25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants by Steven Wells Hicks

25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants (& A Dozen Damned Good Places to Drink), 25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants (& A Dozen Damned Good Places to Drink), by Steven Wells Hicks, was published in December 2014. It is available for sale on Amazon in eBook and paperback.

 

SYNOPSIS:
How can food-loving visitors to New Orleans find “real deal” cuisine in a city that offers them the choice of several thousand restaurants? Before becoming a full-time “local” in 2014, food critic and novelist Steven Wells Hicks spent forty years as an increasingly frequent visitor in search of the stories, people and dishes that make New Orleans one of America’s legendary culinary playgrounds.
Here he tells you about twenty-five of the more memorable places he’s uncovered, from white tablecloth temples of cuisine to a lunchroom where boiled crawfish are served on yesterday’s newspaper from a paper bag. You’ll discover an old Mafia roadhouse in the boondocks, a fried chicken joint in an iffy part of town and even a greasy spoon where the main course is attitude. And that’s just for starters.
Plus, because Man cannot live by French bread alone, Hicks point you toward a dozen of the city’s both famous and infamous watering holes.
Unlike most conventional guidebooks featuring single-paragraph hype pieces singing the praises of every restaurant in the city, Hicks takes a novelist’s approach to reviewing restaurants, opting instead for write leisurely pieces that not only tell you what’s on a restaurant’s plate, but also in a city’s culinary heartbeat.
Says Hicks in the book’s preface, “Ultimately this book is a valentine, sometimes left-handed but hopefully right-minded, to a city and the people of an industry that have simultaneously provided me with a lifetime of sensuous fulfillment while wreaking untold havoc with my waistline and the balance on my American Express card.”
Pulling no punches and pouring on the literary hot sauce when called for, Hicks has written a book that has become required reading for serious food fanciers planning their first or fifty-first pilgrimage to the undisputed “Food Mecca on the Mighty Mississippi.”

 

