Guest Post: Author Dan O’Brien

First of all, I want to thank you for hosting me today.

My name is Dan O’Brien and I’m probably best known for my Lauren Westlake books, especially the bestselling Bitten. I stopped by today to talk about the ongoing series, as well as a limited-time sale on the Lauren Westlake eBooks in preparation for the next release, Besieged.

Before I pitch you on the first five books for only 99c, I want to take a moment and answer a few questions so you can get to know me a little better, dear reader.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing has always been an important psychological outlet for me. I can’t imagine a life where I don’t write in some capacity. It certainly energizes me. And perhaps more importantly, it rescues me when I feel alone or if I’m having a poor mental health day. I think writing means different things to different people. For me, writing is a grounding principle in my life. If I need to work through something, I write about it. Sometimes that catharsis even becomes a part of a book.

How do you select the names of your characters?

It really depends on the genre. Unsurprisingly, many of my characters are based on aspects of people I have met during my life. Sometimes, I name them based on who they remind me of; other times, I keep trying names until I feel like the name reflects the character. For the Lauren Westlake series, the names came quite naturally. When I work on a science fiction or fantasy story, I will research traditional names from ancient societies or combine base terms with interesting prefixes and suffixes to create something unique.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I imagine I would have been a scientist in some capacity or taught math. I studied psychology in graduate school and even entertained getting my PhD and teaching at a university. However, I decided on a different path that took me away from that possibility. Teaching is such a brave profession. As well, I might have pursued a career in film. Once upon a time, I really wanted to be involved in the filmmaking process, but I didn’t go to film school. I could see myself on that path as well.  

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Always. Much like TV shows and movies hide things in plain sight for eagle-eyed viewers, I like to leave clues along the way that are much more than simple foreshadowing. Often, someone’s name will reference something that will happen later or is a part of a larger theme. I also like to leave references to some my favorite novels and films.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I always liked telling stories. When I was a child, I would create entire plays with people on Popsicle sticks and small stages built from scratch. I also used Legos and other toys to tell elaborate tales. The more I read, the more I wanted to be a storyteller. I published my first story in 2002 and never looked back.

How long does it take you to write a book?

That depends on the book itself. If I am in the middle of telling a larger story, I can sometimes finish a first draft in 6-8 weeks. I wrote a novel in 10 days once because I was so interested in the story that I didn’t want to do anything else. For the Lauren Westlake novellas, I finish a draft in a couple of weeks in order to get it to the editor.

What does being a successful author look like to you?

As many people as possible reading what I write. Being well known might be interesting, but I would prefer that readers enjoy what I write and want to read more.

Now that you know a little more about me, I’d like to talk about the Lauren Westlake series. This weekend, Bitten and its sequels will be only 99c as a promotion for the release of Besieged. Here are the synopses and links for those eBooks that are on sale.

Bitten:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005METJLU  

A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined F.B.I Agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could have imagined.

Drained: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RJI8DVO  

A frightening new case. A mysterious journal. The beginning of the end. Lauren Westlake has left behind the horrors of northern Minnesota to investigate a strange package with a cryptic return address. Crossing the country to the city by the bay, Lauren discovers that Locke was only the beginning. Crossing paths with a stoic SFPD detective and a surprise from her past, she must figure out what hunts the foggy streets of San Francisco in this new novella. Is it vampires? Is it something more?

Frighten: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KJD12BS  

Lauren’s time in San Francisco hasn’t gone as planned. After reconnecting with her brother Billy and discovering that vampires are at the heart of the murders in the foggy city, Lauren is faced with a terrible decision that will affect her career. Can she find a way to bring the killers to justice? Will she be able to find the Stranger in time to stop the nightmares in San Francisco?

Burned: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KJ9V3SJ

Lauren’s pursuit of the Stranger has led to Las Vegas. A series of supernatural murders leads the team to believe that warlocks are behind the deaths. The return of an old ally and a new threat complicates Lauren’s investigation. Can she stop what’s coming in time to avert the apocalypse?

Awaken: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LH7GFVP

Lauren’s world is turned upside down when she is introduced to the Order and Elder Andras. The Stranger’s plan to wake Awanyu begins to take form, threatening not only Las Vegas, but all of reality. Can Lauren put together the puzzle pieces in time to stop the Stranger and save Winona?

I hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity and catch up on the Laruen Westlake series. You can connect with me on Twitter and Facebook, as well as visit my website. Happy reading!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorDanOBrien

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authordanobrien

Website: https://authordanobrien.com/

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Unlikely Hero by Sian B. Claven Promotional Post

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“Another amazing book by author Sian Claven. Unlikely Hero takes us on a interplanetary space adventure with our tough as nails space hiker Jasy as she’s tasked with secretly transporting a pair of secretive strangers through several planets and into deep space. This exciting, and quick read will have you on the edge of your seat for the next installment. I give this a 5/5 star rating .”

In a world where transport is the main control of the universe, one spacehiker is tasked with the unfortunate job of helping two refugees get across the civilised universe without being detected. The only problem is it sounds easier than it’s done. With no trust between them, Jasy must get Mark and Lizzie the hell out of dodge for a reason they won’t tell her. While Mark and Lizzie must place their safety, their lives, in the hands of someone who breaks the law on a daily basis.

From award winning author Sian B. Claven comes her first fantasy novel debut – Unlikely Hero: A spacehiker adventure.

TBR-🡪 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43538244-unlikely-hero

Buy It now -> viewbook.at/UnlikelyHeroWebsite: www.sianbclaven.com
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Guest Article: Signposts of Inspiration by Carol Es

Editor’s Note: This is Anthony Avina, and I wanted to personally welcome author Carol Es to my website. This insightful and honest article was something I wanted to share with you all, and I couldn’t appreciate it more that Carol took the time to write it for us. I hope you guys enjoy it. Now on to Carol’s article…


When people ask what inspires me, I never know what to say. Not because I’m lacking in the inspiration department—it’s just too general a question. “Everything,” I’ll say. If asked what my inspiration might be for something specific, you probably won’t be able to shut me up.

As both a writer and a visual artist, my work is predominantly autobiographical. I love anything with a narrative. Stories move me to create, they draw me in and take me on an escape, like a drug. When combining writing with art together, all the better. I have made many Artist’s books that mish-mash art and words, a genre unto itself, and it’s mostly what I’m used to working in.

However, I’ve been writing short stories and poetry since I was a kid. I wrote a screenplay when I was 17-18 that I never finished. (It was terrible.) Throughout my 20s, I made several attempts at writing novels, but had never been able to get more than 50 pages in. Most of the fiction I wrote was autobiographical. I’ve been inspired by authors Charles Bukowski since I was a young teenager, and later John Fante. It’s not that I wanted to write in either of their styles, but I wanted to be able to evoke a similar feeling from my writing.

Still working on that.

It was nerve-wracking writing in nonfiction, though I think it drove me to finish an entire book. At first, I didn’t write about myself much at all. I found the stories of people much more interesting, and so, I’ve written Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley several times over. It was hard to come to grips with, but a memoir is supposed to be self-indulgent. It just feels uncomfortable. I had to carve out an honest story and reveal my raw self to the world. It’s risky business.

Along the way, I probably couldn’t have finished it without bits of inspiration. My partner, Michael Phillips, also a writer pushed me and supported me immensely. I was also absolutely dazzled after seeing Jonathan’s Caouette’s documentary art film, Tarnation.

Caouette took 20 years of home movies, snapshots, and answering machine messages, stuck them into a blender and came out with a unique examination of his early life—his tumultuous childhood with his mentally ill mother. How could I not identify with that? My mother was bipolar.

This incredibly brave movie deeply inspired me to stop apologizing for my own dysfunctional family and embrace them as my muse. I also began to see the strength in vulnerability instead of viewing it as a weakness.

But I had been wanting to write this book in one version or another for a long time. At the start of it, I began to think back some 20 years when I lived off of Laurel Canyon—a winding road through the Santa Monica Mountains that connects the southeast San Fernando Valley to West Hollywood in Los Angeles. It was the most inspired time and place for me.

A few people in the apartment building I lived in donated books in the laundry room and we’d all give and take them. Once I found a big hardcover book that got me really into my Jewish genealogy (Finding our Fathers by Dan Rottenberg), which sent me on a wild and freaky ride to nowhere. Or maybe it sent me to a sad wasteland. I never quite got to the bottom of my family search, but I got a lot of stories from all the digging I did. Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley actually began with my parents’ backstories, but most of it wound up on the cutting room floor as they say.

