Archive for the 'Action/Adventure' Category
Monday, May 6th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Catherine E. McLean to Highlighted Author.
Catherine E. McLean is a multi-published author of Women’s Starscape Fiction. She enjoys a story where characters are like real people facing real dilemmas, where their journeys are among the stars and solar systems, and where there’s always a satisfying ending.
Her background is in journalism, editing, and creative writing. She’s also a writing instructor and workshop speaker (both online and in person—www.WritersCheatSheets.com). She was awarded Pennwriters 2010 Meritorious Service Award and is a member of Amazons, Broad Universe, Romance Writers of America, and the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter of RWA.
She lives in rural Western Pennsylvania in a rambling old farmhouse with her husband.
Welcome, Catherine. Please tell us more about yourself and your featured book.
In the interest of brevity, I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a long-time 4-H leader, a horsewoman (Morgan Sport Horses), and I enjoy sewing clothing and costumes. I’m also a good amateur photographer—my favorite subjects are flowers and nature.
As to my writing? I wrote my first short story in third grade, but writing was never more than something I did as a hobby. Yet, writing played a role in the jobs I held, first as a secretary, then as a freelance journalist. All of those on-the-job skills made it easy to transition into an author who sold articles and short stories.
And then, as fate would have it, I signed the contract with Soul Mate Publishing for my first novel, KARMA AND MAYHEM, on February 14, 2012, Valentine’s Day, and the book was published in September.
Nearly every story I write has romance, or a romantic element, in it. And there are, for me, two premises for that romance. The first is a Chinese proverb that says: “A great lover is not one who romances to different women every night. A great lover is one who romances one woman for a lifetime.” In essence, the heroes I write about have to arrive at that conclusion when they find their soul mate.
As for my heroines, they follow a different adage—that love isn’t love until you let it go and it comes back to you. In KARMA AND MAYHEM, Janay battles with her feelings for Tienan, but she also believes love is worth the heartache and that love is more powerful than death.
So, writing a romance becomes a challenge. It means making sure the situations the hero and heroine face are realistic, believable, and compelling enough that the two must stay together, fight the attraction that assails them, and fall in love.
Which often means asking questions like: why these two people? How are they opposites (after all opposites attract)? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What does she lack that he has? What does he have that she lacks? What are their core values? Their “sins?” Their virtues? And most of all, what do they fear that is a fear worse than death?
And then there is the premise of the story. In the case of KARMA AND MAYHEM, the premise was: what would happen if a man had two souls? Which led to: who would the second soul belong to and what would keep that soul from transcending to heaven (or hell)?
Well, obviously, anyone with two souls would have karma issues, and that led me to thinking about reincarnation and “enlightenment,” particularly because romance and love can be very enlightening.
For Tienan, the hero of KARMA AND MAYHEM, a warlock of Hautonne society, a man with a powerful symbiote-veed that gives him extraordinary powers, that enlightenment was to forgo his biases against Janay, a mere citizen, a “common” woman.
But Janay is not a common woman. She’s gutsy, opinionated. And she has preconceived notions about rich men and warlocks like Tienan. She also must battle the prejudices of her upbringing and the Incident in the Valley of Rathe.
By the end of the book, Janay and Tienan fall in love while thwarting witches and demons. Only the story isn’t over yet because Rowen, who is Tienan’s brother, is to have his own story and a love who will understand the trauma he experienced in KARMA AND MAYHEM.
KARMA AND MAYHEM is a quick-paced story that has received 4.5 star reviews and a Night Owl Top Pick Review.
“I thought this book was a wonderful work of fiction. The off world setting and mysteries kept the story interesting. And the subplot of an Ancient Japanese Samurai warrior and weapons gave the book a total new prospective from what I usually read. Ms. McLean has a smooth hand in weaving plots together and characters to make for an enjoyable book. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters in the book but my favorite were Janay and Tienan. These two characters where strong without being mean but soft and believable when needed in the story. Hopefully some of the other characters will get their own books if our author decides to continue to another book. I really enjoyed this book and I am sure you would too if you read romance or paranormal books.” – Lisa Jung, The Night Owl Reviews Team, 3/18/2013
KARMA AND MAYHEM
He’s a warlock with two souls and karma issues. She’s mayhem personified.
Tienan is a warlock and a lawman determined to solve a series of diabolical murders. An incident in his youth gave him a terror of death and made him fear his birthright soul, an energy symbiote called a veed which gives Tienan extraordinary skills. Hosting that veed has also contributed to Tienan’s failed relationships with women and convinced him true love doesn’t exist.
Janay is an ex-militia woman down on her luck who is haunted by personal demons, and real ones. When she rescues Tienan’s brother, Tienan considers her a gutsy but semi-deranged commando. She’s audacious and unconventional, but with all she’s been through in her life, it rankles that she still believes in true love.
So can Tienan accept and trust in his love for Janay, embrace the power needed to wield an Executioner’s Katana, and defeat a triad of murderous witches intent on immortality?
I have no means; I make Docility my means.
—The Samurai Creed
Janay rose out of the fog of slumber so deep, so peaceful that she hated to surface, but the jostling and undulating of the mattress beneath her sent pain radiating from her rebuilt hip. Was she on a troop carrier? Opening her eyes, she beheld a black velvet canopy draped over the ebony wood posters of a medieval-sized bed.
Where was she?
Panting grunts were followed by hot breath on her lower belly. The terror of rape lightninged through her, and she faintly whispered, “Poke!” The dirk didn’t come into her hand, but the jostling stopped.
“Trond!” a male voice said.
She lowered her gaze to find Poke’s hilt protruding from a mass of long dark brown hair that semi-veiled a man’s face. Poke’s blade tip held steady against the man’s Adam’s apple. The man was on all fours, fully dressed in a midnight-blue turtleneck and matching knit pants, the uniform of a Guardian of the Law.
“It’s okay,” the irate man said. “I’m dressing you. Putting clothes on you, not off. Tell your screwy dagger to back off.”
There was something familiar about the voice. “Why are you dressing me?”
“We’re going to the hospital. Thought you’d prefer wearing something instead of being nude.”
Hospital! She elbow-ratchet herself up. “No hospital. Poke!”
The blade was instantly in her palm. She grasped the dirk, twisted her wrist and arm, then rapped Poke’s hilt to the side of the man’s head.
“Ow!” He reared back from the blow and rocked onto his heels. He swore unintelligible words and rubbed his injury. “Put that thing away.”
She held Poke tighter and scooted backward, wincing from the pain of her protesting hip and feeling a twitch where the tormantrata had clawed her back. She soon came up against the solid, carved dragon relief on the headboard. Sitting up, she felt the coolness of fabric against her skin. She wore black silk pajamas. Men’s pajamas. And skom, the man glaring at her looked familiar. Such dark features . . . the shadow of a beard . . . Tienan? Yes. His name was Tienan and he was—he was—? The GOOL!
She quickly panned the room from right to left. Black walls. Ebony enameled furniture, Japanese styling. Lighting fixtures hidden behind crown molding. Short black velvet curtains covering high windows above a desk-computer terminal. In the corner, an upholstered black velvet, wingback chair. Everything deathly dark. Demon warlock dark.
Poke wiggled out of her hand and vanished.
Why had the blade abandoned her? She glanced about the room again. Quiet. As restful as night . . . Maybe Poke thought she wasn’t in danger anymore? “This place could use some color.” Had she just said that?
Tienan stared at her. In his stony-gray eyes, patience warred with uncertainty. “I rest better in the heart of darkness.”
Get your copy at Soul Mate Publishing: https://www.soulmatepublishing.com/karma-and-mayhem or other e-book outlets.
Catherine is holding a Spring Summer Giveaway at her website! Hop over and be sure to enter to win!
Connect with Catherine E. McLean!
KARMA AND MAYHEM BLOG: http://karmaandmayhem.blogspot.com
Monday, April 29th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Jean Murray to Highlighted Author.
Author Jean Murray brings a wonderful new spin to the paranormal world with her Egyptian Underworld gods. She broke ground in the paranormal romance genre with Soul Reborn and now continues the Key to the Cursed journey with Soul Awakened.
In her pursuit of a nursing degree, Jean Murray aspired to see the world and joined the Navy. At the end of 2011 she said a heart-breaking goodbye to her Navy family and retired after twenty years of military service. Although her dreams of writing full time have yet to come true, she continues her writing journey and draws inspiration from her travels abroad. She enjoys spending time with her family and of course, writing about the “Carrigan sisters and their mates, Gods of the Underworld,” to bring you the next installment of the Key to the Cursed series.
I’m thrilled to present both these outstanding books this week as Jean has agreed to a series feature. Enjoy!
Key to the Cursed Series
By Jean Murray
BOOK I: Soul Reborn
“Only the strongest love can unlock the souls of the Underworld.”
