Category Archives: Rocktober

#Rocktober Cover Reveal: Broken by Susan Helene Gottfried


The good news is that the editing is keeping me busy. The bad news is that means my writing is taking a hit. And given that a lot of my clients come to me because I am an author and I have my fingers in publishing, I suppose I gotta put up.

This one, I’m glad to put up. It’s my new short story, called Broken. Broken_One


My very longtime (I started to say old, but I don’t want either of us to be old) Metallica friend, Carol, did the cover. Go visit her. Tell her I sent you.  You deserve a cover by someone like Carol.

It’s a short story, as the cover makes pretty darn clear, and it’ll be for sale for 99c once it’s up and able to be preordered or out-and-out for sale. (Yes, I’m writing this in advance.)

Ready for the description? Too bad. Here it is.

For T and the rest of Ice Cubes in Hell, it’s a routine night backstage after their set, opening for the notorious Vanessa Kontempt. The party’s in full swing when T walks in, but she’s not in the mood. Not tonight. When she finds groupies raiding her stage clothes and one breaks the heel off one of her favorite boots, things spiral downward. As T confronts the band’s tour manager about the destruction, secrets are revealed. Secrets that might tear the band apart … or bring them closer.

I’m crazy proud of this story. Took me a long time to get right, and I had to run it past my editor, too, for help pulling it all together.

Buy links will be arriving as soon as I’ve got ’em. Pick up your copy and help me keep my fingers in the publishing pie.



#Rocktober approaches


It seems strange to be here at West of Mars and not be gearing up for Rocktober. And I am, albeit on a smaller scale this year, but over at The Rock of Pages. Jett’s trying to take over some of the load, but she’s been plenty busy this year, too.

Still, not everyone has transitioned over there, and this message will find eyes that may not see The Rock of Pages. So here it is.

If you’re a Rock Fiction author, feel free to stop in with one of the following posts:

An interview

A guest blog about why you Rock Fiction (or anything that ties into Rock Fiction)

A post about someone else’s Rock Fiction that you’d like to read

A review of someone else’s Rock Fiction that you have read.


And if you’re a fan, join in, too! Here’s what I’m looking for:

A post about Rock Fiction that you’d like to read.

A review of someone else’s Rock Fiction that you have read.


But, of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. If you have ideas that Jett and I haven’t thought of, holler. We’re open to anything. And if you want to join in but not at The Rock of Pages, that’s fine. Send us a link and we’ll get it up.

Rocktober is always fun. Don’t miss out.


Rocktober Hangovers


Whew. It’s been six days since November 1 hit and Rocktober ended and I’m still hungover as anything. What a month! What great books!

I hope you guys found some; there sure were enough of them.

I’m busy downloading Rock Fiction that many authors and friends were kind enough to send me. So kind, I don’t know how I’m going to get it all read — let alone which order to read it all in. Right now, I’m grateful for my Nook, which will save me from lugging all the books around and deciding which to read by using that old method of throwing them down the steps and reading whichever lands near the top ’cause I’m lazy.

Lots of Rock Fiction surprises await during the upcoming year, so stay tuned. The goal is to use the Rock Fiction genre as a lynchpin for some really cool changes and opportunities. After all, no one knows Rock Fiction or champions the genre more than yours truly (although Deena at e-Book Builders? Wow.)


Rocktober Features Anne-Marie Klein!


Even though my buddy Deena at e-Book Builders beat me to featuring Anne-Marie Klein and her awesome (but still unread over here) books, Anne-Marie gave me a doozy of a way to end Rocktober.

She’s written us a guest blog post of two of Toronto’s classic Rock and Roll landmarks.

Sam the Record Man
This photo was taken by Keith Seatman and is used here with his kind permission. You can see Keith’s work at: — at Sam the Record Man, iconic Toronto landmark, sadly no longer there.

Los Angeles had Tower Records and Toronto had Sam The Record Man: not only were these iconic record stores, but much like the long yellow banner with its bright red lettering evoked Sunset Boulevard, the twin neon records of Sam’s storefront epitomised the Yonge Street strip as the destination for music fans in the Toronto of the 1970s. The three floors had it all: rock, pop, folk, jazz, blues, reggae, punk, classical, and all sorts of smaller niche markets like children’s albums, foreign language bands, and comedy. You could get lost searching the endless rack of its multiple levels, and I often did.

The chain was started by Sam and Sidney Sniderman in 1937, and the flagship store was established on Yonge Street in 1961. While the double-discs of neon surely helped draw shoppers and make Sam’s a Toronto landmark, it was the wealth of records that kept music fans coming back. I remember my first purchase there—it was Let It Be by the Beatles, for slightly less than $4, and I know that I bought most of my 45s there too through the mid to late parts of the 1970s. I can still see the yellow and red discs of Styx’s Equinox and The Who’s Who Are You dangling on strings from the ceiling as promotional displays of the new “coloured vinyl” phase. It must have worked as a marketing ploy because I still have both copies in my collection.

The linoleum floor was often dirty and tiles curled up under your feet or cracked as you walked by, and the albums snaked up far above my 13-year-old body’s maximum reach, but I loved every corner of the place. I always stole a glance or two at the good-looking sales assistants between finger flips of the alphabetical racks: the young men always wore some kind of cool, faded concert tee-shirt and a nice fitting pair of Levi’s or Lee’s. I admit that on more than one occasion I asked questions to the ones I had a crush on in my teenager years despite already knowing the answers.

The beauty of the Yonge Street strip in the late 70s and early 80s was the proliferation of record stores within two blocks of its Dundas intersection—A&A’s, Music World, and Sunrise Records were all a few steps away from Sam’s, and jumping between them to hunt down bargains kept prices low and allowed me to rapidly expand my collection in a few short years. My favourite aventure was always heading down on Boxing Day, which coincided with my birthday and allowed me to spend gifted money from that and from Christmas and get many popular releases at door crasher prices.

The ultimate tribute I chose to give Sam’s was to let it grace the opening pages of the first book in my series, Behind Blue Eyes. It was a downtown destination for all Toronto music lovers, and so it seemed quite natural that one of my main characters would take her birthday money and spend it there. In those first few pages, she is my mirrored self, with the same Pink Floyd shirt and jeans, imitating me in every fashion except one—I never did meet my first love between those endless record racks. I did, however, just like her, walk out of Sam’s and find Eddie Money next door at A&A’s because on that day, the price was irrestible next door.

The ElMocambo Tavern:

The El Mocambo is another one of those Toronto landmarks that is partly famous for its iconic sign: much like Sam the Record Man’s double neon discs, the coconut palm of the tavern make it instantly recognizable. It hosted bands like U2, Elvis Costello, Blondie, and MeatLoaf in its heyday as a live venue for major rock acts. And there is that small matter of the infamous Rolling Stones gig there in 1977 involving some escapades with the band by Margaret Trudeau, then-wife of our Prime Minister…

I must confess that I have never stepped inside the El Mocambo. I was not old enough to see all the great bands that played there in the 70s, although I have fond memories of listening to the live Q107 presentations late on Friday or Saturday nights. It was through those shows that I developed a fondness for punk bands like the TRB (Tom Robinson Band). My connection to the tavern and nightclub is much more personal and goes back to the late 50s, when The German club rented some dance floor space. There, on a blind date in 1959, my smooth-stepping father met my mother and the rest, as they say, is history. It didn’t matter to me as a teenager that Jimi Hendrix or the Stones had played there as much as the idea that I could say to my classmates: ”Oh, yeah, my parents met at the El Mo.” Instant cool.

The El Mocambo was recently purchased with the intention of returning it to its former rock and roll glory. When the club is finally reopened, it will be time, I think, for me to finally do a pilgrimage.

Hey, lady, when it does, I am SO THERE with you!

Pick up Anne-Marie’s books!










Rock Fiction Readalong Wrapup


Well, just in time for the end of Rocktober, I finished Jessica Topper’s Louder Than Love.

Have you? What are your thoughts on it? You can read mine here, but here’s a preview: A West of Mars Recommended Read. You’ll have to click through to read exactly why, though.

Edited to add from Elizabeth at HEAS are us:

Jessica Topper is giving me an exclusive interview with Adrian from Louder Than Love on my blog on 11/8! I am collecting interview questions from any and all fans who want to know more about the British rocker that stole our hearts! If you have any burning questions for Adrian, please email them to heasrus at yahoo dot com by Friday, November 1!


Still More Rocktober gems


Ahh, it’s been a fabulous month of Rocktober goodies, has it not? Found something awesome to read this month?

And don’t forget to pick up your copies of Trevor’s Song and Demo Tapes 4 while they’re still on sale for 99c.

Already got ’em? Given them to friends? Then check out these titles, once again featured by the lovely Deena at e-Book Builders:

Rockin’ Across the Galaxy by David Kimmel. On the surface (very on the surface!), this reminds me of Rob Reid’s awesome Year Zero: science fiction, music, aliens attracted by rock and roll… But that seems to be where the similarities end. Year Zero, after all, was satire. Brilliant satire. This? Seems to take itself more seriously. I’d like to read it.

Another Rock Star by Paula Coots looks interesting. An openly gay man on the road? Well, history’s provided us with one — a man who managed to insert the gay culture into the heavy metal culture without most people knowing or even suspecting. (Anyone? Bueller?) Looking at the description of this one, I am most curious to read it, and not just because of the gay angle. Check out the excerpt on e-Book Builders.

And finally, author Sophie Monroe brings her Battlescars series to e-Book Builders. Deena is featuring the second book, but the third looks like it came out next month. I’m not sure what the overall arc of the series is; I need to investigate more. If you know, hit up the comments!


A Rocktober Wanna Read List


With Rocktober winding down, it’s time to catch up on some books I’ve come across in other areas.

Deena at e-Book Builders has been an amazing Rock Fiction proponent and a huge Rocktober participant this year. Let’s be sure to give her props, shall we?

Here’s what she’s blogged about this month that I have simply run out of time to tell you about:
Sanguinary, by Emma L Edwards. A reporter is asked to investigate why there are rumors of a band that’s linked to blood sucking.

She introduced us all to author Lisa Gillis and her Silver Strings series, which is about a couple trying to make it work. Currently there are two books… might there be a third?

Geoffrey West is featured with an excerpt of Rock and Roll Suicide (a title that sounds like it belongs to RJ McDonnell!

And then there’s the highly regarded Jill Edmondson. She stopped in at e-Book Builders with an excerpt of her third entry in the Sasha Jackson mystery series.

Confessions from Romaholics had the cover reveal for Eden Summers’ Passionate Addiction. This won’t be released until after Rocktober ends… maybe next year, Eden will release a Rock Fiction novel during Rocktober. I’d be glad to host the hoopla for that bit of fun.


The Creation of Rock Fiction


Here’s something a little different for you. Leslie Moon, whose blog I drop in on from time to time thanks to Triberr, has written a flash Rock fiction. Go check it out!


A new-to-me Rock Fiction author…


Deena at e-Book Builders is at it again! She has exposed me to so much more Rock Fiction than I’d ever expected… why’s everyone hiding from me? I’m really very nice…

She’s featuring author Rick Soper, who writes a Rock Fiction series that sounds intriguing, if a bit overpopulated (By Rick’s own admission, which makes me even more curious to read this series).

Go check him out. Let me know if you’ve read his books, and what you think if you have. I’m curious.


A Rock Fiction Trifecta


Here I go again with the horsie references… can you tell that a few weeks ago, my dreams of being a jockey (hey, I’m the right height!) came back and smacked me in the face?

Well, I’ve got something better than horses for you today. WAY better.

I have a trio of posts that Deena at e-Book Builders used to feature Rock Fiction author Jill Edmondson.

There’s the interview.

The excerpt.

And a guest blog post.

Wow, huh?

Go check it out. And if you’ve read Jill’s books, be sure to let me know what you think of them.


Why’s there a Rock in my Heart?


It’s Rocktober, so that can only mean that the ROCK refers to rock fiction, not geologic features (a question I get asked more often than I’d like to admit).

And today, it also refers to Tommie Vaughn, herself an industry veteran. She has a debut novel out, and it’s titled… ready? This Rock in my Heart.

Tommie was kind enough to send me a copy of This Rock in my Heart to review, and I did that, so go read it. And then go pick up the book and see if you agree with what I had to say.

Remember, if you can leave a few words of your own thoughts on any site — GoodReads, book retailers large or small, a blog, a friend’s blog — it all helps the author. Not as much as handing your copy to a friend or (even better) handing them a brand-new copy, but it’s a help, all the same.

Us authors love it when you do that sort of thing for us. Just a few words…


Win More Rock Fiction!


Every month, Mary at BookHounds gives away a themed mystery box full of goodies, and this month is no exception (I might even enter, which sort of makes me wonder why I’m telling my competition to go throw their names in the hat).

Now, while the books are all music-themed, I might be a bit premature in saying they are all Rock Fiction. In fact, I’m not sure any of them are. So whoever wins, let me know, okay?

Go check out the first parts of the blurbs and throw your name in the hat. It’s Rocktober, after all. Time to live dangerously, in the rock and roll lifestyle. And besides, the entries aren’t huge. Not yet. Not until you all go enter, if only to save me from the piles of books waiting for me around here…


Rocktober from the Horse’s Mouth


I probably shouldn’t be referring to any of these notable stars as horses, but sometimes, you gotta use the cliches as you find them.

The horses in question are some of rock’s royalties. And the jockey, if I’m going to carry this metaphor into dark and dangerous places (Hey, it’s Halloween. Why not?), is none other than my Rocktober buddy this year, the awesome Deena at e-Book Builders.

She’s got a feature up about rock memoirs. Most that I want to read, a few that I have in the house… and my ultimate, all-time favorite Rock Memoir.

Go ahead. Take a peek. Let me know which you’ve read, which you’ve loved, which you’ve hated, and which make you insist there’s not enough money on the planet to convince you to read.


Rocktober Wishes: The Back-Up List


Actually, author Amber Best was kind enough to send me a promo copy of her book, The Back-Up List, so I really can’t say I’m wishing to read this one. Wishing for the time to read it… now that is a different story entirely.


Here’s why:

The Back-Up List has only ever been a joke- that’s it. Madison Grey has a celebrity crush list of possible replacement husbands ready with the off-chance her husband might inexplicably vanish. Clearly, Madison was not prepared for- A. her husband’s untimely death and B. Calvin Hunt, rock god and top man on her Back-Up List to begin crushing on her. Talk about your cruel cosmic ironies. It has only been six months since her entire family was killed in a tragic accident and he’s looking to her for a hook-up! Really? Calvin Hunt, rock icon, is living the dream of any womanizing man-whore- that is until he spots the first unavailable woman he’s ever met. What the hell? Is she gay? He’s busily seducing her with concert tickets and exotic getaways, all while he’s touring. There are plenty of obstacles he’ll have to overcome to be with her and he’ll need all the help he can get from his stoic bodyguard, his nosy Oprah-channeling brother and even Madison’s bizarrely quirky friends who are all fighting to cross his name off of Madison’s Back-Up List.

Come ON! What a concept!!

I gotta read this one… maybe we’ll do it as a Readalong. What do you guys think?


Smooth as glass… right?


If you have been here a long time, or if you’ve already read Demo Tapes (Year 4), you’ll recognize the excerpt from DT4 that Deena at e-Book Builders was kind enough to post.

It’s one of my favorites, but it may not be safe for work, depending on your workplace’s language policy. Are f-bombs okay?

Ahh, you all need to come work for West of Mars. No language policy. No dress code.

But that’s another plug for another day. Go (re)acquaint yourself with Glass. Pick up a copy of Demo Tapes 4 while you’re at it… or any of the books in the Trevolution that you’ve missed so far.

Go on. It won’t hurt.


Rocktober Makes No Mistake


Remember a few weeks back, when I mentioned I’d read a Rock Fiction novel that was so good, it very well needed to be included with Fat Kid Rules the World as one of THE BEST Rock Fiction works of all times?

