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L.M. Elliott


Sean Penn


Leigh Lewis


Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory

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THE QUARTER STORM Official Blog Tour

William L. Myers Jr.


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E.E. KNight


Robert McCaw


Gregg Olsen


Josh Duhamel


N.E. Davenport


Evie Green


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Barbara Dee


Thursday, June 30, 2022

Jessica Martin Interview - For the Love of the Bard

Photo Content from Jessica Martin

Jessica Martin is a lawyer by trade, a writer by choice, and a complete smartass by all accounts. Based in the suburban wilds of Boston, Jess shares her life with a finance geek, a small sass-based human and a pair of dogs named after Bond characters.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
In the fifth grade, I won my first writing contest. We had to write a bone-chilling scary story for Halloween and the prize was a giant pumpkin. I was so proud of that orange beast and my completely awesome story about a woman done wrong who comes after her ex from the grave in the most ironic of ways (I really wanted to use the word “lover”, but my parents insisted that was really off-putting coming from a fifth grader, so I changed it to ex. Clearly still annoyed about this). From then on, writing came in and out of my life, but I could never figure out how to make it work until now. There is something about writing, the way I feel when I’m in the groove. It’s like I feel truly like myself when I’m walking among my characters, their lives, their stories. And then I flip the switch and I’m just Jess again. Waiting to get back to them.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
My favorite book of all-time, the one I’d take to the desert island with me and read a million times over (but never dogear the pages) would be Persuasion by Jane Austen. For a while, I didn’t really understand what the big deal was with Ms. Austen. I’d liked Pride and Prejudice well enough, but when I met Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth in a senior college seminar, I was done for. There is something about the urgency and surety of Persuasion, something about the quiet fire in Anne and about knowing Persuasion was Austen’s final completed novel. And I’d challenge anyone to find a more perfect love letter out there than the one Wentworth writes Anne: “I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago…I have loved none but you.” Fade to swoon.

As far as my favorite book outside my genre: I’m going to cheat a little here. I love the entire October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. Sir October “Toby” Day is a (reluctant) hero of the realm and a badass for the ages. McGuire seamlessly weaves her half-fae changeling private eye into the modern day San Francisco landscape awash in an overlay of fae folklore.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Hands down, it was being asked to weigh in on who would narrate For the Love of the Bard. I have an hour long commute each way to work so I spend a ton of time listening to audiobooks. The production team sent me several audition samples and when I heard Gilli Messer (the self-described “ultra-low budget Gal Gadot”), it was like hearing Miranda’s voice aloud the way I’d always imagined it in my head. The book is currently still in production, and I can’t wait to listen to it in full (even if it will be a little weird to listen to my own stuff).

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Their names are Em, Moneypenny and Fiona. Em is this fierce ball of sass and inquisitive curiosity who likes to bust in at critical writing moments and demands to know why freckles don’t come in rainbow or sparkle options. She is the best kind of distraction. Then there’s Moneypenny and Fiona, my deviously clever dogs named for Bond characters, who are less about the verbal interruption and all about employing the full force of puppy dog eyes and demanding snacks or a walk. But only when I’m writing. Otherwise, they couldn’t be bothered.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
Growing up, I spent my summers swimming in silty New Hampshire lakes and exploring the craggy coasts of Maine. I am in deep love with small towns, especially those where the residents are salty and don’t pander to the summer set. Everyone in those towns has a story of how they got there and why they stayed. The town of Bard’s Rest is as much a character as anyone else in For Love of the Bard. Getting to build the town from the ground up was the most satisfying part of writing this book. The only disappointment is that I can’t go live there and order pizza from Tempest Tossed Pizza.

So, suffice to say, the desire to create a small town had been percolating in the back of my mind for a while and that only intensified with the claustrophobia of Covid.

  • 1. The stores on the main street of Bard’s Rest are all plays on words straight out of Shakespeare: Much Ado About Pastry, The Merry Wines of Windsor, Two Gentlemen of Daytona, Measure for Measure Hardware and the list goes on.
  • 2. Puck, Miranda’s beloved black lab husky mix, who brings Adam back into Miranda’s life (in a decidedly gross canine matter) was originally named Poe. It was my agent, Maggie Cooper, who suggested he was more of a mischievous Puck type by way of A Midsummer’s Dream than a broody Poe. She was so right.
  • 3. Ian Grant, Miranda’s best friend and partner in crime (as well as business) is a composite of character traits, stories and lines I straight up stole from my own crew of law school buddies. And Ian is the highly sanitized result of that. Let that sink in.
  • 4. The three Barnes sisters are all named after Shakespearean characters. Miranda shares her namesake with the heroine (and the only woman on stage) in The Tempest. Portia, the eldest sister, takes her name from the quick-witted noblewoman in The Merchant of Venice and Cordelia (Cordy) is the youngest of Clan Barnes and she’s named for the only one of King Lear’s progenies you’d actually want as a sibling.
  • 5. The last scene of the book takes place in Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA, which is a truly amazing indie bookstore. And also happens to be where I’m doing my book launch party.
  • 6. The book names of Miranda’s Elf Shot series are all lines from Shakespeare (One Foot In Sea, Inconstant Moons, The Winter’s Flaw).
  • 7. Miranda is accident prone, which is why her father doesn’t want her help in the theater shop with the sets and (to her indignation) prefers Adam as his build buddy. As a theater minor, I had to take an introduction to theater class which included a rotation working on sets. I managed to injure myself on a table saw that was supposed to be idiot-proof. Some people are not meant to wield power tools. Miranda and I are those people.
  • 8. To raise money for shelter animals, I auctioned off the opportunity amongst my friends to name things in For the Love of the Bard. When you see a pet’s name and think to yourself, that’s kind of weird (Meatball is my brother’s cat) or wonder why the boat is named the Shanna-Banana, that’s why.
  • 9. Before I wrote rom coms, I wrote contemporary fantasy. I tried (unsuccessfully) for several years to get my novel about an outcast from Norse mythology hiding out in Boston published. Naming Miranda and Ian’s literary agency “Valhalla Lit” is a small nod to that effort and my general love of all things mythology.
  • 10. Miranda had an ex who was written out of the book because he wasn’t doing enough to justify his existence (true on so many levels). But at one point our girl called this loser a cream-faced loon. I think we should all try to work cream-faced loon back into everyday speech. The world would be better for it.
What is the first job you have had?
At the ripe old age of fifteen and a half, I applied to be an aide to the children’s librarian in my hometown library. In addition to being the most spot on recommender of books, our children’s librarian had a quirky side hobby as an amateur taxidermist. This involved her driving around in her Volvo and finding specimens (oftentimes, gently hit roadkill), stuffing them and adorning the children’s room with them. I spent many an hour shelving John Bellairs books beneath the watchful marble eyes of raccoons, fisher cats and woodchucks. Best job ever.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
A few years ago, I went to Amsterdam on business. The deal we were supposed to be negotiating went terribly awry. All out of sorts, I found myself with one night (and one night only) in the heart of the city. My two otherwise mild-mannered business partners and I bar crawled our way through red light district and each bar got progressively weirder (and more awesome) and culminated in us belting out “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath (“GENERALS GATHERED IN THEIR MASSES, JUST LIKE WITCHES AT BLACK MASSES”) in this bar that looked like a steampunk fantasy with these massive contraptions hanging from the ceiling. The night got really hazy from there, the last thing I remember was stumbling back to our hotel sometime around the witching hour. We were staying in this stupidly expensive old world hotel that happened to have a great corporate rate. The concierge, this older gentleman in an impeccable crimson uniform with an-honest-to-goodness gold ring of hotel keys at his waist came down to scold us for attempting to eat street food in the grand parlor. The next morning, I woke up (alone, thank you very much) in my room in this elaborate four poster gothic bed worthy of an Anne Rice novel. As I flipped through my phone, I found this picture of me sitting in this giant, garish yellow clog with red tulips painted on it. No idea how that happened, but…when in Amsterdam.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
I have this recurring nightmare where I’m kidnapped by a serial killer whose face I never see but he has a terribly unposh British accent and bad breath. He flips on a light and every person I care about is bound and gagged in a room. He tells me he will let them all go on the condition that I have to kill one of them with this vicious-looking knife and then eat that person in front of my other loved ones. It’s horrible, but I do it. My self-conscious can be a total jerk sometimes.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
I’ve always felt that my time in Hawaii would make an excellent rom com. My last year in law school, I landed a semester long internship at a firm in Honolulu and the experience was magical (including this one time I was standing in line at a fancy pop-up night club and this restroom attendant offered me a lollipop guaranteed to “enhance” my night. Since I adhere to this general practice of not accepting unwrapped sweets from strangers, I didn’t take her up on the offer, but it had a very Alice in Wonderland quality to it). Anyway, when I returned from that internship, finished law school, took the bar exam and went to start my big fancy law job in the fall, I found out the market had tanked, and the firm didn’t want us until the following spring. So, I took the small stipend they offered and moved back to Hawaii. I lived in this crazy hotel in Waikiki with a cast of characters, explored the various islands, bonded with locals and learned what it meant to truly live on my own. All you’d need to add is a love interest. I’m thinking the slightly jaded captain of a company that runs shark-cage tours for sunburned tourists.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
I am afraid of getting a papercut on my eye. Given how painful it is when you get one under your fingernail, I cannot imagine what that would feel like on the membrane of one’s eye. It actually makes me shudder just writing this.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
I think I’ve been waiting my whole life to be asked this question. Back when the hubs and I lived in Teele Square (Somerville is for Lovers, baby), we were in this three condo unit and our downstairs neighbors always seemed a little bit odd. When we sold our place, we needed their signature on some condo docs, so I knocked on their door, the woman asked me to wait in their living room and that’s how I found myself sitting on a couch next to two-life sized marionette puppets in my neighbors’ likeness. No explanation offered. Just two giant creepy ass puppets with their limp strings draped all over the couch. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

To go for it or not to go for it? That is the question when two former high school flames return to their Shakespeare-obsessed hometown for a summer of theater and unexpected romance, in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jessica Martin.

Literary agent and writer Miranda Barnes rolls into her hometown of Bard's Rest with one goal in mind: to spend the summer finally finishing her YA novel, the next installment in her bestselling fantasy series. Yet Miranda's mother, deep in the planning stages for the centennial of the town's beloved annual Shakespeare festival, has other ideas.

Before you can say "all's fair in love and war," Miranda is cornered into directing Twelfth Night--while simultaneously scrambling to finish her book, navigating a family health scare, and doing her best to avoid the guy who broke her heart on prom night.

When it comes to Adam, the veterinarian with a talent for set design and an infuriating knack for winning over Miranda's dog, the lady doth protest too much. As any Shakespeare lovers knows, the course of true love never did run smooth, and soon Miranda realizes she'll have to decide whether to trust Adam with her heart again.

You can purchase For the Love of the Bard at the following Retailers:

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Ed McDonald Interview - Daughter of Redwinter

Photo Content from Ed McDonald

Ed McDonald’s debut novel BLACKWING began the The Raven’s Mark trilogy, which continues with RAVENCRY and concludes with CROWFALL.

Ed has been writing stories since he was a child, and studied history for his BA and MA degrees. He is a practitioner of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), and his love of history has helped to inspire the books that he writes.


What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing.
This is quite a big thing to answer, but let’s try. I’m going to try to answer in the style of Mary Schmich’s Wear Sunscreen speech.

Start writing. You need practice. Lots and lots of practice. Whenever you see debuts rocketing out of the gate doing amazingly – they have already done their practice, even if they’re young.

Don’t expect your first draft to be brilliant, it will probably be bad. Don’t expect your second book to be much better. To reach your goals you’re competing on a global stage for the smallest of prizes. But don’t let any thought of the odds put you off; just to exist in the universe you have already defied odds so vast that no human can even conceive of the numbers in a meaningful way. Be bold in your ambitions, but be humble in your dealings with others.

Don’t expect things to happen quickly. You wouldn’t sit down at a piano and expect go out to perform concerts a year later. Writing is not just typing out words, it requires a skillset so broad and so diverse, and so unique to the individual that not even those who can do it know what it is they do. If anyone tells you they have all the answers: they are wrong.

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. If it finally does, you won’t have the craft skills to realize it your vision. Everyone needs a dose of luck at some point to make a career in writing, so prepare yourself as best you can for when you get one.

Don’t obsess over one idea. Clinging to an idea is like clinging to a past that everyone else has already moved on from. Write about your current experiences, because they’re current to other people too.

Learn to write quickly, routinely, and understand that to be a writer is to do a job like any other. Well, not quite like any other. But even if you enjoy success, there will be days when it feels just like when you were stacking shelves.

Understand the business. There’s a lot of information out there, so be careful who you listen to. Give your ear to the people who work in the publishing industry; they know what they’re talking about. Watch out for the people whose frustration has made them bitter; they’ll tell you to do what they did, which didn’t work for them and probably won’t work for you either. Authors often don’t know what they did right or wrong anyway.

Don’t imagine you’re writing a series. You need to sell a single book to begin with so focus on that. It doesn’t matter to a publisher that you intend to write 7 books in the series, they want to publish 1-3 of your books, and long series lose readers with each instalment (around 1/3 per book), so book 3 has only 4/9 of your original readership, and book 4 would have 8/27ths. Prove you can finish one solid story to yourself, and to an agent. They know how to get a series from there.

Nothing will improve writing more than real-world experiences. Convincing characters with interesting inner lives are not born on a computer screen, they emerge from the sum totality of everything you’ve seen, and done. Go out and do things. Travel, and see far off places, if you can. Do things that scare you, just to try them out. Be active and experience life. And if it all comes to nothing, you’ll still have those memories, and in the end memories are all we really have.

In life it’s only people that really matter; understand that the same is true for writing. If you write fantasy, it really doesn’t matter what your world building is like, what’s in the magic system, or how many languages you created – the characters are everything, because novels are fundamentally about generating imaginary emotional experiences for the reader. Readers will engage with books where they feel, not where they know. Don’t fail to look out of the window because you’re enamored with designing the curtains.

Don’t try to predict trends. If you try to write to market, by the time you write, sell and publish the book, the market will already have moved on. Write what you believe in.

And lastly, fortunes can change on the spin of a dime, and a career in writing is one that needs to stretch a lifetime. There are hundreds of thousands of aspiring authors out there, and to succeed you need to want it as much as they do and maybe more.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from DAUGHTER OF REDWINTER
These are a couple of my favourite scenes!

‘And you, Raine?’ he asked. ‘Is that what you think makes a man attractive?
Not a kind heart, not being supportive, not being thoughtful? It’s running
aimlessly around the grounds and a pretty face.’

And there was the trap, sprung. Braithe would have baited it differently, and
would never have allowed an implication that he wasn’t a perfect man. But the
sentiment was the same. Admit that I’m the best man. Admit that I’m being

‘Ovitus,’ I said, not gently. ‘With all the respect due to a future lord, who
may one day dismiss me from whatever position I hold within your clan, those
are not things that should make someone love another person. Being kind,
supportive and thoughtful are the minimum level of expectation we should
have for anybody.’

And just because I always enjoy a good dramatic confrontation:

I was not beaten. Not by Braithe’s careless anger. Not by Hazia’s knife. And
not by some fecking corpse. A silent scream of hatred rang through my head.
My fists clenched tight. I was no Draoihn; the creature had dismissed me. I
was a little thing before it, a nothing, a nobody. I’d been nobody to Braithe.
Nobody to anybody.
No more.

Writing Behind the Scenes
My writing process is an absolute mess. I don’t think it’s even a process. I basically just start writing what I think to want to write, and learn through trial and error what I’m interested in and what’s not – it’s a very organic way of working, and a chaotic one. The beginning ends up changing a lot – chapters 1-4 will be rewritten from scratch about 4-8 times before I finish the book. I neither know what the resolution of the story will be before I get there, or understand my own major themes until I write them, then once I realise (this happened during the writing of the epilogue of Daughter of Redwinter) I go back and change everything to make it work. Usually I just kind of get in tune with the character somewhere along the way, and realise “Oh, this is what her story is all about!” And then I make everything else I wrote fit into it.

What's on Your Desk? 
I don’t have a desk – I lie flat on the sofa with my laptop on my knees. It’s probably very bad for my back. I have a glass of water and a cup of tea or coffee next to me. Quite often I take my laptop to the pub and write there instead. Since we’re both writers, my partner and I often go on trips away where we just go somewhere picturesque and sit writing there.

  • 1. The main character, Raine, is named after Shaldra Van Rane, a character my sister created when we were writing a book called The Phoenix Ruby. I was about 14, so she’d have been 12. I decided to use the name again to honor our old book!
  • 2. I first wrote this book in 2012-2014, and it was twice as long. It was too long to publish, and never went anywhere (and wasn’t very good) so I rewrote it from the ground up.
  • 3. Raine was originally male, and it didn’t feel right so I gender flipped the character and it got vastly better.
  • 4. The magic of the Chronicles of Redwinter is based on existentialist philosophy.
  • 5. I never know what’s going to happen. The mysteries at the end of the book were as much mysteries to me as they are to the reader until I start unravelling them in book 2.
  • 6. The Queen of Feathers is in part written so that a particular actor friend of mine is perfect for the role if ever we make it to TV.
  • 7. The Draoihn are named as an homage to Draoidh, which means ‘magician’ in Gaelic.
  • 8. Don’t worry, I don’t know how to pronounce Draoihn either. Nobody does, it’s a made up word. However you want to pronounce it is fine!
  • 9. I didn’t know Raine was bi until she met a certain girl.
  • 10. My alpha/beta reader and first editor is my partner, author Catriona Ward. I’m extremely lucky to have her.
Meet the Characters
Raine is 17, and her hair is burned white in the early chapters. She has some scars from a childhood accident when she fell down a cliff. She goes through a lot in this book – she starts out uncertain and deferential, and much of her journey is about claiming control for herself, and accepting how others have mistreated her.

The Queen of Feathers is a ghostly visitor who tends to pop up with unhelpful advice from time to time, while trying to pull Raine’s strings. She varies from kind to spiteful – kind of like the worst fairy godmother you can imagine.

Sanvaunt is our leading man – a young, sleepy-eyed Mr. Darcy: handsome, competent, bound to his duty but also frayed at the edges, addicted to narcotics that let him stay awake all night so he can keep working, exasperated but ever polite.

Oh, and Grandmaster Vedira Robilar is about as powerful as anyone you’ll meet in this world. She appears at times as a broken old woman, her cracked skull burning on the inside and banded together with iron straps, and at others as a beautiful woman in her twenties, refined and elegant but oh, so cold! She’s ambitious, ruthless and terrifying, haunted by lost love. I really enjoy writing about her in particular, she’s a lot of fun.

Ahhh! There are so many! I delete about 50% of everything I write. This was one of the many alternative openings that I wrote for DAUGHTER:

There had always been faces in the clouds, but I was the only one to see them. Not the simple patterns that look a bit like a chin, or a nose, or a man’s head in profile. True faces. Faces that watch us. Faces that know things. I learned not to speak about the faces long before I learned why that had to be. Words about clouds were bad words. Words about clouds made people shiver. Some of the faces had been people. Some of them had been something else. But I seldom saw the same one twice.

There are no faces in the clouds in Daughter of Redwinter; it was a direction I veered away from entirely in the end. And it would have been the start of the book! This was something like version 6 of 10.

Your journey to publication
I never had a moment when I realized I wanted to be a writer; I just always did. I started off writing stories and comic books when I was a kid like everyone does, and then through my teens I just kept going. By the time I went to university I was working on a second novel. Eventually, I wrote book after book, rarely making any motion towards publishing them. Whatever I wrote, I didn’t think it was good enough.

Eventually I started working on Redwinter. I had this ridiculous job where literally nobody (not even me) knew what I was meant to be doing, so I just had all this time to write and nothing else on my mind. It became a 280,000 word behemoth, and one of the first agents I tried told me it was too long to be published. That’s not always true, but it’s crazy to write what is essentially 2-3 books in one go. So I started working on something smaller, something I thought could be 90-100,000 words. That book arrived as BLACKWING, which was… 160,000 words.

I advise people to send out 10 queries at any one time, replacing them in the pool the moment you get a rejection. On my first round, an agent asked me to cut it down to 120,000, so I did – and he then held it for 3 months and… rejected it! The next day I got a call from another agent, who I’d sent a sample to in the post 7 months before. He received the slicker, shorter version, and after that the rest is history.

By the time I published a book I’d written 1.5 million words worth of novels. I was a slow learner, maybe.

I kept it pretty much on the down-low when I got a publishing deal – I didn’t really believe it. I remember one day trying to work out if it could all be an elaborate prank being played on me. I only told everyone about it when I signed the contracts; I don’t trust anything not to fall apart before then.

