Indie Spotlight on Fantasy Author Mandy Jackson-Beverly

An ancient curse

A forgotten love

A painting with secrets only one woman can reveal

Coco Rhodes is surprised by a horrific vision beneath her most recent painting: the violent attack upon a fragile young girl. When a link is discovered between an education-finance fraud and several girls disappearing from Washington, D.C. schools, Coco’s lover and leader of the Allegiance, the vampire-warlock Gabriel, vows to rescue the girls, and topple a corrupt congressman. Concurrently, the dark and twisted past of Kenan, the Allegiance’s sworn enemy, is revealed. With Kenan’s whereabouts unknown, members of the Allegiance begin to unravel his sadistic plan.

From New York and D.C., to Tuscany and the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, the supernatural guardians of the Allegiance are guided by both the lessons of history and the shocks of present-day life. Through magical twists and otherworldly subplots, this supernatural thriller weaves a web of intrigue, love, and conflict. In The Devil and the Muse, Coco’s sense of duty to the Allegiance is tested. But will protecting her loved ones cause her to sacrifice her humanity?

A Gift From David Bowie

During my earlier life as a costume designer and stylist, I was lucky enough to work with David Bowie, first as the costume designer for the music video for his song “Day In, Day Out,” and subsequently asked to join the crew as head of wardrobe for the Glass Spider tour in 1987. After turning down the opportunity of touring more than once, I finally accepted.

In retrospect, touring was not exactly the ideal situation for me to be in as I had recently become sober, and the lifestyle of being on the road 24/7 was not exactly harmonious with the emotional and physical turmoil one experiences during the first year of sobriety. It would not be until many years later that I would understand the relevance of this part of my life’s journey.

After a few months on the road in Europe, I decided that for my own health and well-being I needed to resign and head back to the familiarity of the city of angels. But the tour marked a turning point in my life; a seed was planted in my soul when we stayed just outside of Florence in a sanctuary called Villa La Massa.

Skip ahead thirty years…

While researching locations for The Creatives Series and searching for a lost stapler, I happened to open a drawer and pick up a bunch of old papers. As I went to stuff them all back where they belonged, something fell to the ground. I picked up the fallen paper and a flutter of recognition sparked my curiosity. It had been nearly twenty-six years since the Bowie tour, but time did not quell the host of images that flooded my mind. The paper in my hand was a brochure for a small luxury boutique hotel just outside of Florence: Villa La Massa.

As I stared at the photo on the front of the brochure, I remembered the sense of nostalgia I had experienced the moment I stepped off the tour bus and onto the path that led to the entrance of the sixteenth-century Italian villa, way back in June of ‘87. Standing in the foyer while waiting for my room allocation, protected by a border of arches, I had felt safe and happy. Making my way to my room along the third-floor open hallway, I looked down at the foyer. From this vantage point, the arches brought to mind a flower opening her petals to the Tuscan sun – a welcoming of sorts. I recalled the vivid baby blue tones of my room and the view from the attic window – the gardens that bordered the terrace, and the reflections mirrored upon the surface of the Arno River.

There are pieces of Villa La Massa woven into The Creatives Series, in particular, Antonia’s home in Florence, and Gabriel’s Tuscan villa outside of San Gimignano. Through a strange series of events I was drawn to another property in Tuscany called, Spannocchia, and this became the model for Gabriel’s villa. One look at the turret and I knew I needed to visit this place. My wish came true earlier this year and Spannocchia did not disappoint – complete with the snuffling sounds of wild boar lurking behind overgrown hiking trails!

Not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for the short time I spent working with David Bowie. He was the ultimate Creative – a sweet and sensitive man who loved to read and engage in philosophical conversations during long flights and family-style Italian dinners.

