Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker Review

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

One of 2018’s most highly anticipated fall reads has to be author Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s novel Dracul. The book is the official prequel to the classic literary horror classic Dracula, written by Dacre Stoker’s great-granduncle Bram Stoker. Taking the concept first explored by Bram and showcasing how the legend of Dracula first began, the story puts the Stoker family in the role of protagonists and explores where the myth and legends truly came from. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen–a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen–and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.

The Review

I will say it now: this is one of my 2018 picks for best book of the year. It was truly amazing to read, and was as engaging as the original novel written by Bram Stoker over a century ago. Capturing the gothic, Victorian era setting and interweaving history, mythology and handwritten notes from author Bram Stoker himself, the authors really did a wonderful job bringing the life of Bram Stoker and his family to life in a horror based setting.

Now while the world knows the works of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be a fiction horror tale, what fascinated me about Dracul was not only the amount of history and real life individuals mixed into the narrative, but learning about the creation of Dracula to begin with. Readers will be enthralled to learn the true manuscript first written by Bram Stoker was never meant to be a fictional tale, but through the words of Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s afterward we learn how the book came to be what we know today, and that large portions of the original novel have never been published before. How much of this horrific and scary tale are fiction as we know it, and how much is fact?

The writing itself was amazing. The story was written in an epistolary format, allowing us to delve into the minds of the Stoker family themselves, as well as associates of the family and historical records to match some of the claims. Fans of the original tale of Dracula will love the similarities and context given throughout this novel, while modern day horror fans and readers will be enthralled with the vast character development and parallels between the life of Bram Stoker (in the novel) and the stories told within his novel years later.

The Verdict

This is a must read book for 2018. As a history buff, classic horror fan and overall Bram Stoker enthusiast, this story really captured my attention from the beginning. From the author’s early years battling illness to the life or death battle with unknown forces he and his siblings undertook, this is the kind of story that comes along rarely. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up the novel Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0735219346/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0735219346&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

About the Authors

Dacre Stoker:

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Dacre Stoker, a Canadian citizen and resident of the U.S., is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He is also the godson of H.G. Dacre Stoker, the commander of the AE2 submarine, whose tactics were instrumental in Gallipoli in World War I.

Dacre, who now calls Aiken, South Carolina home, was a member of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Team, Senior World Championships in 1979 and coach of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team, Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Dacre is married to Jenne Stoker and is the father of two children. He is the Executive Director of the Aiken Land Conservancy.

Dracula: The Un-Dead is Dacre’s first novel.

Dacre Stoker’s Links:

https://twitter.com/dacrestoker?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/DacreCStoker/

J.D. Barker:

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J.D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His 4MK Thrillers, The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, were released in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, daughter, Ember, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

A note from J.D.

As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

jd

J.D. Barker’s Links:

http://jdbarker.com/

https://www.facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

https://twitter.com/jdbarker

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The Lowriders (V, #2) By Josh Holliday Review

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

Author Josh Holliday returns as a force of nature as he explores firsthand experiences of the Latino community in East Los Angeles in the 1970’s in his novel The Lowriders (V, #2). Here is a quick synopsis:

The Synopsis

This story evolves around several young Latino people who populate the Barrio section of southeast Los Angeles in the mid to late 1970’s.

It focuses on their lowrider cars, their habits, style of living, and use of marijuana.

The reader will see how they connived their way in and out of tight ordeals staying one step ahead of the law in their various exploits.

The author lived in East L.A. from 1969 to 1971 and experienced some of these same adventures.

The Review

This is an interesting look into the lives of the Latino community in the area in the 70’s. As a Hispanic man with a deep love and respect for my culture and family, it was interesting to see the hardships and struggles the Latino community faced and continue to face at this time. While this book dives into a very specific group of the Latino community and does not represent all Latinos, the culture of this area and the times themselves and how they played a role in the Latino culture in that era was fascinating to see unfold. It was also a great opportunity to see the extreme treatment those in the Latino community suffer at the hands of the police, often being treated ten times more harshly than a caucasian person who had committed similar crimes.

The Verdict

Overall this was a fast paced read, filled with personal stories and images that reflect an era not too far removed from our own. While the book would do well with some further editing, the overall story allowed audiences to delve into the vast and rich culture of the Latino community in East LA at that time. Be sure to grab your copy of The Lowriders (V, #2) by Josh Holliday today!

Rating: 7/10

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lowriders-josh-holliday/1129557611?ean=2940156066803

Interview with Author Scott Semegran

This interview discusses To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel by Scott Semegran, which Anthony Avina gave a rating of 10/10 for his book review.

The Interview

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I began writing in earnest literally the day after graduating college with a degree in English way back in 1993. Over the years, I have published poetry, short stories, comic strips, and novels. Novels and short stories are what I have kept at the longest and find the most joy in writing and publishing these days.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
Oh, man. That’s a loaded question. I have a few answers: 1) To be honest, I wrote this story for my wife. Having written quite a bit before that didn’t particularly tickle her fancy, I set out—as a challenge to myself—to create a story that would inspire and affect her deeply. She said I accomplished that so I consider it a success. 2) I wanted to write a novel that was endearing but not saccharine and quirky but not snarky. That was a huge challenge! 3) I wanted to explore the power of friendship amongst a group of people with very different backgrounds and personalities. I felt the current state of the U.S. needed that.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
That camaraderie amongst kind-hearted friends wins the day over evil intentions. I truly believe that.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I have mostly written literary fiction, usually with elements of humor or satire. That’s my jam. I’ve been inspired by Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, Charles Bukowski, Michael Chabon, and the like. I hope to have a lasting legacy like these authors.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I would ask Rita to bake me her famous banana bread. Food is the key to my heart. I love food. I love to cook. And I love when my wife cooks for me.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I feel the following have helped me the most: Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, and Instagram have helped the most with finding new readers. BookBub used to be more of a promotional service but they are now enhancing their site to accommodate reader reviews and book recommendations from authors. Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram are all great, too.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Develop a thick skin. You’ll hear “No” or “This is not for me” a lot for a very long time. But if you stick at it, develop your craft, and continue to put stuff out there, you’ll eventually find your readers if your talent develops. Find someone to help with editing. Seek out reviews and accept constructive criticism. But mostly, listen to your creativity when it beckons.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
My latest novel, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel, will be published February 1, 2019, so I am in promotion mode right now. I will be recording the audiobook version in the coming month, narrated by yours truly. And I have a seedling of an idea for a new story germinating in my brain. I’ll probably start writing that in early 2019.

About the Author

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Scott Semegran lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, four kids, two cats, and a dog. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English. He is a bestselling, award-winning writer and cartoonist. He can also bend metal with his mind and run really fast, if chased by a pack of wolves. His comic strips have appeared in the following newspapers: The Austin Student, The Funny Times, The Austin American-Statesman, Rocky Mountain Bullhorn, Seven Days, The University of Texas at Dallas Mercury, and The North Austin Bee. Books by Scott Semegran include Sammie & Budgie, Boys, The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood, The Spectacular Simon Burchwood, Modicum, Mr. Grieves and more.

https://instagram.com/scott_semegran

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3409317.Scott_Semegran

https://www.twitter.com/scottsemegran

https://www.facebook.com/scottsemegran.writer/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/scott-semegran

https://www.rifflebooks.com/profiles/172809

https://www.amazon.com/author/scottsemegran

And my website:

https://www.scottsemegran.com/

Interview with Author Caleb Smith

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I have always been in love with stories. Whether it be though books, comic books, poetry, plays and movies, anyway I can get them really. It was always a fun pass time for me. I always had a gut feeling like I was supposed to create something, I wasn’t sure what, but this came in my late teens. After starting a contracting business and contemplating a couple product invention ideas, I came to realize that those puzzle pieces didn’t fit natural to me. Around the time of fall 2006, my little brother who is a really good graphic artist, starting working on a graphic novel with a friend of his. That gave me the spark I needed and shortly after Longevity was conceived.

 

2) What inspired you to write your book?
I don’t know if it was inspiration more so, or just me trying to find myself. In any case I really feel like the story was always there, I was just lucky enough to find it. I do have to say, Stephen King was always a huge inspiration to me. I grew up in Bangor Maine, so his presence was always big around here. I remember painting houses in my early twenties on West Broadway in the summer time, and he would roll by in his convertible. I remember thinking how cool it would be, to be able to write books for a living like that guy!

