Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Mark A. Flagel, Author

Mark A. Flagel, Author
Mark A. Flagel brings us a story he has wanted to write ever since hearing about the East German secret doping of its female athletes in the 1976 Olympics. His story is fiction, much of which occurs twenty years following the Olympic event, but based on historical facts, which one reviewer says is “a story that absolutely needed to be told.” Another reviewer says that PRICE OF GOLD: TWO WOMEN, TWO CHAMPIONS, TWO WORLDS is a “riveting novel that tells the story of two women swimmers, one American the other East German, who competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.”

Flagel is a retired lawyer who now gets to do what he’s always want to do: write novels. He is currently working on three other projects and hopes one of them will inspire him the way PRICE OF GOLD did. He likes to walk, think, and play poker, spend time with his grown children who are scattered throughout the U.S., and travel. He is particularly drawn to unusual acts of kindness.

Q: How did you become interested in Olympic swimmers, specifically the background for the women in PRICE OF GOLD: TWO WOMEN, TWO CHAMPIONS, TWO WORLDS? Are you a swimmer? What drove you to tell this story?

Mark A. Flagel: I first heard about the underlying historical facts, and in particular the secret East German doping of its own athletes and its impact on the 1976 Olympics, back in or about the year 2000. I thought it was a fascinating story, and was astonished that I’d not heard anything about it before. During the ensuing years I often told the story to friends, and each person I told invariably responded the way I first responded: What a fascinating story.  Why haven’t I heard anything about this? When I was planning my March 2014 transition from lawyer to writer, it struck me that, since the actual underlying historical events hadn’t gained widespread attention, perhaps I could find a way through fiction to make the story resonate and get the attention I think it deserves.

Q:  Did your career as a lawyer help you tell your story?

Mark A. Flagel: I think it helped, in at least two ways. First, the research skills I learned as a lawyer came in very handy, as I wanted to capture the essence of real, and quite chilling, saddening, and emotional, historical events. Second, my trial experience helped me dramatize the climactic courtroom scene involving the fictional cross examination of a former secret East German STASI agent, who had doubled as a trainer for the East German swimmers and had been an “enforcer” of the secret doping program. (To see what really made the cross-examination so dramatic, your readers are going to have to read the book!)

Q: What makes readers care about your characters, specifically the East German swimmer?

Mark A. Flagel: As Americans, we are naturally, and understandably, upset when cheating athletes essentially steal everything our honest athletes worked for their entire careers and lives. That’s what makes us care so much about Ivy, the American heroine of PRICE OF GOLD. The twist here is that the East German government set out to use its own young girls as guinea pigs, secretly giving them lethal steroids beginning at age eleven, hoping they would create super-athletes to help East Germany enhance its influence in the Soviet sphere, but knowing that, in the long term, they would create a generation of cripples who would also, in turn, likely give birth to handicapped children. Both things happened, and in a very real sense Hannah is as much a victim of this travesty as Ivy, and in some ways even more so, which is what makes us care so much about Hannah.

Q: How relevant is credibility/believability to telling your story? What kind of research did you conduct to assure accuracy for credibility? How accurate is the historical and political background?

Mark A. Flagel: Credibility is extremely important, and the historical foundation on which the book is built was crafted only after hundreds of hours of thorough and necessary research. Indeed, my research only deepened my resolve to create a historical fiction version of this story. There are at least three well-researched, non-fiction, academic books, along with an enlightening PBS special, that reveal the essence of the secret East German doping machine, its extent, its impact, and its fallout. Despite all these materials, relatively few people know about this important, and tragic, chapter in Olympic and doping history. I hope to change that, at least a little, and accuracy regarding the underlying historical and political background is and was an important part of that effort.

Q: Does the concept of heroes vs villains apply to your story? If so, what are the characteristics of an effective villain? Do you need a villain to have a hero?

Mark A. Flagel: This story raises a question that each reader will grapple with and resolve in her or his own way: who are the real heroes, and who are the real villains? Sometimes in this book, as in life, the answers are not that clear. That’s part of what I think has driven the so far very positive reviews of the book.

Q: Did you write PRICE OF GOLD only to entertain, or did you also embed some key messages? What did you want your readers to take away from your story?

