Sunday, December 11, 2011

Interview with Author Lee-Ann Graff-Vinson

It is a beautiful and cold morning in Dallas, Texas and I'm holding a cup of coffee in my hand while my eyes are fixed on my Kindle. In my home, this very moment belongs to Author Lee-Ann Graff -Vinson’s book 'Callie’s Fate. '

In some point of our lives many of us invested time, emotions, and money in relationships that became disappointing and painful. The question is how many people after this experience found it hard to move on with their lives? Regardless of the answer, there is something we all can learn from Callie--never close your heart to new opportunities and never stop believing in true love.

It is my pleasure to welcome author Lee-Ann Graff-Vinson to my blog.
      Many writers I know either write early in the morning or late at night, what time works best for you to unleash your creativity?

Writing occurs at night after the kids have gone to bed (and preferably to sleep). It is then I relax and focus my thoughts properly with little or no interruption (at least for an hour or so until the puppy demands my attention).

          Every November thousands of writers take part in a month long challenge, write a novel in 30 days. What is your opinion about this “speedy” writing and how much time do you think is needed to write a quality book? 

NaNoWriMo was introduced to me around September. I’d never heard of it prior and wondered if it was truly possible to create a novel in 30 days (or less). Not being one to back down from a challenge, I accepted and actually managed to complete it in 29 days.

What is my opinion as to the quality of work produced? Well, with no time for research, an outline or character descriptions, it was just pure writing with zero chance for editing. I opened up my brain and thoughts spilled out. As I typed the last sentence of the first draft of my novel, I knew there were errors, places where I would need to do a lot of research, rewrite, or simply cut all together. However, the final outcome is one I’m happy with. Dare I say proud of? I haven’t looked at the manuscript since completion, so my pride may dispel quite quickly once I do.

The challenge to write a novel in that short span of time, truly gave me a sense of what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it. Now, I find writing one chapter such a simple task, even relaxing, as there is no push to get it done in one night (even though I know I could if I had to).

     Could you tell us more about “Callie’s Fate?” In what way does such an appealing book cover match the story?

My books generally touch on subjects that are realities of life. Sometimes I can be a bit harsh in my character situations. I have been told to tone them back because people won’t want to read the truth as I see it. Fair enough. ‘Callie’s Fate’ was born out of the current reality of internet romance. We know it happens, so why not write about it?

As for the book cover, well, I bow down to my fabulous editor/book cover designer extrodinaire. Judging by the amount of “likes” the cover has received, I do believe she’s worked her magic yet again.

        You are currently attending Winghill Writing School. In this field, what do you think is more important, talent or education? 

Talent is definitely a must. No amount of education will enable you to write an exciting tale if you have no talent for storytelling. However, education is the backbone to polished and knowledgeable work. When I began my path, I believed anyone could write. I was na├»ve. Anyone who is talented can write, but not necessarily publish. Education and talent go hand in hand in producing a work that publishers want and readers can’t get enough of.

       Most of us have some pieces of work somewhere on the back of our shelves that we hope one day we will get back to it. Do you have any of those too?

I have two. The first novel I wrote is about my Mother -- her life and her death. After writing “the end”, I have not opened the cover of the printed, copyrighted manuscript that sits in a box in my basement. The piece is close to my heart and one which I want to honour. When I have the “education” I’m seeking, I will go back and edit. I suspect it is a work that will take me a very long time to perfect.

        If you were to be creative in some other field, what would it be?

There is no other field. Writing is my passion.

      You favorite book/author?

I still seek my muse. However, there are a couple of GSP Authors who get my vote.

       Do you have current work in progress?

I have a few. The book completed for NaNo, ‘Love Under Fire’, is the sequel to Love and Liberty (to be out in 2012 through Gypsy Shadow). I am currently working on the third book in that series. As well, I have begun writing a paranormal military romance novel with my critique partner. I will also be editing a memoir for a friend for publication. Just enough to keep me out of trouble…

Here is a sneak peak at Callie’s Fate:

When Callie takes the red-eye home to surprise her husband for their anniversary, she finds the surprise is on her. She watches as a blonde tart in six-inch heels teeters out from her home and toward a cherry-red Mustang, which is parked in her spot.

Enraged, Callie does the only thing she can do. She drives to her favorite coffee house, scrolls through divorce lawyers who claim to eat cheating husbands for breakfast, and cries. Her only consolation is Christian, a Marine, whom she befriended on a chat site almost a year earlier.