The purpose of a stapler is to bind things together. Although I never did find my missing stapler, I believe it more than adequately fulfilled its mission.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly is the author of A Secret Muse, and The Devil And The Muse; the first two books in The Creatives Series. Mandy is a contributor to The Huffington Post and a book reviewer for The New York Journal of Books. Her first novel, A Secret Muse, won first place in the fantasy section of the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Awards. Mandy has taught Advanced Placement Art, and previously worked as a costume designer and stylist for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina Turner, to name a few. If you’d like to learn more about Mandy you can visit her website, follow her on Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

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Indie Spotlight on SciFi Author, Lesley Smith

FOR EVERY GOOD FORTUNE, THERE’S AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE MISFORTUNE. As a brilliant young computer scientist working on her master’s degree, Ella Hote doesn’t believe in luck. But when bizarre accidents, insane coincidences, and weird encounters with improbably handsome strangers start to happen all around her, even hardheaded Ella has to change her mind.

She comes to realize she’s inadvertently created a luck generating computer that can make even the longest of long shots pay off.

Unfortunately, for every stroke of good luck, someone else pays the price in bad luck.

Ultimately, when lives are on the line, how far will she go?

Conservation of Luck is an engaging science fiction story that grapples with questions of morality—do the ends ever justify the means? And how can you go to save your loved ones?

My Love Affair with Science Fiction

Hi, my name is Lesley Smith and I’m a science fiction fan.  And, yes, I know that sounds like the intro at a twelve-step meeting. I write science fiction because I read science fiction.

My SF experience all started when I was a little girl and my chemist dad gave me a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. From there it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to novels of Robert Heinlein such as Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. And, then, before I knew it I was hanging out at the library at all hours, reading works such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

Maybe you had a similar experience with your favorite books?

My love affair with SF continued over the decades. I was especially happy to find more modern authors like Connie Willis and Kathleen Goonan who write from a more feminine perspective.

My critique partners like to say I write ‘science fiction with heart.’ I say I write the kind of books I want to read, with female protagonists who can be kick-ass scientists, have romances and dear friends and joke around, who can live and love–all while saving the world.

The bottom line is I can’t resist flights of fancy to other worlds and other societies. I love going on adventures and trying to understand other sentient creatures, cultures and scientific concepts. I love letting my imagination run wild in parallel with my reason when I create new fiction.

Reading fiction is the only activity in which you get to become someone, or something, else. Thus, as a girl I got to become an astronaut, a Martian settler, a time traveler, a psycho-historian, a robotic engineer, a scientist, and many other professions. I felt as if I was having adventures such as exploring Mars and doing scientific experiments. I’m a firm believer that you have to be able to dream of something to do it. You have to imagine yourself doing it.

For me, SF became a gateway to something even more powerful: science. Decades later, you guessed it, I’m a scientist with several degrees under my belt including a Ph.D. in Physics. I’m very passionate about encouraging people in underrepresented groups become STEM professionals and I think science fiction helps make this happen.

Every day, I make use of the imagination and creativity I learned, and continue to learn, from science fiction. Every day, I’m honored to carry the torch and advance humanity’s knowledge a little further and to write about it in my fiction.

And every day I’m grateful for the opportunity.

(Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)

Lesley L. Smith has collected a plethora of degrees including a PhD. in Physics and a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. She has published seven science fiction novels with her latest being, Conservation of Luck. Her short science fiction has been published in several venues including Analog Science Fiction and Fact. She is an active member of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is also a founder and editor of the speculative fiction e Zine Electric Spec. She has had a variety of scientific jobs including investigating quarks, dark matter, extra-solar planets, clouds, atmospheric chemistry and global warming. She has worked for a variety of research institutions including The University of Kansas, Argonne National Laboratory, the Department of Energy, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA, and The University of Colorado. If you’d like to know more about Lesley you can visit her website.

What are you reading?

I’m reading ABOVE SUSPICION by Joe Starky. True crime story about how an FBI Agent lost his way in the biggest way possible.

Also this month I’ve read…

Bone Baby by Diane M. Dixon

Ghost Writers in the Sky by Anne R Allen

And I’m happy to say I can recommend all of them.

So…what are you reading? Anything super good, fun, interesting, or different? Leave the link in the comments so we can check it out.

Phew just one more day til the weekend! Have a good one.

Annie

 

Indie Spotlight on Crime Writer Christina Kaye

THE SINS OF THE FATHER

In my award-winning suspense novel, LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER, Libby wakes up to find her husband murdered in the bed next to her. When police arrive at the scene, they quickly realize that she’s the daughter of the infamous I-75 Strangler, who is now service several life sentences in prison. So I wondered…what would it be like to have a serial killer in the family?

When we hear about serial killers in the media, we become fixated on the monster and the horrific crimes they committed. We often forget about their victims. Beyond that, we forget that there are other victims that are rarely mentioned, if ever – their children.

Take for example, Kerri Rawson, daughter of the BTK Killer, Dennis Raider. She and her mother had no idea Dennis was a cold-blooded torturer and murderer until the FBI showed up at her house and told her and her husband everything. She claims she has coped with her father’s notoriety and the pain that comes with being the daughter of a serial killer with the help of her church and a psychologist (much like Libby in LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER).

Melissa Moore is the daughter of Keith Jessperson (aka The Happy Face Killer) who murdered at least eight women in the early nineties while working as a long-haul truck driver (again, like Libby’s father in LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER). He was known for mailing letters to the police and media detailing his crimes and signing them with a happy face. Chilling, but true. The truth came out when Jessperson turned himself in when Melissa was only 15. While she knew nothing about his crimes, she did tell BBC reporters that she knew something was “dark” about him. Moore wrote a book called “Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter.” She later went on to host a television series called The Monster in My Family (available on Netflix).

The Green River Killer (Gary Ridgeway) may be one of the most well-known American serial killers. He is infamous for killing at least 49 women in Washington State before being captured in 2001. His son, Matthew Ridgeway, has said that his father (though absent mostly due to divorce from Matthew’s mother) was a “normal” dad and that he showed up often to sports matches and even taught his son how to ride a bike. Eerily, it has been said that Gary Ridgeway showed victims a picture of his son just prior to killing them, in an effort to calm their fears and make them feel at ease. Matthew went on to serve in the US Marine Corp. He later married and settled in California.

Some children of serial killers, however, do not fare so well. Take, for example, Yury Odnacheva, son of Andrei Chikatilo, arguably the most prolific serial killer ever identified. Chikatilo was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering over 50 people, though he claimed to have killed many more than that. His son, Yury (who took on his mother’s surname after Chikatilo’s arrest), wound up having several run-ins with the law, including convictions for theft and extortion.  In 2009, he was arrested and convicted of attempted murder for stabbing a man nine times.

Though each of these individuals has reacted differently to learning that their father was a notorious serial killer, they have one thing in common. They all have to live with the knowledge that their father killed countless innocent victims and that the man they knew as “daddy” no longer exists.  They’ve each felt the sting of losing a father and having to accept the fact that the man who raised them is responsible for taking away other people’s mothers and fathers from them.

When I wrote Like Father, Like Daughter, I had seen an episode of The Monster in My Family and it got me wondering…what would it be like to have a serial killer for a father? Would you turn out to be just like them? Or was there a chance you could go on to live a normal life, despite living in the shadow of someone notorious for committing horrific acts of violence? I chose to take it a step further and have my main character, Libby Carter, charged with the murder of her own husband. In my mind, if an individual was charged with murder and then police learned that their father was a convicted serial killer, odds are they would be scrutinized even more thoroughly. I would think police would be disinclined to believe them and that they would automatically assume that they were just like their father. Hence the title, LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER.

BIO: Christina Kaye is the award-winning author of dark, twisty novels. She was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Some of her favorite things include: sweet tea, dragonflies, books, puppies, and thunderstorms. Christina lives in Nicholasville, Kentucky with her two teenage daughters, an extremely intelligent Aussie, and a very fat cat.

To learn more about Christina you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Indie Spotlight on Romance (Thriller) Author Renee Charles

Amidst an epidemic ravaging the world, all Megan Fletcher’s hopes for the future lie in getting to Las Vegas where newscasts reported scientists were gathering to search for a cure for the modern plague. After rescuing her from a rooftop surrounded by Zombies, Sam Woods appoints himself her escort. While he knows she is determined to get to Vegas no matter the cost, he doesn’t know her secret. And with his hatred of all things Zombie, she doesn’t dare tell him the truth. The more he kisses her, the harder it is for Megan to hide her growing feelings…and the bite-shaped scar. But Vegas is not the haven it was promised to be, and when Megan’s immunity to the disease is discovered, she realizes her future and her heart belong to Sam, if he will trust her.

An idealistic school teacher and ex-corporate mogul manage to find love despite a looming worldwide catastrophe. Can their love survive while everything around them is dying? Will they learn that when facing the end of the world, Only Love Survives?

Do you believe in Monsters?

If I told you monsters were real would you believe me? What if I said there is proof all around us? Everyday proof and we step over it like a pile of laundry in our room, which screams for our attention, yet barely registers on our radar.

Think about this for a minute. How can multiple unconnected cultures come up with similar creatures, down to the height and smells, throughout history. Easy, because they are real. Don’t believe me? Just Google ‘Bear walking on hind legs’ AND ‘Bear with no hair’. It’s okay, I’ll wait. <<Cue elevator music.>>

You’re back. So, now do you see why the legend of BIGFOOT won’t ever die? Yeah, marry those two images together and voila, the stuff nightmares are made of.

Legends are born of truth. So are monsters.

Another good example is the Dragon. Thirteenth century men needed a word for what they found fossilized in the rocks around them. We call them dinosaurs now, but could you imagine what it would have been like to happen upon a skeleton taller than your thatched roof?  First off, you’d give it a name. Then you would give it a story as magical as the finding itself.

Another great example, the vampire. Sun sensitivity is a very real thing. I have a redheaded friend who gets bruises like she’s been punched rather than the traditional sunburn. I, myself a devote vegetarian since birth simply because I hated the texture of anything meaty, woke up one morning when I was 23 and cooked (barely cooked, really more I just took the chill off) a big hunk of red meat for breakfast. Turns out, not only was I preggers, but anemic as well. The body craves what it needs, and sometimes that is some good old fashioned protein soaked in blood. Harsh, I know, but it gets my point across.

These stories come from somewhere. Explanations for what cannot be explained, often from the minds of those who imagine the worst and revel in it. We authors do exactly that.

Romance authors are the worst, known for taking two perfectly innocent people and throwing the worst possible set of circumstances at them. Why? Because the harder the trials and tribulations, the better the HEA is afterward. Now add some good old fashioned monsters in the mix, and you have the perfect love story in this author’s humble opinion. That’s what I do in my books, I love strange beginnings with passionate endings. My full length novel, Only Love Survives chronicles two people as they carve out a life in a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested world.

Renee Charles believes all love is legendary. Having been the only female in a house full of giants (husband and two boys) for the past 20 years. she tends to lean toward the strange and unusual, but inevitably the softer side shines through. Her own romance began in an insane asylum. Luckily, both she and her husband only worked there. But it makes sense her romance novels have strange beginnings, which lead to passionate endings. Romance with a twist. In the face of zombies, werewolves, and dragons she always seems to find a happily ever after to leave you with a sigh at the end.

If you’d  like to know more about Renee please visit her website , follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Indie Spotlight on Paranormal Mystery Author Elle Klass

Elle’s new series, Evan’s Girls kicks off with the book, Scarlett. The book will release in November 2017 but is available for pre-order at Amazon. This is a story that will make you shudder in fear, cry from sadness and shout for in anger. Scarlett is told in 3 parts and Elle is offering Part I for free via Instafreebie, so get over there and download it today.

Book blurb: When my parents died I became a child no one wanted. Scooted from one foster home to another, facing evils no child should. A foster father who used abuse to control those around him, unloved children who took their insecurities out on others. I was ridiculed and bullied, but none of that was worse than who I was. The part of me that feared even itself.

When my biological half-sister and wealthy husband opened their home to me I thought the terrors of my past were over. That was the farthest thing from the truth. The tortures I faced forced me to accept and take control of the sixth sense that lived inside me from before birth. My biological parentage gave me a gift or a curse. The thing that made me more than an average girl.

Under duress, I was impregnated and gave birth to the most vicious serial killer of all time. He is remembered only with shudders of fear. It is my mission to end his life using the tools stored in my DNA.

Writing a Spin-off Series

When I first wrote Eye of the Storm Eilida’s Tragedy it was meant to be a stand-alone. It wasn’t until I got to the end that I realized I needed to further explore and the Ruthless Storm Trilogy was born. The trilogy centers on a specific event that happened. In the first book Eilida witnesses something at her neighbor’s house that scares the pants off her. She runs from the scene. It’s storming and the ground is muddy and slippery causing her to fall and plummet down the mountain, hitting her head on a large boulder. She wakes up in the hospital and doesn’t remember anything. The paranormal connection comes in here and through it she remembers, everything, including what she witnessed. This story became a paranormal fiction award-winning novel.

Each volume is a different characters story therefore, each volume is unique. Volume 2 is more a crime thriller with a paranormal twist including a serial killer and his deranged motives. It’s also a prequel and ends during the event witnessed in Volume 1. Volume 3 is a romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. It picks up a year after the event and ties all the characters and their actions the day of the event together into the twisted shocking truth.

For me that was the end but not for readers. They came at me with questions about the girls the serial killer leaves being physically unharmed. I gave it a lot of thought. There’s no way these girls had picture perfect lives. The series is a thriller so pursuing their lives one can’t expect rainbows and chocolate. There are eight girl’s, one whose story has already been told so that left seven. If it wasn’t for a persistent nagging enigmatic character that is first introduced in Volume 2 it would have stayed at 7 but her story needed to be told. I can’t ignore my readers or my characters so I explored her story and learned so much more about her and the trilogy in general.

When writing a spin-off or a series I recommend a character chart to keep everyone straight, maybe also a skeleton map. Some people are meticulous planners and all those notes will come in handy. I also suggest reading the previous book before writing the next. In a spin-off read them all first. I’m a panster so did none of the above. I don’t suggest doing it this way but when I’m writing a scene or a character from a previous book I open the word doc and “find” what I’m searching for. Another benefit I have s an editor that’s edited all my work.

Promoting is spin-off series is time to promote the first series. Build up hype and be sure to include information about each series in the books. When people enjoy a story, including myself, they don’t want it to end so give them more!

BIO: Elle Klass is the author of mystery, suspense, and contemporary fiction. Her works include As Snow Falls, The Ruthless Storm Trilogy, Zombie Girl, the Bloodseeker series and the Baby Girl series. Her work Eye of the Storm Eilida’s Tragedy is a Reader’s Favorite Fiction-Paranormal Finalist in the 2015 Awards. She loves traveling, especially the Caribbean, and beaches. She is a night-owl where her imagination feeds off shadows, and creaks in the attic. If you’d like to learn more about this prolific author you can visit her website.

 

Indie Spotlight on YA Author Piper Templeton

Rain Clouds and Waterfalls, is a coming-of-age novel told in linked short stories, with each story/chapter named for a Beatles song, that sets the theme of the chapter.  NOW AVAILABLE as an audio book as well.  You can get Rain Clouds and Waterfalls at Amazon and Audible.

The Beatles – Timeless Icons Who Influence Pop Culture Across Multiple Generations

The Beatles continue to influence pop culture as their music inspires and delights multiple generations.   I’ve been a witness to this phenomenon as I’ve seen three generations of families soaking up the unadulterated joy experienced at Paul McCartney concerts.  Their songs are part of our broad pop culture, and they also serve a more intimate purpose to many individuals:  The songs deliver comfort, wisdom, poignancy, and lots of smiles at the memories they invoke.

Their songs are embedded in our collective conscious and plant themselves into ordinary, everyday facets of our lives.  I pass a street sign every evening on my commute home from work named Blue Jay Way.  I often see salads on menus named Strawberry Fields. I have a container of popcorn sitting on my desk right now that I ordered from a Youth Group fundraiser.  The name of the popcorn?  Sergeant Salt & Pepper.

The Beatles have been a recurring presence in movies, whether through dialog, one of their songs playing, or actual footage. As a very recent example, in Twin Peaks:  The Return that recently aired, one character starts telling his work buddy about a dream.  After he recaps his dream, he starts telling the other that he woke up, and then he recites the middle part of “A Day in The Life”  “Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, found my way downstairs…”  The characters give each other a knowing grin.  In Boyhood, there’s a great scene where the dad makes his son a composite of Beatle solo songs that he calls “The Black Album” and walks his son through the rhyme and reason of it all.

Beatles songs play in the background of many films.  One of my favorite examples is the unforgettable parade scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.   Who can forget Ferris dancing away on a float to “Twist and Shout”?  In a somber example, the use of John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the end of The Killing Fields seared our memories and hit the perfect emotional note.

 

How could Forrest Gump guide us through the 1960s and 1970s without bumping into a Beatle?  I love the scene of the old Dick Cavett footage in which Forrest is superimposed over Yoko One, and he finds himself seated next to none other than John Lennon.  Through Q&A with the host, he then inadvertently inspires the lyrics to “Imagine.”  It’s priceless!

You can check out a detailed, lengthy montage of Beatles references in film from the SgtPepperChannel on You Tube.

On a more personal, intimate level, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’ve found that many of their songs function as a Greek chorus to my life.  “Take a sad song and make it better” from “Hey Judge” automatically plays in my head when I’m going through a difficult time.  One day I was driving to work after experiencing a crushing loss.  Weeks had passed since the ordeal, but when alone, I could not get past the crying part of the grief.  I would think about the loss, and the tears would surface.  One morning as the tears started filling my eyes, “All Things Must Pass” came on the radio, as if in direct response to my personal grief.  It helped put matters in perspective and offered me a handle on my grief.

When I think I’ve got my day and week all planned out, and chaos instead ensues, I hear John Lennon’s lyric from “Beautiful Boy” floating through my head:  “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”   When life deals blows that seem to come crushing down on me, I hear my Greek chorus again:  “Bang, bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer came down upon her head.”

The Beatles’ music has always been playing along either in the foreground or deep in the background as I journeyed through life.

BIO: Piper Templeton lives and works in the New Orleans area. A Liberal Arts graduate from the University of New Orleans, she loves writing fiction that mines beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary people’s lives. She combines her love of children and books by tutoring second graders in reading.

Other passions include animals, music, nature, long walks, and good laughs.

She developed a love for writing fiction in childhood and forayed into self-publishing in 2014 with her Beatles-inspired novel, Rain Clouds and Waterfalls. If you’d like to know more about Piper you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indie Spotlight on Historical Romance Author, Kirk Raeber

A trove of forgotten letters reveals a love that defied a world war.

In 1924, eight-year old Robert Campbell accompanies his missionary parents to Japan where he befriends a young Makiko Asakawa. Robert enjoys his life there, but the dark tides of war are rising, and it won’t be long before foreigners are forced to leave Japan. Torn from the people Robert has come to think of as family, he stays in contact by exchanging letters with Makiko, letters that soon show their relationship is blossoming into something much more than friendship. The outbreak of total war sweeps all before it, and when correspondence ends with no explanation, Robert fears the worst. He will do anything to find Makiko, even launch himself headfirst into a conflict that is consuming the world. Turmoil and tragedy threaten his every step, but no risk is too great to prove that love conquers all. Forgotten Letters is published by Honey Rock View Publishing and available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Audible

From a Dream, Comes a Novel…

The inspiration for “Forgotten Letters” came to me ten years ago in the form of a dream so vivid that I began to see it as the starting point for the story portrayed in Forgotten Letters. The dream began with an earthquake in the early 1900’s somewhere in Japan. My most vivid memory from the dream was not so much the destruction, which was devastating, but the strength and courage of the Japanese people in resurrecting their lives in the face of such tragedy.

Over the years, I have researched the many earthquakes that are a regular occurrence across the Japanese Islands. The “Great Kanto” of 1923 seemed to best mimic the earthquake from my dream, in particular the unstoppable fires that destroyed most of Tokyo and Yokohama. This is where my story begins.

Ironically, the two cities were again destroyed during World War II and, as they were after the “Great Kanto,” have been rebuilt by the dedicated, hard working people of that amazing country.

The story starts with Fumiko and Ichiro entering their recently deceased parent’s house.  They enter the house with thoughts of childhood memories and what to do with the dilapidated home.  Fumiko and Ichiro are both dealing with personal problems that seem to consume most of their thoughts as they wander through the house.

Ichiro finds a trapdoor to the attic and enters a dark and dusty area that has not been visited for years.  They look around the room and see old furniture and trash.  Ichiro pulls out a military footlocker with his father’s name printed on the outside.  Ichiro states “This was Dads”.  Ichiro has some difficulty opening the footlocker but is finally successful.  Inside he finds an old World War II officer’s uniform and a precisely folded cream and red colored kimono.

Underneath the two garments they discover a box which is wrapped in red foil and secured with a white ribbon that is squashed flat.  Fumiko and Ichiro look at each other thinking what secrets are in this special box.  Ichiro unties the ribbon, unfolds the paper and removes the lid.  Inside the box lie rows of letters, yellowed and stained.  The letters are in random order the earliest postmark is 1931.  The letters are correspondence between their parents.  Fumiko opens a letter postmarked 1931 and reads aloud “Dear Robert”.

When you read Forgotten Letters, remember three words from the beginning of the book and then are revisited later on.  I think the reader will smile when they read these words again.  The three words are spider, baseball and birthmark.

My sincere hope is that you will find Forgotten Letters an enjoyable read.

Bio: Kirk Raeber is an emergency room physician. He has always had a strong interest in World War II history and especially in the war in the Pacific. He served in the US Navy and was stationed in Japan for one year. Forgotten Letters is his debut novel. He lives in California with his wife and three Anatolian Shepherds. If you’d like to know more about Kirk and his books, you can visit his website: http://www.theforgottenletters.com, and/or follow him on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Forgotten-Letters-814455975239863/  and Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomkirkraeber

 

Indie Spotlight, YA Author TE Carter

Bruno Guenard / BIOSPHOTO

I STOP SOMEWHERE (releasing 2/27/18) available for pre-order in the US and UK

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it makes you slow down and think about what it is to be human.

Telling contemporary stories that focus on crime

As a reader, one of my favorite genres is crime fiction and mystery. I’m a huge fan of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, but also of traditional mysteries like those by Agatha Christie. This extends a bit into my personal life as well, as I’ve always been drawn to dark stories and crime shows on television.

When I started writing, I knew I wanted to write something that I would like to read, but for some reason, I found that writing mystery, crime fiction, and horror – despite being some of my favorite genres – didn’t come naturally to me. Instead, I began delving into contemporary fiction, which I also love. As I started writing, though, I also noticed that my reading preferences found a weird way of looping themselves into the contemporary stories I was telling. In a way, I was creating a mashup of genres I loved and telling contemporary stories that focused on crime.

My debut YA novel, I STOP SOMEWHERE is a contemporary novel at its heart. It’s about the world we live in and the things that happen to young women unfortunately. It’s also a story of a crime, but told in a different way. Instead of being about the crime itself, it’s about the reverberating effects of a crime on the people who experienced it. Ellie, the protagonist, is viciously assaulted and the story mainly focuses on her, but it also shows how this attack reaches her father, the detectives investigating the crime, other victims of the same perpetrators (as well as other victims of sexual assault not necessarily connected to the same parties), and even the reporter assigned to cover this case.

From I STOP SOMEWHERE, I continued writing in this mashup genre that one of my critique partners called a form of introspective crime fiction. My second title, releasing in 2019, is also about a crime, but it’s about a girl whose brother commits a heinous act and how his actions affect her. We frequently see stories in the news and we have a morbid fascination with dark crimes, but on the periphery of that, there’s an entire group of people affected on a daily basis by these things – well beyond the criminals and the victims themselves. In this novel, the story follows her coming of age in a world where anyone who gets a hint of her brother’s actions tries to define who she is because of him. It’s about the assumptions we make about people, as well as how we play a role in each other’s experiences.