Mark A. Flagel: Through PRICE OF GOLD, I wanted to bring attention to the heroic women who actually lived the tragic chapter of Olympic history created by the secret East German doping machine, honor the women cheated out of medals they had sacrificed everything for, yet recognize the very real and painful sacrifices made and suffering endured by the “other” victims of this politically inspired doping fiasco.

Q: How helpful was the setting of Montreal to adding suspense or drama to your story?

Mark A. Flagel: Montreal, of course, provides the flash-point for the East German, doping-driven gold medals that did and will forever fan the flame of this controversy. That said, the background of the story and the fallout from Montreal take place throughout the United States and Germany.

Q:  Did you use humor to develop your characters or tell your story? How important is it?

Mark A. Flagel: Laughing is always comforting, it seems, and I think it was important for me, in PRICE OF GOLD, to use some humor to humanize the characters. But the strength of PRICE OF GOLD is its dramatic and emotional impact, not its humor.

Q: What’s next?

Mark A. Flagel: Good question! I’m not sure! I’m working on three different projects, and hoping that one of them will inspire me the way writing PRICE OF GOLD inspired me. If you look at my website, you’ll see a synopsis of one of my projects, called Peach Moments, which I use to refer to those moments of euphoria that all of us, regardless of who we are, where we come from, or how much money we have (or don’t have), are capable of achieving, in a variety of contexts. Stay tuned on that front.

Q: Tell us about Mark Flagel. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Mark A. Flagel:  I like to walk and think. I like to play poker. I like to spend time with family which, in the case of my children, is not all that easy as my daughter lives in Pennsylvania, my oldest son is an Army Special Forces trainee currently stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and my youngest son is going to be a sophomore at USC. I like to hear about acts of kindness, above and beyond the ordinary. I get a lot of satisfaction from four non-profit organizations I’m involved in, the LA Regional Foodbank, College Track, College Match, and the Exceptional Children’s Foundation. And of course, I like to travel.

About Mark A. Flagel

Mark A. Flagel was born in Los Angeles, California in 1958. He graduated from Long Beach Wilson High School in 1976, UCLA in 1980, and UC Berkeley Law School in 1983. He practiced law for 31 years, then retired in 2014 to pursue his lifelong passion – writing. He hopes PRICE OF GOLD helps bring attention and, perhaps, even some form of relief and vindication to the heroic women who actually lived through the historical events that inspired the novel.


Ivy Johnson had never been more ready. The Montreal Summer Olympic Games. July, 1976. The United States just celebrated its 200th anniversary and Ivy, just shy of her 19th birthday, would deliver gold to her country and confirm her place among the greatest swimmers of all time. Hannah Eberhardt had different ideas. The 16-year-old East German, propelled by a secret guilt and a clandestine truth, crushed Ivy’s dreams and took gold back across the Atlantic, to the Fatherland. Ivy knew at the time, but couldn’t prove, she was cheated. Disturbing secrets emerging twenty years later, after the fall of East Germany, gave her another chance. Ivy headed to Germany to peel back the onion, confront her nemesis, and re-claim her glory, but as each layer came off, new, horrifying, and surprising truths emerged.
PRICE OF GOLD is a work of fiction. But it is built on historical truth; painful historical truth; truth that illustrates the often gut wrenching price of gold, and the efforts of the heroic women involved in this tragic chapter of Olympic history.

Purchase at Amazon 
Or Website 

Author sites

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Sheila Hageman, Author

Sheila Hageman, Author
Sheila Hageman describes her newest novel BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE as a contemporary romance because it confronts issues today’s young women “go through when searching for love and self….like balancing love and career.” She cites interesting characters, humor, believability, and setting as important elements in a compelling romance—and, yes, maybe even some heroes and villains. 

Hageman started out as a stripper and nude model and moved on to become college valedictorian and eventually earning an MFA in creative writing. Today she is a wife and the mother of three children, an author, a yoga instructor, writing teacher, and Body Image Expert. In addition to novels, she writes poetry and non-fiction. She is just finishing a draft of her next novel.

Q: You’ve described BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE as contemporary romance. What makes it “contemporary?”

