Saturday, November 30, 2013

Welcome Author Madeline Gornell!

Thank you, Beth, for inviting me to your place! I certainly enjoyed meeting you at the San Bernardino Library Author event. I thought I’d talk a little about writing a series versus a standalone novel.

Thank you Madeline, I really enjoyed meeting you as well. But mostly I am intrigued by your book Counsel of Ravens!  Thanks for this insightful guest blog!

First some info about Madeline's novel Counsel of Raves

In the dark of night, murder strikes on Route 66, and once again Hubert James Champion III finds himself having to face realities he’d rather run from. Indeed, within two days, Hugh finds himself embroiled in murder on a national scale, seeking justice for petty-crimes of a local nature—and very close to home, reviving his skills as a psychologist to help people who have become friends. Indeed, his friends need him.

In addition, there are troubling mysteries of the personal kind still tucked away in the recesses of Hugh’s subconscious. He may still be “hiding out” in the desert, but East Coast ties continue to haunt and thwart his building hopes for the future.

Fortunately, he has his ravens to counsel him, and through it all—the Mojave winds continue to blow…

The Series Versus a Standalone Novel

Many mystery authors write series, but for me, it’s been standalones until my latest. So, I’m talking about one little sequel, and that may seem like not such a big deal, but for me, it was huge. I didn’t realize how huge until about the middle of writing Counsel of Ravens. I’ve mentioned on blogs before how certain locations seem to reach out, grab me, tell me there’s a story there. And from that initial spark, my mind moves on to characters, plot, etc. Intertwined in that process—I think—is also a liking for dropping in on characters, not only at a particular spot, but in a particular point in their lives. Then drop out. Move on. Leaving all the “what if” possibilities in the rest of their lives unanswered and left to the reader’s imagination.

Well, writing a sequel with Hugh et al., I’d have to deal with what came next, tie up some lose ends, even kick-start the next chapter of his life. At first, and for quite awhile in the writing of Counsel of Ravens, I didn’t want to do that. Doesn’t make much sense, but it’s true.

It was hard making what I’m calling “second-wave” decisions for Hugh. And with that kind of mindset and difficulty, how could I possibly ever write a series, which was one of my initial goals way-back-when. And now, even with Counsel of Ravens published, I’m still not sure I can actually write a continuing series. Though, somewhere during the storytelling part of my latest I began to enjoy developing Hugh’s future, and his friend’s futures—including his ravens—who moved in this story from being reticent, to butting-in. And I did very much enjoy tying up the loose ends with a secondary, but one of my favorite characters in Reticence of Ravens—Marsha Portson.

Which leads me to the “winding-road-of-writing.” My love of P.D. James’s style, her books, her protagonist, her approach to writing—led me to start off using M.M., wanting to emulate my rock-star author and because I planned on writing a series with a male protagonist—again, just like P.D.

Things have changed for my characters in several ways (indeed, two of my books have female protagonists)—and for me. My writing-career-plans seem to have their own plan—taking me on a winding road somewhere…

A very wise author once told me, “Enjoy the process,” and I say, “Hear! Hear! I sure better.” So here I am back on the winding road, and what seems to be next for me is writing a thriller sort of/mystery sort of/mainstream fiction sort of/ novel called Rhodes. It’s a standalone—BUT, I’ve given it a secondary title—The Mojavestone, just in case! (I’m rereading (audio) The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins—wonder if that has something to do with my title?)

Beth, thanks so much for inviting me—loved being here!

Your welcome please come back any time!!  Thank you for your guest post and for sharing your wonderful stories! I look forward to reading Counsel of Ravens and the Rhodes!

About Madeline Gornell

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell has five published mystery novels—including PSWA awarding winners Uncle Si’s Secret and Lies of Convenience (also a Hollywood Book Festival honorable Mention), Death of a Perfect Man, and Reticence of Ravens (a finalist for the Eric Hoffer 2011 fiction Prize, the da Vinci Eye for cover art, and the Montaigne Medal for most thought provoking book). Her latest is Counsel of Ravens, her first sequel and a continuation of Hubert Champion’s Mojave saga. She continues to be inspired by historic Route 66, and expects to release in 2014 Rhodes.

Madeline is a lifetime lover of mysteries, and besides reading and writing, she is also a potter with a fondness for stoneware and reduction firing. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the Mojave High Desert near the internationally revered Route.