 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
The topic of bullying especially at the middle school level seems to be more prominent. If anything I hope people can put them selves in the victims shoes through Noah’s vile experiences. I want readers to feel how emotionally traumatic it can be for someone like Noah. Hopefully this will help raise awareness for the people out there inflicting pain on others but also, act as a guiding light for those who are the victims of bullying. Its important to understand that we are all different, we all look, act, dress, speak and think differently. That is the way its supposed to be. No matter who you are, you will always have your own unique set of talents. Its important to embrace those talents and let the light inside of you grow. Most important, never stop believing in yourself. Never give up and use adversity as fuel to execute any obstacles in your path.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I wanted a story that could appeal to a wide audience with a main character holding plenty of room to grow. The fantasy part was natural considering a story with a multi-dimensional concept. Noah needed to be in middle school to best tackle the bullied victim role. I wanted to mesh his real life every day struggles, with the ability to grow on a fantastical level. It was important to bring a fresh concept to the drawing board, something new and different on the fantasy end. I am pleased with how well it all came together.

 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit down with Earl Sherman and ask him if he thinks going to get ice cream was a good idea? Id want his take on that.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Facebook & Twitter

 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Start now and don’t stop, keep writing even if its bad. Time will heal wounds. Be extra patient and willing to accept rejection. Above all, work hard and believe in yourself.

 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon

 

Longevity: The Will Of Alastair is coming soon!

I have a couple historical novel projects, one is finished.

I also write poetry and have an on going collection.

Id like to think I’m just getting started.

Blog Tour: COMES A SPECTER, Book 2, Ghostland Series by Keta Diablo

Hello everyone! I am excited to share with you guys the official blog tour stop on Author Anthony Avina’s Blog for author Keta Diablo’s COMES A SPECTER, Book 2 in the Ghostland Series. First we have a fun interview with the author, followed by an exclusive excerpt from the book and finally a fun giveaway you can enter to win a great prize. Enjoy the tour everyone!

The Interview

Keta: First of all, thank you so much for hosting my latest Western Romance Ghost story, Comes A Specter. Your generosity is much appreciated.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Keta: I live in the Midwest part of the United States on six acres of gorgeous woodland. When I’m not writing or gardening I love to commune with nature. A pair of barn owls returns to the property every year to birth their young and show them off in the high branches of the oak trees. Nothing more adorable than these white fluffy babies with heart-shaped faces. A lifelong animal lover, I devote my time and support to the local animal shelter. Emma LaPounce, a rescued feline, has been my furry companion for the last ten years.

I’m an award-winning and best-selling author who writes in several genres: Western Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance. In a past life, I wrote Gay Romance. My books have received numerous accolades, including RWA contest finalist, Authors After Dark finalist, Top Pick of the Month and Recommended Review from top review sites, and Best Romance Finalist from The Independent Author Network.  

Ps: For some strange reason, ghosts often show up in my stories, no matter the genre.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Keta: Oh, no. My mother, now 91 years young, reminds me that I always wanted to be number 1) a boy (I had four brothers), number 2) professional equestrian (course I called it a cowgirl).

Tell us a little about the last/latest book you’ve written

Keta: See above in my Author Bio – for some strange reason ghosts always show up in my stories. No different in Comes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series. Several reviewers said they loved the book, but the ghost scared the bejeebers out of them. Gee, I wasn’t scared.

Anyway, I didn’t even know I was writing about all these ghosts. One day, as I was going through my back list of books, I said, “Oh. My. Gosh. Keta!! You write about ghosts all the time.” Read some of my blurbs and you’ll see what I mean. No matter what genre I choose, somehow a ghost shows up. I used to see them—ghosts—when I was a toddler, but that’s another story for another day. Maybe subconsciously, that’s why they keep showing up in my stories.

Where did you get the inspiration for this particular book?

Keta: Let’s see, where were we? Oh, yeah…inspiration for Comes A Specter. I love Western Romance, and since I have such a penchant for dead people, er, I mean those who have crossed over, I created sort of a new sub-genre, Western Romance Ghost Stories. I love writing about cowboys, cowgirls, horses, ranches, rodeos, and…did I mention translucent spirits?

On average how long does it take it for you to write a book?

Keta: That depends on many factors. First, a writer has to be at the top of her/his game physically and mentally to pull this off. Second, she/he has to create a great plot and well-developed characters (no cookie-cutter walk-ons). Third, he/she must plant their butt in the chair and write, write every day, even if you have to pull the words out of the air. Better to have gibberish at times than a blank page, right? Fourth, it depends on whether one is writing a novella or a novel. A novella, two months; a full-length novel 4-5 months. Caveat: Keta is a slow writer compared to many others.

