JeanBookNerd Storytellers BOX

Let your adventure begin...

Laurie Forest

THE SHADOW WAND Official Nerd Blast

Sean Penn


Alma Alexander

THE SECOND STAR Official Blog Tour

Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory

Bethany C. Morrow

A SONG BELOW WATER Official Blog Tour

William L. Myers Jr.


Colleen Houck

TERRAFORMER Official Blog Tour

E.E. KNight


Laura Hankin


Gregg Olsen


Josh Duhamel


Lauren Shippen

A NEON DARKNESS Offcial Blog Tour

Robert McCaw


Todd Hasak-Lowy

WE ARE POWER Official Nerd Blast

Maggie Brookes


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Netflix: The Old Guard Trailer - Charlize Theron

Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (KiKi Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (LOVE & BASKETBALL, BEYOND THE LIGHTS), THE OLD GUARD is a gritty, grounded, action-packed story that shows living forever is harder than it looks.

Film Release Date: July 10, 2020
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Screenplay By: Greg Rucka
Based on the Graphic Novel Series By: Greg Rucka and Illustrated by Leandro Fernandez
Produced By: David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Charlize Theron, AJ Dix, Beth Kono, Marc Evans

Cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo, with Matthias Schoenaerts and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Netflix is the world's leading internet entertainment service with 158 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without adverts or commitments.
jbnfilms, jbnspotlights

Friday, June 5, 2020

|Podcast| We Are Power - Todd Hasak-Lowy

Photo Content from Todd Hasak-Lowy

I started writing fiction for adults, but now I write for younger readers, too. I've published two books for adults: a short story collection, THE TASK OF THIS TRANSLATOR (2005), and the novel CAPTIVES (2008). My first book for your younger readers, a middle grade novel called 33 MINUTES, was published in 2013. In 2015 I published a young adult novel, ME BEING ME IS EXACTLY AS INSANE AS YOU BEING YOU. That same year, a narrative memoir for ages 10 and up that I co-wrote with and about Holocaust survivor Michael Gruenbaum called SOMEWHERE THERE IS STILL A SUN came out. In early 2018 a young person's history of the women's suffrage movement, ROSES & RADICALS, which I co-wrote with Susan Zimet, was published. My latest book, WE ARE POWER: HOW NONVIOLENT ACTIVISM CHANGES THE WORLD, is coming out in April, 2020. In addition to writing, I teach literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and translate Hebrew literature into English. I live in Evanst

JBN Podcast   JBN Podcast
"Hasak-Lowy's writing gives life to both the people and issues involved, taking time to explain historical backgrounds and the ways the lessons from one movement affected future ones." —Booklist

"Highly recommended for its outstanding treatment of the history of social justice. A good resource for student activists." —School Library Journal

"There has never been a time when a book is more relevant than this one." —School Library Connection

“A striking and very timely conclusion highlights teenage Greta Thunberg’s bold challenge to fight global climate change.” —Publishers Weekly

"This excellent, timely overview will open eyes and deserves a wide readership." —Kirkus

". . .Readers will gain new appreciation for how nonviolent methods, often inspired by other movements for justice, led to victories." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

A stirring look at nonviolent activism, from American suffragists to Civil Rights to the Climate Change Movement

We Are Power brings to light the incredible individuals who have used nonviolent activism to change the world. The book explores questions such as what is nonviolent resistance and how does it work? In an age when armies are stronger than ever before, when guns seem to be everywhere, how can people confront their adversaries without resorting to violence themselves? Through key international movements as well as people such as Gandhi, Alice Paul, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Václav Havel, this book discusses the components of nonviolent resistance. It answers the question “Why nonviolence?” by showing how nonviolent movements have succeeded again and again in a variety of ways, in all sorts of places, and always in the face of overwhelming odds. The book includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.


Praise for WE ARE POWER

"Nonviolence may have been the greatest invention of the twentieth century, more important than nuclear fission or genetic coding. It offers us the chance to build a working twenty-first century, and since young people will have to lead that fight, this book is a crucial gift!" —Bill McKibben, climate activist and author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

"I'm so glad this book exists! From the opening pages where we meet Gandhi, to the closing with Greta Thunburg, and in between with Alice Paul, Martin Luther King, Vaclav Havel, Ceasar Chavez, and others, it is beautifully written, informative, and so moving. Readers young and older will be inspired to rise up peacefully, to act, to change the world--to save the world." —Deborah Heiligman, author of Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of 'The Children'
jbnlatestinterviews, jbnpodcast, 

Storytellers BOX - The Mystery Collection

"In a world where everyone is over exposed, the greatest thing you can do is maintain your mystery."

The Mystery Collection Storytellers BOX is currently available through our Subscription Service. Want more? Take advantage of our 3-Month and 6-Month subscriptions and a new adventure will be delivered every month.

The Mystery Collection is available to new and existing Subscribers.

Stories make our everyday life that much more interesting. The JeanBookNerd Storytellers BOX has been fostered to bring forth the magic of Storytelling.

Whether it be a book, film, television show, or any form of storytelling art, our Storytellers BOX will guide you to your next story adventure.

The JeanBookNerd Storytellers BOX is issued each month. We offer monthly subscriptions/non subscription to ensure your adventure is nonstop. Can’t get enough? Take advantage of our 3 and 6 month plans. We are now offering book only monthly subscription.

Each month will feature a new adventure that will be delivered to your door.

GIVEAWAY - $50 Storytellers BOX Shop and a BOX of your choice.
7 Book titles to choose from for the Vintage Collection Storytellers BOX. This Special Edition BOX will run for the months of June 1, 2020 - July 15th, 2020

A WICKED SNOW by Gregg Olsen
LARK'S LABYRINTH by Cathy Cash Spellman
THE NIGHT BEFORE by Wendy Walker
THE SECRET BROKERS by Alexandrea Weis
PREACHER SAM by Cassondra Windwalker

CLICK HERE! to learn more and start your subscription today!
The month of January 2020 are a special Vintage Collection JeanBookNerd Storytellers BOX. We have collected a list of 11 adventures from a group of amazing storytellers. Subscribe today and start your very own Storytellers BOX adventure.

The JeanBookNerd Storytellers BOX is your ticket to a great adventure each and every month. We are working with incredible storytellers to curating a box that will compliment your next story adventure.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Thomas O'Callaghan Author Interview

Photo Content from Thomas O'Callaghan

Thomas O'Callaghan's work has been translated for publication in Germany, Slovakia, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, China, and Italy. As an internationally acclaimed author, Mr. O'Callaghan is a member of both the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers associations. A native of New York City and a graduate of Richmond College, Mr. O'Callaghan resides with his lovely wife, Eileen, a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean in beautiful Belle Harbor, New York. His debut novel, BONE THIEF, republished by WildBlue Press on April 28, 2020, introduces NYPD Homicide Commander Lieutenant John W. Driscoll. THE SCREAMING ROOM, the second in the John Driscoll series, was republished by WildBlue Press on May 5, 2020. The third book in the series, NO ONE WILL HEAR YOUR SCREAMS, was released by WildBlue Press on May 9, 2020.


What inspired you to write No One Will Hear Your Screams?
I was inspired to write No One Will Hear Your Screams as the third book in the ongoing NYPD Lieutenant John Driscoll series. Books #1 and #2 were well received here in the United States as well as in Germany, Slovakia, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, China, and Italy.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I’d have to credit authors like Michael Connelly, Thomas Harris, and Jeffery Deaver who I consider masters in the field of intrigue. I believe my individual “voice” was influenced by their skills at writing novels that captivated an audience hungry for fast paced thrillers.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My most rewarding experience has been to have the rights to my first novel, BONE THIEF, which introduces Lieutenant John Driscoll, been bid on by a number of publishers in Germany. Goldmann-Verlag eventually published the book. Not bad for a debut novel!

Can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about No One Will Hear Your Screams?
The novel follows the onslaught of a series of heinous bloodletting killings perpetrated by a crazed embalmer, who, as a young boy was sexually abused by his mother and her lover. In dogged pursuit of this psycho-on-a-mission is NYPD’s top cop, Homicide Commander Lieutenant John W. Driscoll, whose own childhood still stirs memories that haunt him.

What part of Lt. John W. Driscoll did you enjoy writing the most?

I’d have to say I enjoyed writing his back story the most. Here’s a gentle soul who, when first introduced, is grieving the loss of his teen-aged daughter killed by a drunk driver. That same collision sent his loving wife into a six year coma from which he knows she’ll never recover.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Tilden, my crazed killer in NO ONE WILL HEAR YOUR SCREAMS, to Hannibal Lecter. It would be a writer’s tip of the hat to Thomas Harrris who authored SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Though I’m sure Doctor Lecter could have offered Tilden advice on how not to be captured. That’s not to suggest Tilden has been captured. One would need to read my book to find out. ☺

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Write a book. It needn’t ever be published. In fact, it needn’t ever be read! The genre isn’t important, nor is the word count. Consider it a journal, of sorts. I believe the act of writing is an outlet where an individual can express joy, frustration, grief, sorrow, and every other emotion prevalent to the human condition.

What event in your life would make a good movie?

An ongoing event, that being my thirty-eight year marriage to the lovely Eileen, would make a good movie. Figure in our struggles through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy which flooded our home with seven feet of standing water and our current circumstance of living in lockdown fashion in NYC, the epicenter of the corona virus. Thank goodness I have my world of fiction as an escape with my wife, an excellent co-collaborator of sorts, by my side.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?

My best memory was of the time I was invited to sit on a panel of writers at ThrillerFest in NYC. The theme was ‘Medicine and Madness”. There were five authors on the panel. All thriller writers. Four of them held a degree in medicine. One didn’t. While my fellow scribes spoke of the medical side of police investigations it was up to me to speak of madness. Since my villains are raving lunatics, it was an easy task.

Where can readers find you?
My books are featured on Amazon as well as on and at Barnes & Noble. There are links on my WEBSITE for each book.

1) She attempted to move. But couldn’t. Her head was restrained. As were her wrists and ankles. Something smooth, she thought. And strong. Cloth? “Oh, my God! It’s rope!”

2) Willows, visible through the aperture of the grave, swayed against a cloudless sky, deaf to her howling. Indifferent to her plight.

3) John Driscoll was an ‘everyman’, of sorts, whose heart had been shaped by the happenings of his present and the hauntings of his past.

4) Driscoll, at 6’2, exhibited a forceful and intimidating stride. There was a swagger to his walk, not unlike that of Gary Cooper in High Noon. Women found the blue-eyed Irishman charming but his heart belonged to fashion consultant, Colette.

5) The medical examiner produced a transparent evidence bag containing a locket. It was an inch in diameter and featured Saint Vitalis of Gaza; his name etched in a half circle below his likeness. “I found it under her tongue. Someone apparently placed it there before suturing the tongue to the floor of her mouth,” he told Driscoll.

6) “I recommend Saint Paul’s letters to the Corinthians,” she said. “They can be very helpful to those who wait.” “And for those who don’t?” “Everyone waits,” she said with a smile before disappearing from sight.

7) After taking his time slipping into a pair of jeans, he reached for his Grateful Dead tee shirt, the quintessential casual attire for an embalmer.

8) The scream reverberated through the ICU unit on the Sixth Floor. The night nurse sprang to her feet and rushed to Room 608. She turned on the fluorescent lights flooding the space with a milky white luminescence. Tilden’s awakening from his sedated sleep had been abrupt. Consciousness, which had been up until now muddled, suddenly emerged.

9) Loretta’s attention was drawn to the customer seated at the counter eating his breakfast. He’d only been in a few times, but was a hard guy to forget. Batty as hell. A recluse, she’d been told. Word was he belonged to some religious cult, but his plaid shirt and frayed jeans didn’t point to any particular denomination. He seemed harmless enough, but had peculiarities. The fact that he waddled was one of them.

10) The sight of the impaled corpse above the reservoir with outstretched arms reminded Driscoll of the towering stone statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro from atop Mount Corcovado. It filled him with eeriness, an almost mystical emotion he hadn’t experienced in a very long time. The altar boy inside him had been stirred.

Is there a sociopathic killer on the loose and murdering prostitutes in New York City? NYPD’s top cop, Homicide Commander Lieutenant John Driscoll, believes there is. Someone who calls himself “Tilden” and claims to have been sexually abused as a child by his mother’s john. But what could have triggered Tilden’s rage that has him on a mission to eradicate all the women of the night in The Big Apple?


"A fast-paced and compelling read. O'Callaghan depicts a serial killer like no other. Imagine Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, and Bible John, fused into one heinous beast. Not all serial killers are the same. Tilden, the evil antihero of this inflammable tale, is compelled by urges that wreak havoc on his human targets. Obsessed by a macabre plan, he implements his sordid designs on the bodies of his multiple victims. He baffles and disorients the forces of law and order- except for Lieutenant Driscoll, whose fervent imagination knows no bounds and whose understanding of evil makes him the prime investigator in this aberrant case. Read this novel, and be haunted!" 
Anne K. Howard, 2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD and 2018 LITERARY EXCELLENCE PENCRAFT AWARD winning author of HIS GARDEN: Conversations With A Serial Killer

"Worth the wait! O'Callaghan is back with a vengeance and this time he delivers a complex but nuanced thriller that grabs you by the throat and never let's go. And that, by the way, is a very good thing." Gregg Olsen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of WATER'S EDGE

"No One Will Hear Your Screams is a gritty crime thriller of the highest order. Thomas O'Callaghan has woven a superb neo-noir, carved from the fabric of the likes of Michael Connelly and James Elroy with just enough Don Winslow mixed in for good measure. Bracing when it needs to be, bold when it wants to be and blistering from beginning to end, No One Will Hear Your Screams is sure to leave you screaming for more." Jon Land, USA Today Bestselling Author of the eleven book Caitlin Strong series

"Thomas O'Callaghan's No One Will Hear Your Screams, features NYPD homicide lieutenant John Driscoll, a man fighting his own demons, on the trail of a diabolical killer who's unleashed a murderous rampage on the city. Not for the faint of heart, No One Will Hear Your Screams, is coldly graphic in its depiction of the grisly acts of a depraved killer, yet compassionate in its portrayal of the human heart at war with itself in the pursuit of justice." Con Lehane, author of six mystery novels, his latest being MURDER OFF THE PAGE

"A first class crime thriller: a fast moving story that never deviates from its goal: find the killer, stop the killing, save the lives of very vulnerable women." Pat Mullan, Ireland's Chair of The International Thriller Writer's Association and author of A DEADLY GAMBLE

"Thomas O'Callaghan has created a dark, compelling novel filledwith thrills, kills, twists and turns that feel so real you'll be scared to readit alone. Police procedurals don't get much better than this. I highly recommendedit." Alex Shaw, #1 International Kindle Bestselling author of the Aidan Snow, SAS thriller series.

