Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Shawn Van Horn, Author of Dark Thoughts

dark thoughts novel, dark thoughts, horror, supernatural, thriller, occult, dark testament saga, supernatural thriller, occult thriller, shawn van horn
Today we are interviewing Shawn Van Horn, author of a horror/supernatural thriller titled "Dark Thoughts," part of the Dark Testament Saga.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am an American author who loves darker, gritty stories. Horror, Dark fantasy, paranormal and sci fi are all favorite genres of mine. I’ve always had an overactive imagination and one day decided to start writing out my ideas! I enjoy entertaining and have no intention of apologizing for what I write. I seek to get an audience engaged whether it’s through a love of my stories or hate. The point is that they feel something. I’m also very social. I’m always up for a good chat or debate. I’m an avid gamer as well. When I’m not writing or playing with my daughter, you can find me online exploring those worlds too.

Describe the plot of your new book, “Dark Thoughts,” in a few sentences.
Manson Digby suffers severe head trauma giving him Amnesia. He no longer knows who he was before the accident and suffers from dark and violent thoughts and dreams. He wonders if these horrific ideas in his head are side effects of his injury or something sinister deep within himself. He goes on a journey with a mysterious companion named Lucy to discover who or what he is and a destiny far greater than he could ever imagine.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
That’s a good question. I think someone who appreciates a story that does not have to be bound to a stereotypical “happy ending” Those who are not easily offended by the warping of certain beliefs and ideals will appreciate it the most.

Tell us about the protagonist, Manson Digby.
Manson experienced a trauma that left him mentally scarred. He feels alone, angry and at times, fear of his situation. He’s suffering while going through an existential crisis. Who is he and what is his purpose in life? To an extent he does not even feel human. That is what his journey is all about. Discovering his nature, his destiny and determining what to do with the truths he finds. You as the reader will experience this process of uncovering his life through his eyes. You will know what he feels and exactly what he is thinking. You will see his dreams, his desires and thoughts. Manson Digby is fractured and the readers will witness him struggle to pick up the pieces.

After Manson’s injury, he is plagued by violent thoughts and dark dreams. I’m sure he experiences quite a chaotic mix of emotions, from guilt to worry, trying to interpret these thoughts. Can you tell us more about his thought process when he first experiences his new mental state?
Manson does not know what to do with himself or what to think. His dreams are of a horrific realm and violence is always in the back of his mind. I wouldn’t say he necessarily feels guilt. Confusion though is his first natural reaction to his state. Once he begins to adjust though, fear of his past and alienation from those around him take over. He is kept away from the world by Father Alvarez and this only makes his fear grow into eventual anger. That is where the story picks up. He is in a very cold, angry state.
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Author Shawn Van Horn.

What can you share with us about Manson’s companion, Lucy?
The question should be “Do I WANT to share anything about Lucy?” Lucy is a real mystery to Manson. She appears to him as a stranger passing by but he instantly feels a connection to her. This makes him curious because he hasn’t shared a connection with anyone else. Lucy instantly commits to him which furthers suspicion in Manson’s mind.

What inspirations contributed to this book?
That is hard to answer. I have always wanted to write something like this, though the story did evolve beyond what I could have ever imagined. When writing, I thought about my old psychology classes from high school, horror novels such as the Shining, the Bible (don’t ask.)

What got you interested in the horror/supernatural genre?
I love horror movies and games. Resident Evil(Except 5 and 6), the Outlast series, Ghost stories and demons have always excited me so to have the opportunity to put something with at least some of those elements on paper was always a goal. Movies and video games, got to love them!

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?
None come readily to mind as far as my physical style. I kind of just did it as I went along. I’m sure avid readers out there will find someone to compare me too though. I will then have to check that person’s work out if I haven’t already

Who was your favorite character to write?
Manson himself, hands down. 

What genre do you read most frequently?
Horror and Sci Fi.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
My storytelling has become more clear. When I first started, I realized I rambled a lot. After going through the painful edits and re writes, I find that I am able to tell something much more substantial. 

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
To complete The Dark Testament Sage, build my Grand Archives series up and do a paranormal series. I wouldn’t mind getting hired to write novels based in a video game universe either.

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
Shock from those who know me personally but in an entertaining way. Honestly it is doing better than I thought it would. I’m delighted at how invested people have gotten into the saga. It makes me more eager to start book 2.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
Writers block. I hate it when I have good days while writing a story then go a week with nothing

How'd you deal with it? 
I just sat on the story and would lock myself away and think. The ideas on how to move forward eventually come to me. It is the waiting that sucks.

How many books do you have planned for the Dark Testament Saga? When can readers expect the next book to be released?
5 books for this particular series. Book 2 should come out late 2020 or early 2021. It really depends on when I finish my current novel I am working on in my other series. I only like to work on one at a time to stay focused.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
It may shock you. It may anger you. It may thrill you. The point is not to write what society wants. It is to write what I want. I do not care about political correctness or topics that may be taboo. Be ready to feel a mix of emotions as you journey with Manson and his quest of self-discovery. Be ready to get introduced to a world far larger than you can imagine. Let the Dark Testament Saga begin.

An excerpt from "Dark Thoughts":
A rocky spire stood directly ahead; it was looming into the night sky. Its various windows projected a soft-orange dancing flame. I walked towards the tower. As I got closer, I heard a cry from within. The sadness and despair in there was like music to my ears. I know that whoever is the victim of their torture deserved the treatment. I approached the entrance and a silhouette appeared in the doorway. Its sleek thin form is smooth against the glow of the fire. The silhouette appears feminine with an hourglass-like shape. Her hand gently starts at her shoulder and glides down her body with fingers sliding across her breasts. I cannot see her face, but her voice, soft like music, asks, “Is it finally time my love?” I sensed her excitement and began to smile. I suddenly awaken; cold sweat is sticking to my body. This was the third time in the four weeks since my accident that I have had a dream in this desolate world, but it was the first time that I saw her…
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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Trevy Thomas, Author of Companion in Grief

grief, grieving, loss, getting over loss, grief book, companion in grief, Trevy Thomas, self-help for grief
Today we are interviewing Trevy Thomas, author of the self-help book "Companion in Grief: Comforting Secular Messages for the Daily Journey Through Grief."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Like many writers, I’m a bit of an introvert but can be surprisingly extroverted on the page. Honestly sharing with readers is my favorite kind of human connection. I’m a widow who has since been fortunate to remarry a widower, so we both understand this type of loss. We live in Virginia with our four dogs.

Describe the purpose of your book, “Companion in Grief,” in a few sentences.
As the title suggests, this book is meant to help the reader feel a connection to someone who understands how hard loss is. Despite having friends and family, I never felt lonelier than I did after my husband died. The people I wanted to communicate with most were the ones who were also going through loss. Even strangers brought comfort simply by sharing their experience with me. I hope “Companion in Grief” gives the reader a thread to hold onto in their grief.

Who do you think would most benefit from reading this book?
Anyone who’s lost a loved one, but since I wrote it after the loss of my husband, I imagine that those who’ve lost a life partner will especially connect with it.

What inspired you to write a book on supporting grievers through the painful experience of grief?
When I started to heal even a tiny bit after my own experience of loss, I took notice of the changes that were happening, what helped, and what didn’t. One of the things that helped was reaching out to other grievers so I wrote this book because it helped me heal and I want to share that with other grievers.

One of the unique aspects of the book is that it deals with grief without the presumption of religion. Why is it important to take this approach?
I don’t have anything against religion, and this book works fine for those who are also religious, but I found that many grief books rely on the author’s brand of religion for support and it can be off-putting. Not everyone is religious, and those who are don’t all agree on the same religion, so it’s presumptuous to use religion in a grief book. We all grieve; we are not all religious. Everyone deserves support.

The book features a number of practical activities to help the griever work through their grief. Can you tell us a bit about these activities?
Especially in early grief, just getting out of bed is a big effort. Your mind is foggy, your heart is bleeding, your body is disconnected. You need small steps to get through a day or sometimes an hour. Make dinner, go for a walk, take a yoga class, go to a bookstore rather than shopping online, sit in a car with the windows up and scream. There are hundreds of tiny activities suggested because they won’t all fit every mood but you’re likely to find one thing each day that can give you a reprieve from the pain of grief. We need that. 

A strength of the book is that it is organized in a concise, digestible way that allows the reader to cover the material without getting bogged down with excessive language. Was it challenging writing in this style?
No. It felt like a completely natural fit for the topic. I bought a pile of grief books in the weeks after my husband’s death and I’d just stare at the page trying to re-read what I couldn’t understand. You’re too foggy in grief to read the way you used to. You need little thoughts, one a day. Daily readers are a great support for working through big painful feelings.

While writing the book, did you learn anything about your own experience with grief?
Yes. I learned that even years out, you can still revisit hurt. But it changes and becomes more of a sweet melancholic pain rather than the jarring shock of new grief. Loss stays with us but folds more into the love you have for the person rather than standing apart from love. It’s gentler in time.

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Author Trevy Thomas.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
Writing about loss while living in new love. I had to ignore the temptation to feel I was betraying my new love and my lost love at the same time.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?
Moments of reprieve from their pain. Strength that comes from knowing those who’ve also walked this path survived it and learned to thrive again. Hope and compassion for themselves in the midst of life’s most difficult experience. A sense of having a companion, available at will, through this awful journey.

Outside of your book, are there any other tips or resources you have for people working through grief?
Join a grief group to find local people you can connect with. Find a way to exercise just a little. If you don’t mind writing, record your feelings in a journal and date them. You may be surprised to see a bit of growth when you look back.

How have readers responded to your book so far?
With gratitude. 

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
I’m enjoying a few shorter projects at the moment, including a return to creative nonfiction, essays and short stories, while working on a longer novel of women’s fiction.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
The book is written by day of the year but you don’t have to read it that way. There’s a subject index in the back so you can look up whatever emotion or experience you may be struggling with that day and jump right to the page that correlates. Some days you may want to read several pages because you need extra support. I find it’s helpful to start each day with a reading. I’d love to hear from readers. If you want to reach out, send a message through my website or Twitter. May you find peace in this process.

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Christina Hagmann, Author of Stratagem

ya, mystery/suspense, fantasy, magical realism, coming of age, thriller, spies, shapeshifters, kidnapping, ya suspense, ya fantasy, stratagem, christina hagmann
Today we are interviewing Christina Hagmann, author of “Stratagem,” a young adult suspense/fantasy novel.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in rural Wisconsin, running through the woods and climbing trees. I’ve loved reading and writing my whole life which is why I became an English teacher. In fifth grade, while on a family vacation, I got in a bike accident and couldn’t leave the couch. My mom told me not to read the Stephen King book that she brought along, so of course I did. That was when I first really began to enjoy reading because I saw it as something “dangerous.” I also coach youth sports, basketball and volleyball, when I’m not reading and writing.

Describe the plot of your new book, “Stratagem,” in a few sentences.
Born a shapeshifter, Meda is a young girl in an unfortunate situation. Taken from her family, she is forced to be a spy for a secret agency, until she is kidnapped by three boys who are seeking revenge on the agency. 

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
I think anyone who likes mystery and suspense, novels with a twist, and quick reads will like Stratagem. It’s a young adult novel but interesting enough for adults to enjoy. 

Tell us about the protagonist, Meda.
Meda is a young girl in an unfortunate situation. She’s a shapeshifter and is forced to be a spy. Up until her kidnapping, she feels she has no other options, but when things start falling apart, she realizes that she needs to be strong enough to make her own decisions and live with the consequences. It really is a coming-of-age story. 

Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about Meda’s kidnappers?
Meda’s kidnappers are three teenage boys: Brody, Aaron, and Dan. They aren’t just normal teenage boys though. Much like Meda, certain situations have forced them to do what they need to do to survive. 

Meda reaches a point where she has to make decisions for herself and move beyond her training to just follow orders. Can you tell us what her thought process is like when she makes this transition?
Meda has always felt that she never had a choice but to follow orders because her family is in danger. She never thought about all the people she may have hurt. When she realizes she has a choice, she finds it difficult to determine which decision is the right one. 

Your book is filled with suspense and other classic elements of an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Were you always interested in writing suspense? Or was it something that evolved alongside your writing?
I’ve always loved movies and novels with plot twists and suspense. I’m also a big fan of horror movies that keep you on the edge of your seat. I’ve always loved that feeling, and I wanted my readers to feel the same way. It’s the idea that books make it possible to experience the danger in the world without actually being in danger. 

What inspirations contributed to this book?
A couple years back, I wrote a short story about a young shapeshifter who took over the lives of the people she shifted into. In order to do that, she had to kill them. After writing the story, I realized that the poor shapeshifter didn’t have much of a choice it was the only way she knew how to live. It was at that time that I began to play with the idea of telling the story from a different perspective, through the eyes of the “bad guy” because really, a story is all about perspective. Stratagem really embodies that because it is difficult to tell difference between right/wrong and good/bad. 

ya, mystery/suspense, fantasy, magical realism, coming of age, thriller, spies, shapeshifters, kidnapping, ya suspense, ya fantasy, stratagem, christina hagmann
Author Christina Hagmann.

Is there an author that had a major influence on your writing style?
I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since reading Tommyknockers in the 5th grade. I also loved the writing style of Dean Koontz. I began collecting his books in 7th grade and had nearly 40 of them. Both King and Koontz write with amazing imagery and are able to set up unsuspecting plot twists. 

Who was your favorite character to write?
While I enjoyed Meda, Brody, and Dan, Isi was probably my favorite. She’s a wild card and it’s hard to guess what she’ll do next. She is always in survival mode, and you can bet that she’ll do what will benefit her. 

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
I would love to put a book out every year. I’d love to do some school visits and engage young adults as readers. One of my passions is to pass on my love of reading to others, but I also love the process of creating a book by starting with an idea. I’ve been a pretty productive writer for the last ten years and I’d like to continue that.. 

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
So far the response has been amazing! I’ve heard from most readers that they just can’t put it down. There’s been a lot of questions around the second book, and I do have it outlined, so when readers ask when the next one is due out, that’s the only response I can give right now. 

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?
I don’t really get “writer’s block.” I’m an outliner, so I always have multiple projects with outlines. Because of this, I’m able to skip around from scene to scene rather than tell a story chronologically. It’s easier to pick a scene that inspires me rather than try to work through a scene that I can’t quite picture. 

What do you have in mind for your next project?
I have a book coming out in winter of 2019 called The Brothers Finn. It’s another young adult fantasy about two brothers who are framed for the murder of their parents. It’s another fast paced, quick read with plenty of plot twists for readers to enjoy. 

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Many people have asked about the title. The title is actually an allusion that comes up later in the book and is important to the plot. 

An excerpt from “Stragegem”: 
“They’re coming,” the blond yelled out. The boy holding me pulled me around to the back of the car. Everything seemed to be taking so long, but only a matter of seconds had passed. There was a click, and the trunk popped open. “Quick, put her in.” The blond boy held a gun up. I squinted towards the rusty vehicle and the dark interior of the trunk.  
“No!” I kicked, struggling for words, and jerked my head back, trying to hit the dark-haired boy who was holding me, but he was bigger than me, and my head only thumped harmlessly against his chest. My kicks were useless. I couldn’t connect with anything. I tried to twist around, but he had a firm grip and was not letting go.  
“The cuffs!” the blond boy yelled. The driver of the car, who I couldn’t see, tossed something out the open window, but it missed its mark and clattered to the ground. Gunshots rang through the air. I flinched and stopped struggling, not sure who was firing. The dark-haired boy stopped and looked back long enough for me to see the men from the van running at us and firing their weapons.  
“Help!” I screamed. It occurred to me that if they were willing to open fire, then maybe the target, Mr. Gray, no longer mattered to them. Maybe the assignment was void and they would have to go with Plan B, which was riskier and had a higher mortality rate. That was what I was told going into this, warning what would happen if I failed or refused to follow through. More importantly, they didn’t need me for Plan B. 
I kicked again, but the boy holding me was too strong. The blond held the trunk open as the dark-haired boy lifted my legs in. He fumbled with me as I used my legs to push off the edges of the trunk, or whatever I could get my feet on. Instead of losing his grip on me, he pushed himself forward and folded himself over me. With his weight heavy against my back, he forced me down and hopped in the trunk with me. More gunshots fired. Bullets pinged off the side of the car. The trunk closed, wrapping everything in darkness.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Antonio D. Sommerio, Author of Borrowed Time

Antonio D. Sommerio, A.D. Sommerio, SommerioBooks.com, Borrowed Time, thriller book, borrowed time book, borrowed time novel
Today we are interviewing Antonio D. Sommerio, author of the suspense/thriller novel, "Borrowed Time."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I guess you can say I’m one of those guys that’s done a bit of everything. No, I mean seriously, from working in the fast food industry to a Sheriff’s Deputy and even an IT Engineer. I am a firm believer in hard work and getting recognized for your contributions in opposed to “who you know”. I’m a sucker for humanity and believe we could do so much better if we just cared a little more and moved out of our comfort zone to help others. I love film, writing, gaming and I’m big on putting family first. 

