24 December 2015

At Long Last! I am an Ohayocon Panelist!

Banner (c) Ohayocon,  LLC


I know I've been pretty mum over the past few months on this website...normally I'm pretty consistent with writing and posting but this semester, which wrapped December 15th for me with the submission of final grades, kicked my butt. I lost contact with pretty much everyone and everything and completely lost the time to properly write about ANYTHING that wasn't directly related to teaching and classes.

While I did manage to work in a good-news post about Flipboard's holiday campaign, I hadn't really written anything substantial in ages. I'm happy that I can now take the time to announce that I AM OFFICIALLY AN OHAYOCON PANELIST!  

Fanfic into Fiction will be making its Ohayocon debut January 2016. You can see my panel and all of the other approved panels on the list here and of course I'll let you know when my panel will be a part of the official schedule, with the room number, date, and time. 

This is pretty bittersweet for me. I first attended Ohayocon in 2012 and from then on, I wanted to present writing panels at the con because it's one of the largest in Ohio and it makes top anime convention lists  pretty frequently. In terms of where I wanted to present, Ohayocon was kind of like the holy grail, because it has such a wide reach and a large number of attendees--the biggest con of all the ones I've ever attended. 

However, up until this point, being a panelist just wasn't meant to be.

In 2012 I attended Ohayocon for the first time (and it was my first convention ever!) so I didn't submit, but wanted to get a feel for conventions. I wrote about my experience here.  

In 2013 I submitted panels but there was a combination of stuff--first, when I advertised my submissions on the forums, another writer contacted me and was essentially like, "I do these panels at Ohayocon too and by the way I'm a PUBLISHED WRITER" (with hyperlink to small anthologies, if I recall). I felt like that person was a little threatened (read: unintentionally threatening?) so I sort of backed down--I did mention something like, "I hope both our panels get picked," but realistically, despite presenting panels at Colossalcon, I was still in graduate school at the time, so I didn't have my MFA yet, and I wasn't published, either. So...yeah, I was a pretty unqualified panelist. It made sense Ohayocon went with the more experienced person (who had also presented the same kind of panels at previous Ohayocons, too), and that writer did present a couple successful panels in 2013 with good feedback and participation.
Ohayocon logo by Robert deJesus, (c) Ohayocon ,LLC

Not long after I submitted panels to Ohayocon 2013,  I got kinda sick, and didn't think I was going to make it to the con at all, so I withdrew my panels and announced on the forums I was withdrawing due to illness, and directed attendees to the other writer's panels in my stead. It turns out my withdrawal email didn't make it to the programming crew in time, so they actually rejected my panels anyway, which made things easier. At the last minute, I decided to go to Ohayocon 2013 anyway, since I'd already spent the money on the hotel and pre-registration. I wrote about my experience here.

In 2014 I went to Ohayocon under the radar. It was an extremely last-minute decision to attend and I didn't really advertise that I was going until the last moment. I just wrapped working at Office Max and was just hired to teach at North Central State College--the convention happened I think the week before or the week of school starting. I really didn't have the money to go, but I went anyway, and I forgot to post about it, so I'll have to write a "Let's Look Back" post--I remember I tried to cosplay as Yuuko from XXXholic using my kimono and some fun red contacts, and took some nifty pictures with some VAs and guests. I also remember that I was trying to decide whether or not I should keep attending Ohayocon in the future because of the financial investment....

...which is why 2015 was the first year I did not attend Ohayocon. I was so broke--I had been teaching for a year and at the last minute the school cancelled three of my four classes due to low enrollment, so the sudden low income (it was like $150/wk) killed any possibility for me to go. When I found out David Matranga and Josh Grelle were guests at the 2015 convention, I pretty much fell on my sword. I love both VAs and was so bummed to miss 2015. (Best news though--Matranga is back for 2016!)

After the success of Fanfic into Fiction at Matsuricon 2015, I thought, what the heck, I'll try for Ohayocon 2016. I had also noticed a couple of other things--my presence at conventions was starting to pay off. For the first time ever, I had students in my classes at NCSC recognize me from conventions, and a couple of them asked me if I would be presenting at Ohayocon (I wanted to try!)...and I was becoming more at ease with talking to other writers about writing and providing helpful tips at conventions. I felt like I was finally finding my rhythm with presenting, and with more experience on my belt, I figured it was worth a shot. 

I submitted Fanfic into Fiction in September and held my breath...and boo-yah! It's part of the 2016 lineup and I'm super-happy about it. I really think I had a chance this time because of my teaching credentials, my (very limited) publication credits, my social media reach, and the fact that the panel has mileage at more than one convention. 

In 2012...
  • no MFA or creative writing degree
  • no teaching credentials
  • no publication credits
  • no convention experience
by 2015...
  • MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University (June 2013)
  • experience teaching writing at college (two-year anniversary coming up January 2016!)
  • some publication credits
  • panel presenter at four conventions
  • decent web presence
I guess if I were to give any advice to would-be panelists, it would be to keep persevering with your submissions, to rack up as much experience in your field as possible, and to try to come off as professional as possible in your submissions.  It's been a four-year dream, but it's finally come true: I am a part of Ohayocon 2016!

Huzzah!

03 December 2015

"Writerlicious" is part of the "Gift of Flipboard" Holiday Campaign!

"Writerlicious" made Gift of Flipboard!
Gaby Schwarz, one of the news editors for Flipboard, contacted me just before Thanksgiving with some awesome news--my curated magazine, "Writerlicious," has been included in the holiday campaign, "Gift of Flipboard," as part of the Creatives gift. As she describes it,
Flipboard’s editorial team has preconfigured 21 special packages, for Travelers to Tech Enthusiasts. Anyone can “gift” these packages to friends or family to get them started on Flipboard with pre-loaded sections that make Flipboard instantly more useful. Each preconfigured package has about 25 sources to get people started with content that fits their interests. So anyone who receives that gift will automatically be following your Flipboard Magazine. We will be celebrating all of the selected curators and their magazines on social media and in our blog in the coming days and weeks.

Give the Gift of Flipboard to:

Foodies: http://flip.it/6mGQS
Travelers: http://flip.it/eWRqo
Photographers: http://flip.it/Ey3p_
Creatives: http://flip.it/V317T
News Hounds: http://flip.it/kyM12
Tech Enthusiasts: http://flip.it/hYspT
Entrepreneurs: http://flip.it/VoOc2
Sports Nuts: http://flip.it/lbsNL
Political Junkies: http://flip.it/ud5ys
TV & Movie Buffs: http://flip.it/UorJX
Celeb Watchers: http://flip.it/Pdd_w
Trendsetters: http://flip.it/8ztXi
Gamers: http://flip.it/gRxtO
Music Fans: http://flip.it/EL28F
Love to LOL: http://flip.it/ulF5M
Voracious Readers: http://flip.it/yoqII
Makers: http://flip.it/4I.wg
Self-Improvers: http://flip.it/WrQq-
Educators: http://flip.it/69G3H
Marketers & Bloggers: http://flip.it/.CSnV
Parents: http://flip.it/7pE.A 
Check out this landing page to see all the gifts: http://flip.it/FlipGift.
Pretty nifty!

20 November 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with Deanna Dee

Meet Sonya, one of the lead characters in
Deanna Dee's geeky romances, Finish Him.

Presenting 

Sonya Black


Hi, I’m Sonya, and I’m a junior in college, majoring in history. I live for gaming, video games in particular. My friends often say I’m the level headed one in the group. I think things through and don’t make rash decisions. I’m also always the first one to get into character when we’re gaming. I believe in giving a hundred and twenty percent in everything I do.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 
I don’t like being treated as if I don’t matter. It’s happened before, and it’s the worst feeling in the world.

Where would you like to live? 
I like New England, but if I had my pick, I’d go to Africa or Asia. There’s so much history there.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? 
I want to be appreciated. Really, I just want to be in the presence of people I care about and I know care about me.

The quality you most admire in a man? 
I value someone who is straight-laced. Guys are an interesting breed, and I appreciate when they aren’t crazy.

The quality you most admire in a woman? 
I’m most comfortable around girls who are like me—not in to “typical girl things.” “Typical girl things” make me so uncomfortable, and I need fellow geeky girls in my life.

Your favorite virtue? 
Responsibility. I’m not sure if that’s strictly a virtue, but it’s something I’m an advocate for. Blaming someone else for what you’ve done is never acceptable.

Your favorite occupation? 
I’d like to work in some kind of research. The quiet environment of the library calls to me. If I can spend my days somewhere low-key, I’m more open to having fun with my friends in the evenings.

Your most marked characteristic? 
That would be my opinionated nature. If I don’t like or approve of something, I’m not ashamed to make it known.

What do you most value in your friends? 
Our similar interests are bonuses. Aside from that, I love that they don’t ask or expect me to be something I’m not. They accept me for who I am. 

What is your principle defect? 
I can be closed-minded, especially about things I fear. I’m working on it.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? 
Losing the people who think something of me. I don’t base my worth on the opinions of others, but it’s great to have people in my corner.

What would you like to be? 
I’d like to be free to live my life and think what I want. I won’t shove my beliefs down other people’s throats. I’ll just have my opinions.

Who are your heroes in real life? 
I guess the real life bit cuts out all the video game characters. In real life, my friend Dawn is a bit of a hero. She’s personifies the toughness I’d like to cultivate.

Who are your favorite heroines? 
Dalara from Bloodrage Anarchy (my favorite video game) is one. She kicks butt, and her role in the Bloodrage Anarchy universe is a protector of her realm. 

What is it you most dislike? 
I dislike being belittled or insulted. Don’t think you can judge me because I’m not who you think I should be, please.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? 
I want to be able to instigate change, however  that would happen.

How would you like to die? 
Surrounded by people I care about.

What is your present state of mind? 
Life is pretty good. I’m in school. I have friends. I’m enjoying myself. Things are pretty good, and unless certain parts of my life pop up, I’m content.

What is your motto? 
All disputes can be solved with video games. Seriously, arena fighting games are just really fun, intense ways of flipping a coin.
 
~*~

Deanna Dee is strictly human and does not, to her knowledge, own a hyena. She lives by the sea, which she takes full advantage of in the summer time. People, reading, and pop culture make up the shameless downtime of her life. The rest of it is writing, and she’s okay with that.

Be sure to keep in touch through Twitter and Facebook, and follow her works on her official website and Goodreads.

13 November 2015

Elite Book Promo: Jo Barney's Henlit Titles


Welcome to my tour stop of for the author Jo Barney for her three Henlit titles: Her Last Words, The Runaway, and Never Too Late.  The tour runs from November 9 – 13 and will consist of reviews, guest posts, interviews and excerpts.  The full schedule can be seen here.

ABOUT JO BARNEY'S BOOKS:


ABOUT HER LAST WORDS:
herlastwords-barney-ebook-295x464
Every summer four old friends flock together at Madge’s seaside house to swap stories and sip wine. Throughout divorces, children, and new marriages, only the beach house and the sisterhood that comes with it, hold constant. This time, though, something is different
Madge, the writer friend who brought them all together, is acting strange. She asks them for a risky, unthinkable favor. And then one morning, she disappears.
In Madge’s absence, her friends discover the unfinished manuscript to what will be her final novel. It is the story of past forty years of their lives, a story that may reshape their futures.
ABOUT THE RUNAWAY:
runaway-barney-ebookweb-300x464
Ellie is in her sixties, gruff and independent. She doesn’t expect much from life; it’s broken enough promises to her. The only ugliness in the world Ellie can truly clean up is the graffiti marring mailboxes in her neighborhood, and she centers her days around this as one of the few acts that gives her a little peace.
When a fifteen-year-old goth girl appears offering to help, Ellie is surprised—and suspicious. Sarah has been shunted from house to house in the foster care system. Now she’s run away from a forest camp managed by a tyrannical, enigmatic man…. But escape is not that easy, and soon she finds her life in danger. And Ellie may be wrapped up in this more deeply than either imagined.
ABOUT NEVER TOO LATE:
nevertoolate-barney-ebook-300x464
Decades ago, a shotgun wedding locked Edith into a life with a husband she’s not sure she ever loved. At sixty-five, she feels like a ghost in her own life, wondering where all this came from: the scornful husband, the mercenary brood of grandchildren, her well-meaning but controlling daughter-in-law. Then one Christmas morning Edith wakes to find her husband dead, and the role she played for so long crumbling. Gray-haired, but by no means done with life, Edith has a chance to discover the woman she could have been.
Soon questions arise about her husband’s death, and papers discovered in his pockets send Edith unraveling secrets of the man she thought she knew. Edith’s son Brian is the focus of her life, but he may not be as perfect as she thought. Revelations that he might be cheating shock her. As Edith investigates the mysteries of her family, she may just find who she truly is.

EXCERPT FROM HER LAST WORDS

Early Monday Morning: Flotsam
Lucius

“My God,” Lucius says, as close to praying as he has been in years. “We’re on Venus.” Monoliths rise ahead of him like black specters, their crags and angles cutting through the mist, jutting towards the high, bluing sky.

The others, silent, have dropped their handholds on the rope. Lucius bends to loop it over his arm, and as he does, he sees the man in the slicker, his bag over his shoulder, kneeling, rising, waving at them.

“That guy’s found something. Let’s go.”

He runs, slogs, really, his boots heavy with water. The women in their sneakers move faster, their arms reaching out to the dark figure and whatever lay at the foot of the rock he’s leaning against.

Lucius cannot tell if it is the gulls or the women crying out.

Then they drop to their knees, a huddle of sorrow. They don’t look up as Lucius and the two firemen come up behind them. The mussel gatherer, his empty bag hanging from one grimy hand, a walking stick in the other, stands to one side, his eyes red and wild-looking, his sou’wester pulled down to his eyebrows. Hanks of wet, black hair drag over his eyes, drain down his cheeks like tears.

Madge Slocum lies wedged under an overhang, her face gray. Sand seeps from her mouth. A strand of seaweed wraps her out-flung hand like a bracelet, her bare feet seem ready to run, the toes spread, arched. An arm folds over her body, across a pack strapped to her waist. Several mussels have fallen from the pack and nestle at her throat.

“She came here for mussels,” Lou cries. “For us.” The women reach for her. They grapple with the iron until it falls, and they pull it away from her. Their fingers close her eyes, brush grit away from her lips. They remove the pack and empty it of its black shells. Joan crouches, takes a hand, massages it as if to warm it. Jackie closes the torn jacket, covers the white skin under it.

The ocean ripples as it awakens. White-edged swirls send the little birds skittering.

EXCERPT FROM THE RUNAWAY

Sarah
September 2009

I can remember every second of that last graffiti patrol with Ellie. Maybe it’s the meds they’re feeding me, or maybe I’m a little crazy right now. The nurse says I probably should be with all the stuff I’ve gone through in the past couple of weeks, Ellie at the center of it all.

It was chilly that morning, and we shivered a little as we headed toward the first mailbox, me, in my punk clothes, Ellie in her old lady sweatshirt and red sneakers. She had her supplies and towels in an old shopping bag, like usual, and I could tell she was still mad at me, at my knowing how the graffiti got on the boxes. I was thinking about that, too, but she didn’t know the whole story, not then
.
“Spray!” Ellie ordered, and I stopped remembering and pointed the bottle at the mailbox in front of me. We scrubbed, Ellie not talking to me yet. After a couple of minutes, the black polish on my nails began to melt like the paint scrawls we were working on. Ellie muttered “Good” when she saw me rubbing at them. As soon as the box was as clean as Graffiti X could get it, we headed toward the next one. By the time we got to the street with the big trees, I was hot and glad for what little shade was left, the limbs above me almost bare. Leaves crunched under my boots.

Then I stumbled and heard the heel of my boot snap. Shit, my only shoes was my first thought. I had to walk like a cripple, one leg short, one long.

“Take ’em off!” Ellie said, shaking her gray head at me. “Stupid to wear boots like that; you look like a baby hooker.” I watched where I was going, hoping I wouldn’t step on dog poop or something yucky hidden under the leaves. That’s when I saw the white basketball shoe sticking up from a pile of debris at the curb. Someone must have lost it. Except that the shoe also had a sock in it. And in the sock, a leg.

EXCERPT FROM NEVER TOO LATE

Christmas Morning, 1993

I poke a foot out from under a tangled sheet. Find some joy! yesterday’s horoscope had advised me. Right now, I’ll settle for coffee. The air is morning-warm, the furnace groaning somewhere under me. I push the covers to one side, turn toward Art’s flannelled back, the wall he builds between us when he comes to our bed. 

I know I’m being mean-spirited, a disposition Christmas always delivers like a seasonal virus. Joy, I tell myself again and touch Art’s hump of a shoulder, give it a poke. If I have to get up, layer the cheese strata, set the table, pick up yesterday’s newspapers, he at least can help by turning on the tree lights and starting the fire in the fireplace. Shit! I’ve forgotten the stockings. They, and the stuff I’ve collected to fill them, are piled in a box in the closet. I shake him a little harder. “Get up!” 

Art rolls over on his back. His blue eyes stare up at the ceiling fixture hanging above his head. His mouth is open, as if he’s about to snore, but he isn’t rasping, gurgling, even blinking. 

I raise myself up on an elbow. I pat his arm, bring my hand up to touch his cheek. His skin feels like that of an unripe peach, hard under whiskery fuzz. Cold.

“Art?” 

My ear grazes his mouth as I listen for a breath. Silence. I press my hand against his chest, feel his pajama buttons with shaking fingers.

“Art?”

Art is dead.

It isn’t as if I never imagined him dying, leaving me to finish my life alone. At those times, the idea hadn’t been frightening, maybe even the opposite. A new life for me once he was gone, I envisioned, a better life, maybe. But this actual moment is not part of that scene. I drop my head back to my pillow and try to figure out what to do. My breath isn’t taking hold. I seem to be leaking at the seams, lungs empty, about to be as dead as Art.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
JoBarney1
After graduating from Willamette University, Jo spent the most of next thirty years teaching, counseling, mothering, wifing, and of course, writing.
Her writing first appeared in small literary magazines and professional publications. Since retirement, she has had time to write four novels and two screenplays.
Her stories and essays, as well as the novels, reflect her observations of women’s lives and the people who inhabit them: the children, husbands, parents, friends, and strangers who happen by and change everything.

12 November 2015

Elite Book Promo: Shielded Past by Patti Morelli


Welcome to my tour stop of Shielded Past by Patti Morelli!  The full tour schedule can be seen here.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Shielded Past is riveting and full of suspense. So many questions need to be answered. We find out about Kate’s life in foster care after being abandoned by her mother. We meet Annie Collins, her best friend since their high school days.

Kate meets her ideal man and they purchase their dream home. This home was restored to its magnificent grandeur by her husband Gregg, and it is here that the intrigue begins. There is a light that shines every evening from the adjacent abandoned Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey, and with this, the suspense commences. We journey with Kate and Annie as they seek answers to the source of the light.

It is not only the light they are seeking answers to, Kate’s past is also in question. Her seemingly bright future becomes more clouded by the unknown as the questions multiply. Kate wants to know who she is and finds out rather quickly that she was lucky to be shielded from her past. The forces that must be contended with are both dark and light. The two are not always distinguishable, and knowing who to trust is not always obvious. When Kate finds out her real surname, it connects her to a family she never knew existed. With the help of her new found family the past is unravelled and the truth about her parents is revealed.

Kate must now live with the memories of the horrors that were inflicted on her loved ones. Meet the man and learn his reasons for torturing so many innocent victims. The suspense does not end here.

There are questions that still remain. Was there a connection to her dream home and her past? Why does Kate and all those who love her feel that she is in danger?

Buy @ Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Patti's first book was written under a pen name because the personal contents. Her book was the first in 2014 to received the Gold Seal of Literacy Excellence through Trafford Publishing.

Patti Morelli was born in Manhattan, she previously lived in Staten Island, New York and Marlboro, New Jersey. Patti now resides in Oxford, Florida

Patti has achieved success in business, politics, marriage, motherhood as well as the challenges life has given her. She is a mother of three and now enjoys the moments shared with her children and her two grandchildren.

Patti's husband suffered a massive stroke in 2008, being his caretaker has open a world she had never known before. She finds peace in her writing, Patti has been writing for over 30 years, she now has the confidence to publish her work.

Shielded Past was written over ten years ago, after Patti viewed the grounds of the Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital. She said standing in the halls of the building, she felt an eeriness that could not be explained. Through her vivid imagination and her love for suspense novels, she conjured up the characters and then invented what could have happened in this hospital many years before.


QUOTES FROM SHIELDED PAST


Kate walked over to the window and saw the light also. When the light moved, Sam barked again.
“You know something is out there, don’t you Sam, you’re a good boy.”

Annie walked over to one of the windows, exclaiming, “Look Kate you can see the side of your house from here. I can see your bedroom window. This must be the room that the light comes from and look, there is a staircase in the hallway.”

 “A family has been reunited because of their faith in God. They have truly suffered in the past and are being rewarded by the Lord because of their strong faith.  This is a day of rejoicing for this wonderful family and for all of us. This is a blessed day. Let us pray and praise the Lord for His mercy and kindness.”

“What a case. This man is like an onion, I peel one layer and another one appears. Where do I start?

One night, when I had gone to bed, he locked my door and then I heard the car leave. I looked out of my window towards the hospital and about ten minutes later I saw a light go on, it was on the second floor. I shuddered, remembering how he would go into Joshua’s room at night. Could that be Joshua’s room, I thought to myself?
 “I was not always this monster. I believed I was going to change the world for the better. I truly wanted to help people."

 “Are you kidding me? We are dealing with possibly two murderers out there and you are falling in love with me? Don’t you think there is something wrong with this picture?”

10 November 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with Deanna Dee

Meet Jaxson, one of the leads in Deanna Dee's
geek-flavored romance Finish Him.

Introducing

Jaxon Nyles


Sup, Jaxon here. My life is shrouded in mystery. I’d tell you more, but I’d have to kill you. Kidding, but seriously, it’s top secret, at least for now. So who am I? I’m a guy in his mid-late twenties who enjoys having fun.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? I hate watching people suffer. If there’s anything I can do to prevent or stop suffering, I’ll do it.


Where would you like to live? 
California would be cool. I’ve always wanted to try serious surfing.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? 
An earth where people are comfortable and safe. 

The quality you most admire in a man? 
I appreciate guys who treat people (women especially) well. 

The quality you most admire in a woman? 
I love women who are genuine, pure, if you will. I don’t want to have to wade through layers to find the real person underneath.

Your favorite virtue? 
Resilience. Strength is good, but if you don’t combine it with fortitude, you won’t stay upright for long.

Your favorite occupation? 
Something that involves keeping people safe.

Your most marked characteristic? 
Probably my odd humor. I say the oddest things at the oddest times. No apologies.

What do you most value in your friends? 
That we’re almost like brothers. I work with most of my friends, and it’s good to know they’ve got my back.

What is your principle defect? 
I can be over-protective. It comes with the territory, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and such.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? 
Realizing I’d let someone get hurt, especially if I could have prevented it.

What would you like to be? 
I’d like to be a dragon. Barring that, I’ll settle for happy and healthy.

Who are your heroes in real life? 
People in law enforcement. They are often the unsung heroes of the world.

Who are your favorite heroines? 
My mom is my real life heroine. From fiction, I’d have to say Elisa Maza from Disney’s Gargoyles. It’s a weird choice, but I loved that show when I was a kid. Elisa kicks some serious butt, and she’s fiercely protective.

What is it you most dislike? 
I dislike putting people in harm’s way, whether it’s physically, emotionally, or otherwise.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? 
I’d like patience in abundance. Sometimes, I feel like patience slips away from me, and I absolutely need it.

How would you like to die? 
Making sure someone else had the chance to live.

What is your present state of mind? 
Ready. I’m settled, but things could change at any moment. If they do, I’m all set.

What is your motto? 
Last one in is a rotten apple. I’m not too fond of eggs, but I like the expression.

~*~   

Deanna Dee is strictly human and does not, to her knowledge, own a hyena. She lives by the sea, which she takes full advantage of in the summer time. People, reading, and pop culture make up the shameless downtime of her life. The rest of it is writing, and she’s okay with that.

Be sure to keep in touch through Twitter and Facebook, and follow her works on her official website and Goodreads.

01 November 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with B. Thatcher

Meet Jenna, the heroine of B. Thatcher's sci-fi
romance Catching Her Balance, available now!

Presenting

Jenna Markkus


As some of you readers may know, there are times where I can be a bit socially awkward and shy. Sometimes it's difficult for me to engage myself with strangers, and always prefer if I have a friend with me to give an introduction. When I first learned of Jenna, I knew I wanted to interview her, but reached out to B. Thatcher first for that coveted introduction:

Jenna Markkus’s exquisite, genetically engineered face and form conceals a lifetime of pain. Beloved of her Papa? No. Tool used in pursuit of her Papa’s rise to power? Yes. But enough is enough. Derrick Vittalar is her first, best hope for a life free of servitude and cruelty. All she needs to do is catch his eye.

That sounds somewhat manipulative, no?  The hidden story behind Jenna is the hidden horror of child abuse and parental-child exploitation. Behind her perfectly engineered smile and carefully selected clothing lies a lifetime of pain.  For her caretakers, that pain is their stream of income, their “yellow brick road” to a better life.

Jenna is pain. She exists in what modern medicine terms “PTSD Arousal Cluster.”  She is desperate to get away.  Desperation is the beating of her heart.

For her, there is only one way out. Derrick Vittalar.  The aggressive exploitation of her horrifying parents is not so easily thwarted.  The Vittalar family had the power, the authority, and (hopefully) the willingness to give Jenna a place of safety.  More, she’s praying that she might, finally and at last, be told “I love you” and not look for the oncoming fist.

And now, may I present my interview with Jenna, someone who I immediately felt for once we started talking:

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
My life wasn’t one of happiness, and my psychotic parents, who have continued their abuses.  I am not a commodity.  I am not a tool, a piece of meat to be thrown to the hungry for my parents’ benefit. My lowest depth of misery is coming to the realization that there may be no escape for me.  Derrick is my last chance.  His family has the strength to thwart my parents’ aggressive privilege and demands on my body and my mind.  I only want to be loved, not for my body, but for me.

Where would you like to live?
The Vittalar compound, certainly, but in truth I’d be happy wherever Derrick sets down his pillow.
 
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Safety.  Love.

The quality you most admire in a man?
Intellect and constancy.  Bravery because I have monsters who will not let me go without a fight.  I want a man who will value me for me and find me worthy of his protection.  I’ve been betrayed too many times by my caretakers, whom I hoped would keep me safe, but in reality it was they are were the monsters.  I would fight for him.

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Someone I can trust.  Someone who believes me, listens to me and respects what I have to say.  Don’t get me wrong, I will fight for her as well.   

Your favorite virtue?
Again: intellect.  I’m not safe and there are monsters who haunt my life.  I need folks around me who won’t fall for the lies and the games.  Sadly, yes, I’m that scarred. 

Your favorite occupation?
Love stories.  When you’ve never had safety or love, it is something a person spends a lot of time contemplating.
 
Your most marked characteristic?
Survival.  

What do you most value in your friends?
Someone who believes me.  Loyalty and content of character, someone who will work with me to keep away the monsters.

What is your principle defect?
So many years I’ve been told that my mind wasn’t important and that all I had to offer was my body. Someone else’s benefit.  I learned how to separate my mind from my body and not to care.  From that, I learned how to walk across the backs of people, and that saddens me.  That’s not who I am. It’s what I was forced to be.
 
What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Falling for my parents’ lies.  Maybe believing that there is some All-Loving Celestial entity that heard my cries for help…and actually cared about my tears.  I believed all that and because I did, I tried to show whoever that I was worthy of some eventual help.  That celestial help never arrived.  I was on my own.

What would you like to be?
I don’t know who I am, or who I could be.  I’m in transition.  I feel like I’m just being born and am so amid a war zone.  Mostly, though, I want to feel safe and loved.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Heroes?  I don’t really have them…well, except for my Derrick.  And his wingman, Jago.  They have educated me about sacrifice for a worthy cause, for willingness to submit to something greater than themselves, and to hold their course even if it’s painful to do so.  For me, that’s the epitome of heroic.

Who are your favorite heroines?
My sister Sylvie.  She’s always been there for me.

What is it you most dislike?
No-brainer of a question considering my responses above.  (he he.)  I have fought, and will continue to fight until my dying day, child abuse in any form as well as abusive parental privilege.  I dislike lies.  Manipulations.  Deliberate tweaks of people’s emotions for agenda or entertainment.  In fact, whenever anyone attempts to “prove their intellect” by minimizing mine.  Since I’ve been privileged to have Derrick in my life, and hopefully he feels the same way, I seriously kick over the furnishings and step up, fists first, no matter who tries that game.  No more will I be used.  No more will I be muzzled.
 
What natural gift would you most like to possess?
The thing that makes people capable of loving me.  I seem to have missed that gene.  Shoot, not even my own caretaker found me worthy of loving care. (shrug.)

How would you like to die?
It doesn’t matter.  I probably wouldn’t want to linger, though.  I’d like for people to remember we for having created something beautiful in his life, something that helped people

What is your present state of mind?
There is a deep, dark hole of despair I try to avoid stepping into.  I struggle to hold onto a sense of hope and the idea that I may have a bright and loving future.  We’re in the middle of an invasion so I’m not sure how that will work out.

What is your motto? 
“Keep fighting for love.” This lyric means a lot to me: We will secure the health and benefit of the Seven Galaxies. / The future holds promise. / We will win this war.

~*~

About the Author: B. Thatcher (Brenda) began reading romance novels in middle school. Her passion for that genre has continued to this day. Love among the stars has always been a glorious fantasy. It started early, with Kirk and the Green Girls of Trek, Han and Leah, and even her of dreams finding her own star-struck lover among those unlimited vistas.

Blessed to live among the glory and grandeur of the USA’s Pacific Northwest, she shares her home with three cats, a tank of fish, her dreams and many, many daily critter visitors.

B. Thatcher also writes erotic romance under the penname of Michelle Robbins.

Come play among her imaginings. She promises that it won’t hurt.

~*~

For more of B. Thatcher, stop by her publisher page: B. Thatcher. You can also follow her on Facebook as well as her author blog, "Love Knows No Bounds." As Michelle Robbins, you can check out her publisher page, Facebook, and author blog, "Erotic Romance With an Edge."
 
~*~

30 October 2015

Elite Book Promo: "Earth" by Caroline Allen



Welcome to my tour stop of Earth by Caroline Allen, a literary fiction novel.  This is book 1 of the Elemental Journey series.  The tour runs from October 26-30 and the full schedule can be seen here.


Print: $15.99

eBook: $4.99

ASIN: B00SUWJ5FQ

Apple ID: 962247664

ePub ISBN: 978-1-62015-665-0

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-62015-651-3

Series Title: Elemental Journey series (Book One)

Winner of the 2015 Independent Publishers’ Gold Medal for Best Midwest Fiction. 

In rural Missouri in the 1970s, thirteen-year-old Pearl Swinton has just had her first mystical vision. There is no place for Pearl’s “gift” in the bloody reality of subsistence farming and rural poverty. As her visions unfold, she must find her way in a family and a community that react with fear and violence.

When Pearl discovers that her Aunt Nadine, the family shame, has a similar gift, she bicycles across the state to find her. That trip unexpectedly throws Pearl into a journey to save her runaway sister and sends her into a deep exploration of herself, her visions and her visceral relationship to the earth.

Told with fierce lyricism, Earth is a story about the importance of finding one’s own truth and sense of self in dire circumstances and against the odds. It is also a story about the link between understanding ourselves and our relationship with the earth.

In this first of the four-book Elemental Journey series that will follow Pearl across continents and into adulthood, Caroline Allen introduces a form of storytelling that is unflinching in its honesty, filled with compassion and underscored with originality.


EXCERPT

That King James Bible and an almanac were the only books we ever had in the house. Once, a hardbound Reader’s Digest Father had found in the woods, some of the pages so speckled with mold you could make out only sixty percent of the words. All my life I was starving for books. Hungry for story.

 I’d already read the Old Testament. After Meghan left, I’d locked myself in the bathroom and covered the begetting and begatting, brother killing brother, being forced off the land, tossed off the earth, ripped from the magic of the soil. Lobbing a rock, flailing a bit of a plow, cracking a sibling over the head. Blood flowing and soaking. Forced to roam. Some crazy, heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching universal plan.

 In my house, nobody ever told tales. It wasn’t just my parents. My relatives were all shut up too. The silence of my kinfolk wove core-deep. So few stories, you could fit them in the palm of your hand. Poor folk didn’t talk about themselves, wary of what specters such stories might invoke. I was surrounded by clenched jaws, thinned and bitter lips. My story was a lack of story, a poverty of legend, a dearth of poetry. I wanted to tell Mother that our being poor wasn’t just about food— we were starved for legend. 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Caroline Allen worked in newsrooms across Asia and in London. She is now a novelist and visual artist who lives in rural Oregon. She is the founder of Art of Storytelling, a coaching service for writers. This is her first novel. To learn more about Caroline and the upcoming novels in the Elemental Journey series, visit:


GIVEAWAY


The prize will be a 9x12 original watercolor painting that was done as part of Op365, featured on www.carolineallen.com.   It has a retail value of $125.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


21 October 2015

Happy Release Day! "Firebird" by Jennifer Loring

FIREBIRD by Jennifer Loring


Stephanie Hartwell is a journalist chasing the story of her career...

When superstar hockey player and notorious bad boy Aleksandr Volynsky is traded to the Seattle Earthquakes in a blockbuster deal, Stephanie demands the opportunity to prove herself by scoring an exclusive interview with a man with no love for the media...the same man she once though, as a naive teenager, she'd someday marry.

An Olympian and Stanley Cup Champion, Aleksandr has achieved every goal he's ever set...

Now expected to carry a failing team on his shoulders, Aleksandr's troubles deepen when he encounters Stephanie after a season-opening loss. His lifestyle of drinking and random hookups has been a futile attempt to forget the beautiful tomboy who stole his heart nine years ago. And worse, fame and fortune have made it impossible for him to trust anyone--especially Stephanie, who is engaged to another man.

Romance rekindles, but tragedy reveals Aleksandr's dark side...

Being with Aleksandr in the first place jeopardizes Stephanie's journalistic integrity and threatens her career, and when he spirals out of control, it reawakens fears from her own history, making her unable to commit to a future with him.

When Aleksandr discovers the truth behind his self-destructive behavior, will his newfound self-awareness be enough to convince Stephanie to give him one last chance...

Or will his revelation drive her away for good?


Author Bio:


Jennifer Loring's short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, webzines, and anthologies. In 2013, she won Crystal Lake Publishing's inaugural Tales from the Lake writing competition; in 2014, DarkFuse published her novella Conduits, and in May 2015, Omnium Gatherum released her debut novel, Those of My Kind. She recently signed a deal for a contemporary romance trilogy with Limitless Publishing; the first book, Firebird, is due out on October 20, 2015. Jennifer lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, a turtle, and two basset hounds. She is currently at work on the second book in the Firebird Trilogy as well as a paranormal romance.



One e-book copy of Firebird

LISTEN TO THE BOOK SOUNDTRACK HERE! Firebird (Book One) from JenniferLoring on 8tracks Radio.

19 October 2015

In Loving Memory: Ron Shannon

Author Ron Shannon.
Earlier this week I learned that author Ron Shannon had passed away. Due to my terrible habit of not keeping up with friends (or social media) when my life gets stressfully busy, I missed the original announcements among Seton Hill and Writing Popular Fiction alumni. 

Ron passed away on September 27th. A special mass was held for him in Seton Hill's beautiful chapel on October 12th.

It was through a  photo from the October mass that I learned of his passing, and the news hit me hard. I hadn't cried so heavily since my father and grandfather passed away. I didn't know Ron exceptionally well, but his kindness meant a lot to me. As clich├ęd as it sounds, his presence in my life was like a shooting star: brilliant, and all too brief.

While Ron and I were at SHU, we both attended some modules together at residencies, but because we wrote in very different genres, we didn't have a chance to get to know each other very well. It was after we both graduated from Seton Hill that we really started talking to each other, emailing back and forth. 

It was through one of the open calls I posted in the SHU WPF Facebook group asking for participants in my "Proust Your Protagonist" interview series that Ron and I started emailing. He was one of the first volunteers for the Proust interviews, and while we wrote back and forth over the best way to do his character feature, naturally we started talking about writing, then a little bit about our everyday lives, then plans for the future. It was mostly Ron offering encouragement and support as I yammered on through Gmail to him. It was an unbalanced friendship, to say the least, because Ron was unconditionally giving, while I responded sporadically based on how much free time I had; sometimes, if the emails piled up considerably, I wouldn't respond at all. 

I'm ashamed to say that our last email conversation happened in April. I want to share with you some of what he wrote to me in it, so you can understand what type of person Ron was--how effortlessly kind and supportive he was. In this email I had mentioned some of the troubles I was having with earning a living as a teacher, and that I was looking into teaching English abroad to escape the poverty that I'm currently in. His response:
"I know you'll do great and I think it will give you time to recover from some of things that cascade down on you at times. You must, however, stay in touch, whether on Facebook, emails, or whatever. I will miss your art and talent if you don't. That, by the way, will make you successful. You will take your talent with you, you won't be able to hide it, and it will bring you respect. I know you have butterflies, but that's normal. It means you'll be good at what you plan to do and it will make you happy. Hang in there until then."
Ron Shannon. One of the kindest men I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and yes, a very talented writer. He has two books out now, and more scheduled to be released posthumously. I will post when his new work comes out, but in the meantime, please celebrate the contributions he's already made:
  • Gabriel's Wing - Novel. It’s April 1969 and many of the flower children who left home to escape the old morality face disillusionment, extreme poverty, and death. They give up on their dreams and do whatever it takes to survive even if it means submitting to unconscionable evil. Stanton Clayburn, a young private investigator, has been hired to find a nineteen year-old lost flower child. He is determined to bring the boy home safely, but the journey takes him back to the world that nearly destroyed him. Tillie Thornwhistle, the daughter of a white father and a black mother, knows the meaning of hardship and living as an outcast. Adversity makes her strong and gives her the determination to let nothing get in the way of her success. Then a series of misguided ventures changes everything. The trail to redemption includes a psychopath, an unexpected trip, and the mysterious Stanton Clayburn. Stanton and Tillie meet under extraordinary circumstances. Fate and necessity pull them together. What follows is an adventure that could easily cost them their lives.
  • Proust Your Protagonist with Author Ron Shannon  Interview. Ron answers the Proust Questionnaire in character as Tillie Thornwhistle.
  • The Hedgerows of June - Novel. It’s late June 1944. The allies have invaded Normandy and Chris Weymouth, an allied spy, has been living in a French village at the edge of the Bocage playing piano in a local cabaret at night while passing bad intelligence to the Germans. He has been expecting orders to leave at any time but is taken aback when they are delivered by a young Catholic nun named Sister Mary. Sister Mary however, is much more than her habit and wimple, she has her own secrets too. She informs Chris that he’s been ordered to help her transport four young children across the dangerous French farmland known as the hedgerows to St. Lo. Espionage, passion, intrigue, and danger surround them on all sides as they head directly into one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, the battle of the hedgerows!
  • Proust Your Protagonist with Ron Shannon - Interview. Ron answers the Proust Questionnaire in character as Christopher Weymouth. One of my all-time most popular posts on this website.
  • "In My 'Write Mind' at In Your Write Mind" - Article. Written for Pennsylvania Bridges.
  • Blackberries - Short Fiction. Written for Clever Magazine. 
  • "Remembering Ron Shannon" - Article. Reprint of Ron's February article, "Anticipating the 2015 In Your Write Mind Conference" with a farewell message.
  • Ron E. Shannon - Author Website. Will be maintained and updated with Ron's new publications. Ron kindly made a spot for me on his website under "My Favorite Links." 
  • Ron's Amazon Page - Amazon.com Where you can find Ron's books.
  • Ron Shannon - In Memoriam Goodreads.com Author Heidi Ruby Miller's post for Ron.
  • Ron's Goodreads Page - Goodreads.com Where you can find Ron's books, reviews, reading list, and more. Ron's advice to writers in his Q & A: The most important thing to remember is don't give up. Keep writing and keep trying. Don't let anyone discourage you.
~*~