Posts tagged "author interview"

My Interview with Steve Lindahl



Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I am currently working on a series of past life mysteries. I’ve published the first two novels, Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions, through All Things that Matter Press and I’m working on a third. In each book something occurs that needs to be investigated: a crime or a devastating accident. Glen Wiley, a hypnotist, is called in to regress the people who knew the victim. He uses events from the past lives they shared to solve the present day mystery. Relationships in the books present a second, different type of mystery, since they change from life to life. People who are friends in the present might have been sisters in the past, a mother and daughter might have been a teacher and a student or possibly two students, a woman might have been a man or even an animal, but all the souls exist in all the incarnations and all play roles in whatever tragedy occurs.


What genre(s) do you write in?

My books are mysteries, but they are also historical fiction. White Horse Regressions takes the reader back to Victorian London during the time of Jack the Ripper and also to the Han dynasty when Buddhism was first introduced to China while Motherless Soul has many scenes set in the American Civil War. My past life mystery novels share characteristics with time-travel stories because historical portions can mix in with present day sections. However, past life regressions avoid the discrepancies of time travel. Although the characters can observe and discover, events cannot be changed.


What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Writers need to write. It sounds silly because it’s so obvious, but life is hectic and finding the time to sit in front of a computer screen can be difficult. Staying motivated is hard, since only a very few writers find success quickly. It helps to share your work with family, friends, or other writers in a critique group. Still while it is important to keep writing, writers also need to keep up other aspects of their lives. Believable, interesting characters are what makes for great fiction and, although writing is a solitary art form, writers who don’t know people can’t write about them.


What are your three favorite books?

I’m going to change this question a bit and answer my three favorite types of books instead.

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis has great characters and mixes carefully researched history from the year 1348 (the time of the black plague) with a setting in the year 2048. Sometimes the pace of the book is frantic, but at other times it slows down and the emotions are strong. I love the way Willis’ people share the same human failings no matter what century they’re from. And I love her treatment of religion in the novel. I have recently read the sequel: To Say Nothing of the Dog, which was also good. Doomsday Book was published in 1993, but I still consider it my favorite from the large, commercial publishers.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is my favorite classic. The pace is slow at times, which is something I expect and enjoy in nineteenth century literature. Perhaps it is that pace that makes the characters so great. I can understand the emotions that propel Anna into her relationship with Vronsky while also understanding her husband’s feelings. The story captures the importance of society and propriety in that period. I’ve read the book times three times which is more than I’ve read any other novel other than the ones I’ve written.

The last type of book I want to include among my favorite novels are the ones published by small presses, including my own publisher: All Things That Matter Press. Small presses are where readers find unique and fresh writing. My own novels are examples of this type and so is Conversations Among Ruins by the author of this blog. Others include Memoirs from the Asylum by Ken Weene, A House Near Luccoli by DM Denton, Out of Crystal Ice by P.J. Wetzel, Musical Chairs by Jen Knox, and others too numerous to list. All bringing something new to lovers of ideas and stories.


If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Emperor Ming (the Chinese Emperor portrayed in White Horse Regressions) would be a good choice. I would get to learn why he wanted to introduce Buddhism to China enough to build the first temple. But the challenge I’m facing now is how to get the word out about my book, so instead I’ll choose someone who could help with that. I would love to talk to Hart Hanson or another television producer to ask about using my stories in a series. The characters and plots would translate to the small screen extremely well if I could be lucky enough to have an honest conversation with someone who could make that wish a reality.


What are you currently reading?

I just started Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. It was published in 1900, but I suppose I can still consider it a nineteenth century work. It’s a book I should have read years ago. Although the writing is very different from modern novels, the characters, especially Carrie, are fully developed, interesting people. I’m enjoying it.


Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

As I mentioned before, I use the concept of past lives as a device in my writing and in doing so I cover the idea of the continuity of life. The idea that the soul is eternal is the most important message in my writing. But I don’t want any concept in my books to be accepted blindly. I hope my readers think and come to their own conclusions.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

My writing helps me keep sane rather than the other way around. I create characters I care about and watch them face problems that are often similar to ones I have faced in my non-writing life. As I experience these situations with my fictional friends, I learn how to handle my own frustrations. I imagine this is similar to what people get from role playing in therapy workshops.


Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

Many books have changed my life by making me think in different ways, but the one I’ll mention had an unusual impact on me. It’s The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Noah Calhoun, the novel’s main character, grew up in North Carolina where he loved being by water. He spent some time in New Jersey, but never bothered to visit the lakes up there. I grew up in New Jersey and had been living in North Carolina for a good length of time when I read the book. In NJ I spent summers near a lake, but I hadn’t found one to enjoy after my move. I decided I’d look around for a place where I could get back to the water. Now I have a kayak I use about every two weeks and have found a walking path that winds around a lake just ten minutes from my home.


What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

The main obstacle is finding time to write. I have a day job that pays the bills, so I work on the books in the middle of the night and on weekends. But publicity takes some of that time. I’m going to retire from that day job soon, so the obstacle should go away.


What do you like best/least about writing?

My favorite and least favorite aspects of writing are the same one, coming up with ideas. I’m as happy as I can be when the plot is going well and the characters are reacting in interesting ways, but when I can’t come up with the next step or somebody in the book has done something I know I have to rewrite, I can get frustrated. Writing isn’t different from any other project. When I’m in the zone, life is good.


Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I leaned so much its hard to know where to begin. The research was fun, especially about the introduction of Buddhism to China. Discovering Emperor Ming’s role in bringing a new religion to the people of that region was amazing. The research about life in Victorian London was also interesting, although I knew a little more about that era. The people in my novel taught me new things concerning emotions and coping with life. My characters have been my teachers in every story I’ve written and White Horse Regressions was no exception.


Thank you STEVE LINDAHL for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Things That Matter Press. More information can be found on my website:, my blog,, and on Goodreads and Librarything.








Emily Vinson’s entire life was impacted by the loss of her mother when she was 2 years old. At 82 Emily contacts a hypnotist hoping to draw out hidden memories and discover as much as possible about the short time she spent with the woman who gave her life. Glen Wiley, the hypnotist, teaches her more about herself than she had expected. He helps her bring out memories of many past lives, including an experience that took place on a smoke filled battlefield. All of Emily’s lives have had the same tragic outcome, the loss of her mother at a young age. Her soul is caught in what Glen calls circularity, meaning that the tragedy will occur again and again unless she can break the pattern. She and Glen must revisit her past lives and use what they learn to find the other souls who are part of the circle. They must use the past to change the future. Emily’s stubborn desire to know her mother is realized in intricate and unsettling ways no one could have imagined possible.




Glen asked her to count backwards from one hundred.  When she passed fifty-nine he started to guide her saying, “Go back, back further to a time before you were Emily Vinson.  Keep going back.”  His words seemed to run right through her body, like a shot of whiskey.  Glen seemed to be growing distant, although she knew he was right next to her.  She kept counting toward zero, even as he spoke.

Emily lost track of the counting.  She was certain she’d repeated some numbers, but she tried to keep them coming.  She knew she had to do what Glen told her to do.  She closed her eyes.  Shortly after that the dim light she could make out through her lids faded into absolute darkness.

“You’re slipping through time and space into a place that’s been buried in your heart for ages upon ages.  Something important happened to you in this place.  You’re starting to remember what it was like: the smells, the sounds, the texture of the world around you.”

Her eyes started to burn.  Memories were flowing into her head after a period of nothingness and those sensations were different from what she’d experienced the day before.  This time it was as if she were two people.  The person she had been before the session began, the old woman nearing the end of her life, was now watching someone else from inside that other person’s body.  The other person was very young, but in trouble.

“Talk to me, Emily.  Let me know what you’re feeling.”

Emily started to cry.  She wasn’t able to hold back.  Her cry was the loud wail of a hungry baby.  But Emily knew what she felt wasn’t only hunger.  Something was very wrong.

“I can smell smoke and feel heat,” she told Glen.  She was in a trance, but able to speak.  “Images are coming into my head.  I see my mother sitting beside me.  She’s reaching over to pick me up.  I’m an infant, too young to say words or understand what’s happening around me.  There is so much noise, groans from men lying on the ground near us and shouts from other men behind the bushes and trees.  There are blasts of gunfire and the sounds of branches breaking and feet pounding as men run in every direction imaginable.  My mother’s lifting me to her face and kissing me.  Her face is wet with sweat, so are her hair and her arms.  She’s rocking me, comforting me.  This isn’t the mother I saw yesterday, when I was still Emily.  This is a different woman with light brown hair, blue eyes and two small moles under the left side of her mouth.  She is covered in soot and dressed in a torn, filthy cotton dress that hangs loosely on her thin body.

“And then there is the voice of my mother.  Everything will be all right, my darling.  We’ll be home again soon.  We’ll be with Charles and with Grandma.  This will all be over.  I promise.  Remember what God tells us, Charlotte.

“Charlotte is my name.  I’m so very young, but I recognized my name.  I also know this isn’t the first time my mother has prayed with me.  We have been walking for what seems like forever and during that long walk my mother often held me to her chest and talked with a soft, rhythmic voice that comforted me.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

“The words aren’t enough this time.  The noise around us is too loud and the sting from the smoke hurts too much.  A burning tree is crashing down behind us.  I’m crying.  I’m crying so hard.

Remember that I love you, my mother tells me.

“My mother kisses both of my eyes, then my cheek, three long, deliberate kisses.  She holds me on her shoulder and turns my face against her neck, as if her body can be a filter from the smoke.

“My mother starts singing and I listen.  Her voice is so beautiful and no matter what else is happening, I can’t help but listen.

In Scarlett town where I was born…  I know the song. My mother sings it often.  It’s one of her favorites.”

Emily was Charlotte, so she could feel what the baby felt, but she could also understand it with the background her age offered.  Charlotte’s mother was protecting her the only way she could.  She couldn’t stop what was happening, but she could ease the fear for both of them.  “…there was a fair maid dwellin’.”  It was a folk song.  The tone was gentle and soft.  If Charlotte concentrated on it she wouldn’t hear the gunshots or feel the heat of the fires.  She would be at peace.

…her name was Barb’ra Allen.

Then a nearby gun exploded loudly.  Her mother stopped singing and fell to her right side, still holding Charlotte in her arms.

Charlotte lay still.  She was too young to move, too young to do anything other than cry.

Emily was there, too, lying on the body of Charlotte’s dead mother.  She could see the same blood the baby saw and feel the same warm but lifeless flesh.  Charlotte didn’t understand death, but that didn’t lessen the sense of loss.  Grief for the baby was instinctual and hurt in ways that were more akin to physical pain than the sorrow of an anguished adult.  For Emily it was different.  She understood death all too well.

“I won’t let you burn,” the man’s voice said clearly.  He was the one who had walked with them.  Now he was standing above her, where Charlotte could see only his legs.  “Even Charles’ bastard deserves that much.”  He leaned close to her.  His breath smelled bad, worse than the smoke.  He had a knife and he used that knife to cut her.  He sliced her throat with one quick slash and, at that instant, Emily spun back to Glen.







The soul is eternal, and no more so than in Steve Lindahl’s White Horse Regressions, the story of a group of individuals destined to share their lives throughout time, be it in ancient China during the Han dynasty, in 19th Century London during Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, or in a small town rocked by murder in present-day Vermont. It’s been almost a year since Hannah Hersman’s girlfriend was killed, and the police still have no leads, no suspects, and no one in custody. Undeterred and longing for closure, Hannah calls in Glen Wiley, a renowned hypnotist, as a last resort. Glen quickly discovers that in a past life Hannah was a prostitute in Victorian London named Rose and her girlfriend was Annie Chapman, a victim of Jack the Ripper. In fact, many of Hannah’s friends and acquaintances were similarly connected to her, not just in then London but in multiple lives and multiple places throughout history. And, in all these incarnations, their existence is tied to a murderous plot that Hannah and Glen must uncover to ensure their future lives can avoid the pain and misery of losing their loved ones. White Horse Regressions is a compelling supernatural thriller that drops you down the rabbit hole and spits you out into the filthy streets of a not-too-long-ago London, the palatial estates of a long-forgotten China, and the seedy underbelly of small-town America. ~Patrick Lafferty, author of Anno Domina, Thinking Out of the Box, and Miller Time






Stuart and Hannah sat in the audience of a small community theater in Springfield, Vermont, examining the set of A Doll’s House while they waited for the performance to begin. Paige was cast as Nora.

“Isn’t that picture odd?” Stuart whispered to Hannah, referring to the Asian-looking painting on the set. It did not belong to late-eighteen-hundreds Norway by any standard. “I’d like to have a closer look.”

“If we stay after the show’s over, there might be a chance we could go up on the stage. I’ll ask Paige.”

Stuart’s wife, Jamie, was also an actress, and when rehearsal and performance schedules prevented Paige and Jamie from attending each other’s shows, their significant others often went together. Jamie was currently in rehearsal for a production of The Drowsy Chaperone, so here they were.

