Monday, November 30, 2009

VBT-Writers on the Move, December 2009 blog tour

This is the schedule for December's tour. All posts will be made on 1st December. If anyone is interested in joining our group of writers who all help to promote each other on an ongoing basis, then go to VBT-Writers on the Move and contact the group administrator, Karen Cioffi.

Dianne Sagan is hosting Lea Schizas

Karen Cioffi is hosting Heidi Thomas

Kathy Stemke is hosting Martha Swirzinski

Lea Schizas is hosting Brigitte Thompson

Nancy Famolari is hosting Kathy Stemke

VBT Writers on the Move is hosting Karen Cioffi

Crystalee Calderwood is hosting Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Katie Hines is hosting Stephen Tremp

Helena Harper is hosting Deborah Weed

Liana Metal is hosting Dianne Sagan

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is hosting Debra Eckerling

Gayle Trent is hosting Dana Donovan

Mayra Calvani is hosting Helena Harper

Marvin Wilson is hosting Mayra Calvani

Linda Asato is hosting Marvin Wilson

Stephen Tremp is hosting Gayle Trent

Elysabeth Eldering is hosting Katie Hines

Darcia Helle is hosting Linda Asato

Deborah Weed is hosting Liana Metal

Brigitte Thompson is hosting Nancy Famolari

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Be focused, be strong, be inspired, be grateful...

I wanted to share this message with others, so if you've ever felt like giving up, then take a look at Tony Robbins's 5 Keys To Thrive and Nick Vujicic's extraordinary video "Get Back Up". Nick Vujicic was born without any arms or legs and yet lives a happy and fulfilled life. Once you've seen this video, you will be inspired to never, ever give up and you will feel extraordinarily grateful for all the wonderful blessings in your life - it is very, very moving.

As I watched the video, I was vividly reminded of my own poem 'Thank you', which I've posted before but would like to post here again. It seems so applicable.


Thank you for the breath that moves my body
and for the limbs that carry my spirit.

Thank you for the heart that beats in my chest
and for the mind that creates it.

Thank you for the fingers curling my hand
and for the toes dancing on my feet.

Thank you for the conscious energy surging through every cell,
connecting me to the ever-present ocean of eternity.

Thank you for the touch of my skin
and the comforting caress of warm water.

Thank you for the stillness of early morning
and the invigorating slap of cold air.

Thank you for the new spring life filling my eyes
and the symphony of bird song filling my ears.

Thank you for this land we belong to,
for the plants that talk to us
and for our sisters, the trees.

Thank you for warm smiles of family
and helping hands of strangers, friends in disguise.

Thank you for the laughter vibrating through my body
and for the words expressing from my mouth.

Thank you for the excitement of inquiry
and the fascination of discovery.

Thank you for bright patterns of T-shirt and trousers
and soft cuddles of dressing gown sleeves.

Thank you for the sweet melon melting my tongue
and the rich wine warming my throat.

Thank you for the dying sun
and for the colours that pulse
in unison with my soul.

Thank you for imagination's unfettered flights
soaring through infinite wonder and joy
and for inspiration, the whispered language of a loving soul.

Thank you for this magical, wonderful,
joyfully abundant, never-ending now.

Copyright © Helena Harper

What are you grateful for?

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I was asked to write a poem for the remembrance service in my local community on 11th November 2009 and this is what I wrote - a poem to honour those who have fallen in the wars that have scarred and continue to scar our planet.

Today we remember,
today we show respect,
honouring those who've fallen,
the brave, courageous dead.
My heart bleeds for their sacrifice,
for the families who've cried,
for the pain and hurt
when their precious loved ones died.

How many more victims must there be
before the heartache and fighting can stop?
Before families lose the fear
of being wrenched apart
and children can enjoy every day
because human lives are no longer lost?

The wars continue,
the fighting lives on,
but my hope is for a future
where such things will have ceased
and all of mankind can finally live
in unity and peace.

Copyright © Helena Harper
If you have a tribute you'd like to share - poetic or otherwise - then please do!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Introducing Stephen Tremp and his 'Breakthrough' novel

This month the yahoo group VBT-Writers on the Move is celebrating its first anniversary. As part of this month's tour there are some wonderful prizes available to non-members, if they leave a comment on members' posts, so if you happen to drop by this post and you're not a member of the group, it'll be worth your while to leave a comment, as you may well be in line to win some great books written by members – and you will be given a choice! So what more could you want?

This month it is my pleasure to introduce Stephen Tremp and his first novel Breakthrough. I took the opportunity to first ask Stephen some questions.

What or whom inspires you to write?
I just see life and all of my experiences as one continuous action suspense story just waiting to be transferred to paper. I see “what if” scenarios throughout the day, regardless of where I am, what I’m doing, or who I’m with. I also draw much inspiration from Dean Koontz, Dan Brown, Stephen King, and the Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child tandem. I read a lot of fiction thrillers and felt I needed to identify a unique niche market that a large segment of the population could identify with and get excited about. I think I’ve found it in a world where the Information Age is moving at breakneck speed, and breakthroughs in areas of science that were once fodder for science fiction are now becoming a part of our everyday life. I believe I’ve found my calling, my gift to the world.

