Blowout Summer follows Dee Dee as she reflects on one memorable summer filled with surfing, drugs and experimentation. What served as your inspiration while writing this wild summer?
It was a different time. Everything about living in a small beach town was easy. California was changing right under the States noses. People and their crazy experiences during that time, led me to write about their antics.
Dee Dee is a character, I felt, continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her characters development?
She was on the verge of becoming an adult and she still wanted to have fun making bad or detrimental choices. She needed to become independent instead of going with the crowd.
This novel takes place in the 70’s when a lot of experimentation was going on. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?
The world of surfing, clothing styles, and the music of that time.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
It features the same characters. They can’t seem to stay out of trouble. It should be done this year.
Surf, party, and romance take center stage in the breezy novel Blow Out Summer, as a group of local surfers in Huntington Beach, California, enjoy a summertime of hanging out and having fun.
Their story takes place in the mid 1970s, when no one was paying much attention to the drugs being brought into California at an alarming rate. But Dee Dee’s eyes are about to be opened.
Dee Dee lives in a very well-to-do area and is introduced to social drug experimentation and drug trafficking while maintaining a normal family life. She and her friends enjoy the surf up and down the coast of California.
Her friends run the gamut from the very wealthy to beach bums she met at the pier. Dee Dee’s lazy summer is spent under beautiful sunny days with slow drifting clouds and perfect barrel waves. But the ups and downs in her relationships and the dangers of dabbling in drugs ultimately force her a decision that will change her life.
Posted in Interviews
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Dee Dee is a surfer, an aspiring tennis player, and a girl who is always up for a good party. One summer in particular stands out in her memory as she reflects upon her life. With her close band of friends around her, Dee Dee sets out to thoroughly enjoy her summer off and does not hesitate as she goes about seeking the company of friends new and old. Her “blow out summer,” as she calls it, teaches her some valuable lessons and gives her time to reflect on her own choices as she learns who is worthy of her affection and trust and who falls short.
Set in Huntington Beach, California, Blow Out Summer, by Denise Ann Stock, reads less like a novel and much more like a memoir. The conversational tone of the book makes it a quick and easy read. Dee Dee’s reflections on her experiences with the drug trade and her laid back approach to her participation in drug trafficking read shockingly smoothly. For as deeply involved as Dee Dee seems to be in buying and selling illegal substances, she seems much less concerned than she should be. I attributed her naivety and lack of real concern to the time period, the mid 70’s.
I found myself waiting for that one point in the story that would point to a gripping climax. Everything in Dee Dee’s eventful summer points to an action-packed high point. However, with all her close calls, second guesses regarding her associates, and her relationship woes, there never came that one moment where the entire book seemed to pull together. Reading much more like a diary of the summer, I was a little disappointed not to see a resolution to many of the dilemmas created by the main character and her friends. I believe I was more determined to find answers than Dee Dee herself.
The one scene providing the most harrowing visual comes when Dee Dee’s friend, Jaycee, makes a frantic call about a possible overdose. I felt, as a reader looking for answers, this was an ideal opportunity for the plot to tie neatly together with some life-changing decisions being made on the part of both Dee Dee and her friends. As in real life, however, secrets prevail, and not much changed for those most deeply entangled in drug use and trafficking.
As pleasant as Dee Dee seems throughout the story and as much as her remembrances of her eventful summer kept me interested, I felt the overall story was missing something. The memoir style of writing Stock uses is appealing and will suit readers seeking a fairly light read without highly stressful rising action.
Pages: 360 | ASIN: B01C58JXJI
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In Yellowstone National Park, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a girl of mysterious origins is adopted from infancy by Old Faithful geyser, and by a mother buffalo named Bearer of Song. Beloved to all the park, Flower of the Steam Basin grows up with their stories, proverbial sayings and teachings.
In time, having met a child her own age and her parents, trust ripens between families, and Flower of the Steam Basin gains a closely protective circle of human friends. At nine years old, she is brought face-to-face with Retired Lieutenant Ned Halpen of the Yellowstone Cavalry, whose exemplary career embodied the role of protector of Yellowstone’s spiritual and physical heritage.
In the wake of Lt. Halpen’s passing one year later, her sacred vow to continue his legacy brings both reward and mortal danger. And when the circle is breached, Flower of the Steam Basin and her father are forced to choose between her own safety and well-being and the performance of her sworn duties.
This is her story, as seen through the eyes of Yellowstone.
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How We End Up is an intricate contemporary story that follows the lives of three strangers and shows how people can intersect at life changing moments. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
I used to walk the beach in a park near my house. The park gets numerous visitors, mostly families, and I would frequently walk by young children playing in the surf. This area is known for its rip currents, and there are always news stories about people being caught in one and having to be rescued. It occurred to me that one day I might have to jump in after someone, particularly a child. Fortunately, I never had to. It got me thinking about how these rescues are often called “miracles,” but the story stops there. It did not, of course, tell us the aftermath, so I began formulating a story that shows us how they were brought together and tells us what happens to these people over a long span of time.
I felt that this novel was about the characters and how people change over time. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
The central male character, Jackson, rescues nine-year-old twin girls. Although they they are twins, I saw them as being very distinct from each other, and I imagined they would lead dissimilar lives. Not only are their sexual orientations different, but one is worldly and self-destructive, while the other begins as a bit naïve, which leads them both to disastrous circumstances. Jackson, who achieves literary fame by writing about the rescue, suffers from a case of hubris, which results in his star falling. Their personas and their relationships, particularly their romantic entanglements, are affected, often negatively, by both the inner conflicts of the three characters and by chance. I see this as something we all endure. Some things we decide upon by choice, while others are left to happenstance and over which we have no control. All of these experiences lead to “how we end up.”
When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the story develop as you were writing?
The “skeleton” of the story was apparent to me from the start, but as I continued writing, the details—specific events, relationships, and the consequences of the characters’ reckless behavior—appeared. This is pretty much my writing modus operandi in general. For me, writing is a discovery process.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
My next book is about a character who leads five different lives, each detached from the others. It is somewhat experimental, maybe, but this is all I presently can say about it. If fortune smiles upon me, I might finish it within 6-8 months; after that, I would think publication would follow in about the same amount of time.
BEING RESCUED IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING SAVED.
Jackson Levee, a professor and writer, plucks two drowning twin girls from the Gulf of Mexico. Their attractive single mother has her own ideas about how to thank the hero. Jackson and their family go from being complete strangers one day to intimate friends the next. Jackson soars to literary fame after writing about his rescue of the twins, while the girls mature into beautiful but troubled young women. Over the next twenty-five years, everyone’s recklessness in love, marriage, and life produces wild and devastating results, forcing the three of them to struggle as they try to realize their destinies and find balance in life.
Douglas Wells crafts an intoxicating story teeming with passion and exhilaration to danger, addiction, and despair.
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After a serious car crash, Stefan comes round from a coma with a case of amnesia. Eva, his younger sister, is the only one who can see that Stefan is not really Stefan at all…When a strange letter arrives, written in gothic handwriting and addressed to Stefan, saying there has been a terrible mistake and signed by a mysterious ‘Hyacinthe’, the puzzle starts to unravel. Along with Eva, Stefan’s friends, Kim, Thomas, Harry, and Andrew must try to solve the mystery but to do that they will have to take part in a dangerous race, called The Game of Life.
Anna Musewald’s A Game of Life is a YA fantasy and mystery novel which draws you in from the first page. The prose is so easy to read; it is witty and enchanting and feels perfect for a YA audience. In spite of the simplicity of the language, it doesn’t feel at all patronising or one-dimensional. The ‘game’ from the title is quite complex, with lots of imaginative systems and challenging tasks set for the players which really immerses the reader in the experience. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth, such as Apollo and the Sirens, woven through the narrative. The plot is in the vein of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which could make it seem derivative, but with an original and inventive spin, it manages to feel fresh and exciting. Meaningful themes of friendship, loyalty and bravery flesh out the fun storyline.
The pacing is excellent; I was instantly engrossed by the opening chapter and the book never let me go! We are drawn in by the question of what has happened to Stefan and led through a number of rabbit holes and strange happenings. The revelation isn’t made until the end which kept me greedily turning the pages, and there are also plenty of action scenes to keep the reader hooked until the final page.
I had total belief in the characters, who all have distinctive personalities, and I loved the way that the friendships and rivalries are portrayed, showing the tangled and complex nature of relationships. The relationship between Stefan and Eva is particularly poignant and depicts the protective and intuitive nature of sibling relationships. The dialogue is funny and clever, and the conversation seems very authentic for a group of young people.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was the setting of Parsi and the fully formed ‘underground’ city created by the author which is full of fantastical and magical detail. Musewald excels at writing surroundings and conjures up place in a beguiling and descriptive way so that the reader feels as though they are on the journey with the characters.
This is a great addition to the young fiction genre, full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense; I enjoyed the journey immensely. I gobbled it up in one go, and I can’t wait for another riveting story from Anna Musewald.
Pages: 202 | ASIN: B01M0ZBKXP
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High school, a time for learning who you are, what your values are, and what matters in life. Gavin is the popular, most liked guy in his school. He is the trend setter and his hand-picked friends are at the top of the social pecking order. When they start planning their last summer bash before becoming seniors; he is quickly ripped out of his comfort zone when his dad decides he needs to spend his last vacation giving back to the community. Gavin is going to spend his summer working as a volunteer for camp Lift Me Up, it is a camp for kids with life threatening illnesses, a chance for them to feel normal. Here Gavin reconnects with an old friend Jacob, and they befriend Marissa, a girl with a lot of emotional baggage. Together the three of them bond and look to make their senior year one to remember not just for them, but for the whole school.
Gavin is your typical self-absorbed teenager, he’s on the football team, one of the popular kids, and comes from a family of money. Everyone knew that kid in high school, if you were not part of that crowd chances are you despised him, if you were in the crowd you looked up to him, or at least followed so not to lose your standing. When Jacob stopped following the cool crowd Gavin abandoned him. He never looked into why his best friend suddenly changed over the course of a summer. Gavin soon learned with his service at Lift Me Up what brought about the change in Jacob. Following the back and forth between Gavin and Jacob is exciting, you are never quite sure what their feelings for each other really are. Seeing Gavin grow is emotional, he learns that there is a lot more to the world than his little bubble, and he learns to really care for other people. This awakening is uplifting, it gives you hope that society is not doomed.
One of the most predominate themes in this novel is that love has no boundaries or appearances. High school romances are often flirty and based on who is who and what social class you fall into. While this novel starts out following those trends and is easily relatable to readers, it soon twists and becomes so much more. The story of Caleb, the boy with leukemia, that latches onto a resentful Gavin is a catalyst for the change in Gavin. His memory is a constant reminder of how fragile life is and that you can’t live your life trying to live up to everyone else’s standards. I was really touched by Caleb and how his short time impacted so many lives. It is a reminder that it doesn’t matter how long we are here on earth, but what we do with the time we are given. Caleb melted the heart of Gavin and reminded him there is more to life than his little social circle. Gavin and Jacob’s relationship is touching and so fluid you just can’t help but want to see how life goes for them both. Everyone should have a friendship like that in life, someone that loves you unconditionally and is there for you no questions ask. Life Sliding by S.L. Mauldin is a touching novel, thought provoking and full of compassion and hope.
Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01BBCY5RO
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Titch the Itch, written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends the only way he knows how–by doing his job. When his wayward, “no-reason-at-all” itching isn’t appreciated in the home of one large family, Titch the Itch seeks to make friends outside the home. Trying his luck with a cat, a neighbor, a police officer, and a park full of children, Titch learns that life is hard for an itch of his sort. His journey leads him to the hospital where he soon learns that he has had a bigger impact than he realized.
B.C.R. Fegan has constructed a touching story centered around the personification of a lowly itch. The author has managed to take a difficult concept and design a precious plot surrounding the poor little itch’s desire to be needed and to have lasting friendships. Titch is a memorable character with whom young readers will empathize. As he moves from one character to the next, he experiences rejection and disappointment. Fegan has included some important lessons in this wonderful picture book. In addition to friendship, the author teaches the benefits of being determined and the results of perseverance.
As with any children’s book, it is essential to include those moments of humor. Fegan does not lack in this area. The unforeseen circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the book are whimsical and encourage children to reread the book to find things they may have missed–a wonderful aspect to include to inspire young readers to delve further into the intricacies of text. As a teacher and parent, I more than appreciate those small amounts of mystery which energize readers. Kudos to the author!
The illustrations for Titch the Itch are fantastic. Lenny Wen’s vision of Titch is a cross between a ghost and a friendly dust bunny–exactly how one might visualize an itch. The facial expressions of Titch absolutely make the story. His woeful looks tug at the reader’s heartstrings. The color schemes chosen to brighten the pages make this a beautiful story to read aloud.
B.C.R. Fegan’s story of the needy little itch just looking for friendship is a sweet tale perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty.
Pages: 33 | ASIN: B076342B9D
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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 heal the kids she physically abuses, 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 need to find out 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 malevolent, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy humanity.
The boys break into homes, dig up graves, elude kidnappers, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront an evil 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…
Finalist in the 2015 Wishing Shelf Book Awards
Honorable Mention in the 2015 Halloween Book Festival
Runner-Up in the 2015 Southern California Book Festival
Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2015
Bronze Medal in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Awards
Honorable Mention in the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival
Winner in the 2015 Hollywood Book Festival
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Underlord of the Netherworld once again brilliantly melds age old wisdom and youthful spirit into a daring tale of life after Peter Pan. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
In Legends of the Pan 1 (Essence of Neverland):
I wanted to create something multicultural that would help empower children and young adults around the world. This evolved into explaining life balance and human nature; how forgiveness allows personal growth; and how each one of us has the power to create an immense and lasting change in the lives of others.
In Legends of the Pan 2 (Underlord of the Netherworld):
Tolerance of others different from oneself permits the exploration of different points of view within the fascinating scope of human experience. Appearances can be deceiving, and people can change. Friends can become enemies, and enemies can become friends. Most people have the need to improve themselves and their environment, but it depends on one’s values as to what the outcome will be. Impermanence can be our greatest ally if we focus on the goodness within.
The invasion of Malomen, a swarthy society of bloodlusting sea creatures, has brought with it the tides of war. What was your inspiration for these creatures?
I love the sea, aquariums, and scuba diving. I spend hours next to a large aquarium while I write. Many times I stop and marvel at the marine life. While writing this book, I paused to observe the beautiful designs on the skin of a large plecostomus. It made me think about mudskippers that have adapted to land and sea, and then a race of Malomen was born in my mind.
Underlord of the Netherworld earnestly explores the powers of communication, compassion, and community. What morals did you try to capture while developing your characters?
In Legends of the Pan 1 (Essence of Neverland):
I chose four children to be gifted the power of the Pan. The fairies selected them because they each had a special inherent nature. Kuthanda is endowed with love, Dobráta with compassion, Khwam Glaohán with courage, and Rakaná with creativity, which is the literal meaning of each child’s name in their native tongue. Each child was from a different country, raised in a different belief system, and suffered the loss of loved ones due to a different tragedy. These children found happiness because they chose to move on with their lives, keep an open mind, and lose themselves in the service of others instead of wallowing in self-pity.
It is with our thoughts and volition that we create our personal worlds. It is up to each individual to decide which path will be taken. Even if one discovers the chosen path was a mistake, he or she can change direction at any moment, learn from the mistake, and continue to grow, which is what Captain Hook, Chief Najoshi, and Chief Adagash managed to do.
In Legends of the Pan 2 (Underlord of the Netherworld):
Tolerance of others different from oneself permits the exploration of different points of views within the fascinating scope of human experiences. Appearances can be deceiving, and people can change. Friends can become enemies, and enemies can become friends.
Reichi’s innocence gave him the compassion required to save all of the islanders above and below the sea. He could not be swayed to commit an evil act or cause harm since he had never been tainted by the negative affairs of men.
After many years Najoshi had learned to forgive past trespasses, and have compassion for all living beings, tempered with wisdom. He had decided to remain steadfast in his beliefs, even in the most dire circumstances. The chief, his queen, and their children understand the connectivity of all things, the great power found in unity, and that education is the path, which leads away from ignorance and primal instincts.
Will there be a book three in your Peter Pan series? If so, where will it take readers?
Yes, I’ve started writing Legends of the Pan 3. It begins ten years after where we left off in book two. The Merpeople, Malomen, and humans have thrived through cooperation and education. However, several things from their past, which originated in book one and two, are about to come to light to haunt them.
Peter is gone, causing the decline of Neverland and a struggle for power. This once abundant world of dreams come true, soon converts into a place of violence and evil without the positive influence of the Pan. Many have gone missing and none can escape its shores. Neither pirates, nor Indians, or Merpeople and fairies have the magic it takes to defeat the demonic darkness that threatens the very existence of every man, woman, and child living on the island. Can anything save them from this pending doom before it is too late? What can prevent Neverland from becoming void of any hope as it turns into a barren wasteland eventually consumed by the sands of time? Perhaps the answer lies within the essence of this mystical isle, inspiring the hope and motivating the action needed to save them all.
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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.
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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