You can purchase No One Will Hear Your Screams at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of No One Will Hear Your Screams 
(John Driscoll Mystery) by Thomas O'Callaghan.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Darlene Green Author Interview

Photo Content from Darlene Green

Highly sensitive, an empath, healer, teacher and scribe, Darlene Green has followed her heart's direction in discovery of the sacred. What started as a personal journey ignited by profound events Dec. 2017 has become the extensive work of In Service to Love.

In collaboration with Masters of the Council of Light, what has unfolded is a frequency rich, guided pathway and new paradigm to enlightenment.

“The sense of mission has been the background of my life.” Highly sensitive, an empath, healer, teacher Darlene has pursued work and studies that would delve deeper into the extraordinary expression that has always beckoned her into the discovery of the sacred in life.

“There are defining moments that forever alter our trajectory. In facing circumstances that call into question what I thought I knew of myself, the space opened for events beyond what I thought possible. The miraculous as a daily reality.” Following trauma from a car accident early in 2017, a deep internal process of healing began. Profound spiritual events of Dec. 26, 2017 signaled a new expression. And the divine collaboration of In Service to Love began.

This work answers the question, “What becomes possible when we live from our soul’s vision?”


What inspired you to write In Service to Love Book 1: Love Remembered?
In Service to Love began on December 26, 2017 with a profoundly exquisite, and sacred experience. Surrounded by Love, in the brilliant presence of Jesus, the Elohim and Masters in light, I was invited into a collaboration. The offer was to sit with them daily for one year as a Scribe. I could sense the magnitude of this event and had no idea of what was to come. A deep sense of purpose has always lived in the background of my life and was the fuel for my spiritual quest. I recognized the events of December 26 as the answer I had always sought, and I said yes. As I was writing, I could see myself sitting under ancient olive trees listening to the Masters teach.

Who or what has influenced your writing and in what way?
The influence for writing is my own inner guidance. My natural deep sensitivities and empathic nature led me on a spiritual journey that began over thirty years ago. It wasn’t until 2015 while visiting sacred sites in Southern France I experienced the revelation of my own scribing heritage. Until then, I had never considered myself as a writer. I was euphoric with the deep resonance of my discovery and I began practicing. As I sit at my computer and become still, I move into the field of silence and listen for the words that arise in my awareness. Distinct from automatic writing, I engage with the Council of Light and participate not only as Scribe, but as student and member of the Council.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Holding the hard copy of In Service to Love Book 1: Love Remembered in my hands for the first time brought me to tears. This was the manifestation of a sacred promise kept. My writing with the Council of Light continues. There are more books requesting to be written.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your books?
I hope the reader considers the invitation that is available for them in this work. This is not just reading about my journey it is also an invitation for the reader to experience their own unique discoveries.

If the reader is searching for their own purpose, clarity and direction, In Service to Love shines the light on new concepts, offering an empowering shift in perspective.

Through their own resonant knowing the reader will be guided to their next level of awareness. When our human nature is honored and integrated with the light of our divine nature, we experience our own wholeness. Beyond the illusion of limitation, we may live from the voice of our soul. Isn’t that why we are here in the first place?

What part of your story did you enjoy writing the most?
Every day was a unique experience of message and frequency, enveloped in Love, compassion, honor, and humor. Every day I was surprised and delighted.

What according to you is your most treasured possession?
I have a set of three Robert Davidson prints in my home. He is a Canadian, first nation artist. They were a gift to my parents many years ago. They are beautiful and represent our sacred journey on the Earth. I am gifted by them every day.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life where would you go?
From age ten to sixteen our family lived in Vancouver, B.C. It is a beautiful city. It was a great place to grow up. With plenty of beaches and parks there was no shortage of fun to be had. Sunday mornings at the beach playing hopscotch in the sand was the best. We had a lot of family close by, so I felt held in the community of family. Vancouver still steals my heart. I would tell the young, sensitive Darlene to learn to trust her own knowing.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
The events that were at the onset of my spiritual journey showed me unequivocally that the physical world I saw was not the whole picture. I worked in the marketing department of a large insurance company. I had already been entertained by seeing auras around my coworkers while I was in sales meetings, but the day the walls at work disappeared was a whole new level of shock. I decided I needed to learn to meditate. About a week after my meditation instruction, I was having increasing experiences beyond my comprehension. I started seeing angels. I heard choirs of angels and experienced the music of the heavens. Jesus was always an assuring presence. My ability to see and hear expanded exponentially. Archangel Gabriel and Archangel Michael walked into my living room one day introducing themselves. My human nature was challenged by these events and at the same time I felt comfort that somehow, I was on the right track. Concurrent with these events, life happens. I was working, and our children were in high school. It’s rough to be a teenager with a mom that knows everything.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
The day In Service to Love began on December 26, 21017 was one in a lifetime. It is a divine gift that still reverberates through my being.

1. Day 7: As you move unhindered to the Now moment, beyond habit and restriction of your thinking, a new door opens. Yet to be defined by your expectation, experience and limitation, the blank canvas of your being offers you the gift of seeing newly.

2. Day 12: What if your choices are the access to your higher level of consciousness? What if choices are also your limitations? What if your choices can shut down the expansiveness of possibility? What if your level of consciousness governs what is possible within your realm of choice?

3. Day 14: As you engage your full presence in the Now, you activate action as opposed to passivity. Your full presence is empowered with access to potential, awaiting direction for creation. As you participate on the field of your life, instead of sitting in the bleachers, your perspective takes on a whole new level of activity.

4. Day 34: Your still point is not a space of lack of action; it is the access to your inner light and knowing. Rather than viewing stillness as an end, consider the possibility of stillness as a portal to your highest expression.

5. Day 50: Like an open-ended question, the affirmations of your day allow space for creation in the moment. The door is open to inspiration as you drop the limitations of unconsciousness. The affirmations at the start of your day are immensely powerful. They immediately move you off autopilot.

6. Day 68: Whatever thoughts you have, know that they are creating. Consider fine-tuning the ability to focus your thoughts in the direction you choose. Choosing the thoughts that are high frequency and that are in alignment with the highest expression of you will also bring into your awareness the thoughts that are not that. So, when thoughts that are not in alignment with your highest frequency come into your mind, you may ask, “AM I being a contribution in this moment?” “Is my energy at this moment expanding or contracting?” In asking the question, the answer will arise. Then you may declare, “I choose to reframe my perspective.”

7. Day 77:
Inspiration on its own is a beautiful moment.
Inspiration with action is transformation.

8. Day 85: The divine nectar of the light you hold amplifies all of you. Like eating the highest value of nutrition possible that accelerates your well-being exponentially, the light you are incorporating into your experience is manna for your highest expression. The result is an experience of not just surviving but thriving on all levels. The frequency of light you are incorporating into your awareness is the equivalent of jet fuel for your growth. All aspects of your being are elevated: body, mind, and spirit.

9. Day 101: Once the hard edges and borders are removed, what becomes possible is the conscious experience of the infinite flow of your full expression. The alignment with the divine design of you resonates. The experience is of movement toward Love, peace, joy, fulfillment, compassion, abundance, and awareness of your soul’s vision. Rich, in every sense of the word.

10. Day 119: Who must you be to be both student and teacher? Who must you be, to elevate each environment you step into? Who must you be to have the ear of divine Masters? Who must you be to call forth Stargates? Who must you be to feel the clay of creation? Who must you be to follow the siren song of your soul?

We don’t take anything you do in light or in form lightly. We see you, the divine creator, creating. As you disentangle from the way it used to be, you move in the realm that always has been.

In Service to Love offers a pathway for shifting your awareness from the de-stabilizing chaos of the external world to the ever-present, potent, multi-dimensional, innovative expression of Love that is your authentic nature. When it is time for you to discover your own purpose and truth, In Service to Love offers a modern day mystery school that elevates your conscious awareness, catalyzing transformation and ultimately enlightenment. Revealed through daily messages, scribed by Darlene Green from the Masters that comprise the Council of Light, you experience your own unique, exquisite process of enlightenment. Each day’s message holds rich frequency. Simple foundational concepts, exercises, meditations, light infusions and activations guide your experience, allowing your own resonance to reveal truth.

Enlightenment is not a privilege to be earned, it is who you are at your essence. The process of enlightenment uncovers what gets in the way of your greatest expression. With each step made on your unique journey, the experience of your life here and now is enhanced. The work of In Service to Love masterfully aligns your awareness to your divine nature so you may hear the voice of your soul and create your best life possible.

You can purchase In Service to Love at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DARLENE GREEN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of In Service to Love Book 1: Love Remembered by Darlene Green.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Tracy Richardson Author Interview

Photo Content from Tracy Richardson

TRACY RICHARDSON wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way that book has even shaped her life through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in biology like Mrs. Murry, and, without realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg’s parents.

Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environmental issues, metaphysics, and science fiction. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her doing any number of creative activities — painting furniture, knitting sweaters, or cooking something. She lives in Indianapolis, and, in case you’re wondering, yes, she’s been to the Indianapolis 500.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
When my children started reading, I revisited books that I loved as a child and I started getting ideas for stories of my own. I feel strongly about protecting the environment and my first novel, Indian Summer, which will be re-released as a prequel to The Field and Catalyst, is loosely based on real life events. It’s set on a fictionalized version of a lake in northern Indiana where my family had property. A wealthy property owner was paying to move a road and create a bike path ostensibly for the good of the community, but I felt like it benefited them by moving the road away from their house and essentially giving them a huge front yard and buffer space. It was less about public good and more about personal gain. I took creative license and morphed it into protecting an old growth forest from development. A lot of the atmosphere for Indian Summer came from actual experiences at our lake property.

Tell us your latest news.
I guess my most exciting news is that Catalyst comes out in Ebook version on June 2nd and print in September! I have a Blog Tour starting at the end of May with over 100 bloggers! After the ‘Physical Distancing/Social Connections’ (as I like to call it) lifts, I’ll be going on a book tour for Catalyst. On a personal note I just planted my herb garden and some tomato plants! I’m so looking forward to warm weather.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle has been a big influence on my writing as have her other books in the Time Quintet and the Polly O’Keefe Quartet. She was also heavily influenced by science, spirituality, and space in her writing. I love books by EL Konigsberg and The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson provide me with lots of inspiration, answers and many questions about the nature of the universe and our place in it. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I gave a presentation to 500 librarians at the ALAN Conference in Boston. I was absolutely TERRIFIED, but I rose to the occasion and gave a decent presentation and they all clapped when I was done. It was pretty cool. 

The best thing about being published, though is talking with readers about the ideas in my books. The characters in my books connect mentally with one another through the Universal Energy Field. Almost everyone I talk with has had some experience with premonitions or ESP or intuition. I think it’s something we all have.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope readers will think beyond the confines of their daily lives. To imagine the vastness of the universe and what science has to offer us in terms of personal potential and supernatural possibilities. There is more to the world than meets the eye.

I also hope they recognize that the Earth is our only home and we MUST take care of her. We can all be ‘Catalysts’ for positive change. We don’t have much time left to act.

In your new book; CATALYST, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it 
Marcie Horton, a junior in high school, is spending her summer working at Angel Mounds, the archaeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. Things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke, two mysterious dig assistants who claim to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds. They assert that Earth and her resources are in grave danger and Marcie must decide if she’s brave enough to do her part to save the planet. 

What part of Marcie did you enjoy writing the most?
Most of my characters have some aspect of me in them. I tend to be a bit impatient (okay, a LOT impatient) and Marcie has some of that trait. When I was writing the first draft, my son told me that Marcie was kind of annoying. She wasn’t being very nice to Leo – she didn’t understand his reservations about things that happen in the book (I can’t tell you what those things are – spoiler!) So, I toned her down and helped her to be more empathetic and a bit more patient. She also grows from being unsure of her purpose in life to feeling totally engaged. That was a satisfying journey to write about.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love to introduce Marcie to Meg and Polly from Madeline L’Engle’s books. I think the three young women would have a lot in common and a lot to talk about!

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
That a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope. How cool is that!?! 

What was the first job you have had? 
When I was fifteen, I worked as a cashier at Phelan’s Pharmacy in Winnetka, Illinois. It was a fun job – we got discounts on candy and makeup – and one-time Marlo Thomas came into the store. She was dating Phil Donahue who lived in the village at the time (he had a talk show based in the Chicago area). My YA readers probably won’t even know who they are, but their parents might!! I was naturally a little star-struck.

Best date you've ever had?
For my boyfriend’s birthday last year, we got all dressed up and went to a very fancy steak house in Indianapolis. It was fun and romantic, and the food was delicious! The only catch was that I had recently broken my ankle and to get from the car to the restaurant and then to our table, I had to use a scooter, walker AND crutches! 

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh? 
I try to laugh as much as possible!! The last time I had a really good laugh was probably last Friday night on a Zoom Virtual Cocktail Hour with my girlfriends talking about life during physical distancing. How we are wearing our pajamas or spandex pants all day long, trimming our own bangs and what we’re binge watching on Netflix. 

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be? 
I would have been more outgoing in high school and college. I got a reputation for being stuck up, but it was really because I wasn’t sure people would remember meeting me and I wasn’t confident about reaching out to people. Over the years I’ve realized that people love being remembered, and I don’t worry anymore what people think of me (most of the time at least!) My boyfriend is always joking that if he leaves me alone in a store, he’ll come back to find that I’ve made a new friend!

What event in your life would make a good movie?
The Fall after college three friends and I backpacked through Europe. We had a rough itinerary and went from city to city and country to country staying in youth hostels. There were dozens of other college-aged travelers following similar routes and we had a blast exploring Europe, meeting new people, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves as only young twenty-somethings can. We saw Paris, Brussels, Munich, Oslo, Copenhagen, London, Vienna, Rome, Venice, Florence, Athens, the Greek Islands, the French Riviera and all points in between over a ten-week period. I waited tables all summer to save up the money for the trip. I was the last one to join the group, so I traveled by myself the day after the other girls arrived. They were to meet me at Buckingham Fountain in London. This was in the 1980’s so there were no cell phones and no way for me to contact them. I waited for EIGHT HOURS for them to show up. I thought I was going to have to travel through Europe on my own, but eventually one of them came. It was a wonderful experience.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today? 
After my divorce from my husband of thirty years I thought my life was over. I fell into a very bad place for a while. But I am blessed with amazing friends and a family who love me, and they helped me move forward. My life now is beyond what I could have imagined in those dark days. I have meaningful work, my novels are being published, I have a wonderful boyfriend and I try to enjoy life to the fullest. I am grateful for everyday and everyone in my life. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

I once took a personality test for a job and the test scorer told my prospective boss that I could give a drill Sargent a run for his money. (I got the job!) 
Another personality test I took said that I am ‘results oriented. 

3. I am the oldest of three children. My younger brothers used to call me ‘Sarge’. 

a. Do you see a pattern emerging? If you want someone to boss you around and get stuff done, I’m your gal! Seriously, though, I try to tamp down my desire to tell people what to do, but it slips out sometimes!!

4. I have boy/girl twins. When they were little people often asked if they were identical…Nooooo, one’s a boy and one’s a girl. How could they be identical?!?!

5. I held the indoor track record for the 220 yard dash (it was so long ago it was before metrics) at my high school for several years.

6. I don’t like to sit and do nothing, so I often knit while watching TV. I’ve even brought knitting to the movies! Yes, I can knit in the dark.

7. I have a degree in Biology and am a Financial Advisor, so I am strongly right brained, but I also knit, sew and paint and love creative pursuits. My sister-in-law once told me I was equally left and right brained which I considered a nice compliment. That combination comes in handy when writing my novels.

8. I was born in the Chicago suburbs.

9. I’ve traveled to all the 48 of the states in the continental US but I’ve never been to Canada or Mexico.

10. I love to travel and go on road trips, but I don’t like camping. If camping had indoor plumbing and a soft mattress, then count me in!! 

Marcie is spending her summer working on the archeological dig that her mother runs: Angel Mounds, a site of an ancient indigenous civilization. Soon after she arrives, she meet some intriguing individuals, and becomes wrapped up in a supernaturally-charged mission to save the planet from the destruction man has brought upon itself.

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the "I see dead people" way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can't be explained-an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.
This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds-something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

You can purchase Catalyst (The Catalysts #2) at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you TRACY RICHARDSON for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Catalyst (The Catalysts #2) by Tracy Richardson.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 1, 2020

Alma Alexander Author Interview

Photo Content from Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander is an author whose books include the internationally acclaimed historical fantasy The Secrets of Jin-shei published in 13 language, and its follow-up, Embers of Heaven, set in a fantasy China.

VOYA suggested that her Worldweavers series (Gift of the Unmage, Spellspam, Cybermage, Dawn of Magic) might be just the thing "for readers suffering Harry Potter withdrawal."

Another series, The Were Chronicles (Random, Wolf, Shifter), which dramatically changes the Were world, is about to be republished,

Other fantasies include her haunting and newly republished Midnight at Spanish Gardens, as well as Changer of Days, Wings of Fire, Empress, and a humorous science fiction novel, AbductiCon. She has edited two anthologies, River and Children of a Different Sky.

More on all her books - and links for buying them - can be found under the pull-down menu BOOKS at the top of the page.

Alma Alexander was born on the banks of the Danube in a country that no longer exists, grew up in Africa, and is married to an American she met online. She lives with him and two cats in the cedar woods of the U,S. Pacific Northwest.

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Crossroad Press (July 1, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1951510399
ISBN-13: 978-1951510398


“Like its cast of returned starfarers, this rich and continually surprising novel is many things at once: a religiously-inflected first contact story; an engaging psychological mystery; a glimpse of the future through the eyes of the past; and a moving tale about the difficulties of homecoming. I highly recommend it. ” —Matt Ruff, author of Set This House in order

"The Second Star is a grandly deep wallow in multiple personality disorder material. Dr. Stella Froud is wonderful as she studies six star-faring humans who come home fractured." —Jennifer Stevenson, author of Walking on Sunshine

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I wrote my first novel-length work when I was eleven years old. It, probably thankfully, does not survive – it was everything you might expect an inexperienced barely budded wordwright to produce, and it was a prime example of the adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The reason I wrote it was because I needed to tell a story of that length, that arc, to show myself that I could do it, but it was inevitably done with training wheels, with scaffolding, because I didn’t know any better, and it clung to its original material and was derivative as all get go. Let’s let that one stay in the past where it belongs. 

My first ‘good’ novel, at least my first original one, was written only three years after that, though – more than 200,000 words, handwritten in pencil, in three A4 hardcover notebooks. Yeah, I still have them. It’s astonishing how CLEAN it is – no crossings out no erasures nothing like that – it was a harbinger of things to come – I THINK my stories into existence, and very often I barely edit, except for creeping infelicities and occasional continuity. The story – well, what most people call the first draft is more like my fifth because I’ve already tried and discarded the things I don’t want, before ever writing them down. This particular novel is an intriguing mix of fantasy and science fiction, something like McCaffrey’s Pern books, and I still think the bones of it are good and salvageable from the (still rampant) inexperience of the Young Writer. I’ll do that someday. 

The basic inspiration underlying my fantasy world was the medieval city-state of Ragusa, now Dubrovnik, where a catastrophic earthquake decimated the population and the patrician families were forced to consider two alternatives, raise some from the plebeian lower caste populace into the patrician ranks, or face extinction. I put both options into play, in my story, running them concurrently, watching the consequences unfold. You’d think such social engineering was ambitious, for a 14-year-old. It probably was. But it was an immense amount of fun, playing God with a world in that way. That bug bit – and I was lost from then on. Since that time I’ve published three million words, and written, oh, a lot more than that. It was that first ‘real’ novel that was my launchpad for all that.

Tell us your latest news.
Well – I’m putting together, in omnibus form, the three novels that make up the Were Chronicles (Random, Wolf, Shifter). These will now come with a foreword written by an academic – my old professor, who supervised my own Master’s degree in Molecular Biology. He told me back when the books were first published that the science was “as good as it gets” and he is willing to write a note telling people WHY - which is awesome. I am really proud of those books, and I can’t wait to have them out there and available in a single volume – I think they address a lot of issues that plague our modern world, dressed up in the silver tissue of science fantasy lies, but those underlying truths that they carry have already changed readers’ lives. I know, because they have told me so. That’s in the works.

So is a collected edition of the Val Hall stories – currently out as “Val Hall: The Even Years” and “Val Hall: The Odd Years”, in a two-volume novel-in-stories or (as I’ve recently heard something described and I like it and it fits) a ‘mosaic’ novel. The new book will be called “Val Hall: Century” and it will have all the stories of the two current volumes plus a number of new never-before-seen stories. One of those, already written, is going to be the final story in the collection, and it’s to do with the Corona Pandemic. This book won’t be out until at least 2021 by which time I HOPE we will have left the worst of it behind us – but I don’t think it should ever be forgotten. And I am a storyteller, and as such, the keeper of memory.

Other than that, I’m starting out on a new novel. Am I not always doing that…?

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
How much time do I have for this, again…?

Nothing happens in a vacuum, that’s for sure. But for me it was a buildup, with a few shining peaks – my grandfather, with his poetry, which nourished me since I was barely a coherent toddler, began my love for the written word, and then I built on that. Before I was fifteen I had read five Nobel literature laureates, before I was eighteen, ten of them. They won a prize for a reason and the way with words of a Henryk Sienkiewics or a Sigrid Undsett or a Pearl Buck or an Ivo Andric or a John Galsworthy inevitably seeped into my own shaping of those words. 

Then I discovered J R R Tolkien and he showed me what was possible when it came to creating a world of your own. Then I met Roger Zelazny and he showed me what a raw mad genius could do. Then I read Matt Ruff, and I couldn’t decide whether I hated him for his precocious mastery of story or adore him for it. Then I found Ursula Le Guin, and I STILL want to be her when I grow up. Then I read the glorious rich historical fantasies of Guy Gavriel Kay and I knew he was a signpost to what I wanted to do with my writing.

It’s the advice that I offer to everyone who wants to know what to do in order to “become” a writer – first, read. Without reading, without loving those other stories which are not your own, without doing that first, you can have no real idea what to do with the wordstuff you hold in your head, Reading is your apprenticeship, your training ground, it is a school from which you will never graduate because there will always be someone out there with something to teach you.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Once, at a book signing, a woman brought a copy of ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’ and asked if I could sign it for her adopted Chinese daughter. I asked for the name and as I was writing in the book the woman said, “I want her to know about her heritage, the stories inspired by the culture which she was born into before she came to me.” That was inspiring enough, but then, when I gave her the signed book, she said something about “giving it to my daughter when she is old enough.” I asked what age was that and she said maybe when she is fifteen or so. I asked how old the child was now. She said, “Four”. And I cried. For my book to be carried in trust, as a treasure, for a child until she was old enough to receive it and what it would bring to her… it was a gift beyond measure. I treasure the memory of that encounter. 

That girl will have received the book by now, will have read it. I wish I could find out what she thought of it. But either way – my blessings, young lady, and grow up rich in heritage, and wise, and kind, and happy.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Are we back onto “The Second Star” now? J This is a book about a collision of faith and a hyper-reality that transcends the interpretation that faith had put upon it. I would like to think that readers of this book will end up thinking about the nature of fantasy and reality, about what is true, about whether they can handle their ‘truth’ being shattered by empirical facts they cannot refute. In one sense this is a book that poses the age old question of whether humans created God or God created humans – and pondering that ultimate chicken-and-egg scenario ought to be something that this book leaves behind in its wake…

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I don’t GET distracted when I write. Ask my husband – when I was writing ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’ he literally had to pry me away from my keyboard in order to eat and sleep. I live in my worlds until the story set in them is done (and often well beyond, with some of my books). I am only just beginning to live in a different reality – post “The Second Star’ – now; while it was being written – shaped in my head, and then set down on the page – I was not distractable from that. I could take breaks – watch TV shows – have conversations about any number of other topics over meals – any of that – but then I would simply close the door on that reality and retreat into the “The Second Star” world. I belonged to that, to those people, until their story was told. 

Can you tell us when you started THE SECOND STAR, how that came about?
I have woken up many times from dreams which became stories. This one… I woke up one morning with a single sentence cast like flotsam from the oceans of night onto the bright and empty beach of the morning. “A soul is like a starfish”. That was it – that was the entire thing. It linked to no dreamstuff that I could remember, nothing to give me any kind of clue at all, but I picked it up and turned in my hands over and over again and, reader, it gleamed. It hypnotized. The more I looked on it the more complex its shape became. I began to think about it, to follow it down curves into unknown places I did not know were there; I began the “what if” game with some of the ideas that came accreting to the thing; I spent more nights dreaming on the ideas I was starting to embroider onto the base, and mornings after I woke from those dreams relating the things I had learned in the night to my long-suffering husband.

When I had a handful of pieces in my hand, they came together, into a picture, into a coherent whole, and the story was there before me. The underlay was that starfish but that was a metaphor. The real story was about that soul – the human soul, and what happens to it under pressure.

And I was off. The story had momentum. There was no stopping it any more.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
Father Philip’s central crisis was a difficult chapter to write. I was partly educated in a convent school; I have known plenty of deeply religious people in my life; I understood completely the place where my Jesuit priest was standing, and the way the world would have looked to him, to a man with a true vocation. But I had to break that, for him. I had to shatter that world. I had to push him off a high cliff and watch him fall – and there literally was no guarantee that he would not break into pieces as he hit the sharp rocks below. By this stage I was deeply invested in that character, I respected him, I loved him, I cared about him deeply – but sometimes I think there is no worse fate than to be a central character in a novel of mine because I don’t treat my characters well. Particularly the ones I care about. THEY get tested. Hard. And this was a tough test for that character.

We both survived. Barely.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
You know, I had never thought about that. From within my own books – I’d love to have my protagonist from the “Changer of Days” book, the girl after whom I’ve named myself in the Cyberworld many a time, Anghara kir Hama, meet someone like Simonis, Callidora, my ‘Empress’ from the book of the same name. They are both queens, but very different ones. It would be an interesting conversation. Further afield – I wonder what my Xaforn, from ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’, and Eowyn of Rohan would have to talk about…?

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
A dolphin’s blowhole, which helps to produce the sounds we’ve all heard dolphins make as they cackle at humans about some private joke they aren’t about to share with us, is an airway – which means that a dolphin who is vocalizing and going underwater at the same time sounds exactly like you would sound if you were trying to do the same thing – there’s a wet gurgle that drowns the sound as the dolphin’s head submerges, and it’s wicked funny to watch. Also, their sonar is quite capable of detecting a second heartbeat which is why we were all asked, before entering the water, if any of us females in the party were pregnant or even thought we might be – because dolphins, who ‘hear’ that second heartbeat, are instantly fascinated by it and will congregate around the pregnant woman to the detriment of anyone else who might be present. They apologized for being so intrusive and personal but to justify themselves they told the story of a woman who came to swim with the dolphins and who attracted every dolphin in the pool when she waded into it – and denied vehemently that she was pregnant. A couple of weeks later they received a phone call from her. “You know those dolphins of yours?” she said, “Well, it’s like this…” If I were ever pregnant, this is how I would want to find out. By dolphin-gram.

I’ve swum with dolphins twice in my life. I will not give back a moment of those memories. Or the ridiculous facts that I know about those creatures.

What according to you is your most treasured possession?
I have one of those old-fashioned articulated bears with a hard body and attached limbs that move independently. You can see the stitching on the pelt; his head is barely on his shoulders, his brown plastic eyes broke at least once and were glued back on with meticulous care, his ears are literally threadbare with the material underneath the ‘fur’ showing. Only behind the ears, where they fold back and are somewhat protected, does a hint of the true original color and texture of the bear remain – a golden velvet plush that lives on in memory now. 

That bear was handed to me by a great-uncle when I was a year old – on my first birthday. It was literally bigger than me. But it became my treasured companion and it was loved, deeply, sincerely. It still is to this day. He sits in pride of place as the aged Emperor of my plush collection, and he is going to be fifty six years old this year.

He is the reliquary of love and memory. He would be the thing I race to save if my house ever caught fire.

Best date you've ever had?
Oof. Well, it could have been the one where my date insisted that the Vietnamese meal I was about to share with him was NOT spicy (until steam came from my ears… and he laughed… and in the end I did too because the food was really good, in the end, and I walked into the whole thing with my eyes wide open…) 

Or it could have been one of my very first dates, where I asked a young golden-haired Greek Adonis to a school dance (I ‘stole’ him from another girl at my residence, whose cousin he was, and who had intended to ask him herself only I got there first… and then spent HOURS talking to him in the school courtyard as the moon rose overhead – it is a golden moment, made bittersweet by the fact that the young man in question was involved in a terrible accident not long after which affected his short-term memory – he would forget who he was talking to on the phone, in minutes, and would just go absolutely blank – he was never the same again…) 

Or it could have been meeting up with an ex-boyfriend who was still a friend – both of us on the loose in London, and we sat in a café and got so excited about the prospect of going to see ‘Les Miserables’ that we rushed out forgetting to pay our bill and realized that only much later – and then, independently, *I* went back to pay those people and *he* did too, without telling each other, so they didn’t lose out in the end, they got paid twice for the same meal… 

Or would it be the time that my then-current beau brought me on a company outing – as his date – onto a tall ship which actually set out sail and caught the wind and I was so exhilarated by the experience that I very nearly went overboard in all the excitement. His hat DID go overboard, as he grabbed me hard by the wrist and held onto me until I could get my feet back under me again; I bruise easily and I had a plum-colored hand imprint on my arm after that, as a memento of the moment. But oh boy, was that – in SO many ways – exciting…

Or should I bring up the time when I was, for my sins, part of a Debutante Ball (and the only deb who could actually WALTZ which was a problem because we were supposed to open the ball with a Viennese waltz with our partners…) but I was, um, between boyfriends at the time, and so I was partnered with someone whom I barely knew and who was more or less there to be DANCED WITH on the night – he came to get me on the evening of the ball, out where I lived in the suburbs, and got lost, and was very late, and I piled into the car with my ballgown on looking like butter wouldn’t’ melt in my mouth, and he floored it on the highway trying to get us to the ball on time. He apologized for driving so fast, “I don’t usually drive like this,” he said. “That’s okay,” I said tranquilly, “I do.” I don’t think he spoke to me again, and after he did his duty at the ball (and brought me (much more sedately) home), he hightailed it out of my life as fast as he had been driving on that highway. I don’t suppose it’s a “great date” but it’s a hilarious memory.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
To any time where I could go back and curl up beside my grandmother again, and feel her hand on my hair, and listen to her say my name with all the love that she always put into it. She meant everything to me – I lost her thirty years ago, now, and I still miss her, every day.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
In the high drama of a changing South Africa, I saw a crowd of people turn into a mob. I use those words studiedly – a crowd is still individual people, capable of acting on their own ideas and impulses. A mob is no longer that – there are no individuals any more, just a hydra-headed monster intent on something, ONE THING, with the same idea in every mind and everyone focused on it and multiplying and enhancing it, and it speaks with the voice of thunder, and it is unstoppable, and it doesn’t care what gets in the way of what it wants.. I have seen it happen. It is terrifying. And I don’t like large crowds, to this day. I know not every crowd is a mob, but they carry the potential for it, and I tend to start looking for exits if in that situation. I sometimes miss the innocence I left behind to be trampled by that original mob, but I can never get that back again. I can deal with individuals; I am a dyed-in-the-wool introvert but I can handle small groups of people fine. But get past a certain breaking point – one person too many – and I kick into a protection routine. I retreat. I try to disappear, and to hide. It isn’t a conscious thing – it’s a fear that has me by the scruff of the neck and is making me react in the only possible way that will keep me safe. The world is a different place today from what it was in the moment before I saw what I saw.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Well, it may not be a ‘unique’ fear, but my reason for it probably is. I was eleven years old, in the second year of my African childhood, and we lived in a new suburb, one that backed onto an undeveloped and virgin high-grass veldt. Our next door neighbor was what was known as a ‘White African’ – he was not someone who had just got there and didn’t know anything about the place, his parents had got here, he had been born and brought up here, he knew it well, inside out, he’d grown up inside this world. It was this man – experienced in the ways of Africa – who was snipping his hedge with a pair of garden shears one day, with me in the garden next door, observing all this. He must have clipped the tail of the green mamba hiding in the hedge bushes without noticing it; it turned and bit him; he was dead within minutes. There was nothing anyone could have done for him.

For me, to this day, there is no such thing as a ‘non-poisonous’ snake. I see one, I freeze like a rabbit. Their very existence is a terror for me.

I was *eleven*. I saw a man die. That will never leave me. This is a fear I will take to my grave.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer? 
Back in 1994, in New Zealand, I discovered that there was about to be a science fiction convention happening in Auckland, where I lived, around Easter of 1995. I knew nothing about conventions at that time – but I noticed that this one would have two writer Guests of Honor – Vonda McIntyre, of whom I had not heard until that moment, and ROGER ZELAZNY. One of my personal literary gods would be coming to the city where I lived, and there might be a chance of my meeting him? I was already sold. But then I found out that there would be a writing workshop, chaired by these two writing luminaries, to which only FIVE people would be admitted.

I sent in a story for their consideration immediately – six months before the event! – and then spent the next couple of months biting my nails, asking myself why I sent THAT story – ROGER ZELAZNY would see it and he would think I am a complete dork – what was I thinking – and then I got word that I was in, that I was one of the five lucky ones.

On the day, there we were, us five newbies and the two writers GoHs. The format was that we’d go round robin on our own work, with all of us weighing in with opinions on one another’s work, and then the two pros would give us their insights. Come my turn, I survived the peer review just fine, and Vonda McIntyre – who would in time become a friend – returned my story annotated to an inch of its life with little pencil scribbles in every available white space – I may have learned more from that one critique from her than I had done in YEARS that went before. 

Then – moment of truth – I quailed a little as I turned to my left, where Zelazny sat with his hands folded on the table before him. The empty table before him. There was no sign of my story at all. He turned his gaze upon me, out of a pair of Damascus-steel grey eyes, and said to me,

“I have two questions for you. One, how long have you been writing?”

And I gulped, and said, since I could hold a pencil. (and before that, I told lies.)

He nodded, and said, “And do you read, or write, a lot of poetry?”

I pled guilty to that.

He smiled. “It shows,” he said. “You have a voice all of your own. Nobody else will ever write like this.”

This was at Eastertime of 1995; by the summer of that year, he was dead. That was how narrow the window of my opportunity to meet him had been.

But the words he left with me are engraved in gold in the back of my mind, right where Zelazny’s little altar still stands, with lamps I keep always lit. Those words have taken me through dark nights of the soul. They have been wind in my sails. They have been a blessing, and an exhortation to carry on when there seemed to be no path forward.

He gave me a memory to treasure. 

Everything I have done since that moment had the light of those words shining upon it.

1. AngharaKir Hama (The Hidden Queen/Changer of Days)  Anghara is my alter ego in cyberspace, it’s been a sign-on name and an avatar name since I took my first steps into the computer universe. She grows – in the space of these books– from a suddenly inconvenient royal child heir into a poised young woman and then into the avatar of a goddess whose name was written in the prophecies… before she fulfills her purpose and becomes herself again, to take her rightful place in her own world. She’s my first strong leading lady, and I love her fiercely.

2. Xaforn (The Secrets of Jin-Shei)  there are eight jin-shei sisters in this book (and if EVER you have the urge to write a book with eight equal-weight protagonists who are all pulling off in their own direction at any given moment… go and lie down until the urge goes away…) but Xaforn stands out in many ways. She’s a warrior – but she has a tender soul, and her sense of loyalty and honor is unparalleled. She is real enough that she SPOKE HER OWN DIALOGUE in the novel. I would just stop typing and stare at the screen and think, I didn’t make her say that. I didn’t even think about it. SHE said that. SHE thinks that. She is utterly and completely a person who lived and breathed, not just any creation of a writer’s mind. I didn’t MAKE Xaforn. I met her.