EXCERPT: 
Pascal’s Manale
Considering that the provenance of New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp was a comedy of errors, it should come as no surprise that no one could agree upon the best way to cook it, either.
The name is misleading, the history appears to keep revising itself, no one seems to agree on how the dish is prepared and the most commonly asked question is, “What’s a Manale, anyway?”
Generally regarded as one of the most iconic dishes in the entire New Orleans Creole-Italian repertoire, Barbecue Shrimp has nothing to do with barbecue in the way you probably know it. There’s no hickory or mesquite, the sauce isn’t tomato based and sweetened with either brown sugar or molasses, and people in Kansas City and Memphis (and Texas and the Carolinas) don’t argue about whose is best.
This much is known, or at least widely accepted, or maybe suspected: New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp came into being sometime during the mid-1950s in the kitchen of an Italian family restaurant named Pascal’s Manale. Opened in 1913 by one Frank Manale, the Napoleon Avenue restaurant eventually found its way into the hands of Manale’s nephew, Pascal Radosta, who decided to rename the place after both of them.
Legend has it that on that fateful evening in the 1950s, one of the regular customers named Vincent Sutro had just returned from a business trip to Chicago and started singing the praises of a dish he’d eaten there that, as far as he could remember, had shrimp, butter and a lot of pepper in it. He asked Pascal’s chef, Jake Radosta, if he could make some, and the chef said he could try.
Chef Radosta went into the kitchen, cooked up something that was as close as he could get to the fellow’s vague description and waited while the man tasted it. After a taste or two, the man said it wasn’t what he’d eaten in Chicago.
It was better.
Owner Radosta decided to put it on the menu, where it’s stayed ever since. No one knows where the name came from. One guess was that this all happened at the point in time when the suburban backyard barbecuing craze was at its zenith and, despite being a misnomer, the name was coined to cash in on the fad. Whether that’s true or not, there is a delicious irony about a misrepresented recipe being given a misleading name and still becoming a New Orleans classic.
Considering that the provenance of New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp was a comedy of errors, it should come as no surprise that no one could agree upon the best way to cook it, either.
There are two leading schools of thought on the dish’s preparation, and the advocates of each are pompously cocksure that they are correct. The first is that all the ingredients are mixed in a baking dish and put in the oven, and it would not surprise me to learn that this is how the dish was originally prepared in the kitchen at Pascal’s Manale. The alternative belief is that the whole process is accomplished on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet.
I have a sneaking hunch both factions are correct, based upon an item I read several years ago that claimed the dish’s widespread popularity actually occurred when Paul Prudhomme reworked it for the Brennan family as they prepared to open Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter. Prudhomme is a notoriously fast chef well known for cooking with blazing heat at high speeds, and it seems logical that the creator of blackened redfish would rethink a time-honored recipe for ease and speed of preparation in a commercial kitchen.
In writing this, I wanted to be as accurate as possible, so I went to the Internet to do a comprehensive recipe search. There are dozens of them, including numerous ones claiming to be the original recipe, and these “authentic” guidelines cite both cooking techniques. Well, of course they do. All things considered, it wouldn’t be real New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp if people could actually agree on its preparation.
But no matter which method of preparation is used, the results are so similar that it takes a true culinary maestro to tell which method was employed. The four driving, traditional flavors are fresh Louisiana shrimp, an exceedingly generous amount of pepper, garlic and enough butter to make a cardiologist scream uncle. Varying recipes call for shrimp stock, Worcestershire, Italian herbs, mint sprigs, Tabasco, white wine, cream and even tomatoes. It is a remarkably flexible dish that readily accommodates any number of personal touches.
There is some disagreement (of course there is) of whether the Louisiana shrimp should be cooked beheaded, peeled and deveined or intact so the fat contained in the shrimp heads can be incorporated into the sauce.
Essential to any preparation is an abundance of crusty French bread to sop up the peppery butter sauce.
When you order barbecue shrimp at Pascal’s Manale, a bib is de rigueur. Peeling the shrimp is part of the process, and before the empty plate is taken away, your fingers will be butter-soaked, and possibly wet from licking them (providing no one is looking). Of course you’ll look silly; every adult in a bib looks silly, so get over it. One of the latter meals my late father and I had together was at Pascal’s Manale, and all these years later, I treasure the memory of our laughing and pointing at each other in our stupid bibs.
Despite the restaurant’s age and success, it still retains the aura of a neighborhood, family place. Located on a corner in a shaded, residential area, Pascal’s is set in an unobtrusive building on Dryades Street, which also features an old-line steak house named Charlie’s, and an unusual structure originally built by the Mexican consulate that now is home to the city’s most discreet bed-and-breakfast, complete with a clothing-optional swimming pool.
From the street, you enter a large, wood-paneled waiting room that also houses the restaurant’s cocktail area and oyster bar. It’s a friendly, lively area, which is good because some people spend a considerable amount of time there. Like many New Orleans neighborhood places, Pascal’s has an unwritten policy of moving guests, even those with reservations, down the line when an old friend or regular decides to drop in – and with nearly a century under its belt, the restaurant has an impressive number of friends. While the waits are usually not inordinately long, a little patience is recommended, as are a cocktail and a dozen of the city’s better oysters.
There are two medium-sized dining rooms in the place, the motif of one leaning toward sports, and the other seemingly planned to be a “nice” family place, but somehow it ended up looking like the parlor in a cathouse.
Beyond the barbecue shrimp, the menu doesn’t stray far from the predictable — some veal dishes, a couple of steaks, seafood grilled or fried. While the shrimp is certainly the headliner at Pascal’s, the other dishes are treated as anything other than afterthoughts. It’s a good kitchen, the kind anyone has the right to expect of a place that’s had nearly a century to work out the kinks.
While the dinnertime mood at Pascal’s is jovial, the bibs ludicrous, and the food quality normally hovering somewhere between very good and excellent, lunch at the restaurant offers one of the city’s exceptional bargains. A small loaf of French bread is hollowed out, filled with barbecue shrimp swimming in its peppery butter and served as a poor boy sandwich. While bibs are recommended, I’ve managed the sandwiches with a number of napkins and minimal wardrobe damage.
Summarizing Pascal’s Manale is a challenge, at least for me. The food is very, very good, but I can tick off a dozen places that offer better cooking without breaking a sweat. There’s a reason for that, and it afflicts several of the city’s more legendary kitchens. For more than fifty years, Pascal’s has been able to claim itself the originator of New Orleans barbecue shrimp, but with that title comes a tacit obligation not to vary one iota from the recipe as originally conceived and developed. In the meantime, innovative chefs have enjoyed an open field in which to tinker with and tweak the dish, and this has doubtlessly led to some improvements on the original.
Such a fate is not new; it has befallen such venerable culinary institutions as Oysters Rockefeller and soufflé potatoes at Antoine’s, the muffuletta as created by Central Grocery Company, the charbroiled oysters developed at Drago’s and many others. It begs the question, at what point does a dish as originally developed become a museum piece, a culinary curiosity overshadowed by the creation of a chef enjoying the freedom to explore and innovate? The truth is, there’s often a very real difference between a dish that’s been invented and one that’s been perfected, but they are both of interest to the curious epicure.
For whichever reason you’d consider a visit to Pascal’s Manale, historical or hedonistic, chances are you won’t be disappointed.
Pascal’s Manale
Creole Italian
1838 Napoleon Avenue (at Dryades St.)
Lunch, Monday – Friday
Dinner, Monday through Saturday
All major credit cards accepted
Reservations strongly recommended
Telephone: (504) 895-4877
Website: www.neworleansrestaurants.com/pascalsmanale

