Archive for the ‘Virtual Book Tour Guests’ Category


“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


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:

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


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?



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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. . .


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.

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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.



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.



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Benjamin Mester is native of San Diego but can often be found wandering the woods of northern Minnesota. He fell in love with language at an early age – the eloquence of poetry or the grandeur of an epic story. Fantasy is his favorite genre, crafting new and magical places of heroism and adventure. When he isn’t writing, he’s often taking long walks through nature or wondering about his place in the wide world.
Benjamin is the author of The Banished Lands series.
You can visit him on Goodreads.

About the Book:

A kingdom in danger. A prophecy that will change everything. But will they understand it in time? The old world is gone, and barely even histories remain. But something from that time is returning. The closing lines of a farewell poem, written centuries ago by the last great king of the age to his slain wife, might be more than just a poem:

The world and all its light shall fade,
I’ll stay with her beneath the shade
And wait until the world’s remade…

Join us in this epic fantasy adventure as three friends plunge into the great mystery of their age, twelve centuries in the making. A mysterious fog blankets the forest just outside the sleepy town of Suriya. A dark plot unfolds as Durian and his friends discover ties between a strange wanderer and the warlike barbarian kingdom far to the north. Are the mysterious things happening in the forest a prelude to invasion? What happens next will propel Durian and his curious friends into the middle of the oldest riddle in the history of their kingdom, a dozen centuries old.



Other Books in The Banished Lands Series

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Definitely not! My mom constantly expresses her surprise every time I finish a new book. I loathed writing as a younger man and the passion for it sprung up out of nowhere in my mid twenties.

What was your inspiration for The Banished Lands?

I’ve always loved poetry – the mystery of it and the feeling that there was something deeper just out of reach that I couldn’t quite describe. The inspiration for The Banished Lands series was to take that feeling of mystery and indefinable profundity and explore it in a fantasy world in a way I don’t think has been done before.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Poetry. Friendship. Love. The epic struggle of good vs evil. What it means to live ones life to the full – discarding what’s good in search of what’s best. All your classic archetypes that probably sound very cliché when boiled down to a paragraph of description 🙂

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It has really taken a decade to finish The Banished Lands. Every time a new book in the series came out, I felt compelled to rewrite the first book.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Morning is my favorite time to write. Cup of coffee in hand, the freshness of the day inspires a likewise freshness in my creativity. Most days I have only an hour to frolick around in fantasy before real life takes hold, so I end up writing at the end of the day.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The initial chapters for sure. Because I’m not one for shock and awe, or beginning with superfluous action sequences to hook the reader, it was very challenging for me to introduce my world in a compelling way and to integrate the overarching story within the story.

What do you love most about being an author?

Being able to finally express how I’m really thinking and feeling. Studying poetry made me fall in love with the beauty of language. When you feel something like passion or inspiration, describing it to the reader in a way they understand is difficult enough. But describing it to them in such a way that it evokes similar feelings and passions is the true glory of the written word.

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 the self publishing route and I’m very happy I did. I’m constantly revising and improving my work, especially as new books in the series come out. Having the freedom to make edits is a huge benefit. I want my work to be the very best it can be and until my books find themselves into enough hands that I can no longer make changes, I’m going to keep improving them. If you start small, keep improving till you hit the bigtime.

Where can we find you on the web?

Goodreads has my full collection of books and some video walk throughs of my favorite classic poems. Here’s the link:

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WHITE WITCH by Larry D. Thompson, Thriller, 291 pp., $14.95 (Paperback) $5.95
(Kindle edition)



Author: Larry D. Thompson
Publisher: Story Merchant Books
Pages: 291
Genre: Thriller

Jamaica is a place where the surreal is simply everyday reality. When a ruthless American aluminum company plans to strip mine the Jamaican rainforest, they send former Navy SEAL Will Taylor to Montego Bay to deal with local resistance on their behalf. But he’s unaware that the British had signed a treaty deeding the rainforest to the Jamaican Maroons, descendants of escaped slaves, over 300 years ago. The Maroons fought and died for their land then, and are more than willing to do so now, whether it’s the British or the Americans who threaten them this
time around.Upon Will’s arrival, a series of inexplicable murders begin, some carried out with deadly snake daggers that were owned and used by Annie Palmer, a voodoo priestess better known as the White Witch. She was killed 200 years prior, but is said to still haunt the island at night, and the local Jamaicans are certain she’s responsible for the gruesome murders, her form of retaliation against the new turmoil taking place in the rainforest.

And Will has been forced directly into the middle of it. After a few close calls, he’s finally convinced to leave his company and join forces with the Maroons, headed by Vertise Broderick, a Maroon who resigned from her position at the New York Times to return to Jamaica to stop the mining. Together they hire a Jamaican attorney to prove that
the Maroon/British treaty is still valid to stop the mining, and they take it upon themselves to solve the White Witch murders, because the legend of the White Witch can’t possibly be true…

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Will returned to his room, too wound up to sleep. He stripped to his

underwear and flipped channels on a large screen HD television until he ran

across First Blood with Sylvester Stallone. Having lived that life for a few years,

he never passed up the opportunity to watch it again. He settled back and had

drifted off to sleep when his cell chimed. He glanced at the television to make

sure it was not coming from there and found Fred Astaire waltzing Ginger

Rogers around a ballroom. He turned off the television and reached for his





“Will, Alexa here.” It was nearly three in the morning and Alexa was still at

her desk. Smoke drifted from a cigarette in her ash tray while she sucked on a

Tootsie Pop. She was on the speaker phone. When Will answered, she walked to

her window and stared at the lights of Baltimore.


Will turned on the nightstand light, glanced at the clock, and swung his feet

into a sitting position on the side of the bed. “Yes, ma’am. Little late for a booty


“Cut the crap. Kaven was just found at Rose Hall. He’s dead.”


“What? Are you sure? I just saw him a few hours ago.” Will got to his feet

and began pacing the room. “Shit.”


“Must be those goddamn Maroons. He called me last night once he got

back from Accompong. He told me about what happened up there. By the way,

they let the pilot go. They said they had no beef with him.”


“So I heard. What was Kaven doing at Rose Hall? When I saw him, he was

going to his room.”


“How the hell should I know? I got a call from some local detective. They

found his employee identification in his wallet. When the detective called here,

the operator knew I was still in my office and put the call through to me. You need to get to Rose Hall now.

“Yes, ma’am,” Will agreed.

“And I’m flying down there tomorrow before this gets any more out of

hand. See if you can keep anybody else from being killed until I get there.”


Will’s cell went dead. He put it on the nightstand and picked up the hotel

phone. Pleased to find it working, he punched the key for valet parking.


“Good evening, Mr. Taylor. How can I be of assistance?”


“Bring my company Land Rover to the front as quickly as possible.”


Getting assurance that it would be there when he got downstairs, Will hung

up and walked to the bathroom. Five minutes later he was met at the hotel

entrance by a valet.


“Can I give you directions, Mr. Taylor? It’s a little late at night.”


“No thanks. I know exactly where I’m going.” Will got in the car, fastened

his seat belt, and left the hotel.

When Will got to Rose Hall, he turned onto the road they had just come

down the evening before. At the top of the hill he could see the mansion, now

well lighted. He dodged tree limbs and utility wires and parked among several

other vehicles. Police cars were positioned so that their headlights focused on the

steps of the mansion where Will could see the yellow police crime scene tape. He

walked up a path from the parking lot between the police cars that faced the

mansion to the yellow tape where an officer stood watch. The officer came to

attention as Will approached.


“Sorry, mon. I can’t let you past here. We’re investigating a murder.”


Will kept his voice even but controlling. “I know, officer. That’s why I’m

here. Name’s William Taylor. I’m head of security for Global American Metals.

Here’s my identification.” Will tried to hand him an ID. The officer just shook

his head. “Officer, the dead man is one of Global’s employees. Can you get

someone in authority to let me up there?”


Before the officer could reply, Miles Harper, the St. James Parish Chief of

Detectives, approached. Harper was a lean, fit man with a shaved head and a no

nonsense manner. He was dressed in a brown suit, yellow shirt, and matching

tie. He looked like he just stepped out of GQ Magazine, even at three in the



“Mr. Taylor, I’m Miles Harper, Chief of Detectives in this parish. I was

told by your company to expect you.”


Will extended his right hand. Harper ignored it. Instead, he nodded at the

officer and motioned for Will to follow him. Harper went up a dozen steps and

turned to Will as he stood beside Kaven’s body, sprawled on his back with dagger in his chest. Will bent over for a closer look and found that the handle of

the dagger was in the shape of a snake. At the top of the handle was the snake’s

head. The snake’s eyes were two bright rubies.


“Shit,” Will muttered, “He was almost killed because of one snake on the

road today and now someone finished the job with a, what would you call this, a

snake dagger?”


“That’s as good a name as any, Mr. Taylor. My officers reported what went

on up in Accompong and the incident with the boa.”

Will continued to study the body. “Looks like he’s been dead a couple of

hours. I last saw him about ten last night. Who found him?”


“The hotel has a security guard that roams the mansion grounds and up to

the club house in a golf cart. He spotted the body.”


“Where’s your coroner?”


“He’s a local Justice of the Peace, not a medical doctor. He won’t set foot on

these steps until morning. My men here won’t go past the tape either. They

believe the White Witch did it.”


Will shook his head in disbelief. “Come on, Chief, this is the twenty-first



“Old beliefs die hard, Mr. Taylor. Come on. Let me show you something.”


Harper stepped around the body and climbed the steps with Will behind

him. Entering the ballroom, Will said, “I was just in this room yesterday evening during the storm.”

Harper turned to study Will. “Would you care to explain?”


Will covered the details of the previous day and their time in the mansion

while they waited out the storm. “You know a woman named Vertise?”


Harper nodded his head. “She’s a local. Works for the paper and tends bar

for the hotel. Since you were in this room a few hours ago, come over here.”

Harper led Will to a glass display against one wall with pictures of two snake

daggers above it along with the history of the daggers. The glass had been

broken and the daggers were gone.


“You see this case when you were up here?”


Will studied it and thought back to the day before. “Can’t say I did, Chief.

It was pretty dark in here, lit only by candles since the storm knocked out

power. I wandered around the room but never glanced toward this case. And I

don’t believe anyone else mentioned it. Now that I think about it, Vertise told

us the legend of Annie Palmer and her using a snake dagger to kill an overseer.

evening during the storm.”


Harper turned to study Will. “Would you care to explain?”

Will covered the details of the previous day and their time in the mansion

while they waited out the storm. “You know a woman named Vertise?”

Harper nodded his head. “She’s a local. Works for the paper and tends bar

for the hotel. Since you were in this room a few hours ago, come over here.”

Harper led Will to a glass display against one wall with pictures of two snake

daggers above it along with the history of the daggers. The glass had been

broken and the daggers were gone.


“You see this case when you were up here?”


Will studied it and thought back to the day before. “Can’t say I did, Chief.

It was pretty dark in here, lit only by candles since the storm knocked out

power. I wandered around the room but never glanced toward this case. And I

don’t believe anyone else mentioned it. Now that I think about it, Vertise told

us the legend of Annie Palmer and her using a snake dagger to kill an overseer. Surprising that she didn’t show us these daggers when she was telling the story.”


“Interesting,” mused Harper. “You have any idea why your man would

come up here in the middle of the night?”


“Not a clue. Have you checked his cell phone? He always carried it.”


“Yeah. The last calls were with you yesterday afternoon and one with Ms.

Pritchard later in the evening.”


Will nodded. “He called me from Accompong, warning me of trouble up

there. I should have gone with him.”


Harper shook his head. “Whether you were there or not wouldn’t have

made any difference. Just would have been one more person that was in my

police car that rolled, assuming, of course, you didn’t take a bullet up on the





“How did you get in the mansion?”


“Vertise said she knew where a key was hidden and let us in.”


“Strange that she could get into the locked mansion. It was my

understanding that only the manager of Rose Hall had a key. He locked it and

left when the storm was hitting. The hotel spent a fortune on period pieces to

recreate how it looked two hundred years ago. One of his jobs is to make sure

they are not stolen.”


“Any signs of a break-in?” Will asked.


“This is not for publication, you understand, but when I got here the

mansion was locked and the lights were off.”


“So, you’re saying that someone got into the mansion, stole two daggers, let

themselves back out, killed Kaven, and left no trace.” Will paused to absorb all

that he had just said. “Wait a minute. If someone wanted to kill Kaven, why not

just use a gun? Why go to all the trouble of getting that dagger to do it?”


“I’ve been wrestling with that very question,” Harper said. “It’s illegal for a

private citizen to own a gun in Jamaica, but that doesn’t mean they are not

available if you know the right people. My working hypothesis is that the killer

or killers wanted the public to think voodoo was involved, or maybe even the

White Witch. The only other possibility that comes to mind is that the Maroons

are trying to send a message to Global. They tried to kill Tillman in Accompong

and failed. Maybe the message is that they finish what they start. Either way,

someone is trying to make trouble for your company. I have another problem

that may not be apparent.”


Will looked quizzically at the detective.


“As you can see, there were two snake daggers in this case. One’s accounted

for out on the steps. The other is gone. Nearly everyone around here thinks that

they are voodoo daggers with magical powers. They were found in an overseer’s

grave during the restoration of the mansion thirty years ago.”


“Does ‘everyone’ include you? Looks to me like the killer or killers are just

trying to mess with the minds of my co-workers, maybe keep some locals from

hiring on with us.”


Harper stuck his hands in his pockets. “Not up to me to decide if they’re

magic or not. I’ve got a murder with one of those daggers. My job is to solve the

murder and along the way, find that other dagger before someone uses it.”

Will’s eyes searched the room in a futile effort to see any clues to the crime.


Then he focused on the chief. “Look, I’m going to need a gun. My company is

obviously under attack. I’m licensed to carry back home.”


“No way, Mr. Taylor,” Harper exploded. “Foreigners are not permitted to

have guns in Jamaica. For that matter, as I just told you, neither are Jamaicans.

And I want you to stay the hell out of my investigation. We don’t need your

help. Understand?”


“Yeah, I understand. You know that each of our mines on this island is

permitted a certain number of guns for our guards. I’ll just get one of those.”


“The hell you will. Don’t you dare go behind my back. Those guns never

leave mine property. I have an officer that inventories them. If one turns up

missing, I’ll confiscate every damn weapon that Global has and put you under

house arrest. Clear, Mr. Taylor?”


Will clinched his fists and tried to hold back the anger that was apparent in

his face. Without another word, he turned and stormed out of the mansion,

pausing only to gaze at Kaven and say a prayer for him and his family. At the

bottom of the steps, he got in his car and glanced toward the mansion. The

lights from his car somehow caught the ruby eyes of the snake, making them

appear briefly to be alive. Will shook his head, put the car in reverse, and

returned to the hotel.

Book Trailer:

After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Larry spent the first half of his professional life as a trial lawyer. He tried well over 300 cases and won more than 95% of them. Although he had not taken a writing class since freshman English (back when they wrote on stone tablets), he figured that he had read enough novels and knew enough about trials, lawyers, judges, and courtrooms that he could do it. Besides, his late, older brother, Thomas Thompson, was one of the best true crime writers to ever set a pen to paper; so, just maybe, there was something in the T hompson gene pool that would be guide him into this new career.  He started writing his first novel about a dozen years ago and published it a couple of years thereafter. He has now written five highly acclaimed legal thrillers. White Witch is number six with many more to come.Larry is married to his wife, Vicki. He has three children scattered from Colorado to Austin to Boca Raton, and four grandchildren. He has been trying to retire from the law practice to devote full time to writing. Hopefully, that will occur by the end of 2018. He still lives in Houston, but spends his summers in Vail CO, high on a mountain where
he is inspired by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

His latest book is the captivating thriller, WHITE WITCH.







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Back Story: Stairway to Paradise by Nadia Natali

This memoir is about my bumpy journey toward truth and authenticity with the hope that those of you who read it can glean some value.

You may believe fame and wealth bring happiness. That was not my experience.

My mother, sister of George and Ira Gershwin, and my father who invented color film were the primary models in my childhood. Growing up with such talent as I did, you learn early on that it distorts values.

I unwittingly set my brilliant father up as an authority figure, even though he was terrifying and unpredictable. And because the family dynamic was unhealthy I didn’t know whom to trust or even that trust was possible, especially in myself. Later as a young woman I turned away from my background and looked to teachers and professionals for the truth. It took some time for me to realize that their expertise could only take me so far.

After one false start and then another I found a caring partner, Enrico, whom I initially turned to, believing he could impart a way for me to find my own direction and answers, as he seemed to have found for himself. What was so radical to learn was how and where to look. What I learned was going to sensations in the body rather than the thinking mind was where the key to change and transformation lay.

We married and moved out to the wilderness where we faced floods, fire, rattle snakes, mountain lions and bears. In the years it took to build a house we lived in a teepee. We tried to create our own paradise where we raised and homeschooled three children.

Our life turned upside down when the kids became teenagers. Paradise crashed and my relationship with Enrico deteriorated. The grown children struggled to find a place in the outside world. We faced tragedy and I, cancer. This was when my hard earned ability to experience the somatic (inner experience as sensation) helped regulate me and provide me with a chance to find authenticity and authority, as well as a more mature relationship with Enrico. I was able to use this inner working as a way to help others, which I call DanceMedicine, a healing through movement.

We are still living in the wilderness and offer workshops and retreats to anyone who is interested.

About the Author

Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook. 

Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.

DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.

Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.




About the Book:


Growing up as Frankie Gershwin’s daughter, the sister of George and Ira Gershwin, was quite a challenge. I didn’t have the perspective to realize that so much unhappiness in a family was out of the ordinary. But I knew something was off. My mother was often depressed and my father was tyrannical and scary, one never knew when he would blow up. I learned early on that I had to be the cheery one, the one to fix the problems. Both sides of my family were famous; the Gershwin side and my father who invented color film. But even though there was more than enough recognition, money and parties I understood that wasn’t what made people happy.

As a young adult adrift and depressed I broke from that unsatisfactory life by marrying Enrico Natali, a photographer, deeply immersed in his own questions about life. We moved into the wilderness away from what we considered as the dysfunction of society. That’s when we discovered that life had other kinds of challenges: flood, fire, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bears. We lived in a teepee for more than four years while building a house. Curiously my mother never commented on my life choice. She must have realized on some level that her own life was less than satisfactory.

Enrico had developed a serious meditation practice that had become a kind of ground for him. As for me I danced. Understanding the somatic, the inner body experience, became my way to shift the inner story.

We raised and homeschooled our three children. I taught them to read, Enrico taught them math. The kids ran free, happy, always engaged, making things, and discovering. We were so sure we were doing the right thing. However, we didn’t have a clue how they would make the transition to the so-called ‘real world’. The children thrived until they became teenagers. They then wanted out. Everything fell apart for them and for Enrico and me. Our lives were turned upside down, our paradise lost. There was tragedy: our son lost his life while attempting to cross our river during a fierce storm. Later I was further challenged by advanced breast cancer.

It was during these times that I delved deeply into the somatic recesses of myself. I began to find my own voice, a long learning process. I emerged with a profound trust in my own authority. It became clear that everyone has to find his or her way through layers of inauthenticity, where a deep knowing can develop. And I came to see that is the best anyone can offer to the world.

Enrico and I still live in the wilds of the Lost Padres National Forest, a paradise with many steps going up and down, a life I would not change.


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