Project Dream by CJ Zahner: Inspired by life events...

Welcome CJ!

Inspired by life events.

Why this title to a blog post? Read on…

People say I have a wild imagination. I thought so, too—until I had a premonition of 9/11. (Hear about my 9/11 forewarning at Book Circle Online interview.) That premonition, a vacation, and other life experiences influenced my novel, Project Dream, as much as my sometimes-off-the-wall imagination.

Project Dream delves into prophetic dreaming, but its story is more coming-of-age than paranormal. It follows the lives of three teenagers thrust into unusual circumstances. And as crazy as this world is today, I believe its subject is not far-fetched.

We all know someone who has exceptional perception or unfounded intuition. This book is simply a “what-if” tale. What if the government identified young teens who had a sixth sense, tapped into the unused portion of their brains, and taught them to be more perceptive?

I once interviewed a renown psychic, Anne Gehman, for a freelance article. She said clairvoyance was like playing the piano. Some people sat down and played proficiently, some no matter how much they practiced would only be able to play Mary had a Little Lamb, and others who practiced hard became proficient over time.

With her words in the back of my mind, I wondered. What if young teens were taken away from their homes, enrolled in a dedicated school, and trained intensely? How proficient might they become? Crazy? Or just a twist in an older, real, twentieth-century adult project, the Stargate Program.

I turned the idea over in my head. Where would the government hide a covert program like that?

That’s when a vacation trip came into play. I had traveled from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Death Valley, California, and watched a barrage of endless, barren, roads slip by. Along the way, we passed the desolate terrain that bordered Area 51—and Project Dream’s site was claimed.  

Project Dream is the prequel to my novel, Dream Wide Awake, which tells the story of adults who learned remote viewing as teenagers, so they could protect the country after 9/11. I originally began writing the sequel to Dream Wide Awake but readers began asking what happened before Dream Wide Awake. When the characters were kids in the desert. Hence, my YA novel, Project Dream.

Do you believe it could happen? I never say never. And…some of my beta readers who have read this novel are asking: is this fiction?

Or another one of my crazy premonitions?

What happened to the kids in the desert?

In 2002, the CIA forced several teenagers out of detention centers and into a National Security Test Program called Project Dream. Teens selected had two characteristics: physical superiority and a sixth sense. 
When the awkward, unpopular, and destitute Izzy Jimenez is caught stealing clothes, authorities enroll her in the program for two reasons: Izzy swims like a fish—and she sees angels.
There she studies and works hard to perfect her clairvoyance hoping authorities will allow her to go home. But when she and the other students master remote viewing and produce results that stun White House officials, additional children—good kids from normal American families—are recruited. Izzy’s hope of going home dwindles.
Not until the striking, charismatic Rachel Callahan arrives and befriends Izzy does her life become bearable.
Project Dream is a coming-of-age story of teenagers thrown into the most unusual circumstances. Each struggle to survive their time in the desert with the goal of getting out and going home, but—can any of them really go home? 

Now for a SPEED ROUND with CJ:

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CJ Zahner

Top: Reading in an LA library.

Bottom: On the road to Death Valley.

 FIND CJ:

Website/blog:

CJ Zahner

Social Media links:

InstagramTwitter ~ LinkedInBook Circle Online interview ~ GoodreadsBookBub ~  Book Gorilla

Heart Storms by N. Christine Samuelson

Welcome to Visiting Authors, today N. Christine Samuelson! Tell us about what you write.

I write novels, poetry, and some short stories I’m starting to write again.--

Before Heart Storms, I’ve published two previous novels, Eternal Seas and Echoes of Love—both deal with eternal bonds of love that transcend time. Past lives and mystical elements are woven into contemporary characters and stories of love and relationship—the perils, fears, obstacles and courage to overcome, the power of the bonds of love in many forms.

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing?

Most of my inspiration is from life experiences and the people I’ve known from all walks of life. They, and the myriad places I’ve lived and traveled to are the springboard for my imagination—so many stories to tell.

Her latest release…Heart Storms

Heart Storms…

When three people’s lives collide in a perfect storm of heartbreak and ruin, betrayal and love, will they be destroyed or transformed by their fate? One woman and two men are drawn to coastal South Carolina to an oceanfront Victorian B & B inn. Jade Armstrong is newly divorced and left with nothing by her treacherous ex-husband. Gabriel Montoro is reeling from a cheating wife. Rick Stirling owns the inn and has suffered a devastating personal loss. Through work and friendship, their inner conflicts extend to each other while vying for the need for survival, healing, attraction and love.

None of them seek love or relationship, but as they move into and through the emotional storm of their lives, destiny brings them together in an extraordinary way. A charming oceanfront inn complete with mystical elements lifts the characters’ spirits and helps them on their journeys. Their passionate triangle must be broken for them to move on with their lives, but who ends up with whom, or do they, and when?

Find Heart Storms: Amazon ~ Barnes/Noble-Nook ~ Apple Books ~ Kobo

Now a little more about N. Christine with a SPEED ROUND:

Where can you find N. Christine online? ~  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Amazon Author  ~  BookBub  ~  Goodreads  ~  Instagram  ~  Newsletter Sign Up  ~

Where can you find N. Christine online? ~ Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Amazon Author ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads ~ Instagram ~ Newsletter Sign Up ~

Any words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches?

Photo of the beach where I walk that inspired the oceanfront setting for the inn in Heart Storms.

Photo of the beach where I walk that inspired the oceanfront setting for the inn in Heart Storms.

Writing and publishing are hard roads to pursue. But If you love to write, if it’s your passion, never give up. Envision coming to the end of your life and looking back—would you be okay with giving it up? If you’d regret it, then carry on.

Now for an excerpt!

