Author Interview – Laila Ibrahim

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Are you a city slicker or a country lover?

City slicker

How did you come up with the title?

I really wrestled with the title.  Then one day when I was re-reading it I realized how important the flower was to the story. It held so many layers of meaning in the story.  And I suddenly knew that was the title.  I love “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker.  It felt resonant and honoring to have a color in the title.

Why does the cover have a purple crocus?

In my mind I pictured something completely for the cover.  The designers at CreateSpace made two mock ups:  the one I suggested and the one that I chose to be the cover.  I immediately loved their idea.  The background is actually a Yellow Crocus.  It is obscure, yet obviously there when pointed out. That is a great metaphor for the novel.  The story of Mattie and Lisbeth was repeated over and over in plain site, yet it is obscured in history.

How do you feel about self-publishing?

I am very grateful for it.  Yellow Crocus would not be in the world without it.  Ironically when I first published I made the Kindle edition as an after thought.  But that has proved to be the best way to get Yellow Crocus into the world.

Do you know your neighbors?

We are very close to many of our neighbors.  We have weekly potlucks in the spring.  I noticed the other day that I have keys to about 6 houses for the folks around me.  I love being connected to the people around me.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences in the plot?

I think you can tell I am a birth doula when you read Yellow Crocus.  As I wrote the birth scenes I realized how rarely we read about child birth and breast feeding in novels, yet they are such an important part of life.  I wanted to capture the intensity of birth and the intimacy of breastfeeding.

When I imagined Lisbeth at different ages, I channelled different children in my life.

Yellow Crocus 

In 1837, Lisbeth Wainwright is born to the white mistress of a sprawling Virginia plantation. Seconds later, she is delivered into the arms of her black wet nurse, Mattie. For a field hand like Mattie, her transfer to the big house is supposed to be considered an honor—except that the move tears Mattie away from her beloved grandfather and her infant son, Samuel. But Mattie is a slave, with no say in the matter, and so she devotes herself to her master’s daughter, though she longs to be raising her own child. Growing up under Mattie’s tender care, little Lisbeth adopts the woman’s deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring.

As the years pass, Lisbeth is drawn slowly back into her white parents’ world and begins to learn the ins and outs of life for a high-born young lady. Still she retains her connection to Mattie, befriending Samuel and drifting comfortably between the two worlds. She accepts her parents’ assertion that their slaves depend upon them for guidance and protection, yet that notion becomes more and more difficult to believe as she gains awareness of the inequality of life in the big house versus the slave quarters. When, on the threshold of her society wedding to debonair Edward Cunningham, Lisbeth bears witness to a shockingly brutal act, the final vestiges of her naiveté crumble around her. Just twenty-one years old, she is forced to choose between what is socially acceptable and what is right, a decision that will change her life forever.

This compelling historical novel chronicles young Lisbeth Wainwright’s coming-of-age during one of the most difficult chapters of American history. Lisbeth’s powerful bond with Mattie makes her loss of innocence in the face of society’s ugly secrets all the more heartbreaking, and yet it is the courage she learns from her stand in mother that enables Lisbeth to blaze a new path for herself. Yellow Crocus offers moving proof of how the greatest social change often blooms forth from small personal acts of love.

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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG-13

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Author Interview – A.M. Griffin @AMGriffinbooks #LovingDangerously

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Are you reading any interesting books at the moment? I’ve got about 150 books in my TBR. They all sound interesting and I’m hoping to finally get through them all. I keep telling myself that I won’t buy another until I can get this list down, but I just picked up Breeder by Cara Bristol the other day. I think maybe I’ll remove the “Once Click” option on Amazon and see if that helps to curtail my buying spree.

What contributes to making a writer successful? Readers! A writer cannot be successful without a reader base. Keep in touch with readers, engage them. Readers will let you know if your characters are on point or if you’ve missed the mark. While we can’t make everyone happy, a collective reader base will help to guide a series.

Do you have any advice for writers? Never give up on their dreams. Writing is often solitary. I would suggest making writer friends. Friends will help you bounce ideas around and they can also help serve as emotional outlets or comic reliefs. With friends you’ll find that what you are going through, they probably are or have before.

What do you do to unwind and relax? I like to read for pleasure and watch mindless television. Since I’ve become a writer it’s been harder and harder to read for pleasure. Instead of reading I begin editing the book which makes it seem like work. If I can get past the first few chapters of a book I’m happy. That means I’m so engrossed in the story that I’m forgetting about “work”. There’s a few authors that I know can get me wrapped up in the story, Dean Koontz, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Joey W. Hill are just a few.

Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us? In May I’ll be in New Orleans for RT. This is my first time at RT and I’m excited about it. I’m even hosting a party with some other author friends. I’m looking forward to meeting with readers and signing books.

What made you want to be a writer? My mother writes so it was something that I grew up seeing and being around. I remember growing up and she’d always be at her desk on her typewriter. I didn’t know then that’s what I wanted to do, but as the stories in my head began to take shape and my characters became louder and louder I knew what I had to do. Eva from Dangerously Mine (Loving Dangerously #1) was the first character that I wanted to complete. She’s so strong that it was no way that I couldn’t have ignored her any longer.

Dangerously Hers

Jess hates aliens. After the invasion that destroyed Earth, the extraterrestrial bastards sold her to a brothel as a sex slave. She may have escaped but the old memories and fears still linger in the dark corners of her mind. Supposedly Sonis is just the place for her—somewhere safe, where she can heal and start fresh. She’s almost hopeful…until she meets Rasha, her new boss.

Rasha, captain of the Sonis Royal Guard, is a warrior through and through. He’s huge, sinfully sexy and could have any woman on Sonis—but the woman he wants is Jess. He’s very much an alien and Jess knows she should hate him or at least be wary, but whenever he’s around, she loses control. She tells herself it’s only sex—amazing, mind-blowing sex like nothing else she’s ever experienced—but there’s something about Rasha that shakes her soul. The feel of his skin against hers, the look in his eyes as he touches her—they make her want to believe it’s possible to find love and begin again.

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Genre – Science fiction

Rating – R

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Author Interview – Beca Lewis @becalewis

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How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?

I think they are useful, and I am happy they exist. However, It’s a balancing act to find a way to be professional with them, and still build a community of people that care what you do.

If you could do any job in the world what would you do?

Happily, I would do exactly what I am doing now – writing, coaching, speaking.

What makes you angry?

Injustice!

Are you a city slicker or a country lover?

I am both. I have happily lived in downtown Los Angeles, and happily in the country. Home is definitely where the heart is, and not an environment. I do admit now though, that the country and quiet has seeped into my soul and it would take some adjustment to go back to the hustle bustle of a city.

Who designed the cover?

I design our covers, but with design help (and photos) from my daughter Laurie Lewis-Knoedler at hedgerowrose.com

Who is your publisher?

I had a “regular” publisher for my first book, but ended up forming my own publishing company (perceptionpublishing.com) and publishing myself.

Why did you choose to write this particular book?

Living In Grace: The Shift To Spiritual Perception is the book I had to write. I knew if nothing else happened in my life, if I wrote and published that book, I would have accomplished what needed to be done.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Getting it right was the hardest part.  I kept teaching The Shift® System to test out what I was writing about, and then putting the book in the order that worked the best in classes.  I wrote the book over at least 4 times, and over a 5 year period before I was satisfied with it.

Living In Grace

“A refreshing and powerful new look at the results of shifting perceptions to your true spiritual nature.” Alan Cohen, author of My Father’s View

A profound, thought provoking guide to shifting perceptions to reveal what is hidden in plain sight: heaven on earth.

If you are tired of fooling around with material-based thinking that only puts Band-Aids on problems, and if you are ready to choose spiritual perception and the spiritual solution, than Living In Grace: The Shift to Spiritual Perception is the answer.

In this book, I will guide you through powerful-proven-practical-perception-shifting exercises and personally teach you useful tools for shifting anytime, anywhere, and any situation.

You will find yourself restudying the book over and over again because each time your perception shifts you will experience greater insight into Reality.

Living In Grace, provides practical tools like The 7 Steps To Shift and an eight step-by-step system based on the word GRACIOUS, which makes the necessary process of perception-shifting easy to remember and simple to use.

Chapter by chapter, the reader is taken on an inner journey that encourages her to achieve her goals, and in so doing, lead a spiritual life.

This book will be a constant companion for every advanced or beginning student of spirituality. It provides answers about the nature of God, and his children, for every honest seeker of Truth simply and elegantly.

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Genre – Spirituality, Non-Fiction

Rating – G

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Website http://www.becalewis.com

Author Interview – Johannah Reardon @JoHannahReardon

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What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

Writing 11 books! Scratch that—raising three children to adulthood. They are definitely what I am most proud of.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

We lived in the country and I spent a lot of time alone, which was good fuel for my imagination. I also read constantly, since books were my companions.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Yes, since I was a teenager I wanted to tell my grandmother’s story because she had such an interesting life. I finally did in my book Gathering Bittersweet.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for almost 30 years now. That includes books, articles, blogs, and ghostwriting.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Children’s fairy tale/ fantasy. I can let my imagination run wild and say the truly important things. It’s easy and fun for me. When I’ve been working on something difficult like a commentary or a mystery, I take a break and write a children’s story. It’s very refreshing!

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

Barbara Kingsolver hugely influenced me after I’d written several novels. After reading her descriptive work, I went back over my books and added a flourish that she inspired.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Sticking with it. I love beginning a novel. Coming up with the idea is my favorite part, but somewhere in the middle it gets really hard. It’s often difficult to keep the momentum going. I’d rather just come up with a new idea. So, I have to discipline myself to stay with it.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Of course! I just determine to keep going. I get something down, even if I have to go back and rewrite it the next day. Or sometimes I take a few days off and do something entirely different. Often I can then return with a fresh perspective.

The Crumbling Brick

Ella is a bored, inner-city girl trying to fill the long, monotonous days of her summer vacation. As she keeps a promise to her mother to clean the cellar, she discovers a crumbling brick behind an old trunk. Even though it’s raining outside, sunlight pours through the opening. Intrigued, she chips away at the brick to find the source of the light. To her astonishment, she finds another land beyond her cellar wall, gripped in the freshness of spring.

In the land of Neo, she makes new, unusual friends, discovers breathtaking beauty, and learns of Kosmeo who will guide and direct her during all of her adventures. She discovers Kosmeo has brought her here for a purpose. Princess Onyma must choose a suitor who will eventually rule all of Neo. Many of the citizens of Neo are threatened during this perilous time of choice between good and evil. Can Ella save this beautiful kingdom from disaster? THE CRUMBLING BRICK is told in the tradition of C. S. Lewis’s and George MacDonald’s fairy tales.

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Genre – Fairy tale, Fantasy

Rating – G

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Website https://www.johannahreardon.com

Author Interview – NS Wikarski

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully, I’ll be on a world cruise visiting all the places I’ve written about but have never seen. Assuming, of course, that the Arkana series is finished.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment? My reading tastes have gone retro lately – primarily Victorian authors. For about a year, I was reading Wilkie Collins novels. I’ve now moved on to H. Rider Haggard. I love the unhurried way that a Victorian narrative develops. It’s a relief to step away from our contemporary sound byte culture. Victorians used language in a much more elegant way than we do now. It feels quaint and cozy and quite relaxing to read something from that era.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? I am so very grateful to the loyal fans who’ve written to me via my Facebook page to tell me how much they enjoy the Arkana series. Since writing is a solitary occupation, it’s wonderful to know that my words have reached somebody out there – that I was able to entertain, amuse, and even spark new thoughts about some old topics. I appreciate the encouragement to keep going.

What do you do to unwind and relax? I enjoy hiking and gardening. Anything that gets me out of doors and away from the keyboard. There’s also a lot to be said for mindlessly staring at the TV at the end of the day.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing? Since I value my independence, writing is a fantastic career for someone who dislikes a conventional office routine. As long as I have an internet connection and a computer, I can work from anywhere. For the past several years, I’ve spent my winters as a snowbird while still working on my novels. That’s something I could never do if I were in another line of work.

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? Believe in yourself, even when nobody else does. If you can see the best that’s in you, eventually everybody else will see it too.

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? No matter how unlikely it seemed at any given point in time, my dreams always came true. I got to do everything I wanted with my life.

What is the one question you never get asked and would like to get asked in an interview? Please ask and answer it. The question would be, “Do you enjoy writing?” Shockingly enough, my answer would be “No.” I think there are writers who are in love with the process of writing itself. They keep journals, maintain blogs, write poetry. I don’t like doing any of those things. I take a much more utilitarian approach. For me, writing is a means to an end. I’m in love with the idea, the concept, that I want to convey to a reader. Writing is just the vehicle that gets me there.

THE ARKANA SERIES: Archaeological Thrillers That Defy History
Volume One – The Granite Key

“Think ‘MEDIUM meets THE LOST SYMBOL’ and it only begins to describe the pleasures of THE GRANITE KEY – 5 Stars.” (Kindle Nation)

A Wake-Up Call
In a nightmare, nineteen year old Cassie Forsythe sees her sister attacked by a man in a cowboy hat who demands something called “the key.” Her nightmare mutates into reality before the night is over. Cassie is called to identify her sister’s body–murdered exactly as her dream foretold. Cassie dismisses her vision as a fluke and fights to get on with her life. Disconnected and aimless now that her only family is gone, she drifts until the evening when she catches the man in the cowboy hat ransacking her sister’s apartment. He bolts with an odd-looking stone cylinder–the granite key. From that moment, Cassie’s normal world evaporates.

A Secret Society
She learns that her sister led a double life–retrieving artifacts for a secret organization called the Arkana. The Arkana’s leader, an elder named Faye, explains that her group performs a controversial kind of archaeology. They scour the globe for evidence of ancient pre-patriarchal civilizations in hopes of salvaging the lost history of the world. Their network of troves safeguards artifacts from highly sophisticated goddess-worshipping cultures on every continent. Cassie’s sister had the psychic ability to touch an artifact and relive its past. Cassie has now inherited this gift. Faye wants the girl to take over her sister’s role in the organization. Cassie doubts her powers but agrees. Now an insider, she is transported to the Arkana’s mysterious underground vault in the countryside outside Chicago where the group tackles the mystery of her sister’s murder.

A Dangerous Cult
The Arkana learns that the man in the cowboy hat is a hired mercenary named Leroy Hunt and that he is working for a fundamentalist religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. He takes his orders directly from the cult’s domineering prophet–Abraham Metcalf. The granite key which Leroy stole is inscribed with hieroglyphics revealing the location of a mythological artifact reputed to have mystical powers–the Sage Stone. Although skeptical of its legendary capabilities, the Arkana is still afraid to allow the relic to fall into the cult’s hands. Abraham’s fanatical belief in the power of the Sage Stone could be the catalyst to start a war of religious genocide.

Unlocking The Key
Before she died, Cassie’s sister took photos of the strange markings on the granite key. The Arkana decodes the hieroglyphics which point to the ancient ruins of Minoan Crete as the hiding place of the Sage Stone. Faye hastily assembles a retrieval team including Cassie, her newly-appointed bodyguard Erik, and a British researcher named Griffin. The band of treasure hunters is mismatched and wildly dysfunctional from the start. Griffin has never gone on a field mission, Erik treats his inexperienced colleagues with contempt, and Cassie second-guesses her psychic hunches. She battles to prove herself to Erik at every turn. Their internal clashes rival the bigger crisis of what to do when they come face to face with their enemies.

