Self-Publishing: An Author’s Experiences

Janet Stafford BRAGI’d like to welcome back B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree, Janet R. Stafford today to talk with me about her experiences in Self-publishing and what she has learned in her endeavor thus far. Janet was born in Albany, NY, but spent most of her childhood and all of her teen years in Parsippany, NJ – so she thinks of herself as a Jersey Girl. She went to Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ) where she received a B.A. degree in Asian Studies. She also has a Master of Divinity degree and a Ph.D. in North American Religion and Culture, both from Drew University (Madison, NJ). She worked for eight years as an adjunct professor teaching classes in interdisciplinary studies and history. But Janet’s primary call has been serving six United Methodist churches over the past 24 years, where she has worked in the area of spiritual formation and ministries with children and youth. Her current passion is multi-generational worship and learning.

The publication of Janet’s first novel, Saint Maggie, led to the creation of a series by the same name. She followed up with Walk by Faith in 2013 and After the Storm in 2014. Heart Soul & Rock ‘N’ Roll, a contemporary romance, was published at the end of April 2015.

Janet, when did you decide you were going to self-publish?’

I had tried attracting a publisher and/or agent years ago, to no avail. At that point I gave up trying to publish and focused on creating dramatic materials for the churches in which I worked. I realized that self-publishing was a possibility when a friend of mine, Rich Melheim of Faith Inkubators, announced that he was publishing a book through Lulu. I thought, “Well, if Rich can do it, so can I!” So I polished SAINT MAGGIE and began my self-publishing adventure.

What has your experience been like along the way?

My experience has been a major learning curve! I’ve learned so much about publishing in general – everything from formatting and editing to cover design, to distribution and eBooks, to marketing and publicity. Self-publishing is not about writing one’s book. It’s about writing the book and everything else that goes into putting the book into the public’s hands. However, I’ve got to say that I am enjoying the experience. I’ve made some interesting goofs along the way, but every time I mess up, I learn something and am more empowered.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

The big challenges have been marketing and publicity, and I freely admit that I still am not very good at either of them. I’m just not good at tooting my own horn. It’s hard for me to say “This is the most moving book you’ve ever read” or “This book will sweep you into the conflict and pain of the Civil War.” The Saint Maggie series is an inspiring story about a family, but it’s not going to change anyone’s life. My upcoming romance, HEART SOUL & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, is fun and engaging, but it’s not going to bring about world peace. Advertising and marketing is all about exaggeration in order to get people’s attention, something I find disturbing and difficult to do. Also, marketing on social media, while free, takes a significant amount of time – time that I would rather spend writing. So the marketing and publicity aspects are quite challenging for me.

Saint Maggie Book with BRAG Medallion

What have you learned in this industry?

I have learned to do what’s best for me and my books. I started out with Lulu then tried a few other publishing/printing platforms, only to come back to Lulu. My reasons are simple: even though the books cost more to print through Lulu, I find that they give better, more personal service and I have easy access to my files. I even run copies for beta readers by uploading drafts to Lulu and printing them while keeping the material private. The process also helps me work on the cover. When the book is complete, I change the setting so that it will be available to the public, add my ISBN, and it’s ready.

I have also learned the value of old-fashioned public relations. One of my favorite things is to give talks and make public appearances. This past February I spoke to one group that was excited to have an author in their midst. Let’s be honest, most indie authors are unknowns, but if you offer to speak to a group for no charge, as long as you can bring your books to sell and sign, many book clubs, discussion groups, and community groups will be happy to have you. People want to pick authors’ minds, discover why we write, how we write, how we come up with characters, and so on. Best-selling authors don’t or can’t do this for local groups. But relatively unknown authors can. Groups and clubs appreciate it if you take the time to converse with them and sign books. It’s a slow-track in the world of publicity and marketing, but for me it’s the more rewarding track.

What are the do’s and don’ts of self-publishing?

1) DO find someone to help you with editing, story continuity, etc. If you can’t afford to purchase someone’s services, then find friends who are avid readers, or school teachers or college professors. Also find people who will be honest with you. You cannot do editing all on your own. I use volunteer beta readers at present.

2) DON’T believe deals that look too good to be true. A simple adage: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. There are countless people and agencies out there looking to separate you from your money. They will tell you that you’ll get x-number of readers or x-amount of publicity if you use their services for x-amount of money. But experience has taught me that there is no magic bullet. I have been taken a few times and I’d like spare you. Be judicious with your money.

3) DO celebrate with the few indie writers who have become well-known and/or wealthy; but DON’T allow their success to make you doubt your own value as an author. Remember, people who write best-sellers are a minority who probably had some phenomenal good luck and/or good friends in the right places. What about talent? They have it – but many little known or unknown authors have talent, too. Don’t forget that.

4) DO work on becoming a better writer. Read work by other authors, be critical when reviewing your drafts, and ask for helpful criticism from others.

What advice would you give to a writer who is considering the self-publishing route?

Know why you’re writing. If it is to get rich and famous, forget about it. You’ll quickly get discouraged when it doesn’t happen. However, if you’re writing because you need to and because you have a story or stories to tell, then go for it – but be prepared to do the hard work and don’t expect to be thrust into the wonderful world of a best-selling book. Instead, look for your rewards in the “small” things. At a recent book club, one reader gave me some helpful criticism of my second book, and then finished up by saying that she could see my growth as a writer throughout the three books. I loved that. Another reader told me on Facebook that I was her favorite author. Are you kidding, with all the other authors out there? That is some kind of compliment! Rewards should not be confined solely to income, book sales, popularity, or number of reviews. Find your joy in the process of writing and publishing, and in your readership.

What are the promotional techniques you use via social media and how much time a week do you spend promoting your work? What are the different sites you use to promote your book?

I use Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and have a website for my micro-publishing company (I will be publishing work from another author soon) and one for me as an author. I’m also on Goodreads, but I’m inactive and really should drop it. I found it was just one site too many for me to handle.

Since I also work 25-30 hours a week as an assistant minister at a United Methodist church, ideally I want to devote 15 hours a week to research, writing, and publication. I’ve never really tracked how much time I spend on social media. I suppose now that I’ve got four books under my belt, I should log my time to see. My sense is that social media and website work can suck up a fair amount of time.