Once I’d been working on the book for a couple of years, I found even more inspiration in Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season. I’d been living in San Pedro and picked it up at the free clinic, much in the same way I did Finding our Fathers.

Though Bee Season isn’t a work of nonfiction, it changed the way I saw memoir writing. It’s written from a young girl’s point of view looking back as an adult woman. She recalls the span of time in her life when she was able to win over her father’s love by excelling in national spelling competitions. Though I’m no good at spelling, I really identified with the character who was the youngest in a Jewish family of just four. She’s also been severely overshadowed by her older brother. More than her thoughts and desires to be loved, it was the way she was able to bring in each of her family members’ backstory so seamlessly. I loved that and wished I could have done that. Perhaps in the future.

I get wildly excited and inspired by other visual artists too. I’ll fall in love with painters, i.e.: Amy Sillman, or Lisa Sanditz. I’ll want their work to influence mine. Inevitably, it is nearly impossible to duplicate the same feelings or techniques because everyone has there own thing. My work always winds up looking like all my other paintings. It’s frustrating because I often like other artist’s work much more than my own. That happens. That’s life, I guess. We aspire to be better and are inspired by the beauty that surrounds us and keep on going.

Spring Promotion – $5 off $45 @ eBooks.com. Use Code: springebookscp. Valid until June 20.

Author Bio

Carol Es

Carol Es is a self-taught artist, writer, and musician born in Los Angeles. Using a wide variety of media, she is known for creating personal narratives that transform a broken history into a positive resolution. Her paintings, drawings, installations, videos, and books have been exhibited nationwide in venues such as Riverside Art Museum, Torrance Art Museum, Lancaster Museum of Art and History, and Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. Some of her works can be found in the collections at the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Her collaborative film was also featured in the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale. 

Awarded many honors, including several grants from the National Arts and Disability Center and California Arts Council, she is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, and the Wynn Newhouse Award. She has written articles of art critique for the Huffington Post and Coagula Art Journal, as well as having poetry published with small presses. She also received a writing grant from Asylum-Arts—a Global Network for Jewish Culture.

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley

esart.com

Desert Dog Books

The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale by Rebecca Henry Review

The classic tale of Cinderella takes a very dark turn in author Rebecca Henry’s The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The classic tale of Cinderella takes a very dark turn in author Rebecca Henry’s The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale. Here is the synopsis.

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The Synopsis 

In The Lady Raven, Rebecca Henry tells the tale of Zezolla, a little princess abandoned by her father into the hands of her evil stepmother and wicked stepsisters. A familiar fairy tale you may think but all is not as it appears. The reader is soon drawn into a web of witchcraft, lies and deceit, and gradually realises that this is no typical fairy tale but a dark and macabre take on one. Zezolla is treated with the utmost cruelty, neglected and vilified, and left to live in the damp cellars of the castle. The only friends Zezolla has are her beloved raven and her pet wolf. Her only comfort lies in the loyalty of the creatures of the forest and her mother’s hazel tree. Will Zezolla have the power to escape her torment and ultimately save herself from the unscrupulous clutches of the king? The Lady Raven is a compelling tale and one that is not for the faint-hearted.

The Review

If George R. Martin and The Brothers Grimm were to retell the story of Cinderella, they would have come up with this tale. It’s a truly dark retelling of the original story, filled with the same elements of the classic fairy tale with added elements of horror, dark fantasy and drama that rarely make their way into modern day retellings. The author does a marvelous job of adopting the same writing style of the classic fairy tale while infusing darker elements that not only play to the story, but bring imagery that reflects the attitudes and views of modern day life.

To read this story is to mirror the way in which women are viewed and treated in our world. While the fantasy elements are more prevalent than anything else, it’s hard to ignore the ways in which the protagonist Cinderella is shown the cruelty of men. From her father’s betrayal to future king’s desire to own and conquer her, she is also shown how women are too often pitted against one another by society, one made so desperate to find their perfect life that they are willing to burn down anyone in their way, much like the evil stepmother and her daughters. 

The Verdict

This was a unique and interesting take on the Cinderella tale. Bringing the subtle horrors the protagonist had to face in her original story to the forefront in a much darker and in your face way, the author beautifully blends the magical fantasy elements of the genre with a look into the cruelty of mankind and the hope that in that darkness, light can find it’s way out into the open once more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale by Rebecca Henry today! 

Rating: 8/10

https://rebeccahenryauthor.blogspot.com/

Spring Promotion – $5 off $45 @ eBooks.com. Use Code: springebookscp. Valid until June 20.

About the Author

I am a newly published author with one novel released and another book coming out for publication, in February 2019. I am also a world traveller, living abroad. I have many interests and hobbies in life, besides my greatest passion of all, my family. I am also a vegan, gardener, crafter, and I practice yoga regularly.

Weekly Comic-Book Roundup #1

As a writer, I am always looking towards other creative fields for inspiration. Growing up and well into adulthood now, one of my biggest sources of creative inspiration has been comic books. Whether it was all powerful heroes like Superman or everyday vigilantes like Batman, I’ve loved reading the stories of DC Comics, Marvel and more. The incredible world building, mythology and character development are part of the inspiration for me as a writer when I look to build my own fictional universes. For me and many others out there, comic books serve as the modern day version of Greek mythology, not to mention the other various mythologies of our world.

With that in mind, I want to try and start a new weekly series where I review the comics I read in that given week. Not all of these will be brand new releases. However I think comic books can stand the test of time, and I want to keep that storytelling power alive by sharing with you all what I read in the world of comics. So with that in mind, here is the first comic book roundup.

Thor, Volume 1: The Goddess of Thunder (Thor (2014) #1)

Written by Jason Aaron

Illustrated by: Jorge Molina, Russell Dauterman 

Synopsis

Who is the Goddess of Thunder?

The secrets of Original Sin have laid low one of Marvel’s greatest heroes. The God of Thunder is unworthy, and Mjolnir lies on the moon, unable to be lifted! But when Frost Giants invade Earth, a new hand will grasp the hammer–and a mysterious woman will take up the mantle of the mighty Thor! Her identity is secret to even Odin, but she may be Earth’s only hope against the Frost Giants. Get ready for a Thor like you’ve never seen before as this all-new heroine takes Midgard by storm! Plus: The Odinson clearly doesn’t like that someone else is holding his hammer–it’s Thor vs. Thor! And Odin, desperate to see Mjolnir returned, will call on some very dangerous, very unexpected allies. It’s a bold new chapter in the storied history of Thor! 

CollectingThor 1-5

Verdict

As a longtime fan of Thor, I have to say that I personally was loving this new twist on the mythology. Already playing off the classic Norse mythology of Asgard, Odin and Thor himself, this new story showcases the god of thunder in a whole new light, as his power is bestowed onto a new hero, the goddess of thunder herself Thor. Playing with the mystery of this woman’s true identity, it allowed the Thor we know to take a hard look at himself and decide whether he was a hero without the hammer or not. Meanwhile, the narrative played well with the modern day social problems many women face. Told they can’t do the same job as a man and aren’t as powerful, the new Thor shows that she is just as worthy of Mjolnir and the power of Thor as the original Odinson, and more so than any other man in the universe. A hero in her own right, the artwork captures her raw power and the almost fantasy-like quality of classic mythology we’ve seen for ages in art. This is a must read story of female empowerment, heroism and adversity against all odds. 

Rating: 10/10

Convergence (Convergence 0-8)

Written by: Jeff King

Illustrated by: Carlo Pagulayan 

Synopsis

This is it! The entire DC Universe from the dawn of time through the New 52 stars in CONVERGENCE, an unprecedented event that brings together your favorite characters from every era and series—and none of them will ever be the same.

The evil alien intelligence known as Brainiac has stolen 50 doomed cities from throughout time and space and brought them to a place beyond the Multiverse—a sentient planet of his own design, a world with the power of a god. As heroes and villains from dozens of worlds battle each other for their very existence, it’s up to a ragtag band of warriors from a slain Earth to put an end to this threat that bends the Multiverse to its will. Reality itself hangs in the balance…

Existence comes to end and a beginning with writers JEFF KING (USA’s White Collar), SCOTT LOBDELL (SUPERMAN: DOOMED) and DAN JURGENS (BATMAN BEYOND), and artists CARLO PAGULAYAN (Incredible Hulk), STEPHEN SEGOVIA (GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS), ANDY KUBERT (DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN) and ETHAN VAN SCIVER (GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH). Collects CONVERGENCE #0-8.

Verdict

A fantastic delve into the concept of the multiverse, DC Comics unleashed a whirlwind story of sentient planets, monstrous AI villains who sought to control, and a madman who’s quest for power nearly leads to the destruction of the multiverse. Meant to end the New 52 branding (not necessarily the stories themselves), this crossover event featured the heroes of Earth 2 as they sought allies across the other captured realities of Brainiac in hopes of returning home. The blend of stories and universes was well thought out and gave fans an opportunity to follow a group of heroes not always featured prominently such as Jay Garrick’s The Flash or the Flashpoint Batman. Now one critique I would have is if fans are unfamiliar with the New 52’S Earth 2 heroes or storyline, or the multiverse as a whole, it might be a bit confusing to follow the overall plot. Not as much time was spent exploring the character’s backstories (especially due to the sheer volume of various incarnations of characters), but overall the story still shined and laid the groundwork for the coming of the Rebirth storyline in the years to come.

Rating: 8/10

Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham

(Batman (2016) #1)

Written by Tom King and Illustrated by David Finch

The Synopsis

Part of the most critically acclaimed, best-selling, all-new line of volume one graphic novels, DC Universe Rebirth!

He is Gotham City’s hero, its Dark Knight, its greatest protector. He is Batman. And he is not alone.

There are two new heroes in town-a pair of masked metahumans with the powers of Superman and a devotion to preserving all that is good about this twisted city. Calling themselves Gotham and Gotham Girl, they’ve saved Batman’s life, fought by his side and learned from his example.

But what happens if Gotham’s new guardians go bad? What if they blame the Dark Knight for the darkness that threatens to drown their city?

When sinister forces are unleashed that can warp the minds of men and make heroes into monsters, the time will come for Batman and his allies to decide once and for all: Is Gotham a force for good…or an engine of evil?

From the blockbuster DC Universe Rebirth event comes BATMAN VOL. 1: I AM GOTHAM-the beginning of an all-new saga in the life of the Dark Knight from superstars Tom King (GRAYSON) and David Finch (WONDER WOMAN), featuring an all-star cast of creators such as Scott Snyder (BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS), Ivan Reis (JUSTICE LEAGUE) and Mikel Janín (JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK)! This great starting-point graphic novel collects BATMAN: REBIRTH #1 and BATMAN #1-6. 

The Verdict

Writer Tom King and illustrator/artist David Finch expertly bring the gritty world of Gotham to life in this first volume of Batman’s Rebirth story. Exploring the influence and inspiration that the legend of the Batman has on the citizens of Gotham, (whether it’s a young boy and girl inspired to become heroes or low-level criminals spurned into becoming deadly villains), this volume does a marvelous job of showcasing Batman’s hope for a Gotham that is always protected, even if he were no longer there. It also does a great job of showing how the most noble and heroic person is susceptible to negative influences, and could easily fall to the dark side, so to speak. It’s a haunting and poetic story of good versus evil, and the dangers that come from stepping into the role of a city’s hero. 

Rating: 10/10

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by Carol Es Review

One woman’s harrowing journey through a tumultuous childhood and the back and forth struggle between living a “normal life” and being indoctrinated into Scientology comes to life in author Carol Es’s novel “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

TRIGGER WARNING: THEMES AND STORIES INVOLVING ABUSE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, DRUG USE AND SUICIDE ARE FEATURED IN THIS NOVEL. READER DISCRETION ADVISED.

One woman’s harrowing journey through a tumultuous childhood and the back and forth struggle between living a “normal life” and being indoctrinated into Scientology comes to life in author Carol Es’s novel “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley”. Here is the synopsis. 

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The Synopsis

Six houses, five apartments, three motels, a Hollywood mansion, and a small vegetable farm. Moving 16 times before the age of nine is enough to screw with any kid’s head. Living with an unstable family, a mentally abusive mother, and enduring years of neglect and sexual molestation left Carol Es believing she was inherently bad. At 14, she decided to ditch a rootless, dysfunctional family circus, seeking something that might make her a better person.

She thought she found her answers in Scientology, but she thought wrong.

As a self-taught artist, writer, and drummer, Carol maintained an unbreakable bond with her passions as a means of survival. She exhibited her art and played music tirelessly in bands on Sunset Boulevard and the LA circuit. She toured the US and Canada, signed with Sony Music, but all the while, she’d been conditioned to hide and deny her own mental illness in order to stay true to the doctrine of L. Ron Hubbard—a man who claimed psychiatric treatment was an evil hoax.

In her book, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, Carol explains how it was even possible to be both brainwashed and live “normally” in the world of contemporary art and rock n’ roll.

After a tumultuous childhood and 20 years in the cult, Carol Es takes a huge stride out of fear and silence by sharing her true vulnerabilities and intense experiences. With gallows humor and a unique perspective, she invites readers into her confidence, laying bare her most raw and intimate revelations on her seemingly endless search for self-worth as a woman. In conversational prose, she manages to embrace the horrifically sad scenes of her past, her biggest embarrassments, and finds absurdities one can only laugh about through tears.

Illustrated with crude sketches throughout, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is a courageous, relatable story that will keep you turning pages to the very end.

The Review

This has got to be one of the most detailed and emotionally powerful books of not only an ex-Scientologist, but of a survivor in general. Having overcome so much hardship and struggles in her life, author Carol Es has delivered an emotionally driven, informative and down to earth retelling of the events that shaped her life, and her journey to overcome those experiences. 

While I will reiterate that his novel has some powerful themes and stories that can be triggering for some (and should not be read by anyone who is triggered by these stories or children), the story is one everyone should get an opportunity to read. The life led by the author has elements many people can find a way to relate to. Whether it’s the abuses she survived, the indoctrination in Scientology, (one of the biggest cults currently running in the world), a troubled childhood and family life and coming to terms with that while dealing with loss, the highs and lows of the music industry, and even those struggling with autoimmune illnesses like MS and Lupus, this novel has something most readers will be able to relate to and identify with. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel of 2019. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s a top contender for best nonfiction and top read of 2019 on my website. It’s has humor infused in a natural way, while also incorporating emotionally charged stories that not only showcase the worst of humanity, but also shows the power of resilience and fighting for a brighter, better tomorrow. An in-depth analysis of Scientology as well, viewers of the show conducted by former Scientologist Leah Remini or former scientologists themselves will be shocked, surprised and relieved to see someone give such an accurate and powerful account of what life in this organization is truly like. If you enjoy powerful memoirs, real life accounts of life inside of a cult and stories of overcoming great odds to find a brighter future, then grab your copy of Carol Es’s novel “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley” on April 6th, 2019. 

Rating: 10/10

Spring Promotion – $5 off $45 @ eBooks.com. Use Code: springebookscp. Valid until June 20.

Author Bio

Carol Es

Carol Es is a self-taught artist, writer, and musician born in Los Angeles. Using a wide variety of media, she is known for creating personal narratives that transform a broken history into a positive resolution. Her paintings, drawings, installations, videos, and books have been exhibited nationwide in venues such as Riverside Art Museum, Torrance Art Museum, Lancaster Museum of Art and History, and Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. Some of her works can be found in the collections at the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Her collaborative film was also featured in the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale. 

Awarded many honors, including several grants from the National Arts and Disability Center and California Arts Council, she is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, and the Wynn Newhouse Award. She has written articles of art critique for the Huffington Post and Coagula Art Journal, as well as having poetry published with small presses. She also received a writing grant from Asylum-Arts—a Global Network for Jewish Culture.

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley

esart.com

Desert Dog Books

Mental Health Awareness is a subject I get very passionate about. One thing that has helped me advocate for this cause has been my partnership with BetterHelp, a fantastic website that allows you to seek the help you need. If you seeking advice on the best online therapy websites, then click the link below and find the help you are looking for today!

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/what-are-the-best-online-therapy-sites

The Beginner’s Guide To Winning An Election by Michael R. French Review & Author Spotlight

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

One young woman’s goal of learning as much about politics as possible leads her down a path of betrayals, lies and shocking revelations that leads her to take on the establishment in author Michael R. French’s “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning An Election”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

In 2025, the “youthification” of democracy has inspired younger candidates to challenge the ineffective and hypocritical gray-hairs in Congress. Running for student body president at an Indiana high school, political novice Brit Kitridge takes on incumbent Matthew Boltanski, who, with help from a mystery backer, already has his eyes set on Washington. Brit gains courage and insights from a wise history teacher on how to win, but ultimately finds a maze of deceit and corruption in her school. Is exposing the truth enough to win the election?

The Review

This coming of age YA drama was a fantastic exploration of the political system. Exploring a near future that sees backroom deals, corruption and scandal make its way from the halls of Washington all the way to a small high school in Indiana, the author expertly showcases the struggle to retain your morality and principles when fighting against money and power. In an age in which we now see more and more lies and corruption within our own government coming to light, this novel does a fantastic job of bringing the delicate nature of politics and intricacies of not only running for office, but holding office as well to younger generations, especially those who will be in a position to vote in just a couple year’s time. 

The story itself is powerful, not only blending these themes and moral quandaries to the reader, but creating a narrative that is nearly cinematic in its approach. The characters are realistic, intriguing and hold the readers attention throughout the entirety of the novel. Yet it’s the powerful imagery used by the author to not only showcase the natural setting of the school and city this book takes place in, but to build an image of the emotions and complex state of the students and main characters as they go through this election, that really shines brightly throughout this book.

The Verdict

This is a must read YA, coming of age novel in 2019. An important message followed by a powerful narrative and memorable characters, author Michael R. French has created a stand-alone novel that grabs the reader’s attention and manages to wrap up the character’s stories beautifully, all the while allowing the reader to bond with these characters enough to ponder their fictional futures. If you enjoy a good YA novel with themes of politics, corruption and fighting the good fight, then grab your copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Winning today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author Spotlight

Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner.  He received a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.   He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur,  and starting a family.  

In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies ad self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals.  He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His passions include travel,  collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family.   He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying “no” too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure.

French’s work, which includes several best-sellers, has been warmly reviewed in the New York Timesand been honored with a number of literary prizes.

Endorsements

“Michael French has penned a fascinating, fast-paced, futuristic story about a determined high school senior named Brit who runs an against-all-odds campaign for student body president. There are scenarios that bedevil the imagination: dirty tricks, cyber and other tech attacks, love intrigues, and a picture of how the personal  growth of one individual can shape a collective future. As a politician with several elections under my belt, I couldn’t put the novel down.”            
–Governor Bill Richardson
Former member of Congress, US Ambassador to the United Nations, US Secretary of Energy, and Governor of NM
 
 
“Politics and kids. Michael R. French knows them in everyday life and in high school. Politics squeeze the kids, and the kids squeeze back. What happens matters in the hearts and minds of young people as well as in the larger world that shapes us all. This is a smart novel with vision, and a story full of feeling.” 
—Frederick Dillen 
Author of Hero, Fool, and Beauty,Wall Street JournalFavorite Book
 
 
“If you like cheering for an underdog and savor a complex, exciting story that seems to spring from today’s events, you’ll love The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election. We could use more real heroes like Brit, the leading character in Michael R. French’s newest novel. She’s a young woman with tremendous tenacity and a strong moral compass who rises above her innate shyness to make a difference in her world.”
—Anne Hillerman
   Author of the New York Timesbest-selling Leaphorn/Chee/Manuelito mystery series
 
 
 
“Michael R. French weaves a frighteningly plausible tale of political and educational corruption and gives us a heroine worthy of exploring, uncovering, and confronting it.  Like all great heroes, she stumbles into her quest but then grows into knowing the power of honesty, principles, truth, and teamwork in pursuing it. This is a novel for anyone who honors history, idealism, and courage in the face of our country’s current political, economic, educational, and moral challenges.”
—Marc Talbert
Author of Dead Birds Singing, A Sunburned Prayer, and Heart of a Jaguar
 
 
 
 “A wise, provocative novel about an Indiana high school student body election in a 2025 post-Orwellian universe. A political novice, a science whiz named Britain, is surprisingly motivated to take on the establishment favorite, who may not be who he claims to be. Here Michael French, one of today’s greatest writers for young adults, gives us a realistic page turner with complex themes that intrigues adults, too.”  
—Barbara Beasley Murphy
Award-winning author of Ace Hits the Big Time and
Miguel Lost & Found in the Palace
 
 
The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election, a captivating novel, follows the story of Britain, a senior in high school who runs a daring campaign for student body president in the year 2026. The brilliance of this work is that wrapped into its easy-to-follow and easily relatable narrative are deep political and socioeconomic messages that can be foundational in understanding politics and also offer new perspective on the current status of US politics. I recommend this incredibly engaging book for readers thirteen and up, and even schools that wish to teach students more about the high privilege and honor it is to be able to vote and have a political voice in our country.”
—Gerry Orz
Award-winning filmmaker, youth activist, and author of Lucky or Not, Here I Come
 
 
“For high school history, civics, and political science teachers who want to help their students understand the political process on a much larger stage, this highly readable page turner has it all—candidate messaging using social media, hidden agendas, opponent bashing, fake news, and even dark money. I highly recommend this compelling book as an effective teaching tool.”
—Leslie Carpenter
Former teacher, principal, and superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools
 

 “An inspirational novel, A Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election examines America’s broken political system through the lens of a student body presidential election at a midwestern high school. From the issue of dark money’s influence on our elections to convincing the habitual nonvoter to vote, author French weaves an emotional tale of an underdog’s efforts to win the election and save her school’s integrity. For those losing hope in America, this book is a must read.”
—Bruce Berlin, JD
Author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America and 
president of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics
 
 
“The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election is a heartfelt and moving story with vivid characters and a realistic, near-future setting. I highly recommend this novel of courage, honesty, duplicity, and the corrupting influence of private interests in public education—a wonderful book that deserves a wide audience.”
—Douglas Preston
#1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God
 
“We have a saying at our high school’s model legislature: ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport.’ Michael R. French’s poignant new novel demonstrates that adage through Brit Kitridge, a high school senior who finds her political voice and clarifies her future by challenging her school’s beloved principal. I hope this book inspires more students to get involved in politics and public service by doing the same—speaking up.”
—Meredith Tilp
High school AP government and politics teacher, and 
co-sponsor of Model Legislature/Youth in Government
 


Find Michael Online:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Michael-French/e/B001ITYVES/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRFrenchAuthor/?fref=nf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mfrenchauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mfrenchrt66/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrfrenchbooks/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/287338.Michael_French?from_search=true&search_version=service

 Website: http://www.michaelrfrench.com/

Blog: http://www.michaelrfrench.com/blog

Book Details: 

·         Paperback: 272 pages

·         Publisher: 2018907650 (November 25, 2018)

·         Language: English

·         ISBN-10: 1732511705

·         ISBN-13: 978-1732511705

Amazon Link:   https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-Winning-Election/dp/1732511705/?tag=wowwomenonwri-20

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Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – February 25th

Michael R. French returns to WOW! Women on Writing for his tour of “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” with an interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

Tuesday, February 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Linda Appleman Shapiro reads and reviews the latest bestseller by Michael R. French. Don’t miss this chance to learn more about “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”!

http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/

Wednesday, February 27th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto

Middle Schooler Carmen Otto offers her thoughts after reading “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Readers won’t want to miss this chance to hear from Carmen and learn more about this excellent YA novel!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 28th @ Bella Donna’s Books with Dawn Thomas

Dawn Thomas reviews “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” for readers of Bella Donna’s Books. You’ll delight to learn more about Michael R. French and his exciting new work!

http://belladonnasbooks.com/

Friday, March 1st @ Fiona Ingram

Fellow author Fiona Ingram spotlights the latest novel by Michael R. French. Readers will delight to learn more about “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”!

http://www.fionaingram.com/

Saturday, March 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina has fellow author Michael R. French in today’s spotlight with a guest post by French and more information about the bestseller “The Beginner’s Guideto Winning an Election”.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

Tuesday, March 5th @ Breakeven Books

Today’s Author Spotlight at Breakeven Books is a bestseller by Michael R. French. Readers will delight as they learn more about “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”!

https://breakevenbooks.com/

Wednesday, March 6th @ Coffee with Lacey

Lacey reviews “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Grab a cup of coffee and join Lacey for an enjoyable review of this delightful novel!

https://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com/

Thursday, March 7th @ Sreevarsha Sreejith

Sreevarsha reviews Michael R. French’s latest novel – a YA work titled “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”. Don’t miss Sreevarsha’s insight and thoughts!

https://sreejithsreevarsha.wordpress.com/

Friday, March 8th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Madeline Sharples reviews the enjoyable YANovel “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Readers and Choices won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear what Madeline thinks about this book.

http://madelinesharples.com/

Tuesday, March 12th @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto

Crystal reviews “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Readers at Book Santa Fe love Michael R. French and are sure to love his latest YANovel!

http://booksantafe.com/

Wednesday, March 13th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Cathy interviews Michael R. French about his latest novel “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election”.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

Tuesday, March 19th @ Bring on Lemons with the Hansen Girls

Cathy Hansen along with her two teen daughters offer their thoughts about “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 21st @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles loves YANovels and is excited to share her review of “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French.

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/