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Temptation Incarnate

Kristal Dawn Harris
Kristal Dawn Harris Author Interview

Rise for Me follows a vampire who is forced into a reunion with his soulmate that abandoned him, and she’s harboring another secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for Rise for Me actually developed after answering another author’s writing prompt. On social media, he asked his followers to create a fictional story about how we met. That is temptation incarnate for another writer, so I answered with something like this:

We met at the carnival and you were the creepy clown who snuck up behind me. I was so scared, I hit you with my corndog, and got mustard in your hair. You were so angry, we wrestled into the duck-pond booth, and tore it all to pieces. You laughed and I laughed. We both ended up wet, but we’re friends again, and all is good.

Not the best writing, but it was a fun response. That author is a horror writer by the way…lol After that little paragraph, I started thinking what a great vampire story.

Mariah and Roman have a deep emotional connection. What were some driving ideals behind the character’s relationship?

Vampires are almost always fated mate stories, but it’s rare to see a character leave for any extended period of time. Given Mariah’s age at the time the knowledge is revealed to Roman, I felt their separation appropriate although difficult for my hero. As a vampire and gypsy, Roman knows what it’s like to be judged, so he easily empathizes with Mariah’s infirmity. By the same token, Mariah has suffered judgement most of her life, so she knows what it’s like for Roman. This dynamic between them, along with the fact that they’re mates, drives the angst for her return, his forgiveness, and a happily-ever-after ending.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I am disabled from Guillain-Barre syndrome, so I know what it feels like to be different. Because I wear drop-foot braces, I walk a little weird. My mother was born with a hairy birthmark in the center of her forehead that was removed by a cosmetic surgeon later in her life. I’ve seen these things with my own eyes, experienced them, been stared at, and know how devastating they can be, but I also wanted to show the positives. The people of the carnival, including Roman, are accepting and don’t judge anyone. There are people just like Mariah and Roman in the real world, people in my life. Roman never looked on Mariah as anything but beautiful. Different doesn’t mean ugly…it means unique. I think Mariah realized how much more important Roman’s love was versus the healing he bestowed her with maturity and distance. In a world based on beauty, I feel as an author it’s important to put that kind of message in my stories. Mariah suffered real problems. Don’t we all wish for a vampire mate to heal us? Those types of situations draw the romance reader because many can identify. I was a reader, and still am, long before I ever wrote my first book.

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

Seduction by Blood is another fated mates, vampire book that releases February 22, 2021. It deals with an abusive relationship in the beginning, so again, I’m hitting on a major issue while showing the heroine’s inner strength and growth throughout the story. The vampire is old world and is woke by his mate’s blood traveling through the root system on his property. This book is paranormal erotic, cowritten with another author, and published by The Wild Rose Press.

Hand-Carved Wolf is undergoing a major revision and will be available March 1, 2021, through Kindle Unlimited. This is a fantasy romance that deals with two widowers, and the ghost that bridges the gap between them. It’s unique in that the hero and the ghost are both Native American, my heroine is strong and feisty, and it’s in the current time period. It’s a longer book, 160+ pages, because of the issues that come from losing a spouse. The hero is also a single father and trying to put his and his daughter’s life back together when the heroine barges into his world. The book is loaded with sassy banter and was fun to write. It’s a good story with deep meaning, more of a classic romance about second chances, so I’m hoping romance readers enjoy it.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Vampire and warlock, Roman Lee, spent centuries alone as ringmaster of the carnival. After befriending and healing a scarred, young woman, Roman realizes Mariah is his mate. He waits for her, but when she departs from his life, his torture knows no bounds. Now he’s risen, unforgiving and angry, forced from his grave by the one woman who captured his heart, but will another secret and the call of his mate change everything?

The steady call of Roman’s blood and the promise of peace brings Mariah Stone home to the carnival and the vampire she left behind. He ignores her until she forces him from the grave with her blood. His anger crushes her already broken spirit, but she is determined to win Roman’s forgiveness and free him from their bond. Denied passion leads them down a path of magic and desire, while a devastating secret threatens eternal love.

Rise for Me

Rise for Me by [Kristal Dawn Harris]

Rise For Me is a thrilling paranormal romance novella that surprised me with the amount of emotion that is packed into so few pages. Although the vampire romance genre is dense, Rise for Me is still able to remain unique and bring something new to the genre. The story surrounds a carnival run by Roman, our alluring main character, who is the ringmaster, vampire and warlock. Our female protagonist is Mariah, a character with emotional depth, who becomes Roman’s mate after a spell was performed. Although she has kept away, she has come back into Roman’s life and has a personal secret. The two have multiple forces working against them, including Mariah’s father, but they are inextricably bound to each other nonetheless.

Rise For Me is short, but is manages to take readers on a roller-coaster of emotion. Maybe because the story was short, or maybe because I so enthralled with the story, but I blew through story quickly. I read it all in one sitting! Author Kristal Dawn Harris’ writing is easy and keeps the story on the character and the action. Readers feel the pain that both Roman and Mariah felt by being apart all those years and empathize with Mariah as we learn the real reason why she has come back. This story has a great mix of character development and steamy scenes. I found the vampires in this story to be unique enough to stand out in the vampire genre, and I am impressed with how much background on our characters was given considering this story is around sixty pages. There was is a peculiar angst and passion between Roman and Mariah, I wanted more of their story and the way the novella ends only made me want more on these two characters.

I definitely recommend this if you are into vampire romance stories and are looking for a quick read; a long train or plane ride as this story can easily transport you into another world. I just wish we were there a bit longer. Readers easily get attached to Roman and Mariah and their complicated relationship. This is a suspenseful supernatural love story that will have fans raving, and begging for another installment.

Pages: 61 | ASIN: B08RRYSPHY

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Real Women’s Stories 2018

Real Women's Stories 2018: A powerful, inspiring collection of short stories by and about real women. by [Beth Kallman Werner]

Real Women’s Stories 2018, edited by Beth Kallman Werner is a potent take on the journeys of twelve women. The chapters of the book vividly present to the readers the upheavals of a woman’s life, and the struggles that often go unnoticed by the world. 

This collection brings together women from different spheres of life, transcending ethnicity, and borders. Narrated in a simple tone, the honest stories take center stage, immersing the readers in an incredibly beautiful journey. This book is a light-read, but the essence of the experience of these women is nonetheless powerful, leaving a strong impact on the reader. 

Each of the stories is vastly different from one another, but somewhere, there is an invisible thread connecting them, predominated by the indomitable spirit of these amazing women. The writings exhibit a seamless flow of emotions, difficulties, losses, and triumphs, and make us understand this world a little better, from the perspective of real women. These are not stories of world-renowned stars, but in their personal lives, these women are the superheroes– dealing with battles and championing them too. 

These stories are curated not only for women but also for men. It allows a glimpse into the life of a average women and documents their life in powerful words. This book reveals certain aspects of these women’s lives that are hardly recognized in society. From stories of war, surviving abuse, to creating a successful business– you will find a beautiful amalgamation of anecdotes, reflected through these short and gripping pieces. 

The stories are crisp and unputdownable, which makes them all the more impactful. Since these women belong to completely different backgrounds, the settings in each of the stories are vastly different. 

Through these twelve short pieces, you can undertake a journey to celebrate their wins, while also learning about how they paved ways for themselves in the world. As real, living humans, living away from glitz and glory, the inspiring tales of these women are sure to move every reader. 

I would like to give this book a 5/5, owing to its sheer simplicity of narration, and capturing human emotions, difficulties, and victories with utmost subtlety. This book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to delve deep into the lives of women who live away from the limelight.

