Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So You Want to Write for the Cat?

Check out our submissions guidelines on our website.  We are actively looking for NEW Adult Fiction and YA/Middle Grade authors! guidelines.html

Friday, June 25, 2010

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Sam Hilliard – Author of The Last Track

1) I have a serious caffeine addiction that led to a night in the emergency room. Apparently 14 cups of coffee in one day can cause heart attack-like symptoms. At least that’s what the EKG tests indicated. So now it’s decaf only.
2) The best way to work out dialog problems is to read the lines aloud. So I do. In their voices. This is why people leave me alone when I’m writing.
3) I moved so many times growing up, I accused my parents of being in the witness protection program. By age thirteen I had lived on both coasts, Utah, and several states in the Midwest.
4) The book I’d most like to see turned into a movie. The Power Broker by Robert Caro. Though often forgotten now, one man, Robert Moses, single-handedly shaped the future of urban development and civic planning for nearly forty years in New York. There may never be another civic planner like him again.
5) I22 agents passed on my book The Last Track, one of them twice. I queried one agent (Agent A) at their original agency and they requested more material and then passed. About a year later, the same pitch went out to a different agency and a different agent (Agent B), but Agent B thought it sounded right up their colleagues alley and passed the query letter and sample along to Agent A, who apparently had no recollection whatsoever of our history, requested more material and then passed again.
*  * *
Born in Kansas City, MO, near the center of the United States, Sam Hilliard arrived during a very scary period of the 1970s. Since then he has lived on both coasts and quite a few places in between. Currently, Sam resides outside New York City with his girlfriend and an army of four cats—one feline under the legal limit. His first book, The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel, a mystery/thriller, released this Spring. When Sam’s not writing, he’s the Director of IT at an all-girl boarding school where he gets to observe world-class drama firsthand. It’s also the reason he studies Krav Maga and Tai Chi.
Publisher’s site:

*excerpt from The Hot Author Report. To read more, go to:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Internet May be Killing Publishing, But Saving Readers and Writers by Sam Hilliard

Publishers are treading difficult and uncharted waters. Make no mistake, whether the big houses admit it aloud or not, they are grabbing the life raft and hoping for the best. Forces are pulling them under from all sides.
US readership is on the decline. High stakes bets on repeat titles based on off concepts, and a slew of celebrity books have eroded the bottom line, and made the book buyer weary. Kindles and iPads have taken the market by storm, threatening publishing’s very life force, the hardcover and its higher margins. Social networks can expose hype surrounding a title in mere hours. Never before have so many readers questioned the pricing model of books and voted with their dollars, either by not buying at all, or opting for book swaps, used titles, or electronic versions.
The Internet and its “invisible” margins which large publishers fear may be their very destruction, may be just the salvation authors need. Every day, publishers are losing control of the distribution model they have manipulated for over a hundred years, and if comments at this year’s Book Expo are any indication, they haven’t the faintest clue what to do about it. Denial can not alter one fact: The Internet has torn down the Berlin Wall of publishing that had kept writers and readers separated.
Out of this chaos, comes great change and even greater opportunity. For the first time in a long time, readers are back in the driver’s seat. If they don’t like what they see cropping up on the shelves, they can look elsewhere. And for the first time ever, writers have a way to reach readers—no matter where those readers live, or what language they speak. The Internet is fast becoming the most viable distribution and marketing channel for books, be they electronic or print.
There has never been a better time to be a reader, or a writer.
*guest post by Sam Hilliard on the Hot Author Report. To read more go to:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Books' power to connect is as potent as ever