A Matter Of Life Or Death
Even as they rake through megalithic tombs and Minoan palaces for clues, Abraham dispatches his son Daniel and hired gun Leroy Hunt to recover the Sage Stone. The Nephilim operatives won’t hesitate to kill anyone standing in their way. Will Cassie and her teammates avert global disaster or find themselves casualties of Abraham’s mania to exterminate the world of unbelievers? The Granite Key holds the answer.

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Genre – Archaeology / Thriller

Rating – PG

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Author Interview – Greg Sandora @gregsandora

Take a Journey for the Greater Good in this intensely gripping, loving thriller. Join Jack Canon and his insanely loyal team of friends and family as they make their all-or-nothing run for the presidency. You’ll laugh out loud and have your heart ripped in two; all while holding your breath, sitting on the edge of your chair. You’ll become emotionally committed as you find yourself standing behind your new courageous – unstoppable heroes – forced to take unimaginable steps to reach their goal. You’ll be shocked at the heart-wrenching cost.

JACK CANON’S AMERICAN DESTINY – TO SOMEDAY HAVE THE POWER, TO DEDICATE THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE LAND–TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT. THIS TIME HE’S ALL IN.

Meghan’s Review. this reader captured the essence of the Story of Jack Canon. Both men and woman will enjoy the book.

“‘Jack Canon’s American Destiny’ is one of those intense political thrillers that simply deserve to be made into a movie for full, complete enjoyment. This is especially true right in the wake of the recent Academy Awards and movies like ‘Argo’ and ‘Lincoln’ bringing home the bacon. But on its own, this book is immersive—you can live and breathe in the world of Jack Canon—his full range of concerns, from picayune to grandiose, consists of things that are close to every American’s heart.

Jack Canon is an everyman—you can relate to his positive traits, even his minor character flaws, and mostly you can relate to his will get the presidency. Cleverly written, sprinkled with the right amount of “spice” to keep the level of interest high, ‘American Destiny’ is a tale that grips your heart and squeeze it—Jack Canon’s mission to redistribute wealth and give everybody cheap energy is not exactly acceptable in the eyes (and pockets) of those whose businesses will be affected. And from there, the plot thickens.

Finishing the book, your heart aches because you know Jack Canon isn’t real—he’s an ideal, made magically alive by the sheer talent of Greg Sandora. But that doesn’t mean we cannot aspire. As in the book’s timeline, 2016, maybe the book is telling us to be really, really wise in our choices. Meanwhile, download a copy of this book and sink your teeth in the kind of literary entertainment I’ve never seen since Alex Cross.”

Joanna’s Review. “Jack Canon is an idealist. He’s on the road to fight the good fight and the only road that will allow him to do that is the one leading to the White House. Great plan, but plans don’t always end up going the way we want. This Senior Democratic Senator from Kentucky is a kind, smart, charismatic family man. He is a man of superior intelligence who isn’t afraid to admit to a mistake. He has always been faithful, but he has a very intimate, hands off relationship with Sandy his assistant. Hopefully this won’t derail his campaign…

“Jack Canon’s American Destiny” is a sly ride on a slippery slope. This fast paced thriller is packed with political issues that mirror what we have going on today. If you notice, the villains are a conglomerate of who we have deadly problems with right now, so it echoes what we deal with on the global level at this time.

The author, Greg Sandora, manages to introduce all this well written madness in a way that will keep you glued to this book. Sandora has used well flushed out characters, timely villains, an image of our present president therefore the actions are very relatable to the reader.

Want to have some fun? Want to read something that will have you dangling over the edge of a cliff in that good way that starts your heart pumping and your adrenaline kicking in?”

Diane’s review .“I rarely choose a book about politics, but since becoming addicted to the hit show Scandal, I thought Jack Canon`s American Destiny might be an interesting read. To my amazement, I totally enjoyed this political thriller.

Allow me to congratulate the author on his impressive debut. As a writer, he has a talent that allows an immediate connection with his characters, especially Jack.

The book moves at a relaxing pace. But I must admit, I became extremely absorbed when the author reveals an unexpected twist making it a suspenseful page turner!

I can’t wait to read the highly anticipated sequel.”

Jackie’s review. “Get ready to take a ride. The suspense, the loyalty, the inside world of politics all wrapped into a thriller you will not want to put down. I am recommending this to my book club and any book club who wants a good read for a change.”

Terry’s Review. I have read this book in it’s infancy stage and was amazed. The final product riveting. Ben Affleck, you are the perfect Director, Producer and Actor to be Jack Canon. It is ready for the big screen. Read it now and you will want more of Jack. This book will inspire your next election choice. We need a real life Jack Canon for President. Move over Alex Cross, here comes a new generation hero. This is a story that can take many turns and always keep you waiting for the next chapter. It is written from the heart with passion, but with some hope for all Americans that fiction can be real if you only want it bad enough. So for you politicians out there that want to be the next President, read this book.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Political Thriller

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.gregsandora.com/

Author Interview – Dylan Madrid @4DylanMadrid

What’s your next project?

I have just finished my next novel. It’s a romantic spy thrilled called Love in the Shadows. It will be available in January from my publisher Bold Strokes Books. I’m very excited about Love in the Shadows because it’s the first novel in a trilogy. This will be my first series. It was a very fun novel to write. I can’t wait to see if my readers love it as much I do.

What books have had the greatest influence on you?

In Mind Fields, there’s a lot of influence of Jane Austen’s classic Northanger Abbey. More than any other novel I’ve written, there’s a more gothic feel and mood in this particular book. In terms of my other writing, I really love the classics. I find myself constantly going back to books like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and authors like Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams to study the brilliant architecture of how and what they wrote. There’s so much to learn from them. In terms of contemporary literature I really admire the works of Julia Alvarez, Jo Ann Beard, Sandra Cisneros, Joyce Carol Oates, and Meg Wolitzer.

What books did you love growing up?

When I was young, I discovered my mother’s collection of Nancy Drew books. I read the entire series. I was fascinated by the sense of mystery and solving a crime. I also read a lot of young adult fiction, particularly Judy Blume, Norma Fox Mazer, and Lois Duncan. Anyone who reads my work will see the influence of those authors. At the age of twelve I read every Jackie Collins book I could get my hands on. She knows how to tell a great story – especially a glamorous one. Later I discovered Dorothy Parker and Jane Austen and fell in love with their words.

What book should everybody read at least once?

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg. It’s hilarious, poignant, and beautifully written. I first read the novel when I was ten years old. By the end of the first page I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.

I just finished reading Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. Growing up, she was my muse. A lot of my friends were really into Madonna, but not me. Cyndi Lauper showed the world it was okay to be different, that creativity should be valued and respected and revered. I adore her. To this day, I’m greatly inspired by her commitment to be her and no one else. Individuality wasn’t exactly the cool thing in the early 80s, but she did exactly what she wanted. She busted her ass to become successful and she never gave up. In the book she talks about one of her favorite personal sayings: “In the darkest place, shed the brightest light.” I take those words to heart. They are words to write and live by.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why?

I’m really enjoying the work of paranormal romance author Kait Ballenger. She knows how to craft a compelling story.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

The teacher in me says to study your craft. You owe it to your writing and your readers to know about technique and style. It is very important to write as often as possible. Frequency not only makes you a stronger writer, but it can help you strengthen your voice and lead you to discoveries about your work.

Mind Fields

Sometimes love can blow you away.

When struggling college student Adam Parsh accepts a tutoring position, he is immediately drawn into the unknown world of the wealthy Vassalo family. Fighting off the sexual advances of Dario Vassalo, the Greek tycoon and patriarch, Adam finds himself the object of the dangerous desires of one of the most powerful men in the world—his married employer. Torn between his attraction to Dario and his deepening love for his best friend, Victor Maldonado, Adam is forced to choose between right and wrong. Surrounded by lust, glamour, and greed, Adam soon uncovers dark secrets strong enough to destroy lives forever.

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Genre – Gay Romance, Suspense

Rating – R

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Connect with Dylan Madrid on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://dylanmadrid.blogspot.com