Interview with Jeff Gunhus, author of Night Terror

Jeff GunhusJeff Gunhus is the author of both adult thrillers and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. As a father of five, he and his wife lead an active lifestyle simply trying to keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

His latest book is the thriller/horror novel, Night Terror.

For More Information

About the Book:

Night Terror 2Ten years after her abduction and near-sacrifice to the Source, Sarah Tremont struggles to be a normal teenager. As much as she’s tried to suppress the power inside of her, it’s grown dangerously strong and has drawn the attention of those who want to possess her power for themselves.

The nightmare that she thought was long over starts again as powerful forces descend upon Prescott City to seek her out. With her parents and Joseph Lonetree’s help, Sarah must stand up to an evil much more powerful than the one she faced in the caves a decade earlier. But in the end, she discovers the greatest danger might come from the power living inside of her.

For More Information

  • Night Terror is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

The first book was all about my paranoia of my kids being harmed by strangers and what my responsibilities were as a father to keep my family safe. Book 2 looks at what my evolving understanding is of my kid’s ability to take care of themselves as they get older and stronger.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

I self-published book 1 to great success. I was approached by publishers who were interested in acquiring it, but I prefer the creative and business control I have of my own work as the publisher.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

City Dock Café in historic Annapolis. I love to write there as well.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I have five kids so it’s all about the barely controlled chaos of a large family. I love every second of it.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I’m the CEO of a national home improvement company with a few thousand employees. I love that part of my life as well. When speaking to my employees, I talk about the importance of carving time out for passion projects. That’s what my writing is for me.

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

An emotional connection with the characters trumps language, plot and setting. Great fiction makes us feel and then reflect that feeling in our personal experiences.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

A writer…and Indiana Jones.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

Charlie Winters didn’t scream. Not because the pain had stopped, because it hadn’t. Every nerve in his body was still on fire, bursting with electric signals to his brain that the bag of meat, sinew, and bone that was supposed to protect it was being systematically destroyed. Pound by pound, his flesh was eaten. Ounce by ounce, his blood was guzzled down.

No, his screams stopped only because his vocal cords were raw and bloody and had ceased to function. None of the dozen or so attackers had bothered to silence him when they started the feast, and Charlie had screamed and screamed until he could do so no more.

Even with his throat filled with blood, he still tried to cry out, expelling a spray of red mist. The men feasting near his head enjoyed this and breathed in the vapors of his bloody exhalation. One of the men’s thick fingers dug into Charlie’s left eye socket and scooped out his eyeball, giving a quick yank to pop it loose from the strand of nerves attached to it. Charlie felt another man put his lips around the empty socket and suck hard at the juices inside his head. Nails clawed at and then ripped off the small pad of meat on his cheek, a delicacy on ten-year-old boys as much as it was on suckling pigs.

Charlie closed his eyes and begged for death.

An hour earlier he had been a regular boy, just like anyone else.

But then again, he knew that wasn’t really true. He’d never been like anyone else. And now it had finally cost him.

What’s next for you?

I have five projects I’m trying to decide between. I think it will be a sequel to Killer Within.

Interview with H. Peter Alesso: ‘There is joy in expressing your thoughts, so find your words—tell your story’

H. Peter AlessoAs a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of computer scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of seven books.

His latest book is the science fiction space opera, Lieutenant Henry Gallant.

For More Information

About the Book:

Lieutenant Henry Gallant 2In an era of genetic engineering, Lieutenant Henry Gallant is the only Natural (non-genetically enhanced) officer left in the fleet. Many of his superiors, including rival Anton Neumann, have expressed concern he is not up to the challenge. However, his unique mental abilities have proven essential to the defense of the United Planets in its fight against the Titan invaders.

Serving on the first FTL prototype, the Intrepid, on its maiden voyage to Tau Ceti, Gallant finds a lost colony on the planet Elysium. Cyrus Wolfe and his son, manipulate planet politics against the democratic opposition led by James Hepburn and his granddaughter Alaina. Wolfe has allied himself with an ancient Artificial Intelligence which had lain dormant on the planet for millennia, but is now willing to protect the colonists against the Titans.

With Alaina’s help, Gallant discovers the ancient AI has a sinister ulterior motive and he matches his unique and exceptional mind against the complexity of machine intelligence to escape the ultimate trap and prevent the extermination of humanity.

In Lieutenant Henry Gallant, one man pits the naked human mind against the perspicacity of machine intelligence.

For More Information

  • Lieutenant Henry Gallant is available at Amazon.
  • Watch the trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

I think finding an author you admire and would like to emulate provides the stimulus to become an author. By examining just what it is that you find so compelling about that author will give you a start to developing your skills.

In my book, Lieutenant Henry Gallant, the hero is handsome, brave, and daring—just what you want in a hero who sets out on a great adventure. A rival challenges him for the love of a beautiful, young, and bold woman—just what you’d expect from a warrior princess. Together they face an alien invasion, a jungle full of dangers predators, and a malevolent artificial intelligence bent on exterminating humanity.

Can you guess who wins in the end? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the corrupt politicians who maneuver to upset all Gallant’s efforts to protect the people and stop the malicious AI.

How much fun do you think I had writing this tale?

Actually, I had more.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

In the past, I’ve published several books through large traditional publishers, but for Lieutenant Henry Gallant, I chose self-publication in order to get the book to market more quickly. It allowed me more flexibility in editing and marketing choices.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I like to work out both my left and right hemispheres of the brain using a wide variety of skill sets and abilities. As a result, I love to read, do word (or math) puzzles, as well as develop computer apps for Android.

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

I found that science fiction novels provided wonderful adventures in unexpected places with unusual characters and strange circumstance. I’ve enjoyed them all my life, so when I first began to develop science fiction stories, I wanted to write adventures that I could vicariously enjoy.

Some of my favorite authors, I. Asimov, J. Campbell, and R. Heinlein have accomplished this. When they ‘set the stage’ at the beginning of a chapter, they offer elaborate descriptive prose, rich in adjectives and superlatives. For action scenes, however, their sentences become short, crisp, and emphatic. When involved in conversation, the individual characters each achieve their own ‘voice’—they demonstrate a distinctive characteristic of speech, or language, so that they can be picked out of the dialog. Of course, the arc of the main story must be seamlessly inter-wound with the subplots so that the reader doesn’t trip over the narrative. But the result is a reader so engrossed in the story that he is unaware of his actual reality, he has been transported elsewhere.

There is joy in expressing your thoughts, so find your words—tell your story.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

Gallant ran—gasping for breath, heart pounding; the echo of his footsteps reverberated behind him.

He hoped to reach the bridge, but hope is a fragile thing.

Peering over his shoulder into the dark, he tripped on a protruding jagged beam, one of the ship’s many battle scars. As he crashed to the deck, the final glow of emergency lights sputtered out leaving only the pitch black of power failure—his failure.

He lay still and listened to the ship’s cries of pain; the incessant wheezing of atmosphere bleeding from the many tiny hull fissures, the repetitious groaning of metal from straining structures, and the crackling of electrical wires sparking against panels.

Thoughts flashed past him.

How long will the oxygen last?

He was reluctant to guess.

Where are they?

The clamor of dogged footsteps drew closer even as he rasped for another breath.

Trembling from exhaustion, he clawed at the bulkhead to pull himself up. His hemorrhaging leg made even standing brutally painful.

Nevertheless, he ran.

The bulkhead panels and compartment hatches were indistinguishable in the dimness. Vague phantoms lurked nearby even while his eyes adjusted to whatever glowing plasma blast embers flickered from the hull.

As he twisted around a corner, he crashed his shoulder into a bulkhead. The impact knocked him back and spun him around. Reaching out with a bloody hand, he grasped the hatch handle leading into the Operation’s compartment. Going through the hatch, he pulled it shut behind him.

He started to run, then awkwardly fought his own momentum and stopped.

Stupid! Stupid!

Going back to the hatch, he hit the security locking mechanism.

It wouldn’t stop a plasma blast, but it might slow them down, he thought. At least this compartment is airtight.

Finally able to take a deep breath, he tried to clear his head of bombarding sensations. He should’ve been in battle armor, but he’d stayed too long in engineering trying to maintain power while the hull had been breached and the ship boarded.

Now his uniform was scorched, revealing the plasma burns of seared flesh from his left shoulder down across his back to his right thigh. He had no idea where the rest of the crew was; many were probably dead. His comm pin was mute and the ship’s AI wasn’t responding. He had only a handgun, but, so far, he didn’t think they were tracking him specifically, merely penetrating into the ship to gain control.

Gallant tried to run once more, but his legs were unwilling. Leaning against the bulkhead, like a dead weight, he slid slowly down to the deck.

Unable to go farther, he sat dripping blood and trembling as the potent grip of shock grabbed hold. The harrowing pain of his burnt flesh, swept over him.

Hope and fear alike abandoned him, leaving only an undeniable truth; without immediate medical treatment, he wouldn’t survive.

I’m done.

Closing his eyes, he fought against the pain and the black vertigo of despair. He took a deep breath and called upon the last of his inner resolve and resilience . . .

No! I won’t give up.

What’s next for you?

A multi-book story arc requires a thorough understanding of the characters and their motivations, as well as considerable planning. An author always benefits from the encouragement and feedback of his co-conspirators in this endeavor—the readers. With the release of each book in a series, the voice of the readers becomes clearer. Their desire to see certain characters prevail and certain events transpire becomes plain.

I am looking forward to further developing The Henry Gallant Saga—if the readers encourage me to do so through their review comments.

Interview with Alistair McGuiness, author of ‘Round the Bend’

Alistair McGuinessAlistair McGuiness grew up in the UK in a town called Luton, which lies 30 miles north of London. Family holidays were spent in County Donegal, Ireland, staying with his Grandmother in their large family home where she had once raised fifteen children.

It was these annual trips that made Alistair realise his Great Uncles were Seanachaís (Irish story tellers). After a few pints of Guinness in the family bar, brothers Barney and Francis would entertain the evening crowds with their recitations of life in rural Ireland. As their rustic voices carried across the crowded room, Alistair would watch and listen as the animated tales mesmorised the overseas visitors.

44 countries and four decades later, Alistair now calls Australia home and in the tradition of Great Uncles Barney and Francis, loves to recite stories. He lives between the beach and the forest with his wife, two young boys and a fun puppy called Peppi. After decades of adventurous escapades Alistair is calming down and has decided to write more and bungee jump less!

He works as a Business Improvement Specialist and has just spent three years as a fly in fly out employee at a remote iron ore mine site in Western Australia. As a trainer and facilitator, he has worked in Europe and Australia and is passionate about helping people and organisations to become successful.

A fun family day for Alistair would be fishing from the local jetty with his boys, taking the puppy for a walk along the beach at sunset and cooking a scrumptious curry in the evening with his wife.

An ideal adventurous day for Alistair would be a days walking and scrambling in the Lake District with friends, followed by a visit to a village pub nestled deep in the English countryside.

His latest book is the adventure travel, Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru to Ningaloo, A Search for Life After Redundancy.

For More Information

About the Book:

From the Amazon to the Andes and Kilimanjaro to Cape Town. This adventure story captures the reality and exhilaration of leaving home to undertake Gap Year travel in South America, Africa, Fiji and Australia.

Round the Bend 2Three things happened simultaneously. The lioness charged, Alistair fled across the parched savannah and his wife screamed for him to run faster. Stuffed deep inside his tattered rucksack was a guidebook containing advice on what to do in wildlife emergencies, which he planned to read if he survived the next thirty seconds. Future plans to climb Kilimanjaro, teach English in the Amazon and live in Australia were temporarily forgotten as he turned to face the pouncing lioness, thinking back to the words of advice from his mother-in-law. “Don’t do anything silly, and look after Francine.” From deep underground in a remote Bolivian mine to the scorched Australian outback, Round the Bend is an adventure travel story. It explores the turbulence of redundancy, the excitement of travel, the anguish of leaving home and the challenges of starting a new life in Australia.

For More Information

  • Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru to Ningaloo, a Search for Life After Redundancy is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

It was a few weeks after my dad died, when it suddenly dawned on me that I would no longer hear his stories again. He had been a Merchant Seaman and had tales to tell about all four corners of the globe. After his funeral, I decided to convert my travel diaries into an adventure travel story. Now our two children can read the many adventures of their mum and dad across South America and Africa!

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

Yes this is my first published book. To be truthful I haven’t submitted to a traditional publisher yet, as finding an agent seems near impossible these days. As soon as I made the decision to become Indie, I knew it was imperative to use professionals for proof reading, editing and book cover design. My hope is that I will be able to prove to a traditional publisher that my story is worth investing in. This means that it is error free, has fabulous reviews, a compelling book cover, and a genre wanting to purchase it.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

I live in South West Australia. If you visit between June and August it could be wet and windy, so I suggest a beachside café with a cosy log fire. If you arrive in spring and summer, we could head to a local winery, to enjoy cool drinks in a sensational bush land setting. If you prefer to talk while walking, we could go to the local cliffs and watch whales in the bay as we trek along the coastal footpath.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two young children. We enjoy bike rides, bush walks, tennis and visits to the beach. On a personal note, I enjoy travel writing, soccer coaching, kayaking and mountain biking.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I have just spent three years working in a remote iron ore mine site in western Australia as a business improvement facilitator. It was during this period that I began to write each evening for an hour. I have been a few times for magazine travel articles, but have a long way to go until I give up my day job!

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

A central character that you really believe in.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

Now you’re testing me as that was 39 years ago! From what I remember, I wanted to discover nomadic tribes and venture to faraway places. I used to play in the local woods, dreaming of one day making it to the Amazon jungle.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

“Within an hour we were sitting on the deck of a modern catamaran gliding across the Indian Ocean towards the low shoreline of Zanzibar. It was hidden by a low band of ivory clouds shimmering in the late afternoon heat.

For centuries, travellers and explorers have been drawn to the labyrinth of crumbling walls and cobbled streets seeking fortune or adventure. The ancient town reeked of history. It was here that Livingstone stayed before his trek into the African interior, in search of the source of the Nile. Arabs have been using the island as a trading base for centuries, growing and exporting exotic spices of nutmeg, pepper and cloves to the four corners of the world.

If ever a tourist needed a map, Stone Town is the place for it. The epicentre is a hive of twisted paths, entwined with dark alleys, hidden pathways and unnamed cobbled roads. Even with a map the humidity, heat and distractions means that you will probably get lost. Stone Town moves at a different pace to the western world. Ambling slowly through the winding passages we came across intricate doorways carved with meticulous care but now fading with age.

Houses and apartments were alive with laughter as the zesty aroma of spices drifted in the balmy night air. Our aim was to exit this maze at the quay side, where each evening, local fisherman set up food stalls. More by luck than logic we ventured through a narrow unlit alleyway and found ourselves at the water’s edge. The first kerosene lamps were just being lit by the vendors, throwing pale amber light across the ancient harbour walls. We shared our meal of succulent king prawns, grilled kingfish and fresh chapattis with an extremely healthy cat. Anchored dhows clinked gently in the bay, waiting patiently for dawn.”

What’s next for you?

I am working on the follow up to Round the Bend, which is due for release in January 2015. After twelve years of living and working in Australia, I have written a series of short stories about life Down Under.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. I blog about all things travel and life in Australia at www.thecreativenomad.co

Happy travels,

Alistair

Interview with Daphne Michaels, author of ‘The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams’

Daphne Michaels 7Daphne Michaels is an author, speaker and licensed psychotherapist whose institute has helped hundreds of women and men transform their lives through the “gifts” every human being is born with. Daphne began her own journey of transformation at a young age, pursued it fearlessly, and later studied formally in the fields of social science, human services and integral psychology. The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams launches both Daphne Michaels Books and The Gifted series, whose goal it is to share with the widest audience possible the principles that guide the Daphne Michaels Institute. Daphne’s earlier book, Light of Our Times, featured her conversations with such international figures in the fields of spirituality and personal development as Ram Dass, Julia Cameron, Dr. Masaru Emoto, and Thomas Moore.

Visit her website at www.daphnemichaels.com.

About the Book:

The GiftedIn The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams author, speaker and licensed psychotherapist Daphne Michaels celebrates the nine gifts that are our birthright, guiding readers in how to recognize and use them to transform their lives.  In her author’s preface, Michaels reveals how her own journey of life transformation began when she was young and realized that human existence wore two conflicting faces–one of love and joy, and one of fear and despair. She decided then to commit her life to reconciling these two visions because she knew that, irreconcilable though they seemed, together these two faces held the secret to living a life of endless possibility and authentic happiness. Her personal journey and formal education in social science, human services and integral psychology led to the founding of the Daphne Michaels Institute, which has helped hundreds of men and women design the lives of their dreams.

In The Gifted Michaels shows us that the first three “gifts” we must recognize and embrace within us if we are to re-design our lives are Awareness, Potential and Stillness. These three allow us to identify and use the remaining six with a life-changing power:  Disharmony, Harmony, Ease, Clarity, Freedom and Engagement.  Each of these six relies on the “essential three” for its own power to change our lives, and each has its own gifts–its “children.” By approaching the nine gifts with real-world metaphors, Michaels answers in easily understood ways what for many readers have been lingering questions about personal transformation—such as how it works, what kind of commitment it takes, and why, if we’re committed, real transformation becomes inevitable—and addresses obstacles that readers may have encountered in the past in trying to reach in life a happiness every human deserves.

While the human universe’s face of love is celebrated in The Gifted, so is the face of fear that haunted a young girl decades ago. As Michaels shows us in her book, even Disharmony—the “quagmire” of life born of the human ego’s fear, defenses, delusions and despair—is a gift, too, and one as important as the others if we know how to see it clearly and use it. Once we understand Disharmony, we are ready to understand the real purpose of Harmony in our lives. Disharmony does not need to rule us.  It is ours to use as we design the lives of our dreams.

The final gift in The Gifted, Michaels tells us, is the gift of Engagement. Engagement—with the universe and with ourselves—allows us to use all of the other gifts with more power and joy than we ever imagined possible.

That mountaintop decision never left me. It drove my life’s work and over the years led me to understand that there are gifts – nine of them, in fact – that we are all born with but rarely experience in their full glory and potential. These gifts – which make each and every one of us “The Gifted” of this book’s title – are the keys to living lives of endless possibilities and, in turn, achieving an authentic happiness that cannot be lost. They are, in other words, the keys to achieving the life of our dreams.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

I have worked with men and women of all backgrounds and personalities for over twenty-five years, guiding them to live the lives of their dreams. In addition to having a long-term psychotherapy practice, my institute offers transformational programs for people interested in living lives of endless possibility.

My own journey, which led me to eventually write this book, started when I was an angst-ridden adolescent. I smile today, because it was such a dramatic time in my life with classic teenage experiences. And even this was classic I’m sure, although I am still shaken today when I think of the first time I really saw the world beyond my limited scope of experience. I was devastated by what I experienced as a gut-wrenching discovery of two worlds existing side by side: the world of love and the world of despair. It was the world of despair – the fear and misery that I witnessed robbing people of the beauty in life — that propelled my journey to understand and help eradicate unnecessary suffering.

My personal journey took years and led to all sorts of experiences for which I am grateful today. After earning my degrees in human services and applied behavioral sciences, I launched my private practice in 1996 and my institute in 2001. Writing personal development books is a natural next step in my journey to take my message to as broad of an audience as possible.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams is my newest book and part of a five-book series. I chose to launch the Daphne Michaels Books imprint for many reasons. First, it is great to be part of the personal development genre as a long tradition. Our interest in self-help and personal development is part of the American story, really. To make one’s life better — to reach one’s potential and pursue happiness was the intent of our declaration of independence. Many of the successes in the personal development genre started out as self-published authors. It is great to be launching my imprint in an era where POD publishing and ebook publishing helps one reach an even larger audience … and it’s nice, too, that this is the first year Book Expo America has invited self-published authors to exhibit and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY and other venues are featuring the best self-published books. Being part of this new era in publishing allows opportunities to help shape it. This means teaming in new ways with new people and being free to see our projects all the way from conception to publication and beyond.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

Pt. Defiance State Park comes to mind. We could sit under a canopy of trees and look out over the bay at majestic Mt. Rainier. Talking about books in an open setting like this seems appropriate to me — powerful ideas and open space complement one another.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

One of my favorite activities is walking. And living in the Pacific Northwest, where the beauty of nature is always within reach, makes walking especially relaxing and fun.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I am a woman which means I have several jobs, right? While I say this in jest, I believe that regardless of how much I write, having variety in work is important. In addition to writing personal development books I am a licensed psychotherapist and the director of the Daphne Michaels Institute. And I must say that being a mom is an important job that I treasure. My thirteen year old son Gabriel lights up my world!

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

It is so important to bring the human element to writing. If words don’t have a connection to humanity they won’t move us. They won’t wake us up. And they cannot possibly help us.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

I wanted to be a positive force in the world.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

When I was very young, and life was turbulent — as it often is for the young — I had an experience, call it a vision, that showed me two vast, human worlds in terrible contrast: One of love and one of despair. I couldn’t reconcile these worlds and was tortured by my failure. Human beings could choose to live in either world, and yet so often they chose the world of despair almost exclusively. Why? And who was I, a girl of nineteen, driving to a mountaintop to escape her terrible vision, to think she could figure out what our long human history of strife and suffering had not resolved: How to live with love for oneself and others, and, by doing so, achieve a beautiful and completely satisfying life — the kind human beings dream of.

But shouldn’t I, in my life (that teenager asked herself), try to understand how such different worlds could exist both within us and without? To understand how to acknowledge both? To find the secret to bringing heaven and earth together for an authentic, permanent human happiness and, in turn, an exhilarating life? Shouldn’t I at least try?

I had no choice but to try, though I did not know it at the time. That is the way of all life callings, isn’t it? All I knew as I drove down the mountain was that I had been changed by the stars that particular night. I had been given insights I could not name, and they would guide me – even if it took years — to realizing the kind of beauty in life that can only come from reconciling those two all-too-human worlds.

That mountaintop decision never left me. It drove my life’s work and over the years led me to understand that there are gifts — nine of them, in fact — that we are all born with but rarely experience in their full glory and potential. These gifts — which make each and every one of us “The Gifted” of this book’s title — are keys to living lives of endless possibilities and, in turn, achieving an authentic happiness that cannot be lost. They are, in other words, the keys to achieving the life of our dreams.

                                      THE GIFTED: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams

-Author’s Preface —

What’s next for you?

My book, The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams is the first book in a five-part series. I will be planning my next launch!

 

Interview with Julian Rosado-Machain: ‘I’m starting to make a living off my books which is exhilarating’

Julian Rosado-MachainJulian Rosado-Machain has enjoyed pizza in three continents, worked in graphic design, armored vehicles, built computers, handcrafted alebrijes and swears that he has seen at least one ghost.

He lives in San Diego, California. And enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.

His latest book is the YA fantasy adventure, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher.

For More Information

About the Book:

Guardians Inc 7GUARDIANS INC.: THE CYPHER is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies, one that spans close to seven thousand years of existence, weaving in and out of history, guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales.

The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn’t be aware of and dangers he shouldn’t face but, that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity’s future.

The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology but, every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we’ve driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future, and to unlock the future they need a Cypher.

This is the first book of the Guardians Inc Series.

For More Information

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

A Conspiracy Theory! The what if Magic was real and a select cadre knew about it and what would a teenager do if he somehow learned about all this? From there everything else came into being: The seven thousand year old company, the elves living in our national parks and the balance between Magic and Technology that has to be preserved to keep humanity alive and well and Magic in check.

Nature, Science, History, Mythology. I always read a lot about these themes and there is always something to explore about them, some hidden connection between all of them that should be brought to light.

Those connections with nature are the heart of Guardians Inc.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

I self published because Guardians Inc. was a pet project, but I’m beginning to look for a publisher now that I know that my market is the middle grade crowd. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

I live in San Diego and there are many places where we can go and talk about books depending on the genre, YA? Let’s go to PacificBeach. History? Well, there’s Balboa park, Comedy? SeaportVillage is always a fun place to be or maybe Romance? Let’ go to the Coronado Hotel for dinner instead of just a walk and maybe, just maybe we’ll delve into Horror with all the Ghosts that supposedly live there.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I am an avid strategy gamer! Yes, I know, I am old enough to have gone through that phase, but then again, I was Generation Atari and Pac man! And there is no denying just how powerful a jolt to the imagination some of these games can be.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I am starting to make a living off my books, which is at the same time exhilarating and scary! I owned a restaurant for ten years and sold it because I was tired of slaving away watching my kids grow up from afar.

So now I’m devoting 100 percent of my time to writing (actually like 25% because promotion is taking a huge chunk of time!)

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

Relatability… No I didn’t make that word up… I think… anyway, the more a reader can relate to the story being told, the more he will be into it. No matter what the genre is, there is a heart to each story, a conflict that resonates with the reader and that makes the story relatable to him/her.

That what I think makes a good book great.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

I wanted to be an astronaut! But not of the mercury program, but of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos ship! I didn’t know how many people have seen it, but it SHOULD be mandatory viewing in all schools along with the remake with Neil Degrasse Tyson, which is just as good. It opens the mind to possibilities and to science and our natural world.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

Sure! Here’s Thomas as he sees Pervagus Library for the first time:

Thomas felt a current of air moving through the library. He couldn’t hear the air conditioning, but he felt a draft on his arms and hair. The temperature inside the room had dropped and he shuddered involuntarily.

“The cold helps preserve the collection,” Mrs. Pianova told him. “Humidity is also controlled. Do you have any known allergies to chemicals?”

Now that she mentioned it, Thomas perceived a faint smell of leather and a more distinct smell that he couldn’t quite place, like when entering a hospital. It was chemical, but he didn’t know what it was.

“Mr. Byrne?” she asked when he waited too long to answer.

“No, ma’am,” he said. “Not that I know of.”

“Good, this is your station,” she said pointing at the desk. “The computer already has your clearance, but to use it you need to be wearing?” She paused and lifted her eyebrow.

“The tag?” he offered.

“Correct.” She pointed at the screen. “Some days one or two people will come in, some days fifty or more, and some days you’ll get someone screaming at the top of their lungs about a life or death situation. Don’t get nervous. Just punch the information into the program and the computer will tell you which aisle to send them to. You can cross-reference any way you like, words, titles, authors or by need. You’ve used the Internet before?”

“Yes ma’am,” he said. His head pounded and he felt overwhelmed. Was he cut out for this job? He swallowed the lump in his throat and meekly asked, “Life and death?”

“Those books will appear on this tray.” She pointed to a drawer on the right side of the desk. “All others on the aisles. Follow me.” She walked through the middle of the hall. The bookcases were arranged alphabetically. Each had a golden letter on the sides and tags on each shelf.

As they reached the end of the hall, she stopped in front of a wooden wall etched with thick concentric circles. The circles covered a full quarter of the wall and extended all the way to the ceiling.

“Some books will not be readily available to you. If such is the case, you can contact me through the computer and I will search for the book in the library.”

It was Thomas’s time to lift an eyebrow. “Isn’t this the library?” he asked, and Mrs. Pianova adjusted the pair of glasses she was wearing.

“No, Mr. Byrne, this is your station.” She paused. “I don’t need to remind you of your Non-disclosure Agreement. Do I?” she asked.

“You just did ma’am,” Thomas answered with a playful smirk that made Mrs. Pianova purse her lips unnervingly.

“Welcome to Pervagus library Mr. Byrne,” she said pressing a panel on the wall. There was a short hum and a mechanical sound as the wall with the etched circles began to rotate, disengaging internal locks, and the circles moved to the sides inside each other. The wall became a set of double doors that opened to a hall beyond what Thomas could describe as immense.

The ceiling was at least ten stories high and the bookshelves disappeared in the distance. A clear crystal floor and metal beams supported each row of shelves. Robotic arms and elevators loaded with books ran on rails above the bookshelves loading and unloading their cargo into them. Thomas had been to a football stadium before, but he was sure that this room dwarfed that.

“I don’t know how many books there are, so don’t ask,” Mrs. Pianova said as soon as the question formed in his head. “The best answer I can give you is that we probably have at least a copy of every book ever written after the year 269. Before that, well… a lot of things happened.”

The mind reading trick again! “How did you… “

“Everyone asks the same thing,” she snapped, cutting his question short. “I even know how to answer the next one.” She stared at him as if daring him to ask it.

Thomas pursed his lips, “Very well then,” he said. “What’s the answer?”

“We do have them in electronic format too, but we need them in print for a very specific reason.” She raised an eyebrow at him, his face betrayed that she had answered correctly.

Behind her, a glass elevator appeared on a rail from the left.

“You don’t need to check out with me, Mr. Byrne. But if I need you to stay longer I can notify you up to five minutes before your shift ends.”

“So you work here alone?” he asked as she entered the elevator.

“Not anymore. Apparently.” The elevators doors closed. “Bathroom is on the left. I’ll see you tomorrow. Won’t I, Mr. Byrne?”

“Definitely,” he answered but saw the eyebrow lifting. He added, “Mrs. Pianova.” The librarian nodded approvingly. Apprehensive or not, now that he saw the library he wanted to work here.

He wanted to know more.

Interview with Paul DeBlassie III: ‘…pure, raw, human fear and horror…the stuff of this writer’s life’

Paul DeBlassie IIIPAUL DeBLASSIE III, PhD, is a psychologist and writer living in his native New Mexico. A member of the Depth Psychology Alliance, the Transpersonal Psychology Association, and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, he has for over thirty years treated survivors of the dark side of religion.

His latest book is the psychological/paranormal thriller, The Unholy.

Visit his website at www.pauldeblassieiii.com or his blog at www.pauldeblassieiii.blogspot.com.

About the Book:

The Unholy 7A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, “The Unholy” is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.

Thank you for this interview, Paul. Let’s begin by having you tell us what kind of writer you are?

Don’t tell anyone, but in the quiet moments of my day and in secret times of contemplation I admit to myself that I am a horror writer. I balls out write horror. I clean it up and say I write psychological thrillers and dark fantasy; but, rock bottom its horror. It’s my own kind of horror that is quite different in many ways from what is out there in the marketplace. I see huge volumes with convoluted tales. The old horror master, my true inspiration and guiding lights, wrote without ungainly complexities. There was good and there was evil and they were set at life threatening odds with one another so that the reader was scared to death because they had secretly wondered if something like this could ever be or ever happen and the old masters brought that dark wondering out of the cupboard and set it loose on the earth. That’s what I do, can’t clean up except when I feel compelled to in professional and academic societies of clinical psychology and psychoanalysis. But, more and more I’m making my way out of the closet and saying plain and simple that I’m a horror writer. Yikes…there…I said it…wasn’t bad…tooo baaad…Yikes! You can see by my conflict how the only way for me to write is to unplug from this conflict and get down to the nitty gritty and be the horror man. This is what jazzes me and makes me write…pure, raw, human fear and horror..the stuff of this writer’s life.

What’s one of the most terrifying things about being a writer?

If I’m going to write a true story that resonates with my audience I have to live it out. It has to have been a part of my life. Since I write thrillers and dark fantasy, that means that dark forces that have been at play in my life or are presently in the works can be quite overwhelming. This is not a hands off enterprise. Writing cuts to the core of my life and life experience, relationships, profession, dream, and nightmares. If I could only research stuff from a distance and then write in a compelling way about that, that would be one thing; but as it is I have to live this out. The story is a living breathing thing within my life before it hits the page, and then once its on the page, and then on from there. The Unholy is about terrifying religious encounters. This is something that I was raised with, fought my own battles about, treated people for clinically, and finally found that I was smack dab in the middle of writing a story that could not be stopped. It had to come out. Frightening, very frightening to live this close to one’s work. There were times that it effected my family, and I had to wonder whether I should withdraw; but we all talked and I had their support. I have it now. The arms of creativity stretch long and influence oneself and others who are in the emotional and psychic vortex of one’s existence. The energy, the psychological amalgam, of this is so intense and persuasive that nothing short of challenging and amazing can be said to even faintly describe it.

What are some of the secrets about your favorite genre?

Secrets about your favorite genre. The greatest secret about the horror genre is that it is so multifarious and multiparadigmatic that it defies description. You get S. King with increasingly rich stories as he is ageing, a man who not only has lived and knows horror, but knows longing and love as is evident in his more mature stories written over the past few years especially Lisey’s Story. Then at the other end of the spectrum you get the rough and wild bad boy of horror, Edward Lee. The guy has some seriously demented characters that never ever can be redeemed. I mean what kind of character is the main character in Portrait of a Psychopath as a Young Woman? Horror is such a varied genre. In The Unholy you get more of a classic good guy and bad guy scenario but played out on a supernatural venue featuring the mythopoeic realm of Aztlan. This is a cultural realm with deep spiritual meaning for the mestizos of New Mexico. This is a story of church politics, culture, misogyny, and the struggle to find a sense of self within this multifarious and tormented drama. I don’t think anything short of a horror story (I won’t clean it up at this point by calling it a psychological thriller) could convey the terror of conflicting energies of culture, church, abandonment and the desperate need for courage in a world that seems like it has gone to hell in a church pew! I love horror and I love horror because it is so multifaceted, rich, and into extremes that pop out the realities behind the scenes of everyday life. That’s the secret of horror…it’s into extremes so as to express truth…if you got something to say, an old professor of mine used to quip, why not exaggerate to get the point across. Horror does that. The Unholy does horror and goes to extremes to pop out the reality behind what is observable.

Can you give us a day with you behind the scenes?

I get up at 3:45 am and write horror…actually I practice yoga for half an hour and call on the spirit world for guidance and direction, inspiration, for my day treating patients and for my writing. The inspiration often comes with an out-of-the-blue idea that I then tear off with onto the page. Everyday I like to write a little, without hope or despair as one writer said. I then have breakfast with my wife and read newsmedia for half an hour before seeing my first psychotherapy patient at seven am. I have full days of seeing patients Monday through Thursday then I write Friday through Sunday. I wake up ready to go, ready to engage in private psychotherapy practice, treating those who have suffered from the dark side of religion, to write about the drama of human life and individuals struggle to find themselves in the midst of dealing with a world loaded with dark energies and maleficent beings. There is so much in the course of one day to fill my life that I have to make sure and get time to heal myself, to relax, sink into marriage and family life. Ultimately, it’s the wonder of marriage and family life that grounds and heals me, keeps my feet on the ground, keeps me real and keeps me going! Without marriage and family there wouldn’t be the juice to keep moving the way I like to move, to live as I desire to live, and to write with the force and rage that is in me to write. The Unholy was a daily process over many years and all my stories are and will be daily processes over many years.

Interview with Ron Parsons, author of ‘The Sense of Touch’

Ron ParsonsRON PARSONS is a writer living in Sioux Falls. Born in Michigan and raised in South Dakota, he was inspired to begin writing fiction in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. His short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and venues, including The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, Storyville App, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, and The Onion. His debut collection of stories, THE SENSE OF TOUCH, was released by Aqueous Books in 2013.

You can visit his website at http://ronparsonswriter.com/ or http://www.aqueousbooks.com/author_pages/24_parsons.htm.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book, The Sense of Touch?

When I was attending college in Minneapolis, a friend of mine loaned me copies of two short story collections: “Like Life” by Lorrie Moore and “The Watch” by Rick Bass.  I think I read both books on consecutive nights and they really affected me.  I thought they were just perfect; collections of small, brilliant gems.  I resolved that someday, somehow, I would publish a short story collection of my own.  It took a long time and a lot of good fortune, but eventually I was able to make it happen.

The theme of “The Sense of Touch” is the importance of connecting with others and how we are inevitably changed, for better or worse, by those encounters.  The book’s epigraph is from a wonderful Wallace Stevens poem called “It Must Change,” and The Sense of Touchthe cover, designed by my publisher Cynthia Reeser, depicts a butterfly, which is a symbol of transformation.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

This is my first publication.  I started by submitting short stories to literary reviews.  After many rejections, a few acceptances began to trickle in.  My first true success was placing “Hezekiah Number Three” in the Spring 2008 edition of The Gettysburg Review.

When I felt that I had enough good stories to try to publish a collection, I began submitting the manuscript to potential literary agents.  Those that responded politely recommended that I try contacting independent publishing houses directly.  Almost randomly, I chose ten publishers, sent off the manuscript, and then forced myself to forget about it.  It took almost a year, but the first to respond was Aqueous Books with an offer to publish my debut collection.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a beautiful, growing metropolis located in the fertile Missouri River Valley at the gateway to the Great Plains of North America.  When you come to visit me here, we will first stop to browse at Zandbroz Variety, a great independent bookstore located on Phillips Avenue in our historic downtown, and then we’ll settle in at one of the nearby cafés and find a table outside in the sun.  So be sure not to visit in January!

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I like softball and baseball.  I like to read.  And I really traveling.  I especially love to take plenty of quick trips to other cities to catch a particular concert, play, or sporting event that I want to see.  And I love dogs.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I wish!  Actually, I am an appellate attorney, a job that I love very much.  I spend most of my working hours reading, writing, and crafting arguments.  And every now and then, I get to present oral argument before an appellate court, usually either in Pierre, where the South Dakota Supreme Court is located, or in St. Paul or St. Louis, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has its chambers.  I once had a First Amendment case that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, where I was privileged to sit at counsel’s table with Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who argued the case.  I remember all of the black-robed Justices walking into the vast marble-columned courtroom, and after we were instructed to sit, I found that I was looking directly into face of the great Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who gave me a warm and reassuring smile.  But that didn’t stop her from voting against our client!

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

In my opinion, a book is great when it stays with you and comforts you with wisdom and companionship long after you set it down.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation.  What did you want to be?

Almost throughout my entire childhood, I wanted to be a cartoonist.  I could always be found drawing both at home and during school.  I wanted to be the next Gary Larson.  I continued to draw “Far Side” or New Yorker type cartoons well into college.  A few of my single-panel cartoons were syndicated in a feature called “The New Breed” and appeared in newspapers across the country, including one that was published in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times.  But after entering law school, I just never had enough time to do that and continue to write fiction, which I decided was my true passion.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

They were relaxing at the top of a waterfall, in a small, still pool where the mountain waters hit an upward slope of folded granite. It was sort of a rounded bathtub, carved out of the rock throughout the centuries by the rushing river, a river so hidden that it was without a name. Just below were the falls, about a 30-foot drop into another, much larger pool of clearest water that was gathered for a respite, a compromise in the river’s relentless schedule downward, between split-level decks of flat rock. Further on, the river reanimated and released into a sharp ravine, pulling westward, down through the rugged mountains and faceless forest – the Black Hills National Forest – gaining force until it joined with the rush of the Castle River, near the old Custer Trail, and was swallowed into the Deerfield Reservoir to collect and prepare for the touch of man.

From “The Black Hills” in The Sense of Touch.

What’s next for you?

I am continuing to work on short stories to submit to literary views.  It’s the form of writing that connects with me most.  But I am also in the process of trying to develop a novel.  Thank you for this opportunity.  I am grateful to you and your readership for having me here.