Brain to Books Blog Tour

P.H. Solomon

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: P.H. Solomon
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Books:
    • Trading Knives 
    • What Is Needed
    • The Black Bag
  • Official Site

Bio

P.H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. He is currently finishing the first book of a fantasy series and hopes to see it in print soon.


Interview with P.H. Solomon

Q. How did you get started writing?

A. I started writing this book out of high school several decades ago. I almost signed a contract for it with a small publisher in the mid-90's but backed off due to the terms. Since then I've toyed with writing off and on but decided to re-write the book and get serious about writing several years ago.

Q. How many books have you written prior?

A. The Bow of Destiny is my first novel-length book. I previously published a short story, The Black Bag, as an e-book.
Q. What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about? I enjoy fantasy the most so that's what I write. The Bow of Destiny is an epic fantasy whose main character, Athson has seen things that aren't there and suffered fits since being tragically orphaned as a child at the hands of trolls and Kregen the wizard. When a strange will mentioning a mysterious bow comes into his possession, he's not sure it's real. But the trolls that soon pursue him are all too real and dangerous. And what's worse, these raiders serve Kregen and his master, the hidden dragon, Magdronu, who are responsible for the destruction of his childhood home. Athson is drawn into a quest for the concealed Bow of Hart by the mystic Withling, Hastra, but Athson isn't always sure what's real and who his enemies are. With Kregen and Magdronu involved, Athson must face not only frequent danger but his grasp on reality and the reasons behind his tragic past.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it?

A. Chris Rawlins out of the UK designed the cover based on one of his own pieces named: Robin of Loxley.

Q. Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

A. Once I saw the artwork my cover is based on I knew that was what I needed. Chris was spot on with the design based on my descriptions. I'm looking forward to working with him again.
Q. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

A. Tolkien heads the list but it also includes Patricia McKillip, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey and many others.
Q. What does your writing process look like?

A. Write like mad to get the rough draft out. Then make structural changes, followed by my editor's structural changes. Then it's onto nitty-gritty editing until the manuscript is ready for beta reading.
Q. Where do you write?

A. Wherever my laptop lands - it's my mobile office.
Q. Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?

A. A little of both. I like a fluid, creative outline (not the structure kind from school, it just doesn't fit fiction). An creative outline allows for easy changes. Likewise, Scrivener is a great way to outline too since you can make structural changes easily.
Q. What book do you wish you could have written?

A. Armor by John Steakley or Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock - both are very under-read and under-valued books that very good and I highly recommend them.
Q. Do you have a pet or pets?

A. Actually, my dogs inspired Spark.
Q. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?

A. The Outer Hebrides Islands, The Galapagos Islands, Budapest and, well, all the parts of Europe I haven't been to yet.
Q. If you were any plant or animal, what would you be?

A. Cheetah - amazing runner!
Q. If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

A. Scottish is a fun-sounding accent but I'd really like to speak Gaelic.


Pending Projects

Book 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga: The Bow of Destiny releases 9/28/2015. It can currently be found for reservation at these select online retailers: Barnes & NobleKobo & iBooks (via the iTunes app)

Book 2 of The Bow of Hart Saga: An Arrow against the Wind due out 1/2/2016. It can currently be found for reservation at these select online retailers: Barnes & NobleKobo & iBooks (via the iTunes app)

Book 3 of The Bow of Hart Saga: The White Arrow is due out Fall of 2016 (links pending).

Prequel short stories to The Bow of Hart Saga:

Champion of the Stone Rats - tentative release 9/30/2015 for free, will be on Wattpad during 9/15.

A parallel series to The Bow of Hart Saga is also in process as three novellas.

There will likely be a sequel trilogy for The Bow of Hart Saga and possibly at least a prequel book.

The Black Bag found at AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboSmashwords & iBooks (via the iTunes app).

Guardians of the Gate epic fantasy is also a book/series in development.

The Black Glove adventure-fantasy series is also in development.


Owen Thomas

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact


Bio

Owen Thomas is a life-long Alaskan with an abiding love of original fiction writing and storytelling whose ultimate purpose is always to reconnect the reader with humanity. Owen is a product of the Anchorage School District and a graduate of Duke University and Duke Law School. Over the years, while his responsible, wage-earning identity has been busy practicing law and running a law firm, Owen has written three novels:  Lying Under Comets: A Love Story of Passion, Murder, Snacks and Graffiti; The Lion Trees (Gold Medal Winner of the Global eBook Award for new adult fiction; a semi-finalist for the Kindle Book Awards, A winner of The Eric Hoffer Award for fiction, a semi-finalist for The Amazon Kindle Book Award; a Finalist for The Beverly Hills International Book Awards and The First Horizon Book Award and awarded Honorable Mentions at The London Book Festival, The Southern California Book Festival, The Great Northwest Book Festival, The Los Angeles Book Festival, The Great Southeast Book Festival, The Pacific Rim Book Festival, The Amsterdam Book Festival, and the New York Book Festival);  and a novel of interconnected short fiction, including six novellas and four short stories, entitled Signs of Passing winner of the 2014 Pacific Book Awards for Short Fiction. Even as you read this biographical blurb, a fourth and somewhat lighter novel, Henry & Biggs – a political vampire thriller about a literary agent and his pet Beagle (yes, you read that correctly) – is currently in the works and the first dozen chapters have been posted on the Owen Thomas Fiction Blog. Additional short fiction pieces are collected and reproduced in their entirety at Tiny Points of Life. Owen’s short story“Everything Stops” has been selected for publication in an anthology of short fiction published by Fiction Attic Press called “Modern Shorts”, available at Amazon. Owen’s short stories “Nothing To Worry About” and “Island Santa” have recently been released for purchase at Blurb.comand Amazon.com, respectively.

For the fifth consecutive year since he has been measuring his commercial success as an author, Owen has not won the Orange Prize for Fiction. Also, to great acclaim, he has not won the Man Booker Prize. Most recently, in April of 2015, Owen was not nominated for a Pulitzer.

Owen fervently believes our problem is not that life is too short, but that it tends to be much too narrow.  Also, whimsy in living is far too important to take seriously. But both of those propositions are the subject of on-going litigation. In the meantime, Owen is increasingly concerned that referring to oneself in the third-person is dangerously habit-forming.


BOOK BLURB

Meet the Johns, a family of five living in Columbus, Ohio in the year 2005. George W. Bush is well into his second term. The Iraq War is raging. Hurricane Katrina has landed. The Johns family is quietly, and then not so quietly, unraveling. In shades of Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, the Johns family story, at turns dramatic and comic, tells the stories of Hollis, Susan, David and Tilly, each in the grips of tailor-made predicaments that threaten the identities to which they cling.

Hollis Johns, a retired Ohio banker, isolates himself in esoteric hobbies and a dangerous flirtation with a colleague’s daughter. Susan, his wife of forty years, risks everything for a second chance at who she might have become. David, their eldest, thrashes to stay afloat as his teaching career capsizes in a storm of accusations involving a missing student and the legacy of Christopher Columbus. And young Tilly, the black sheep, having traded literary promise for an improbable career as a Hollywood starlet, struggles to define herself amid salacious scandal, the demands of a powerful director, and the judgments of an uncompromising writer.

By turns comical and poignant, The Lion Trees depicts a family tumbling toward the discovery that sometimes you have to let go of your identity to find out who you are.



 EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1 – David

“Who is the most important historical figure you can name?” 

They stare at me, bright and twinkling with attention. Soaking me in. Assessing me. Measuring me against the others. And I am ready for them.

I sit on the edge of the desk and swing my leg, looking from face to face, letting them take stock before getting down to business. The first-day energy is palpable. Fresh, young, hungry minds.  I roll a stick of chalk from one palm to the other like dice. They blink at me.

"Don’t be shy, folks. No judgment here. Who do you think is the most important historical figure of all time?”

 Swing, swing, swing. Roll, roll, roll. Blink, blink.

 “Anybody. Anybody at all. Don’t all dive in at once.”

 Blink, blink.

 “How about you… over in the back there… what’s your name?” I look at my seating chart. “Ashley? What do you think, Ashley?”

 She is startled. I smile and nod. I am reassuring. I am encouraging. I am everything a teacher must be. A guide. A shepherd. I turn to the virgin green board behind me with a quickness and uncoiling energy that makes them jump. Beneath “Mr. Johns” I dramatically click chalk to slate, poised to write. A display of trusting servitude.  A humble scribe.

I wait. I wait.

“Madonna,” she says, finally, with a pop of gum for punctuation.

“M…” I write the first letter and turn. “Mother of Christ?” I ask, hopefully. I am an optimistic person.

Ashley screws up her face, rapidly cocooning her forefinger in a spiraling strand of purple glop. “Huh?”

So maybe I’m not an optimistic person. I think of myself as an optimistic person, which is really very different than actual optimism. The irony is, my self-concept as an optimistic person may be the only true claim I have to actual optimism. Every morning I come to consciousness with this belief – this understanding – of who I am today. I stretch and I yawn and I swing my feet from the bed to the floor and so it begins. I am an optimistic person. I feel optimistic. People are basically good. My life is a communion with well-intentioned souls. Everything is, more or less, as it should be. Yesterday did not happen. History is a fiction. Each day I am reborn.

Reborn, apparently, into a life plagued by some cruel, recurring amnesia.  Because yesterday did, in fact, happen. And so did the day before yesterday. And the day before that.

“You mean… Madonna… the, um…”

“Yeah. You know… Madonna.” Ashley says this with enough self-evident incredulity to level mountains. Her neon-frosted eyes roll over and down to a girl in the next row – Brittany Kline, according to my seating chart – who shrugs back at Ashley uncomprehendingly.

“Okay. Madonna.” The name goes on the board. I am unphased. I am young and hip and rolling with it. “Why Madonna?” I roll up my sleeves and cross my arms. I am in the trenches. On the front lines, making a difference.

“It’s not like I listen to her now or anything cuz she’s totally old and everything, but she’s like totally opened a lot of doors for women in this culture and around the world by empowering them to express their sexuality and taking a stand and everything like that.”

Bad start. That’s all. Luck of the draw. This will get better. I keep moving.

“Okay. Okay. Fair enough.” I arch the chalk through the air from left hand to right. “Let’s get some more names on the board. Give me someone important that goes way, way back. Let’s go waaaaaayyyyy back. Pull out all the stops. Whaddaya got? Mr. Onaya, go for it. Who’s your favorite historical figure?”

“George Washington.”

“Yes!” Bam! On the board! I’m rolling. “Who’s next? Ms. Kent. Lemme have it.”

“Abraham Lincoln.”

“Okay. Good. Good. Next. Alicia, who’s your favorite?”

“George Washington.”

“We already have him.”

“Yeah, but he’s my favorite.”

“Okay, good. But give me some other important historical figure I can put up here so we can talk about what makes them influential today.”

“But I like George Wa…”

“You don’t have to like the person, you just have to think they played an important role historically.”

“Abraham Lincoln.”

I underline the name that, like George Washington’s, is already on the board. The pressure between my molars is beginning to show in my temples. “Try again.”

“Indiana Jones.”

My theory is that all optimists are, of necessity, “historically challenged.” Optimism is a kind of dementia caused by a weakness of memory. A pleasant by-product of a serious mental deficiency. Optimists are not to be admired or emulated. They are to be pitied. Wiley Coyote was an optimist.


 INTERVIEW WITH OWEN THOMAS

Welcome to the Tour, Owen. Tell us a bit about your target audience.

My target audience consists of people who enjoy reading and who like pondering and talking about what they are reading with others. The Lion Trees is a very rewarding book club read because there is so much to interpret, process and discuss. My rough, very unscientific sense of the demographics of the readers who have enjoyed the book seems to skew older (it is not a book for young or impatient readers), educated (consistent with character-driven fiction generally), and female (given the focus on family, relationships, and some strong female characters struggling mightily to be themselves). There are plenty of exceptions to that general demographic sketch: many men have really enjoyed this book, as have those without graduate degrees. So, I go back to the single most important common denominator within the target audience: you have to consider reading an important pastime. It’s a big book – 1600 pages – and it takes a certain kind of reader to say, yes, I want to read all of those pages. If there is a phrase to help find that demographic, “modern classic” comes to mind as a possibility. Reviewers have drawn loose comparison to Updike’s Rabbit Run, to Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, to Dr. ZhivagoGone with the Wind, and The Thorn Birds. I am not nearly so vain or delusional as to put The Lion Trees on that shelf. Rather, my point is that The Lion Trees seems to have the “feel” of a modern classic – particularly given its length, breadth of story and thematic depth – and that might be the right way to define its target audience.

Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?

My other life, the one that pays the bills, is spent as a lawyer. For the past twenty-five years I have practiced employment and commercial litigation in Anchorage, Alaska, where I manage a medium-sized law firm. Long before I ever went to law school (Duke Law 1990) I have been writing fiction. It is fair to say that creative writing started in grade-school English class and I just never stopped. My novel The Lion Trees took roughly ten years to write, much of it twenty and thirty minutes at a time, sitting in the front seat of my car in between meetings and court appearances. When I am not representing clients or making up characters I am photographing and otherwise enjoying the grandeur of Alaska and the paradise of Hawaii.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable. I have had innumerable false starts; books that I leapt into with a great deal of enthusiasm and then for one reason or another abandoned before completion. Some turned out to be too ambitious while others were simply bad ideas and still others died on the vine because I was not aggressive enough in investing the time. Ten years ago I wrote a novel called Lying Under Comets: A Love Story of Passion, Murder, Snacks and Graffiti. I am still in the process of reworking that book, which has not yet been submitted for publication. I am publishing a book of connected short fiction, entitled Signs of Passing, which I expect to be out later this summer. I am also closing in on the completion of two other novels, one as yet untitled and one about a literary agent and his pet Beagle, entitled Henry & Biggs.

What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about? My preferred and most natural genre is literary fiction. Even within that already catchall genre, I think I am fairly versatile and can cover a lot of ground, from high drama to suspense to full-on humor. The Lion Trees is about a family living in 2005 Ohio that is, collectively and individually, coming unraveled by circumstances seemingly out of their control. Thematically, The Lion Trees, by turns dramatic and comedic, takes a hard look at the power of self-identity to control the course of our lives.

What inspired you to write this book? Hallucinogenic mushrooms. Kidding. In the most general sense, my purpose is to entertain. As a fiction writer, I want to provide readers with an enjoyable and meaningful diversion that they will carry around with them for a while. On top of that, however, my motivation in writing this particular book was to elucidate the psychological phenomenon at the core of the story and which propels each of the characters along their various arcs. In a nutshell, that psychological phenomenon is this: we tend to work very hard to shape our lives in a way that reaffirms what we think about ourselves. At the core of our motivation is an identity and we will nurture and protect that identity at all costs – in every relationship, in every accomplishment and failure, at every pivotal juncture – even if that identity is maladaptive and based on nothing more than a calcification of misunderstandings we adopted as children. The person who believes he is underserving, or always misunderstood, or wrongly accused, etc., will work very hard in his life to make sure that identity is affirmed again, and again. Even if makes him miserable. Even if it kills him.

How did you come up with the title of your book?The Lion Trees is about, among many other things, a Hollywood feature film called The Lion Tree. One of the main characters in the book is the star of that movie (if it ever gets made). The movie is an adaptation of a short story written by one of the other characters in the book. The name of the short story is The Lion Tree. That short story has at is center a parable about a man whose family is devoured by a pride of lions while out on a safari in Africa. So the title to this novel in part derives from the titles of these works of fiction that fit one inside the other like Russian nesting dolls. More broadly, however, The Lion Trees refers to the metaphor that animates all of the plots and characters in this book: the lion tree marks the place in our lives at which we adopt a self-conception, an identity, that threatens to devour us from the inside out.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork? I worked with a consultant (Taughnee Stone at Launch the Book) to come up with an image that captured both the title and literary feel of the book. The Lion Trees, while very funny and contemporary in its style, also has a romantic, philosophical, modern-classic feel. We wanted the dominant image to be simple and iconic and for the cover to have a weathered, well-read look to it.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters? It is an interesting question, since one of the major storylines in The Lion Trees is about adapting a piece of literature to the Silver Screen and finding the right actors to play the various characters that inhabit the written work. The author of the fictional work on which the movie is to be based is a guy named Angus Mann. One of the stars of the movie declares that Angus bears a passing resemblance to Robert Forrester, so I suppose Angus would have to be played by Robert Forrester. As for the other characters, I will forego this opportunity to superimpose my own visual conception of the characters. I would prefer that the readers form their own conceptions of, and relationship with, the characters.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write? That is one of those questions that is fair to ask and, for me, nearly impossible to answer. I have been inspired by so many writers and books that to name one or a few does an almost unpardonable disservice to all of the others. So let me answer it this way. The Lion Trees as a literary creation was inspired by several different writers and books. The structure of the novel as a story told in a variety of different voices and tenses each handing off to another was inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. Some of the social-satirical elements of the book, as well as the hubristic aspects to Hollis Johns was at least partly inspired by Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full and his brilliant character Charles Croker. Aspects of the arc of Tilly Johns, the sexual rebelliousness of her character and the relationship she has with her brother Ben owe something to William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. The nesting of a story within a story (a novel called The Lion Trees about a movie called The Lion Tree, based on a short story called The Lion Tree, which is written around a parable of The Lion Tree) had its first inspiration from Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. The Johns family as a study of intimate, history-driven dysfunction was at least partly inspired by Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. The short story by Angus Mann (a fictional character) and all of its circa 1960, stripped-down science fiction born of nuclear paranoia was inspired by the incomparable Ray Bradbury. The list goes on. There is no better fuel and inspiration for writers than good writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?  I am confronted with this question every time someone asks “So what do you do?” It’s a question people seem to ask me a lot when I travel. I am increasingly torn by this question. What do I do? A year ago, when my life as a fiction writer was still largely a secret, I would not hesitate to answer, “I’m a lawyer,” usually followed by some mildly informative qualifier like, “mostly employment litigation,” or, “I manage a medium-sized law firm in Anchorage, Alaska.” I wouldn’t deign to call myself a writer, even though I did write a lot of fiction. Even though I wrote all the time. Even though writing is the thing I most enjoy. Well. Not counting sex and coffee ice cream and a good bourbon and a long list of other indulgent diversions. The point is that introducing myself as a fiction writer was always a quickly stifled impulse. It felt somehow wrong – dishonest, vain, pretentious – like I was laying claim to something not rightfully mine. In that split second before thought becomes an actual sound slipping the larynx, the lawyer in me always managed to elbow his way to the opening of my mouth, right hand raised, and took the oath of occupation. “What do I do? Well, I’m a lawyer.”