Sheila Hageman: I think of BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE as contemporary because the story takes place very much in our present time and deals with issues I believe many young women go through when searching for love and self. This is a great novel for readers who like to really relate to the protagonist and understand the same types of modern-day issues like balancing love and career.

Q: What are the most important traits to readers of a compelling romance? How helpful is setting to developing a romance?

Sheila Hageman: I go off of what I’ve discovered I enjoy myself as a reader. A compelling romance for me needs to have interesting characters that are believable, but are at the same time experiencing something unique and story-worthy. I like to be able to relate to certain ideas or themes in a romance, but I also feel the desire to stretch my imagination in some areas. Setting plays such an important role in romance because lush, sensory descriptions can make or break a story. Since I like understanding my setting on a personal level, I think I may need to go on some exotic trips in my near future!

Q: Why will readers care about your protagonist, Lizbeth? Is she someone we can all relate to? What makes her unique? Or is she an “every-person” character?

Sheila Hageman: Lizbeth is your “every-woman” for many young women. She deals with issues that so many modern American women face—body image, self-esteem and desire for a loving partnership. A lot of us strive for so much and want to have it all, and Lizbeth experiences these drives along with confusion on how to achieve all she desires. Lizbeth faces these issues even as a thirty-year-old, which I think is an age many women are facing a reevaluation of their lives. She is unique in that she is divorced and still trying to chase a dream of stardom at an age after which many people have already settled into their “adult” lives.

Q: How helpful is the use of humor to tell your story? Do you believe humor is an important part of a romance?

Sheila Hageman: Humor is so important to me in life and love that it is no surprise to me that I wanted to incorporate it into my first romance novel. Life is funny and I most definitely wanted my heroine to be able to laugh at herself and the situations she finds herself in. I believe that’s even a part of her evolution in the book—Lizbeth becomes more able to laugh at herself and the world. Not all romances need humor, of course, but I find many contemporary romances incorporate some level of humor to reflect its importance in modern life.

Q: Are there heroes and villains in BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE? If so, what are the attributes of an effective villain?

Sheila Hageman: I believe the ultimate hero in BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE is Lizbeth herself because she goes through the most growth in so many dimensions of herself and her viewpoints on important issues. Her best friend Janet also goes through a series of realizations about self and life, which I believe paint her as a hero of her own life. Lizbeth’s love interest Chip definitely has some villain-ish tendencies, such as blaming others for his flaws, at the beginning of the story, but evolves into his own hero. The one true villain that Lizbeth has to grapple with is a manipulating film director who truly does not change or grow in the story, but rather remains treacherous and pompous.

Q: You have published poems along with non-fiction and your current novel BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE. When is poetry suitable to express your topic versus novel-writing? How is writing fiction different from writing non-fiction?

Sheila Hageman: Great question. I find that I go through phases when I need to express very strong emotions in a short amount of time and that is when I tend toward poetry. I like writing poems to capture a fleeting feeling or a moment in time that I know is so delicate if I don’t grab it in some way, I may never have another opportunity to. Writing novels seems like a good way to dive into a theme or an idea that I want to spend a significant time with.

Writing fiction and non-fiction feel so different to me. When I write memoir or personal essays, I tend to do a lot more mental brooding and less quick writing. At the beginning of an idea that feels like it needs to be explored through the personal, I will write quickly, but the connection-making and theme-building can come slowly.

Fiction has felt more free-flowing and less directed for me. I tend to be able to write quicker and with less stress when I have that space between my reality and my characters.

Q: Did you write BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE solely to entertain readers or did you embed a message or two as well?

Sheila Hageman: I definitely embedded my messages! The writing of a romance began as a writerly challenge between my writing friend and me. We wanted a break from the sometimes heaviness of memoir to write something lighter. As soon as I began, my main character quickly revealed to me that she was struggling with similar issues I have struggled with and have written about in memoir form. It seems like my deepest concerns for people and the world often emerge in my writing.

Q: How important is credibility or believability in telling your stories? How did you make your protagonist and her story credible?

Sheila Hageman: Believability is very important for me as a writer. I want to create characters and story that although they may be nothing close to a reader’s experience, they still ring true emotionally. I trusted my own experiences in life to create a believable heroine with real-life struggles and experiences. Although some of what Lizbeth goes through might seem exotic to someone who has never experienced city-life, I hope that readers will be able to envision themselves in similar situations.

