Featured Author: Raani York

Featured Author:  Raani York

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Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’m an author with a “normal daytime job”. Uhm… something needs to actually get food on the table. I wish I could live off writing, but I’m not far enough yet for that.

I work, I get back, I do some writing, I blog, and once in a while I get an idea and fulfill one of my dreams and goals. Whatever is in my mind. I as well am into Martial Arts and usually work out once a week.

And of course I take care of my little “furry family”, means my three Maine Coon cats, Jake, Charlet and Esme. (who do actually play quite a role in my blog.)

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  1.   What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.

I am writing for quite some time now, started out with articles for little magazines, later for newspaper columns, even continuation love stories for women magazines. But I soon felt, this was not the writing I wanted to do.

I wanted more… a book… I couldn’t even tell when exactly the idea came into my head but I did feel the need to write down this story and when I was “done” I felt I hadn’t told all there is. So I just continued to the next book… and the next.

I do write fantasy books and besides a few of my family members and friends inspiring me to “form” my characters, the only one who didn’t inspire me, was myself. (Even though I have to admit a couple of my friends and my editor tell me, the main protagonist strongly reminds them of me)

 

My Trilogy has gotten its copyright and is truly mine, but has not been published yet. The first book “Dragonbride” is ready, but I think it really deserves a special publication and I work on it. There’s no exact date yet. For some reason there was always something coming up that delayed it and I start believing that has some reason I do not yet know about.

My second book of the Trilogy is nearly done editing and the third book is written, but hadn’t had editing yet.

After years of work on this Trilogy the characters grew on me and I had to finally say good bye to them. It was a little like “losing friends”.

 

In the meantime I have started another two manuscripts of another, entirely new Trilogy and I’m really surprised how easy they are to write.

  1.   How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

At this time I am still Networking. I can hardly really promote a book that doesn’t yet “exist”. It WILL be published, yes, and by then I think it will get the best possible promotion I can give it, but right now, I’m still in the “start-up” phase.

 

 

  1.   Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

I gave the Manuscript to a wonderful book expert, Kristen Lamb who allowed me to send it in since I won her monthly contest on her blog. She gave me a great review and comments on the parts of the manuscript she read and I was quite proud of it and still am.

I do figure by the time my first book really is published the reviews will come in – and even though I hope all of them will be great, I already am afraid they won’t be. And it scares me.

  1.   Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

Dragonbride is the first book of the “Dragon Chronicles” Trilogy. It tells about a baby, growing up to be the only Magician on Earth. She’s taken care of by her Aunts and is taught Magic from a very young age. Her entire life she’s prepared to become the “Golden Dragon’s” wife. Of course she doesn’t believe it at first, she thinks it’s only her Aunt’s threat to make her behave – and then she is quite surprised when it turns out to be the truth. She does become the Golden Dragon’s wife. Her marriage isn’t quite the horror she fears – it’s more the opposite. She’s very happy. But then she and her husband find out that the Earth is in grave danger by the most evil creature appearing. And they go on a mission to save the Earth.

I don’t want to get the entire book told her within a few words. There are a few surprising things happening – and at the end, it will be like a “new beginning.

  1.    Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).

My Website:                   http://www.raaniyork.com/

My blog:                         http://raaniyork.wordpress.com/

My email:                       raaniyorkca@aol.com

 

Different Platforms:      

https://myspace.com/raaniyork

https://www.facebook.com/raaniyork

http://www.pinterest.com/raaniyorkca/boards/

https://plus.google.com/115854197563561201228/posts

https://twitter.com/RaaniYork

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/raani-york/5/922/b37

http://microcerpt.com/raaniyork/

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12628426-raani

  1.     I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

*****

Finally, we lay next to each other again, and I nestled against him. We both knew that it was time for the final part of the ritual.

Dragan sighed worriedly, and I looked into his eyes. His voice barely a whisper, he said, “I see fear in your eyes… but I see love as well. I hope from the bottom of my heart that this won’t destroy things before we’ve had a chance to start.”
I knew that nothing I said would help right now, so I just slipped out of his arms and let him get out of bed. It was torturous for both of us, and I could tell by his expression that he did not want to leave my side. He hated the idea that we had to be apart while he shapeshifted. I could almost feel his unhappiness physically. “Please, give me an hour.” I nodded silently.

(free translation of the Dragon’s diary…)

He hoped that he would not lose her, that she would not fear him for the rest of her life. Even his mother, Lea-Angela, had been so shocked that it took her a year to become used to her husband’s dragon form.

However, he knew that if it went badly he would do anything he could to help his wife through this – anything. He disappeared behind the tapestry that covered the passage leading to his own suite, which was much bigger than his wife’s to accommodate his true form. He needed a lot of space to be able to spread out and move around, especially when he bathed.

Dragons were very clean creatures, and he liked to spread his wings out after grooming himself, something he loved to do. Naturally, this room was covered in rare and expensive carpets, along with the other rooms in his quarters. He liked their warmth, and only the bathroom was uncarpeted for practical reason. It was tiled and there was a large drain in the tub. He felt quite comfortable after cleaning up and was ready to face his wife….

Within the hour I had bathed and changed my clothes. Three of my servants were there to help me; they gave me a gentle massage and applied a perfumed lotion to keep my skin moisturized.
“This is necessary,” Nemesis explained, “because the air-conditioning system down here can dry your skin out, Your Highness, and I’m sure that you want to appear as young and as beautiful as you can.” I nodded, but my thoughts were in the next room.
Standing now in my dark red night-gown, I realized that the moment of truth had come. Surprisingly, I felt not more than anticipation and curiosity.

I considered it a great privilege to see the Golden Dragon with my own eyes. I waved my hand to dismiss my servants and moved slowly towards the door.

Knocking politely on the door, I called in the dragons’ favored tongue, Latin. “Are you ready, milord?” A deep growl answered me. I interpreted this as a yes and entered his chambers.

The very first thing I saw was an immense claw, directly in front of me. Looking up, I followed the curve of his enormous shoulder. To the right was his coiled tail, its muscles twitching slightly.

I looked into his yellow reptilian eyes, the pupils narrow and slitted. His huge head was beautifully formed and not at all scary since I already knew my husband as a ‘human’; even his snout was perfectly formed. As our eyes met, we almost became lost in each other’s eyes.

I saw the folded wings and the razor-sharp claws, but what impressed me the most was his magnificent armor-plated body. Dragan’s shimmering golden scales were a mixture of shades from a yellow as rich as the summer sun and the darkest ochre, and everything in between.

When I had decided that I had seen enough, I bowed before him and said, “Milord Draco Beziehn’leliehv, I shall always be at your disposal no matter what form you take.”

A single tear slid down the scales covering his cheek, vanishing into a crevice. He seemed so emotional that he couldn’t speak; I was afraid that he’d croak like a frog if he tried to right now. I smiled at him and asked “Am I permitted to touch you, milord?”
The Golden Dragon nodded, answering in melodic voice that I found hypnotic. “Yes, milady, but be careful. My claws are as sharp as knives – don’t hurt yourself.”

Minding his words, I approached him and took care around his claws. I placed a hand on his golden scales. Even though he felt cool to the touch, I could feel the life-force within and the slow rhythm of his heart. But more importantly than that, I could feel his love for me.

I smiled as I stood before him. “You’re magnificent, my husband.”
In his thoughts I could sense his relief and pleasure at those words….

*****

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Thank you very much for giving me the chance to be your guest. It was a lot of fun and a great opportunity. I really appreciate it!

Raani

***Thank you so much Raani for allowing me to interview you.  You have such BEAUTIFUL CATS, I have two and love them so much that their considered my “Babies” rather than my “pets”.    You are quite the accomplished author and I only wish you the best.

Featured Author: Christopher Courtley

Featured Author:     Christopher Courtley

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  1.  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’ve been telling stories, writing poetry and prose, and drawing (or more like doodling) for as long as I can remember. I’m not happy unless I’m creating. A consequence of this, perhaps, is that I’ve also been a bit of a misfit for as long as I can remember. As a child I had what one might call a fey nature. I was a very solitary, private person for much of my life, mostly nocturnal and attracted to dark and lonely places, old forests and brooding wastelands, ruins, graveyards; a lover of mist and moonlight, fascinated by the creatures of the night, and by death, the paranormal, and the occult. This disposition has served to shape both my life and my work.

2.  What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.   

I’ve always loved fantasy, especially dark fantasy, and Gothic horror, and found that these elements often come together in fairy tales of the type collected by the Grimms in addition to those included in the Arabian Nights and not a few written by Hans Christian Andersen as well, so naturally some of my earliest writings have been in that vein. I’m also a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, so his work has had a major influence on my own, especially pertaining to the realms of Faerie and my poetic experience of them.

3.  How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

I use social networking almost exclusively to promote my books. Right now the most important promotional tools for me besides my blog are Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google +, and the Virtual Ebook Fair.

4.   Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

Yes, I remember it well. I almost don’t need to copy-paste it because I remember it almost word-for-word, but I will do so anyway for the sake of accuracy: “if you like the dark side of things this book is for you.i love the short stories and the poems if you like that odd creepy feeling when your reading.this book will surely do it for you”. This review made me feel really good because this is exactly the sort of reaction I was going for.

5.  Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

My book, TROLL STEW: A STRANGE BREW OF DARK FAIRY TALES & POEMS FOR ADULTS, is a collection of original dark fairy tales and fairy-related poetry. While it isn’t exactly a series, it’s a small taste of things to come. So far the reaction to this very first book of mine has been overwhelmingly positive, so I am excited about releasing my next, even larger collection of dark fairy tales, which I hope will be finished well before the end of this month, since it’s perfect for Halloween, tending more toward the Gothic, with some elements of weird fiction thrown in as well.

6.   Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).

Well, my official website is www.christophercourtley.com and my blog is located at www.courtleymanor.com.

