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Author Showcase / Interview & GIVEAWAY CONTEST – Simon Lindley (Mannethorn’s Key: Book One of the Key of Life Trilogy)

Welcome, Simon Lindley!
 
 

  1. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Simon) I got the bug early. My first literary work, The Magic Skates was picked up by my elementary teacher. I was six. First gold star! That was it. Hooked. The problem that accosted me later was that although writing fiction, especially fantasy, turned out to be my lifelong calling, the realization also struck me that I wasn’t very good at it. So somewhere between age six and fifty-one I broadened my writing abilities. I’ve written about a dozen books but I wouldn’t put any of them ‘out there’. I refer to them as my ‘growth phase’, which is a euphemism for working at sucking less. Mannethorn’s Key was a culmination of over a decade’s worth of work. I’m proud of it. It’s my first work that I feel has earned a place in the literary ether.

 

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.

(Simon)  I am not so much cursed by the block as I am the Mull. I am a muller. I write a paragraph, analyze it, read it back, demand that it speaks to me, write a fake following paragraph just to coax it, and then delete it and rewrite it. I never have a block. In fact, at times, I’ll write 10,000 words in a single shot. My issue is that I will then spend four weeks mulling over it.
 

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Simon)  I love writing epic fantasy. For me, no other genre provides more firepower for my imagination or lets me fully immerse myself while writing. It delivers the palette to create a unique world that doesn’t limit the scope. As George R. R. Martin proved, it can be terribly dark, vulgar, violent and sexual while still world building. Besides, there’s a lot of mutants, vampires, zombies and dystopian futures out there, according the number of scribes chronicling such tales. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the best books produced this decade are in those sub-genres. I have read some brilliant works, and many are far beyond my writing and imaginative abilities. However, I believe there is still a place and a desire from many readers for the epic.

 

 

I am also a huge fan of science fiction but I’m not that smart. To write really good sci-fi these days requires, in my humble view, a commanding grasp of physics and science. In fact, many of the best writers in the genre are brilliant physicists.
When I’m not writing I’m hiking in the alpine, crooning in the basement while playing my guitars (badly), outside chopping wood, or building very questionable additions onto our house in the Rockies.

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Simon)  They do now! It’s funny. I’m the reverse of that, I guess. I’ve played the corporate game. I was a newspaper publisher and, for a while groomed for upper management with all the ‘perks’. I walked away. It was killing me both spiritually and physically. I’m a fortunate man because I had the choice to do so but it’s been a struggle nevertheless. I am both a musician and writer. That’s what I put ‘out there’. Yeah, I picked some real winner careers for making the big bucks but it is what I love. Friends and family have been incredibly supportive and believe in what I’m doing.
(Kam) I’m thrilled you have a solid support team behind you. 

 

 

  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(Simon)  Yeah, I’m with you on that one. There are so many amazing writers. However, I have my all-time favorites, no doubt. Stephen R. Donaldson was a genius with the Thomas Covenant series, really launching the dark, introspective side of fantasy. David Eddings has been a huge influence. Tolkien, well – we can just leave it there. Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb, Raymond Feist, Isaac Asimov, Piers Anthony, and I quite liked the Runelord series by David Farland. The first books of Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind were stellar but then I just got bogged down – or they did. Still, they impacted my own writing, no doubt, even if it was just to remind me to treat the reader with respect and keep the story moving.

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(Simon)  Wow. That’s a tough one. I would have to say the Belgariad series by David Eddings would make my dream list. However, it is so painful to watch great books get butchered by the movie industry. The first three LOTR’s were done reasonably well. I won’t talk about the Hobbit. Let’s not speak of Eragon.
If it was done right, with a great screenwriter, it would top those that have preceded it. The most unsung face for a wizard has to be Tommy Lee Jones. He would make a perfect Belgarath! Maybe Mr. Ratcliffe could launch a new career as Garion??
(Kam) Eragon, I actually loved the movie. Never read the book but the movie wasn’t half-bad. 

 

 

  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Simon)  Ha! No, let’s be open and avoid any covert ops. I have two buns in the oven. The first, of course, is the sequel to Mannethorn’s Key, called Outworlder. I have the full plot of the trilogy laid out and have penned about a third of Book Two already. It’s slated for a winter, 2018 release. My other project is one that I am quite excited about, an urban fantasy entitled Gaia’s Assassin. It’s dark, a bit dystopian, but I feel it’s quite unique from the work we’re seeing in the genre.
(Kam) Can’t wait to check them out! 

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Simon)  Mannethorn’s Key is my debut work. You can find it on Smashwords, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and in many fine bookstores. The book is out in both ebook and paperback editions.

 

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Simon)  I am always excited to hear from readers. They can contact me through my website ,  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or at AllAuthor. 

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Simon)  Remember the internet when the vision was about freedom and access? I know – I’m dating myself – but we are at that point again with literature. At our doorstep is the opportunity for a diverse voice unlike any time in our history. For the first time, you, the reader can access independent bloggers, reviewers and authors in a way that was unfathomable a decade ago. Keep it that way. Support new authors. Write a review, and buy your books from alternatives that support a free and open marketplace of ideas, not a monopoly that ends them. Sure, we don’t all have the marketing and editing resources of the big boys, but that’s why we have sites like this to help you discover the gems.
Thank you for supporting indies like me, along with independent blog and review sites.
There. That’s my plug. Thank you for reading!
(Kam) And thank you for giving me and our lovely visitors the chance to get to know you a wee bit better. Also, I appreciate the opportunity to host you and this amazing, generous giveaway.
FYI: Any reader would be lucky to have Mannethorn’s Key so, if you want to add this epic fantasy novel to your library, stick around for more details! 
 

 
  
 

Ladies and Gents, I hope you enjoyed my interview with Simon Lindley. Now lets discuss the giveaway!

Prize up for grabs — A KINDLE COPY of the Mannethorn’s Key: Book One of the Key of Life Trilogy.

To enter the contest – Leave us a comment below. Say howdy, leave a smile/heart, or ask a question.

One entry per person. International residents are welcomed to enter, too! 

The contest will end Friday at 11:59 p.m., central time. On Saturday, I will select a winner, post their name on a comment, and be in contact with him or her  SO……. have your settings open to receive messages or follow the comment thread and be ready to give me or Simon your kindle email address. 

 

Thank you and Good luck.

 

~~ PRIZE! ~~

TWO WORLDS. TWO SPIRITS. ONE POWER.

At the end of an age, a Bearer wielded the Key of Life and ended Dragon’s Rule. Such powers and heroes, long dead or lost, must again be raised and found…

Algarth Willowbrow is about to gamble everything. His once-powerful Order is in ruins, and he faces an unwinnable battle to save his life and his people. In a last, desperate attempt, he lures his arch nemesis deep within his keep, hoping to utilize him and reclaim a long-hidden magic, powerful enough to save the world – or destroy it.

Bartholomew Waxman, former derivatives broker extraordinaire has gambled everything – and lost. Bankrupt, unemployed and divorced, his only hope for salvation is to try and rebuild his self-inflicted shattered life. But at his first job interview, he is grabbed by a spell and thrust into the netherworld of Between. There, he is groomed to wield a power so vast that it will decide a world’s fate.

The land’s only hope is the reluctant and unprepared Bartholomew, the wizard Algarth whose powers are gravely in doubt – and the Key of Life, with its true power hidden from all.

Delve into the beginnings of a vast fantasy epic that embraces a man, a wizard and a world seeking redemption.

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EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER SIX, MANNETHORN’S KEY:

 

The wind picked up with a sudden, icy bite. He smiled and ended his melody. The gust had not originated from the waning heat of the departed sun or the hills beyond. It was born from a Seether landing on the road ahead.

Behind three of the wolf boars who had taken position directly in front of the cart’s path, dust and gravel churned up from the flaps of massive, leathery wings. The stranger saw nothing but the black silhouette of a two-legged beast towering twice the traveler’s height. It blotted out the early stars; the only discerning features were its yellow phantom eyes, now assessing its prey.

The Seether spoke, snakelike, assuring its hunters, “Itsss a wizzard! It bearsss the mark. But itsss magic iss ussselesss. Rip it to piecesss!”

The wolf boars were ecstatic. A meal was coming sooner than expected, but only the three who stood ahead of him on Ferryman’s Way advanced.

The wizard stood silent with eyes focused on the road ahead, as if his enemies were invisible.

Slowly, cautiously, the entire pack tightened its noose. The three forward gained courage as they sensed no meaningful defense from their prey, saliva dripping from their muzzles.

The stranger remained motionless, the only tension was in his fingers, taut about his staff, knuckles white.

“Ghaawww!” The wolf boars attacked, lunging for the quick kill, one for the stranger’s neck, the other for the legs, with the last to rip open his abdomen and feast on his guts.

The wizard’s arms rose just as the wolf boars leapt – and the air cracked.

A soundless percussion reverberated out from the crowd of odd company on Ferryman’s Way. The attackers momentarily hovered in the air, frozen in the eerie wave of dark power. The remaining wolf boars looked on in confusion and fear, but they too were frozen in the vile energy. The ground underfoot and surrounding fields along the roadway trembled, and the boulders in the fields glowed with a fiery tinge as if ignited to life.

A second passed, and the night awoke anew, the spell over. Three wolf boars lay dead only inches from the traveler’s bare feet; their bodies twitching and bellies split open, blood spilling from their wounds in great black pools, reflecting the resplendent stars above.

“By the Grail! He wieldsss the Han! He isss one of usss!”

The traveler under the cowl grasped the staff and the harness of his wagon but remained ominously silent.

“My lord, forgive uzzz. Why hide your Order?”

The stranger spoke. “I answer to no subordinate. Am I your Lord, Seether?”

“You wield the Han, my Lord. Yesss,” it replied.

“Good. Then answer me this. Are you the Seether of the conquered Plains, keeper of the Map of Ismantrutna?”

“Yesss, Lord. Do you ssseek the power over the Zzzhin puppetsss? It showzz uzzz all the ancient HanZzzhinSsshasss. I keep it ssssafe.” From a pouch strapped to the creature’s barreled chest it produced a scroll in its clawed grasp.

“How is it that you approach an unknown enemy carrying such a valuable relic and take no precautions to ensure your master’s property remains safe?”

“I. I –”

“Just as I suspected. Mindless beast. Must we Mil-HanFanthas and the Hanlord do everything ourselves? Give it to me.”

“I will take you to it, Massster. I am the keeper of the map.”

“Not anymore.”

“Have you permisssion from Hanlord Grailborn to take the Map from me, my Lord?”

The stranger paused. “Here is my permission.”

He raised his arms, staff held high overhead, and to the dismay of the remaining pack, the wizard let loose the dark Han magic upon the night once more. With a look of satisfaction, the wizard forever released the wide-eyed Seether and his wolf boars of their duties.

 

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Author Showcase / Interview / Review – A. A. Medina (Siphon)

 

  1. Welcome, A. A. Medina! For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business? 

(A. A. Medina) To start with the basics, my full name is Adrian Alexander Medina. I was born and raised and still reside in Phoenix, Arizona with my lovely wife, Samantha, our cats, Ishtar and Monkey, and our puppy, Sansa.

As far back as I could recall, I leaned toward the creative side. Whether it was drawing, music, or writing; however, I never really focused on one. To make a long story short, after my father (somewhat abruptly, i.e. long story) passed away in October of 2012, it was like getting hit by a train while skipping nonchalantly in an open field. Weak analogy, but I hope you get the drift.

After the shock and awe and soul-crushing nature of the loss, I reflected on my life and realized I was kind of just floating along. Sure, I played and wrote in bands, we played lots of shows and released albums, but my heart was never truly “in it”.

I don’t remember my thought process at the time, but I decided I wanted to focus the rest of my life on storytelling. I knew – being a person that easily jumps from one idea to the other without completion – that if I didn’t find a way to light the proverbial fire under my ass, I would let that decision fall through the cracks when the next shiny thing came along. So, I enrolled in school, figuring the hard deadlines and financial burden could be that fire.

Many things about the craft I could have learned on my own, but what the school did teach me was a deadline oriented work ethic and a sense of community and networking. That is where I met my business partner for Aphotic Realm Magazine, Dustin Yoak.

@DustinSchyler (Twitter)

@AphoticRealm (Twitter)

 

We graduated in March of 2017. Overall, I think my plan worked out.

(Until the debt cripples me)

 

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.

(A. A. Medina) First, I just try to push through it with force.

