Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Raie’ Chaelia by Melissa Douthit Review

The Raie’ Chaelia by Melissa Douthit


When Chalice sets off for Branbury in the middle of the night with her grandfather's instructions, she has no idea of the dangers that await her. The King's men have destroyed her home village of Canton and she is suddenly thrown into a Terravailian world that she does not know. Lost and alone, she is hard pressed to evade the iron grasp of the madman who rules the land. With the help of a friendly Chinuk, an old man, and a book that she discovers along the way, not only does she find true friends and true love, but she also finds her true self and what it means to be the Raie'Chaelia.

This was a complimentary copy given to me by the author for an honest review. It seems I had the 1st edition so perhaps some of my comments have been addressed in the newest version.

This book would be classified as High Fantasy which happens to be my favorite genre. I like the world building that high fantasy offers.

Here are my thoughts:

This book is about Chalice and her journey to learn who she really is and whom she meets on the way and what she must accomplish to save her people. She finds out about mystical powers that she never knew she had. She journeys with several people, one of them being Jeremiah and a little furry creature named Bunebab. There are several mystical and spiritual messages in the book that I really enjoyed.

I agree that high fantasy should have world building but this book goes a little overboard. The author describes everything in minute detail every other paragraph it seems. It downplayed the story and I found myself putting the book down quite frequently. I like the concepts that she brings about in the book but the end result is hard to figure out.
Honestly it took me a good while to read this book and I found myself wanting to skip past a lot of the descriptions. 

I did enjoy the parallel world references and I think they need to be explained further in future books. I am reading Book 2 and so far I like what I’m seeing. 

As well as the extensive descriptions, the use of elaborate wording made me struggle to figure out what was trying to be said and I had to use the dictionary a lot which discouraged me and at times made me want to stop reading the book due to the interruptions this caused. I don’t think it was really necessary and think it could have been explained simply without the long words.

Due to the above reasons, I am giving this book 3 fairies for the story concepts and would recommend this to high fantasy readers who don’t mind extensive descriptions and elaborate wording. It definitely wasn’t a bad read, just a difficult read for me.

I also found that there were a lot of unfamiliar words and had difficulty following along because of that. Perhaps a glossary of terms in the back of the book next time would work much better and give the readers the information they need without feeling like they are lost in a sea of confusion.





Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lisa April Smith Guest Post


                                  Exceeding Expectations
                                                      Online Book Tour
                           Featuring Lisa April Smith
                                 March – April, 2012

                      About Lisa April Smith
Author Lisa April Smith lives with her husband, He-Who-Wishes-to-Remain-Anonymous, in
Eternal Playland, Florida, a delightful spot just off I-95. Ms. Smith describes Eternal Playland as
"a little piece of level heaven with occasional dampness, where the bugs are plentiful but respectful, and even the smallest strip mall contains at least one pizza place and a nail salon."

Before discovering a passion for writing, Ms. Smith sold plumbing and heating, antiques, taught ballroom dancing, tutored, modeled, designed software and managed projects for IBM.  She
She returned to college multiple times to study anthropology, sociology and computer science, in which she holds degrees, as well as psychology, archeology, literature, history and art. Combine those widely diverse interests with a love of travel and a gift for writing page-turners and it’s easy to understand one reviewer’s unbridled praise for Exceeding Expectations, “She (Ms. Smith) has a brilliance for conveying characters, and the intellectual capacity to place them in historical settings that sparkle with glamorous detail . . . that make it fun to read . . . ” But it takes much more than lush settings, an eye for detail and a love of history to write a page-turner. Read what another reviewer said about Exceeding Expectations: “Lisa April Smith . . . has woven an intriguingly rich tapestry of delightful well-developed characters into a perfectly balanced plot bursting with riveting mystery, crimes of the petty and the horrible sort, suspenseful twists, and romantic tension complete with love scenes that sizzle and pop. . . Clearly, this author has, and wishes to share with her readers, what the French call joie de vivre  – not simply the joy of life – but an all-encompassing appreciation for every facet of life.”

For more about Lisa, her books, and upcoming projects visit her website:
Lisa April Smith can be contacted at WriteLisa(at)LisaAprilSmith(dot)com  

Today, as part of her Virtual Book Tour, I have the pleasure of hosting author Lisa April Smith.  Welcome, Lisa.   
A:  Thank you for inviting me, Heather. Delighted to be here. 
Q. When you’re not writing, what you enjoy doing to relax?
I love travelling outside the US – which we do from time to time, when I can convince He-Who-Wishes-To-Remain-Anonymous to cooperate. However, if you’re talking about everyday activities, I read, watch reruns of “30 Rock,” play golf, tend to my cactus and orchids, visit museums, talk on the phone with my kids, volunteer tutor at an afterschool program and do laundry. While most people consider laundry a tedious chore, I find filling and emptying the washer/drier an excellent mindless break. Ironing? Not so much.   
Q. I’m sure fans would like to know, did you always want to be a writer?

