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Saturday, January 4, 2020

A New Year - A New Beginning: My Review of Zeeka Chronicles by Brenda Mohammed

Hi everyone. I realize it is almost a year since I posted and I apologize for that. My life has become extremely busy with poetry and Greenwich Pen Women and Motivational Strips. In the meantime a lot of stuff has happened and it's mostly all good. One of my poems was chosen to be in The Walt Whitman Bicentennial Anthology, Poets To Come. Another was chosen to be hung on the wall of an art exhibition at the Canton, CT Library and one was chosen to be in a brochure for an art and poetry exhibition at The Norwalk Public Library called "Art&Text". 

I have had many different people on my radio show and our network has changed its name to Books and Entertainment network. So if you're looking for my shows they will be under Books and Entertainment Tales from the Pages. Now I can shorten it to BE Tales from the Pages. How cool those are my initials too. I swear we didn't choose it for that reason, though. 

I am working steadily on my third novel, "The Mill Valley High Five". Also, ta, da, I finally sent my second novel, the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, called: Who Is Jennifer Taylor? to my publisher. She has still not done anything about it but at least it is there. I am excited about this last book in the series, because it is written in third person. This is the first time I am writing in this POV so it's a challenge. I did it because I felt that some of the characters in the second novel needed a chance to be heard. Actually, some of them asked me to please give them more of a story. You know that authors are always having their characters talk to them. Mine did all summer and that is why when that happened I started the third book. I am now on Chapter 27 so it should be finished soon. As you might know if you have been reading this blog for awhile, I don't outline and never know what my ending will be. It is still a mystery even now. My characters will figure it out I'm sure. LOL

So as the new year begins I thought I would start with a review of a very unusual and interesting book by Brenda Mohammed, a woman who has twenty-four books published and has won many awards, including: Readers Favorite International Book Awards 2018 for her book, I Am Cancer Free.  Zeeka Chronicles: Revenge of Zeeka won a gold award from Readers Favorite in Magazine Readers Choice Awards 2018, placed in the top ten for the Author Academy Global Awards 2018 and won an award in the category of young adult thriller in readers Favorite International Book Awards 2018. So it was with great delight that I began to read this book. Here is my review and afterward I will put the interview I had with Brenda here for you to hear.

Review for Zeeka Chronicles: Revenge of Zeeka Books 1-5 by Brenda Mohammed

 Zeeka Chronicles will grab you in the beginning and compel you to keep reading

The story begins with a dream that a renowned doctor has and then finds out what he has dreamed is about to come true. Imagine you are thirty years in the future on a small island that is very developed and was once a haven for tourists. However, due to a freak outbreak of the Zika virus and the rise of zombies created by a rogue doctor, the tourists have abandoned this idyllic island. Now the nightmare that Dr. Raynor Sharpe had experienced is about to come true. A man with a false head has arrived and claims that he is Number Nine, a zombie created by Master Zeeka. He tells the doctor he knows of others who have false heads and mechanical bodies who are being trained by this Master Zeeka to kill. But attempts to find out more are thwarted by the disappearance of this strange man. All that is left is the false head and the recording made of his admission. Although this is a small thing it sets off a whole series of episodes where there is a search for this mysterious Number Nine. As the search continues we are introduced to a series of characters that could have come out of the movies of the 40’s and 50’s including several police detectives and one called Hammer. Hammer could have been played by any of the stars who were hard on the outside and good at strong arming the bad guys with warm hearts. In fact, the entire book feels like a rerun of a good mystery story with its cinematic scenes. The bad guy creates a big disturbance during a public event and the whole thing escalates. There are scenes everywhere including the forest where the police detectives go to try to find the missing zombies and the evil Dr. Zeeka. Dr. Zeeka was believed to be dead but he is very alive as he manipulates his zombies to cause trouble and kill innocent people. In the middle of all this is the love story of Raynor and Janet and how it is related to the story unfolding around them. During the entire time reading this book the reader keeps wondering what will come next. There is almost never a time when the reader feels that things are settled in the first book. By the second book when the reader feels everything has calmed down things escalate again and the whole story continues at a breakneck pace until the end of Book 5. During the reading of this story there are many scientific advances in it. Since the story starts out in 2034 and continues to 2036 there are things in there that are probably in the beginning stages now. However, it is clear that the author has done extensive research on certain of these advances. As someone who likes a little romance with my science fiction I really enjoyed the relationships here. I would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction. Let’s hope that some of the things she has in here will come to fruition. 

Here is the radio show on which Brenda and Shiju H. Pallithazheth were guests:

Until the next time I hope everyone had a good New Year's Eve and you are starting the new year well. Please comment here and tell me about what some of your plans are for the new year. 

I forgot to mention that I am on Twitter as @barbehr. I have joined a wonderful group called #WritingCommunity. If you are a writer on Twitter this is a great place to be. It is very supportive and will get you more quality followers who are writers. 

My next radio show: BE Tales from the Pages, will be on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 4pm Eastern time with Cynthia Sharp, Michael Amidei and Susan Strecker. This should be an amazing show! Cynthia is a poet laureate, Michael is an incredible musician and poet and Susan is a multi-published author with a new book.

Don't forget to leave a comment here. Or you can comment under the Facebook link or send me a word on Twitter. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

So it's March and I haven't posted for six months. Sorry, but life got in the way. I got involved with another poetry group, Motivational Strips and this has taken a big chunk of my time. Also had a lot of events going on so I neglected this blog.

I originally started a blog because I didn't think anyone was listening to me and so I decided to write out what I was thinking. Now with Facebook it seems like everyone writes everything anyone is thinking and sometimes a little too much. I usually try to post the happy things and stay away from anything that might be too sad. I don't post cute puppies and kittens but there are enough of those around to make me happy. I do post happy photos of me and my family and achievements that I have had. Sometimes, rarely, I still post poetry and announcements of things.

This is a post to let you know that I got another 5 star review for If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor!! it's very exciting to get a review for a book that was published six years ago!! I am putting it here, though I had it on Facebook and Twitter and Google Groups+. But there are still some people who don't read any of that and just do blogs. If you have seen this before I apologize for repetition but for me I can't show you this review enough!! LOL

Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. How many times do we hear this in a lifetime? Jennifer Taylor seems to have it all...More 

My guest author today is Joshua Grant or Joshua the Gamer from his outstanding and innovative website: I met Josh because I got an email from him, went to the website and immediately wanted to know more about this person who was an author and who gave back to charity from his website. So I invited him to be on my radio show, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages. He was my guest for October and he also is my guest today here on the blog. Let's meet him:

Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in the District of Columbia after my family got stationed there.  I've lived most of my life in lovely sunny Colorado where I still reside (because it's lovely, and sunny, and mountains).
Besides writing what is your occupation?
I used to act and teach.  Nowadays I substitute teach just to be involved, work with kiddos at church, and run Diabolic Shrimp.
What do you do besides writing? Do you have any hobbies?
I do a LOT of writing! :)  But on the rare occasions that I come up for air, I love to play video games and watch movies with friends.  I think food is a hobby maybe?  I love to just get together with people, joke and laugh and share a meal together.
Who or what influenced you to begin writing?
My middle school teacher Mrs. Munos definitely made me believe I could write something decent.  From there, it was largely a smattering of good movies, books, and video games that drove my creativity.
In what kind of genre is your writing? Do you want to explore other genres?
I mostly write Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, with the occasional Horror/Thriller novel.  Not sure I can branch out much more than that! :)
Please tell our audience what a typical day of writing would be for you.
I either write first thing when I get up or last thing just before going to sleep.  I usually just spend an hour or two a day writing and that's it.
How many books do you have published? Please let us know the path to publication for your first book.
Currently I have three books published: Pandora (Horror/Thriller), Jericho (Horror/Thriller), and The Fifth Ascendant (Young Adult Fantasy).  For Pandora, my first book, I originally went the path of trying to woo traditional publishers.  Eventually, I began to look at self publishing and found that to be a wonderful path as long as you're willing to work very hard.  I ended up publishing physical and ebooks through Amazon.
Would you please tell our listeners about each of the books you have published?

Pandora is a horror/thriller book set aboard a cruise ship.  After the Emerald Rose disappeared and returned a week later, business tycoon Patrick Carver sends out a special forces team to investigate.  Pandora is filled with clever twists, creepy monsters, and hapless heroes.

Jericho is the second book in my horror/thriller series The Organization.  A father takes is son to live in the mountain town of Shadow Pines with his exwife for the summer.  A police officer searches for her missing brother in the same town.  They will all quickly discover that Shadow Pines isn't as empty as it appears.

The Fifth Ascendant is my fun and actiony Young Adult Fantasy novel.  Kal is an Ascendant, a warrior with ultimate powers.  But is he fighting for the right side?
How did you get the idea to make a website called Diabolic Shrimp?
When I was a brand new author, I quickly discovered how hard it was to find a place that was truly supportive and didn't have a million rules or cost money.  Thus, I set out to make one.  I created a place that's free and no hassle to authors and readers where I buy and review books and give books away to readers.  The 'Diabolic' is for my diabolic plan to get every author on there one day and take over the world.  The 'Shrimp' is because authors are just the little guys, but together we're pretty impressive.  Plus, it's just a fun quirky title that brings a smile to peoples' faces and I love that.   

  About how many books do you buy from visitors to your website a year? What benefit do you find from buying and reviewing your visitors’ books?
I currently am up to buying a book a day from authors!  It's really grown in the couple of years Diabolic Shrimp has been around!  There are many benefits to this.  First off, I get to support other authors which is why I set out to create Diabolic Shrimp in the first place.  But the cool part is, people really respond when you show them kindness.  I gain money through advertising on the site which makes it sustainable, and I get to put some of that money towards meaningful causes like ocean exploration or breaking the world's poverty cycle.
What gave you the idea of sending a shrimp into outer space? Do you think this will ever happen?
Haha!  That mission was just my way of sprucing up the site!  Diabolic Shrimp used to be a lot more rigid back in the day.  I wanted to make it a little more fun (and I totally love space exploration and would be over the moon if I got to send shrimp to the moon).  It hasn't happened, yet, but as they say, if the sky's the limit, why are there footprints on the moon?
Do you have any in person or online events scheduled for your books in the near future? Please tell our listeners where they can find these.
I'm really focused right now on bringing two new projects to market, Nexus my young adult sci fi thriller and Silly Tales from Albanon my quirky short fantasy.  That's taking most of my time outside of Diabolic Shrimp, so I don't really have much else planned on the horizon at the moment.
Where can our listeners find your books? 
Readers can find my books on Amazon or Diabolic Shrimp.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read any of them for free.  Links are below if you want to check them out!

Diabolic Shrimp:
Finally, one last question I always ask my guests. Are you a plotter or a pantser? That is do you need to outline or do you just write?
I think both?  Haha!  Maybe like a Plotantser or something.  I have each chapter generally plotted out in my head and then I just start writing from there.

Thank you so much for being my guest today, Josh, and I hope that readers will go and listen to the excellent radio show where you talk more about everything. It took a few months but you got here. I also hope that my readers will check out your website. It has the two f's: free and fun!!!

Until the next time, I apologize for the delay and in that time you may notice that there is no longer a side panel here. Many of the features have been discontinued on this so I will be moving to another place very soon. Watch this space as Rachel Madow always says.

Also, my radio show, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages will be on this Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 4pm EDT. Check my Author page or my Facebook page for the link. 

Happy almost Spring!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Meet Guest Author A. M. Wilson

Is it really August 23 already? It seems that summer has sped by and true to my word I am trying to post at least once a month. So much has happened in the short time between my last post and now.

Okay, I just realized that in my haste to post the new video for After I posted instead my documentary "Remembering Hal". Anyone who was confused I apologize. I am going to put that video on here now.     

Also will edit that post to include this video now. There will be a new version of "Remembering Hal" with better sound balance on my channel on YouTube soon.

Okay, so hope you all have been having a great summer. I will discuss the things I've been doing after I introduce you to my Guest Author, A. M Wilson. He is also going to be a guest on my show on Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 4pm EDT on Red River Radio Tales from the Pages. 

If you miss the interview I am posting it here for you. Any listeners who remember the technical difficulties we had when A. M. was first on the show will also know that he was rescheduled to come back in August alsong with my other delightful guest author and poet, Cynthia Sharp. I will have Cynthia on the blog at a later time. Until then, please enjoy my guest today, A. M. Wilson:


Hi A. M. so happy you are on my blog. I am very glad you have come back on the show.

         Would it be okay to ask why you are called A M? What is your first name?
     A M came from a practical desire to have a name that       was unique and stood out -- especially in today's search field. Alex Wilson is a Detroit Tigers pitcher, an LA-based weather person, and a 19th-Century Scottish Ornithologist. My college freshman year roommate suggested A M as a way to separate myself from the pack -- drawing F. Scott Fitzgerald and David Foster Wallace as other noms de plume from notable authors. 

  So your name is Alex Wilson. I actually like initials for authors.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Flint, Michigan, which has seen some hard times. Any fan of Michael Moore knows well the economic contraction that Flint has gone through. We moved when I was an early teen to a small farming community where my mom grew up -- Carson City, Michigan. The journey since then has taken me all over the U.S. from Owensboro, Kentucky, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to St. Louis, to Silicon Valley, California where I live now. A lot of that went into Populace, which I think is about not only the main character's coming of age, but also what it means to be an American.

     Besides writing, what is your occupation? Do you have any hobbies and/or interests? 
     I have a lot of hobbies -- I love to hike and cook. I play        guitar and try to solve complex math problems. My ambitions often outstrip my capacity, though, which is most often tied up with my year old son. 

     Who or what influenced you to begin writing? 
I began writing as a reaction to my parents' divorce. I was five or six and having a rough time. My mother, an English professor, offered me a big spiral notepad and told me to write, anything and everything that came to mind, about the experience. I was so young I think a lot of the early stuff were badly drawn pictures but over time I fell in love with telling stories, by using allegory and with trying to affect the world around me. I was hooked, and I've been trying to create stories ever since.

When did you begin to write seriously and what did you write? Have you published anything before Populace?

Populace is my first novel. I began to write seriously in college. I had a great friend and roommate who encouraged my work. His dad was the head of the English department, coincidentally, and while my grammar was sometimes lacking, he could tell there was a deep passion in what I created. I had my first fan, which spurred me to push myself to get better. He also offered up a lot of new literature that was so different from what I had read from my parents, that it blew my mind. I began to understand writing as a continuum, with James Joyce, and later Thomas Pynchon on one end, and Ernest Hemmingway and later Cormac McCarthy on the other. I had the privilege to fall anywhere on the spectrum I wanted. 

What is your writing process? Please tell our listeners about a typical day of writing for you.
In a word: chaotic. I don't really experience writer's block, but I do experience a lot of non-sequiturs and pieces that try to connect. Sometimes it works well. A lot of time there's at least twice as much on the cutting room floor as what makes it in the final. The only way I've figured out where I can keep the good (lots of ideas, creative and interesting!) is to embrace the bad, which is having to read then re-read then read again the work for continuity and clarity. 

What inspired you to write Populace?
When I lived in St. Louis, I would have to drive through Northern St. Louis. It had broken roofs, collapsed buildings and no people on the streets. It reminded me of the images I'd seen of a war zone. I had grown up with this experience in Flint, and seen it in so many places -- from Owensboro to Chicago, but not in the same way in foreign countries. To have such poverty alongside such wealth was one thing, but to be so aggressively ignorant of it was another. This was a uniquely American ailment. And I've always wanted to write a uniquely American book.

What went into the writing of this book? Did you have to do a lot of research and what was it? 
I did a fair amount of research, but I really relied on stuff that I had around me. My dad has a sailboat, and there's a long passage in the piece on a sailboat. I've lived in many of the cities listed (Owensboro, for example). I spent a lot of time looking at the distances and had a friend engineer check the math. I spent a lot of time, kind of oddly, looking at maps. It was important to me that the journey was as seamless as possible. I didn't want it to raise any eyebrows for the reader, and the best way to do that is to make sure that everything makes total sense. I've driven out west a couple of times from middle America. Those trips also influenced the book. 

Would you please describe the path to publication for Populace
Starts and stops. I drafted it, sent to agents, and had one interested. She requested that I "clean it up" a bit and resubmit, which was the month before my son was born. I ended up taking six months to clean it up, and then the agent asked for me to go back through the whole process. I said "this is good enough to publish," so I did. Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing have awesome tools. I had a friend design the cover. It all came together really quickly after I made up my mind to do it.

Please tell our listeners a little bit about your book, Populace
It's a novel set after America has torn itself apart. All that remains of the New United States is Omaha, which is run by one company. The main character, Thomas Ignatius Stout, survived a terrorist attack and then was sent to find and destroy the man who committed the crime. 

Would you call it a dystopian novel? Why or why not?
Yes. Likely more dystopic than what I meant. Brave New World was a major influence on the book. I read it, and I remember thinking how incredible the logic of the whole thing was. It was inescapable. And to create a world like that was amazing. But, I think the heart of your question is do I consider the world dystopian, and in a way I most definitely do, but more specifically I just chronicled the world I saw around me. So I feel that if we say the book is dystopic, then we're saying that the world is dystopic. I think that it is in some ways, but that's the burden of a writer. We're tasked with the duty to lift men's hearts, as William Faulkner said. I think that it's like AA says about alcoholism, the first step is admitting you have a problem. People occasionally don't like my book -- they view books as a way to escape from their modern lives. But we in modern culture have so much escapism, I wanted to create a story that could entertain, sure, but also acted as a mirror -- as a cry in the woods for a better tomorrow. 

Are you doing any in person or online events? If so what are they and where can we find them?
Nothing scheduled. 

Well, that isn't true, because you are now on my blog and on Red River Radio Tales from the Pages. LOL

Finally this is the last question I always ask every guest. Are you a plotter or a pantser? In other words, do you write an outline or do you just sit down and write?
Ha, I like the term "pantser." I definitely just sat down and wrote when I started. I think now, I still do sometimes. It yields some really incredible perspectives and insights. Every once and a while I'll plan out things, but even when I get to the details themselves, I'll sit down and just come up with something. Then I have to make it all coherent, which is painstaking, but I think yields a much a stronger story, a much more emotional story, in the end. 

A. M. Wilson Bio:
A M Wilson has loved telling stories since he couldn't see over a kitchen counter. His first breakthrough novel Populace, an Orwellian thriller, is set for release in spring 2018. In his own words, Wilson has always loved humor, "humor that challenges our worldview, humor that gets us through hard times, humor that makes us realize our own humanity." As a novelist, has the burden to believe in everything as possible.

A M is from Flint, Mich., and has moved around a lot, entering a lot of brave new worlds -- to Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, California, Spain and Argentina. A M has been a farmer, a groundskeeper, a librarian, a fast-food worker, a bagboy, a political organizer and a shill. 

A M Wilson lives in the Bay Area with his wife and son. You can reach him at

Synopsis of POPULACE

America 2151. New York. Washington. Chicago. Los Angeles. All wiped out from nuclear blasts. The New United States of America is centered in Omaha, where the Leviathan Corporation provides a muted, controlled existence for its populace. Synthetic drugs keep them sane. The people are safe — for now — from the threats on the outside. 

Summoned to the president’s office, unlikely hero Thomas Ignatius Stout receives an extraordinary mission: Hunt down and return, dead or alive, the vicious killer responsible for destroying the lives of millions and millions of Americans, Joe Ikowski, who remains a thorn in the government's side. Tom accepts his burden and leads an expedition past Omaha's protective barrier and into the great unknown. That’s when Tom’s journey really begins.

Taking him from Kentucky to Arizona to Mexicali and the Rocky Mountains, Tom finds far more than he is searching for — and starts to learn the deeply complicated, disturbing truths of his own identity and a world in which he had only before scratched the surface. In this poignant page-turner, a novel that blends elements of science fiction, political thrillers and an Orwellian-style future, rising novelist AM Wilson takes readers on a wild ride inside what could become the future of the United States, if we ruin ourselves from the inside. It’s a novel that will make you think, no matter what you think of America.

Seriously, if you like dystopian or urban dystopian books check this one out and hope you get to hear the interview on Red River Radio Tales from the Pages.

Now for my summer. We went to the Taylor Swift concert and it was held even in the rain. It drizzled all the time but there were times when you needed an umbrella. We had ponchos but we got soaking wet. It was warm so it wasn't too bad and the music and special effects were outstanding. Then the following weekend we went to see "Mean Girls" on Broadway. That was so good we had to go home and see the movie. But you know what, the show is better than the movie so if you get a chance go see it. 

Hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and tune in to the show today. If you can't get there don't worry. You can hear it in archives. Just click on the link either on Facebook or Twitter. 

Until the next time, I might surprise you and post another time in August. Stay cool and dry.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A new video for After

When I met Astara Brynmor she said she did videos. And yes, for a very reasonable price, she has done a new video for After.

I hope you enjoyed that and you can go to Brynmor Productions to see all the different kinds of videos you can have done for your books. Also, Astara is a pleasure to work with. I am a very picky person and she listened and changed everything I asked her to change.

Also, I wanted to let everyone know that I am going to post a few author interviews soon. Meanwhile, I just wanted to share this video and please tell your friends who might have teens. You can also go to Amazon and check out what reviewers are saying about it.

On Thursday of this week coming up my show will feature two outstanding writers. Andrew Jonathan Cole and Joshua the Gamer. Andrew is a poet and Joshua is a published author and manages a website dedicated to helping both authors and the environment. His website, Diabolic Shrimp, is very unusual. He randomly buys an author's book and will review it. I met Joshua when he picked my book to buy and after exchanging a few more emails I decided I needed to have this author on my show. How many websites not only promote authors and their books but donate to the environment? Please tune in on Thursday, July 26 at 4pm EDT to hear both of these outstanding writers. The name of the show is Red River Radio Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio. The link to the show will be on my Facebook page either Tuesday or Wednesday. 

Until then, I hope you are having a good weekend. We went to see "Mama Mia" on Friday night and Sunday night my daughter got tickets to see Taylor Swift in concert. This should be a lot of fun but it may be in the rain. Anyway, we will be prepared as we can be. There are very strict rules on what you can and can't bring. So, no umbrellas and bags can only be a certain size, etc. I will be letting you know about how I felt about it. Might be a little old for one of these but I do like her music! 

Monday, July 16, 2018

AFTER is In Print!!

Finally, after almost two years after the galley was completely ready, my book, AFTER, is in print.
I will be debuting this on my Facebook pages and there will be a big book party here and on Facebook to celebrate soon. 

I know I haven't posted on here in a long time. Again, thank you to all who have stuck around to see if I do post. A lot of stuff has happened and now I have several people waiting to be seen on this blog. So I am back and ready to bring you more of new authors I have met and of course more about my life. 

First about my life. After last summer I started working on my manuscript of Who Is Jennifer Taylor and I can finally say that after a few final tweaks when I read all the comments, it will be sent to my publisher at last. For anyone who doesn't know and just stumbled on here for the first time, I am the author of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and Who Is Jennifer Taylor is the sequel to this book. My publisher is Lea Schizas of MuseItUp Publishing and I am hoping she will want to publish this. 

Now, for the people who are here from "Character Takeover", here is the answer to your first question:

The teacher opened the window and everything flew all over the room.

Now go here to find out the answer to the second question.

For the third question, you will need to go here.

Okay, thank you to all who participated in this little contest. I hope you had fun and learned a little bit about After.

Until the next time, my guest author for the first time in over a year, will be A.M Wilson, who has written a sci-fi urban  dystopian  novel. He will also be on my August radio show: Red River Radio Tales from the Pages. My July show will feature Andrew Cole and Joshua the Gamer from the very unusual and worthy Diabolical Shrimp blog. Check it out. Hope you are enjoying your summer. Next time I will talk about what I have been doing this summer. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

What Did I Do This Summer?

It's hard to believe it is October and I haven't posted here all summer. It has been a busy summer and I frankly had too much to do. So when someone on my publisher's thread said she had a new blog I realized I hadn't said anything about my summer here.

So for all those who have been waiting to hear and have not found out through Facebook or Twitter, my summer was fabulous! It started with my winning the award in the photo above at IndieGathering a film festival in Hudson, Ohio. I didn't go, but my dear friend and mentor, Amy Leigh McCorkle, picked it up for me there. She had her own awards to gather too. She is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker. Her films have also won awards. So here is the story of how I, a young adult author, decided to write my first screenplay.

For anyone who has read my poetry book, You'll Probably Forget Me: Living With and Without Hal, you have read my story of how I met my husband. I told this story to Amy and she said that it would make a great screenplay. I should write it. She urged me to write it and then enter it into a couple of film festivals. I did write it and Amy was kind enough to help me learn how to format a screenplay. With her help I found the entrance to all the film festivals and I entered my short screenplay, "The Kiss" into two of them: IndieGathering and Action on Film. I also tried entering it into a film festival close to me. So with my screenplay in three film festivals, I was sure it wouldn't be accepted into any of them. Imagine my surprise when both IndieGathering and Action on Film selected my screenplay. That would have been enough for me, but my film was nominated by both film festivals. IndieGathering nominated it as a short Romantic Comedy and Action on Film for Best Dialogue in a short screenplay. Ecstatic over these nominations I wanted to go to both film festivals, but finances were a problem. I felt sure I wouldn't get an award, but Amy kept assuring me I would place. So I was thrilled when I got FIRST PRIZE!!! at IndieGathering!!!

Not believing that Action on Film would even give me an award, I decided to prepare to go to Las Vegas where the festival was being held at the Palms Hotel. What clinched my decision to go was the film in which I was in was also nominated. Not sure if I talked about this film when it was done, but it is called "Remembering Hal". It is based on my book: You'll Probably Forget Me: Living With and Without Hal. Again, Amy loved my poetry and wanted to do something to help me remember my husband. So she picked out five poems and I read them interspersed with answering her questions. My daughter interviewed me and filmed it on the IPad and I sent it all to Amy. She put it together and this film was nominated for Best Short Documentary at Action on Film. It was supposed to screen there, but unfortunately, there was a problem with the DVD and it never screened. You can see it here on YouTube:

This movie was done last year and I had thought it was just a fun experience. But when I heard it might be screened in a Brennan Theater, which has reclining soft chairs and a large screen, I wanted to go. The experience in Las Vegas was fabulous and I met some amazing people including celebrities. But the best part is my short screenplay, "The Kiss" won RunnerUp for Best Dialogue in a short screenplay. I went to two awards dinners, met a few actors and an actress, and had a meaningful conversation with a director about his new film just screened.

The Palms was an awesome experience and it's sad to think that on that Las Vegas strip just outside our hotel the vicious actions of a deranged gunman caused so much pain and sorrow. Having been there so close to the time of the shooting, I felt it very strongly. My time in Las Vegas consisted of partying and dancing and having a good time. That is what people go to Las Vegas for and I hope that with this terrible tragedy, it won't affect the spirit of that place. You can see it even in the cab drivers, who were very courteous and informative. My heart goes out to this city that has suffered so much strife and my hope is that somehow we can stop these awful things from happening again. My deepest sympathy to anyone who lost a loved one or friend there and for all the hundreds of people who have been injured by the diabolical plan of that shooter.

There you have it, why I didn't blog all summer and I promise you I will try very hard to bring you special guests and authors.

Until the next time, enjoy the Fall weather and try to listen to my radio show this month. It will be on the 4th Thursday of October - October 26, 2017 at 4pm EDT on Blog Talk Radio. It is called: Red River Radio Tales from the Pages. I will have Amy Leigh McCorkle on the show talking about her long-planned project, "Letters to Daniel" the movie. She and her co-writer, Melissa Goodman have written the screenplay and it has also won awards. The next step is to film it and she is in the process of gathering her team together for this venture. Please join us as we talk with Amy and her team to find out more about this exciting project!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Welcome Back Author Dellani Oakes!!

The month of April flew by and suddenly it became May and that was even busier for me. So I am finally getting back here and I think you will be very happy that I did!

My guest author today is a longtime friend and multi-published author, Dellani Oakes. Let's learn all about her. Then we will be treated to a preview of her new book: The Maker, the third book in her Lone Wolf series.

Welcome back to my blog, Dellani!! I know you are on your blog blitz and I am so happy you stopped in here. I have a few questions that my readers might want to know about you.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee but have moved around a lot. My husband and I moved to Florida, just south of Daytona Beach in 1989.

Who or what influenced you to begin writing?

My parents are the major influence in my writing life. They both encouraged reading, storytelling and writing when I was younger. My father was an English professor and my mother a school teacher, who was also a storyteller and poet. Neither of them wrote fiction, I went my own way on that.

Besides writing do you have any hobbies?

I used to, but now don't really have any hobbies. Wow, that sounds terrible, doesn't it? Unless you can count a serious Netflix Binge Addiction a hobby. When I'm not writing or tending to my family, I am glued to Netflix. I tend to favor cop shows or those with a medical bent.

Tell our readers what a typical day of writing would look like for you.

My days follow a loose schedule. In the morning and early afternoon, I check and share blog posts for myself and my friends. If there are any chores associated with the blogs, I tend to them. Short break for a late lunch, then I decide what I'm going to work on. If I'm editing, I'll work on that during the day and into the evening. Most of my writing is done late evening or at night. My creative mind seems to work best then.

If I've just finished a book, like now, I will take a break from it and do some casual editing of something I've already finished. I am constantly perfecting, finding errors and rewriting things so it's not as big a job when I decide to get something reader ready.

How did you get the idea for The Lone Wolf series?

I originally set out to write the adventures two friends of mine, and I had in a Traveler game back in the early 80s. Traveler is like D&D, only set in outer space. Matilda, Marc and Wil were born in those long ago games. Once I started writing, the characters took over, and what happens in the books is nothing like what happened in the games. That's okay, though, because the book adventures are better.

How did reading science fiction and watching science fiction influence your choices for The Lone Wolf series?

Reading science fiction gave me a feel for the unique and off the wall, no holds barred mindset of sci-fi. You can go anywhere, do anything, and it doesn't matter. As long as you set your parameters and don't violate them (too much) you can travel the stars.

I try not to be influenced by series like Star Wars or Star Trek, because people have expectations for those worlds. I want my universe to be unique and not a carbon copy of something else. I've tried very hard to stay away from those worlds.

The Maker - Book 3 tells the story of Wil and his wife Matilda, who are battling evil on the planet Shazakan. For readers who haven’t read the other two books, can you tell us how he got there?

Wil VanLipsig is a former Galactic Marine Colonel. He's been genetically enhanced by the Marines and at the age of 86, he doesn't look over 30. Unbeknownst to him, he fathered a son with his first love and now that indiscretion has caught up to him. His son has set him up for a fall, then takes off for parts unknown. Wil and Matilda must follow him in order to save the universe, quite literally, from a legendary evil race known as the Kahlea.

By a few twists of fate, and lots of crazy adventures, they end up on the planet, Shakazhan, a virtually dead planet in deep, uncharted space. It is on this planet that an ancient warrior race, the Timokuan, made their last stand and drove the Kahlea away. Because of Wil's son, though, the Kahlea are coming back and they and their companions must stand against them.

In the excerpt you provided for us here, something happens to Matilda. Will she be okay in the rest of the book?

That's something readers will need to find out by reading the book. I won't give spoilers, but I rarely kill off main characters in my stories.

How did you get the idea for Wil and Matilda? Are they based on any real life people you know?

Wil, Matilda and Marc, are based on characters two friends and I created for a Traveler game back in 1982. My character was Matilda Dulac, also known as Romance. One friend created Marc and the other Wil. I changed their characters' last names, though, because I couldn't remember them. Except for having been loosely based on their characters and mine, they are completely my own creation.

Are you planning any in-person or online events to talk about this new book?

No. Maybe later when Book 4, The Kahlea, comes out – which will be late summer or early fall of this year – I hope.

If you could meet any writer living or dead, who would it be and why?

Oh, there are so many! I think I'd have to pick Andre Norton, because her book, Star Man's Son, was the one that woke a love of science fiction in me. I went through a time when I was in the third grade, where I didn't want to read. I'd been told by a clueless school librarian that I couldn't read above my grade level. In third grade, I was reading at least a sixth-grade level. She banned me from the older books.

My mother, wise woman that she is, took me to the city library instead. One of her dear friends was the head librarian. She took me to the young adult section of the library, told me to pick whatever I wanted, and I could check it out. If I didn't like it, I could always get another. I remembered that my mother had taken my cousin to meet Andre Norton when he was a boy, so the name struck a chord. I fell in love with her books and that stuck with me my entire life.

Thank you for providing us with such complete answers and I know my readers now want to see an excerpt. So I just happen to have one from The Maker:

The Maker – Book 3 in the Lone Wolf Series by Dellani Oakes

If anyone had asked Wil VanLipsig where he'd be in five years, he surely wouldn't have said he'd be fighting the ultimate evil on an unknown planet in a lost galaxy. Fighting a war, probably. Killing off insurgents, righting political wrongs, following another man's agenda, decidedly. Funny how life throws things in our paths that we must overcome. Wil is no different. With the help of his wife, Matilda, their good friends and benevolent aliens, they battle the Kahlea's slaves, wondering when the Grand Master himself will arrive. What's next for this tiny, insignificant oddment of miners and marines? Travel to the forgotten world of Shakazan and find out!
The Maker is Book Three in the Lone Wolf Series, with more to come. The story is far from being told.


Wil dragged Matilda back down the tunnel. Roaring, Surau rushed them from the rear. Ben and Marc took shots at him, but they didn't have time to aim carefully. The shots went wild, zinging around the tunnel dangerously. They holstered their weapons and provided a meat shield for Matilda. Wil ran, dragging her down the tunnel.
They encountered nothing until they got to the first junction, where the metal passage intersected with the stone tunnels. Instead of being empty as it had been, they found themselves facing tall, dark humanoids. These carried lethal looking spears and didn't appear angry, just startled. Raising their spears threateningly, the dark men charged the group.
Finding the way blocked, the unlucky humans veered off down the metal passage, footsteps echoing hollowly as they ran. Matilda tripped over her skirt, as it wrapped around her legs. Taking one set of claws, she slashed a portion of it away, freeing her feet to run more efficiently. Wil's grip on her arm was painful, bruising her skin, leaving her muscles feeling numb. She did her best to keep up, but his legs were far longer than hers, his stamina greater. The passage grew increasingly dim as they went further in. They had never been so far from Sentience and her repaired networks before. They initiated their Kindred suits as the air around them thinned and grew stale.
The dark men surged down the tunnel after them, their numbers overwhelming. Ben and Marc formed a wall, with Wil directly behind them. He tried to contact the ship to teleport them out, but there was too much interference. Backing slowly as the men advanced, Marc picked off two with carefully aimed shots. Ben joined him, taking out a couple more. Their weapons were set to stun, but to the dark men, their comrades appeared to be dead.
Instead of stopping, the men grew more determined, advancing rapidly. As one, they suddenly lunged forward, making a grab for the small, retreating party of humans. One grabbed Marc, who crushed the dark man's skull with a blow from his gun butt.
Another held Ben, who summarily broke his arm, yanking it from the socket. The dark man screamed in pain as Ben's blow to his head killed him. Wil kicked a third in the teeth, before aiming down the tunnel, targeting the leader. His kill shot was true.
The dark men stopped advancing as their leader's head exploded. With a mighty roar, they made a last, monumental attempt to grapple with the humans. Wil pressed his wife behind him, trying again to contact the ship. There was a crackle of static and a faint acknowledgment from Hammer.
"Smith, get us the hell out of here!" Wil roared into his com.
The dark men gathered their dwindling numbers, preparing for a final assault. Growling angrily, they reformed their ranks around the fallen, glaring at the humans with hatred.
Wil shouted to his wife, "Run, Matilda! We'll catch up to you! Run! Run!"
Matilda hesitated a moment. The passageway was dark, she could feel it surround her. Even the Kindred suit couldn't compensate for the complete lack of light. Her nightmares came back, freezing her in place.
"Wil, I can't! I can't see a thing! Oh, God, Wil, I'm so scared!"
"Babe, it's okay. Hammer has us. He'll get us out of here. Please, keep going a little longer."
Hesitantly, she picked her way along, the floor sagging beneath her feet. The ceiling was partially collapsed, filled with so much rubble, she had to stoop to move. The others were engaged in combat, she could hear it. All her instincts screamed at her to go back, to fight beside her mate.
Wil's voice echoed down the passage, "Run!"
One of the dark men broke through their line, scrabbling over the stones, nearly on top of her. Matilda knew Wil was aiming at him. Flattening herself against the wall, she pressed back as far as she could.
"Now!" she screamed. "You have a clear shot!"
The weapon fired as she ducked, turning further away, sensing the electromagnetic pulse from Wil's gun, hit the dark man in the back, hurling him toward her. She tried to dodge him, but a hand shot out from his dying body, clutching at her flowing dress, dragging her with him. The floor collapsed beneath their combined weight. The man fell like an anchor into the nothingness below her. Kicking wildly, Matilda struggled for a hand hold, screaming hysterically.
Wil heard her scream, felt the give in the floor and ran full speed down the passage. The ceiling collided with this forehead, the sides of the passage snagged his clothing. "I'm coming! I'm coming! Hang on!"
"Wil! Oh, Wil! I'm falling! Wil!" A scream ripped from her throat, fading away as she fell.
Wil reached for her a second too late. He saw her dropping into the bottomless pit. His cry of despair turned into a howl of grief. A moment later, the men found themselves on the bridge of Hammer. Matilda wasn't with them. Wil lay on the floor, still as death.
"Oh, God," he whispered. "Oh, God! No!"

I know that I definitely want to read more about these characters. Where can we find this book?

The Maker – Book Three is ready for pre-order and will be available May 15, 2017


It has been delightful to talk with you today and I also want to tell my readers that you can hear Dellani on her two radio shows in her bio.


Dellani Oakes is a Tennessean by birth, a Floridian by a quirk of fate. She resides in a town south of Daytona Beach where her constantly changing household usually has at least one grown child in it. Dellani loves science fiction and grew up reading the greats. She always felt something was missing from their story lines—a little romance. Taking that idea to heart, she began her Lone Wolf Series, incorporating all she loved about sci-fi, but adding a strong romantic bond between Wil and Matilda.
Dellani is an avid writer, but when she's not writing, she's reading anything she can get her hands on. She leads a small writers group through the Council on Aging, enjoying her time away from home. She also hosts two blog talk radio shows a month, Dellani's Tea Time – Every 2nd Monday of the month, and What's Write for Me – every 4th Wednesday. She and her co-host, Christina Giguere, interview other authors.
You can find more about Dellani Oakes here:

As always all of your comments are welcomed!

Until the next time, I hope you will be able to tune into my radio show on Thursday, May 25, 2017, to hear author and poet, Cynthia Sharp and award-winning author Eleanor Kuhns. If you miss the time you can hear it anytime by clicking on the link.
If you are a Facebook friend then you already know this, but to any who have not seen this news, my short screenplay, "The Kiss" and my poem, "My Thoughts Turn To You" -- a Scriggler poem of the day, are official selections for Action on Film festival. I was so surprised because this is the first screenplay I have ever written!!
Many people have said that my poems affect them. If you are looking for a gift for someone who has lost a loved one, you might want to think of my poetry book, a memorial to my late husband. You'll Probably Forget Me: Living With and Without Hal.
 If you buy the book and would like it signed just either leave a comment here or contact me on Facebook. I will send you a personalized bookplate.



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