The Girl You Killed by Leslie Wolfe #giveaway

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The Girl You Killed by Leslie Wolfe

Genre: Psychological Thriller

“When an author spins a story that draws you in and keeps you drawn in until you finish the book, you know you will enjoy reading anything written by that author!” – Diane ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Andrea Brafford’s life is nearly perfect. A passionate marine biologist, happily married to Craig, the man she loves, recently moved into a home commensurate with their success to enjoy a life many others only dream about, in one of Houston’s most desirable suburbs. But only a few months later, a trial that dramatically polarizes their town names Craig Brafford as a defendant in the murder of his young wife, shattering the serenity of the peaceful community.

Andi’s name is on everyone’s lips, her relationships exposed and torn to shreds in a highly publicized case that has everyone’s eyes glued to the internet. Andrea’s life remains a mystery that investigators and public opinion equally fail to solve. Was she the happy, devoted wife she’d made everyone believe she was?

Only she can answer that question.

The best-selling author of Dawn Girl is back with a suspenseful, gripping psychological thriller. Fans of Celeste Ng, Alex Michaelides, and Liane Moriarty will enjoy The Girl You Killed, an addictive psychological thriller that will keep readers enthralled until the last page.

**Only .99 cents!!**

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What Readers and Reviewers Are Saying About Leslie Wolfe

“Leslie Wolfe has a wonderful ability to make you feel as if you were right there watching the events unfold in this fast-paced and nail-biting thriller.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Wolfe’s strong female characters, whom all appear to be flawed, never disappoint. ” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wow! Just Wow! “This is the first book by this author that I read but I’m definitely reading more!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a chilling, thrilling story, fueled by pure adrenalin, and with more ups and downs than a roller-coaster!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“The action is immediate and nonstop, and just when you think you have it all figured out, Wolfe tosses in a twist so masterful that it’ll make your head spin.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wow… Leslie Wolfe is an incredible storyteller.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Leslie Wolfe’s books draw you in, take you along for the ride, and finish with your appreciation of a strong woman! Her books leave you satisfied, yet wanting more!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Leslie Wolfe has an uncanny ability to bring strong, endearing female leads to life.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Leslie Wolfe’s books are riveting. Her stories keep you glued to the story with always a surprising ending.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Twist upon twist. You won’t be able to put this down.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and other books by Leslie Wolfe!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Leslie Wolfe is a bestselling author whose novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She creates unforgettable, brilliant, strong women heroes who deliver fast-paced, satisfying suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology.

Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. Since then, she has written many more, continuing to break down barriers of traditional thrillers. Her style of fast-paced suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology, has made Leslie one of the most read authors in the genre and she has created an array of unforgettable, brilliant and strong women heroes along the way.

A recently released standalone and an addictive, heart-stopping psychological thriller, The Girl You Killed will appeal to fans of The Undoing, The Silent Patient, or Little Fires Everywhere. Reminiscent of the television drama Criminal Minds, her series of books featuring the fierce and relentless FBI Agent Tess Winnett would be of great interest to readers of James Patterson, Melinda Leigh, and David Baldacci crime thrillers. Fans of Kendra Elliot and Robert Dugoni suspenseful mysteries would love the Las Vegas Crime series, featuring the tension-filled relationship between Baxter and Holt. Finally, her Alex Hoffmann series of political and espionage action adventure will enthrall readers of Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, and Lee Child.

Leslie has received much acclaim for her work, including inquiries from Hollywood, and her books offer something that is different and tangible, with readers becoming invested in not only the main characters and plot but also with the ruthless minds of the killers she creates.

A complete list of Leslie’s titles is available at LeslieWolfe.com/books.

Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you. Become an insider: gain early access to previews of Leslie’s new novels.

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Q&A with Leslie Wolfe

Andrea Brafford’s life is nearly perfect. A passionate marine biologist, happily married to Craig, the man she loves, recently moved into a home commensurate with their success to enjoy a life many others only dream about, in one of Houston’s most desirable suburbs. But only a few months later, a trial that dramatically polarizes their town names Craig Brafford as a defendant in the murder of his young wife, shattering the serenity of the peaceful community.

Andi’s name is on everyone’s lips, her relationships exposed and torn to shreds in a highly publicized case that has everyone’s eyes glued to the internet. Andrea’s life remains a mystery that investigators and public opinion equally fail to solve. Was she the happy, devoted wife she’d made everyone believe she was?

The Girl You Killed is about domestic abuse that evolves into murder. Not the violent type, with bruises and broken bones, not the type a victim can see coming and run for her life. This story is about an insidious, stealthy form of abuse so devious it ensnares the victim who cannot even realize she’s being manipulated and submitted to the predator’s will, a means to an end, nothing more.

  • What would readers remember after they finish reading the book?

They will remember that appearances can be deceiving in more ways than one. A cunning, skilled predator can easily deceive young and impressionable women, especially those who want so much to believe fairy tales can happen to them that they choose to lie to themselves to keep the dream alive.

  • Your writing style is fast, filled with dialogue, almost at the expense of descriptives and narratives. Why is that?

This is how human beings interact, especially when under pressure or stress. We stop paying attention to our surroundings, and focus on the task at hand. People interact with one another, talk to one another, and have feelings for one another and for everything we do. That’s what I’m focused on, rather than specifying each article of clothing someone wears, or the color of the flower vase in an office somewhere. This technique isn’t necessarily good or bad; just somewhat different from mainstream.

  •  What’s the biggest compliment you received from a fan?

It’s when readers tell me they stay up all night to finish the book, because they couldn’t put it down. That’s music to my ears J Like any other artist and entertainer, I thrive knowing that I deliver that escape into the fictional world in a grasping, gritty, and memorable way.

  • You mentioned science, technology, psychology. How do you keep it real?

I do extensive amounts of research for my work, and I’m fascinated by what I have the opportunity to learn. Additionally, sections of my books go through a process of validation at the hands of several fantastic partners who are law enforcement officers, attorneys, scientists, doctors in medicine. In Dawn Girl, for example, there are sections that speak about using certain plant extracts and animal venoms to achieve certain goals. Despite the extensive research, my hands were shaking a little as I wrote them, metaphorically speaking, and I was relieved when my research “passed scientific review.”

  • Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Apart from social media and email interactions, I’m a veritable recluse. Email is the best and quickest way to reach me, and I was fortunate to build true friendships with readers over email. The majority of my readers ask me when’s the next book coming out, not when I’m getting out of the house, so I get the hint and keep on writing.

  • Is this book a first in a series and going to be continued?

This book is a standalone, a story centered on a certain family and its layered dysfunction. While this book isn’t what readers would call a “series first,” there are several Leslie Wolfe series you might enjoy.

The Tess Winnett Series features FBI Special Agent Tess Winnett in a series of eight (so far) gripping crime thrillers you won’t be able to put down. The first title in that series is Dawn Girl, but all books can be read as standalones.

Baxter & Holt is a three-book series featuring two Las Vegas detectives who trust each other with their lives, only not with their deepest, darkest secrets. Start this engrossing series with Las Vegas Girl.

Alex Hoffmann is an action-adventure series featuring a young and smart heroine and her team of private investigators. They follow their cases wherever those might take them, even if that means behind enemy lines, in five engrossing thrillers that will remind you of James Bond and Jack Reacher. The book that will get you started on this adventure is Executive.


Where do you get your ideas? by Mark S. Bacon

Mark S. Bacon began his career as a Southern California newspaper police reporter, one of his crime stories becoming key evidence in a murder case that spanned decades.

After working for two newspapers, he moved to advertising and marketing and became a copywriter for Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park down the freeway from Disneyland. Experience working at Knott’s formed part of the inspiration for his creation of Nostalgia City theme park.

Before turning to fiction, Bacon wrote business books including “Do-It-Yourself Direct Marketing,” printed in four languages and three editions, named best business book of the year by the Library Journal, and selected by the Book of the Month Club and two other book clubs. His freelance feature articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Antonio Express News, Orange County (Calif.) Register, Denver Post and many other publications. Most recently he was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Dark Ride Deception” is the fourth book in the Nostalgia City mystery series that began with”Death in Nostalgia City”. The first book introduced ex-cop turned cab driver Lyle Deming and PR executive Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star. “Death in Nostalgia City” was recommended for book clubs by the American Library Association.

Bacon is the author of flash fiction mystery books including, “Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words – Revised Edition”.

He taught journalism as a member of the adjunct faculty at Cal Poly University – Pomona, the University of Nevada – Reno, and the University of Redlands. He earned an MA in mass media from UNLV and a BA in journalism from Fresno State.

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Where do you get your ideas?

by Mark S. Bacon

Do ideas for mystery novels float down from the ether? Do writers lean back in their chairs, arms resting on their heads, waiting for inspiration to strike? Sometimes. More often though, writers rely on their own experiences, their own history as the foundation for stories.

If you look at the background of many mystery/crime writers, sources of their inspiration become clear.

For example, as a young lawyer John Grisham toiled for many hours at a small, struggling Mississippi law firm. And the main character in his early books is typically a young lawyer toiling for many hours at a small, struggling Mississippi law firm.

Tony Hillerman,wrote about the southwest. In his most famous books, Navajo tribal police solve the mysteries. Before writing novels, he was a newspaper reporter in Texas. He patterned one of his main police characters after a local Texas sheriff he knew. Later he lived and taught in New Mexico for more than 20 years becoming familiar with the land and the people.

One of British writer Gerald Kersh’s most well known books isNight and the City. Al Pacino starred in the movie version. It focuses on the seamy side of the wrestling game in London. And while Kersh was learning to write he held a variety of odd jobs. For a time, he was a wrestler.

Dashiell Hammett, before he became a novelist and wrote The Maltese Falcon, worked for the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency. He used that experience as the basis for the Falcon and also for a long series of short stories and two novels that featured a private eye working for a big detective agency.

The setting for my mysteries is a theme park, Nostalgia City. Early in my career I wrote advertising at Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park just up the freeway from Disneyland.

Although I spent most of my time writing ads and commercials, I occasionally worked on special events in the park. I got to know some of the costumed employees who entertained visitors and had a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to keep a sprawling entertainment enterprise rolling smoothly. At times it seemed like controlled chaos.

Since my experience at Knott’s I’ve always thought a theme park would make a great setting for a murder mystery. A park can be crammed with tourists to the point of inducing claustrophobia. Or it can be dark and empty at night when the gates are closed, the rides sit motionless and the only sound is the wind whistling through the rollercoaster framework. Theme parks present many possibilities for intrigue.

In my new book, Dark Ride Deception, high-tech secrets for mind-bending new rides are stolen from Nostalgia City. My protagonists, Lyle Deming, an ex-cop now theme park cab driver, and Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star, are sent on an undercover mission to search offices and workshops at other theme parks. They’re looking for the Perception Deception Effect, a remarkable artificial intelligence-controlled program that will alter theme park rides forever.

Lyle and Kate’s exploration of other theme parks is not unlike my first weeks working at Knott’s, as I tried to find my way around the grounds and learn the secrets of opening doors closed to the public.

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Meet Author Lea Falls

Author Interview w/ Lea Falls!

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

My head has always been full of stories. I feel like I process the world through storytelling. As a kid, I used to sit in front of this beautiful porcelain doll my grandma owned. It was bigger than me back then. I just sat there for hours, thinking up stories about her, and honestly, I don’t think that ever really changed. My heart always belonged to stories and performing. As a teenager, I joined my first acting group. I loved being on stage, but I also wanted to tell my own tales, so I channeled my 2009 vampire craze into writing a play about a lone hunter at a vampire banquet, where they recounted the ways they influenced history. We performed it at our local theatre and it was so much fun. Later in college, when I studied acting, improv theatre changed the way I look at stories. My friend and I founded a long-form improv group and we performed full-length plays that were made up on the spot. It taught me what elements any good story needed and how to feel when a scene is working or requires a change. In an improv group, everyone has a specialty, and I was the “fixer”, the one that ran on stage when the story was getting off track or details weren’t connecting properly. I became really good at spotting plotholes and adding the right kinds of conflict to keep us going. I don’t think I’d be the writer I am today without improv.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I absolutely adore lemons. I need lemon juice on most savory things I eat and I love drinking it straight without diluting it. I’ve even infected my wife with this quirk. Now she’s the one who eats a bite of dinner and says “Needs more lemon”.

What are some of your pet peeves?

 I feel like this is more of a full-grown elephant peeve, but I can’t stand people talking during movies or TV shows. It’s okay if they do that on their own, but if I’m there, please please please, pause the dang film! The moment two people talk at once, I just can’t hear anything anymore and it overwhelms me immediately. I also have a slight snob streak, so I tend to be the “Respect the art!!” type.

Where were you born/grew up at?

 I was born in the Rhineland of Germany, an hour away from Cologne. It’s a beautiful area with fortresses and mountains. When I brought my wife there two decades later, she loved it for its fairytale-esque nature.

Then, right before I turned ten, we moved to the North Sea. Our house was just a thirty-minute walk from the water, which was lovely, although I didnÄt go as often as I wished I had. Both places were small towns, and while they have their perks, I was very eager to explore the big city, when I moved to San Francisco at eighteen. I’m a city lady at heart!

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

I’m not that scared of dying, to be honest. I have so many plans, so it’d be quite frustrating not to be able to execute them, but I wouldn’t want to try to squeeze them all in one day. I’m most scared of what I’d leave behind. So I would choose to spend the day with my wife, maybe in a favorite cafe of ours, writing a lot of letters to my loved ones, something they can hold on to. Then, when I felt like I’ve written an adequate amount, I’d want to briefly outline as many of my book ideas as possible and hand all of those over to my wife. She obviously wouldn’t have to write them all, but she’s a fantastic writer, and this way at least some of my stories would still get birthed. Then, at the end of the day, I’d like to dress up in an extravagant gown and see a Broadway show.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

 A stressed one. I have no interest in going into politics. I don’t think I could handle disagreements over things that are so obvious to me, and I don’t know how I’d deal with the slow speed of change, especially when people’s livelihoods are at stake. I have so much respect for people like Cori Bush and AOC, who throw themselves into the fight every single day, but I don’t think my temperament could handle it.

If I were, however, a world leader, I’d want to establish some kind of compassion/self-reflection/anti-propaganda course or test for everyone in my cabinet, and I’d want my advisors to be as diverse as possible, because that’s what democracy should be about, in opinion. It should represent everyone. I’d also start by having a reckoning with our history because reflecting on where we’ve come from, the mistakes we’ve made, the darkness we don’t want to repeat is an important part of self-growth and I believe it’s required for societal growth as well. So I do have a lot of ideas on what I’d want to implement, but I’m not confident I could convince people to listen. I’m better suited for the arts.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

This is How You Lose the Time War, A Little Princess, Fragile Wings, Les Miserables, Into the Drowning Deep, The Gilded Ones, Less, Kindred (in no particular order except for the first one)

What book do you think everyone should read?

 Kindred!! Octavia Butler’s writing is fantastic, gripping, and so important. It’s such a great exploration of how the time you live in shapes you.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first short story in elementary school, but I barely remember it. Apparently, it was about an elvish princess trying to get rid of a wall, or something like that? Clearly, that was my character Ally Verdain in the making! At age 11, I wrote my first screenplay and I remember absolutely loving it. It felt wonderful to get lost in the storytelling. In it, a princess gets swapped at birth and grows up with a sweet peasant family until the truth is revealed. Then she fights to reclaim her throne. I’m proud of the story, though I did think that if you want to write a dramatic scene, you just have to use a lot of exclamation marks!!!!