This has grown to be an area where I enjoy writing. I like considering how actions echo and how people you forget in the storm of a murder trial, for example, live each day with that hovering over them. It’s not necessarily the same focus on the inner workings of a criminal’s mind or on the criminal procedures to track a murderer, but instead, it’s on the realistic and contemporary effects of crime on regular people. I like the label of introspective crime fiction, because crime drama is often more of a public spectacle. We don’t necessarily take the time to consider the inner conflicts and emotional turmoil it may have in real life, partly because crime fiction and mystery are still forms of escapism. I have enjoyed taking a realistic lens to these news stories and considering the questions we usually don’t ask. I think it’s given me a chance to mesh the genres I love with my own writing style and to create something new. I hope readers agree!

TE Carter was born in New England and has pretty much lived in New England her entire life (minus a few years in high school). She still lives in New England with her husband and their two cats. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading classic literature, playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions. If you’d like to know more about TE you can visit her website follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Indie Spotlight Gothic Horror & Non-Fiction Author – Julie Ann Greenawalt Hacker

What Scares YOU!?

 

Someone recently asked, “As a spiritual-metaphysical-mystical author and life coach… …what scares you?

What I’ve noticed in life, is that many people freeze in the name of FEAR. I’m not referring to your everyday type of fear like the fear of death, or car accidents, or getting sick, spiders, or the dark, not phobias or catastrophic type of fears (these nemeses we’re born into and they appear on the outside of who we are in a physical sense); but un-explainable fears hidden in the deep wells of our sub-conscious—you know, that subtle torture you don’t even know about because it creeps up on you like a soft teddy bear in the night. And suddenly, when you finally wake from your deep slumber, you realize you’re snoozing alongside an angry, ravenous black bear.

  • This bear doesn’t care that you’ve ignored the deepest parts of you. He just wants to eat your fears as they pulse inside your body.
  • He wants you to be unaware of those dark crevasses so he can continue to feed, day-after-day, year-after-year; perhaps life-after-life. And, if you can picture your very own ‘Self’ or soul being an endless supply for the angry black bear because of the unwitting ways this world teaches us to survive and live…yeah, it can get pretty intense.
  • Now multiply that fear by billions of people and you’ll get the idea.
  • But yet, we still walk around everyday either ignoring it or not being able to identify why something is “off.” This is the hidden fear.

Unidentified, this silent enemy caresses the soul deep inside and lulls us into an obscure manipulation of what we call reality. These fears creep out all over the place without our acknowledgement.

Now, picture that nasty black bear as another human being. FEAR of succumbing to the belief that another being, whether human or otherwise, would willingly suck the soul right out of your mind and body, if left to do so, is pretty scary. (This is one of the few things that used to scare the hell out of me.) And I believe these are our most ultimate questions:

Why does this happen?

What is doing it?

And how do we stop it?

The process used by these people or unidentified forces can be very clever, unless you learn what to look for.

I know, I know. This all sounds a little esoteric and whoo hoo. But, when you take the time to inspect it, I mean, get really close to it, and someone can guide you there so you’re not all alone, the sting of fear diminishes.

The headlines of my own life drove me to contemplate those very questions. And, what I found out about myself and the world blew my mind.

This is why I write Gothic horror, non-fiction/self-help, blog, and coach people just like any one reading this who can’t identify the reasons why they’re stuck in life keeping them from Stalking their own life PATH!

So, my ultimate message for this post is:

You exist in time, but you belong in eternity’s loveliness. Find the fearful secrets that keep you from being free, then, don’t be afraid of releasing them, they’re not your friends, and allow them to disintegrate forever.

Best in all your Re-WILDing & Path STALKing,

Julie Ann

!!BIG HUGS & THANK YOUs to my dear friend ANITA RODGERS for giving me this opportunity to guest post on her blog!!

If you’d like to know more about Julie Ann, her books, or her Wild Beautiful You movement connect with her on her website and facebook.

Free gifts for you!

As a special thank you to my readers, Julie Ann is offering a free PDF copy of Re-WILD Your ‘SELF’ & Stalk Your PATH! web-book, which you can get by signing up at her website.

And a free PDF copy of The Dead Dance Faster: Unsacred Awakening her awesome scary Gothic-horror novel, which you can get by emailing her at: julieann@wildbeautifulyou.com  (or by contacting her me via WBY!’s contact form on the site).