But then, in one giant step, The Lion Trees moved from the novel living and growing in the privacy of my laptop to a published work of fiction. Two volumes. Sixteen hundred pages. Six pounds of words. Reviews have been embarrassingly good. In less than a year The Lion Trees has racked up a dozen international book awards. People are now actually purchasing the fiction I write (fiction-fiction, not legal-argument fiction). They want to know where they can find these books and if I will sign them. It has been an experience like no other; like watching some chartreuse peony open up outside your window. So when a fellow passenger asked me on a recent trip to Seattle, “so what do you do?” what do you think I told him? “I’m a lawyer,” I said. “Mostly employment litigation.” I was baffled by my own response. If I cannot lay claim to being a writer now, after all that has happened, then when? By the time we landed in Seattle, I was working on a minor epiphany. I realized that the lawyer in me has been counseling the writer in me to hold out for a better question. Questions usually imply answers, or at least types of answers. Every lawyer knows that. The writer in me has been unwilling to stoop to pick up the question, “so what do you do?” and try to make something respectable of it. I “do” all kinds of things. Writing is not something I “do.” It’s who I bloody am. I don’t remember when that identity first took root; it has been coming on quietly for a very long time. But whenever it may have started, it’s here now. I just haven’t yet gotten comfortable declaring that to others. The next time some guy in an aisle seat leans over and asks, “so who are you, deep down in the pit of our soul?” I’m swinging for the fences. I’m going to nail it. Writer. That’s me.

What does your writing process look like?  Given the other professional demands on my life, my “writing process” includes trying to find as many spare minutes laying around to string together and actually be creative. Sometimes that is quite difficult. I wrote a great deal of The Lion Trees sitting in my car in the middle of fast-food restaurant parking lots between meetings and court appearances. In an ideal week, I am able to devote Saturday and Sunday mornings to writing; maybe four to five hours each day. That writing time is important because it allows a deeper focus. On those days I try not to do anything before writing – I do not open the newspaper. I do not turn on the radio or television. I avoid conversation. The less of the everyday world that is in my head, the better I am able to immerse myself in the world of whatever I am writing. If I am able to write in the afternoons and evenings, I tend to spend that time editing simply because by then the real world has invaded my thoughts to such an extent that filling the blank page with fresh thoughts and new words is much more difficult. I tend to write and edit in layers as I work my way through a book (as opposed to writing one draft and then going back to the beginning and writing a new draft, etc.), so once I finish that last page, the book is really about 80-90% complete. Thereafter, I comb through the book several times, but the edits tend to be fairly minor.

Where do you write? There is a couch in my den at home that provides me with a comfortable, out of the way, space. Sometimes too comfortable. It is not uncommon for my ‘writing time’ to look an awful lot like ‘nap time.’ As I have already mentioned, I have written a frightening percentage of my books in the front seat of my car sitting in some parking lot outside any number of sandwich shops. Having a mobile writing studio has allowed me to steal some valuable writing time from the little spaces over lunch and between meetings and court hearings. Every so often I will go to the local library with a set of headphones and a laptop and camp out for a while. For editing and book marketing work, various coffee houses around Anchorage have sufficed. It is probably worth noting that, for me anyway, the process of “writing” involves more than the process of typing. Writing for me requires a lot of pondering and problem solving and, to that extent, I spend a lot of time “writing” as I walk around a lake near where I live, or drive nowhere in particular, or sit in some public place staring out into space or watching people do whatever it is they are doing. Put to good use, all of that time is integral to my creative process. Not put to good use, all of that time starts to look a lot like idle daydreaming. Or suspicious loitering.

Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants? I’m more of a seat-of-my-pants guy although it is more a combination of both and I don’t really have a formula. A concept or idea will take root in my head and I will carry it around with me, usually for a long time. Eventually, I start to get ideas onto a computer screen. Then, like drops of water on a window, those ideas start to coalesce into something larger. Before long, the book starts to develop its own voice; its own presence in the world. I tend not to prepare detailed outlines because I think there is a real danger of creative confinement. The book can change out from under me and I want to allow that process as much as possible. If written organically (a term I use to distinguish my idea of creative writing from a kind of reverse-engineered, plot-manufacturing process), the characters and the story will tell you where they want to go. For me, writing is a very dynamic process that moves forward in the interplay between the writer and the story. If the writer tries to set it all down in stone at the beginning of the process, he or she is missing out on what to my mind is the best part. There is an awful lot to learn about the story you are telling that you simply do not know in the beginning. Getting to know your characters and their situation is like getting to know anyone else. It takes time and a willingness to adapt to new information and jettison preconceived notions.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors? My advice would be this: don’t worry about selling. Kick the commerce part of it out of the room for the writing phase and lock the door. Don’t write what the market expects you to write. Don’t write something you think will sell. Write with the sole purpose of doing justice to the creative vision in your head. Write something good. Write something authentic. Write something that moves you and you will move others. Have fun. Worry about selling later.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful? Reviews! The single most helpful thing readers can do is to write a review of the book – it does not have to be long and detailed – and then post the review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes&Noble, and/or LibraryThing. After that, sign on to the social media platform of your choice and recommend it to your friends.

What are you working on now? You mean aside from staying employed, married and solvent? I am on the verge of releasing a collection of short fiction called Signs of Passing. The book is comprised of four short stories and six novellas, all loosely connected to each other through characters and all organized around the theme of knowing when your life is no longer working and having the insight and courage to pick another direction. I am also about half-way through an as yet untitled novel set in south Texas, a second collection of short fiction entitled Tiny Points of Life, and an odd political-vampire-adventure-romp called Henry & Biggs, starring a New York literary agent and his pet Beagle. All of those projects (except the untitled novel) are represented on my author website (OwenThomasFiction.com).

What do you want your tombstone to say? “Edited for length without permission.”

If you had a supernatural power, what would it be? I host a fiction blog that has previously included a feature in which I pose thought-provoking but generally useless questions to followers on social media and then compile the most original answers. The first question in that series was this: if you had the power to fly or to be invisible which would you choose and why? One of my favorite responses was “If you’re invisible, you can fly anywhere you need to go. Pick the Lear jet of your choice and go. Who needs to fly as a superpower? Invisibility gets you both.” For anyone who is interested, the other answers are collected here. My own preference would be to have the power to pick up a book and instantly absorb the entirety of its contents. At my current rate of literary consumption, I’m never going to finish all the good books in the world. Sigh.

What book are you reading now? I never seem to be reading just one book. Currently, I am reading Orfeo by Richard Powers and The Luminaries by Eleanor Cotton. I just finished Lexicon by Max Barry and I have The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins cued up on


MAIN CHARACTER INTERVIEW (DAVID JOHNS):

So, David Johns, what seems to be the problem?

Problem? What makes you think there’s a problem?

I read the back cover of The Lion Trees.

Oh. Right. Well, in that case, the problem is that life as I know it is over.

That doesn’t sound good. What’s the issue? Work? Relationship? Money?

Yes. Yes. And yes. Also, I’m likely to be showering in prison for the rest of my natural life.

Wow. Not good.

 Right? Believe me, you don’t want the details.

 Sure I do. Let’s have it.

Okay. Where to start… I’m a high school history teacher living in Columbus, Ohio. I teach in the same school from which I graduated, so I haven’t really advanced very far in life. My father hates that I don’t have a business degree and that I never followed him into banking. Well, “hates” is probably the wrong word for what he feels because “hates” implies a certain active energy and my father basically gave up on me actually accomplishing anything in my life a long time ago. I live in a condo he paid for just to get me out of the house. He pays my mortgage most months, which really has not helped any.

Okay, not ideal, but not so terrible. What about your mother?

Mom spends most of her time taking care of my younger brother, Ben, who has Down Syndrome. When she’s not doing that, she obsesses over my sister’s movie career and keeps rigorous track of my father’s drinking. She thinks I try to avoid them on a regular basis.

Why would she think that?

Who knows? Probably because I try to avoid them on a regular basis. I went over to their house the other night to take Ben out to a movie. I snuck him out a back window rather than going in through the front door. That didn’t go over so well with Mom. She likes to worry. She worries that I’ve become a pothead.

Why is she worried about that?

I… I really have no idea.

So your sister is in the movie business?

Yeah, Tilly’s out there in Hollywood. Her career is really taking off. Just nominated for an award at Sundance. Mom is kind of star-struck with the whole thing. Dad hates it, of course.

Really? Why does he hate it?

 Well, partly because mom is so enthralled with Tilly’s success; they can never agree on anything where Tilly is concerned. A lot of hard feelings there. But I think it’s mostly because Tilly kind of… sort of… just a little bit likes to sleep with her directors and show up on the grocery store tabloid racks as a sex monster. Dad doesn’t like that much. Neither does mom. But all of my students love it. My sister’s sex life is the only thing they want to learn anything about. They sure don’t want to learn anything about history.

Look, David, you seem to be a smart, good-looking man with a good job and a family that still accepts your phone calls. If you don’t mind me saying, it sounds to me like your life has some of the same basic family, career and self-concept issues that most people have in some form or another. I’m not sure why you think your life is so bad.

You’re right. I know, I know. You’re right. I’m probably over-reacting to all of the little things. Like my girlfriend secretly sleeping with one of my colleagues. And the fact that the Columbus School district wants to fire me for teaching the truth about Christopher Columbus and George Bush. Oh, and that little, niggling problem of the Columbus Police Department trying to lock me up for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute and – not to be forgotten – for abducting and morally corrupting one of my female students. Silly to worry about that kind of thing, I know. All I need is a really good criminal defense lawyer and I’ll be fine. In fact, I already have a good criminal defense attorney. Glenda Laveau. Three hundred pounds of silken, jewel-toned courtroom aggression. Sadly, what I do not have is any money to pay Glenda’s fees. My current options seem to be trading sex for legal representation or asking my father for a whole lot of extra money. Did I mention my home has been destroyed and all of my pet fish are dead? I don’t know why I can’t just roll with these things. Like you say, everyone has these kinds of problems. Like the body of the teenage girl they just found in a dumpster, burned beyond recognition. How silly of me to just automatically conclude that it must be my missing student and that people carrying guns will think I had something to do with it. Right? Silly. Anyway, I’ve got go. Someone’s at the door.




Owen's Giveaways!

Amazon Giveaway (five copies of The Lion Trees, Part I: Unraveling and five copies of The Lion Trees, Part II: Awakening will be available for free from Amazon on a first come, first serve basis, from September 1 through September 7. Reviews are encouraged.).

Discounts – 50% off Paperback and Kindle Versions (for the month of September, reviews encouraged)

 See the Brain to Books Blog Tour Giveaways with Lu!

 A Brain to Books Production

Alastair Swinnerton

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts

  • Author: Alastair Swinnerton
  • Genre: Fantasy/SciFi Blend (Time Travel with Fantasy Elements)
  • Books: The Multiverse of Max Tovey of The Hamdun Chronicles
  • Official Site

Bio

Alastair has been writing for children’s television for over twenty five years. Among his many credits are ‘The Wombles’, ‘Sabrina, Secrets of a Teenage Witch’, and the Bafta-nominated CBBC Christmas Special ‘The Tale of Jack Frost’, which he wrote, co-produced and co-directed. He was also one the co-creators of Lego® Bionicle®. ‘The Multiverse of Max Tovey’ is his first Young Adult novel.

Alastair lives in Somerset with his family, and spends much of his spare time walking the dog, more often than not at his beloved Ham Hill.


Accomplishments/awards

*Earned nominations for Best Animation at the BAFTAs and Best TV Special at the Pulcinella Awards in 2005 for The Tale of Jack Frost.

* Won Top-performing series on CITV for the summer of 2000 and received a special mention for graphics at the Pulcinella Awards in 2000 for his television show The Baskervilles, a cartoon series that developed a large cult following in the early 2000s.

*Emmy nominated in 1998 and won the 1998 New York Film & TV Festival Award for Best Children’s Program ages 2-6 for his work on Season 2 and 3 of The Disney Channel’s Amazing Animals.

* Nominated for an Irish Film & TV Award for Best Animation in 2008 for his work on Wobbly Land.


 Blurbs

 Fourteen year old Max Tovey’s world is blown apart when he discovers that his problems are nothing to do with him, and everything to do with being a Time Traveller. Following his mysterious grandfather’s funeral, Max finds himself on a wild journey through first century Celtic Britain, real and mythological, as his every action threatens to change the past, and his future.

Max battles demons – both real and psychological – on his mission to find the legendary Montacute Cross, stolen by his Viking ancestor Tofig, in order to close the gates to the Underworld, and lift the curse on his family.


Book Reviews

“Exciting… A Heart-racing Romp through Time”

–Alex Marwood, Edgar Award-winning author of ‘The Wicked Girls’

“This book was great, overall. Fun, a little dark, and I would buy it for every kid I know if I could! 4/5--fun and deep.”

—Kelly Smith Reviews

 http://kellysmithreviews.blogspot.com/2015/08/advance-book-review-multiverse-of-max.html?m=1&zx=b65602a428baa18f


 Excerpt

Max felt a little faint, almost like he’d just stepped off a boat and the world was still rocking back and forth.

“It will stop soon,” said someone behind him. Max turned, to see a man with short, well-cut blonde hair dressed in a smart dark blue suit.

“That feeling in your head. It will stop soon.”

Max looked around at his new surroundings, a white-painted room full of monitors, and a big window looking out onto what looked like hospital beds, their occupants seemingly asleep, attached to all manner of wires and tubes. A man in shirt sleeves came into the room and stopped and stared as he saw Max. “He’s here?” said the man in alarm. He sat down at the monitors quickly, checking the sleepers’ vital functions.

“It’s alright Wilson – Stenton brought him in. He had to think quickly.”

 “Where am I?” said Max. “And who are you?”

“I am Major Willoughby, and you are in the TRD. Time Research Department. Welcome Max – we’ve been following your life since, well since it began really.”

“Time Research Department?” said Max, a little cynicism creeping into his voice. “What, like a government department? Are you a secret agent or something?”

The Major laughed. “No Max, nothing so glamorous I’m afraid. This isn’t Doctor Who.”

Now Max looked closer at the occupant of one of the beds.

“That’s Nick! What’s he doing in that bed? He just rescued me from...”

“Yes, we saw. We can see everything The Dreamers do in these monitors here.”

Max stared at the Major, then held his hand up, taking a minute to try to work things out. But he couldn’t.

“Nick is a time traveller, as are the other five. Somehow they access the Multiverse - the infinite possible futures of the Fifth Dimension, and the alternative Presents of the Sixth. Like you, they have something missing in their brains that makes us see Time as a straight line – but unlike you, they can’t Travel when they’re awake. Only you can do that, that we know of, except of course your late grandfather, and anyone who has The Majyga. And so they sleep, and dream, and through them we make sure the Past, and the Present, remains stable. Which we have done - until now.”

“Where do they come from?”

“Percy found them shortly after he started Travelling himself,” said the Major. “He was still working for Intelligence as a code breaker then. Things kept changing in history, and he couldn’t work out why - then he found these guys. They didn’t even know they were doing it at first, but slowly they realised, and started taking advantage, changing history for their own ends. Percy tracked them down, one by one, and brought them to us. We were a dream research establishment at the time, but he realised we - and these Travellers - could be put to work for the good of the world, changing it subtly to right historical wrongs.”

Max was struggling. “So, you are government then...?”

“Well, a few people in various governments know about us, yes. But they don’t interfere. We rather scare them.”


 Connect with the Author


Aurelia Maria Casey

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts

  • Author: Aurelia Maria Casey
  • Genre: fantasy and science fiction, with occasional hints of romance and thriller
  • Books: Sorcerous & Beastly Season 1 from the Sorcerous & Beastly Series
  • Official Site

Bio

When I’m not hanging out in my fairy court conversing with you, my readers, and occasionally my characters, I am a fashion designer and a biomedical engineer because I love transforming ideas from my imagination to reality. It’s the same thought process as storytelling, really. Just a different medium.

 I write the stories that my imagination won’t let me forget about. These stories fall into many different genres and for many different age groups. (Don’t worry, I keep the forums and podcasts PG-13 and I rate my books the same way Hollywood rates movies, so you’ll always know what to expect). I love exploring story from many perspectives, so I started a book club where we can discover new authors in a breadth of genres.


Accomplishments

Editor of an annual Domestic Violence Awareness short story and poetry anthology, the proceeds of which get donated to support victims and survivors.


 Blurb

A villain Death is afraid of. One girl left to die in the Enchanted Forest, the other ran away and got stuck there. A lord playing prince and a prince who breaks the law. Can they overcome impossible odds and find each other in time to do what Death won’t?

 Hi.

I’m Death, and this is a story about a time I failed.

But honestly, I had almost nothing to do with anything that happened. So it isn’t really my fault.

You see, there’s someone who terrifies me. He’s done some truly horrific things. Basically, he’s the cruelest man alive.

I’m going to start at the prophecy, because until then I was avoiding my job. The prophecy made me hope that someone else would save me from having to be a hero.

Heroism really isn’t my thing. I traverse the world of the living and collect souls who are ready to move on to the afterlife. Nothing heroic about that.

Anyway, after the prophecy I started paying attention to life again, just to keep track of things. It’s taken me a long time to gather all the pieces of this story. It’s about some real strong girls and boys, men and women, who managed to accomplish something I thought was impossible.

I’ll let you judge for yourself whether or not I’m a coward for staying mostly on the sidelines.


 Excerpt

I suppose you might think that I’m only making excuses. You could be right. This story certainly wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been scared. Cowardly, perhaps. But I’m not telling you this story for my benefit. I’m telling you this story because someone needs to remember. Someone needs to hold me accountable for all the lives I’ve ruined.

So. To begin:

Once upon a time, far, far away, there was an enchanted forest. To the east and west of this forest were impassable mountains. To the north and south were two kingdoms which had almost nothing to do with each other. Many generations ago there had been a large road through the enchanted forest which connected these two kingdoms, but when the Wolf Queen usurped control over the enchanted kingdom it became impassable. After years of traders entering the forest on that road and never returning, these two countries grew apart. There remained a small amount of diplomatic contact but the sea-voyage was treacherous and ships were nearly as unreliable as the trade road had become.

The kingdom in the north was called Manassa and it was the most dreary of rainy, foggy, damp countries. The Manassans were primarily interested in fighting the nomadic reindeer-herding barbarians in the far north. Having no good grazing land, the Manassans fought fiercely to survive in their stone fortresses, scraping by with what little wheat could be grown in the stony soil. 