You can get the paperback edition of TROLL STEW here: http://www.amazon.com/Troll-Stew-Strange-Fairy-Adults/dp/148492746X/ and the Kindle edition here: http://www.amazon.com/Troll-Stew-Strange-Adults-ebook/dp/B0091K7HJC/

I also have a sword and sorcery series in the works called The Valruna Saga, which is currently only available from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/8341

For more information on this developing series, you can also visit the official page at http://www.christophercourtley.com/valrunasaga.html

Some additional links you might be interested in are:

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/courtleymanor

My Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/courtleymanor

My Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/christophercourtley

7.   I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

An Excerpt from “The Palace At Winter’s End”, one of the stories included in TROLL STEW: A STRANGE BREW OF DARK FAIRY TALES & POEMS FOR ADULTS:

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That night, for the first time since she had come to the palace, Autumn had a dream.

She was riding through the forest. It was a sunny afternoon, and the leader of the wolf pack was running alongside her and Amani. They were hunting the unicorn.

“We’re close,” said the wolf. “I can smell him.”

Then suddenly their prey darted out from behind a tall thicket. With unnatural speed, Autumn drew her bow and shot an arrow into the unicorn’s neck. The beast stumbled and then fell to the ground, twitching in the agony of its death throes, its blood bright scarlet on the snow.

Autumn dismounted and she and the wolf approached the dying unicorn. As she stooped to examine her fallen prey, Amani came up behind her and neighed loudly.

“What have you done?” the horse said with her own voice.

She turned to Amani, on the point of telling him that she was only doing what her mother had wanted her to, but the words died upon her lips.

For it wasn’t Amani anymore. It was the unicorn, no longer near death, nor even wounded.

Then, with an anguished cry, Autumn realized that the arrow was in her own neck.

She awoke in a cold sweat. It was just before dawn, and she could see through the narrow gap between the drawn drapes the silvery-grey of the twilight.

Turning her face from the window, she tried to go back to sleep, but found that she couldn’t. So she just lay there in the waning darkness, pondering her strange dream. She was still wide awake when her mother brought in her breakfast tray.

“Good morning, daughter,” the queen said cheerily as she placed the tray beside the bed.

“Good morning, Mother.”

“Did you sleep well?”

“Not exactly. I had a terrible dream, and then couldn’t get back to sleep.”

“Would you like to tell me your dream?”

“Perhaps later.”

“Very well. Enjoy your breakfast, my darling.”

The queen drew the drapes aside to let in the light and left the room.

Autumn picked at her breakfast absently, the stark images of the dream still lingering in her mind.

Then, after she had finished eating, she rose and dressed, and headed straight to the library. It was not long before she found what she was looking for; a compendium of legendary creatures she had spied while perusing the books on the night of her arrival at the palace. She turned to the page where there should have been an entry for ‘unicorn’, but to her disappointment, she discovered that it had been torn out. So she closed the book and after carefully returning it to its place on the shelf, went looking for her mother.

She found the queen sitting beside the hearth in the dining room, staring into the fire.

“Mother, tell me about the unicorn.”

“You have seen it for yourself,” the queen replied without taking her eyes from the flames. “What more is there to tell?”

“Why do you hunt it?”

“For sport.”

“No other reason?”

“No. Why?”

“Because I recall having read once, though I can’t remember where, that the unicorn’s horn was once thought to have magical and healing properties.”

“Well, yes. I suppose that it does. But I have no need of such.”

“Well, then, what do you intend to do with the unicorn once you’ve finally killed it?”

“Oh, I will never do that.”

“You mean you don’t wish to kill it?”

“No, I mean that I can not. I will never catch the unicorn.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do.”

“Then why do you hunt it?”

“I believe I have already answered that question. But come, why all these questions concerning the unicorn?” Now at last she looked at her daughter, and silver flames danced with the shadows in her eyes. “Was it him you dreamt of last night?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me your dream.”

Then Autumn related her dream, to which the queen listened attentively, but without any change in her expression. Then, when the girl was done, she said nothing, but turned back toward the fire.

“Well?” asked Autumn with growing impatience. “What does it mean?”

“What do you think it means?”

“I don’t know. I’m asking you. I wish you would just give me a straight answer for once.”

The queen glanced at her daughter’s face again and smiled softly.

“Only you can know for sure what your dream is trying to tell you, my dear. But I will say this: It does contain a grain of truth. As I said, I can never catch the unicorn. But you can.”

“I can? How?”

“You must go deep into the forest alone, and wait for it there. It will come to you.”

“But I don’t want to catch it!”

“That is precisely why you will.”

“I understand now. You want the unicorn, but you can’t get it for yourself, so you think to use me to lure it into a trap! Well, I won’t do it!”

The queen laughed. “Nor would I not want you to. Where would be the sport in that?”

“I don’t get it,” said Autumn. “What’s the point in hunting something if you know you can’t ever catch it?”

