Tag Archives: adventure

CAPTURED will capture your hearts

 

Title: Captured

Author: Michelle Areaux

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Adventure

Pages: 158

Release Date: 24 June 17

Blog Tour Date: 24  –  30 June 17
After their whirlwind time spent on the run, Hallie and Jackson return home. Though they must keep their relationship secret, they are finally together until Samuel enters the scene. Determined to become New York’s next big kingpin, Samuel plans to do whatever it takes to acquire his power, including holding Jackson ransom for a chunk of his father’s territory. Hallie and Jackson’s fathers try to rescue Jackson, but they move too slowly for Hallie’s liking. Will Hallie be successful when she decides to take matters into her own hands, or will she need rescuing herself?

CAPTURED is the exciting sequel to RUNAWAY.

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Buy CAPTURED by Michelle Areaux at AmazonGoogle PlayiBookstoreKobo, and Barnes & Noble Nook.

Also by Michelle Areaux

RUNAWAY– Book 1 of the RUNAWAY Series

Do you trust me?

Those four, simple words would transform seventeen-year-old Hallie Romano’s life.

After Hallie and gorgeous, lifelong friend, Jackson, witness a brutal murder, she has to make a decision—should she trust Jackson and run away, or stay behind and deal with the fallout of what she has witnessed?

Haunted by the crime, Hallie flees in search of safety and freedom. On the run, she attempts to seek some kind of normalcy while keeping one step ahead in a twisted game of chase where she and Jackson are the hunted.

Besides the fact that her father is a mob boss who ordered the hit, the most difficult obstacle for Hallie to overcome is her growing attraction to Jackson. Will they ever make a new life for themselves and move forward despite the dangerous world they left behind?

About Michelle Areaux

Michelle Areaux is the author of the Wicked Cries series. Her love for literature began at an early age and flourished over the years into a passion. Currently, she resides in Nicholasville, KY with her husband Anthony, and sons Connor and Cooper. Social Media Links:

Learn more about Michelle and her books at

Goodreads | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Blog |

 Guest Post by Michelle Areaux

Hi, fantastic readers,

My name is Michelle Areaux and I write young adult fiction novels. I am so excited to have this opportunity today to share my love of writing, young adult literature, and coffee!

So, if you are reading this today, it is easy to say that you love books. As a writer, my true passion, above all in this industry, is a common love and passion for great books. From the time I read the Babysitters’ Club books to Judy Blume and then on to Sharon Dessen, I have always been a fan of a compelling story. From a gripping plotline, characters that make me scream and cry, to a scene that makes me hold my breath; it was that obsession that pushed and motivated my desire to become a writer.

My mom has said that I began writing stories from the moment I could pick up a pencil. I guess that is true, but I didn’t begin developing those stories into books until high school. From there, I began creating novels. My first novel, Wicked Cries combined my love of the Salem Witch Trials, paranormal romances, and humor. Now, as I write Wicked Endings: Book 4 of the Wicked Cries Series and prepare to release my fifth novel, Captured, I find my desire to continue writing these types of novels keeps increasing.

I have been asked many times why I write young adult novels and not adult romance. My answer has always been and will be that I write what I love to read. I think all adults are still teens at heart. We all still remember our first best friend. The first person we had a “‘real” crush on, and the first time we dreamed and imagined a wonderfully unique world far different from our own. That inner child is why I write books from a sixteen to seventeen year old’s perspective. I write worlds where my readers can relate to a fear, desire, or love a character feels. While I have dabbled in adult romance novels under a pen name (you can e-mail me to learn that name), my true love remains young adult literature.

Many people have asked me how I am able to keep producing so many novels, teach middle school English, and be a parent and a wife. The only answer I can give is that I drink TONS of coffee. I find that the night is the only time I can find solitude to write. My coffee addiction, as my husband loves to call it, keeps me awake as I journey through the night to write the crazy and sometimes wild images that float through my mind.

Now, I can sit here and lie to you all and tell you that writing is easy and publishing is a piece of cake, but, I won’t do that. First, writing is difficult—there is no cookie-cutter format to use or a strategy that everyone can work with. The way I write may sound crazy to another writer, however, my best advice if you want to become a writer is this: just write. If you have an idea or see a scene unfold in your mind, write it down. I don’t start on page 1 and end on the last page. No, I may begin my book with a big conflict scene, then, move a few chapters over to a big revealing scene or romantic moment between two characters. As I write the “meat” of my story, I always go back and fill in the gaps later. Again, that works for me, but it may not work for you. Find your own voice and tool that helps you grow as a writer. Next, publishing is not as simple as it sounds. You have self-publishing, vanity publishing, traditional publishing, and the big 5 publishers.

Since we are all friends here, I’ll tell you that I was once scammed by a vanity publisher. I fell into the trap of a catchy pick-up line and the dream of becoming the next J. K. Rowling. It wasn’t until I saw that I wasn’t receiving my truthful royalties and that my novels were not being edited as I was told they would be that I decided to get out of that mess. I was left scared, alone, and feeling like I had somehow failed and wasn’t a good writer. I could have stopped my dream of becoming a writer, but I didn’t. Quitting just isn’t my style—I guess I’m  just too stubborn.

So, as a once published author, I soon discovered EMSA Publishing. Elise Abram scooped in and saved me. She has now published my Wicked Cries series, Runaway, Captured and will continue to publish my novels until she gets sick of me. Ha, I hope not— just trying to throw a little joke in there!

I wish this wasn’t a common occurrence, but unfortunately, it is. There are so many deceiving people out there, ready and willing to take your money with the hope you’ll believe their lies. Please, don’t fall for their schemes. Do your research when finding a publisher. Ask other authors in Facebook author groups about that publisher. Search for their books online. Or, if you decide self-publishing is more your scene, try that, too. There are fabulous cover design artists, promotional marketing companies, and editors out there. Again, do your research before committing to anything. Regardless of which path you choose, please follow your dreams. I did, and I hope you do, too.

With love,

Michelle Areaux

New Release: UNAWQI, HUNTER OF THE SUN

Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun

Unawqi_Hunter_of_th_Cover_for_Kindle-194x300In a time when supernatural and industrial worlds are staged to collide, an Andean boy finds himself in the center of an epic struggle between the cosmos and the earth. Unawqi is born with both insurmountable power and a fate of certain death, both of which are challenged by his hunt of the emperor, Aakti, the Sun: the very force that desires to abandon the earth unless Unawqi can overcome him.

Genres: Mythical realism, Folklore, Science fiction, Adventure, LGBTQ.

How easily we take the Sun for granted. We are conditioned to its rising and setting on time, and assume it enjoys doing so, or more likely is indifferent. Unawqi, Hunter of the Sunreveals a more perilous tale: the Sun, Aakti, is a being who is a reluctant player in providing light and warmth to our world, and even more has always desired to leave us to die if he didn’t have certain personal complications standing in his way. Aakti will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if that involves murder of his own kin or annihilation of an entire living planet. Ironically, what holds him back is the very life he is creating; the family from which he tries to but cannot wrest control, and among them a young intrepid boy emerges, a hunter who sets out on a journey, not to stop the Sun, but to overcome him with a force we also take for granted: our humanity.

Buy Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun on Amazon and Kindle.

Enjoy an Excerpt: Chaper 2 – The Unawqi Awakening

Titu Ilumán walked quickly, his steps close together, to keep the altitude from decaying his pace.  He was in a hurry, but he knew the Quijos canyon well enough to calculate it would defeat him if he broke into a run.

He clutched his treasure beneath his punchu, Aakti Amurugana, words from an ancient language no longer spoken, but everyone knew what they meant.

He was carrying the seeds of the Sun.

At that moment, Titu knew what he had, but he would not comprehend the devastation that would come from them.

He only knew of the seeds from legends he had heard as a child, legends he’d come to mock.  He was unlike most everyone else.  He was not a believer in legends, and so he had forgotten their important details.

The legends say Aakti, the Sun, is not an unfeeling object in the sky.  It is not an it, but a he, a being, no different than are we.  He has a relationship with us, albeit a contentious one.  He is none other than the emperor of earth and sky, who is to be both worshipped and feared.

