Dragons as characters in your novel

Dragons have been a storytelling staple for ages. They have appeared in folklore tales where heroes slayed the dragons to save the damsel.

And in more recent literature, TV shows and movies, dragons have appeared as wild beasts to be ridden or even turn out to be allies. Adding a dragon to your story can create instant conflict as these mythical creatures breathe fire and hoard their treasure or they can be a loyal friend and protector.

Anyway you look at it, adding dragons to your novel can be a way to interject some engaging characters.

The thing with dragons is that there are so many variations in looks and behavior that they really can’t be lumped together. Whether they are villains or protectors, friends or foes, here are the two main categories of dragons.

Types of Dragons

Western or European dragon – These dragons come from European folk traditions. These four-legged, reptilian creatures with wings often have some level of intelligence and may be able to speak either through speech or telepathy.

They dragons live in caves or near rivers. Some breathe fire or poison. Some may hoard treasure. Sometimes these dragons can shape shift into other creatures including humans. Their appearance is varied. They can have horns, multiple heads or tails and come in variety of colors and sizes.

Eastern or Chinese dragon – This also encompasses all Japanese and Asian dragons. These dragons are often serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. They too have four legs but are wingless.

They creatures represent primal forces of nature, religion and the universe. They are associated with wisdom, power and luck. Many are said to possess some form of magic. Temples and shrines are often built to honor them. Unlike the Western dragons, these Eastern dragons are portrayed as benevolent and kind.

Wyvern This smaller cousin of the dragon is a winged, two-legged creature with a barbed tail. It has the head and wings of a dragon but typically lacks the grace and intelligence of a dragon. They do not breathe fire or speak.

Dragons as characters

Since we are dealing with an imaginary creature, what you do with your dragon – whether you make him a ferocious beast protecting his lair or a full-fledge character adding conflict to your story – is totally up to you. You have complete control over whether your dragon is large or small, has one head or a dozen, and whether it has magical powers or any signs of intelligence. The possibilities are endless.

But if you are going to make your dragon more than a wild beast to be slain and going to make it an important character, you need to develop them as you would any other character. You need to know their desires, their back story and build their behaviors and characteristics around these traits.

My books

I love dragons, so they have shown up in all of my books. In my The Elemental trilogy, dragons are large enough for 5-6 people to ride. But they are far from beasts of burden. They are distinct, well-developed characters who speak telepathically but cannot breathe fire. My favorite is Zoot, a gruff, sarcastic black dragon that befriends Lina, the protagonist of the series.

In my stand-alone adventure, The Heir to Alexandria, the white dragon, Enchanta, plays less of a role in the novel. She too is telepathic, but her main role is to guard a hidden fortress, revealing it only to the rightful heir.

My current work-in-progress, tentatively called Blood Bond, goes back to making dragons main characters within the story. The tale is all about Soren and his dragon Dex. Here again, the dragons communicate telepathically and are key players in the plot.

So if you choose to add a dragon to your novel, feel free to go against the norm and create a unique creature that enhances your story. And remember, you are really only limited by your own imagination.

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Today’s Featured Author – Melissa A. Woods

Please welcome Melissa A. Woods to my blog. She released her novel, Getting Past Anxiety, last year.

Excerpt – Getting Past Anxiety Chapter 3 

For those who suffer from mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression, often one of the hardest steps in healing is admitting to yourself that you need help, and then actually seeking out that help. Seeing a therapist or trying different methods of treatment, such as Chakra therapy, can create anxiety in itself. In my novel Getting Past Anxiety, the main character Stella experiences this for herself.

After finally deciding to see an energy healer, she sets off to her first session and discovers all of the nervousness, peace and healing that comes with it. This chapter in the novel gives a detailed account of Stella’s first brush with striving towards help.

A short, fifty-ish woman with shoulder-length gray hair entered the room. She smiled at Stella; her smile was wide and genuine, as if Stella were the person she most wanted to see right then. She took her hand. “ I’m Rachel,” she said. “ I am so happy to meet you.” Her voice was soft, yet clear and penetrating. Letting go of Stella’s hand, she plumped down in the bag chair. Thank God I didn’t sit init, Stella thought. Stella had looked up the name
Rachel. She was very interested in the meaning of names. The definition was from the Bible, meaning, “ ewe” or “ little lamb.” In the Bible, Rachel had been a beautiful and cherished wife of Jacob, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin.

Stella’s anxiety increased and her mouth became dry. Her heart started palpitating. She had been in therapy before, but it felt different now. This wasn’t an office; there weren’t any desks orchairs to sit in while Stella discussed her problems. Maybe this form of therapy isn’t for me, she thought; then she answered herself immediately. The other forms didn’t work either, did they? And she knew her anxiety was getting more and more out of control, to the point where her normal life had vanished. She’d had to leave her sales job; she was always anxious when she left the house by herself and it was hard for her tobe alone at any time. She had tobe willing to try anything. Had to. While Stella had this internal dialogue sitting on
the futon, Rachel spoke softly.

“Stella why are you here?” “ Well, I am afraid and anxious all the time,” Stella said while Rachel busily gathered objects from the room, placing them on the floor next to her. “ I have always felt this way since I can remember, but it seems like the apprehension is getting worse.” She watched Rachel spread a white blanket on the floor, big enough for a person to lie down upon. On top of this, Rachel arranged a shawl that had a deep eggplant-color background with a delicate design in lighter purple woven through it. It had long slender fringes, making her arrangement look like waving fronds of purple seaweed in a white ocean. “ Oh, that looks good,” Rachel said. As Rachel wandered around the room, she explained how she was building a space for Stella, and she continued to gather up items like a doll and a pink flower; then she went outside and took a piece of bark off her cedar tree. Back inside she picked up a purple cord, like something used to tie back curtains. She placed the objects around the perimeter of the eggplant shawl.

“Okay; that’s good,” she said. Stella sat on the futon and stared at the space Rachel had created. She didn’t get it. This is weird, she thought. What does she want from me? Rachel was silent, gazing at her creation on the floor. Was she meditating? After what seemed like a long time, but was probably just a minute or two, Rachel smiled and Stella heard her warm soft voice say, “ This is your space. I’ve created it just for you, a womb if you like. When you are ready, you can enter it.” Stella immediately froze. Her arms and legs felt like they belonged to a robot. Not knowing what else to do, she got up and placed herself inside the circular space on the floor. She lay down on the purple shawl. Her head and her toes lay on the white blanket.

It was quiet, but Stella did not feel peaceful. She felt uncomfortable; she was probably doing this—whatever this was—wrong. Rachel wasn’t saying anything, so Stella just lay there. She closed her eyes. After a while, she had a vision—she guessed it was a vision; she didn’t know what else to call it. Stella was a bird, a big bird like an eagle with a huge wingspan. She was flying, soaring over the mountains. She felt the lift of the wind. She could see rivers below; she even saw ripples on the rivers and fish in the depths—her eyesight was that keen. Stella perched on top of a mountain just to look around, and then she heard a voice. “ Where are you?” “ Huh?” Stella asked. She was herself again. The eagle was gone. “ Where did you go?” It was Rachel’s voice. Stella didn’t answer because she didn’t know what to say.

“Are you comfortable in this womb?” “ Not really.” “You can get out if you want to.” Rachel’s voice was calm, peaceful, like an angel’s voice. Stella got up and went back to the futon. They sat in silence for a few minutes, and then Rachel asked Stella to describe her experience. “ Well, I felt like a bird flying around,” Stella said. “ Was this a new experience for you?” “No, when I was younger, I would dream about being a bird, but I haven’t had those
dreams in a long time.” “ That was your way of detaching from your environment,” Rachel said matter-of-factly. “ Oh, okay,” Stella said, not really understanding what it meant. Still, she felt tears start to build in her eyes. But Stella couldn’t allow herself to cry because she
was afraid she wouldn’t stop. She had just met Rachel, and she couldn’t cry in front of someone she had just met. She shifted around on the futon. She didn’t want to talk about flying anymore. Rachel said nothing for a while. They just sat there in silence. Stella heard the birds chirping outside and the wind blowing through the trees. It was springtime and the buds on the grapevines were starting to unfurl into leaves; she gazed at them through the glass door. They were that pure spring green, so fresh, so new.

“We’re almost done for today,” Rachel said. “ Here is what I picked up. I think your mom probably drank alcohol when she was pregnant with you. She didn’t want to be pregnant. She didn’t want another baby at that time. That’s why she drank. “ You know, Stella, not being wanted is one of the deepest wounds a person can have. This wound is responsible for your loneliness in this world, and it’s also responsible for your toughness, your ability to survive. You had to be tough to survive in your mom’s womb.” As Rachel talked, a picture rose in Stella’s mind. She saw her mother, Shirley, sitting at the kitchen table, wearing a camel-colored dress and smoking a cigarette. A brownish drink in what Stella thought was called a “lowball” cocktail glass was in front of her. Her rounded belly pushed against the table. Stella wanted to cry; she could feel the tears pushing their way forward, but she clamped down hard inside so she wouldn’t. It was hard for Stella to cry in front of people she didn’t know. “ It’s okay,” said Rachel. “ You’ll cry when you cry. You will learn to let goof all this grief. This is the start of your healing work. You will replace all your old beliefs with new ones.” Somehow, Stella had held the grief in, but she knew she was on her way. And underneath the grief was an odd sense of relief—she wasn’t crazy, she wasn’t wrong; everything she had felt her whole life was true: the feeling of being a burden, abandoned, not important, not loved. It was all true because her parents had not wanted her. They still didn’t.Stella got up to go. Rachel picked up the eggplant-colored shawl from the floor and handed it to her. “ This represents a womb,” she said. “It is yours now.” Then she gave Stella the purple cord.

“This is our connection to each other,” she said. “Wear it whenever you feel anxious, and bring it to our next session.” “ Thank you,” said Stella as Rachel hugged her goodbye. Stella walked out the gate onto the street and back to her car. Her tears finally began to fall as she sat in her car. She thought how unusual this form of therapy was. Stella had never experienced anything like it before. She felt comfortable with Rachel and was optimistic. On her drive home, Stella passed by her old high school and saw that it was being torn down. She smiled and thought, The death of an old script!

Book Blurb

Getting Past Anxiety is an inspirational novel designed to help you reclaim your life. Follow the story of Stella Maris, a thirty-seven-year-old professional woman in the Pacific Northwest who is fighting to escape the shackles of anxiety. Stella’s inner prison is built on childhood trauma, and anxiety is its gatekeeper. In desperation, she reaches out to Rachel, a transformative healer, to help her find the key to reclaim her life. Stella’s story is ultimately about how we choose the quality of our life. This book will inspire you to start your own healing process so you can break the shackles of your anxiety and reclaim your life.

About the Author

Melissa A. Woods is an author, professional keynote speaker, life coach, and expert on anxiety disorders. She is also a licensed massage practitioner for over twenty years and successfully worked on clients with anxiety issues. Melissa spent years studying anxiety and learning how to heal from it. Her formal credentials and expertise include life coaching, therapeutic massage, creative writing, and sales and marketing. She received a Certificate of Memoir from the University of Washington and published works in Memoir Anthology of Writing from the University of Washington. What makes her expertise stand out is that Melissa had her own up-close-and-personal experience with anxiety disorder—she couldn’t get on a plane for twenty years, so she feels the pain of others when it comes to dealing with anxiety.

You can learn more about Melissa on her website.

You can purchase Getting Past Anxiety on Amazon.

#NewRelease – BEYOND THE VEIL by Siddhi Palande

Today, I have author Siddhi Palande on my blog to announce the release of her novella, Beyond the Veil: A Journey of an Indian Girl.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a former media professional. I have worked with media houses like Times of India, ANI, BookMyShow and Zee. As a PR executive I have handled celebs and movies like Total Recall, The Amazing Spider-Man, Men In Black 3, Resident Evil Retribution etc. I gave up my corporate life to start a family but couldn’t give up my love for writing.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

The inspiration comes from the environment we live in. I sat down to write this novel few months after my father’s demise. He was one individual who has brought out massive change in his surroundings. Turning a dacoit into a householder is only one example. His deeds were good, noble and thought provoking. His speeches gave direction to the unruly youth. And when the thought of writing a novel passed through my mind, I wanted to write something that would change the mindset of many. Being a woman, I had to write a story about women. And when I first heard this story, the initial shock turned into rage and hence began the rant which fills my chapter one.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I never had this moment when I considered myself a writer. As far as I recall I was always writing. I would write poems, stories and plays as a kid. Over a period of time I lost these writings. Post that I started collating my writings in one place. The decisive moment came when I had to choose my career. I have no other skill but writing and hence I picked journalism over other options.

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

A writer always leaves behind a part of himself in his works. This being my first novel, I have tried including a tad bit of myself and my experiences.

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

I haven’t started on my next project. The offers and stories keep coming ever since people have got the whiff of my debut novel. Some have even asked me to write biographies but I haven’t started work on any as of now. However, I plan to collaborate with my mother for my next novel which will again be a story by the women for the women.

Please tell us about your current release.

This book is a catharsis. I recently lost my father to fate and to quell my emotions I started writing. From a rant it turned into a chapter and from a chapter it became a novella. Based on a true story and facts, this story is about the patriarchal pressure we face in constricted setup of India. Not only women but men too suffer at the hands of society.

What inspired you to write this book?

The story. Actually, in India we have a thing for arrange marriages. It is a system where our parents find a match for us. Add to that we aren’t allowed the courting time. There are many incidences where this matchmaking works out but in some cases marriages end up either with the death of a spouse or divorce. This is something that has happened with an acquaintance. The condition of the girl as well as her parents was pitiable. She fell prey to the age-old tradition of arrange marriage.

How did you come up with the title?

The title “Beyond The Veil – The Journey Of An Indian Girl” has immense meaning hidden. It seems plain but has cultural and spiritual vibes. Veil is something that we use to hide ourselves and in India veil has always had a great significance. We may have done away with the “purdah” system but the mindset hasn’t changed. Moreover, this veil also represents the mask, the poker face. Our personalities are in accordance with the social setup with thrive in. Our true  aspirations, our real persona is hidden behind the veil. Only when we go “Beyond The Veil” do we find the real self. And since this is Janhvi Desai’s journey “Beyond The Veil” hence “The Journey Of An Indian Girl.”

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

This story is a true story and so are my lead characters Janhvi and Ram.

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

Ram is a character I dislike, although he does turn to philosophy and embraces life as is. But he is delusional. He has misunderstood many things in life. Showing off is his way of life. Janhvi on the other hand is a sorted child. She knows what is good for her and what she ought to ignore. She has this never say die attitude and she draws strength from her opposers and destructive situations.

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

The book turned out better than what I had expected. I wanted it to be a life lesson as well as not overly emotional.

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

I would love to jump in Harry Potter world or perhaps the Shopaholic series.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Yes. One book that I have read umpteen times is Danielle Steel’s The Ghost. Every time I read it, it gives me different perspective towards life. It heals me.

What book are you reading right now?

I am re-reading  Eat Pray Love. I love the Eat and Pray part more.

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

This one is a difficult question but since it is only two then, I would like to meet Danielle Steel because her writing is seamless. It is like a river, it just flows. And Sophie Kinsella because her stories are breathtaking. They have always brought me back from sullen moods. Her stories are colorful as much as poignant.

Book Blurb

A Lawyer by profession, Janhvi Desai has lived her life on the dictates of her family. Assuming that marriage will bring in freshness and freedom she gets married to a Mumbai based engineer, Ram. But once again faces the wrath of the society. Every passing day, Janhvi Desai – Raghuvanshi finds her self-esteem diminishing as her dreams get trampled upon. But while finding the meaning of her being, her relationship with her estranged husband takes a beautiful turn. Between Ram and Janhvi rests a delicate secret and an irrevocable difference. But some relationships thrive despite the difference.

Delve into the dysfunctional world of an Indian girl where patriarchy is villain, free will far removed, where two bruised souls meet and it is only to change the definition of soul mate.

About the Author

A media professional who left the corporate life to be a homemaker but couldn’t give up her love for writing. Post her stint with media, she turned to blogging. From a PR executive to celebrities to a Movie Reviewer and Website Manager, she came a long way in her field. She has worked with celebrities like Kailash Kher, Hard Kaur, Hemant Pandey, and on many international projects like The Amazing Spider-Man, Men In Black 3, Total Recall, Resident Evil Retribution etc as a PR. She worked as a full time Movie Reviewer and Social Media Executive for Bookmyshow.com and yet another well known movie website. She has also worked with Zee Digital as content producer. Independently she has published her articles in international web magazines.

You can find out more about Siddhi Palande on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase Beyond the Veil: The Journey of Indian Girl on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon India and many other online retailers.

Today’s Featured Author – Michael Bayer

Today I welcome another Texas author, Michael Bayer, to my blog. Michael released his debut novel, The Absconded, in November.  You can purchase it on Amazon.

Interview

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I always had an artistic side.  I tried to draw, but I never could get on paper to match what was in my head.  I played the violin for a few years in grade and middle school, but my high school didn’t have an orchestra, so I needed something new to do.  Then I had an assignment to write a scene using the ten or twenty vocabulary we were learning that week.  I still remember my English teacher’s exact words after I read it aloud, “Herm, that was beautiful.”  I’m pretty sure that was the seed that started it all.

Over the years I would get complements for my writing, usually term papers in college and grad school.  Whenever any writing was needed for work, I would jump at it.  It would take over twenty-five years before I could do anything beyond that, but that’s where my wife comes in.  When we moved to Texas for her career, she insisted I start writing full time.  Just when I thought I couldn’t love her any more, she shoulders the financial burden so I can pursue a dream.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I know some people say it’s the moment you start writing, but for me it was when I pressed the publish button and it became available for anyone to purchase.  It had taken a little over three years to get to that point, but felt so good when I finally clicked that button, though with some trepidation.

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

I started a short story, but that was mainly to keep my writing skills up while I was working on the nuts and bolts side of self-publishing.  The downside to doing it all yourself is the need to step away from your writing to work on the business side of it.  Sometimes I can jump right back in to writing, but most of the time it takes a couple of days to get back into the flow of the story.  But I’m happy to say I’ve started the sequel to The Absconded.  It starts off a few months after book one ended and is a continuation of the story.

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 write full-time, but not the full eight hours a day I’d like to.  By the time I get my wife off to work and daughter off to school, it’s almost 9:00 AM and I haven’t even had my breakfast yet.  Which is fine, because I’m not hungry until around 9:30 AM anyway.  Once that’s done, it’s off to the word mines!

I tend to write in bursts.  Thirty minutes of staring or pacing followed by ten minutes of furious writing, followed by on the fly editing, re-wording, deleting, doubting and occasional cursing.  When I’m really stuck, I go and spend time with my bearded dragon.  He’s a good listener but doesn’t hold back his opinions.  This all goes on until about 3:30 PM when it’s time for me to pick my daughter up from school.  That’s when I worry about making dinner.  I rarely do any work in the evening, unless I have an inspired idea.  I’ve learned that if I don’t write it down almost immediately, I’ll forget it.

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

There are two things I love about being a writer. The first is when someone reads a scene or a chapter, and completely gets what I wrote.  They have a clear image in their head of the characters and settings.  It’s not easy putting what’s in your head onto the page, but when that happens it’s magical.  The second is when someone tells me how much they love a character.  To have spent so much time crafting and giving them a personality, mannerisms, quirks and a history is not easy, but so satisfying to hear someone, other than me, say how much they love that person.

The worst part is deleting scenes.  The Absconded is about 107,000 words and that was after I trimmed about 35,000 words.  There were scenes I spent weeks writing, and absolutely loved.  But in the end, they didn’t serve the story and slowed down the pace, so they needed to go.  It was rough, but in the end I was glad.  The story was much better, much tighter.  Whomever said you must be prepared to kill your darlings was right.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

The Absconded was written flat out.  I had been trying to write it for about ten years, so when I was finally able to dedicate myself to writing, it just came pouring out.  That’s why I needed to trim 35,000 words from it as well.

Unfortunately, I am not having the same experience with the next book.  While I came up with the basic idea for book 2 (and book 3) while editing The Absconded, I needed to outline the story and character arcs.  That took about three months, but once done it felt great to start writing those people again.

How did you come up with the title?

I’ve always liked the sound of the word, absconded.  It’s a fancy word for stealing and would always conjure up images of Ocean’s Eleven and Mission: Impossible type heists.  It’s also similar to abducted, but with a big difference.  You abduct a person, but abscond an object.  Having someone think of a person as an object, a thing, is quite unnerving to me.  You haven’t just taken away their humanity, you don’t even acknowledge it.  Right off the bat, it sets the tone of a person, or in this case an entire alien race.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

More than you think based on what’s described in the book.  I read all I could on theoretical physics and scoured NASA and other websites for space travel, living in space, and long distance expeditions.  Now I had to apply that to an alien race and decide how they would resolve those issues.  And this became an interesting rabbit hole for a couple of months.  How would an alien species design their ship?  What would be a priority to them?  Now I had to create the alien’s history and how they evolved because culture determines priorities, so that required researching different cultures on our planet.  Once all that was decided, building their ship was easy.  Well, on paper it was easy.

Another rabbit hole was designing the alien’s biological research area and procedures.  You’re abducting aliens, but how do you know they aren’t contagious to you?  I needed to create a combination quarantine/medical research facility and all that encompassed, but make it alien and believable.  And place it on a ship where real estate is at a premium.

Very little of the technical aspects are explained in the book, but I’m hoping to describe at least some of it in to the sequels.  It was a lot of fun and I’d like to explain some of the science and logic behind the tech, but only if it pertains to the story.

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

The Absconded is the first in a series.  How many books in total remains to be seen, but I was thinking of at least three.  It took me a couple of months to plot it out and have everyone’s character arcs.  I don’t have a firm title for the second book, but it picks up about three or four months after the end of The Absconded.  The survivors of the first book (yes, I am being coy for those who haven’t read it) are now in limbo.  They’re all far from home and some are wondering whether they have a home to return to while others are searching for their purpose, their function in life.  Everyone’s definition of home and purpose is different and the story is their journey to find it, all while being hunted by the aliens who originally captured them.

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

The hardest scenes were describing the settings on the ship, specifically where all of the aliens that have been collected are kept.  Making it foreign, yet similar, was a challenge and required quite a few re-writes.  My first attempt was pages of settings and descriptions and was boring, almost to tears.  Thankfully I was able to find right balance of action, character and setting.  I think the first year of writing was finding my voice, my style.

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

I need a dedicated place to work.  Someplace I can go and my mind says, “Okay, playtime is over.”  My wife’s work requires a lot of conference calls, so it made sense for her to use the home office.  Once she closes the doors, she can tune out the rest of the house.  Since we never use our formal living room, I converted it into a second office.  It has a desk and an old sofa, but that’s just so the cats can hang out in there while I write.

But I could easily pick any spot and label it my work area.  What really matters to me is getting into the right frame of mind for what I’m writing, and that requires music.  Lots of music.  I have about 60 GB of music on my computer (about half of my CD collection) and there’s always something playing when I’m writing.  If it’s an action scene, I need a song to give it a cadence and rhythm.  If it’s a character scene, then it needs to be appropriate for the scene.  Even when creating a character one of my first decisions is what type of music would be appropriate for them, what type would they like, and I listen to that incessantly while creating their history and description.  For me, music is more important than where I write.

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

In addition to music, my writing is fueled by green tea.  Dragonwell, to be specific.  On average, I have five cups a day.  Anything else I snack on is whatever I find in the kitchen.  It ranges from an apple to carrots to chocolate cake.  But the tea is required and sometimes supersedes lunch.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading two books at the moment.  Seven Brief Lessons in Physics by Carlo Rovelli.  I like keeping abreast of science and this is a great refresher on the basics of Einstein’s theory of relativity and other advances in physics.  It also goes into the history that led to the discoveries and theories.  I find it fascinating how one little observation, a moment of curiosity can lead to a discovery that reshapes how we view the world and universe around us.

The other book is Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  Mexico City has banned vampires.  Just think about that for a moment.  That means vampires are so ubiquitous and intelligent that you can ban them from a city.  That says a lot about the world of the novel and immediately caught my attention.  I’m only a couple of chapters in, but the world building and characters have me completely hooked.

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

First up is Tom Clancy.  He made technical jargon and events utterly fascinating.  He described the explosion of a nuclear bomb in vivid detail, both the physics of it and how it affects the environment, and made it riveting.  He also managed to juggle so many characters in his novels and I never was confused.  I would love to know how he managed that.

Second would be Aaron Sorkin.  He’s a master of writing conversation.  The first few seasons of the West Wing are fantastic.  He made smart people with opposing view points arguing so engrossing.

Book Blurb

abscondedUnfortunately for Scott, aliens exist.  Snatched from Earth, he finds himself added to their collection of creatures gathered from throughout the universe.  His cage is a window to the wondrous varieties of life, and the atrocities that can be inflicted upon it.  Atrocities that are clues of what awaits him.

Nearby is Kaliria, a furred being that’s equal parts wild and wily.  A long, torturous captivity has filled her with a righteous rage.  She spends her days alone, simmering in her cramped confinement, pining for the fields and forests of her world.  Pining for companionship.

While happenstance makes Kaliria and Scott neighbors, it’s desperation that makes them allies.  In order to survive, they must overcome each other’s language, culture and mistrust, all while keeping their interactions hidden from their captors.  And if they succeed, there’s still one more obstacle to surmount — escaping an alien ship traveling through space.

About the Author

michael-bayerbwMichael C. Bayer lives in North Texas with his family consisting of two humans, two reptiles and four felines. At the urging of the humans, he quit his job to follow a life long dream. He combined his love of science, knack for telling tall tales and decades of daydreaming, and began to write. The Absconded is his first novel.

You can check out Michael’s Facebook page (a work in progress) or check out his Amazon Author Page.

You can purchase The Absconded on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Chioma Nnani

Please welcome to my blog author Chioma Nnani. Her book Forever There for You came out in November.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Port-Harcourt (in Nigeria), went to school in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, and Abuja (the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria) is where I call home.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

Writing is something I’ve done from childhood; it wasn’t like I was trying to try out a career path for the future.

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

To be honest, a fair bit. The protagonist in “Forever There For You” attends college in the city of Oxford and I attended college in the city of Oxford. She worked herself to the point where she got an ulcer, I did the same – although the ulcer showed up much later in my case. She finds that the British weather is not a friend of any Black girl’s hair; that was a traumatic lesson I had to learn … my hair was literally falling off. I can’t even laugh about it now; it was that bad! There are a few bits and bobs … “Forever There For You” isn’t about me, but some of the characters lived through what were my experiences in real life. One of the really weird things, though – in the book, the college accommodation where Nadine lives when she’s in Oxford is called “McMillan Student Village”. After the book was released, I found out that there is a real “McMillan Student Village” but it’s in London! A bus that I was on, broke down and it happened to stop beside the “McMillan Student Village” in London. It was very surreal!

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

Yes, I have started my next projects. As an author, there’s a collection of short stories to be released very soon. I read something in one of Faye Kellerman’s novels a long time ago, in which a character said, “Everybody is either running away from, or towards something.” But it dawned on me that you run till you get home, because home is that person, place or thing where you can be naked and unashamed. So, this collection of short stories is about finding home, being home and … just what home means to a lot of people despite our external differences.

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?

(laughing) I almost wish I could afford to. But I run The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd; it currently consists of an “Authors Services” department, an “Office Angels” department, a “Learning & Teaching” unit, a “Services to Media” wing, and a “Mentoring Club”. There is one other component to the Emporium that I don’t think I should talk about publicly right now, because it’s still being worked on … but I also run a blogazine – Memo From a Fearless Storyteller – and present a radio show – The Fearless Storyteller PX Show – with a London-based radio station.

My work day tends to be … semi-organized chaos. Generally speaking, I’m up by 6am, meditate a bit, check my emails and social media, have a shower during which I go through some part of my day in my head. I have breakfast either at my desk, or on the go if I have to be out for a meeting. What I actually do during the day will depend on what needs to get done. I may liaise with a school to run a training program for them, a prospective client who needs more information on a service or product, an affiliate marketer who wants to sell our products or service, a media outlet trying to get an interview, an author whose marketing plan needs tweaking, my PR people to discuss a concern or a plan of action or an advantage we have, an editor or graphic designer who needs me to sign off on their work, a supplier to pay, a guest blogger whose content I need to approve, a mentee I need to get back to, a blog that I need to send content to (because I guest-blog as well), or my account manager to understand why I don’t like what I’m seeing on my bank balance. I might also have an event scheduled, so I would need to speak to my stylist or skin person or hair person … or all three (laughing). I actually have to create time for writing and that’s important to me because that’s actually at the core of who I am. I try to put my phone on silent from 9pm, which is when I start trying to wind down for the day. I will usually eat lunch and perhaps dinner at my desk, or on the go.

Having said that, there are days I just shut down because I need a break.

Please tell us about your current release.

“Forever There For You” is a cocktail of love, friendship, sisterhood, religion, domestic violence and cultural clashes. There’s quite a bit going on … it’s coming-of-age, chick lit, women’s fiction, Afro-centric stuff and sorta religious fiction going on. It’s also set in a number of places – Nigeria, London, Oxford, Paris and Bristol.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

There’s a case that shocked England when it happened, that I made reference to – a woman named Kiranjit Ahluwalia was brought from Punjab to England, via an arranged marriage to a man who turned out to be really violent. One day, when he was asleep, she poured gasoline or something on his feet and burned him. He died. Her case changed British legal history because at first, the judge ruled that her defense of self-defense wasn’t valid because she wasn’t in immediate danger. However, for some weird reason, the catalog and intensity of abuse Kiranjit had suffered, weren’t heard by the judge or jury – so, she went to prison. This organization, Southall Black Sisters, heard about her and felt she had been unjustly treated, that there had been a miscarriage of justice. So, they got involved and helped her tell the full story … they got a lot of publicity and celebrity support, and the case went back to court. The charge of murder was downgraded to manslaughter and because she had already served time, they let her go. She did a book, then there’s a film on it called ‘Provoked’ with Aishwarya Rai-Buchnan playing Kiranjit. That case literally changed the meaning of ‘provocation’ in a legal context in British law … when I studied it in my first year (Criminal Law was a compulsory module in first year), I had no idea that years later, I’d be writing a book and recalling that. It does pay to listen in class (laughing)!

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Yes. The best friend of the protagonist, Nadine is called Stella and she’s based on two people I know. So, I got their best and worst traits and exaggerated them and Stella came forth (laughing). The abusive character, Tony is based on my brother – abusive, violent and in many ways, a coward.

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

Oh, wow! I don’t have a favorite character. I do have different feelings about some of them … the protagonist is “Forever There For You” is completely different from her friend, Stella who is cheeky and mischievous, but fiercely loyal. I think we need different kinds of people across the spectrum for life to be as interesting and colorful as possible. Some characters, I don’t dislike, but I dislike some of the things they do – like Stephen, because he’s friend-zoned himself with Nadine. He loves her, but is too terrified of saying anything till it’s kinda late …

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

There are quite a few of those … there’s a bit about a plane crash in the book, but it’s not fiction. It happened in December 2005, in the city where I was born and it was really bad. There were only two survivors. About 61 of the passengers were schoolchildren who were coming home for the Christmas holidays from their boarding school in Abuja. A plane crash is never nice, but these were kids. And one of the really horrible things about it was that the plane actually got to the airport and parents were waiting – because obviously there was a schedule, they knew when their kids were due to arrive … and the plane literally burst into flames on the runway, in front of parents! It’s probably one of the blackest Christmases that the city of Port-Harcourt has ever known; it felt like everyone was directly affected, or knew someone who was. I knew someone who lost her sister, I know someone else who lost her dad, and one of my mum’s former colleagues at work was on that plane. There was this one woman who lost all three of her kids … you do tend to send all your kids to the same school, if you can. And you book them on the same flight or bus going or coming … all her kids were on this flight and she was waiting at the airport to receive them. I think one of the worst parts is that till today, over a decade later, nobody knows what actually happened that day. The investigation was a shoddy disgrace and left everyone with more angst than answers.

Now, in the book, it’s the aftermath of the plane crash that pushes the protagonist, Nadine in a certain direction that kinda determines the rest of her life …

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

The abuse. It was mentally difficult. I had to go to places literally and metaphorically, that I really didn’t want to go. But I put in the work, because it had to be done. And having the kind of result that it’s birthed – not even about the awards or recognition or career trajectory – but the impact it’s had on people … a woman contacted me after reading it and was like, “I just read your book and I’m going to file for divorce right now”. It turned out she had been living in limbo for 17 years, her husband was a violent man who abused her terribly, they were separated but she hadn’t had the nerve to file for divorce because she was afraid of judgment from the church (which is something that the protagonist in “Forever There For You”, Nadine had to deal with).

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

This is actually from a book that we’re scheduling for release in autumn, this year. The name of the character is Claire and I’m not even sure how I’m going to get away with calling her the protagonist, because she’s something else! (laughing)

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

Hmm, I think it would be the futuristic New York, in which J. D. Robb sets majority of her “In Death” series.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

No, but the “In Death” series by J. D. Robb is amazing; Cecelia Ahern’s “P. S. I Love You” made me bawl from maybe page 30 till the end, Martina Cole is in a league of her own, and a part of me sees Jeffrey Archer’s writing and is like, “I want to be like that when I grow up. Without the going to prison part, of course!” (laughing)

What book are you reading right now?

“Survival” and “Sun Sets At Vanity Fair” by two new authors, being published by my company, this quarter (January – March 2017).

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

Lynda La Plante, because of what she’s been able to do with her work in terms of creating multiple streams of income and a platform; it’s almost like a franchise. Then, there’s Barbara Taylor Bradford, just because her book “A Woman of Substance” is everything!

Book Blurb

foreverWhen NADINE is confronted with the reality of her failing marriage, her first instinct is to work it out. She has had it drummed into her that marriage is ‘for better, for worse’. Walking out is just not an option – her faith would condemn her and her culture would make her a pariah.

The combination of Nadine’s background, education, social standing, friendships, faith, experiences and past relationships is meant to equip her to become a success. Failure is alien to her and love means forgiving at all cost.

As she tries to survive and make the most of the curves that life has thrown her, she discovers that ’success’ is a subjective term, and ‘happily ever after’ is something that you have to discover and define for yourself …

About the Author

chiomaChioma Nnani is the author of FOREVER THERE FOR YOU. She is an award-winning storyteller, as well as a two-time UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award nominee, in the ‘Best Author’ category. A talented ghost-writer who is known for “being able to get into your head and under your skin, before writing down exactly how you’re feeling”, Chioma is also a 2016 DIVAS OF COLOUR finalist (in the category of “Diva Author”), a 2016 CREATIVE AFRICAN Awards finalist (in the category of “Best Fiction Writer”), and has been named “One of 100 Most Influential Creatives” by C.Hub Magazine. She holds a Law (LLB) from the University of Kent and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law (De Montfort University, Leicester).

She is the founder of THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD (a premium storytelling outfit based in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, where she lives), typically contributes to lifestyle and literary publications, and runs the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine at www.fearlessstoryteller.com for which she won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award for “Blog of the Year”.

You can purchase Forever There For You on Amazon, Amazon UK (and all other Amazon locations – simply search Chioma Nnani). It is also available on Smashwords, the Kobo Store, The Apple Store, Barnes & Noble and Okadabooks.

Today’s Featured Author – Hicham el Harrak

Today I welcome Hicham el Harrak to my blog. His first book, The Land Of Cannabis, was published last year. You can purchase The Land of Cannabis on Amazon.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

hichamHicham el Harrak is a Moroccan writer. He was born In Tangier and was graduated in English Literature In 1993. Now, he is living with his wife and two sons in Barcelona. He discovered his passion for reading and writing when he was very young. Since then his thirst for literature was never quenched. He published his first novel The Land Of Cannabis in 2015.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Tangier, Morocco.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I am fan of the word since I started to read fairy tales as a child. I discovered my passion of writing when I wrote my first short story 30 years ago. This short story was never published, but it was the start.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer when I started writing full novels ten years ago. I moved to live in Spain in 2001 ans since then I started to think seriously in embarking on a new career as a writer. I wrote The Muslim Lover which is not yet published.

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

The Land Of Cannabis is a work fiction, However, it talks about real places and to some extent real events. It talks about history also. In the war of the Rif, I narrated real events which happened. My origins are from Sumatha in the Rif Mountains. I used to go there on vacation during summer.

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

Now I am writing a new work of fiction named the manuscript. It’s a religious mystery which talks about an Imam who wrote a manuscript about a controversial subject which will provoke the wrath of The Sunnis against the Shiites.

 

What is the best and worst writing advice you ever received? 

The best advice I have received regarding writing was that I must go on writing and never give up, and the worst one was that my chances to get success in US as a writer are very low.

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

The best thing about being a writer is that you can live in different worlds continuously and be a friend of your characters. Your imagination is free and vast to the point that you can see what others can’t see.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

I conceive my plot ideas by contemplating the lives of others, by making a comparison between people and see the differences between them.  A plot can emerge suddenly, rough and incomplete, and by deep thinking and modification it is converted into a full one.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I need to outline it so as I cannot go away from the line, however; sometime the plot strings spin off my hand I end writing totally something in which I have never thought at the beginning.

Please tell us about your current release.

cannabisSet in the northwest of Morocco, a setting familiar to the American reader in the works of Paul Bowles, THE LAND OF CANNABIS not only reveals the secrets of the illegal trade, but also the historical and religious background of the area. It takes advantage of such a delicate theme, to depict a sensational portrait of the emotional and social changes that occur in the Jebala region.

Mohammed, a university graduate, is a victim of nepotism who will be obliged to go to Sumatha, his father’s homeland, to grow cannabis in order to earn a living. In this very strange context, the protagonist will suddenly find himself in direct confrontation with Ben Aisha, the most powerful cannabis tycoon in the area. The experience will drive
him through a new world where hatred and greed are dominant. Mohammed will face a series of problems and difficulties which will make him grow conscious of the graveness of his acts. When his life and the life of his family are in danger, he decides to actuate rapidly so as to free his father from his abductors.

Complete at 75.000 words, THE LAND OF CANNABIS is the first novel which is told from inside the Jebala Society, by a narrator who belongs to this society and who knows the reality and the secrets of this culture. Each summer, I used to spend my vacations in my grandfather’s home, in Sumatha, where cannabis was the bread of the mountaineers. This novel will appeal mainly to occidental readers who will be able to discover the secrets of a land unknown to them, its history and customs directly from a native narrator.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book was inspired by what I lived and saw. As I said before, I belong to this country, because it the land of my fathers. I considered that not only Cannabis but also the culture, the people and the history are important things, and that they are worth to be known by other people in other parts of the world.

How did you come up with the title?

The title at first was Cannabis, Then I changed it to The Land of Cannabis, because the first title was a little misleading because the reader may think that it’s a book about how to sow cannabis and so on, and with the title The Land Of Cannabis I established a link between the land and the plant and the man. It’s about a country, its people, history and present.

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

The black moment of my book is when the protagonist will be informed that his father has been abducted.

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

The most difficult thing to write in The Land Of Cannabis was the end, because I didn’t know how top end the book, until I got with it. It was really hard.

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

It didn’t end as I planned, because the father protagonist was to die, but I decided that he shouldn’t die to give the book a happy ending and make the protagonist think about his acts and quit the illegal business.

What book are you reading right now?

Right now I am reading Whiteout by Ken Follett.

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

I would like to meet Orhan Pamuk and Ken Follett because for me they are very brilliant writers. The first one because he is a winner of the Noble Prize and also because I like his prose. About Ken Follett I want to ask him how he could reach a wide audience all over the world. I like his style because it’s clear and simple.

Book Blurb

cannabisWhen he finished his studies, and graduated in Spanish Literature, Mohammed dreamt of a job and a promising future. Unfortunately, his dreams were broken quickly, as he was unable to find a job, because nepotism was rife everywhere. His decision to go to Sumatha, his father’s homeland, to grow cannabis, was strongly opposed by his mother; notwithstanding, he insisted on taking this risky step because the future was unknown, and little can be done to secure one. In his dull and routinely life of a cultivator of cannabis, he will come across a distinguished dealer of cannabis who will introduce him into a new world, and opened to him the doors of the illegal trade. But, will he succeed in the first test? Will he live in peace as he did before converting into a real cannabis tycoon? A conflict with Ben Aisha, his rival in the area, was bitter and violent. Will he be able to confront Ben Aisha?

You can purchase The Land of Cannabis on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Brandon Davis Jennings

Today I welcome author Brandon Davis Jennings to my blog. His second book, Battle Rattle, was released last month.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Hampton, Virginia, but my family is West Virginian. My childhood was spent mostly on the west coast in California (the Mojave Desert) and in Washington State. My dad served twenty years in the USAF, and that’s made it difficult for me to pick a home. Home is where my friends are, and they are all over the place. But my wife and I have finally settled in South Bend, Indiana. We want our daughter to have a place she can call home, and it’s looking like that place will end up being South Bend, Indiana.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote when I was in high school and in grade school too. But back then I didn’t know that a person could be a writer. I thought all the books had been written and that anyone who wrote in contemporary time was just kind of fooling around. I really started to feel like a writer when I was in Saudi Arabia during the initial invasion of Iraq.  I was writing while I was  there, probably as catharsis. But I never really stopped writing  after I began in Saudi. And then while I was in undergrad for Journalism, I learned about MFAs in fiction. I had no idea you could get a degree in telling stories. I applied four places and got into Bowling Green State University earned an MFA in fiction and then went on to get a Ph. D in English with a creative dissertation. So it was probably Operation Iraqi Freedom that did it to me. It was the encouragement of friends, family, and mentors that kept me at it.

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

Because the vast majority of the work I’ve been doing the past few years has been nonfiction (although the book I am promoting presently is fiction), my self has infiltrated a lot more of my characters than it may have otherwise. Or another way of  looking at it is that my self is a lot more readily apparent to me in my present work because all the nonfiction I’ve written has helped me to understand myself better. And I don’t think art comes from nothing, so even when a character does something I would never do, I probably have the character make that decision because I disagree with it. Stories are often more interesting when characters act in ways that we believe we would not. The Iliad  is interesting in part because Achilles chooses to go to war and die: whether we like it or not. I’m more interested in Ajax the Greater, but this probably isn’t the place for a rant about that.

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

My next book is a memoir in essays. Some of it has been published already in variou journals. But if I had to simplify it, that book is about growing up a military brat, having been molested on the night MIke Tyson lost to Buster Douglas, and how keeping that secret for twenty years affected my life.

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 do write full-time, but I’m also a stay-at-home dad. So I have to wake at 5 most mornings to ensure I get some writing done before my daughter starts requiring attention. She naps a couple times a day still (she’s one), and that makes it easy for me to dive in and out of projects. It prevents me from doing any marathon writing sessions, but I don think those are often as productive as the word count might lead a writer to believe. Every one has her own process of course. But writing is no different than anything else: after a while, you get tired and sloppy and what might seem like a great sentence at the time of writing it, ends up being complete garbage upon later inspection. I am more productive now that I have a daughter than I was before she was around to keep me on my toes. She and my wife drive me to make the best art that I can.

Please tell us about your current release.

Battle Rattle is my second Kindle Single and the second book I’ve written about a group of American enlisted-men who live in segments: deployments broken up by brief respites lived at home. Unlike the majority of the books about war that have been released recently, this book doesn’t focus on any one of the particular conflicts American is involved in presently. This book isn’t about The Iraq War or the war in Afghanistan. It’s about these men who’ve been enlisted and serving long enough to have been to war in many different places. It’s also about how the jobs they’ve chosen impact the lives of their families at home. What I’m hoping Battle Rattle does is show people the America that I’ve witnessed and participated in during my 35 years. And I believe that despite much of the heartache and sadness that this book contains, it is hopeful because it should force readers to see these characters fully without giving them the chance to turn their heads.

How did you come up with the title?

The title wasn’t easy. I don’t think titles are ever easy, though. There were a lot of choices: many of the titles I came up with were terrible and easy to rule out. But Andrew Eisenman (the editor at Kindle Singles I worked with on the book) suggested Battle Rattle to me and after a lot of thinking about what exactly that meant to me and to the book itself, it made a lot of sense. For anyone who is not familiar with that phrase, it is something said in the military that deals with the gear one is wearing. An airman, soldier, marine, or sailor is in full battle rattle when he’s wearing his flak gear and all the other items that are required for his specific job. The play here is sort of on PTSD and you might say someone was “rattled” if a situation had caused him stress. An explosion might rattle a person, but since this book is just as concerned with the characters lives at home, battle seemed to work well as a way to indicate that not all the rattling was coming from time spent in war zones. Anyone who’s been in a relationship knows that not all battles are fought by soldiers. There was a battle over who would change the kitty litter at our house for years. Then my wife got pregnant and she won that battle.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

A lot of the research I did for this book was mining my own history. But that isn’t the extent of it. I had to read about a lot of different conflicts and the locations where they took place. But because the book is not supposed to be tied to any specific town or city in America and because it isn’t supposed to be tied to any specific war abroad, much of the research I did that would have allowed me to make things specifically southern or specifically Iraqi had to be tossed out. I’m sure that if someone took enough time they could make a pretty solid guess about where each chapter of the book takes place. But also, I think that the place where these characters are is less important than the time they are there in. They live in an America that has been at war for nearly two decades depending on how you want to delineate which conflict started when. The war I participated in started in 2003; it’s now 2016. I’m not sure when kids start to remember things like their country being at war, but I remember talking to my students when I was teaching creative writing at Western Michigan University, and I asked them if they could remember a time when we weren’t at war. None of them could. That’s not what my childhood or early adulthood was like. I joined the Air Force in 2000, in peace time, and the war that was being fought when I left the Air Force is still being fought today. I consider all the things a writer pays attention to as research. And I’ve had my eyes and ears open while working on this for the past decade. Of course the real research for all books is in observing people, and I’ve been doing that for as long as I can remember.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

My favorite book is Catch-22: not because I think it’s funny. I think it is one of the saddest books ever written. The saddest part about the book to me is that so many people use it as a way to gauge the humor in other military fiction. Really: Yossarian’s situation is horrifying. Each time he goes on a bombing run he faces death. And he survives time and again until he’s  completed all the missions required of him. And then they raise the number of missions, so he just has to go back up and do more. Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of funny moments in the book, but it’s not a funny book. Which is probably why I like it so much. War is not funny, but some people are able to laugh in the most grim of situations and that is a large part of what makes life worth living: laughing when it seems like all hope is lost.

What book are you reading right now?

I just finished The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’d tried finishing that book about ten times over the last eight years and it was only now, after I was done with Battle Rattle that I was able plow through the final 300 pages and finish it. I do not recommend it. If you’re going to read Dostoevsky, read Crime and Punishment. It’s much more interesting and engaging. And if Crime and Punishment is too daunting, there is always Notes From Underground. And if you prefer to read a living person’s work, I’d recommend The Deathmask of El Gaucho by Dan Mancilla. That book won a contest I judged; it’s really good. I’ve read it three times. I’ll probably read it again.

Book Blurb

battle rattleFor Derrick “Vez” Vezcheck, dwell time – the period at home between deployments – is a different kind of battle. Swap enemies for civilian expectations and you get a sense of what Vez is up against: a patient and loving wife who’ll stick by him no matter what, a young daughter who’s a little too OK with seeing dad every six months, and a community that’s quick to thank him for his service, even if he himself has long forgotten what he’s fighting for.

In Battle Rattle, Brandon Davis Jennings’ darkly comic and all-too-real follow-up to 2015’s award-winning novella Waiting for the Enemy, the war is never out of sight and definitely never out of mind. With redeployment looming and everyone around him falling apart, Vez must choose between making things right at home and utterly destroying everything in his path—before it gets decided for him.

About the Author

Brandon JenningsBrandon Davis Jennings is an Operation Iraq Freedom Veteran from West Virginia. He is the author of Waiting for the Enemy, which won the Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Competition. His works has appeared in The Literary Review, Passages North, and Hayden’s Ferry Review and has been translated into German and Czech. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD from Western Michigan University. He lives in South Bend, Indiana with his wife, Kristine and their daughter, Shannon. Battle Rattle is his second Kindle Single.

You can find out more about Brandon on his website.

You can buy Battle Rattle on Amazon.