Friday, July 31, 2015

On the Spotlight: The Aqua Lie, by L.L. Hunter

Title: The Aqua Lie
Series: The Aqua Saga book 2
Author: L.L. Hunter
Genre: YA Dystopian
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba of Mae I Design and Photography
Release Date: July 31st
Ever since being told he had to work for General Maddox in order to see Pym, Rush has had more than enough time to contemplate how to get out of this deal.
When he is invited to play a high stakes poker game with the General and his father, he is a little suspicious of the General’s motives.

When he discovers just what he is playing for, it has Rush seeing red.
The prize: Pym’s heart.
But if he loses, he will have to watch his friend Troy take Pym to the annual General’s Masquerade Ball while he sits on the sidelines.
And the hardest part of it all – trying to keep his secret from Pym.

In the much anticipated sequel to The Aqua Secret,
Will Rush be able to keep up the facade, or will it all be unraveled by midnight?

Purchase The Aqua Lie

Purchase The Aqua Secret

L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Eden Chronicles. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. She has been writing since her teens – everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.”

Beyond the Black Gates by Marcus Henry Junior Book Blast - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Title: Beyond the Black Gates 
Author: Marcus Henry Junior 
Publisher: AuthorHouse 
Pages: 220 
Genre: Mystery 
Format: Kindle/Hardcover/Paperback 

Dear Reader, I must make this quick, within the pages of this book lies a dark mystery, an important one that I couldn’t bear to tell but I do at the request of my dearest friend, who left me the task to retell and retrace the complicated and darkening footsteps of the three friends of Eltas. As children, it was just an unhealthy obsession; as teenagers, they find the truth. As adults they must follow their destined path and go where none of have gone in living memory. Come with me and discover what lies beyond the Black Gates.

ORDER INFORMATION Beyond the Black Gates is available for purchase at 
It wasn’t long after high school that Marcus found himself lost in the world, in a family of scientists and the pressure of the success of his many older siblings he felt he would never be recognized for his work and efforts. He expected a lot from himself, to leave his mark on this world. It wasn’t until he met Richard, Charles and Oskan did he stop and really consider what he wanted for himself. And that’s when he decided to document and re tell the lives of the three friends of Eltas, painting each and every character into his own world with the hopes of letting the real world know what it was like being in such a difficult, life changing situation.

Marcus 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 Amazon
  • This giveaway begins July 27 and ends on August 7.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on August 8.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Interview with Katie Pierson, author of '89 Walls'

Katie Pierson freelances for local non-profits, using her background in public policy and grassroots organizing to overthrow the patriarchy one introverted step at a time. When she’s not writing fiction, she returns library books, makes soup, and tries to be cooler than she really is by hip-hopping at the YMCA. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in American History from the University of Pennsylvania (where she dabbled briefly in being a College Republican) and a Master’s in American History from the University of Minnesota. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and now lives with her family in a suburb of Minneapolis. ’89 Walls is her first novel.
For More Information
About the Book:
Title: ’89 Walls
Author: Katie Pierson
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Pages: 240
Genre: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
College is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity. 
Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c) make her a hypocrite.
Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs—and each other—in the clear light of day.

For More Information

Q: Thanks for joining us, Katie. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea to write your book, '89 Walls?
I never planned to write a novel: I just like to read them. But a conversation with a friend in 2006 about the pros and cons of potentially attending my 20th high school reunion brought to mind the random people you run into at those things: old crushes, old “frenemies.” I suddenly had the idea for Seth and Quinn’s reluctant romance in ’89 Walls.