While waiting for her marriage to end, Callie agrees to finally meet Christian in person. She has always been a woman in control, but the mere touch of this man has her begging for more. Christian is only too happy to oblige, leaving Callie agreeing with the motto ‘The Few and The Proud’. She has never experienced a man who could make her see stars, but Christian does his duty, and does it well.

Unhappy circumstances bring them together. A week of sexual bliss makes it impossible for them to part, leaving them to wonder how they can, once again, test the hands of fate.

All of Lee-Ann Graff-Vinson’s books are available through Gypsy Shadow Publishing,, Smashwords, OmniLit, Barnes & Noble and many other fine sellers of e-books. The following are some of the links where readers can connect with this incredible author.

Thank you Lee-Ann for sharing with us today and I wish you all the best of everything.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Interview at Author Lee-Ann's Blog "Writing Commando"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Author Snjezana Marinkovic was 'Born In Sarajevo'

Ah, Sunday. It has quickly become my favourite day of the week. Why? Because I get to interview incredible authors, such as Snjezana Marinkovic -  woman who experienced life’s atrocities and lived to tell the tale.

Welcome, Snjezana it is an extreme pleasure to host you today.

When you moved to the U.S., you studied criminal justice. At what point did you decide to become a writer?
Writing was not on my forecast (even though, it first appeared with rain and it still often comes with it). This journey of words, papers, erasers, a few acceptances and many criticisms and rejections, started for me when I was twelve years old. As Alice, I stepped into Wonderland and here I am still searching, seeking, and more than ever enjoying every step of it. In a world full of disconnectedness I was lucky to find something to reach out to people, and that’s what writing is for me.

What would you describe your greatest strength to be at this point in your life?
Crossing barriers -- from war barricades to different languages, cultures, beliefs, and many other “borders.”

Who inspires you?
People. Especially when they rush to collect more of material goods while forgetting that inside of them are things that matter most. Love, peace and those little cells which defend our systems from that “enemy” cell. What else is needed? Pen and paper certainly for me (I will not mention keyboards because they belong to those material goods too).

You have done several readings over the past few years. Do you find them difficult to do?
As mentioned earlier, I like to connect with people. It is interesting, but when you are able to make an eye contact with your audience and you realize that at that particular moment they are not doing anything else but listening to you, your thought appears to be much richer, and more beautiful to you.

In 1996, you were awarded the Lazne Prize for Literature. In 2006, you won third place for your poetry. You’ve written poems, short stories, and now have a published novel with my fellow publisher, Gypsy Shadow. As an accomplished author, what advice can you give those just starting out in their writing careers?
I think we all have our own tactics and tools in this process of “shelving” our creative thoughts with different ideas. This as well applies to the stage when we are presenting our work to people other than our family and friends. Don’t be discouraged when someone says your “baby” has big ears, funny eyes, and her words make no sense. Anyway, you are a writer you are not suppose to frame rejection letters you receive in your mind, rather hang them on your walls so they can bring a smile on your face on that day when your qualities are recognized.  

Tell us why you decided to write ‘Born in Sarajevo’.
I started writing ‘Born in Sarajevo’ when I was able to retrieve from my memory some of my writing which was burned in war. Fortunately, I was even able to remember some of the dates. I guess because I was somehow trying to prove to myself that my life existed before I found myself in the middle of havoc.

Here is a sneak peak at ‘Born in Sarajevo:

When first barricades and first gun shots occurred in the capitol of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, I was seventeen years old. It was the year 1992, and one of the worst mass killings in the history of mankind began. At that time, my family, my friends, my neighbors, and I were still unaware that we will lose all privileges related to peace. People of this country, which was called Yugoslavia, proudly holding the title of the biggest and the wealthiest Balkan country, started losing their freedom, their homes and their lives. I, as any other teen, knew about war only from movies and video games until my first encounter with those whose intention was not to act or play but to overpower, destroy and kill.

 Here is the link for the trailer:

Where can we find your latest achievements?
You can find me at my blog:, my Facebook page: , as well as at Twitter @pjesnik. I just love this virtual world. Recently, a couple of my articles were published at:  

What is next for you?
I am finishing my two books. Both of them fit under the roof of criminal justice. “If” deals with domestic violence. “Just Point At Him” is a true crime story about a man whose voice, after eleven long years, reached the Innocence Project of Texas, and me, to write his story with my hope to knock at a door of ignorance and pierce through the silence that surrounds it. 

