Goddess of Limbo by Lea Falls #giveaway

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Goddess of Limbo (The Forgotten Splinters Chronicles Book 1) by Lea Falls

Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy

Free will is a relic of the past. Souls have a prewritten path to heaven. If they miss it, they are doomed to roam the lost realm of limbo as splinters of their former selves or worse—as demons.

Their only hope is the reaper Alames, whose own soul shattered when her celestial lover, Balthos, usurped their creators to make them gods. In her absence, he builds a pantheon of monsters and tricks the mortals, whom he blames for his grief, into worshiping him. But when a new generation defies Balthos’s law, Alames’s splinters appear among them.

Brilliant physicist Ally longs for progress and innovation, but the Council controlling her nation strips the “Mad Princess” of power. Pregnant and uncertain, the unrivaled Captain Se’azana abandons her career for the false promises of love. The starving serf Richard makes a deal with a Fae demon to save his son. And teenage rebel Vana trades her guitar for a blade when faced with ruthless nobility.

When worlds tear and hearts break, will they defy the gods’ narrative to create a brighter future or will they obey the lies preached and doom their soul forever?

For fans of THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE and THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE comes an epic rollercoaster ride of demons, rebellion, and dark magic.

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Lea Falls is a writer, actor, and passionate lover of stories. Equally drawn to page and stage, she’s written plays, screenplays, poetry, short stories, and two novels, and has acted in numerous short films, plays, and improv shows. She earned her BFA in Acting at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and attended the Yale Writers Workshop. After a brief call and response with Londontown, she now lives in NYC with her wife, two cats, and a slither of skyline that never fails to inspire her. There, she spends her days murmuring lines over a keyboard or a script.

GODDESS OF LIMBO is her debut novel. Her short story EMILY’S HEIRS will appear in Hansen House’s ELIXIR: STORIES OF HOPE AND HEALING (AN LGBTQ+ SFF ANTHOLOGY), set to release in January 2022.

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Sugar Plum Kisses #giveaway

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Sugar Plum Kisses (A Sweet Christmas Romance Collection)

Do you hear the sleigh bells ringing?

Join over a dozen bestselling authors as they bring you an exclusive collection of Christmas-themed holiday romances. From small town coffee shops to cozy cottages, this set has everything you need to curl up in front of the fire with some hot chocolate or a pumpkin spice latte.

If you’re looking to be swept up in the magic and romance of the holiday season, look no further. We are here to make this and every Christmas merry and bright.

So sit back, relax, and one-click this cozy Christmas collection, because baby, it’s cold outside.

Featuring works from the following authors:
Samantha Calcott (aka USA Today bestselling author Lily Luchesi)
Monique Brasher
Katherine Moore
USA Today bestselling author H.M. Shander
Gill Fernley
USA Today bestselling author C.A. King
USA Today bestselling author Laura Ashwood
Melodie March
Donna Wright
Kristin MacQueen
Laurie Treacy
Amy Stephens
Alys Fraser
Jean Horak
Natalie Burton

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To Dunk Or Not To Dunk

by C.A. King

He’s a photographer, hell bent on showing reality through his work.

She’s an award-winning baker, continuing on the family business with the desire to leave her own mark on the world.

Both have childhood memories they want to forget.

Both have sacred family traditions which silence the past.

When their paths cross, will they be able to put aside their differences and answer the age old question… To Dunk Or Not To Dunk?

It might just take an old-fashioned Christmas bake-off to help them decide!

I was diagnosed with clinical depression after the loss of my mother, father and husband within three years of each other; all to cancer. 24/7 in-home care, coupled with the loss I felt, left its mark on my psyche.

Depression takes up a lot of my life. Reading and writing are the only things I have found that help (in connection with regular medication), even if only for a short time. To escape to a different world can make a big difference in my mood in real time.

To put things in perspective, when I was at my lowest point, I couldn’t open mail, talk on the phone, or even drive to the store. Walls of sadness surrounded me. As they closed in, tears would fall. There didn’t need to be a reason or trigger.

People ask me why I started writing. My answer is simple: I wanted to create a world into which other people with similar problems could escape. I wanted to share the one place that had helped me for many years.

I have always said that as long as one person finds a little bit of happiness out of my books, I am, in my opinion, an accomplished author. The same is true for every writer out there. Please don’t ever let anyone tell you different.

I read books as well as write them and have visited the worlds many different authors have created. Those worlds not only make me feel better, but give me the strength to face real life again. I want to thank everyone who writes—I want them to know they are making a difference.

Fast forward to today…

C.A. King, USA Today Bestselling Author has over 60 books available across multiple fantasy sub-genres.

Awards include:

Hamilton Spectator Readers’ Choice Award in the Best Local Author category 2017 & 2018 & 2019

Brant News Readers’ Choice Award: Best Local Author 2017 

Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards: Best Novella/Short Story 2017 Silver medal

2017 SIBA Awards – Best Novella

2017 SIBA Awards – Best New Adult

2018 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards: Gold Medal in the Fiction – Supernatural genre

2018 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards: Bronze Medal in the Fiction – New Adult genre

2019 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner in the Fiction – Supernatural genre

2019 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner in the Young Adult – Fantasy – Urban genre

City of Brantford Featured Artist February 2020

Burlington Post Readers’ Choice Award in the Best Local Author Category 2020

Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Award in the Best Local Author Category 2020

Cambridge Times Readers’ Choice Award in the Best Local Author Category 2020

Burlington Post Readers’ Choice Award in the Best Local Author Category 2021

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I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about Sugar Plum Kisses.

Dark Ride Deception by Mark S. Bacon #giveaway

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Dark Ride Deception (Nostalgia City Mysteries Book 4) by Mark S. Bacon

Genre: Mystery

Is Tom Wyrick Dead? The computer genius is missing. So are his priceless tech secrets. Time for Lyle to go undercover again.

Tom Wryick’s mind-bending technology will rocket Nostalgia City theme park decades ahead of the competition. But the computer genius is missing. So are his secrets. Is he dead? On the run? His billion-dollar, breathtaking discovery is the Perception Deception Effect.

An FBI agent theorizes the People’s Republic of China is responsible for the disappearance.The Nostalgia City CEO, however, is convinced a rival theme park is behind the theft. He drafts ex-cop turned theme park cab driver Lyle Deming to fly to Florida to find the missing computer scientist and recover his secrets.

Does this have anything to do with the severed human finger Lyle finds in his cab?

Back in Nostalgia City, park executive, 6’ 2” Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star, is persuaded to investigate the death of an actor starring in a Vietnam-era crime movie being filmed at the Arizona park. Nostalgia City is a meticulous re-creation of a 1970s small town.

Shrugging off jet lag, anxiety, and oppressive Florida humidity, Lyle goes undercover using a parade of false identities to snoop behind the scenes at another theme park’s engineering and computer offices. He’s forced to jump from one covert scheme to another as his identity is exposed, his safety jeopardized.

In the meantime, Kate confronts a mentally unstable actor—fresh out of rehab. But she may be forced to give up the murder case—Lyle needs help.

Kate and Lyle have little time to explore their nascent romantic relationship as both their investigations turn deadly, threatening them and the future of Nostalgia City.

* * *
“Mark S. Bacon’s well-told mystery is clever, smooth, and intriguing, with a reluctant detective who has just the right touch of self-deprecating humor. The author’s wry wit and engaging voice will keep you turning the pages of Dark Ride Deception until the very last satisfying twist.”

–Mary Adler, author of the Oliver Wright WWII mystery series

Recommended: Death in Nostalgia City, the first book in this series, was recommended for book clubs by the American Library Association.

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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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I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about Dark Ride Deception by Mark S. Bacon.

