Wanted: Authors for Friday Featured #Author spot

wantedIt is Friday, and this space should be filled with an author proudly telling us about their latest book. But sadly, I have no featured author today.

If you are an author and want to promote you book on my blog, please let me know. I host guest authors every week – any genre, both traditionally and self-published.

The post can take one of three formats: author interview, book excerpt or a guest post on any aspect of writing, publishing, or book marketing.

I feature guest authors on Fridays, on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related to promotions such as book tours or book releases. I am currently booking for August, September and beyond.

If you are interested, send me a message along with any date requests, and we’ll take it from there.

Today’s Featured Author – Tonya Barbee

Please welcome author Tonya Barbee to my blog. Her book, The Little Girl Inside: Owning My Role in My Own Pain, was released earlier this year.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an Army brat from NC. My dad was an Army Officer and my mom a college administrator for bursars and presidents.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

Encouragement from friends resulting from telling them my stories of life events.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Most of who I am are written in my books. I love sharing when I know that what I write about is helping others.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write? 

I aspire to some day write full time. I work 9-hour days during the week, while raising a 12-year old busy son as a single parent. I find time to write during evenings and weekends after football and basketball games that my son is involved in.

Have you started your next project?

I’m always working on something. As concepts come into my head, I start writing about them. I have several in the fire now. If so, can you share a little bit about your next book? J just completed a collaboration project with ten other authors called, Sharing Our Prayers. It’s available on my website. And I’m finalizing the next project titled I am Still a Rose. To the sequel to the Little Girl Inside in which I fully describe what it was like to be married to a sociopath and bigamist. In I am Still a Rose, I wrote about how it all started. What happens to kids that don’t get therapy after witnessing traumatic events i their lives. I share my life with hopes of helping other women work through their issues, get through their issues so that they can move beyond their pain to become and attract better people in their lives. Broken people attract broken people.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing is that you get to put your thoughts on paper and then publish for the world to read. That takes nerve! And the worse is I am still working through the ins and outs of getting it out to those that I feel the books and stories will inspire.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It can take me three months to two years depending on what I allow to get in the way.

Who are some authors that inspire you?

I love James Paterson, Terry McMillan, Dean Koonz and a host of others. I just love to read books that won’t allow me to put them down.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Little Girl Inside Owning My Role in My Own Pain is about getting through the hardship of a bigamist marriage and accepting that I played a role in that hardship and needed to understand my role so that I would not repeat in future relationships.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Yes, I am Still a Rose is the sequence. It’s about the whole story. The original book only talked about the last husband and a few of the inequities of our marriage.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

Yes in my gray comfy chair with ottoman in my bedroom and occasionally at my desk in my bedroom.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Yes, grapes, pepper jack cheese and wheat crackers and occasionally a glass of wine.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

A Dollar Late a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I love to dance and sing when I can but I can never remember the lyrics when I sing.

Book Blurb

Drug addict, cheater, emotionally unavailable, and bigamist. What’s the common denominator. It is “I.” “The Little Girl Inside” who is unable to distinguish between love, the need to be loved and to understand her role in her pain.

This book takes the reader through the many experiences of the author to include four marriages, and subsequently four divorces. More importantly, it takes the reader through the author’s decision to move beyond her own poor choices and to accept accountability for her failed relationships. This book details the author’s journey from a vicious cycle, consequently, realizing that she indeed had a role in her own pain. Can she own her role? Will she own her role? Turn the pages to unveil Tonya Barbee’s journey.

About the Author

Tonya Barbee, Founder of I am Still a Rose, LLC (IASAR), has a passion to help those who want to be helped. It took her awhile to realize that she had to make a change in her life in order to get the change she was looking for. After betrayal, emotional abuse, and other turmoil, she had to self-reflect, learn to forgive, and move beyond her pain. Her commitment is to help inspire and empower those that are ready to start a new chapter and to stop those vicious cycles.

IASAR will offer events, conferences, plays, and inspirational products that empower women to get past their circumstances to get to their triumphs. Tonya is an inspirational speaker who uses her experiences to uplift women who have had similar circumstances and are ready for resolution.  She’s spiritual, energized, funny, and eager to help encourage others to never, ever give up.

Tonya never dreamed of writing books but she’s always enjoyed telling stories and sharing profound testimonies. Her listeners inspired her to write and the rest is history. The Little Girl Inside is her first project, followed by a short story, a collaborative project with ten amazing authors who bared their souls through heart wrenching testimonies. Tonya’s short story is titled, Prayer Works, in Sharing Our Prayers which is followed by her latest (soon to be released), I Am Still A Rose, a sequel to The Little Girl Inside. She’s working on several other exciting projects so stay tuned.