Thank you so much for allowing us into your world, Snjezana. It’s been my extreme pleasure to host you today. I wish you every success in the world.
Thank you for coming into my world and visit again I am always open to share a word, unless you see that big sign “Don’t disturb, I am writing.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My review of the Perfect Marriage

This book is great example of what it takes for a marriage to work. Author Sherry Gripman beautifully describes Gina, the main character, and her husband Griffin going through many different crossroads in their relationship.  Gina is about to take the opposite direction when she meets Dan, the fellow nurse.  She starts to doubt if Griffin is really the one she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Their love is slowly but surely dying until both of them realize that perfections don’t exist but good marriages are possible, only if they are created by two people.

Friday, November 11, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

November is national novel writing month. Every year, thousands of writers and would-be writers take part in a month long challenge: Write a novel in 30 days. So, let's do it!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My interview at Great Minds Think Aloud Book Club


Thank you again for donating a book for the "Literary Stuffings" giveaway. Can you tell us more about the book you donated?

It is really my pleasure to be part of this giveaway. To come from the former Yugoslavia, a country that used to have the fourth largest military in the Europe and where thousands of people were killed in the civil war, helped me to realized that some of the most valued things in life are freedom we have and peace we share. Above everything else, these two things helped me to create “Born in Sarajevo” and to share it with the world.

This time of year is usually a warm and happy time with friends and family, how do you usually spend Thanksgiving every year?

The other day one of my friends asked me if we have Thanksgiving in my country. At first I found this funny but then something else came to me. I realized that Thanksgiving was originally created by a blended delight of European and Native traditions. I also realized that after four years of civil war, which historians refer to as the most devastating war in the history of mankind, in my country we should have Thanksgiving. In my opinion, first and foremost we should be thankful for life. Second, we should be thankful for peace. Finally, we should be thankful that a neighbor, who lives now on the territory which was two decades ago divided from ours, is still our neighbor rather than the soldier who wears some different uniform, has some different belief, and carry a loaded gun.
Interestingly, but on holidays I am most inspired to write. Even so, I try to balance my time between what I love to do and who I love to be surrounded with.

Can you remember one of your most happiest Thanksgivings?

For me these two words Thanks and Giving are very powerful and no matter how I feel they can bring a smile to my face. A long time ago I read somewhere that hardest things for people to say are: thank you, I am sorry, and help me. I think that is what Thanksgiving is mostly about. To appreciate one another, to say sorry for any mistake, and of course to help ourselves with that tasty food on the table.

What's your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?

A few years ago on Thanksgiving day I was stuck in a traffic for a couple of hours. While sitting in my car I didn’t know what else to do than to watch people around me. Many of them seemed to be frustrated. But children acted differently. They had a keen anxiety to leave everything behind and play. That’s is what I like about Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays, to leave all those busy roads, red lights, and demanding bosses behind and to enjoy in playing, cooking, singing, talking, and whatever inspires a person to share the joy with other people and to be happy.

Some families have traditions they do every year, does your family have a tradition that goes along with Thanksgiving?

My family and I are very adoptable to any tradition as long there is nice word to share and of course good food to eat. In fact, my family tradition is to learn many different traditions and to find the value in each of them. What I especially like about Thanksgiving and other holidays is seeing those people who stand beside the roads and hold signs in their hands, collecting more money and smiles from those who are passing by. I think it is very important not to forget that even on holidays there are those who are hungry, cold, and alone. We just need to show them that somebody cares.

Food is always one of the biggest things about this time of year, do you have a favorite desert or even a recipe you'd like to share with us?

Since I am much better eater than cook, every year one of my friends is preparing for me some of their specialties. This year my friend Richard volunteered to do this, so I still don’t know what will be on the “menu.” As for deserts, I personally love any kind of chocolate and vanilla mix. If some fruit is added, that works even better for me. But since I don’t know how to prepare them, I can’t be so picky.

There are so many ways to cook a turkey, does your family have a special way of getting the big bird ready, perhaps a special ingredient or stuffing?

The big bird was many times “assassinated” in my kitchen so now I let other people to apply their cooking skills to it. In her book “The Bad Cook’s Guide” author Madeleine Bingham said: too many cooks may spoil the broth, but it only takes one to burn it. For sure, this speaks of my way of cooking a turkey.

After eating all that food and settling in for the evening what do you do with the time that's left before bed?

Luckily on holidays this fast paced life a little bit slows down so people are more relaxed and willing to talk and share more smiles with each other. It seems to me that even laughter spreads more quickly during this time of the year. Actually, this is the main reason why those evenings mean much more to me than all those gifts and all that tasty food on the table.

Is there any other information you'd care to share with us about your books that are out now or any upcoming novels?

Being in the criminal justice field and being one of those people who truly believe that world should and could be a better place, I am working on my next two books with this purpose on mind. The first book is called “If” and the second one is called “Just Point at Him.” Both of them are non-fiction, true-crime stories. “If” is a story about the survivor of domestic violence. On the other hand, “Just Point at Him” is a story about a man called “Greg” who was acquitted by the Innocence Project of Texas after spending 11 years behind the bars. He is very good example of what can happen when at the wrong place, at the wrong time scenario takes place. Even though these stories differ in many ways, they share one important message: if something happens unexpectedly, there is always something else, something more to hope for.

I think about this often. Especially when is time to put the big bird in the oven. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My review of If You Love Me, Come

If You Love Me, Come is the story that takes to an incredible journey of life, relationships, different people, and different discoveries, which brings a reader the step forward. Author Claudia Moss, with her beautifully descriptive words and unique poetic voice keeps passion strong and alive page-after-page. 

Even though the characters go through different struggles, the book mainly focuses on trust, positivism, persistence, forgiveness, and greatness of love; as Ms. Moss writes: “All things work out, so I don’t get hemmed up in fussin’ and fightin’ bout nothing, since it don’t matter in the long run no way. Fact is, Love call, you come. That’s it. Don’t need a fancy degree to understand it: Everybody come forth to love and be loved in return” (page 259).

This book is tender and powerful and at the same time sad and uplifting. I found it so joyful and beautiful.

My review of If It's Monday It Must Be Murder

What to do when your best friend’s daughter dies?  How much it helps when you are a former cop as Mel Thompson? Not much, unless murder happened. How many people anyway fell from the Tower building? But things will get complicated when Cindy, the dead girl’s mother, hired Mel as her private investigator. For Mel it hurts double because she knows well both the victim and her family and at the same time it is hard for her to avoid those too-personal-to-judge-clearly situations. In this case, Mel became questionable about everything and almost everyone. On the other hand, she tries to “cover up” all undesirable findings about the victim at the front of Cindy because she wants to protect her friend from any further suffering. But what will happen with those people she still trusts and are they really bringing the truth to the table when around her? Who tried to murder Mel? Who was killing women from a strip club? Surprises are popping up on every page of this book. Answers and questions first seem to blend perfectly but soon it is clear that mystery will prevail. This book is well worth the time and it is one that readers won’t forget.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My review of "Blood Curse" by Tamara Lowery

Viktor Brandewyne is not some ordinary pirate who will just go after a treasure and beautiful women; he is also hard but not evil and known for his strength rather than the use of force. But this is about to change whenViktor Brandewyne is transformed into a vampire, at the same time forcing him to become a fighter who wants to defeat all odds and break free. In the course of his experience being a pirate and a vampire, everything he says and does, led me to follow him through my thoughts and emotions on this incredible journey of new discoveries and unique struggles. And he has a quite few.
He is racing against his heart when being around a beautiful siren named Belladonna. He also battles with his vampire’s hunger for blood, when close to his friends and crew. The reason?Viktor didn’t die and became the vampire, but was cursed to die slowly while leaving many bloodless bodies behind. He is very much aware that his human thoughts and feelings are imprisoned and tortured by this forcibly instilled vampire’s desire. Therefore, Viktor decides to compete against time and find the Sisters of Power who will help him regain his old life back.
Author Tamara Lowery beautifully describes Viktoe as a man who suddenly loses control over his own life. In Blood Curse, which Lowery creatively prepared for her readers,Brandewyne is living while erasing other people from the picture of life;at the same time, he disappears from the living world while trying to preserves his own life. Victor’s hunger for blood grows while his time runs short.
“A pirate’s life has no guarantees save for a chance of an early death” (page 87). One thing is certain: he never gives up. Victor experiences jealousy, lust, disappointment, fear, and pain and all those who are on his ship Incubus are exposed to similar sensations. What is uncertain for them all is who will reach shore alive.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I like to think of hope as the only thing that can compete with truth. So, even though more than 100 million people died in war in the last century, and even though today there are more than thirty military conflicts in the world and every twenty-two minutes someone will somewhere step on a land-mine and get crippled or killed, I still believe that peace, in a lady-like manner, walks the streets of this world. Its destination changes often; therefore, it cannot always be on time.