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 – Taiwo I. Ajao

Author Taiwo I. Ajao is on a virtual book  for Adunni Dares to Dream.

Excerpt

Whenever Adunni brought up the idea of school, somehow Mama found a way to end it. Despite the fact that she was illiterate, Mama was sharp, hardworking and very resourceful with money. Mama had married young, as was common in the culture, and she started to bear children as a teenager. It was unfortunate, however, that she experienced the loss of many of those children during childbirth. Only Adunni and her sister had survived, and Adunni wondered often about what she could have done to save those who hadn’t made it. Adunni was tearful as she remembered how her mother had nearly died last year during childbirth. Was every girl expected to get married and have children, even if it killed her? Adunni didn’t want to be like other girls: she wanted to be great! Adunni believed that to be great, she must be smart and be able to read, and learn great things.

Book Blurb

Adunni Dares to Dream is the true tale of a poor African girl who just wanted to go to school. Although she was a part of a very hardworking family, Adunni just could not have the finer things in life, like school, books, & literacy. In her culture, girls were just expected to look pretty, get married and have children. But Adunni wished for something more.

As Adunni dares to dream , she inspires many others to dream too, including a handsome young man who couldn’t stop dreaming about her! So Adunni has choices to make. Does she give in to her society’s expectations? Does she chose the status quo? What are Adunni’s dreams and where do her dreams take her?

About the Author/Illustrator

The Dr. Ajaos are a husband-wife, doctor-nurse team who have a joint passion for health literacy, preventative healthcare, and education for at-risk groups in the Global setting. Mrs. Taiwo I Ajao, the Author, is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health, while Dr. ‘Wale Ajao, the Illustrator, is an internationally-trained medical doctor with a Master’s of Arts in Communications & Producing for Film and Video. Together, The DrAjaos intend to address health literacy via it’s most fundamental forms: using the arts of writing, entertainment, and communication to educate children and their parents. Adunni Dares to Dream is the beginning of a beautiful merger of not just a celebration of educational achievement, but also of Faith, Hope, Love and Miracles.

You can find out more on their website.

Or check out Adunni Dares to Dream on Amazon

 

Today’s Featured Author – Devra Robitaille

Please welcome author Devra Robitaille to my blog. Her book, The Dream Stealers, came out in February.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a retired professional musician and composer; I have had many interesting and exciting phases to my life, I’ve lived in London, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, worked in musical theatre and traveled all around the world.  I have a great family and lots of dogs, I consider myself very lucky to have seen and done so much on this beautiful planet.  As a writer I try to give back now—hopefully, good family values and uplifting spiritual ideas to young readers.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in London, England and I now live on the Sarasota Bay in Florida’s beautiful Suncoast.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always been what my daughter would call a “book-nerd” – as a little kid in London I had a window seat high above the street.  I would crawl in between the double glazing and pull the curtains closed behind me, and it would be me and Jane Eyre, or me and Heathcliffe enthralled together in a bubble galloping across the windy moors or dancing a waltz in the candlelight.  So the leap from reader to writer was easy and smooth.  As an adult I have written scripts and musicals, books and articles, even poetry when I was young.

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

Honestly, probably more than I think LOL  I try to be outside looking in to the world I create, but I’m sure that just by virtue of me being the writer, the choices that I make for the characters are choices that come from me.  Even if the book is about a puppy dog, which is pretty far away from me, a bit of me will sneak in, how could it not?

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

Yes, I have almost finished my next book, it’s called “the Henge” and it’s set in the Bronze age.  It’s a rollicking adventure, but more than that I cannot say at the moment (she smiles enigmatically)

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 go in fits and starts, some days if I am inspired I sit at the computer for ten hours straight, then I might take a few days off to go wander and tarry……I love to kayak, and bike, I live on the water so there are always amazing birds and fish and dolphins and manatees to watch and chat to, but when I am in the throes, so to speak, I am oblivious to everything around me.  I do discipline myself, but I also cut myself some slack as I recognize the need to breathe in as well as out  😊

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

The best thing is being self-sustaining and self-motivating, I love being inspired and being caught up in a whole new magical world of my own creation; the worst thing is having to slog at the computer, especially the busy work, like proof reading and editing and correcting typos and spelling, Oh don’t get me started…..Since I come from England I was educated with British ways of spelling and punctuation, so I have to make sure everything matches.  I do admit I can get grumpy during those times (sheepish grin)

Please tell us about your current release.

