I do not have a degree in literature but what I do possess is an intense appreciation for books that have the ability to place me on a trajectory towards factual and emotional knowledge and growth .Throughout my formal education, while others groaned about a lengthy summer reading list and opted for Cliﬀ Notes, I looked forward to immersing myself in the lives of the imaginary people in ﬁctional works who took me all over the world in my mind. Authors of every background provided valuable blueprints for my imagination. The feeling that I get when I walk into a library is one of comfort and fascination in knowing that I can look back and instantly connect with the thought and heart of someone who existed hundreds of years ago. The author’s thought remains vibrant through the centuries and I am awed by the commonality of the human spirit through time. Several weeks ago in a small antique shop in North Georgia, I found a treasure called” Ruth’s Sacriﬁce or Life on the Rappahannock“ by Emily Clemens Pearson; I blew layers of dust from the book’s spine. It was an original publication from 1864 with the previous owner’s signature ﬂourishes in the meticulous penmanship of years gone by. In another , I found ‘A Virgin Heart by Remy De Gourmont published in 1925. As I read it and he talked about his location at diﬀerent Parisian landmarks, I searched for photos on the Internet and could more fully share and connect with the experience. I was able to see exactly where those characters were supposed to be almost 100 years ago. These are among my most treasured possessions. What a feeling!
In retrospect, I think I felt overwhelmed by so many former great works and wondered about my own ability to produce a work worthy of literary respect. And perhaps this was the reason why it took me so long to decide upon a topic for my ﬁrst book of ﬁction. Over the years I had considered numerous topics and discarded them swiftly without a second thought. The desire to write a book, however, never ceased. It was encouraged by a desire to never die in obscurity. A book, whether a bestseller or not, lives on. And ﬁnally after many years, a very UNLIKELY TOPIC CHOSE ME. An unexpected oﬀer to work in the mountains of northeast Georgia presented itself. I immediately recognized the area as a potentially gorgeous setting for a novel. Among my many patients were little girls whose western boots announced their arrival over tile ﬂoors with a recognizable heel click strike before I ever saw them. Over time the thought came to me that they deserved their own “Cinderella story”. Hence, the inspiration for Mountain Green Corporate Blue. It just “felt right”.
I have never written a long work or even short essays before. Multiple times I tried to construct an outline for this novel unsuccessfully. What you are reading, I have written extemporaneously or “freestyle “ introducing characters along the way to make a point or to infuse drama and interest. Again, these characters were written without forethought. I did not think about names or character backgrounds. I interface with about 25-30 people a day as an Emergency Medicine Physician. If there was an interesting name( e.g. Quest or Mercy) ,I would jot it down in a notebook for future reference. If someone had an interesting physical characteristic ( ie., Matthew’s mismatched eyes or Michael’s tattoos ) I would make note of those as well.As I wrote the novel, I arbitrarily chose one of the names on the list or any other that came to mind in that moment. And in that instant the character came into being.
I am a very spiritual but not religious Christian in the American Bible Belt. I trusted in the divine nature of the creative process and just “let the words come”. In rereading the manuscript multiple times, I found encrypted messages for myself. I set out to write a Cinderella story with “real people”. The end product is actually an emotionally layered work with a very clear, powerful message that was revealed to me in the rereading period. The predominant message is simple and the key is in the name of the characters. Yes, I think of this novel as a gift from God. Because He is in EVERY human being, He uses us to convey HIS message.
In referencing Mountain Green Corporate Blue, Matthew asks Quest, the daughter of Delilah, the meaning of the word bastard. At that moment, Matthew’s life changes and his own life quest begins. A link is established between the circumstance of Jesus’ birth and his own. We are then introduced to Grace Collier (P.19) in the innocence of her youth and we see her eﬀect on the other characters as the novel progresses. She represents the spiritual Grace and graciousness that we either accept or reject throughout life. Her spirit infuses all of the other characters and points them towards introspection, change and goodness. Grace meets Matthew as a young woman and he is immediately engaged by her charm , innocence and dedication to family and wants her in his life immediately and forever(P.74). This represents our open acknowledgment of the need and power of grace in our lives and once we see the warmth and power of its presence we want to possess it immediately and forever. Their marriage ceremony revolves around obtaining a bible that is important to Grace. It has been in her family for centuries. This intimates that with the acceptance of Grace comes the Quest for the Word (of God). It is a life journey that has been travelled by many over time. Randy Duncan is the only true Prince in the story. His goodness and kindness shine through irregardless of socioeconomic status and he has been a helper since his youth ( we see his interaction with Caroline when they were teenagers in ﬂashback). Because of his abundant warmth he is the only male character associated with the white stallion most commonly associated with kings and princes in literary fairy tales.
Note that several of the main male characters have the names or name derivatives of the Apostles – John, Matthew, Marcus, Lucas, and James. Michael, the mechanic , represents the evilness of Michael the Archangel who fell from Grace. A young James Fleming approaches an antebellum home (P.225) and within he is delivered the Mercy he requests in a spiritual as well as a worldly form. Note that the maids watchful over Mercy are Mary and Maggy as she heals James’ feet. This is a subtle reminder of the power of Mary Magdalene’s humility. To reiterate, this was without prior planning.
Matthew’s sister’s name is Angela. She has the innocence of an Angel and Grace reassures her that love comes to angels. Rose, the secretary, has the enviable physical attributes of life but ultimately we see that this is irrelevant in the face of the absence of true spiritual Grace. Thus we see the radiant Rose wither as the story progresses.
After interesting conversation over dinner, a troubled Marcus ultimately ends up in Delmonico’s Restaurant and meets Trinity, an African American female physician. She is in a sector that is usually “not on ( his ) radar). Her name is important. This signiﬁes that the Holy Trinity is ever present but not always apparent and comes to us through unexpected encounters and unlikely individuals. Note that Trinity Fleming is a physician like the Great Physician. The music in the Operating room is “Coming Out of the Dark” that nods to spiritual awakening. Jerome, the medical student , reminds us of the love in infatuation. The blessing bestowed on Trinity actually happened to me and was quite moving and emotionally overwhelming. In this context, this encounter reinforces the power of prayer. Marcus becomes closer to the Holy Trinity through Trinity the physician. After all, God is in ALL human beings and her positivity is what is cultivated by the Holy Spirit and Marcus is in dire need of that.
Kenny Lowery’s suicide is representative of the lonely futility many black males may experience in a world that does not support or reaﬃrm their inherent worth irregardless of education, talent or ability causing his backward spiral away from Grace. He commits suicide in the presence of Trinity. Her name may make him think in his ﬁnal hours of a God he may think has forsaken him.
James Fleming, Trinity’s adoptive father, demonstrates the inherent goodness and sense of decency we should all cultivate irregardless of an individual’s color or race. He exempliﬁes the power of sharing wealth on all levels so that the next generation will proﬁt.
And lastly, Justice and Sloan. Trinity’s work as a surgeon is respected by Sloan and he saves her by enlisting the help of a member of the established Church. This signiﬁes that even though one has fallen (Sloan was a drug dealer), there is the potential for goodness and grace in all of us. It is possible to obtain inner peace and justice in life simply by being of help to another and the established Church has been promised to us as a source of comfort and support throughout each of our individual journeys.
My thanks to all of you who have read Mountain Green Corporate Blue. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. And of course, I look forward to entertaining you with the sequel VERITAS.
Author Website: ljsaunders.love
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In the final installment of the Lisen of Solsta trilogy, Blooded takes us on a gruesome journey as we learn how Lisen will affect the future of the Garlan people. When writing the first book in the series did you know where you would end up in this third book or did it come about organically?
Fractured and Tainted had been written, rewritten and re-formed at least 3 or 4 times. I had a plan for where it was going to go, a plan that would provide redemption for Lisen. Or so I thought. Then the friend, to whom I tell everything, said–after hearing my idea for the finale–“but how does Nalin feel about that?” Boom. Lisen’s redemption would lean on Nalin’s painful sacrifice, something I hadn’t seen until this friend pointed it out. Back to the drawing board. During the year I spent re-forming and rewriting Tainted, I made notes, 11 pages single spaced, to find the story that would bring closure to the series. No organization by plot points whatsoever; the notes were organized based on the date I entered them into the file. Once Tainted was complete, I put the notes together in the order they occurred in the story, then wrote them out on 4 x 6 cards for each scene. I had 57 cards at that point. By the time I finished the first draft, I had 94. I did, however, have the ending when Lisen and Korin are finally alone together all prepared well in advance, including the little bit at the end about the fairy tales (which I had word for word). So, the short answer is yes, it came about organically because I had no idea where I was going when I wrote the first two books.
The cover art for your three books are very well done. What decisions went into the art direction for the covers?