I’ve always found friends and family to be a lot more indifferent than you’d imagine they might be – I think that it’s too far out of some people’s experience to understand what it’s like to finally achieve this huge goal. They never saw me writing the 1.5 million unread words, right? I don’t expect friends and family to read my books anymore. It upset me that they didn’t at first, but you come to realize that you have to treat it as a job.

My biggest inspiration is my partner, Cat, who is not only my biggest support but who really loves my books and believes in what I do. I’m lucky to have a partner who understands how a writing life works, and I’m thankful for that every day.

Those who see the dead soon join them.

From the author of the critically-acclaimed Blackwing trilogy comes Ed McDonald's Daughter of Redwinter, the first of a brilliant fantasy series about how one choice can change a universe.

Raine can see--and more importantly, speak--to the dead. It's a wretched gift with a death sentence that has her doing many dubious things to save her skin. Seeking refuge with a deluded cult is her latest bad, survival-related decision. But her rare act of kindness--rescuing an injured woman in the snow--is even worse.

Because the woman has escaped from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king and who will stop at nothing to retrieve what she's stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter. It becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.

Pity she might have to die for that to happen...

You can purchase Daughter of Redwinter at the following Retailers:

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

|Podcast| Sands of Dune - Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

Photo Content from Brian Herbert and  Kevin J. Anderson

Brian Herbert, son of Frank Herbert, wrote the definitive biography of his father, Dreamer of Dune, which was a Hugo Award finalist. Brian is president of the company managing the legacy of Frank Herbert and is an executive producer of the motion picture Dune, as well as of the TV series Dune: The Sisterhood. He is the author or coauthor of more than forty-five books, including multiple New York Times bestsellers, has been nominated for the Nebula Award, and is always working on several projects at once. He and his wife, Jan, have traveled to all seven continents, and in 2019, they took a trip to Budapest to observe the filming of Dune.

Kevin J. Anderson has written dozens of national bestsellers and has been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the SFX Readers' Choice Award. His critically acclaimed original novels include the ambitious space opera series The Saga of Seven Suns, including The Dark Between the Stars, as well as Wake the Dragon epic fantasy trilogy, the Terra Incognita fantasy epic with its two accompanying rock CDs. He also set the Guinness-certified world record for the largest single-author book signing, and was recently inducted into the Colorado Authors’ Hall of Fame.

JBN Podcast   JBN Podcast   JBN Podcast

Praise for DUNE Series

“The magic lingers, even when the final chapters have already been written.” —Kirkus Reviews on Mentats of Dune

“[A] fun blend of space opera and dynastic soap opera.” —Publishers Weekly on Sisterhood of Dune

“Delivers solid action and will certainly satisfy.” —Booklist on The Winds of Dune

“The saga continues to embroider the original works with intelligence and imagination and also a stronger role for women.” —Booklist on Mentats of Dune

“Fans of the original Dune series will love seeing familiar characters, and the narrative voice smoothly evokes the elder Herbert's style.” —Publishers Weekly on The Winds of Dune

“This sequel to Paul of Dune is an important addition to the Dune chronology and will be in demand by Herbert fans.” —Library Journal, starred review, on The Winds of Dune

“Characters and plot are thus beautifully set up, the timing is precise...the so vast, complex and fascinating that the magic lingers.” —Kirkus Reviews on Sisterhood of Dune

Collected for the first time, these Dune novellas by bestselling authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson shine a light upon the darker corners of the Dune universe. Spanning space and time, Sands of Dune is essential reading for any fan of the series.

The world of Dune has shaped an entire generation of science fiction. From the sand blasted world of Arrakis, to the splendor of the imperial homeworld of Kaitain, readers have lived in a universe of treachery and wonder.

Now, these stories expand on the Dune universe, telling of the lost years of Gurney Halleck as he works with smugglers on Arrakis in a deadly gambit for revenge; inside the ranks of the Sardaukar as the child of a betrayed nobleman becomes one of the Emperor’s most ruthless fighters; a young firebrand Fremen woman, a guerrilla fighter against the ruthless Harkonnens, who will one day become Shadout Mapes.

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Monday, June 27, 2022

Katrina Leno Interview - Sometime in Summer

Photo Content from Katrina Leno

Katrina Leno was born on the East Coast and currently lives in Los Angeles. She is the author of six critically acclaimed novels including You Must Not Miss and Horrid. Like Miriam, she believes everyone in the world has a book that will change their life—hers was The Letters of Vincent van Gogh.


Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer
Honestly, I’ve always wanted to be a writer—I was writing short stories and little plays from a very young age. I specifically remember the moment it clicked for me that PEOPLE actually wrote the books I loved so much. I was standing in the library and asked my mom why there were names on all the book covers. When she said “That’s who wrote the book!” I think my little brain just exploded with excitement. You mean I can write a book too???

Greatest thing you learned in school. 
I was an English major (mostly because it meant a lot of reading!) and I’m really grateful for all of the different literary works I was exposed to throughout my schooling. I think reading widely and frequently is important as a writer (and important if you aren’t a writer, too!) and there are things I read in college that I still revisit as an adult.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
Hands down the most rewarding part about being a writer has been the emails and messages from people who’ve read my books and found something in them that they loved or felt connected with. It makes me feel less alone and it also inspires me endlessly to keep writing, even when it feels hard and impossible. I’m so grateful for readers.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style? 
It’s the most annoying advice in the world (lol) but read a lot and write a lot! I think freewriting is an incredible tool to use and something I’ve relied heavily upon in the past, especially when I’m feeling stuck or blocked with my own writing. Just grab a piece of paper and a pen (okay, you can use your computer too!), and set a timer for five or ten minutes (start small!) and start writing. Try not to think too much about what you’re writing—just go for it and see what happens.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us? 
After SOMETIME IN SUMMER, I’ll be focusing on edits for my first middle grade novel, THE UMBRELLA MAKER’S SON. I am OVER THE MOON about this. I’ve always wanted to write a middle grade novel and the idea for this one has been bouncing around in my brain for over fifteen years. It’s a true labor of love and I’m so excited to jump back into that world and start edits!

In your newest book; SOMETIME IN SUMMER, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it. 
Yes! SOMETIME IN SUMMER focuses on 14-year-old Anna Lucia Bell, who really feels like her life has hit rock bottom. (She’s maybe a tad dramatic!) Her parents are getting a divorce, her best friend has stopped speaking to her, and her mother’s just told her they are selling their family-owned bookstore, which has been a safe haven for Anna since she was a little girl. Anna expects her upcoming summer vacation to be pretty miserable…but she’s in for some magic ahead!

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel? 
I’d love for readers to come away from the novel just feeling very happy and positive and nice. I wrote the bulk of SOMETIME IN SUMMER during the early months of the pandemic, and it was really something that helped me cope with all the darkness and uncertainty around me. I wanted it to be as uplifting and positive as possible, and to share that with readers is just a real dream come true.

What part of Anna did you enjoy writing the most? 
I love her earnestness. She really feels her feelings, you know? She tends to be a bit dramatic (don’t we all) and short-fused, but at the end of the day, she is just searching for love and connection in a world that so often feels unfair and overwhelming.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing SOMETIME IN SUMMER? 
There’s a scene in the book where one character teaches another character how to swim, and I really love how it turned out and how warm and fuzzy it left me feeling. That’s basically my main goal with this book—to make every reader feel warm and fuzzy!

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
I love this question! I would introduce Anna from SOMETIME IN SUMMER to Lottie from EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE. I think they share a lot of the same personality traits and could probably help each other learn to relax a little!

What is the craziest thing you have ever done? 
I went in a helicopter once. I think that is pretty wild. I would almost definitely not do it again!

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? 
Go to a bookstore alone and spend hours touching and smelling every book. You don’t necessarily need to buy a book, but you should if you can, and then you should get yourself whatever little treat you enjoy (like a coffee or a donut or a puppy) and go somewhere quiet and read the book.

What are you most passionate about today? 
Being nice to people. I think being nice to people is great. I’m trying to randomly compliment strangers more often, because whenever someone randomly compliments something about me, it really makes me feel so lovely. Yesterday a stranger told me they liked my hat. It made my day! I just think we should all be nice!

What is your happiest childhood memory? 
My family used to spend summers in Rockport, Massachusetts, which is where SOMETIME IN SUMMER takes place. It’s part of the reason why I wrote this book; I really wanted to set a book in Rockport! It’s a quintessential seaside New England town and the nostalgia I have for this place is unparalleled. So many of my happy childhood memories are from those summers in Rockport.

Most frequent song played? 
I love a song called J’intérioriserai by Martha Wainwright and I often listen to it on repeat.

What were you doing at midnight last night? 
Sleeping! I am not a night owl :)

Where can readers find you? 
I’m most available on Instagram @KatrinaLenoBooks, less available on Twitter @KatrinaLeno, almost never available on Facebook @KatrinaLenoBooks, and simply not at all available on TikTok. Email is always nice, too:

I turned to ten random pages and picked a quote from each!
  • “Fourteen is a meaningless age,” I said, leaning on one elbow. “Thirteen is the first teen year. Fifteen you can be a lifeguard. Sixteen you can drive.”
  • Whatever you said about my parents, you couldn’t call them unsupportive.
  • Jennica could roll around in a dumpster and come out looking like she’d just had a professional blowout.
  • The sea air was really something else. Muggy and warm but a breeze that cut the heat at all the right moments, like it knew when you needed a breath of something cool.
  • “Careful of spiders,” Miriam said. “There were always a lot of spiders in here.”
  • She smiled and knocked her knee against mine, and I felt a jolt in my stomach—a happy jolt. The jolt of making new friends.
  • “I can feel it in this finger,” he said, pointing to the pointer finger of his left hand. “Old soccer injury. Gets tingly before it rains.”
  • I was panicking. My ears filled up with the sound of whooshing—the whooshing of water or of my own blood in my veins, I couldn’t tell.
  • “My father used to call me Pickle,” they replied. “I thought that was pretty cute, but I think Worm takes the cake.”
  • Maybe that was why I thought about luck so much. Luck didn’t have any rules, and I didn’t like that one bit.
Meet the Characters
SOMETIME IN SUMMER begins on Anna Lucia Bell’s fourteenth birthday. Her thirteenth birthday and the year that followed it was kind of rubbish, and she expects more of the same this year. She’s our main character, and the story is told from her first-person perspective. Anna is loyal and kind, but she struggles with self-confidence and identity—especially now, since her best friend has stopped talking to her and her parents are going through a divorce (that she does NOT want them to get).

Miriam Bell is a vivacious, bright, happy force of nature. We find out in the beginning of the book that she’s decided to sell the bookstore she’s owned since Anna was a baby. Anna is not happy about this!

Everett Bell is a quirky, tattoo-covered musician who has recently opened up a tattoo shop of his own, which he’s named Lucia Ink after his daughter. While he has moved out of their family home, he didn’t go too far, and he still comes over ever Friday for dinner.

Jennica is the ex-best-friend who Anna currently isn’t speaking to.

Josh is Anna’s closest friend. He’s a comic book nerd with a heart of gold.

Cece, Josh’s cousin, is a star volleyball player and can usually be found at the beach.

Anna and Miriam decide to spend the summer at a family cottage in Rockport, Massachusetts. It’s there that Anna meets Emmy and Beck, two teens who clearly have a big crush on each other. The three of them become inseparable and start to spend all of their time together. But as the summer progresses, Anna begins to notice something weird about the two of them…

And you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is!

From critically acclaimed author Katrina Leno comes a tender love letter to books and summertime, with a touch of magic.

Anna Lucia Bell believes in luck: bad luck. Bad luck made her best friend stop talking to her. Bad luck caused her parents’ divorce. Bad luck is forcing her mother, Miriam, to sell the family’s beloved bookstore. And it is definitely bad luck that Anna seems to be the only person in the world Miriam is unable to recommend a life-changing book.

When Anna finds out that she and her mom are spending two months in a New England seaside town called Rockport, she expects a summer plagued with bad luck too. But Rockport has surprises in store for Anna, including a comet making its first appearance in over twenty years and two new—but familiar—friends.

In what will prove to be the most important summer of her life so far, Anna learns about love, herself, and the magic that an ordinary summer can bring.

You can purchase Sometime in Summer at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KATRINA LENO for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Sometime in Summer by Katrina Leno.

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Pat Daily Interview - Spark

Photo Content from Pat Daily 

Pat Daily is an engineer and former Air Force test pilot who worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. When not writing or trying to bring new airplane designs to life, Pat can be found gaming online. He is a fan of role-playing games – particularly open worlds with engaging storylines where actions have consequences. Pat and his wife spent twenty years in Houston before moving to central Washington.

Greatest thing you learned at school.
Typing. I didn’t really want to take it, but I needed an elective. It’s been the single most valuable skill I picked up in high school. Unlike Calculus, it’s a skill I use every day.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
In Junior High – I wrote for the school paper and loved it. I turned writing assignments in other classes into a chance to do creative work. “My career goals” became “A Day in the Life of Joe the Bartender.”

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. It’s a compelling story that tells of a boy raised by aliens and how that sets him apart from humanity. It opened my eyes to the concept of truth as a matter of perspective. Outside of SF, I’d go with Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. His prose is so beautiful and flowing. No wasted words and intense emotions from the characters. It’s a tale of betrayal and forgiveness.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
A young man named Matthew sent me a thank-you letter for writing the book. Not a text, or a comment on my blog, an actual, honest-to-God, hand-written, stamped and put in the mail, letter. I’ve kept in on my bulletin board ever since.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
I read John Grisham’s The Chamber. It changed my opinion about capital punishment. The risk of getting it wrong is too high.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
It's the best way to both learn and teach. Stories resonate with us and stick to our minds. They pry into our imaginations and set them afire. Great stories linger and take up residence in our heads. They guide our actions and shape our values.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
At first, they were slaves to my plot and ideas and only gave grudging obedience. That made the story flat. They were silently insolent. Once I understood the characters better and gave them freedom to act in a manner consistent with their personalities and dreams, they gave me a better story. The plot evolved as they evolved.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from SPARK
In SPARK, Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, everyone has an avatar and a name for that avatar. That avatar name ends up being used even outside of the park. The two main characters, WB and Feral Daughter, have a disastrous first meeting. The two approach life very differently. Feral is a hard-ass and a force of nature, famous for having broken the nose of a young man who touched her without her consent. WB is a gentler soul who would rather think his way through a situation than fight a horde of orcs. When romance begins to blossom between the two, WB is terrified to make a move. In this scene, he overcomes his fears, yet is still hesitant.

WB: “It’s uh, well, I’m just really glad that I met you.”

Feral walked slowly over to him until she stood directly in front of him. Her eyes flicked their focus back and forth between his. WB laughed nervously and looked away. She reached up and put her hand gently on his chin, turning his face back towards hers.

“Are you flirting with me?” She said it quietly, with an intensity that made WB feel as if he were standing in a mine field. He met her gaze.


She continued to stare at him with eyes so dark they looked ebony. She dropped her hand and turned away, her ponytail spinning. She walked back to the bin of girls’ clothes and began looking again.

“Okay,” she said, nodding once.

WB didn’t realize he’d been holding his breath until now. He let it out and felt his body relax. “Okay?” What does that mean? He took a step towards her. What now?

“You deflected my question. A minute ago, you said something about wanting more detail. Then you said you were thinking out loud. Then you started flirting.” She gave him a slight smile and Will felt warm again. “What were you thinking about?”

