Tag Archives: books

A Quick Poll. Please Help Me Name My Next Book!

The sequel to Time To Lie has been written and edited. I have sent it off to the publisher. I have tentatively titled it The Last Locked Door. I’m wondering if that’s a strong enough title to lure readers in. Many a book, movie or other product have been either successful or done poorly based on the choice of name. I want your opinion on the title The Last Locked Door. Vote in the poll !

Thanks everybody! I really appreciate your help. Have a great Sunday! ~Phil

Second In Command: The Debut Novel by Sandi Van!

I’m proud to introduce you to my neighbor, friend and author Sandi Van. Her first published novel Second In Command, is available TODAY on Amazon! Sandi is a writer, counselor, and former special education teacher from Buffalo, New York. She blogs at Caravan of Composition, and for all of my WordPress blogging friends, she is a WordPress blogger, so go give her a follow. Her work has also been featured in Adoptive Families magazine.

Second In Command synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Leo dreams of becoming an Eagle Scout and, someday, a police officer. He makes sure to always do the right thing and be responsible. With his mom deployed and his dad constantly working, Leo is often left in charge of his two younger siblings. Then Leo’s brother, Jack, gets caught up in a dangerous plot that rocks the community. Can Leo keep his promise to stand by his brother no matter what, or will he stand on the side of justice?

Me: Hello Sandi and welcome to The Phil Factor! Although your cover, pictured above has the title Second In Command, on Amazon the title is Second in Command (YA Verse). I know that YA means Young Adult, but what does the Verse refer to?

Sandi: A verse novel is a story told entirely through poetry. It follows the same narrative structure as a traditional novel (in other words there is a character with a goal, and there are obstacles preventing him from reaching his goal that increase in peril as the story progresses), but instead of chapters there are poems. Not to fear, the novel is aimed at reluctant readers and was written for anyone to enjoy, despite their experience in the realm of poetry.

Me: How did your own personal experience influence the plot and characters of your novel?

Sandi: The story is about a family affected by their mother’s deployment. The main character, Leo, is 16 and expected to help take care of his younger siblings. My husband serves in the Navy and was deployed for most of 2003. I witnessed firsthand the stress deployment can have on those left behind, particularly young families. The characters are loosely based on our next door neighbors from that time period. Mom was deployed and Dad worked long hours, leaving the kids to take care of homework, meals, and laundry. I was impressed with how responsible the oldest son was, and years later he inspired me to create the character of Leo. 

Me: When and how did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

Sandi: In fifth grade I was chosen to be part of an experimental group that tested this newfangled 1980’s software that could create a sort of choose your own adventure story. My story was about a witch, and I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas and watching the completed project spill out of the dot matrix printer. Around seventh grade I discovered Edgar Allan Poe. Between that and various episodes of unrequited love, my poetry flowed heavily and with abundant angst. There is also a box full of old journals in my basement my husband and children have been instructed to burn upon my passing. I started my first blog in 2008, and in 2013 I found myself without a job and with an idea for a novel but no clue how to write it. Fate brought a writer into my path who introduced me to a whole bunch of other writers and helped me figure out how to turn my ideas into a book. The book wasn’t very good. But the process of writing, editing, and putting it out into the world made me believe I could actually be a writer.

Me: So what comes next? Is there a sequel to Second In Command, or do you have something else you’re working on?

Sandi: Oh the million dollar question. No, there won’t be a sequel to Second in Command, although I’d love to write another verse novel. Currently I’m working on a story about a young Naval Reservist who serves on the funeral guard. On her way to a funeral she gets stuck in a snow storm and learns how to cope with a personal tragedy through her interactions with other stranded motorists. I was born and raised in Buffalo and although thankfully I’ve never been trapped in my car during a storm, I’ve always been impressed by the way people come together and help each other during heavy snowfalls. 

Thank you for sharing my story with your readers, Phil!

Me: You’re welcome Sandi! A book about someone stranded in a snow storm? With the weather this week, it’s too bad you can’t launch that one right now!

Even though Second In Command is her debut novel, do you know how you can tell that Sandi is a big time author? (Aside from the fact that she’s featured on The Phil Factor. ) Hardcover! Her first novel is published in both hardcover and paperback!  Hardcover is big time. Hardcover is James Patterson/Stephen King big time. Michelle Obama’s first book came out in hardcover and so did Sandi’s!