A Letter To Our Daughters by Jodi Leffingwell #giveaway

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A Letter To Our Daughters

by Jodi L. Leffingwell Ed D

Genre: Inspirational, Motivational

In a Letter to Our Daughters, the author took a letter to her daughters from the dedication of another of her books as a message of empowerment, belief, and hope. Every daughter, mother, and woman needs to be reminded that they are a gift to the world with incredible talent and unlimited potential.

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Jodi Leffingwell Ed. D holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Walden University, an MBA from Pfeiffer University, and a BA from Providence College. She is a field leader for a global organization, and her focus is on leadership development.

In addition to her current publication, A Letter to Our Daughters, Jodi is publishing a book centered on overcoming the obstacles women face moving from mid-level to senior and executive roles. The book is entitled: Life After Coffee: An Every Women’s Guide to Finding a Seat at the Table in Leadership.

She is an award-winning leader recognized throughout her industry as a thought leader, strategic planner, and developer of talent. Jodi’s passions are to challenge people to think, coach, and lead differently through developing their emotional intelligence and sphere of influence. Nothing gives her more satisfaction than seeing someone reach their potential or grow in their career while loving the job that they do.

 Jodi resides by the water in Rhode Island, and her favorite role is being a mom to Abigale and Aubrey and wife to husband, Eric.

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I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about A Letter to Our Daughters by Jodi Leffingwell.

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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Love is Coming to Town #giveaway

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Love Is Coming to Town
A Small Town Christmas Romance Anthology
with stories by
Rebecca Barton, Dawn Luedecke, Danielle Pays, Alexa Rivers, Kaci Rose, Megan Ryder, Bell Splendor, Kate Stacy, and Claire Wilder

What’s a small town Christmas without a little romance?

Fake relationships, second chances, friends to lovers, and sexy brother’s best friends.

Mix in some small town gossip, meddling matchmakers, and Christmas magic and you have a perfect holiday escape.

Finding His Cheer by Claire Wilder
He loved and lost. She’s just lost. This Christmas, will love be the thing that finds them both?

Operation: Christmas Seduction by Megan Ryder
A sexy bartender seduces his crush of Christmas trees, gifts, and cookies. But when the season ends, will their romance too?

Second Chance Christmas by Alexa Rivers
Breaking down outside her ex’s bar wasn’t part of the plan. Could a Christmas reunion reignite their old spark?

Love At Frost Sight by Bell Splendor
When two enemies come together, will it be steamy heat, or a melting iceberg of disaster?

Captivated by Danielle Pays
Needed: One fake boyfriend for the holidays. She never expected her brother’s best friend, aka her crush, to volunteer.

Twelve Days by Kate Stacy
She’s missing her usual holiday spirit, until a secret admirer gives her twelve days of Christmas she’ll never forget.

Christmas at La Villa Rosa by Rebecca Barton
Two creatives clashing on a joint project…surely it’s too cold to shut each other out, especially on Christmas Eve?

Her Second Chance Christmas by Kaci Rose
Her best friend’s Christmas wedding. A family reunion and the man she never thought she’d see again.

Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe by Dawn Luedecke
The only person who can put Sexy Santa in his place is a pain in the butt, and the perfect Mrs. Claus.

**Only .99 cents!!**

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I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about Love is Coming to Town.

Songs from the Wood by Kelly Pawlik #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.

Songs From the Wood (Olympic Vista Chronicles Book 2) by Kelly Pawlik

Genre: YA Horror, SciFi

Delve into the mystery of the strange, small town of Olympic Vista, WA.

In the days following a foray into a dilapidated house, twelve-year-old Darius Belcouer becomes desperate to find another unexplained phenomenon to investigate.

When animal attacks around town are reported in the news, Darius and Adelaide band together to solve the mystery. The trail leads them into the forest beyond Adelaide’s house where the pair discover that much like the small town itself, nothing in the woods is as it seems.

