Interview with Kirsten Streicher, Kick-ass Heroine of “The Blight”

theblightMeet Kirsten Streicher, kick-ass heroine of The Blight, another nail-biter, suspense thriller by John Reinhard Dizon. First, a little about Kirsten and her story:

Kirsten Streicher is an Iraq War veteran assigned to the Supercop Unit in St. Louis. The elite unit has been successful in combating the Blight, a plague of poverty-driven crime that is overwhelming the city. Only a genocidal sociopath has declared his own war against the Blight and is conducting a campaign to eradicate the undesirable elements within the community. The death of one of her partners and the suspension of another portend the breakup of the team. Kirsten is forced to deal with a major change in her career path once the man called X is brought to justice. She is also involved in a romance with a UMKC professor, Kurt Franz. He takes her to a new reality amidst the protests of Brad, who is still hunting the killer despite his suspension. Brad reveals his love for her and places her in the middle of a love triangle. Making matters worse is evidence indicating that X is focusing on Kirsten, which makes her a potential target.

MF: Welcome, Kirsten. It’s a pleasure to have you here today.

KS: I’d just like to thank the interviewer for being so patient in allowing me to put my thoughts together. This has been a harrowing and traumatic time in my life. I’m finally able to articulate my feelings and my reflections, and I hope they might inspire young people out there trying to make the world a better place.

MF: I understand. The aftermath of such a time is often the most difficult, and you’ve had several such experiences in your life. Looking back to those that made you who you are, did any particular experience you had while serving in the Middle East have a life-defining effect?

KS: It had to be in Afghanistan when we took out that insurgent Taliban unit in preventing an ambush of American soldiers. We found out they were just high school kids who had been brainwashed into fighting for someone else’s cause. During the Blight, I saw the same thing in the teens who were recruited by drug gangs to advance the ulterior motives of others. Kids are so idealistic and easily influenced. Society has a tremendous obligation to raise our children in a moral and principled world.

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MF: That is so true. Kids are always going to reflect their environment and how they’re raised. When parents fail, often law enforcement is forced to fill the gap. As such, what do you find the most satisfying part of being a cop?

KS: The chance to make a difference in society and defend the oppressed and underprivileged. It was the same thing we tried to do in the Middle East. We tried to do it here but we never dreamed we’d be dealing with the same kind of evil. At least we had the battle experience, and I hope that other veterans will be able to use their skills and knowledge to change things here at home.

MF: It’s so sad that our veterans come home to that, but it’s true they can definitely make a difference here as well. Nothing is simple these days. Do you see crime in terms of black and white or are there shades of grey?

KS: That is such a hard question. Good is good and evil is evil, that’s your black and white. Only the effect it has on others is where your shades of grey come in. It’s so hard to deal with victims of crime, especially in gang-controlled neighborhoods where they live. The Blight nearly immersed the city of St. Louis in the darkness. It was a miracle that we were able to help its citizens find their way back to the light.

MF: Yes, it truly was. And it certainly wasn’t easy. If you were “Queen of the World” for a day, what would you change?

KS: I would eradicate drug trafficking by any means necessary. It is what empowers drug gangs, poisons its victims and destroys communities. Cut off the supply, put dealers away for good and do everything possible to rehabilitate dependents. It is the singlemost terrible problem the people of the world are dealing with.

MF: I couldn’t agree more. What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?

KS: Waking up Christmas morning to find goodbye letters from the two most important people in my life. It created a void in my heart, in my existence, that I may never refill. I can’t even remember a happy time. I think readers of my story will fully understand why.

MF: I hope with time that some level of happiness and satisfaction will come your way as you recognize how many lives you have changed in a positive way. They say what doesn’t kill us outright only makes us stronger. In that context, what did you learn from your experience with “The Blight”?

KS: Well, let me take back that last statement. Seeing the people of St. Louis unite to keep the murderers from destroying Christmas was the most wonderful thing I ever saw. Black and white, rich and poor, Christian and Muslim, it didn’t matter who they were. We all became neighbors, we shared and shared alike. The citizens of our city decided they had enough of the Blight and made it go away. Americans have that in common, we stand together in times of trouble. It makes me so proud to be an American and a Missourian. I hope my story helps other people feel that way.

MF: Thank you so much for being with us today, Kirsten. The world needs more people like you in this crazy world we’re living in. I wish you all the best and that you’ll be blessed for all the good you’ve done.

Be sure to pick up a copy of The Blight so you can put Kirsten’s comments and insights into context. You can grab your copy from Amazon here.

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eric1513/123RF Stock Photo

Interview with Simon Jones, Author of “Fall of Empires”

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MF: As a self-declared history buff, do you recall what first drove your interests backward in time?

SJ: I have been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember. As a very young boy I remember my father and grandfather spending hours with me playing with toy soldiers and telling me stories from history. My grandfather made a replica warship out of a tea trolley with sections of broomstick for cannons and a hidden cassette player inside which played ‘Hearts of Oak’. He also built a replica Saturn V and a mock up of the surface of the moon which covered the entire dining room table and taught me about the space race. My parents took me all over the place to castles and museums and my Mum, who also loves history, encouraged me to read historical books from an early age. I also had a wonderful history teacher, Mr Bastable, who could make even the dull bits of history interesting. With all those great influences I was always going to grow up loving history.

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MF: It certainly sounds as if you were primed by your upbringing to love history! Have you travelled to many of the locations relevant to your books? Which one(s) inspired you the most?

SJ: I have been fortunate to have travelled to lots of great historical sites around the world although there are still lots more on my list. Visiting Egypt and Rome whilst writing ‘The Battles are the Best Bits’ were hugely inspirational and I incorporated my memories of those visits into the book. There is something very powerful about standing on the very spot where great events happened and you can feel the resonance of them somehow. Sadly most of Fall of Empires takes place in Syria and Iraq which are not very tourist friendly these days. I have been to Istanbul which also features heavily, though apart from the Hagia Sofia and the walls there is not much left of the old Byzantine Constantinople.

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MF: That is so true about historical sites. You can definitely feel their complexity. When you read about an historical period, do you typically picture yourself living during that time?

SJ: I think you have to. Not in a fantasizing sort of way but in terms of your outlook, your values and your expectations. I don’t think you can write objectively about history either as fiction or non-fiction unless you take a step back from your 21st century based values and judge people and events by the standards of the time in which they occurred. In ‘The Battles are the Best Bits’ I found myself justifying acts of slaughter which today would be judged as war-crimes as perfectly reasonable actions under the circumstances. The ancient world was a much more violent place than the modern world and human rights and the value of human life were seen very differently. This was a world in which the destruction of an entire city and the slaughter, rape and enslavement of its population was a legitimate act of war. To write about this period effectively you have to remove yourself somewhat from the here and now. Dealing with these events objectively I think gives them even greater impact in the mind of the modern reader.

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MF: The context is definitely a huge factor that takes some effort to understand. Even today cultural differences prevent many from understanding others’ actions.

Your book “Fall of Empires” earned over 280,000 reads on Wattpad, which is amazing! At what point did you decide to take the plunge and publish your work as a print book?

SJ: In some ways I regret the decision as there is no doubt that by sharing your work freely you reach far more readers than you do by charging money for it. I decided to ultimately publish the book as a result of the positive reaction to it from readers and from the site administrators who obviously see a lot of books. So I was confident it was of sufficient caliber to warrant publication. I already had one book in print so was under no illusions how hard it is to reach readers in such a saturated marketplace. I have a very limited appetite for self promotion however so I only have myself to blame.

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MF: I totally understand your attitude toward self-promotion since I feel much the same way. Writing is the fun part, marketing, not so much, though I do enjoy helping others promote their work.

As a history aficionado, do you have a favorite historical figure? If so, why?

SJ: You would probably expect me to name a military figure from the ancient world but I would say my favourite historical figure is Charles Darwin. His contribution to science goes without saying but his journals reveal an adventurous and daring spirit. During the voyage of the Beagle Darwin undertook numerous arduous journeys into the interior. He braved hostile natives, inhospitable terrain and even ventured into a warzone in pursuit of scientific enquiry. I think a lot of people picture him perhaps getting off the ship from time to time and strolling around with his magnifying glass but he was a real man of action. He was also a genuinely decent human being with little time for the superiority or snobbishness that characterized Victorian men of his class and would happily break bread with anyone he encountered on his travels no matter how humble their station. He abhorred the slavery which he witnessed in South America and vowed never to return to any slave state.

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MF: Darwin was truly one of history’s great figures. Few are familiar with, much less appreciate all he did or the man he was. And speaking of familiarity, most people are acquainted with the adage, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Which lesson do you think today’s leaders are failing to learn?

SJ: I think that the Middle East is the prime example of failure to learn from history. Time and again western governments have imposed clumsy solutions on the region which fail to take account of centuries of conflict and complex divisions understood by only a handful of experts. The poor handling of the Arab Spring and the rise of Isis are just the latest examples. Events of a thousand years ago or more still resonate in the region alongside more recent tensions and no doubt once the latest Iraqi crisis and Syrian civil war are finally brought to a close, another imperfect solution will be imposed by the west and Russia, adding another layer of complexity and more seething discontent.

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MF: The Middle East has definitely been a problem area for millennia. It seems to me that much of the problem is that they are still stuck in the 7th Century culturally whereas the rest of the world has progressed. It’s impossible for us to understand what most modern westerners consider a barbaric mindset.

I find it interesting that you have a degree in Genetics and worked for the Forensic Science Service. Have you ever had your DNA traced to see if you’re genetically connected with any of the areas that draw your interest?

SJ: I have not. To my knowledge my family has been traced back to Elizabethan times living as farm labourers and domestic servants in the south of England but that’s only one branch. It would be an interesting thing to do one day. I’d like to find out if I have a bit of Viking in me!

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MF: I’ve done some genealogy in the past and it’s definitely an advantage to be familiar with history when you’re trying to figure out where a family lived before they popped up somewhere, usually due to some migration due to events at the time, whether political or weather related.

While our cultural and genetic roots define our foundation, some historical figures such as General George S. Patton believed that he had been a warrior in a previous life. Have you ever had any experiences (e.g. deja-vu) that gave you the impression that you had actually lived during another specific time?

SJ: No. I don’t believe in previous lives but when I visit ancient places, where so much has gone before, I do get a sense of feeling the history of the place. Places like the Roman Forum, the Valley of the Kings, the Terracotta Army. There is something special in the air or in the stone that makes the hairs on your arms stand on end. That’s the closest I’ve got to something like that. I had a similar experience at Dachau too, for obviously different reasons.

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MF: Those who have never visited a place that had a significant role in history can’t understand that. It’s definitely almost tangible, the echoes of past events that cling to an area.

Have you started work on your next book? Tell us about it and what inspired you to write it.

SJ: I am not writing a present as I decided to give up my job and become a teacher and sadly no longer have time for writing. That same love of telling stories and passing on knowledge is what made me want to go into teaching however and so I get the same satisfaction from planning and delivering lessons. I’m teaching science but I try to get a bit of history into my lessons wherever I can.

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MF: That’s awesome! I’m sure you’ll make a fabulous teacher. So many students need some background to put what they’re learning into context, i.e., some additional information that has meaning and makes it relevant. When I was a child in school, the emphasis in history class comprised memorizing dates and places, which was mighty boring. I didn’t care about it at all until I got into genealogy.

Balancing a career of any sort with writing is always a challenge. Which part of the writing process is your favorite?

SJ: The research. The writing really is an outlet for the learning in my case. Whilst most probably see research as a means to end, for me the writing is the justification for the research. It gives it a purpose beyond learning for its own sake and a vehicle to share that learning. Whilst that vehicle was previously writing, now it is teaching.

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MF: I’m sure your passion for history and sharing it will make you a great and memorable teacher. No matter what subject you’re teaching, it has a history, especially science, which ultimately impacts society in important ways.

Do you have any future book ideas outside the historical fiction realm? In other words, do you have any real-life experiences in forensics that would lend ideas to mysteries or thrillers?

SJ: I think that market is well and truly saturated, so no, it doesn’t interest me. The biggest crime in my forensic experience was the closing down of the British Forensic Science Service and the biggest mystery is how it was allowed to be so badly run for so long. Someone should write a book about that, but it won’t be me.

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MF: Sounds like a wise decision. Do you have a favorite author or favorite book of all time, perhaps one that inspired you to become an author?

SJ: There are few books I have read more than once and I can only think of one I’ve read more than twice and that’s The Power of One by Bryce Courtney. It is truly uplifting and got me through some very lonely times in my life. The film didn’t do it justice.

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MF: Thanks for the interview, Simon! I’m sure your work will benefit many as will your foray into teaching and sharing your vast knowledge and love for this very important subject.

Simon’s book is available at the following places:

Publishers Book Link

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Create Space

More about Simon Jones

Biography

Goodreads

Blog

Greek Fire: Interview with Konstantinos Karatolios

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One of my favorite sayings is “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Unfortunately, we see such consequences all around us. And it’s no wonder, considering the way they taught history when I was growing up, which was primarily to memorize dates and events without context. Bor-ing!

Quite frankly, I didn’t have much interest in the subject until I started researching my family’s genealogy several years ago. At that point it had meaning, as events at the various time periods affected my progenitors, specifically by precipitating migrations to say nothing of wars. Now that I’ve lived long enough to see a significant number of historical events transpire before my eyes, it’s even more interesting. At this point, I love it, but it’s taken me a lifetime to get there.

Thus, I find it tremendously encouraging to see a young man such as Konstantinos Karatolios embracing history. As you can tell from his name, he’s Greek, and thus hails from a culture with a long and rich history. I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, “Troy”, about the Trojan War and I can easily imagine Konstantinos in the role of Achilles, formerly portrayed by none other than Brad Pitt. If Konstantinos goes into teaching after completing his PhD, I’ll bet dollars to donuts he’s going to have a powerful affect on increasing interest in the subject, kind of like Indiana Jones did on archaeology. 😉

So without further ado, let’s learn some more about this good-looking guy who’s intelligent enough to realize what a treasure trove history is , long before he’s as old as dirt like myself, and discover his motivation to write “Greek Fire,” from which you can find an excerpt below the interview.

You can learn more about Konstantinos here as well as his website and connect via his Facebook page.


MF: Few civilizations have a history as rich as Greece. Which time period do you find most interesting?

KK: There is no doubt that there is a focus on the Classical Period and I truly understand the popularity of this era. However I think that if you scratch the surface you will find that other periods are very interesting as well. One of these is definitely the Mycenaean era. Despite all that I chose to write about the most ambiguous period of all. The medieval period, i.e. the Byzantine when we are talking about the East. It is definitely the least appreciated of all but it promises some of the biggest thrills to those who  bother study it.

MF: Who do you think is the most fascinating person in Greek history?

KK: That’s a really tough question. However it is my opinion that it’s not the charismatic leaders that make the important era but it is a significant era that calls for a charismatic leader. The same applies for artists and scientists too. What would Mozart have been if it wasn’t the historical period he was born at?

MF: How much truth to you think exists in Greek myths? Do you think they’re true stories embellished with time or purely symbolic?

KK: I think that myths are myths and we shouldn’t take them as facts. However no story is made without having a historical core. Difficult as it is our job is to find that core and see how it correlates with history.

MF: Was there something specific that drew your interest to Greek Fire?

KK: Greek Fire is covered in vagueness. It’s not only the fact that the way it was made was a state secret. Byzantines knew how important it was to possess a weapon that the opponents didn’t knew what it was and indeed we know that there were cases when armies surrendered just hearing that the Byzantines had it. So we have a weapon mentioned in a lot of sources but with a way that it doesn’t help us historians to draw definite conclusions. On the other hand the modern opinion of Greek Fire is oversimplified and totally unacceptable. The combination of these too made me interested in Greek Fire.

MF: Did you have any interesting experiences while researching your book?

KK: Researching is always an interesting experience by itself. All these little disappointments when you find out that things were not as you expected them to be on the one hand but also the huge satisfaction you get when you discover something new, is something difficult to describe.

MF: What’s the biggest challenge you found researching historical events?

KK: The biggest problem for a Byzantinologist is definitely the lack of sources. In many cases we must make the most with almost nothing.

MF: If you had access to a time machine, when and where would you want to go?

KK: It goes without saying that I would travel to the Byzantine Empire. I truly hope that they wouldn’t burn my time machine down using Greek Fire! It would be highly ironic!

MF: What is your favorite place to go when you’re seeking some inspiration?

KK: The ideal place for a writer is somewhere where he or she can be totally isolated from other people and not distracted at all. I have to admit that this is too good to be true. Usually I just lock myself up in my office but that’s never as isolated as it sounds!

MF: What are you currently working on?

KK: I’m working on my PhD. I try to find out everything there is for the education of the princes of the Macedonian Dynasty, at the Middle Byzantine Era. I am looking to return to Greek Fire as soon as I get the chance to do it.

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Excerpt:

“The wonder of the thousand-year Byzantine Empire could not have been achieved without an army that allowed it to maintain its existence for so many centuries. This was despite facing constant challenges from external enemies that differed significantly in their nature. In this context, what had been inherited from the Romans and the adoption of new weapons and tactics in battle were of equal importance. “Greek fire”, if not the most important of these weapons, was surely that which achieved the greatest fame of all. It was used throughout the course of the Byzantine Empire and granted resounding victories to its navy. Its use verges on legend, and yet almost all we know about it and its use is clouded by the vagueness of the primary sources.”

You can learn more about “Greek Fire” at the publisher’s site and pick up your copy from Amazon here.

An Expert’s View of Brexit

Small Island Big History (1)

One of the hot topics this week has been Brexit, Great Britain’s decision (at least England’s) to leave the European Union (EU). I find it interesting and perhaps a bit ironic that it came so close to the USA’s Independence Day, July 4. However, whether or not the decision will stand or be reversed via the Bremain movement is yet to be seen as more and more ramifications of the decision evolve.

This was the perfect time to interview author and historian, Christopher Berg, author/compiler of a book of essays on the British Empire entitled “Small Island, Big History.” I love the cover, which was a real eye-opener regarding Britain’s conquests over the centuries. Truly, British influence is worldwide, something that’s easily forgotten today when Britain’s prominence has retreated since the last century.

Let’s see what an expert on the subject has to say.

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MF: As a historian, especially with regard to the UK, did you see “Brexit” coming when the EU began to stumble a few years ago?

CB: No, I did not, though in hindsight, the UK was reluctant to relinquish the British pound for euros as it would have diluted their purchasing power, but, aside from this, the only one who probably saw it was Niall Ferguson.

MF: Do you think it was skepticism toward the EU at its inception that motivated the UK to retain its own currency and not accept the euro?

CB: That might be part of the answer but such matters are rarely so simple or cut-and-dry.  In an international context, the sovereignty of a nation must be maintained and to devalue, dilute, or jettison a national currency in favor of a new and untested common currency linked to dozens of other nations of varying economic strength and solvency was problematic for the British.

MF: The British Empire influenced the entire world with its conquests, largely by planting substantial populations imbued with its culture throughout the globe. From South Africa to India, New Zealand and Australia, there is no doubt that the British have enjoyed a worldwide influence. While over the past several decades, independence has been granted to several commonwealths, some peacefully, others not so much, with its extensive history of imperialism, why do you think that the UK joined the EU in the first place?

CB: Self-interest.  That is the primary motivation for most first-world nations and, perhaps, many aspiring nations that want to join the ranks.  And, it was an evolving economic reality and to keep markets stable and encourage and maintain good trade relationships with her continental neighbors, the British pondered long and hard about their entry into such an economic community.

MF: Do you think there was a single coup de grace that drove England to withdraw from the EU?

CB: The issue with many European banks bordering on the brink of collapse, the considerable economic tensions escalating with such countries as Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Greece, as well as the issue of a “bail-in” in Cyprus was startling news to many, including Germany.  The specific issue or trigger is much more difficult to pinpoint, if there is one.  Again, I would defer to Niall Ferguson, the imminent Harvard economic historian.

MF: Britain’s conquests have been anything but friendly, which earned her a lot of opposition based on her reputation for an iron hand and brutal enforcement. Do you think being tromped during WWII took her entirely by surprise? What affect did that have on her subsequent policies toward her commonwealths and the world in general?

Chris_HeadshotCB: WWII caught Britain by surprise in some respects.  The fall of Singapore, for example, suggests that they really had little intelligence on the “strength” or “state” of their empire.  It was simply the leadership of Winston Churchill that gave the British people the moral resolve to withstand the Nazi threat in 1940-41 and the budding friendship of Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt known as the “special relationship.”  Churchill was willing to make many compromises in terms of relinquishing colonies, and, as a former Colonial Secretary, was more even-handed in his approach to the colonies.  However, the shock of losing the empire after 1945 and the rise of self-determination brought a tough decision on how to move forward.  The British had lost their preeminent position of the Victorian Age and, now with the rise of the United States as the world superpower, a new balance-of-power had been thrust upon Great Britain.  Churchill’s prescience and a concern for home and social matters helped to ease the transition of Britain from a recognized world power to that of a secondary role.

MF: The initial response of the financial markets toward England’s withdrawal from the EU was unfavorable for its currency. What do you think the long term effect will be, to strengthen or continue to weaken the pound?

CB: I think that the move to withdraw from the EU was Britain’s response to growing uncertainty, the rise of international unrest, and economic instability in many EU-member countries.  In the short term, I think this was a defensive move to maintain the pound’s position.  The long term position is much harder to discern as economics is a volatile area that is very difficult to manage, much less be proactive about.

MF: What lessons should remaining members of the EU take from England’s withdrawal? Do you think others will follow?

CB; I do think that others might follow suit and others have expressed interest, such as Germany.  The stronger economies will definitely begin to re-think their present position and the international effect is only beginning to be felt, even here in the United States.

MF: What effect will this break for freedom have upon England’s citizenry? Do you think it will restore their pride and increase nationalism in a dramatic way?

CB: So far, it has shown to have a galvanizing effect upon the British people, a sense of renewed solidarity, and, perhaps, even a return to protectionist policies.