Do you have any unpublished/unfinished scripts?

Keta: Yes, we all have those. Some I keep under the bed, never to see the light of day. Others are sitting on my computer and flash me now and then to finish them.

What types of books do you read?

Keta: Across many genres, but never romance when I’m writing romance. Thrillers, suspense, angels/demons, Native American fiction, and small town contemporary (serious stuff). I hardly ever read humorous. I bet that doesn’t surprise you coming from a person who saw ghosts as a child, huh?

What books are you reading right now?

Freefall (Kristen Heitzmann)

The Dead Game (Suzanne Leist)

and…1,697 waiting for me on my Paperwhite Kindle (sad)

Which are your three favorite books of all time?

Keta: To Kill A Mockingbird, Man On Fire, Gone With the Wind, Legends of the Fall.

Do you/have you ever read a copy of your book after it has been published?

Keta: Gosh, no. I read it so many times while writing it; I’d get bored to death with the same old, same old. LOL.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author who is just starting out?

Keta: Well, I’m really no one to be giving advice to other writers. I made plenty of mistakes starting out myself, so maybe that’s it – study the craft of writing. Know the basic rules at least, and then get good enough at writing you feel comfortable breaking some. I mean, there are some you should never break, but breaking one now and then won’t cause the earth to stop spinning. I have a lot of books on my Kindle (see above). I can’t tell you how many times I read one chapter and delete the book. If it doesn’t grab me right away with lots of questions, then I’m outta there. Take for example Harper Lee’s opening line in To Kill A Mockingbird: Scout: When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

I mean, she hooked me. Completely. I was in the sixth grade the first time I read that line, and from that moment on, I wanted to know who Jem was and how the heck did he break his arm? That book really opened my eyes to reading, gave me an appreciation for love of the written word.  

I hope all your reads are good ones; I hope you fall in love all over again with the written word every time you sit down to read a book.

Keta

* * *

About Comes a Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series

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Six months ago, Anya Fleming’s ten- year-old son, Willie-boy, found his father hanging in the barn. Traumatized over his father’s suicide, the boy hasn’t spoken a word since. Now, Willie-boy has come down with a grave, unknown illness and there’s only one man who can save him, Sutter Sky, a learned Blackfoot shaman known as Yellow Smoke—a shaman who was once deeply in love with Anya.

But Fate had other plans for Anya and Sutter—she was forced to marry Lewis Fleming, a cruel man who berated her night and day, and brokenhearted Sutter immersed himself in the mystical customs and beliefs of his People and became a shaman

.

As if Anya didn’t have enough to deal with after her husband’s death and her son’s illness, an evil, sinister ghost is terrorizing their ranch. Anya is convinced the spirit is Lewis, who apparently isn’t done making her life miserable.

When she turns to Yellow Smoke for help, will he put side his bitterness and save Willie-boy? And can the renowned shaman dispel the powerful ghost from their lives and send him back to Hades?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GXBF25X

Available on All venues November 1st

The Excerpt

EXCERPT: Sutter confronts the ghost.

Chapter Fourteen

“Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed.”

Plains Tribes

Tendrils of darkness breached the room as Sutter slipped through the window of Anya’s room. He didn’t want Willie-boy to see him dressed for war, the ebony handprints –chin to cheek—the tunic and leggings splashed with blood red paint. If he didn’t return, he wanted the boy to remember how he looked the last time he saw him. A misty cloud of energy trailed Sutter as he sprinted through the woods, a sign the wraith was on the prowl and primed for killing. That suited Sutter just fine. He had one goal in mind—lead the ghost toward the pit. He’d worry about how to implement the second part of his plan when the time came. An odious stench spiraled up his nostrils, another potent omen the heavy, scuffing footsteps behind him belonged to Ten Wounds.

Moments later, a cry from the dead and damned cleaved the dark, chilling Sutter’s blood. No wonder Lewis had cracked, no wonder Anya and Willie-boy were terrified of the evil spirit. No wonder Cobb had said, ‘Run, brother. Take Anya and run.’ Close, the Zeuzeu was close now. Sutter imagined the ghost’s rank breath stirring the long, dark hair at the nape of his neck.

The pit loomed ahead. Sutter spotted the pine branches and broken boughs he’d placed over the illusory grave. “Now or never”, he said to the full moon overhead and came to an abrupt halt. Drawing a deep breath, he mustered up his courage and turned to face Ten Wounds. A haze of gray mist swirled around the spirit’s form, his human form. If the situation weren’t so serious, Sutter could have shouted with joy.