Jade wandered through her days looking for clues to why and how the end came. Well-meaning friends tried to encourage her, but their words were lies because love did not conquer all, and time had not healed her. In her world, the road to hell wasn’t paved with gold but with a golden boy who took her straight there—to a hell of a life. And when all those doors slammed shut, God didn’t open a window, ‘the devil’ did.

Devlin. Jade used to love his name. It was unusual, strong and spoke of his Irish heritage. She assumed the man, Devlin Donoghue, would be the same—as honorable as a hero in medieval times fighting to the death for his woman, family, and freedom. But Devlin was the antithesis of good things. … His name was unspeakable now, like poison on her tongue. So instead of seeing ‘Devlin’ written on the paper, …she saw only ‘Devil.’ Now there’s a name perfectly suited to him. Since that day, Jade referred to him only when necessary, and only as ‘the devil’—the intentional cause of pain and destruction, the epitome of evil.

***

Gabriel had nowhere to run or hide from the relentless demons howling through his life. They made demands of his days he couldn’t fulfill. No matter how good he was or acted, his life seemed predestined for trouble and heartbreak. In trying to change his situation, worse circumstances arose. He ran from a culture he loved and respected but had also caused pain and torment. The deepest truth, though, simmered underneath the obvious facts—Gabriel knew he’d never have a life of goodness, of love and family. Those things were fairytales in books and movies. He’d never witnessed those good things in real life and, since Consuela, for sure they didn’t happen to people like him.

***

The destruction of Jade’s life by a devious, conniving husband didn’t happen to people like her. She’d always been a loving, hard-working, devoted daughter and wife who deserved better than what she got.

At twenty-seven, instead of living the dream they planned, Jade lived alone in a studio apartment, in a nightmare where questions screamed through her dreams. Where are you… How could you do this? Why did you do it? Every day, rage tumbled down her life like a waterfall. Come back… fix this… make it right! Her world stood still while a vortex of depression sucked out her life force, replaced by a new emotion—hate. With all the good she was and did, she received the opposite in return. But for all the agony and loss the devil wrought, he didn’t get an ounce of it back. As far as Jade saw, only good things went back to him. How is that fair in the laws of the universe, the eyes of God, or in the karmic balance of right and wrong? Jade decided if those things wouldn’t balance the scales of justice, she would. She’d pay back ‘the devil.’ Retribution and vengeance—previously unknown concepts in her world—now thundered through her every waking moment as she vowed revenge.

Runaway Love Story by Sadira Stone

Welcome, Sadira, to the Visiting Authors corner.

Tell us about the inspiration for this Runaway Love Story.

This is the second in a steamy contemporary romance series set in Eugene, Oregon. Why Eugene? I’ll admit I sort of pulled the location out of a hat, having heard what a great college town it is. Since then, I’ve made several visits to this fascinating small city with its lively arts scene and a funky vibe dating back to the hippie era.

Known as Track Town, U.S.A., Eugene is the perfect setting for a story featuring two runners. Alas, knee injuries mean no more running for me, but I had such fun running vicariously through Doug and Laurel along the lovely green banks of the Willamette River.

Laurel comes to Eugene to help her 90-year-old Great Aunt Maxie (my favorite character) move into assisted living. She takes a temporary job at Book Nirvana, a fictional indie bookshop featured in the first book in the series, Through the Red Door. I came to love the shop and the characters working there (including Lulu the shop cat) so much that I couldn’t bear to leave them behind.

Eugene’s colorful, quirky Whiteaker District inspires lots of artistic characters for this series. Funky cottages and graceful Victorian houses, breweries and food trucks, mature trees and eclectic shops, it’s the perfect place to wander and dream.

(note from Jean: I love this story idea! And especially bringing those secondary characters — whom seem to grab a hold of our hearts! — into the picture again!)

Photo inspiration (from L to R): DeFazio Pedestrian bridge, leading to Alton Baker Park (in Eugene, Oregon), mural from Eugene, Oregon’s Whiteaker neighborhood, ,and a running path alongside the Willamette River

Tell us a bit about your other work and what lies on the horizon.

Book One in the series, Through the Red Door, features Clara, widowed owner of Book Nirvana, as she struggles to save her indie bookshop from rising rents and corporate competition. Her best chance: the shop’s historical erotica collection, curated by her late husband and kept behind a locked red door. A year after Jared’s death in a cycling accident, she faces pressure from concerned friends to move past her self-imposed isolation and dip her toes into the dating pool. Two men enter her life: a suave, seductive professor looking for research materials, and a gentle, athletic teacher who reminds her of Jared. Through dreams and signs, Jared tells Clara it’s time to move forward, but with which man?

I’m currently writing Book Three in the series, which features Margot, Clara’s young shop assistant, and Elmer, a character introduced in Runaway Love Story. Great-Aunt Maxie calls Margot “Tinkerbell on a Harley.” A petite, determined, spiky-haired, tattooed spitfire whose intolerant family try to squash her spirit, this aspiring graphic artist finds herself competing—with a flirtatious, buff, ginger-bearded potter—for an arts grant that could launch her career. When she surrenders to their magnetic attraction, things get complicated.

Now for the BLURB:

Available NOW online:  Amazon ,  Barnes & Noble ,  Apple Books ,  Google Play ,  Kobo

Speed-dating Round

Oxford comma, yes or no? Yes  

Coffee or tea or wine? Yes, please. No wine while writing, though.

What does your desk look like? I have an adjustable sit-stand topper on my big, messy desk, and one of those squishy floor mats beneath it. Heaven for my feet!

Describe a perfect writing day. I roll out of bed at 7:30 (such a luxury after years of pre-dawn wake-ups for my teaching career), pull on yoga pants and a T-shirt, pour coffee, and dive in. With only short breaks to eat and refill my mug, I work straight through until early afternoon. Then I hit the gym, take a walk, or pull some weeds. If my afternoon is free, I take care of writing-adjacent chores.

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? I’m torn between running a bookshop or a dance studio. Perhaps I could combine them?

