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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Broken Legacy by Colleen Connally #ReviewShare #BookReview

Broken LegacyBroken Legacy by Colleen Connally
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did the plot pull you in or did you feel you had to force yourself to read the book? The plot was easy to fall in love with and the characters were unique. As each character sweeps in, you are able to relate with what they are saying and their actions. I did not feel forced to read the book, this is a good book I recommend.

How realistic was the characterisation? The actions of the characters were sometimes plausible and sometimes too dramatic. I also felt that the extreme differences of the two main characters were questionable. Lord Lenister is devious and wants Eloise for his benefit. Lady Eloise who seems well versed about so many things and yet naive when it comes Lord Lenister.

Did you feel you were experiencing the time and place in which the book was set? Yes and no. When the scene consisted of only the main characters, it was easy to experience what they were going through. When the scene involved a different setting such as a place or scenic background, it felt as if the author rushed through these and it was hard to experience the place the characters were at.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

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Author Interview – Nadine Ducca

11:00 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

How much of the book is realistic? We’re talking about a sci-fantasy adventure here involving an interplanetary pilot, a biorobotics engineer, a demonologist, and the goddess of time. I don’t think realism is top priority in Serving Time! In a world of fantasy and science fiction, the most realistic part of the book is the relationship between the characters: their fears, reactions and conversations. Other elements such as a demon popping up in the hero’s bed in the middle of the night and scaring the space monkeys out of him are, well…less realistic.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? Actually, I haven’t included much, since I wanted to use my imagination to create a completely different universe. The heroes’ life experiences are similar to my own, and they do happen to come from Barcelona, Catalonia (my place of residence)… But that’s about it. There are references to certain groups of people such as the Stoners, who are an obscure representation of a group of people I met years ago who tricked me into a false friendship just to leave me out to dry (yeah, I admit I don’t do them any favor in the book!). Other than that, everything is a product of my imagination. Of course, I must have inserted some details without even realizing, but I can’t put my finger on any right now.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it? Serving Time began as an experiment. In the past, I had written and published several flash fiction pieces, and I had some short stories considered by magazines. I’d written two or three novels, but I had never before actually finished one. You know, from beginning to end and without any gaps in between. Writing Serving Time taught me precisely that: how to write a novel! The experience helped me improve my writing and editing skills (you’ll never hear me say my writing is perfect), taught me a whole bunch of stuff about the publishing world and how to format books (not so bad once you get the hang of it), and even a bit of marketing (I’m working on that).

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support? The people who held my hand while I wandered (and sometimes stumbled) down the road to publication are all incredible readers, writers, mothers, fathers, and all members of Critique Circle. At the end of Serving Time, I include an acknowledgements section for all the great critiquers and fellow authors who helped my dream come true: Mandi Oyster, David Bridge, Rick Ellrod, Carrie Lange, Chuck Robertson, Duane Simolke, Steven Young, Chris Batchelor, Joy Basham, Heidi Mannan, Tom Chelmowski, Kelly Walker, Lisa Reece, Ashley Whitt, John Kang, Nathan Jones, and Ivan Borodin.

What contributes to making a writer successful? Apart from writing interesting novels with great characters and entertaining story arcs, I think one of the main factors of being a successful writer is humbleness, especially if you’re just starting out. Being successful means listening to advice and not being too stubborn. There are literally thousands of people out there ready to offer you a helping hand, and just as many people in need of your help.

Serving Time

Life and death have been industrialized. The Forge, the birthplace of every soul, is a rumbling factory owned by the goddess Time, managed by Lucifer, and powered by the labor of demons and imps. In this dystopian world, a renegade interplanetary pilot running from his past doesn’t stand a chance.

Handling Neptunian meth and dodging security cannons are all in a day’s work for Tristan Cross—not that he’s one to complain. Working for the smuggling company StarCorp is an improvement over what he used to do for a living.

However, when StarCorp gives Tristan a one-way ticket into the brainwashed—and disturbingly suicidal—Loyal League, he decides to run from the company and start a new life in the only safe haven he knows: Earth. With the help of his brother, Tristan embarks on the most hazardous journey of his life, one that will place him at Time’s mercy. Little does he know the demons running the universe are craving a feast, and his own soul is the next item on the menu.

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Genre – Science Fiction/Fantasy

Rating – Adult

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Serving Time by Nadine Ducca #ReviewShare #BookReview

10:30 AM Posted by Quality Reads UK , , No comments
Serving Time (Servants of Time, #1)Serving Time by Nadine Ducca
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What were the main relationships explored in this book? This book offers a twisted answer to this question. At first glance, you think it's about two brothers. One likes things as they are and another wants to move on. But then when I thought about it, that's just one of the stories. For me, the key relationship in this book is the one we ultimately have with ourselves. The invisibility we want to feel, the race we find ourselves in sometimes not knowing what it is we're racing to and like Tristan, the conflict we feel between what we want and what is expected of us.

3 things I liked about the book … The writing definitely wins hands down. Nadine Ducca has an almost poetic style that slowly calls out to you and pulls you into the story. Second thing I liked was her use of names. Time, Lucifer, Tristan … these almost had double meanings. Lastly, I adored the cover. The way Time (I am assuming) is calling out to the reader, simply fantastic.

Favourite character(s) … Tough one. I choose Time. I looked forward to her scenes, anf the physical appearance described in the story made me think of Ariel in the Little Mermaid. She seems to have so much authority and yet her insecurities seem to overpower her at times. I connected with her the easiest of them all.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

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Author Interview – Geoff Nelder

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? As a former teacher of Geography I insist of having accuracy in my settings. Hence I wave goodbye to my wife (threatening to change the locks while I’m away) to travel to Malta, Wales, and Mallorca in the quest for authenticity. So much so I was arrested for trespass on Mallorca, but I escaped from the Galactic police when I tried to jump from one of Saturn’s rings to another. Sensory Show such as fragrances and colours are important to me to get right and so I need to smell the flowers, soil and rocks as well as the exotic aromas of foreign cities.

What books have most influenced your life? Although I read the bible as a youth, it was more as a cultural informative experience than a religious one. Both my atheist parents encouraged me to read Socrates via Plato’s work, and I learnt by heart the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (the Fitzgerald translation). More recently I take inspiration from (to mix the religious origins) the koan-like homilies of Idries Shah such as The Pleasantries of the incredible Mulla Nasrudin. I enjoyed the 1820s poets for my school literature classes (Keats, Wordsworth, Shelley and Robert Burns) and the works of Oscar Wilde. Their irreverence for authority and experimental styles influenced me very much.

Who is your favorite author and why? Julian Barnes, a literary writer with ironic wit and a complete grasp of his writing art and the human condition. I met his Arthur & George because it was a chosen novel in a literary book group I joined (I am the only man so get to take home a different woman after each meeting. Don’t’ tell my wife). A marvellous narrative – whimsical and clever. I read everything I can get from the man. His preoccupation with death and its preparation is of morbid interest for me. He’s too good, damn him.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Publishing is changing so rapidly that although I prefer to read a paper book, likely I will be writing e-book only novels. My shorts will get more an airing in the ether too. I have written 7 novels, once the two WIP are done, so in five years I anticipate being freer to experiment more with plot and narrative style.

