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The Power of Memories

Amanda Denham
Amanda Denham Author Interview

Sin Eater follows a woman with an ability to make people forget and who must face her own demons when she returns to her hometown. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Honestly, this story came from a lot of emotional pain I was in a few years ago. I had so many memories that I wished I could get rid of. I thought that if they were gone, I could function and move on with my life. That led to me wondering if anyone would actually do that: let someone erase their bad memories if they could choose. Jayde was already a character that I’d been drawing obsessively for years, so when I thought of that concept and needed a main character, I knew it had to be her. It finally all came together when I heard a song I loved and saw it in a new light. The song described writing down what hurts and then burning it, hence the finishing touch of Jayde erasing memories by letting her clients write them down and her setting them on fire (though I added that she can destroy them in other ways as well).

Jayde is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

A big goal for this book and all its characters was the idea of them having flaws and making mistakes, but it’s relatable or understandable. I wanted Jayde especially to not be the perfect protagonist, to show us that we all have the capacity to hurt the ones we love, no matter how close you may be with them. I’ve heard from close friends that Jayde seems to have some of my characteristics as well, though I didn’t necessarily mean for her to. I suppose I self-inserted in a way. Her character was meant to be somebody you’ve possibly met before, familiar and sympathetic, but you can also see why she regrets the things she’s done.

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

Forgiveness: of others, but most importantly for yourself. It’s strangely easier for some to forgive those who have hurt them, but they carry around the guilt of what they’ve done for way too long.

Friendship. I wanted Sin Eater to center around the idea of platonic love, to show how much it matters in our lives. While of course I cherish romantic love, I feel like my friendships will always be the reason I am who I am today.

The power of memories. Often I get lost in my own, almost like I go back in time in my mind. I wondered how much other people do that, so I thought I’d write about characters who let their memories control their decisions and feelings sometimes.

Letting go. It’s really hard to let the past go, fully and completely. That can be an ongoing battle everyday. Sin Eater was a way to vent that feeling into the world, to show the baby steps it takes to look forward to the future.

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

I’m working on a book tentatively titled “Seven Feathers.” I’m not sure when it will be available yet, as I’m still working on the first draft and trying to decide how I’ll publish. I’d love to go through a traditional publisher again, but I’ve also seen the perks of self-publishing over the last few months. I’ll keep everyone updated on its progress!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Two years ago, Jayde Holloway discovered that she had the power to erase memories in the worst way possible: by accidentally wiping her best friend Jenny’s at the end of their senior year. Now, shut off from the world, Jayde exists solely for her role as the Sin Eater, an entity who can take away a person’s every bad memory if they so wish… for a price. Jayde hates the lonely life that she’s dealt, especially under her strict boss Jak, who consistently keeps her under his watchful eye through blackmail: a constant reminder of all of her mistakes. When she must travel back to her hometown, Jayde secretly befriends two siblings with a haunted past of their own. As her own painful memories begin to overwhelm, Jayde must make a choice: remain chained to a familiar but hurtful past, or reveal all of her darkest secrets for what could be a better future.

A President in Waiting

Author Interview
Julian Mann Author Interview

I enjoyed how Victoria Pierce’s character evolved throughout the story. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Vera/Victoria’s character development were important in many respects primarily to make her believable so as to deliver to the reader the theme below (described below) so the reader would ask, “So this could actually happen?”

The USA is primed for the election of a woman president who will no doubt be a strong woman.  What I envisioned years ago with Victoria has now actually happened with Kamala Harris who does not have a clandestine past but could very well succeed to either the president or acting president under the 25th amendment.  I had many strong women in my family that informed Victoria’s character.

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

The themes that were important to me (besides the 25th Amendment) are the role the press plays in politics under the 2nd amendment. Under the constitutional provision regarding the Electoral College, originally the Vice President was the one who finished second on the balloting. Now the vice president is selected by the party’s candidate. There is considerably more vetting that goes on today than before so the likelihood of selecting a VP that has a clandestine past is now more remote. But, nevertheless, remains a concern as we know that the vice president is really a president in waiting.

