Madam Vice President by Julian Mann is an exciting story about Victoria Pierce, a very ambitious girl who flees her home in Oklahoma, escaping her strict parents, and moves to San Francisco where she enlists in the United States Marine Corps. She is very patient and determined, persevering and works her way up the ranks till she becomes the Brigadier General.
She gets into a dreaded love affair with the United States Senator Sam Eagan throughout her career development phase and they manage to keep it a rendezvous from everyone except one anonymous stalker. She goes ahead and joins politics where she befriends Grace Brandon who gets suspicious of Victoria’s past and poses a threat that could change Victoria’s future in politics when she is elected president.
Author Julian Mann bases this riveting story on real-life situations that are based on a real 25th amendment law that raised his concern. He uses his writing to connect with a larger audience and the vivid way the story is written makes it more relatable to readers. The flow of events creates suspense at the end of each chapter; this made it very hard for me to pick a place to set the book down. The story is filled with rich, believable, dialogue that feels engaging throughout this novel; which is important because this is a character focused drama.
The fact that the author has managed to write the book in an agrarian setting and still bring out women empowerment throughout the growth of Victoria’s career increases the book’s appeal (at least to me it does) and is a role model for strong female protagonists.
The friendship between Victoria and Grace would have been a good one if not for Grace’s envy which sparks curiosity, raising eyebrows that make her poke into Victoria’s past. Despite the bad decisions she made, the young Vera Ochman still fights against all odds to become successful.
Madam Vice President by Julian Mann has a seemingly endless flow of intriguing events that ratchets up the suspense in this dramatic political fiction novel. I think this novel will appeal to anyone looking for an engrossing political thriller that knows how to build compelling characters.
Pages: 297 | ASIN: B08TK9GM3H
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Deadly Invisible Enemies (Hunt for Evil) by Harold Lea Brown is the second book in the series. We continue to follow Kevin Albright who continues to fight a war against cybercrimes which led to the murder of his wife and son on their tenth wedding anniversary. He is now more than ever determined to catch his wife’s killers and while at it take down Big D who is hell-bent on killing him. His anger, guilt, and determination together with his intelligence are what give him an advantage over his enemies. The comparison he constantly makes between his late wife and co-worker is what helps him numb some of the pain of his loss and a bond between them grows.
Harold Lea Brown continues to show his unbeatable storytelling prowess as he smoothly connects the cliffhanger of book one with book two, clearing the suspense of Kevin’s death which had been faked by Kevin himself. Hunt for Evil has a fast pace compared to the first book with a quick succession of events within the plot. The mystery in this book is not any less than it is in the first book. Grief has been widely portrayed in the book as Kevin still hasn’t forgiven himself for what happened to his young family. He is filled with pain and rage and the same time. I love how Harold gets into Kevin’s mind making the reader feel connected to the character’s emotions and dilemma. Widely used dialogue within the book helps readers feel connected and involved in the story. The whole book is filled with mystery and sudden turn of events that keep the reader wanting more.
Hunt for Evil is a fast-paced turn cyberpunk thriller that possesses good character development and takes the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions. This is a suspenseful continuation of Harold Lea Brown’s Deadly Invisible Enemies technothriller series.
Pages: 212 | ASIN: B00P9RVEIG
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Grotto of Chaos follows a group of friends who disappear into a world like none could have dreamed and set out on a wild adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I remember visiting Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. Located there is the Marvel Cave which is said to be the 3rd largest cave system in North America. How it was discovered was a young Osage tribe member was running through the woods when he fell through a sinkhole into the earth several hundred feet. I could only imagine what was going through his mind. He must have thought that he was being swallowed up into some unknown world. It made me think of what would happen to my characters if they did the same but slide even further. And then I thought, what if nature evened the odds by providing a bioluminescent light for them? Could five young teens and a dog escape from such a deep pocket in the Earth while being hunted by unworldly creatures trying to catch them?
