Guest Blogger: Victoria Zigler on Writing for Children

Today I am pleased to welcome a first time visitor to From the Pen of Mae Clair. Please say hello to Victoria (Tori) Zigler as she shares a glimpse of why she chooses to write children’s books, and also takes a look at her newest release, Voyage of the Crimson Sail.


Book cover for Voyage of the Crimson Sail by Victori Zigler shows image of pirate above a sailing ship with red sailsWhy do I write for children?

Well, it turns out the answer to that question isn’t very exciting.  But here it is anyway.

First of all, I know it’s been said many times by many authors, but I’ve been writing ever since I knew how.  I learned to read and write somewhat before I even started school – bearing in mind, children start school at around four years old in the UK –partially  due to having older siblings, but mostly because my main regular babysitter was in her teens, and would often do her homework while watching me, and I wanted to, “Do homework,” too.

Yeah… I stayed that eager to do schoolwork.  Don’t hate me for it.  I’d say sorry, but I’m not.

So, anyway, once I started school, and was introduced to the idea of writing my own stories and poems, there was no stopping me.  I fell in love with the idea, and loved doing it.  Though I dare say my early attempts were terrible.  Although, having said that, I won third place in a writing contest my teacher submitted one of my stories to when I was seven, so I was showing promise with writing by then at least.  I still have the medal I was awarded that day, in case you’re interested.

Of course, it’s only natural that, as a child myself, the characters in my early stories would be children too.  At least, those that weren’t animals. Oh, and there was that one story involving little green aliens and the cereal Ready Brek, but that was written for school, so I’m not sure that counts.  Although, I do wish I had a copy of that so I could rewrite and improve on it, as I did the story that eventually became my book ”Isabelle’s Runaway Racehorse” (which was originally a story called “Running Away” I’d written at the age of 10, before going through a lot of revisions).

Hmmm… Maybe I’ll have to just write a new version of the Ready Brek story.  I know the gist of what it was about, and it could be fun…

Erm… Sorry, got sidetracked there.

Anyway, most people know I’m completely blind. But what they don’t know is I have other health issues too.  I won’t bore you with the details, but the thing you need to know is that, with one thing and another, I spent a lot of time in the hospital growing up, especially during the first six years or so of my life.  Escaping in to make believe stories, whether by being read to, reading something myself, writing, or playing imaginary games with my toy animals, helped me deal with all those hospital trips.

Just for a while, I could pretend I was somewhere else, with no doctors sticking needles in me, or shining painful bright lights in my eyes to get a better look at them. Just for a while, I could be anywhere and anything.  I loved that then, and still do now. What greater joy can there be than going anywhere and being anything, either through my own imagination or through the imaginations of other authors?

Young girl sitting on a log at night with moon in background, open book on her lap, young boy in background reading by lantern light; whimsical and magical image

As I grew older, I spent less time in the hospital, and started to spend some time in the real world.  But I still spend most of my time in stories, because I know no greater joy than escaping in to stories, either through reading or writing. Well, apart from spending time with my furkids, who are my world.  Oh, and my hubby too, but he knows the “kids” come before him, and loves when I escape in to stories, because then I’m not nagging at him to do anything, so he can play computer games in peace.

Wanting my characters to grow with me, in my late teens and early adulthood, I attempted to write for older audiences.  But something was always lacking. I could write poetry for older audiences – though even that I tend to lean more towards writing for children with more often than not – but struggled with writing from the point of view of older characters for some reason. Still, I persisted, never managing to complete anything, because I’d either lose interest in the project, or be unsure how to handle writing part of it, set it aside, and forget about it.  An issue I don’t have with my children’s stories, which I’d continued to write from time to time, along with poetry, in between attempts at writing “grown up” stories.

Gradually, as time went on, and more and more people suggested I stick to writing children’s stories, rather than attempting to write stories for older readers, since I seem to have a knack for writing for children – and am apparently good at putting myself in the heads of animal characters too, according to comments I’ve gotten – I abandoned attempts to write anything but poetry and children’s stories. After all, they were what I enjoyed writing most, and people enjoyed reading them. It just made sense.

That also provided the answer to me writing something I wanted to write about adjusting to sight loss.

I’d been trying to write something to help both me and others with adjusting to sight loss for a while by this point.  But I’d been trying to write it from an adult’s point of view, and just couldn’t, despite being an adult myself by the time I lost the last of my sight. When someone who knew about my writing of children’s stories suggested I take that approach instead, I instantly knew how to write it, and my five book “Toby’s Tales” series was born.

The moment I started looking at it as a children’s story idea, I had my character, a rough plan for the whole series, and some key details I would include in the books laid out in my head.  Considering I’m a pantser, the fact that light bulb moment came with so much detail told me it was meant to be.

On top of that, I got it in to my head that stopping blogging would give me a better chance at making a go of it as an author. Huge mistake, since it cost me a lot of the followers I’d gathered during my early blogging days, even though it was the same blog I returned to when I went back to blogging after realizing my mistake, and I didn’t stay away from blogging all that long.  Seriously though, take my advice: have a bit of a break if you must, but don’t announce you’re stepping away completely.  It’s a bad move. Just saying.

But at least one good thing did come out of my mistake: Kero’s books.

You see, I had a feature on my blog where I’d post from the point of view of one of my pets, most often the West Highland White Terrier I had at the time, whose name was Keroberous – Kero for short.  I did a couple of random posts from Kero’s point of view at first, and when they proved popular, made it in to a regular feature. When I stopped blogging, I missed writing those posts. That’s how I came to write and publish my seven book “Kero’s World” series, which was originally meant to be a six book series, until I wrote “Kero Crosses The Rainbow Bridge” after losing Kero in 2014.

