Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Erica Clark, Author of Two Hearts In One

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Today we are interviewing Erica Clark about her YA/drama/romance novel, “Two Hearts In One.”

Describe the plot of your new book, “Two Hearts in One,” in a few sentences.
This book is about a young woman who fines herself stuck between an old love and a new. She becomes confused when temptation plays a heavy roll exposing her true desires. 

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
I think this book would suite those who our considered a young adult because it revolves around a college student. Or if you evert been caught up in a love triangle and don’t know what to do then this is the book for you. 

Tell us about the protagonist, Ashley Taylor.
She is a smart young woman who goes through different trails like anyone who ever been in love. She scared of feelings and the truths that’s held deep inside them. She is the type of person that will bare all of her problems and everyone else’s in order to protect them. 

Ashley experiences a meeting with a familiar face from the past. Who is this person from her past?
I can’t expose that you would have to read the book to find out. 

Your main character, Ashley, reaches a crossroads where she must make a decision. Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the decision she must make?
The question you must ask yourself after reading is; is it a decision she made herself or was It made for her. 

Have you always been interested in the YA/romance genre? Or is it something that developed alongside your writing career?
I have always been a fan of romance novels in general. My first romance novel was Pride and Prejudice.

Is there an author that had a major influence on you while you were growing up?
Yes, J.K.Rowling. I love her dedication to her work of not giving up. Not to mention I love the harry potter series. 

Who was your favorite character to write?
I have a favorite character but if I was today then the mystery of it would be exposed. 

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
I would say my genre of writing have evolved more as I dabble into horror writing. 

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?
Yes, I am currently building a world. So be on the look out for a fantasy novel coming soon. 

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?

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?
Yes, when I am starring at the screen for hours. What helps me deal with writer block is I would need to either take a break and binge watch my favorite shows or listen to music while going for a walk. 

What do you have in mind for your next project?
My next project would have to be a fantasy novel that I have been working on or a horror love story I’ve wrote as a short story, but I am thinking of expanding it as a novel. 

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Just I hope you like it and remember that everything is not what it seems. 

More Information
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Troia Butcher, Author of Your Scars Tell Your Story

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Today we are interviewing Troia Butcher about her new book, “Your Scars Tell Your Story,” which is pre-releasing July 1, 2019. The book will be released on August 12, 2019.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
This is always hard for me talking about myself.  But here goes, my name is Troia Butcher and I was born and raised in Lancaster, PA. I am the daughter of Pastor Louis and Sister Katie Butcher.  I am their second born of 5 children.  I served 8 years in the military.  I am the mother of two daughters, and I have 6 beautiful grandchildren.  I am an ordained minister and I love God’s Word and His people.  I am the founder of Understanding God’s Word with Troia and our goal and mission are the same to help those who have any questions about the Word of God they have and a place to ask those questions. We strive to create an environment where brokenness can be healed and made whole.

Describe your new book, "Your Scars Tell your Story,” in a few sentences.
Scars is a book about my journey from cancer to healing and the scar that it left behind. The Scars that were left has been a source of inspiration for others and it has allowed me to tell my story.  My scar is visible, but I hope to inspire those who have visible and invisible scars to tell their story.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Those who have gone through difficult times but came through them better than when they started, with scars to tell others about the journey.

What inspired you to write a book about the stories of our scars?
In Feb 2011, I was diagnosis with Thyroid cancer, and a few weeks ago I saw a post on IG that said it was National Cancer Survivors Day.  The person went on to comment on how cancer affects you in many ways…and when I responded to her post, the words your Scar tells the story hit me.  I joked about it being a good sermon topic and it was.

You have been teaching the Word of God since you were a young age. Did you have a single moment when you realized you were called to teach God’s Word? Or was it something that developed gradually? 
Yes, I have been teaching Sunday School since I was 13, I have always had a love for helping others understand God’s Word.  There were two moments that I knew that God gifted me with the gift of teaching…once when there was no one to teach Youth Bible Study so I taught the class and there were children from age 6 – 16 in the class…somehow I was able to reach all of them on their level.  So much so that the parents of the younger children saw me and asked if I was the teacher. At first, I was nervous because I thought I did something wrong…but they said my sons have never been this excited about learning the Bible and if you are teaching, they will be back.  That was confirmation and when I had an older lady in another class and she was my grandmother’s age. I didn’t feel like I had anything to teach her…until she said that I don’t get Psalms, and I said read the story of Esther instead.  She came back the following week happy.  That is when I truly knew I was on the right path.

Did writing the book take you to unexpected places or reveal things you hadn’t thought about before?
The funny thing was I never thought of myself as a writer, a good friend of mine declared that I would write a book.  I laughed, until it came to fruition…I believe the unexpected thing was that I was becoming a writer.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
The writing. Not because it is hard for me to write, but I am extremely hard on myself and if it doesn’t look or sound correct, I will continue to write it or second guess myself.  Coupled with finding the time to commit to writing and accepting that God has given me a story to tell.

How did the book evolve from the initial idea to the finished manuscript?
Since I have never written a nook before, I had to do a lot of research. It also helped that a good friend of mine has already gone through the process. I was familiar with writing because I had to write papers for my secondary classes.  However, finding an editor and then trusting them with my work was a hard transition.  

In addition to writing, you also have a radio show. What got you interested in doing radio?  
The radio show is in the works.  Again, I was never interested in a radio show, but my Father has a radio station and he asked me if I wanted to have a program on his station.  Since I was already teaching a women’s group every week.  

You are also active with blogging and video blogging. What kind of content do you share on these platforms? And how can people find out more about your blogging?
My blog and the videos are both on my website.  www.justtroia.com.  The blogging began because I wanted people to know who I was and why I started my Business/ministry.  Because I am an ordained minister and a Pastor’s kid people naturally assumed that when I started Understanding God’s Word with Troia…that I was starting a church. So, the blog and the videos helped with the clarity of my vision and mission.

What do you hope readers will gain from your radio show and writing?
My prayer is that I will help those who feel unloved., feel loved. Those who may have questions about their spiritual walk, and they need someone to talk to that they know that they have an advocate and a friend.  Most importantly…help those who feel broken to help them become whole again. 

How have readers responded to your book so far?
Everyone who has seen the cover a very excited.  I believe they connect it in a way that is real.  We have all had tests and trials in life that has left us with a scar…mine is a visible representation of my journey.  Others are not visible, but the journey is still very real, and it needs to be told.

Can you share how your interest in writing developed? Did you always know you wanted to write or was it something that evolved with time?
No, I cannot say that I have always wanted to write.  I did write stories a young child.  Writing is something that does come easy to us…my siblings and I, our parents made sure that our grammar was always correct.  My Dad was an English major in college and we had family members who loved to write.  For me, I believe my writing evolved but again it was always some thing that came very easy for me.  I remember in undergrad I had a paper that was due and I forgot about it and it was due at midnight. I finished the paper in a few hours during downtime at work and that was one of my higher graded papers.  That is when I knew that writing was something that came easy to me.

Are they any authors who have influenced your writing style?
Sheila Walsh, Iyanla Vanzant, J California Cooper

In ten years, where would you like your writing career to be?
I hope to be in a position where my grandchildren are growing up to be happy young people and I can enjoy my time with them. As far as my ministry is concerned, I hope that I am able to look back over my life and say if I helped somebody in word or deed then my living was not in vain.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of ebooks?
eBooks are great and I plan to release my book in the ebook format.  However, I am very old school and I love the feel of books in my hand.  I am also a serial margin note writer.  I had a Philosophy professor who graded us by not only how many books we read, but also what we wrote in the margins, so it stuck with me. 

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
I actually have two additional books in the works after ‘Scars”. Girl, you are dynamite: Plug into your Power: this one came from another friend of mine who said to me that she wished she was as powerful as I was and I told her Girl you are dynamite and more powerful than you know! and Who has your key? The concept for this book also came from a friend of mine, when she was telling me about an incident, she had with the guy she was dating. As I listened to her story, I kept hearing he is looking for the right words to string together to unlock her heart, but not in a good way.  And it hit me that there are people who are trying to unlock the love that is in your heart, both for good and evil intent.  But the one that is truly for you will unlock all the God given virtues in you.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book or other projects?
I believe I want potential readers or my book or people that I will be blessed to meet to know, that I do not have all the answers.  I am just Troia, and I happen to have an immense love for people, and it is my true desire to see all people, happy, health, whole and to know that they are loved.

More Information
Visit the author’s website.
Follow the author on Twitter.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Narmada Rao, Author of OPEN UP

Today we are interviewing author, psychologist, NLP trainer and coach Narmada Rao about her new book, OPEN UP. The book is a collection of 201 thought-provoking quotes that will relate to the reader’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I like living life with a sense of purpose and passion towards that purpose. I believe that life is beyond the mundane measures that we have established. Happiness is highly over-rated and likewise, loneliness too. If one is living life with a purpose, you’ll always find the strength to go through the highs and lows of life. We don’t need to then obsessively run behind wanting to be happy. Loneliness too, is a choice. None of us can feel lonely unless utterly by choice. The world is too big a place for that. But there should always be room for solitude – to spend time with our soul so that we reflect, introspect and learn from our lives. Like Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

I have learnt that we should not be attaching our purpose to any one individual or one object. It has to be for the larger benefit of many. Only then will we be able to look beyond our fears and the cycle of death and birth. Otherwise, death of a loved one can shake us too much or birth of a new one can create an obsession of a different degree.

