Month: March 2018

A Conversation with Paige Dearth

Paige Dearth was a victim of child abuse. She writes real-life horror and refers to her work as: Fiction with Mean-ing. Stories teach lessons and Paige hopes that awareness through fiction creates prevention.

Paige will continue to write stories about young children who need to overcome adversity and then take you on their life’s journey. Her goal through fiction is to get readers so invested in the story and characters you will become one with the tome. You will shed tears of joy, grief, rage and horror. You will be emotionally invested in the outcome. She wants her readers to be thinking about the story long after they have turned the last page.

Some may say why write about such controversial and difficult subjects. Paige feels that if we look the other way and don’t address society’s fears no real growth will ever happen.  As Ben Franklin said: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Society should not look the other way because a subject seems too difficult to handle, just remember her books are fiction but people live through these real-life horrors.

So buckle up and take a Paige Dearth life changing journey. It may take you into a new world of renewed enlightenment to make a difference and change the life of a child.

Paige lives in Plymouth Meeting, PA with her husband Mike (who was portrayed as Remo in her debut novel, Believe Like A Child). This novel has been the catalyst for her writing platform. The Beginning of Believe Like A Child is based on Paige’s real-life horror however, the remainder of the novel is fiction. It is the darkest version of who she could have become, had fate not intervened in the nick of time. It presents a fine balance between what lives on in her imagination and the evil that lurks in the real world.

Paige’s Affiliations:
ITW- International Thriller Writers
HWA- Horror Writers Association

Paige’s Newest Release:

Joon had a good life with her parents–she was loved and cared for the way all eight-year-olds should be. Then, one horrible day, her parents died, and she was put into the foster care system.

When Joon is placed with a single mother, Aron, and her two sons, nothing could have prepared her for the cruelty and brutality she would be subjected to over the next four years. When things escalate and her foster brother Deen threatens her, Joon takes to the streets to escape the viciousness of her foster family and start her life over.

Buy Never Be Alone Now!
Publication Date: March 21, 2018
Amazon US Amazon UK
414 pages

Never Be Alone is available now at these retailers:

Amazon     I-Books     Barnes-Nobel     Kobo

Paige’s Novels:

When Smiles Fade
Believe Like a Child
One Among Us
Mean Little People
Never Be Alone

Paige has written several novels, all dealing with important issues.  I want to focus on all of them, but we have to get to the interview so I am just focusing on two today:

One Among Us
Publication Date: 12/23/2014
661 Pages

Kidnapped and forced into human sex trafficking, Maggie has only one way out.

Eleven-year-old Maggie Clarke is abducted from her loving family and thrust into the indescribably horrific and largely unknown underworld of human sex trafficking. In captivity, Maggie’s life turns into a nightmare most children couldn’t imagine. When Maggie isn’t being sold to clients, she focuses on caring for Seth, a young boy who was also abducted.With the help of Detective Rae Harker, the Clarkes’ frantically search for their daughter. Haunted by his own demons, Detective Harker vows to find Maggie–dead or alive.

Years after Maggie is abducted, a strange man approaches her with a dangerous proposition and she risks everything to break free of the network of unsavory characters that control her. Not even she can know how far she will go to get even with the people who ruined her life.

An unforgettable story of courage and survival, One Among Us serves as an eye-opening reminder that horrible things can happen to anyone–it’s how people deal with their circumstances that matters.

**Paige has sent me this tome of a novel and I can not wait to read it! I hope it will be sooner than later! Sex trafficking is becoming a major issue that affects all cities. You may think “It can’t happen here!” Then guess what? Your town is in the news!

**WARNING**18+ Readers Only. Graphic content and subject matter.

Mean Little People
Publication Date: April 19, 2017
506 Pages

At seven-years-old Tony learns to kill or be killed.

My name is Tony. When I was seven years old the bullies in my class almost killed me; my father was angry that I let it happen but he always hated me.

At thirteen I went to prison for a crime I didn’t commit; it was the worst experience of my life.

Living on the streets was hard; being part of a gang was harder.

Oh, and I did find people to love along the way…and, I would do anything to protect them. Anything.

**WARNING**18+ Readers Only. Graphic content and subject matter.

JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room):Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I had a rough upbringing, nothing came easy for me and I have worked hard to make a good life for myself. Being raised in an abusive household took my focus from learning to surviving. When I finished high school, I had no dreams or vision for my future. I was married at 19 and pregnant at 21. My first marriage ended when my husband became a heroin addict shortly after my daughter was born.

I was determined to give my daughter a good life. I wanted her to have a great childhood and to provide things for her I had only dreamed of as a kid. Scared (literally, freaking out scared) I started college when I was 25. I was 37 years old when I finished my master’s degree. It was a long, tiring road, but I was determined to set an example for my daughter and earn a living that would afford her opportunities.

Along my journey, I have met incredible people who have encouraged me by saying things I’ve never heard while growing up…” you’re smart,” “you’ll be successful,” “you can do anything you want to do,” and other things so foreign that I thought they were lying. I wasn’t raised that way, I was raised in a house where graduating high school and getting married was success. To show you what I dealt with, when I was seventeen I told my mother I wanted to be an engineer, her response, she chuckles at me, “Do you know how smart you have to be to become an engineer?”

When I was around 25 is the time I took control over my life. I met a great man (who is also a badass) and, married him one year later. Now I like to write, cook, travel and hang with my people. Oh, and I like Vodka and cranberry with lime on the lip or a large glass of red wine. And, (someone please help me), but I can eat potato chips until I puke.

JRR: You have faced a difficult life. But look where you are now!  Did you always want to become an author?

I never thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up – I wasn’t taught to think about the future. When I was 21 my real life Ebby (a character in Believe Like A Child) after hearing several of my childhood stories told me that someday I should write a book. This made me feel like I had something interesting to tell the world. It gave me hope and so that became one of my biggest dreams.

Once I was able to financially support myself and I finished college, I decided that my life experiences should be shared and so I wrote my debut novel, Believe Like A Child, the beginning of this book is based on my real-life but the remainder is purely fiction. I realized after writing this book I needed to write more novels that explored the long-term ramifications of child abuse. My goal is that through fiction I can help create prevention.

JRR:  What inspires you to write? Why do you write the types of novels that you write?

My inspiration to write stories about young children who have to face adversity comes from my own experience. I was sexually abused by my live-in Uncle at seven years old. The abuse lasted for many years. I write graphic details about my characters to bring into the forefront the raw emotion so people reading can feel what abused children experience. Young children are mentally and physically tortured every day. It’s all kept secret. That’s the way abusers train their victims. We hear news stories of abused and missing children, sometimes they are returned, but often they never go home again. These stories merely skim the surface of what might be happening to a child. This results in minimal change and so the abuse cycle continues.

Ben Franklin’s quote sums up what I am trying to achieve with my writing which I call Real-Life Horror.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
~Ben Franklin

JRR:  There are so many tough situations out there that we try not the think of.  You choose to focus on them to bring about the attention they need. Now, what does your writing process consist of? Do you research/outline, do you handwrite or type,  do you listen to music or need silence?

Oh hell, I’m a person grounded in routine. I know, kind of boring, but writing requires that I am structured:

I wake up at 4:30 a.m. and workout. Afterward, I drink my coffee and read. I try to be writing by 8:00 or 9:00.

My laptop is one of my best friends and the only time I cheat on it and handwrite something is when a thought hits me and my computer is nowhere around.

I always know the beginning and end of the novel I will write. The middle gets filled in as I am in the meditative state of writing. I keep track of ideas that pop into my head for the middle matter of my novel during and outside of my writing process. It seems my best ideas come right before I’m ready to fall asleep or when I’m on the treadmill in the morning.

My writing space is quiet, no music or noise and I just let the words flow from my imagination to the keyboard. I write my stories without worrying about fine tuning the manuscript. That worry comes later during the editing process. Let me say I hate the editing part of writing. It’s grueling, long and annoying usually because I’m chomping at the bit to write my next book. But I also know this is such an important step to putting out a good book.

As for doing research to supplement my ideas and concepts, I often find this through reading books, watching TV and documentaries and yes, some internet search. It is crazy, the shit that writers Google.

JRR: I bet so! I can imagine what your search history looks like!  But you have to know to write the story!  What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?

People tell me all the time they want to write a book. There is no magic or special knowledge that any writer possesses. The only way you write a book is to sit your ass down and write. When I wrote my debut novel, Believe Like A Child I only knew that I had a story to tell.

If you decide to write a novel, please, please read your finished manuscript often before sending it off to your editor. No one will care about the condition of your book like you do.

Remember that when you write, the important thing is to focus on keeping readers engaged in your story. There will always be people critical of your work and unless it’s constructive so you can learn from it, forget about it.

JRR:  Great advice!  Were you a reader growing up? If so, who was your favorite author (or books) as a child?

I loved reading in my early teens. The first book I ever read and loved so much was A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. After Barbara, I moved on to V.C. Andrews, James Patterson and John Saul. These are just some of my early favorites.

JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?

The Bible.

JRR: What’s the best advice you have ever received?

Write what you know.

JRR:  For someone who has not read anything written by you, which do you recommend for a start? Is there a particular order you recommend for reading your books? What age group are your novels for?

My books are intended for readers 18 and over. They all contain graphic content. However, there is no particular order to my books. Each are standalone.

Additionally, as a reader perk I usually weave one character from a previous novel into the new novel I am writing.
If you really can’t decide which book to start with I would probably recommend One Among Us because it deals with a topic that is more socialized than the others.

JRR: I will hav e ot look out for the ‘crossover character once I read your novels !Is there anything you can tease up about with your next novel?

My next Novel “NEVER BE ALONE” is due to be released end of March 2018.

The novel is about a young twelve- year-old girl named Joon who becomes homeless and has to survive on the streets of Philadelphia. Below is the short description:

Joon had a good life with her parents—she was loved and cared for the way all children should be. Then, one horrible day, her parents died, and she was put into the foster care system.

Joon takes to the streets to escape the viciousness of her foster family and start her life over.

On the streets, Joon finally finds comfort with a group of homeless teenagers. But things are never what they seem, and there is always a price to pay for safety on the streets. NEVER BE ALONE is a story of homelessness but hopefulness, as Joon’s relentless determination eventually helps her find her place in the world and make a difference.

JRR:  Is there anything else you would like to share?

I love to read. A few of my favorite authors are: John Saul, James Patterson, Danielle Steel and Patricia Cornwell. I also enjoy Stephen King novels and I just loved Misery and Thinner. In the past three years I have been reading several Indie authors and have enjoyed many good stories.

When I’m not working, I love to vacation, exercise and cook. Cooking is one of my passions. I get satisfaction from creating new recipes through trial and error. My husband is the guinea pig for my new creations.

I love music and find much of it inspirational and enjoyable. However, my favorite song is Let It Be by The Beatles. As a broken-hearted child, the song brings hope for an answer, I could imagine someone secretly watching out for me. More importantly the song tells me I can’t fix everything and if I just Let It Be and don’t dwell on negative things, life will move you to a better place.

I’d like to end with a reminder to everyone:
If you are being abused or you know someone who is, you must tell someone that can help. Any form of abuse is unacceptable. It will not be easy to tell on your abuser but that first step of courage is the hardest. I’m not saying the remainder of the journey will be easy, but once you or a victim finds a voice the road to healing begins. Remember it is NOT you who is at fault. Your abuser is the person with the problem no matter how often they blame you or other people.

Thank you so much for your time with this interview Paige!

Contact Paige:
Amazon Author Page
Twitter @paigedearth



First Line Friday #63

This week’s First Line Friday is a new release as of last month and I received my copy from Book of the Month. For just $14.99 you will receive your choice of one of five selections. You can also buy additional books for $9.99 in hardback. This is a great deal as that is cheaper than most places you can get books and the books are protected in a thick plastic. Give Book of the Month a try! I found myself going on their website on the first of every month to see what the selections to choose from are!

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who leave home, and those who don’t. I’m a proud member of the first category.

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward–with hope and pain–into the future.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Blog Blitz: Dead Watch

Today I am on the Blog Blitz for Dead Watch by Steve Liszka. The publication date was yesterday, March 28th. Dead Watch is published by Bloodhound Books. Today Steve is sharing why he wrote Dead Watch!

Book Description:

Life for the firefighters of Red Watch, East Brighton, is already complicated due to the imminent closure of their fire station. But this is soon to be the least of their worries.

When the team stumble upon a car in a ditch, they discover the driver is dead and a bag containing five hundred thousand pounds in cash. Before anyone arrives, the crew decide to take money, believing it to be a victimless crime.

When they later learn that the driver was killed by a bullet wound to the head their world is turned upside down.

Then a stranger appears at the station claiming the money belongs to him.    

Soon the firefighters are drawn into a dangerous underworld and find themselves at the mercy of violent criminals.

But is this stranger who he claims to be?

And can Red Watch escape with the money and their lives in tact?

Buy Dead Watch Now!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Why I wrote Dead Watch

Looking back on it now, it seems obvious that I should have written a book about my job as a firefighter, but back when I started writing, I couldn’t see it. My first novel This Machine Kills was released in 2012, but I probably started writing it 5 years before that. It was a violent dystopian tale where the country was run by a businessman who wanted to build walls around his cities to keep the people protected from the poor, massed at its edges. It seemed quite far-fetched at the time but since Donald Trump has come into power I’m not too sure anymore. After not being able to secure an agent or publisher, I eventually self-published the book. It received some very positive reviews and sold a few hundred copies, but soon disappeared into the internet ether.

When I decided I wanted to write something else, it struck me that there were very few books written about the fire service. Thousands of books are published each year regarding the police, but I have never read anything about my own profession, a job I have done for seventeen years. I therefore decided that this time I would ‘write what I know’, and with that, had to work out how to go about it.

I quickly realised that it was going to be trickier than I thought. For one thing, I knew I couldn’t write a procedural type book, as is often the case with police-based thrillers. The jobs we go to in the fire service, tend to be dealt with within a few hours, unlike the weeks, months or even years it takes in the case of police investigations. Even particularly large incidents are usually done and dusted within a day or two, therefore I couldn’t really write a story about an incident I was likely to attend as it would only be a few chapters long at most! I also knew I didn’t want to write a memoir type book. I’ll leave that to more experienced firefighters when they write their autobiographies.

Writing about an arsonist would probably seem the obvious choice, but in reality, most of these are not master criminals, striking terror into the heart of the city with their actions. The arsonists I have mostly come across tend to be people with mental health issues and often those actions are a cry for help. Their targets are not normally buildings either but tend to be rubbish bins or something equally unexciting. Very often these people hang around at the incident and in some cases try and help us put the fire out. When you spot them at the next fire, it doesn’t take a genius to work out who did it, and I think often, these people are looking to get caught. Like I say, it is a cry for help. For this reason, I didn’t want to sensationalise the roles of arsonists in society.

Ruling out these options I fell back on the chats that we have around the canteen table. A question that has popped up before (not just on my watch, but probably every canteen in the country), is, if you found a large amount of money at an incident and were sure you would get away with it, would you take the money? I thought this was interesting route to go down that would demonstrate that we are all only human and liable to lapses in judgment. I also wanted to show that even though they had done something wrong, the watch involved would do whatever it takes to make amends, even if it meant risking their own lives.

Something else I wanted to write about was the role of the modern-day firefighter and how fires are only one of many incidents that we are likely to attend. Many people are not aware of what we really do, and so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to explain! I also wanted to try and convey what it is really like to go into a building on fire. On TV and in the movies, the picture that is painted of a brave firefighter running into a building to tackle the fire is about as far removed from reality as you are likely to get. I have spoken about it in more detail in the book, but most of the time when we into fires, we operate in zero visibility conditions. It is the reason why, when we do our training, we cover up our masks as we know that when it’s for real, we’re not going to be able to see a thing.

I also thought it was important to write about the camaraderie that exist on a watch and how, due to the things we experience together as a team, there is a deep bond that exists between watches that would be difficult to find in many other places. Similarly, and again this is something I discuss in the book, the infamous black humour in the service is a coping mechanism used to deal with some of the incredibly traumatic things we witness.

In the book I have also discussed the affects of austerity on the fire service nationally. All the services in this country have had their budgets cut massively in the past few years and as a result, jobs have been lost, fire appliances have been removed and, in many cases, stations have been closed. This has already had a devastating effect, with fire deaths in the country rising, despite claims to the contrary by the government. Even though it has been argued by those making the decisions, what it comes down to is this; the longer it takes us to get to you (with the proper resources) the more likely you are to die at a fire. Anyone who says any different is a liar.

For reasons like this, there is an unapologetically political edge to my book. I served as a rep for the Fire Services Union (FBU) for five years. In that time, and ever since, we have been involved in a fight to protect not only our stations and staff members, but also our conditions of service and even our pensions. There is also a looming threat of privatisation to the service, and again this is something I have discussed in the book (I and all my colleagues are viciously opposed to it).

Saying all that, I love my job and the people I work with. It is hard to imagine doing anything else as varied, and with so many unique challenges. I just hope that in the book I have done the job, and the firefighters of this country justice.

About the Author:

Steve has been an operational firefighter for the past seventeen years and it was his job that led to him writing his latest novel Dead Watch. He is based at Preston Circus Fire Station in Brighton, one of the busiest in the South East. Originally from Swansea, Steve now lives in Worthing with his wife Angela and children, Buddy and Sylvie.

Steve has always been an active sports person, competing in rugby, amateur boxing, rock climbing and many other pursuits. For the past ten years, he has run his own old-school outdoor fitness classes using kettlebells, tyres, sledgehammers and various other instruments of torture.

Steve’s first novel This Machine Kills was released in 2012. It is a violent dystopian tale where the country is run by a businessman who wants to build walls around his cities to protect the residents from the poor people outside. As if that would ever happen…

Contact Steve:
Twitter: @SteveLiszka

I personally have a high respect for fire fighters. Back in 2004 I took a class called the Citizen’s Fire Academy where you get to learn about the fire department. We even put on their turnout gear and went on ‘ridealongs’ on the fire truck!