Meet Geoff Nelder

Geoff-IOM-12Geoff Nelder escaped from his roots in the south of England and now lives in the north. He would do most things for a laugh but had to pay the mortgage so he taught I.T. and Geography in the local High school. After thirty years in the education business, he nearly become good at it. A post-war baby boomer, he has post-grad researched and written about climatic change, ran computer clubs and was editor of a Computer User Group magazine for 11 years. He read voraciously after his mother enrolled him in the children’s science fiction book club when he was four, and has written for fun since his fingers moved independently. His experiences on geographical expeditions have found themselves into amusing pieces in the Times Educational Supplement and taking his family on house-swap holidays years before they became popular added both authenticity and wild imagination to his creativity.

Geoff lives in Chester with his long-suffering wife and has two grown-up children whose sense and high intelligence persist in being a mystery to him.

Today, he’s talking about Xaghra’s Revenge. It was published on July 23, 2017. It’s 360 pages and was published by Solstice Publishing. And he’s lucky enough to have a YouTube trailer for the book:

Note: Most people pronounce Xaghra as zagra. The Maltese would say shaara.


When Reece and Zita become lovers, past and present collide as the spirits of their ancestors force them to relive one of the greatest battles of the 16th century.

Xaghra’s Revenge follows the fate of a sixteenth century abducted family, and of two contemporary lovers thrown together by the ancients. Reece and Zita are unaware that one descends from the pirates, the other from the abducted family. While ancient Gozo spirits seek revenge, so do the Ottoman Corsairs, who intend to roll back history, and this time win the siege of Malta.

The history is real. The places are authentic. The tension and excitement are palpable.

“A gripping tale, full of energy and mystery, keeping you wanting for more with every line you read.” John Bonello, First-Prize Winner of the Malta National Book Award

“I liked it. There’s a foreground of interesting characters combined with a skilfully fed-in hint of weirdness.” Jaine Fenn – Hidden Empire series.

Link to buy Xaghra’s Revenge

Why did you decide to write this book?

The Maltese islands, not far from Italy, is a popular tourist honeypot for Brits and more recently for Japanese and Americans. Everyone speaks English and it sports an ancient history. While on vacation there I visited a nearby tiny island, Gozo. To my horror I discovered that in 1551 pirates abducted its people, threw them onto a fleet of 148 galleys and after sailing them to Libya, sold them as slaves. Some to row, farm, or to be harem women. Those souls cried out for revenge. I gave it to them.

What genre is your book?

It’s a historical fiction with a strong element of fantasy. It’s also horror and some hot sex  – what genre is that- romance?

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

The characters drive the plot. Yep, the plot is crucial here: a revenge for a vile kidnap, rape, destruction of lives act, but the people are larger than life here too. Funny because in April 2018 the hotel in Malta at which I stayed to do the research invited me back to do a signing. A splendidly elegant Maltese lady handed me my euros and asked what historical fiction books I’d read before writing my own. I rattled off a few then added that all of them, like so much historical fiction, focused on the rich, the nobility, royalty and knights. (Fair enough because readers have heard of them and suppose more facts are known blah blah). However, while I reference those powerful players in history, I concentrate on the humble man and woman – ordinary folk to whom extraordinary things happen. “Ah,” she says. “It is good to feature the humble. My partner is a Knight of the Order of Saint John you know.”

I cringed. What if she wants her money back? I needn’t have worried. She works in the Advocate Chambers and often defends the poorer sections of society. In fact she gave me twice the price of the book saying it is worth it. I need a thousand more readers like her!

What makes your book unique?

As above it is the only fiction leading with the peasant victims of the abduction. It also takes point of view from the Turkish pirates—both galley sailor and admirals. It might be the only book featuring one of the oldest buildings in the world. The Ggantija Temples on Gozo in the town of Xaghra are older than the pyramids, older than Stonehenge. Nothing is known of their builders or whether the building is really a temple – common assumption of anything old! I get a buzz when I hug those rocks and they play their own part in the novel.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

The plot summary: abduction; fate of the taken; a contemporary couple thrown together by ancient spirits—one descended from the pirates, one from the abducted; finale with the 1565 Siege of Malta—a cusp in time between the Ottoman and Christian empires. All this came while on the pushme-pullme Gozo to Malta ferry after learning of the 5000 abducted. Nuances emerged later as research unfolded new facts and as the characters took hold.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

It’s great naming characters. It’s like having children without the pain! Stjepan (the 1551 Gozo farmer) is Albanian / Croatian but I found it on a list of genuine Gozo dwellers of the time. Love its unusual sound. His wife was Lydia until a Maltese beta reader told me there is no letter y in Maltese.

