Interview with Up and Coming Author, Elle Klass


Elle Klass quickly made it onto my list of favorite authors with her masterful ability to spin a suspense-laden tale with endearing real-life protagonists. “As Snow Falls,” a touching fictitious memoir is one of my all time favorite; her “Baby Girl” series is an enjoyable, suspenseful tale of a girl who was abandoned as a young adolescent and left to fend for herself; and her new series, “Eye of the Storm”, is a dark, sinister, paranormal thriller with tremendous potential you’ll definitely be hearing more about soon.

I’d read the “Baby Girl” stories as they were released and was delighted to read them again in their re-release format as a box set. Elle has added a few bonuses to this version including additional scenes which round out the story even more and awesome new covers. What I enjoyed the most about having the four episodes together was being able to read them all as a single, contiguous tale. When I read them separately with various other books to say nothing of my own writing in between I tended to forget who some of the supporting characters were and other important details. Thus, being able to enjoy the stories as an integrated saga enhanced my enjoyment considerably.

Elle’s characters are not only memorable but seem so real you expect to run into them at the grocery store. They quickly attach themselves to your heart as you vicariously share their adventures, heartbreaks, dilemmas and triumphs. If you’re looking for a gripping read that sucks you into the story to the exclusion of everything else, then look no further than one of Elle’s stories.

Now let’s get to know the woman behind them a little better…

MF: How long have you been writing? Was there anything in particular that got you started?

EK: I’ve been writing since I was a teen. It was something that relaxed me and I enjoyed it. I still enjoy it today. I started with corny poetry and moved into novels.

MF: Do your characters come to you fully developed or do you gradually get to know them?

EK: Gradually we get to know each other. I have a basic idea but once I start writing they take on a persona of their own. I go with it. If I try and fight it the book stalls and dies. The characters run the story and I’ve learned to let them. Cleo is a great example because she has not only developed but grown and matured through the course of the books. When I began writing the shorts I had no idea what twists and turns she’d take, often lollygagging as a teen/new adult.

MF: Cleo is a fascinating multi-dimensional protagonist who develops quite naturally through her adventures. Did she ever surprise you and if so how?

EK: Many times! She’s independent and won’t listen to me or succumb to her love interests. Meeting Fetch and her reaction was a huge surprise. She’s at Happy Trails enjoying a beer and starts dancing. Until that point I didn’t know she could then she gets hit on by a man beyond gorgeous and walks away. There are many times I feel the need to parent her but she won’t listen.

MF: LOL! You’ve gotta love strong-willed characters! So how are you like Cleo? How are you different?

EK: Like Cleo I’m stubborn and independent. My life hasn’t always been easy and I’ve learned to take the hard road. Even now I chose to be an indie author – one of the most difficult professions to make a living at, however, that doesn’t stop me. It’s my passion and the incentive that keeps me striving for more. Cleo uses her stubborn independence to track down the dirty details of her familial beginnings. Our similarities end there.

Cleo loves to cook – I hate it. She loses focus with her task – My sights are set dead on. She can’t let go of Einstein and her past – I let mine drop like a lead weight and have felt amazing since.

MF: Besides Cleo who’s your favorite character in this series?

EK: La Tige. Love him! As an ex-cop he’s got a tough man exterior, and has his own secrets which Cleo gets a glimpse of in “City by the Bay.” She’s too focused on finding answers to her mystery such that the information she finds slips past her. He tests Cleo’s limits almost to the point of his own pleasure yet he adores her.

MF: I, also, loved La Tige! Fabulous character. Did you know how Cleo’s saga would end from the start or did it evolve?

EK: I wrote a rough draft several years ago and the two parts I knew when I finished writing were the beginning and the end. The in between was raw but once I decided to work on the story it filled itself in. The Box Set includes an epilogue and prologue not found in the shorts. It is still very much like the original rough draft with editing. It is my original vision which started the series.

MF: Do you come up with a premise, i.e. “What if…” first or a character with a story to tell?

EK: “What if” comes first, the characters come in when I least expect it. Didier was a surprise, Kacy, Fetch, Halette, Slug’s brother. They weren’t even a thought when I first drafted.

MF: I love it when that happens. Walk-on characters add so much depth and reality to a story. What’s your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite?

EK: My favorite part is getting on my computer in my comfy stretch shorts or pants and drifting into my own world full of vibrant characters. Their actions and twists their choices make in the story keeps me pegged.

My least favorite part used to be editing but I’ve learned to enjoy it and use it as a means to write and learn more. I think my least favorite at this moment in time is the process of formatting and uploading. It’s not difficult to do and I feel a sense of accomplishment but it’s mundane.

MF: I agree that formatting can be a challenge. How do you think your writing has evolved?

EK: I’ve learned to write more action as opposed to prose. I catch a lot of my grammar crutches right away. I’m learning to use the known as a suspense builder and less description = more reader imagination. The story is meant to guide not tell.

MF: Your new “Eye of the Storm” series is off to a great start. Is there anything you’d like to tell us about it?

EK: “Eye of the Storm” is a paranormal suspense thriller that I’ve been told borders on horror. It’s the story that makes people double check their doors are locked at night before snuggling into bed. It’s unlike my other books and more my nature.



Print Copy:

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Review of “Antigravity Propulsion” by Lance & James Morcan


I was particularly impressed by the unbiased, objective, journalistic views presented in this interesting book. The authors look at all angles and possibilities, allowing the reader to digest them on his or her own merits versus being nudged or sometimes shoved to the conclusions desired, as is the case of many such books.

The authors assume that UFOs do indeed exist, a fact which is gradually being accepted as more evidence is released and credible witnesses continue to come forward. However, rather than assuming these strange vehicles are of extraterrestrial origin, the possibility is presented that perhaps not all of them are.

All possibilities are covered, including connections between Japan and the Nazis of which I was previously unaware. The authors do an excellent job of staying on-topic as expressed by the title versus going off on tangents, which is so easy to do in a field where there are so many unanswered questions. And in that vein, I suppose that rather than answer any, additional queries are easily spawned as it provides a variety of additional angles to consider but doesn’t go into that much detail or substantiation regarding them. References were embedded within the text itself as opposed to being listed in a bibliography which I find a little awkward for following up on them in a selective or methodical manner.

The book does not discuss the possible technologies involved but rather sticks to the evidence of whether UFOs are of alien or human origin or perhaps a combination of both. Also note that 19% of this book relates to additional titles by the same authors, both fiction and nonfiction. Clearly this father and son team have reported on a profuse amount of information in their “Underground Knowledge” series.

Stock photo graphic license via 123RF

Review of “Alien Disclosure at Area 51” by C. Ronald Garner: This Mind-blowing Read is NOT for the Fainthearted

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This fascinating read is primarily the true story of Dr. Dan Burisch, a microbiologist at the infamous Area 51. It’s well-documented with a substantial number of quotes from credible individuals as well as a long list of suggested reading, some of which I’ve read in the past. In a nutshell, Burisch was abducted as a child, his intelligence enhanced to an IQ of 200 in preparation for his “mission” which entailed the eventual recruitment by the government agency that deals with these matters known as Majestic 12. I’m not going to recount any further details because it would definitely constitute a spoiler, even though this is nonfiction. I believe it’s important to read this information in context as opposed to sensationalizing the “good parts.”

Much of what is revealed is mind-blowing, i.e., in that “you can’t make this stuff up” realm that goes beyond what I’ve conceived as a science fiction writer. Much of it is vaguely familiar, however, as presented in various television shows and movies. People have been saying for years that the government is moving toward disclosure and supposedly Dr. Burisch is part of that goal. They’ve been testing the waters for years regarding how the general populace would react, knowing that if/when the government confirms the existence as well as our alliance with extraterrestrials that things will never be the same again. Yes, there have been leaks over the years, but this book suggests that the majority of them were part of the plan to gradually reveal the truth. Some want disclosure, others do not. I read years ago that John F. Kennedy was assassinated because he was ready to go with full disclosure while others did not agree.

While leaks will always occur, it’s easy for me to believe that for the most part we will only be told what they want us to know. For example, I’m a fan of various shows on the History Channel’s high definition version referred to as H2. You have to subscribe to the most expensive package with DirectTV to have access to this channel. I don’t know how accessible it is on other satellite or cable systems. This channel has been loaded with shows like “Ancient Aliens,” “Hangar 1,” and “UFO Hunters,” for a couple of years as well as various other shows that are revelatory such as “America Unearthed,” and “America’s Book of Secrets.” I enjoy these shows but have mentioned to my neighbor who often views them with me since she has a different package that doesn’t include H2 that the only reason it’s on television is because they want this information to get out. If they really wanted this to be hushed up it would not be on the air. I mean, seriously, how hard would it be for the FCC to shut them down?

I had heard years ago that movies such as Spielberg’s “ET: The Extraterrestrial” and various others were produced at the behest of the government as part of this plan to prepare the people for this information. The fact they are gradually moving some of these shows from the more exclusive H2 over to the regular History Channel tells me something as well. My impression is that they started it on the channel that has less viewers to test the water. When these shows became some of the most popular on the air they gradually shifted them over to the more commonly accessible History Channel.

Some of the information is quite troubling other than the existence of UFOs and ETs. The fact that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe to say nothing of the technology they’ve developed is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s the other agendas, including those of our planet’s various governments, that gets scary. Face it, humanity on this planet is not very far evolved. Evidence for that is apparent on the news for any given day. Global terrorism and the continual quest to develop the ultimate weapon doesn’t say much about us and acquiring technology far beyond our evolution as a species would lead to our annihilation. Those who have withheld this knowledge from us for decades or perhaps longer are fully aware of the consequences when the truth gets out. It’s not necessarily so much about the average person who, having been indoctrinated with television shows such as “Mork from Ork,” “Third Rock from the Sun” and “Alf” do not see it as a problem. However, once this information is out it also means that every government on the planet, friendly and otherwise, will have access, beyond those who already do, which is bad enough.