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling a small wave of despair about being a writer and teacher at a time when common wisdom holds that "no one reads anymore." But then some of my UC Riverside students sought me out on campus to thank me for introducing them to a book.
"'Winesburg,'" one student said. "That was the book."
"Winesburg, Ohio" by Sherwood Anderson, published in 1919, is one of my favorite novels. But I'd always been hesitant to assign it. My students are often first-generation children of immigrants, and the book is about Midwesterners in a small town of brick buildings surrounded by cornfields. Last fall, though, I decided to give it a try.
It was a rough year for the University of California, with strikes, pay cuts, crowded classrooms and borrowed chairs. The senior seminar in fiction that I teach was more than twice the size it had been the previous year, with 34 instead of 15 students.
I gave them several novels to read. And I tried a new approach. Instead of standing before them, proclaiming what I believed about the books, I broke the students into four groups and asked each group to present its book in a way that would make their classmates pay attention and feel something.
Initially, the students couldn't believe they were being given such control. They wanted guidelines. But they quickly settled into their task.
The first book the students read, by Los Angeles author Cheryl Klein, was "The Commuters," which is told in numerous voices by people living and working all over the Los Angeles area. Each narrator is connected by geography and friends and work.
The group decided the book was about home. For their presentation, they stood in front of us and drew maps of their hometowns - Fallbrook and Hemet and La Habra and others - and how they intersected. A Loma Linda native talked about growing up among crowds of medical-coated health professionals and vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists; then a student from San Jacinto explained that she was connected to Loma Linda because it was where her infant was on life support for three days before she died. The whole classroom became silent.
"Still Water Saints" by Alex Espinoza, the second novel, is set in fictional Agua Mansa, which resembles Colton, Calif. The characters are all linked by their visits to a Mexican-born curandera, or healer, who runs a botanica. This group talked about belief. One student laid out an altar of cures from her grandmother, who was born in Mexico's Michoacan state - teas and herbs, foods and prayers. The student's mother had died when she was a baby, and her father raised eight children alone, in a small house in San Bernardino, with the help of the abuelas. Another student told of a horrific car accident in which his car rolled over and he should have died. Instead, he told the class, the Buddha hanging from the rearview mirror split in half and absorbed his spiritual death. He told the class how his Chinese-born parents kept him away from windows at night so that wandering ghosts wouldn't see him. A young woman from Rialto told of taking her mother home to rural Cambodia to be healed of a jealous rival's spell; the healer prayed and rubbed the mother's skin, pulling out embedded shards of broken glass in different colors for different agonies.
And then there was the book I'd worried about. "Winesburg, Ohio" is about secrets, shame and guilt, and the students loved it, passionately and argumentatively. On presentation day, I couldn't imagine what the "Winesburg" group would do. (A naked woman runs through town in one story - that had gotten a lot of attention.) The group presented us with small pieces of paper and a leather satchel, and directed us to write down the most shameful secret we'd always held inside. Something we'd never told anyone. The folded pieces of paper were mixed inside the bag, passed around, and we each read one secret aloud.
Students had poured out their guilt: about a pregnant cousin who had been ignored when she was desperately in need of love and counsel, about a lizard burned alive in a jar, about a childhood injury inflicted on a relative who never fully healed.
Even now, I can hear us reading aloud, in our desk chairs, all facing forward. A 90-year-old book brought us there.
Humanities are under fire at the moment. Teach students something practical, many Americans say, something to help them get jobs and support themselves. But I believe that to thrive in the world, we must also understand what it is to be human. As Socrates said, an unexamined life is not worth living. And right now, when retreat and distrust and anonymity divide us, it's more vital than ever to examine not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us.
The students in that seminar learned some things about literature, and a lot about writing. They wrote detailed essays about each book and a long, final paper that tied the books together. But the most important things they learned, I suspect, had little to do with the course subject matter.
They got glimpses of the world through the eyes of their fellow students. They saw life from the vantage point of a mother whose newborn died; or a quiet young woman from East L.A. who has witnessed surreal violence.
My seminar students graduated last weekend, but I keep thinking about the way they reacted when I read aloud to them the first week of class. There was nothing on the board, no PowerPoint. Just an old book, held in my hands. They were initially skeptical, questioning. Who needs books, in this age of digital technology? their expressions seemed to ask. But then their eyes met mine while I read.
Who needs humans to tell secrets and listen and watch wide-eyed as their compatriots reveal their lives? We all do.
Susan Straight's latest novel, "Take One Candle Light a Room," will be published this fall. She wrote this for the Los Angeles Times

Read more:

Interview with Sam Hilliard – Author of The Last Track

Born in Kansas City, MO, near the center of the United States, Sam Hilliard arrived during a very scary period of the 1970s. Since then he has lived on both coasts and quite a few places in between. Currently, Sam resides outside New York City with his girlfriend, and an army of four cats—one feline under the legal limit. His first book, The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel, a mystery/thriller, released this Spring. When Sam’s not writing, he’s the Director of IT at an all-girl boarding school where he gets to observe world-class drama firsthand. It’s also the reason he studies Krav Maga and Tai Chi.
Publisher’s site:
Q: Tell us briefly about your book.
The Last Track is the story of Mike Brody, a tracker who can tap into the memory and emotional state of those he pursues. More than just a master tracker, Mike is a former Special Forces operative, smoke jumper, and now extreme adventure tour guide. He is recruited to find a missing, asthmatic boy (and unwitting murder witness) in the rugged terrain surrounding a dude ranch in Montana where Mike and his family are vacationing.
Fearful of capture, the boy has burrowed deep into the woods. As Mike tracks the boy, the killer pursues them both. Meanwhile, Mike’s ex-wife—a well-connected journalist—uses her contacts to unravel the killer’s identity. Her discoveries ensnare them all in a treacherous conspiracy.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on two very different manuscripts. One is a sequel to The Last Track scheduled for release during the Holiday season 2011. The other is a more personal story that I have wrestled with finishing many times over the past few years. Although I have yet to muster the courage, I find myself drifting towards it.
Q: How do you balance out the writer’s life and the rest of life? Do you get up early? Stay up late? Ignore friends and family for certain periods of time?
I think one imperative for a writer is to surround themselves with people who understand the vanishing act some projects require. The ideal is to write late at night or early in the morning when everyone else is asleep anyway, but there are times when this is impossible.
Eventually, there comes a point where the only way to finish a book is by cutting yourself off from everyone you can and writing every spare moment. Once the manuscript attains this critical mass, even when I’m is away from the keyboard and with people, my mind keeps churning, processing the story. It definitely makes dinner conversations . . . interesting to say the least. With the right people around you, there’s less need to be accommodating. They already know that sometimes they come second and why.
Q: Is there anyone who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?
In school, two teachers encouraged me more than the rest, Brenda Bigelow and later Dr. Mary Balkun. I can’t say I deserved their encouragement at the time, but I always recognized what a big difference it makes when someone you respect believes in your writing.
Q: Is there any particular book that, when you read it, you thought, “I wish I had written that!”?
Anything by Gillian Flynn Nolan. I’m very partial to her work. She’s from the Midwest, and writes great character-driven stories that are haunting, believable and engaging all at the same time. Except for the Midwest upbringing, I’m not claiming any similarity to her work.
Q: Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?
Yes, and that’s the point when the real writing happens. I get out of the way and let the characters run with the story, because from those moments, some of the most creative ideas—however contrary to my initial intentions they appear—are born. I table any inconsistencies for later, trusting that I can find a place to snap the new piece into the larger jigsaw puzzle when the time comes.
Q: It’s one thing to write a book and another to edit it. How do you feel about the editing process? What was it like to edit your book?
I love editing. I like the precision and the back and forth, and even the fact that no matter how many times an eagle-eye editor scours a piece, someone eventually uncovers a wrinkle everyone else missed. I spent lots of time soliciting feedback from readers about the manuscript. Later the publisher brought in a great editor, copy editors, and proofreaders, who made enormous contributions as well.
There is a time and a place for serious editing. Getting a piece of writing ready for publication requires creativity, but it also requires an obsession with details. Writing and editing depend on the efforts of two separate parts of the brain. Not so much polar opposites, but working from either means taking two very different approaches to the pages.
For the same reason it is difficult to see the forest for the trees. The mind must choose one perspective over the other. If a writer constantly flips between writing and editing, the brain will shut down the creative side until it has time to recover. This makes gathering traction a lot harder. I spent years fighting a story before finally admitting that was what I was doing.
Use this space to tell us more about you. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing.
Writing novels is one of the many items on my bucket list; I’m working on a number of goals. Check ‘em out at my website/blog, which I update regularly.
The easiest way to buy The Last Track is on or B& Your local bookstore can order it for you from Ingram or B&T. ISBN 9780984203512, Trade Paper. It is also available in a kindle version on Amazon. There is a lot of information about me and The Last Track on my publisher’s website (Buddhapuss Ink LLC) as well.
*excerpt from an interview on The Hot Author Report. To read more go to:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shining the Book Promotion Spotlight on Sam Hilliard