As for promotional techniques, I do a few things. For instance, I enjoy putting up impromptu games and offering a book as a prize to the first one to give the correct answer. I did that recently on Facebook with HEART SOUL & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. On occasion, I run special deals on my author page. I will drop the price or ship for free. However, I don’t care to do deals on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, because it is klutzy to change pricing. Also, I don’t go in for things like KDP Select or Matchbook on Kindle – which probably explains why I don’t get much traction on Kindle or Amazon! But I do not like having to make my eBook “exclusive” to Kindle. For WALK BY FAITH and A TIME TO HEAL, I used a crowdfunding platform called Publish to get the word out and raise money for publishing expenses. Crowdfunding also raised awareness about the books. Occasionally, I have used advertising on the web through Yahoo or Google. The ads did get my work exposed to a wider audience, but I learned that you must watch the daily expenses, as they can pile up quickly.

Finally, I have done giveaways on Goodreads. These were comprised of an offer to give away ten books to ten people who enter the giveaway. I got tons of interest and gave away the ten books, but the follow-through from other potential readers was negligible. I am wary of doing too many giveaways – first of all because they cost money, and at present my company is always short of that! The second reason comes from seeing what has happened to music. Easy access to free music has led many people to expect that all music should be free, forgetting that someone had to create that song. The music did not spring forth from the ether. Of course, the work of musicians, authors, and other artists should not be priced out of the average person’s reach, but neither should a person’s creative work be taken for granted and expected to be free on a regular basis.

Where do you see this industry in five to ten years?

I don’t think of self-publishing as an “industry.” It seems to me that we are so many little ants out there creating books and trying to get readers’ attention. So perhaps self-publishing will become an industry as more small publishing companies and/or authors’ support groups come to the fore. At the present, self-publishing reminds me of the frontier – anything goes until the sheriff, pastor, librarian, and schoolmarm come to town.

If something can be improved upon in this industry, what do you think it should be?

Perhaps we need to have author support groups. Oh, I know writing groups are out there – but my “day job” (or more correctly, my “other vocation”) is demanding. I often work Saturdays, am always busy on Sundays, often at the office on weekday mornings and sometimes doing things on weekday evenings. So hooking up with a face-to-face group doesn’t work for me. But it would be helpful to have online groups where people could exchange experiences, give and get advice, and so on. Hey, maybe I should start one of those! Anyway, the emergence of more organization might make self-publishing an industry.

How long have you been an indie author?

I published SAINT MAGGIE in 2011, so I have been an indie author for four years. I’m a baby in the field! That said, I have published two more books in the Saint Maggie series, and have just launched my first romance. Whether or not I become a “best-seller,” I’m in this for the long run!

Author Link:



Twitter @JanetRStafford

Squeaking Pips (my publishing company)



Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Carrie Beckfort

Carrie Beckfort

Carrie Beckfort

I would like to welcome, Carrie Beckort to Layered Pages to talk with me about her B.R.A.G. Medallion book, Kingston’s Project. Carrie has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and a MBA from Ball State University. She spent seventeen years in the corporate industry before writing her first novel. She lives in Indiana with her husband and daughter.

Carrie, thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, Kingston’s Project. How did you discover indieBRAG?

Thanks for having me, Stephanie! I’m so excited that Kingston’s Project earned a B.R.A.G. Medallion. Since I never expected to write a novel in the first place, the B.R.A.G. Medallion helps to ease a few of my anxieties in this new phase of my life. I first learned of indieBRAG from a fellow author, who I met through a mutual friend. She is also a new self-published author, and we try to help each other by sharing information.

What has your experience been like with self-publishing so far?

Publishing a novel is so completely different than anything I’ve ever done in my professional career, yet at the same time I can pull from much of my previous experience to navigate through the process. After I finished the first draft of Kingston’s Project, I started researching what it takes to publish a novel. I knew immediately that self-publishing was the right path for me at this stage of my writing career. I enjoy the control I have over the entire process. Personally, I’d say that the self-publishing process is more intimidating than it is difficult. Certainly there are parts that are difficult, such as trying to find and connect with readers, but I enjoy the challenge.

Another challenge I had was simply the fact that I had no previous writing experience. It’s hard to get people to believe in your work when you have nothing to ‘justify’ that you know what you’re doing. This is one area where indieBRAG has been a huge help. Having earned a B.R.A.G. Medallion has provided me with some credibility as an author that I didn’t have coming into the process.

Kingston's Project

When did you know you wanted to write a novel?

I have always loved reading, and more specifically I’ve always loved stories. Sometimes I worried that I spent too much time in my daydreams than in reality. However, I never considered writing a novel. I had chosen the technical path in college and eventually migrated to marketing and sales, and I connected more with data analysis and process improvement than creative writing.

Back in 2012 I told my book club gals that I was considering taking a personal leave from work to focus on my family and my health. They were supportive, but they also brought me down to reality. They knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied with staying home and having nothing to do while my daughter was in school. They started tossing around ideas for what I could do, and one of those was that I could write a book. I actually dismissed the idea pretty quickly. My thought was, “I read books. I don’t write them.”

However, about three weeks later I woke up and remembered part of a dream. I thought, “I wonder why that would happen.” My next thought was, “Oh crap, I’m writing a book.” It really was that clear for me. There was no ‘can I do this’ or ‘should I do this’—I started writing Kingston’s Project that very day.

What is your writing process and where in your home do you like to write?

I did end up taking a leave from my company when I was about halfway through the manuscript for Kingston’s Project. It wasn’t for the purpose of writing, but I certainly use the time off to my writing advantage. Because of this, most of my writing time comes while my daughter is in school. This means I don’t get much writing done during the summer, spring, and fall breaks (or on snow days), but that’s OK because spending time with my daughter is my priority. I try to stick to a schedule whenever possible—get the family out the door in the morning, go to the gym, get through emails and other admin type work, then write until the bus brings my daughter back home.