He took in the ghost’s visage. A quiver hung from his shoulder stocked with sharp, pointed arrows—a sign he’d transformed into the fierce warrior who once walked the earth. Steeped in blood (no doubt from his recent kills), his clothing hung in tatters around his massive frame—a vest made of animal hides, a breechcloth and fringed leggings. Sutter’s gaze traveled to his painted, pock-marked face. Yellow and white stripes marked his forehead and chin, and black circles blended into his dark eyes. For a brief second, Sutter’s insides quivered and ropes of tension knotted every cord and fiber of his body. Bleary, unearthly eyes speared Sutter when the wraith raised a hand of claw-like fingers and pointed at his enemy’s chest.

The wind, much like the sound of a thousand women wailing, keened into the deafening silence. Fire exploded from the ghost’s eyes—flames the fires of Hell couldn’t compete with. Sutter shouted over the infernal noise and flames. “You are not welcome here! Hear my words, you are dead!”

Like a misty cloud of energy, Ten Wounds lurched forward, a staccato rhythm of hisses and howls spewing from his foam-drooling mouth. Sutter had never imagined such a demonic apparition.

The Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview: R.D. Crist

The Interview

Q1). A little bit about myself and how did I get into writing.
Just a little?  Wow.  There is so much that I don’t know where to start.  I’ve been through a lot.  I’ve experienced so many adverse circumstances that I had to sit down and develop a new perspective, which is why I chose a degree in marriage and family therapy.  Originally, I was amazing in math and many people saw me in a more technical field, but here I am, trying to figure it all out.  What I do learn, I love to pass on, which is why I write…
I began writing mostly by chance – a long story, but…  I decided to write stories because I felt people learn through experiences, even other people’s experiences, and I learned that people fight grown when it is expected.  If you put the two concepts together, it’s better than peanut butter and chocolate – you get entertainment and growth.  A self help book can help people, but so can a good story.  If you get one lesson, or just feel a little better about yourself, in one of my stories, then it was all worth the effort.
Q2). What inspired you to write this book?
Adolescence is a difficult time for many people.  Long story short, I believe this book has the opportunity to facilitate a feeling of acceptance and normalcy.
Q3). What theme or message do you hope to convey?
I put the theme right smack in the dedication: “fitting in.”  The entire book – from the love story, the school, the parental aspect, and even in little pockets – was designed to support the theme of a young woman trying to find where she fits in regarding her immediate situation and in the outer world.  It’s not about witches, love, shoes, or even the individual characters: it’s about how Natalie begins, how she negotiates the circumstances, and where she ends.  An example is: some people wanted more love in the story, and some people wanted less love, but the love interest was perfectly designed to help Natalie feel like a normal teenage woman.  Also, the reader may notice how Natalie’s shoes coincide with her influence over the other girls; the more she is accepted as one of them, the more they wear her style of shoes. 
Q4). What drew you to this particular genre?
I didn’t begin in this genre, and I’m not fixed in this genre, but there seemed to be an opening for more empowerment in Young Adults.  Fantasy seemed the perfect catalyst.  I thought I’d experiment with a first chapter, and I liked it.  From there I set aside my other projects to finish this book; and the second one.
Q5). If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
This is such a fun question.  My characters are made from envisioning extreme personalities, and picturing how each would react is exciting to think of.
I love knowledge, and Ms. Haggle knows everything, but she also has no patience for, well, anyone, and can be very temperamental.  I’m drawn to people who need help, and I see myself drawn to Melissa; but I wouldn’t ask her why she’s so angry, that wouldn’t be smart.  I think I’d ask her, “how can I help?”  But she’d probably just reply, “by leaving me alone.”
Q6). What social media sight has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Goodreads by far.  The bloggers there have been patient, honest, and extremely helpful.  Their sites are fun to read and informative.  I think if this book has a great start, it’s because of them.
Q7). What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Do not quit, and do not stress about it?  Advice I still need to follow.  I have walked away from writing and come back so many times, but I just keep getting better.  This story was actually written about five years ago, but it is now just coming out.  Also, I wrote another book before this one, but was frustrated when a similar story came out before I published it, even though it was about four years in the making.  Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.  I think my stories get better each time anyway.
Q8). What does the future hold in store for you?  Any new books/projects on the horizon?
Yes, yes, and yes.  I am working on about ten different stories at the moment.  I piece them together in my mind until they are complete enough to start a treatment.  I am always building them and have numerous treatments written down.  I promised myself I would publish the second book to Scarlet Reign next year, which has been written and needs to be revised, but there are several more I can’t wait to complete.  There are four books in this series, so we’ll see where it all goes, but first I must consider writing as a hobby because I have other responsibilities.  I am happy with my financial situation and would be ecstatic to just have a fan base even if I don’t make money, but the truth is, books will come slow in my current routine.  I will do everything in my power to have one Scarlet Reign book come out every year.  It shouldn’t be hard as the last two are all pieced together and ready to be written – but there may also be a spinoff.  I have already put forth great effort to piece them together so that they connect as a complete story.  Book one is filled with set-ups that are very imperative to the other seven (yes, seven) books.
I will try to keep all my fans updated on our monthly notes, which can be found on our website: www.scarletreignbooks.com

Author Bio:

R.D. Crist is a psychotherapist who generates creativity via long walks and majestic views of nature. True inspiration to write, however, derives from personal hardships that have sparked a desire to help others manage life’s various struggles.

 

Although R.D. Crist has only released one book, three have been written and several more begun, which span a variety of genres.  The focus of these stories are intended to center on Crist’s favorite dynamics of a story – personal conflict, relationship development, inner growth, and social revelation.  Each story is created with a greater purpose to stimulate a person to reflect on common challenges, be they personal, interactive, or in principle.

 

Childhood influences include Ray Bradbury stories and character conflict movies like Twelve Angry Men.

 

Socializing, listening to people’s stories, spending time with family, and relentlessly exercising (as if those last ten pounds cared) are some of Crist’s favorite ways to pass the day.

Thank you again and I hope this helps,
R.D. Crist

Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward Review

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

In a fun and surprising twist (pun intended), author Terry Ward has given the world the sequel to a book no one ever would have thought they needed, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. The book is called “Jack Dawkins”, and follows the legendary “Artful Dodger” as his story picks up after the events of the classic literary hit. Here’s the synopsis:

The Synopsis

After Oliver Twist intervenes to save Jack Dawkins – the legendary Artful Dodger – from transportation to Botany Bay, Jack embarks on what proves to be a perilous quest to discover his roots. Before he can say ‘Fagin!’ he’s battling to survive a devastating flood and rescue beautiful black-haired, green-eyed Lysette Godden, the girl of his dreams, from the hands of murderous villains. Jack and Lysette, searching for Jack’s parents, head to France and have an adventure there which tests their mettle and mutual love to the utmost and changes their lives for ever. 

Brilliantly and evocatively written, Jack Dawkins is a worthy sequel to Charles Dickens’s immortal masterpiece Oliver Twist. 

Hampered by her tendency always to want what she hasn’t got and an apparent inability to let go of the past, will Lucy ever find her elusive happy-ever-after? This witty, amusing, highly entertaining and fast-paced novel is sure to make you feel Lucy’s dilemma, and warm your heart.

The Review

This was a breathtaking and beautiful story that readers need to have in their lives. Oliver Twist is a literary masterpiece and classic, as many fans of author Charles Dickens knows. The legend of the Artful Dodger continues in this epic story of love, adventure and growing up in the face of great adversity. Taking a look at the classic literary character and giving him a heroic journey like no other, author Terry Ward has given the character a chance to truly complete his story.

The writing was amazing in this book. Capturing the voice and tone of Charles Dickens while giving the story a refreshing new direction, Jack Dawkins is poised to regain his legendary status in the literary world. Set against the backdrop of the return of Napoleon Bonaparte and the looming war with France, this story sees one young man forced to prove his worth against a world who seems to only see a criminal and a dead man walking. In a world where people are still judged guilty and hopeless at such a young age and never given a chance to thrive, this story is much needed and gives readers everywhere the chance to rejoin the Artful Dodger like never before.

The Verdict

Overall this was a truly amazing sequel and novel that I never knew I needed, but one that I could never go without. The imagery brings that era of English history to life in a way that keeps the reader engaged and brings a sense of classicalism to life like never before. If you enjoy the works of Charles Dickens, like historical fiction or want to see what happened to The Artful Dodger after the events of Oliver Twist, then Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward is the book for you. Pick up your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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