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

Usually, two characters come to me first. I’m very relationship-oriented when I write. It doesn’t have to be romantic–my current project is about platonic love–but there’s always some strong connection that draws me to a story. After that, characters come to me while writing. So far, my first drafts have been very messy and explorative. But I usually sense when a newly appeared character is going to hijack the story. In my current project, a guy walked in, spoke once, and I immediately knew he’d be important. I hadn’t planned for a specific love interest but that’s exactly what he is now. It’s an exciting part of the journey to discover who you’ll meet along the way.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

 That depends on the project, but I usually research as I go. GODDESS OF LIMBO took a lot of research–everything from names to cultures to idiosyncrasies of a specific time period. When I’m on a roll with a scene, I usually write “BLOB” or “insert description here” and then come back to it. But sometimes it’s too vital an aspect of the chapter, so I end up researching details every few lines. It can be a bit cumbersome but it often leads me down really interesting paths. Then there’s another kind of research that I do outside of the writing process. No matter what story I’m working on, I’m always trying to learn more about writing diversity, about people and what makes them tick, about harmful tropes we keep including into stories. I’m by no means perfect, but I think it’s important to keep widening your worldview if you want to improve your stories.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, absolutely, I see myself as an actor/writer, though I had to put the acting part on hold for a bit due to the pandemic and chronic illness. I’m also hoping to get into audiobook narration next year. I took some classes on it in college and am excited to narrate GODDESS OF LIMBO once I have the right equipment. I have very ambitious goals for my writing career and am ultimately hoping to work as a hybrid author, both traditionally and independently published.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

Oof, it’s complicated! I think it’s wonderful that indie publishing is becoming more and more of a feasible option. It allows for more freedom and diversity in publishing. At the same time, it’s a lot of work, and I think long-term I’d prefer to spend more time writing than handling the business aspects of it. The traditional publishing market is, however, slightly broken. So many traditionally published authors aren’t earning a living wage off their books and while not one specific area is to blame, there has to be a better way than artists not making money off their art. We can do better than that! I also think there’s an unfair focus on social media when it comes to publishing as well. Everyone tells authors they have to build their author platform and yes, it is much easier for writers with huge platforms to become bestsellers, but other forms of marketing are equally if not more important. As a bit of an introvert who struggles with social media, it can feel like you’re doomed from the getgo. But the more research I do, the less that seems true. So there’s a lot of misinformation out there, both in the indie and the traditional market. Overall though, I’m happy that more books than ever are being published and read. That is wonderful for the world.

What are you passionate about these days?

Accessibility. As terrible as the pandemic is, it’s shown us the many possibilities on how to make everything more accessible to disabled and chronically ill folks. I hope we will carry these realizations forward and not try to return to a less accessible world once some of us can go back to “normalcy”. I, myself, have learned a lot on how to make content more inclusive in the past year, but also know there’s still so much to learn. It’s exciting to see that platforms are slowly catching up–subtitles are becoming more available, and work from home is an option for many. It’s also a subject dear to the heart for both my wife and me. She’s narcoleptic, which she handles well when accommodations are given. A few extra five-minute breaks are all it takes, but she’d gotten laid off for it before when she’d been doing stellar work, and it’s just not fair. I have several conditions that require accommodations as well, and oh my goodness, does proper care make a difference! For example, nowadays everything is so digital, but because of chronic migraines, I can’t look at screens for too long. There are red filters for which I’m incredibly grateful for, but still, it’s not enough. A few months ago, however, I bought a Neo2 Alphasmart electronic typewriter from… I don’t know, the 90s? And it’s amazing! I’m writing my response currently on it because there is no blue light involved. It has completely changed my life as a writer, and it seems so easy. If we were able to make electronic devices like this thirty years ago, why can’t we do it now? I’m hopeful that one day there’ll be screens using this kind of technology.

I’m passionate about this topic because the more we educate ourselves and each other, the more everyone can be included. An inclusive society enriches us all.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

The must-have answer, of course, is reading. For years, I only did it sporadically, but this year, I’ve finally been able to squeeze daily reading back into my schedule. Apart from that, I love Dungeons & Dragons, and tabletop RPG games in general. My wife and I are currently running a two-person gay pirate adventure game and that’s a lot of fun. My character started out as a cook, but she quickly learned how to kick booty. My friends and I are also big fans of playing Among us. I used to be a lousy alien impostor, but I’m finally getting better. My best friend can still tell immediately if I’m the impostor. He says my voice changes. It’s hopeless. I just gotta murder him quickly!

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

I hate limited word counts… that’s five words, right? Okay, okay, I’ll give it an honest try. Ambitious, bubbly, curious storyteller dork. There we go 🙂

Do you have a favorite movie?

One of my absolute favorites is “Cloud Atlas”, and I don’t think it’s surprising if you look at my preferred way of telling stories. This movie is almost spiritual to me! I love how the characters’ lives of different ages are all interconnected and affect each other. I get goosebumps just thinking about it and the score is so beautiful! It’s also very romantic, and I love a good star-crossed sweethearts story.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

 I don’t know if it counts as a full pilgrimage, but my wife and I loved walking through London when we lived there, and most of the characters and plotlines of GODDESS OF LIMBO were birthed on those walks. The old architecture was perfect for envisioning grand fantasy tales. There is one building in particular near Waterloo station that has a lovely round tower with a circular room on the highest floor. We called that one our “Bored Reginald” tower, because the jester, and loved one of a protagonist, lives in a similar tower room in the palace. I still go on long walks to kickstart my imagination.

What inspired you to write this book?

GODDESS OF LIMBO guided me out of a tough time. I’ll always be grateful for the spark of inspiration that led to where I am now.

I’ve always been an actor/writer, but I focused on acting first. After I finished college, I ended up in a difficult financial spot, couldn’t get any roles because of my accent, and struggled with chronic illness. I felt completely creatively depleted. That’s when my wife started a Dungeons & Dragons game for my friends and me. I fell in love with both my character and her love interest. The storytelling of the game rekindled my imagination and I ended up writing “fanfiction” about my character and her girlfriend. My wife and I created a whole canon outside of the game and kept adding characters to it. We basically came up with a world of our own and played improv scenes set in it every evening after work. Every bathroom break at work turned into me typing out little scenes for the characters and before I knew it, we’d created an epic, intricate fantasy world. Then, when I was sick one day, I decided to write the origin story of my character’s dad. That is now chapter five of GODDESS OF LIMBO. I dove into the love interest’s mother–Ally–next, and suddenly the parents became the true story.

The first draft barely resembles the book now. My Dungeons & Dragons character and her love interest will only be children in the overall series. In the end, it wasn’t their story.

It took me five months to realize that what I was writing might become a book, and another year to truly commit to becoming an author.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I thought I couldn’t pursue it until I was in my fifties. I thought I had to establish my acting career first. Writing one book seemed like an impossible journey to me. Now I don’ want to stop. I love this series, but I’m excited about all the other stories I plan to tell as well. I was so lost when the first inspiration for GODDESS OF LIMBO came to me. I don’t want to know where I’d be if I hadn’t followed it.

What can we expect from you in the future?

The Forgotten Splinters Chronicles is currently planned as a five-book series, although the next part will be a prequel novella that takes place right after the prologue. It’s still in the drafting phase, but I’d like it to stand on its own, so people can read it before or after GODDESS OF LIMBO.

In terms of other novels–I have about thirty-five stories on my “to be written” pile right now and it’s steadily growing. While I really enjoy writing fantasy, I’d like to branch out into other genres as well. One of my current projects is a contemporary coming-of-age story about two queer runaway kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. It’s in the second draft stage now. After that, I’m not sure which one I’ll choose from my idea pile. The close contesters are a space mermaid Sci-Fi, an underwater fantasy romance, and a pirate adventure. 2022, however, will be dedicated entirely to GODDESS OF LIMBO’s sequel. I’ve already written a few chapters for it..

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in GODDESS OF LIMBO?

I have a large cast of characters as their stories are all interconnected, so when people ask me to talk about my protagonist, I’m tempted to give a dozen ted talks. But seeing as occasional restrain is a virtue, let’s just touch on three of the main ones.

