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This Ozarian Tale

T. C. Bartlett
T.C. Bartlett Author Interview

The Good Witch of the South brings a new evil witch to the land of Oz that is amassing an army to overthrow the Head of Oz. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

TC – The inspiration for the story came from the dust jacket cover art. I had just finished my memoir, Roads Over Brown County, which took me two years to write, and I was playing around with a fairy design and thought it would be a fantastic image for a book cover. I keep thinking how nice a fantasy book cover it would make but didn’t know what kind of story it should be, and I didn’t have a title. For some unknown reason, while I was working on the cover art, I was also reading Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz again.

After I added tattoos on the fairy’s arm and some glowing orbs behind her, it came to me. I knew exactly who this fairy witch was. It made perfect sense; she was a good fairy witch, Glinda’s daughter, the Good Witch of the South. I instantly knew what I wanted to write.

For reasons I can’t explain, the first chapter I wrote in my journal was the epilogue. Everything else about the plot instantly fell into place.

What were some ideas that you wanted to keep from the classic Wizard of Oz and what were some new ideas you wanted to introduce?

TC – That’s a good question. I decided to combine aspects from Baum’s original book and the 1939 MGM movie with Judy Garland. Not many realize that in Baum’s books, Glinda was the Good Witch of the South, or also known as Glinda the Good, and not the Good Witch of the North. For fun, I decided to give Glinda the last name Glinda Goodwitch. I also decided to have the main characters from Baun’s book and the movie, The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion play a part in my book. I also thought it would be fun to add subtle echoes from the movie within my book.

One of my favorite moments in the film is at the end when Dorothy is back home in her own bed, and she is telling her family and friends about Oz. I wanted to capture this iconic moment in the book.

So when the main character, Samantha Goodwitch, Glinda’s daughter, is recuperating from a terrible injury from fighting the vicious red alpha dragon. She wakes up in an unfamiliar bed and looks up at her companions, and tells them about a dream she’d been having. She points a trembling finger at each one and says, “You, and you, and you . . . . . and you were there.” I also had the new Wicked Witch taunt her victims as she did in the movie, using some of the barbs the Wicked Witch of the West used. All of these small touches made the story special and fun for me when I was writing. It made me smile.

I added one piece of imagery at the beginning of the book when Sam is crouched on the roof of the castle looking out across the land of Oz that has been with me since I was a child. I am almost sure it started from the very first time I watched the movie. It happens when the Munchkins escort Dorothy to the center of Munchkin City to show her the Yellow Brick Road. Where the Yellow Brick Road spirals out from the center of the city, there is another spiraling brick road, but the bricks are red. That always fascinated me, and I have ever wondered what kind of adventures one would find following the Red Brick Road. To this day, when I watch the movie, I whisper, “Dorothy, take the Red Brick Road.”

Sam is an intriguing character that I enjoyed watching develop. What were some obstacles you felt were important to the characters development?

Mainly believing in herself and proving herself to her mother, to her sister, and to everyone she loved. Every time I start a new book project, I struggle with it, from my children’s picture books to my novels – especially my novels. So, I say to everyone, “Believe!”

Do you plan to write other stories within the land of Oz?

When I first started writing this Ozarian tale, I said to myself, “What am I think writing a book based on a classic like Oz!” Doing another book? Well, I will tell you this: I have already written an outline. But to be honest, the two years it took me to write The Good Witch of the South knocked the breath out of me. I am not sure I have it in me to write another adventure in the Land of Oz. But one never knows.

I have to admit. Now that this Good Witch story is finished, I find myself genuinely missing my daily visits to the Oz.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

There is a darkness brewing in the west and alarming rumors of dragons and an evil enchantress building an army to overthrow the Great Head of Oz. A demon fairy witch the Land of Oz hasn’t seen since Dorothy Gale destroyed the Wicked Witch of the West. 
Soon to be sixteen-year-old Samantha Goodwitch, the daughter of Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, knows she is disobeying her mother’s wishes when she leaves the castle to search for dragons, but she’d rather have an adventure than follow her mother’s command. When one of the Shadow Mountain Cats, Akasha, unexpectedly saves her life, the adventure turns deadly and a friendship grows between them.

But the rumors soon become real, and the freedom that had captured the hearts of the citizens of Oz is quickly unraveling. As the tensions mount and battles begin, Sam and Akasha find others who join them in the last Great War of Oz, to fight against the darkness that is devouring a once peaceful land.

*** A spectacular Ozarian adventure in the land of  Oz ***

To the Top of Greenfield Street

Ryan Standley’s To the Top of Greenfield Street follows Eric Daniels as he spends a brief yet formative summer in Freeport, a small northern Illinois town hundreds of miles away from his childhood home in Iowa. The text is written in an autobiographical fashion, with many musical and cultural references that indicate that the events take place in the 1980s or 1990s.

Standley does a superb job at recounting the nostalgia of youth. Eric’s adventures with his (mostly) newfound neighborhood friends – from their nighttime rendezvous to the drive-in theater to the Fourth of July festivities, all the way down to Eric’s surprise going-away party hosted by his mates – feel absolutely real and capture the freedom of any summer in the life of a Midwestern teenager. Nate, Matt, Billy, Melissa, Jen, Rachel, and Declan each make their own contribution with their easy-to-distinguish personalities.

To the Top of Greenfield Street is ultimately an engaging coming of age story. Eric has two major experiences that take place in a short amount of time, but leave an indelible mark. It is also through these turning points that Eric learns that resolutions aren’t always happy events – nor do they need to be. One, he comes to grips with the reality of his ties with Donna, his estranged and drug-addicted mother. Two, he experiences through Jen what it is like for a young man to share feelings of affection and chemistry, however fleeting, with another young woman.

Above all, the author showcases the finite nature of young relationships in a way that resonates with readers as young as their twenties. By the end of the text, Eric walks away cherishing the friendships and good times that he has had, but also accepts that just as summer inevitably turns to fall, he must accept what is and begin his next chapter of life alongside his dad. Endings do not need to be finite in nature – and very often in life they are anything but.

This is a solid read for readers of any age who want a well-written, teen-centered coming of age story. To the Top of Greenfield Street is a young adult novel that I heartily recommend.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B08GFQCVH8

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From Mystery into Fantastical

Otto Schafer
Otto Schafer Author Interview

The Secret Journal follows two teenagers that uncover a dangerous secret about their town. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

I am a huge fan of archaeology thrillers. I love Indian Jones and National Treasure. The Goonies was my favorite movie as a kid. But I also love fantasy and magic like Tolkien of course, and more modern stuff Like Brent Weeks Lightbringer series. I combined these influences and wrote the book I would want to read.

Petersburg, Illinois was my hometown growing up. It is a beautiful little town full of history and old Victorian era homes. Old Abraham Lincoln himself surveyed the town, and if you visit there you will see it’s a magical place. As a kid, I played in all the mysterious drainage tunnels and I’ve been in some of the basements of those old homes high up on the bluffs. The key locations in the book, including the library, the old Victorian basement, and even the mysterious tunnel are all real, and were described to the best of my memory. So you see, it only made sense Petersburg had to be the setting for the magical story I wanted to tell.

Garrett and Breanne are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

Garrett is a small-town kid from a blue-collar home who reminded me a lot of myself at his age. The problems I gave him were similar to problems I was going through at his age. Of course, I ramped it up as the story made the transition from mystery into fantastical.

My inspiration for Breanne was inspired by my wife and her father and brothers. I knew I wanted a diverse cast of characters in my book because I value diversity, and I think our culture needs more of it. So writing a young Black girl who wants nothing more than to be a world famous archaeologist like her father was my way of saying to any young girl out there, no matter her culture or background, you can and should be whatever you want to be! I also think it worked well that she couldn’t be any more different than Garrett. He is a poor, small-town kid who has to work side jobs for new shoes and has never really left home. While Breanne is a world traveler, cultured, and incredibly intelligent, yet they are drawn to each other.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was it planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

I am a panster at heart, so I didn’t plot much. I knew what needed to happen by the end of each chapter. I let the characters show me how to get there. Sometimes, I sat back in my chair completely surprised by the path they chose to take. Now that I am working on the third book of the series I plot a little more, but I still let the characters take me away and I am still surprised on a regular basis with the directions they choose to go.

This is book one in your God Stones series. What can readers expect in book two?

In ‘The Secret Journal’ I took readers on a suspenseful mystery where the intensity built chapter by chapter. By the end of the book it is obvious all hell is about to break loose. From the early pages of Book 2 ‘The Keepers of the Light’ that is exactly what happens, and it doesn’t stop. The action picks up as the teens fight for their lives, come to terms with their new reality, and try to save the world. The magic picks up too as we continue to transition from ‘real world’ ‘to a world suddenly saturated in a magic that wasn’t meant for us. I should mention, Book 2, ‘The Keepers of the Light’ is out now and I am hard at work on the 3rd book!

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A history hidden from the world. A truth long sought, but better left unfound. Will two teenagers survive the magical secrets they unearth?
Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Breanne Moore blames herself for her mother’s tragic death. So when her archaeologist father is invited on an exciting new dig, she’s determined to tag along and keep him safe. But as the mystery leads them closer to the island’s secret, Breanne’s dreams are filled with visions of a strange boy she’s never met… and a world of flaming carnage.
Petersburg, Illinois. Sixteen-year-old Garrett Turek is the unofficial leader of his fellow outcasts. Grappling with a volatile relationship with his stepfather, he avoids his home life by helping an eccentric accountant restore a historic Victorian house. But when he and his crew stumble on a crusty journal in the basement, Garrett uncovers a dead president’s key to a secret world-saving society.
As Breanne and her dad seek clues to a treasure hidden deep beneath the surface, they trigger a dangerous magic that should have stayed dormant forever. And when Garrett closes in on the truth, he’ll question everything he thought he knew and find trust in a girl from far away as they prepare to battle a dangerous foe.
Can the two would-be heroes fulfill a powerful prophecy and save the planet from destruction?
The Secret Journal is the first book in the sensational God Stones YA contemporary fantasy series. If you like unusual pairings, well-researched historical backgrounds, and heated suspense, then you’ll love Otto Schafer’s coming-of-age adventure.
Destiny awaits those brave enough to turn the page!

Phantom’s Mask

Phantom's Mask (Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms Book 2) by [Sara A. Noë]

Phantom’s Mask follows Cato is a very powerful ghost. He can go invisible, he is fast too, but not as fast as his lab brother Axel. After is family betrays him Cato is vengeful of the people who made him this way. His mother sold him off to be a lab-rat because he was born different. It pains him, but as much as it does, he will have to make a deal for the greater good of protecting his lab family who he has a strong connection to. Now fugitives who are being hunted, this team of eight will fight to the bitter end. They are a product of classified government program, forced like prisoners and experimented on, the alpha ghosts do not like humans because humans have betrayed them.

Phantom’s Mask is a suspenseful supernatural thriller filled with an array of mesmerizing ideas, there’s war, humans hunting ghosts, half humans betrayed by humans, and everyone bitterly protecting their space. Phantom’s Mask by Sara A. Noë is a fascinating product of a wild imagination with a plot that has the vague feel of Stranger Things, but much more suspenseful and action packed, a bit like the show The Boys on Amazon. There is ample time spent creating a rich atmosphere in this book that feels gritty and realistic. The author has created enduring characters with keen precision to details that ensure each character feels authentic, if not always complete. The emotional turmoil that Cato goes through was something that was consistently compelling and kept me interested. But even that takes a backseat to my interest in Cato’s origins and the intriguing mystery at its core.

Fans of the first book in the series A Fallen Hero will be more than pleased with this followup. Sara A. Noë continues to plumb the depths of her characters in Phantom’s Mask and readers will be delighted by it.

Pages: 578 | ASIN: B086D7NFSX

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It Had Power

Angelina Kerner Author Interview

Angelina Kerner Author Interview

The Scented Bones follows a young forensic anthropologist thrown into the middle of a feud between vampires and werewolves. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

The Godfather by Mario Puzo. When I was in college, taking an English class, most essays and books were boring until the professor chose his book. The book inspired discussions and gained attention of the students. It had power and I wanted to have similar power over my readers with my writing.

This book has been in the works for more than 5 years. It has gone through 5 drafts, including Angel being a university student and main character to be Rayne and not Gage. However, that draft seemed to read more like about street gangs and so I worked hard to make it more like mafia families.

The Scented book is the first in the series and in every book I’ll introduce more characters and families. Hopefully, my books will inspire readers to read more and even try their hand at writing.

 Angel is an intriguing character that I enjoyed following. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character?

I didn’t want her to be perfect. I wanted her to be smart but timid. Serious but with surprising funny moments. I wanted her to tread carefully when it comes to relationships and focus on the job. But, what I wanted to show was how she looked at magic. Of how she was afraid of what she was and what she could do.

I enjoyed the backstory and mythology embedded in this world between the vampires and werewolves. What were some sources of inspiration that helped you create this world?

Most inspiration came from the characters themselves. Originally all characters were mundanes and as the book progressed into the paranormal, the characters became their other selves. When I was re writing them, I was thinking that if they weren’t paranormal born, how would they shift if bitten? How would they act if they were born?

I tried staying away from other paranormal books about vampires and werewolves to keep my characters original.

 Where will the next book in The Svabodina Case Files pick up and when will it be available? 

The next book will pick up a couple of weeks after the last scene in The Scented Bones with a new case. The new case will involve a serial killer.

At the moment, I have about 20 chapters written. I’m going back to editing these chapters before finishing the book because I have to add information to the already written ones in order to write the scenes with the actual killer. It is a lot of work and I have a chapter summary file that I go back to for each chapter. I’m tracking dates, character appearances, etc.

I’m not sure when it will be out, hopefully next year. The Scented Bones has been republished by a publisher! So, I’ll work closely with the publisher for book 2 as well. It’s super exciting! Book 2 is titled – The Puzzle of Bones.

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The Scented Bones: The Svabodina Case Files by [Kerner, Angelina]

Angel Svabodina is a rookie forensic anthropologist, enjoying the beginning of her new career. That joy comes crashing down when she figures out the skeleton she’s working on is not human and then it vanishes.

She throws herself fully into the case without thinking about the parties involved, a psychopomp associate, and paranormal mafia families made up of vampires and werewolves—or the consequences.

When she sees there’s no avoiding the inevitable, Angel has to suck it up and work with the werewolves to solve the case but can she trust them?

Werewolves and witches are in a centuries-old feud, but that doesn’t stop the shivers running down her spine from one wolf in particular. Rights and wrongs become blurred, as she is tormented by her past and accepting who she truly is while searching for the skeleton. What’s more, nothing comes for free, including information. To get what she needs from the werewolf don, Angel has to meet with the fae queen. Can she meet her without repercussions and solve the case?

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Knowing God – Trailer

2019 Independent Press Award Winner in “FANTASY.”

Nathan Andrews was a good man. It came as quite a surprise to him that he wanted to die.

The mysterious image of a woman haunts Nathan during a Near Death Experience. She was “perfect” and everything a man would seek within a life partner. With the simple utterance “Go back!” she forever conquered his heart.

Leaving a mental hospital after that, Nathan runs into an odd woman named Amanda. She barely knows English, doesn’t recognize the simple things, and finally confesses an all-important truth to him: She…is GOD!

After some subtle convincing of the claim, and confronted by a winged man named “Gabriel,” Nathan accepts this fantastic reality. A reality that will change his world, and the world of Mankind… FOREVER!

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Aliens Are a Secret After All

Jim Cronin Author Interview

Jim Cronin Author Interview

Aeon Rises follows Justin, an average teen, as he stumbles upon otherworldly beings that are trying to kill him. How did you come across this idea and how did it change as you were writing?

I wanted to write a story that would be fun for middle school or high school student to read. A scifi story with characters they could relate to and who they could identify with. Even though I was a secondary teacher for over thirty years, it had been a few years since I retired and I was sure some of the slang and habits of teens had changed some over that time. I enlisted the aid of a class of eighth graders to read portions of the story and give me specific feedback about the teens characters. Their feedback was incredible and guided my writing of those individuals in the story. The changes they suggested made the Justin, Kevin and Myah much more true to today’s teens.

Justin isn’t exactly an average teen, he has an aversion to most electronics. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to Justin’s character development?

Due to his inability to play video games or watch the same shows most others his age took for granted, Justin faced a fair amount of ridicule and bullying from his classmates, except for Kevin. I drew on my own experiences growing up being the brunt of several bullies, but I wanted Justin to rise above it and, though it still hurt, not give in to the abusers. He relied heavily on Kevin to get beyond it all, and then he learned about his abilities and his importance. That made everything else pale in comparison, even though he could not rub it in his tormentor’s faces. Aliens are a secret after all.

The Skutarans see Justin as a threat and want to destroy him. What were some sources of inspiration for you when creating their race?

I watch a lot of scifi movies and read a ton of scifi books as well. I simply took characteristics of evil aliens I have read or seen over the years and blended them into traits of the Skutarans: Arrogance, Hyper Ego, superiority complex, all combined with advanced alien technology. What more could you want in an evil overlord alien?

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

I have recently been recovering from a major surgery, which has affected my ability to focus on anything for long. It is only in the past few weeks I have been able to start thinking about a new novel. To get back into practice, I am working on a short story about ice miners on Europa, a moon around Jupiter. From there, I have an idea about fusing scifi and fantasy in a story about aliens digitized into a LOTR style movie who are discovered by a fan of the movie and their collaboration to rescue the aliens from the orcs, wizards, etc. and return them home again.

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Aeon Rises by [Cronin, Jim]Justin Madrid always considered himself an average nerdy freshman in high school, and an outcast because intense migraines prevent him from playing video games or watching television. Even looking at a phone screen hurts. But when the aliens, disguised as local librarians, started trying to kill him, everything changed. And now it is up to Justin and his cool new power to save the earth from invasion.

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Children of the Elements

Brenna and Adara are twins living in England that spend their days with tutors and fancy automated machines. When not working on their schooling they’re reading from the Grimoire. From the Grimoire they learn of the Elemental Gods and pretend they were them. It wasn’t until they moved to Massachusetts that they began to realize they were different. On their first day of school they meet twin boys, Dimitri and Wyndham that share their same last name, Devins, as well as strange white streaks of hair. From there they realize they all have over-sized pets, a toad, lizard, owl and rat that just found the children and attached themselves to them. Slowly as they get to know each other they develop strange powers, telepathy, the ability to control elements, and the mysterious Grimoire that each has a part of starts morphing before their eyes. What does it all mean? How are they connected? Why are strange things happening to them? What happens when the stories they read as children suddenly start coming to life?

Children of the Elements by Ora Wanders, is set in a steampunk reality of the semi modern world. There are parts that remind me of early frontier times, the one room school house, the simple country life, but then she adds in the steampunk elements of automated machinery and clothing choices. It is a mix of modern and old and blends together in a fascinating way that makes sense to the story line. Each set of twins have similar backgrounds, only one parent, both moving from homes with lots of machinery to a simpler life and only bringing a few things with them, the Grimoire that seems incomplete to each set. When they meet, it is literally like puzzle pieces fitting together. The story is exceptionally well written and everything flows naturally and story elements occur organically. I could picture the characters clearly, the bickering and playing around that you expect from young adults comes out. I found it all relatable, even in the magical setting.

This was a book that I didn’t want to put down. The plot moves quickly, the character development is integrated with the plot, so you’re not weighed down with back stories and character development early on. All that information comes out as you meet the characters and see them interacting with their pets, teacher, and each other. They are typical teenagers with attitudes and short tempers, but you see them grow from the early pages to the end. Without giving away key elements, I can say that all four children are able to grow and see their potential while still retaining a child like wonder of the world. It has all the elements a reader of fantasy could want; magic, conflict, family drama, growth, and an open ending to continue the saga.

One of the most amazing things about this novel is the author. Ora Wanders is only ten years old! I could not believe this when I finished the novel and wanted to learn more about the author because I loved the book that much. I am looking forward to the second book in the series and much more from this amazing young lady.

Pages: 310 | ISBN: 1797718002

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