3. Mal (Wolf, The Were Chronicles)  I love this character because he starts out with a handicap – one that, in his world, in his context, is huge – and he is young enough as this story begins to be your typical teenager. He’s sulky about his failures. He broods on them. He’s snarky to everyone and obnoxious to everyone else. He’s the classic toxic teen… until he takes matters, and his own future, into his own hands. Typically it’s only partly thought through and when he is thrown into the briar patch by his choices he has to scramble to make good, even to just survive it all. But he does. HE DOES. He grows in grace and power, and into leadership. And watching him grapple with the things I threw at him, and conquer them, and emerge as an amazing human being… that was a privilege.

4. Chalky (Shifter, The Were Chronicles)  the protagonist of the third book of the Were Chronicles triptych, Saladin van Schalkwyk (better known as Chalky) draws a hand of truly evil cards as he begins his existence. He seems to be so trapped, in a bad situation, that there looks to be no way out for him at all – until he realizes that he doesn’t really have to live by the laws of the world which constrains him because he is by definition outside that world. He is neither normal nor a classic Were, confined by their rules – he is a Shifter, a free Shifter, one who can Turn into anything he chooses when he chooses it. He doesn’t realize the price he is paying for this, until very much later, until very much too late, but he accepts those consequences, and his life is luminous with that acceptance. He is another of those characters who are ALIVE. This one once sat on my bed at three in the morning kicking the bedframe with his heels and keeping me awake while insisting that HE DIDN’T SAY WHAT I MADE HIM SAY IN THE PASSAGE I HAD JUST FINISHED WRITING, and it wasn’t until I cried uncle and agreed to change the passage that he had the grace to let me go to sleep. The worst part of that is, he was right, damn it. Don’t you just hate it when they are right?...

5. Simonis/Callidora (Empress)  This is a character who is strongly based on Empress Theodora of Byzantium, whose rise to power from the gutters of the Hippodrome to the Imperial throne beside an Emperor who changed LAWS so that she could be by his side. Largely because of a scribe by the name of Procopius who had his own axe to grind, Theodora has entered history as a venal gold-digger, a woman for hire barely above street whore let alone high-ranking courtesan, who somehow bewitched the vulnerable Emperor and engineered her own rise. It is probable that she was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. As a favourite great-aunt of mine used to say, well-behaved women rarely make history – and because getting what she wanted necessitated, uh, “bad” behavior, Theodora was damned. For existing. For being. I have no doubt she had to have been just a little – how do we put this delicately – flawed, in character, in order to survive what she survived and become what she became – but hers is one of the great love stories of all time, and if you push Procopius aside and look behind the curtain, well, she was a woman who deserved her story told. So I put her avatar into a historical fantasy frame… and “Empress” was the book that was born of it. It’s very much hers. From beginning to end. This is the story of the woman… who dared.

6. Rothaide (Empress)  Rothaide is also based on a historical character, the daughter of the Visigoth king whose options in life got narrower and narrower until they left no more room for her existence – but who would have been a fine leader of her people if she had been permitted to be one (and she wasn’t – because she was A WOMAN). Because of the handicap of her gender, she made unwise decisions, married someone whom she thought she had an arrangement with (he would reign – but she would RULE…) right until he betrayed her, because he could. Her relationship to my Empress is historical, to a point – but because both these women are my characters they changed accordingly. And Rothaide became a true queen, with dignity and courage, who bowed her head for destiny in the end – but not in submission. In acceptance. I love this character. In truth, she really deserves a book of her own…

7. Amais (Embers of Heaven)  in a lot of ways, Amais is myself. A lot of her mother, at least in the beginning of the book, is my mother. Amais and I are both children of two worlds, with a foot uneasily in each, being made daily to choose between the two in a hundred ways that to an outsider might seem small and inconsequential but to her (and me) are hugely important decisions because they literally govern who we will be today. Amais’s commitment to her cause mirrors my commitments to my own. And I am – as always – hard on my characters, where she is concerned, but I also gave her a great love which is at once inconvenient, impossible, utterly fated, and beyond her powers to refuse or step aside from. It hurts her, that love – it damages her – but it is also the thing that forges her, and through that love she succeeds in the thing she sets out to do although it doesn’t’ end up being in the form that she intended that accomplishment to come about. Amais is a bridge between worlds. That is a tough ask. She manages it. With grief, with grace, with passion, with loyalty. I only hope I would have done as well, under those circumstances.

8. Coyote (the Worldweavers Series  Gift of the Unmage, Spellspam, Cybermage, Dawn of Magic) – He started life as an avatar – as an archetype – the Coyote of the folktales of the peoples of North America – the Trickster character who was introduced to be precisely that, the boulder in the stream, something to derail the story into different waters and make it grapple with issues which it might not otherwise have encountered. But oh my, he grew. Like a true Trickster my Coyote character – known as Corey, sometimes, in these books – becomes… yes, once again, I am given to this… REAL. By the time we say goodbye to him, in “Dawn of Magic”, it is possible to love him. And I do. Fiercely. He is the very embodiment of chaos and it is his JOB to make the lives of people like me difficult – but there is so much nobility in him, so much stature, that I freely offer him what he demands of me. He keeps me on my toes, and always will. I was privileged to meet him, in the scope of this story, and I am grateful that he allowed me a glimpse into his hidden self, and let me tell some of the untold story that is his.

9. Nikola Tesla (the Worldweavers Series  Gift of the Unmage, Spellspam, Cybermage, Dawn of Magic) – historical and real, of course, but I made him into something very special in these books. He is, in my books, the acknowledged Wizard of the West, the only Quad-Elemental Mage in human history (with mastery over all four Elements, Earth, Water, Air and Fire). He is a knight, a gentleman, someone who has lost much and is capable of exquisite sacrifice of self for the needs of the many. There are dozens of biographies about him and you can read them all – but in these pages, in these books, I like to think that you are going to glimpse Nikola Tesla’s soul. I might add that I spent a night in the New Yorker Hotel in the room where Tesla lived and where he died. I am saying just that, and no more. We may have… met.

10. Rohese  I haven’t written her book yet, but she is a character who haunts me. I have a few scenes written in the story in which she appears, and in one of them she reveals something from her childhood to me – she was the little girl who sat, enchanted, on the side of a courtyard fountain pool looking at the reflection of the moon in the waters… and wanted it… and reached out to take it… and of course disturbed the surface of the still reflecting water and lost what she desired. But she learned from that – a lesson that getting what she wanted might not always be easy, and that there would be obstacles and illusions in the way. It did not stop her from wanting the moon, however. I look forward to writing the rest of this woman’s story.

The Parada had been lost for almost two hundred years before they recovered the ship, drifting in stygian interstellar darkness, and brought her home again.

But that was not the miracle.

The miracle was that the crew was still alive.

That was also the problem.

Six crew members went out on the Parada, Earth’s first starship. All contact was lost, and the ship vanished for almost two centuries. When the Parada’s successor found the drifting ship and somehow managed to bring it home, the six crew members were not only still alive but barely older, due to the time dilation effects of near-FTL travel. Their return was a miracle – but it could not be revealed to the waiting world. The problem was, six individuals went out to the stars. More than seventy fractured personalities came back.

Psychologist Stella Froud and Jesuit Father Philip Carter were recruited as part of the team assembled to investigate the mystery, and to try and help the Parada’s crew understand their condition and possibly reverse it. What they discovered was a deepening mystery, and very soon they found themselves forced to take sides in a conflict that nobody could have possibly predicted. Their world would never be the same again.

You can purchase The Second Star at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ALMA ALEXANDER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of THE SECOND STAR by Alma Alexander.
JUNE 5th FRIDAY Movies, Shows, & Books GUEST POST

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway