September Highlights…

Goodbye September

It’s been a while since I’ve written a recap, I’m not even sure how to write one anymore. For those of you who don’t know, I am recovering from a concussion. If you want, you can read more about Surviving the Accident. It’s been 8 months since the accident and there have been a lot of baby steps. This is the first month I have felt like I could be active on my blog again. Thanks again for everyone who is still following me. I know I kind of disappeared there for a while, but hopefully things will continue to progress and I will continue to get better.

Anyway, this is everything that’s happened this month:

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I started a new thing- Author spotlights – and so far I’ve really enjoyed doing this! I started out doing this because I can’t read as much as I used to. After working all day, my concussion head and eyes can’t handle any more screen time. Which makes reading e-books almost impossible. Here are a few of the authors I highlighted this month. I’ve also included cover releases in this section:

Author Spotlight: Mitch Reinhardt, Wizard’s Key (The Dark Wolf Saga, #1)
Author Spotlight- R.S. Dabney: The Soul Mender
Cover Release- Defiant Attraction
Teaser Blitz- Dukes of DesireAuthor Spotlight – Robin Bootle

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This month I haven’t actually read much. But over the 8 months of recovery, all I had was time. It didn’t matter if the book took me 3 weeks to read, I had the time. Here’s a highlight of the different book reviews I’ve done:

My Favorite Mistake (My Favorite Mistake #1)
Reaper’s Property (Reapers MC, #1)

I did do a combined post that was called Legs (One Wild Wish, #1) Book Release, Giveaway, and Review. This one was probably my favorite.

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I’m glad September is over and I’m ready for October. If you have time, let me know what your favorite post was this month. Until then, Happy Reading 🙂 

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Legs (One Wild Wish, #1) Book Release, Giveaway, and Review

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Legs by Kelly Siskind is a light hearted book with a nice mix of sexual tension and swoon-worthy moments. The sex scenes are HOT and the book is easy to connect with. Kelly Siskind is such a gifted writer, I love her books and her writing style. Whether this is your first book or your 5th, I promise you it wont be the last book you pick up from this author.


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Title: Legs
Series: One Wild Wish #1
Author: Kelly Siskind

Genre: RomCom
Stars: 3.5 out of 5

Release: September 27, 2017

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Order:
Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/LEGSamazon
iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/LEGSiBooks
Kobo: http://hyperurl.co/LEGSkobo
Universal Book Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/mdNWN5

Running into your one-night stand is a special kind of awkward. Competing against him in a wine tasting contest is delicious torment…

On Rachel’s twenty-seventh birthday, she wishes to finally find a rewarding job. What she doesn’t wish is to drink a boatload of wine, sleep with a tattooed bad boy, and drunk email her boss in one glorious, career-ending move. But the fiasco pushes her to pursue a career inspired by her late father’s love of wine: sommelier.

Unfortunately, she’s competing against her infuriating one-night stand, a man as intoxicating as a Pinot Noir.

Two years ago, Jimmy was set to inherit his family winery. Then it got ripped from his grasp. To close that dark chapter of his life, he plans to win a local sommelier contest and use the press to expose his family’s tainted wines.

Jimmy loves studying the streaks of alcohol that cling to a wineglass, known as the wine’s “legs,” but other shapely legs are stealing his focus. Tantalizing legs. Legs that had wrapped around his waist for one wild night. Jimmy, sadly, has a weakness for legs.

He also hates to lose.

LEGS is a full-length, standalone Smart, Sexy Romantic Comedy with a swoony Happily Ever After. No cheating or cliff-hangers here! Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren, Avery Flynn, Alice Clayton, Emma Chase, and Lauren Blakely.


Excerpt:

The last person I wanted to see walked into the restaurant, and I tensed.

Her frantic gaze was forced to me, and the only three vacant seats. She searched the room in vain, the rounding of her spine a clue she wasn’t thrilled about her options. She looked out the way she came, squeezed her eyes, then squared her shoulders and marched toward me.

Part of me—the lower half—wanted to pin her to the wall with my thighs while I hitched that proper little skirt higher. The other part hoped she’d wandered into the wrong place. Not because our night together had been bad, or the fact that she’d disappeared without a trace. No. The thing that had the tendons in my neck bunching was remembering how good it all was. Too good and too much fun, and I’d imagined rounds two and three and four ad nauseam. But rounds always ended in a knockout punch.

This girl was nothing but trouble.

She paused at the table, drew in a long breath, mumbled something as she exhaled, then glared at the seat beside me and the ones across. She chose beside, probably to face the room.

The only reason we’d hooked up two weeks ago was because there were no names and no strings. She’d admitted how hard it would be for her to relax, how awkward she’d feel afterward. The relaxing part I took care of with one brush of my lips. The awkward was still alive and kicking.

What went down between us couldn’t happen again. Distractions over the next two months weren’t an option, and repeat affairs led to feelings, and feelings led to promises, and promises were nothing but lies dressed up to seduce. Not an outcome I was keen to revisit. Still, I couldn’t ignore her anxiety, as long as she wasn’t here because of me.

I leaned toward her. “You’re the last person I expected to see.”

She squished her lithe body farther from mine. “Kind of coincidental, don’t you think? Did you follow me?”

“I got here before you. If anyone is stalking, it’s you tailing me.”

Indignation colored her cheeks. “I didn’t follow you. I saw a flyer and thought the contest looked interesting, but you obviously read it, too. If I’d known you’d be here”—aggravation laced her hushed tone—“I’d never have shown up.”

Her harsh words had me fisting my hands, or maybe it was how tempting the line of her neck looked, that column of tanned skin shifting as she swallowed. But she was right: having a diversion wouldn’t help my plan. “Then we’re on the same page.”

“Excuse me?”

“Since we’re both here for the contest, we can pretend that night never happened.”

Her face fell, but a beat later, she said, “Good,” nothing but ice in her voice.

I followed with “Great.”

She spat, “Fine.”

So much for stamping out the awkward.


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Review:
Oh Rachel! The book opens to a extremely lonely, sex deprived women. Her desperation just screams from the pages. She has a long history of making bad decisions but Rachel is ready for a change. On her birthday, Rachel makes a big wish and the power outage that follows leaves her with the hope that change is on its way. 

One thing I didn’t like about Rachel’s character was her reasoning behind not expressing her feelings and starting a relationship with Jimmy. According to her logic, she’s fearful to take that next step because she doesn’t think Jimmy wants a relationship. But it’s completely obvious that he does. I think the root behind her hesitation is because she was hurt terribly by an ex bad-boy boyfriend she dated a long time ago and she’s not able to move past that. Well, that and she doesn’t think her dead father would approve. Okay, some of this reasoning I get. You get burned once, you are a little hesitant to jump back in. But come on! I desperately wanted her to take a chance. 

Jimmy is a complex character who has a rough exterior but a huge heart. This bad boy screams sex and has the confidence to back it up. But he’s a mystery and his past has left him broken and unsure of who to trust.

I really enjoyed how this book was laid out. Kelly Siskind doesn’t give you everything up front, instead creating a mystery that’s both exciting and fun. With each chapter, another layer unfolds and you learn a little more about who Rachel and Jimmy are.   

When we finally find out what happened between Jimmy and his father, ouch! I don’t blame him for his feelings. I’ll be honest, as I was reading what his father had done, I noticed my thoughts mirrored Jimmy’s. 

But the way Jimmy lashes out at Rachel is ridiculous. Blaming her for things she had nothing to do with.. his thought process didn’t even make sense.  I think Rachel let him get off way too easily and the ending of the book felt too tidy. Like everything ended in this nice bow but instead of feeling happy, I felt cheated. Maybe if Jimmy had some grand gesture it would have made the ending better. Now don’t get me wrong, it was romantic and sweet what he did at the end of the book. But Rachel had already forgiven him by then. I think I would have liked it more if he had done that prior to her forgiving him. But that’s just me. I think most of you will enjoy the ending of this book.  

This book was not one favorites from Kelly Siskind. But there is no denying her talent in creating sexual tension. Some of the terminology she uses, I just didn’t get. What does it mean when someone “oozed dude”? But in the end I enjoyed parts of this book but didn’t love all of it. I enjoyed reading the book and it is great for those looking for a steamy romance novel. But I’m doubtful I’ll read the book more than once. 


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A Fine MessAuthor Bio:
Kelly is the author of CHASING CRAZY, MY PERFECT MISTAKE, A FINE MESS, and HOOKED ON TROUBLE, the latter three being part of her Over the Top series. A small-town girl at heart, she moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.