Q:  What’s next? Will you write another novel?

Sheila Hageman: I’m happy to say I am just finishing a rough draft of another novel, which would be best described as a crazy mix of humor, sci-fi, romance and erotica. I just went full-on write-what-makes-me-happy for this one.

I’m also working on a few potential next memoirs.

Q:  Tell us about Sheila Hageman. What do you do when you’re not writing? What do you like to do to relax and have fun?

Sheila Hageman: I have three young children, a husband and a full-time job, so I am never not busy. It’s an exercise in madness that I can get any writing done at all. I love yoga; I’m actually also a certified yoga teacher. Right now, I work at Berkeley College in White Plains, NY, as an Academic Mentor, which means I get to spend a lot of time coaching and inspiring students. I also love teaching writing and work with clients one-on-one on their memoirs-in-progress.

About Sheila Hageman

Sheila is the ultimate survivor and risk taker—she’s a former stripper and nude model who became her college valedictorian, a yoga instructor, a writing teacher, an author, a mother and a Body Image Expert. She lives with her husband, three children and three cats in CT. She is an Academic Mentor for Berkeley College. She has taught writing at University of Bridgeport and Housatonic Community College.

 She has a novel, BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE, out June 24, 2016, from 48Fourteen. Her memoir, STRIPPING DOWN, is a meditation on womanhood and body image. Her Decision-Making Guide and Self-Discovery Journal, The Pole Position: Is Stripping for You? (And How to Stay Healthy Doing It), Every Day Create, December 2011, helps women to further value their own identities through their quest to understand their motivations for stripping.

She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College, CUNY, where she also graduated as valedictorian with her BA in English. She blogs about her stripper past, motherhood, body image and other women’s issues at or you can visit her website Sheila has appeared on numerous TV shows including Today Show, ABC News, NBC News, and as an expert on Bill Cunningham and Anderson Cooper. She has been featured on Salon, Yahoo, Mamalode, Mom Babble, Say It With A Bang, She Knows, Role Reboot and The Huffington Post.

BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE is a contemporary romance with smarts and humor.

Lizbeth, an outwardly-confident but overly self-conscious thirty-year-old, is spurred on by her New Age friend, Janet, to trust the Universe and ask for what she wants in life—to land a starring role, lose five pounds and find herself naked with a man. The stars seem to be aligning for her, but not exactly in the way she meant.

A chance encounter with a film director at Grand Central Station may be her lucky break, but the New York City actress is blindsided when she is fired from her bill-paying waitress job, and she must decide where her true values lie. Should she take a position as a “pretend secretary” for a handsome, but holier-than-thou chiropractor and healer with questionable morals to pay her rent?

While Chip Duncan woos a potential investor for his new healing center, he fights his romantic urges for Lizbeth. She finds herself falling in love with Chip’s caring, healing heart, but she’s equally frustrated by his greed and dishonesty.

Can Lizbeth resolve her body image issues and find a clear path to satisfaction in career and relationship? And will Chip realize in time that Lizbeth is the woman for him before he blows off her love?