Contact and Buy Info

Madeline’s books are available at, Barnes &, and Smashwords, in paper and e-book formats. You can visit her online at her website, or her BLOG  or email her directly at


Monday, November 18, 2013

Welcome Margo Bond Collins!

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, when she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex, she went to Alabama. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up dead in Alabama?

When I died, I expected to go to heaven.
Okay. Maybe hell. It’s not like I was perfect or anything. But I was sort of hoping for heaven.
Instead, I went to Alabama.
Yeah. I know. It’s weird.
I died in Dallas, my hometown. I was killed, actually. Murdered. I’ll spare you the gruesome details. I don’t like to remember them myself. Some jerk with a knife--and probably a Bad-Mommy complex. Believe me, if I knew where he was, I’d go haunt his ass.
At any rate, by the time death came, I was ready for it--ready to stop hurting, ready to let go. I didn’t even fight it.
And then I woke up dead in Alabama. Talk about pissed off.
You know, even reincarnation would have been fine with me--I could have started over, clean slate and all that. Human, cow, bug. Whatever. But no. I ended up haunting someplace I’d never even been.
That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, right? Ghosts are supposed to be the tortured spirits of those who cannot let go of their earthly existence. If they could be convinced to follow the light, they’d leave behind said earthly existence and quit scaring the bejesus out of the poor folks who run across them. That’s what all those “ghost hunter” shows on television tell us.
Let me tell you something. The living don’t know jack about the dead.
Not this dead chick, anyway.


Interview with Margo Bond Collins
Q:Welcome Margo, first I'd like thank you for stopping by, it's nice to meet you. Please tell us about yourself.
A: In my other life, I’m a college professor; I teach English courses online. I live in Texas with my husband and our daughter and a number of thoroughly silly animals. Waking Up Dead is my first published novel. My second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press. I got the offers to publish the two novels in the same month. That was officially the best month of my life!

Q: Congratulations! That definitely qualifies as a good month.  Tell us about Waking Up Dead.

A: In Waking Up Dead, when Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

Q: Sounds like a fun read! What inspired you to write Waking up Dead?

A: I wrote Waking Up Dead when I lived in Alabama for a few years. I remember driving to work one morning and seeing just a wisp of fog move across the statue in the middle of the town square. The statue was of some Civil War figure, and thought that it looked oddly ghostly. In between teaching classes that day, I started writing Callie’s story.

Q:I agree creepy statues can be very inspirational! So on to the fun questions, If you could meet three authors, which authors would you choose?

A: I’m worried I would go all star-struck and not be able to say anything coherent! But assuming I could keep my wits about me, I would like to meet (in no particular order): Neil Gaiman, because he’s so bloody brilliant; Charles Stross, whose sense of the absurd always delights me; and Anne Aguirre, because she’s so beautifully outspoken about what it means to be a woman who writes science fiction.

Q: Gaiman is one of my favorites too!  He doesn't know it yet, but he plans on taking me to dinner and telling me bedtime stories ;) but that is not what we are here to talk about is it. So, what are you currently working on?

A: Piles of projects! I’m currently doing a round of edits to Legally Undead, the first of the Vampirarchy urban fantasy series coming out from World Weaver Press in 2014. I’m working on the sequels to Waking Up Dead and Legally Undead. I’m working on a contemporary romance novel. I’m editing a number of academic projects, too—mostly collections of essays about science fiction and fantasy televisions series like Farscape, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural.

Q:Whew, more power to you! A busy writer is a happy writer. What was the most challenging part about writing Waking up Dead?

A: Making sure the mystery made sense! About halfway through I figured out that I was going to need to solve the mystery before the characters did! So at that point I decided where I was headed, generally—but the characters took me where I needed to go.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become an author?
A:  I’ve always known, for as long as I can remember. The first story I remember actually writing down was basically fan-fiction of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote it in long-hand in a yellow legal pad. I’ve been writing ever since.

Q:Fun stuff. I did a similar thing with Pippy Longstalking when I was a kid. I wanted my own adventure with her, so I wrote myself into the story...two redheads can get into a lot of trouble -- I had some great adventures with Pip.  You mentioned earlier that you were a fast writer -  you said it took you six weeks from start to finish to write Waking Up Dead, I'm interested in what your editing process is like?

A: I edit on the sentence level as I go, changing things around as necessary. But I also tend to write in scenes, and if a scene isn’t working, I will simply put a reminder in brackets—something like this: [FIX THIS SCENE].  Then I move on. So the first editing step is always to do a search for those brackets and do my best to address the issues. Once I’ve done that, I do a read-through for plot coherence. Then I do a final read-through for any other issues.  And then I quit for a while so I can get some distance before I come back to it for a final proofreading session.

Q: Thank you so much for visiting and writing interesting stories. I have one more question for you, and by your level of busyness, I can tell that this will be easy for you to answer -What can we expect from you in 2014?

A: Always keep writing! I have three works in progress that I plan to complete. And I also have two others that I want to get to. So I guess that means my goal is to finish five novels. (I’m suddenly realizing that I might be insane . . . )


Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.
Buy Waking Up Dead on Amazon:

Twitter:  @MargoBondCollin
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Giveaway, Interview, and a New Adventure Comming Soon!

On October 31, I participated in Write Away Bliss' Paranormal Palooza.  Here is a link to a guest post I did as well as an interview, top ten, and an excerpt from Sunshine in Darkness.  I am also hosting an Ebook giveaway of Sunshine in Darkness -- follow the link to signup here.

In other news The Adventures of Abby and Sofia: The Willing Stone is due to release this month!  More on that soon!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Spooky Short Story by Kathy Finfrock

Good Day Friends.

I'm excited to share with you this wonderful short story by author and friend Kathy Finfrock.  I hope you enjoy it, I know I did!

Mildred And Her Balls

Mildred lived alone most of her life. She didn’t like her neighbors much and they didn’t care for her. In the early years, the women who lived on her street were afraid she would steal their husbands. This made Mildred laugh.  It was ridiculous. Mildred had no interest in them. The last thing she wanted was to be under the thumb of a man who she had to clean up after. She had enough chores without hanging a man around her neck.
As the years went by, Mildred’s animosity to her neighbors grew. It was reciprocated by adults and children alike for Mildred had a habit of taking the neighborhood children’s balls.  
She would say, “If it’s in my yard, it’s my property.” No apology was ever accepted and no ball ever returned. She had every ball imaginable. Red balls, green balls, yellow balls, orange balls and blue balls. Not one ball did she return.
Parents would go to her front door demanding she return the balls. Mildred responded, “You get off my porch or I’ll call the police and have you arrested for trespassing.” She added “And you keep your children off my property or I’ll take YOU to court and sue you for harassment!”
Lydia, who lived two doors down, attempted to threaten her right back with lawsuits of her own. Mildred smiled back at her and beckoned her to come closer. She whispered in her ear. Lydia’s dark tanned skin turned a sickly pale dead fish white. Mildred smiled and said nothing more. The woman stepped away without a word and left. She moved within the next few days and never told a soul what it was that Mildred had whispered to her.
Years passed on. People came and people went. Children would continue to lose their balls in Mildred’s yard. They tried hard to be careful, but it was as if the balls were drawn to her house as a paper clip is drawn to a magnet.
Little Sammy cried that his hakisak jumped right out of his pocket and leaped into her hedge while he was walking by. He swore that he was not playing with it at the time. No one doubted the boy’s claims.
Mildred’s ball collection grew and grew. One room was filled from floor to the top of the ceiling. She didn’t dare open the door less they come tumbling out. It never occurred to her that she should get rid of the balls. The concept ran against the grain of her soul. She was always first in line to get something free but she wasn’t one to give anything away for free. She would not donate the balls. She certainly would not give the balls back to the kids and she would not throw them away. She had no idea what she would do with them and so the ball collection continued to grow.
One day, Mrs. Smith, a person from social services, paid her a visit. Someone had placed an anonymous complaint. Mildred had been through this before. She wasn’t concerned. Mildred invited Mrs. Smith in wondering what kind of new free service she could receive.
Mrs. Smith attempted to do an inspection. Mrs. Smith noticed that there were balls in every room. Balls in the corners of chairs, balls on the windowsills. On top of the bookshelves, on the back of the sink in the bathroom, in the bathtub.  She even found balls in the freezer. Mrs. Smith opened a hall door a crack. A red ping-pong ball with blue stripes rolled out of the room and stopped in front of Mrs. Smith’s feet. Mildred quickly snapped it up and put it in her pocket. “No, no. Do not open that door.”Mildred said moving as quickly as she could to get in front of Mrs. Smith closing the door. “This room is used for storage,” Mildred told her.
Although she was surprised at this, she didn’t think it was cause for alarm. It’s common for old people to collect odd items. Why she knew of a man who had over 1,000 frog items. They brought him comfort and as he had told her, he just really liked frogs. Mildred obviously for some reason must like balls or so she thought.
All in all, Mrs. Smith felt that the complaint was invalid. There was food in the fridge and the home, although cluttered with all the balls, was not in squalor. Mildred did not appear to be a danger to her self or others. Off she went.
One day Mildred noticed a little girl standing on the sidewalk across the street. She was a skinny dark haired child, scabs on her knees, hair unbrushed and generally unkept. The little girl would stare at Mildred’s window for hours at a time. Sometimes she stood and other times she sat quietly on the curb, scrawny arms hugging her knees.
Mildred couldn’t understand how a child could stay for so long in one spot. The child didn’t play or jump around. She just stared at the windows of Mildred’s house. Even though Mildred watched her through the lace curtains, she felt the child was staring directly back at her directly into her soul. Mildred couldn’t complain or say anything as the child was on the other side of the street.
One day Mildred couldn’t stand it any longer. She crossed over to the street and looking down on the little girl asked, “Are you alright? Don’t you have a home to go to?”
The little girl looked up at her. “I hear them. They call to me. They want to come out and play,” she whispered.
“Who calls to you? What are you talking about?” Mildred asked exasperated.
The little girl looked across the street and sighed. She leaned back on her elbows. “The balls. All of those balls. They can’t breathe. They need fresh air and freedom. They want to play and now they are getting angry.
Mildred’s lips tightened. Her eyes grew beady. “That’s ridiculous and you need to go home before something bad happens to you.”
The little girl replied calmly, “No. You need to go home and free them before something bad happens to you.”
Mildred shook with anger but she was more unnerved by the little girls calm stare.
“And just what is going to happen to me?” she hissed.
“The balls will let you know.” The little girl stared at the house across the street.
Mildred decided this whole thing was ridiculous and stomped back across the street to her house. She opened the door and stepped in. She promptly lost her footing and slipped on a ball. She grabbed a chair and kept her self from falling, but just barely. She picked up the ball.  She looked out the window. The little girl was gone. She put the ball in an empty bowl on the coffee table. She sighed deeply and sat in her chair. Or more to the point, she sat on yet another ball. She reached under her large behind retrieving that ball and placing it in the bowl with the other two. Two? Yes. There were now three balls in the bowl. Mildred shook her head confused. “I must be tired. I should lie down for a short nap,” she said to her self.
She dreamed of bouncing balls.
She woke up to a ball bouncing on her head. She grabbed it and threw it across the room where it hit the wall and bounced back on her head again. Maybe the little girl was right. Maybe she should get rid of the balls, but no she couldn’t do that. She couldn’t admit that maybe she was wrong after all.
The house was gloomy. Surely that little girl wouldn’t still be outside as it was cold and rain was pouring. She thought she should call child services. That child was too young to be sitting on street corners. Her parents obviously were neglecting her. Thunder rolled across the sky.
Sure enough, the little girl was standing there under a dirty torn umbrella. Mildred had to move several balls to get to the phone book. That was it, she was making the call. She unburied the book, but when she looked up, she saw that the girl was gone. She set the book back down. Maybe she would call later. Right now she had a splitting headache. She went to lay down for a while until the pain passed.
She woke up to a very dark house. Oh my! She had slept the whole day. She could hear the rain pouring down outside her window. She clicked the lamp beside her bed but the power was out. She went to her dresser to find a flashlight.
Thump thump. What was that sound? “Are those kids throwing balls against the house in the middle of the night in the rain?” she asked. She half-way expected the balls to answer her. Her skin bristled.
Thump Thump thump
She set the balls on the top of the dresser as she fumbled in the drawer. The balls rolled to the floor thumping as they landed one my one. She could hear them rolling onto the floor. She found the flashlight. The light flickered on and off. 
Thump thump. What is that darn noise? Mildred opened her bedroom door and took a sudden step back. She was shocked at what she saw. She was beyond angry. The doorway was completely blocked with balls. Somehow those kids had broken into her house and built a wall of balls. Heads were going to roll now.
Thump thump.
“You kids had better get the hell out of my house!” she screamed.
Thump thump
She tried to push her way through but the wall did not give. She stepped back. The wall was moving. It was heaving. Suddenly, for the first time in her life,  Mildred was afraid. She was VERY afraid. There was no sound other than the rain and the steady thump thump. She didn’t believe it was the kids anymore.
The wall heaved back and forth and then it burst forth. Balls flew at Mildred knocking her down to the floor. Golf balls bounced on top of her head. A basketball smacked her in the center of her face sending her reeling landing hard on her back choking on blood from her broken nose. She tried to get back on her feet, but they came in force one after the other never stopping.
Big balls and little balls rolled over her and on top of her. They covered her legs, pinning her arms down, the weight of the balls crushed her legs. She tried to scream but it was futile. There were too many balls. Mildred was buried under the balls.
A few days later, the Police came and found Mildred’s body beside her bed. Neighbors had called because the window in her room had been broken. They hadn’t seen her for a couple of days. The police officer glanced at the body. “Looks like a natural death. Probably had a heart attack during the storm.”
His partner said, “You can’t just make that call. Why would she have broken the window? It’s obvious that the window has been broken from the inside.”
The police asked the neighbors if they thought anything was missing.
“It is odd,” they said. “There doesn’t appear to be a single ball in this house.”

The End

Kathy has recently released her novel House Of Redemption (It's a perfect book for this time of year --good and scary!) 


Eight unscrupulous guests arrive at the Blackstone resort unaware this house was built on the blood of slave labor by the zealous Reverend with the intention of making sinners repent. It doesn’t take the group long to figure out that they have been lured to the resort to be punished for crimes that have long gone unpunished. Tension mounts as, one-by-one, the number of guests are reduced through the ingenious plotting of the unseen killer. Is it the house’s former deceased inhabitant or is it one of them?


Also if you have a scary drawing, painting, music or story that you would like to share this month please do.     

Monday, September 30, 2013

Welcome Barry Parker

Barry Parker, author of Resolutions, is my guest blogger today.  He wrote a short blog about literary influences and what makes strong and well-loved characters.  I hope you enjoy it --I did :)

The blurb for Resolutions

Jacob and Alyssa Harrison's work on a dig in Turkey threatens to unveil secrets that officials from the Gregorian church do not want uncovered. While visiting the site, Jacob's friend, Darren Moore, discovers an uncanny link between Jacob, and Darren's friend in Canada, Blake Patterson.

Blake reflects upon his life as measured against his current love interest, Alanna. An evil element in his past, Jim Beasly, emerges into his present life.

Matters come to a head in both worlds simultaneously as Jacob and Alyssa, try to track down Blake in downtown Toronto before he clashes with the fully degenerated Jim Beasly.


Finding Love in Literature

As a boy, I stumbled across a copy of Great Expectations. I was irretrievably drawn into that book’s stories from the very first page and, though younger than the Pip of most of the book, I identified with him. Like a lot of other great literature, from Thomas Hardy to Ernest Hemingway, Great Expectations is a tale of self-reflection, and self discovery – the kind of book that I wanted to write one day. And I tried. It seemed like forever.
I loved the stories, and learned to tell my own. I loved the exaggerated characters, and I learned to take my talents are far as they could go in that direction. And I eventually learned how to relate the moral dilemmas and choices. But I still had nothing resembling a novel, and it seemed like I never would.

As any would-be artist could testify, the inability to put together even a poor offering of your art is devastating, and more than enough reason to question the validity of your most treasured ambitions. There was no quit in me, but I was at a loss to understand what my work was missing.  In retrospect, it was obvious. But I had no idea that I had found my answer until after it was finally in place.

Putting the movie renditions out of my head, what is it that I remember about Great Expectations after all those years? In a word: Estella. As Pip became more and more real to me, so did his all-consuming love for Estella. And, after years of reflection, I have bought into Dickens’ original ending – the bittersweet one – that more realistically tells us that life and love often go unresolved.  It is not Pip’s unexpected benefactor that turns his life upside down, but the irresistible force of his unrequited love. His love for Estella dominates his real story as does Gabriel’s love for Bathsheba in Far from the Madding Crowd, and Frederic’s love for Catherine in A Farewell to Arms. And all of these women possessed me, as they possessed their stories’ protagonists.  And, as with those great authors (to whom I in no other way compare), only once that love was in focus, did my writing transcended my more practical gifts.
Resolutions is the fourth book in a series that would never have come to be without Alyssa. Omitting her in for all but the last of the ten years that it took to write the first book might seem like a glaring oversight, but I couldn’t write what I didn’t know.  In Resolutions Alyssa, like Estella, Bathsheba and Catherine before her, may often not take center stage, but she is the driving force behind all that transpires. She is the inspiration and the moral compass. In Resolutions, the story grounds itself on her.  Alyssa is a complex character, with a myriad of strengths and corresponding weaknesses, some of which are mirrored in Alanna – who casts her spell in a parallel narrative.  Most of all, Alyssa is real, and the book does not exist if I do not love her – not only like I loved the others, but in a more intensely personal way.

All I can hope is that is that, in reading Resolutions, my readers will not only find some interesting storylines and characters but, like I have done so many times before, find love in literature.  

About the Author

Barry F. Parker is a Canadian who now lives in Riverside, California, where he is employed as an academic librarian. He has a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies and has written scholarly articles in that discipline.
Resolutions, though a standalone work, is written as the fourth book in a series. The previous three are being revised, and work on a fifth is recently underway. Writing fiction is Parker's lifelong focus. All of his experiences, education and passions are part of what he writes. The characters are all very real to him, and the fictional platform allows Parker to portray them with an added dimension.

Links for Resolutions
Amazon: link:
Barnes and Noble:


Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's that time of year...time to let your evil muse out

Halloween is coming! It is a wonderful time of year for scary stories, music, art etc…. I am calling for all things paranormal, scary, and creepy (stories, art, and music) to share during the month of October. So close your eyes go to your dark place, create and share.
 Nosferatu and politics...scary scary!
 If you are interested in participating please contact me.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Interview with MaraValderran

Today Author, Mara Vaderran, stopped by for an interview.  Her new fantasy, Heirs of War is set to release on October 13

 The blurb for Heirs of War
Seventeen-year-old Zelene doesn't believe in magic or prophecies. When she's told she is part of the prophecy foretelling five powerful girls bringing peace to the war-torn worlds, she scoffs. The idea of other dimensions layered on top of the world she lives in is almost as ludicrous as the idea that she might be able to save them. After she is attacked by magic-wielding assassins, she finds she can't argue with reality.

As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.

Zelene views them all with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no, and can think of a place or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to go against an army of magic-wielding rebels when her own ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her. But can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

The Interview

Beth: Heirs of War seems to cover a lot of ground—family, friendship, war, trust, politics  can you tell us about the goals you initially set when you started writing Heirs of Wars. Did you reach them, or did they change?   
Mara: My goal when I first started writing Heirs of War was to finish it. Along the way, my goals changed. When I decided I wanted to publish, I also decided I wanted to make the final product the best it could be. Hopefully, I’ve achieved that, but we’ll see after October 13th. =)

Beth:  In Heirs of War there are five girls bound to each other, do they represent anything specifically—individually, or as a whole? Which of the five girls do you most identify with?

Mara: I was inspired by the bond I shared with my sister and my two cousins. We sort of each represented our own element in the beginning, and we’re much stronger as a whole than we are on our own, I think.
Each of the girls (in Heirs of War) represents their own element as well. I think, as a whole, they represent the connection we have to the world around us. The fifth point of the pentacle, Spirit, is supposed to connect us to the elements. I think the lack of a fifth with all the other Duillaine from previous generations is really telling because they lack that connection to the world around them, and thus to their people.
I identify most with Zelene. I have the same temper as her, and my teenage years sound a lot like a Lifetime movie of the week as well. I’m also a bit of a smartass, which is something I definitely have in common with Zelene. My family and friends actually picture me in her place when they are reading the book, which is cool. I picture Emma Stone, so I take that as a compliment. ;) Zelene’s voice tends to be strongest in my head since I identify a lot with her. Unfortunately, that makes her quite the target for my nefarious writerly ways.
Beth: Hahaha, it’s funny how we pick on the characters that we most identify with. 
Can you tell us who your influences are?
Mara: Music is a huge influence for me. I see stories behind songs, and that often gets my creative wheels turning. I’m pretty sure Within Temptation could act solely as the soundtrack for the Heirs of War series.
Beth: Absolutely, I agree, music more than anything influence my art as well.
Mara: As for books, I’d say my biggest influence would be Terry Goodkind. His Sword of Truth series was intelligent, compelling, had a believable love story that didn’t make me groan or want to stab my eyeballs, and was very well written.

Beth: I haven’t read much fantasy but I do own the Swords of Truth series but haven’t had a chance to read them…I heard the second third of the first book was a torture scene–so I put it off, maybe I’ll dust them off and give them a go.
Are most of your stories fantasy? Or do you write in other genera’s. 
Mara: I like writing fantasy more, I think. I used to do screen writing and tried my hand at a teenage drama series, but it got boring and melodramatic. In fantasy, things are big and melodramatic, but it sort of fits with the scenery at times. I’m currently working on a dystopian that deals with the possibility of alternate realities, though I’m not sure if that would really be fantasy. I also have a sci-fi series in mind. But I can’t really see myself writing a contemporary. And I doubt I’d ever write romance. I’m too much of a prude. I like to stick to the fantastical where anything is within the realm of possibility. I’m a dreamer, so that genre works for me.
Beth:  Do you have a writing ritual (music, wine, coffee??)

Mara: Definitely music. You can find my playlists for Heirs of War and Altar of Reality (my current WIP) on Spotify. I’m also usually trying to caffeinate somehow, usually through Dr Pepper, but sometimes I do hit the local coffee shop for a mocha frappe. Food is never involved since I usually get so lost in writing that I forget to eat. If I’m editing, the TV can be on and my husband can be present. But if I’m writing scenes, I need to be alone (or at least have headphones on) and in my own zone.
Beth:  Caffeine is my friend too! And I hear you loud and clear, on needing a space to work in.  There is nothing worse than getting yanked out of  a world before the scene is over.

This next question is purely self-serving…it’s my way of learning about new books.  What are your top five books? 
Mara: I’m going to add some of my recent finds in here (though not in any kind of order—that’s too hard!):
1. The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. Faith of the Fallen and Confessor are two of my favorites from the series.

2. The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. I love Rose’s voice.
3. Magick Marked by Chauntelle Baugman. This is a recent find for me through Shut Up and Read, and it was a great surprise.
4. Coldness of Marek by Rachel O’Laughlin. She’s a CP and I got an ARC of this book and about died trying to finish it all in one day. It was AMAZING.
5. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I reread this once every year or so. I think this is going to be the first year in about five that I haven’t reread it, and that’s just because I haven’t had the time.
Beth: Harry Potter seems to make a lot peoples top five (including my own:). 
What are you currently working on?
Mara: I’m currently working on a YA dystopian called Altar of Reality. My main character, Madeline, suffers from epilepsy. When her seizures get worse, she wakes up in a different world where the Cold War turned hot and her parents tried to lead a rebellion against the current regime ruling over the south. She’s constantly flipping between these two worlds that feel so real, and has to ultimately choose which one is going to be reality for her.

Beth: That must be fun to write. I’ll be looking forward to reading it. I have one last question for   you ,it’s a silly one—If you could handpick the perfect day by taking from your favorite books what would it be  (i.e. setting, character, activity…).
Mara: I’d love to visit the Shire. I loved playing Lord of the Rings Online for that                          reason. In fact, I’d say a girls’ outing to the Bree tavern with Eowyn, Kahlan and Cara                          (Sword of Truth), Hermione, and Arya would be pretty awesome.

Beth: Drinks…with Hermione, count me in! J Thanks and congrats again on the release of Heirs of War.

Here are Mara’s Links  


Sunday, September 15, 2013


I'm looking forward to next week's event at Cellar Door Books.  I'll be there promoting Sunshine in Darkness and checking out new books by other local writers.

On September 21, from 4-7, Cellar Door Books will be hosting an Open Forum for some of Riverside's many writers who have published their own work or used other non-traditional publishing options. Come meet some of our wonderful local writers and hear them read from their work! Authors will also be offering copies of their work for sale and signing. We know our strong literary community will welcome the chance to hear from some of our wonderful local talent!

5225 Canyon Crest Drive
Suite 30A/B
Riverside, CA 92507

Monday, September 9, 2013


I am looking forward to meeting new authors at this wonderful event put on by the San Bernardino Library.  Come out and say, "Hi."  I'll be there promoting Sunshine in Darkness and making new friends!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Its Back!!

I am happy to announce that Dawna Raver has re-released Color Wielders Book One!!! Whoohoo Dawna 



Also check out her giveaway,