Art, creativity, music and dance form an important and integral part of my life. They give me the oxygen for existence. I believe that life becomes more colourful and joyful with the presence of these. A sense of healthy expression is important for every individual in any shape and form.

Describe your new book, OPEN UP, in a few sentences.
Open up, as the name suggests, is for people to find the answers or the messages that they are looking for. All they need to do is open up a random page of the book, see the message that’s on that page and find the link and relevance to their current life situation. Opening up a page is the first step; opening up your mind is the next step – to a new possibility, a new realisation, a new way of looking at things. Once you do this, life can work wonders for you. And of course, as I mentioned in the beginning of the book – “Magic is for believers.” I believe that the universe is constantly trying to communicate with us. Are we ready is the question.

Who do you think would most benefit from reading this book?
Open up is for those who like to come to their own realisations and would like to connect the dots themselves. It is for those independent thinkers who constantly look for stimulators that help them think and arrive at their solutions themselves. It is also for those who don’t like reading pages of information but would like a quick read that leaves a powerful impression. Anyone who is willing to introspect and learn will benefit immensely from this book. More than quotes, these are thought provokers. Not advice.

What first got you interested in NLP?
I had often heard about NLP from my father. Being a Psychologist, I did have a vague idea about it as we studied a minor part of it in our graduate course. However, it came back to me during a casual conversation with a friend who suggested that I take up an NLP course as it might help me deal with my asthma problem. Considering that this term kept finding its way back in my life time and again through different people in different occasions, I decided I should go ahead and see what is it all about. I never knew then, that it would have such a profound effect on my life.

What are the strengths of NLP compared to other approaches to self-improvement?
With NLP, I have been more effective as a coach and a Psychologist. Intervention time is much shorter and the impact is more powerful and lasting. If it took me multiple sessions with clients in the past, with NLP I am able to help clients achieve their breakthroughs within minutes. It is more progressive than regressive and definitely very effective.

While most techniques and approaches tell you what to do, NLP helps you understand how to do. It isn’t a generalised approach but a subjective one. So, each individual understands what is it that is not working in his or her personal style and what can they do differently. That’s what makes it work. The emphasis is not so much on the terminologies or definitions, but on the individual and their patterns. So, when you learn NLP, you learn more about yourself and how to change yourself with effortless ease and no judgments. Most other trainings that I have attended have so much of technical definitions and terminologies to remember that we forget to focus on ourselves in the process. NLP keeps it simple. Or at least, that’s definitely what I do in my trainings and what I have seen my trainers do too. 

One of the things you bring up in the book is the tendency for someone to remember one sentence someone said despite having heard paragraphs. Can you explain why this phenomenon occurs? And how can people use this phenomenon to improve their lives? 
Life is long and our memory is short. As much as we might like to remember things, there’s limited space or at least, that’s what we’d like to think, since we don’t use our mind’s capacity to its fullest. So, with the limited data space that we have, we are unconsciously constantly prioritising and reprioritising on what needs to stay in the memory and what can go to a far-away land. Hence, even though we speak tons of words and paragraphs, people usually remember what it was in a nutshell. So, why not say something powerful in a nutshell, so that people find it easy to remember as well? Besides, in an entire paragraph, not everything rings a bell with us and not everything might be relatable to our lives – but there are a few key things or sentences that stand out. That we choose to repeat to ourselves so that we remember. Just like how we don’t remember everyone we meet; we don’t register everything that we hear too. It’s only the key things. Therefore, even if you have to give a twenty-minute speech or an hour’s, see how is it possible to capture the essence of it in a powerful short sentence that can stay with people. Rather than say more and get people restless or bored, the power of concise communication is that you leave people curious and wanting for more.

Your family, friends, colleagues, anyone would be more interested in listening to you if you have the knack of saying the things in the right amount and the right manner. As much as what you say is important, how you say it makes it powerful, memorable or otherwise.

What inspired you to take what you have learned from your years of experience and compile it in a book? 
It was my father’s last wish when he read some of my writings that I should convert them into a book one day. That’s what got me started thinking about a book after his demise. He felt it’s a powerful medium to reach out to more people who may be far away too.

One of the strengths of your book is the concise yet thorough writing style. Was it difficult to distill complicated concepts into succinct bits of information?
I think I personally found it easy to keep it succinct. If I tried explaining it any further – I might have run into the problem of not knowing when to stop or how much was enough. This was easy and more enjoyable – practising “Less is powerful” and trusting that the readers will make the most relevant connections for themselves. There are no wrong answers here.

A lot of people, who want to work on improving themselves, have trouble with the initial steps. For someone who wants to use your book to make major changes in their life, is there anything people should keep in mind when getting started?

The only thing that I always recommend people to do when they want to make changes in their life is to be honest with themselves. That’s the greatest and the best gift you can give to yourself. Be honest with yourself and take responsibility. From the best that happens, and the worst, life is always offering us opportunities to reflect, learn and grow. And for that to happen, honesty with self is key. If we keep blaming others for our state, we can never change for the better.

On a similar note, what are some of the common mistakes that people make when beginning to make changes in their life?
One common mistake is to think that what happened in the past is exactly what’s going to happen in the future. If that were to be true, then life would be pointless. It  never is the case. Our past is never ever a reflection of our future unless we choose to keep regretting and stagnate where we are. If you are ready to learn and move on, life is ever willing to surprise you.

Secondly, it is important to remember to not make changes to life in a reactive manner. What I mean by that is, if someone cheats you, you can’t make a change saying ‘Now onwards I am not going to trust anyone’ – that’s just a bitter reaction. Not learning. Learning should be such that it creates an element of hope and positivity in you. ‘Yes, someone cheated. And by that I learnt what signs to watch out for and how to trust and how much.’ Here, it isn’t a reaction. It is a learning through reflection. Don’t feel sorry for yourself ever! You don’t need it. You are much more powerful than that.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
I am someone who lives life in the moment. I haven’t thought through ten years yet. I feel I have to live life every moment. So, anytime I get a thought, I stop doing what I am doing and quickly make a note. Capturing a powerful thought in a powerful moment is important. If I let the moment pass, the thought may go along with it too. So, recognising that there’s a powerful learning or a thought that’s presenting itself and immediately paying heed to it and making a note of it in that moment is my goal as a writer.

One goal that I would like to have for myself is be more organized about collating and collecting my thoughts so that it is easy to get them in one place and make compilation an easy process for myself.

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
I feel very grateful to my readers for a very good response so far. Most people have said that it works like magic for them and that they are stunned how they get the exact message that they most needed to hear for that day – every time they open it. They have tried it with their friends and colleagues too and are stunned and how magically it works. Some people said they use it every day before they start their day, or they use it in their office before they start their team-meeting – where everyone opens and sees what’s the message for themselves. It’s heart-warming to listen to such encouraging words of acceptance.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
My mind is always generating ideas – constantly! Likewise, in this case too. There are quite a few. I want to write a book on positive parenting. I am currently in the process of writing something on communication for interpersonal relationships. Hoping to be done with it soon.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
It’s an easy read. It’s not going to take you too much time to read it from start to finish. But that isn’t how you might want to read it either. Since each sentence is a thought provoker, it is recommended that once your read a sentence, contemplate on it before you move to the next one. There’s no beginning, no end, no sequence to it. You can start anywhere and go anywhere with it, anytime. So, happy reading.

International Links
Buy OPEN UP for Kindle.
Buy hard copy of OPEN UP.

India Links
Buy the book on Amazon.
Buy the book on Flipkart.

More Information
Visit the author’s website.
Check out the book on Goodreads.
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Cherelle Vanhanegin, Author of Betrayal of Fate: Secrets Revealed

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Today we are interviewing Cherelle Vanhanegin about her young adult fantasy novel, titled, “Betrayal of Fate: Secrets Revealed.”

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well I was born in Minneapolis Minnesota but, I grew up in Chicago Illinois. I’m 27 and I’ve always loved to read and write ever since I can remember. I am a mother, I have 4 girls 2 boys and I have a child who is fighting and winning against cancer. It's a bit of a tough road but things are going well. Other then that I am a business owner I love to sing and dance as well.

Describe the plot of your new book, “Betrayal of Fate Secrets Revealed,” in a few sentences.
The sons’ of King Siurue, go on a dangerous mission to eliminate the selected targets picked
sololy for them by the King.
Force to go on this mission by being threatened to kill or be killed, the boys regretfully accept it only able to take their uncle to assist them, leaving the only home they ever knew behind.
After meeting the target they will have to make the tough decision to kill them or be killed by
their clan.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Any one who would like to dive into a captivating book, that will take them to a whole new place and can relate to some of the situations that happen.

The great Asheron Great War is an event that has a major effect on your book’s story. What can you tell readers about this book?
Thanks to the war, all supernatural beings can’t live in peace with humans. Some are hunted for
fun, while others are captured and used as slaves of all kinds, or experimented on in a gruesome
way. The decision the boys choose will be an impact on all the lives from both sides.

Have you always been interested in the young adult / fantasy genre? Or is it something that developed alongside your writing career?
I have always loved this genre. Most of my favorite authors write in this genre.

What can you tell us about the evil Priestess Juin?
Juin is very reserved and can come off cold at times, but she loves her family and would do
anything to keep them safe. That's all I can really say about her without giving away too much of
the truth.

A lot of your writing deals with a character that must make a decision that has major ramifications. Is this something you planned for your writing? Or is it something that arose once you started ironing out your plot?
Life as we all know is made up of the choices we make in life, easy choices, hard ones, even
very difficult ones. The one he had to make was particularly hard since he himself didn’t want anything to do with this mission after falling for his planned target, losing someone you love is something difficult to go through. Especially if its your fault it happened. So I think it's kind of both. It was planned out to make a tough decision to choose your clan or choose your love. Just not how it ended up being.

Tell us about the character, Sojiro.
He is a very strong warrior/ ninja, the best in his clan.He is very strategic, smart, and cunning. He has a very protective laid back personality.i can say he is one of my stronger powerhouse characters in the book due to his take on the things that happen in the book. Also he stands about 6’1, muscular, blondish white shoulder length hair, and green eyes and is 20 years old in this book. He loves his siblings more than anything.

What inspirations contributed to this book?
Music actually.

Is there an author that had a major influence on you while you were growing up?
J.K Rowling and Ellen Hoppkins.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was 7.

Who was your favorite character to write?
Zazmolina she is my favorite. She has a very laid back personality and she is very blunt and can be very funny at times.

What genre do you read most frequently?

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
I’ve become more confident in my writing. I was never able to finish a book once I got to the
middle of it. I’d always just say that it wasn’t good so i’d scrap it. But now I believe I've been
able to overcome that since then.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?
Character building actually was surprisingly my weak point, so I've been working on it much more.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
To have multiple series published.

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
Very positive actually. One person told me it made her cry but she is very excited to read the
next one, and the others said they were so captivated by it they couldn’t put it down.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
No not really. I actually enjoy it all.

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?
Yes i have oh man yes. I do many things to help me with writer's block, I write , I can't think as many times as I can on paper until I come up with new ideas. I take a break to eat take a nap maybe watch a little anime or a movie just to take my mind off of being stuck and I get new ideas like that. I listen to music as well while writing my book. Most times i put the song on repeat to be able to keep focus on writing.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
The next installment of betrayal of fates. It's going to be 5 books installment. The whole series is going to be a thirty of forty book series. I also have books that aren’t apart of this series I'm working on at the moment.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
I believe its an amazing story. The characters well most of them are lovable. You can actually
picture everything that happens in your mind for some it paints a very vivid picture i really
enjoyed writing this book so much i’ve read it over a million times myself lol mostly causes i've added new things i’m done with that now though but, I truly hope any one who reads it enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and I really do hope that anyone that reads this that likes it stays with me on this journey to read every one of them.

fantasy werewolf, kitsune ninja, love betraya, deceit war family, young adult fantasy novel, betrayal of fate secrets revealed, Cherelle vanhanegin, ya fantasy novel, new ya fantasy,
Author Cherelle Vanhanegin.
Book excerpt from “Betrayal of Fate: Secrets Revealed":
“Not a good idea.” He pulled out a gun and pointed it at me. I stopped a few feet from him. 
“I thought maybe you’d come to your senses if I did this but if you insist on dying then I’d be happy to help you with that," he said as a click sounded from the gun. 
Then he looked at the gun and it made a clicking sound again. 
“You need bullets to kill with a gun, stupid…” We all turned to see a girl sitting on top of the shack with a ring blade around her. 
She had two black ponytails in her hair with many different streaks of pink purple and blue in it. Her skin was very pale and she was more on the petite side, she couldn’t be much older than twelve. 
“Here you might want these back. All though...they won't do you any good now.” she said as she through what I assume were the bullets back at him. 
“You sneaky bit-” 
“Ahahah...language. Your such a naughty boy...I love it” she laughed. 
Then she disappeared and reappeared behind him. 
“I don't know why you want to just play with Soji here…..no fair, I want to play to….you smell tasty.” she laughed. 
Then he swung his hand at her but she disappeared again....
More Information
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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Shawn Van Horn, Author of Dark Thoughts

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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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