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? For 17 years I lived in Wuerzburg, Germany, a lovely city on the Main River surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. There’s a Baroque palace in town and a medieval castle on the hill. I miss it every day.

What do you like to do when not writing? play darts, play guitar and ukulele, belly dance, and read lots of romance, mystery, and memoir

Last but not least, an excerpt…

“I’m sorry she called you the S word.”

  “Huh?”

  “Sensible.”

           She laughed. “Yeah. That’s a curse word, as far as I’m concerned.” She leaned her head on his shoulder. 

           “I’ll strike it from my vocabulary. Your S word is sparkle.” He traced her jawline with a feather-light touch. “Look at you, Laurel. You’re blinding.” His twilight-blue gaze made her heart dance—a steamy tango with swirls and dangerous dips. He kissed her, and, for a moment, she forgot all about caution, about cutting things off before they became too serious, about San Francisco. Her focus narrowed to his lips on hers, his nearness heating her whole body, opening her like a blossom, soft and willing. Ripe for the plucking.

           “God, I’ve missed you.” He scooped her legs across his lap. One hand cradling her nape, the other gripping her thigh, he kissed her senseless. His velvet tongue teased her lips apart. He tasted of sugary coffee. The world around them faded—just two bodies, calling and answering, breathing in sync, their pulses beating the same rhythm.

Sadira Stone’s BIO:

Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books. Visit Sadira at www.sadirastone.com.

Mystic Maples by Tena Stetler makes its Deerbourne Inn series premiere!

Welcome, Tena!

From Tena: “Mystic Maples is my contribution to the multi-author series The Deerbourne Inn. If you haven’t read any of the series, I highly recommend them. Each story is written by a different author and share scenes within Willow Springs, Vermont centering on The Deerbourne Inn and its cast of quirky characters.”

(Jean here…I second the above! What a great series so far!)

What inspired this (specific) story? 

After reading all the original information set out for the multi-author series The Deerbourne Inn, Mercy and Sil began chattering in my mind. They claimed the setting was perfect for their story. Once I did the character worksheets I always do before starting a story, I discovered they were right.   I love writing small town stories and putting a paranormal twist on them.  

Any interesting discovery or tidbit of info while researching/writing this book?

I had to research the process of making Sugar Maple sap into Maple syrup, so I would know the equipment used, the buildings used and the time of year. My hero took over Mystic Maples the family maple business in Willow Springs, Vermont. Did you know sugaring season for maple syrup is from early February through late March?

Fun Facts:

  • It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.

  • Pure maple syrup contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids – making it good for your health and a great alternative to refined sugar (in moderation of course). 

  • REAL maple syrup is 100% fat free and contains no preservatives.

  • Buy extra! You can keep maple syrup in the freezer for a very very long time (like forever)! It will never freeze solid. Always keep your open bottle of syrup in the refrigerator. 

  • There is actually a law in Vermont making it illegal to label a product on a restaurant menu or food package as “maple” if it is not pure maple syrup. Vermonters take this stuff seriously!

Tell us one unique thing about you many might not know.

I was a radio DJ for two years on a Classic Rock Station KKFM. It was a fun job, the perks of attending the rock concerts and meeting the bands rocked, but the pay sucked! It was an experience I enjoyed.

Mystic Maples…  Earth/Fire witch Mercy Rose's insatiable curiosity always gets her in trouble. After a break-in at her Colorado flower shop, and a court battle that comes to a screeching halt in her favor, she arrives at Deerbourne Inn for a much-needed getaway. Looking for peace and quiet, she finds just the opposite in a startling handsome but mysterious man and his dog.  Silvanus Forrest's gypsy/fae heritage is a double-edged sword. The land he inherited from his parents is rumored to be enchanted. But when Mercy discovers the truth, his well-ordered life unravels, and they're catapulted into the past to right a wrong. Along the way their lives intertwine, and they discover the true meaning of family and love. Will they change the past in time to save their future?

Mystic Maples…

Earth/Fire witch Mercy Rose's insatiable curiosity always gets her in trouble. After a break-in at her Colorado flower shop, and a court battle that comes to a screeching halt in her favor, she arrives at Deerbourne Inn for a much-needed getaway. Looking for peace and quiet, she finds just the opposite in a startling handsome but mysterious man and his dog.

Silvanus Forrest's gypsy/fae heritage is a double-edged sword. The land he inherited from his parents is rumored to be enchanted. But when Mercy discovers the truth, his well-ordered life unravels, and they're catapulted into the past to right a wrong. Along the way their lives intertwine, and they discover the true meaning of family and love. Will they change the past in time to save their future?

Find Mystic Maples: Amazon, AmazonUK, AmazonAU, AmazonCA Barnes&Noble and itunes

Speed-dating round:

Oxford comma, yes or no?  Yes, but not willingly.

Ice cream (favorite flavor)? Chocolate

Tena’s work cave

Tena’s work cave

Coffee or tea or wine? French Vanilla Tea

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? Well paid DJ.

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? I’d love to visit Scotland and Ireland.But  I love Monterey Bay, California.

Beach, lake, or mountains? Mountains

If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? Steve Jobs

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Night Owl

What comes first, character or plot (or other)? Character

Now for an excerpt…

Once again her insatiable curiosity overwhelmed her good sense.

He reached out. It all happened like slow motion, he grabbed her arm pulling her out of her thoughts. Reflex action on her part caused a jolt of magic spark to snap from her palm. A direct hit to his solar plexus. Uh-oh—there goes the offer of his cottage. “I’m so sorry,” she blurted.

Doubling over, he gasped for air. She had to admire him. He stayed on his feet.

Adrenalin surged through her veins, the fight or flight response alive and well. A final glance at him to make sure he was recovering, then she snapped her fingers and disappeared.

