Get your free copy of Maybe I Should Have Hit the Delete Key!

In celebration of writing a column in the Harvey County Independent/Harvey Count Now newspaper, I want to share a gift. Click on the picture below to get a free digit copy of the book. There is no obligation or signup required. Please consider leaving a review on Amazon if you enjoy. Thank you!

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Journeys into Possibility

Now that the past few years are behind us it’s time to come out and play! Are you ready to go on a journey to a place you have never been before? What would you like to do? Maybe a swim with dolphins, meet strange new creatures, or see John Dillinger behind bars? You could take a trip through time, visit a new planet, or hop on a train worn with memories. The possibilities are just a page away.

So, strap in and get comfortable as we travel into the imaginative realm of possibilities. Together, we will journey into all things possible and impossible. Once you’ve been there and back again, you won’t be quite the same.

Your copy is just one click away!

Amazon (paperback)




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Author Interview: Lindsey Kinsella


Lindsey Kinsella is a Scottish fantasy and science fiction writer and author of “The Lazarus Taxa” and “The Heart of Pangaea.”

While a qualified and experienced naval architect and an avid car enthusiast, he always reserved a space in his life for a deep fascination with paleontology. This drove his writing process as he strove to write tales of the rich and complex history of life on Earth.

As of June 2, 2023 you have a new book out, The Heart of Pangea. Tell us about it.

The Heart of Pangaea is quite the departure from what I had written before. My previous book, The Lazarus Taxa, was a fairly grounded, gritty, adult sci-fi thriller, but I found myself wishing my children could read something I’d written.

So, a more family friendly concept was born. Using an imaginary fantasy setting allowed me to apply all the tension and drama that I enjoy, without the need for bloody violence. It also allowed me to take things a little less seriously and employ a lot more humour than before, which is something I had a lot of fun with.

I hope the readers of all ages (within reason, I’d suggest 10+) enjoy the combination of high emotional stakes, whimsical comedy, and fast paced action.

Both of your books to date deal with dinosaurs and paleontology. Will readers learn as be entertained as they read them?

Absolutely! In fact, that was the original spark which motivated me to write in the first place. Paleontology is so endlessly fascinating and goes far deeper than most people know. I hope to bring those ancient worlds to the reader in a way that interests them as well as entertains.

The Lazarus Taxa takes an in-depth look at a specific snap-shot in time, delving into the world of Late Cretaceous North America. I loved being able to recreate more than just dinosaurs, but an entire ecosystem.

The Heart of Pangaea offers a more expansive viewport into natural history, with creatures from throughout time co-existing in a fantasy realm. It’s somewhat of a tribute to the history of the science, with many characters being based on real life paleontologists.

In both books I tend to take short interlude chapters which divulge some of the scientific background behind the story. I wanted to avoid lengthy dialogue with clunky scientific jargon, so these short non-fiction chapters feel more fluid.

Do you have a set writing schedule (time, place, method, etc.)?

It’s far from a schedule, I really just write whenever I can find an hour or two of quiet time! That tends to be late at night with both books having been almost exclusively written after 11pm.

What are you currently writing or what will be your next project?

I have already started on a new project and I’m rediscovering my love of first drafts! There’s something refreshing about a blank page after a year of redrafts and edits.

The current work in progress follows the crew of an illegal whaling ship who find themselves stranded in the Arctic. It’ll be my first divergence from paleo-inspired fiction and will instead focus on climate science.

How much time do you spend writing compared to marketing? Do you feel that is the right balance for you?

Realistically I spend far more time marketing than writing, at least if you include social media marketing. Of course, I would love the reverse to be true, but marketing is far more demanding. However, social media definitely makes it easier, and being able to market on the go in short bursts does mean such activities don’t tend to eat into actual writing time.

What is your favorite part about writing? What is the hardest part for you?

I think my favourite stage is probably around the third or fourth draft when everything starts to come together and make sense. It’s around that time I find myself really falling in love with the story and finding the motivation to write then is so easy.

The hardest part actually comes before the first draft—what’s the next story? Like most writers, I’m sure, I have pages and pages of story ideas, concepts, worlds, characters; I’ll likely not live long enough to see them all in print! Choosing any one puts the rest on hold for at least a year, maybe more, so it’s a big decision!

What is the best advice you ever received as a writer?

Hire an editor. Without question. It seems like such an obvious thing to more seasoned authors, but back when I was completely new to it all I probably underestimated its importance. But I’m glad I didn’t skip that vital step—my editor made a world of difference to both novels in ways I would never have considered (shout out to Donna Marie West; she’s amazing!).

When you start a story, do you begin with character, plot, setting, other?

It seems to vary. The Lazarus Taxa certainly grew from the setting, my current WIP grew from the plot, and The Heart of Pangaea really grew from a single scene which I then built a story round.

For anyone who has read it, I’d love to hear you guess which scene!

What is your favorite time of day?

It depends on the time of year, but now in the summer I love the afternoons. The sun is out (yes, even in Scotland) and even simple tasks become a joy.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?

Definitely the former. While watching TV or surfing the internet, I’ll be needing a sleep by about 11am. But when writing, I could go all night. Often, I have to force myself to shut it down for the night to avoid being rather exhausted in the morning… I guess in a way it does both then!


Book Locations: The Heart of Pangaea can be found on most online book retailers. Amazon link


I strode into the passageway. Robyn hesitated before following along the gloomy passage. The blue torchlight flickered and danced against the walls, but there were still no clues as to what lay at the end. It seemed to stretch into the depths of the mountain forever. The haunting voice of the Mausoleum echoed out once more.

Before the Architect can be bestowed with the Heart, she must prove she is ready. You must pass the three trials of the Archean.”

“Trials?” I asked with a gulp.

These trials will test the traits the Architect must possess to fulfill her destiny.”

“What destiny?” she replied.

“The scripture…” I mused.

For your first trial, you must prove your haste.”

I looked at Robyn with a sly smile.

“Hundred metre sprint champion four years in a row,” I reminded her with a wink. “I think you can prove you’re fast.”

With the loud grinding of moving stone, a trapdoor opened before us. We walked toward this new hole in the floor and gazed into the abyss. As far as I could tell, this hole had no bottom. Who knew how far down it went or what lay below, but it was clear this was where we need to go.

“Architects first,” I said while gesturing toward the hole.

“I’m not going down there,” she replied, her eyes pinned wide with terror. “How deep is it? We could be jumping to our death.”

“I don’t think the disembodied voice of the Mausoleum would have us leap to our demise. That seems a little convoluted.”

“You don’t know that Ed. Oh god, or we could get stuck, or there could be spiders, or—”

“Okay, I hear what you’re saying but…”

Without finishing that sentence, I gave her gentle shove down the hole. She screamed for a couple of seconds before thumping at the bottom. I dived after her, landing right by her feet in another long passageway.

“What was that, Ed?”

“You needed a push,” I replied. “For your mum.”

Robyn shook her head before sighing deeply.

“What’s this trial of haste all about, then?”

Up ahead, at a distance which I reckoned might well have been exactly a hundred metres, two bright orange torches illuminated a wooden door.

“So, I guess you just run to the door as quickly as you can?” I suggested.

“Seems simple enough.”

“Maybe too simple.”

It was. From behind us came a dry, laboured gasping. I spun around to see a hulking mass, covered in dark, patchy fur, creeping out from the shadows.

The creature which emerged was hideous. Its jaws were vast and housed oversized teeth which dripped with saliva. Dark, soulless eyes penetrated through the torchlight. The beast’s front limbs were much taller than its hind legs, creating a muscular, front-heavy body plan with an immense hump of muscle above its shoulder blades. Its matted fur was interrupted by seemingly random bald patches, scars, and warts.

“Is that…?”

Daeodon,” Robyn confirmed with a tremble in her voice.

I feared as much, though I knew it better by its unofficial and well-earned title—the Hell pig.

It seemed that failing the “trial of haste” would have fatal consequences.

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Author Interview: Christina Alongi


C. M. Alongi graduated from Hamline University with a double bachelor’s in history and social justice. She lives in an apartment in the Twin Cities area where she protects her furniture from her roommates’ two evil cats. Her first full-length novel Citadel comes out June 2023, and she is currently writing an epic fantasy novella series called Blackwing.

Tell us about your Blackwing series.

Blackwing is an epic fantasy novella series, starting with To Kill a Necromancer, about a paladin and necromancer who are forced to work together to save the world. Think Diablo II meets Dungeons and Dragons, but the world is based on Ancient Greece and Rome rather than Medieval England.

    You are in the middle of publishing novellas related to the Blackwing series. How do these fit in with the series? Will the series be complete when the novellas are released or is there more to come?

    There will definitely be more to come. I’m publishing the first five this year, and then the next five next year. I honestly don’t know how long it will go on, but definitely 20+.

    Think of the series like a show. Each novella is a single episode with the same characters.

    You also have another novel set to publish in June. Tell us about that book. Series or stand alone?

    Citadel is a science fiction novel, hopefully the first of a series. In short, Olivia is a nonverbal autistic woman living in the city of Citadel, the only human city on an alien planet. It is a dogmatic, ableist, sexist society that’s been locked in a war of extermination against the “demons” of the surrounding Flooded Forest for the last four hundred years. (The “demons” are basically alien wolves with wings, telepathy, and telekinesis.) After losing her boyfriend to the conflict, Olivia goes on a solo mission into the Flooded Forest to start a dialogue and get to the bottom of why this war started.

    It looks like you’re heavily involved in social media, particularly on Tik Tok, Instagram, and You Tube. Are these writing-related projects or do they provide a separate creative outlet?

    These are usually separate creative outlets. I originally started social media as a way to grow an audience before getting publishing contracts; that way, when I did have something to release, I’d have an audience ready to read it. This took a lot of trial and error, and I’ll be the first to admit that I only partially know what I’m doing here. (Though that is, frankly, true of everyone on social media.)

    TikTok is home to my CaFae Latte series, a light-hearted video series about a café run by fairies. It’s a lot more fun and humorous than Blackwing or Citadel, which tend to be a lot darker and bloodier.

    How much time do you spend writing compared to marketing? Do you feel that is the right balance for you?

    I don’t like marketing, which is ironic given I’ve spent 5+ years in sales. I’d much rather be creating. So I’m probably not doing as much marketing as I should be.

    Do you have a specific place/time/routine to your writing? Do you have a strange writing quirk?

    I’ve got a desk shoved in the corner of my apartment, and that’s where I do 95% of my writing. (The other 5% is when I’m out and about, either visiting my parents or chilling at a café or even on an airplane.)

    I write whenever I can and for however long I can. Usually with music playing from YouTube. I try to match the music to the aesthetic of whatever it is I’m writing, which means for Blackwing, it’s Ancient Greek/Roman fantasy music.

    What is the best advice you ever received as a writer?

    It’s less of advice and more of a quick anecdote. My mother is also an author (has hit the New York Times Bestseller for paranormal romance several times, actually), and she told me that before she had a stable career in this field of work, she got so many rejection letters than she could’ve redone in wallpaper of her apartment with them.

    You’re going to get rejected. Keep writing and querying, anyway.

    When you start a story, do you begin with character, plot, setting, other?


    It honestly depends on where the idea is coming from. In Citadel’s case, I mostly started with the characters and a broad concept of two different peoples clashing. I created the setting from that, and once I had all of that figured out, then I outlined the plot.

    With Blackwing, I was inspired by the video game Diablo II, and I originally thought I’d anonymously write a fanfiction and then forget about it. But I found myself involved enough with the plot these characters were creating in my head that I essentially plucked them from the (copyrighted) Diablo universe and created a new one from scratch, calling upon ancient civilizations and Greek Mythology. So setting and world history came first, along with the broad concept of good vs evil. Then I re-did the characters based on this setting and how they would turn out, then outlined the plot.

    Honestly, plot is usually the last thing I focus on. I’m much more character-driven.

    What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

    Reading. I also crochet and knit, and I like taking long walks around my neighborhood.

    Very boring, I know.

    What does success look like for you as an author?

    Being able to fully support myself from my creative pursuits, as well as inspiring my audience. Whether that means inspiring them to write their own stories, or to be a better person, or helping them see themselves in fiction—most of my characters are queer, women, and/or disabled.

      Right now I still have to work part time at a deli in order to pay my bills, although that is rapidly becoming less and less necessary.

      Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?

      Get me out of food service! Check out my books!


      BookLocations: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo

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      Author Interview: K. Rose


      K. Rose has been a part of the Indie Author Community for years. Getting her start as a reader, her keen eye led to a wonderful career in Alpha/Beta and ARC (Advance Reader Copy) reading. As a joke to her fellow advanced reader colleagues, she created a spoofed blurb and cover for a story and the feedback was so positive that it sparked her to run with it.

      That stoked a fire that has her racing down a multi-genre freeway with no off-ramp in sight. K. doesn’t write to “market” and she is fairly certain that her humor and use of puns may cause an eye roll or two. This still wouldn’t stop her from making sure there is humor in every one of her stories. As a Multi Genre Author, there is sure to be something for everyone to love.

      She has traveled the USA extensively, including Alaska, and lived in thirty-eight of the fifty states. Home is now the beautiful state of Wisconsin, where she dreams up her stories in the company of her menagerie of furbabies, including five puppies, five rescue kitties, a flock of over forty chickens, ducks and turkeys. Ruled by a Rooster named Chicken Parm and two huge fifty pound turkeys named Tommy Boy and Tom Petty, and lastly a ninety-gallon tropical fish tank.

      Life will always be interesting for K. Rose, which will fuel her works, and keep her muses singing, come join the chorus.

      You are part of an anthology that has just been released. Tell us about Aliens on Earth.

      This collection is chock-full of star-crossed lovers and fated mates. Meet these exiled alien warriors, princes and kings today!

      All proceeds will be donated to the St. JUDES CHILDREN’S Research Fund.

      In this limited edition collection of romances you’ll find heroes and heroines thrown into heart-pounding adventures as they help their alien mates escape condemnation to exile on Earth, while others settle into a comfortable almost-human existence.

      Out of this world romance can be found here on Earth with this limited edition collection of alien romances brought to you by a diverse group of USA Today bestselling authors along side some new and notable voices in the genre. Explore a whole new world of intergalactic intrigue featuring stories from over 30 Best Selling Authors!

      Tell us about your novel, The Prophecy of the Water Sprite.

      The Prophecy of the Water Sprite is my Debut novel. I had the story bouncing around in my head for a little while, and at the urge of some of the wonderful members of the indie author community, I wrote it in 2021.

      You write in multiple genres. Why do that instead of sticking to one genre? Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?

      Technically I use a pen name, but it is really just the very short version of my own name. K. Rose is my first initial and my middle name. I write in more than one genre, because these are the stories that are in my head, and I feel like if I like to read more than one genre to keep things interesting, why not do the same with my writing?

      What does your writing process look like? Do you have a specific place/time/routine to your writing? Do you have a strange writing quirk?

      I am more of a planner plotter than a pantser, though I have written short stories in both ways I feel more comfortable with an outline to work off.

      Your bio says you have lived in 38 of the 50 states. Do you have a favorite state? A least favorite? Has that vast experience helped in creating stories?

      I would have to say that Wisconsin is probably the favorite only because I keep coming back to it, and am more used to it. Though, Montana was a close second. I don’t really have a least favorite. Each area of the country has it own follies and faults. I do tend to include a lot of nature in my stories, and having experience in a lot of different types has been quite beneficial.

      When you write a story, where do you usually start? Character? Plot? Setting? Other?

      When I write a story I usually start with a BLURB for the story, and work from there. I use a custom outline that I created using about 5 of the well known outline types and three act structure styles.

      What is the best advice you ever received as a writer?

      You can’t edit a blank page is a good bit. The best though is that you are good enough, your writing is good enough, and never let impostor syndrome get you down. Though I have the advice that doesn’t always stop it, but it really is great advice.

      Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Tell us about them.

      I don’t like to pick favorites. It’s like saying you have a favorite kid. Is that a thing?

      What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

      I have a plethora of hobbies, crafty things, pets to take care of, and outdoorsy activities I like.

      What does success look like for you as an author?

      Successful for me would be to earn a living from writing. Though I haven’t reached that just yet, I am still reaching for my goal with each new book I put out there.

      Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?

        I have an etsy shop with fun bookish merch and a 10% off coupon for anyone reading this BLOG post

        Excerpt:  The Prophecy of the Water Sprite

        “I am so terribly sorry, Skyy. I can feel now, more than ever, that we are meant to be together. That we are tied by the Gods. Bound by our souls. The pain I hold in my heart from the rejection of our bond is crushing in its intensity. Please forgive me. Please give me another chance. I need you like the trees need the sun. Like the fish need water. Like tides need the moon. Like the air I need to breathe. Please Skyy, Please… I am begging you.” 

        The words are rushed as they explode from Elio’s perfectly plush lips. Rather than answering in words, I move in and press my lips to his. Feeling that final piece of my heart settle in place. 

        I know he can feel it, too, as he deepens the kiss and tangles his fingers into the hair on the back of my head. Directing my mouth to where he wants it to be. 

        I pull back until our lips are only a breadth apart. Staring directly into the violet eyes that still hold a bit of coldness behind them. 

        I take in the subtle differences between his and his brother’s eyes. Perhaps only I can see them. 

        “I never gave up on you, Elio. I knew you would find a place in your heart for me, eventually.” Pressing another light kiss to his lips. Just enough to seal the statement as fact. 

        “I will work every day to prove to you that I do want this, that I do deserve you. I promise.” While he sets me gently back upon my feet, he places another gentle kiss to my forehead and exhales a sigh. 

        “I… I think this,” Clearing his throat to get the words beyond the lump of feelings clogging it.“I think that I love you, Skyy. I have never allowed myself this emotion, and it is the greatest thing I have ever experienced in my life.” 

        With a toothy and lopsided grin aimed at me, his eyes twinkle with the sparks of lightning across the sky above us. 

        “I will never put another wall in between myself and my true feelings. I have accepted the fate of the Gods, and my true heritage. Thank you all, for not giving up on me, for believing that I would eventually see through the error of my ways.” 

        I can see a solitary tear leave his lashes at those words. He truly has torn down those barriers, those walls placed in spite of himself. 

        The true definition of nurture versus nature has shown itself. Though it has taken a long time to break through to the surface. Insisting that you are something you are not will always crumble under the weight of what you actually are. OF what you are meant to become, regardless of the time it takes to get there.

        The Dragon roars out with such ferocity that the hairs on my arms all stand on end.


        Flapping the enormous wings until enough push is created to rise from the ground below its body. Still pushing up further with the power of its strong tail, which hasn’t left the ground just yet. Rising further still into the air. 

        Still wearing the cuff around one arm and dangling with a few links of chain, this has no effect on the take off though. The Dragon reaches the opening, made larger by Vale, and his Earth moving vines. 

        Rising out of the opening like a phoenix would from the ashes left behind. 

        Book Locations:

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        Author Interview: Derek Power


        I began writing in early 2001, mainly focusing on short stories. After winning the odd contest here and there I figured I would try and write something a little longer. A few false starts later I managed to complete my first novel, titled Filthy Henry: The Fairy Detective, in early 2013.

        I currently live in Skerries, Dublin, Ireland.

        Tell us about your Filthy Henry Series. Are there more books to come?

        The Filthy Henry series is a fantasy-comedy series that follows the adventures of Filthy Henry, Ireland’s first and foremost fairy detective. He is a half-human, half-fairy who has to work magical cases in modern day Ireland that involve the mortal and magical worlds colliding. Each book is a self-contained story, based of one of the many myths and legends from Ireland’s Celtic roots. Such as in the first novel Filthy Henry has to find out who stole the King of the Leprechauns crock of gold.

        At the minute the series is five books long, with some short stories appearing in various anthologies or on a podcast here and there (I think at last count there are seven short stories involving Filthy Henry or one of his supporting cast). There are more books to come as well, I have two novels planned out – usually I am two novels ahead in terms of books planned once I start doing the edits on the current book I am writing. Helps to keep me in a mode of constantly writing.

        What project(s) are currently working on?

          Currently I am working on something, as Monty Python would say, a little different. I have primarily written fantasy, comedy-fantasy and even dabbled in sci-fi recently with my novel Duplex Tempus. So to test my writing muscles I decided to work on a series novel. While all my other books could fall under the generic label of ‘crime’, they are crime plus something else. My current novel, Blood Knight – working title, is a crime novel that is firmly set in the real world without any of the ‘get out of jail free’ cards that fantasy or sci-fi give a writer.

          When and why did you decide to publish?

          Back in 2012 I had just finished my first Filthy Henry novel, Filthy Henry: The fairy detective, and I was shopping it around to agents and publishers alike. I had hired an editor to polish my final draft, which was draft number ten, and each weekend was spent seeing who was open for submissions and sending it off. I still find it surprising that in 2012 submissions had to be done via snail-mail and paper print outs mostly, very few were taking emails and pdfs.

          Anyway long story short I got rejected every time with no feedback from anyone. Then a publisher with Penguin explained to me that the industry was going through a bit of a shock because the Kindle was doing to books what the iPod had done to the music industry. He suggested that I go down the indie publishing road, get a name for myself that way, then come back.

          So that’s what I did.

          It sounds like humor is a major part of your writing. Does that come natural for you or do you have to work at it?

          Many moons ago, before kids and a mortgage and a job that worked me 80 hours a week, I would do standup comedy as a hobby. I think I did it for about four years, with regular gigs. In school I was a bit of a class clown. In life in general I am probably too sarcastic for my own good. So, the humour part of writing does come naturally for me. But I also constantly second guess if what I am writing is funny or not. After all who laughs at their own jokes. So, when I ask my wife to read a chapter I have just written, and she starts laughing I immediately ask what part she is laughing at. It annoys her so much that now she leaves the room to read in peace.

          What is your favorite aspect of writing? What is the hardest part of writing for you?

          I am a plotter over a pantser any day of the week, and I really enjoy plotting out a book. I usually have an outline of the plot, including the major points each chapter should cover, that runs into ten or fifteen pages. It can be fun doing that stuff as it is like starting a new drawing on a blank sheet of paper. I often tell people as well that my plots can change as I am writing. Maybe an idea appears mid draft that I like or something that I have in the plot notes just doesn’t work anymore so I drop it. I remember telling a writing buddy of mine that this happened and he was amazed, he never thought of doing the same himself.

          Editing the drafts after draft 1 is what kills me. I know it has to be done. There will be typos and plotholes. Sections that need to be tweaked to read better. It is all work that has to be done, needs to be done, but when you get into draft seven or eight you eyes feel blurry. I heard a great phrase recently that sums up my feelings on it nicely. You never really finish writing a book, you just decide you can’t be bothered doing any more editing and settle on the current draft being the final one.

          What writing advice has been the most beneficial for you?

          Write every day, without fail, no matter what day it is. People often look at a book and think that something 100k words is a mountain that can never be climbed. But if you wrote 1000 words a day, or 500, or 100, that mountain gets smaller. So, write every day. As a much more famous author said – you don’t call yourself a write if you only do it every so often. You need to write and read every day.

          What is your strangest writing quirk?

          I’m not sure if I have a writing quirk, actually. I write daily, I do the editing, it’s all very ‘boring’ in terms of quirks. I suppose I do have one rule that I stick too – no fun if the daily wordcount hasn’t been hit first. As I do all of my writing in the evenings, once the kids are in bed, I will make sure to get words written in the morning if I am meeting friends at night. But no games are played or shows watched if the words have not been written. Otherwise that 100k mountain will be forever out of reach.

          If money were no object, what would you do for the rest of your life?

          I’d write Filthy Henry until my last day, passing from this world into the next with an unfinished book. When I was younger I always wanted to be a writer but I was talked into getting a ‘real’ job. But yes, if the millions magically appeared in my bank account tomorrow I’d be writing Filthy Henry, or whatever book I could think of, and never question my choice.

          When not writing, what do you like to do for fun?

          I have a collection of hobbies. When not writing I do play computer games, despite being in my 40s I find them a nice escape from the real world stress. Watching shows, in particular sci-fi, and then of course any good writer is an avid reader.

          What does success look like for you as an author?

          Reviews anywhere that say people enjoyed my writing. I am not in it for the money (although that would be nice) but I find myself checking daily for new reviews on any books to see if people enjoyed the story. While stars are good, reviews with a few lines are the best. If anyone reading this does go on to read one of the books, don’t forget to leave a review.

          Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?

            Some of the books and short stories in the Filthy Henry series are freely available as a podcast on any podcast platform. Simply search for Filthy Henry and you will find them.


            Book Locations

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            April 2023 Storytime Blog Hop

            Once again it’s time for a fun adventure. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you!

            This is the 10th installment of GRIT’s adventure. To start at the beginning for context, start with Grim Failure.

            Earthquake Aftermath

            Shortly after the collectors left with the captured souls (all 23 of them, yea us!), the aftermath committee arrived to investigate what had happened. We knew their primary job was to decide where to assign fault. We had been ordered to stay put until we could be debriefed.

            While the aftermath committee examined the scene and asked the reapers general questions about the earthquake, timing, and overall setting prior to, during, and after the event, one by one we were taken away to debrief with committee members as they wrapped up their investigation or collectors who returned from their soul deliveries. It was a slow, boring process and since I was still in training, I was the last one chosen.

            Once alone, I considered slinking away. I mean, could I possibly make my situation any worse? I had consistently failed in one way or another but my ineptness peaked. Maybe I would have been better off if we hadn’t been rescued. At lease in Hades I wouldn’t have to see the look of disappointment on my parents’ faces when they learned I had been kicked out of the reaper program. In Hades I wouldn’t have to face the embarrassment of my failures. I wish the collectors would have rescued Samantha but not me.

            At least I could try and help Samantha. Administration needed to know that she was put in an impossible situation. One of the other reapers had failed and lost track of their souls who then joined Samantha’s collection and overwhelmed her. Without my testimony they might get away with it or worse, pass the blame to Samantha. She had tried to encourage me so I felt like I owed it to her to speak the truth. That is, if my testimony was worth anything at this point.

            One of the committee members approached. It was time to face what I had done.

            “I’ll take this one.”

            My heart sank at Stan’s gruff voice

            While I hadn’t expected to get a sympathetic ear, with Stan interviewing me I would be on the defensive the whole time. He knew more about my failures than anyone.

            Neither of us spoke until we were comfortably sitting in one of the interview rooms. They used to be called interrogation rooms but administration thought the name carried strong negative connotations so they changed it a few years ago.

            The name change wouldn’t affect what was about to happen to me. I could see disdain written all over Stan’s face.

            “You left your assigned souls after securing them, ignored protocol in the midst of a dangerous situation, and got yourself captured…all while being on probation. Did I miss anything?”

            Yeah, Stan wasn’t biased toward me at all. I didn’t stand a chance. Maybe at least I could keep Samantha out of trouble. “What happened—it wasn’t her fault. Samantha. Those souls were evil and she should never have been assigned three of them on her own. Plus someone failed and their souls ganged up on Samantha.”

            “You’re saying that none of this is your fault?”

            “Yes. No. I mean, all the things you said are true. It’s just that Samantha, she didn’t do anything wrong and I don’t want her to get in trouble for someone else’s mistake.”

            Stan leaned forward and leered at me, his glare even more distrusting than before, if that were possible. “You want me to believe that you’re more concerned about her welfare than yours?”

            “Oh, I’m concerned about my situation. Very much. It’s just, I realize I can’t do anything to help myself. Maybe I can help her by making sure you know the truth.”

            I swear he hadn’t looked away nor blinked in two minutes. It was disconcerting and I felt my eyes starting to burn thinking about it.

            “This next part doesn’t leave this room, okay?” He waited for me to agree before continuing. “Do you know that her family has a lot of influence?”

            I nodded

            “And do you know who that is?”

            Was Stan testing me or fishing for information? Was I putting her at risk by acknowledging her family’s influence? “No, she didn’t say.”

            “And you didn’t ask?” he said incredulously.

            He blinked! Finally. I shifted nervously though because his gaze still bore into me.

            “No. But I don’t think they can help her with this because she said her uncle is only a collector like you. No offense,” I added when he grunted. I didn’t bother to explain; I couldn’t do anything at this point to earn his favor.

            Stan leaned back but didn’t relax. He watched me as if considering my statement.

            Finally, he turned on the recorder, which I found odd since we hadn’t talked about anything particularly secretive to this point. Was he concerned about Samantha’s family or about the danger he could put them in?

            “I want you to tell me everything that happened from the moment you arrived at the collection site. And give me a timeframe as best you can.”

            The only time Stan interrupted my story was to ask clarifying questions. He drilled for every detail, especially those relating to my abandoning my couple and the proceeding activities. I was condemning myself with my testimony. I could only hope it would help Samantha. Stan didn’t give me any indication one way or the other.

            When we finished, Stan stood. He didn’t thank me, he didn’t chastise me; he didn’t even look at me. His parting words deflated what little hope I had that my reaper career might survive. “I’ll make sure you get what you deserve.”

            The only question running through my head as the administration building faded behind was How long until they take action against me?


            My mind flashed back to the collapsed building and the evil souls clutching Samantha and I cringed the sound of her desperate voice.


            The cry got louder, which made me stop. The third time I heard it I realized it wasn’t coming from my memory but from the present; behind in increasing volume.

            I turned at the sound of rapid footsteps, quickly coming to a halt. As she gasped to catch her breath, Samantha stared, studying my face with a similar intensity and insight as Stan. Did she think I was a failure too?

            “I’m glad I caught you. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I hadn’t thanked you for saving me.”

            She gave me a hug, and not one of those polite, obligatory hugs. She squeezed me with a genuine appreciation. I felt her shake before I heard the sobs. At that point I felt obligated to hug her back, hold her while she let out the tension held since the traumatic experience of facing an eternity in Hades. We cried together. I felt her emotion; bonded by the same fear. We had faced the same horrifying fate and had somehow escaped.

            When we finished, we both wiped snot on our sleeves. I looked into her puffy eyes, swollen and red like the rest of her face, flushed with anxiety and relief. I was sure I looked as much of a mess as she.

            Her mouth turned into a smile. “Thank you GR. If you hadn’t intervened when you did I would be in Hades and no one would even know.”

            I didn’t do anything, really. “We got lucky. Lucky the collectors and backup arrived when they did. Otherwise we might be…” I didn’t have the courage to say it out loud. The thought made me shudder.

            “They wouldn’t have arrived in time to save me if you hadn’t helped.”

            “I appreciate it, and I hope you have a successful career as a reaper. What happened today wasn’t your fault and I made sure the committee knew it in my debriefing.”

            She kissed me on the cheek. “If there’s anything I can ever do for you…I owe you my life.”

            It was an exaggeration. Instead of rescuing her I had gotten myself caught. Still, it was nice to hear, especially with what would soon happen to me.

            “You can’t help me. All I ever wanted to do was be a reaper. At least I can say I gave it a shot.”

            And with that, I walked slowly home.

            Continue reading GRIT’s adventures:

            GRIT – Part 1
            GRIT – Part 2
            GRIT – Part 3
            GRIT – Part 4
            GRIT – Part 5
            GRIT – Part 6
            GRIT – Part 7
            GRIT – Part 8
            GRIT – Part 9

            Check out the other stories in the blog hop and leave us comments.

            The Gynnos Seeker Project by Juneta Key

            Cursed by Barbara Lund

            A Different Kind of Raise by Amy Keeley

            Night At The Museum by Vanessa Wells

            Flowers For Angela by Curtis Phills

            Ninea by Chris Makowski

            Archive by Gina Fabio

            Royal Assassin by Vanessa Finaughty

            The Big Bad Wolf and the Easter Hare by Katharina Gerlach

            Posted in Blog Hop | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

            Author Interview: Hannah-Louise Smith


            Lover of books, tea and fantasy. Hannah-Louise Smith currently has two published books, loves reading, and has a Siberian husky called Logan

            Tell us about your books, Awakening and Darkness.

            They are urban fantasy novels based on Greek mythology and are part of the Mythics and mortals trilogy. The trilogy centers around our main character Christina Jones as she builds a whole new life for herself, finding both friends and family on the way and gets to the bottom of some very dark plots.

            How is book three in the trilogy coming along? When can readers expect it to be available?

            So far I have an outline and the first chapter done. I’m currently working on a separate project so everyone can expect the final book to be released in 2024.

            Do you know what you want to write when you complete the trilogy?

            I have loads of ideas for books.

            When/why did you start writing? Why did you decide to publish?

            I started writing during the first lockdown in 2020 as a way to keep sane and decided to publish because I wanted people to read my book.

            What is your favorite aspect of writing? What is the hardest part of writing for you?

            I love the writing and seeing my story unfold but I hate the editing.

            What is the best advice you have received that improved your writing?

            Follow the flow. If you don’t have the focus to write, don’t force it.

            Do you have any writing quirks?

            I picture how things will turn out like a film. It’s handy to picture the scene as you write it.

            Do you have a favorite character that you’ve written? Tell us about him/her.

            My favorite character is Christina Jones. She a really strong woman who would do anything to protect her friends and family, we see a lot of that in the second book.

            What do you like to do for fun?

            I like to read. I have a massive to be read pile that’s slowly taking over my room.

            What does success look like for you as an author?

            For me, it’s seeing my books on amazon  and knowing that people all over the world can read them

            Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?

            I have loads of ideas for books so keep watching for more books.

            Book Locations: amazon

            Excerpt: Website

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            Author Interview: Michael Young


            Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Western Governors University with degrees in German Teaching, Music, Educational Leadership and Instructional Design. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and their three children, where he creates online curriculum for BYU. He enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

            He is the author of the novels in The Canticle Kingdom Series, The Last Archangel Series, the Chess Quest Series and the Penultimate Dawn Cycle (The Hunger), as well as several non-fiction works, including An Advent Carols Countdown, The Song of the Righteous, As Saints We Sing, and The Song of the Saints. He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Bards and Sages Quarterly, Mindflights, Meridian, Nugent Magazine, The New Era, Keeping Tab, Allegory, Liahona, and Ensign. He has also won honorable mention three times in the Writers of the Future contest.

            Amazon says you have 32 titles currently listed including both fiction and nonfiction. Are you currently promoting a specific book/series or your writings in general?

            One thing I’m focusing on right now are the new audiobook versions of my books that are coming out. The first four are already out with most of the other ones on the way sometime this year. I’m especially excited about the audiobook version of “A Wonderful Day for a Quest”, which is a novelization of a musical I’m writing. The narrator does an incredible job with all the quirky characters, and it’s just a delight to listen to.

            Is there a certain theme, themes, or idea that connects your work? Do you have favorite topic to write about?

            I’ve always liked redemption stories and those based on unlikely friends who come together to overcome something together. I also enjoy adding historical elements to my books. I did this a lot with my Canticle Kingdom series, which is set during World War II.

            Your bio states that you have degrees in German Teaching, Music, Educational Leadership, and Instructional Design. When and why did you start writing? And how did you find time to write?

            I started writing seriously when I was in high school, and though I’m very busy, I make time to write a little each day as a way to relieve stress. I use my time on the weekends to do a little more, and I find that it is the small, consistent efforts that add up to finished projects over time. I have worked as a teacher, but now I’m doing instructional design, which uses a lot of my writing and teaching skills together, and so I find it fulfilling.

            Do you prefer to write fiction or nonfiction? Why?

            They both feel different, but I like writing them both. I think at my core, my first love is fiction because it allows me the most room to be creative. But I also enjoy the things that I learn when researching non-fiction. I get to find out things I would never has stumbled across otherwise.

            Do you have a favorite book or series that you’ve written?

            I’m especially happy with the Penultimate Dawn series that starts with “The Hunger” and goes on with “The Thirst” and “The Longing.” The main character was a ton of fun to write and poured a lot of myself into him. I really like how the world turned out, and I had a lot of fun writing the magic system. I hope more people will check it out!

            What is the best advice you ever received as a writer?

            Don’t just wait around once you’ve submitted something. Send something off and then get started right away on something else. Always be working on something, because nothing in publishing goes quickly.


            Book Locations: All the purchase links are on www.authormichaelyoung/purchase. (Available on and some of them on

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            Author Interview: Tiffany Nicole Terry


            TNT is a corporate communications manager by day, an indie novelist by night, and a mother every moment in between. A bit of a bohemian nomad, she has lived in every time zone in the continental United States but prefers to live where she can see mountains on the horizon.

            She is passionate about equality, diversity, and inclusion, and believes that the world can be a kinder and more sustainable place. Her books are full of positive empowerment messaging for girls, especially those raised through trauma, neglect, and abuse.

            Tell us about your young adult fantasy trilogy, Sister Worlds.

            Three girls who have experienced different forms of childhood trauma, come together and form a friendship, a sisterhood, as they protect their worlds from the men, machines, and monsters determined to destroy everything in the name of power.

            You also have three children’s books. Tell us about those.

            Also available on Amazon, I came up with these stories while I was going through a painful divorce, and my kids and I were in a new home, a new state, with lots of changes.

            The Princess King was to fight against the stereotype that you need to be married (as a woman) in order to take care of your kingdom and people. I became a single mom, and it was a story to help my kids know that I can do this without a husband.

            Freya, the Lonely Dragon, is about being different and trying to fit in through being kind to others. Since my kids were in a new place, new school, it was important for them to have a story about how to make friends by having a good heart.

            The Persistent Tree is about a tree growing up in a barren land. The tree is strong and brave, even though she fights alone through harsh weather. One day, she finally has a small grove of trees around her. This book symbolized that no matter where we go, we can persevere and grow up a family around us.

            When and why did you start writing?

            I probably started noticing an affinity and love for it back in elementary school. I had a wild, vivid, imagination and was always making up stories, a.k.a. lies. I was told the story of the boy who cried wolf many, many times. But I couldn’t help getting lost in daydreams. Then I just started trying to write them all down.

            Your bio says you are a corporate communications manager. How did you go from there to publishing books?

            I wasn’t brave or confident enough to try and survive off writing books, so I started working in the corporate world. I became the ‘writer’ of the office and organically grew into a professional writing career. I always wanted to write books, but my story wasn’t complete in my head until around 2019. Then I finally got focused on writing and self-publishing my first trilogy.

            You are very honest and vulnerable in your bio. Briefly share who your books are written for.

            As part of my healing process from ending familial patterns of narcissistic abuse, they were for me. You have to put your oxygen mask on first. They are for my daughters, to show them the importance of accomplishing your dreams. And they are especially for any girls or young women out there experiencing a form of abuse who want to read about characters finding their truth, finding their strength, and breaking free from patterns of abuse.

            I try to write clean, non-triggering stories, where girls make good choices.

            Do you have a favorite time and/or place you like to write?

            If I didn’t need to wake up early for work and school, I would definitely stay up and write into the night. Alas, I usually try to get some in right after work, and some after dinner, before bedtime. I work and write in my home office, on an L-shaped desk. One side is for work, one is for writing.

            Do you have any odd writing quirks?

            Is needing a glass of wine or whiskey a writing quirk? Having dogs sleeping below my feet is also a big plus.

            What book project are you currently working on? Do you have plans to publish more books?

            I am working on a couple ideas. One is a loose Rapunzel retelling, where a young woman comes out of an abusive family situation to claim her rightful place as heir.

            If money were no object, what would you do with the rest of your life?

            I would be in a cabin overlooking a lake and mountain view, fireplace burning, cupcakes baking, spending my days reading and writing, and my nights entertaining friends and family.

            What does success look like for you as an author?

            I think you are successful if you achieve a goal. I had a goal to write and get my books out there, and I did. The next step would be to sell enough books to be able to write full-time and make that my new career.

            Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?

            Take care of yourself first. Caring about yourself is not selfish. Read books by authors who create the kind of world you want to live in and the characters you want to believe in. And please, stop chasing the bad boys.


            BookLocations: Amazon, Barns n Noble. The trilogy is available for .99 cents each on Kindle.


            She readied her bow, took one step toward the edge of the trees, and froze.  Crouched in the clearing beyond her was a monster with glistening emerald scales.  It gracefully lifted its long, slender neck, and turned its jet-black eyes to hers.

            Every muscle ached to run, but KaLeah couldn’t connect the thoughts to the motion.  Her eyes widened to take in the creature’s massive body and muscular arms as it rose higher on its back legs.  She saw the beast’s muscular arms ended in long, black talons were coated in grass and clumps of mud. 

            It had thin, dagger-like spikes along the side of its green scaly head.  The long, pointed snout was shut but revealed sharp teeth poking out through each side. 

            A bead of sweat started to roll down the side of KaLeah’s head. 

            The creature blew a chunk of mud from its snout.  The noise was so sudden KaLeah jolted and released the arrow she’d been holding tightly docked.  It flew and hit the beast right in the chest, bouncing off its scales and landing on the ground. 

            She quickly jerked herself back and dove behind the nearest tree, dropping her bow to the ground.  Her breath came heavy and uneven as she tried to keep from making any noise. 

            Is that a dragon? she asked herself.  That cannot be a dragon.  Dragons are extinct.  I’m dreaming.  I must have fallen along the path and hit my head on a rock.  KaLeah made an involuntary whimper, knowing she was most certainly not dreaming. 

            Most of the animals on Naldash had evolved from dragons, but dragons themselves had been extinct for many lifetimes. 

            She clenched her eyelids shut and reminded herself to breathe.  Her father had taught her in any sort of panic-inducing situation, she must keep breathing steadily to keep her mind clear.  A clear mind is more likely to survive in any situation.

            But how do I survive a non-existent dragon?  Is it a ghost?  A phantom? 

            She took another deep breath, smoothed a loose strand of brown hair behind her ear, and then cautiously leaned out around the tree trunk for another view. 

            The monstrous beast was still standing there in the small clearing.  Its long neck trailed down to a spine-lined back, past a set of silvery transparent wings, and ended in a tail.  It beat open the two wings, stirring up the dirt around it, then pulled them back close to its body and continued digging furiously at a small hill in the middle of the clearing.

            KaLeah tilted her head curiously, realizing the sound she had followed was the sound of the dragon clawing into the ground.  It had seen her and yet was much more interested in what it was doing.

            Is it trying to get at an animal or digging out a burrow?  Did dragons even live in burrows?  She shook her head violently, what was she thinking?  Dragons.  Are.  Not.  Real.

            This is crazy, she said to herself.  She realized it didn’t matter what it was or what it was doing.  It was still a dangerous-looking, beast-like creature, mere steps away. 

            I need to get away, now.  I’ll grab my bow and quickly head back through the thicker part of the woods where it will be too big to follow; unless it can break trees, of course.

            KaLeah visualized the plan in her head, building up the courage to move.  She began to prepare for a stealthy escape through the woods, bending first to reclaim her bow when… 


            She froze mid-bend, fingers on the bow.  She had heard the word as if placed inside her mind. 


            Again, the word penetrated her mind, moving her own thoughts aside.  Had the dragon just spoken to her?  She formed the question in her mind.  Are you talking to me?


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