Pages: 146 | ASIN: B076Q3L3Q2

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Dance of Hearts: a Cinderella Regency Romance Retelling

Dance of Hearts: a Cinderella Regency Romance Retelling (Historical Fantasy Fairytale Retellings Book 1) by [Byrd Nash]

Six years ago, Melinda was orphaned. Since that day, her life with her relatives hasn’t been the easiest. She is more of an employee to them than she is a beloved member of their family. Of fairy heritage herself, Melinda is quite the enigma to her less-than-caring relatives. When she is presented the opportunity to reunite with the single remaining person from her childhood, only one thing stands in her way–but it’s the biggest barrier she could ever dream to have to fight. To be remembered is divine, but to be forgotten is breaking her lonely heart.

Dance of Hearts: A Cinderella Retelling, by Byrd Nash, is a completely new and wonderful retelling of the classic fairy tale. Of all the variations offered over the years, this one stands out for its time period, the plot twist given its male characters, and the intense emotion exhibited by main character, Melinda. The added charm of the fairy world makes Nash’s tale one to remember.

One of the most striking aspects of Nash’s rendition of Cinderella is the strength given Melinda. She is fierce in almost every way possible. Though her status is perceived to be lowly and her position is not respected by her family and most around her, Melinda speaks her mind, stands up for herself and others, and does not shy away from questioning anything she finds suspicious.

I am giving Dance of Hearts: A Cinderella Retelling, by Byrd Nash, an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. This beautifully penned version of a Cinderella story is a quick read, offers readers a totally new take on the age-old story, and will appeal to readers across genres. The unique ending/epilogue truly set this story apart from all other fairy tale remakes.

Pages: 70 | ASIN: B08F38P57X

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Ekleipsis: How far would you go to obey your instincts?

Ekleipsis: How far would you go to obey your instincts? by [Tamel Wino]

Ekleipsis is a collection of five riveting short stories by Tamel Wino in which he explores the dark side of human nature. The first short story, “The other Son” is about a man in his fifties, who has lost his puppy and his mother, his only two connections. He is now struggling to move on in life. His mother has always praised her other son on making her happy and making better life choices. When stuck in precarious situations, his mind conjures up the ‘perfect’ images of his brother, constantly reminding him of how he is a failure. The story is a reminder of how some comparisons paralyze you for life, and some losses are hard to bounce back from.

The second story, “closing costs” is about revenge. Stella knows that her husband Dan is cheating on her with their realtor, Jane. But that’s not what the revenge is about. Dan has some dark secrets and will go to any length to get revenge. Jane, with a traumatizing childhood and a monstrous father, also want to take revenge from her father for all the monstrosity she suffered at his hands. She wants to become rich and would adopt any path for it. But there is an unforeseen price to pay . The story highlights the gravest taste of revenge. It shows how the flame of seeking vengeance blinds a person.

The third story shows how a small doubt in your heart can make you do vile things. Blake has returned home after a two-year-long work-related tour. Her experience of unpleasant things while serving in military intelligence haunts her in real life. On returning, she finds everything changed, including her relationship with her wife, who has kept a lot hidden from her. With a false doubt and assumptions, she takes a dramatic course of action.

The fourth story “Has been” is a tragic story about a guy named Ben who is struggling with anger management. He lost his career, fame, reputation and his new job all to his heated temper, but this doesn’t bring an end to the atrocities he inflicts. The story shows the miserable form a person assumes when he abandons his humanity.

The fifth and the last story, “All in” is about a gambling addict. His financial and family life are suffering because of his gambling addiction, but he keeps going back to the tables. The casino’s owner gives him a generous offer, one that will make him debt-free. But the offer comes with a price he is not ready to pay and a lesson he will learn the hard way.

Ekleipsis is a thought-provoking collection of stories that explore themes such as anger, addiction, jealousy, doubt, loss, and various other emotions that plague humanity. All of this captured in the deep and complex characters coloring the pages.

Pages: 136 | ASIN: B08LR1PCJH

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Polish Dragon P. I. (The Ark of Healers)

Polish Dragon P. I. (The Ark of Healers) by [Steve Zimcosky]

Polish Dragon P. I. (The Ark of Healers) is a crime thriller novella written by an award-winning author Steve Zimcosky. This novella follows a private investigator, Tom Sipowicz, as he investigates the mysterious case involving multiple women in Northeast, Ohio that are disappearing. He is hired by one of the missing victims daughter, and he must work this case while not interfering with the police and FBI.

The mystery in this noir style novel was very intriguing as, at first, the disappearances seem to be random, but it soon grows exponentially, involving holistic healing and high-level authorities coming into view. This story fits well into the teen and young adult fiction genre perfectly with a strong focus on the puzzling mystery, campy dialogue and a lack of explicit violence and themes. Another great aspect was the relationship between Tom and his police detective friend, Gary. These two had an interesting conflict that sprinkled the entire book with funny dialogue.

While I certainly lost myself in the story, some parts of the investigation feels like the reader is simply told what happened, almost like reading a Wikipedia page when I felt that it could have been shown. The characters in the story were intriguing and well developed, but I would have liked to know more about the famous Polish Dragon P.I. and other characters, like the Assistant County Prosecutor Adriana Charveaux.

Overall, Polish Dragon P. I. (The Ark of Healers) is a fun read that people of all ages will certainly enjoy. Author Steve Zimcosky has a knack for planting the seeds to a mystery early on that grows more and more compelling as the novel progresses. Sleuth’s or crime fiction fans looking for a short and satisfying read will find plenty to enjoy with Steve Zimcosky’s latest entry in the Polish Dragon P.I. series.

Pages: 85 | ASIN: B08LQGK58T

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Christmas Letters

MICHAEL SHAWN MCCALLEY
Michael Shawn McCalley Author Interview

30 Chicago Christmases is a collection of personal letters you’ve sent during the holidays over the last 30 years. Why was this an important book for you to publish?

I have asked myself what I would grab from my house in a hurry were it burning to the ground. The obvious answer was my collection of end-of-year Christmas letters that I have been keeping in a 3-ring binder. I did not want to reach the end of my life without leaving behind any indication of having been here. I did not want to reach the end of my life without sharing what I have learned or observed. In publishing this book filled with holiday-themed correspondence, my hope was that others might benefit from the insights that have come from my experiences.

Your 30th year-in-review letter will be in 2020. This is a difficult year for everyone, but was there anything specifically personal to this year for you?

During the earliest and most restrictive phases of the pandemic lock-down, I never identified with the oft-spoken adage that “we’re all in this together.” Despite technology which has allowed for telework and electronic forms of communication, I have felt greatly distanced from a sense of normal and from other people. Christmas 2020 looks to take place under a lock-down. My hope when writing this book is that it would be a way to connect with people, with activities, and with traditions at a time when get-togethers and travel might be inopportune.

Was there anything that surprised you when you went back to look at these letters for this book?

No, I cannot say that I was surprised by anything. What I had written was consistent with my memories of what I had described. My letters did include some details that I might have forgotten had they not been put to paper. What I did feel was a sense of affirmation with respect to the choices I have made and that my life feels like it is headed in the right direction going forward.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

I want readers to appreciate how beneficial and significant writing can be to a sense of well-being. I do not wonder where the years have gone because I have got a record of what I have done with them. Others who write can experience that same sense of satisfaction in being able to account for how they have spent their time on planet earth or at least avoid that sense of loss felt by non-writers who wonder how time got away from them.

Author Links: Facebook | Amazon

My name is Michael McCalley, and 30 Chicago Christmases is the first book I have authored. Before now, my writing outside of work had been limited to personal correspondence and accounts of travels when I have taken a vacation. Many people have told me how much they enjoy my letters which I consider my favorite compliment. What I write also tends to be short, generally no more than a few thousand words. Never would I have considered myself an author or a writer of an entire book. But then the pandemic hit. I coped with lockdowns and restrictions by writing more than usual. During this time, I successfully recovered the most aged of some lost “year-in-review” Christmas letters which I had stored on some old floppy disks. They go back continuously to Christmas 1991. Beginning with the 2009 Advent season, additional mailings detailing the build-up toward Christmas in the Windy City supplemented the annual letters sent to my parents. The year-in-review letter sent for 2020 is my 30th. My pandemic project has been the compilation of all my holiday correspondence into what has become 30 Chicago Christmases. At times, it may read as a reflective memoir intended for those interested in personal growth and development. The book is also an account of how Christmas is observed in Chicago, which is part current history and part travelogue. I chronicle the happenings downtown, in my neighborhood, at work, and at home. Vivid descriptions of activities and events which make the Yuletide special in the Windy City put the reader at the center of the festivities. This book will delight readers who want the experience of a Chicago Christmas for themselves and to share with others.

Science and Speculative Fiction

Clayton Graham Author Interview
Clayton Graham Author Interview

Looking for Life is a collection of thought-provoking and fun science fiction stories. What was the inspiration behind this collection of stories?

Imagining universal situations and populating them with fascinating characters, usually with a dilemma to solve—now that’s an infinite depository of inspiration. After all, the stories may all be true, or become true in the future [or is it the past?

The size of this universe, the possibility of other universes and dimensions; they are all a source of wonder to me. They are also a cradle of countless possible happenings—just by the act of being there. It’s a challenge, yes, but it’s also a load of fun. And if you can make ends meet, so to speak, there’s a wonderful sense of satisfaction in completing a short story; any story really.

My favorite story from the collection is ‘Looking for Life’. Do you have a favorite or stand out story from the collection?

That’s a bit like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. ‘Looking for Life’ covers many facets of science and speculative fiction, but if you twisted my arm it would be a battle between ‘Desperate Times’ and ‘Looking for Life’ and ‘Mother’. And it would be a prolonged battle with no outright winner.

Did you write these stories for this collection or did you write them separately over time?

I certainly didn’t compile the stories one after the other with a view to hurriedly compiling a collection. I write a short story when an idea surfaces, and it may lie fallow for a quite a while before it clamours to join the nest of possible publications. I would say the majority of these stories were written over the past two or three years. But they are well-loved creations and never leave my mind.

Do you have plans to publish more works of short stories? Or possibly expand on a short story?

‘Looking for Life’ follows on from my first collection of short tales ‘Silently in the Night’, which was published in 2018. I guess that means I enjoy writing them. In between, I have also written three novels, so they are a love also. Currently my prime focus is writing the third book in the ‘Milijun’ series.

I often get reviewers or team members asking about expanding a short story into a novel, one particularly in ‘Looking for Life’ was ‘Mother’, which may very well suit that scenario. I think that ‘Worthy of Consideration’ would also fall into the basket.

However, I have never done it yet, but I guess it would be a new challenge. It’s nice to know something is there that readers appreciate and could serve as an inspiration for future tales.

Author Links: GoodReads Facebook Website

Strap in, turn down the lights, and enter worlds that will stretch your imagination to the full…

From a stranded alien comedian to the darkest depths of the human psyche; from a mind-blowing galactic adventure to clandestine extraterrestrial behaviour on Earth. They’re all here in this spell-binding collection of short stories to keep you guessing at every turn.

With tales of alien invasion, deep space mystery, time travel, and dystopian future Earths, this is a collection which takes inspiration from the much respected ‘old masters’ of Science Fiction. Here be new realms to explore—can you cross the void and challenge your dreams?

Explore Looking for Life and escape to strange and wonderful new worlds. From the author of Milijun, Amidst Alien Stars, Saving Paludis, and Silently in the Night.
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