Some of the names are of real historical characters of the time. Rais Dragut and Sinan Pasha were real leaders of the Ottoman / Turkish invading forces.

How do you decide on the setting?

I live in chilly, rainy Britain and often have the urge to write of a hot, dry setting. Hence while the story sets itself in historically accurate Mediterranean islands and a hot, arid Libyan desert, my heart encouraged that.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I have a group of writing mentors – one very large composed of the world’s greatest writers of all time and quite crucially, a small group of fellow writers in a critique group. It’s run by the British Science Fiction Association. We send each other our stories – fantasy, hard SF, time travel, historical fiction if it has a alt-history slant, and surreal stories.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I used to have a schedule of getting home from my teaching job, marking and planning lessons in the evenings then write stories afterwards, often around midnight for a couple of hours. When I was told to retire early with a full pension (I was becoming deaf) I could write in the daytime too but I didn’t follow a schedule. I aim for 2,500 words a day but often fall short. I’ll write anywhere given half an hour peace. Have laptop, will travel. However, I really enjoy a writers’ retreat in Methana, Greece and go there for a couple of weeks every year.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to add a thousand dollars to my royalty income. Thanks for asking!

People often ask me from where I get my story ideas. I think I must have inherited a creative gene from my father who helped produce one of the first science fiction magazines in the UK. He’d illustrate them including the cover art. I thought all dad’s did that! To trigger that quirky gene, I’d go for long walks or bicycle rides. Perhaps the enriched oxygenation of my brain helped the ideas to spawn. It did with my ARIA Trilogy when halfway up a steep Welsh hill I suddenly thought how lucky we are that amnesia wasn’t infectious. I stopped. Wrote down that thought and hence was born-as far as I know- the world’s only novel on infectious amnesia.

Where can readers find you?

Webpage and blog:






Meet Michael Thal

Smaller SearsI’m happy today to host Michael Thal. His book Koolura and the Mayans won the Gold at the 2018 eLit Awards in the Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction category. Wow! For more information on this amazing award, see Koolura and the Mayans Wins Gold at the eLit Book Awards.

Michael Thal is the author of five published novels—Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura, Koolura and The Mystery at Camp Saddleback, and Koolura and the Mayans.

Moving from the frigid Northeast to comfy Southern California in 1973, Michael taught elementary and middle school for 28 years until a freak virus left him deafened at the age of 50. He reinvented himself as a writer composing over 80 published articles in print magazines as well as novels for middle grade and high school aged students.

You can learn more about Michael Thal on his website and blog at His books can be purchased on and Barnes & Noble in print and as e-books.

Today, he’s talking about Koolura and the Mayans. As a bonus, I’ve read the book and loved it! See my review at the bottom of the post.

About the book:

Koolura, a girl with extraordinary psychic powers, is back again with pal Leila. The duo is off to Mexico for Koolura’s father’s wedding. When touring a Mayan archaeological dig, the girls uncover a mysterious device that hurtles them 2000 years back in time. They soon discover aliens from the planet Aquari living amongst Mayan natives. Are these Aquarians planning to take over Earth? And can Koolura and Leila stop them in time?


Koolura and the Mayans was published in 2016 by Solstice Publishing and is 131 pages.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Koolura and the Mayans is the third installment to the Koolura Series. Each book can be read independently without pressure of reading the other books in the series. I got the idea for Koolura and the Mayans when I traveled with my daughter to Oaxaca, Mexico for my cousin Adam’s wedding. We took a day trip to Monte Alban, an archeological site of Mayan civilization. That’s when I got the idea that perhaps Koolura could visit this site and be plunged back in time to the age of the Maya.

What genre is your book?

Koolura and the Mayans is historical fiction and science fiction.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

The book is plot driven.

What makes your book unique?

Koolura and the Mayans won Second Place in the 2016 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards. One of its main characters, Leila, is deaf. Koolura met her in book two of the series, Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback, and learned American Sign Language from her friend. Readers will see that deaf people are smart and resourceful. I think exposing young readers to characters with disabilities is important in broadening their horizons.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

The book I’m writing now, The Lip Reader, is a novel in which I’m letting the novel emerge as I write. However, I plotted each chapter of Koolura and the Mayans before I started writing. Of course things changed as the novel evolved and I had to add chapters and throw out others that didn’t seem to work.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

That’s a great question. I gave Koolura her name because she’s very cool. She can read minds, lift objects with a thought, and even fly. Now that’s cool. Leila got her name in memory of my Aunt Lilly.

How do you decide on the setting?

My visit to Monte Alban forced an obvious setting on me. In Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback I visited a lake in the Santa Ynez Mountains outside of Santa Barbara when my wife and I visited our daughter Koren at college. I thought that would be a perfect site for a summer sleep-away camp, and I was right. There was such a camp nearby, which I toured and took copious notes for Camp Saddleback.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Yes, I have two. Anne McGee, the author of Anni’s Attic and the Cedar Creek Mystery series, looks over my chapters giving me ideas for improvement. Susan Schader, a professional editor, is a huge help in pointing out my errors. Thanks to them, I feel my writing has improved tremendously over the past few years.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I make it a point to write one chapter per month. I usually write the rough draft in pencil at my desk, then type it up on my computer as I make changes.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I was a teacher for 28 years until a virus robbed me of my hearing. Getting a good education is extremely important. We never know what life will throw at us and it’s important to be prepared. Not able to understand my students any longer, I took disability and taught myself how to write. Readers can visit my website at where they can learn about my five YA novels and read my blog.

Other books by this author:

The Legend of Koolura:

Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback:

The Abduction of Joshua Bloom:

Goodbye Tchaikovsky:

Nancy’s review:

Michael Thal has written a marvelous story. Koolura is off to her father’s wedding in Oaxaca, Mexico. To get there, she uses her superpowers to pick up her BFF, Leila, and magically transport both of them to the Oaxacan airport. Once there, on a harmless tourist trip to Monte Alban, the ruins in the Valley of Oaxaca, the girls stumble into a pyramid and are whisked back in time. They find the ancient Mayans are under the thumb of alien invaders. In order to return to modern-day Oaxaca, the girls have to help.

Both of these girls are great role models. They’re good friends, they’re brave and strong, and they do what’s right even though it’s dangerous. Leila is hard of hearing, and the girls communicate using American Sign Language, adding another dimension to their friendship.

This is the third book in the series. I’ve read the other two, and was glad to discover this one. It’s educational, with the history of the Mayan civilization woven in. In addition, it’s also got a sci-fi element. Michael Thal gives us a glimpse of the society of the alien invaders; not somewhere you’d want to live. But Koolara must travel there in order to save the Mayans, and the arc of human civilization.

This book is one that can be enjoyed by adults as well as tweens. You don’t have to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one. But warning: once you pick it up, set aside the afternoon, sit back, and hold on for the ride!



Meet Monette Bebow-Reinhard

14713803_10154659805058953_111876732222915957_nSo happy to host Monette Bebow-Reinhard today, historian, actress, screenwriter! Ever since the iconic movie, Dances with Wolves, Bebow-Reinhard has been researching native American Indian Cultures. Her grandfather’s great uncle, Henry Bertrand, was in the army from 1862 through 1884 and he said, “We didn’t try hard to catch the Indians. We could see they were good people.”

Bebow-Reinhard earned her master’s in 2006 and has a saying: “The one thing historians need more of is time.” She is compiling a master database of all pre-contact copper artifacts found in the Americas, with nearly 66,000 compiled so far, and envisions a series of resource books. She’s an actress and screenwriter in her spare time, and has two grandchildren. Her sons work for Microsoft and her daughter is a tenured professor. She currently holds a full-time job but hopes to retire and travel with her husband and finish other projects by 2019.

The book she’s talking about today is called Saving Boone: Legend of the Half-White Son, and was published by All Things That Matter Press on October 25, 2017. It’s 228 pages long.

About the book:

n 1853 young Boone Tyler is thrust alone into the rapidly changing and dangerous environment west of the Mississippi. Was his white mother killed by his Kiowa father? His mother refused to let Kae-Gon into Boone’s life, but he told Lynelle he’d come for Boone when he was twelve. She swore she’d rather kill Kae-Gon than see Boone live in a world under constant threat. She made Boone swear to stay white, even taught him Shakespeare to help center him in her world in eastern Kansas.

After her death, Boone seeks out his grandfather, an army general, to help him kill his father. He quickly learns that many in the white world only see him as Indian.

On his adventures alone in the wilds of the western territories, Boone is often saved by the mysterious voice in his head that he thinks is his dead twin brother. Sam’s voice, and the symbols he becomes obsessed with, remind him that he’s more than just a half-white son and to learn more of his father’s world before killing him.

Events keep tangling with Boone’s desire for revenge for Lynelle’s death, including a wife, a cattle drive, thieves, Civil War, and people who continue to see him as Kiowa, not white. By 1874 he comes to understand the meaning of being “half-breed,” but is Sam’s voice enough to save their father’s life?

Saving Boone


Why did you decide to write this book?

Back when I was getting my master’s, and doing a lot of research on the time period used, and about the experiences of half-breeds, I wanted to share the realities of their world, and started writing just some short adventures and these were then combined and added to and the full novel developed.

What genre is your book?  

Historical fiction

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven? 

Character driven, definitely. The boy is 12 when his mother is killed and he runs off to grow into a man so he can kill his father, who he blames. Along the way his experiences tell him that there’s more to what happened to her than he thought.

What makes your book unique? 

One of the things I really like is that this is his white-half perspective, that he was raised by his white mother to live in the white world, and she taught him a lot of Shakespeare. So all along the way he is finding different Shakespeare quotes to reflect on what’s happening in his life. And at the end – I swear I never realized this until that moment – his father asks him if he still reads his – and then he shakes his spear. I wanted to be careful in this book to make it appealing, and correct, to a Native audience, as much as possible.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write? 

I generally outline. With this novel, I had a series of short stories first, which form a bit of an outline. In the longer version, I take him into the Indian world to marry, and to try and get whites and Indians to get along, and he dies in the end.  In this version, I end at an earlier, and much more appropriate spot. I like how novels change and become what they need to be, all along.

How do you develop the names for your characters? 

They just come to me. As I think about the character the right name just happens. At least for the major characters – if I’m on the right track. I’ll know I’m not if I struggle with their names.

How do you decide on the setting? 

I have a master’s in history and have done a lot of research on the time period in question, and the location is spread out west of the Mississippi, but ultimately, I needed to be in an area where he’d have the most experiences.

Do you have a writing mentor? 

Not really. I try to find readers, and as my first published novels were Bonanza novels, I’m really honored that a number of them read everything I do. I have a few favorite authors, but I don’t emulate style.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

It’s really hard for me not to write. Just put me down in front of a computer! I’m fortunate to have a job where I have to wait for people to send me stuff, and wait for the phone to ring. As I wait, I can do whatever I want. And I can type fast!

Anything else you’d like to add? 

While I was trying to sell this novel, I called it Saga of a Half-Breed. But some people were incensed that I’d use that word on the cover. I don’t believe we should hide what happened in history. But at the same time, we shouldn’t promote it. So I changed the title on the cover, but I will use historical terms in my work. I also gave a presentation on this topic and have developed a short article for True West Magazine on half-breeds. I need to get back to that and send it to them again. They said they’d look at it when the novel is published. But I’ve had some people ask, what the heck is a half-white son? So I don’t know if I’ve done myself any good with this title, either.

Where can we find you?






On The Premises:  Short story “Job as Told in Fortune Cookies”



Author Interviews

Hey everyone,

I’ve been reflecting on the previous incarnation of my blog and website. From 2012 to  2015, I had an active blog. Every week, I hosted a mystery author, asking everyone the same questions. I really enjoyed reaching out to authors and learning about their books and their writing process.

This time, I’ve decided to mix it up a bit and broaden the scope. I’ll interview indie authors writing in the following genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia, historical fiction, literary.  I’ll include a bio, author photo, book cover photo, and links to books and social media platforms. I’ll be running these interviews every other Friday.

Some sample questions:

  • Why did you decide to write this book?
  • What genre does your book fall into?
  • Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?
  • What makes your book unique?
  • Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
  • How did you develop the names for your characters?
  • How did you decide on the setting?
  • Do you have a writing mentor?
  • What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
  • Anything else you’d like to add?

Are you interested? I’d love to connect!