Blog Tour Day Six! Featuring THE UNEXPECTED SON by Shoban Bantwal


What happens when a woman who’s realized her dreams wakes up one morning to a shocking truth? Vinita Patil opens a mysterious letter from India that instantly turns her comfortable life upside down. It tells her an impossible story: she has a grown son in India, a child she was told was stillborn 30 years ago. Now his life may depend on her…

You can purchase Unexpected Son online:

Amazon –

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Independent Booksellers:

Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book,” commercial fiction about India, women’s issues & socio-political topics, with romantic & cultural elements. Her articles and stories have appeared in The Writer, Romantic Times, India Abroad, Little India, New Woman, and India Currents. Her short fiction has won honors/awards in contests by Writer’s Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines. Her debut book, THE DOWRY BRIDE, won the 2008 Golden Leaf Award.

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Blog Tour Day Five! Interview with Cherie Reich.

1. Tell us about your earlier writings and success in short stories. How did you get started and what did you learn that helped you write full length novels?

I feel like I started writing rather late. In 1999, I began roleplaying online. First, I wrote for characters from Phantom of the Opera and created my own characters into that world. Then, I became obsessed with Harry Potter and that wonderful magical world created by JK Rowling. I dabbled in writing Harry Potter fan fiction, as well, but I didn’t write my first original story until 2005. “Soul Survivor” was inspired by Poe’s “M.S. in a Bottle.” I wrote that story, let a few friends read it, and then did nothing with it until 2009. In 2006, I wrote “The Case of the Tom Cat.” It involved Sherlock Holmes and was written from Watson’s point of view. I let a few friends read it, and then my friend Christine encouraged me to try to publish it. In 2009, I sent it to a publisher, and they accepted it as long as I changed the characters, since Sherlock Holmes was still copyrighted. Oops. I made the changes, and it was briefly published until the company fell under. Yeah, I had one of those experiences. It didn’t stop me from writing and fueled my interest to continue. Since 2009, I’ve written nine published short stories, nine stories for Raven and the Writing Desk blog, and eleven short stories still looking for homes, and I’m currently working on two short stories this month that I plan to submit to anthologies.

With all those short stories, you have to feel like you’ve learned something in the process, and I have. Short stories are great to learn how to write when you write novels. Each chapter in a novel is a short story in a way. It needs characters, setting, plot, and conflict. Even if it is a cliffhanger chapter, it should offer a sense of some resolution. The characters grew in some small or major way through each chapter, just like in a short story. Unlike a novel, in short stories you have a tiny space to let people know your characters and put them in various situations. Short stories help a writer concise their words, leave out unnecessary back story, and focus on the task at hand.

I started my first novel in January 2009 before I wrote my third short story in May 2009. I’ve learned so much since the beginning, and I know when I go back to revise/edit that novel, I will have short stories to thank for teaching me about writing.

2. As a freelance proofreader, has this helped you hone your own writing skills and what advice would you give to someone who wants to proofread or edit in the future?

I haven’t been a freelance proofreader for long, but it does help hone in my own writing skills. When you are proofreading someone else’s manuscript, you pay attention not only to grammar and spelling, but also to the way words sound. Sometimes I have to read a sentence several times to get what the author is trying to say. If the sentence isn’t working for me, then I have to figure out a way to make it work. I’m more conscious of how I use words to make things clear. I try not to have my participial phrases dangling with the wrong word. I’ve gotten rid of even more dialogue tags because when you read them a lot in someone else’s manuscript, you realize how unnecessary they are. There are little, nitpicky things that you sometimes don’t realize in your own work but come forth when you are carefully proofreading another’s work. And, most of all, I try to think, “What can I do to make this manuscript better?” In the end, that’s the main part of being a proofreader or editor.

For those who are considering becoming a proofreader or editor, I do have some advice. For one, learn grammar and spelling. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. In high school, I took an advanced grammar course. I recently bought the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition to help with some things I still don’t know or completely understand. Learning another language can help your grammar more than anything. You learn what verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, etc. are, and you would be amazed at how many people can’t pick those things out of a sentence. I’ve studied five languages while in high school and college (Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Ancient Greek), and I have to say a lot of what I know of English grammar comes from them. Read, read, and read some more! Find critique partners. You learn and find more in another person’s work than you own most often. Join a writing group. I’m part of Valley Writers, a chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. We meet twice a month, and we critique each other’s work. You learn so much while finding out what other people think of a story. And, of course, write and get your own work critiqued or edited. You learn so much about your own faults when you have a good editor, and it makes you aware of those same faults in other people’s writing, so you can help fix it.

3. Who are your favorite authors and why do they inspire you?

What a wonderful question, Jenn! Let’s see….

Michael Crichton – He taught me the value of research. You need to know everything you can about what you are writing, but you don’t have to put everything you know into the novel. If you know, though, it’ll come across to the readers, and they’ll keep reading.

Stephen King – He taught me about horror and mystery and that aliens control everything we do. Oh, wait, that last one might not be right. *grins* I enjoy writing horror, and he is the master of it. I’ve learned about characters from him too. Scary things happen, but if you are scared for the character involved, then it makes it all so much more terrifying.

Aubrie Dionne – She’s actually one of my friends and critique partners. She has taught me so much of the beauty of words.

Lisa Rusczyk – She is one of my friends, too, and critique partners. She has such a distinctive voice, and she has a way to say a lot about a character with saying so little.

JK Rowling – What hasn’t she taught all of us? She inspires me to want to create magical worlds (even if they may be a bit more toward the Muggle side).

Christine Rains – She is also a friend and a critique partner. I wouldn’t be writing without her believing I had some talent. She helps me see the big picture in what I write and how to fix it if it isn’t working.

Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance proofreader, and library assistant. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her e-book Once Upon a December Nightmare was published in August 2010 by Wild Child Publishing. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Valley Writers. She was the third place winner in Roanoke Valley’s BIG READ writing contest. When she isn’t writing short stories, flash fiction, and blogging, she’s working on her three work-in-progress novels.

Once Upon a December Nightmare by Cherie Reich

Book Cover Art by Valerie Tibbs

They were only going out to dinner and a movie.

But when their plans go astray, friends Cassie, Mary, Denise, and James decide to take a detour down a lonely mountain road. A felled tree blocks their passage and forces them to turn around in a clearing containing a disturbing arrangement of four deer carcasses.

But when their truck breaks down, and their cell phones don’t work, they must brave the cold December air, nightfall, and a long hike. Yet this is the least of their troubles. Tension runs high between the four young friends…and they are not alone. Each step brings them closer to safety, but will they make it to the main road alive?

You can find Cherie online:





Raven and the Writing Desk blog:

Book Reviews blog:

Blog Tour Day Four! Interview with Leigh Ellwood.

1. With the recent surge of ebook publishers, especially Erotic fiction, how do your novels stand out from the others, what is your niche?

I like to think because I have taken some time building out a series, almost like a brand, I achieve some visibility in the genre. In my Dareville series, in particular, I don’t always focus on the same characters with each book – or genres, for that matter. The four major novels are contemporary with hetero couples, but there are shorts within the series that are M/M and F/F, and two shorts even have paranormal elements to them.

One other thing that makes the stories unique, and I do get chided on this, is that the stories aren’t written in order. Ideas for some stories in the series just seem to come to me and I have to get them down in book form. If one tale falls out of sequence I do my best to alert readers as to whether or not they need to read anything else for continuity. Hopefully, though, I can get back into order soon.

2. What is your motivation and inspiration to keep writing series novels?

For one, I still love the characters. I still desire to ask “what if” and engage them in new conflicts and adventures. I like the idea, too, of introducing new people to the mix and seeing what develops. As a mystery reader, I enjoy series books but tend to burn out after a few titles, and I believe it’s because I don’t see much change in the characters I keep reading. I suppose I write the way I do while holding the mindset of a reader who wants variety.

3. Tell us more about your platform, and how you use it to stay connected to readers, other writers, and the publishing industry.

I work in social media, so I definitely know it’s important to be active on Facebook and Twitter, as well as sites like Goodreads. Mainly, readers will find me on Twitter more often (@LeighEllwood) and are welcome to keep track.

I also try to blog regularly, lately about topics aside from writing. Just as I don’t normally follow blogs that are endless promotional posts, I do my best to keep the conversation moving.

Leigh Ellwood is an award-winning author of erotica and erotic romance fiction. Her first novel Truth or Dare was published by Phaze in 2004, and has since been made available in paperback at Borders bookstores around the US.

In addition to her many romance novels and stories, Leigh also writes the comic strip Ged’s Gals, an internet exclusive feature, and writes non-erotic mysteries as L.K. Ellwood. Her work has also appeared on the website.

Leigh welcomes reader mail at kspatwriter (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Leigh’s next romance, BOONE, will be out in January from DLP Books.

Boone spent his life in the service of others, pining for the chance to be his own man, and to love the young woman who easily held his heart. Just as it appears his dreams would come true, one moment in time shatters his resolve, perhaps his desire to continue living.

Growing up, Iona only thought of Boone as a servant, somebody to push around and blame when things went wrong. Now, as she ponders succeeding her father as leader of their community, she sees the value in Boone. A marriage of convenience to Cozelle’s best loved citizen may boost admiration for her come election time, but is Iona willing to sacrifice her heart for glory.

Furthermore, what would Boone say to learn that Iona was falling for him?

You can find Leigh on the internet: