4 Author Book Blast – Angelia Vernon Menchan, Michelle D. Rayford, Naleighna Kai and Pat Simmons

Today I welcome authors Angelia Vernon Menchan, Michelle D. Rayford, Naleighna Kai and Pat Simmons to my blog. They are on a book blast tour promoting their latest work.

Angela Vernon Menchan

Book Blurb

Kent and Cina Markham are returning home to start their own business with the thirteen year old son, Kente. Kent has decided that though Kente is a good kid with great grades he is too soft. To correct that he tells Cina ‘hands off’ he’s taking over from there. Cina is miffed but concedes. The thing is who is really schooling whom? Not only that who assists Cina when Kent is mostly focused on his son? Schooling His Son deals with complex father and son and husband and wife issues, realistically.

You can purchase Schooling His Son? on Amazon.

About the Author

Angelia Vernon Menchan is wife, mother, nana and mentor. Since January 2006, she has published 34 printed books and an additional 124 ebooks through her small publishing company, MAMM Productions. She is also the Co-founder of Honorable MENCHAN Media, through which she has published books for 15 authors to date.  Her personal motto is, ‘There is abundance through God for all of us; we simply have to be open for our blessings.’

In 2017 she decided to add her hallmark phrase “Just LOVE” to coffee mugs and tee-shirts. This phrase has taken on a life of its own! In addition, Angelia is a prolific public speaker and mentor to women of all ages. She resides in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband and cover designer, Maurice Menchan.

You can find out more about Angelia on her website.

Michelle D. Rayford

Book Blurb

Adrienne always wanted a child. Too bad her husband, Logan, doesn’t.

When Adrienne decides to have the baby, her marriage is tested in new ways. Her husband’s reluctant acceptance of their son comes at a price Adrienne doesn’t know she is paying. She has the life she always wanted. So, why isn’t she happy?

Logan’s focus has always been on taking over the family law firm. Having a beautiful woman as his wife completes the picture. When a wealthy client comes to town, Logan seizes the opportunity to surpass his father and put the law firm on the map. If only he can keep his wife in line and his own secrets from coming out.

About the Author

Michelle D. Rayford knew she wanted to write books the moment she won a literacy contest in the fifth grade. The writing seed was planted. It only took a couple of decades for that seed to bear fruit. Michelle was never good at gardening.

Even while pursuing a degree in Business Administration, working a government job, getting married and having two daughters, the stories didn’t stop churning in her head. Some even made their way into print in the form of poems, short stories and blog posts.

Michelle lives in a Southern city where she spends any free time reading, writing, listening to 80’s music and playing NBA2K. She can be contacted at mdrayford@gmail.com or through her website.

Naleighna Kai

Book Blurb

Michael “Magic” Arrington’s sudden fame and startling climb up the music charts skyrocketed him into the world of Hollywood glitz and glamour. While all was exciting and wonderful at the beginning, the shady undertakings of the music business caused his life to take a downward spiral, ultimately separating him from his family and his hold on reality. Then he met Maya.

Maya Gervais has completely distanced herself from her past, even going as far as changing her identity to protect her from the one man who wants her dead. She is a civic-minded lawyer who champions for clients who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. So trusting someone enough to fall in love was never a consideration, especially since it could cost her much more than she was willing to give.

After the two have a chance meeting at a concert, a daring escape leads to an exploration of pain and pleasure that sets them both on the path to healing and an into an unlikely romance. However, the path to blissful happiness is never an easy one, as they both have their own demons to confront, including Michael’s jealous manager and Maya’s reluctance to deal with things she would rather forget.

She Touched My Soul is a gripping, engaging novel of loss, love, and everything in between.

You can purchase She Touched My Soul on Amazon.

About the Author

Naleighna Kai is a national bestselling and award-winning author of several controversial novels, contributor to a New York Times bestseller, and the E. Lynn Harris Author of Distinction. She has penned Every Woman Needs a Wife, Loving Me for Me, Was it Good For You Too?, Open Door Marriage, She Touched My Soul, Rich Woman’s Fetish and other contemporary fiction novels that plumb the depth of unique love triangles and women’s issues.

In addition to successfully cracking the code of getting published and landing a deal with a major publishing house, she continues to “pay it forward” by organizing the annual Cavalcade of Authors which gives readers intimate access to the most accomplished writing talent today. She also serves as CEO of Macro Marketing & Promotions Group which offers aspiring authors help with editing, publishing, marketing, and other services to jump-start their writing ambition. Additionally, she is Editor-in-Chief for Naleighna Kai’s Literary Café Magazine and Acquisitions editor for NK Recommends—a mail order book service that caters to a select audience. She was born and raised on the Southeast side of Chicago, the setting for most of her novels and where she is currently working on her next books: Slaves of Heaven and Mercury Sunrise.

You can find out more about Naleighna on her website.

Pat Simmons

Book Blurb

Three sisters living in three different cities (Baltimore, St. Louis, and Nashville) make a pact to share responsibilities for their aging relative after authorities find Aunt Tweet across state lines. Her destination had been a neighborhood grocery store. The siblings soon learn the definition of caregiver includes a cup full of patience, a slight sense of humor, and when to cry out for help. Women juggle between career and family all the time, but Tabitha Knicely (St. Louis) is struggling to find a balance. Romance is the last thing she is trying to add to her list. The Aunt Tweet she knew all her life is not the same one who is residing in her home when she accepts the role as a caregiver for six months. Overwhelmed can’t begin to describe her emotions. Marcus Whittington is an opinionated, successful business owner, but he has a soft side when it comes to the elderly. They remind him of good memories of his grandparents. When Aunt Tweet is the mystery woman who stakes out his porch, he becomes concerned that she is not being taken care of properly. He sheds his misconceptions about what Tabitha isn’t doing right when he discovers that every caregiver needs a caregiver. Marcus knows in order to win Tabitha’s heart; he has to charm Aunt Tweet’s too.

You can purchase My Rock Tabitha on April 3. You can pre-order the paperback here.

About the Author

Pat Simmons has penned more than thirty-five titles. She is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth who is passionate about researching her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She is a three-time recipient of the Romance Slam Jam Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance. Pat describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as a life-altering experience. She has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country. Pat holds a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

You can find out more about Pat on her website.

 

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Today’s Featured Author – David L. Heaney

Today I welcome author David L. Heaney to my blog. His debut novel, A Yorkie’s Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived, came out in October 2017.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have had, what I think, is a really interesting life. I hope it will continue to be as interesting as it has been so far. I grew up for the most part outside New York City during the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. I look back on my life during that time and like so many others wonder how I survived. It was wonderful but crazy.

I had no idea what I wanted when I went to college so initially majored in English then discovered philosophy and loved speculative metaphysics even as the area was gradually falling out of favor with contemporary philosophers. I went to Yale Divinity School mostly to study philosophy with no intention of pursuing the ministry. I was diverted toward the ministry after working with chronically and terminally ill persons at a large New Haven Hospital. There was a clarity (and an intensity) it engendered that I loved. The literary critic, Anatole Broyard wrote about this when he was dying of prostate cancer. He said for the first time in his life he had a real deadline and it brought everything into a laser-like focus.

I spent 20 years as a parish priest (Episcopal), probably unfairly dragging my wife and four kids along.

During this time I also pursued another degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and after leaving parish work practiced and taught for a couple of years. I landed next with a large publicly traded company working on outsourced government public assistance programs and climbed up the corporate ladder. I ended up doing international business development for the company working with governments all over the world. I lived in Israel and later London as part of this job. I had a great time.

More recently, I have quieted down and have created with a London-based business partner a boutique-consulting firm that offers advisory services to government services firms seeking to enter the international market. This occupies relatively little of my time so I have time now to write. I just finished A Yorkie’s Tale a few months back and am now working on several new writing projects.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I spent most of my adult life in Southern California but moved to Durham, North Carolina four years ago. I’m very happy in Durham. My wife works with Duke Medicine. The Chapel Hill/Durham area of course has a number of great universities and that enriches the quality of life.

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

My writing is in many ways autobiographical even though the characters in my first book are animals. The thoughts that trouble them, what makes them laugh, and so forth are really different parts of who I am, I suppose. A Yorkie’s Tale deals with big issues of meaning and mortality, and what is really most important in life. Every character is generally a mosaic that includes parts of me as well as those who I have encountered over a lifetime.

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

I have started two books. The first I am well into but am struggling with whether it is heading in the right direction. The story involves an adolescent boy whose imaginary friend from childhood seeks him out for a special task. The story explores belief and unbelief. We cannot see what we refuse to believe is possible. When we believe, really believe anything is possible a whole alternate world is opened to us.

The illustrator who did the illustrations for my first book spoke to me about loving to draw foxes, so I have also started a story about foxes. It is a love story with some mystical elements.

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 try to write a little bit every day but when it’s not coming easily, I’m prone to distractions. I still do a little bit of consulting, and its hard for me to lock myself away and just write and write. Annie Dillard, whose writing I have always loved, wrote about trying to just get a page written each day. You can see in her writing how she labors over every word being just right. That’s why her work is so rich.

So I write every morning until maybe noon. I may come back to it later in the afternoon. In between I try to make a little money.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

I think it’s just the act of creating that drives me to write. What keeps me writing is the relationship I form with the work I am creating. This includes developing the characters, the place where the story takes place. You get to know all these things and as the story evolves, I go back to them adding detail. I heard a writer on NPR say that you create intimacy by adding detail and that continues to inform my own writing.

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

It’s not necessary to save everything you write because when you are older you are going to read some of it and think, “What the hell?!” I wouldn’t really say that. Writers need to be nurtured and how one offers counsel in such a way that it can be heard and assimilated is important. I’d tell my younger self the more you write the more you will want to write and the more you write, the better you will get.

Please tell us about your current release.

A YORKIE’S TALE; LESSONS FROM A LIFE WELL-LIVED tells the story of a nine year old Yorkie named Niles with dim vision and a chronic cough who lives comfortably with his owners, Mama and MAN. During the summer Niles would sneak into the backyard after dinner to see if any avocadoes had fallen from the neighbor’s tree. One evening he encounters Nathaniel, a fruit rat who walks along the telephone wires strung along the alley. Nathaniel wonders how Niles can be content living in his little world the size of his backyard. Nathaniel sees things and is worldly. But Nathaniel did not understand what he saw when he witnessed a family burying their cat. Indeed he was alarmed and tells Niles about this. The two of them later encounter the possum, Leach who tells them the cat was dead and then demonstrates by playing possum. The two are shaken by the news that they don’t go on forever and wonder what they should be doing with their lives. This sets in motion Niles escape to join Nathaniel on a journey to answer the question, If we all die, how should we then live? They meet a number of other creatures each with a unique set of important truths. Niles receives guidance in his dreams when visited by the cat, Deheune who speaks cryptically yet guides him to the truths he seeks. Without being preachy, the book focuses on the importance of friendship, compassion, self-awareness, and imagination.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was living in London away from home on a long-term business assignment when I started it. We had a Yorkie named Niles who, in fact, did sneak avocados. We had no idea why he was getting so fat. And of course there were fruit rat and possums that visited, as well as a flock of beautiful Conures (parrots) that would visit and chatter. All of these made it into the book. The setting is San Diego and many people will recognize this from the descriptions.

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

My favorite character is the possum, Leach. He is eccentric and a little bit magical, and always disarming. My least favorite character is a little boy named Miles who snatches Niles when he is sick and has been hidden by his friends. The boy is very needy and tries to compel the Yorkie to love him, which of course, is unsuccessful.

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

It is when Niles falls ill. He has a series of dreams or visions but this one is especially frightening. It’s kind of the dark night of the soul moment where he, in fact, discovers his soul. And this was difficult to write because I felt like I wanted to write for all ages and the dark night is a complicated matter. How do you talk about an existential crisis to an adolescent? So, I’m not entirely sure I was successful.

Many of the issues the book attempts to explore are complex so my hope is the reader will be able to take away something useful to them based on their unique experience and developmental stage.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

I have always loved JD Salinger’s FRANNY AND ZOOEY. I taught a class on Psychotherapy and Spirituality some years back for a graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy and used it as one of the principal course books. Part of the reason I think I like it so much is that it explores longing and the flailing about we go through as we attempt to figure out just exactly why we are so restless.

Book Blurb

Niles, an aging Yorkie, has led a pampered life with his two loving owners and knows nothing of death. When his new friend Nathaniel, an inquisitive fruit rat, shares the puzzling tale of a family burying a sleeping cat, Niles’s life begins to really change. Another neighborhood critter, an eccentric possum called Leach, explains to the two befuddled creatures that the cat wasn’t simply sleeping it was dead.

Shaken by this revelation, Niles and Nathaniel decide they need to do something meaningful with their lives but what? They resolve to venture outside Niles s backyard, and with the help of Poppy, a friendly parrot, and guided by cryptic messages from a cat Niles encounters in his dreams, they begin to seek out answers.

Their travels take them from their own neighborhood through a canyon right to the edge of the ocean. Along the way, they encounter and benefit from the wisdom shared by others the seagulls, dolphins, and a visionary gorilla about the mysteries of life, and the grace that comes from living well unafraid of their own mortality.

About the Author

David L. Heaney has spent his career helping individuals and organizations discover and pursue their own special transformational paths. He received a bachelor s degree from State University of New York at Purchase, a master s degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of San Diego, and a master s degree from the Divinity School at Yale University.

Heaney has served as a parish minister, psychotherapist, and instructor with the University of San Diego s Marital and Family Therapy program. His work over the course of nearly twenty years as an Episcopal pastor and family systems therapist has given him great insight into the psychological, spiritual, and social factors that drive individuals, families, and communities. He is cofounder of the Social Assistance Partnership, an entity that assists health and human-service organizations.

Heaney lives with his wife, Lynda, and their three dogs in Durham, North Carolina.

You can follow David on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

You can purchase A Yorkie’s Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived on Amazon.

 

 

Today’s Featured Author – Cheryl Robinson

Please welcome author Cheryl Robinson to my blog. Cheryl is on a virtual book tour promoting her new book, Ex-Ray, which came out January 26th.

Guest Post

To Curse or Not to Curse in Fiction

Most of us know someone who can’t get through a full sentence without using a four-letter word. And even though I don’t curse, I cannot say that I never have.

Every time I start writing a new book, at some point I find myself Googling using profanity in fiction, knowing full well that at least one of my characters will curse, Isn’t that one of the benefits of writing—freedom of expression? Why should I deny my characters that same right?

Maybe I’m thinking about my mother’s Red Hatter group and don’t want to embarrass her. After all, for years whenever I finished a book, my mother’s first question was always the same: “Will the Red Hatters be able to read it?” After my sixth book, I started saying no.

Cursing is a part of my DNA. My father openly cursed without a problem and regularly listened to comedian Richard Pryor. Although he always waited until his children went to bed. One night, however, I didn’t go to sleep. I was nine at the time and listened from the stairway. I had to hold in my laughter. I didn’t know who that man was whose voice was coming through the speakers, but everything he said was funny to me. Richard Pryor soon became someone I snuck and listened to. I even memorized the set he did that dealt with the Patty Hearst kidnapping.

The four-letter words that Richard Pryor used saved my play cousin and me from being beat up after school. Actually, the hit was placed on her, but I couldn’t let anyone beat up my play cousin. I loved her, and she had already saved my life by pushing me out of the way of a moving car as we were walking home from school, so I owed her, too.

It had circulated all day that two girls were planning to beat up my play cousin. I had never been in a fight, then or now, but I was determined to defend her. So, what did I do as the large crowd descended upon us? I cursed those two girls out, and they were visibly scared. Words truly do have power. I watched as their eyes enlarged and their mouths dropped. I was a very quiet child, so I know they weren’t expecting that. Clad in my plaid uniform and loafers, I had transformed into Richard Pryor in front of Gesu Catholic School. And that’s when my love for comedy and my affinity for four-letter words first started.

Being around comedians when I was in my early twenties and hosted a weekly comedy show that featured Faizon Love, Downtown Tony Brown, and Mike Bonner, to name a few, fostered my affinity for profanity.

I never want to use unnecessary profanity in my writing. I never want to have a character curse if it doesn’t add to the dialogue. I only want my characters to use profanity if that’s really what they’d say at the time.

So, now, instead of Googling using profanity in fiction, I read the dialogue the way I originally wrote it, leaving the profanity in and then removing it. Then I ask myself if having that word adds anything to the character’s dialogue—the only thing it would add is realism. If the answer is no, I try to remove it. It’s in my DNA, so sometimes I do have to wrestle with myself.

How do you as the reader feel when you read profanity in fiction?

Book Blurb

In this journey into second-chance love, author Cheryl Robinson invites us to ponder whether we would rekindle a romance with someone who had broken a promise to forsake all others.

Meet Ray and Sarita Saint. In 1987, they pledged to love, honor, and cherish each other until death. When Ray goes missing a year later, Sarita wonders whether he’s dead or alive. While she was dreaming of their happily ever after, Ray was exploring greener pastures, a new relationship. Sarita—a virgin until marriage—took her vows seriously and believed Ray did, too. Instead, he left their marriage and their life in Detroit to reinvent himself. Sarita always held out hope that he would return one day. And he does. It’s twenty-seven years later, and Ray is determined to find his one true love. What he discovers has him question everything he thought he knew about Sarita, as well as himself.

About the Author

Cheryl Robinson has the Until Ray trilogy set in her beloved hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Cheryl currently resides in Central Florida. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University. This is her eleventh book.

You can find out more about Cheryl on her website or follow her on Facebook.

You can purchase Ex-Ray on Amazon.

 

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.

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.