Monthly Archives: November 2011

Nicole Sophia Izmaylov is Truly a Child Protege!


I’ve been impressed with this young lady since I first met her on Facebook about a year ago. She is a gifted author and has won a variety of awards to prove it. Nicole is a talented, bright star and has a great career ahead of her as an author or whatever vocation she chooses.

Dellani Oakes: Nicole, tell us your latest news.

Nicole Izmaylov:  I’m currently coauthoring a novel with my sister, Michelle Izmaylov; this will be a space opera about an alien war. By myself, I’m working on a fantasy story concerning wolves and lions. In terms of publicity, I recently finished an interview with the Author Show, and it will be available within the coming weeks.

DO: When & why did you begin writing?

NI:  I began writing because it was my way of living. I wasn’t a very sociable child; books were my escape, and later writing became an even greater one. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and I think I started when I was very young—maybe six or seven.

DO: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

NI:  When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, drawing, and playing and composing music.

DO: What inspired you to write your first book?

NI: I have witnessed so many times bystanders or friends refusing to help others, and I believe that this should not happen, so I decided to write a picture book that would stress the importance of love and friendship. In addition, I saw a remarkable occurrence of a disturbed nest of bees disturbing a cat trying to pounce on a mouse. (Ronnie & BB review below)

DO: What do you think makes a good story?

NI:  I think that there are three very important ingredients for a good story.

(1) The writer loves it. (2) The audience loves it. (3) The characters and setting love their own story. By this I mean that the characters seem to be alive in a setting, as if the story were a description of something that actually happened.

DO: How do you want readers to feel after reading one of your stories?

NI: This depends on the story. On my stories are teach morality lessons, I want the reader to walk away having learned something. On my what if stories, readers should be thinking about the what if in their minds. On my general fiction, I want them to walk away feeling entertained and also a little sad, as my works tend to include bittersweet endings.

DO: Who is your favorite character out of all the books you’ve written?

NI: My favorite character would have to be the psychopathic Kor’lir from The Draçian Dance. This is the character who ripped another character’s head off for seemingly no reason, but I find him endearing in his insanity.

DO: What influences your character creation?

NI: I have quite an overactive imagination, and so many of my characters begin as exaggerated caricatures of some personality trait(s) someone I know has and slowly morph into a fully-fledged round character with a backstory and whatnot. It’s quite a fun process from initial idea to final character.

DO: What are your current projects?

NI: As stated earlier, I’m working on a novel about wolves and (mountain) lions, wherein a mountain lion cub is raised by wolves. When the cub, named Crescent, is cast out of the wolf pack for being different, he realizes that he is not a wolf and sets out to discover who he truly is. I’m also working on a fairy tale parody—working title Curse Breakers—about four cursed individuals who truly hate each other but who are forced to work together to break their various curses. Ouch.

DO: What are some of your future plans with your writing?

NI: Along with finishing the Shifting Moon Chronicles, Book I: Crescent’s Path and Curse Breakers, I’m also working on a hardcore fantasy tentatively entitled Songs of the Stars, which would be a five-book arc concerning a realm populated by lurking starsingers, shape-shifting beings with the power to control certain types of magic. I’m also planning to write another parody novel called Every Love Story Ever (plus Ninjas, Aliens, and a Slightly Used Napkin) and a mathematical thriller named The Vampyre Crusades, which tells the story of High Priest Möbius—and his loyal followers Ödin, Byron, Icarus, Uhluhtc, and Sliveron—as they set out on a quest to vanquish the mysterious vampyres that continue to appear from the West. What they don’t realize is that they live on a three-dimensional Möbius strip.

Ronnie & BB

“Ronnie and BB” is a charming children’s book written by Nicole Izmaylov, beautifully illustrated by Valerie Bouthyette. The heartwarming poem cleverly emphasizes the importance of love and friendship for young children. The adventures of Ronnie and BB shows how even the smallest of us can help a friend against a greater foe.

I highly recommend this lovely book for children between 2 and 5. It will delight parents as well. I enjoyed it so much that I intend to send it to my 3 year old granddaughter. I know it’s a book she will come to love.

Dart and the Squirrels

D’Artagnan Whirligig Scribe (Dart) is a shelter dog rescued by the Scribe family. He isn’t quite sure what to think of them. As an older animal, he doesn’t even think he’ll be adopted, but they surprise him.