Ally, or the elvish Princess Alexandra Verdain, has endured many hardships–the Council stripping her power exiled her grandmothers, her mother died during Ally’s mysterious birth and her father disappeared when she was ten, she was married off as a child to a ruthless magic-bearer, and her nation ridicules and infantilizes her because of her schizoaffective disorder. Despite all that, she’s brilliant, snarky, endlessly curious, and undeterred once she’s set her mind on something. She’s had a long-term affair with her court jester and cares about Elfentum’s future, even if it doesn’t care about her.

Captain Subira Se’azana is still trying to understand who she truly is. She grew up in a noble family in Fi’Teri, deeply religious and set to advance in court, but she ran away to Virisunder as a child and became the mentee of Ally’s grandmother who runs a military academy. When we meet Subira, she’s on the cusp of change–in a war declared lost that she’s determined to win, pregnant and in love with a man who only noticed her after she saved his life, and torn between the military career that gives her purpose and dreams of becoming a dancer and having a loving family, unlike the one she came from. She’s a serious person with a sharp-edged wit, strong on the battlefield but uncertain in her private life.

And lastly, let’s talk about Vana Ackerman. She’s a feisty farm girl that lived through famines and wars and is sick of her town’s ruthless nobility. Even as a six-year-old, she talks about revolution, and by the time she’s sixteen, she’s known around town for her rebel band The Spirit and the Enforcer. The Spirit is her best friend Jules and when we met her, they’ve just broken up, because she’s realized she’s gay. Nevertheless, they plan to take down their nation together. Unfortunately, the beautiful teenage daughter of the local duke gets in their way. Vana has a big heart and a strong sense of justice, but she tends to jump the gun and hasn’t fully understood what the reality of revolution entails.

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

 I came up with character names in three different ways. Some were named by my wife, back when we first explored their storylines in D&D and improv scenes. My favorite of those is Vana, because it’s not actually a real name, but she thought it was and I loved it, so we’ve kept it. Other names were inspired by real people in history. General Makeda, Ally’s grandmother and principal of the most prestigious military academy, was named after an Ethiopian queen. She’s from Fi’Teri, which is loosely inspired by Ethiopian culture. The last and most common way I found names was by searching baby name suggestions from cultures most closely aligned to the fictional nation the character is from. Sachihiro, for example, is a Mayan name meaning “broad happiness”. He’s from Tribu La’am, which is inspired by Mesoamerica.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Writing GODDESS OF LIMBO has been an incredible journey. There are so many moments I treasure from the first four-day mini-vacation I took to focus on writing to the coffee-fueled everyday hustle of finishing the second draft on a deadline. It truly taught me how to write a book, how to become an author, and how to wholeheartedly embrace my imagination.

One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed the most from the very beginning was the jester’s tricks and his dialogue. He always has a turn of phrase or a silly pun on his lips, and despite his overall tragic character, he’s a joy to write.

I also love Martín’s chapters, because his internal monologues are the funniest to write. They’re less fun to edit because I need to delete a lot of his profanity.

Every POV character has its own perks though. Ally’s chapters always require me to pull up “Physics for kids” sites to try and understand the way she’s thinking, so progress is slow, but I also love it because her perception of life differs from mine. Sachihiro, on the other hand, perceives things similarly to me (even though his personality is very different from mine) so his thoughts tend to flow nicely. I love writing Subira for the fierce fight scenes, and Vana for her big ideas and grand speeches on justice. So really, every character has its own perks and I shall dearly miss writing the ones that didn’t survive the first book…

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

Coming up with the title GODDESS OF LIMBO was a long and chaotic journey. It’s funny, because nowadays I don’t struggle with titles at all. I already have the sequel name and am really excited to share it.

But for the longest time, GODDESS OF LIMBO was just “The Frieda Kilburn Saga”. Frieda Kilburn was the D&D character that inspired everything. For some odd reason, I named her Frieda after Friedrich Nietzche–something about her moral view of the world? I have no idea! And Kilburn after the London neighborhood my train passed through on the way to work. She briefly appears in GODDESS OF LIMBO, but it’s no longer her story. Nevertheless, I kept the name until the first draft was done and I had to come up with something better to submit it for a workshop. Limbo, the realm of lost things, had already become an important part of the story, so I named it “Whispers from limbo”. Half a year later, I decided it wasn’t snappy enough, so I changed it to “Limbo calls”. A demon plot that becomes important in the sequel played a much bigger part in the initial drafts, so I thought it might fit. I still didn’t love it. When I finished the full rewrite, I realized that despite the interweaving narratives, at its core, it’s the story of the goddess Alames–Goddess of Limbo.

My wife and I have an inside joke that Alames isn’t actually the goddess of limbo and it’s referring to a different goddess, but you’ll have to read the book to decide that for your own…

Who designed your book covers?

Franzi Haase from coverdungeon.com, @coverdungeonrabbit on Instagram! I’m so grateful I found her. She was a joy to work with and took my vague ideas to create this gorgeous cover. It’s exactly how I wanted it to be! I can’t wait to work with her again for future covers. Picking a cover artist was one of the scariest parts of the publishing process. So scary, that for a while I considered designing it myself, but I couldn’t do it justice. Then I saw Franzi’s work on Instagram and fell in love with it!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Yes, I absolutely would. Writing is such an intimate reflection of our insides and even though I’m deeply proud of this book, I have grown a lot since finishing the final draft and there are a few nuances I wish I’d put more thought into. I want to be clear, I don’t regret anything. If I wouldn’t love my book wholeheartedly, I wouldn’t be putting it out there. Honestly, I don’t think I could, because it’s scary enough to send it to hundreds of reviewers, promising them they’ll enjoy it, when truly, you have no idea. Every time I reread GODDESS OF LIMBO, it makes me incredibly happy. But it also deals with a lot of sensitive topics and there’s one nuance, in particular, I wish I could add. I have a lot of different cultures in this book, but there’s one subculture that we’ve only met one character from and that character is a darker shade of morally grey. From the beginning, I’ve planned to introduce a place full of those people in the third book, and most of them will be positive, good-hearted characters. But they aren’t in this book… So every now and then I get a small panic attack over potentially implying something I hadn’t intended. That’s probably a common issue among epic fantasy writers who juggle so many cultures, especially if diversity and representation are important to them. They’re vital to me. But we live in a society full of marginalization and I personally am constantly unlearning the subconscious biases I grew up with. I think as we evolve as people, our writing will become better and better. Even though I wish every book I write could be 100% perfect in my eyes, I realize that will never be possible, and that’s okay.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

This is a fun question for me and I’m going to be shameless about it. I’m an actor as well as a writer. I have a degree in film acting and so does my wife. I absolutely want to play Alames. Get the blue stage makeup–I’m ready! My wife wants to play the magical engineer Zazil and I think she’d be great at it. My best friend Nick also needs to play a role but we’re not certain which one yet. Maybe the casting director gets to have a say after all.

As to more known actors–I think Cara Delevigne would make a great Ally, especially after seeing her in Carnival Row, and I’d be honored if the amazing Lupita Nyong’o would play Subira. I’d also love for the actors’ identities to line up with the characters’ to a certain degree. Martín, for example, would have to be played by a Latino trans man, or I’d be upset. I would definitely want to make sure there’s no whitewashing happening either. So to conclude, I have a lot of opinions on acting 😉

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

This is a tricky question. So many moments are dear to me and then there are the ones I strongly connect with personal memories of writing them.

One of my favorite chapters is the Hard Rime River chapter. I love the setting, and it caught me completely off guard when I wrote it. The way it came together changed the whole trajectory of the book. I got so excited about the chapter that when I first presented it to my beta readers, they had no idea what was going on. I’ve rewritten it several times since and learned that me loving a part probably means I skipped the “make sure your readers get what’s happening” aspect. I tend to get lost in those moments.

My favorite part, truly, is the ending though. I’m so happy with how it all turned out. Writing beginnings is tough for me but I love stringing everything together. The moment everything fully connects feels so special. It makes me excited for the sequel because those connections have already been established now.

As to character journeys, I’m the proudest of Richard’s. Admittedly, it’s the one I’m most nervous about too because it deals with several delicate and painful topics, but I think it ends in a beautifully cathartic place. He has, perhaps, the most character development throughout the first book.

Finally, there are about four jokes I absolutely adore. When I find something funny, it never fails to crack me up. My wife still sends me a silly gif from two years ago and I can’t stop laughing at it. So those four jokes are absolutely wonderful to return to.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Oh goodness, most of them! But I also feel like I already have. I know so much about them, have spent hours imagining details that will never make it into the books. Character work is my favorite part, both in acting and writing. In our daily life, we always have some sort of mask on. Even when you’re very close with someone, you won’t know their thoughts, won’t know how they see life. All of that is possible when getting to know a character. They’re all flawed, yet I’m incredibly protective of all of them because I feel like I understand them better than I understand most real people. I need to note here that I’m talking about the point of view characters, not the villains. I do not under any circumstances want to spend a day with Prince Josef.

But if I could choose one of them to manifest into reality for a day, I’d probably want to do an improv show with the court jester Bored Reginald. He’s a grand illusionist and could whip up a fantastic set. I think our creative visions would align pretty well and rehearsing with him would be a blast. If I get more than one day, we’ll go on tour!

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

 I’m leaning toward the second one, but I feel like characters have such a mind of their own, they come out of some idea cloud. That’s probably an eccentric view on it, but itÄs how I experience it every time I write. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about book ideas like they’re these spirits of muses that come to writers, insisting to be born. I like that idea. I also think stories reflect paths our collective unconscious has taken. Sure, it’s all fiction, but in a way, it’s also all true. We find ourselves in characters, in their struggles, their lessons. I wouldn’t claim all that magic stems from my imagination alone.

I definitely don’t base characters off of people I know. I admit, I took inspiration for the physical description of two villains from people I knew, but that’s it. My best friend insists he sees a lot of Ally in me, but I can’t even do simple math and am much more of a pacifist than she is, so I don’t see it.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

They absolutely hijack the story. I wouldn’t even call it hijacking. They’re the ones steering the train, owning the railroad, creating the schedule. I just hop on and see where we’re going. I might think we’re cruising through Scotland only to look out the window and find myself in a jungle.

An example of that is my character, Robert. In the early drafts, when I was just learning the story, he was a royal guard, and that’s it. In the first real draft, I gave him a love interest and a whole unrelated side quest. Then, in my big rewrite, he talked to Ally for the first time and their chemistry was irresistible. It was entirely unexpected and changed everything. Suddenly he became a new romantic interest for Ally, and without spoiling anything, the ending couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Robert’s change of direction. The whole series changed because of his influence and I’m glad for it.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Yes! My short story EMILY’S HEIRS will be published in Hansen House Books’ queer SFF anthology ELIXIR: Stories of Hope and Healing in January 2022. I’m very excited to be part of this incredible project! My story is about a lesbian autistic girl and her intersex best friend breaking into a futuristic fertility clinic to stop irreversible eugenics.

I’m also working on a contemporary coming-of-age story called A FEW SPOTS PAST THE SUN about two queer runaway foster kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. The first draft is written, but it’s an incredibly rough mess, so I’m working my way through that right now. My plan is to become a hybrid author, so I’m hoping to traditionally publish that story.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

I was staring at this question blankly and decided to ask my wife. She said “blood”, which was unhelpful. Let me see… daffodils, old parchment, and cinnamon. There we go!

What did you edit out of this book?

About two other books worth! Ally’s firstborn daughter, Josefine, who she wasn’t allowed to care for or even see much, had five whole chapters. She only appears briefly in one Ally chapter now. Richard also had a second son named Elvor, who truly was just an unpleasant fellow. I didn’t even enjoy writing him that much, but he was part of the very first idea dump, so he got three chapters of questionable content in the first draft. I deleted his character completely in the rewrite. Dillon, Ally’s first personal guard, had a huge arc as well, and so did the jester’s assistant Cleo. Both of them disappeared almost completely. Vana was originally an adult and married to a duchess named Marella. They fought Josefine, riding a demon, together on a grand battlefield. It was epic and also utter nonsense in the context of the actual story. The goddess Alames used to appear to Zazil in a strange vision and declare her the chosen one for a minor subplot. I had just finished a venti vanilla latte and thought it was my best writing ever! I’m going to post the original outline on my Patreon soon. It’s hilarious to me how little it has to do with GODDESS OF LIMBO’s actual plot.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why? I would absolutely love to take a class from the authors of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR. Amal et-Mohtar and Max Gladestone’s storytelling moved me more than I thought possible. They told a grand epic within the pages of a novella. I’m absolutely in awe of their talent and would love to write a story like that someday. My imagination tends to think in epic spans as well, hence I started with a five-book epic fantasy series. But to condense that grand of a picture into the pure essence of it– Amazing! I’d love to learn how to do that. 

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History of the Mystery: It Stays the Same—and Changes by Mark S. Bacon

Mark S. Bacon began his career as a Southern California newspaper police reporter, one of his crime stories becoming key evidence in a murder case that spanned decades.

After working for two newspapers, he moved to advertising and marketing and became a copywriter for Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park down the freeway from Disneyland. Experience working at Knott’s formed part of the inspiration for his creation of Nostalgia City theme park.

Before turning to fiction, Bacon wrote business books including “Do-It-Yourself Direct Marketing,” printed in four languages and three editions, named best business book of the year by the Library Journal, and selected by the Book of the Month Club and two other book clubs. His freelance feature articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Antonio Express News, Orange County (Calif.) Register, Denver Post and many other publications. Most recently he was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Dark Ride Deception” is the fourth book in the Nostalgia City mystery series that began with”Death in Nostalgia City”. The first book introduced ex-cop turned cab driver Lyle Deming and PR executive Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star. “Death in Nostalgia City” was recommended for book clubs by the American Library Association.

Bacon is the author of flash fiction mystery books including, “Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words – Revised Edition”.

He taught journalism as a member of the adjunct faculty at Cal Poly University – Pomona, the University of Nevada – Reno, and the University of Redlands. He earned an MA in mass media from UNLV and a BA in journalism from Fresno State.

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History of the mystery: it stays the same—and changes

by Mark S. Bacon

Who published the first modern mystery story? It happened 180 years ago.

Modern mysteries got started in 1841 when Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia published The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe. Known for grim horror stories such as The Telltale Heart, Poe beat Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie by many decades in creating a detective series. The mystery introduces Paris detective monsieur C. Auguste Dupin who used his “analytical power” to solve a series of murders. He appears again in two other stories.

Later, in 1866, Fyodor Dostoevsky published Crime and Punishment. In it, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, an impoverished student, murders a woman with an axe for her money. After he’s killed her he becomes confused and paranoid. Enter the detective, Porfiry Petrovich, head of the investigation department. Petrovfich questions Raskolnikov at length using psychological techniques to wear him down.

When I read Dostoyevsky’s masterwork several years ago I was struck by Petrovich’s interrogation style. It reminded me of the old TV show Columbo in which Peter Falk would hound a suspect with dumb questions and hypotheticals until he or she confessed. Later I read that William Link, producer and writer for Columbo, actually based his detective’s style on Dostoyevsky.

Shortly after Crime and Punishment, 1868, English writer Wilkie Collins wrote The Moonstone, considered the first classic mystery novel and one that established many of the ground rules for the modern genre. It’s a tale of murder and a stolen diamond from India.

Two years later, Collins’ better-known contemporary, Charles Dickens, started The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but died before he could finish it. Then in 1887 Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes appeared for the first time in A Study in Scarlet.

Leap ahead almost a century and a half and DNA, cell phones and myriad other advanced technologies have replaced the magnifying glass for crime novel detectives. In some mystery and thriller novels today technology almost overshadows the characters. I didn’t want that to happen with Dark Ride Deception, my new mystery.

The story takes place in Nostalgia City, an Arizona theme park where a computer genius has just invented a remarkable new technology that will transform theme park rides forever. But the plans and computer programs that created the Deception Perception Effect are stolen. My protagonists are set off on a mission to solve the theft and the disappearance of the computer genius behind the new technology.

Rather than fill the story with complex tech, however, I focus on the players including my ex-cop turned Nostalgia City cab driver, Lyle Deming, who goes undercover to spy on other theme parks suspected of corporate espionage.

Technology is important to today’s mysteries, but it’s the people, the characters, who have always made tales of murder come alive.

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Meet Author John Calia

John Calia – A Brooklyn-born, second generation American and the eldest of three boys, writing is his third career and the one about which he is most passionate.  Following graduation from the US Naval Academy and active duty in the Navy, he embarked on a career in business.  He began writing his blog “Who Will Lead?” in 2010 attracting over 120,000 readers.  It inspired him to write his first book, an Amazon five-star rated business fable titled “The Reluctant CEO.”  Currently he makes his home in Fairport, NY, a village on the Erie Canal.

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Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

Writing is my fourth (or maybe fifth) career.  I have been a U.S. Navy officer, a banker, an entrepreneur and business consultant.  I began writing a blog in 2010 at the encouragement of a good friend and found a following (over 120,000 readers).  My brother encouraged me to write a book, but I resisted.  Coincidentally, a development rep from a small indie publisher reached out to me right after my brother died (from Lyme Disease).  “I’ve reading your blog,” he said.  “If you ever decide to write a book, let me know.  We’d love to publish it.”  It took another year for me to complete The Reluctant CEO: Succeeding Without Losing Your Soul.  I sent him a final draft.  “It may take me a while to get back to you on this,” he said.  Two days later he sent me a contract.  The book was released the following year in May 2016.

The book was a success in the narrow audience I chose.  It received 5-star ratings on Amazon.  And that made me want to write another book.  But I wanted a broader audience.  I wrote a near-future, science-fiction novel “The Awakening of Artemis” which will be published on September 29, 2021 for two reasons: (1) science-fiction has a huge audience; and, (2) I wanted to write about the effect of artificial intelligence on society. 

What is something unique/quirky about you?

Not a damn thing!  Well, I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.  That’s not quirky or unique.  But it’s uncommon for sure. 

Where were you born/grew up at?

I was born in Brooklyn – the old Brooklyn made up of ethnic neighborhoods.  My father used his WWII veteran benefits to buy us a house in the Long Island suburbs, where I lived until I graduated high school.  I’ve only been back for occasional visits since and have lived in nine U.S. states. 

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Frankly, what I find most relaxing is writing.  Other than that, I spend time on the water in the lakes and harbors of western New York state. 

What inspired you to write this book?

The birth of my granddaughter, Emily Grace Martinez-Calia.  She is the first female in my bloodline in 90 years. I wonder what life will be like for her 30 years in the future.  What kind of world will she live in?  How will she deal with mid-21st Century reality?

What can we expect from you in the future?

Book 2 in this series will likely be titled “False Flag.”  It will bring in some of the recently revealed pseudo-facts from the U.S. government’s release of information about UFO’s and alien visits to Earth.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

The main character is Diana Gutierrez-Adams.  She grows up in a military family and elects to join the first class to graduate from the US Space Force Academy in 2040. She is grounded in traditional values and is raised by her father to be a strong independent woman.  She cares about the cause of women in society and is encouraged by the ascension of women into leadership roles.  She is goal oriented and focused but can undermine herself when she perceives injustice, particularly when it is directed at one of her friends and co-workers.

The formative experience of Diana’s adult life came during a war.  From her underground bunker in Nevada she identified targets and launch stealth missiles toward their targets.  During her shift at the controls, her base was struck by an enemy missile.  She assumed control of the automated fire control system and destroyed the enemy.

Emerging from her bunker, she realized how lucky she was to have survived.  Engulfed in smoke and still smoldering, the base was barely recognizable.  She stumbled toward HQ, the operations center, tripping several times, once over a dead body, another over a disembodied leg.  The ground was hot! She burned her left hand when she broke her fall.  Disoriented, weak and in pain, it took a few minutes (seemed like hours) to realize that HQ was gone – completely vaporized.  In its place were smoldering ashes.  No human remains were evident.  Commanding the operations center that directed all the launch stations was Base Commanding Officer, Brigadier General Paul Adams – her father.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

The characters mirror the characters in The Wizard of Oz. 

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

Main character:  Diana: the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, protector of women and children, fierce warrior and loyal to a fault.  (Dorothy is her alter ego in The Wizard of Oz.)

Her sidekick and soul mate:  Gabrielle, chosen from the sidekick in the TV series “Xena, Warrior Princess. (Represents Diana’s heart.)

Nick Adams: An often-used name in the books written by Hemingway.  Plus my Dad was named Nick.  He’s a Nobel-winning mathematician in the book.  (the brain.)

Tony Russo: I just like the name.  (Courage personified.)

How did you come up with the title of the book?

Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo in Greek Mythology.  Diana (main character’s name) is the Roman equivalent.  The “Awakening” takes place because of the heroic journey that Diana undertakes on behalf of her grandfather (Nick Adams).

Who designed your book covers?

I hired a great graphics guy in the U.K. through reedsy.com. His name is Nick Castle.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Kristen Stewart or Zoe Kravitz.

What did you edit out of this book?

I started my writing career as a blogger.  My editor pushed me to delete sections that sounded like an essay and slowed the story.  I’ve used those sections in my author website johncalia.com/blog.

Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?

There are so many great writers.  But the greatest storyteller might be J.K. Rowling.  I would love to be able to pick her brain as I write my next book. 

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

MUSIC!!!  I have to have music playing to write. 

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Order it HERE

Sand and Shadow by Laurisa White Reyes #giveaway

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Sand and Shadow by Laurisa White Reyes ~ Genre: SciFi Horror

Winner of the Houston Writer’s House Competition★

Seven Survivors.

One Monster.

Nowhere to hide.

Mission Specialist Adán Fuentes awakes from cryo-hibernation to discover that most of his fellow crewmates are dead and the shuttle Carpathia is not where it’s supposed to be. Surrounded by a vast barren landscape, he and the other survivors wonder how they can accomplish their mission, to establish a home for future colonists.

When an unseen creature attacks them, the Carpathia’s crew must turn their attention to surviving and solving the true purpose behind their mission.

Inspired by the 50’s sci-fi flick FORBIDDEN PLANET, SAND AND SHADOW plumbs the depths of the human psyche and the power of its influence. As the Carpathia’s crew’s secrets and flaws are revealed, readers may find themselves compelled to examine their own dark places.

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Laurisa White Reyes is the author of sixteen books. Her middle grade novel THE STORYTELLERS won the 2015 Spark Award from The Society of Children’s Books Authors & Illustrators (SCBWI) and her young adult novel PETALS received the 2017 Spark Honor Award.

In addition to writing, Laurisa also is the founder and Senior Editor of Skyrocket Press, which publishes quality fiction and non-fiction for a variety of readers. She also teaches English composition at College of the Canyons in Southern California. To subscribe to Laurisa’s monthly newsletter, visit her website at www.LaurisaWhiteReyes.com

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I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about Sand and Shadow by Laurisa White Reyes.

Writer’s Block by Casia Pickering

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

An authors thoughts on Writer’s Block

by Casia Pickering

Writer’s block. It’s real, folks. Seriously. Take right this moment as an example. I wanted to sound pretentious, informative, and intellectual, permitted to sit among the greats, but really, I’m just me- a writer with the block. The block is called “The Guest Post.”

For me, I dislike calling it a block. A block feels like a Rubix cube or a blockage in the circulatory system. One aspect is easily solvable if you know the formula or have the time to take off the stickers and place them on the cube correctly. The other image? Well, without proper medical care, that shit can kill you.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have the patience to take off the stickers on a Rubix cube, nor do I feel like getting probed to see if I’m going to kick the bucket anytime soon. Let’s face it; neither image feels very “Author.”

Nope. I consider the block as a wall because that’s what it is. You are running through a maze made by your imagination, and you made the wrong turn, meeting with a wall- The Writer’s Wall. 

So, what do you do about the wall? It’s pretty simple. You have three options from where I stand, and all of them suck, but hey, you can get around it.

Option one is backtracking. Follow down the path you just went through and see what had caused you to make that wrong turn. There was one time I met the wall, and I backtracked. It turned out that a secondary love interest to the triangle wanted more screen time. It turns out he was a central character, that he had personality, and I needed to show it. I have to rewrite that story again because it turns out I still haven’t given him the love he needs.

Option two is breaking the wall. Just go for it. Write something completely off the wall in your story. Force the story to happen. Just grab that sledgehammer and slam it into the bricks, break the plaster, cut through the drywall, and make that small home into a beautiful renovation that will make HGTV cry tears of adoration. This is an excellent option if you are on a blank page. A great example of me doing that is at the beginning of this post. That was me taking the sledgehammer into the wall.

Option three is parkour. Come on. I know you had to have run and jumped on a jungle gym as a child. Do you remember being fearless? I do. Sometimes, I do silly things and twirl, all the while screaming “Parkour.” Yes, it does make people stare at me, but hey, it works. No, I don’t do actual parkour, but I do like to do something physical and productive to break what keeps me from writing. Usually, it is chores or just doing something silly. What matters is you don’t focus on the act of writing. Instead, you do something different. Eventually, the blood will get to the brain, and the brain will hit the imagination, thereby helping you write.

So, is the block actual? Yes, but it’s a wall, and everyone knows that if you can build a wall, you can tear it down. That’s why we made catapults, to fly over them and take over the kingdom.



Meet Author Rachel Rossano

Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.

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How do you find time to write as a parent?

When my kids were young, naptimes and bedtime were my writing time. Now that I have pre-teens and teens, they are old enough to respect my need for writing time. I announce when I will be writing that day and then enforce only an emergency rule. It is a challenge because I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them, but I have to write if I am going to produce more books.

What inspired you to write this book?

Rumpled Rhett came from multiple inspiration sources.

First, there was the huntsman from fairytales. He appears most notably in “Snow White” and “Red Riding Hood.” I always thought he should have a story of his own. Years ago, a friend of mine started writing a story about Snow White and the huntsman, which I really enjoyed. She never finished it, but I couldn’t shake the idea that the huntsman needed his own story.

There is the billed source of inspiration, Rumpelstiltskin himself. The fairytale was always a fascinating one for me. After reading K. M. Shea’s retelling, I began brainstorming alternative stories where Rumple could be the hero of his own tale. By the way, I highly recommend K. M. Shea’s Rumpelstiltskin.

Then, there was a surprise inspiration source in Between Floors by W. R. Gingell. Athelas and the dynamic between him and Pet inspired the crisis point at the climax of Rumpled Rhett.

Oh, and finally, I was inspired by “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. The fact it has been a favorite poem of mine since childhood probably betrays a bit more of the strangeness of my interests. It is a tragedy, and I almost exclusively write happy endings (my two tragedies are short stories in The Making of a Man short story anthology, if anyone is interested).

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I absolutely loved Rhett. Writing his character was fun from the beginning to the end. After adorkable Silas in Grace by Contract and scholarly Crispin in Reclaiming Ryda, it was wonderful to get back to one of my favorite kinds of heroes, the man of action and danger. Who doesn’t daydream about a hero capable of defending her from the trials of life?

Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

It depends on the book, but most of my characters tend to hijack their own stories. In the case of Rumpled Rhett, Rhett had a moment where he insisted on burning Cat’s socks. The struggle between me and the character became a blog post for Lands Uncharted (https://www.landsuncharted.com/2021/02/writers-life-socks-must-go-rachel.html). Spoiler: he won the argument.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

The short answer is a resounding yes. First, there is my early work which I hope will never make it into print.

Then, there is an epic science fiction romance series for which I have written the first book, Diaspora (rough draft). I can’t publish the first book until I write the second.

Oh, and I have a contemporary Christian novel written and tentatively titled White Bear. It is inspired by “East of Sun West of the Moon” and is set in the early 2000s. That one might appear soon. I have to fix a plot hole and get it through editing.

Finally, I have a long-lost (not really) fourth and final novel in The Theodoric Saga that has so many issues that it will require an extensive rewrite to bring it up to my current standards. I might just start that one from scratch…or bury it with my early work, never to see the publishing light of day.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

It depends. Some characters appear in a flash of inspiration with their own distinct voice and personality. Those characters are the ones I spend the book discovering as I write. Other characters are built, piece by piece, either through the plotting or the writing process. Either way, writing them and finding their voice is a journey of delightful discovery.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

I would prefer silence or listening to music that is so familiar that I can tune it out. But as a mother of three, I have to be flexible. Writing with the background noises of life going on around me is a necessity.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I usually only draft one book at a time, but I can be developing other book ideas while drafting one. Oh, and I publish and promote while writing the next novel. For example, at this moment, I am writing the next Once Upon a Duchy novel, editing a short novella for a multiple author project, plotting a different project, and promoting Rumpled Rhett. I am constantly juggling multiple projects.

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

First comes inspiration. An idea, an image, or just a conversation can prompt a story idea. I immediately begin playing with it in my head to see if it is viable. Does it make sense? Does it excite me? Is it something I could make work?

Once I am confident I can make it work, I start sketching a rough high-level collection of plot points. Perhaps a few characters and interactions are added. I keep mulling as I collect ideas in a Word document, so everything is in one place.

Then, I sit down and plot out a series of points. Tensions, crises, motivations, villains, antagonists, pressures, family, settings, etc., until I get a solid framework. At this point, I know that it might change and shift as I develop it.

At the same time as this plotting/brainstorming is going on, I start collecting research and inspirational pieces.

Once I have a solid handle on the story, characters, and plot, I usually start writing. I write in chronological order. No scene hopping allowed. As I write, the story changes. Sometimes the end result looks nothing like the original plan. Other times, only some things change. Frequently the climax shifts around depending on what is needed to tie it all together into a satisfying ending.

When I finally finish the rough draft, it is time for proofing, beta readers, editors, and final polishing.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Oh, that is a tricky question. Some of my books, like The Talented Trilogy, took years and years. While others, like Rumpled Rhett, took about six months. It depends on what else is going on in my life, the time I can devote to getting words on the page, and my health. Writing while dealing with brain fog is dangerous. Characters do unexpected things, I drop words, or make little sense on those days.

Would you like a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.

Meet Author Katherine H. Brown

Katherine Brown is a Texas girl with books in her blood. She has been reading as long as she can remember and has been “making books” from the time she was a child. Her first few were of a non-traditional binding – cardboard & wrapping paper stapled with handwritten pages in the middle & a ribbon closure! Her love of books runs deep and she hopes to encourage readers of all ages to explore and use their imagination by helping them fall in love with books just like she did.Katherine is married to a wonderful man, Patrick, and has a spunky, smart, amazing step-daughter Lexi. Lexi is the biggest fan of this author’s first published series, School is Scary, and is constantly asking when the next book will be finished so she can read it too.
When not writing or reading, you can often find Katherine eating chocolate or enjoying time with family.

Website * Facebook * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads


An Interview With The Author

Do you try to be more original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I saw this question posed and was at odds on how to answer it. The truth is, I feel like my writing is original because it all comes to me little bits at a time during brainstorming, or driving down the road and a random bit of dialogue that goes with no story I’ve written yet pops into my head and so on, thus making it very original to me. I don’t feel like I write cookie-cutter stories. In fact, sometimes I’m afraid I don’t even follow the rules of writing very well.

As a reader myself, I love a good trope. You know, the amateur artist turned sleuth will always get her bad guy; the man and woman on opposite sides of an issue will fight and fight until they realize they actually don’t want to fight but, rather, have fallen in love, the best friend has a secret crush, etc. I never get tired of them. Give me ten Beauty and the Beast retellings and I’ll love at least eight of them. Yet, as a writer, I find it difficult to follow a tried and true trope pattern absolutely and with no alterations. I don’t know if it is because it feels like copying, or if it is the fear that my story won’t live up to those stories, but somehow I always feel like my story is slightly different or unconventional in the way I tell it. In fact, I sometimes chastise myself because when I finish writing, I’m not sure I even know how to pick the correct genre to describe my book because I didn’t hit every single best-selling trope or expectation out there. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? I couldn’t really say. I have readers who leave beautiful reviews on how much they enjoyed the stories and characters especially. I have other reviews huffing that there is far too much fluff taking up the pages.

All readers are different so I think it is fine when stories are something different, as well.

However, I still feel like I try to give readers what they want: characters they can know and be invested in, and a story that draws you into it until the last page. A memorable scene. A funny line. All the feels. You be the judge; I can’t wait to hear readers’ thoughts on The Librarian’s Treasure.

Can you tell us a little about The Librarian’s Treasure?

Of everything that I’ve written, this story has taken the longest. I whipped out a beginning in no time flat, falling in love with the idea of an orphaned librarian getting wrapped up in intrigue and adventure. And then, I stopped. For whatever reason, it just felt like nothing I wrote was good enough.

A year or so later, I picked it up and tried once more. This time, it was Drake who refused to cooperate. Was he a spy? An assassin? A love interest? A messenger? Writing him felt incomplete as I couldn’t decide what his future in the book would be. So, I stopped. Again.

And then, after another almost two years, the story resurfaced in my stack of unfinished projects and I knew I wanted to give it breath and life and wings to fly into the world, your world, readers. I still loved my idea and I was ready to sit down and do the hard work of erasing and starting over fresh. No more picking up in the middle. It was hard. I hate erasing. Or backspacing, as the case may be. But I did it. And oh! I’m so glad that I did. Raegan and Drake and the League are even better than I ever imagined them (with lots of encouragement from my editor to embrace a little more fantasy for the first time). I hope that you enjoy spending time with Raegan and Drake and getting to know them as much as I did. It was so refreshing to finish this story, that I jumped right into writing the prequel; another something I never thought I would do….write books out of order lol, but I didn’t know it needed a prequel until the story ended and Raegan had some unanswered questions.

Thank you again for spending time with me today! Happy reading.

How long have you wanted to become an author / why did you become an author / is being an author your chosen career?

Forever. No, really. I started “making books” from cardboard and paper and ribbon as a little girl. My parents were always happy to read my scribbles. As a pre-teen, I even “self-published” a newsletter from our desktop computer and printer, charging my (married) parents separately to read about school or poems that I’d written and jokes from my little sister. I love words. The possibilities of words. The evasiveness of words. The magic that is making your words say something that brings a picture to life for you or others when those words are read.

Now, don’t get me wrong – some days my words are bogged down and written in a fog of exhaustion and they come out as low-bar as you can imagine. I have so much room for improvement, as do most people in most careers if they are honest, but I thoroughly enjoy writing for the creativity of it. I became an author when I looked up from my day job one day and remembered my dreams; those dreams as a girl and teenager of seeing a book with my name on it, they came rushing back as I sat angrily at my desk annoyed at some coworker or customer for yet another ridiculous request. I knew that I wanted to at least take a shot at doing something that brought me happiness instead of ulcers. Even if it meant that I failed. I haven’t failed yet because I’m still pursuing this passion of weaving words together and seeing them hit the page to create a story that nobody has ever heard before. Now, I’m not a best-seller or financially at peace with my author career at this point, but that is okay because my theory is that you have to start at the bottom of any corporate ladder and work your way up; I’m willing to do the work.

I hope that readers who find my books find friends in the characters, find adventure in the pages, and find something beautiful or unique in the scenes. If they do, I’m a success already.

What does your writing process look like?

I typically can only write when my little girl is at naptime so it is a quick and quiet time of putting as many words together as I can. I have on occasion used a Disney playlist as background music, but honestly, even before my baby girl was born, I have always preferred to write in silence. The tapping of keys on my laptop is all of the noise that I need. It is literally the sound of success, being productive and getting the story out. It encourages me to think and type quickly. In fact, I can’t write nearly as well or fast using dictation. When typing, the words (a lot of the time, yes I get stuck, too) simply flow out of my fingertips.

I do like to have a snack and either water, tea, or lemonade nearby when I’m writing as well. Typically, the snack takes the form of mini M&Ms, dark chocolate chips, or peanut butter protein balls.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

*Prize #1:*

Book tote, bookmarks, One shamrock charm bracelet, & an ebook copy of The Lady & the Leprechaun (prequel to The Librarian’s Treasure)

*Prize #2:*

Bookmarks and an ebook of The Lady and the Leprechaun

*Prize #3:*

$10 Amazon gift card


Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows #giveaway

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.

Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows ~ Genre: Mystery

Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell’s last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It’s a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who’s caught his eye, and it’s a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot. And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town.

Goodreads * Amazon

Brandon Barrows is the award-nominated authors of the novels Burn Me Out and This Rough Old World as well as over fifty published stories, selected of which have been collected into the books The Altar in the Hills and The Castle-Town Tragedy.

He is also the writer of nearly one-hundred individual comic book issues.

He is an active member of both the Private Eye Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

Website * Twitter * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Would you like a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Hi. I’m Brandon Barrows. Maybe we’ve met before. Maybe you know me from my previous novel Burn Me Out, or from stories of mine that have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Burn Me Out and many of those stories are lodged firmly in the noir category of crime fiction, so Strangers’ Kingdom is something a little different for me: a true mystery. It’s also a police procedural set in rural Vermont, which was harder to write than it sounds.

So it’s something different for me as a writer. So what, you might think. Well, I’ll tell you: because it’s a novel I put a tremendous amount of effort, heart, and hopefully you’ll agree, soul into that I know you’ll enjoy.

Let’s start with the basics – the blurb.

Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell’s last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It’s a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who’s caught his eye, and it’s a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot. And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town…

How does that grab you? Interested in knowing a little more, hopefully?

Well, the setting came first. While the town of Granton is fictional, the area where the book is set, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, is very real. In fact, it’s where my mother grew up and a place I still have family. Being in a sort of triangle between two states and Canada, there’s a lot that goes on up there, probably more than we’ll ever know. Despite everything that can happen in such a setting, though, for most people, a rural town is a very small world and that’s certainly true of the main character, Luke Campbell. Luke grew up in Vermont, but lived most of his adult life in Albany, New York before coming to Granton. Because of that, it’s less a homecoming for him than it is a brand-new world, something both he as the protagonist and I, as the writer, were continually discovering while I wrote it.

So why a police procedural mystery? Truthfully, it didn’t start out that way. It began as a rural noir, like many of my short stories, but I discovered early on that it just wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t tell the story the way it needed to be told if I stuck to that and I liked the ideas I had for this book so much, I wasn’t willing to create something I felt inferior, so I played around with the format, switched it up, and ended up creating an entirely new protagonist to go along with the new format.

And you know, I really liked Luke Campbell, right from the start. He’s had a rough go of it, and he’s still trying to make the best of it, while going out of his way to help people—like a lonely, bullied little boy and his mother, both of him Luke comes to care about deeply—even though he’s got every right to be bitter about his situation.

Of course, he’s just one of the characters, but he is the main character and I like to think he both embodies the central theme of the novel and recognizes it for himself in the course of the work: that there are no “bad guys” or “good guys” out there, just people. Everyone does terrible things at some point in their life—whether intentionally or not—and not one of us is completely “bad”. Everyone is just trying to get along and do the best they can. Sometimes we fail at that. There are certainly criminals in this novel, but everyone in it is guilty to some extent and everyone has their good qualities, too. I always try to infuse my work with emotion, and this is something that really hit me as I was writing Strangers’ Kingdom, so I hope it’s something that comes across to you, the readers.

As I said, this is a book I put a lot of effort into. It took me nearly three years, off and on, to write – longer than any of my other novels, by far. But it was worth it. I’m very happy with it and I hope you will be, too. So do us both a favor and give it a read, will you? If you like mysteries, crime, and small-town stories about people doing their best I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about Strangers’ Kingdom by Brandon Barrows.