Guest Authors Blogging on Manic Readers!


Interested in guest blogging on Manic Readers? Please contact Ivy.
ivydtruitt at gmail (dot) com.

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Nikola Dimitrov’s THE FOUR IN ONE GOSPEL OF JESUS

Write Now Literary is pleased to announce The Four In One Gospel of Jesus, by Nikola Dimitrov Virtual Book Tour, July 3-28, 2017.

Book Title: The Four in One Gospel of Jesus

Book Release Date: May 1, 2017

Genre: Christian non-fiction
About The Book

The Four in One Gospel of JESUS is the Four Gospels compiled chronologically and contextually, this giving the fullness of each Bible story in the Gospels. This unique material is describing the life of Jesus in its fulness, without the repetitions. It stores all facts about Jesus and comprises a full biography of Jesus Christ. It’s a chronological Bible project, but also a contextual one, featuring subjects such as: Jesus in the Old Testament, the story of the birth of Jesus, Jesus life, Jesus saves, Jesus Cross, Jesus crucifixion, Jesus death, Jesus blood, Jesus tomb, Jesus resurrection, Jesus in Heaven, Jesus works, Jesus miracles, Jesus baptism, Jesus crown, Jesus call, The Jesus teaching, the Passion of Jesus, etc. It shows us how we can be walking with Jesus – the Anointed One, and how we can be servants of Jesus. The book will show You that King Jesus loves You, and will trigger our falling in love with Jesus as well. It’s a one of a kind material indeed, the result of thousands of hours of work in compiling, referencing, structuring and fitting all details in this easy to read, yet, fully referenced edition of the Four Gospels of the Bible.

About The Author

In 1992 Nikola Dimitrov experienced a miraculous conversion, receiving Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Since 1995 he has been a full time minister of the Gospel, serving as pastor, Bible teacher, preacher, and Christian educator. He started his first church in 1994, which is still standing today, and in 1998 he began his traveling ministry. Nikola is currently pastoring several church groups in Bourgas, Bulgaria and is frequently sought out as a speaker around the country. He also serves as a Bible teacher at the Apostolic Kingdom Institute in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.

As editor-in-chief of Vetil Media Ministry, Nikola has translated and published more than thirty books into Bulgarian, as well as writing some himself. He is passionate for a glorious Church, without spot, wrinkle or any such thing. Nikola’s dynamic preaching pointedly encourages believers to be everything the Lord created them to be. He then encourages his congregations to take responsibility in word and deed toward that end.

As a translator, Nikola has also produced and distributed around the nation nearly 1000 Bulgarian versions of audio and video teachings by famous foreign preachers and teachers.

As part of a charity in Bulgaria, along with other volunteers, Nikola takes care of needy people from the minorities, distributing clothes, food, medicine, and school materials to children.

Nikola is married to Helen, and they have two lovely young-adult daughters, Annie (which means grace) and Mikaela (which means who is like God?). Both are part of Nikola and Helen’s ministry, serving in the area of music.

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Tour hosted by Write Now Literary www.wnlbooktours.com

NEED YOU DEAD by Peter James

The latest in the DS Roy Grace series is available!

NEED YOU DEAD by Peter James

Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.
When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalizingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined.
 

“Superior….This skillful twister shows why James was awarded the 2016 CWA Diamond Dagger.”
—Publishers Weekly *Starred Review*
“In my thirty four years of policing, never have I come across a writer who so accurately depicts ‘The Job’.”
—Detective Investigator Pat Lanigan, Office of the District Attorney, NYPD
“A real page-turner…Peter James is a talented writer and one I would love to read again.”
San Francisco Book Review
 

*His life in film:  Living in LA and producing films (Merchant in Venice with Al Pacino) eventually led Peter to write bestselling novels.  In 2001, he co-founded Movision Entertainment Limited where he was CEO until 2005. Movision produced these thirteen films on which he is an Executive Producer
*Adaptations – There are 3 smash-hit play adaptations of his work and potential TV series pick up for his famous Detective Roy Grace.  Current play, NOT DEAD ENOUGH stars Laura Whitmore and Bill Ward.
*Peter is an avid car buff and loves to motor race!  His first car was a 1929 Rolls Royce hearse and favorite cars he’s owned include a 1961 MGA 1600, a 1966 Mini Cooper S, a 1972 drophead Boss engined Mustang, a 1963 fixed head 3.8 Jaguar E-Type, a 1971 drophead V12 E-Type (the sixth one built) a 1986 BMW M5, a 1997 Aston Martin DB7, a 2004 Aston Martin Vanquish, my current Brabus S-Class Mercedes, my 2008 Bentley Continental Speed, my current Aston Martin Vanquish Volante and our classic 1987 Mercedes 500SL.
*In 1994 Penguin published his novel, Host, on two floppy discs – as well as print formats – and it is now in the Science Museum as the world’s first electronic novel.   It caused huge controversy, he was pilloried in the media for attempting to destroy the novel, and made front page news on many papers around the globe, all equally furious!  He subsequently became a media spokesperson for the electronic publishing age, and in 1996 found himself as a keynote speaker at a conference at UCLA on the future of reading, alongside (gulp) Steve Jobs and the CEO of Time Warner!
*His first job was cleaning Orson Welles’ home for 10 shillings an hour!