I always knew that I could write, but I understood enough about the field to understand that the risks were enormous – that many writers devoted years of “blood, sweat and tears” to projects that never sold. Being a realist, and someone who likes to pay the rent and eat regularly, I didn’t allow myself to consider writing fiction until I could afford to.

Q. If you could spend an hour with any author, dead or alive, who would that be and why did you choose him/her? 
A. Tough decision. I think if I had to choose one it would be Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens). He was a brilliant author, entertaining speaker and daring social commentator. Portraying black characters as brave, loyal, admirable human beings with souls, he took a stand against slavery and social injustice. Black or white, his characters were memorable, flawed and real.  Clemens’ life was dotted with failures, loss and personal tragedy, but he was known for his wit and engaging disposition. How I would love to sit down with him one lazy afternoon for an unhurried chat.      
Q. How would you describe your approach to writing? Are you a "fly by the seat of your pants" or a "plot and outline" type?

I’m a former IBMer. When it comes to work, I don’t do things “by the seat of my pants.” I define significant characters and sketch out plots beforehand. Except when we’re traveling, five to six days a week, I’m at my desk about 7:00 am. Some people call it drive, discipline or dedication. Personally, I think it’s a clear sign of a compulsive disorder.    

Q. Because I enjoy finding out what people love apart from books, tell us - what are some of the things that you love?

First off, I adore my family. Next comes friends. I want to know how they’re all doing. Whatever they want to share. The highs. The lows. The funny anecdotes. The complaints. The promotions, awards, glowing praise, weddings and new babies. The rotten colds and dreaded illnesses. If they just need a sympathetic ear or my help. Life is not a spectator sport. I want to be on the field, in the action.  

Under subjects, in no particular order, I love learning about history, psychology, anthropology, sociology, archeology, outer space, reading the best examples of any book genre and art. I enjoy the widest variety of music including: Country and Western, jazz, opera (light and serious), Broadway, Rhythm and Blues, Flamenco, Classical Guitar, Blue Grass and Indian ragas. Doubtless I’ve forgotten a few.

After giving your question a lot of thought, I’ve concluded that my passions could be reduced to this. I love learning about human achievements and all facets of human behavior, past and present.

Q. Where do you get your inspiration?
A. My books are generally inspired by media coverage of events and people that I find intriguing. In 1998, Florida television and newspapers were reporting a story of a local Palm Beach socialite (ironically named Fagan) arrested for kidnapping his daughters eighteen years earlier, when they were 2 and 5 years old. The primary reason that it had taken eighteen years to find Fagan was that he had successfully reinvented himself. As William S. Martin, a handsome widower with two young daughters and no apparent means of support, Fagan had met and married a wealthy Palm Beach widow. After their divorce, another affluent woman agreed to wed and maintain his family’s plush lifestyle.
Neighbors, friends and the teachers at the girls’ tony private school all described him as “likeable,” “charming” and “devoted father.” Throughout his arrest and subsequent proceedings, his loyal third wife steadfastly stood by him, as did both daughters. Perhaps what most surprised people who followed the case was that the girls’ mother, a research scientist teaching at the University of Virginia, through the media and her attorney, repeatedly begged her daughters to meet with her and they refused. To my knowledge, that continues to this day.
As I was following the case I found myself thinking that there was an even juicier story behind this headline-grabber and set out to create one. I began with a few core facts. A man with an invented name and history, twice married to wealthy widows, living in Palm Beach, playground of the mega-rich and famous, and involved in a crime. Two adoring daughters unaware of their true identities. Over time my imagination happily supplied the rest. A townhouse off Fifth Avenue. A sprawling estate in Virginia. Romantic Paris in the years prior to WWII. A riveting past for Jack Morgan: skilled lover, lack-luster artist and irresistible rascal. A full-blown range of challenges and hard-wrought triumphs for his traumatized daughter Charlotte (Charlie). 
Q. If Exceeding Expectations was made into movie, have you given any thought as to casting?
A. That’s a question often put to me at book events. I can see George Clooney as Jack Morgan at fifty. He has the talent to play serious and comedic roles, and the looks and sex appeal to play Jack. The problem is, what actor could make viewers believe that he’s George Clooney at twenty-five and thirty? Maybe false eyelashes would help. Deborah Previte, the Bookish Dame, thinks Andy Garcia is a Raul Francesco clone. I’d love to hear suggestions from readers. As for my heroine Charlie, I see a young Gwyneth Paltrow playing her. Sadly, I don’t know how to turn back time in real life.     
Q. I've heard that Exceeding Expectations has a sequel. Can you tell us the title and when it's going to be available?

The title is Paradise Misplaced (another playful reference to an iconic book). I can’t say with certainty when it’s going to be available. I suggest fans check my website for the latest information. The one thing I can say about it with certainty is, “I promise a page-turner fun ride.” 

