interview

Interview with Robert Eggleton

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Robert Eggleton, author of Rarity from the Hollow, which was our featured Book of the Day last week. Please be sure to stick around after the interview, as there will be an excerpt from the novel. If you would like to visit the Book of the Day feature and read a different (but very insightful!) excerpt from Rarity from the Hollow, please click HERE.

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Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage — an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It’s up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

Interview with Robert Eggleton

Robert: Hi, Tricia! Thanks for inviting me to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. 

Tricia: Thank you so much for stopping by! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Robert: I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist with over forty years working in the field of children’s advocacy. I grew up as the oldest child of an impoverished family in West Virginia, became active in human rights movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s as a teen, and went to college as an alternative to being drafted and sent either to prison or to the Vietnam War. I remained active in the anti-war movement during college, graduating with a Master’s Degree in 1977.

My father was a disabled Vet suffering from shell shock and anger outbursts that he self-medicated with alcohol. My mother was a downtrodden survivor of domestic violence who kept our family together any way that was necessary. My family would fit within an Appalachian subculture that emphasized hard work and fundamental Christianity. I was the third member of my extended family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from college. My grandparents farmed, were poor but highly respected within their communities – always with a helping hand out to anybody less fortunate. Love abounded and still does despite profound generational differences in social and political values.

T: When did you begin writing?

Robert: Perhaps to disassociate from a harsh reality filled with alcoholism, domestic violence, and not enough food on the table, I began writing short stories as a child. At the time, paper bags were used by grocery stores. I would tear them open and flatten them out to use for writing stories that I would share with anybody – store clerks, peers, gas station attendants…. During the tumultuous times of the civil rights movement, I switched to writing poetry, and was especially inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as early rock music, such as by Pink Floyd. During college, a few of my poems were published in alternative zines and one was accepted by the 1971 West Virginia Student Anthology. I also wrote dozens of handouts for antiwar protests. During college, between working to pay for tuition and books and studying, I started a few short stories and drafted poetry, but never seemed to find time to finish anything.

After college, I concentrated on writing nonfiction. It was a very exciting time for children’s rights. It was the beginning of an era during which children were no longer regarded as chattel. Instead of being locked up with no due process as I had been as a little boy, courts were recognizing that parents could not just dump their kids into jails and big institutions for punishment, or because the parents just didn’t want them any more. I wrote socials service and treatment models, policy, staff training materials, drafted legislation consistent with social services thinking, published research on the correlates of child abuse and delinquency…. Dozens of my investigative reports about systemic deficiencies and how children were treated in jails and institutions were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked until the end of 1997. Many of these reports are now archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

In 2002, I accepted a job as a therapist at our local mental health center. It was the first job that I’d performed since college that did not involve a great deal of producing written materials. Something started churning inside of me, subsequently identified as a personal need to write. I returned to writing fiction and poetry in 2006. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel.

T: Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Robert: Rarity from the Hollow is literary fiction with a social science fiction backdrop, filled with tragedy, comedy, and satire. The final edition was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016, after circulating as an Advance Review Copy (ARC) for an extended period of time. This novel was the first, if not the only, science fiction adventure to predict the rise of Donald Trump into political power. While there is no political advocacy in the story favoring one side or any other, the story covers many issues being faced today – the refugee crisis, illegal immigration, sexual harassment…. In a nutshell, an empowered victim of child maltreatment, a most unlikely savior of the universe, heads a team of zany characters on a wild adventure. The early tragedy in the story feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire.  It is not for the prudish, faint-of-heart, or easily offended.

T: How did you get the idea for the book?

Robert: I’ve mentioned going to work for our local mental health center and how my psychological need to write started churning deep inside me. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions for children with mental health concerns, most having experienced maltreatment, some of them having experienced sexual abuse. One day, sitting around the table used for written therapeutic exercises, a skinny little girl with long stringy hair began to disclose. Instead of just speaking about the horrors of her abuse, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a loving family who would protect her. My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe: Lacy Dawn.

T: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

Robert: I have a love – hate relationship with each character in Rarity from the Hollow. They all have character flaws and wonderful attributes, including the abusive father and Lacy Dawn. Personally, I most like Brownie, the family mutt who plays a very important role in saving the universe. He was the only character on Lacy Dawn’s team to have empathy for what was then presumed to be a vile invading enemy. His empathy skills opened the door for conflict resolution. He was a positive role model for all. Plus, while every character prompted a laugh every now and then, Brownie was outrageous when his internal dialogue was shared with readers.

T: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Robert: Writing itself comes easy for me. The hard part is the self-promotion that follows. The most difficult aspect of writing the story was cutting out great scenes that didn’t advance the plot. I wanted to make them somehow fit since some of these scenes were powerful. It took a while, but I cut, cut, and cut some more.  Again, however, nothing to do with writing is nearly as hard as the hard work that follows after a manuscript has gone past final editing.

T: What is your primary goal as an author?

Robert: This project has a larger mission than a personal goal as an author – contributing to the prevention of child maltreatment. Half of author proceeds are donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/

My goal as the author of Rarity from the Hollow was to write about tragedy but within a story that was fun to read. The ARC of my novel was awarded two Gold Medals by major book review organizations, was named one of the best releases of 2015 by a Bulgaria book critic, and received twenty-six five star reviews and forty-three four star reviews by independent book review bloggers. The review that caused me to feel like I had approached my goal as an author:

“…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them. In fact, the rustic humor and often graphic language employed by Lacy Dawn and her compatriots only serve to highlight their desperate lives, and their essential toughness and resilience…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://www.awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/

I don’t want to sound like I’m fixin’ to die, but, especially as I’ve aged late into the world of books, another goal became heartfelt. I wanted to write something that would outlive me. Yes, that sounds grandiose. Yet, it’s probably the deep down goal of every writer. On 1-6-17, the first review of the final edition was published, five stars. The closing lines will be on my tombstone (just kidding!): “…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/5-stars-for-rarity-from-the-hollowby-robert-eggleton/

T: What projects are you currently working on?

Robert: I’m very much looking forward to taking down the shingle that reads, “Marketing.” Self-promotion with no budget to do so has kept me very busy. Thanks to the kindness of book bloggers like you, Tricia, I have persisted to give Rarity from the Hollow the best shot possible in this highly competitive marketplace.

I have short stories in the works, and will be pressed to make the next deadline for a magazine that I have a strong interest in submitting. The next Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy, an almost forgotten town and the headquarters for an invasion of Earth by addiction to drugs – another satire. This novel has been almost ready for editing for quite some time but self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow has gotten in the way.

T: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Robert: I don’t feel competent to give advice to aspiring authors, but I will share a little common sense based on my observations of this marketplace. Don’t expect to be discovered overnight like you were Elvis singing on the front stoop of an apartment located in a low-income neighborhood. Before you publish, make sure that your work as been professionally edited, or as close to it as your finances will allow – not by a friend or anybody with whom you have a personal relationship. If published, to the extent possible, prevent generic one line reviews from being posted on Amazon – they always look like they were written by your friends and detract from other reviews that appear more legitimate. Commit to the long haul by keeping in mind that the majority of those entering the world of books stay there briefly and then drop out never to be heard of again. And, last, never buy a book review and don’t invest more than you can afford in anything. I’ve heard of aspiring authors placing themselves and their families at financial risk by becoming overcommitted to a book that they had written. Hard work pays off, but working smart has better outcomes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. The Advance Review Copy of Rarity from the Hollow received considerable praise through Robert learning about the world of books as a novice. The final edition was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert worked for this agency in the early ‘80s and stands by its good works. He continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group psychotherapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Connect with Robert Eggleton at the following links:

Purchase links for Rarity from the Hollow:

 

Please enjoy this selection from Rarity from the Hollow, selected by the author:

Excerpt from Chapter 13, “Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé”

Scene Prologue: At this point in the story, Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, is twelve years old. An android named DotCom (his name is a recurring pun throughout the novel) installed a port in her upper spine and has directly downloaded data into her brain for the last several years. His ship is hidden in a cave in the Woods behind the family’s house in the hollow. DotCom was sent to Earth to train and recruit Lacy Dawn to save the universe from an imminent threat, but was recalled due to slow performance. In this scene, DotCom has returned to Earth and Jenny, the mother, meets him for the first time.