What are your current writing projects now? I am working hard on completing the ARIA trilogy. The sequel ARIA: Returning Left Luggage is finished and will be published by the end of June 2013. The final book is ARIA: Abandoned Luggage and I am two thirds into writing it. I often have more than one writing project on the go and Xaghra’s Revenge is about finished. It’s a magic realism fantasy based on the true event of the entire population of Gozo being abducted by pirates in 1551. Well, all those spirits are crying out for revenge, aren’t they?

I also pen articles for Cycling World based on mad things I do with wheels. For example I cycled up a Greek volcano in 2012.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why? Lauren Beukes (Zoo City) and Hannu Rajaniemi (Quantum Thief) write clever science fiction with such concepts as telepathic cities and symbiotic pets. China Mieville, M. John Harrison and Jon Courtenay Grimwood are modern SF writers with a flair for experimental plotting and new ideas.

Do you have any advice for writers? Don’t self-publish your novel before asking for honest comments from experienced writers, editors and readers. The best plan is to read as many books on writing as you can including Stephen King’s On Writing, Sol Stein’s many tomes on writing and a slim ebook called How to Win Short Story Competitions. It has lots of advice relevant to novels too and delves via anecdotes and examples into Show not Tell, active voice and 3d characterization. It’s written by two experienced story competition judges, Dave Haslett and Geoff Nelder – yes, that’s me!

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? You will enjoy ARIA even if you are not a science fiction reader per se. It is a medical mystery, an adventure, an exploration of life’s difficulties and how to cope with disaster. There are no aliens and weird rocket ships in volume one. They come later but be prepared for the lack of stereotype.

Have you considered making a video trailer to help lure readers? Yes, thanks for asking! Creating a short video trailer that is a hook and artistic is part of the creative process for me. I create a screenplay for the video along with ideas for text and music and engage Kim at Blazing Trailers to put it all together. Here is the YouTube for ARIA

Please click a like on it for me!

Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia

Today, Jack caught a bug at work. He catches a bus home. By the time he disembarks in the desert town of Rosamond, all the other passengers and the driver have fuzzy heads. Jack had caught an amnesia bug, and it’s infectious.

Imagine the ramifications:

The passengers arrive home, infecting family; some shop en route infecting everyone they meet. The bus driver receives more passengers giving them change for last week’s prices and today’s amnesia. Some passengers work at the power plant, the water treatment works, the hospital, fire station. All shut down in weeks.

One man, Ryder Nape, realizes what’s going on, but can he persuade friends to barricade themselves in a secluded valley, hiding from the amnesia bug?


“Geoff Nelder inhabits Science Fiction the way other people inhabit their clothes.”  — Jon Courtenay Grimwood

“Geoff Nelder’s ARIA has the right stuff. He makes us ask the most important question in science fiction–the one about the true limits of personal responsibility.”  —Brad Linaweaver

Robert J. Sawyer calls ARIA a “fascinating project.”

“ARIA has an intriguing premise, and is written in a very accessible style.” —Mike Resnick

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Genre – Science Fiction / Medical Mystery

Rating – PG

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Review: ARIA: Left Luggage by Geoff Nelder

5:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments
ARIA: Left LuggageARIA: Left Luggage by Geoff Nelder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Favourite location / setting … When Ryder observes the Marimar (jet) and he is so awestruck that he almost forgets the recent incidences. Ryder was my favourite throughout the book. He always puts others ahead of himself. And while some may think it is stupid, it struck me as compassionate. Given that they were dealing with something so dangerous, he made it a point to have a "first one in, last one out" attitude.
Favourite scene …. Reading this book got many of us thinking about what it would be like to not remember things that had happened so my favourite scene is when Teresa explains what ARIA actually is and how people are actually diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Of all the diseases aliens are able to release on humans, I wonder why the author picked memory loss? Has he dealt with something similar in his own life, which then inspired the foundation of this story?
Favourite quote … "But unless you talk to us, we’ve little idea about how you feel.” - This applies to real-life as well. There were many part of this book, although it revolves around science fiction elements, that had a realistic feel.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

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Author Interview - Colleen Connally

5:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Who is your favorite author? I love J K Rowlings, Suzanne Collins, Steven King (his early books), Kathleen Woodiwiss, Mary Higgins Clark, and Margaret Mitchell. But if I had to choose my one favorite author—Victoria Holt. Absolutely love all her work under all her pen names, Jean Plaidy and Phillipa Carr.

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you live now. I’m a Southern girl at heart. I was born in the deep South. My roots are Southern. I always say you can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl. But I have lived the last twenty-eight years in New England. My husband is Boston bred. It’s my home now. You can’t get much different from the conservative South to the liberal Northeast. I do believe that my experiences have influenced my writing. It’s given me a better understanding of other people’s views.

How did you did you develop your writing?  I had always dreamed of writing, but once the decision was made to write, I didn’t have a clue on what it entailed. I graduated college with a science degree. I never took creative writing. I had to teach myself. I took every bit of criticism, praise…basically any feedback until I gained confidence in my writing. I believe everyone has their own style of writing. It’s your voice. I believe you need to keep that voice. Don’t try to imitate someone else.

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you? My husband is the best. He has always supported me in my dream. I will never forget my first Mother’s Day. He surprised me with a typewriter. (I am dating myself. It was before computers.) Though, it was a few years before I got serious with my writing that gesture touched me greatly. It does help beyond words to have someone who believes in you in that way.

I am fortunate with my family and friends. The only thing that gets confusing is my pen names. I write under three names. I will admit one of my daughters questioned who Colleen Connally was when I first released Seductive Secrets.

Do you plan to publish more books? I have a few already in the works. The third book in Secret Lives Series, Seductive Lies by Colleen Connally, is due to be released late August, early September. I’m also planning on releasing a Civil War saga next year under Colleen Connally, which I’m excited about.

Under Carrie James Haynes, the fifth installment of Whispers of a Legend, is scheduled to be released by this coming Christmas. I also have the conclusion to the Winds of Betrayal series, The Heavens Shall Fall under Jerri Hines, set to be released in 2014.

Broken Legacy

Lord Gerard Lenister needed the lady…after their meeting, he wanted her.

For seventeen years Lady Eloise Granville lived in France thinking herself a bastard. Not until her life was threatened did her father cross the English Channel to reclaim her as his legitimate daughter. Now four years later a revolution roars its ugly head in France. Rumors abound of Lady Eloise’s life before her emergence in England…rumors that link her to the notorious leaders of the French Revolution.

Lord Gerard Lenister knows well the whispered connections Lady Eloise has across the Channel and the disdain that Society holds for the lady. It matters little to him. He could have cared less if she was the incarnation of a she-devil. He would marry Jezebel herself if she helped him on his mission. He is that desperate…but soon he discovers that Lady Eloise is not what she seems.

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Genre - Historical Romance

Rating – R

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: White Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler

5:30 PM Posted by James Noel 1 comment
White ChalkWhite Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Which did you find more appealing, the introduction or the conclusion? Appealing isn't the right word. The introduction was the run of the mill meet the the characters but the conclusion, that was powerful and sucked me in. And I mean the kind of conclusion that stays with you everytime you see your child or grandchild go to school.

Is the plot well-developed? Yes. This is one of the best plots I've seen in a long time. The author has taken an issue that teenagers face everyday and painted it with the worst-case scenario.

Describe what is happening in the first part of the book. Chelle talks about Troy and about her classmates. She mentions Mr.Harris which of course makes you think there's something special but nothing prepares you for what happens later on.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

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Angelina Rose – Those Review Blues …

4:15 PM Posted by James Noel , 1 comment

      Is there any book you really don’t enjoy? I did not enjoy reading, or attempting to read, The Sound and the Fury.

      What do you hope your obituary will day about you? That I stayed true to myself… she did what was natural for her, and didn’t let anyone take it from her.

      Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live? I grew up in the country in Australia. Mum was widowed, so life was tough for us as a family. We moved to the outskirts of the city of Sydney when I was a teenager, so my brother, sister and myself could follow our dreams yet still stay together as a family. I grew up listening to the radio (we didn’t have TV), so my imagination took over when I would listen to songs, or stories and extend on them and, of course, give my version of the story. It often ended up very different to the original. The fact I had to entertain myself really had my imagination in overdrive, but my mother said my imagination worked from the time I was really young… she told me I talked young and never stopped!

      I now live in Sydney, Australia and spend a reasonable amount of time in Maui and Boston.

      How did you develop your writing? From the age of 6 I was writing “stories” that my teacher thought were interesting enough to be read out to my class. It depended on what interested me at the time as to what I wrote about, and if I did write.

      Writing developed more when I was a young teen … I entered various writing competitions in the hope I would win a prize so I could help Mum out financially. Then in Nursing School there were many assignments … so my writing developed more there.

      And now the more romance stories I write, the longer they get with more twists and turns, and suspense is definitely creeping in.

      Where do you get your inspiration from? Life. People have always fascinated me… from a young age I have been a “people watcher”. I used to sit on the fence-post at Mum’s and make up poetry about people as they passed by me. Mind you, some of these people would then knock on our front door and tell Mum she had a cheeky daughter. That still makes me smile. So, the people I work with, people I have nursed… when I meet them, my mind starts working overtime wondering if their life was really anything like I thought it would be. Sometimes the way someone dresses, they way they talk inspires a whole story around them.

    The Eyes of Love

    With THE EYES OF LOVE author Angelina Rose introduces you to a fun and emotional contemporary Mill Creek Crossing Romance series.

    Sally Overby is having a bad time: she is tired of going to bed alone and not having a shoulder to lean on. After becoming widowed 5 years ago she wanted to feel safe: she completed college, became an attorney and continued to raise her young son, David. When she receives her invitation to attend her fifteen-year high school reunion, she wonders about the gorgeous guy she had a schoolgirl crush on. What has happened to Colin Dean? Has he married Stephanie, his high school sweetheart, had they broken up? Where is he now, would he be at the reunion?

    Colin Dean has a successful Real Estate business in Mill Creek Crossing and really has his pick of women now he and Stephanie have divorced. Colin thinks his life is great just as it is now, until the day he finds Sally in Mill Creek Crossing when she returns to attend the reunion. Not only has he never met anyone so lovely, both inside and out, he realizes she has a few issues with opening her heart to love again. Soon, he is willing to move mountains to love and protect her, but will she let him?

    Sally is wary to love deeply. Only, with every loving look Colin gives her plus every sweet kiss, as the attraction between them sparks, she can’t help but wonder if she’s met the one she should be with. And although Colin didn’t realize his life was going to change so quickly, amazingly, he isn’t the least bit interested in fighting that change. Instead, he’s gearing up for a different fight altogether. The one for Sally’s heart.

    Buy Now @ Amazon

    Genre - Romance Contemporary

    Rating – PG

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Author Interview – Pavarti K. Tyler

2:00 PM Posted by James Noel , 1 comment


What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? Tools don’t matter.  There are no tricks.  Some things will work for you, others won’t.  And it will be different for everyone.  The real trick?  Shut up and write something.

What do you do to unwind and relax? I knit and play with the giant dog :)   I also love to read and have just started watching the Game of Thrones series which is fun.

Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us? Yes!  I’ll be at the Johns Hopkins University Barnes & Noble (Baltimore, MD) on August 4th 2013. (  Copies of White Chalk will be available for purchase at the event for me to sign!

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? Find the beauty.  It’s always in there.  Every person, every tragedy has a touch of beauty.  If you take the time to see it, it will change the world.

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? Damn, that was a good story!

White Chalk

Chelle isn’t what most people consider a typical 13-year-old girl—she doesn’t laugh with friends, play sports, or hang out at the mall after school. Instead, she navigates a world well beyond her years.

Life in Dawson, ND spins on as she grasps at people, pleading for someone to save her—to return her to the simple childhood of unicorns on her bedroom wall and stories on her father’s knee.

When Troy Christiansen walks into her life, Chelle is desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. After experiencing a tragedy at school, her world begins to crack, causing a deeper scar in her already fragile psyche.

Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.

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Genre - Literary Fiction/Coming of Age

Rating – R (15+)

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Author Interview – Jacqueline Patricks

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Can we expect more books from you in the future? Absolutely! No matter what happens, good or bad, I can’t stop writing anyway, so I might as well publish my work.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? Yes, but in a subtle way. I’ve done a lot of traveling, was enlisted in the Army, am in my 20th year working as a paramedic, tried numerous activities such as scuba diving and snow skiing, and love chatting with all different kinds of people. I do incorporate my life experiences into everything I write by taking bits and pieces from each source and mashing them together.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories? Most of my ideas come from my dreams, but I like to read current events and really pay attention to the normal world. I dump a lot of information into my head, then it all marinates until something original and unique percolates to the surface.

How did you develop your plot and your characters? Well, I’m a total pantser! I used to create outlines, but realized they stifle me. I start with an idea or premise, sometimes just a very simple one, and I’m off. I develop everything on the fly, only stopping to research as needed or research a bit beforehand if the scene starts the story.  I generally write from start to finish chronologically, but if I have an idea for specific scenes out of order then I’ll write that scene and save it for later. My brain is constantly working. Currently, I’m writing on two main stories, but I actually have about six in various stages. My best scenes and dialogue happen while I’m panting my way through. That’s when I’m deep in a character’s POV. At that time, I am that character. It’s very surreal sometimes. This sounds scary, working without a net, but you can always go back and fix things as needed once the first draft is complete. That’s what editing is for.

What books have most influenced you in life? Interesting question! Off the top of my head, I’d say Dumas’ The Three Musketeers and Hambly’s Darwath Trilogy. Both have all the great fantasy and swashbuckling elements that I crave! While I still love science fiction a bit more than pure fantasy, I grew up on Sunday afternoon swashbucklers.

Aliens, zombies, romance and a wormhole all wrapped up in a mystery!

*Rated Mature 17+ for violence, language, sexual scenes, possibly objectable scenes & gore* Science Fiction/Romance/Adventure

(Serious sci-fi with a romance-this is not a fluffy bunny)

The obsessed and slightly unstable Dr. Cass Baros does the improbable; she creates a wormhole. She’s convinced it will take her to the world which has haunted her dreams since adolescence. Meanwhile, she becomes more suspicious of her fiancé and co-project leader, Dr. Julian Saunders. Her boss, Dr. Janson, also has an agenda, which includes adding an Army contingent to her scientific team. Captain Lewis seems intelligent, but an Army grunt is still a grunt, right?

Once through the wormhole, they make first contact with the brajj, and Cass meets Jeamon, the man from her dreams who calls her queen. They’re drawn to one another but both are uncertain of the other,and she’s engaged to Julian. Unable to return home, the team must struggle to survive as they deal with an increasingly irrational Cass and unravel the millennia old secrets the alien world.

Passion and love, genius and madness, jealousy and danger enough to cause the death of worlds await Cass and her team through the wormhole…


“From the beginning, Patricks throws us one curve ball after another while still keeping her characters engaging enough so that we are affected by each loss. She also deftly paints a picture of each main protagonist with all their glory and faults and presents us with a gripping climax that will have your head spinning and make you eagerly await the next installment of this promising series.” Readers Favorite June 2013

“The interactions between humans and aliens are well handled. Plot twists at the end are genuinely startling, and leave the reader anticipating the sequel.” - IndieReader Dec 2012

“Devotees of the paranormal genre will appreciate Patricks’ original work.  It incorporates science fiction and magic which meld together perfectly. As readers’ imagination is put to the test, it’s apparent that only the strong will survive. One may think the dash of romance included in Volume one of The Brajj creeps in slowly, but doesn’t overwhelm or interfere with the plot that will keep fans itching for more.” InD’tale Magazine May 2013

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Science Fiction / Romance

Rating – R

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Author Interview – Carol Preston

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

How did you develop your plot and characters? The plot of my story basically follows the facts from research, from which I know family configurations, births and deaths, arrivals in Australia, marriages, places of settlement. From these facts and events I immerse myself in the possible feelings and course of daily life for my characters. Their personalities, responses and character development I draw from my understanding of human nature. I like to focus on a particular relational and emotional outcome; a point of growth for the character, from which readers may also learn and grow, or be inspired by. To that end I plot the kind of challenges, hurdles and opportunities which may best enable the character to reach this goal. I also like to develop a story which has a satisfying end, not always ideal in the traditional romantic genre, because I don’t see that such an outcome is always realistic. However, I do believe that a positive point of growth and change is realistic and possible so this is a strong focus for my stories. Loving and being loved are central to my plots as I believe they are the most basic of human needs, and learning to love well is core to healthy human development.

Who designed the cover? My publisher designs my covers, although she is always collaborative, so we talk about possibilities and preferences.

Who is your publisher? Rochelle Manners, of Even Before Publishing

Will you write others in this same genre? I will certainly write more novels in this same genre, as there are so many more stories from my family history research that I’d love to tell.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? The main message in Tangled Secrets is that hiding the truth, or hiding from the truth, leads to many pitfalls, and is destructive to many lives. Truth, even hard truths, are best faced and worked through lovingly, and with courage. This message is followed up in the sequel to Tangled Secrets, which I’ve called Truly Free, where secrets finally come to light and must be faced.

In tragic circumstances Beth and her brothers are left in England to grow up without their parents. When Beth’s childhood dream to be reunited with her father in Australia finally eventuates she finds that dreams do not always come true. All that seems to follow is further abandonment. Will she ever find true love? And will she discover she doesn’t have to be alone before it is too late? Set in the early colonial days of New South Wales and based on real characters in the mid 1800s. Revisit Charlotte and Thomas from Charlotte’s Angel and Mary’s Guardian, and meet new characters in this new novel by Carol Preston.

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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – G

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Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior by Multiple Authors

6:15 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

Change Finds You

by Cara Michaels

“The date of record is October thirtieth, two-thousand-twelve. This is Special Agent Everett Benjamin.”

The voice drew my attention from the digital voice recorder resting on the table. The red recording light assured everyone observing that my words would be captured for all time, with “all time” defined as “until the Gemini Group buried the story”. At best, anything I said today would end up in a heavily redacted report buried in some government archive. Hadn’t stopped me from trying to get the word out, though. No, the FBI could take credit there. Getting nabbed at a convenience store just proved I’d never been intended for the undercover life. I’d only lasted two months on the official run.

“For the record, please state your name.” The special agent sitting across from me held an air of comfortable superiority. As homegrown investigative organizations rated, he still believed his FBI sat at the top of the food chain.

How sweet.

“Dr. Savannah Welborn.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” For a tough FBI guy, he had a nice voice. Kind of deep, kind of mellow.

The pen held between his index and middle fingers drummed an uneven, impatient beat. The air conditioning kicked on, a background hum of recycled air smelling faintly of paper and dust. Like the room needed to be colder. What brainless desk jockey thought hypothermia contributed to productivity? The beds of my fingernails had turned blue some fifteen minutes of waiting ago. My body had already forgotten how it felt to be warm. Inside, outside, and everywhere in between. I ground my teeth to hold in a shiver.

“Not a problem, Agent Benjamin,” I said. I even flashed my gritted teeth as I smiled. Just call me Doctor Cooperative.

His gaze slid over my Celldweller concert tee. Beneath the table, worn blue jeans allowed refrigerated air to sneak in at the torn knees. Like I needed his visual disdain to tell me I was way underdressed for a federal interrogation. They didn’t do anything without a tie or stockings.

At least my feet stayed warm in socks and sneakers.

“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t get apprehended in my Sunday best. I’ll try harder next time.”

His lips pinched, biting down on whatever he wanted to say and emphasizing his stern features. Add a sense of humor and strip away the premature aging of his job, and I put him in his early thirties, maybe. Salt dashed his black pepper hair, the cut military short.

“You understand why you’re here, yes?” he asked.

“I can play stupid if you’d prefer to explain it for the viewers at home.” I gestured to the large mirror dominating the end of the room on my left.

Benjamin clenched his teeth, let out a slow breath.

“You’ve been charged with obstruction of an ongoing investigation, as well as aiding and abetting the vigilante organization known as the Paladins.”

He made a good show of flipping through a manila folder stuffed with evidence. Of my so-called crimes, no doubt. My actions over the last several years tied me to the Paladins and — if one knew where to look — to the Gemini Group who had unintentionally created them. I’d built the Gemini Group, created the experiments, written the procedures. I’d documented its transition into a monster as the sons and daughters of my trial groups grew and revealed the changes in their genetic codes.

The cells made to save their parents had resulted in unexpected, even terrifying mutations. A woman with Ehler Danlos Syndrome gave birth to a daughter who could dislocate and reshape her bones and body at will. A man with early-onset Alzheimer’s fathered a child with eidetic memory. A treatment for severe hypothermia resulted in a son with extreme cold tolerance, who could manipulate the temperature around him, and even generate ice from the water in the air.

In short, my efforts to cure disease created superhumans.

But Karen Gemini, the reason any of my work had been possible, accused me of using her to play God.

She had it right, maybe. At least in the beginning.

Like a proud parent, I’d been thrilled by these gifted children. But like regular humans, they came in all shades of good, bad, and indifferent. Some made an effort to use their unique abilities to help the world around them. The public had taken to calling them the Paladins, and it suited them. Honorable, fierce, and steadfast in the face of a world turning on them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Karen Gemini gathered the blackest souls to her bosom, a nightmare brood poised to unleash hell on earth.

The FBI and Agent Benjamin might not yet realize it, but the Paladins stood in the way of gathering darkness. And as the woman whose research had started all of this, I stood to shield the Paladins.

If Benjamin meant to intimidate me, he needed a new strategy.

Go ahead, Agent Benjamin. Take me down. This is so much bigger than you know.

“Dr. Welborn?” Benjamin’s gaze, his eyes an eerie amber-orange, fixed on me.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Did you want me to deny the allegations? For dramatic effect?”

He turned away, but not before I saw him grimace. Aw, did my attitude hurt his career advancement opportunities? Tough shit.

He needed to toughen up his poker face for this job.

I’d stepped into sharky waters with open eyes. I’d known the risks of siding with the Paladins. Of siding against Gemini.

I smiled.

He rolled his eyes, tension visible along his jaw. “Belligerent charm. Does that work for you often?”

“What do you want from me here, Agent?”

“Names. Aliases. Addresses. We want the Paladin operation.”

I laughed. Not a polite titter, but a snort of disbelief. “Sorry to say, but you’re doomed to disappointment.”


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Genre - Short Story Anthology

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Author Interview - Marie Maiden

10:45 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Chapter three of your book is called “No One to Watch Over Me” Did you feel that you had no one to watch over you as a child growing up?

I grew up poor and often times there was not any food in the house to eat.  I was neglected, not on purpose, but I was left to fend for myself and it was very hard.

You write in the book that, you had a less than desirable childhood.  How would you describe your childhood?

I didn’t have anyone to train me and teach me how to value myself.  I had no one to teach me all the things that young girls should be taught.  I was on my own to raise myself and I made a lot of bad mistakes in my life.

You write about your life as a teenaged mother, tell us about that?

When I became pregnant I was deeply ashamed of myself.  I was suicidal and strongly contemplated throwing myself down a flight of stairs in hopes of ending the pregnancy.

Chapter four is called “Trying to Find My Way on My Own” where you able to find what you were searching for?

Yes, I did.  I found what I was looking for and what I really needed.  My book also chronicles the role of God in my life and how my belief in Jesus Christ has transformed me and gave me the strength to overcome a less than desirable childhood and life as a teenaged mother.

You tell in the book that, your child was born with some health problems.  What types of health problems does he have?

Yes, my child is a boy and he was born with handicaps.  He is a special needs child.

You Cannot Find Peace

You Cannot Find Peace Until You Find All The Pieces tells the story of how God through Jesus Christ transformed my life and gave me the strength to overcome a less than desirable childhood, the regrets of becoming a teen mother, anger, immaturity, poor decision making and a really bad attitude.

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Genre - Christian/ Historical/Inspirational

Rating – G

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Darkest Lie by Angela Day

1:30 PM Posted by James Noel No comments



             "I bet he escaped from the psych ward," Remi mused, fascinated by Thane's story. "He sounds like one of those savants, people who can do one thing better than anyone else on the planet but lack in their connection to reality." 

              They were at his locker in the school hallway during lunch, two days after Thane's mad dash to catch the bus and lightning strike. Remi had been glad to see him and drawn out everything that had happened since he left school on Monday, and he'd just finished telling her about Brennan Tayler. "Here's your backpack, Flash," Remi said, smacking him in the chest with it. Thane gave her a quizzical look, and she colored. "He's a comic book guy. Wears all red, runs so fast he's hard to see."  Thane kept looking at her until she punched his arm. "Cool people like comic books."

              "Sure," Thane said, smiling a little. It felt good to be doing something normal after the last few days. He stretched the fingers of his right hand, thinking about the hospital and Brennan again. 

              Remi noticed. "Let me see it?" Thane held out his previously injured knuckles for her and she stared at them like a jeweler inspecting a diamond. "There's nothing here. No bruising, no swelling, nothing. Are you sure you even hurt it?"

              "Yeah," Thane answered. "It was broken. He fixed it."

              "I wonder why," Remi mused, reaching out and taking his hand in both of hers.  Thane stiffened, unsure, but Remi was too deep in her thoughts to notice. She rubbed his knuckles with her thumb, trying to feel for any inconsistency. Thane felt his face going red and was about to pull away when something inside his hand moved.

              Remi froze-- she'd felt it too. Their eyes met over his hand. "What is that?" she asked him. He shrugged, pulling his hand out of hers to look at it himself. He pushed his finger down in the space between his second and third knuckles, and felt that same something hard roll away. It was so small he never would have noticed it on his own. He pulled his hand up to his eyes, and Remi stood on tiptoe to get a closer look. They both leaned in, trying to see any evidence of what they were feeling under Thane's skin.

              The bell rang, startling them both. Thane and Remi realized their faces were only inches apart, and sprang back. Snickers around them in the hallway let them know their display had not gone unnoticed.

              "New girlfriend, Thane?" Ben called from a few lockers down. 

              "You could do better, new girl," Jeran said, flexing his muscles. "I could show you a lot more than that weak loser." Thane's face colored, but Jeran walked off laughing with his buddies. Jeran was an entitled prick, the star of the second worst football team in the state. He wasn't smart enough to be the quarterback but as a wide receiver, you only had to get the ball somewhere near him and he would catch it. Tall and muscular, girls flocked around him and grownups loved to talk to him. Thane wanted to punch him hard enough to make it impossible for him to smirk for at least a week.

              "Don't worry about those idiots," Remi started, but Thane spun around and left her behind. From the moment Mr. Hoffman introduced them, Thane had failed at his one cardinal rule. When he was with Remi everybody saw him.

              Thane was one of the first into the room. Ms. Rasmussen didn't look up as he entered, engrossed in some magazine. He managed to slide onto his stool in the back row without exciting note or comment from anyone. He took out his notebook and pretended to read it as the rest of the class arrived in twos and threes. 

              Remi's voice, laughing and chatting, stabbed his ear and he couldn't help glancing up. She was walking in with Jeran, smiling at him and shaking her head so that her dark hair bounced. As they came in, Ms. Rasmussen's attention was diverted by Remi's giggle and she smugly observed them. "Know your way around now, sweetie?" she asked Remi in a satisfied voice. Remi gave her a half smile, but did not respond. Jeran flashed Ms. Rasmussen a grin calculated to charm, then turned to Thane and transformed it into a self-satisfied smirk.

              "Thanks, Jeran," Remi said, and walked back to sit with Thane. Jeran's face darkened as she walked away.

              "I found your girlfriend lost in the hall," Jeran swaggered down the aisle towards him, voice dripping with false sympathy. "I told her you were unstable." Thane was clenching his teeth, jaw taunt, and Jeran bent down in his face. "It's okay, loser. If your dad doesn't wake up, I'll take care of your hot mom, too."

              Music blossomed in Thane's mind as his fist connected with Jeran's jaw. There was a crunch and a sizzle and the smell of burnt flesh as Jeran fell backwards and the second bell rang. Jeran landed on the floor, as surprised by the sucker punch as Thane was. Jeran sprang back up, blood in his mouth and rage in his eyes and oddly, a bright burn on his jaw. He moved at Thane.

              "That is enough, Jeran!" Ms. Rasmussen snapped. Jeran hesitated, and then lunged for Thane. Ms. Rasmussen grabbed Jeran's shoulder and spun him around, her eyes flashing and her breath quick. "Get out of my class." 

              "What?" Jeran was stunned. "But Cressa--"

              "You will call me Ms. Rasmussen. Go to the nurse's office, then the principal's.  Now." Her voice had gotten softer, colder, and somehow so dark that Thane repressed a chill.

              Jeran crumbled. He fled from the room, the door banging as he ran through it. Ms. Rasmussen came to stand in front of Thane and rested the tips of her fingers on his arm. "Aren't you a hero for defending your mother's honor like that!" She was sweet, but her green eyes glowed with something Thane didn't recognize. Greed? Insanity? She tugged at his arm a little, and he stood up. "Why don't you come up here and take Jeran's seat? He won't be needing it."

              Thane obediently gathered his things and went with her to the front. Remi followed him. Ms. Rasmussen seemed delighted. She even clapped her hands to get the attention of the class, which was completely unnecessary as every eye was already on her.  

              "Change of plans today, everyone! We're going to be doing hands-on experiments instead of a quiz." Her announcement brightened the feeling in the room considerably. "Put away your books and keep out your notepads. You'll need to take good notes. Every team will need a Bunsen burner, a holding tray, one five hundred milliliter beaker, one hundred milliliter beaker, safety glasses for each of you, a thermometer, and a pair of tongs. We're going to talk about thermodynamics!" She seemed gleeful, as manic as Thane had ever seen her.  

              Thane got up and gathered the implements since Remi wouldn't know where they were. He felt awful for ditching her in the hall. Carefully holding as many of the implements as he could in his arms, he set them down gently on the table in front of Remi and spread them out. 

              "I stole his playbook," Remi whispered. Thane attached the Bunsen burner to the short tube that rose out of the center of their rectangular table. "I thought we could do some creative play changing."

              A rush of gratitude warmed Thane. Having a friend had perks. Ms. Rasmussen continued to give instructions.  "...and be sure, girls, to keep your hair away from the flames. I'll be around to make sure that the gas lines are connected. Place the holding tray about six inches above the flame and fill the larger beaker with water from the sink..." Remi grabbed the larger beaker and followed the line of students back to the sink. Soon all the students had their beaker of water in place on the holding tray and were turning the burners on, seeing the waving yellow and orange flame tighten into a straight blue and purple one. "Open the air hole to only about half, we don't want it fully on. We're just heating water."

              The lean, tall woman walked around the classroom checking each burner to ensure that the gas lines were attached correctly and the flames were high and hot enough. She came to Thane and Remi, bending to peer closely at their set up. "I think you need to lower your holding tray slightly," she instructed, and Thane made the adjustment. The corner of Ms. Rasmussen's mouth twitched, and then she moved on.

              Her foot slipped, the thin heel shooting into the air, and she flailed her arms. With one hand she grabbed the side of a table, and the other grabbed Thane's left arm, pulling his wrist directly across the open flame.

              "Argh!" Thane grunted, jerking his hand back. There was a shiny red mark along the underside of his wrist as wide as two fingers. He stared at it as his teacher regained her balance and turned to him.

              "Oh, Thane, I'm so sorry," she gushed. "Someone spilled some water on the floor and I slipped! Let me see it," and she jerked his arm towards her. Her green eyes studied the red welt for a slow heartbeat, and she appeared... pleased. But only for a moment. Her face was full of concern and contrition when she looked back at him. "It's not badly burned. Run cold water over it. As for the rest of you," she whirled to face the class, her beautiful features twisted in fierce and dangerous anger, "be more careful. This could have been a serious accident. If you spill any liquid, clean it up immediately. I could've broken my ankle and poor Thane," she looked down at him and her tone quieted, "poor Thane could have lost his hand. Well," she said, her voice returning to normal, "back to work, everyone."

              As the flames burned and the students adjusted their safety glasses, Ms. Rasmussen pulled a box off the shelf behind her desk. It was dusty, and she smiled and held it for a moment. Then she wiped it off and placed it on her desk. "In this box I have several pieces of Field's Metal. Has anyone ever heard of it?" She paused, but no hands went up. "It is a most impressive alloy. It's a non-toxic mixture of bismuth, tin, and indium. There are many alloys that melt at low temperatures, even though the metals they are mixed from require much higher temperatures to melt in their pure form. These low melting point metals are called fusible alloys."

              Several of the students were scribbling furiously, as Ms. Rasmussen was not writing on the board. Instead, her hands were resting on either side of the open box as she was intently watching the beaker and the flame in front of Remi and Thane. Remi was one of the desperate note takers-- Thane couldn't take his eyes away from the chemistry teacher, like a bird staring at a snake. His heart pounded against his chest and his palms felt sweaty. Something was wrong. 

              She reached her hand into the box and drew out what looked to be a silver straw. "Each of you will be given one of these Field's Metal wires. Place your thermometers into the water and the metal wire into your smaller empty beaker. Using the tongs, hold the smaller beaker partially submerged in the boiling water. Record at what temperature, both Fahrenheit and Celsius, the metal begins to melt. I will pass out molds to each team for you to pour your liquid metal into, and you will time how long it takes the metal to re-harden."

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Genre – New Adult Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Review: Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery (Writing in a Nutshell Series, #2) by Jessica Bell

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments
Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery (Writing in a Nutshell Series, #2)Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery by Jessica Bell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Was the book written in a way that was easily accessible? Yes, it was. The language and examples used were items that most writers use in creating a fiction novel.
Did the author provide any pertinent web links for readers to use? Not directly related to adverbs and cliches but she did provide links to her sites which also share similar topics and writing guides.
Would you recommend this book? Yes and do not think it's a book just for writers. If you would like to improve your language - speaking or writing - this book is a must read.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Survivors by Daniel Harvell

3:45 PM Posted by James Noel No comments

The Survivors

When seven strangers impossibly survive a horrific airplane crash, they find themselves changed in remarkable ways. The survivors are endowed with powers that defy explanation. Some are blessed. Some are cursed.

Going their separate ways, they adapt their extraordinary “gifts” to their ordinary lives. The results, however, aren’t always pretty — particularly when one of them engages in a killing spree. With little more to go on than the psychic link that they all share, the survivors seek out one another to uncover the murderer and bring him or her to justice.

The fireman, the grandmother, the psychiatric patient, the basketball player, the mute girl, the rich blonde, and the man in the wheelchair — they all have secrets worth hiding. They can’t trust each other. They can’t even trust themselves.

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Genre - Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Death Ain't But A Word: A Supernatural Hot Mess - Zander Marks

9:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

Death Ain’t But A Word - Zander Marks

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Urban Fantasy

Rating -  PG13

4.4 (29 reviews)

Free until 31 July 2013

Just because Wilkin's a crackhead doesn't mean the shadows aren't real.
They're real. And they've been haunting him since he was seven years old. Mostly he ignores them.
But when the ghost of his best friend from childhood shows up at the local motel, Wilkin can't ignore the call of friendship. And when his friend's killer buys the motel so he can destroy the remains, Wilkin can't ignore that, either.
Wilkin steals his friend's skull before the killer can destroy it and is plunged into a hot mess of a supernatural thrill ride.
A death-race pursuit of a child's skull. A spirit-whispering trucker hauling plush toys to Kansas. Five demonic farm-kids in a housing project. A Dodge City marshal who executes wayward ghosts. A nasty yellow jersey that takes the joy out of living. And a graveyard full of snitches.
It's enough to make you want to hit the crackpipe. All leading to a climax where staying alive is the least of Wilkin's worries.
Because when most of the people around you are spirits anyway, DEATH AIN'T BUT A WORD.

Orangeberry Book of the Day – The Blackout by Stephanie Erickson

8:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments


The next morning Molly got up and went to class, prepared to hear the groans from her Modern Poetry class for their late papers.  She usually punished them with half a letter grade for every class they were late, but she wasn’t sure what to do to compensate for her own lateness.  She thought if she could come up with a few options, like having class in the garden one day or letting them pick the next poem to discuss, and let them choose, they’d be happy. 

Her other classes held better prospects.  She was excited because the day brought discussions about Gulliver’s Travels in British Literature, and The Poisonwood Bible in Modern Fiction.  Save for the groaning from Modern Poetry, she expected it to be a pretty good day. 

It happened in the middle of Modern Fiction.  A student had asked what point Kingsolver was trying to make by sacrificing the family’s youngest child. 

“What could possibly be worth killing such an innocent character?” she asked.

“Well, what do you think?  Do you think the father is so taken by his ‘mission’ to ‘save’ the heathens in the Congo that his youngest is a fair sacrifice, as you put it?  What’s one life if it saves a handful of others?”   Molly had just said it to spur the discussion.  She often made extreme statements in class just to stir the pot and get a good discussion going.

She sat cross-legged on top of her desk looking at the rows of students as hands shot into the air.  She smiled and surveyed their faces.  Their expressions ranged from angry to mischievous.  Molly picked one that seemed undecided.  “Mia, what do you think?”

Before she could answer, the lights went out.  It wasn’t really all that dark, because the back wall had several windows on it, and for that she was thankful. 

“Um…OK.  Just a second here, let me poke my head into the hall and see if I can find out what the deal is,” Molly said as she got down off the desk.

The students whispered to each other as she walked to the door.  “Settle down.  I’m sure it’s just a power surge, and it’ll be back on before I can even find out what happened.” 

“My phone doesn’t work.  Does yours?”  A boy in the front row asked his neighbor.

It caught Molly’s attention.  “Is your battery dead?” she asked.

“No.  I left home with a full charge.” 

Other students began retrieving their phones.  The consensus was unanimous.  No one’s phone worked.  Molly took her phone out of her pocket to see, and to her surprise, it displayed nothing but a black screen. 

She frowned and continued on her journey to the door.  “I’ll find out what’s going on.  Just stay calm,” Molly assured them.  They all looked worried.

Teachers were beginning to poke their heads out of their doors, making similar inquiries about the outage.  No one seemed to know what was going on.  Normally, there would be an announcement or some sort of directive about what to do, but they’d never encountered this type of outage before. 

Molly ran to her office to grab her laptop and returned to the classroom.  By then the kids were getting a little panicky, letting their imaginations run away with them. 

“Why would the power and our phones be out?  What could possibly cause something like that?”

“How long do you think it’ll be out?”

“My mom said she thinks the apocalypse is coming.  She said the signs are all there.”

Another student burst out laughing.  “Your mom is crazy.”

Molly interrupted before a fight could break out.  “OK, enough.  The power will probably be back on soon.  The school has an emergency generator that should kick in any minute now.  Just let me get my laptop going, and I’ll see if I can get some information about it.”

“Dr. Bonham, if the power’s out, will you be able to get online?”

By then, Molly had already gotten her computer out and was trying to get it powered up.  “Oh, that’s a good point.  Probably not.” 

Then she noticed nothing was happening with her computer.  She held the power button down, with no response.  She waited a few moments and tried again.  Still nothing. 

“What on Earth…” Molly muttered.

“What’s wrong?” 

“Um…I’m not sure.  I can’t get my computer to come on.” 

“What should we do?  Can we go home?”

“I don’t know about that either.  The stairwells are dark, I don’t want there to be a stampede.  Just give me a minute to think about the options.” 

They weren’t prepared for something like this.  They knew exactly what to do for a tornado, a fire alarm, or an earthquake.  But this was new territory. 

There really was no reason not to continue with class.  The only things they were using were the lights, and it was plenty bright enough to continue the discussion without them.  However, the kids were rattled, and quite frankly so was Molly.  Continuing with the discussion seemed fruitless, but leaving right this second wasn’t a good option either. She didn’t want to put the students in an unsafe situation. 

“Let me run back to the department head’s office and see what he thinks.  You guys wait here until I get back, OK?”  Molly looked at them all, seeing the panic starting to bubble up.  “I mean it,” she said sternly.  She thought giving them a task, even if it was just sitting still, would help occupy their minds.

Molly caught up with Terry Longman in the hallway.  She looked at him and shrugged.  “Now what?” she asked.

His normally disheveled appearance looked a little more unruly in his stress.  His grey hair stood straight out and his tweed coat hung unevenly.  “I have no idea.  I’m telling the kids and teachers to stay put for now.  There are no lights in the stairwells, and I don’t want anyone getting trampled.  Let’s wait twenty minutes or so and see if it comes back.  If it doesn’t, we’ll let the classes go one room at a time to prevent a stampede.  So, since your class is at the far end of the building, they may be here a while.”

“No problem.  Just keep me posted.”

Molly stopped in Cindy’s room, knowing she had a rowdy group this time of day.  They were arguing with her about getting to leave.

“HEY!”  Molly hollered to get their attention.  They were immediately quiet.  “This is a professional environment, not a middle school.  Arguing is not tolerated.  You will stay put until Dr. Longman says you can go.  He’s making his rounds now, and he’s said if power is not restored in another twenty minutes or so, he will let everyone go home.  However, he doesn’t want any misconduct, so he’ll be letting classes go one room at a time.  Just sit tight.”

A unified groan went up.  “Hey, you’re supposed to be in this class right now anyway!  I don’t want to hear your complaints,” Molly said.

“Yeah, well I’m not sitting here any longer than I have to.  Class gets out at three, and I’m out of here at three,” declared an older student, dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt.  It was obvious that his silver chains, piercings, and long hair were meant to intimidate.  Molly was unfazed.

“You’ll do whatever the head of the department says you’ll do.  No questions about it.  This is considered an emergency situation, and for your own safety and the safety of others, you’ll stay put for now.  We’re not keeping you here forever, so just relax.” 

Cindy had that deer-in-headlights look.  Molly turned and put her hand on Cindy’s upper arm.  “Hey, straighten up.  These kids’ll eat you alive if you let them.  Don’t.  Terry said he’ll be letting classes go one at a time if the power’s not back in twenty minutes.  The process shouldn’t take too long, since there’s about ten rooms downstairs and ten up here, so just hold the fort for maybe an hour tops, OK?”

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Genre – Adult Fiction / Contemporary

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

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Author Interview – Jessica Bell

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

You are gaining more readership and recognition with your poetry and fiction. Has this been fuelled by your other writing-related activities? I believe that all these writing-related activities mean that I need to be online quite a lot. As a result, I’ve become visible, to quite some extent, through social media. And to be honest, I couldn’t live without it. I’m quite isolated being an English writer in a non-English speaking country, and I need to promote my work to the English-speaking world.

The key to social networking, though, is to engage in conversations, interact with your audience. Saying, “buy my book, it’s great” all the time, isn’t going to sell it. But saying “hey, what do you think about blah blah blah?” and actually eliciting opinions from others, means you are saying something that people are interested in. And if they’re interested in what you’re saying online, then it’s likely they are going to investigate you further. It’s a long process, and hard work. But it certainly pays off.

How’s this for statistics? I’ve been blogging and engaging in social media, pretty much every single day, since March 2010. And only this year, three years later, have I started to see true results. It takes effort, persistence, stamina, but most of all love and passion. Because this ‘being visible’, (and let’s say it with a good old cliché, hey?) doesn’t happen overnight.

You founded and are co-editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal. What inspired you to create this new journal? What types of literature do you publish and how do people submit to you? In late 2011, Dawn Ius and I founded Vine Leaves Literary Journal to offer the vignette, a forgotten literary form, the exposure and credit it deserves. The vignette is a snapshot in words, and differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot, instead it focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object. The journal, published quarterly online, is a lush synergy of atmospheric prose, poetry, photography and illustrations, put together with an eye for aesthetics as well as literary merit. The annual print anthology showcases the very best pieces that appeared in the journal.

Submission guidelines are on the website.

You organized a big writing conference in Greece last summer where Chuck Sambuchino from Writers Digest was the instructor. What made you decide to organize this event? I have long dreamed of running a writer’s retreat on Ithaca. I’ve spent a lot of time on this little Greek island since the age of two, because my step father and his family are from there (my parents also live there now). With the risk of sounding clichéd, (ha!) this place really is a little piece of heaven. It remains unspoiled by the modern world. Even in the height of summer you can find a secluded beach or a rustic corner to contemplate your thoughts. On Ithaca you’ll discover the island’s rich culture and the reason why it holds such a special place in the hearts of those who have visited its shores.

The Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop invites participants to their very own private odyssey on the island of Ithaca—a retreat about riveting one’s writing through an immersive and intimate Homeric journey. Our instructors in 2014 are, Katharine Sands, a literary agent with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, and Beatriz Badikian-Gartler, a popular performer in the Chicago area who often lectures on women’s issues, art, and literature. In 2000 Badikian was selected as one of the One-Hundred Women Who Make a Difference in Chicago by Today’s Woman magazine.

To explore more of Ithaca online, please visit:

To learn more about the writing retreat, please visit:

How are you able to be so productive as a writer, a musician, editor, and conference organizer, as well as having a good social media platform, while working full-time? I’m not usually a person who utilizes lists and schedules. But I certainly have been forced to create them due to all of the projects I juggle. It’s difficult. There’s no denying that fact. But it’s also fun! I enjoy every minute of it.

Basically I do everything in scheduled, short bursts. I get up early to make sure I have one hour to write and one hour to do something else from my list (such as Vine Leaves or retreat organization). I pick and choose depending on priority. During my lunch break, I blog, and spend about half an hour to an hour (depends on how long I can take from work) on social media. After work, I walk the dog, make dinner, maybe go to yoga (I do neglect my laundry, though. Too often). Once that’s done, I’ll spend another hour or so doing something else from my list (if I’m up-to-date on all my tasks, I’ll try and do something creative like writing, or music again). Then I’ll relax in front of the TV, or do something else away from the computer before I go to bed. Then in bed, I’ll read a chapter or two of whatever book I’m reading. Sometimes that may even include critiquing a friend’s manuscript. Reading to me is relaxing and not a chore, so I really don’t feel like that is tackling any sort of task.

The most important thing? Recognizing when I’m too tired and need to take a few days off. If I don’t give myself decent breaks where I don’t do anything, then I very quickly burn out and fall behind.

What are you working on now? Right now I’m working on my 4th novel! Working title: White Lady. It’s set in Melbourne, Australia, and is about a young woman named Mia who is fighting fat with white ladies. (Yep, I’ll leave that to your own interpretation for now! Hint: don’t think literally.)

I’m also putting together an anthology of personal essays from Indie authors called Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle, which is slated for release September 16. A few contributing authors you may know are Melissa Foster, Susan Kaye Quinn, and Leigh Talbert Moore. This is the best of the indie tradition of experienced authors paying forward what they’ve learned, offering information to help others on their indie journey. All profits will be donated to BuildOn.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “It was the kind of loneliness that made clocks seem slow and loud and made voices sound like voices across water.”  From Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Can you hear the loud, slow clock ticking? Its echo crossing a flat lake trying to reach the disappearing voices of loved ones you wished existed? The still and stifling warm air at dusk? Your heartbeat in your ears? The emptiness in your chest? The melancholia you can’t seem to place? An amazing comparison to loneliness, don’t you think? The clocks, the voices, the loudness of heartache. *sigh* …

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? The fact that, despite the full-time job, I can still find time to write books. So many people get into a rut, thinking they can’t manage it, that there’s no time. But it’s not true. If you really want something, you find the time.

What is your favorite color? Green

What is your favorite food? Beetroot and yoghurt salad.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Monemvasia.

When and why did you begin writing? I started writing poetry first. I must have been about eleven, sitting on a rock by the sea in a little place in Greece called Monemvasia. I was so inspired by my surroundings that I needed a way to express it. Not long after, I started writing songs. My mother had decided to sell her twelve-string acoustic guitar to get a bit of extra cash. I saw it sitting by the front door. I think someone was coming over to take a look at it. I remember opening the case and thinking that it just looked so beautiful, and why would Mum want to get rid of it? I think she was in the music room at the time and I interrupted one of her recording sessions to ask about the guitar. When she told me she was selling it, I asked her whether I could have it. She said that I could if I learnt to play. From that day I had that guitar in my hands every single day until I moved to Greece in 2002. I taught myself how to play. The first song I ever wrote was played on one string and sung in a very high-pitched awful voice. I hope that cassette never gets dug up!

Have you been told you use too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the end of the book.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a user-friendly and simple solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. With the convenient hyper-linked Contents Page and Indexes you can toggle backward and forward from different examples with ease. Use your e-reader’s highlighting and note-taking tools to keep notes as you read, and/or record your story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

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Genre – NonFiction

Rating – G

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: The Guilty by Gabriel Boutros

7:00 AM Posted by James Noel No comments
The GuiltyThe Guilty by Gabriel Boutros
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I didn't like. The book was slow. Some chapters seemed to take it's time getting to the point. It wasn't the writing that was the problem, it just felt like that the writer took his time in getting to where he wanted the reader to go. Overall, the book was written well and I liked it so no complaints.
Did you find that the cover and title represented what the story was really about? It did. The cover immediately showed readers that it was a legal novel and the title had a double meaning. The guilty didn't necessarily refer to those found guilty by a courtroom.
What did you think of the story structure? It was progressive and depended largely on the plot. The author also used more than one macguffin. Everytime you think that's what the story was about, it turned out it wasn't. I liked this and it made the book all the more interesting.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Dogs Aren’t Men by Billi Tiner

6:45 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

Dog's Aren't Men

A contemporary romance.

Rebecca Miller is a gifted veterinarian with an extraordinary understanding of animal behavior. She is leading a fulfilling life as the owner and operator of the Animal Friends Veterinary Clinic. Ever since her 30th birthday, her mother has made it her mission to help Rebecca find a man, get married, and give her grandchildren. But Rebecca doesn’t see the need for a man in her life. She has her dog, Captain, and that’s all the companionship she needs. However, her world changes the day she literally runs into Derrick Peterson, a gorgeously handsome ER doctor.

Derrick’s experiences with women have taught him that they are vain, silly, and untrustworthy. He keeps his relationships with them brief and superficial. However, he finds himself being irresistibly drawn to Rebecca. She’s smart, witty, compassionate, and very different from the women he usually encounters. Will Rebecca be the one to break down the wall he’s spent a lifetime building around his heart?

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Genre - Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG13

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