About Exceeding Expectations
            It’s 1961 and Palm Beach socialite, irresistible rascal and devoted father Jack Morgan encounters genuine danger while staging his suicide to shield his beloved daughters from disgrace. Next, meet his daughter Charlotte (Charlie), an over-indulged 23 year-old struggling to cope with the traumatizing loss of her beloved father, her sister’s resulting mental breakdown and the discovery that she’s suddenly penniless. Fortunately Raul, an admiring young attorney, appears to offer assistance. As terrified as she is about daily survival, Charlie soon realizes that she has to learn what drove her father to kill himself. With Raul’s much needed ego-bolstering, the drive of necessity and unforeseen determination, Charlie finds a practical use for her annoyingly lean 5’ 11” frame. In time, this career finances her hard-wrought independence, her sister’s costly treatment and an emotional eye-opening journey to Paris.
            Jumping back in time to romantic pre-WWII Paris, readers meet young Alan Fitzpatrick – aka Jack Morgan – lack-luster artist and expert lover and the bewitching girl who will become the mother of his children. Not even Charlie’s relentless detective work will uncover all Jack’s secrets, but in a fireworks of surprise endings, she discovers all that she needs to know and more:  disturbing truths about her father, her own unique talent, crimes great and small and a diabolical villain. 

Chapter One of  
Exceeding Expectations

January 2, 1962
       Glancing down at the Porsche’s speedometer Jack eased up on the gas. The nearest car was a mile back, but a cop could be hiding around the next bend. Being stopped by the police did not fit into Jack’s plan. He blamed the excitement. And guilt. Composing the single page to his daughters had been agony. There was no nice way to say he intended to kill himself. There were no comforting euphemisms for suicide. No words to excuse a mortal sin. And worst of all, no way to ease the pain his beloved girls would experience. But they, and everyone else, had to believe his intention was absolute and irreversible or the plan would fail. After several miserable gut-wrenching attempts, Jack wrote how much he loved them and said that this was something he had to do to protect them. 
       Knowing he could rely on Petal’s steely strength, Jack’s letter to his wife was more direct. He had explained that he was doing this to save her and his girls from scandal and disgrace. And as he was making this noble sacrifice, he knew she could be relied on to be good to his daughters. Petal might not be the maternal sort, but no one could accuse her of being tight-fisted. After reading the letter, his dying declaration, and waiting for two Chivas Regal’s straight to take effect, she would call a few select members of her powerful family, and her attorney. The results of those calls would be a discreet obituary in The New York Times, another in the local paper, hinting at a long-term debilitating disease, and no further investigation. A quiet memorial service would be held in Manhattan, Petal’s preferred place of residence, and she would be stunning in black for the next six to ten weeks, depending on her social calendar.
       The best thing about his plan was its simplicity. He would wait until two or three in the morning when the roads would be deserted, park the car on the middle of a bridge and disappear into the night. The bridge and town had been carefully selected – less than a five-mile walk to the railroad to prevent someone later recalling giving a lift to a stranger. And the town had to be small – an insignificant speck on the map. The smaller the town, Jack had reasoned, the less sophisticated the police force. Fielding, Florida, a town that lacked a drug store, supermarket, bank, and beauty parlor was ideal. Serious crime in Fielding probably consisted of intimidating the kids who tipped over outhouses on Halloween and jailing the same town drunk every Friday night. A costly abandoned car, coupled with the later discovered suicide notes, guaranteed Jack would be the topic of intense gossip for years, and the object of a bumbling investigation for no more than a week. The Porsche would get more attention than the lack of a corpse in an area where alligators outnumbered house pets, and a Ford with all four fenders intact was considered a damned fine automobile.
      Once he boarded a train he’d be fine. Men who rode the rails kept secrets. They were members of a tribe of vagabonds who preferred the town around the next curve – adventurous men ready to share a pot of tramp stew with another kindred spirit. And he was eager to join them. For the last two and half decades, his life had revolved around his girls. Jack had chosen that life and never once regretted it. A man couldn’t have finer daughters than Amelia and Charlotte. But they were grown now and maybe he had earned himself a change. He thought he might head for Texas, a leviathan-sized state where a man’s past was not apt to be questioned. And Texas was known for its horses. He loved horses — riding them, watching them trot, canter, toss their heads, nurse their foals. Gorgeous, glorious creatures they were.
        After several hours of driving through towns too small to boast a stop sign, Jack reached his destination. A weather-beaten building with a concave roof housed the grocery that doubled as Fielding’s post office. He gave his letters to a leathery man behind the counter and gazed at a jar of pickles with interest. He had been so focused on reaching his destination he had forgotten to eat lunch. “Is there a place around here to get something to eat?” “Just Wiley’s. Kind of a bar/restaurant down the street. Lost its sign in the last hurricane, but you’ll find it.”  
      An orange neon light in the window erratically flickered Budweiser. Jack glanced inside. It was more bar than restaurant, and grimy. Lacking an alternative, he entered. A wall of vacant knotty-pine booths faced a long bar backed by a mirror so streaked with fly droppings and smoke, that reflected images appeared cloudy. Five or six patrons turned to note his presence and then quickly resumed what they had been doing. Jack proceeded to the bar’s last booth and took a seat where he could oversee the comings and goings. The gym bag containing twenty-seven thousand dollars he stowed under the table. 
      A blowsy overweight waitress with an elaborate hairdo and a too-tight skirt approached. “Need a menu?” she asked as she wiped the table with a dingy towel.
      “What time do you stop serving food?”
      “The kitchen closes at eight.”
      Jack removed his buck suede jacket and placed it on the seat beside him. Assuming this place closed at midnight, he had five long hours to kill. “Bring me a draft beer and a hamburger. And if you could spare a newspaper, I’d appreciate it.”
      She soon returned with his beer and a ten-page weekly tabloid filled with notices of church events, and feed and grain ads. It was a typical weekday night in a small town bar: plenty of griping and boasting, lengthy recitations of what could have been and should have been, a few stale jokes, more men than women, a lot of talk, little action.
      “Would you turn up the radio?” a customer called from the far end of the bar. “That’s me and Wanda’s favorite song.”
      The bartender adjusted the dial. A twangy melancholy western tune drowned out the dull background noise.    
      “Turn it down! Turn that blasted thing down!” several customers shouted in unison. 
      The bartender found an agreeable level of volume and conversation resumed. It started to rain about nine — a light drizzle at first and then a steady hard-driving downpour. On her return trip from the ladies room, a woman in her late thirties, attractive in a tired way, paused to inquire if Jack would be in town for a while. He politely explained that he was just passing through and she rejoined her companions at the bar. 
      “That would be eighty cents, including the beer. Would you mind settling up now?” the waitress asked at nine-thirty. “I’m leaving in a few minutes. Buddy, that’s the bartender, he’ll take care of you. I’m going home to my kids.” Jack handed her a dollar and told her to keep the change. At ten o’clock Jack went to the men’s room and ducked into a stall. Removing the bills from the gym bag Jack distributed them around the money belt. Twenty-seven thousand dollars. Money painstakingly gleaned from his checking account in amounts that wouldn’t later arouse suspicion. It wouldn’t finance the way of life he had been enjoying very long, but it could buy ten new Chevrolets. More than enough for a fresh start.
      Customers, who had been checking their watches and shaking their heads for the last hour or more, decided the rain was not going to let up. One by one, they finished their beers, turned up their collars, cursed the weather and dashed into the street. 
      “Last call,” the owner announced to Jack and two stragglers. “Closing at eleven cause of this miserable weather.” 
      “No more for me. I gotta go to work tomorrow,” the older of the two remaining men announced. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and paid his tab. Jack closed his eyes and listened to rain pounding the wood roof. The last customer drank his beer and stared out the front window at the unrelenting downpour. He was about Jack’s size and weight, somewhere in his twenties – a kid. His light brown hair was home-cut and in need of a trim. His pants were deeply creased and stained with what Jack guessed to be grease. A handyman, or maybe a mechanic who worked nearby.
      Jack grabbed the empty gym bag, handed a dollar bill to the bartender, and headed for the door. The kid blocked the exit.
      “My truck’s about a mile or so down the road. It weren’t raining when I started out. I’d be grateful, mister, if you could give me a ride,” the kid said.
      Jack appraised the kid grinning back at him. Crooked teeth vied with one another for space, and his tired green eyes spoke of a resilience born of hardship. The faded denim shirt he wore over a grimy T-shirt would provide no protection from the cold and rain. Jack looked at the bartender owner hoping for some indication that this kid was a local, but the bartender was busy counting the day’s receipts. “You having any trouble with that truck?” Jack tapped his chest. “This old ticker of mine doesn’t work as good as it used to,” he lied. “If you need a hand with that truck, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to help.”
       “I got no trouble with the truck. Runs dandy,” he assured Jack. “I left it at a farmhouse to be unloaded. Sold them folks a cord of firewood. But they had to unload and stack it theirselves. That was the deal. They unload it and stack it theirselves whilst I go into town.”
      Jack weighed the risk. He had twenty-seven thousand dollars in the money belt, but this kid didn’t know that. All he knew was that it was pouring, it was cold and he needed a ride. Eleven o’clock was far too early for Jack to carry out his plan. All that awaited him was two or three hours of boredom in a parked car. “What’s your name, kid?” 
      “Folks mostly call me Iowa.”
      “My name’s Jack and the Porsche across the street is mine. Wait here. No sense both of us getting soaked.” By the time Jack reached the car and jumped in, his hair and clothes were drenched. Mostly Iowa had fared little better. “Which direction?” Jack asked his passenger. 
      “You’re headin’ the right way. Just follow the road a piece. I’ll tell you where to turn.”
      “Is it on the left or the right?”
      “I expect you live around here.”
      “Just passin’ through.”
      They soon left the residential part of town. The driving rain and incessant flip-flop flip-flop of the windshield wipers blurred his vision. Jack tried the high beams and quickly switched back. Pointing to a dim light on what appeared to be a house he asked, “It that it?”
      “Nope. That ain’t it. It’s up yonder a bit.”
      “When I first saw you, Iowa, I said to myself, now there’s a fellow who knows his way around cars. You a mechanic?”
      “I fiddled with cars some. Nothing as swanky as this.”  
      For the next two or three miles there wasn’t a break in the road — not a path, planted field, farmhouse or shed, only endless sawgrass and pine trees. “That had to be some hike into town. Are you sure we didn’t pass it? You did say it was on the left?”
      “Yep. On the left.”
      While Jack had been struggling to locate the elusive house and truck, Mostly Iowa had been facing right. Damn! What an idiot he had been! A solitary man wearing expensive clothes and a flashy gold watch. A new Porsche – obviously his. A mysterious gym bag that had never left his side. A transient loner who needed a ride.  “We must have passed it. I’m going to turn around.” 
      “Just pull over here!” Mostly Iowa’s eyes were cold. His right hand expertly cradled a knife.
      Targeted like a deer by a hungry kid. Stalked! Jack’s foot remained on the accelerator. “You don’t want to do this, Iowa. How about I slow down to ten, fifteen miles an hour and you jump out? We part friends and forget this ever happened.”
      “You stop this here car or I’ll stick you like a pig. It wouldn’t bother me none to kill you.”
      Now Jack was a man who liked a good laugh as much as the next guy, but irony had its place. Dying the very night he scheduled his fake suicide was not his idea of a joke.  Iowa grabbed Jack’s right arm. “Stop this car or I’ll cut out your gizzard and leave it for the birds.” 
      “I’m not stopping the car as long as you got that knife,” Jack said in a calm friendly voice. He could feel the frightening tip of the steel blade through his suede jacket. “Toss it out the window and I’ll stop the car.”
      Iowa grabbed the steering wheel. The Porsche hydroplaned and fish-tailed, barely avoiding trees on both sides of the road.
      By intuitively releasing his grip, the finely engineered racing car realigned itself. Jack glanced at his passenger looking for some hint of humanity, still hoping to change the kid’s mind, yet very much aware of the danger. “You’re going to get us both killed. We’re doing twenty miles an hour. The ground is soft from the rain. Open the door and roll out.”
      “Not a chance in hell, you miserable fuck. You’re going to die.”
      The knife slashed the jacket and dug into the money belt. If it weren’t for the thick wad of bills, the blade would be boring into his rib cage. Jack deliberately swerved the car right and then left. Iowa grabbed the wheel. Using the butt of his right fist Jack smashed his attacker’s hand. Iowa howled with pain and dropped the knife. He alternated curses with punches aimed at Jack’s head.
      Jack fought to simultaneously keep the car on the road with his left hand and ward off his attacker with his right. A pothole caught Iowa off balance. He slid away. Jack used the opportunity to use the bent right arm that had been guarding his chest and lash out, landing an explosive blow with his clenched fist. He could feel the bridge of Iowa’s nose collapse, hear the bones crack.
      “Goddamn you! You jackass. You busted my nose!” Iowa fumbled beneath the seat.
      Seeing the dreaded knife reappear, Jack made the only decision left. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He braced himself and floored the Porsche, aiming the passenger side at a massive oak tree. Iowa reached for the wheel again, too late. The car hit the tree with a violent jolt, throwing both men forward. A branch smashed the windshield a microsecond before Jack’s head reached it. The glass shattered harmlessly, but his chest had struck the steering wheel with an impact that left him gasping for air. The motor groaned and sputtered as Jack waited with his eyes closed. His chest ached with every breath. Tentatively touching his forehead he discovered a swelling throbbing bump. Jack opened his eyes. Mostly Iowa had not fared as well. He lay slumped against the door. Blood from the broken nose bathed his face, neck, and shirt. Jack didn’t know if he was dead or unconscious, but he wouldn’t be a threat for a while.
      “Why didn’t you jump when you had the chance?” Jack asked the limp figure. “Soon as I find out what kind of shape I’m in, I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with you. If I can walk back to town, I’ll send someone out to help. And that’s better than you deserve, you dumb bastard, considering you were trying to kill me.”
      Limb by limb, joint by joint, Jack tested his extremities. His arms, hands, and fingers moved, painfully, but they didn’t appear to be broken. He flexed one leg and then the other. “My legs seem okay,” he informed his silent companion. His chest and shoulders ached. “Probably cracked a few ribs and there’s a buzzing in my ears. Going to be sore for a while, as well as black and blue, but I’m alive. What about it, Iowa? You going to make it?”
      Jack leaned across the inert body expecting to hear a heartbeat. Nothing. Silence. The kid was dead! Jesus Christ! He hadn’t intended to kill the kid. His goal had been to prevent his own imminent demise.
      “Now look what you did, Iowa. You tried to kill me and you ended up killing yourself. God damn dumb kid!” he said to keep his teeth from chattering. “God damn dumb kid!” His entire right side throbbed and he was trembling. “Got to get out of here.”
      He tried the door handle. It turned, but the bowed door would not budge. He threw all his weight against it and grimaced. It groaned in sympathy and swung open causing him to crash onto the muddy ground. The rain had subsided to a trickle. Jack wiped his hands on soggy moss and sat down to think beside the demolished car.
      There was nothing more that could be done for Iowa. His problems were over. Jack’s problems had tripled. In a day or two, Petal and the girls would read the letters he had mailed. A first-class plan wiped out because he wanted to help out a dumb kid. Okay, he told himself, if faking his suicide by leaving the Porsche on a bridge was no longer possible, he simply needed a new plan. A new plan. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Porsche would be traced to him. They would find a dead kid in his car. If he disappeared now he would be accused of murder. Unless . . . Unless  . . . Iowa was about his size. The police would assume the body belonged to Jack Morgan if – if it was unrecognizable. But how? The car and its contents would have to be burnt beyond recognition. He could do that. Provided he kept calm, and no one came along in the interim, it was a good alternative plan.   
      Jack removed the ruined suede jacket. It could go on the corpse. A scrap of burnt suede would add to the illusion, as would his wedding band. He had intended to sell it before he reached Texas, but it would be better used now. As he removed the ring he noticed his prized gold watch. They might look for it. It was too bad about the watch, but it too had to go. 
      The tight quarters inside the crumpled Porsche, coupled with Jack’s reluctance to touch the bloody corpse made the exchange time consuming, exhausting, and grisly. As a final touch, Jack traded shoes with the dead man before shoving him into position behind the wheel. 
      An hour had passed since the crash and no one had driven by. His luck was holding. Now he needed matches. Matches or a cigarette lighter. His pockets yielded neither. His plan would fail because he lacked a pack of matches that every bar and restaurant supplied free. Think, he told himself. There had to be a solution. The Porsche’s cigarette lighter. Would it still work? Leaning over Iowa’s body, Jack located it and pressed it. Thirty seconds later it popped out glowing red. God bless the Germans! Every twenty or thirty years, it took a war to remind them who was boss, but they sure knew how to build a car. Jack looked for something to start the fire. Downed branches were too wet. A dry rag. He kept a towel in the trunk.
      Jack walked to the rear of the car to unlock the trunk but it wouldn’t release. He kicked it with his heel. Another sharp kick. The trunk creaked open. A white, still-folded hand towel lay tucked in a corner. A few more minutes and it would be over.
      He stuffed as much of the towel as would fit into the gas tank, then replaced the ignition key. As he was about to press the cigarette lighter he remembered the knife. What if it were found with the remains? Palm beach socialite Jack Morgan didn’t carry a switchblade. He would have to find it. Ten minutes passed as he searched the car and the corpse. He was about to give up when he felt it lodged under the passenger seat. He folded it, tucked it into his belt, and inserted the dependable lighter. 
      Half a football field away Jack leaned against a tree and waited. Several times the flame appeared to die, only to flare up again. And then the rag ignited with an enormous pop – followed by ear-splitting thunder. Roaring flames, the height of a church steeple leapt from the car’s rear. Jack could no longer make out Iowa’s silhouette in the flames. Just a few more minutes, he told himself. The smoke and heat from the blaze reddened his face and seared his lungs. When it was time to leave Jack strode away in Iowa’s ill-fitting shoes, away from the wrecked Porsche, the town of Fielding, and his past. Then he heard it. A train whistle. The magical hollow sound of a train whistle. And it wasn’t far off. Damn, if he wasn’t a lucky so-and-so. One of God’s favorite children. Jesus tolerated the pious, sober, and abstinent. Yes, He tolerated the tiresome righteous and their smug unforgiving Christian smiles. And He had little pity for the tyrant, the merciless, and the cruel. But Jesus loved the ordinary sinner. Isn’t that what the bible taught? The Almighty loved sinners. Without sinners there would have been no reason for Jesus to come to earth and experience the joy and pain of mortals.   
      Intoxicating freedom mingled with the chilling air. Jack could forget the chafing money belt, cheap ill-fitting shoes, sore feet, and aching muscles. He had a new name and a thousand new possibilities. The next time he found himself with a drink in his hand he would remember Iowa and raise his glass to the tragic dumb kid. 
      “This one’s for you, Iowa, you miserable misguided creature,” he would say. “May the good Lord take mercy on your soul and your time in Purgatory be brief.”




Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Night Rising
Book 1—Vampire Babylon Series
By Chris Marie Green
Reviewed by Daniel L. Baldwin



In this first book of an all-new trilogy, life proves stranger than the movies when a Hollywood underground coven of vampires comes to light-and gets targeted by the tough-as-nails daughter of a sexy screen siren. 

Stuntwoman Dawn Madison hasn't been on the best of terms with her father since her movie star mother died. Still, he is her dad, and when he vanishes while investigating the bizarre sighting-caught on film-of a supposedly long-dead child star, she comes home to Tinseltown to join the search for him. Working with his odd colleagues, she discovers an erotic and bloody underground society made up of creatures she thought existed only on the screen.

            This book does not disappoint—it is a page turner from page 1.  Those of you that like reading stories on Vampires this series is for you.  The first book introduces us to Dawn Madison, who has returned to Los Angeles, CA to help find her missing father—Frank Madison—nobody knows what happened to Frank and have not been able to locate him.  This first book also introduces us to the Underground—the world of vampires—what goes on in their world below LA.  As Dawn, Breisi, and Kiko (a psychic) start looking for Frank, they come across the guardians—a hybrid breed of vampires—their only task is to protect the underground from being discovered—a confrontation between them and the Paranormal Investigation team from Limpet and Associates leaves Dawn and her colleagues—Breisi and Kiko injured and no closer to finding Frank than they were when Dawn first returned to LA.  This is a must read for those of us that are drawn to the world of Vampires—this gives you a peek into the underground world of the vampire world.  I am looking forward to reading the remaining five books in this series to see how everything turns out—see if Dawn will be able to find her missing father, Frank before it is too late.  This first book keeps the reader intrigued and wondering what is going to happen next.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat.

This is Heather; I’m adding that we are giving this a 5 Fairy review for the edge of seat page turns.



Gone Reading Website


To all my followers, I was contacted by Bradley S. Wirz founder and CEO  of this company-

They are offering a special coupon of 25% off anything on their site except for their bookends for my followers.
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Here is their mission statement:
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So take a moment and check out this great site for a great cause.

Heather Powers

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Night Sky Blog Tour Stop


Today, I’m welcoming Jolene Perry to my blog for the Night Sky Blog Tour. Please enjoy reading Jolene’s Guest Post below.

The Importance of Putting a Little Bit of YOU in What You Write

When I first started writing, I tried to really WRITE.

I wanted interesting words, and vivid descriptions, and dramatic characters, and it all came off sounding a little juvenile. And more than that, like I was just trying too hard.

It took me a long time to find my voice as a writer, and it happened when a story was SO close to my heart, that I couldn't be anyone but ME when I was writing. Consequently, it was the first project I did in present tense. I CAN write in past tense, and still feel like I'M in there, but it doesn't come as naturally to me.

I think it takes a lot of time, and a lot of playing around with tenses, and stories, and characters to find a way to let yourself come through what you've written. And your writing "voice" is really one of those BIG things that separates books that get published, versus books that don't.

The other thing that helped me find my writing voice is blogging. I know some writers who scoff at blogging, but it does SO much for helping me keep my writing true to me, and true to my language. Because I think when you're trying to come off as someone you aren't, you're not going to be as successful as you could be when your personality comes through. 

I'm not sure about anyone else, but i want a little insight into the author whether I'm reading their blog, or their novel. I'm definitely IN everything I write.

Thanks so much for turning your blog over for a day!!

~ Jolene

Night Sky web site:

Night Sky Twitter hashtag:

Night Sky GoodReads page:

Jolene Perry's Facebook:

Jolene Perry's Twitter:!/JoleneBPerry

Jolene Perry's Website:

Jolene Perry's Blog:

Jolene Perry's GoodReads:

Tribute Books website:

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Night Sky Summary

After losing Sarah, the friend he’s loved, to some other guy, Jameson meets Sky. Her Native American roots, fluid movements, and need for brutal honesty become addictive fast. This is good. Jameson needs distraction – his dad leaves for another woman, his mom’s walking around like a zombie, and Sarah’s new boyfriend can’t keep his hands off of her.

As he spends time with Sky and learns about her village, her totems, and her friends with drums - she's way more than distraction. Jameson's falling for her fast.

But Sky’s need for honesty somehow doesn’t extend to her life story – and Jameson just may need more than his new girl to keep him distracted from the disaster of his senior year.

Jolene Perry's Bio:

Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.

After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.

She is also the author of The Next Door Boys and the upcoming Knee Deep.

ISBN: 9780983741862
ISBN: 9781466052338
Pages: 247
Release: March 1, 2012


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lea Ryan Interview and Giveaway of The Lair of the White Wyrm

Today, I'm welcoming Lea Ryan to my blog for an interview and Book Giveaway of her book Lair of the White Wyrm. She has graciously offered 3 e copies of her book to 3 lucky winners. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. If it doesn't work for some reason, just leave a comment on this blog posting and answer the questions, what do you fear??

Lea Ryan


Lair of the White Wyrm

By Lea Ryan

Sometimes when you run from your problems, they follow you.

Eric Duncan wants nothing more than to be an ordinary, sane guy. He believes he can escape his troubled past by leaving home. However, the voice in his head, that of his dead friend Benjamin, fights him every step of the way.

Eric finds his new home is a place filled with secrets far darker than his own. A monster prowls the grounds, and it wants to keep him close.

He will discover that his inner demons aren’t the only things he should fear. In order to confront the wyrm and survive, he must also face the worst parts of himself.

Available on:

What inspired you to become a writer??

Creative outlets keep me sane. I have a lot of mental energy that needs to go somewhere, I guess. I wrote creatively as a kid and then took a long hiatus during my teenager years and some of my twenties. I can’t remember the moment I decided I was going to write books. It was probably a gradual thing that progressed into obsession. Now I can’t imagine not writing.

What character(s) of your book(s) do you most relate to??

If we’re talking Lair of the White Wyrm, I can relate to most of the characters in some kind of way. The people in the story are like amped up versions of components of my personality. I’ve felt uncertainty like Eric’s and energy like Chelsea’s. I think they’re easily relatable characters, for the most part. Arkwell fears death and loss. Isabella has had her heart broken. They all have very human conditions.

How do you visualize your stories? By dreams? Inner monologue with your characters, dreams, etc.?

My stories run through my head like movies. I write down what the characters say and do. The story is usually pretty vivid in my mind. Is that weird? It’s probably weird. I’m going to guess that it comes from watching far too many movies and TV shows.

That method is really useful when I need to experiment with different courses of action. I can mentally run through a scene before I actually write it.

What is your writing ritual? Music?? Silence? Meditation?

I write with some music on and the headphones in. The music selection is usually classical, but I also have a thing for electronica. Instrumental is a requirement. When I hear someone singing, it interferes with whatever I try to type. I lose my train of thought.

What inspired you to write Lair of the White Wyrm?

Lair of the White Wyrm was inspired by Bram Stoker’s final novel.  The original book is a dark story with interesting characters. The worm (Stoker’s spelling) itself was a good premise for a story. Her name in that book is Lady Arabella. She has very human desires in respect to a man and money. She interacts with the people around her.

I thought there were some issues with the original plot, which I’ve seen echoed by reviewers on Amazon. It’s very scattered with too much going on. There’s a lot of disconnect that makes the story difficult to understand in spots. The fact that some editor sliced out like 5 chapters in a later version didn’t help matters. I think that second version is the one I read. The story jumped from Adam (protagonist) barely knowing a woman to him being in love with her and wanting to marry her. It was very strange.

If you could be a book genre? Which one would you choose and why?

If I could be a book genre, I would probably choose paranormal romance. I love horror, but I wouldn’t want to be horror. Paranormal romance is nice because there’s a balance between romance and adventure. They’re fun to read.

What knowledge do you want to share with aspiring authors like myself??

Be yourself. Always be open to learning from others, but don’t try too hard to emulate. Also, don’t write any story you aren’t completely in love with because a lack of enthusiasm shows.

That felt very “mom”.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things would you bring and why??

I would take the most awesome tent I could find because I’m really sort of an inside girl. Being outside for a long period of time is not always wonderful for me. I do go hiking and I ride my bike sometimes, but there’s always an inside to which I can return at the end.

I think I would need one of those satellite phones so I could call people. I like being alone, but I need people around, occasionally.

A stack of notebooks. For writing and drawing on.

Pens. For writing and drawing with.

And a volleyball so I can make a “Wilson”.

What other books do you have to write or be written in the horizon??

I am very excited about my next project. I can’t say too much about it for now, because the release is too far off for such things. I will say that it involves a fallen angel and a cult. It won’t be a graphic novel, but I want it to have that feel, a kind of hip (only old people say “hip”),  edgy, fast-paced with a fair amount of action.

If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead? Who would it be and why??

I would have dinner with Edgar Allan Poe just to see how his mind works. The way he was able to string words together was amazing. I would also ask what the heck happened to him before he died. They say that he was found incoherent and wandering the streets wearing someone else’s clothes, and then he died!

If you could time travel, what time period would you go to and why??

I have a thing for the 1800s, so probably somewhere in there. I like how when that time period is portrayed, everyone is formally dressed. Also, there’s something innately creepy about those times too, maybe because of some of the writing. Lovecraft, Poe, Mary Shelley, Stoker. It was like the golden age of gothic.

How do you write your books?? By the seat of your pants? Or is it plotted out in advance??

I plan meticulously. Trust me, it’s better that way. If I just wrote with no sense of where I was going, they story would be a mess. I would forget details. I would wander off in the wrong direction. I need to have everything in order before I begin. The planning takes a while, but the advantage is that I never get writer’s block.

How many books in the future do you see in the Lair of the White Wyrm?

Lair of the White Wyrm was probably a one shot deal. I liked it very much, and I did leave it open in case I decide I want to return to it, but for now, I have no plans for a sequel. We’ll see, though. You never know what the future holds.

Here is a twist...5 words or less, what comes to your mind first??

Rainbow – Rainbow Brite. I had one.

Moon – Dog. A tavern & musician.

Fantasy – Game of Thrones. Love it.

Sanity – Can I have some?

Panther – Bagheera of the Jungle Book.

Feel free to add any information that you feel I left out here. Please include your social media links.

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