An eager new kid, a deadpan music-lover, a fast-talking troublemaker, an anxious bookworm and a girl torn between popularity and adventure. Follow this group of friends as they delve into the mysteries of their small town while juggling the trials and tribulations of their home lives.

Songs from the Wood is the sequel to Yesterday’s Gone, and the second novella in the Olympic Vista Chornicles.

Praise for the author:
Pawlik has a flare for writing about this period and I could truly visualize the eighties vibes through her description of music, fashion and even food.”

Pick up your copy today and join this motley group of friends as they journey into the strange!

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Kelly Pawlik dabbled with story writing from a young age. She spent her childhood reading, dressing her beloved cat, Midnight, up in doll clothes and hunting garter snakes in the backyard. Her favourite cartoon as a child was Jem and she is proud to own the full box set of DVDs. Her childhood dream was to be an author and she is proud to be bringing characters to life with the Olympic Vista Chronicles.

Kelly is a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) writer and has released multiple RPG supplements with her husband under their micro-publishing company, Dire Rugrat Publishing. She has also contributed to several best-selling works with Kobold Press.

Kelly lives on Vancouver Island, BC with her husband, their three inquisitive children, and two lazy cats.

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Would you like a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


Meet Author Kelly Pawlik

Kelly Pawlik dabbled with story writing from a young age. She spent her childhood reading, dressing her beloved cat, Midnight, up in doll clothes and hunting garter snakes in the backyard. Her favourite cartoon as a child was Jem and she is proud to own the full box set of DVDs. Her childhood dream was to be an author and she is proud to be bringing characters to life with the Olympic Vista Chronicles.

Kelly is a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) writer and has released multiple RPG supplements with her husband under their micro-publishing company, Dire Rugrat Publishing. She has also contributed to several best-selling works with Kobold Press.

Kelly lives on Vancouver Island, BC with her husband, their three inquisitive children, and two lazy cats.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads


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

My husband and I are both avid gamers. We play a lot of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGS). The characters in this book, or at least most of them, have appeared in various forms across a bunch of our campaigns. (This is probably one of my favorite versions of them though!) The Olympic Vista Chronicles are inspired by some time we spent playing the Tales From the Loop RPG, which is a great system set in “the 80s that never was.”

The characters have come to be very real for me, for both of us, and it’s a little scary but also super gratifying to put them out into the world in these novellas so other people can meet them.

So, what’s the deal with “The Link?”

The books are set in this small fictional town called Olympic Vista. (It’s not too far from Olympia, WA.) The whole town sort of formed around this research and development facility.  No one talks about exactly what they do there. It’s all pretty secretive. What people do know is that it was started by James Morrison. He ran the place for years, slowly growing it and bringing on more scientists. Dr. Morrison had a theory that everything was connected (or “linked”) and a lot of research stemmed from that. For the most part, the research is contained to the lab, but once in awhile something slips through, or an employee goes rogue, or the area just attracts some unwanted attention.

Some residents attribute weird happenings in town to the facility, but most people just go about their business, happy for the inexpensive houses and proximity to Olympia.

Why the 80s?

My husband and I had been playing the Tales From the Loop RPG, which is set in the 80s (“that never was”), but also, Stranger Things has been such a big influence in the media since its release.

Trends from lots of decades seem to circle back into style, but 80s trends are really coming back in all sort of places from fashion to home décor. I think there’s something about that time period. Even cartoon favorites like My Little Pony just don’t seem to go out of style, even if they’ve had a huge revamp appearance-wise.

I have very fond memories of watching Jem and Lady Lovelylocks, I can remember a collection of the hard sided plastic lunch boxes with images of She-ra or Sesame Street on them, and my brother was super into the Ninja Turtles, so we used to play that a lot. There’s just something about the more simplistic time of the 80s that has this nostalgia to it.

Plus, it’s way easier for kids to get themselves into and out of trouble when there aren’t hovering parents and cell phones!

What are your favorite things about the 80s?