And remember how I said you’d have to wait until Rocktober to hear about it?

Well, here you go. You’re hearing about it.

The book is How the Mistakes Were Made, written by Tyler McMahon. I’ll let you click through and read my review, but I’m warning you now, it’s a long review. It’s worth it.

I love, love, loved this book.


Featured New Book: Eviscerated Panda – A Metal Tale by Sarah Tipper


The beauty of Rocktober is that I, too, get to discover Rock Fiction that’s new to me. As much as I want to be THE ultimate expert in all things Rock Fiction, the genre is growing fast and I often need help. After all, I still have an editing business to run and areas there to expand into.

panda cover

So I think it’s Deena at e-Book Builders who I need to thank for turning me on to Sarah Tipper and her cool world of the Eviscerated Panda. Isn’t that one of the best band names ever?

I have faith the rest of the book is as good.

So. Without further ado, let’s turn it over to Sarah.

The song which makes me think of my book is: Back In Black by AC/DC. Like the song my book is fast paced and populated by people wearing black. It’s got the kind of guitar that squeals its way into your heart. It’s optimistic as well as dark. It’ll rock your socks clean off and hide them under the bed and then look at your ass while you’re trying to find them. It’s comfortable in any bar or club and is best served with a JD and coke.

Ready for the blurb? It’s as much fun as the idea of guitars that squeal their way into your heart. (Isn’t that a great line!)

Eviscerated Panda are a newly formed thrash metal band. They are the brainchild of ageing lead guitarist Phil Winter. They represent his big hope for regaining his former musical self-esteem and his luck with the ladies. Phil had to hastily exit stage left from his last band when his dalliances with the drummer’s fiancee were discovered. Young singer and underachiever Nick loves the band because it provides an escape from his dull job in a supermarket. For rhythm guitarist Ian it’s all he’s ever wanted to do. For bass player Jim it’s a pleasant hobby, at least to begin with. For drummer Paul it’s a step up from being in a covers band and a sometime causer of arguments between him and his wife. A band is much more than just the musicians in it, it’s a whole ecosystem. A female perspective is given by close friends Cleo and Jenni as the Pandas play to and hang out with an audience comprised of friends, fans,
wives, girlfriends, future girlfriends, lovers, promoters, other bands, interested spectators and uninterested spectators. After a nervous first gig in their native Reading they play in Swindon, Coventry, Oxford, Dudley, Brighton, Birmingham and Camden. In between gigs they mostly go to the pub, eat biscuits, record an E.P, read a girl’s guide to heavy metal written by Cleo, practice and make grandiose plans for their future. Occasionally they get laid. Even more occasionally they get paid to play. If you like heavy metal and reading books which are not designed for education nor enlightenment then this is for you.

Buy links:
Amazon only, gang. (Bummer)

4. Personal links:


Win some Rock Fiction!


What better way to celebrate Rocktober than with a giveaway!

My good friend Mary over at BookHounds is giving away a copy of Rob Reid’s terrifically funny, point-on satire, Year Zero. You can read my review of it here, if you missed it.

And you can read Mary’s review, too, as well as enter to win. But hurry … it’s a quick contest and it will be closing soon.

Act now! This is a great one you won’t want to miss.


Susan Rocks in Rocktober!


I’m not just posting about Rocktober over here, I’m over at e-Book Builders, myself, with an interview about myself.

Stop in and learn some things about me. I’m pretty cool.

(And wow, I just realized … this is my first interview since July of 2012. I’ve written guest blog posts, but not given any interviews. No wonder I feel like I’ve fallen into a black hole!)


Louder than Love: A Rock Fiction Readalong!


Everyone’s talking about Jessica Topper’s Louder than Love, and she was kind enough to send a copy my way. I’m around page 50, so it seems like the perfect time to ask you guys if you are reading it, if you have read it, or if you’ll consider hopping over to your favorite bookstore (indies are always the best) and picking up a copy of your own.

Join me in the story of Katrina the widow and her adventures… Fifty pages in, it’s darn good stuff!

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