When I first started writing Kingston’s Project, I didn’t tell anyone for about four months. I was convinced that everyone, including my husband, would laugh if they knew (when I did finally tell my husband, he did laugh but only a little). Because I kept it secret, I would mostly write sitting on the couch at night after my daughter went to bed. Now, I write in our dedicated home office.

My actual writing process varies with each novel. For Kingston’s Project, I didn’t even create a timeline until I was about halfway through—and that was only because I was afraid I’d mess up my timing of events. I just started writing at the first word, and continued to the last. For my third novel, Shattered Angel, I had to start with an outline for each chapter before I could start writing. It’s a fixed chapter concept, and I needed to know ahead of time what each would be about and make sure they all fit together.

Please tell me about Kingston’s Project.

Kingston’s Project is told from the point of view of Sarah Mitchell. The novel starts two years after Sarah had suffered a significant loss. She’s struggling to move on, only really able to get through the mechanics of each day. Deep down she does want to live her life again, but she’s so far into the darkness that she doesn’t know how to find her way out. Sarah works for a company that does contract project management work for other companies. One of her firm’s largest clients—Elijah Kingston—requests to interview Sarah to lead a confidential assignment. At the encouragement of her boss and best friend, she accepts the interview and flies out to Colorado (from her home in Indiana).

She is reluctant to agree to do the project, primarily because she is not a fan of Elijah Kingston. What she learns about his project shocks her to her core. It’s enough to make her want to refuse the project and return back home. However, Elijah is able to convince her to stay with the promise to help her heal in the process. The story follows the friendship that forms between Sarah and Elijah, and how they navigate the difficult circumstances that life has thrown their way. Kingston’s Project brings each of their journeys to life—Sarah’s healing and Elijah’s strength and courage.

Tell me a little about Sarah Mitchell.

Sarah is a strong woman who doesn’t know how strong she really is. She’s confident in her professional career, but in her personal life she allows herself to become dependent on those she loves in a way that dims her own strength. She doesn’t know how to pick up the pieces of her broken life without the one person who always did it for her.

Sarah is caring and respectful of those around her. She’s able to accept people for who they are, without passing judgment their way. It doesn’t stop her from speaking her mind, but she tries to do it while respecting the viewpoint of the other person.

Sarah is very organized, which servers her well in her career. She prefers to remain professional at all times, and often finds it difficult to relax. Oh, and she loves coffee and fuzzy socks!

What is a challenge Sarah encounters dealing with her loss?

After her loss, she basically isolates herself from just about everyone. It’s hard for her to overcome something so devastating when she feels so alone. She loses herself in destructive behaviors, which include a lack of eating combined with excessive running. Elijah recognizes this and forces her to acknowledge the extent to which she has allowed her grief to impact her life and health.

What are Elijah Kingston’s strengths and weaknesses?

Oh, Elijah. I really enjoyed watching his character come to life. He’s the kind of person who has a permanent gray line between his strengths and weaknesses. What he may perceive as strength, someone else will certainly see as a weakness! He is confident, arrogant, demanding, and proud. He gets results, and it’s usually the results that he wants.

Yet, he’s a very caring person. All of his actions come from a place of good intentions. He’s capable of recognizing when he’s wrong, he’s just too stubborn to let go of his original decision. We see this in his relationship with his children. They don’t get along, and he refuses to make a change despite Sarah’s encouragement for him to close the gap. Once his course is set, he doesn’t look back. Most of the people in his life view this as a weakness; however, it’s the primary thing that helps him through his situation. So in his journey, it’s his most powerful strength.

What was your inspiration for this story?

It all started with a dream. I woke up, remembered part of something I had dreamt, and immediately went to the computer to do some research. I can’t tell you the exact dream, because it would give away key aspects of the novel. I will tell you that it was more about the relationship between Sarah and Elijah rather than their individual situations. I started with that connection, asking why it existed. Elijah’s story developed naturally from there. For Sarah, I knew she was struggling with something significant, so I decided to give her the one thing I fear most in this world. In addition, my family had recently suffered from a significant loss right before I started writing Kingston’s Project. I think I needed to write through my own grief as a form of healing.

Is there a message in your story you would like readers to grasp?

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. There may be loss, illness, injury, broken relationships—the list is long. However, it doesn’t mean we can’t still live and enjoy the path we’ve been given. Sarah’s unexpected path was loss. Grief is a powerful deterrent to life, but it can be overcome. Sometimes we need to reach out to others for help. And sometimes that help comes from someone we would least expect. We just have to be willing to accept and embrace it when it comes our way.

Were there any challenges in writing this story?

Since I wrote Kingston’s Project without the initial intent to publish, I didn’t struggle with too many writing challenges. I just wrote without worry. The challenge came when I finished the manuscript and decided to publish it. One of my biggest challenges was that my manuscript was entirely too long! I ended up cutting over 40% of what I had written. I actually don’t mind that I cut that much—I look at it as I was getting better the more I wrote, so it wasn’t wasted time. But it was difficult to determine what to cut. It’s such a heavy book at times, and I needed to balance that. While a certain scene may have seemed insignificant to the overall plot, if it was one of the lighter moments I had to take caution before cutting it or reducing it.

My other primary challenge after I decided to publish was making sure the information in the novel was accurate. I needed to ensure that the key aspects of Elijah’s struggle were well represented. In my research, I had come across a foundation that supports people in Elijah’s situation. I sent a request, asking if someone would be willing to read the manuscript and offer comments. I was really blessed that they agreed. It was so important for me to get the information right, and I’m so grateful for the input I received.

Where can readers buy your book?

Kingston’s Project is available in paperback and ebook through most of the online retail stores—links are provided below.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | BAM | Indie Bound

For other locations, please visit my website

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Carrie Beckfort who is the author of, Kingston’s Project, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Kingston’s Project, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Billy Garrett

Garreett Rice-BRAG

I’d like to introduce B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Billy Garrett to Layered Pages. Billy is a retired general contractor living half the year in Bend, Oregon and the other half in Palm Desert, California.  He loves fishing off the coast of Oregon, hanging out with his five grandchildren, writing and playing the guitar.  “The Secret Life of Tumkit,” is his second book.  His first book is a memoir called, “Behind Sight,” which is a best seller on Amazon and was just recommended by Kindle as a must read.

