Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: The Supernatural Enhancements, by Edgar Cantero

Edgar Cantero's thriller "The Supernatural Enhancements" is the latest entry in the centuries-old narrative device that is the epistolary novel. The device, where a story is told via a montage of variably trustworthy letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, etc., been used by many authors to better effect. (Stoker's "Dracula," Shelley's "Frankenstein," and Collins' "The Moonstone" are a just a few classics that leap immediately to mind.) Cantero's effort to tread in those well-worn footprints is not an abject failure, but readers are justified wondering why the author elected to tell the story this way. The plot and setting, and the characters that populate them, are all sufficiently intriguing to hold interest on their own merits without resort to gratuitous epistolary gymnastics. Cantero's choice of narrative technique detracts, often materially, from what could otherwise be a solidly gripping paranormal mystery.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: The Slype, by Russell Thorndike

Russell Thorndike's 1927 novel teems with murder, blackmail, serial kidnappings of man and beast, a secret book pointing the way to a long-lost treasure, an ancient cathedral rifled with hidden tunnels and clandestine doors, all tied to a haunted passageway called the Slype (which gives this book its title). Toiling with and against each other in this droll mayhem set in the English riverside town of Dullchester are a cast of variously eccentric characters who can't help calling to mind the singular personalities in some of Charles Dickens' classic fiction, a literary canon that clearly inspired and informed Thorndike's writing. Thorndike revels in taking his time to spin his engaging tale through a labyrinth of puzzles, not unlike a pleasant stroll in what is nowadays known as a "cozy mystery." Kudos to Valancourt Books for publishing this high-quality reprint of a novel sure to please fans of Dickens and Agatha Christie alike.

Book Review: The Rule of Nobody, by Philip K. Howard

"This town needs an enema." So said Jack Nicholson's "Joker" about the dysfunctionality of Gotham City in Tim Burton's 1989 movie, "Batman." In "The Rule of Nobody," author Philip K. Howard embraces Joker's sentiments exactly, save that Howard's disgust is aimed squarely at Washington D.C. Regardless of one's political stripe, the list of what's badly broken in national politics far exceeds the tally of what's working well. In this book, Howard illustrates the vast and litigious space separating common sense from bureaucratic inertia in modern America. Surely many ailments explain the malady, and just as surely one of the more prominent among them is bureaucratic malaise brought about by countless aged and conflicting rules and regulations as immortal as they are useless, if not downright dangerous. Thus the enema -- Howard's prescription to set things right in part is to vigorously seek and eliminate outdated federal bureaucratic regulations and regulators whose evolution has rendered them poisonous to the health of our national body politic. Howard's diagnosis, prognosis and suggested course of treatment all ring true. There's no politician alive who wouldn't benefit himself and his constituents by reading this book. You should read it, too.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Author Spotlight: Christopher J. Yates

Today’s guest at the Gazalapalooza Author Spotlight is Christopher J. Yates, a writer who the New York Post recently declared might very well be "…a new Stephen King, albeit with a British accent." That’s an impressive accolade for any storyteller.

Yates’ debut novel is a highly acclaimed thriller titled, Black Chalk. It’s an intricate, pleasingly complex, and deeply engaging tale about a twisted version of the classic "Truth or Dare" game waged among a close-knit group of college friends that goes darkly awry across years and continents. It’s no spoiler to reveal here that not everyone who starts playing this game survives to witness aghast its startling end.

Yates is remarkably well-suited to craft such a truly ingenious book. He’s not only versed in the labyrinthine twists and turns of the law via the degree he earned in his native Britain, but he followed up his schooling with a successful career in puzzle magazines before embarking on the literary journey that ultimately birthed Black Chalk.

One might assume an established puzzle-master like our esteemed Mr. Yates would fare exceedingly well under the renown rigors of the Author Spotlight. But there’s only one way to find out if that’s the truth. So let’s tie him tightly to our sturdy wooden chair, crank up those unforgiving klieg lights, and dare Yates to emerge unscathed at this interview’s conclusion.

Gazala:    In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and tell why you choose them.

Yates:    For my religious text can I please take the Book of Mormon. I'm an atheist who was brought up Church of England (I was in the choir, no less), so I've heard a lot of Bible and I'd like something to read for pure entertainment value.

For my non-fiction book, I'm going to be very unoriginal, but honest, and plump for a dictionary. But no ordinary dictionary, The Chambers Dictionary, a British dictionary (I'm from England and moved to the States seven years ago). I have a much-loved copy, an 18th birthday present from my mother, that is now falling apart. It's quite an eccentric dictionary both in its word choices and definitions. For example, "Kazoo — a would-be musical instrument," and, "Mullet — a hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round."

And for fiction, I'd like Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, an extraordinary puzzle of a book that was one of the strongest inspirations for my own novel, Black Chalk. Pale Fire is a thoroughly entertaining novel that reads like the equivalent of a chess problem or Chinese puzzle box. The whole story teases the reader with questions of the narrator's identity and intent. I think it might take me a decade to even begin to glimpse some of its delicious secrets, so it's a book that would certainly keep me occupied.

Gazala:    Your new book is an excellent and gripping psychological thriller titled Black Chalk, set in New York and at Oxford University, in which a group of six students play an elaborate game of dares and consequences with tragic results. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about Black Chalk, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.

Yates:    Firstly, thank you so much for the praise and recommendation. I feel strongly that you are a man of exquisite taste and utterly impeccable judgement and your followers should listen to everything you say. However, if they're foolish enough to need more information, then I would first tell a potential reader the tagline for Black Chalk — "One Game. Six Students. Five Survivors." Then I would reveal that I used to work full time as a puzzle editor and then a puzzle compiler and that The Times of London described my book as "an inventive and intricate psychological puzzle thriller". And to conclude I would seal the deal with the words "Oh go on, pleeeease. It's really good. Honest."

Gazala:    What are books for?

Yates:    Books are for many things — forming colorful browse-worthy rows; painting beautiful word pictures; high-speed thrill rides through fascinating plots; pressing flowers; education (even fiction can be educational, but in a subtle and alluring and sometimes even dangerous way); hiding treasure (metaphorically — and literally if you cut hiding spots into the pages); empathy training; attracting the opposite sex (ask my wife how I wooed her — the answer beyond "nervously and badly," is, "with books"); and finally, for balancing on one's head to learn proper deportment. This is a complete list.

Gazala:    W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why?

Yates:    Anyone who's ever read an article in which various writers present their rules cannot fail to agree with Maugham. But I don't think most writers consider themselves in sole possession of a set of hard-and-fast rules that form The Grand Secret To Writing. But I think the media have to package things to make them grab the reader's attention. And who's going to read an article entitled "Ten Writers Share With Us Their Personal Guidelines, Which They Don't Think Are Universally Applicable, But The Reader Might Find Useful Notwithstanding the Fact That Writers Sometimes Ignore Their Own So-Called Rules"?

Gazala:   An old college friend just dared me to do something I'm going to do despite my better judgment. This may take a while. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.

Yates:    Don't go through with the dare, Richard, I implore you — you've read Black Chalk and you know things are going to go very badly indeed. But while you struggle with your dilemma, I will ask the following question of myself: The main narrator in Black Chalk is a hermit living in New York; on your Twitter profile, you describe yourself as a part-time hermit living in New York; are you obsessed with hermits?

Good question, Christopher. The truth is, I have something of a hermit fantasy. What I really want most in my writing life is an isolated log cabin in which to work. However, my wife is a journalist in New York and isolated log cabins are fairly hard to come by in Manhattan. (I've heard there's even a shortage of them in Brooklyn, which is a huge concern for the greater-bearded urban woodsmen population.) In fact, I recently came across my personal Dream Writer's Log Cabin, here, which is sneakily classed as an RV, so you can just plonk it down on any piece of land you own without zoning issues. I have thought about very little else in life ever since I saw this. But until I can find a surreptitious way to get my wife fired from her job, I have to create my own isolated log cabin. For example, every morning I lock my phone and the Internet in a safe with a timer (OK, admittedly not the WHOLE Internet, my wireless router). Hey presto — isolation. Also, I work next to a school yard. There you go — wildlife. Plus, my building has a gym in the basement that is almost always entirely empty — and so down I go to 'hike' and 'chop wood'. Is any of this fooling anyone apart from myself? And on that note, I think it's time for me to leave you. I have to go and build an imaginary fire from a virtual log pile.

An imaginary fire built from non-dimensional logs by a pseudo-hermit who resides in Manhattan? Puzzling, indeed, putting aside for the moment the power to distance one's self quite vibrantly from banal workaday realities as circumstances warrant. You can dare yourself a peek inside Black Chalk by clicking here. Better yet, you can forgo the toe-dipping and take the mighty Black Chalk plunge at by gathering a slow, deep breath, and clicking here. After all, who among you doesn’t relish a formidable puzzle?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Author Spotlight: David Burnsworth

The literary genre that David Burnsworth, our guest today at the Author Spotlight, writes with aplomb sufficient to earn enthusiastic praise from peers and fans alike goes by the name "Southern Noir." But what is this "Southern Noir," exactly? Definitional borders in genre fiction can and should be be slippery things. That said, who doesn't enjoy something slippery every now and again? So we'll defer to the site, a deservedly well-respected authority in the field of, well, crime fiction. They define "Southern Noir" this way:

"The American south is a hot, sticky, vast place with a rich history, spanning all the way from Texas, through to Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and on into North Carolina. Also called the Deep South, this was often used to refer to the seven states that formed the Confederacy, when, in actuality, the term wasn’t coined until long after the Civil War had ended. The Deep South is well known for its reputation for intolerance and staunch social conservatism as well as being a deep pocket of religious fundamentalism. More than a few authors have been able to mine this hotbed of social unrest to create some of the most compelling, violent, and downright fascinating crime fiction in recent history. Some call it Southern Noir, Rural Noir, Country Noir or Southern Gothic and it’s also called, very appropriately, Grit Lit. Whatever you want to call it, crime fans eat it up, and with good reason."

Burnsworth selected South Carolina, and particularly the lowcountry area around Charleston and Sullivan's Island, to torment some twisted Southern souls for his readers' entertainment. Gazalapalooza has been to Charleston, more than once. Unless you've been thereabouts late some summer, you don't know what villainous notions the ruthless humidity of an endless August night in Charleston will percolate in your sweaty skull.

As clearly evidenced by his new thriller, our guest today is intimately familiar with what madness that kind of Southern Heat spawns. Without further ado, we'll fire up the Gazapalooza klieg light army and aim its blaze directly at the appropriately-named Mr. Burnsworth. Let's see how he sweats.

Gazala:    In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and tell why you choose them.

Burnsworth:    Thanks for your leniency, Your Honor. And your discretion. I’d hate for people to find out I like catching snippets of the TV show "House Hunters" my wife watches as I pass by on the way from my home office to the kitchen. The fiction choice is a tough one. My inspiration comes from Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane, and James Lee Burke. But then, how to choose between those three? In the end, I’d try to sneak in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, if I could find them all beneath one cover. Non-fiction is an easier choice for me. Aside from writing, I love cars. Give me something like The Standard Catalog of American Automobiles and I’ll be good for a few years.

Gazala:  Your new book is an excellent and gripping thriller titled Southern Heat, centered around ex-racecar driver and Afghanistan War veteran Brack Pelton, who is both witness to and suspected of the murder of his hippie uncle in Charleston, SC. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about Southern Heat, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.

Burnsworth:    I lived on Sullivan’s Island, just north of Charleston, for five years and it was a life-changing experience. With the Atlantic Ocean and a semi-private beach fifty yards from my front door, to say I was spoiled is an understatement. Southern Heat came out of that experience. When my wife finally talked me into sitting down to write a book, something I’d told her I wanted to do, I had the perfect setting. Because of my love of mysteries, hard-boiled detectives, and noir, I chose to take a stab at something along those lines.

Gazala:    What are books for?

Burnsworth:    Books are windows to other worlds and keepers of information. They can also be pretty darn fun to write—sometimes. Other times, they can be so frustrating you want to blow up your laptop.

Gazala:    W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why?

Burnsworth:    Before I answer, I have to confess that I had to look up who W. Somerset Maugham was.  Interesting fellow. Okay, now for the answer. It’s become cliché, but I’d say the one rule is you have to sit down and write. And then rewrite. And if you’re like me, you rewrite some more (insert exclamation point).

Gazala:    I've got to take this call. Something about a lowcountry real estate deal unwise to reject. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.

Burnsworth:    Q: What’s next for Brack Pelton and his newfound friends?  A: Funny you should ask. I’m working on the second in the series. It took me six years to go from zero to a signed contract with Southern Heat. The next one should take slightly less time.

Southern noir is hot, sticky, and vast, and our guest's name is Burnsworth... Think it through. What better way to fend off the February's chill ill will than with some Southern Heat? See for yourself by clicking here for your own copy, via the folks at The fire will do you good.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Author Spotlight: Justin Gustainis

Sharp fangs red and bared, St. Valentine’s Day again charges toward us sparing neither relent or mercy. In our hoary experience, not much is scarier than that. Accordingly, we who toil at Gazalapalooza can think of no better way to commemorate the imminent Valentine onslaught than by featuring at the Author Spotlight Justin Gustainis, a novelist whose writings deeply steep in the sinister and the macabre.

For the record, Guatainis’ books also are clever and witty. It’s remarkable he writes so engagingly with his tongue so firmly jammed in his cheek. We’d think that has to hurt at least a little.

Gustainis joins us today to share thoughts and insights about authorial crafting generally, and to discuss his just-released novel, Known Devil: An Occult Crimes Unit Investigation. We’ll concede that via his writings he’s sojourned countless midnights round the creepiest block in the ‘hood. We’ll admit too that his robust educational achievements (a Master's degree in English plus a Ph.D. in Communication), and his day job as a professor in Communication Studies at Plattsburgh State University, may permit him to labor under the misapprehension that he’s eminently prepared to withstand the broiling rigors of our infamous Author Spotlight’s klieg light army. But as with all things sublime or ominous, the proof’s in the actual pudding. Without further ado, let’s give the man a hefty spoonful of blinding glare, shall we?

Gazala:    In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and tell why you choose them.

Gustainis:    For fiction, I’d take Tolstoy’s War and Peace – but not for the reasons you might think. I read the abridged version in college, and even that sucker was hefty enough to hurt somebody with, given the inclination. Being stuck on the island with it, I’d have no choice but to read the damn thing – all of it. Not only that, but after the fifth or sixth reading, I’d probably even start to understand it. Once I returned to civilization, my insight into the book would surely make me a hit at academic cocktail parties – if I ever went to any.

The nonfiction choice is easy – I’d take How to Get Off a Desert Island, by I.M. Stranded. And if such a book doesn’t exist, it should.

Gazala:    Your new book is the third in your celebrated "Haunted Scranton" series, marking the hotly-anticipated return of Detective Sgt. Stan Markowski of the Occult Crimes Unit. It's an excellent and wicked paranormal thriller titled Known Devil, centered around a street drug addictive to supernaturals that births a crime wave as the creatures of the night struggle to get drug money. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about Know Devil, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.

Gustainis:    Like the first two books in the series, Known Devil is set in an “alternate” universe where magic (both white and black) and supernatural creatures really exist, and everybody knows it. But even supernaturals have to obey the law. As Stan puts it, “When a vamp puts the bite on an unwilling victim, or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell – that’s when they call me. My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge.”

In Known Devil, Stan and his vampire partner Karl Renfer are dealing with three big problems. As you mentioned, a new street drug called Slide has appeared, and it’s addictive to supernatural creatures. Some get hooked and then, like junkies everywhere, turn to crime to finance their habit. Thus, the book begins with two elves trying to stick up a diner in which Stan and Karl are taking their nightly coffee break. Things don’t work out too well for the elves on that occasion.

Related to that is the second problem. A gang war has broken out in Scranton between the local Mafia family (which is made up of vampires) and a branch of a big Philadelphia family (also consisting of vampires). The locals want to keep Slide out, because it has the potential to addict their own. The new guys see the great economic potential in the drug and are willing to do whatever it takes to turn Scranton into a new market. Stan reluctantly sides with the local “fangsters,” reasoning that the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Or, as he says to Karl at one point: “I know the difference between a mean dog and a mad one.”

And there’s also turmoil among the rest of the city’s supernatural community. Victor Castle, unofficial leader of the various “children of the night” who make Scranton their home, has been blown to bits by a bomb. The perpetrator and motive are unknown, but it seems clear that someone wants to take over as head of the local “supes,” and the strongest contender is a particularly nasty vampire who likes to refer to humans as “bloodbags.”

Then there’s the upcoming city election. It’s not Stan’s business, but he can’t help but notice that a new political entity calling itself the Patriot Party, whom nobody had even heard of a year ago, seems poised to take over the city government. That worries Stan, because the PP takes a very hard line on supes, and if they take over, he may be faced with another war in the streets – this one between supernaturals and humans.

A perfect storm of supernatural strife is descending on Scranton. As usual, Stan and Karl are right in the thick of it.

Gazala:    What are books for?

Gustainis:    You might as well ask me, “What is oxygen for?” or “What is food for?” As far as I’m concerned, the answer to all three questions is the same.

Gazala:    W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why?

Gustainis:    I think it was Andre Norton who observed that writing is a simple, three-step process: “Place butt in chair. Write. Repeat.” I’m not big on rules (although I think Elmore Leonard’s ten rules for writing make a lot of sense), but I’m pretty sure I know what leads to being successful as a writer: talent, persistence, and luck. That was certainly true in my case. And the greatest of these is all of them.

Gazala:    There's what appears to be a scowling elf pounding on my front door, waving a big gun. This may take a while. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.

Gustainis:    Okay, how about this: “Tell people why they should buy a copy of Known Devil.”

Wow – that’s a tough one….

My natural modesty prevents me from going overboard on this, but seriously – in what other work of modern genre fiction can you find:

  • Elves with guns
  • A naked Siren
  • Vampire gang warfare
  • A gnome who sets off car bombs
  • A hamster named Quincey, AND --
  • Twelve distinct uses of the word “haina”
I rest my case.

And so Gustainis emerges from the Spotlight fairly unscathed. We attribute this as much as anything else to the armed elves as to Quincey’s good offices. So grab a haina or two and head to to sink your teeth into a copy of Known Devil. What better St Valentine’s Day gift for your beloved than that?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Author Spotlight 2013's Greatest Hits

Gazalapalooza is all about writers and writing. Our Author Spotlight is a very popular recurring feature. That’s understandable, because not only do we have only the most fascinating, erudite and attractive authors visit the Spotlight, but these same literary luminaries shed bright light on the art, craft and business of writing books that people everywhere love to read. We’re fortunate that lots of very gifted authors generously spent some of their valuable time educating and entertaining our blog’s readers. We’re equally blessed that many thousands of Gazalapalooza readers like you from all over the world dropped by to learn and laugh with the 14 authors who graced our pages in 2013.

2014 is still new, all bright and shiny.  As we bid goodbye to 2013, we decided to say farewell by assembling a "greatest hits" compilation of sorts. (Admittedly, it’s a highly subjective assemblage, but it’s our name on the virtual door so we get to do what we want. That’s one of the benefits of being boss blogger.) Accordingly, we’ve culled from our Author Spotlight interviews some nugget of truth, fiction, wisdom, or inanity from each authorial soul intrepid enough to venture into the Spotlight’s white hot heat in 2013.

Without further ado, please join us as we ring out the old year and welcome in the new with the Gazalapalooza Author Spotlight Redux, 2013 Edition. Enjoy.

Mark Alpert: "Then I try to map out a plot -- for thrillers, the basic structure is usually a chase or a hunt -- but the outline is very rough. I don’t want to predetermine everything because I like to be surprised while I’m writing the book. For me, the whole effort is a leap of faith. While I’m writing the novel I have no idea whether the book will actually come together. I was three-quarters finished with the first draft of Extinction before I figured out how the novel would end."

Ron Felber:  "Just recently, we learned that IRS audits were made on groups unfriendly to the current administration in order to take them out of operation during key moments of the last election. Of course, this harkens back to the Nixon years; but the capabilities of governments domestic and foreign, not to mention the mafia, for example, to wipe out an individual's wealth and/or identity with the stroke of a computer key has never been more genuine than today."

Geoffrey Girard: "I teach high school English and am always reminding the guys that Art is Art: be it a book, song, painting, dance, video game, movie, etc.  Even when it’s “just” entertainment, there’s usually a legit and worthwhile portrayal/ examination of “being human” within that entertainment. And for those books, songs, etc., that strive to dig a little deeper, all the better. Books are simply one way to do that."

Layton Green: "I’ve never had a (fiction) writing class and quite honestly, though I made good grades, I was not a good student. But there are many ways to skin a cat, as they say (though I confess I don’t know why they say that), and I think everyone’s journey to becoming a novelist is different, whether it’s an Iowa MFA, being a lifelong reader before spending 15 years tearing up drafts and studying authors far more talented than myself (my journey), or sitting down and rattling off a great work of literature and then calling it quits, like Harper Lee."

James Grippando: "I want to be accessible to my readers, but there is risk in putting yourself ‘out there.’ The good news is that each time I’ve had a bad experience, I’ve worked it into a book.  My scare with a heckler at a bookstore became a scene in Lying with Strangers. When my identity was stolen (in part because so much info about me is publicly available), I used that experience in Money to Burn. And my most recent book, Blood Money, also grew out of one of these, shall we say, ‘inconveniences.’”

Bruce T. Jones: "What do you mean, Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t nonfiction?"

Raymond Khoury: "Does it come with the royalties? In which case, hello, Harry Potter and ka-ching. If we’re talking in more noble terms: it’s a toss-up between Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Action Comics #1, which introduced Superman to the world. I mean, how cool would it be to say you invented the superhero genre!?"

Mike Maden: "Only a moron would argue with a genius like Maugham…so here it goes."

Marvin H. McIntyre: "I have yet to meet a person who is happy with ‘politics as usual.’  Sprinkled throughout what I hope is an interesting meal for readers and possible indigestion for the squeamish, are perhaps a few tasty tidbits about the sadly novel idea that a politician should think first about the health of our country."

Brad Meltzer: "Stories aren't what did happen; they're what could happen."

David Morrell: "Going to 1854 London is like going to Mars. The era is so weird that the details alone are worth reading the novel.  For example, how much did a middle-or-upper-class woman’s clothes weigh?  Thirty-seven pounds—because the hoop beneath the dress needed to be covered with ten yards of ruffled satin.  No wonder women kept fainting."

Christopher Rice: "You drank a shot of Louisiana swamp water? Did someone hold a gun to your head? Wait. That's not my question. My question is: Why did your interviewer just drink a shot of Louisiana swamp water while he was interviewing you? Answer: Because you're that boring, Christopher."

Glenn Shepard: “All fiction is real life and all real life is fiction.”

Ian Tregillis: "When asked why she never parted with the books she had read, a friend of mine said something very wise. ‘I like having large bookshelves,’ she said, ‘because they show me where my mind has been.’"

Wow. It’s difficult to pick a favorite, isn’t it? Trust us, it’s not nearly so easy as you might assume.

We extend our many and sincere thanks to all of our 2013 Spotlight Authors. Remember to support our authors. Read their Spotlights. Then go read their books. All of them are available all sorts of places, including Amazon.

Last, but immeasurably far from least, we also thank all of you, Gazalaplaooza’s readers, for spending some of your precious time with us last year. We wish all of you and yours a very happy, peaceful and bountiful 2014. Be good to each other. And read more books this year than you did last year. That’s a resolution you’ll not regret.