Blog Archives

Covert Activities

Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

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.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Fleeing the Shadows

Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two)

Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series by Phyllis A. Still. Continuing only days after the events of the previous Defiance on Indian Creek, we are swept away as our brave, thirteen-year-old heroine, Mary Shirley, must flee with her family deeper into the Kentucky frontier. They seek to escape the British loyalists who dog their every step, but as they run farther from colonial territory proper, the family finds themselves in equal peril and at the mercy of Native American braves. Mary’s Papa relies on her to do what is right and help protect their family.

Having read the previous book in the series, this was a welcome return to the world of Dangerous Loyalties. Still has a great YA voice that carries the reader away with her pages. The novel has a faster pace to it, considering the family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. For a historical YA novel, Still does not hold back on making sure that we feel the desperation of the family in every chapter. This anxiety is only enhanced as the family drives deeper into the wild unknown North American frontier.

Still keeps the reader much more on the edge of our seat with this narrative, because the stakes or that much higher. If the first could be called a ‘slow burn’, this can be called a ‘flash fire’. The story rips right off the page. The setting of the summer of 1775 keeps the historical urgency matching the urgency of this very personal story, but the overarching nationwide feelings are much more muted in this second book of the series by virtue of the very present danger. At times the narrative leans on the setup of the previous too much to be a true standalone narrative, but as a second book it works perfectly well enough.

Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult and sometimes questionable decisions of what they should do, while running from the loyalists, even while Indians shadow their every step. Mary is still dealing with the emotional turmoil after delivering the dispatches and her Papa only makes this worse. Overall, Fleeing the Shadows is a stirring, nail-biter of a read and will be sure to please fans of the first book of the series.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B072C23D6R

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Brutal Reality of Humans

Simon Rumney Author Interview

Simon Rumney Author Interview

Another Tribe follows Julii, a strong female Native American that is forced to confront racism in the southern states of America during the civil war. Why did you pick 1860’s America to set your story in?

Another Tribe is the second book in a three book series which explores Self Esteem, Racism and War. Another Tribe, the book which deals with racism, is set amid the turmoil of 1860’s America because there has rarely been a time and place where skin color has so dominated the psyche of a nation. Viewing the American Civil War through the thoughts of a beautiful; deeply intelligent, yet persecuted Native American woman exposes the despicable personal suffering of a victim of racism.

This time in America is filled with lofty ideals but also cruelty. What were some things you felt were important to highlight in this story?

Another Tribe highlights the contradiction of The Northern States who claimed to be fighting for ‘racial equality’ while continuing to persecute the Tribes of their native population. The story also explores the brutal reality of humans being owned as property by the Southern States. By compelling a Confederate officer of high birth to fall deeply in love with a Native American woman I am forcing him to confront his own marrow deep racism.

Julii comes across a wounded Confederate Captain and this chance meeting sets off a series of historical events. What was the inspiration for the relationship between Julii and Robert?

In the three book series entitled ‘Our Eternal Cures’, Julii and Robert are reincarnated as the catalyst for radical change in three very different periods of history. In ‘Another Self’ their struggle with Self-Esteem brings the Ancient Roman Republic to its knees. In Another Tribe hatred of racism leads to defeat of the Southern states. In ‘Another War’ their meddling provokes events which cause World War One.

Why do you think the quote ‘“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” is perfect for your novel?

There is an underlying story which passes as a continuous thread of mystery through all thee books. At the end of Another War that mystery is revealed. Without spoiling the final twist I can say both characters are being reincarnated because their actions in a past life have condemned them to return and repeat them time after time.

Another Tribe and the first book Another Self are both exceptional pieces of fiction. What is your writing process and/or experience as a writer?

Everything I write comes from deep within my troubled soul. All of the drama experienced by my characters is influenced by the unique and traumatic experiences of my own life. Far too many words to write here but clicking on this link will take you to a full explanation of who I am and why I must write as I do: GoodReads.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Another Tribe (Our Eternal Curse #2)“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” Julii, a beautiful, insecure and victimized Tennessee Indian is caught up in the white man’s world after saving the life of a Confederate captain wounded at the battle of Shiloh. Overcoming great disadvantage, cruel prejudice and bitter persecution, Julii harnesses her intrinsic genius to become the Confederate States’ most aggressive blockade-runner. Using conspiracy, manipulation and bribery to punish those who wronged her, Julii sets off a chain of events that leads to General Sherman burning down Atlanta, his infamous “March to the sea”, and a total Union victory, while condemning her to suffer for even more sins of her past.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Most Fascinating People In History

James W. George Author Interview

James W. George Author Interview

My Father’s Kingdom is a historical fiction novel centered around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600’s. Why did you want to write a novel about this event and time?

I’m a big fan of historical fiction and I wanted to choose a topic the casual reader was not familiar with. King Philip’s War was one of the most tragic and devastating conflicts in American history, and too many of us have never even heard of it.

We have plenty of novelists focusing on topics like the Viking invasions of England, the Tudors, and the American Civil War…and that’s wonderful. These are almost always fantastic works. In my opinion, however, there are approximately 150 years of colonial American history (1620-1770) that are woefully neglected in fiction. There are certainly some great novels about this era, mostly about Salem, but I think the era as a whole deserves a lot more attention.

I find the Puritans and Separatists to be some of the most fascinating people in history. Their piety, courage and diligence were truly remarkable, but history is well aware of how they treated anyone alien to their political and religious worldview. The history of New England is also the history of incredible Native American nations like the Wampanoag and Narragansett, and their stories need to be told.

The narrative of this story is told from the perspective of native Americans and the pilgrims. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people. What kind of research did you do to ensure the story was as accurate as possible?

I’m not a historian but fortunately there is a wealth of historical research about this era, much of which I mention in my Author’s Notes. “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick is probably the first thing that comes to mind regarding this era. Sarah Vowell’s “Wordy Shipmates” is a fantastic read. Jay Moore and the Charles River Editors wrote “King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy” and it is a treasure of information. The online “Plymouth Colony Archive Project” by Patricia Scott Deetz, Christopher Fennell and J. Eric Deetz is an incredible resource for understanding how 17th Century New Englanders lived and worked.

Obviously, it was also critical to understand the Native American perspective of these events. Nativeamericannetroots.com was a valuable asset in that regard, among other sources.

As you can imagine, much of the history is crystal clear, but much is very murky. For example, we seem to have a very good idea what Metacomet told Deputy Governor John Easton when Easton tried to mediate the conflict. Conversely, there are numerous conflicting accounts of Wamsutta’s final days.

I felt that a consistent theme in the story was the importance of peace. What were some themes you felt were important to develop the story?

I’d say in addition to peace, some themes are the paradox of Puritan values and how they lived their Christian faith. The corollary theme would be how awesome yet baffling the English Christians must have seemed to the natives in 17th Century New England. A third theme would be no matter which community the characters hailed from (Puritan or Quaker, English or Wampanoag), they all looked to the divine, spiritual world to help guide them through what must have been astoundingly fearful times.

I found the characters to be very well developed and in depth. What were your inspirations for the characters?

Thank you for the compliment. I’d say one inspiration for Israel Brewster is the Chaplain Corps in the Armed Forces. Although I am certainly not a chaplain, during a recent deployment I had the opportunity to help review and grade annual award packages for the chaplains. It really helped to bring home the remarkable dedication and service they provide to the men and women they serve with. Sometimes I think we as a society are too quick to glom onto the scandals and shortcomings of the clergy, and are far too oblivious to the impact they are making in the lives of others.

Israel Brewster in 1671 is a model of certainty, whereas Linto represents all that is uncertain. He is a young man trying to find the meaning of his life in a world of sickness, hatred, and turmoil.

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

Certainly, there will be a book two for “My Father’s Kingdom” and I hope it will ultimately be a trilogy. I’d like to publish book two this year. I’m also mapping out a novel about professional sports, because as much as I love my current topic, it will also be nice to write something light-hearted.

Author Links: GoodReads

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]“In 1620 more than one hundred devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.

Fifty years later Plimoth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plimoth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.

Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.

In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?”

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Another Tribe: Our Eternal Curse

Our Eternal Curse: Another Tribe by [Rumney, Simon]5 Stars

Heartache and pain follow our protagonist, Julii, as she makes her way through the life she is living in America during the 1860’s. Our Eternal Curse – Another Tribe by Simon Rumney shows Julii as a young, naïve Aboriginal woman living with her small tribe and ignorant of the world. She does not know about war on the scale of what the white American’s are fighting. She doesn’t understand racism and slavery in the way we have learned about. She lives carefully and quietly with her family. She is extremely intelligent and takes her small world for granted. Then she meets a man who is gravely injured at the side of a river she has always gone to. A man who does not look like the men she knows. A man who may never wake up from the coma he slips into. This man is Robert, and he will change the very way she lives.

While this book is part of a series, it’s easy to read on its own. Required knowledge of the previous books is not necessary, although it may heighten the experience. This book is overflowing with raw, human emotion while not being afraid to look at the disgusting parts of colonial history. Rumney certainly knows how to spin a tale. While told in the third person we see the tale from Julii’s point of view: we hear her thoughts, and we begin to understand and learn about the world through her eyes. It’s a clever way to do it, especially for those who may not be aware or understand this point in history.

As Julii learns about the reality of the outside world, we learn about it as well. Her confusion and the struggle with a foreign language are easily portrayed and the reader feels as though we are Julii: we are also the ones who are seeing this world for the first time and learning this language for the first time. The world of 1860’s America is cruel. To understand how an Aboriginal person, a woman for that matter, would have felt during this time is difficult. This is a time of rampant racism, of distrust and the inability to treat all human beings with respect and dignity. It can be painful to read, as it is important to realize that these thoughts and attitudes still exist almost 200 years later. Rumney does a great job of making the reader identify with Julii, the marginalized main character in our tale.

With a story so beautifully crafted it’s hard not to get immersed while reading it. Julii goes through so much in her life: she experiences things so rapidly that it’s hard not to feel for her. If you are looking for a heart-tugging story with excellent character development and a subliminal message, Our Eternal Curse – Another Tribe by Simon Rumney is definitely worth a pick up. Readers won’t go wrong by potentially stepping outside of their comfort zone and reading about the fantastical life of Julii.

Pages: 314 | ASIN: B00TI01JH6

Buy Now From Amazon.com

My Father’s Kingdom

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]5 Stars

A historical fiction novel by James George, My Father’s Kingdom is centered heavily around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600s. The story is told through the narrative of both native Indian tribes and from English settlers, 50 years after our beloved Thanksgiving holiday occurred. The differences between the two people, especially in religious decisions, is what drives the stress between the alliance. The wordsmanship by George is a beautiful combination of elements and themes, pulling together from the hardships our ancestors faced and the fear that comes with abnormalities and change.

The narrative of this story is told mostly by Linto, Metacomet, and Israel Brewster. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people, and on their personal religious journeys. This plot of the story is comprised of a brewing rebellion after an untimely death nine years prior. Tension is strong between the two people, and fear and talk of war is present early on.

Meanwhile, the characters are on journeys of their own, to find a connection with God. Linto is hungrily trying to understand the Englishmen’s God, and is plagued by the stress. He seeks comfort in his own communion with nature with The Great Spirit. Metacomet is overcome with grief for the loss of his brother, and struggling with the responsibility of leading his tribe down the correct path. His distrust for the Englishmen and the revenge he seeks plays an important role in the evolution of the story, and it feels like you grow right along with the young leader as the tale unfolds.

On the other side of the coin, the English settlement faces troubles of its own, told mostly from the Reverend’s point of view. Israel is also a character who is suffering internally, battling the repercussions to his faith with the loss of his wife. While he does his best to keep his community pure by offering extensive counseling, he also battles with the shaky relationship with the local native tribes.

The consistent theme to the story is that which exploits the importance of peace. Often we forget what truly happened in the history of America, and instead focus on the gracious holiday that was born from the struggles of the first settlers. This story helps serve as a humble reminder of the bloodshed and the turmoil that really occurred.

Everything meshed together beautifully, staying accurate enough to the history of the war that happened while giving a unique and fresh tale to follow. It breathes life into the history we read so blandly, and George does an excellent way of making the scenario relatable and understandable to modern time. The characters are beautifully flawed, and all so different from one another. You feel the pain they feel in their journey, and I was eager to discover the endings that they would come to face. It’s a beautiful picture of American History and the fragile nature of peace and friendship.

Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01MS5OQP8

Buy Now From Amazon.com

A Genuine Curiosity

Robert Stava Author Interview

Robert Stava Author Interview

The Nightmare From World’s End is a science fiction thriller that begins when various people go missing along a river and a mythical squid may be to blame. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this book and how did that change as you were writing?

It was two things, actually. The first was an offhand comment by my wife one day while we were having lunch along the Hudson River. It was something out in the water that I took a grainy photo (zoom lens) and it came out looking like the classic ‘Loch Ness’ hoax photo. She looked at it and said: “Oh, that’s Ossie!”. “Indeed it is,” I replied, and so it started. The second was a massive crate I discovered along the shore of the Hudson after a big storm. It looked like it had been underwater for some time. That’s how it usually works – something I saw here, a comment there.

Along with that was a genuine curiosity about the American Indians that once populated this area, which go back at least 8,000 years. For me it’s a fluid process of researching and letting it inform the story as it develops. For example, I’d had the concept of the ‘Crazy Jack’ character for years, but dismissed the name as a product of me watching too many movies or TV shows. So, I initially wrote a scene where the American Indian anthropologist – Sarah Ramhorne – is saying as much. Then I discovered (to my shock) that in Munsee/Lenape mythology, there really is an enigmatic trickster named ‘Crazy Jack’. The joke was on me.

Native American folklore around the Hudson River area is a relevant theme within the book. What was the inspiration to infuse such rich culture in this novel?

So little is written about it yet aside from local names – Wappinger, Kitchawank, Weckuaesgeek, Sint Sinck – almost nothing remains of it here. It’s like a ghost hiding in plain sight. Many of the local tribes here were wiped out completely within a couple decades of first contact – we don’t even really know what they looked like. That naturally piqued my interest.

Is there anything that readers connect with in your story that surprises you?

People seem to really be into the characters in this one. That and the American Indian history. A frequent comment I get is: “Is all that stuff true?”. As far as I know, yes.

Your story makes mention of the ancient alien theory. Why did you include this in your novel?

Mainly it was by accident. I was at a local Indian pow-wow researching the story when I ran into an American Indian vendor who in a confidential tone started going off about ‘lost technology’, Atlantis and how the Indians ‘really’ got here in spaceships and had forgotten it. I immediately thought “This is too rich, I have to work this into the novel!” Then it became a running joke through the story: what if some real phenomena was going on to one side while everyone in the story is focused on the hoax phenomena happening on the other?

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

Currently writing another novel for Severed Press titled The Lost World of Kharamu. It’s an updated take on Michael Crichton and Arthur Conan Doyle themes. It’s due out later this year – stay tuned.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Nightmare From World's EndIn the aftermath of a major hurricane, a massive antique crate washes up on the shore of Raadsel Point. It’s smuggled cargo from the wreck of the Edmund Wood, an unregistered transport returning from a very unusual expedition. . . a ship that went down in the deepest and most dangerous part of the Hudson known as ‘The World’s End’. The nightmare creature it contains is about to unleash havoc on the citizens of the sleepy river village of Wyvern Falls and inadvertently draw to it a predator thought extinct a millennia ago. It will come down to two people to figure out what both these creatures are and how to stop them: expat CID Detective John Easton and American Indian anthropologist Sarah Ramhorne. The two of them will have to unravel local Indian myths, outmaneuver a corrupt mayor, a failing Ancient Astronaut Theorist TV show and an overzealous Green Folk Festival if they are to stand any chance of saving the day.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Nightmare From World’s End

The Nightmare From World's End4 Stars

The Nightmare From World’s End, a science fiction thriller by Robert J. Stava, takes place in Wyvern Falls located along the Hudson River. The action begins when various people begin to go missing along the river. Members of the community are confused about the disappearances until it’s discovered that a giant squid-like creature is wreaking havoc, leaving carnage and even more questions in its wake. That’s not all to the story, however. There isn’t just one creature, there’s two!

A major player in the chaos is John Easton, a private detective, begins to unravel the history around the two creatures. Alongside him is Sarah Ramhorne, a strong-headed Native American archeologist who seems to hold some of the answers. Together they, along with others, try to unravel the story that surrounds these two mysterious creatures and put a stop to the death that has been taking place along the Hudson River.

This book is definitely a thriller that will have readers flipping through the pages wondering what will happen next. The author holds nothing back when he describes each vicious attack committed by the giant squid. Also, the tie-in with Native American culture within the book was handled well. It’s obvious that Robert J. Stava did his research on the tribes in the Hudson Valley area, and while the main purpose of his book was to thrill his readers with the tale of giant, murderous, perhaps ancient sea creatures, a secondary purpose was to provide them with a history of the area and enlighten the reader on Native American history.

Adding to this point, Native American folklore is very present and relevant within the piece. The leading lady, Sarah makes it a point to educate those that she encounters about the injustice done to the tribes within the area. The author doesn’t just place Sarah’s dialogue as disconnected rants within the piece; it all leads up to the climax the unfolds towards the end of the story. This is evident through the actions of Crazy Jack, a homeless Native American (and real folklore character), that contributes to the climax of the story by waking up the second creature that lives on the other end of the river from where the squid is attacking. Throughout the story, Crazy Jack is guided by the voices of his ancestors, telling him what must be done in order to bring an end to the death and carnage unfolding.

This book has a lot going on it in; sea creatures, Native American history and folklore, a private detective with a tragic past, ancient aliens, mind-reading, and even ghosts. You name it, and it’s probably in this book. At times, it was a bit too much, and a little disconnected for the reader. Especially, the bit on ancient aliens. It’s hard to see how Guillamo Del Tesler and his fanatical theories about the river monster being an ancient alien come into play. He’s brought to the area after Jennie Roderick, a half-witted archaeologist student, mails him some doctored petroglyphs that indicate an alien existence within the area. While this part of the plot is an entertaining aside to the major drama going on in the story, it was difficult to discern how it actually contributed to the overall plot, if at all.

Overall, the author tells a good story. The entwinement of sci-fi thriller with Native American folklore is unique and provides a sturdy foundation upon which to base the plot of the entire story. Regardless of a couple smaller story lines falling out of place within the book, it was an entertaining read.

Pages: 249 | ASIN: B01MQLLNM3

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: