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Fun and Terrifying to Imagine

C.C. Berke
C.C. Berke Author Interview

Man, Kind follows two women on a headlong and perilous journey that may decide the fate of humanity. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve always been fascinated with post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. It’s both fun and terrifying to imagine a demolished world where there are little resources left and even fewer people to share them with. However, the genre as a whole was beginning to feel a little stale for me. The question always is, “How do I get rid of most of the people on Earth?” and the answer has almost always been nuclear war, global pandemics, or zombie outbreaks. But why not the real, much more imminent threat of climate change? And why must a mysterious, indestructible male savior always lead the way in these tales? I knew there had to be a more interesting, compelling, and grounded way to approach the apocalypse, and that’s what I set out to do when writing “Man, Kind”.

Juno was an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Juno, the thirteen year old protagonist of “Man, Kind”, was meant to experience the post-climate-changed world alongside the reader. From the very first pages you discover that Juno had just been abandoned by her mother and now has to navigate this new, frightening, and violent world on her own. You both have questions, and you both want answers, and you get to embark on her epic journey together.

One of my favorite traits of Juno’s is that she’s also relentlessly curious. Whether she’s exploring an abandoned building, interacting with dubious characters, or simply taking a break to write down her own thoughts in a journal, you’re always right there with her; feeling what she’s feeling, wondering what she’s wondering, and smiling when she’s smiling.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Climate change is the primary one. Mainly, how does humanity live on after mother nature has exacted her revenge? It’s true that human pollution not only affects the weather, but also our own bodies at the cellular level. Plastics, fossil fuels, greed, they all play a part in our current world as well as “Man, Kind’s” future one. So how do we cope with such truths? And what can we do about it now?

The other themes I wanted to cover were grief and kindness; the “kind” of “Man, Kind”. Many, if not all, of the characters in this story are grey characters. They’ve all suffered losses, they all have their own motives, and not one of them fully trusts the other. I really wanted to drive home the question, “Will kindness still play a role in the wasteland?”

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently on the home stretch of an illustrated short story compilation called “Destination Earth”. Each story deals with existential questions we must ask ourselves throughout our lives, but told through weird, dark, and often humorous points of view. Available fall of this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

The climate has changed. Pollution has sterilized the human race. Few stragglers remain.

From the top of the tallest skyscraper in Denver, Colorado, a lonely girl named Juno watches the sun and sand torment the Rocky Mountains day in and day out. She wonders why she was abandoned so suddenly, wonders if she will ever see her mother again, and wonders why, on her thirteenth birthday, a mysteriously scarred woman has just shown up to kidnap her.

But there’s no time to explain.

Instead the woman makes three things painfully clear: Juno is being hunted, their only hope at safety is on the opposite side of the Rockies, and that this journey will be the hardest thing either of them has ever done.

As the resentful duo races across an unpredictable environment, Juno will also have to grapple with unpredictable changes of her own. She’ll stumble upon what mankind left behind, and learn why things ended up the way they are. Then, once Juno discovers how important she truly is, she’ll be forced to decide just who she can trust, and who she’ll have to leave behind…

Mad Max meets The Road and An Inconvenient Truth in this epic climate fiction adventure!

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol (Skylar Robbins mysteries Book 5) by [Carrie Cross]

Skylar Robbins has been preparing for this for months. Daniel made a promise to be her partner in the next ACE adventure, and she believes he meant what he said. As part of the elite group of students who take part in the Accelerated Courses and Experiments program, Skylar and Daniel are no strangers to adventure and mystery. The only mystery right now, however, is how Hannah Hilton made it into the program and why Daniel seems to have forgotten that Skylar exists. What promised to be a fantastic summer is now looking like a huge disappointment. Will the trip to Koma Island turn things around for Skylar or will it be more than they all bargained for?

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol, by Carrie Cross, is centered around young Skylar Robbins–gifted and talented and a member of ACE. With all the angst and stresses of late middle and early high school years, she is the perfect protagonist for today’s young readers. It is refreshing to still see writers placing an intelligent and forward-thinking female lead in their stories, and Skylar rivals and surpasses the budding detectives many of us are used to–Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. Kudos to Cross for putting motivated and capable young women at the forefront of her series. Our middle school readers need to see this more regularly.

Mysteries need to pop. They need to move quickly and hold the reader’s interest, especially when younger readers are the group toward which a series is aimed. Cross is a master at this. Skylar thinks quickly on her feet, and her friendship with Alexa provides a nice sounding board for her ideas. There lies within Cross’s work an amazing little cast of characters that provides readers with plenty of opportunities to visualize a vast array of personality types. It’s nice to see such a well-drawn cast of characters–all having wonderful quirks and offering their own contributions to Skylar’s role in the story.

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol, by Carrie Cross is a rip-roaring young adult adventure/romance story that will keep readers on their toes. Centered around current technology and full of references younger readers will appreciate, this book has everything needed to engage readers and keep them coming back for more from Skylar and her gifted cohort.

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B08P5VXBQ5

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A Place to Hide

A Place to Hide by [David Salner]

Set in early twentieth-century New York, A Place to Hide by David Salner narrates the story of Bill Waite, a fugitive. He escapes from Montana’s merciless boss and arrives in New York in the hope of starting a new chapter in life. There he discovers a friend and confidant in Virgil Shulman, who helps him secure a job.

Shulman is the first-ever man of Jewish descent that Waite meets, and he learns a great deal about the Yiddish culture, history, and religion. While trying to help a child, Waite falls in love with her mother, and finally finds happiness in life after years of suffering. But his peace doesn’t last long as he comes into the public eye via newspaper coverage after saving someone’s life. To know how he manages to dodge these circumstances and find the light at the end of the tunnel, you have to dive into this gripping novel.

A Place to Hide has an intriguing narrative that delves into a fugitive’s psyche and allows us to explore his side of the story. The author skillfully conveys thought-provoking messages through this work while keeping the readers glued to the pages. Waite is wholeheartedly embraced by the new culture that he finds himself in, and he learns to celebrate the differences among religions, rather than having a biased outlook on life. While working on the tunnel-making project, the tremendously risky job ties the workers in a single thread, where nation, race, or religion become irrelevant. They share a camaraderie untainted by the worldly evils that attempt to discriminate and differentiate one human from another.

Throughout this action-packed novel, I was surprised by the consistently high level of intrigue throughout the novel, possibly due to the authentic and emotive characters. This riveting historical fiction story offers insight into the lives of people during the 1920s, the prevalent societal issues and morality, bound together with suspense and a touch of humor.

The powerful storytelling, the lucid language, the carefully crafted plot, the thrilling action, and the element of suspense are some of the key aspects that make this book a must-read. A Place to Hide is an emotionally resonant and stimulating story that is as exciting as it is enlightening.

Pages: 216 | ASIN:  B08TWGQP43

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Phoebe’s Identity is Revealed

L. Samuels
L. Samuels Author Interview

Phoebe Douse: The Return has a dramatic turn of events that test the students abilities and reveal Phoebe’s destiny. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?

New ideas introduced would be that book 2 answered some unanswered questions from book 1. An important part of Phoebe’s identity is revealed. And the elements of life and death danger and fear, I believe, are intensified.

I thought this story was fun and I enjoyed the unique twists. What was the funnest scene for you to write?

I’m so happy you enjoyed all the different twists and turns in the story! One of the funnest scenes to write was the chapter called, The Factory. I wanted it to have a very intense, mysterious vibe that heightened the drama of the story and have a big reveal. Definitely a chapter that I like to reread, even on its own.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

My main challenges were setting mini deadlines for writing so that I could finish the book on time. Another challenge was making sure that I remained true to each character as the plot developed. I knew I wanted there to be growth and conflict within each character as well as between characters, but at the same time, I didn’t want to veer away from the essence of who each of them are.

This is book two in the Phoebe Douse Trilogy. What can readers expect in the final book?

Honestly, this is still a mystery even to me. I’m currently outlining the plot, which has been a bit tricky since I have so many ideas and ways in which I’m imagining the story could go. I’ve decided that I’m not going to plan too much ahead. For book 3, I’d like for the story to develop organically. So I’m excited to see where this final book will take me!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | | Instagram | Facebook | Website

The Fadrix wasn’t destroyed. It never can be. And its return helps Phoebe during a wild, unexpected holiday detour into the bustling city of London. While literally escaping the dangerous clutches of rogue members, Phoebe must use the little time she has and work alongside Renaud and Colin to decipher an important vision. Making their way back to The Murray School, Phoebe and her friends remain secluded as they continue their training. But are they safe? With all its secrets, the school has a way of bringing out the truth. Friendships are challenged. The seen and unseen lurk about. Students’ abilities are tested. And the imprisoned Headmaster Duff has made an unusual request―he will cooperate with S3A2 if, and only if, he speaks with Phoebe alone. In this second book of the trilogy, difficult choices have to be made as the survival of S3A2, Phoebe, and her friends hang in the balance. And Phoebe discovers a shocking truth that reveals her destiny but also threatens her entire world.

The Penitent: Part I

The Penitent: Part I by [A. Keith Carreiro, Hollis Machala, Jamie Forgetta]

The Penitent: Part I by Keith Carreiro is a sprawling sci-fi fantasy novel. It also has a healthy dash of horror, war, and tragedy. Needless to say, it is a little bit intense but it is a satisfying and well-told story. It is about Pall Warren, an ostracized young man who does not know why he is doomed to live on the outskirts of life. Yet he makes peace with this and continues his difficult existence. Slowly, his background is revealed to us, and Pall finds meaning in his journey to find the truth. He pairs up with a mysterious archer, John Savage and the two form an uneasy but loyal partnership.

Pall lives a tough life and it was difficult to read about his daily pain and struggle, almost as terrible as his past. He has a lot of grit and moral strength, and manages to navigate life with his head held high. John is, as they say, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. I found his parts very entertaining as he was a droll and captivating character- probably my favorite. Towards the end, Evangel is also briefly mentioned- I’m very interested to know what part she plays in Pall’s life.

The story starts off slow and doesn’t shy away from laying out the atrocities and horror of Pall’s life. Some parts are gruesome, violent, and downright depressing but I think those parts were important in forming Pall. They may seem gratuitous, but as the story developed, I could see that this is what made Pall a consistent and strong character. The author brilliantly displays the psychology of people amidst war. The ruthlessness, and ultimately, pointlessness of political struggles seemed to be the root of evil to me.

The Penitent: Part I is an emotional rollercoaster of a story that looks at both sides of life. It shows how hope and despair can easily be a part of one’s fate when one has little control. Ultimately, it is about digging to find the truth and to have an unflinching moral code against one’s enemies. That’s what makes the characters and this story so likable. The nail-biting ending was superb and I nearly wanted to scream at the suspense. A thrilling beginning to a riveting epic fantasy series.

Pages: 293 | ASIN: B07W9F44LK

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Life’s Possibilities

Russell H. Plante
Russell H. Plante Author Interview

Journey Home – A Cat’s Tale follows the life of a cat that’s been abandoned and must find new meaning in life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I was inspired to write this story because of a cat that was discovered in a dumpster with his leg caught in a steel jaw trap and brought to an animal shelter. My wife and I learned of his plight from the shelter’s newsletter and we adopted him. He lived with us for almost 18 years and was an important part of our family. I thought a story about his journey to find a home needed to be told because there are so many homeless animals like him. Animals that share their lives with us all make a difference in our own lives.

The story is written from a cat’s perspective; about life’s possibilities and the lessons we can all learn during our journey. I wanted to share his story, hoping it might teach people to have compassion and hope. Perhaps a reader would then pause and reflect upon their lives. I wanted people to understand such homeless animals teach us compassion, trust, and love throughout the years, and so much more. The book is dedicated to him.

The animals felt authentic and were endearing. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The story was inspired by actual events, and several of the animals created as characters in the story were actually real. Their interaction with one another is similar to people and as the story progressed and developed so didn’t their behavior and human characteristics within themselves and others.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There were many, simply because portions of the book were based upon actual events. Each Chapter contained lessons in life from which we all can learn. The following is only a portion of life’s themes throughout the story:

-We all fear what we don’t know or understand.
-Drastic things can happen to anyone in a short period of time.
-We all face an eventuality of being on our own, and that reality can be difficult to accept if the choice is not ours.
-We don’t always appreciate what we have until it’s gone.
-Age begets wisdom.
-Understand yourself better by putting yourself in the place of others and treating them as you would want to be treated.
-Learn to share.
-There is usually more to gain than lose by having a peaceful compromise instead of a physical confrontation.
-Sometimes we have no choice but to handle situations we don’t want to face.
-There’s a little good in everyone.
-Everyone has good days and bad days; it’s all part of life.
-Be kind and gentle no matter your size.
-There are times when size and strength don’t matter; they can be overtaken by using your wit.
-There are those times when no matter what you do, the outcome can remain the same; but at least you should try.
-Even though you might have different backgrounds and opinions, it doesn’t mean you can’t be friends or share the same principles.
-Sometimes things aren’t as you first perceive them to be.
-Sometimes you need to take responsibility and find a solution on your own.
-There may be times when you don’t think you can move on and wonder if you should, but always remember to keep a willingness to go on.
-Things that you experience will always be a part of who you are.
-Be thankful for what you have.
-Patience is a virtue.
-Time is just a matter of relevance.
-Even though friends may leave, you really never lose them; they are always there within you.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My third novel, “A Sense of Purpose” was recently published and, although independent, could be considered a sequel to “Journey Home – A Cat’s Tale”. It is a story about the life of Chester, a cat that was an important character in “Journey Home-A Cat’s Tale”. It is a compelling story about how Chester’s life affected others in so many ways, providing a philosophical message to the reader that there is a sense of purpose to everyone’s life. The story is also based upon actual events.

My fourth novel, “The Path Before Me” is a Middle Grade novel based upon “Journey Home-A Cat’s Tale” and is currently under a publishing contract to be released sometime in the next few months. Young readers (ages 8 to 12) who have a love for animals and pets of their own will be drawn to this story; a story that provides a sense of social and emotional learning. It is important for everyone to better understand emotions, compassion, empathy for others, and the value of hope; all are elements relevant to developing a healthier society. Not only are educators searching for ways to introduce such social aspects of learning in order to make the future a better place, but parents are as well. This story provides an opportunity to learn by example and teach us a thing or two about ourselves—a great book for the Middle Grade classroom and the in-home library.

I am currently writing my fifth novel, a philosophical science fiction story about UFO’s and why Earth has never been contacted by other civilizations. I still have a lot of research left to do while I am developing the story.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Website

JOURNEY HOME – A CAT’S TALE is a story based upon the actual life of a cat found abandoned in a dumpster, left to die. Born in a small town on the coast of Maine, an unpretentious cat named ‘Patches’ encounters life changing experiences during his first two years. Discarded by an uncaring owner and left homeless without food or shelter, he wanders the streets to piece his life back together. Along the way, he discovers new friends like Chester, a relocated cat from New York City and Buster, a neighborhood stray, who teaches him how to fend for himself.

Late one night during a violent blizzard, a series of events abruptly changes his life once again after he saves Buster from a fire and then returns to the garbage dumpster for a local diner to seek shelter and food. As he jumps into the dumpster, his leg is ensnared by the steel jaws of a leg-trap. He feels the sharp, razor-like teeth cut into him, and the fear of dying or losing his foot becomes reality. Like the doleful cry of an incessant wind, memories of his past and unanswered questions about his father’s abandonment engulf his thoughts.

Will he discover what has become of his siblings, find a new home, and ever understand his father’s message and why he abandoned him? Will he survive the cold darkness and discover once again a path that leads to the understanding he seeks?

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas – Book Trailer

An award-winning unput-downable tale of two children building a boat from a log they find buried in the sand and sailing off to far-off fantastic lands in a stormy sea-driven adventure with their faithful – but accident-prone – dog Holly. There they learn much wisdom from a king who, like God, has many names’. After an incredible sacrifice of his dearest dream by the boy (now growing up) they return – another dream – to a family tea with their loved ones. The tale is a prequel and companion to Ruth Finnegan’s award-winning epic romance ‘Black inked pearl’, here adapted for preteens but characterised by (in a simpler form) the same unique dream-like and enchanted style as in the original novel.

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Temple Of Ice

Temple of Ice

Temple of Ice by Christian Cura is a thrilling fantasy novel set in a frozen land with ruthless monsters roaming about. It centers around Tama and her two friends, Kachina and Masou, as they complete their training as winter mages. To do that though, they must face numerous trials, including an evil goddess sending out minions to break her out of her prison.

Temple of Ice is set in the intriguing world of Perimar and on the continent Khione. The setting seems dire, but is the beautiful descriptions really bring the backdrop to life, Khione is a frozen continent with marvelous landscapes covered in snow and ice but little else. The setting is somewhat of a canvas that author Christian Cura fills with all sorts of creative beings and characters to create a truly vibrant world. So much so, that the mere descriptions of snowy fields, or ice molded homes, or beautiful star laden skies against majestic mountains were a delight to read. Khione was also littered with a variety of fantasy beasts roaming the world, all of them wildly different to each other, my favourite the avak – was giant four-winged bird. These didn’t stay on page long as new creatures were introduced, ensuring readers never get bored of them. The culture of those living here was just as well-crafted as the physical world with new traditions, customs, and an ice-based magic system that felt unique and fit in well in this world.

The protagonist, Tama, starts out mischievous and grows into a stronger, more mentally resilient, individual. This fantasy character archetype was executed well but I wanted to see something more to make it really stand out. The side characters in the main cast helped with this though, as their pasts and motivations were strong and just as interesting.

Fight scenes were common throughout and the best aspect of them was their coherency. The magic was used solidly without any deus ex machinas but the main positive for me was how well they flowed together. It was never a jumble of fists and ice spears but each action had a reaction that kept it engaging throughout. Overall, the setting was great, the actions and characters were well-written but perhaps due to the small page count, the pacing felt rushed which left me wanting more of the characters and their relationships.

Temple of Ice is an action-filled sword and sorcery novel. With a well crafted magic system, an interesting setting and fascinating characters, fantasy fans will find plenty to love in Christian Cura’s suspenseful novel.

Pages: 236

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