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Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series as our brave heroine flees with her family into the Kentucky frontier. What direction did you want to take this novel in that was different from the first book?

After the danger caused by Papa’s covert activities in book one, I wanted readers thrust headlong into survival mode with thirteen-year-old Mary and her family.

The family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. Did you plan the plot twists before writing or did they develop organically?

I used a rough outline to keep the story moving but allowed surprises to happen naturally.

 Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important for her characters development?

Mary struggles with PTSD. She must deal with each fear and keep going. Mary rises to the task of taking charge of her siblings when Papa must care for Momma. When Mary shuts down in fear, she allows her family to care for her. Her ultimate challenge leads her to face real and imagined shadows to save her family.

Where will book three in the series take readers?

Mary hopes life at Fort Boonesborough will fulfill her dreams of a peaceful life with friends and suitors. She has her heart set on a certain someone and is determined to win him for her future husband, but Papa and the American Revolution say otherwise.

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She blames herself for the bounty onPapa’s head.

Book Two in the Dangerous Loyalties series–a historical novel for teens–continues the riveting story of Daughters of the American Revolution patriot Mary Shirley McGuire.

It’s late summer in the Alleghany Highlands, 1775. Colonial Virginia has resolved to support the American Revolutionary cause for liberty. The British are determined to retain control of the fur trade and keep frontiersmen fighting Indians instead of joining the Continentals.

Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley is still recovering from emotional wounds inflicted when she risked her life delivering traitorous dispatches. She trusted the wrong men, and now the family must flee Indian Creek to stay ahead of British Loyalist who seek her papa’s life.

But they can’t risk being captured by taking the main road to Daniel Boone’s trail that leads into Kentucky territory. They must endure the more dangerous and grueling hunter’s path that leads to rough frontier forts along the Clinch River.

Passions are ignited, friendships are formed, and shocking lessons are learned.

Papa ignores the warnings to wait for other travelers, causing Mary’s anxieties to worsen. Once they cross the Cumberland Gap, they’re at the mercy of God and the Chickamauga Cherokee to make it to Fort Boonesborough alive. Frontiersmen tell them the settlement of Fort Boonesborough isn’t defendable, and Mary doesn’t want to continue. Papa is confident that the Indians are too busy preparing for winter to raid.

A few days from the fort, Mary is feeling hopeful for the future. Then disaster strikes, leaving the family devastated and heartbroken. There is no other choice. Mary must lay aside paralyzing fear and excruciating pain to save her family before time runs out.

Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two) invites readers to experience traveling the dangerous wilderness trails with Mary and her family through thick wild forests of Southwest Virginia and into Kentucky territory that leads straight into a Native American hornet’s nest. Mary just wants to make it Fort Boonesborough and live in peace.

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Black Overalls

Black Overalls

Black Overalls by Tom Donaldson is an all-American tale of home-grown heroism, set in the struggling farms of Texas during the 1960’s. We follow Roy, failed football prospect turned journalist, as he digs into the history of his football idols – and discovers the tale of an unexpected hero. The story takes us from backwater Texas counties, to the State championships, to the horrors of Vietnam, and beyond. We find two seemingly separate lives are more intertwined than we think, and that there’s not much a small town with a big heart can’t do.

The comeback story has a universal appeal – you don’t have to know much about the game in question to appreciate the little guy standing up to the big team. And that’s exactly what this book is: a classic underdog story.

Black Overalls oozes with heart. Tom Donaldson clearly cares deeply about his subject, about the setting, about old-fashioned American values. The book touches on era-appropriate controversies, particularly around race, which culminates in war-torn Vietnam. I have to admit, it’s not where I expected the book to go. But it gives the story a touchingly human element and a feel-good ending. It’s nice to read a book where there’s no shocking twist, no depressing revelation; just a happy ever after. Occasionally that’s to a fault – scenes can lack conflict sometimes – but you certainly come out of it feeling okay about the human race.