“The joy is in the hunt, my girl. There is only one unicorn; if I ever succeeded in slaying it, there would be no more hunt. Whatever would I do with myself then?”

“Well, why would I want to catch it?”

“That is another one of those questions you must answer for yourself, my darling. But I will say this: if you never catch it, you will never know the answer to that question. Such is the way of things.”

***Christopher Courtley is an accomplished author and colleague of mine.  I strongly recommend his book and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!! 🙂

Featured Author: J. Naomi Ay

 Featured Author:   J. Naomi Ay

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  1.  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’m a former CPA and businesswoman, who out of boredom more than 20 years ago, started writing a science fiction/fantasy story purely for my own entertainment.  Mr. Ay and I have two boys one would consider adults although they are still on our medical plan, a daughter who is fourteen and has just started high school, and a Pomeranian.

2.  What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.   

I’m a life long fan of Star Trek and Star Wars and have also enjoyed historical fiction.  The Two Moons of Rehnor has a lot of elements from all that.  In fact, recently a reviewer called it “Game of Thrones meets Star Wars.”  I confess that I’ve never read or watched Game of Thrones but my sons tell me that is a huge compliment.

3.   How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

Well, that’s exactly the issue isn’t it?   We write this amazing treatise and put it out there on Amazon and somehow expect readers to notice it amongst the other 80,000 ebooks which are launched every month.  Unless you’re really lucky, that just doesn’t happen.  So, promotion means constantly working the social media, advertising in the social media and working the local area press and book stores.  It’s hard and horrible for someone who’d rather just sit in front of their computer and bond with Word.

4.   Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

Of course!  As I mentioned early, the Two Moons of Rehnor series evolved over a 20 year time period.  About 1 ½ years ago, I bought an iPad and discovered the whole ebook revolution and KDP.  Here I was sitting with a huge story that was almost ½ million words figuring that nobody would ever read but me.  So, figuring that I could hide under the cloak of anonymity, I bravely put up the first 70k words on Amazon as “The Boy who Lit up the Sky.”  I didn’t tell anyone, not husband, not kids, not friends.  Two days later, someone bought it.  The next day, they returned it.  Oh!  You mean I’ve got to edit it too?  Anyway, long story short, I asked two friends to take a look at it, edit it and tell me what they thought.  They both came back and said, basically, you’ve got something here.  A month later, edited and republished, I got my first review from a stranger.  Here it is:

What a great book READ April 11, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. This book renewed my love of the fantasy genre.I had just finished the “Hunger Trilogy” and feeling a little let down. This book is the opposite. It has everything you want in a book; politics, drama; the unexpected and love. The characters are developed so you feel you have a stake in what happens to them. Just when you wonder what happened to a past character there they are again in the story adding more “flavor” to this stew of intrique. I just finished book 1 and purchased the next 2 just so I can continue uniterrupted. ENJOY.

PS started book 2 last night and stayed up until late just to get to a point I could take a breath. This book promises to be even better than the 1st one.!!!!

5.    Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

Yes, as mentioned, the original Two Moons series was nearly ½ million words which I broke up into Books 1 – 5.  Amazingly, once I called that done, I started receiving letters from fans begging for more.  Now, I’m in the middle of drafting Book 11.  We’re several generations into the characters and the story is taking twists and turns in all sorts of directions.  I’ve also written 9 prequel novelettes which sort of fill in the gaps.  4 of the novelettes have been made into audiobooks and I’m also working with an illustrator to turn the series in graphic novels.  The Two Moons of Rehnor #1, a graphic novel which starts at the beginning of The Boy who Lit up the Sky will be out before Thanksgiving in ebook format.

As far as how the public is reacting, The Boy is probably the most controversial book as there is some graphic scenes of child abuse, implied rape, and a fair amount of profanity.  Some object to this while others tell me it’s mild as I don’t get into any explicit details.  Unfortunately, a lot of people think that because it’s about “a boy” it’s intended for children or teens which is NOT.  It is necessary to show the development of the character though.  That being said, The Boy is still highly rated on Amazon and Goodreads.  The series overall has 152 ratings with a 4.38 avg on Goodreads and on Amazon, every book in the series has a 5 Star average in the US, UK and Germany.  It’s truly amazing to me and heartwarming that the series and especially, the main character, Senya, has garnered so many fans.

6.     Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).  

My links are as follows:

www.jnaomiay.com

www.twomoonsofrehnor.com

www.jnaomiay.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/jnaomiay

The main series is available in ebook and paperback format at all major book resellers.  Here’s the link to Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007B77U8A

7.      I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

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Excerpt from The Boy who Lit up the Sky, Chapter 1, Meri

“What have you got there?” I asked Sister Moon.

“A pot of gold,” she cackled holding up a little purse and shaking it.  It jingled with heavy coins.

“No,” I said reaching for the baby in her arms.  “Who is this?”

“A Karut.”  She easily relinquished him to me.  I peeled back the blanket and looked at the little face.

“Aren’t you pretty?”  I stroked the soft cheek.  “You’re sure he’s a Karut?  He’s so pale.”