The non-acting partners enjoyed their arrangement. Hannah had known Stuart and Jamie for years; before Paige, she’d been the tag-along friend, but had always felt welcome – more by Stuart than by Jamie.

The lights dimmed then slowly came up again. There was no curtain in this theater, so this was the signal that the performance was about to begin. Paige came out on stage, a dominant figure as always due to her red-orange hair. She set down the presents she was carrying and crossed to a Christmas tree on the far end of the stage. She started to add ornaments when Torvald Helmer, her character’s husband, joined her on the set.

There was no doubt Paige was the star as she made Nora’s transition from naïve to inured believable. Still Hannah could not stop thinking about the odd Asian painting, so out of place on the set.

When the play was over, while the cast was being congratulated by fans, Hannah asked her girlfriend if she and Stuart might look at the set up close. Paige took hold of Hannah’s hand and led them both up onto the stage.

Hannah and Stuart went straight to the Asian painting, which was a watercolor depicting a scene that was, they thought, taking place in China. There were a number of people dressed in the types of robes associated with ancient times in that country who were watching what, at first glance, appeared to Hannah to be a film; a closer look revealed that behind the screen men were holding objects up to cast shadows It was a  form of puppet theater.

“What is this?” Hannah asked Paige.

“It’s been the talk of the cast. No one knows why it was included on the set, but you have to admit it’s fascinating. I suppose it draws attention because it seems out of place, but I wouldn’t want it taken away. There’s something warm about it.”

“Warm?” Stuart asked.

Paige shrugged. “Hard to say why. None of us saw it prior to tech week, so nobody was prepared. Some board member wanted it hung here. I heard he’s a history buff. Anyway, he’s got money so it’s hard to say no. But enough about the set. Tell me what you thought of the show.”

“I’m sorry,” Hannah said, turning to Paige to hug her again. “You were fabulous. I can’t say that enough.”

“Were local models used for this?” Stuart asked, still focused on the painting. “Some of these people look familiar. This young girl in blue, for example, where’d they get her?”

Paige pulled away from Hannah, laughing a little and shaking her head. “I have no idea where or when that painting was done. I know what you mean, though. There’s a man in it I thought might be someone I used to know. I think it’s the way he’s standing, with his shoulders hunched forward. I had a teacher who used to do that, but he wasn’t Asian.”

“Do you two want to go out for coffee?” Hannah offered.

Paige agreed, but Stuart begged off; he needed to pick up his daughter, Starr, from his parents.


Their happy mood turned gloomy as Paige was pulled for running a light almost as soon as they started to drive toward downtown Springfield.

“It’s not fair,” Paige said. “I swear someone’s out to get me.”

“It’s just a ticket.”

“No, it’s more than that.” Hannah tried to convince Paige she was being paranoid, but later the words would seem prophetic.


The next night Paige’s performance was as spectacular as it had been on opening night.

By the following weekend, the show was canceled. Paige was dead.


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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 30, 2014 at 6:26 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

My Interview with Bryan Fields



Leave a comment to win a free copy of THE LAND BEYOND DREAMS!!!


Fields Bio pic

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I’m fifty, live in Denver with my wife Noelle and our daughter Alissa.  I’ve been writing all my life, but I really got serious about five years ago while I was on the development team for an online game called Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted.  I wrote quests, dialog for the non-player characters in the game, and game-based stories for the players.  It was great fun, and once I started, I just kept writing.

My first published book was ‘Life With a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend’, your standard ‘boy meets girl, girl moves in, girl is really a dragon’ story.  The narrator, David, is an alpha geek and gamer whose moral code is based on Doctor Who, meaning he believes intellect and romance will triumph over brute force and cynicism.  Rose is just over a thousand years old, which is the Draconic age of adulthood.  She came to Earth to absorb love and wonder in order to increase the chances her next mating flight will produce happy, healthy hatchlings.  She meets David, and, well, hijinks ensue.

My new book, ‘The Land Beyond All Dreams’ is the sequel to ‘Fire-Breathing Girlfriend’.  David’s mother is in the final stages of lung cancer, and he’s trying to deal with that when he discovers the weight loss drug his company is developing has some nasty side effects, such as murder and cannibalism.

A necromancer named Ingrim Thain killed the head of the research program and took his place.  Thain is using the drug trial as part of a plan for global conquest.  He offers David vast wealth and power, even promising to cure David’s mother’s cancer, if David will simply keep quiet about the drug’s side effects.

If all that weren’t enough to deal with, a hat-wearing cat with working thumbs and a taste for coffee just moved into David’s house.  It’s not going to be a very easy time for them.


What genre(s) do you write in?

My favorite is urban fantasy.  I do have some Steampunk stories out, but even in the Steampunk tales, I like adding elements of fantasy.  The interplay of magic and technology has always been one of my favorite thought experiments.  Even back in high school, running 1st Edition D&D games, I wondered what these game worlds would be like once the industrial revolution hit.  What would civilization and government be like with multiple sentient races?  It’s a scenario I still enjoy playing with.


What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

My fez.  I don’t think any of the other authors I know have a fez with Cthulhu on it.

One difference I can think of is that I’m not aspiring to produce a masterpiece of epic fantasy.  The epic literary adventure school of writing can get along fine without me.  I like to keep my work light and readable, with room for comedy and pop culture references.  One reviewer compared my voice to a mix of Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson.  To me, it doesn’t get better than that.


Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

Both.  My books are published through MuseItUp Publishing, and I have several short stories self-published through Amazon.


What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

First, bring the emotion.  If the writer doesn’t feel any emotion, neither will the reader.  Second, the only thing you should compare your work to is the previous version.  Lastly, ideas are perverse little buggers and they don’t care what you’re doing when they show up.  Carry a notebook or something similar with you.  Have it next to your bed in case an idea shows up during a dream – because they will.  If one pops up while you’re working on something else, write it down, go back to what you were doing, and finish that first.  One finished project is worth more than an infinite stack of ideas.


What are your three favorite books?

Illusions, by Richard Bach.

Moonheart, by Charles deLint

The entire Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey


Who is your favorite author and why?

As a reader, I have a hard time choosing between Charles deLint and Richard Bach.  Not just what they said, but how they said it.  Clean, simple, elegant, and moving.

As a writer, I found Richard Bach’s Ferret Chronicles both inspirational and motivating.  One of the stories, ‘Writer Ferrets: Chasing the Muse’, concerns a ferret named Budgeron.  He has a successful children’s book, but is just beating himself to death trying to write the Great Ferret Novel.  All he dreams of is legitimate literary success, and he’s failing, to the point where even touching his pen gives him visions of a dragon attacking, burning, tearing him to ribbons.  How many writers can relate to that?

I came away from that story seeing writing in a completely new way, which comes down to this: if there isn’t joy in your heart when you’re writing, you’re telling the wrong story.


Fields life-with-fire-brething-g-medium


What are you currently working on?

I just finished ‘Dragon’s Luck’, the third book in my ‘Fire-Breathing Girlfriend’ series.  It takes place in Las Vegas, at a gaming convention in a hotel/casino based on the world’s most popular online fantasy role-playing game.  David and Rose are now the owners of a game company, and are trying to make an online RPG of their own.  It’s not going well, of course, and they need to find an investor.  Instead, they find themselves drawn in to a religious war between the Dark Elves of a distant world.

David and Rose also meet a family of retired high-level adventurers from what would be considered a D&D campaign world.  They came to Earth as tourists and decided to stay for the flush toilets and fast cars.  It was fun to have a go at some traditional fantasy tropes and write characters who were used to solving problems with a sword or a lightning bolt.  They’re wealthy, they have no fear at all of reprisal or the criminal justice system, and they consider ‘killing people and taking their stuff’ to be a viable career path.  I mean, just imagine dealing with a bratty little sister who knows magic.

I really enjoyed writing this book, especially the issues with David’s gaming studio.  I didn’t even have to make anything up; I just asked my friends in the gaming industry to tell me about the worst or craziest situations they had ever encountered.    The responses I got were just a gold mine.  One example I wound up not using was an instance where an investor wanted the designers to add sexual animations and explicit chat channels to a Teen-rated fantasy MMO.  I guess he wanted to change ‘Looking for Group’ to ‘Looking for Grope’…


What are you currently reading?

I have a stack of new stuff by Charles deLint and Neil Gaiman I’m trying to work through.  I’m also trying to find the time to read ‘The Killer Angels’ as a Steampunk reference.  On top of that, I’m in the middle of three or four books written by friends.  I hate putting them down, because I’m lucky enough to know some really good writers


Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

There is, and a few people have commented on it.  I wanted the lifestyle choices of the characters not to be an issue within the story.  People love who they love, believe what they believe, and that’s it.  There’s no preaching and no fanfare to it.

One philosophy I truly believe in and do my best to practice is the Star Trek ideal of Infinite Diversity from Infinite Combinations.  Even people who advocate everything I oppose have value, a place in the universe, and a right to be here, just like mosquitos, earwigs, and slime molds.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

That ship has sailed…

Seriously, though, it’s the writing that keeps me sane.  I don’t write because I expect to change the world; I write because I enjoy telling stories.


Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Hey, that yak was dead when I got th- I mean, no.  No, not really.


What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

The biggest obstacle is always putting butt in chair and words on paper.  There are so many distractions available to pull your attention away from writing…  Even the critical ones, like buying more coffee and promoting your books, are leeching productive time away.  That’s why I talked about finishing your current project earlier.  Great ideas, natural talent, a gripping writing style – all these things are worth crap if you never finish anything.


What do you like best/least about writing?

I like marketing and self-promotion the least, but it’s an unavoidable evil.

What I like best is simply telling stories.  Storytelling originated around the fire, as a way of driving back the night, and the terrors hidden in it.  Before written language, before schools and temples and governments, the stories we told turned mobs into communities and taught us who we are as a people.  Stories still have that power today.

To borrow from Whitman, the storyteller’s fire still burns, and we… may contribute our tales


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Thank you Bryan Fields for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

Fields The Land Beyond All Dreams


Excerpt from The Land Beyond Dreams

Being surrounded by cyclone winds and a circling wall of black clouds was enough to convince even the skeptics we were in trouble. The BADASSES formed up and nocked arrows in record time. The regular customers took a few seconds longer, but in no more than half a minute everyone was armed and ready.

Jake called out, “First volley! Aim for the head! Nock and draw!” He waited until the angry haggis straightened up to get a better grip on the shutters. As soon as the whole head was visible, he shouted, “Loose!” Fourteen arrows sank into the ugly bastard’s forehead. He stumbled backward and collapsed.

Jake took three steps forward, calling out, “Nock and draw! First priority is anyone with a ranged weapon and anyone casting a spell! Aim for the head and fire at will!” As he spoke, he elevated his aim and fired at a figure wearing ruined robes. Everyone else began firing in earnest.

The ranks of dead guys charged the building. The first ones to reach the wall just grabbed it and stood there. More grabbed on to them, kneeled down, or climbed up and found something of their own to hang on to. In seconds, the first two ranks turned themselves into siege ladders, and the rest of the army started climbing up to attack us.

Ackerman ran to the edge, firing round after round into the supporting corpses’ skulls. Part of the line fell. More surged in to replace them. Ackerman fell back and reloaded his Glock while Wells stepped up to take over.

A dead woman wearing nothing but bits of broken jewelry popped up from behind one of the cars. She pointed at Wells and a bolt of lightning turned him into a spray of small wet chunks. I fired at her without aiming. The arrow pinned her to our Range Rover. Ackerman blew the top of her skull off.

A soldier did a salmon-leap onto the roof and hurled his axe at our line. It missed. Three arrows dropped him. Two more soldiers replaced him. One wore a steel helm—five arrows bounced off before Miranda got her Glock out and dropped him.

A single Dwarf in heavy plate broke off and charged the feed store. I snapped a shot at him. It bounced off his pauldron. Three guys armed with hand tools made a stand by the entrance, and he cut them down without stopping. His axe split the door down the middle. He ripped it away and vanished into the store.

I heard the screaming start, and looked for a way off the roof. Someone shouted my name. Jake was shaking my shoulder. He was shouting, telling me to hold the line. I shook his hand off and started toward the edge of the roof. As I did, half a dozen corpses heaved themselves onto the roof and took up a defensive formation protecting those climbing up behind them.

If they established a beachhead, we were all dead. I drew Kindness and charged.

The first dead guy took a step back, right into two of his buddies. One stroke gained me three heads. I blocked a sword, sliced the head off a mace, and turned one orc into two half-orcs.

One of the soldiers jumped on my back, pulling a cloak over my head. I spun to the right, dropping to one knee and holding Kindness at full extension. I felt the blade slice through something and heard a body drop.