Tonya resides in Maryland and enjoys spending time with her incredible four children and seven grandchildren that have stolen her heart.

You can purchase The Little Girl Inside on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – A.V. Boyles

Today I welcome author A.V. Boyles to my blog. Her debut book, The Phazor’s Tale: Gems of the Dragons, came out in 2014. The second book in the Tales of the Four Realms series will be out later this year.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Hi!  I love to tell stories and fantasy is just right genre for me.  My fascination with dragons started about a decade ago, with the first book I bought on dragonology.  I don’t know what possessed me to do so; maybe it was the unique embossed cover, or the impeccable illustrations.  Whatever it was that enticed me, I’ve been hooked ever since.  For me, the entire enchanted realm is completely enthralling.  Spin it all together with witches or wizards and my imagination soars with endless possibility.  I have several manuscripts started at the moment, so there is no telling what will make out of the quirky spiral of my imagination on pages of future books.  I only wish that I had more time to write.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I started writing one summer during my junior high school days, when I had to retake my English Literature class.  (Well, no one is perfect.)  I had an amazing teacher that challenged us to see our world from different perspectives as we read one classic tale after another; Mark Twain, Hemmingway, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens.  Further, we were encouraged to write our own fictional story, thus setting my mind to creating a world that would be like no other.  I recall that first story very well, because just underneath it all, I was fuming at having to spend my summer mornings in a musty school room.  As an act of rebellion, I told a tale of imagined escapades of a school room desk.  It wasn’t a far reach as the desk I occupied had been carved, etched and marked by those who sat there before.  In any event, I owe a lot to teacher “X,” whose name, has gotten lost with the passage of time.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I’m blessed to have started book two in the Four Realms series; The Wizard’s Tale: Doom of Magic, which I hope to have completed by March of this year.  Can I share a little?  Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say that the plot of The Wizard’s Tale is taken directly for an incident revealed in The Phazor’s Tale, so you’re going to want to pay close attention.  The Wizard’s Tale contains new characters, diabolical challenges and strength in overcoming one’s own inner turmoil.  Also, a hint in the hunt for the location of the Four Realms island home.  Happy hunting!

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I wish I could write full-time; that is my heart’s desire, but no – I work a regular job for a large global construction company, currently attached to a project in Washington State.  Finding time to write is a challenge, but I’m usually up at 4:30 am to write and answer emails.  I don’t get home until sometime around six in the evening and I hit the computer with hand written notes I’ve taken all day at work.  Usually, I carry a notebook to write thoughts, plot directions, character insights, etc., then as I’m writing weave them into the story.  I suppose most of the story is very cerebral, before the tale is fully develop.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

What fuels me?  People!  My number one question to myself when I meet interesting unique people is. . . “What would you be like if you were a dragon?”  Then I go from there!  That is how the Phazor was born!  I have a very good friend whom I have known for the better part of twenty-years, he inspired the dragon over a decade ago and whenever I need an inspiration I just observe him!  It is his qualities, his virtues, and integrity that is personified in the character of the Mighty Phazor.  People are my muses for all the characters in my books.  The Dragon Witch of Airen Realm, Princess Bridget, Druid Master Garret, characters in my second book, are all real people that I interact with every day.  They are wonderful people who give me pause to jot their idiosyncrasies that are later woven into the fabric my story.  So, in a sense, my tales are about them, their hopes, there flights of fancy, and their day dreams.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Listen to that still small voice inside you, not to those around you.  I listened when my father said I couldn’t be a journalist, which is what I wanted to be.  I listened when I was told that couldn’t be anything more than a wife and mother.  I listened when I was told that it wasn’t acceptable for me to have a career and that is was incredibly selfish to think I could be anything more than beyond what I was told.  It wasn’t until I got a few decades under me that I began to believe in myself, in what I could accomplish and with the faith and love of my husband I started to write again.  Now, that passion consumes me.  About a dozen manuscripts started with a mind whirling with a dozen more!  If I could tell that young girl anything it would be to follow your heart because as I heard someone once say. . . that when that voice inside you become so loud and so profound from all the other voices around, you will have mastered your life.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Oh, yes!  I outline the ever-loving heck out of them.  I sometime even storyboard them.  It’s often easier to storyboard them, because I can control the elements of the story much better.  I often have several plots happening simultaneously, so without an outline or board my stories tend to take on a life of there own and it can take me several weeks to get it all back on track.  But then again, whatever I remove ends up a plot for another tale!  Happy accident, right?

What inspired you to write this book?

