Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat by Beverly Stowe McClure Virtual Book Tour Highlights


Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks’ life is falling apart. When he discovers a lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car, his mom leaves his father and drags Erik from being king of the hill in Texas to the bottom of the pits in South Carolina. No Dad, no baseball, no friends, just Starry Knight (a girl who reads minds) and her equally weird brother, Stormy, the twins that live down the block.

Just when Erik thinks life can’t get any worse, while hanging out at the beach one evening, he and the twins notice lights radiating from the lighthouse. The only problem is the lighthouse was deactivated years ago. Stranger still, a ship materializes in the moonlit harbor. Curious, the twins and a reluctant Erik investigate and discover the ghost of a blockade runner, a phantom cat, and a pirate who prowls Charleston Harbor, all searching for rest.

A former nonbeliever in the existence of ghosts, Erik cannot deny the proof before him. And he has a revelation: The ghosts may be the answer to his desire to return home. Erik soon makes a deal with the ghosts. He’ll help them find what they’re looking for so their spirits can rest in peace. In return, the ghosts will scare Erik’s mother so she’ll be on the next flight back to Texas. Star thinks his plan stinks, but Erik wants his life back, even at the cost of his mother’s sanity.





Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters are mostly from my imagination. A couple of the ghosts in this story, Major Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard, are historical characters that really lived. I researched the pirates to make their roles in the book accurate and the events that happened to them are true, with a bit of extra excitement that I added for fun.

As the Pages Turn interview

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I seldom think of themes when I write, but I’d have to say “family” is an important theme to me. I’m big on family and I think it shows in my writing. Also honesty and love are found in many of my novels.

The Dark Phantom Review interview

Research helped me establish the credibility of the historical characters and facts. Mixing history, fiction, and the supernatural wasn’t always easy. It sure was fun, though, and made for an exciting story.

Guest post at The Crypto-Capers Review

I love the unique plot of the book, that the kids help out some ghosts and in return the ghosts help Erik. That makes this book a very different kind of ghost story. I love the weirdness of the Knight twins and the fact that Starry can read minds. They are very likable characters too…Five out of five bookworms for this unique ghost story!

This Kids Reviews Books

Talented in the areas of contemporary and historical fiction, I am always amazed by how diverse her (Beverly’s) ideas are while staying true to her fan base. A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat should be another big winner for her. Why? Because in a nutshell, no matter what Beverly is writing, she knows what relates well to her readers.Beverly Stowe McClure photojpg

The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

Beverly Stowe McClure, a former teacher, is now enjoying a second career: writing. She never planned to be a writer, but in the classroom she and her students did such fun activities in art and science that she decided to write about some of them. Luckily, a few magazines liked what she sent them, and her articles have appeared in Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr., and others. Nine of her stories have been published as books, the latest one a MG/Tween eBook: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. She also has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.

Beverly enjoys discovering her ancestors in her genealogy research. She plays the piano. (Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice.) She takes long walks where she snaps pictures of wildlife and clouds, and of course she reads, usually two books at a time. She teaches a women’s Sunday school class. Watching baseball (Go Rangers) is another of her favorite activities. Retirement is fun.

You can learn more about Beverly Stowe McClure at or follow her blog at



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Filed under Children's Books, contemporary fiction, Paranormal

Interview with Joseph Spencer, author of ‘Wrage’

Joseph SpencerOur guest today is Joseph Spencer, author of the occult crime thriller, Wrage. As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013.  The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.” Visit his website at

WrageWhat made you decide to become a published author?

I worked as a newspaper journalist for ten years in large regional daily newspapers at Peoria, Ill., Burlington, Iowa, Martinsville, Va., and Grand Junction, Colo. Five years ago, I switched careers to join public safety because the outlook of the newspaper industry wasn’t too bright. That’s when I started thinking about a fiction writing career because I missed the creative outlet of writing. I’ve only been writing fiction for about  2 ½ years.

Would you consider your latest book, Wrage, to be a one of a kind?  How so?

I feel like I’ve created a hybrid. I follow different viewpoint characters. Part of the book is more like a traditional crime novel, and other parts of the book delve into supernatural thriller aspects. I don’t see many other novels attempting to blend genres and push boundaries as much I’ve tried to in Grim and Wrage. My writing is gritty, dark, raw and bold, and I think there are readers out there who appreciate that.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

Not to impart a terrible visual, but I liken myself to the Al Bundy of the writing world. I’m at my best camped in a comfy green recliner with my legs kicked up on the footrest and the laptop in my lap.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

I don’t think a writer should ever harass an agent, publisher or any professional with constant emails about feedback. Those professionals will let you know what they think of your writing on their own time. If you don’t hear from them, you could take their silence as feedback, too. In my experience, you only want to work with people who are as enthusiastic about your writing as you are. You will hear from those professionals right away.

What inspires you?

I read a lot across genres. I take inspiration from a number of authors and types of literature. As I grew up, I enjoyed reading mythology, crime fiction, comic books and supernatural horror stories. I’d say that Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter books, Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter books, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and Frank Miller’s graphic novels all have had an impact on my writing style.

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

I found out that readers and critics thought my writing was a lot more intense than I thought it was. I’ve had several reviewers remark that my writing is incredibly visceral and paints memorable visuals in their head. I write gritty, dark and raw material, and I’ve found that there is still a market out there for that.

Why do you love to write occult crime thrillers?

Though I’ve read a lot of crime fiction and it’s one of my favorite genres, I’ve gathered part of my inspiration for the characters which work for the Prairieville Police Department from my real life experiences. I work as a manager at a 9-1-1 emergency communications center for my full-time job, so I work alongside police officers every day. My center handles between 300 to 400 9-1-1 calls on a daily basis and even more non-emergency calls. I’ve also experienced a lot of loss in my life. Many people I hold dear to me in my heart are dead, so I think that’s why I’ve always been interested in the afterlife and the supernatural.

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book.  What’s the first ingredient?

Compelling characters are the straws that stir the drink. As a reader, I don’t keep reading if I don’t care about the characters. I have to want to find out if that character gets the girl or guy, solves the crime, lives or dies, etc.

What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?

When I decided to expand Grim into the Sons of Darkness series with Wrage, I wanted to incorporate themes which intrigued me from religion and history to tell epic stories. The “War Scroll” from the Dead Sea Scrolls foretells of an apocalyptic fight between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness in which Light will earn eternal peace by destroying Darkness. Each son in the Sons of Darkness series will represent a deadly sin, and each son in my future Sons of Light series will symbolize a cardinal virtue.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

I’ve had several real life experiences in Grim and Wrage. Some readers and critics mentioned that they thought that certain characters were treated too harshly and didn’t necessarily get what they deserved in the resolution of the novel. One of the characters in Grim was an arsonist who killed a family in a fire. He planned to kill an uncle who sexually abused him. I had a personal experience with an abusive relationship in my family life, and I wanted to impart those feelings into the novel. That was a personal passage.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on my third novel in the Sons of Darkness series. It’s titled Malice, and will feature a controversial heavy metal rocker named Malice Madsen. His character will take inspiration from Marilyn Manson, and will symbolize the deadly sin of pride.

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Filed under Author Interviews

Guest Blogger: Jess Money, author of ‘Public Enemies’

We are happy to have Jess Money here with us today at The Book Rack!  Jess’ guest post is all about challenges whether it’s you, the author, or Ernest Hemingway. Raised in a politically active family, Jess majored in Political Science with a minor in Economics. He sold his first magazine article at the age of 16 and has since written everything from ad copy and political mailers to a screenplay for DreamWorks, which earned him membership in the Writers Guild of America. Along the way he had a career in professional motorsports, worked with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball program, managed two of the entertainment industry’s most acclaimed Public-Enemies1screenwriting programs, and worked as a bar bouncer when that’s what it took to keep the wolf from the door. His latest book is the political thriller, Public Enemies. You can visit Jess at

The Challenge of Social Drama

by Jess Money

The challenge in writing PUBLIC ENEMIES was the same one that many famous writers have faced. Not to put myself in their class, but Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway all had to figure out how to incorporate the issues of their time into a compelling fiction narrative. I had to merge today’s issues of income inequality, corporate power, public corruption, and the loss of civil liberties into the fictional lives of characters in a way that would resonate with readers.

The issues that we as a society face, and that are woven into the fabric of PUBLIC ENEMIES, are not new. They represent the ageless unceasing battle between everyday people and those for whom greed, excess, and power are sociopathic aphrodisiacs. Here is what Montagu Norman, Governor of The Bank Of England, said in addressing the United States Bankers’ Association, in New York.

“Capital must protect itself in every possible way, both by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When, through process of law, the common people lose their homes, they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of the government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers.

These truths are well known among our principal men, who are now engaged in forming an imperialism to govern the world. By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance. It is thus, by discrete action, we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished.”

That was in 1924, five years before the stock market crash set off the Great Depression, and his statement is every bit as relevant now as it was then. Anyone who looks closely can see exactly how the process Norman described is at work today, just five years after the collapse of Lehman Bros, launched what many now call the Great Recession.

No matter how much people hope for a change, hope is never enough. As Saint Augustine said,

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” This is the heart of PUBLIC ENEMIES. Led by a man using the alias Thomas Paine, a small number of men and women — possessed of great courage and driven by great anger — set out to force reform using the only tools the elite understand: brutal deadly force. It’s the classic contest between good and evil, with the public as final referee.


The only thing the elite fear, an uprising of the people, is about to be realized.

After bankruptcy took away his dying wife’s medical care, Thomas Paine is on a crusade for a Second Bill of Rights using violence against politicians, banksters, and CEO’s.

How far will FBI Agent Darren Medlin go to stop the public from joining Paine’s insurgency? Forced to publicize Paine’s demands, what decisions will talk show host Crystal Dickerson have to make? And which way will the country turn?

Pick up your copy at AMAZON.


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Filed under Guest Posts

Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow by Sal Barbera on Sale in October!

The story of “Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow” takes us on the journey she travels to figure out how to get the cows at a new farm to like and accept her.

While she hopes to find friendship at her new home, instead she learns what it means to be different from everyone else. (Spotless!) Mary Elizabeth uses clever ideas and a sense of humor to help her on her quest for friends at the new farm.

This inspiring tale shows how perseverance in spite of obstacles, using a sound thought process to arrive at solutions and the importance of having fun, using humor and enjoying playtime can build friendships.

When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program to make a difference in the lives of children with critical and life threatening illnesses.


Once upon a time……..there was a farm in Ohio with lots of Cows. They all had many spots to be proud of. One day a truck pulled into the farm. The back door opened and out came a new Cow. The other Cows were so excited to have a new friend!

But as the new Cow came out of the truck the other Cows looked on in shock!!! “Oh My! What on Earth?!”

It seems the new Cow, whose name was Mary Elizabeth, had no spots!

“Where are your spots??!!” Demanded the Cow called Anna Belle.

“I don’t have any spots. I was born spotless, you see.”

Well, Anna Belle and the other Cows were horrified.

(Not mad, you had to be very careful about mad)

Purchasing information: During the month of October, purchase Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow from the Sweetles website for only $12.00 (List price: $17.99). When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program. Visit for more information.

Sal is the author and illustrator of “A Sweetles Dream”® book series. As the Creative Director for Hartman-Barbera llc, a family media & entertainment company, he is also an animator, sculptor, painter and all around fun guy. Sal lives the phrase: “A day without laughter is a wasted day”. To that end, he uses his writing, illustrating and animation skills to create endearing characters and comedic stories.

Sal’s sense of humor and empathy for his characters explore personal and social situations in ways that makes it enjoyable for both adults and children to experience together. Born in New York City, Sal moved to North Bergen, NJ where he grew up on a steep hillside neighborhood with his four older sisters. He currently lives in sunny Arizona with his wife and artistic partner, Sheri, who he defines as his inspiration. On any given day Sal might be painting, sculpting, drawing, animating, writing or enjoying one of his favorite pastimes: cooking, television, movies and golf.

Visit Sal Barbera’s website at

October 1st

Interview at Blogcritics

October 2nd

Book spotlight at The Writer’s Life

October 3rd

Book spotlight at As the Pages Turn

October 4th

Book review at Alicia Finn Noack

October 7th

Book spotlight at Literarily Speaking

October 8th

Book spotlight at Between the Covers

October 9th

Book spotlight at The Book Rack

October 10th

Book review at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

October 11th

Guest post at Paperback Writer

Book spotlight at Review from Here

October 14th

Interview at Straight from the Author’s Mouth

October 15th

Book spotlight at Broken Teepee

Book spotlight at Beyond the Books

October 16th

Book review at Lynn’s Corner

Book trailer reveal at If Books Could Talk

October 17th

Guest post at The Story Behind the Book

October 18th

Interview at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

October 21st

Book review at My Devotional Thoughts

Book spotlight at Deco My Heart

Book spotlight at A Year of Jubilee Book Reviews

October 22nd

Book review at 4 the Love of Books

October 23rd

Guest post at Mayra’s Secret Bookcase

October 25th

Book review at Mary’s Cup of Tea

October 28th

Book review at Thoughts in Progress

October 30th

Book review at Maureen’s Musings

October 31st

Book review at Blooming with Books

Guest post at Lori’s Reading Corner


 Book review at Classic Children’s Books

Book spotlight at 4 the Love of Books

Book review at A Year of Jubilee Book Reviews


Filed under Children's Books

Two Are Better by Tim and Debbie Bishop Book Tour Highlights

Two Are Better new cover

From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience in bicycle touring—or marriage? While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in her 24 years of teaching. Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?



“It’s not always best to move at breakneck speed. The faster we go, the greater chance that we’re simply spinning in circles—and getting nowhere fast! Speed can give the illusion that you’re making progress even while it robs you of the joys of everyday living. It blocks you from making it to that long sought after destination—the one that lies deep within. Slowing the pace allows you to absorb more of what’s around you. It helps you discover a new perspective, intriguing surprises around the next corner, and a deeper appreciation for life itself.”
–Guest post from Lori’s Reading Corner

What was your greatest challenge writing this book?

We faced challenges on a multitude of fronts. Since we included photography and reproduced the entire book in color, the layout as well as the dual-author narrative presented challenges that most trade paperbacks—or ebooks for that matter—do not face. Once we had decided to include two narrators, we needed to reconcile and blend our styles and schedules. In many respects, the writing and production of Two Are Better became an extension of our marital bonding. We moved from one major undertaking to another, from a cross-country bicycle trek to writing and publishing a book. Both adventures made for a unique laboratory for discovering our unique formula for success and our identity as a couple.”
–Examiner interview

“Embrace life like never before. Read Two Are Better, and begin your own quest to more adventuresome living.”
–JoJo’s Corner review

“Come along and share the ride and events that happen along their trip. Some are very unusual, and there are a few chuckles too. Most of the story seems to be written by Tim, but there are reports by Debbie…enjoy two different perspectives of the same event!”
–Maureen’s Musings review

“Have you ever wondered why they call it “midlife crisis”? I did too…at least until I lived through one. If you’ve not arrived there yet, here’s a warning: be prepared for some issues that will either catapult you into an exciting new chapter of your life or wreak havoc with you. Remaining entrenched in unending problems is just like playing tetherball and beating down the small plot of ground around the pole. True to its nature, Two Are Better jumps off the merry-go-round of routine and turns midlife crisis upside down.”
–Guest post from Paperback Writer

” I was reminded of God’s providence, love, and provision, and I marveled at how well-suited these two were. I highly recommend this book!”
–My Devotional Thoughts review

“While not someone who is interested in cycling, that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying Two Are Better. Tim speaks with an air of authority tempered by a deep love for life and Debbie has an adventurous heart. The numerous photographs and this couple’s ability to share so much of themselves make this book a truly special reading experience. You simply can’t help but get caught up in their story. I feel as if I’ve journeyed the country right alongside them and been treated to many sites I might not visit on my own. What a blessing.”
–The Book Connection review

Tim BishopTim Bishop

Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over thirty years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.

Debbie BishopDebbie Bishop

Debbie Bishop has taught for over twenty-five years, for the past ten years as a literacy specialist in Framingham, Massachusetts. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people do it well. She also has high interest in recovery issues and encouraging others with her own triumphs over struggles earlier in her life. Debbie also serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine.

Visit the authors online at

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Filed under Christian nonfiction, Non-Fiction