Life with the Scribes is noisy and somewhat chaotic, but fairly normal until the tree falls on the house. Enter Emilia Vuvuzela Scribe—squirrel. She was in the tree when it fell and the family adopts her too. If Dart thought life was strange before, he was wrong. She manages to take his life and turn it completely upside down.

“Dart and the Squirrels” is a charming chapter book for young readers. It’s delightful, imaginative and fun, written in an engaging fashion to appeal to children. The characters are shown from the dog’s perspective and frequently are foolish or downright annoying to the canine contingent. Dart feels he is the only sane, levelheaded one in the entire household. Readers of all ages will enjoy this lively and fast paced book.

Dracian Dance

Sarah Lynn Loque is the daughter of an explorer. Unfortunately, her father, James, disappeared on an expedition. In his absence, her mother has died. Left only in the care of her fussy uncle, Richard, she’s traveled to the New World from their home in United Kingdoms of the West.

Excited to be on her first expedition, she gets angry with Uncle Richard for keeping her grounded in camp. She sneaks away one night with only her friend Daniel for company.

The New World is nothing like her home. A jungle world, it’s full of strange plants and dangerous animals. As she and Daniel make their way through the undergrowth, they come across one of these creatures. In the ensuing confrontation, they are separated and Sarah Lynn is taken by—dragons!

The Draçar, as they call themselves, are a fascinating species. Fully sentient, they communicate by telepathy. Although they haven’t the weapons and tools that humans have, they are still quite advanced. Sarah Lynn is stunned by their culture. Çele, the leader of the Tribe of the Winding Rose, assigns her care to a young male Draçar, Tag’ren. They become fast friends and have many adventures together.

Sarah Lynn is an exceptional girl. She’s bright, well educated and curious. She is, in effect, a born explorer. She embraces the new culture, learning everything she can about it. She also learns to view her own people in a very different light.

Tag’ren is also an exceptional person. The young Draçar is kind and gentle, though he has the skills and instincts of a fierce warrior. In many ways, he and Sarah Lynn are exactly alike. In others, completely different. Their friendship develops throughout the book, making them close friends.

“The Draçian Dance” is a sweeping fantasy as amazing as the Draçar themselves. Nicole Izmaylov has sprinkled just enough real history into her novel to make it believable, but at the same time takes the New World and makes it her own.“The Draçian Dance” is perfect for middle grades on up, making it also a great read for adults. The characters of Sarah Lynn and Tag’ren are wonderfully well rounded and believable. Their actions speak loudly about overcoming differences and finding friendship.

I highly recommend “The Draçian Dance” for any lover of fantasy.

© 2011 Dellani Oakes

Tim Greaton – Maine’s Other Author


Tim Greaton’s name says it all. His work is great! I first read his lovely holiday book, “The Santa Shop” in the heat of summer and fell in love with his writing. The next book I read was “Zachary Pill – The Dragon at Station End”. His work never ceases to impress me.

When did you start writing?

Because my childhood home could best be described as a domestic war zone, I escaped into books and the nearby library from almost the time I could walk. I wrote my first stories when I was in first grade.  I thought I had written my first novel (probably a handful of handwritten pages) at the age of seven. Though I don’t remember specifics, it seems to me it was something about astronauts. Anyway, I remember my mother gushing over how great it was and what a talented writer I had become. That I still remember her comments suggests that could have been the moment that cemented my writing career.

My first professional stories and nonfiction articles were written for national magazines and commercial advertising publications in my mid-twenties. Almost twenty-five years later, I’m somehow still publishing…and loving it even more as each year passes.

What gave you the idea for your first book?

I’m going to assume you’re not referring to that that first seven-year-old astronaut tale. My very first actual book, written sometime in my early-twenties, was called the “Isle of Achievement.” A fantasy novel for young adults, that book attempted to explain how kids could come up through painful childhoods but still be okay. That manuscript did not survive the theft of a computer system from a cottage I owned back then, which is probably just as well since I’m sure it was probably a little too preachy for most children and young teens.

What genre do you write in now?

That question always requires a little background explanation. I don’t have a set genre. My current publications range all the way from Christmas novels, to novels about the afterlife, to young adult fantasy books to science-fiction stories. I suppose my reason for roving across so many genres has to do largely with the limited number of shelves in my hometown library. When things were difficult at home, which was most of the time, I used to grab armloads of library books and crawl into stories that allowed me to mentally escape the constant screaming and unhappiness. Though I couldn’t possibly count the number of books I read between the ages of five and fifteen, I’m certain it was well into the thousands. By fourth grade, I was reading an adult novel a day. At that pace, it didn’t take long to read nearly every book in my library…some of them several times. Today, I write in many of the same genres I read those many years ago.

What do you do to keep yourself focused?

I’m very fortunate when it comes to writing. Because reading was a very real and literal escape for me as a child, I’m still able to completely lose myself when both reading and writing books. For me, a book is often more real than a movie. When I step into a novel in progress, I’m really there: living, seeing, feeling the lives of my characters. I’ve been known to start writing at eight in the morning and not realize the entire day has passed come four or five that evening. So to answer your question, I always have a backlog of projects, and my method of focus is simply to open up the most important to-do item on my computer screen. Chances are, half or more of my day has passed before I stop to look at my list again.

Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects?

Because writing is a multi-staged process, I always have six to ten different projects going on at any given time. Currently, I’m working on the first draft of a series novel. But I’ll pause that project as soon as final edits for two other completed books are resubmitted to me for review. In the meantime, I have several short story projects and novel outlines that are also being worked on as feedback and my schedule allow.

What is your writing process?

Because my schedule is so full these days, I tend to always do outlines first because it saves the need for more than four rewrites. After the outline, I usually write four drafts of each novel, followed by two or three edit reviews (editor, me, editor, me). I’m very fortunate to be able to write full-time, so unless I’m touring my days are spent at my home office amid seven acres in Maine. When I need a break , I go out on my 60-feet covered porch and feed the ducks that are always in my brook and pond just a few feet off the stairs. I probably average about twelve to fourteen hours of writing and phone calls each day. Though that might seem like a lot, it really isn’t because I’m doing something I love.

How did you find your voice?

I wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized I did have a written voice or style. In broad strokes, I’d say I have a tendency to move stories along quickly by not getting involved in long descriptions of the setting or tedious explanations about the past. Instead, I let stories and their characters unfold organically. Both my readers and I learn about the characters as they think and speak in reaction to what is usually an urgent time in their lives. I also tend to write from close points of view; in other words, my readers seldom know more than my characters at any given point in time. I also tend to stick with ten cent words rather than a fifty cent ones whenever possible. Though, like most serious readers, I have a fairly substantial vocabulary, I’d rather not force my readers into holding a dictionary while trying to enjoy a story.

A last note about voice that might be of help to other writers moving along their own paths is that voice can only come to a writer who has done A LOT of writing. I recently saw a documentary about musicians and athletes. It turns out that these professionals usually started young and practiced for at least ten thousand hours before becoming truly great at their chosen career paths. I’m certain I passed the ten thousand-hour mark many years ago. I guess the message is that if you want to be truly great, you need to put in a lot of time getting there.

Do you ever change your endings after you have plotted them out in your outlines?

Sometimes but not so much as I used to. As time goes on, I find I’m better at building outlines. What does tend to change, however, are the small details that really add life to a story. I might originally imagine my heroine to be a nurse, but she might later become a mechanic because it fits her personality or the circumstances of the story better. Of course, tiny details like eye color, hair color and which makes or models of cars throughout the story always change—lots of times because I forgot what they were from one part of the story to another. My editors always catch those things, however, so I promise not to drive readers crazy.

What is your latest release?

My latest is the science-fiction short story “The Pheesching Sector.” It’s a fun space romp, which has been generating quite a few interesting emails and positive comments.

My latest novel release is “Under-Heaven.” At the core of this emotional book is Nate, a little boy who was murdered in the 1940s but wakes up in a place called Under-Heaven. Told partly in that Purgatory-like place and partly back here on modern-day Earth, the story delves into the loyalty and emotions that are the very meaning of family. The reviews have all been very positive so far. I actually received an email from one man who was completely embarrassed because he couldn’t stop crying while reading the ending on a plane. The truth is, I cried when writing that ending.

What other books do you have published?

“The Santa Shop” is a story that one reviewer called, “Christmas through the eyes of suicide.” It’s an emotional story about a man whose wife and little boy died in a fire in Albany, NY. Rest assured, I don’t write unhappy endings but most readers will likely shed a tear or two for this man who has a difficult journey to travel.

“Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End” is what people in the book industry refer to as an epic fantasy novel. Intended for young adults and adults, it’s about a boy who discovers his father is not human. Unfortunately, it isn’t until his father disappears that he finds this out. So he’s left to battle deadly creatures and evil villains without any help or knowledge of how to use the magical items his father left behind. Unfortunately, he’s forced to fight these battles while staying with Madame Kloochie, a family friend who lives in an absolute pigsty in New Hampshire.

