Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When the Chapter Ends...

Last week, authors around the world were stunned to learn of the sudden death of Monique O’Connor James. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I was in awe of her sparkling online personality and her willingness to help. Her books were full of magic, with a dash of darkness.
I remember having no idea how to go about getting my books and my name out. Along came Monique, with a brilliant idea. She decided to create a scavenger hunt and invite readers to look at several author website, looking for answers to clues she would give on her blog. All we had to do was provide her with a link to our blog or website, and an ebook for a prize, and she’d do the rest. I eagerly accepted the offer, and was amazed at her creativity. I gained a few readers, and respect for her marketing savvy.

Monique continued to write stories, often set in her native Louisiana. But now the voice behind those stories is silent. We all grieve, but we ache also for the children she left behind. Her family needs our help. An online fundraising campaign has been set up to assist them through this terrible time. If you can help, please go to

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Release: Fresh Beginnings by Iris Blobel

I’m delighted to once again welcome fellow Astraea Press author Iris Blobel. Iris was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.
Iris is here to share her brand new release with us. Fresh Beginnings is the third in her series featuring the Levesque sisters. New Beginnings was published a year ago, and More Beginnings released in January. Let’s see how the story continues:

The small town of Hobart in Tasmania has witnessed many beginnings in recent years. At yet one more beginning, the wedding of a friend, Jared Fraser decides it’s time for some fresh beginnings to come his way… And he sets out for a holiday to the US to travel along the Route 66 in a motorhome.
Ivy Bennett thought leaving her boyfriend would be the hard part. It doesn’t take long to figure out how wrong she was. As she struggles with making a new start in her life, the last person she expects to lead her to happiness is a laid-back Australian on holiday.
Then the arrival of family friend Mia Levesque and her boyfriend, Josh, turns Jared’s holidays upside-down when he’s forced to play arbitrator between the two teenagers.

"G'day!" He stared at her and for some reason something tugged at his heart. Not that he wanted that. He had no room for women, let alone American ones. They all were on earth to make life complicated. Mark was constantly running around for Sophie or Hope, even though Mark's wife was one in a million and little Hope was simply adorable, especially when she was asleep.
"Ya know it's dangerous to hitch a ride," he finally said when she was still quiet.
She stared at him for a moment, but then replied with the typical American twang in her voice. "I know you said something, but I have no idea what."
He chuckled. "It is dangerous to hitchhike," he repeated with exaggerated pronunciation.
The woman stepped a bit closer to the window. "Are you from Austria?"
He laughed aloud.
"Australia, I meant," she added, seemingly embarrassed by the mistake.
"I am indeed." He watched her looking ahead towards the horizon. "So you wanna hitch a ride?"
Jared had a feeling she didn't want to, but her current situation didn't give her many choices. There they were in the middle of nowhere, with the next place a fair few miles away.
"Name's Jared," he said and then he opened the door and walked around the motorhome. Leaning against the vehicle, he looked at her. She was pretty. Thin, but pretty. When her brown eyes met his, he experienced another one of those heart tugs and wasn't impressed at all. He tried to look right past her. It wasn't happening though. They were like magnets.
"Jared," he repeated and held out his hand.
Her look went right past him into the distance, and he assumed she was fighting with herself, part of her wanting to get off the road, the other part being worried.
"Anybody else travelling with you?" she asked quietly.
He shook his head. "Nope."
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and, after a brief moment, reached for his hand. "Nice meeting you."
Acknowledging that she wasn't much into sharing details like her name, he opened the door for her. "Where are ya headin'?" he asked.
A smile started in her eyes and played with the corner of her lips. He felt himself smiling back. There was an appreciation in her smile.
"Could you drop me off at the next stop?" she asked hesitantly.
"Most certainly, but where are ya headin?"
She shrugged. "Kingman?"
"Is that on this road?"
Nodding, she said. "Yes, it is. It should be less than a hundred miles along this highway."
"Then hop in."
She turned to get into the motorhome, and he took in her small stature and the narrow shoulders which seemed even smaller in her tight, red T-shirt. Jared noticed her cargoes were just hanging onto her hips. A nice steak wouldn't go astray on these hips. Suddenly she stopped and moved to look at him. "Thank you," she whispered.
"No worries mate."
Jared held her gaze and wasn't sure what to say or do. She simply stood in front of him like frozen.
"My name is Ivy," she said after a long moment.
"Hedera. An evergreen climbing or ground-creeping woody plant in the family Araliaceae."
With a frown, she stared at him. "I really didn't understand that one."
He laughed. "Sorry, mate. I got carried away. I'm a landscaper. Ivy is a climbing plant." Scratching the back of his head, he added, slightly self-conscious, "And, of course, a beautiful name."
There was a small laugh as she stepped into the motorhome. He went around and slid behind the wheel before driving back onto the road. There was a long silence, and Jared wasn't really sure what to do or say. Usually, he was good with silence. Actually, he loved it. But at that moment, the silence made him uncomfortable.
"So, what brings ya out into the middle of the sticks?"
When there was no reply, he turned and looked at her. There was a big frown on her face, and he sighed.
"I thought you all speak English as well?"
"We do," she said with a slight giggle. "But I'm not so sure about you Australians."
With a grin he replied, "Now, don't be cheeky, Ivy."
"Don't bite the hand that feeds you, my mom always said." She laughed. "No way would I make fun of you."
"So, you're expectin' a meal as well?"
There was a moment of silence again, and he glanced over. The smile was gone and panic was written all over her face.

"I… I didn't—"

Quickly he reached out for her hand. "I'm pulling your leg." And when she didn't reply again, he muttered, "This thing with you Americans not understanding English is turning into a problem. I was kiddin'."
"Pulling your leg?" She shook her head. "Never heard of it."
A bark of laughter filled the small space. "Anyway. Talkin' about food. There's a small place ahead. Want some lunch?"

Fresh Beginnings is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and several other ebook outlets.

Iris can be found at her blog and on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Character Interview: Someone Always Loved You by Brooke Williams

         Brooke Williams was supposed to come and visit today, but she’s busy, so she sent two characters from her recent release Someone Always Loved You to chat with us. Let’s welcome Jay and Jordan:


My name is Jay Bartlett and I thank you for having me here today.


Hi, Jay! How did you first meet your writer?

My writer came into my life at a difficult time. I had already been through a lot, but I met her on my very first day as an ambulance driver. I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life so I gave it my all and took my classes seriously. I knew I would be the best. However, I hit a pedestrian on my first day on the job and that’s where my writer began my story.

Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
I think she was a little confused by me. She didn’t know where the story was heading any more than I did. She was just along for the ride, with her fingers crossed that everything would turn out okay for me, my family, and everyone else involved!

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I’d take out all of the dumb things I did in the past and concentrate on my future. It is much brighter. It took me quite a while to get on the straight and narrow and I’m not proud of some of the things the writer showcased about me. But overall, I am who I am and I made the mistakes I made. In many ways, they have made me who I am today. So in light of that fact, I guess there’s not much I should change about my past. I like where my future is headed.

I’m Jordan James and I appreciate you interviewing me on your blog.

Welcome, Jordan! Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Certainly not. All I’ve ever wanted to do was help other people. I enjoyed my furlough at the orphanage back when I was in college, even if I wasn’t really there to help with the children. And my career at Heritage Homes has allowed me to gain access to the giving side of many within the community. It makes my day to see things work out for other people. So when I heard that you actually wanted to interview me, it was quite a shock.

What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?
I’m actually in a coma throughout the book, but I’m more a part of the action then you might think. Being in a coma was a trying time for me because I could often hear the people around me and it was so hard not to be able to reach out and touch them or reassure them. My comatose state, however, gave me a chance to work a lot of my past out in my own mind. I love the memories I had and how I kind of re-lived a lot of my life, both good and bad. Course, nothing beats waking up…

Do you like the way the book ended?
It’s a little ambiguous and I’m surprised by the way that people take it. I find it interesting that some people feel like it is a concrete, happy ending and others think perhaps it is a little sad. Some have even said they aren’t sure what happens to me one way or the other. I personally think the ending is beautiful and just right. It is what each reader wants it to be. I like to air on the happy ending side myself.

Thanks for visiting, Jay and Jordan! Brooke Williams is an award-winning author and freelance writer. She began her career in radio, both on the air and behind the scenes. She did a brief stint in TV news and then took on her most challenging job as a stay at home mom. During the few quiet hours in her day, Brooke writes articles for a number of clients as well as fiction creations such as “Someone Always Loved You.” Brooke has also written “Beyond the Bars,” a thriller, “God in the Kitchen,” a Christian novel, and “Taxi Delivery,” a Christian Romance. Brooke looks forward to the December 9th release of “Wrong Place, Right Time,” a romantic comedy and the February 2015 release of “Accept this Dandelion” inspired by the Bachelor TV show. Brook has been married to her husband Sean since 2002 and has two daughters, Kaelyn and Sadie.