The kingdom in the south, known as Sacor, was vibrant and lush with the perfect balance of seasons. In fact, it was so lovely that the fairies caught in the Enchanted forest were jealous that mere humans could live in such a fairyland. As a collective of dukedoms, ruled over by one duke elected to the Governorship every twenty years, the Sacorans were a peace-loving and cultured society. They had little interest in warring with other countries, and luckily had nothing of value to other countries. The worst spat of violence Sacor had experienced in its history was a great duel between two young noblemen over who would marry the Governor’s daughter, fabled to be the most beautiful woman in all the world. Or so the fairies claimed.
But one day, all the magical creatures everywhere in the world disappeared. They vanished, and no-one could discover where they went or why they left. Fairies and elves became legend and hobgoblins and pixies became stories to frighten children. Sorcerers practiced their arts in secret, and witches were laughed at.

Still, nobody was brave enough to enter the Enchanted Forest.

Until one day a Sacoran father-to-be, desperate for a remedy for his pregnant wife, wandered over the edge of his garden and into the forest. He was chasing after snowdonia hawkweed, which is a real plant although it is extremely rare and difficult to find, because the midwife told him its healing properties would ease the birthing.

Fortunately for him, before he could go far enough to be noticed by the Wolf Queen’s spies, the last mamitu stopped him. She was bony-thin from hunger, her black hair hanging thin and stringy down her back. Despite this, her black ridged horns twisted delicately from her temples crowning her with dignity.

She sent him home, saying his wife would come through her labor safely and his firstborn would become the greatest queen in all the world. Before he could thank her, she loped away, drawing the wolf spies after her. The mamitu had stopped him before he could cross the inner ward and he returned unscathed from the forest’s edge to find all as the mamitu had decreed

-<>-

Almost exactly ten years later, Viola was almost to the stone wall at the very back of the gardens. She could see the ward crystals glittering when the breeze moved the foliage to let the sunlight through. The ward crystals were superstitious nonsense: everyone knew that, but everyone used them anyway, which was a good thing, because they did work only nobody remembered that because the magical creatures had disappeared centuries before. Viola and Robbie, the stable boy, had been sneaking out to play just past the wall, where none of the servants would think to look for her.

A bumble bee buzzed around the blooming roses, and she smiled. Soon she would have the freedom to stop and smell the roses too.

Viola was running away. She thought the stories her nurse told her of the monsters in the forest were scary, but she felt that her upcoming tenth birthday celebration was more terrifying than pixies and wolves and enchantresses. Dresses were inconvenient, hot, and itchy. She hated cakes and icing and fruit punch. But most of all, she hated how everyone would be expecting her to look the part of a future queen and would see her awkward, clumsy, shy, self. Somehow whenever she had to speak to anyone important she started stuttering and couldn’t remember anything she was supposed to know. Of course, this included her parents who consequently thought her to be stupid and lazy. But they couldn’t entirely ignore her because of the Mamitu’s prediction when she was born: that she would grow up to become a queen. Viola had no desire to be a queen. All she wanted was to be left alone. So far as she could tell, queens had to do everything she hated: studying boring books, planning parties, talking to strangers. Math and genealogies. Ugh! She shuddered at the thought and ran the rest of the way to the wall.

She was about to clamber up and over it when she heard a crash-clatter-thump behind her. 


Interview with Aurelia

Angela B. Chrysler: I want to take a moment to welcome Aurelia Maria Casey author of [add however many titles you would like] available on [add link]. Thank you so much for speaking with me, Ms. Casey. Please take a moment to tell us about your book.

 ABC: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

AMC: Well, unlike most of my stories, the story spark for Sorcerous & Beastly was actually a variation of Cinderella and Ella Enchanted that I came up with when I was about twelve. It wasn't the first story spark I had that was worth pursuing, but it's the first one that's finished.

 ABC: Stories always require some form of research. What kind of research did you do for your book?

AMC: I've read a lot. I think most of my research was understanding fairy tale and fantasy novel tropes, so I could pick which elements would work and which were too cliche and boring. There are a few cliche things that I kept on purpose because I wanted readers aware that there may be some fairy tale elements to watch out for. Sorcerous & Beastly definitely isn't pure fantasy. There are hints of mythological influences, most notably the fact that Death is a character: the narrator, in fact.

 ABC: Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?

AMC: The scenes without dialog are always the hardest for me, because I worry that the narrative isn't engaging enough without conversation. However, there are a couple characters who have more of an internal journey than an external one, so that was definitely a challenge.

 ABC: Please describe your favorite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favorite?

AMC: I love the part(s) where Death forgets he's a narrator and takes action within the story itself. Also, I like when he interjects into his own narrative with asides and commentary. That's always fun.

 ABC: Which of your characters, do you relate to the most (or) who is your favorite character and why?

AMC: In Sorcerous & Beastly I definitely relate to Viola most because she is based on my seven-year-old self even though she's ten. But my favorite character ever is Elethiere. She's an elf and I've been working hard on her story since before I had the idea for Sorcerous & Beastly. Elethiere's story is the one that propelled me to become a writer rather than merely someone with an active imagination.

 ABC: I once read that every author is simply a compilation of his/her favorite authors. Which authors have done the most to influence your writing and why?

AMC: I think every author I read has an influence on my writing. Sherwood Smith is my favorite author of all time. However, there are many other authors I love: Ilona Andrews, Patrick Rothfuss, Mercedes Lackey, Anne Bishop, Tolkein, CS Lewis, JK Rowling, Devon Monk, Lisa Shearin, Ashley Capes, Rachael Ritchey, to name a few. I'm working on building a database in my Fairy Court where you can find the books I would recommend from all my favorite authors.

 ABC: “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. We invent it. What does “story” mean to you?

AMC: A story is something that entertains and teaches. Everything important about how people work and interact with each other and how to overcome seemingly impossible challenges I learned from reading fantasy and romance and science fiction and literature. It's way more fun than a psychology class, in my opinion. It's a way to dream collectively, and then we can collectively decide which dreams to transform into reality through innovation in tech, fashion, food, etc.

 ABC: Tells us about your next project.

AMC: Well, I have several projects in the works. The Necromancer of Many Faces is the first novel in the Intrigue series. If you want a peek at that world, you can read my short story Assassin, which takes place in between books 3 and 4. I'm also working on another serial called The Exclusives which is science fiction and I'll be reading that on my podcast Storytime starting in December. You can listen to all of Sorcerous & Beastly one episode at a time starting in September. And of course I'm working on Elethiere's story. Chains of Destruction is a short story that I originaly intended as the proglogue to Elethiere's Story.

ABC: Where can we find you and your book?

AMC: Join my Purple Court! You get access to all sorts of cool stuff including a forum where my characters sometimes drop by to say hi, and notifications and updates whenever I publish something new. I'm also entering everyone who joins in August into a drawing to get an e-book version of the complete first season of Sorcerous & Beastly. Go to http://amcasey.com/join and start reading the stories in your starter library!

ABC: Thank you again, so much for speaking with me.


A word with Death...

Q: Go ahead and introduce yourself. Tell the audience about yourself.

Death: I'm Death. I'm immortal and stuff, and I help souls transition from living to dead.

Q: Tell us where and when were you born.

Death: I guess I was born before the beginning of time. I don't really know. Time isn't the same for me as it is for you mortals.

Q: How would you describe yourself?

Death: I like to think I'm dedicated and hard working. But I know most people think I'm selfish and cruel. It's hard to be popular when your job is to help people pass from Life to the Afterlife. The Living almost never understand.

Q: Tell us about where you grew up.

Death: It was wonderful. The world wasn't overcrowded then, so I could take my time and explore the world of the living and the world of the dead. Now I'm overwhelmed with the vast number of souls I have to collect.

Q: Tell everyone what it is you do when you’re not [verb from previous question].

Death: It's been a really long time since I've been able to take a long enough break from reaping to do this, but I love collecting the stories of the dead. I find it so fascinating how their motivations change between life and death, and it's comforting for some of them when they first cross over to know that someone remembers what they were and cares.

Q: Are you serious with anyone?

Death: No. Unlike your Hades, I don't have a Persephone yet. Maybe I'll find someone, but for now I am alone.

 Q: Tell us about your worst fear.

Death: He's the cruelest man alive. I refuse to allow him into the afterlife because he'll continue to cause problems for the dead if I do. That's all I want to say.


http://amcasey.com/join Go to my site and join the purple court for a chance to win the complete Sorcerous & Beastly Season 1, open during August only. Winners will be congratulated on Storytime at the end of Sorceorus & Beastly Episode 1 and emailed.



Buy the Books!

 For the month of august, anyone who joins the Purple Court (http://amcasey.com/join) will be entered to win an ebook copy of Sorcerous & Beastly the Complete First Season. Whether or not you win you'll get access to the starter library, world building documents, forum, and more as soon as you join.

See the Brain to Books Blog Tour Giveaways with Lu!

A Brain to Books Production

 

Chrissy Moon

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts

  • Author: Chrissy Moon
  • Genre: Paranormal romance, women’s fiction, YA paranormal romance, horror, poetry
  • Books: Surreal Enemies: Angel City of the God Generation
  • Official Site

Bio

Chrissy Moon is the youngest of four girls, born in Orange County, California and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Her parents and sisters came to America from the Philippines in 1970, seven years before her birth.

As a teen, Chrissy wanted to work for the United Nations in New York and work as a translator. Her plan was thwarted when she got married and had a baby.

She continued her attempts to learn the basics to many languages. However, as her baby got older, and especially after her divorce, her days were spent working full-time at various office jobs. Languages have been put on the backburner, most of the basics forgotten.

Now that the baby is a high school graduate and an adult, Chrissy is able to devote more time to her writing.


Accomplishments

The cause Chrissy is most concerned with is domestic violence – its prevention, and the healing of its victims.

Her next goal is to learn about local safe houses for abused women and children.


Blurb

Someone’s been killing Slates and freeing the Melted from their ice prisons in the Heaven embassy.

The God Generation consists of supernatural entities – angels (the Worthy), demons (the Melted), and archaic gods & goddesses (the Slates), born into human flesh and living among the rest of us.

Morgan Constantina is an abuse survivor and a recovering ecstasy addict. She’s been working hard to learn how to be tough and never be anyone’s victim again.

Her new life with her loving, supportive, semi-famous boyfriend – who happens to be her former Living Guardian Angel – grows to include an addition to the family, moving to Los Angeles, meeting his gigantic family, and reluctantly co-starring in their new restaurant-based reality TV show.

Morgan learns there are Worthy authorities who keep a judgmental eye on mundane humans. One of them is quite helpful, but another has a personal agenda that could cause trouble for her.

And as she’s meeting new people, she’s also gaining some enemies.

High on the list of foes is an old family friend who’s made threats to kill her, her own mother who thinks she’s immoral and soulless, and her boyfriend’s former flame – a woman Morgan’s already met!

Surreal Enemies: Angel City is a story about the war of good and evil inside all of us, and the powerful, unforgettable force of parental love.


Excerpt

He stood in front of me, his posture a bit more relaxed than it had been for the last hour or so. Seeing the old Ree in his eyes made me want to take him in my arms and kiss him over and over, but I sensed that something still wasn’t right, so I remained still and simply listened to what he had to say. “I swear I didn’t know I have been deviating from my usual behavior. Baby, this is just me talking, this person standing before you. I am neither demon nor angel, boyfriend nor friend—I’m just this spirit who is in love with this spirit right here.” He pointed to my heart without touching it.

He kneeled in front of me then, not like a marriage proposal-type of kneel, but more like his legs gave way and he collapsed. His arms clamped around my waist so hard, at first I thought he was attacking me. But then he leaned his head on my middle and sobbed. I mean, he really cried harder than I have ever witnessed before.

“Ree, you’re acting like someone died! Please help me understand!”

Instead of the scoff that I expected, he turned to face me slowly, his eyes watering as they regarded me with a sad, faraway look.

“I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you everything…” he said, still weeping. I was immediately frightened. I had to admit this was not the way I thought this conversation would go at all. I thought he might be angry back or that he would make a sad face and tell me I was right, and proceed to reveal whatever stupid secret he had. But this…this was different. I knew then that I was about to hear something that would change me, change us, change everything.

“Oh my god,” I whispered. “Someone did die, didn’t they?” I raised my voice to a normal level. “Who was it, Ree?”

Not meeting my eyes, he continued. “Connie. And then you, less than a week later.”


Interview with Chrissy Moon

ABC: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

CM: Well, I wanted to illustrate a story about a woman overcoming domestic violence and drug addiction. She’s already overcome some really turbulent things, but now she needs to find a sort of happy medium, so she can be stable and happy without shutting out her loved ones. It’ll take her a while, because as much as she’s learned, she’s still got a long way to go.

This book is written as a standalone, but it’s technically the sequel to my debut novel from a couple years ago, Surreal Ecstasy. I had a whole mythology already set, so my challenge was to create a new story that also fits into the first book, but that can act as an entire story in and of itself. Because of this, it took me longer to write this book.

I wanted Surreal Enemies to have more action. I wanted us to delve some more into the God Generation world. I wanted my main character’s relationship with her boyfriend to kind of reach the next level. I wanted to reveal a little more about the love life of a gay supporting character, Dess. But I also wanted to introduce some new situations to the characters as they get stronger and smarter.
ABC: Stories always require some form of research. What kind of research did you do for your book?

CM: Let’s see. The locations didn’t require any research because the main characters move to the area I grew up in. I did have to ask some family members a little about how the entertainment industry works and about reality shows, because Morgan, our protagonist, ends up on one. I also asked my brother-in-law about the angel hierarchy, because he’s an expert on the subject and even teaches at church voluntarily.

Oh, I lied about the locations. I just remembered. I had to look up the Omni hotel in San Francisco and check out their room service menu and hotel suites because Dess stays there in her own narrated chapter.

ABC: Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?
CM: Hmm. I’ll try to explain this without us having to put up a spoiler alert sign. There’s a part where Morgan and her boyfriend begin to grow distant. When she finds out why, there’s an explanation and many related scenes that follow. I kept having to change small details, right up until the last minute. I also kept giving my publisher updated manuscripts when I’d already sworn numerous times that it was absolutely the final version. That whole thing about why Morgan and her boyfriend Ree had grown distant is a very delicate subject, and I had to run over it with a fine-tooth comb, because the slightest mistake would have killed the entire scene and aftermath.

ABC: Please describe your favorite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favorite.
CM: I find myself flipping a lot to the chapter where Morgan meets Snaps, the director of her boyfriend’s family’s Food TV reality show. His personality reminds me a lot of some people I know, and I find it entertaining when he says off-the-wall things. What’s even more entertaining are Morgan’s narrated reaction thoughts.

ABC: Which of your characters do you relate to the most and why?
CM: Morgan is my first published fictional creation, and because of this, her life is very personal to me. I have also had issues with possessing or relinquishing control in relationships, dealing with people who assume the worst about me, feeling misunderstood, and having that ‘me against the world’ mentality. I have also had to learn the hard way that a romantic relationship shouldn’t be the sole purpose in life, that a person should build up their core first and then find love out of want, not need.

ABC: I once read that every author is simply a compilation of his or her favorite authors. Which authors have done the most to influence your writing and why?
CM: Richelle Mead is my biggest modern influence. By the time I started writing my first novel, I had already read everything she’d written. Her books are smart, sexy, exciting, and emotional, and that’s always what I wanted to depict in my own work.

Older influences include Pearl Buck. The way she wrote The Good Earth is incredible. The narration is very simplified and nonthreatening, yet at the same time the main character experiences such a vast array of emotions and obstacles. That’s something I strive to accomplish in my work – saying what I need to say without doing a descriptive overkill. I try to make my readers feel comfortable and like they can read my stories without getting confused or having to memorize a bunch of complicated stuff.

ABC: “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. We invent it. What does “story” mean to you?
CM: Good question! The way I see it, “story” comes from our spirits. It’s a part of ourselves that we mix with art and then display for others to view, appreciate, and think about. It’s intensely personal and inspires people to feel all kinds of emotions and think terrible and wonderful thoughts. “Story” is a primary example of what’s insightful and extraordinary about the human race.

ABC: Tells us about your next project.
CM: Just as Surreal Enemies is a sequel, I have another sequel I’m finishing up. This one will be the sequel to my YA paranormal romance, DayDreamer. It’s for a younger audience and is clean and sweet in terms of heat level. I had originally created Kayla, the main character of DayDreamer, to balance out my brain, because writing Surreal was too intense. DayDreamer was written in a much more light-hearted manner.

With this second installment though, Kayla’s world is going to be a little more well-rounded. She’s going to face some issues and paranormal situations that’ll challenge her abilities and morals. I have a lot planned for her, and I hope readers will enjoy watching her mature.


Alan Black

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts

  • Author: Alan Black
  • Genre: A little bit of everything
  • Books:
    • Chasing Harpo (action/humor)
    • Metal Boxes (science fiction - military, space opera)
    • The Friendship Stones (Christian, historical, young adult - book one in An Ozark Mountain Series - 1920)
    • Steel Walls and Dirt Drops - (science fiction - military)
    • The Granite Heart (Christian, historical, young adult - book two in An Ozark Mountain Series - 1920)
    • Chewing Rocks (science fiction - space opera)
    • The Heaviest Rock (Christian, historical, young adult - book three in An Ozark Mountain Series - 1920)
    • A Cold Winter (western novelette)
    • Titanium Texicans (science fiction - young adult space opera)
    • Empty Space (science fiction - military)
    • How To Start, Write, and Finish Your First Novel (non-fiction)
    • The Inconvenient Pebble (Christian, historical, young adult - book four in An Ozark Mountain Series - 1925)
    • Metal Boxes - Trapped Outside (science fiction - military, space opera)
  • Official Site

Bio

I started writing sometime in the second grade, well over fifty years ago….I think. Gaak! Who remembers that far back? I started my first novel in 1996. His writing tastes are as eclectic as his reading preferences.

I was born in central Kansas, grew up in Gladstone, Missouri and graduated from Oak Park Senior High School, eventually earning a liberal arts degree from Longview Community college. I did spent most of my adult life in the Kansas City area. The U.S. Air Force stationed me Texas, California, Maryland, and Japan. I got married in the late 70s and I’m still married to the same woman. We now live in sunny Arizona.

I am an indie multi-genre writer who has never met a good story he didn't want to tell. My vision statement: "I want my readers amazed they missed sleep because they could not put down one of my books. I want my readers amazed I made them laugh on one page and cry on the next. I want to give my readers a pleasurable respite from the cares of the world for a few hours. I want to offer stories I would want to read."


