Friday, November 11, 2022

Visions of Death: The Music Department Murders

The first three episodes are free to read! 

Visions of Death: The Music Department Murders  takes place during the summer of 1935, the build-up to WW II is heating up, swing music is blasting from the airwaves, and seventeen-year-old, Ruby St. Claire is a rising star of Weston's music department with her swinging quartet. 

Next stop, the Roseland Ballroom Competition. She's helped the police find murder suspects since she was thirteen with her extrasensory vision, but after taking a break to focus on her music, the images of death have returned. Girls from school are disappearing. Ruby has to act fast and find their killer even when all the signs point to her. 

Click the photo to take you to the story!
Cover created with Canva.

In the author's notes at the end, I've added a couple of historical events that were happening at the time and influenced the story.  There are historical parallels to the current build-up of the authoritarian political climate we find ourselves in now. Not only in the US, as I thought when I began this project, but all over the world. We much squash white supremacy!   

After watching the Authors Guild Foundation's webinar about serialized fiction, I was inspired to try it. Have a look.

If you like it, please give the episode a thumbs up!     THANK YOU! <3 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Unmoving Sky is Now Available in Paperback (Again)!


Just click the book cover and you'll be taken to Barnes & Noble or  HERE for select booksellers and most online libraries. You can also request that your library carry it. 

 Contemporary Young Adult Thriller for Readers 13 - 18.

eBook:  9798201298234   $2.99

 Print:  9798201285258  $9.99 

There's Nothing Darker Than the Woods Until You Meet Your Worst Fear 

Jackson Bower has much on his mind lately. His younger brother hasn't been the same since his mother's death. His father's drinking is out of control. 
Then there's his girlfriend and the grief that ties them together even as it threatens to drive them apart. 
 He distances himself, hoping for a little perspective at the family lodge. 
But when his father gets drunk and dangerous, he and his brother Artie escape into the woods. 
 Night creeps in, and the rains come fast. Artie slips down a ravine. Wounded, Artie and Jackson seek shelter in a cave, only to find someone else already taking refuge there.
 A desperate man with plans to destroy their town. Jackson and his wounded brother must get out of the cave and make it over the mountain in time to warn everyone. Without getting them both killed.

THANK YOU! <3 <3 <3 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Q + A with Middle Grade Author, Elly Swartz!

Hello, Everyone! Meet Elly Swartz, middle-grade author of “Dear Student”.  Releases Today!  

Huge thanks, Karen, for connecting and having me on your blog. Most grateful! 

You’ve written so much heart into these characters, and in how Autumn deals with her struggles, compounded with her worries about tiny animals being lab experiments, her social anxiety, a missing father, taking care of a little sister, being caught between two opposing friends, and the first day of middle school! Quite the setup. 

1. Your young characters have difficult problems to solve. What speaks to you about this age? Were you ever concerned about topics being too tough? 

I love this age! It’s an age of honesty and discovery. A time when my readers are finding their voice. And themselves. As for tough topics, they are part of kids’ lives. And the most important way I can honor my readers is to talk about these topics. Because the more we talk about them, the more readers feel seen, heard, and respected. And the more we break down the barriers to having these important discussions. In my heart, tough topics need empathy, kindness, conversation, and compassion. Not silence. 

2.  It’s the first day of middle school for Autumn, she suffers from social anxiety, and her father, who’s in the Peace Corp reminds her to find Fearless Fred. What was your Fearless Fred growing up? How did you find yours?

I think we all have our own Fearless Fred – the part of each of us that fear can’t boss around. And like Autumn, I often found that part of me through writing. Connecting to the feelings I was sometimes too shy or worried or anxious to say out loud. 

3.  Autumn meets Logan, her polar opposite, she’s outgoing, courageous, and even though both her parents live at home, Logan’s mother is absent most evenings doing activist work. Gone, like Autumn’s dad. Growing up did you have a bestie who was your polar opposite? 

In what ways? Ha! I love this. I did have a bestie. We were a lot alike—our hearts valued the same things – friendship, family, and each other, but yes, we were different, too. Maybe not polar opposites, but we each had our strengths. She was bold when I was scared. I was compassionate when she was hurting. But truly what I remember most, is that we were always there for each other. No matter what. And we laughed a lot. We made a great team. And I am grateful every day for her friendship then and now. 

4.  Autumn’s mother is a vet, and she helps take care of her little sister. Their relationship is very sweet. Living above the veterinarian’s office, they encounter all varieties of pets, including the iguana found lying wounded in the street. The culprit is the boy riding the blue bike. He accompanies Autumn to the vet’s office, then leaves mysteriously. When you sit at your computer, struggling with a scene, what do you choose as your mascot, avatar, spirit animal? 

Oooh. This is such a fun question! I think my spirit animal is a dog and my mascots are my pups, Baxter Bean and Lucy. They remind me to be present. And playful. They love me up when I’m feeling stuck. And help me celebrate with a long walk when I happily get to the end. 

5.  The boy’s name is Cooper, he’s a new student, but Autumn’s new bestie, Logan, who’s all kinds of cool, thinks he’s weird and Autumn’s conflicted about the three of them hanging out together. It’s hard making new friends and she doesn’t want to blow it. A tough social situation for any age. How do you come up with such heartfelt conflicts? Any tips for writers? 

Agreed, Autumn finds herself in a tough social situation. Stuck between two friends who don’t get along. I feel this situation is one many can relate to. And a situation I have been in. More than once. So, my advice to writers would be to write the stories that matter to you. That have touched your life and your heart. Write what’s important to you. Because in those moments you connect personally and authentically with your story. And with your reader. That is truly when the magic happens. 

 6.  Autumn’s writing a story, mirroring her life, a place she’s free to express her thoughts. When there’s a call for a Dear Student columnist, an anonymous position at school, she applies and to her surprise, gets the position. It might be her one thing, her father always asking her to find. She finds it’s easier being honest and true to her heart when people don’t know it’s you. Have you ever written an anonymous advice column? If so, did anyone know it was you? 

 I haven’t, Karen, but I’d love to! So, if you’re reading this and want to give me a shot, I am all in! 

7.  Logan’s fired up when she discovers the beauty supply in town tests on animals, like Autumn’s guinea pig at home. This is super important to Autumn, but now she doesn’t know what to do. Cooper’s mother works there. I was eager to see how the kids would resolve this complex problem, how they might triumph. What is your experience with animal rights? 

I love this part of the story. And how Autumn ultimately resolves the conflict. (No spoilers I promise.) There was a time when my beagle Lucy got into poison like Mr. Magoo did in the story. And like that scenario, we were terrified and never found out where it came from. But it did get me thinking. 

And when the opportunity to write about animal rights came, I was excited. I love pets, have had many in my life, and, like Autumn and Logan, would do anything to protect them. Here are a few of my pets and grandpets through the years! Look at those sweet faces. Wouldn’t you do what you could to make sure they were okay!

I loved the nod to Ruth Bader Ginsberg and to the beloved middle-grade book, The Vanderbeekers Of 141 Street. The Fearless Fred’s Famous Whoopie Pies recipe at the end looks yummy! Thanks for the substitutions, because like me, and so many of my friends, we have those food sensitivities too. 

Thanks, Karen. I love weaving in books I adore and people I so admire. Hence the nod to Ruth and the Vanderbeerkers by Karina Yan Glaser. As for the whoopie pies, yay! It was such fun making them. And like you, I have lots of dietary restrictions, so it was important to me that all readers get the opportunity to make Fearless Fred’s Whoopie Pies. 

 8. Lastly, If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?   

         Believe in yourself, you’ve totally got this!

photo credit: Greg Swartz 

ABOUT ELLY SWARTZ ~ Elly Swartz grew up in Yardley, Pennsylvania. She studied psychology at Boston University and received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Elly lives in Massachusetts and is happily married with two grown sons, a beagle named Lucy, and a pup named Baxter Bean. Finding Perfect, called “a clear, moving portrayal of obsessive-compulsive disorder” by Publishers Weekly, was her debut novel. She is also the author of Smart Cookie and Give and Take, novels for middle-grade readers. Read more about Elly on her website:

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Kindle Unlimited ~ Speculative Short Fiction!

Originally published in 2018 in the Anthology Alien Dimensions, THE RETURN, a 45-minute read is now available on Kindle Unlimited.  

Earth: 22X. The last of the dreamers have been brought back from death, but only those who can hold onto memories will create a new future for a dying species.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Unmoving Sky Returns!

With a NEW COVER! 


It was a heavy blow when my publisher closed in 2019, two years after the print edition of The Unmoving Sky was released into the world. All the momentum was thwarted when people couldn't order my book. I had to loan out my copies. Haha. 

So, I'm happy to report those who wanted to read the story of two young brothers coming to terms with their father's pain and their own can once again! I'm not sure if I'll have copies of print available. I'll have to wait and see. 

The link in my title will take you there. And HERE. Barnes and Noble + iBooks + Kobo & Various other online retailers and LIBRARIES  Overdrive, Hoopla, and Bibliotheca ~ are coming very soon and you'll be able to read my book for FREE!    

Free.    I LOVE the Public Library.   

All the Hearts. 

And thanks to the good people at Draft2Digital for helping to make it so easy to take control of my story once again.    

A link to your favorite online bookstores and libraries:

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Book Review: Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber


Taking Up SpaceTaking Up Space by Alyson Gerber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you to Wunderkind for an ARC of this book.

An honest and emotional portrayal of a young girl struggling with the ways her body is changing and what this means to her life’s passion, basketball.

When 12-year-old, Sarah doesn’t hit her marks on the court, she’s sure it because she isn’t eating healthy, or what her mother terms as healthy. But Sarah’s mother has had her own issues with food.

Sometimes she forgets to make dinner. Or pick up snacks for her sleepover, or stock the refrigerator. But she’s always there to watch Sarah’s games and they love reading and decoding detective stories.

Half of Sarah’s teammates suspect something (and they aren’t very nice about it) when she isn’t eating, but it’s her BFF that steps in and tells their coach.

When the boy she crushes on asks to be her partner in a cooking competition, she learns how much she enjoys cooking and she can take control of what she eats and stand up for what she needs at home in order to feel safe and confident. 

Sarah comes to an understanding about food, that no food is bad. It just is. 

Within this book, are many important conversations about food, body image, and self-worth, written in a  natural and compelling, heartfelt voice. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Writing Management, a Year After Covid-19

It's been a while since I've posted on my blog. It's been a hectic year for most of us, a year of loss, heartbreak, and fear. A descent into the unknown. 

Having faith was difficult. Faith that I'd return to my regular writing schedule. I have not, nor do I expect to return to my pre-covid routine. It's been difficult to find a space in time for myself. 


My husband and I live in New York City and share a small apartment with our two young adults ( a large dog and a cat), and both were frustrated and disheartened with the lockdown aka "Pause' in which Governor Cuomo termed. Alas, the end of the tunnel is in view. 

I've been unable to find uninterrupted time due to our small business, a jazz club (you can read my previous post ) housed in a historic venue. After lockdown, we improvised and became an outdoor coffee house/cafe. Fresh-squeezed juices. Chagachinos. Local coffee. Pastries from Grandaisy in Tribeca. Our nightclub always had a piston coffee machine, even before Starbucks. My husband spoiled me with his machines and dark roast. 

Our sons helped at the cafe (no longer miserable), they learned new skills as baristas. My BFF was happy to join in and likened running a cafe to a housewife on steroids. I thought it was the perfect analogy. After seven days a week for much too long, before extra help arrived, I couldn't focus on writing, not knowing what would happen to our business and my hours were all over the place. I was making food for the cafe when I left. Homework. Meanwhile, my mind was reeling, plotting how to return to the new normal.

I decided on a simple book edit. Not a revision, but an edit. This I figured was all my time allowed, without the stress of wanting to do more. Because apparently, I'm often unsatisfied with the writing work I've managed in a day. It's never enough. (It's hundreds of pages! Let's go!" my inner taskmaster says.) And this was when I had five hours of daily writing time. 

I was also waiting to hear back about an R-n-R. 

Back in November 2019, I sent in my second Revise and Resubmit to the requesting agent and she warned me it would be a long time, she was slow. I already knew this having finished R-n-R #1 for this agent. She seemed great and I agreed, (at the time) with her suggestions. The historical fantasy had already been revised from its first draft that was omniscient, then third limited past tense, with two POVs, and then 1 POV present, but I've lost track. 

I edited another manuscript (not ready to tackle the big revision of the latest draft completed on March 1, 2020.) I queried literary agents. Not one bite after ten sends. I decided to hold that project. I had a realization reading a previous comment from another agent who read the third POV version. She didn't care for the other POV character but she liked the MC's voice and loved the premise. So after three or so years, I realized she was RIGHT and I began revising the historical fantasy back to 3rd POV, past-tense and I cut the other POV character's scenes. But since it's a bit of a whodunnit (genre-mashup, really) I left the chapter scenes in third-objective POV. 

And Yesterday I finished! The manuscript is back where I want it. Just a few more tweaks and it's ready to query. (Again!) I reached out to the agent, still "reading" my second R-n-R, and told her I was returning the manuscript to my original design, and while she finally passed, she thought my idea was wise. That was encouraging.  

I'm starting to carve out time for writing at other times of the day, restructuring and organizing. I'm not there yet. For years I was an early morning writer and I prefer this. Going from dreaming to writing. Ah, bliss. 

Now with our outdoor cafe that's usually a jazz club, moving indoors soon (after construction), my schedule will be in flux once again. I may manage better if I keep flexibility in mind. 

And YES, absolutely-- I am VAXXED. Our entire team is. Otherwise, we wouldn't open indoors. 

Join us!  We have Brazilian Music on Sundays from 4:00-7 PM! More to come. 
Follow us on Instagram @ZincBar