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.

 

 

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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.

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.