A Chronicle of Rebirth: The Magus is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a romance, fantasy, and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The Fantasy genre crossing with the romance genre was deliberate. I had always felt as though there could be more books with those two genres mixing. As for the suspense aspect, it was entirely organic. Originally, the project was started by me and then my husband and co-author James joined me. We had never thought of our writing as suspense, but we are happy that we achieved that with our story.
Nelina and the Magus are both interesting and well developed characters. What was your inspiration for their characters and their relationship?
The characters were developed slowly over the years. My Husband developed the character Ru’ark while playing Dungeons & Dragons and kept the character through his years of gaming. Nelina developed as a mix of several of the characters I have played over the years. Their relationship is in part a reflection of the relationship my Husband and I have together. We always love each other and have one another’s back. However, unfortunately neither of us have any magical smoke ability. One other correlation to Nelina and Ru’ark is how fast they fell in love. My husband and I met because I read his poetry online. After talking on the phone, he hopped on a Greyhound bus a few days later and travelled from Maine to Illinois to meet me. The moment he stepped off the bus, he swept me off my feet and kissed me before even saying hello. Well, last August 4th 2017 was our 11 year wedding anniversary, so 12 years in total we’ve been together.
What was the writing process like for the two of you working as a team? How do you toss around ideas and decide on what goes in the story?
Our story goes through a basic brainstorming process, which tends to involve Dunkin Donuts and coffee. At first, as we toss ideas back and forth sort of sketching out the outline for the book, then depending on what chapters call to one of us, that person will write the rough draft. From there we pass the it back and forth, adding things and removing parts until we are both happy with the finished product. The ideas that tend to stick are the ones that fit the story most. We have a simple credo that we write by- it’s all about the story. If either one of us feels that a part of the draft doesn’t serve the story as a whole, then it gets nixed.
This is book one in the series. Where does book two take readers and when will it be available?
In Book two, the readers will learn that Nelina’s promised powers at the end of book one are not quite what the Magus expected them to be. Also, they will be learning what is happening back in Danthamore with the Queen ruling her kingdom without the Magus exercising his influence. Plus, readers will find out what has become of Elian, Adar, and Claire. Malark and the Outlander will definitely be making an appearance in the second book as they journey out of the Waste. I’d love to be able to give a solid date to book two’s release, but I simply don’t have one to give other than in 2018. What I can say is that the book is worked on every single day, barring emergencies and natural disasters. So far, we are half way done with the 1st draft.
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Mademoiselle Alice tells an intimate tale that takes readers on a personal journey through life and love. What was the inspiration that made you want to turn Alice’s life into a story?
I spent three years writing a history book called Alice & Eiffel, A New History of Early Cinema and the Love Story Kept Secret for a Century. As soon as I finished it, my girlfriends said: “We want a novel!” Alice wrote a memoir that is very cryptic, only 120 pages. I felt that she had a lot of secrets which she alluded to, particularly about her father, her experiences at the convent, and her relationship with Eiffel.
Why did you choose to write the novel in the first person?
When I started the novel, I spent several months writing Alice’s story in the third person, but it felt distant. I felt like I was flying over the rooftops, getting an occasional peek through a crack in the curtains. The novel didn’t start to come to life until I switched to first person and told it from Alice’s point of view.
Being basically kidnapped from her grandmother’s home at four and then being dropped off at the convent at six were the heartbreaks in her childhood that most captured my imagination and sympathy. Then of course when her father died when she was seventeen, that was the coup de grâce for her. In her memoirs she began with “My destiny was no doubt traced before my birth,” and I think she was referring to the early connections between her father and Eiffel since Eiffel really did go to Chile the year before she was born.
Alice Guy Blaché was a pioneer with so many accomplishments. What was the one thing that surprised you the most about Alice?
The biggest surprise was that although Eiffel was wildly successful and a very attractive person, Alice is more compelling. I think the story-telling gene that she developed was a result of her early experiences and not a function of ambition to make it in the movies which did not exist when she started.
The first film she wrote and directed, La Fée aux Choux, remains iconic in symbol and mystery. In one minute she tapped into the deepest themes of human experience: romantic love, sexual attraction, and family. We know it when an artist touches that chord, cuts to the core of something deep.
The temptation with a biography of a famous or accomplished person is to stack up their achievements in an intimidating tower. You can do the same thing with Eiffel. Would you like to read about all forty of the bridges he built culminating in his famous tower? That has been the outline of all the biographies about him. They don’t get close to the real person.
What kind of research did you have to do to maintain the historical accuracy of the book?
I look up all kinds of quirky things. It is not at all efficient, but you have to cast a very wide net. I read French and American newspapers from 1890s through the 1920s, and it is surprising what you run across, such as a column entitled “What makes a woman charming?” The old newspapers reflect how people thought back then. The phrase “gender roles” wasn’t coined until 1955. In Alice’s time, being a wife and mother were a woman’s duties, not roles she chose. The “old maids” were viewed as having missed the boat of life.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on scripts for Mademoiselle Alice. I think it would make a good television series starting with the California Gold Rush. Many people came from France to California during that period and I believe Alice’s father was among them. Everyone wonders how Alice was able to do cowboy and western films. I think it was in her DNA.
A deeply evocative story inspired by real events: the love affair between two unforgettable people—Gustave Eiffel, the builder of the Eiffel Tower, and Alice Guy Blaché, a pioneer in the art of cinema. Mademoiselle Alice steps out of the shadows into the reader’s mind as an endlessly intriguing and entirely relatable young woman. Told through Alice’s eyes, we get to know her, her family, and Monsieur Eiffel. Eiffel is not looking to fall in love—he is a widower who has everything—wit, wealth, fame, and brilliance. He was a friend of Alice’s father who died when she was seventeen, and the story she tells of falling in love with him is funny and emotionally intimate. Alice and Eiffel forge an enduring romantic and intellectual bond. But while she wants to marry him, he refuses because he is so much older than she is. Out of her desire to have a family, she marries a handsome Englishman and travels to the United States, where she works with D. W. Griffith and then opens her own film studio. Some of her emotional experiences find expression in the scenarios she writes for film. Her relationship with Monsieur Eiffel continues on in her mind and leads to some surprising developments. Mademoiselle Alice tells us much about women’s lives during the silent film era in France and the United States. Combining a biographer’s knowledge of her subject with the novelist’s gift for narrative, Janelle Dietrick has crafted a novel that will capture the interest of every reader.
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I recently read Out of the Shadows by Ashlee Nicole Bye and was immediately hooked by the first chapter. The prologue to the book, which I admittedly skip over, caught my eye and sets the scene for what is a very interesting concept and well written novel. We meet Julian, who we learn is not from this world as he uses ‘humans’ and as you read on, you learn that he is way older than he appears to be. Although his age isn’t described until later, you know he’s old because his eyesight has been bestowed to him almost a century and a half ago. Clearly, he’s seen some things.
I really enjoyed this book. Maybe it’s because I’m Australian as well and we rarely get treated to books that are supernatural AND also mention state capitals that we know (such as Melbourne), but it was immediately easy to immerse myself into this world that Ashlee has so lovingly created. The characters, such as Sachi, are so well written that you can feel their pain, anguish and confusion as Sachi is thrown into a world she’s not entirely sure about. Sachi’s best friend was killed by the ‘Melbourne Slasher’, but it’s not until she ventures out after months of solitude that she sees things that were definitely not there before.
As the book goes on, Sachi and Julian’s worlds become intertwined as we learn that Julian and his friend Moss are a part of a secret society of reapers (which explains why he’s over a century and a half old) called the Order of Light and Dark, who are tasked with finding out what the Melbourne Slasher is and how they plan on stopping it.
This book also brings into play a very interesting idea that you can play with. The Order of the Light and Dark, and their jobs as reapers, means that they control who dies, when they are supposed to die and what manner they are supposed to die in. This ‘melbourne slasher’ is throwing everything out of balance and is throwing the reapers off schedule. It brings a concept forward that can make you feel at peace; your death has been scheduled and you are going to die when you are supposed to. For a control freak like myself, I really liked this concept.
I really ejoyed Sachi and her strong banter with the other characters within the book. I love that strong female leads are becoming the norm (thanks, Gone Girl!). I feel like without the banter and the wit of Sachi, this book would have been a bit difficult to read. She definitely made me laugh a fair bit.
Another thing I enjoyed were the chapter names. The first one had me snorting with ‘It’s too damn hot for a monster to just be walking around’. Ashlee really nails how Australians tend to describe things and this definitely comes forth in the chapter titles. They were descriptive and funny and accurate.
Pages: 338 | ASIN: B06W58K67L
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At 28, it’s bad to be single. After four years of relationship struggles, Cat is ready to try anything.
That’s when her friend tells her about her class’ Dear Santa letters. One little boy asked for a new mommy, and she suggests Cat meets the kid’s dad, just to see where things go. Cat figures it can’t hurt…until she meets a stranger in the midst of a car accident. The man is handsome with a sad look in his eyes. He still wears a wedding band and she’s not sure his heart’s available, even if he makes her heart race. But, maybe he’s a widower? Cat wonders if she should resign herself to being an old maid, or whether she could possibly be the answer to a little boy’s Christmas wish, unless there’s a third option – a future with the stranger.
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Kaye Schmitz’s The Consort Conspiracy talks about an ancient cemetery deep in the Lowland of Georgia that has been there for over two centuries and protects the remains of the infamous murderer whose act of betrayal changed the history of the town and catapulted the descendants of the murdered victim into the nation’s highest political office.
Kate Covington, a thirty one year old intrepid journalist travels to Midway Georgia, the hometown of the current president Wilford Pennington, to film a documentary to help boost his favorability ratings after he could not keep his privates in his pants. The search for answers to her documentary brings her to the cemetery that has buried more secrets than bodies. But her curiosity almost gets her killed.
The book starts steadily but picks up the pace after the introductory. There are several story lines that are juggled and all are meticulously developed. Kaye Schmitz brings them together in surprising ways with twists that I didn’t see coming. I enjoyed the detailed writing style as well as the alternating perspectives, we even get to travel from the past to the present. All of it intricately weaving together story lines that seem to be separate but which culminate in a explosive piece full of suspense.
As Kate busies herself gathering information for her documentary, she unearths a secret about the first family that could lead to their undoing. The truth about the death of Dr. Aaron Pennington, a descendant of the president will also be uncovered. Mr. Wilford’s political career rests on this murder that happened more than two hundred years ago. This all lends to a thrilling joyride of a novel.
Kate has to deal with some highly emotional issues throughout the story, like when she discovers the truth about the death of her mother. A truth that will not only change the town’s history but Kate’s future as well.
The historical facts that have embellished the present tale and the vivid and compelling characters portrayed by the heroes and villains keep one turning the pages. You really can envision how the characters, as well as the locations, look through Kaye Schmitz detailed description.
When the two handsome men Dan Pennington and Joshua Warrington start competing for Kate’s attention the book becomes a can’t-put-it-down tale. By the end the outcome was both satisfying and unexpected. Just when you thought you figured it all out, you realize you don’t. It was well written and keeps one on the edge of their seat. It was one of those stories that you have to read word by word for fear of missing something crucial. It really was a page turner.
Pages: 331 | ASIN: B071G89PBW
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Everyone must face their individual journey of life alone no matter the support system, or lack thereof. We have the opportunity to continue improving ourselves for a better future surrounded with love and happiness, even if many take what they currently possess for granted. In Just Another Girl’s Story, author Laura Eckert allows her readers to follow her as she goes through her ups and downs of life in her perspective. There are many things she’s experienced that could make someone judge, but the point of her sharing her life is what many can use as a testimony that life can get better. Through her eyes, we gain the understanding that we should not let our decisions define who we are destined to become. The most challenging part is embracing flaws, accepting the consequences, and learning from them.
There were plenty of emotions invoked through Laura’s writing style. While reading, there were times that had me shaking my head in bewilderment because of instances when she knew she was doing something wrong, yet continued doing so. One thing that stood out despite all of the obstacles occurring in her life, is maintaining her relationship with God, that shows pure dedication. She did her absolute best at staying true to her faith even after moments she wanted to throw in the towel. Laura’s story is inspirational to everyone, especially women. It’s a story that shows you that it is okay not to be perfect, as long as you want to be a better version of you.
I understood how she felt, although I don’t fully understand her reasoning to make certain decisions. I know that the heart cannot help who it loves and sometimes you just have to respect that as the case. It’s amazing to learn about everything she’s been through from a young age to continue going despite her odds. The wonderful experiences led to her having a beautiful family that is centered around God, full of more happiness than frowns, and built on a sturdy foundation. I truly enjoyed reading this book and seeing the life that this woman had, it inspires me to keep reaching for a better life for myself. I highly recommend this book to everyone, it’s a great story that could be relatable to most people in the world who are going through a rough patch, to know that in time it will get better.
Pages: 242 | ASIN: B0737V5JJY
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Alice Guy Blaché was a pioneer of her trade with so many accomplishments, feats you could look up and applaud through history. Written fictitiously from the point of view of Alice herself, Mademoiselle Alice tells an intimate and redolent tale, painting Alice in the most relatable way. The reader has a chance to experience through Alice the era she lived in beautiful detail, alongside the relationships that added such color to her life. One, the romance between herself and the renowned Gustave Eiffel himself. Eiffel has no interest in love and yet develops a strong romantic tie with Alice. Their relationship is a cornerstone of Alice’s life and even as she moves on, it reflects throughout her work and pursuits to follow.
Mademoiselle Alice was a powerful and moving story. I applaud Janelle Dietrick and her dedication to bringing Alice Guy Blaché off the dusty pages of history and into present mind. The amount of research alone is worth its own accolade, and Dietrick chose to deliver beyond just that, combining the scholar and the storyteller to create a wonderful recollection of the life of Alice.
One factor that truly stood out to me as a reader, was Dietrick’s innate skill of drawing one in to the many emotions of Alice’s tale. From the budding and fleshed out romance between Eiffel and Alice, her apprehension and excitement when building her own studio, to her joys throughout her journey of motherhood. I found myself feeling the same as Alice and I continued further through her recollection and telling of her own life. Dietrick used the first-person narrative in a masterful and gripping manner, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the personality of Alice and her intriguing mind.
Usually, I find myself caught up in some novelists writing style; their sentence structure and syntax. I can honestly say that Dietrick writes such an enriching and powerful story. The writing style flows well. I can’t recall any particular moment while reading where I found myself jarred out of the story as I often have with other writers. There was a well weighted balance of descriptive setting, dialogue, interaction, and historical detail that kept me immersed and entertained.
I have a strong affinity for historical fiction but such does not negate that Mademoiselle Alice: A Novel stands up for itself as a wonderfully well written and fun review of the life of Alice Guy Blaché. You can tell that Janelle Dietrick takes pride in not only her work, but in the dedication to presenting the important role Alice has played in history. Her writing compels the reader to appreciate such without the dryness or brevity of a history book. She breathes life in to Alice, allowing the reader to really appreciate her as a relatable person.
Pages: 369 | ASIN: B074MB6QTH
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H.A.L.F. Origins follows Tex and Erika while they’re running for their lives against a deadly alien virus that is spawning an epidemic around the globe. What was the inspiration behind this idea and how did it develop as you were writing?
The idea of an alien virus was part of the H.A.L.F. storyline from the very beginning of my planning back in 2010/2011. But I planned that the Conexus (the “aliens” behind the virus) wanted to wipe out humans so they could take over the planet. That idea changed a bit when I had the later idea of introducing the M’Uktah, predator aliens from across the galaxy. The addition of the M’Uktah altered how the virus would be used. In general, as I developed the story, I kept looking for ways to make life more and more difficult for my characters! So in book three they are beset with the obstacle of both a virulent virus and alien predators trying to devour the population.
The story is fast paced and throws readers into the deep end of the action. How do you balance action with storytelling to create such a captivating novel?
Novels have lots of “moving parts” and finding balance between the elements is perhaps the greatest challenge. Action, character development, setting, plot, pacing, theme, dialogue, character arc–these and more are all part of the process. Having a fabulous content development editor helps a lot. Alyssa at Red Adept Editing has provided early feedback on all of the H.A.L.F. novels. She is great at helping me see ways to improve pacing, etc. Some of it though is intuitive, but intuition seems to improve with more writing experience. 😉
I enjoyed watching Tex and Erika’s relationship grow throughout the story. Was there story organic or did you plan it in advance?
I did not originally plan for Tex and Erika to end up together. When I wrote book one, I assumed that Erika would end up with Jack and that Tex as their relationship “complication.” But that’s now how it ended up and so yes, what transpires between Erika and Tex was organic. Writing their relationship was the most satisfying part of the writing process of this series.
This is book 3 in the H.A.L.F. series. Are you moving on to other stories or are you going to continue to develop this universe you’ve created?
I am finished with the H.A.L.F. stories and do not intend to write more about Tex or Erika (or Jack and Anna). I’m currently focused on development of an entirely new project that will be epic fantasy.
I may, however, write some shorts or perhaps a serialized story set on the planet of Uktah, the world of the alien predators from the H.A.L.F. series. There has also been interest by screen writers and producers in developing H.A.L.F. for television, so I’ll be working on that as well in the coming months. H.A.L.F. may show up on the small screen some day. 🙂
And I’m introducing a new writing challenge for the writing community called PENuary that will debut January, 2018. Inspired by Inktober, I’ll be writing a minimum of 20 minutes per day from a one-word writing prompt for each of the 31 days of January. I’m inviting other writers of all skill levels to join in this endeavor. You can read more about it here. I’m hoping that I end up with 2-3 cool ideas out of the 31 day challenge.
A deadly alien virus spawns an epidemic. Predators attack Europe. And a clandestine organization conspires to profit from chaos and forge a New World Order.
In this heart-pounding finale of the award-winning H.A.L.F. series, Tex, Erika and the rest are in a race against time. They fought for their lives. Now they battle to save our species.
Tex and Erika are fugitives and running for their lives. But when Tex falls gravely ill, a Navajo healer is his only hope for survival. Tex emerges from the ordeal changed in body and mind and with vital information: how to stop the predatory M’Uktah from overtaking the human population and destroying those he has come to love.
Erika Holt seeks a respite from the constant threats to her life but she’s not about to give up. As she and Tex launch a mission to shut down the intra-galactic highway used by invaders who prey on humans, she grows closer to her troubled half-human companion. But what about her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jack?
Jack Wilson, with his friend Anna Sturgis, is on a mission of his own. He’s determined to destroy The Makers, an illuminati-like organization behind the H.A.L.F. program. It’s time to put an end to their schemes for world domination. Complicating matters, an anti-viral that could save millions from an alien virus has been stolen. As both alien and human forces line up against them, the destiny of all mankind is hand the hands of these young warriors. And time is running out.
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Walking Over Eggshells: Surviving Mental Abuse by Lucinda Clarke is an autobiography where she has changed all the names to protect the innocent and guilty. The novel is about Lucinda’s life and how she survived growing up and living with mental abuse. Lucinda’s mom had narcissistic personality disorder, and this impacted her entire life. She uses this novel to show that despite growing up with this abuse she still lived a life full of adventure, had a family and eventually had a successful career. You will laugh at some of the stories, cry at others, and be outright shocked by many and wonder how this girl survived to write this. Through it all Lucinda was able to grow and keep up with the times, she was born in the 1950’s and has had to adapt with a drastically changing society while continuing to endure the mental abuse of her mother at every turn even into her adult years.
The beginning chapters of the book tell of how Lucinda’s parents met and the eventual death of her father when she was only two. From there we are introduced to the never-ending criticism, punishments, and agony that Lucinda as a child endured. It is heartbreaking reading her words begging for a cuddle or a word of love and compassion from the women that called herself her mother. As a teen, the typical back and forth arguments continued, the younger generation is ungrateful, they need to do their part, so selfish, these are common themes even today we hear about the millennials. With Lucinda though, it is deeper, her mother really did expect her to do everything for her, and even when she did it was never good enough. The emotional struggle and need for love and acceptance is one that many readers can relate to, those that live with constant mental abuse will relate to Lucinda and see how she coped with the abuse while understanding why she continues to have a relationship with her mother.
Once Lucinda meets and marries Jeremy her life adventures take off. They never stay in one place long, always moving from one job to the next, involving everything from traveling encyclopedia sales to sketchy engineering jobs in South Africa. In a way Lucinda traded one form of abuse for another, she loves Jeremy but he takes advantage of her and plays on her need to be loved. This is the part of the story where you read and think ‘is this real?’ how can one person put up with so much? That, I think, is the real story behind this book. You can survive though mental abuse even when that abuse spans the majority of your life.
Throughout the book, Lucinda finds a way to make the best of her situation. She is willing to work be it animal breeding, filling, cleaning hotel rooms or writing. She never gave up no matter where she lived or what was going on with her and Jeremy, or her children, or her mother, she pushed forward and didn’t just survive the abuse, she made something of her life that she is proud of and even enjoyed at times. It is emotional, and at times hard to read; but Lucinda will make you believe anything is possible to overcome with the right mindset.
Pages: 239 | ASIN: B00E8HSNDW
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I really enjoyed the depth of your two female lead characters. How do you continue to develop your characters throughout your series?
Each character must deal with both personal and external conflicts that shape them as individuals. In the fourth and final book of the Beyond Saga, Beyond Existence, Maya must find a way to regain her optimism in the face of the losses she’s suffered and despite the occupation of human space by a group of powerful aliens.
I really enjoy David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. Have you read those books? Those books also have a strong female lead. Are there any books that serve as inspiration for your writing?
I’ve read book one, On Basilisk Station. It was good, and it’s flattering that my writing sometimes gets compared to Weber’s. Like Honor, Brooke and Maya are strong female leads. But I came up with Beyond Cloud Nine prior to reading On Basilisk Station, so I can’t say I have too heavily influenced by it.
Collectively, I’ve been influenced by many different books, shows, movies, and video games. I’ve listed some of them on this page: https://www.gregspry.com/influences.php. On the background page for each of my books’ web sites, you can read about what influenced the creation of that particular book.
Here’s a link to the BC9 background page: https://www.beyondcloudnine.com/Background.aspx.
Where does the Beyond Saga takes it characters in the next book and how do you see the story evolving in the future?
The fourth and final book in the series, Beyond Existence, takes everything that’s happened in the first three books and weaves it all together. The aliens that Maya encountered in the past in book three conquer human civilization in a manner reminiscent of Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. Maya must travel to different time periods and alternate universes to figure out a way to end the occupation by an alien race so advanced that they’re practically gods compared to humans.
My next book series will be set in the distant future in an alternate universe and different galaxy and will only loosely relate back to the Beyond Saga.
After years of pushing the boundaries of interstellar spaceflight, Commander Maya Davis is ecstatic when she is promoted to captain. But her enthusiasm wanes when she discovers that her new assignment is a one-way mission.
After taking command of the space-time vessel Yesterday, Maya must travel back in time to discover how and why a piece of 23rd century technology appeared 200,000 years earlier. It’s an exciting opportunity–except for the one-way aspect. The best minds of her time say it’s impossible to return to the present.
Trapped in the distant past, Maya must choose between a peace that could condemn humanity to perpetual slavery, or a fight for freedom that involves deception, rebellion, and mass murder. Whatever she decides, her actions may very well erase an entire civilization from history.
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