Describe your book, “Borrowed Time,” for us.
"Borrowed Time" is a testament to the phrase “It’s never too late”. Not story wise but for the fact that I finished the manuscript in 2009 and was literally terrified to try and publish it until 2018. It’s a heartfelt story about a man who’s lost everything but gains an incredible power he has no clue how to manage. And so, here he is this “regular guy” with this huge gift/burden thrusted upon him. However, who he is as a person just plays so well within the actions he takes in the book. So, you wonder if this “power”, was tailor made for him so to speak. Also "Borrowed Time" was never meant to fall into the sci-fy category but there are small nuances there because of the time element.     

Who do you think would most appreciate “Borrowed Time”?
I must say women fall in love with Jacob’s persona. I’ve gotten so many emails about how they “miss him”, and how they enjoyed spending time with him. Everyone loves the humor that’s in the story and feel extremely close to my characters. I love the way they took a life of their own. People who like both suspense thriller books and film will like "Borrowed Time." It’s a quick read that feels like you’re in a movie. It touches on so many topics we deal with on a day to day. It’s about sacrifice and paying it forward. 

Have you always enjoyed writing in the suspense / thriller genre or is it something that evolved alongside your writing career?
You know looking back at all the stories I have plots for (and I have material for days) ...it, kind of just turned out that way. I have so many stories I look forward to writing and many of them inadvertently fall into the suspense/thriller category. However, I don’t try and write for a specific genre. My goal is to create a truly immersive experience. We categorize everything of course in every industry, but one small detail in your writing/story can allow you to overlap between multiple genres if you know what I mean.

One of the challenges of writing in the suspense / thriller genre is managing the pacing of the plot. Is this something that comes naturally to your writing? Or do you do a lot of outlining and planning to prepare?
I think I kinda dodge that bullet with "Borrowed Time." The book is so fast paced it doesn’t have much time to drag. That’s by design. I wanted a “quick read” as I call it. People are very protective of their time. Some have shorter attention spans and a ton of things to do in any given day. So, I wrote "Borrowed Time" to appeal not to just hardcore or mainstream readers, but to the nurse that reads on her lunch break…the stay at home mom that gets a little reading done after the kids are asleep. The husband waiting on his wife to come out of the grocery store, lol. You can read it in “spurts” and still feel accomplished. At present time however, I’m working on a second book that has so many more characters than "Borrowed Time," that I’m totally going to have to get my outline game in order. 

Are there any authors that have influenced your writing style?
Maybe James Patterson just a tad, however I break a lot of rules James would have a fit over (laughs).

Tell us about the story’s protagonist, Jacob Parnell.
Warm, kindhearted. Always putting others before himself. He lives with the pain of missing his beloved. He feels responsible. Jacob doesn’t believe in “what is written” or predetermined paths. He is a firm believer that he has control of his destiny and the way his life will proceed based off his actions (or lack thereof). 

Jacob’s life is marked by two major transformations – first with the death of his wife and second with the discover of his watch’s special ability. Is exploring transformations something that you set out to do with the story from the start? Or was it something that arose as you wrote?
Oh, it was definitely there from the start. It’s what drives the story. It’s also what drives his behavior. He feels responsible. He wants no matter what to have her back. The gift of “sight” (for him) is what he feels is a pathway to redemption. A way to apologize to her and the universe.   

Jacob’s discovery of his watch’s power is a life-changing moment for him. Can you tell us a bit about his thought process upon discovering what the watch is capable of?
Devastated, as there is now this complete opposition to everything he believes in. The predetermined path is there!!! Fate is kicking down his door!!! He’s emotional, scared and angry. Why him!? As punishment? As a chance at redemption? A chance to prove he can change destiny possibly? Or maybe just for irony to play a cruel role and take what little he has left. 

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
When I went back to "Borrowed Time" after an 8-9 year hiatus, I changed so much of the book’s story. I’d experienced so much more of life. My beliefs had matured and the world around me had definitely changed. But I think the most important thing is…(smiles) I don’t challenge or try to fight my characters. I allow them to have a life of their own. “They” do some things I don’t agree with and I have to live with that. I have to allow them to be them. They create the story, I’m just the guy privileged enough to be able to jot it all down and become a voice for them.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?
The Holberg Collection will have an expansive world. I have so much research to do about massive plot and world building so I don’t confuse my readers. That series will be epic and vast across multiple books. So, I’m working on carefully describing every detail of the world and premise so my readers can follow. Speaking of multiple books, "Borrowed Time" was never meant to have a sequel. I decided to get crafty and change the ending to see what type response I’d get. Well, everyone wants a sequel. Now this is where it gets weird. The only way I can create a true sequel in to dive into the messy scheme of time travel. But I inadvertently left myself open ends and bread crumbs that were literally just unanswered questions which will get resolved in the next book. It’s almost like it was “meant” to have a sequel. So that’s basically taking something that’s maybe a seed that was forgotten and planting it, allowing a new portion of the story to blossom and branch. 
Antonio D. Sommerio, A.D. Sommerio, SommerioBooks.com, Borrowed Time, thriller book, borrowed time book, borrowed time novel
Author Antonio D. Sommerio.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
To establish myself as a well-known author. To go from self-publishing to finding a home with a traditional publishing house. I really want to see my Novels and Novellas receive film adaptations. I write them that way. To ease the transition from literature to film. I love movies based on books. They have some of the best stories and plots in my opinion. The writing and construct tend to be well thought out so to speak. I can watch a film and say “this was a book”. I wait until the end credits and yup normally I’m right. So, in ten years’ time I plan to give my readers at least 5-7 new works and really shake things up with so many different themes and diverse storytelling.   

