Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Guest Author: Michael Pang

I would like to thank Jenai for allowing me to share a little about my young adult paranormal fiction novel, IN THE EYES OF MADNESS of the DECLAN PETERS CHRONICLES series, and myself. Let me start off saying that I’m a huge fan of the paranormal and urban fantasy genre.  I feel that I already spend most of my day in the real world (going to work, playing and taking care of my kids, and spending time with my wife). When I open a book, I want to dive into a world that is magical, where anything can happen.  So, one might ask, well, why not just pure fantasy novels?  Fantasy novels tend to build amazing magical worlds that can allow the reader’s imagination to completely run free.  I would agree with that. And I do enjoy a fantasy novel every so often for that reason.  However, urban fantasy has the ability to cause a paradigm shift from how we would view our everyday life.  They like to twist the things that would seem mundane into things that really make you wonder.  And when you then add the paranormal theme to these urban fantasies what you end up with is a masterpiece that drills down the dark forbidden paths that you would avoid in real life. These stories tantalize your curiosity, fear, excitement, and bewilderment all at the same time.  

I guess I would say that the idea of my novel came to me in a somewhat mystical way.  About four years ago, my wife and I had our first baby. Months of sleepless nights went by and we both looked like zombies. Then, one night a very strange dream (more like a nightmare) came to me about a teenager working in a mental asylum. The patients there were all gaunt and ghastly with very abrupt demeanor changes. Some of the things the patients were doing were fairly odd and supernatural (like levitating, retrieving objects via telekinesis, and speaking with multi-vocal projections). And I remember wandering to myself, are these people all just insane or demon possessed. Then the teenager went into a room and called the patient residing in the room, “mom.”  She turned around abruptly, and the expression on her face was terrifying as she pounced on him. I woke up immediately. As shaken from the dream as I was, I couldn’t help wanting to find out what happened to the teenager.  I tried to go back to sleep in hopes of getting the dream to continue.  But it didn’t work.  The next morning, I told my wife about the strange dream and how I had hoped that it had continued when I went back to sleep.  So my wife told me that it sounded like it would make an excellent novel and that I should write my own ending. 

And over the past four years, I’ve been working hard (writing and re-writing) this story.  It’s funny how things tend to fall into place.  When I started writing the story, my role within the energy company that I was working at the time for had changed. And I ended up traveling almost every month.  There were just so many movies that you can watch on the plane before you get extremely bored, so I continued my writing while I was on the plane and at the airports during a layover.  Were I at home, I think I would have spent the time with my wife and kids instead.  And now, four years later, I published my 222-page novel, IN THE EYES OF MADNESS, with Sola Fide Publishing.  IN THE EYES OF MADNESS is volume one of the DECLAN PETERS CHRONICLES series. You can expect to dive into a magical world that mirrors our own. Explore hidden secrets behind the heroes and the villains that are sure to keep your minds wondering.  


Declan Peters Chronicles Volume 1
by Michael Pang

Series: Declan Peters Chronicles
Paperback: 222 pages
Formats available: Paperback, Mobi (Kindle), and Epub (Nook)
Publisher: SolaFide Publishing
Publish Date: April 30, 2015
Available at on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles

About the book

A near tragic incident at the hands of his psychotic mother left Declan Peters alone and with so many questions.

Years later, Declan is determined to find a way to be closer to his mother and takes a job at the institution where she's being held. That fateful decision will be the impetus for a chain of events so terrifying that Declan will question his own grasp on reality.

What he finds will be more horrifying than anything he's ever experienced and more dangerous than anything he's yet known. In a place, rife with demonic possession and sadistic beings, will Declan finally be able to find the answers he's longed for before its too late or will he succumb to the evil forces that inhabit the institution and all who live there?

Read book excerpt HERE

For more information about the book, please checkout the website: 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Book Review: Dreams of Perfection by Rebecca Heflin

Dreams of Perfection
(Dreams Come True Book #1)
by Rebecca Heflin

Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing (July 16, 2014)

Kindle Edition
File Size: 3690 KB
Print Length: 276 pages
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing (May 5, 2014)
Publication Date: May 5, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Ratings: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Note: I received a review copy of this book free from the author, Rebecca Heflin. The review posted below is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.

My thoughts:

I immensely enjoyed reading this book! I know I swore before that I am done reading the "in love-with-best friend-story". Often, they are all the same, it's like re-reading an old story. Glad that Ms. Heflin did a good job in writing a believable and heartfelt friendship/romance between Darcy and Josh. It was really such a relief for me that she was able to make it right. Character dialogue felt authentic, love the humor, really had fun reading this. 

My only complain is the magical element here. I didn't see it coming and I hated it. It would have been a perfect book for me if not for that 'magic'. Anyway, I have book # 2, I am excited to read Laura's story! 

About the book: 

Best-selling romance writer Darcy Butler is holding out for perfection in the form of her own carefully-crafted heroes. Once blissfully engaged to be married, Darcy’s post-traumatic commitment phobia is depriving her of the very thing she wants most: her very own happily-ever-after. Now, here she is just six months shy of her thirtieth birthday, and not a Prince Charming in sight. 

Successful lawyer Josh Ryan is the boy-next-door with a soft spot for the less fortunate, and Darcy’s best friend without benefits. Darcy often comes to him lamenting her love-life, or the lack thereof, whereupon Josh patiently doles out his sage advice. Problem is Josh is in love with Darcy. 

But when Darcy finds herself looking into the handsome face of the man who graces the cover of her soon-to-be-released novel, she’s convinced her dreams of perfection have come true. Or have they?

About the author:

Rebecca Heflin is an award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women's fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job as a practicing attorney.

Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Guest Author and Book Spotlight : Kate Blackwell

By Kate Blackwell

Fiction writers, pay attention to memories. The stones you still stumble over. Pick them up. Weigh them in your hand. Turn them over, see what’s underneath. A Christmas party. An outing to a lighthouse. Whole stories, whole novels are stitched from a memory. 

Most of my stories begin with a memory of something I can’t forget and I don’t understand. 
At a family gathering my cousin stands with his young wife who is dying of brain cancer. He is helping her drink through a straw. They are both twenty-five. How can they do this? How do they feel? My story “The Obi Tree” was written to answer these questions.

But memory doesn’t hand you a story on a platter; it must be transformed. Sometimes you must add another memory.

When writing about my cousin and his dying wife, I invoked a memory of my first real love and how it ended. I became the young husband who refuses to let his wife go quietly, refuses to accept. There is anger in loss, there is sexual longing, as well as the pain.

Chekhov: “I never write directly from life. The subject must pass through the sieve of my memory, so that only what is important or typical remains, as in a filter.”  

Memory in fiction is not memoir. Nor is it journalism. You add something that didn’t happen, you invent. 

In the title story of my collection, a woman goes through her last days of pregnancy, then gives birth to her first child. I used a lot of details from memory to describe her physical discomfort, her emotional dislocation, but what did it all add up to? Even “she” (the character) isn’t sure. After she gives birth, she remembers the cliché that people tell you: you won’t remember this. Suddenly, the words mean something different than she’d thought before.

Memory isn’t your master. Change what you want to, or what you must. The farther you get from the facts of “what happened,” the closer you are to the truth of “how it felt.” Never include something “because it happened that way.” Know when to invent, when to cut. 

The story is a template placed over a memory, giving us another way to see.  

You Won’t Remember This

Author: Kate Blackwell
Publisher: Bacon Press Books
Pages: 232
Genre: Short Stories/Southern Fiction
Format: Kindle

About the book:

The twelve stories in Kate Blackwell’s debut collection illuminate the lives of men and women who appear as unremarkable as your next-door-neighbor until their lives explode quietly on the page. Her wry, often darkly funny voice describes the repressed underside of a range of middle-class characters living in the South. Blackwell’s focus is elemental—on marriage, birth, death, and the entanglements of love at all ages—but her gift is to shine a light on these universal situations with such lucidity, it is as if one has never seen them before.

For More Information

You Won’t Remember This is available at Amazon.
Purchase book at Bacon Press Books.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Read excerpt here.

Book Excerpt:

Carpe Diem

The "shadow line," Kurt calls it. Carroll believes he is referring to age, to some transitional moment into old age. But what moment exactly? When we are too old to make love? Too tired to feel desire? Kurt shrugs. When our hopes are extinguished? When I'll never see you again? What line are you talking about, Kurt?

Kurt is almost fifty but looks younger. His hair is a dark silky brown. His skin is smooth. There is a youthful leprechaun quality about him, though he is beginning to have a paunch about the belly. He does not get enough exercise. If he could ski regularly, he says, he would lose that flab. Kurt is an expert skier. He learned to ski when he was five, in Germany. When he was eleven, he had a terrible accident that broke both legs below the knee. The fractured fibulas erupted through flesh and skin. Carroll, drawing her finger along the deep scars on Kurt's calves, tries to envision the accident, the broken skis, the bloodied snow, the boy lying there in the snow, waiting for someone to come.

But she has a hard time picturing Kurt as a boy. Sometimes she has a hard time remembering what he looks like now. Though they have been together for nearly two years, loosely speaking—she has her own place, he has his—they really do not see that much of each other. Kurt is a free-lance photographer and is often traveling. Benin. Djibouti. Sucre. Carroll, too, is busy. She owns and runs a nursery school called Sunshine Day for three- and four-year-olds. Sometimes months go by when Carroll and Kurt do not see each other, though sometimes, out of the blue, he will call from some distant place. She will hear his voice, high-pitched and tentative, a as if he did not expect her to answer (or perhaps it’s the connection that makes it sound that way?)—Hello? Remember me?—and she feels such happiness it terrifies her. Does he actually believe she has forgotten him?

And yet, in certain ways, she does forget. Today, standing in her school yard among all the small revved-up bodies and high yelling voices, sniffing the odors of sand and lilac, she tries to conjure his face. She knows his eyes are green, his nose small and sharp, his skin lightly freckled. But she cannot visualize his mouth or the curve of his cheek or his expression when he looks at her. She cannot remember his voice. She expects to hear that voice, though, perhaps in a few hours. Kurt is due back today from Mali. Or is it Niger? The prospect of seeing him makes her giddy. He has been away nearly two months. Even so, even in the midst of her excitement, she can't help asking herself where this relationship is going. The question occurs to her all the time, but whenever she alludes to the future—an off-hand reference to season tickets for the opera or a time-share deal on a beach house—Kurt shakes his head.

"Carpe diem," he says, in his lightly accented speech.

And Carroll, though she is not seeking permanence, though she does not believe that relationships require official bonds, though she is happy living on her own and seeing Kurt for compressed periods of passion and good talk, is enraged.

Carpe diem indeed.

About the Author

KATE BLACKWELL worked as a journalist and editor before turning full-time to fiction. Her first collection, YOU WON’T REMEMBER THIS, was published in hardback in 2007 by Southern Methodist University Press.  Her stories have appeared in numerous journals, including Agni, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Carve, The Literary Review, The Greensboro Review, Sojourner, and So To Speak. She lives in Washington, DC.

For More Information

Visit Kate Blackwell’s website.
Connect with Kate on Facebook.
Find out more about Kate at Goodreads.
Contact Kate.

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