Paranormal

Destiny

Destiny - S M Spencer

A fun twist on the young adult paranormal genre. Spencer offers up young love, vampires, ghosts, action, excitement, and much more. 

Lili is a fun main character who jumps into this new world she's discovered with both feet. As anyone who recently exited a serious relationship, she goes back and forth regarding her feelings for Sam, who has his own reservations about the emotions she stirs in him. 

Overall I enjoyed the book and was left anxious to know what would happen in the rest of the series. I enjoy when romance is mixed with paranormal,  it gives the genre a refreshing take (even though it's taken on a genre of its own now) and gives readers more than just another drama filled romance book. 

Very well written and definitely left me wanting more. If you're a fan of paranormal romance, I'd recommend the Absent Shadows Trilogy. 


Some Bio Information

S M Spencer grew up writing stories about the horses she pretended to ride through the rolling coastal hills of California. She finally bought her first horse at the age of 16, and then dreamt of having horses on her own property one day.

As a teenager, she discovered the romantic suspense works of marvelous authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart, as well as a wide range of other genres by incredible authors such as Ray Bradbury, Amy Tan and J.R.R. Tolkien. These wonderful works stirred a passion in her--to one day become a writer herself.

Now living in Australia, she has combined her dreams--she writes from the semi-rural home she shares with her husband, horses, cats and dogs--not to mention the mob of kangaroos that share the paddocks with the horses from time to time.

Her current series is the Copperhead Creek Australian Romance series. This is clean Australian contemporary/rural romance set within the Golden Triangle outside Melbourne. 

She has also written a clean YA paranormal romance trilogy, Absent Shadows, which is set mostly in Australia. 


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?  

I was working near the Queen Victoria Markets and the Flagstaff Gardens where the book takes place. The market’s car park was actually built over a very old graveyard, and most of the bodies were never removed – I’d been on a couple of ghost tours through that area and found it fascinating. Of course, the popularity of vampires was also an inspiration for someone who grew up watching the original “Dark Shadows” – but now I’m showing my age!

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I write in spurts – I don’t get “writer’s block” because I simply don’t worry about it. When I’m inspired I might write for 8 hours or more a day for days at a time – but then I mightn’t write again for a week or so. I simply write when I’m in the mood to do so.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

The Absent Shadows Trilogy was written for the teen/YA audience – the MC’s are 19-20 year olds. It’s pretty clean – probably PG13. But adults who enjoy YA books with realistic heroines (not larger than life superhero females) will also enjoy it.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

These books are mostly for pure enjoyment – there are no real ‘messages’ in them, other than to follow your heart.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Well, it used to be Winnie the Pooh & Tigger many years ago. More recently Aragorn and Frodo are up there, along with Legolas ... Harry Potter & co ... Tris from Divergent (because I like her taste in men) ... Stephanie Plumm (because she is so cheeky).

6) How would you describe your writing style?

Easy to read, fast paced, not too deep but not completely superficial either, the good guys will win, the bad guys will lose.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To make as many people happy as possible. I get a kick out of knowing people are reading MY books and enjoying them, hopefully the way I have enjoyed so many over the years.

Sands of Time: Fate of the True Vampires

Sands of Time - Christine Church

If you peruse my 2015 Reading List on my website, you'll see a lot of paranormal titles. It's a fun genre to write in - I totally get it. But what I really love is when an author takes a normal and everyday genre and transforms it into their own vision. 

Sands of Time take the paranormal genre and turns it into a form of historical fiction, which I absolutely loved. What I would like to see more of is people researching these found texts and searching for more intermixed between the translated texts. But the story of Kesi is fascinated to read. 

The text is extremely well written and reads extremely smoothly. Despite the break in texts, I had no trouble flowing from one chapter to the next. Overall extremely fascinating and I look forward to reading more from this author!


Some Bio Information

Christine began writing at the age of nine, penning and illustrating picture books, taping them together, and even creating a publishing company. In school, she could be found sitting in the back of the class, writing short stories (she aced English and literature). By 1992 she was professionally published in both nonfiction and short stories. In 1998 her book was traditionally published, which led to many more book deals (nonfiction). Her books and articles have won many awards.

She lives for the paranormal, writes in the deep dark night and has a closet full of Goth clothing rarely worn any longer. By day she works at a horse barn caring for 7 horses, including her own noble steed–her best friend, her “son" and therapist, a grey overo Paint named Kobeejo, who has a great personality and an expensive appetite.

She is also a professional photographer, (loving to capture beauty and make it immortal), an actress, and voiceover artist as well. In rare spare time, she loves riding, target archery, swimming, singing and auditioning for the TV show “Survivor.”


Q&A

1. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write this book.

Actually, that’s a story in itself. In the mid 1990’s I wrote my first vampire novel, called “Love’s Timeless Melody.” It was inspired by the song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ by Bonnie Tyler. But, I did little with it. Finally, in 2015 I decided to tear it apart and make journal entries out of it… scrolls and texts discovered by archaeologists through time and eventually put together. The reason I came up with that was because the original book was another character’s story, but Kesi was a main character in it. She had written letters to her father. I took those short letters and turned them into this book.

2. How long did it take you to put your work together?  

If you count the fact the original book was written in the 1990’s, over 20 years! But, once I got the idea to do something with the letters in the original book, then 3 months.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Whenever, and wherever, I can get a chance to write, I do it! I work at a horse barn at  day (very physical, esp at my age). By night I am exhausted, so I lie in bed and watch TV with my little “spokescat” (she has her own Facebook page and she helps me ‘sell’ my books), Lucy cuddled with me for about 2 hours. Then I am up about 9-10pm to work in my office on marketing and writing until 4-5am. In the summer my barn hours are later, so I like to visit the gym. I go there about 1pm, work out for an hour, then to the library to write for 2 hours. Then it’s off to the barn to work. For a 50+ woman, I am very active.

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process?

Writing! I’m not kidding. Believe it or not, the first draft is the hardest for me. After I get that down, the editing and revising is less painful.

5. How would you describe your writing style?  

Literary, I think. I am “old school” and I like writing books that do NOT just “tell,” but really get into the character’s head. I am not too ‘flowery’ with my prose. But I think the description needs to match the character’s age, personality and the story; however it is told. For example, in ‘Sands of Time,’ these are ancient texts from a hybrid-half human. They need to ‘feel’ as if they were written in ancient Egypt and yet still be understandable to today’s audience.

6. What is your ultimate writing goal?  

I’ve been writing since I was 9 years old. As an actress (with a degree in theatre and drama) as well as a writer, all I’ve ever wanted was to be a huge best seller with major motion pictures of my books (and to be IN the movies). So many fans have told me they think this series would make an amazing movie series. I’m only hoping they are correct.

7. What would you like readers to take away from your work?

The NEED for more!!! A GREAT read, wonderful entertainment, and the need to want the series to never end

Dead Scary: The Ghost Who Refused to Leave

Dead Scary: The Ghost Who Refused to Leave - Sally Gould

I've always enjoyed books of the paranormal nature. While the focus in today's world seems to be more on vampires and werewolves, I enjoy a book that focuses on a good old fashioned ghost story. 

Sally Gould has written a wonderfully clever and charming young adult/children's book about a young boy and the ghost he is forced to interact with. I enjoyed the fresh approach she took with the genre and found myself chuckling on more than one occasion. 

The plot is well paced and I enjoyed each of the characters and their distinct personalities. The plot definitely took a few turns that I wasn't expecting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Overall a fun and wonderful read for all ages. 