Hello Billy! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, ‘The Secret Life of Tumkit.’

First, I’d like to say, “Thank you Stephanie for all that you do for Indie Authors. You and Indie BRAG are a real beacon of light for all independent authors who are trying to navigate through the complex world of book promoting.”

Thank you, Billy. Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG and what has your experience been like with self-publishing so far?

I discovered Indie BRAG through Goodreads. For me, now that my children’s books is finished and published, I felt it important to get as many good reviews as possible, especially from notable and respected book reviewers.

In my search for professional reviewers I quickly learned that most of these reviews cost a lot of money. I certainly have no problem with folks making a profit, but how would I know if my children’s book was really worth reading if I was paying them to give it rave reviews? So I decided to research a trusted friend, Goodreads, for a top notch honest reviewer and that’s how I found the amazing folks at B.R.A.G. Medallion. They’re clearly not in it for the money. They’re mission is to discover and recommend only the best of the best indie books to their loyal followers.

My experience in the self-publishing world has been a little bit of a roller coaster ride. So much to learn and no prior knowledge of this confusing world caused me to follow many a dead end path. I, like many other indie authors, sent out my polished query letters to agents only to discover there were no return emails offering six figure signing bonuses and movie rights. I did receive one offer from one of the big shot publishers, but when I read their contract stating their share of my book sales would be 90 percent I was stunned. They wanted me to travel to book signings, do interviews and solely promote my book at my own expense, while only paying me 10 percent. So I shut that door and with all my might pushed open the giant 8-foot high solid oak door that leads into the never-ending maze of the self-publishing industry.

I’m so thrilled I made that decision. What a fantastic and exciting adventure it’s been! Now that I’ve received a huge pat on the back from Indie BRAG I now have the confidence to keep writing.

The Secret Life of Tumkit

Am I correct to say that your inspiration for writing this book was for your grandchildren?

Yes, I did get the inspiration for writing this story from my grandchildren but not in totality. I also wanted to see if I could remember how to use that wonderful gift of imagination that I once had as a child. Somehow that instinctively playful side had become lost or forgotten and had been replaced with the responsibilities of adult life. I was offered this challenge of remembering when my nine-year-old grandson, who was sitting next to me on my back porch, spotted a baby rabbit resting in the middle of the backyard. The rabbit seemed peaceful and unafraid of our presence and curiously it had lost part of its ear. “Grandpa, what happened to his ear, where’s his mom, and why is he not running away?” Great questions, I mumbled in my thoughts. That night I laid in bed thinking of answers to his unanswerable questions and that’s how this story was born.

How long have you been writing?

Not long, my first book, a memoir titled “Behind Sight,” was self-published a few years ago. I must confess it was a heart-wrenching struggle completing that book and I swore I’d never write another. I’d been a contractor most of my life and my descriptive vocabulary was severely limited to simple words such as “Who’s got my hammer? or “Has anyone seen my tape measure?”

Please tell me about your story of Tumkit?

“The Secret Life of Tumkit” is a story about a baby rabbit that was destined to die of starvation until a shrewd and fearless mockingbird, named Vella, discovered Tumkit and brought him a magic berry. The berry came from a solitary bush that grows in a cave near the top of Laurel Mountain. Vella warns Tumkit the bush is struggling to survive and unless they act quickly the supernatural powers of its berries will be lost forever. Tumkit, Vella and Sully, a one year old buck and loyal friend to Vella, travel up the steep mountain in a desperate attempt to save the bush. Their quest takes a dangerous turn when they encounter Borwong, an angry and heartless grizzly, who refuses to allow anyone on his mountain.

Could you give me an example of one of the major conflicts in your story?

The biggest conflict in the book happens towards the end of the story when the animals try to remove the grizzly from Laurel Mountain and save the magic berry bush that was dying because it desperately needed water.

Chapter Twenty:

Up the mountain they went to where the dam was diverting the stream. Sully lowered his wide antlers beneath the dam and with his strong legs pushed the branches aside. He kicked the rocks down the hill and the spring water began flowing toward the magic berry bush. In their excitement, they paid no attention to the noise the rocks were making as they tumbled down the mountain.

A loud angry roar bellowed above them. It was Borwong. The grizzly was standing on his hind legs forty feet away shaking his head back and forth. He must have been eight feel tall! He roared again exposing his three-inch fangs. He lowered his body and began walking toward them slapping the ground with his front paws, his fat belly jiggling with each step.

Borwong was so mad all the brown hairs on his back stood straight up. Vella flew to the top of a nearby tree and screeched as loud as she could, “Run, run get out of there,” she hollered to Sully and Tumkit.

Sully scraped the dirt with his front hoof. He reared up, lowered his sharp massive antlers and charged Borwong.

“Stop, Sully, he’ll kill you!” Tumkit shouted. Borwong stood back on his hind legs and with one swat slapped Sully to the ground. Tumkit watched helpless as Borwong circled Sully’s limp body. Blood was dripping from the bottom of his antler.

Borwong roared up the tree where Vella was and then turned his eyes on Tumkit. With a deep growly voice he said, “This is my mountain. How dare you come here.”

Shaking from head to toe, Tumkit timidly said, “We just want the bush to live, that’s all.”

“You didn’t hear me. The mountain and everything on it is mine, including that bush,” Borwong roared again and walked towards Tumkit, stopping four feet in front of him.

“Please Borwong, let the bush have the spring water. You have no need for that bush, you can’t even fit into the cave to get the berries,” Tumkit begged.

What are Tumkits strengths?

Tumkit is an amazing little rabbit. He’s smart, brave, kind and most of all a very forgiving and gentle soul.

How would you describe the dense forest where the story takes place?

That’s a great question Stephanie. In the books Prologue I open up the story with this first paragraph. “There exists a never-ending forest on the other side of an old wooden fence. The fence was built many years ago to keep out any unwanted visitors who might stray from the woods and into the back yard of the little green house on Willow Lane.”

When I think of a dense forest many images come to mind. Tranquil, beautiful, quiet, mysterious and possibly dangerous are just a few of the many wonderful things I find adventuresome about a forest.   This story takes place deep within the forest where no humans live.

What age group dose this book fall under?

“The Secret Life of Tumkit,” is perfect for ages 6-11.

Who designed your book cover?

Thanks for asking. Pattie Brooks Anderson is an amazing artist who designed the front cover and most of the interior illustrations. She is a retired high school art teacher and has worked as a commercial artist most of her life. Within the book there are two other illustrations that are special to Pattie and I. A very talented 10-year-old artist named Nicole drew those illustrations.

What is up next for you?

I am currently working on a sequel to “The Secret Life of Tumkit.”

Where can readers buy your book?

The print book and eBook can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and most other outlets.

Author Website

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Billy Garrett who is the author of, The Secret Life of Tumkit, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Secret Life of Tumkit merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.




Sunday Book Highlight


B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

An awkward and lonely young man with special reason to hate the Huctans, Timothy is trapped in a cycle of purposelessness and drudgery. But when the Huctans conscript him into a secret army—and when a girl with a strange set of skills sets him free—Timothy gets a chance to fight back.

Throwing himself into the rebel cause and training as an elite young Thane, Timothy ignites years of pent-up frustration into an obsessive drive to become the best. For months he practices combat and espionage, finding friendship with an equally fanatical young rebel and losing himself in the exhaustion of training and the danger of missions. Loving every minute of his new life, he wraps his new identity completely in service to the rebel Band.

The rebel Band which, unbeknownst to him, was created to be betrayed.

Book Excerpt

Verinald had no sword, no knife, no poison, and no noose. He was chained to tent pegs by wrists and ankles, which ruled out breaking his own neck. He had a bowl of soup—tin, not glass—and he had a spoon.

The spoon was his best chance.

But before he could work up the nerve to use it, the tent flap rustled. Verinald relaxed his grip and focused on his soup. He was calm. He was rational. There was no reason to take the spoon from him.

Then a voice spoke. “Let him sit up,” it said.

Verinald was not an easily flustered man. He had trained to maintain his composure since he was old enough to talk. He had kept a straight face while in fear for his own life, while lying to generals and kings, and while watching men die. But as he heard that voice—as two Huctan soldiers loosened and extended the chains on his wrists and raised him to a kneeling position—he trembled with a mixture of grief and rage that was beyond his control.

“It’s good to see you alive, old friend,” the voice said.

Verinald forced himself to raise his gaze, to meet the eyes that belonged to the voice. The trembling would not stop.

“Ricera,” he said.

“I know you want to condemn me for my betrayal,” Ricera said. “I know you’re itching to rail against me, to try to make me grieve for what is lost. Believe me, I grieve already. But I have made my choice, and your judgment is the least of my concerns. So let’s skip the shouting and weeping and get on to the reason you’re still alive.”

Verinald knew the reason he was still alive. His only consolation was that they could torture him until their knives grew dull, and he would not tell them anything. Not because he was strong, but because there was nothing to tell. Everyone else was already dead.

“Certainly,” Verinald found himself saying, with a voice that was saner than he felt. “Don’t let me inconvenience you. I know how busy you are with treachery and faithlessness.”

Ricera sighed. “Or you could replace the shouting and weeping with sarcastic jibes,” he said. Then, to the Huctan soldiers, “Leave us, please.”

The two soldiers obeyed, and Ricera squatted on his hams so that his eyes were level with Verinald’s. He was close, well within reach, and Verinald still had his spoon. This, more than anything, was a measure of Ricera’s contempt for him. Verinald might be Ricera’s peer in subterfuge and espionage, but in combat he was no better than a common soldier. Even if the spoon in Verinald’s hand had been a sword, he would have been no threat to Ricera.

“Stop measuring us against one another,” Ricera said. “You have done nothing else your entire life. Focus, just for this moment, on the task at hand.”

Verinald’s hand shook on the spoon, and he could not stop it.

“I have your son,” Ricera said.

Just like that. Ricera’s abruptness should have shocked Verinald into showing some emotion, into betraying something, but this deception was so practiced—so ingrained—that Verinald actually managed to raise his eyebrows in confusion.

“My son?” he said. “I have no son.”

“You have a son, and you know of him,” Ricera said. “Your face has suddenly gone smooth. How many times did we learn that lack of emotion can be just as telling as emotion itself? How old were we when they taught us that? Ten?”

“Who’s measuring us against one another now?” said Verinald.

“You’re right,” said Ricera. “The task at hand. Your task, if you care for your son.”

“I have no son,” Verinald said.

“You have a son,” Ricera repeated. “I sent for him as soon as Eoriden fell. His Huctan mother gave him up without a fight, when she learned that you were dead.”

Verinald’s spoon began trembling again.

Ricera smiled. “And you criticize my faithlessness.”

“The faithlessness of loving a Huctan woman is not the faithlessness of handing your nation over to the Huctan army.”

“The task at hand,” Ricera said. “The point of this meeting is that you, too, will hand people over to the Huctan army.”

“I will not.”

“Tomorrow,” Ricera continued, “I will set you free. I will have my soldiers wound you, if you wish, so that you can invent a story as to how you escaped capture. You will join your friends, if you still have them, and you will gather the remnants of the Duest to yourself.”

“I will not.”

“You will. I have found many of them, but there are many that I have not found. They have gone deep into hiding. But you were always a leader of men, Verinald. I have confidence in you. Over the years, you will gather them to yourself. You will organize them. You will form a resistance. Just think: for a time, you can be the leader of the Duest. I know it is a position you have long coveted.”

“You are mad.”

“You will gather them, lead them, even recruit others who wish to rebel. You will make a safe haven for them, a base of operations, a gathering place. The hill country between Suiton and Shadil will do, I think. I even give you permission, as you see fit, to inflict damage on the Huctans. My only condition is that the damage you inflict does not lead to your discovery. You will maintain secrecy and safety at all costs.”

“You don’t have my son,” Verinald said. “You may have known of him, but you don’t have him. This is a bluff.”

“Secrecy and safety,” Ricera said, “but watchfulness. Because when I call for you, you will respond. You will deliver the remnants of Botan into my hand. You will betray those you have gathered, and in so doing you will earn the life of your son.”

“My son is dead,” Verinald said.

“Your son is alive,” Ricera said. “He is beginning to speak. He is very intelligent; you can see it in his eyes. In that, he is like his father.”

Verinald could not stop himself. He was too tired, too full of despair and hate and self-loathing. He dropped his head, dropped his spoon, and began to weep.

“Take comfort,” Ricera said. “I may fail. All my plans may crumble around me, and I may never send for you. You may never have to betray those who trust you, as I have. You may even succeed in starting a real resistance. The Huctans may govern poorly. Perhaps, in time, you will throw their shackles off and win independence and freedom for Botan. Maybe your son will hear of your name and come to your throne with open arms.”

Ricera’s hand touched Verinald’s shoulder, and Verinald jerked as if burned. He looked up to find a mirthless smile on Ricera’s face.

“But don’t count on it,” Ricera said. “Don’t count on it.”

Travis Daniel Bow

Travis Daniel Bow

Travis Daniel Bow is the author of Thane and its sequel, King’s Table. He grew up in Reno, NV (where he raised pigs for FFA), earned degrees from Oklahoma Christian University (where he broke his collarbone in a misguided Parkour attempt) and Stanford (where he and his bike were hit by a car), and now does research and development work for Nikon. He has eight published short stories, four pending patent applications, one wonderful son, one beautiful wife, and one loving God.


Thane’s Facebook Page

Amazon Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link

Smashwords link with free 50% preview

Goodreads Page

My Confession as a Book Reviewer

Anna Belfrage Banner 1

I am sitting here at my desk contemplating my review for, To Catch a Falling Star by Anna Belfrage. This book is the eighth and final book in the unforgettable series about the Grahams. Alas, they are a fictional family but they will become just as real as your own. I must admit my book reviews in the series has been a disappointment to me. Why would I say that? Let me explain. Sometimes when I read books that touch me so much, I’m at loss at where to begin or how to express my feelings of the story. After all, how does one do that when the writer has so brilliantly portrayed the realities of the human conditions in just about any situation you can think of? Belfrage explores all avenues of life. At least it seems to me. Not only that, she gets right down to the core of the harshness and evil of humanity. She does not shy away from it. I marvel at how she goes to those depths unscathed.

Now, it’s not all about those sad and unfortunate realities…there is love, joy, goodness, faith of God, forgiveness, starting over, birth, the bonds of family, justice or redemption-if you will- and human kindness. You get both sides.

When reading the Graham Saga, you will cry, feel angry, sadness, your heart will race and your chest will tighten. You will smile, feel joy, laugh, feel happiness and will feel the love of family and the love of a mother’s heart.

Anna Belfrage banner 2

Yes, Anna will truly evoke all these emotions in you and much more. Quite possibly you will be forced to confront emotions you did not know you had or have had to deal with. You will question yourself throughout this series. If I was in that situation, would I do that? How would I have treated that person or handled that situation if that happen to me? Could I go to that extent? Now getting back to writing that review!

My review for, To Catch a Falling Star by Anna Belfrage will be posted on May 6th as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I would also, like to add that Belfrage is a multi B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree and she will be a returning guest at Layered Pages in the near future. For those of you who don’t know, is owned and operated by indieBRAG, LLC, a privately held organization that has brought together a large group of readers, both individuals and members of book clubs, located throughout the United States and in ten other countries around the globe. The word “indie” refers to self or independently published books, while B.R.A.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation Group. It is their mission is to discover new and talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Layered Pages

To catch a falling star

Some gifts are double-edged swords…

For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option. Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours. While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet. All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes. Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?

A Writer’s Life with Author Judith Arnopp

JA Picture

I would like to welcome back Juith Arnopp back to Layered Pages today to talk about her writing. She is from Wales in the UK, is the author of seven historical fiction novels. Her early novels, Peaceweaver, The Forest Dwellers and The Song of Heledd, are set in the Anglo-Saxon/Medieval period but her later work, The Winchester Goose, The Kiss of the Concubine, Intractable Heart and A Song of Sixpence, concentrate on the Tudor period. She is currently researching for her eighth novel about Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII. Judith is also a regular blogger and author of historical articles.

Judith, why do you write?

That isn’t as simple a question as it sounds. I have always written, since I was very little anyway and I really wouldn’t know how not to. It is such a huge part of my life, everything I do is structured around research, writing time, promotion – and that is before the business side of things begins. The biggest thrill for me is the creative process; the time I spend at my pc letting the ideas flow and the characters develop. I come away from the desk at the end of the day absolutely buzzing with creative joy.

How has writing impacted your life?

Becoming a professional author has allowed me to do the thing I love to do and get paid for it. It isn’t a chore. I used to feel a bit guilty when I wasn’t making money at it, I sometimes felt I should put my pen away and get a ‘proper’ job but now I don’t have to. Mind you, I never really stop working – even holidays and days out turn into research trips. Since readers began to notice me and my sales have risen life has become both harder and easier; there is more pressure now to keep the books coming but it has enabled my husband to take life easier. I am glad for that and very grateful. Also, probably the most surprising thing, is how many wonderful people I have met through writing. Most of these relationships are ‘virtual’ ones but I have found really good friends, strong supporters and fabulous readers. I spend the first half hour of every day reading emails and messages from readers, or bloggers inviting me to appear on their blogs. For someone who lives so rurally to have so much support from all over the world is an amazing thing!

A Ssong of Sixspence By JA

What advice would you give to beginner writers?

I am often asked this and I think the best advice I could offer is ‘Only attempt to write professionally if it is a compulsion.’ I wouldn’t be able to keep it up if it were a chore. I think writing suffers if you’ve laboured too hard and long over it and the actual act of writing is the easy bit.

Often people have an image of writers enjoying a leisured lifestyle, peppered with literary lunches and book launches, but the reality is very different. Most days my lunch is snatched at the desk, there are crumbs on the keyboard and coffee stains on my paperwork. It is hard, totally absorbing work and, once the book is launched, the literary world can be cruel. Sometimes I think all writers must be crazy but, for me, the pleasure of crafting a new story outweighs the negatives.

Self-publishing is even harder. Many new writers make the mistake of thinking it is the easy option, which may be why there are so many sub-standard books out there. There are also some brilliant ones but those are the ones that have been a labour of love. It is not about just publishing the first draft, there are many, many stages to go through: rewriting, editing and honing it to perfection before you can even think of sending it to print. When you launch a writing career you are embarking on a small business. You will need a team of assistants, beta readers, editors, cover designers. I am not intending to put people off but they should be aware that writing for pleasure is easy, writing for profit is not.

When do your best ideas come to you for a story?

It varies enormously but inspiration usually strikes when I am nowhere near a notebook and pen! Sometimes an idea comes out of the blue, or is inspired by a visit to a historical site. Most often an idea for the next novel is born out something I am currently writing. For instance, when I was writing Peaceweaver I was struck by how hard it must have been for the Saxons to be so overwhelmed by Norman rule. Everything was suddenly different, the ruling class was foreign, the language was different, the laws were different; everything Saxon, all that they were accustomed to was suddenly altered. History, as we know, is written by the winners, that is why I wrote The Forest Dwellers from the point of view of the conquered.

My research often makes me aware of a fresh perspective of a historical figure. I have most recently published A Song of Sixpence, the story of Elizabeth of York and Perkin Warbeck and during the process of writing it the characters became very human to me. I am now researching the life of Elizabeth’s mother in law, Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII. I was aware of the events in her life but hadn’t previously considered how they might have affected her. I am having a great time finding out.

The Kiss of a Concubine

How do you respond to positive and negative reviews?

Positive reviews make me happy, of course, negative ones, not so much. I don’t read my reviews but my husband does and sometimes he passes them on to me. I think he gets more upset by a negative response than I do. I read them and consider what they’ve said. If it is a silly, badly spelled one liner, ‘nah, this is rubish, give it a miss,’ type of thing, then I ignore it. A review like that, won’t be taken seriously by prospective readers and there is nothing I can learn from it. If it is a well-written, deeply considered, informed review then I take on board the criticism and act on it if I see fit.

It isn’t possible to write a book that will please everyone. The reading public is diverse and, particularly when it comes to history, have strongly held beliefs. I often wish readers could remember that historical authors are writing ‘fiction’ and in no way suggesting that their version of the story is ‘fact.’ I do try to stick to recorded fact where I can but when I wrote A Song of Sixpence I had to go along with the idea that Perkin Warbeck was in fact, one of the Princes of the Tower. That is not to say I believe that to be so, it is simply the perspective I chose to take to make the fiction work.

Thank you, Judith!


Amazon Author Page

Author Website

Author Blog


Book Spotlight: The Masque of a Murder by Susanna Calkins


In Susanna Calkins’ next richly drawn mystery set in 17th century England, Lucy Campion, formerly a ladies’ maid in the local magistrate’s household, has now found gainful employment as a printer’s apprentice. On a freezing winter afternoon in 1667, she accompanies the magistrate’s daughter, Sarah, to the home of a severely injured Quaker man to record his dying words, a common practice of the time. The man, having been trampled by a horse and cart the night before, only has a few hours left to live. Lucy scribbles down the Quaker man’s last utterances, but she’s unprepared for what he reveals to her—that someone deliberately pushed him into the path of the horse, because of a secret he had recently uncovered.

Fearful that Sarah might be traveling in the company of a murderer, Lucy feels compelled to seek the truth, with the help of the magistrate’s son, Adam, and the local constable. But delving into the dead man’s background might prove more dangerous than any of them had imagined.

In The Masque of a Murderer, Susanna Calkins has once again combined finely wrought characters, a richly detailed historical atmosphere, and a tightly-plotted mystery into a compelling read.

Praise for the Lucy Campion Mystery Series

“…the high-quality writing augurs well for future outings.” -Publisher’s Weekly

“Calkins makes Lucy’s efforts to find the real killer entirely plausible, leading to a nail-biter climax with London in flames. This history-mystery delivers a strong heroine making her way through the social labyrinth of Restoration London.” -Booklist

“Calkins’ debut mystery places her unusual detective in a world rich in carefully researched historical detail.” -Kirkus

“A historical mystery with originality and great attention to detail. Readers are transported to 17th century England, a time when social classes were just beginning to change. The characters are multi-dimensional–including the smart, adventurous Lucy Campion–and the mystery will keep readers turning the pages, and they’ll eagerly await the next book in the series.” RT Book Reviews (4 Stars)

“…an intricate tale of fraud and blackmail, leavened by a touch of romance. Calkins, who holds a doctorate in British history, puts her knowledge to sparkling use in this intriguing mystery, which combines a gripping plot with rich historical detail and one of the most admirable protagonists in the genre.” -The Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Calkins is able to seamlessly weave this romance into the story without making it the main plot line, and keeping the mystery the main focus of the story….The puzzles, anagrams, and many secrets combine to make intertwining plot twists that keep the pages turning. FROM THE CHARRED REMAINS is an exciting, secret filled, historical mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end.” –Fresh Fiction (Reviewer’s Pick)

“A good yarn and a fascinating look at life in England in a time when things began to change…social classes, positions, servants’ rights…all because of plague and fire.” -Book Babe Blog

“For me, this book was more than a mystery. It was an eye-opening look at what London was like in the mid-1660s, including the plague and fire that ravaged London, class struggle, the plight of women, and the laws of the time. The author’s engaging writing style made it easy to slip back into the past and experience these things with Lucy.” -Book of Secrets

“A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate is Susanna Calkins’ absorbing debut novel. Just a warning that time WILL easily slip away as you become engrossed in this historical fiction mystery.” -1776 Books: A Philadelphian’s Literary Journey

Pre-Order the Book


Barnes and Noble

Book Depository


About the Author

03_Susanna Calkins_Author

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Susanna Calkins lives in Highland Park, Illinois with her husband and two sons, where she is an educator at Northwestern University. With a PhD in history, her historical mysteries feature Lucy Campion, a 17th century chambermaid-turned-printer’s apprentice. Her first novel, A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate, was a finalist for the Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award (Macavity). The second in this series, From the Charred Remains, is currently a finalist for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award. Her third, The Masque of a Murderer, will be released in April 2015.

For more information and to subscribe to Susanna Calkins’ newsletter please visit her website. You can also follow her blog, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

A Pledge of Better Times by Margaret Porter

Pledge Cover400x600

A sweeping tale of ambition, treachery, and passion . . .

For generations Lady Diana de Vere’s family loyally served England’s crown. But after King Charles II’s untimely death, her father firmly opposes James II’s tyranny. Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans—the late king’s bastard son by actress Nell Gwyn—also rebels against his newly crowned uncle’s manipulation. Secretly pledging to wed Diana, he departs for the Continent to become a soldier.

Political and religious turmoil bring about revolution and yet another coronation before Charles returns to claim his promised bride. As companion to Queen Mary Stuart, Diana has followed her de Vere forbears into royal service. She expects Charles to abandon his military career after marriage, but he proves unwilling to join the ranks of the courtiers he despises and mistrusts.

In palace corridors and within their own household the young duke and duchess confront betrayals, scandals, and tragedies that threaten to divide them. And neither the privileges of birth nor proximity to the throne can ensure their security, their advancement—or their happiness.


Margaret Porter is the author of A Pledge of Better Times and eleven other British-set historical novels for multiple publishers, in both hardcover and paperback, including several bestsellers. Many foreign language editions have been published.

She studied British history in the U.K. and returned to the U.S. to complete her theatre training, and subsequently worked in film and television. After earning her M.A. in Radio-Television-Film, she was a freelance writer and producer for film and video projects. She worked on location for three feature films and a television series.

An occasional newspaper columnist and book reviewer, she has also written for lifestyle magazines. She contributes articles on British history and travel to numerous publications, and her photographs (travel, architectural, and nature) appear in a variety of print media and on websites. At national and regional writers’ conferences she presents workshops on historical research and writing techniques. Her poetry was featured in the literary magazine Granite Review and she spent a summer as Writer-in-Residence at Wesleyan College.

A member of the Authors Guild, Novelists, Inc., Historical Novel Society, London Historians, and other organizations, she is listed in Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who in Authors, Editors and Poets; and Who’s Who in Entertainment.

Margaret returns to Great Britain annually to research her books, and is an avid world traveler. She and her husband live in New England with their two lively dogs, dividing their time between a book-filled house in a small city and a waterfront cottage located on one of the region’s largest lakes.

More information is available at her website.

Category: Historical Fiction    

Publisher: Gallica Press

ISBN   978-0-9907420-4-3 (trade paperback) $14.95

ISBN  978-0-9907420-0-5 (ebook, all formats) $6.99

Pages: 411

On sale: 04/14/15

Marketing: Reviewer ARCs, print, web, and radio advertising; author appearances (New England, South, Rocky Mountain West); blog tour

Readers Group discussion guide

Links to buy, A Pledge of Better Times:

Print edition at Amazon

Kindle edition at Amazon

Print edition at Barnes & Noble

Nook edition at B&N



Book Review: Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson

Shadows of ladddenbrook manor

I’m always intrigued with stories that blend the past and present….

In the present, a woman named Heather –who lives in the States- must return to England. Her parents have passed and their cottage needs tending to. She must decide if she is going to keep the cottage or sell it. Shortly after she arrives, she comes across secrets about her parents that change her situation to say the least. Not only that, she has secrets of her own.

In the past, a young girl named Libby- who is not quite like everyone else- finds herself drawn to the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby becomes pregnant and when her father kicks her out of the cottage, she finds herself in even more trouble. Not only that, Lord Crofts son drowns in the river on the property and no one was ever found responsible.

As the story weaves from the past to present, you become intrigued with the mystery surrounding these two families and as you learn more about them, you are fascinated with their extraordinary but tragic lives. I found this book to be atmospheric, true to the time and place. You really has a sense of the historical surroundings and the emotions the writer brings, leaves you longing to know more about these people’s lives.

Throughout reading the story I couldn’t help but wish I could explore the cottage and the Manor. So mysterious and full of charm. A lovely story.

I’ve rated this book four stars.


Book Review: Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

02_Inspector of the Dead Cover

David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater, confronts London’s harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria. The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.


First off, Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell is pure genius. He is the master of building tension in all the right places. His characters are one of a kind. His plot leaves your heart racing long after putting the book down. Murder. Madness. Dark intrigue. Pure evil. You will not escape it.

After I read this book I could not pick up another book for days! For me that is just unheard of. I had no idea how I was going to write my review for this book. I felt my assessment of the story would pale in comparison and it still does. I really truly don’t know where to begin. I want to take you back to Murder As A Fine Art. That is where all this brilliance begins…but that would take too long and there is so much depth to both stories.

Morrell’s characters are truly extraordinary. Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily are unforgettable! I was completely mesmerized by them. Not only that, you will be drawn deep into Victorian London and its lowest and highest of society. One of the many things I found fascinating about this story was how Morrell weaves in events based on actual  assassination attempts people made on Queen Victoria life.

Everything about this story impressed me to no end.

I’m rating this book five stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble





About the Author

03_David Morell ©_Jennifer_Esperanza

David Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master away from the International Thriller Writers. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel. The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University. His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Inspector of the Dead Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 24 Review at Unabridged Chick Excerpt at Boom Baby Reviews

Wednesday, March 25 Review at Back Porchervations Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, March 26 Review at JulzReads

Friday, March 27 Review & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story Interview at JulzReads

Monday, March 30 Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book Spotlight at Tales of a Book Addict

Tuesday, March 31 Interview & Excerpt at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, April 1 Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Thursday, April 2 Review at Build a Bookshelf Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Friday, April 3 Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.

Monday, April 6 Review & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read Excerpt & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, April 7 Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, April 8 Interview at Back Porchervations Spotlight & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Thursday, April 9 Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Friday, April 10 Review at Layered Pages Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Drey’s Library

Monday, April 13 Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 14 Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 15 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, April 16 Review at Editing Pen Review at Luxury Reading Review at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, April 17 Guest Post & Giveaway at Editing Pen

Monday, April 20 Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, April 21 Review at A Book Geek Review at Books and Benches

Wednesday, April 22 Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, April 23 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, April 24 Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict


04_Inspector of the Dead_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL