher hired the cover designer, and showed me the projected cover early on. So normally I don’t have direct contact with the designer. For this book, the designer chose a photo I’d taken while doing research for the novel. It shows a river-like body of murky water in an industrial Bronx setting—which was perfect for the book.
How was your experience working with the designer?
The designer did the lettering which was a dark red against the grey and black tones of the river and shoreline. I loved what she did, though I didn’t have access to her directly.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
So far, it’s been very positive.
What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
Make sure they read the book. Discuss your feelings and ideas about the kind of look you want the cover to have. See if they have a feeling for the emotional content of the book.
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
I feel the cover design reflects the emotional intensity of the story in a vivid way, which is what I most want from a cover design.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spotlight and Chapter Reveal: Echoes of Terror, by Maris Soule

Title: Echoes of Terror
Author: Maris Soule
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Five Star

Find out more on Amazon

The latest release by award-winning novelist Maris Soule, Echoes of Terror is a taut, tense tale about secrets, deadly intentions, and what happens when murder hits way too close to home.   Set against the backdrop of Skagway, Alaska,Echoes of Terror introduces protagonist Katherine Ward, a Skagway police officer who finds herself thrust in extraordinary—and extraordinarily frightening--circumstances when her past, present and future threaten to collide in a most dangerous way.

About Echoes of Terror:  Rural Skagway, Alaska’s small police force is accustomed to an occasional crime--a stolen bike here, a DUI there.  But when a teenager goes missing, the Skagway Police force is hardly prepared, especially with its Police Chief  in the hospital and an officer missing. Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years earlier.  Soon, Katherine realizes what originally appeared to be the case of a rebellious teen runaway is anything but.  There’s something—or someone—sinister at work in this usually quiet town and a teenager’s life is in danger.

But missing teen Misty Morgan isn’t your average teenage girl:  she’s the daughter of a billionaire.  Misty thought running off with a college boy would get her father’s attention, but now she and another kidnapped teen are praying for their lives at the hands of a ruthless kidnapper. Stuck in China on a business trip, Misty’s father suspected his daughter was up to something and asked his longtime friend, Marine veteran Vince Nanini, to fly to Alaska and stop Misty. Problem is, Vince arrives too late to stop the kidnapping, and the police aren’t eager to let him help find the missing teen.

When Katherine realizes the same man who kidnapped and raped her years ago is the one holding Misty and the other teenager, the terror of those months in captivity resurfaces.  Together, Katherine and Vince must figure out where the kidnapper has taken two teenagers, and fast.  But nothing is at it seems in this race to stop a madman before he kills again. The clock is ticking—and this time, the past is close behind. Dangerously close behind…

Brimming with tension, filled with twists and turns, and resplendent with pulse-quickening suspense that reaches a dramatic and shocking crescendo, Echoes of Terror is a bone-chilling tale that grabs readers and doesn’t let go. Award-winning novelist Maris Soule delivers a briskly paced, masterfully plotted, spine-tinglingly realistic thriller that will leave readers gasping for breath.

According to bestselling novelist Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman mystery series, “The pace and writing will keep you turning pages. And the twist at the end?  I didn’t see if coming. Do yourself a favor and read this thriller now.”