My most current book for young adult readers, not the children’s series, is called “The Dream Stealers.”  It’s a fantasy space adventure and It’s a really fun read, if I do say so myself.

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

It’s a “coming of age” story about a young girl and her journey through the universe to find her father.  I’m fond of her because she starts out, as any fifteen-year-old, uncertain and afraid (somewhat snarky too) and as the book progresses she learns self-confidence and some mad skills.  I hope my readers are cheering for her as she stumbles along and matures into a wonderful young woman, captain of her own space crew, and ends up saving us all from the Dream Stealers.  As far as disliking, well the villains of course, but sometimes one can be fond of a bad guy, or at least admire the sheer dastardliness of how his mind works.

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

There are a series of black moments that are resolved by the characters, I guess my favorite is when my characters’ spaceship falls into a rip in space that is a trap set by said Dream Stealers to suck them into their dark and malevolent planet, the Planet Zott.

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

The story began to almost write me as I went along….the characters seemed to be guiding me to take them to the places they wanted to go, it was an amazing journey of inspiration, as the characters experienced things, I was experiencing all sorts of synchronicities in my life as I wrote.  And in the end, I am proud of how it turned out.  I am planning a sequel, once I am finished with the hundred and twelve balls I am juggling at the moment.

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

I love that question.  I have written a book about Santa called “The Efficiency Claus” It’s a fun hoot of a story with lots of cake and baking as the elves of Santa’s kitchen have to form a resistance movement to save Santa from his own evil Chief of Staff.  I’ve always been fond of Mrs. Blythe who is the head baking elf and I think there’s more than a bit of me in her.

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

Well, being British I have a taste for tea, proper tea, not that watery weak kind.  So I have a cup beside me at all times, topped up by my very nice and helpful daughter, Asia. (who will also attest I am grumpy when proof-reading, or if my tea runs out—Tea-poca-lips now!)

Book Blurb

Devin’s thrilling story of courage in the face of ruthless greed and skullduggery begins on Earth. Devin is a fifteen-year-old girl who lives with her scientist father who has invented a laser spaceship, the Traveler, and when he goes for a test run the machine returns without him. Devin bravely sets off to find him and learns how to fly the Traveler, encountering many odd and magical characters en route. She ends up on a breathtakingly beautiful planet called Vega which is the headquarters of the Dream Council, where she meets her guides, Ryan and Olam and finds her father again. She discovers that the universe is threatened by underhanded and dastardly bandits called the Dream Stealers who lurk in the border regions between dreaming and waking, attacking dreamers and stealing their dreams. They sell the dreams on the black market leaving their victims trapped in an agonizing wasteland, mere shadows of themselves. The Dream Council is organizing a resistance movement to vanquish the Dream Stealers and recapture the dreams and return them to the dreamers. To her amazement Devin discovers that she is not an earthling, but an alien with incredible talents and she bravely steps up to play her part. She enrolls in the flying academy on Vega to learn to become a fighter pilot in the reconnaissance squadron and begins her inspiring journey of defiance and victory.

About the Author

London-born Devra is a prolific composer, songwriter and keyboardist, as well as an author of books for kids.  She had a successful career as a professional musician in England, playing keyboards and touring with Mike Oldfield of Tubular Bells fame, before moving to America in the nineties. Devra now lives in Florida with her family on the Sarasota Bay, and is a consummate foodie, baking lovely cakes and deserts. She continues to write and compose for the theatre, but has discovered a new love, writing for children and young adults.

Devra has written five books, the three books in The Muffy Series: Muffy and the Dog Catcher, Muffy’s Florida Adventure and Muffy and the Medicine Cat are a trilogy of funny and heartwarming chapter books for children. And for older readers, The Efficiency Claus, a rollicking Christmas Tale featuring reindeer, elves and cake, as the workers at Santa’s compound fight to free Christmas from Santa’s tyrannical chief of staff, and The Dream Stealers.

You can find out more about Devra on her website.

You can purchase The Dream Stealers on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Connie B. Dowell

Please welcome author Connie B. Dowell to my blog. Her book, The Orchid Caper, is now available on pre-order on Amazon. The book will be released on April 11, 2017.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi. I’m Connie and I like cheese. Also, I write mostly for young adults, largely fiction with a little nonfiction too. In my spare time, I knit absurdly large and warm things, paint and draw a lot, and sometimes try to make noises on the violin.

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?

Most of my time is spent chasing an almost seventeen-month-old boy with one ambition: to risk life and limb in new and unusual ways. When he is not testing his limits, that’s when I write and work as book publicist. Basically, my working hours exist in five minute bursts when he is occupied with toy cars.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I always start with a big picture outline, but I don’t know how it will play out scene by scene until shortly before I work on that particular scene. Then I micro-outline the upcoming scene or two before I write them.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Orchid Caper, now available on pre-order, is the first in a planned trilogy of wacky nature-themed heist books. A young burglar and a college kid who’s more than he seems are brought together in a smelly surprise and team up to steal…not a precious diamond, not a boatload of cash. Nope. A flower. But what a flower it is.

What inspired you to write this book?

To be honest, one day I thought Wouldn’t it be fun to write a horror story that starts with a mysterious fart? Then—for some reason—I started to write to see where it went. Obviously, it didn’t turn out to be a horror story…unless you’re a pair of underwear, that is.

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

Alas, if I tell too much of the plot, I’ll be revealing the ending of The Orchid Caper. But I can say that there’s more nature-themed thievery and that the second installment will showcase the same level of maturity and serious tone as the flatulence-laden first volume.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m slowly but surely plodding through Phoebe North’s Starglass. I say plodding not because I don’t enjoy it. It’s got spaceships and a murder mystery, pretty good stuff. It’s just that with writing and work and a toddler and no childcare, my reading time is limited to ten minutes at night before I realize I am too tired and brain-fried to put any more into my head.

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

I once thought I was going to be a lawyer. I even went to law school for a whole disastrous year. Side note: “Because I said so” is not actually an acceptable legal argument.

Book Blurb

orchid-caper-working-01A down-on-her luck burglar, a trust fund college kid with something to prove. Will they outfox a master thief?

All eighteen-year-old Darlene wants is to rob the joint. College guy Ian comes home too soon. And some ill-timed flatulence brings them together. Darlene thinks she’s toast. Instead Ian gives her a job offer, leading a heist team to steal a rare species of vanilla orchid. Only catch, she’s swiping from one of the best thieves in the biz.

With her dad’s store on its last legs, Darlene needs the cash she’ll get when the job is done. Ian’s in it to win a bet. Can their rag-tag team pinch the flower right under their mark’s nose? And can they remember not to eat beans for breakfast?

About the Author

author-photo-c-dowellConnie B. Dowell can’t resist breaking the law…on the page, that is. She spins tales of nefarious folks and the people who catch them. In addition to The Orchid Caper, she has written The Poison in All of Us, a young adult historical mystery novella set in 1918. A former university writing center coordinator, Connie also authored You Can Love Writing: A Guide to Get through Your College Papers and Like It. When not writing, she is a work-at-home parent and a law abiding citizen. Connie lives in central Virginia with her husband and son (and soon a daughter).

You can find out more about Connie on her website.

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The Orchid Caper is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released April 11, 2017.

Excerpts from Books Released in 2016

In 2016, I hosted 52 authors on my weekly Featured Author spot (to sign up for 2017, contact me) and quite a few more authors for book tours or new release announcements. Since I hope many people received new tablets or e-readers this past holiday season, I thought I would post some excerpts of the books that came out in 2016.

I have sorted them by genre and included just the first few paragraphs of the excerpt. If it intrigues you, read more by clicking the link. A link to purchase the book is included with the rest of the excerpt. Please enjoy! (And if you are an author and want to be featured, please let me know!)

Fantasy

Elves: Battle at Baader Hill by Danny Williams

Aken slipped out from behind the hedge. He felt naked as only intermittent darkness cloaked his movement. He wondered if going in a straight line would be better or trying to sneak to the objective by going from shadow to shadow. Just then a figure moved out from the hedge and he came face to face with a mercenary. But the flickering firelight revealed him to be a boy about his own age. Fear and surprise glistened in his face. For a moment Aken thought he recognized him as one of his school friends “Kill him!” buzzed Merlin’s voice in Aken’s head.