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
They loved it. However, it is so challenging getting them to write reviews. I get emails, more emails, and plenty comments on social media. Getting reviews written however is like pulling teeth. My most critical review came as an anonymous email and read: 
(“I loved 'Borrowed Time,' but make no mistake this is a movie waiting to happen. You shouldn’t be writing as a novelist, you should write for film, period!”) I really didn’t know how to take that critique. But for most they really enjoyed the book and want more. They loved Jacob, loathed Stanley and really enjoyed Sheryl. 

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
I have to stop being fearful. I let it limit me for far too long. I have to allow myself to be vulnerable to hefty criticism as it will only make me better. I hate that about writing, or any craft for that matter. You’ll pour your soul into something for months or years and in one sentence someone could tear it to shreds. One crushing review is all it takes to make a lot of people quit. That said, I spoke at a few high schools about that very topic. I wanted to motivate our youth not to be afraid to put something out there. Not to care about what some would think. Other than that, it’s definitely dialog, that’s a big one. I want to perfect that and its so many rules involving proper writing with character dialog.    

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?
I haven’t had writers block so far (fingers crossed). I’m constantly flooded with ideas, stories and plots with not enough time to write. I have to make notes throughout the day and sometimes even wake up in the middle of the night and write out a plot on a dry erase board. I have so much content crammed in my head even if I got stuck on one story I can begin or continue on another and come back to the previous. I think if you get stuck, it’s best to walk away from it for a while. Your characters will let you know when they’re ready to continue. 

What do you have in mind for your next project?
“The Ki” is my next work to be published
It is a novella comprised of 4-5 short stories about how one kilogram of cocaine affects the lives of several individuals and their families. It’s definitely different from "Borrowed Time" and you’d be surprised at who’s actually the antagonist and protagonist in the stories. It’s real, gritty, heartbreaking and warm all at the same time.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
I put my all in "Borrowed Time." Not for fame, not for money. But to share my vision with the world. To tell a story about purpose…about moving forward, about sacrifice and most of all about balance. There is a little Jacob in all of us. We just have to be willing to accept it, and make the right choices.  

An excerpt from "Borrowed Time":
“Beware,” began the passage, “for if the bearer of the watch places it about his right wrist, he will not be able to see the time of others but of himself instead.” Jacob slowly placed the book on the bed and grabbed the calculator from his pocket. With the numbers still burned in the back of his mind, he started doing what he did best, calculations! As he factored in all the necessary equations, he began shaking his head. No matter how many times he did, the answer remained the same. Terrified, Jacob now realized by the numbers he’d seen that he had a little over three months before his timer would reach zero and…

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Victoria Ray, Author of Dulcinea and the Death Code

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Today we are interviewing Victoria Ray, author of a YA fantasy and adventure novel, titled Dulcinea and the Death Code, which was published 9 June 2019.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Moscow but grew up in a small city in Belarus. My parents were divorced and for almost 10 years (during my childhood), my mother had 2 jobs: one was from 8 AM to 5 PM; the second was from 8 PM to 1 AM. I spent a lot of time reading and hanging with friends. I won a national poetry contest in Belarus. I studied classical literature, and I worked as a teacher for almost 9 years. For the last 12 years I have been living in Sweden. In August 2019 I’m planning on quitting my job to become a full-time writer. I also have two dogs: Sky and Daisy.

Describe the plot of your new book, Dulcinea and the Death Code, in a few sentences. 
This is a story about a girl with unusual DNA. She is a Death Code from a place called A-Ria. What is A-Ria? Nobody knows. But Dulcinea and her new friends (kids with powerful abilities) are on the way to revealing the truth. Dulcinea is also going through a transition: from “not-caring” and “cold” child to “a sacrificing” friend, the one who is ready to protect the world and her family, even if it hurts. But as always, the bad guy - in our case, Reality - wins. At least in book 1. How? Read to find out…

What inspirations contributed to this book? 
  1. It is based on a vision from my meditation.
  2. I tried to mix fantasy, romance, humor and bizzaro fiction. 
Dulcinea must move from sunny Sumter, South Carolina to Sweden. In addition to leaving behind a familiar climate and culture, she must leave behind the people with whom she’s grown up. How does she handle this? 
Dulcinea was born in Romania, but she moved to Sumter when she was a kid. She never had a lot of friends, but her life in Sumter was fun and secure. It’s always difficult to move to a new place, but you can overcome any obstacle with super friends like Joel, Osa, Loo and Brolle. These kids are from different countries and have absolutely contrasting stories, but they complement each other and they care about the Earth and Dulcinea – there lies their power. 

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Without giving too much away, tell us a bit about the mysterious glowing crack that follows Dulcinea around.
It is the entrance (the door) to access Reality (in a raw form), and at the same time, it is the exit, a lie and the play of Eilidh (you’ll meet IT in book 2). 

Your story involves a lot of world building. Was it challenging creating fresh, new places and making them feel real?
I spared it for the next book. Of course, Dulcinea visit A-Ria 3-5 times, but we still don’t know what it is and why it wants to control the Earth. 

Is there an author that has influenced your writing style?
I prefer to read short stories - mostly satire, humor, sci-fi or non-fiction (psychology and science). Also, I love crime and mystery books. My influencers are: O. Henry, Byron, Dostoevsky and Ray Bradbury.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years? 
To see the world full of Ray’s fans. 

How have your readers responded to the book so far? 
Only my editors have read the book. They liked it (because of my ‘quixotic’ style). But I got 1 hate rating from a man on Goodreads, so I’m not sure… all I can say – this book is not for everybody. Mostly for: females, 13-25 years old. The book was published on Amazon on June 9. I’m looking for people who’d like to read my novel and who’d love to share their thoughts about the story and heroes. I’m providing a free copy (in any format) if you’ll send me an email: victoria.ohlsson@aol.com 

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like? 
A lot of sitting. And snacking. I’m snacking a lot while writing. 

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't? 
Some days I don’t feel the desire to write at all, and I never push myself to do something I don’t want to do. I’m living in the moment - in the Now. So, I have to enjoy it. Usually, I’m shifting between different hobbies, so I am never bored. Also, I’m working in so called “chunks” - all or nothing. That means I’m writing 3-4 weeks, and then I’m taking a break for 2 weeks. Repeat.
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Victoria Ray, author of Dulcinea and the Death Code.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
Well, quite a lot.
  1. My book Damn Ray Reviews: 40 Books in Your Pocket will be published summer 2019.
  2. Poetry book, with a working title, The Legs: A Global Perspective On Society, is planned for autumn 2019. 
  3. Book 2 in the series So Absurd It Must Be True, it is a mix of satire, sci-fi and erotica - winter 2020. Attention: only for adults! If you are 18+ you can check out book 1 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/So-Absurd-Must-Be-True-ebook/dp/B07MYJRV55.
  4. My sci-fi novel The Pearl Territory. A few chapters are already posted on my blog. I’ll continue writing during the summer. You are welcome to follow the story. It is a mix of private journals and dialogues/scenes. 
  5. Of course, The Secrets of A-Ria, Child of Illusion Series, Book 2 – summer 2020. I’m planning three books in the series Child of Illusion
Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book? 
  1. Written without any plotting or outline. 
  2. Too many books give us “ready” answers; the author some way is “chewing” the idea and all we have to do is “digest” it. But I want you to think, to imagine, to create… that’s why this book has of a lot of mysteries - I’m simply giving you the space to move; to use your own fantasy. 
  3. I added digital portraits for 6 heroes: Dulcinea, Erik, Osa, Loo, Brolle and Joel. And also a couple of poems. 
An excerpt from "Dulcinea and the Death Code":
The front yard is covered in a sparkling yellow light. I want to grab my favorite spring outfit out of my closet, but there’s no closet. Like there’s no “my room”. And there’s no “me”. 
I can’t match my shoes or go out to the car, screaming: “I’m going to be late, dad! I’m meeting Jess before class!”  
I can’t call Jess as well, because if there’s no “Dulcinea” in that story, then I don't have her phone number and she doesn’t know who that girl is: the one with the butter rose, almost-pink hair…  
I’d never meet Jess at the Starbucks, my favorite coffee place. I’d never order a vanilla grande latte with a huge cinnamon roll. The two of us would never discuss the boys, or next Christmas, or plan our shopping trip. I’d never know what kind of amazing laid-back person she is, or what kind of absurd humor she’s got.  
I am not there! 
I can't make the world around me feel uncomfortable. 
And that's why the day is perfect…

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Steven Thompson, Author of BRUTAL

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Today we are interviewing Steven Thompson, author of a thriller/suspense novel, titled "BRUTAL."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m in my forties, having worked in so many jobs in my life. I see the varied life I have lived as the perfect background to become a writer. I started ghostwriting books for other people and have taken this practice with me into writing for myself.

Describe the plot of your new book, “BRUTAL,” in a few sentences.
The team of detectives that failed to catch Alaaldin Hussein in the first book have been in disarray over the Winter. The book starts with a killing that sparks them back into life. After 6 months of recuperating from the horrors of the summer before, they have to get back into the swing of things with no notice and under a new leader.

The book is all about relationships. We see most thrillers as books about crime, but that really isn’t the case. The team trying to catch the killer are complex, like all teams.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
It is perfect for fans of the genre but looking for something a little different. There isn’t the deep focus on the crimes, but an exploration of the people who are involved in the story. I’m told this makes the book more of a literary thriller than a crime thriller, but wither way the suspense is there.

The team’s leader, Augustine Boyle, is bedridden, recovering from injuries. How does the team cope without him? Does his absence make them even more inspired to catch the killer?
His absence is a major factor in how the team deal with everything thrown at them in this book. He is always there at the forefront of their minds. They want to do it for Augustine, bring to justice the man who put him in that hospital bed.

Tell us about the villain, Alaaldin Hussein.
Alaaldin is a complex character that we didn’t get to unravel much in the first book. Here, he isn’t a mystery any longer. The police know exactly who he is. This has given me the freedom to delve deeper into his psyche. He sees himself as on the side of good, educating the world on their sins.

You come from a unique background, having studied Linguistics. How has your deep understanding of language has impacted your writing style?
Great question! My degree in linguistics has helped me to think about language in a different way. At university I studied speech as well as the written word. A great book just sounds right on the ear. As you read a thriller book in your head, it should hit the right spots in terms of intonation and pitch as well as story and language.
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Steven Thompson, author of BRUTAL.

Have you always been interested in the thriller genre? Or is it an interested that developed later in your reading/writing career?
It was something that I developed in later life. Jo Nesbo is the one author that really got me going in this genre. Once I started to read his books, I was hooked. It inspired me to start writing short stories of my own in the same mold. From there, I suppose novels were inevitable. The wheels of progress were already in motion!

What inspirations contributed to this book in terms of plot, setting, and writing style?
It is the sequel to INITIAL, so much of the inspiration came from the events of the first book. It is set in the North East of England, where I live. My home is Washington, where George Washington’s family came from. It is a place with a mix of old and new, which felt like the perfect setting for the novel to play out.

Is there an author that had a major influence on you while you were growing up?
I think like many kids, reading Roald Dahl opened my eyes to the wonder of language. His characters and storylines were the thing of childhood fantasy. 

Who was your favorite character to write?
I love writing the character of Gary Hole. I think people who aren’t good in their heart are much more interesting to write, as they can do things that other characters just can’t.

What is your favorite book and why?
My favorite book of all time is 11.22.63 by Stephen King. The story grabs you and takes you by the hand. I’ve never been a massive fan of King, but this is an absolute classic as far as I’m concerned.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
We evolve every day. I think that the best practice to become a writer is to write. I used to shy away from dialog when I first wrote, finding it difficult to sound real and believable. I wrote dialog time and time again to get it just right for BRUTAL.

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
The initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. People tell me they can’t put it down, which is always a good sign and so warming to hear. I just want people to have as much fun reading it as I did writing the novel. That’s the thrill of being a novel writer.

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?
I’ve never had writer’s block. I don’t get it. As far as I can tell, language comes from the same place in the brain. Nobody suffers from speaker’s block, so I don’t know why writer’s block would be a thing. Sure, there are days when I write fewer words than my daily target, but that’s down to outside factors rather than writer’s block.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
I am taking a break from Augustine Boyle and the team for the next book. I love writing thriller novels, but I feel that becoming a better writer is about testing myself. So, the next book is set in the near future, when there are only a handful of people left on the planet. They live in a facility, trying to eke out an existence on next to nothing. But one man decides that there is more to life than this. I won’t give any more away, but it concentrates on the difference between living and staying alive.

An excerpt from "BRUTAL":
Alex reached as far right as she could see, across towards Roker Pier. There were two more hazy silhouettes at the other end of the beach, and these were the last of the people she counted. As she compared this number with the undoubted multiple that they would encounter on a sunny beach in a tourist resort on the island of Majorca, Alex heard a thud. The next thing, she screamed like she had never screamed before. The thuds kept on coming. Alex thought there were scores of them. Later she would be told that there were eight sounds – seven short thuds and her one continuous scream. Every part of that morning on the beach would stay with her for the rest of her life. The sounds would come back in her dreams that night. 
What Alex had seen was more than any girl of her age should be exposed to. The bodies fell from the sky and landed on the beach. Each one disintegrated into pieces on impact. As she looked away from one body, she witnessed another falling, landing, disintegrating. It was pure horror in a place she had always associated with innocence. She didn’t want to go to the beach ever again.
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Friday, June 7, 2019

Angela Savidge, Author of Urban Faery: A Modern Fantasy

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Today we are interviewing Angela Savidge about her visionary fantasy novel, titled, "Urban Faery: A Modern Fantasy."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born on an American military base in Germany and raised in a deeply entrenched southern Baptist community in rural North Carolina. Overall, I do feel it was a safe and good upbringing, although I have always been more spiritual than religious. I was an only child and spent a great deal of time in a densely wooded forest near my home. And otherwise, I was very involved in the theater department at the local University. I lived in my imagination and loved the stage, but I was admittedly not a very good actress, so I navigated into production instead. I attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and graduated as a Theatrical Production Stage Manager. After college, I bravely took the train to New York City with only $300 in my pocket to take an assistant position in film production. That job eventually ushered me through the gates of Universal Pictures in Los Angeles. I spent more than a decade in LA, but for the last 5 years, I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon and Saint Petersburg, Florida. Like my main character, Cate, I had grown disillusioned by everything around me in a predominately material-obsessed environment, and I needed to live somewhere more grounded for awhile. That being said, publishing this book has been very cathartic, and I am pleasantly surprised that I am missing Los Angeles now. I can’t wait to get back and have a regular presence there again.

Describe the plot of your new book, “Urban Faery: A Modern Fantasy,” in a few sentences.
Predominately set in Southern California’s iconic neighborhoods of West Hollywood and Malibu, my book follows the remarkable journey of a rising actress, Cate, as she attempts to find more meaning in life. Desperate to reconnect with the natural world, she wades into the ocean at one of Malibu’s most notorious surf breaks but is unaware that a powerful swell has moved in putting her in the direct path of danger. When Cate is rescued by a mysterious surfer named Luc, an alluring Welsh renegade and a modern-day descendant of the ancient Fae race, she is propelled into a new era of self-discovery and a total re-evaluation of the world around her.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
The obvious target audience are readers of Fae romance and new age fiction, but I do believe that this book will appeal to a much wider audience. It’s a unique blend of Southern California’s surf culture, environmental spirituality and urban fantasy. I think surfers and anyone concerned about the environment will really enjoy reading it, particularly Angelenos and anyone living and pursuing careers in Hollywood. Also, the elusive Fae, Luc, is from the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales, and the book touches on a bit of Welsh history and mythology. As the series continues, Wales will feature much more prominently. 

Tell us a bit more about the protagonist, Cate.
My main character, Cate, is in essence myself. She’s from a small town in rural North Carolina, and although she always wanted to move to a big city and have a successful career, it eventually becomes too overwhelming for her. There is a piece of advice floating around the writing world that you should always make yourself the main character. Not every author does this, but it felt right in my case, and I feel it made this story much more authentic. Although I am not an actress myself, I’ve always daydreamed about it. Also, while living in Los Angeles I spent a good amount of time in Malibu, and like Cate, I really envied that extraordinary connection surfers have with nature.
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Author Angela Savidge.

Cate experiences a sense of meaninglessness before meeting Luc. What prompted her to feel this way?
The realities of Hollywood can be very harsh. And when living in Los Angeles, surrounded by so much fame and fortune, it can sometimes be extremely difficult to stay grounded and true to one’s authentic self. Cate was experiencing what Joseph Campbell calls ‘a dark night of the soul.’ She’d lost touch with her true nature and was spiraling into an abyss of despair.  

Once Cate meets Luc, her outlook on life changes. Luc has a mysterious heritage and an interesting past. Without giving too much away, can you tell us about him?
Born in 1860, during the height of the Industrial Revolution, Luc suffered a great loss due to a tragic environment disaster—one that would forever alter the course of his life. After the catastrophe, the Fae mystics and foretellers decided to embark on a great pilgrimage to seek out a youthful, new-fashioned candidate with the intelligence, personality, and charisma that would be required to be an ambassador to the modern world. They found Luc in a remote area of the Usk Valley in Wales and deemed that he would be the bridge that humans would invariably need. But as the story opens in 2018, Luc had spent the better part of his life in care-free solitude. He’s a rogue rebel, one might say, with a peculiar, yet spellbinding penchant for surfing.

The setting, Los Angeles/Hollywood/Malibu, plays a major role in the story. Did you always know you wanted to set the story in Los Angeles? Or is it something that evolved as you wrote?
I lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade, and spent a good amount of time in Malibu. In many ways, this story is semi-autobiographical, deeply rooted in my experiences. So, yes. I always knew it would be set there.

One of the interesting aspects of the story is the blend of the ancient with the modern. How did you accomplish this with your writing?
Thank you for asking that. It is an excellent question. This is the one aspect of the book I really hope I got right. I wanted the story to be distinctly believable, not too far off on the scale of fantasy. I really made a huge effort to hold back on the fantasy end, to keep the story reeled in to modern-day life, so that the reader might just imagine that the Fae actually still do live among us. 

What got you interested in the visionary fiction/urban fantasy genre?
In my teenaged years, I happened across a book entitled Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul, as dictated by Jane Roberts, and to this day, I do not remember how I acquired it—but it forever altered my perception of the world around me. The text, spoken by a discarnate entity named Seth, was my first introduction to the concept that we live within a multidimensional reality, that our bodies and the entire universe are composed of timeless atoms and molecules flickering creatively through space. As Carl Sagan famously said, “We are all made of star-stuff.”

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?
For sure, Joseph Campbell. Both personally and as a writer. I first read The Power of Myth in college and was so moved by it. The ideas he presents became my philosophy. Later in life, when I began dabbling in writing, I really delved into all of his work, and I am still a self-motived student of his to this day. There are so many quotes that I call my favorites, but one that is particularly potent for me is, “The goal of life is make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” That one brings tears to my eyes.  

Who was your favorite character to write?
There is an ancient bard in my book, a Fae elder known only as Night Owl. And, oh how I wish I could meet him in real life! He is a great philosopher and storyteller with a compulsory infatuation with American music. Light on his feet and a natural-born thespian, he even appeared in several motion pictures during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
When I first started writing, the technical aspects were extremely daunting. Everyone has an opinion on writing style, and I simply did not know who’s viewpoint to trust. Also, some of my favorite books are written in entirely different grammatical styles. It took me a long time to have the self-confidence to go ahead with the style that felt right to me.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
I’m a late bloomer, and now that I’ve finally started writing, I never plan to stop. It’s up in the air now if I will carry on writing the Urban Faery series in novella format, or if I will develop it directly as a television series. Maybe both. I feel I could carry on with this story for quite a long time. Otherwise, I do have several full-length novels that I have begun work on, but those are at least a few years from completion. I also feel that my experience in the film industry is quite unusual for writers in my genre, and I hope that I will be able to use that to bring visionary fiction stories to the screen in a commercial yet mindful way. That’s my long-term goal. 

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
Proofreading and editing. I took typing in high school, and I was an executive assistant for many years, so I am a very fast typist. But when typing my own thoughts, I make a lot of mistakes, especially when my mind is moving much faster, or slower, than my fingers. Also, whenever I read my own work, I rarely see the mistakes I’ve made. It’s almost like I’ve memorized the words already. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a disconnect I have with the page. I hope in the future I find a really good editor/proofreader who can help me with this. But this time around, I never found one. In the end, I was essentially on my own. 

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?
When I get writer’s block, I literally sit and stare at the page. There’s no running away from it, no magical cure. I sit and sit and sit. The discipline to do that is intense, but after awhile a few words might come…and then a few more…and then I’m off!

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
I am donating 10% of all proceeds from the book to the Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches.  http://surfrider.org.

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