Clarence and his friends were all interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
The kids in the book are like my offspring. They have many of my own traits as well as characteristics of people that are close to me. For example, we can take my character, Rasheed. One of his skills is that he is a sword fencer who dreams of one day being in the Olympics. I myself have been a fencer and did actually try out for the Olympics. Olivia is a dancer and martial artist. I too, have spent many years studying various martial arts, and my mother and daughters were dancers. Even the main protagonist, Clarence, was named after my fraternal grandfather, who passed away from brain cancer when I was very young. My grandfather Clarence was said to have been full of so much ingenuity, which you can see in Clarence in the book. Even the ethnic diversity of the circle of friends is based on people who have been very close to me throughout my life. So much of my own essence and the attributes of my loved ones are embedded into my characters. So for me, my characters are very personal, as if I have put part of my soul into this story.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
From start to finish, there is a lot of action in this story. But that does not mean that there is little dialog either. While the kids are being thrown into constant danger, they are constantly communicating to combine their efforts and skills to work their way out of trouble. Sometimes Clarence may rely on memories of the past to help the situation at hand. Aside from the characters, world-building was very important. Many mythological creatures are encountered, but also, a lot of science is embedded into this universe for believability. Creatures such as krakens and ghost might show up in only fiction, but the fact that you really don’t know what you would find miles into the earth, also make it feasible. According to many theories related to quantum physics, since there is an infinite number of universes, these creatures actually exist. Since the gang finds themselves in a system with somewhat of a Mandela Effect, that is where worlds collide, then all things are possible.
This is book one in The Exploits of Clarence Griffin series. What can readers expect in book two?
Without any spoilers, for those who have finished book one, we know that Clarence and his companions do not get out of this story unscathed and without debts. In book two, he will be asked to pay back that debt, thereby facing many more perils. The gang will need to stick together more than ever, and increasingly sharpen their skills for what lies ahead. Book two will also introduce new characters and foes, many of which are like none other ever featured in literature before.
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Killing Time: Physics, Lust, and Greed is a well woven tale of one man, already at the end of his life, who is given the opportunity to go back in time and right certain wrongs. I’m not going to give away major plot points, but this is a double edged sword. Readers explore the risk vs reward of going back to an early point and changing the timeline in this gripping science fiction story. Implications of repercussions hover over the main character, Sean, as he struggles with fixing his biggest regret.
Killing Time: Physics, Lust, and Greed has an eye catching cover and a story line that is as surreal and intriguing as the cover art suggests. Murphey manages to keep his characters grounded and, while the idea of time travel is mainly science fiction at this point, he breaks the subject matter down to help readers stay in the flow of the story.
One aspect that particularly interested me was how the story is heavily character driven. Murphey’s writing style is easy and flows well. Time travel is a genre in itself at this pooint, but Mike Murphey is able to inject some new ideas and perspectives, sewn together by fascinating characters, that make the time travel concept feel fresh. The book does bounce back and forth quite a bit and can be confusing to follow in the first part, but once you establish a rhythm and start to understand the motivations of the characters and how their stories overlap you are in for a thoroughly enjoyable read. This is book three in the Physics, Lust and Greed series and no steam is lost. I’m starting to think that lumping physics in with the two other seven deadly sins, lust and greed, was intentional.
I have come to be familiar with Mike Murphey’s work and expect solid writing, but with Killing Time we also get an imaginative storyline with compelling characters propelling this science fiction adventure story forward.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B08XJZL84B
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The Martian Hermitage is another entry in your Master Defiance series, and makes you a prolific science fiction writer. What draws you to the science fiction genre and makes it perfect for you to write in?
The boundaries when writing Science Fiction are mostly ethical paradigms, and one must be careful not to cross into the impossible world of magic and fantasy. The genre allows speculation about the future of science, technology and humanity. It also provides, by extension, a vehicle for indirectly flagging issues and concerns in our present-day world. In other words, an author can lobby a bit for change so that, for instance, a dystopian outcome might be less likely to occur. But this must be done without preaching to readers. I think the best way to do that is to make darn sure the story is fun and interesting to read, with lots of twists and turns, and believable, mostly likeable, characters.
The science in your stories always feel fanciful yet grounded. What type of research do you undertake for your novels to have an authentic feel?
I mostly search the web when I am uncertain about science or technology that I think would help a story. For instance, for Martian Hermitage, I thought the banter between astronauts when they fire up rocket engines would be illuminating and entertaining. I leaned heavily on Apollo mission transcripts for that. But I also find I research a lot of non-technical matters that I believe will make a story more colourful and intellectually entertaining. For example, for Martian Hermitage, I took some inspiration from the sci-fi classic A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr., 1959). I thought it would be fun to put knowledge-hoarding monks back into space, and weave a symbiotic relationship between church and state into my story. This required learning a bit about Catholicism, monasteries, and the canonization of saints. All of that I found fascinating, which made the writing process more rewarding. I hope it works for the reader too. (I think it worked for Miller, but he may have over-used Latin… most people will need some kind of translating app to really appreciate his one and only novel).
This book is filled with very memorable scenes. What scene did you have the most fun writing?
I really enjoyed writing the chapter where the Promoter of the Faith (a.k.a. the Devil’s Advocate) interviews the alien, artificial intelligence entity that was discovered in an alien, artificial cave on Mars. The young priest is a Doubting Thomas, and wants to find evidence that a candidate for sainthood was in fact unworthy. But the AI entity responds to the priest’s overly-aggressive interrogation methods by playing an astounding video and audio recording of the candidate from the time of the Romans. As a result, the advocate’s horns completely disappear, and the priest is transformed into a true believer, and a much happier person.
When and where will The Martian Hermitage be available?
Pegasus just told me the book will be published on April 29, 2021. You can buy it in paperback form directly through:
It will also be available on Amazon (with my other books) in both paperback and ebook formats. Just search on my name to find it.
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Veterans of the Psychic Wars follows a normal guy with an unknown past who must face danger in uncharted space to rescue his wife and end the Second Psychic War. How did the idea for this novel start and change as you wrote?
It began with a conversation I had with my mother many years ago. We discussed the state of the world, and I mentioned feeling as if I didn’t belong. I said that I felt as if I was an alien. And, without skipping a beat, my mother replied, “You are an alien.”
We laughed but, long after the conversation, I considered the implications of such a thing being true. I imagined a scenario where a young man grew up not realising who he was. Writing the story, I had to consider what would drive someone to leave everything they knew behind to face untold dangers.
As the characters developed, they began to dictate the story more and more. There have been times when events completely surprised me; this is especially true of a few deaths.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
Writing isn’t always easy. On my best day, I wrote 4,000 words. For me, that’s a lot. I wanted realism in the characters and authentic world-building. I studied history, and it remains a deep interest of mine. As such, the novel makes references to a great deal of historical information. There are names, words, and phrases from over 24 languages, including Swahili, Japanese, Armenian, Sanskrit and Ancient Egyptian.
The real challenge was to write a book that is enjoyable on different levels. Some of the contents are esoteric. I have an interest in philosophy, and there are also themes regarding the nature of reality. There are also ethical questions. It’s an epic story, designed to be read more than once.
This is a very exciting story that seems like it was fun to write. What scene was the most fun for you to write in this book?
It’s somewhat difficult to choose. However, one scene that never fails to make me laugh out loud is Chapter 75. I approached this chapter intending to write dark, morbid prose. However, it quickly developed into a classic and humorous illustration of pride coming before a fall.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available? Are you starting a series with this book?
I am currently writing Architects of the Psychic Wars, the sequel to Veterans of the Psychic Wars. This novel will also feature cameos of characters from Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest, set in the same universe.
Four years each was the average time for me to write my first two science fiction novels because of the amount of scientific, cultural, and historical research I draw from for each work. It’s not an easy process, and it’s difficult to say how long the current book will take to complete. I plan to write three books in the Psychic Wars series and three in the Kaya Abaniah series.
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Resistance, Revolution & Other Love Stories by K is a compilation of twelve romantic short stories ranging from fiction to futuristic sci-fi.
This extraordinary collection of stories takes us into the worlds of character, each with a completely different perspective on what love is and how to demonstrate it. These characters offer glimpses of what love means to different cultures around the world, written in a way that allows you to really meditate about life on a greater scale, as well as ponder on the importance of stolen glances, sacred touches and the smallest of details.
Each plot is a masterpiece in its own, with such compelling storylines that you are forced to follow them until the end, and to uncover the secret message hidden within. Some feature happy endings, others vague cliffhangers that will leave you yearning for more. Each story is written in a different setting, from London to Yugoslavia to Iraq, there is a never ending range of possibilities that will never leave you unsatisfied.
One of my favorite stories was “Head Down”. It’s about a married man who goes off on a business trip to take a couple of seminars. He meets Shannon, who completely transforms his view on what love should feel like. He struggles between succumbing to this new feeling of love and familiarity of staying true to his sense of duty for his current family. In the end both characters make a choice that will most likely impact the rest of their lives, and the reader is left guessing what will happen next. This story, as do the others, depict the complexities of love; which isn’t black and white as many people would have us believe. It navigates the intricate human connections which have the power to limit or free a person, depending on the nature and dynamic of the relationship.
Resistance, Revolution & Other Love Stories contains a wonderful compilation of stories with beautifully written worlds, relatable and real characters, and descriptive narration.
Pages: 183 | ASIN: B08NV1BT2K
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The Three Lives of Richie O’Malley follows a mob hitman who must come to terms with the death of his friend, a government investigation, and betrayal. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I knew a guy who was a CIA spook in the 60s and 70s. He introduced me to the world of American involvement in the cocaine trade in Central and South America during that time. It was not hard work to write a story following the money from this time and place to present day government entanglement at the highest levels. In many ways, sadly, this part of the story almost wrote itself.
Richie is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
As a young man, my best friend was this guy Hector Luis, a Puerto Rican Kid from the Bronx, NY. Luis was the model for Juan Carlos. I truly loved this guy as my brother. Luis came from a very bad environment and did some bad things, but he had a good soul. Many, most, didn’t see that. I was as bad a kid as Luis any day of the week, but as the clean-cut white guy, I got away with a lot more than Luis. I always thought that was unfair.
Under the hood I think we are all capable of good and evil, regardless of the label we are given. Richie, like Juan (Luis) were good guys who were swept into ruined lives by circumstance and bad choices. I guess my ideal, in this case, is to try to always not see people at face value. There is more to them than we can ever truly know or understand. There are few truly bad people, and we should not look too hard at others without first examining and knowing ourselves.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Friendship and loyalty were very important themes in this book and in my life. These and the old cliché don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The title is The Berry Pickers. There is an area a few miles north of me where in the 1920s to the 1950s people lived and subsisted picking and selling wild blueberries. A fascinating collection of personalities. I read a book on these people once and it was dry as toast. I’ve long been saddened that in the hands of someone like Steinbeck what a great story this could be, in line with the Grapes of Wrath. Sadly, Mr. Steinbeck never wrote this story, and while I don’t think myself worthy to sharpen his pencils, I thought I’d give it a go.
I am hoping to have the editing and writing process completed by mid-summer. I’d like to publish in the fall. I’ve still not decided if I’ll query agents or not. I had two agents very interested in Richie, but they said they couldn’t find a market for it. I know my stuff isn’t mainstream, no bare-chested vampires with wings, but that aint my jam. I just write what I think needs to be written and hope someone reads it.
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