Accomplishments

Black's scifi book Metal Boxes hit #1 on Amazon.


Blurb

Without warning, Stone found himself flying across the room, smacking face first into the opposite wall. The top side of the heavy conference table slammed into his back, sandwiching him so hard he imagined he looked like mayonnaise oozing out between two pieces of bread, but it didn’t hurt. There was no noise or bright flash of an explosion. He didn’t even hear the table as gravity dragged it back to the floor, nor did he feel the slightest pain as the sandwich fell apart and he crashed down beside the table.

Stone rolled to his hands and knees. Rough hands grabbed him. Someone grabbed a fistful of hair and yanked his face upward. Numos pulled, brutally twisting his arms and legs. Stone wanted to object. He didn’t feel a thing and, although he could see Numos screaming at him, he couldn’t hear a thing.


Interview with Alan Black

Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing? What is one thing that would surprise us?) I started writing early, but I didn’t finish my first full length novel (100,000 words) until the late 1990s. Generally, when I’m not writing, I’m editing, publishing and marketing my books. This is my full time job and I put in about 60 to 80 hours a week at it.

Is this your first book? Metal Boxes - Trapped Outside is not my first book published. I’m writing my twentieth book, but I’ve only published thirteen of them so far. How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable.

Chasing Harpo (action/humor)

Metal Boxes (science fiction - military, space opera)

The Friendship Stones (Christian, historical, young adult - book one in An Ozark Mountain Series - 1920)

Steel Walls and Dirt Drops - (science fiction - military)

The Granite Heart (Christian, historical, young adult - book two in An Ozark Mountain Series - 1920)

Chewing Rocks (science fiction - space opera)

The Heaviest Rock (Christian, historical, young adult - book three in An Ozark Mountain Series - 1920)

A Cold Winter (western novelette)

Titanium Texicans (science fiction - young adult space opera)

Empty Space (science fiction - military)

How To Start, Write, and Finish Your First Novel (non-fiction)

The Inconvenient Pebble (Christian, historical, young adult - book four in An Ozark Mountain Series - 1925)

Metal Boxes - Trapped Outside (science fiction - military, space opera)

What genre is it and what is it about? Metal Boxes - Trapped Outside is a military/space opera science fiction novel. It’s the sequel to Metal Boxes and is about the continuing adventures of Blackmon Perry Stone, a young man in service to the empire. Against his personal preferences (he is agoraphobic - that means he is afraid of being outside, not being afraid of sweaters made from goat hair), his new assignment is to lead a team doing planet pacification of a newly discovered world. Not only is it all outside, but they find a warring alien race.

What inspired you to write this book?

The feedback from the first book drove me to write the sequel.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

The original book Metal Boxes was titled that because the protagonist grew up in Metal Boxes (space stations and spaceships). He never ventured outside under open skies until he was in his teens. Hence, he is agoraphobic. The second title plays against the first. He is still agoraphobic, but now he is trapped outside.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

The artwork for this new book was done by Bill Wright. You can see his artwork at https://www.flickr.com/photos/billwrigt1/

The cover layout was done by the excellent people at The Cover Collection at http://www.thecovercollection.com/

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

I haven’t actually cast the actors in this book. Some I have, but in this story, I prefer the reader build their own mental image.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write? Robert Heinlein and Louis L’Amour were my two favorite authors growing up. Some people are surprised that they wrote in such disparate genres. I disagree. The only difference between scifi and westerns is location. They are still morality stories with good vs evil.

What does your writing process look like?

I actually go into my process in depth in my book How To Start, Write, and Finish Your First Novel. I pick a character that I like and throw all the nasty crap at them I can think of. By the time they get all of their problems resolved, the book is done. I don’t edit, I don’t proofread, check spelling, format or even worry about the color of the hero’s girlfriend’s hair. My rough draft is all about story and action. Then I go back and rewrite all the other stuff and start fixing my mistakes. Rule #2 in writing is that you can’t fix what ain’t been writ.

Are you a plotter or a pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)?

I am a pantser. I have a rough idea where the story might end up, but when I am in the middle of writing, I couldn’t tell you what is going to happen in the next paragraph until I’ve written it.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why? How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

My favorite character to write is Harpo Marks from Chasing Harpo. He is an orangutan. Part of the book is written from his point of view. I had a lot of fun with it because I struggled not to anthropomorphize him into a semi-human. He has a sense of realism to his ape-ness, but he has grown used to humans and adopted some small characteristics. My least favorite characters are easy to spot because I kill them off. Not everyone who dies in my books is someone real, but some are. Not everyone who dies in my books is someone who I don’t like, but some are. For example I kill off a character in Metal Boxes - Trapped Outside who was modeled after a good friend of mine. She complained, but that is the way the story goes.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years, I will still be writing and publishing. I don’t know where the publishing business will be, but I will be here. My list of published books will be longer as I have a goal to write four books a year.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do read my reviews, but I never ever ever respond to them. I will answer direct questions on my website or Amazon Author Page, or Goodreads, or Facebook, or Twitter, but not a review. My best advice to bad reviews is to read them carefully. Search them diligently for clues to improve your writing. Develop a thick skin and learn that reproof will only make you better. If there isn’t anything to learn from a review, good or bad, then give a little shrug, have another glass of wine, and mentally put it aside.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

The best marketing is word of mouth. Tell someone about the book. Oh, don’t lend them the book, but write a review, tell a friend, mention it to a co-worker at lunch.

What is your best marketing tip?

I put marketing tips on my website. So far I have collected 49 different things for author to try. There is a tab for Marketing Tips on the home page.

What are you working on now?

Strangely, I am not writing scifi. I alternate scifi with something else. I am writing a Christmas Romance novel.

What do you wear while writing?

I write in gym shorts and a t-shirt. Not that I go to the gym, their just comfy.

What literary character is most like you?

There aren’t any literary characters like me. Oh, you read about guys like me in books, but we don’t get names. We’re just the tertiary character whose body is found in a dumpster by the protagonist or the guy who’s too fat to run away from the Zombies and dies in chapter two.

If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

The ability to convince people I’m right…whether I am or not.

What is your favorite movie?

I like the movie “Silverado”. It is a fast paced western with a superb cast. It is fun without taking itself too seriously.

What makes you cry?

One of the rules of writing these days is that you can’t kill a dog or a horse. It is deadly to readers. That always makes me cry. I’ve done it, but I hated it much worse than killing people.



Judith Quate

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: Judith Quate
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Book: Our Special Child:  Jason's Story
  • Official Site

Bio

I am a woman, wife, mother, grandmother, sister and a good friend.  This is what defines me.  What I present to you on this website is a mixed media artist who creates inspirational art and fiber creations.  What most inspired me to launch my business is the valuable lessons I learned for twenty-eight years raising a son with cerebral palsy.  I was his nurse, social worker, advocate, therapist and most importantly, a loving mother.  My book, Our Special Child:  Jason's Story, will soon be available and you can purchase it here on this website.

I create mixed media paintings and designs because I want to share the valuable lessons I learned caring for my son. He inspired me every day and it is now my turn to pay if forward.

I lived in Philadelphia for most of my life.  Nine years ago my husband and I moved ten miles north of Philly to Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  I loved the city but it was time to live in a more peaceful surroundings in my retirement years.

I started creating my business four years ago after I retired from my federal government position.  I worked over 40 years of my life, 22 years with the federal government.

I am sole owner of my business and designer.  I love working alone, making my own decision and working the hours I choose to work.  I share my time babysitting my two grandchildren and working out at the gym.  Life is good and I am making the most of it.

Buy now on Amazon


C.L. Schneider

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: C.L. Schneider
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Books:
    • The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price
    • The Crown of Stones: Magic-Scars
  • Official Site

Bio

Born in a small Kansas town on the Missouri river, I grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. When I was sixteen I wrote my first, full-length novel on a typewriter in my parent's living room. My main focus is adult epic fantasy, but I also write urban fantasy, and the occasional science fiction or post-apocalyptic story.

I am proud to be a self-published author and a member of the #indiebooksbeseen community. My goal as a writer is to stir emotion and make the reader feel, whether it be good or bad. I believe in writing fearless, and that telling a story as it is meant to be told, is far more important than word count.

The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price is my first published novel. The second book in the trilogy, Magic-Scars, was released earlier this year.


Magic Price

Blurb

Ian Troy is one of the Shinree, a fallen people with an inherent addiction to magic. Scorned and reviled for the deadly side of their spells, the Shinree are bred as slaves. Their magic is suppressed by drugs and used only as it serves the purposes of the other races.

Descended from a long line of soldiers, Ian is conscripted into the Rellan army and made to fight in their longstanding conflict against the ruthless Langorian invaders. The downfall of Rella imminent, Ian goes against orders and turns to the Crown of Stones, an ancient Shinree relic of untold power. Ignorant of its true purpose, Ian uses the crown to end the war, and pays a terrible price.

A decade later, still tortured by the aftermath of that day, Ian lives as a bounty hunter in self-imposed exile. Having renounced his magical heritage, he curbs his obsession with a steady stream of wine and regret. He struggles to put it all behind him, until a fateful encounter with a pretty assassin brings Ian’s past crashing into the present. Targeted by a rogue Shinree, and a ruthless old enemy, Ian is forced to use magic again. His deadly addiction is rekindled and his life of isolation is brought to a swift end.

With the land he gave up everything to protect once more in jeopardy, and his people’s future at stake, Ian becomes embroiled in a violent race for control of the Crown of Stones. To save the realms and those he cares for, Ian must embrace the thing he fears most: his own power.

Magic-Price is the first installment in The Crown of Stones trilogy.


Excerpt

Prologue

Bodies pressed in on me on all sides. More were piled up beneath my feet. The grass, gorged with assorted fluids and trampled remains, squished under my boots as I carved open my opponent’s chest, pushed him aside, and moved onto the next.

There was always a next. The Langorians were a swarm…an inexhaustible, savage, mindless swarm. And we had no choice but to become like them to survive. To become animals, going at each other, mechanically pushing against the tide, battering whatever stood in our way with whatever we had; clubs, axes, swords, knives—our bruised, bleeding bare hands. Fighting for days, months, years, striving to hold out against an enemy that knew nothing of mercy, an enemy stronger, and far more brutal than us, we’d become something less than we were.

And we were still losing.

I grabbed the Queen’s arm and steered her out of the fray. “We can’t take much more of this.” Needing to be heard, I drew her closer. “We should pull back.”

“Pull back?” Queen Aylagar Arcana yanked herself free. She gave me a wild, defiant look. Full of passion and reckless resolve, it made her exotic features come alive. “My order stands. We press on, Troy. As always.”

I shook my head. “Our numbers are dwindling too fast. We can’t win this.”

“We can and we will.” Aylagar raised a hand. She touched my face and the sound of metal clashing and men screaming seemed to fade away. Brushing back the blood-splattered white strands that had come loose from my braid, she ran a finger down the strong line of my jaw. “Trust me, Love. The Langorians will not have Rella.”

“How can you still believe that?”

“Because I must. Because I have faith.”

“Ayla…” I stopped myself. Then I started again. “I saw the messenger arrive from Kabri. I know he carried orders from the King. You can’t keep ignoring them.”

“I can. And I will.” She dropped her hand and backed up. “My husband is a fool. I don’t care how many messengers he dispatches from his throne, he is not out here. The blood of these men bathes my skin, not his. This is my war, Troy. Mine!” she cried. “We fight. We die. We go on until we prevail—by my command. I will not surrender. That is the way of it. That is the only way.”

My throat went dry at the fire in her. The way she stood, outlined by the backdrop of chaos, flanked by the crackling flames that consumed our camp, with sweat beading on her dark skin and battle-lust glazing her stare, I wanted to pull her into my arms. I wanted to go back to this morning, on the furs of her tent, when Aylagar’s flawless, ebony skin was on me. Where status and race didn’t matter and death felt far away. Mostly, I wanted to believe her, as I had so many times, that every battle brought us closer to victory. That persistence was our greatest strength and it would carry us through.

But this was it. King Draken of Langor was throwing everything he had at us, making one final push to wipe us all out. To once and for all, lay claim to the land his forefathers had sought, and failed, to conquer. Surrendering was unacceptable; she was right in that. Yet, Aylagar had lost her way. Somewhere along the line, the outcome had stopped mattering to her as much as the fight, and my affection, my awe of her, had blinded me for far too long.


Magic Scars

Blurb

Magic doesn’t wound the same as a sword.

The story of Ian Troy continues in Magic-Scars, the second installment in C. L. Schneider’s riveting epic fantasy trilogy, The Crown of Stones.

Captured by his old enemy, King Draken of Langor, Shinree magic user Ian Troy was sentenced to prison. Tortured and drugged, robbed of his will, his memories, and his magic, Ian was made to do unspeakable things. Rescued, as his body slowly rids itself of the drug, Ian realizes he has returned to an unfamiliar world gripped with fear. In the wake of his fall, those he cared for were left to their own grim fates. Draken has seized control of the realms and named himself High King. His brutal rein has sparked a desperate rebellion that Ian now finds himself a part of. His one task: recover and repair the Crown of Stones, in hopes it will tip the balance in the revolution that is brewing. In pursuit of the reason behind the artifact’s strange loss of magic, Ian is driven to release an explosion of retribution and power that leaves him irrevocably scarred.

Struggling to reconcile the man he has become with the man he once was, Ian strives to understand the growing number of magic-scars adorning his body. He searches for the truth behind his link to the Crown of Stones and uncovers shocking secrets buried for generations beneath the sand. To become the weapon the resistance needs, he must assume responsibility for his magical inheritance. But can he curb the destructive appetite that comes with it?

The price of Ian’s magic and his addiction have never been higher.


Excerpt Book 2 (Magic-Scars)

I eyed the door. Instinct told me to hold off. I tried to listen. I crouched among a group of snow covered barrels and waited to see if a sentry was on watch.

It took less than a minute to know waiting wasn’t on my list of favorite things. I was pretty confident I didn’t like eerie silences either, as the longer the quiet stretched, the more it unnerved me. Swiftly, uneasiness became panic, then dread.

With each scrape of the swinging lantern and flap of the sail, the calm ate at me.

It ate until I was hollow. Until that same nagging notion (the one I had just started to ignore) crept back. It was a noiseless, internal clamor. An urge that gouged into what was left of me, chiseling pieces off, scooping them out even as it reminded me that I’d lost the very thing that once filled the hole.

Something was missing.

It’s more than that, I realized. It’s someone.

He was out there, past the night and the snow. He was in trouble. He was suffering and it was my fault. Or was it? I had no memories to match my guilt. No face or name to prompt such urgency. All I had was intuition ringing like a claxon in my head telling me to go, to find him.


Interview with C.L. Schneider

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

How did I get started writing? You can blame books on that one. I was a huge reader and an early reader. But, honestly, it feels like I have always been writing. I can remember being very young and rewriting the scripts for my favorite TV shows because I didn’t like how the story was evolving or what the writers were doing with the characters. Sometime I would write commercials or fake news reports and make my poor family sit down and pretend to be my audience. I wrote poems and started more short stories than I can count. It was rare when I read a book I couldn’t finish, but at sixteen, I had a streak where I picked up and put down several book in a row that weren’t cutting it. I thought I could write a book at least that good, so that’s what I did. I spent the rest of that summer on the draft of my first full length novel; a post-apocalyptic monstrosity entitled A Twist of Fate. Looking back now, I’m fairly certain it was no better than those books I couldn’t finish. But, was the start of something. Twist of Fate set me on my path, and one of these days I’m going to pull that monster out of the box in my closet and give it the shine it deserves.

What do I do when I’m not writing?

That’s an easy one. I’m always writing! If it isn’t on my laptop, or on paper, it’s in my head. Occasionally, it’s on a napkin in a restaurant. The rest of my day is spent letting the dog and cat in and out, and ignoring the laundry.

What is the one thing that would surprise us?

I’m not sure if it’s surprising, but it’s something not many people know.

There was a time in high school when I seriously considered a career in special effects make-up. Since I was a young child I’ve been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes in a theatrical production. As part of the drama club in school, I worked on the stage crew, building the scenery, creating props, putting together the costumes. I even choreographed a musical once. But what truly fascinated me were the creatures and characters created for fantasy, sci-fi, and horror movies. I wanted badly to be a part of that world and to create my own fantastical creatures. For several years I read everything I could find on the subject. I looked into schools and even narrowed down my choices. But, life had other plans for me. Now, I create my creatures with words—and binge watch Face-Off every chance I get.

Is this your first book?

I have a closet full of unpublished works (some completed, some not), but The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price was my first published novel. The second book in the trilogy, Magic-Scars released earlier this year.  

What genre is it and what is it about?

The Crown of Stones trilogy is adult, epic fantasy. It follows the trial of Ian Troy, a man born with a crippling addiction to magic. As Ian struggles with his addiction, he faces enemies, old and new, in an attempt to unravel the secrets of The Crown of Stones and unite the realms.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Crown of Stones trilogy was mostly inspired by the character of Ian Troy. I believe the most interesting characters are flawed. The more flawed, the more real they feel to me. Super Heroes are great. Yet, I’m more interested in what’s behind the mask. How much muck were they dragged through before they became super? When I created Ian I did a very lengthy profile. I wanted my story to revolve around magic, so I made magic (what should be his greatest strength) his greatest flaw. I added in a few traits inspired by some of my favorite books from childhood, and the story evolved from there.

How did you come up with the title?

I had this gorgeous piece of amethyst sitting on my bookshelf for years. I always wanted to work it into a story. So when I created the character of Ian and his magic, the original title of the book was The Amethyst Crown. But as my magic system evolved, so did the crown and the title.

Tell us a little bit about the cover art?

The covers for both Crown of Stones books were done by Alan Dingman. Alan is a personal friend of mine as well as an incredibly talented local artist. When I decided to self-publish I looked first at the covers CreateSpace was offering. They were all well done, but none of them could live up to the image in my head. The cover of Magic Price has been bouncing around in there for a long time. I couldn’t compromise. Working at Simon & Schuster as well as having his own portrait business; I knew Alan was a busy man. I approached him about taking on the work as a side job and, thankfully, he jumped at the chance. The way he can pull an image out of my head, and enhance it with his own flair, amazes me.

I believe if a cover I done right, an author can convey so much to potential readers. With both Magic-Price and Magic-Scar, I wanted to convey the tone of the book as well as provide a glimpse into a pivotal moment in the main character’s life. I’m very picky. Every detail has to be just right. Alan is very patient. Though I wouldn’t doubt he’s sick of me by the time the project is done!

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

People ask me that all the time, and I find it such a hard question. The characters are all so unique to me. I find it hard to squeeze them into the mold of someone else’s body and features. It is fun, though to see my characters through other people’s imagination. Some readers have come up with great suggestion for actors to play in a Crown of Stones movie. Have a look: The Imagine Film List | Magic-Price (The Crown of Stones Series)

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Different writers have inspired me at different times in my life. Some whose titles I have devoured over the years (in no particular order) are: H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Margaret Mitchell, Emily Bronte, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Jennifer Roberson, C. J. Cherryh, Stephen King, Andre Norton, Ray Bradbury, Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, and Mary Shelley.

What does your writing process look like?

Almost every book I’ve ever written has started on paper. I love a blank page. But a blank screen…not so much. My drafts are a messy vomiting of ideas, half of which don’t make it between the lines. I call it my skeleton. The story is usually coming to me fast and furious at this point so it’ also easier to carry around a notebook rather than the laptop. When I have enough down to start really working with, I head to my laptop and put the meat on the bones. I usually go back and forth a couple of times from notebook to computer. I don’t write linear at this stage. I write whatever scenes I see most clearly in my head. Later, I marry them together on the computer. Once the draft is done I start revising. After the first revision I start sending some to my beta readers. The second and third revisions are my favorite. By this time the story has really come together, and I can start adding in all the nuances and massaging sentences and paragraphs, making sure they have the proper rhythm and flow. By the time I start obsessing over a fourth revision, is when my editor steps in and pries it from my hands.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do read my reviews, every single one of them. I know some authors who have sworn off reading their reviews, but in the beginning I don’t think most can probably help it. At least I couldn’t. I distinctly remember the shock at my first five star and the tears at my first one star. I thought I was prepared for the praise a much as the candor, but it takes some getting used to. Your blood is on those pages. It’s never easy to hear someone bash not only their content, but you as a writer. But, it gets easier. You learn what is really constructive and what to ignore, and if you’re lucky, the good outweigh the bad.

I read a quote once by Tibor Kalman: “When you make something no one hates, no one loves it.” Those words helped me immensely when it comes to dealing with reviews. I still say them to myself from time to time. They remind of the diversity of human taste and how you really can’t please everyone. All you can do is be true to the story that’s in you, and tell it. That being said, if enough reviews highlight the same issues or potential problems with your work, it might be time to take a look at it.

As far as responding to reviews, I may thank the reviewer on social media for reading, or for their kind comments. I think that’s only polite. But, in my opinion, engaging someone who wrote a bad review is never a good idea. People are entitled to their own views, no matter how you might not agree with them. Not to mention, there is too much emotion wrapped up in your work. You’re for more likely to answer with your heart than your head and make things worse. Read them and move on. Resistance is not futile!

What is your favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?

My favorite costume is when I went to a party a couple of years ago dressed as a female version of Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. I had the crossbow, the ear necklace, the red handkerchief, the knife. I even attached the angel wings to my vest. It was as much fun to put together as it was to wear.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on Magic-Borne, the final book in The Crown of Stones trilogy. It’s heading off to my editor in September so I’m scrambling to be sure it’s exactly how I want it first. I’m finding it very bittersweet. These characters have been a part of my life for so long. There is so much to wrap up and touch on, I want to make sure Ian and his friends get the proper send off.

I recently started work on my next book, which centers on the story of a half dragon woman who flees her world to seek sanctuary in ours. I have two hundred pages of a draft done. I wrote it about a year ago, but my idea has expanded quite a bit since then. I reworked the plot just last week, so I’m unsure yet how much of the draft I’m going to keep.

I’m also in the beginning stages of co-writing the first book in a Viking-themed epic fantasy trilogy with fellow author Jeremy Swiger. We have some draft finished, the first book plotted out and a loose plot for books two and three. So I have a lot to keep me busy.

What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I think this one is pretty obvious. Fantasy, of course! I love fantasy in all its forms and offshoots. To me, fantasy is endless possibility. I’m not sure a writer can’t ask for much more than that.

 What do you wear while writing?

Since I squeeze it in during every free moment I have, especially in the summer when the kids are home, I write with whatever I have on. But what do I prefer to write in? My PJs. Or my yoga pants. For marathon writing sessions I want anything comfortable, where I’m free to pile in the chocolate and not feel the pounds creeping on.

Do you have a pet or pets?

Yes, we have pets. Unfortunately, our Beta fish, Happy and Bro, died recently. But, we still have Skittles the cat, who spends her days trying to figure out how to sleep on my laptop while I’m writing, and her nights plotting on how best to off the dog. As you can see below, she also does a bit of zombie modeling for her immature owners.

Woodstock, (otherwise known as Woody, Woodrow, or Drop It) is our 70+ pound, 1 ½ year old lap dog. Despite repeated attempts on his life, he still believes Skittles is his best friend.

What is your favorite snack food?

Is coffee a snack food? If not, I would have to say chocolate covered pretzels (chocolate covered anything, really) or chips and salsa. Do not leave a bowl of either in front of me. It will likely be empty by the time you come back.

Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?

I would love to meet Amelia Earhart. She was the first woman aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic. We were born in the same small Kansas town, and I’ve always found her quotes inspiriting. Amelia Earhart was bold and gutsy, and didn’t listen to the naysayers. She believed in herself. I admire her fearlessness.


Connect with Schneider


Ashley Capes

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: Ashley Capes
  • Genre: Poetry 
  • Books: Old Stone Between Giants

Buy on Amazon


Bio

Ashley is a poet, novelist and teacher living in Australia.

He’s the author of six poetry collections and three novels and was poetry editor for Page Seventeen from issues 8-10. He also moderates online renku group Issa’s Snail.

He teaches English, Media Studies and Music Production, has played in a metal band, worked in an art gallery and slaved away at music retail. Aside from reading and writing, Ashley loves volleyball and Studio Ghibli – and Magnum PI, easily one of the greatest television shows ever made.


Poem

archaeological moment

 

a penny has come thousands of miles

to hibernate in the dirt

 

it’s not worth much

but neither is it worth nothing

 

once we clean it in a glass of coke

and the royal head has a nose again

 

we take it inside, though the first one

to tire of it reaches for the Sega

 

later on I don’t know which one of us

will take it to the front shed

 

where the Nissan lords it over dead flies

that gather in the window sill,

 

and hide the penny behind a landscape

mum and dad haven’t unpacked

 

years later when moving house

and neither one goes back for it

 

the penny can close its tiny eyes

to wait for a more archaeological moment.

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Timothy Bateson

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: Timothy Bateson
  • Genre: Science Fiction & Urban Fantasy short stories
  • Books: Across the Karman Line
  • Official Site

Bio

Timothy is a displaced Englishman, currently living in Alaska. Since moving to Alaska in 2005 he has participated in a succession of NaNoWriMo events, honing his writing skills. He has also been working on a number of writing projects with his wife, Sandi, a fellow creative soul. 
From there projects has sprung an alternative Seattle, populated by mortals, with a vibrant supernatural community. Between them, the creative couple write short stories and novels, based in this wonderful setting, sharing locations, characters, and a common overarching plot. More recently he has started branching out into science-fiction, and has found this just as much fun to write in between plotting his novel, and filling out the background of his Seattle. 


Accomplishments

Timothy has participated in several NaNoWriMo events over the last few years, and only failed to complete the 50,000 word goal twice in that time. 

As an avid amateur  falconer, Timothy has had the honor of handling and flying almost every class of raptor, from the little owl, all the way up to the Martial Eagle. 
Sold out his first book signing event, at Fireside Books, when "Moon Shadows" released in October 2014. 

Is active in  a number of online writing and reading communities on Goodreads and Google+, and recently guest hosted a number of book reviews and author bios as part of the Author Cyber Convention 2015 (arranged through Goodreads).

Has had the pleasure of working very closely with Fireside Books, his local independent bookstore, on two book signings, and a handful of other author/reader events.


Blurb

In space, fate rests in the hands who created the craft. Wits and creative risk separate life from death while navigating the three-dimensional sea or marooned on an alien planet. The trust between captain and crew unifies a mission. And sometimes, the final take-off is the hardest.


Jeanne Lyet Gassman

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts

  • Author: Jeanne Lyet Gassman
  • Genre: Christian historical fiction; literary fiction and creative nonfiction
  • Books: Blood of a Stone (Tuscany Press)
  • Official Site

Bio

Award-winning author JEANNE LYET GASSMAN lives in Arizona where the desert landscape inspires much of her fiction. She holds an MFA in Writ­ing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has received fellow­ships from Ragdale and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Her debut historical novel, BLOOD OF A STONE (Tuscany Press) received a Bronze 2015 Independent Publishers Book Award in the national category of religious fiction. Her work has appeared in Hippocampus MagazineHermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Red Savina Review, The Museum of Americana, Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters, Switchback, Literary Mama, and Barrelhouse,among many others. In addition to writing, Jeanne also teaches creative writing workshops for libraries and community groups.


Accomplishments

  • Independent Publisher Book Award (Bronze) for BLOOD OF A STONE in the national category of religious fiction
  • Finalist for 2015 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards for BLOOD OF A STONE
  • Fellowships from Ragdale and the Arizona Commission on the Arts
  • MFA in Writing, Vermont College of Fine Arts
  • 1st place, WOW! 2012 Fall Flash Fiction Competition
  • Finalist, Tuscany Press Novel Prize for BLOOD OF A STONE
  • Violinist, Phoenix College Symphony
  • Instructor, Creative Writing for community groups and libraries (including numerous grants)
  • Freelance editor
  • Short Fiction and Creative Nonfiction published in dozens of literary magazines
  • Blogger, Jeanne's Writing Desk

Blurb

Set in the first century on the edges of the Roman Empire and the Jesus movement, Blood of a Stone is a sweeping story of murder, betrayal, love, and the search for redemption.

Faced with the brutality of slavery, Demetrios confronts his master and flees by the blood of a stone. Determined to escape his past, he struggles to create a new life and a new identity with his friend and fellow escaped slave, Elazar.

However, freedom has its price. Secrets cannot remain secret forever. A chance for love is lost. Elazar betrays Demetrios to a so-called prophet named Jesus of Nazareth. Fearing the Roman authorities and Jesus, Demetrios risks everything to silence those who would enslave him again. His quest leads him to startling discoveries and dire choices. Demetrios must answer the question we all ask: Can we ever be free of our past?


Reviews

“Blood of a Stone takes the reader on an adventure in a fascinating period of history where the Roman Empire and the birth of Christianity converge. An extremely well written historical novel.”  

— Amazon Best Selling Author The Olivia Series, Yael Politis

“Jeanne Gassman has composed a spiritual journey of one man's heart-rending path to redemption on the fringe of the Jesus movement.  Wrapped in polished prose and vivid depictions of life in 1st Century Palestine, Gassman's story transcends genres to offer a rich biblical tale of love, loss, forgiveness, and the restorative power of faith.”

— Barbara Devlin, Bestselling Author of the Brethren of the Coast series

"BLOOD OF A STONE by Jeanne Gassman is an enthralling, introspective historical tale that studies the human spirit in all its various forms: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. The novel is touching, wonderfully written and has a stunning story line that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommend!"

—Eliza Knight, USA Today Bestselling Author

“Details of 1st-Century Palestine come alive as Jeanne Lyet Gassman weaves a compelling story of unspeakable challenge and the search for redemption. Trapped in a life of desperation, Demetrios will do whatever it takes to escape, even kill those who enslave him. But when his life comes in contact with the man, Jesus, everything that seemed so important begins to shift. The story moves from pulse-pounding action to heart-wrenching honesty, as Demetrios pursues the Peace every heart craves.”

—Amazon Best-seller Author, Christy M. Bellar, The Lady and the Mountain Man

Grace, one of the most challenging journeys of life and literature, is explored in this fine debut novel by Jeanne Lyet Gassman. Set in first century Palestine during the time of Jesus, BLOOD OF A STONE is a moving, well-researched, beautifully turned novel that had me engaged and in tears. Highly recommended!

— Best-selling author Allegra Jordan, The End of Innocence

"Jeanne Gassman is a remarkable writer who brings a Biblical era stunningly to life in

this powerful and fast-moving tale of sin and redemption."

— American Fiction Prize Winner, Clint McCown, author of Haints

"In art man finds a conduit to the divine. Blood of a Stone, Jeanne L. Gassman’s artful debut, is a tale of murder, love, betrayal, and redemption in 1st century Judea. Crafted with imagination and superlative style, her story tracks slaves Demetrios’ and Elazar’s arduous climb from sin to forgiveness."

—Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award, David Beckett, The Cana Mystery


Excerpt from Blood of a Stone

by Jeanne Lyet Gassman

Farmers, merchants, townspeople, and peasants crushed together on the narrow road into the city, pushing toward the marketplace. Shepherds whistled at their herds of goats, struggling to keep them away from the booths stacked with winter figs. Herod’s auxiliary troops circled through the mob on horseback and foot, their shouts lost in the uproar.

“Move, move! In the name of Caesar and the King, get out of the way!”

The people dropped back to clear a path for more soldiers who marched in tight formation. Their conical helmets bounced up and down in waves as they jogged along the road. One of the horsemen accompanying them broke rank and rode into a group of spectators that had pressed closer for a better look. He swung his sword and warned them to keep back. There were a few muttered epithets, but no one spoke too loudly. A space opened around the soldier, and the crowd could see why they had been forced off the path. The troops dragged behind them a captured slave: a dark-skinned man with the letter F, for fugitivus, seared into his forehead. His hands and feet were bound, and if it were not for the rope that jerked him upright and pulled him along, he would have fallen face down to the ground.

Demetrios brushed his fingers across his own shoulder, feeling the raised, damaged flesh beneath his cloak. If he had not killed Marcus and escaped, his fate could have easily been the same as this poor runaway’s.

Someone pitched a stone at the auxiliaries, striking the horse. The animal reared up, and a farmer in front of the soldiers lost control of his cart. The entire procession halted as his crates of doves toppled to the ground.

The terrified birds flung themselves against the wooden slats; clouds of feathers spiraled into the air. The farmer tugged at his donkey’s rope, but the creature dug in its heels and refused to move, its hysterical brays adding to the general confusion.

The slave, sensing he had a receptive audience, raised his head. The wound on his brow had festered. His skin glowed with fever and madness. He blinked, scanning the blur of faces in front of him, seeking one he knew would understand. Then he paused and focused his gaze on Demetrios, a faint smile playing around his mouth.

Demetrios shrank back behind a cluster of men.

Of all the Jews, the soldiers, and the travelers in this place, how did he know? How does one slave recognize the other? Although the sun was warm upon Demetrios’s back, he shivered.

A man behind Demetrios said, “I heard they found him in the caves near the hot springs. He belonged to Herod’s house. Not a good place to hide.” The woman with him asked, “Where are they taking him?”

“With a group of other slaves to the mines. He’ll never see daylight again.”

Holding fast to the reins of his skittish horse, the furious soldier confronted the crowd. “Who threw that stone?”

When no one answered, he hooked one of the crates with his sword and smashed it to the ground. Several doves flew out, sweeping low over everyone’s heads. “Clear this trash from the road.”

Some of the men behind Demetrios laughed and jumped to catch the floundering birds; others complained loudly about the delay. A couple of the women near him finally stepped forward to help the beleaguered man drag his remaining crates to the side. The soldiers began to move again, their captive stumbling behind them.

The slave cried out, “Please! Help me!” before he disappeared into the wall of armored bodies.

“Demetrios of Tiberias? Is that you?”

Over the bobbing heads, Demetrios strained to see who was calling him. He cut across the road and scooted around the people still pursuing errant doves.

“Demetrios of Tiberias!” the voice called out to him with authority.

Demetrios wheeled around. They knew. The soldiers were coming for him. He was caught, trapped like a beetle in the clinches of a scorpion’s pinchers. Someone had revealed his secret, knew that he, too, was an escaped slave. Marcus’s slave. Marcus’s murderer.

“Demetrios! Demetrios!”

Demetrios tried to escape through the crowd, but the throng closed about him. He had to get away. Escape. Again. As he ducked and darted through the multitude, Demetrios realized he would be running for the rest of his life. He would forever be a slave.

“Demetrios!”

He pushed against the backs of a group of men. “Let me through.” But the crowd would not part for him.

A hand clutched his arm. He froze. Doomed. He was doomed. And he would be sentenced to die in the mines like his fellow slave. The hand that had seized him spun him around now to face his fate.


Interview with Jeanne Gassman

Angela B. Chrysler: I want to take a moment to welcome Jeanne Lyet Gassman, author of BLOOD OF A STONE (Tuscany Press) available on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Thank you so much for speaking with me, Jeanne Lyet Gassman. Please take a moment to tell us about your book.

ABC: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Believe it or not, the concept for BLOOD OF A STONE was inspired by a dream my husband had. In our house, my husband is renowned for his unusual and interesting dreams, and he likes to share them with me. When he told me he had dreamed about Kirk Douglas filming a movie about a man who plots to assassinate Christ, I stole the idea and ran with it.

ABC: Stories always require some form of research. What kind of research did you do for your book?

Since this is historical fiction, I had to do a lot of research for historical accuracy. I poured through a number of scholarly texts, read articles and stories of archaeological finds, spoke to experts, and visited museums. After the book was accepted by Tuscany Press, I worked one-on-one with a brilliant historical expert who had been on several archaeological digs in the Middle East and who spoke five languages. He advised me on all sorts of interesting details, including ancient magic spells, the way certain foods were preserved and prepared, cultural and religious traditions, etc.

ABC: Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?

Without revealing spoilers, I will say simply the most difficult chapter to write was one in which one of my favorite characters died unexpectedly. Several characters die in this book (it's a harsh world!), so I'll leave it to the readers to figure out which character I'm talking about!

ABC: Please describe your favorite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favorite?

My favorite chapter is probably the one with the sorceress Endorah. She was so much fun to imagine and create, since she's a charlatan. The research for this chapter was fascinating as well.

ABC: Which of your characters, do you relate to the most (or) who is your favorite character and why?

Well, I love all of my characters, but I really like Tabitha because she is so strong and courageous. She grows from a spoiled, impetuous young woman to a generous and wise soul. Yet, she still maintains a certain innocence throughout.

ABC: I once read that every author is simply a compilation of his/her favorite authors. Which authors have done the most to influence your writing and why?