“Bones in the Tree” is a novella about a woman who recently went through a divorce and now has one catastrophic dating experience after another when she returns to her home state of Maine. Unfortunately, she also has a bad relationship with a squirrel at the same time.

“Ancestor” books 1 and 2 are adult-themed horror novels about an evil entity from Colonial times who is trying to take over his descendant’s body. Those ARCs (uncorrected Advanced Reading Copies) are currently only available in e-book format.

Where are your books available?

My e-books are available in virtually all online bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple store, and Smashwords. Below are a few quick links:

My physical books can be purchased at many of the same online bookstores and at most local bookstores. If a particular title isn’t in stock, readers can just ask the cashier to order it.

 “The Santa Shop” – An Unexpected Breath of Fresh Air

 Skip is homeless. He’s been living on the street long enough to know his way around. After the accidental death of his wife and son, for which he holds himself responsible, he loses his job, his home and his self-esteem. Desperately contemplating suicide, he meets Father Johnston and his life begins to change.

We walk through Skip’s day, learning about his life. Neither asking for sympathy, nor denying his fall from grace, Skip reminds us we’re all worthy of a little respect. Although he’s fallen about as low as he can go, he maintains what small dignity he has, refusing a handout, especially when it’s accompanied by a lecture.

Although set at Christmastime, “The Santa Shop” is a book that readers can enjoy at any time of the year. It’s appropriate for young teens to adult readers. I read part of it aloud to my teenage son and he’s decided to read the book—clear evidence that “The Santa Shop” bridges generations.

Greaton treats the character of Skip with unusual insight and tenderness. He lovingly portrays the other characters as well, showing the compassion they have for their fellow man.

I greatly enjoyed “The Santa Shop” and look forward to reading more books by Tim Greaton in the future.

 Zachary Pill – The Dragon at Station End

 Zachary Pill is nobody’s hero. Smaller than average, skinny, smart—he’s a bully magnet. His father, Roger, is a quiet, unprepossessing man who hates conflict. Even when Zachary is picked on at school, he doesn’t do much about it.

All that changes the day that Zachary decides to fight back. When he sees another boy being bullied by the same bunch who pick on him, he confronts them and ends up with a broken arm. After his arm is set, Zachary is taken to Station End, far off the beaten track, to stay with a weird and slovenly woman named Madame Kloochie. That’s when the fun really starts!

“Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End” is a wonderful fantasy tale set in modern times. Full of trolls, werewolves, dragons, pixies and a bunch of creatures he has no name for, Zachary discovers that nothing he held as true—is. His father isn’t a coward and life as he knows it has pretty much been a lie to protect him from a villainous creature named Krage.

With the help of his friends, Bret and Robin, Zachary takes on the creatures sent against them, beating the bad guy at his own game.

This wonderful, lighthearted fantasy novel is great for middle grades on up. The wild adventures that Zachary shares with his friends are sure to capture the imagination of children and adults.

Easily as engaging as the “Harry Potter” series, “Zachary Pill” is a delight. The characters are well crafted, coming alive on the page. I enjoyed the feeling that this reality exists just beyond our ken, an undercurrent to society that “normal” people have inkling of.

“Zachary Pill, the Dragon at Station End” is a delight and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a great story and a fantasy adventure.

Taking a Ride with Robert C. Roman


Robert C. Roman writes sci-fi. No, he writes steam punk. No, it’s romance, wait! Horror? No, I’m sure it’s adventure, suspense and fantasy. Actually, he writes all of the above. Robert C. Roman is a multi-talented author who enjoys a wide variety of genres. He’s equally gifted in each.

I was lucky enough to have Robert on my show in July of this year. (Link below) We had a wonderful time talking about his work. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to read and review his story, Fae Eye for the Golem Guy and I’ve started reading What Not to Fear. (To be reviewed later)

When did you start writing?

Oddly enough, I started writing before I could write. I made a book out of string and paper, the text was nothing but squiggles, but I knew what the story was. By grade school I was doing fanfic, in college I was writing backgrounds for characters in RPGs (extensive, novella length backgrounds even), and about five years ago I started writing for publication.

What inspired your first novel?

My first full length novel (still unpublished) was a combination of a dream about successions, a conversation about how any story can be shifted from sci fi to fantasy or back, and the old Conan comic books. From all of that came the story of Tenly, the heroine of XLI. Don’t read too much into those sources, though – at one point I put Lady Gaga and LaRoux songs in and got a SteamPunk adventure / horror story out.

What genre do you write?

Sci Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Action, Adventure, Romance, Suspense. In that order, usually all at the same time, much to the despair of anyone trying to market my books.

Do you work on more than one project at a time?

I usually only write one project at a time, but I’m usually juggling three or four in the pre-writing or editing stages.

How do you keep yourself focused?

Focused? What is this ‘focused’ you speak of? (he says, as he is eating breakfast, doing the laundry, doing dishes, listening to Dev club mixes, cooking a turkey, answering questions and plotting for NaNo and beyond.)

What is your writing process?

Hmm. I find a Hook, fiddle with characters and setting and conflict, sort out the climax of the story, plot back from there to the beginning, then start writing. As I write, I firm up the details of the characters, and sometimes the conflict. It seems chaotic, but I’ve only had to do a complete rewrite once, and that was when I was getting a lot of ‘it will never work’ from folks who knew the Hook. It’s… weird. Once I embraced that weirdness, I not only had a complete story that flowed from beginning to end, but had a much better idea of the sequels. Also, it wound up with lines like ‘My boyfriend is a werestripper’.

How do you find your voice?

I usually don’t think about it, unless I’m writing multiple protagonists, in which case I have to be sure each one has a unique enough voice to be readily recognizable. Then I just tweak my normal writing style.  Usually it works.  Sometimes (dammit, Lane!) it’s a bit tougher.

Do you know the ending before you begin writing?

Yes.  Oh, god, yes.  How can you know when to stop if you don’t know where you’re going?

What is your latest release?

My latest release is What Not to Fear.  It’s available from Decadent Publishing and on Amazon.  It’s the story of an hard bitten cop who just happens to be an avenging angel and the CSI who falls for her.

Where can your books be purchased?

all of my books are available through Decadent Publishing.  You can find them at the publisher’s site, at Amazon, or, well, just about anywhere you might find ebooks.

What other books have you written?

My other books include the Iron Angel series (“The Strange Fate of Capricious Jones – OR – Genesis of an Iron Angel” and “A Christmas Evening Vigil – OR – Crystal Without a Chime”), the Artifice Series (“Fae Eye for the Golem Guy” and “What Not to Fear”) and the stand alone short “Road Mage”.

 Fae Eye for the Golem Guy – Robert C. Roman

Micah Slate may look like your average guy, at least your average sculpted, jacked and chiseled guy. Taller than most, more muscular than many, he’s still… average – at least in his eyes. Micah is head of security for an art museum. His mission was embedded at his creation — “Protect the Art” Oh, yeah. Micah is a golem – a creature crafted from stone and imbued with life.

Teresa Gelt is an art owner with a nasty tempter and worse manners. She has the hots for Micah, who wishes she’d shrivel up and die. Getting into his pants is part of her agenda.

Ophelia is a tattoo artist and an art restoration expert. Covered with intricate inked designs, silver studs and little else, she’s caught Micah’s discerning eye. Her dyed hair and Sears & Roebuck clothing hide a dark secret.

Ricardo and Xavier are gay pixies – lovers. They are also friends of Micah’s and live at the museum. When they discover Micah’s desire for Ophelia, they give him a Fae Eye makeover changing him from ordinary to extraordinary.

And thereby lies the tale. “Fae Eye on the Golem Guy is a funny, quirky adventure full of action, romance and dark magic. Robert C. Roman weaves a charming comedic yarn in a world almost, yet not quite entirely, unlike our own. I highly recommend it for any reader.

The Amazing Michael Tabman


Michael Tabman is a multifaceted man. Not only has he worked as a police officer and FBI agent, he’s an author and lecturer. I first met Michael on Fran Lewis’ talk show on Blog Talk Radio. I was delighted when he asked me to review his novel, “Midnight Sin”. He also asked if I’d like to read his non-fiction book, “Walking the Corporate Beat”. I look forward to reading his newest addition to his literary lineup, “Bad Intent” – which I just bought for .99 cents for my Nook! Also available at in Kindle format.

When did you start writing?

Immediately after retiring from the FBI five years ago.

What gave you the idea for your first book?

My first book, Walking the Corporate Beat: Police School for Business People is a non-fiction, lessons learned based on my 27 years experience as a cop and FBI Agent.  After retiring, and reflecting on all the situations and characters I encountered, mostly humorous, I realized there were probably some great life and business lessons to be learned.

 What genre do you write?

My next books, Midnight Sin and Bad Intent are crime novels.

What do you do to keep yourself focused?

I just let the story flow straight from my mind to the computer.  I always have the television on for background noise.

Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects?

I generally work one project at a time.

 What is your writing process?

I just sit down and write; no particular process.

 How do you find your voice?

My stories are inspired by my days as a cop and FBI Agent.  I stay true to that voice.

 Do you know your ending before you begin?

I have a general idea, but it does change as the story unfolds.

 What is your latest release? 

Bad Intent, released in installments of one short story at a time, was inspired by my years on an FBI-NYPD Drug/Organized Crime Task Force.

What other books do you have published?

My crime novel Midnight Sin, inspired by a real case I worked as a plain clothes cop, was endorsed by Law and Order Producer Peter Giuliano.

Where are your books available?

My books, and everything about me can be found at

Walking the Corporate Beat – Michael Tabman

 Two things happened that I never expected when I read “Walking the Corporate Beat”. First, I really enjoyed a non-fiction book on business. Second, I learned something.

In “Walking the Corporate Beat”, Michael Tabman takes principles he learned as a police officer and FBI agent and applies them to running a company. It amazed me that the same rules and procedures police and investigative officers use can help a business run more smoothly.

“Walking the Corporate Beat” is highly readable. By using situations he encountered as a police officer or FBI agent, Tabman illustrates the points he’s making for businessmen. This is what makes it so interesting and easy to read. It’s more like a story and less like a dry lecture.

Not only does Tabman clearly express his points as they apply to business, we see something of the man behind the principles. Michael Tabman doesn’t use a lot of fancy language to get his point across. I was never lost, wondering where he was going. I loved that! I wish the textbooks I had to read in school were written more along this line. I would have learned and retained so much more.

In each chapter, Tabman relates anecdotes from his police and FBI careers, applying the techniques used for organizing, disseminating information and reacting to a situation, to business. After reading “Walking the Corporate Beat”, I know what a measured response is and how to implement one. I know to keep it simple (KISS) and the importance of having clear lines of communication between those in charge and their subordinates – as well as between all the leaders.

In the next to last chapter, Tabman creates a company, an executive, Joe Bridges, and a situation that Bridges must confront and deal with. Through this, he brings to life everything he’s discussed in the prior chapters. I won’t tell you whether or not Joe is 100% successful, but Tabman is. His example serves to clarify his points well. In the final chapter, her summarizes briefly everything he’s discussed.

Busy executives could take this book and use it to improve the way their companies operate. These same ideals could be applied to large or small organizations. This book could also be useful to those in government offices and schools.

 I highly recommend “Walking the Corporate Beat” by Michael Tabman. It is well thought out, clearly written and so interesting I found it hard to put down.

Midnight Sin by Michael Tabman

“Midnight Sin” by Michael Tabman is a realistic look at the world of police work. Told from the perspective of young officer, Gary Hollings, “Midnight Sin” reveals the investigation of a major crime spree—a serial rapist.

When we first meet Gary, he’s a rookie working with his training officer, Thompson. To Gary’s eyes, Thompson appears to be a self-possessed, experienced officer. Hollings begins to see his flaws, realizing that Thompson is also an arrogant jerk who enjoys belittling other offers. He particularly likes to bully officer Jim Burkett.

Burkett makes an easy target. Older, heavy and slow, he’s unmarried and lives with his mother. Though he claims to have an active social life, Hollings suspects he’s actually quite lonely.

Things turn dangerous when Hollings and Thompson join Burkett on a call of suspicious activity at a convenience store. They discover that they’ve walked into an armed robbery in progress. Thompson and Hollings are shot, but not seriously wounded.

During his hospital stay, Gary Hollings meets Janie, whom he eventually dates. Janie has a great distrust of cops, having dated a few. Gary has a tough time trying to allay her fears. Unfortunately, he manages to reinforce as many as he alleviates. Theirs is a bumpy relationship, made more difficult when he gets assigned to the serial rapist task force.

Gary Hollings is young, enthusiastic and somewhat naïve. Even after being on the force a couple years, he doesn’t entirely lose his naivete. He’s kind and compassionate, illustrated by his interactions with the rape victims and his fellow officers.

Sargent Hughes, the head of the Third Precinct, is a quiet man. He keeps to himself, rarely going on patrol with his men. The officers joke that he’s more interested in correcting the grammar in their reports than he is doing any actual police work. Because of his laissez-faire leadership, things on the night shift aren’t all they should be.

As time passes, Gary gains some experience as an officer. Feeling more confident, he tries hard to learn from his mistakes both professionally and personally. He is eventually tapped for the special task force formed to track and apprehend the serial rapist. He and the other members follow leads and close in on the rapist, with a surprising twist at the end.

“Midnight Sin” keeps the reader enthralled, leading toward a conclusion that keeps us guessing. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy crime dramas with an in depth look at the lives of the people behind the investigations. It is as much a character study as it is a mystery.

© Dellani Oakes 2011

Be watching later this year for a review of Tabman’s newest book, “Bad Intent”

Have You Met Fran Lewis?


I’m thrilled to introduce my dear friend, Fran Lewis. Fran is an incredible woman who never ceases to amaze me with all that she does. She’s an author, reviewer, radio show host and all around wonderful person. I’m proud to call her my friend.

Dellani Oakes: When did you start writing?

Fran Lewis: I started writing when I was about 4. I do not remember a time when I was not writing stories, poems or passing notes to my sister under the blanket at night. My mom would say lights out but never knew we had flashlights under our blankets and note pads so that we could send each other messages whenever we wanted. Writing short stories, poems for cards and longer stories was always something that I loved doing. Writing my first children’s book was my Aunt Tova’s idea. She made me promise her before she passed away that I would do something with my writing skills other than write lesson plans and help some of the teachers in my schools with their observation lessons. She encouraged me to write short stories, articles and post them on which I did and then my first book. Little did I ever know that I would be writing book reviews, online interviews, blogs, endorsements, intros to books and much more.

DO: What gave you the idea for your first book?

FL: My nephew Jake was laughing at the way I was sitting in a restaurant. I was pouting because I had just started my diet. My sister looked at me and said that I reminded her of my grandma Bertha who sat the same way. I told her she reminded me of my spoiled Aunt Tillie. My nephew Jake cracked up and just started to chant: You are Bertha and she is Tillie and that would be great as the characters in a book. Thinking about some of the wild things my sister and I did as kids I decided to write my first book which were 6 short stories. Each story is another real life and true adventure that my sister and I had growing up.

DO: What genre do you write?:

FL: Children’s books, non-fiction/self-help and hopefully a murder/mystery

DO: What do you do to keep yourself focused?

FL: My sense of responsibility to the promises that I make to myself and others. When I promise an author to complete a review I tend to make sure it is done way before they expect it. My mom would always make sure that homework was done the very minute we walked through the door even on Fridays. I enjoy reviewing books, and working with authors and I think since I have had so much sadness in my life working and helping others keeps me focused and centered and allows me to put the sadness aside.

DO: What inspires you?

FL: It is not what but who that inspires me. My sister was my biggest fan and she kept me motivated, on task and was always there to present and give her constructive criticism to my stories, reviews and more. I really miss her. She really thought that what I am doing was great and enjoyed being part of it especially at signings, readings and other events.

DO: Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects?

FL: I can focus on at least three or four projects at once.

DO: What is your writing process?

FL: I never really think about a process I just write. What comes to mind and what I feel like writing about is what comes out on my computer. One day it could be a review the next a short story. I tend to write down all of the my projects on a notepad and prioritize them and go from there.

DO: What is the theme of your novel?

FL: If and when I decide to write one it will be a murder based on a true story.

DO: What is your latest release?

FL: Because We Care, a book for caregivers. (Review below)

DO: What other books do you have published?

FL: My Name is Bertha
Bertha Speaks Out
Bertha Fights Back
Memories are Precious
Sharp As A Tack or Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain?

DO:  Where are your books available?

FL: Amazon:

Barnes & Noble

Because We Care – Fran Lewis

 “Because We Care” is an innovative and easy guide for caregivers, volunteers and families of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury or a family member in need of outside assistance. Divided in three parts, “Because We Care” is easy to read and full of straightforward, no nonsense information.

Part One is a comprehensive, simple to understand guide for dealing with an Alzheimer’s patient. Fran lists warning signs so an individual, or their loved ones, can decide when there is a problem and seek medical advice.

