Guest Hound, John Theo

Welcome, John Theo

By Jeff Salter

Can’t recall exactly when I first encountered John, but undoubtedly it was sometime this year at the site where several of us Clean Reads authors gather to chew and spit and swap tall tales. Well, at least we gather…

John has an amazing range of writing experience… in more genres than you can count. [Makes me jealous]. Anyway, I was intrigued by his new release, White Mountains’ False Flag, so I invited John to be my Guest Hound today and tell us a bit more about his riveting new novel.


A New Hampshire Park Ranger uncovers a government conspiracy buried deep in the woods.


Ransom Doniphon is a Park Ranger working in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. While on a helicopter search-and-rescue mission he spies a makeshift shelter deep within the woods. When Ransom and his partner investigate there is a shootout leaving three men dead. What at first appears to be a mobile drug lab hidden in the woods turns out to be a home grown terrorist cell with roots that run deep into state and federal government.



The man outside the tent had a bowie knife in his hand and a 1911 handgun in a kydex holster on his right hip. There was a high probability the guy in the tent was armed as well. It was clear that he would need backup. Ransom started to sneak away. His stomach dropped when he turned to face another man. A third man. He was in his fifties and held a bolt-action deer rifle which he pointed directly at Ransom.

Interview Questions:

  1. What would it take to get you out of New England? Or could it ever happen?

[ John ] — There is a lot to love about New England, and my roots run deep here. New England plays a backdrop on various levels in all of my stories. After living near the sea for decades though, I have contemplated life out in the country. The Theo’s are a Christian family, so my wife and I would move anywhere if we felt “called”.

  1. I see you’ve written in numerous formats besides book length fiction. What’s your favorite means of written expression (as the writer)? How about as a reader?

[ John ] — I enjoy writing short stories, novels and screenwriting, but my favorite is book length fiction. Under that umbrella, my favorite format is writing in third person. Other than omniscient point of view I (personally) find third person the most challenging POV to write in, and the most rewarding. My murder mystery novel, Cape Ann, was written in first person, which was fun to write in. For me, it allowed you to jump into a character’s head much easier than third or omniscient. Screenwriting is by far the easiest format to write in. You don’t have to weave a story poetically like you do in prose. You set the scene up with a few lines and jump right into dialogue. Very formula driven.

  1. From the blurb, it appears your new release features conspiracies… or fears about them. In writing this novel, were you worried that readers might identify YOU (the author) with your characters who seem obsessed with conspiracies?

[ John ] — I wish they were all conspiracy theories, but most of the storylines in White Mountains’ False Flag, are pulled directly from news headlines over the past few years. Yesterday’s conspiracy theory is fast becoming today’s reality. Quantitative easing to infinity, government shutting down monuments and parks to force congress to raise the debt ceiling, spying on citizens using smart technology are just a few. It’s a sad state of affairs the country is in.

  1. Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?

[ John ] — I think most lay people don’t understand writers and how much work goes into creating a novel. I get a lot of pats on the shoulder from people who say, “Congrats on your new book, how about them Red Sox.” I’m like, “Dude, I just spent two years of my life working on this. Can I get a share on Facebook or something?”
I do feel driven to write, but I make sure it’s not how I am identified. For me, I’m a Christian first, a husband, a father, brother, and son before I’m a writer. It doesn’t mean writing is not a priority, but placing my writing in its place has actually made me better at the craft. Ironically this will help insulate you for when criticism comes along, which is a guarantee.

  1. If you were not a writer, can you imagine what else you might do to express the creativity within you?

[ John ] — I would probably dabble in film more. I’ve been on television and acted a little. I still have one foot in the door so to speak with my YouTube channel. I started it primarily to talk about my books and the writing process, but have added a myriad of other topics such as American history, apologetics, comedic spoofs and politics.

  1. If sales (money) and critics (reviews) were immaterial to you, what genre and length would you write?

[ John ] — I’ve been fortunate to have been published in young adult fiction and across different adult genres so I’d continue to “dabble”. I think Y/A holds a special place for me due to stories I read growing up. Y/A novels can speak to both kids and adults about topics that range from humor, grieving, romance and God. Adult fiction doesn’t have that vertical mobility.

  1. Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.

[ John ] — A New Hampshire teacher read my Y/A book, The Grotto Under the Tree, to her class a few years back. I came in for a visit to read the last chapter to them. There were gasps when I read the last page and heard kids whispering. It was so much fun to see the excitement on their faces. Weeks later the class wrote me thank you notes expressing their love of the book. The cute hand written misspelled notes were so heartwarming. I still have them.

  1. In the interviews & blog questions you’ve handled over the years, what is one writing question which you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked?

[ John ] — I loved your question #2 which I’ve never received before!
I would add a question like “What advice do you have for writers starting out?”

  1. What’s your answer to # 8 above?

[ John ] — * I think this is important for writers to have perspective. I tell my students don’t put your life on hold for the “art.” Don’t be that guy/gal who thinks it’s “all about the art.” Art is very important. On some level art could change culture and the world, but it should not be how you identify yourself. Legendary film maker Francis Ford Coppola once said the best thing he did for his film career was to get married. Live your life. Paradoxically, when I placed writing in its correct spot in my life (behind God and family) my writing improved and my novels started getting published.
* Find a mentor. I could have shaved years off my learning curve if I had someone who could have helped me navigate a lot of pitfalls and simply be there to answer questions.
* Stay out of debt as much as possible. This will allow you more time and flexibility to tack left or right when financial bumps in the road come along. With a lot of debt you may have to hold two jobs to make ends meet, which means less time available to write. Kids are leaving school now with a bachelor’s degree owing $100-200k in student loans. The deck is already stacked against them. Don’t add to this if you can help it.
* Try to carve out consistent times to write. It’s different for everyone, but don’t feel like you need two hour window of free time or you can’t write. I wrote the majority of White Mountains’ False Flag in twenty minute increments at lunch.


AUTHOR: John Theo Jr.


John received an MFA in creative writing from Pine Manor College, in Chestnut Hill MA. He has a long publishing history in non-fiction. White Mountains’ False Flag is his fourth fiction novel. John lives in Massachusetts with his family and teaches screenwriting at Endicott College in Beverly Massachusetts.







 * * * *

John’s Question for you:

What genre is your favorite to read? What POV is your favorite to read in?

[JLS # 303]

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Wendy Knight’s Cauldron Bubble

By Angie Schroeder

The guest post that was planned for today fell through due to some unforeseen circumstances so I am going to tell you about the last book I read. It was a lovely story by the talented Wendy Knight titled Cauldron Bubble.

“You’ve just always been the powerful one. I’m the smart aleck.”
“We’re the same. I’m night, you’re day. You have to have both to have life.”
“You can hide in the shadows.”
“And you can shine like the sun. This prophesy is about both of us.”

Destiny doesn’t think she’s anything special. The daughter of an outcast witch. Her twin, Fate, is her best friend, so that’s awesome. They’re experts in love potions and selling them to crazy high school kids.
So they can buy more shoes.
But that all changes when their school is attacked by warlocks—warlocks who want her power for their own. The attack launches her onto the path the stars have chosen for Destiny, Fate, and their long-lost father.
Oh, and Quin.
Quin, who’s the son of a witch, only tolerating Destiny’s presence because she can save his mother. Except along the way, that all changes, and he realizes Destiny is everything he never knew he wanted. The only problem is she thinks if love can be made from a potion, it can’t be a real thing.
If they survive this, he’s going to prove her wrong.
My Thoughts
This story was a great adventure with a dash of romance. I thoroughly enjoyed the action scenes but what I LOVED about this story is the family connection. Destiny and Fate naturally have the twin bond but the way they interact with their mother. The love and respect that they have for her is refreshing I a day where parents are often portrayed as fools.
The storyline is so unique and well thought out that only part way through the book I started imagining how great of a movie this would be. You know the stories that you read and you get so pulled in that you cam see it as if watching a movie? Cauldron Bubble is one of those. And I was so happy to discover that there will be a sequel.
You can find Cauldron Bubble by Wendy Knight in Amazon and other ebook retailers.



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Guest Author: Christina Lorenzen


This week we’re inviting fellow authors to tell us about their books. I invited fellow sweet romance author Christina Lorenzen to share her holiday short story Snow Globe Reunion. I read this book soon after it released and was charmed by the vintage small-town vibe of the story. I asked Christina to tell us about how she came up with the idea for the story, and she kindly agreed. Take it away, Christina!


I have always wanted to write a Christmas story. My publisher, Lovely Christian Romance Press, had put out a call for writers interested in writing a story for her Snow Globe Christmas Collection. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was perfect for me. What better for a first Christmas book than a story that centers around one of the most sentimental, magical things associated with Christmas?

I have always loved snow globes and I have several that I put out each year at Christmas. There’s something about shaking a snow globe and just watching the glittery flakes scatter about the scenery. Carrie Sanders, my heroine, came to mind and somehow she was in O’Hare International airport in Chicago, trying to get home during a snowstorm. I wanted Carrie to find a snow globe that would affect her holiday trip home, but it couldn’t be just a regular snow globe. Mrs. Gibson, the mysterious woman Carrie chats with in the airport coffee shop, came out of thin air – both for me and Carrie. It’s the snow globe that she leaves behind in her tote bag that holds more answers for Carrie than she knew she needed.

I think the inspiration behind the story dates back to my childhood, when my parents would take me to visit my great aunt during the holidays. The two things I remember most about her are the upright piano in the living room and the snow globes scattered throughout her house. I think I shook every one of them, believing and hoping some kind of magic would happen. So, it’s no wonder that a story where one magical shake of a snow globe changes a woman’s life literally flowed from my fingers to my keyboard. Just like the snow globe in the story was inspired by snow globes from my past, several of the characters were inspired by people I know from my own town. Jimmy, the soldier Carrie encounters at the airport, is loosely based on a young son of a neighbor who recently left to serve our country. Mrs. Gibson, the eccentric mysterious woman Carrie meets in the airport coffee shop, is based on a rather eclectic woman from my church.

I find that many of my characters in my books are inspired by real life people with a little bit of nipping and tucking here and there. I’m not sure what’s more fun, creating characters from scratch or tweaking people from real life, when it comes to picking characters for a story. My daily travels inspire new story ideas and characters almost every day.

snow-globe-reunionBlurb for Snow Globe Reunion:
Stranded by a snowstorm, Carrie Sanders is left holding a bag an old woman she’d been talking to left behind in the airport coffee shop. Mystified by the woman’s disappearance, she sits on the bench staring at the snow globe that was in the bag.

Inside the glittery snowy world it’s Christmas during the 1940s. Fighting sleep, the next thing she knows she’s in the arms of the soldier she last saw skating on the pond in the snow globe. He’s no stranger, but the boy next door who never forgot her.

Author bio:
Christina started writing as a young teen, jotting stories in wire ring composition notebooks. Her first typewriter made it faster to get all those stories out of her head and down on paper. Her love of writing has sustained her through a myriad of jobs that included hairdresser, legal secretary, waitress and door-­to‑door saleswoman.

Luckily for her, writing proved to be successful and a lot less walking than going door to door. Harvest Blessings, a sweet small town romance, is Christina’s fourth book. She is also the author of A Husband for Danna, its sequel, A Wife for Humphrey, Harvest Blessings, and her recent Christmas release, Snow Globe Reunion. She is busy working on a modern retelling of the classic tale, Rapunzel. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found walking her dog, talking to her herd of cats and spending time with her family.

To find out about Christina’s upcoming releases, visit her website at

Snow Globe Reunion is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Christina Lorenzen can be found at her website and on Facebook, Amazon, Instagram, and Pinterest.

My thoughts:
I enjoyed this short time-travel novella set at Christmas time. Carrie learns a lot about herself during a visit to her grandparents’ past. Though she hasn’t worshipped in a long time, the faith and teachings instilled in her long ago come back to her when she needs them.


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Missing Bobby;Found Lamb

On this ‘Free Week” we were reminded of re-reading books by our Tuesday Fox, Joselyn. It lead me to think of how many times I re-read nursery rhymes, or insisted that they be read and re-read to me.

I have since learned that many of the old English rhymes have hidden political meanings, which were not-so-hidden when they were recited amid the folks of the time, by adults, not children.

I would prefer not to delve into those, but to keep the fun and innocence that I had when I became acquainted with them.

My mother was a product of off-the-boat Italians but her knowledge of English was impeccable; no one would ever have believed that she or her siblings did not have English as their first language, (except for one. One of her half-brothers who was born in the Italy was a scamp who kept his accent, which I firmly believe was to charm the ladies.) Indeed, my mother and all five of her sisters became executive secretaries, with positions that were second only to their bosses. Today, they probably would have had the men’s jobs.

But I digress. Mom was raised listening to Italian stories. And so, she learned standard nursery rhymes with us…mostly me. I was the one who wanted to be constantly read to.

She had bought a set of children’s stories for my brother and sister,(I was a surprise), but I got the most wear out of them. When my sister got to middle school, real encyclopedias joined the family. I was upset when, looking at the samples, she didn’t pick the one with the best pictures that also had nursery rhymes!

I liked “Little Boy Blue”. I liked “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”. “Ding-Dong Dell” made me sad, as did “Old Mother Hubbard”, and those “Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens”. “Jack and Jill” worried me, as did “The Old Woman in the Shoe”. “Hey Diddle Diddle” was always fun, “Old King Cole” was as well, and so was “Jack Horner” and also the “Jack”, (who was told to “Be Nimble”).

I was quite taken with “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” when little. When I was about 13, we got a kitten that looked just like a product of the union.
I remember even getting my sister to read “Wynken and Blynken and Nod” to me.

Interestingly, I read it to her kids and mine so much that I had it memorized…and it was waiting , tucked away in a corner of my brain for me to recite to my grandkids.

My mother particularly liked to sing and recite, “Sing a Song of Sixpence”. However, she changed the last line to have the blackbird sitting on the nose of the maid who was hanging out the clothes, as opposed to snapping it off.

At one point we had a very young cousin staying with us. When my sister and I were reciting rhymes to her, she asked for us to do “Bobby Shaftoe”; and she was pretty insistent. We had no idea how it went. It took many years before we found it, and ever since then, whenever some kid wanted an unknown story, song or rhyme, we referred to it as a “Bobby Shaftoe Situation”.

When I was in second grade, I was in a play which was a mash-up of nursery rhymes and kiddie songs. I was “Little Bo Peep” and I lost my sheep, but it was only one and he was “Baa-Baa Black Sheep”. We found that he wasn’t lost, “Johnny”, (“Who Was So Long at the Fair”), had him; Mother Goose reunited us.

(I’m dashing this off as many of you know, we had a medical emergency in my family. I have been tied-up for days and nights, but I wanted to post, especially since Joselyn jostled my memories!)
Are there any nursery rhymes that you particularly like? Any that you really don’t like?

Posted in Books, characters, childhood, experiences, Family, free week, imagination, memories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Does Size Really Matter?

Size DOES matter… when you’re only a foot tall.

By Jeff Salter

It’s a free week at 4F1H… just in time to share with y’all my newest novel, Size Matters — released Oct. 14 by TouchPoint Romance.


Accidentally swallowing a mysterious pill from her eccentric scientist cousin, Emma Hobby shrinks to under a foot tall. When she resumes normal size, she must track down her cousin, who’s obviously in trouble, based on those unsettling messages he left. Can those sci-fi miniaturization pills help find him? How about Logan Stride, the attorney who wants to handle more of Emma than her case?



Emma Hobby mistakenly takes a pill from a bottle mailed her by her eccentric/brilliant cousin — and it reduces her to eleven inches tall. Now she’s eye to eye with the Cyndi dolls she lovingly collects and sells in her shop.

Nobody – not even her best friend – believes her, so Emma takes another pill to see if it happens again. It DOES! This time she has a witness (Vickilee), who records things as they happen… and establishes a partial timetable.

Now that she thinks she knows what happens and when, can Emma use these pills somehow to help rescue her cousin? And will that handsome attorney she’s almost dating help her efforts? Or will Logan Stride just get in her way?


When you were a kid, did YOU play with Barbi dolls? Or G.I. Joe action figures? Both?

Order info:

New novel, only $1.99. Size Matters.

[JLS # 302]

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NaNo approaches

Autumn is here and that has me thinking of NaNoWriMo which starts in just a few weeks. I love NaNo. The Second Life of Magnolia Mae was written during camp NaNo. I like being able to write and post my word counts. I enjoy cheering on other writers as they work to complete their novels.


I wasn’t sure if I would participate this November because I still have not replaced my computer. Yesterday while at the store I saw some hardcover bound journals marked down to $2. I picked up 4 of them and decided I would write my story for NaNo in them. I have also decided that I need to finish Man in the Mist so I can start a fresh story on November 1.


I have always wanted to write a Christmas story but I have a hard time writing one during the spring and summer. I decided that now that it’s colder, the stores are setting out Christmas items, and snow will be falling before the end of November that it is time for me to write a Christmas story. So when the first of the month comes I will be sitting down at the table with a cup of hot tea and my hardcover journals so I can participate in National Novel Writing Month.


Are you (have you) participated in NaNoWriMo? Do you find the idea of writing a novel from start to finish in one month intimidating? I know I did the first time I joined in.


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Since I’m not writing that much, I’ve been reading a little more. I seem to be attracted to Regency historicals with wallflower  in the description.

I’ve stumbled on The Wallflower series by Lisa Kleypas. I’ve read a few of them several years ago, then picked up another one recently. The Devil in Winter features an unreformed rake who seems intent on staying that way and making sure his wallflower knows it. Reading this book prompted me to reread It Happened One Autumn. I know I read it before , but I don’t remember much about it. As I’m reading, the story is coming back to me. The rounders game and the cantankerous mother. I vaguely remember a carriage ride to Gretna Green, but I don’t remember the circumstances. I can’t wait to find out.

The other books in the series are Secrets of a Summer Night and Scandal in Spring. I remember Secrets and the cover of Scandal in Spring looks familiar, but I might have to read it again to refresh my memory.

Enjoying these books is also reminding me about the joy I find in writing. So I’m back to my bigfoot story and maybe I’ll get to that historical my friend keeps asking about.
Are there books that come back into your memory piece by piece?
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