Susanna Beard The Truth Waits Blog Tour

Welcome to Susanna Beard’s The Truth Waits blog tour!! Book In The Bag is proud to be a stop along the way!


Let’s get right down into it, tell us who you are and what you usually write about.

I’m Susanna Beard, and I write psychological thrillers.


The Truth Waits was just released on November 1, 2018. What research did you do to write your latest thriller?

The story is partly set in Lithuania, where my character sources products for her online linen business. I already knew that the country was known for textile production, so that’s one of the reasons it’s set there – but I also wanted to find a deserted beach where the weather was harsh, in which to set the key incident in the story. Researching online, I found a fabulous unspoilt beach on the Baltic coast, a place called the Kuronian Spit, and I travelled there to see what it was really like. Then I took a train across the country to visit the capital, Vilnius, which features in the book, and was able to get a good impression of the place and the people.

I also met the attaché at the Lithuanian Embassy in London, who was extremely helpful and answered all my ignorant questions about the country!

Regarding the theme of sex trafficking and the police, most of my research was carried out online, though I was helped by various people who knew Belarus well and who had come across sex trafficking in the area.


What (if anything) did you edit out of the book?

A lot! Quite a few things changed from first draft to final manuscript, with around ten drafts in between! I can’t give you details without giving too much away…


What is the main thing you want readers to take away from The Truth Waits?

The overarching message of the book is that the truth has a way of getting out, however much you try to hide it.


What is something that your fans would be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve done a few surprising things: I’ve swum with whalesharks (the biggest fish in the world) in Australia (fabulous); I’ve walked through the sewers in Brighton (fascinating); and I’ve fallen into a crevasse in France (and climbed out uninjured!). And I used to get panic attacks in big groups of people. I seem to have overcome that now!


What made you become a writer and what about the writing life do you think is misunderstood by the public?

I’ve wanted to write novels since I was a teenager. I got the reading bug early – I was always in the library and read voraciously – and losing myself in a book was my favourite occupation. Writing has always been an important part of my working life, though writing fiction is relatively new to me.

People read novels without realising the huge amount of work – and very often heartbreak and soul-searching – that’s gone into them. That used to be me, so I understand why, and as an author, it’s wonderful that the effort is rewarded by readers enjoying your work. But we’re not all making millions, by any means, and the price of a book is low considering the work that goes into it: I don’t think people understand that.


Are you a plotter or pantster?

Nowadays, I’m a plotter, but not to the nth degree. I do an outline; I know the beginning and the end, and some of the points in between, and I do biographies of my characters in advance. It’s great to have a plan to refer back to when I start to go off-piste!


What is the biggest mistake that you’ve learned not to make while writing?

Don’t start editing before you’ve finished! Get that first draft done – then you have something to work on.


What is the last book you finished reading? What did you think?

The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker. Not my usual choice, but I do read widely. I really enjoyed it – it’s a brilliant retelling of The Iliad from the point of view of Briseis, a girl awarded to Achilles as a slave when her town is destroyed. There’s a clear feminist message to the story; it’s brutal and realistic and has many modern echoes.


What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?

A marketing one! I still manage the PR for a handful of clients, which is varied and enjoyable. And I’m now running workshops for would-be writers.


Are there any URLs or social media accounts you would like to share?

My website is; I’m @susannabeard25 on Twitter and @susannabeardauthor on Facebook

For the workshops, the website is


Thank you so much for the stop on the blog tour again!  Make sure you go out and get your copy of #TheTruthWaits today! Trust me, it’s a great read! Don’t forget to follow Susanna on her social media accounts! Until next time…have a great read!


eBook Newsletters: A Review

Change of pace this week!!  I will be blogging all about my FAVORITE eBook newsletters!  There are SO many out there and I am so happy to have discovered them!  Many authors apply to be on these newsletters and offer their books for free or at a heavily discounted price for the exposure!  I have found out that I enjoy so many more authors and more genres that I ever knew I did!!  And yes, I broke down and purchased a Kindle Paperweight.  I can hold 1,100 books in my hand at once now.  My husband tells me I need to stop downloading eBooks but I can’t help it!  Now I can read whatever I’m in the mood for because I have the selection at my fingertips!  So let’s get into the meat of the post!

Newsletter: Voracious Readers Only

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts:  This is my newest discovery.  You sign up with your e-mail and mark off the genres you enjoy (you can always change these later).  The send out individual e-mails when they get a new book and you can click on the link and then get the free eBook.  Many times when you click the link you are also signing up for the author’s mailing list.  I’m currently reading a book I got from here called New Detroit by Gerard de Marigny.  I don’t feel they send out too many e-mails and they offer different ones I haven’t seen on any other newsletters.


Newsletter: Freebooksy

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: This is my favorite newsletter.  This newsletter is always filled with 100% free books.  You just need to make sure you read it on the same day because the books are usually only free for one day!


Newsletter: Book Bub

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: This was the first eBook newsletter I was exposed to.  They offer a few free ones here and there, but have many offerings from 99 cents to $3.99, great deals!


Newsletter: Ereader News Today

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: Again, you sign up with your e-mail address and select the genres you wish to receive.  Remember, don’t limit yourself, maybe you’ll find a book in a new genre you’ll fall in love with!  They offer free and heavily discounted priced books!


Newsletter: Early Bird Books

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: Early Bird Books offers great discounts on popular reads!  For example, they just had an offer on a Michael Crichton book for $1.99!  If you’re looking for a deal, this is the newsletter for you.  This will have more bestsellers priced usually from $1.99 to $3.99 (and occasionally free).


Newsletter: Many Books

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: Many Books offers a website filled with free eBooks, as well as a newsletter, which highlights free and discounted eBooks. I am not really a fan of this newsletter and I’m not sure why.  It would be the layout or that I don’t find many eBooks I’m interested in. But it is still something to take a look at.


Newsletter: Book Adrenaline

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: Book Adrenaline offers free and discounted mystery and thriller books.  You will not find any other genres here.  I love mysteries and thrillers so this is right up my alley.  I have put so many books from here on my amazon wish list I have yet to figure out when I will read all these books!


Newsletter: The Fussy Librarian

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: The Fussy Librarian makes sure you sign up and get the books YOU want. They also have 2 lists; one list is for bargain eBooks and the other is for mainly free eBooks.  Pick the genres you like, the days you want to receive e-mails, and away you go!


I would like to note that many of these offer their books on multiple platforms (Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo, Google, etc) so don’t worry about how you’re reading an eBook, there will be books for you within these newsletters!!  Do you know of another newsletter?  Let me know about it in the comments!  Are you a member of any of these?  Tell me how much you love them and which one YOUR favorite is!  Next week I will be back to book reviews with a review of New Detroit!  Catch you next Thursday!

2017 YITB Review



This is the smallest update/year in review I have ever done, and I want to take a minute to apologise to loyal readers of the blog.  It would seem that my bloggers have been in a pretty constant state of flux over the past year with lots of changes (some good, some not so good) and we’ve just let reviewing books slide by the wayside.

I am actually ashamed to say that I only managed to read about half a dozen books last year.  But this year seems better.  Things are leveling out.  I’ve made a list of the things that really matter in my life and I’m going to be doing a big push at the blog.


Thus, this year’s list is small but mighty.

The top Book in the Bag Books of 2017:

  • Go To Sleep, Little Farm – Mary Lyn Ray
  • Mix It Up – Herve Tullet
  • Owls Don’t Blink – A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)
  • Desert Solitare – Edward Abbey
  • Lexicon – Max Barry
  • Idolators of Cthulhu – H David Blalock

BITB – Best of 2016



Another trip around the sun and another few million pages read by those of us at Book in the Bag. [Note: I didn’t actually count pages, but it stands to reason, since we read so much.]

I know that 2016 was a rocky year for BITB – every blogger here either moved or had major health issues, among other things – but there were ups along the way, including lots of good books.  As always, our tastes varied, and this list represents decades of writing in multiple genres, fiction and non. In short, the books on this list are as varied as the bloggers reading them.

In order to make this list, the book had to receive a 5/5 review from one blogger and appear on this website. Not all of us may agree. (In fact, we usually don’t.)

Books appear in no particular order.