True, it’s possible I’d have written those books anyhow, eventually, but missing writing Kero’s posts certainly helped push those to the top of my writing priorities list.

They’re children’s stories, and got great feedback.  Plus, I loved writing them; even if I spent the whole time I was writing and publishing the final book in tears.

Two stripped kittens huddled together, one sitting up, the other crouched beside it, both looking toward camera, cute and cuddlyI’ve since reinstated “Furkid Friday” posts on my blog, and even introduced a “Friends Of Furkid Friday” feature, where one of my pets will interview the pets of fellow writers and bloggers (details can be found on the page for it on my blog, if you’d like to get in touch for an interview, by the way) and those pet posts remain the most popular on my blog, judging by the number of views the stats section on my blog says they get compared to my other blog posts.

In other words, it appears I have a knack for writing children’s stories, as well as anything from the point of view of animals. Since I also happen to love doing so, and apparently my muse is more helpful when I try to, it only makes sense for me to keep doing it. After all, the fact my pirate themed adventure story turned in to a middle grade pirate adventure story called “Voyage Of The Crimson Sail” told mostly from the view points of a pair of rats, makes it pretty clear my muse is determined to keep me writing children’s stories, especially ones featuring animals, regardless of genre. Luckily, that’s fine by me.

So, that’s why I’m a children’s author.

Sorry this wasn’t more exciting.  But thanks to Mae for inviting me to write it anyhow, and thanks to anyone who stuck with me and read to the end.  If you did, you’re awesome!

~ooOOoo~

About the author:
Victoria Zigler is a blind vegan poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future. She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Find Tori at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | YouTube

Find Tori’s books on:
Smashwords | Amazon
…Along with a variety of other online retailers

~ooOO0oo~

Voyage Of The Crimson Sail
Blurb:
After weeks at sea with nothing to show for it, the crew of the Crimson Sail is growing restless, and ready to mutiny. Only the promise of a treasure worth more than gold keep the pirates from making their own captain walk the plank, along with his beloved rats, Star and Skye.

But when a violent storm comes out of nowhere, delaying their journey to the island where the promised treasure can be found, and the treasure isn’t what any of them expected, will Star and Skye’s plan be enough to stop the pirates from leaving Captain Charlie marooned on the island? Or will their attempts to save him send them – along with the rest of the crew – to Davey Jones’ locker?

Purchase links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada  | Audible | SmashwordsiBooksiTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Thanks for welcoming Tori today, and please make use of the sharing buttons below. I started writing at a very young age as well and have fond memories of the children’s books I got to read in those formative years. A lot of that whimsy I have yet to outgrow. It’s wonderful to think of Tori contributing to that magic for a generation of young readers, don’t you agree?

New Release: The Light by Marcia Meara #WakeRobinRidge

Banner ad for The Light, Wake Robin Ridge book 4 by Marcia Meara

I’m thoroughly jazzed (chuffed if you’re on the other side of the pond) to have my good friend, Marcia Meara, here today with her new release The Light. She’s sharing a super cool post about wake-robins which figure into the series title, Wake Robin Ridge.

Confession time: this yankee thought wake robins were birds. Duh! Fortunately, Marcia is here today to set me straight and educate me about The Wake-Robins of Wake-Robin Ridge.


Thank you so much for letting me visit with you and your followers today, Mae. I’m pretty excited about the release of my latest novel, The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4, and hope folks will be curious to learn more about this book and the preceding three:

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit
Harbinger

Happy New Year to You All!

Many readers have asked me how I came up with the name of my first novel, and the answer is very simple. In fact, it’s staring at everyone the minute they pick up any of the four books in the series. I did mention it at the very start of the first book, but many people either miss it, or have forgotten it by the last page of the story. It all comes back to my beloved North Carolina mountains and the trillium erectus, or wake-robin.

Anyone who has ever walked through the woods in the Appalachian Mountains knows that bluebells, bird’s foot violets, and trillium carpet the forest floor in early spring. Beneath the evergreens, dogwoods, and redbuds, these low-growing wildflowers spread in every direction and are a delight to behold.

As you might imagine, bluebells are blue, and bird’s foot violets are violet. Trillium, on the other hand, are usually white. Except when they aren’t.

Scattered here and there among those snowy white trillium are a few that are a deep, wine red. Those would be the ones commonly called wake-robins. The splashes of red amidst the usual sea of white draw the eye immediately, and I’m certain I’m not the only one to find them beautiful. In fact, I love them so much, before I’d written one word of my first book, I knew I wanted to name my fictional mountain ridge after them. I loved the idea of Mac’s secluded home on top of a sparsely-populated mountain being surrounded by wildflowers every spring, with the wake-robins popping up just often enough to warrant being the namesake for the entire ridge—and my newly conceived series, too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next time you have an opportunity to walk through the wooded areas of the northeastern part of the country, keep an eye open for bluebells and violets on the forest floor, and search every patch of snow-white trillium for the splashes of dark red that mark the wake-robins.  I hope you’ll enjoy spotting them as much as I do.

BLURB FOR THE LIGHT:

Book cover for The Light by Marcia Meara shows young boy standing on a rock with hand extended toward a floating orb of lightThe Magic is Back!

For Robert MacKenzie Cole—or Rabbit, as he’s known to all—the chance to accompany his family to see North Carolina’s infamous Brown Mountain Lights has him nearly dizzy with excitement. And what better night to watch this unexplained phenomenon unfold than Halloween?

But when the entrancing, unpredictable lights show up, Rabbit gets far more than he bargained for. He’s gifted with what folks in the Appalachians call “the Sight,” and it’s this extrasensory perception that enables him to spot the one light different from all the rest.

In his biggest challenge to date, Rabbit—aided by his daddy and his newest friend, Austin Dupree— begins a quest to learn more about the mysterious light. Their investigation unveils a web of cons and corruption none of them expected and exposes a brutal murder along the way.

Throughout all, Rabbit is unfaltering in his commitment to do whatever it takes to understand the truth behind the glowing orb and to determine how he can help it. After all, it followed him home.


Intrigued? I can vouch for all of the books in this series. I rated each one 5-stars, with The Light earring a five star glittery review. If you missed it, you can find it on my Tuesday Book Reviews.

PURCHASE HERE

About the Author:
Author, Marcia MearaMarcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and one small dachshund.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

Marcia has published seven novels, two novellas, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon:

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3
The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4
Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel
Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2
That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3
The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella
The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody
Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love

Find Marcia at the following haunts:
Marcia’s Amazon Author Page
You can reach Marcia via email at marciameara16@gmail.com or on the following social media sites:
The Write Stuff | Facebook | Pinterest
Twitter: @marciameara

Are you hooked? You should be. Rabbit is one of the most unique characters I’ve encountered in fiction. Don’t forget to grab your copy of The Light HERE, then drop Marcia  a line in the comments below.


And, on another note, I am visiting with friend and Story Empire colleague Harmony Kent today, sharing a new excerpt from my current release. Eventide. If you’ve got a spare moment, I’d love for you to pop over and say hello! 🙂


 

Presenting: Oh, Baubles by @harmony_kent #NewRelease #ChristmasNovella #ChristmasRomance #CleanRomance

Are you in the holiday spirit? I’ll be the first to admit I turn into a sentimental sap for the entire month of December. I’m kind of a sentimental sap the whole year, but I’m extra sappy during the Christmas holidays. Among other things, I love reading Christmas stories (and watching holiday movies). Which is why I’m excited to be part of Harmony Kent’s blog tour for her new release, Oh, Baubles. I’ll let her tell you about the book, but be sure to check out my review at the end of this post!

Book cover for Oh, Baubles, a Christmas romance novella by Harmony Kent shows Christmas bulbs with silhouette of embracing couple in a large bulb topped by a red bow

Hi everyone, Harmony here. I’m so thrilled to be visiting with Mae today to tell you about my latest book, a Christmas Romance Novella. It’s a fun, quick read at around 80 pages, and I had fun crafting this one. Below is a ‘sneek peek’ from Chapter 3 of ‘Oh Baubles.’


The line rang once, twice, three times, and more. On and on. Eventually, after sixteen full rings, it went to voicemail. Flustered, John hung up and cursed himself. How stupid could he be? If she reported him, he wouldn’t just lose his job but his whole career. Was some woman worth that? No. But then Charlie wasn’t just some woman, was she? No, she was a whole lot more than that. And John felt as though he would never feel happy again unless he at least took this chance and told her how he felt. So, with another heave in of air, he redialled—ready for the voicemail this time.

‘You’ve reached … Charlene Matthers … She cannot take your call right now. Please, leave a message after the tone.’

John waited for the tone, and sweat pooled in his arm pits and palms, and a cold droplet oozed down his spine. Then he caught an unpleasant whiff of man-pits. He’d have to do something about that as soon as he’d hung up. At last, the beep sounded.

‘Hey, Miss Matt—Charlene … Charlie, erm, this is John. John Andrews? Erm, oh god, I … er …’ He cleared his throat, determined to see this through before the damn machine cut him off. ‘Charlie, this is John. I’m sorry I haven’t called. Idiot that I am, I completely forgot to give you my number. The thing is … I want to see you again. Um, not in clinic. Oh, hell. I like you.’ He took a breath and wiped sweat from his brow. His words were all wrong.

‘Charlie, I don’t know what else to do, so I’m just gonna blurt it out … I love you. There, I’ve said it now. If you never want to hear from me again, or see me, I get it. Just don’t, please, report me. Lol. Ahem … I’m sorry I left things so long. I was a stupid damn coward. But I love you and want to get to know you better. The real you, not the hospital you.’ Flustered beyond belief now, and out of breath, John hung up, disappointed with himself. He’d messed that up badly. And only after he’d disconnected did he remember that he could have pressed the hash key and done a re-record. Too late now.


Book Description:
After a tragic accident one Christmas, Charlene loses her husband and her leg.

Scarred and damaged, the losses leave her lost and reeling, and a long recovery lies ahead of her.

When John, a hot young physiotherapist, comes into her life with his ripped abs and good-god good-looks, she can’t imagine he’d give somebody like her a second glance.

Then she falls for him.

Can Charlene overcome all obstacles to gain back her life and find true love once more?

Find out in this fun-filled, clean Christmas romance novella from award-winning author Harmony Kent.

Oh Baubles is available on Amazon for just 99c/99p And the link is: http://mybook.to/OhBaubles


This is a short, enchanting story sure to warm the heart. Charlene, a young widow, requires physical therapy due to a tragic accident in her past. She feels an immediate connection with John, her PT, but can’t believe he’d spare a second glance for her. Although this is a romantic story, I really enjoyed seeing the progression in Charlene’s character from beginning to end. The author delivered that change—and the build up of romance—in a believable manner. Watching Charlene transform as the book progresses is like watching a beautiful buttery emerge from a cocoon. With its holiday setting, Oh, Baubles makes a charming novella for the holidays, but it will leave you with a warm feeling any time of year. Lovely! MY REVIEW:
This is a short, enchanting story sure to warm the heart. Charlene, a young widow, requires physical therapy due to a tragic accident in her past. She feels an immediate connection with John, her PT, but can’t believe he’d spare a second glance for her.

Although this is a romantic story, I really enjoyed seeing the progression in Charlene’s character from beginning to end. The author delivered that change—and the build up of romance—in a believable manner. Watching Charlene transform as the book progresses is like watching a beautiful butterfly emerge from a cocoon. With its holiday setting, Oh, Baubles makes a charming novella for the holidays, but it will leave you with a warm feeling any time of year. 5 Lovely stars!


About the Author:
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours. Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

To Learn More About Harmony Check Out:
WebsiteStory Empire (co-authored) | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads | BookBub | bio box for author, Harmony Kent

Book Review: Black Crow Speaks @FrederickAnder2 #shortstories

In my post yesterday, I mentioned having read a third book last week but not having the time to write a proper review. Black Crow Speaks is a book I have been patiently waiting —okay, not so patiently—to release. The author shies away from promotion so I wanted to make certain I gave it the attention it deserves. I know I will be reading many of the stories in this collection over again.

First some background . . .

I started following Frederick Anderson’s blog a few years ago and was immediately enthralled by his gift of storytelling. I’ve been hoping (I even did some pestering) that he would cobble a collection of short stories together for a book. When I realized he had released Black Crow Speaks, I was ecstatic. This intelligent, literary, diverse, often bizarre, but always riveting collection of tales is not to be missed!

Let me explain the crow of the title­—Black Crow shows up at various times throughout the book to discuss everything from neighbors (blackbirds), immigrants (seagulls), family matters, homelife, kids, the wife, temptation, getting old, and social matters. Given Fred is British, I can get away with the expression “bloody brilliant.” Crow has a unique take on life.

book cover for Black Crow Speaks by Frederick Anderson shows a large black crow with book title beneathHere’s a sample from Corvid Values, my favorite crow story. Crow speaks first, followed by Fred.

He fidgets uneasily, preening a troublesome mite from his breast feathers. “S’pose. Yes and no. There’s the immigrants, see?”

He hasn’t lost his capacity to surprise: “Immigrants?”

“Yeah. You must have noticed – fousands of ‘em. Same every winter, innit? They comes flockin’ in just because they reckon there’s free food and everyfin’. They takes all the best bits and we don’t get a look in. Bleedin’ gulls!”

“Oh, the seagulls! The bad weather drives them in from the coast. The westerlys don’t trouble them so much, then? They can fly into the wind, can they?”

“Well, they work harder, don’t they? They work all the bleedin’ time, them!” He fluffs furious feathers. “They don’t even go to roost, most nights. And…and!” He squawks his emphasis; “They eat almost anyfin’. Jus’ anyfin’!”

“Surely there’s enough for all? I haven’t noticed you losing weight over the winter before.”

“Ah. Ah! But I don’t demean meself, me! You won’t catch me turnin’ over house rubbish like a – like a bleedin’ fox, for fox sake!”

“Oh, really? I seem to recall…”

“Never mind what you ‘seems to recall.’ Never mate, never! I’ve got my pride”

I treat him to one of my penetrating inquisitorial looks. “They’ve been raiding the bins at the back of the Pizzeria, haven’t they? That’s one of your favorite haunts, isn’t it?”

The crow hunches his wings and dips his head. I cannot remember seeing him so annoyed. “That place is a place for crows, gettit? Crows! Respec’able birds, mate. I got a right to that place!”


First, let me point out that no one—no one—does accents like Frederick. The ones he spins in this book are spot on. Second, the message of this story hits with a thunderclap at the end. The first time I read it, it stayed with me for days.

But the crow only makes up a few stories in this collection. As the preface says you will meet “a crow with wisdom we call could learn from, an airline pilot who qualified by correspondence course, an enthusiastic accordion player with a portal to the universe under his dining table, tales of fairies and goblins and ghosts within the machine.”

There are plenty of humans too—some who face heartbreak, others who find their lives altered in unexpected ways. Twists and surprise endings abound. Scene setting is off the charts with descriptions that are sometimes lyrical, other times gritty and raw. Every story brings something unique, but I must make special mention of Birdie, A Visitation from Mary, Goblins, Gloves, Reincarnate, Siobhan, and The Newquay Train. Wow. Just…WOW!

If you like smart, witty, and riveting fiction, don’t pass this collection by. I can’t recommend it highly enough. The great thing about short stories is you can read a few at a time or many at once. However, you read them, do read them. 5 Walloping, glittery, gargantuan stars!

PURCHASE FROM:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

You can find Frederick’s blog HERE if you’d like to give a looksee as to what else he gets up to. I’m presently enjoying a novel he has been serializing, but he’s hinted there is short fiction around the bend and Crow will return. You have no idea how happy that makes me!

Thanks for checking out this special review today. Given I’ve been badgering Frederick to publish this book, I am more than happy to help promote such a fabulous collection.

D.L. Cross Talks Aliens and Alternate Identities

Can you believe we are already over two weeks into August? Summer is speeding by on a rocket ship.

Speaking of rocket ships—and by default space travel—it isn’t a stretch to make the jump to aliens. Today, my guest, Straci Troilo, is serving up two crazy good books, written under her pen name, D. L. Cross. How do I know they’re crazy good? Because I’ve read them both and gave them resounding 5-star reviews!

Staci is a good friend, a talented author, an editor, and a colleague at Story Empire. If, by some impossible hiccup in the universe, you’re not already following her blog, I encourage you to visit her corner of the blogosphere and hop along for the ride.

And now, that I’ve jabbered enough, here’s Staci to tell you about her latest CRAZY GOOD books! 😀


Hi, Mae. As always, I appreciate the warm welcome. And everyone else, hello! Thanks for giving me a few minutes of your time to talk about the Invasion Universe.

If you know me and my early body of work, you know me as Staci Troilo, author of suspense fiction mashed up with romance, paranormal, legal, medical, and/or family drama. I can’t help adding anxiety-ridden situations to the works I write, regardless of the genre.

Which brings me to my latest endeavors. I’m now writing sci-fi.

Splash graphic foe The Gate, a science-fiction novel by D. L. Cross

When I made the jump to science fiction, my publishers insisted on a pen name. (They’re much more conscious of the “also-boughts” on Amazon than I am.) I used to resist writing with different pen names for different genres because I write in so many of them and didn’t want to manage several identities. Turns out, it’s not that difficult. And (if their theories are correct), it’s probably beneficial. At least on some level.

But what I found surprising is my work didn’t change. I’m still writing suspense. Only now, instead of megalomaniacs or serial killers stalking my heroes, aliens are. Actually, that’s not entirely true, either. Sometimes the villains are aliens. Other times, they’re still humans with nefarious agendas.

I have to tell you, I don’t read much sci-fi. But I love it on screen (small or big). Especially space-oriented shows and films. TV series like Lost in Space, Star Trek (original and TNG), Stargate (SG-1 and Atlantis), Roswell… I get lost in them every time they’re on. And movies? I’m hooked. All the Star Wars episodes (even the bad ones), Star Trek (yep, it’s on both lists), Stargate (yes, it made both lists, too), Independence Day, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Avatar, even Mars Attacks (there’s nothing wrong with humor—even ridiculous humor). The lists are endless. I watch as many as I can. And I love most of them.

Splash graphic for The Scout: Dark Crossings, a science-fiction novella by D. L. Cross

The cinematography is usually engaging; the world-building enthralling. But what really draws me in is the characters. Regular people fighting larger-than-life enemies against impossible odds. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?

Who wouldn’t want to read it?

That’s why I made the switch to science fiction—because the genre is wonderous. I was still able to tell my kind of stories with my kind of characters. But now, I get to do it in an alien-rich world.

If you read my Astral Conspiracy series, you’ll find aliens—beings with all kinds of advanced tech and inhuman abilities. You’ll also find a lot of history. I have to admit, Ancient Aliens is a guilty pleasure of mine. Not because I believe their theories, but because of all the amazing places the show’s hosts go and the lore they uncover. I know, it’s weird to think of ancient history melding with futuristic science, but I did it. And early reviews suggest the combination is working.

I hope it is. And I hope you agree. If you give it a try, please leave a review and let me know what you think.

If you like the Twilight Zone, you might enjoy The Scout, my Astral Conspiracy prequel story.

And if you like ancient astronaut theories, you may like The Gate, the first novel of my quintet.

Book cover for The Gate, a science-fiction novel by D. L. CrossBlurb:

He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

Universal Purchase Link | More Information | Invasion Universe Newsletter

Book cover for The Scout, a science-fiction novel by D. L. CrossBlurb:

The aliens have landed. The humans are panicking. The scouts have been sent.

J’s mission is clear — find an alien outpost, observe, report back. Simple enough. It’s what he’s trained to do. But he’s always worked with his team, never as a party of one. Now he’s been sent out alone to blindly navigate a dense, dark forest until he finds his target. The dynamics are foreign to him, the stakes never higher. He’s completely isolated. Resources are scarce. Comms are down.

And he’s found the enemy.

It’s imperative he’s not caught, but clandestine spying doesn’t yield enough intel. J needs an ally, someone on the inside of the camp who can feed him information. And he finds one. But he gets more than he bargained for with Aria.

Their relationship grows complicated. Her people get defensive. His superior becomes suspicious. He doesn’t know who to trust. His loyalty’s divided, and pressure’s mounting from all sides.

J is shocked when everyone’s true allegiances are revealed. And the consequences of betrayal will be deadly.

Universal Purchase Link | More Information

Bio:
D.L. Cross has loved science fiction ever since she was a young girl and fell for Major Don West on television’s Lost in Space. To this day, she still quotes the show, though her favorite lines were spoken by the robot and the antagonist. Parallel universes or alternate realities, aliens or dinosaurs, superpowers or super viruses, time travel or AI… no sci-fi theme is off limits and all of them fascinate her. D.L. Cross also writes other genre fiction under the name Staci Troilo, and you can find more information about all her identities and all her work at her website: https://stacitroilo.com.

Other Links:

Staci’s Amazon Page | Staci’s BookBub Page | D.L.’s Amazon Page | D.L.’s BookBub Page


I loved so many of the television shows Staci mentioned in her post, plus many others. I remember reading my first science-fiction novel in the fourth grade and being immediately smitten. As someone who’s loved science-fiction from a young age, it’s been a pleasure to discover a new universe populated by remarkable characters and riveting story lines. As I said in my review of The Scout, “You can’t go wrong with anything from the pen of D.L. Cross!” Still not sure?

Check out my review of The Gate, too, then go forth and one-click these wonderful titles! 🙂

Fallout by @harmony_kent #postapocalyptic #dystopian #preorder

Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome Harmony Kent. Aside from being a skilled and diverse writer, Harmony is also an editor and one of my co-authors at Story Empire. If you’re not already following her blog, I encourage you to check out her spot in the blogosphere and hop aboard. Today, she’s dropped by to share news of her upcoming release, FALLOUT, which I was lucky enough to catch as an ARC. Please say hello and make Harmony feel welcome—and don’t miss my review at the end of this post. I guarantee, you’ll want to click the pre-order button for FALLOUT. I was mesmerized!

Book cover for Fallout by Harmony KentHi, everyone. Harmony here. Many thanks to Mae for hosting me today. I have a new book on pre-order called FALLOUT, which is a post-apocalyptic dystopia. This novel started out life by playing a little game. I sat and closed my eyes and imagined an empty room … in that room, a vial appeared. A dull orange plastic thing covered in scratches. It sloshed when I shook it. From that tiny beginning, the world of Exxon 1 and its deadly virus was born.

Why isn’t the army dealing with the deadly raptors now threatening the cities?

Why is no one handing out a cure?

Does president Terror want them all dead?


BLURB:

WHEN EVERYTHING FALLS APART, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

The year is 3040.

The location is Exxon 1, part of a six-planet system in settled space.

Determined to avoid the mistakes of old Earth, the surviving humans avoided democracy and opted, instead, for a non-elective totalitarian system.

The new way worked well, until now.

A crazy, despotic president releases a nano-virus on the population.

No one was ready for the fallout. It came anyway.

In this post-apocalyptic world, can you stay safe? 

Banner ad for Fallout, a novel by Harmony Kent shows gleaming gold eyes on black background

EXCERPT:

‘Run,’ he yelled to Priya.

Mercifully, she set off at a sprint without offering any argument. Kaleb took a ready stance, feet and legs braced, and planted the stock at his shoulder. The raptor burst onto the neomac surface, an evil red-green in the moons’ glow.

Its oval eyes, a vivid yellow in daylight, looked muddy and brown but no less malevolent. More ominously still, it stopped growling. In complete silence, it stood and watched Kaleb. Studied him. The beast exuded a terrible intelligence.

Around the stock of his weapon, his hands sweated but didn’t tremble. The army had trained him for this. And for things much worse. Kaleb closed one eye and lined up the raptor in his sights, aiming for the centre of its skull. The magnifier grew its eyes to the size of saucers. Though his heart thumped, his mind quieted, giving him the space he needed.

Then, without warning, the raptor glanced left and leapt in that direction.


Author, Harmony KentAuthor Bio
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors. 

Connect with Harmony at the following haunts:
Website | Story Empire (co-authored) |  | Twitter  | LinkedIn 
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads Author Page


FALLOUT sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Post-apocalyptic, creatures, a president named “Terror?” I was intrigued from the get-go and this novel did not disappoint. I’m happy to share my review:

Fallout by Harmony Kent is a dark, gritty, twisted apocalyptic story guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Exxon 1 has been devastated by a virus, the planet an inhospitable environment where no one can be trusted, especially the planet’s president who is responsible for the outbreak. While people succumb to the virus and others struggle to resist, a vial containing a potential cure becomes the focus of ruthless individuals.

Pryia, a young woman who finds out just how savage her devastated planet can be, becomes entangled in getting the vial into the right hands. But who can be trusted? In the world Kent has created, her multi-layered characters are far from black and white. No one is who they seem, each driven by dark histories and darker goals, each a study in duplicity. There are crosses and double crosses, noble characters who sink to corruption and corrupt characters who discover a sliver of conscience when the clock is ticking to zero hour.

The world building is exceptional, the plot complex but fast paced. This isn’t simply a book about rebuilding a decimated planet, but a story that takes a raw look at human nature. Finally, I loved the full circle arc of the opening scenes gelling so perfectly with the close. A wholly satisfying and riveting read. Highly recommended!

Clink the link below to pre-order your copy now. You’re in for a treat!

FALLOUT Pre-order Link

The Detective, An Excerpt from Unclear Purposes by Joan Hall #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Exciting times! I’m  thrilled to have my friend, Joan Hall, as my guest today. She’s brought along a fabulous excerpt from her new release, Unclear Purposes. I’m particularly fond of this excerpt because of the featured character. Joan handled him extremely well throughout the book, setting a stage for growth that I found fascinating—just one of the excellent elements in her superb novel. You can find my five start review of Unclear Purposes on Book Bub. And now here’s Joan with her latest release . . .

Mae, it’s an honor to be on your site today and to share about my latest release, Unclear Purposes¸the third and final in the Driscoll Lake Series.

To give your readers a bit of background, there’s a killer on the loose. Driscoll Lake’s new detective, Jason Montgomery, is tasked with solving the crime. But Jason is young, inexperienced, and a bit arrogant. He hasn’t gotten off to a good start with the police chief, Matt Bradford. Let’s get to know Jason a little better and hear his thoughts about the crime.

Book cover for Unclear Purposes by Joan Hall on banner ad /graphic with text from the novel

Jason Montgomery rubbed his forehead as he looked through the file on his desk. Three weeks had passed since the murder of Jenny Allen, and he still wasn’t close to finding her killer. Chief Bradford wanted to meet with him this afternoon to discuss the case, and he wasn’t looking forward to it. If he had even one new piece of evidence, he might feel differently.

Jenny Allen was an enigma. Nothing about her past gave him any clues as to who murdered her. He’d spoken to people who knew Jenny in Taos, Santa Fe, and San Antonio. No one had been able to provide anything that would point him to her killer.

Everyone he’d spoken with said Jenny was quiet and kept to herself. Wasn’t one to make enemies. Jason was beginning to believe the killing had been a random act. Same as the murder in Brewster. He’d kept in close contact with detective Somers.

So far, Brewster police hadn’t come up with a suspect. That was a good thing. If these murders were the work of a serial killer, which was yet to be determined, Jason wanted to be the one to solve the crime. What better way to get in Matt’s good graces and secure his position on the force? And that was only the stepping stone to bigger and better things.

As he looked at the file, another issue came to mind. How was Jenny’s killer able to escape unnoticed? No one who had been jogging that evening reported seeing anything suspicious. Vince Green and Christine Lawrence approached the crime scene from opposite directions. Neither of them saw anyone along the path.

The coroner estimated the victim had only been dead a short time before they found the body. There were no footsteps in the soft earth alongside the path, which meant the murderer had either walked or run at least a short distance along the paved trail.

Christine or Vince might have seen something or someone and had blotted it from their memory. Jason knew of instances where it had happened. The shock of witnessing a brutal crime or being the first on the scene was overwhelming for some people.

If that were the case, he’d be willing to bet Christine was the one who had forgotten. Vince Green was a former law enforcement officer. Trained to be observant. He would notice things most people would overlook.

It was time to have another talk with Ms. Lawrence.

Book cover for Unclear uses shows setting sun reflecting off lake, dark tree line in background, ghost outline of woman's head and shoulders in foreground

Blurb:

Some people take secrets to the grave…

Three years after her husband’s murder, Christine Lawrence still struggles for balance. She has a rewarding career and a close circle of friends but feels oddly unfulfilled. Worse, the close relationship she once had with her teenage daughter has grown increasingly strained.

Former FBI agent, Vince Green, is battling demons of his own—painful secrets that drove him from Driscoll Lake. Newly resettled in the small town, he makes his living as a private investigator.

When Vince and Christine cross paths, stumbling over the body of a murder victim, he’s forced to confront memories he thought long buried. The circumstances surrounding the killing are eerily similar to a victim from his past.

As the body count continues to rise, Christine finds herself drawn to Vince. With a murderer stalking the streets of Driscoll Lake, neither is aware the killer has targeted her as the next victim—or that Vince’s past is key to unmasking a disturbed and deadly killer.

Universal Purchase Link

Bio box for author Joan Hall

Website and Social Media Links:

Website   |  Goodreads  | Twitter   |  Facebook   |   Pinterest   | Instagram   |   BookBub

 

Welcome Guest Blogger, Kevin Cooper

I’m happy to welcome Kevin Cooper to my blog today. Kev is an old friend who took a hiatus from blogging, but is back and going strong. He’s an avid reader, book reviewer, writer, and musician (not necessarily in that order, LOL). I’ll let Kev explain what’s been going on below. Please make him feel welcome with some comment luv and be sure to check out his website and blog!


Back to the Blogosphere

Hi Gals & guys! Well, it’s been over a year since I last blogged… A year and three months to be exact. and have just recently come back. I started my new site on March 5ththis year. Those of you who are familiar with me will know I had several blogs at one time. One for home life, one for music, and a couple or more for books and stuff. I got blogged out, to be honest, and life, as it generally does, got in the way. I ended up deleting all my blogs, social media, and even a couple of email accounts. Anyway, I’m not going to go into all that, but suffice it to say, I’m back now and am here to stay. This is why I decided to invest in my own domain: https://authorkevincooper.com/and this is the only website I have now. There will be no other.

So, what is my new website all about?

I’m glad you asked! First and foremost, for obvious reasons, it is to promote my own books, although it may not seem to be the case as I review every book I read and post my reviews here as well and these posts far outnumber any I have about my own books.

I have also decided to bring author interviews back. I had huge success with my author interviews in the past and hope that my new tailored interviews demand the same success. However, I will not be interviewing authors I am not familiar with, but those whom I have written a book review for. This way I can tailor each interview around the book I have reviewed and the author’s next work in progress.

As for my own work. I am not an avid writer but do have a project in process. It is a collection of short stories I am currently writing called, Dreamscapes.The subject of each story is written around the backdrop of dreams, daydreams, and related fantasies. Some are very sinister, even frightening, others relate very closely to real life subjects. My favourite so far is called The Girl Who Waves. It is about a young boy who is losing his battle with cancer and keeps dreaming about a young girl who keeps waving to him from an island and beckoning him to join her. Meanwhile, his mother is struggling to come to terms with his terminal condition while trying to stay strong for him. I will reveal more about this work on my website when it is nearer completion. I am very much looking forward to having Dreamscapes finished and ready for publishing later in the year.

In addition to my new website, I have created new social media accounts but have limited them to just the following three:

Twitter I Facebook | Tumblr

Links are also available on my website. You can read all about my published works on my website here: My Books

Thanks for having me on your website, Mae. Your endearing support is greatly appreciated.


It’s always a pleasure to have you visit my blog, Kev. I’m thrilled you’re active once again in the blogosphere. As someone who has read most of your work, appreciates your reviews and musical skills, I’m happy to provide an introduction so others may get to know you as well. Gang, I’ve included a gallery of Kevin’s book covers below. You can find the details of each on Kev’s website. Oh—and did I mention he likes cats? 🙂

Cover Reveal: Whatever it Takes by S. Burke #Pre-Order #PsychologicalThriller #Suspense

I’m delighted to be able to take part in the cover reveal blog splash for Whatever it Takes by my good friend Suzanne Burke. I was a beta reader on this book and am thrilled others will soon be able to enjoy it. Once you read this post, I recommend hopping over to Amazon for a one-click pre-order.

But first, here’s Suzanne to tell you about the latest dark and twisty psychological suspense novel she’s crafted…
Whatever It Takes cover reveal banner with curtain

Whatever It Takes

by S.Burke

Available to Pre-Order NOW. At the special Pre-order price of $0.99c
Release Date: May 8th, 2019
>Psychological > Thriller & Suspense >.

It is such an exciting time for an author when releasing a new book! I would be remiss in not sharing my heartfelt thanks to the marvelous people who gave of their time so readily to beta read my latest book. Their valuable insights helped me enormously when crafting “Whatever It Takes” A big thank you to my wonderful editor and friend Rich Bowden @Bowden_Writing

At long last, I’m able to share the cover and blurb for “Whatever It Takes” my latest Psychological Thriller. “Whatever It Takes ” is due for release on May 8th, 2019.

