Blog Archives

The Secrets We Keep

Everyone has secrets…but mine will get you killed.

Ariel

I go by many names. Today, I’m Ariel.
I have a secret. One that I can’t tell.
A secret that can get you killed.
I’ve spent the last few years looking over my shoulder waiting for them to find me.
I know they are looking for me.
And then I meet him.
He makes me want things I’ve never thought possible.
He comes with no compromises as his kisses ignite something inside me.
He shatters my illusions, demands to know the truth.
Can I trust him? Can I let him in? Do I have a choice?

Luca

I see it now.
She’s hiding something.
Ariel doesn’t exist.
She panics when I walk through her front door.
I’ve never seen anyone so afraid and I refuse to leave her like this.
Not only does she ignite a fire inside me, she sets off every protective instinct I have.
And then she vanishes into thin air…
I will do everything within my power to find her, to bring her home.

*** A full length novel with a happily ever after, no cliffhanger, and plenty of steam. ***

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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by [McLellan, Michael A.]

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, by Michael A. McLellan, takes place in the 1860s and revolves around the lives of three people trying desperately to find their way in post-Civil War America. Henry, a man freed from slavery but never free from the horrors he endured, finds himself assisting Clara Hanfield in her quest to reunite with Lieutenant John Elliott, the man she loves and her father loathes. All three are caught up in the government’s plot to push the Native Americans from their land once and for all. Fate has dealt quite the hand to Henry, and his introduction to Clara and her mission to find John poses yet another obstacle to Henry’s quest to find the freedom and peace he deserves.

McLellan’s writing is simply breathtaking. The richness of the language he gives his characters immediately reels in the reader. The exchanges between Henry and Eliza are tender, and her early attempts to refine his speaking habits are affectionate and determined. The trials the two endure to survive as slaves in the South and their attempt to escape the lynch mobs running rampant tore at my heart. McLellan’s words ring all too true. Henry and Eliza’s story is painful, tragic, and well-crafted to convey the horrific circumstances of the era.

Clara’s rescue by Henry is one of those moments in the book worth rereading. Henry, for all intents and purposes, is making amends in any way he can for the loss he has suffered and the guilt he feels for that loss. Sweeping in and pulling Clara from the hands of the enemy, Henry begins a friendship he never could have seen coming. Theirs is a touching relationship punctuated with fleeting moments of light-hearted banter and anchored with fear and a fierce desire on both their parts to find their way to the right side of things. Clara, described as being much like her father, uses it to her advantage as she faces insurmountable challenges on her journey with Henry. Hers is a character refreshingly unlike any other I have read in the genre of historical fiction.

Randall breaks my heart. He is one of those characters the reader will root for from his first appearance. Without giving away too much of Randall’s subplot, I will say that from those first moments of indecision with Clara at West Point. I wanted to see Randall come out on top. The backstory involving his own child and his love for Clara makes for a unique connection and offers the reader all the more reason to admire Randall.

I am giving In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. McLellan has written a piece of historical fiction incorporating elements for every reader. His plotlines involving a family divided and the tragedy surrounding Henry’s life as a slave intertwine to create a beautiful story of friendship, trust, and stand as a testament to the strength of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book to any fan of novels from the Civil War era. McLellan’s characters are truly unforgettable.

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B071YMXDQL

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90% Truth, 10% Not

T.L. Henry Author Interview

T.L. Henry Author Interview

The Life and Times of Tommy Kaos is the first-person account of the main character’s life from his earliest memory to his incarceration as a teenager. What was your inspiration for this heart wrenching novel?

To show the world about the awful truth of child abuse that society turns a blind eye to.

I understand that this book is based on a true story. What parts of the book were true, and what parts did you take liberties with?

The story is 90% truth, 10% not….we will leave the 10% a guess to protect the actual family and people in the book.

I felt like this novel gave a good view into the life of abused children and how and why they grow up to be who they are. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

To bring awareness, for people to look for signs of abuse. To help with child betterment. For people to listen and love the children of the world. Statistics for 2015 released in January of 2017 from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System says there are 683,000 are
neglected and physically abused yearly in the United States. It’s a shockingly high amount and if I can help one child not become Tommy Kaos
we’ve succeeded in our mission. We’d love to help all the children, everywhere.

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

The next book we’ve written is the next book in the Tommy Kaos series. The Life and Times of Tommy Kaos “Hell on Wheels” Book Two and it is currently available.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

This true story based on my life growing up was by no means anything close to being normal. No one in my life heard my cries for help. Please, LISTEN TO THE CHILDREN. Their lives are in our hands and with proper guidance will be destined for greatness.

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Time Travel and Time Slips

Lisa Nicell Treanor Author Interview

Lisa Nicell Treanor Author Interview

Once Upon a Time Slip follows young China Winter as she discovers her ability to cross worlds and finds herself summoned by the father of time travel to save humanity. What was the inspiration behind the setup to this thrilling novel?

I am absolutely fascinated by the paranormal, history and the whole steampunk movement. As an artist, a lot of my paintings and sculptures are heavily influenced by these three genres and my interest in art eventually began to seep into my writing. I have a love of antiques and learning as much as I can about past inventors. I also read a lot of scientific journals and have a huge interest in the whole concept of parallel universes, time travel and time slips. My biggest inspiration behind the book was the great Nikola Tesla. Other influences have been the volumes of history books and war stories I have devoured over the years. I wanted contrast in the story and so my main character is a futuristic, steampunk girl. I liked the idea of having a protagonist who would be willing to sacrifice themselves in order to save the whole of humanity if it was necessary.

China Winter is an intriguing character that continues to develop throughout the novel. What were some obstacles you felt were important, to highlight her character development?

The biggest obstacle for China was having to choose sides in war which seemed to have no boundaries. Her loyalties were being tested throughout the story. Being faced with life altering decisions which would have led to suffering and loss, was the ultimate challenge for such a young girl. Falling in love with a dead man led to a fork in her path of destiny.

The story takes place in a steampunk future where wild inventions abound. What were you favorite inventions or tech to create and write for?

Without giving too much away, I loved creating new time travel devices throughout the story. I felt that it was necessary to have more than one mode of time travel transportation in order to give the full impact of how extremely advanced technology is yet to become within the future.

I especially loved writing scenes where ghosts from the past would react to futuristic technology and end up coming to all manner of baffling and humorous conclusions about what they were witnessing

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

I am currently working on the sequel to Once Upon A Time Slip which will become available in 2019. I cannot leave the readers breathless and tingling with anticipation as they stand at the edge of a mighty cliff hanger!

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Once Upon A Time Slip by [Nicell Treanor, Lisa]The future will crumble as history re-writes itself in the great time travel apocalypse.

It is the year 2258 when nineteen year old China Winter discovers her ability to cross the veil between worlds. On a quest to find her missing brother Maddox, she finds herself summoned by the father of time travel – Nikola Tesla to help save the whole of humanity; both past and future souls. China must sacrifice so much as she is dragged ever deeper into a treacherous and eternal time war.

Stepping back in time from her steampunk-esque existence, China finds herself caught up in the most incredible battles. Every army that ever existed can materialise in the wrong time or place, at any given moment to lay siege upon the earth. Slipping back and forth between the mists of time, history re-writes itself, playing havoc on the very fabric of reality. Can she survive the world of hauntings, poltergeist manifestations and time slips to save the universe from complete obliteration?

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A Victim of Circumstances

Arti Chugpai Author Interview

Arti Chugpai Author Interview

Phoenix tells the story of Sonam and her trials and tribulations as she builds her life as a woman in India. What was your inspiration for this heart-felt novel?

I have been inspired by experience and observation. My family background has been similar, and I have closely observed the lives of urban well-educated women in India. Despite a progressive education and multifaceted skills, they are expected to conform to obsolete family norms and not allowed to make life choices. This is especially true for the year 1983, when the protagonist Sonam wants to extricate herself from an abusive marriage. Indian society then was full of paradoxes: on one hand was the evolution of a knowledge society and unprecedented technological advancement and on the other deeply entrenched dogmatic beliefs in gender stereotypes. Instead of sympathising with a woman who was a victim of circumstances, her family and friends blamed her for her misfortunes and ostracised her.

I felt that this novel confronted gender stereotypes in a bold way. What themes did you want to capture while writing this book?

I have always felt strongly about the unequal playing field provided to women, even in the educated elite class, and the perception that they are appendages to male family members, whether father, brother or husband. Why should women be accorded respect only if they have empathetic men to battle for them? This discrimination is especially difficult to combat since one is pushing against one’s parents and closest family members whom one loves and respects. Through this novel, I wanted to highlight the need to cherish and support daughters as individuals regardless of the presence and status of their life partners.

I felt that Sonam was a multilayered character that was judged by her failings rather than her success. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

While her parents despair of what will happen to Sonam after she leaves her husband and judge her by her failure in relationship, she demonstrates exceptional skills and shines in her workplace as an achiever. Her personality growth from 1983 to 2017 despite all odds illustrates the triumph of the spirit over ostracism, bigotry, negativity and injustice. She is rejuvenated from the ashes, just like the mythical bird, phoenix.

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

My next book, tentatively titled ‘A Journey Within’ has a very different story though it also deals with women’s issues. The lives of 16 Indian women of varying age groups intersect when they go on an all-women’s trip to Spain and Portugal. As events unfold during and after the trip, each of them reaches a realization that changes her life forever.

Author Links: Amazon | Website

Phoenix by [Chugpai, Arti]

Caught in an abusive marriage, Sonam Aggarwal finds no family support when she struggles to break free. However, with unwavering grit, she makes a place for herself in the world and rises like a phoenix from the ashes of her dead marriage to discover true companionship and professional success. 

The evolution of a knowledge society in India that places a premium on human knowledge and skills regardless of gender finally bequeaths her a coveted place in the sun. The novel focuses on the core strength of a woman that asserts her value despite external trappings and women characters who go through their individual struggle with the inevitable challenges that threaten their existence. 

Phoenix, a novel, traces the life of Sonam and her upper class family in South Delhi from 1983 to 2017. It highlights the curious paradoxes in Indian society: its global leadership in digitalization contrasted with antiquated prejudices and gender stereotypes.

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Based on Actual People

Michael Haden

A Deal With God tells the tale of sweethearts Rebeccah and Leon whos fates are intertwined after a romantic summer night. What were some themes you wanted to capture in their relationship?

I believe the reason “Deal” has been so popular with readers and reviewers alike is because the interpersonal relationship between the characters are so real. The truth is there relationship between Leon and Rebeccah was very rocky. She blamed him for everything that was wrong in her life. The night before his marriage to Deana he tells her he is shocked to be remarrying because his first marriage was so bad.

This book is inspired by a true story. What were the real events that you used in this book?

The real event in question is that she actually died in the car wreck in chapter 2. Most characters in this book are based on actual people with real personalities and emotions. I love asking readers if they can tell me which parts of the book are real and actual verses what I made up.

We learn about Deana’s life and her hardships at the beginning of the story which builds a beautiful persona. What were some things that surprised you the most about Deana?

To keep the man who raped her from ever finding her when he got out of prison they changed her name and put in her in a boys orphanage in a different school zone. My old asst coach said it best: “If you asked Murphy (Deana) to run through a brick wall she would be back in a few minutes with a sledge hammer.” The story is unique in the feature it gives you the best of both fiction and non-fiction literary worlds.

Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Amazon

A Deal With God: The Power of One: A Christian Romance by [Haden, Michael]Is she an angel, a ghost or something much, much more? 

Deana Murphy endured a life and death of brutality and hardship. She met every challenge God gave her and it made her stronger and stronger. God had a plan for her and she would need every ounce of this strength. Deana always dreamed of a bigger life. However, she never realized smaller can be just perfect. She wants romance and love, but she never realized sometimes it can take a little Divine intervention. In return, though, Deana senses the payback price will be steep. it is something big but God does not fully disclose the task. Desperate for a second chance, Deana agrees to do “anything ” God desires.

Deana Murphy had been unlucky at love. Yet the man who was perfect for her lived in one of the smallest towns in the United States. When God gave her a second chance at life, he was actually playing matchmaker. He sends her to rural Georgia, deep in the country to meet Leon Samuel’s. Sparks fly and love prospers as these two paths intertwine. This book features the greatest pick up line any woman can use on a man .“A Deal with God” is the romance novel readers have been waiting for.

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Mr. Wonderful

Mr. Wonderful by [Smith, Daniel]

Mr. Wonderful, by Daniel Blake Smith, is the touching tale of Brian Fenton, a college professor in the throes of a crisis like none he has ever faced. Brian and his wife, Corinne, are parents to a thirty-year-old son, Danny. The two adopted Danny as an infant at Brian’s insistence. From the beginning of Danny’s life with the Fentons, Corinne struggles to find her motherly instincts and is, for lack of a better word, relieved when Danny becomes a self-sufficient adult and leaves them as empty nesters. Danny’s return to their home turns Corinne and Brian’s lives upside down as Brian, in turn, deals with his elderly father’s declining health and the increasing pressures of a career he, may or may not, still love.

Smith weaves an intricate story of love lost between parents and children. The first person narrative is highly effective at drawing the reader into Brian’s sorrow, frustration, and his panic at being the voice of reason both at home between Corinne and Danny and long distance as he goes head-to-head with his brother, Jeff, over his father’s care. It is hard to watch Brian ponder the differences between his memories of his father’s treatment of him and his brother and the way in which his stepmother, Claire, speaks so lovingly of Robert, his father, as she cares for him. His emotions are raw, real, and easily relatable.

Corinne–not my favorite character. Her coldness toward Danny and her disdain at having to see him again in her home is as amazing as it is heartbreaking. Danny, not the best behaved boy on the block, is not welcomed by Corinne, and the blame she throws at Brian is somewhat misplaced and a struggle to witness. I found myself wanting her turnaround to come–and to come soon. Smith has written a memorable, if infuriating, character in Corinne.

Brian’s relationship and subsequent discoveries about his father’s past are poignant. Robert, ailing and entering the stages of dementia, is also hard to like. The manner in which Brian describes his past with his father left me wanting desperately to not feel sorry for Robert. Here, again, Smith crafts a turn of events that left this reader feeling a sense of compassion she did not see coming–but appreciated in the end.

I have to admit I saw Brian as weak. I didn’t want to, but I found myself wanting to shake him and jerk him upright from the downhill slide he was surely taking as the days passed him by. By the story’s climax, in Brian’s hometown of Juniper, Texas, I was more than ready for Brian, and Corinne, to show growth. Smith creates the perfect opportunity for self-awareness and life-changing decisions with his choice to bring his characters together in Juniper.

I have to give Mr. Wonderful an emphatic 5 stars out of 5. Smith’s use of the alternating first person points of view creates a deep connection between readers and characters. The Fenton family and their trials are not to be missed.

Pages: 164 | ASIN: B077Z3WK9N

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Phoenix

Phoenix, written by Arti Chugpai, tells the story of Sonam Aggarwal and her trials and tribulations as she builds her life as a woman in India. Sonam is a complex character with beautiful soul, intelligence and integrity. Her presence demands authority, and as the Director of Publishing for a branch in India, she has certainly earned respect and accolades. However, there is a part of her that is broken by a moment in her life that she explicitly calls “The Betrayal”. Her family and friends judge her by her relationship failings rather than her career successes, leaving Sonam feeling lost and alone. Will Sonam be able to rise above the stereotypes and convictions of her family and friends to find true happiness?

Phoenix is a novel based on love, life and conforming to gender stereotypes. It’s the year 1998, and there’s a budding romance growing between a middle-aged business tycoon by the name of Kunal Vats and the main leading lady, Sonam Aggarwals. Set in India, Phoenix explores Sonan Aggarwal’s life through her ever-changing family, relationships, career aspirations and friendships.

The story then flits between two different eras of Sonam Aggarwal’s life, one part telling her life as it is in 2017 and the other turning back the clock to the year 1998. It’s here we learn about her life and the changing family dynamics and reoccurring expectations that seem to haunt Sonam, no matter how old her or her family members are.

It was refreshing to read a novel based on someone who is aged between their 40’s-60’s. Most modern love stories center around young adults in their twenties and Phoenix was a gentle reminder that age is no barrier when it comes to pursuing love and happiness. I enjoyed the sense of realism as the characters experienced a love that did not always result in happy endings. Instead, Phoenix dove deep into a raw and personal kind of love, where abuse, betrayal and forgiveness are all prominent players in the relationship game.

Phoenix also explores the events of Sonam’s life so thoroughly that at times you feel as though you are almost reading a biography of a real person. The novel also went into depth to showcase some of India’s culture, including foods, family life and working conditions. Arti Chugpai’s style of writing is confident and expressive, using strong descriptive words and phrases to demonstrate their points within the plot line. Fitting, considering the main character Sonam is a publisher herself.

Phoenix also brings to light the society changes and gender differences in India, and how things change over a period of time. It shows the difference in expectations between men and women, especially when it comes to love and relationships. Women are considered to be successful if they maintain a healthy, happy family, with their career aspirations and achievements often shadowed by the relationship, falls they have had in their life.

I would recommend this for anyone looking for a novel about budding romance, rising above the gender stereotypes and Indian culture.

Pages: 232 | ISBN: 1543701043

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Love, Greed, or to Cover up a Crime

Cliff Protzman Author Interview

Cliff Protzman Author Interview

Dead Air follows Glenn, a security guard investigating the murder of his friend who was shot while on the air at a radio station. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

Like Beck, my high school best friend owned a radio station. He sold out before being shot, however. The only constant we have is change. Commercial radio exemplifies that change.

Radio was born to play the music that record companies were trying to sell. It soon become the primary form of entertainment for Americans broadcasting the early soap operas. Then came rock and roll. Talk radio attracts a wide range of demographics. Interestingly, I graduated from the same school as Alan Freed, who coined the iconic term Rock and Roll.

Beck struggles to put the past behind him and move forward. The murder at the station was a perfect analogy of transformation as Beck seeks the killer.

Beck is investigating the murder of his friend Zito, who we slowly learn is not who Beck thought. Did you plan this slow reveal of Zito’s backstory or did it happen organically while writing?

Beck and Zito’s friendship started as teenagers. In the decades since school, they have drifted apart. Life leads people down many paths. We become more guarded, reluctant to share the many secrets with those we depended on in youth.

The victim is an important character in a story. Murderers rarely plan to kill without a motive. There must be a reason to want that person dead. All mystery plots boil down to one of three motives, love, greed, or to cover up a crime.

The investigation of any murder, real or fiction, is a slow process. Investigators don’t know the full story immediately. People conceal secrets, they lie. The search is a painstaking pursuit to reveal the skeletons in the closet.

I think of this novel as a whodunit story that puts fascinating characters in interesting situations. Are there any scenes in your story that you had fun writing?

Beck and Irene, his romantic interest/partner, track his missing client to a hunting cabin where she is being held. Nothing in his white-collar career has prepared him for this confrontation. They are fighting through thick woods and underbrush to reach the cabin while carrying guns.

In order to survive, he must physically subdue a hired enforcer and be prepared to kill if necessary. Beck has become a hard ass with a chip on his shoulder. He comes to the epiphany that Irene is the love of his life and he must protect her at all costs.

This is the scene where he recognizes the past is behind him. What the future holds he doesn’t know.

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

I am writing the second in the Glenn Beckert series, Dead Secrets. In this tale, Beck mistakenly dismisses a missing person case until the body is found on the river bank. Beck endeavors to track the missing time of the deceased’s final hours and find the killer. He is quickly immersed onto the dark web where the secrets of artificial intelligent are a commodity. As a further distraction, Beck’s perplexed by a startling revelation by Irene, creating further conflict for him. He’s searching for a killer in a world where secrets stay secret or you die. Dead Secrets will be available in late 2018.
I have just completed a short story, Who Swiped Bobby Bucco Bear, a Christmas mystery featuring Glenn Beckert. I plan to have this available next year.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Website

DEAD AIR: A Glenn Beckert Mystery by [Protzman, Cliff]Dead Air signals trouble at the radio station. Glenn Beckert discovers his high school best friend is shot in the head while on the air. Beck, the owner of Blue Water Security, is employed to provide security for the station.

He becomes willingly embroiled in the investigation by the not-so-innocent widow. The list of potential suspects is long, gleaned from the numerous extramarital affairs of the victim and widow. The pending sale of the radio station has created friction between his now dead friend, Richie Zito and the major stockholders. Motives for murder becomes increasingly murky after the search reveals an encrypted file on Zito’s laptop. 

Beck enlists the help of an old flame, Irene Schade, to break the code, revealing a money laundering network leading to the financial and political powers of his beloved city of Pittsburgh. Their collaboration ignites the flames of passion each had considered extinguished.

A former college teammate, police Lieutenant Paglironi delivers a message to back off. Arrogantly, he ignores his friend’s advice. The threats from less friendly sources are more ominous, forcing Beck to move in an unfamiliar world. A startling revelation from his client forces Beck to deal with his inner conviction of right and wrong, challenging the gray areas of his ethical principles. Betraying his client’s confidence could expose the killer. The alternative is to confront the suspect and take matters into his own hands. Either way his life is in jeopardy. 

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Forbidden Book Trailer

God’s love shines through Ellen’s excitement as she dons the red dress won from the Bridal Shoppe. Daniel has invited all the ladies to attend Hutson’s Ball, but excitement dims as she recalls the animosity between their new neighbors Marigold and Harriet. While Anne’s ex-husband tries to ruin her life, Bitty is miserable because she and the chief of police have called it quits. But Ellen knows hearts are changing thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit. In spite of the women’s resolve to remain aloof, Ellen has faith Jesus can save them and God will keep them. If they could call a truce for one night and enjoy the ball, Ellen would be happy, but what happens is inevitable. Andrew shows up in a drunken stupor and confronts Anne about their son. From there it all becomes interesting as Harriet asserts authority and Bitty is stunned to see another woman on the arm of the chief of police. When Daniel is encountered by Madonna, his old girlfriend, Ellen knows no matter what happens God has a plan for each person. All the elements of God’s grace and forgiveness are seen in Forbidden through the changing of each of these women’s lives. One by one, Ellen knows the Lord will break them down—she only prays that He will do it gently.

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