  • Will, or WB, is physically modelled after a friend of mine from years ago. His mother was Korean, and his father was blond and American. My friend ended up with Asian features and carrot-orange hair. That’s Will.
  • The name ShaChri came from those of my daughters: Shannon and Christy.
  • SPARK was originally titled “Solar Prime” after the solar power farm next to the amusement park.
  • I’m a Survivor fan. Will’s father, Yul Kwan, is named after Yul Kwon, who won Survivor: Cook Islands.
  • The AI, Janne, was given that name as a shout-out to Jane, from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.
  • The solar power plant, Solar One, was in the Mojave Desert not far from Barstow. That was the inspiration for Solar Prime.
  • When I lived in Southern California, Barstow was purportedly home to the world’s largest McDonalds. That comes up on SPARK.
  • In the first draft, Will had a dog. It didn’t survive the revisions.
  • Mrs. Derr’s obese Corgi was modeled after my mom’s dog, Lucy. Sorry, Mom!
  • Stan Lee produced a show titled “Who wants to be a superhero?” One of the secret challenges the contestants faced involved a lost little girl. Most of the contestants raced past the crying girl, thereby losing the challenge because what superhero wouldn’t stop to help a lost little girl? That challenge is replicated in SPARK.
Meet the Characters
Will Kwan, or WB, is a quiet guy who frequently gets lost in his thoughts to the point that he’ll stop mid-chew to think about something. Will is brilliant and approaches life on a different vector than most. He’s an orphan who has nightmares about rats that are firmly grounded in reality. He’s a misunderstood survivor who loves baseball. His dad was Korean and his mom was a blonde American. Will ends up looking like Kpop star Bi Rain with bright orange hair.

ShaChri Patel, aka Feral Daughter, is also an orphan. Her parents wanted her to do ballet and join Cotillion. She opted for kendo and mixed martial arts. She has to compete several weight classes above where she belongs in order to be challenged. She is wickedly fast and attacks life the same way she games: full throttle and head on. She has a very low tolerance for idiots and lumps Will into this category when they first meet. She is petite and slender. Her avatar is a high-tech ninja. Beneath that façade, she is a dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty who suffers from acne.

Your Journey to Publication
My family has been incredibly supportive. When I told my wife about the rough outline of the book, she began poking holes in my plot and logic. I reacted poorly. She refused to read a single word until it was published. That was a very appropriate reaction to my insecurity and now that it’s published, she loves the book and has given me insights into the characters that helped with the sequel.

I finished the first draft with the arrogance of a fighter pilot and started querying agents and publishers. I got 22 rejections before I found a publisher. Along the way, my writing groups helped me, and SPARK, get better. I wrote five drafts before Inklings Publishing and Fern Brady said yes. Then they assigned me a wonderful developmental editor who put me through three more drafts. Every one of those drafts was necessary and I’ve grown enough to appreciate honest, tough, feedback. It’s surprisingly hard to find. Everyone is happy to point out that you’ve missed an apostrophe, but few will tell you that it’s boring.

My daughters, my sister, and my college roommate read drafts and slapped me around as necessary. I’m very grateful.

Writing Behind the Scenes
I try to write fast, bad, and wrong. That sentence is an example. I find that if I get the guts of the story out, then in later drafts I can spend more time on research to clean things up. I spent a couple of hours interviewing someone who worked for Child Protective Services to understand the basics of foster care and group homes. Many more hours were spent on solar power.

Names are often shout-outs to people I know and love, or those I loathe, sometimes it’s both love and hate. Occasionally, I just look at my bookshelf and grab a name.

Dreams and games provide a lot of inspiration. I remember my dreams and some aspects of them have made it into my work. RPGs are my go-to choice for gaming. The Witcher, Mass Effect, and Skyrim, all sneak into my creative process.

What is the first job you have had?
Aside from delivering newspapers, my first actual job was as a golf shoe cleaner and shoeshine boy at a golf club in Seattle. What impressed me the most about it was that the manager who ran the club took time to show me the right way to shine shoes. It turns out that there’s more to it than just slapping some polish on them and then hitting them with a brush.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
I wonder when our senior cat will finally stop waking me up by yowling and stomping on my bladder and have the decency to move on to the catnip patch in the sky.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love without hesitation.

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 not, under any circumstances or temptation, date Karen again. Or Denise. What was I thinking?

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
I’m afraid that COVID-19 is just the first part of a two-phase biological weapon. I worry that it’s just softening us up for the killing half.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
A coffin. For a while, this gentleman slept in it. No delusions of being a vampire, he just acquired it and tried it out. I named a character after him.

In his mother's last letter, she wrote, "Find me. Save me." And Will Kwan had heard those words before. He'd heard them in a video game.

Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, or SPARK, is a theme park for gamers: a sprawling virtual reality complex with quests and games that appeal to all ages. But beneath the surface, SPARK harbors many a secret.

When sixteen-year-old Will has to escape the foster system, SPARK, is his destination. "Find me. Save me." What had his mother meant? At SPARK, he runs headlong into the force of nature known as Feral Daughter, another runaway who has chosen to make SPARK her home and her life. As their friendship grows, Will beigins to walk a path that will unveil not only the secrets of SPARK, but also a whole new perception of his world.

So, when terrorists threaten his new home and new friend, Will cannot stand idly by. Can Will finally get his closure? Or will SPARK be destroyed, along with the new life he has built?

You can purchase Spark at the following Retailer:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CREATIVE EDGE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

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