And here, Titu, a rather common man, had stolen the emperor’s seeds from the hands of his newborn son while his first cries of life were still piercing his ears from the valley floor below.  Titu knew what he had done, but he bristled at the notion of his deed as a theft.  The way he thought of it was that if he were the father of the child, then the seeds delivered through this birth were his rightful property.

Besides, Titu had a further motive.  He was born in a place where his ancestors had been for thousands of years, but it was also on the edge of “the next world,” as his parents put it.  Just over the next few hills from his own village, a people with pale skin had built their own village, made up of strange buildings, with everything laid out in squares.  They were driven and ambitious. They behaved as if nature was theirs to command, and they used tools he had never seen before that were efficient.  Titu craved to be a part of “the next world” and was a malcontent at home, uncomfortable with leaving the supernatural to gods and magicians.  Mysteries were gifts meant to be unwrapped, he believed.  They should be studied, tamed, and put to use for the purpose of advancing the lot of people like him, and not just the pale town a few hills away.

His parents did not encourage him as much.  They wanted to maintain the family tradition and see Titu growing cassava and plantain as had they and their parents.  But from the first time Titu lay ill in the house of the local shaman, he wanted to know what was in the bowls and baskets lining the healer’s walls, and how it worked according to nature, and not according to magic.  His parents chided him for asking, for such matters were not his business to know, which made Titu all the more determined to know.

In a larger drama, Titu was the next in line to be in possession of the Aakti Amurugana, but this was the first transfer of hands in almost a millennium, as they had gone missing for 888 years.  The emperor and the world did not know where they were, but in truth, they had been held captive all that time by the sorcerer of Antisana, the one they called Moche.

Moche was a completely foreign entity to the people of the Quijos.  He was not of the family of the mountains, but a demon who had usurped the mountain in his control, burying its rightful goddess somewhere inside.  Where he came from, no one knew, but his ways, though different, were also wanting of the Sun.

The local people feared him terribly, for he would hunt them and bring them back to the mountain to be sacrificed, drinking their blood, saying it pleased the Sun, even though this was not according to anything they believed or practiced.

As far as Titu was concerned, he didn’t care to think about all of that.  The seeds were the most powerful medicine he could ever hope to find, and there were no parents this time to deny him from taking and demystifying this magic.  This was an extraordinary opportunity for him to become a legend himself, if he could but harness the power of the seeds.

Still, the fact that he was running arrested his conscience.  He was a fugitive, and he knew it.  He had to leave Tamaya behind, a woman whom, at one time, he could not keep himself from.  She was weak and without aid, the blood of her womb flowing, cold, onto the floor of her grass-roofed hut.

Titu loved her, and many times had thought of bringing her home to marry her, but he’d convinced himself he was protecting her from danger.  A great many powerful people–sorcerers, kings, witches–would kill to have Aakti Amurugana.  He needed to get them far away from Tamaya to keep her safe, so far that his footprints would be lost, even if it meant Tamaya would never be able to see him again.

Tamaya never laid her eyes on the seeds because her eyes were closed tight with labor’s pain when they were snatched from the child’s hand.  So for her, Titu’s sudden flight was as mysterious as it was cruel.

Lost in his thoughts, Titu stumbled over a stone in his path.  He rolled down the side of the canyon, and would have encountered his death if another death had not encountered him first.  The still warm belly of a dead, black goat was braced to the edge of a cliff, bleeding, having succumbed to a thicket of tarapacana.  Its bulging eyes stared directly into Titu’s as if pleading with him, a little too late.

Titu had been told to beware if he ever saw a dead, black goat in the wild, for it was an omen of a bad future, so he delicately raised himself to his knees, and blessed the goat with a nod of awe, fearing it might awaken from the dead.  The black goat’s eyes would not leave him as Titu pulled himself back up the hillside.

Those eyes would never leave him.

Through the indigo night he ran west over the Papallacta plateau.  The seeds under his punchu harassed him with a gravitational clash, some craving the fleeting sun in front of him, others pulling toward the cries of the child behind him.  He wondered if the seeds were his captives or his captors.  Who had the greater power, him or them? What if the seeds were to forever maintain two opinions?

When the Sun, the emperor Aakti, passed over the valley the next day, he sensed his amurugana had reemerged, and that they were pulling at him from the west.  This meant they had been stolen, yet again, after 888 years of captivity, and Aakti heated up with anger, ready to burn the grass roofs of the huts underneath him into ashes.

But Tamaya, who had only the knowledge of an abandoned child suffering in the merciless heat, and none of the seeds, cried out for Moche, the sorcerer of Antisana, to save her, to send wind or rain to contest the Sun.

Little did she know that Moche well knew why Aakti had been angered.  Moche himself had kept Aakti Amurugana successfully concealed from the emperor for almost nine centuries, and now he had been robbed of them, the same as Aakti.  He wanted them back, just as much as the emperor, and was pleased this call from a common woman would give him a head start on retrieving them.

Having heard Tamaya calling, Moche put some coca leaves in his mouth, chewed them, and spit out a plume, high into the air, making the sky sneeze, expelling a squall of hail into the valley, and throwing a blanket under the Sun.

When the squall settled, Aakti had fled west to hunt for his seeds.  Tamaya had barely a moment to be grateful when Moche showed up at her door to collect his debt.

He was a scrawny demon, no taller than Tamaya’s waist.  He looked like any of the other people of the valley, but seven times older than old.  His clothes were scavenged from whatever travelers had lost in the mountains: a white Cañari hat, loosely enveloping his tiny head; an Otavaleño scarf he had fashioned into a vest; and pants made from of a sack that probably had carried spices from the Amazon.

He held out his shriveled hand.

“I saved you from Aakti, but he wants what is mine.  Give me the child before the emperor returns.”

The startled mother looked at the little sorcerer, no bigger than her dog, but with enough strength to squash her like an ant between his fingers.  She knew well Moche’s traditions, and of his sacrifices.

“But this is my son!  I cannot let him go!” Tamaya contested.

“Listen to me,” Moche warned, “for I will only tell you this once.  You will not survive tomorrow if you stay, and you will surely die in the caves of Antisana where the child and I will live.  Run away, east into the cloud forest, where the emperor does not know your name and will pass over you.  The child will only be safe with me.  Everything else will die.”

Helpless and terrified, Tamaya ran from Moche, but though he was smaller, he was faster, and stronger.  He caught up with her and pulled the child into his arms, pushing Tamaya down and onto the ground.  She screamed at him for mercy, and tried to pursue him, but the sorcerer stamped his foot on the ground creating a wide hole between them that she could not cross.

Despite his size, Moche had no problem bearing the weight.  He carried the child away without hurry and disappeared over a hill, and Tamaya wept until she had no voice left with which to scream.  Now both Titu and her child were gone.  All that she had were the words of Moche saying the child will live.  She resolved to find a scheme to get him back.

Fearing for the emperor’s return and destroying the rest of her life around her, Tamaya quickly packed her things, gathered her goats, and fled down into the cloud forest, as Moche had told her to do.  But once there, the forest closed around her and she lost the trail she had made.  She could not find her way back to the valley, as much as she tried.

Moche brought the child into the cool underworld of Antisana, a spectacle of a thousand tunnels and crystal streams, with glowing pools of azure-colored lava emitting light and warmth.  It was a land the emperor had never seen, the land where his seeds had once been held prisoner.

The sorcerer entered a chamber so grand it seemed to have a sky of its own, its clerestory heights filled with flying bats, ventilating the air.  There, he laid the sleeping child down on a bed of eucalyptus leaves, and one of the bats flew down and hung over the child’s head to protect him.

“The day will come,” Moche whispered to the sleeping child, “when the Sun will forget you, but I, on the other hand, have found you, and you are now mine.  I will train you to be a hunter, but not of mere beasts.  You will hunt for the atama who stole my seeds in the night, and return them here to my keeping.  Aakti Amurugana: they are crying for you already; I know you hear them.  They need you to keep them planted, here in the world.  Until then, I know who you are.  You are the most gifted creature to ever touch the earth.  You are…Unawqi!”

The child awoke upon hearing his name, and cried like a shrill flute from another world, and all the million bats in the chamber fell stunned to the floor.

About the author:

papakaliPapaKali is the brainchild of Kali Kucera, an American artist, lorist, and entrepreneur.

Since he was 9 years old he has been composing plays, operas, short stories, and multi-disciplinary experiences. He has been both a teacher and performer as well as an arts mobilizer, and founded the Tacoma Poet Laureate competition in 2008.

After some time being a teller, Kali was concerned about the absence of both original and local lore, and no one seemed to be preserving the tradition of creating new narratives, tales, and myth about why the world around us is the way it is. He therefore devoted his energy to filling this void with PapaKali, beginning with tales of the South Sound and continuing with new tales emerging from the inspiration of the high Andes of South America, where Kali currently lives while also running a bus travel information service called AndesTransit (http://andestransit.com).

It is important to understand that in PapaKali lore, self-standing stories are often interconnected with other stories. Characters in one story will appear in a completely different context of another story, hence establishing a pantheon upon which lore can be constructed. The second important aspect is that the stories often change; they live and breathe as the influences of new narratives emerge to support the interconnectedness.

As a reader, therefore, we urge you to not read these like a book, but more like the oral tradition upon which they more appropriately relate. Check back on them to see how nuances have changed like you would listen to a story being told every year around a campfire.

Learn more about Papakali and Kali Kucera on his website at papakali.com.

Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure

Resolution-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalMy name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Elise has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new novel RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. I think it’s a good book, but what do I know? Anyway, I’m kinda shy about tooting my own horn. So I think I’ll turn things over to my dog, Danny the Dog. He always has a bad attitude and usually does not speak highly of me. But please understand that we co-exist as the old Soviet Union and the United States co-existed. We tolerate each other. So without further ado, here’s Danny.

Andrew took me away from chasing the neighborhood cats to help him out here. For a person that works with words for a living, he has very little to say in real life. He wants me to tout his book for him, but I don’t think I will. Instead, I think I’ll tell you about our latest adventure. We’re always having adventures, and I like to write about them. And what I write about is 100% true.

I am fearless. I am Danny the Dog and—to be redundant—I fear nothing. I chase squirrels, chickens, raccoons, ducks, and of course, cats. However, there is one thing that kind of gets to me, and that is thunder. I don’t know why that is. Andrew once told me I should go to a doggie psychiatrist and have a past-life regression. He said maybe in a past life I had a run-in with Thor, the god of thunder. Did I ever tell you that Andrew is an idiot?

Usually I have very little to do with him. I take him for a walk a couple of times a day. I allow him to feed me and give me treats, but for the most part, he goes his way and I go mine. However, when it thunders, I want to be as close to him as possible. He’s always on the computer. He went nuts a few years ago and threw the television out the window and he hasn’t replaced it yet. So there he sits, staring at the computer screen day after day. He tells me he’s trying to write, but I know better. He’s waiting for someone to email him, but no one ever does. Anyway, back to me.

So, when it thunders, I crawl up on his lap and come between him and his precious computer. But I have to hand it to the old reprobate, he stops what he’s doing, puts his arm around me and tells me not to worry.

As soon as the storm passes, I jump down and go back to ignoring him and he goes back to whatever he was doing, probably on a dating site begging some poor female to go out with him. (They never do.)

Danny %26 ThunderThe accompanying picture (right) was taken during the height of a thunderstorm. I want you all to know that I usually don’t look so forlorn. Now if you will excuse me, there’s a mother duck and her babies swimming by our boat and I have to go and bark at them. After all, this is my turf and I must defend it to the last bark . . .  because I am fearless.

That’s about it from Dannyland for now. If I hurry, I might be able to catch an old movie on TCM. My two favorite movie stars are Rin Tin Tin and Lassie.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot—go out and buy Andrew’s book.

AndrewThis is Andrew again. On behalf of Danny and myself, I would like to thank Elise for having us over. It’s been a real pleasure.

Buy Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure on Amazon and Smashwords.

Excerpt from “Breathe” by Christine Grey

Breathe-Final Cover (1)

About Breathe by Christine Grey (from Amazon.com):

Dearra comes into possession of the magical Sword of Cyrus just as the evil Breken attack her island home. Though her people succeed in driving their enemy back to the sea, one of the invaders remains behind, left for dead by his cruel kin. Now, Dearra doesn’t know what to be more surprised by, the fact that her sword can speak to her, or that it has imperiously informed her that the handsome Breken warrior is her destiny. The two are bound together by a chain of events that was set into motion a thousand years earlier, and everything they thought they knew about themselves, their history, and their future is about to change.

Buy Breathe on Amazon.

Excerpt from Breathe

Dearra bolted upright at the voice that seemed to come from all around her and inside her head at the same time.

“Who is it? Who’s there?” She meant to speak with authoritative calm, but the words came out in a pitiful squeak.

You really aren’t very bright, are you? came the response, the voice flowing around her and through her.

She leapt from the bed, dropped to the floor, and looked beneath it.

Not even warm, taunted the voice.

Dearra sprang to the window and tore aside the heavy drapery…nothing.

It will come to you. I know you can do this. Connect the dots, girl.

Dearra’s gaze drifted back to her bed and the sword that waited for her on top of the soft coverlet. But it couldn’t be, could it? It was impossible, wasn’t it? Dearra took a small, tentative step back toward the sword. What else could it be? She took another step.

Ah, success! There may be hope for you after all, girl.

Coming to a stop at the bedside, Dearra let her weak knees have their way, and she sank to the floor in shock.

“How are you…? I mean…what are you…? I mean…Wow! You can talk!” The words tumbled from her in a confused jumble.

Yes, yes, very good, girl. You’ve not only managed to grasp the obvious, but you almost succeeded in completing a coherent sentence. Very, very impressive. I can see we’re going to get on famously.

It was impressive, when you considered it, Dearra thought, that without facial expression to assist, one could convey that level of sarcasm.

Thank you; I try.

“Have you always been able to talk?”

Certainly. I am incredibly intelligent, even for my kind.

Your kind? Are there other swords like you?”

Of course not; I am quite unique. And as to ‘my kind’, well, that is a story for another day, if I decide I can tolerate you well enough to share that kind of personal information with you.

Dearra sniffed lightly. “Not too full of yourself, are you?”

The sword paused, as if considering the question seriously before responding. No, I should think I am full of myself just the right amount.

Dearra wrapped her arms around herself as a fit of giggles shook her from head to toe. She slowly regained control, as the events of only an hour ago came flooding back, and a frown creased her brow.

The deep sadness was about to take hold again when the sword spoke brusquely. Now, now, none of that. We have much to discuss and much to do, and curling yourself back into a useless ball on the bed won’t get us anywhere. Unless, of course, you wish to reconsider the whole notion of death by cliff. That would certainly save me a fair bit of trouble.

Dearra scowled at the sword and snapped, “No, I have myself quite under control now, thank you.”

Good. Now, what else would you like to know before we save Darius?

“Well, I guess I would like to know…Wait—who’s Darius?”

Excellent, girl! You grasped that one much more quickly. You’re improving.

Exasperation dripping from Dearra’s tongue as she fought to control her simmering temper, she said, “Could you please just answer the question?”

Darius is the Breken warrior I saved from you earlier today. The one that little man so thoughtlessly clubbed on the head.

Dearra was stunned. “Wait! He lives?” she said.

Wouldn’t make much sense to save him if he were already dead, would it?

Dearra was overwhelmed. The image of the handsome Breken warrior shimmered in her mind. Questions came in a steady stream and her pulse quickened. How had he managed to survive such a vicious blow to the head? How did the sword know he was alive, and why was it so important she save him?

Are you quite finished?

It was amazing how quickly Dearra had gotten used to someone responding to the thoughts she hadn’t spoken out loud. Strangely, it felt like remembering a skill she had been born with and forgotten from lack of use.

Firstly, I have no idea. The Breken have hard heads, what can I say? Secondly, I know a lot of things you don’t and do not feel the need to share the whys and hows of it with you, and lastly, because we need him to get back that little brother of yours so you won’t spend the rest of your life in a useless catatonic state. Oh, and he’s your destiny, which I suppose you may find an interesting piece of trivia, though hardly useful.

Dearra nearly choked. “My what?”

He’s not going to be your anything if we don’t get moving. They’re about to find him. You may want to hurry things along a bit, girl.

Scooping the sword from the bed, Dearra raced from her room and down the winding staircase, past the shocked faces of Daniel and Hugh, and out into the courtyard.

Not knowing what else to do, the men followed behind her. The look they shared clearly conveyed their fear that Dearra had lost her mind, perhaps as a side effect to the terrible loss of Pip. They were not really trying to catch her, just follow her to make sure she wouldn’t hurt herself in her mad dash to Cyrus only new where.

Coming to a skidding halt at the gate, she asked out loud, “Where now? I can’t remember where I was.”

Take the path east out of the castle, cross the stream, and you should hear them. Hurry, girl!

As she sprinted over the bridge, familiar voices came to her. The hatred and anger in their tone made her feet slow to a gentle trot so she could make out what they were saying more clearly.

“Run him through!”

“He’s half dead already.”

“Evil spawn doesn’t deserve to live.”

Dearra felt shock cross her features as she came around the small clump of bushes that had hidden the scene from view. This was not the behavior she expected from the people of Maj. Certainly, they had a right to be angry; their home had been invaded, their lives put in jeopardy, friends and family injured, and dear Pip had been taken from them. This last thought sent a shiver through her. But to speak with such bitter hatred and eager anticipation of the death of another, even a Breken, made Dearra’s blood run cold. Then she saw him and it all clicked together.

Jacob stood back and a little away from the others, but there was no doubt in her mind as to who had stirred the people into this angry mob. Jacob was not born to the isle but had joined them three seasons ago. He seemed a quiet and unassuming addition to their group, but wherever trouble was, so too would be Jacob, usually whispering in someone’s ear. Her father tolerated Jacob, hoping that, eventually, the people of Maj would rub off on him, making him into a useful and productive part of the community. Dearra had her doubts as to their potential for success, but it seemed important to her father so she held her tongue.

Sitting part way up, his back propped against a large stone, Darius held his sword out in front of him. It was a futile gesture; his arm shook so badly from the effort it took simply to hold the sword, there would be no force behind any swing he could manage. His black hair was matted from the head wound he had received from Daniel, and the blood that had run so freely had dried to form a gruesome mask covering the left side of his face. Dearra’s eyes met his for just a moment, but it was long enough to see recognition flitter across his features.

“What’s going on here?” she said evenly, meeting each pair of eyes that looked to her own.

Hugh and Daniel walked around the same cluster of bushes Dearra had passed and moved to stand behind her.

“I said, what’s going on here?” her tone became sharper.

Several of the people dropped their heads. Shame washed over them as they realized what they had been about to do.

Jacob stepped forward, and with no hint of remorse in his voice as he addressed Dearra, said, “We were about to exterminate a pest, Dearra. You’ve been through enough today. Return to the castle, and let us deal with this unpleasant business.”

“No,” she stated simply.

Oh, that’s wonderful, girl. I am sure everything will be fine now.

“You be quiet,” she mumbled. “I can handle this.”

Concerned glances flitted about the assembled group at what appeared to be Dearra speaking to herself. But one set of eyes widened almost imperceptibly as Darius, from his prone position, looked first at Dearra and then to the sword she held.

“I don’t understand, Dearra,” Jacob said, speaking as if to a half-wit. “No? You wish to kill him yourself, then?”

“There has been enough pain today, Jacob. Are you so eager to bloody your hands against this defenseless man? Besides, he may prove useful in restoring my brother to us.”

Very nice, what an excellent notion, girl. Did you think of that all by yourself?

I’m trying to diffuse the situation, Dearra thought. Be still, and let me try to fix this. That is what you wanted isn’t it?

Humph, came the reply.

“Be reasonable, Dearra,” Jacob whined like a child who was not getting his way. “He’s dangerous. Let us put an end to him quickly. It will be more merciful than his kind would be for any of us.”

Hugh stepped forward and put his hand upon Dearra’s shoulder, silencing the sharp retort he knew was coming. “Dearra speaks wisely. This Breken may indeed prove useful in returning Phillip to us. In any case, I will not make a decision that could affect us all in haste. Take him to the keep and lock him in the lower store room. The apples have not yet been harvested; use that room. Bar the door, and put two guards outside.”

Disarming him with ease, they picked the young man roughly from the ground, and half dragged, half carried him toward the castle. Dearra trailed a short way behind to make sure they did not get too enthusiastic in their efforts to hurry him along.

Darius’s eyes were everywhere at once. He surveyed his surroundings anxiously, trying to commit to memory any opportunity for escape. What he could do to escape an island, with no boat, and no one looking for him, was a detail he ignored for the moment. At that instant, he was simply grateful to be breathing; he would work the rest out later.

They took him to a room one level below the main keep. It was cool and dry and held the faintest aroma of fruit. He leaned against the dirt wall and slid less than gracefully to the smooth, plank floor. Empty baskets of varying sizes were strewn about in haphazard stacks, waiting to be needed again.

Dearra took one last, long, lingering look, and then firmly shut the door. Jacob volunteered to be one of the guards, and since she could think of no reason to object, she let him have his way. She was comforted, however, when the much milder tempered Bryan stepped forward as the second volunteer.

Dearra’s footsteps echoed through the deserted corridors as she made her way back to her personal chamber. Her thoughts were a twisted mass as she relived, over and over, the moment she saw her brother on the Breken ship, his innocent face pale, and his eyes wide in fear. The cold black, eyes of his captor were too far away to really be visible, yet she knew they had been filled with triumph at his victory over the people of Maj. Then her mind remembered the eyes of another, golden brown, holding her captive and refusing to let her look away, and she shook her head trying to rid herself of the image. Dearra swept up the stairs into her room and dropped the sword onto her bed, unceremoniously. She scanned her room until she found what she was looking for, and made her way to the jumbled pile of objects near the fireplace.

Where do you think you’re going?

“To my father and Daniel, and then back to our strange…um…guest. His wound needs attention,” Dearra explained. She pushed aside a pair of mud-caked pants and a torn vest she kept meaning to repair, and scooped up the bag in which she kept her supply of healing medicines, assorted bandages, and basic medical instruments.

Fine. Leave me here, then. Abandon me. I’ll just wait until you are content to give me your attention once more.

“Yeah,” Dearra responded, distracted. “That would be great, thanks.” Turning back toward the bed, she asked, “Hey, what’s your name?” almost casually.

My name, girl, is ancient. I am descended from… well, never mind that. My name is a thing of power and awe. I am called Brin’du Drak’Tir, the sword said brimming with pride.

Dearra absorbed the name, briefly, finding it cumbersome and awkward in her mouth. “Ok, I’ll just call you Brin,” she responded, pleased with her solution to the problem of the funny name.

Decidedly offended, taken aback that anyone could be so casual about a thing of such monumental importance, the sword shot back, Fine! And I shall call you Big Fuzzy Animal with Antlers.

“Yeah, yeah. Deal,” Dearra said, as she whisked from the room.

***

Forgetting her plans to speak to her father and Daniel first, Dearra flew through the halls and down the short set of stairs leading to the storerooms. Heart pounding, she came to a stop in front of Bryan and Jacob. They looked at Dearra, and then at one another in confusion.

“Well? What are you waiting for?” Dearra demanded. “Open the door!”

“But, Dearra,” Bryan stammered, clearly at a loss for words.

“Absolutely not!” Jacob stated. “Lord Hugh ordered us to keep watch over the prisoner!”

“So? Keep watch. No one’s stopping you.” Dearra took a step forward and placed a hand on the heavy board barring the door. As she braced herself to lift the board up and out of her way, Jacob’s hand clamped down on her upper arm.

“I said, no, Dearra.”

“Let go of me immediately.” Dearra’s voice was calm and cool, but a bolt of panic swept through her as the grip tightened painfully around her arm. Her temper flared to life. She saw Bryan take a step back, recognizing the golden flames that sprang to life in Dearra’s eyes. Bryan had always been a friend to Dearra, and the look of fear on his face unsettled her where nothing else would have. Though the pain in her arm increased along with the pressure of Jacob’s grip, Dearra took a slow deep breath before speaking in as calm a voice as she could muster under the circumstances, “You’re hurting me.” Dearra’s voice shook with the effort it was costing her to remain in control, but only slightly so.

Bryan’s eyes popped wide open, and his jaw dropped as far as it could go as he stared at the scene in front of him in disbelief.

Two sounds came to Dearra almost simultaneously, one in her head, the other clearly coming from the other side of the door. The first was easily recognizable.

I’ll bet you wish I was there now, don’t you, Fuzzy? Her sword spoke in an ‘I told you so’ manner that grated on her nerves. And that nickname was going to wear quickly thin.

Who knew the blasted thing could hear her thoughts even when it wasn’t with her?

The second sound was indistinguishable at first, but as it grew in intensity, there could be no doubt the prisoner behind the heavy door was…no, he couldn’t be…but he was. Dearra could clearly hear that the fierce Breken warrior was…growling a low, throaty sound. Jacob hastily loosened his hold, though he did not let go completely.

Things could have gone badly had Daniel not chosen that exact moment to make an appearance at the base of the stairs.

Daniel spoke, and the fierce growl coming from behind the door ceased abruptly.

“Is everything alright here, Dearra?” Daniel’s eyes (and ears for that matter), had assessed the situation rapidly, and if he were to be honest with himself, he had to say that, in this circumstance, he was completely with the Breken.

Jacob took a wise step away from Dearra before speaking again. “Of course, Daniel.” A simpering smile appeared on Jacob’s face as he continued. “Dearra was…confused. She thought to enter the room with the Breken dog, and so, naturally, I had to protect her.”

“Protect her from what, exactly? One injured man against Dearra with the two of you standing guard just feet away? Open the door, Jacob,” Daniel said, daring Jacob to contradict his instructions, “and when you’ve finished with that, please fetch Serah to take your place at watch. You’ve clearly had a busy day and are deserving of some rest.”

“You want Serah, Daniel? Wouldn’t one of the men be better suited to…?”

Daniel raised one brow at the now tongue tied Jacob, who went at once to remove the board barring the way to the prisoner, then turned and left without another word.

“I’ll be right here for you, Dearra. Until Serah arrives.”

“Thank you, Daniel.” Dearra reached out, patted Daniel’s arm in gratitude, and walked into the storeroom turned cell.

A scowl grew on Dearra’s face as she saw no blankets, nor food, nor even water, for that matter, had been brought to the prisoner. She quickly stuck her head back through the door and instructed Bryan to bring some of each to her immediately. Having witnessed Daniel’s ire with Jacob, Bryan didn’t need to be told twice, and was gone almost before Dearra was done speaking. Dearra closed the door before turning back to her patient and lowered herself beside him on the wooden floor. He was large, of course, but seemed smaller than many of the Breken she had seen earlier that day. He was, maybe, only six and a half feet tall. His skin was the beautiful, copper color she remembered from their earlier encounter, though it was harder to see now, with only one small torch lighting the room. His thick, black hair looked even blacker, if that was possible, with the blood matted and dried in the strands. And then there were his eyes, made even more glorious by the flickering light of the torch, that deep, rich brown with flashes of gold. They looked right into Dearra, and her breath quickened, and she had to look away. She busied herself opening her bag, and laying out all of the contents before her to better evaluate what she would need. The young Breken watched her intently as she worked; she could feel his eyes on her as she arranged and rearranged bandages, unguents and salves in a neat row.

Bryan returned with the water, two blankets, and some fresh bread and soft cheese. Dearra handed the young warrior a chunk of bread and some of the chilled water, and dipped a soft cloth in the bowl of steaming water Bryan had brought in anticipation of her needs. He shied away as she reached to begin cleaning his head wound, but then held himself still as she worked. Dearra noticed the pained look on his face and paused.

“What is it?” she asked hesitantly. “Am I hurting you? You can tell me if I am. Please, you look so…strange.”

He didn’t speak, but raised a hand, ever so slowly, and traced the bruise just beginning to show on her upper arm.

Dearra froze at his touch and the jolt running down her arm as his fingers brushed, feather light over the red bloom making itself evident on her pale skin.

“Why?” he asked softly, the deep timbre to his voice strong and menacing in the small room.

“Well…” Dearra spoke the word and had to swallow to begin again, the feel of his hand on her arm making her mouth go suddenly dry. “I have always bruised easily. It’s a terrible nuisance, but I’ve gotten used to it.”

“That’s not what I meant,” he said, and though his hand had dropped back to his side, his eyes never left the mark marring her porcelain skin. “I meant, why did you do it? Why did you challenge him just to come in here?”

“Oh! Well, you needed attention. Your wounds aren’t going to clean themselves, you know.” She was relieved to have such a simple answer to give, though he seemed genuinely startled by her response.

Dearra dipped the cloth in the water again and continued to do what she could to clean the nasty lump at the back of the Breken’s head. She leaned in close in the dim light, to get a closer look, probing as gently as she could to make sure the injury wasn’t more serious than it seemed.

The silence of the room enveloped her, and she couldn’t, at first, identify what had changed. She looked down at the Breken sitting placidly before her, and realized that, in her effort to get a better view, she had provided the Breken with a view of his own—her chest was directly in front of his face. His jaw was clenched tightly, and his eyes stared straight ahead, as though he were completely unaware of what was right before him, but Dearra noticed that the silence she had sensed had been due to the fact that the fierce warrior was no longer breathing in his efforts to remain completely still. She eased back from him and returned to her bag of supplies pretending to not have noticed the awkward moment, but she couldn’t stop the grin that spread across her face when she heard him exhale loudly behind her.

She finished with her task, and after gently covering him in one of the blankets, turned to leave.

“Wait!”

Dearra turned back to face him as he spoke. “Yes?”

“Thank you…Dearra.”

His voice was rough and the words were spoken haltingly as if they words he was not used to speaking. She had not introduced herself, but it was not surprising that he knew her name, as at least a dozen people must have used it around him today. Still, it was presumptuous of him to speak to her with such familiarity without her consent.

A small smile lit her face and she said, “You are truly welcome…Darius.”

His eyes flew open wide, as he knew he had definitely not given his name to anyone.

Dearra left the room with a grin on her face. Let him ponder that for a while, she thought.

About the author:

BookChristine Grey lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Dan, and their seven children, three dogs, and two cats. With a family like that, she knows how important it is to escape from reality from time to time! She and her husband have grown their family through foster care adoption and are advocates for helping children find the permanency and support they all deserve. When she isn’t busy chasing children, running a household, or savoring a hot cup of tea, Christine spends her free time creating worlds of magic, romance, and humor.

Here’s how readers can learn more about Christine and her work.

| Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Email | 

Interview with Author Mark Pople

Please join Britbear’s Book Reviews in welcoming Mark Pople, author of Rogers Park, with an interview in today’s author spotlight.

About Rogers Park:

rogers park coverA shortcut led to the longest six weeks of Brian Casey’s life.

A high school English teacher and self-proclaimed Alfred Hitchcock junkie from a broken home, Brian has spent his entire life in Rogers Park, the bowels of North Chicago. He longs for a Hitchcockian revenge on the father who deserted him as a child.

Turning into the Farwell-Pratt alley on a bitter February afternoon, little does Brian know that the decision to take this particular shortcut will set into motion a chain of life-altering events. The first link in the chain is a trash bag thrown from a fire escape. The final link is a choice: forgive his father or watch him die. The links between – kinked and tangled, as happens when chains are kept in closets with skeletons – include addiction, F. Scott Fitzgerald, plagiarism, blackmail, and murder.

Rogers Park is a novel about the long road to forgiveness and the harrowing journey one man must endure to reach this destination.

Buy Rogers Park on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Black Rose Writing.

Welcome, Mark. You have lived many places, but your bio says you only lived in Rogers Park, Chicago, for a brief amount of time. What made you choose to set your story here instead of another location, one where you’ve spent more time?

There always seemed to be something lurking in Rogers Park. Some of the buildings sit only a five-foot sidewalk from the street, creating a sense of adventure for any pedestrian approaching an intersection. I admit it was probably just my overactive imagination at work, but whenever I turned one of these blind corners or stepped into a dark alley, I imagined mystery and intrigue awaiting me.  Then I was struck by Rogers Park – almost literally – when I strolled through an alley and someone dropped a trash bag from a third-story fire escape into an open dumpster. From this, a story was born.

