The Bug Boys vs. Professor Blake Blackhart follows Alex and Ian who still have nanobots inside them and retain the ability to take on the different aspects of bugs they swallow. What direction did you want to take this book that was different from the first story?
Well the first book was the origin story. How the kids got their powers, and a lot of get-to-know-you stuff, where they live, etc. In the second book, I didn’t have to go over all that again, at least not as much, so I focused on upping the ante with bigger bugs, robots, action, and a proper super villain character. I also wanted to explore what being a hero was all about.
The writing in your novel is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
This is my writing style. I like to keep things moving along at a brisk pace, and I always jump on an opportunity to see the funny side.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
Thank you! As a kid I was always a story teller. More recently I set up my own movie review blog, and after a couple of years doing that I decided I was ready to construct a full novel. Since I’ve watched and analysed so many films (and books, I read a lot too) I think I’ve got a good handle on what’s needed in a story. It also doesn’t hurt to review one’s work with critique groups either!
Will there be a book three in The Bug Boys series? If so, where will it take readers?
There will, eventually! Tentatively titled, The Bug Boys and The Bullet Ant Queen. This one will spend a lot more time exploring the alien’s planet (The Bug Boys are going to visit!), while I explore the subjects of change, and the environment. This one will likely take a bit longer to put together as I also have another novel I’m working on. Something for adult readers, a little afterlife dramedy!
The fantastic superhero adventure that began with The Bug Boys continues! Alex Adams and Ian Harris take on Blake Blackhart, a disgraced Oxford professor. He discovers the boys’ source of power and plots to use the Secti’s alien technology to wreak havoc across the galaxy.
With a proper real-life supervillain in the village, the boys must step up their superhero game if they are to put a stop to the professor’s nefarious schemes. Along the way, they make new friends, and they encounter new bugs and superpowers. With the fate of the galaxy in the balance, the boys dig deep within themselves to truly understand what it means to be a hero!
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Spinner is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a horror, supernatural, and urban fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I never plan to genre-cross when I write, but it happens organically. My mind doesn’t see niches or genres because I don’t like labels (which publishers do like because they feel niches are easier to market to.) I usually start with an idea or a character and build from there. For Spinner, the idea was a boy in a wheelchair who could heal everyone but himself. From there I populated the story with characters I hope readers will care about, and considered the possible threats to such a uniquely gifted boy from those seeking to exploit him. I love horror stories, so adding in an element of the supernatural came easily. I tried to send my characters on a journey that crosses genres and can be enjoyed even by those who don’t like horror. The disabilities of the characters are based on real kids I taught as a special educator, and I wanted to celebrate the reality that for all of us, our abilities outweigh our disabilities.
Alex is a spinner, capable of taking on others emotions, physical ailments, and pains. What was the inspiration for Alex’s abilities?
I have always been very emphatic, and knew early on I could never be a doctor or someone who deals with suffering on a daily basis because I’d feel the pain of the other person way too much. However, all walks of life have suffering, and I’ve experienced it in many people, especially kids I’ve taught or worked with as a juvenile hall volunteer. I so badly wanted to take their pain away that the character of Alex was born in my mind – someone who could not just listen empathetically, but actually remove the pain from the other person and then expel it from himself. It took many years to bring the character, and his story, to fruition, and the result is Spinner.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I think Roy was my favorite because he has other struggles besides his learning disability, and because of his intense loyalty to Alex. Friendship is a major theme in all of my books because I believe it is the purest form of love, and the friendship Roy, Alex, and the other characters have for each other is more powerful than all the forces pitted against them. I’ve known far too many kids like Roy who think they’re losers because society says they have little or no worth, and I wanted to bring that kind of character to life so readers can see, with clarity, that society is wrong.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I have written three novels aimed at the teen+ market and one for middle grade, all different in plot, genre, tone, and even narrative point of view, but thus far none of them have generated interest from publishers or agents. In my mind, I have outlined the two sequels to Spinner that will tie up all the plot threads, but I’ll see how Spinner sells first. If there is enough interest, I’ll write them. At this point, I can’t say when I will have a new book out, but I keep working hard to make that happen.
Fifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight.
In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to “fix” the kids she injures, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end.
They want to know who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something evil, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy the world.
The boys break into homes, dig up graves, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront a malevolence as old as humanity. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed. The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty.
If he survives…
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Going Gone is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a crime drama, thriller, and a bit of the supernatural as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Going Gone! is the second of the Tracker Novels. Trackers are an elite FBI unit. Each agent has an unusual gift.
From the first page, the plot was set with a high-profile crime. Children of politicians were being kidnapped. With no ransom demands, the investigation took on an added intensity, to find out why the children were kidnapped. The answer became a race against the clock.
Tracker Ryan Barr is the unit profiler and lead investigator for the case. He got more help than he bargained for in his dramatic encounter with ex-homicide detective turned private investigator Kerry Branson. Kerry has talents of her own that has Ryan second guessing her actions.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That is a difficult one to answer. I like all the characters and developing individual characteristics was a challenge. The team is headed by Scott Fleming, and the agents are Cat Morgan, Ryan Barr, Adrian Dillard, Blake Kenner, Kevin Hunter, and Nicole Allison. If I had to select one, though, it would be Scott Fleming. He is the power, the mysterious driving force behind the team.
I felt that Kerry added layers to her characters as the story went on. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
I like characters who have empathy along with a toughness that propels them over any difficulties they encounter. They don’t back down. I’d like to think I built on the concept as Kerry met the obstacles and dangers in the investigation head-on, but her compassion never wavered.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
It is a third Tracker novel set in Texas. A missing ATF agent in Laredo, Texas sets the Tracker team in action. Adrian Dillard takes center stage as the lead investigator. He may have met his match when he encounters the feisty homicide detective, Casey Harlowe, who doesn’t hesitate to step over the line to get answers. Her link to the missing agent adds another layer of complication for Adrian. I hope to have it released by the first of the year. I still don’t have a title for it yet. My titles come from what I write. A phrase or word will grab my attention. So far, inspiration has not hit.
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To Never Know depicts the story of Steven Lewis, and how he is affected by his life choices, his stalled inertia, and forces far beyond his control.
To Never Know, by Thomas Duffy, is a millennialist coming of age drama centered on the late adolescence and early adulthood of the main character, Steven Lewis. The story starts in 1994 in Queens, New York. Steven is in his Senior year of High School. Steven has a crush on a girl in his class, Kelly Brennan. She seems to be interested in him, finding excuses to interact by asking for his notes and a stick of gum. But he never works up the courage to ask her to Prom.
The story skips past graduation and things have changed for Steven. His life continues a downward progression: his grades are not as good at college as they were in High School, he drops out, takes some time off. He tried calling Kelly again, but he could not bring himself to talk to her.
A family friend encourages him to send Kelly a letter, so he does, on September 10, 2001. Keeping in mind that Kelly lives in New York, you can make some good guesses about where the story goes after that, but this story packs a lot more into it, as Steven’s life events continue to unfold.
This story is an exploration of millennialist worries and fears in a post-9/11 life: adulthood with its ever-increasing responsibilities, how to live a good life, intimacy, isolation, establishing one’s self-identity, and the existential fear of death. The story is deeply emotional, with conflicting emotions. The quality of writing is strong enough to convey nuanced emotions and details. There were a few copy editing issues, but none bad enough to detract from the powerful meaning of the story.
The title, To Never Know, gives some insight into the central themes within the story. There is a strain of philosophical agnosticism (not in the religious sense) that there are unknown unknowns in our lives and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. There is also the theme that there are “bells that cannot be un-rung.” Steven cannot go and have the relationship he wanted. We will never know what life would have been like if one thing would have been changed in the distant past, and we cannot know what tomorrow will bring.
This book is good, but really heavy at times. It is intended for adult audiences, and probably best understood by older millennials. There are depictions of sex, death, terrorism, and coarse language. The content of the story takes an odd twist at one point, and the end is unexpected.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01K7RYJB6
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Spinner is a refreshing addition to the science fiction and horror genres. The book gives readers a new perspective as the main characters are not your usual shiny protagonists, but rather a group of boys, all of whom have some form of disability or handicap. The main character, Alex, is both impaired mentally as well as physically, bound to a wheelchair. This is not the only thing that sets Alex apart, though. Alex is a spinner, capable of taking on others emotions, physical ailments, and pains before they disappear entirely. A trait that finds him unknowingly being watched by those with ulterior motives and a far more sinister entity as well.
Spinner definitely brings something new and refreshing to the table with its focal characters being those typically dismissed and often belittled in our society. Bring in the science -fiction/horror vibe and Michael J. Bowler definitely writes to catch your interest. The story is original and cut from a different cloth which is refreshing. Although sometimes sentences can run on or become focused on small details, almost Charles Dickens-esque. It leaves little to the imagination as each character and scene is described in detail.
The author does a wonderful job of presenting the main characters with disabilities as people, not just a subset of society to be catered to. Each character, though their disabilities are mentioned and made apparent through their interactions, are easily seen as teenagers with their own opinions, personalities, and mindsets. The fact that they’re disabled rarely comes to mind throughout unless the story itself points to it, giving a refreshing and normalized perspective. Bowler uses a lot of different aspects and mannerisms stereotypical of a screen-teen. There are many dramatizations and immature reactions that detract from the characters otherwise superb development and depth.
I found this contemporary story easy to relate to and understand. Spinner has a lot of interesting and refreshing concepts that I felt kept the story thrilling and suspenseful.
Pages: 445 | ASIN: B075VCQ5F9
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I do not have a degree in literature but what I do possess is an intense appreciation for books that have the ability to place me on a trajectory towards factual and emotional knowledge and growth .Throughout my formal education, while others groaned about a lengthy summer reading list and opted for Cliﬀ Notes, I looked forward to immersing myself in the lives of the imaginary people in ﬁctional works who took me all over the world in my mind. Authors of every background provided valuable blueprints for my imagination. The feeling that I get when I walk into a library is one of comfort and fascination in knowing that I can look back and instantly connect with the thought and heart of someone who existed hundreds of years ago. The author’s thought remains vibrant through the centuries and I am awed by the commonality of the human spirit through time. Several weeks ago in a small antique shop in North Georgia, I found a treasure called” Ruth’s Sacriﬁce or Life on the Rappahannock“ by Emily Clemens Pearson; I blew layers of dust from the book’s spine. It was an original publication from 1864 with the previous owner’s signature ﬂourishes in the meticulous penmanship of years gone by. In another , I found ‘A Virgin Heart by Remy De Gourmont published in 1925. As I read it and he talked about his location at diﬀerent Parisian landmarks, I searched for photos on the Internet and could more fully share and connect with the experience. I was able to see exactly where those characters were supposed to be almost 100 years ago. These are among my most treasured possessions. What a feeling!
In retrospect, I think I felt overwhelmed by so many former great works and wondered about my own ability to produce a work worthy of literary respect. And perhaps this was the reason why it took me so long to decide upon a topic for my ﬁrst book of ﬁction. Over the years I had considered numerous topics and discarded them swiftly without a second thought. The desire to write a book, however, never ceased. It was encouraged by a desire to never die in obscurity. A book, whether a bestseller or not, lives on. And ﬁnally after many years, a very UNLIKELY TOPIC CHOSE ME. An unexpected oﬀer to work in the mountains of northeast Georgia presented itself. I immediately recognized the area as a potentially gorgeous setting for a novel. Among my many patients were little girls whose western boots announced their arrival over tile ﬂoors with a recognizable heel click strike before I ever saw them. Over time the thought came to me that they deserved their own “Cinderella story”. Hence, the inspiration for Mountain Green Corporate Blue. It just “felt right”.
I have never written a long work or even short essays before. Multiple times I tried to construct an outline for this novel unsuccessfully. What you are reading, I have written extemporaneously or “freestyle “ introducing characters along the way to make a point or to infuse drama and interest. Again, these characters were written without forethought. I did not think about names or character backgrounds. I interface with about 25-30 people a day as an Emergency Medicine Physician. If there was an interesting name( e.g. Quest or Mercy) ,I would jot it down in a notebook for future reference. If someone had an interesting physical characteristic ( ie., Matthew’s mismatched eyes or Michael’s tattoos ) I would make note of those as well.As I wrote the novel, I arbitrarily chose one of the names on the list or any other that came to mind in that moment. And in that instant the character came into being.
I am a very spiritual but not religious Christian in the American Bible Belt. I trusted in the divine nature of the creative process and just “let the words come”. In rereading the manuscript multiple times, I found encrypted messages for myself. I set out to write a Cinderella story with “real people”. The end product is actually an emotionally layered work with a very clear, powerful message that was revealed to me in the rereading period. The predominant message is simple and the key is in the name of the characters. Yes, I think of this novel as a gift from God. Because He is in EVERY human being, He uses us to convey HIS message.
In referencing Mountain Green Corporate Blue, Matthew asks Quest, the daughter of Delilah, the meaning of the word bastard. At that moment, Matthew’s life changes and his own life quest begins. A link is established between the circumstance of Jesus’ birth and his own. We are then introduced to Grace Collier (P.19) in the innocence of her youth and we see her eﬀect on the other characters as the novel progresses. She represents the spiritual Grace and graciousness that we either accept or reject throughout life. Her spirit infuses all of the other characters and points them towards introspection, change and goodness. Grace meets Matthew as a young woman and he is immediately engaged by her charm , innocence and dedication to family and wants her in his life immediately and forever(P.74). This represents our open acknowledgment of the need and power of grace in our lives and once we see the warmth and power of its presence we want to possess it immediately and forever. Their marriage ceremony revolves around obtaining a bible that is important to Grace. It has been in her family for centuries. This intimates that with the acceptance of Grace comes the Quest for the Word (of God). It is a life journey that has been travelled by many over time. Randy Duncan is the only true Prince in the story. His goodness and kindness shine through irregardless of socioeconomic status and he has been a helper since his youth ( we see his interaction with Caroline when they were teenagers in ﬂashback). Because of his abundant warmth he is the only male character associated with the white stallion most commonly associated with kings and princes in literary fairy tales.
Note that several of the main male characters have the names or name derivatives of the Apostles – John, Matthew, Marcus, Lucas, and James. Michael, the mechanic , represents the evilness of Michael the Archangel who fell from Grace. A young James Fleming approaches an antebellum home (P.225) and within he is delivered the Mercy he requests in a spiritual as well as a worldly form. Note that the maids watchful over Mercy are Mary and Maggy as she heals James’ feet. This is a subtle reminder of the power of Mary Magdalene’s humility. To reiterate, this was without prior planning.
Matthew’s sister’s name is Angela. She has the innocence of an Angel and Grace reassures her that love comes to angels. Rose, the secretary, has the enviable physical attributes of life but ultimately we see that this is irrelevant in the face of the absence of true spiritual Grace. Thus we see the radiant Rose wither as the story progresses.
After interesting conversation over dinner, a troubled Marcus ultimately ends up in Delmonico’s Restaurant and meets Trinity, an African American female physician. She is in a sector that is usually “not on ( his ) radar). Her name is important. This signiﬁes that the Holy Trinity is ever present but not always apparent and comes to us through unexpected encounters and unlikely individuals. Note that Trinity Fleming is a physician like the Great Physician. The music in the Operating room is “Coming Out of the Dark” that nods to spiritual awakening. Jerome, the medical student , reminds us of the love in infatuation. The blessing bestowed on Trinity actually happened to me and was quite moving and emotionally overwhelming. In this context, this encounter reinforces the power of prayer. Marcus becomes closer to the Holy Trinity through Trinity the physician. After all, God is in ALL human beings and her positivity is what is cultivated by the Holy Spirit and Marcus is in dire need of that.
Kenny Lowery’s suicide is representative of the lonely futility many black males may experience in a world that does not support or reaﬃrm their inherent worth irregardless of education, talent or ability causing his backward spiral away from Grace. He commits suicide in the presence of Trinity. Her name may make him think in his ﬁnal hours of a God he may think has forsaken him.
James Fleming, Trinity’s adoptive father, demonstrates the inherent goodness and sense of decency we should all cultivate irregardless of an individual’s color or race. He exempliﬁes the power of sharing wealth on all levels so that the next generation will proﬁt.
And lastly, Justice and Sloan. Trinity’s work as a surgeon is respected by Sloan and he saves her by enlisting the help of a member of the established Church. This signiﬁes that even though one has fallen (Sloan was a drug dealer), there is the potential for goodness and grace in all of us. It is possible to obtain inner peace and justice in life simply by being of help to another and the established Church has been promised to us as a source of comfort and support throughout each of our individual journeys.
My thanks to all of you who have read Mountain Green Corporate Blue. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. And of course, I look forward to entertaining you with the sequel VERITAS.
Author Website: ljsaunders.love
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The Biggest Little Crime In The World is the third book in the popular Ham McCalister Series and follows the lives of two Las Vegas Homicide detectives turned private eyes. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?
This one flowed naturally from the book before. Although each is written as a standalone so that they may be read in any order, the ending of each at least hints at the start of the next. In this case, the wedding between Drew and her beloved superstar was foreshadowed and thus the book began as such. And that led to the story arc, a rather natural extension of the characters and their responses to life, incidents both good and bad. The denouement arose from the investigation and, though the why and the who were a surprise to me, the ending was at least partially suggested by the plot outline developed before writing began. And it did tie nicely to the series, I am pleased to say.
When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
I love this question because it’s the foundation that makes writing such an enjoyable endeavor. The answer is that in this book, as in each I’ve written, the players never cease to surprise me. They say and do as they please, and take the plot in directions I had not anticipated. That despite the rather extensive plot and character outlines. It’s so much fun to run the other way from that which was anticipated. In sum, the characters act it out and they and they alone dictate the plot development.
I love the dynamic relationship between Drew and Ham. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Drew and Ham are complicated by their exposure to the underside of life. As homicide detectives for the Las Vegas police department, they saw and experienced more that most of the underbelly of society. Both are imperfect characters in that both are inherently honest and rigidly law and order, yet both are not above bending the rules when the circumstances, as they see them, warrant the dishonesty therein. And both struggle with that dilemma, the eternal battle between that which we see as ideal and that which we refuse to allow, no matter the moral cost. It is a constant struggle for both, as each seeks truth and justice, rewards for their efforts, conviction of the guilty and protection for the innocent—this while refusing to bend to niceties when evil rises before them. Erasing evil, to the both of them, takes precedence over a simple genuflect to the rules.
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
The next book is The Curious Case Of Ham On Wry. It follows Ham and Drew as they try to exonerate their client, U.S. Representative Harold Wry from a charge of murdering his Washington intern. I expect the book to available sometime next summer.
Shots ring out and two find their mark, just under the arch that declares Reno “The Biggest Little City In The World.” A crime, an assassination that the press will dub “The Biggest Little Crime In The World.”
That very day Ham McCalister had walked his dearest friend and business partner, Drew Thornton, down the aisle to wed her rock superstar betrothed, Russ Porter, one of the frontmen of the legendary band Truckee River. In that happy moment, what neither he nor Drew could have foreseen was the sudden tragedy that would greet them on the streets of Reno, mere minutes after the wedding bells chimed. For there, under that iconic arch, Russ Porter falls victim to an assassin’s bullet, along with an unknown second casualty.
While Russ is tended to at Reno’s finest medical center, by the state’s finest physicians, Ham and Drew race to uncover the who and the why behind the unspeakable evil unleashed in the aftermath of the wedding of Drew’s dreams. And then exact a revenge that she will personally inflict.
What they find, what they don’t’ expect, what they finally uncover, is The Biggest Little Conspiracy In The World.
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COMING IN 2017
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Going Gone is a fast-paced crime thriller, guaranteed to have you hooked from the very first page. The mood instantly begins with a tense and frightening scene where a little boy attempts to escape his kidnappers. He stumbles out onto the street where a private investigator, Kerry, is on her way home from a weekend with her best friend. She quickly springs into action, determined to return the boy to his family. Forming alliances with FBI Trackers, Kerry quickly discovers that not everyone is who they seem.
From here the story only becomes more intense as you delve into a world of FBI agents, kidnappers, terrorists and drug cartels. Many of the characters involved within the novel are integrated with the government and special task forces, giving the story a political twist. But who can you trust?
Between the chaos and action thrown between the agents and investigators, the young boy Tristan provides an innocent visual amongst a world of darkness. This innocence provides a relief in the heavy plot line and is a beautiful reminder of how precious children are. With children’s lives on the line, you will feel even more invested in the outcome of the story and their fate.
Anita Dickason paints a picture of the world of crime with such accuracy that you feel as though you are right there with the characters, rescuing children, hiding from criminals or driving away at high speeds with gunshots blaring in the distance. You won’t be able to put this novel down as each page takes you deeper and deeper into a world of criminals where confirmation of delivering packages will make your skin crawl.
I would rate this novel a 5/5 and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, crime drama that will be sure to get your heart racing.
Pages: 301 | ASIN: B0725FL88K
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An intricate scheme to abduct the children of the most powerful politicians on Capitol Hill gets disrupted when Kerry Branson, ex-homicide detective turned private investigator, inadvertently rescues one of the victims on a fog-laden backroad in the Piney Woods of East Texas.
When Kerry discovers the six-year-old boy is the son of a U.S. Senator kidnapped from his Austin home, her call to the FBI is just the beginning of her problems. Pursued by a ruthless band of mercenaries who seem to know her every move, Kerry is forced into an uneasy alliance with the agent assigned to the case, FBI Tracker Ryan Barr.
As the abductions continue, their search for the children will pit Kerry and Ryan against a formidable adversary who uses his wealth and political power to cloak a psychopathic obsession. His manipulation extends deep into the government even to the Office of the President.
A horrific plan slowly emerges—one that has drug cartels and terrorist groups lined up to cash in.
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