“DO YOU HAVE A MISSION statement for your life?” Janet asked as she pushed a frazzled bunch of red curly hair from her face.
            “A what?” Lizbeth grimaced slightly before biting into her gooey tuna melt on wheat bread.
            “You know—a statement that sums up what you want from your life, or like, a guiding sentence to propel you forward.” Janet nibbled her egg white Western omelet and stabbed at her buttered wheat toast with a fork. “Hmm, I guess he forgot I wanted dry toast.”
            Lizbeth knew her friend was into new-age stuff, but she hated it when Janet assumed everyone was into it.
            “Um, why would I need a, a what? A life statement?”
            “Lizzie, I think creating a greater life purpose could move you out of this slump you seem to be in.”
            Ugh, here she goes, Lizbeth thought. Ever since her friend met a psychic healer, everything had to be about auras and chakras and now…life missions.
            “Excuse me? Excuse me?” Janet tried once again to get the waiter’s attention. Marnick’s was short-staffed—only two waiters for the entire restaurant on a Friday afternoon.
            “Oh! Did no one bring your toast yet? I’m so sorry; one of the waitresses had to put her dog down today, and well, you know how women are about their pets.”
            Lizbeth wasn’t sure if he was being snarky or sensitive or…
            “That’s all right. I’m fine. You know what? Don’t worry about it—a little butter is good for you.” Janet smiled in her sweet, all-knowing way. Lizbeth silently prayed that Janet wouldn’t mention her friend who claims to talk to dead animals.
            As the waiter retreated, Janet took a gerbil-sized munch of the lightly buttered toast. “Hmm, maybe I should call Bill, the pet psychic, to see if he can pick up any messages for the waitress.”
            “Janet, please, can we stick to our original subject? I can only take so much spacey stuff a day, you know? I imagine you already have one of those life mission thingies all typed-out and framed somewhere.” Lizbeth tossed a pickle chip into her mouth. She’d asked for extra, but only three came on her plate; she certainly wasn’t about to ask for more pickles now.
            “Well, yes, but not typed. I wrote it in calligraphy and hung it next to my bathroom mirror so I see it every morning. It helps me stay focused.”
            Lizbeth thought there might be some inherent good in being focused. In having personal goals. But she liked living by the seat of her pants, following her emotions and living in the moment. Lizbeth caught herself. Who’s the new-agey one now?
            “I don’t know what my life mission is. How does one figure something like that out anyway? Wait…what’s yours?”
            “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” Janet whispered and laughed, her eyes crinkling at the corners.

At twelve years old, everything changed for me with the discovery of my estranged father’s porn collection. Found locked away in a corner of the basement, the glossy images ignited in me an unrelenting desire for attention and adoration. I lost sight of my dream of being a writer and became obsessed with exercise, working out every day for hours and barely eating. I became that which I thought men adored—a stripper and a nude model.

Many years later when I discovered my mother had breast cancer, I was faced with who I had become and what I had used my body for. I quit stripping and returned to college to graduate as valedictorian; I also became a yoga teacher through which I learned how to take good care of my body and not be obsessive in my looks. I began writing again and then went to graduate school for my MFA in Creative Writing. At that time, reflections on my past as a stripper permeated my thoughts as I took on the new roles of mother, caregiver and wife. While helping my baby daughter take her first steps, I nursed my mother through the final stages of breast cancer and truly faced who I had become and who I had been.




A few of Sheila Hageman TV Appearances:

NBC CT News, April 2012, Interview on Stripping Down 

CT Style on ABC CT News, May 2012, Author Interview 

Twitter: @SheilaMHageman

Sunday, July 10, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Sylvia Stein, Author

Sylvia Stein, Author
Coming soon! Sylvia Stein's A DIARY OF A BROKEN FATHER, a prequel to her first novella, CLOSURE. She wrote it in response to reader requests to understand the role of the abusive father in her original novella. She wanted to show how he became an alcoholic that caused him to abuse his daughter. 

Stein is now working on her first thriller and, when she’s not writing, enjoys spending time with her husband and three children. She has also published a Young Adult novella, CHASING CLARITY.

Q: Why did you decide to write a prequel to CLOSURE? What inspired you to write A DIARY OF A BROKEN FATHER?

Sylvia Stein: I decided to write a prequel to CLOSURE because when I wrote it I had many readers ask me about Garrison and how they wanted to learn more about his alcoholic journey and try to understand him more.  I thought about it and came up with his story and the inspiration was to try to show his journey and perhaps bring him into another light with readers.

Q: Garrison James, the “broken father,” does not seem to be a likable person. How do you engage readers to care what happens to him?

Sylvia Stein: I wanted to show what led him to become the awful and abuse father in CLOSURE and by sharing his AA journey I wanted the readers to decide for themselves by hearing Garrison share his journey.

Q: Alcoholism and abuse are complex subjects to understand and present to readers. How did you create credible issues and characters? Did you have to do extensive research?

Sylvia Stein: I wanted to show the stages of AA through Garrison’s struggle.  I did research this and I wanted to make the character of Garrison believable so yes I researched AA and I also reflected upon people I know who dealt with this issue.

Q: Do you consider your protagonist, Garrison James, a hero or a villain?

