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HeadshotRay Sutherland is a Kentucky native who grew up on a farm outside of Bowling Green. He served in the Army, spent two years in Germany, received his B.A. in religion from Western Kentucky University, and his PhD in the Bible from Vanderbilt University.  Ray has served of Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke for over thirty years, pastored a small church for nine years, and is retired from the Army Reserve. He and his wife Regina live in North Carolina and have two sons and four grandchildren.

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INTERVIEW:

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Secret Agent Angel. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: Billy Graham said that angels are God’s secret agents and I decided to write the fictional adventures of one of those secret agent angels. I wrote it in the first person from the angel’s perspective somewhat along the lines of the secret agent and detective novels of the 50’s and 60’s by Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, and Donald Hamilton, which were often told in first person. Samuel the angel comes to earth in human form to help persuade some people to make right decisions in crises. He visits an accountant who is tempted to steal. He goes along with two truckers who befriend an abused boy. He helps a war veteran find forgiveness of his former enemies. He helps some porters on their trip down the Ho Chi Minh trail. All of these things come together in a snowbound truck stop where a fire demon comes to destroy one man’s faith. Or his life. Forty years of angelic work all come together for that one confrontation.

Q: What do you think makes a good inspirational suspense? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

front cover finalA: Suspense and inspiration, both of which are provided in “Secret Agent Angel.” Most importantly, it is a well-told story and highly entertaining. The suspense comes from the tense situations in which Samuel the angel and his companions find themselves. The inspiration comes from the people in the story learning about their spiritual talents and their ability to do what is right. Even the angel learns some things.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I don’t work from a written outline but I certainly have a mental one. I planned out the opening, the major turning point and the ending, including the climax. Then I wrote the whole book with those plans in mind. I keep a detailed plan in mind for the next couple of episodes.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A:There are no real angels around for me to watch so I had to improvise what I thought about how an angel would act. There are a few short accounts in the Bible about angel’s appearing, but they are very short of details. Much more helpful was the apocryphal/deutero-canonical book of Tobit which features an angel appearing as a human, so I relied on that account fairly heavily. But I had to use a lot of imagination.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: I have known some people very much like the angel’s opponents in the story. So the villains are composites of people I have known.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: I mostly used my own reaction as a guide. If an episode excited and entertained me, I kept at it. If it didn’t, I didn’t write it and found another way which I found to be exciting and entertaining.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: A standard writers’ adage is to write what you know and in Secret Agent Angel, I followed that advice. I haven’t yet met any real angels, but most of the situations in which Samuel the secret agent angel finds himself  are very similar to things I have done in my own life. I was assigned to tanks in the army. My first job was loading and unloading trucks. The owner of the truck company also owned a truck stop, so I spent some time in it and other truck stops as well. I have visited many hospitals in the course of my pastoral duties. All of those settings appeared in the novel. One part which does not come from my own experience is the chapter about porters on the Ho Chi Minh trail just before the Tet offensive. I had to do a lot of research for that, but I enjoyed that challenge.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A:The theme that the spirit world is at work in our world is that is one thing that I have seen in my own life and experience. I had that theme firmly in mind when I started the book. That God is at work around us is as much an underlying assumption of the book as it is a theme. It is very much present in my next book, a historical novel about King David, the biblical king of Israel.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A:Editing is an absolute necessity, both self-editing and outside editing. Editing can be done in such a way as to be a problem with creativity, but I did not have that problem. My editor at Black Opal, Faith, did an excellent job and was very helpful.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A:Reading widely and learning from great writers is mandatory. Being persistent. Keep at the writing and finish the project. Write the book, then prepare the manuscript for submission. Be persistent in submitting it. Every writer gets rejection. Get over it and send it out again. And again. And again. Constant improvement  is a necessity. Learn as you go. Figure out what works. Learn to self-edit. Like any job, writing requires certain skills and attributes. Learn them, use them, and keep getting better.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. Thoughts?

A:Homework was forced drudgery and basically useless, so I seldom did it, especially over Christmas vacation. Writing is work but it is enjoyable work. It is only forced on me by myself.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A:Read great books, classics and current. Learn how the masters wrote, then find your own style. Dictionaries, use a good thesaurus, and follow Heinlein’s rules which are in the next question and answer.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Robert A. Heinlein said it best. His Five Rules for Writers:

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  4. You must put the work on the market.
  5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

He is right and I can give no better advice.

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Title: Vita Antequam Mortem
Author: Brett E. Walker
Publisher: XLibrisUS
Genre: Fiction
Format: Ebook
This story is about a group of friends with very different personalities who party hard, do drugs, and go through life struggles together. Within this group of friends is Chase, who discovers what it feels like to experience true love at its finest. Throughout this tale, he endures undeniable pain both physically and emotionally, comprehends being alone for the very first time, and discovers what it feels like to have death in his family that takes away the meaning of his life. His mental state is tested throughout these series of events, bringing him to the brink of insanity. He is ultimately forced to make a decision that will stay with him for years to come, if not the rest of his life. Come take a hard look inside a weathered, imperfect, but genuinely beautiful mind.
 
PURCHASE HERE
My Review:

 

This was a hard book for me to read. Being the mom of teenagers, I could easily see how the friends in this book struggled through their different personalities and tried to experience as much of life as they could (I see it with my own children). But, by the end of the book I feel in love with Chase, and the author does a phenomenal job of taking you through his trials and triumphs to show you who he really is. This is a great book and one I highly recommend reading. 
Brett Walker was born and raised in Poughkeepsie New York. He is a first time author and is very excited about this story he has put together for readers to enjoy. What inspired him to write this story is the ups and downs people go through in life. Brett Walker is one of those guys who you don’t expect to make it very far- A product of the hood and the suburbs, the underdog, an everyday example of what it is to be human… but this is what is so appealing about his story. He is just like you, just like the rest of the world. He has fell in love suffered heartbreak, and lost loved ones who meant the world to him, but somehow he has survived. Somehow he has surpassed everyone’s expectations, and he has thrived

 

Monday, November 5
Interviewed at She Writes
Wednesday, November 7
Guest blogging at Harmonious Publicity
Thursday, November 8
Book reviewed at The Dark Phantom
Friday, November 9
Interviewed at Voodoo Princess
Monday, November 12
Guest blogging at Book Bloggin’ Princess
Tuesday, November 13
Book reviewed at A Title Wave
Wednesday, November 14
Interviewed at The Book Czar
Friday, November 16
Book reviewed at A Book Lover
Monday, November 19
Guest blogging at The Revolving Bookshelf
Wednesday, November 21
Friday, November 23
Book reviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
Monday, November 26
Guest blogging at My Bookish Pleasures
Wednesday, November 28
Guest blogging at The Literary Nook
Thursday, November 29
Book reviewed at Lover of Literature
Friday, November 30
Guest blogging at C’est La T

 

 

 

 

Title: Ben Abdul-Malik Akran

Author: Sotonye Sagbe Boyle

Publisher: AuthorHouse UK

Genre: Fiction

Format: Ebook

When Akran suddenly surfaces out of the blue to cart Ben away to London, like a puppy in a chain, he knows things will never be the same for him again. ‘I don’t like white people,’ Ben tells his father, whom he sees as an ingredient in their evil manipulation. His classroom teacher teaches him, ‘white people perpetrate all the crimes in the world,’ a philosophy which implants in him, and earns him many adversaries–an orgy of killings. Ben joins the deadly Al Qaeda Network to seek for justice when his rivals kill his friends–Amafor, Dandy and beautiful Omar. For him, ‘justice delayed, is justice denied.’ But for his association with the Al Qaeda Network, death means nothing to him anymore…


PURCHASE HERE


BEN IS GIVING AWAY A $25 GIFT CARD!

  
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins October 22 and ends on November 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

 

ENTER TO WIN!

 

 

 

Title: Helping Hands
Author: Ken Saik
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Fiction/Romance
Format: Ebook

 

Jill Kreshky is recently divorced. She is doing her best to reclaim her life. After an accident causes her to spend six weeks alone in a hospital, she is haunted by the awareness that she must find a way to once again become part of her children’s lives. Unfortunately, Jill doesn’t have a car, her job is temporarily on hold, her bank account is empty. There is no question that Jill needs encouragement from someone she can trust. After she learns that a church friend, Bill Wynchuk, has been more loyal to her than she ever realized, Jill decides to invite him for supper. As he relies on his faith and skills as a psychologist to lovingly lead Jill to appreciate her inner strength and need for the Lord, she gains insights that propel her down a path of reconciliation that helps her mend relations with her son and return to Ontario to face her greatest fears about her family and unveil a deeply buried secret. In this inspirational story, a woman attempting to reclaim her life is led on an emotional journey, with help from a devoted friend, that ultimately reveals the truth and prompts her to seek forgiveness.

 

PURCHASE HERE

 

Ken Saik is a committed Christian who retired after thirty-one years of teaching social studies to pursue writing fiction and poetry. To date, he has published three novellas and a novel, Baggage Burdens. Saik currently resides in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada.

GIVEAWAY

Ken IS GIVING AWAY A $25 GIFT CARD!

  
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins October 22 and ends on November 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

ENTER TO WIN!

Ken Saik is a committed Christian who retired after thirty-one years of teaching social studies to pursue writing fiction and poetry. To date, he has published three novellas and a novel, Baggage Burdens. Saik currently resides in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada.