My cover artist, Aidana WillowRaven of WillowRaven Illustration and Design, is brilliant, and she definitely knows her stuff. She has taught me a lot about the art of the cover. We began with book II because I’d already created a cover for book I, and I was about to publish II. The process began with bringing Lisen to life. We worked back and forth for quite a while. The plan was to show her pouch through the material of the gown she’s wearing. We worked through several drafts of that. Then we came to the mutual decision that in order for the cloth the gown was made of to be transparent enough to see the pouch, it would end up showing things we thought inappropriate for a YA book. So the pouch disappeared behind the gown. It was a pity, but on the other hand, it leaves some of it up to the reader to fill in for him/herself.
After finishing up the cover for Tainted, we turned to replace my cover of Fractured. My desire was always to show a pivotal moment from the book. For Tainted, it seemed natural to show Lisen up on the top of the mesa after the Farii. For Fractured, the moment she falls apart after running from the chaos in Halorin was an obvious choice. For Blooded, I originally wanted the Garlan throne. Aidana loves slipping into alien worlds, and I had described the throne in the book specifically for her to have fun with. She informed me, in her experienced opinion, that with the covers of the first two books being set outside with a character in them, we needed to guard the brand and stick with that formula. I hated losing the throne (though it does remain in the book), but she was right. So the moment I chose was the one where Lisen and Korin must part after the blood bath in the Khared. (If you look closely, you can see Lisen’s eyes are black because she’s still blind.) This put both Korin and Pharaoh on the cover with Lisen. My artist definitely had a great deal of fun with Pharaoh. Korin was a challenge to be sure. I had some very definite ideas, as did she, but we got through it, and that cover is my favorite.
What were some things you wanted to clear up or wrap up in this final book in the series?
One important thread was what would happen to Lisen and Korin’s baby and whether or not they would finally find each other. The other was Lorain. The first was easy; the second, not so much. I knew what I had to do, but not how to set that up. Then the idea of a truly treasonous act rose up before me as a gift, with a little inspiration from Game of Thrones.
Was there anything that you didn’t have time to get to or wanted to leave open ended?
What I wanted to explore but had no place for in a YA trilogy was who would Lisen be (along with the other major characters) as she grew into her role as Empir. So when I finished Blooded and sent it off to Amazon, I sat back wondering what to work on next. I have several barely touched projects I could have turned to, but Lisen called. Rinli called. And it was at that juncture that I returned to Garla and Lisen 15 years on.
What is the next book that you’re working on? A continuation of the Lisen of Solsta series or a new series?
Yes, the Lisen saga continues. The first book, Protector of Thristas, is already finished and available. It begins 15 years on and follows the relationship between Lisen and Rinli. Let me tell you, a 15-year-out Rinli was an interesting character to place into the mix, and her two younger siblings are complex beings as well. And how has Korin reconciled his two roles–captain of the Guard and Empir-spouse? I answered most of my own questions that hinged on “what next?” and then, at the very end, created one hell of corner to paint myself out of in the book or books that will follow. I hesitate to commit to one or two as the “one” book I’m working on now grows longer and longer and will likely end up broken into two books. But this will conclude the story for me. I have an ending that I find satisfying and look forward to sharing it with others to see what they think.
“From the award-winning author of Fractured and Tainted comes Blooded, the finale to the Lisen of Solsta trilogy. After committing an act that terrifies her in its calculated coldness, and losing Korin, her valued companion, as a result, Lisen shuts down emotionally, allowing her to perform her duties as the Empir of Garla. But the arrival of a child, an abduction culminating in captivity and a drug called gryl provide Lisen with new insights, and faced with a civil war, she opens up to startling perceptions which offer a unique solution to the conflict.
Will Korin relent and reveal the secret he’s kept from her? Will Lisen come to forgive herself for her self-perceived sins? Will she recover the sense of family support that she once felt on Earth? Will she ever feel anything but alone again? Or will the nightmare of reality overwhelm her as the story concludes in this final volume? In a story that brings traitors to justice and two opposing lands to an inevitable confrontation, Blooded completes the Lisen of Solsta trilogy.”
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West Point, the school for those that value honor and tradition. A group of elite students and soldiers that want nothing more than to continue the long-standing traditions and be the absolute best out there. It is also a school that has long been a boy’s only club, stuck in the mindset and traditions of the male gender. However now, women are there. They are changing things and not everyone likes these changes. When Jan, Kristi, and Pamela start leaving a trail of bad luck behind them they are branded as witches. Jan is convinced someone is out to kill her. It isn’t long though before Kristi and Pamela are also targets, someone wants them gone for good. Susan Spieth takes readers into the world of being a West Point cadet in her novel Witch Heart.
The novel starts out at Army Airborne School in Fort Benning GA. At first the novel is mildly humorous as you realize that Jan the main character is afraid of heights. Why is she at Airborne School? The simple answer is, she is a West Point Cadet and she will not fail at anything. We start getting some of the back story of her bad luck and how her old roommate Violet killed herself. The reason for why this happened lies deep into the novel and Spieth takes the reader on an emotional journey to get to the answers. Along the way you find romance with Jan and fellow Cadet Rick, and friendships so deep hazing and Honor Courts will not rip them apart.
The plot deepens and the witch hunt continues, all we know of the antagonist is that it is a male that wares a black ski mask. This mask holds a special meaning for him but you don’t know what that meaning is. After there are three deaths all from the time Jan, Kristi and Pamela arrive at West Point, they become known as the witches’ coven. The mystery intruder braking into rooms is only known as the man with the ski mask and he reveals his plans and hate for two of the women especially.
The author has given a lot of time into explaining the environment at West Point, it is a boy’s club atmosphere that is just tolerating women in the ranks. I feel this is still relevant today, that many feel West Point should still be an all-male environment. The author uses higher ranking officers to brush off hazing rituals as good old fun and traditions. It speaks of the hostility that women face when they are told “you want to be one of us deal with it” and are left with little options; all too real of a situation. Susan Spieth is able to tap into the fears and anger that these female cadets feel.
While not overly complex in plot lines, the social structure and interactions of the characters make this a complex novel. The reader is drawn into the stories of Jan, Kristi and Pamela and how they have survived to be 3rd year cows’s at West Point. This is not your mushy feel good novel, but it does speak to the strength of women cadets and their ability to overcome the odds against them.
Pages: 237 | ASIN: B01MCYSLQB
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Mirror, Mirror at 1600 D.C. is an enticing book shrouded with romance and mystery. When a mysterious man named Harrison Rossetti is in Rome working for the US government, he has a chance encounter with journalist Hannah Littleton. Their lives are changed forever as an unexpected love blooms. While preparing for their wedding, Harrison is called away for a top secret project leaving Hannah alone with her fears. Harrison is then swept away in an unexpected, dire situation. Life or death decisions are made at every turn. The country’s security and future are at stake. Meanwhile, Hannah befriends Harrison’s longtime friend, Pope Josetta; unfortunately, under some less than desirable circumstances.
Follow the unexpected twists and turns of this mind – catching novel. Edward Galluzzi leaves you on the edge of your seat. His use of imagery and vocabulary captivates the audience and places them directly in the hair tingling situations. Friendship, Love, Sacrifice and Duty are all highlighted within these pages. While Harrison is portrayed as a secretive man, it is evident that he is a loyal companion once you break through his shell. He is committed to the people he truly cares about. The use of friendship adds an additional dimension to the story line. You find yourself feeling for these unexpected friends. The story of Harrison and Josetta, for example, leave a sense of awe and respect. The relationship between Greg and Harrison tiptoes on the line of professionalism and friendship. This leaves the reader questioning the next move from each.
Love sets an undertone throughout the story. Galluzzi does an exceptional job at catching the hearts of readers and leaving them longing for their own Harrison and Hannah love story. My heart ached for the lovers amidst their separation. While the love is admirable, it can reach peaks that I wish would dive a little deeper, at times you find yourself absorbed in a passionate moment eagerly awaiting the next move only to be left hanging. Sacrifices must be made, especially in Harrison’s line of duty. Sometimes, ones that break your heart and leave you feeling empty. I do wish some of Hannah’s fears and doubts would have been expressed and explained a little deeper. Harrison’s emotional responses to such sacrifices were held on the delicate balance described in ways that rendered the reader sympathetic.
The sense of duty is noble. All sacrifices were made in the wake of duty and respect. An empowering sense of patriotism coupled with disbelief on just how far someone might be willing to go in the name duty continually engulfs the reader.
As stated previously, the twists and turns of this novel keep the reader consumed. The mind is constantly trying to skip to the next scene to find out what happens. I personally found it to be a quick read simply because I had to know what happened next.
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 0981024610
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