How did you get started?
I accepted a voluntary layoff after toiling over 10 years in the banking and finance industry and took advantage of the opportunity to write full-time. Breakthroughs in physics and technology are broadcast into millions of homes via numerous cable channels in layman’s terms and computer graphics anyone can understand. I thought I would capitalize on this particular niche and incorporate them into an action thriller series weaving together breakthroughs in physics and technology with greed, murder, and mayhem. Will these breakthroughs benefit mankind and be used to further civilization, or will they be stolen and used for greedy gain? I think we know the answer. That’s why the world needs a hero like my protagonist Chase Manhattan.

What did you find to be the most frustrating step/process of getting your first novel published?
I signed a non-exclusive contract with iUniverse, who was acquired by AuthorHouse. During the transition, much information was lost and it took about two or three additional months to bring Breakthrough to market. iUniverse (really, AuthorHouse) originally sent my unedited draft off to print. Can you imagine my response when I received the (ahem) final product? This was just the beginning of a series of comedies of errors. But iUniverse has terrific customer service. They fixed everything in a timely manner. So some of the sting of their mistakes (which were many) were soothed by awesome customer service reps.

Do you have an agent? If yes, how long did it take for you to find one?
I do not currently have an agent, but I am actively pursuing one. I use Publisher’s Marketplace, a site to look for reputable agents and view deals they have made over the past couple years. It took about three months of receiving feedback from various sources before I felt my query letter was professional. I even had my editor / proofreader go over it. I now understand why, after my initial effort of sending out my query letter, I received rejections for every one. I feel much more confident today and have just this past week sent out about 50 query letters to specific agents. I’m expecting big things in the near future.

How long did it take you to write Breakthrough?
Two years from start to finish. I thought I could accomplish everything in about eight months. But after the first editing/proof reading, I realized I still had a lot of research to perform and character development to perform. Then I had a second editor / proof reader go over the entire manuscript a second time. This was money well spent.

Are your characters based on yourself or anyone else you know?
The protagonist, Chase Manhattan (I may have to change his name to Chase Hawkings) is loosely based on me, only he’s a little bit taller than I am, a little bit better looking, a little faster, stronger, smarter, and much richer. The rest of the good guys (and girls) and bad guys (and girls) are partially made up and partially based on people I’ve known throughout my life.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?
Honestly, I don’t suffer from writer’s block, although there are times when I do write that I can’t use the material because it lacks substance or excitement. So I save the material and revisit the snippets in the future. I have a junkyard of sorts, and if I need a part, I go to my junkyard, grab what I need, then polish, refine it, and insert it.

Technically speaking, what do you have to struggle the most when writing? How do you tackle it?
I really don’t struggle very much as I love what I do. I love performing due diligence in my research. Much of the two years I spent writing Breakthrough was devoted to researching the latest and greatest in the realm of physics. I also had to research the Boston and Cambridge, MA area via the Internet as well as Boston police procedures. I also use Google Earth and yearly weather reports to describe a particular area. Honestly, there is so much information available at my fingertips, the biggest struggle I have is sorting through the wealth of information and eliminating irrelevant data.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get a book published?
The number one piece of advice I can give an aspiring author is to budget money for a competent editor / proofreader. Even editors who want to write and publish a book need an editor. This is the biggest, and one of the easiest, mistakes an author can make. Editors / proof readers are vital to your success. Vital is an appropriate word. It means: necessary for life. Don’t try to go it alone, even if you call yourself an editor. You need that second set of eyes to look over your manuscript before you forward it on for printing. You’re only as good as your editor / proof reader. Perception is reality, and the person buying your book will be the ultimate judge, not you, the author. I can say this with confidence, and hope to convince everyone I can to find a way to budget for a quality editor / proof reader. Most editors / proof readers will review your first 10 pages for free. I’m confident even the most experienced writers will be amazed at the results. Do what I did; pay for a few pages here, a few chapters there. Before you know it, your entire manuscript will be transformed into a work of art.

Please share with us your latest work-in-progress.
I am currently writing the next two installments of the Breakthrough trilogy entitled Opening and Escalation. These two books will pick up where Breakthrough left off and take the story on an international level. The setting is the United States, China, and the Middle East. These next books are very exciting as I use more discoveries and breakthroughs in physics in these books. Its too early to give away anything from these books, but for those who read Breakthrough, they will have a pretty good idea what direction Opening and Escalation will go. What’s awesome for me is that I do not have to not have to set my stories centuries in the future and use characters with pointy ears. Since mankind is on the cusp of discoveries and breakthroughs in just about every facet of our lives, I can use our modern day setting and not have to resort to using a science fiction genre. I’m also outlining an eerie Stephen King-type thriller entitled Murcat Manor set in Michigan.