Thank you again Sandi for appearing on #ThePhilFactor. I wish you the best of luck with your new novel and we look forward to what’s next. Please check out Sandi’s novel on Amazon . You can find her at her website and please give her a follow at Caravan of Composition and Twitter!

Have a great day! ~ Phil

Some Suggestions For Getting Your Kids Away from Their Phones

Denzil Walton , a friend of The Phil Factor, has written a fascinating book. If you’re a parent I’m sure that the title of this blog post caught your attention. How in the world do we get our kids off their phones and interacting with the “real” world? Denzil, a lover of nature, the great outdoors and birds in particular has some great ideas.

Author Denzil Walton

His highly rated book is available for Kindle on Amazon USA, Amazon in the U.K. , and on Kobo . If you’ve got kids who are already spending a little too much time looking at life online instead outdoors I encourage you to check out Denzil’s book! ~Phil

Top Ten Tuesday! The Ten Best Books I’ve Ever Read. What Are Yours?

Like the title says, these are the ten best books that have ever read. They’re my favorites. Yours may be different. In fact, I’m hoping they are. Either in the comments or, in your own blog post with a link back, I’d like you to share some of your favorite books so that we can all maybe find a new favorite book or author from each other. Of course I won’t shamelessly plug my own books by putting them on my list, but if you want to, I won’t argue.

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10. The Vampire LeStat: by Anne Rice. Unbeknownst to most people (you know it’s serious when I use big words like unbeknownst) it wasn’t Stephanie Meyer who invented the vampire genre, but Anne Rice about fifteen years earlier. LeStat, referred to as the Brat Prince, is such a fun character you’ll want to become one of the undead just to hang out with him for eternity.

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9. The Da Vinci Code: by Dan Brown. The first in the series was easily the best. Don’t watch the movie because Tom Hanks stars in it with a ridiculously bad hairdo, but read the book.

8. How to Succeed in Evil: by Patrick E. McLean. Edwin Windsor is an Evil Efficiency Expert who contacts out his services to help supervillains be more villanous. Hilarious!  You end up rooting for evil!

7. Bite Me: by Christopher Moore, award winning, New York Times bestselling author who I interviewed for The Phil Factor about three years ago. Spoiler alert: This won’t be his only book on the list. Trust me on Christopher Moore. You’ll want to read so many of his books. Bite Me skewers the vampire genre with brilliant sarcasm.

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6. Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys: by Pulitzer Prize winning Dave Barry, whom I interviewed for The Phil Factor in 2013. If you’re a woman, you’ll laugh as you read countless hilarious examples of the idiocy of men. If you’re a guy you”l see yourself in so many of the true stories.

5. 11/22/63: by Stephen King. I hope you didn’t watch the Hulu miniseries. They took some liberties with the plot that I didn’t think were necessary and detracted from the story. Read the book. It’s a surprising love story.

4. Good Omens: by Neil Gaimans and Terry Pratchett. Read. Laugh. Thank me later. Both authors are cherished titans of English literature, and their other solo works are brilliantly funny. Together they don’t disappoint.

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3. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: by Douglas Adams. This book is a literary classic. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT watch the movie. Read the book. Your cultural education cannot be considered complete until you’ve read this book.

2. A Dirty Job: by Christopher Moore. Being the Grim Reaper is a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Hilarity galore. If you enjoy the absurdity of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, then you’ll also love Christopher Moore.

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1. Odd Thomas: by Dean Koontz. In general I consider Dean Koontz to be Stephen King lite, but Odd Thomas is his signature character. I read books from a first person point of view. I become the protagonist when I read. Some characters fit in my head better than others. Odd Thomas fit me like a glove. For me, he was one of those characters where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be him or have him as my best friend. I read the first Odd Thomas novel at least a decade ago and was disappointed earlier this year when, after 16 novels, the series came to an end.
Those are my top ten. What are yours? Answer in the comments or create a post and link back so we can all find a few more good reads.

Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil

How An April Fool’s Joke Led To a Stalker and Being Published

The year was 2006. #ThePhilFactor was about a year old. I had a small but loyal following. I thought up the prank about two weeks before April Fool’s Day and set it in motion. I first wrote a small post about my response to a fictional overly amorous woman who had gone outside of blog comments and emailed me directly. The prank was that my readers didn’t know the woman was a fictional character.

Over the next two weeks I wrote three or more posts where I asked the woman to stop messaging me through Twitter and email. My readers implored me to ignore her rather than to feed her ego with my public response. Some even suggested that law enforcement might be needed. I openly blogged about stopping The Phil Factor to end the harassment.

Finally, on April Fool’s Day, I revealed that it was all a ruse. Only one of my readers figured it out and had messaged me the day before.

In 2013 my then editor, Cynthia Shepp  and Renee Folsom, who created the covers for The Sneaker Tree and 50 Shades of Phil for me, had posted on Facebook that they were looking for writers to submit short stories, up to 10,000 words, related to the theme of stalkers. I remembered my old prank and wrote it as a story as if the reader was reading my blog posts (with some of the real comments), e-mails and Twitter messages with the stalker. For the story I added a bit of a wicked twist at the finish.

The book, pictured above, includes 17 stories from a bunch of great writers and I am proud that my store was chosen as the closer. Neither myself or any of the writers get a dime from sale of the books, but it was an opportunity for us to get some exposure. It’s gotten great ratings and reviews on Amazon. If you like suspense stories and are looking for a new favorite author, this might be the collection for you. You can find it in paperback or Kindle version HERE on Amazon.

Happy Easter/Passover/April Fool’s Day! ~Phil

An Interview with Me?!!?

AllAuthor.com interviewed me about my background and how I got the ideas for my books. If you’re interested you can find the interview HERE

Have a great Friday! ~Phil

A Guest Post and a New Book by Allie Potts!

THE TOP 5 DANGERS OF BEING A WRITER by Allie Potts

1. Government Watch Lists: The Watch & Wand is set in a post-apocalyptic world where all but the most basic technology is outlawed. As a result, my search history includes all sorts of doomsday prepper supplies and survivalist techniques. Combined with the fact that I also write mysteries which require me to research various ways to kill people off while making it appear as a natural occurrence, it is a wonder I haven’t already had a visit by a government agent.

2. Split Personalities: Before I started writing I would nervously cross the street if I heard someone engaging in a two sided conversation with no one else present. Now, after catching myself trading barbs with myself out loud, I have to wonder if those other people simply were trying to work out the dialogue of a problematic scene.

3. Stunted Growth: This was not a concern of mine as I stopped growing upward sometime in the sixth grade, but for others you have to seriously wonder how much taller they might have been had it not been for the volume of caffeine the typical writer consumes.

4. Other Addictions: Look to most any writer’s bookshelf. A sandwich dressed by both mayonnaise and mustard might be considered an extravagant expense some weeks on a writer’s income, and yet an e-reader’s memories are filled and shelves sag as more books get added to the ever growing To Be Read list, rationalized as ‘research.’

5. Uncontrollable lies: Speaking of that To Be Read list, let’s go to the numbers. The average person reads at a speed of 200 words per minute. A book is considering a novel at 50,000, but some genre’s go far longer. Epic fantasy for example is often between 100,000 and 200,000. So let’s use then 80,000 words as a reference. This means that reading a book from end to end should take a typical reader 400 minutes or 6.67 hours.

As pesky things like sleep, family, and other jobs tend to get in the way of quality reading time the size of the To Be Read list rapidly outgrows available time and yet we can’t help ourselves from adding to it.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are other lies we tell ourselves:

  • We’ll never be good enough
  • We’re the best writer out there
  • No one will read it
  • It will be an instant best-seller
  • The one negative review among the twenty positive ones was the only honest review
  • the one negative review offering constructive criticism was written by a troll who obviously knows nothing as we are perfect

Choosing to be a writer is a dangerous path, but one I’ve never regretted taking.

Allie Potts is the author of The Fair & Foul and The Watch & Wand, books one and two of the Project Gene Assist series. Set in a not too distant future, the books take place at a time when science meets magic and biology merges with technology, while tackling what it means to be human.

Additionally, she is the author of An Uncertain Faith, a Rocky Row Novel, a cozy mystery/women’s literature story written for those who find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.

When not finding ways to squeeze in 72 hours into a 24 day or chasing after children determined to turn her hair gray before its time, Allie enjoys stories of all kinds. Her favorites, whether they are novels, film, or simply shared aloud with friends, are usually accompanied with a glass of wine or cup of coffee in hand.

A self-professed science geek and book nerd, Allie writes everyday style stories, flash fiction, tips and tricks, and the occasional not-a-review review at www.alliepottswrites.com

Book links include:

Social Media Links

Allie’s new book, The Watch & Wand launches Tuesday but is already available for pre-order on Amazon. Go check it out! Have a great Sunday! ~Phil