One thing that Burische’s experience indicates is that these extraterrestrials have individual personalities just like we do which implies some are good and some are bad. That is also a rather chilling pill to swallow, considering how far advanced they are. Some may be like our friend Gordon Shumway a.k.a. “Alf” (which was actually an acronym for alien lifeform) while others are more like those depicted in the television series of years past entitled “V.” You’ll notice that “V” largely disappeared while the “friendly” alien shows live forever in syndication. Hmmmm…

The implications of what is revealed in this rather short book are creepy to say the least. Years ago I read one of the books on the author’s suggested reading list entitled “Behold a Pale Horse” by William Cooper. Back in the 90s a friend of mine who was several years older and an electrical engineer who worked as a NASA contractor loaned it to me and said that it scared him to the point he couldn’t finish reading it. I got through it but the more I learn about ETs and UFOs the more I understand why it freaked him out and why the government has kept this information underwraps for as long as they have. Knowing the mentality of the average person, I, also, question whether the world is ready to know.

Undoubtedly some are in denial and refuse to believe that these things are real. Conspiracy theorists are often debunked and ridiculed, which is the government’s primary means for compromising a person’s credibility with regard to something they don’t want you to know. To me, as a scientist and former NASA contractor, there are too many credible witnesses and other evidence supporting it. Ignoring the facts does not change the facts, which in this case are not pretty.

Truth is stranger than fiction and in this case it’s also scarier. If all the ET-related media is aimed at preparing us for disclosure, then is it possible that all the zombie apocalypse/dystopian scenarios currently popular are also preparing us for the future? Not a pleasant thought. Be warned that this book and its implications are not for the fainthearted.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Picture licensed from 123RF

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Bag It and Go With the Flow


Now before you get all over me for being negative, pessimistic and various other uncomplimentary adjectives, let me explain. They say there’s nothing you can’t do if you put enough determination behind it. I know this is true or I wouldn’t have made it through college. I even had an escape plan for if I flunked out somewhere along the line, given the sordid reputation of courses like Analytical Mechanics or Electricity and Magnetism, the latter usually referred to formally as E&M and informally as S&M. I was inclined to go with the latter. Miraculously, I made it through, no one more surprised than myself.

For anyone who thinks I’m some sort of genius, let me set that straight as well. I was a very mediocre student in high school. I cringe when I think of what my grades were. I disliked school tremendously, hated it, actually, and was glad when I got out. I should add, however, that I am ADHD and with a maiden name of Unterreiner, I was typically seated in the back of the room. That explains a lot. Anyway, it was seventeen years before I went back to college. By that time, I might add, I had six kids, all at home. And what did I major in? Here’s a hint:



OMG, what was I thinking? But I made it through. Not with the 4.0 GPA I wanted but pretty close, i.e. 3.48 and membership in Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society.

I’m not saying this to brag, simply to illustrate that it can be done. In fact, one of my professors had declared in a general ed astronomy class I took before I was a full-time student that anyone could get a degree in physics if they wanted it badly enough. I seriously thought I would prove him wrong but his opinion prevailed.

So yes, wanting something badly enough usually will do the trick.

However, there is one thing that I’ve never been able to do and that’s write a short story. I took a creative writing class one time where we were supposed to be writing short stories. I got an A in the class but the professor told me later that nothing I wrote qualified in the technical sense as a short story because they lacked irony. Undaunted, I kept writing and soon discovered there was an even bigger problem. I couldn’t write a short story because it always turned into a novel.

I kid you not.

My unpublished novel, “Phaethon’s Ashes,” started as a short story and became a novel. “Beyond the Hidden Sky” was intended be a novel but it turned into a series.


So now that I’ve completed the four books of The Star Trails Tetralogy I thought I’d write a short story or two, spinoffs from minor characters in the series, to give away. I had a couple ideas and the other day I decided to get one started.

Big mistake.


Short story? Right. I’m already into chapter four and the end is nowhere in sight. But I’m having a blast, back in my creative element which is one of the greatest benefits of writing. Of course starting with a character who’s already developed makes this all the more likely to occur.

So why can’t I write a short story, you ask? One reason is I get into too many details. My characters come alive, take over, and pretty soon they’re driving the train and I’m just trying to keep up. I start with an idea and seldom know where it’s going to end up. For me, that constitutes the most fun, however, in many cases not knowing myself what’s going to happen next.

You would think that if I can’t write anything other than a novel then I should at least be able to crank one out in a few weeks or maybe months. Nope, that’s not me, either. I wish I could and I truly admire those who can, but for me that’s another no-can-do.