The bastard on my back stabbed me. The blade skipped along my ribs. I reached back, grabbed a handful of bone, and flipped the guy over my shoulder. The cloak went with him. I thrust Kindness up through his jaw and out the top of his head.

Ackerman fired two more rounds into the undead horde and fell back. I followed, clearing the field for the others to keep shooting.

A dead Elven woman leaped onto the roof of the Range Rover. She aimed and fired two arrows before her feet touched metal. The arrows struck Hugh and Emme, a couple I only knew slightly through BADASSES, and emerged from their backs. The arrowheads split open and spread out like flower petals.

Gold chains trailed from the arrows back to the Elf. She grabbed the chains and yanked Hugh and Emme off the roof. Dead soldiers swarmed the spot where they fell.

Ackerman fired his last three rounds at the Elf. She dodged them, nocked, and let fly. Her arrow split into three shafts, and then again into nine. All nine arrows struck. Three in his heart, three in his throat, three in the middle of his forehead.

Miranda dropped to one knee and aimed her Glock, shouting “Keep her busy!” Jake and Ember launched a volley of arrows at the Elf. She grabbed two arrows out of the air and nocked both. Miranda fired just as the Elf loosed. Rotting Elf brains sprayed all over my car.

One arrow sent the Glock flying. The other went through Miranda’s eye. She fell backward and didn’t move. Jake sank down on his knees next to her. Ember dropped her bow and joined him. I looked away, and spotted the dead Dwarf hauling himself up onto the far end of the roof. He rolled to his feet and charged.

I walked out to meet him. He leaped, swinging his axe over his head with both hands. Kindness removed both arms and his head. I didn’t feel any joy. I didn’t feel any satisfaction. I felt like I was killing a mosquito.

Harmony and Rose came out onto the roof. Rose was armored up, as I assumed Harmony was. Harmony stood at the edge of the roof, arms out at her side. She brought her hands up and around in front of her face, thumbs down and palms out. She began chanting in Draconic, sounding like a pair of didgeridoos pitched about three octaves apart. As she moved her hands apart, a wall of force pushed the undead back, away from the front of the store.

Rose stepped up next to Harmony, moving her hands around an antifreeze-green ball of energy. She brought it above her head and hurled the spell out over the mass of undead. The ball burst, and green flames rained down on them.

I spotted Thain standing against the far side of Harmony’s energy barrier. He tried spell after spell, attempting to break through the barrier. All of them failed. The green flames enveloped his legs and back. Flames blossomed inside his ribcage, sending burning pieces of parchment wafting to the ground. He fell to his knees, pounding on the barrier with his fists. He kept pounding on the barrier until the flames burned his arms into ash.

Harmony kept chanting far beyond any Human lung capacity, until the last of the fires died and nothing moved anymore. She released the spell and staggered back from the edge of the roof. She embraced Ember, and I did the same with Rose.

“What happened? What was all that? Are we safe?” The last two survivors of Lucas’ regular customers, a husband and wife in their mid-sixties, clutched at each other and stared, half-dazed from shock and adrenaline.

I looked around. I didn’t see any more dead soldiers, but that wasn’t much comfort. All around us, the cyclone was still roaring and churning away. Even looking straight up I couldn’t see open sky. “That was being attacked by an army of the dead, and no, I don’t think we’re safe yet.”

Rose shook her head. “No, we’re not. The portal would have collapsed by now if Thain were dead. He’s trying to trick us.”

Jake and I moved the people we’d lost off the line and arranged them next to the stairway. We had nothing to cover their faces with, so we closed their eyes as best we could. I tried to say something to Jake about Miranda, but he brushed me off. “We’ll hug it out when the bastard’s dead. Now cover me while I get the shotguns.”

He went out the side door, pulled two gear bags out of the trunk of his car, and ran back inside. Rose and I stood ready to shoot at anything moving toward him, but the field stayed clear. When Jake got back up on the roof, he draped one of Miranda’s uniform shirts over her face before setting about getting both shotguns loaded.

Neither our cell phones nor Ackerman’s radio were getting any signal. Ember tried the shop’s land line and got no dial tone. She grabbed a rubber-tipped small game arrow and wrote out a short message, which she secured to the shaft with rubber bands. Back on the roof, she aimed the arrow as high as she could and sent it flying into the wall of wind. “You never know,” she said. “Message in a bottle and all that.”

“This tornado has to be visible from downtown Denver,” I said. “The Lafayette police are missing two officers, and three people just tried to make it out of here. If they succeeded, if the way was clear, at the very least we should have seen a robot camera being sent in by now. Based on all that, I’d say we’re cut off.”

“Cut off by whom?” Ron asked. “And what do they want?” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Try again. Why is whoever they are trying to kill us?”

“To keep us from stopping his invasion of Earth,” I said. “He’s not going to give up until we’re dead.”

Ron gestured to the empty parking lot. “So, where is he?”

“He’s here. He’s watching, probably planning a second attack. He wouldn’t send all of his forces in at once. He’ll find a weak… Oh, shit.” I turned around and looked at the grain elevator towering over us.

Something moved on top of the grain elevator. It was Thain, flanked by several horribly familiar shapes.

I grabbed my bow and shouted, “Hostiles on the grain elevator!” I loosed one of my flint-tipped arrows, aiming on instinct alone. It was enough. The arrow sunk into Thain’s chest, but he did not drop. Instead, he crumbled into broken pieces of clay, which fell and shattered on the ground.

In response, two of the undead Dragon hatchlings launched themselves off the grain elevator, streaking toward us with outstretched claws.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 9, 2014 at 6:45 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

My Interview with Sara Jayne Townsend

Please welcome Sara Jayne Townsend, author of DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.

I’m a UK-based writer with a day job, keeping busy fitting the writing in around it.  The first two novels in my series about contemporary amateur sleuth Shara Summers are being released shortly – DEATH SCENE, the first book, on 22 September, and DEAD COOL, the second, on 25 November.


What genre(s) do you write in?

Crime and horror.  I say that the common theme is that someone always dies horribly, in whatever I write!  There are differences in the two genres as well.  Crime tends to have a tighter structure, and there is generally a happy ending, in that the murderer is identified and caught.  Horror doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending – sometimes the Big Bad is not stopped.  My horror is darker, and often has – though not necessarily – supernatural elements.  My crime is set firmly in the real world.


Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I don’t have an agent, but have always gone with small publishers.  The two forthcoming amateur sleuth novels are being published by MuseItUp Publishing.

My first novel, the supernatural horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN, was published by Lyrical Press in 2010.  I had a three-year contract on that so when the rights reverted back to me I decided to re-release it as a self-published e-book.  It had already been edited so all I had to do was produce a new cover, so I commissioned an artist friend to create one for me.

Self-publishing still has a bad rap.  I don’t think there’s a problem with authors self-publishing books but they must do two very important things with the manuscript before they do so – put it through a professional editing process, and make sure it has a decent cover.


What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Get used to rejection, and never give up.  It’s always crushing to have someone reject your work, but it’s part of the process.  I always make a list of places to submit to when I’ve finished a manuscript.  I start at the top of the list.  When the rejection comes back, I allow myself a day or so to wallow in disappointment, then I send it out to the next name on the list.  Eventually there will be a yes.  But it’s important to keep getting back on the horse.


Who is your favorite author and why?

There are two authors I love equally, one in horror and one in crime.

My favourite horror author is Stephen King.  I love the way he writes about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Sara Paretsky is my inspiration for crime writing.  I love her female private eye VI Warshawski.  VI is a whisky-drinking independent-minded woman who refuses to be scared off in her quest to get to the truth, and as a result she gets shot at a lot.  But I think she’s a wonderful character, and Sara Paretsky is a great writer.


What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on what I hope will be the final draft of a supernatural horror novel, about a group of live action role players who unwittingly raise a powerful undead entity in the course of a game, and then have to stop it before it destroys them all.

I’m also working on the plot summary for the third Shara Summers book, which I hope to be able to get on with writing soon.


If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Elizabeth the first.  I have a great deal of admiration for her as a woman in a man’s world, trying to prove that a woman could do just as good a job as a monarch as a man, and refusing to marry because she knew that if she did, her husband would over-rule her as monarch.


What are you currently reading?

MURDER by Sarah Pinborough, the second book in her ‘Mayhem’ series.  It’s set in Victorian London in the era of Jack the Ripper, but is about an entirely different set of murders.  It is dark, gruesome and disturbing – and brilliantly well-written.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

I play computer games.  I am particularly fond of the Resident Evil series, and Dragon Age.  Sometimes I find it’s really helpful to just switch off and blast zombies for a while.


Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Because I’m a writer with a day job, I have to be extremely disciplined in trying to fit everything in.  What tends to be sacrificed the most is sleep.  Twice a week I get up at 5:30am to take the early train into London, and I sit in Starbucks for an hour with the NetBook to write before going to the office.  I find I don’t get much done in the evenings after work – the thoughts of the day intrude too much.  So for me, writing first thing in the morning, before my brain gets cluttered with other stuff, and before the internal editor wakes up, is the best time for me to get any writing done.  In the evenings, I tend to work on promotional stuff, updating the blog and catching up on emails instead.

I don’t watch a lot of TV and I don’t do housework – though the day job allows me to afford a cleaner, so I’m not living in complete squalor.

When I’m going through the editing cycle with my publisher I tend to have to sacrifice social activities on weekends, since this is the only time I can generally sit down and crash through edits without distractions.


Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:




Buy links on MuseItUp:




Thank you Sara Jayne Townsend for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.





Poking around in family closets produces skeletons…

British-born, Toronto-based, actress Shara Summers turns amateur sleuth when her sister is stricken with a mysterious illness. Summoned back to England to be with her family during a time of crisis, Shara discovers doctors are at a loss as to what’s causing Astrid’s debilitating sickness.

After her aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs the death is deemed an accident. Shara suspects otherwise. Her investigation unearths shocking family secrets and a chilling realization that could have far-reaching and tragic consequences that affect not only her own future, but Astrid’s as well.

DEATH SCENE is coming 22 September from MuseItUp Publishing:



Opening of DEATH SCENE

Approaching the steps down to Bethesda Terrace, the two men were up ahead, the first running directly toward me, the man chasing him carrying a gun.  As I dodged out of the way of the first man, the one following brought up the gun, and fired.

I dropped the bag and clutched my chest.  Falling down the steps, rolling and bumping and finally landing on my back on the concrete at the foot of the steps; lying still, my eyes closed, my head tilted slightly to one side, my cheek resting against my forearm.  In spite of being protected by a woolly hat, my ears were cold.  Ice water seeped through my jeans and froze the seat of them to the concrete beneath me.  My buttocks were going numb.  Thick liquid pooled across my chest and dripped into the snow.  My back was aching from the fall down the steps.

“Cut!” the director hollered.

I opened my eyes and took a grateful gulp of air.  Camera Three loomed above me after closing in on my death scene.  Behind it, the cameraman, Rob, grinned and gave me the thumbs-up.  Standing, I smiled back at him and looked down impassively at the crimson stain that had spread across my chest.  The ‘squib’—what the special effects team called the blood bag—was fitted underneath my sweater.  The button was hidden in the palm of my hand, and pressing it as I fell had triggered a small explosion that released the blood effect.

The leather shoulder bag stuffed with screwed-up newspaper to bulk it out was still at the top of the steps, where it had been tossed before my fall.  Shivering and rubbing my arms I climbed back up the steps to retrieve it.  The padded jacket, two sweaters, scarf, and woollen gloves I wore did little to stave off the sub-zero temperature.

Behind the barriers, erected to block off the area of Central Park required for filming, a curious crowd had gathered.  There were murmurs as I passed by; people craning their necks trying to catch sight of someone famous.  As soon as they worked out I wasn’t someone famous, their eyes scanned past me quickly.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 3, 2014 at 4:03 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

My Interview with Cynthia Ogren



Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

Hi, Matthew. Thanks so much for interviewing me and showcasing Beautiful Monsters on your website. I’m delighted to be here. I’m originally a Midwest gal, but I’ve lived all over the country. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life.  The writing bug first hit me when I was ten years old. Throughout the busy years of my life, I wrote poetry, short stories, little essays, and the first paragraph of many novels. I’ve always had a book inside me, but I finally donned my writer’s hat and found the courage to entertain the dream in 2010 when I started writing Beautiful Monsters, which will be my first published novel.


What genre(s) do you write in?

Beautiful Monsters is a contemporary romance. However, the manuscript I’m currently working on will be a memoir of my near-death experience. I don’t plan to limit my writing to specific genres. A good story is a good story. I’m interested in reading many genres of literature, so in writing, I’ll let the story dictate the genre.


What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I’ve never cared for the typical romance novel format. Many of the storylines seem formulaic—the same plot with different settings, names, and occupations. Beautiful Monsters is different. It’s a candid look at modern romance with its inherent nuances and pitfalls. Because it’s set on the glass stage of Hollywood, the problems of the characters are exacerbated, and I was able to dig deep and fully explore certain societal problems.  Also, Beautiful Monsters has a couple of overarching themes, which are usually not present in the romance genre.


Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

Beautiful Monsters will be published by Vigilante Publishing Group, which has also expressed interest in my current manuscript.


What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

I have so much advice to give to aspiring authors! Beautiful Monsters is my first published book, so it has been a steep learning curve to traverse from idea to published book.

First, I would tell aspiring authors they need to read extensively in order to write well. We learn so much about writing from reading the masters of literature. Through reading, we find our own voice and become familiar with the proper structure, mechanics, and flow of a great story.

Secondly, while writing, they should be meticulous about looking up the grammar and punctuation they’re not familiar with. Google knows everything! In line with this, I recommend they invest in a good freelance editor to go over the manuscript before sending it off to publisher. Publishers often discard manuscripts with glaring grammatical errors.

Thirdly, I highly recommend beta readers. These are avid readers who will read a writer’s manuscript and offer constructive criticism to improve different aspects of the story.

Finally, I’d advise them not to give up on their dream to be published. The road from inception to publication is a long, arduous one, but with persistence, they can one day hold a copy of their published book in their hands. For a writer, nothing beats that experience!


What are your three favorite books?

Matthew, this is like asking a mother which is her favorite child.  I don’t know that I can choose among all the thousands of books I’ve read, but I’ll choose three that stood out because they taught me something valuable about writing. The first book that affected me profoundly was Wuthering Heights, which I read in my early teens. It taught me the importance of atmosphere in a novel—that by use of setting, syntax, and foreshadowing, a writer can set a mood. The second book that truly grabbed me was actually a short story by Flannery O’Conner. The title is “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” I read it in high school, and it scared me to death. This story made me realize that a great writer uses words and different literary devices to make the reader truly feel the story. The last book is a favorite of mine because of the exquisitely wrought characters. I’m a huge fan of character-driven stories, and Little Altars Everywhere, by Rebecca Wells, is one of the best I’ve ever read. From this wonderful novel, I learned how to write fully developed characters that resonate with readers.


Who is your favorite author and why?

Again, it’s hard to choose a favorite author, but I suppose Barbara Kingsolver tops my list. She’s one of those authors who writes such exquisite prose that the reader actually has a visceral reaction to her words. With degrees in biology, her themes usually encompass social justice, biodiversity, and Man’s interaction with his environment. The Poisonwood Bible is my favorite novel by Kingsolver. Published in 1998, it’s considered by many to be a modern classic.


What are you currently working on?

I’m currently doing research on a memoir of my near-death experience. I hope to have the reading and outline finished within a couple of weeks.


What makes good writing?

I suppose there are many answers to this question. Author skill, syntax, an intriguing plot, and other literary devices must come together to create the magic of a great story. But for me, the ability of the author to make the readers feel the story is the most important element. Truly gifted writers are able to use various literary devices to tap into the emotions of the readers, thus making them active participants in the storyline. This is the way to win the hearts, minds, and loyalty of the readers.


Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

Yes, Beautiful Monsters has two themes, a minor and a major theme. For the minor theme, I explore the karmic aspect of love. Do we truly have a soul mate out there in the world somewhere—someone only meant for us? Is love enough to sustain a relationship when the beloved is a damaged person? And do events conspire to drive lovers together? The major theme deals with a notion many people delude themselves with: that their lives would be perfect if only they had beauty, wealth, and fame, or any one of the aforementioned conditions. It’s common in public discourse to hear people wistfully allude to this. But I turn that notion on its head in Beautiful Monsters, and a Hollywood film set is the perfect setting to explore this concept.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

That’s a great question! I’m not sure that my sanity is always intact—especially when I’m editing. I tend to write intensely for many hours at a time, sometimes spending hours on a single paragraph if I’m not satisfied with it. The need to eat, answer phone calls, exercise, and walk the dog forces me to take incremental breaks during the day. But by 2 a.m., when I normally quit for the night, my eyes no longer focus. I must admit that when I’m in the midst of a manuscript, I’m obsessed. I eat, breathe, and sleep the story.


Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Being a writer requires sacrifices not only from the writer, himself, but from everyone around him/her. It takes an enormous input of time and labor to create an interesting, well-honed manuscript. So everything and everyone else suffers from our neglect. Personally, I moved away from home to have the quiet life necessary for writing.  I live and write at my writer’s retreat in San Antonio. My family visits a few times per year, and I visit them over the Christmas holidays. Other things that suffer for my writing include: reading, friendships, family time, free time, housework, and eating well. But I’m fortunate to have supportive, understanding family and friends, who believe, as I do, that writing is my calling in life.


Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

You can find me at the following social media links:





Websites:   and  (under construction)

Beautiful Monsters will be available both in print and eBook format. As of August 5, 2014, you can purchase it at the following venues:,,,, and


Thank you CYNTHIA OGREN for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments. 




Summary of Beautiful Monsters

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” ~Shakespeare

Hollywood: Movie Capital of the World, La La Land, Tinseltown, Hollyweird, Gomorrah, Land of Broken Dreams…Hell.

Makeup artist Riley Rinaldi has it all: beauty, wealth, talent, and undeniable sex appeal. But besieged by her past and the very attributes so many envy, she lives a lonely life devoid of the one commodity she cannot grasp—love.

When sexy heartthrob Keller Cross swaggers onto the set of Beautiful Monsters, Riley’s self-protective veneer cracks wide open. Her dormant passion ignites as the bad-boy actor thrusts her onto the volatile glass stage of Hollywood celebrity—and down into the depths of his sordid sexual deviancy.

Against a backdrop of studio politics, fame, jealousy, and unrequited love, their white-hot chemistry explodes onto the film set, incinerating their former lives and exposing the unseemly underbelly of La La Land.

But does love stand a chance among the beautiful monsters?



Excerpt from Beautiful Monsters

Prologue: Stephen’s Tongue

The whole damn mess had started with Stephen’s tongue.

“Damn him!” Riley whispered hoarsely, so as not to awaken him before she made her escape. In no way did she want to have a morning-after chat.

She stood tensely poised at the door of Stephen’s trailer, squinting out into the early morning light and ready to bolt when the coast was clear. A monster headache hammered in disjointed syncopation with her pounding heart and lurching stomach. Riley grimaced. If this song had a title, it would be “Bangover Blues.”

Unfortunately, a cigarette-smoking associate producer loitered outside the studio entrance adjacent to the actors’ trailers, along with Joe, a crusty security guard who had worked at Titan forever. Riley shifted impatiently.

She wasn’t about to take the walk of shame and risk running into anyone she knew. The studio was a cesspool of rumor and innuendo, and she had no desire for last night’s sins to become the gossip de jour or, worse, tomorrow’s tabloid headlines. After all, Stephen Lloyd was the star of Beautiful Monsters and a big name in Hollywood.

Stephen’s tongue. The image of the handsome British actor sensuously sweeping his tongue across glistening, razor-sharp fangs assaulted her brain again like a ubiquitous trailer for a bad B horror film. She groaned, remembering.

Curiously, Riley had been aroused last evening as she and other department heads had watched the dailies from yesterday’s shoot. Stephen had appeared so virile and sexy in those first few takes that it had sent her latent libido soaring into the stratosphere—and her common sense plunging straight to hell.

“Seriously, what was I thinking?” she grumbled, cringing now at the thought of last night’s drunken sexual romp.

What had possessed her to impetuously jump into bed with him? He was nothing like the sexy vampire he portrayed onscreen. He wasn’t even her type! And she wasn’t the type for meaningless hook-ups. No, Stephen was just one more black mark on her laundry list of doomed romantic relationships.

“Riley, come back to bed!” Stephen’s groggy British voice wafted from the bedroom, sending a jolt of adrenalin through Riley, spurring her to action. She burst out of the trailer like a filly on the whip at Churchill Downs.

With a heart mired in regret, Riley Rinaldi fled the den of iniquity, clothed in yesterday’s apparel and her shame. Head down, praying for invisibility, she darted toward the studio’s side entrance, which, thankfully, had been vacated by the associate producer. She would just have to take her chances with the security guard’s discretion.

The premonition hit her like a cold, hard slap, stopping her abruptly at the studio door. Somehow, her life had indefinably changed. Like the gods had conferred and planets had aligned to serve her one hell of a cosmic cocktail. Like nothing would ever be the same. Like hell was about to break loose…or freeze over.

And it had been set in motion by…Stephen’s tongue.

Opening the steel door, Joe gave her a crisp, expressionless nod. “Good morning, Ms. Rinaldi.” The soul of discretion.

“Morning, Joe,” Riley muttered, banishing the baleful feeling as she rushed headlong into the teeming chaos of Titan Studios.


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Posted by Matthew Peters - August 5, 2014 at 6:33 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

My Interview with Chrystal Anne

Please welcome CHRYSTAL ANNE, author of HELL’S GATE: AWAKENING

Chrystal Anne Profile Image 1

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. At 9 months old, my mother’s family moved from there to Texas and I’ve been here all my life. I am a woman that has come from nothing, and lost everything. I have literally built my life to what it is now from hard work, and determination. By mostly learning how to live, and accept what I can’t change. Writing and reading was a release for me. It was a way to (and still sometimes is) escape reality. I’m even working on an autobiography that will take me back to everything, and everyone. I will be traveling to New York in October for New York Comicon, but I will also be seeing and reconnecting with family I haven’t seen in years. I hope to have my second book completely finished for grand release at NYCC. There is so much of my past that remains a mystery, so in a way, I’m solving a mystery and filling in the gaps of childhood. I look forward to going home again. I hope to one day be able to not only support myself through what I love, but also help others that suffered as I did. I am a firm believer in helping out abused women and children. Especially children. It is one thing I hope to change, that a child may always have the right to be a child for as long as they can.


What genre(s) do you write in?

Horror, Thriller, new weird, Fantasy and Sci-Fi.


What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

No idea. I’m just me and I write as I have always written. I suppose I have a knack for creating characters that I know in and out, and how they would behave or what they do. I write out a character’s background, where they come from and who they are. I love psychology, studied it for years and I like to use that for how a character would behave in every situation. I love making character driven stories.


Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I am a local small publisher based out of Dallas, TX. Believe it or not, I have actually never sent any of my work to a publisher. Not that I don’t want to, I just never have thought about it.


There are elements of Japanese mythology in Hell’s Gate. Can you set up some of the basic mythological conflict without giving away too much of the story?

As a child, the main character Celeste is adopted out of Tokyo. Her adoptive parents are nurturing, and kind; everything a child would want. But she quickly realized that she was different than other children. After pointing out spirits, or seeing them in her day-to-day life, kids teased her and her parents scolded her. She goes to therapy, and accepts that she only hallucinated as a child. Until her mother passes away at 14. She always keeps her dark passenger; always someone dear to her passes away or gets hurt. Murders are happening at an alarming rate, always days or hours from where she has just been; all matching her description. Things seem to go well for a while after she meets a great guy named John and gets engaged. She has a loving father, a great job, and a gifted student named Lain she wants to save from a broken home. Everything is in order, until she nears her 24th birthday. John is acting strange, Lain disappears, and the world she accepted as false may have a ring of truth. The past whispers through the cracks, and she is drawn to her ultimate destiny. But is that destiny, what she believes? It is said, that a red string of fate connects us to those we are destined to meet. It may bend or tangle, but never break. Or can it?


How did you become interested in Japanese culture and mythology?

My stepfather was Chinese and I grew up on Chinese legends and mythology. He would bring home comics and manga and I would read through them. I also read Japanese tales and mythology as a kid. I was interested in the culture, before learning what anime was.


There’s been talk of a pilot video for Hell’s Gate. Can you tell us a little more about that, and how you also serve as the production manager for Hell’s Gate?

I can’t give too much on that right now, but basically we are looking into creating a movie based off of the Hell’s Gate Trilogy. Everything will be released once I have the okay to do it.

Chrystal Anne Banner

Tell us a little more about the series of videos you do on Youtube.

I do a show over Japanese deities and legends, and cover conventions I go to. I love to be a total goof and create short skits or be informatively funny. I’m looking to create more fleshed out shows, and add more content to them. I also hope to have my Japan trip up and give everyone a bit of a tour as to what I experienced while over there this April.


When can we expect the second book in the Hell’s Gate Trilogy?

It is slated for release around the holiday season of 2014. No solid date yet.


Are there any appearances or upcoming events that you would like us to know about?

I will be appearing locally at Lucky Dog books in Lochwood in Dallas on Sunday, July 13th from 2-4 p.m. I will have copies, and chances to win the first, and second book. I will also have prints from the live-action book trailer as well as modeling prints for sale, and give everyone the option to pre-order the second book, the art book (slated to release next year) and my collection of short stories.  


Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

There is; however, I wish the reader to find these. I had my catharsis, I hope the readers find their own. And after all, we interpret what we wish to from every story. That is the charm of imagination.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

Sanity is a made up word people use to identify with societal norms. I just love what I do, completely and totally. It’s actually what has kept me sane all these years.


What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

The major obstacles, I would say, is just what life has thrown at me. It is hard to find time to write and it can be greatly frustrating. The other is learning how to properly market and promote yourself.  But the greatest obstacle I have found is my own mind and personal battles and struggles in life. I can be more than a little harsh when critiquing myself, and I always prepare for the worst when a reviewer looks at my writing. It takes a thick skin to really be able to hear what a person is telling you, and another to actually listen.


What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Don’t stop writing. Write every day, even if you only have ten minutes. Keep reading, and be open to positive critique. Staying defensive never helps you grow and learn. And mostly, be passionate about what you write. The rest will flow naturally.


What question didn’t I ask that you wish I had?

My passion for guns! Haha, kidding. But seriously, love gun ranges.


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Twitter: @Chrystal_Anne_

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Thank you CHRYSTAL ANNE for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments. 



Inspired from Japanese mythos, and Western Folklore, comes a new legend. Adopted from Tokyo, Celeste moves to the states with her new family. The truth of her past is scraping against the surface, and once it breaks free, the world may never be the same. The story goes, that the Red String of Fate chooses those we are destined to meet; it can stretch, or tangle, but it may never break. Or can it? If you could change your fate, would you?



“The creature’s short bob of hair grew to its now gargoyle feet as razor sharp talons extended from its hands. A series of eager clicks and pops reverberated from its maw and into her mind. Celeste wanted to push it from her head, but like a mollusk cleaning the ocean floor, its phantom limbs slowly inched its way across. Molten ooze seeped from its back, the black snaking around its legs and to the ground. From the pools of ink formed two reptilian wings that congealed, then solidified upon the thing’s back.

A beastly sound bayed from the creature, so loud it numbed all reasoning. Celeste fell to her knees, unable to stand against its advances and joined in the scream.”


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Posted by Matthew Peters - July 3, 2014 at 6:50 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , ,

My Interview with Anelis Scirco

Please welcome ANELIS SCIRCO, author of LUMI-NATION


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

Hello, I’m Anelis and the author of the “Lumi-Nation” project. I’m a graduate of the Law School and I live in Warsaw. I love writing about the individuals who make a difference and change the course of history. My passion is all about envisaging things. Challenges inspire me.


What genre(s) do you write in? 

I write in the science fiction and fantasy genres.


What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I’m devoted to writing about things that are our close future, almost tangible.


Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I’m self-published. I’d like to work with a traditional publisher, but the path of self-publishing challenged me and propelled me to a new level of personal growth. Now, I know that every piece of our path is a separate creation to take care of.


How many revisions do you make to something before it sees the light of day? 

Lots of revisions. With “Lumi-Nation,” I cooperated with two people with very creative minds who made me work very hard before everything seemed to fit. Yes, I shed many tears.


Who or what inspires you to write? 

Things come out of the blue. The wind of imagination carries them.


Do you have a set of writing goals that you try to accomplish each day?

When I work on the project I try to write every day, but it’s more the glow than the number of words.


Do you outline your stories or are you a non-outline person?

I’m a non-outline person. I go with the flow.


What is one thing about you that you’d like your readers to know?

I was a child when I knew that writing was my destiny.


What are your three favorite books? 

I have many favorite books. Herman Hesse’s “Demian”, Stanislav Lem’s “Solaris”, Ursula K. LeGuin “Earthsea”…


Who is your favorite author and why?

Again, I have many favorite authors. I love Haruki Murakami; his style and metaphors astonish and enchant me.


What are you currently working on?

It’s another sci-fi novel about AI and human-robots relations.


If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

I’d like to talk to the AI from the future.


Who are you currently reading?

A Polish sci-fi writer: Jacek Dukaj.


What makes good writing?

Good skills and a potent imagination.


Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

Yes, definitely. It’s a new approach to AI. We wanted to create a fresh paradigm based on a non-conflict idea; a separate consciousness and intelligence that might inspire humans and lead them to some new levels of understanding and perception.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

Writing keeps me sane. 😉


If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

Someone who studies at Hogwarts. That might be an adventure!


Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

Carl Gustav Jung’s psychology of depth changed my life. I learned a lot about my psyche from him.


Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Time, money, energy, but these one are not sacrifices. They are investments, really!


What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Turning my own “impossibles” into “possibles”.


What do you like best/least about writing?

I love everything about writing, really. For me, it’s an infinite ocean I swim across at ease and with joy.


What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

I know it seems to be a cliché. But, really, never give up.


What is one question you wish I asked, but didn’t?

Is there any character in “Lumi-Nation” who really exists or existed? Yes. My doggy “Viento” is absolutely real. Two months after I finished writing “Lumi-Nation,” he passed away.


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Thank you ANELIS SCIRCO for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.



In the future biolight is everything. It defines the society, its warm glow suffuses the Centre and the happy people living there, people who try not to think about mysterious Grey Zone. Kaya is a young but talented Net creator, one of the elite few, who admin, coordinate and model the virtual system of the city from the silver Orb, a building hovering in the air like a spaceship.
One day she comes across a mysterious journal written by a now-forgotten creator. Soon Net Security Agents are after her, a brooding man stalks her and all around the Net and biolight show signs of impeding catastrophe. Ultimately this cascade of events leads to.. something new. A secret that might change the City forever.



“The initial perception through the mind of a Neton was like being embraced by the winged Morpheus, who – freed from shackles of gravity – let the ground go and travelled with the creator across the space above, which slowly transformed into the dominium of water, with a multitude of solar rays punching their way through the surface. This is what it felt like according to many creators. As the merging process progressed new blinding flashes appeared to eventually flood the creator’s perception, which then underwent the creofluidization process to acquire a new quality: it ceased to exist for the world cut into solid objects and woke up to become one with pressing liquid fluctuation, which by then would change into nebular nets and information fields weaved from a full range of colours, unquenchable, unsaturated pulses and fluorescence so dynamic that the Net’s landscape was constantly changing, forever creating mosaics of new connections, whole chains of glittering motes as if they were miniature suns doggedly rolled over the virtual horizon by Egyptian scarabs. Sometimes smaller or bigger torrents would form, a kind of inner tunnels where the creator’s perception could drift freely onto deeper levels of the bottomless Net. Information flows left multicoloured streaks, spreading spots and tumultuous halos that went past one another like nebulas filled not with gases or cosmic dust but with pure data; dynamic quantum fields absorbed by Netons whose each agitated infoelement resonated with them. Unique colour patterns carried encoded meanings that Netons read as manifestations of order or chaos. Specific colour plasmas attracted their perception – each Neton had their own, individual preferences. Sometimes they would be drawn by amaranth information knots or fluctuating aquamarine chains, others would rather drift on fuchsia and violet formations. In the Net the City was unlike a creation of metal, stone and plastic, but rather a dynamic composition of multicoloured, quantum fjords flooded by constantly coming waves of information. The creation process might seem like a strange dream or hallucination, but in reality it was a gigantic effort for the human mind to sneak a peek into the depths of information space.”

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 18, 2014 at 7:55 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

My Interview with Sonnet O’Dell


O'Dell_Author Image

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting

I never know where to begin. My name is Sonnet O’Dell. This year I turn the big 3 0. I’ve had my stories published for about the last five years. I’m currently promoting two books – one scheduled for release in August – actually on my birthday and the second to follow in September. They are both romances. Whispers in a Dead Man’s Ear and Intimate Invasions.


What genre(s) do you write in?

I tend to write a lot of paranormal fiction with elements of romance and/or mystery. I’ve tried my hand at writing Young Adult (and find I’m not that good at it) and have recently tried contemporary romance and even science fiction.


Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I don’t have an agent but I am currently published through a small but ever growing publisher named Eternal Press which started in Australia, then moved to Canada and now finds its home in California as a subsidiary of Damnation Books. It’s a close knit team that I enjoy working with.


How many revisions do you make to something before it sees the light of day?

I revise as I’m going along so it’s hard to say. I tend to write my lengthy pieces out in notebooks. When I type it up, additions get made. When I read back more changes. On and on till I complete the story. After than I read through for continuity, typos and spellings – then I usually submit to my publisher. I don’t keep multiple versions marked draft 1 or draft 2.


Do you have a set of writing goals that you try to accomplish each day?

They say you should write for two hours a day and I do try to but when you have family and a day job, finding time to squeeze it into the schedule is tough. I find myself scribbling down things between chores, before having to drive to work and during my breaks. Every little spare minute I usually have a pen in my hand.


Do you outline your stories or are you a non-outline person?

I do a very basic outline. It ends up being more of a list of what things I want to happen and when. How they come together and the journey between events is never planned and sometimes what I’m writing can take me places I never expected to go when I started out.


What are your three favorite books?

The Kingdom Under the Sea and Other Tales. A beautiful book of fables that I’ve loved since I was a child. The Fairy Rebel by Lynne Reid Banks – again a book from my childhood. I suppose the third should be The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I find the work of the Bard a constant source of inspiration.


What are you currently working on? 

I always have several projects on the go and I flit between them. When one dries up, I switch to another and then again until I’ve gone in a circle. Currently I’m writing the next book in my main series, a trilogy, a couple of romance, I am attempting a Young Adult title again (though I know I shouldn’t) and there a few other dribs and drabbles that might become something.


What are you currently reading?

My TBR pile is about a mile long. I buy books constantly because I love books, but reading through them is a slow process now that I’m writing so much. I have a kindle too and it’s stuffed full. I think the book on the top of the pile is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

No writer is one hundred percent sane, unless they are writing a text book – but I think they are the craziest of us all. My head on a daily basis is crammed full of all these people, shouting at me, trying to tell me their stories. Only half of them ever make it to paper.


Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

The only sacrifices I really have to make in my books is in the language. I don’t mean cussing, they let me keep that in. I’m from the UK and all our books are edited using the Chicago Manual. Having to drop U’s from words – it’s a little irksome because the way I spell things has been ingrained in me since I was a child.


What do you like best/least about writing?

What I like best is telling my stories. I’ve always enjoyed creating characters and setting them out in situations. It feels better to share them than to keep them all to myself. What I like least about writing is the aftermath, the critics. It’s a sad truth that it is far easier to write what was bad about someone’s work then what was good about it. The internet provides such anonymity that people tend to be harsher.


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Twitter: @SonnetODell







Doctor Kale Swanson is the only vampire psychiatrist in a small town. Usually he spends his nights listening to the undead’s problems but recently branched out to human clients. Pamela is a woman who is cagey about her past and Kale finds himself drawn to her despite a strict belief in a platonic doctor/patient relationship. When two men burst into his office looking for her, Kale throws himself into protecting and claiming Pamela as his own doing the one thing he swore never to – get involved.



Kale crept alone the outside of the building to the next window. This one was opposite her bed and open to the night air. He carefully pushed it all the way up starting to call out to her but choked when with her back to him she unzipped the dress letting it fall to the floor. Kale couldn’t stop himself admiring the sensual curve of her back, the way her lace panties hugged her firm ass or how her long legs looked like they would be perfect wrapped around him.

Pamela pulled the band from her hair letting her curls bounce down around her shoulder blades. When she reached for the clasp of her bra, he knew he had to stop her, so he coughed loudly. She shrieked, grabbing the comforter off the bed to wrap it around herself as she turned to see who had made the sound. She blinked twice looking at him sitting there outside her window.

“Doctor Swanson?”

“Hello Pamela. May I come in?” Her cheeks flamed pink.

“I guess so.”

“A little more than that is required,” he said smiling, trying to put her at ease. Her shoulders relaxed.

“Of course. Please come in Doctor Swanson.” Kale climbed in through the open window and sat against the inside sill.

“As we’re not at my office I think you can call me Kale.”

Pamela smiled softly clutching the comforter and tucking her hair behind one ear. She took a couple of steps closer.

“What brings you to my window, Kale?”

Kale didn’t respond immediately, he was lost in her body language. Pamela was pleased, even excited to see him. She wasn’t clutching the comforter as tightly as she had been, so she kept revealing more and more of her tantalizing skin. Her head was tilted at an angle that said she was shy but hopeful. Had she been talking about him yesterday? He was almost sure she had. That meant their exchanges had been verging on flirting for both of them. Also her underwear had been way too nice for every day wear, it was the kind you wore when you were hoping someone was going to see it. She too had considered the possibilities of being alone with him in his office.






Erik is a Tigarian. His people came to the blue planet five generations before his birth and took over. The native inhabitants are forced to live wild in the forests and Tigarian men hunt them to sell into slavery. Asia is a wild woman. When Erik meets her, he is injured and abandoned by his comrades. She cares for him and the two begin to fall in love with Erik promising to help her find her siblings and free them. When he is rescued, Asia is captured and Erik must buy her in order to continue their promise. Now Erik must get her and her siblings out of the citadel and to safety before it could be the end of all of them.