Aken’s sudden reaction to Merlin’s orders to draw his sword prompted the other boy to action. He pulled his own sword and swung it overhand in an attempt to cleft Aken in twain. Fortunately, Aken was quick to mostly block the blow with his own blade which caught Aken on the top of the head with enough force to draw blood. The pain was sharp and at the same time terrifying because there was someone at arm’s length trying to kill him. Aken swung his sword in a clumsy arc that glanced harmlessly off of the boy’s padded shoulder. Blood trickled down Aken’s face from the cut on his scalp; his breath was heavy and fast. Aken blocked another wild swing from the boy and countered with a slash that counted. Aken had swung this sword hundreds of times in practice and it had never felt like it did when the sword cut through actual flesh. The boy let out a scream as the blade cut into his neck, but not deep enough. Aken knew that all the commotion was sure to flush the other mercenaries. (To read more, click here.)

The Circle of Candles by Jessica Rowan

circle-of-candlesGrey wasn’t a young dog. That’s not to say that he was old, certainly not, but he frequently nodded off in front of the television, his joints ached a little more than he would have liked and he definitely preferred to sleep uninterrupted through the night. None of this would stop him from protecting Amy, of course. Nothing would ever stop him from protecting Amy.

So when this not-young but certainly-not-old dog was roused in the middle of the night, he felt just a little bit grumpy. He pulled himself up out of his basket to pace the attic room, tail moving low and slow. He pressed his nose to the wooden floor and sniffed back and forth, casting a furtive glance at the bed. Amy was fast asleep as usual, her tousled hair escaping in blond curls from the top of the duvet, her breathing deep and regular. (To read more, click here.)

Paranormal Romance

Ariel: The First Guardian by Sydney Scrogham

I never wake up and think today’s the day I’m going to get dumped.

February wind chills my shoulders, and I tug the pink and blue patterned quilt snug around me and keep walking. The quilt is soft under my fingertips, smoothed from years of rubbing in my mother’s absence. One of the pink polka dot squares is frayed and flapping free.  I could wear a coat, but it’s a jab against my father to sneak out in just a quilt. He thinks he can control me, but he can’t. He especially can’t control who I’m going to meet. Ryan, a.k.a. saintly pastor’s kid, is the first human being to make me feel like I’m made of more than slime.

The trail under my feet is brown and well-worn from countless walks to the river.  Yellowed grass struggles to survive on either side of my path. My knee-length floral print dress ripples around my legs and my exposed skin prickles where the wind bites. I hate flowery anything. Just seeing my reflection in clothes so feminine puts cinderblocks in my lungs. But this was mom’s hand-me-down. I wish she could’ve met Ryan. He’s reserved his whole day for me today. I can’t stop the stupid smile that smooths over my mouth. Maybe I’ll get kissed for the first time—but do I really want that? (To read more, click here.)

Romance

After the Pain (Latter Rain Series Book 1) by Adrienne Thompson

ATP2_smMy tea cup rattled on its saucer at the sound of his voice. I didn’t dare look up at him as I set the cup down and forced myself not to rush to him and wrap my legs around his waist.

“Thank you, August. Want some tea?” Ms. Dorcas asked.

“Yes, ma’am, I’d love some,” he replied, and then he did something that made my entire body stand at attention; he sat right next to me on the loveseat. From that point on all I could do was sit there and remind myself to breathe as my body temperature began to slowly rise. I shoved my unsteady hands under my thighs and fixed my eyes on the floral-patterned rug beneath my feet. I could smell his sweat, a scent that was beginning to become both familiar and appealing to me, and though I kept my eyes away from him, the image of his face dominated my thoughts. (To read more, click here.)

Science Fiction

Hero, Book 1 of The Hero Rebellion by Belinda Crawford (Book 2 came out in 2016)

It was windy on the foredeck, and cold, but the air smelled like freedom and Fink was warm against Hero’s back.

The ruc-pard purred, a rumble that vibrated from his giant chest into hers, and all the way down to her toes. She snuggled deeper into the hollow between his fore- and mid-quarters, enjoying the feel of his thick winter coat. Golden-red and silky, she sank into it, the hairs brushing her bare arms with every giant breath he took, the longer, coarser hair on his ruff tickling her cheek. Fink’s black, hairless tail wrapped around them both, the heavy weight of it draped across her feet, warming her toes.

Lazy images swam through her mind, carried on the distinct pink and mawberry of Fink’s thoughts – the taste of them sweet, the touch of them a soft fizz winding through her brain. She might have stopped and played for a moment in his memories, if the huge skytowers of Cumulus City weren’t spread across the horizon. (To read more, click here.)