As a science fiction author I’m somewhat obsessive about the science being as accurate as possible. Anyone who knows me probably would leave out “somewhat.” That, of course, means research. I only have a Bachelor’s Degree so I’m not that savvy when it comes to the good stuff. Research takes time but it’s part of the fun.


I’ve dug through my personal library for relevant material including my hero, Richard Feynman’s “Lectures on Physics”, a couple old college textbooks including Tipler’s “Modern Physics” and Frankl’s “Electromagnetic Theory”, plus I’ve bookmarked a half-dozen related websites as well as articles on Wikipedia. So far I’ve purchased four books online and three DVDs from The Great Courses as background and research material. Of course by the time I get through all that there’ll be even more ideas to incorporate. And no telling how much more will come along in the meantime. Serendipity always directs me to a plethora of relevant references. Whether or not that’s a good thing is hard to say.

The length of this blog is a case in point. I could have simply said “I can’t write a short story because I get carried away and it becomes a novel” and been done with it. That would have been short enough to tweet along with a few hashtags. Did I?


At this point my goal is to at least keep this blog under a thousand words.


So I give up. I can’t write a short story and have quit trying. From now on I’m going with the flow. Novel flow, that is. In the past I’ve cranked out a first draft in about six weeks but whether that will apply this time is hard to tell. Furthermore, filling in the gaps in the first cut is where I really get into my element. Stay tuned. Once I get it drafted I’ll be looking for beta readers so if you’re interested let me know.

Guilty as Charged: I Had an Ulterior Motive

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Okay, I admit it. I had an ulterior motive when I wrote the Star Trails Tetralogy. I don’t think it was a bad one, but it was there nonetheless. As I’ve mentioned before, perhaps ad nauseam, I was inspired to pursue a career in a technical field by the science fiction I read as a kid. And that is what I wanted to do with my stories, make science intriguing and interesting enough that my readers would love it as much as I do and want to know more. I mean, seriously. Why else would an otherwise normal person get a degree in physics? At least I thought I was normal. Then again, maybe not.

At any rate, my books have apparently succeeded to some degree. But don’t listen to me, I’m clearly biased and perhaps not to be trusted. Here’s what some of my reviewers have to say:

Marcha Fox has a gift for explaining the science in an interesting and original way. Sci-fi fans who love properly developed cultures backed up by hard and well understood science will devour these stories.

Science theory is a large part of this story and the writer uses many scenes and situations to explore warp drive, time bumps, worm holes, and warp gullies to name a few. When explanation is needed in a book, it usually slows progression of the plot, but the author uses the science as a “key” to unlock the puzzle of the many developing situations in which Creena finds herself. It’s a great book for anyone that wants to learn more about scientific concepts while being thoroughly entertained.

Anyone who loves hard science will lap this book up.

Having taught junior high science for a number of years I think this read would be a fabulous addition to classroom libraries as well as “the hungry for sci-fi lovers” personal bookshelf.

A great book for anyone that wants to learn more about scientific concepts while being thoroughly entertained.

The scientific details added greatly to the story without sounding like something out of a textbook.

I am in awe of the world author Marcha Fox has created. She has populated our galaxy with human colonies and aliens, enriching the story with intricate detail covering solar systems, seasons, geology, politics, anthropological, fauna, eco-commerce, technological, and spiritual beliefs that are unveiled layer upon layer as the story progresses.

[The author] integrates actual science into science fiction, creating worlds, customs, and life forms outside the world we live.

Needless to say I was deeply gratified and appreciative that these wonderful readers picked up on my ulterior motive and didn’t give me a one or two star review because it was too technical and therefore boring. Of course, nerds like myself LOVE the technical side, but that’s besides the point.

So what is the point? The point is that I didn’t stop there. I also put together “The Star Trails Compendium” which includes a glossary of terms, both fictitious and otherwise, as a companion volume to the stories. I include more details about the star system, Cyraria’s weird, lemniscate (figure-8 shaped) orbit, its effects on their horrific, extreme weather, political structure, and a bit more about the bnolar, the planet’s indigenous species. I hope no one is too disappointed that I refrained from including all the calculations I did while developing the star system, mostly because math is so tedious to express via the keyboard.

And here’s the best part: The ebook versions of the Compendium are FREE!  (At least everywhere but Amazon, who’s a bit uncooperative, but might come around eventually given enough complaints. Hint, hint..)

If you’re an educator or perhaps a homeschooler, there’s an even better bonus especially for you. I’ve included suggestions for lesson plans and discussion topics based on the chapters of each book. Thus, any science teachers who have students who need a little bit more could assign my books as extra credit backed up by assignments which are all but laid out for you in the Compendium. Science clubs could likewise utilize them. Knowing how overloaded today’s teachers are, this could provide the needed stimulation for the Advanced Placement students without a lot of extra work on their part.

If you’re wondering how this works, here’s an example using an excerpt from Chapter 3 of “Beyond the Hidden Sky.”

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The Escape Pod

Shortly after jettison the acceleration shell loosened its grip and shrunk back into the side of the seat but Creena remained in place, gripping the armrests with white-knuckled hands. She’d always been frustrated with the rapid heartbeat and breathing provoked by anger but that was nothing compared to what she was feeling now. She’d experienced a variety of emotions on Mira III, more than most that went through their ordered lives in a state of unquestioning, unreactive calm.

What she felt now, however, was stronger still, a deep, primal reaction from the core of her being. Seared by adrenaline every cell cried out with an unspeakable fear far deeper than any provoked merely by thought, terror firing her blood like a burning fuse.

Never in her entire life had she been so scared.

Her breathing rasped in her ears, mouth dry with her hands shaking and clammy against the armrests. Gradually her racing mind slowed and her heart stopped pounding though her breathing remained heavier than normal as she concentrated on her surroundings.

Funny, it didn’t even feel like she was moving anymore. But it hadn’t felt like the Aquarius was moving, either. She thought back to her Academy physics class and remembered that was the case when something was moving in a straight line at constant speed. The starfield on the holoscreen likewise seemed still but instinct told her that was simply a matter of scale.

She released the straps, their recoil sloppy and slow. The breathless, airy feeling swelled upward, the sensation similar to a soaring dive in an air cruiser. She gasped clutching her chest and the next thing she knew she was floating haplessly above the shell, like a sphere under electro-magnetic levitation.

She gasped in renewed horror.

Was she dead?

She pinched herself, hard, relieved only slightly when it hurt.

Across the pod lights blinked and flashed while the metal floor offered a dizzying design of concentric rings that still seemed to spring upward in pulsating waves. The illusion aggravated the growing nausea even as the facts fell into place.

The Aquarius hadn’t felt that much different from being confined in an ugly building. Certain areas like the galarium where wall-embedded holoscreens gave every impression that a real world lay beyond epoxy shields even added to the deception. But the pod was designed for survival and lacked the power hungry comforts of a starship.

And a mass generator’s gravity simulation was one of them.

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And here are two of the Compendium Discussion and Lesson Plan Suggestions for Chapter 3:

  1. It doesn’t feel as if the pod is moving. Why?

When something is moving in a straight line at constant speed you can’t tell it’s moving. This relates to Newton’s 1st Law of Motion or the principle of inertia which states than an object will remain in a state of rest or constant velocity unless acted upon by unbalanced forces. Newton’s 2nd Law is best described by the equation Force = mass x acceleration or F=ma.

In other words, the force exerted on an object depends on its mass and how fast it is changing speed or accelerating. Newton’s 3rd Law relates to opposing forces, that whenever a force is applied to something, an equal and opposite force is generated, such as the kickback on a rifle or pushing off the side of a swimming pool.

  1. Why is Creena weightless in the pod?

It doesn’t have a “gravity simulator.” Mass such as that of a planet creates gravity which is proportional to how big it is. Scientists will don’t understand exactly how or why gravity works, but they can predict its strength based on the mass of an object or planet.

* * *

So this should give you some idea of the possibilities. Did I have an ulterior motive for this blog? Of course I did. I want my books to reach the audience for which they were intended! But here’s the good news. You can get “Beyond the Hidden Sky” as an ebook for only $0.99 and the Compendium for FREE! Why don’t you check it out? If you’re a teacher or parent trying to encourage your child to not only enjoy science but perhaps actually pursue it, what do you have to lose? Oh, yeah, there’s one more thing. If your library has ebook lending capability, it can obtain all four volumes of the Star Trails Tetralogy for free through Smashwords.

“Beyond the Hidden Sky” Buy Links

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“Star Trails Compendium” Links



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Review of “Elemental Earth” by Harmony Kent: A Coming of Age Story with a Fantasy Twist

This coming of age story with a twist had me engaged with the main character, Sarah, from the beginning. She’s fifteen, in the usual identity crisis typical of that difficult age, and her family life is a wreck. Her father left and she doesn’t know exactly why, but from the conversation between her parents she overheard she believes it has something to do with her. Her mother has been depressed, sitting incommunicado in a darkened house, ever since.

Answers begin to come when she meets Imogen, a strange girl whom she initially sees as a “freak.” And then things really start to get even weirder as Sarah is led to a world in another dimension where it turns out she’s an important figure in a prophecy. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so I will leave it at that and invite you to experience this intriguing story for yourself.

It’s easy to relate to Sarah who lacks confidence and has so many questions about who she is. The author did an excellent job getting inside Sarah’s head and making her very human. There’s a subtle message there about how parents can inadvertently damage a child’s confidence trying to protect him or her, which is a large part of Sarah’s problem. Attempting to deny her prophetic destiny, her mother punishes her at an early age for using her amazing talents, which inhibits her ability to utilize them later when her fate asserts itself and depends on them, regardless of whether or not that’s what she or her parents want.

As a professional astrologer I have a deep appreciation for the “elements” of Earth, Air, Fire and Water of which the author captures the essence nicely via the “elementals” in the story. Indeed, each of us has our own set of “elementals” in the form of talents, propensities and abilities with which we were born as well. Each of us simply needs to discover them and recognize how they can help us.

While this book is definitely in the “Fantasy” category, since it involves a girl steeped in modern times, the language is familiar and comfortable. Thus, those who may not usually be drawn to stories set in ancient eras replete with archaic speaking styles, dragons and swords can easily enjoy this story of a teenaged girl plunged into an entirely different world with a heavy future that everyone seems to know more about than she does. There are plenty of plot twists and turns and various surprises. I was impressed with the clean copy which made the read smooth and pleasant compared to so many Indie books which are loaded with typos and other distracting errors due to poor copy editing. Her knowledge and research were apparent and nicely integrated. Many kudos to the author for that.

The only thing I didn’t like about this story was the abrupt, jaw-dropping ending which left me with the feeling that I’d missed something. While I knew it was a series and would probably lead into the next book, there were too many inconsistencies and questions left unanswered for the ending to be satisfying. Rather it was somewhat confusing and frustrating as “What just happened?” reverberated through my head and drove me to make sure I hadn’t missed a chapter or two. IMHO, the author has a lot of explaining to do in the sequel.

Author Website:

Blog Tour Interview with Middle Grade Fantasy Author, L. R. W. Lee


I’m excited to present this author interview as part of the blog tour for L.R.W. Lee’s latest book in the Andy Smithson series, “Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace.” Directed at middle grade readers, the author’s intent is not only to provide the reader with a fantasy adventure but likewise include an important lesson about life. Here’s your chance to learn a little bit about the person behind these remarkable stories.

MF: How did you come up with your main character, Andy Smithson? Did he just pop into your imagination or did you specifically develop him?

LRWL: Andy is patterned after my son. After our first child who was what I would call compliant and seemed to need little to no correction, our son arrived on the scene. As with most 2nd children, he was polar opposite and provided much fodder for an engaging main character.

MF: How did your experience with building a business help with your writing?

LRWL: It has been invaluable for I understand that writing is only 50% of the writer’s success equation. Unlike Field of Dreams, with so many good books available today, just launching it, even on a well trafficked platform like Amazon, does not get recognition. Because of my corporate background, from day one I began working to build a platform – Twitter and Facebook primarily and now also Book Nerd Paradise. As well, I understand the importance of the author community, for no author can succeed these days without the support of fellow authors. My background has also helped in understanding the need to optimize my books to rank well on the variety of sites they are listed on. There’s much more, but those are the biggest helps I would say.

MF: Was there any particular book or author whom you feel had the most influence on your work?

LRWL: I have to say JK Rowling. The imagination she revealed, the strength of her characters, the world building, the depth of plot over multiple books…she definitely shaped how I think about writing.

MF: What do you love the most about writing for young people?

LRWL: Young people are moldable. My passion for writing is to share with readers principles that from my experience can help them live more peaceful lives. A few of these principles include overcoming fear, frustration and impatience as well as understanding that true success in life is not from riches, fame or power, but rather responsibility, diligence and dignity. If they can finish any of my books closer to understanding these principles, I feel very fulfilled.

MF: Which part of the creative process is your favorite? Least favorite?

LRWL: Designing the story arc is my favorite part of the creative process for you can take a story anywhere your imagination can go. My least favorite part is editing/revising. Even though I know the narrative gets much stronger as a result, it’s still my least favorite part.

MF: How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from when you get the idea to when it’s finished?

LRWL: Usually about 6 months.

MF: I know that most authors love all their characters but which of your many “children” is your favorite (besides Andy) and why?

LRWL: I have to say Mermin, the kindly old wizard who speaks with a lisp. I love him most after Andy because he’s so warm, humble and approachable. He’s fallible and he knows it, which is why he doesn’t apologize for his mistakes, rather he is comfortable in his own skin.

MF: Do you ever plan to branch out into other genres besides middle grade/young adult fantasy?

LRWL: Funny you should ask. Yes, I’m actually noodling with a story arc of a YA Sci Fi story.

MF: How do you feel your writing has evolved since your first novel?

LRWL: I can see how much I’ve changed and improved in showing rather than telling my readers what’s happening. I want them to engage and to show – providing sight, sounds, touch, smell, and taste cues is a big part of that. I was particularly thrilled when my editor came back a full week sooner than expected with this current book because I had improved so much between book three and four. My pocketbook also appreciated that. 🙂





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Encore with Annie Douglass Lima

The Collar and the Cavvarach

Last week I participated in Annie Douglass Lima’s Blog Tour for her newest book, “The Collar and the Cavvarch.” Here’s your chance to learn a little more about the story.

