Wednesday, July 28, 2010

INTERVIEW - author David Berardelli

Official Apex Reviews Interview with David Berardelli, author of Stepping Out Of My Grave

APEX: Thanks for joining us for this interview, David. We're looking forward to sharing more about your book and other efforts with our readers.

DB: Thank you.

APEX: What inspired you to craft such an engaging, heartrending tale?

DB: Like all my books, it just came to me one day. I saw the image of a guy climbing out of a grave and just took it from there. (I can't help it. I've been seeing strange things for years.)

APEX: Given the fact that he suddenly finds himself a ghost, is it difficult for Jake to make the transition into the spiritual realm?

DB: Of course it is. He's a go-getter--a businessman who ran his own software company. He's always had things to do and lived a busy, fast-paced life. Now that he's standing in his own grave and life as he knows it is gone, he's got to face something he's never faced before. He's dead, all alone, and has no idea what to do. But even so, his mind is working just as it always has, and he finds that he's got to do something. He can't just stand there forever.

APEX: Your reviewer commended you for bringing the issue of child abuse to the forefront in the book. Was it difficult for you to broach such a sensitive topic?

DB: Yes, for the simple reason that I had a very happy childhood. My parents were always there for my brother and me as we were growing up, and we always did things as a family. But this was during the fifties, when the family unit still existed. The most frightening memories I have of those days are when we heard our parents downstairs in the kitchen, arguing. I was always terrified they'd split up, but of course that never happened. But it made me wonder how different things would have been if they had split up. I knew several kids from broken homes and even those my age all seemed much older than I was. They also seemed angry all the time. I felt bad for them because they never had the same chances I did.

APEX: You also touch on a host of other issues throughout the course of the tale. How did you ultimately decide upon the specific topics that you chose to address in the book?

DB: Actually, the decision wasn't exactly mine. My characters let me know what they intend to do as the story comes out. I have no idea what's going to happen once I start writing. For me, writing a book is like sitting in the back seat while a couple of strangers drive me somewhere. I just close my eyes and let them take me there. They've never let me down yet. (Hopefully, they never will.)

APEX: What kinds of responses have you gotten to the book thus far?

DB: I've only received a few comments, but they've all been favorable.

APEX: Is there a central message that you'd like readers to take away from the story?

DB: I want my stories to be fun to read and I always try to inject as much humor as possible into them. I'm generally a die-hard optimist who likes to see a happy ending in everything. I also believe in life after death, and that nothing good ever really dies.

APEX: How has your publishing experience been thus far with Penumbra Publishing?

DB: Positive and helpful in all aspects. Pat Morrison and the people at Penumbra are very nice and extremely professional, and I hope to work with them again very soon.

APEX: You are quite the prolific author. Please share more with our readers about your other writings.

DB: I've been living in my head since I can remember. I was writing full-length novels when I was fifteen. My two novels, STALKERS and HIDDEN PREY, were published about fifteen years ago as ebooks when I was writing suspense. My novel, THE APPRENTICE, is another "guardian angel" story, although very different from GRAVE. It was inspired by an incident that happened to me years ago, when I was living in southeastern Ohio. WAGON DRIVER is a doomsday story taking place in this country just a few decades from now, when lethal injection, used to control overpopulation, goes amok. I self-published my detective spoof, FUNNY DETECTIVE, which is available through Amazon. I might turn it into a series if it ever catches on. I've also written a trilogy titled DEMON CHASER, about two recently dead people who escape Hell and are pursued by demons here, in America. These books are, in my humble opinion, my most humorous. I will gladly turn it into a longer series as well if my readers want to see more.

APEX: What are your long-term writing/publishing aspirations?

DB: Right now I'm presently working on four books and have several more waiting in the earlier stages. These are books I wrote years ago. I'm fine-tuning them now as I continue to learn and improve my craft.

APEX: How can our readers learn more about you and your ongoing efforts?

DB: I'm presently maintaining two sites: and

APEX: How can they contact you directly?

DB: or:

APEX: Any final thoughts you'd like to share?

DB: I'd like to thank you for your terrific review.

APEX: Thanks again, David, and best of continued success to you in all your endeavors!

DB: Thank you, too.

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America's Galactic Foreign Legion - Book 1: Feeling Lucky, by Walter Knight
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America's Galactic Foreign Legion - Book 2: Reenlistment, by Walter Knight
(Humorous Sci-Fi Military Adventure)

Angel's Oracle, by Gary Bolick
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Crystal Clear: Storm Ryder, by Dana Warryck
(Science-Fiction Fantasy Romance) - Mistress Blackheart: Policeman's Prerogative, by Dallas White
(Humorous Contemporary Erotic Romance)

Heart of Steele, by Kessa Stranberg
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Last Flight Home, by Robert Wetherall
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Lucifer's Last Lover, by Dana Warryck
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Parallel Triangle, by Sandy Hyatt-James
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Pixie, by Willa Kaye Danes
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Stepping Out of My Grave, by David Berardelli
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Talk of the Town, by Lucille Naroian
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The Cat's Fancy, by Gwynn E. Ambrose
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The Protectorate: Patriarch, by Dana Warryck
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The Realms of Beliar: The Sword Myndarit, by Andrew Arrowsmith
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Unforgettable, by Lucille Naroian
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

REVIEW: Stepping Out of My Grave
Stepping Out Of My Grave
David Berardelli
ISBN: 9781935563174
Penumbra Publishing
Reviewed By Chelsea Perry
Official Apex Reviews Rating: 5/5 stars

While taking an innocent trip to the mailbox one day, Jake Mild’s existence is turned completely upside down: after being struck down by an out-of-control truck, he awakens – in spirit form – in an open grave. Unsure of what to do next, Jake begins to rush home – but on the way he crosses paths with Sierra, a young girl with a black eye, busted lip, and other signs of being beaten. Deciding to follow her home instead, Jake soon explores the depths of his surprising new spiritual powers – but will they be enough to help an innocent little girl in desperate need of protection…?

Stepping Out Of My Grave is an engaging, heartrending tale. Skillfully crafted by author David Berardelli, the paranormal suspense thriller/compelling human interest story tackles a range of different topics, chief among them the devastating effects of child abuse. Unfortunately, most – if not all – kids like Sierra don’t have the benefit of a “guardian angel” such as Jake to watch over and protect them from harm, but at the very least, Stepping Out Of My Grave successfully pushes the issue of abuse to the forefront, encouraging readers not to turn a blind eye if they – like Jake – happen to cross paths with a hapless bruised and battered child one day.

An entertaining mix of drama, action, and well-honed suspense, Stepping Out Of My Grave is a highly gratifying read. Kudos to Berardelli for crafting such a rewarding tale of the “better angels” of our nature.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kindle Sales reports that Kindle sales through July 2010 are triple Kindle sales for all of 2009. In the last three months Amazon Kindle sales surpased hard cover sales at a 143 to 100 ratio. And, the price of the Amazon Kindle eReader has dropped from $259 to $189.

This means a Merry Christmas for small publisher and their authors. I sincerely hope everyone gets an Amazon eReader for Christmas this year because finally small publishers can compete on an even playing field with the large publishers.

Large publishers can easily get their books on brick & mortar book store shelves by agreeing to take back all unsold copies, creating a monoply for a select few publishing houses. Small publishers cannot take back unsold books because their books are print on demand (POD), and so are locked out of large market book stores.

But with Kindle, both large and small publishers compete on equal footing because everyone shops at the same place online, and prices are competetive. Move over big dogs from New York City. Kindle is the future.

I have noticed Kindle sales of my America's Galactic Foreign Legion series increase quite a bit, a pleasent surprise I did not see coming.

Merry Christmas,

Walter Knight

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Apex Reviews' recent interview with

APEX: What inspired you to craft this riveting, thought-provoking tale of spiritual transformation?

GB: The genesis of any story for me always begins with a single image, as though I were in the middle of a lucid dream, but wide awake. If the image remains and sits on my brain for a while, I know that a story is there, attempting to break out. The idea of a tongue-shaped, smooth marble rock with four slits running through it persisted, so I began to explore why and how it came to bury itself in my subconscious. I’ve read and studied the works of Carl Jung and his theory of the Collective Unconscious and his theories on why myth and religion are important to mankind. I also studied Greek Art and Mythology in college. Anyway, when I began to walk around the idea and image of the oracle, it set flint to tinder.

APEX: What’s the significance of the book’s title?

GB: Again, it’s the importance of myth, symbols, and archetypes – ideas that Jung advanced better than anyone before or since. The title is meant to evoke the Oracle at Delphi, the center of the ancient Western world, a place where the population went for spiritual and moral guidance. As modern as we all fancy ourselves, we still reach out in the dark for a helping hand. Even today, if one is not religious, then science becomes the answer, a sort of ‘secular religion.’ We’d like to believe that we – mankind – have progressed past this need for reassurance, but we haven’t. The title is a reminder that man has always, and perhaps will always continue to cling to beliefs or ideas larger than himself, to prove to himself that he is not alone. Call it hope or a reaction to the existential crisis, but even those concepts don’t fully describe man’s fear of alienation and loneliness. The indifference of nature, man’s lack of a natural place in the universe ... these force him to create witnesses, large ideas, or monuments that connect him back into the natural world and the abstract, highly subjective world of his own personal experience. Through these creations or ideas, hopefully, he can reconnect with the outside or objective world. Music, a soul that lives on past death, voices from the past that instruct us; these all are all very real expressions of wants, needs, and the need and desire for love. I think we’d all love to be able to go to a place, sit down, and let the wind, the air that we breathe, soothe and instruct us.

APEX: Please share for our readers the legend of how the Four Seasons came to be.

GB: I wanted to create a myth of free will that still worked within the guidelines of the Judeo-Christian dogma. Kurt Godel, in his incompleteness theorems, postulated that any ‘perfect’ system would predict its own demise or flaw. Free will, most believe, is granted by virtue of being created by a single god or maker. But even in a supposedly perfect system – Eden, paradise – the very idea of it will create a response contrary to its original intent. When the four angels refuse to aid Lucifer in his rebellion to take over heaven, but also refuse to remain in heaven after the rebellion has been quashed, they become the flaw, or rather the expression of free will, in the perfect system. Even if free will is bestowed, by its very nature it cannot be controlled – fortunately. The flaw it exposes is the idea that a single overruling idea or dogma, even with the best intentions, can be used to rule, control, or guide every individual. The angels creating the four seasons are permanent reminders of this idea of randomness of the individual creating his own response to a single overriding idea or dogma.

APEX: How does that legendary tale play into the central storyline for the book?

GB: It goes to the heart of inequality and how an individual can counter it and survive. When the angels are trapped in the wind, unable to fight back, even passive, non-resistance will not save them. It is only when, out of loneliness – out of love, if you will – they create within their own time and space and purpose, entities who are a part of, but not participants in the ‘paradise’ denied them. By virtue of their own individual free will, they free themselves from the laws and ideas that had imprisoned them. The myth becomes a blueprint for each character of the story to follow or ignore. Virgil Burnett, the protagonist, named after the poet Vergil, who led Dante through the hell, more than anyone in the story is ‘tested’ by this idea. Free will is the most difficult and painful choice of all. To ignore the racist laws, the inequities of class, suffer the loss of a brother just when he deciphers the music of the oracle, the loss of the profoundly innocent Georgia to the corrupt and evil sheriff Billy, to be in love with an African-American woman when he is ‘unnaturally white,’ to have lost his first love to the twists and turns of capitalism, Virgil is literally and figuratively one of the trapped angels. His only hope of surviving becomes exile. To further ground this idea in reality, I included the real-life character of Sidney Betchet, who in fact was for all intents and purposes, exiled from America in Europe; a common dilemma for many black American musicians of that era.

APEX: How is it that Virgil can empathize more with African-Americans than his white ilk?

GB: Virgil is purposely ‘whiter than white’ – that is to say, a quasi-albino. This was done to drive home the point that racism is a product of the individual’s own self-loathing projected onto the easiest target available. Virgil’s ease and connection with Seer Bonham, Jez, and the black workers at the park where he works is meant to demonstrate that anyone outside of the false norm – WASP – is a threat. His extreme whiteness is just as much a burden as being black. That is why I introduced the whole line of thought touched on by Virgil, Stockton, and Sloe of the ‘reverse negative,’ when white becomes black, and black white. At the heart of racism, color becomes irrelevant. It is the ghosts, the secrets, and the self-hatred that each individual carries within himself that is at the heart of racism. Money or the lack of it, one’s particular religion as opposed to another, one’s birthplace or nationality – the list of reasons why people become racists goes on and on. At the heart of it, skin color really becomes simply an easy excuse, one that carries tragic consequences. The simple idea of a reverse negative freeing us from the idea of color will hopefully help drive home this point.

APEX: As your reviewer mentioned, the story features an impressive mix of fantasy and reality. Was it difficult for you to maintain such a well-proportioned balance in the tale?

GB: Not really. Again, I go back to the influences of Carl Jung and, to a certain extent, the French symbolist poet, Stephane Mallarme. Jung, in “Psychology and Alchemy,” spoke of how the alchemists were the last and perhaps only group that attempted to bridge the ideas of science and faith. Their search for the philosophers’ stone, the transmutation of base metal into gold, or the elixir for eternal life, was the practice of science with the spiritual intent of finding a key or an absolute that would inform them metaphysically. They, in fact, probably did not believe that they would ever find eternal life or transmute lead to gold, but went through the process for the sake of the process, if you will. The experiments were like the ‘music of science.’ The process transported and elevated them to another plane, if but for a short while. Mallarme spoke of describing “not the thing, but the effect it creates.” We, all of us, are constantly attempting to comprehend how the world, people, ideas, and beliefs create effects within us. Both the process of bridging two opposing worlds and trying to interpret the effects they create within us is what guided the mix of fantasy and reality throughout the story.

Examples of what I was just describing can be found in the ghosts of poet Charles Baudelaire and capitalist Thomas J. Burley. The poet chronicled in his poem “The Swan,” the mix of fantasy and reality perfectly. Zeus the great swan who had raped Leda and started the Trojan War, now flaps its wings in front of the Louvre, its time of power and rule gone. Thomas J. Burley, the creator and emperor of Angel and Charon, discovers the poet while on a trip in Europe and searches for him, admiring a man of letters who understood the underbelly of mankind so keenly, his book “The Flowers of Evil,” a revelation for the capitalist. Pairing the two as omnipotent judges, acting as harpies on the psyche of Billy Sloane the sheriff, seemed to me a natural mix of fantasy and reality to help reveal the inner workings of Billy’s hatred and self-loathing. Even the deaf-mute Tiff, in discovering Baudelaire’s “Correspondences” and showing it to Virgil, who in turn talks of seeing Baudelaire’s apartment in Paris, is my approach to fitting fantasy and reality together – they are inseparable. Each informs the other, so the trick is in trying to figure out which has the greater effect on the truth.

Still another example is Willie at the oracle. When he deciphers its mystery, he is taken, leaving a lasting impression on Virgil his brother. In a series of dreams and in vigils by the oracle, Willie returns to Virgil, informing him of how and when the oracle will liberate him. Is this really Willie speaking, or is it the effect that Willie had on Virgil reverberating and continuing to transform Virgil? Like the alchemists, it is the process as much as the idea – the effect is the most important thing.

APEX: What kinds of responses have you gotten to your book thus far?

GB: All very positive. People have been very curious as to why and how the book came about. That’s why I am happy and excited to do this interview.

APEX: Is there a central message that you’d like readers to take away from the story?

GB: There are several, but if I had to choose one, it would be from the closing passage of the story, when the father and son discuss anger, “the anger that never seems to change.” I think if everyone would open themselves up to their own voices, memories, emotions, and connections to the past and present, and let these experiences inform them and own them, then maybe we’d all calm down and be a lot more open and understanding of one another.

APEX: How has your publishing experience been thus far with Penumbra Publishing?

GB: Wonderful! I can’t say enough about the great job that Pat and the entire staff have done.

APEX: What are your long-term writing/publishing aspirations?

GB: I’ve just finished another novel. I’ve put it aside and will return to it shortly to see if it in needs more work. I’ll continue to write and hopefully develop an audience. I never really know what to expect, except that I love to write and will continue to write.

APEX: How can our readers learn more about you and your ongoing efforts?

GB: Go to my website: I have an e-mail address set up with the site: I’ll be happy to answer any and all questions.

APEX: How can they contact you directly?

GB: Again, through the website.

APEX: Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

GB: I really think the exchange of ideas is central to maintaining a civilized world. I wouldn’t ask anyone to sit down and use some of their valuable time if I didn’t really believe in what I was doing. That being said, I think there’s a lot in the story for one to simply enjoy. Sure there’s food for thought, but it’s a hell of a ride, too. Kindest regards.

(For more information or to contact this author, go to his web site at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Query Letters

Writing a query letter is often an author's first contact with a publisher. It pays to create a good impression. I hope the following sample query is helpful.

Dear Editor:

The iguana says your breath stinks, but I do not like the iguana and so I thought it would be a good idea to query you with my 300,000 word autobiography about Aunt Marge's alien abduction.

I think the iguana is really an alien, but I do not know for sure. It is really a good liar. We always thought that Marge was the liar, always cracking those jokes about a talking lizard in her backyard and a spaceship in her barn. It turns out she kept a straight face because she was not joking.

When she disappeared, I flew out to see if I could find anything. I have always been good about finding things, but finding Aunt Marge has been real hard. I have not found her yet, but I figured I would write all this down. Better if I did it all right away. I keep a note pad by my bed. So, there will be a sequel once I find her.

It could really be aliens who got her because of the spaceship in the barn and all the oil stains on the grass. I asked the police to test for radiation, but they were too busy. I suspect the police might not have an open mind about aliens. But, the iguana says it was not aliens. I think either the aliens left in the spaceship, or the iguana ate her.

So, when you call me up with an offer on my book, I would like some advice: If I eat the iguana, is it cannibalism?



Saturday, July 3, 2010

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