This book is obviously a passion project for the author, but it struggles with a lack of proper grammar and punctuation. The pacing is sometimes confusing. The mixed perspective can occasionally jump between past and present without warning or context. And some chapters are often just technical descriptions of matches, venues, plays and lists of scores more comparable to Match of the Day.

Despite the flaws, a need for an editor, and dry sports commentary, I enjoyed Black Overalls immensely. If you’re a football fan or just looking for a short, light read then I think you might just enjoy it too.

Pages: 145 | ASIN: B01BNR347O

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Uniquely American

Kwen Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen Griffeth Author Interview

The Law of Moses is a captivating western novel that paints a vivid picture of life in the American west. What were your sources of inspiration as your created this world that Sam lives in?

I’ve always enjoyed Westerns. I grew up reading Louis L’Amour, Clair Huffaker, and even today, I enjoy Craig Johnson and Tony Hillerman. The western is uniquely American and even modern heroes are compared to the tales of Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and such. All too often, in my opinion, the western hero is portrayed as shallow. I asked what if a soldier from the 1800’s became sick with an illness not identified or understood until the late 1900’s? I’m talking about PTSD. I grew up in the west, I’ve studied the west and I spent two decades in the military around men who suffered from PTSD. I was compelled to write the story. I knew I got it right, when I received an email from an 82-year-old veteran of the Korean War and he told me Sam inspired him.

Sam has a tumultuous past and lives a dangerous life while being a very deep character. How did you set about creating his character?

As I mentioned, I was blessed to work for several years in a rehabilitation center for troubled veterans. Many of them had alcohol problems, as the most common remedy veterans find is intoxication. Underneath, the illness attacks the spirit, the humanity of the soldier, and all too often, the alcohol is a secondary problem. Serious? Yes, but secondary. Sam is a blending of several men I worked with. I purposely made Sam a non-drinker (essentially) as I wanted the reader to focus on the real issues suffered by veterans, anger, guilt, loss, failure and loss of faith. It was important to me that Sam, after years of suffering, not meet a beautiful woman and suddenly be cured. In the story, the first “person” Sam connects with is a stray dog. Kind of like Sam, himself.

I felt that the backdrop, time frame and use of guns was very well used. Did you do any research to maintain accuracy?

Anyone who writes historical/fiction is obligated to the reader to do full and complete research. Every gun, the cattle trails, and the battles are accurate. Sam grew up in Elmira New York. In actuality, Elmira was not only a rally point for Union troops going south, there was a POW camp in the later stages of the war. The death rate of the prisoners matched those of Andersonville in Georgia. The Confederate soldiers housed there referred to the camp as “Hellmira.”

Even the weather conditions for the Battle at Antietam was researched as best as records kept for that time frame. The retelling of that battle is accurate with the one exception of the Forty-duce from New York.

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

I currently have “Dead Men Walking,” book two of the Nate and Clare series (The Tenth Nail), with my editor. She tells me the book should be ready late May or early June. We are shooting for June 1st. I am working on my first fantasy/crime drama/romance and it is a story of werewolves. As always, I strive to make my characters as “human” as possible. “The Shadow on the Moon,” working title is planned to be ready this fall.

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The Law of Moses (Sam and Laura's Story)Samuel Cardiff had a plan. He had recently graduated from the Teachers College and now he was returning home. The first goal completed, his next step was to find a position and then he could get married.

Samuel was a quiet man, some would say a pacifist. He believed in God, family and education. He was not concerned with the happenings outside his home town.

Outside events, however, were about to drag him from his beloved Elmira. It was the spring of 1861 and Confederate forces had recently attacked Fort Sumter.

Against every moral belief, he enlisted in the Union Army and with his first step toward the south, he changed his life forever.

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The Perfect Teresa

The Perfect Teresa

Take a moment and remember what happened to you in high school. For some people, this was a den of depression, oppression and pain. As teenagers, we’re severely lacking in skill and experience, yet we need to navigate a world that expects us to act like grown ups. Many a poor decision has been made in high school that can go on to affect our lives for decades afterwards. In The Perfect Teresa by Ulises Silva we have an example of just that. Our protagonist is a jaded 43-year old woman working in corporate America. She surely hasn’t had it easy and while not everything can be blamed on her high school experience, what she clings to from that time is definitely ruling her life. Teresa can’t move forward and she’s trapped in this sad, drunken life where happiness eludes her. It’s not until she crashes hard into rock bottom that she is given a chance for a do-over, thanks to a talking coyote.