Daily experiences with her mother’s deteriorating condition from Alzheimer’s, gave Fran a realistic viewpoint. She learned first hand how best to deal with her mother’s disease. These pointers are listed and easy to comprehend. Fran doesn’t sugarcoat or talk around an issue but confronts it head on.

“Because We Care” is full of helpful hints on how to deal with an Alzheimer’s patient, questions to ask doctors, as well as tips and reminders to care givers to take time out for themselves.

Part Two of “Because We Care” deals with Traumatic Brain Injury. The reader learns to recognize symptoms and signs that you should seek medical attention. It also lists simple preventative measures to keep from getting a traumatic brain injury.

Part Three concentrates on protecting the elderly. Elder abuse is a growing concern in our world. Fran Lewis targets the problem and lists helpful tips to identify abuse or neglect—as well as resources to report it.

“Because We Care” is uncomplicated to read and understand. It’s written in plain language, not in complex medical jargon. This is a must have book for anyone dealing with an Alzheimer’s patient, particularly one in a care facility.

Fran’s first hand experiences lend a great sensitivity to her words. Though she confronts the tough issues, she never loses focus on the people.

The proceeds from “Because We Care” are being donated to patient care and research for a cure to Alzheimer’s Syndrome.

ISBN 9781456891305

© Dellani Oakes 2011

Meet the Authors of Second Wind! Introducing Claire Collins


Over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing the authors of Second Wind Publishing. We have some incredibly talented people and I’m proud to be part of the SW family!

First up, my dear friend and colleague, Tracy Beltran, writing under the name Claire Collins. Tracy is not only an incredible author, she’s co-publisher at Second Wind. Her drive and passion keep things moving forward. She is the heartbeat of Second Wind.

Claire/ Tracy’s books were the first two I reviewed. I fell in love with her style and ability to weave an incredibly intricate plot. If you love mystery with a hint of romance, her books are just the thing!

Dellani Oakes: When did you start writing?

Claire Collins: I started writing as soon as I could read. My mother always read to me when I was little and I memorized the books. I had such an active imagination that I would bring everything around me to life.

DO: What gave you the idea for your first book?

CC: I think someone dared me to write a whole novel. I had always written short stories, but a novel was a new challenge I couldn’t back down from.

DO: What genre do you write?

CC: My published works are both Romantic Suspense but I write across a lot of genres. I’d like to do more horror, but I’m not sure I want to try to compete against the masters. 

DO: What do you do to keep yourself focused?

CC: I focus in spurts. I haven’t been focused in awhile now. I write when the urge comes. A lot of real life interferes with my writing. 

DO: Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects?

CC: I try to stay on one project, but if I hit a wall and something else is moving along, I move along with it.

DO: What is your writing process?

CC: Process? What process? There’s a process to this madness? 

DO: How do you find your voice?

CC: The voices find me and I write what they tell me to.

DO: Do you know your ending before you begin?

CC: Usually somewhere around the middle. When the story starts, it’s always something that is just forcing its way out of me. About halfway through, I figure out where we’re going.

DO: What is your latest release?

CC: Images of Betrayal was released in 2009. Seeds of September should be out in 2012.

DO: What other books do you have published?

CC: My first novel, Fate and Destiny was published in 2008 after a decade of working on it. 

DO: Where are your books available?

CC: Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble for the Nook,, Barnhill’s bookstore in Winston-Salem

Images of Betrayal – Claire Collins initially seems like a romance novel. Tysan meets Walker, a handsome photographer, who shows her an alarming secret. His pictures show the future! Dubious, until events start coming true, Ty clings to Walker for help and support. But can those pictures hold something else more sinister?

This book is amazing. The plot has more twists and turns than a corkscrew. I thought I had it figured out, but every time I thought I knew the outcome, Collins gave me another twist. Fast paced an exciting, this story seems like it’s going one direction. In an unexpected twist, the story goes 360, then about another 180 degrees, spinning nearly out of control. An amazing thrill ride from start to finish.

Fate and Destiny – Like Collins’ other book, “Images of Betrayal”, “Fate and Destiny” blends a little romance with a whole lot of crime! Someone dropped Destiny out of a truck and into the snow. If Andrew hadn’t found her, she would have frozen to death. Who dumped her and why? Was it Fate that brought them together? If so, what else does Fate have in mind?

A wonderfully well crafted book that’s a delight to read. It charms and thrills from start to finish. An excellent choice for anyone who likes love and crime mixed together.