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!