It is NOW available for Pre-Order at the special Pre-Order price of $0:99

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to the marvelously generous hosts participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement. Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khalessi

And now the cover

Whatever it Takes Book Cover for all posts.

BOOK BLURB

James Kincaid had it all.

He’d made it the ‘A’ list in Hollywood, a town that prized and idolized its winners above all else.

Then life began exacting a price that no man could be expected to pay as the people he cared about began dying and dying badly.

He couldn’t move on with the dream without knowing why.

Andi O’Connor is the woman he’s hired to do ‘whatever it takes’ to find him the answers.

Could this disenchanted, street-hardened, ex-homicide cop uncover the truth without adding to the growing list of those already sacrificed on the altar of a serial killer’s insanity?

From New York to Los Angeles the body count continues to rise.

Time is not on their side.

***

Prologue.

James Kincaid had long held to the belief that the red carpet he’d walked so often was stained that color with the blood of all those that had bled on the journey to satisfy their heady and addictive dreams of fame.

He’d shed more than his own fair share to get there. He hated the dream destruction, as much as he understood it. This town drew dreamers from every place on the planet, all in need of completion, all hungry for fame and holding on for dear life to the belief that it was only a matter of time before their artistic genius was recognized. No other drug ever gave them that high pulsing adrenaline rush that you soon became reliant on and addicted to. Those first glimpses of recognition hit harder than heroin. Until even those with a strong moral compass became lost.

Lady Luck had become his constant companion only five years before. After twelve years struggling to make headway in the business he became the latest ‘overnight’ sensation, winning the coveted role in what was tipped strongly to be the next ‘big thing’. He knew he could do justice to the part and that knowledge became abundantly clear as the audition cameras rolled.

James Kincaid found himself launched into the stratosphere. This was the only game in town and he was now a lead player.

He was feted and celebrated, pimped out and postured until the day when everything in his world fell into an oxygen-deprived free fall as people he cared about started dying from anything but natural causes.

**

Pre-Order Whatever It Takes HERE on Amazon

Suzanne Burke Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

Blog

Thank you so much for joining in my excitement. Your support is very much appreciated.

I would be delighted to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Whatever It Takes PRE-ORDER Banner USE THIS ONE FROM Eeva

New Release: Murder in Plane Sight by Julie Holmes #Mystery #Suspense

I am über excited to be taking part in the book launch blog tour for my friend, Julie Holmes. Her debut release, Murder in Plane Sight, a mystery/suspense novel is now available. I have been looking forward to this release for a long time, and am thrilled to know Julie has more mysteries planned. If you’re not already following her blog, Facets of a Muse, you’re missing out on a lot of fun. This isn’t the first time Julie has appeared on my blog, but it IS the first time she’s been here to share a novel she’s written. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome!


Thank you, Mae, for hosting me! I’ve had the opportunity to watch fellow writers release their books. I’ve even hosted their announcements on my own blog, hoping that someday it would be my turn to announce my own book release.

That day is here. It’s both exciting and terrifying. Exciting because I have reached a goal I have been aiming for since elementary school. Terrifying because I can no longer stay home and quietly keep writing, not if I want to gather readers.

I’ve been paying attention to my fellow writers and what they do for their book releases. Some offer a bit of insight into their process, which seems to suggest there is some sort of order to the whole thing.

I suppose there is. First come the characters.

No, wait, first comes the story.

Hmm. It’s different for every writer, and for me it can be different for every book. Sometimes I come up with characters who need a story. Sometimes I get a great story idea, and the characters follow.

So which was it with this book, you ask? That’s a little tricky, because the very first draft wasn’t set at the airport at all. In fact, it was a whole different story, with a main character who was an aircraft mechanic, and a story set in rural Minnesota. What is the point of a character who works at the airport when the story isn’t set there?

I realized I had two separate stories: a character who needed a story, and a story that needed a character. So I pulled my aircraft mechanic out of rural Minnesota and gave her a story. And of course, as is usual in my creative process, her first story wasn’t even set on the airport grounds.

Which I realized after I wrote the first draft and started reading through it. And I heard the voice of my writing teacher, clear as day: Why isn’t she at the airport?

Um. Yeah. Duh!

And eventually the story matured into Murder in Plane Sight.What about the other story, you ask? That’s on my list to work on after I finish Book 2. Yes, there will be another Sierra Bauer mystery. 🙂

Book cover for Murder in Plane Sight by Julie Holmes shows plane on snowy taxi way with woman in foreground, back to camera

BLURB:
Sierra Bauer, aircraft mechanic, struggled against personal tragedy to reclaim control of her life and her aviation career, but when she discovers a frozen body in her inspection plane, she must prove her innocence and uncover the key to exposing a deadly aviation conspiracy before she becomes the next casualty.

Find at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and wherever books are sold.

Short Excerpt:
Headlights glared in the rearview mirror. Sierra Bauer slowed, but not enough. Her car slid around the turn onto the service drive that ran past the Range Airlines maintenance hangar on the western side of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. She steered into the skid, regained control. Cursed the timing of the snow.

The idiot stuck to her backside like duct tape, too damn close even for Minneapolis drivers in these two inches of fresh January snow. Sierra considered hitting the brakes.

A deep rumble, and her tailgater passed her.

A pickup truck.

In the glow of her headlights, she identified the color.

Black.

Her breath caught.

An outline of a pale rectangle peeked from the layer of snow on the rear bumper.

Her heart stuttered. Raced.

It can’t be his truck. How would he know where I am?

bio box for author, Julie Holmes

Find Julie at the following haunts:
Web | Blog | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook