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I’ve Always Felt Empathetic Toward Others

Author Interview Michael J. Bowler

Shifter has the two main characters grappling with some big moral decisions. What was the inspiration for putting them into this position?

I like stories where characters, especially teenagers, have to grapple with more than just who to ask to prom because it’s when we’re faced with serious issues of right vs wrong that we show what we’re made of and who we are inside, and most of us will face tough choices throughout our lives. As a reader, I can ask myself the same questions I pose to my characters and consider which way I might go. My hope is that other readers will do the same. I’ve also thought about the ramifications of having such a power that I could decide who lives and who dies. As pointed out in the book, would it have been moral to kill Hitler before he got very far in his bid to take over the world? Even now, with what we know of history, some people would still argue no and others would say yes.

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your characters of Alex and Andy?

I’ve always felt very empathetic toward the pain of others, even as a child and a teen, and wanted to “cure” those people of what ailed them, so I created this character of Alex to do that for me. I just don’t like seeing people unhappy or suffering, which is one reason I could never have become a doctor. Alex’s skills with his wheelchair and his innate tenacity were based on a boy I taught in high school. Despite his wheelchair, that boy could do whatever he put his mind to, sometimes with help from his friends, but mostly by himself. For Andy, I used much of the pain I absorbed from incarcerated kids I worked with who told me horrific stories of being locked in closets for years on end or about how some despicable adult slaughtered their pets in front of them. I sought to depict how hard it might be for such a child to accept love and friendship once released from such an evil upbringing, and I hope Andy comes across as believable in the minds of the readers.

What do you think were some of the defining moments in the development of Alex and Andy’s relationship?

Neither knew of the other’s existence until shortly before they met at the conclusion of Spinner (The Healer Chronicles 1), so I tried to imagine what it would feel like to meet a twin brother I never knew I had. Given the respective backgrounds of the two boys, I felt they could relate as outcasts and that might be the beginning of a friendship and even familial ties. The small moments they shared—when Andy would learn something new from Alex, or when they were washing dishes or working out in the fitness center—these moments helped cement their relationship. Learning how to combine their power and work together defined the growing connection between them, not just because their minds were linked, but because they needed to trust each other, and that must’ve been hard.

Will the next book conclude the story of Alex and Andy or is there more to tell? When will the next book be available?

The next book will conclude this particular storyline, but I have opened enough doors to tell other tales involving these characters and hope to return to them in the future. Spoiler (The Healer Chronicles 3) releases on July 12, 2022.

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Fifteen-year-old Alex and his learning-disabled friends barely survived the events of Spinner, but their nightmare has only just begun.

Alex’s wheelchair has never stopped him from doing what he wants, but his supernatural power to heal every human ailment known to science has put him in the crosshairs of a dangerous doomsday cult that will stop at nothing to capture him and his long-lost twin, Andy, who can shift illness from one person to another. When the boys combine their “gifts,” they unleash the power to control life and death.

Now Alex, Andy, and the others have been kidnapped by the U.S. military. On a creepy Air Force base in the remote Nevada desert, they must decide who to trust and who to fear while uncovering secrets this base wants to hide from the world. Who is the young boy with unusual abilities who’s treated like a soldier? What is hidden in an ultra-secret hangar that no one can access? And what unnatural experiments are conducted in that closed-off laboratory?

As Alex unravels these mysteries, he strives to bond with his twin, but Andy is distant and detached, trusting no one. He’s also more attracted to the dangerous power they wield than Alex would like. When misplaced faith in science ignites a hidden lust for supremacy, rescue can only come from the most unlikely source, and Alex must confront a terrible truth.

The Healer Chronicles continue…

Shifter

Twin brothers with the power of life and death – will they choose the path of good or evil? In Shifter, the second book in the Healer Chronicles, Michael J Bowler brings us back to the world of Alex and Andy and all the characters revolving around them. Having survived the events in the first thrilling book, the brothers begin to get to know each other and test the limits of what they can do together. But with secret organizations and military operations vying for control of their power, they have to make difficult choices that could save people… or leave them dead. The story takes twists and turns that make you question everything and everyone, from well-guarded fortresses and secret military labs in the desert.

Early on, we’re taken back to Andy’s horrific childhood, which explains his character to the reader and his brother Alex. The reader also gets some recaps and explanations of events in the first book, allowing those that have not read the first novel to understand this one. The author expertly balances dialogue, description, and action, creating incredible tension. A few scenes in the military lab had me literally at the edge of my seat! The author also created a rich and relatable world by adding small details between big moments.

There were plenty of everyday things that we take for granted highlighted in these extreme circumstances. For example, Alex’s experiences with his disability, not being able to reach a shirt in a closet that wasn’t made for someone in a wheelchair. Alex’s human existence gave us a closer connection to a character with incredible power. I loved so many of the characters in the novel. They were unusual heroes, abandoned or scorned by society because of who they are, mistakes from their past, or circumstances beyond their control.

There were also plenty of more important questions of ethics and morality in the choices the main characters have to make, as exemplified in the passage below: “And you would be, Alex. You two could save more lives than anyone in history.” “By killing,” Alex said, his voice barely a whisper. “How is that good?” “Because some people need to be killed so others may live.” Without giving too much away, you can see the dilemma Alex faces when he learns about how some powerful forces would want him to use his power.

However, conflict in the book doesn’t touch only upon questions of morality but also on adolescent insecurities and friendship. Many characters grapple with complex feelings of jealousy or fear of a new person joining the group and taking your place, wanting to prove their strength.

Shifter (The Healer Chronicles Book 2) is a suspenseful young adult thriller. With strong and memorable characters, non-stop action, and high tension, readers will not want to put the book down and anxiously await the conclusion of this exciting trilogy.

Pages: 372 | ASIN : B09R2K41L7

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Elysium Protocol 

Elysium Protocol by C.A. MacLean is the third book in the Architects of the Illusion science fiction series. Following a species-diverse team known as the “Fireseeds,” Elysium Protocol picks up the shattered pieces left over from the devastating war in book two, The Great Scourge. In a time of interstellar conflict, multiple factions, some seen, some working from the shadows, are vying for power, control, and sometimes, just plain survival. Set in a distant future, the last remnants of humanity are part of an intergalactic organization known as “The Convergence,” an alliance consisting of “quintillions” of citizens.

The Fireseeds are pitted against a vast alien force known as the “hiven,” an insect-like species bent on zealous destruction and domination. Several science fiction tropes appear here, but they are executed skillfully; which ensures longtime fans of science fiction will find something familiar yet still intriguing. There are multiple alien races present: humanoid bird-persons (Arkerians), crystal people (Altaran), bug people (hiven), and more. The story is rife with many planet names and systems, such as Everan, Serrona, Vraunlith-3, etc. I feel this might make it difficult to follow at times but adds to the depth of a world that seems full of possbilites and begs to be explored further. I would have loved to have seen a map of systems in the book to look back on because this story reaches epic fantasy levels where readers will be completely immersed in a large world.

This is a robust novel, almost as long as the two previous entries combined. There is a lot of action going on with all of the characters and races. Readers have to be fully engaged in this story to keep up with who is who and what species is what; reminding me of the breadth of George R.R. Martin novels. However, the author effectively handles the task of keeping things straight, with the central characters being well developed with strong individual personalities. The Arkerian Engami sisters, Eva and Ashy, the tragic Altaran, Caleb Braze, the modest human, Daniel Byre, and many more fill this impressive work with relatable characters and a compelling story. Despite some massive decisions, the memorable characters and gripping action bring a universe of primordial planets, advanced spacecraft, and futuristic cities to life.

Architects Of The Illusion, Part III: Elysium Protocol is an action-filled science fiction space opera with memorable characters and planets. Readers will be able to escape into the world that has been created and feel like they are in the action.

Pages: 777 | ASIN : B09NPPJL1Q

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The Guardians of Eastgate, 2nd Ed.

The Guardians of Eastgate: Book 1 of The Seers Series by [Leclerc, Sherry]

In The Guardians of Eastgate Maelona, one of the four champions of the Seer race, is tasked with protecting the realm of Sterrenvar from an ancient evil that threatens the land. Maelona struggles to protect the very people who once hunted and killed the Seer race out of fear and mistrust. Maelona and the other Seers fight to protect four keystones from being breached by evil forces. Maelona soons finds that this proves to be an incredibly difficult job. Is she up to the challenge? She teams up with her friends, a wolf shape-shifter, and a human prince, on her quest to save Eastgate from destruction against evil forces.

The Guardians of Eastgate by Sherry Leclerc was an amazing read. The first edition felt more like an outline of the story it didn’t dive into the detail or flesh out the characters. It felt more like a summary of an existing story. This second edition was far better, from extended scenes to extended dialogue which makes helps to develop a rich and complex plot that is both easy to follow and leaves you wanting more.

Leclerc takes us on a beautiful journey in a world filled with fantastical creatures, sorcery, shape-shifters, swords and so much more. It was an interesting choice to make a standard figure of fantasy, the seer, into an entire race of guardians. I cannot wait to explore more of this race in the coming series. They are fascinating, but I felt we’ve only seen the surface of a vast ocean.

I was impressed with the complexity and variety of the story line. The author expertly combines elements of romance and mystery into a suspenseful read, that includes an array of compelling characters. The romance between between Maelona and Blaez was intriguing, and lends to the emotional appeal of this novel, but the story is punctuated by some intense fight scenes. If you’re looking for fight scenes that are realistic, Sherry Leclerc has a third dan black belt in Taekwondo, and her expertise is apparent.

This 2nd edition of The Guardians of Eastgate, I felt, allows this series to really take off. It’s an appropriate start to a series that is brimming with potential on par with the Dragonlance series. I will definitely be looking out for the next book. I loved traveling with Maelona on her journey and can hardly wait to meet the next champion. You will be sure to enjoy this book if you enjoy magic, sword &  sorcery, action. adventure, and romance.

Pages: 189 | ASIN: B079X5D9Q1

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The Felony Lane Gang

A wave of crime grasped center stage at the beginning of the volcanic summer. The often abused by police, misused by society, shunned, and stereotyped patrons of the “hood” decided that their reparations would no longer be paid by the normal “Smash and grab”. Gun laws had changed. Stiffer penalties and mandatory time was a constant reminder whenever, The Felony Lane Gang clocked in. Blue collar crime was now at an all time low. White collar crime was their new way of life. Three siblings stormed into a world of destruction when the youngest known as Crackaboi decided to part ways with his modest upbringing. For the love of her baby brother Glory unknowingly stepped into a web of drugs and exotic entertainment. Tjohnnie, the oldest and the coldest felt a need to protect his siblings. After losing their parents to unfortunate circumstances, TJohnnie secretly led two lives. A college football player by day. A counterfeiter and money launderer for the Infamous Seminole Indian Tribe by night. Tired of the gruesome torture for hire jobs, Crackaboi teams up with a longtime friend and brutal killer Lil Turk. Together they mastermind the greatest heist in United States history. Surpassing Al Capone and Jon Gotti, the ruthless duo targeted every financial institution that was federally insured. Their lavish lifestyle enticed other potential members. Dodging the Feds, ducking the local authorities and slaughtering anyone who wandered down their path, they notoriously became known as, ” The Felony Lane Gang”. With crooked cops on their trail, the street rogues decide to take on one last heist. Crackaboi and Lil Turk burglarize a  century  old abandoned warehouse, in search of a quarter of million dollars supposedly stashed inside an old safe. They embark on a journey that leads to their beloved Glory, on life support fighting to stay alive. A bloody street-war against the Mexican Cartel Assassins and a trail of bodies that lead down a sea of destruction. With ties to the Illuminati and a billionaire oil tycoon, the double steel door safe tightly held secrets that would send chills through a psychopath’s spine.

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An Alien on the Run

Roxanne Bland Author Interview

Roxanne Bland Author Interview

Invasion follows a vampire, mage and a werewolf as they try to prevent an alien invasion. How did you come up with this unique and thrilling idea?

For that, we have to go back to The Underground, to which Invasion is the standalone sequel. I wanted to tell more of Melera’s story (the interstellar assassin) than what was depicted in that first book. So, I have an alien on the run from her nemesis, who is determined to recapture her and possess her battlefleet. When she returns to Earth, what are the high stakes? Does she just resume her existence on her hidden base, doing what she’s fated to do? No, because there’s no urgency. There has to be a clear and present danger from without. And what could be more of a clear and present danger than a potential alien invasion of Earth?

I really enjoyed that each character was unique and well developed, which led to some very interesting relationships. Did you plan these relationships or did they grow organically?

Again, we have to go back to The Underground. The Underground is where those relationships developed. I didn’t exactly plan them; they more or less grew organically. I mean, I had an idea about these relationships, but I didn’t map them out—I simply wrote and watched them unfold. That’s the way I write—I don’t plot anything out. I have an idea where to start—point A, if you will—and I know I have to get to point B and then to point C. How I get to these points is completely unknown to me. That, for me, is the joy of writing, that act of creation.

This novel was fun to read. What was the most fun scene for you to write?

That would have to be the BDSM scene. I had to do research for that one. I read books on the roles of the dominant and the submissive. I learned that to be a good dom is hard work. I also learned the rules of etiquette in group settings, and things like that. I visited a couple of clubs on open house night, where we were treated to a tour of the facilities, mini-lectures and demonstrations. One night, I won a gorgeous, hand-tooled leather spiked collar at a silent auction. Anyway, I met some fabulous people who were more than willing to talk to me about how to write the scene so that it rang true. I even ran it by a couple who gave me pointers. A great group of people, really. Their lifestyle isn’t mine, but it was a wonderful experience that really opened my eyes.

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

I’m working on a sequel to a book I wrote a few years ago, entitled The Moreva of Astoreth. It’s funny—I never intended to write a sequel to The Moreva, but so many of my readers strongly suggested that I do so, well, how can I disappoint? I hope to have it finished within a year, maybe by the spring of 2019. My day job takes up a lot of my time, and I’m still working on how to balance the marketing and writing thing. I mean, I’m either all in, or not. I know there’s got to be a better way, a smarter way—I just haven’t figured it out yet.

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Invasion by [Bland, Roxanne]Kurt, vampire Master of Seattle, Garrett Larkin, mage of Balthus Coven and Parker Berenson, alpha of the city’s werewolf pack, are in a world of trouble. Already divided by love and jealousy, the three discover their auras are inextricably bound, the result of a spellcasting gone terribly wrong. Each one’s aura has been invaded by the auras of the others, and the consequences are both frightening and deadly. Worse yet, Shen’zae Melera, interstellar assassin and Parker’s love, has returned to Earth with dire news: she didn’t return alone. She’d been followed by her nemesis, Mag Beloc, and his fleet of warships. Even if Beloc recaptures her, Melera knows that Earth will suit his purposes, and that his presence may well become permanent. Drawn together by choice and fate while doing what they had to do, can Kurt, Garrett, and Parker now find a way to undo the magick that binds them, and with Melera, stop an alien invasion before it begins?

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A Strange Red Comet

Lon Brett Coon Author Interview

Lon Brett Coon Author Interview

Panther Across the Stars is a stirring historical novel depicting the detailed life of a Shawnee Indian warrior who is fighting for his people’s freedom. What was the inspiration for this fantastic novel?

Bear with me, as the answer to this question has several layers. I know there are some among us who find history to be dry, boring, and just written text in schoolbooks; but to me it has always been so much more. History is fascinating when you understand it is made up of living and breathing people who are just as flawed as we are. And for but one step this way or that, all the many things that come after can be altered for good or ill for all of time. I think there is also a smugness in that us here today kind of take things for granted that the world is as it is, as if it was somehow preordained or something. But I think the truth is that the past history, and the one unfolding before our eyes, is fragile in that one act, this way or that, and it can all be rewritten.

And as you walk through the pages of history there are those that rise up from time to time to do extraordinary things. Tecumseh is one of those few. Though I think many of the living do not know his name or who he really was – they should take the time to find out, for he was truly remarkable for the way he carried himself, how he inspired others, and what he tried to accomplish and came oh so close to doing. He was an exceptional human being and certainly one of the very best among us, and that was according to the people who were trying to kill him . . . think about that for a moment. You will find no better patriot for freedom in history’s pages, regardless of the race, creed, country, or age of mankind. Even now, some two hundred years since his passing from the world, his words and deeds are an inspiration to find the highest form of ourselves. Every day that we arise with breath, we should seek the strength to do what is right, even if it is not the easy path to follow. If we could all endeavor to such a thing, the world would truly be a better place.

And also, the core theme of the book is that there is nothing more precious to a living thing than freedom. The book is trying to explore the notion that freedom is more than just the physical and on the outside of the world, but that there is just as great a struggle for freedom on the inside, within the mind. In fact, the story proposes that being free within from all your masters (i.e. anger, fear, doubt, and hate, etc.) may just be the most important of all. It is my humble opinion that as Tecumseh fought for his freedom on the battlefield against musket and bayonet, he also waged this fight within against his fear, doubt, anger, and hatred; for who among us would not be filled with those masters when faced with such pain, hurt, and loss, and the tremendous burden of trying to find a way out for his people.

And lastly, as I read about Tecumseh’s life story there was a mention of a strange red comet in the sky of March 1811, as Tecumseh was trying to gather the many tribes together into one pan-Indian confederation to fight back against America’s invasion. And the thought occurred to me that what if that streaking comet had been a crash landing of a few survivors of some alien race, which fate had steered to his world to help his people find their freedom. What if. . . .

Panther Across the Stars is an intelligent and spiritual person. Was there a historical person that you modeled his character after?

None other than Tecumseh himself. I first learned of him several years back and he was simply a remarkable human being who faced an impossible situation. I tried to write the novel to make the reader feel like you were with Tecumseh two hundred years ago . . . and what would you do when faced with such trials, tribulations, and impossibilities.

I enjoyed all the history woven into this story. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the books accuracy?

The book is loosely based on the accountings here and there of things that are said to have occurred in Tecumseh’s life. I read several books, watched documentaries, and spent many long hours of internet research to gather up as much background information as I could. This helped to provide the bones to the story, before the layering of the fictional elements. And of course, all good tales deserve some embellishment.

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

Well, the intention has been all along to write a sequel to Panther Across the Stars, regarding what happens in the here and now; to see what happens when fate calls again and through their undying spirit of freedom, the scattered Shawnee descendants find the lost Ithreal stone at last some two hundred years later. And what happens when the Jhagir find their way back to this world. In fact, they may already have arrived as we conduct this interview.

As far as the planned timetable, presently there is not one. Being a first-time self-published author, and all that is entailed to try and create a high quality novel, in addition to my day job, time is at a premium and I am still in the early stages of writing the first draft.

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Panther Across the Stars by [Brett Coon, Lon]

A larger-than-life tale of one man’s courage, sacrifice, and unyielding defiance to fight for his peoples’ freedom against those that would take it, and in this great struggle he finds friendship with three alien beings fallen to Earth that stand with him.

He is Panther Across the Sky and his world is fading. He takes all the hurt and pain a lifetime gives him and stares into his soul to face the greatest master he will ever know. Just a man among a dying people, he inspires his kin beyond all limit of mind and body in their outstretched and desperate grasp for freedom against overwhelming odds and the mighty nation arisen to the east in the early 1800s – America.

And along the way, he forges a bond with three alien beings fallen to Earth from a distant star, the Jhagir. Together they must find the courage to rise up against the swirling dark sea of blue jackets, muskets, and cannon fire that comes for them. It will take all their strength and spirit, and cost them more than they know, to break back the angry waves of a young nation that would devour a people and wash them away forever. And just maybe, Panther Across the Sky and the Jhagir can give rise to a peoples’ real hope for today . . . and what is to come.

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Losing our Humanity

Jerry J.C. Veit Author Interview

Jerry J.C. Veit Author Interview

Into the Night features an unlikely pairing of characters who set out on a journey to battle barbarians and vampires across the English countryside. I felt like the setting was very detailed in this story. Why did you choose this time and place for your book?

Historically, in the early 1300’s, England became the landing point of the Vikings when they decided to leave their northern towns. Vampire legends were also very well-known and taken seriously throughout almost every century.

Vampire belief peaked and declined and then rose again as time went on. Vampires are indeed everlasting; at first being a tale of horror and then becoming a fascination. It is no doubt that vampires evolved like no other monster in our literature.  The lore is still alive today and fills us both with fear and desire.

I studied old maps of the English countryside and manipulated some letters of real older towns to create my locations. I also mentioned some landmarks that still exist today to give Into the Night a more historical background rather than that of pure fantasy. Somehow, barbarians, vampires, and England just seemed to fit perfectly.

The book got its title because one evening I was driving with the sun behind me and darker night skies ahead of me. I was literally driving into the night. It felt ominous and fit the vibe of my story well. Also at that time, was a popular song on the radio that shared the same name by Santana and Chad Kroeger.

The hero’s Samuel and Valencia are dynamic characters that battle vampire matriarchs Isabella and Cerbera who are also well developed. What was your inspiration for the characters relationship and how they contrast with the villains?

Samuel is a drifter with no clear path in life. Valencia is unable to forget a bad memory and is driven to seek revenge. In a way Valencia is too harsh and Sam too meek; together they take what the other has too much of and it makes them a perfect duo.

The vampire sisters mask their vile intentions and wicked deeds with beauty that beguiles those they encounter. Without Valencia, Samuel would not have been able to (or perhaps not want to) resist them. It stems from the duality of our minds – the fear of losing our humanity (Soul, goodness) and the desire to break free from physical obstacles and society’s restraints and give in to lust. Valencia keeps him grounded and stands as an icon of strength and courage; which eventually wins Sam’s admiration.

I felt like this novel did a great job utilizing vampire lore and creating some of its own. How did you set about creating the vampires in your story?

Into the Night was my first screenplay (and my second published book). At the time I was reading: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. That’s when I decided to practice what I was reading. My first words of the story were Valencia’s speech to Sam, at their first encounter, about Cerbera stalking her prey. I remember putting the monologue on Facebook and getting replies like: “what happens next?” The truth is I didn’t know. I was just practicing a writing exercise I had assigned to myself, but I knew I had to make something out of it now.

It helped that I took a liking to everything vampire; watching movies from Nosferatu to Interview with a Vampire to Underworld, and collecting a library of vampire literature; from Camilla to Vlad to vampire encyclopedias.

Cerbera’s name is taken from a plant species found in India; known as the suicide tree due to its toxicity. The vampire sisters each have a unique trait. One paralyzes men with a touch, the other with a look. Together they symbolize heightened sexuality that dominates all men and is based on the biblical character, Lilith, who eventually formed the race of the succubus. The vampires in Into the Night are a compilation of everything I read and saw.

I would love to see more of the pairing of Samuel and Valencia. Do you have any plans to expand their story in the future? 

I have thought about bringing Samuel and Valencia back together as a vampire fighting couple. With the barbarian threat culled and the vampire’s uncanny trait to keep coming back; I would be able to dedicate the story to just vampires.

In the middle of the story Sam and Valencia rescue a family that escapes to Ireland. That was intended to be the main plot for the continuation. The team rejoins to aid the family and fight a vampire threat in Ireland.

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Into the Night by [Veit, Jerry J.C.]

In the autumn of 1325 an army of barbarians invade the south-western region of England. A drifter named, Samuel and a strong-willed woman named, Valencia journey north to Ashborough to seek the aid of the steward’s army.

While on their mission they realize the barbarian army is close behind them along with two vampire matriarchs and their vampire horde. They find themselves in the midst of two wars as they fight northward on, what seems to be, a Sisyphean task.

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