There are so many authors I admire that it's hard to narrow the choices. Certainly, many of the "greats" have had an influence: Dostoevsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Bradbury, and Flannery O'Connor are a few that come immediately to mind. Can you tell I like intense, descriptive writing? By the way, I was fortunate enough to meet Ray Bradbury a few times when he was alive. Truly a charming and lovely man.

ABC: “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. We invent it. What does “story” mean to you?

For me, "story" allows us to understand and explore complex issues via a fictional construct. A good story makes sense of the unfathomable, provides insight into the human condition, and asks us to reconsider our own prejudices.

ABC: Tells us about your next project.

My next book is set in the mid-twentieth century and is about a family whose lives are intertwined with the atomic bomb tests in Nevada in the 1950s and 1960s. When the mother, Irene, becomes convinced something in the area is causing her to have repeated miscarriages, she abandons her husband and young son and flees to Arizona during her fifth pregnancy with the hopes of saving her unborn child. Her choices create a rift in the family that could destroy them all. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, THE DOUBLE SUN is the story of the compromises we make for reconciliation and the grief and guilt that hold us back.

ABC: Where can we find you and your book?

Well, I like to joke that I live on the Internet! You can find me on Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. I have a website and maintain a blog, Jeanne's Writing Desk, where I post opportunities for writers. My award-winning debut novel, BLOOD OF A STONE, is available from AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound, and other selected bookstores.

ABC: Thank you again for speaking with me.



M.T. McGuire

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: M.T. McGuire
  • Genre: Humorous science fiction fantasy action adventure with a dash of clean romance
  • Books:
    • Short story prequel of the K'Barthan Series, Unlucky Dip
    • Few Are Chosen, K'Barthan Series: Part 1
    • The Wrong Stuff, K'Barthan Series: Part 2
    • One Man: No Plan, K'Barthan Series: Part 3
    • Looking For Trouble, K'Barthan Series: Part 4
  • Official Site

Bio

M T McGuire is a 46 year old stay-at-home mum. She used to do stand up but sat down to write books when she got married. Sixteen years later, she has finished the K'Barthan Trilogy. She still checks all unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia, which probably tells you everything you need to know about her. She lives in Bury St Edmunds with a McOther a McSon and a McCat.

If you've read any of her stuff, she'd like to say, 'thank you' and hopes you enjoyed it.

 Read the blurbs here!


Interview with McGuire

 Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?

My name is M T McGuire and I’m an authorholic. Seriously though, I think the reason I started writing was because I couldn’t not ... although it was a while before I realised that was the root cause. Also, my mind spent so much time away with the fairies that it seemed logical to try and show people where it went. I am a stay at home mum so when I’m not writing, which is a lot of the time, I’m looking after my boy, or checking up on my folks, who are a bit doddery and live a long way away, or doing social other things so that I have more stuff to write about. I also like wine tasting, gardening, reading, painting and I go metal detecting quite often. Some of the stuff I’ve found is hundreds of years old but I’ve yet to find anything worth more than about ten quid.

Is this your first book?

It’s my first series – The K’Barthan Series – and it stands complete at four full length novels and a short. Writing them did feel like writing one huge novel at times and I was mightily relieved when I finally got the whole story out there. The beginning of the series, Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Series: Part 1 was the first decent book I managed to write. It took me 13 years during which time I wrote 3 other books I heartily wish someone else had written.

What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is the book about?

My genre; when people ask, I say I write humorous science fiction fantasy for teenagers. Unfortunately, it’s a lie as I actually write what pleases me. So take the K’Barthan Series, which is the extent of my novels in the public domain. There’s quite a lot going on. It’s basically about a bumbling cowardly getaway driver in a parallel reality (K’Barth). He’s blacklisted, which means his existence is treason and he’s an outlaw. All he wants is a quiet life but the more he tries to blend in and disappear the more trouble he gets himself into. Eventually he has to take on the nation’s despot leader to save the life of the woman he loves.

There’s a lot of humour, there is science – the cars fly and the mobile phones run on static (rub them in your hair to charge) –the parallel world, K’Barth, is full of weird and wonderful creatures in varying sizes, degrees of hairiness, shapes, colours etc. The Pan’s ex boss is a 6ft swamp thing with orange skin and antennae, the head of the Resistance movement is a Blurpon: a small monopedal cat like creature with red fur, a propensity to extreme violence and unsurpassed laundering skills – shirts, not money.

It’s quite non standard.

What inspired you to write this book?

To be honest, I just wrote the kind of book I wanted to read. To me it’s just an updated version of the Narnia books, which I loved, with funny bits and some ritzy modern gadgets thrown in. A kind of Douglas Adams meets James Bond, except I wouldn’t pretend to be able to write like Douglas Adams and if we’re going to start comparing it to the greats it’s probably more like Pratchett. Except I can’t write like him yet, either but I like to aim high (just a bit) so I’m working on it.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

The idea of a pimped parallel version of reality has been with me since I can remember. It went through several incarnations before K’Barth indeed it almost went to press as Yarth and the Yarthan Series, but by the time I got to publishing the first book, I discovered that Yarth was some really obscure realm of Dungeons and Dragons invented by a chap who had died and therefore wasn’t alive to ask. So I thought of G’Barth, my husband suggested K’Barth and it stuck. The book titles were easier because I wanted to project that kind of British comedy feel. Also, K’Barthan Series is the weird bit, so the titles need to be a bit less odd. Hence generic choices like Few Are Chosen, The Wrong Stuff, One Man: No Plan and Looking For Trouble. I hope these say ‘comedy’ first and foremost because that’s what it is.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

The covers were designed by a bunch called A Trouble Halved, who are based in Stratford Upon Avon. They are contacts from my previous life when I worked in marketing. I wanted someone who I could guarantee would be able to interpret my warped ideas and since they have form in that respect they were the obvious choice.

The plot of the K’Barthan Series hangs on getting hold of three artefacts. Their significance is revealed one book at a time until the last book which is just a good old battle between the forces of good and evil. From the point of view of the covers, I wanted to have whatever artefact was relevant to the story on the front of each book with the characters tumbling over one another to try and grab it. I had drawings of what my characters looked like and asked them if they could do it. They told me it would be very expensive and came up with the idea of the hands (less drawing so it was cheaper). After a bit of discussion, we added the flying cars on the back as I thought they’d be brilliant for merchandise, and they are. It cost a lot but to me it was well worth it.

If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaption of your book, who would play them?

That’s a tricky one I am really useless on actors and actresses. I have no clue who anyone is and I’d need a time machine. Many of the people I’m suggesting are a lot older than the stage of their lives at which I’m offering them the part or, coughs politely, dead. Time machine procured, off we go.

The male lead, The Pan of Hamgee, is a lot like David Tennant as Dr Who, only with a slightly less rubber face and a dash of Joel Fry thrown in (Stylax from Plebs), for Lord Vernon, the evil baddie, I’d have to find Timothy Dalton, as playing Mr Rochester in a 1980s BBC TV adaption of Jane Eyre, and teleport him to now but actually this fellow is close – in that picture, at any rate. There’s definitely bit of Daniel Craig about General Moteurs. I think Ada would be Maggie Smith and I suspect Judy Dench or Catherine Tate would both make an equally good Gladys. Big Merv is Samuel L Jackson with antennae and a cockney accent but Ruth and Lucy are tricky... I think I’d cast Anna Friel as Ruth maybe, although she’s not quite as comfortably upholstered as I imagine Ruth. Lucy is easier, I imagine her as Claire Danes (Carrie out of Homeland.

 When and why did you begin writing?

I think there were two reasons: first, because nobody else seemed to be writing the kinds of stories I wanted, I loved books like Children of the New Forest and the Three Musketeers – yeh, I’m a historical novel sap. Give me a frilly shirt, a big hat with feathers in (or a tricorn) and a sword fight and I’m a happy bunny. However, I also love Day of the Triffids, StarTrek and all those 1960s TV Science Fiction shows like the Avengers and the Prisoner. I love fantasy but I was shy of writing books about dwarves and elves and dragons because knowing my luck all I would get out of it would be a deluge of e-mails from experts in dwarves, elves and dragons telling me I’d done it wrong. Anyway, who wants to write about things someone else has already made up? I wanted creatures. Really, really weird creatures but who were actually quite like us under the green skin, purple fur etc. I wanted James Bond gadgets with sword fights and Terry Pratchett humour. And I wanted romance in it too.

So, what happened, eventually, was the K’Barthan Series, where only some of the characters are human; where the cars fly but the baddie and one of the heroes have a sword fight in the last scene. The book I’m currently plotting – Space Dustmen – is supposed to be straight science fiction, but our heroine, Driff, will probably have horns or something and a laser sword.

What does your writing process look like?

Like a very disorganised thing. I don’t write much down, except as part of the book. I keep it all in my head, which works well but it does take up rather a lot of short term memory. That means it tends to impact on other areas of my life like ... I dunno ... being able remember my own name, my ability to finding my own arse with both hands, that kind of thing. I probably drive the people in my life nuts. Actually, there’s no ‘probably’ to that statement, I know I do.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m putting the finishing touches to a fifth book, with a working title of Scary Space Creatures which I hope to release next year. It’s been a gas to write but it is a bit mad and it’s single stand-alone story, when the accepted advice is to write a series – always one to buck the trend, me, and keeping the same stuff in my head for eight years while I wrote about K’Barth near fried my brain. I am plotting a sixth full length novel, Space Dustmen, and I have an idea for a spin off about K’Barth for my seventh. I’m also fiddling about with a couple of children’s books, I’ve no idea what they’re called yet or what to do with them but the tinkering process is fun.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Yes there are two and the first is the racy stuff. At one point I thought I should look at trends and write what was selling well, rather than what comes out. So I thought erotica. Now, I am OK at gentle romance, you know, a poignant snog, I can do those, so I thought I should read some erotica books and then try a hawt one. The resultant sex scene could well be the funniest thing I’ve ever written in my life, but so not in a good way. I learned that there’ll be no earning millions as an erotica author for me and resigned myself to closing the bedroom door on my characters and leaving readers to imagine the squelchy bits.

The second thing I have failed to write successfully is anything that doesn’t turn into weird science fiction fantasy. No matter how hard I try, unless the book is set in space, there WILL be Creatures by the end of the first chapter. To be honest, it tends to happen when the book is set in space as well, but they’re aliens so that doesn’t count.

What, when you’re not writing, do you do to support yourself?

I lean very heavily on McOther like a giant, book-writing money sponge.

 What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

It’s a cheeky ask but if you can manage it there are three things you can do:

  1. If you enjoyed it, say that you’ve just finished it on social media and share a link.
  2. Sign up for my mailing list so you will actually know when the next one comes out. Like many authors I sell my pre and new releases for a short term promotional price so this is worth doing from your point of view as well.
  3. Write a review on whatever site you bought it from and any others if you can. It doesn’t have to be long, just a couple of lines: what was good, what could be better, why it moved you – if it did. Reviews help in too many ways to count, so yeh, if you can, please leave one.

Thank you so much for inviting me here today, it’s been a gas.



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Rawls E. Remy

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts

  • Author: Rawls E. Remy
  • Genres: Epic Fantasy, YA, Adventure, Christian, Speculative Fiction
  • Book: Misfits of Harlow Book #1 of the V Chronicles Series
  •  Official Site

Bio

Rawls E. Remy dwells in Rivendell and other imaginary worlds, and dreams of becoming an epic swordsmaster, learning how to ride a wild dragon, mastering the art of drawing/painting, and to one day fluently speak Tolkien’s language of the Elves. She lives off of chocolate, iced coffee, good humor and fantasy. When she isn’t writing or blogging, Rawls can be found either sitting outside in the sun with a book in hand, or pedaling away on her bike, or working to create that next piece of art. She is an Epic Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Steampunk, and Christian author in the making, with her first Epic Fantasy novel set to be released in 2016.


Blurb

The world fell to ruin long ago at the hands of the Vampiric Emperor, and according to prophecy he will soon return from the dead to finish what he started. There is only one power that can stop him, an ancient power of a soul reborn, only shedoesn’t know it yet…

Living with the enemy. That’s what happens to Cyrus Sole when her elven people cast her out for being a half-blood with Elemental powers—feared even by her own family. She finds herself in the capital of elven kind’s most hated enemy, at the only place able to teach her how to master her power over metal: the elite school of the D.G. League. But there are obstacles. It’s a school for “boys,” and they hate elves. In this kingdom, elves are slaves.

Cyrus must create a new identity for herself, praying she can hide behind it until her training is complete—and hope she can survive her unusualnew classmates:

Aken the dreamer and prankster; Hercule the broody, fire breathing noble; Zartanian the shy and blossoming swordsman; genii-like Bakaro of the desert sands; Lykale the suspicious genius; and Mamoru the mysterious puppet master.

Did her life take a turn for the better or the worse…?


Excerpt

“Hey!” she called out, “There’s no reason to throw rocks. Leave him alone.”

Did she just say that? Out loud? When she was only one person, and they were seven?

Oh crud. Too late to back down now.

“Well well, boys. Looky who it is!” The tallest elf gave an unpleasant grin.

“Hehe, I guess their kind come in packs, don’t they?” smirked a second. “Where one is, there’s bound to be more.”

All eyes fixed on her and they took a step near.

A frightened breath escaped her throat and she took a step back before catching herself. ‘No, I can’t let people bully me forever!’ She dashed forward, placing herself between the gang and the cage. The humanoid imprisoned within eyed her through narrow, shadowed lids. “They are people too! They have feelings, same as you,” she affirmed.

“Puh-leeze. Don’t try ‘n get us with the ‘they’ve got feelings and emotions’ bit. We don’t care!” mocked the tall boy through a sneer, and they edged closer. “Hey, I know~ How about you come play with us? You motherless tramp…”

Her hand gripped the iron pole by which the death-cage hung, steadying herself, her mind in a race for what she should do. She had to think fast as the gang moved close, circling her. How had she moved that spoon before? How had she manipulated the metal?

The scraping of footsteps ceased, and she looked up. The elves had stopped, suddenly motionless; eyes bulged wide and jaws slack, staring at something. Puzzled, she followed their gaze over to her left hand touching the pole—an ordinary iron pole, only pieces of iron were separating and peeling off, liquefying and elongating, reaching out like fingers bearing knife-point tips…fingers flying forward like thrown knives.

AaaaH!” They hollered, ducking and leaping aside.

“She’s a freak like them!”

“She’s a monster!”

“Quick, call the Hunter Elves!”

The seven boys split up, sprinting in all directions, off to get the Hunter Elves Corps—her worst nightmare.

‘Oh no, nonono! They’re coming for me; they’ll kill me; they’ll sentence me to a death-cage!’ Panic took hold. ‘Forgive me, Lord God, I should’ve kept it secret… My life is condemned—condemned to execution! They’ve been waiting for this chance to get rid of me.

This was the end. The end of everything.

“Girl!”

She jumped at a husky voice suddenly spoke at her back, and half turned toward the cage, raising her eyes up to meet the man’s intense gaze. Already tears of fright streaked her cheeks.

“Girl, set me free and I can take you away from this place.”

Away…what? How? They would track her down! They were called “Hunters” for a reason!

Despite her despair, she imagined the cage’s bars bending open—eyelids closed and right hand fingers outstretched.

Brrrreeee—kk!

The iron bended, almost snapping off, enough for him to climb out and drop down onto starved-thin feet. The gaunt humanoid stumbled from having gone who-knew-how-long without using his legs. But his blood’s Healing capability must already be working its rejuvenating power or else he couldn’t stay standing—the average humanoid would be wailing agony and require a wheelchair.

‘Woah, their resilience is amazing! Wish I had inherited that bit from Mom…’ Out loud she asked if he was sure he could make it.

He waved her concern aside. “I can handle myself without life-energy, missy.” He grabbed her arm and pulled her with him down the nearest alley. “You know this town better than I do. Guide me to the edge, and I’ll take matters from there.”

A sudden chill ran through her veins. She was speaking to one of her mother’s kind, and he was holding her arm.

Who was it that had killed Mother? Could these humanoids really be trusted? She swallowed. But then, what choice did she have right now? Her life among elf kind was over.

She nodded, taking the lead and making sure to keep to narrow and dim alleys and pathways. There was one place she had to stop by first. If she really was leaving Elvenstone for good, then there were some important things she had to bring with her…


 Connect with Rawls

 Chronicles: Misfits of Harlow will be available in print format and ebook format in bookstores worldwide 2016. Keep up-to-date via any of the links above.


Angela Interviews Rawls E. Remy

 Angela: I want to take a moment to welcome Rawls E. Remy, soon-to-be author of Misfits of Harlow (V. Chronicles: Book 1).

Thank you so much for speaking with me, Rawls E. Please take a moment to tell us about your book.

Thank you for having me, Angela.

Misfits of Harlow focuses on the lives of a group of misfits, foremost among them Aken-Shou and Cyrus. Much of Book 1 revolves around Cyrus the elf as she is chased out of her hometown and banished for the power she possesses. She finds herself in enemy territory—a people who hate elves—and creates a disguise she will have to live under.

She is of mixed blood: half elf, and the other half elves’ bitter enemy, and she is an Elemental Manipulation user. When her own kind turn on her because of these secrets, she is forced to run away and begin a new life in Draethvyle city—within the kingdom of elf kind’s enemy. But she has to hide her half-elf blood, hence the need for a disguise. As if that wasn’t enough trouble, the school she wishes to attend in order to develop her Elemental power with metal happens to be a school for “boys.” Girls with Elemental power are rare, and so the focus is on training males. She must pull out her tomboy side and hide her entire identity.

The story follows Cyrus and her new group of misfit comrades through daily training and schooling they must endure to master their Elemental powers and to one day become a part of the elite guardian force: the D. G. League. We are also shown the sad state their world and kingdom is in, the tragedy of war, the resulting hatred between humanoid kinds, aristocracy life, abuse, and slavery. It is clear that things need to change, and Cyrus and Aken-Shou are determined to do just that.

Angela: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

It was a gradual process. But I would say that my time living in Italy was where the idea first began to blossom. European stories, their myths and legends of elves, fairies, vampires, trolls, etc. sparked my imagination, and this series is the result.

I must also say that Lord of the Rings and Narnia helped fuel the ideas running through my head, and classic animes grew my interest for Asian cultures and languages.
Angela: Stories always require some form of research. What kind of research did you do for your book?

A lot of weapons and combat research. Names and language research. Different peoples in V. Chronicles have similarities to cultures and languages of our world, so I studied some things about other countries. For example, Japan’s language and culture, Romania’s architecture and myths, Finland names, and Western European architecture and clothing.
Angela: Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?

The chapter that details the harsh past of Zarren, who is a sub main character in the series, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. He’s a survivor of abuse, and knowing that there are so many children and young people in the world suffering through the same thing is what made it so difficult to write.
Angela: Please describe your favorite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favorite?

One of my favorite scenes is when Zarren and his twin brother, Elijob, are walking a long, dirt road, and they come across fields of wild flowers. It’s their first taste of freedom, and the world is beautiful and bright in ways they’d never seen before. It is also one of their happiest memories together, and it stays with Zarren forever.
Angela: Which of your characters do you relate to the most (or) who is your favorite character and why?

Such a hard question to answer! I feel that every character, in some way, is a part of me, and I like each of them for different reasons. Aken is entertaining and gets into trouble. Zarren is the sweetest thing ever, despite all that he’s been through. Mamoru is mysterious, wise, and a “big brother” figure. Hercule is a resilient noble, who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. Ellefsen, my favorite antagonist, who brings villain humor and cunning to a whole new level, is a character I have lots of fun writing. So basically, I can’t choose. :)

Angela: I once read that every author is simply a compilation of his/her favorite authors. Which authors have done the most to influence your writing and why?

In my younger writing life, my influences were mostly the places we visited as I grew up in Italy, and the shows I watched on TV. It wasn’t until high school that I really got into reading the big authors. Among my favorite were Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Masashi Kishimoto, Robert Jordan, and Brian Jacques. Their work showed me how to create the worlds I’d been wanting to. They showed me how to formulate battles and strategies, taught me of ships and sailing, and of weapons and combat. I also really enjoyed how much personality they put into each of their characters, and I liked all the different races they’d created. This influenced me to create my own races, cultures, and character personalities.
Angela: “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. We invent it. What does “story” mean to you?

It teaches us something, tells us about ourselves, and shows to us both the bad and the good. To me, that is what “story” does, and why it has meaning.
Angela: Tells us about your next project.

Because V. Chronicles is a series, my next projects are book 2 and 3, and several novellas. Also, on the side, is my Steampunk Fantasy blog series: Madnes Solver. No that is not a misspell; go find out why and read it on the blog.
Angela: Where can we find you and your book?

You can find me at my author website and blog: Rawlse.wordpress.com. My book, however, is currently being edited. I will keep everyone up-to-date on my book’s status through the blog and monthly newsletter.
Angela: Thank you, again, so much for speaking with me.

Thank you for having me, Angela! It’s been a pleasure.

 See the Brain to Books Blog Tour Giveaways with Lu!

 A Brain to Books Production

Jessica Marie Baumgartner

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts

  • Author: Jessica Marie Baumgartner
  • Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy/Children's/Paranormal Romance
  • Books:
    • By the Stars: Book one of the Embracing Entropy Series
    • Tale of Two Bookends
    • My Family Is Different
  • Official Site

 Bio

Jessica is a member of The St. Louis Writer’s Guild. Her stories have been featured by The Horror Zine, Blood Moon Rising magaizne, Bewildering Stories, Fiction on the Web, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Postcard Shorts, Hellfire Crossroads, and others. She has recently released book one of her Embracing Entropy Series, By the Stars, through European Geeks Publishing. Her previous books include a Paranormal Romance novelette titled Tale of Two Bookends, and a children’s book called, My Family Is Different.


Accomplishments and Awards

Received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 All Write Now Short Fiction Contest


By the Stars Blurb:

A nightmare is realized when Allie boards a space ship that will transport her and her children from their home forever. The human population has dwindled to around 15,000 as the Earth’s become hostile. If they stay they will die.

The alien race who’s come to their rescue seem to have no concept of selfishness, but Allie has her doubts. She’s separated from her husband and left to fend for her family on her own. It’s up to her to make sure that they survive the trip across the stars. 


Tale of Two Bookends Blurb:

Since the beginning of time Incubi have lived alongside humans without detection. Dane is an Incubus who can have any woman he wants and is intrigued when Jenna turns him down. He is determined to have her, but begins to develop feelings for this mortal.

Working to gain her favor, he wins her over and is compelled to reveal the truth. They enter a strange relationship as he feeds off of her sexual energies, but over time his lack of variety begins to show. Jenna must put aside her preconceived notions about relationships in order to keep her lover alive.


My Family Is Different Blurb:

A young Wiccan girl realizes that her friends celebrate different faiths than she does. As she questions them about their beliefs, she learns that all families are different and accepts the true nature of friendship.

Read the Reviews!


Excerpt from By the Stars

chapter 1

I used to have nightmares about this. I would wake up screaming as they forced me to leave. People giving up; abandoning Mother Earth. The thought alone caused my heart to race, my under arms to sweat.

Here I stand clutching my children, one on each side, as we prepare to be torn away from everything that’s tangible. Before me, a gargantuan structure glares from above. This beast, this ship is supposed to save humanity, or at least what’s left of it.

I’ve lived through mass devastation. It’s hardened me enough. But leaving? It still scares me.

We have no idea what’s out there for us.

My husband has faith in the alien colony that is aiding us. They made contact just in time. Said they had revolutionized their space program and stumbled upon our signal.

I don’t know what I believe.

As the line moves forward, I pull my girls along. They stumble ahead with fright, carrying their backpacks strapped to their bodies. Our packs are the only human luggage allowed on the crowded craft. But that’s not what they’re worried about.

It’s not the new race they fear. Or even the new world. It is the missing presence of their father.

He has his duty. He’ll stay with his men until we pilgrims are secure, then meet up with us in a smaller craft. I’m glad for it. They’ve already had to break up some fights. People get pretty riled up in situations like this. It’s good to have someone who remains behind to keep order for a while, and to try and find any last survivors before leaving.

Finally we’re ascending the dock and I’m able to see our temporary home. It’s nothing like I imagined. The smell is what draws my attention first.

“Eww mommy.” My youngest daughter, Gwen, pinches her nose.

The odiferous enclosure is beyond human comprehension. I’ve smelt plague pits, leaking sewage, the rank smell of sea life left to rot on beaches. Although this isn’t as horrendous, it does make my eyes water. Despite the nausea I’m fighting, I grind my teeth. “Gwen, these people are saving our lives. Don’t insult them.”

“But…”

“No,” I demand, and watch her eyes swim as she lets go of her nose.

“Look.” My eldest, Maddi distracts us as she points to one of the aliens.

I spot them as the line moves up – the Cih’lnarians. We’ve glimpsed them from afar before. Closer, they’re not as unsightly. Definitely not of this world, but the lack of symmetry in their bodies is more becoming inside boundaries built for them.

The contrast of the human official standing beside the alien as we enter sends my thoughts spinning. Cih’lnarians are about a foot taller than humans, with grey skin, and lop sided features that often give them the look of melted wax. Still unused to these new people, I do begin to compare facial expressions as the man converses with the alien beside him. They seem to smile the same.

 The ship itself looks off. Doorways, landings, stairs, none of the usual architecture is visible, just walls. Walls everywhere, but none of them reach the ceiling. It’s a network of big squares, meant to contain us, to keep us out of the way. I don’t know what I expected. Our own officials gave the craft a once over and approved.

Group by group, each living boundary is divvied out. When it’s our turn, the alien in charge of us hands me a chip with a symbol on it, and points the way. As we walk along, we can see that none of the cubicles have doors. There are light beams that penetrate up from the floor to create a boundary. It offers a slight comfort, but anyone could walk in. I desperately hope that the neighbors opposite us are reasonable enough. One sliver of hallway between strangers can leave a person feeling exposed.

I’d heard about this. The Cih’lnarian culture doesn’t know the ideals of living separate. They consider themselves one being; like a single hair growing from our bodies. Very seldom do we concern ourselves with the individual follicles unless there’s a problem. They’re only concerned with the greater good.

I admire their lack of selfishness, but it makes me feel insignificant.

Reaching our new living space amplifies this feeling. The small square room is plain and simple. Three walls alone protect us.



Crystal Marcos

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts

  • Author: Crystal Marcos
  • Genre: Young Adult
  • Books: Novus from The Cresecren Chronicles
  • Official Site

Bio

Award-winning author Crystal Marcos has been a storyteller her entire life. As the oldest of five children, she had to do a lot of entertaining. She lives on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State with her husband and daughter Kaylee, with another child on the way. Crystal is the author of BELLYACHE: A Delicious Tale and HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE. Novus, her third book and first Young Adult novel, is Book One of The Cresecren Chronicles.


Blurb

 Ideal for Hunger Games and Divergent fans, Crystal Marcos delivers Novus, a riveting novel set in a dystopian future of action-adventure, suspense, and romance. Intriguing characters and a gripping storyline keep the reader turning page after page. 

Being a teenager is hard enough. And what if your life’s path is predetermined? On top of that, you aren’t even Human? 

Cayden was given life as a Cresecren. He expected to live out his days with the dysfunctional Human family he was assigned to serve. One fateful night, however, landed him in Gavaron, the home of maimed, elderly, or defiant Cresecren. 

Beyond its borders is the Den, an area much more dangerous than he ever imagined. Now seventeen, Cayden unwittingly becomes involved in a conspiracy and is one of a handful of survivors fleeing a deadly attack. They set off on a perilous journey in search of refuge and the truth. Along the way, Cayden begins to comprehend the difference between fully living and merely surviving, while trying to balance his emotions and a forbidden love.


Elley Arden

  Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: Elley Arden
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
  • Books: Crossing Lines from the Cleveland Clash series
  • Official Site

Bio

Elley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvanian who has lived as far west as Utah and as far north as Wisconsin. She drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness. Elley writes books with charming characters, emotional stories, and sexy romance—on and off the field. Take a peek ather bookshelf for a detailed listing.


Blurb

Party girl and standout wide receiver Jillian Bell sees no problem with her "no rules" lifestyle as long as she's scoring on the field. But her sexy new offensive coordinator doesn't see it that way.

Former marine turned successful restaurateur Carter Howl agreed to whip his father's undisciplined women's full-tackle football team into shape out of guilt. But the job comes with more trouble than he bargained for thanks to one spitfire of a wide receiver who challenges his every play.

When Jillian's little sister begs her to come back to their small-minded hometown and be on her best behavior at a family event, she unexpectedly enlists prim and proper Carter to help her keep her cool. But two days and one pretend engagement later, this straight-laced former soldier is doing all sorts of things he normally wouldn't. Is the wrong girl the right girl for him?


Review

“Arden has definitely done it again. She has penned a novel that will stand up against the best of the best. The wildly romantic (and at times steamy) relationship between the two main characters is so genuine that you can’t help but get caught up in it.”

Read more reviews at http://purejonel.blogspot.ca/2015/05/CrossingLines.html#sthash.ZgRizlcR.dpuf


Excerpt

THE CONFRONTATION

Coach Howl replaced Coach Malloy with his son!

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jillian said a little too loudly, then grabbed her sore neck and rubbed. What was that bit about the apple not falling far from the tree? If that was true, then their passing game was doomed.

The younger Coach Howl looked at her, and—ooh!—those magic eyes produced a heat that pierced through her to the center of her neck pain, until she couldn’t even feel her toes.

I’m cured, she thought, followed by, maybe he won’t be so bad. In fact, maybe he wasn’t anything like his father at all. Maybe he was the black sheep in his family—just like she was.

He looked away, patted his father on the shoulder, and then stepped up to address the team. “Ladies, I’m honored to be here,” he said. “Rather than bore you with details about my football background, let me just say that I have plenty of experience with both the sport and the discipline needed to get the job done. Winning isn’t rocket science. The team that wins works harder and longer than the losing team, and the team that wins knows how to stay out of trouble—on and off the field.”

Why the hell was he looking at her?

She rolled her eyes. He narrowed his.

“You were late,” he said.

She looked behind her, knowing full well he was talking to her. “Barely late.”

At her response, he stood straighter and narrowed his eyes until they were slits. “Late is late, and it’s not tolerated on this field.” He made a whirling signal with his finger. “Laps ... until I tell you to stop.”

He had to be kidding. She was the best player on this team. She’d scored every single one of the twenty-one points they’d scored so far this season.

She crossed her arms and looked at Coach Howl. He was no help. The faintest smile curved his lips.

“I miss Coach Malloy already!” she yelled as she threw her helmet to the sidelines and started jogging around the track.

By the time Thor deigned to release her from lap running, stretching was over and her mood was foul. She got in line and readied to run routes.

“Partying got the best of you this weekend, didn’t it?” MJ asked.

“Never.” They just had a new OC with a stick up his ass. Or a hammer. She looked at him and snickered.

He paced the sidelines, watching the team’s every move, looking way too serious for his own good. He’s going to have a heart attack, she thought. Which wouldn’t be terrible. At least then he couldn’t coach anymore.

He stopped pacing and stood with his feet shoulder width apart, a position that showed off strong thigh muscles beneath his thin athletic pants. She bet he had a six-pack. What a shame. God had formed a whole lot of fine man around one big asshole.



Chris Kennedy

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: Chris Kennedy
  • Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera
  • Books: The Search for Gram (Book #1 from the Codex Regius series)
  • Official Site

Bio

81% of Americans have a story they want to write. Chris Kennedy wasn’t one of these. He never wanted to be an author; in fact, none of the people that knew him would ever have thought that he could be an author. He had no training...no hi-powered English degree...no friends in the business; he had nothing that would have indicated he could be a successful writer.

It all started one day while he was driving home from work. Several news articles he had seen gelled into the beginnings of a story. When he got home, he decided to write his idea down. Using the knowledge of warfare gained in twenty years of service as a Naval Aviator, he crafted his ideas into a compelling story of a Chinese attack on the United States’ mainland. The more he wrote, the faster the story came, and he hasn’t been able to stop writing ever since. Unintentionally, the Accidental Author was born.

After writing the first draft of his novel, “Red Tide: The Chinese Invasion of Seattle,” he looked for representation, but was unable to convince an agent that his story and plan would be successful. After being turned down by over 80 agents, Chris decided to do it himself. He researched the self-publishing industry and everything required to be successful as an independent author.

On his daughters’ birthday, he launched his first novel, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Chris Kennedy has released seven full length novels, including the “Occupied Seattle” military fiction duology, “The Theogony” and “Codex Regius” science fiction trilogies and the “War for Dominance” fantasy trilogy. He is also the author of the self-help book, “Self-Publishing for Profit” and the leadership book “Leadership from the Darkside.” Called “fantastic” and “a great speaker,” he has coached hundreds of beginning authors and budding novelists on how to self-publish their stories at a variety of conferences, conventions and writing guild presentations.

See what’s up with Chris and join his mailing list at http://chriskennedypublishing.com. You can also find him on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/chriskennedypublishing.biz and on Twitter at @ChrisKennedy110.


Author Accomplishments:

Working with schools to help increase writing literacy!


Blurb

Lieutenant Commander Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs has saved Seattle, traveled to the stars and forged new alliances with alien races. With the latest war concluded, he turned his attention to deciphering the strange rod an ancient alien civilization gave him as a test. Was a little “down time" to work on the project too much to hope for?

Yes.

Something or someone is destroying the starships of the alien Aesir race. The elven Aesir are in need of help, and all of the signs point to Calvin as the hero they need. He has already defeated the merciless Drakuls and saved Earth from alien invasion, but is he prepared to face this unknown challenge?

As the Theogony trilogy comes to a close, a new chapter for Calvin is set to begin. "The Search for Gram" initiates the "Codex Regius," a trilogy that will once again take Lieutenant Commander Hobbs and his Special Forces platoon to the stars. Not even the universe can hold him this time!


Reviews

"AWESOME!  Great read! Couldn't put it down once I started reading!"  -- Dirk Flint


Excerpt

Bridge, Aesir Ship Blue Forest, Unknown System, March 15, 2021

“Continue firing all weapons,” said the Blue Forest’s commanding officer, Captain Elorhim Silvermoon.

“Lasers firing,” replied the laser officer.

“Missiles launching,” replied the missile officer. “For all the good it’s doing,” he added under his breath.

Engineering, Captain,” Silvermoon transmitted over his implant. “We need more power. How’s it coming back there?

I’m sorry Captain, but this is the best you’re going to get,” said the assistant engineer. “Engine Room One is open to space. Everyone who was in it, including the chief engineer, is gone. We’re already 10 percent over redline, and I don’t know how much longer the Number Two engine can take it! With the loss of the Number One engine, it’s already pushing a bigger load than it was built for.

Do what you can,” replied Silvermoon. “They’re gaining on us, and we’re not going to make the stargate without more power.

I’ll do what I can sir, but it won’t be much. Maybe a percent or two. We’re going to blow the motor if I try to do much beyond that.

Do what you can,” the commanding officer repeated. “Silvermoon out.” He looked around the bridge. His crew was maintaining its composure, but he could tell the stress was getting to them. “How long until we reach the stargate?” he asked.

The navigator’s pointed ears twitched. “It’s going to be a little more than an hour at this speed,” he replied. “Engineering just gave us another 10 Gs of acceleration, but it won’t be enough to leave our pursuers behind.”

Captain Silvermoon sighed internally, not letting his frustration show. He wished he had another courier drone, but they had launched both their drones earlier. Launched them and then watched as a second enemy ship destroyed them. They had no idea the second ship existed before then; it had just appeared between his ship and the stargate after the drones were launched. Unarmed and unarmored, the drones were easy prey for the enemy frigate. Whatever cloaking technology the enemy used was outstanding. All of a sudden, it was just there.

“The enemy’s shields are down,” said the laser officer. He didn’t have to say he meant the smaller vessel’s shields; none of the Aesir weapons had made a dent in the shields of the larger vessel that was slowly catching up with them.

“Destroy it,” ordered Captain Silvermoon. Another volley of laser fire lashed the enemy frigate. The alien ship flashed on the screens as the missiles arrived, and something vital was hit.

“Target destroyed,” the missile officer reported.

“One hour to the stargate,” the navigator noted as the Aesir ship hurtled past the expanding ball of plasma.

The missile officer shook his head as he looked at his display. “I don’t get it sir,” he said finally. “The smaller vessel didn’t defend itself after it destroyed the courier drones. It just sat there and let us destroy it. It’s almost as if that’s what the enemy wanted us to do.”

“Yes,” agreed Captain Silvermoon, already thinking along the same lines. “They were probably gathering information on our weapons systems...information we let them have. Too late to worry about it now; there’s nothing we can do.” He paused and then asked the question he’d been dreading, “Range to the other vessel?”

“One million miles,” replied the laser officer. Last time, it had fired at 800,000 miles. They were getting too close, but there was nothing he could do.

“I’ve got the damage report from Engine Room One,” said the damage control officer (DCO), “but I don’t know if you’re going to believe it. I don’t.”

“Go ahead,” said Captain Silvermoon.

“The repair crew says the engine room is gone,” said the DCO, “and they mean gone as in vanished. There is nothing left. No pieces, no bodies, and no equipment. Everything is just…gone. Where the structure of the ship ends, it ends with a clean cut. The repair crew says what’s left is like nothing they have ever seen. They have no idea what could have caused it.”

“Well, I don’t know where it all went,” said the sensor operator. “They asked me to mark the debris field so we could look for survivors later, but the missile didn’t leave a debris field when it hit us. Everything just disappeared.” In their three previous deployments, Silvermoon had never seen the sensor operator look shaken. He was an extremely competent naval officer, and he always had an answer in the past. The captain found he didn’t like the new expression.

“Where did everything go then?” asked Captain Silvermoon. “Anyone have any guesses?”

The bridge was silent.

“Range to enemy vessel 800,000 miles,” announced the laser officer. “Enemy vessel is firing. Six torpedoes inbound.”

Damn it, thought the captain. The enemy ship had only shot one torpedo last time, and they hadn’t been able to stop it. “Activate all defenses,” ordered the captain. “Retarget main batteries on the torpedoes as well.”

The Aesir ship’s lasers and counter-missile lasers began firing at the incoming torpedoes, while missiles and counter-missile missiles leapt from their ports to join the energy weapons. Just like before, the torpedoes disappeared when the Aesir missiles would have hit them, only to reappear once the missiles were past. The lasers seemed to hit the torpedoes, but had no effect on them.

“No effect,” said the ship’s defensive officer. “Shields are as high as they can be with only one engine.” He didn’t say the shields hadn’t stopped the earlier weapon, even with both motors running at 100 percent. He didn’t have to.

“Any idea where the torpedoes are going?” asked Captain Silvermoon.

“I don’t know,” replied the sensor operator, the shaken look now a permanent part of his countenance. “They just vanish. It’s not a shield because our missiles go through the space where the torpedoes were. It’s like they’re not there anymore. I don’t know where they’re going. It doesn’t make any sense.” The sensor operator shook his head, barely able to contain the tears of frustration that Captain Silvermoon could see were perilously close to brimming over.

“That’s okay,” Captain Silvermoon replied. “Keep working; you’ll figure it out.”

“Five seconds to impact,” said the laser officer a few seconds later. “Four... three... two... one...” Six torpedoes impacted along the length of theBlue Forest.


Interview

Angela B. Chrysler: I want to take a moment to welcome bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Chris Kennedy. Chris is the author of “The Search for Gram,” which is the first book in his new “Codex Regius” trilogy, which is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

ABC: Thank you so much for speaking with me, Chris. Please take a moment to tell us about your book.

CK: Hi, Angela. Thanks for having me; it’s good to be here. I’m really excited about “The Search for Gram,” as it is without a doubt my best book to date. The new series follows the bestselling “Theogony” trilogy of “Janissaries,” “When the Gods Aren’t Gods” and “Terra Stands Alone.” I had originally intended to just write those three books, but when I finished “Terra Stands Alone,” the readers said they wanted more and that the series should be a trilogy of trilogies. I’m working on it!

ABC: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

CK: It seemed to me that there are a lot of unexplained events in our past, and I got to wondering one day, what if everything we thought we knew about history was a lie? What if all of the “major” events in our history were due to alien interventions? What if they were here right now, watching us…and what if they needed our help? The first trilogy explored where Greek mythology came from; the new “Codex Regius” series looks at Norse mythology.
ABC: Stories always require some form of research. What kind of research did you do for your book?

CK: Some of the physics was beyond me, but I wanted it to be right for the book, so I enlisted the help of a nuclear physicist and a member of the physics department at Duke University. Some of it was pretty challenging, but we made it work.
ABC: Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?

CK: In the book there is a scene with an orbital bombardment. I really wanted the reader to experience the terror and majesty of a bombardment coming in from space, but it is hard to describe as it’s almost bigger than words. The fact that there has never actually been an orbital bombardment, so what it looks like is all a matter of guesswork, doesn’t make it any easier. It was hard…but an awful lot of fun, too.
ABC: Please describe your favorite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favorite?
CK: My favorite scene is the Battle on the Dendaran Plain. Ever since “The Last Starfighter,” I’ve always wanted to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds…this is it. Not only is this the desperate battle, there are special forces and tactics…I’d love to see this made into a movie, just for the special effects. It would be awesome!

ABC: Which of your characters do you relate to the most (or) who is your favorite character and why?
CK: My favorite character is Calvin, the main character. When I first started writing him, I knew him best as I had a lot in common with him. He has since grown way beyond anything I am ever likely to do…but he’s still my favorite.

ABC: I once read that every author is simply a compilation of his/her favorite authors. Which authors have done the most to influence your writing and why?

CK: My favorite author is John Ringo, and I hear sometimes that I write like him (which I take as a huge compliment). He understands military and always nails that part. If you’re writing military fiction or military scifi, I think that is extremely important.

ABC: “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. We invent it. What does “story” mean to you?
CK: The story is the most important thing, and the sole reason for the book. It is an escape from reality and a chance to experience a different reality…to forget the cares of the day and lose yourself in a book.

ABC: Tells us about your next project.
CK: My next project is “Beyond the Shroud of the Universe,” which is the second book in the “Codex Regius” trilogy. After that, I will write “Chasing the Past,” the second book in my fantasy series.

ABC: Where can we find you and your book?

CK: “The Search for Gram is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and most other e-retailers.
ABC: Thank you so much for speaking with me.

CK: Thanks for having me!


Stanislava D. Kohut

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Facts:

  • Author: Stanislava D. Kohut
  • Genre: YA Science Fiction
  • Books:
    • Barney's Choice
    • Snow in May
  • Official Site

Bio

I was born in the early 80's and grew up in the former Czechoslovakia as a single child. My father's bed time stories and our huge library were the catalyst for my already wild and vivid imagination. I always loved to write, I 'wrote' my first picture book at age five and 'sold' it auction style to the highest bidder ( in this case my father )

I attended Private Veterinary High School, then continued my education at an International Hotel and Travel Management School.

I worked as a tour guide in Venice and Rome and was also a Captain of the Slovak Junior Olympic White Water Rafting Team for eight years, then switched to modeling and traveled the world extensively. Not all the experiences were positive, but all of them were invaluable.

I now live with my husband in the beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii.


The Ruler Of Nothingness

Throughout the time and space,
my body is floating,
lost in the powdery whiteness
of the milky way.

Sliding on the rings,
of Neptune and Saturn,
past the darkness of a black hole,
far and beyond.

Queen of the universe,
ruler of nothingness,
with my every particle,
I crave for a touch.

How many lives ago,
I cannot remember,
I was then part of you,
feeling so strong.

But I wanted more,
never truly satisfied,
until the world,
swallowed me whole.

And that’s what I am missing now,
the closeness of you,
and suddenly everything,
means nothing at all.

So when I close my eyes,
a prayer comes silently,
that beyond the next nebula,
my dream will come true.

I’ll give up the universe,
the riches and powers,
to call you mine,
once and for all.

Finally it seems to me,
the planets are aligning,
and I am being graced,
by your glowing touch.

Your presence is blinding,
You are above it all,
I am basking in your light,
of spiritual fullness.

I couldn’t ask for more,
than what you are,
my tears flow like rivers,
I melt in your embrace.


The Woods Of Enchantment

Nightingale, nightingale

Sing through the night, sing through the night to me.


Lead me to the place, where I first saw him waiting,

At the clearing in the moonlight.


I can’t stop dreaming,

With my eyes open.


I am yearning for the dark veil to fall back.


Little bird lead me through the woods,

To that enchanted place, where I left my heart,

So many moonlights ago.


The spider webs were sparkling then,

With droplets of rain like diamonds,

And the cycads were buzzing,

With the excitements of love anew.


Nightingale, lead me through the night,

Through the thickest fog that falls,

and surrounds me impenetrably,

leaving me lost on a lonely road.


You, with the blue eyes,

The beautiful delusion of mine,

That torments freely my aching soul,

When will you turn yourself into reality?


I came to the clearing,

Where I first met you so many nights ago,

But you are not here anymore.


And the only sound I hear, is the beating of my heart.


Were you ever real?

Or was it just me,

Dancing by myself in the pale shine of the moon?

While listening to the sad song of the birds,

the fireflies keep leading me,

deeper into the woods, as I follow,

like a lost lamb, hoping to find you.


Even as I am walking into a lion’s den,

there are so many eyes in here,

Waiting for me to stray from my path,

I can hear their pacing paws,

I can feel their sharp claws.


You were so sweet, you, the devil in disguise,

luring the innocence out of me,

tearing me to pieces with your gentle touch.


Oh, I should have known.


And as I am standing here, hearing the thunder clouds,

Waiting for the lightning bolt,

That will burn me to ashes.


And I will rise again, strong and reborn

I will howl at the moon, and spin in a wild dance,

finally able to embrace your touch,

I will look deep into your eyes, as our bodies melt in one,

Our souls will shine, dark as a fallen star.


J.A. Carlson

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: J.A. Carlson
  • Genre: Crime Fiction
  • Books: Shrike

Bio

I have aspired to be a writer since my grade school days. Shrike is my first novel. I live in North Carolina's Triad. Originally I am from Connecticut – Southern Connecticut to be exact, where we put mud flaps on the BMWs.  I’m proud to be a Swedish American.  When I'm not thinking about writing, I like ice hockey and traveling. I've tried stand-up comedy too; however, no one thought I was as funny as I thought I was. A cat owns me; in fact, she has helped me pen three picture books featuring her and her friends and the compilation thereof has just been published. I have a few more novels in various states of inception; I hope Shrike's success will give me the impetus to finish them.  Right now, writing is my avocation, not my vocation.  I’d love for that to change someday, as I was told by a teacher in high school that I have a natural talent for writing and that has stuck with me over all these years. 


Interview with Carlson

1. Tell us a little about yourself. 

Carlson: I got started writing in grade school. I hated reality so I found writing as a way to make my own.

2. Is this your first book?

Carlson: Shrike is my first book made public. I wrote two others, but now they belong to the ages.

3. What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about?

Carlson: I don’t have a favorite genre as such. If I have a story to tell, I will tell it.  Shrike is the story of one young woman's overcoming tremendous physical, emotional and logistical adversity to defeat evil incarnate.

4. What inspired you to write this book? 

Carlson: For years I wanted to write a story of someone who is just a regular person by day and a hero by night. With the help of the young lady to whom my book is dedicated, Shrike came to be.

5. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

Carlson: I just like the name Shrike. It’d be great as a movie title.

6. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

Carlson: One of my Facebook friends offered to design it for me. I wanted a vision of my heroine rising from the flames.

7. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

Carlson: I have been told Rooney Mara would be great as Taryn. I can see Gene Hackman as Bill Tatum, but he may be too old for it. Maybe Melissa Fumero from Brooklyn Nine-Nine for Miranda. Kate Burton (from Scandal) as Nancy Mounce.

8. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Carlson: In a Composition class in high school, the teacher grading an assignment of mine told me I had a natural talent for writing. For someone who had been pretty meaningless previously, it was kind of a big moment.

9. Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?  

Carlson: I love to drink and write. Often did a bottle of Jack Daniel’s sit next to me as I wrote Shrike.

10. Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Carlson: I always have a beginning and an end. Both are quite clear. Then, I have to plot a path between the two.

11. Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?

Carlson: Writing a love/sex scene is a challenge for me. I task myself to write them without naming body parts. I think that is a true test of a writer.

12. What book do you wish you could have written?

Carlson: I’m throwing up in my mouth a little, but I wish I had written the 50 Shades trilogy. I’d be a trillionaire by now.

13. What is your biggest fear?

Carlson: Leaving this world as someone meaningless. I’m most of the way there now.

14. What do you want your tombstone to say?

Carlson: I would borrow from Dan Fogelberg – “Between the worlds of men and make believe I can be found.”

13. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?  

Carlson: Sweden – land where my fathers died.

20. What is your favorite song?

Carlson: Shilo by Neil Diamond. My life in a few minutes.

23. What is your favorite movie?

Carlson: Animal Crackers.


Alex Taylor

Brain to Book Blog Tour

Fast Fact

  • Author: Alex Taylor
  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
  • Books: The Wannabe Vampire from the Michael Alexander/Kari Logan series
  • Official Site

Bio

Alex Taylor is the author of the Michael Alexander/Kari Logan vampire series:

•  The Wannabe Vampire
•  Shampires

Alex is currently working on several projects, including the third and fourth books in the series.

While born and raised in Lompoc, California, a small town much like the one described in The Wannabe Vampire, Alex had the opportunity to travel extensively as a child. In 1977, the family packed up and moved aboard their sailboat, where they spent two years touring the South Pacific.

When not writing vampire stories, Alex enjoys camping, blogging, reading, and playing with parrots. Alex’s first RV was very much like the one Kari owns, but this is a total coincidence.


Blurb

Michael Alexander is not your typical vampire.

He has a house in a small coastal California city, a software development team in Mumbai, and a black Toyota Prius. He wants nothing more than to enjoy the pleasant life he’s crafted for himself and the friendship of Kari, his new next door neighbor.

Unfortunately, Michael also has a stalker.

Bruce is convinced that only the power of a vampire can save him from the ghost that haunts him. After a chance encounter in the grocery store, he turns to Michael for help. When Bruce’s entreaties are rejected, his unstable nature takes over. Trapped between a desperate and deranged man and his fantasies, Michael and Kari are caught in the crossfire.


Review

Kudos to author Alex Thomas for putting together a modern-day tale of a vampire falling in love and NOT ravishing the object of his affections. Good to know there are still some honorable undead left out there. - Vampbard, That's what I'm Talking About


Excerpt

Ever since he was nine years old, Bruce Thomas wanted to become a vampire. It had started, quite innocently enough, as a game he had once played with his now-dead sister Louise. One night, they attempted to conjure up a ghost. It was Louise’s plan to frighten her younger sibling.

The spirit in question was that of a young woman named Agnes who had been killed in a terrible car accident nearly a century before. One summer night, she had been driving on a lonely, dark stretch of twisting mountain highway. She lost control and plummeted over the sheer cliff. The accident occurred in an era long before safety belt laws and car seats, so her infant daughter was riding unsecured in the front. When the car went over the edge, the child flew out the open passenger-side window and disappeared.

Several increasingly ghastly variations of the tale described the child’s end. In the happiest version, she was rescued, adopted, and raised to adulthood by a well-meaning passer-by. In another, she was found, killed, and consumed by coyotes. In the most ghastly telling, she was impaled on a tree branch and died a lingering death after which crows plucked out her sightless eyes.

However the child died, one thing was certain: Agnes’ desperate spirit regularly walked the lonely stretch of road in a futile search for her lost child. Sometimes, she would appear as a white woman walking along the side of the road, delivering an unhappy end to those who stopped to provide aid. On other nights, she would appear in the form of a white owl that would suddenly fly across a driver’s path, causing an ugly, and often fatal, wreck. No matter her form, unwary travelers risked meeting Agnes’ fate if they encountered her wandering and restless spirit along the road.

On that fateful night, Bruce and his sister huddled in the darkened guest bathroom. Louise handed Bruce her baby doll as bait for the ghost, then knocked three times on the mirror. “Agnes, I’ve got your baby,” she said.

Nothing happened.

She rapped on the mirror again, pausing for greater effect. “Agnes, I’ve got your baby.”

Finally, after knocking a third time, she shouted, “Agnes, I’ve got your baby!”

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the face of a woman materialized in the glass. She appeared, greenish and semi-transparent, as a partially decomposed corpse. Her shoulder-length hair seemed to squirm, snake-like, as her hands reached slowly out towards the two mesmerized children.

Louise screamed.

Suddenly, the spell was broken. The two children exploded from the bathroom and spilled into the well-lit hallway. Once they had escaped, Bruce burst into tears. His sister, breathless, started to laugh. During the commotion, Bruce had wet his pants.

Although Louise soon forgot about the incident, the fright and the shame of that night never left Bruce. He had been the one to hold Agnes’ baby; her revenge was that she began to visit him in his dreams. At first, she would replay the terrifying details of her accident. Later, she began to show him her wicked hauntings of innocent travelers.

As a result of Agnes’ torment, Bruce developed a bed-wetting problem. The poor boy, too terrified to leave his bed and venture down the hall, would urinate in the quiet comfort of his warm sheets, much to the consternation of his parents and the ridicule and delight of his elder sister.

As Bruce grew, Agnes’ visits became more frequent and frightening. No longer did she confine herself to his dreams. He would see her when fully awake, as she prowled across his moonlit room sharing her gruesome tales. At night, he would scream; during the day, his parents sought advice from doctors, therapists, and even clergy.

By the time Bruce reached puberty, Agnes was his frequent companion. Although her visits were still frightening, she had stopped her nightly show of horrors. Instead, she promised to become his lover and would ask him to do small favors to prove his devotion.

At first, these things were harmless — a bouquet of wildflowers placed on an old grave in the cemetery, a shot of his father’s whiskey left out on the porch for a passing spirit. Later, she began to ask him for terrible, unspeakable things. She asked him to decapitate the neighbor’s cat and to loosen the lug bolts on his sister’s car to disastrous result. If he refused, she would cajole and threaten until at last he acquiesced. Bruce was powerless to resist.

Despite the efforts of all the professionals involved in his case, Bruce was not saved by the multitude of medications prescribed by his doctors and researched by his frantic parents. Invariably, each drug would put Agnes’ visits on temporary hiatus, only for her to return, angrier than ever, a few weeks or months later.

Although the medications did not give Bruce any relief, he was able to find some respite by losing himself in tales of the macabre. He obsessively collected horror magazines, books, and movies, because he found these stories oddly comforting. Observing the suffering of others plagued by the unholy machinations of ghosts, spirits and monsters somehow made him feel less alone.

As he began to read stories of the spirit world, he soon learned there was only one creature immune to their effects. Vampires, he realized, were unaffected by ghostly movements and demands.

To escape Agnes’ grasp, Bruce knew he must one day become a vampire. His difficulty in executing this plan was that he needed to find one to help him complete his transformation. Much to his dismay, he discovered vampires were a rarer breed than his vast media collection would suggest. At almost 50 years old, despite decades of trying, he had yet to meet even one.