The toys. I remember my Jem doll who didn’t fit any of Barbie’s clothes. She had these huge flat feet! Or the brightly colored toy rotary phone that every kid seemed to have.

Then there’s the cartoons. They are honestly so terrible, but in that nostalgic way. It’s amazing how far cartoons have come.

In truth, I was a bit young for some of the 80s vibes as I’m an 80s baby. (Of course, if you listen to Robin in How I Met Your Mother, the 80s didn’t come to Canada until the early 90s!) I’ve got some fond memories from the later 80s and early 90s though, and the internet is such an amazing thing.

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

A bit of both! I often find the dialogue writes itself. I can’t seem to control everything they say, for better or worse. The characters all have such distinctive personalities to me, their own flaws and hopes and aspirations. So, I have a general idea of where everything is going, but once in awhile they surprise me.

What is your favorite scene in Yesterday’s Gone?

There are so many I love, but I really enjoy the scene in the park after the kids have snuck into the haunted house. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but Darius’ excitement for the whole situation, and his willingness to just go with it, in contrast to the others who are still coming to grips with the discovery, it just makes me smile every time I read it.

What is your favorite scene in Songs from the Wood?

That’s tough. We really see a lot more of the home lives for these kids in book two, and I really like that. Darius’ interactions with his mother give us a better picture of who Darius is. We get to see Adelaide with her mother as well. And we get to meet Tetsu’s mother in book two, and she makes any scene she’s in wonderful. Tetsu has this way about him, but like so many kids, like so many people, it’s a façade. Mrs. Nomura is a no-nonsense woman and she adds this dynamic that I enjoy. There’s a lot of excitement in the woods, of course, but the banter (or lack of) between parent and child really excites me.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

It’s a little bit of everything: snappy dialogue, friendship, 80s nostalgia, a touch of horror and a small pinch of young love. It’s a quick read, so there isn’t a big commitment, but if you love it, there’s so much more to come. It was written to be a great read for busy adults. Pick it up, meet some new friends, and finish the adventure in an afternoon. What have you got to lose?

Who designed your book covers?

Greta Paliulyte. I found her through Fiverr and I loved her style. They are a bit different, maybe not in the usual wheelhouse of this type of book, but I love the sort of 80s vibe they give off, like a book you’d pull off a shelf in your grandma’s dusty basement.

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

Oh, that’s a fun question! I suppose it would be those scratch and sniff stickers from the 80s, but mixed with a musty old house.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I honestly read a lot of YA, especially fantasy YA. I like it, because I like an easy read, but sometimes I wish there was just a bit more to it, or a bit less than some of the books on the fiction market have. As a working parent I found I had less and less time to read and it was frustrating. I’d make it through some YA books now and then, and I enjoyed them, but I still wanted more.

So many people in my life think of me as an avid and voracious reader, but the number of books I was getting through in recent years really diminished. My goal with Olympic Vista Chronicles is to help other people like me, who want to read, who love to read, to feel like they have these bite-sized piece they can get through. The “problem” or adventure in each book is contained to that book, but strung together the series make a bigger and more satisfying story.

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?

Darius, the rich-kid from Boston, has such a curious mind. In some ways, he’s been super sheltered and the idea that he could have this group of friends, that he could go on these adventures, it’s really exhilarating for him.

Adelaide, is a bit different. She’s the glue that holds her circle of friends together, even if she doesn’t realize it. She’s had a tough life. Her mother can’t seem to hold down a job, she burns just about anything she cooks and she has horrible taste in men. Her dad isn’t in the picture at all and there’s been a revolving door of roommates over the years. Adelaide spends more time being the adult than her mother does, and Darius’ arrival in town gives her a chance to be a kid and get in trouble and just live.

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

None of the characters are based on anyone I’ve met exactly, but I don’t know if anything can come completely from people’s imagination; everything we do, everything we see, it can affect us. I have no doubt my interactions with various people, things they have said to me or I’ve ever heard, they all play a part in the creation of these characters. 

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

I might just be working on a few! I have an idea for a short story collection I’d like to put together. The main characters of the novella series won’t feature too prominently, but they’ll be around for parts of the book. Their friends, however… we’ll have to see!

In the meantime, there is a short story available to people who sign up for my newsletter. It’s still set in Olympic Vista, but it has very different characters. It’s much less horror and much more friendship with a touch of sadness. (I only send out a newsletter about once a month, but subscribers will get access to novella updates and behind-the-scenes information!)

There are some unanswered questions throughout the two books. Are the answers coming soon?

I really endeavour to wrap things up in each book, but Olympic Vista is a strange place and we’re following a group of preteens as they investigate the weirdness around them. Sometimes the answers are just out of reach, but don’t worry: a lot of questions will be answered in due time. 

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

I honestly can’t pinpoint when I become an author. I can remember trying to write stories before I could actually write. (I distinctly remember one of my older half-brothers refusing to sit as a captive audience writing down my every word!) And I know I played around with stories and poems through school. Several years ago, I started writing roleplaying game (RPG) supplements, and that just sort of kept evolving. Some of it was really rules based, but other parts were adventures or really descriptive.

As far as my novella fiction work goes, I dabbled a bit with passages of work that could become novels or short stories over the years, but nothing really came of it. Between work and kids, there just isn’t always a lot of time and the idea of actually writing a whole book and figuring out what to do with it was really intimidating.

When COVID hit and everyone tucked themselves away, I saw all these posts on social media about what people were doing with their free time I was a little jealous. I’ve got three kids and, due to a health scare with our youngest a couple of years ago, we decided to homeschool them last year. I felt like I had no time at all, let alone this extra time everyone was talking about!

Still, I felt inspired to take baby steps, so earlier this year I enrolled in an online writing course through the community college. It really pushed me to carve out a bit of time for writing. I wasn’t thrilled with the short story I had at the end of it, but it did reignite my passion for writing. My husband was super supportive and kept encouraging me to write more, and so I did. I ended up with a ton of words and too many ideas, so I sought some help from that instructor and she suggested going with a series of novellas. Now here we are!

Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Surrey, BC. I’ve never lived anywhere but Vancouver Island, but my mum was pregnant and went to the mainland for a concert with my father. Apparently, the doctor had said she’d be fine, but a few hours before the show she went into labour. I had to hear for years about how she knew exactly when Jethro Tull last played in the Vancouver area. I actually offered to buy her a ticket when they passed through again in 2011.

What do you enjoy most about writing this series?

I love getting to bring these characters to life, so to speak. They feel like friends to me, and writing out these adventures, instead of just having them in my head, allows other people to meet them, to love them or hate them (or love to hate them!).  It is also a lot of fun to dig deeper into the 80s. I have a playlist of songs I play to get me in the mood sometimes, and I’ve been digging out the 80s movies to watch as a family. It’s amazing what was acceptable back then!

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

So much! And sometimes it’s the small things. I’m from Canada, but I try to ensure the characters refer to things as they would in the US, so soda (not pop). I discovered that Bits-n-Bites are Canadian, so I had to swap them out for Chex Mix. Also, I’ve always called it Kraft Dinner, but I learned that in the US it’s called Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Who knew, right?

You’ve published two books now, both in the same series. Do you have a favorite, and if so, why?

The second book for sure. Yesterday’s Gone, the first book, has a lot of set up in it. I think that’s difficult to avoid in the first book in the series. Songs from the Wood has a lot more about the characters and their interactions with each other. There are more musical references and, I think, an even better feeling of the 80s. If you are on the fence with book one, I really recommend checking out book two. There’s a lot of fun in those pages, including a party!

Why did you decide to write YA?
I’m not sure I did, honestly. I set out to write this series with the intention of providing a great story to adults who were nostalgic for the 80s and wanted a fun, quick read. I often feel like I don’t have enough time to read anymore, and so when I do sit down with a book, I want to be able to get into it easily, to fall into the pages and feel like I’m right there, a part of the story.

I kind of tried avoid the idea of a YA novella, but here we are! I was surprised to learn that (according to different reports) between 55-70% of YA book sales are adults. It sounds like lots of adults love their YA fiction.

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

So many of them. Honestly. Just for different reasons. I’d be so nervous hanging out with Tetsu because of all the trouble he’d probably get us in, but he’s got a certain charm to him and it would be a day to never forget. I doubt I’d get to decide what we did though! Darius is just so enthusiastic it would be hard to not want to spend time with him. We could bike around or swim in his pool. And sweet little Kurt… I’d want to take him out of his house and let him go wild in the bookstore. Adelaide, well, I’d love to hear her deepest fears and promise her I’ll keep them a secret, then eat a big meal and hand her a packet of leftovers. Andy, and he doesn’t make much of an appearance yet, he’d be fun to spend time with. We’d go for a hike and get ice cream afterward, then maybe watch Indiana Jones or James Bond in the evening.

How to find time to write as a parent?

Oh my gosh, that’s difficult! Some days are way more successful than others. My kids are 7, 9 and 11. Sometimes they all want to play video games and I try to seize that opportunity to write in peace, but they usually end up fighting about whatever game they are playing. Sometimes my husband runs interference, but he’s got a job as well, so sometime I have to just give up.

I read this trick once about setting a schedule for writing where you have these zones: red zone means no writing; yellow zone is good for editing and review; green zone means you have no distractions and should be dedicated writing time. I often feel like I live in the red and yellow zones!

That said, my mum lives in town and she takes them for a sleepover now and then so I try to blitz through some words while they are out of the house.

What do your children think about you being an author? Are they supportive of your writing?

My kids are pretty happy for me to be doing something I want to do. I really had to explain how important my writing time was for them to understand how difficult it is when I’m interrupted. I try to make it up to them with visits to fun places, playing games (my son has a magnetic dart board and loves our daily games on it), and freezies.

I still get interrupted now and then, but they do their best. They were so excited for me when book one, Yesterday’s Gone, arrived in print at our house. Out of the blue sometimes one of them will say something like “I hope you sell a thousand copies of your book.” I love it. I love them. 

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Mother, RPG lover, mediocre gardener

What can we expect from you in the future?

More of this! I’m really excited about the Olympic Vista Chronicles series, so I’m working away on those. The first book was released in July and the second in September. The drafts for book three and book four are in various states, so it’s a great time to get into the series – there should be more books coming really soon!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?

I don’t know what’s going on in their heads! I (mostly) understand pre-teen and teen girls, but boys? My eldest isn’t quite that old yet, though he’s getting close, so I don’t have a lot of experience with that, and I didn’t have a lot of male friends when I was younger. I think it’s because the few there were kept breaking my toys and so I didn’t want them around! I do my best, work with how I feel the characters are, then look to my beta-readers. They’ve been really great at pointing out flaws. They tried to make suggestions with the girls though and I had to go back to my other beta-readers who assured me I’d captured the girls just fine.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I did, but I’m not sure I do now. I think you can be a position to write better or worse, as in some writing may require a much heavier editing hand, but I don’t think there’s a problem you can’t get past by just writing. You may have to skip further forward and then go back and fill in the blanks, but the best way through is to just write.

What are you currently reading?

I have about seven books on the go. It’s way too many! I’m at various points of An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and the Dead of Night by John Marsden (that last one is a re-read). I hope to finish some of them up soon, but I keep getting distracted.

I actually added another one to my pile, Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions. I’ve been much more diligent about reading it. He has this whimsical horror to his work that I love.

What makes a good story?

A good story makes you feel something. You feel what the characters do or you feel for the characters, or both. A story that makes you keep reading, makes you wonder what happens next, that’s a good story. A good story makes you invest yourself in it. It makes you care.

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