Some Bio Information

Sally Gould loved books from a young age, but never considered writing them. While she was busy getting up to the mischief that teenagers get up to, she forgot about books all together. Then total insanity took hold and she became a corporate lawyer. Fortunately, she had two sons and they inspired her to write stories for children. Of course, her oldest son is responsible, logical, studious, considerate, grateful and even makes his bed. The youngest one is only interested in having fun - lots of it. And, except for his teachers, he makes everyone laugh. Their antics have inspired many of Sally's stories. Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her family and two dogs - Pebbles, who is sensible, and Jade, who just wants to have fun.
Her website is at: www.sallygould.com.au


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

When my youngest son was little, he’d often wake screaming terrified of the ghost in his room. His experiences were so consistent and his terror so real that I did some research and realized that it’s a fairly modern idea that There is no such thing as ghosts (as I’d been told when I was little). I read a number of books about earthbound spirits and found Mary Ann Winkowski’s When Ghosts Speak to be an excellent resource. She was the consultant on the TV series Ghost Whisperer. So the idea of a boy learning to deal with ghosts on his own inspired me.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I like the idea of planning really well, so I don’t waste so much time rewriting. I write the backgrounds and motivations of the characters and I plan out each scene. But, of course, the planning rarely works out as I intend. The first version of this story was written in the viewpoint of the ghost and so there was a lot of rewriting involved.

3. Who is your favorite character in Dead Scary?

Isabel because of the prank she played at school.

4. How would you describe the perfect writing environment?

An environment without dogs, kids and phones sounds ideal, however that will never happen in my home.

5. What can readers expect from you in the future?

I have two picture books that are being illustrated. The City Dog, which is about resilience and adapting to change, might be out next year. The Brave Knight is about imaginary play and won’t be released for a couple of years. I have another series for 9 – 12 year olds in the pipeline.

6. How would you describe your writing style?

Accessible. Since my eldest son was a reluctant reader, I know the importance of encouraging those children to read. So my writing style is about being easy to read with action and humor.

The Black Swan Company

The Black Swan Company - Luna DeMasi

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With so many paranormal books out there, I always get excited when I find one that takes off in a new direction that I haven't seen before. The Black Swan Company reminds me a little of The Omega Man by Richard Matheson. But there are more political implications and a lot of thrills as our heroine fights for survival, the truth, and in the end, love. 

There is a lot of dialogue in this book, but DeMasi makes it seem effortless. I had no trouble keeping up with the plot, the characters, or in believing the direction she took. Without giving away spoilers, I have to say that the biggest shock to me was that the main Sanguine character is not what I expected him to be. And it was a breath of fresh air. Absolutely lovely. 

I had a lot of fun reading this book and look forward to more in the series. 


Some Bio Information

Luna DeMasi was born in New York, but currently resides in southeast Michigan. She holds a B. S. in psychology, a master’s of library and information science, and loves scary stories.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Much like the way my other stories came to me: I had a very simple concept come to me that I was intrigued by, then built the story around it. In this case, it was a human being marooned in a world of monsters, and having to work with one to survive; my anxiety surrounding the current political climate in the United States found its way inside, and before I knew it, I had my plot for the book

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

It involves so much thinking; staring at walls, listening to music, and thinking. Then, obsessive writing!

3. What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

The editing. Oh, how I hate editing...I'm a perfectionist about that kind of stuff.

4. How would you describe the perfect writing environment? 

Perfect quiet with nothing else that needs to be done in the mundane world to distract me!

5. What can readers expect from you in the future? 

I'm trying to complete another project called 'Counting the Stars without You,' which is also in the paranormal genre, but as far as 'The Black Swan Company' series, I'm hoping for three more books

6. How would you describe your writing style? 

Lucid.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To get all of my ideas for stories in book form!

Past Life Strife

Past Life Strife - Christina McMullen

Many of the books that I enjoy reading are enjoyable because I'm on the outside looking in, like some sort of voyeuristic presence, watching over the people who go through troubles and out of this world drama. But occasionally, and I mean, only occasionally, I stumble across a book that makes me desperately wish I could hop within the pages and live within the plot for a few days or weeks. 

One of these rare books is Past Life Strife by Christina McMullen. She has created a world that is both thrilling and sarcastically fun with a very enjoyable dry sense of humor. 

The plot is not one that is known to me, so I found the idea of the Discordants very unique and entrancing. I'm anxious to learn more about this world. . .er. . .small town of Blackbird. 

What really entertained me, throughout the entire book, was the relationship and interactions between Desmond, Bogie, and Seth. There is such a high level of sarcasm and snarkiness that I couldn't help but fall in love with all three of them (combined). They're a trio of main characters that I sincerely hope will never be separated. 


Some Bio Information

Christina McMullen is a science fiction and fantasy author who dreams of flying cars and electric sheep. She currently resides in Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband and three dogs. When she isn't writing, Christina enjoys travel, vegan cooking, modern and classical art, and of course, reading.

For updates and information on future releases, promos, and giveaways, please follow her: 


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Robert Asprin’s Myth series, which was a satirical take on the epic fantasy genre. I’ve always enjoyed humor and wondered if it was something that I could write. A while back, I was looking through some old notes and started to cobble together an idea that spiraled into several books.

2. Who’s your favorite character? (It’s Bogie, isn’t it? And, is that a fedora he’s wearing?)

Bogie is certainly one of my favorites. He’s definitely the most fun to write and he comes up with such interesting ways to mangle the English language. My other favorite would be Myrna. She doesn’t have a lot to do in the first book, but as the series progresses, we learn a lot about her (very colorful) past. 

3. Did you create this world as you wrote or did you already have an idea about how this world of Discordants worked? 

The entire series came out of a couple of very different ideas and drabbles I’d written many years ago (some dating back to the last century). Seth and Desmond were actually the stars of an atmospheric Gothic horror that served as the bones for Past Life Strife. It had a very different tone, especially in terms of religious views. It was more black & white, Heaven & Hell oriented. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original of that one. Another source story, which serves to set up the second book, Splitsville, was a more lighthearted and campy story about two teens who discover they are dead and are going to be guardian angels. As far as the rules of Order and Chaos go, they were mostly set when I started writing, but each book introduces a new aspect, so it’s always a challenge to introduce a new idea without contradicting myself.

4. How would you describe your writing style? 

Chaotic. I write what’s on my mind and stitch the pieces together later on. Unfortunately, this leads to pages and pages of unused words that I hoard away for potential use elsewhere. Sometimes they end up as bonus material on my blog and sometimes they end up incorporated into other stories, but mostly, the cut scenes are just boring bits that don’t work, so I really have no excuse for hanging on to them.

5. Is there a character within your book that particularly irritates you?

In this series, it has to be Seth. He started out simple enough. He was never meant to be the main character, just the catalyst for the events of the first book, but he keeps trying to worm his way into more scenes and he is TOUGH to write. Of course, he is part of a larger story arc that goes through the series, but this is an ensemble cast series, Seth, we can’t make it all about you!

6. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Hmm… Do I have a writing process? I wake up, I turn the computer on, and I write. I definitely try to see a project through to completion. I don’t like to start new projects in the middle of a series, but every so often, an idea will pop into my head that is hard to ignore. If I don’t at least type out a synopsis, I might as well not bother working on anything because it will bug me until the idea is out of my head.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

Ultimately, I’d love to see all of the ideas floating around my head through to completion. Seemed like a pretty simple goal for a while, but these days, it seems the concepts come to me faster than I can type. 

8. How do you respond to the accusations that you like to dress up as a robot and terrorize Barnes & Noble, shoving indie books in patrons’ hands? 

Well, what was I supposed to do, dress up like myself and shove indie books at people? Everyone would think I was insane! No, best to go with the robot costume. Everyone trusts a ro-buh… What? I mean…. What are you even talking about? I would never… Next question!

9. You suddenly wake up and find that you’re living in Blackbird. Who are you and what’s your Past Life Strife?

Well… here’s a little secret: Blackbird is based on a combination of the small, economically defunct, post-cold war industrial city that I grew up in and the small college town that I currently live in. I’m an anonymous patron at the Five Penny Pub whose soul has teetered on the edge of lost a few more times than she would like to admit. But a trip to HomeGoods and some cheddar biscuits can go a long way toward finding balance. ;) 

10. What couldn’t you live without while writing?

Coffee!!! That’s the cliché author answer, isn’t it? But it’s so true. Between giving up sweets, drinking, smoking, and not having a drug habit, it’s my only vice and if author clichés have taught me anything, we need a vice. 

A Time Apart

A Time Apart - Rebecca Norinne Caudill

I have a soft spot in my heart for paranormal books. I've always loved the unknown and the fantastic and there's something special about a good vampire story. So I'm always looking for unique takes on the genre.  

I really enjoy the premise behind this book. Romance separated not only by circumstance, but by time itself. Without giving away any spoilers, the reason behind their separation is both unique and intriguing. 

Caudill's writing style is enjoyable and easy to read, but I felt like the ending was a little anticlimactic. I think that there is some great action and suspense coming up in future books judging by some hints that she has dropped throughout the text, but this work felt more like an introduction to the series.

She does a great job of setting up the plot for future works in the series, I just wanted a little more out of this one. While there's a bit of a struggle as they're getting reacquainted, I kept thinking there'd be some additional challenges to come, but they seem to be saved for later in the series. 

Overall well written and an enjoyable read. 


Some Bio Information

Rebecca read her first novel when she was just four years old and has been hooked on books ever since. When she wasn't writing her own stories, she was sneaking copies of her mom's paperbacks to read late into the night. Fast forward a few years later, and she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Journalism. After a stint working in radio, she embarked on a career in technology public relations in Silicon Valley, representing some of the country's hottest start-ups and publicly traded companies. After more than a decade in the business, she began writing full time, having published both contemporary and paranormal romance novels. 

When not creating fictional worlds inhabited by strong women and dashing heroes, she is reading about them, planning her next vacation, trying out new recipes, or drinking a dram of Islay whisky. Rebecca lives with her husband in Oakland, California, but is currently planning a move to Dublin, Ireland.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

I’d finished reading a number of paranormal romances that were aimed at a younger crowd and while I loved them, I wanted a hero and heroine who were closer to my own age with more adult problems. I started thinking about what I’d like to see and from there the story just blossomed. When we visited Ireland a lot of the pieces came together.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I try to write a little bit every day, at least 1,000 words. After I spend some time on social media I sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee or tea and get started. I have a general outline that I stick to, but I’m not very good about doing detailed outlines because I only ever end up changing the story if I go that route. I basically write what my characters are telling me and then work from there filling in the plot, narrative, and dialogue. When I’ve finished, I share the work with a handful of trusted friends and family who are all writers themselves and revise based on that.

3. Do you have a favorite author?

I have a few favorite genres, and within those genres favorite authors. In terms of paranormal, I don’t think there’s anyone better than Anne Rice. I recently discovered steampunk romance and think Bec McMaster is terrific. The genre I’ve read the most though is regency romance, and I’m such a sucker for anything Maya Rodale or Julie Ann Long writes.

4. How would you describe your writing style?

I tend to write how I think and speak. In my daily life I like order and structure but when it comes to writing, I’m pretty free-flowing. There are definite rules and regulations I will always stick to, but otherwise anything goes. 

5. Do you have a favorite character in A Time Apart?

Well, obviously I love them both but William is the hero I have wanted for awhile. One of the things I appreciate most about him is that he doesn’t try to pretend to be good for the sake of Olivia. He tells her he’s a bad man.

6. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process? 

How long it takes me to finish! I see other authors in the genre putting out so many books in a year and I wish I could be faster, but I spend so much time editing and revising and just knitpicking over every darn word that I am my own worst enemy and everything ends up taking far longer than I had intended.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I’d love to move from self-publishing to being published by a well-respected imprint. I have a story idea in the back of my head that I’d like to write and sell, but that’s probably a ways off at this point with everything else that I’m working on at the moment.

School of Deaths

School of Deaths - Christopher Mannino

To start with, I absolutely adored this book. Not only was the main character a wonderful and well written (did I mention STRONG) young woman, but the plot is wonderfully thought out and well paced. 

I completely fell for Suzie, empathized with her struggle, and appreciated her growth throughout the book. Not knowing who to trust is enough to drive anyone insane, but she handles it wonderfully and learns to trust her own instincts throughout her journey. 

I enjoyed reading about grim reapers as it was a nice and refreshing take on the paranormal genre for me. I particularly love that the author chooses to break one of the common rules of young adult literature. And that's all I can say without giving away too much of the plot. 

Great work. Highly recommended. I'm anxious to read more. 


Some Bio Information

Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet.  He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland.  In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups.  He spends his summers writing and singing.  Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University.  His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.  

Mannino is currently completing The Scythe Wielder's Secret series and is working on several adult novels.


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Ideas for new novels come all the time, at the least likely moments. Generally when I have an idea for a totally new book, I jot it down in a journal where I keep book ideas- I currently have about twenty novel ideas, spanning many genres, planned.

Once I move from an idea to drafting, I start by creating sort of a “visual outline.” This is basically a set of images or specific pictures that I see happening at various points in the novel. I don’t always know exactly how they’ll connect at this stage.

I draft mostly on the spot. As a full-time teacher, this usually happens during the summer months. Each summer I try to draft one new novel. I usually start at the beginning, and write until I reach the end. Then, during free time in the school year, I start to re-read and edit, before sending it to the publisher for the professional editing stages to begin.

2. What inspired you to write this book? 

In 2011, I spent my final semester of graduate school studying abroad at Oxford. As part of my experience in England, I decided to travel at least once a week to somewhere I’d never visited before. On one such trip, I became stranded in Tintagel, a castle ruin and supposed birthplace of King Arthur. Tintagel lies on the northern coast of Cornwall, in a poor, rural part of the country. I had no car, and the next bus didn’t come for another day. I walked pub to pub, asking to rent a room for the night, so I’d have a place to sleep. One pub said yes, but it turned out to be a noisy place.

The next morning, having slept little, I climbed out to Barras Nose, a promontory of sheer rock cliffs with few paths, overlooking the castle ruins down the coast. It was before dawn, there were no people anywhere in sight, and no railings at the sides of the fifty foot cliffs. Fierce winds blew from every direction, and I had to crawl on all fours across the rocks, to watch the dawn from the edge. I feared I might get blown into the sea. I imagined a character, completely alone in a foreign environment, attacked fiercely from every direction. This eventually became the character of Susan Sarnio. In the initial draft, Susan was actually a boy, but I changed the character to a girl, the only girl, to increase her isolation.

3. Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Probably “Wesley” from “The Princess Bride”

4. Describe Suzie in three words. 

persistent, curious, resilient

5. How would you describe your writing style?

This is honestly a tough question, as just in the three books in this series, my style has evolved and grown. I feel that describing visual and imaginative imagery tends to be my biggest strength. 

6. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who?

Tolkien

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

Just like other writers, I’d love to come to a point where I could write full-time, and fully share all the stories I want to tell. On a note more personal to me, as a theatre person, it’d be wonderful to be involved with creating a stage adaptation of one of my novels. I think I’d enjoy that process even more than if a book was made into a movie.

Saving Hascal's Horrors

Saving Hascal's Horrors - Laura Smith

I love young adult thrillers. While they keep me on the edge of my seat, by reading them, I'm able to avoid a lot of the shock gore and violence that exists in much of the horror genre today. 

Saving Hascal's Horrors is a charming young adult book about a boy who loves horror movies and finds himself in the middle of one when an old missing persons case begins to haunt him and his family. 

The characters are lovable and believable and are written with plenty of depth and personality. I definitely felt connected with them by the end of the book. The plot was well paced and held my attention, especially as I realized what Mike was planning to do. 

Mike goes through quite a bit of maturing throughout the book as he learned to respect his sister's decisions regarding their father's shop and in making room for new friends within his group. Lots of good lessons for young boys and girls alike. 


Some Bio Information

Laura Smith is an office worker by day and writes books at night and on weekends. She graduated from Carlow University in 2007 with a degree in Creative Writing. Her poetry has been published in 6 Sentences, Rune Magazine, Voices from the Garage, Falling Star Magazine and Blast Furnace Press. She has self-published three middle grade books, "The Stable House," "Saving Hascal's Horrors," and "The Castle Park Kids, which are all available on CreateSpace and Amazon.  In her spare time, she enjoys watching movies, reading, taking pictures, and spending time with her family.  She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

This book was inspired by a dream I had about a family of grave diggers combined with an adult novel I was working on from Julie's point of view. I was going to have Julie as the main character debating whether or not to close her family's shop and pursue her own career path with Mike talking her out of it by the end of the book. The dream I had was from a boy like Mike's point of view, and I decided to rewrite it from his perspective, adding my own love of classic horror movies and ghost stories to the mix.

2. Who is your favorite character?

I like all of my characters, but I would say that Mike is my favorite. I tend to gravitate towards the leaders, and Mike is a leader. I like how he is set in his ways and already has a strong grasp as to what he wants out of life. He would also do anything for his family, and that's an admirable quality as well.

3. Will we be seeing more of Julia and Mike?

I was thinking of starting a series of novellas that chronicle Mike's life both before and after the events of this book. I'm already coming up with ideas for each book in the series. The stories will be separate from each other but will all exist in the same universe with the same characters.

4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

This book was written entirely out of order. That was the first time I had ever done that, and it wasn't easy, but it did keep me motivated because it allowed me to write whatever I felt like writing about that day, whether it was from a specific character's point of view or a specific part of the story. The process has been different for each novel I have written, but essentially, I hand write or type a few pages every day and then go through the book over and over, adding parts, deleting sections, and just general proofreading. The editing process was actually really fun on this book because I kept thinking of new elements and characterizations to add. So, it wasn't much different from the writing process.

 5. Who is your favorite YA genre author?

I read a lot as a kid, but I mostly read R.L. Stein, Ann M Martin, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved book series about real kids doing real things. I wasn't much of a fantasy reader, and I'm still not, but I do love horror and ghost stories.

6. Who did you write this book for?

I wrote this book for anyone who loves horror movies or wants to get into horror movies but doesn't like to sleep with the lights on. I thought about making it a treasure hunting story, similar to "The Goonies," but in the end I thought that just saving his family's shop would be reward enough for Mike.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I would like to sell enough books to be able to do this full time and pump out as many stories as I can about topics that interest me and that my readers also enjoy as well. I would like kids to know that a book doesn't have to have wizards and vampires in it in order to be entertaining. Regular kids are interesting enough. 

Awakening

Awakening - Cheri McKenzie

I love all things magical. Perhaps it's part of growing up as an only child (although I know of people with siblings who feel the same way). And while I always love a good fantasy set in the far past or the distant future without technology, I also enjoy normal day stories with magic and fae thrown in. 

Awakening has a wonderful concept that I found to be unique and enchanting. Without giving any of the plot away, the main character, Acacia, begins having strange dreams about a gorgeous man, who then suddenly places himself into her life, and her life takes a new and bizarre direction.

One of the primary focuses of this book is the relationship between Acacia and her mystery man. And while it's an intriguing and romantic concept, I had a difficult time with their up and down relationship. But that's probably due to my frustration with many a young adult's current idea of relationships, thanks to books like Twilight and Fifty Shades. 

However, that did not prevent me from enjoying this book by Cheri McKenzie. The plot is still fascinating and includes a great twist that I did not see coming. The twist definitely enriched the story for me, due to my appreciation and love for the character it involves. 

A fun and fantasy filled read. 


Some Bio Information

Born and raised in rural NE Missouri, I’ve always loved the quiet atmosphere and beautiful landscape that lends itself to artistic inspiration, which is probably why as an adult, I chose to make my home there.  A busy mom of five, I spend my days working, running errands, and performing a multitude of motherly duties.  In my down time, I enjoy reading, taking photos at rodeos, and cuddling with my eight-month-old daughter.

Six years ago, when I started writing “Awakening”, I never believed I’d end up publishing it.  To me it was just a story that I’d become obsessed with finishing.  Almost five years later, I decided it was time to cast aside my insecurities and publish.  Since then, I’ve been working on the second installment to the series and hope to have it ready to publish soon.

For better or worse, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this new adventure, and intend to follow wherever it may lead.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

This may sound a little strange to many people, but I’m really not sure what inspired me to write “Awakening”.  One day, I sat down to write a journal entry and ended up writing the first twenty-five pages of what I then called “a story”.  After that, I was obsessed.  I needed to know how the story would end.  By the time I’d finished, it was a book and my brain was already thinking up new ideas to continue Acacia’s story.  

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

  1. Put the 8 month old to bed.
  2. Grab a snack.
  3. Search through my playlist for a song that fits the scene I’m working on.
  4. Get distracted by an infomercial.
  5. Write a few pages
  6. Baby wakes up
  7. Type-one handed while feeding baby
  8. Finish a few more pages
  9. Repeat steps 1-8 several times a night for months
  10. Celebrate because the 1st draft is finished
  11. Edit
  12. Give to a reader.
  13. Repeat steps 11 and 12
  14. Create cover, format for kindle, publish

3. Who’s your favorite author?

Terry Brooks.  I fell in love with the Shannara Series in Junior High.

4. What’s your favorite part in Awakening?

I actually have several and they all involve the gifts Caelan gives to Acacia.

5. Describe your favorite place.

 Curled up on the couch with my eight month old sleeping peacefully in my arms.

6. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

That’s a no-brainer...editing.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
    
For better or worse, to finish what I’ve started and be happy with what I’ve accomplished.

Death Defiant

Death Defiant - Paige Reiring

Many of us have fears based upon our mortality. A fear of water, a fear of heights, a fear of clowns (Thanks Stephen King). Regardless of the fear itself, it's a singular event that we're afraid of. The pain. The helplessness. But then it's over and we anticipate peaceful release from the pain. 

In Death Defiant, Reiring puts her main character through literal (and figurative) hell by forcing upon her the ability to die over and over again, only to come back every time with full memory of the agony and pain she endured. The ultimate torture. 

I was pretty fascinated by this book and the world that Reiring has created. From demons to angels to half-demons, a great amount of creativity and organization went into this book. I enjoyed the pace of the plot, the growth of the main character, and seeing her take on challenge after challenge. 

Overall a very enjoyable read. 


Some Bio Information

Paige Reiring is a fourth year at The Ohio State University majoring in English. She made her first attempt at a novel when she was nine years old, writing about a young girl whose family was murdered by a man named Nicotine and her exploits trying to get revenge. Luckily for everyone, the work was scrapped after chapter seven. She loves dark fantasy, and her favorite works defy expectations and common tropes. She debuted her writing with the short story Spawn, but Death Defiant is her first full-length novel. She has made it her personal pledge to never write a story with a straight main character.


Q&A

1. When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I remember in 4th grade I was writing a fantasy-horror story, and when I asked my teacher if I could share it with the class, she didn’t think to check it beforehand. What’s the worst a ten-year-old can come up with, after all? But it was actually pretty dark, complete with murder and demons. And while we mysteriously never again had time for me to share a new chapter with the class, the feedback I received after that definitely cemented the idea that I wanted to be a person who wrote stories and shared them with others. Seeing my peers actively enjoy what I wrote and complimenting me on it and wanting to talk to me about it – there’s something special about that kind of praise and engagement. I think it’s the desire for that kind of connection with other people that takes people from “I like to write” to “I want to be an author,” and while I think everyone loves being praised for xir work, that community engagement is what drives me to share these stories with other people.

2. Who do you identify with more: Cheri or Bel?

That’s a pretty hard choice. I worked on making each of them distinct from myself, but if I had to pick, I think I’d say Belkor. Zir bluntness resonates me; when I was younger, I was often told that I had no “traffic cop” to stop the words in my brain from leaving my mouth. I’m not quite as bad as Bel is, though. I’d also say I’m just as optimistic; for both of us, we’ll always find a way to spin a bad situation into something good or to see promise in the future. I can also identify with Bel’s struggle between optimism and depression, which you don’t see much of in this book but will become apparent in the sequel. The more distant Bel becomes from zir home and what ze once knew zirself to be, the more ze struggles with finding optimism in the future, and that complexity of mental illness setting in versus who you are as a person is a topic close to my heart.

3. Tell us a little bit about the mission you mention at the end of your book (to never write a straight MC). 

Despite living with a mom passively supportive of the LGBTQ community, I didn’t know what a lesbian was until middle school, and when I entered high school and took on that label as my own identity, I was hungry for books about people like me. I loved The Demonata by Darren Shan and Rowling’s Harry Potter, and I wanted to see stories like this with characters like me. So I went book-hunting, but all I could find was contemporary novels about the (white, cis) experience of being a queer person. I read stuff like Annie on my Mind and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and I couldn’t find anything else. While these weren’t necessarily bad books, they weren’t the kind of stories I was looking for. Where was my gay Chosen One protagonist who was going to battle the Dark Lord? Where was my lesbian descendant of werewolves fated to either save the world or destroy it? Any fantasy books I found that had queer characters relegated them to the background. Nobody like me was the main character, only ever a sidekick. 

I’ve talked at length before about my desire for a queer renaissance in media. There’s no reason I should have ever felt that people like me couldn’t or didn’t deserve to be main characters. There’s no reason I should have had to struggle so much to find something that not only had people like me but also had dragons and sorcery and crazy plots. Coming out stories and stories about what it’s like to live as a queer person are important, but it’s also important to see yourself as not restricted to those boundaries. It’s the twenty-first century, and I shouldn’t still struggle to find to find these kinds of novels, so rather than wait for someone else to write them, I’ll write them myself. 

4. What’s the perfect writing environment for you?

A place without Internet, honestly! It’s probably the worst distraction I face. I don’t usually have that option, though, so anywhere I can be apart from friends or family is ideal – my room, a coffee shop, the library. I have a Pandora station composed of soundtracks from video games and movies to listen to while I write, and it provides the perfect amount of background noise and signals me to focus.

5. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Usually there’s some plot element or world-building concept that sparks the idea for a story, and once I have that, I start developing characters to fit into the world. I figure out basic back stories and character traits that allow me to use them to explore the world. Once I’ve got my main characters figured out, I take the time to outline what’s going to happen, chapter by chapter. I’ll usually do that in one sitting, even though it takes a couple hours to get through. I write a first draft where I get all the story out, veering away from the outline if I have to but usually following pretty closely. While I’m writing, I’ll keep records of plot lines, characters, and world-building, writing down every detail that comes along so I can reference it later if I need to. Once I’ve finished the first draft, I have a much better idea of who these characters are, what the plot is, and what breadcrumbs I need to leave at the beginning to get myself to the end. 

Without reading the draft I just finished, I rewrite the entire story from scratch. I consult the records I’ve been keeping while writing, updating and changing them when I need to. Once I get to the end of the second draft, I read through it and check my records to make sure there are no plot holes or inconsistencies. I’ll do some small rewrites at this point, but nothing huge, and I’ll make some notes on what I want to change later and what I want to ask beta readers about. When I finish, I send it off to my beta readers and don’t look at it again until they get it back to me, usually a little over a month after I send it to them. 

I formulate a revision plan after I get their feedback and start revising and editing after that. When I feel that I’ve addressed all the issues, I read through it once more for plot, character, and world-building. If there are no issues on that front, then I run spell-check before doing a more careful read-through for grammar and spelling.

6. What inspired you to write this book?

Cheri, Bel, and Xandamore were originally RPG characters I created back in 8th grade. At the time, I was really into the “moody, stoic guy” thing, so Xandamore was the main character I role-played with while Cheri and Bel were just side characters. I wrote these characters pretty exclusively with a close friend of mine, and so they were on my mind and developed over the course of two years, being written about every day. 

The plot of that RP was quite different from what Death Defiant became. It was all about prophecies and forbidden love, the kind of stuff I ate up at twelve years old. Eight years later, I wanted to write a novel about these characters and world concepts, but I didn’t want to use Xandamore as a main character; it didn’t feel right when he’d already had a thousand pages written about him. Cheri was a character whose concept I loved – a person caught between worlds with the inability to die – and I knew I couldn’t write about zir without also writing about the others who influenced zir life, which is how Bel and Xand got involved. But the world and plot had to be different than what I’d already written, and so I kept the world-building aspects I’d once loved – demons running businesses on Earth, angels who had shut themselves away from everyone and lived knowing one death could create a domino effect in the community – and created a new story.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I want to write books that affect people and foster community. I want to see people who like my work so much that they talk about it with their friends and write meta about it and create fanart and fanfiction because they love it so much. But as I said earlier, what’s most important to me is putting out work with LGBTQ characters, so all that fandom boils down to people seeing my characters and either identifying with them (if the reader is queer) or empathizing with them. I want my work to move people and allow for a better representation of what the world actually is, so if my work can help achieve that, then I’ll be happy. 

The Bloodline Chronicles Volume 1

The Bloodline Chronicles Volume 1 - Joe H Sherman

Sorram and Taurwin are not your average brothers. That's pretty apparent from the get go.

However, we quickly learn that despite any . . . oh let's say. . .abilities that they have, they are unique in that they have soft hearts for the people around them. They want to help. They want to make the world a better place. At first you might feel led to believe that this stems from their naivety, but you begin to better understand their mindset and actions as Sherman reveals more and more about these two interesting characters. 

I liked seeing this alternative to the typical paranormal thrillers that run so rampant these days. Sorram and Taurwin are unique, fresh, (adorable), and overall fascinating characters that never seem to react as you expect them to. 

The book did not take the route that I assumed it would. So I'm anxious to see where the next book in the series leads. I like being surprised by the plot. While there's something to be said for "comfort books" (ones that offer no twists or surprises) I appreciate when an author takes the story in a completely different direction than I expected. It's refreshing and it tells me a lot about the author. 

So if you're looking for a new take on the paranormal classic, I'd recommend The Bloodline Chronicles!


Some Bio Information

Joe H. Sherman has worked most of his adult life in the machine trades, primarily in the aerospace industry. He has obtained rank in both aikido and judo, is a supporter of the NRA, and is a UAW member. He spends most of his time off work with his loving wife and family. He enjoys the outdoors whether he is fishing, hunting, or just exploring the backwoods of the mountains in West Virginia. He has two children. He and his family currently reside in rural Ohio near the village of Covington with their dogs.


Q&A

1.      Was there a specific point in your life when you realized you wanted to be an author?

Actually it is still just a hobby for me. I do it because I enjoy it. I suppose if I sold enough books, I would retire earlier and dedicate more time writing, but until then I consider myself a factor worker… just your average shmoe… with a different hobby than most.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for this book?

I actually started writing in an effort to help my son with his writing. My brilliant idea to write a story together turned out to be a futile attempt to hone his writing skill. However, a new hobby for me was born.

3. Describe your writing process for us. 

You may find this hard to believe, but my writing process revolves around my sever sleep apnea. It even amazes me sometimes the insanity that runs through my mind as I slip in and out of consciousness. Of course, the majority of it I never understand and never make head or tales of it. However, there is occasionally material for one of my stories that I continue to write. This is the first book of the first series I have completed. I have several other series, which I am currently writing, but I need to dream up more material for those yet.

4. Who is your favorite author? 

I am not sure if I can pick a favorite author to be honest. I have enjoyed Dean Koont immensely over the years. But I have a special place in my heart for the old westerns I  read in my younger years by Louis Lamoure. So much so that I occasionally drag on of the shelf for a quick read. Of course, I couldn’t list favorite authors without mentioning Robert Jordain and his Wheel of Time series. Nevertheless, I have been reading John Scalzi lately and he is my current fascination.

5. What does the perfect writing environment for you look like?

I don’t know for sure since I do most of my writing when I am supposed to be sleeping.

6. How would you describe your writing style? 

I would like it to come across as a folks tale.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I suppose the ultimate goal would be early retirement and a new writing career, but I would settle for a self-sustaining hobby.

The Cemetery Sleeper

The Cemetery Sleeper - Susan Griner

The Cemetery Sleeper is the story of a young boy who is having difficulties moving on after a tragedy in his life. It's because of this that he comes to believe that he's being haunted by an unfriendly ghost. 

I started feeling bad for poor Freddy pretty quickly after beginning the book. Regardless of his bad luck in life, he's mostly able to keep his spirits up. I don't really see him moping a lot throughout this book, as one would think a child in this situation might. It gave him an added dimension to show his maturity and his level of understanding about the situation that he was in. He adapts as best he can instead of sitting down to complain about how he wishes things would be. 

I truthfully did not see the end coming. While Freddy seems convinced that he knows what Tump wants with him, he really has no idea. And even the development of Tump's character in such a short amount of time is impressive. 

This is a cute YA book that I definitely enjoyed reading. I can see my son enjoying this when he gets a little older. 


Some Bio Information

Susan Griner is an author of children's fiction. She has writen short stories and poetry for both Cricket and Babybug magazine. She is currently working on a YA novel set along the Silk Road. She lives in Washington state, but her southern roots have influenced her writing.


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book?

An acquaintance told me about her father and how he had no name when he was little so he took one from a tombstone. I decided to write a story about the man buried under the tombstone and how he felt about having his name being stolen. He begins to haunt the person who stole his name.

2. Was there a deciding moment in your life when you realized you wanted to be an author?

I loved James Herriot’s books about his life as a veterinarian and wanted to be a vet too. When I realized how much science was involved in getting a degree I decided I’d write fictional stories about being a vet instead. 

3. Can you describe your writing process a bit?

I’m not an outline kinda of gal. I usually get a concept I’m keen about and then I figure out the characters. I revise a lot to build layers for my characters. I like to get input from readers when I’ve got a solid draft and revise again. 

4. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

Trying to figure out if I have a viable story. Is it worth pursuing? Is it a short story and not a novel?

5. Who is your favorite author?

I read a lot of children’s books so one of my favorite authors is Ruth White. Her melancholy stories, like Belle Prater’s Boy, are set in the south where I grew up. 
 
6. Describe your favorite place.

Any place where I can get a view of Mount Rainier.

7. What does your book say about you?

That I’m curious about ghosts and whether they exist or if they are trapped sorrows we create.

Foehammer

Foehammer - Duncan Campbell

I've been searching for an appropriate way to describe this book for the full 48 hours since I finished reading it. And what have I come up with? Zilch. I don't know that I can do it justice in a simple turn of a phrase. It lies somewhere in between Avengers, Resident Evil, Revelation (as in the book of the Bible), and heck, I don't know, The Thing? The X-Files? Fringe? On top of that, throw in a little bit of political corruption and intrigue and a multitude of half-wit masses who no longer care about their government, and you have Foehammer. 

I want to say that I was hooked from the beginning, but I was not. It took 3-4 chapters for me to really figure out what was going on -- about the time the team was assembled and meeting for the first time. But I cannot put this on Campbell. I was having a difficult time focusing. 

But once I was hooked, I could not put my Kindle down. I stayed up way past my bedtime just to finish this book. Partially because I was so into the plot. And partially because, although there is a lot of humor and downtime in this book where they're not fighting off bizarre creatures, the plot and Campbell's writing style is just enough to put me on edge and make me uncomfortable enough that I couldn't fall asleep until I had a resolution. 

I love the questions that the plot brought to my mind. Most importantly, I love that the questions are not blatantly posed to the reader. With just the tiniest hint of what's going on in the world of Foehammer, alarms ring in your head and you realize that world is not right; something seems terribly wrong. 

While I want to go on and on about this book (I'm practically gushing already), I'm going to stop and simply say that you should read it. Period. End of story. The characters are exceptionally well developed, the plot is positively entrancing, and the writing style is clever and smooth -- leading you on with each page turned. 


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Some Bio Information

Duncan Campbell was born and grew up in Yorkshire in the UK. After school he left York to study philosophy at the University of Sussex. 

A huge dose of magic mushrooms whilst backpacking in Thailand resulted in a powerful hallucinogenic experience that awakened a strong interest in shamanism. The ‘spirit world’ sequences in the Foehammer books are drawn directly from his diary entries at this time.


Q&A

1.    Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I write lots and lots of drafts. This allows the story and characters to develop slowly and gives me lots of reflection time. Most people don’t believe it, but there were more than eighty drafts of Foehammer before I was happy. This took eight years. It’s a very personal story and reflects strong beliefs that I hold – so it was worth it.

2.    Is the story over? 

No, not at all. It has just begun! There are two more books. Unfortunately only a few characters survive!

3.    Which Foehammer character do you relate to the most? 

It has to be two. I am half Jester and half Curtis! In fact if you want to go into psychological depth then Curtis represents my super ego and Jester my id.

4.    What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

Getting stuck on a single sentence to describe something. 

5.    Who’s your favorite author?

When I was a boy I read The Lord of The Rings about twelve times – so Tolkien.
As an adult, I rate Iain M Banks and Cormac McCarthy

6.    Can you give us a little hint of the inspiration behind Foehammer?

I can give you loads! Strangely, the tone of the book is inspired by the sound of the post punk band Killing joke. Many of the scenes contain subtle Killing Joke references. I wanted to capture the intensity of their music and gigs in written form (an insane goal – but there you go).

Politically Foehammer is also an angry statement about social complacency, politicians profiting from war and increasing global wealth inequality. Jester and Curtis will never allow themselves to be sub-dermaly chipped and tracked by the government! Foehammer are my small army of resistance. Crooked politicians and corrupt corporations beware, there are only six of them – but they will find you and nothing can stop them.

I am also inspired by classic graphic novels and sci fi. Some reviewers have spotted a hint of Alien and Aliens, and I hope there’s some Bladerunner in there – as I adore that film.

7.    What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To keep going. First I have to finish the trilogy – and then I have a box of about three hundred more ideas to get through. I will do a British ‘superhero’ collective in a few years time.

The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard

The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard - Mr. M

If you're looking for a wild ride of a book, then I have to recommend this one. Mr. M immediately throws you in the plot and the roller coaster doesn't come to a screeching and abrupt halt until the very last sentence. 

Despite the fast pace and short length of the story, the characters are well developed and I genuinely enjoyed each of them. I had no issues whatsoever following the plot. It was entertaining and quite unique. At least, I've never read anything like it before. 

I was saddened and a little disappointed with the ending of the book, as I feel the author wanted me to be. I'm hoping there's a follow up story in the works so that the remaining open plot points can be resolved. 

This was a fun story that kept me hooked until the end. And I'm interested to read more by this author. I'd like to see what he's capable of in other genres. His tone, despite the serious nature of the plot, maintained a lighthearted and almost joking tempo, which I really enjoyed. So I'd very much like to see what he would offer up in an adult genre. 


Some Bio Information

Mr. M graduated from Chapman University with a BFA in Film and Television Production. He received his MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. As a television executive at CBS, UPN, and ABC he worked with writers and producers supervising comedies and dramas for the networks. Some of the shows Mr. M worked on were Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Girlfriends, Alias, George Lopez, and the short lived Invasion. Mr. M was always interested in teaching and decided to make a career change. He attended Pacific Oaks College where he earned a Masters of Human Development and a multi-subject credential. Fulfilling his long time interest in building character, Mr. M created a character education curriculum while teaching. Independent Schools Magazine published an article he wrote under a different name about his curriculum. He is also mentioned in a book by David Streight titled Breaking Into the Heart of Character. Mr. M also participated in think tank discussions about character for the Council of Spiritual and Ethical Education. Mr. M lives with his wife, son, and daughter.


Q&A

1. Who is your favorite author? 

One of my favorite authors of all time is S.E.Hinton. The Outsiders and Rumblefish are classic YA books. The best writers are also enthusiastic readers. Like most people I go through phases of what I am reading. When I was in elementary school I read Matt Christopher books. My favorite Matt Christopher book was Catcher With A Glass Arm. When I reached middle school I went through an S.E. Hinton phase, which was followed by a J.D. Salinger phase. This was followed up by a healthy diet of John Steinbeck books. Upon arriving in high school I started reading sports autobiographies. I am a Laker fan. Kareem Abdul Jabbar is a great writer.

2. Which character in your book do you most relate to? 

Brian and Johnny are the two characters that I relate to the most. They are the kind of kids that persevere during tough times. I’d like to think that I use perseverance in my daily life. Someone once described Brian and Johnny as sounding “witty.” This was definitely the tone I was trying to establish. I don’t know if people think of me as witty in my personal life! 

3. Is Brian’s story over? 

No character is completely over. That being said, I have plans for a part two. There is a heavy cliffhanger at the end of The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard. I can’t reveal what happens. The best characters live on in our hearts and minds forever. Brian will always be in my heart and mind. 
 
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

This is a great question. I do a lot of prewriting. Prewriting allows me to understand the backstory of the characters. It also helps me develop the voice of the characters and the tone of the book. I actually had no intention of writing a young adult novel. I wrote a short story about a boy who has a crush on the new girl at school. It was relatable, and exciting. The setting was at The Santa Monica Pier. This short story became the first chapters of The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard! 
 
5. Describe your favorite place. 

Any place where my family is hanging out is my favorite place. That being said, the characters live in Santa Monica. If you have never been to Santa Monica, you should go to the Santa Monica Pier. The carousel is amazing! There is also an aquarium underneath the pier! Go see it!  

6. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

The revision process is always the most challenging for me. Revision is different than editing. Many writers get this confused. Ultimately, the revision process elevates my writing. However, the time and energy that goes into this stage can be exhausting. If you want to be a writer, get used to rewriting. I normally try and break down this process into writing strategies. For example, I may do a dialogue pass first. After that I may focus on adding descriptive language to the setting. Once I feel positive about the plot, characters, setting, tone, and voice I move on to another part of the process.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

Well, I would like to sell a zillion copies of The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard and retire on my own island. Naturally, I flew from Los Angeles to my own personal island in a Millenium Falcon. Aside from that I would like to continue to challenge myself. I am currently writing another short story. I am also planning on finishing up part 2 of the Brian Leonard series. When I am not writing, I teach fourth grade. I am having a wonderful school year! 

I love hearing from my enthusiastic readers. Below are some ways you can connect with me. I love reading your reviews on Goodreads or on Amazon…Okay, that was my not so subtle way of asking you to review my book. Cheesy? Yes! 

Book Available:
http://www.amazon.com/Magical-Adventures-Brian-Leonard/dp/1497511305/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428541771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+magical+adventures+of+brian+leonard#customerReviews
And other online shops…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mr-M/676524319075068?ref=bookmarks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10645603-mr-m
Instagram: https://instagram.com/mr._m_teacher/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=6959072

Harvest

Harvest - Beth Martinu

Over the years we've seen some unusual takes on the Grim Reaper concept. I think I was first introduced to the idea of a Grim Reaper by none other than Ray Bradbury in his short story regarding a man, his new farm, a wheat field, and a scythe. Then there's the Family Guy version of the Grim Reaper with the voice of, I believe occasionally, Norm McDonald(?). Don't quote me on that. And then there was that Sci Fi show that I loved, Dead Like Me, in which a young girl dies and is forced to return to life as a reaper of souls. 

Long intro, huh? The point I'm getting that is that I've seen this done in numerous ways. HOWEVER, I've never seen it done with the approach that Beth Martinu takes in her book Harvest. In this book, young Frankie picks up a dropped necklace and unwittingly becomes a collector of souls.

Frankie is young, charismatic, excited about life, and, seemingly, ready to take on the world. Yet there is a lot holding her back. There's her emotionally broken father, classes that seem to be draining her life away, a best friend who, although sweet and caring, is a little overly attached to material items and "partying" away her youth, and last but not least, another best friend who is trying to tie her down emotionally. 

While Frankie is already out of high school, I definitely saw this as a coming of age story. She constantly worries about her father and is frustrated about his needs, but when he comes to terms with his past and begins to move on, she finds that she's not as ready to move on as he is. 

Without this new direction in life that the necklace brings her, Frankie might have found herself floundering even more -- feeling unneeded by her father and lost without her best friends. 

While she takes tremendous strides in "growing up" and "finding herself" in this book, the transition is very obviously not over. I'm anxious to see where Martinu takes this story and how Frankie is able to come to terms with all that has happened to her. 

The plot is great and it moves along at a nice pace. Frankie is easy to love and you find yourself with way more questions than the author is willing to answer. I always love that in a book. Overall an excellent read! 


Some Bio Information

Beth Martinu has aspired to be a writer for as long as she can remember, yet could never find the time or the patience to sit still long enough to get anyone’s story down on paper. Though characters and plot lines would swirl in her mind, they were always pushed to the side in favour of more pressing issues, eventually fading away. 

When Frankie appeared on the scene, she assumed she would follow suit; but she fought for her story, leaving Beth precious little peace until it was complete. As a mother of three completing a teaching degree, it took close to a year to write her first novel, Harvest, and months more worth of edits to get it to the stage where she felt her words did Frankie justice. 

Beth Martinu is from Melbourne, Australia, learn more about her work at her website bethmartinu.com or forward queries and comments to: the_real_frankie_harlow@outlook.com

Author website: http://www.bethmartinu.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OfficialMzB


Q&A

1. What’s your favorite part of Harvest? 

I have a few and they all tend to circle around the dynamic between Frankie and Cameron. I’m particularly fond of the moment in the park where Cam and Frankie figure it all out. I love the final scene of the novel between these two, and how although it is not “typical” it seems natural for them. I love how far both Frankie and Cam have come by that point. 

2. Who’s your favorite author? 

It’s hard for me to say- I find myself drawn to storylines and characters over writing styles. Although I’d say my favourite books of all time are To Kill a Mockingbird and Catch-22, I wouldn’t say that either Joseph Heller or Harper Lee were my favourite authors. I do love the world that JK Rowling created for Harry Potter and the strong character that was Rose in the Vampire Academy series. 

3. Is Frankie’s story over? 

Definitely not! She’s still not quite come into herself yet- she’s on her way, but she still has some growing and learning to do. Harvest is the first book in Frankie’s trilogy. She has a few more adventures in her yet!

4. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process? 

Writer’s block. Those times where it takes about 3 hours to get one page out and it’s barely passable and will need extensive editing anyway. I can be quite impatient and days like this just kill me.  

5. Describe the best writing environment. 

I don’t find that I’m influenced too much by my environment. I wrote a lot of Harvest in a café (yes, the one referenced in the novel), but also at a library, by my pool or sitting at the kitchen table. Though it can prove distracting, I’ve found myself writing most of book 2 in the lounge during family TV time. 

6. What’s your ultimate writing goal/dream?

I just can’t wait until Frankie’s story has been told in its entirety. Of course, I’d like lots of people to read Harvest and the rest of the trilogy and love it to bits, but ultimately finishing her story and having it on my own bookshelf will be accomplishment enough for me. 

7. What would you like your readers to take away from Frankie’s story? 

I guess from a “moral of the story” sense the importance of inner strength and being responsible and accountable for yourself. There seems to be a trend for female lead characters to be victims and need saving. On the other side of the coin, I hope that this helps people see that a character doesn’t have to be a bad-ass either in order to be independent. There is a whole middle area on the scale that isn’t often explored. While Frankie complains a lot, she learns how to take care of business for herself.

The Dead Game

The Dead Game - Susanne Leist

The Dead Game begins with an incredibly frightening scenario -- a couple is trying to rescue their children from a house that seems to be a living creature with an intense hatred of humans! I loved this introduction -- it really hits with a bang! Leist immediately throws you into the action -- and I was legitimately scared for the poor family despite not knowing anything else about them. 

Based on the introduction, I really expected the book to be about a haunted house that the townspeople were trying to appease or maintain. But Leist throws you for a loop when she introduces vampires. I definitely did not see this twist coming. From there, the struggle between good vampires and bad vampires is action packed and quick paced. 

And the surprises don't end there. Several other supernatural beings make an appearance. I kind of wish that she would have split this book into multiples. I really wanted to learn more about these other beings, but felt like they weren't given enough attention or explanation. 

And I'm really curious about where Leist will take this world she created. The ending leaves the reader with questions and it's obvious that someone is not who they claim to be. This revelation definitely left me unsettled, wondering what would happen next. 


Some Bio Information

Susanne Leist graduated with an M.B.A. in Finance. Wherever life has led her, through the hectic commodities' markets or the number-crunching field of budgeting, she's continued to read and daydream. Unbeknownst to her, she had been pursuing her dream all along, her dream of putting her words down on paper for everyone to enjoy. She lives on Long Island with her husband, two daughters, and Maltese.

Her first book, The Dead Game, is a paranormal thriller with humans, vampires, and vampire derivatives. Her goal has been to write a book different than the usual vampire story or murder mystery. She wanted a murder mystery with victims, clues, and suspects. She created that and much more. The book has revolving rooms, traps, falling cages, and anything her active imagination could create. The Dead Game is a fun ride into the realms of the supernatural.


Q&A

1. What character do you relate to the most in The Dead Game? 

Linda is the main character and she thinks with my voice. She falls for Todd, a dark and brooding character. At first, she’s too shy to do anything about it. Slowly she steps out from her shell to confront him about the evil in town. I believe he respects her more for doing this.

2. Where do you draw your inspiration for you writing? 

I’ve always loved to read murder mysteries. I’ve read all types of mysteries, from Agatha Christie to Sherlock Holmes. In recent years, I’ve begun to watch TV shows with paranormal themes. 

It’s hard to find books that combine paranormal and mystery. That’s why I decided to write a paranormal, murder mystery of my own. My book, The Dead Game, has dead bodies and suspects like a traditional murder mystery. However, it also has humans, vampires, and vampire derivatives. And don’t forget the haunted house—we must have one of these.

3. At what age did you decide you wanted to become a writer? 

I decided at the ripe old age of forty six to write my first book. I’ve always had an over-active imagination. I wanted to put it to good use. It took time to plan out the book. It took even more time to figure out how to make my characters move and speak. It’s not as easy as it looks. Seven years later, The Dead Game was born.

4. Describe the perfect setting for writing. 

I don’t believe the setting is as important as the way I feel at the time. I have to feel relaxed with my mind open for ideas. A good night’s sleep is always helpful. A ringing phone can be disturbing. 

My favorite time to write is late at night. I’m more relaxed with fewer disturbances. The later for me, the better; my defenses are down late at night.

5. There is obviously much more in store for Todd and Linda – can you give us a teaser of what’s to come? 

Todd and Linda have only just begun their romance and adventures. The second book opens with a surprise or two. Someone returns from the dead to disrupt their happy life and the lives of everyone else in town. Oasis will never be a true oasis or will it? 

6. What author has influenced you the most? 

My favorite author is Brad Meltzer.  He is the one who inspired me to write my book. His books have likeable characters. They are people, like you and me, who get themselves into trouble. The interesting part is how they get themselves out of their convoluted problems and schemes.

7. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would love to travel to Greece. I could imagine myself sunning on a boat with blue water all around me and the sun shining down from the deep blue sky. I look ahead and see the pretty white buildings with colorful flowers in their pretty yards. I’m ready to go.