 

AUTHOR BIO:
Novelist Steven Wells Hicks (Destiny’s Anvil and The Gleaner) spent the past forty years driving down Interstate 55 from Mississippi in search of the best food and drink New Orleans has to offer. Along the way he not only took notes, he took names.
What started as irreverent reviews for friends and relatives grew into a widely followed blog site, and ultimately a series of five guidebooks that regularly found their way to the top of Amazon.com’s lists of best-selling books about dining in New Orleans.
For 2015, Hicks combed through his inventory of articles and observations and redacted them to the twenty-five restaurants and twelve saloons that would lead readers to the “definitive” New Orleans dining and drinking establishments.
Born in Omaha and a product of Phillps Exeter Academy (’68) and Coe College (’72), Hicks spent most of his career in advertising, where his focus was on tourism, hospitality industries and politics. In 1977, he wrote his first paid restaurant review for the late Jackson magazine.
Buoyed by the 2014 success of Destiny’ Anvil, Hicks and his wife, nationally acclaimed jewelry designer Lil McKinnon-Hicks, pulled up their Mississippi stakes and moved to New Orleans. They have since settled into a purple house in the city’s Algiers Point Historic District, where they are regularly interrupted by a steam-powered calliope on the celebrated sternwheeler Natchez.
To learn more, go to http://stevenwellshicks.com/
Connect with Steven on Goodreads and Twitter.

 

Rene Steinhauer Recounts His Experience Helping Survivors Of The Haiti Earthquake In New Book ‘Saving Jimani’

Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti EarthquakeDecember 16, 2014 (STOCKTON, CA) – Rene Steinhauer, RN, EMT-P, is an accomplished nurse with skilled disaster training experience. He has practiced medicine on all seven continents including working as a flight nurse in Antarctica, a combat medic in Iraq and a disaster manager in Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, the Haiti Earthquake, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Most recently he worked as the Chief Nurse in an Ebola Treatment Center in Liberia.
Rene Steinhauer recently published Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake, a book about his experiences working as a nurse and disaster manager to help survivors of the Haiti Earthquake.
“Saving Jimani is so much more than the reporting of life and death in the Haiti earthquake. It is a story of raw human emotion, grappling with the reality of hundreds if not thousands of people with broken bodies and spirits seeking medical help in an area where there was none. It is the story of heart break, faith, failure and triumph,” says radio talk show host Leslie Carol Botha.
Saving Jimani is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Amazon Reviews:
“This is an insider perspective from someone who did not need to be there but chose, in his role as a volunteer disaster medic, to take part in the mission to save lives.”
“This book provides a glimpse into what is experienced and felt emotionally by disaster volunteers who willingly go to places in the world where everyone else is trying to flee.”
“Rarely does a book capture the true inside story of a mega disaster and the advance medical team sent to “hold the fort” until other rescue teams and supplies are mobilized. Utilizing his past military skills and disaster experience, Rene takes charge and quickly organizes a cohesive team in the midst of chaos. With everyone working twenty hour shifts, chaos is quickly transformed into a smooth operation and countless lives are saved.”
To learn more, go to www.renesteinhauer.com
For further information, to request a review copy of Saving Jimani, or to interview Rene Steinhauer, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at info@bookpublicityservices.com or 805.807.9027.
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D. A. Karr Announces The Release Of Her Latest Novel ‘Link,’ A Sci-Fi Mystery Thriller