It wasn’t until I was half done that I realized that the story was also a partisan allegory. Seth is the Democratic Party in the late 80’s: reactive, angry, without a compass. Quinn’s father, Tom is the Republican Party: optimistic, smug, still grounded in a true small government philosophy and underestimating the rising Religious Right with its creepy fascination with people’s private lives. Mr. Levine, the teacher, is the moderator who allows two strong points of view to talk it out respectfully.
Quinn is all of us, trying to find her way when tidy theories crash into reality.
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?
I’ve heard others say that writing a novel is like opening a vein and letting it bleed. I agree. I’ve learned Hebrew and experienced natural childbirth. Writing this book was way harder. But that’s also what made it worth doing. When I kick it, my tombstone will say “Author.” I’m proud of that.
I tell closeted fellow writers that everyone feels like a fraud—it's not just them. All you have to do is print yourself a business card and put "writer" on it. When you claim the title you are one. 
Becoming an author is a different story. If my long and detoured road to publication taught me anything, it’s that you only get to call yourself an author when you put on your big girl pants and act like one.
Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
How much time do you have?
I craved a traditional publishing contract for the usual reasons: an advance, high editorial standards, broad marketing and distribution, collegial support, and the all-important stamp of legitimacy.
My timing in seeking the above could only have been worse, however, if I’d attempted it during the zombie apocalypse.
I spent a humbling two years seeking an agent for my realistic historical young adult novel during an international economic collapse, the publishing industry’s subsequent version of its own Hunger Games, the e-print revolution, and the creation of special sections in bookstores for Paranormal Teen Romance.
Signing with an agent after five lonely years of writing and racking up rejections feels like sitting by a warm fire after circumnavigating the South Pole. This profound relief kept me from noticing for eighteen months that my agent’s priority was to build her own career—not mine.
By the time I figured out that her early-career priority was to prove herself responsive to a handful of editors’ tastes, the manuscript had already done its job (for her). At my insistence, she reluctantly followed up with half of the 35 (!) submissions. Then she stopped returning my calls.
Frantic Internet research revealed that I was not alone in my experience with this agent or agency.
In retrospect, it was like finding out that not only is your Prince Charming a pimp, but that he’s your pimp.
The editors who did respond rejected the manuscript. But they offered detailed, supportive feedback that amounted to, “Good writing, but I can’t sell the sex scene and teens don’t care about politics or the late Eighties.”
I disagreed. Since when did editors worry about selling sex to readers? It seemed, too, that they drastically underestimated the intellect and interests of the Obama generation. 
After another round of agent rejections, I received enthusiastic, detailed requests for revisions from two top dealmakers. I spent a feverish six months working with a freelance editor and making the suggested changes. I re-submitted to both agents. Neither responded to my multiple communications.
At this point it finally hit me that my own standards of professionalism were higher than those of the gatekeepers I’d been trying to dazzle. I understand from other authors that there are excellent agents out there: I just haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them.
As I began researching small presses, another agent asked for my full manuscript. She praised my writing, sent me pages of insightful editorial feedback, and asked for a revision. Before proceeding, I shared with her my experience with my first agent. She responded by withdrawing her conditional offer of representation and suggesting that I abandon ’89 Walls altogether. This confirmed my fear that my ex-agent’s promiscuous submissions on my behalf had branded my book as damaged goods.
Fury is a powerful motivator.
I submitted the manuscript to several small presses. One made an offer and two more expressed preliminary interest. After exhaustive online research and outreach to their authors, though, I couldn’t bring myself to sign a contract. I’d worked too hard and too long to hand over creative control and money-making potential to for all I knew were two guys with a software program.
It was a great day when it hit me that “making it” in traditional publishing—at least with this particular historical, political, realistic and slightly steamy YA novel—would mean lowering instead of raising my standards. I owed it to Seth and Quinn not to settle for mediocrity.
Determined to produce a book that could compete with Big 5 titles, I found a mentoring press to deliver the professionalism that I hadn’t been able to find in traditional publishing. Wise Ink Creative Publishing brought me back in from the cold.
Mentoring presses give authors access to a carefully-curated stable of talent, including professional editors, copy editors, proofreaders, cover designers, interior designers, and publicists. My cover designer’s day job, for example, is at Random House.
Several of my Big Five author friends admit that they loathe their books’ titles or cover designs. This sounds horrifying, like letting a stranger name your newborn. This process has taught me to trust my gut instincts: self-publishing gave me full creative control.
I studied Wise Ink’s extensive resources and read every book on self-publishing I could get my hands on. My resulting in a 15-page marketing and work plan has produce far more buzz for ’89 Walls than a traditional house could afford to generate for a debut author.
Wise Ink also helped me build my website and jump into social media. It put ’89 Walls into the regular distribution channels, and made sure it could hold its own among its Big 5 peers on the bookstore shelves.
There’s no advance. I assumed the financial risk but earn 100% of the profit. Speaking of, you can order ’89 Walls directly from Itasca Books Distribution or use this cool book store finder to buy it from (and support) a local, independently-owned store near you. It’s also available at Amazon. And please visit my website at
If there’s a moral to my publishing story it’s this: “when all else fails, raise your expectations.”
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
I had absolutely no idea how many steps were involved in a book’s production. But I was pleasantly surprised to realize how much I enjoyed the steep learning curve and making the creative decisions.
Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?
My critics hate ’89 Walls in an interestingly passionate sort of way. They say I have an agenda. This cracks me up. Of course I have an agenda. As does everyone I’ve ever met. One of my characters says, “If you think you’re neutral, you’re kidding yourself.” ’89 Walls is about the choices we make in love, sex, family loyalties, politics and friendship. It’s a fast-paced summer read for older teens and anyone who remembers the 1980s. Message-wise, I’d describe it as pro-dialogue, pro-choice, and pro-young people.
Q: Do you have any final words?
Readers who experienced 1989 as teenagers may be surprised to discover how much went down that year: divestiture in apartheid South Africa, the Tiananmen Square protests, the Webster decision, the Iran-Contra scandal, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the savings and loan crisis, the growing AIDS epidemic, the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the premiere of Seinfeld.
Thank you so much for this opportunity. It’s been a pleasure.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Guest post by Christopher Nuttall, author of ‘Trial by Fire’

Schooled in Magic is a fantasy book, but it draws extensively from real history.  The Allied Lands bear a strong resemblance to Middle Ages Europe, complete with self-obsessed rulers, clergy and commoners struggling to build a united state and a looming threat on the southern border from the necromancers.  I studied extensively to create the matrix for the Nameless World, reading hundreds of history books about kings, princes and their worlds.

Princess Alassa, for example, is based - at least in part - on Mary Queen of Scots.  Scotland was simply not used to having a queen on the throne (nor was England, but England was a more established country at the time) and the concept of being ruled by a woman shocked many of the higher noblemen.  Zangaria is a cross between Scotland and the United Kingdom of Charles I; there are social tensions between aristocratic, magicians, businessmen and traders, all of whom want to secure their own position and, if possible, demolish their enemies.  The prospect of Alassa - who was something of a brat before she went to Whitehall School - taking the throne spurred her enemies to act. 

Real history also discusses the limitations facing rulers in their times.  To us, the idea that Mary couldn’t rule in her own right seems absurd; to her noblemen, it made a convenient excuse for ignoring her from time to time.  (Elizabeth I had the same problem.)  Mary had to balance a number of competing factions, all of whom hated the others; in hindsight, it isn’t really surprising she lost her balance and fell off the tightrope. 

That’s not to say that real history should be used as a guide.  Alassa … may not end up being chased off her throne by her noblemen.  The story will go the way that suits its internal logic - and, unlike Mary, Alassa has magic.  On a fundamental level, the Allied Lands are different from Earth.  And that is something that should always be borne in mind.

About the Book
Title: Trial By Fire (Schooled In Magic 7)
Genre: Fantasy
Author: Christopher G. Nuttall
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Sample Chapter HERE.
Purchase on Amazon / OmniLit
Three years ago, Emily killed the Necromancer Shadye before he could sacrifice her and destroy the Allied Lands.  Now, the shadows of the past hang over Whitehall as Emily and the Grandmaster travel into the Blighted Lands to recover anything Shadye might have left behind, before returning to Whitehall to start the fourth year.  For Emily, it is a chance to stretch her mind and learn more about new and innovative forms of magic … and to prepare for the exams that will determine her future as a magician.
But as she starts her studies, it becomes clear that all is not well at Whitehall.  Master Grey, a man who disliked Emily from the moment he met her, is one of her teachers – and he seems intent on breaking her, pushing her right to her limits.  In the meantime, her friends Alassa and Imaiqah are acting oddly, Frieda seems to be having trouble talking to her and – worst of all – Caleb, her partner in a joint magical project, is intent on asking her to go out with him.
As she struggles to cope with new challenges and to overcome the demons in her past, she becomes aware of a deadly threat looming over Whitehall, a curse that threatens her very soul.  And when she makes a tiny yet fatal mistake, she finds herself facing a fight she cannot win, but dares not lose…
About the Author
Christopher Nuttall was born in Edinburgh, studied in Manchester, married in Malaysia and currently living in Scotland, United Kingdom, with his wife and baby son.  He is the author of twenty novels from various publishers and thirty-nine self-published novels.
Connect with the author on the web:

Interview with Daniel R. Mathews, author of The Demons of Plainville

Can you tell us what your book is about?

The Demons of Plainville is a memoir that revisits the darkness of my childhood experiences.  I detail my struggles against abusive parents, bullying and homophobia while attempting to somehow discover my self-identity. It’s a memoir where I’m forced to battle the demons of anger, sorrow, loneliness and fear while learning to fight for myself and others. And perhaps more than anything, it’s a book about the power of friendship and mentors in the life of a troubled child.

Why did you write your book?

Ultimately, I wrote The Demons of Plainville with the hope that readers who had suffered similar experiences in their lives, or knew someone in a similar situation could derive some sense of solidarity and hope. But, to be honest, there is a storyteller compulsion behind the memoir. While there is no single catastrophic event that on its own merits a memoir,  there are many bizarre events, occultist ties, and real-life plot twists that read like a work of fiction. I hope for these reasons that readers will find the memoir an entertaining read, as well.

What kind of message is your book trying to tell your readers?

There are a couple of messages, but I believe the most important one for young people is that it really does get better. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy process, but as hopeless things may seem right now, life can and does get better.

However, the secondary message is that this process does not happen alone. I only survived because the right people stepped into my life and gave me a sense of hope, belonging and a reason to keep up the fight and not give up. If you know a troubled child or an adult who is struggling to recover from his or her past, there is no more powerful weapon than friendship.  

Who influenced you to write your book?

While it was a handful of friends that pushed me into penning the memoir, I have to credit my Grandfather above all. He believed that I had stories to tell and that I had been born to do this. Granted, I’m sure he never envisioned me writing a memoir, but then he knew that I had always kept my past and my feelings bottled up. About a year before he died, sensing I was unhappy with my current career, he urged me one last time to start writing. Sadly, it wouldn’t be until after he had passed that I finally took his advice. Regardless, this memoir and my subsequent novels wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for his belief in me.

Is it hard to publish a nonfiction book?

I think writing a memoir can be the most difficult of non-fiction books because it is inherently emotionally evocative. I experienced an outpouring of emotion with almost every major scene in the memoir, and I know I’m not alone in that experience. Now, I’ve done some non-fiction work with aviation instructional materials and found it difficult to resist over embellishing the material. Typically, non-fiction material needs to focus on the core information that you need to convey to readers while holding their attention. This can be a surprisingly difficult proposition, especially when dealing with educational materials that are dry in nature.

Which author(s) do you admire?

I’ve gone through an interesting evolution as I’ve grown up. Because my Grandfather was a bookbinder by trade, I grew up with Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, and Charles Dickens. So they quickly became my favorite authors. As I became a teenager, my affections shifted to Tom Clancy, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Stephen King. As an adult, I became infatuated with the works of J.K. Rowling and her amazing world-building abilities and H.P Lovecraft for the same reasons.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I rarely suffer from extended writer’s block and I credit my use of outlines that I develop prior to starting a major project. I think when you take the time to map out some major scenes, plot points and characters arcs in advance that the likelihood of running into a serious block diminishes. However, when I do start encountering a block, I return my focus back to improving the outline. Sometimes just some mindless plotting or playing with ideas will reignite that creative spark. If all else fails, I just step away from the computer and take a walk.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

If I said, I’d devote that extra hour to getting these questions answered that would probably be a little too much on the nose. So, instead, I’d devote that extra hour to flying. I’ve not been behind the yoke of an aircraft in some time regrettably, and there is nothing that gets the adrenaline pumping or your confidence rebuilt as commanding a small aircraft.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Far and away, my favorite holiday is Halloween. There is no other holiday that encourages you to become anyone or anything. I cannot think of a day that is more geared to the art of storytelling and imagination. There is an animatronic zombie sitting beside my desk as I type that shows my devotion to the holiday.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

I’m not much of a coffee drinker, so I’d be inclined to say Panera Bread over Starbucks. But in reality, nothing beats a small independent bookstore with a nice little cafĂ©.

What do you like to do for fun?

I’m a PC gamer, so I enjoy playing MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, and games like Skyrim and Fallout. I also enjoy heading over to Netflix or the local theater to see a movie.

Can you tell us about your family?

Well, technically I wrote an entire memoir discussing this subject. I guess I could summarize my family as having been profoundly troubled. Alcoholism, drug abuse and some degree of mental illness pervaded my immediate family back at least one generation.

What do you like the most about being an author?

There are few careers on this planet, where use of your imagination is not just encouraged, it’s required. What other job can you sit down and create other worlds for people to explore and enjoy? There is a symbiotic relationship between movie production, game development, and novels. In the end, someone has to sit down and create a world, then populate it with characters. While it is a challenging job, I believe there are few that are more gratifying than being an author.

What kind of advice would you give other non-fiction authors?

Whether fiction or non-fiction, I’d say first that outlines are your friend. Take the time to make at least a simple outline before you type the first word of the project. In some ways, this is even more critical for a non-fiction author that needs to keep their material properly organized and collated to properly convey the necessary information to the reader. I’d also say to be sure to fact-check your information and keep all of your sources well documented and cross-referenced if at all possible. Your credibility as a non-fiction author rests upon your ability to deliver factual information practically and informatively without resorting to hyperbole or hearsay.  

About The Book

Title: The Demons of Plainville: A Survivor's Story of Storms and Reconstruction
Author: Daniel R. Mathews
Publisher: Lost Legacy Press
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Format: Paperback - 292 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0990710745
Genre: Autobiography / Memoir / LGBT / Non Fiction

Buy The Book:


Barnes & Noble:


Book Description:

Some true stories read like fiction, but for those who have to personally live through the experiences, the nightmare is vividly real. Daniel R. Mathews digs into the darkness of his past with his haunting memoir, The Demons of Plainville.

As a child, Daniel struggles to find his footing in an upside-down world. His mother is mentally ill and addicted to drugs; she performs black masses to summon demons, is physically abusive, and plays brutal mind games that make him doubt his sanity and despair of ever making sense of life or himself. Even his father beats Daniel after “rescuing” him from his mother. Thanks to a few unexpected friends, Daniel survives his devastating youth and emerges stronger for it.

But Daniel’s battles aren’t over. Finally free of his abusive parents, he now must face himself and wrestle with his sexual identity in a community that sees nothing wrong with homophobia.

Candid and compelling, this is a triumphant tale of a young man who walked through the darkness, bravely faced his demons, and against all odds carried the faint light of hope with him every step of the way.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1: Telling The Truth

Accusations. This is how it always begins. S Screaming follows when my answers prove inadequate. Then come the threats, and finally the misery of surrender.

I was about eight at the time, living in a small red brick apartment building
in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Our apartment was on the basement floor, so
there was not a good view outside, only a few small quarter windows allowing
in some daylight. The building stood on a grassy hill that overlooked Myles
Standish State Forest. Some days I would just curl up on the sun-warmed
grass, staring down into the forest below me and imagining that I was a bird
darting between the trees.

My anger grew as we went through the same cycle day after day. I stood
in our tiny living room facing the yellow sofa with my mother giving me that
disdainful stare that made me feel ashamed. I’d look towards the light tan
carpet, afraid to make eye contact with her. The details of the accusation did
not matter, as I seldom had any idea what she was talking about. Whether
there was a quarter missing from her bureau or the bathroom light being left
on at night, there was no end to the possibilities of accusations. Each day the
school bus dropped me off at the bottom of the hill, I paused at the bus-stop
to gather whatever courage I could muster. I knew that a new accusation

would be awaiting me, starting the cycle anew.

“Stand up straight when I’m talking to you!” She barks at me. “And stop looking
down at your feet. Where is it, what did you do with it?” she screams, finger
pointed towards me.

“I don’t know,” I say defensively, shrugging my shoulders.

“You little fucking liar,” she says, standing up from the couch and slapping my
face. “Now get in your room!”

I would rush into my small room in our apartment, slamming the white door
shut before ripping clumps of my own short blond hair out. I hid the hair
under my giant stuffed bear, which stood up to my waist in height. The bear
was a gift from my maternal grandparents, ever standing ready to accept my
love. I clung to the bear; its soft white and gray fur brought me comfort during
times of sadness or anger.

My mother grew suspicious of the growing bald spot on the top of my
head and one afternoon decided to tear the room apart. Eventually, she found
the tangled lump of blond hair hidden under the bear and challenged me for
answers, answers I did not have. I could not explain the anger inside me, at
least not an explanation I dared speak in front of her. I had begun craving
independence and the seeds of rebellion sprouted forth. She pushed me at
every opportunity, accused and cursed me for anything ranging from theft to
family misfortune. I just did not understand.

My only outlet was to punish myself through self-inflicted pain, just to
release the frustration. My mother took an attitude of open hostility against
me, one that persisted throughout my childhood.

“I’m going to send you to a mental institution!” she screamed at me, her long
dirty blond hair swinging between her shoulder blades as she frantically shook
her head. She wiped the sweat from her flushed brow then paused for a moment
and looked down at me with great disgust waving the fist full of my hair
she found at me. I clung to my stuffed bear, looking up at her.

“If you do not learn to behave, I’m going to send you to a reform school
for boys.” She had hesitated for just a moment longer before her voice shifted
into a menacing tone. “They just love cute little white boys at the reform
school. They will take care of you real good.” Turning her back on me, she
stormed out of the room, leaving me weeping into my bear’s fur while I continued
to hug it with all my strength.

I’d heard of reform school before I was in second grade. However, I was
left pondering the nature of how they would take care of me. Strange feelings
overtook me. At first, heat surged through my body, then excitement.
My heart began to beat faster, and for the first time that day I smiled. The
words take care of you echoed in my mind over and over. Other boys at this reform
school were going to take care of me. My mind reinterpreted her hidden
threat; other boys were going to be touching me. I did not understand what
this might mean, but I wanted desperately to find out. These strange longings
would grow and expand in time. The seed long within me had sprouted. Yet,
it did not grow for a while.

We eventually moved from the basement apartment to my grandparents’
house in the same town. The small ranch style house was nestled in small
groves of pine and oak trees. There were numerous cranberry bogs in the
area and a large waterfront district a few miles east of the house. Small single
engine airplanes frequently flew overhead, taking off and landing at the local
airport just to the north.

The yard was ideal for play, with a large back yard that sloped down into
a small grove of pines and blueberry bushes. The neighbors behind the house
owned a pair of horses that I visited every day. The house had three small
bedrooms. My room was adjacent to the living room, just wide enough to fit
my bed and a small dresser. When in the house I spent most of my time looking
out the large living room bay window watching the cars and trucks drive
by. Otherwise, I sat on the back deck with my grandmother. We would try
to identify the particular birds visiting the feeder using a small field guide to
birds. I went down the stairs and tossed a ball around with my grandfather on
the lawn or helped him weed his small garden.

Because of the influence and presence of my grandparents (my mother’s
parents), my problems decreased. More often than not, my mother would
go off with her cousin Alice, leaving me behind. Alice’s arrival frequently
corresponded with noticeable changes in my mother’s behavior. Alice was
stern yet generally pleasant towards me. However, when they left together,
they would return in a giggly or light-hearted mood, which would come
crashing down a few hours later. I found the sudden mood shifts to be the
most troubling occurrence because it added uncertainty and fear to my already
besieged mind. One afternoon, though, while my grandparents were
out for the day, my mother and her cousin called me into the small bedroom
my mother was staying in at the end of the house.

Mother closes the curtains and shades, leaving just a shaft of sunlight entering the
room. She held a large red case, almost like a toolbox of some sort. She opened
the case and took out some items, including candles, a bell, incense, goblet,
matches, and a book. The book was entitled The Satanic Bible. She placed the
black and red candles around in a pattern that she refers to as a pentagram
with a circle around it. She ordered me into the imaginary circle and told me
to remain silent and not leave the center of the circle for any reason,” or else.”

She and Alice joined me in the circle while they lit a burner and then some
incense. The snaking trail of smoke climbed towards the ceiling. The ritual
was both exciting and frightening. She picked up the book and looked over at
me, smiling. She told me that she would pray to Satan and summon demons,
but the demons were not allowed to enter the circle. As long as I remained
calm, I would be protected.

She began the mass by ringing the bells; she used the book to speak words
I’d never heard before. The ringing echoed faintly in the room, combining
with the sweet smell of the incense. I felt almost dizzy, overcome by a giddy
feeling of excitement.

She proceeded to cut herself with a silver knife with an ornate looking
pearl handle, just enough to draw a steady trickle of blood from her finger, allowing
it to flow into a tarnished bronze colored chalice. Alice took the knife
and sliced her own finger, allowing drops of blood to fall into the chalice. My
mother held the chalice upwards as an offering and mumbled a few words.
After placing it back on the ground, she took a long slender writing instrument
and dipped it into the blood. The blood served as the ink, allowing her
to write on a small blank piece of white paper. I couldn’t see the writing, but
she told me it was an offering for our luck and fortune. She ripped the paper
into small pieces and set it ablaze. The mass finished with a final ringing of
the bells, driving away the demons.

I couldn’t see these creatures, but the air was laden with smoke and darkness.
I was sure the demons were there.

That afternoon was my first introduction to the “Lucifer,” originally the chosen
angel. The year was 1976 but on this otherwise bright summer afternoon,
it might have been 1692. Witchcraft was alive and well in the suburbs of

Mother and Alice repeated this scene several times during the summer,
always when my grandparents were out of the house. Since these rituals were
never performed in their presence, I always wondered what the ramifications
would be if they found out. As strange as it sounds, these were the few times I
felt emotionally close and accepted by my mother, so I was grateful for them.

As October approached, we were on the road once again. My mother,
Alice and I settled down one town over into a small cottage in the woods
of Carver. The cottage was just a ten minutes’ drive from my grandparents’
home, nestled amid lush green pines and small evergreen trees. Alice worked
for the state in Boston and money my mother received from welfare covered
the cottage’s rent. The commute from Carver to Boston was long, so Alice left
early in the morning before I got the bus and did not return home until the
sun had set. My mother spent a great deal of time sleeping during these times,
taking various prescriptions that generally left her tired and moody.

Loving the outdoors and the woods, I approved of our new home’s location.
Surrounded by miles of forest and a large lake that reflected the sunlight
in shimmering ripples of yellow, it was almost a boy’s dream come true. The
dream didn’t last long though.

I started the third grade at age nine that autumn. School became an issue
for me almost immediately. The first day I climbed into the bus, the driver
assumed I was a girl, as did the kids on the bus.

“Who are you?” the bus driver inquired, searching his list.

Before I could answer, he said, “Oh, there must be a mistake. Your name
is Danielle, right?”

I looked at him in surprise, “No, it’s Daniel!” I snapped back. The kids
in the front seat immediately giggled and pointed at me. I looked down and
began blushing.

The bus driver cleared his throat. “Well, Danielle is French for Daniel. So
climb on in, let’s go.”

This led to the unavoidable teasing and taunting one would naturally
expect from such a mistake. I could barely contain the tears of shame though
I did a reasonable job of keeping some composure for the trip to school. My
natural femininity provided a constant source of irritation throughout the
first semester, though eventually the kids forgot about it. Perhaps subconsciously,
I began to isolate myself.

Yet school was only a passing nuisance because my mother’s attitude towards
me changed quickly. She resented my growing desire for privacy and
independence. Away from the influence of my grandparents, my mother’s disposition
soured. The cycle of accusations and threats began to accelerate, taking
on a more menacing tone.

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    About The Author

An avid reader of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, Daniel R. Mathews is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose books feature LGBT youth braving danger with honor and dignity, including his personal memoir, The Demons of Plainville, and debut horror novel, The Unseen Kingdom. For the past two decades, Mathews has worked as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified ground instructor, meteorologist, and a member of the web development and Internet technical support community. He currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.   

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Interview with Alan A. Winter, author of Island Bluffs

Title: Island Buffs
Author: Alan A. Winter
Publisher: KBPublishing
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Format: Kindle/Paperback

 Island Bluffs is a story of love, forgiveness, and understanding the dark side of the human spirit. It explores the age-old question: are children accountable for the sins of their parents and grandparents? Carly Mason is a successful New York City forensic dentist. She and her widower husband, Gabe Berk, are trying to start a family. Thinking they had exhausted the options by consulting with all of Manhattan’s fertility experts, Carly and Gabe learn of an eccentric scientist who runs an exclusive clinic. The doctor commits to helping the couple conceive the baby they so desperately want, but only if they agree to what seems like an outrageous stipulation; Carly must carry twins, one biological and one that she is a surrogate for. Once the twins are born Carly has to surrender the non-biological twin to the doctor at birth, no questions asked. Further, should the old doctor die before Carly gives birth, she has to agree to give the baby the name chosen by the doctor. As required for treatment, Carly and Gabe move into a new house, which is within thirty minutes of the clinic. They soon discover that their new home and town, Island Bluffs, are far from ordinary. Carly and Gabe feel eyes spying on them at every turn. Gabe’s father, Yehuda, hears strange noises that only he can hear. Megan, Gabe’s rebellious sixteen-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, is attracted to the son of a Neo-Nazi. The mysteries continue to deepen as a scavenger ship appears on nearby waters searching for sunken treasure along with glimpses of a lone swimmer lumbering through the waves of Barnegat Bay. Island Bluffs is a present-day town bound to the past by horrible secrets and pacts made long ago. Keeping secrets buried as some had hoped was no longer an option for the Berks. Their new and some thought long-forgotten home made that impossible by putting them squarely in the middle of it all. When the truths are revealed, the shocking twists and turns will challenge the very notions of what is right and wrong.

  ORDER INFORMATION Island Bluffs is available for purchase at  


Q: Please tell us about (insert book title here), and what inspired you to write it.

A:  One day, a lawyer that I knew, gave me an unexpected answer when I asked how he was feeling. “Do you really want to know?” he asked. I assured him I did or I would not have posed the question. His answer astounded. “I had a rough time of it, last night. The ghost in my house kept me up all night.”

Boy, did that get my attention. I asked him to elaborate and when he did, the story he revealed was nothing short of amazing (to me) and right then and there, I knew I had to write about it. I used his true story as the basis for a book and that is how “Island Bluffs” came to be written.

Q: What themes do you explore?

A: “Island Bluffs” is multilayered. It plumbs the age-old question of forgiveness and explores how people can go on with their lives after having experienced horrific events. A unique part of this book explores this theme from three different viewpoints: an aged American GI who lost the love of his life during the WWII, a Holocaust survivor, and a survivor of the Mengele Twin Experiments.
Another theme explored in “Island Bluffs” delves into the question: are children and grandchildren responsible for the sins of their parents?

And lastly, “Island Bluffs” offers a unique twist on the Nature vs. Nurture debate . . . in a way that has not been tackled in any book to date.

Q: Why do you write?

A: I write because I am compelled to write. I need to write. It is part of me. I started writing thirty years ago and not only fell in love with the process of writing, but realized that it was necessary to keep my mind healthy. When I am not writing, I think about writing. My characters are always with me and even when I am in the midst of writing a new book, which I am now, I am already plotting and researching the next story. It is a switch that cannot be turned off.

Q: How picky are you with language?

A: I am not only picky with language (as I know it to be correct), but I am very in sync with rhythm. I try to make my sentences lyrical, I tried to have them almost be melodic. And by that, I do not mean musical. Rather, it is the cadences that are important to me. To do this, I read my sentences out loud to hear how they sound. I repeat this many times until I am satisfied that they not only work with language, but with the right amount of syllables and “beats.”

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

A: I don’t feel it some times; I feel it all the time. For me, writing is channeling. I am comfortable starting a book and having no clue what the ending is going to be. Frankly, I never know the ending. What I rely on and have faith in is that my characters will guide me to the right ending. And in every book, including “Island Bluffs,” they have. You see, I trust my characters to be truthful . . . and truthful characters bring a story to the right conclusion.

Q: What is your worst time as a writer?

A: The worst time I had as a writer is when I realized that after proofreading my previous novel, “Savior’s Day,” many, many times and after having corrected all the typos, I found more than a hundred typos in the final version after it was in print. That killed me. I immediately pulled the book, hired editors (not one but two), corrected everything and then had the book republished.

Q: Your best?

A: My best time as a writer is when I am in front of my computer writing. Oh, I could turn a cliché and say that it was the first time I held a book in my hand, and it was just like holding a newborn child - and it is - but that is a happy time, a satisfied time, and time of accomplishment. The best time is every time I write.

Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

A: I do not say this lightly:  dementia. Short of that, I cannot imagine anything stopping me from writing because I write for me, not for anyone else. My father-in-law wrote four books after he had a debilitating stroke, was completely paralyzed in his dominant hand, and could no longer speak. So physical handicaps are limitations to writing. They can present as huge speed bumps but they are not barriers that bring writing to a halt.

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

A: Now that we are speaking about happy, I would say holding my first novel in my hand. That was quite a thrill.

Q: Is writing an obsession to you?

A: Writing is a passion for me, not an obsession.

Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

A: My stories are independent of each other, though I have had two different characters appear in subsequent books because they brought compelling skills that enhanced the new story. The stories, themselves, are in no way related. If I were to pick one writer that I most admire and am most like, it would be Michael Crichton. His works covered a host of subjects, that spanned different locations, and even different time periods. Mine follow those patterns.

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?

A: I would not use the phrase “drunk on writing” when it comes to separating the vagaries of everyday life from interfering with one’s literary abilities. Rather, I would say that writers need to compartmentalize their writing from their everyday activities. When I write, I do so in complete quiet and I don’t need to block out the world more than that. I find that I go into that zone necessary to concentrate on my writing without any additional effort.

Q: Where is your book available?

A: “Island Bluffs” is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and on

Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

Yes. has more information about me and all my books.


At first blush, Alan is quick to say that he never intended to be a writer. But when he thinks about it, he's been writing in one form or another, for his entire adult life. In college, he wrote paper after paper for his history and literature courses. Professionally, he edited a dental journal and wrote more than twenty scientific papers. That still doesn't explain how a dentist came to write fiction!

 It started in 1982 when Alan made small talk with a patient about a sci-fi idea he had. She thought the idea was so terrific, she urged him to write a movie treatment about it. Alan dismissed her offhand. What did he know about writing movies?

 The patient persisted. Each time she would visit his office, she would demand to see the finished movie treatment. Seeing she was serious and relentless, Alan agreed to hand her a treatment. But how? He had no clue where to start. Asking other patients for guidance, Alan was introduced to a young screenwriter who agreed - for a fee - to write the treatment. They worked together, produced a treatment, and shopped it around to a number of studios. One studio took the idea (without permission or payment) and turned Alan's treatment into a movie.

 Alan experienced two revelations at the time:

 1. Rather than waste energy being litigious, be flattered that a studio felt Alan's idea was worthy of turning it into a movie. Knowing a stranger valued his creativity supported all of his future projects. 2. Collaborating with the screenwriter gave Alan the validation he needed that if and when he chose to write a book, it wouldn't be foolhardy...not that it really mattered what others thought!

 Still, Alan had no desire to write fiction. That changed in 1985. That was the year that Alan began writing his first novel, "Someone Else's Son," which was eventually published by MasterMedia, Ltd.

 What prompted Alan to write "Someone Else's Son" is a story in itself. When Alan completed his periodontal training at Columbia, he joined a prestigious Fifth Avenue periodontal practice. Day after day, the well-to-do, prominent patients asked Alan if he was old enough to be a dentist. (He looked that much younger than the two senior partners). Trying to convince the patients that he was old enough to be a dentist and, therefore, experienced enough to treat them, Alan put his two sons' pictures on the treatment room wall. When his third son was born, he added that one, too. Every few months, he updated the photos.

 But a curious thing happened on a daily basis. The patients kept asking why Alan had pictures of children on the wall. When he replied, "They're not just any children; those are my sons," no one believed him. They claimed the boys looked too dissimilar to be brothers. They joked that he must have taken the wrong one home from the hospital. Though this was not the case (at least he didn't think so), Alan wondered what he would've done had he discovered, years later, that he and his wife had brought the wrong child home from the hospital. The result was "Someone Else's Son."

 While maintaining his periodontal practice, Alan has continued to write since he first took up pen to paper, although now he is very appreciative that his mother forced him to take typing in summer school after his sophomore year of high school. Boys just didn't do that back in the '60s, but it has been an invaluable skill over the years.

 In 1999, "Snowflakes in the Sahara" was published by iUniverse. "Savior's Day," also published by iUniverse, was published in 2013 to critical acclaim. It was selected by Kirkus Reviews as a Best Book of 2013.

 "Island Bluffs," Alan's newest novel, is published by KB Publishing to excellent reviews. He is at work on his next novel, "The Legacy of Izaak Wolf," about an adolescent with Asperger's Syndrome achieves the near impossible to save his family from a surefire calamity. Alan and Lori live in his native New Jersey. They have five children and five grandchildren.  

For More Information

Visit Alan’s website.