Thursday, February 28, 2019

Past, Present, Future #1- African American History


by Toi Thomas

For those of you who don’t live in the U.S., please stick around and read this article anyway. You’ll find that it’s probably not what you expect it to be.


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The Past

So, I’ve been keeping myself busy in the month of February. A little too busy, but that’s nothing unusual. I tasked myself with the challenge of starting 28 graphic novels, not necessarily finishing them all, and have been sharing the experience on social media with the hashtag #28daysofgraphicnovles (find it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Part of the challenge included me starting each installment of the MARCH series.









This is a series I highly recommend to young people and anyone who thinks they understand the civil rights movement but can’t remember or recall exactly what happened and or what it all really means.

Since this blog is for readers and authors, I’d thought I’d also share this article I found about the 10 Black Authors Everyone Should Read. This article contains so many names I grew up hearing and reading about, yet as an adult so many of my peers (black, white, others included) have not heard of these writers or have ever read any of their writings. I’ll be the first to admit that I too have not read many of their works but do have them on my eternal TBR. In all honesty, I sometimes struggle to read content that I know will reflect my personal black struggle, but I do reconcile to face those obstacles in my own time. 

For instance, I read a book of poems and one of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies back in high school, but I haven't revisited those or read more since. They were hard to read, but I’m glad I read them and will read more when the time is right for me.

The Present

I thought I’d share a few books with you, that I’ve read, containing black characters. These books have not necessarily been written by black people and are likely not to be about “the black struggle,” and that’s precisely why I’m sharing these. I think sometimes, people assume that if they read or watch anything about a black person (or other minority), it automatically has to come with some sort of racial issue or dilemma when it really doesn’t.
















Here's a bit of variety for you. Twenty Yawns has absolutely nothing to do with the little girl in the book being black, she just happens to be black. 

The Warrior is a standalone prequel, to a multicultural YA Fantasy series, focusing on one of the main black characters (I adore the Spellbringers series). 

Wires and Nerves is a spinoff graphic novel from the Cinder series (an amazing multicultural YA Sci-fi series I adore) about an android who's current form is that of a black woman. What I love most about this character is that her biggest struggle is being an android, not anything else. 

In Turn Tables (A Reel Romance sequel) the main two characters are a black woman and a Hispanic man. 

She Died In My Arms is the prequel to a series I've been meaning to read but haven't yet started. It's a world of black characters (I assume there are other races, but I've only read the prequel.) 

Lastly, I'm currently reading about Bass Reeves, a black U.S. Marshall in "Indian" Territory, said to be the original inspiration for the character of The Lone Ranger. His life is enough on its own to make him a legend. 

Here's an article I found on 28 Brilliant Books by Black Authors in 2018. Some of these are on my current TBR.

The Future

I want to read more books from black authors and about black characters, but more so, I want to read more stories that reflect the multiculturalism of the world I currently live in. I want to read about cultures other than my own, and I want other people to do the same. 











These are just a small few of the kinds of books I wish more people would talk about, whether there's a special cultural or racial awareness observation or not. Many people argue that Black History should be American History, and while I agree, I don't believe that it's a reality. At least not now. Perhaps someday, no one group will feel the need to be observed and recognized because all will be. 

American History will someday be African, Hispanic, Asian, Native, Irish, etc...
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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Building Believable Worlds

Rebecca Tran
Image by Comfreak on Pixabay
Creating a believable world in your book can be more challenging for some authors than others. Genre, setting, and time period have the largest influence on the world you are building. Typically, books set in the real world in modern times are the easiest to write. However, research is key if you plan to set your story in an actual city or location. You never know when a reader that lives in or has visited that city. If your details are incorrect, they will notice, and you will hear about it.

Period pieces are more forgiving depending on your genre. Most readers are not history buffs, but
Image by alan9187 on Pixabay
they probably read the genre. Again research your time period. You want to include enough historically accurate details to keep your world believable. I like to say the devil is in the details. Costuming, weapons, and the style of buildings all lend realism.

Try to use reliable sources when researching time periods. Be especially careful when researching costuming choices. Thanks to Hollywood there are many mixups out there. Wikipedia is wrong from time to time so be careful. There are other sources available from universities and historical societies. These sources tend to be more reliable.

Image by KELLEPICS on Pixabay
The hardest yet most fun world to craft is a fantasy world. The first thing you have to figure out is setting and a general time period. For example, is your world similar to earth now or is it an alien world with three moons and very little technology. Everything builds from here. This will determine costumes, building styles, weapons, and even dialogue.

When building your world, your characters may have a need to travel, and everywhere they go needs a name. Naming towns can be challenging. There are several methods to name cities, towns and even streets. Many websites offer name generators; some are better than others. I personally never cared for using them although they are fun to play with. You can reuse city names if they fit with your character naming scheme. My personal favorite is to collect street and subdivision names. Many of them fit in well with the fantasy books I write. For instance, Meadowbrook is a local street name and would make an excellent town name.  I used to keep a notebook in my purse or car at all times for ideas or good names. Now I just put them in the notes section on my phone.


I am a blogger and author of fantasy and romance novels. I have two small children a Boston Terrier and a Pitbull. I love all things sci-fi and fantasy. Comic books and anime are always welcome in my house, and Doctor Who is my favorite show.
Currently, I have 11 titles available ranging from sci-fi, fantasy, and romance. My current favorite series is my dragon shifter series: Dragons of the North and Dragons of the South 1& 2. If you would like to learn more about me or my books you can find it at these links.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Winds of Change by Tricia Drammeh

Today, I was sitting in my living room, coughing like crazy, thinking about what I was going to write about for my blog post here at #OurAuthorGang. It seems like I've been sick, busy, and stressed ever since 2019 took hold. It's cold, snowy, and I feel miserable. I'm ready for spring, but here in New England, we are still in the grips of winter.



As the wind whipped outside, I began thinking about how quickly the weather can change. The wind can bring in a cold front - or a warm front. The wind can bring in a storm, or carry one away. The wind can be destructive or it can be refreshing. 

Do you see the winds of change as a positive thing or as something negative and frightening? We all undergo many changes throughout our lifetime. My mom always says "change is the only constant thing in life." That is so true. 

As someone who is usually resistant to change, I have come to accept that I have no choice in the matter. Things are always changing. I must change too. But, I must also learn to accept. Just like there are seasons that add structure (and variety!) to each year, there are also seasons during our lifetimes that we must accept and embrace. 

I could go on and on, but I think this song says it much better than I can:




Monday, February 25, 2019

Cursed Bloodline by Erika M Szabo

They look alike, but one of them is broken on the inside
 
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Writers can get inspiration anywhere, and any time.
The idea to write this novella came to me when I found an old letter from grandma in my drawer where I keep precious holiday cards and letters. I saved that yellowed letter because I loved her neat handwriting.
It doesn't take much to trigger a writer's imagination, so I started thinking. What if... what if this letter was written by an ancestor who lived hundreds of years ago? What if it would contain information that could save someone in the present? From that moment, the story started to form in my mind.
I imagined Sofia as a med student who is planning to spend the summer in Hungary with her brother who is an archeologist. On the flight she meets a man who turns out to be her puppy love from long time ago.
Jayden finds a leather book in his grandmother's secret room that was written in 426 by a shaman. Sofia can read the ancient runes, and they learn about their family's curse. If it remains unbroken, the curse will bring tragedy and ruin their lives as it destroyed many of their ancestors' lives for centuries.
Can they find the way to break the curse? Could Sofia find happiness with her long-lost friend?
When I had the rough outline of the story, the words started to pour, and I added a lot more secrets, historical facts and legends as well as suspenseful moments to keep the readers at the edge of their seats.
 
 
 


 
 


 
A short excerpt:
Jayden hurried toward the parking garage, pulling Sofia’s luggage.
“Slow down, Jay,” Sofia cried out as she lagged behind with her carry-on bag. “I can’t keep up if you’re running like that.”
“Sorry.” Jayden looked back and slowed down, “I’m so eager to show you what I’ve found.”
“What is it?” Sofia tried to catch her breath.
“It’s kind of a book made of leather sheets sewn together. It’s written with ancient Hun runes. I think the letters were burned into the leather. I should’ve learned from Grandma to read it like you did.”
“That’s so exciting.” Sofia started walking faster. “Did you bring it with you?”
“Yes, it’s in the car, I thought you could start translating it on the ride home. Here is my car in this row.”
They reached the old Porsche that was their grandma’s car and Jayden packed Sofia’s luggage into the trunk. He reached into the back and pulled a duffel bag from the back seat. He opened the zipper and took out a package wrapped in old-looking leather sheets. When Jayden unwrapped it, inside she saw the book made of leather sheets sewn together.
Jayden handed it to Sofia and asked, “What do you think?”
She fingered the soft leather, “It’s old and still so pliable,” she mused. “Look, the Sacred Turul is burned into the cover.”
“May the sacred Turul protect you on your journey,” they chanted the ancient line that every Hun whispered when they saw a falcon, alive or in a picture. The spirit of the falcon called Turul in ancient Hun mythology is believed to be the protector of the Huns.
Sofia got into the passenger seat, opened the book and scanned the pages. Jayden started the engine and pulled out of the parking space. The traffic was heavy in the city, but soon they were driving northeast on the smooth highway.
“So, what do you think?” Jayden asked.
“Wow! Let me read it.” Sofia turned to the first page and started translating.
***
I am Zoan, the humble Shaman of the Roaring Falcon tribe. I’m going to write Elana’s story in detail with the hope that the descendants of Elana could read this and break the powerful curse. It happened on the third moon of the year, the events that led to Tuana’s curse. The day Elana was forced to leave her happy childhood behind and take the reality and responsibilities of adulthood.
***
Sofia lowered the book to her lap and turned to her brother, “Jay, could this be written so long ago?”
“I think so, or rather hope so. Please read on.”
Sofia lifted the book, and said, “I’m winging it here because I’m not familiar with this word átokja, but I think it is the old version of átok, which means curse. Also, there is another phrase— akarata erősségje. I think it means powerful.”
“Just do your best and you can do a more detailed translation later.”
“Okay, here it goes.”
***
Elana, unaware of her fate, gave her horse a gentle squeeze with her knees, to run faster. Willow zigzagged between the jurtas that were lined up in a semicircle, leaving a broad plaza in the middle. Elana glanced up at the tall wooden pole that stood in the center of the square. It had intricate designs carved into it and was painted with brilliant colors. On top of it was a giant carved falcon, standing with wings open wide, as if it was getting ready to take flight. Oh, I’m so late; my mother is going to kill me, she thought and prompted her horse to run faster. An old woman who was carrying firewood stopped and shook her head in disapproval. “These youngsters are riding like demons,” she mumbled, looking after Elana.
Elana reached her home. She slid off the mare’s back in a hurry and fastened the horse’s rein to a wooden pole. Her breaths came in short puffs, and her rosy cheeks glistened with perspiration. She patted the horse’s neck, gave her an armful of hay, and poured fresh water from a leather bag that hung on the pole into a clay bowl. She whispered, “I have to hurry, but I’ll be back soon, Willow, promise.”
She hurried up to the entrance of the tent-like building, called Jurta, with a few long strides. She parted her kaftan-like dark blue overcoat, pulled up her baggy trousers, and smoothed her tunic that her mother had adorned with delicate flower designs. Elana pulled the leather entrance cover aside with a heavy sigh, and she braced herself mentally for the long lecture that she knew she must endure.
As usual, she was late for her herbal lessons with her mother, a beautiful, statuesque, dark-haired woman who slowly rose from a curved sofa-like piece of furniture. Soft light coming from the opening at the ceiling shone on her green, delicately-decorated calf-length tunic that she wore with loose black trousers. Her hair was braided with thin leather thongs and hugged her shoulders.
Elana took off her boots and placed them by the entrance. She winced when Mara’s high-pitched, angry voice hit her like a whip. “You are late, again, young lady! Didn’t I tell you to be home by the time the sun reaches the head of the Falcon? Look!” she pointed at the pole through the door.
Elana quickly let the leather curtain slide back to cover the door, dutifully bowed, and whispered, “Yes, Mother. Sorry, Mother.”
She always wanted to please her mother, she really did, but she could rarely live up to her expectations. Luckily, Mara’s anger and lectures were as brief as summer storms, so Elana obediently stood by the entrance and lowered her eyelids to hide the playful twinkle in her eyes. Her long, black hair, which was braided in thin rows, slid off her shoulders as she bowed her head, and she adjusted her delicately-woven horsetail headband that kept the stray hairs out of her face. Elana took a hesitant step forward on the thick, wool carpet that covered the dirt floor of the Jurta.
“Where were you?”
“We were… I was… I got some herbs, too. Look!” Elana hoped that she could divert her mother’s attention, so she quickly opened the leather pouch that contained some flowers that she had collected. Lying wasn’t in her nature but concealing the truth a little by trailing the conversation away from the sensitive subject was widely used in her tribe, especially by teenagers.
 
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Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Ghosts of Morgan Street - A psychological thriller

By P. J. Mann


Every time I think about how I started to conceive this story, it breaks my heart. The Ghosts of Morgan Street, far from being a horror tale talking about dead people coming to haunt the night sleep of the living one, are those people living at the margin of the society.
They are homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes.
Some of those come from a traumatic past from which they could not get out, others had a successful life, but recession took from them everything.
All those people are living in a community they've built up for them.
Harri, a gentleman from Finland, is the man that opened me the way to this novel. He had a life, a job, and a family. After the recession, he could not find anymore a job, and lost the house, giving up to alcoholism.
He lives in the park with other homeless, and when it's too cold, he can ask Police to host him to the jail for the night, at least he would have a dry place where to stay.

I have envisioned him as the man that will create a bond with the main character of the story, Jake, a young man rejected by the family, Patrick Blackwell. He is the man who, regardless of the fact of having lost everything, still finds the strengths to hope for something positive to happen, a chance to get back to what he'd lost. The great chance seem to arrive with the swearing of the new State Governor,

Darren Lewis, a man, determined to listen to the problems and needs of the homeless community.

Of course, together with the tale of their lives, I have inserted in the story my personal touch; a dark twist, a mystery that Jake will have to solve together with a friend ready to help him out, the chief Detective of NYPD, Ayden Boone.
 
Excerpt:

Darren turned his gaze to the car's window; the sun was starting to set, and people were talking to each other sitting on old mattresses. Those were the ghosts, invisible, yet too upsetting to be real ghosts.
Some of them looked lazily at him, but it was as if they were not even paying attention, it was as if they were both looking at a far image.
Too far to be even concerned about each other, he thought, “how can it be that we reached this point?” He suddenly wondered.
“We reached it because we focused only on what can gain a profit. We started to put economic growth in front of everything, and we forgot that not everybody can follow the same growth. Therefore, instead of slowing the pace, we figured that there was something wrong with people who cannot walk as fast as the others. They are the cause of their misery, and we all should forget about them. We believed that they are not as useful as people who can run faster and produce more, and that is when we transformed them into ghosts. We taught our children to despise people who are not strong enough to stand the rhythm of industrial production. Everybody has the duty to contribute to the economic growth of the homeland; everybody needs to sacrifice for it. It is not a question of whether you will get anything back from your sacrifice because nothing will be returned. We have indoctrinated our children to produce without asking, to be proud just of the fact of being part of the big machine. We raised perfect slaves, and when slaves cannot perform, we can discard them and forget about them. We convinced ourselves that this is the right way; that is what we have done, Sir.”

Buy The Ghosts of Morgan Street here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07C9RJVK6
Available also on KU
To know something more about the author: https://pjmann2016.wixsite.com/pjmann
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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Hunted: Dragons of the North

Rebecca Tran












In the spotlight today is one of my favorite books. it features not one, but two shifters and crosses species proving love has no boundaries. From the very beginning Lexa and Hunter have sexual tension that builds into a steamy romance. Hunted Dragons of the South is a continuation of my dragon shifter romance and is sure to please any romance fan.

Blurb:

A werewolf with amnesia. The enforcer of the Southern Territory. Saving a wolf in distress leads to more than he bargained for…

Hunter Silver was sent to Arizona to clean up the Southern Territory as their new Enforcer. After nearly a year on the job, things are finally falling into place. Life was ideal. That is until a starved female werewolf wanders into his life. Hunter’s dragon says mine before it ever meets Lexa. This has trouble written all over it. Can Hunter save the territory and Lexa or will he be forced to choose?

After waking up in a cage, Lexa Greene runs as far as she can before nearly collapsing from exhaustion. With her memory gone Lexa has no choice but to trust a handsome stranger. Lexa’s wolf wants Hunter before her human half ever realizes what she is. But Lexa can’t start anything until she’s pieced her life back together, or can she? Will Lexa risk it all for a chance at love or will she run again?

Hunted is the first book in the steamy action packed follow up series to Dragons of the North. Its filled with characters you know and more you’ll adore. Hunter and Lexa offer a complex relationship full of heat and compassion. If you missed the first box series you can still start here without missing a beat although I guarantee you’ll want to read the first set after this book.



Excerpt:

Lexa was in the kitchen finishing dinner when Hunter came home. She called from the kitchen telling him to have a seat. Hunter tossed his keys on the coffee table and flopped on the sofa. Lexa had been here three weeks, and he was starting to get used to her steady presence. She came out a minute later and handed him a beer. She told him dinner was almost done and sat down next to him.

Lexa snuggled in close filling his nose with her blend of wildflowers and crisp mountain air. She smelled like home. He loved it. He loved her. Hunter couldn’t resist telling her. He whispered it in her ear. Lexa looked up at him and her eyes filled with mischief. She ran to the kitchen. It wasn’t the reaction he expected. Hunter took a long drink worried.

When Lexa returned, she took Hunter’s beer and set it on the side table. Then she put her arms around his neck as she straddled him on the couch. Lexa bent down kissing him. Her tongue explored the recesses of his mouth before withdrawing. Her lips gently tugged on his making him want more.

Lexa took off her tank top. Then she slowly unhooked her bra and let it slide off her shoulders. Taught toffee colored nipples waited to tease Hunter. Lexa rocked her body forward. Her center brushed against his shaft that was already throbbing for her. He could feel her heat through the layers of fabric they wore. Hunter caught her; one hand behind her back the other on her ass and thrust her closer. He took one perfect nipple into his mouth making her moan.

Reaching down Lexa skimmed her hands under Hunter’s shirt. She grabbed the edge and tugged it off of him. It left his perfect chest exposed for her to touch as she pleased. Her nails ran over bare skin raising goosebumps on his arms. Hunter captured her lips with his once more. Then he helped her out of her pants.

Hunter ran his thumb over the button at her center. Lexa moaned appreciatively. Then he let his fingers play in her warm folds.  Lexa’s body crashed into his, and he took her breast in his mouth once more. It wouldn’t take much to push her over the edge tonight. He trailed his fingers down her spine as two fingers dipped inside her. Lexa cried out with her pleasure.

As soon as the wave passed Lexa was unbuttoning Hunter’s jeans. He was more than ready for her. He tried to pull her close once more, but she pushed him away. With a little help, Lexa managed to get his pants off.

Then Lexa went to her knees between Hunter’s legs. Lexa took all of him into her mouth, and Hunter had a hard time restraining himself. She licked down one side of his shaft and up the other before sucking gently on the tip. Hunter’s hand fisted in her hair as she pleasured him. He didn’t want it to end. Although, he’d rather be buried deep inside her and he didn’t want to wait.

Hunter told Lexa what he wanted. She smiled at him once more and straddled him on the couch. Lexa took the lead this time, and Hunter found it intoxicating. She slid him inside. Hunter sighed with appreciation. Then she began to move. How had they not done this before? It was amazing.

‘Take her, Make her ours’ his dragon whispered. It was ever more insistent every time Hunter was with Lexa. Tonight the dragon was almost overwhelming. ‘She is ours do it,’ Hunter almost couldn’t focus on Lexa and the pleasure she brought. She nipped at his neck timing her thrusts perfectly.

“Mate, say it, Hunter, you’re mine. Do it.” Lexa’s voice brought him out of his euphoria. Hunter’s dragon was smug now. “Say you are my mate.” She ordered.

“Do you love me, Lexa?” Hunter asked between breaths.

She stopped moving, and it was torture. “Of course I do you ass,”

Hunter smiled “I am yours, mate” Lexa moved again, and he felt her magic sweep over him with her orgasm. Hunter was pulled with it.

His magic swept through her at the same time sealing their mating bond. ‘mate’ It was the first time he heard her wolf. That was going to take some getting used to. ‘Again, I want to meet your dragon.’ The wolf demanded. Hunter looked at Lexa a little worried he meant it when he told her his dragon was temperamental. Any time the beast got involved in sex things got rough. He’d only ever let him out with other dragons.

“He would never hurt me, Hunter we are mates,” Lexa assured him. Then her eyes faded to gold, and the wolf was there. “Your dragon is a part of you. Stop fearing what it can do.”


The irony wasn’t lost on Hunter. Lexa had to accept what she was turned into while Hunter was born this way. He’d known his beast his whole life, and there was a part of him who feared letting go. Hunter laid Lexa back on the couch and kissed her one last time before relinquishing control to his dragon.


I am a mother of two and author of romance, sci-fi, and fantasy. I love romantic comedies, fantasy, and sci-fi flicks. Currently I'm binge watching Vikings and getting my butt beat in Call of Duty. I've also come to love a female Dr. If you are interested in my work or my personal website you can find it here.


 
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