7:25 a.m. Thursday
“That guy is a frickin’ idiot.”
“Who’s an idiot?”
Brian Bane glanced at the girl sitting next to him before again splitting his attention between the twisting road in front of his Chevy Blazer and the tailgating Ford Explorer. On their right the roadway dropped over a thousand feet. As much as he liked excitement, this Internet-born adventure was not starting out as he’d imagined.
“The guy behind us,” he said, keeping a tight hold on the steering wheel. “He came up out of nowhere. Now he’s all over my ass. Like there’s any way for me to go faster up this grade.”
Misty—or Miss T as she was known on ChatPlace—twisted in her seat to look behind them. Her wild, blonde curls brushed her shoulders, and her mini-skirt showed a teasing view of her inner thigh. “Shit,” she hissed through her teeth.
“What?” Brian said.
“He sent Vince.”
“Who sent Vince?”
“My dad.”
“Your dad?” Brain didn’t like the sound of that. “So who’s Vince?”
“He’s a guy Dad knew in the Marines. He’s supposed to do computer security for my dad’s business, but he keeps acting like he’s my bodyguard. I can’t do a frickin’ thing without him showing up.”
She flopped back against the seat, and crossed her arms over her chest. The fact that her old man had sent someone after her, and the way she was pouting, didn’t bode well. For the first time since he’d picked Misty up in Skagway, Brian wasn’t so certain she was the eighteen years she’d advertised.
“How old are you, Misty? Your real age, I mean.”
She glared at him, and then looked away. “Age is meaningless.”
Meaningless, my ass, he thought. Damn, I’m so screwed. He was about to take an under-aged girl into Canada. No wonder some steroid filled ex-Marine with an over attachment to the boss’s daughter was after him. He’d be lucky if he wasn’t arrested as an International felon.
“Do you think—?”
A thump to the back corner bumper sent the Blazer into a fishtail, and Brian gasped, clinging to the steering wheel as he fought to bring the car back under control. “Jeez, Misty, your dad’s buddy just rammed us.”
“Then step on the gas,” Misty ordered, giving a quick glance behind them. “Outrun him.”
“In this thing?” The old Blazer was tired iron. The first part of the Klondike Highway, from Skagway to White Pass and the Canadian line, was a twisting, turning two-laner that rose from sea level to over three thousand feet. The steep incline was already taxing the engine. They’d be lucky to outrun a snowplow through this stretch.
Again the Explorer rammed into them, this time lurching them straight toward the guardrail as the road turned. Misty yelped and grabbed at the door. Brian swung the wheel. The sensation of the front right fender grating on metal vibrated through the steering column. When they came out of the turn, the Explorer was nearly side by side.
“Your dad’s buddy is nuts! He’s going to kill us.”
“Just go faster!”
“I’m going as fast as I can.”
The powerful Explorer began squeezing them closer to the guardrail. Jaw clenched and muscles taut, Brian struggled to keep his SUV on the pavement. Adrenalin pumped through his body, a bitter taste rising to his throat.
And then his heart nearly stopped.
Just a few hundred feet ahead, the guardrail turned into a twisted, jagged strip of metal that hung limply to the ground. Open air replaced protection. One bump from the Explorer as they passed that broken section of guardrail, and they’d definitely be going over the edge, tumbling down the mountainside.
“That’s it, Babe.”
Brian pulled his foot from the gas and began to brake.
“What are you doing? Don’t slow down!”
“Forget it,” he said in disgust. Man, his friends had been right about this whole hooking up online thing. They’d tried to talk him out of it, but all Brian had been seeing was a summer traveling through Canada with a hot chick. Instead of lots of sex and partying, after this ex-Marine got through with him, he’d be lucky if all of his body parts were intact.
Brian brought the Blazer to a complete stop, his entire body shaking. The Explorer angled in front of him, preventing a forward escape. With a sigh, Brian shifted into park, and then turned toward Misty—the beautiful, sexy Miss T.
The beautiful, sexy, under-aged, Miss T, he mentally corrected. “Wouldn’t you know I’d hook up with jailbait.”
She glared at him. “So it didn’t work out. Stop whining. Vince isn’t going to do anything to you.”
“Oh yeah?” Brian sure hoped that was true. “So, what was this, just a little joy ride for you?”
“What it was is none of your business.” Once again she looked away, out the side window.
Brian stared at her for a second, kicking himself for being such an idiot, then he stepped out of the car. As he looked toward the Explorer, he wondered if he should act angry—after all, Misty had duped him. Or guilty—because he should have known she was under-age.
The other car door began to open, and Brian called out, “Listen, man, I had no idea she was—” He broke off as the man straightened and faced him. He almost laughed when he saw the bear mask . . .
Then he saw the gun.

Acclaimed novelist Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels over the last three decades. Born and raised in California, Maris majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. Maris and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th book.  Visit Maris Soule online at:

Blog Tour: The Mountain Goddess by Shelley Schanfield & Win a Copy!

We invite you to Shelley Schanfield's THE MOUNTAIN GODDESS Blog Tour! Please leave a comment to let Shelley know you stopped by and while you're at it, enter to win a free e-copy of THE MOUNTAIN GODDESS! 

Author: Shelley Schanfield
Publisher: Lake House Books
Pages: 471
Genre: Historical Fantasy

A beautiful warrior princess. A tormented prince. A terrible choice between love, duty, and spiritual freedom.

In ancient India, rebellious Dhara runs away to a sacred mountain to study with the powerful yogi Mala, a mysterious woman with a violent past. Flung by war onto an adventure-filled journey, Dhara meets and captures the heart of Siddhartha, whose skill in the martial arts and extraordinary mental powers equal her own.

Worldly power and pleasure seduce Dhara, creating a chasm between her and her husband, who longs to follow a sage’s solitary path. She takes on the warrior’s role Siddhartha does not want, and when she returns wounded from battle court intrigue drives them further apart. As Siddhartha’s discontent with royal life intensifies, Dhara’s guru Mala, who has returned to her life as a ruthless outlaw, seeks her former pupil for her own evil purposes.

Dhara’s and Siddhartha’s love keeps evil at bay, but their son’s birth brings on a spiritual crisis for the prince.  If he leaves his kingdom to seek enlightenment, he turns his back on love and duty and risks destroying his people. Only Dhara can convince him to stay. 


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

The scouting party found the wild-looking woman at the waterfall, asleep by the pool.
“Stay, daughter,” Dhara’s father hissed. She pulled her pony’s reins and halted next to his sturdy horse.
“Who is she, Father?” Dhara whispered back, unable to look away from this apparition, whose skin was as dark as the fearsome goddess Kali’s. She wore a deerskin around her loins, and long, tangled black hair covered her breasts. Well-muscled arms and legs lay akimbo, as if the woman had fallen in exhaustion. A short sword in a jeweled scabbard was thrust into the faded red sash around her waist and a knife was tied to one leg.
“I see no one else, Chief Dandapani!” A young warrior crashed out of the dry underbrush. Monsoon clouds had yet to thunder against Himalaya’s peaks and drench the Koli clan’s high forest home, and dead twigs and branches crackled as he emerged.
The woman sat up straight, instantly awake. The scouting party drew swords or notched arrows, but she did not reach for her weapons. Instead, she stood up in one smooth motion, magnificent and tall. She swiveled her head with deliberate calm, as if measuring her chances against five armed men.
Who was this creature? Dhara sat proud and tall on her pony, trying to look older than her twelve years. Look at me, she wanted to shout, but the woman gave her only the briefest glance.
The woman and the chief locked eyes.
“Namaste,” she said, putting her palms together with that same deliberate slowness. “I am Mala.”
“Mala.” Dandapani gave a quick nod and shifted on his horse. “I am Dandapani, chief of the Kolis. These are our lands. Few travel them and none without our permission.”
“Chief Dandapani, my guru Asita sent me here to make a solitary retreat. I seek only to practice the Lord of Yoga’s disciplines at the mountain goddess’s sacred cave.”
 “Asita!” Dhara was astonished. She glanced up at Dhavalagiri’s snow-capped peak towering above them. It was hard to imagine that the skinny old yogi who had lived up there when Dhara was a little girl was guru to this woman, who looked more like a warrior than a wandering truth-seeker.
Dandapani cocked his head. “Asita was a great favorite among us Kolis.”
“He spoke highly of your clan,” Mala said.
Dandapani and Mala had not taken their eyes off each other. “You are hardly the first sage to seek shelter at the cave, but you may be the first woman.” He smiled faintly. “And the first to come with such a fine sword.”
Mala’s narrowed her eyes. “A woman faces many dangers when she travels alone. But now I have no further need of it. I offer the sword to you, Chief Dandapani.” 
“A fine gift. I accept.”
“Father,” Dhara said in a tremulous whisper. “We must offer hospitality to a truth-seeker…it’s dharma.”
Before Dandapani could reply, Jagai, the weapons master, spoke. “I don’t like this. How do we know who she is? They say Angulimala is hiding in the mountains with picked men, making bloody sacrifices to Black Kali and plotting against the lowland kingdoms. ”
Dhara took sharp breath. Even the isolated Koli clan had heard the rumors. The infamous outlaw queen Angulimala, who some said was Kali incarnate, had disappeared, leaving her renegade army leaderless.
Dandapani suddenly grinned. “How do we know she’s not a demoness? A mortal woman wouldn’t have dared such a journey alone.”
Mala laughed out loud. Jagai frowned and the other warriors looked startled. A powerful current was passing between her father and this woman that Dhara didn’t understand.
“Either way, we have no quarrel with you,” the chief said to Mala. “What happens in the kingdoms along Ganga’s river is no concern of ours. And even a demoness may seek wisdom.” 
“I assure you, my lord Dandapani. I am a simple yogi, seeking peace and solitude.”
A woman yogi! Seeking the highest knowledge, which once gained would make others strive to learn wisdom at her feet! Not just some clever Brahmin wife like those in the village priest’s instructive stories, who received all her learning from a wise husband but had no real mind of her own.
“Well, daughter.” Dandapani looked at Dhara. “What do you say?”
Dhara’s throat was dry. “N-namaste, Mala-ji.” She bowed her head. “Food and a bed await you in our village.”

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive an e-copy of THE MOUNTAIN GODDESS.
  • This giveaway ends midnight April 28.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Shelley Schanfield’s passion for Buddhism and yoga arose sixteen years ago, when she and her son earned black belts in Tae Kwon Do. The links between the martial arts and Buddhist techniques to calm and focus the mind fascinated her. By profession a librarian, Shelley plunged into research about the time, place, and spiritual traditions that 2500 years ago produced Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha. Yoga, in some form, has a role in all of these traditions. Its transformational teachings soon prompted Shelley to hang up her black belt and begin a yoga practice that she follows to this day.

Because she loves historical fiction, Shelley looked for a good novel about the Buddha. When she didn’t find one that satisfied her, she decided to write her own novels based on the spiritual struggles of women in the Buddha’s time. She published the first book in the Sadhana Trilogy, The Tigress and the Yogi, in 2016 and will publish the second, The Mountain Goddess in early 2017. 



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Feature: Count to One by Bishop Robert Gosselin

The prayer of Jesus in John 17 was that His Church would be one, and that together we would display the glory of God to a lost and dying world. Our unity would prove our message. Sadly, we’ve badly missed the mark.

Bishop Robert lifts the veil on what the Holy Spirit has been doing across the globe, enflaming hearts of believers everywhere to fulfill Christ’s prayer. Today, God is moving His Church to the place of unity we see in John 17! Count to One lays a simple and compelling foundation every believer can stand upon, examining the issues and answering the questions everyone asks about overcoming the barriers to genuine Christian unity.

God gave Bishop Robert an interesting task one day in prayer, telling him “I am teaching you to count to one!” The lesson was to be found in a simple truth revealed in the pages of the Scriptures. The Lord’s determination to see the unity of His Body restored and His desire to see the power of His glory displayed to a lost and dying world will strike you with deliberate force as you take in the message of Count to One.

Christ desires to see His Body as one—a powerful and life-changing reflection of His own ministry on Earth, and Bishop Robert lays out the principles that every believer in Jesus can use to begin breaking down the barriers, which have held them back and building bridges of unity within the Body of Christ. Using a combination of fascinating historical insights and refreshingly simple applications of Scripture, Bishop Robert leads you down the path to real freedom to love your brothers and sisters in Christ in a new and effective way.

Read the book and meet the family you never believed you had. Welcome home!

For more information, please visit

Bishop Robert is a voice for unity in the Body of Christ. His heart’s cry is the prayer of Jesus in John 17, that followers of Jesus may be one, and so proclaim the message of the Gospel in the power of His glory.

God gave Bishop Robert an interesting task one day in prayer, telling him “I am teaching you to count to one!” The lesson was to be found in a simple truth revealed in the pages of the scriptures. The Lord’s determination to see the unity of His Body restored and His desire to see the power of His glory displayed to a lost and dying world will strike you with deliberate force as you take in the message of Count To One. 

Bishop Robert serves as the President & Chief Executive Officer of Count to One, a ministry which exists to promote greater unity in the Body of Christ worldwide. Christ said that our love for one another would be the way the world would know that we are His disciples. As followers of Christ forgive one another and love one another - we will be in a better position to serve Jesus and fulfill the Great Commission.