Murder at First Pitch follows Madeline and her pursuit to clear her brothers name after he’s accused of murder. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
As with most cozy mysteries, there is some sort of incident that directly affects the main character and their choices. I knew I wanted to make it a family connection since the ballpark and family business was the center of the book. I also think it gave Madeline a way to realize just how much the ballpark and the team were important to her.
Madeline is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
Family is one of the most important things in Madeline’s life. Even after thinking she was going to make a career outside of the family baseball business and having to rethink things, she realizes that her place is with her family. The team had been such a large fixture in her life, and by returning, she becomes closer to her family and friends. Her career is still important to her, but she realizes that she needs both the career and her ballpark family in order to be happy.
Why did you want to write this story, and series, within the baseball culture?
I’m first and foremost a huge Boston Red Sox fan. I’m a baseball person through and through. When I was beginning my journey to be a mystery writer, I thought about all the things I enjoyed, and what I would be most interested in staging some. I hit on baseball (no pun intended) as the perfect location. There are so many sports fans who aren’t represented currently in the cozy mystery market, so I wanted to share my baseball love.
It’s a love letter to my Grandpa Asselin, who got me into baseball on the radio many summers and to my Grandma Asselin who was obsessed with mysteries.
This is the first book in your Ball Park Mystery series. What can readers expect in book two?
Book Two will continue to explore Madeline’s new job and the ballpark events. The readers will visit another fictional ballpark in Salem, MA and meet more people from the neighborhood. I hope to introduce more real-life Abington businesses and residents in honor of my hometown. Madeline and Davis will continue to grow closer, and of course, another set of crimes. Stay tuned!
32-year-old Madeline Boucher’s Grandfather instilled a love in the Boston Red Sox into her from an early age and increased that love by purchasing a local Independent League Baseball team, the Abington Armadillos.
After losing her corporate job in Boston, Madeline realizes her best option is to join the family baseball business. As the new “Social Media Director” for the team, Madeline attends her first business function and witnesses an argument between her brother Ben, and a strange man.
A few days later when walking the ballpark during her early morning hours, she finds the body of a man beaten to death with a baseball bat in the Visitor’s Dugout. It was the man her brother was arguing with at the party. Madeline is concerned that her brother would be considered a suspect. Through the local Detectives and Davis – the head of security for the ballpark she learns the victim is Christopher Dailey, a local baseball scout and prior felon.
When her brother is arrested and taken to the police station, she realizes she needs to figure out who the real culprit is, so her brother doesn’t take the fall for something she knows he didn’t do.
Forging of a Knight: Knighthood’s End finds Qualtan on the run and his friends turned against him. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
This was a natural progression for Qualtan – an event that was brewing and would have been triggered if not by the situation he found himself in, then by someone or something else. This can be seen in the stories leading up to this one:
He had started out as a starry-eyed knight-to-be, hopeful to become a knight as his father had been before him. In Book One of the series (Forging of a Knight) – he travelled to Turinthia, the heart of the Alliance, to become a knight.
In Book Two (Forging of a Knight, Rise of the Slavekeepers), Qualtan fulfilled his dream, joining the Order of the Bearded Lion, the knights of Turinthia.
Book Three (Forging of a Knight, Prison Planet of the Mah-Lahkt), Qualtan transcended his role, from knight to hero, alongside the Arch-Mages and the heroes of the School against the forces of Shaz, leader of Those That Stand in Shadow, within a prison planet forged by angels.
Throughout these adventures, Qualtan was made fully aware how King Prelance, ruler of Turinthia, felt about his companion and friend, the half-orcne former thief Glaive. As his orcne Kind had followed the villains of the series (Those That Stand in Shadow), they were usually viewed with hostility and mistrust, leading to the same concerns being raised against him, despite his good intentions. Even Qualtan’s own uncle, a powerful Arch-Mage who had gifted him many of his powers and his magic sword, felt the same. At first Qualtan merely felt at odds with these opinions, but hadn’t thought it necessary to act against them, until Book Four (Forging of a Knight, The Stolen Thief).