  • The Body Lovers – Mickey Spillane
  • Mildred Pierced – Stuart M. Kaminsky
  • Seventh Night – Iscah
  • Vengeance is Mine – Mickey Spillane
  • Dawn of Wonder – Jonathan Renshaw
  • The Bat Strikes Again and Again – Johnston McCulley
  • Bogart ’48 – John Stanley & Kenn Davis
  • Fantasy Encyclopedia: A Guide To Fabulous Beasts and Magical Beings, From Elves and Dragons to Vampires and Wizards – Judy Allen
  • Shadow of a Broken Man – George C Chesbro
  • 84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
  • Horton Halfpott -or- The Fiendish Mystery of Smudgepott Manor -or- The Loosening of M’lady Luggertuck’s Corset – Tom Angleburger
  • Hungry Planet – What the World Eats – Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio
  • The Monster at the End of This Book – Jon Stone
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama – Anna Dewdney
  • Welcome to the Symphony – Carolyn Sloane
  • The Complete Casebook of Cardigan vol 1 – Frederick Nebel
  • The Complete Casebook of Sherlock Holmes: The Ectoplasmic Man – Daniel Stashower



Also, a note.  We love doing Writer Wednesday features.  If you’re an author who would like to be featured, comment on our Noteworthy page with your email address and I will reply as soon as possible. (Not all authors meet our criteria, but most do)  😀

12/13  CHECK

Writer Wednesday Bonus Post – Miguel Viscarra





From the fiery abyss of the underworld comes 20 hellish tales from the south and southwest. Within these charred pages are stories that will introduce you to the many demons that stay hidden but are always nearby…  Southern Haunts is an anthology of  stories of possessed people, objects, houses, highways, and the devil’s favorite playground – the forest.

For this blog post, we’ll follow author Miguel Viscarra as he talks about the inspiration for his contribution “And There Was Nothing Left But Ash…”




Regarding inspiration for And There Was Nothing Left But Ash…, much like The Cleansing (in the initial installment of Southern Haunts), I really wanted to draw from my sociological background and once again focus on the dynamics of a relationship; albeit, the relationships of the characters in the story are much different than that of its predecessor. Primarily, the two main characters had a very picturesque and loving union, which I’d hoped that readers could identify with to some extent. I think that emotional connection is really important for the way things transpire throughout the story. The push and pull between the two main characters is really essential for drawing the audience’s sympathy, in hopes that they can see some semblance of identification within the characters. Whilst the characteristics and traits of my lead characters were important, it’s undeniable how significant the setting of my home state was for my second published work.

Researching and learning more about my own environment over the course of writing my works has been one of the most eye-opening and enjoyable experiences. I’ve only been to Deming, New Mexico a handful of times, and I can remember feelings like it was a very small town, very similar to my own. In New Mexico, I’ve seen many places that were reported institutions and tuberculosis wards in different parts of the state, but I was absolutely captivated by the uncertainty of the story surrounding Camp Cody/The Holy Cross Sanatorium. The rich history and fact behind the location was so intriguing. I stumbled upon numerous photos of the area when it was in its prime, and it was very important for me to really portray that historical basis through the accuracy of the location’s description. Moreover, the modern day information that I found regarding the setting was frighteningly real. To know that contemporary atrocities have been reported only makes the place all that more hellish.

I had the pleasure of visiting the area after a short vacation to Phoenix, Arizona to see one of my favorite bands, AFI. On the way back home from my trip, I stopped in Deming to uncover the place that I’d been so eager to dive into. I was surprised to see that there wasn’t much left today. What was still visible from afar were lost architectural relics on the desert floor of New Mexico. Once could still find the famed fountain, which in my story, serves as the intricate gateway that brings forth the fiery demon. All in all, I’d say the overall inspiration for the story was the desire to write a second tale in which readers could see very real human traits and traumas; an outlet that would provide an emotional fear that can be experienced by all.



Bonus! Want to win something?

Hey, loyal followers.
One of my favorite authors and all-time favorite people, Janine Spendlove, is giving away a copy of the Divergent Thinking anthology that she is in.

If you’d like a chance at winning it, CLICK HERE!!!! for your chance. If you are unfamilliar with either Janine’s work or Divergent (which the antho deals with), search the blog, since they’re both around.


Book In The Bag’s Best Books of 2013


I can’t believe we’ve been an active blog for so long!  Book in the Bag started in the autumn of 2012, and so this is our second New Year post we’ve made.

In the first year, we had visitors from all 6 continents [seriously, Antarctica, why aren’t penguins reading our blog??] and 51 different countries.    Since then – well, y’all have been as busy as we have.  Do you know we’ve had over FOURTEEN THOUSAND hits on our blog so far?  That’s roughly a thousand a month since the blog started!    Or, as wordpress has so lovingly informed us, it would take five sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House to house the same number of people that have visited BitB in 2013!    And from 114 countries!  That’s more than half the world.

I know a little of our consistency has dropped at the end of this year, but that’s just because we’re human.  We’ve had a few curve balls thrown at us, but we’re feeling better, our lives have settled down (well, one of us had a baby, so I’m not sure how settled that really is), and we’re rearin’ to go.

I have no idea what’s in store for BitB for 2014, but I really do want to take a minute to thank YOU, the loyal readers who check us out week after week.  Where are you finding us?  How are you hearing about the blog, and what is bringing you here?  Leave us a comment and give us feedback.  We love hearing comments from our readers, I promise.

And now, onto the books.  As you know, Book in the Bag features regular posts from our panel of reviewers.  We all bring with us different backgrounds, experiences, tastes, etc.  The first time I did this, it seemed like the only books we liked were in German or were geared towards kids under eight.  This year, it might be a little different – hell, it might surprise even us.

To be considered a top book of 2013, the book had to be given a five out of five review from someone on our panel of important people (ie, our staff reviewers).  The books are:

  • Theft of Swords – Michael J. Sullivan
  • A Brother’s Price – Wen Spencer
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Phoenix – AJ Scudiere
  • Star Wars Twilight vol 1. – John Ostrander
  • The Secret Race – Tyler Hamilton & David Coyle
  • Star Wars Twilight vol 3.  – John Ostrander
  • The Last Thing I Remember – Andrew Klavan
  • After Visiting Friends – Michael Hainey
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
  • Star Wars Twilight vol 4. – John Ostrander
  • When I Get Bigger – Mercer Mayer
  • The Midwife – Jennifer Worth
  • Boneshaker – Cherie Priest
  • Urgent 2nd Class – Nick Bantock
  • Anna and the Dragon – Jill Domschot
  • Vampires don’t Sparkle – Michael West (ed)
  • Me and My Dragon – David Biedrzycki
  • The What’s Happening To My Body Book for Girls – Lynda Madras and Area Madras
  • The What’s Happening To My Body Book for Boys – Lynda Madras and Area Madras
  • No Plot, No Problem! – Chris Baty
  • And Tango Makes Three – Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  • It’s Perfectly Normal – Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberly
  • My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf
  • How To Tell if Your Cat is Plotting To Kill You – Matthew Inman
  • Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline



What will we like in 2014?  Guess you’ll have to keep following us to find out.

Bonus Post – Kingdom of Vosh Tour


Okay, so…  Apparently I was supposed to review a book for a tour stop, and when they checked a couple days ago I realized that I never received the book.  Um.  So I had to come up with something, and I decided to stay in the spirit of both the holidays and this blog.  “Let him do a book review, I thought.  So I decided to ask the author one simple question.

What is your favorite holiday story?

I’ll admit that his answer wasn’t exactly what I was expecting (and, like all authors, he’s a bit long winded), but here ya go:

Picture for yourself a young man and woman, engaged but not yet fully committed and married. The young woman finds out that she is pregnant, which in itself is peculiar because the two have not come together in that fashion and she swears to him that she has known no other.  He doesn’t believe her though.  What fool does she take him for? He looks upon her with distrustful eyes now.  He loves her but his heart is broken and full of doubts.  He has decided to end the engagement but to do so secretly, without shaming her name and family.  A gentleman’s maneuver but it pains him deeply.