Born in Kansas City, MO, near the center of the United States, Sam Hilliard arrived during a very scary period of the 1970s. He has lived on both coasts and quite a few places in between. Currently, Sam lives outside New York City with his girlfriend and an army of four cats—one feline under the legal limit. His first book, The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel , a mystery/thriller, released in 2010. When not writing, he’s the Director of IT at an all-girl boarding school and observes world class drama first-hand. It’s also the reason he studies Krav Maga and Tai Chi.  You can visit his website at Welcome to Book Marketing Buzz, Sam. Can we begin by having you tell us a little about your book?
First, thanks so much for this opportunity! The Last Track is the story of Mike Brody, a tracker who can tap into the memory and emotional state of those he pursues. More than just a master tracker, Mike is a former Special Forces operative, smoke jumper, and now extreme adventure tour guide. He is recruited to find a missing, asthmatic boy (and unwitting murder witness) in the rugged terrain surrounding a dude ranch in Montana where Mike and his family are vacationing. As Mike tracks the boy, the killer pursues them both. Meanwhile, his ex-wife—a well-connected journalist—uses her contacts to unravel the killer’s identity. Her discoveries ensnare them all in a treacherous conspiracy.
What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?
Does buying rounds for my friends count?
Promotion is the art of saying the right thing about an idea in the hope that the right person is listening. In the interest of drawing closer to a moving target, I am always trying new approaches.
But the first thing I did was reach out to friends and family and then built outward from there. One way I did that was to blog throughout the process of writing the book, sharing the experience along the way. This process continues today. For instance, I’m almost positive you and I are not related.
If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you’ve used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?
With any luck it could be this interview!
The most elusive thing about promotion is determining what is or is not working midstream. That kind of analysis often requires hindsight which only comes with time. It’s also hard to zero in on the one factor that tipped the scales in the right direction; success in any endeavor often results from a combination of factors, rather than a single one.
Getting copies to readers through giveaways and reviewer sites has been very helpful. I think the trailer worked as intended, too. The greatest idea can come from the most unlikely source, so I am always open to feedback and advice.
Do you do more promoting online or offline and which do you prefer?
Making face to face connections will always be extremely important. Recently I led a workshop on creating memorable characters at a high school. The result – a nice sized room of students who didn’t know about The Last Track before the class, do now.
But online can be easier because it is a more passive; I decide when to tweet, post, or respond to an email. There is also a permanance to the Internet. Better than my memory, anyway.
Do you use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to promote your books and have you had any success with it?
I use Facebook and Twitter, and in the case where someone really wants to reach out to an author, that sort of mechanism can be a great thing. With the web in general, you never know who might stumble across a post or article, so it can help in unexpected ways.
As of late, many of my new FB friends and followers are readers. The author page at the end of the book lists my Facebook name and Twitter address, so if they got to that point and added or followed me, I have to believe they liked the 274 pages that preceded it.
Do you own a blog and how often do you update it? Did you set up your blog solely to promote your book and what is its effectiveness?
I blog one to three times a week at I set the blog up years ago, largely because I wanted to get better at writing short pieces with definitive endings. This has proven to be a great relief from the drain of working on long projects with no clear deadline, like novels.
I enjoy posting on the blog, so it will remain in operation.
Do you recommend authors getting publicists to help them promote their books? Do you have one?
I think publicists can help, especially if they are genuinely passionate about the book. Marketing takes a steady stream of great ideas plus the conviction to follow through with them. I am open to the idea of a publicist in the future, especially if it frees more time for writing.
If an author prefers to do it alone rather than hire a publicist, where should they start?
Like all those who approach an overwhelming task: Take stock of what you already know, admit what you don’t, and be ready to ask for help. I think most people would be surprised how often someone might assist them—if they are willing to listen and understand that help takes many forms.
Writing is my one true love in life, and when I don’t make time for writing everything else falls into utter chaos. I suspect a lot of authors harbor a similar character defect. Promotion does not come naturally for me, even though I rather like some aspects of the discipline.
Start with your circle of friends and family, and then build outward from there. Go indirect. Offer help before asking for it and soon assistance and new ideas will start coming your way.
Thank you for coming, Sam! We wish you much success!
Thank you so much! And right back at you!

*excerpt from an interview on Book Marketing Buzz. To read more go to:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fantastic beginning in the first of (what I hope) will be a series of books about Mike Brody, a tracker who uses somewhat unconventional methods to track missing people

As a starter novel, Sam Hillard has a fantastic beginning in the first of (what I hope) will be a series of books about Mike Brody, a tracker who uses somewhat unconventional methods to track missing people.
Mike Brody is somewhat apprehensively looking forward to a vacation on a dude ranch with his ex-wife and son Andy, setting aside (hopefully) their disagreements for the sake of their son. But nothing turns out as well as we wish it would on a vacation and Mike is no different than the rest of us. He is soon sought out by Lizbeth McCarthy, detective who knows Mike's tracking past and wants him to put his talents to work to find an asthmatic boy who somehow disappeared in the woods around their dude ranch.
During The Last Track, we see Mike with a variety of people, all so different in personalities and lifestyles that quite frankly are as mysterious as they are fascinating, it is hard for the reader to say "I know who dunnit" until the very last bit of the novel. For me, an avid suspense reader, this is what makes Sam's book a hit! There is nothing quite so annoying as figuring out the storyline during the first few chapters yet feeling you must finish the book to make sure.
To be sure, Sam doesn't fully explain all the characters but in the first book of a series that is to be expected as I am sure many of these self same characters will appear again and again, revealing bits about themselves as they evolve within Sam's book.
Sam, throughout the book, does not want to talk about his "gift" which to some may seem supernatural but to this reader, I see it as a gift given to help him to go to the aid of others when they need it more quickly than in perhaps the use of more traditional methods of tracking. I find this aspect of Mike to be appealing and endearing while I also see an inner strength in him through his gift. Though he seems like a regular guy, nothing about Mike's past is ordinary. Mike is also an ex-Special Forces operative, a smoke jumper, and at this time, an extreme adventure tour guide, so fear is not in his vocabulary. But because he is such a private person he keeps his gift of having an extra ordinary ability to "feel and see" the memories and emotional state of those he is pursuing.
But a teen from a nearby campsite is missing and Mike has been asked to help find Sean who has inexplicably disappeared without a trace. Here is where the reader must place himself/herself in the shoes of Sean's parents. Suddenly they discover their son is missing. The last time they saw him, he was safely near their campsite and was happy. Then mere hours later, without a trace he was gone. Add to that the fear that Sean's asthma requires him to take medication on a regular basis and you have a suspenseful book with a clock you can almost hear in the background. It is a matter of life or death for Sean when it comes to his asthma and running through the trees, does nothing but worsen this problem for Sean.
But Sean must run. He saw something transpire that he knows if he is caught by the wrong person or persons, he is as good as dead, so despite his weariness and declining health, Sean runs on from an unseen pursuer bent on finding him before Mike does. His love of running and stamina is of utmost importance as the reader finds out soon that Sean is capable of pushing himself far beyond what his limits should be.
As Mike works in the woods, behind the scenes is his ex-wife, who just happens to be a well-connected journalist who has endless contacts of which she uses to unravel the truth behind the murder. Undoggedly Jessica digs and digs until the ace reporter in her shines and she finds the information through a maze of leads and contacts, that searchers and Mike so desperately need.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any and all who love suspense novels with a bit of the unusual and a lot of tension combined. Author Sam Hilliard has done all that and more and in my honest opinion, has a firm start to what could be an exciting series starring Mike Brody ahead!

*excerpt from Book Blogs Review of The Last Track. To read more go to:

Friday, June 18, 2010

If you like a mystery/suspense that is reminiscent of The Bourne Identity and 24

If you like a mystery/suspense that is reminiscent of The Bourne Identity and 24, you will love this novel by Sam Hillard. It is full of non-stop, heart pumping action that will keep you reading until the wee hours of the night. I could not put this book down! The Last Track is very well-written and I love the characters, all of whom are developed in a very real fashion. This book would make an awesome movie. I hope to see a sequel, or at the very least another book by Hillard that develops the character of Mike Brody. I will definitely be reading more of Sam Hillard's work in the future! A huge thumbs up indeed!

BUY IT: You can purchase The Last Track online, from
*excerpt from review on A Mom After God's Own Heart. To read more go to:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Last Track starts off with a bang and never lets up.

The Last Track starts off with a bang and never lets up.  I was completely engrossed from the first page.  Not only did the storyline intrigue me, but the character of Mike Brody fascinated me as well.

The book has a great suspense plot, but that is not the sole focus.  It also focuses on Mike as a person and how he feels about what he does and about his life.  I liked his talent, it's different and very useful, but you can also see the stress it puts on him.  He wants to do his best for everyone, but he can't do it all and he struggles with this in some ways and has control in others.  I found him interesting because he pretty much says what he thinks and doesn't let social graces get in the way of finding someone.  His ex-wife, Jessica is also an integral part of the story.  Between the two intersecting storylines, there is never a dull moment in this book.

There is so much going on in this book at times I found myself a little confused, but I would quickly figure it out and move right along with the plot.  I really found myself wishing this was not a busy week and I could have sat down and read this from start to finish in one sitting and really enjoyed it.  It breaks up well too though since each day is divided into times and the viewpoint varies between Sean (the missing boy), Mike, Jessica and the bad guys.  With these varied viewpoints I really felt like I got to see this story from all sides, yet there was still plenty that was left to figure out. In fact, during most of the book, I kept wondering if that person or this person was in cahoots with Crotty (the known bad guy).  But it was kept tense right up until the end. 

Mr. Hilliard does a wonderful job with characters and plot making this a fast and enjoyable read.  I hope the Mike Brody series continues because I really enjoyed this first installment and hope to learn even more about Mike during further books. 

My Rating:  4.5/5.0

*excerpt from review on My Reading Room. To read more go to:

Pump Up Your Book Chats with Sam Hilliard

Thank you for this interview, Sam. Do you remember writing stories as a child or did the writing bug come later?  Do you remember your first published piece?
Reading was my first love; an interest in writing came much later. In school, two teachers encouraged me more than the rest, Brenda Bigelow and later Dr. Mary Balkun. I can’t say I deserved their encouragement at the time, but I recognized what a big difference it can make when someone you respect believes in your writing. In the intervening years between college and starting The Last Track, I basically fought writing every step of the way.
The first piece of writing I received some compensation for was during high school, when I wrote a series of short but very acerbic movie reviews for the local newspaper.
What do you consider as the most frustrating side of becoming a published author and what has been the most rewarding?
Randy Pausch said something like the wall between you and your goal offers you a chance to prove how badly you really want what’s on the other side of it. Framing challenges like that helps defuse some of the frustrations of the path to being published.
As for the most rewarding, it is nice to see the bound book, with its glossy cover, on a shelf. Someone just sent me a picture of The Last Track in their library, filed right after Fitzgerald and Hemingway. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Are you married or single and how do you combine the writing life with home life?  Do you have support?
Right now I live with a poet (Lisa Sisler), which is a fantastic experience. For me, the only way to combine the writing life with the home life is to live with someone who understands the process and the resulting emotions, without taking either personally. That means living either with another writer or with someone who is very empathetic yet thick skinned at the same time.
The fact that she writes poetry instead of fiction keeps us from butting heads, too. Poets try to change the world 100 words at a time, while novelists avoid revealing anything about themselves in nearly 100,000. Poets nurture a sense of camaraderie among their peers; they honestly want to see other poets succeed. Not so for novelists, who often imagine their colleagues—read the competition—tumbling headfirst down a concrete stairwell. If there’s a team of rabid alligators waiting at the bottom, even better.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not writing?  Where do you like to vacation?  Can you tell us briefly about this?
When I’m not writing I study Krav Maga (and bits and pieces of other martial arts), play bass and guitar. Where time allows I work out, usually 4-5 days week. I keep delaying the completion of my skydiving license, but if I put my intentions out into the universe enough times, well, I’ll just have to follow through.
I’ve learned to enjoy traveling as an adult, as a kid we couldn’t get anywhere and back fast enough for my liking. I really liked Switzerland and Moscow; I plan on seeing St. Petersburg, Finland, Australia and Alaska in the next few years.

If you could be anywhere in the world for one hour right now, where would that place be and why?
Churchill, Manitoba watching the Northern Lights dance across the sky. The wonder of it trumps any description I might muster.
Who is your biggest fan?
I’m not going to drop names, since a number of people have told me they are my biggest fan, and it is my job not to disabuse them. Personally I like to think I’m the biggest fan of Betty White.
Where’s your favorite place to write at home?
Whether on a laptop or a desktop computer, I will only use a keyboard placed on a flat surface, one deep enough it that supports my forearms from wrist to elbow, and keeps the two joints as close to parallel at all times. Carpal tunnel syndrome has claimed far better authors than me, and so far this configuration has prevented it. So that sort of writing desk is my first, my last, my everything.
Do you have any pets?
Meet the Cat Army: Oedipus, Electra, Mooshy and Abra. It’s a blended squad, with half the unit loyal to me, the remaining troops answer to Lisa.
Tell us a secret no one else knows.
I think when Death finally comes knocking, he’ll first try and sell me a set of those Japanese knives they hawk on late night infomercials.
What’s on your to do list today?
1) To make it through this and twenty-seven other interviews alive.
2) Clean the cat box.
Not necessarily in that order.
Now I’ve got a couple of fun questions for you.  If Tom Hanks, in the movie Cast Away, unearthed a copy of your book, how would that help him find a way off the island?
Mr. Hanks would actually stay on the island and read the book aloud over and over to Wilson.
You have a chance to appear on the hit talent show for authors, American Book Idol, with judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Kara Dioguardi and the newest addition, Ellen DeGeneres, to determine whether your book will make it to Hollywood and become a big screenplay where you’d make millions of dollars.  What would impress them more – your book cover, an excerpt or your author photo – and why?
I would direct them to the book trailer, which is a mini movie in itself. As a bonus, the book cover appears at the end.
You just got word that your book has received the 2010 NY Times Bestselling Book Award and you have to attend the ceremony to give an acceptance speech.  Anyone who’s anyone will be there and it’s your shot for stardom.  What would you say and who would you thank?
Probably something like, “And they told me I couldn’t sleep my way to the top!” Then I’d recite the 2 pages of acknowledgments from the back of my book. At that point they would likely cut to a commercial while they carried me bodily from the stage, still clinging to the microphone.
I understand that you are touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotion in June and July via a virtual book tour. Can you tell us all why you chose a virtual book tour to promote your book online?
I like traveling but hate waiting in security lines. Going virtual sidesteps the inconvenience of a pat down. A virtual tour is cheaper than traveling as well. My credo has always been never pay retail, which definitely rules out flying this summer.
Thank you for this interview, Sam. Good luck on your virtual book tour!
The honor is all on this side of the screen. Thanks for your time!

*excerpt from interview on Pump Up Your Book. To read more go to:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gripping mystery with a paranormal twist.

What is going on in the forested hills surrounding Pine Woods Ranch?  Who is involved and how far will they go?  These are the questions I continually asked myself while reading The Last Track.  I had originally thought that the focus of this novel would be on Mike Brody's unusual paranormal talent, however, the suspense of the mysterious events that unfold during this story overshadow the paranormal aspects of this book.  This is not, in my opinion, a negative.  Filled with interesting real-world characters and laced with a tangled web of lies, deceit, treachery and greed The Last Track will ensnare your imagination and keep you turning pages hunting for clues and eager to learn what happens next!

I recommend The Last Track to readers of suspense thrillers and mysteries, especially to fans of mysteries with paranormal or supernatural elements.  This is a wonderful debut of the Mike Brody series.  I look forward to reading more of Mike Brody's adventures in the future.

Be sure to visit Sam Hilliard's guest blog here.  Comment on Sam Hilliard's guest blog before midnight EST June 16th for a chance to win a Last Track postcard and bookmark!
*excerpt from review of The Last Track on From The Shadows. To read more go to:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fabulous Review on Seize The Book . . .

I like to read books that are fast paced and keep me on my toes. I enjoy mystery and suspense, stories that keep me guessing until the very end.

The Last Track by Sam Hilliard is that kind of book. I didn't want to put it down. Each scene pulled me into the next as the characters entered conflict after conflict.

Have you ever read the last few pages of a book before you read the rest and then regretted it later? I admit I was tempted to do that with this one because as I read the first few chapters, there were so many suspects in my mind that I was getting impatient to know "whodunit". However, I'm so glad I didn't. It would have spoiled the whole experience for me. Instead, I went on reading, content to try and figure it out as I went along. And as I came to the last chapters, I found that I had figured some of it right, but there were still some surprises at the end. This was good writing.

The Last Track: A Mike Brody NovelThe main character of The Last Track is Mike who, with great accuracy, can track people who are missing. The local police ask him to find a boy who has witnessed a murder and has run into the nearby woods. Mike sets off with one of the officers and finds himself the target of the ones who are behind the murder. There's also Mike's ex-wife, Jessica, and his son, Andy, who have their own share of troubles as a result of Mike's involvement in the case. As Mike gets closer to finding the boy, the murderers scheme to get rid of him and anyone else who threatens to reveal their identity.

I thought the story was entertaining. The characters were believable and the theme quite unique (I don't remember reading a book of fiction about tracking before). There seemed to be just enough detail about the art of tracking to keep my interest without making the author look like a know-it-all.

This is a great debut novel. I'm looking forward to more by this authorThe Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel.

*from the blog: Seize The Book - to read more follow this link:

Why Some Writers go Cat and Never go Back . . .

Long before publishing became a viable career path, writers turned to pets for companionship, love and the occasional moment of inspiration. As is the case with pet owners, writers often forge a particular allegiance to one kind of pet, be it a cat or dog. While felines and canines can coexist quite well, since writers tend to work at home, they seldom introduce chaos—at least intentionally—into their workplace. So it’s generally one kind of pet or the other. And sometimes it can be quite a lot of that kind.
More than fifty cats roamed Hemingway’s grounds and writing studio; however, most writer’s cat households are more modest in size. Regardless of the number though, the real question of why some writers prefer cats remains unanswered.
As the head of my own Cat Army, Oedipus, Electra, Abra, and Mooshy, I have given the question of why writers go cat great consideration—usually while cleaning up hairballs.
1) Generally quiet. This is critical since most writers alternate between broke and destitute and therefore must rent their abode. A quiet cat makes for a happier landlord. Since cats sleep roughly 65 percent to 95 percent of the workday, depending on the make, model, and age they don’t have many opportunities to make noise.
2) Legal reasons. Plenty of housing complexes restrict dog ownership, but allow cats. Irony is such a cunning mistress.
3) Self-regulating by nature. As long their human provides clean water, food, and checks on the litter box periodically, the cat usually takes care of the rest. No need to rush home to walk them. Going away for the weekend isn’t a problem either. That’s just more bed for them.
4) Cats communicate directly. For instance, when the cat wants his person to start writing so he can claim his bed again, he might gnaw pages left on the night stand. After going a few rounds with an editor, this might seem refreshing but can make the rewrite fun and it generally achieves the desired result of a now writer-free bed.
5) Superior memory. While the writer can’t remember where he put his favorite pen, the cat does. It’s hidden in their lair behind the couch, right where they dragged it.
6) Esoteric taste in people food. Pork rinds, beef jerky, pork lo mien and uncooked pasta are just some of things I’ve caught my cats nibbling.
Hopefully this sheds some light on one of the most pressing questions in contemporary fiction.

 *excerpt from a guest blog by Sam Hilliard that appeared on The Book Faery 6/9/2010
To read more - follow this link:

Monday, June 7, 2010

If It's Monday . . . It Must Be From The Shadows

Here is Sam's quite humorous guest blog:

I have often wondered what it is to be “Jersey”. Originally from the Midwest, I’m still an outlander in the Garden State, for certain. I guess I can live with that, but to say I’m not Jersey after fifteen years, means that membership takes more than just living here, even on a full-time basis. Watching the Jersey Shore only qualifies one in part, as most of its viewers (and all but one of the actors) reside elsewhere.

Perhaps being Jersey can be earned. I did sell cigarettes to Kevin Smith one night in Red Bank. It was during my short stint as a convenience store clerk (a very Jersey thing). Then again, he moved to Hollywood Hills, so that might not count. Then there is the proximity factor; I’ve dated a number of Jersey Girls. Also, my ex-father in law almost had Bruce Springsteen arrested for flying a remote control airplane—but then changed his mind when he realized the trespasser was The Boss.

This matter is personal, because my current girlfriend (Jersey for life) single-handedly changed the word Jersey from a noun to a modifier, as in “don’t make me go Jersey on you.” That’s how her mentor introduced her at a graduation ceremony—held in New Hampshire.

I suppose most people would just let it go. Everyone comes from somewhere, be it Senegal or Mendham. I’m no exception. Yes I’m from the epicenter of the United States but I still know where to get Taylor ham or a gyro at three in the morning. Answer: a diner. Which diner has the best disco fries? Answer: all of them.

But I think I found something that earns my place, right next to Kirsten Dunst (from Point Pleasant, New Jersey). Tonight Bon Jovi (from Sayreville, New Jersey) opens the new Meadowlands Arena with its first rock concert. And I will be there.

And watching Jon still standing tall in his backyard and mine? That makes me Jersey. At least a little, at least for tonight.

Visit From the Shadows on June 14th for my review of The Last Track by Sam Hilliard.  

I loved this book and think you will too!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Last Track - Reviewed by Lit Fest Magazine

by Sam Hilliard

After reading the first paragraph of “The Last Track” by Sam Hillard, I knew it was the book for me.  Hilliard’s style reminds me a bit of James Patterson, both intriguing and creative.  His characters are well defined and powerful, he kept me guessing throughout the entire book. 

Mike Brody is a tracker with very special skills and an extensive background as a former Special Forces operative and smoke jumper.  He is driven to accomplish whatever tasks are at hand, no matter what the danger.  I really enjoyed the fact that he used his head and instincts rather than violence in this book. 

Mike and his family go to a dude ranch in Montana to spend some quality time together.  Immediately, Mike is told he’s needed because a young boy is missing and his Special Forces skills are needed to help find the boy.  As the search begins, many things work against him and he can’t get a clear picture of who is complicating his search, or why.  I really loved Mike’s tenacity and character.  He pushes forward even when all that is important to him is at risk. 

I think you will enjoy getting to know Mike Brody.

* excerpt from Lit Fest Magazine. to read more go to:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Interview: Author Sam Hilliard on Book Lover's Inc.

Let's welcome debut Author, Sam Hillard, who has recently released his fist novel called: "The Last Track"

First of all, we'd like welcome you to Book Lovers Inc.!

Sam Hillard: Thanks so much for having me! It’s great to be here.

The Crazy Lover: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sam Hillard: I live outside out of NYC with my girlfriend and an army of four cats. For fun I read, play bass, work out, study martial arts and complain about the government. Six years ago, I started work on The Last Track, which released this Spring.

The Crazy Lover: What's your favorite book at the moment? 

Sam Hillard: Possum Living which is the story of a girl and her dad who lived for years almost entirely off the grid, raising their own food right in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. Fascinating stuff.

The Crazy Lover: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Sam Hillard: Readers enjoy books but their habit rarely encroaches on their living space. Book lovers have rooms stacked with books and a perpetual balance on their, B&N or Borders credit cards.

The Crazy Lover: In which genre would you place your book: The Last Track?
Sam Hillard: It’s both a mystery and a thriller, with the best parts of each (hopefully). The story moves fast and hinges on suspense and cliffhangers—like a thriller. But there’s a case to be made that Mike is a different sort of detective, somewhat in the vein of a classic mystery, though the ending is not one today’s sophisticated readers can unravel by page 12.

The Crazy Lover: What has drawn you into writing a mystery book with a certain paranormal aspect?
Sam Hillard: The paranormal part arose from working out Mike’s back story, and the reason he acts as he does. Without a motivation, I couldn’t finish the book. And in so divining his motivation, I smacked right into the sources of the paranormal aspect of his ability, which first appeared during his childhood and the circumstances of his own abduction. Tracking is the science of observation and empathy and while there are plenty of trackers who get results, there’s something more going on with Mike. The manner in which he perceives some of these details about people (and not just the missing) can not be entirely explained.

The Crazy Lover: Can you tell a little bit about the Mike Brody series?
Sam Hillard: Mike Brody is the man you want, when the one you love is missing. He’s able to tap into the memories and emotional charges left behind by the missing in their tracks and visualize the events that led to their disappearance. The series will follow the adventures of Mike, his ex-wife Jessica and a cast of recurring characters, as he moves from case to case, searching for that mission that will finally heal his childhood wounds.

The Crazy Lover: Was "The Last Track" your first novel? How long did it take to write it?
Sam Hillard: It took six years from initial idea till I was holding the bound copy in my hands, though 90 percent of the writing was done in about two and a half years.

The Crazy Lover: How many books do you have planned in the series?

Sam Hillard: More than a few. Right now, I have ideas for at least seven.

The Crazy Lover: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Sam Hillard: For me there is no typical writing day, though my writing sessions usually are late at night or early in the morning. If I feel like writing and have free time, I’ll do so. That might mean writing on vacations, holidays, weekends or right after going out to dinner, but I’ve learned to work with my interest levels, rather than against them. When it doesn’t feel like a job, that’s when the characters take over and time stops mattering.

One thing I’ve also learned, if I don’t feel like writing, there’s usually a reason for it. So I don’t. If that makes for a little more effort in my the next session, so be it. Some writers try to sell novices (in a rather discouraging way) on the notion that writing is real super serious business, and you must hunker down at the keyboard even when you don’t feel like it, because that’s the only way to make deadlines.

While consistency does get results, and obviously deadlines matter, if you are feeling like what you are doing is laborious, honestly, write something else. If it still persists, maybe stop taking yourself so seriously? Writing is an escape for the author as much as the reader, the finished pages are merely a bridge between the two.

As far as pants versus plans, I do tend to plan a lot, like the typical neurotic OCD writer; it’s hard to write thrillers without at least a skeleton outline, but when things start happening on the page, the best laid schemes get in the backseat.

The Crazy Lover: Do you have any plans or ideas for more books or series?

Sam Hillard: Plenty of plans and ideas, though most are for mystery/thrillers, in addition to the adventures of Mike Brody.

The Crazy Lover: What is up next in your schedule?

Sam Hillard: The sequel to The Last Track slated for Holidays 2011.

The Crazy Lover: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions!

Sam Hillard: Thanks so much for having me. May you enjoy a lifetime of great reading!

* excerpt from Interview and Giveaway on Book Lover's Inc site
To read more go to:

The Story Behind Sam Hilliard’s Suspense Novel ‘The Last Track'

    It really began with a fire that threatened to consume everything. More precisely it was a firing. And at its center: my wallet. Three days after my honeymoon, I was terminated. This development trailed the second dot-com bust and was years before the Sweet-Bejezus-Will-It-Ever-End-Recession of 2007.
I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands—and not by choice. A few years before that, things were very different. Like the rest of the country, I had a job, but very little free time. But I also had an idea lurking in the back corners of my brain.
   Several miles into a hike, deep in the woods, I had been struck by their sheer enormity and how easy it might be to disappear in that terrain, forever. For some reason—I’ll never understand why—the weight of that realization just struck me like an electric bolt down a high tension wire. Out of nowhere, I said: “I’m going to write books about a guy who finds people who are missing in the woods.”
   For some reason that claim, grandiose at it seemed, stuck with me. And when I got fired, as a lawyer might assert, I suddenly had motive and the opportunity. So I started writing.
   From those pages came Mike Brody, the man you want when the one you love is missing. Through the endless rewrites, the eternal pitches to the agents and the near-altar offers of representation, to finally going direct and finding a publisher, it always came back to Mike Brody and the story I believe he wanted told. I kept pressing ahead for his sake. When I had doubts, even when the only “encouragement” arrived in the form of a rejection letter, I thought back to the beginning.
  That day I had looked through the trees and saw them not as woods, but as another world.
  The kind of world Mike and I want to keep disappearing in.

*excerpt from
To read more follow this link

Thursday, June 3, 2010

From the Marketing Desk - Latest Review for The Last Track

Somewhere in the woods near Pine Woods Ranch in Montana a fourteen-year-old boy is not only missing, but is also an eyewitness to a murder. The first of the Mike Brody series, The Last Track by Sam Hilliard is an emotionally charged mystery thriller. After an emotionally exhausting 14 hour drive to Montana with his ex-wife and 8-year-old son, Mike Brody is ready to begin the week-long vacation at the dude ranch. What he does not expect is a sea of police cruisers and to be approached by a detective Lisbeth McCarthy who recognizes Mike Brody and asks for his expertise in being able to sense things others cannot. This is not the first time Mike Brody has been called in to help find a missing person, yet his partner in the search, Officer Dagget, takes an instant dislike to Brody and at best believes him to be a fraud. Hilliard's debut novel is well crafted in a believable scenario with thrilling plot twists, turns, and deceptions. His characters are so well written the reader will definitely need to stay on their toes while reading this novel as Hilliard does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing just who is who. The Last Track takes place over a four-day period with each chapter sectioned off by time and told by several different characters, each with their own agendas, some good, some nefarious, yet all intriguing. The Last Track flows well and offers up just enough plot twists to delight any mystery thriller fan. I recommend The Last Track to anyone looking for a good mystery thriller and personally look forward to future Mike Brody mysteries.

I truly enjoyed the book and strongly recommend it.
Photobucket*excerpt from Review/Article on Rundpinne   
To read more:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sam Hilliard sets off on a 2 Month Virtual Tour- Intrigue, Suspense, Murder, and much more . . .

Sam has set off on his Two Month Virtual Book Tour! Watch for him at a blog/site near you!
Sam's Virtual Tour has begun! He will be touring throughout June and July! Catch him as he fields questions, chats with readers, and does guest blog posts.
June 2010

1-Jun Paperback Writer - 7 Reasons to Read The Last Track

2-Jun Paperback Writer - Q & A with Sam

2-Jun The Writers Life - Interview

3-Jun Rundpinne - Review

4-Jun Book Lover's Inc. Interview with Sam and a chance to win a signed copy of The Last Track!

4-Jun The Story Behind the Book - Sam talks about what inspired him to write The Last Track

7-Jun From the Shadows - Sam answers the question - What is "Jersey"?

8-Jun The Examiner - Interview with Sam

9-Jun The Book Faery Reviews - Why Some Writers Go Cat and Never Go Back

10-Jun Pump Up Your Book - Interview

11-Jun Seize the Book Blog - Review

14-Jun From the Shadows - Review

15-Jun Readaholic - Review

17-Jun My Reading Room - Review

18-Jun A Mom After God's Own Heart - Review

21-Jun Book Marketing Buzz - Interview with Sam

22-Jun The Hot Author Report - Five Things You Didn't Know About Sam

23-Jun The Hot Author Report - The Internet - Killing Publishing But Saving Readers and Writers (Guest Blog)

24-Jun The Hot Author Report - Interview

25-Jun The Hot Author Report - Review

July dates and locations to come!