Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Incitement by David Graham @DavidANGraham #JohnMurray #GoodReads #Thriller

Okay, she said to herself, take your time, it’s a good presentation, just let it speak for itself.
She signaled for the lights to be dimmed, then walked over to the projector screen and brought up the first slide.
A split screen with two photographs appeared. The left half showed a luxury speedboat, black and sleek in the water and at least thirty feet long. It was just possible to make out the two bodies in the cockpit. The other half of the screen showed a closer view. The first body had been raked with multiple gunshots to the torso, leaving it a blood-soaked mess, and the second, which lay half over the side of the boat, had its throat ripped open. The picture’s impact could be felt throughout the room.
“April nineteenth, last year. Rene Salazaar and one of his brothers. The boat was found by the Coast Guard. The coroner’s report estimated it’d been drifting for more than twenty-four hours before it was discovered. Salazaar’s other brother and two more associates are missing. We think they were on the boat and either conducted the attack themselves or were killed and dumped overboard. Given the length of time since their last sighting, we favor the latter theory. Next.”
The image of the carnage-strewn speedboat disappeared and was replaced by another. This picture, taken from the quayside, showed a dark cloud of smoke billowing from a half-submerged cargo ship about 50 meters from shore.
“September twelfth, the Mariner’s Friend sunk dockside in an explosion in Port of Spain. Maurice Jackson, one of the main drug traffickers in Trinidad and Tobago and some of his senior lieutenants were on board at the time. A substantial amount of cocaine and meta-amphetamines that we believe were on board and bound for the U.S. has yet to be located. Next.”
An aerial shot of the remains of a bombsite.
“February twenty-ninth this year, a major heroin refinery just outside the border town of Conchillo in Mexico. We believe the attack was perpetrated by a small team of well-trained, well-equipped hostiles. They killed the building’s security personnel and virtually obliterated its structure. Next.”
The image of the bloody room disappeared and was replaced by a picture of a large container ship in port. Nothing was obviously wrong and there were puzzled looks around the room.
“July fifteenth, the day before yesterday. The Spirit of Marseilles safely docked in Miami; there was no damage. Slight problem, though, for Rodolfo Dominguez, the largest wholesaler and distributor in the state since Salazaar’s demise. A wiretap yesterday recorded him ranting on his main telephone line. Very out-of-character for the normally reserved Dominguez, but the cause for his outburst soon became clear.”  Mesi turned off the overhead projector and signaled for the lights. “As well as the coffee that was on the ship’s manifest, there should have been 3,000-plus kilos of heroin on board. Someone boarded the ship and, in the middle of the night during a heavy storm, eliminated the cartel personnel on board and made off with the drugs.”
“That’s it. Four incidents in fewer than eighteen months. Each was a setback for the Madrigal-Zaragosa Alliance, and we have no idea who’s behind them. We don’t know if these are it, or if they’re only part of a larger picture. What we’ve seen is enough to be of major concern, but if there were more ….”
The attendees considered what they had seen and Mesi’s closing remark. There was a lot to take in, and she sensed that people were still trying to get their bearings.
Allenby was the first to assemble his thoughts. “You’re obviously making a connection between these events but … couldn’t they be a string of unrelated incidents?”
Mesi waited to see if Marshall wanted to take the question, but he gestured for her to address it. “My team monitors cartel activity, trying to identify new trends or strategies as early as possible. We try to discern what way the power structures are changing and then use that to predict future developments. By definition, we’re particularly interested in anything out of the ordinary. What you’ve just seen qualifies.”
“I’d have thought in this environment, where violent criminals and enormous sums of money are not unusual, these episodes would be quite commonplace?” he remarked.
“There’s more order here than you might think. Most of it appears to be down to Luis Madrigal, whom I’m sure you’re all familiar with. He’s worked tirelessly to foster an atmosphere of stability among the various South and Central American cartels. Up to a few years ago, the Colombians and Mexicans particularly had gone their separate ways. Most of that division was as a result of the Mexicans bypassing the main Colombian cartels as a source of cocaine and of their success in fostering their own indigenous heroin industry. Madrigal completely reversed this pattern by proving how everyone could benefit from cooperation.”
“Just in case anyone here doesn’t quite appreciate the breadth of Madrigal’s organization,” Marshall added, “the Alliance he formed with Esteban Zaragosa now comprises groups from more than ten countries. A consequence of his work has been the reduction in occurrence of events like those you’ve just seen.”
“Still, there’s quite a long time frame involved here, doesn’t that reduce the likelihood of them being connected?” Allenby asked.
“I’d have to disagree with you there, sir,” Mesi inwardly cursed herself for phrasing it so bluntly. “A little more than a year in this context really isn’t that long. Besides, there are too many common hallmarks to ignore the possibility that some of these are connected. If you consider the excellent intelligence regarding where and when to strike, the precision in their execution and ….”
She hesitated.
“Go on,” Marshall said.
“Perhaps most worryingly of all, as far as we can determine through all of our informants and wiretaps, none of the increasingly larger quantities of drugs involved appear to have surfaced again. Ever.”
The last statement caused Dan Schutterop from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Coordination Office to look up quickly from his folder. “If there were more incidents, say even ten more on a similar scale, and the drugs and the drugs involved were taken out of circulation, what would be the cumulative effect within the U.S.?”
This was the question she’d been dreading.
“Well, fifteen more such episodes in total could be enough to affect availability.” She knew immediately her attempted vagueness would do no good.
“And how’d that impact prices?” Schutterop pressed.
“They’d probably be pushed up.”
“So, enough incidents could result in a drop in the availability of drugs and a general rise in prices, like what’s been reported recently?” Schutterop persisted.
“It’s possible.”
She could feel the mood of the room changing. Some of the attendees would be delighted with what they were hearing, while others would be worried. Quite a few people had gone on the record as saying that little or no bottom-line impact should be expected from Plan Coca. As the Plan’s successes had appeared to mount, the opinions of these critics had grown in influence to the point where some people’s reputations and possibly their positions might be in jeopardy. But if there were a variable of this magnitude at play, then the apparently erroneous predictions could be mitigated, maybe even vindicated.
“Why are we only hearing about this now, if it’s something Agent Mesi contends has been brewing for more than a year?” asked Allenby angrily.
She tried to think of something to say that might defuse the atmosphere, but before she could reply, Arthur Marshall responded, “Diane voiced her concerns to me shortly after the Mexican incident, once she thought she’d spotted a pattern, but I thought it was too early to jump to conclusions.”
“So, do you agree there’s a connection, Arthur?” Allenby asked.
Everyone waited for Marshall’s answer. Mesi had no idea what he would say as the seconds stretched.
“No. No, I don’t think they’re connected. While there are similarities in the attacks, as Diane says, there are also aspects which differ. The drugs dropping out of circulation? Well, that’s also debatable.”
Mesi could have offered further basis for her assertion on this point, but given the mood of the room, she kept silent and quietly made her way back to her seat.
“So what, you called us all in here because you don’t believe there’s a connection?” Schutterop asked.
“I think it’s important to keep an open mind. Regardless of whether these events are related, attacks of this magnitude have implications for everyone in this room in one way or another. We’ve been criticized in the past for not sharing information, so that’s what we’re doing.”
“I appreciate that, Arthur. Apologies, but I’m under some time pressure,” said a smiling Allenby as he stood up.
“Okay, that’s fine. We’ll keep you all updated,” Marshall said, signaling an end to the meeting.
Mesi could see that one or two others might have liked to pursue the conversation further, but after a moment they, too, stood to leave.

A brutal conflict unleashed.
Who stands to win?
A bloody massacre at a Mexican heroin refinery; a Miami-bound freight ship hijacked for its cargo of illegal narcotics; the ruthless assassination of a Kosovar drug lord – a war has erupted between two drugs superpowers.
As DEA Agent Diane Mesi investigates she becomes convinced that the conflict is being orchestrated by an unknown third party. But she is marginalised by her colleagues and her judgement is challenged at every turn. Only if she can expose the truth will she be able to stop the violence and save her career.
Michael Larsen is an ex-soldier and hired mercenary who has been contracted to fuel the conflict at every opportunity until it destroys both sides. As he battles his own demons, he hopes that by directing the violence he will attain some measure of redemption.
But neither Mesi nor Larsen know the full extent of the forces at play or of what is truly at stake. As they each pursue their own resolution, the violence escalates and they become increasingly vulnerable to the dangers that stalk them.
Incitement won the John Murray Show / RTE Guide / Kazoo Competition from over 500 entries.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Leveling Up by @JR_Tague #GoodReads #YA #Fiction

From Chapter 1-
The electricity ran its course around my body in a matter of seconds, knocking me flat on my back and stopping my heart. And when my heart stopped, everything stopped. Movement and sound ceased. Darkness surrounded me. That enormous pain I’d felt in the seconds before? Gone.
I have no idea how long I floated there in the void; suddenly, time had no meaning. Space felt close and claustrophobic, and yet, at the same time, vast and infinite. It was totally weird.
A soft whisper of light formed off in the distance.
Then it started moving and growing, as the darkness was filled with a low, calm voice coming from all directions. It was a voice impossible to match to a face, to a gender, to a human even. It was not rough, but not gentle either.
“Max. You have arrived,” it said.
I suddenly remembered my dad saying something like that when I was a baby. How had I ever forgotten the way I was propelled from the womb into a shocking world of sensations—everything so loud and cold and bright? How awesome I felt learning how to scream and yell, how snug and safe it was in my mother’s arms. How stupid and endearing my dad looked making faces at me. My brand new brain cells had computed like crazy, trying to orient me to this new world. And now, entering this complete void was the same kind of shock, but in reverse. Everything taken away. Confusion reigned.
Yet I was able to detach myself from any fear or horror at being flung into this place. For a while I was able to watch it all as if it were happening on my computer monitor, to some soulless avatar.
But where was my quest master?
“Where am I?” I asked, hoping with everything I had that the voice would answer me.
“You are in-between,” the voice answered.
“That’s super informative,” I said under my breath.
The shape ahead of me stopped its advance. It glowed brighter momentarily, and then dimmed.
“Who are you?” My voice sounded strange to me. Unreal.
A pause. Then: “I am called by many names: Nergal, Anubis, Hades, Pluto, the Grim Reaper—”
“Holy crap, you’re death?” Anxiety washed over me.
It replied, “Death is a concept bigger than any individual. One cannot be death.”
“Well then, who…what are you?”
The light flickered rapidly. “I am an agent of death. I carry out the necessary procedures once a soul has entered this realm.”
“Like a death god?” I’d read comic books about such beings. I liked them better in 2-D.
“Death god? Hmm.” The light shape moved faster, sending out bright tendrils that quivered in the darkness before taking form. I waited, transfixed by the scene in front of me. “I will be a death god to you.”
A silhouette emerged from the darkness, still forming and evolving before my eyes. When it spoke again the voice was no longer in surround-sound, but emanated from a distinct point in space. It sounded more…human.
“There we go. How do I look?” A man lowered the hood of his long, black robe. A faint glow remained, outlining his body and casting reflected light between us.

Max McKay gets a second chance at life when, after a bizarre accident on his sixteenth birthday, he is reanimated as a new breed of thinking, feeling zombie. To secure a spot for his eternal soul, Max must use his video game prowess as well as the guidance of Steve the Death God to make friends and grow up. As if all that weren’t hard enough, Max discovers that he’s not the only zombie in town. As he enlists the help of his new friends, Adam and Penny, to solve the mystery of their un-dead classmate, Max discovers that he must level up his life experience in order to survive the trials and terrors of the upcoming zombie apocalypse. And, even worse, high school.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – YA
Rating – PG
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@GeorgiaLeCarre on What Makes Her Happiest #AmWriting #AmReading #Romance

What makes you happiest?
I know I should say when my dog puts his head on my lap, but the truth is when my bank account looks healthy and all my bills are paid, and I can get on with the delicious business of enjoying my dog putting his head on my lap.
What’s your greatest character strength?
I haven’t truly tested it, so don’t quote me if it ever proves otherwise, but I think I’m a forgiving person.
What’s your weakest character trait?
Bone-lazy tendencies.
Why do you write?
Because it is miles easier than working in slaughter house or a chicken farm.
Have you always enjoyed writing?
No, I never thought of being an author.  I consumed a lot of other people’s words and one day I guess, it just spilled out onto some paper.
What motivates you to write?
I have a story to tell.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
Strangely I am most proud of the time I shelled an old brown coconut.  I was twelve years old and I sat on a little wooden stool with a large knife and hacked away until all of the husk was gone.  By the time I finished I was sweating, my hands were raw, but I never forgot the feeling that I did not give up.  I finished the job.
What books did you love growing up?
Children’s adventure stories and then romance, of course.  Ah, the books I devoured!
Who is your favorite author?
Cormac McCarthy
What book genre of books do you adore?
There is no set genre that I particularly gravitate towards.  My reading taste is varied and I like it like that.
What book should everybody read at least once?
There is no book that is perfect for everybody.  We each find the book that is perfect for our own journeys.

Beyond the seductive power of immense wealth lies… Dark Secrets
Devastatingly handsome billionaire, Blake Law Barrington was Lana Blooms first and only love. From the moment they touched his power was overwhelming. Their arrangement quickly developed into a passionate romance that captivated her heart and took her on an incredible sexual journey she never wanted to end.
The future together looked bright until Lana made a terrible mistake. So, she did the only thing she could… she ran.
Away from her incredible life, away from the man of her dreams, but she should have known a man such as Blake Law Barrington was impossible to escape. Now, he’s back in her life and determined that she should taste the bitterness of his pain.
Shocked at how rough the sex has become and humiliated that she is actually participating so willingly in her punishment, she despairs if she will ever feel the warmth of his touch–the solidity of his trust again? And even if she can win his trust, loyalties are yet to be decided, and secrets to be revealed–secrets that will test them both to their limits.
Will Lana be able to tear down the walls that surround Blake’s heart, and break him free of the brutal power of immense wealth?
Can Blake hold on to Lana’s heart when she discovers the enormity of the dark secrets that inhabit the Barrington family?
Lana has always believed that love conquers all. She is about to test that belief…
Buy @ Amazon
Genre – Erotic Romance
Rating – PG-18
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writing by the Seat of Will North's Pants @WillNorthAuthor #Women #Fiction #MustRead

I’m in the middle of writing my nineteenth book. It’s also my fifth novel. I switched to fiction late in my writing career.
Before that, and for many years, I was a nonfiction ghostwriter on a wide array of subjects, and for a colorful collection of clients who included Bill Clinton, Al Gore, a team of history-making mountaineers, a famous doctor, a “green living” pioneer, a young group of paleontologists who found the largest dinosaur in history, and any number of others.  What I loved about being a ghostwriter was that the challenge was always new, and typically on a subject I knew relatively little about (Dinosaurs? They’re still dead, right? Where’s the story in that?).
What I didn’t love was that all my clients were always in a hurry: there was an election to win, or there was a film being made, or there was a PBS television program to be broadcast for which we need the matching book, and so forth.  I seldom had more than three months to produce the final product. Think about that. Think about the number of chapters in an average book. Then, think about the number of weeks in three months and how many chapters you need to write in those weeks. Not to mention the research needed to write them. And finally, figure in no time for rewrites.
Like impending death, this sort of task focuses the mind marvelously and generates entire reservoirs of adrenalin.  I wrote ten to twelve hours a day, seven days a week.
By the seat of my pants.
Other than arriving at a clear sense of the arc of the story, I did not outline, although I kept a scribbled list of the order of subjects in each chapter on butcher paper on the wall by my desk, as I wrote them.  Any good creative writing professor will tell you this is nuts. But it worked for me. And for my clients and publishers. My first drafts went direct to print. Please understand: I am not bragging; I just didn’t know any better! Or any different.
When I finally turned to fiction, I still didn’t know any better.  My first novel, The Long Walk Home, exploded out of me in the usual three months, without an outline. It was sold to a major New York “legacy” publisher in ten days. Then I decided, since I knew nothing about writing fiction, that perhaps I’d better look into how to do it. I discovered that many novelists outline their stories in detail before they even begin writing.  It tried that for a couple of weeks with my second novel and gave up. It felt like being in a straightjacket.
And this is where I get to tell you about the magic of NOT outlining.  When I begin a novel, I usually only have three things in my head: a setting, a couple of characters, and some underlying theme I want to explore. That’s it.  So picture this for a moment:  I’m writing page three of the very first chapter of my second novel, Water, Stone, Heart, when—out of the blue—an eight year old girl, smart as a whip, shows up on the page. I look around my office and in my head I’m saying, “Where the hell did YOU come from? What are you doing in my story?” And then she proceeds to effectively take over the book. I am not kidding.
That’s “seat of the pants.”  That’s being open to magic, to surprise.  I often tell readers I don’t so much write as take dictation from my (often very bossy) characters.  I’m not really in the driver’s seat. They are.  I can see them look at the outline on the wall by my desk and just hoot in derision, “No way, Dude!”
“Seat of the Pants” works for me, and every day is a surprise.

Every summer for generations, three families intertwined by history, marriage, and career have spent “the season” at their beach cottage compounds on an island in Puget Sound. Today, Martha “Pete” Petersen, married to Tyler Strong, is the lynchpin of the “summer people.” In childhood, she was the tomboy every girl wanted to emulate and is now the mother everyone admires.
Colin Ryan, family friend and the island’s veterinarian, met Pete first in London, years earlier, when she visited his roommate, Tyler. He’s loved her, privately, ever since. Born in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, son of a bar owner, he’s always been dazzled by what he sees of the sun-kissed lives of the summer people.
But this summer, currents strong as the tides roil: jealousies grow, tempers flare, passions clash. Then, on the last day of the season, a series of betrayals alters the combined histories of these families forever.
As in previous novels, The Long Walk Home and Water, Stone, Heart, with Seasons’ End, Will North weaves vivid settings and memorable characters into a compelling tale of romance and suspense.
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Genre – Women’s Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Piles of Scribbling & More from the Mind of Belinda Garcia @MagicProse (#Suspense #Romance)

My mind is like my office, cluttered with creativity. On one wall are two sets of book shelves sweeping the ceiling. A few of the shelves are filled with papers scribbled with writing for various books that will one day be written. There is one shelf reserved for notebooks where each notebook contains notes or writing for a particular book. I have piles of notes on the table next to me. These piles are for my current book I’m working on and for my next book.
I believe the mind has more than one subconscious. My theory is that the brain has a layer of them and I have a subconscious for each book I plan to write or have partially written. For me, writer’s block doesn’t exist. If I get stuck, I simply forget about it, knowing that the next morning, the writing will be there. My subconscious has written it while I was sleeping.
There are two times my mind likes to write. One, of course, is when I’m sitting in front of the computer deliberately writing but never forcing the words. The second time is, sometimes, when I’m relaxed. I’ll be at my Zumba class exercising and suddenly my subconscious will start writing. Dialogue or narration comes spilling out. Sentences, paragraphs, or plot will disappear if not put on paper as soon as possible. My mind only comes up with it once and then moves onto another part of the book.
When I go out to eat, I often have to write on napkins because my mind decides to become creative in the middle of a chicken salad sandwich.
I have piles of scribbling. I try to get organized and write in a notebook. I’ve got two notebooks laying around with writing for my current book. I have ten notebooks dedicated to future books with scribbling that came out as fully-written prose.
When I begin a new book, I go through the scribbling to find what’s already been written. Sometimes it’s dialogue or prose, or plot, or character development, or a sketchy outline of the story. Often it’s the ending of the book or the beginning.
My brain, also, likes to write when I’m driving. I’ve had to pull into parking lots to scribble on pads of paper. This doesn’t happen often any more since I no longer have to commute to a job but write full time. I once tried a tape recorder, but a different part of the brain does speech. As soon as I open my mouth, the writing vanishes from my subconscious, and I can’t remember a word or what it was even about. But if I write with my subconscious, the words flow.
When I’m trying to go to sleep, my mind will start writing occasionally. I have to keep getting up and scribbling on the notebook I keep on my nightstand. I sometimes finally tell my brain to shut up so I can sleep.
If I’m beginning a new book, my brain will go nuts and the words and voices spill out like a fountain.

The last thing Miranda ever expected was to see her brother’s ghost at the fallen Twin Towers.
It’s bad enough survivor Christopher Michaels scares her with claims that if one dies violently, his ghost will haunt the place that holds his name. And to top it all, one of those thousands of ghosts follows Miranda to her hotel. The only certainty is the ghost grabbing her under the covers is not Jake.
Their parents’ deaths separated Miranda from Jake when they were kids. Michaels insists Jake brought them together and it’s no coincidence that of thousands mourning at Ground Zero, it’s his best friend she bumps into. Some best friend. Michaels is more like a moocher. The cheapskate never has money, just a blood-stained wallet he broods over. Miranda has no choice but to hang out with the weird Michaels in order to unravel her brother’s past.
As Miranda spends time with Michaels, she begins to wonder who he really is. Against her better judgment, Miranda becomes emotionally entangled with Michaels, a bitter alcoholic with a secret linked to her brother and that blood-stained wallet.
I Will Always Love You is part mystery, suspense and romance, a novel that will keep the reader turning the pages!
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Genre – Suspense, Mystery, Romance
Rating – PG
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Najeev Raj Nadarajah on Writing THE DREAM CYCLE Series #Fantasy #AmReading #BookClub

  • 1.     What gave you the idea for Dream Caster?
My idea for Dream Caster was spawned by a bad dream. Rather cliché, right? But it’s the truth.

A single funneled cloud swooped down upon the CN Tower. People stood and watched, confused. Was it a tornado? No one knew for sure. And then the funnel touched down. 

Thunder without sound rippled through the world, toppling buildings and upturning large plates of land. There was chaos everywhere. Screams of horror. Then utter blackness. That is all I will tell you of that dream.

A week later, I began working at the University of Toronto and was struck by a series of déjà-vu. With that, Dream Caster began to write itself.
  1. How long did it take you to write Dream Caster?
It all started with a challenge. A challenge that produced results that was so unthinkable that at the time, I did exactly that. I refused to think about it.

It’d taken me three months to plan out the four books and figure out all the necessary background work. Three months in which my fingers slaved for long hours, fueled by excitement for what I felt could someday become a series that would find its way into peoples’ hearts.

And then I ran into the inevitable. I hit a mental block.

A month went by and then two. Until one day, my cousin decided to drop by and pay me a visit at Robarts Library where I work. Somewhere between her unwrapping the wax paper from her sub and me draining my coffee, the conversation had found its way to the series I’d been working on, or should have been working on.

At that point, she challenged me. I’d been handed a deadline: July 3rd, 2012. I had four months to write, read, edit, reread, reedit and complete a 90,000 word novel.

Perhaps she knew my weakness, perhaps she didn’t. But the fact was she had presented to me a test that I simply could not back down from.

The challenge was accepted and that very same day I wrote my first chapter.

So how long did it take me to write the manuscript for Dream Caster?

Let’s just say that I don’t lose so easily ;)
  1. How and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories and as far back as my memory goes, I’ve always wanted to write. However, if I was to choose one event, one book, one writer, or one awakening that set me on the right path, it would have to be during my first year of middle school.

I was eleven-years-old when I first came across a book called ‘Hatchet’. It was a survival story about a boy who gets lost in the wilderness following a plane wreck in northern Canada. I’ve always had a love for nature, for animals, and the wilderness itself. So as a result, the story drew me in at once and plunged me into a world which I thought could not possibly exist in something small enough to rest within the palms of my hands.  Having ploughed through Hatchet, I began a year in which I consumed novel after novel until I’d read nearly a dozen of Gary Paulsen’s works. 

And then one summer day, I picked up a pen and a notepad, and began writing. I began writing about a boy and his dog that survive the Canadian wilderness through bitter cold, utter starvation, and overcome insurmountable odds. Alas, that story did not make it past its first few pages. It was an awful start, but a start nonetheless. Besides, what more could one expect from an eleven-year-old?

A year later, while browsing through a rack filled with books, my fingers stumbled upon a tattered old spine. Overcome with curiosity, I plucked it off the shelf and read the title: The Hobbit… and that's how it began.
  1. When did you begin writing?
My love for Middle Earth grew and grew until I was positively sure that I wouldn’t rest until I too had become an author. I was nineteen-years-old when I first put pen to paper—figuratively speaking, of course, and began writing an epic fantasy novel that took up nearly five years of my time. In the end, that book was buried away and hasn’t seen the light of day since. It was not until a couple of years after that I was struck with an idea that soon blossomed into, what is now, the Dream Cycle. And here we are now, with two of the four books completed, and the third one currently being written.
  1. Did you use any real life experiences (besides the dreams themselves) within the series?
I didn’t use any real life experiences, but at the same time, I used a ton of real life elements. What I mean by that is I wanted to keep my personal experiences out of the story. Mainly because I live in a world that’s entirely different to that of Weaver’s, so there is no way that I, or anyone else for that matter, will ever be able to truly relate to his experiences. However, I did use the city of Toronto, as well as the downtown University of Toronto campus, along with a few other choice locations that I’m fond of and am familiar with as the backdrop for the story. Perhaps, in a sense, I did use some of my experiences, but not to a great degree. I also touch upon our current world in certain places, mostly to open my readers’ eyes to the world about them.
  1. Is there a message in the book Dream Caster that you want readers to understand? 
There was one underlying message I wanted my readers to grasp, and it’s that we’re taking our world for granted. We’re taking everything around us for granted.
  1. How would you describe your writing style?
Until reviews for Dream Caster began trickling in, I always believed that I didn’t have much of a style. Then people began to point out how much they enjoyed the vividness of my imagery and the unique writing style I brought to the genre. There, however, were a few who didn’t quite like my style of dialogue, seeing as I chose to have my characters speak in a slightly archaic, fantasy-esque style of English. Then again, there were those who absolutely loved the style as well. You can’t please everyone, right?
  1. Is there any advice you can give to debut authors trying to market their first book.
The hardest part about being a new author is gaining exposure. Whether you’re self published or published through a large publishing house, it can take anywhere from a few weeks, upwards of months (and sometimes, never) to do this. This is why, in order to be successful, one must a) practise patience, because success doesn’t always come overnight; b) be persistent. Set goals and stick to achieving them, and c) be prepared to relentlessly pursue their goal for as long as it takes.


Haunted by memories of his massacred settlement, sixteen-year-old Weaver seeks cover in a hidden refuge among the remains of a ruined city. In the midst of building a new life, Weaver discovers that he has the amazing power to cast his dreams into reality. Convinced it’s just an anomaly, Weaver ignores it. That is until he learns of a mysterious man who shares the ability, and uses his power to bring nightmares into existence and wage war on the world. The peaceful life Weaver hoped for begins to unravel as waves of chaos begin to break loose about him. In a race against time, Weaver must learn to accept his role as a dream caster and master his new power, before his new home is destroyed and humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction.

Buy @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG
More details about the author
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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Wings of Dragons (The Dragoon Saga) by Josh VanBrakle #Fantasy #Excerpt #AmReading

Toah. Toah. Toah.

Iren Saitosan’s eyes snapped open at the sound of something he almost never heard, yet instantly recognized: the echoes of footsteps on the stone tower stairs leading to his chamber.

Toah. Toah. Toah.

He threw off his tattered blankets and leapt out of the hard bed. Almost no one came up here. Every so often, children would dare each other to see who could climb the farthest up the steps without getting frightened. They considered scaling the tower all the way to the top and knocking on the Left’s door the ultimate sign of bravery.

Toah. Toah.

These steps didn’t belong to children though. They were too heavy, and there was no associated chatter. Those not making the climb always teased the challenger, alternating between goading them on and threatening them with what the evil Left might do to them if they dared to continue. No, these steps came from an adult.

Toah. Toah.

Iren tensed. Since the day King Azuluu had decreed that he must live up here away from “normal people,” no adult had ever climbed the tower.


That was odd. Iren furrowed his brow. The steps were slowing down, as though whoever made them were hesitating. It was probably just some gawker, no different from the children, coming to see the freak, the Left.

The sound of nervous breathing made Iren focus on his chamber door. Whoever had come had made it all the way to the top and now stood just outside. The door was already slightly ajar, just as Iren had left it. He grinned. This was his favorite part. He couldn’t help but glance above the door at the wooden bucket resting precariously against the top of the door and the wall. His little trick always worked on the kids; he wondered if an adult would be stupid enough to fall for it too. Folding his arms, he leaned against the windowsill and waited.

After a moment a loud grunt came from the steps, and then the door flung open as the intruder shoved his way in with a shoulder charge.


The bucket slammed into the man’s head, dumped its load, and then rolled away, rumbling on the stone floor. Its former contents, a full load of water, now soaked the intruder. Across the room, Iren cocked his head sideways and smiled innocently, saying, “Should have knocked.”

The intruder put a hand to his head, feeling for a bruise. “Captain Angustion warned me you might pull a stunt like this.” He started to say more, but some of the water snuck inside his mouth, making him gag.

“That’s smart, Balear, spitting it out,” Iren said lightly. “Do you know how many times I’ve washed my clothes in that?”

Balear’s face paled, then just as quickly reddened as he shouted, “You left-handed demon-child!”

The Wings of Dragons

From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.

Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom's only known Left, that's meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It's harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia's charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It's a suicide mission, and Iren's chances aren't helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon's spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.

Adding to his problems, someone on Iren's team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who - and how - to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.

"A fast-paced adventure...led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going." - ForeWord Reviews

Buy @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
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