“Maybe he’s a half-breed,” she replied, already counting the coins.  “So many good Mishnese girls giving themselves to Karut men after poor Lydia was forced to do it.  I suspect we’ll be getting a lot more just like him.”

“Maybe,” I agreed, stroking the baby’s tuff of silky black hair.  “He’s sweet all the same.  Does he have a name?”

“Senya.”

“Senya,” I repeated.

“Now don’t you go taking special heart to this little rat,” Sister Moon scolded me as she tossed the coins back in the purse.  “The same will happen to him as the rest of them.”

“Maybe he’ll get adopted by a nice family,” I said wistfully.  “Look what long eyelashes he has.”

“Nobody will want a Karut,” she snorted.  “He’ll be here with the rest of the nasties until he runs off and gets himself killed on the street.  Get yourself back to work now.  Put the baby in the baby room and go check the one year olds’ buckets.”

“Yes Ma’am.”  The baby put his little fist in his mouth.  “Can I give him a bottle first?  He’s hungry.”

Sister Moon shrugged.  “Be quick about it.”

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“Thank you, Ma’am.”  I curtseyed and hurried the baby to the baby room where I could get a bottle out of the warmer and sit for a moment before I had to dump all the potty buckets.  Twice daily I had to circle through the one year olds’ room here in the Old Mishnah Orphan Home where twenty babies sat naked in chairs, eating, sleeping and pooping at will.  I spent about two minutes with each of them, wiping them hopefully before they broke out in rash, putting ointment on their rashes and hugging them all for just a moment before I must put them back down and move on to the next.  By the time they graduated on to the two year old room, they were allowed to wear pants and shirts, sleep on cots and eat at small tables.  If they messed their pants for whatever reason, they were sent back to the one year old room for a day which was such a punishment that rarely would they mess again.

The baby room was my favorite place though.  It was quiet and warm in there, and I could sit in a rocker and cuddle as many little bundles as I had time for.  The older ones stood in their cribs and waved to me as I came in.  Some babbled out a few nonsense sounds and some smiled showing me two or four tiny teeth.

“Hello babies,” I called to them.

“Hello Meri,” Sister Lena called back.  She was in a rocker with one of the few little girls we had.  Most of our children were boys.  I didn’t know why they were abandoned more often than girls.  Girls could be put to work, I supposed.  Certainly our girls unless they were rescued before age seven or eight, would be put to work earning their keep.

“Who have you got there?” Lena asked.

“A new one,” I replied, grabbing a bottle and settling down next to her.  “This is Senya.”

“A Karut,” she gasped with surprise.  The baby she was holding stopped sucking and looked at her for a moment.

“Yes, but he’s pretty isn’t he,” I said, offering him the bottle.  He sucked it greedily and patted it with his hand.

“I wonder why the Karuts didn’t take him.”  Lena peered at him through her bottle thick glasses.

“Sister Moon thinks his mum was Mishnese.  Was your mum Mishnese, Senya?” I teased.  The baby smiled with the nipple still in his mouth.

“He says yes.”  I laughed as he sucked fiercely once again.

“He is beautiful,” Lena agreed.  “What color are his eyes?”

“I don’t know.  Open your eyes, baby.  Let me see your pretty eyes.”

The baby opened his eyes as if he understood me, and Blessed Saint, I nearly dropped him.  His eyes were silver, like swirly specks of silver light.

“Blessed Saint,” Lena cried upsetting her baby who howled in protest.

Senya closed his eyes again as if he knew this is what caused us fright.  He finished his bottle and sucked air until I wrestled the bottle from his mouth and held him against my shoulder.

“He is possessed.”  Lena calmed her baby and then quickly put her back in a crib.  “Do you think this is why the Karuts didn’t want him?”

“He’s not possessed,” I insisted, burping my little friend.  “He’s sweet.”  He patted my face with his hand while looking out across my back.

Lena looked at me warily.  “It is strange though.”

“It is,” I agreed.  “But they are kind of beautiful too.”  Surely, if he was possessed, we would know that somehow.  I might have to ask the Father about that, but I hated speaking with the Father.  He always wanted favors, and his breath was bad, and his old skin was wrinkled and made my own skin crawl.

I changed Senya and put him in one of our shirts.  I was about to put socks on his little feet when I was stopped short.

“Lena, can you come here?”

She approached with narrow eyes.  I held up a little foot.  Senya reached for it too.

“Look at his nails,” I said.  “Why are they like this?”   Gingerly, Lena touched them.  She visibly shivered.  Senya played with his toes.  He put one in his mouth and sucked on the long curled nail.

“We should dispose of him,” she said.

“Dispose?” I cried.

“Throw him out in the gutter before …before…”

“Before what?  You mean to kill him?”

“No, no.”  She walked away.  “Maybe send him to the Karuts.  I have a bad feeling about him.”

“Will you tell the Father?”

Lena turned and looked into my eyes.  She nodded slowly.

“Don’t hurt this baby,” I begged.  “Let me take care of him.”

“I have a very bad feeling about him,” she repeated, and her wimple nearly fell off as she shook her head.  “Something is wrong about him.”

“I promise, Sister.  Please let me care for him.  If he turns out to be bad, then I’ll help you get rid of him.  Don’t turn him out now and don’t tell the Father.”

“What will you do for me if I agree?” She asked, lifting her head haughtily.

“What do you want?”

“All the diapers,” she said.  “All the time.”

I looked down at Senya.  He smiled at me, and when he opened his eyes they sparkled.   “Okay,” I agreed, falling in love with this strange little fellow.  “I will do anything to save little Senya.”

I was strange too.  My back was crooked, and my face was scarred.  I was ugly even though I wasn’t always.  Once I was a beautiful young girl who nice boys would ask to dance and nice girls would chat up.  Once I went to school and got high marks in Mishnese and literature and fair marks in math and science.  Then my step-father wanted me, and when I refused he pushed me down the stairs and broke my back.  As I lay crumpled, he set my clothes on fire.  The Saint saved me, and after I was healed, I came here to love other children who no one wanted anymore.

Senya loved me, I thought.  He greeted me every day with a smile.  He didn’t speak.  He didn’t even make noise, but he stood in his crib and waved at me and his silver eyes sparkled.  Everyone else he ignored.  He sat in the corner of his crib sucking his fingers, or lay on his back and played with his strange toes.

The Father came to look at him.  “How much was in the purse?” He asked Sister Moon.  She told him, and we all gasped as it was such a large sum.  It would feed everyone in this house for a year.  “Will there be more?” The Father wondered aloud.

“I think so,” Sister Moon replied.  “For as long as we keep him.”

“Then we will keep him until they want him back,” the Father declared.  The next week, the Father had a new speeder.  It was shiny and red with rich leather and polished wood inside.  It looked very expensive.  He wanted me to sit in it with him.  He wanted me to pleasure him while he drove it around.  I did because he was the Father and I was so ugly no other man would want me.  If he threw me out on the street, I would have nowhere to go and be forced to pleasure other men who were worse than him.  This is what he told me when his leavings were in my mouth, and I wished to spit them out on the fine carpet of his new speeder.

When I came back to the orphanage, I went to the baby room and found Senya crying.  He sobbed silently, his little body heaving but making no sound.  There was a red welt across his back.  “Who did this?” I demanded of Sister Lena.

“Sister Moon,” she said.  “Sister Moon says he is destroying too many socks and wasting our precious cloth.  She says he is to have cold feet all winter.  He shall have no more socks.”

“But why did she hit him?” I asked, picking him up and holding him tight until he stopped crying.  He put his hand on my face and nuzzled my neck.

“He looked at her with his wicked eyes and she said she felt dizzy because of it and nearly fell down.  He is possessed she says, but the Father says he must stay here so we cannot throw him out in the gutter.”

I wondered if I could take Senya and run away.  I would have to pleasure anyone who would give me money, and how many would want one as ugly as me?  I would have liked a real job.  Once I knew how to type and could speak well and answer a vid and perhaps put together things with my hands.  There were no jobs like that anymore.  There were no jobs for anyone because Mishnah was broke.  There were only jobs for men who joined the guards and women who worked as maids in the Palace.  I could not do that because I was a woman with a broken back and burned face.

It was a cold winter, and there was not much food.  The money from the purse had been spent on the Father’s new speeder and his fine clothes and jewelry.  The children cried because they were hungry and cold, and the old radiators spat and hissed, but little warmth came from them.  Senya’s little feet were always cold, and when I was with him I wrapped them in rags, but someone else always took them off.  Senya sat in his crib and held the bottle himself.  He was getting big, and his face was taking shape.

“He looks more and more like a Karut,” Lena said beside me.  “He looks like Prince Sorkan.”

“He does,” I agreed, admiring his handsome little face.  “But pale.”

“Maybe he’ll get darker over time,” Lena thought.  “Did you give him this bottle?  It’s not time for him to eat.”  She took it away.  Senya opened his mouth to protest.

“I didn’t,” I said.  “He was already drinking it when I came here.”

“Well I wonder how he got it then,” Lena frowned and just as she did so, the bottle went flying out of her hand and back into Senya’s.

Lena and I both screamed.

Senya popped the bottle back in his mouth and gave us a big smile.

“How did he do that?” Lena whispered, her eyes giant saucers.

“I don’t know,” I whispered back.  “Do you think that’s how he got the bottle from the warmer?”  We both looked at the warmer as if it could speak to us.  Lena turned back and snatched the bottle out of Senya’s grasp again.  He opened his mouth in a silent howl.  Lena ran across the room and put it on the warmer table.

“You want it, Senya?” She challenged.  “Then take it.”

Senya pulled himself up by the bars on his crib and held out his little hands.  The bottle flew across the room right into them.  He fell back on his bottom and sucked triumphantly.

“Don’t say a word of this to anyone,” I begged Lena.

“Blessed Saint,” Lena collapsed in a chair.  “What is he?”

“Please Lena, please!  I’ll do anything.  Don’t let them throw him out on the street!”  I was on my knees before her.

“Okay,” she said, narrowing her eyes and smiling wickedly.  “Forever and ever you will be doing the diapers, Meri.”

“I will, I will,” I promised.

Senya laughed.  It was the first noise we had heard from him.  I ran to him and gathered him in my arms.

“You little devil,” I cried, and he laughed some more.

“Mayhap, he really is,” Lena snorted and walked away.

We lost four babies from the baby room including our one little girl.  There was a fever going around, and the diapers were endless and messy.  Our one year olds and two year olds were sick too, and I was forever dumping buckets filled with loose and foul smelling stools.  Our two year olds were messing their pants, but we did not punish them because several of them had died, as well.  Our building was cold, and the snow and frost outside made it impossible to open the windows and bring in fresh air.  The children burned with fever and then shook with chills.  I wrapped and rewrapped as many as I could, but there were not enough of us Sainted Ladies here to take care of them.  There was sickness in the city, and bodies lay in the gutters where ever you walked.  Our dead children joined them waiting for the coroner’s van to collect them.

* I’d like to thank J. Naomi Ay.  She is a wonderful author and colleague.  I would personally recommend her book (s).   Thank you for allowing me to interview you.

Featured Author: James DiBenedetto

Featured Author:   James DiBenedetto

James D

  1.  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’m a pretty average guy (at least, I think so).  I’m originally from Yonkers, NY (literally on the street that bordered New York City – walk 10 feet and I’m in the Bronx), and I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area for 17 years or so.  I came here for graduate school and just stayed afterwards.

I work in fundraising/marketing during the day (someone has to do it!), and I write my novels by night.

I’m married to a wonderful woman who’s also working on a novel of her own, and we’re both well-trained by our tortoise-shell cat who runs the household.

2.   What made you decide to write a paranormal romance?  Were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.  

That’s  just the story that came to me.  I had an idea about someone with the ability to step into other people’s dreams, and the book grew from that.

The stories in the Dream Series are in no way whatsoever based on real events, but some of the incidental characters are modeled on real people to fill out the world.  And the books are set in the “real world” so real-life events are mentioned (the book I’m working on now, #6 in the series, takes place in October, 2001, so the events of 9/11 come up in the course of the book, for example).

3.    How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

Incredibly difficult!  I’m not a natural self-promoter, and there’s just so much to learn.  And, on top of that, it seems as though the world of indie publishing and marketing changes daily.  Techniques and websites that were effective even a couple of months ago stop working, and you have to find new approaches constantly.  And NOBODY really knows the rules, as far as I can tell.

I’ve been doing everything I can think of – blog tours, FB, word of mouth, paid advertising, recording the books as audiobooks, etc.

4    Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

Oh, yes.  Nearly all the reviews for the series have been very positive. The review from the Paranormal Romance Guild, as a professional-type organization with “real” reviewers, was especially exciting.  It wasn’t a complete rave, but just the fact that the book compared favorably to other works, and that I could put it next to anybody else’s books and not be ashamed, was a huge lift for me.

5.    Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

There are five books so far in the Dream Series.  They all follow Sara, who we first meet in college in the winter of 1989/90.  She’s pretty ordinary, until she starts having dreams that aren’t hers.  She realizes pretty quickly what’s going on, that she actually is stepping into the dreams of other people, and that causes major problems for her, because one of the dreamers she’s seeing might be a serial killer.

As the series goes on, she has to try and figure out who wants to poison the least popular teacher in her medical school; she discovers that her daughter has inherited her “gift” and she needs to figure out how to help a 4-year-old girl cope with these strange dreams, and she finally meets someone outside her family who can do what she does, but who’s using their talent for evil rather than good.

I’ve gotten excellent response from the public; I’ve sold nearly 1,400 copies of the five books, and gotten almost uniformly positive reviews.

6.    Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).

Well, the first book is set where I went to college – www.case.edu

I’m a huge opera lover, and I go regularly to the Kennedy Center here in DC – www.kennedy-center.org

My favorite author is Stephen r. Donaldson – www.stephenrdonaldson.com

My website is www.writingdreams.net, and my books are on my Amazon author page – www.amazon.com/author/jjdibenedetto

The narrator for my audiobooks is just amazing.  Her site is http://www.heatherjanehogan.com

7.     I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

Dream Student Cover

OK, here’s an excerpt from the first book, “Dream Student”.  Sara has just told her best brined and her boyfriend about a series of dreams she’s had, and they’re discussing things over dinner:

Another thought goes through my mind just now, and it throws me off track.  “If I’ve got a power, right?  I’m psychic, or whatever you want to call this, right?  Well, where’s my wise mentor?  In every story I can think of, people who suddenly find they have a special power or something always have one.  King Arthur had Merlin.  Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan. The Scottish guy in that stupid movie Ron likes, where they’re all cutting each other’s heads off…”

“Connor MacLeod,” Brian pipes in.  “And the movie is ‘Highlander.’”

Beth snorts.  “All you guys like that movie.  I’ll never understand it.”

“Anyway,” I say, trying to get back on track.  “Connor whatever, he had Sean Connery to mentor him, right?  So where’s the old wise master to tell me how to deal with all this?”  Brian’s amused by the thought, but Beth has a different reaction.

“I’d let Sean Connery tell me what to do,” she sighs.  “Anytime.”

So would I, although not that way.  He’s old enough to be my grandfather, after all.  Besides, I’m taken!  And I will definitely have to tell Brian that that was my first thought, once we’re alone of course.  But I definitely wouldn’t say no to Sean Connery’s advice.  I bet he’d know exactly what to do about the nightmares.

Chapter One of “Lori’s Song” & Info on Book Fair!

 

 

You can now read the foreword and Chapter One free on Amazon of my book, “Lori’s Song”.  My true story of being held captive in Iran during 911.

http://www.amazon.com/Loris-Song-story-American-captive/dp/1432738291/ref=tmm_pap_title_0/178-1706669-7918157#reader_B002JM0F1Q

BOOK EXCERPT/BLURB:

Though she endured a childhood of physical and sexual abuse, nothing would ever equal what happened to her in Iran the weeks following 9/11.

Lori, an American married to an Iranian, had been working and living as an ordinary member of Iranian society for almost 4 years when she had heard rumors that the U.S. was going to be attacked. That was on September 9, 2001. She tried and failed to call home and give warning.

The news that all those rumors were horribly true came on September 11th 2001. That was when her husband suddenly announced that they had to go back to the States in case there were repercussions.

On September 12, 2001, Lori and her husband were at the Shiraz bus terminal intending to catch a bus to Istanbul and from there to Heathrow and home to the U.S.A. They were totally unprepared for the convoy of troop carriers that suddenly drove up and the armed men who came pouring out to take the hapless couple prisoner.

There was no explanation offered. The men took Lori’s husband one direction and she another, pushing them blindfolded into the back of the troop carriers with other prisoners, mostly Iranian.

Who the armed men were was anybody’s guess but they took their prisoners to POW camp in unfamiliar territory and there, Lori was held, tortured, raped, and starved with them for over a month. Her husband was not to be seen again.

Lori was rescued with one of her fellow inmates by the girl’s family and, after riding a llama for 1-2 days over mountainous terrain; she arrived at the Iran Immigration center. By then, she weighed in at only 70 pounds, was still suffering from the many injuries she’d received at the hands of her torturers, and wanted badly to get home to her family in the USA. Even then, she had to fight Iranian Islamic bureaucracy to have permission to go, as the husband was unavailable to grant it. In any Islamic country, unknown to many western women, the husband or guardian’s permission is always required for a woman to travel anywhere.

Lori had been married to Mohammad for 9 years and thought she could trust him but, since their arrival in Iran in 1998, his personality and behavior had changed so radically as to make this most recent nightmare highly suspicious.

The events told here are true. It was no coincidence that this American citizen had been placed into a concentration camp. In fact, it raises many questions and should be a caution to many!

There is also a virtual book fair this Friday & Saturday.  You can view new books and learn about authors or even join if your an author. Visit the blog:

http://samplesaturday.blogspot.com/

View the site:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/169126186575183/

If you have any questions email Tammie Gibbs tammiegibbs@yahoo.com

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!!!

Dedication to a friend and fellow author, Sandra McLeod Humphrey.

To a friend of mine that recently died in a house fire along with her husband, may they RIP, and God Bless them both.
             Sandra McLeod Humphrey– who was the author of several childrens books.   Sandra,   you will be truly missed by so many. Sometimes in life we meet people that we never get to experience what that person was all about, but theres something inside you that says this person is special and worth knowing. I believe you were that person for me. I feel like I’m cheated but it was that age old adage I always said to myself I will get to know this person better when I get time, or I will peruse her books when I get time, of course we never let ourselves have that time. We always seem so caught up in things that truly are meaningless and not worthy of our time like a possible good friend could have been.
I will miss you and the woman I didn’t get to know will be missed more because she truly was  a great person, and your reputation spoke to the type of individual you were.
and it wasn’t just my loss it was a loss for the literary world.  She had sent me an autographed copy of her book “They stood ALONE 25 mena and women who made a difference”  I suggest anyone who loves to hear about heroes and pioneers  read this book.  Sandra was prolific with childrens books, but this was a winner no matter what age group.  http://www.amazon.com/They-Stood-Alone-Women-Difference/dp/1616144858/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354223184&sr=1-1&keywords=they+stood+alone+25+men+and+women+who+made+a+difference
Thank you Sandra you left behind so many “GREAT” books to teach and entertain children, and after all educating our youth makes you a Perennial being!
Lori Foroozandeh   fellow author and friend.