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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.

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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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Return to the Gun

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

A Higher Calling follows Sam as his reputation follows him even though he’s retired from his gun wearing days, and his new life is threatened as the opportunity for revenge comes knocking. Why did you think this was a good starting point for book 2 in the series?

At the closing of book one, Sam had gotten a glimpse of what his life could be instead of the anger and violence filled existence he had accepted. For a few months he is able to enjoy that normalcy. He is not only seen by the family and neighbors as a husband and father, he starts to see himself in those roles. Even a few friends from his past are willing to give him a chance to be a different man. Too soon, a stranger demands Sam return to the gun. The stranger bribes Sam with money, but also carries a threat in order to manipulate Sam to do his bidding. Sam must choose who he is to be.

Sam must achieve a series of steps in order to become a member of a civilized society. I think of them as similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. First, Sam had to forgive himself and see himself as something more than just a killer. Now, he is making commitments to a family. He has the chance to become a part of that family if he chooses. Hence the name of this book, “A Higher Calling.” Which is the higher calling? Be a husband and father or avenge the death of a friend.

We get to dig deeper into Sam’s character in this book as he has to decide if he is Sam Cardiff or Sam Moses. What were the obstacles you felt were important in develop his character further?

Sam, to me, represents soldiers and Marines who return from combat and are unable to adjust to the quieter life. We only hear about them, unless we know them, when they commit some horrendous act of crime or violence. Sam gave me the opportunity to tell people, who don’t know, that these men and women are wounded as surely as if they had lost a limb. The only difference is the wounds can’t be seen.

That’s what I wanted Sam to tell the reader. He was just a guy with dreams, plans and hopes who circumstances put in a situation so ugly he couldn’t cope. In the aftermath, his value system, his self-awareness, his expectations of himself as well as others are distorted.

Are you a fan of western novels? What books do you feel influenced you as a writer?

I grew up reading Louis Lamoure, Clair Huffaker and Will James. While I read more than just one genre, I am a fan of the western, but I also have a complaint about them. Too often, the characters are single dimensional or at best shallow. This series is the story of the internal struggles of a war vet. I chose the Civil War as I felt it allowed me to tell a better story. I could have chosen any war, but I felt there was a poetry in choosing a 19th century warrior inflicted with a 20th century injury.

Where will book three in the Sam and Laura’s Story series take the characters?

Recovery from any emotional/mental illness is a progression of steps. In book one, Sam came face to face with himself. Who was he going to be. The changing of his name represented that turmoil. In book two, Sam had to find his place in a family but also a community. Once he accepted himself, he had to find a way to accept those around him and allow them to accept him. Book three addresses Sam’s relationship with God and nature. He has spent several years cursing God and wishing God would strike him dead. Now, he must find a way to resolve that conflict.

Author Links: GoodReads Website | Twitter

A Higher Calling: Laura's Tale (Sam and Laura's Story Book 2) by [Griffeth, Kwen]“What is the matter with you? We do not need his money!” She stood behind him; her hands on her hips.
“It’s not about the money.”
His voice was calm. He could have told her what day of the week it was with the same level of excitement.
“Then why? Why must you go back and try to get yourself killed? You have responsibilities here!”
Sam stopped brushing and seemed ready to turn and face her. He then thought better and did not. He returned to brushing the horse.
“Samuel, you turn around and face me! You tell me why I have to get ready to mourn a second man in my life. You tell me what I’m supposed to tell our children!”
His turn was powerful and deliberate; he faced her, “Our children, Laura? It wasn’t that long ago you told me in no uncertain terms they were your children and I was a bad influence. You share them with me only when it suits you. They are our children if you think you can use them to your advantage.”
“Is that why you’re doing this? To punish me for what I said?”
“Laura, please. Do you really think that little of me? I gave the man my word. I promised him I would avenge him if this happened.”
“You promised? You promised? You also promised my husband you would look after us. I know Wiggins was your friend, but he is cold and dead in the ground. There is nothing you can do that will change that.”
Sam’s’ brows furrowed, “And how is that different from William, your husband? Is he not also cold and dead in the ground?”
Laura stepped forward and took his free hand. She placed his hand on her chest, between her breasts, “Does this feel like it’s cold and dead? Do you not feel the love that surges through my body with every beat of my heart? Tell me what I have to do to keep you here? What must I do to change your mind?”
Sam Moses was in a quandary, a crossroads. He had followed the beautiful Laura Stoddard and her children to Missouri in order to care for them as he had promised the dying William Stoddard, the husband and father. He was determined to keep his word.
Now, he had received notice a friend had been murdered. A friend whom he had promised to avenge if such a thing happened; now, it had. Avenging his friend would most likely kill him but he had given his word.
Now, after living most of his life being beholden to anyone, he must choose, which promise is the higher calling?

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Vengeance is Mine

Vengeance Is Mine: Resurrections (Sam and Laura's Story Book 3) by [Griffeth, Kwen D]

Sam Moses, a man comfortable with the echoes of death created by the sounds of gunfire, is haunted by the terrible demons of his past. Bad luck seems to stalk the man as he tries to find his way past tragedies that changed his life forever. But Sam Moses is determined to become the man he believes he was meant to be and fights for a life that leaves death and violence behind. To have the life he wants Sam must learn the ins and outs of relationships, stability and how to build a life where he settles down for good.

Vengeance is Mine, written by Kwen D Griffeth, is the third installment in Sam and Laura’s Story. This novel takes you on a more personal adventure as Sam re-enters his life back in the town of Missouri. Old flames, new friends and a thirst to belong will set the tone for the final installment of the series.

Vengeance is Mine takes a step back from the gunfire and instead focuses on the foundations of who Sam truly is. Learning to settle into a life where he isn’t chasing death can be challenging at times and this is where we really get to see Sam’s character come to light. A group of people will begin to fulfil Sam’s life with a new meaning and acceptance that he has not experienced before. I appreciated seeing a side of Sam that was raw, emotional and at times surprisingly gentle.

Laura’s character progression throughout the novels shows us her growing from a girl to woman to finally someone who has dealt with great heartache. In Vengeance is Mine we see a woman who desperately wants to settle into a normal life but needs time to accept the pain and heartache she has been dealt. Her relationship with Sam is complicated as she feels resentment at the decisions that seemingly made her feel alone in the most difficult time of her life. A section of the novel talks about parts of life being heavy but also light, for example having a baby is a “light and happy” occasion but also can be seen as “heavy” as someone’s life is now consumed by responsibility and questions as to what the future may hold. I feel as though this accurately depicts the relationship of Laura and Sam as they wind through life towards a hopefully happy ending. Will they finally leave their old demons behind and begin a life together?

Vengeance is Mine also explores old characters and where they have come after the pains and challenges they have experienced. Opal has grown into a beautiful young woman, Pickles is catching the eye of ladies in town and Ellen is back after helping saving Sam’s life. The reader will be treated to the development of many favorite characters which will make you feel more connected than ever and invested in their fates!

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a heartwarming story line and a feel good finish to an excellent series. I thoroughly enjoyed all three installments to the series and highly recommend reading the three books as a whole.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B00VFLO3DI

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Wilder Hearts

Wilder Hearts- A Western Hearts Novel (Book 2)4 StarsWilder Hearts by Lilly Gayle is a combination of a historical western romance and a mystery romance novel. If you love stories about Billy the Kid and western gunslingers, you will enjoy this book. There is a mystery story line involving a serial killer to keep the novel moving along as well as the romance between the two main characters Ellie Wilder and Jake Markham. The book has a slow start, you get some background to the characters but it jumps around a lot between current events, stories that Ellie and her sister Ida Louise tell, and past events. About a third of the way though the novel, when the Wilder family make it to Harmony Texas, the story picks up and moves quickly.

From the beginning of the book Ellie and her sister are following their father from Pennsylvania to Texas. Their father Clay is an oil wildcat looking to find the next big oil deposit in Texas. When the they arrive in Austin Texas they’re greeted by the street cleaner outside the train depot. He tells the girls about some murders that have happened recently by a killer named the Servant Girl Annihilator. Ellie is drawn into the mystery and wants to know all she can about the case. While at the train station waiting on their father to fetch their trunks she spots a man resembling a sketch in her book about Billy the Kid and his gang of Renegades. The man she see’s is listed as Jake the Snake in her book but in reality he goes by several names. Ellie is attracted to him right away even if she doesn’t recognize that it is desire at first. She is just intrigued by the mystery, why is he in Austin, how is a wanted man wandering the city unnoticed, is he the Annihilator? Ellie dreams of being a famous writer and thinks telling the story of what happened to Jake the Snake or the story of the Annihilator is her ticket to fame. In Ellie’s innocence she fails to see the danger and trouble associated with her spying and investigating.

Jake is actually a Texas Ranger that goes undercover in the small dying town of Harmony. This is also where the Wilder family winds up as Clay Wilder is certain there is oil to be found in that small town. Character development was something that I enjoyed as there were many interesting people the book introduces. From the rich grandfather, to the old town sheriff you really get a feel for each character’s personality. And as the story goes on you start to understand and like them. I liked the historical accuracy of the Oil Industry and its expansion in the west that is used throughout the novel. The author expertly uses accurate descriptions of that time period to really sell the time and place of the old west; and I enjoyed the references to the Texas Rangers and Billy the Kid.

This is a great read once you get past the slow beginning chapters. Then the story gains a strong direction and the story flows smoothly. Wilder Hearts provides an adventurous and romantic look at the untamed west that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Pages: 254 | ISBN: 9781310875816

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