One night, while alone and in bed, he dreams of a Titan who comes to speak with him over the girl.  “She is special, and the child she carries will be the future King!  Do not leave her.  She has been faithful to you.  Give the child this name, a name above all others, for he will save many.”  The Titan tells him.  The young man awakens, startled over the words but believing the vision to be real he is relieved in his heart that she was true to him.

The man and woman soon leave thereafter, and head south to pay their dues to the current King.  The woman is ready to give birth now, but the city is full of travelers so there are no more rooms available.  In a last effort of desperation they ask a farmer passing by who tells them they can use his stable with the animals for the night.

Elsewhere that evening, not far from where the young girl travails, a group of shepherds minding their sheep are suddenly startled from the skies above.  Out of the cool night sky bursts forth an army of Titans!  Glorious light shown all around them, filling the air with brilliant wonder!  Horns and trumpets sounded their arrival and then a hush fell over them as one began to speak.

“Behold!  Your King has come!  May glory be to his wonderful name!  You will find him close by in a manger.  May peace and goodness come to all men.”

The host of Titans then vanished into the night, leaving the shepherds who witnessed the event speechless for a moment.  “We… we must go and find this King!”  One of them said.  They all agreed and quickly left their flock as they searched the town for the child.  A few found the newly born boy exactly where the Titans said. They then left and found the others and gathered them together at the stable.  Silently, as a cool breeze swept in through the thin, twisted boarding, they looked upon the young man named Joseph, his wife Mary, and the newly born King, the savior of the world….Jesus.

Now the above story sounds fantastical.  A virgin birth, an army of Titans (Angels), the Savior of the world, but this is no fantasy story.  This is of course the story of Christmas and what hundreds of millions if not billions of people are about to celebrate.  It is the reason for the season.  But perhaps you are skeptical.  Perhaps you do look on this as some made up fairy tale, passed down through the generations and squirreled away in some crusty old Bible.  I can’t convince you in a blog what to believe for yourself.  You are your own person and can make up your own dang mind.  You should be skeptical, about everything!

Through the spectacle, though, one shouldn’t miss the important message and it is from the words of the Angel that appears before the shepherds.  It is why this is my favorite holiday story.  It’s found in Luke 2:10-14 if you dare to look it up.  You won’t find words of hatred or malice.  They are not words of judgment or condemnation.   The message is peace and joy to all people.  The birth of Jesus is pronounced as a joyful occasion for the world, a message of love.

This time of year is not about tackling people over saving thirty bucks for a toaster oven.  It’s about helping those in need, showing the love to others that was shown to you and laying down a part of yourself as your gift at their feet.

You are a wonderment, a gift to behold and specially created by God above.  Those around you are equally special, equally crafted.  Don’t see them for the color of their skin or what fancy clothes they wear or what nation they are from. We are all children of God and should be treated as such.

I encourage you to find someone in need, someone lonely or hurting or troubled, and take a moment to be a blessing to their lives.  I hope you have a blessed Christmas and holiday this year and go read something good!

Jason C. Conley
Writer & artist for The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess

Writer Wednesday – Rita Webb




Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Rita Webb, author of PLAYING HOOKY (the first book in the Paranormal Investigation series) and DAUGHTER OF THE GODDESS

Tell us (briefly) about you…
Wife to the sweetest man, mom of 3 extraordinary girls, adventurer, dancer, crazy lady.
I’m not a vampire (even if I am pale and allergic to the sun) or a werewolf (though I am married to one) or a faerie. I’m just a woman with an overactive imagination.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
Loads of shorts stories (published in various anthologies), several unpublished novels, TEARS (my first novel, no longer in print), and the following novellas (currently available:

PLAYING HOOKY (Paranormal Investigations #1)

…and what you’re working on right now.
My husband TJ and I are now writing together. We’re working on the sequels to PLAYING HOOKY:
BREAKING ANGELINA (Paranormal Investigations #1.5)
TAKING CHANCES (Paranormal Investigations #2)

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Visiting the library with my mom and picking out books:
The Lion and the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I loved them both and was forever addicted. Strange how both are on banned book lists, and I’m impressed that my very religious mother actually recommended them to me.

What are your three favorite books?
I hate this question. I have hundreds of favorites, different ones in each genre, plus my childhood favorites. Really my favorite book might be whatever I just finished reading.

