Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Bookish Conversation with Fantasy Author Benjamin Mester

Benjamin Mester is native of San Diego but can often be found wandering the woods of northern Minnesota. He fell in love with language at an early age – the eloquence of poetry or the grandeur of an epic story. Fantasy is his favorite genre, crafting new and magical places of heroism and adventure. When he isn’t writing, he’s often taking long walks through nature or wondering about his place in the wide world.

Benjamin is the author of The Banished Lands series.

You can visit him on Goodreads.

Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started writing fantasies?

Benjamin: I’ve always been a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings. The idea that you can create a completely new kind of world was always really exciting to me.

I am loving the premise of the Banished Lands series. Can you tell us a little about each book in the series?

Benjamin: Book one starts off with a kindom in distress. War against the barbarians in the north is going ill. But no one is watching the uninhabited places of the west. The ancient enemy, long banished is starting to stir. But others have come from the Banished Lands as well to warn the rest of the coming threat. Book two begins with a fractured continent. The leader of the resistance seeks to unite every people under a common banner against the enemy, but many resist. Book three begins full of hope. But the plans of the enemy are devious, threatening to undo all the progress made thus far.

Which of the books took more time to write and why is that so?

Benjamin: The first book took the longest by far. I must have rewritten it a half a dozen times. With a series like this, there’s so much backstory and history to deliver. Doing it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the reader is quite a challenge. So I had to rewrite it again and again until I got it right.

I love cliffhangers. Do you have any cliffhangers in your books?

Benjamin: Definitely but I don’t want to spoil anything. What’s a book without a few cliffhangers?

Can you give us a short excerpt?

Benjamin: Absolutely! Here is an excerpt from the main character the night before he and his friends set off for an adventure that will change their lives forever:

Durian felt a swell of pride. Though life had taken a hard turn, he had met its course in stride. But what would he find in Thob Forest? An intense feeling of mystery filled him. The townsfolk had spoken of much concerning Thob Forest these past months – of beasts and ghosts, and old things long forgotten.
Durian returned to his main room, to his chair in front of the fire, laying the axe down beside him. As he sat, Durian took a moment to drink in the night – the firelight dancing and casting deep shadows on the recesses of his home. And something rarely felt these past years began to rise in his heart: a longing to live his life to the full and find his true purpose – to do heroic deeds and make his life matter.
He opened his book and began flipping slowly through, perusing stories of the lost House of Cavanah, who according to legend disappeared at the end of the Great War, twelve centuries ago. Suriya belonged to one of the two remaining Houses, the House Forthura, which occupied the southern peninsula of the continent. To the north were the scattered tribes of the Horctura, the barbarians. And to the northwest, over a thousand leagues away was the House of Kester.
Durian turned the pages until coming to the story of the last great king of Cavanah, who reigned until the time of the Great War that ended the Prosperous Age. King Euthor was one of the Builders – those who could mold stone as though clay in their hands, and create new forms of stone with stronger properties – even magical ones. He had wrought great works in the latter days of the Prosperous Age, but had tragically lost his wife, Sheyla, just before the last battle that changed their world, over twelve centuries ago. After her death, he disappeared along with the rest of the House of Cavanah, never to be seen again.
Durian recalled the dream he had had this morning and slowly read the poem before him:
Dismissing hours as they pass
Soft upon the windswept grass.
The hopes of men have come to naught.
Nothing fair for eyes or thought.
For Sheyla lies on golden plain,
Of Cavanah, the fairest slain;
Who met her last and final day
When all was brought to disarray.
Of gladful things now nevermore –
Now bitter wind, now salty shore.
The peaceful world bound to unrest
And darkness looming in the west.
The world and all its light shall fade.
I’ll stay with her beneath the shade
And wait until the world’s remade…
Durian closed the book and laid it down for the night. But something suddenly tugged on the strings of memory and he took the book back up again, not quite sure what he was looking for. But the pages came to rest on a picture he had forgotten about until just now – a simple sketch of a cloaked and featureless figure standing atop a windswept hill. Nothing of his face could be seen, like an other-worldly specter. In his hand was an ornately decorated walking stick with an iron cap, and behind him, dark storm clouds were gathering. Below the picture was a single description: Windbearer.

What’s next for you, Benjamin? Will there be a 5th in the series?

Benjamin: There definitely could be but for now, I’m taking a break. As you can imagine, writing a four book series is quite an endeavor, so I’m enjoying a long needed hiatus.

About the Book:

The Banished Lands
Title: THE BANISHED LANDS (BOOK ONE)
Author: Benjamin Mester
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 384
Genre: Fantasy
BOOK BLURB:
A kingdom in danger. A prophecy that will change everything. But will they understand it in time? The old world is gone, and barely even histories remain. But something from that time is returning. The closing lines of a farewell poem, written centuries ago by the last great king of the age to his slain wife, might be more than just a poem:
The world and all its light shall fade,
I’ll stay with her beneath the shade
And wait until the world’s remade…
Join us in this epic fantasy adventure as three friends plunge into the great mystery of their age, twelve centuries in the making. A mysterious fog blankets the forest just outside the sleepy town of Suriya. A dark plot unfolds as Durian and his friends discover ties between a strange wanderer and the warlike barbarian kingdom far to the north. Are the mysterious things happening in the forest a prelude to invasion? What happens next will propel Durian and his curious friends into the middle of the oldest riddle in the history of their kingdom, a dozen centuries old.

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Other Books in The Banished Lands Series

The Banished Lands series
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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Interview with Filmmaker/Author Shane Stanley @shanestanley




Multi-Emmy Award winning filmmaker Shane Stanley has worked in almost every capacity on and off the set starting with hit shows like “Entertainment Tonight” and “Seinfeld.”

Along with his father, Stanley produced “The Desperate Passage Series,” which was nominated for 33 individual Emmy Awards and won 13 statues. In this series, five of the seven specials went No.1 in Nielson Ratings, which included “A Time for Life” and “Gridiron Gang.”

Stanley has produced films starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Thomas Hayden Church, Donald Sutherland, Marisa Tomei and Martin Sheen. He co-wrote two of the films and has worked closely with top Hollywood executives.

Stanley has taught workshops at many film schools and universities. He is the founder of Visual Arts Entertainment, a production company based in Los Angeles. He is still active in teaching, working with several schools, film students, and recent grads as a mentor and guide.

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Multi Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Shane Stanley, a lifelong entertainment industry insider, has worked in every aspect of the film industry, covering a multitude of movies, television shows, and other projects. In his valuable new book, WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOL: A
COMPLETE GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING, Stanley takes a candid look at the film business and offers ambitious young filmmakers important information on how to navigate every aspect of making movies, from initial pitch to distributing a finished product. The book “is written for anyone who hopes to have a career in the industry at any position, but (is) geared for (the) total filmmaker,” Stanley says.

Producer Neal H. Moritz (“Fast & Furious,”S.W.A.T.,” “21 and 22 Jump Street”), says that WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOLpulls no punches. It's one of the most insightful and accurate books ever written on the subject, a master class bridging the gap between school and real-life experience that will save you years of heartache. A must-read for anyone interested in pursuing a career in film.”

Jane Seymour, two-time Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner, actress, producer and founder of the Open Hearts Foundation, declares that Stanley’s “step-by-step guide is a must-read for anyone hoping to break into the world of independent cinema, along with many useful tips for those who desire to work within a studio or network system.”

Jeff Sagansky, former president of Sony Entertainment and CBS Entertainment, notes that “Shane Stanley takes you to a film school that only years of practical experience can teach. He covers both the business of independent filmmaking as well as the hard-earned secrets of a successful production. A must-read for anyone who wants to produce.”

A lifelong veteran of the film world, Stanley has directed and produced hundreds of film and television projects, including the 2006 No. 1 Box Office hit “Gridiron Gang,” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His clearly-written guide to navigating the shoals of independent filmmaking comes from his hands-on experience, covering such topics as choosing what material to produce, raising independent capital, hiring a production crew and selecting the right cast.

WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOL is an essential book written by someone who clearly understands the independent film business from the inside.

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Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Lately when I’m not writing, I am usually preparing to direct a film or am in the middle of ones post-production. I do plan to stop and smell the roses again as it’s been too long since I’ve done the non-work related things I truly enjoy which include a drive through the desert at sunrise, going to the channel islands for a day of scuba diving or head up to Mammoth for some snowboarding.

When did you start writing? 

I never thought I could really write. I poked around but it wasn’t until I was in my mid-20’s and had the privilege of working with filmmaker, Zalman King (Wild Orchid, 9½ Weeks) and one night over dinner in Bali, Indonesia while we were filming In God’s Hands I pitched him an idea for his hit series, Red Shoe Diaries. He liked my story and said, “Write it in 40 pages or less!” I did and he bought it. I was now a professional writer. Soon after, I was hired to write action films for the straight-to-video market in the 8-12 million dollar budget range.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life? 

Being able to formulate the life lessons that brought me to the point of finally writing a book such as this. It’s something I have always wanted to do, but never did. Much like the filmmaking side of my career, things happen because I put them into motion and then once I achieve something new and I want to continue, it becomes a part of my repertoire and subsequently my every day life. 

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why? 