*****

         …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn’s name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

I hear her voice. Why won’t she answer me? 

“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.

Nobody responded. The trees weren’t supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.

I will always love you guys. 

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.

Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 

Jenny looked to the left of the path.

There ain’t no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 

She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn’t exit and into a blue light that did.

“All right, you mother f**ker!”

“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you’re supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story).”

DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.

“Grrrrr,” emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn’s dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.

“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”

“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

Stay between them.

“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I’m old enough — like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend — what you call it — my fiancé.”

“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.

“MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”

Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

He ain’t got no private parts, not even a little bump.   

“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”

Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.

“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”

I will need much more training if I’m ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”

Jenny’s left eye twitched.

DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…

…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There’re a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain’t complained since the shots started — not even with an upset stomach.”

“He’s a doctor?” Jenny asked.

“What’s your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that’s different — even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”

“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.

“So?”

Mommy’s right. Maybe I need a different argument.

            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.

“What’s that?” Jenny asked.

She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

“Mommy, I’m so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn’t talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain’t had no chance to talk. All I know is that he’s home and I’m sooooo happy.”

“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that’s a good sign. Maybe she’s right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. Id better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.

“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition — the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.

They both glared at him.

“Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.

“Okay, Mommy.”

“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.

“I love you too,” DotCom said.

Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile — at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.

Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

*

Rarity from the Hollow is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B017REIA44

 

 

Categories: author interview, authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, books, interview, literary fiction, science fiction | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

New Release! DARKHAVEN Review and Author Interview

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Today, I’m over-the-moon excited to be a part of the DARKHAVEN release party!!! Not only did I read and review (and absolutely LOVE) the book, I managed to score an interview with author A.F.E. Smith! In addition to the interview and review, we’ve also got a scavenger hunt and giveaway. AND, there’s a Facebook party you are invited to join where you can win tons of prizes. So, without further rambling from me, allow me to introduce A.F.E. Smith…

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Hi, A.F.E. and welcome! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, Tricia, and thanks for having me! Hmm, a bit about me … well, I work as an academic editor during the day and a fantasy writer at night. Thus far I haven’t accidentally-on-purpose added a swordfight into a textbook about number theory, but I’m working on it. I’m also the mother of two children, who I refer to online as Small and Tiny, though they’re rapidly outgrowing those names. My favourite food is pasta, my favourite number is five and my favourite Beatle is George. And I’m sometimes a robin.

Please tell us about your new book, Darkhaven.

It’s a fantasy murder mystery. The main characters are a brother and sister, Myrren and Ayla Nightshade, who belong to a ruling family of shapeshifters. Their father is murdered, all the evidence points to Ayla being the culprit, and the book follows both of them as they work from different angles to try and figure out who really did it. Plus there are swords, pistols, lots of action, a bit of romance, a few plot twists here and there …

I just finished reading Darkhaven (check out my review below!) and it is phenomenal. Is there the possibility of a sequel in the future? 

Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, there is a sequel coming next year. Two, in fact. Book 2 is currently with the publisher and Book 3 is being written as we speak. Like Darkhaven, they are standalone stories, but some of the same characters will tie all the books together.

How in the world did you come up with the idea for the book?

It grew from the first scene – though at the time, my vague plot idea was a little different. I had one particular character in mind to be the villain, only it then occurred to me that the story would be much more interesting if that person wasn’t a villain at all. Sorry, I’m being a bit vague here to avoid spoilers (though since you’ve read it, you may be able to guess who I’m talking about!).

Overall, though, I think the core idea for this book was one of plot rather than of concept or setting or character. All those things are linked, but you have to have a seed to start them off – like the grit in the middle of a pearl (she says, blithely comparing her book to a pearl). In this case, the seed was very much a plot seed. The whole story hinges on the identity of the murderer, which I guess is typical for a murder mystery. Even a murder mystery hybrid.

Having said that, I think someone would enjoy the book even if they figured out the identity of the murderer straight away. The plot may have been the seed, but everything I write turns out to be about people more than anything – so it’s the relationships that matter, not the mystery.

I’m in awe of the intricate world you created. Where is Darkhaven and who is in charge?

Darkhaven itself is a tower at the heart of a capital city, Arkannen. The city is made up of seven concentric rings and Darkhaven is at the centre of the innermost. It is ruled by the Nightshade family, who have the hereditary ability to shift shape into certain powerful creatures – Firedrake, Unicorn and so on. Their country, Mirrorvale, is quite small and surrounded by larger neighbours, so one of its main protections is the existence of these fearsome and apparently indestructible creatures. As a result, the overlords of Darkhaven have become very focused on preserving the purity of their bloodline, and this causes problems for Myrren and Ayla in the book.

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As overlord, Myrren faces challenges early on. How does his internal conflict affect his approach to dealing with these challenges?

Myrren is a perfectionist and a people-pleaser, which stems from the fact that he was born without the shapeshifter gift of his bloodline. He has spent his entire life since he came of age trying to make up for what his father perceives as a fatal deficiency. So although – being the older child and the only son – he’s been brought up as his father’s heir, he doesn’t have much confidence in that role. And his father’s declared intention to disinherit him in favour of Ayla doesn’t help much.

What that does to him, of course, is leave him in a very unstable position when his father dies unexpectedly. He becomes overlord in name, but not in spirit. And so his battle is as much with himself as it is with any external obstacles he has to face.

Really, I see Myrren as being the perfect example of the devastating effect that parents can have on their children when they try to force them to be something other than who they are.

Ayla is another complicated character. What are her flaws and how do they make things worse for her?

Ayla is impetuous and argumentative, though I’m not sure she’d see those as flaws. She is far more outspoken than her brother; he tends to give in to their father, whereas she will always fight back. But she’s become so used to fighting that she doesn’t always recognise when someone is on her side. Nor is she very good at recognising the times when diplomacy would actually be a better approach. She digs in her heels and refuses to budge, and that stubbornness can exacerbate a situation.

I think she also comes across as judgemental and unfriendly, sometimes, but those flaws aren’t part of her true character. They’re part of the defences she put up after her mother’s death. Over the course of the book she begins to soften a bit and let her better nature creep back through.

Which character was easier to write? Who was the most challenging?

The easiest was probably Tomas Caraway, my failed Helmsman (bodyguard to the royal family) – because if I’m allowed to have a favourite character, he’s probably the one. There’s just something satisfying about writing the kind of personal redemption arc he goes through.

The hardest … Owen Travers, Captain of the Helm, who is in pursuit of Ayla to lock her up for her father’s murder. He does some awful things, but he’s not capital-e Evil. Very few people are. So although I don’t want readers to like him, I do want them to understand him a bit. It was rather like arguing passionately for a position I don’t believe in.

What projects are you currently working on?

The two books that follow Darkhaven come first for now, but I also have various other projects on the go. They include a more epic-style fantasy series, as well as a young adult series set in this world. Of course these other series have had to take a back seat while I focus on the Darkhaven books, but I hope to return to them before too long.

Where can readers go to find out more about Darkhaven?

I have a page about Darkhaven (the book) and a page about Arkannen (the setting) on my website. The latter includes the outline sketch of a map, which might be useful and/or fun if you like that kind of thing. There’s also a page for the Darkhaven blog tour.

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

And finally, if you’re interested in buying a copy of the book for the truly awesome price of $3.99/£1.99, here are a variety of links to choose from:

HarperCollins | Amazon (global link) | Barnes & Noble | Google play | iBooks | Kobo

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Book title: DARKHAVEN
Author: A.F.E. Smith
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: 2 July 2015 (ebook), 14 January 2016 (paperback)
Price: £1.99/$3.99 (ebook)

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

*****

My Review: When Ayla escapes captivity, she finds herself in greater danger than she ever imagined possible. She can’t return to Darkhaven – not without facing punishment for a crime she didn’t commit. Myrren, desperate to investigate his father’s murder and clear his sister’s name, finds more questions than answers. Ayla teams up with the person she swore she’d never forgive, while Myrren has to determine who he can and cannot trust as he endeavors to investigate a string of attacks. When the mystery is solved, the implications are shocking and one thing is certain- Ayla’s and Myrren’s lives will never be the same.

Amazing. That’s the only word I can think of to describe this book. From the moment I began reading, I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading the last half of the book in one sitting. Yes, it’s that good! This book has everything – fantasy, sword battles, mythical creatures, shapeshifting, and more. All these elements are blended together perfectly in the world Smith has created. When you add in the cast of well-written, believable, likable (and not-so-likable) characters, you’ve got the perfect combination, at least in my opinion. I’m a sucker for complicated, multifaceted characters, and that’s what I’ve found in this book.

I would recommend this book to just about everyone. There’s so much that sets this book apart and makes it wonderfully unique. You won’t find better world-building and you won’t find better characters. I can’t wait to read more from this author!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Want to follow the tour? 
Check out the Tour homepage: www.afesmith.com/darkhaven-blog-tour

Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: author interview, authors to watch, book launch, book release, book review, fantasy, interview | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Interview with Barbara G. Tarn

Today’s guest is Barbara G. Tarn, author of numerous novels and a contributor to the fantasy/horror anthology, Strange Portals which is currently free on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

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Welcome, Barb. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, my name is Barb, and I’m write-aholic. I’m so prolific that I’m using 3 pen names, although they’re not really necessary at this time… but I’m too lazy to get rid of those 12-15 titles each and put everything under the same name! So, the main pseudonym, Barbara G.Tarn, writes SFF. B.G. Hope writes contemporary stories and some urban fantasy. And Barbara Sangiorgio I keep for the stories set in Italy (at the moment still in Italian, but I plan on translating some soon) – I’m Italian, and I have a bilingual production.

When did you begin writing?

Last century, when I entered my teens. I had just come back to Rome after 8 years abroad in French-speaking countries and hated everything about Italy. So I started making up stuff and writing it down.

Can you tell us about your story (or stories) in the anthology, Strange PortalsWhat inspired you to write it?

I have two stories – Samantha’s Day by B.G. Hope, which shows my witch (responsible for a number of body switches) visiting her “victims” and then meeting the vampires of Amaranthine by Joleene Naylor. I plan to write her meeting with a Desi vampire sometimes this year. The other story, A Bloody Story of Vampires, is the only Barbara G.Tarn’s story that seemed to fit the theme of the anthology and isn’t tied to the rest of the production…. it’s one of my oldest written in English and I wrote it for a friend who had a fanzine (paper and photocopies…) in the late 1990s.

Please tell us about your other published work.

The main pen name has a number of books out, set on the world of Silvery Earth. It’s adult unconventional fantasy QUILTBAG friendly. Check the Silvery Earth page for suggestions on where to begin. The 25+ titles include a graphic novel as well (I’m a hobbyist artist, that’s why you can also find me on DeviantART).

What projects are you currently working on?9f4d8ab0f86d476adfa2983da6fe6a66ebfa0205

The other (shorter) series by Barbara G.Tarn is science fantasy. Star Minds has two books that came out in previous years, the brand new Star Minds Next Generation and I’m currently working on the companion of Next Generation for a March release. So I’m writing science fantasy for the whole of February, then I’ll decide if the Desi (and shirtless) vampire has his story ready to tell or I should go back to Silvery Earth (the New one). The new Silvery Earth is under the name of Barbara G.Tarn. The old Silvery Earth, where Samantha the witch lives (when she’s not wandering into other universes – books, movies, or alien planets), is under the pseudonym of B.G. Hope. But it’s the same person. The name is the same, the world is not.

Star Minds Next Generation is available on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Smashwords, and soon in print.

Do you have a book recommendation to share with us?

Amaranthine series by Joleene Naylor. I was stuck to Ann Rice’s vampires (Interview, Vampire Lestat and Queen of Damned) when I bumped into Jorick – it was love at first sight (but don’t tell Katelina)! And then Verchiel came along… but don’t tell him!

Excellent recommendation. I love the Amaranthine series. What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Just keep writing. Pour out that million words of crap and keep going. If you have the burning desire to tell stories, just do it!

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About the author:

Barbara G.Tarn is a writer, sometimes artist, mostly a world-creator and story-teller. She’s been building her world of Silvery Earth for a number of years – stories, comprise shorts, novels and graphic novels. Her novella “The Hooded Man” has received an Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future contest. Used to multiple projects (a graphic novel is always on the side of the prose), she writes, draws, ignores her day job and blogs at: http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com

B.G.Hope writes contemporary fiction, including M/M romance. It’s the pen-name for a very prolific author who likes to tackle different genres. She lives in Rome, Italy, and hates it.

Connect with Barb:

Blog https://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barb-aka-Barbara-GTarn/175559797281

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0050P0R2G

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4717133.Barbara_G_Tarn

DeviantART http://creativebarbwire.deviantart.com/

B.G. Hope on Author Central http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007A082TY and Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bghope

 

Categories: author interview, authors to watch, fantasy, Fantasy Anthology, interview, short stories, strange portals | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Interview with AK Stein

Today’s guest is AK Stein. She’s the author of several books and has a short story published in Strange Portals, which is now available for free on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

strange portals

Welcome, Anna. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sure. I am a retired life insurance agent and Bell Telephone operator. I am also a writer of many books since I was in the 3rd grade. I love to write. I have 15 books now published over on Amazon’s Kindle. I write under the name AK Stein in honor of my great grandmother.

I love animals, mostly horses, fish and dogs. When I was in high school, I had 9 aquariums going at the same time. All manner of fresh water fishes. I don’t know how my parents stood all that around the house. Mom would go around and just stare in at the fish. They do say watching fish is very calming. Maybe that’s what she liked.

I also had 3 Quarter horses, full bred. Loved riding them. That breed is the most laid back of them all, in my opinion. I’m pretty much the laid back type and so I got along with them very well.

Dogs, I’ve had most of my adult life. All not purebreds. Loved every one of them.

The rest of my story is in the following answers.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was in the third grade. I went to a Catholic elementary school called St Anne’s in New Castle, IN. The classes were taught by nuns. The nuns had set up a room to be like the public library so they could teach us how to use a library and I became enthralled with all the books. I read everything they had in there. Especially the books that were about animals and science fiction. It was then I began daydreaming about stories of my own. Only at that time I didn’t quite understand I was supposed to pay attention to my teachers while in class. I would stare out the windows, instead, and daydream my stories. Got in trouble for doing that but I did love what I was coming up with. Loved every minute of that.

Can you tell us about your story in the anthology, Strange Portals? What inspired you to write it?

My story in the anthology is called ‘The Hole’. It’s from a dream I had. One of my favorite authors is Mark Twain ( Samuel Clemens) I love his books “Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘Tom Sawyer’. So my manner of writing ‘The Hole’ was inspired by his manner of writing. But that story came from a weird dream I had one night, from which I woke up laughing. I couldn’t help it. And I never did figure out from where that dream came. Weird.

Please tell us about your other published work

I have 15 books published now on Amazon’s Kindle. Most are fantasy romance novels, but I am working on a collection of children’s books called ‘The Zeke Mayhill series’. I write under the name of AK Stein in honor of my great grandmother. My dad’s mom’s mom. I was named after her. I knew her for a short period of my early life before she died. She was a sweet lady. My fantasy romance books are the Full Moon series. It’s about a young lady, not a werewolf, who comes in contact accidentally with werewolves and falls in love with one of them. It’s a series of 6 books but I have now put them all together in one book called ‘The Full Moon Collection,’ also over at Kindle. It’s a rip roaring romance. I had a whole lot of fun writing it.

My anthology story is in a book with another story called ‘The Bull’. They’re 2 scary stories I also titled ‘Two Scary Stories.’  I had fun writing those, too.

The only non fiction book I wrote is titled, ‘Interview With the Ascended Masters.’ I put it together after a series of interviews with a spiritual medium named Calleen Wilder. She has the book on her website http://calleenwilder.com  and on Amazon Kindle. It’s a collection of answers to spiritual questions I had written down for years. I had 62 pages of them. Questions like ‘Why are we here’ and ‘Who really built the pyramids?’ I also asked about Mary Magdalene.

The reason I went with her is because my then sister-in-law had a reading done by her when my brother died. My sister-in-law was a nonbeliever in this sort of thing and I was, too, but her friend talked her into it. And the answers Calleen gave her blew away our disbelief. My sister-in-law called me right after her meeting, crying her eyes out while telling me about all the personal things Calleen told her that she shouldn’t have known. Things that were only between my sister-in-law and my brother. And then when I went to see Calleen, she identified the watch I brought as used to belong to my grandmother. It did. My father gave it to me when my grandmother died. Now how could Calleen know that?

Now Calleen will tell you herself that no psychic is 100% right 100% of the time. But some of the things she said would happen have, like England’s Stonehenge. She said a second such structure would be found on the other side of our planet. And one day, several years after we published the book, one woman who had bought it emailed Calleen and told her she saw a documentary on TV that said geologists had dug up another such structure in Figi, which is almost directly on the opposite side from England.

I don’t know very much about psychic abilitites, but Calleen simply blows my doubts away. I guess there are some people who can actually do that.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on 3 books now. One is the 4th book in the Zeke Mayhill series I’m titling ‘Ezekiel Mayhill and the Crystal of Leadership.’ A bunch of crystals will be found in this book, but whether or not they get back to the palace Diamondorn is another matter. This book is going to be packed with action.

Another book is a vampire romance in which our heroine falls in love with the vampire king but she doesn’t know he’s a vampire. And he doesn’t want to tell her for fear she’ll reject him for what he is. But he has to protect her because there is a faction within his kingdom who want to overthrow him. And they will kill her to get that done. This book’s title right now is ‘Moone’.

The 3rd book is about a dragon king ruling the creatures of the under world of Earth. They are all manner of magical beings who are suddenly producing shifter babies. This was planned a long time ago by the ancient Anasazi, but these beings don’t know what their plan was. But the shifter males cannot produce children with the non shifter females and so they are looking toward the humans living above ground. This is where the romance begins. The king is reluctant to do this, but he gets caught up in romance when a young human woman is brought down into his world. The struggle begins. I haven’t titled this book yet.

Do you have a book recommendation to share with us?

I have. Michael R. Hicks wrote 2 series that I absolutely love. One is the ‘In Her Name’ series. The other is the “Harvester’. I’m telling you, Hollywood needs to contact him. Can get these on Amazon’s Kindle.

Another author is Glen Soucy. His ‘Blood Tithe’ series. OMGoodness! Hollywood needs to contact him, too. He is crazy good. Can get his books on Kindle, also.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Oh this is an area I would love to get across to all writers. I have read many wonderful stories, loved the plotline and the characters. HOWEVER. . .those stories had so many typo’s and misspelled words and incorrect grammar and punctuation that they became aggravating. Kept jerking me right out of their stories. No reader wants to experience that. And I feel sure that, if the authors had read over what they had written, they would have found those mistakes and corrected them.

Now I am not saying I am without mistakes, myself. I have made mistakes, one being I misspelled the word ‘lightning.’ I actually thought there for a while it was spelled ‘lightening.’ How dumb was that? I have corrected that, though, and republished those books.

Making mistakes is natural, but you have to read over what you have written so you can catch them. I don’t believe a good many writers today do that. And one thing about it, it could be the reason why so many very good writers don’t make the best seller list more than once., if they do at all. There could easily be so many more favorite authors out there if they would just take the time to give their readers their very best. Their readers deserve that. Rant over.   🙂

That’s great advice. Where can readers go to connect with you on social media or to buy your books?

To find my books over at Amazon Kindle

My websites where you can find my books listed with their buying links:

http://www.annakstein.com

http://www.goldframeromance.com

http://www.magicalwriting.com

Magical Writing is where I have my children’s books, which includes the Zeke Mayhill series.

My Facebook page is under Anna K Stein.

My Twitter page is under AuntieHugs.

 

About AK Stein: 

Personal story.annpic53

Hi, guys.

I began my writing career as a 3rd grader. No kidding. Fell in love with the stories I read and so I started daydreaming. Made my teachers crazy because I much rather stared out the classroom window than listen to them. I mean I was IN LOVE with writing. My grades suffered in elementary school because I hadn’t yet learned to prioritize. But I got that cleared up by high school and so my grades improved. Considerably.

I wrote stories about animals at first. Mostly about horses. And mostly short stories that I was able to complete. I tried writing full length novels when I was still in elementary school but I was never able to finish them. I ran into roadblocks I couldn’t get over. But that was because I hadn’t learned yet how to research. Or that I was even supposed to research. I had always thought stories were things made up completely inside your brain because that was how the stories I read seemed to be. So easy to read. So then I went through a time when I thought I just wasn’t good enough to write stories. At least any that would be published anyway. But I kept writing because I couldn’t get stories out of my head until I wrote them down. And then I was able to breathe. Until the next story idea crept in.

But my writing urge is why I was an English major in high school and in college. I wanted to know exactly how I should write sentences and know exactly what words to use. And how to spell them correctly. Now I’m not saying I retained the knowledge of what each sentence type is called or what each type of word is called, either. What I have done, however, is retain the knowledge of how to write. And when I finished with all that education, I then found myself needing to come up with story ideas.

It wasn’t long when they started coming. And I mean entering my brain like a thunderstorm. Many thunderstorms. I have enough story ideas written down and some even outlined now to last me the rest of my life.

But I need to write them well. So I have been buying books on how to write and even have taken some online courses. You can never stop honing your craft.

So. . .30+ years ago, I wrote some books. Complete novels this time. Finished them, even. But recently I got them out to read again to see what I had and thought ‘There’s no way in this God’s universe am I going to let people read this crap.’ I mean. . .ohmygod!. Great story ideas, but the writing. . .ohmygod! And after all that education, too. So I edited. And edited. And thanked God I now had some decent writing information rolling around in my head to even be able to edit. I mean, my sentences were correct, I did retain that much learning, and my words were spelled correctly, but the writing was so stiff, so egghead, that it would have bored any reader within the first page. Probably the first paragraph. I needed to rewrite them so they wouldn’t be boring. And the result is now the books I have completed, which I have listed on my websites, http://www.goldframeromance.com  And http://www.magicalwriting.com  And more will be coming.

I write in the genres of fantasy and romance. Love those two. So I will be filling up my websites  with all my books. Enjoy.

 

Categories: author feature, author interview, children's books, Fantasy Anthology, interview, short stories, short story, strange portals | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Terry Compton

Today’s guest is Terry Compton, contributor to the fantasy/horror anthology, Strange Portals. You can read Terry’s short story, A Leprechaun’s Gift, for free on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?The Leprechaun's Gift

I was raised in SW Missouri.  I came to Montana in the Air Force and stuck around for the last forty-eight years.  I spent fourteen of those years in the Air National Guard.  I now own my own business where I make ornamental iron gates and railings.  I also install gate operators.  I like hunting and fishing and in the past drove my own stock car at the local track.  I have a few trophies sitting on my computer desk from that including one I didn’t really want to earn.  It was for the worst crash of the year.  Another driver clipped the back of my car and sent me into the wall.  I wound up upside down sliding down the track with most of the rest of the field coming up on me.  No one hit me but…  My wife of forty-eight years lives with me and a small dog who thinks she’s a short furry people.

When did you begin writing?

I started in 2009.  A friend of mine bought a sail boat down in Texas.  He spent a couple of years fixing it up then decided to sail across the Gulf of Mexico and up the inner-coastal waterway from Florida to close to Washington, DC.  He started writing short descriptions of his journey.  That triggered an idea in my head.  I’d had ideas about a couple of novels but never could get a good outline and character study done.  I sat down in May of 2009 with a beginning of a story and let the characters lead me.  In November, I published that first story.  I have over thirty short stories and novels published now.

strange portalsCan you tell us about your story (or stories) in the anthology, Strange PortalsWhat inspired you to write it?

My story in Strange Portals is about a leprechaun living in Montana.  My granddaughter was going through some rough times with friends.  Her complaints triggered an idea.  It wound up as the Leprechaun’s Gift.  Sometimes true friendship can be worth more than imaginary gold.

Please tell us about your other published work.

I write pretty much what pops in my head.  I have two different western series, two sci-fi series, a fantasy series and a stand-alone romantic mystery.  There’s a couple of thrillers in there and some spoofs of politics and everyday life.

What projects are you currently working on?Wanted Hunter

I’m in the process of editing the third book in my newest series Wanted and writing the fourth book.  The first book Wanted is free for a limited time on kindle, Smashwords and the other major retailers.

Do you have a book recommendation to share with us?

I like Lindsey Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge series.  One I’m enjoying now is MCA Hogarth’s Her Instruments series.  When I stop to think about it, I have a kindle reader full of books I’ve read in the last two years.  I just like to read.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

I think a couple of things I’ve learned from the local writers club.  One of the members speaks once a month on writing topics.  He’s been in the business for thirty plus years, so I think he knows what he’s talking about.  One of the things he said was to visualize your scene before you sit down at your computer.  Think about what the characters are doing, how they’ll be doing it, what it smells like, what the area looks like, in short make a movie of the scene in your head.  Then when you sit down, write the scene.  Don’t make any corrections until you have it all down.  The other good advice he gave was a picture of a dog sitting in a chair in front of the computer.  It said, “Sit!  Stay!”

Where can readers go to connect with you on social media or to buy your books?

My website is:  http://terrysbooks.com/  

My website has links to most of the retailers but here is a few:  Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble

Author Bio:

P7204661Terry Compton has raced stock cars, rode horses across the Scapegoat Wilderness, fished and hunted most of his adult life while trying to pay for these hobbies by working at several different jobs.  He is an Air Force veteran and served in the Air National Guard for several years.  Currently, he is the owner, chief welder and installer for an ornamental iron business.  Terry has made several award winning metal creations and is now turning this creativity to writing.

Terry loves to read.  Some of his favorite authors are Clive Cussler, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, Robert Heinlein, Louie L’Amour, Zane Grey and Anne McCaffery.  Newly found ‘indie’ authors with e-books he enjoys are Lindsay Buroker, Joseph Lallo, M. R. Mathias, Brian Rathbone, L. J. Sellers, Dana Stabenow and Luke Sky Wachter to name just a few.

Terry currently lives in Montana with his wife and a dog who thinks she is a short furry people.

 

Categories: action, author interview, fantasy, Fantasy Anthology, interview, short stories, short story, strange portals, thriller, westerns | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Kay Kauffman

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Kay Kauffman. Kay is a talented author and poet, and a contributor to the fantasy/horror anthology Strange Portals which is free on Smashwords, Nook, and Kindle.

strange portals

Welcome, Kay. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Me?  Well, I love flowers.  I love looking at them, I love smelling them, I love photographing them.  I do not, however, love growing them.  When I’m put in charge of plants, they have a tendency to die.  It’s not even a mystery how – either they drown or they die of thirst.  There’s no happy medium.  The only plant I’ve managed to keep alive for any length of time is a philodendron my husband gave me when I returned to work three years ago after the birth of our youngest son, and the only reason it’s still hanging out in the land of the living is because I’m not in charge of watering it.

Also, apparently philodendrons are impossible to kill.  I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere about writing and life, but I’m too tired to try and dig it out.  Mom brain: It’s a real thing. 😉

When did you begin writing?

You know, I was actually thinking about this just this morning.  I’d been reading about another author’s writing journey and it got me thinking about my own.  I really don’t remember a time when I didn’t write.  I’ve been at it at least since the second grade, when my mom bought me that super-cool holographic diary from the school book order.  But what prompted me to actually start writing – whether in that totally awesome diary or not – is anybody’s guess.

Can you tell us about your story in the anthology, Strange Portals? What inspired you to write it?

I first wrote “Christmas Spirit” as part of a flash fiction challenge on Authonomy back in 2011.  I wrote a lot of flash fiction that year, and a lot of it was different from what I typically write, which made it a fun little experiment.  I decided to keep it going with this story by combining Christmas with supernatural elements.  I knew I wanted to keep it light, though, so the whole thing was a real challenge – I’d never done anything like it.

When the idea for Strange Portals came along, I thought of “Christmas Spirit” immediately.  I hadn’t looked at it in years, and the anthology it was originally meant for never made it off of Autho, despite plans to release it into the wild.  I thought, “Why not?”  It needed a couple rounds of editing and a bit of polish, but once that was done, I sent it off hoping it would fare well among the vampires, zombies, and witches.

Please tell us about your other published work.

Another of my flash fiction pieces from that year appears in 416, which you can find on Smashwords.  Each story in the book is only 416 words long – writing a complete story in so few words was really hard, but also a heck of a lot of fun.  I also have some stories in A World of Their Own, which will be out later this year.

And I write poetry.  Tuesday Daydreams: A Journal in Verse debuted in 2012 in print and e-formats and is currently on sale for $1.50 at Amazon and Smashwords (just use coupon code FE67Z at checkout) in honor of my birthday, which was yesterday.  Sale ends Monday!

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently in the middle of prepping another poetry book for release.  A follow-up to Tuesday Daydreams, it’s entitled A Song for All Seasons, and I hope to have it ready to go by March.  I’m also in the midst of rewriting my first fantasy novel, The Price of Mercy, which I hope to send back out into the query trenches this year.  It’s the first book in a planned series, and I think I’m even more excited about it now than I was when I “finished” writing it back in 2010.

Yes, I know – I write slow.  I’ve had these books in the works for a decade, so when they finally come out, they’re gonna be awesome. 🙂

Do you have a book recommendation to share with us?

Just one?  But…but I have a whole stack of books I could recommend!  Oh, very well – I’ll recommend Darkhaven by A.F.E. Smith.  It’s not out yet (sigh), but I’ve been awaiting its release for ages and I can’t wait to get my hot little hands on it this summer!

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

I’d have to say make friends in the writing community.  There’s nothing like the company of other writers to help you hold onto your sanity and weather the myriad ups and downs of the publishing business.  Plus, they’re usually good for coffee, chocolate, and inspiration when you can’t sleep in the middle of the night.

That’s excellent advice, Kay. Where can readers go to find you on social media?

You can find me in the all the usual places:

At my blog, where I share random pictures and silly poems; on Facebook, where I share things about cats and books; on Twitter, where I share whatever pops into my head; on Pinterest, where I share delicious recipes and images from my fantasy world; on Instagram, where I share pictures of pretty sunsets; and on Tumblr, where I share all of the above.

Author Bio:wpavi

As a girl, Kay dreamed of being swept off her feet by her one true love.  At the age of 24, it finally happened…and he’s never let her forget it.  A mild-mannered secretary by day and a determined word-wrangler by night, she battles the twin evils of distraction and procrastination in order to write fantastical tales of wuv…twue wuv…with a few bad haiku thrown in for good measure.

She is currently hard at work on the first book in a fantasy trilogy.  Kay resides in the midst of an Iowa corn field with her devoted husband and his mighty red pen; four crazy, cute kids; and an assortment of adorably small, furry animals.

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Tuesday Daydreams: A Journal in Verse by Kay Kauffman

tdsw

Natural poetry at its finest.

Capturing the life and imagination of the author in vivid detail, these poems touch on joy and loss, life’s everyday hassles, and the many faces of Mother Nature.

Createspace

Amazon (paperback)

Amazon (Kindle)

Amazon UK (paperback)

Amazon UK (Kindle)

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Nook

Kobo

Tuesday Daydreams: A Journal in Verse debuted is currently on sale for $1.50 at Amazon and Smashwords (just use coupon code FE67Z at checkout).  Sale ends Monday!

Categories: author interview, authors to watch, fantasy, interview, paranormal, poetry, short stories, strange portals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Interview with Seumas Gallacher

Today, we’re celebrating the re-release of Seumas Gallacher’s novel, SAVAGE PAYBACK. I first met Seumas on his excellent blog. If you’re not already a follower, I suggest you subscribe. I’m happy to have Seumas here today to answer a few questions. Before we begin the interview, let’s have a look at SAVAGE PAYBACK:

front view SP

A series of coordinated lethal bomb attacks on a dozen jewelry stores in London’s West End drag former SAS officer, Jack Calder and his specialist security firm, International Security Partners, into a deadly mesh of murder and international drug running.

A black ops explosives expert, an ex-colleague turned renegade mercenary with a twisted lust for revenge, emerges from the past to join forces with a powerful and dangerous drug baron from Eastern Europe.

A major cocaine trafficker from South America compounds the threats as competitive turf issues straddle international territories.

Attacks close to home heighten the urgency for Calder and his team to find and deal with each of the three sinister adversaries in a final savage payback.

Available on Amazon:  US  |  UK  |  Canada  |  Australia 

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Welcome, Seumas. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Bought my first ever laptop about 6 years ago to start typing the first Jack Calder crime thriller, one finger from each hand, which is still how I work. Just realised one day it was about time to give myself a kick in the butt and get on with writing a novel, any novel, just so I could say I’d done it. Now I can’t see myself not writing, either the novels and/or the blog.

Born Scottish, but travelled internationally in career spanning five decades and three continents. LUVVED every minute of it, and still do.

When did you begin writing?

Apart from the usual teenage scribbling of some poetry and short stories, I never got going until six years ago. I think the wait has lent a lot more depth and life experience to contribute to the credibility of my quill-scraping.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

SAVAGE PAYBACK is the third in the series of a trio of former SAS commando officers who set up their own specialist security firm. During the protection of their clients interests , they rub up against international crime lords, drug pedlars, people traffickers, money launderers and more nice guys like that. They indulge their black operations skills in dealing with the various villains.

How did you get the idea for the book?

I was a corporate troubleshooter for many years. One of my engagements in the Far East required the constant use of an armoured car and armed body guards. They had been trained by a former SAS officer. That’s where the ideas stemmed from.

If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?

How can you ask any literary parent to choose amongst their wee babies? I genuinely like all of them. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

All the main characters have their unique attractions for me, but one minor character appeared in the first novel, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY. He‘s Rico, a South American ‘facilitator’ for stuff  the main guys need in pursuit of the bad guys. He’s funny, but smart, and I hated having to write him out (I didn’t kill him, so he may return at some later stage).

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Learning the basics about pace, balance, and relevance of the content in the narrative. Making the story ‘breathe’ by understanding the difference between passive and active technique.

What is your primary goal as an author?

As a writer, I want to continue to enjoy the buzz I’ve enjoyed since starting this entire trip. As a businessman, on the commercial side, like most authors, I wouldn’t say no to multi-million book sales, and a TV series and a Hollywood script!

What projects are you currently working on?

The fourth Jack Calder story in the series, KILLER CITY, is current Work-in-Progress, but I have ideas fomenting already for the fifth book.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Start right now to develop a strong presence on the social networks, particularly tying your channels in through an Author’s blog, and continue to do that regularly. Write, write, read, write, write. Enjoy it!

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About Seumas Gallacher:

profileSeumas Gallacher was born in Clydeside, Govan in Glasgow and spent his formative teens in the idyllic Scottish Hebridean island of Mull. His career as a banker took him from Scotland to London for ten years and thence on a further  twenty-five year global odyssey through Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines in Asia. Along the way he metamorphosed into a corporate troubleshooter and problem solver. He came to the United Arab Emirates for a month in 2004 and has remained in Abu Dhabi ever since.

A late discoverer of the joys of writing, his first two novels, The Violin Man’s Legacy and Vengeance Wears Black have sold more than 70,000 copies. The third in the Jack Calder series, Savage Payback was launched in late 2013.

Seumas has become a strong proponent of the use of the social networking channels to reach and engage with a global readership market in the new age of self-publishing and eBooks. Seumas is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on how to develop productive online relationships. He was voted Blogger of the Year 2013.

Connect with Seumas:

Blog : seumasgallacher.com
Twitter : @seumasgallacher
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/seumasgallacher
Email : seumasgallacher@yahoo.com

AMAZON LINKS for SAVAGE PAYBACK:

UK amzn.to/1CHhw01

US amzn.to/15zUsD9

Canada amzn.to/1yXWRli

Australia bit.ly/1yGJ5ok

 

Categories: action, author interview, authors to watch, book launch, book release, interview, thriller | Tags: , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Interview with Neil Stenton

Today’s guest is Neil Stenton, author of Saving Carrie. He’s here to speak with us about his new novel, his work in progress, and his advice to new authors. Before we begin the interview, let’s take a look at the cover and blurb for Saving Carrie

saving_carrie_coverWhen James and Carrie Mitchell arrived from England for a holiday in New York City they didn’t expect to be dragged into a world they had no experience of. But they had little choice.

After preventing the murder of a high profile witness in a major crime trial, events quickly spiral out of their control; placing both their lives in danger. With Detective Sam Burcell and the rest of the NYPD High Profile Operations Unit coming under pressure from within their own ranks, and struggling to keep control of the situation and the trial on track, James has to face the supreme test; one with far reaching consequences and which will change his life forever.

Neil Stenton’s debut novel, Saving Carrie, will take you on a thrilling journey with twists and turns at every corner. As events race to a conclusion, the stakes get raised and no one can be trusted, it asks the ultimate question. If it were you, how far would you go to save the life of someone you love?

Welcome, Neil. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m 49 years old, married with 2 cats and I live in Yorkshire. I’m a civil servant and have been for 30 years, but on top of that I’ve also worked in retail and I spent 3 years with the Royal Air Force Reserves where I rose to the heady heights of Corporal.

I enjoy reading (mostly crime fiction – my own genre, but also bios and history – mainly 20th century USA), films and travel.

When did you begin writing?

I guess I’ve always written to some extent. I studied part time whilst working, and gained a degree in social science and social history so there was a lot of essay writing involved there. It was during that time that I had the idea to try my hand at something much larger, a novel. Over the next few years ideas came to mind and I found that they would actually string together and make a believable story. That set me off once my studies had finished and my first novel, Saving Carrie, was born from that.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

I guess you could call it a fish out of water novel mixed with a plain old police procedural (along the lines of NYPD Blue, CSI, Law and Order). It centres around an English couple on holiday in New York who get caught up in a major crime trial. Things go from bad to worse for them and there seems to be only one way out.

How did you get the idea for the book?

Saving Carrie came about from a ‘what would happen if?’ question which hit me whilst we were on holiday in New York. We watch a lot of American crime TV and I read a lot of crime fiction. With the sights and sounds of the city all around I wondered what would happen if I got caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time. How would that work out, what would I do, what would happen etc. Matching that question to the police TV shows lead me to the basics of my story.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

It would have to be the lead detective, Sam Burcell. He’s one of the main characters and most of the viewpoint is from his angle. I based him on Kiefer Sutherland for no other reason than I needed a picture of him in my head, and he was the closest to the vision I had.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Because it’s based in another country I don’t have the ‘on the ground’ knowledge. A lot of research, other than from memory of being there myself on holiday, came from books, maps, leaflets, photographs and good old Google maps! Ideally I’d have preferred to walk the streets where the story is based, if only to make sure I had the flow of traffic heading in the right direction. Someone, somewhere, would spot that I’m sure. I used quite a lot of famous NYC landmarks and again I’d have preferred to go and look again at them, just to get the finer details nailed down. But I eventually realised that I shouldn’t get too worried about the very fine details. It was the narrative that was important, and making it believable.

What is your primary goal as an author?

To make sure that whoever buys my work not only enjoys it, but recommends it to others and then comes back for more. There are a lot of independent authors out there, all fighting to be recognized, I’m just a small fish in a very large pool. I certainly don’t expect it to make me rich – but would love to be proved wrong.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m almost at the end of my first draft of the follow up to Saving Carrie. The new one starts as the first one ends, and whilst it’s not important to read the first beforehand it does set the characters out as it uses the same team of detectives (the NYPD High Profile Operations unit – a ficticious squad I created) but in a new case. I’m hoping to keep interest going by building a series of novels around them.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Don’t think about it, do it. And don’t worry too much about the detail, just get the story out of your head and onto paper, the detail comes later. I think it was Hemingway who said the first draft of anything is usually crap, that’s very true – but at least it’s a first draft and you can work on it from there. The hard part is starting, once you’ve started you’re half way there (well almost).

Where can my readers go to learn more about your work? 

My website is www.neilstenton.com – a work in progress at present but it will be developed shortly to provide more details, a blog and promotion for book two.

Twitter – @neil_sten

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Neilstenton/174921702697483?fref=ts

Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Saving-Carrie-Neil-Stenton-ebook/dp/B00FIMVLHQ/

Kobo is – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/saving-carrie

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/7341968.Neil_Stenton

Where can readers buy Saving Carrie?

It’s available as an ebook for Kindle, Kobo and any tablet that has a suitable app on it. The links can be found on my website www.neilstenton.com or you can go direct to the Amazon or Kobo websites.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo0243 - CopyNeil Stenton was born in Sheffield, England, in 1965. He has worked in the retail trade and served three years with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force during the early 1990’s. He’s been a Civil Servant since 1985 where he currently works in communications.

Saving Carrie is his first novel and he’s currently working on his second which he hopes to release in mid 2015. It will also feature the detectives of the NYPD High Profile Operations Unit.

Married to Elaine since 1994 they live in Yorkshire with their two cats.

 

Categories: action, author feature, author interview, crime novels, interview, police procedural | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Andrew Nelson

Today’s guest is Andrew Nelson, author of three published novels including Perfect Pawn:

Patricia Ann Browning didn’t see the deer standing in the middle of the road until it was too late, not that it would have mattered.

For retired NYPD Detective, James Maguire, the pieces of his life were finally starting to fall into place. He was running his own lucrative private security firm catering to Fortune 500 companies and had just met Melody Anderson, a highly successful business woman from Long Island’s posh enclave of Southampton. Everything, it seemed, was looking up. That was until the morning newscast reported that his former high school flame was missing from a one car accident on a rural country road in upstate New York.

Arriving back in his old hometown Maguire must come to terms, not only with his past, but the fact that no one seems interested in pursuing the investigation into Patricia Browning’s disappearance, including the missing woman’s husband, the local sheriff.

As Maguire struggles to put the clues together in time, he is drawn deeper into a game where people are as expendable as pieces in a chess game and the only goal is to take down the king. A crown Maguire unwittingly wears.

Welcome, Andrew. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I’m married to an amazing woman, Nancy, and we have four adult children. I was born and raised in the Queens section of New York City and spent twenty years with the NYPD before retiring in 2005. We moved out west, to Central Illinois, and I enjoyed retired life for a bit, but then I started to get restless. I went back into law enforcement in 2010 and spent two years as the chief of corrections for a local sheriff’s department. In 2012 I re-retired and my wife encouraged me to try my hand at writing. My first book, Perfect Pawn, was released in 2013 and I followed that up in 2014 with the release of the sequel, Queen’s Gambit.

When did you begin writing?

The first time I began writing was when I wrote the original chapter of Perfect Pawn back in 2000. It actually started out as a dare from my wife. Both of us are avid readers. One evening she commented that writing a book must be very hard. Silly me responded that I didn’t believe it was. My reason for this belief was that I’d just spent the last decade writing investigatory reports on criminal investigations. After the first dozen or so you looked for ways to keep the reader’s attention. The thesaurus and I became quick friends. You also have to recall a lot of details from the scene. Writing for me is like watching a movie in my mind. I see the scene play out and then I write it. At the time, she encouraged me to continue writing, but then 9/11 occurred and our lives were thrown into upheaval for a few years.

Can you tell me a little bit about your books?

My debut novel, Perfect Pawn, features a retired NYPD detective, James Maguire, as the protagonist. I grew up reading novels, by authors such as Tom Clancy and Frank Herbert, which had rich character development. In Perfect Pawn, Maguire returns to his childhood home to help search for his missing high school sweetheart, only to find that no one, not even her husband, who is the county sheriff, is interested in finding her. Soon Maguire realizes that her disappearance was just the opening move in a much larger game and that the next target might just be him. Queen’s Gambit takes place a short time later, and brings Maguire back in a new role and facing an even greater threat. In writing the characters I developed a deep affinity for each of them, so the series has been an opportunity for me to expand them and show them in a variety of situations, good and bad.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

My latest novel, Small Town Secrets, is a departure from my James Maguire series. The books protagonist is Alex Taylor, a former NYPD sergeant, who was forced to resign from the department do to a drinking problem and ends up as the chief of police in a small New Hampshire town. When a woman’s body turns up in the Lake, Taylor begins to think the murder might have been a cover-up for the towns much bigger secret. This book actually started as a short story, which I was going to release in between the Maguire books. When my wife, who is always my first beta reader, read the book she fell in love with the dysfunctional Taylor and asked me to expand the story. So it went from Novella to Novel, and I have just begun work on the sequel.

How do you get your ideas for your books?

One thing that cops have, are stories. Some are funny, most are sad, and others you even keep to yourself. But in the middle of that is a whole host of ideas and characters. A lot of people have asked how much of Maguire is me and I say that he is a composite of myself and others. A lot of the situations, and locations he finds himself in, are based on things that happened in real life. This is true for some of the other characters as well. However, moving forward, the characters will definitely morph into new roles and relationships based on the unfolding storyline.

If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?

It would have to be Perfect Pawn, because I think if you miss that one, you miss a lot of the backstory on James and the other characters. As I said earlier, I’m a big proponent of characters with depth. Too often I have read stories where I go, I really like that character and would love to know more, and yet the author lets them languish. Perfect Pawn lets you know the reasons why certain things occur later.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

That’s really tough. I think between Maguire and Taylor I have two great protagonists who bring two completely different personalities to the table. Maguire is the calm, cool and collected professional and Taylor is more the sarcastic, edgy type, struggling to overcome their demons, and operating in what I call that ‘gray’ zone.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Not knowing where I was going (Laugh). When I did the original chapter it was just painting a particular scene. That was easy. When I began to write the actual book I had something like: His love goes missing, he tracks her down, saves her, and they live happily ever after, the end. It was a romantic notion, but let’s just say that it didn’t work out so well. Being a cop, I know firsthand that real life is often very cruel. So I took a step back and thought what if the white knight doesn’t make it in time, or what if the bad guy wins. Then I began to write the story that ultimately made it into print.

What is your primary goal as an author?

First and foremost is to write a story that elicits a strong response from the readers. The last thing I want is a lukewarm reader. You can love a character or hate a character, but I want there to be that emotion. It’s my goal to have you pick-up one of my books and the next time you look its two o’clock in the morning. I want it to be a struggle between reading the book all night and having to get up for work the next day.

What projects are you currently working on?

Well, I just finished the rough version of the 3rd Maguire book and will be going back over it to tweak the story line a bit and add some additional dialog on some secondary character. I’m just started working on the 2nd Taylor novel, which I am very excited about. Changing back and forth between the two different protagonists allows me to clear my mind between books and come back refreshed.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Write! I know that may sound overly simplistic, but so many people have great ideas for stories and yet never put pen to paper. Will everyone love your work? No, but you’ll find your niche if you persevere. I have a copy of a letter that was written to Paul Hewson back in 1979 from an executive at RSO Records. They informed him that the demo tape he sent was ‘not suitable’ for their company. I don’t know what the record executive over at RSO is doing these days, but I certainly know what Hewson, you may know him as Bono from the group U2, is doing.

To learn more about Andrew Nelson and his work, please visit the following links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Andrew_G_Nelson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrew-Nelson/168310343376572

Website: http://andrewgnelson.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7377210.Andrew_G_Nelson

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-G.-Nelson/e/B00G7T0LTI/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/andrew-g.-nelson

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Interview with Michelle Lam

Today, we’re visiting with author, Michelle Lam. She’s here to tell us about her new novel, The Accidental Prophetess.

Q: Welcome, Michelle. Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A: I’m a book-loving chocoholic English teacher from Canada. Right now I’m a part-time stay-at-home-mom of two little kids, and a part-time English teacher to a rowdy group of 6th graders. I love to travel, and have taught English in Thailand and Indonesia, and am currently living in Vietnam.

When did you begin writing?

I have always loved a good story. I grew up on a strawberry farm and when I was younger, my sister and I used to tell stories to one another to make the time go faster when we were picking berries. I have a folder of first chapters on my computer, but this is my first full-length novel.

Can you tell us about The Accidental Prophetess?

I’d love to! Natalie Richards (27) knows how to make a video go viral. It’s her job, after all. But when she’s fired over her latest video — an ad for dish soap, of all things — she complains. Loudly. In public. It’s not her fault that those words were written down decades earlier. Within minutes she’s abducted, whisked underground, and proclaimed to be a long-lost prophet destined to save the world. The threats against world peace are real. But then again, so is the need to breathe fresh air and have a decent haircut. Not to mention the two deliciously handsome men that seem to have secrets of their own. A cult is a cult, no matter how sexy the head of security might be … right?

How did you get the idea for the book?

 

I was wondering how prophets discover their gifts. I mean, really, how does it happen? Do they just know that they are prophets? Unless there was some sort of secret society monitoring communications, and that society was looking for a prophet to be their leader…

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

I think Carla is my favourite. She’s not really a main character – she’s Natalie’s roommate. She’s featured a lot, though. I love her because she’s tough and she’s had a hard life, but she is fiercely loyal and funny to boot!

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

I had trouble (still have trouble, actually) turning off my internal editor’s voice. Eventually it’s time to publish your book, but you still think that you could just tweak it one more time …

What is your primary goal as an author?

I want to write books that are light-hearted, funny, and clean.

What projects are you currently working on?

Secrets, secrets! All I can say is that my next novel is going to involve graduate school, a library assistant, and a plot to cause a not-so-natural disaster.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Make friends with other writers. Join a critique group, and learn from the people who have gone before you. I know I’ve learned so much from others who have gone before me.

Please enjoy this excerpt from The Accidental Prophetess:

“I’d been holding my breath for a long time. I know how these things go. Okay, in retrospect, I realize that all of this knowledge has been gleaned from spy novels and CSI shows. But still, knowledge is knowledge. A girl gets abducted. Put in a car. Then there’s a damp rag held over her mouth. She slumps and wakes up in the trunk. Or doesn’t wake up at all. I put that thought quickly out of my mind and pressed my lips firmly together. When the rag came, I would pretend to faint, and then when the car stopped, I’d make a run for it. It was a decent plan, considering the circumstances.

“We haven’t used the chloroform rag since child locks were invented,” said the neckless hulk of a man squashed in on my left. “You can breathe normally.” His partner snorted, but regained his composure quickly.

I let out my breath as nonchalantly as I could and devoted my time instead to memorizing our route. We were rolling through Manhattan behind tinted windows. I needed a Plan B. I dismissed the thought of trying to get help — the windows were too dark for anyone to see inside, and I doubted trying to wrench a door open would work. So I stared intently out the window, committing everything to memory. After several turns I was hopelessly lost. I’ve lived here for two years, but I’ve spent the best part of those two years in front of my computer, setting up media marketing campaigns for my job.

My name is Natalie Richards. I am a marketing executive and I am really good at my job. Too good, actually, because I got fired today right after my latest video — an advertisement for dish soap, of all things — went viral. But I’d known my video would be good. It had just the right amount of sarcasm and pop culture references. Sometimes you just know when things are going to turn out, you know? I had maneuvered my boss to sign an agreement beforehand into giving me a large percentage of the advertising space. He wanted the ad space now that the video was viral, so he fired me. I fully intend to fight him on that one, but first I need to get out of this car.

“I kinda miss the damp old rag,” the man to the left was saying. “Delivering people now is getting boring. I feel like a taxi driver.”

“Taxi drivers don’t usually poke guns into people’s ribs,” I said, before thinking to check my tongue.

“That’s true. But most people don’t try to stun gun me.”

“Really?” I was genuinely surprised. When I had moved here from Rochester at least three people had told me to carry one for protection in the big bad city. “Why not?”

 
Grab a copy of The Accidental Prophetess:
Find out more about Michelle Lam here:
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