Author Spotlight- Elizabeth McKenna: First Crush, Last Love

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This is one of those books I really wish I could read. If I wasn’t still recovering from a concussion, I would love to read this book. But as it is, this book will be added to my to-read list and I will have to wait until I am healed. 

1) When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
Like most authors, I have always been a reader. I was a shy child (still am) and book characters were my friends. I did well in English class, which led me to a Journalism major in college. Deep down, I always had the fantasy of being a successful author, but when I graduated college back in 1989, self publishing wasn’t a viable option. There were bills to pay and later, children to raise, so I took the practical route.  I’m a technical writer and editor for a software company, so I write pretty dull stuff during the day. About 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to write fiction. It is a nice escape from the daily world.

2) Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
FIRST CRUSH, LAST LOVE started out as a fictional memoir. Throughout the various crises I have faced, I often mumbled, “This will make a great book someday.” I wrote this story to exorcise the demons in my head. It took four long years to finish, and there were times that I thought I wouldn’t reach the end, but then a lucky thing happened – the characters took on their own identities and their storylines evolved away from my life. Some scenes are still true to my past, though it is not important which ones. I will tell you that I did obsess over a boy throughout high school. I did move on and marry someone else, which ended in failure. And, just like Jessie, I did marry that high school crush and we are living happily ever after.

3) What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Making mistakes is part of life, but if you can live through the rough times, you will be stronger. And never give up on happiness. You can find your last love.

4) What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
Nora Roberts turned me on to romance books. Before I read hers, I kind of looked down on the genre as being so unrealistic. But after I lived several decades, I realized that the world could use more romance books and happily ever afters.

5) Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published
Learn about story structure and find a professional editor for your book. Also, realize that not everyone will like your book. You will need to have tough skin. I have gotten one star and five star reviews on the same day. It’s just part of the job.


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Published: August 1, 2017
Pages: 314

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Book Links:
Ebook: $0.99 (US) at Amazon and Barnes & Noble 
Paperback: $8.99 (US) at CreateSpace and Amazon

Synopsis:
Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening again. Ten years ago, despite her best efforts, Lee Archer wanted to be just friends. Now, he wants more, but Jessie’s still recovering from a psycho ex-husband. Can she learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.

Excerpt:
In the main banquet hall of Penbrook’s Restaurant, the band closed their first set with a slow song, and the Class of 1984 and their spouses headed to the dance floor. Jessie hadn’t slow-danced since her wedding reception and her mood turned bitter at the memory. She downed the rest of her drink. Love sucked. That was the bottom line.

She smelled Lee before she saw him. His clean, shower-fresh scent conjured up more memories. Sitting behind him in classes because “Baxter” came after “Archer,” she had breathed in his pheromones as if her life depended on it.

From behind, he nudged her shoulder with his own. “Hi there.”

His European-cut, black suit and steel-gray tie made him look both elegant and handsome. She wished for a blast of cool air to dry the drops of perspiration breaking out across her upper lip.

She swiped at the wetness and gave him a half smile. “Hi back.”

He cleared his throat, and she thought his soft green eyes shifted, but she knew that couldn’t be possible. It had to be a trick of the flickering dance lights, because gods didn’t get nervous.

“You look great. Blue is definitely your color.” His eyes traveled her royal blue silk sheath dress. “Definitely.”

The connection between her brain and mouth broke, rendering her mute.

He didn’t seem to notice her zombie-like state. Looking sheepish, he asked, “Would you like to dance? I think I owe you one.”

The horrible memories kept piling up. Now she had to agonize over the disastrous Spring Fling when they had gone to the dance together, but Lee had alternated between fighting and making out with Tina the whole night.

Her brain started functioning again. This time her smile was tight. “That was a long time ago. I barely remember the night.”

Liar, but she was done giving men the satisfaction of hurting her.

Disappointment clouded his eyes, but then it was gone with a blink and she wasn’t sure what she had seen.

“How about we dance anyway?”

She shook her head. “Thanks, but I was never good at dancing.”

“Come on. It’ll be fun.” He gave her empty glass to a passing waiter and tugged her toward the dance floor.

On the way, she fought confusion, disbelief, panic, excitement, and lust. When he slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, lust won. Her lady parts crowed in triumph.

“You . . . you don’t have to do this.” Her head spun as she tried to regulate her breathing. His scent filled her pores, and her knees trembled.

The beautiful mouth that she had studied to the point of knowing every curve and line frowned. “But I want to, Jester. Do you hate me that much?”

“What?” She stopped moving to the music. “I don’t hate you. Why do you think that?”

“Because I treated you like crap in high school and took you for granted. You have every right to hate me.”

“We were kids,” she said with a flick of her fingers. “Kids do stupid things.”

He shook his head. “It doesn’t make it right. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything.”

She pulled out of his grasp. She didn’t need his sympathy or his apology. She didn’t need to remember how awful high school was, and she absolutely didn’t need lust rushing through her body like whitewater rapids.

“You’re forgiven. Thanks for the dance.”

She made it two steps and then his hand captured hers again. Spinning her around, he closed the distance between them and whispered in her ear, “Please, dance with me.”

She drew in a breath and let it out, picturing her yoga master. When her body relaxed, he pulled her tighter against him. The warmth from his hand sent sparks along her spine and outward to the far corners of her body. It was like being electrocuted but in a good way. She didn’t have to die to go to heaven. Paradise was right here in his arms.


Love a book that has a Happily Ever After? Check out my alter ego, Elizabeth McKenna:

Author website / Facebook

My romance novels are available in e-book and paperback format.


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Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her first contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, as much as others have enjoyed her historical romances.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

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I really hope you are able to check out Elizabeth’s book. If you have, I would love to know what you think! Till then, Happy Reading 🙂

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Cover Reveal and Author Spotlight: Aleisha Maree, Fractured Promises

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00026]


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Author Interview

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have read and got lost in books since a very young child. I have always said to myself I’ll write like this one day. I’ll be the retreat for people like me who seek solace in books. Even if it is a bit twisted.  I became a  mum at a young age so that has always been first and foremost in my life but now the voices  are too loud and want out,so i’m grabbing it and running with the crazy

What is the first book that ever made you cry?
Danielle Steel – His Bright Light read it! It is amazing.

Do you have any bizarre writing quirks?
I’m just bizarre in general, but i click my toes together the whole time that i am writing.

What do you think makes a good story?
My husbands says the title and the bigger the boobies the better on the cover (sorry he just wanted to feel involved in my interview lol), but on a serious note i feel passion, and an awesome twisted plot that takes you by surprise makes for an fabulously alluring story.

What are common traps that new authors fall into?
People pleasing, feeling they have to change to fit into an already established writing world.

All new writers JUST BE YOU don’t fall into the trap that society wants.  Me i’m just batshit crazy all day every day.  Take me like a grain of salt and put me in ya coffee.

If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
To not have been as scared to let the world know what goes on inside my brain. Keep writing no matter how crazy shit gets don’t ever stop writing. If you write a sentence a day, pretty soon you will have a whole book.

Describe how you felt when you published your first book.
Crazy ecstatic, shaking in me boots, overwhelmingly worried that the world wouldn’t get me but oh so astonishingly proud to show my kiddies DREAMS DO COME TRUE!!

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00026]
Author: Aleisha Maree
Published: August 31, 2017

Series: Reapers Reign

Synopsis:
I am Knox The Assassin Ambrose. I loved an angel, yet couldn’t keep her. These hands of mine, they make people bleed. They rain down pain upon sweet pain. Break a man’s bones with just one swift southpaw to the jaw. I’m an Assassin of men’s’ bodies and women’s hearts. I don’t do nice. I’m Raw, Rough and Unwavering in my quest to be the best.

I feed on my enemy’s hate, turning it into power and strength. I know how to fight with my fists but I also know how to destroy you without a single touch. I fucking clawed my way to the top and that is where I’ll stay.

No need to seek the warmth of a woman’s arms as I had them all falling at my feet, then like a south paw to the jaw she was there. Stuck in my minds eyes, haunting my dreams and etching in under my skin. The more this new beauty holds my attention, the more I lose of my angel, the one who first saved me. To top it off, she has her eyes, so every time I look at her, I’m reminded of what I’ve lost. She’s taking over my senses and turning my brutal world upside down.

Gone is the Knox my angel loved, instead I’m fighting harder than ever before.

Maybe just maybe I can find that love my soul craves. Miss Blue-James; can she accept the monster I’ve become? She has her own deep, dark secrets and evil is chasing her tail, seeking to bring her down.

But the evil hell bent on destroying her, hasn’t met me yet. I won’t fail her the way I failed my angel. Tick Tock goes the clock.

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Aleisha Maree – Author

Writer of dark erotic souls in leather and lace.​​​​​

Aleisha Maree is a Wife to one amazing man who is the love of her life, her soul in this crazy world, & a Mamma bear to 6 little hell hounds (I mean kids) that mean more to her than breathing.

Aleisha’s from a small village called Wakefield in the South Island of New Zealand. Reading and getting lost in the world of words and peoples remarkable thoughts has always be the greatest form of escape and the most magical journeys.

Aleisha has spent the last 15 years being a Mamma and wife. Until now, she has put her writing and the amazing voices of  hot alphas and ladies in lace on the back burner. But with life slowing down just a little and the kids just about off too school, the voices became too loud to ignore.

My books will have happily ever afters as well as intense dark loves, devils, and demons with a few angels thrown in here and there.

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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.

 

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

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

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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

Add to GoodReads

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.

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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 🙂

Author Spotlight: Mitch Reinhardt, Wizard’s Key (The Dark Wolf Saga, #1)

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Wizard’s Key is one of those books I really wish I had the time to read. I did however have the privilege to interview the author, Mitch Reinhardt, and ask him a few questions regarding his book and being a writer.  

When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
That’s a bit of a tough one for me to answer.  I’ve always had a very active imagination.  I would see scenes in my mind, just like watching a movie and I filed them away.  Finally, in my late forties, I decided to do something about it.  I wish I had started sooner.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
‘Wizard’s Key’ is the first of four books that will comprise The Darkwolf Saga.  It’s a middle grade/young adult book about three teenagers who are thrust into a new world full of magic, monsters, knights, wizards, druids, and werewolves!  All they want to do is return home but there are many dangers in their way.  I’ve had the story buzzing around in my head for a long time.  It just wouldn’t go away.  I kept coming back to it and writing notes on paper or whatever I could find at the time.  I didn’t think it was something I could ever finish, so I just continued collecting my notes.  Eventually, I made up my mind to commit and write the first book.  I wrote the first draft and was so proud of it, I really was.  I didn’t know much about the process, so I enlisted the services of a freelance editor and she gave me a lot of good advice for writing my second draft and editing it.  When I go back and read that first draft I laugh and cringe a bit because I made every mistake imaginable when I wrote it.  That’s part of the process, just get it out on paper – or on your favorite word processor and then you go back and make it better.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
First of all, I hope the reader is entertained.  I want them to find themselves walking beside the main characters step of the way.  The message of the series is one of friendship and hope and how people who may not get along well can eventually become friends and learn to work together.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
Oh wow, now that is hard to answer!  I can name a handful of the authors who inspired me and whose books I still enjoy reading.  Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Hugh Howey, J.R.R. Tolkein, Fred Saberhagen, J.K. Rowling, Dean R. Koontz, John Flanagan, and more.  As you can see my taste tends to extend from Science Fiction to Fantasy to Horror.  I would like to add that Stephen King’s book, ‘On Writing’ is a must read for anyone who wants to write.  It’s thoroughly enjoyable, inspiring, and full of fantastic advice.  I keep it on my desk as a reference.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published? Read, write, and read some more.  I think it’s important to read books in other genres to broaden your exposure as well.  Make up your mind that you want to do this and then make the time to do it.  We all have schedules with jobs and families, but if you have that desire write, to create something from nothing, you will find the time. There’s no secret or silver bullet to writing a book.  If you commit yourself to writing you will get it done. Remember learning to write is a process, enjoy it!

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this summer?
‘The House of Bradbury’ by Nicole Meier was an excellent read as was ‘The City of Mirrors’ by Justin Cronin.

Excerpt:

Sawyer kept his eyes on the samurai armor as he walked around a stack of large crates. He was completely out of sight when Geoff heard a loud thump followed by Sawyer’s “Ouch! Damn, that’s heavy.”

Geoff’s heart nearly stopped.

“What happened? Are you okay?” he called with a higher pitch to his voice.

“Yeah, yeah,” grunted Sawyer. “What the hell is this?”

Sawyer held his hand out from behind a large stack of crates and beckoned Geoff to come over. Geoff hurried around the crates and saw Sawyer standing in front of a large object covered with a single white sheet.

“It’s huge. It must weigh a ton. I almost broke my toe on it.” Sawyer lifted the sheet from the tall object to expose a gray stone archway. It stood over seven feet tall and was cracked and chipped, and from the black, sooty residue that covered one side, it looked as if it had been in a fire. Even in such a damaged state, Geoff could see remnants of once beautiful carvings all around it. There were small figures that reminded him of gargoyles, and he was sure he could make out part of a dragon’s head at the top.

“What is it?” asked Sawyer.

Geoff ran a gloved finger along the cold, gray surface and shook his head. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen it before. It looks like either a doorway or perhaps it was once a window or mirror, maybe from a cathedral or something.”

“It was hidden behind all these crates. It must have taken a lot of big guys to bring it up the steps and put it here.”

Geoff looked at Sawyer. He was right. It would have taken a small army to heft this heavy stone archway and drag it up the steps, something Geoff would certainly have known about.

“How did they get it in here?” asked Geoff. “Look. You see this archway is much bigger than the door.”

Sawyer looked back at the door that led into the study and then back at the archway. “Yeah, you’re right. Maybe they used a crane and brought it in through a window.”

“No.” Geoff shook his head. “I would have noticed that. And besides, they would have had to take out most of the wall in order to get this thing in here.”

Sawyer shrugged with his arms out wide. “You got me. I have no idea how it got here, unless the Great Pumpkin left it last Halloween.” Geoff smiled and chuckled a little. He had never spoken to Sawyer this long and he liked Sawyer’s sense of humor. Geoff stepped closer for a better look at the carvings, “I’ve never seen this kind of sculpture before. I wonder who carved it. It’s very detailed.”

Apparently already bored with the archway, Sawyer walked back to the desk and peered into the box Geoff had been rummaging through earlier. “Looks like a bunch of rocks and dirt,” he said as he gently sifted through the bags and small boxes. He picked up the rectangular box and read aloud, “Characteristics do not match other artifacts found in the surrounding sediment and area. What characteristics would that be? Geoff, can I open this?” Geoff pulled his attention away from the archway and looked at Sawyer. He recognized the box Sawyer was holding. “Yeah, sure. Go ahead. It’s just some old rusty key inside, but be careful with it.”

“Key to a treasure chest, maybe?” asked Sawyer with exaggerated excitement. Geoff chuckled again and watched Sawyer open the box and pick up the clear bag containing the earth-encrusted key. He turned it over and looked at the other side.     “Yep,” said Sawyer. “Just an old key.” He was about to place it back in the box when Geoff noticed he stopped and examined the key more closely.

“Hey, Geoff, this reminds me of some of the carvings on that archway,” he said as he walked over to Geoff and held the key up for him to see. Geoff took the key from Sawyer and looked at it.

“No. There, on the other side. Doesn’t that look like a dragon or snake to you?” asked Sawyer as he pointed to the small shape that caught his attention.

Geoff looked closer. The shape did indeed look similar to the carvings on the archway. He slowly opened the bag and removed the key. It weighed next to nothing in Geoff’s hand and it was as cold as the stone archway. He held the key up to what appeared to be the partial carving of a dragon’s head on the archway.

“Yep,” said Sawyer. “I thought so. I bet whoever carved that archway also made the key.”

“I think you’re right,” said Geoff. Now this was more like it, he thought. Geoff loved a good mystery and Sawyer had discovered an extraordinary one. Sawyer’s keen eye had revealed a connection between the key and the archway, but what exactly was their connection?

Geoff felt his heart pound and the hair on the back of his neck seemed to be standing up. A tingling sensation enveloped him, giving him a warm, energized feeling.

“Uh, Geoff,” said Sawyer, “what’s going on?” Geoff looked at Sawyer, who was backing away with an alarmed expression on his face.

“What’s happening? I feel strange. Sawyer, what’s happening to me?” asked Geoff

Sawyer pointed. “Whoa! Your hair…it’s standing up! And what’s that sound?”

Geoff raised his hand and felt his head. His hair was indeed rising from his head. He heard a slight rushing sound, like wind whistling through a keyhole. Suddenly Geoff felt a movement in his hand and he quickly looked down at the key he was holding. Bits of dirt and stone were starting to crumble and flake away right before his eyes, but there was something else—something beneath the fragments of stone and earth. It was smooth and white.

The doorbell rang.



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Published: December 19, 2016                    Pages: 284                         Add to GoodReads
Where to Buy: Amazon

Synopsis: The dirt-encrusted key didn’t look like much, but when bullied teen Geoff inadvertently activates it, he is suddenly thrust into a strange and beautiful world. It doesn’t help that he’s accompanied by Sawyer, his chief tormentor at school, but there is a silver lining in that intelligent, compassionate Jane is also with them. Soon the three teenagers encounter evil orcs, majestic unicorns, dangerous trolls, and a mysterious elven druid who doesn’t care for humans. Together, they must make their way back home before the new world they find themselves in erupts in war. Along the way, they’ll be tested to the limits of their endurance—and discover hidden powers deep within. But will those powers be enough to stop the ravenous werewolf that is stalking them?


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Mitch Reinhardt
Mitch grew up in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina and is currently a Business Analyst for an international software firm. An avid animal lover, he enjoys hiking, tennis, classic movies, and, of course, writing. He lives with his faithful coonhound, Murphy, who doubles as a proofreader – when he isn’t sleeping or digging in the backyard. Wizard’s Key is the first book of The Darkwolf Saga series.

 

To learn more about the series, please visit www.mitchreinahrdt.com


I hope you are able to check this book out. If you do, let me know what you think! Have a Great day 🙂

Author Spotlight: Marie Lavender, Directions of the Heart

 

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Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN, Marie Lavender has published over twenty books and is a Top Ten Author on AuthorsDB.com. Two of her books (Second Chance Heart &Little Magick) placed in the Top Ten on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll.

This week I had the privilege to talk with Marie Lavender about her upcoming book, Directions of the Heart, and ask her a few questions regarding her book and what it’s like being a writer. I especially loved what Lavender said when I asked her about her books message. 

When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
I think I was nine when I began writing stories. I had ideas in my head well before that, but at least that age was when I knew to get them down on paper in order to make room for the rest. Writing makes me feel a certain freedom that nothing else can; with my stories, I can encounter new worlds and fall in love with my characters just like my readers do.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
With Directions of the Heart, I wanted to cover aspects of PTSD that people don’t usually talk about, the darkness that we sometimes go through in our minds after experiencing various traumas. I also wanted each character to take an emotional journey, one that was unique yet easy to relate to.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
I think one message is that we don’t have to be silent about our pain. I think a lot of people stay silent about their traumas, and it’s a personal choice, sure, but I think it only makes their shame or agony grow. I want survivors of trauma to know it’s okay to ask for help, and to find someone they can trust to talk about it with. Bad things happen sometimes in life, but we don’t have to go it alone.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
I can’t name a specific book (I have so many favorites), but I do admire Nora Roberts for not holding back about anything in her writing. That fearless approach has inspired me to do the same in my own projects.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
Be patient with however long the journey takes, but don’t be afraid to try new things, to put yourself out there in order to meet your writing goals.

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this summer?
If you like vampires and magic, and you’ve never even heard of these books before, I’d recommend P.C. Cast’s House of Night Series, a YA paranormal saga. Think high school drama meets the supernatural. I have a pile of other books waiting on me; I just haven’t gotten to them yet.

 


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Published: July 25, 2017

Pages: 346

Add to GoodReads

Where to Buy:
Amazon
Barnes&Noble
SmashWords
Kobo
CreateSpace

 

Synopsis: Embark on a remarkable journey of drama, romance, and passion… In all of these amazing stories, there’s one burning question…is love worth the risk?

Without You
Reece and Jenna are two childhood friends separated by time and distance. Can they find a way to heal their bond, or perhaps forge a new one?

Strange Heat
Spurred by her friend’s close call, Victoria decides to take a risk and prove the lifestyle she led was her downfall. But as Tory sinks deeper into the tumultuous abyss of desire with the mysterious Rick, can she climb back out before it’s too late? Or does she even want to?

Memories
Struggling to run her family’s farm on her own, Sadie takes on a hired hand, Matt. As they grow closer, so does the danger. Someone wants her legacy. Can they combat this new threat, as well as the demons of the past, before Sadie loses everything, including her life?

A Touch of Dawn
Caitlyn thought she’d be in the dark forever. But with the light came Jack, the police consultant who found her. Can they take a journey of healing together, or will Caitlyn retreat into the darkness of her mind, where she lived for so long?

(CONTENT WARNING: With an abuse awareness theme in this collection, there may be triggers here for past trauma sufferers. However, HEAs are guaranteed.)

Book Trailer

 

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8Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, dramatic fiction, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.

Marie Lawender           Blog- WordPress           BlogSpot            Facebook            Twitter


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I hope you are able to check this book out. If you do, let me know what you think! Have a Great day 🙂

Author Spotlight- Terrance Wolf, Featuring: A Gleam of Light

 

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I had the privilege to talk with T.J. & M.L. Wolf about their upcoming book, A Gleam of Light, and ask them a few questions regarding their book and being a writer.

When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
BOTH: We first discovered common ground with The X-Files. But it was really Fire In The Sky that changed everything and began to open our eyes. As lifetime lovers of movies and books, creating our own novel trilogy seemed like the best way to tell a story inspired by life-changing encounters.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
BOTH: A GLEAM OF LIGHT begins with a fictional account of a real event: Flight 564 from Dallas to Las Vegas in 1995. This otherworldly encounter changes the lives of everyone on board, including Una Waters, our central character. Twenty-one years later, a plea for help from the Hopi reservation where she grew up brings Una back, to help solve a mystery that threatens their traditional way of life.

We wrote this book to explore the concept of Earthly visitation through the eyes of ancient people who have also witnessed the rapid evolution of modern culture. For us, their beliefs ring true on many levels. Hopi prophecy speaks to the destiny of man…in a universe where we are not alone.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
BOTH: A new way of looking at our place in the world and maybe even the universe, anticipating humanity’s future through the eyes of other cultures–especially those that long preceded the existence of America as we know it.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
T.J.: For me, it would have to be Michael Crichton. His incredible attention to detail and painstaking research made me a believer in so many ideas that it broadened my conception of what is possible.

M.L.: J.K Rowling. The Harry Potter books opened my eyes to creative storytelling like no others.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
BOTH: Believe in yourself and your vision. Never give up. Never surrender.

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this summer?
UNACKNOWLEDGED by Steven M Greer, M.D. Filled with amazing testimonies and eyewitness accounts from people with firsthand knowledge regarding UFOs, including secret military operations, crash site recoveries and reverse engineering of Alien technology.


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Published: December 9, 2016
Pages: 256

Add to GoodReads

Where to Buy:
Amazon

Synopsis: In 1995, at the age of eight, Una Waters survived a terrifying encounter at 30,000 feet aboard Flight 564 from Dallas to Las Vegas. It changed her forever. After 21 years, and a decade away from the Hopi Reservation where she grew up as a child, a surprise plea for help brings Una back, to solve a mystery that threatens their traditional way of life. The U.S. Army’s sudden interest regarding a cave discovery in the Sacred Peaks has triggered alarm, leading to violence. With the help of friends, new and old, Una must confront her painful past, seek proof to qualify the ancient site for protection under law, and stand up to a stiff-necked general, whose agenda is more concerned with retrieving a mysterious power source.

Short Excerpt:
The petroglyph seemed alive, its symbols burning with fire, lifting her up, right out out of her body. No wonder Moki was never the same. Would she be? Would the epiphany of this moment change her perception of reality?

Time seemed irrelevant.

She could kneel here, communing with the gods for eternity, raptured in the glory of this feeling, because it would never end.

“Una!!!” they cried out to her, all at once.

A wave of emotion surged through her, memories of her parents, of Kasa’s letter, the moment she first set foot in Oraibi after so many years, and the spirit-guides who greeted her as a pair of wolves.

And incredibly, she thought of Ashcroft, not the general, but the boy, in his outfit, on the plane so many years ago. The light in his eyes, a light which seemed akin to hers, as if the two were one and the same.

The spark between them was no coincidence. More like destiny.

Her hand pulled away.

And in that moment, the incredible Gleam of Light–with all its wonder and promise of new life and hope for the future of humanity, all its power to transform one’s consciousness and open the door to another dimension, where the Sky People were real, waiting for us to join them–went dark.

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We joined forces to explore mutual interest in the work of UFO researchers like Budd Hopkins and movie directors like Steven Spielberg. The History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” became a focal point of our quest to uncover the truth regarding humanity’s purpose and how it pertains to our future. Married twenty years, we write Speculative Fiction and live in Boardman, Ohio.

Authors Website


I hope you are able to check this book out. If you do, let me know what you think! Have a great day 🙂