Back in her room at Deerbourne Inn, she paced around, stopped and stomped her foot. “Damn it!” Then she returned to pacing. Grabbing her phone, she scrolled to her sister’s number, turned it off silent, then froze. Her sense of self-preservation and good sense kicked in.

She could just see her sister, arms crossed over her chest, lips pursed, and shaking her head. Then in that condescending tone Hope would say, “Again.” She tossed the phone on the bed. Fell backward onto the handmade quilt and stared at the ceiling.

A whoosh of cool air washed over her. She shifted her gaze toward the window. It was closed. A woman’s filmy outline floated across the floor, taking a familiar shape. As the apparition settled onto the bed a slight indentation on the covers appeared. She sat up.

The ghost touched her hand. “My, my, what has you so upset?”

The specter’s touch was cool, sending shivers down her spine. She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. At her second attempt to speak only a squeak was audible.

“Come, come now, girl, spit it out.” The ghost’s smile was reassuring.

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About Tena…

Tena Stetler is a best-selling author of award winning paranormal romance novels. She has an over-active imagination, which led to writing her first vampire romance as a tween to the chagrin of her mother and delight of her friends.

With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, she sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures, with a Navy SEAL or two mixed in telling their tales. Her books tell stories of magical kick-ass women and strong mystical males that dare to love them. Travel, adventure and a bit of mystery flourish in her books along with a few companion animals to round out the tales.

The wait is over! L. Ryan Storms's new release!

A Thousand Years to Wait …  Prophecies are meant to unfold on their own—they can’t be forced into fruition. Or can they? When a war-torn kingdom is on the cusp of falling to a usurping general, a young healer who doesn't believe in magic is called upon to help a prophecy transpire. She must embrace the magic...or lose everything.

A Thousand Years to Wait

Prophecies are meant to unfold on their own—they can’t be forced into fruition. Or can they? When a war-torn kingdom is on the cusp of falling to a usurping general, a young healer who doesn't believe in magic is called upon to help a prophecy transpire. She must embrace the magic...or lose everything.

 Welcome, L. Ryan Storms! Your bio is pretty diverse. How did you end up writing?

I guess it took me longer than most to realize storytelling was my true calling. While I’ve always loved it, it never seemed like a viable path for me. As someone who has so many interests, it always made sense to follow a more “solid” career path, like science. As a result, I worked in pharmaceutical microbiology for years. I loved it! (I am a huge science nerd.) But I found I still needed to fill that creative void and writing was the perfect outlet.

In fact, I have to give some credit to the pharmaceutical industry for steering me towards writing. At one point, I left the laboratory and started as a technical writer in the R&D department. It was the first time I really learned how to piece together large documents on a regular basis and realize that I could jump around to fill in pieces as I gathered them. It didn’t quite feed the creative in me (Boy, is technical writing dry!), but it gave me a basic understanding of how I could delve into my own writing and not just start, but also finish novels. (Which is kind of important if you’re going to be an author.) As the years went on, I started to feel more at home with my writing and finally decided to take the plunge into indie-authorhood this year.

What’s your favorite kind of character to write?

That’s a tough one. One of the best parts about being an author is bringing to life so many different kinds of characters. I love the diversity of it. All in all, I’d have to say intelligent characters with just a little bit of attitude rank high on my list. I really enjoy the challenge of writing a character who has the brains to figure out how to take on the problems around them. That said, one of the most difficult things to write is a character who is a whole lot smarter than you are. I wrote a story about a time-traveling prodigy once and I had the most difficult time writing it because I just couldn’t process how someone that smart would think.

Quinn was probably one of my favorite characters in A Thousand Years to Wait because of the way his mind works. Because the story is told from Reina’s point-of-view, we don’t really get to see how Quinn thinks up front, which makes for a lot of speculation. It was lots of fun. If things go right, you might see more of Quinn’s thoughts in the future.

A Thousand Years to Wait is labeled as being Book 1 of The Tarrowburn Prophecies. Does this mean there’s more to come?

Maaaaaaybe. It was always my intention to make A Thousand Years to Wait the first of a trilogy. In fact, early versions of the book alluded to more prophecies and additional troubles. I am a huge fan of trilogies, but I love a first book that can stand alone. That’s what I aimed for with A Thousand Years to Wait.

I hope to write the second book this year. I’m in the middle of another project, though, and need to wrap that one up first. I’m not the kind of writer who can work on multiple books at once. I get too muddled and lose my way. Authors who can hop back and forth between projects with no problem are my heroes.

Speaking of A Thousand Years to Wait…let’s learn a bit more about it:

At eighteen, Moreina di Bianco is a young healer who believes in medicine, not magic, even while possessing a second sight she can’t fully explain. So when the Faranzine Talisman chooses Reina to reawaken an ancient magic and end a war, she must reconcile her beliefs, unlock the talisman’s secrets, and harness the magic within.

Reluctant to accept help, Reina agrees to allow two determined escorts to accompany her on her journey for truth, but each comes with a mysterious past of his own. Her estranged childhood friend, Quinn D’Arturio, left their village years ago and only recently returned, harboring dark secrets behind a solemn exterior. And despite his status as a perfect stranger, a dashing captain by the name of Niles Ingram is quick to fight by Reina’s side at whatever the cost. That someone she’s only just met would give his life for hers is a sobering realization of the ever-present danger Reina has jumped into.

There’s just one problem with Reina’s two companions. They, too, are featured in the talisman’s prophecy—as potential suitors. But what woman wants a suitor, let alone two, when she’s tasked with defeating a usurping general, ending a war, finding the true king, and rightfully seating him on the throne?

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Where can we get our hands on A Thousand Years to Wait?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Book Depository

My goal is to have the second book of The Tarrowburn Prophecies released sometime in late 2020.

Why did you go the self-published route?