But if I have to narrow it down, this is my list:
The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
The Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

OK, I cheated. I named 3 series instead of individual books, but if you think of them as never-ending books that are just so long, they had to be separated into smaller editions…

How many books to do you read at any given time?
Sometimes I have two or three books that I’m reading. One will be an audiobook, one will be a paperback, and another might be a book I’m reading with the kids or maybe another paperback.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading MAGIC RISES by Ilona Andrews!!! I’ve been waiting sooooo long for this book.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…forget the rest of the world exists.

To re-read or not to re-read, that is the question.
Definitely love to re-read good books! I’m on my 5th read of the Kate Daniels series, and I’m sure I’ll read it again next year in preparation for the next release.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely! Especially if the recommendation comes from someone I trust…

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
All the time! First off, I love promoting other authors. Second, I love books. I became a writer because I love to read.

What do you look for in a good book?
Lovable characters and good dialogue. Plots are important to keep the intensity of a book, but it’s not the plot I remember, it’s the people.

I discovered this when re-reading some of my favorites. The plot was a rediscovery as I couldn’t remember what was going to happen, who the bad guy was and why, but the scenes that burned into my mind were the ones related to the interactions between my favorite characters.

Why do you write?
Because I have to or I’ll burst into flames. Once I started on the road to writing, I couldn’t stop. I’ve tried. Many times.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Dancer, artist, musician… Writing has made me fall in love with the arts. I probably wouldn’t be any good at it, but I still have a day job. However, my day job is not ME.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My family, my friends, movies, books, art, music, a hike in the park. Writing, like all artistic endeavors, is best when it comes from the soul, and therefore, you must always keep your soul brimming with life.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I’m a dreamer. That I have determination. That I fight for my dreams and never give up. That I am officially insane.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My husband TJ has supported me, believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, and helped me every step of the way. Now I’ve finally convinced him to write with me. We can live in insanity together.

My oldest daughter writes stories and creates characters now too, and she and I are writing picture books together. My other girls love to read what I write (when it is not too adult for them), and so I’m (slowly) working on a few Middle Grade books.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
The stereotype of the absent-minded writer is absolutely… Oh, did you say something? I just had this epiphany about a character.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The learning curve is steep. First, you have to learn all the techniques of writing (like how to craft interesting dialogue, how to pick strong verbs, how to show and not tell, how to intersperse description without bogging down the story), and then grammar is a whole other monster to tackle.

Then you have to learn how to lead a reader through a story. You have loads of threads to keep track of and characters that must be flushed out if you don’t want cardboard people walking like zombies through your stories.

Then you have to learn how to market those stories, whether to an agent, publisher, or directly to the reader. And if you decide to self-publish, you’ll have to learn about how to run a business.

Thankfully, in our day and age, there’s loads of information and resources to make things happen…if you have the determination to learn.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
All the time! But that’s how we learn, by making mistakes, falling down, and getting back up. Your understanding is more complete when you know what fails.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
No, I have projects and ideas coming out my ears. I’ve scheduled my writing time for the next 3 or 4 years, and then I have another series I can’t wait to get started on.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I always try to answer emails and be available for conversation. You can often find me on Facebook.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
How shy I am. Sooooo glad I can do this interview by typing on my computer. 😛

And yet this year, I performed a monologue in front of 300+ people and danced 3 performances (hip hop, lyrical jazz, and musical theater) in front of 500+ people. I try my hardest to ignore my shyness.

Anything else we should know?
If you come across an Elvin wizard, don’t drink anything he gives you.






Because this post was a wee bit late, I present you with a bit of bonus material – the first chapter of Rita’s novel!





Chapter 1

~ EMMA ~


THE ALARM CLOCK hammers ice picks into my brain. My freshman year of college, I swore I’d never do another eight o’clock class, but here it is my junior year and I am torturing myself with English Lit after staying up until three in the morning to finish a paper.

I try to peel my eyes open, but they’re glued shut. I rub them and squint at the clock, trying to read the red numbers swimming in circles, but nothing makes sense.

Letting my eyes drift shut, groping for the right button with my hands, I punch snooze and roll over.

It’s Thursday. Valentine’s Day.

My twenty-first birthday.

And all I want is the pounding headache to go away.

It seems like no time at all before the alarm goes off again.

“Emma, either get up or turn it off.” My roommate Maggie—but we all call her Magpie—kicks the thin wall separating our rooms.

With a groan, I turn off the alarm, roll out of bed, and pad into our kitchen, still in my cotton panties and T-shirt. Sleepwalking, I fill the coffee pot with water, scoop one tablespoon of coffee grinds into the filter—no, two, because Mr. Linden likes to drone on about eighteenth-century poetry—and hit the start button.

Coffee. Breakfast of champions. And sleep-deprived college students.

A knock on our apartment door, and my sister trills a happy, “Good Morning, Emma,” and begins to sing me Happy Birthday, along with several embarrassing verses we wrote when she was five and I was seven. It includes something about monkeys slipping on banana peels.

“Someone shoot her.” Magpie grumbles from her doorway and slams her door shut.

Still in my skimpy sleep-clothes, I open the door to find my sister—long, blonde hair curled to perfection, not a strand out of place, red hair band matching her flouncy short skirt and the red hearts on her too-cute-for-words tights. Glimmering strands of silver lace peek through her pink sweater. As always, Angelina’s the image of vomit-inducing school-girl perfection.

And standing behind her—


My best friend from childhood. The boy—er, man—who should be ten hours away in Kodiak, Alaska, rather than here in Anchorage.

The man staring at my naked legs.

And I’m standing here in my panties and baby-doll T, which clearly shows I’m not wearing a bra, especially as Alaska is cold in February and the door gapes wide open.

I cross my arms over my chest to hide my breasts and duck my bottom half behind the door. “Jason, what are you doing here?”

“To take you out for the day. It’s your twenty-first birthday. Did you think I’d let you celebrate without me?” He grins and slips into the room before I can stop him. His eyes travel up my bare legs (thank goodness I shaved last night) with the ugly wool knee-high socks, the black T with the pink Batman symbol, and ending with my short, blonde hair, sticking up in all directions on one side, matted on the other.

I glance out the door. A few girls, gawking at the man who is too handsome for his own good, stand out on the landing and whisper. I grab Angelina’s hand and drag her inside and slam the door.

“What about what’s-her-name? Sarah? Sally? Mandy? Whoever your latest thrall is. She really let you come out and play? I thought she’d have your Valentine’s Day booked.”

“I broke up with her right after Christmas.” He shrugs.

For the first time in about ten years, neither of us has a significant other. Once upon a time, when I was twelve, I decided Jason was the one for me, and I set about trying to get him to kiss me. He was clueless, and I settled for Mark Jameson, a boy down the road. Three years later, Mark moved to Ohio somewhere. Or was it Idaho? And I never heard from him again.

By then, Jason had a girlfriend, and though he never took her fishing with him or mountain biking (my role in his life), they went to homecoming together and then to the prom. And I went out with Troy Simmons up until the middle of our first year of college when I caught him in another girl’s dorm room where he’d sacked out for a week.

Troy was so pissed about the breakup—because I should just forgive and forget the cheating, since it was my fault because I refused to sleep with him—that he spread rumors about our supposed sexual escapades.

Whenever I tried to date since then, the guys I went out with only wanted me to put out, so I’ve been single ever since. Whenever I consider dating him now, I remind myself of all the ways we are incompatible. We would fight over everything as we’re both too stubborn for our own good.

Angelina tucks her hand through his arm and smiles up at him. “Isn’t he sweet? You have the best friends.”

Not even a note of jealousy in her voice, even though she’s had a crush on him ever since third grade when he put a band-aid on her skinned knee.

My sister Angelina is too perfect. Straight-A honor student. Mother’s sweetie pie. Father’s angel. Never snuck out of the house to go partying. Always kept her curfew. Never broke her leg jumping out of trees while trying to chase squirrels or ramping bikes on the homemade ramps. Always prissy and clean. Never leaves anything out of place.

Always the perfect lady in her cute little outfits.

I can’t hate her for it because she doesn’t even act superior about it. She’s never been the goody-goody. Never lectures me on my messy room, sloppy hair, torn jeans, or skipping classes.

Jason grins. “I’d never miss your birthday. Remember last year?”

“Ugh! I thought I’d never thaw out after we went skiing in a blizzard. We were stranded for three days in that cabin we found in the woods.”

“Aw, come on, you didn’t even get frostbite. I took care of you.”

“At least I didn’t end up with any broken limbs. That time.”

“I still can’t believe we went snow-boarding on East Pillar Mountain Loop. That’s a tough trail, and then you broke your arm slipping in the parking lot on the way to the truck.”

My muscles were exhausted, and carrying my board on my shoulder, I wasn’t watching where I was going. I didn’t see the patch of ice. “Remember when you took me spelunking?”

“I had no idea that bear was in there.”

“I can’t remember ever being that scared.”

“But it was fun! Come on. We can’t break tradition.”

“What are you planning this time?” Angelina smiles up at him with a glimmer of wistful longing.

“It’s a secret.” He extricates her hand from his arm and takes a step away from her, and her hand falls back to her side.

For a moment, her smile falters, but then she bounces from the room. “See you! Tell me all about it later. Emma, I’ll tell your professors and coach that you are sick today, and I’ll collect your notes and assignments.”

“Thanks, Angelina. You’re a sweetie.”

She gives me her smile, cheeks dimpling in the cute china-doll way she has, and blows us kisses. Sometimes I wish she could be a real human being for once—throw a royal temper tantrum, break a rule, or actually make a mess—but either she keeps all negativity bundled up deep inside or she really is incapable of baser emotions.

I’m left alone in the apartment’s tiny entryway with Jason.

“Emma,” he says, stepping closer, his head leaning down toward me. He is way too close, and I remember I’m not dressed.

Tall with wide shoulders, Jason is muscular from hard labor (construction and welding) and athletic adventures (kayaking and mountain biking). The perpetual scruff movie stars work hard to perfect shadows his jaw, and his tousled black hair kept short. He cuts it every week because it grows too fast, like at least a half inch a day. With the smoky blue eyes and the confident grin he usually wears, he’d make any girl swoon.

Well, any girl but me. I’d more likely hit him upside the head with a broom than swoon over him.

“Coffee’s in the kitchen. I need to get dressed and showered; then we can go for pastries at the bakery around the corner.” Just off campus, there’s a scrumptious little shop, but I never have time in the mornings. I turn back to my room but then stop. “Oh, how do I need to dress for the day?”

“Sure.” He runs his hands through his hair, but his eyes are too busy following my ass to pay attention to anything I said.

“Jason.” I snap my fingers. “Up here. What do I need to wear?”

His gaze shifts to my face, and he grins, not even having the decency to flush. “Dress warm.”

Good. So we’re going to have an adventure.

Bonus Content – Book In The Bag’s Best Books of 2012


Well, it’s been a good first few months, and I hope the holidays found you loaded with new books and a little bit sweeter for all the cookies.  Here at BitB, we’re proud of our showing for 2012, and hope that you’ll follow us into the next year.

We had visitors from 51 countries on 6 continents last year, and our most popular post was (totally unsurprisingly) Chris Baty’s interview back in October  (which you can find here:

Did we have some bad reviews, oh, yeah.  The law of averages says that eventually we’ll find a stinker or two – and we all did.  But there were also some great books.  Without futher ado, I bring to you the Best Books of 2012 -books somebody on our panel of reviewers gave a five page rating to at some point last year.

  • The Three Pigs by David Weisner
  • The Jigsaw Woman by Kim Antieau
  • OhneWorterBush by Langenscheidt
  • The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
  • James May’s Lego House by BBC
  • Deutsch Fur Den Auslander by Florian Lamp & Heldrich Johannes
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
  • The Wonderland Alphabet by Alethea Kontis
  • Alpha Oops: H is for Halloween by Alethea Kontis
  • Alpha Oops: The Day That Z Went First by Alethea Kontis
  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling

What will 2013 bring?  About three hundred books, but beyond that, I can’t say.  What book would You give a five page review to?  What review from last year surprised you?

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