 

Social media links:

Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads     Amazon     Instagram: @kellysiskind

 

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Author Spotlight – Robin Bootle

Extropia


“For those missing Katniss, the Divergents and the Maze Runners, this must be your next book” – Emmy Award Winning Film Director, Johnny Burke. I had the opportunity to chat with Robin Bootle on his upcoming book, Extropia: Mind Game, and ask him a few questions about his book and being a writer. 

When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
I was sitting at work when I was 21, emailing my brother back and forth to moan about the boredom of my job. He wrote back saying, “Why not try writing something, it’s fun.” So I wrote a chapter about not much in particular, with no plot and no plan – but really enjoyed the process. Ever since I’d wanted to write a book, but I was waiting for the right idea to come to me.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
The idea came to me while I was watching Tron: Legacy. I loved the idea but thought the execution was poor. So I took core premise (boy goes into computer game to save father) and ended up writing something completely different.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Well I could try and say something deep here, but the real goal is that the readers will walk away thinking “that was fun!”. That’s not to say there aren’t some deeper ideas inside  The protagonist encounters some of the potential perils of AI, man-playing-god and mankind not taking due care of the technology we create.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
Philip Wooderson – he mentored me throughout the process and is an absolute genius.

 Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?Lots! Ping me at robinbootleauthor@gmail.com if you want any advice – it’s free. But here’s 3 things:
1) Get feedback, lots of it, and not from you mother or anyone who is going to be anything but brutally hard on you.
2) Related to that, you’re going to get knocked down a thousand times. Just believe that you CAN do this if you keep at it.
3) Use the down time, when you can’t find the energy to write, to network with the publishing world and start building your audience NOW.

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this summer?
A kind of obvious one, but I’m reading the Game of Thrones books. Just incredible.


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Published: March 2, 2017
Pages: 320

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Where to Buy:
Amazon

Synopsis:
An act of sabotage leaves Edward’s father trapped inside a virtual reality game, Extropia. In a bid to save him, Edward follows, entering a world he knows he might never leave. A world of artificially intelligent beings, subjected to a life of misery and fear in the name of entertainment.
Now one of them has learned of the real world, and is determined to have his revenge…

Short Excerpt:
Edward’s eyes cast about his surroundings. His arms squeezed into his sides as though the white walls around him were made of poison. He felt moisture around his ankles. By the time he looked down, the blue SenseGel had already reached his knees. He glanced back up, hoping that Oriel might be rushing to let him out. Instead, the man continued to motion with exaggerated movements for him to breathe.

The blue liquid swamped his fist, then his upper arm. He’d already stopped breathing, his instincts readying himself to go under. He tried to push to the top of his port, to reach the last bubble of air. The liquid splashed his eyes, and then that last bubble was washed away in a swirl of blue.

He stared aghast at Oriel, eyes wide and cheeks full of air. Oriel walked over to the port, but only to continue his signal for Edward to breathe.

Edward glanced down, left, right, desperate to find another way out, an abort button or anything. His lungs felt like they might explode. His head was spinning. Oriel started to blur on the other side of the glass.

Finally, he gave up and opened his lungs.

The SenseGel rushed past his cheeks and gums. He thought he felt it creep up his sinuses, but he couldn’t be certain; everything was already numb. The warm liquid against his skin was gone. He could no longer feel his arms or legs, or his teeth that a moment ago had been clamped together. Everything was perfect pitch black, because his eyes too were gone. It was as if he’d been reduced to nothing more than the voice in his head.

VirtuaWorld! The voice screamed so frantically that he worried the port wouldn’t be able to process it. VirtuaWorld!

With a flash of light, he could feel himself standing, shaking, breathing. The sound of a soft wind ruffled about his ears, then the three-note tweet of a bird. He lifted his eyelids gradually, letting them adjust from the dark to the light of day.

Elizabeth’s hand touched his forearm. ‘So this is it then. VirtuaWorld.’


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Robin was born in Athens, not long before the 1981 earthquake. As a boy he lived in Chennai (India) and Hampshire (UK) before moving to Mauritius at the age of nine, the paradise island to which he still returns every year. He has since lived in New Zealand & France, and is now settled in Crouch End, London, with his wife, Kate. Like many of us, he is intrigued to see how the world changes over the coming years with the evolution of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, and as a fan of fantasy RPGs such as Skyrim and The Witcher 3, he has combined his interests to inform his story. Extropia: Mind Game explores what might happen if artificial intelligence becomes so advanced that the emotions of the characters in these games become indecipherable from those of a human.

 

Twitter      Facebook     Goodreads


Hope you are able to check out his book or some of the reviews on GoodReads. Happy Reading 🙂

Teaser Blitz- Dukes of Desire

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A little late on releasing this but so it goes 🙂

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Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Published: October 17, 2017
Pages: 364

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Synopsis:

A LADY OF LIGHT
Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping.  Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos.  When one of the masked-and-nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him…only to find she may have been atrifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS
Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them.  Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans.  But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER…AND DESIRE
Much to Raphael’s irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involes herself in his life—and bed.  Soon he’s drawn to both to her quick wit and her fiery passion.  But when Iris discovers that Raphael’s past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters.  Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael’s own demons?

Buy the Book!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2vaN4MI
B&N: http://bit.ly/2uBw5Gh
iBooks: http://apple.co/2uBCbGL
Google: http://bit.ly/2u2o8YW
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2uBsEiB
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2uw1hpD


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About the Author:
Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series.Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

 

Social Media Links:

                                                            Author Page     Twitter   Facebook    BookBub     Amazon

Cover Release- Defiant Attraction

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Defiant Attraction comes out November 16th!

 Title: Defiant Attraction
Author: V.K. Torston
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Erotic Romance

Release Date: November 16th, 2017

Synopsis:
Dan might be the enemy of my enemy, but I’m not sure that makes him my friend. He’s definitely not my ‘step brother’, no matter what everyone at school says. Honestly, I don’t know what he’s supposed to be to me. Or what he’s becoming…

Fact: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

 In the yearbook, I’ll be Sophia Ramos: Valedictorian. Years of honor roll certificates, AP classes, and lugging around an obnoxiously large cello case are about to finally pay off. If everything goes according to plan, I’ll escape these decaying suburbs for a top university across the country.

The problem? A few years ago, my mom met someone just as broke, just as drunk, and just as impulsive as she is. Approximately five seconds into their relationship, they decided it would be an excellent idea for him—and his son, Dan—to move in with us. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t).

Now I share a house with none other than Daniel Cole. Even though Dan dropped out two years ago, he’s still the tattooed, bad boy, heartthrob, legend of St. Anthony’s Academy. He and I aren’t supposed to have anything in common.

Living together means war. First, Dan and I were at war with each other. Now, our rivalry is giving way to an unlikely alliance—two opposing sides teaming up against a common enemy: our respective parents.

Which is to say, we’ve been hanging out.

Question: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Here’s the thing: My brain is a complex organ. One hundred billion neurons, each with an average of seven thousand synaptic connections to other neurons. My brain is my ticket out of here.

My heart, by contrast, is a pump. It moves blood around.

I know Dan is off-limits. I know I shouldn’t do something I’ll regret. And I know how much is at stake (my family, my future).

So why can’t I stop thinking about him? Those inscrutable jade eyes. The smile that can say a thousand different things at once. That tattoo curving across his abs…

Even though I know better, I feel that pounding in my chest. And it’s getting harder to ignore.

But if I follow my heart, I can never go back.

Answer: There is no such thing as an immovable object.


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Author Bio:
V.K. Torston is a millennial and ‘cool aunt’ to a brood of nieces and nephews. She was born and raised in San Francisco, attended university in New York City, and aspires to one day live in London. A veteran of the independent music scene, she began writing nonfiction in her late teens. Then she realized that making up stories was way more fun than coming up with endless synonyms for ‘frenetic’ and ‘danceable.’ Her hobbies include drinking too much coffee, making up stupid songs, and ranting about current events. Defiant Attraction is her first novel.

Twitter: @vktorston        Website: www.vktorston.com        Goodreads Author Page

 

Reaper’s Property (Reapers MC, #1)

Reapers Property

Author: Joanna Wylde
Published: January 9, 2013
Pages: 306

Stars: 1 out of 5

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Where to Buy:
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

 

Synopsis:
Marie doesn’t need a complication like Horse. The massive, tattooed, badass biker who shows up at her brother’s house one afternoon doesn’t agree. He wants Marie on his bike and in his bed. Now.

But Marie just left her abusive jerk of an ex-husband and she’s not looking for a new man. Especially one like Horse—she doesn’t know his real name or where he lives, she’s ninety percent certain he’s a criminal and that the “business” he talks with her brother isn’t website design. She needs him out of her life, which would be a snap if he’d just stop giving her mind-blowing orgasms.

Horse is part of the Reapers Motorcycle Club, and when he wants something, he takes it. What he wants is Marie, but she’s not interested in becoming “property of”. Then her brother steals from the club. Marie can save him by giving Horse what he wants—at home, in public, on his bike… If she’s a very, very good girl, she’ll get lots more of those orgasms only he can offer, and he’ll let her brother live.
Maybe.

Review:
This book is not at all what I thought it would be. I’m not even sure why I kept reading the book. 

Marie is a mess and someone who constantly makes bad decisions. Her brother Jeff doesn’t help matters with his involvement in a motorcycle gang. Especially when he steals from the gangs. Now Marie is held hostage, paying for her brothers crime through sex, while Jeff scrambles to come up with the money he owes. 

Horse is a gang member who wants Marie. He is big, dominating, and has a temper. His idea of the’tribe’ is difficult to accept. I think the way it is described in this book, it comes out more sexist and demeaning towards women.  

The further I read the book, the more irritated I became. Marie doesn’t understand Horse’s lifestyle and when he asked her to be his ‘old woman’ she said no. Instead of giving her time, he punishes her by making her feel like a prostitute. And what’s worst is she feels like it’s her fault. Her fault that she is now a “quick fuck” instead of a respectable woman. Talk about manipulation.  The sex scenes are demanding and close to being uncomfortable to read. A couple scenes resemble/came too close to rape than I was comfortable with. And most of the interactions between Marie and Horse are beyond dysfunctional. 

In the end, I couldn’t finish the book. I surprised myself with how far I did read but I would not recommend this book to anyone. Although, keep in mind my view on this is not the norm. There are a ton of positive reviews and maybe something to think about when considering this book. 

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Author Spotlight- R.S. Dabney: The Soul Mender

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TwitterAmazon

With critic reviews like, “Superbly written, this novel took over my life until I finished it” (review from GoodReads reviewer), this up incoming book is sure to catch your attention. I had the opportunity to chat with R.S. Dabney about her book, The Soul Mender, and ask her a few questions about her book and being a writer.

When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
When I was seven years old I was placed in the lowest reading level that second grade offered. While my friends were reading the Boxcar Children and Charlotte’s Web, I was forced to improve my comprehension and phonetic skills reading Bob books and other remedial literature. As a competitive and energetic child, I hated being at the bottom. So I spent the next few weeks devouring every book in the lowest level, every book in the middle level, and topping it off with a blast through Little Women. Within the month, I was reading in the highest group. But more importantly, what started out as a competitive drive to better myself turned into a lifelong love of books. First with reading, then with writing.

Thinking back, I’ve been creating stories and poetry since that fateful year. I have a vivid memory of writing and illustrating a bunch of books during that time period. A couple of months ago my mom found a few, including my prized copy of The Crystal, one of the first stories that left my mind and bled onto the page. I was eight years old when I wrote and illustrated The Crystal. The writing is poor, the use of clichés sickening, and the ending definitely leaves something to be desired. (Maybe it’s good for an eight-year-old? I’d have to consult my teacher friends.) Despite all of that I’m still proud of that book because I’d like to think I was motivated twenty years ago, while holding a finished product in my hands, to do it again someday. Maybe if I hadn’t had that special moment as a child connecting with a story I’d written, The Soul Mender Trilogy would never have come to fruition.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
The Soul Mender tells the story of Riley Dale, a young woman who is cast into a parallel universe where good and evil seem to have switched places, and everyone, including those she loves most, have an opposite. As her list of enemies grows, Riley must ally with the only people willing to keeper her safe—her lowlife countersoul, and the opposite soul of a serial killer in her world.

What inspired me to write The Soul Mender Trilogy (I was still in college at the time—the same age as the main character, Riley Dale.), and what I hope comes across in a non-didactic way, are my own frustrations with the world and how xenophobic and intolerant many of us have become or have always been.

I grew up in a small, predominantly white town in Southern Utah, but color, religion, politics, etc. never caused me to hate or dislike anybody. I was raised to see everyone simply as people on different journeys in different places, but all with the same core human DNA. When I entered the real world and suddenly heard people using the “N word” and talking about killing Muslims for fun, I felt horrified. I couldn’t figure out where that kind of hate came from. So naturally as a writer, I decided to make up an origin for that hate, in the deepest sense of origin, as well as a possible solution.

Overall, this story is about tolerance, empathy, and the world being a solid shade of gray vs. black and white. I put my characters through a lot of hell over the course of three books because the struggle of empathy and love for self and others is often a steep mountain to climb. I hope this doesn’t make it sound like I’m a pessimist. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I like to think I’m a realistic optimist who understands that a glorious happy ending and real change can only come about through deep hardship and pain.

Plus, as a reader, I’m drawn in much more to struggle and hardship than I am to an easy slide through life. Who isn’t?

And like most authors, I write what I like to read.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
What I hope comes across in an underlying message, is my own frustrations with how intolerant we as a society are, both to people who look different from us, and even those who look the same, but money, family and life have dealt them a different hand. My message is one of acceptance, both personal and external. I think it’s important for people to learn to love and forgive themselves, and I also think it’s important to reconnect with an empathy I think is increasingly disappearing from our society. By turning things inside out and having each character be both good and bad, it forces us to take a new look at good and evil, right and wrong, and humanity at its most basic.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
I am inspired by anyone who has the gumption to put themselves through the grueling and emotional process of writing a book, and then sharing it with the world to be judged. If you have ever written a book then you inspire me.

More specifically though, I will narrow it down to four authors.

At the top of my list is Stephen King. Not just because of his book On Writing, which provided guidance and motivation to me throughout my entire writing process, but also because of the amazingly terrifying yet beautifully written tales he has shared with us. I am awed by his flawless dialogue and creative descriptions and find myself reading his books as study guides just as much as for pleasure. I’ve always thought that if Stephen King read my book and liked it, I’d officially have made it.

Next on the list is J.R.R. Tolkien. When I was young my dad read The Hobbit to my sister and I, and never in my life had I been so taken away to a world of magic, dragons, and unlikely heroes. I used to write spin-off books with Bilbo and his wife Bilaboa (What I named her. I’ve gotten more creative, thank goodness!), and would send them on journeys to vanquish new forms of evil. In college I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy and again found inspiration in Tolkien’s grand telling of good conquering evil and the unlikely heroes who saved the day.

The insanely creative brain of Roald Dahl taught me it’s okay to let your feet leave the ground—to suspend reality to create unique stories that really stretch a reader’s imagination. I was fascinated as a child by an immense peach filled with talking insects; by a giant that blew dreams into children’s rooms. And by an anthropomorphic fox who cleverly outwits some not-so-nice farmers. If anyone taught me that there are zero limits to your imagination, it was Dahl.

And finally, J.K. Rowling. I was eleven when Harry Potter came out. And I spent the next few years attending Hogwarts with my new best friends. I think I read each book at least seven times. Never before and never since have I read a book with such well developed characters who you not only cared for, but really felt like you knew.

These four authors have set the bar high in different areas and provided me with a place in the literary world to aspire to. King with his descriptions and dialogue. Tolkien with his world building, plots, magic, and heroes. Dahl with his infinite imagination. And Rowling, with her exceptional character development and ability to create emotion in her readers.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
If you aren’t one of the lucky (and yes talented) authors who gets picked up by a major publishing house, I can’t stress enough the importance of having other people read your work, and by other people I mean quite a few, and more than just family members. Many times I’ll pick up a self-published book that could have been great if it had just been edited a little bit more. Sometimes it’s the grammar, sometimes it’s the continuity. My biggest piece of advice to new authors: don’t go it alone. It is so much more fulfilling with a strong support team. And I promise you, we are out here looking to help!

One other bit of advice I have to offer:

To those thinking of writing a book, or to those in their first, second, eighth, or tenth year, I want to pass on the most important thing I have learned thus far. Without being a New York Time’s Bestselling author, or when someone gives you two stars and says you aren’t worth a damn, it can sometimes feel like you are failing, or not living up to your vision of success. That is why it is important to stop and take inventory of your accomplishments any time you begin to feel less than your expectations—to pause and say “Wow, I’ve made it this far.”

Because this far, whether it be a few chapters on paper, a completed first draft, a self-published book, or a movie deal on your series, is impressive, and you should be proud.

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this summer?
If you enjoy The Soul Mender, then my first recommendation is to read The Peace Keeper, book two in the trilogy, and if you still can’t get enough, the third and final book will be available at the beginning of 2018.

Shameless plugs aside, I just finished reading Dan Simmons’ The Terror, and if you love a well-written mythological thriller, I can’t recommend this story enough. Yes, I know it has been out for ten years, but AMC is releasing the TV series version sometime this year, so if you are one who likes to read the books before you see the story unfold on screen, check it out. Also, reading about men freezing in the arctic can help cool you down on a hellacious summer day.

Another book I couldn’t put down was Julia Joseph’s YA Urban Fantasy novel, The Broken, the first book in a trilogy about a young girl born powerless into a family of gifted demon fighters. This is a perfect summer read, for teens and adults alike, and the sequel is supposed to drop next year so you won’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next to Rose and her friends.


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Published: March 23, 2016
Pages: 380

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Where to Buy:
Amazon

Synopsis: In a wild escape to avoid becoming the sixth victim of the elusive Rocky Mountain Murderer, twenty-two-year-old Riley Dale finds herself flung into a universe parallel to her own, where Las Vegas is known for its churches, terrorist attacks are initiated by the United States, and peace can be found in the darkest corners of the globe.

As the deadly visions that have haunted her since childhood become real, Riley is confronted with the implausible story of a world split in two and the stark contrast between good and evil in people she thought she knew.

Racing deeper into the mystery of the new world, Riley discovers the explosive truth about her ancestors who have been hunted for thousands of years because of a single mistake made long ago.

And now it’s her turn to pay for that blunder.

Pursued by both the government and a clandestine sect of assassins, Riley must ally with the only people in the parallel universe willing to keep her safe—the drug-addicted, prostituting other half of her soul, and the counter soul of a man who tortured and killed five young women.

Short Excerpt:
Grains of sand whipped across her face, burning her eyes. Riley took a step forward but found no relief. Oh, God, it’s happening again. The wind howled as she groped blindly ahead, trying to find something to grab onto. She glanced down and saw in horror that she was completely naked, the sand searing red marks into her soft flesh. Riley tried to cover herself but quickly realized that she needed her hands to shield her eyes.
Squinting into the tempest, she caught a glimpse of the figure she’d originally mistaken for Gabe. He was tall and muscled, with golden curls that flew in the wind like a nest of swarming yellow vipers.
The stranger stood in front of the most bizarre tree Riley had ever seen. Ghostly silver branches twisted and swirled around each other, creating an impossible maze that stretched forever into the sky and in both directions as far as she could see. The crown of the tree glittered with sterling leaves and sapphire fruits that hung still, unaffected by the violent storm.
The man took a step toward the tree, his armor creaking and moaning. A sword, forged of blinding steel that flickered with the flames of a thousand small fires, hung by his side. He clearly didn’t know she was there.
“Hello!” She ran toward the light of the blade. “Help me. I need help!” She had to go to the man. There was no one else. If he wanted her dead, she couldn’t hope to escape anyway.
The armored man turned, startled. “How did you find me?” His hand flew to the hilt of his sword, and there was a sound of scraping metal as he drew the weapon from its scabbard. “How did you find this place?”
“Please. I’m so scared. My eyes. Please.” She cradled her nude body with her arms, tucking her head low into her chest. It was humiliating to stand in front of this man, naked and begging.
“You cannot be here.” He took a step toward her, sword pointed at her hunched figure. “I would have seen this coming.”
What is he talking about? “I think I’m dreaming!” Riley shouted. “I fell asleep or passed out or something. I was in class and then here. I can’t control it. It just happens. Please, I have to get out of here. Wake me up. Do something!” She glanced up and met the piercing stare of the lone warrior. He had Gabe’s eyes. She took a step backward, away from the fiery blade pointed at her throat. “Please,” she whimpered again, shrinking further into herself.
The man continued to stare, a mixture of determination and confusion etched on his stone-like face. “I will send you back this one time, but you must forget what you have seen and never attempt to return.”
“Yes, okay, anything. Just please!”
The howling of the wind grew to a roar, and each blast of sand felt like razors tearing small pieces of flesh from her body. Riley collapsed onto the ground, writhing in pain. The man stepped closer until he stood towering over her crumpled figure. He hoisted his weapon high into the air.
He’s going to kill me!
She raised her arms to shield her head and caught a glimpse of the strange tree, still unscarred by the surrounding gale. Firelight from the sword danced off the tree’s gilded leaves. It would have been a beautiful sight under different circumstances.
“You are a danger to us all,” the man declared. “Your presence here threatens what’s left of the balance of humanity.” He plunged the sword downward, and Riley’s world went still and black.

***

Someone screamed. The harsh noise reverberated through her aching skull. Make it stop. It stopped. Light broke through the darkness, and fuzzy shapes moved around the perimeter of her vision. Riley felt her chest rise and fall with labored breaths. Her entire body ached and quivered as if someone had scrubbed her clean with glass shards. She struggled to sit up and felt hands gently push her to the floor.
“Miss Dale?” The voice was soft and gentle. “Can you hear me?”
Riley felt herself nod. Her vision cleared. Faceless forms suddenly had features. She was lying on her back in the History of the World Wars classroom. The voice she’d heard was her professor’s.
“Oh, thank God,” Dr. Reitz said with a sigh. “Riley, we’ve called for an ambulance. You’re going to be okay.”
She winced. “No. I—I’m fine. I just need air.”
“But you fainted. You’ve been out for a good five minutes.”
That’s all? The vision, if that’s what you called it, was coming back to her—the sand, the tree, the strange man with a sword. “Forget and never attempt to return.” It was an odd request, as she’d never meant to go there in the first place. But where was there, anyway? And who was he? This was the first time someone had spoken directly to her in a dream, and it added an entirely new level of terror.
“Please, I don’t need an ambulance. I need rest. It’s just stress from finals.” Riley looked up at Dr. Reitz, feigning confidence.
He studied her for a moment, obviously wanting to argue, but he held back. “I strongly disagree. However, the decision is yours. Please get someone to drive you home, and be ready to take your final tomorrow.” He stood and cleared his throat. “Everyone put your things away. We’re pressed for time and need to get started.”
Riley didn’t want to stick around to wait for him to change his mind. “I’ll be here tomorrow. Thank you, Dr. Reitz.”
She hurried from the room and burst through the doors of the building into open air. Rain pelted her face as she turned it skyward. Cool water soaked through her clothes within minutes, and she groped gratefully at the sodden garments. At least I have my pants.
It had been years since these dreams had haunted her. Sure, she had dreamed since then, but not like this—not the dreams where she smelled an assailant’s breath or woke up soaking wet, gasping for air. These dreams exhausted her, terrified her, even made her sick. When she was younger, she’d gone to a doctor, who excused them as night terrors triggered by anxiety. He told her she needed to find ways to “create stillness within each day” so her anxieties would not terrorize her at night.
The last nightmare had happened at fourteen. In that instance she’d found herself on an airplane plummeting from the sky, filled with doomed passengers. As the lights flickered, the cabin, reeking of urine, grew smaller with each shriek and helpless sob. Riley awoke from that dream with a black eye, singed hair, and news that a plane heading from Atlanta to Los Angeles had crashed in the desert, leaving no survivors. After that the dreams had ceased. Until now. And this time he’d known she was there.
She found a bench and sat, taking deep breaths, trying to calm down. I had a nightmare, or a daydream. It doesn’t mean anything. It can’t mean anything. It’s one thing for a plane to crash, but a man with a flaming sword and a tree made of precious gems and metals? That’s not real. It doesn’t exist. I’ve got too much going on. That’s all.
Still, something was off. A danger to the balance of humanity? What does that even mean? Her mind flashed back to the men on the cliff and the bruises on her body. Eight years ago she had dreamed of the chaos on the doomed flight, but she’d woken in her own bed with only traces of the experience on her body. This was different. She was no longer just a bystander but the protagonist of the story—a story she wanted no part of.


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R. S. Dabney’s passion for reading, writing, and exploring thrilling stories about unlikely heroes conquering evil started at a young age, culminating in the completion of her first novel, The Soul Mender. Her favorite books span every genre, and she likes to describe her work as having something for everyone: a sprinkle of suspense, a dash of adventure, and a whole lot of good versus evil.
 
R. S. grew up running around the red rocks and ravines in the deserts of southern Utah—building forts, fighting battles, and living the lives of all the characters she and her friends created. Now she lives in a different desert with her husband and pets, and when she isn’t lost in another dimension wrecking havoc on her characters, she enjoys mountain biking, exploring the desert, and eating way too much Mexican food.
 
The second book in the trilogy, The Peace Keeper, is also available online. The third and final installment will release in early 2018.
Facebook         Twitter        Authors Page     Insta: @rsdabneyauthor

Hope you were able to check out her book and Happy Reading 🙂