Someone Always Loved You is available at Amazon

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Release: Lucid by L. E. Fred

Today’s highlight features author L. E. Fred and her brand new book Lucid. Currently, L. E. is beginning a new adventure as an English instructor in Shobara-shi, Hiratsuka, Japan. I am SO envious! L. E. holds a degree in psychology and tells us she “tends to get lost in the mind, the greatest adventure of all.”
L. E. answered a few questions for us:

PK:What inspired the creation of Lucid?
LEF: I started writing Lucid after experiencing my first lucid dream. It’s a very out-of-body and surreal experience. We’re used to dreaming every night, but being able to control your actions and fate in the dream world is almost a magical thing. After figuring out how to wake up (yes, you have to oftentimes find your way out of the dreams,) I started pondering the idea of a dream world actually existing, and before I knew it, I had Devon and the plot for Lucid.

 PK: You write from the P.O.V. of a 15 year-old boy. Is there anyone who shaped Devon’s character as the protagonist?
LEF: A wonderful counselor-in-training that I worked with actually inspired Devon’s character. Real-life Devon, who shall be nameless, was one of those campers that turned into a CIT when he outgrew the camp’s age groups. I never went to summer camp as a child, so working at one was a very interesting experience. I got to witness real-life Devon change from being a happy-go-lucky camper to a miserable CIT. As for Devon’s personality, that was shaped by my own sense of humor. I wrote Lucid through Devon’s eyes, and my own commentary sort of slipped through. It fit his sarcastic nature, though, and rereading some parts still makes me laugh.

PK: What about the villains? How did they come to be?
LEF: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by mythological monsters. There seems to be a common thread of villainous snakes and lions. A chimera combines these two deadly creatures, along with a goat, into one evil creature. I liked the idea of having three diverse villains; the more you get to know a villain, the scarier they can become for the reader and the heroes. As I wrote, Serpentine, Gruff, and Leona, seemed to appear out of nowhere to fit the evil villain’s roles. The Nightmares were a little trickier. I thought long and hard about how they should be portrayed, and I eventually started combining features of animals and creatures that people feared the most into one character. That’s why they have shark teeth and devil horns.

PK: Lucid is your first novel. Are you currently working on anything else?
LEF: Since Devon and his friends’ story didn’t want to finish at the end of Lucid, I’m currently working on the sequel. The story will continue our heroes’ adventure, but you’ll get to hear from other characters in it. It will also have much more of a fantasy element with an even crazier cast of characters. Aside from Lucid, I’m working on two more stories, both in the YA fiction genre.

PK: What inspired you to write YA fiction?

LEF: I’m a teacher, so I love working with young adults and teens. I’ve seen the power of books transform kids’ ways of thinking about the world and boost confidence. Never underestimate the power of reading. I know it played an important role in shaping my future, and I hope to reach out to as many young adults to inspire them to find their inner heroes and go change the world for the better.
Here’s the blurb for Lucid:
Devon Alexander is a 15 year-old teenager coping with the monotonous reality of his average life. His life receives an interesting reprieve as he has his first realistic dream of a spaceship. The strangest thing about the dream is that he seems to be the only one on board who isn’t in a dream-like trance. Before he can figure out anything about the dream or his strange shipmates, he manages to wake up. The next day, Devon catches a news story about inexplicable comas taking place all over the world. Devon’s life becomes increasingly interesting as he recognizes some of the victims from his spaceship trip.
Devon and an unlikely group of other teens start devising a plan to find out who is behind the strange dreams and the comas. Their plan is not only successful but immerses them in to the fantastical world that only resides in dreams. While in the dream world, the teens learn about the power of teamwork, a new world of culture, and their hidden potential to be heroes.
Suspenseful, funny at the worst times, and just a hint of teenage romance, Lucid takes a group of young adults and throws them into a fantasy world that they only thought could exist in their dreams. In a sense, they’re right.

And here’s a short excerpt:
I know that most adventure/fantasy/whatever-you-would-like-to–call-these-stories start with something magical, but my story starts with something ordinary, dreams. I’m talking about the “I’m taking a test and don’t realize I’m in my underwear” kind of dreams. We have them every night, whether we remember them or not. Sometimes they leave us waking up with excitement or inspiration. Sometimes they cause us to wake with a shriek and to look around our rooms. Sometimes they leave us waking up confused or ashamed. These experiences are probably commonplace for most people, but I doubt any of you could ever say your dreams caused you to stay asleep for a long period of time.
  What if your dreams made you disappear?

Lucid can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook outlets.

L. E. Fred can be found at her blog and on Facebook and Goodreads.