I think there comes a point in your life where you have to be comfortable in your own skin and with your own skills. Publishing is extremely competitive and a lot of writers call it quits long before getting to publication. After all, it’s really difficult to keep going when you’re faced with 90% or higher rate of rejection. (Seriously, 90% is being generous.) You can’t rely on others to reassure you of the worth of your work. You have to know, deep down, that what you’re writing is worth putting out there.

That said, beta-readers and critique partners are gold, and I would never, ever, ever publish without having multiple eyes and edits on my work. Self-publishing has a bad reputation because “anyone can do it.” This is true. It’s also why there’s a lot of sub-par writing when it comes to self-publishing.

On the flip side, there are a ton of self-published authors whose work is better than many traditionally published authors. I read Andy Weir’s The Martian not too long ago and it had me laughing out loud so often that my husband actually began to side-eye me from across the room. The Martian was self-published. Still Alice by Lisa Genova is another self-published success story that made it not only onto the NYT bestseller list, but also onto the big screen. There’s a lot to be said for self-publishing and it’s as legitimate a publishing path as any other.

There was a time when I pursued traditional publishing methods and queried a whole lot of agents. (I’ll leave the number to your imagination.) It was actually the responses of several agents that ultimately made me comfortable with the prospect of self-publishing. When agents compliment your world-building, your writing, and the story, and tell you to touch base with them for future projects? It’s eye-opening in a way that a friend’s “This is great!” isn’t. (Not that my friends aren’t positively amazing and cherished for their encouragement. They are. But when an agent compliments your writing? It’s a. Big. Deal.) That encouragement gave me the courage to take the leap.

How did you get into writing Young Adult Fantasy? And why Young Adult over Adult?

I love the young adult age category. I have always loved it. I wish it had existed when I was in middle school and high school, but back then there was a giant void between middle grade and adult fiction. I’ve really enjoyed seeing book stores labeling entire shelves as young adult over the last few years because, whether it’s contemporary young adult or young adult fantasy, it’s really important for teenagers to see themselves represented in stories as more than just a sullen side character with raging hormones.

Teens face a lot of unique problems that really only happen at that time in our lives. The “newness” of adulthood, the first love that you go through in your teen years, and the learning how to interact with others on a deeper, more personal level than “What’s your favorite food?” or “What’s your favorite animal?” is what makes writing young adult really interesting for me. (Don’t get me wrong. It’s still important that you know I love pizza, chocolate, and horses but who doesn’t?) Teens are in a really unique place in life where they can act like kids or act like adults, where they can process information in a way adults might not, see solutions adults might miss, and embrace change in a way adults might vehemently refuse to do.

Young adults deserve to see themselves as heroes, as strong characters who are capable of changing the world because that’s just who they are. The sooner they learn and accept that, the sooner they can get on with being amazing individuals and making an impact in the world.

Where can we get our hands on A Thousand Years to Wait?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Book Depository


SPEED ROUND TIME!

Oxford comma, yes or no?  Always (Seriously, say it in a Snape voice. *Always.*)

Coffee or tea or wine? Peach tea. Or water. Lots and lots of water.

What does your desk look like? What desk? My lap is my desk. Sometimes the dining room table if I’m feeling fancy.

What is your writing vice or must-haves? My laptop. Sounds silly, but I can’t write by hand. My handwriting is atrocious and my brain works far faster than my hands can keep up. Typing is the only way I can write.

Describe a perfect writing day. Wait. There’s a perfect writing day?

What are some of your go-to methods for writing? It’s like Nike always said. Just do it. I like to outline, but I don’t always *follow* the outline. One way or another, I sit my butt in the chair and write the words.

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? Outdoor photographer

PSSST! She is an amazing photographer!! Check out some of her work here: http://www.thisartisticearth.com/ or here: https://www.facebook.com/artisticearthphotography/ and a few below:

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? Bryce Canyon is high on my list. It’s magical in a way I can’t even begin to explain.

Beach, lake, or mountains? This is tough. Mountains and lakes are synonymous for me and they’re relaxing in a cozy, wear-your-sweater-and-drink-hot-tea kind of way. Beaches are relaxing in a let-your-muscles-unclench-and-sip-a-tropical-drink kind of way. So…both? All?

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Night owl, possibly midday lark at times. Definitely, definitely not a morning rooster.

What comes first, character or plot (or other)? Character and setting.

L. Ryan Storms is a writer, photographer, traveler, and dreamer. She's a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of SCBWI who enjoys working PR & Marketing for her local library. She has written articles featured on the front page of local newspapers, but mostly she writes novels near and dear to her heart. She holds a B.S. in Marine Science from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and a Master's in Business Administration from Marist College, but writing young adult fantasy has always been her true passion.

Storms lives in Pennsylvania with her cancer-survivor husband, two children, and a "rescue zoo" featuring two dogs, two cats, and an ex-racehorse. When she's not writing, reading, or keeping her kids in line, she enjoys hiking, photography, and planning the next big adventure.

Find out what L. Ryan Storms is working on & visit her blog at www.lryanstorms.com. You can also find her frequently tweeting about writing (and parenting) on Twitter (@LRyan_Storms).

The Incongruity of Beauty: A "glimpse" into Stephen B. King's 2nd book in the series

The Incongruity of Beauty 

We use the word beauty in many different scenarios and situations, but could we ever use it to describe death? In Glimpse, the Beautiful Deaths, criminal psychologist Patricia Holmes, attached to the Major Crime Squad of the Western Australian Police Department, certainly does.

That’s a beautiful dress, we might say, or what a beautiful day, those flowers are beautiful, that child has a beautiful personality, she has a beauty spot  on her cheek……….You get the idea for how often we can use the adjective. I’ve even heard sports commentators say what a beautiful shot, he’s swimming beautifully and once, in a heavy weight boxing match, what a beautiful knock out punch.

It seems to me to be over-used, and in some cases is completely opposite from what the word actually means. Patricia Holmes asks us to consider beauty in its purest from. She describes a man who has an obsession to own and possess beautiful things so badly it leads to six cases of murder.

The second book in the Glimpse series  releases April 10th .

The second book in the Glimpse series releases April 10th.

During a meeting with homicide detectives where she delivers the profile of the man they are hunting, she nicknames him Gordon. She urges the men to think of him that way: an ordinary man, not a master criminal or Serial Killer. She believes he doesn’t even consider what he has done to be murder and she poses the riddle to the men:

When is a serial killer not a murderer?

The bodies of six young girls, each of them the epitome of beauty when they were alive, have been found in a cave system in the South of the State. Malnourished, dehydrated, and showing no signs of violence, they appear to have wasted away until death overtook them. Then, they were interred in the caves, each with flowers left with them, at an average of once every year or so.

The caves are hard to get to, and located near a breathtakingly beautiful place called The Blue Lake, and Pat thinks it’s the beauty of the place which led him to bring the bodies there. She describes how she believes Gordon had a hideous life since childhood; that he was born a gentle, caring, artistic child who was treated abysmally by one or both parents.

She says they would have said things to him like: “You’re bloody useless, Gordon! Why can’t you ever do anything right, Gordon? You’re not trying hard enough, Gordon!”

She further thinks he wanted to follow his artistic ideals but received nothing but criticism and ridicule from the two people who should have encouraged it.  They stifle him, yet he is too downtrodden to resist or even speak up for himself. Instead he develops his passion for beauty in things like gardening and collecting things which to him signify true beauty. Pat predicts he has a secret room where he can indulge himself and enjoy all the beautiful things he isn’t permitted outside his secret world. He will collect things like African Butterflies, postage stamps, or porcelain dolls, paintings – anything which allows him to forget how ugly his real life is. He lives in a fantasy world, far removed from his real life.

She goes further, by saying Gordon tried to escape when he married, but being so meek and mild he would have attracted a dominant woman, and for him, it would have been a case of out of the frying pan, into the fire. She will be even worse, she predicts, than his parents were, and she forbids the beauty he craves which is denied him.

And so, Sgt. Rick McCoy, with Patricia Holmes and the rest of the task force hunt a man addicted to beauty. They believe when he came across each stunningly beautiful young girl, he had to own and possess them, to capture the very essence of them, to idolize them. But when they were imprisoned, they were no longer free, and they ceased to be what they were before he took them. They slowly lost the one thing that he craved from them: their beauty.

Meanwhile Rick and Pat are each fighting their own cravings. They are married, yet the more they work together, the more they are attracted to each other, and the more they want to take the irrevocable step, from friendly, flirting work colleagues, to lovers. But if they do, what will the effect be on their relationship, and their marriages?

There are many dark clouds on Rick and Pat’s horizon; a storm is coming. Solving the beautiful deaths will be the least of their problems. The storm has a name: PPP; the serial killer locked away by them in a mental hospital. He is plotting his escape, and revenge.

Glimpse, The Beautiful Deaths is released on April 10th, available on Amazon and other online vendors.

Find Stephen online along with his other books

in print, e-book, and audio:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Devil Forget Me, the final book of the Demon Huntress series

Karilyn Bentley is with us today to share about her fifth and final book, Devil Forget Me, in her Demon Huntress series.

Karilyn writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy and her writing journey began young:

I started writing in elementary school, mash-ups between Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie. You know, mysteries featuring an elementary school kid. Or a day in the life of an elementary school kid. But making up stories was forgotten as I grew older and it wasn't until I was married and working in a cube farm that I decided to start writing. While the ideas were (somewhat) good, my actual writing was horrific. So I joined RWA (Romance Writers of America) and DARA (Dallas Area Romance Authors) and started learning the art of writing. And here I am!

Tell us about Devil Forget Me.

I'd love to! My latest book is Devil Forget Me, the 5th and final book of the Demon Huntress series.

Here's the blurb:

What appears to be a simple crime, unmasks a chilling deception...

Gin Crawford, the world's newest demon huntress, kills two minions who are breaking into a financial adviser's office. But what she thinks of as another night in the life of a demon huntress leads to a cover-up of epic proportions. A demon haunts her employer, the Agency, and only she can stop it.

Aidan Smythe, her guardian mage and lover, along with her brother T, and the healer Eloise, join her search in discovering the demon's identity. A search thwarted by a powerful spell.

Breaking the spell requires her to join forces with Zagan, the demon of deceit, the demon who marked her as his. But working together comes with a price. One Gin is not sure she can pay.

 

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

I am published with a small press. I got my start by entering a contest The Wild Rose Press put out a call for about ten years ago. They chose six novellas to go into an anthology and mine was one of them. I've been with them every since.

 Any new projects on the horizon?

I do have a new project! Unfortunately I'm not allowed to talk about it yet. Stay tuned!

 ((ohh secretive! I love it!))

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

It's a quote from Galaxy Quest. Never give up, never surrender.

((and I love that quotation!))

EXCERPT:

    She chuckles as I sip my beer. “Not nothing. I am trying to discover the identity of the demon at theAgency.” She frowns. “It’s not going well. I know I know who the demon is, but every time I think of its identity”—her hands move in a poof motion—“it

vanishes.”

     “Yeah, I have the same problem.”

     A memory pops into my mind. Two memories, actually. The first was of last night’s fight with Rahab. How the demon said he only had one demon left to kill in order to rule Hell. Mammon, the demon of greed. The second memory was from last week when Smythe and I went to the Agency. We ran into Chuck Tweedy, the Big Boss of the Agency, and my justitia couldn’t stop chanting “greedy.” I assumed the bracelet got its

words mixed up, exchanging Tweedy for greedy. But what if there was a connection?

     A dull pain hammers my head. I rub my brow. What was I thinking? We were talking about the Agency demon. Who could it be?

     “You do have the same problem.” Eloise touches my leg, and the headache disappears. “That’s what happened to me.”

     “How did you know?” Eloise was blind, although I swear at times she sees fine. “I could feel your pain.” Her brow furrows. “Like a spell had been thrown at you that caused the headache. I wonder if the same thing happens when I get a headache from thinking on the demon’s identity.”

     “Wait. You mean whenever I think about who the demon is, my thoughts trigger a spell? What does the spell do?”

Where to find Karilyn:   Website  ~  Newsletter  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Goodreads  ~  Pinterest  ~  BookBub

Where to find Karilyn:

Website ~ Newsletter ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest ~ BookBub

Speed round with Karilyn:

Ice cream? Butter PecanCoffee or tea or wine? Tea

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? I loved Sweden and wouldn't mind going back

What do you like to do when not writing? Read, take hikes with my dogs, and learn a different language

Beach, lake, or mountains? Mountains!

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Mid-morning rooster. Definitely NOT a night owl!

You find a $100 bill in your purse/bag, what would you spend it on? First I'd want to know how it got in there. Then I'd go have fun buying clothes and books.

Favorite childhood book? Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie series. Yes, I  know, that's more than one.

Karilyn Bentley's love of reading stories and preference of sitting in front of a computer at home instead of in a cube, drove her to pen her own works, blending fantasy and romance mixed with a touch of funny.

Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London, placed in the Got Wolf contest and started her writing career as an author of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds.

Karilyn lives in Colorado with her own hunky hero, two crazy dogs, aka The Kraken and Sir Barks-A-Lot, and a handful of colorful saltwater fish.

Lion Dancing for Love: the latest in the Deerbourne Inn series

What inspired Lion Dancing for Love?

I wanted to write a story that reflected the multi-cultural world we live in, and how, as human beings, we have far more in common than we have differences. I have a number of Chinese friends and I have always been intrigued by their culture, and the process whereby immigrants are absorbed into the mainstream culture and what they retain and what they lose from their culture of origin. My heroine Caitlin’s family is typical of many immigrant families in that her granny, who was born in America to Chinese immigrants, is still very Chinese. However, her mother married an Anglo American, so Caitlin has a foot in both worlds. My hero Corey, however, is a born and bred Vermonter several generations back.

As a city dweller my whole life, I am also always intrigued by the differences between large and small towns and how individuals used to the hustle and bustle of large cities adapt (or don’t) to the intimacy of smaller towns.

Licking her wounds after a bad relationship, San Diego accountant Caitlyn Summers travels to Willow Springs to help her friend gear up for the annual Maple Sugar Ball. She isn't planning on staying long, but one encounter with the delicious Corey Duncan has her re-evaluating her plans. 

Corey swore off love when his wife Annie died from breast cancer. Caitlyn is too young, too citified, and vibrates with a passion and energy that will upend the safe, comfortable rhythm of his life. Corey has to choose between playing it safe and taking a risk on love. Caitlyn needs to find the patience to let Corey lead. If not, the Maple Sugar Ball might end in a sticky mess, instead of a slow dance with the man who has captured her heart. 

Will their fire burn hot enough to erase doubts and past hurts?

Did you learn any interesting discovery or tidbit of info while researching/writing this book?

Lion Dancing costume similar to Caitlyn and Corey’s in the book

Lion Dancing costume similar to Caitlyn and Corey’s in the book

So many! However, the ones tied to the lion dance were most interesting. I’m familiar with the color and pageantry of Chinese New Year celebrations, but it wasn’t until I started researching the topic that I found out that a Lion Dance is performed to usher in good luck and fortune. It is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals – including the opening of new businesses. That’s the link that allowed me to tie a Lion Dance to the Maple Sugar Ball held in Willow Springs.

I also discovered that 1.5% of Vermont’s population is Asian in origin, of which at least some are Chinese, so I felt comfortable introducing Chinese characters despite its French colonial history and association with maple sugar, maple syrup and skiing.

Tell us one unique thing about you we might not know.

I’ve always been a bit of a nerd and a bookworm, so many people are surprised to find out that I paid for my university education with a tennis scholarship.

How about an excerpt?

Caitlin gulped in a cooling draught of fresh morning air. She didn’t want to get off to a bad start with Annette’s friends and neighbors, but she would not, could not, say anything good about that show.

“So not a fan of reality TV, huh?” Corey sounded amused.

She bristled. “No.”

“Up to people what they want to do with their time, isn’t it? Popular entertainment has been around since the Romans fed gladiators to the lions. I’m sure some Romans found other entertainment, plays and suchlike.”

“It’s the biggest con job, on both participants and audiences. The only people who get rich are the producers who dream up the rubbish.” She gave him a sidelong glance. “I suppose I’ve offended you.”

Corey shook his head. “Not me. I’m hard to offend. Besides, I like to watch sports. Also reality TV, but not scripted.” He winked at her.

“So they say,” she muttered, but her tension eased.

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those conspiracy theorists who thinks every match is fixed?” He clutched at his heart. “And I thought we were developing a beautiful friendship.”

“We can’t be friends if I don’t like sports?”

He shrugged, but his lips tilted up, and his eyes twinkled. Built and a sense of humor. Why couldn’t he live in San Diego?

 

LauraBoon2.jpg

Laura Boon stole her first romance from her father’s bookshelves as a teenager, The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and was immediately captivated. After holding a variety of positions in publishing, from bookseller to sales rep and publicist, she eventually found the courage to write her own stories. She was born in Zambia, grew up in South Africa, and went to university in America. She now lives in Australia with her husband and their fur babies Beau and Arro. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys sleuthing for artisan chocolate and beautiful stationery, watching tennis, and walking alongside Sydney’s beautiful harbor. Laura was name 2018 Australian Romance Readers of Australia Debut Romance Author of the year (The Millionaire Mountain Climber).

You can find Laura on her blog or Facebook page and on Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads, Bookbub and Amazon.

 

Catch the other Deerbourne Inn stories on Amazon

and other e-book vendors. 

 

Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer, Book 1, now on AUDIO!

If I can be still living my dream at age sixty-three, so can anyone.

The journey of living my dream continues…

I’ve told anyone who wanted to listen, and some who didn’t, that for all of my life I had a dream of being a published author. Now I know lots of people share that dream; and anyone who has signed a publishing contract knows what it feels like when that is achieved. In my case I reached that wonderful milestone at age 58 when my first book, Forever Night, was contracted to The Totally Entwined Group (Bonnier UK). So, you could say it took 58 years to become an overnight success. I’m 63 now, and who knows how many books are left in me before the grim reaper comes calling – lots I hope, but really, who knows? A good friend of mine said recently at a poker game that men between the ages of 55 and 65 are in the sniper’s telescopic sight, a sobering thought indeed. My tenth book is now in the editing stages with my wonderful publisher The Wild Rose Press (NY) and I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I’m awake. Yes, I know that’s a cliché and authors should never use them, but in this case, it’s true.

Very recently Book 1 of The Deadly Glimpses trilogy, Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer, was released on audio, and while this is my second audio book, it was much more involved in production than my first (Thirty-Three Days) due to the subject matter. The point is, that it is another example of me being lucky to be ‘living the dream’ I’ve had all my life. It’s important to me that I don’t trivialize any of the rungs on the ladder I’ve climbed, or bucket list things I’ve ticked off, so please believe that this book coming to audio is one of those, OMG moments in time for me.

To try to put this into context, from writing the first line of this book [“I was five years old when I first saw someone bleed out”] to the audio release took over a year. In that time I performed rewrites galore, worked with two editors, which meant six editing rounds. So, safe to say I know every word off my heart. We were very fortunate to snap up the wonderful narrator Geoffrey Boyes who did Thirty-Three Days for us; he read the book and volunteered to do the whole trilogy, because he loved it so much. So then I worked with him, listening to his work, and offering edits and suggestions. An example of his dedication to his craft was that he was concerned he had to get the Serial Killer just right and he did three different characterizations and sent them to me for my approval.

Slowly the project came together.

When it was released, I bought a copy from Audible.com. I didn’t have to, I had the files, but I did, and then spent the next few days listening to it on my long drives to and from work. I don’t want to sound in any way conceited, but……….. It gave me goosebumps. Geoffrey’s portrayal of all the characters, but of PPP, the murderer, in particularly, still makes the hairs on the back of my arms raise up. I wrote the story, I knew what was coming next, but can I say in all truthfulness, listening to it was fantastic? Because so much of the book is in memoir form, Geoffrey had to distinguish between what the killer thought (and wrote) and what he said in dialogue, and he nailed it. There were a few occasions I arrived at my destination, but had to keep listening because it was exciting.

Sure, I get that for many people, this story isn’t their cup of tea. A romance lover may not want to read about a serial killer, even though there is a very distinct love story across the three books. I don’t know how many people will read, or listen to the book, but for me, this blog post isn’t about that. I’ve brought up five children, and for all their lives I’ve tried to teach them to dream high, never give up, never stop trying and never listen to the people who would try to stop them reaching their goals. If I can be still living my dream at age sixty-three, so can anyone. My kids are proud of me, and I can take that to my grave with a smile on my face.

Available on  Amazon .

Available on Amazon.

Find Stephen online: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

What are people saying about Glimpse?

5.0 out of 5 stars edge of your seat thriller

REVIEWED BY: LINDA TONIS
MEMBER OF THE PARANORMAL ROMANCE REVIEW TEAM

Detective Sergeant Richard “Rick” McCoy of the Australian Police Department is struggling to deal with the fact that his wife discovered he cheated and threw him out leaving him missing both his wife and five year old daughter Amy. Rick knew that he was to blame for his marriage falling apart but when he is assigned to a murder of a woman found in pieces in a suitcase in the rubbish dump he has no idea how his life will change.

This is not the typical story of who done it but it is a story told in detail by the serial killer himself. The killer’s dad was a butcher whose wife left him and her son when he was just five. As a young boy he would watch as his father butchered meat and found himself fascinated by the sight of blood but just before his twelfth birthday he discovered his mother didn’t leave but was lying dead inside his dad’s freezer and his dad was lying in a pool of blood after killing himself. In spite of the fact that his dad beat him, he loved him but now he was put into an orphanage where his dad’s beatings were nothing compared to what he suffered there.

When his uncle finally took guardianship of him he learned what real abuse was because his uncle was a pervert and a homosexual who used him till he was eighteen. Instead of trying to go back to the orphanage he chose to stay with the monster he knew and not risk finding himself with a worse one.

Rick is trying to find the killer but there are no clues, no fingerprints, nothing to lead them to him. The only good thing that happened for him was he was reunited with his wife and child and this time was determined to change and be the husband his wife deserved. As time went by the case was cold but the killer was far from done and a finger is sent to Rick at the station with a note threatening to remove a body part every two days if Rick didn’t catch him, the note is signed PPP. The note was addressed to Rick personally and in time his connection with the killer would be revealed, but not by me.

Patricia Holmes a forensic psychologist is enlisted to help and she seems to have an uncanny insight into the killer but more are dead and they are no closer to catching him. This story is not for the weak of heart because some of the very explicit violence can be disturbing to say the least. The hunt for the killer is done so well that I could not put the book down. Although this is fiction it is scary in the fact that we know that monsters such as this exist and we have had our fair share in the United States.

I was hooked from the first page and watched as the killer was tormented his entire life and although I found myself feeling sorry for him at times I don’t believe that how you grew up is a cause for what you become when you are an adult. I can’t wait for the next book in the series and hopefully the wait won’t be too long.