Erik walked towards the mouth of the cave only to have Kobi growl at him. With bloodstained teeth he looked even more ferocious. Erik stiffened his spine and kept walking. The growl rumbled from its throat again.

“Well if you’re so worried about where I’m going, why don’t you come along?” He stared the beast down, its head tilted as if considering then he got up padding out beside Erik as he took the path looking for Asia. He had a strange and fierce desire to be sure she was alright.

Soon Kobi was trotting ahead of him, leading him, his tail sticking out from behind a crag of rock while he waited for Erik to catch up. Kobi stood on a path that was easily missed, it twisted around two larger boulders that created an optical illusion of a dead end. It was only about big enough for one person at a time, so he followed behind Kobi who stopped every so often as if accommodating for Erik’s leg.

The path opened out into a grotto, hidden on all sides by dense mountain rock. There were fruit trees, two of them and a pair of thick leafy bushes about chest height. A small patch of grass gave way to slate colored rock that ran to the lip of a pool in which Asia stood. She had her back to him and she was naked. She waded out, the water lapping at her knees to a tower of rock that the water from a natural spring cascaded down. Her wet clothes lay out to dry on top of one of the bushes, while the carcass of a wild pig dangled off the ground strung from a tree branch. Erik could see the marks from Kobi’s teeth and claws in its hide.

Erik took a step closer to see better. Asia was tanned all over. She had to just lay in the sun after bathing to dry. Her buttocks were tight and shapely, her legs looked longer now and her wet dark hair cascaded down her back. She stepped under the spray, water running down her smooth perfect skin, adorning her like some goddesses tears.


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Posted by Matthew Peters - May 26, 2014 at 7:01 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

My Interview with Christopher Mannino



Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I am fortunate enough to have achieved my dream profession.  I teach high school theatre at a school with a large and wonderful theatre program.  During the summers, and my breaks, I write.  Theatre and writing have been my two greatest passions for most of my life.  I was a small child in rural Massachusetts, and there developed an overactive imagination, perhaps due to a lack of “real” friends.  I found different friends in books and fiction.  I later studied history, mythology, and theatre in college.  When I finished my graduate degree, I spent a semester abroad at Oxford University in England.  Every week for four months I traveled somewhere I’d never been, climbing castles in Wales, or visiting cathedrals across England and mainland Europe.  My dreams took new form, and the world of my stories crept closer to the surface.  Now, I bring my imagination to life both on stage and in my books.

The idea for School of Deaths emerged on a trip to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.  I crept to the cliff face of Barras Nose, a stony peninsula jutting into the North Sea and overlooking the ruins of Tintagel, which some believe to be the birthplace of King Arthur.  It was dawn, there were no other people in sight.  I struggled against the wind, fighting to keep my balance so I didn’t crash into the ocean.  I imagined being buffeted by winds, alone, and what that would do to a character.  I developed Suzie Sarnio, my protagonist, who is alone in a world of men, buffeted by sexism.

School of Deaths explores issues of overcoming adversity, while incorporating elements of magic and fantasy.  Suzie is the first female Death, and the only girl training to become a Reaper.  This blend of unusual circumstances makes for an original and exciting story.


What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

One thing that sets me apart is that I actually work with teenagers every day.  I have more contact with teens than I do with adults.  Working with kids, especially in a creative field such as theatre, where we explore imagination and new ideas, allows me to connect more personally with my target audience.


Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

School of Deaths will be released by Muse it Up publishing.


How many revisions do you make to something before it sees the light of day?

A zillion.  Realistically, once a first draft is finished I let it “sit” without looking at it for about a month.  Then I reread the entire draft before writing a second draft.  I don’t show my work to any readers, not even my fiancée, until after the third draft.  Once I feel a work is ready I let a few beta readers look at it before submitting it.


Who or what inspires you to write?

I draw inspiration from almost everything.  My travels, especially my time in England, directly influenced my current work, however everything from a sunny day to a moving song has the power to draw out my creativity.  Earlier in my life, I went through a “dry spell”.  I read the self-help book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, which helped me realize that creativity can be found within.  I am especially inspired recently by a trend in the public schools where fewer and fewer kids are reading for pleasure.  I hope to combat that, and encourage the growth of active imaginations and wonder through books.


Do you outline your stories or are you a non-outline person?

I am in between these two extremes.  I start with an idea.  I have an entire notebook filled with ideas and scenarios for about 20 novels in multiple genres.  Just last week I came up with a new idea for a novel, yet at the moment have other works in progress so I added the idea to my notebook and set it aside for now.  Once it’s time to develop an idea, I start by sketching out on pencil and paper exactly where I want my book to go.  I then use a word document to create a rough outline of about three pages or so.  Once that amount of planning is done, I free write, and let the novel take its own course, adjusting my plan as I go, and letting the characters develop in their own ways.


What are your three favorite books?

When I was in seventh grade, I remember a writing assignment in my English class.  It was one of the only times I actually enjoyed English.  The assignment was to read three books, then pick one and write a short story in the style of that author.  This was my first real experience with creative writing, and perhaps one of the roots of my time as an author.

The rest of the class picked three exceptionally easy novels.  There were few guidelines on what novels we could choose, so everyone chose the three easiest books they could think of.  I recall at least four people listing The Cat in the Hat as one of their three.

My “three” books for the assignment were The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien;  The Mabinogion Tetralogy (a four-book re-telling of the classic Welsh myth cycle The Mabinogion) by Evangeline Walton; and The Hollowing by Robert Holdstock (the only choice which was a single read- though technically part of the Mythago Wood series).  At the end of the assignment, I chose to write a short story mimicking Tolkien.  My story was about the Entwives, and where they went after leaving Fangorn.  Later, in college, I was given a similar assignment, and this time wrote a story based on Lady Charlotte Guest’s translation of the Mabinogion.  My teacher told me I should publish my story, which I never did, but it was the first time someone recommended publication.

To this day, Lord of the Rings remains one of my all-time favorite books, and the Mabinogion remains one of my favorite myth cycles.  To add a third favorite book, I’d probably say Ken Follett’s historical fiction novel The Pillars of the Earth or the Harry Potter books, which I absolutely loved.


What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a sequel to School of Deaths called Sword of Deaths.  Although School of Deaths was published as a standalone, I had always intended to make it a series.  I do also intend to branch into other genres.  I have started an adult science-fiction novel, as well as a historical fiction novel set during the American Revolutionary War.


If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Hayao Miyazaki.  Miyazaki is one of the greatest storytellers of our time.  His films, anime, and stories inspire imaginations across the world.  I admire the way Miyazaki can take ideas and transform them into art, often one hand-illustrated cel at a time.  Other animators I admire such as Pixar’s John Lasseter or Avatar: the Last Airbender’s Michael DiMartino have claimed Miyazaki as their biggest influence.  I have never seen a Miyazaki movie that I did not love, or think was completely original.  I would love to talk about storytelling with Miyazaki.


If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

Arthur Dent (from Douglas Adams’ classic series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).  I also wonder what it’d be like to go exploring the galaxy (as Dent) with the Doctor (from Dr Who) as a guide.


What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

As I mentioned, I am a full time theatre teacher.  I spend more hours at my school than any other teacher, as I am often working on productions, and my school (one of the largest drama programs in the region) puts on five productions a year, as well as four improvisation shows.  My biggest obstacle is time.  My content editor for School of Deaths contacted me shortly before our huge musical last fall, and I had to explain that I could not get the edits done until after the show.  Fortunately, she had performed in theatre herself when she was in high school.

I try to make some time every week to write.  Now that my novel is coming out, the time involved has become even greater, since I now market as well.  Most of my drafting and creative writing takes place during the summers.  However, I cannot complain about time, since I am involved with the two jobs I enjoy the most: writing and teaching.


What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

It comes down to patience and perseverance.  Never give up, no matter how frustrating the process becomes.  A writer I know once told me “What do you call a writer who never gives up?  Answer: Published.”


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Thank you CHRISTOPHER MANNINO for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.




Can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death?

Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe.  Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter.  The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target.  Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail.

Caught in the middle of a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths, Suzie must uncover the reason she’s been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.



Chapter One

The Girl Who Looked Like Death


She wanted to scream but no sound came. She wanted to run, but her legs wouldn’t move. The hooded man grinned.

Suzie’s heart pounded as she opened her eyes. Laughter echoed in the back of her head. The terrible laughter she heard every night. She wiped the sweat from her face, pushing aside the sheets. Sunlight spilled into her room from between frilly curtains. Mom would be knocking on the door to wake her soon.

She turned to one side as the dream started to fade. Every night the same nightmare. Every night she heard the laughter. The hooded man with a scythe. The feeling of complete terror.

What did it mean?

Above her clock radio, a worn teddy bear stared at her with its single eye. She pulled the bear to her chest and clutched it with her bony fingers.

Suzie Sarnio. The hooded man had written her name down. He always wrote it right before the laughter began. The man looked like Death. But why would Death have a stammer?

“Suzie,” said Mom, knocking on the door. “Come on, you’ll be late for school.”

“I’m coming.”

Suzie changed, staring at the mirror in her pink-wallpapered room. Each rib stuck out from her chest; she counted all twenty-four. The skin on her face stretched tightly over her skeletal face, and dark patches surrounded each of her gray eyes. As much as she tried to comb it, her long black hair tangled into stringy knots. Her arms hung from her shoulders like twigs, and her legs looked too weak to hold her up. In the past few months, she had lost nearly half of her weight. She glanced at an old picture, taken last year, on the first day of seventh grade. A chubby, pigtailed girl with freckles smiled back at her from the photo. Her braces gleamed in the sun, only a month before their removal. Suzie sighed. She opened the door, looking for a moment at her room. She didn’t want to start another year of school. Slowly, she turned around.

“Hey, squirt, watch out,” said Joe.

“Sorry.” Joe was a pest and a bully, but he was her big brother, and Suzie supposed she loved him.

“Get your skinny butt out of the way already. We’ve got a run before school.”

“Today’s the first day—”

“After last year, coach says we have to practice early.”

Suzie stepped aside, watching the bulky frame of her brother lumber downstairs.

“Later.” He winked at Suzie. “Have fun at school.” He ran out the front door, slamming it behind him, while Suzie went to the kitchen and sat down.

“I’ve made you a special breakfast,” said her mother, carrying a plate and a glass of orange juice.

“Let me guess, something big.”

“I’ve made three eggs, two slices of sausage, four pieces of toast, two slices of bacon, a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, and a doughnut.”

“Mom, I keep telling you, I eat as much as I can.”

“You’re skin and bones, literally. Your father and I are worried sick. You have another appointment with Dr. Fox after school today. Did you take your pills this morning?”

“No, Mom, but I will.”

Suzie gave up arguing. Her parents, friends, and doctors were wrong. She didn’t want to lose weight. Everyone kept talking about anorexia, about eating disorders. The strange thing was Suzie ate more than she ever had before. She ate twice as much as any of her friends, hardly exercised, and certainly never—what was the word the doctor had used—oh right, purged. Gross. No, the way Suzie ate, she figured she should be fat. Only she wasn’t.

Suzie managed to eat most of the massive breakfast. Her stomach ached, but maybe a little would stay this time. She wiped her mouth, rubbing her fingers across the bones of her face. Doubtful.

“Are you ready for school?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Go brush your teeth, and I’ll be in the car. Don’t forget, we’re picking you up at one for your appointment with Dr. Fox.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Today’s your first day of eighth grade. Isn’t that exciting?”

Suzie didn’t answer. What would her friends say? She’d spent the summer avoiding them, dropping out of camp and swim club. She was embarrassed. She honestly didn’t want to lose weight, and didn’t have an eating disorder, but she appeared skeletal.

She brushed her teeth in silence, dragging her feet. She put on her backpack and got in the car.

“Honey, you’re nervous, but you’ll be fine. Tell people you’ve been sick, and—”

“I’m not sick, Mom. If I was sick, the doctors would cure me. If I had an eating problem, they’d work with me. I eat more than ever, and I hardly exercise anymore. This doesn’t make any sense.” Suzie wiped a tear from her eye.

“Are you sure this isn’t because of Bumper?”

Bumper. The family beagle for ten years. He had died three months ago, about the time Suzie had started losing weight. Mom believed the two were connected. Dr. Fox agreed. Sure, Suzie missed Bumper, but that wasn’t the problem.

“No, Mom, I was sad for a little while, but I never changed what I eat. If anything, I eat more now.”

“Susan, you’ll be all right. I promise. Your father and I will continue to get the finest doctors, until we figure out what’s wrong with you. Remember what Dr. Fox said last time? For now, the best thing is to go to school and be around other kids.”

She sighed. Mom still didn’t understand, and if Mom and Dad didn’t relate, her classmates would be even worse. They pulled up in front of school, and she gave her mom a quick peck on the cheek.

“Don’t forget. One o’clock.” Mom smiled, trying to hide the strain in her eyes.

“Okay, Mom.”

“Suzie, my gawd, you look like death.”

Crystal hadn’t changed. The smiling redhead with large blue glasses and the ever-present smell of cherry bubblegum was her best friend. She was grateful Crystal had spent the summer away. “Did you have a nice summer? How was Colorado?”

“My summer was great. Colorado’s cold. Geesh, what happened to you, Suzie?”

“I’ve been sick,” said Suzie. Not a complete lie, obviously something was wrong with her, but she didn’t know what.

“Sick?” Her voice lowered to a whisper. “You look like you’re dying.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Crystaaal. Suzieee,” shouted a voice from across the parking lot.

“Oh gawd, it’s Monica,” said Crystal. “Let’s go inside quick.”

Suzie and her friend started to walk away, but the tall, lanky girl with small eyes caught up to them. Monica. She wasn’t too bad, if you ignored her whiny voice and her inane stories.

“Hiii guys,” said Monica. “I missed youuu this summer. Did you lose weight? The funniest thing happened the other day…”

Suzie realized the worst of the day was over. She got teasing looks from the kids and concerned frowns from the teachers, but like Monica, most people were too wrapped up in their own little world to pay any attention to her. Even Crystal eventually stopped asking questions.

“Tell me again, do you like the way you look?”

“I’m sorry, what?” she asked.

Suzie snapped to attention. The day had blurred by, and she was sitting in Dr. Fox’s office, wearing a hospital gown.

“Suzie, I asked if you like the way you look?”

Suzie was cold and annoyed. The office smelled of bleach, and the fluorescent light overhead hummed like a dying fly. Dr. Fox glanced up from her notes and smiled a dry, lifeless smile she probably practiced in front of a mirror.

“No, Doctor.” She repeated the same answers she had given last time, and the time before. “I despise the way I look. I’m a damned skeleton. You can see every bone. I love to eat, I don’t purge, I hardly exercise, and I actually feel fine.”

“Yes, that’s the strangest part,” interrupted Dr. Fox. “Every test seems to indicate that you’re at the peak of health. No lanugo, no joint issues, no skin problems, and your stomach and the rest of you are actually functioning fine. I’ve almost completely ruled out anorexia, but your weight is still drastically low. It’s like your calories are vanishing into some other dimension.” She laughed. “My husband wishes that would happen with me.”

“May I get dressed now?”

“Susan, I will get to the bottom of this. I have called a specialist in from the West Coast, from San Francisco. He might be able to shed some light on this condition. Your mother and I set up the appointment for next Thursday.”

“May I please get dressed now?”

“Yes, yes. I’m sorry I can’t do anything else for you.” Dr Fox sighed.

None of them knows what’s wrongTo them I’m just another puzzle to solve. She dressed and gave Mom a smirk, turning up her lips on one side to show she was unhappy. Mom smiled and shrugged.

“We’ll figure out what’s wrong, honey,” Mom said. They lied; no one knew.


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Posted by Matthew Peters - May 2, 2014 at 7:06 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

My Interview with Nicole Maddalo Dixon


my picture

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I am a new author currently promoting my first traditionally published book, Bandita Bonita: Romancing Billy the Kid. In addition, I am working on Book II and have completed about 80,000 words.


What genre(s) do you write in?

My book falls under Historical Fiction, though the historical facts are quite accurate.


What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I think most authors who write historical fiction have a tendency to rely more on the fictional aspect in order to create the story they want to tell.  But I had a certain objective when I chose to write this novel, and it excluded the use of simple fiction. I used fiction as a means of attempting to create a 3-D character of William H. Bonney  to help perpetuate the truth about him. I like to refer to my book as a “Bio-Novel” (a biographical account of a historical figure told in the format of a novel). I had a responsibility to Billy and others who lived the life of the story I wanted to tell, and so I bent fiction to meet fact, rather than the other way around. The main focus is on Billy with my female protagonist assuming the challenge of describing/discussing him to the audience, making an effort to explain not only what happened and how Billy’s legend grew, but also Billy’s personality, which is based on historical record and witness accounts. It was not intended to be a simple novel about Billy, but rather a key historical account told in a way that will hopefully achieve mass appeal in order to help bring out the truth of who he was and what he represented to a broader demographic. He’s popular enough, he doesn’t need my help, but I wanted to see if I could expand that popularity.


Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I do have a publisher: Sunstone Press out of Santa Fe, NM


How many revisions do you make to something before it sees the light of day?

I revise as I write, and then when the product is finished, it goes through 2 more true edits. Afterwards, my editor goes through it and gives it back for me to go through 2 more times. So, in total, I guess it’s fair to say I give it 4 edits, excluding my editor’s own revisions.


Who or what inspires you to write?

I have wanted to write since I was six years old, and I have been writing since that age. I can’t explain what inspires me to write except to say that it is something very innate. I think I can say fairly, though, that it’s a fun escape and I enjoy creating new worlds. I’m probably very much like a musician who has to shut himself (or herself) away and play his heart out.


Do you have a set of writing goals that you try to accomplish each day?

No, I do not have a set of writing goals—I never give myself deadlines or any such thing. I write when the mood strikes me; I will never even think of touching my keyboard to write my work if I am not in that zone. If what you write is something you expect others to want to read, then it means giving it your best—you owe it to them and you certainly owe it to your work. That excludes, however, when my editor needs my work back within a certain time frame; then I have no choice but to have a goal.


Do you outline your stories or are you a non-outline person?

Creativity should have no boundaries, and writing is no different, therefore I am a non-outline person, at least so far.

That said, writing Bandita was easy since I am so familiar with Billy’s life. Before I decided to sit down and write my story I went over it again and again in my mind for three years, so I already had a great idea as to what happens first, second, and third. I did, however, need to check my facts, which I did in earnest, and that included making sure certain events happened before others. In that respect there were key points I needed to follow.


What is one thing about you that you’d like your readers to know?

That I write with great emotion. One of the things I dislike about reading some books is picking up on the flatness of the words (dialogue/narration). When I write, it comes from my soul–it comes from my heart, so what you are reading was well thought out and very meaningful. Never do I throw verbiage in my work just to get through it. Everything has to matter.


What are your three favorite books?

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (though I loathe Jesse James by Ron Hansen), True Grit by Charles Portis, and The Illustrated Life and Times of Billy the Kid by Bob Boze Bell. His book is written in outline format and he has illustrated it beautifully. I absolutely love looking through it. There are several other books of course, but these three at least pertain to my genre and are in fact three of my favorites.


Who is your favorite author and why?

Stephen King is my favorite author because he has this magnificent tendency to pull you into the hopelessness and despair of a dire situation with his writing. You really feel the horror that his characters are subjected to.


What are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on Book II of Bandita.


If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Well, of course it would be Billy. There is so much to learn about him that Billy aficionados would love to know.


What are you currently reading?

Currently I am reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.


What makes good writing?

Emotion. A good way to capture emotion is to spend time with your characters and learn to care for and love them so that you feel what they feel. This way their trials and tribulations matter to the author and it really comes through on the page.

Also experience. I don’t think anyone can really argue that understanding your own feelings under certain circumstances helps you relate them through your characters when you place them in particular situations.

Some writers will argue that technique and institutional education make good writing, but I disagree. I believe it can absolutely contribute, but heart and soul, and blood, sweat and tears are what make writing flow. I have never had any focused formal education in writing; I learned what I know from being an avid reader and life experience.


Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

There are many themes and messages scattered throughout my book. A major one is the oppression of women during the Victorian era; my female protagonist symbolizes this point. Another, which may be a bit more subtle, is the detriment of lynch mob mentality and the damage it can do.  Something else a reader could garner is that sometimes things are not always what they seem; that the powers that be make the rules and the reports, leading good people to beliefs that may be incorrect.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

Well, it’s not always easy—it depends on how deeply you are involved in writing. Fortunately for me I am married and have my husband to help me escape. Writing is a very lonely endeavor, as well as it should be since it is the writer’s mind creating a special world. It’s hard to turn the writing switch off; even when we sleep it’s turned on. But to answer this question directly, I get in my car and drive.


If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

Ha, Scarlett O’Hara, of course!


Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

So many books have changed my life. Reading is so very important in general and if I hadn’t read as much as I have, then I wouldn’t have any idea how to write. But…unequivocally, it was reading Fredrick Nolan’s The West of Billy the Kid. I have been fascinated by Billy for 25 years, but reading his book got me started on reading other works on the Kid from him, as well as other books on Billy in general, which led me to want to write my own. And because of that, I achieved my lifetime goal of wanting to be a published writer.


If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

I sincerely doubt anyone could be bothered to write a book about my life, but okay, I’ll try and play this game. If someone were to write a book about my life, I suppose it would be called Handle With Care, ha ha  ;o)


Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Yes, my sanity!  In addition, I work an eight hour day job and I write when I get home and on weekends. So maybe I sacrifice weekends and those relaxing moments after work though it doesn’t feel that way. My heart belongs to writing.


What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Oddly enough, I haven’t encountered too many obstacles at this point. I wrote my book in about 3 ½ months (remember, it took 3 years of planning it out mentally before I wrote it), and was fortunate enough to be published within a month and a half. Since my life revolves around writing and planning a career with it, I have yet to consider anything an obstacle—there are just simply things I need to do to reach my goal.  I guess, however, it would be fair to say that marketing yourself is an obstacle in and of itself. Or maybe more of a speed bump.


What do you like best/least about writing?

What I like best is creating new worlds; people, dialogue, situations—having my characters play out interesting scenarios and resolving issues.

What I like least is the frustration that comes with constantly having to double-check my facts, especially when I must do this several times in one sitting. I also dislike the loneliness. I’m a bit of a shut-in when I’m concentrating on my writing. I can’t remember the last time I went out with my friends. I do see my family a lot, though, so it’s not as if I’m a complete hermit. I also dislike having to wait until my product is finished because I’m usually raring to go and get it published, but unfortunately, taking one’s time is a necessary evil.


What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Be prepared to do the work and don’t slack off to present a reader with half-assed work because you don’t feel like going through the motions. If you choose to write, make sure that it’s what you really want to do because it’s a difficult endeavor. If you love to do it as I do it’s all worth it and you deal with the adversity that presents itself with grace and accept it as part of your calling—you are willing to fight for your story when it’s rejected time and time again.

But if you aren’t sure about writing, you will run into snags and hardship and may abandon your effort. Writing is a very, very hard task. If you love it, you’ll handle it with ease. If you don’t, then it’s not for you and you may want to begin thinking of something else. If you plan to write, just know it isn’t any cakewalk. And don’t expect others to help you out—be prepared to be on your own. Be prepared for the loneliness that comes with the territory. Most people, your friends, and even family, don’t want to discuss your roadblocks or ideas, and they can’t understand what you’re going through, so realize that it’s just you and your words. But I can promise you that the achievement is completely worth it. Remember: Not many people can write a novel. Many people only wish they could.


What is one question you wish I asked, but didn’t?

What is it that got me into writing about my subject matter, though that may not be very important at all insofar as this interview is concerned.


Please share your social media links with us:

Publisher: Sunstone Press



Amazon Author Page:

Twitter: @NikkiMDixon

Facebook Page:

Facebook Bandita Page:

Facebook Author Page:



True West Blog Site:


Thank you NICOLE MADDALO DIXON for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.



I am sixteen. Taking me toward what was to be the inevitable conclusion of my maidenhood was the Union Pacific railway, seeming to speed me along to this undesirable milestone after a wearisome, long steamship journey around the eastern coast to the Gulf. Smoke from the cigars and cigarettes of the other passengers caused my eyes to glaze. I blinked. A tear fell and rolled down my cheek, surprising me. I was stronger than this, or so I thought. I had been planning for this, albeit against my will, for all of my life. Sixteen years’ worth of wrapping my feelings in an emotional corset of whalebone and repeating over and over that I was meant for nothing more than what my family wanted. I was a pawn in a game that God himself seemed to have created for me, and His will should not be refused.  The thing about whalebone though, it hurts.

I wiped the little tear away. No more came. Wheel against track sang me a lullaby and I allowed it to lull my mind into some other place in some other time where I could do as I pleased.

Along with me came my governess, Colleen. I loved her more than I loved my own cold and distant mother. Colleen cared for me for the last ten years, since leaving Ireland after her husband passed away from cholera. She was only twenty-one then. Though I did not know him I grieved yet for her silently. Outwardly, I had a role to play, and I was not to yield to governesses as if they were contemporaries, but alone with Colleen, I learned I could behave as freely as I wanted, and just between us two, when I was younger, I could laugh and play childish pranks which Colleen only played at being irritated with. But she never spoke about her husband, and I took my cue from her silence on the matter, never asking her about something so personal. Yet in the books I read and kept secret from my family, books which were considered refuse among my kind, where love was rampant and passionate, and women swooned for men who caught them, I imagined that this is what it must have been like for her and her husband. I romanticized them, holding each other tightly, in love. The same sort of love I had wanted and prayed I would receive when I came of age and it was time to do my duty for my family and marry a man of their choosing. I prayed so very hard that he would by chance be a man with whom I would fall hopelessly in love, and he with me, and we would live a life of happiness, fulfilling both my dreams and the plans of my family.

I wondered if Colleen still thought of him, her husband; if her heart was cracked beyond repair, for she never loved another, not to my knowledge. She still wore her ring. Though I had never experienced love outwardly, I certainly had inwardly. It spread like wildfire from the chest throughout the limbs making one weak with bliss.  In my books I was the heroine, and the male protagonist the lover who chased me until I could stand it no more and must give in to him and my own desire. I wanted it to be like this for me, but alas, it was not.

I knew these romantic dreams of mine were merely childish whimsy, entirely impractical and purposeless in life, so instead, I was to marry a man whom I did not love; a man who exemplified valuable credentials, and I was to marry him in a place far away—the one variable I had never considered; to wed a man and live by his side in a place a far from home—a place of which loathsome stories of horror were told. Indian massacres, brothels full of diseased women who gave their bodies to mean men for a meager sum, men who shot each other dead in the street over a suspected cheat during a game of poker. Is this really the life my father wanted for me? No…it was what he wanted for his already considerably vast bank roll. I was hardly a thought in the matter.


I stepped onto the back porch and saw a boy sitting next to John in the buggy. His head was down, his clothes fairly soiled and coming apart at the seams in places. His boots were well worn. The brim of his hat was tipped low; I could not see his face in its entirety, and when he stepped from the buggy he kept his head down. I could, however, see that his hair was flaxen considering it was much too long and unable to be completely concealed beneath his hat. I would have wagered that each of the soles of his boots were a stitch away from liberating themselves.

John stepped down and walked around the front of the cart until he was standing next to the boy.  He looked up at me and introduced the stranger. “Elucia, this is William Bonney.” Lowering his face mischievously before jauntily adding, “The thief who took my horses.”

Judging by his youthful appearance, I wondered, was this truly the boy who had stolen John’s horses?  And if so, why on earth would John want to offer him a place here at his home, trusting him with his property? I was annoyed and upset that John should not think of my safety, placing me in close enough proximity to a creature such as that. I should not be made to feel so uncertain in my own home. The west was a truly remarkable place, accepting and entertaining such scoundrels. I would have guessed that such a slight, tender aged boy, who could have been no older than I, should have lacked a mountain’s worth of experience in the career of a true horse thief, or any kind of thief for that matter. The boy looked up at me reluctantly when John introduced us, “William, this is my fiancée, Miss Howard.”

“Hello, William.” I dispassionately offered.

His demeanor was shy. I extended my arm to him in the customary way one might in offering a greeting. At first he seemed both perplexed and full of trepidation by my gesture as if uncertain how to respond. Tentatively he took my hand and reservedly said, “Hi.”

He respectively removed his hat and lowered his head, and I smiled in spite of myself; I would not have counted on his manners being so intact.

His looks appealed to me: blue eyes made vivid by the early afternoon sun’s glare, and such delicate, feminine features set in the context of a man’s face, giving him an appealing countenance. I noted his lengthy eyebrows, the same flaxen color of his hair, and how dramatically they framed both eyes. His slightly aquiline nose gave his face a satisfactory sort of character, especially when coupled by the other aforementioned attributes. I noticed that his white teeth entertained a hint of an overbite, his front teeth slightly bucked. His skin was fair, but his cheeks and the bridge of his nose were colored by the sun. His boyish good-looks were, without argument, very pleasant.

He returned my smile, and I found this simple rustic creature completely endearing. I could not help but like him immediately at the outset.

“Please, call me Elucia.” I offered, surprised by my own cordiality and suggestion of familiarity.

We all three stood silently a moment after the introduction. I looked again to William and attempted to meet his gaze, but no sooner had I made eye contact did he timidly lower his eyes towards the ground again, nervous.

John explained he would be taking William to his store in order to arrange him the necessary supplies he would need, but the boy, William, still only looked down, staring at his boots, holding his hat in his hands anxiously as I stood alongside him and continued to stare, attempting to talk with him and make small conversation.  When I spoke I saw that he tried to hold my gaze, but it would slip and he would look down before attempting to again look at me. He appeared fretful, and I suppose this was because I stared so unintentionally impolitely at him. My manners ought to have been better than this, but I was taken aback by my own feelings of interest for this boy. I was taken even further aback when he looked down again for a mere second before looking back at me with a slight grin that had found its way across his lips. My stomach felt fluttery. I could see straight away why John had brought this thief home. His charisma and charm were arguably a physical trait. It was hard to overlook, and harder still to ignore.




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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 23, 2014 at 7:00 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

My Interview with Kirsten Everett





I know it is impolite to ask a woman’s age, but in this case, I’m going to make an exception. How old are you now? How old were you when you wrote Eclipse Child and how old were you when you wrote Escaping Extinction?

I’ve dreamed up many books since I started writing but the first one that I self-published Eclipse Child I started writing a few weeks after my fourteenth birthday. Just more than half a year later I began working on my sequel, Escaping Extinction. I spent most of my mid-term break (in between studying for exams) writing because I just couldn’t stop. Less than a year later in 2014 I’m fifteen years old and I’ve reached my dream.


What exactly is an Eclipse Child?

An Eclipse Child is a person who is gifted with the ability to turn invisible (by manipulating shadows) whilst also having glowing hair and cells that regenerate faster than usual.


When did you first become interested in saving the rhinos?

In the last few weeks of 2012 I was on a game drive with my family and I saw a rhino and her calf. It was about five o’clock in the morning yet that sight woke me up; if I could pinpoint my interest to one specific event it would be that moment. I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to hurt such a majestic animal. As we drove away from the two rhinos I couldn’t help but realize how vulnerable they were so I promised myself that I would stand up for them. That was one of the reasons that I actually wrote Eclipse Child and Escaping Extinction I felt I had to use my talent to help these animals.


If you could tell people one reason why it is important to save the rhinos what would it be?

Frankly, there are so many reasons out there but I think the main one is that: We all have an obligation to take care of our environment–and rhinos are a very special part of that in Africa. So we need to save these majestic, helpless animals from greedy poachers.

What made you want to write in the first place?

Reading was one of my passions when I was younger (and it still is). It was an outlet that entertained my imagination and through it I learnt many important things about life. But, reading wasn’t enough to satisfy me so when I was nine years old I started writing. I fell in love with it so wrote as much as I could until I’d filled an entire notebook. That was when I started dreaming of being an author, and, being the determined little girl that I was, I set myself a goal; by the age of sixteen one of my books would be published. Well, when I published my book on Amazon last year I reached my goal two years early.


Tell us a little about your writing process. For example, do you use an outline or do you just make it up as you go along?

I started writing Eclipse Child whilst I was at a game lodge so the little notebook I had with me soon contained pages and pages of scribbling, that’s because I like to record most of the ideas I have. So, when I had my original ideas written down I started scribbling my idea of how the plot was going to flow and then I carried on from there.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

I’ve read this question in many interviews but I never really thought that one day I would be asked it. To be honest, the best thing that you can do if you want to be a writer is to daydream. Sure you should read, read, read but without inspiration and some ideas you’ll have a hard time getting anywhere. Another thing that an author must always remember is to never give up because even when everything is going wrong there will be something great around the corner. The key to being a really good author besides the two things I’ve already mentioned is to write about something that you’re passionate about. That will make the book connect with readers really well and you’ll enjoy the process even more.


What are your three favorite books?

My three favourite books are definitely The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Selection by Kiera Cass and Divergent by Veronica Roth.


If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Just less than a year ago I would’ve answered this question with one of my favourite author’s names but right now I think the person would be Ian Player. He was one of the people who saved the rhinos from going extinct not so long ago. I would love to have a conversation with him.

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

The main message I am trying to teach my readers in my two books is that we have to be willing to do what we can to save the rhino species or else they will go extinct. We have to show the world that we (as the youth) are willing to stand up for what we believe in.


How do you keep sane as a writer?

I try going through every day reminding myself to smile because for some reason when I smile nothing looks as bad as I originally thought it was. So, smiling gets me through all of my obstacles but I think the main things that keep me sane are my family, my friends, God, my dogs and as much as I detest it sometimes, my runs in the evenings.


Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that any books have changed my life but one of the books I’ve read certainly opened my eyes and convinced me to start standing up for the vulnerable members of society. This book was called The Last Rhino, by Lawrence Anthony and Graeme Spence.


Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

I used to watch TV every night when I was younger but as soon as I started writing I gave up my precious couch time to sit in front of the computer or at my desk with a notebook and just write, write, write. Yet, that wasn’t the only thing I had to give up in order to write I also had to quit yoga after doing it for seven years and I spent less time with my little sister (I do regret that).

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Being a fifteen year old author comes with its own set of obstacles. I have to juggle school, debating, sports, family time, trying to save the rhino species and writing as well. But, as hard as it is sometimes I enjoy everything I do and I am willing to put in the extra hours to get my message across.


Please share your social media links with us:


Twitter: @KirstenAwrite


Amazon: Eclipse Child

Amazon: Escaping Extinction


Thank you KIRSTEN EVERETT for sharing your time with us. You are truly an inspiration. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.




Eclipse Child

Bethany Clark is special. Not because of her passion for rhinos or her captured parents but because of what she is. An Eclipse Child.
Being able to turn invisible, have glowing hair and the ability to regenerate cells means she is the perfect weapon.
Tricked into a new world filled with merciless greed can she do what is right even when the odds are piled against her?

Excerpt from Eclipse Child

I froze in the bushes opposite a grey building. From the outside it didn’t look imposing but my parents had told me that being on the other side of a locked cell was terrifying. This place was a prison; a very special prison for very special people. My family fitted into that category easily. Having glowing hair and invisibility powers that we could control seemed to change us from ordinary people into hunted victims.

‘Did they catch you?’ was the first question my best friend asked me. Maya was the closest person I had to being a sister. When I was scared at night she was the person to comfort me, but unfortunately my trust in her had put her in danger. A danger that I had promised myself I would exterminate and with Hunter gone my parents would be free as well.

‘No, I’m fine but this time they brought policemen. I don’t understand how Hunter can possibly have them all brainwashed enough to fire bullets at me.’

Today had been the first time that the man who had kidnapped my parents had come to my school searching for me. Some parents would worry if they knew that I spent hours of my life running away from the bad guys; but since my parents had fallen prey to the very people who were after me, it was the best solution.

‘Don’t forget to say hello to your parents for me.’ She sounded more excited than I felt. This place had always given me the creeps; I used to blame the painters for using such a ghostly colour though now I knew better. This very place oozed the evil that its owner was full of.

I turned my phone off and tightened the strap on my backpack. Wrapping myself in layers of shadows I stepped onto the road immediately invisible. Every single step from now on my parents had done before me in chains. I felt an icy hand clasp my heart, my hair started glowing but worse than all of that was the fact that the moon slipped behind the clouds. Being an Eclipse Child we knew more about the rest of our galaxy than anyone else and right now I felt more alone in the world than ever before. The single glowing flower was the sign I had been dreading. I was the only one of my kind free to roam. Hunter would be more determined than ever to catch me.

I had a number on my head.

Number 1.

‘The sooner I manage to free my parents the sooner we can get started on helping the rest.’ I whispered just to make sure the words sunk in. With my mind I pulled the shadows closer to me and broke into a run.

My skin crawled as I stepped closer to the marble staircase. The fastest way to the top of the building was by elevator yet that wasn’t an option; I had to take the stairs. For the umpteenth time I wished I had been given wings instead of glowing hair; it would make my life so much easier.





Escaping Extinction

Bethany traded her freedom for a symbol of hope, yet that wasn’t enough. Now the rhino species is on the brink of extinction and, though the conservation army is strong, their enemies are stronger.
Determined not to give up, Bethany figures out a way to give her army a fighting chance. But the question is, even with her advantage; is it enough to help this species in Escaping Extinction?

Excerpt from Escaping Extinction

My body was frozen. I had only been locked in this ice chamber for five minutes and already my hope that I could escape was dwindling whilst my fears were increasing. This was real life. I could die here from frostbite if I didn’t figure out how to ignite a fire in my soul to melt the icy hand that clutched my heart.

I thought of everything. My family, my friends and my favourite animal but they weren’t powerful enough to raise a tiny spark in my soul. Even though I was an Eclipse Child with glowing hair, cells that could regenerate and the power to turn invisible, I was helpless against the cold yet I had to fight. The whole point of this experiment was to show my weaknesses to the people who held me captive and frankly, I was determined to make sure that page remained blank.

The air was so cold now that it hurt to breathe. There had to be something that could help me return to normality.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - April 16, 2014 at 6:34 am

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