THE ALEX CONNOR CHRONICLES: ONLY

In ONLY: The Alex Connor Chronicles Book Three, alternate realities tangle sassy and sexy Alex Connor in confusion and bring her close to forgetting who she is and everyone she loves. She finds herself trapped by the king of the Fae, and he’s not letting her go until he gets what he wants.

If she does escape, will she ever pick up where she left off with her sexy Adonis Ryan? And can she control the new power she never knew she could wield—one over life and death itself—or will she be entangled in a realm whose ruler is hell-bent on entrapping her and someone she holds dear, forever?

A maniacal laugh breaks through the dank, frigid prison. Unsure how I could have missed it before, I am suddenly hyperaware of someone else close by.

“Who’s there?”

Do I really want an answer? Whoever’s there is either responsible for me being here or making sure I stay put until they get what they want. The answer comes in the form of a male voice, one bearing the tones of a person who holds all the cards, the control, and the kingdom.

“Alex Conner—Eila, as my foolish son so lovingly addressed you—how do you like your new home? I find it more than adequate for someone of your stature. There’s only one reason you are not dead, and that is because I need something from you, Ms. Conner. Something I will get by any means necessary.”

Staring out into the darkness, I can hardly make out the form speaking to me. I can’t see any other cells, but I am sure they exist. The space appears unending outside my sight. Booted feet approach, and I see the king coming into view in green velvet robes and a metallic crown resembling branches on his head. As he moves closer, I can barely grasp the resemblance to the boy I knew as a child, yet there’s no mistaking who he is. The only question is what he wants. Making me pay for what happened to his son is my first guess, but he’s not attacking me, as I would expect him to, if that were what he wants.

“I’m sorry about Lestan, your son. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I loved—I love him. Let me try to bring him back. We can work together. Is this all really necessary? I wasn’t even the one who did it!”

My anger is coming purely from a place of grief and the fear of being entrapped in this place all alone. More laughter echoes around me as the king’s head falls backward and his insanity becomes horrifyingly apparent. He strides forward and hovers just outside the bars where any move I make toward him will be greeted with the same fiery pain as before. Not wanting to show the king that he, or my circumstances, scare me in any way I approach the bars so we are face-to-face with only mere inches separating us.

“My son chose his fate when he failed me over and over again. And allowing himself to die at the hands of a lower being is what he deserved!” The king, Lestan’s poor excuse for a father, screams his final words laced in his own spit and venom into my face, yet I refuse to take even one step back. If I’m not here to pay for what happened to Lestan or to bring him back, then why in the hell did he bring me here?

Reaching underneath my eye to wipe away his spittle from my face, I step closer to the bars of my shitty cell and stare into the king’s face. Enraged to a point of blurring the lines between sanity and mania, my teeth course across each other in a painful jarring sound. Unlatching my jaw, I spit my words right back at him. “Then what does the king of Avalon, of the Fae, want from me, huh? What can I possibly have that you need?”

He stares at me, and for a second I see him searching for something. Is it my face? My eyes? As he stares, I see a flicker of recognition followed by something that could be pain, yet in an instant it’s gone. It means something, but the silence in our shared space, a silence that isn’t completely quiet because I can still hear the blood rushing and pounding in my ears, is an eerie quiet, one on the precipice of a vicious storm, a tragic, world-ending hurricane.

“All in due time, my dear. All I need from you I will find soon. So soon. If you think your life was full of misery before, you’re in for quite a shock, because the things I can and will do to you far exceed anything you’ve experienced before. That I promise you, just as I promised my son the same if he didn’t do as I asked. And I assure you, he fought me for a long time, and look what he became. A jealous man-child worth killing. Now what do you think will become of you, Alex? I know I’m dying to find out.”

Parker Sinclair gives credit to the development of her imagination and passion for writing to multiple childhood destinations lacking indoor plumbing. While attending college, Ms. Sinclair studied biological sciences and psychology, specifically animal behavior, but her love has forever been to write. Since 2007, Ms. Sinclair has called Virginia Beach home where she is a licensed professional school counselor and a full-time writer, and finds time to write late into the night after her kiddos and in many cases, her husband are fast asleep.

Previous Books from Parker Sinclair:

Trust: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book One

Truth: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book Two

Forbidden: An Alex Conner Chronicles Novella

Eve of the Exceptionals

Facebook:  ParkerSinclairbooks
Instagram:  ParkerSinclairAuthor
Twitter:  Parker_Sinclair

Cheryl Holt's FOREVER series tour and giveaway

 
 
 

My new FOREVER series is coming tomorrow.  The three books will be released together, and they are the perfect novels to read as you head off on your July vacation.  The heroines are sisters Abigail, Sarah, and Catherine Henley.  And my heroes are Alex, Christopher, and Nicholas.  All three men are cads of the highest order who have shocking scandals trailing along behind them.