Our protagonist isn’t all quite there. It’s clear that she’s broken and she’d rather blame everyone else than accept any sort of responsibility for it. This tale is told in the first person and is showcased in such a way that it feels like the reader is Teresa herself. We’re privy to her thoughts, her neurosis and her desperate attempt at avoiding herself. She’s miserable and her life sucks. There is no denying that. Silva does an excellent job with the imagery and how the story jumps around Teresa’s mind. It’s hard to do that and keep the story on track. Silva is clearly talented in this realm.

Even the time skip is well done. It’s hard to shift from present day to the past and keep in mind how things have changed: technology, manner of speech, what is and isn’t popular with teenagers. Silva either did some great research or potentially tapped into their own past in order to recreate what it was like in the late ‘80’s for teenagers. This isn’t easily done, and the book is better for it.

Using deities from various mythologies can be a bit messy, but Silva focuses on what would suit our protagonist. She is of Latin-American descent and the use of Quetzalcoatl and our friendly talking-coyote Piltzintecuhtli, or Pill for short, makes sense. For an Aztec deity, Pill dislikes the use of profanity and seems to have an attachment to Teresa. It is well known that the gods will favour a mortal here and there for their own amusement. Is Pill the same?

Combining a slice-of-life with a timeslip can bring about a unique experience. Instead of the washed-up twenty-something that usually happens in stories like this we have a woman who has really lived her life and come to regret it. The Perfect Teresa by Ulises Silva is a story about self-search, self-love and acceptance. What Teresa accomplishes through her foray through time is a lesson to be learned by all. This is a must read for anyone looking for excitement, adventure and even just that gentle reminder that things will be okay.

Pages: 421 | ASIN: B06XG2GT22

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Proud American

Proud American5 Stars

This collective memoir recounts the history of Sergio Tinoco, a migrant worker born in the USA accidentally, and his life as he maneuvers the complicated world of privileges and adventures. The storytelling is light and intuitive, offering a beautiful insight to the world of a maturing American trapped within a completely different frame-of-mind within his grandparents, who had raised him. As the years progress through Tinoco’s smooth narrative you see how his growth manifests in impressive ways as he joins the army and continues his life as a strong individual and proud American.

A tough beginning gives Sergio a critical and unique insight to the world that is clearly delivered through the narrative of the story, which is a tale about the author’s own beginnings and his growth into an adult. He was born into an immigrant family, having to be raised by his grandparents who were located in the US instead of his biological mother who was stuck in Mexico.

One aspect that is heavily played into in the beginning of the story is the itching desire to escape your hometown, your family, and reach a greater place. Most kids and teenagers feel this way, I believe, despite what kind of upbringing they had. It’s inspiring to read how that path opens up for a young soldier with such a rich background.

Fear and ambition is a common element in the history of Sergio, and the way he writes really draws readers in and lets them experience the emotions he feels during the twists and turns of his life. There are not many other characters aside from the storyteller, just brief occurrences of names and influences as years pass by in a beautiful trail of words and imagery. The narrative is quite similar to how our real lives unfold, full of minor characters and events that help mold and craft us into the people we stand as today. The same is true for Sergio, and the story is patriotic and full of struggles and achievements that you can share in while reading.

Every few pages readers are treated with an image of the author, sometimes accompanied by other family members and friends, or just of an action he has told us about. It’s a great way to connect with his audience and it really helped me get a picture of the life he lived and how it affected him.

Since I didn’t have an upbringing or lifestyle even remotely close to what Sergio’s environment, it was very interesting to read about, and I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about things foreign to me. The writing was thought-provoking, and I enjoyed the little instances of humor that were thrown in. Seeing the evolution of Sergio and his mindset over the years as he thinks back was a really enjoyable read, and I loved the way he painted vivid images and made me understand how his mind worked. A truly beautiful story.

ISBN: 1635241952

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First-Hand Experience With The World of Drug Addiction

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

American Flowers is a fantastic story that follows Chris who’s a drug addicted young man trying to find his way in life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write about drug addiction in this way?

I made a lot of poor decisions when I was a teen and gained first-hand experience with the world of drug addiction. Most particularly the meth subculture. I witnessed young people completely unravel their lives in weeks. A lot of times it begins with no more than a weekend of partying. Meth addiction is insidious in that way. I came out the other side. Many never do. All these years later I feel compelled to share some of my experience with others. I don’t think there’s many of us here in the U.S. who hasn’t been affected by drug addiction in some way; either first-hand or through a loved one or coworker.

After Chris meets Allie, a young lady who has her own set of problems, and gets her addicted to the needle, things go south quickly. How did you set about creating their relationship and what did you want it to be like in the end?

Their relationship was toxic from the start. Chris was already deep into his addiction and Allie was vulnerable, regardless of her self-confident exterior. As far as setting it up and where I wanted it to lead, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve written three novels and several short stories and I’ve never written an outline. I just let the story sort of go where it wants to go.

I felt that there was some inspiration from Stephen King in this intriguing story. What authors have been an inspiration for you in this story and in your writing?

I’ve always been amazed by Stephen King’s talent for writing truly three-dimensional characters and his ability to tell engaging stories in plain language. I believe these two things are the main reasons he’s so successful. Beverly Cleary is responsible for my earliest interest in reading, and John Steinbeck and Harper Lee inspired to write about social issues.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will the book be published?

My third novel is completed but as of today I still haven’t decided on a title. The story is set in the 19th century and it deals with racial tensions and injustices in the years immediately following the civil war. The events are seen through the eyes of a freed slave, a wealthy heiress, a disgraced army lieutenant, and a Native American. I feel it’s timely. I hope to have it on the market (complete with title) in the next six weeks or so.

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American Flowers by [McLellan, Michael A.]People thought nineteen-year-old Chris Shafer had everything going for him. Lives, however, are rarely as they appear from the outside, and not all scars are visible. Seventeen-year-old Allie Laughton’s life is turned upside down when her trust in another is horribly betrayed. Finding herself in a strange town, a chance meeting with Chris Shafer changes her life—and his—forever. American Flowers follows the lives of Chris and Allie as circumstance and poor choices transform them from promising, young adults to something else entirely. Caught in the undertow of drugs, crime, and death, their lives spin out of control. Ultimately pursued, they are forced to reconcile the people they believed they were, with the people they’ve become.

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Player

Player3 StarsWhen twenty-year-old Chloe gets a scholarship to a university in South Texas, she’s more than happy to leave behind memories of a horrendous car accident that occurred two years earlier in her homeland of England. A fish out of water in the small, Texan town, Chloe immediately finds a friend in her roommate. Parker is an All-American football star at St. Joseph’s University in Texas. Known throughout campus as the ultimate ladies man, he’s just as surprised as his friends when he meets Chloe and can’t seem to shake her from his mind. While Parker’s interest in Chloe grows, she makes it known that she is a relationship girl only. Will he be able to change his ways? And can she finally outrun the ghosts that chase after her?

M.L. Sparrow’s Player: What Happens on Campus #1, appears to be a thoroughly entertaining attempt in kick-starting a series about these college students from a small university in Texas. Two worlds collide as British born Chloe and American raised Parker navigate separate sides of this story to bring it together as a whole.

The author does do a thorough job in keeping the story moving and keeping the reader on seat’s edge. Sparrow does not skimp on the drama, throwing plot twists and new characters into the mix to keep the story moving along at a speedy pace. The many plot twists and heightened drama alone make this story a worthwhile read for anyone looking to enjoy some easy entertainment.

Pages: 235 | ASIN: B01HH8GEF2

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