Your bio also says you draw on your experience as an English teacher. Are you ever concerned about writing too much about the experience, or is the fact that you are retired (unlike myself) liberating in this respect?

Actually, it’s liberating that I can leave the teaching and the headaches that go along with it to a fictional character. As far as my protagonist being a teacher, I wanted to take an ordinary guy and put him in extraordinary circumstances. Making him a high-school teacher felt perfect. There are so many educators out there. It seems they are woefully under represented in suspense novels.

Rich Brown Gravy, South of the Calvary Curve…your novels have really interesting titles. How do you settle on titles for your manuscripts?

Rich Brown Gravy is a short story. The title comes from the story itself as it’s told from the point-of-view of a nine-year-old boy whose mother likes to serve her guests Shepherd’s Pie with “rich brown gravy.” For my second novel, South of the Calvary Curve, I had to come up with a title in a hurry as I was about to enter the first ten pages in a contest (which I won, by the way). I had three people read these ten pages and each wrote down three possible titles. I read all of them aloud, and together we chose the best of the nine.

Congratulations, Mark! Also, I like the idea of crowd sourcing a title.

Besides making the protagonist of Rogers Park an English teacher, are there any similarities between you and Brian Casey? If so, what are they? If not, then why?

I’ve been told by people who have read Rogers Park that I am Brian Casey. Of course I point out that he’s almost thirty years younger than me, but still they insist we’re the same person, and they’re probably right. We’re both easy-going guys who make a point of avoiding confrontation. Of course, that doesn’t work out so well for Brian.

The fact that we are similar is not a mistake. I think that when writing in first-person point of view, it’s easy to become the character, or vice-versa. Also, first-person lends itself to adding an authentic voice to your character. When that voice is your own, the authenticity is even greater.

On your website you say your next publication is South of the Calvary Curve. What might the blurb for this story look like?

It’s still early, and the conclusion of South of the Calvary Curve is playing the usual games, hiding in my subconscious, waiting to jump out and slap me across the face when I least expect it (I hate surprise parties). But if I was to supply a blurb for Calvary Curve right now, it might sound something like this:

Brian Casey, after his misadventures in Rogers Park, may think he’s returned to the mundane life of a high school English teacher. But when a former student, now a stripper named Summer Solstice, asks him to help her retrieve a stolen phone, his life is again plunged into chaos.

Describe the publication process. How did you find your publisher? What was the process like once you signed?

It was daunting, reading over and over again how difficult – next to impossible – it would be to get my debut novel published. Still, I persisted for five months, receiving over twenty rejections before Reagan Rothe and Black Rose agreed to read my manuscript. I found Black Rose Writing on a website called “Predators and editors.” I did my research and felt completely comfortable signing with them. Since signing, the process has been smooth. Everyone at BRW has been great.

Congratulations with that, too.

How do Alfred Hitchcock and F. Scott Fitzgerald figure into the content of Rogers Park?

An unusual combination, I admit. Brian Casey’s passion for Hitchcock is a way for him to vicariously add intrigue to his otherwise mundane life. Ironically, he finds himself entangled in a Hitchcockian web of plagiarism, blackmail, and murder.

As for F. Scott Fitzgerald, Brian is teaching The Great Gatsby to his Advanced Placement English class. As the story of Rogers Park progresses, he comes to realize some interesting parallels between his own life and Fitzgerald’s classic novel. But it is one specific Fitzgerald quote that makes the greatest impression on Brian. From this quote, he learns an important lesson about acceptance and forgiveness. Both of these influences, Hitchcock and Fitzgerald, play a part in the dramatic closing scene of Rogers Park.

Besides these authors, if you had to choose, who would you consider a writing mentor and why?

The authors whose style I have tried to emulate are John Updike and Richard Russo. Ultimately, I’ve discovered that I have my own style, and while I consider these writers to be great influences, I no longer feel the need to emulate anyone.

As for current mentors, I attend Roger Paulding’s weekly critique group here in Houston. Roger is the author of the Seney Chronicle series and the Jazzed series. He’s been a great mentor and I know he won’t mind the plug. You’re welcome, Roger.

Speaking of style and voice, how would you describe your writing style?

Writing should, in one form or another, seduce a reader. This can be accomplished through the use of a plot twist, a seductive suggestion, or even an unexpected use of words. I try to always keep my reader on his or her toes, give them something they don’t expect. As for my style, I guess I would describe it as literary and terse. These two adjectives may seem to contradict each other (see, keeping you on your toes) but I feel it works. Having studied and taught the classics, I find myself paying a great deal of attention to the structure of sentences and word choices. Still, I believe in using as few words as possible as long as every one of those words counts.

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you and your writing?

I’m so thankful for the support and well wishes I’ve received from everyone. I hope you enjoy Rogers Park.

Thanks for the interview, Mark.

Here’s where you can learn more about Mark Pople and his writing:

| Website | Facebook |

About Mark Pople:

Mark Pople is the winner of the Houston Writers House 2014 novel contest.mark pople photo

Born in Cambridge, England and raised in Pittsburgh, Mark’s literary sensibilities were most inspired by his brief stay in Rogers Park, a northern enclave of Chicago. He now resides in Houston.

Like his novel’s protagonist, Brian Casey, Mark is no stranger to the English classroom. His years spent teaching high school English in Houston, while thankfully not as eventful as those of Brian, served to whet his appetite for written words, occasionally even those of his students.

Mark is currently working on his second novel, South of the Calvary Curve.  He is a member of HWH and is active on Facebook. His email is mpople6@gmail.com.

The Maze Runner is Adventurous and Suspenseful

maze-runnerIn The Maze Runner by James Dashner, people are brought up from an underground cage and put into an enclosed area in the maze with a supply crate. Every month a new person is brought up along with a new supply crate. Thomas is brought up into the maze and when he is, weird things start to happen. Thomas gets curious of what’s beyond the walls but he’s not allowed to go beyond the enclosed area because he’s not a runner. A day after he comes into the maze, someone else comes in, which is odd because it’s usually once a month. When Teresa comes up, she’s the only girl there. In their supply crate they get a note saying that it was the last one. When one of the runners gets hurt, the other runners aren’t going to save him, so Thomas runs into the maze and gets stuck there. No one ever survives the night in the maze because of the grievers who will kill you if they see you. It’s up to Thomas to help everybody find their way out of the maze before it’s too late.

I liked The Maze Runner because it was very suspenseful. Thomas is a strong character because he won’t take no for an answer. He does whatever he needs to in order to get out of the maze instead of just standing there and accepting that this is his life. When Teresa enters the maze it changes how the maze runs and how they had to live their lives. Though Teresa is unconscious for most of the story, she is able to talk to Thomas through her mind which was an interesting twist.

I recommend The Maze Runner to anyone who likes adventurous and suspenseful books.

Britbear gives this book

five-bears

 

Write What You Know

Today’s post features a guest post by A.E. Albert, author of The Time Sphere.

From Amazon’s product description:

the time sphere cover

What if you discovered an amazing secret, a secret that led you on an adventure to save the world and perhaps…yourself?

Billy Townsend, a thirteen year old boy who has lived in a group home his entire life. He has no family, no friends, and is bullied everyday by muscled bound morons who have it better than him. Well, that’s what Billy thinks at least. His life is a constant upheaval of new towns, new houses and new people. The only thing that stays the same is the nagging loneliness that follows him everywhere.

Billy’s world is forever changed when he meets a mysterious stranger. He must now journey through time, fighting his way to the future. As he learns to use his wits and together with new found friends, he finds the strength to meet the challenges set before him. However, Billy soon discovers that his greatest challenge to face is himself.

Buy The Time Sphere on Amazon.

Write What You Know

When I sat down and made the decision to write a book, I looked down at a clean white sheet of paper and asked myself, what do I write about?  I grew up watching the Anne of Green Gables movies, until I finally read the series in my twenties.

One of my favorite scenes is when Gilbert looks at the stubborn and uncompromising Anne and dares to criticize her work.  He then challenges her to write what she knew about, be inspired by people and events around her.  This line had always stayed with me, even before I had ever thought about writing myself.

The trouble was I knew I wanted to write within the sci-fi/fantasy genre.  I also have a love of history and traveling and knew that they needed a place somewhere in my book.  So I took a little sci-fi and little history and came up with a time travel story.

But as every reader and writer alike knows, great characters are the heart of every tale.  Character development is my personal favorite aspect to a story.  I knew I needed characters that were gripping, real and who could grow.  At this point, I began to chew my lip and stare far too long at my pad of paper.  Suddenly, the words of Gilbert materialized in my mind.  Write what you know.

I have been a Child and youth Worker for almost 15 years.  I had been employed in numerous group homes and currently help children with special needs.  I have worked with many wonderful children throughout my career who have faced many challenges and adversities.  Yet, through it all, they managed to laugh, learn and add something special to my own life.  I knew in an instant that my protagonist was a child of social services.

Billy journeys through time, fights deadly foes and faces seemingly unbeatable odds.  Yet, his insecurities and are his greatest hurdle.  These personal challenges he must confront are directly intertwined with the plot and its exciting end.

Write what you know.  Following this advice gave me an empathic view of my characters.  I don’t just mean compassion, there’s more to empathy than that.  I mean being able to understand their decisions and know what path they will take.  You know what they will say and how they say it.  It’s as though your characters are writing your story and you are but an instrument of this endeavor.

Thanks Gilbert.

About A. E. Albert:

aeprofile pic-cropThank you for taking the time to read about me. As you probably have already guessed, I’m a first time novelist. I love reading, writing, travelling, history, science and a many more interesting (or not!) subjects. Of course, these interests don’t separate me from the majority of the population and my hobbies are quite generic. I thought I’d just get that part out of the way. But I’d like to tell you why I have embarked on this journey. For most of my adult life, I worked as a Child and Youth Worker in residential group homes and in the school board. I’ve worked and cared for many children like the ones described in my book. I’ve always felt that these children have been misrepresented and misunderstood. I decided to write about what I knew and so I created a character that lived in the social services system. Through humor and the occasional tear, I attempted to inform the reader what it is really like for the children of foster care and perhaps, to send a message to these special children that there is always hope. So, I decided to take my work experience, love of adventure novels and natural creative talent to write my book. The truth is, I began this endeavour simply as a hobby and a means to divert my mind from my very stressful job. I’ve always been an avid reader but didn’t believe that to mean that I was a writer myself. I simply decided to write a novel that I would enjoy reading. However, as I began my journey into the written world, I discovered a passion that I didn’t know existed. Writing this work was the most difficult, yet the most exhilarating experience of my life.

Author Interview with Arthur Daigle

Please join Britbear’s Book Reviews in welcoming Arthur Daigle, author of  William Bradsahw, King of Goblins in today’s author spotlight.

king of goblins coverDesperate for work, William Bradshaw makes the mistakes of accepting a manager position offered by the law firm of Cickam, Wender and Downe.  Too late he realized his job is to “manage” the goblins on the world of Other Place.  His goblin followers are short, stupid and mildly crazy, and setting traps is the national pastime.  The other races consider goblins vermin, and they’re not to happy with Will, either.  The kingdom is broke, the land desolate and the only city there is falling apart.  Will is stuck in his job until he can find a loophole in his king contract.  Forty-seven previous kings escaped back to Earth, so it can’t be that hard.

Getting home soon becomes the least of Will’s problems when he accidentally starts a war with a neighboring human kingdom and their fashion obsessed monarch Kervol Ket.  Will is going to have to win the war if he’s going to live long enough to get home.  That’s a tall order when one human is worth ten to twenty goblins, and Kervol is coming with an army of thousands, including foot soldiers, archers and knights.  Worse, the goblins haven’t won a war in recorded history, and they have no intention of winning this one.

But this time things are going to be different.  Will is determined to win, backed up by teeming hordes of goblins, two troll bodyguards with anger management issues, a foul tempered magic mirror and an overachieving fire scepter.  It’s going to take stealth, subterfuge and a seemingly limitless supply of exploding outhouses, but Will is going to win.

Buy William Bradshaw, King of Goblins on Amazon.

The premise for your novel, William Bradshaw, King of Goblins is an interesting one. The Amazon page for the novel promises (among other things), “trolls with anger management problems…an uncooperative magic mirror…[and] exploding outhouses.” What was your inspiration for writing this novel?

I had several inspirations for my work.  First among them is the work of the filmmaker and puppeteer Jim Henson.  I’ve long been a fan of Henson’s work, his creativity and his good humor.  I am also a big fan of the British artist Brian Froud.  Froud’s work focuses on European myths, such as fairies, trolls, giants, and of course, goblins.  Playing fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons in my youth also influenced me.

Perfect inspirations for your genre, Arthur.

William Bradshaw, King of Goblins seems to put a new twist on old archetypes (with the exception of exploding outhouses, that is). Retellings of fairy tales and classic children’s novels have been really popular lately. What do you think of this phenomenon? Do you think it’s reached its peak yet?

Writers and filmmakers have been retelling fairy tales and children’s classics for many years.  You’d be amazed how many modern movies are retellings of fairy tales and Shakespeare’s plays.  These tales have lasted so long because they deal with issues we all face even today, like Cinderella suffering at the hands of family members who should have been supporting her.

Very true, but what do you think makes William Bradshaw, King of Goblins stand out in this genre’s market?

I feel my novel has two key strengths.  The first is comedy suitable for the entire family.  I want people from school age to adults to be able to pick it up and enjoy it without having to worry about a rating.  Personally, I feel there has been a trend in print to produce vulgar “entertainment” on the grounds that this is what sells.  I know there is a market for such material, but it drives away many readers.

The second strength is the choice of characters.  Goblins have been a part of fantasy books and video games for a long time, but they’re present as cannon fodder.  They’re short, weak, poorly armed and get cut down by the strong, handsome heroes.  I thought it was worth exploring what life was like from the goblins’ perspective.  It’s easy to be brave when you’re the one with the magic sword and strong right arm.  When you’re the little guy you have to be clever, and in the case of my goblins you can make the knights and kings look stupid.

The goblin as underdog. That’s a great concept. Kind of like those stories that tell Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf’s perspective.

What kind of research did you have to do while writing William Bradshaw, King of Goblins? What was the most interesting thing you learned from your research?

I already had a working knowledge of fantasy set in the Middle Ages due to years of reading and role playing games.  Fantasy requires less research because you’re making up a world.  The author decides how magic works on his planet, what monsters to expect and how they behave.  This does require the author to stick to the rules he makes, and any exceptions need to be rare and well explained.

Your educational and career background– biology, zoo intern, fisheries assistant, research assistant at an arboretum–seems far away from a career in writing. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us a little about the first manuscript you remember completing.

If I could have gotten a job in biology I would have never gone into writing.  Unfortunately, the economy kind of imploded in the early 2000s.  Money for conservation biology, where I had job experience, dried up as federal, state and private sources cut back.  I applied for lab work, but I found these required years of experience and college level classwork I didn’t have.

My writing started out as a hobby.  I attended the College of DuPage which had a program called Writing Across the Curriculum.  The idea was that students should get as much training as possible in writing so they could express themselves well when they were employed.  I didn’t know that when I was going there, just that every class except Math, required me to write a term paper.  The more I wrote, the better I got at it, and I found myself liking it.

After graduating I did a bit of writing in my spare time.  I joined the Millennium Writers’ Group hosted at my local library and wrote short science fiction stories.  At the time it wasn’t my intention to publish my work.  I’d heard how hard it was getting a book into print, and I found out first hand the stories were true.  But friends and family encouraged me to try, so I looked around and found a publisher.  While that didn’t wok out in the end, I kept at it and am now self published.

Your story is so similar to my own. I’m sure a lot of other self- and indie-published authors will also identify with it.

Does your educational and career background have an influence on your writing? How so?

My biology degree helped me create my fantasy world.  Fantasy actually does need its roots in science to make sense.  The Kingdom of the Goblins is actually based on an old coal strip mine I visited as part of an ecology class.  Let me tell you, you haven’t seen ugly until you’ve seen a strip mine.  Thirty years isn’t enough to heal the land.

Let’s talk about the genre you write in. I understand you’re a fan of science fiction and fantasy. What makes this your favourite genre?

My father was a fan of fantasy and science fiction, and he took our family to see movies like The Dark Crystal and Dragon Slayer.  He also watched old monster movies with us on TV, including Godzilla and the Universal Pictures monsters.  There were also plenty of fantasy and science fiction based cartoons on at the time, generally with low budgets and laughable plots, and I enjoyed watching them.

My father also introduced me to the world of sci fi, but through the classic Star Trek series. Based on your previous answer, I can infer the next one, but why choose middle grade as your audience?

Partly that’s based on my personal preference and partly on audience appeal.  I wrote the kind of book I would like to buy at the bookstore.  But I also noticed that family oriented shows do well, far better than ones that are gory, crass or vulgar.  The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and The Muppet Show were both wildly popular and intended to appeal to the entire family, and this trend has continued today.

Most people cast their characters with actors. After this interview, I imagine you sitting down to cast your characters with Muppets instead.

Is there a message in King of Goblins that you want readers to grasp?

You will face enemies in life, bullies and brutes that are richer than you are, bigger than you are, stronger than you are…and you can beat them.

Great, message; truly empowering. What’s next on your writing agenda, Arthur? What are you working on right now?

I have sequels ready for the Will Bradshaw storyline.  Book two actually should have been out last month, but I’m having trouble contacting my cover artist.  Book three and four are also done and waiting for their turn.  I have also begun another series on the same world but starring a mad scientist named Dr. Alberto Moratrayas that I hope to publish soon.

Thank you, Arthur, for taking the time from your writing to complete this interview. One last thing: how can readers discover more about you and you work?

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About Arthur Daigle:

Arthur Daigle was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  He received a biology degree from the University of illinois Urbana-Champaign, and has worked in such diverse fields as testing water quality, zoo intern, research assistant and grading high school essay tests.  In addition to his writing, Arthur is an avid gardener and amateur artist.  This book was almost inevitable given that the author was a fan of science fiction and fantasy since he was old enough to walk.  This is his first published novel, with more on the way.

Why Goblins?

Welcome to Arthur Daigle, today’s featured author, for a guest post.

king of goblins coverDesperate for work, William Bradshaw makes the mistakes of accepting a manager position offered by the law firm of Cickam, Wender and Downe.  Too late he realized his job is to “manage” the goblins on the world of Other Place.  His goblin followers are short, stupid and mildly crazy, and setting traps is the national pastime.  The other races consider goblins vermin, and they’re not to happy with Will, either.  The kingdom is broke, the land desolate and the only city there is falling apart.  Will is stuck in his job until he can find a loophole in his king contract.  Forty-seven previous kings escaped back to Earth, so it can’t be that hard.

Getting home soon becomes the least of Will’s problems when he accidentally starts a war with a neighboring human kingdom and their fashion obsessed monarch Kervol Ket.  Will is going to have to win the war if he’s going to live long enough to get home.  That’s a tall order when one human is worth ten to twenty goblins, and Kervol is coming with an army of thousands, including foot soldiers, archers and knights.  Worse, the goblins haven’t won a war in recorded history, and they have no intention of winning this one.

But this time things are going to be different.  Will is determined to win, backed up by teeming hordes of goblins, two troll bodyguards with anger management issues, a foul tempered magic mirror and an overachieving fire scepter.  It’s going to take stealth, subterfuge and a seemingly limitless supply of exploding outhouses, but Will is going to win.

Buy William Bradshaw, King of Goblins on Amazon.

Why Goblins?

So I wrote a fantasy novel and my main characters are goblins.  Not what you’d expect, I know.  Fantasy novels mostly focus on the exploits of knights, rangers, wizards, thieves, bards and to a lesser extent, holy men.  These are the men and women who cut down hordes of enemies to save the kingdom, and then walk away with a king’s ransom in loot that they never seem to pay taxes on.  If there are any goblins in the story they’re sword fodder, a minor threat for the heroes to march over on their way to face the evil overlord or other powerful being who is the real challenge.

This is all well and good for the heroes.  Not so much for the goblins.

The fact is that goblins have been pushovers in fantasy books and games for decades.  The only way they pose any danger to the heroes is if there are dozens or even hundreds of them, and even then they lose.  They’re kind of like the Chicago Cubs that way. Or France.  It makes you wonder why they charge headlong into those heavily armored knights and rangers armed with magic swords.  As survival strategies go, that ranks up there with lemmings jumping off a cliff.

So with some thought and a lot of inspiration I decided to let the goblins have their day in my novel, William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins.  Yeah, Will is human, and he gets a lot of the limelight, but the goblins get their day too, and I think it’s well deserved.

In my opinion, the best stories are about the little guys.  Most of us are powerless against life’s big dangers, like wars, natural disasters and IRS audits.  We can empathize with the little guy who’s fighting to just keep his head above water.  The great heroes of literature and movies face overwhelming challenges and suffer frequent injuries and defeats.  We root for them because they see the odds against them and they keep on fighting.  There’s little interest in a story when the hero is perfect and undefeatable.  After all, if he can’t lose, then what’s the point of fighting?  No, we want to see the little guy win.

And you don’t get much smaller than goblins.

Put yourself in the goblins’ shoes.  You’re smaller and weaker than all your enemies.  You don’t live on good land with lots of resources, mainly because the knights and wizards I mentioned forced you into the wastelands years ago.  This means you don’t have the materials to make magic weapons or impenetrable castles.  You probably don’t have any money either.  There’s not much point to having gold when you aren’t allowed into stores to buy things, and if you do have some cash then it’s a cinch that someone’s going to take it from you at sword point, probably those knights.  The same goes for having jewelry, silks, beautiful paintings and magic weapons.  You can’t make most of them, and if by some minor miracle you do get one, you won’t keep it for long

Life for goblins is going to be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be a brutal one.  I was inspired to make my goblins funny by other authors who gave their goblins a sense of humor.  Goblins are small, and like a lot of small guys, they can get even with their enemies by humiliating them.  They glue knights to their horses.  They set traps that fling cow manure at the rangers.  They paint the wizards blue while they’re asleep.  They can beat their enemies with style and humor, all the while leaving those WWI style infantry charges off the agenda.

Not only did I learn a lot about goblins from your post, I think I even feel a little for the bum-rap they’ve been given in history.

Here’s where you can learn more about Arthur and his work:

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About Arthur Daigle:

Arthur Daigle was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  He received a biology degree from the University of illinois Urbana-Champaign, and has worked in such diverse fields as testing water quality, zoo intern, research assistant and grading high school essay tests.  In addition to his writing, Arthur is an avid gardener and amateur artist.  This book was almost inevitable given that the author was a fan of science fiction and fantasy since he was old enough to walk.  This is his first published novel, with more on the way.

“The Page Turners” by Kevin T. Johns Piques Avid Readers’ Imaginations

the page turnersIn The Page Turners by Kevin T. Johns, Nate and friends Danny and Spencer are The Page Turners, an after school club meeting in the school library to discuss the books they’ve read. After saying an incantation found in an old book in the library, the boys have a disagreement and disband the club. But when Spencer’s girlfriend, Marie, dumps him for Valonde the Lover, a character in the Dark Wedding series novels entitled The Blood Bride, the boys must reunite to save her. The question is will the boys survive the confrontation? What other literary villains are lurking in the shadows?  Can Diana even be saved?

I really liked Johns’s novel which reminded me of Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair. The prospect of characters in a novel leaping to life from the pages excites me to no end, and Johns’s telling of the story does not disappoint.The story is well-written, especially the sections concerning Valonde the Lover which are somewhat gothic and entertaining to read. I like that the boys enlist Danny’s sister Diana–a prize archer–in their quest to rescue Marie, though I can’t figure out the significance of describing Diana’s first period in graphic detail. I’ve lived through similar circumstances and still cringed when I read. I can’t imagine teenage girls–or teenage boys for that matter–reading those scenes. It’s not as though Valonde’s only weakness were menstrual blood, or something.

Nevertheless, I recommend this, the first book in The Page Turners trilogy to both the young and the young at heart. If you are an avid reader, or ever imagined yourself interacting with the characters in the book you were reading as you read it (or the book you were writing as you wrote it), then you will most certainly enjoy The Page Turners.

Mamabear gives this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.