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Thursday, 13 November 2008
Conor and the Crossworlds by Kevin Gerard--A Review and a Contest
Topic: Book Review

Before I get into today's post, I want to thank Kevin Gerard for visiting with us the past few days.  I have thoroughly enjoyed geting to know him and discovering his books.  Thank you, Kevin. 

Please continue reading this entire post to find out about a spectacular "treasure hunt" that will be taking place starting in January. 


In today's fast-paced world, it is often difficult to get kids to be still long enough to read.  Kevin Gerard has solved that problem wonderfully with his series of fantasy books, Conor and the Crossworlds.

The Crossworlds is a place similar to a corridor from which many parallel universes can be reached. Some of these worlds are inhabited by human-like creatures while others boast animal-like creatures with human qualities.  All the worlds are looked over by The Circle of Seven.  As with every instance of good, there must be a counterforce of evil and this comes about in the form of The Evil Circle.

We first meet Conor when he is ten and each of the books in this series see him a couple years older.  With the help and guidance of a large winged cougar, Conor is taken to the Crossworlds to help fight the evil that threatens to destroy all the worlds.  In his adventures, he learns not only about the world but also about himself and what he is capable of achieving.

Readers from 10 to 110 will find themselves instantly transported into the Crossworlds.  The characters are so realistic and well-developed, I found myself forgeting they were merely creations of Kevin Gerard.  This series is destined to give Harry Potter and the Warrior series a run for their money.

The books are written so that readers as young as ten can easily comprehend what is happening, yet adult readers will be entranced. This is truly a family series and would make a wonderful gift for all those readers on your gift lists, male or female.  I have already added it to my "to buy" list for my son's sixteenth birthday.


Kevin has buried five treasure chests with five different keys around the country. The clues to where the treasure chests are have appeared in the first three books and they will be followed by more clues online

( ). Whoever finds the treasure chests keeps the keys and wins other prizes.

Visit: to learn of the meaning of the five keys and then visit the above link for more information on the treasure hunt and a downloadable ebook from Kevin Gerard.

Finally (after leaving a kind thank you comment for Kevin) please visit one of the following links to get your own copies of the first three books in the Conor and the Crossworlds series.  Christmas shopping was never this easy!!!!

Posted by joyceanthony at 2:35 AM EST
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Wednesday, 12 November 2008
A Special Guest Post by Kevin Gerard
Topic: Blog Tours

Today I have the honor of sharing with you a story writen by Kevin Gerard-please enjoy!



Kevin Gerard


Without raising my eyelids, I reached over the rumpled bedcovers. In the early hours of another solitary morning, I searched for the warmth of her companionship. Finding nothing but cold bedding and a lingering wisp of her scent, I elevated my senses beyond their ability to resume sleep.

I listened for a familiar sound. The slightest whimpering tickled my eardrums. I waited a moment longer before opening my eyes. I wondered how long tonight's grief had lasted. Had she been scrunched up in the bay window only minutes, or had she been sobbing for hours? I couldn't possibly know, having awakened only a moment ago.

Part of me wanted to give her the time to plow through her anguish alone. After all, most doctors recommended that course of action. So many months had passed, they said, with no real recovery, no ability to resurrect herself from the terrible pain of her loss, that the time had come for her to face her sorrow head on. Some of the therapists feared she may never return from the deep, spiritual canyon that swallowed her on that dreadful day.

I felt utterly lost. I had no idea how to nurture her soul back to the world of the living. For months I followed the doctor's recommendations. After convincing her to try everything; medication, group and individual therapy, and even psychiatric treatment, I withdrew into myself, into my own misery. Every night the same scenario occurred. We would go to bed, hold each other closely, stare into each other's eyes and eventually drift off to sleep. Later, between two and three in the morning, I would wake to find myself alone.

Swinging my feet onto the floor, I checked the pillows on the dresser by the window. Jesse and Toby, our young Abyssinian males, lay curled up together, comforting each other with shared warmth. Toby lifted his face an inch above his cushion, blinking his eyes drearily.

"Don't worry, son," I whispered. "I'll only be a minute."

The golden beauty lowered his head, placing it in the exact position it previously occupied. I pulled the curtain across the front of the dresser, giving them partial shade from my bed lamp. Donning my sweatpants, moccasins and robe, I walked through the extensive master suite. Kicking cat toys out of the way with both feet, I found the top of the stairway and descended into the family room. I stopped momentarily, listening before continuing my nightly vigil. Sure of my wife's whereabouts, I proceeded through the kitchen and into the solarium. She sat in the bay window, as she did every night, dark hair tumbling down in chaotic bouquets, some strands tucked into her plump, terrycloth robe, and others finding their own path above and beyond the collar.

She stared quietly through the large, spotless pane directly in front of her nose. Her body resembled a figurine, unmoving and focused. Only her intermittent sobbing proved her identity as a living being.

I watched the lapels of her robe move slowly in and out. Then I stared at her eyes, alive and animated, darting around the spacious grass yard.

"I can see him," she said sullenly, without moving.

"What's he doing?" I inquired, grateful for the communication.

"Every time I come down here he comes back to play. He runs around and around the yard, happy as the first day we brought him here."

"Have you called to him," I asked softly.


"Maybe he'll come up on the deck. Maybe he'll even come to the door."

"No, he won't."

"Have you tried?"

Her body stiffened. Her head fell forward as her hands reached up, briskly massaging her neck.

"He might run away. I can't risk that, I can't lose him again."

The torrent began anew, as it did every morning. My wife, the woman I love more than life itself, began torturing herself again. I moved quickly to her side.

"He's dead," she wailed. "Chipper's dead and it's my fault, oh God why did I do that, why, why?"

"Shhh," I whispered softly while wrapping my arms around her waist. She let her head fall to my chest, weeping like a mother who'd lost her only child. I held her as I did every night, trying desperately to soothe the pain and provide her a moment of peace.

As I held her cheek tightly against my chest, I looked out into the yard, seeking a glimpse of our boy, Chipper, racing across the grass with his tongue slapping against his cheek. As many times as I tried, however, I never once saw him since that awful day. It was enough that he appeared for Sharyn every night. Though a horrible memory for her, at least she could spend a little time watching him in the darkness of the early morning.



* * * * *

We found Chipper at the humane society in Eureka, California. We often visited the animals, just to give them a moment's comfort and nurture ourselves in the process.

We lived modestly in Fieldbrook, a densely forested area east of McKinleyville. Our combined income afforded us a small home, perfect for cats but not fit for any canine companions. As a part-time professor and writer, I did my best to keep up with my wife's salary as a nurse in the local outpatient center. Although we wouldn't subject a dog to such small living quarters, we often went to the pound to cheer up the residents a bit.

One day fortune smiled upon me. Out of the blue a publishing house in New York picked up one of my series. Our lives changed overnight; the advance and the pledge toward the first printing convinced me we could shop for a larger home.

I received the call while working in my office at the University. Immediately thereafter I called my wife, telling her the incredible news. She sounded excited but guarded. I asked if she could talk. She answered by telling me she was at the shelter crouching in front of the most adorable Australian Shepherd she had ever seen. A male and only ten months old. He had a great name - Chipper. She asked when I could meet her at the shelter.

Twenty minutes later I passed through the front door of the Humane Society office in Eureka. After answering the greeting from the shelter volunteer, I walked quickly toward the dog enclosures. I called out for Sharyn. In return I heard an adorable little yip. Following the direction of Chipper's call, I turned a corner and found my wife sitting on a patch of soiled, wet floor in front of a canine cage. A smallish, multicolored ball of fur leaned against the opposite side of the bars, pressing his little body against my wife's thigh.

"We're getting this dog," said Sharyn.

"You bet we are," I said, rushing over to the cage. I fell to my knees and reached through the bars. Chipper didn't shy away at all. We struggled to see who could comfort the other first, with Chipper trying to lick my hand and I trying desperately to scratch his ear. I immediately felt a deep connection with him. I knew all the years of waiting for a special companion had led us to this moment. We'd adopt Chipper and save him from the shelter, but I felt sure he would rescue us in return.

Life became a whirlwind of activity over the next few months. I took a leave of absence from the university; we bought the home of our dreams, moved our meager possessions from the rented house in Fieldbrook, and had the time of our lives relocating. We celebrated every night in our new home; my wife, Toby, Jesse, Chipper the wonder dog, and me.

The home was custom contemporary on ten acres of stunning Trinidad beachfront property. It was the house I'd always imagined, a two story, four thousand square foot hideaway with six bedrooms and endless views up and down the northern California coast. It was the last property on a long, meandering, unmarked road. There wasn't another home within a quarter mile of the driveway.

As you walked from room to room, every aspect of the house swallowed you in absolute comfort. The kitchen, dining room and living room were expansive and tranquil, the master suite equally so. Sharyn insisted on decorating the bedroom and bathroom first. I remember days when I'd emerge from my writing study for a cup of tea and find her sprawled out on the living room floor with stacks of home improvement magazines. Logical as always, she systematically sifted her way through the advice of dozens of experts, finally settling on what she believed we would both enjoy.

We spent a great deal of time lounging in our bedroom. Toby, Jesse and Chipper approved of her renovations. I spent countless hours staring at the three of them, curled up in the folds of the down comforter in the wintertime.

A vast yard split the ocean view acreage between the house and the bluff. Sweeping around the deck by the large viewing windows, the emerald lawn provided Chipper with endless hours of lively fun. Left to his own devices, he would race back and forth across the thick grass until exhausted. At that moment he would plop down on the grass, forepaws stretched out in front of his body. He would enjoy a proper respite before starting his routine again. If one of us came out into the yard, however, no amount of fatigue could keep him from demanding a game of fetch.

Chipper grew into a handsome Aussie. That little puff of downy fur mushroomed into a fine looking coat, a mixture of black, brown, and white that reflected his luminous eyes. He had one mesmerizing white eye; the other was the soothing golden brown of a Labrador retriever.

With ears hitched on top of his head, and a mouth always open and grinning, Chipper made you feel better just by walking into a room. He loved attention, but sometimes feigned a snooty attitude, forcing Sharyn or me to work for his affection. Of course this posture always led me to scoop poor Chipper up in my arms, invert him, and hold him like a baby. I would kiss his nose again and again, telling him what a handsome boy he was, thoroughly embarrassing him. During these exchanges Chipper would fix me with a perplexed look, finally dropping his head to the side while searching for his mother to save him.

More than anything else, Chipper loved playing fetch. He would chase tennis balls until the crimson sun sank into the sea and then wonder why the game had ceased. He would walk around the house for another hour, holding a ball in his mouth, hoping we would get the hint that he hadn't finished playing.

As a herding animal, he possessed uncanny speed and agility. If a ball wasn't thrown with great velocity, he usually caught it within two bounces, loping back with a bored look on his face.

We established a rule early on. When playing catch with Chipper, Sharyn or I would stand toward the cliff's edge and throw the ball toward the house. Even though we installed a wooden fence along the property line, it served as a mental barrier more than a true impediment. As intelligent as Chipper seemed to us, we wouldn't hazard the chance that he might make a mistake some day.

And so it went. I worked hard on my writing projects, Sharyn worked half time at the surgical center, and we spent as much time as we could with our three boys. We'd waited a lifetime to get to this point and couldn't have been happier.

One day, late in the summer when the northern California coast becomes a true paradise, I sat in my study suffering a severe case of writer's block. Sharyn knelt in her vegetable garden, nurturing her tomatoes and cauliflower. Chipper came outside, full of energy and in a particularly mischievous mood. He jogged to the lawn, picked up his tennis ball and trotted over to Sharyn. He knew better than to walk into her garden, so he crouched at its edge, whimpering for her to play with him.

"Not now, Chipper," she replied. "I want to work here a while longer."

Chipper would not be dissuaded. He inched toward the edge of the vegetable patch, nosing the ball an inch or two closer.

"I promise I'll play with you later, okay?"

Chipper noted an optimistic tone in her response. He picked up the ball, advancing past the carrots into precious territory.

"Chipper!" my wife said, angry and frustrated. "Look what you've done. Here, give me that ball!"

Chipper offered it to her gladly. She flung it away without thinking, forgetting where she was in her fit of anger. Chipper raced away toward the ball, eager to make his mother proud.

Sharyn had just begun to feel ashamed of her outburst when she sensed something amiss. Chipper would have returned with the ball by now, anxious for another throw. Subtle apprehension quickly morphed into severe anxiety. When she heard Chipper's terrified yip, she knew without thinking what had transpired.

"Kevin!" she yelled while running toward the bluff. Chipper called out again, clearly frightened. "Kevin!" she shouted. "Come out here! Now! Hurry!"

I glanced out the window upon hearing her calls. For a moment I didn't move, but when I saw Sharyn heading toward the bluff wearing a look of utter panic, I flew downstairs toward the kitchen. Pushing through the French doors, I heard for the first time our son's horrible cries. Ignoring the creaks in my middle aged body, I vaulted over the wooden bench, hitting the lawn in full stride. I reached Sharyn just as she swung her leg over the simple fence by the bluff. I met her at the edge of the grass; together we fell to our knees and peered over the side.

Chipper gripped the loose rock of the cliff edge with petrified determination. Holding the ball in his mouth, he lurched forward when he saw us. The move proved fruitless, however, for he slid another three feet down after his attempt to climb up to us. He began crying as he slid; he seemed to know he wouldn't make it back home.

"Hold my legs," I said to my wife as I got down on my stomach. I stretched as far as I could, but I still couldn't reach Chipper. I called to him, asking him to climb a couple of feet toward my hands. He tried valiantly, crying the entire time. Unfortunately, every time he moved he slid back to his former position.

Suddenly, I felt my body moving toward Chipper. Frightened at first, I turned to see Sharyn lying on her stomach as well. Holding onto my ankles fiercely, she gave me another three feet of distance.

"Don't let him fall," she pleaded. "Oh, please, Kevin, bring him back to me."

I nodded once before turning back to Chipper. I didn't have the heart to tell her he had slipped to the very edge of the cliff. One step past that point and he would fall a hundred and fifty feet to the rocky coastline below.

Pressing forward one last time, I reached out toward our frightened child, elated as I touched his fur. Bolstered by this occurrence, I lunged forward and grabbed as much of him as I could.

Still holding his ball, Chipper tried one last time to move closer to his father. His right rear leg failed to connect with land, however, and the momentum of his kick propelled him over the edge.

"No, no, NOOOO!" I screamed as I felt the warm fur slipping through my fingers. I was losing him, there wasn't a thing I could do. I heard him whimper one last time before he tumbled over the edge of the bluff. I screamed his name, calling to him, telling him how much I loved him.

Sharyn watched in horror as the son she loved so deeply disappeared over the crest of the bluff. She nearly let go of my legs before realizing she had to pull me up or lose me too. When we finally collapsed onto the grass by the fence, she screamed hysterically.

"It's my fault!" she shrieked, holding her hands to her cheeks. "I killed him! I killed Chipper!"

She began to wail and keen in a way I'd never thought possible. Her soul boiled with grief and shame. She blamed herself for losing him; as I looked into her eyes I wondered if I might lose her as well.

"Sharyn," I said, gently but firmly. "Honey, listen to me. I've got to go down to the beach. I have to see if he survived the fall. Stay here for me; I'll be back as soon as I can."

She looked at me and nodded, her bloodshot, tear soaked eyes understanding what I had to do.

I ran toward the edge of the yard, to a small deck we'd built a few months prior. A stairway with over a hundred steps led to the ocean below. I took them three at a time, gauging my speed and balance as I prayed to the heavens for high tide. If the sea had swelled over the rocks, I thought, there was a small chance Chipper would have hit water. Weighing less than fifty pounds would decrease the impact, and maybe, just maybe...

I hit the sand running, calling for Chipper every few seconds while I raced to the spot where I thought he might be. Breathing heavily, I found the area of the beach beneath our yard.

"Chipper," I yelled. "Come on, boy, come to father!"

I heard nothing, saw nothing. The ocean looked to be at the midpoint between low and high tide. The water surged forward and receded, following its time worn pattern perfectly. I looked along the rocks, out into the water, and up and down the coastline for a hundred feet in both directions, but I didn't see him anywhere. I held my breath, wondering if it could be a sign of hope. Maybe he had miraculously survived the fall, and was now loping along the sand looking for his parents.

I searched for another fifteen minutes, and then ran out onto the beach. I called for him, yelling as loudly as I could. After waiting as long as I dared, I returned to the stairway and the long climb back to my wife.

I found her lying on the day bed in the solarium, staring up at the ceiling. She heard me come through the door but didn't stir. She had put her life on hold until I returned with news about Chipper.

"I looked, Sharyn, but I couldn't find him anywhere."

Her eyes closed, shutting the pain away from the world.

"I thought maybe he might have survived and ran down the beach, but I looked everywhere. Maybe the tide took him away, I don't know. I'm sorry."

She sucked in a deep breath, disguising a woeful sob. "No," she said, "I'm sorry. It's my fault, Kevin. In a fit of anger I threw the ball away without looking. He went after it, and now he's dead. I killed him."

"No," I said, moving to the side of the bed. "You didn't kill him. It was a horrible mistake, but you didn't kill him, Sharyn." I wrapped my arms around her shoulders, drawing her close. The flaccid state of her body frightened me; it seemed as if she had gone over the cliff with him.


* * * * *

From that day until this moment, I came to the solarium every night to find her, wrapped in a terrycloth robe, staring out the window at an image she could not banish from her mind. After all the therapy, medicine, and feline nurturing from Toby and Jesse, I realized what she needed more than anything else. She needed to spend time with Chipper in her own way; she needed to see him frolicking in the yard. She wanted desperately to watch him running as fast as he could, tongue swinging wildly on one side of his face, utterly happy with his life.

"Ready to go back to bed?" I asked quietly.

"No," she said, recoiling into the bay window. "He'll come back, I know he will."

"I know two little boys who miss their mother. They're upstairs by the bed waiting for me to bring you back to them."

She pulled the lapels of her robe together, believing she could hide from any unpleasantness in the soft thickness of the terrycloth. Sighing, she leaned forward, using her body's momentum to stand. She leaned into me, placing her cheek against my chest.

"Don't worry, Hon," I whispered. "He'll be back."

She sagged upon hearing this. The tears came, along with the admonitions. I feared some day her guilt might consume her completely.

"What was that?" she asked.

"What, what do you mean?"

"That noise, it sounded like an animal."

I was just about to say I hadn't heard anything, when the faint cry of a very young kitten floated across our yard.

"There," she said. "Did you hear it?"

"It's a cat," I said, "and young, too, by the sound of it."

"Where?" asked Sharyn, suddenly alert.

"Outside, in the yard I think."

She opened the solarium door. Another cry sailed above the grass. It was a kitten, only weeks old by the sound of its mewling. We couldn't pinpoint its location, but there was no doubt it was out there.

Sharyn ran across the deck, calling in the high pitched voice she used when speaking to our sons. Immediately the kitten's cries amplified; it knew that someone had heard it. It called out frantically, pleading with her to save it.

"It's on the bluff!" she cried. I ran to her side, grabbing her hand as we listened to the terrified animal. Sharyn hadn't been farther than the deck since the day we lost Chipper. Her vegetable garden had long since died. The grass lay as a perfect expanse, untouched by human or canine feet since that day.

"We have to save it!" she cried, peering out into the morning darkness. I could see the horrible uncertainty pounding away in her mind.

"I'll go out to the bluff," I said. "You stay here and wait for me."

"No," she said. I looked into her eyes, gazing at a part of my wife I hadn't seen in months. "I'm going too."

She clutched my hand like a lifeline. Together we walked onto the grass, following the sound of the frightened cat. When we reached the fence I thought her fear would keep her from advancing, but the cries of the tiny kitten drove her forward. Soon we were both lying on the edge of the cliff, looking over the side at a two week old calico kitten. A rush of horror passed through me as I saw the poor animal sitting in almost the same place Chipper had been the day we lost him.

The cat surged forward when it saw us. It couldn't make any real progress because of its age, though, so when it climbed a few inches it would invariably stumble back toward the edge.

"Oh, God," said Sharyn as she threw herself forward. I nearly missed her ankles as she scrambled by me. Holding her securely, I inched toward the edge slowly.

"I can't reach it," she said, frustrated. She cooed to the little cat. "Come on, come up here, you can do it."

I gave her as much slack as I could without putting both of us in danger. I heard her anxious cries as she tried to coax the cat up into her arms. Suddenly, she became excited, asking the cat to come up a little more, a little farther, just a little closer.

"I've got it!" she said.

I told her to hold on while I dragged her up the cliff. When we reached the fence she rolled over. A white, black, and brown Calico kitten sat securely in her arms. Sharyn cradled the tiny cat, listening to it purr contentedly. It looked up into her eyes, blinked once, and then buried its head into her robe.

I helped her up, brushed her off as best I could, and walked her back into the house. She sat on the day bed, cooing to her newest child.

"It's a girl," she said. "Calicos usually are girls."

"That was very brave, Sharyn," I said. "You could have been killed."

"I know, and I'm sorry. At that moment I really didn't care. I just had to save this cat."

"Looks like we have a new daughter," I said, smiling.

* * * * *

It wasn't until weeks later, when we took our youngest for her second round of shots, that Sharyn told me the truth about the night we found her.

"I thought I wasn't going to be able to reach her," she said. "I had this horrible feeling that she would end up like Chipper."

"But she didn't," I said.

"You don't understand, Kevin. I kept calling to her, asking her to come to me. She wanted to, but she couldn't. She was too frightened."

"Then how did..." I stopped in mid question, knowing what she would say next.

"It was Chipper," she said. "All of a sudden he was there, beneath her, prodding her little body forward with his nose. He saved her by pushing her into my hands."

"Have you seen him since that night?" I asked.

"No," she answered. "Not once."

We drove in silence for a while. Sharyn held our purring daughter close to her breast. She kissed her small head, cooing to her in that squeaky voice cats seem to love so much.

My wife grew stronger as the weeks passed. She toiled in her garden again, found joy in her work and began playfully interacting with Toby and Jesse. She slept through the night regularly, with a beautiful brown, black and white cat tucked into her breast. After so many months of uncertainty, I believed she would finally come through her terrible ordeal.

"I think," I said while placing my hand on hers, "Chipper gave you your life back that night."

She nodded quietly, stroking the cat's furry tail.

Posted by joyceanthony at 10:33 AM EST
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Tuesday, 11 November 2008
A Look at Conor and the Crossworlds
Topic: Blog Tours

Today's young adults are more discerning when it comes to reading material. Conor and the Crossworlds is a series that will keep the interest of girls and boys alike.  Let's take a brief look at what the books are about.

Conor and the CrossworldsTM - Breaking the Barrier

Conor: an innocent ten year-old boy, not unlike other boys anywhere

Purugama: immense, powerful, magical, a towering champion of the crossworlds…

Following the death of a favorite uncle, Conor unconsciously calls forth the power of the crossworlds creators. They send the mystical beast, Purugama, to accompany Conor on a fantastic journey. After revealing the knowledge of the crossworlds to his small companion, Purugama prepares to return him to his home world. His plans are interrupted when Drazian, Purugama’s mortal enemy, faces the immense cougar in a combat to the death. The prize? Conor’s life, or death, depending on the outcome of the battle
Conor and the CrossworldsTM - Peril in the Corridors
Conor, the brave young lad from earth, awakens to a summons from the creators themselves. The Lady of the Light appears before him, requesting his service for a perilous journey…

During his adventure with Purugama, Conor and his huge mentor disturbed the integrity of the crossworlds corridors. Conor must accompany the Lord of the Crossworlds Champions, Maya, on a mission to repair them, with all of creation hanging in the balance…

Conor finds himself transported to the Glade of Champions, where he meets Maya, Eha, Ajur, Surmitang, and mighty Therion, all champions of the crossworlds. After learning about his mission, Conor departs with Maya to do battle with the warriors of the Circle of Evil, experiencing wondrous and terrifying surprises at every stop on his amazing journey…


Conor and the CrossworldsTM - Surviving an Altered World

Conor Jameson and Janine Cochran, two everyday high school students caught in a race to save an altered world…

After divulging secrets about his past, something his mentors strictly warned him never to do, Conor’s world turns upside-down. He and Janine watch in horror as a powerful warrior sent by the Circle of Evil destroys their world and imprisons everyone they know, including the crossworlds champions and the creators…

Before fleeing the onslaught, the Lady of the Light appears before Conor and Janine. She explains that she and her kind deposited the five keys of the creators on different worlds just before the chaos began. If Conor and Janine can recover the keys, the crossworlds will be restored. There are others looking for the keys, however, those who will use any means to destroy the two teenagers and keep the crossworlds in disarray forever…


Visit to read about books four and five in this series and to learn about your chance to win in the upcoming search for the Keys.

The above three books are available at

Please come back tomorrow when I will be sharing a special guest post from Kevin Gerard.

Posted by joyceanthony at 1:53 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 11 November 2008 2:51 AM EST
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Monday, 10 November 2008
Conor and the Crossworlds by Kevin Gerard
Topic: Blog Tours

Over the next few days, we will be visiting with Kevin Gerard, author of the Conor and the Crossworlds series.  Today we get to meet Kevin Gerard and get a general idea of what this YA fantasy series is all about. Tomorrow, I'll go a bit more in depth about each book and introduce you to a contest that will be coming soon.  Wednesday, I am honored to share with you a guest post by Mr. Gerard.  Finally, on Thursday, I will share my views on this series.  To keep you occupied until tomorrow's post, please visit Kevin's website to download a free Conor and the Crossworlds ebook to get background information.

About Conor and the Crossworlds

Conor and the Crossworlds series. This series opens with book 1, Conor and the Crossworlds, when 10-year-old Conor Jameson unconsciously calls forth the power of the Crossworlds creators who send the mystical beast, Purugama, to accompany the boy on a fantastic journey into the realm of the crosswords. This immense collection of mystical worlds connects by organic "corridors" that allow creators, champions, seekers, and at the other end of the spectrum, destroyers, shadow warriors, slayers and keepers to travel between worlds as easily as Conor walks between the rooms of his home. In book 2, Peril in the Corridors, the story continues when Conor and his huge mentor disturb the integrity of the Crossworlds corridors, and must join the Lord of the Crossworlds Champions, Maya, on a mission to repair them, with all of creation hanging in the balance. In book 3, Surviving an Altered World (due to be released in December 2008), Conor and Janine Cochran, two everyday high school students find themselves caught in a race to save an altered world after Conor ignores his mentors' warnings and divulges secrets about his past.

About the Kevin Gerard:

After running three companies and working a variety of jobs during his life, Mr. Gerard returned to school and earned a master's degree in sociology from Humboldt State University. He returned to San Diego after completing the program and worked with two professional research organizations over the next seven years. In 2004, he resigned from the second position in order to pursue a writing career. While still teaching at the university, he spends the bulk of his time writing for publication. The Conor and the Crossworlds series provided the main impetus for his decision to permanently extricate himself from formal employment.


"Stepping away from full-time work was the best decision I ever made. Writing this story has given me tremendous personal satisfaction, and it has shown me an avenue for expression I will always treasure."


Kevin Gerard lives in San Diego, California, with his wife and four children. He teaches sociology and statistics for the California State University. When not writing or teaching, Mr. Gerard enjoys walking the grounds at the San Diego Zoo, golfing with his father, hitting the waves and his favorite pizza hangout with his brother, nieces and nephews, and loving his wife and kids. He also enjoys playing Halo on the internet; look for him in the rocket games as Drazian, the destroyer in the first Conor and the Crossworlds adventure, Breaking the Barrier.

Books from this series can be purchased at:

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:24 AM EST
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Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Searching for A Starry Night----A Review
Topic: Book Review

When Sam, her best friend and her mother undertake to catalogue the possessions of her deceased great aunt, the two younger girls are not particularly thrilled.  Who wants to spend warm summer days going through old jewelry and paintings hardly bigger than an average postage stamp?

The two girls soon discover that the paintings are more interesting than they had believed-and that there is a mystery just waiting to be solved. The miniature painting of Van Gogh's A Starry Night has been replaced by a not-so-great imitation and the two best friends set out to find the original.

Searching for a Starry Night is a YA mystery in which Christine Verstraete cobines her love of writing with her love of miniatures.  I found myself captivated by not only her realistic characters, but also the mystery. 

Ms. Verstraete teaches the reader some interesting facts about the world of miniature art and art in general, without the reader realizing they are learning.  I felt her excitement for the subject coming through her words.  Her exitement caused me to keep reading in order to learn more and to find out what happened to the original picture. This is one mystery I did not solve before the characters!

Christine Verstraete has writen a book I not only would not hesitate to give as a gift to young adult readers, but would consider presenting to adults as well.  Her characters are well-developed, her mystery intriguing and her writing style fresh and easy-flowing.  I look forward to more works from this wonderful author.

Posted by joyceanthony at 7:28 PM EST
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Monday, 3 November 2008
Getting to Know Christine Verstraete
Topic: Author Interview
Christine Verstraete the person:

1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Funny, short, dedicated

2. How do you think others would describe you?

Impatient, talented, obsessed

3. Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

Miniatures, animals, family, friends, faith

4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

Shania is my mixed malamute. A funny, fun dog that happens to "talk" a lot. Then there are finches and angelfish. I must be related to Dr. Dolittle.

5. What is your most precious memory?

Times spent with parents and as a family are always cherished.

6. What is your most embarrassing memory?

Which one? Ha!

7. If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Probably waitressing or preferably making miniatures.

8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Glad I'm not too superstitious, but I'd prefer not to see myself dead yet.

Christine Verstraete the writer

9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

When I got my first newspaper job writing for Pioneer Press in northern Illinois. It's different once you're on staff.

10. What is going on with your writing these days?

I'm trying to finish an adult mystery (adult-oriented not the other kind, ha!), hoping to get some Sam short stories published and always exploring new ideas.

11. What are your future goals for your writing?

I'd like to get an agent and publish in other areas. We'll see.

12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

I'm always writing. I write for newspapers, magazines, press releases, whoever will pay me. (Emails welcome!)

13. Why do you write?

I can't "not" write. I'm not good at much else, ha!

14. What writer most inspires you? Why?

I admire those writers who can put out book after book, story after story. I'm not always as "quick" a writer when it comes to fiction, but I do get there. Eventually.

15. How do you define your writing?

Steady. I try to be inventive and experiment with different styles or genres. I learn as I go.

16. In one sentence-what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

She was good.

Christine Verstraete the details:

17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?


Blog: Candid Canine

18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?

Book Place

19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

See or individual links.

* Searching For A Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery Quake/Echelon Press or

* Also read another adventure of Sam (from Searching For A Starry Night) in The Heat of the Moment Anthology, Echelon Press

* The Witch Tree at Fictionwise

* In Miniature Style, cd or ebook on miniatures with how to's at Reader's Eden

20. For new readers-what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

To: A. learn something new (groan); B. Have Fun, (yay!) C. Be a little spooked (boo!) or D. All of the above.

In conclusion:

21. I love to write and share my interests. Readers get to enjoy a fun mystery and learn about miniatures and miniature painting in Searching For A Starry Night. Or they can see some amazing miniatures and learn about the creators in In Miniature Style or just get a little creeped out in The Witch Tree. I like variety. That way you never get bored. Ha!



Posted by joyceanthony at 1:43 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 3 November 2008 1:44 AM EST
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Sunday, 2 November 2008
Excerpt from Searching for a Starry Night
Topic: Blog Tours

There was one thing good about the tedious sorting she'd done all afternoon--it had kept her busy. Right now, all she could think about was how dark and deserted it was outside. It would be a prime location for a Peeping Tom. Images of Mrs. Drake and Mr. Jensen flashed through her mind. No way. The thought of seeing either one of the older people lurking unseen in the bushes outside was pretty funny. The idea of Mrs. Drake decked out in a hunter's cap and jacket hiding deep in the weeds made her giggle.

A loud crack outside stopped Sam's giggles cold and made her flinch. Snap! A second later, there was another crack, almost like a twig breaking. An unwelcome thought came to her. Like someone walking outside. She took a deep breath. Her eyes widened. An animal. Had to be. But what was big enough to make twigs snap, crackle, and pop like breakfast cereal?

Sam tried to keep quiet as she tiptoed across the room to Lita, who sat partly huddled under the quilt. "Sam," she whispered. "What was that?"

Sam held her finger to her lips as she made her way to the wall. Carefully, she pulled herself up on the chair, placed her hands on the brick wall in front of her, and slowly stood upright. She carefully pushed a corner of the makeshift curtain aside. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she began to make out familiar shapes in the moonlight. Thick evergreen bushes, scraggly lilac bushes without the flowers, the stand of maple and oak trees, and the dip in the ground that went down to the creek. All looked normal. Nothing different.

Another crack made Sam jump. The curtain almost came down when she noticed the large, dark shape standing right between a group of trees off to the side. Heart pounding, she watched and waited. Several seconds went by. It remained quiet. She swallowed. Her mouth was dry. She could use a drink of water but that would mean leaving the window. Nothing stirred outside. It was probably just her imagination. She was making herself jumpy, that's all. Sam groaned as an even more unwelcome thought came to mind--maybe it was just Old Grandpa Sylvester coming to get ya!

Sam moaned. Great. Of all the things to think about! Why in the world did she have to think of him now? She grasped at something to block the direction her thoughts were headed. Lyrics to a song. The melody. Anything. A phrase from that annoying Barney song came to mind. After a few words, she gave up. Movie themes, her favorite movie scene... She motioned to Lita, who set Petey down on the floor and rose to her feet. She told him to stay. For once, the dog listened.

Sam watched the dog move his head side to side several times, then creep slowly toward the door. He's like a canine radar station, she thought. "I don't see anything and I didn't see mom come out of the house. You think it could've been a deer? Maybe I should open the door..." She shivered when she felt Lita's cool fingers wrap around her hand.

"Don't you dare open it," Lita whispered. "You've seen all those scary movies. You know what happens when the boy or girl goes outside by themselves..."

"Oh, c'mon Lita," Sam groaned, "how could you do that to me? I've been trying not to think of Grandpa Sylvester again and you--"

Her words were cut off by the sound of a thump outside. Petey flew forward in a spasm of barks. His legs left the ground with each violent growl. Sam wasted no time and jumped off the chair almost into her friend's arms. The two hugged each other and watched, wide-eyed, as the doorknob slowly started to turn.

The panic threatened to choke Sam. "Lita," she whispered, "please tell me I locked the door."


Posted by joyceanthony at 2:52 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 November 2008 9:48 AM EDT
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Saturday, 1 November 2008
A Visit with Chris Verstraete
Topic: Blog Tours

Chris Verstraete combines her love of miniatures in her writing when possible. Over the next couple  of days, we will be getting to know Chris beter and taking a look at Searching for a Starry Night and Witch Tree. Please join us on this visit.


 "Searching For A Starry Night" ISBN 9781590805794

Isn't that an adorable cover??

Asked what inspired this book and Chris said: I collect dollhouse miniatures and thought it'd be a unique, interesting addition to the mystery field to focus on miniature art.

 Christine Verstraete
Searching For A Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery (Ages 10+)
From Quake/Echelon Press - ISBN 978-1-59080-579-4

Buy at:

(Also at, Barnes&, Palm, Fictionwise. See links at or ask for it at your favorite bookstore.


Samantha Ann Carlton would rather spend her summer vacation anywhere but a spooky old house in Lake Geneva!

Somehow Sam knows it is going to take more than a couple days to find a missing painting no bigger than her hand. But maybe things won't be so bad, she thinks, since she gets to take a friend's lovable, nosy, and often mischievous Dachshund, Petey, and her best friend, Lita. If they're lucky, the three of them can find the miniature replica of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and help Sam's mother get it to the museum, where it belongs.

It's not going to be easy, Sam realizes, when she discovers that her family has some spooky secrets. Then Petey digs up an ancient curse and Sam fears her friendship with Lita is doomed.

Can Sam find the miniature masterpiece before it's too late? Will she and her best friend go home forever friends - or enemies?


Christine Verstraete thinks you're never too old to play with dollhouses, so when she's not writing, she is probably working on a new miniature project.

Christine also is an award-winning journalist whose stories have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. Her short fiction has been published in print and online.

Her short horror story, "The Witch Tree," was a contest winner published by Echelon Press. She also is author of the e-book, "In Miniature Style," with stories about collectors, photos of their miniatures and how-to projects.

Check out more of Christine's miniatures and writing at  and at her blog, Candid Canine,  and  

Posted by joyceanthony at 2:08 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 November 2008 9:49 AM EDT
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Friday, 31 October 2008
Midnight Hours by Vivian Zabel--A Review
Topic: Book Review

One by one, disabled men find a friend in Midnight.  The picture they receive has them captivated and they fall for the luscious beauty. One by one, each man meets with death-and one woman collects each and every insurance policy.  Now, injured police officer Martin has met Midnight.  He has her number though and it is a race to see who will win.  Will Midnight finally be caught or will yet another man meet his final destiny?

Vivian Zabel has woven a psychological thriller that will have everyone who uses a computer wondering just who is connected with the name and face on the other end.  Her knowledge of the inner workings of both the detective and killer minds is incredible. The characters were very well developed and dialog true-to-life. 

Skillfully woven clues will lead you through this story, giving you a chance to discover Midnight's identity as the detectives do.  I found myself so involved in the book that I read for several hours straight, something I rarely do.  Ms. Zabel's writing flows smoothly, yet at a pace that keeps pulling you forward.  This is definitely a "just one more chapter" book.The ending leaves you satisfied-yet anticipating. This is a combination found rarely in today's mysteries of cut-and-dried endings.  I was pleasantly surprised that there is still an author out there that leaves me actually hoping for a sequel. 

This is one mystery I would not hesitate at all in recommending. 


For more stops on this blog tour, please visit the following:

Oct. 31 Aidana WillowRaven
Joyce Anthony

Nov. 1 Crystalee Calderwood

Nov. 2 Vivian Zabel and

and don't forget the contest:

Prize: $25 gift certificate from

1. Each person who comments on a blog stop receives one entry. For example, if a person leaves a comment on four blog stops, he has four entries.

2. Each person who purchases a copy of Midnight Hours from the 4RV Store ( or directly from the author receives fifteen (15) entries per purchase. Since we cannot receive notification from other places in time, we need people to use the publisher's store.

A person may have entries from a purchase and from leaving comments.

An email address will be needed to notify the winner and to send the gift certificate.

November 5, a random drawing will be held using a program online to choose a winner. I will notify the winner by email and will post the result on my blogs at Vivian's Site and Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap.

Everyone who comments and/or purchases a book needs to sent an email to  with the answer to the question,"When does Midnight meet Martin on the online game site?"

The email with the correct answer validates the entries

Posted by joyceanthony at 5:57 AM EDT
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Thursday, 30 October 2008
A Talk With Vivian Zabel
Topic: Author Interview

1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Trusting, determined, caring

2.  How do you think others would describe you?

Took a poll: Tenacious, caring, conscientious


3.   Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

My family: my husband of over 46 years, three living children, ten grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and another on the way.


4.  Do you have any pets?  If so, introduce us to them.

I have one funny faced tabby cat, named Funny Face. He thinks he owns me, and has for over seven years. He also is my attack cat. He growls if anyone is in the yard that shouldn't be. If my husband isn't home, and I try to go outside after dark, Funny Face stays by my side yowling until I go back inside. A dog come toward me outside, no matter how large, and Funny will try to attack him.

5. What is your most precious memory?

Only one? Not fair. Should I choose holding my first born in my arms? Or my second or third or the few moments with my fourth, so tiny and whose life was so short? Maybe the first grandchild or the others who came? Ah, the great-grandchildren.

But none of those would have been possible without the moment when I walked down the aisle toward the man who thought me so beautiful, who loved me so much that he still sees me through eyes blinded by that love.

6. What is your most embarrassing memory?

Oh, I wrote a story about that, titled "Crazy-woman Dance."  I was pregnant with my fourth child and on the way to my oldest child's kindergarten Christmas program. I had taken the dress I wore and the coat from the cleaner's plastic bag (it was the first cold time that year, after Thanksgiving, unusual) to wear that night.

On the drive from the house to where the program would be held, I made the statement that I was going crazy.

As we exited the car, something sharp circled my middle, racing around and around where my waist would have normally been. I wiggled, jiggled, and squirmed as I stood on the sidewalk. People stopped and stared, including my husband and children. Suddenly a mouse plopped on the ground between my feet and rushed off into the bushes.

My middle child and older son told everyone, "Momma's doing the crazy-woman dance."

7.  If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Let's see, I'm already been a bookkeeper, office manager, inventory clerk, teacher, mother, wife.

I suppose if I weren't a writer I'd be bored. Of course I'd probably still be a publisher. I'm a glutton for punishment.


8.    In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Trying to get rid of me already? Huh. Vivian Zabel gave all she had to her family, her students, her friends, the authors and illustrators from her company. When nothing was left, her spirit joined God.


For more information, please visit:  is the Midnight site.  The book can be bought on the publisher's website:

and don't forget the contest:

Prize: $25 gift certificate from

1. Each person who comments on a blog stop receives one entry. For example, if a person leaves a comment on four blog stops, he has four entries.

2. Each person who purchases a copy of Midnight Hours from the 4RV Store ( or directly from the author receives fifteen (15) entries per purchase. Since we cannot receive notification from other places in time, we need people to use the publisher's store.

A person may have entries from a purchase and from leaving comments.

An email address will be needed to notify the winner and to send the gift certificate.

November 5, a random drawing will be held using a program online to choose a winner. I will notify the winner by email and will post the result on my blogs at Vivian's Site and Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap.

Everyone who comments and/or purchases a book needs to sent an email to  with the answer to the question,"When does Midnight meet Martin on the online game site?"

The email with the correct answer validates the entries.

Posted by joyceanthony at 1:16 AM EDT
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