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You can pick up a copy of “Small Island, Big History” at the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Create Space

Additional Book Information

Quest Publications

Author Biography

 

BLOG HOP: “MIRROR OF OUR LIVES: Voices of Four Igbo Women”

Book Cover

In Mirror of Our Lives, four Nigerian women share the compelling tales of their troubled lives and failed marriages, revealing how each managed to not only survive, but triumph under difficult and repressive circumstances.

Njide, Nneka, Miss Nelly, and Oby relive their stories of passion, deceit, heartaches, and strength as they push through life—each on a unique journey to attain happiness, self-respect, and inner peace. But none of the women’s journeys is without misjudgments and missteps.

Njide falls in love at first sight, marries Tunji too quickly, and is dismayed when Tunji shows his true colors. Nneka once thought that she and Oji were the perfect couple—until Oji traveled to the United States. Miss Nelly is a kind and good natured woman who allows everyone to take advantage of her—even her husband, whom she married only for his name. But everyone wonders why Oby and Mat even married at all, for their marriage was a battle from the very beginning.

The tales in Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women will inspire women around the world to never give up, to discover a sense of worth, and most of all, to learn to love themselves above everything else.

Background To The Story:

It is important to give a brief background information on the history of this book. In my culture, it is a great luxury for a woman to be educated. This situation is still prevalent in certain parts of Nigeria, especially in the North, where the people are Muslims. In the South, women education has made a very deep inroad. It was a battle that the women themselves fought and won. Today, in our Universities, the population of the women is more than those of men. But there was a time, when, even in the South, the choice to educate the kids in a family, fell on the male children. The male child was always chosen over the female child, and the female child was bundled off into an early marriage. Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women, is the story of the victory that education has given to four Igbo women. It is also the story of what education can do for women, especially , women in the Muslim areas of Nigeria where education is still tabu for the women to attain happiness, self-respect and inner peace. But none of the women’s journeys is without misjudgments and missteps. You can also read the reviews on the book on Amazon.om and on Barnes & Noble.

An Interview with Adebowale On Mirror of Our Lives

(1) Your debut novel, Mirror of Our Lives, focuses on four Nigerian women who went through hardship but triumphed under such difficult and repressive circumstances. Is it right, therefore, to say that you are a female rights campaigner, or a feminist?

JLB: Thank you Adewale for your interest in my book, Mirror of Our Lives. Right now, I am writing you from California, where I am performing the “Omugwo” for my daughter who recently had a baby. When I sent you a complimentary copy of my book last April, 2012, I sent copies also to as many Nigerian newspapers and magazines, as I could find. Since then you are the second newspaper to show interest. Thank you very much for this. To answer your question, I do not like to be hedged into any type of category. I am for justice for all, for each person to be treated humanely, and for the disadvantaged to be given the opportunity to excel.

(2) One of the characters in the book is Njide. How much of your real self is reflected in Njide’s life?

JLB: One thing I learnt in my writing class is that no writer writes from a vacuum. You write from what you know, from personal experience, and then go from there to create a world, or in this case a situation that does not only reflect your personal experience, but all other experiences similar to yours. I am not totally Njide, but Njide lived a lot of my personal experiences, as well as the experiences of other women I have come to know.

(3) If Njide’s life is part of your story, then the other three characters — Nneka, Miss Nelly and Oby — must also have a link with you; can you share this with us?

JLB: Just as I said in my answer to your second question, after writing about Njide, I found it easy to fictionalize the experiences of other women I know. The names I used are not the names of the women whose stories I told, and the stories I told did not reflect the experiences of any particular woman. I wanted any woman who read the story to relate to it, and many women whom I know who read the story have called to tell me that the story of one of the women or the other is the story of their lives. This is what I wanted, to tell a universal story.

(4) In your opinion, do you think the average woman is getting her credit in her contribution to societal good?

JLB: In my opinion, women are doing better today than they did in the past, but that is not to say that they are getting the credit they deserve. I would like to see very hard working women given recognition based on their work. We see a lot of women today, especially in our society getting on based on who they know, and not on their contribution in their areas of specialization. God fatherism in whatever shade or colour, to whom ever uses it, male or female, should not be condoned in public service. We see a lot of this happening in our country.

(5) Mirror of Our Lives is an interesting read. When next is the public reading another story from you?

JLB: I am working on it.

(6) The book is actually published by a foreign publisher; was there a reason why you didn’t approach our local publishers?

JLB: There were two main reasons why the book was not published by a local publisher; first, I wrote the book while I was still living and working in the United States, so I was more familiar with the publishing scene of the US. Secondly, if you notice, the book is a self-published book. I did not want to suffer any rejection on this book as I did in my other attempts to publish. I believed so much in this book that I wanted it out by all means, and iUniverse provided me the opportunity  to self-publish.

Author Pic

Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

Joy’s Bio

Joy Nwosu was born in Enugu, Anambra State of south-eastern Nigeria. Her parents were Charles Belonwu and Deborah Nwosu. She is the fifth in rank of the seven children of her parents. Joy was born into a music family.

Joy, now retired, was a music teacher, trained in Santa Cecilia, Rome, and obtained her Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Michigan, USA.

She has written and published extensively on national and international scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Her short story I Come from Utopia was published in African Voices, Spring/Summer, 2007, pg. 18, and her first English novel; Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women was published in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Contest in 2012. She has also two books published in the Italian language.

Joy is a trained musician, and taught music for 35 years.  She writes, performs, and record folk songs.

Her new book: The Legend of the Walking Dead: Igbo Mythologies, which has just been released, is a journey into the mysteries of life and death of the Igbos of Nigeria.  She loves reading romances and mystery stories.

Websites:      http://sbpra.com/joylobamijoko/  Mirror of Our Lives …..

                         http://sbprabooks.com/JoyNwosuLoBamijoko/ Legend of the Walking…

Buy Mirror of Our Lives…Amazon Link:

http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Our-Lives-Women/dp/1450278965

Barnes & Noble Link

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mirror-of-our-lives-joy-nwosu-lo-bamijoko/1102630079?ean=9781450278966

Link to my Blog:       jinlobify.Com

Face BookLink: https://www.facebook.com/joy.lobamijoko

Link to my LinkedIn Book Add

http://goo.gl/fT1P2O

Trailer: Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women

https://youtu.be/UhSyMaUz0Uk

Twitter Handle:         @Jinlobify

Interview with Author/Historian, Augustine Kobayashi

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Augustine Kobayashi

What better way to commemorate Memorial Day than with a history lesson?

Tokyo-born Augustine Kobayashi, author of “Japan’s Pacific War”, earned postgraduate degrees in modern international history and Byzantine history at Leeds and London Universities in the U.K. In the following interview he shares insights that convinced me that what’s needed in politics today is more attention to historians and less to lawyers, businessmen and career politicians. Historians possess a perspective that could work through differences in a diplomatic fashion while never forgetting the fact that future generations will be affected by those decisions. Most of what we see today are those seeking only to expand their own wealth and power. The few who know anything about history only use it to further their own agenda, not improve the human condition.

MF: What motivated you to research and subsequently write your book, “Japan’s Pacific War”?

AK: I had been writing some historical articles for Historical Quest ezine, and I got some responses from readers for my article explaining how Japan’s war in China in the 1930s and the Pacific War were linked. Many reacted saying that they had no idea how the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) directly led to WW2 in Asia. I felt that we have a knowledge gap in this area of 20th century history, and thought that I could make some contributions to fill it. As for the American side of the story, there are many excellent books out there, so I decided to tell Japan’s story, from a Japanese perspective. When I was a student back in Leeds University, UK, I did research on Anglo-American relations in the 1920s, including some naval strategic discussions, such as how Japan’s stance in the world stage might affect international politics. In a way, this current book of mine is the fruition of my past historical studies.

MF: What surprised you the most regarding Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor? Do you think they were realistic in their expectations of the outcome?japan_for web

AK: In hindsight, Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor is incredible, but, having gone through Japanese history of the 1930s, I have found that it is not really so surprising. Given the pre-WW2 American isolationism and Eurocentric tendency of the USG(overnment), giving strategic and diplomatic priorities to the solving of European situation, if they didn’t think that the USA would react by mobilizing the whole economy for war to crush Japan no matter what, it is understandable that they miscalculated this way. This is the time before TV or the Internet. People were not well informed and the Japanese public knew nothing about the outside world. The Japanese military basically thought that the US would be too busy fighting Germany or even be defeated and all they had to do was to immobilize the US Fleet a while, pick off Western colonies in the Western Pacific one by one and hold out until the European war was settled in favour of the Berlin-Tokyo Axis. If Germany had won, these expectations would have been deemed as quite realistic. Ironically, they attacked Pearl Harbor just when Germany tasted her first defeat in front of Moscow.

MF: As a student of Byzantine history, what is the most important lesson you believe it holds for those of us living in modern times?

AK: Things change. The secret of longevity of the Byzantine Empire was its ability to reinvent itself every now and then after crises. So much so that, even though it’s real designation should be the ‘Roman’ Empire, modern historians, who are so fond of the Classical image of Imperial Rome, feel uncomfortable with the designation ‘Rome’ and use ‘Byzantine’ instead for the empire after the 4th or 5th centuries. But this is precisely the point: it changed its shape and cultural characteristics so much to cope with the changing political, economical and military environment surrounding the empire, after several centuries, it was almost unrecognizable. So, the lessons for us are: be flexible and accept changes. Rely on your ingenuity rather than muscle power.

MF: A common saying is “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” What is your favorite example of a culture or country failing to learn from previous civilizations?

AK: There are so many, it is difficult to single out a favourite one. As I live in Japan now, I’m concerned with China at the moment, as she seems to be in danger of repeating Japan’s mistakes in the 1930s and the 1940s. Given that China was the chief victim of Japan’s aggression in those decades, it would be so ironic. Hope the Chinese are capable of learning from others’ mistakes.

MF: The world today has a lot of problems. Based on your studies, what do you think is the most important thing world leaders should do to avoid another World War?

AK: Do not let others fear you too much. A cornered beast tends to lash out, which was the case for Japan in 1941; and I suspect that that is what is happening with the Islamic militants right now. The Byzantine Empire fought a devastating war with its rival, the Persian Empire in the 7th century, which in turn led to the Islamic Arab conquests. The Persians started this war as they were so worried over the reviving power of the Byzantine Empire (in 476AD, they had gleefully been watching the fall of the West; but now alarmed by the Byzantine reconquests of North Africa and Italy in the 6th century).

Christianity as soft power of Rome, its spread among small countries and ethnic groups geographically surrounding Persia frightened her leaders. Persia attacked Rome when internal power struggle at the capital Constantinople momentarily paralyzed the Byzantine war machine as a heaven-sent and only opportunity to strike. In modern times, in WW1, both Germany and England were motivated by the need to weaken their rivals before they became too strong. Japan’s war in China in the 1930s was partly due to a resurgent China and thus Japan’s fear of losing their top dog status in Asia. As for solutions to this problem of power imbalance, I don’t really know. Probably we have to find out by working patiently through diplomatic effort.

guscropMF: What are you finding in your current research into Syriac Christianity and its spread into Persia that relates to modern tensions between Christians and Muslims?

AK: Persia’s state religion was Zoroastrianism at the time, but Christianity was gaining ground. It seems that Jesus’ saying that he came to fulfill old religion applied to Persia also! When you realise that Judaism had also been strongly influenced by Persia, which released Jews in captivity and allowed them to return to Jerusalem, you can see that Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians were not that very different. And Persia can be a very tolerant place for different religions.

But inevitably, religion and politics cannot be separated completely; conflicting socio-economic and political forces often clashed along religious lines, causing internal instability and external wars. As in my answer to question No.5, as Rome’s power grew, Christianity was seen as a threat by the Persians. At this stage, Roman Christianity became a political religion, which forced a political response from Rome’s rival(s). I think that today’s problems we have with Christians and Muslims are fundamentally the same: they are not really in conflict in terms of religion, but, whenever communal tensions arise and political conflict develops, they unfurl their respective banners and try to protect themselves by rallying around them. Some hotheaded young men often employ rhetoric of religious mission etc., but they do not really represent what should be the majority view.

MF: Do you think it will ever be possible for those two religions, which actually have similar roots, to make peace with one another?

AK: The answer should be yes. Different religious communities usually live in peace side by side most of the time anyway. It is a time of political tensions when religious communities are pitted against one another. The Coptic Egyptian Christians, for example, had lived in a relative calm for nearly 2,000 years until very recently. They should be able to go back to that, normal state. In Syria, sadly, the Christians appear to be being exterminated or displaced permanently, but, once a politically stable Syria could be achieved, Christians and Muslims should be able to live side by side again. But so long as political forces exploiting religious differences remain too strong, it might be a while before that could happen.

Pick up your electronic copy of “Japan’s Pacific War” on Amazon here.

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/6222626

Read more about Augustine: http://www.quest-publications.com/authors/kobayashi/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15168533.Augustine_Kobayashi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/augustine.kobayashi

Publisher’s Book Link: http://www.quest-publications.com/books/japans-pacific-war/

Interview with Multi-genre Author John Reinhard Dizon

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John Reinhard Dizon is one of my favorite authors and definitely one of the most versatile. His literary repertoire includes thrillers, family sagas, historical settings, steampunk, sports, suspense and techno-horror to name a few.  His latest release, Both Sides Now, is a romantic comedy, and I must say that I have a bit of a personal interest in this book since I designed both the interior and the cover plus my daughter is the model on the back. While formatting the interior, I gleaned enough of the story’s basics that I’m looking forward to reading it properly in the near future.

I interviewed John a few years back, but in view of this new release, I thought it was time for a rerun with some specific questions directed at him about this latest work. While he dubs it a romantic comedy, it struck me as much more substantial, especially with its unique setting and situations. So let’s see what he has to say.

MF:  The protagonist in your latest novel, “Both Sides Now”, is an intellectual wrestler. You are a highly intelligent person and were a wrestler in a “previous life”, which explains the authentic feel and terminology of the sport. How much of this story is autobiographical?

JRD: Actually it’s far more biographical. Hans “The Great” Mortier was one of my mortierWorld Wide Wrestling Federation childhood favorites. There was a major roster change when Vince Mc Mahon bought the Company from his father at the end of the Sixties, and the stars from the old regime were swept under the rug. Mortier was not a German professor, so that is all ‘what-if’. However, a large portion of the story is going to be instantly recognizable to fans of the era. The novel is as much a testament to the era as it is to Hans Mortier.

MF: Ray Karpis, quite a shady character from the early 20th Century, has made an appearance in two of your books, this latest one as well as “The Triad.” What do you find most appealing about him?  Did you ever meet him?

TheTriadCover1 copyJRD: As a criminologist, I have to say that Alvin Karpis is my favorite gangster. He was the last of the Public Enemies but was so elusive and shadowy that hardly anyone knows of him. I wrote Both Sides Now before The Triad and paid homage to Karpis by naming the Lou Thesz-based character after him. Outside of his autobiography and the Public Enemies biography and movie, there is almost nothing out there about Karpis. Hence The Triad. I think I did a good job of bringing his personage to life. He was considered a genius, loyal and generous to a fault, and very much in touch with the modern world and technical developments. Like most of the great gangsters, he would have been a tremendous success in society and the real world had he not gone the wrong way.

MF:  You do a great job of capturing the flavor of other eras as well as places.  You’ve lived through quite a few yourself, but when you get beyond your experience, what’s your favorite research method for your stories?

bothsidesnowcover6.jpgJRD:  The Internet usually helps you find the resources you need to make your story work. Only in this case, as you mentioned, I lived through most of this. Ergo, it was mostly a matter of documenting my recollections. I spent a lot of time in the NYU neighborhood, Soho and Greenwich Village, so most of what I did was pull up addresses. I read hundreds of wrestling magazines so was familiar with the old-time arenas. I was also a paralegal, so that helped me make the courtroom drama all the more realistic.

MF:  You’ve certainly held a wide variety of jobs, which undoubtedly contributes to your writing. Authenticity is important if you want to be taken seriously as an author and when you can say, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt” the details bring the story alive. As far as the plot itself, do your stories reveal themselves as you write or do you know what’s going to happen, start to finish, when you first sit down to write them?

JRD:  Many times the characters end up helping write the stories, as Sabrina Brooks does in the Nightcrawler series. She just makes things happen around her. In this story, Ray Karpis greatly influenced the conflict in the storyline (pun somewhat intended). He becomes the voice of reason, letting Lucien clearly see all the possibilities if he chose that direction in life along the road to wrestling superstardom. I think it also lets the reader see ‘both sides now’ and will stimulate discussion as to whether or not Lucien makes the right choice.

MF: Ethical dilemmas make great material because the reader is forced to think.  You have a huge list of published work. How long does it take you, on average, to finish one of your novels?

courthouse1JRD:  It varies, considering how complex the story is. The action/adventure stories move along pretty quickly as there’s the adrenaline rush that keeps you writing. Historical fiction such as this takes a bit longer because you have to authenticate your work. Getting names, places and events wrong will leave your story dead in the water. The courtroom storyline in this novel took almost as much research as all the wrestling background. It probably took the better part of a year to put it all together.

MF: Wow! That’s so true, though, if you want to be taken seriously as an author. When a reader stops to roll his or her eyes because something is inaccurate it pulls them out of the story, which is the last thing an author wants to do. Of the numerous books you’ve written, do you have one particular character who’s your favorite? Why?

JRD:  I’m having to go with Sabrina Brooks, aka the Nightcrawler. Every one of her novels is an adventure in itself. She’s a beautiful woman who moonlights as a crimefighter, who seems to target the Russian Mob. She’s the CEO of a chemical company, which means she doesn’t have to do this but does anyway. She’s very compassionate and is a churchgoer, which makes her all the more unique. Her personal relationships suffer greatly as she gets beat up, and the Nightcrawler’s successes come at the expense of her personal life. I enjoy writing her story as much as people love reading it.

MF:  Multi-dimensional characters are essential to a good story.  So what’s your favorite part of the writing process? Which part is the most difficult?

JRD: It’s the dialogue. It may be my strong point as a writer, and it helps me develop the characters and give the reader the best insight as to the speaker’s personality and motivation. The reason why reality TV shows get over is because people want to see their heroes behind the scenes. In literature, the author allows readers to listen to the characters giving up their innermost hopes and fears. The most difficult part is bringing it all together, making the story plausible. You do your homework, you authenticate your background, you flesh out your characters, but your audience has to buy your story. That’s the make or break part, and I think I make that happen every time.

MF:  Yes, you certainly do! When did you decide you wanted to be an author?

JRD: I was writing dialogue for my stick-figure cartoons when I was six. I was fascinated by TV and the movies and wanted to tell my own stories. Many people will say my entire life was about turning my fantasies into reality.

MF: So obviously you were born to write, which isn’t surprising considering how prolific you are.  You’ve worn a variety of hats over the years in a wide variety of jobs and places. What can we expect from you in the future? At what stage is your next novel and when do you expect it to be out?

JRD:  The Blight is about a decorated fire team of Navy SEAL commandos working as an elite unit for the St. Louis PD. They are taking on a mass murderer intent on destroying the ‘social blight’ plaguing the city. Kirsten Streicher is a typical JRD bad-ass female protagonist. Only her team is heavily impacted by the madman known as X, and the writing is on the wall as their group is slowly disbanding. Kirsten is forced to move forward with a whirlwind romance beckoning, though she feels compelled to bring the killer to justice before her career comes to an end. As usual, there’s lots of social issues and moral conundrums discussed, and the standard JRD reflections of current-day controversies. I’m hoping to release it by Summer 2016.

MF:  Sounds like another winner! Is there any particular author or authors who have inspired you the most?

JRD:  Shakespeare, Ian Fleming and Robert E. Howard. The Bard for his conciseness and verbal dynamism, Fleming for his ability to take the reader to a myriad of locations, societies and situations, and Howard for his gift of lurid description and breathtaking action. I hope my readers see my work in a favorable light in comparison.

MF: From what I’ve read, I believe you can rest assured that they will.

You can pick up a copy of Both Sides Now on Amazon here.

Connect with John Reinhard Dizon:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/johnreinharddizonUSA

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/John-Reinhard-Dizon/e/B00DU9JNUQ/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JohnRDizon

 

 

JUST RELEASED! Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Andy Smithson, Book 5

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I’m delighted to participate in this blog tour for L.R.W. Lee’s latest episode in the Andy Smithson fantasy series for Middle Grade readers!  I had the pleasure of sharing a booth with her at the Austin Book Festival last October and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this intelligent and fascinating person. Learn more about the fifth book in the series, get to know more about the author and then be sure to grab a copy from the buy links at the end.

Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem…humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.

Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!

If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.

Purchase Kindle and Paperback

 THE BUZZ

5 Stars! – “A marvelous book in a great series!” – Erik Weibel (Age 14) This Kid Reviews Books Blog

“Readers of this series have come to anticipate a host of challenges, intense battles, and on an epic scale. In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, you won’t be disappointed. For lovers of fantasy, I consider it a must read.” – Richard Weatherly, Author

“One of the admirable qualities I like about the entire series is seeing Andy’s growth from a self-absorbed kid to a more thoughtful teen as he learns how to deal with the various crises which face him, all the while knowing that the future may hold unpleasant consequences.  The watchword for Vision of the Griffin’s Heart is “courage.” – Wayne Walker, Home School Book Review

THE DEPTH OF THE ANDY SMITHSON SERIES

If you’re an adult looking for a clean series you can sink your teeth into, Andy Smithson is definitely it! In it I develop four layers simultaneously: 1) Andy Smithson in Lakehills, TX 2) Andy in Oomaldee 3) the Afterlife 4) a meaning layer. A few examples to demonstrate the depth…

Symbolism is used extensively (a couple examples):

  • The fog of the curse symbolizes blindness and oppression.
  • The magic key unlocks doors, brings stone statues to life, as well as revives. Put another way, it symbolizes bringing forth, opening up, and revealing (aka taking responsibility).
  • Methuselah is not only a weapon and helper, but also represents justice as it divides good and evil. Consistent with life, justice requires diligence to uphold.

Names are also important in this series (a few examples):

  • Andy means brave or courageous.
  • Alden means helper.
  • Hannah means favor or grace.
  • Imogenia means blameless.

Alchemy used throughout the series (a few examples):

  • Alchemy played a significant role in the development of modern science. Alchemists sought to transformbase metals into the gold or silver and/or develop an elixir of life which would confer youth and longevity and even immortality.
  • In the series, the first instance of alchemy begins with the gold weavers, Max, Oscar, and Henry, spinning straw into gold to manufacture the wealth of the kingdom.
  • The four elementals: air, earth, fire, and water are then seen on Methuselah’s hilt.

 The titles of the books manifest yet another layer of meaning and reveal Imogenia’s evolution.

  • Beginning with Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Imogenia is furious at what has happened to her and she fuels her emotional hurt.
  • In Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Imogenia turns venomous (or spiteful) and cunning in seeking ways to continually punish her brother.
  • Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor has Imogenia act in a manner disgraceful to the honor of royalty.
  • In Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace we see Imogenia’s grace reborn as she begins to reflect.

In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Imogenia realizes she is gripped by hatred and distrust she has harbored for so long. Unlike griffins who choose to trust others, Imogenia cannot yet make that leap when it comes to her brother.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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R. W. Lee credits her love of fantasy with her introduction to C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Later on, she enjoyed the complex world of Middle Earth brought to life by J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The multiple dimensions of the worlds mixed with a layer of meaning, captivated her and made her desire to invent Young Adult Fantasy and Epic Fantasy worlds others could get lost in, but also take meaning away from. More recently, L. R. W. Lee has found inspiration from J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series as well as Brandon Mull and his best selling Fablehaven, Beyonders and Five Kingdoms series.
R. W. Lee writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. She lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Their daughter is a Computer Engineer for Microsoft and their son serves in the Air Force.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Email

L.R.W. LEE INTERVIEW

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

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.

  1. How did your experience with building a business help with your writing?

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.

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

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.

  1. What do you love the most about writing for young people?

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.

  1. Which part of the creative process is your favorite? Least favorite?

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.

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

Usually about 6 months.

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

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.

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

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

  1. How do you feel your writing has evolved since your first novel?

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 J

OTHER BOOKS IN THE ANDY SMITHSON SERIES:

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Blast of the Dragon’s Fury (Andy Smithson, Book One) ebook is FREE. Download a copy at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Google, B&N.

Listen to the FREE podcast of Book 1 by L. R. W. Lee on Podiobooks.

Book one is also available in paperback.

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Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning (Andy Smithson, Book Two) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

Download the professionally recorded audiobook at Amazon

It’s only $1.99 if you download the eBook first…Savings of $16!

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Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor (Andy Smithson, Book Three) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

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Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace (Andy Smithson, Book Four) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

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Power of the Heir’s Passion (Andy Smithson, Prequel Novella) ebook is FREE. Pick up a copy at Amazon, Google, B&N, Smashwords. It’s also available in paperback.

Download the professionally recorded audiobook at Amazon

It’s only $1.99 if you download the eBook for $.99 first…Savings of $1!

Roy Huff: Mastermind behind the Everville Epic Fantasy Series

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Roy Huff is a prolific writer who has just released the fourth volume in his Everville fantasy series entitled “The Fall of Brackenbone”.  As I write it’s already number one in various categories in six countries & ranked number 60 in all books in the US and Canada. The boxed set is currently #1 in anthologies in the paid Kindle Store. Clearly Roy’s a gutsy, off-the-scale intelligent guy who’s not only well-traveled but has accumulated a plethora of college degrees as fodder for his popular books.

MF: The creative writing bug didn’t bite you until later in life. At what point did you decide to become a serious writer?

RH: I was writing a paper for an English class, then the feedback I received was very positive, so I decided to turn the assignment into an actual book, and then soon after that a series.

MF: Did discovering your creative writing side come as a surprise?

RH: I had other creative talents such as drawing and singing. My father had drawing talent as well, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. What surprised me the most is how fast I’m able to write off the cuff. Last week Saturday I wrote 40 pages alone. I’ve written countless 30+ days, all with no outline.

MF: Does your scientific background inhibit or enhance your creativity?

RH: I certainly think my science background provides added background when I am writing, and it definitely helps with my speed.

MF: Tell us a little about Everville. What was your original premise? Did you expect it to grow into a series?

RH: So Owen Sage is a college freshman who is pulled into the fantasy world of Everville in book #1. He learns of how his world and the others are connected and works with various races and creatures across time and space to stop whatever dark force comes his way. After a few chapters through book #1, I decided to turn it into a series.

MF: Who’s your favorite character other than your protagonist and why?

RH: I still like The Keeper. His wisdom is great. He is a fatherly figure that I think most people will enjoy.

MF: Of the four books in the Everville series which title was your favorite? Which was the most challenging to write?

RH: I liked the last two books the most. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but there are a few sub plots that carry the story into unexpected directions. I was really pleased when I finished writing it.

MF: Do you plan to continue adding to Everville or start another story line? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

RH: There will be 4 more books in the series. In each story, Owen must pass the test of one of the Pillars of Truth. This will continue, but the details remain yet to be written.

MF: What part of the writing process is your favorite? Least favorite?

RH: I like it most when I actually sit down and start writing. The writing flows. The thing I [like] least is actually sitting down and starting. It’s always that first step that’s most difficult, especially when you have a million things going on.

MF: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

RH: Just start writing. Write as consistently as possible. Try writing everyday, even if it’s just a paragraph or a page. Do it first, before you start watching tv or doing something else, but take a nap first. Get a little rest and refresh your brain. Don’t let fear of not being good enough keep you from writing. You can learn along the way. Failure and bad reviews can teach us, but if you never actually sit down and write, you will never get anything written.

MF: What’s your favorite activity when you need inspiration?

RH: I like daydreaming or sleeping. Both are very productive when it comes to creativity. I do enjoy watching tv or movies or using random word generators at times, but sleep and thinking are the most effective.

MF: Is there anything you want your readers to derive from your stories besides enjoyment?

RH: There are some points of wisdom that can be gleaned from the story, but I’ll leave that to the reading.

MF: Among your many travels do you have a favorite place? What about it enchants you the most?

RH: Hard to say. I love London, Vancouver, Kobe, Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco. All great places. I plan on traveling much more when I have the time.

You can find out more bout him on his Amazon page bio. His book are currently on sale on Amazon so grab one now!

Connect with Roy:

Blog http://www.owensage.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/EvervilleFans

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/evervillefans

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Roy-Huff/e/B00BCX199A/

 Buy links:

Everville - 6

The Fall of Brackenbone Worldwide

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00WWO1CC2

Updated Small

Everville:  Books #1-3 Boxed Set

US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013HWFNYU/

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B013HWFNYU/

Meet Multi-talented, Multi-genre Author, Jeanne Foguth

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Jeanne Foguth’s story of Xander de Hunter as chronicled in “The Red Claw” was an absolutely purr-fect light read which you can learn more about in my review of that title. As a cat lover I am hooked. To my great delight, she has just released Xander’s latest tale (or perhaps I should say “tail”?) entitled “Purr-a-noia” with another “Sea Purrtector Files” episode promised for next year.

Yet these charming cat adventure stories are but a small part of Jeanne’s repertoire. If you’re a romantic suspense, fantasy or science fiction fan you’ll want to get a hold of her other novels as well. Her vast travel experience coupled with her attention to detail create engaging characters in the midst of exotic settings which will pull you in and leave you wanting more. So without further ado, let’s learn more about this fascinating author and creator of my favorite cat hero.

MF: Clearly you’re an avid cat lover, which seems to be the case with numerous writers. What besides a strong affection for felines inspired you to write The Red Claw and its upcoming sequels starring Xander de Hunter?

JF: Yes, I love cats. In fact, I like most types of animals and over the years, we have had a wide assortment of furry and feathered friends. In 1981, we were adopted by Rom a.k.a. The Ramakazi, who became my good friend, fellow gardener and writing partner. We shared an L-shaped desk where he lounged on his keyboard while he looking out the window and tweeting to the birds. This allowed me to write freelance projects without him feeling the need to edit my work.

Rom was a major part of our lives until he died at 16.5. For years, I thought of various ways to write a memorial to him and when we were living aboard EvenStar, our Gemini 105MC, I imagined how Rom would have enjoyed the adventure…. by the time we got to Jamaica, where The Red Claw is set, I began putting notes in a file. Initially, I thought that I would only write one book, however I had so much fun that The Sea Purrtector Files is turning into a series. Purr-a-Noia (#2) is newly released and The Vi-Purrs (#3) will be out in early 2016.

MF: Do you have a favorite real-life cat that demonstrates Xander’s traits?

JF: Rom, who Xander is based on, loved technology and seemed very adept at turning things on and opening things – not so good at turning them off or closing drawers and doors. His technical expertise is the main reason we realized we could not share a keyboard and mouse. He was also “Mr. Cool’ when startled, so even when he decided that retreat was the wise choice, he never tucked tail and ran – he exited with dignity. In your review of The Red Claw, you suggested that Xander was sort of a feline 007 and that captures Rom’s character quite well.

BTW, the Siamese cat on The Red Claw‘s cover is Rom. We don’t have many photos of him, so my cover artist, Kiara Graham, adapted the same photo for Purr-a-Noia‘s cover.

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MF: He was certainly beautiful and it’s like he’s looking through you with those blue eyes. I can’t think of a better way to immortalize a beloved pet than in a series of novels. What other animals have you had for pets besides cats?

JF: Hmmm, that is a long list. When I was a child, we lived on a dairy farm, which was at least a half mile from the next neighbor. Aside from cows, we had horses, a dog, sheep (rams are NOT good pets, but lambs are adorable), pigs and chickens.

Over the years, we have usually had a cat and sometimes a dog, but we’ve also had a variety of outdoor pets, which included birds, bunnies and even a few goats (I called them my gardening crew and used them in my war on kudzu ;-).

MF: Your biographical sketch mentions that you have a background in technical writing. Which industry was it applied to?

JF: Initially, I helped write J.C.H.A.(hospital procedure manuals) and preventive maintenance guidelines. Later, I wrote computer-user manuals as well as several free-lance projects that included policy and procedure manuals for some small companies.

MF: How do feel your technical writing experience influenced your fiction writing?

JF: I am a stickler for accuracy. It was drilled into me that J.C.H.A. manuals were used by hospital staff as a guide to treat life-threatening conditions.

MF: I can relate. Accuracy was drummed into my head when I was a techwriter at NASA. Speaking of accuracy, clearly you have traveled extensively which enriches your writing’s sense of place with a strong sense of authenticity. Your descriptions of Jamaica made me feel as if I was there such that I would recognize it if I ever was.  Which location is your favorite and why?

JF: My favorite is wherever our next destination is 😉

I also like where I am and where I have been. Each place has had good and bad points. For example: in Alaska, the Northern Lights were amazing, but the mosquitoes were horrid (BTW, catnip is ten times better than DEET as an insect repellent and if you use it, you might make a new feline friend).

MF: LOL! I have a hard time growing catnip because it always gets ravaged long before harvest. I have one plant surrounded by a hardware cloth cage which so far has survived.

As you’ve gone to these fascinating locations do you find that you’re always thinking like a writer in that new experiences automatically evolve into a new story idea? Or does the story come first with travel and research following?

JF: Yes to both. For instance, the initial idea for Star Bridge (#1 of the Chatterre Trilogy) came to me on a sweltering day, as I was sitting in traffic, waiting to make a left turn. I had the thought that there wouldn’t be traffic jams and pollution on a world where humanity chose to live in harmony with nature. Of course, when I actually began writing the book, I needed to research a variety of things. For instance, Nimri, a main character, is an herbal healer, so I needed to verify what each herb that I used in the book was good for and also to confirm that if people decided to use something, it should not have an adverse reaction to something I mentioned in a scene.

MF: I’m a real fan of accuracy myself. You never know who might be reading your book and if they’re familiar with the subject and you get it wrong then you lose all credibility. Such details in fiction should be trustworthy as well as contribute to the substance and reality of the story. Speaking of accuracy, I assume that you’ve spent some time living on a boat based on the terminology the average non-mariner wouldn’t know in “The Red Claw.” What’s your favorite part about that life? What would you recommend to someone considering such a lifestyle?

JF: We lived aboard EvenStar for a few years. My favorite part was that I didn’t need to pack a suitcase when we moved to the next country – we only needed to pull up the anchor.

If anyone was considering the lifestyle, I would recommend:

1) that they be a good jack-of-all-trades because once you get off shore, you and your shipmates need to be capable of dealing with a wide variety of problems.

2) that they be competent sailors and good at plotting an accurate course.

3) that they be adventurous and open-minded, yet realize there are dangers out there, so avoid inviting problems aboard and stay away from trouble spots.

4) that they expect to learn new languages and understand cultural sub-text and not expect people in a new country to adapt to them.

MF: Makes sense! Have you had any frightening experiences living on a boat?

JF: Of course, but I’ve had worse and more life-threatening experiences on land.

MF: I can believe that. So which of your many books and/or characters are your personal favorites?

JF: That is a difficult choice, but I think Kazza and Xander are my favorites. Interestingly enough, both are cats, so I guess that brings us full circle to your initial observation that I am an avid cat lover.

Be sure to connect with Jeanne via her social media sites listed below and pick up one or more of her books today!  Also note that both Xander and Kazza have their own blogs which have links on Jeanne’s blog site.

CONNECT WITH JEANNE:

Website: www.jeannefoguth.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jeanne-Foguth/e/B00JDW7TC8

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PurrtectorFiles

Blog: https://foguth.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeannefoguth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1452089.Jeanne_Foguth

Jeanne’s Books on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=%22Jeanne+Foguth%22

Jeanne’s Books on Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/-Jeanne-Foguth-?store=allproducts&keyword=%22Jeanne+Foguth%22

AMAZON BOOK LINKS

The Red Claw: http://www.amazon.com/Red-Claw-Purrtector-Files-Book-ebook/dp/B00OYAXK6I/

Purr-a-noia: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZFUKBAO

Star Bridge (Chatterre Trilogy Book 1): http://www.amazon.com/Star-Bridge-Book-Chaterre-Trilogy/dp/099133387X/

Thunder Moon (Chatterre Trilogy Book 2): http://www.amazon.com/Thunder-Moon-Chatterre-Trilogy-Triology-ebook/dp/B00S2WGH82/

Deadly Rumors: http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Rumors-Jeanne-Foguth/dp/0991333810/

Fatal Attractions: http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Attractions-Jeanne-Foguth-ebook/dp/B00JDNBS7O/

Passion’s Fire: http://www.amazon.com/Passions-Fire-Jeanne-Foguth/dp/0991333845/

The Peacekeepers: http://www.amazon.com/Peacekeepers-Jeanne-Foguth/dp/193092870X/