What they’re saying:
“The Carrigan sisters are worthy heroines and the promise of continuing tales is welcome.”—Romantic Times (RT) Book Reviews (Sept2011) - 4/4.5 stars/Scorcher
“The first book in the “Key to the Cursed” series was absolutely phenomenal. Anything that deals with old world deities and is written well always hooks me from the get go. This was definitely an excellent book to begin a new series.”—Night Owl Reviews: Reviewer’s Top PICK/ 5 Stars (Abigail, Feb2013)
“This is the first book in the series by Jean Murray and I want to start off by saying I was blown away by this book and I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in this series. This book had elements that would satisfy not only fans of paranormal romance but also urban fantasy fans as it combined Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, the walking dead, betrayal, and the world at peril against the backdrop of a hot and passionate romance.”—Bitten by Paranormal Romance – 5/5 Alpha Howls, Hot
More reviews on Goodreads.
THE HUMAN REALM, HIS BATTLEFIELD.
Asar, the Egyptian God of the Underworld, has been tortured and left soulless by a malevolent goddess, relegating him to consume the very thing he was commissioned to protect. Human souls. Now an empty shell of hatred, Asar vows to kill the goddess and anyone involved in her release, but fate crosses his path with a beautiful blonde huntress who has a soul too sweet to ignore.
DEADLY SECRETS BETTER LEFT UNEARTHED.
Lilly, fearless commander of the Nehebkau huntresses, is the only thing standing in the way of the goddess’ undead army unleashing hell on earth. But Lilly has a secret—one she is willing to sell her soul to keep. If the Underworld god discovers her role in the dig that released the goddess, she will lose everything, including his heart.
Movement flickered in the deep shadows.
Asar stilled. Midnight skin blending into the night, he slipped easily into the gloom of the New York City streets and waited.
The human heat signature he hunted lingered in the air like a fine French perfume. He was not surprised when a trio of pale-skinned, red-eyed revens zoned in on the same body heat. The undead craved the flesh of their once previous form.
It was not the human’s flesh Asar desired.
Saddled by his own hunger that burned like fire in his chest, he raced toward the haunting scent, anxious to claim the prey before the revens. He was not about to give up such a delicious soul to those ravenous cannibals.
Still too far away, he exploded with a shot of preternatural speed on the slippery, uneven pavement. Surefooted, he hurtled a foul dumpster and sprinted around the brick building. Hunger fueled his every step. He fully expected to hear a scream from the human victim before he reached the alley, but the air remained still.
He slid to a stop on the wet asphalt. The three revens he had sensed lay decapitated on the polluted street. Gaping chest wounds indicated the hearts had been destroyed.
Fragments of shimmering light illuminated the gray, decaying flesh, rising into the night air. Normally, he would have absorbed the shifting souls, but revens were tainted and doomed never to reach the afterlife. The undead were truly dead.
Where was the human?
The sound of shattering glass resonated from above, followed by a shower of diamond shards. Asar evaporated into the shadows against the cold brick of the building and narrowly avoided the carcass of a headless reven plummeting from the upper window. The body hit the pavement like a side of meat slammed onto a butcher’s countertop. Dark, putrid shrapnel of blood and bone spattered across the roadway. The reven’s head soon followed, bounced off the cement with a loud crack and rolled slowly down the sidewalk before coming to rest inches from his foot.
He did not give it a second look. Through the shattered second story window, he caught a glimpse of glowing green eyes and the flash of silver.
His body grew taut with anticipation. The humans he typically encountered at night were criminals and opportunists looting stores or transporting illegal goods — the unsavory dredges of humankind. No one else dared to be outdoors for fear of becoming a reven’s next meal.
The criminals were easy enough prey, overconfident with their modern weapons, but this opponent utilized a more ancient form of deliverance. The reven kills were calculated and completed with the precision and stealth of a skilled assassin. This hunter was no doubt getting paid top dollar for this kind of suicide mission.
The revelation made his chest burn hotter with dark need. His prey would not go down easily. The harder the fight, the more living energy he could absorb from the human’s soul.
He looked upward. The night sky was waning to lighter shades of blue. He had only an hour of darkness left before the horizon split open with the sun’s rays. He would like nothing more than to draw out the fight for his own perverse pleasure, but he had to end it soon or face the wrath of his ancient curse.
A pain he would sooner avoid.
A loud crash of metal against stone around the corner interrupted his reverie. He launched forward out of the shadows, unconcerned with revealing his location, and did not waste any time turning onto the dimly lit street.
Only to find it empty.
Asar scanned quickly around the perimeter while turning slowly in a circle. The hunter did not have enough time to scale a building or sprint down the long block. His prey had to be a short distance from here. He walked forward, following the heat trail that vanished in the middle of the street.
“Where did you go?” Asar turned, looking for some exit the hunter could have used. The pavement shifted slightly under his foot. Looking down, he rotated his foot to the right. NY City Water & Sewer.
So, his prey had gone underground to draw him into a more cramped battle. Little did the hunter know, Asar would be the only victor in this game of cat and mouse.
He would leave with the man’s soul.
Into the darkness of the small tunnel, he followed the exaggerated heat trail in the confined space. He heard the faint breathing and pounding of a human heart. Here kitty, kitty. The hunter was foolish enough to make a stand, but not for long. He followed the arresting scent, anxious to fill his hollow emptiness. Only a few more steps and then he’d see his prize—
His gaze shifted over a female with long blonde hair whose curvy hips were loaded with an arsenal of weapons. In her hand, she clasped a long, intricately carved blade—a blade she pointed directly at him.
Asar swallowed against the sudden constriction in his throat.
Not a hunter.
Energy rippled off her skin like streamers of bright sunlight. Her powerful essence of life called to him, the very energy that fed his unquenchable hunger. All he had to do was touch her silky skin or lips to devour the luscious beauty. He had already taken a few steps toward her when he stopped.
Another sensation of hunger distracted his senses. One he had not felt in very long time, nor cared to feel again. His hardened arousal was inconvenient, considering the moment.
An inconvenience he was willing to explore a little before he dined on her soul. Heat radiated off her skin, a sharp contrast to his own cold, dead body. His skin began to burn, even at this distance. A welcome, but deadly flame. Despite this threat, he drew in like a moth to a flame. Warm, soft and most importantly, alive.
Get your copy here:
BOOK II: Soul Awakened
What they’re saying:
“I know other readers are going to love this series as much as I do. Get settled in for a thrilling paranormal tale.”—Night Owl Reviews: Reviewer’s Top PICK/ 5 Stars (Abigail, Feb2013)
“I don’t know where to begin to describe the absolutely marvelous job that the author does in not only creating a wonderful world with so much depth and detail, but a story line the has the mystery and intrigue that will keep you glued to the pages.”—Bitten by Paranormal Romance, Ollie (Feb2013): 5/5 Alpha Howls, Hot
More reviews on Goodreads.
LOVE FOR BLOOD OR HONOR
Kendra, an Egyptologist and demi-god in waiting, is the key to unlocking Bakari, the Egyptian God of Death, from his cursed slumber. Desperate to free him, she inadvertently binds herself to the god with a spell that only death will undo. To save Bakari from himself, she may have to sacrifice her innocence, and possibly her soul, before he becomes his family’s worst enemy.
HAUNTED BY SINS OF THE PAST
Bakari awakens to a world at war and a beautiful woman who has tethered his soul to hers. In the wake of his self-destruction Kendra is his only hope of salvation, but another has vowed to keep Bakari from the one thing he craves most—his Parvana. His butterfly.
A familiar refuge of horror.
Black and desolate like his soul, the darkness draped the landscape of Bakari’s world. His prison for how long? He could gage only by his hunger, an unbearable pain burning through his chest and eating away what little of his soul remained. The darkness consumed everything, but his insanity.
The onyx obscurity wavered into shades of grey. Bright sunlight danced and flickered in the barren corners of his mind beyond his reach. Bolts of lightning ripped across his skin and mind and tore at the fine fabric of his consciousness. The sheets of darkness fell like ash and scattered into the cold abyss.
His mind retreated—fearful. He had been tricked before only to suffer at the sadistic hands of his captor. The next arc struck harder and deeper. The white inferno fried what tendrils of his coma remained. In the wake of his agony, the soft caress of a human soul and the scent of sweet honeysuckle penetrated his skin. The very element that fed his power—living energy.
Like water for a dying man, the human’s energy trickled but did not satisfy his ravenous hunger. His chest clenched into a ball of fire, ignited by the minuscule energy he absorbed into his soul.
The vitality extinguished as quickly as it came. Left barren and wanting, rage consumed him. The goddess Kepi would pay for this new level of depravity. To have living nourishment so close, but denied to feed his dark hunger, was a torture like no other.
The walls of his wooden crypt pressed in upon him. He struggled to move an arm or leg, but the spell of his paralysis was unyielding. He screamed but not a word past his lips. In his mind he thrashed against the invisible bonds, willing himself to break free.
He had not reacted this way since the fateful day of his confinement to his tomb. During his imprisonment he had withdrawn into himself. Numb to the world. His only safeguard against the goddess and the oppressive confines of his prison. Those thoughts of Kepi worsened his agony and current insanity.
Silently screaming, cold tears slipped out of the corners of his closed eyes and trickled down into his hair. He called out to the merciful gods to save him, but in all this time none were answered. His despair suffocated whatever hope he may have left.
Bakari, a soft melody of a voice broke through the chaos in his mind. Ease your pain. She will come to you again. Hold your will, young god. She will set you free.
Get your copy here:
Want more Jean? Here’s where you can find her:Website: www.jean-murray.com Blog: www.wickedromance.wordpress.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJeanMurray Twitter: http://twitter.com/wickedromance Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5103113.Jean_Murray
Monday, March 25th, 2013
Join me in welcoming John J. Zelenski to Highlighted Author.
John J. Zelenski is an award winning author of the Supernatural Thriller, Walkers Vale. It has been received favorably thus far in print and on radio and television, including ION TV’s Northeast Current – The Christian Author Show – The Paranormal Christian Radio Show, PRT Paranormal Talk Radio Show, and The Artist First World Radio Network. Walker’s Vale has also been featured and highlighted in HM Magazine, The Midwest Book Review, The Sunday Times, and The Weekender. Most recently, he has been selected as one of the “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” by The Authors Show.
John resides in beautiful northestern PA with his wife and two children.
Welcome, John, please tell us a little more about yourself and your featured book.
Hello, my name is John J. Zelenski and my debut novel is Walker’s Vale. My book is a Christian-based supernatural, paranormal thriller that was in part inspired by some of my own supernatural events I experienced as a child when my family and I moved into our then new home.
I’ve been writing on and off actually since high school (was that really 1990?) but only began to focus on something more than a hobby within the past five years. I’ve always enjoyed books and found that writing, as for presumably all authors, is an escape to another dimension where the subconscious has room to play in an uninhibited environment.
I’ve always enjoyed “scary” movies, and suspense/ mystery types as well, so it was only natural my first novel would be in this type of genre. Being a Christian and trying to merge faith and horror has had its challenges, however, I believe that faith-based horror/mystery/suspense is a genre which is really in need of someone to bring it to the forefront for readers to not only be entertained, but also to be challenged in their thinking. Could this be me? I sincerely hope so!
Walker’s Vale on the surface is essentially about a man coming to terms with his faith or lack thereof, and the struggles associated with raising a handicapped child. But far deeper, there is a story of hope for all of us who need to ask “why” to the difficult questions which seemingly have no answer. For those who have read Walker’s Vale and believed the story to be over, they should be happy to know that a second book is planned to continue the saga. At the present however, another book tentatively titled The Third Chamber is on paper, uh- I mean glaring electronic screen, which is also in the supernatural genre, but this time delves into a love story…did I just say love story?
Listen in as AuthorsFirst Radio Network interviews John J. Zelenski
What they’re saying:
“”Walker’s Vale” is a riveting read that will keep the pages turning, very much recommended.”—Bethan, Midwest Book Review
“It’s not your everyday paranormal adventure, this one makes you have faith and you truly feel the emotions within the novel. Great Read, highly recommend this to families and lovers of the christian and paranormal genre’s.”—D.J. Kile, Amazon Review
James Cooper moved his family to Walker’s Vale, Pennsylvania, in search of the ideal life. What he got was just the opposite. As this small town’s eerie history is revealed and repeated, it’s clear the devil is in the details—and he’s waiting for the Cooper’s young daughter. When the FBI come knocking at his door, James quickly realizes that his ideal life may come with a steeper price than he thought. This story of faith, deception, and horror will captivate readers as one man fights for his family’s safety and embarks on a journey toward redemption in this suspenseful supernatural thriller.
The pungent smell of gasoline burned quickly through my nostrils and settled deep into my throat. Coughing to the point of vomiting, I desperately fought to keep myself above the fluid surrounding me. On all sides as far as I could see, icy golden liquid moved hypnotically in wavelike patterns that crashed fiercely with each roll. The devastating sound of each swell, louder than anything I could ever recall, pierced my ear drums as I felt warm liquid flow from each ear. Now, in utter and eerie silence I found myself alone in this demented sea of chaos.
As I, again, brought my head to the surface, I began to feel the waves calm, and the putrid smell was replaced with an aroma of what can be best described as a sugary mix of sweet bread and warm chocolate. The bitter coldness of the liquid also began to warm to room temperature, allowing me to float almost effortlessly in its midst. Still unable to hear, I watched as two large cylindrical pillars rose from the sea and ascended as far as I could see into the red vapor atmosphere above me. In the center between the columns rose a marble stairway that was shaped much like a cubed maze in pattern.
From the very top there shone a reddish metallic light that beckoned me to approach it. I couldn’t explain the overwhelming desire to reach the light; I only felt that somehow it was drawing me toward it. I lifted myself from the watery pit and began to climb this maze, one block at a time.
Higher and higher I ascended, until the yellow sea below became like a small puddle. As I neared what appeared to be the pinnacle, the light from above began to grow dimmer, and the environment shifted once again. A bitter cold wind blew from all directions at me, as if some force was trying to throw me from the staircase. Just as I was about to lose my grip, a small angelic being lowered its tiny hand toward me; I desperately grabbed on to avoid what would have been undoubtedly my death.
As the being pulled me to the surface where it stood, I could see that it was neither female nor male by appearance and was eight or ten-years-old. It had one of the most beautiful and otherworldly expressions I had ever seen. Its beautifully formed face sparkled with tiny beads of sunlight and its flowing bronze hair seemed to float effortlessly above the shoulders. I stood in its presence, awed by the majestic quality it radiated. As it glided around me, guided by its large powerful wings, the creature carefully examined me from top to bottom. It hovered behind me for what seemed like seconds, and without warning, the being made contact by gently touching my ears. A sudden rush of electricity flowed through me as I began to hear childish laughter from behind. As I turned to face my healer, the angelic entity began to transform before me into a distorted, hideous monstrosity. It laughed at me with an insane ferocity and lunged at me with pincher-like claws, obviously trying to tear me into shreds. Thick black smoke poured through the monster’s mammoth fangs, which reeked of poisonous, decaying elements.
I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Jesus, help me please!” in absolute desperation. At once, the creature lunged backward and began to twist its body into a serpent-like coil. It released a piercingly loud howl as if in extreme torment while it continued to writhe and convulse its body. With nowhere to go, I decided the only way to escape the beast was to jump off of the ledge. With the demon now disoriented, I leaped from the edge back into the red mist and fell swiftly through the haze, turning end over end.
As I began to accelerate rapidly toward the liquid bottom, I again was overcome with the intense smell of gasoline. I tried to reach out to grab either of the pillars, only to see them crumble into the sea below me. What was before a shimmering yellow ocean was now a black moving tide of insects and vermin. I could do nothing to stop myself as I fell directly into the cavernous pit.
Spiders, centipedes, and other forms of bugs crawled on and inside me until I could no longer breathe, and I started to sink further into their abyss. I continued to fall deeper while I gasped for some oxygen—helplessly covered in crawling blackness. Until…
Get your copy of Walker’s Vale at Amazon:
Want to connect with John? Here’s where you can find him:
Monday, March 11th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Michael Hebler to Highlighted Author
Michael Hebler is a native of Orange County, California where he still resides. After receiving his degree in theatre arts, Michael began working in film publicity, which he continues to share with his writing career. To date, Hebler’s previous published credits include, “The Night After Christmas,” a timeless holiday picture book for believers of any age, and the free Chupacabra Series short story, “Hunt for the Chupacabra.”
In addition to authoring his novels and children’s books, Hebler also writes his blog, “My Little Obsessions,” where he likes to muse about what distractions life has to offer.
A Book and a Chat with Michael Hebler
Night of the Chupacabra
What they’re saying:
“The story is so action packed and heartfelt, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this story.”—Diana Ramsey, Offbeat Vagabond Book Blog
“Michael Hebler has definitely stumbled onto a cast of characters and a villain so exceptional that this is a remarkable and fun/horror novel.”—Heather Boustead, Reflections of a Bookworm
“I loved the twists, especially the revelation on the legend of the first chupacabra, that I believe wouldn’t bore readers.”—Jenai Kaori, Bookingly Yours Book Reviews
Night of the Chupacabra
A scarred man – on the inside and out – searches desperately for his missing family while the creature that separated them is never far behind.
There is a creature that lurks in the vast open deserts of the west. It can only survive on blood and, although it prefers to prey on the weak and young, it will slaughter anyone or anything, once provoked. It is unnatural, deceptive, and difficult to kill. Word about the existence of this elusive beast has not spread since anyone who has crossed paths with it did not live long enough to tell of their account.
Get your copy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Chupacabra-The-Series-ebook/dp/B009QMZ8XM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2
Want more Michael? Here’s where you can find him:
Monday, January 7th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Patrick C. Greene to Highlighted Author.
An afficionado of all things strange and morbid from a very young age, Greene began committing his bizarre thoughts to paper as a gradeschooler, creating a series of comic books based on an issue of Tales From The Crypt obtained from some source lost to the mists of time, which he owns to this day. Horror, sci-fi and kung fu were staples of his literary and cinematic diet, inspiring Greene to write short stories and screenplays.
His first sold work was a mind-twisting dark fantasy script called Hollywood Black, based partially on his experiences as a film actor.
With two stories appearing in Volume One of The Endlands, Greene began a relationship with Hobbes End which continues with his contribution to Volume 2 of The Endlands, as well as the crypto-novel Progeny.
Patrick is represented by Abby Miller with Hobbes End Publishing.
Owen Sterling is a reclusive author living in a secluded house deep in the woods. When he welcomes his son Chuck for a summer visit, the eleven-year-old suspects something is not right at his father’s home. His worries mount when he witnesses a confrontation between his father and some local hunters. Zane Carver is the local gun-shop owner who confronts the author over Owen’s refusal to let anyone on his land for hunting or camping. He defies the recluse, taking a hunting party onto Owen’s property. Soon, Zane and his buddies discover the writer’s secret . . . a deadly secret; a creature whose infinite rage they have unwittingly ignited . . . that is now hunting them.
Find out more about Patrick here: www.patrickcgreene.com
Monday, December 17th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Tony-Paul de Vissage to Highlighted Author.
Tony-Paul de Vissage is a multi-published Author of vampire books which include Vampires Are Forever, Last Vampire Standing, and The Night Man Cometh, along with several published short stories. His first movie memory is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter, on television, and being scared sleepless—that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires.
This was further inspired when the author ran across a band of transplanted Transylvanian vampires who were sightseeing in the South. Thinking nosferatu were getting a bad press and in need of some favorable publicity, he decided to do what he could to change that attitude through his writing. Though it may be argued his efforts have probably done the opposite, no vamp has complained…yet.
Tony-Paul is with us this week, sharing his new release, Dark God Descending.
Welcome, Tony-Paul. Please tell us about your new release.
It’s a staple late night horror movies dating back decades…the lost city in the jungle, stumbled upon by a safari of scientists…they carry away some object precious to the inhabitants. In doing so, they bring a curse upon themselves in particular and Mankind in general as the embodiment of the sacred object, itself mindless except for the desire for revenge, brings the wrath of the gods upon the wrongdoers. The hero struggles to save his friends, perhaps return the sacred object to its home. In modern versions, there’s probably nudity and gratuitous sex. Various minor characters are killed off the inevitable happy ending is flashed upon the screen. Cue the credits.
Dark God Descending follows this formula to a certain degree. There’s a lost city, the city of Nikte-Uaxac, a Mayan civilization existing deep in the Yucatan. A sacred object is stolen from the city and the evildoers are punished, but there the similarity ends. The sacred object is the Emperor himself and it is he who exacts revenge upon his kidnappers. Semris II is no mindless hulking mummy or an animated enchanted dagger or an invisible but deadly plague. He’s an intelligent, articulate, supernatural being–a demon godling who simply wishes to return to his people. Aided by Tuck, the human charged with guarding him, he manages to escape, and thus begins an adventure for both demon and mortal.
All Tucker Upchurch wants is to get his degree in paleontology and marry his girl. Going with Professor Rand Westcott on his latest expedition will do just that. What Tuck gets instead is the adventure of a lifetime as he becomes the friend of a creature who shouldn’t exist, the son of the Mayan god of Death. In his attempt to aid Semris in returning to Nikte-Uaxac, Tuck will lose the thing he loves the most and gain something more precious. Semris will witness the depth of human cruelty as well as human love. Both will be forever changed by what happens. They will becomes brothers, each shedding his blood for the other, as they struggle to protect Nikte-Uaxac from the invasion of the Twenty-first Century. And the villain? He gets what he deserves, and, at the same time, what he most desires, and the irony of it all is terrible but fitting.
Dark God Descending is the story of two men, separated by thousands of years, thrown together by unbelievable circumstance; it is the story of their friendship and what is involved in accepting the events Fate has dealt them.
Dark God Descending
Tuck walked over to the cage.
Oh, God, did that last shot kill him? As far as he could tell, Semris hadn’t moved.
When he saw the slow rise and fall of the bare chest, he felt abrupt relief. He also saw the golden amulet, recognizing it as the twin of the one that had started all this unpleasantness in the first place.
The fruit hadn’t been touched, was rapidly darkening, the sweet, overripe smell permeating the cellar, attracting flies. How the Hell did they get in here, anyway? Several big bluebottles were buzzing around inside the cell, hovering over the peaches, a couple crawling along the edges of the plate. One was floating in the water glass, wings fluttering and making little splashes.
Tuck knelt and opened the little flap, reaching inside to remove the glass. As he reached back in for the plate, it happened. so fast he didn’t even realize Semris had moved until he felt the iron grip upon his wrist, saw the fangs drop and the dark head covering his hand.
He screamed as twin razor slashes struck through his wrist…knowing no one could hear, struggled desperately to get away. Frantic, disbelieving thoughts whirling through his mind. Oh, God, this is why he didn’t eat the fruit. He’s a vampire! Sweet Jesus, he’s going to kill me! Help someone, help me! Why should they? I didn’t help him.
The pain went away, his arm numb from wrist to fingertips.
He knelt there on the floor, watching the pale body crouched so near he could have reached out and touched his shoulder…his bare, wingless shoulder.Where did his wings go? What happened to them? All he could do was watch those shoulders heave with the strength of each deep swallow, feeling his life ebb away, and a vague surprise that it didn’t hurt at all.
Eyes rolling up, Tuck gave a little sigh and collapsed against the bars. He was barely conscious as he saw Semris raise his head and release his arm. In spite of being only slightly aware, he felt a stab of surprise as the quiet voice whispered, “Gracias. Gracias por su sangre.”
He’s thanking me? Thanking me for letting him kill me? With an effort, he made himself withdraw his wounded arm, cradling it against his chest with his other hand. Forcing his eyes open, he stared at his wrist, fighting the wave of blackness floating before his eyes.
There was no bloody ripped-away flesh as he’d imagined, only four deep punctures. Two of the five little veins had been pierced, but the wounds were clean and already clotting. Tuck forced himself to take a deep breath, then let it out, and repeated the procedure. Keep breathing! Don’t pass out. He might decide to have a second helping.
“I took too much. I am sorry. I was too hungry.”
There was such concern in Semris’ voice that Tuck found himself replying, “That’s all right. I-if I’d known, I… Oh, God, what am I saying?” He fell silent, feeling a bout of hysteria galloping toward him.
Something was thrust into his hand. One of the peaches. Semris’ hand, between the bars, holding it out to him. “Aqui. Come. Pronto.”
So he took the peach and bit into it, choking slightly as the rich, sweet juice slid down his throat, but forced himself to keep chewing and swallowing. As the fruit sugar hit his stomach, he began to feel better.
“That was good.” With a sigh, he tossed the peach pit aside.
Through the bars, hands helped him to his feet. He leaned against the door, hanging onto it to keep his balance as dizziness flooded back.
“Again, I am sorry. He looked up, meeting Semris’ eyes, startled at the concern in them. “It has been so long since I have had the living wine.”
Living wine…what a beautiful way to describe it. Tuck still felt a little groggy, wondered if he was now under the vampire thrall. He decided to find out. “Am I your minion now?”
“Why would you think that?” Semris sounded genuinely puzzled.
“Well, you’ve taken my blood. Generally, when a vampire–”
“Vampiro! Donde?” Semris looked around quickly, arms crossing over his throat in a protective gesture.
“You.” Tuck answered, feeling he’d made a mistake. “Aren’t you a vampire?”
“Of course not!” The answer was disdainful that Tuck might mistake him for such a vile creature. “I am a Dark Lord. Un demonio.” The pale chin lifted proudly. “Los vampiros are creatures accursed.”
Tuck thought that over. “And you’re not.”
“No.” Semris shook his head, the dark hair swinging. “I am not.”
Tuck realized he must be feeling better, to be able to marvel at the absurdity of this conversation.
Dark God Descending will be available at Class Act Books December 15, 2012.
Want more Tony-Paul? Here’s where you can find him:
Author website: http://www.tony-paul.com Twitter: @tpvissage Facebook: www.facebook.com/tonypaul.devissage MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/505918625 Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5117438.Tony_Paul_de_Vissage
Monday, November 19th, 2012
Please join me in welcoming Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz to Highlighted Author.
Penny is an author of fiction as well as non-fiction, having written articles offering advice to both parents and teens while working as a volunteer for several non-profit organizations. Her non-fiction has appeared in parenting, writing, and teen magazines. Her fiction leans toward fantasy and soft science fiction, often with a touch of romance, and has been published in a number of small press genre magazines and online.
She works as an acquisitions editor with 4RV Publishing and a line editor with MuseItUp Publishing, and has worked as a copyeditor with Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press.
Welcome, Penny, please tell us about yourself.
I am Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz and like most authors, I’ve been writing since I was a child. I first became interested in stories as a preschooler, when my dad would make up stories for us before we went to bed. He had a wonderful imagination, and I deeply regret losing him from my life when I was ten, and he lost his battle with cancer.
My own first forays into storytelling started when I was in grade school. As is common at that age, our teachers would instruct us to create a story based upon some experience. I learned to love putting pencil to paper and weaving intricate tales. My mother saved some of those early attempts, which I often did outside of school just to entertain myself. I would illustrate and bind those lovingly crafted stories and share them with anyone willing to listen. As I aged, my talent became more obvious, and I continued to have teacher mentors who encouraged me in creative writing.
Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I postponed any serious writing until I was in my early forties. While I was never able to pursue writing full-time (until I retired), I did pen close to two hundred non-fiction articles and short stories, which were published in small magazines and on-line. About the time my daughter was ten, she informed me I wasn’t a “real” writer because I didn’t have a book. With that challenge, I went on to write two middle grade novels, Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch, soon to be released by 4RV Publishing, LLC.
I still love short story writing and prefer working with that length rather than a full-length novel. Someone suggested I should gather up some of these and put them into a collection. Thus was born A Past and A Future, published by Sam’s Dot Publishing, which is featured here this week at Highlighted Author. While my tales tend toward, soft (non-technological) science fiction and fantasy, they all have a touch of romance. Relationships are very important to me, and they always feature strongly in my stories. I have three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery (contemporary), Lady in Waiting (historical), and Mirror, Mirror (time-travel).
When I’m not writing, I am editing other authors’ works as a line editor for MuseItUp Publishing. I also blog about writing and post author interviews on my blog at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com. When I’m not doing writing-related activities, I love to read, garden, crochet, do water aerobics, walk, practice yoga, hang out with friends, family, and pets, and spend time with my two wonderful grandchildren. The grandchildren are the inspiration for two picture books, under contract with 4RV Publishing: Boo’s Bad Day and Many Colored Coats.
Please tell us about A Past and A Future.
My short story collection, A Past and A Future, consists of sixteen stories; half are science fiction, the other half fantasy.
Stories included in A Past and A Future are:
1. Flight of the Roc
What would you do if your master told you to collect a roc’s egg? Would you be willing to climb a mountain and climb into the nest? And, what would happen if the egg you collected hatched?
2. Blurred Vengeance
Temur’s father is murdered, and he must have revenge. Will his journey to honor his father’s death bring him what he wants, or will it destroy him and his village?
3. Who Will Heal the Healer?
Marzan teaches Niane to control the winds, but what about the winds of fate? Will Niane be able to save her mentor when the underworld comes to claim him?
4. Ashley of Ashland
Ashley, a young magician covets his brother’s fiance, but what are her feelings? Is his brother fit to rule the kingdom or is he a brutal womanizer? Can Ashley’s magic be enough to save him and his true love?
5. The Watcher
Zerelda lives in a world of women. Her function is to obey and not have feelings. She watches for the one who comes from afar. When he comes to impregnate her ruler, will they find a forbidden love instead?
Merlin knows his fate, but he is unable to stand against it when Viviane enchants him. Will his powers be stronger than hers, or will he find himself a victim of love?
She is from this world. He is from another. A dragon draws them together. Will she look beyond his pointed ears and see the man of her dreams? Will she fear the dragon or embrace him?
Lyda runs from her abusive stepfather, hiding her sex from the world. Her rescuer has a secret of his own. Will they both find happiness or will their pursuers stop them before they find their paradise?
9. The Baby Makers
How far would you go to get a baby if you can’t conceive on your own? Would you accept a clone? Would you fight for that’s child’s rights in a world unprepared for it?
10. 3-D Pictures
Avery’s boss thought he was crazy, but was he? When he stared into the 3-D picture, he saw a land others couldn’t see. When Elvina emerges from the picture to tell him of his true heritage, will he join her in the picture or accept the doctor’s diagnosis?
11. Screen Saver
Clancy is used to strange people. His boss represents them. But when the bullets start flying, will the screen saver really save him?
The world has died, except for small pockets of isolated communities. The rich can afford to live isolated from the poor who die daily from bad air, poisoned water, and uncontrolled diseases. But what if you are tired of the isolation? What if you wanted to find somewhere to be free? Would you take the chance?
13. Love in a Different Hue
Chiri’s father is a scientist. He invents artificial life. Her husband married her for her money and access to her father. What should she do when the artificial life her father has created looks better to her than her husband?
14. Down So Low The Ground Looks Like Up
Sylvan is sensitive to others feelings. It drives her crazy, so she drinks to dull the pain. But does she also drink because she harbors a secret? Will Dev, the police officer who finds her, rescue her from her demons?
15. Rebels With a Cause
Kids will be kids even in the future where people wear a uniform colored to their profession. Juvenile offenders receive an implant so they can be tracked without being housed in a facility. Shahleena is bored with her existence. Will volunteering to help these juvenile offenders help her or help them?
John lives in Structured. His ancestors came from Upheaval. On a whim, he decides to visit, only to find the chaos of Upheaval is more than he can handle. Unfortunately, he cannot leave fast enough. What will happen to him when he finds the clocks are all set to different times?
What they’re saying:
Reviews of stories by Heather Kuehl
“Get your fill of magical fantasy fiction with Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz’s anthology, A Past and A Future.
A collection of sixteen fantasy stories, A Past and A Future has something for everyone.
“Flight of the Roc” tells the story of Lona, a sorcerer’s apprentice whose skills have much to be desired. When her master sends her to retrieve a roc’s egg, she thinks that this may be the thing needed to prove herself to him. When the handsome Tom agrees to help Lona find the egg, she is faced with a dilemma. Will she choose Tom over the roc’s egg?
“Love in a Different Hue” is about Chiri, a woman in an unhappy marriage. Her father is the leader in the robotics field and by marrying Chiri, Trevon is guaranteed a partnership with him. Feeling alone Chiri becomes interested in her father’s latest creation, Devro. What will Chiri do with a blue-skinned robot who wants nothing more than to love her?
If these two blurbs are any indication, A Past and A Future covers the entire range of fantasy. From sword and sorcery to futuristic fantasy, there is something for everyone. Readers will cheer for Caryn and Rader from “Isolation,” become fascinated with Arthurian legend in “Entrantress,” and bask in Prince Ulric’s love in “The Watcher.” This anthology is a must read for all avid fantasy readers.”
Reviews of stories by Kay Dee Royal:
Ms. Ehrenkranz makes every word count. Dialogue comes across with an authentic voice of the times; no matter whose voice or what era of time. She portrays her scenes using colorful sensory scales, pulling me along for an entertaining and extraordinary adventurous ride.
Ms. Ehrenkranz’s characters reveal unique personalities, each set apart from another, each strong in their own right.
I find a delightful story in every one I read, and highly recommend this book to anyone who loves short, thoughtful stories, ending in a way that leaves a smile on your face. The kind of smile saying, “Yea, that was a great story.”
Flight of the ROC – Girl collides with Roc as she struggles to find her magic powers
Lona wants to be a sorceress. She thinks her only magic ability is talking to animals. Master Rubit teaches her magic. Lona believes he’s the only way she can learn, until something extraordinary happens.
Ms. Ehrenkranz creates a full, strong character in Lona, from her untidy image, low self-esteem, and fumbling attempts at magic.
Ms. Ehrenkranz’s vivid imagination brings ‘roc’, a large creature of flight and talons, to plausible life, something new to our world.
I immediately resonated and sympathize with Lona. It’s a good short read with a satisfying magical ending.
Ashley of Ashland – Will the plain, younger brother win the heart of the fair princess or be executed as a traitor?
Ashley, the younger son of the Duke of Ashland, loved Princess Thailia, the intended to his older brother Gerand. Ashley finds out Thailia hates Gerand, so unfolds a packed with danger plot around Thailia’s forced marriage. Will Ashley succeed in changing his and Thailia’s future.
Ms. Ehrenkranz’s scenes burst with life through word imagery. Each peril wraps in tension, graduating in intensity every time a new occurrence happens.
It’s a love story carried through by hope and a willingness to sacrifice all in order that it comes to fruition. Great read!
Enchantress– Merlin knows the one he loves will be his downfall, but can he win in the end?
Merlyn sees his future and follows his destined journey with a fairy woman, Vivian, even though he knows it will mean his death. He loves her, and she loves him. But, Vivian carries a dark side. Will her dark side destroy Merlyn as his future surmises?
Ms. Ehrenkranz shows the King Arthur era with colorful passion, and again with all senses open. I am swept away in Avalon and Merlyn’s love of Vivian.
Ms. Ehrenkranz gives life to her fable, carrying me along in the midst of it and through the surprising ending. Nicely written, it left me smiling at the end.
Drakoni – Torn from her modern day world and thrust into a world of dragons, evil magicians, and handsome elves, will Farah succeed or die trying?
Farah reads a spread of dragon tarot cards, each card giving her enlightenment of things to come. Little does she know it comes exactly as prophesied only with a twist of fate, as a Dragon Woman. She finds herself thrown into a crazy destiny, and can she survive it.
Ms. Ehrenkranz impresses her wisdom in mythology as well as legendary times. Each character comes across well defined and fully charged with personality.
This story read like a present day classic with all the fervor of fairy tales. Dragons are my weakness. I love reading about them and I got a wonderful dose of dragon lore in this story.
If you like dragons, magic, and happy endings, I highly recommend this delightful short story. You won’t be disappointed.
Heshe – Forced to hide as a young man, will the young noble woman tell her benefactor who she is, or will her pursuers capture her and take her back into slavery.
Lydia, a princess, ends up sold by her stepfather after the death of her mother. She’s held as a slave, escapes, and befriends a wizard, Garwin. Both secretly masquerade as someone they aren’t, seeking a new life. Will both realize new found freedom? Will they keep their secret identities from each other.
With every story of Ms. Ehrenkranz that I read, I’m more enchanted by her style and voice. Romance subtle, yet lingering, scenes vivid and alive, characters reveal individual strengths and weaknesses through fully developed personalities.
Bravo, Ms. Ehrenkranz, you’ve written another great tale for the telling, ending with a happy-ever-after. I find this sweet magical romance entertaining, another story that leaves me smiling.
Would you share and excerpt with us?
A Past and A Future
A broad swatch of fiction falls under the heading of fantasy, and Penny Ehrenkranz touches on all aspects of it in A Past and A Future. From princesses in distress and airborne dragons to magic and misdirection, the characters of her stories are at once heroic, unforgettable, and sympathetic. Ehrenkranz deftly weaves plotlines and subplots that touch the lives and hopes and fears of all of us.
From Ashley of Ashland
Ashley, younger son of Brandon, Duke of Ashland, sat brooding in front of the fire. Although it was late spring, the stone castle was drafty and always cold. Deep in thought, he tried to ignore the gaiety around him, as party guests frolicked and made merry. A spark from the fire fell on his blue silk hose, and he flicked it away angrily. He sat up straighter on his chair and adjusted his dark blue brocade jacket. He noticed a small smudge spot on one of the white lace cuffs protruding from the right sleeve. He rubbed at it absently, but that only pushed the soot deeper into the fabric.
Ashley glanced back over his shoulder. A small group of musicians, gaily dressed in green and gold brocade, played a rollicking dance tune. Dancers of all ages bobbed, swayed, curtseyed and bowed to each other as their feet flashed through the intricate dance steps. Serving girls wove among the dancers, tankards of ale and goblets of wine balanced on their huge trays. Ashley sighed and turned back to his fire; he had never managed to conquer those dance steps.
Ashley picked up a poker leaning against the stonework and shoved it into the pile of burning logs. The flames danced higher, the sparks flying like tiny fairy lights. Ashley sighed and looked back over his shoulder again. Princess Thalia danced with his brother, Gerand. Her small blond head was thrown back in laughter, her cheeks lit with a rosy glow. She was dressed in a low-cut, lime-green brocade dress, the full skirt trimmed in the finest ermine. Around her neck flashed a choker of emeralds and diamonds. Woven into her hair were strings of pearls.
Gerand’s tall muscular frame, topped by his head of thick, black hair, created a stark contrast to the small plump princess as he propelled her around the dance floor in an intricate maneuver. Ashley sighed again. Thalia was so lovely, if only he had been born first, she’d be pledged to him, not his older brother.
Ashley stirred the logs while muttering under his breath. A rainbow of colors flickered, and suddenly an image of Princess Thalia appeared, hovering in the huge fireplace. Several more words created Ashley’s image standing alongside Thalia’s.
When a hand touched Ashley’s shoulder lightly, it startled him. The images flickered and disappeared.
“Impressive, Ashley of Ashland,” Thalia’s soft voice murmured.
Ashley spun around quickly, a blush coloring his pudgy cheeks. “Good evening, Princess. I thought I was alone.” Ashley stood and bowed, his eyes never leaving Thalia’s face.
“You were. I just came to see if my future brother-in-law would like to dance with me?” Thalia’s cheeks dimpled slightly as she smiled, extending her hand.
Get your copy of A Past and A Future here:
Thanks for being with us this week, Penny. But before you leave, what’s coming up next for you?
Want more Penny? Here’s where you can find her:
Monday, October 22nd, 2012
Join me in welcoming Natasha Yim to Highlighted Author.
Natasha is a Northern California children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright. Her first picture book, Otto’s Rainy Day, was published by Charlesbridge Publishing, and her picture book biography, Cixi, The Dragon Empress, was released by Goosebottom Books in October 2011. Sacajawea of the Shoshone, the amazing story of the Native American teenager who traveled the west with Lewis and Clark hit the bookshelves in October 2012. She has also published non-fiction articles in the children’s magazines, Highlights for Children, Appleseeds, and Faces, and for adults in local and regional publications such as Mendocino Arts, Vibrant Life, and UnchARTed magazines. Her ten-minute plays have been produced and performed in venues around Northern California–Ukiah, Santa Rosa, Guerneville—as well as in Los Angeles, and Sydney and Brisbane, Australia.
Born Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, she grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong. She came to California in 1979 to attend Dominican College (now University) where she graduated with a B.A. in English Literature with a Writing Emphasis and a M.S. in Counseling Psychology. As a Social Worker, she worked primarily with emotionally disadvantaged children in group home and foster home settings, and with Child Protective Services. Since 2000, she has been busy raising three children and working on her writing. She’s on tour with her new release, Sacajawea of the Shoshone, and I’m proud that she has made Highlighted Author part of her world wide web travels.
Welcome, Natasha, when did you decide to be an author? Do you remember how old you were? The moment? (tell us about it)
When I was in 7th grade, an English teacher gave us a creative writing assignment in which we had to create an island, illustrate it with made-up lakes, rivers, mountains, towns etc., and write a story about it. It was so much fun, I’ve been hooked on writing stories ever since. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 11, and used to journal daily and write poems and short stories in my teens, but I didn’t get serious about my writing until after college.
What genre do you most enjoy writing? Reading? Why?
I enjoy writing for children. I’ve published mostly picture books, but I also like writing for an older audience and have some middle grade/young adult projects in the works. At one point, I thought that I would try my hand at an adult novel at some point, but I’ve discovered that I actually have no interest at this time in writing for adults. There’s a certain awe and wonder that children exhibit when you put a good book in their hands or read them a story they really connect with that’s not only refreshing and delightful, but very rewarding to an author. Most adults will read a book they like once then pass it on, but kids will ask for a favorite book to be read over and over again. My reading tastes are a little eclectic. I like to read anything from the classics (Jane Austen is still a big favorite of mine, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Lucy Montgomery) to contemporary writers like John Irving and David Sedaris. I tend to favor humorous books and am a great fan of Louise Rennison’s The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Young Adult series. I’ve also been reading a lot of Young Adult and middle grade novels lately because that’s the genre I’m currently interested in writing and also because my daughter is reading those books so I’m trying to find out what she’s reading.
You’ve been very busy with your appearances at schools and organizations. What’s it like to share your books and skills with others? Please tell us about it.
When I had my first reading/book signing for my picture book Otto’s Rainy Day at a local bookstore twelve years ago, I was petrified! In a debilitating way. I asked my brother-in-law to read the book! But Practice makes Perfect, so the more I do presentations, workshops and appearances, the more comfortable I am in front of an audience, and now I don’t really get that nervous anymore. Believe me, it took a lot of pushing myself to get up in front of people and to grab any opportunity for speaking engagements to get me over the hump! Sometimes you have to jump blindly into the fray, because the only way to get over that fear of public speaking is to do as much of it as possible. The key is preparation. The more prepared I am, the less nervous I get. I used to be terrified of doing school visits too, and in the beginning, I’d much rather go to a school five different times to visit individual classrooms than to do one huge assembly in front of 300 kids. I did my first assembly in Spring of this year, and have done several since then, and now I really enjoy them and school visits in general because you get to connect with the kids who are your audience. They have such openness, tremendous curiosity and they LOVE meeting authors. We have a certain rock-star status with kids that’s really fun. At events, I try to focus more on connecting with the audience than on the nuts and bolts of my presentation and this helps to alleviate the anxiety. I’m a people person and I like the give and take of interaction. I’ve also discovered Power Point which takes a lot of the stress out of appearances because you can do really fun visual things on a screen which then takes the focus off you as the speaker. Kids love to see pictures of my family and pets and old pictures of me as a kid. It brings the author down to their level—hey, we were kids once too and we have normal families just like them. They also love it when I show all the editorial mark-ups I get on manuscripts, just like when a teacher corrects their homework. It makes them realize that writing is hard work and stories don’t just appear in book form as they see it at the bookstore. I also enjoy sharing my journey and process as a writer with other writers at workshops and conferences. We all had to start somewhere and I like to encourage other writers to keep trying and not give up in the face of rejection because we’ve all had to go through it. One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
Would you share the radio interview with the Stories for Children show on the World of Ink Network that you appeared on so that we can listen in?
My picture book biography Cixi, The Dragon Empress, which was released in Oct. 2011, is part of Goosebottom Books’ six-book series The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames. Each book in the series is written by a different author. Gretchen Maurer, the author of another dastardly dame Mary Tudor, Bloody Mary is a friend of mine. We live in the same town and have been in the same writing group for years so we decided to join forces and share the costs for our blog tour with World of Ink which occurred during the month of November 2011. As part of the blog tour package, we were interviewed on the Stories for Children network on blogtalk radio which aired on November 14, 2011.
Who do you find to be your greatest supporter? Why?
Other writers. I’ve been a part of two writing groups, have attended countless writer’s conferences and workshops, am a regular participant in the Green Gulch writer’s retreat, and have networked with many writers over the years at these events. Large as it is, the children’s book writing community is very close knit. Everyone is extremely supportive of each other. I think mainly because we all have struggled to get our foot in the door and to get noticed by an editor or agent, we know how hard it is and how much work it takes, so there is a lot of encouragement and support and “don’t give ups”. It takes another writer to know what you’re going through as a writer in terms of rejections, revisions, writer’s block, mediocre sales, poor turnout at book readings or signings and other literary disasters.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Inspiration can strike anytime, anywhere. The idea for my first book Otto’s Rainy Day came to me while I was staring out of the window at the rain. I have another project I’m working on that was inspired by a friend’s son’s love of dance and theatre. In recent years, I’ve been more interested in tapping into my cultural roots and have focused more attention in including multi-cultural elements into my work. The topic of Cixi, The Dragon Empress was already selected in that the publisher selected the six dames they wanted to feature, but the authors got to choose the dame they wanted to write about, and I chose her because she was Chinese and I was interested in Chinese culture and history. I currently have two middle grade/young adult novels I’m working on that have female Chinese protagonists. One’s a contemporary Chinese American girl and the other is a historical fiction set in China.
Being a busy mother, what does your writing schedule look like?
I try to get up at 5 every morning and write till 7 when my kids have to get up for school. I used to allow for Sundays as my sleep-in day, but my kids sleep in on weekends, so now I still keep to the 5 am schedule when I can as I can usually squeeze a little more writing time in. I also try to get a few hours of writing in while they’re in school, while trying to weave in workouts at the gym, grocery shopping etc. and volunteer time at my kids’ school. There is just never enough time in the day!
Tell us about your featured book.
Sacajawea of the Shoshone, which has just been released in October, will be a new addition to Goosebottom Books’ first series The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses. It’s the biography of Sacajawea, the Native American girl who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition of the American West. She’s an amazing woman with a fascinating story and I’m so lucky to be able to write about her.
Now, don’t be shy with this one. I’d like you to share some tidbits of praise for it.
Since it’s just been released, I don’t have any reviews yet (please feel free to write one) but librarians and teachers have expressed a lot of interest in it.
However, here is what people have said about my last book Cixi, The Dragon Empress:
“It is a wonderful read and an evocative story that most kids will be able to sink their teeth into. It is a sad and inspiring story at the same time. But it has a depth that is rarely found in a children’s picture book.”—BlogCritics, Irene Roth
“Natasha Yim has done an excellent job of putting together this factual book. The history and behind the scenes look at a woman who crumbled an empire will have young readers turning the pages and looking up the history for themselves.”—Good Reads, Kristi Bernard
Would you share an excerpt with us?
Sacajawea of the Shoshone
Clouds of dust swirled across the plains, kicked up by galloping horses. Screams shattered the autumn air. Arrows arced in the crisp blue sky, sprung from Shoshone bows, but they were no match for the Hidatsa warriors’ guns. Through the smoke of musket fire, Sacajawea saw men fall. Her heart thudded against her chest. She raced over brush and brambles, the berries she had been picking scattering around her feet. If she could cross the river, she might be able to get away. One minute, her legs churned against the swift current, the next, a pair of muscular arms scooped her up, carrying Sacajawea far away from her tribe and family—and into history.
In November, seven months after Sacajawea set off from Fort Mandan, she finally heard the roar and crash of ocean waves. She felt their force as they rocked the boats at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Pacific Ocean was near! But these powerful waves made it impossible to get any closer to the sea along their water route. They had to camp inland a few miles away. As winter was approaching, and deep snow in the Rocky Mountains would make it impossible to cross back over, they decided to wait till spring to head back east. They built a fort in a protected grove of pine trees, and sheltered there through the damp, gloomy days.
One day, a local tribe brought the Corps blubber from a whale that had washed up on the beach. Lewis and Clark thought it was delicious, and formed a small group to see the “Big Fish” and get some more blubber. Sacajawea wasn’t included. As you can imagine, she was really upset. She had come such a long way, and she still hadn’t seen the “Big Water.” She wanted to see the “Big Fish” too! The Captains finally agreed, and Sacajawea made the five day trek with Pomp to the Pacific.
There are no records of Sacajawea’s reaction, but it must have taken her breath away to see the wide expanse of water stretching for miles to the horizon, and to finally breathe the salt-laced air. The sight of that immense whale, the largest animal any of them had ever seen, must also have struck her with awe and wonder.
Thank you so much, Natasha, for being with us today. It was wonderful having you.
Thank you, Charlene, for hosting me. It was a pleasure!
Get your copy now at Amazon!
Here’s where you can find Natasha:
Monday, June 25th, 2012
Please join me in welcoming Barry S. Willdorf to Highlighted Author.
Barry attended Colby College, the University of Manchester, England, and Columbia Law School. He’s Global E-book award winner and an EPIC finalist in historical fiction for The Flight of the Sorceress (Wild Child Publishing).
Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that he was the first person to surf on Cape Ann. *grin*
Welcome, Barry. Please tell us about yourself.
Hello readers and blog-surfers. My name is Barry Willdorf and I write books. I have a new mystery/thriller, and if it is your genre maybe you’ll want to read further. I’m not a real great self-promoter but A Shot In The Arm is worth a look.
With your legal background and experiences, this book should be fascinating. What were some of your experiences during this time?
While at Columbia I joined Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and in 1967 was an organizer for “Vietnam Summer.” In 1970 and 1971, I worked full-time for a civil liberties organization defending anti-war Marines. During a forty-plus year career as a trial lawyer, I have successfully defended GIs in more than two dozen courts martial. I have made headline news recovering assets in a South African diamond mine swindle. I’ve gotten the third-highest (at the time) settlement for the wrongful death of a mother on welfare. In 2005, with my long-time colleague Laura Stevens, I was honored as Lawyer of the Year by the San Francisco AIDS Legal Referral Panel for ground-breaking trial work on behalf of AIDS patients.
Would you tell us about your featured book, A Shot In The Arm ?
When a pretty young addict is found dead in her bed from an overdose, her treatment counselor, a black militant, is charged with providing her with drugs for sex. Nate Lewis is paid to defend him but learns too late that his retainer was stolen from rogue government agents involved in dealing drugs to buy guns for anti-communist guerrillas.
The book is set in the midst of the Bay Area scene at the time. Drugs. Sex. Political ferment. Peruse the menu at the Trident Restaurant on the Sausalito waterfront (owned by recording artists, The Kingston Trio.) Slide seamlessly among the old, waterlogged houseboats that lined the shore. Mingle with Vietnam era soldiers and sailors, black militants and hippies. Score drugs on practically every street corner. Stroll the Fillmore district before it was gentrified. Witness a car chase over the dirt roads that once crisscrossed a section of San Francisco called Bernal Hill. Sneak into the City’s shipyards and foundries when they still bustled with activity. Spend time at the Hamilton Air Force Base officer’s club. Sip Java where longshoremen once prowled. Attend court at Frank Lloyd Wright’s leaky Marin County Civic Center.
A Shot In The Arm is the second part of my 1970s Trilogy. In them I have an overriding timely topic: class, race and family. I try not to be didactic or an iconoclast. But the issues do inform the plot. Plus, as a semi-retired trial lawyer used to speaking to captive audiences, who had more than a hundred trials under his belt, I convey accurate legal narratives in every story. I learned to snoop in funky places as a criminal investigator in NYC. I lay claim to being the first surfer on Cape Ann, MA, and have witnesses to prove it. I’ve baited hooks and swabbed vomit working on a charter fishing boat. I homesteaded in the Mendocino County mountains and sold the house I hand-built for a profit. There’s a whole lot more about me on my website.
What they’re saying:
“A Shot In The Arm delivers a dark murder plot with characters that are right on the money.”— Mark Rudd, author of Underground: My life in SDS and the Weathermen
“The legal details are sharp; the drinking and drugging and low life neighborhoods are Day-Glo vivid.”—Meredith Sue Willis, author of Ten Strategies to Write Your Novel
“A detective story with a sense of geography, a sense of morality, and a sense of humor.”—Frances Lefkowitz, author of To Have Not.
“Gripping. Exciting. Add ‘A Shot in the Arm’ to the classic tales of the City by the Bay.”—Hilton Obenzinger, author of Cannibal Eliot
A Shot in the Arm
Against Christina’s advice, Nate Lewis defends a black militant accused of homicide. But his fat cash retainer was stolen from government agents involved in a drugs-for-guns operation. Soon Nate is the last man standing as the agents attempt to recover the cash. Only Christina can save him. But she’s caught him philandering. Will she?
Would you share an excerpt with us?
A Shot in the Arm
I come from a family of rationalizers. My father manufactured a persona as the embattled husband of a shrew. By the time he slunk out our door for the last time, he had convinced himself he was the victim—an abused spouse. Five minutes later he strolled into the waiting arms of a Raquel Welch look-alike, only a few years older than my sister.
Meanwhile, my mother was doing some Olympic-class rationalizing of her own, to the tune of outright perjury on her divorce declaration of domestic expenses. She wanted to soak the bastard for all the spousal support she could get and so resorted to outlandish fantasies of her personal needs.
But that night, I took the Lewis family rationalizing grand prize. I could hear myself explaining it to the woman I had the nerve to call “the love of my life.” It went sort of like this— Honey, sweetie, I just had to fuck Sheila. How else could I be sure Mo and the DEA would believe we were all washed up? That was the only way I could be sure they’d leave you alone, baby—to keep you safe.
In ’73, the blood alcohol limit for drunk driving was .15. I was somewhere around a .20. Sheila, probably in self- defense, suggested we each take our own car. I took the drive slow and careful, taking the time to convince myself that when I was fucking Sheila I was doing if for Christina’s sake. Between the booze and my inherited rationalization gene, I was completely convinced by the time I got to Gate 5 that getting laid was the only way I could save Christina’s life. I got out of the car and crossed my fingers. If I was super- lucky, I’d never even have to use the explanation.
Get your copy here:
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Both A Shot In The Arm and part one, Burning Questions can also be purchased through Amazon. Part One is a KDP offering this month. You can also get A Shot In The Armat Barnes & Noble. Part three, The Fourth Conspirator, will be available this fall.
FOR WRITERS WHO ARE CREATING A TRIAL SCENE OR DELVING INTO SOME LEGAL ISSUES, I recommend taking a look at my e-book, SEE YOU IN COURT –THINGS LAWYERS KNOW THAT YOU SHOULD TOO. Get it right. Make it sound real. It’s available on Smashwords and Scribd for only a buck. It will be the best buck you ever spent.
Find Barry at his websites:
Monday, June 11th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Jerome Peterson to Highlighted Author.
Jerome Peterson was born in Rockford, Illinois, on May 16, 1957. He attended a Catholic grade school, Lincoln Junior High, and graduated from East Senior High in 1975. He started writing poetry while in high school. The day after graduation, Jerome traveled extensively throughout the western United States both by vehicle and by thumb. During this time, he learned to play guitar. Listening to music inspired him to write lyrics for songs and recorded ten original songs in a professional studio, but also has experience as a street musician. Jerome has worked a wide variety of jobs, ranging from newspaper carrier to pastor, and has lived across the US from Oregon to Mississippi.
In early 2000, Jerome wrote his first unpublished novel. Soon to follow were numerous poems and short stories. In 2007, Jerome started writing articles for local newspapers and newsletters such as The Union Democrat, The Sierra Mountain Times, Amador Community News, The Stanislaus Connection, and the Health Resource Guide. He has also had some of his poems published in the Rattlesnake Review, a publication out of Sacramento. He now has four books published, Thumb Flagging, The Haunting of Andrew Sharpai, The Mind Is Sorry The Body Suffers: Collected Poems And Drawings, and Leaving Family Behind.
He has been married since 1979, is the father of two, and grandfather to five. Jerome currently lives in Sonora, California, with his wife, Carolyn, and a dog named Mcgee.
Hello. My name is Jerome Peterson. I am 55 years old and have been married for 33 years to my wife, Carolyn. I am an author. I have seriously been writing fiction for 12 years. I write suspense and poetry. I have four books published; three are novels; one is poetry. My novels are adventure/suspense; paranormal/suspense; historical/suspense. Currently, I am writing my next novel which is a sequel to Leaving Family Behind.
What they’re saying:
“Leaving Family Behind by Jerome Peterson was a novel of astounding beauty and power, a moving saga about families, relationships, and the boundaries of love… Peterson’s narrative power sweeps you into a past rich and alive with people and culture. The many different nationalities of immigrants alone on the ship that the main characters encounter are vibrant and sustaining enough to stay with you long after the book is done.
In short, I highly recommend this book. Jerome Peterson has given us a refreshing new novel with beautiful writing that is unique and descriptive.”—Janine Williams
“Jerome Peterson stands out with one wonderful novel after another . . . he gives us heroes to root for, characters who stay with us long after we close the book, and ever and always, vivid prose alive on the page.”—Bill Manville, Columnist of the New York Daily News
“I was entranced . . . This is a great read and I highly recommend it.” Darya Crockett, Coastal Editing
Leaving Family Behind
From Lithuania to Philadelphia, Leaving Family Behind tells of two immigrants’ historical journey in the early 1900s. It is a story where Jonas and Evelina Violettskus will stop at nothing in pursuit of their individual dreams.
Evelina rebels when her older brother forces her to abandon her goal to be a pianist, so he can accomplish his own dream of purchasing farmland in America. Thus begins a bitter sibling rivalry that affects their epic odyssey of self-discovery.
Jonas expects Evelina to leave home and country behind, travel thousands of miles through Eastern Europe, and then cross the Atlantic Ocean with a smile on her face and gratefulness in her heart. When she doesn’t react this way, their feud begins. Dreams are important and can guide us in life. But when dreams clash, are they worth the risk of hurting loved ones and causing bitterness that could last forever?
Irena led Evelina into the packed drawing room. An immediate hush fell upon the elegantly dressed crowd. Many women wore feathered hats that fluffed as proud as peacocks. The men wore woolen suits, shiny shoes, and dangling gold chains that were attached to watches hidden in vest pockets. Evelina wore the white dress her teacher had previously bought her. She felt just as elegant. Marija nearly broke into tears when the wealthy group applauded because of her daughter. She could not help but think of how glad she was for standing up to Petras when Evelina first revealed her dream of being a pianist. A tear did escape down her cheek, as her girl bowed before the eager crowd.
Once Evelina touched the ivory keys, all anxiety left her. That unexplainable phenomenon of impulses between brain, soul, and fingers emerged on the scene, producing a paradox of soothing the raging beast and exciting the shy prude. The crowd was unable to distinguish between the young woman and instrument, for they were one.
Page 180 & 181
Steaming into the Upper Bay with less than a mile to go the captain of the Amerika laid on the ship’s horn. Its blast echoed throughout the bay on the New York side as well as the New Jersey side, frightening a flock of plump pigeons, yet alerting the multitudes of seagulls. A score of gulls picked up speed and brought attention by circling numerous times around the head of the Statue of Liberty. Many passengers witnessed this phenomenon, but it was Jeanne who was the first to holler out, “Look everybody; there is the Statue of Liberty!”
This fact brought a pandemonium of frenzy. To these people the statue was everything good and true with liberty and justice for all. The statue was lady liberty and a mother beyond all mothers. She was rich with comfort, strong with security, and a doorway to neverland for those who dared to follow their dream. People were fainting and falling here and there into the arms of one another and straight down to the deck. The rich men, however, made toasts in the restaurant and at the bar for a splendid voyage, while rich women commented to no one in particular by saying, “Oh, really.”
Get your copy of Leaving Family Behind at Amazon.
Want more Jerome? Here’s where you can find him:
Author site: www.jeromejohnpeterson.com