My concern about the 25th amendment is the ambiguity surrounding how to proceed against an acting president that needs to be removed from office for wrongdoing or becomes incompetent. There is not a high probability this may occur but the book explores that possibility. There are other themes that will be explored in the sequel such as utilizing the president’s war powers, utilizing prior restraint of the press when subject to impeachment, the role of the press and potential military intervention.

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

Besides the sequel to MVP (at this point only in outline), I am working on a manuscript concerning the Gospel of John….to be entitled, Reading Between the Lines of the Gospel of Saint John. I am not a theologian so the concentration is dealing with what Christ faced in the real world as fully human, and his human response to those events. But the work is anchored in the actual verbatim scriptural passages that describe the events according to John’s Gospel. I am over half way through the first draft.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Victoria Pierce is not the person she claims to be. As a beautiful farm girl, living in desolation on the Oklahoma range, she escapes her draconian “parents,” hitchhikes to San Francisco, and enlists in the United States Marine Corps. After surviving the rigors of basic training, Victoria is promoted through the ranks from Private to Brigadier General. Throughout her evolution, General Pierce and United States Senator Sam Eagan carry on a torrid love affair. Victoria joins Sam’s campaign for president, first as his military consultant and later as his vice presidential candidate. No one, not even Sam Eagan, is aware of Victoria’s clandestine past, except for one anonymous and demented caller. During the presidential campaign, Victoria befriends reporter Grace Brandon, but Grace becomes increasingly suspicious of Victoria’s urban sophistication which belies an agrarian past. This leads Grace into investigative reporting that eventually unravels the truth about Victoria’s past. However, before Grace can get to the bottom of the story, Sam and Victoria win the presidential election. Not long afterwards, Victoria ascends to the office of acting president under the 25th amendment. Grace finally completes her investigation and convinces her editor to release a bombshell of a story. America is shocked. Victoria reacts. Will the story require Victoria to resign or can she survive the revelation?

A Master of Social Comedy

Author Interview
Tom Beattie Author Interview

American Fries: A Queer Farce is a whimsical play about love, equality, and marriage in both a historical and contemporary setting. What was the inspiration for the setup to your plays?

Moliere is an old buddy of mine. We met in high school French class years ago and have kept in touch ever since. When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, we decided to shelter in place together and collaborate on a play. We wanted to include some of his tried-and-true tricks of the trade, e.g., mistaken identities, overheard conversations, mischievous servants, etc., but with a modern twist. To be honest, Moliere deserves all the credit. Most of my ideas got edited out.

Your characters were interesting and I loved following them. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

As a master of social comedy/satire/farce, Moliere’s characters tended to be more “types” than individuals, but they often had big hearts that steered them right in the end. I’m hoping that’s true of American Fries.

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

As you note, my main theme is marriage equality. Those who say it’s “established law” in the U.S. so there’s no need to worry are wrong on both counts.

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

I’m currently working on a comedy of manners about the “fake news” phenomenon. Oscar Wilde is helping me out. (We ZOOM all the time.) Look for The Importance of Being Ernest Enough later this year.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Moliere meets marriage equality. A whimsical what-if play with poufy periwigs. New from Pinnacle Award winner Tom Beattie.

How Ferris Wolfe Got Fired – Book Trailer

Ferris Wolfe is flying high. Having just pulled off a major marketing coup for his small magazine, Ferris feels his star finally rising. But beneath his feet, his company is crumbling. For Aquatic Hobbyist is a publication that rewards slackers and punishes its most dedicated staff. And when a mysterious act of sabotage rocks its offices, clues point to an inside job. Someone is gunning for Publisher Wolfe. Suspects abound, but is something more going on? As crises escalate and Ferris stumbles to the end of his publishing career, the company confronts a karmic siren song that will make every office worker howl.

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As the Daisies Bloom – Trailer

Was it a chance meeting in the Daisy Cafe that brought a father and his boys from Macon, Georgia, descendants of slaves, into the life of a descendent of Swiss Mennonites, or was it the mysterious workings of the father’s grandmother, Momma Daisy? August Kibler tells the stories of his own life and the lives of Tyler, Johnny, and Jimmy through the tragedy and grief, and the joy and gratitude, that each discovered along the way. The generous spirit they share is a gift to any seeking greater understanding when you believe you have little in common. Yet it is through sharing that August discovers a deep reverence for Momma Daisy and Pappy Jemison, and for the legacy of love and mettle that defined their lives. August challenges our certitudes as, in his own life, he says, “I would rather have doubts and be wrong than to be certainly wrong.” Tyler and August bear witness to what might appear to be ordinary lives, yet which both see as nothing less than extraordinary.

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A Labyrinth of Shaped Worlds

Edward Willett Author Interview

Edward Willett Author Interview

Worldshaper follows Shawna as she discovers the ability to shape her world, but also discovers that their’s an evil entity threatening her world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

I’ve always thought it would be interesting if authors could live in the worlds they’ve created. The setup for the Worldshapers series makes that a reality. So that was one bit of inspiration.

The other was simply my desire to come up with a series idea that would allow me to write all sorts of stories. I like to compare it to Doctor Who, the greatest storytelling concept anyone has ever crafted. You can tell any story within Doctor Who because the Doctor has the ability to travel anywhere in time in space. So there have been stories set in Victorian London, in the far, far future, on strange planets…literally anything is possible. The Worldshapers series, where Shawna is tasked with travelling from world to world within a vast interdimensional Labyrinth of Shaped worlds, gathering the knowledge of their making to take to the mysterious Ygrair so she can save all of these worlds from the Adversary, likewise permits any kind of story I want to tell.

Shawna’s ability to shape worlds is intriguing and I loved exploring it in the book. What were some driving ideas behind this ability?

I think it goes back again to the power we have as writers to make changes within our stories. Most of us have had the experience of writing entire scenes or chapters that we changed our minds about and discarded. What would it be like if you were living in a world where an author did that? Something you experienced would simply never have happened…but the author would still remember it. That’s exactly what happens when Shawna shapes her world. She’s essentially a writer editing what she created on the fly. But just like changing scenes in a novel can have unexpected consequences later on, forcing the author to replot or perhaps even to change the ending from what he or she originally planned, so Shawna’s Shaping of her world keeps having unintended consequences that complicate her life.

Shawna visits many different worlds throughout the book. What were some scenes that were you favorite to write?

She only visits one world in the first book—her own—but she sees quite a lot of it. I think my favorite bits were the journey on the sailboat, the Amazon (named after a boat in a favorite series of mine as a kid, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome) and then the adventures in the tunnels of the mysterious island at the end, which reminded me of playing Dungeons & Dragons. Oh, and the time in the mountains, especially the encounter with the bear…

This is book one in your Worldshapers series. What can readers expect in book two? 

Book 2, Master of the World, just released in mass-market paperback (after coming out in trade paperback and ebook formats last fall), sees Shawna on her own, separated from her companion, Karl Yatsar, and having to make her own way across a world inspired by Jules Verne—so it’s full of strange flying machines and steampunk submarines and floating islands and weird weapons. I had a ton of fun with that one.

Book 3, The Moonlit World, will be out September 15, and the best way to sum it up is my unofficial working title, “Werewolves and Vampires and Peasants, Oh My!” It indeed takes place in a world Shaped by someone very fond of werewolves and vampires…as, of course, am I.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

For Shawna Keys, the world is almost perfect. She’s just opened a pottery studio in a beautiful city. She’s in love with a wonderful man. She has good friends.

But one shattering moment of violence changes everything. Mysterious attackers kill her best friend. They’re about to kill Shawna. She can’t believe it’s happening–and just like that, it isn’t. It hasn’t. No one else remembers the attack, or her friend. To everyone else, Shawna’s friend never existed…

Everyone, that is, except the mysterious stranger who shows up in Shawna’s shop. He claims her world has been perfect because she Shaped it to be perfect; that it is only one of uncounted Shaped worlds in a great Labyrinth; and that all those worlds are under threat from the Adversary who has now invaded hers. She cannot save her world, he says, but she might be able to save others–if she will follow him from world to world, learning their secrets and carrying them to Ygrair, the mysterious Lady at the Labyrinth’s heart.

Frightened and hounded, Shawna sets off on a desperate journey, uncertain whom she can trust, how to use her newfound power, and what awaits her in the myriad worlds beyond her own.

The Court Of Outcasts

In her latest book, Allison Rose takes us through a roller-coaster of emotions finalizing in a hopeful yet uncertain ending. The Court of Outcasts is a contemporary fantasy novel filled with treachery, betrayal, and a twist of unexpected loyalty. While it begins with the main characters; Nola and Kelty, trying to adjust to their new normal, they are yet to realize how much weirder things could get.

With the introduction of a new foe, everything goes haywire as old enemies become new friends in the pursuit of a common good. Nola, though she looks like an ordinary teenager realizes that she is far from it. Torn between her mundane high school existence and the allure of the mystical faerie world, she embarks on a journey that will eventually force her to choose one of the worlds.

On the other hand, Kelty faces trials of her own. Battling with the uncertainties of her love life and the painful reality that she may never go back home, she has to make difficult decisions about who to trust amid chaos.

While the book does inspire a sense of awe and curiosity, it can be a little hard to follow if you haven’t read the previous book. For instance, the use of mystical language like ara can take a while to wrap your head around. However, the author goes through great lengths to explain foreign concepts in simple terms. She uses a lot of descriptive language to not only explain the woodsy setting of the book but also the emotional and psychological states of the characters.

This book gives you a clear description of both the physical and personality traits of each of the characters. The story begins with gentle explanations and hints about things to come. Yet, little can prepare you for the great plot twists ahead. The story seems to intensify from page to page until it reaches a breathtaking climax. As a reader, I am yet to get the resolution I need and have ended up with great fantasies about what is to happen next.

This is a great motivation to read the sequel if there will be one. Allison has done a phenomenal  job in capturing the emotions between characters and tension in scenes, although more could be done in developing the story of supporting characters like Sayra and Lark. Another aspect that is yet to be fully explored is the romance between Nola and her love interest.

However, I do appreciate that the author could be saving this for the next book. Apart from what is on the surface, there are serious and compelling themes that subtly color the narrative. The ones that truly stand out are the importance of family and sense of belonging and perseverance through dark times. These are themes that I and many others can relate to, and it kept me devouring pages.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B0851VPMPX

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New Release This Week: A First or Final Mischief (Fayborn #3) by J. Aleksandr Wootton

If you’re new to the Fayborn series, grab yourself a copy of Her Unwelcome Inheritance to get started – and DON’T read on until you do, because the Sneak Preview below contains ***Spoilers***

Sneak Preview: A First or Final Mischief

Her aunt’s been abducted.

            Her mother is missing.

                        Her enemy is waiting.

 And the person she counted on for help is dead.

 Too late to free the Faerie Queen, Petra Godfellow and her allies face a terrible choice: Either Petra surrenders and swears to serve James Oberon, or he will torture her Aunt Penny.

 If she agrees to James’s demands, the Faerie kingdom will be restored… with James on its throne, and Petra condemned to eternal servitude. Any alternative abandons Penny to torture and her mother to an unknown fate.

 Unless, of course, the Cat chooses to intervene…

 A First or Final Mischief is available from Amazon here.

About the Author

Aleksandr Wootton is a self-confessed bookworm (“hoards books in shelves and spare rooms; likes to sleep surrounded by them”), fairytale enthusiast, and poet. He pretends to chair the Folklore department at Lightfoot College, but much prefers writing, gardening, & long conversations accompanied by a well-brewed pint.

You can contact him at www.jackwootton.com or connect with him at Goodreads.

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