Friday, January 28, 2011

How a Book Was Born

I would like to welcome guest blogger Olivia Rodan Jacobs, author of  Jerusalem 3000, THE POISONER’S AGENDA.

 How a Book Was Born

It started out innocently enough. When the dinner dishes were done, my children were busy with homework, and I had finished correcting the day’s pile of English essays from my high school students, I picked up a steno pad and amused myself for half an hour by writing a story, an adventure story, a mystery—really a mystery because I had no idea where the story was going.

I guess I broke all the rules of writing. I had no outline, no list of characters, and no resolution in mind. I just curled up on the sofa and scribbled, imagining scenes in my mind, remembering settings in vivid detail from my own tramping about in Israel. The characters became composites of people I had known. It was fun.

After a few months the characters sorted themselves into heroes or villains. The plot seemed to write its own denouement. It was time to type up my scribbles. Why hadn’t I used the computer to write what somehow evolved into a manuscript of more than two hundred pages? When I began, I hadn’t envisioned a book being born. I was simply unwinding after a day’s work.

Eventually I completed the typing and went to the library for a book about agents. I sent out a few queries. To my surprise I received several requests to see the manuscript. More than one response was positive. I chose a well-reputed agent and sat back to let him do the work.

He did, and several editors asked to see the manuscript. Then the replies started arriving. “Great story, but it is not quite right for our publishing house at this time.” That was the gist of it, over and over again, polite rejections. I put the manuscript in a drawer and forgot about it.

A few years went by. Then I felt compelled to take the manuscript out again. This time I actually did have a vision. I wanted to write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of Jerusalem. I wanted to reach readers not particularly interested in political blogs. I wanted to turn the story into a mystery thriller with soul.

I took the basic plot of my original draft and gave it depth and passion by adding factual background material. My characters blossomed. To strengthen credibility for motivation, I added flashbacks to the plot. The book gained intensity greater than that of a simple mystery.

The initial writing was a lark. Turning the story into a thriller with the dual purpose of entertaining and embodying truth was plain hard work. Nevertheless, the whole process was almost self-propelled, and every moment was full of the excitement of creation.

By Olivia Rodan Jacobs, author of Jerusalem 3000, THE POISONER’S AGENDA
Author’s website:
Review on More reviews on

Monday, January 24, 2011

Introducing Author Rowena Portch

Spirian Series Author Brings New Dimension to “Blind Seer” Heroine.

Author Rowena Portch of Greater Seattle, WA, mother of two, accomplished artist, massage therapist, homeopath, and herbalist had already been writing professionally for over 30 years, across different genres and for various publications, when she set out to write her ambitious 5 part Spirian SeriesThe Protected, book one of the series was released on May 11, 2010 and is already gaining popularity and favorable reviews.

The Protected, are a supernaturally gifted race of beings, not quite human but not fully spirit that secretly share this planet.  Among themselves they are known as Spirians, a race caught between the physical and spiritual realms – where anything is possible. Skye, a blind massage therapist, has lived her whole life as human and is unaware of her race and the path her life is about to take.  Skye may be the prophesied “Healer” whose gifts are pivotal in the course of her people’s future; a future that could bring about the enslavement of humanity.  The Protected, book one of the series, takes the reader with Skye into the hidden world of the Spirians, where a few stand in the balance ready to teach Skye to use the power that is her birthright before she becomes a pawn in a much larger game.

The Union, book two was released in the fall of 2010. Series heroine, Skye, has joined Khalen Dunning and his clan of Spirians and takes her place as the blind healer of legend.  A rival clan, the Shadows, have set designs in motion to destroy Khalen and subvert Skye.  Hungry for power and blood they cannot allow Skye to become Khalen's mate.  Khalen will be pushed to use his powers to take life. Doing so will carry him to the edge of darkness and place everything he has fought for including his soul at risk.  The truce between clans has been broken and war is imminent. Spirian elders from around the world are gathering to determine leadership and to negotiate and enforce Spirian law.  Is there another of the Protected strong enough to challenge Khalen, one better suited to serve as Skye’s guardian?  Are Skye and Khalen destined to be life mates? Can Khalen keep Skye alive long enough to cement their bond by claiming her? Author Rowena Portch keeps audiences guessing.

The series shows immense promise.  The author shares that . . .

“I had the local Read Right program that helps folks learn to read more efficiently evaluate my book for their program. They were very pleased to have a book that was suitable for their young teens as well as adults. Because it contained no profanity, heavy violence, or explicit sex scenes, they found it appropriate to bring in as their main read for their young teens. I was very pleased and happy to hear that.”

Not only is the book becoming an easy favorite with readers, an author interview with Rowena Portch was be featured on Writers in the Sky Podcast, which aired over the Internet on August 6, 2010.

“The depth of realism and texture Portch has written into the character and world of her “Blind Seer” heroine is untouchable by the writings of sighted authors.  Once you read The Protected you’ll never believe another author trying to write blind again.  Portch has written a unique and engaging series that will thrill and inspire readers.” says book reviewer and podcast host Vonnie Faroqui of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services [WITS]

There is a spiritual level to Portch’s writing that challenges the reader’s understanding and world view.  Theme elements include dualism and the balance between light and darkness, good and evil and the shades of gray between them. Portch pulls in and examines through her characters the role of Spirit and the ego as they relate to physical and emotional sickness, and health. There are real moral and spiritual issues being addressed in the series that the author handles skillfully, with humility, and without becoming dogmatic or bogged down by theology.

When asked, Rowena shared the following views on writing and information about the second book . . .
About Writing and Publishing . . . 
“. . . I look for a solid plot and intriguing characters that I can relate to. I learned many years ago to write for myself. Now that self-publishing has earned its way into a much deserved respect, I feel confident publishing my own work and dictating where that work will take me. Outskirts Press provided a fabulous experience. I will use them again for the remaining books in my series. That's my plan anyway. Life has a way of changing the tides.”
About her series . . .
“. . . In book one, Skye learns about her Spirian side and grows to know Khalen Dunning, a powerful man that could easily claim her soul.  In book two Skye is living among other Spirians.  Her gifts have intensified beyond everyone’s expectations, including Case, the Protected’s wisest elder. Case knows that a union between Khalen and Skye would be a powerful one; a bond that would enforce the strength of the race.  In book two I explore the lengths Khalen’s darker twin, Traeger, will go to ensure that the union between his brother and Skye doesn’t take place; and how far Khalen will go to protect her. Until now, Khalen’s power to take life has been subdued. In this book I want the reader to ask what would happen if that control was abolished and Khalen’s gifts were unleashed?”

Portch retired from her successful career as an editor at Microsoft, when she lost her vision to retinitis pigmentosa.  After leaving Microsoft she and husband Gregg opened the Abel Wellness Center on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.  Among the many healing modalities that Portch practices at the Center is the ancient form of healing, Chinese Tui Na, practiced by Qi Gong masters, acupuncturists, and Portch’s main character, Skye, from The Protected.

Portch has drawn not only from her personal life, using her experience of diminished sight and later blindness for character development, but has drawn in her healing work, and relationships to write the Spirian heroine’s world and to fill her books with realism.  This author’s work will fascinate and please readers for years to come.

Learn more about Rowena Portch and the Spirian Series from her website at  or by following her on and at The author will meet and sign books for the public with events to be announced through

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy 2011!

The end of 2010, saw the completion of Garasamo Maccagnone's WITS virtual tour for St. John of the Midfield.

The 2011 new year begins with preparations for the launch of yet another fantastic virtual tour production for . . . 

Author: Karlin Sloan
Book Title: UnFear
Genre: Business, Self Help, Leadership
ISBN10 : 1452885850
ISBN13 : 9781452885858
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Release Date: December 2010
Tour Date:  March 1, 2011
Link to purchase

Contact Vonnie Faroqui, virtual tour manager, for information about joining this virtual tour as a blog host or interviewer.


Karlin Sloan is the founder and CEO of Karlin Sloan & Company, a leadership development firm providing development consultation for national and multinational organizations seeking to advance through enhanced training and executive coaching.

Karlin believes businesses and individuals have a responsibility, not only to their organizations for results, but to embody the changes they wish to see in the world. She holds a BA from Mills College, an MA in clinical psychology from the Professional School of Psychology in San Francisco, and executive coach certification through the William James Institute Center for Executive Coaching.

A new book by executive coaching guru Karlin Sloan, investigates individual, team, and organizational strategies to reduce fear and inspire performance in the face of change. The book introduces powerful techniques to unlock the fear and begin to make decisions out of hope and purpose, rather than out of fear.