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An Interview with Beverly McClure, Author of ‘A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat’

Bev_mediumWhen Beverly Stowe McClure was in eighth grade, her teacher sent her poem “Stars” to the National High School Poetry Association, and she was soon a published writer in Young America Sings, an anthology of Texas high school poetry. Today, Beverly is a cum laude graduate of Midwestern State University with a BSEd degree. For twenty-two years, she taught children to read and write. They taught her patience. She is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices in her head tell her. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps photos of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. She also enjoys visiting with her family and teaching a women’s Sunday school class at her church. Her articles have been published in leading children’s magazines. Two of her stories are in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL ANTHOLOGIES, and she has nine novels published, two of them award winning novels at Children’s Literary Classics and other competitions.

Q: What’s inside the mind of a children and teen’s author?

A: Haha. I’m not sure you’d want to look inside my mind. I think, though, I’m still a child at heart. I taught in elementary school for twenty-two years. My thoughts are often like a child’s/teen’s thoughts: the insecurities of life and wanting to be popular.

I don’t know about other writers but like many children/teens I’m insecure at times. Instead of worrying about homework and dates like kids do, I worry if I’ll ever be able to write another story. If I manage to do so, will it be published?

I also want my writing to be popular, or at least to be liked. Instead of worrying about my best friend now having another best friend or all the cute guys ignoring me, I worry over whether readers will buy my story. If they read it, will they enjoy it?

Q: Tell us why readers should buy A PIRATE, A BLOCKADE RUNNER, AND A CAT.

pirate-blockade-runner-cat-333x500A: The novel is a paranormal novel for MG/Tween readers that enjoy reading about pirates and ghosts, mixed with a bit of history and adventure. The novel also is about family and what happens when parents split up. Many of the readers will relate to Erik as he tries to make sense of why his father left home and his mother moved Erik halfway across the country. Star, one of Erik’s new friends, is a great character because she can read mind dreams (she calls them.)This makes for some interesting clashes with Erik.

Q: What makes a good MG paranormal novel?

A: Good question. It’s hard for me to say why one story attracts the reader’s attention and another one doesn’t. One thing I discovered with my latest novel is to make sure you have the historical facts and ghostly facts straight. Kids are smart and will catch a mistake, even a small one. Then they may not believe anything else you say in the story. Do the research to make sure your facts are accurate. Also, the characters must be realistic, with good points and bad. To me, the characters make the story. The main character should have a realistic goal or problem that he/she struggles to solve. I think young readers want characters they like and can even relate to.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: After breakfast, I check email, visit my blogs, Face Book and other sites, and then I write, usually from 9:00 AM until noon. I might work on a new story or do a second, third, or more revision on another story. In the afternoon, I edit work if I have a new book coming out. If not, I play around with ideas for new stories and do more Online stuff. At night, I enjoy reading and writing reviews.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A: When a child says they loved my story, or it helped them with a similar problem to the girl/boy in the story, I am happy. I don’t write to teach a lesson, but if a reader can relate to the character(s)and find hope in his/her life, what more could I ask for?

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The Story behind ‘A Hidden Element,’ by Donna Galanti

?????????????????????????????????????????????My experience and my fascination with mental powers fueled the writing of my characters in my paranormal suspense novel, A Hidden Element. Several characters have mind powers: telekinesis, mind control, healing. All have different perspectives on using them: one to feel all-powerful, one to sacrifice and help others, one to find belonging, one to save her family.

Charlie, a teenager, has difficulty controlling his power to move objects until Adrian brings him into his fold and shapes his power to be used to control others. Laura has given up her powers to provide her son with a normal life, until she is faced with rescuing him from the evil that brainwashes him and she must use her powers once again for good and evil. And Caleb uses his healing powers to save others, but can never free himself from his own prison of pain.

So what exactly is telekinesis? It’s the action of mind over matter, in which objects are caused to move as a result of mental concentration upon them. Is it science or fraud? Akin to seeing spirits or not? And if one believes in ghosts are they inclined to believe in other paranormal phenomenon too, like telekinesis?

Another term grew from telekinesis: psychokinesis. PK, as it’s known, encompasses a wider group of mental force phenomena that telekinesis now falls under. Did you know that PK Parties were a cultural fad in the 1980s? Groups of people were guided through rituals and chants to awaken metal-bending powers, or perhaps it was just another excuse for a party! Either way, you can read about it from PK party founder, Jack Houck. Real or fake? You decide.

Ouija boards were also a PK fad. When I was eleven years old a friend and I channeled an “evil spirit” through the board who levitated the ouija’s movable indicator. The spirit told us to find a boulder in the woods with an “X” on it where we would find hidden green treasure. We found the boulder but the only green treasure we found was the angry, green icy flow of the raging creek that nearly swept us away that February day. That was my last attempt to play with a ouija board! Read about more of my paranormal experiences as a child here.

Most scientists believe that the existence of telekinesis has not been convincingly demonstrated. I’m not sure what I believe, but I do think there are amazing discoveries about how the brain works to still be found. I do know I will never touch a ouija board again.

I believe we can do so much more with our brain powers. What do you believe?

********************

ABOUT A HIDDEN ELEMENT… NOW AN AMAZON BESTSELLER!:

Evil lurks within…

When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so?

PRAISE FOR A HIDDEN ELEMENT:

“Chilling and dark…a twisty journey into another world.” —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of When Shadows Fall

“Fascinating…a haunting story…”—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath

“Will keep you up long past your bedtime…a pulse-pounding read.”—Allan Leverone, New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author of Final Vector

Galanti,DonnaABOUT DONNA:

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is the author of books 1 and 2 in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts.

Website: www.ElementTrilogy.com
Blog: http://www.elementtrilogy.com/blog/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DonnaGalantiAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5767306.Donna_Galanti

BUY THE ELEMENT TRILOGY BOOKS:
Purchase Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element: http://amzn.to/1p1YD1o

Purchase Book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element: http://amzn.to/1mNcyCO
ON SALE NOW FOR JUST $.99cents!

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Profile: Donna Galanti, Author of ‘A Human Element’

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and the forthcoming Joshua and The Lightning Road.

Galanti, Donna 2An avid reader as a child, Galanti grew up in a nurturing environment, immersed in books such as The Hobbit,Little House in the Big Woods,The Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of The Mountain, Call of the Wild andWhite Fang. “My favorite author was Roald Dahl and my favorite book of his was Danny the Champion of the World,” says Galanti, whose dark imagination ran wild from the start.

From her early years in England to her later work in Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer, Galanti always dreamed of becoming an author. She wrote her first murder mystery screenplay at the tender age of seven. She had a career in writing for marketing and communications and ran her own resume writing service, but it wasn’t until her mother died five years ago that she began writing novels out of her grief. Eventually, that grief turned to peace, when she fully realized what it was she truly loved to do: becoming a storyteller. In addition to being a full-time author, Galanti also works part time as a freelance copywriter for an advertising agency.

“I write from the dark side with a glimpse of hope. I am drawn to writing the hero’s journey – more so the tormented hero, and tormented villain. I enjoy creating empathy for both by blurring the lines between good and evil,” states the author, whose first two books in The Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element (Imajin Books, August 2014) are both full of murder and mystery with a dash of steam, and both have their own tormented hero and villain. “I slay my own demons through my writing – and I highly recommend it!” she says.

A Human Element, just released by Imajin Books, is the thrilling, unrelenting page-turner story of Laura Armstrong. Her friends and family members are being murdered and, despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown, where she eventually unravels a terrifying secret that binds her to the killer.

The book has already garnered excellent praise from New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry and international bestselling author M.J. Rose.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00067]Galanti lives in an old farmhouse – sadly, with no ghosts – with many fireplaces where she often curls up to create her page-turners. Other times she works in her office overlooking the woods. Throughout the year she meets weekly with a women’s writing group at a café where they write together and share advice and their success stories.

“When I am creating a new book I love to sit outdoors overlooking the woods with a pen and notebook and handwrite my ideas. My thoughts are slowed down this way as my brain connects to pen in hand, and it opens my mind up to brainstorm,” says the author, describing her creative process. “There is nothing more freeing creatively to journal story ideas and throw all sorts of ‘what if?’ questions out there to find the kernel of a good story you want to pursue. Then I create character worksheets and type up a ten page synopsis of the book. I do all this before I write that first word of the story. And I always create a title first! It’s what drives my inspiration for the story.”

Galanti began writing A Human Element seventeen years ago from a vision she had while driving to work one day. She wrote two chapters and shelved them for over a decade. When she finally decided to continue the story, she wrote Monday through Friday from 4:30am to 6:30am. After seven months she typed THE END.

All writers have their stronger and weaker points, and for this author, revision is her favorite process. That’s where she can make her story shine. “Knowing how important this process is has been one of my strong points,” she says. “There are many layers to a story to be found after you write that first draft, and that’s what I love to do: peel back the layers.” One area she struggled in for a long time was to slow down her writing. She can be a very fast writer, creating pages and pages of words that often would need to be trimmed down. She has since then learned to slow down her writing and craft her words with care as she writes them, so she doesn’t have to spend so much time on revision.

In an era when small presses, the good, the bad and the ugly, abound, Galanti’s experience has been nothing but positive. “My experience with Imajin Books has been amazing!” she says of her Canadian-based publisher. “Imajin Books is dedicated to working with me to help my books succeed. The owner, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, is a bestselling author in her own right.” Imajin Books was very responsive and provided in-depth editorial guidance as well as marketing plans, not to mention fantastic book cover designs. The publishing industry is notorious for being slow-moving, but in the case of The Element Trilogy, Imajin Books made the process quick and efficient.

As with many authors, Galanti finds starting a new book most challenging. The first blank page can be a scary thing, until the story takes over, propelling your main character into his new unbalanced world toward the ultimate end. However, being an author can be extremely rewarding. “When it comes to readers, there is nothing more thrilling than reading wonderful reviews about your book that you spent months, or years, creating and shaping,” she says. “It’s from that private place in your heart, where you love the most – and hurt the most – that you pour out pages to show the world. And it’s all worthwhile when you discover that others have been touched by your story, just as you were touched while you were writing it. Second, it’s rewarding to pay it forward to up-and-coming authors. There is a wonderful feeling that comes from speaking to writers about your publishing journey and sharing advice and techniques on how to find success as an author, and hope that they do.”

Galanti is currently working on the idea for the third and final book in The Element Trilogy called, A Healing Element, and gearing up to release book 2, A Hidden Element, on August 28th. A native of upstate New York, the author now lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle—preferably with ghosts.

Connect with the author on Facebook Twitter and her Blog.

This profile was originally published in Blogcritics

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Read-a-Chapter: HAZARDOUS UNIONS, by Alison Bruce & Kat Flannery

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the Historical Romance, Hazardous Unions, by Alison Bruce & Kat Flannery. Enjoy!

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Hazardous_Union_Front_Cover

Twin sisters separated by war, bound by love…

After the death of their father, twin sisters Maggie and Matty Becker are forced to take positions with officers’ families at a nearby fort. When the southern states secede, the twins are separated, and they find themselves on opposite sides of America’s bloodiest war.

In the south, Maggie travels with the Hamiltons to Bellevue, a plantation in west Tennessee. When Major Hamilton is captured, it is up to Maggie to hold things together and deal with the Union cavalry troop that winters at Bellevue. Racism, politics and a matchmaking stepmother test Maggie’s resourcefulness as she fights for Bellevue, a wounded Confederate officer and the affections of the Union commander.

In the north, Matty discovers an incriminating letter in General Worthington’s office, and soon she is on the run. With no one to turn to for help, she drugs the wealthy Colonel Cole Black and marries him, in hopes of getting the letter to his father, the governor of Michigan. But Cole is not happy about being married, and Matty’s life becomes all about survival.

Two unforgettable stories of courage, strength and honor.

Title: HAZARDOUS UNIONS

Genre: Historical Romance

Authors: Alison Bruce & Kat Flannery

Website: www.alisonbruce.ca & www.katflannery-author.com

Publisher: Imajin Books

Find on AMAZON.

——————————————————

Maggie

Fall 1862.

The Yankees were coming.

We’d seen the signs days ago. News was, most of west Tennessee had fallen under Union control. Thaddeus scouted them out while hunting rabbits in the brush that bordered the plantation’s cotton fields. We’d prepared as best we could as fast as we could, and now I was waiting for them on the front veranda of Bellevue.

“Why me?”

“Someone has to meet them, Miss Maggie,” Mammy said, setting out tea things as if the neighbors were coming to call. “Mrs. Hamilton hasn’t got your nerve and Miss Patience wouldn’t be a lick of good even if she would come downstairs.”

“I’m just a servant,” I objected half-heartedly.

“Yeah, like Tad here is just a dumb nigger.” Mammy cocked her head to one side and a moment later I heard the faint but shrill whistle of the kettle. She smoothed the skirt of her greying white pinny over her faded grey dress. Eventually, the two garments were going to match. “Watch out for her, boy,” she said, before heading around the corner of the wraparound porch toward the kitchen door.

Only Mammy could get away with calling Thaddeus “boy” or “nigger” without coming under the resolute stare of a man who looked like he could have been carved out of a huge block of obsidian. Mammy was his aunt and had raised him, along with Major Hamilton, from nursery age. The boys had been more like brothers than master and slave, Mammy said, until Master Ned was sent off to West Point to be made an officer and a gentleman. It was hard for me to reconcile her picture of Master Ned with the aloof man who had employed me to take care of his wife.

I was barely sixteen when I was hired by the Captain, now Major Hamilton. Some days I felt that I was twice that age now, instead of just a couple of years older. Today, watching the Union contingent approach, I felt like that frightened girl again. I took small comfort in the pair of pistols hidden in the pockets of my crinoline. Knowing that Thaddeus was watching over me from the shadows, armed to the teeth, was more reassuring.

Half a dozen hard looking men approached the house. Four of them spread out, some facing us, some partly turned to keep an eye on the out buildings. Two of them rode up the path towards the porch. I felt like I was being ringed in by a pack of hungry wolves. The leader of the pack rode up to the bottom of the front steps.

Wolfish was a description that fit him. Hard muscled, wary eyes, shaggy dark hair spiking out from his cap, he looked old with experience and young in years. His uniform had seen better days and his beard was untrimmed, but it appeared that he had made some effort to clean up before approaching the house. That was a good sign.

I had also made an effort for appearances sake. Instead of my usual long braid, I had twisted my blonde hair into knot and allowed tendrils to fall free on either side of my face. I was wearing one of the calico dresses Mrs. Hamilton bought me in St. Louis. She wanted to make it clear that I was no mere servant any more. I was using it today for similar reasons.

“Afternoon, ma’am. I’m Captain Seth Stone. I have a cavalry troop under my command that needs to set up quarters for the winter.”

“I see.” My voice was steady, but I could feel my knees wobble beneath my skirts. “And?”

“And this looks like a good place to stay.”

“How many are you expecting us to accommodate?”

I heard a chuckle from one of his men. It was stifled with a sharp look from the grim-faced sergeant behind the captain.

“Not so many as there should be,” the Captain said, ignoring the interruption. “If you’d oblige me by asking your man to lay down his arms, maybe we can discuss terms.”

Gott hilf mir,” I prayed, but held my ground. “You have your protectors, Captain. I have mine.”

With a hand gesture, he signaled his men and they all dismounted as neatly as if they were on parade. Then he dismounted and held out his reins to the sergeant.

“Thaddeus, would you lead these troopers and their horses to water?”

Thaddeus stepped out of the shadows, empty handed. “Yes, miss.”

The two men passed on the stairs. Thaddeus was significantly taller and broader than the Union officer and was doing his best guard dog imitation, but the Captain didn’t flinch when they passed. He did keep his eye on Thaddeus until he was in the range of his own men. Then he turned his attention back to me and I lifted my head up to make eye-contact. He may not have been as tall as Thaddeus, but he was not a small man and I am on the short side for a woman.

Having asserted his dominance, he backed up a step.

“I understand this is the Hamilton home. Are you Mrs. Hamilton?”

“No, sir. I am Magrethe Becker, Mrs. Hamilton’s companion.”

His eyes widened. “Maybe I should be speaking to the lady of the house.”

“Mrs. Hamilton is indisposed and asked me to…” I stopped, looking for the right word. Meet with him? That sounded too friendly. Deal with him? Almost rude. “Negotiate terms with you.”

He let out a short bark of laughter.

“My terms are simple, Miss Becker. I need to winter seventy men and three officers, plus myself. It’ll be tight, but this place looks like it has enough room with the house and out buildings. We’ll need food and fodder of course. You can either offer, or I will take.”

I shook my head. “No.”

He barked out a longer laugh. “What makes you think you’re in the position to say no?”

“Twelve wounded union soldiers in our care, Captain Stone.”

 

Matty

 

Fort Wayne, Michigan

December 1862

 

What had she done? Matty Becker was going to hell, and there’d be no one to save her. A loud snore echoed from the other room. She peeked around the corner and caught a glimpse of Colonel Black’s stocking feet. She’d burn for sure. She glanced at the paper she held and groaned. She was a horrible, devious, scheming letch. Maggie wouldn’t be pleased. Maggie wasn’t here. Another snore blew into the kitchen and she placed her head onto the table banging her forehead twice. There was no turning back now.

Last night she’d pushed aside her conscience and let fear guide her. For her plan to work, she’d have to throw all sense to the dogs, not that she hadn’t done so already by following through with the blasted thing. She couldn’t fail now. If her family found out what she’d done they’d never forgive her. Worse yet, if Colonel Black found out she’d be locked behind bars, a fate far better than the one that got her in this mess to begin with.

She placed the paper on the table and went into the bedroom. Colonel Black lay on the bed with his clothes stripped off and tossed about the floor. He’d been out for nine hours and would wake any minute. Matty stood, pushed all thoughts of reason from her mind and removed her dress, corset and pantaloons. Her face heated and the room spun. He rolled over and she jumped into the bed next to him, pretending to sleep. She knew the moment he’d woken. The bed stilled and she couldn’t breathe the air was so stiff.

“What the hell?” He sat up and she knew the instant he saw her. “Son of a bitch.”

She felt his nudge once, twice and now a shove almost knocking her from the bed.

“Wake the hell up,” he growled.

She squeezed her eyes closed and willed strength into her soul so she could face the dark Colonel. She rolled over pretending to wipe the sleep from her eyes.

“Who are you?” He placed his head in his hands. She’d bet he had one heck of a headache.

“Your wife,” she said.

“The hell you are.” He shot out of bed without grabbing the sheet, and she averted her eyes.

“Please cover yourself.” She held up the sheet and he ripped it from her hand. “The marriage license is in the kitchen on the table if you do not believe me.”

She watched as he grabbed his head and closed his eyes. The heavy dose of laudanum she’d placed in his drink the night before had done the trick and it wasn’t but a mere suggestion they marry that the Colonel jumped to the challenge. Soon they were standing in the dining room in front of a preacher. Words were spoken—words she thought to say with someone she loved, someone who’d wanted her. Her stomach lurched and her mouth watered with the urge to vomit.

“How did this happen?” he asked sitting on the end of the bed.

“Mrs. Worthington sent me to see if you needed anything.”

“I was drinking.” He looked at her. “I was drunk.”

She shrugged.

He stood holding the sheet tight to his midsection.

She couldn’t help but notice the rippled stomach and defined muscles on his chest.

“We can annul. I had too much to drink. My head wasn’t clear.”

She shook her head.

He frowned.

“We have consummated.” A lie of course but she was desperate.

His mouth fell open. A moment she knew he’d not remember. After the preacher left, she’d taken him to the bedroom where he passed out before hitting the bed.

“Impossible. I’d remember that.”

She shook her head again praying he’d buy the fib.

He pulled on his pants and dress shirt. “I don’t even know you. Why in hell would I marry you?”

“My name is Matty Beck—Black. I was employed with the Worthington’s. You’ve come to dinner several times.”

His brown eyes lit with recognition. “You’re the house maid.”

“Yes.”

“I married a maid?”

The words stung and she turned from him so he wouldn’t see the disappointment upon her face.

“Why would you marry me if I was into the spirits?”

“You seemed fine to me.”

He took a step toward her. “Why would you marry me at all when you don’t even know me?”

She gripped the blanket on the bed. “You…you said kind words, and I…I believed them.

“How desperate are you to marry a stranger?” he yelled. “You found out who my father is. You want money. You tricked me.”

Well, he got the last one right, but the first two irritated her. She was not the kind of person to marry for money. Really, who did he think she was?

“Sorry to disappoint you but I refused my inheritance years ago.”

“If you mean to say that I could not find myself a suitable husband because I am a maid, then you’re wrong.”

“That is exactly what I am saying Miss—”

“Black.”

“The hell it is.”

He went into the kitchen picked up the marriage license and stared at it.

Matty dressed quickly and inched into the room. Confusion pulled at his features and she began to feel sorry for him. This was her fault. She’d planned this. Now she had to continue telling the lie she’d told. She glanced outside and shivered. Boldness, be my tongue. Shakespeare’s words echoed in her mind. It was worth it. She’d been living in fear for a week. Colonel Black had been her saviour, and she risked a life full of love and happiness for this—a lie in which she’d speak for the rest of her life. She swallowed back the lump in her throat and willed the tears not to fall.

“Why can’t I remember?” He glanced at her. “And why in hell would I marry you?”

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