Link by D.A. KarrDecember 9, 2014 (San Diego, CA) – D. A. Karr announced today that her latest novel Link is now available for sale on Amazon. Link is a sci-fi mystery thriller. It is set in the year 2800, in a future apocalyptic world where time jumping becomes a means to control the human race.
Link is suspenseful, intriguing, and action filled,” says D. A. Karr. “Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler fans will enjoy reading this book.”
Synopsis:
As the Earth shifts on its axis, mankind is caught in a war of survival and time. Imprisoned in this time war, Captain John Garrick and the N.S.T.E.A. Phoenix become a pawn between technology, humans, and what’s left of civilization.
No amount of careful planning can prepare the time jumpers for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move.
As the N.S.T.E.A seals a deal to deliver time technology to the notorious outlaw, Menser, Garrick plots to undermine the N.S.T.E.A.
Garrick doesn’t live by the rules, and he knows one thing is for sure: kill or be killed.
Technology becomes the enemy and time an illusion as Phoenix’s crew prepares for the inevitable – a fight to the finish.
About the Author:
D.A. Karr has been writing books and screenplays for the last ten years. Her experience and employment includes firefighting in the U.S. Forest Service, law enforcement, IT engineering, and several years with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center San Diego (SSC San Diego). She has a Master’s in software engineering.
D.A. Karr enjoys writing in a variety of genres including sci-fi, thriller-mystery, historical fiction, and screenplays. She is the author of several books including Link, The Legend of Pendyne, and The Racehorse with Magic Shoes.
To learn more, go to http://www.racehorsewithmagicshoes.com/
For further information, to request a review copy of Link, or to interview D. A. Karr, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at info@bookpublicityservices.com or 805.807.9027.
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Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake by Rene Steinhauer

Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake
Rene Steinhauer, RN, EMT-P, is an accomplished nurse with skilled disaster training experience. He has practiced medicine on all seven continents including working as a flight nurse in Antarctica, a combat medic in Iraq and a disaster manager in Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, the Haiti Earthquake, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Most recently he worked as the Chief Nurse in an Ebola Treatment Center in Liberia.
Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake is about Rene Steinhauer’s experiences working as a nurse and disaster manager in the Haiti Earthquake. It was published in October 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

Synopsis:
The earth shakes, buildings fall, hundreds of thousands of people die in minutes.  Others lie broken and infected in the streets of Haiti begging, and waiting for help. An empty orphanage is the battleground for life and death in the Haiti Earthquake. Two hours from civilization, a small team of doctors, nurses and paramedics frantically struggle to save two thousand patients as the hope of survival dwindles minute by minute. The battle has just begun. And the medical team asks, “Can we save any of these people?”
Managing the twelve-person team, Rene Steinhauer, a weary combat medic, stands witness to human suffering greater than he ever encountered in Iraq.  Rene partners with Danya Swanson, a “daddy’s girl” with a nursing degree who thinks she has what it takes to save the day and suddenly finds herself as the disaster manager for Jimani. Rene dries his tears and gets up to fight in a brutal battle where amputated arms and legs are piled up until somebody, anybody, has time to drag them to the fire pit. The battle rages, hopes are raised and dashed and thousands of lives hang by a thread.  Can an inexperienced nurse, with no disaster experience, really save Jimani?

 

Reviews:
“Saving Jimani is so much more than the reporting of life and death in the Haiti earthquake. It is a story of raw human emotion, grappling with the reality of hundreds if not thousands of people with broken bodies and spirits seeking medical help in an area where there was none. It is the story of heart break, faith, failure and triumph.”
This is an insider perspective from someone who did not need to be there but chose, in his role as a volunteer disaster medic, to take part in the mission to save lives.”
“This book provides a glimpse into what is experienced and felt emotionally by disaster volunteers who willingly go to places in the world where everyone else is trying to flee.
Rarely does a book capture the true inside story of a mega disaster and the advance medical team sent to “hold the fort” until other rescue teams and supplies are mobilized. Utilizing his past military skills and disaster experience, Rene takes charge and quickly organizes a cohesive team in the midst of chaos. With everyone working twenty hour shifts, chaos is quickly transformed into a smooth operation and countless lives are saved.”

 

Excerpt from Saving Jimani: 
Third degree burns to the face and chest are life threatening. However these types of burns also suggest an inhalation injury to the lungs. People with burns like this do not live. They certainly do not live without the best care from a burn center. The fact that he was alive six days after the earthquake was an absolute miracle.
The story about how Eric Louis ended up in the back of the pickup truck was never clear. Somehow his wife found him and carried him for miles before someone put him in the truck. He had been outside the hospital parking lot for most of the day. I called for a stretcher and some local medics helped us bring him into the parking lot.
Chris and I immediately started a more detailed assessment. Normally, with such an injury, the lungs would be damaged and full of fluid. His lungs seemed to be in great shape. During the initial treatment of a burn, massive amounts of IV fluid would be pumped into the burn patient to keep his kidneys from failing. This had not occurred, and we weren’t sure if his kidneys had already failed. If they had, there was no chance of survival for this man. If the lung damage or kidney failure were not going to kill him, his next likely cause of death would be infection. Eric was not likely to live more than a day or two.
The local hospital doctors said that they would not be able to care for him. We could have tried to find a place in Port-au-Prince where he might receive medical care, but at the time, we didn’t know where to find functional hospitals, field hospitals or medical resources. However, we had the Puerto Rican team, which was ready and able to help. Since we had more doctors than patients, it made sense to take Eric Louis and his wife back to Jimani.
To describe an individual as a patient is a medical way to lessen the human component of medicine. Patients need treatment, people need care. Patients have medical complaints such as a femur fracture; individuals have feelings and pain. A femur fracture has a specific treatment; the individual has needs that go beyond pain control and physically connecting two ends of a broken bone. Every casualty is more than a patient. Every casualty is an individual.
For a medical provider to agree to accept a patient, he must believe that he can provide the care the patient needs. However, it is not simply an agreement to manage the patient’s injury. It is an all-encompassing agreement that the medical provider will care for the person. The caregiver is now responsible for the patient. To accept Eric Louis as our patient, we affirmed that we had the resources to provide care — care not available in Port-au-Prince — and it was a personal contract with Eric and his wife that we would care for his individual needs.
With the decision made, we had the sending hospital give Eric a shot of morphine and we gently placed Eric and his wife in the back of the pickup truck. Eric’s wife sat with her back to the wall of the truck cab and pulled Eric to her chest to hold him during the long and rough road to Jimani.
She looked to him with concern in her eyes. She knew her husband was not likely to live, but her tears stopped with renewed hope once we promised to care for Eric. As the truck hit each bump, she tried to minimize the impact of the road. She did not speak a word to him during the drive, but her gentle touch spoke of a love that was likely to encounter the tragedy of death. Whatever the outcome, she was going to be with her husband until the end.
It was nearly sunset when we returned to the clinic in Jimani. Dark clouds hugged the rim of the valley as sun buried itself behind the mountains. As the truck pulled into the compound I realized that the clinic we left a few hours ago was not the clinic to which we returned. The calmness of the day evaporated with the morning dew. Large numbers of casualties arrived while I was gone. Now people were briskly moving in different directions. Activity was everywhere, but none of it coordinated. Groups of people huddled near the corner of a building, near a truck or a patch of dirt. They surrounded one or two nurses or doctors desperately trying to bandage and splint the injured.
The Haitians had learned that the American doctors were in Jimani and they flooded the compound with the injured. The clinic had been overwhelmed and new casualties were now being collected at the orphanage about 200 yards down the hill from the clinic. People were lying in the dirt around the orphanage. Others were moaning and bleeding on the cement slab of the building. Families were tugging at the arms of every American they could find. I was stunned.
The faces of the injured were the most difficult to see. These people were suffering from terrible physical pain. They had spent days waiting for assistance and had lost hope. They left the government hospital in Jimani hearing that there was hope at Good Samaritan Hospital, but their last hope was destroyed as their tears and blood intermingled with the dirt that was their new bed. They expected, and even wanted, to die just to be relieved of their pain. The pain of desperation was greater than the pain of an angulated fracture. When I looked into their hollow eyes, I felt their agony. Many had no tears left to cry.
As the light breeze moved across the field of casualties, an overpowering aroma attacked the senses. The cries for help and the cries of mourning filled my ears. I felt my heart racing in my chest. The deep breaths I took made the smell of death stronger. I had never worked in such a demoralizing disaster. For a moment my chest and heart were stinging as I tried to grapple with the enormity of the situation.
The organized medical clinic of the morning was gone. I was standing at the epicenter of hell. In less than twelve hours the medical team had been overwhelmed and the supplies were critically low. Certainly, the change from calm to chaos was from something other than an overwhelming number of casualties arriving at the medical clinic. Something had gone terribly wrong at Good Samaritan Hospital.
As I scanned the area, my heart sank with the realization that I should never have brought Eric Louis here. There were doctors at the Port-au-Prince hospital and they did not have as many patients as we had in Jimani. But I accepted personal responsibility for this man. I drove him across the border to this place of death. As I looked back at the couple and saw the tears running down Mrs. Louis’ face, I asked myself, “What have I done?”

 

Rene Steinhauer RN EMT-PAbout the Author:
Before authoring books and magazines, Rene Steinhauer started a career in medicine as a photographer with the American Red Cross. As he responded to disasters he felt more inclined to assist in the disaster than to take photographs of it.
Rene became an emergency medical technician (EMT) in 1991 and then went on to become a paramedic in 1992. By 1995, he was already working in international medicine with adventures in Saudi Arabia and a brief experience in war torn Sarajevo. After working in a refugee camp in Rwanda, he decided that he needed to obtain his nursing degree. In 1999, he completed his degree and continued on his quest to save lives, volunteer overseas and travel with medicine. Since then, he has practiced medicine on all seven continents including working as a flight nurse in Antarctica, a combat medic in Iraq and a disaster manager in Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, the Haiti Earthquake, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Most recently he worked as the Chief Nurse in an Ebola Treatment Center in Liberia.
In addition to writing Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake, Rene Steinhauer has written for numerous medical journals and magazines including: The Journal of Emergency Medical Services, the American Journal of Nursing, Parachutist Magazine and Soldier of Fortune Magazine. To learn more, go to www.renesteinhauer.com
Connect with Rene Steinhauer on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Rules for Riders: Best Friends Deadly Rivals by Natalie Scott

Rules for Riders book coverRules for Riders is a fast paced coming-of-age novel set in the competitive world of equestrian riding. It was published in August 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon. Genres: Young Adult / New Adult / Romance

 

Synopsis:
After a near fatal riding accident, Bebe Barkley is banned from riding and sent off to boarding school. There, she meets her roommate and fellow equestrian rider, Finn Foxley. The girls devise a scheme to get themselves kicked out of boarding school in order to return to the world that they love. Once back on the circuit, former friends become deadly rivals.
Bebe’s handsome trainer, Billy O’Reilly, gives her seven rules to follow in order to successfully compete. Through a series of tragic events, both girls are forced to abandon their dreams of Olympic gold. Bebe ventures down a dark road of self-destruction as she breaks every rule Billy taught her, only to be forced to relearn them in order to reclaim her life. Rules for Riders is a tale of lost dreams and the struggle to create new ones.

 

Excerpt from Rules for Riders:
KING
CHAPTER 1 
I can still remember the first time I saw him…
He’s seventeen hands high, a dark bay, almost black, a white star on his forehead, and two white socks on his hind legs. I’m fifteen years old when I spy King bucking and rearing and giving the grooms a terrible time. I think he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I point straight at him, “I want that horse.”
My father (otherwise known as the Colonel) rolls his eyes. “No, he’s wild. You just want him because he’s difficult like you.”
We’re at our neighbors, the O’Rileys, on a crisp Sunday morning. Jim O’Riley owns Starlight stables and is one of the best horse trainers in Connecticut. Jim winks at me. “For God’s sake, Colonel, everyone knows you made a ton of money in the stock market. Let her have the damn horse.”
“I said no,” shrieks the Colonel, remaining unconvinced. “Besides, who’ll train her?”
“I will,” Billy O’Riley, Jim’s oldest son, steps forward. His clear green eyes stare straight at King. “He’s a warm blood, sir, from Holland. We just bought him.”
The Colonel growls at Billy. “Listen son, I don’t care if he’s from friggin’ Japan! For God’s sake you’re only a couple of years older than my daughter.”
We all stand there watching, while his face turns bright red with rage. There’s no way in hell he’s going to let me have this horse now. That would be too perfect. Instead, he shocks the pants off of me!
“Fine, but if you break your neck, don’t blame me.”
First thing the next morning I race over to the O’Rileys. By the time I reach the stables, I’m out of breath. Billy’s busy brushing down his horse, Stargazer. I walk over to King and stroke his mane. Then I pull a sugar cube out of my pocket. “Hey, boy.”
Billy looks up. “That’s funny, he doesn’t usually take to people so quickly. So let me guess, you want to take a ride?”
God, I’ve been riding since I was six! Okay, I admit it— Billy’s a hottie. I’ve had a crush on him forever. But it makes me crazy the way he still treats me like a little kid. He leans closer and places his hands firmly on his hips.
“Bebe, if I’m going to train you, there are rules for riders. The first one’s commitment. Without it, none of the other rules exist. If I agree to train you, you’ve got to give me 100 percent.”
I stare right back at him, giving him my best killer smile. “I’m all yours!”
For the next few weeks, he insists I do nothing but flat work. He hardly lets me ride across the yard without making sure I am doing it properly. Unlike the Colonel, Billy brings out the best in me and plays down the worst. Whatever I lack, he teaches me with infinite slowness; guiding King and I so we both gain confidence.
“That’s right. Keep your back straight, hold your head up, shoulders back.”
I learn from Billy that difficult horses become easy once you know how to handle them. With Billy’s training, I’m right on course. The Colonel’s threats don’t scare me. Instead, they fuel me, making me even more determined to succeed.
A few days later, I get to the stables early for some quiet time with King. Billy sneaks up behind me. I can feel his breath against my neck.
When I turn around, he has an amused look on his face. “So, do you finally want to take a ride? Isn’t that what you’ve been dying to do—jump every fence this side of Connecticut?”
I have this wild urge to hug him. Instead, I saddle up King. “C’mon, boy.”
King and I take off.
“Tell me what you’ve learned when you get back!” Billy shouts.

 

Author Natalie ScottAbout the Author:
In August 2014, Natalie Scott published her debut novel Rules for Riders, a fast paced coming-of-age novel set in the competitive world of equestrian riding. Becoming Famous, the long anticipated sequel to Rules for Riders, will be released on July 30, 2015.
Natalie is originally from Australia and has lived in New York and Los Angeles. She currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Connect with Natalie on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
To learn more, go to NatalieScott.com.
For more information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Natalie Scott, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at info@bookpublicityservices.com or 805.807.9027.

 

Interview with Iain Reading, Author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series

author Iain ReadingIain Reading is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, a young adult series of adventure mystery stories. The series follows Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. There are currently four books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4).
Your novels, what are some hopes or goals you have for them? 
If I may be a bit ambitious, I would actually think that the first book of the Kitty Hawk series would make a pretty good Disney-type movie.  All the elements are there, plus it would have some amazing outdoor scenery.  I won’t be waiting by the phone for that one, however.
On a more realistic note, I suppose that my goals are much the same as anyone who writes books.  I’d like people to read and enjoy them.  They are meant to be fun, so I would hope that people would have fun reading them.  And last of all, since my books are full of all sorts of interesting locations and events and history, I always hope that in the process of reading my books that people would find that kind of stuff interesting.  If they go to Google and search something from one of my books, then that’s a great success, I think.
How did you come up with the concept for the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series?
It all started with just one simple thing.  The main character.  Once I thought of her, this teenaged pilot with her own seaplane, everything else just fell into place.  In fact, with the idea hanging out there in the universe and not being written was enough of a kick in the butt for me to get going and actually write the first book.
What three words would you say describe Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold? 
Mysterious Fun Adventure
What is something readers would be surprised to learn about Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold?
Without giving too much away, I think people might be surprised to learn exactly how much of the smaller details and background history in the story is actually real and based on people, places and events that actually really happened.  (I don’t mean the Yukon Gold Rush, of course.  Obviously that happened, but many of the much smaller details that weave their way through the whole story.)  This is something that surprises me, to be honest, when I sit back and really think about it.
Who is your favorite character in Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold and why?
My favourite character is Kitty Hawk.  How could it be anyone else, I guess.  This is her story and her adventure that she calls her life.  I look up to her a lot and often find myself wishing I could be flying around the world right alongside her.  But I suppose in a way that’s exactly what myself and anyone who reads the books is doing.
What are some of your other interests besides writing?
I have always wanted to be a musician.  I write songs and record them.  So if anyone is interested in that they can have a listen for free at www.SecretWorldOnline.com
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
Wherever it would be you can be sure that a Kitty Hawk adventure based in that place would soon follow.
If you could spend the day with someone (Dead or Alive) who would it be?
That’s a tie between Roger Waters and Taylor Swift (and yes, I just put those two names together in the same sentence).
Do you have any other books in the works? 
I am currently working on the fifth book in the Kitty Hawk series, which should be released soon.
What advice would you give to other people who want to become writers?
I don’t think there can be any better advice than to say to “just do it”.  Go out and write the book that you are able to write and not try to write anything else.  If you’re like me and try to do differently you’ll procrastinate endlessly and never write anything.
To learn more about Iain Reading and the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, go to http://www.KittyHawkWorld.com/
the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series

 

Simple Ways to Get Book Reviews

AmazonAs many authors know, one great way to improve book sales is to have a large number of positive reviews for your book. The advantage of having reviews demonstrates to potential buyers and readers that they can have confidence in taking a chance on purchasing and reading your book. This is especially true for authors that are just starting out since your name is unknown. Getting book reviews can be a challenge though, so here are some ways you can get more reviews for your book.
Ask Personal Networks Directly
It doesn’t hurt to ask! Some authors don’t feel as though they can reach out to friends and family, or social networking acquaintances, but the truth is, most of the people you’re connected to will want to see you succeed as an author. This is especially true when you release your first book. If you give them clear and easy to follow directions on how to write a review for your book, there’s a good chance that you’ll get a significant number of free book reviews.
To make this strategy work well, email a group of people and offer free copies to each person who is willing to read the book and post a review. Follow up with those that agree to write a review by sending a gentle reminder. Also, if you intend to keep writing, make a note of the people you know who have reviewed your book and contact them when you release your next book.
Ask for a Review in the Back 
This seems fairly obvious, but many authors don’t add a request at the end of the book asking for a review if the reader enjoyed it. This is a great time to share that you’re a new author and tell them that reviews go a long way towards supporting your work. Many readers don’t understand how important a good review can be, but are usually willing to leave a positive review if asked. Be sure to ad a link to make it easy for your readers to find and review your book.
Build a Group with Similar Authors
Create or join a group for writers and authors. Forming a group with other authors is a great way to be successful and form important networks. There are even many author groups available that you can be a part of, either online or in person. Ask for reviews and ensure that you provide reviews for other authors in the group as well. By participating in a group with like-minded authors, you will join forces to create improved results for everyone.
Reach Out to the Top Reviewers
If you’re selling your book through a website, they probably have a list or category of their top reviewers. These are people who have reviewed a large number of products and their reviews have been voted as being helpful. A small set of these people commonly read and review books. One of the advantages of reaching out to this group is that they’re much more likely to write a review than others. Find this list through your site and narrow down the profiles to find those who review books in your genre. Contact them and offer a free copy of your book in exchange for leaving a review. Similarly to asking friends and family, make a note of anyone who follows through and contact them when you release a new book.
These are some key ways to get reviews for your books. If you’ve been struggling to get reviews and get noticed, use these tips to start putting your work out there and gaining more attention.
 
This article was contributed by Tanisha Williams. Tanisha is the author of two non-profit e-books “501c3 In 12-Steps” and “Simple Internal Controls That Protect Your Assets”. Her desire for more interaction with readers was the key inspiration behind the development of her latest business venture ChatEbooks (https://www.chatebooks.com/). ChatEbooks, launched in October 2014, harnesses the strengths of social media in order to help authors and their readers engage and connect within the context of the selling/reading experience.