If that doesn’t work, I go on a walk or bike ride and try to work it out in my head.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll usually keep the document/notebook open next to me while I do something mind-numbing like chores around the house or videogames and if something comes – and idea, scene, piece of dialogue, or otherwise – I’ll jot it down.

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(A. A. Medina) I like to try my hand at everything, but much of my stuff falls into the “Transgressive” genre. Looking back, there are a lot of crime and/or thriller elements to my stories.

When not writing, I’m usually working on Aphotic Realm. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading or playing games with the wife and friends – both video and tabletop. And if I’m not doing that, I’m being an utterly useless sack of garbage on the couch.

(Kam) It sounds like you lead a busy, fun life. Congrats! 

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(A. A. Medina) If they didn’t know before, they do now due to social media. Many say it is a fitting path for me, many say they’re proud, but most just reply, “That’s sweet, dude.”

 

 

  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(A. A. Medina) I, as well, have a long list. However, I’ll just keep it to my recent favorites. I tend to consume mostly science fiction, with that said, my two current favorites are John Scalzi and James S.A. Corey (technically three because James S. A. Corey is two people: Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck). I haven’t read anything I haven’t loved by them in the recent years.

 

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

 (A. A. Medina) I love this game!

I’ll choose Siphon since this is why I’m here to begin with.

First, I think Dr. Gary Phillips should be played by Gary Oldman (circa 1998). That man can transform into any character almost flawlessly. I would like to see Wendy Carter played by Sharon Stone (circa 1990). Francis could be played by Rip Torn. And Snowflake could be played by Kate Beckinsale (circa 2003).

Could you tell I’ve never thought about this?

If it were a current production let’s say, respectively, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alison Brie, still Rip Torn, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

(Kam) Siphon definitely left a lasting impression on me. (Review posted below.) 

 

 

 

  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

 (A. A. Medina) Besides a bunch of things over at AphoticRealm.com, I am outlining what you could call the spiritual successor of Siphon. I don’t want to release the actual title just yet.

 

AphoticRealm.com

Book_Skull

 

Our Approach

First and foremost, we are here for the love of the craft. In addition, there are a lot of young, talented writers that struggle to find a home in a very competitive market. We wanted to provide such a home and from that desire, Aphotic Realm was born.

Our Story

Adrian and Dustin met during their studies at Full Sail University and quickly gravitated towards each other due to their similar tastes in dark fantasy, humor, sci-fi, and more. A short time later, they were critiquing each other’s work and collaborating on projects. After graduation, they decided to combine their talents to form Aphotic Realm.

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(A. A. Medina) You can find Siphon on Amazon and all those other places people find books online. But, if you really want to be a winner, you’ll buy a physical copy from HinderedSoulsPress.com

I don’t have too many stories floating around, but that will change soon.

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

 (A. A. Medina) You can follow/contact me on Twitter: @UglyByProxy

 

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(A. A. Medina) Check out AphoticRealm.com where we have some upcoming publications and online stories by a plethora of amazing authors! Go to HinderedSoulsPress.Com and pick up everything in stock and if it is not in stock, email them and complain.

I hope everyone who read, or plans to read, my work enjoys it.

Thank you for your time!

 

~~ Closing remarks ~~

And thank you for joining me here today.

Folks, now for the grand finale….

Let’s check out Siphon, the story that will creep you out (but in a good way). 

 

THERE IS AN URGE INSIDE YOU…

Dr. Gary Phillips, the resident hematopathologist at Claybrook Medical Center, is a lonely man struggling with the duress of an all work and no play lifestyle.

Burdened with an unhealthy infatuation with his co-worker, a burning disdain for his boss, and an abusive relationship with his grandfather, Gary just can’t catch a break.

That is, until a workplace accident ushers in a bizarre, but empowering experience that evokes a new sense of self, forcing repressed memories to surface while encouraging him to pursue his fantasies with unconventional methods.

 

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Excerpt from Chapter Three

 

I was exhausted. It was about the time I would usually lay my head in my arms and close my eyes to kill a few hours. The centrifuge hummed and I turned off half of the overhead lights. It gave the room a warm, soft, luminescent glow. Instead, I hustled.

When handling sensitive material—blood in glass tubes and crucial information about the livelihood of people I’d never meet—I knew I had to work slow, careful, with grace, without shaky hands, with a keen eye and a sharp mind. So, there I am, excessive fatigue and under the influence of downers. And jittery from the uppers.

Amid retrieving multiple vacutainers from the refrigerator, I dropped one. It shattered, and chilled blood oozed onto the dirty linoleum floor.

Cursing through my clinched jaw, I squeezed the bridge of my nose and accessed the damage. I slid the other two vacutainers I was holding into my lab coat pocket and reached for the paper towels. Quilted. I knelt to clean it up, but then something happened.

I leered at the human oil crawl toward me. In that moment, my mind was empty. Not a loss-for-words empty or nodding-off empty. But, empty. No worries, no feelings, no opinions, no identity. No longer was I tired, but I was not awake either.

A comfortable void.

Nothing mattered. Not I or anyone else. I wasn’t sure how long I must’ve been on my knees as I gazed at the pool of vital, room-temperature fluid. My mind was a dark abyss, my body was a barren cavity. I’ve heard of out-of-body experiences before, but I’d never experienced one myself. I, or – for lack of a better word – my soul, watched as my body was taken hostage by another being. A stronger being. A godly being. And then it pulled me back in with it.

The stillness was broken and the vacuum was filled as I jolted back into my body, yet I was still unable to move. My eyes forced to fixate on the blood that had started to congeal. At first, the voice was just a whisper. It was confident, omnipresent, and not after long did it feel like a loudspeaker was installed inside my skull. A mantra, it repeated:

 

                                        There is an urge inside you…

                                                   … which cannot be satisfied…

                                                                  … with conventional methods.

 

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(review request submitted by the publisher for an honest critique)

 

Whether you label Dr. Gary Phillips a psychopath or sociopath, everyone who reads Siphon will agree Gary is a total whack job. There were a few scenes, so vividly written, I actually felt the urge to vomit. Example: Consumption of blood is gross enough but swallowing vaginal blood and getting aroused by it simply made me want to hurl. Other sections involving blood, gore, and violence were also very descriptive and thus showed the true depth of Gary’s warped mind. 

Despite the grotesque content, I have to commend A. A. Medina on creating a story that came alive on the pages even as characters were falling prey to Gary’s delusional mind. 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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p style=”text-align: center;”>Audiobook – Unabridged Link (UK)

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Author Showcase / Interview / Review – Petie McCarty (Betting on Cinderella)

HOWDY and welcome, Petie McCarty! 

 

 

  1.  For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

 

(Petie) I would love to and thank you for allowing me to spend time with your Kam’s Place readers today and to share my new release, Betting on Cinderella.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, which was no help at all when I decided to write romance novels as a second career. However, several unique assignments during my early career as a state biologist—which included surveying many Florida lakes and streams by airboat—provided background for my very first release, Everglades.

Everything that happened to the heroine in Everglades during her safari through the River of Grass happened to me at some time during my career: the bug storm, swimming with gators, the leeches, the heart-stopping airboat maneuvers. Everything, that is, except getting stranded overnight with a hunky airboat guide. I never got one of those, so I wrote my own.

 

Photographer Kayli Heddon has been given the biggest assignment of her career — a photo essay on the Everglades Restoration the Florida governor intends to use in his re-election campaign. A special airboat safari is arranged, so Kayli can get her pictures. What she doesn’t count on is being stranded alone in the Everglades with her handsome and enigmatic airboat guide. Kayli is forced to learn some tough lessons. Trust means everything in the dangerous River of Grass, and a skilled partner can make all the difference in your survival. 

Skye Landers takes the airboat safari gig as a favor to his cousin who is called out of town. Skye doesn’t expect the governor’s photographer to catch his eye, but Kayli Heddon is unlike any woman he has ever met. He knows he should keep his distance, but common sense goes out the window whenever he gets near her. Trouble is, Kayli thinks honesty is the most important thing in a relationship — any relationship — and Skye Landers is a fraud. When secrets surface from Skye’s past, Kayli and Skye are soon on the run from more than just alligators.
 

 

 

I was lucky enough to spend most of my career working for the Walt Disney World Resort. What could be more magical than driving by Cinderella’s Castle on your way to work every day? I came late to the world of publishing and had never considered writing until about ten years ago. I think it was living in the heart of the theme park entertainment industry that constantly tweaked my imagination and made me want to write. I had the fun of working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating my own romantic fairy tales by night. I eventually said good-bye to my wonderful “day” job to write my stories full-time.

At present, I live—and write—on the beautiful Cumberland Plateau with my horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English springer spaniel addicted to green olives stuffed with pimento, and a talkative Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.

 

…a cozy mystery with a touch of romantic suspense from the Mystery Angel Romance series — with an angel hidden in every book. It’s up to you to figure out the angel’s identity… 

Child psychologist Rachel Kelly isn’t quite sure how to handle the situation with her newest client — a six-year-old boy who says he can talk to angels and one is coming to help Rachel. She already has her hands full of trouble this Christmas season, and things quickly take a turn for the worse when a stalker crashes Rachel’s Christmas party and takes her young clients hostage.

Police negotiator, Lt. Jake Dillon, walked away from his fiancée Rachel when she suddenly balked at having kids. His kids. Yet as the hostage crisis erupts, Rachel calls Jake first. Now he has a choice to make — stand back and wait for the cavalry to save Rachel or step in and try to save her himself. Time is running out, and Jake may be their only chance for rescue.

Unless Rachel’s little angel-spying client is telling the truth…

 

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  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.

(Petie) This may sound weird, but I see movies that run in my head. If the beginning, middle, and end of the story are all there, then that’s the next book I write. When the movie starts running, I speed-write scene bullets, so I can begin the sequel whenever I’m ready. The bullets become my outline.

Thus, I’ve never really suffered full-blown writer’s block, but I suffer from my own viral strain that I call “climax block.” Now doesn’t that sound scary? For me, it induces a very real panic that occurs with every novel I’ve written to date. I get to the big climactic scene at the end of the book, and I just can’t seem to get it on the page.

I know what must happen from the movie in my head and even which characters should participate, but I can’t seem to get the action sequences to formulate on the page. Therein lies the panic. My particular block strain lasts from one to three weeks, which is the amount of time to elapse before the initial action sequence in the movie finally starts to run in my head. Thankfully, the movie has always appeared, but the shreds of panic never completely dissipate. The ever present worry… what if the movie never shows?

 

 

  1. Contrary to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Petie) Marketing, marketing, and more marketing. Social media rules the world now and authors need to have a solid place in the various online venues if they expect to have successful book sales. A lot of a book’s advertising and promotion is trial and error. What works for one author or book may not work for another. Every book is different, but perseverance is the key. Marketing is like trying to get published, never ever give up.

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Petie) I write full-time from home now, but when I first started writing, I was a bit nervous about letting anyone in the workplace know I was writing novels on the side. Huge mistake. My co-workers got really excited about my first book and ended up being some of my biggest supporters and celebrated every release with me. It’s hard to know how co-workers will react, so it’s an individual decision for a writer whether to share your new venture or not.

(Kam) I’m so thrilled you have a supportive team at your back! 

 

 

  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(Petie) Easiest question of all since I’m a voracious reader, and I love a mix of fiction. So here is my mix of authors:

  1. Suzanne Brockmann – Her SEAL teams are incredible. I want to write like her when grow up.  =)
  2. Jennifer Crusie – She gives true meaning to romantic comedy. I have most of hers on audiobooks and have re-listened to all of them.
  3. Sarah MacLean ­­– I buy any historical romance she releases
  4. James Patterson – Synonymous with the word suspense
  5. Monica McCarty – Sorry, no relation though I wish there was. I LOVE her Spec Ops Highlanders in the Highland Guard historical series!
  6. Rachel Gibson – She is amazing, and I LOVE her humor
  7. Lisa Kleypas – Her contemporary romances are even better than her historicals.
  8. Lee Child – The Killing Floor scared me to death! All his books are riveting.
  9. Linda Howard – Awesome romantic suspense
  10. Michael Connelly – Always enjoy his twists-and-turns suspense

(Kam) Oooo, I just found me some new authors to check out. Thank you! 

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love to see casted in the parts?

(Petie) Of course, I would want to choose Betting on Cinderella. *grin*

If my casting were fortuitous as well, then Chris Hemsworth—I can’t help it…I’m a huge Thor fan—would be Garrett Tucker. I mean, what landscaper wouldn’t have great biceps? And innocent-eyed Alexandra Daddario would make a lovely Andi Ryan.

 

 

  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Petie) Right at this moment, I am finishing up Par for Cinderella, book three in the Cinderella Romances series. Billionaire Aidan Cross, who had a big part in the first two books of the series, insisted on having his own story. Aidan visits quaint Cypress Key, Florida—the future site for one of his world-famous golf resorts that no one in the small town wants. He promptly gets arrested for booting the mayor’s obnoxious son into the marina.

After that, I’ll start lining up my movie scene-bullets for Earl Away, the next book in my new Lords in Time series. The Earl of Dexter didn’t want to be left out and begged to be in the sequel to Duke du Jour, which released a few weeks ago. Like the Cinderella Romances, this series is comprised of standalone stories that have returning characters.

 

Jared Langley, present-day Duke of Reston, tumbles into an abandoned fountain on his ducal estate and travels back in time to the year 1816. There, Reston servants and local villagers think him a dead ringer for his namesake and rakehell ancestor—the seventh Duke of Reston, gone missing at the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, Seven got mixed up with French spies out to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, and an unwary Jared ends up in their crosshairs.

Lady Ariana Hart has loved Jared Langley, the seventh Duke of Reston, since she was twelve years old, until the night the rogue broke her heart. Given up for dead, her rakish neighbor makes a miraculous return from Waterloo—only Jared shows up a changed man and reignites all the feelings Ariana had long ago buried.

Jared is in a race against time. He must waylay the suspicions of his quirky servants and neighbors, get to Wellington before the French spies do, fix his fountain—before Seven shows up—so Jared has a way home, and definitely not fall in love with the irresistible Lady Ariana.

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  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Petie) All of my books are available on Amazon, and all but the Cinderella Romances [because they are in Kindle Unlimited] are available at Barnes & Noble.

The Mystery Angel Romances each have an angel hidden in the plot whose identity is not revealed until the finale, unless the reader figures it out first. The stories can be read in any order since there are no returning characters, only an angel in each one.

The Cinderella Romances books have returning characters, so readers may want to start with Book 1 although all the stories read as standalones. Same for the Lords in Time series.

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Petie) I’d love to hear from readers at any of my social media links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Petie) I just want to thank Kam’s Place and her loyal readers for allowing me to spend time with them today and share stories about my books. I hope you’ll give the Cinderella Romances series a try. Happy reading or writing to all — your pick!

 

 

~~ Closing remarks ~~

 I think after reading Petie’s interview, you’ll have no problem finding something to read  for a long while.

I’ve enjoyed my time with Petie and I also enjoyed Betting on Cinderella.

Please keep scrolling down to get a glimpse inside the book and to see my feelings on this romancic tale.

Enjoy! 

 

Garrett Tucker inherits his grandfather’s casino empire and steps into the reclusive billionaire’s shoes as the “Prince of Vegas.” His first act is to buy a bankrupt casino in Biloxi. When he discovers embezzling in his new operation, Garrett goes undercover. His prime suspect is the new finance supervisor—the spitfire brunette who stole his heart at first sight.

Andi Ryan moves to Biloxi to care for her godmother and takes a job as finance supervisor for the renovated Bayou Princess casino. She discovers someone is skimming from the till and starts her own investigation, worried she will be blamed for the theft when the new owner discovers her godmother has a gambling addiction.

A rival Vegas competitor has sent a spy in to ruin the Bayou Princess, and Garrett and Andi are forced to work together to prove her innocence and discover the identity of their casino spy.

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Andi Tells Garrett She’s a Virgin

 

“I want to make love to you.”

Andi stilled.

Garrett mentally kicked himself. He had gone and scared her.

Too much. Too soon.

But he couldn’t make himself move. He could lie here forever with Andi in his arms.

She wriggled from his grasp to sit up. “Um . . .”

“What?”

She looked too uncertain.

Not good.

He was okay with, “Not now, but maybe later.”

“I can’t,” she whispered.

Good thing he was sitting down. The jangle of fear that hit him could have knocked his knees out from under him.

“Can’t or won’t?” he forced out. No maybes on this one.

“Both.”

What the hell? Can’t and won’t?

All his uncertainties flooded back. Flora had said Andi and Peters were just friends. Was that friends with benefits? And what about that damn Drakos pawing her last week? No, he wouldn’t let those doubts crowd them here on the couch.

“Too soon?” he tried.

“Partly.” She looked away, and his heart sank amongst the growing heap of doubts.

“There’s someone else,” he said flatly, working to keep his expression blank and the hurt at bay.

She met his gaze square on then, no doubt trying to muscle her courage. “There’s something I should tell you.”

Damn.

“I’m—” She exhaled hard. “—no good at it.”

What? Is that all?

He fought back a grin of pure joy. “I’ll give you lessons.” He pulled her back for another kiss.

She shoved at his chest. “No. I don’t think I should.”

She flinched at his expression, and he worked to smooth his scowl.

“Go ahead. Spit it out.” Even he didn’t like his tone. “You’re sleeping with someone else, right?”

He should have done his homework before he went off half-cocked with all the flowers and balloons, trying to woo her.

“No, and I should slap you for that, suggesting I’m loose enough to go out with you while sleeping with someone else.”

“Then what the hell is it?” he shouted, forgetting all about Flora at the back of the house.

“I’ve never done it before!” she shouted back.

“What? Slapped someone?”

“No, you jerk. Slept with someone.” This, she didn’t shout.

He froze, right down to his heartbeat, and stared at her bright-pink cheeks. Could it be? Was she? A virgin?

“Holy smokes,” he wheezed.

She stared at her untouched glass of wine. “I’m not saying you and I will never,” she said softly.

Relief, warm and desperate, allowed his muscles to finally move. He gently traced the line of her cheek with his finger, a lump forming in his throat at the touch of something so rare and priceless.

“Glad to hear that.” He brushed his lips across hers, light as a whisper. Once. “My little sweetheart.” Twice. “My precious—” Three times. Always a charm.

“You’re not mad?”

Those big blue eyes stared up at him with an innocence that made his too-experienced heart ache with emotion.

“Mad?”

Should he tell her he wanted to go outside and howl his joy at the moon? To yell to the world what a lucky son of a gun he was? His Andi would be his Andi—proprietary, like his stock portfolio. All his. No one else. A primal sense of possessiveness overwhelmed him.

“No, sweetheart, not mad. Glad,” he managed, then tugged her close and let his kiss show her exactly how he felt.

“When you’re ready,” he said against her lips. “Only when you’re ready.”

He had finally said and done the right thing, for she grabbed his shirt and laid an eye-crossing kiss on him.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Evil stepmother.

Two stepsisters. 

A Godmother who’s goal is it to try and make an orphaned girl’s life a bit brighter.

These are a few similarities to the famous Cinderella storyline. In both stories, there is a blue dress and a HEA with the damsel finding her one true love. 

However in Betting on Cinderella, the storyline contains things the original never touched upon: embezzlers, casinos, and mafia looking villains.

In each storyline, the good guys prevailed BUT in Betting on Cinderella readers will be surprised at how far Flora Merrywether will go to ensure Andi’s has her own fairy tale ending. 

BTW: Cute name selection when deciding upon Flora Merrywether. As an avid viewer of Disney movies, I recognize Sleeping Beauty’s magical guardians/protectors’ namesakes. You might’ve spelled ‘Merryweather’ slightly different but I see your inspiration for the name choice loud and clear. 

 

Flora

Merryweather

 

For the plot in Betting on Cinderella, there’s so much going on.  I knew we were in for a big surprise. Heck, I figured one out from the start. However, as the final chapters unfolded, I realized I only solved part of the puzzle. For that, my score, my feelings on the overall story increased by one point. 

 

Heart Rating System

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:  ❤❤❤❤

 

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Author Showcase / Interview – Tracy A. Ball (The Tiger and The Snake)

HOWDY, Tracy Ball!

 

1.  For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

Tracy: As with most writers, I am a life-long book lover, but, once figuring out the story became a habit, the next logical step was creating my own. I have a fairly colorful bio which has exposed me to some unique characters. Everyone thinks their life should be in a book. I try to accommodate.

 

 

2. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.

Tracy: I stay too busy to notice. If I’m not writing, I’m editing, researching, rewriting, reading, marketing (I hate marketing), etc., or writing something else. I usually have at least three projects in need of attention at any given time.

 

 

3. Contrary to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

Tracy: I read (of course). I paint. And, most importantly, I have an eighteen-month-old grandson.

 

 

4. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

Tracy: Everyone knows I write. My family is more supportive than I deserve. Sometimes more critical, too. But I love it. They keep me honest.

 

 

 

5. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

Tracy: I tend to bounce between romance, fantasy, and young adult. These are not in any particular order:

J. R.R. Tolkien

George R.R. Martin

J.K. Rowling

Rick Roidan

Jenifer Blake

Sharon Kay Penmen

Karen Marie Moning

Christine Feehan

Clair Delacroix

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Kam: You and I have multiple authors in common. Maybe we need to start a book club and dish about them and their wonderful creations.  😀 

 

 

6. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love to see casted in the parts?

Tracy: KAYOS, definitely. 

Lareina- Ajiona Alexis/ Keke Palmer/ Zoë Kravitz – Lareina

Christian – Alexander Ludwig/ Theo James/ Tom Felton- Christian

Commander Joffener – Edward Noton

Lieutenant colonel Briggs – Robert De Niro

I’m open if anybody wants to produce it (lol).

 

AREINA ELLIOT, guidance counselor for Presque Isle Academy, discovered her idea for making students loyal to the government is being implemented in the Excellence Program to further the war. It has become her life’s work to undermine that effort. When she is arrested for being a Revolutionary sympathizer, her brothers, KAIDEN, FISHER, and SILAS rescue her with help from three of Lareina’s top students; ALEC, ORION, and YUKIYO. On the run but armed with intelligence and more, they seek to learn how she was exposed and by whom.

CHRISTIAN DEVERELL, the agent assigned to Lareina’s case is relentless. She can’t escape him. It doesn’t matter that he and Lareina are on opposite sides of the law, or that their history is dirty. It doesn’t matter that he commissioned her adopted brother, Silas, to assassinate her. The only thing of importance is his love for Lareina and his promise to protect her.

Silas MCKADE, soldier elite, Lareina’s secret weapon. The man who never misses is on the Government’s payroll to do whatever he likes to whomever he chooses. He has a death warrant for Lareina—the woman who means everything to him—and a heart full of hatred for Christian—the man he wants to be. He’s either going to break Lareina’s heart or stop it altogether. 

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7. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top- secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

Tracy: I just finished a short story for a charity anthology – It’s a sweet fairytale. I am working on a romance. The tag for that one is: Hope Floats meets Castaway. And, I am drafting another dystopian romantic suspense after the fashion of Get Out and The Stepford Wives.

(Tracy) Dragonfly Dreams is my short story contribution to the Anthology. The Anthology is due to release on Feb 15th.

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8. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

Tracy: All my work is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, just about anywhere books are sold.

They are all stand alone with the exception of The Tiger & The Snake. That one is a tie-in to KAYOS. I offer it as a free download.

Amazon Author Page Link

 

 

9. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

Tracy: Facebook / Twitter / Webpage 

 

 

10. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

Tracy: Most of my stories tend to be genre-bending because I write about love. When, where, and how it happens. Sometimes that’s on a farm or boat, other times it’s during the last Civil War or next one coming. Some of it is fluffy-sweet and some of it is rolling in heat and muck. But all of it is tough love because none of my main characters belong together. Their stubborn hearts refuse to listen. 

 

 

**I know Tracy A. Ball is one helluva author but check out what others are saying about her.**

 

Reviewer K. Coly(5⭐): “I’m a huge fan of Kayos, by Tracy Ball. I couldn’t pass up the chance to revisit the world of mind games, conspiracy, and romance. The only disappointment was that the story wasn’t longer!!!! The glimpse we get into the couple’s tumultuous past is riveting and nothing like what I was expecting. If you’re tired of the boring romance where everything works out just as predicted, The Tiger and The Snake is definitely worth the read. Without getting into spoilers, the witty banter and unabashed manipulations make this couple a welcome change. You don’t have to read Kayos to love this, but you’ll want to read (or re-read) Kayos when you’re done. Hopefully this just the beginning of what would be an amazing series.”

Reviewer Bruce Logan (5⭐): “Set several decades into the future, this book is reminiscent of, and every bit as avant garde as was George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four when released in 1949. For the fan of dystopian fiction, it’s a feast and for and for anyone interested in a good yarn with equal doses of love and warfare, it’s a page-turner. This work is exceptionally well written by an author with a lively imagination. A spirited read. Well done, Tracy.”

Reviewer J.L. Cook (5⭐): “Such a brilliant way to tell a futuristic love story. Even amid a dystopian society, love wins! This book captured my attention from the beginning, and left me wanting more (in a good way) in the end.”

 

 

This prequel to KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse is the need-to-know origin of Lareina and Christian’s impossible relationship and includes the how and why the members of KAYOS are who they’ve become.

 

Print Length: 40 pages

Love thy enemy. Thoroughly.

“Oh, Lord. He’s back.”
Lareina and Christian had the love of a lifetime, a lifetime ago. Now, they’re frienemies with not enough benefits for either of them. 

Christian wants to get past their problem, but Lareina is not having it, or him. Until a desperate call and a fateful day changes him; changes her; changes everything. Love has forced them to play a dangerous game called KAYOS.

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Lareina hated Christian. She hated loving him. She hated being her best, happiest self with him. She hated how he made her laugh…and cry. Damn the man. Why did he ever make her cry? 

An amazing dinner. A perfect moonlight stroll. His touch was electric and his kisses held every promise she ever wanted. But…

He was working. The evening was a carefully crafted delusion meant to fool an observer into believing they were in love. She wasn’t his woman. She was bait. It didn’t matter what he made her feel. Tonight, she was bait. 

Other than to indicate the men following them, and when a team member happened to be near, Christian said very little about his game or her part in it. Being herself was all he required from her. She toyed and flirted and let him see the depth of her feelings. Promising him tomorrow would be an altogether different day.

“How will we know if this is working?” She asked on the way back to the hotel. She curled up under his shoulder as he drove.

“We won’t. You’ll have to spend the night with me to be sure they believe I’m fully distracted.” 

“In your wildest wet dreams.” She used the opportunity to rub his crotch. “And, you are fully distracted.”

“Do it again. I dare you.”

“Nope. But only because you want me to.”

“Coward.”

“Absolutely.” Over their quiet laughter, she said, “You have me for one more hour, Christian. Once we’re done here, you are going to stay away from me for the rest of the weekend. Understand?”

“You know better. One, I’ve put you out there, I have to protect you.”

“I can protect myself.”

“I have to protect you. Two, avoiding me would blow my cover. And three, you don’t want me away from you any more than I do.”

“You’ve got one hour. Make it special.”  She squeezed his leg and slid out of his reach.

 

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Author Showcase / Interview – Patricia Panahi (Veil of Walls)

Welcome, Patricia Panahi!

 

  1. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Patricia) Originally from Massachusetts, I moved to Iran at the age of nine. I later returned to the States and completed my graduate work at San Diego State University. I have taught English in Iran, California, and Hawaii, owned and operated The Light Spot Bookstore and Coffee House in San Diego, and directed English language programs for international students for the University of Hawaii. Due to the many misconceptions about Iran and Iranians, and considering my direct experience and knowledge of the people and their culture, I decided to begin my writing career with a novel that portrayed them in a more realistic light.

 

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.

(Patricia) I began my writing career late in life and have not experienced writers block to date. If I don’t feel inspired, I just wait until inspiration comes.

 

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Patricia)  I write literary fiction and non-fiction books. I am also retired and live in Hawaii, enjoying the beautiful nature, yoga classes, good friends and good books.

(Kam) I’ve been to Hawaii only once (so far). It’s absolutely gorgeous and the people are very friendly. 

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Patricia) Everyone who knows me, also knows that I write and completely supports me. I have done local presentations and book signings that were well attended.

 

 

      5. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us  your top ten. 

(Patricia) 

  • Deborah Harkness
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Katherine Howe
  • Arthur Golden
  • Anne Rice
  • Amy Tan
  • Alice Hoffman
  • Barbara Kingsolver
  • Richard Bach
  • Michael Cunningham

(Kam) Thank you for the list. You’ve gave me (us) some new authors to possibly fall in love with. 

 

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(Patricia) I would love Veil of Walls to go to the big screen. No preference on actors.

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  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Patricia) The Nature of Love, a novel tells the story of five Iranians whose lives intersect as they learn about love and life during the tumultuous 2009 Iranian election protests.

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Patricia) I have a novel and a nonfiction book on Amazon.

Veil of Walls, the struggles of an American girl who visits her father’s relatives in Iran and not permitted to return home.

God Outside the Box – a spiritual memoir.

If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, The Celestine Prophecy, or The Way of the 
Peaceful Warrior, you will likely enjoy this true story of a journey to spiritual awakening.
 
An ordinary woman finds extraordinary potential within herself in this narrative of spiritual awakening and exploration.

Born to a New Jersey Catholic mother and an Iranian Muslim father, author Patricia Panahi was never quite sure exactly who she was from the very beginning. This early confusion would lead her on a rollercoaster ride of a spiritual journey for years to come – an amazing journey chronicled in her inspirational new book, God Outside the Box: A Story of Breaking Free (published by AuthorHouse).

After exploring a variety of religions and traditions, Panahi discovers that none of them truly “speak to her soul.” She begins to question if there really is a God at all and, finding no answers to satisfy her, becomes an agnostic. But at 28 years old, Panahi’s world is rocked by a surprising diagnosis: cancer. Feeling lost, alone and afraid, groping through the dark with a weak-willed Persian husband and without a religion or solid tradition to turn to, she begins the search for a spirituality that would fill the large and heartbreaking void.

At 32, Panahi’s painful childhood memories – her mother’s abandonment and her forced relocation to her father’s country – resurface. She is able to heal and find inner peace, but discovers that her “journey of transformation” has only begun when she makes contact with her inner voice and begins to experience extrasensory perceptions. It is after a particularly vivid dream that Panahi opens The Light Spot Bookstore and Coffeehouse, where her spiritual search continues with the help of the many fascinating people who come through its door.

As her spirituality grows, so does the gap between Panahi and her husband. Her inner voice and visions call her to move to Hawaii, where two years later she meets and marries her “true soul mate” and begins a new life. Her happiness is challenged quickly, however, when she is suddenly afflicted with Bell’s Palsy – a paralysis of one side of the face – in 2002. As traumatic as this experience is, it finally leads her to face her doubts and fears while fully committing herself to her spiritual path and purpose in life. Firmly rooted and happy, her life is shaken up once again when she receives the call to let go of her secure career as a university faculty member and become a writer.

Today, this move still terrifies Panahi, but she feels that she has made peace overall with her new calling. “A spiritual life is not about complacency and comfort and self-satisfaction,” she says, “but the ability to accept and flow with change.”

It is Panahi’s hope that her readers of God Outside the Box will “gain a new understanding of their own search for answers” as she unveils “universal truths and discovers a rich spiritual path that crosses the boundaries of culture, tradition and belief.”

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  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Patricia) Facebook / Twitter / Website 

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Patricia) I hope my first novel, Veil of Walls, can provide readers with a new perspective of a country and a people.

 

Anahita Sadeghi, a typical, happy-go-lucky American ten-year-old, was not too keen on traveling to the other side of the world to meet her father’s family. But her month-long vacation turns into a nightmare when her Persian relatives refuse to let her return to the States.

She is forced to deal with the dizzying maze of social customs, resist her grandmother’s efforts to mold her into the proper Persian girl, dodge her aunt’s schemes of marriage, and fight to make her own life choices until she can find a way to return home. Longing for her friends and her freedom, only the enigma of her missing aunt, Scheherezade, gives Ana a glimmer of hope of one day escaping Iran for good.

Will Ana’s family marry her off and forever bind her to this country, or will she break free of Iran’s walls and find her way back to America?

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Chapter One

The blue Aerogram with its scribbles of Dad’s native language lay open on the breakfast table like an ancient spell. It was 1962, a nippy New England morning just like any other in the snow season; snug in our thick winter robes over a Sunday feast of johnnycakes, corned beef hash, fried eggs and the rich aromas of percolating coffee and hot cocoa, my parents dropped a bombshell – we were going to Iran. Just for a month, they said. In March – for the Persian holidays. A surgeon at St. John’s Hospital in Lowell, Dad rarely took more than a week off, but the Shah of Iran was abolishing the feudal landlord system – whatever that meant – and my father had been summoned home on family business.

I was ten and not too keen on traveling across the globe to meet a slew of strangers, so I whined and pouted and complained that I’d miss a whole month of school, that Grandma and Grandpa promised to take me to Beantown to watch the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, and we had to consider Angel, our cocker spaniel. Wouldn’t it be better if I stayed with Grandma Brigid? But Mom believed it was an opportunity for me to finally meet my Persian relatives and all my pleading landed on deaf ears. So they dragged me away from my shady New England neighborhood to the walled-in courtyards of Tehran.

***

March 1962 – Tehran, Iran

I stood before the dancing flames, unable to move. A row of bonfires crackled and popped. The earthy scent of burning brush teased my nostrils; the smoke burned my eyes. Branches of persimmon and pomegranate cast eerie shadows on the courtyard walls. I bit my lower lip so hard it bled.

My cousin nudged me forward. “Jump, Ana. It’s Chaharshambeh Suri – Red Wednesday. You have to purify yourself in the fire to let go of the old year and welcome the new one.”

I fixed my gaze on the flames, my heart skipping a beat.

Parvaneh pushed strands of dark hair away from her face and tilted her head. “It’s safe, Ana. Iranians all over the country are jumping over fire tonight.”

But I’m not Iranian. I grimaced at my cousin, trying to wrap my head around these weird Persian rituals. Her name means ‘butterfly’ in Farsi, but with her rose-bud lips and dark liquid eyes, she looked more like a princess out of One Thousand and One Nights. I thought her name suited the way she flitted about without a care in the world.

Roxanna and Kianoosh, my other cousins, their faces luminous in the firelight, called out and waved from the far end of the line. I liked Roxanna. The girl had spunk. Kianoosh, on the other hand, thought he was God’s gift to the world.

“Go on, Ana. You’ll be fine, sweetheart,” Mom called from the veranda, her ginger curls dancing in the breeze. A nurse of Irish descent, Mom loved Iran – the food, the hospitality, the multicolored Persian carpets. She waved in a big arc, her face lit up with a smile. A smile that always calmed and anchored me. She looked happy this evening, glowing even.

But tonight her smile didn’t work its magic on me. My leg muscles tightened further. The family didn’t understand just how much a burn hurt. How it ripped your skin. I pictured the flames licking at my feet, my dress catching fire and going up in flames. Why did Dad have to bring us here?

Parvaneh poked my arm. “Trust me, Anahita. You’ll be all right.”

I felt trapped, still not sure why my cousin insisted I jump into the flames. Trying to buy time to calm my jitters, I cleared my throat and spread my hands. “Why do they call it Red Wednesday when it’s Tuesday night?”

Parvaneh rolled her eyes. “The night before Wednesday is Wednesday night. Everybody knows that.”

Like many other things that everybody knew in Iran, this made no sense. After two weeks, I still found myself scrambling to digest this exotic land of my father’s.

With a sigh of exasperation, Parvaneh shook her head and nudged ahead of me. Bunching her skirt, she leapt over the bonfires, chanting the ritual words.

I sucked in air and faced the fire. Sparks escaped, floated for a time like fireflies then winked out. My cousins hollered and whistled. They had jumped across all seven bonfires. No one had burned. No one’s clothes had burst into flames.

A stream of relatives flowed down the steps and lined up behind me. I recalled the ritual words Dad had taught me. The words all Iranians chanted while jumping over fire. Not wanting to look like a sissy in front of my Persian relatives, I pushed back the fear, gathered my skirt, and jumped.

“Zardi-eh man as toe – I give my yellow, my sickness and pallor, to you,” I chanted, the Farsi words feeling strange in my mouth. The flames licked my feet, teasing me, daring me. I sailed over the first fire and landed safely on the other side. Elated, I braved the next one.

“Sorkhi-eh toe as man – I take from you your red, your ruddiness and vitality,” I sang to the flames, imagining the energy of the fire soaking into my skin, my bones, filling me with strength and courage. Then I skipped over the remaining bonfires, chanting the words again and again. I turned to my cousins, arms raised in triumph.

Parvaneh and Roxanna hooked their arms in mine and pulled me to the back of the line “Again,” they said in unison.

I imagined telling my friends all about the fire festival when I got back home to Lexington. Becky, her pudgy cheeks dotted with freckles, would stand there with arms folded and refuse to believe I jumped through flames. But Julie, my other best friend, would probably stare at me with those big brown eyes and say ‘Wow!

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(Kam) Thank you Patricia Panahi for allowing me the chance to interview you. I wish you much success in life and look forward to what you create next. 

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