No Net by Noah Nichols

NoNetFCTo her, the glow of the screen was intoxicating. Undeniably addicted, she was glued to her phone almost like an infant would be to its mother’s breast. Anyone who became attached to their device of choice simply couldn’t detach the way a child could. It was a phenomenon that truly overtook the lives of the vast majority.

Twenty-eight-year-old Scott Hadaway was presently being ignored by his mildly younger wife, Gwen, who was comfortably tucked in bed, blissfully unaware of anything in three-dimensional space. Digitally, mentally, physically, and spiritually, her entire being belonged to the black mirror.

“I just don’t understand how you constantly have to have that thing right up to your face,” he said angrily. (To read more, click here.)

Suspense

Jilo by J.D. Horn

“Thank you, Pastor,” Jesse’s mama said, placing her hand on his shoulder. Pastor Jones looked at her, Bible still held high, seeming to deliberate whether or not he should shrug her off and carry on. “I do so appreciate you coming out today,” May added in a sincere tone. Jesse knew his mama, though, and despite her calm demeanor, he knew she’d heard enough. The preacher had been given more than enough time to speak of wheat and chaff and wise virgins with well-trimmed wicks. The look on her face was the one she used when placating anyone in authority—usually the buckra, but occasionally one of their own. “We need to be getting the babies and the old folk out of the sun before one of them falls ill.”

The young man searched her face for a moment, then acquiesced. “Thank you, sister,” he said, taking a step back from the head of the grave. (To read more, click here.)

A Flash of Red by Sarah K. Stephens

afor-front-cover-comp-high-resAnna’s heart skipped a beat in a wave of involuntary fear. There were only two eggs in the refrigerator.

Five minutes before, Anna came down the stairs, perfumed and fully dressed, ready to begin her day. She would make pancakes for her husband, who was still asleep in their bedroom. She would wash fresh raspberries to put on top. She would lay the table with care. All of this to set a pattern of comfortable predictability for Anna, ensuring the day would unfold in a way she could control. But now, everything was skewed by yet another ordinary situation somehow turned inexplicable in Anna’s life. Or at least she preferred to see these blips in her daily horizon as having no reasonable explanation, because the most reasonable explanation of all was unacceptable.

She’d checked last night before going to bed–everything she needed was there. A full carton of eggs, their twelve white orbs nestled neatly in the divots on the side of the refrigerator door. Anna always took them out of their cardboard container after returning from the grocery store and moved them lovingly to their designated place. So where had they gone? (To read more, click here.)

Historical Romance

The Judas Pledge by Margaret Brazear

Her plan was put on hold indefinitely when one morning a messenger arrived on horseback asking to see Richard.  The man seemed to be in a panic and Bethany ordered refreshments for him, but he refused to tell her his message; that was for His Lordship’s ears only.

A few minutes after he had gone, Richard came to join his wife in their bedchamber where she sat on the bed, wondering why the messenger had been so secretive. Her heart sank when she saw he was buckling a sword at his waist.  He strode across the room and took her face in his warm hands, then they dropped to her shoulders and he lifted her to her feet.

“King Edward is dead,” he announced. “Jane Grey has been proclaimed Queen in London.” (To read more, click here.)

Historical Novel

Trade Winds to Meluhha by Vasant Davé

trade windsSwells higher than a man’s height rocked Captain Paravar’s ship. His sailors sniggered as Sam sat at the base of the mast, gripping it like a child hugging its mother. Although he was used to the howling desert winds, he had never heard such ominous rumbling every time the lightning stabbed the darkness. The waves slapped the vessel whose woodwork screeched eerily, making Sam wish he could shut his ears just like his eyes.

Had fate saved him from execution only to drown him at sea? (To read more, click here.)

Young Adult

Ignominy – Chapters of Chargin by MRoyale

Chagrin – The intense feeling of mental unease, as of annoyance or embarrassment, caused by failure, disappointment, or disconcerting events.

When Mr. Aggressive met Ms. Passive (Ace and Ms. Phoenix), it was an all-out get-down-with-ya-bad-self smoking and drinking, do-not-tell kind of party. Soon thereafter, Roxie was born. She was a tiny, sick looking baby at the time of birth. See, Ms. Phoenix hardly ever took care of herself during her pregnancy. How could she?  Especially with all of the mental, emotional, and physical abuse she tolerated from Ace. She barely ate and never took her prescribed prenatal vitamins. She refused to receive the proper medical care she needed when she was pregnant. Ms. P seemed to be hiding bruises and ugly black eyes, under huge designer sunglasses, from all the doctors—knowing that they would alert authorities. Soon thereafter, an unplanned Alex was born. (To read more, click here.)

Today’s Featured Author – MRoyale

Today I welcome author MRoyale to my blog. Please enjoy a sample of both her books – her young adult book Ignominy-Chapters of Chargin and her children’s book Color Land.

Ignominy – Chapters of Chagrin is available for $1.99 & Color Land – From Play School to Color Land is available for 99 cents as Kindle Countdown Deal on Amazon thru October 10th.

Excerpt – Ignominy – Chapters of Chagrin

Chapter 2

“CHAGRIN”

Chagrin – The intense feeling of mental unease, as of annoyance or embarrassment, caused by failure, disappointment, or disconcerting events.

When Mr. Aggressive met Ms. Passive (Ace and Ms. Phoenix), it was an all-out get-down-with-ya-bad-self smoking and drinking, do-not-tell kind of party. Soon thereafter, Roxie was born. She was a tiny, sick looking baby at the time of birth. See, Ms. Phoenix hardly ever took care of herself during her pregnancy. How could she?  Especially with all of the mental, emotional, and physical abuse she tolerated from Ace. She barely ate and never took her prescribed prenatal vitamins. She refused to receive the proper medical care she needed when she was pregnant. Ms. P seemed to be hiding bruises and ugly black eyes, under huge designer sunglasses, from all the doctors—knowing that they would alert authorities. Soon thereafter, an unplanned Alex was born. Ms. Phoenix was not only cute and bodied, she was also shy and naïve.  Ace took those qualities for granted and used Ms. P as his own personal punching bag, whenever he felt the need to overload on a few alcoholic beverages. She had everything from busted lips, bloody noses, and even a broken collarbone. They constantly argued and whenever Ace had one too many, the boxing match would begin. Afterward, he would just beg for forgiveness and promise to never do it again. Yet, it definitely and violently happened over and over again.   Ms. Phoenix made a vow to herself to never, ever let Ace physically and verbally abuse her in front of her baby girl because one day she would be old enough to see and understand what was really going on. You know what they say, “When a woman’s fed up!” All Roxie could remember, on one horrific day of fighting and arguing, was her father picking up a huge metal crab pot off the stove and throwing it at Ms. P. Ace smacked and punched her face until it turned purplish blue.  Roxie and Alex started screaming, forcing Ms. Phoenix to grab them with only the clothes on their backs, throwing them into her car. Ms. P started running for dear life as her bell bottoms swung with the wind. She jumped in the driver’s seat of the vehicle and drove away as Roxie and her brother looked out the back window in shock and sadness. Usually, when they looked out of the back window, they would cheer for their mother to race past the other cars while yelling, “Go Momma Go!” This ride was very different in every way. It was the last time, in a long time, that they would ever see their father, Ace, again.

The experience was quite easy for them since Ace neither signed his kids’ birth certificates nor married their mother. In the streets, Ace was known as this popular community spokesman who affected many people’s lives in a positive manner. Yet at home, he was mean, abusive, sarcastic, and an alcoholic. He was “The Man” on the outside, though. A good singer, dancer, and a well-dressed ladies’ man too. He always kept his wardrobe sharp— making sure his shoes matched his belt and his socks matched his suit and tie. Along with his wit, sense of humor, and his intelligence, people everywhere loved his style. You could walk down the street with him and someone from every corner would say, “Hello!” shake his hand, or give the nod to say, “Hey, what’s up?”  No one but his immediate family knew the demons within him. Once he began to realize there was a mental mania in his own head, he became more and more difficult to deal with. Most of the time he was a recluse. It would just be Ace and his happy drinks.

Book Blurb

Ignominy-Chapters Of ChagrinRoxie Nicole Phoenix aka “Roxie Brown Eyes” is the epitome of “individual vs. self” in this fascinating Story. Roxie’s character captivates us all as she communicates through her beautiful, yet intimidating brown eyes. Throughout her abusive life, she makes choices and decisions that would live with her for the rest of her existence. Her mother’s life choices allowed her stepfather, Leon Miny, to use ‘chastising’ as his excuse for child abuse against her and her younger brother, Alex. This lead Roxie to dwell in her own realm of imagination—sometimes not fully aware of the difference between reality and fantasy. When engulfed by her environment, a path of destruction seemed to be the only walkway towards every devastating encounter. She also experiences a few sensually enticing moments in her life {which fed the naughty side of her appetite} that she would not trade for anything.
In this Urban Short Story, Roxie is an example of a girl destroyed by her childhood—the ignominy or shame, and peer pressure—also her attempts to fight through the chagrin of humiliation surrounding her. Though resilient, she could never duck the darts thrown at her and it cost her everything—or did it?

 

Excerpt – Color Land – From Play School to Color Land

“Where am I?” “Can anyone hear me?” Renee’s voice echoed loudly. As she rubbed her eyes in disbelief, she looked around nervously and wondered what place could be so beautiful. She was sitting on a heart-shaped leaf floating on bright blue water. There were bright crayon colored houses and trees that had beautiful flower paths with butterflies nearby. Meanwhile, brightly colored balloons floated in the sky. Renee’ was excited as she was getting closer to land.  She jumped off of the heart shaped leaf in amazement. “Wow!” she said, “What a different place!” “I wonder where I could be.”

Renee’ started to walk down a colorful flowered path while admiring all of nature’s beauty. This unknown place gave her a feeling of acceptance that she never felt before, and she loved it.

“Hi,” says a little boy who is kneeled down below a lively tree. “Who said that?” says Renee’. “I did. My name is Marty and who are you? You don’t look like you are from here in Color Land”, said the little boy. Renee’ jumped for joy. She said, “So that’s where I am! Color Land. Yay!” “Well you definitely look like you are from here with your orange-red hair and your blue high water pants!” said Renee’ proudly. She noticed that Marty began looking sad and realized that what she just said to him wasn’t very nice. She also knew that she was treating him the same way the other children at Play School treated her.

She did not want to be mean anymore so she asked the little boy, “Why are you knelt down underneath a colorful, lively tree?” He said, “Whenever Big Head Harry Monster is selfish or doesn’t play fair, the more my land‘s colors begin to fade and the people lose their joy. So I found one of the last colorful trees in the land.” “Well that bums me out knowing your land is being bullied here and I am not being treated so nicely at my school back home. We need to learn how to stick up for ourselves without being hurtful. So, are you in?” says Renee’. “Yeah, let’s go get that big headed monster and teach him a thing or two!” said Marty.

Renee’ knew she had to do something about it. So, off they went in search of Harry the monster who was stealing away all the color from Color Land. That was pretty mean and selfish of him, also quite unfair. As soon as they reached the darkest and gloomiest part of Color Land, they knew they were near the big headed monster. But, he found them first.  “Rrrr!” said Harry as he jumped from a gray tree. “Who are you and what are you doing on my land?” said the big headed monster. “Uh, my name is Renee’ and this is Marty. Why are you so mean, selfish, and not playing fairly? You are erasing all the color from Color Land and making everyone sad. The people from Color Land are losing their happiness because the world is not bright anymore—it’s becoming dark and gloomy. You are nothing but a big headed hairy wannabe!” Said Renee’. “I am what I am and I’ll erase what I wanna! Don’t you mess with me little boy and girl because I’ll turn this whole land into its darkest gloom! Especially, since that’s how I feel inside” says Harry the monster as he began to cry. Marty asks the monster why is he such a sad bully and Harry replied, “Because I don’t have a mommy and daddy to love me and make my life bright and colorful like everyone else does.”

Book Blurb

colorlandColor Land is an amazing story of how a special little girl, named Renee’, was determined to overcome her experiences of bullying at Play School. She was being made fun of which really hurt her feelings. One afternoon, Renee’ drifted off into the world of pretend—unaware that she would dream all of her wishes true. During naptime, she traveled to a delightful place called Color Land. There she met a friend who was even more unique than herself, named Marty, whom she helped defeat a major challenge—all while experiencing exciting adventures. Once Renee’ realized she can do anything she sets her mind to, she wanted to solve all of her problems at Play School, make new friends, and finally be accepted for her uniqueness. Renee’ wanted more than anything to help her playmates understand that the make-believe world is much more fun than laughing at others. She also needed them to know that being different can be cool.

About the Author

mroyaleMRoyale♔ is an ambitious Author, Entrepreneur, Student, and former Recording Artist—as well as a Wife, Mother, & GrandRoyale. She has been writing books for over four years while attending two different colleges. Her interesting life and educational background have allowed her to explore many topics of fascination. Her wishes are to touch people’s lives and entertain them with her heart filled, overflow of imagination.

You can find out more about her on her Amazon Author page.

Both books can be found on Amazon. And be sure to pickup them at their low discount prices good thru Monday!

Ignominy – Chapters of Chagrin is available for $1.99 & Color Land – From Play School to Color Land is available for 99 cents as Kindle Countdown Deal thru October 10th.

Today’s Featured Author – Yasmin Shiraz

Today, I welcome author Yasmin Shiraz to my blog. Yasmin is just wrapping up a Virtual Book Tour as she promotes her latest release – Loyal, a young adult novel released this week. (You can purchase Loyal on Amazon.)

Interview

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I began writing when I was still in single digits. I wrote and compiled my first book of poetry when I was 19. I considered myself a writer at that age. By the age of 21,  I had written my first television episode spec script. Many people consider themselves aspiring writers, but I believe you are a writer the moment you commit to completing a work.

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

A lot of my experiences dance between the pages of my books. I am so inspired by real life and I convey that energy in my books.  In both the Retaliation series and the Tisha Ariel Nikkole series, I’ve created strong, female protagonists. These characters guide the stories and every decision ripples through the books. I believe I have a strong personality and I’m encouraged by the decisions that my female protagonists make. In many cases, I’ve had to make similar decisions or have been put in similar situations.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plot ideas are influenced by my research on youth, culture and the entertainment business. Additionally, since I’ve worked with youth for the past twelve years, I’m inspired by the fearless teens I’ve met along the way. For my adult novel series, I’ve created plots based on my personal experiences as a hip hop / entertainment journalist and my work with top secret security clearance based government agencies.

Please tell us about your current release.

My latest book is Loyal. It’s the prequel to Retaliation. It’s about the relationship between a brother and sister. In the book Retaliation readers were able to see how protective Khalil was of his sister Tashera, but in Loyal, the readers get to learn how he was paralyzed and how it impacted their relationship.

What inspired you to write this book?

Khalil is one of the most memorable characters from my book Retaliation. I wanted readers to learn about Khalil and Tashera’s relationship. I cherish the close relationship that I have with my brother. Our relationship inspired me to write Loyal.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book?

Loyal is the prequel to Retaliation which won a Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers Award by the American Library Association. With this release, there are three books in this series. Retaliation tells the story of Tashera who is now in high school and is traumatized when she is jumped by three girls that she doesn’t know.

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

If I could be any character from one of my books, I’d be Tisha Ariel Nikkole from the Exclusive, Privacy, Devious and Secrets adult novels. She is a free spirit, determined and is living her life on her own terms. She is not allowing anyone to control her life or her destiny. She is brave beyond her years. I love her courage and boldness.

What book are you reading right now?

Currently I’m reading the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I’m a fan of every kind of book that has ever been written. This book is non-fiction and explains how people who don’t have boundaries in their lives, lose control of their lives. This books is absolutely changing my life for the better. This is one of my favorite books of all time.

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

I’m a meditation enthusiast. I’ve even taught my kids to meditate. When I first finished graduate school, a college student in one of my classes told me that I should meditate and she gave me a book on meditation. I took the book but it took me a decade before I ever read the book. But once I read the book and started meditating, I felt the power of meditation in my life. It makes me more calm and keeps my head clear. I love meditation. My motto: When in doubt, meditate.

Book Blurb

loyalWhen a gang member is shot at a heist, his sister copes with trying to help him heal while he proves his loyalty to his crew. In the prequel to Retaliation, brother and sister, Khalil and Tashera find themselves on different sides of loyalty. Khalil’s loyalty to his gang threatens the loyalty he should have to his family. This book illustrates the dynamic between a brother and sister and shows their love, challenges and desire to be there for each other.

Loyal, Retaliation and Accused make up the Retaliation Young Adult trilogy.

About the Author

yasminYasmin Shiraz is an author, filmmaker, speaker and activist. She uses her passion for life to fuel her books, documentaries, speaking engagements and social activities. She’s spoken at over 100 colleges, universities, middle schools and high schools as well as non-profit organizations. She’s an award winning Writer/ Director and enjoys producing work on youth and community issues. By day, she’s the President of Still Eye Rise Media and runs the Yasmin Shiraz website.

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

You can purchase Loyal on Amazon.