My friend Robert Frazier is the Phazor dragon, he inspires me every day.  After knowing him for several years, I came to know him as a truly generous person.  He is intelligent, articulate and can see the truth and value of any person that comes into his circle of influence.  It is these traits that are rendered in the Mighty Phazor and in watching him I too, have become an observer of people.  Seeing their life, their presence, their trials and how each person handles tribulation based on their filters.  He has a unique way of silently guarding those who come into his circle; these are the characteristics of the Mighty Phazor.

How did you come up with the title?

Well, now that’s an easy question to answer:  Frazier – Phazor!  Eight years ago, when I began writing this story, Robert had lost his father abruptly and for just that period he found himself searching for firm footing, and his place in the world.  While he withdrew into himself, he was simultaneously searching for the jewels (gems) of life.  The name evolved from these circumstances – The Phazor’s Tale:  Gems of the Dragons.

How do you select the names of your characters?

It’s very easy for me to give names to my characters, because they are inspired by people I know.  I just apply some variation of their name or sometimes it’s a mannerism that come to the forefront.  As in the case of a character called Lionette, I am she.  I view myself much like a lioness.  I have five children with whom I was very protective as they were growing up.  I’m still very protective of those in my circle, wanting them all to find their own brand of success.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

For me there are two types of scenes to write that are very challenging; one is a fight scene where characters must die, the other are love-making scenes.  Both types of scene are tragic, personal and intimate and evokes depths of emotions that for some readers is difficult to come to terms with.  Therefore, writing these types of scene must be done with their evocative sensibilities in mind.  I want to ensure that just the right note is struck for both types of scenes.  I must admit that The Phazor’s Tale ended up have more battle scenes than I anticipate, but I don’t think that I could have told the story without them.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

Growing up I was a huge Jane Austen fan!  I think my favorite book must have been Sense and Sensibility.  I have always been captivated by the fact that her first edition was published simply with the author’s name as “A Lady.”  I think I would have bought the book for that little intrigued along.  I find the Georgian era captivating.  Just think . . . only the educated knew how to read and reading aloud was a past-time . . . if one could do it well, you were in demand as a much sought-after party guest!

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Ernest Hemingway . . . most definitely!  Why?  Who wouldn’t want to have a drink with that man!  The other without question, Jane Austen.  To see the world through her eyes, while marching to the beat of her own drum . . . how great is that?

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a huge Justin Timberlake fan!

Book Blurb

The Mighty Phazor orders the worlds dragons into hibernation, but a lone conjured dragon remains awake. Defying the Phazor’s order, Salpacha, created by Drew, the arrogant apprentice of Pūrus, Master Wizard of Aberglenn craves power over the forces he does not fully understand. Ransacking Pūrus’ home, Drew discovers the Boka di Draconis, the Book of the Dragons, which holds the key to waking the dragons. The Master Wizard having been summoned to Collin Castle is asked to accompany the Queen her children to safety of Norselan. Now that the dragons are gone King Collin fears a war with the blood thirsty Greer Family of Furran Realm. Queen Antillium is a Dragon Witch and hopes she and her sister residing Norselan can perform an enchantment to awaken the dragons and save the realms. But she soon finds out that she only possesses a fragment of the spell and they must have all the elements before the enchantment can be performed, including the Boka di Draconis.

About the Author

As a Document Management Professional in a highly regulated environment, writing fiction enables me to release my creative side. Fascinated by dragon lore, my first book, The Phazor’s Tale was inspired by a real person. I simply asked myself this question: “If he were a dragon, what would he be like?” Then wrapped the story around that! Although it took eight years for The Phazor’s Tale to become a reality. I am blessed to have such inspirational people in my life and my second book will be no exception.

In creating a world of the Four Realms, I became lost in this mythical place where dragons and magic are a way of life. Where magic prevails, there is always the temptation to use it for ones own advancement. Thus, these tales have a moral-to-the-story along with hard-won triumphs tangled amid the chronicle of a world of dragon lore.

You can purchase The Phazor’s Tale: Gems of the Dragons on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – J. D. Horn

Today I welcome my first author of 2018 – J.D. Horn – to my blog. His latest book, The King of Bones and Ashes, will be released Tuesday, January 23. Be sure to check out the excerpt after his author interview.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. My first published book, The Line, came out in February 2014, and earned me a spot as as an official nominee in the category of best debut author in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. Three other titles (The Source, The Void, and Jilo) have been published as part of the Witching Savannah series. The Witching Savannah series has now been/is being translated into eight languages (Russian, Polish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian). I have also had one standalone novel (Shivaree) published. Shivaree is kind of my ugly baby. Not nearly as popular as the other books, but in my opinion either ties with or comes in second to Jilo as my best published novel to date. Fingers crossed that The King of Bones and Ashes outdoes both.

I’m married, have two step-daughters who both graduate from law school in 2018, and I’m the proud pet father of the world’s most wonderful Chihuahua. He was a rescue boy who rescued me. (Adopt, don’t shop.)

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I’m going to use a quote from the great television writer, Agnes Nixon, to answer this one. “The Great and the Least, The Rich and the Poor, The Weak and the Strong, In Joy and Sorrow, In Tragedy and Triumph, You are ALL MY CHILDREN.” (sic)

My characters are all on some level reflections of me, even if the relationship is limited to my aspiration to share a character’s better qualities, or my battle to keep from giving in to their worst.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I’m currently working on the final round of edits on The Book of the Unwinding, second book of the Witches of New Orleans series, and writing the first draft of The Final Days of Magic, the third in the (so far) trilogy. Writing a trilogy is a bit like juggling. In the first you hope to catch attention by throwing the balls high into the air. The second, you’re keeping them in motion, and the third you have to catch them all without dropping any. The Book of the Unwinding feels like a good “bridge” book between the other two, progressing the story, but taking it in hopefully unexpected directions. Three minor characters from the first book become huge players in the second.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Dreams can come true, but it may not feel the way you expected it would when they do.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

No. At least hardly ever. I get critiques from a team of trusted professionals, and I do the best work I can. I know I am neither the best nor the worst writer ever, regardless of what a five or one-star review might say. That being said, my publisher forwarded me Publishers Weekly’s and Booklist’s reviews. You darn well know I read those.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Rarely. The character most solidly based on a real person appears in the new Witches of New Orleans series,  Nathalie Boudreau rises from a minor character in the first book to a lead in the second. I’ve borrowed several characteristics from a woman I used to know way back in the 1990s. Nathalie’s inspiration was, and hopefully continues to be, as tough as nails, but as sweet as sugar.

Oh, but that may not be quite true. It all depends on whether you count cats as people. If you do, then Sugar Caissy wins. I based the character on our beloved, departed Sugar. I know it may sound goofy, but trust me, Sugar Caissy is one of the major characters and helps drive the plot. It’s actually been wonderful writing her as a dramatic heroine, as it’s made me feel like I have her back on some level. Got to give her a tenth life, if you will.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

I’m going to borrow from the answer I gave when we were discussing Jilo. I start out with a broad summary—basically what I’ve promised my editor I’m going to write—and then sit at the keyboard until the characters tell me what’s really going to happen. As I tell my publisher whenever I present them with a proposal, my writing process resembles what happens when you store your carry-on luggage in a plane’s overhead bin. At the other end of the journey you find pretty much what you expect, but the contents may have shifted during flight.

One of the characters, actually the first POV character we encounter, came out nothing like I’d intended. Alice Marin had secrets, and she made me dig deep until I discovered them.

Excerpt

Lisette Perrault

Just over the blonde’s shoulder, through the window, Lisette caught sight of a familiar head of closely cropped gray hair. Her father, Alcide Simeon, came weaving down the sidewalk, threading his way through the throng of tourists, stopping and bowing theatrically before a young girl, stepping into the street and ceding the sidewalk to her and her parents. The girl’s father reached down and swooped the girl up into his arms as a car horn blared a warning at Alcide. The driver swerved around him, and he stepped backward onto the uneven sidewalk, stum­bling but righting himself. The glint of something silver in his hands caught Lisette’s eye.

Lisette’s father did not take drugs. He did not touch drink. Always said he’d watched too many of his buddies lose it all down those roads. But here he was, stumbling toward the shop. Still, seeing her teetotalling father drunk was a lesser shock than the sight of the strange instrument he carried. Bessie was his “brass belle,” the horn such a familiar sight that it seemed an extension of her father’s hand. Seeing him with this new horn cradled in his hands made her feel like she’d caught him car­rying on with a strange woman.

“You’ll excuse me for a moment,” she said without looking at the women. “You all just keep on looking around as much as you would like.” She stepped around the counter and brushed past the blonde. She grasped the door handle, and, walking through the bell’s protest, slipped out to the street.

She strode up to her father, whose lips tipped into a smile as he threw his arms wide to welcome her.

“There’s my baby girl,” he said. “I was just coming by to see you.”

She stopped just beyond his reach, and his stupid, drunk glee faded—but only a touch. For the first time in her life, she felt ashamed of him. “Why are you all lit up?” she said, her hands on her hips, unin­tentionally mimicking her mother. “And what are you doing with that horn? That isn’t yours.”

“Oh, it’s mine all right. I bought it special this morning.” He raised it to his lips and ran up a quick scale, ending with a flourish.

She held her stance and narrowed her eyes. “Special for what?”

His head jerked and his eyes widened in genuine surprise. “You haven’t heard?” He turned to a passing stranger. “She hasn’t heard!”

She stepped forward and grabbed his forearm. “No, she has not heard,” Lisette said, her words breathless, angry, “but she is standing right here in front of you, so maybe you should get busy with the telling.”

He looked at her, his lips drawing into a thin line. Then his face loosened, and he began to laugh. “Celestin Marin,” he said, his eyes twinkling, “is finally dead. Funeral’s day after tomorrow.” He winked at her. “Gonna be a band and all. This tin horn and I are gonna join in right before they cut the bastard’s body loose,” he said and laughed. “May end up a devil of a second line.”

“Celestin wasn’t a musician. Why would anyone throw him a jazz funeral?”

Her father didn’t respond with words, but a wide smile crept across his lips.

“You did not . . .”

“I sure did. I arranged the whole thing. How the hell else do you think it could happen?” He wagged the offending horn at her. “Just rang up a few friends. Charles Delinois made up a little white lie for me about how Marin was a secret donor for years to a charity to keep music in schools, and how it’s the least we can . . .”

“You lied to Vincent,” Lisette cut him off, regretting it before she could draw her next breath. It was ridiculous. Even after twenty-five years, the mere thought of Vincent darn near took her breath away . . . like someone had kicked her hard in the gut. She loved her husband. She loved the family they’d made together. Still, it hurt to speak Vincent’s name. It hurt like hell.

“Yeah. I reckon I did a bit,” her father said, sobering, Lisette could only surmise, from having witnessed the expression on her face. “The boy ate the story right up. Seemed kind of hungry for any kind words about his defan papa.”

“Vincent’s a good man. You’ve got no reason . . .”

“Vincent’s a Marin.” Her father’s jaw stiffened, the mirth in his eyes turning to hatred. “Reason enough.”

“You were friends once, all of you. Mama and you and the Marins.” She hoped her words would summon a happy memory for him, but he remained stock-still and silent. “All right,” Lisette said. “So how about you tell me why. What do you get out of this parade?”

The smile returned to his face, but it had come back cold and cruel, making him look less like the father she knew and loved. He held the horn to his lips and blew a few bars of the “Cross Road Blues” before lowering the horn. “I’m gonna play that son of a bitch’s soul right into hell.”

Lisette felt her jaw drop. It took her a moment to find words. “What kind of fool nonsense are you talking?”

“It isn’t nonsense,” he said, clutching the trumpet to his chest. “You aren’t the only one who learned a thing or two from your mother. Gonna use this horn to blow his soul straight to the lowest pit of hell, then I’m gonna toss it in the river. Make sure it never gets played again. Would be too dangerous to let it fall into innocent hands afterward.”

Lisette raised her hands to her temples. She shook her head. This could not be happening. Her father really couldn’t think himself capable of speeding another man’s descent into the fiery pit. She’d come so close, so many times, to telling her father that she no longer believed. That she knew none of this, not the vèvès, not the candles, not the gris-gris bags—especially not the table of premade ones at the shop now marked down to $19.99 each—was real. She’d only held her tongue out of respect for him and her mother’s memory.

Dropping her hands, Lisette glanced back over her shoulder at the shop. She almost gasped, sure she caught the image of her mother mov­ing behind the vèvès painted on the windows. No, that could not be. It was just a creation of her mind—more fodder for her next therapy appointment. Blinking the apparition away, she turned back to her father. “Listen, Daddy, even if you could . . .” She stopped herself, choosing her words more carefully. “Even if you do know how to do what you’re planning, what good would it do? What happened with Mama and Mrs. Marin was so long ago.”

“Maybe to you, but not to me. To me, it still seems like yesterday.”

“But, Daddy, Celestin didn’t have anything more to do with it than you or I . . .”

“Oh, he had something to do with it all right. I know it.” Tears brimmed in his eyes, and he pounded on his chest with his free hand. “I know it in here.”

What harm can it do? Lisette thought. Might even do him some good. Do all of us some good. Bury this damned animosity between the families once and for all. Lisette looked up at him. Patted his chest. “All right, Daddy. You do what you need to do.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek.

As she pulled back, she noticed his eyes were reddening. His bot­tom lip began to quiver. For a moment, she wondered if the storm had passed, but then he raised his chin, his expression hardening, defiance growing in his eyes. “You could help, you know.”

She traced her hand down his arm. “No, Daddy,” she said, turning, heading back toward the shop. “I really couldn’t.”

Book Blurb

Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

Author Bio

J.D. Horn, the highly praised and bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series, now debuts a new contemporary fantasy series, Witches of New Orleans. A world traveler and student of French and Russian literature, Horn also has an MBA in international business and formerly held a career as a financial analyst before turning his talent to crafting chilling stories and unforgettable characters. His novels have received global attention and have been translated in more than half a dozen languages. Originally from Tennessee, he currently splits his time between Central Oregon, San Francisco and Palm Springs with his spouse, Rich.

You can find out more about J.D. on his website or Facebook.

You can check out a trailer for The King of Bones and Ashes here and pre-order it on Amazon. (The book comes out Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.)

Today’s Featured Author – Charles O’Donnell

Author Charles O’Donnell visits my blog today promoting his novel, Shredded: A Dystopian Novel, which came out earlier this year.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Last year I retired to write full-time after thirty-five years in engineering and manufacturing—three and a half decades during which almost all of my writing output consisted of technical standards and email. While my career did require a certain facility with language, neither plot nor character development earned me any praise. Not a total loss, though—dealing with people from diverse cultures in all manner of situations gave me insight into human nature, which I try to bring to my writing. And the time I spent in faraway locations such as China and Italy inspired the settings for The Girlfriend Experience and Moment of Conception.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My list of inspiring writers is long! I tend toward more literary works—Inferno, the one by Dante, not the one by Dan Brown, was a favorite when I was a teen, as were The Odyssey and Moby Dick; later A Clockwork Orange and more recently Freedom and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen made an impression. But it wasn’t until I started reading Dan Brown, John Grisham, Ken Follett and others that I thought I could write a book of my own, perhaps a story as exciting as a Dan Brown thriller if not as literary as Jonathan Franzen. When I got the idea for The Girlfriend Experience about eight years ago, I wrote the first chapter and I was hooked.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

If you had asked me when I was four years old what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have said “author,” although at that age I pronounced it “Arthur.” Through grade school, middle school and high school I wrote stories, both for school and for myself, and then I took forty years off to earn a living. I never actually considered myself a “writer” until one day, when attending a writing workshop at a local college, I asked the workshop leader what advice he would give to a non-writer who wants to write. He said, “Well, first, if you’re writing, then you’re a writer.” On that day, I awarded myself the title of “writer” retroactively to age four.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

As much as possible! A writing instructor once told me “I write to erase myself in the creative act.” For me, that means allowing myself, sometimes forcing myself, to explore every aspect of every situation in my novels, whether or not the result of that exploration makes it into the final draft. Since the author reveals to the reader what he or she thinks about the world, the act of writing forces the author to actually think about the world, often with surprising results. I think that’s what makes writing such an intensely personal experience. The hazard, of course, is that the author, by injecting his or her viewpoint into the story, may intrude on the reader’s experience, rather than leaving the reader alone with the narrative. Avoiding that intrusion is one aspect of writing that I find most challenging—one wrong word, one ham-handed exposition, one preachy moment, and the spell is broken.

Please tell us about your current release.

Shredded: A Dystopian Novel went live in April, 2017. This is my first full-length sci-fi novel, set in the not-too-distant future, a time when almost all human activity takes place in Virtual Reality and privacy is nonexistent. It’s the story of Grace, a recovering drug and sex addict who’s managed to stay clean for four years since being shocked straight, having lost custody of her son Dylan to her sister Donna. She’s determined to get herself respectable, to win Dylan’s respect, but also to regain control over her life, never again to become a slave to her addictions.

One day Grace discovers that her life data—words, images, and events recorded indelibly in the Worldstream—have been woven into a lifestream, a full-immersion VR experience. It goes viral, with millions of perverted stream riders are getting their thrills reliving Grace’s sordid past. The thought of her life being invaded by strangers offends her need to be in control, but worse than that, Grace discovers that Dylan is experimenting with riding lifestreams, and is only days away from stumbling onto the past that Grace has so carefully kept from him.

Grace finds a shredder, an expert in the ways of the Worldstream, to remove her lifestream, deleting every last bit of her life data since the day she was born. Her life will be hers again, but she’ll be outside of the Worldstream, a non-person, cut off from Dylan and everyone else she cares about—and she can never go back.

What inspired you to write this book?

Technological and social trends seem to be toward a society in which we interact less and less with one another in person, while paradoxically sharing more and more intimate details of our lives with utter strangers. At the same time, with the rapid development of augmented and virtual reality, we may be only years away from virtual experiences that are indistinguishable from real life. Might we see a future, not too far off, in which the virtual world is the venue not only for leisure, but also for work and social interaction? And in such a world, how would we protect our privacy, when all of our actions, words, perhaps even our thoughts, enter the virtual reality stream? While I’m excited about the possibilities, I fear the side effects. Shredded is my exploration of the promise as well as the hazards of these trends, which seem unstoppable.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I really enjoyed writing Grace—generally speaking, I enjoy writing female characters more than male characters. In The Girlfriend Experience, it was Gina, the call girl who gets tangled up in a web of espionage; in Moment of Conception, it was Ronni, the brilliant and beautiful political operative. Grace is the first female lead character in any of my books, and I’m happy with how she came out—she’s strong, complex, and likeable. All that said, if I had to pick a favorite in Shredded, it would be Raúl, the cynical Worldstream master. I put a lot of myself into him.

The only characters I dislike are the ones that I’ve written as unlikeable. Andrew, Donna, and Joan from Shredded fit that description. But I don’t dislike all my unlikeable characters!

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

In chapter 35, “Empathy Setting,” Grace has reached an impasse in her attempts to shred her life. Seemingly out of options, Grace makes arrangements for the distribution of her belongings after her death, and records a final message to Dylan. Climbing to the roof of her building, she approaches the edge, contemplating her own destruction. Grace’s tortured conversation with herself, imagining the impact that her death will have on Dylan, is a portrait of a woman determined to master her own fate, who nevertheless is at the end of her rope.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Shredded is the first book of a planned three-book series. Shredded tells Grace’s story, from the time she discovers that her life has been hacked to the time she resolves that crisis. The second book, with the working title of Shade, continues Grace’s story as she navigates through the secret world of the Shade, outlaws who have cut themselves off from the connected world. In the third book of the series, we can expect Grace to reassert herself in the connected world to champion the cause of personal liberty and the right of individuals to choose what to share and what to keep private.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Just based on the number of times I’ve read it, that would have to be A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I read it for the first time when I was nineteen, and I read it again for the fourth time last September. But the book that made the deepest impression on me was Moby Dick. I’m still not sure why, other than the brilliant writing and visceral imagery, and I’ve only read it once, but when asked to name my favorite books, Moby Dick is always at the top of the list.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m working my way through the canon of virtual-reality-themed fiction, starting with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, both of which I enjoyed but found a little too tech-heavy. I’m reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer, in the same genre but distinctly more literary than either Ready Player One or Snow Crash.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m the eighth child from a family of fifteen. Whenever I mention that fact, the reaction is astonishment followed by a long and predictable list of questions. I have them printed out, with answers, citations, and cross-references, on a handy laminated sheet.

Book Blurb

How do I erase my existence from the mind of God?

Grace, a civil servant with a sordid past, wakes up one morning to find that she’s a viral sensation: her life has been hacked, woven into a lifestream, a full-immersion, 3-D, virtual reality experience. Knowing that she’s powerless to keep thrill-seeking stream riders from reliving her life, fearing that her teenage son, Dylan, might stumble upon her explicit lifestream, Grace finds a shredder, an expert in the ways of the Worldstream, the infinitely detailed record of every event, person, and thing. He’ll erase her lifestream and all of her data since the day she was born. Her life will be hers again, but she’ll be outside of the Worldstream–and she can never go back.

About the Author

Charles O’Donnell writes thrillers with high-tech themes in international and futuristic settings. His works include The Girlfriend Experience, an espionage thriller and the first book in the Matt Bugatti series; Moment of Conception (Matt Bugatti #2), a political and medical thriller; and Shredded: A Dystopian Novel, a cautionary tale about the potential for technology to either augment reality or to replace it entirely, and about the erosion of privacy in a world in which everything is shared online, and nobody reads the terms and conditions. 

Charles recently retired from a career of thirty-five years in engineering and manufacturing to write full-time, drawing on his years of experience leading technology teams in many countries on three continents to create compelling settings in faraway lands.

Charles lives with Helen, his wife and life partner in Westerville, Ohio.

You can find out more about Charles on his website.

You can purchase Shredded on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Diana Rubino

Today, I welcome author Diana Rubino to my blog. Her time-traveling novel, Dark Brew, was released in July 2016.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books, and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaisance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. I live on Cape Cod with my husband Chris. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

Born in Jersey City, NJ, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, and now call Cape Cod home with my husband.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I am now writing bio novels with no fictional characters, and have written 4 so far. I just began my next, which will be about Susan B. Anthony. I enjoy writing about strong women who shook things up, and call my books The Sassy Ladies Series.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I outline very thoroughly. I still use Donald Maass’s Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook, because it makes me explore every aspect of the storyline and characters, getting right down to minute details.

Please tell us about your current release.

My last book to be released is Dark Brew, a time travel romance.

What inspired you to write this book?

The story took 12 years from start to finish. I’m a longtime member of the Richard III Society, and in the spring of 2004, I read an article in The Ricardian Register by Pamela Butler, about Alice Kyteler, who lived in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1324, and faced witchcraft charges. After her trial and acquittal, she vanished from the annals of history. I couldn’t resist writing a book about her.

How did you come up with the title?

I originally called it Strange Brew, but thought Dark Brew was more dramatic and compelling. It refers to the herbal brews Kylah, the modern heroine, mixes and drinks to transport her to 14th century Ireland, to solve the mystery that consumes her life today, and her past life then.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I thoroughly researched Druids, because Kylah is a practicing Druid. I also researched Alice Kyteler…I found a book about her trial that explained all the details about how the church influenced the court in 14th century Ireland.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Alice actually lived, along with the judge, her lawyer, her husband and stepsons who lived in 14th century Ireland, but all my characters in modern times are fictional, not based on anyone.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I’d say Kylah is my favorite, as she’s determined to travel to her past life to right an injustice, and she’s very brave to attempt living in those times, which were very dangerous.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

The black moment occurs when Kylah is accused of murdering her husband Ted and arrested. I don’t want to give anything else away.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

Time travels (I’ve written 3) are difficult in general, and since Kylah is the reincarnation of Alice, I found it difficult to describe what she experienced emotionally and physically as she traveled back in time. I also found it difficult to write the scenes in which she’s accused of murdering her husband, because she was innocent. It made me realize how much injustice is in the world.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would like to be Eliza Jumel Burr, who became the richest woman in New York City, a very astute businesswoman, and solved two murders. She led a fascinating life.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I’ve always wanted to spend a few days in the court of Richard III, and see what life was like in 1483-5.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I always have a jar of nuts at my side to munch when I get peckish. And always a glass of water in reach.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Oh, so many….but one of my faves is THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII by Margaret George. She puts you right there in Henry’s world. A CROWN FOR ELIZABETH, which I read in high school, is also another favorite.
I read a trilogy of novels when I lived in London, which are set in London, the first is THE L-SHAPED ROOM by Lynne Reid Banks. I read these over and over, never grow tired of them.

What book are you reading right now?

I usually read two or three at the same time, so I’m reading THE ROGUE LAWYER by John Grisham and
George Washington A Life in Books by Kevin Hayes, about the books Washington had, combined with a timeline of what was going on in his life as he acquired each book.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Neither are alive–Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a big believer in the paranormal and have gone on many paranormal investigations, though I have no psychic ability.

Book Blurb

DARK BREW

A time travel romance
Learn from the past or forever be doomed to repeat it.


Accused of her husband’s murder, Kylah McKinley, a practicing Druid, travels back through time to her past life in 1324 Ireland and brings the true killer to justice.

Two months of hell change Kylah’s life forever. On her many past life regressions, she returns to 14th century Ireland as Alice Kyteler, a druid moneylender falsely accused of murdering her husband. Kylah’s life mirrors Alice’s in one tragic event after another­ she finds her husband sprawled on the floor, cold, blue, with no pulse. Evidence points to her, and police arrest her for his murder. Kylah and Alice shared another twist of fate­ they fell in love with the man who believed in them. As Kylah prepares for her trial and fights to maintain her innocence, she must learn from her past or forever be doomed to repeat it.

About the Author

My passion for history has taken me to every setting of my historicals. The “Yorkist Saga” and two time travels are set in England. My contemporary fantasy “Fakin’ It”, set in Manhattan, won a Romantic Times Top Pick award. My Italian vampire romance “A Bloody Good Cruise” is set on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

When I’m not writing, I’m running my engineering business, CostPro Inc., with my husband Chris. I’m a golfer, racquetballer, work out with weights, enjoy bicycling and playing my piano.

I spend as much time as possible just livin’ the dream on my beloved Cape Cod.

You can find out more about Diana on her website or her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Dark Brew for the Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.

WANTED – Authors for Featured Author Spot

wantedNOW Looking for August, September & October! 

Are you an author looking for some additional publicity for your latest book?

I host guest authors every Friday – any genre, both traditionally and self-published. In the past 5 years, I have hosted 288 authors on my site!

The Featured Author post can take one of three formats: author interview, book excerpt or a guest post on any aspect of writing, publishing, or book marketing.

Sign up is on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related book tours, book releases or cover reveals. (Click the Featured Authors link on the left to check out past authors.)

If you are interested, send me a message along with any date requests, and we’ll take it from there.