Alex is actually scandalously divorced and considered the most notorious man in the kingdom.  Christopher is engaged to his rich cousin, but desperately seeking a mistress.  And Nicholas is…well!  He’s the most reckless rogue I’ve ever created.

Fast, fun dialogue.  Action and romance.  Drama and heartbreak.  Plot twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages.  All coming tomorrow!  Happy reading!

FOREVER YOURS 
Abigail Henley is an earl’s daughter, raised to a life of wealth and privilege. But all was lost when her parents died in an accident and distant relatives inherited. With no prospects and her dowry squandered, she’s forced to work as a governess, caring for the children of the rich and notorious. She’s lonely, chafing at the unfairness of her situation, and wishing she could change her fate—or at least regain some of the status and position she once had.

Alex Wallace was ruined by scandal. With his being from a prominent military family, he expected to have a long and successful career in the army. Instead, he’s a scorned, dissolute, and divorced man who was forced to resign his commission and is raising two daughters who were sired by another man. He’s weary of gossip and innuendo, and he leads a reckless life, trying to prove he doesn’t care about anything.

When Abigail arrives to work for Alex and watch over his two girls, she stumbles on a family torn apart by tragedy. Can she heal the wounds that have been inflicted?

FOREVER MINE 
CATHERINE HENLEY was raised as the rich, spoiled daughter of the Earl of Middlebury. But when tragedy struck and distant relatives inherited the family estate, she was cast out into the world and forced to make her own way. She works as a lady’s companion, assisting and chaperoning various young ladies who are engaged to be married. She watches as they march through the swirl of parties and balls leading up to their grand day. Always she laments the fact that she will never be a bride herself…

CHRISTOPHER WAKEFIELD spent fifteen years in the army, but with his older brother’s death, he’s inherited his family’s bankrupt estate. He resigns his commission and returns to England where he quickly realizes he must marry an heiress to save his home. He agrees to wed his rich, unpleasant cousin, but when he meets poverty-stricken Catherine, he begins to wonder how he can do his duty to his family…

He’d thought it would be simple to wed for money. After all, marriages were never contracted for fondness or affection. But with love in the balance and a fortune on the line, how can Christopher ever choose the correct path…

FOREVER AFTER 
SARAH HENLEY grew up as the rich, cosseted daughter of an earl, but when her father died and distant relatives inherited, she fell down society’s ladder. To earn a living, she’s working as a lady’s companion and, with no dowry or prospects, she’s given up hope of ever marrying. But when a dashing, dangerous rogue crosses her path, she starts to wonder if her fate might have changed…

NICHOLAS SWIFT is a gambler and wastrel who has always had to scheme and deceive others in order to get by. He’s perfected a life of pretense and trickery that lets him thrive among the snobs of High Society. When he meets beautiful, lonely Sarah, he can’t help but be intrigued, but he could never be interested in a penniless female…

Yet Sarah isn’t like any woman he’s ever met before. Can her affection for him make any difference? Can she persuade him to become the man he was always destined to be.  

Cheryl’s giving away 10 autographed print copies of Book #1, FOREVER YOURS a Rafflecopter giveaway    

Cheryl Holt is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author of forty-seven novels.
She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age 40, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance, where she was stunned to discover that she has an incredible knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.
She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre, and her emotional, dramatic, and riveting stories of passion and illicit love have captivated fans around the world. She has won or been nominated for many national awards. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.
Cheryl lives and writes in Hollywood, California. www.cherylholt.com.

Feature of THAT CRAZY PERFECT SOMEDAY by Michael Mazza

 The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world’s wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she’s intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow. Conflicts compound as Mafuri’s personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.
Amazon             B&N              Indiebound
Michael Mazza is a fiction writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. His stories have appeared in Other Voices, WORDS, Blue Mesa Review, TINGE, and ZYZZYVA. He is best known as an internationally acclaimed art and creative director working in the advertising industry. Along with being named National Creative All-Star by Adweek, his work appears in the Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress. He has lectured throughout the country and abroad, most notably at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He has attended the Iowa Summer Writers’ Workshop, the Stanford Creative Writing workshop, and the Wharton School Executive Education MBA program. That Crazy Perfect Someday is his first novel. Connect with Michael at his websitewww.mazzastory.com or on Twitter and Instagram: @mazzastory

EVERY PLACE by Philonda C. Johnson

Write Now Literary is pleased to announce Every Place by Philonda Johnson, Virtual Book Tour May 15-26, 2017.

Genre: Christian, Business

Book Release: March 31, 2017

Philonda Johnson is the dynamic combination of successful entrepreneur and engaging speaker with valuable insight to share. Her mission is to help others fight for their MasterPurpose by empowering them to realize their Divine value and need for faith-fueled courage.

She is the Founder and CEO of The Leadership Playground, a development company that focuses on kick-starting the growth of a leader by focusing on the power of play, creativity and wholehearted living. She often draws from her background in Psychology and a decade of experience as an urban educator to inspire her coaching and leadership work. Philonda’s employment expertise is derived from serving 9 years as the Founding Principal of a successful charter school in Washington, DC. Philonda has a deep heart for and is dedicated to advancing women of color leaders, spirit-led entrepreneurs, and school administrators.

Philonda hosts her own motivational online radio show and podcast, The Audacity to Shine with Coach Philonda, and Every Place on her newly launched Network, the Brave Entrepreneur Radio Network. She is excited for the release her first major book, Every Place: When our intimacy with God transforms how we experience fear and launch our MasterPurpose Business. Philonda’s book will be released March 31st, 2017.

She incorporates her professional expertise, personal trials and life triumphs into every presentation and conversation to have a transformational impact. She can connect with and inspire her audience. Philonda can weave her training goals into a beautiful story that makes key concepts sticky and actionable. Her energetic and audacious approach is refreshing, honest and leaves the audience ready to achieve their goals. Her mission is to help others fight for their MasterPurpose by empowering them to realize their Divine value and need for faith-fueled courage.

Every Place isn’t your typical book about entrepreneurship. It is Philonda’s beautiful and intimate testimony of how she overcame fear, developed a deeper relationship with God, uncovered her Master Purpose and transformed as a leader in her business. Every Place provides an exciting roadmap for Christian entrepreneurs who desire to design, build and launch their business God’s Way. Using the Biblical character Joshua’s legacy as a leader, readers will learn the essential tools and strategies required to experience breakthroughs and success in your Christ-centered business. Philonda pushes Christian entrepreneurs to be audacious and to S.L.A.Y. in their business: Seek God, Love God, Act for God and Yield Fruit for God. This book was written in honor of every brave entrepreneur that has struggled to find their Divine purpose and launch a business in alignment with their dreams. This book was written for you.

Excerpt

You made it—you finally made it! You are the guest of honor at the fabulous bash thrown to celebrate the audacious decision you’ve made to pursue a life of abundance, power and liberty. When it comes to getting what you want out of life, the single most important thing to know is that God has already blessed your path. Joshua 1:3 says, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.” (NLT) Now, with the realization of this beautiful promise, all you must do is choose. Choose to construct a masterpiece life built on a deep understanding of the God you serve and your Divine purpose. I love to call this your MasterPurpose. Clarity about your MasterPurpose will impact how you will show up in the world and leave your mark as an Entrepreneur. 

When you decide to step out of your own way and into beautiful alignment with your MasterPurpose, all things are possible. This is a brave c hoice and not for the scared, timid or weak leader. It is a declaration to the world that you believe your life, purpose, message and talents are worth fighting for. To reach our fullest potential, we must train ourselves to have an audacious mindset, which frames how we perceive and respond to situations especially adversity. An audacious mindset is the defining factor between experiencing a life of abundance or scarcity. Remaining connected to your MasterPurpose requires a shift in your thinking and actions. It requires a deep and intimate relationship with God.

I yearn to be close and in the presence of God. The battle wounds and scars of life have taught me one important lesson. As I have matured as a believer, I have learned that I am nothing without an intimate relationship with my creator. For in his presence, all things are made new. More specifically, in his presence all believers have access to God’s peace, love, mercy and wisdom. Our close relationship with God activates our MasterPurpose, the Divine plan for our life. He shows us the desires of His heart for us and is the source of our own ambition. He inspires us to dream big and desire radical success in every area and level of our lives. Your MasterPurpose could be a ministry, an entrepreneurial venture, a book, a family or even a school. Your MasterPurpose births your entrepreneurial venture. It could be a book, a clothing company, a law practice or even a school. It is the idea you believe God has commissioned you to lead to benefit His people. We all have been called to be leaders of faith entrusted with an assignment to fulfill while here on Earth.

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UNSTOPPABLE – Activating your gifts by Shaniece M. Wise

Write Now Literary Book Tours is pleased to announce Activating Your Gifts, by Shaniece M. Wise Virtual Book Tour, May 1-12, 2017.

Genre: Business Owners, Aspiring Business Owners, Professionals, Inspiration, Growth, Development.

ISBN-10: 0997576006

ISBN-13: 978-0997576009

ASIN: B01K6PELIA

Speaker | Personal and Business Development Coach | Executive Trainer | Author

Shaniece M. Wise is a Speaker, Personal and Business Development Coach, Executive Trainer and Author who helps others identify, activate, and maximize their gifts. As a coach, she considers herself an “Activation Specialists,” who empowers people in discovering and activating their interest, developing a career around their interest, and turning that passion into income. She brings these strategies to life through fifteen years of success in direct selling, coaching, and mentoring. Her successful experiences have provided her with both the confidence and knowledge to teach audiences across the United States how to move from a place of survival, to a place of thriving by turning thoughts into actions.

Shaniece is also the founder of the Unstoppable Community TN. Unstoppable Community is a community for Entrepreneurs, Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Professionals that are looking to grow personally and professionally in order to serve others with their gifts.

Over the last fifteen years Shaniece has traveled around the United States teaching and coaching on self-motivation, growth and development, and how to live life with expectation. After years of experience, she transitioned from career to purpose, and that is when her Coaching Practice was brought to life.

“Activating Your Gifts Workbook”

What Is This Workbook Designed To Do?


This is the first workbook in the “Awakening Series: Activating Your Gift.” It is designed to aid you in identifying your gift that God has put inside of you. The goal of this workbook is to make you feel uncomfortable in operating in the same place. My prayer is that it causes you to want to shift from a place of being complacent, and challenge you to be exactly what you are supposed to be; no longer just existing, but thriving and living an abundant life. It is designed to make you look at yourself, identify what you enjoy, and allow you to dream again. It is designed to assist you with letting some things go that may be blocking you from your successful future and a life of abundance.

The Activation Process is about development and growth. It is about getting to know your gifts and strengths. Realizing that you already have exactly what you need to be successful, you must learn how to activate it. The ultimate goal is to operate in a career that you absolutely love, create an organization that changes the world, and become the person that you are destined to be.

When you break down the Activation Process, the first step is to identify what your gifts and strengths are. That is the focus of this workbook. You must identify what makes you happy and what brings you joy. The definition of “Identify” means to establish or indicate who or what (someone or something) is. This is the first step to beginning your journey.

Once you identify what your gift is, you use the tools provided to get into action and activate it. This is where you research, develop, figure out your target markets, build your customer base, and execute. This definition of “Activation” is to make (something) active or operative; to convert (a substance, molecule, etc.) into a reactive form.

The last piece of the Activation Process is where you maximize your gifts and strengths in a way that allows you to earn an income. This is where the sky is the limit for you. The definition of “Maximize” is to make as large or great as possible; to make the best use of.

Excerpt

Transformation . . .


I want to challenge you to take a look at yourself and identify what is keeping you from reaching your highest destination. What is hindering the gift that is inside of you from being ignited and birthed? I want to see you transform from the inner to the outer. The definition of “transform” is to make a thorough or dramatic change in form, appearance, or character. Let’s choose today to begin transforming your thoughts, views, and actions, so that you can begin to identify, activate, and maximize the gifts that have been lying dormant.

I have observed many entrepreneurs who start businesses and have great success . . . until life throws them a curveball. When entrepreneurs fail to deal with the personal issues that seem to be holding them down, it is possible that they will fall and never get up. These issues, situations, and relationships are like road blocks hindering them from truly activating the gifts that are stored inside of them. We must learn how to personally develop, declutter, and grow to change our situation and create a life of abundance. My goal is for you to activate your gift and become the 360 degree person that I know you can be. Your gift is waiting patiently to be ignited, birthed, and developed.

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A chat w/Kevin Michaels, author of STILL BLACK REMAINS

Please tell us about STILL BLACK REMAINS.

Still Black Remains” tells the story of Twist, one of the leaders of an inner city gang named the Skulls, and the architect of his gang’s decision to kidnap a mafia soldier in a last-ditch attempt to end a violent turf war.  The war started when the Skulls tried carving out a bigger piece of the drug business in their Newark, New Jersey neighborhood from the organized crime family who had once been their partners.  Like most great ideas, the plan doesn’t turn out as expected. Negotiations deteriorate, words fail, the violence escalates, and the only recourse left is the inevitable execution of the hostage.  Chosen to be the one to execute the prisoner, the story covers Twist’s ability to pull the trigger, the consequences of that action, and his own internal struggle.  As the volatile situation grows more explosive by the hour, the lines between right and wrong blur; resolution comes with a price and Twist has to decide if pulling the trigger will get him what he wants, and if he can live with that cost.

From the description, it seems there are a lot of morality issues at play. Was that intentional or just an outgrowth of the story.

None of that was planned. My intention when I started was to write a story about life in a gritty, violent neighborhood where violence is justified as being “part of the game”.

I wanted to explore life in America’s inner cities and possibly capture the voice of a different generation struggling against all odds, through any means possible.  The characters in “Still Black Remains” learned that hard work by itself will never help them achieve what they want.  They have to work outside the system to get what they want. For Twist, it’s a struggle between his own individual desires and the subordination to the Skulls’ goals and needs.

The morality issues were an outgrowth of his character’s development – sometimes that takes you in directions you don’t necessarily plan to go and opens possibilities in the story.

Twist’s conflict is more personal than his gang’s conflict – it’s about using Michael Valentine’s kidnapping to get Malik back, or at least find out information about where he’s being held.  What’s at stake for Twist is his soul – he’s forced to wrestle with the question of whether or not he can pull the trigger to kill Valentine and if he does, live with those consequences.  The heart of the conflict has Twist questioning the limits of his own capacity for violence, struggling to confront the differences between vengeance and valor. 

Is there another genre you can see yourself writing in or that appeals to you, as far as writing?

I don’t have any specific genre in mind when I sit down to write.  It usually just starts with a story, an idea, or characters and builds from there without any thought to a genre.  I like to think that good stories can cross other categories and find an audience, and as a writer (and a reader), I appreciate stories that across a variety of genres.  Although I’m open to all genres, I don’t think I have the ability to write science fiction or fantasy – my imagination doesn’t work that way and I don’t have the kind of technical imagination based in science  that good sci-fi writers seem have.  Clearly I should have paid more attention to science when I was in school.

Did you always want to write?

Yes.  I loved writing assignments, essays, and research papers in school.  I wrote in high school and college (school newspapers and magazines), although it wasn’t until ten years ago, after a career as a corporate warrior that I decided to pursue my dream of writing fulltime.  I had written while working but never pursued it seriously.  Throughout all the years I worked in the business world I felt that dissatisfaction gnawing at me, and I knew I would never be happy until I pursued my dream. It comes down to that desire and need to tell a story.  Writing gives me complete satisfaction and in a lot of ways, creates the kind of happiness I had always been seeking and never found in business 

My only regret is that I didn’t choose this path earlier.

What is your favorite aspect of writing?

I love it all – from the initial draft where you just throw everything out on paper to the subsequent drafts where you shape, edit, and refine the story until you have a finished product.  If I had to choose one aspect I like best, I would say that I love writing dialogue.  There is something about putting together a conversation between two characters – telling a story through their conversation that I enjoy immensely. Good dialogue makes a story come alive for me.

Least favorite?

No. No such thing. Like my characters in “Still Black Remains” say: “it’s all part of the game”.

Did you grow up a reader? If so, what was your favorite book?

I was an avid reader as a kid – I read any and every book I could get my hands on, and I always loved the way writers created their own universe to tell their stories. It was all about the power of imagination – as a writer you could tell any story you wanted.

I’ve always loved crime fiction, and when I was younger I fell in love with stories by writers like Donald Westlake, Raymond Chandler, James Cain, and John MacDonald, then discovered Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, and Robert B. Parker. 

But for me, the book that made a difference was “Prince of Tides”. There’s a certain beauty in the writing of Pat Conroy that is awe-inspiring – he is so vivid and paints incredible images with his words.  “Prince of Tides” and “South of Broad” both take away my breath – not only the beauty of his words, but the grace and style of the imagery in everything he wrote.  There are times when you sit back as a writer, admire what someone else has written, and just say, “Damn….I wish I could write like that”. 

Do you have a Work In Progress you can share a bit about?

I have two other novels in the pipeline – the first that I’m finishing is one entitled “All Those Yesterdays” which is about domestic violence crossing three generations of a family.   Domestic violence is a subject that I’ve actively written about over the past few years, and this book allows me to not only explore the topic in detail but to feature a strong female character at the heart of the story.  In my other books I haven’t had the opportunity to do that, and it’s been exciting creating that kind of character while giving voice to a problem that affects individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. 

The second is tentatively entitled “A Steady Rain” and falls within the more traditional crime fiction category (“Breaking Bad” meets “Justified” with a touch of “Winter’s Bone” and “A Simple Plan”)

Have you ever had any fun being mistaken for Bryan Cranston?

It happens all the time so I’ve gotten used to it, and it’s kind of fun playing along when people ask, “Do you know who you look like”? 

I’ve had random strangers approach me in airports, grocery stores, even standing in line for a Broadway play – although if I was really Bryan Cranston I doubt I’d be waiting in line.  But any number of people have stopped me so they could pose for selfies and pictures, even after I’ve explained that “I’m not him”.  One lady said she thought I was Bryan Cranston, but after hearing me speak said I cursed more like Samuel L. Jackson.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished Laura McHugh’s “Arrowood” which was excellent, and Wallace Stroby’s “The Devil’s Share”.  If you’re a mystery/crime reader and haven’t yet discovered Stroby, you’re missing out on an excellent writer.

I’m all over the place with my reading list – a couple of the books on the nightstand right now are:

Next up:

Rise” by Cara Brookins

Bad Boy Boogie” by Thomas Pluck

Savages #2” by Don Winslow

The Second Mrs Hockaday” by Susan Rivers

Appreciate you taking the time to visit with Manic Readers, Kevin. Think a book or two has been added to my reading list.

“Still Black Remains” is an original work of fiction.  It tells the story of Twist, one of the leaders of an inner city gang named the Skulls, and the architect of his gang’s decision to kidnap a mafia soldier in a last-ditch attempt to end a violent turf war.  The war started when the Skulls tried taking a bigger piece of the drug business in their Newark, New Jersey neighborhood from the organized crime family who had once been their partners.  Like most great ideas, the plan doesn’t turn out as expected. Negotiations between the gangs deteriorate, words fail, the violence escalates, and the only recourse left is the inevitable execution of the hostage.  Chosen to be the one to execute the prisoner, the story covers Twist’s ability to pull the trigger, the consequences of that action, and his internal struggle.  As the volatile situation grows more explosive by the hour, the lines between right and wrong blur; resolution comes with a price and Twist has to decide if pulling the trigger will get him what he wants, and if he can live with that cost. 

 Kevin Michaels is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel LOST EXIT, as well as two entries in the FIGHT CARD BOOKS series: HARD ROAD and CAN’T MISS CONTENDER. He also released a collection of short stories entitled NINE IN THE MORNING. His short stories and flash fiction have also appeared in a number of magazines and indie zines, and in 2011 he was nominated for two separate Pushcart Prize awards for his short stories. Other shorts have been included in the anthologies for SIX SENTENCES (volumes II and III) and ACTION: PULSE POUNDING TALES (2).

In April 2017 his latest novel STILL BLACK REMAINS will be published by Literary Wanderlust LLC.

He has also published a number non-fiction articles and stories in print publications ranging from the NYTimes.com and the Life/Style section of The Boston Globe to The Bergen News and Press Journal and raged in print at places like the triCity News, NY Daily News, and The Press.

He is the Founder and Creative Director of Story Tellers which is a community-based organization that develops and promotes literacy through writing. Story Tellers provides under-served teenagers, young adults, and women from distressed situations the opportunity to discover the strength and power of their own voices (self-empowerment through self-expression).

Originally from New Jersey, he carries the attitude, edginess, and love of all things Bruce Springsteen common in his home state, although he left the Garden State to live and work in the foothills of the Appalachians (Georgia) with his wife, Helen and an assortment of children and pets.

HAROLD HARDSCRABBLE by G. D. Dess

Harold Hardscrabble is a sympathetic novel filled with philosophical musings on the state of society and our place within it. It captures the feelings of frustration and helplessness that many of us experience in our daily lives. These sentiments are embodied in the story’s contemplative, quietly charming protagonist, Harold, who, like Walter Mitty, lives largely in his own world of thoughts and dreams. We follow Harold’s transformation from a dreamer to a man of action as he struggles to discover how to live a meaningful life in a materialistic world.

A contemporary novel that recounts the journey of its ordinary, quietly charming protagonist Harold, whose search for self-realization goes extraordinarily wrong. It is today’s American tragedy.

 

Harold remains resilient in the face of the many disasters and injustices that assail him along the way; but, finally overcome by despondency, he feels forced to take matters into his own hands to attain justice for all the misfortunes he has been made to suffer. The story of his quest for self-realization unfolds slowly as it builds to its ineluctable, explosive climax.

“Harold Hardscrabble is a thoughtful and well-written observation of the human condition. Dess pushes members of the modern world to question many things and consider that maybe even something unlikely could come to be true.” Red City Review

“Harold Hardscrabble is smartly written, informed by the philosophies and ideas of various documents and writers, including Karl Marx, David Foster Wallace and Noam Chomsky.”Blue Ink Review

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G.D. Dess is the author of the novel His Vision of Her (Harper & Row). His critical reviews and essays appear in the Los Angeles Review of Books and Goodreads. Mr. Dess was born in Michigan and has lived in six states and ten cities throughout the country. For several years, he lived in Paris, France, where he taught English and worked as a translator. Currently he lives on the east coast with his Wheaton Terrier, Beckett.

 

AN AMOROUS DANCE by Jessica Lauryn

Hello, everyone!  I’m excited to be back, sharing my latest release, An Amorous Dance [The Rabourn Theater Series]!  Set in a majestic theater in New York, An Amorous Dance is a second-chance romance featuring a rather “villainous” hero, stage director Evan Masters, a man in need of reform and a lesson in the error of his ways, prior to winning the heart of his former flame, theater owner, Hannah Rabourn.

While writing my debut novel, Dangerous Ally, I fell in love with the idea of reforming former villains.  Much like the woman who pines for a dangerous man from the wrong side of the tracks and dreams of reforming him, I often find myself writing and reading about heroes plagued demons, in need of the love of the right woman, who alone can set them on a better path.  I enjoy writing series and I have been known to take the villain from a previous story and transform him into the hero in my current work.  In fact I like it so much, and have so many thoughts on the subject that a couple of years ago I crafted a workshop and hosted it for my writer friends from New Jersey Romance Writers (our local chapter of Romance Writers of America) entitled, Reforming the Former Villain: Does He Have What it Takes to be a Hero?

So, why reform a former villain?  In short, no work of fiction I’ve ever has the potential to bring about a more powerful happily ever after.  Think about it.  That moment in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, when the formerly unloving Scrooge has seen the error of his ways and he goes out into the world as a new man, brightening the lives of everyone he’s wronged.  The moment is incredibly profound, and that’s because we’ve seen Scrooge make such tremendous strides, having had, essentially, a total transformation of character.  The transformation is thrilling.  And the journey of a hero-to-reform is one well-worth reading!

When Hannah Rabourn, daughter of Rabourn Theater’s late owner, is attacked, a surge of flashes prompts her to consider that her father may have been murdered. Hannah’s antagonistic stage director insists her subconscious is merely seeking closure. But as she and Evan become close once again, Hannah’s suspicions about the past deepen, and she wonders whether the man she’s falling in love with for the second time knows more than he’s letting on.

Evan Masters’s dreams were shattered when theater-owner Baron Rabourn destroyed his budding acting career. Having forged an alliance with Rabourn’s former partner, Evan assumed a mission to transform Rabourn Theater into what it always should have been. Fellow conspirators believe Rabourn’s daughter is the key to power, and Evan is the means by which to achieve their ends.

But Evan’s feelings for Hannah are stronger than he believed. And when he realizes Hannah’s life is in danger, he must decide between his passion and his heart.

 

Unable to stay still, Hannah maneuvered her way around the surrounding obstacles so that she could pace. She’d been trying to convince herself that these flashes of memory didn’t mean what they appeared to, but the truth was that she’d always had her suspicions about the way her father died.

The doctors she’d spoken with had confirmed her father had a heart attack, but she’d always found it hard to believe that a man in his fifties—a man in excellent physical condition with no history of heart disease—would die suddenly, for what appeared to be no reason at all. Having felt this way from the get-go, she’d conducted a bit of research, from which she’d discovered that her father had had an argument with Bruce Lancaster prior to the start of her birthday dinner. The stress of whatever the they’d discussed might have taken a toll on him, and for years Hannah had believed that a heated discussion with the theater’s former owner had directly contributed to her father’s death. But if the images she’d been seeing were real, maybe her father’s death had had nothing to do with physiology at all.

Maybe he had been murdered.

“Hannah?” Evan called out as he opened the door. Failing to flick the light switch, he made his way around, almost tripping over the settee in the corner before asking, “Hannah, are you in here?”

Hannah covered her tearstained mouth. She had no desire to reveal herself, but she realized before she could hide that Evan had already seen her. After hastily wiping her face in hopes that he wouldn’t realize she’d been crying, she snapped, “What the hell are you doing in here?”

“Me? What the bloody hell do you think I’m doing in here?” Evan demanded, squinting at the gigantic mushrooms behind his back, as if they were going to agree with how ridiculous her question was.

“You shouldn’t have followed me. I wasn’t thrilled to see that my cousin decided to stay in a show her former stalker is a part of, but…I’m a big girl. I can handle anything that’s thrown my way, Evan Masters, I promise you.”

“Hannah, you’re shaking,” Evan said, catching her arm and pulling her back to him before she could walk away.

As Hannah looked downward, she realized Evan had no intention of releasing her. His grip was strong, but his palm felt like melted butter against her skin. She attempted to laugh at him, but instead fresh tears formed in her eyes. Evan took her into his arms before she could stop him, bringing her against his body with a force that demonstrated he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Unable to fight him, or whatever it was he was doing, Hannah allowed herself to be drawn against his warmth. His lightly bearded cheek sent tingles up her spine as it brushed against her own.

Evan held her, cupping the back of her head as he urged her toward the settee he’d all but killed himself staggering over a moment before. As he whispered a couple of soft, indiscernible things into her ear, the familiarity of his masculine scent soothed her raw nerves. In her mind, she held an unpleasant picture of him about to kiss her cousin’s shoulders, but the present moment played right over it, and Hannah let go of her anxiety, allowing herself to simply feel, to let her lover from another lifetime make everything right.

Evan brought his fingers beneath her chin and lifted her head so she was looking into his eyes. His smile giving way to a smirk, he said, “I saw you, Hannah. I saw the way you were looking at me when I was holding your cousin. The heat in your eyes wasn’t there out of concern for Alicia, or even because you were angry about my going ahead with the play. You emitted that scream because you wanted to be playing Blair on that stage. More so, because you wanted to be the woman that I was holding in my arms.”

Her eyes widening as her body grew cold with fury, Hannah said, “Clearly the sky-high opinion you’ve always had of yourself has only gotten higher. You make it sound as though you actually think I could still want you after all this time, knowing that I’m fully aware of what a bastard you really are.”

“You may hate me on the surface, Hannah, but I daresay your body responds quite differently. You shiver when I touch you and your skin warms on contact because it wants more, just as you wanted more the night I carried you off to the dressing room and gave you the passion that both of us so desperately craved.”

“So apparently you aren’t just egotistical, you’re also certifiably insane. You know, you’re offered an extensive benefits package as part of the position that you cling to with the very balls of your existence. You ought to ask HR for a referral—clearly the shrink who ought to be treating Sebastian Nathanson has some extra time on her hands.”

Evan secured her in a grip that prevented her from running. Easing her back against the wall, he said with fire in his eyes, “Is this crazy, Hannah?”

 

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Jessica Lauryn is the author of the bestselling romantic suspense series, The Pinnacles of Power. The Romance Reviews says that her debut release, Dangerous Ally, has, All the twists that a good suspense should have with just the right amount of passion and romance! Jessica is a proud member of Romance Writers of America as well as her local chapter, New Jersey Romance Writers, for which she has served on the executive board in several capacities. She has a talent for remembering her dreams, many of which are explored in detail in her stories. Though she resides in central New Jersey, her heart will forever belong to the picturesque White Mountains of northern New Hampshire.