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“Remember, when you pitch an investor to finance a film, you’re selling something different. You’re selling the magic and the sizzle of Hollywood and most importantly, you’re selling yourself along with the upside (or fallacy) of what their investment might return. If someone is really in the position to write a check to finance a film, they’re probably pretty savvy. Trust me, they have been pitched everything from financing movies, to night clubs, clothing lines and widgets by someone a lot slicker and more qualified than you. Investors know they hold the key to unlocking the door to the dreams that can change your life, so go deep in thought when creating a presentation…because you’re pitching them on a fantasy (smoke and mirrors), not real estate or something they can look, touch or feel at the moment.”

From What You Don’t Learn in Film School by Shane Stanley

Shane Stanley

Multi-Emmy Award winning filmmaker Shane Stanley has worked in almost every capacity on and off the set starting with hit shows like “Entertainment Tonight” and “Seinfeld.”

Along with his father, Stanley produced “The Desperate Passage Series,” which was nominated for 33 individual Emmy Awards and won 13 statues. In this series, five of the seven specials went No.1 in Nielson Ratings, which included “A Time for Life” and “Gridiron Gang.”

Stanley has produced films starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Thomas Hayden Church, Donald Sutherland, Marisa Tomei and Martin Sheen. He co-wrote two of the films and has worked closely with top Hollywood executives.

Stanley has taught workshops at many film schools and universities. He is the founder of Visual Arts Entertainment, a production company based in Los Angeles. He is still active in teaching, working with several schools, film students, and recent grads as a mentor and guide.

His latest book is What You Don’t Learn in Film School: A Complete Guide to Independent Filmmaking.

What You Don't Learn in Film School

Book Description:

Multi Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Shane Stanley, a lifelong entertainment industry insider, has worked in every aspect of the film industry, covering a multitude of movies, television shows, and other projects. In his valuable new book, WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOL: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING, Stanley takes a candid look at the film business and offers ambitious young filmmakers important information on how to navigate every aspect of making movies, from initial pitch to distributing a finished product. The book “is written for anyone who hopes to have a career in the industry at any position, but (is) geared for (the) total filmmaker,” Stanley says.

Producer Neal H. Moritz (“Fast & Furious,” “S.W.A.T.,” “21 and 22 Jump Street”), says that WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOL “pulls no punches. It’s one of the most insightful and accurate books ever written on the subject, a master class bridging the gap between school and real-life experience that will save you years of heartache. A must-read for anyone interested in pursuing a career in film.”

Jane Seymour, two-time Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner, actress, producer and founder of the Open Hearts Foundation, declares that Stanley’s “step-by-step guide is a must-read for anyone hoping to break into the world of independent cinema, along with many useful tips for those who desire to work within a studio or network system.”

Jeff Sagansky, former president of Sony Entertainment and CBS Entertainment, notes that “Shane Stanley takes you to a film school that only years of practical experience can teach. He covers both the business of independent filmmaking as well as the hard-earned secrets of a successful production. A must-read for anyone who wants to produce.”

A lifelong veteran of the film world, Stanley has directed and produced hundreds of film and television projects, including the 2006 No. 1 Box Office hit “Gridiron Gang,” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His clearly-written guide to navigating the shoals of independent filmmaking comes from his hands-on experience, covering such topics as choosing what material to produce, raising independent capital, hiring a production crew and selecting the right cast.

WHAT YOU DON’T LEARN IN FILM SCHOOL is an essential book written by someone who clearly understands the independent film business from the inside

Interview:

Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started as a filmmaker?

Shane: I grew up in and around the industry. My father was a working actor and when I was about 9 months old, he started peddling me out as the baby-for-hire to his friends and colleagues whenever they needed an infant for a project. My career in front of the camera lasted until I was about five. My father had made the transition from acting into filmmaking and I was fascinated with the whole ‘concept to delivery’ process of how a project could go from an idea scribbled on a note pad into becoming a completed film. I was a quick study and learned how to operate a flatbed Steenbeck and Moviola (old-school edit machines), Arri 16mm cameras and all the toys that came with making movies. I started working in our family’s production company doing whatever I could to help. Back then our budgets were meager, so we had to wear many hats in order to get the films made. Before I graduated high school, I had years under my belt as a camera operator, editor, writer, production supervisor and post-production coordinator. I also landed a lot of product placement for our shows and negotiated crew and talent contracts so by the time I started my own company I had a basic idea of what it took to produce a picture.

What is one thing you would tell up and coming filmmakers to prepare themselves for the crazy world of filmmaking?

Shane: Fail and fail often. Today technology allows you to be a filmmaker with just a cell phone and a laptop. On the other hand I think people are too often afraid to learn by trial and error. This gift of technology allows you the freedom to discover who you are as a storyteller and it doesn’t cost anything. Go out and shoot as much as you can and learn what works and what doesn’t – and why – so you can build from your mistakes and hone your craft to becoming the best you can be. Read what you can about the basics so you’re not reinventing the wheel or pushing rocks uphill. There are so many great books written by the masters of our industry that can really help shorten the learning process. But shoot, shoot and go shoot some more. Look at it, edit it and learn. When you’re done, keep on shooting!

What is your best advice on approaching an investor to get them interested in your screenplay?

Shane: Investors have been warned by those in their camp not to invest in movies – so don’t hustle them. Everyone seems to want to pitch potential money sources the blockbuster independents like Napoleon Dynamite, Juno and Paranormal Activity. Those films had a lot more studio muscle behind them than people realize and are extreme cases. If you’re pitching an indie darling, compare it to films like Lovely and Amazing, Once, or Like Crazy. These films cost little to produce and turned very respectable profits that are more realistic to obtain as an independent filmmaker. Base hits and doubles make sense to savvy investors and they’ll be more apt to develop a sense of trust with you early on. If you use nothing but grand slams in your proposals, they’ll get very skeptical.

Do filmmakers necessarily have to have an agent or can they go about everything themselves? What’s the pros and cons?

Shane: This is a loaded question and I exclude actors, models and cinematographers in this answer, as I feel a respectful agent might be of help in getting them traction. Bottom line is, you’re either chasing it or it’s chasing you, and I think as filmmakers our best agents are ourselves. You have social media, YouTube, Vimeo and a host of other platforms that can allow you to show your stuff. Cream rises to the top and gets recognized. I haven’t heard of a fruitful agent/filmmaker relationship that was birthed by the artist knocking on doors or making cold calls hoping to get representation. By in large, agents don’t want to do the grunt work. They want to represent artists who have made names for themselves and just field calls that come in offering more work to their clients. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. The plus side is when your work is drawing respectable agencies who believe they can help you get to the next level or want to help map out your career plan. But don’t worry about it if they don’t come knocking. You posting your work on a populated Facebook page can get more eyeballs and attention than any agent can if you’re not in demand.

Can you tell us one thing you don’t learn in film school?

Shane: I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on the consequences for not having a backup plan. Many students believe their going to be the next Tarantino or Damien Chazelle right out of film school and countless institutions prey on that mindset. Fact is, very few of the grads who get film degrees will ever earn a living in our industry, so I think its important for those who are expecting to be the next big thing to pay extra close attention during camera assistant workshops, grip and electric seminars and editing class. Don’t just get a degree in playing the lottery – learn this business inside and out and learn as many of the positions surrounding it as you possibly can to assure yourself a career in doing what you love.

What are you currently working on, Shane?

Shane: Currently I am focusing on my ‘Summer Sessions’ where I am teaching free workshops to film school students and recent grads giving them a better understanding of what to expect once they leave the nest and go out into the wild. Anyone can sign up at www.whatyoudontlearninfilmschool.com and follow the ‘Summer Sessions’ tab. Once summer is over, I plan to continue writing my next book, “Why Good Actors Don’t Work, which I plan to release before summer 2019. It’s a comprehensive and brutally honest guide to everything actors need to know but never seem to learn, told from the point of view of decision makers and how to become a commodity when you have absolutely no commercial value.

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Though Maureen Brady wrote the humor column of her junior high school newspaper, she didn’t actually comprehend that she was a writer until after she had moved to New York City in her twenties, where she began taking writing workshops at The New School and then fell headlong into the consciousness raising groups of the early 1970’s.

She published her first novel, Give Me Your Good Ear, in 1979, and it was published by The Women’s Press in England in 1981. Her novel, Folly, was excerpted in Southern Exposure, received wide critical acclaim, was nominated by Adrienne Rich for an ALA Gay Book Award and was reprinted as a classic by The Feminist Press. She published a collection of short stories, The Question She Put to Herself, in 1987, then turned to writing nonfiction in the ’90’s, publishing Daybreak: Meditations for Women Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Midlife: Meditations for Women. She returned to fiction with the novel, Ginger’s Fire, and her most recent novel, Getaway.

Her recent work has appeared in Sinister Wisdom, Bellevue Literary Review; Just Like A Girl; Cabbage and Bones: Irish American Women’s Fiction, Mom, In the Family, and Intersections: An Anthology of Banff Writers. Brady’s essays and stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and were finalists for the Katherine Anne Porter Fiction Prize and the Nelsen Algren Short Story contest.

An Adjunct Assistant Professor, she teaches creative writing at New York University and New York Writers Workshop @ the Jewish Community Center, and works as a free-lance editor and tutor, helping writers across the spectrum take their writing to the next stage.

A co-founder of Spinsters Ink, Brady edited such books as The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde and The Woman Who Breathes Fire by Kitty Tsui. She also served as a panelist for The New York State Council on the Arts Literature Program and as a fiction judge for Oregon Literary Arts. She is a founding member of The New York Writers Workshop and has long served as Board President of Money for Women Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

She has received grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts Writer-in-Residence; New York State Council on the Arts CAPS grant; Holding Our Own; Briarcombe Foundation; and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship to The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland. She was the winner of the Saints and Sinners short story contest for 2015 and is also a Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame winner.

She lives in New York City and Woodstock with her long term partner, Martha, and their joy dog, Bessie.

Visit Maureen’s website at www.maureenbradyny.com.

About the Book:

Title: GETAWAY
Author: Maureen Brady
Publisher: Bacon Press Books
Pages: 230
Genre: Women’s Fiction

BOOK BLURB:

After stabbing her abusive husband and leaving him dying on the kitchen floor, Cookie Wagner flees to remote Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. For a moment, she seems to have gotten away with murder. But, consigned to a secretive life with a new name and the need to be on constant alert, she faces all she has not gotten away with. She is helped by the recently widowed Mrs. Biddle, who offers her a place to stay, and the lobster fisherman Butch, who gives her a job and later falls in love with her. Walking the cliffs and beaches, taking in the scruffy windblown plants that survive the buffeting wind by growing at an angle, she begins to heal.

Yet, there is no leaving behind the notion that Warren is dead as the result of her action.

Or is he? And if not, will he one day come to find her?

Sexual harassment and abuse are all over the news these days, often involving celebrites and other well-known figures, but Cookie, the protagonist of Getaway, is no celebrity. She’s an ordinary woman married to a working class guy who drinks too much and resorts to violence. Their story reveals how endemic the phenomenon of abuse is, and the quandary Cookie lands in when she fights back.

Praise for Getaway:

“Sensitive, sensual, and stirring. “Getaway” is a true page-turner, but one with heart and with context. I couldn’t put it down until I got to the end, not just to find out what happened, but also to discover who these intriguing and complex characters would develop into. An extremely satisfying read!”

Danielle Ofri, author of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear, Editor-in-Chief, Bellevue Literary Review.

Getaway is available at Amazon.

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Born? Not sure, but I grew up with a story teller father of Irish heritage and other circumstances that led me to be a close observer.

What was your inspiration for Getaway?

I was trying out an exercise I often give to writing students in my fiction classes. It’s taken from John Gardner and the instruction is to write a scene in which someone who has just committed a murder comes out onto a body of water. But you are not to mention the murder. The idea is to make writers aware of how things are often more effective in fiction when described obliquely. So twenty minutes later, I had done a free write and my character Cookie had stabbed her abusive husband Warren and was bushwhacking around a reservoir near where I live in the Catskills.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Various themes but this one seems to pop up fairly often of a woman fighting back after being oppressed by someone. I also like to write stories that depict lesbians in various interactions.

Right now there is more awareness of domestic and sexual abuse via the celebrities and sports figures who are being called out, but I am interested in bringing attention to the common woman who is putting up with abuse until she snaps. And in the novel itself, I became caught up in wanting to understand how might one begin to heal, once far away from the abuser, in spite of having to live a narrow life undercover.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

This novel took a few years, off and on. And then I still went back and did a couple more revisions after it had been circulating a while, so altogether, I would say 5 or 6 years.

Describe a typical writing day.

I try to write before everything else gets started in the mornings. I work as a teacher of fiction and a freelance editor, so I often have to turn my attention to reading the manuscripts of others, so if I can get in a couple of hours of my own work first, that works best for me. If I have a clean slate, like when I go to an artist’s colony, I am very disciplined and write for 3 hours in the morning, take a break and read for a couple of hours, or walk, and then write another 3 hours.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Writing any novel is a lot of hard work and demands patience, close creative attention, sleepy time to keep dragging the next scene up onto shore from the ocean of the unconscious. And then finding good readers and getting feedback and reworking whatever is not working. In terms of the painful subject of sexual and domestic abuse, I had worked with this subject before, writing a meditation book for healing from childhood sexual abuse called Daybreak in the ‘90’s, and I did a lot of research at that time.

What do you love most about being an author?

The opportunity to express myself through making up a story that will explore the themes that are compelling to me. When published, the experience of finding out what others are making of what I have written.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I went with a small press, Bacon Press Books, Washington, DC, and I have been very pleased with how it has gone so far. The work of the press has been very professional and the publisher is helpful in terms of how to get the book out there.

Where can we find you on the web?

www.maureenbradyny.com

 

What Happens in Summer teaser 4

He leaned over her, his gaze locked on her face. He wanted to say the words—Lord, how he wanted to—but they stuck in his throat and so he let every kiss and touch tell her what he couldn’t voice.”

From WHAT HAPPENS IN SUMMER by Caridad Pineiro

Caridad Pineiro

Caridad Pineiro is a transplanted Long Island girl who has fallen in love with the Jersey Shore. When Caridad isn’t taking long strolls along the boardwalk, she’s also a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author with over a million romance novels sold worldwide. Caridad is passionate about writing and helping others explore and develop their skills as writers. She is a founding member of the Liberty States Fiction Writers and has presented workshops at the RT Book Club Convention, Romance Writers of America National Conference as well as various writing organizations throughout the country. Her latest book is the contemporary romance, What Happens in Summer.

You can connect with Caridad at www.caridad.com. You can also find Caridad on:

Twitter at https://twitter.com/caridadpineiro
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Caridad.Author
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/caridadpineiro
Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/caridadpineiro/
Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/Caridad_Pineiro

Want to receive Caridad’s newsletter with exclusive content just for subscribers and special giveaways? Just visit http://bit.ly/2cbxlYw to sign up. Caridad values your privacy and will not share your e-mail or personal information.

What Happens in Summer

Book Description:

The sizzling heat doesn’t always stay in summer. . .

Connie Reyes and Jonathan Pierce only discovered how different they were after a magical summer on the Jersey Shore. She was ambitious and practical; he was artistic and rebellious. Their parting was heartrending, and the intervening years have only made a reunion less and less possible.

Now, Jonathan is back in Sea Kiss, having made a fortune in tech. He has everything money can buy, but his bed is empty and his heart is hollow. He’s never stopped thinking about Connie, and he’ll do anything to show her the man he’s become. . .

Interview:

Hi Caridad! Can we begin by having you tell us what’s it like to be a USA Today and NYT bestselling author? Does it make you work that much harder and can you sit back and breathe knowing you have made it where a lot of authors can only dream?

Caridad: Like any career, you can’t ever just sit back and breathe, especially in today’s challenging publishing environment. So many things have changed since I was first published in 1999 and I find that it takes a lot more engagement and being in the public eyed via social media and the Internet to say relevant. I think it’s actually more difficult now than when I was first published and so I try hard to stay in contact with readers and other authors to stay informed about what’s happening!

Who or what do you attribute your success?

Caridad: My mom always told me that nothing worthwhile is easy and that you have to work for whatever you want. So I credit my mom with giving me that work ethic, but also instilling in me the belief that I can accomplish anything if I’m willing to work for it.

The premise of your book, What Happens in Summer, gives me goosebumps. Sounds like a soul mate connection between Connie and Jonathan. Can you tell us a little bit about them and their situation?

Caridad: I LOVE CONNIE AND JON. Yes, I was screaming when I wrote that. There was something about them from the first book in the series, ONE SUMMER NIGHT, that said to me that they were going to have a very unique and emotional story. I also think that Connie is very much like me in some ways, so I loved challenging her and giving her a happily ever after by teaching her that it’s okay to let go sometimes (which I often need to remember! Lol!)

I noticed that your book is set on the Jersey Shore. Can you tell us a little about the area?

Caridad: I grew up on Long Island and going to Jones Beach in the summer, but that wasn’t possible when I moved to New Jersey. Luckily, I discovered a whole new place and fell in love with it: The Jersey Shore. Sea Kiss, the fictional town in the At the Shore series, is actually a combination of some of my favorite towns on the Jersey Shore: Ocean Grove, Bradley Beach and Avon-by-the-Sea. I love spending time at the shore and exploring the beaches and boardwalks since each town has its own unique flavor.

They say that all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader can’t put the book down. Can you give us one of the pivotal points in your book?

Caridad: I think one of the pivotal points in What Happens in Summer is when Connie is having a meltdown about her best friend getting married and the problems she’s having at work. Connie has always planned everything and now that plan is shot which is really challenging her emotionally. She goes down to the beach to have a good cry all alone when Jonathan shows up and he’s tender and funny and supportive. Even though Connie has always gone it alone, in that moment she realizes that if she wants, Jonathan can be the kind of partner she wants in her life.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Caridad: It depends. When a story is working every part of you is alive and excited. When you’re struggling, it truly is exhausting to try and figure out why the story isn’t working and what to do to get it on the right track.

When writing books, do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Caridad: I think you can be both original, but also deliver what readers expect in a story. They say there are only a dozen stories and it’s up to the author to put a new spin on one of those stories. I truly believe that so I strive to give readers some unique element in every story, but I also remember what it is that readers (and me since I’m a ready also) love about romances and try to give them that as well.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Caridad: That’s a tough one! I never gave up my day job and don’t regret that for a moment since a career in publishing is so up and down. I guess I would repeat that suggestion, namely, to keep my job, but still keep writing the stories that I love so much.

What’s next for you?

Caridad: #3 in the At the Shore series, which is Emma and Carlo’s story, will be out in Winter 2019. I’ll also be working on some new stories in the Take a Chance series as well as the last book in The Calling is Reborn Vampire Novels. It will be tough to end that series, but I think that Diana and Ryder will reach a true happily ever after in that story.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. My ongoing series The Sunwright Chronicles is a culmination of fifteen years of creating a unique living world with a rich history. I am currently writing the third book in the series. Besides writing I enjoy computer gaming, reading, playing the guitar and watching the history and science channels. My favorite activity though, is hanging out with my awesome family.

My latest book is the fantasy, The Sunwright Chronicles: A New World.

SOCIAL LINKS:

TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Q: Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The idea for my story starts almost fifteen years ago, I have always had a great love for fantasy, magic, and history. Historically I love studying ancient civilizations, this love started the early birth of the Sunwright Chronicles. Yet it was not till about six years ago during a grueling D&D Campaign did I create a character named Paris Sunwright. He proved to be the only character I ever had that made it to the epic levels of that game and thus survive to the very end.

Paris was an Arch-Mage and very powerful, to be honest I forget how I came up with every member of the Sunwright family, except for Jaedus who I specifically wanted to insert to have that very powerful woman figure in the story. In fact, I like to write from the view point of empowered women figures in my books. What better way than to have a very powerful Mage?

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was a very long process, but I have more than 8 books planned in the series so there is a lot of history. The planning of where to start the story specifically proved to be the hardest. I always found myself gravitating towards starting in the middle of the book series. But after a long time planning where to go I finally decided that we should start clean and at the beginning of the Sunwrights journey to the world of Alavar.

For other writers, I would suggest starting your stories from the beginning. I know this tip sounds weird but like I said before, the temptation to start from the middle of the story was great for me. Also let your story flow, I never try to plan where a character is going, I like to get lost in the moment. This style might not work for everyone, but I find it creates a rich, active story.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

After getting several publishing offers, that only offered inclusive contracts, or contracts where I would have to contribute 2k plus dollars to get my work published, I decided to go the self-publishing route.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Not at all, I found the process of going through Amazon Kindle to be easy and streamlined.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I plan to start on the third book in the series very soon, I already have fifty pages done, I took a short break and will return soon.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

The strong female characters in this book will surprise people I think, and possibly the way I handle the magic system for my work.

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

No specific message. I just want people to have fun with the read and I hope I can take them away from daily life into an exciting, fun filled world of magic and adventure!

Q: Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?

Nothing to specific I hope you enjoyed the interview and I hope you will enjoy my work, thank you very much for your time.

About the Book:

The Sunwright Chronicles : A New World, takes place in the world called Alavar, the Sunwrights a mostly Magical family made up of Paris Sunwright, Suadela Sunwright, Calia Sunwright, Tobias & Jaedus Sunwright and last but not least Pershing Sunwright, have all arrived from a long but bitter stay from modern earth. Alavar is a fresh new world, so the Sunwrights are directed to stay away from the “creators as they work” young Jaedus Sunwright is discovered to be a “necromancer” the most powerful type of mage.

Paris Sunwright the patriarch of the family takes it upon himself to train her before she accidentally kills anyone in the family with her wild powers. Conflict ensues between Suadela, Paris’s wife and young Jaedus before Paris can take Jaedus away to be trained. We skip ahead in time and Jaedus is trained properly, The “Creators” are long done with their work and the Sunwrights decide to reside with the elves of the world. The Sunwrights help teach the Elves many things. It is not long before it is discovered there is a sickness amongst the elves, called the soul disease. Because of her special powers Jaedus Sunwright is the best fitted to help combat this disease, only a few elves succumb to the disease, one being the wife of the second most prominent Elf in the land.

Now we move forward, the Elves are prospering the soul disease is gone, the population boom for the Elves has produced several distinct tribes amongst them. A power struggle ensues, in which the first murder occurs in the land, leading to the breakup of the tribes into separate nations and the very real possibility of war.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Frozen_med

Review: FROZEN, by Christine Amsden

Release date: April 11th, 2018

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery

Series: Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, Book 7

Get your copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Fans of the Cassie ScotParaNormal Detective urban fantasy series will enjoy this the 7th instalment. This time, Cassie is married…but if you think life ends when you’re married, think again, especially in the small paranormal town of Eagle Rock, where everyone seems to have a magical ancestry and magic keeps poppingup in unexpected places. In fact, the magic seems to be getting greater every year, with sorcerers growing stronger and mothers like Cassie channelling more magic while pregnant. The Magical Underground tries tokeep things at bay, but sometimes it can get out of control, like now…

Two people are found frozen to death, a pack of hellhounds has appeared out of nowhere, and there appears to be a sudden outset of suicides. Who or what is causing all these happenings? It is up to Cassie to find out—only, this time, while nursing her baby and managing her new marriage and family life.

Being a fan of the series and having read all of the previous books, I was happy to find out that the series didn’t end with Cassie getting married in the last book.  It’s not easy solving mysteries and facing dangerous situations in between diapers or arguments with a husband, that’s for sure! I found the story fresh and entertaining, with Cassie’s unpretentious, honest voice shining through the pages. She is both strong and vulnerable, which I love. The writing is engaging, smoothly flowing from chapter to chapter with the “quiet” tone of a cozy mystery. Though the book can be read as a standalone, without the intrusion of too much backstory, I highly recommend reading the books in order for a more satisfying experience.

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my review.

 

 

 

Title: The Kingdom Queen
Author: J.T. Page
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Format: Ebook

 

Two young American tourists, Carmen and Cubby, arrive at a mysterious church in present-day Austria. They meet Otto, their tour guide, who leads them to the Silver Chapel. There he weaves an enchanting story involving knights, intrigue, and true love. Otto takes their imaginations on a journey to twelfth-century Europe during the High Middle Ages, a decade after the end of the First Crusade. Princess Margarethe and Theo first meet as children when her father, King Johann, grants knighthood to Sir Josef, Theo’s father. The children are immediately drawn to each other despite the difference in social class. When Theo’s parents are tragically killed, Margarethe swears to love him forever—but is that true? Can their love survive even though they are destined to never marry? Carmen and Cubby have countless questions as the story unfolds, but Otto is always happy to explain and instruct. He tells tales of war, marriage, birth, death, and chivalry as Margarethe and Theo are constantly kept apart. Assassins abound, cultures collide, and the Knights Templar make their presence felt in sometimes surprising ways. Margarethe and Theo vow eternal loyalty, no matter the sacrifice. But will they get their happy ending or remain resigned to the duties of differing stations? Welcome to the new and timeless story of The Kingdom Queen.


 

Joseph T. Page Jr. has a doctoral degree in business management from Nova Southeastern University. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army for over twenty years, commanded military units on three continents, and is a combat veteran. He also worked as a Department of Defense contractor in Europe. He and his wife live in Hawaii.

GIVEAWAY

J.T. 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 May 14 and ends on May 26.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on May 27.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

STRAYED by KristaLyn A. Vetovich,YA/NA Fantasy

Title: STRAYED
Author: KristaLyn Vetovich
Publisher: Glass House Press
Genre: YA/NA Fantasy
In the struggle between good and evil, humans don’t stand a chance—not on their own. Which is why, for every living soul, there is a Firn: a spirit assigned to guide and defend humans from demonic spirits like the Aropfain. But earning a place in the fight is a process that requires several lifetimes—of service, experience, and sacrifice.
Having just returned from her most recent life as an Ancient Romanmartyr, Anaya is only one step away from achieving that goal. And if she succeeds, she might become the Firn with the most important mission: guiding the human that will either save—or end—the world.
But when she’s paired with the notoriously difficult Jordin, her chances of success suddenly start to slip. Because Jordin isn’t like other souls. He’s strong, volatile—and a prime target for the Aropfain. And he almost immediately falls for an Aropfain ploy that could not only jeopardize his chances of becoming a Firn, but also endanger the entire
world.
As his partner, Anaya is the only one who can save him. But will she succeed? Or will she fail—and take the world down with her?

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CHAPTER ONE
Well, it happened again. I died.
The bloodied sand of the colosseum shivers out of focus as my soul shakes
off its physical limitations in favor of a higher vibration. Instead of
centurions and weeping family, I’m now surrounded by snowy white noise and
quiet.
They came for me at dawn. I can still hear my mother’s sobs. I was only
twelve.
I blink the memories away just as a man bends and pulls into view before
me, then straightens with a blithe sort of smile. “Welcome back,” he says in an
excessively soothing tone. He wears glasses I know he doesn’t need, and behind
them, his unearthly blue eyes trace my face, looking for signs of stress.
And it comes back to me like the snap of fingers. An Advokat. Here to
help me adjust to the trauma of crossing over from life to death.
Suddenly I wonder how he sees me. Do I have blue eyes now? In
life, they were brown, but here in death I’ve always imagined others see me
with crystal blue. I guess it would depend on how much they like me. Appearance
is entirely based on impression here. We see what we feel. Feelings are real,
vision an illusion.
And this Advokat must be new, I realize a moment later. If he’d been
here for any length of time, he wouldn’t be using the sappy voice they put on
for the newer souls. The ones who don’t understand how it works. He’d know that
I’m something of a regular in the transition between life and death—that I’ve
lost count of how many of these interviews I’ve had to sit through. I’m sure I
know the process better than he does.
Because I’ve had his job before, mastered it long ago.
I skim him, searching the endless trove of memories trying to break
through the fog of earthly business still clouding my mind. I don’t remember
him. And I can see that he doesn’t know me.
Definitely new. Which means he’ll play the interview by the book. I
groan.
The Advokat reaches out as if to comfort me, like my groan was one of
anxiety and not disdain. “Try not to panic.”
I resist the urge to roll my eyes and flatten my gaze at him instead. I
understand it’s his job to help me recover from the shock of death, but
honestly, I’m fine. So I died—so what? There are many things worse than death,
and one of them, if anyone ever bothered to ask me, is living. I’m actually
thrilled to be back here—and I don’t need an Advokat to counsel me through the
transition.
Also, I’m in a bit of a hurry. I have important business to attend to,
even higher vibrations to achieve. I’m so close now, and he’s the only thing
standing in my way.
I tap my foot and glance around for someone—anyone who might recognize
me and give me an opportunity to walk away from this unnecessary formality.
“Everything will make sense soon.” The Advokat’s voice echoes through
the white expanse around us. Clearly, all other souls are keeping their
distance to allow me to transition without any added shock. Or—I narrow my eyes
at the Advokat—he’s followed protocol by requesting they give us space.
And do we ever have it. As far as the eye can see, there’s nothing but
static white. But I smile, and my shoulders relax—because this is my true home.
Just the way I remember it.
The Advokat leans into my line of sight. “Do you know your name?”
My smile drops.
In life, my name was Agnes. In this life, anyway.
There have been so many lives, so many names, but between them all, just
one feels like home.
When it comes, my voice sounds like a lost, cherished memory. “Anaya.”
My first word after death. The truest word I know.
The Advokat smiles and nods. He doesn’t take any notes or write anything
down, and I know about that, too. The answers are in his mind, ready when he
needs them, downloaded into his head from the source of all truth on the
highest plane of vibration there is: El Olam, our master and creator. He sits
so high none of us can reach him, above laws and structure. The world is as he
makes it, and we are simply stewards of his creation, here to serve.
And today I’ll go one step further in the process of becoming a defender
of creation. I’ll become a Firn.
The Advocat, who is becoming more annoying by the moment, interrupts my
thoughts with yet another question. “Good. And do you know where you are?”
Where I am? Well it’s a much better place than where I was…
I was in Rome, in the fourth century. I rejected a boy, and he sold me
out as a Christian. It took them forever to kill me—first with shame, then with
flames. But all I gave them was a blank stare through the numbness. They
couldn’t shame me. I wouldn’t burn when they strung me to the stake and lit the
fire—even the flames knew not to touch me. But the Roman officer’s sword
through my throat did the trick in the end. I was gone before I felt anything.
So I guess the joke’s on them. There was darkness, then a burst of light—
And now I’m home, where none of that matters anymore. I’m free here.
Because no one can shame or kill the dead. I’ll be safe as long as I stay.
“This is Lemayle,” I say quietly. “The afterlife. The real world.” And I
have no intention of ever living again.
He rocks back and grins. “Wonderful!” Then his face stiffens. He
swallows and his eyes shake as he looks me over for a second time, now scanning
for any truths beneath the surface, anything I’m hiding from him. If souls
could sweat, he’d be a mess as he prepares for the most important question of
the interview.
I used to have his job, so I know what comes next. My answers from here
on out will decide my final destination.
“All right.” He clears his throat. He doesn’t have to. It’s the nerves.
I will be his enemy if I answer poorly, but he has to remain objective. He’s a
professional, after all, and he doesn’t know whose side I’m on yet—what changes
this most recent lifetime might have made in me.
I was martyred, and not all martyrs come back home the way they should.
Martyrs go into life as warriors for El Olam’s cause … but don’t always return
feeling their suffering was justified. Some turn against him and defect to the
one who seeks to depose him.
And me? How do I feel about the suffering I was put through? Have
I changed my mind about who to serve? And how dangerous does that make me to
the fragile balance of the world? That’s what the Advokat needs to find out.
“Do the names El Olam and Narn mean anything to you?”
Good and evil. That’s what they mean. Free will and slavery. But which
is which? Is El Olam good … or is he evil? Are Narn’s plans for less service to
living souls and more dominion over them more appealing? Are they justified? No
soul chooses evil.
They simply choose what they believe is right.
I hide my laugh with a cough at the tension in the Advokat’s hunched
shoulders. If he’s new—and he wants to stay—he’ll need a stiffer a spine than
he’s got now. I might as well be the one to give it to him.
I level my gaze at him, eyes wide open to appear just a little less
threatening. “Yes. I know them.”
He nods, more rigidly this time, and rubs the back of his neck as he
braces for my response to his final question.
“And … your allegiance?”
I stare at him for a long moment, watching the anxiety build behind his
bright blue eyes. He doesn’t want any trouble, but his other hand twitches at
his side, ready to summon the support of a slightly higher power—just in case I
came back tainted.
Just in case I’ve decided I hate the way the world works … and want to
serve the one trying to turn it upside down.
“Oh calm down,” I finally chide him. This has gone on long enough to
bore me. I have business to attend to, and honestly, after fifty lifetimes, a
soul should be able to just skip this process. “I chose El Olam lifetimes ago.
I’m bound to be a Firn. This was my last run.”
His whole body wilts as the tension releases. Had I said Narn, the
Advokat and I would have had a few issues. Because it would have meant I was a
soul with eyes toward flipping the script, turning the world upside down—force
living souls to do as we say, and ruling over them as gods.
He’d have had to immediately summon one of Lemayle’s second-highest
authorities—a Malekh, El Olam’s archangels—to deal with me. And it wouldn’t
have been pleasant. The Malekh don’t like jokes. Most of them, anyway.
“Well that is a relief.” The Advokat’s hand slides from the back of his
neck to clutch his chest, steadying the phantom sensation of a palpitating
heart.
And I grin, even though I shouldn’t. But what’s the fun in seniority if
you can’t mess with the rookies?
“We need as many Firns as we can get,” he admits, “events accelerating
as they are.” I perk up at that. Accelerating events is much more my
speed—though it gives me less time to meet the final criteria for joining the
Firns’ ranks. “The living souls need all the protection we can give them,” he
finishes.
I couldn’t agree more. And that’s where I come in—where all the Firns stand
and serve El Olam. Without Firns to guide living souls and protect them from
temptation and harm, Narn would flip the script. And humans would walk
right into their own slavery.
But El Olam won’t allow it.
So neither will I. I’m so close now. Just one step left, and if I
impress the Malekh and El Olam enough in my next job as a soul collector, then
I’ll become a Firn, and one day I’ll be even more than that. If I perform well
enough, I’ll be chosen as the Firn who oversees El Olam’s plan to defeat Narn
once and for all. It has to be one of us, so it might as well be me. And I
won’t stop until I see it happen.
Meanwhile, the Advokat extends his hand to me. “Best of luck to you. I
hope you make the cut.”
I glance at his hand and back up to him. So he really hasn’t
heard of me, then. I may not be a Firn yet, but I have made a name for
myself as the one to watch for earning the coveted position in El Olam’s plan.
Well, if he hasn’t heard of me yet, he will soon enough.
“Thanks.” With a smirk, I grip his hand and shake it firmly enough to
knock him off balance. “But I really don’t need luck.”

 

KristaLyn A. Vetovich is giving away a $25 Amazon 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
  • This giveaway ends midnight May 31
  • Winner will be contacted via email on May 31
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

KristaLyn is the internationally published author of seven books and one short story, including the upcoming Prelude of the Reyn Gayst series releasing in 2018 from Glass House Press. She graduated in 2011 from
Susquehanna University with a degree in English Literature and began traditionally publishing her novels the next year. KristaLyn is also acertified health and life coach and enjoys infusing her stories with motivational themes and characters from all walks of life.

KristaLyn lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their corgi, Jack.

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