Click here to read a description of the setting and what life is like for slaves and others in that world.

 Click here to read chapter 1 for free!

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For those of you who may have missed it last week, here’s a little bit about the Story:

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), an unsharpened weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

 Click here to download The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon.

 Click here to download The Collar and the Cavvarach from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats).

Annie Douglass Lima

About the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published ten books (one YA action and adventure novel, four fantasies, a puppet script, and four anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

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If You’re a Technophile or Conspiracy Buff, “Esquelle and the Tesla Protocol” is for You!


This skillfully crafted story has it all. Non-stop action, intrigue, dry wit and humor, incredible detail, and a nearly invisible line between science fiction and fact that yielded tremendous credibility. While at least one other reviewer compared it to Clancy, it reminded me more of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series except in this case it’s a sociopathic NSA director as opposed to the CIA.

The author broke numerous fiction writing conventions yet this contributed to the book’s credibility, originality and appeal. For one thing, numerous readers of this genre are self-admitted techies and nerds who thrive on the technical side. I know because I’m one of them. I saw an article not long ago which as I recall was written by Stephen King who advised authors to keep their research material invisible in their stories. To the contrary, Dacy plastered his extensive research throughout the story like excerpts from a technical paper or dissertation and I loved it. He even included various illustrations, which further added to the story’s imagery, depth and interest. Whether it was the nuts and bolts of advanced technology, covert ops, or the chapter numbers in binary code, it was apparent he knew what he was talking about. Nonetheless, there were sections where his dry wit practically had me rolling on the floor or his ability to build suspense had me perched on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. While it may be considered incorrect to drop into the omniscient viewpoint from time to time, in this case it worked.

The story is about two genius level adult French siblings, Esquelle and her brother, Bernard, who possess a technology that permits communicating across the time barrier. Bernard’s patent application has not only been denied but he’s been told in no uncertain terms that he cannot release it in any manner at home or abroad based on the Tesla Protocol, the means by which the details of Nikola Tesla’s inventions were secreted away roughly a hundred years prior. Of course neither of them plan to listen and thus the chase begins, though neither Esquelle nor Bernard have any idea what they’re in for.

The plot is complex and loaded with characters but unlike some overpopulated stories I didn’t have any trouble keeping them straight. The players were well fleshed-out and believable. The level of detail is outstanding, right down to the clever basis for the heroine’s name, which I’m not about to tell you but as someone who’s done some database programming myself I must say it was great. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next episode.

My only criticism is if, indeed, this novel had a copy editor, the individual should be fired. If it didn’t, which I suspect, then it needs one who can catch the numerous missing words and other minor goofs. The syntax of the French dialog was often incorrect, but the author blamed that on Google, who was credited with the translations. I had French in high school back when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth and even after longer than I care to admit I can remember that adjectives follow the noun and the conjugation of verbs is entirely different than English. Thus, word for word translations seldom work.

This fantastic story deserved a good copy editor. These editorial blemishes, which most readers may not even notice (except, perhaps, other techies like me), detracted from what would otherwise be an incredibly awesome story, which, considering the level of detail otherwise, I find rather sad. Providing the reader with clean copy is as essential as maintaining a consistent plot and accurate research.

I suspect that the author was thinking and keyboarding so fast to get the story down that he inadvertently skipped over various prepositions and articles along the way. It didn’t ruin the story by any means, but it was a distraction which precluded my ability to be entirely absorbed in it. In many ways I long for the days when you could sit down with a good book and get thoroughly lost in it, perhaps finding one or maybe two, if any, such mistakes. I find it especially sad when a story as good or better than many that passed through traditional publishing houses lacks that final bit of polish.

Besides that, this was my kind of book. Quite honestly, I loved it. Nonetheless, even while my techy side ate up his research, technical details, quotes, inside jokes and speculative sci-fi excursions, that same part of me cringed at every missing or misspelled word. Precision is just as important in writing as it is in engineering. If you painted a masterpiece, would you toss it in a $3 plastic frame from Walmart? No. And as a potential masterpiece in so many ways, forgive me when I say yet again that this story deserved a good copy editor.


Interview with Fantasy Author, Annie Douglass Lima

Annie Douglass LimaAs promised last week with the Cover Reveal for Annie Douglass Lima’s latest novel, “The Collar and the Cavvarach,” now you get to learn a little bit about this fascinating and prolific author. I first “met” Annie in connection with her “Realm Explorers” website where she was kind enough to feature my science fiction world which you can see here.  This is something she graciously does for other authors who have created their own world. This spirit of sharing alone gave me a glimpse into her kind and generous nature. They say to “write what you know” and if there’s one thing Annie is certainly familiar with it’s the concept of other cultures, having lived in diverse locations around the globe. So without further ado, HERE’S Annie!

MF: Your Amazon Author Page states you spent most of your childhood in Kenya, attended college in California and now you live in Taiwan.  How did your time in each of these locations, which represent entirely different cultures, affect your outlook on life?

ADL: I know I am much more globally minded than I would be if I had spent my whole life in one country. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to travel to so many wonderful places (in addition to what you mentioned, I lived for a year in Indonesia and have been to a total of 19 countries). As a result, I see the world in terms of the whole planet with its thousands of unique cultures, not in terms of my country and everywhere else, as I think many who haven’t had the chance to travel much see it. My childhood in Kenya enriched my life and gave me a deep appreciation for the blessings I have and the fact that the best ones have nothing to do with money or possessions. My life in Taiwan (I’m going on eight years here now) has provided a wonderful balance to that, plunging me into a completely different but equally beautiful culture. It’s given me a fresh appreciation for what it’s like to be a foreigner in a foreign land (I never felt like one in Kenya), along with thankfulness for the grace and generosity of those who make foreigners welcome even when they can’t speak the language well.

MF: How does your experience with other cultures help your writing?

ADL: It came into play quite a bit when I was writing my recent fantasy novel Prince of Malorn. I love getting to know different cultures and the differences between them, and my character Prince Korram had to deal with when he traveled into Malorn’s Impassable Mountains to seek the help of the Mountain Folk. In Malorn, Mountain Folk and Lowlanders tend to distrust each other and avoid contact whenever possible, and both sides claim that the other mistreats them. I wanted to show that often, it just takes better understanding to lead to acceptance and appreciation of another culture. That, and the willingness to learn new ways of doing things and respect others’ customs even when they’re different.

I’ve brought several elements of Taiwan’s culture into The Collar and the Cavvarach. For example, some characters chew betel nut, a mild narcotic sold legally in shops decorated with flashing colored lights. When money is awarded as a prize, it’s given in a red envelope. New Year is the most important holiday of the year in both places.

MF: Was there any particular book or author whom you feel had the most influence on your work?

ADL: C.S. Lewis provided my very first literary inspiration. More recently, I’ve enjoyed the works of Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Her Tales of Goldstone Wood series is amazingly crafted. I love the way the time periods in some of the books overlap, focusing on different characters and sometimes different views of the same events. That storytelling style influenced my fantasy series, the Annals of Alasia, though not this book as much.

MF: What do you love the most about writing for Young Adults?

ADL: I’ve never specifically chosen to write for young adults. I just write the stories that come to me, and that’s been the audience that works best for them so far. Young adult novels are my favorite kind to read, so I suppose it makes sense.

MF: Which part of the creative process is your favorite?  Least favorite?

I enjoy writing new scenes when inspiration is white-hot, and it’s fun to reread them for the first time and do the first round of editing. I take no pleasure in marketing or writing my back-cover blurbs.

MF: How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from when you get the idea to when it’s finished?

ADL: I don’t have a “usually”. Each book so far has been totally different. The longest has been eleven and a half years, the shortest nine months. The Collar and the Cavvarach took me almost exactly a year and a half.

MF: I know that most authors love all their characters, but which of your many “children” is your favorite and why?

ADL: In this book, at least, my favorite is definitely Bensin. The struggles he is forced to go through make him stronger, and I admire him for his perseverance and determination to meet his goals no matter what. He is willing to sacrifice himself for those he cares about, and while his choices aren’t always the wisest, he is committed to doing what he feels is right. Society is against him, since he’s a slave and has few rights, but that doesn’t stop him.

MF: Do you ever plan to branch out into other genres besides young adult fantasy?

ADL: It’s possible, but at this point I can’t see myself writing totally realistic fiction. Reality just doesn’t offer me enough freedom! I like to be able to make the rules. Having said that, however, The Collar and the Cavvarach isn’t really fantasy, at least not in the typical sense. It’s more of an alternate reality. If you were to step into that world, you would probably assume you were still in our own world – except for a few key details, like the prevalence of slavery.

MF: How do you feel your writing has evolved since your first novel?

ADL: I’m a much better writer now than I was then! I’ve gotten a lot better with experience, and having online critique partners has definitely helped, too. Almost every time a new beta reader goes over one of my manuscripts, I learn something new from their feedback. My writing is less wordy now, and I’ve gotten better at showing instead of telling. My characters are better developed and their dialog is more realistic. Really, I think I’ve improved in almost every area of writing.

MF: Is there a particular message inherent in your latest work?

ADL: I hope this story will make readers think about the value of human life and perhaps take a second look at some of the practices we accept or choose to turn a blind eye to in our own culture. Legalized slavery sounds so impossibly wrong that it’s easy to think we could never let it happen in this day and age, but how many other wrongs do we overlook just because it isn’t convenient to do anything about them?







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The Collar and the Cavvarach

Click here to preorder The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon.

Click here to preorder The Collar and the Cavvarach from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats)

Prince of Malorn

Annals of Alasia