Sylvia Stein:  I consider Garrison both a hero and a villain as he goes through this pain he admits to himself the wrong he is doing and decides to try and emerge from it so I would say a blend of both but in the end he is just human and he makes mistakes.

Q:  How helpful is humor to develop your characters or tell your story?

Sylvia Stein: Humor is important.  However, I mostly brought this story from a dark place. I got really into the life an alcoholic and humor was not a big part of Garrison’s story.

Q: Did you write A DIARY OF A BROKEN FATHER primarily to entertain readers, or did you embed some messages in the story?

Sylvia Stein: I wanted to show a message in this story.  I hope the reader will see it that way. 

Q: What is the significance of the title A DIARY OF A BROKEN FATHER? Does Garrison keep a diary? NOTE: Do not explain if it’s a spoiler!

Sylvia Stein: I can’t give it away without spoiling it but I do cover it so the reader will see it.  The title idea came from a good friend and writer Christopher Bartlett he helped with it when I went over it with him. 

Q: How relevant or supportive to telling your story was the setting? Could A DIARY OF A BROKEN FATHER have occurred anywhere at any time?

Sylvia Stein: Since this was taken from Garrison’s perspective I felt the setting was a part of it but more importantly for this was Garrison’s account and the dates in the book.  I think it could have taken place anywhere but for this story I made it appoint to keep date to keep it consistent with Closure which was the first novella. 

Q: What’s next?

Sylvia Stein: Currently, I am an editing intern for Stitched Smile Publications where I am also a marketing intern, I am also a guest contributor for the Huffington post Blog focusing on Writing Tips, promos, Book reviews and my own books, and also I have a podcast on Podbean, “In the Artists Realm with Sylvia Stein”, and working on my first thriller for next year. 

Q: Tell us about Sylvia Stein. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Sylvia Stein: I actually love spending time with my amazing husband Jeremy and three adorable children Paul, Michael and Connie.  We love taking them to the movies, going out to eat and vacationing. 

About Sylvia Stein

Sylvia Stein is a published author with several anthologies with her Writer's group 750 on Linked In. Stein obtained a Master's Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University in July 2015. She is a mother of three children and resides in the city of Fuquay Varina with her husband.

Stein has also published two solo books; one was her first novella CLOSURE which she worked on while attending SNHU and published in July of 2014. The other her first YA CHASING CLARITY published this past October 2015 and was created during National Novel Month (Nano) in 2013. When she is not writing she enjoys time with her children and husband.


Garrison James could still hear the screams of his little girl, Sara, like it was yesterday, “Daddy, daddy, please forgive me!” He messed up his life and  hers as well. How can he make it up to her? As he struggles with his alcohol addiction, Sara leaves him with her aunt and later goes to college to pursue her own dreams, leaving him behind.

In this gripping tale and prequel to CLOSURE, Garrison tells his life story and the struggles that he faced during his alcoholism and the acceptance of Sara’s need to find her own path in life. Can he ever make it up to Sara? Can his daughter ever forgive him?  More importantly can he forgive himself?  

Follow his journey in this heartbreaking but uplifting story.


Garrison James had it all. A terrific home life and a loving family. Together, he and his wife built a successful ranch and
construction company. His world changed the day he lost his wife to cancer. He turned to the bottle and became a monster. Sara, his daughter, tried everything to please him.

After years of abuse, Sara’s aunt visits. She recognizes the abuse and removes Sara. The frail girl begins the delicate journey of find herself, while struggling to leave her father and the monster behind.

Despite the emotional and mental scars she carried, Sara manages to start a new life. She is finally happy.

A phone call changes everything.

Will Sara continue her new life? Can she face the monster, or will she find closure?


Twitter @sylvia_stein07


Links for Closure

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Joel T. McGrath, Author

Joel T. McGrath, Author
Kindle Scout Entry
Joel T. McGrath brings us SOMETHING ETERNAL, a story he has entered into Kindle Scout to win a five-year publishing contract. Currently he is focused on “building a fun, insightful audience” and hopes to attract readers to nominate SOMETHING ETERNAL on Kindle Scout.  McGrath describes SOMETHING ETERNAL as only he can (see his response to the first question), but he says it's a "fun read" that "almost anyone should enjoy."  He provides an excerpt following the interview.

A member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, McGrath is a four-time top 20% choice for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award with four different manuscripts. He is currently working with a Disney illustrator on a graphic novel.

Don't miss the giveaway opportunity available following the interview.

Q: How would you characterize SOMETHING ETERNAL? In what genre[s] would you place it? Is it paranormal? Romance?

Joel T. McGrath: A non-gender skewed, non-genre skewed, YA, magical-realism, modern-day setting that’s fun, action packed, full of great characters, crisp dialogue, steady pacing, and yes, the three aspects of love: lust, romance, and hate, all have a distinctly blurred residence in SOMETHING ETERNAL. (*Out of breath*)

Q: Who are the most likely readers of SOMETHING ETERNAL? Is it for young adults or all ages?

Joel T. McGrath: You know, I didn’t box it into a corner. I hate saying it’s for this age group or genre. It’s a fast, fun read packed with cool, fresh stuff almost anyone should enjoy.

Q: What makes SOMETHING ETERNAL unique?

Joel T. McGrath: Probably my upbringing, I was raised to believe I would never die. Since becoming a nurse years ago, I have, firsthand, watched death and suffering on a scale I wish I had not. It makes you think about life more often than I ever had before.

Q: How do you help readers engage with your characters? Why do we care what happens to them? Have you based them on real people?

Joel T. McGrath: Shocking things happen in life. Shocking things happen in SOMETHING ETERNAL. The characters are based off of things I have seen and heard throughout my life. Many are things I don’t necessarily agree with, but understand. Whether you love or hate my characters, you’ll find a piece of yourself in them, and that’s why you’ll care.

Q: Is there a “villain” in SOMETHING ETERNAL? Do you believe that you need to have conflict between a villain and a hero to have an entertaining story?

Joel T. McGrath: No. I have antagonists, there’s a difference. Conflict is a part of everyday life; it doesn’t need some great evil power or heroic figure, it just needs to be genuine. Villains and heroes are passé, but that doesn’t mean someone can’t act treacherously or bravely or even both at different times in their life.

Q: Do you write purely to entertain your readers or did you embed some messages in SOMETHING ETERNAL?

Joel T. McGrath: I’m not big on messages. I don’t think I’m smarter than other people, yet people are always trying to separate you from your own thoughts, mostly it’s people you trust. Your ability to think for yourself is the greatest gift you will ever have. That being said, yes, I want to open a world of possibilities you may have never considered when exploring SOMETHING ETERNAL.

Q: How helpful is humor to create characters and/or develop the plot?

Joel T. McGrath: It’s only helpful if it’s applicable. When in doubt, leave it out. If it’s the character’s defining quality, you had better be able to pull it off, because nothing will sink your plot or character faster than poorly timed humor. At the same time, I hate heavy-handed material, too. You’ll find dabs here and there in SOMETHING ETERNAL, kind of like salt at the dinner table. A little is good, but too much will kill you.

Q: How important is credibility in SOMETHING ETERNAL?  What makes the story believable?

Joel T. McGrath: Let’s face it, fiction is only as good as its ability to convince the audience that unbelievable things are possible. I’ve carefully constructed rules in SOMETHING ETERNAL, rules which I will not break. Certain concrete rules help lend credibility to any work of fiction.

My characters and plot make SOMETHING ETERNAL “believable.” Despite the excerpt and glossary, my characters and plot have more to offer than books where the first and last page reveal everything that will ever happen. Some of my characters can be complicated and contradictory, yet it’s their interactions with each other that make SOMETHING ETERNAL “believable.” 

Q: What’s next?

Joel T. McGrath: That is up to the readers. As you may know, SOMETHING ETERNAL is not for sale…yet. I’m hoping to win a five-year publishing contract. Those who read and nominate the excerpt from SOMETHING ETERNAL will get a FREE copy from Amazon should it win. I have other works planned, but I’m building a fun, insightful audience right now, and I’m completely focused on them.

Q:  Tell us about Joel T. McGrath. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Joel T. McGrath: Sad but true, I think about writing when I’m not writing. No, but seriously, I love the theatre, music, animals, and meeting different types of people. I guess I just try to find balance with whatever I’m doing because life goes by quickly.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you will find me over on Kindle Scout starting 7/1/16, and I also hope you will nominate SOMETHING ETERNAL while you’re there. All books selected for publication will have free copies distributed to the readers who nominated them.

About Joel T. McGrath

Joel T. McGrath is a proud member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. He is a four-time top 20% choice for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award with four different manuscripts. He has sold foreign rights to his first novel through a literary agent in Turkey. Joel is currently working with a Disney illustrator on a graphic novel and hopes to release portions of the work in summer 2017.


“Life without love is fire without flame.”

In our time, wonder has disappeared. Most believe in what is seen, others in what is heard, yet a few know something eternal guides them. 

When Vincent steals his older brother’s girl, Noemi, someone is going to die. Three lives, once ascending to greatness, are pitched into chaos. Jak, after months of searching, finds his younger brother, Vincent, while Noemi faces certain death. On one hand, Vincent can save her, yet others will die for their love.

Hearts prided on rational choices waver. Logic conflicts with reality, and emotion, not reason, decides the future.


Vincent eyed the six-foot, jumbled pile of wood nearby. Wiping his brow, he reached over, grabbing the unevenly weighted ax handle. He placed a block of wood on a large stump, and with two mighty hands, he raised the ax over top his head. His muscles expanded, heaving with lines of defined power. Vincent chopped down with a crack upon the block of wood, splitting it clear in half, and from the rubble, tossing the divided pieces airborne in opposed directions.   
At first, he had been too distracted by the loss of his vigor, his power, and source of his strength to notice Noemi’s sadness, but now he had restored a measure of balance within himself. Yet, he failed the first class of boyfriend 101, not listening, while trying to solve. Not hearing, thinking he understood, and dismissing any problem as tiny and illogical, yet with every rationale, Vincent missed the hidden, parched well of despair deep inside Noemi’s core.
And though she smiled, it killed her a little more each time he ignored, whether on purpose or by accident, the deprived, soft coal of her slow burning, resentful heart toward him.
Down in the swaying wheat fields, Noemi had plenty of time to think. Her face flushed, rosy red from the sun, she sauntered along, tending to the animals, while gathering a bouquet of aroma-filled flowers into her wicker basket. She plucked red clovers. An eruption of orange, black, and white spotted butterflies hovered circles around her. Their tiny, delicate wings fluttered up and down with gradual majesty. The butterflies slowly dispersed, their soft wings tickling her skin as they did. Yet one rested on Noemi’s index finger. She carefully brought her finger to eye level, smiling while examining its fragile wings. The butterfly soon flew off into the vast, blue sky along with the others. Her smile straightened. Her eyes dimmed. She looked at her surroundings and sighed.
Noemi knew something was wrong, she just did not understand why Vincent refused to admit it. Not only was her heart exposed, it was breaking. She felt as if her soul were eroding, that a void widened an empty space in her chest, which filtered into regret. There were mitigating factors. She was still young, and Vincent was younger than she was by two years still. Noemi had been so many things in her young life already. She was a warrior, an immortal, a force for good, a tool for evil, but she was a woman, and most of all, a teen trying to play house.
She had been engaged to Vincent’s older brother no less, but she tried to forget that tragic romance. Noemi felt treasured in Vincent’s arms, though her own desire turned hostile, with a lessening of passion in recent weeks. She missed her parents, she missed her life, and she missed the world. She was isolated from her friends. She felt drained by her relationship with Vincent, and she wondered if he knew that everything she had sacrificed was for him.

Author Links

Kindle Scout -- Includes instructions to readers
Twitter - @joeltmcgrath1

A Note from the Author:

To breathe life into this book, I am asking for your support. During the month of July, Something Eternal will be in the running for a Kindle Scout publication contract. My book needs your nomination. If Something Eternal wins, you’ll receive a free copy compliments of Amazon. Links for nominating Something Eternal will be made available in July during my month-long nomination period. Please check out the Kindle Scout program and discover how readers are making their voices heard.


5 $10 Gift Cards – Winner their pick of the 5 in the order they are drawn.  $10 Bath & Body Works GC,  1 $10 Amazon GC,  1 $10 Target GC, 1 $10 Starbucks GC, $10 Barnes & Noble GC