In Book Four – the cracks began to tell – when Glaive goes missing on a mission for the King, Qualtan’s request to search for him is refused. Realizing the King’s denial is based solely on his prejudice against the former thief’s half-orcne heritage, Qualtan decides to go anyway against his King’s wishes. In doing so, he encounters the technology-using elves known as the Dokahlfar and their dwarf minions the Vartahlfar, as well as befriending and allying with a rag-tag group of orcnes, the hated foes of the Alliance. Imprisoned for his impertinence, Qualtan at last decides that there is no reason for him to feel obligated in following such a King, no matter his other merits.
This brings us to this tale, Book Five (Forging of a Knight, Knighthood’s End). This time, the assumed evil acts of a spiritual being known as a Kubare’ that Qualtan frees from captivity (and eventually falls in love with), brings upon the King’s hatred again, who imprisons the Kubare’ to banish her back to her nether realm. The enduring ill-will towards his friend Glaive, and Qualtan’s punishment for rescuing him, laid the groundwork for the knight’s final stand against his King. Qualtan again chooses to follow his own scruples to free the Kubare’ and go on the run, leaving his knightly Order, his King, and many of his friends behind, while being branded a traitor, to pursue his forbidden love As we know, sometimes taking a stand for what you believe in can be challenging, difficult, and result in quite a few sacrifices, especially when it goes against the status quo. This is what Qualtan experiences here.
There were so many well developed characters in this book. Who was your favorite character to write for?
There were many! Glaive with his cynical, sarcastic, suspicious of authority personality is of course a favorite, and balances nicely with Qualtan’s initial naivete about his role as a knight, as well as the knight’s maturity, going through experiences that show him sometimes there is evil in good and good and evil with the result being a nice, muddy mess that doesnt fit nicely into “good” and “evil” compartments. Discovering that growth was fun.
Another would be Jesepha, the knight. Although her role is limited here, she began as a male knight amongst others in the background. I felt they all sounded too much alike, too generic, so I switched one of them from male to female. In doing so it created her storyline along with her mentor Bartholomew’s, a senior knight, and took some of the tales into a completely different path than what I had originally intended. She basically created herself, and I had to modify the stories accordingly – its an amazing treat to see that happen!
I enjoyed the shifting of loyalties and friendships throughout the book. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?
Redemption is definitely an ongoing theme in the series – second chances. Bartholomew gets one in Book Two, Glaive you can say throughout, as he adjusts from being a street urchin, thief, to working for a smuggling gang lord, to working side by side with knights, Kings, and famous wizards!
Of course this applies to the Kurabe’ for this story, and perhaps even to the Queen of the Kurabe’ as shown by her decision at the end? Who knows?
This theme also revolves around simply not taking someone or something at face value, or assuming the worst without taking the time to dig a little deeper. Glaive’s unfair treatment by the King, same for the Kurabe’, are prime examples of this.
What is the next book in your series that readers should pickup after this book?
Book Six – Forging of a Knight, Darksiege Triumphant – the title says it all. A betrayal from the School leads Darksiege, last of Those That Stand in Shadow, with the means to achieve ultimate power at last. A mighty artifact, divided and cast into different realms, will spell doom if found. Qualtan, Glaive, Cassandra, and Bartholomew will travel to places dark and terrible, including present-day Earth, to prevent Darksiege from gaining the victory he craves, but all is not as it seems.
Are Darksiege and his opponents in a true quest, or have they been deceived into playing a much deeper game? Will Qualtan be forced into an unholy alliance with his mortal enemy to uncover the TRUE foe that menaces them all?
And after the overwhelming excitement of Book Six, there’s barely enough breath left to take on Book Seven, Against the Alliance – the finale to this current series of Forging of a Knight, which should be out later this year. Despite warnings from the Kings of the Alliance and the elves of Hermstingle, Qualtan moves forward with his own knightly Order, prompting war against his former allies. Only one thing can save them all: for Qualtan to reproduce the quest his uncle and father had undertaken to defeat Those That Stand in Shadow many years ago – to find the gemstone-eyed Master of the Great Beasts, the Dragon King, and bring him back in time to stop the war.
All the threads are tied, the sub-plots resolved. Whatever happened to Elizabetha, Arkonis, and Horga, the giant? What became of Romulax the evil druid? What of Darksiege’s servants, Bakal and Karash? How did Qualtan’s uncle and father uncover the Dragon King? What will happen to the School, the Alliance, and the Order Qualtan wishes to lead?
All the supporting cast are here – the knights, the Kings, the Arch-Mages, Prince Termenon, the Kubare’ Queen, Snowflake, faces from the past (some surprisingly forgotten about), Death himself, and very possibly…the Dragon King.
The war is coming…
Book Five in the Forging of a Knight series! For the sake of a forbidden love, Qualtan will find himself on the run with a Mah-Zakim to free her from her curse, or be consumed by it. No longer a knight, his friends now turned against him, how great will the price be that must be paid? Can a Mah-Zakim truly love back, or has the curse that has followed the First Knight for so long come true at last?
In Crocotta’s Hackles we follow Lluava’s mission to uncover the truth about the Incarn and how that affects her future. What were some ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from the first two books?
Crocotta’s Hackles differs from the first two books in a number of ways. For example, both Issaura’s Claws and Ullr’s Fangs deal predominately with the Kingdom of Elysia’s human-oriented society who comprise the ruling class. The native Theriomorphs, a shapeshifting race, have been forced to assimilate into the human culture. Most Theriomorphs have altered their clothing, switched their religion, tweaked their names, and lost touch with the customs, social institutions, achievements, and arts of their own culture. In Crocotta’s Hackles, both readers as well as the main character, Lluava, discover what Theriomorph society was like before being conquered by humans. In a sense, I wanted to express the tragedy and loss of forcing a people to assimilate into another culture and lose their own in the process.
I also wanted to showcase women-in-power in a world that is primarily patriarchal. By the third book, readers are already familiar with Lluava’s warrior-type personality. In Crocotta’s Hackles, I introduce other strong women whose strengths might not be physical, but their gifts and talents are no less impressive. Other aspects that I wanted to flesh out were the interrelated concepts of the Incarn, prophecy, fate versus free will, and the ever-present questions of whether Theriomorph gods exist, and if so, do they care about their people? Lastly, I wanted to make it very clear that no race is entirely good or evil. There will always be individuals and subgroups that defy stereotypes.
I liked how you handled the point of view in Lluava’s dual form. How did you plan this part of the novel?
As a Theriomorph, Lluava Kargen’s point-of-view is intrinsically different from a human’s simply because of her birthright. All Theriomorphs are born with the ability to transform into an animal form, their dual form as they call it. They not only think and act like humans but also have innate abilities including hyperactive senses and instincts that is indicative of their animal nature.
Lluava’s dual form is a white tigress. Unlike humans, she has keener night vision, better hearing and sense of smell, and a sixth sense for oncoming danger. In this book, she struggles with a darker side of herself, and it appears to be a losing battle. When this aspect of her personality is triggered, she experiences a telltale alteration of vision, and the world appears in tints of blue and green—the colors that felines can see. If she succumbs to that darker side, she risks blacking out. When she loses control, the white tigress takes over, leaving bloodshed and carnage in its wake. Her fear of losing herself creates a dichotomy within her, and she does not know if she can ever trust herself in her animal form.
Fear of the “Beast”, as well as the “monster within”, has existed for centuries. From werewolves and vampires to the terror of Jaws and serial killers, the phobia of bloodthirsty beasts and losing oneself to a darkness persists in many forms. I wanted to fuse these fears with Lluava’s more-than-human viewpoint previously established in the earlier books. This was an entertaining and unnerving concept to play with and explore.
There is an exceptional cast of characters in this book. Who did you enjoy writing the most?
Although I always enjoy writing Lluava, in this book, my favorite character to write was High Priestess Yena. She is very complex. Driven to do right by her people and the gods in which she believes, Yena is fierce, regal, mysterious and a dark beauty. She is a powerhouse; beware any human or Theriomorph who stands in her way. Her seeming ability to know what is to come gives her an exceptional advantage and her unshakable faith kindles her inner fire. I can still hear her sharp keel of laughter even though I have moved onto other projects. Yena will always be by my side for better or worse.
What can readers expect in book four, Giahem’s Talons?
The final book, Giahem’s Talons, chronicles the last stand for the Elysians as they struggle to fend off those that wish to destroy their kingdom. Readers will learn more about the mysterious Obsidian Guard, experience some of the power of the Incarn, discover the Raiders’ true leader, and mourn the loss of those that fall in the midst of battle. War is dark and dismal for all sides, and this book does not shy away from that hard truth.
“According to legend, when the world was young, Crocotta, Queen of the Gods, discovered her mate’s faithlessness. She vowed to prevent future threats to all matrimonial pacts henceforward, but for her it was too late. The child born from the illicit coupling was a warrior goddess—one whom Crocotta would seek to destroy throughout eternity. Now that the Raiders’ elite army is threatening the kingdom of Elysia’s northern borders, seventeen-year-old Lluava must leave the familiarity and safety of her native land to venture into the wilderness. Her mission is to discover others like her who will come to Elysia’s aid; her hope is to unravel the secrets behind what it means to be Incarn. But what she finds could destroy everything.”
Lost Frequencies: The Soul Prophecies by Caitlin Lynagh is a book that gives you all the benefits of escapism while maintaining a terrifying sense of reality throughout.
It is about a group of people in a dystopian world, trying to survive against all odds. Their world is ravaged by the carelessness of their ancestors. They have to struggle for their basic necessities, all the while fighting back an evil but pragmatic corporation.
The novel switches back and forth from the past, and between dream sequences filled with strange prophecies. I found this a little disorienting. But it provided great contrast and detail to their fictional world. It was also quite fast paced, so it took me a while to get a hang of all the things taking place, especially the dream sequences.
The world itself was reminiscent of The Hunger Games, albeit more exotic and more relevant. Especially considering how their world came to be from climate change and being indifferent to the state of the planet.
Some of the secondary characters were totally adorable- particularly Ehi and Zerren. I felt immediately connected to them and was rooting for them throughout. Apart from these few, however, there were a lot of other story lines of characters I did not particularly care about. They had interesting side plots, but I wish the focus had remained more on the main few.
The objects in this world were also incredibly fascinating- like Lif, a biological metal that can be manipulated with thoughts. The differences between the humans and Iyeekans were very interesting and creative.
If pressed, I would probably describe this book as a science fiction adventure, but that would almost be unfair. This is because the book almost transcends genre. Even the planet’s reality seems not so distant from ours. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a scary yet hopeful science fiction experience.
Pages: 310 | ASIN: B07T943KDL
Torn between two worlds, Sarah is fighting to be a part of her husband’s European culture while struggling to hold on to her own. She & Sir Matthew Galahad were married as children without their opinion nor consent. Despite their arranged marriage, they form a friendship that blossoms into something beautiful. When tragedy strikes Matthew becomes desperate to save a woman he did not choose & never thought he would love. He sets off on a perilous mission to retrieve a fabled chalice. It is the only thing that can save his dying bride. With the help of Prince Arthur & the knights, Matthew battles mythical beasts & unimaginable horrors in his quest for the holy grail…
An award-winning unput-downable tale of two children building a boat from a log they find buried in the sand and sailing off to far-off fantastic lands in a stormy sea-driven adventure with their faithful – but accident-prone – dog Holly. There they learn much wisdom from a king who, like God, has many names’. After an incredible sacrifice of his dearest dream by the boy (now growing up) they return – another dream – to a family tea with their loved ones. The tale is a prequel and companion to Ruth Finnegan’s award-winning epic romance ‘Black inked pearl’, here adapted for preteens but characterised by (in a simpler form) the same unique dream-like and enchanted style as in the original novel.
Sean Kachmarski was overweight and out of shape. He would laze around his couch but when he got off it, he really got off it. He got up and ran. Not very quickly but his commitment despite not being an athlete was impressive. This is a story of one regular everyday man overcoming his personal limitations to do something wonderful, impressive and to see things through.
This is not a motivational story for the overachiever, the one who wins everything. It is a motivational story for the average person. The person who tries to achieve something by sheer will. It is a story of the trials and tribulations that come with committing to something and the urge to quit becomes so strong that you almost choke from it.
Sean Kachmarski has bared all in this inspirational book. He has let the reader see his whole journey. The bad, the ugly and the fortunate. The candid narration of his story from the futon to the lineup is not only inspiring; it is a kick in the butt for anyone who may be stuck in a rut.
Regular folks need motivational stories from other regular folks. Imagine an overweight unfit person being told how they can run a marathon by a seasoned athlete. If you were the overweight person, you would not believe it.
The way Sean tells this story makes it relatable. He makes his story interesting by relating personal stories with simple language. The story is relatable but its unique perspective gives the reader a heartfelt literary experience.
Sean Kachmarski delivers a down to earth story about the human spirit and the will to change yourself. By the end of the book, you really will know you can. You will no longer doubt your ability. His positivity is infectious and something I admired. This is a book you will both enjoy and benefit from.
Pages: 205 | ASIN: B084BVCDD2
Stuart Duffelmeyer has no idea what is about to hit him. He’s a loner in his own right, a guy with few true friends, and has a complete inability to foresee his own downfall. When a group of “friends” arrange to give him a night to remember, he agrees with no second thought. No one in the room on that fateful day could ever have dreamed that Stuart was deeply tied to the supernatural and protected in his most vulnerable moments by forces more powerful than anything any of them had ever seen.
Stuart Duffelmeyer and the Masters of Plagues, a novel by Dewey Reynolds, lays out the experiences of one Stuart Duffelmeyer–a successful young man who yearns for a relationship and genuine friendship. Stuart is easily coerced and falls for almost anything. When he agrees to meet up with the group of his NYU classmates at a hotel, he is unknowingly walking into a trap. What they don’t know is that Stuart is covered in a veil of protection none of them can see–even Stuart.
Reynolds takes the story of a bullied man to a whole new level. With the introduction of the supernatural via an alienesque rat, the author gives his main character a unique depth. I have to admit that I didn’t see this aspect of Stuart’s experience coming in the first few pages. The author blends the supernatural into the story line quickly and smoothly.
There are eight characters in addition to Stuart who play an important role in his demise. Any more than three key characters tends to cause confusion for readers. I found myself rereading and double checking myself as I tried to keep these eight characters straight. This, along with the repetitive nature of some dialogue and exchanges, keeps this book from being perfect.
Reynolds does a magnificent job of developing Stuart’s character throughout the story. A clear picture is painted of a young man who is isolated, ridiculed by others, but grows increasingly determined to change his life. Nowhere else will readers find a weak character more strongly developed, nor will they find a better example of overcoming bullies.
Stuart’s otherworldly experiences make his story even more enthralling. The powers he is offered are representative of the power inside the victims of each and every bully. By creating a fantasy with a relatable main character, Reynolds has given readers a new kind of hero–one who is strong in ways readers can not only appreciate but cheer.
Fans of fantasy and those who yearn to cheer for the underdog will find a new favorite character in Stuart Duffelmeyer.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07YXCXG61