 

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Genre: Mystery/Women’s Fiction
Author: Linda Lo Scuro
Publisher:   Sparkling Books
Purchase link:  
Follow the author: 
 
About The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter
 
When the novel opens, Maria, the novel’s protagonist is living a charmed and comfortable life with her husband, banker Humphrey and children, in London.   The daughter of Sicilian immigrants, Maria turned her back on her origins during her teens to fully embrace the English way of life.
Despite her troubled and humble childhood, Maria, through her intelligence, beauty and sheer determination, triumphantly works her way up to join the upper middle-class of British society.  But when a minor incident awakens feelings of revenge in her, Maria is forced to confront–and examine—her past. 
As she delves deeper into her mothers family history, a murky past unravels—and Maria is swept up in a deadly and dangerous mire of vendetta.  Will Maria’s carefully-constructed, seemingly-idyllic life unravel?  Expect the unexpected in this outstanding new mystery….
The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter is a brilliantly-plotted, exceedingly well-told tale.  Novelist Linda Lo Scuro delivers a confident and captivating tale brimming with tantalizing twists, turns, and surprise, a to-die-for plot, and realistic, multi-dimensional characters.  Thoughtful and thought-provoking, rich and riveting, The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter is destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.

 

 

 

Title: Sara Hatun
Author: Ayah Hamad
Publisher: AuthorHouse UK
Genre: Young Adult
Format: Ebook

 

 

Sara Hatun comes from the Kayi Tribe and is the daughter of its Master Suleyman Shah. But what will save her from being caught by the temple guards, from being locked up in Aleppo’s king’s palace, or from losing one of the closest people to her heart? There is only one solution!


PURCHASE HERE
Ayah Hamad is a 13 year old (May 29, 2004) girl born in Sharjah, UAE. She spent her childhood in America before moving back to the UAE in 2013. Ayah enjoys Horse riding, editing videos, reading and writing. Sara Hatun is her first story and she is looking towards being an active writer in the future. 

GIVEAWAY

AYAH IS GIVING AWAY A $25 GIFT CARD!

  
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins October 22 and ends on November 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Daniel Kenner

“Dr. David Sanfred, our family practitioner, walked into my room at 6:45 a.m. and stood at the end of my hospital bed. “Maureen, we’re getting ready to send you home soon,” he said. And then, “It’s time to talk.”

It was time to face what I’d avoided all week.

“I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s very serious.” Though by our family’s side for many difficult situations, I’d never heard Dr. Sanfred’s tone this methodical. “We thought it was Stage 1 but the cancer metastasized from the colon to your umbilicus and has advanced to Stage 4.””

–From Room for Grace by Daniel and Maureen Kenner

Daniel Kenner rocked out to Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” while other infants sang “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” A proud member of Actor’s Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and National Players Tour 60, Daniel was a Presidential Arts Scholar at George Washington University and Scholarship recipient at The British American Drama Academy. Directed the Washington D.C. premier of Sarah Kane’s Crave. Author of the manuscript, Roux. Winner of the Rhode Island Playwriting Festival for his World War II letters home drama, Fields of Sacrifice. Adapted Les Misérables for high school stages.

Maureen Kenner’s heart was in the classroom. For thirty-five years she was a Special Education teacher in the Providence Public Schools. Born and raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Maureen graduated from Rhode Island College with a degree in education and later earned a Master’s Degree from Providence College. Maureen was a vital influence at the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School at Fox Point, working tirelessly as a mentor for the betterment of all children and their families. Honored with many accolades throughout her career, Maureen was awarded Providence Teacher of the Year in 2003. Living with cancer, as a model patient, Maureen exemplified integrity, courage, grace, and hope. For thirty-one years, through sickness and health, Maureen was the beloved soul mate to the late Jacob “Buddy” Kenner, her intense love recognized in 2016 as a Rhode Island Caregiver of the Year.

Room for Grace

Book Description:

Stage 4 cancer for her and a debilitating disease for her husband: life crashed down in an instant. Maureen Kenner found resilience, however, in the lessons she learned from her Special Ed students in Providence, RI. Her students lived with their hearts opened despite struggles of the highest magnitude. Through these students, Maureen gains courage, humor, and the strength of spirit to face her devastating realities, head on. Maureen’s oral history was captured by her son Daniel who tenderly wrought this book out of their recorded conversations. Through anecdotes and hard-earned lessons, Maureen tackles challenge after challenge and reframes daily struggles with a positive outlook allowing her to transcend and conquer mortal fears with dignity and room for grace.

Interview:

Welcome Daniel! What an interesting background you have. Do you believe that your other interests such as adopting Les Miserables for high school stages provided a solid background for eventually becoming an author?

Daniel: Absolutely. I’ve gravitated towards stories and visual arts since I was young. Bob Dylan and John Grisham were my favorite writers by the time I was eleven years old. My dad’s bookshelf was full of plays, everything from classical to the absurd to the theater of cruelty. I was in heaven. There was always so much to absorb. And then, I wanted to find my own voice, and I think I was able to find that through the process of creation. To tell a story. To play. The dance of the controllable and the uncontrollable. I became obsessed with the idea of what would I leave behind. What would symbolize my life, my meaning? So to me, creation was vital. Our world is patched together with the human capacity for love and over time, through poetic meditations of love, loss and desire, I’ve found ways to create the art of my experience, my interests and my existence.

Were you a detail freak when it came to writing your book, Room for Grace?

Daniel: I had to be. My mom got cancer five months after my dad was diagnosed with dementia. We had to make a lot of lemonade if you know what I mean. My dad, my idol, was disappearing. It was the disease. I had to have a project that would keep me close, that would give me a purpose. There were nurses and doctors, social workers and volunteers, but I felt like I could help by listening to their story. And to try to capture it in some way. So yes, I definitely became frantic about writing and recording the stories. Preserving my family’s legacy. My dad was losing his ability to communicate. I had to be sure that my mom’s voice was heard. It took three years to complete Room For Grace but I can hear my mom very clearly. And I’m very proud of that.

Finding out your mom had stage 4 cancer must have been devastating and I know this is a hard thing to talk about, but how did you get through it without crumbling?

Daniel: I allowed myself to crumble. I was very low and very depressed, unmotivated. There was stasis. I couldn’t move. I mean both of my parents in such a short amount of time, really? But they were soul mates. It’s almost not surprising now when I think about it. But for a very long time, before I had Room For Grace, a project to keep me close, a project that filled my heart with purpose, I was angry and my faith was basically demolished. It was like a perpetual snow storm. All the routes I had learned through life were suddenly blocked and impossible to see. There was a lot of sadness and isolation and confusion.

I’m sure it was an emotional ride reliving everything to write your book. What was your driving force?

Daniel: The first year was daunting. There were so many hours of oral history tapes. It took a long time to transcribe. It was slow going. Then in the summer of 2016, my dad fell down the stairs which resulted in an incomplete spinal cord injury. He was basically bedridden for the last six months of his life. He counted on nurses and family for all activities of daily living. Then a month and a half later, my mom went on hospice. It was my thirtieth birthday. She had done 63 chemos. We were told she had weeks to months to live. The first draft of Room For Grace was my last Christmas gift to her. I needed her to hold it. To be proud of a life well lived.

What do you believe people will learn after reading your book?

Daniel: There’s an existential force about how to handle the tragedies and situations in life. No one gets out unscathed. We’re going to have scars, and there’s going to be repercussions for sure, and hurt, and all of those things, but we have to acknowledge how much work it really takes. When it hits the fan, you got to stand firm. You can’t turn away because when you finally do face it, it’s just going to have morphed into something different and probably more difficult. A lot of what happens early on in tragedy shapes the healing of the future. Going forward. I can’t underestimate the importance of that. And some people will walk away from tragedy. They just can’t handle it. And I guess there’s time for that, but trauma should allow you to see the good in people, the positives of tragedy. If Mom and Dad did all the hard work by themselves, they would never have had the chance to realize how big their community was. My parents embraced the concept of “yes,” and allowed others to carry them when they needed to be carried. “Yes” shows love and trust and respect. It’s an art. There are givers and there are takers. As humans, we want to help others in need. Mom knew how to be a good teacher, but she had to relearn how to be an exceptional student. She made the decision to say “yes” to every opportunity because she wasn’t sure which piece would be the piece that helped. Mom and Dad knew the value of community effort and by allowing others in, our family, friends and neighbors got to see the best of themselves. It was an opportunity for others to come to the rescue. If everything was perfect we wouldn’t see the opportunities for empathy, compassion, generosity of spirit. To gain the positive, those traits, those qualities. The insight of acquiring grace, if you will, and the intuitive sensitivity and wonderment for the world. That belief in yourself, that you are a good caring person, that you are capable, that you are smart, loved beyond measure and that you have a great responsibility to do your fair share. To find out who you are supposed to be in the world and how to share that with the world. To live a life that’s not self-centered but centered on helping others because when you do that, you learn about yourself and where your talents lie. And where your weakness lay as well. And then, like Tony Kushner wrote at the end of Angels In America, you can let the great work begin.

What’s next for you?

Daniel: A glass of lemonade. And I feel like singing, so I think I’ll put on the original cast recording of Les Miserables.

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