Thank you so much, Steve.
It's been a pleasure, Helena. Thank you.

If that hasn't whetted your appetite for Steve's book, then I think this description of the book and the reviews it's been getting will!

Synopsis of Breakthrough
In a world where the Information Age is moving at breakneck speed, breakthroughs in areas of science that were once fodder for science fiction are now becoming a part of our everyday life. A group of graduate students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have stolen a breakthrough in opening and stabilizing Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or wormholes, as they are commonly known, that allows them to instantly transport people from one location to another. Their goal is to assassinate any powerful politician and executive controlling the world’s banking system that would use this technology for their own greedy gain rather than the advancement of mankind.

Meanwhile, in south Orange County, California, young Chase Manhattan, part of a new breed of modern-day discovery seekers, seeks to leave behind his life of danger and adventure and settle down as an associate professor of physics at University of California-Irvine. He also desires to build a lasting relationship with a beautiful girl he has not seen since high school. But within days, he uncovers the diabolical scheme on the other side of the country and finds himself the one person who can prevent more murders from happening and who can ultimately destroy the technology.

However, once the MIT group realizes Chase and his friends have the ability and motivation to not only take the breakthrough technology from them, but also thwart more killings, Chase soon finds himself in their cross-hairs, the latest target on their list of assassinations. As the death toll mounts, Chase and his friends must battle this group of ambitious graduate students from MIT on both coasts and in cyberspace in a desperate race to control or destroy this breakthrough that threatens to drastically change life as we know it.Breakthrough, the first book in the Adventures of Chase Manhattan series, begins with a bang and offers the audience exciting, new and diverse heroes and villains. The result is a fresh suspense thriller series, integrating elements of greed, betrayal, passion, lust, unconditional love, coming of age and hope. The action is swift, and there are numerous twists and turns that will keep the reader turning the pages and wanting more.
These are just two of the many 5 star reviews the book has been getting.

Review by Mike M: Posted January 15, 2009
A timely book that speaks to our generation with its technological breakthroughs and the struggle to use it for good or for evil. The concepts were well researched. What I liked most were the refreshing characters. Its time to read about new good guys with diverse personalities who somehow find a way to work together. Same with the bad guys. Lots of action with terrific character buildup combined with twists in the plot. Never a dull moment. I also liked the discriptions of Boston, MA and Orange County, CA. I've been to Orange County and appreciate the attention to detail in the cities and establishments the story takes place. Really looking forward to the next book. Rating: 5-stars

Review by Bill Buzzo: Posted March 13, 2009
Breakthrough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan is a well-written, fast-paced thriller that takes you on a wild ride of suspense and intrigue. Chase Manhattan is a modern day cowboy trying to save the world from people who would choose power, money, and fame over the common interest and overall good of the planet. The storyline grabs you, pulls you in, and leaves you wondering, wow! what if that could really happen?? I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to more adventures with Chase Manhattan. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading, especially those who enjoy thrilling suspense & action incorporated into modern day technology. Rating: 5-stars
And here is an excerpt from the first chapter.

'He carefully opened the door of the floor safe in the Salon Suite on the fifty-eighth floor of the Wynn Hotel, one of the newest five-star mega hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. Inside: a single item he had been hired to retrieve from an anxious and panicked research scientist in San Jose, Calif. The risks were high—not only for his client, but for himself. He understood that if he were caught, there would be no leverage for negotiation. He would be killed quickly, and his body dumped somewhere out in the middle of the Mojave Desert, like so many other unfortunate, nameless souls over the decades who now called this vast wasteland their final resting place.

There was also the risk that this item could again fall into the wrong hands. He was being paid handsomely to retrieve the stolen nanotechnology—a breakthrough in transferring information that could soon replace the use of wires and printed circuit boards in computers. This development was one of the Holy Grails of the Information Age, exponentially expanding the amount of information that could be stored and the speed at which it could be processed.

He needed to return the breakthrough information to its rightful owner quickly since the possibilities for this discovery were endless and could usher in a new paradigm for how data is input, stored, manipulated, and retrieved. In the wrong hands, it could be used by rogue nations to exponentially enhance the performance of weapons of mass destruction.

Reaching down, he took out the flash drive containing 585 pages of PDF documents outlining how to build this new breakthrough from the bottom up. The thieves who stole the flash drive had set off a small bomb in one of the bathrooms of his client’s three-story office building. Then they called, threatening to blow up the entire building—solely to create the diversion they needed to steal the flash drive. The operation was an inside job masterminded by a trusted colleague whose betrayal Chase’s client never foresaw.'

Breakthrough by Stephen Tremp
* Hardcover: 424 pages
* Publisher: (December 31, 2008)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 0595710700
* ISBN-13: 978-0595710706
* Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches

Available here:
$29.95 List price
$23.96 Online price
$21.56 Member price(Save 28%)

Readers can catch up with Stephen on his blog