I would like to go to Croatia. I have never been but a good friend of mine goes all the time and after seeing the pictures I feel so inspired. He co-owns a resort out there, I just need to pack a bag, kidnap my wife and go one day. My only fear is we might not come back. J

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do? 

If I had four hours of found time, I would write. Tomorrow I might give you a different answer but that’s what I’d do today.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet? 

One of the most intriguing films I ever saw was Enchanting April - don’t ask. I would love to write something one-tenth as good, set up in Big Sur or Carmel and just let ‘er rip. The more I think about it, the more I think I’m going to have to put pen to paper and do that one…


Back to your present book, What You Don’t Learn in Film School: A Complete Guide to (Independent) Filmmaking, how did you publish it? 

It was originally created as cheat sheet to me save time when consulting other filmmakers and quickly got loose from me and turned in to a 200-page book. I thought about breaking it up into segments for various blogs I had been offered to contribute to but quickly realized there was information in there that no other book of its genre offered. I went to work on finding an outlet and I partnered with a group of mavericks who were focusing on industry how-to guides and just let the chips fall where they may.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research? 

Well, the book is a culmination of my 30-plus years as a filmmaker, which I’ve circled the globe several times to do. I wish I was able to go some place remote and beautiful to gather my thoughts but unfortunately, I wrote it during the holidays and had to stay home for some family obligations. There’s always next time…

Why was writing What You Don’t Learn in Film School: A Complete Guide to (Independent) Filmmaking so important to you? 

I feel much like the middle class in our country - the true, independent filmmaker - is rapidly becoming extinct and I want to do everything I can to prevent that from happening. I believe I can offer a wealth of knowledge from several aspects of the industry and hope the book will encourage the next generation and help them go into the business better armed with the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed. I wanted to hand them a map…my map, to help make the journey along the highway to Hell a little easier on their feet so they can avoid some of the blisters and twisted ankles I suffered over the last 30 years.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is? 

I get my best ideas of inspiration from other sources of art. It could be a great song on the radio or a beautiful painting at an art show that gets me rolling. Even a majestic sunset or a fine wine has been known to do the trick. Inspiration for me can come from the most bizarre places at the most inopportune times. For example, the idea for my newest film, The Untold Story came from seeing at a well-known actor sitting in his car next to me at a red light who was clearly miserable on a rainy afternoon.

Any final words? 

I think as storytellers, we have a certain responsibility. I know as a filmmaker it’s my job to take viewers into a world they can never experience for themselves, or to a place they just want to be immersed in for 90 minutes. It’s the same for authors and painters. Our work can either leave an uplifting or destructive impression on people, and that’s quite a load when you really think about it. Remember the power your gift has on others and how it can impact them. I know I’d like to make the world a better place than I found it…how about you?

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The Dawsons / Lydia & Santina Casablanca / Blog Tour @tdawsons


THE DAWSONS by Lydia & Santina Casablanca, Fantasy Romance, 432 pp., $.99 (kindle)


Title: THE DAWSONS
Author: Lydia and Santina Casablanca
Publisher: Xlibris
Pages: 432
Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Witnessing the horrific demise of everyone he knew and loved has made Derrick Dawson strong, but it has also made him cold and broken. Tormented by his past and fears for the future, Derrick drowns himself in alcohol and drugs to dull the pain he can’t seem to escape. When Rose, the granddaughter of his sworn enemy, suddenly appears in his life, his world turns upside down. The wall he has built to protect his heart is crumbling. Will Derrick ignore what he feels or will he let the wall fall?
Francesco has felt alone and miserable all his life. The loss of his family and the harshness he receives from his constantly intoxicated older brother has left a void inside him that he thought he would never fill. Until a young princess named Rosa stumbles into him and changes his life forever. There’s only one thing that stands in his way—King Antonio has forbidden Rosa to have anything to do with a Dawson.

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INTRODUCTION
There is a world like no other, a world where anything is possible, where no mortal walks—or lives. This world is on a planet called Magika, a place like Earth with the same identities, the same personalities, and the same countries. The only difference is the people on Earth are mortal, and the people on Magika are witches, which makes things very different. All kinds of beings and creatures—any supernatural thing you can think of—live on this bizarre planet. Mortals aren’t allowed to visit Magika; nor do they even know that the planet exists. Though it’s located close to earth, Magika is barely possible to find in space, given that it’s invisible to the mortal eye. If somehow a human were to miraculously figure it out and enter the magical land, the rulers of Magika would make sure he or she never returned. Mortals can never know Magika exists; their knowing would change everything, and drastic measures would have to be taken.
The only way in or out of Magika is through several portals around the world, and they open only once a year at twilight. Witches in books and movies on Earth are nothing like witches in the witch world. On this planet, witches fly without broomsticks and heal quickly. They are given a gift from an angel on the day of their birth, but they also receive a curse by a demon on the same day. The only way to get rid of the curse is to kill the demon who gave it. However, if you do get rid of the curse, you will gain another. Witches senses are heightened. Their eyes and hair can grow any colour. They will never age and can never die, unless they are given the curse of mortality. Child witches usually grow faster than do mortal children. You can never tell how old a witch may be, and it would be better not to guess, if you know what we mean.
And so our story begins one night on the shores of Casa Palace.

Lydia and Santina Casablanca are twin sisters who were born in Brisbane, Queensland Australia. They grew up mostly in New South Wales, moving around all the time and never staying in one place for more than three years. Growing up, Lydia and Santina were left at home a lot with nothing to do while their mother worked to provide for them. The twins had wild imaginations and would often play make believe where they lived in this world where only the supernatural inhabited it. They made up all kinds of characters and story lines, and in doing so they did not realize that they were creating magic.

When Lydia and Santina were 14 years old they noticed they were starting to forget the stories, the characters and the families they had made up and they didn’t want to forget, they wanted to always remember the adventures they went on when they played, pretending they were witches who lived in a magical place. The twins decided to put down all their adventures they had had, all the characters and the families they had made up on paper so they would always remember them.

While writing their book they were suddenly aware that they had a passion for it, and realized they didn’t want their stories to be hidden, to just be shared between themselves. They wanted to share the families they had created, the adventures, the characters with the world. The twins wanted to share their love of writing, their magic and write for a living.

Lydia and Santina worked on their first novel (The Dawsons) for ten years, adding to the story, maturing and professionalizing it, editing it and trying their best to make it as perfect as a manuscript can be before they approached the self-publishing company Xlibris in October 2016. The twins knew that self-publishing a book is not cheap so they saved up for years, working at Gloss Cosmetics, Coles, etc. to earn the money that would help them to publish their first novel.

Lydia and Santina’s book “The Dawsons” was finally self-published with Xlibris Publishing in April 2017. The twins went through a crazy, exhilarating ride making their book a reality, and haven’t regretted taking all the nerve-racking risks in the hopes of being successful. They have been trying to get as many people as possible to know about their book, contacting radio and television stations, bookstores, newspapers and social media in the hopes that their dreams will come true.
The twins are now 24 years old and are living on the Central Coast, New South Wales. Lydia is currently working on the second installment to The Dawsons. She is also working on the first novel by contacting anyone she can to popularize their book. Santina helps Lydia with the marketing of The Dawsons whenever she can.

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Sunset Beach / Christine Donovan / Book Blast - Win Books! @cmdonovan #win #books #giveaway #romance


SUNSET BEACH by Christine Donovan, Contemporary Romance, 255 pp., $3.99 (kindle)


Title: SUNSET BEACH
Author: Christine Donovan
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 328
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Until Sarah Kennedy is 17 she spends her summers at Sunset Beach with a close-knit group of friends. They are young, carefree, and just a tad wild—as teenagers tend to be. They share secrets, love, and a deep connection. But that final summer life as the friends know it begins to unravel. Domestic violence plagues one family, one of their group becomes a criminal. Sarah severs all ties with her friends and disappears.

Fifteen years after the summer that changed Sarah’s life forever, she receives a letter about a reunion. Can she bury her fears, curb her anxiety enough to attend and finally unearth who attacked her and changed the trajectory of her life forever? She also hopes to reconnect with the one man she gave her heart and soul too—Jake Ferroli. She wonders if his life faired any better than hers after his family tragedy and his downfall into drugs and alcohol.

Sarah locks down her demons and rents a cottage for the summer. To her surprise Jake is still single and they slowly reconnect. But so does her attacker. He is good at eluding the police. Somehow he has gone on attacking women for fifteen years without so much as being a suspect. Pictures, letters, and threats against Sarah now come on a daily basis. Jake and Sarah hire a private detective and as they get closer and closer to revealing the identity of the perpetrator, he strikes. Can Jake rescue Sarah before their so-called friend rapes her, or even worse, kills her as he did to his last victim?


When he stepped close to her, he could sense rather than see her retreat. Her eyes darted toward the door then back to him, suddenly full of panic. Why? It tore at his heart to know someone or something traumatized her.
“Why don’t you take a seat and relax.” He reached out to touch her arm and she all but flinched. It appeared ever so quickly, but he noticed it. On an exhale, he let his arm fall, frowned at her behavior, and sat down. She slid into the chair opposite him.
“So, tell me why you’re so jumpy? Is it me, or are you always like this?” God, please don’t let it be me.
She shot him a look of disbelief. “I’m not jumpy.”
Clearing his throat, he said, “If you say so.”
“Have you kept in touch with everyone?”
The desperation he witnessed flash in her eyes nearly broke his heart. “Yeah, I have. You know about Drew and Alyssa. Tom’s a doctor. He works at Mass General and he’s still single. Dylan lives in his mother’s old house. He’s a local cop here. Had a nasty divorce a few years back, but I don’t know all the details. I believe he has one kid, a daughter. Mitch is a detective with the Boston Police Department. He married a fellow police officer and they have two kids. Heather married some guy last year, I haven’t met him. Tracy’s single and I think she’s the only one not coming.”
“I had no idea what became of anyone.” Tears pooled in her eyes. “Except Charlotte.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “You took me by surprise when I saw you pull up today.”
Exhaling, he said, “Likewise. I didn’t expect you to come after fifteen years of silence.” He ran his hands threw his hair and asked, “Why did you come?”
“I don’t know. I thought it was time.”
She had a strange, vacant look on her face, so Jake decided to drop the subject. He would push for more answers later. And he wanted answers. Something had been eating a hole in his heart all these years, and he wanted to know why.







Christine Donovan is giving away five free e-copies of SUNSET BEACH!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter
  • This giveaway ends midnight June 29.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on June 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Christine Donovan is an International Bestselling Author who writes romance that touches the heart, soothes the soul and feeds the mind. She is a PAN Member of RWA and belongs to Novelist, Inc. and Rhode Island Romance Writers.

She lives on the Southeast Coast of Massachusetts with her husband, four sons, four cats and one spoiled golden retriever. As well as writing contemporary romance, she also writes historical and paranormal. All her books have some degree of suspense. In her spare time, she can be found reading, painting or gardening. She loves to tackle DIY projects.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Awakening: Dreamers' Realm One l Karen Arnpriester l Blog Tour @karenarnprieste #Christian #fiction #vbt


AWAKENING: DREAMERS' REALM ONE by Karen Arnpriester, Christian Fantasy, 344 pp., $14.99 (paperback)



Title: AWAKENING: DREAMER’S REALM ONE
Author: Karen Arnpriester
Publisher: Createspace
Pages: 344
Genre: Christian Fantasy

The horror of her sister’s abduction and Lucinda’s guilt manifest into years of acute insomnia. She appears to be miraculously healed when she participates in a test program that provides restful sleep but awakens a new dream realm … an alternative existence where Lucinda can create and manipulate any fantasy inspired by her imagination. Lucinda’s new realm is shattered by a dark evil that lurks there. Evil that is not confined to nightmares, but a sinister foe that also hunts for victims in the real world. Lucinda’s discarded spiritual beliefs resurface and prompt her to begin a perilous journey against this very real threat; a heartless creature that destroys innocent lives. The dream realm, spiritual domain and Lucinda’s physical reality integrate and twist together as Lucinda rediscovers her faith and confronts the monster that threatens her very life and those she loves.

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Amazon




Chapter 1
Lucinda woke to a serenade of singing birds. She was lying on her back in soft grass, facing a sky filled with clouds and each was a shape she recognized. There was an elephant, a pirate ship and a smiling face just above her. She giggled with delight as the childhood memories of searching the clouds for shapes with her little sister flooded in. The sky was brilliant blue directly in front of her, but when she turned her head to the sides, she could see deeper into the sky. The blue blended to a vibrant purple, filled with stars and swirling galaxies. She didn’t understand how she could see the layers of the atmosphere, but she didn’t care. Lucinda sat up and looked around her. This place she found herself in was beautiful and shimmered with light. It was as if an opalescent sheen had been applied to all surfaces.

When she stood up, she realized that she was next to the center hub of stone walkways, fanning out like legs of an octopus. She stepped onto one of the walkways and viewed her surroundings. The landscape was magical in every direction. She suddenly heard a scraping sound behind her and turned to see a large ostrich with a peacock tail waddling towards her, positioning its face right in hers. The bird’s face was tan with huge turquoise eyes framed in lush black eyelashes. The tan feathers blended into shades of lavender and sky blue, which then blended into deep jewel tones of the peacock. Lucinda began to feel uncomfortable with the intensity of the bird’s penetrating stare into her eyes.

“You are in my way, madam, please get out of the flow of traffic if you are going to dally about.” the bird disdainfully said with a British accent. He could have moved around her, but it was clear that he expected her to give him the right-of-way.

Lucinda gasped in shock when she realized that the bird could talk. She stepped to the right side of the pathway and allowed the “peatrich,” her name for the mash-up of creatures, to continue past her, watching the luxurious mixture of jewel tones in the plumage that dragged behind the bird. Once the intimidating peatrich was a safe distance away, she allowed herself to relax and actually laughed. She had always loved the face of an ostrich, especially the soulful eyes, and the beauty of the male peacock’s tail was one of nature’s breathtaking displays. Had her imagination blended these two creatures into one for her delight? she thought to herself. The peatrich turned and faced Lucinda, extending his tail plumage into a massive fan. He then humpfed at her, appearing to show distain for her presumption that she had created him, as if he could read her mind. He turned away and strutted down the path, with his fully extended tail swaying behind him.

Lucinda considered which path to take, and decided not to follow the peatrich, as he appeared to be rather grumpy and she didn’t want to aggravate him. She chose the path to her immediate left, which led to a village off in the distance. It felt like she traveled for hours to reach the gathering of buildings that were clearly from the Renaissance period. The quaint homes were made of stone with thatched roofs, and cobblestone paths ribboned throughout the buildings. The trees were covered in clusters of delicate lavender and yellow flowers, as well as dusty green moss that dangled from the branches. Lucinda was startled to see dragons flying above the village, effortlessly gliding above the treetops, seemingly unaware of her presence … at first.

As she stepped into the village square, she saw a large shadow covering her, and when she looked up, a magnificent ebony dragon hovered above her. The dragon had positioned his head so that one bright yellow eye could watch her every move. Lucinda felt her heart clench up and her breathing became rapid and panicked. She could not outrun his flames if he decided to incinerate her.

The village appeared to be uninhabited and the understanding that no one could save her created bile that churned in her stomach. The dragon appeared to give her a knowing leer and she saw his belly begin to glow until it was bright red with leathery veins of ebony running through the hot flesh. It reminded her of pictures she had seen of glowing lava beneath a black cracking charcoal surface. Lucinda dropped down into a crouch and wrapped herself into a ball, waiting for the searing heat to melt her to the bone.

“Ebony, desist or I shall thwart you,” a deep male voice suddenly bellowed out.

Lucinda looked up in the direction of the voice and saw a knight dressed in gold armor coming toward her. He shook his massive jeweled sword threateningly at the dragon that hesitated in his attack, apparently weighing his choices and the possible outcomes. The dragon slowly rose; the red fire in his belly cooling into glowing embers.

“Henceforth, she is mine. Any harm comes to this wench and thou shalt die,” the knight threatened with authority.

A rush of gratitude and relief swept over Lucinda.  She would not die by flames that would devour her flesh.

The knight reached down his hand and pulled Lucinda to her feet. He placed his sword in his scabbard and then removed his helmet. The knight was tall with long blonde hair blowing in the same breeze that also caressed her skin. Her eyes scanned his beautiful face and she knew him, she had history with this man, and she felt her face flush and become a deep shade of crimson when he grinned at her with impossibly white, perfect teeth. He was her secret heartthrob for as long as she could remember … the supermodel Fabio. She felt a wave of embarrassment and lust sweep over her.

The knight took her hand and pressed his full, warm lips against her skin. She felt the tingles of excitement begin to build within her. After his enticing kiss, he lifted her hand up to his shoulder, which pulled her up against him. She could see the intricate carvings on his gold armor, scrolls and vines twisting and weaving over the surface. Her eyes focused on his chest and there was an etched heart formed with vines and flowers. In the center of the heart was her name, Lucinda, clearly engraved in beautiful script lettering. He was hers and she was his. She slid her tongue over her lips to moisten them, and then she lifted her face to accept the kiss that she knew was awaiting her. She closed her eyes and anticipated the warm softness of his desire.

WAHHH, WAHHH, WAHHH blasted into her conscious mind through her ears as Fabio burst into a showering of gold particles. Lucinda ran from the village, onto the path that had led her to her secret love, trying to locate the source of the obnoxious sound that interrupted her interlude with Sir Fabio. She found herself at the hub of paths. How could that be? It had taken her hours to get to the village, and only moments to return to the hub. Again she heard WAHHH, WAHHH, WAHHH as her eyes fluttered open.

~

Lucinda was lying on her back staring at the ceiling fan that spun in her bedroom. It took her a few moments to realize that she had actually been dreaming. Lucinda wrapped her arms around herself and squealed with delight.  It had worked, the doctor was right. Not only had she slept, she had dreamed, a wonderfully delicious dream that was too quickly interrupted by her alarm.








Karen Slimick Arnpriester (October 1953) was born in Alton, Illinois and moved to California when she was eight. Karen has owned her own graphic art business for thirty years. Anessia’s Quest is her first book. Her second book is titled Raider’s Vendetta. Slimy and Miraculous Relationship are non-fiction books that share Karen's years as a bullied child and real-life miracles. The first two books of the Dream Realm trilogy, her newest endeavor, are now available. Awakening: Dream Realm One and Deception: Dream Realm Two are available as paperback and e-books through Amazon.
http://www.facebook.com/karen.slimickarnpriester
https://twitter.com/KarenArnpriester
 


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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Guest post from V.W. Raynes, author of Twisted Venom








Title: Twisted Venom
Author: V. W. Raynes
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Format: Ebook

When young internist Claudia Ranelli attends a medical conference in San Francisco, she has a sexual encounter so bizarre and frightful it nearly kills her. But that isn't the end of her terror. Claudia and her cousin Dru Salinas must discover the identity of the person terrorizing them both, a quest that leads from pit vipers to modern genetics. Claudia tells a gripping story with sensitivity, a humanly scientific perspective, eroticism and a wry sense of humor.



New Blue Genes

What happens when genes change (mutate)? Sometimes not good things, obviously.
That is the premise of TWISTED VENOM. The story is written and reviewed as a medical thriller,
but where does the fiction end, and where do the facts begin?
As I mention at the end of the book, the gene mutation in the story is real, discovered and studied
extensively since the late 1970's, about when my character Dr. Kral becomes enthralled with it. If you've had cancer or know someone who does, the TP53 mutation may well have been tested for. The TP53 gene is responsible for making the p53 protein; the protein, which has sometimes been called the "guardian of the genome," helps to prevent cells with damaged DNA from growing and becoming cancerous or to repair damaged cellular DNA. A mutation in the TP53 gene may lead to the formation of a protein that cannot function properly, allowing damaged cells to proliferate and form tumors. If you're not impressed with the "Man of the Year" awards, look up Science Magazine's "Molecule of the Year Awards," (now known as "Breakthrough of the Year"), an award won by the p53 protein in 1993. Of course, there are now numerous web sites and conferences devoted to TP53. For example, check out Genetics Home Reference
@ghr.nlm.nih.gov, and look up TP53.
DNA damage can result from some of the usual culprits... tobacco, UV light, radiation exposure,
to name some. In TWISTED VENOM, I've used a somewhat novel mechanism for DNA damage in order to enhance the story; on the other hand, more mechanisms than we currently know about will surely be discovered....

Research on finding compounds that will restore a non-functional p53 protein to a functional
protein are ongoing and fascinating, including recent work at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. [1]
Unfortunately, reality is a little slower than fiction.

1. Yu X, Vazquez A, Levine A J, Carpizo D R: Allele-Specific p53 Mutant Reactivation. Cancer Cell 21
(5): 614-625, 2012.


V. W. Raynes is the pen name of a physician practiciing in Texas
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#BookFeature: Getaway by Maureen Brady


GETAWAY by Maureen Brady,Women's Fiction, 230 pp., $14.99 (paperback) $8.99 (kindle)


Title: GETAWAY
Author: Maureen Brady
Publisher: Bacon Press Books
Pages: 230
Genre: Women’s Fiction
After stabbing her abusive husband and leaving him dying on the kitchen floor, Cookie Wagner flees to remote Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. For a moment, she seems to have gotten away with murder. But, consigned to a secretive life with a new name and the need to be on constant alert, she faces all she has not gotten away with. She is helped by the recently widowed Mrs. Biddle, who offers her a place to stay, and the lobster fisherman Butch, who gives her a job and later falls in love with her. Walking the cliffs and beaches, taking in the scruffy windblown plants that survive the buffeting wind by growing at an angle, she begins to heal.

Yet, there is no leaving behind the notion that Warren is dead as the result of her action.
Or is he? And if not, will he one day come to find her?

Sexual harassment and abuse are all over the news these days, often involving celebrites and other well-known figures, but Cookie, the protagonist of Getaway, is no celebrity. She’s an ordinary woman married to a working class guy who drinks too much and resorts to violence. Their story reveals how endemic the phenomenon of abuse is, and the quandary Cookie lands in when she fights back.

Praise for Getaway:
“Sensitive, sensual, and stirring. “Getaway” is a true page-turner, but one with heart and with context. I couldn’t put it down until I got to the end, not just to find out what happened, but also to discover who these intriguing and complex characters would develop into. An extremely satisfying read!”
Danielle Ofri, author of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear, Editor-in-Chief, Bellevue Literary Review.
Amazon Link:
https://amzn.to/2JSN0Yx



Cookie dove between the tall grasses, jarred with adrenalin. In the gloom, she could barely make out the blue cottage on the other side of the lake, but her eyes clung to it desperately. It was up for sale and she thought, unoccupied. Maybe if she bushwhacked around the lake and found her way there without being seen, she’d be able to hide behind it.

The air sparkled. Everything around her seemed to vibrate with too much life. When a bullfrog glugged in the reeds, she jumped, stood still, then made herself get moving again. This was no time to try to understand what she had done.

She inched along the shoreline, her feet sinking into the mud.

Her foot slipped off a root and twisted painfully. Damn weak ankle, she muttered, working it before she pushed on.

A three-quarter moon came up to light the way a bit, but it was getting cold. She stopped to put on her windbreaker, the one thing she’d managed to grab from the hook by the door. A good thing she had, even though it was a bright aqua, too colorful for someone
who wanted not to be seen.

Squatting, she buried her face in her hands. Her stomach roiled and she thought she might throw up. My God, Warren, why did you have to come after me like that?

She was struck by the sound of twigs breaking underfoot. A bear or a coyote? Someone coming after her? That got her moving again, making low, humming noises to keep whatever it was at bay.

When she finally came out to the clearing, she scooted through tall tufts of grass in front of the blue cottage and crept around back.

The building blocked the moonlight as she huddled against the cinderblock cellar wall, her arms wrapped around her legs, her feet wet and freezing. She stared into the night as the fireflies spit tiny patches of light before flickering out.

As she adjusted to the dark, she noticed a hump a few feet away, a rounded Bilco cellar door. She stood and lifted the handle.

Detecting a little give, she lifted again, hard, and one side came up. Three steps down, there was a wooden door. It, too, had been left unlocked, so the knob turned and she was in.

She sunk to the cellar floor and wrapped her windbreaker around her wet pant legs but couldn’t stop her teeth from chattering. Trying to still her jaw only made her whole arm shake. She remembered once as a child when her teeth had rattled on this way. It had been fear, not cold that time her father had raised his large square hand but stopped just short of slapping her across the face.

When she finally found the remains of a matchbook in her pocket, the first match she struck crumbled. She stood up and struck another. The light flared up shockingly fast and extinguished itself before she’d seen a thing. She caught a glimpse of a stairway, which she shuffled toward, hands out ahead of her, searching for a light switch.

In the flare of the last match, she spotted a worktable under the stairs. Patting along its surface, she touched something soft and squishy, almost like human skin. She jumped back, horrified.

Gathering her courage, she reached out again but she must have turned when she jumped back because, where the squishy thing had been, there was nothing, not even the bench. She made a quarter turn and reached out again. Still nothing! At least it wasn’t the squishy thing, but where the hell was she and what was that anyway?








Though Maureen Brady wrote the humor column of her junior high school newspaper, she didn’t actually comprehend that she was a writer until after she had moved to New York City in her twenties, where she began taking writing workshops at The New School and then fell headlong into the consciousness raising groups of the early 1970’s.

She published her first novel, Give Me Your Good Ear, in 1979, and it was published by The Women’s Press in England in 1981. Her novel, Folly, was excerpted in Southern Exposure, received wide critical acclaim, was nominated by Adrienne Rich for an ALA Gay Book Award and was reprinted as a classic by The Feminist Press. She published a collection of short stories, The Question She Put to Herself, in 1987, then turned to writing nonfiction in the ’90’s, publishing Daybreak: Meditations for Women Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Midlife: Meditations for Women. She returned to fiction with the novel, Ginger’s Fire, and her most recent novel, Getaway.

Her recent work has appeared in Sinister Wisdom, Bellevue Literary Review; Just Like A Girl; Cabbage and Bones: Irish American Women’s Fiction, Mom, In the Family, and Intersections: An Anthology of Banff Writers. Brady’s essays and stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and were finalists for the Katherine Anne Porter Fiction Prize and the Nelsen Algren Short Story contest.

An Adjunct Assistant Professor, she teaches creative writing at New York University and New York Writers Workshop @ the Jewish Community Center, and works as a free-lance editor and tutor, helping writers across the spectrum take their writing to the next stage.

A co-founder of Spinsters Ink, Brady edited such books as The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde and The Woman Who Breathes Fire by Kitty Tsui. She also served as a panelist for The New York State Council on the Arts Literature Program and as a fiction judge for Oregon Literary Arts. She is a founding member of The New York Writers Workshop and has long served as Board President of Money for Women Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

She has received grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts Writer-in-Residence; New York State Council on the Arts CAPS grant; Holding Our Own; Briarcombe Foundation; and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship to The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland. She was the winner of the Saints and Sinners short story contest for 2015 and is also a Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame winner.

She lives in New York City and Woodstock with her long term partner, Martha, and their joy dog, Bessie.

Visit Maureen’s website at www.maureenbradyny.com
 


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