Author Interview: Jane Kay

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of UmbilicalJane Kay, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Jane Kay is a South African-born writer whose early career was in teaching. She has worked as a research analyst for the management consulting industry and as a writer/editor. She has lived and worked in South Africa, Canada and Russia and currently lives in northern Portugal. Umbilical is her second novel.

You can connect with author Jane Kay here:
Author Website | Facebook | Atmosphere Press


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

How wonderful to share your space – thanks for having me!  I’m a fan of TRB.

What’s not mentioned in my bio is that books helped raise me.  What I didn’t get at home or in my life, I went looking for in the written word; in stories about others.  What you might guess from reading my bio is that I’m a bit of a nomad, both mentally and physically.  I think I always was, even in the days when South Africa was far more isolated from the world and I was a kid with significant awareness of what was out there.  Don’t we all have the capacity to become better humans when we’re exposed to what’s “other”?  I certainly think so.  Finally, it’s not all cerebral or sedentary for me – I’m a wine (and naturally food) lover and I have a physically active lifestyle.  Not only does the latter help with the writing process but my hedonistic leanings necessitate it!

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

It’s very personal, more than I initially recognised.  When I submitted my first manuscript to agents and publishers, I was told that writing about South(ern) Africa was no longer sexy.  So, in my youth and insecurity, I turned away and wrote something entirely different, but this one I felt I had to write.  It’s a love letter to a flawed country with a complicated history and at the same time a way of trying to examine the forces (and people) that shaped me.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

It’s all connected – and it’s up to us to discover where and how.  And once we discover the connection, what are we going to do with it?

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

You’re making me choose, no!  I have a soft spot for both my main female protagonists: Ella for her defiance, irreverence and deep sense of anger and Ruth for her grace and fortitude.  Although there is one very peripheral character – Ryan Henningh, a very broken man whose full story is not in the book – who still lives in my head.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

If you’re a South African and you have half a brain and a fraction of conscience, you probably grapple with some of the issues of our past.  There are so many secrets and we all have a few in the pasts of our families.  The idea came to me of a person receiving a message that said: I know what you did in 1989/1990/xyz.  An implied threat not intended for the recipient but one that they started exploring when they realised that it was a part of their own history.  What would happen if they tried to unravel the secret?  How would that knowledge then affect them?

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

12-18 months of writing, several years on ice (due to a bruised ego after a major publisher showed interest and then rejected the novel) and then a full year of polishing the book and going through the publishing process.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I wonder how many writers have specific ambitions other than the thing or things they’re working on at any moment.  It’s a fickle business, so it feels scary/unwise to have grand plans, much less voice them!  I’d say my main fuzzy goal is to keep growing and maturing as a storyteller.  The more concrete one would be to have one or two more well-received international mystery/thrillers under my belt as well as a growing audience.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Yes!  A completely whacky one that is inspired by a series of industrial, criminal and political events – all connected – in China and the US.  It’s complex and I’m currently waayyyy down the rabbit hole…

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

It’s one of the main genres I read for relaxation.  I read almost everything, but I love a complex mystery/thriller with some solid characters thrown in.  I guess that means I write what I want to read.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing author stories!

Decide?  Phew, it was more a case of taking one step, quivering… and doing it again.

I’ve written since I was a kid – little rhyming poems to start with!  My head was full of stories, but you know, life and career and all that.  The catalyst for this phase of my life came when I was working as an analyst/researcher for a consulting firm and my boyfriend (now husband) transferred to a different part of the world with the firm.  That route wasn’t available to me, so we got to the point where we had to address the future and it was kinda sorta agreed that I would follow him halfway across the world, without having a job, and pursue the dream of writing so that we could be together.  Having said that, though, the number of people in this world who have that very dream is not insignificant, and to make it happen is difficult.  The sacrifices, judgments, challenges and pressures are real.  I’m eternally grateful for the engaged, supportive life partner I have.  He is the original nomad and I’m extremely lucky.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

Based on an idea or something that interests me, I do a great deal of research initially, then outline what shakes loose during that process, and then I put pen to paper.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I tend to do longhand first.  I write so fast that I can barely decipher it half the time, but it does slow me down for round two, which is when I turn to my laptop.  From there it’s a bit of both until I think the story has strong enough legs to live independently on my laptop.  I do multiple versions and endless tweaks and edits all on the laptop.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Impossible task – I’m going to go with authors.

  • Biggest childhood influence – Enid Blyton for the stories (while acknowledging her somewhat tarnished reputation these days)
  • A book that stayed with me as I grew up – First Poems by South African poet Antjie Krog, gifted to me by a friend at a time when I was particularly receptive to her poetry.
  • Biggest influence – Robert Goddard
  • A small selection of other favourites: JM Coetzee, Tom Wolfe, Stieg Larsson, Deon Meyer, Joyce Carol Oates, David McCullough, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Lewis, Anne Applebaum, Gillian Flynn, etc.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

For immediate distraction: Sudoku, solitaire or a crossword puzzle!  Yes, embarrassingly, I’m that person…  A quick game or puzzle manages to relax my brain enough to be able to get back to the task at hand quickly.

Generally, I don’t have writer’s block (just laziness!), but I do need thinking time, so I go for long runs to give me space to think and process.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

The same advice I give myself: break it down, don’t be overly attached to pretty sentences, keep going.

Thank you, author Jane Kay, for your honest and insightful answers!

About the Book

Umbilical

It’s the early nineties in southern Africa. Not far from Cape Town, a small chartered plane on its way to Namibia crashes unexpectedly. On board is a nun who is hiding an undocumented baby.
Today, thirty years later, two people have very different reasons for wanting to find out what happened to the child: Ruth Masisi, a prominent African judge about to be appointed to the International Criminal Court, and Arthur Coleman, a pharmaceutical industry tycoon from America, who is finalizing the deal of a lifetime with China to establish southern Africa’s first full-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Botswana. Werner and Ella, the descendants of the men who rescued the child, know nothing of the complex history that connects them, but when Ruth tracks them down and pleads for their help, they find themselves faced with an almost impossible situation. Will they be prepared—or able—to sift through their shared past and find the child in time?
In Umbilical, Jane Kay weaves a tale of an unwelcome inheritance, one that is as inescapable as it is perilous.



You can find Umbilical here:
Amazon | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Guest Post: Making Magic Wasn’t Easy by Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Dr. Kathy Martone, author of Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery to share a guest post.

About The Author

Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email 



Making Magic Wasn’t Easy

It was August 1991 and the hot Arkansas sun beat down on my bare arms.  The summer dress I wore hung loosely from my shoulders, allowing my wet skin to breathe in the intense heat.  I watched as rivulets of perspiration traced a path down my arms, weaving a pattern among my girlish freckles, remnants from a childhood I’d rather not remember.  Standing only yards away from the Little Rock train station, I heard the familiar sounds of rumbling wheels, banging boxcars, screeching brakes, and lonesome shrieking whistles.

I stood in front of the Victory House, about as far north on Victory Street as one could go before falling off into the tangled spaghetti tracks of the rail yard.  Although a block away, I could still smell the odors of diesel oil and creosote hanging in the stillness of the sweltering summer air.  Looking up the three flights of narrow cement steps, I took in the sight of my Victorian masterpiece, so aptly named.  I clutched the black iron railing in my right hand and paused just long enough to remember how proud I was to be the owner of this historic landmark.  Hundreds of people’s life stories had been told and retold inside those 90-year-old walls.  Countless paths of healing had been explored, some with great success, others not so fortunate.  But most people reported an exquisite sense of peace and well-being after spending time inside the hallowed walls of this Healing Center.  Because I was the owner and practicing psychologist, people usually credited me with astounding success.  But it wasn’t easy.

I had just returned from Dr. Glenn’s office and my Radix Bodywork session. As I dragged my feet up the red brick steps to Linda and Austen’s office in their suburban Conway home, I felt an overpowering sense of dread.  I stopped for a moment on the front porch to take a deep breath as I remembered how painful my last session had been.  Taking a long look at the cascading ivy that tumbled off the porch and covered most of the lawn, I could smell the delicious fragrance of the thick white Gardenia blossoms that dotted the bushes next to the porch like so many clusters of perfume-drenched clouds, drunk on their own elixir.  I opened the front door, hearing the familiar creak of the hinges as Linda met me with open arms and a warm, inviting embrace.

Lying on a green mat in the middle of the hardwood floor, I began stretching my body into yoga-like positions to loosen my muscles, then slowly merged into the breathing exercises designed to carry me into the deepest recesses of my mind.  Soon a series of cartoon-like figures materialized inside my head.  A tall, dark man appeared first, etched in red.  Initially, he seemed to carry a red cane.  I could scarcely breathe as I watched this walking stick turn into an erect penis, which he rubbed over the naked body of a little girl.  Then the image folded up like a paper fan, transformed into a vertical black line in my field of vision.  A little girl’s voice spoke out:  “Bad boy!  You were not supposed to come out.”  Next, the chubby fingers of a child’s right hand emerged, holding a key.  She reached over and locked the black line, as if it were a door.

Months later, the dreams began – strange images of a small hysterical child, hurling herself against the fiery red, burning walls of a pit, desperately wanting out.  “We have to know,” she said.  “We have to let the secret out in order for me to be freed.  Please, please help me!”  I had no idea that the life I had been living was about to crumble like so many pieces of stale bread.

In 1992, I began working with a new therapist who encouraged me to continue with my daily, hours-long meditations.  I continued to have really vivid dreams that pointed toward childhood sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.  Previously, I had had no memories of any sexual abuse and this new information drew me to my knees and set me on a path of considerable pain and suffering. 

Prior to this time, I knew little about shamanism but I was about to be educated when I picked up a book titled “Healing and Wholeness” by John Sanford.  In this text, Sanford discusses what is known as a spirit spouse.  “Quite often the shaman acquired a tutelary spirit, a particular spiritual being who became his instructor….In shamanesses, the tutelary spirit was always masculine, and was like her celestial husband.”

It was not long before I began doing shamanic journeys where I encountered a magnificent spirit or ghost whose name was Grandfather.  He stood about 10 feet tall and had massive golden eyes like ferris wheels right in the middle of his large white face.  He wore long ivory robes with golden threads and eventually he became my spirit spouse, the impact of which would change my life forever.  We spent long hours over many years engrossed in deep telepathic debates in which he drew forth many unknown truths about my own life and that of the cosmic universe surrounding us.  I recorded our many conversations in a journal and these records became the basis for my novel, Victorian Songlight.


About The Book

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Jordan Neben

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of A Lot of Questions (with no answers)?Jordan Neben, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

A Lot of Questions (with no answers)? is Jordan Neben’s first published book. Jordan has always possessed a life-long passion for learning, and especially reading history. This book is an attempt to try and pass some of the questions and insights that the author has arrived at after decades of learning and consideration. Jordan was born in and currently resides in Nebraska.

You can connect with author Jordan Neben here:
Author Website | Twitter


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Well as it said in the author bio of my book, A Lot of Questions (With No Answers?), I was born and currently reside in Nebraska. I’m in my late twenties, I am part of a family of parents and four siblings, I am 6’7”, no I didn’t play basketball when I was in high school or college. Since my book is a philosophical work covering topics such as history and how it is viewed and interpreted, you can probably guess I am interested in history. I have always been fascinated by history, and lately I have devoted myself to learning more about history that was never taught or even mentioned in public school or college. For example, I have recently been reading Jason K. Stearns’ books Dancing in the Glory of Monsters and The War That Doesn’t Say Its Name about the decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At least in my experience living in the central US, African history and current events are never mentioned, and in my opinion that is a detriment to us all.

Another one of my passions that doesn’t relate to my book at all is aviation. I have been fascinated by flight ever since my maternal grandfather showed me his collection of aircraft books when I was a toddler, and when my paternal grandfather took me on my first flight in his old Piper J-3 cub. Someday I would like to be a pilot, though for someone of my height that will not be an easy task.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

As is mentioned on the back cover, the book is a collection of six essays, but publishing a book was not how I originally planned to start my career as a writer. The first two essays in the book are the first ones I wrote; I initially thought I could get them published in a philosophy magazine. However, none of the magazines I approached were interested in publishing such long essays, even as a multi-part series, and to get the essays down to a suitable length would have meant getting rid or more than half the material, which I felt would be too reductive for the subject matter. After having no luck with the magazines, I had an idea. Through the course of writing the first two essays, I had inspiration for yet more essays to write. I thought to myself: “Instead of trying to get each individual essay published separately, if I can write enough of them, and put them together, I would have enough material for a full-length book.” As soon as I had this idea, I knew this is what I wanted to do. Combining the essays into a book meant that I wouldn’t have to make compromises on how long I wanted each essay to be, and I could write until I felt I had done the topic in each piece justice.

Why did you choose this particular theme for your book? What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

As readers of my book will see, the essays cover a variety of topics ranging from religion and belief to the recent (and currently ongoing) pandemic, to how history is perceived. However, even though the book visits widely ranging subjects, there is a central theme that acts as a foundation that all the essays are built upon. Naturally, the theme also relates to the title of the book: questioning. Questions such as: Why do people believe what they believe? How often do people take the time to consider why they hold the beliefs that they do? Theoretically, could a person’s convictions be altered by changing the circumstances of their life? For example, someone is born in the United States and grows up to be a staunch American nationalist in the early 21st century, and this person has strong anti-China views, out of a fear of China’s growing economy and global influence. What if the circumstances of this person’s life were changed so that now they are born and raised in China in the same time period? Could this person become a staunch Chinese nationalist, who possesses similarly strong anti-American views, believing that the US has been a chauvinistic and hypocritical global hegemon for too long? How much are our convictions based on genetic traits, and how much are they based on factors completely outside of our control, such as the society we were born into? These are the types of questions readers will find in my book, and questioning is the central theme.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

As I mentioned above and will discuss in more detail in another question below, the first essay of the book is the first one I wrote, which I initially intended to be a magazine article. But more specifically, why did I write this type of book, a philosophical piece with the goal of challenging the reader to think more critically about their own beliefs and humanity as a whole? That term I just used, “critical thinking,” is one that has been used a lot recently, so much so that it has to an extent lost its meaning and impact. Which, in my opinion, is a disservice to us all, because critical thinking is vitally important, especially in the age of mass information and social media. Now hopefully I am not about to sound like some out of touch old codger lamenting about what the kids are doing these days, and as readers shall see I believe that humanity has changed little over time and that history reveals patterns of human behavior that are cyclical in nature. With that being said, the digital age and social media do represent a sea change in technology. It is easier and easier for politicians, businesses, celebrities, and ordinary people to tell others what to think, what to buy, what to love or hate, what to think about themselves, what to think about their nation and the world, and so much more. I wrote my book in the hope that it will inspire the reader to examine their own views and those of others more closely, and to believe something not because they were told to by someone else, but because they used their own critical thinking.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

All six essays put together took about a year to write. I did not write the entire book from beginning to end all right away, however. After I finished writing the first two essays, I spent some time trying to get them published, thinking I would write more essays after the first two had already been released. When that fell through and I had the idea to combine all the essays into a book, that is when I began to write non-stop until the manuscript was complete.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Hopefully 5 years from now I will have published one more book and possibly be working on a third. I do have several ideas for books covering a variety of topics. These new book ideas will more than likely require more time and much more research to complete. A Lot of Questions is mostly a philosophical work, and any historical events mentioned in the text are not meant to inform the reader on the events. Rather, they are used as a way to create discussion. A scholarly historical text recounts the events and lists the author’s sources, while A Lot of Questions looks at the event and asks, “What can this tell us?” The books I plan to write in the future, however, will be carefully researched and cited. I have never written a book of this type before, so it will likely take time to learn how to write it and cite my sources correctly.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I do have a topic for my next book, and I have begun the preliminary research to test the waters of the subject to see what information is out there and what other authors have already written about. That is all I will say about my next book at this time, since it still remains a kernel of an idea and it will likely be years from now until I have a book that is ready for publishing.

Do you also dabble in fiction?

As readers of A Lot of Questions will see, in each essay of the book I use what I call “hypothetical case studies,” as a tool to help the reader understand the topic of each essay. Through the course of writing the first essay I realized that I had several pages of nothing but abstract questions, which could be difficult for a reader to intellectually digest, and frankly is not the most entertaining reading. That is when I had the idea for the “case studies.” These case studies are short stories where I take the questions and ideas that have been postulated in the essay and put them into the context of the stories. Hopefully, readers will find these stories entertaining and engaging. More importantly, as readers consider or discuss these hypothetical case studies, they will be considering the questions raised in the essays. My hope is that these fictional stories (often based on an amalgamation of real events) will show the reader how abstract questions can have ramifications on the real world.

I wanted to highlight that aspect of A Lot of Questions here, because I think it is an important component of the book’s character. However, to return to the spirit of the question above, have I written any fiction, or do I plan to do so in the future? As of right now, no I have not written any fiction, and I do not plan to in the future. That does not mean that I do not thoroughly enjoy fiction and do not want to write a large and successful fictional book. To be honest, at this point I do not think I have what it takes to write a fictional novel. I have had a few ideas for books, but I never get further than the initial idea. I imagine that if I took that initial idea I would get buried or lost trying to build a fleshed out fictional universe, create believable characters, and write a compelling story all at the same time. If I do write any fiction in the future, I will probably start small, with much more manageable short stories, and build from there. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing author stories!

For me there wasn’t really an exact point where I said to myself “Yes I shall become a writer.” And this may be a bit of imposter syndrome talking but even after publishing a book sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a writer. However, as I have mentioned before, the first essay in the book was the first one I wrote, and there was an initial moment of inspiration that started me on the path to writing my book. By nature, I am an introspective person, and I enjoy thinking about the events or ideas that I have heard in podcasts or from books. One day at work, I was thinking about the subject of faith and organized religion when I thought to myself, “I should write some of these ideas down so that I can remember them.” I didn’t realize it at the time but those little notes I quickly jotted down on a sticky note would eventually grow into an essay eighteen thousand words long. Once I started writing and thinking about the subject of the essay more and more it was relatively easy to get new ideas on how to expand and make the essay large enough that no magazine wanted to publish it.  

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

As I said in the question above, I started the first essay of my book by jotting down a few ideas on a sticky note so I wouldn’t forget them. That is actually how a lot of the book was written. When I couldn’t sit down to write, if I was busy at work or at home doing chores, I was still thinking about what I wanted to write continually. Whenever I thought of a sentence I wanted to write or a concept I wanted to discuss, I would quickly write it down on a sticky note or a small composition notebook I had so I could remember it. These notes would probably make little sense to anyone but me, not the least because of my terrible handwriting. I usually only wrote enough so that it would act as a placeholder for my brain, so when I read the note again, I could say “That’s what I was thinking about.” Once I had time to sit down with my laptop to write, I would go to my essay outlines and transcribe my hastily written notes in greater detail. When I was in high school and college, I usually sneered at the idea of creating an outline for a paper, mostly because I couldn’t stand the extra work. Only once I started writing a book did I realize how useful they actually were. The outlines were crucial to my writing process, not only for forming a basic structure for the essay, but also as a tool to take all the random notes I made and put them all together. But the outlines were not static and immovable; as I wrote each essay the outline would change, too. Notes and ideas would shift around as I wrote, and I would make additions or deletions as the essay took shape.

Is writing your profession or do you work in some other field too?

Currently I work a 9-5 job that I am not passionate about; it just pays the bills. I hope to someday become a full-time author, but I would have to write something successful enough to give me that financial freedom. I’m hoping the promotional work I’m doing for A Lot of Questions will help me realize that goal.

Can you recommend a book or two based on themes or ideas similar to your book? (You can share the name of the authors too.)

No doubt the two biggest inspirations for me as I wrote my book were authors and podcast hosts, and their work I cited in the “Suggested Reading and Listening” section of A Lot of Questions. They are Dan Carlin, host of Hardcore History and author of The End is Always Near, and Mike Duncan, host of The History of Rome and Revolutions and author of The Storm Before the Storm and Hero of Two Worlds. My book is very similar in style to Dan Carlin’s book, and I hope that readers of The End is Always Near will enjoy my book as well. Carlin took many of the themes and questions he had been developing in his podcast and put them into a book that his listeners had been demanding for some time. The End is Always Near is a fun and thought-provoking read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. In the Revolutions podcast, Mike Duncan walks listeners through some of the most complex and tumultuous periods in human history, while still delivering a coherent and cohesive narrative that not only provides context for each revolution, but also gives concise and informative biographies of the major players in each revolution. Listeners of Revolutions will recognize many similar themes as they read several of the hypothetical case studies in A Lot of Questions.   

I also wanted to mention here that my two brothers helped me a great deal as I wrote my book. We often had discussions as I was writing the book that helped me develop my thoughts more fully, and they read through the early drafts of the essays which helped reduce the number of errors before it was sent to the publisher.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I never actually planned anything that helped me deal with writer’s block. My schedule for writing, however, accidentally helped whenever I did encounter it. Usually, I tried to devote two to three hours a day to write. Since I was working full-time for the entire book writing process, that two to three hours was always broken into smaller chunks as my free time allowed. Every once in a while, as I was writing, I would get a burst of inspiration and would be able to write several pages in a short period of time, and I would be upset that I didn’t have more time to write. But those bursts of inspiration were rare. More often than not writing was a slower process, and there were times where I would get completely stuck and could waste an hour writing a single short paragraph that I was never satisfied with. It was at those moments I was glad that I didn’t have a lot of time to write. Going to work or running errands allowed me to clear my head and ease my frustration, so that when I returned to writing later I could do so with a better frame of mind. If I ever do become a full-time writer, I will have to develop a ritual to help with writer’s block. For me it would probably involve going outside. I find nature rejuvenating, so a walk or a bike ride would probably serve the same purpose of helping me feel more relaxed and ready to write again.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Since my book is a philosophical examination of different topics, it didn’t require a lot of in-depth research, so I doubt I could offer a lot of practical advice on how to do research and citations. In fact, I am the one who could use advice in that department. The advice I would give any aspiring author might sound cheap or obvious, but I do think it is essential: read as much as you can. I have always had an interest in learning, and I spent years with the goal of reading several new books every month just for the sake of reading. There is no way I could have ever written my own book had I not spent those years learning and observing how other authors wrote their books. I know everyone says it, but reading is important if you want to be a better writer. It is the same as if you wanted to become good at a sport or learn to play a musical instrument proficiently: there is no magical shortcut to becoming an author; it just takes time and practice.

Thank you, author Jordan Neben, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

A Lot of Questions (with no answers)?

How often do people take the time to question the basic assumptions that underlie their beliefs and worldview? How strong can a person’s convictions be if they cannot allow room for doubt in their minds? Is a great deal of conflict generated by people’s refusal to question what they believe? Can a person’s beliefs be molded in a specific direction?
These are the types of questions the reader will encounter in A Lot of Questions (with no answers)? In a series of six essays (essays with whimsical titles such as “Make Sure Your Death is Sudden and Violent”), we will discuss topics ranging from religion, to history, to the recent pandemic.
The goal of this book is to encourage the reader to consider not only their own beliefs, but also humanity as a whole. Can humanity overcome its flaws? Are we doomed to repeat history in a cyclical pattern? Is being able to examine our flaws and shortcomings the first step to bettering ourselves (on an individual and collective level)?


This sounds like a lot to discuss in the course of a short book. Indeed, it is, and by no means is this essay collection definitive, but hopefully it is the first step to the reader becoming more discerning.


You can find A Lot of Questions (with no answers)? here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

ARC Review: The Cyclone Release by Bruce Overby

Book Details:

Author: Bruce Overby
Release Date: 
15th November 2022
Series:
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Corporate Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 254 pages
Publisher: Madville Publishing
Blurb:
It’s the late 90s Internet boom, and Brendon Meagher has just lost his wife Sadie in a freakish car accident at the edge of Silicon Valley. The Cyclone Release follows Brendon as he emerges from tragedy and lands in a pre-IPO start-up that promises astonishing riches. Mo Gramercy, a bright and commanding colleague with her own deep secret, joins Brendon, disrupts his malaise, and takes him as her lover. The characters’ careen toward IPO millions, their secrets suddenly converging, and both are shaken without mercy from bucolic notions of work, life, and impending fortune.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Cyclone Release by Bruce Overby is a definitive page-turning corporate fiction that will blow your mind and leave you wanting to read more works by the author!

This book is a heady mix of engaging prose, a captivating concept and a well-executed story developed around extremely realistic and relatable characterisation. This story pulls you in and takes you to the time when Silicon Valley was not how we see it today and tells the story of Brendon, a man stuck in the crazy turmoil of life whose career is in the field that is tethering over a precarious edge.

Well-written, absorbing and thoroughly interesting as well as intriguing, The Cyclone Release has a lot to offer to its readers and therefore I’d strongly recommend it to all fiction readers, especially those who like exploring corporate fiction and are interested in learning the details about the behind-the-scenes reality of the Silicon Valley.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads



Character Interview: Grandfather From Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery, Dr. Kathy Martone

Today, we are featuring Grandfather, one fo the main characters from Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery by Dr. Kathy Martone, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can find author Kathy here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email
 


The Interview

Welcome to The Reading Bud! We are really excited to have you over. Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

Hello and thank you for having me.  My name is Grandfather and I am proud to represent the author who wrote about me in her latest novel titled Victorian Songlight.  I am not a human – at least not in my current incarnation.  But of course, you would know that, from reading Kathy’s book :>) I live in the between realms, suspended between spirit and matter, and I am infused with golden light.

What is your age and what do you do for a living?  

Gosh, it’s hard for me to pin down a specific age for you.  I can tell you, though, that my first human birth occurred in the year 15o1.  What do I do for a living?  Well, mostly I hang out around humans who are seeking spiritual enlightenment, offering support and insight.  Very gratifying work, indeed!

How you like to spend your free time? 

Suspended as I am between two different worlds, time is not the same for me as it is for you humans who live on only one plane of existence.  For example, there is no difference for me between “free” time and otherwise occupied productive time.  I just sort of float along in space and allow myself to be pulled in whatever direction the spirit, so to speak, moves me.  (Ha Ha, my little joke :>)

Please share some of your beliefs, principles, motivations and morals (can be social, religious or political or, etc. Anything that will help us get to know you better.)  

Well, ahem, let me see… (fingers tapping my forehead)

Having lived for over 500 years, I have had lots of different beliefs but perhaps it would be easiest if I focused on my current principles, morals, and motivations.  Primarily, I believe in the principles of love, kindness and compassion, for oneself as well as for all living beings.  I have been a Buddhist practitioner for most of my lifetimes and I have strong moral convictions about the sanctity of all life and the importance of living in a constant state of heightened awareness.  I am committed to the alleviation of all suffering.

Tell us something about your family and childhood. 

In all but one of my lifetimes, I was fortunate enough to have very loving parents who took very good care of me.  However, in the one instance where this was not the case, I was born into a family of wealth and power.  My parents were far more concerned with their greed for money and influence than they were with me.  Consequently, they assigned my care to their many attendants who mostly ignored me and abused me.  This was the lifetime where I began my study of compassion.

Tell us something about your dreams and aspirations? Were you able to achieve them or are you planning to? 

From the very beginning of my lives, I have dreamed of becoming an enlightened Master who would be blessed with humans to love and to nourish.  It has been my utmost privilege to have known many talented and honorable humans, with Kate being one of them.  It truly is a great honor to share ancient teachings with human beings and to watch them flourish as a result.  So basically, I guess you could say that I have always aspired to be a great teacher.  If Kate is any indication, I would have to say that my dreams have been a huge success.

What is your biggest fear in life?

Ah ha!  I knew you were going to ask me about fear.  Why is it that humans often struggle with that emotion?  I can tell you that it is largely because your bodies are sculpted out of matter which has a very dense vibration which translates into the emotion of fear.  But I digress.  For one such as me, fear is what you humans like to call an oxymoron. It just doesn’t exist in the ghostly realms.

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

I was born and I died, both on the same day at the same time in the same womb of Divine Nurturance.

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you? 

In one of my early lives, I accidentally stepped on a caterpillar and I heard the poor creature screech in pain.  This experience stayed with me for many moons, keeping me awake at night.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?  

Definitely for the better.  It taught me that all living beings experience pain and that I should strive to alleviate suffering for all sentient beings.  This experience broadened my understanding of compassion and its importance for the evolution of consciousness.

What are your plans for the future?

Once again, spirits don’t experience time in a linear fashion.  So I don’t think about “plans” like you do.  The past, present, and future are all the same to me.  There is no difference.  For example, I am seated here visiting with you and I am also a little boy in the year 1504, while at the same time I am accompanying Kate as she reincarnates into her next life.  I guess you could say that any plans I might have would be to continue my many journeys through time and space.


Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery by Dr. Kathy Martone

Book Details:

Author: Dr. Kathy Martone
Release Date: 
15th October 2019
Series:
Genre: High Fantasy, Supernatural Romance, Mythology & Lores
Format: E-book 
Pages: 215 pages
Publisher: Dreaming Big Publications
Blurb:
The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend.
Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery by Dr. Kathy Martone is a high fantasy supernatural romance novel that has a very refreshing and unique concept and revolves around the legends and lores of the Ozark Mountain countryside known as the Ozarkian legends.

I found this book thoroughly engaging and entertaining and felt that the writing was apt for the plot. The characterisation was good and the overall world-building was also good. The characters felt real and believable and I was able to feel a connection with the main protagonist, Kate. The pacing in the book kept me hooked till the very last page and the ending felt extremely rewarding.

Overall this book made for an excellent fantasy read and I would recommend it to all fantasy readers especially those who like exploring new lores and legends.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Creatrix of Strife by DC Allen

Book Details:

Author: DC Allen
Release Date: 
11th March 2021
Series:
Genre: Science-Fiction, Speculative Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 128 pages
Publisher: Demodocus Publishing LLC
Blurb:
“Stand in Hell, But Reach For Heaven.”
Rekha is a Disciple of Obcasus: science-worshiping zealots who live deep beneath a poisonous volcano and await the sign to arise and conquer the world. While her fellow Disciples are content to recite violent oaths and practice a form of combat based on instantaneous genetic modifications, Rekha is consumed with doubts. After she instigates a mêlée that goes horribly awry, she is cast out. Now separated from the only life she knows, the young heretic stumbles into the heart of a mystery seven generations in the making, and the reckoning that follows. If the Obcasian Death Cult’s apocalyptic dogma is true, what comes next?

CREATRIX OF STRIFE is a literary anthem realized in lyrical, mind-bending, and brutal prose. Set in an arcane, minutely detailed world where troglodytic saints weaponize their own DNA and the main defense against volcanic death is a massive clockwork defense system, Rekha’s tale is a thrilling science fiction adventure, but also the account of an outcast channeling her frustration into strength and finding purpose in a storm of uncertainty.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Creatrix Of Strife by DC Allen is a powerfully-written and amazingly gripping new science-fiction novel about gene modification, science-worshipping zealots and DNA weaponisation against volcanic death – all this and so much MORE!

This book started on a high note and, thankfully, kept up with it all throughout the story till the very end. I enjoyed reading it because of the level of detailing of the word-building, realistically developed characters, especially that of Rekha, and some other secondary characters who added a lot of emotional depth to the main and sub-plots of the story and the flow of the writing which made reading this book a quick and fun experience.

Overall this book had a lot of elements that kept me hooked right from the start to the very last page! It has an amazing concept, a very engaging and entertaining storyline and a well-developed and excellently executed plot. Overall this book has a lot to offer to its readers (ages 14+) and I would strongly recommend it to everyone who likes reading science-fiction and speculative fiction genres.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: When We Lost Touch by Susan Kraus

Book Details:

Author: Susan Kraus
Release Date: 
29th October 2022
Series:
Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 515 pages
Publisher: Flint Hills Publishing
Blurb:
Grace, a family therapist, returns from a cruise to find that life has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Her daughter’s graduate program goes virtual, and her 11-year-old grandson on the spectrum is home 24/7 with school by Zoom. Her best friend, Katrina, contracts the virus early on but isn’t recovering. On top of that, Grace is called to facilitate a COVID grief group, whose members express rage and sadness at the senseless deaths of people they love.
Meanwhile, Molly and Mike forge a long-distance friendship over Zoom. A young couple, Zed and Cherry, finds validation and connection in QAnon. And on another front, Theo, a respiratory therapist, questions the ethics of keeping oxygen-starved patients alive.

When We Lost Touch is contemporary historical fiction set during the first 18 months of a deadly pandemic. Ordinary people lose touch with friends, family, reality, and truth as they’re caught in a war zone where most of the casualties are taken down by friendly fire. Kraus expertly weaves stories that portray life during a pandemic, providing a gripping, nuanced look at political, social, and medical challenges. 

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When We Lost Touch by Susan Kraus is a work of contemporary literary fiction in which the author has explored the toughest time we all had to go through during the endless months that turned into two horrendous years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this book, several stories are told from different point-of-views covering a wide range of emotions and situations that different people had to go through during the pandemic when we all were cooped up inside our houses and the only means of communication was the internet. There is a wide range of emotional aspects covered in this book and it makes it a really interesting and very relatable read.

The writing is good and it can clearly be noticed that the author has drawn upon her extensive experience of being a therapist and working in clinical surroundings. These two factors add a sense of reality to the whole book making it a tremendously relatable read.

I’d recommend this book to all readers of women’s literature and to literary fiction enthusiasts.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: The 2-Hour Cocktail Party by Nick Gray

Book Details:

Author: Nick Gray
Release Date: 
14th June 2022
Series:
Genre: Non-Fiction, Social Skills, Self-Help, How-To
Format: E-book 
Pages: 278 pages
Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing
Blurb:
You know that well-connected friend who only exists in the movies? The one who throws the best parties and can set up any introduction you need?
Everyone wants to know someone magical like this who brings people together. The secret is: you can be that person. You should be that person. The 2-Hour Cocktail Party will show you how.
Discover a simple formula with step-by-step instructions to host parties that help you meet new people, strengthen your existing relationships, and make you the person everyone wants to know.

You’ll learn which days are the best (probably not the ones you think!) and what to say to the first people who arrive. Read how to ensure your invitations get responses and your guests show up excited to mingle. Plus, get helpful pre-party checklists and a breakdown of activities to encourage new connections.
With The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, you’ll make new friends, boost your career, and leave everyone asking, “When’s your next party?”
Pick up your copy today!

An encouraging, upbeat, and useful call to host parties and make friends.”

2022 KIRKUS STAR AWARD

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 2-Hour Cocktail Party by Nick Gray is a useful book on hosting parties that would be sure-as-hell engaging and make you the ‘it’ person in town with whom everybody would want to connect with.

This book goes into detail about not just how to host fun and successful parties but also lists the kind-of dos and don’t at the party, ways to make sure your guests accept your invite and actually show up to your party and then have a fantastic experience while at your party.

If you are someone who is not sure about throwing your first or the most amazing cocktail party then this book is definitely for you!


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Duck for Cover & Other Tales: A Collection of Short Stories by Barbara Venkataramana

Book Details:

Author: Barbara Venkataraman
Release Date: 
17th August 2022
Series:
Genre: Short Stories, Humor
Format: E-book 
Pages: 58 pages
Publisher: Next Chapter
Blurb:
Fourteen short stories with a twist, Duck for Cover & Other Tales is filled with surprises.
The Yes Man is about a woman who looks after her elderly father with dementia, only to discover he still has life lessons to teach her. Living My Best Life tells the story of an aging rock star who finds his legacy lives on in a way he hadn’t imagined. Thicker Than Blood is about the dilemmas caused by modern technology when a trio of siblings is asked to make the hardest decision of their lives. The Devil’s Workshop is the story of a young man being scared straight from a life of delinquency by a clever probation officer and an ex-con.
Topical, relatable and just plain fun, these and many other stories in this collection deal with friendship, kinship and the complexities of the modern world, and are sure to leave you with a smile.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Duck for Cover & Other Tales: A Collection of Short Stories by Barbara Venkataramana is a beautiful collection of witty short stories that would surely leave a big smile on every reader’s face.

I loved each and every one of the short stories in this collection. Each one of these fourteen stories was funny, sweet, heart-warming and introspective stories that felt really light but, in reality, had so much to say in the deeper sense that only a very skilled writer could have pulled off without making the stories over-bearing and that’s exactly how Barbara Venkatramana did it. The writing felt great and had a good flow making this book a very fluid read. The characters in each of the stories felt realistic and I was able to feel a connection with them instantaneously in piste of the stories being so short.

I would definitely recommend this book to all short story readers. This collection has a LOT to offer!


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Corrupted: Book Two of The Terrian Trilogy by Jenny Benjamin

Book Details:

Author: Jenny Benjamin
Release Date: 
2nd September 2022
Series: The Terrian Trilogy (Book #2)
Genre: Young-Adult, Science-Fiction Fantasy, High Fantasy
Format: E-book 
Pages: 267 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
Book Two begins ten days after the events of Book One with Jesse, Kate, and Hayden traveling in the found alien ship and trailing the Gelfs who have kidnapped Sofia. Plagued with rage and guilt because of Sofia’s capture, Jesse finds himself losing control of his emotions and the Triumvirate’s mission to bring peace to two worlds—Earth and Terria.
Tensions, attractions, and powers crackle with energy in the second installment of the Terrian Trilogy. Jesse and his friends discover new abilities, face hybrid beasts, and carry out rescue missions on Terria. What else? More revelations about Terria’s corruption? Genetic modification? The unveiling of a terrifying plot by Terria’s faction leaders? Yes. Maybe. Jesse and his friends are called to act.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Corrupted by Jenny Benjamin is the second book in the new young-adult sci-fi-fantasy Terrain trilogy This book begins right where the first book, Enhanced left off so it would be ideal to read this series in order.

This book took the plot of the last book further, exploring amazing new avenues and sub-plots and with some new characters added to the mix that explored the world of this trilogy further, it made for an excellent read. I was able to understand the motivations and drives of the characters better in this part as they were explored on a yet deeper level, facing new perils that tested their strengths and grit.

I am looking forward to reading the next and the last part of this trilogy as I know it would answer some questions that this book had given rise to. But most of all, I really want to see how things end for the main characters, Jesse, Kate and Hayden.

I would strongly recommend this book (and the series) to all science-fiction readers and to high-fantasy enthusiasts who love reading well-developed and realistic young-adult characters.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Author Interview: Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery, Dr. Kathy Martone, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can find author Kathy here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Like Kate, the protagonist in my book, I am currently living in a small Victorian village in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.  I first visited Eureka Springs when I was 12 years old and immediately fell in love with the magic and the mystery of this place.  I determined that one day I would make my home in this historic, mystical town.  I just didn’t realize it would take me another 57 years to make it happen!

Eureka is an artist colony brimming with lots of creative people, many of whom find inspiration in the turn of the century buildings that whisper tales of magic and wonder, not to mention ancient history as well. People have lived here from the late Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago, to the present time. 

When I was younger, I never saw myself as an artist or a writer but over the years my dreams kept prompting me to pursue creative endeavors and now I am nestled in the perfect place to follow my dreams!

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Around 2007, I had a psychic reading in which I was told that I would publish a book roughly 12 years hence.  The psychic suggested that I “seed” the book by writing a chapter on my computer.  So I promptly went home and wrote the chapter and then completely forgot about it. 

Some 12½ years later, I happened to spot the short text on my desktop and opened it up.  I was so surprised and pleased at what I had written that I continued to embellish the story until the novel was completed several months later.

When I went searching for a publisher, I ultimately discovered a company whose name is “Dreaming Big Publications” and their logo is the image of an eye. During my career as a psychologist, my specialty was dream interpretation and my logo just happened to be the image of an eyeball!  That just seemed too much of a coincidence so I contacted them and they agreed to publish my book.  Like Kate, the synchronicities were flying fast and furious around the publication of my manuscript.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I think the most important message would be to know that we are all capable of re-imagining ourselves, of stepping into lives that are much bigger and more profound than we could ever imagine, that magic is real.  No matter what our human failings or humble beginnings, we are all spirit beings at our core and thus, we all carry within ourselves Divine Light.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I think I would have to say that Kate is my favorite character.  She is extremely talented but she also struggles with the same human issues that plague all of us at one time or another.  I really like the way her humanity actually contributes to her talents as an artist and her gift for mystical revelations.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Victorian Songlight is based on a true story – my story.  Many years ago, I was training to be a shamanic practitioner and during many of my shamanic journeys, a ghost by the name of Grandfather often showed up.  Kate’s love affair with her Grandfather is loosely based on my own relationship with a disembodied spirit who goes by the same name.  It was a relationship that changed my entire life – just as it changed Kate’s life in the book.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Once I rediscovered the “seedling” on my computer, it took me about 8 months to finish the story.  However, my publisher suggested a number of additions and corrections, which took me several more months to complete.  So, all in all, it took me a little over a year to complete the process of writing the book.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

It’s hard to say what I envision for my future as I am in my early 70’s and I don’t have as much energy as I used to. However, I would like to write at least one more fantasy novel and I also  want to continue creating art as long as I can.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

About the time I published Victorian Songlight, I began another fantasy novel but had to put it down in order to complete the publication process.  And when the pandemic hit, I lost most of my motivation and interest in finishing it.  However, just lately I have picked it up again and I’m looking forward to re-engaging with the process of writing.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

Having a relationship with a spirit or ghost just automatically sets the stage for fantasy.  Beyond that, I have always enjoyed an active imagination and have loved pushing the boundaries of what we call reality.  I have studied shamanism extensively as well, and this spiritual practice easily lends itself to visionary fiction. However, I do enjoy writing in other genres as well and have published a number of nonfiction essays and short stories.

When did you decided to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I am a Jungian psychologist, mostly retired.  As such, my specialties have included dream interpretation, shamanic journeys, and women’s spirituality.  I never saw myself as an author and only accidentally found my way into writing.  (However, when I was in grammar school, I used to love writing stories especially ones with fantastical themes.)  Once I picked up my author’s pen again, so to speak, I felt compelled to continue and Victorian Songlight was born.  I feel lucky that I didn’t have to make any sacrifices in order to follow my passions, as my career gave me lots of flexibility with my time.  And now that I am semi-retired, I continue to have that same flexibility.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I don’t really have a ritual per se.  I just sit quietly and let the images and thoughts in my mind coalesce and then I start writing down what I see and hear, even if it doesn’t make any sense.  (I think all the years of recording my dreams has helped me with this, as dreams often don’t make any sense at first and it is only after having them interpreted does the story become clear.)  So I have learned to let the jumbled thoughts and pictures in my brain marinate until I have time to return and edit the material.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Computer always!

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Only 5?????  Gosh, I have so many favorites! Okay I’ll give it a try.

Favorite Books:

  1. The Walking People by Paula Underwood
  2. Thou Shalt Not Be Aware by Alice Miller
  3. Daughter of Fire by Irina Tweedie
  4. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  5. Return of the Bird Tribes by Ken Carey

Favorite Authors:

  1. Marion Woodman
  2. Augusta Trobaugh
  3. John Grisham
  4. Leo Tolstoy
  5. Alice Howell

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I guess I’m lucky as I haven’t experienced any significant writer’s block yet – probably because I only sit down to write when I already have lots of ideas and images jotted down on scrap paper.  If I get stuck, I just leave my computer and go do something else.  Usually when I return, I have come up with new ideas, etc.  And once I start writing, things usually just start to flow – its really magical for me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think I would tell aspiring authors that the most important thing is to enjoy what you do.  So if you enjoy writing, you should write, regardless of whether you publish anything.  I would also say that publishing should be an act of joy, not a task. 

Thank you, author Martone, for your honest and insightful answers!

About the Book

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.


You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Revimore by Ciel Dexter

Book Details:

Author: Ciel Dexter
Release Date: 
14th September 2022
Series:
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Feminist Literature
Format: E-book 
Pages: 160 pages
Publisher: Pink Narcissus Press
Blurb:
“At Revimore we do not pretend to take away your grief. Death is a natural part of life. But what if you were able to continue to share your life with your loved one? To begin and end each day knowing that you never need to be alone again?”
Told through the voices of women touched by loss, this thought-provoking work examines the nature of grief, and the ethical dilemmas inherent in Revimore, a company that creates artificially intelligent replicants to replace loved ones after death.

“Dexter raises all the standard questions about AI rights, sentience, and ethics, but the close, personal lens on the issue provided by her three captivating heroines adds depth and nuance to these themes. It’s a well-done meditation on humanity, companionship, and grief.”

Publishers Weekly

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Revimore by Ciel Dexter is a work of speculative feminist literature that explores the technological responses to grief by three different women in three different parts of this short story.

I loved reading this book because provided such a unique perspective on technology on the whole and grief as a specific theme. The writing is very smooth and fluid and made reading this book a fantastically quick affair, which I always appreciate. I liked how the author put her ideas and thoughts forward without them being overbearing at any point in the entire story, which is a difficult feat to achieve in feminist literature and I’d like to commend the author on executing the concept in such an interesting yet non-provocative way.

I’d strongly recommend this book to all speculative readers and to feminist ideologists and readers of related literature. Though even if you are not a feminist, this book could simply be enjoyed as a work of speculative fiction alone.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Excerpt Reveal: Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery by Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Kathy Martone who’ll be sharing an excerpt from her latest release Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery.

About the Book

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel

Excerpt

Chapter 1

It is a cool winter evening in mid-January, and the moon is full, casting her alabaster veil over the tiny house nestled among the forest of trees deep within the Ozark Mountains of northwestern Arkansas. The three-room cabin is home to Hank and Jane, a newly married couple in their twenties. Where Hank is dark haired, rail thin, and movie-star handsome, his wife is an auburn-haired beauty with big, green eyes. Jane is nine months pregnant with their first child and frequently troubled with the anxiety of a first-time mom.

“O-o-oh I wish this baby would get on with it!” Jane complains to her husband, who is engrossed in the newspaper he holds in front of his face. “Honey, would you hand me my knitting needles?” she asks as she awkwardly deposits her very large bottom into the antique rocking chair. Silently Hank tosses her the pointed plastic tools, letting the ball of yarn unravel across the room behind them. “Ha-a-ank! Can’t you please just hand me the yarn too? I can’t exactly do
much without it, ya know.”

Hank begrudgingly stands up and slaps the newspaper onto the yellow-and-red plaid couch while bending over to retrieve the pesky fabric sphere. Handing Jane the desired object, he ambles over to the record player, a wedding present from his parents, and moves the needle up and over the black plastic disk already in place. As he gently drops the tip of the pin onto the shiny grooves, the silky melody of Frank Sinatra’s voice fills the room with its soothing refrain:

I look at you and suddenly
Something in your eyes I see
Soon begins bewitching me
It’s that old devil moon
That you stole from the skies
It’s that old devil moon in your eyes

Blinds me with love
Blinds me with love

Closing his eyes as he sways to the music, Hank doesn’t notice his wife’s grimace of pain and her back-arching exit from the chair. “Hank!” she yells. “I think this is it! Better call Jessie and get me a towel. I think my water just broke.”

Instantly Hank snaps to attention, his eyes wide open with concern. “Of course, my darling. Of course. Let’s get you into the bedroom first.”

One hour later, Jane is lying drenched in sweat in their double bed, waiting for the midwife to arrive. Tearfully she clenches Hank’s right hand in a viselike grip, causing him to wince in pain. “Honey, stop! You’re hurting me,” he says as he gets up to answer the knock at the front door. “Hope this is Jessie,” he mumbles. “Don’t think I can deal with this much longer.”

Hank hurries into the living room and jerks open the door, relieved to see Jessie standing there with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Winnie. “Black as the Ace of Spades, the both of them,” he mumbles under his breath.

“Sorry, Mistah. What was dat you jus said?” Jessie asks. “I couldna unnerstan a word dat you jes spoke.”

“Never you mind, Jessie. Just please get into that bedroom and take care of Jane, will ya?”

Jessie nods her head and bobbles her round, short body across the living room, pulling her daughter along with her. “Jessie, is that you?” Jane calls from the bowels of the birthing room.

“Yes ma’am,” Jessie replies. “’Tis Jessie fer sure come to hep you, Miss Jane.” Jessie enters the small room and looks around before moving to the bed and taking Jane’s hand in hers. “It’s goin’ to be okay, Missie,” she whispers.

Minutes later, Jane’s high-pitched screech causes Hank to stop dead in his tracks just outside the bedroom door. “Holy shit,” Hank snorts. “This is more than I bargained for.” Taking a deep breath, he cracks open the door and cautiously peeks inside the semi-dark room. Jessie has her back to him as she peers between his wife’s spreadopen legs on the bed. “Everything okay?” Hank whispers.

Jessie turns around slowly and escorts him out of the room, ordering him to boil some water. Once she thinks he is out of sight, she shakes her head and makes the sign of the cross over her forehead. “Poor thang,” she mutters to herself. “This ain’t goin’ to be no easy birth, no way.” Looking out the window at the moon scudded with bluish-colored dark clouds, she brings her hand to her mouth. “Oh my, my!” she utters between her fingers. “We in fer a long night, sure ‘nuf!”

Lying peacefully in their bed the next morning, Hank and Jane can’t stop smiling at their baby daughter sound asleep between them. “She’s such a pretty thing, Hank, isn’t she?” Jane gushes to her husband. Hank nods in silent, blissful agreement. “But, sweetheart, did you notice this ugly, red birthmark on the back of her neck?”

Hank gently turns the infant over onto his arm and there he sees it—a dark red mark in the shape of a crescent moon, of all things. “What the hell?” Hank mouths silently to his wife.

A knock at the front door startles them both, and Hank places his precious child back in her mother’s arms to go see who could be bothering them so early in the day. Hank’s scowl turns to a bright smile when he sees Jessie standing before him. “Oh, goodness, Jessie! I almost forgot about you. Come on in and have a seat. Jane’s resting with the baby and besides, I want to have a chat with you, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure ‘nuf, Hank,” Jessie replies as she sits in the rocking chair. “What name did you give dat little one?” she asks as she sways back and forth.

“Kate,” Hank responds. “We named her Kate, after my mother. She looks like a Kate, don’t you think?”

Jessie smiles and nods her head, clearly enjoying the soothing motion of the rocker. “Kate’s a might purty name, sure ‘nuf, Mistah Hank.”

“Oh, Jessie. I almost forgot. Here’s your money—well earned, I must say!” Hank hands her a wad of dollar bills. “Now then, about our chat.”

Jessie comes to a halting stop in the rocker and takes the payment, placing the money in the front pocket of her red calico dress. Then placing both hands on her knees and staring right at Jane’s husband, she says, “Yessir. What you wanna talk ‘bout?”

Hank clears his throat and stammers. “Well, uh, gosh, Jessie, um, I’m not sure how to bring this up. But well, geesh, I was watching how you reacted to that moon outside the bedroom window last night. Something upset you, didn’t it?” Coughing into his fist, Hank continues. “And on top of that, why Jane and I saw that awful red birthmark on the back of our baby’s neck. We want to know what you make of that too!”

For several long minutes, Jessie sits stone quiet in the chair just staring at Hank. Finally she stands up, never taking her eyes off his, folds her arms, and says, “Thought you didn’t b’lieve in my dealins in dat dere magic, Mistah Hank. I ‘member you tellin’ me lossa times never to bring any o’ dat nonsense into yore house, ‘member? You called it nonsense, ‘member?”

“Yes. Yes, I remember, Jessie,” Hank says, waving his right hand in a gesture of dismissal. “You know me. I’m always spouting off saying things I don’t really mean. Now can we please talk? I really am interested in what you have to say, okay? Please, Jessie. This is my daughter we’re talking about here!”

“Okay, Mistah Hank, if you be sure den.” Jessie speaks slowly, holding her breath as she resumes her seat in the rocking chair and begins to swing back and forth, back and forth, her eyes closed and her hands placed solemnly on her knees. After what seems like an eternity to Hank, she exhales loudly, opens her eyes, and says, “Dat chile o’ yorn, Mistah Hank, is mighty gifted, being she was born on da night o’ da Devil Moon. Dat birthmark, as you call it, is da mark of dat light in da night sky. She goin’ to be quite a magician but her life also goin’ to be harder dan most. Quite distressin’, actually, poor thang.” Jessie looks down at her hands and shakes her head slowly.

“Devil moons, they give an’ they take, Mistah Hank,” she continues. “Tragic.” Jessie’s expression turns even more decidedly downcast. “Mos’ likely she gonna feel like she don’t b’long nowhere. Shapeshifter she be, scarin’ folks as Miss Kate won’t never appear same ways twice.” Taking a deep breath, she finishes, “Now da givin’ part of da lady in da night sky. Da givin’ part is a spirit man, Mistah Hank. A spirit man who goin’ to love Miss Kate like none udder. A spirit man wit’ big ole yeller eyes.”

Standing up and wiping her hands on the front of her dress, the black-skinned sorceress speaks her final words. “And lastly, Mistah Hank, yor preshus chile, she gonna ‘member lots o’ da happenins in her early livin’, mark my words. She even gonna ‘member this here night wit’ dat moon. Oh, she won’t know dat what she ‘members but she’ll ‘member jus da same. Good day to ya and thanks fer the cash,” she says, patting her front dress pocket. “You take good care now, ya hear? You and da missus, you take good care.” And Jessie the shamaness turns on her heel and exits the house, leaving Hank feeling dumbfounded.

“Aw, shit—what a bunch of nonsense!” Hank exclaims quietly.


About The Author

Dr. Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can find author Kathy here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Enhanced: Book One of The Terrian Trilogy by Jenny Benjamin

Book Details:

Author: Jenny Benjamin
Release Date: 
1st October 2021
Series: The Terrian Trilogy (Book #1)
Genre: Young-Adult, Science-Fiction Fantasy, High Fantasy
Format: E-book 
Pages: 260 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
Jesse Woods – drum line maestro, track star, honors student – is a standout as one of the only Black students at a suburban Chicago high school. His well-organized world is thrown into chaos when his school is attacked by an alien species, Terrians, who have been playing gods throughout human history. Jesse and two others from the drumline, Kate and Hayden, are pulled into an epic alien conspiracy and forced on a quest to retrieve an ancient artifact that will help decide the victory in the battle for planet Earth. The three teenagers will face impossible odds and fight the powerful enemies, as well as their own demons, to protect their loved ones and save the world they know.
Yeah, right, what else, locusts? Dragons in the sky? Alien ships? War between worlds? Armageddon? Yes. Maybe. Only Jesse and his friends can stop it.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Enhanced by Jenny Benjamin is the first book in the new young-adult sci-fi-fantasy Terrain trilogy. This book marked an excellent beginning of what could be a potentially amazing trilogy. This book had everything that I had expected and SO MUCH MORE!

The concept is brilliant setting a strong foundation not only for this book but for the next two books as well and the author’s writing kept the flow of the story very fluid and smooth making it a flawless experience. The characters were well-built and the world-building was up to the mark, the creatures/monsters were terrific and the detailing in the book was commendable. Overall this book made for a fantastically engrossing read and had me hooked right from the beginning till the very end, making me want to jump into the next book right away (which, of course, I did!)

I would strongly recommend this book to all science-fiction readers and to high-fantasy enthusiasts who love reading well-developed and realistic young-adult characters.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Author Spotlight: Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Kathy Martone on The Reading Bud for her upcoming book Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery.

About The Author

Dr. Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.  She and her husband also manage two small BnB’s in their charming turn of the century village.

Before retiring in 2015, Dr. Martone was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys.  Prior to this, she was the director of a small mental health clinic and then she served as company psychologist for Southwestern Bell Telephone.  She taught classes at Colorado Free University, The Jungian Ministries International, Naropa University, and Iliff School of Theology.  For the past 35 years she has studied with Richmond K. Greene, past chair of the New York Jungian Institute. 

The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  As a Jungian psychologist and shamanic practitioner, energy and depth of meaning are very important to her.  So frequently she will accent the tapestries with symbolic objects, such as old pieces of jewelry, the lining from a purse that belonged to her grandmother, or a piece of ribbon she wore as a little girl.  Layering these materials into a meaningful image evokes for her the multi-layered realms of dreams, myth and metaphor.  Like the magical nets of ancient shamans, these colorful tapestries ensnare the features of her dream spirits as they stare back at her from their watery dimensions.  Her work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

In 2006 Dr. Martone self published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  The book chronicles the author’s relentless quest for self understanding and provides a blueprint for other seekers who are looking for spiritual enlightenment while grappling with painful life experiences.  Written in easy to understand language, the book explains how various spiritual and psychological practices were brought together in an alchemical blend to produce a potion of timeless healing.  Weaving its way through such healing practices as psychotherapy, shamanism, Buddhism, Jungian thought and dream work, the reader is given a clear map for psychological and spiritual change.

Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can connect with author Martone here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email


About the Book

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery


The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery by Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Kathy Martone for her latest release Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery.

Victorian Songlight

Book: Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery
Author: Dr. Kathy Martone
Publication Date: 16th October 2019
Page Count: 210
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Magical Realism
Publisher: Dreaming Big Publications


About Victorian Songlight

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel


About The Author

Dr. Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can find author Kathy here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Driveway Detailing Warrior: DIY Money-Saving Guide to Sports Car Detailing at Home on a Budget by S.L. Lucas

Book Details:

Author: S.L. Lucas
Release Date: 
11th August 2022
Series:
Genre: How-To Guide, Non-Fiction, Instructional
Format: E-book 
Pages: 260 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
Psst, did you know that a filthy car could be a disaster for your love life?
It’s true; a survey revealed that 51% of those polled would end the first date early if their date showed up in a dirty car, and 23% have finished a relationship because of their partner’s filthy ride!
Tragic!
In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, S.L. Lucas serves up ten inspirational in-depth chapters full of sage advice, money-saving DIY detailing projects, the odd heart-warming story and occasional fruity language.
TO HELP YOU:
Understand why you need not pay sky-high pro detailer’s prices to bring out your motor’s beauty and how to keep her in stunning tip-top condition at a fraction of the pro detailer’s cost.

Learn the pro hacks and techniques on a journey of discovery where you’re empowered with the know-how to bring your beast back to her former glory with the power of home detailing on a budget.
Transform your Sports Car back to her former alluring beauty yourself, turning her into the glorious envy of friends and neighbours.
From the book’s beginning you’ll understand why you need to embrace the Driveway Warrior spirit. You’ll learn how to DIY detail your ride Driveway Warrior style and how to use the power of home detailing on a budget to thrive in your endeavour to create the ultimate DIY detailed street weapon…

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Driveway Detailing Warrior: DIY Money-Saving Guide to Sports Car Detailing at Home on a Budget by S.L. Lucas is an amazing book that will provide its readers with an in-depth insight into home detailing on a budget, something that would save you a LOT of money and would provide you with the satisfaction of having done it yourself.

This book talks about the Driveway Warrior spirit which to me seemed like a great concept and almost like an ideology. Through ten chapters, the author takes the readers through a rigorous procedure of how to not only take care of the care but also how to maintain it. This book is every car lover and owner’s dream come true!

I would recommend this book to all car owners, car lovers and enthusiasts.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: The Billionaire’s Conspiracy (Janusz Soltani #3) by M.J. Javani

Book Details:

Author: M.J. Javani
Release Date: 
28th March 2022
Series: Janusz Soltani (Book #3)
Genre: Espionage, Action Thriller, Suspense, Mystery
Format: E-book 
Pages: 307 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
TO PROTECT EVERYTHING HE LOVES, HE MUST DEFEND TRUTH
The time is the present. A group of anarchists is planning to attack the White House. They are supported by a rapacious billionaire with a secret agenda. Across the Potomac River, someone is systematically killing members of a private intelligence company. Known as Unit 81, this group is not subject to the debilitating political correctness that shackles the federal bureaucracy.

A trusted liaison points the finger at the Russians. But all is not as it seems. When the Unit’s top operative, Janusz Soltani, discovers the truth about their enemies, his wife is mysteriously kidnapped. Time is running out to rescue her from a horrible end.
Fans of Robert Ludlum, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor will enjoy this action-packed series.

Author MJ Javani has created a compelling conspiracy thriller that becomes more engrossing with each chapter.”

BestThrillers.com

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Murder, mystery, mayhem… this book has it all!

The Billionaire’s Conspiracy by M.J. Javani is the third instalment in the Janusz Soltani series. It is an action-packed thriller that leaves the reader at the edge of their seat for most of the book and throws them completely off-guard right towards the end, reeling them back with a twist in the gut – well, at least that’s how I really felt!

This book is a complete package for espionage thriller lovers and occasional readers of the genre, such as myself, as it has so much to offer right from an elaborate conspiracy to well-built characters walking a tight rope full of tension and suspense. The thrill seeker in me relished the action sequences and the out of the box twists that the author had in store around every bend throughout the novel.

I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly and would recommend it to all thriller, mystery and espionage fiction readers. And also to those readers who are looking for a new series and/or a new author to explore.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Hip Set by Michael Fertik

Book Details:

Author: Michael Fertik
Release Date: 
19th September 2019
Series:
Genre: Noir Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Format: E-book 
Pages: 200 pages
Publisher: Skiddaw Books
Blurb:
Oscar Orleans is a Congolese refugee in Israel. He’s also the only Hebrew-speaking liaison to the African refugee community living in Tel Aviv’s worst slums. When his old friend Inspector Kobi Sambinsky of the Asylum Unit calls him early on Shabbat morning, he knows something is wrong. A young South Sudanese immigrant has been found murdered in the city’s most iconic waterfront building and no-one can quite place his origins.

The only clue is his unusual name, Kinga, which he shared with another refugee from eight years earlier, and a controversial political figure in South Sudan’s most dangerous warring faction. Kobi and Oscar must venture into the heart of Tel Aviv’s Sudanese underground, Israel’s hyper-violent Russian mafia, and a mystery that has been dormant for years near the shores of the Dead Sea.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hip Set by Michael Fertik, the New York Times best-selling author, is a smashing new noir thriller that would take you on a rollercoaster ride of suspense and fast-paced action through the rich settings of Tel Aviv and would leave you wanting more.

I loved this book because the writing flowed so well and had such an amazing literary quality that it did not feel like the author’s first noir thriller but more like a nuanced piece of work by an expert. The characterisation was rich, relatable and realistic – the three Rs that made this book a complete package for me.

Other things that I appreciated in this book are the vivid settings of Tel Aviv that transported me right in the middle of a place I’ve never been to (and would most definitely like to visit someday, especially after having read this book), the African refugee situation that the author has explored in this book and thus provided a very different side of Israel to the readers and, last but not least, the amazing concept of the book (which was totally mind-blowing!)

I would strongly recommend this book to all thriller and mystery readers and to those readers who like reading about different cultures, places and settings. This book delivers on so many fronts that I am sure it will have something or the other to offer to all its readers.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Love The Dark Days by Ira Mathur

Book Details:

Author: Ira Mathur
Release Date: 
1st September 2022
Series:
Genre: Memoir
Format: E-book 
Pages: 232 pages
Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.
Blurb:
This frank, fearless and multi-layered debut centres on a privileged but dysfunctional Indian family, with themes of empire, migration, race, and gender. The Victorian India elephant in the room in Ira Mathur’s silk-swathed memoir Love The Dark Days is in chains. By the time calypso replaces the Raj in post-colonial Trinidad, the chains are off three generations of daughters and mothers in a family in their New World exile. But they are still stuck in place and enduring insecurity and threats, seen and unseen.

Set in India, England, Trinidad and a weekend in St Lucia, with Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott Love the Dark Days (Peepal Tree Press) follows the story of a girl, Poppet, of mixed middle-class Hindu and Elite Muslim parentage from post-independent India to her family’s migration to post-colonial Trinidad.
Profoundly raw, unflinching, layered, but not without threads of humour and perceived absurdity, Love the Dark Days reassembles the story of a disintegrating Empire.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Love The Dark Days by Ira Mathur is an emotionally gripping, complex, hard-hitting yet beautiful and creatively written memoir exploring familial ties in a dysfunctional setting. In this remarkable book, the author also explores the labyrinthine effects of migration and racism as the main story unfolds making it a remarkably complex, and thus, a very engaging read.

I loved reading this book because it had so much to offer to its reader in terms of emotional depth, varied perspectives on the problems that are faced by many and, in the end, a ray of hope, that we all are unwittingly looking for.

I’d strongly recommend this book to all memoir readers because this book is one of a kind and the writing is absolutely brilliant.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: The Young by Nicholas John Powter

Book Details:

Author: Nicholas John Powter
Release Date: 
28th May 2020
Series:
Genre: Fantasy
Format: E-book 
Pages: 128 pages
Publisher: Balboa Press Au 
Blurb:
A father and his son home has been attacked by a mysterious man, an omen a sinister presence has come about the lands of “The Deluge”, the great sun gods know as the Phrazon mur guide and protect the inhabitants who are awake during the day while the evil creatures and man alike come to fruition during the night. For that where the great evil moon gods come up out of hiding. A Religious cult known as the “Spawn” and their most prestigious leader Roland seek to extract the power of the moon gods and destroy the sun gods and plummet the world into but darkness and sorrow. Out two unlikely protagonist must go on a journey to stop them and free their lands from both the gods and the cults grasp. As somewhat reluctant they may be, they will set out on a task of many dangers and one most foreign to them. A journey of family, love loss violence and devastation, divinity and faith.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Young by Nicholas John Powter is a unique fantasy novel that will take you on a rollercoaster of a magical emotional ride.

One of the reasons why I really liked this book is because of the unique and very rarely used concept of the sun and moon gods going against each other. And the second reason for having really liked this book is the tricky and complex relationship between a father and son that the author has explored in this book. Both these things set The Young apart from other fantasy novels. I enjoyed how the plot unfolded and how different sub-plots and side characters and their stories and conflicts kept the momentum of the story building, while the relationship between Sven and Fren sees its fair share of ups and downs and well… we get to see an apt demonstration of a realistic development that can only be experienced as the story unfolds.

I’d recommend this book to all fantasy lovers who want to explore a book on a new concept and to those readers who want to explore a title by a new author, especially about the dynamic between a father and a son.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Author Interview: Tim Aherns

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of The Grand Game (Dark Creatures #2), Tim Aherns, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Tim Ahrens has been writing for more than forty years, and he is especially passionate about character creation. He has worked on a number of short stories and novels and has frequently collaborated with other writers. Dark Creatures: The Grand Game is his third book; his first was The Salvation of Tanlegalle with a foreword by Piers Anthony, followed by Dark Creatures: A Simple Game. Find more at www.thedarkcreatures.com.

You can connect with author Tim Aherns here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hello, my name is Tim Ahrens and I have been writing or involved with writing since I turned 14 years old. I got started writing short stories and novels mainly because of one of my best friends. His name was Tim Atkinson. He got me hooked on a little-known game at the time called Dungeons & Dragons. As it turned out I would end up game mastering our group more than playing. In fact, the players loved the games I concocted so much that many of them, including Tim, pushed me to start writing my ideas down for future stories. This is how I started down the long path of a writer. I soon began incorporating my fantasy stories with my other passion: horror. I’d been in love with horror since I was ten. I used to sit with my father every Friday and Saturday night and watch horror movies with him. It was one of the tings that brought me closer to him. He started me off with the classic Universal monster movies. Then TV series like Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and One Step Beyond. To this day I still feel a pang of sadness for the Frankenstein monster, or Lawrence Talbot’s curse to become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the moon is full and bright.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The Dark Creatures series is a multi-level story. The first level is that of the ancient forgotten Gods that have been cast out of our reality and into a realm where they are forced to wait until the end of creation. In order to alleviate the boredom of eternal life they have been granted the power to play a Game they have dubbed Dark Creatures. In this game two Gods face off against one another in a god versus evil scenario. They are allowed to chose two mortals who have little or no connection with current history and use them as pawns. While they play an amphitheater full of Gods waiting their turn to play cheer, boo or bet on the outcome.

The second level deals with the human pawns chosen for the game. William J. Donovan and Doug Pimpkin have no idea that the events that are unfolding around them will alter their world forever.

The third level is that of the actual living world known to its inhabitants as the world of Dark Creatures. This is a dark world where every nightmare or horrifying creature you can ever dream up lives and roams. Humans also exist in this dark world, but they are in the minority. Into this world William and Doug create their own pawns, bringing to life their own avatars so that an even more complex game can be brought to life for all to enjoy. Dark Creatures: A Simple Game and Dark Creatures: The Grand Game follow these motley entities as they try to stop what was supposed to be a simple game of pawn against pawn from spiraling out of control and threating the very existence of the universe itself.    

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Stop every once in a while and look up from your busy lives at the world around you. You never know what or who may be watching you as you watch them.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I love all of the characters in my books. All of them have a life and a flavor all their own. But if pressed for an answer I would have to say Llica Travilan. Why? Well, I get to write songs for her to sing. She’s a quick-tempered, good-hearted bard who loves Augury with all of her heart. She faces life with an adventurous gusto yet is never too busy to stop and play with a child or teach a dark-hearted individual manners. She’s just fun to write.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Believe it or not, I got the motivation to write the Dark Creatures Series from an anime I was watching at the time called Berserk. It’s about a swordsman who wanders a very dark world in search of his mortal enemy. After listening to the music along with the anime I suddenly began to see my story forming in my mind.  

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

It took about a year to write The Grand Game. I had to keep starting and stopping because I have a full-time job that keeps the roof over my head lol.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I’d love to say that I’d be a full-time writer with a fan base and enough of a following that I can do this full-time. But until that happens I will continue to create the world of Dark Creatures and hold down my full-time job.  

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Yes, Book Three in the series, called Dark Creatures: Worlds Without End. I hope to have it done sometime near the end of 2023.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I love the fusion of horror and fantasy, or dark fantasy, as it’s called. I can and have written short stories in sci-fi and modern settings, as well as Westerns and Gothic settings. Dark Creatures just happened to be set in a dark fantasy setting.

When did you decided to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

As I said above, I started writing when I was about fourteen. And I have to say, yes, it’s been easy to follow this passion because I can move it at my own pace. As far as sacrifices go, I really didn’t have to make many. I loved to dream and when I wrote I dreamed in 3D. Beside friends pushing me into spending the money to get published as well as giving me their endless goodwill when I flooded them with questions, like Is this any good? What do you think? Do you like this?

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I sit down and get my bearing after I return home from work for about half an hour. Then I pour myself a cup of coffee, turn on my computer, and put on the soundtrack music that is most appropriate to the scene I am working on. Then I just begin to write, and the world opens up before me in my mind. Sometimes I only write for an hour. Sometimes for half the night. It all depends on how that world flows out before me.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I use a computer. Without Word my poor editor might pull their hair out lol.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Steven King’s Firestarter. Pers Anthony’s The Blue Adept. Elaine Cunningham’s Daughter of the Drow. Robert A. Heinlein’s Friday. And Brian Stableford’s The Werewolves of London.  

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I take long walks. Try to clear my head. Listen to music. Take a nap 🙂

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never give up. All you need is time to hone your craft. Also, never throw anything away!! You never know when you might need that page!

Thank you, author Tim Aherns, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Grand Game

A Grand Game of Dark Creatures has Begun!
Three new Gods join the Janus’s in the madness that has become a Grand Game of Dark Creatures. Circe, Goddess of magic, Apophis, God of chaos, and I Am, Eder God of nightmares, add their human pawns to the game table that has become Millten, Wisconsin. 
In turn two more souls join William J. Donovan and Doug Pimpkin, the Gods’ human pawns, as all are forced to craft slaves of their own with in the very fabric of yet another world. A world of real fantasy and nightmares. The true world of Dark Creatures. 
What role will Augury Pars and Llica Travilan play? What other horrors may they encounter as they strive to survive as they do the bidding of their human masters? Does the town of Millten, it’s people, as well as the whole of creation, still rest on in their hands? Or is there another force at work that may tip the balance of power and doom all the worlds to darkness?


Come read, enjoy, participate in the greatest of all role playing games! Welcome to Dark Creatures: The Grand Game!

You can find The Grand Game here:
Amazon | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: A Reservoir Man by L.J. Ambrosio 

Book Details:

Author: L.J. Ambrosio
Release Date: 
6th July 2022
Series:
Genre: Coming-Of-Age Fictional Memoir
Format: E-book 
Pages: 238 pages
Publisher: Film Valor
Blurb:
A Reservoir Mancritics have hailed this explosive and timely work as “a must-read coming-of-age story of 2022.” Twists and turns further pull the reader in to Michael’s action-packed tale, with powerful themes, from betrayal and family to secrets and identity. “Be sure not to blink because you just might miss a pivotal moment in Michael’s rousing, larger-than-life story.” –R.C. Gibson, Indiestoday.com. “This book is a dream, a gamble, a utopia, even.” — Kalyan Panja, Bookmarkks.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Reservoir Man by L.J. Ambrosio is a brilliantly written coming-of-age fictional memoir that is sure to steal your heart and leave you craving for more.

This book had nearly everything that makes it a perfect read – good writing coupled with great plotting and exceptional pacing, strong characterisation, a lot of tension in the right places and a complex yet identifiable and relatable concept. I enjoyed reading this book because of the amazing and realistic characters that were incredibly relatable and made me want to “know more and more” about them, even the secondary characters.

I’d highly recommend this book to all readers of memoir and fictional memoir genres as this book has a lot to offer all its readers.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Harvey’s Hutch by Phillip Dodd

Book Details:

Author: Philip Dodd
Release Date: 
11th August 2022
Series:
Genre: Memoir
Format: E-book 
Pages: 228 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
‘Many children have terrible childhoods. But in mine there is a hole…”
The gaping rent that four-year-old Philip Dodd found one morning in the wire mesh of the hutch which had housed Harvey, his pet rabbit, became a metaphorical one which, along with Harvey’s disappearance, has haunted his thoughts throughout his life. In this sensitive, beautifully told memoir, Dodd ( ‘ a small boy with more air in my brain than knowledge ‘) finds himself, if not Harvey, and learns to become at peace with the unknowable and the forces of darkness. ‘The horns of Elfland are still blowing, as Alfred Lord Tennyson once heard them, and preserved them in his lines, and somewhere beyond the border stones, through the mist on the moors, strange folk ride, as they ever did, in the shadow of the dark tower,’

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Harvey’s Hutch by Philip Dodd is a beautiful, lyrical, sentimental, philosophical memoir about coming to terms with what life throws your way and making the best of it – the classic lemon and lemonade situation but written with a lot of poise, sophistication and reverence of one’s own surroundings and people.

Harvey’s Hutch is a beautifully written book that takes the readers through the author’s life, step-by-step, year-by-year giving it a very familial coming-of-age feel making it an instantly relatable tale that is hard not to feel a connection to. It is written in very thoughtful and engaging prose that delivers the author’s sentiments in a beautiful litany of introspective thoughts and exposition that I found extremely easy to read, because of the great narrative flow, and was able to connect to.

I would strongly recommend this book to all non-fiction readers and memoir enthusiasts as I am sure there is much to be gleaned for each reader from such an emotionally complex and rich piece of writing.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Spotlight: A Reservoir Man by L.J. Ambrosio 

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author L.J. Ambrosio for his latest release A Reservoir Man.

A Reservoir Man

Book: A Reservoir Man
Author: L.J. Ambrosio
Publication Date
Page Count: 340
Genre: Fictional Memoir
Publisher: Film Valor


About A Reservoir Man

A Reservoir Man, critics have hailed this explosive and timely work as “a must-read coming-of-age story of 2022.” Twists and turns further pull the reader into Michael’s action-packed tale, with powerful themes, from betrayal and family to secrets and identity.

“Be sure not to blink because you just might miss a pivotal moment in Michael’s rousing, larger-than-life story.”

-R.C. Gibson, Indiestoday.

“This book is a dream, a gamble, a utopia, even.”

-Kalyan Panja, Bookmarkks.

You can find A Reservoir Man here:
Amazon | Goodreads | BookBub


About The Author

L.J. Ambrosio

Louis J. Ambrosio ran one of the most nurturing bi-coastal talent agencies in Los Angeles and New York. He started his career as a theatrical producer, running two major regional theatres for eight seasons. Ambrosio also distinguished himself as an award-winning film producer and novelist over the course of his impressive career.

You can find author Ambrosio here:
Instagram | Blog | YouTube Channel


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Reed Logan Westgate

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of The Infernal Games (Book One of the Baku Trilogy), Reed Logan Westgate, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Reed Logan Westgate was born in Sanford, Maine and attended college in Dover, New Hampshire where he studied Accounting and Finance. He currently works for a non-profit social service agency in the finance department. He married his dream girl whom he met in grade school. They have a loving family with two beautiful daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys tabletop gaming, roleplaying games, and fishing. Learn more at .

You can connect with author Reed Logan Westgate here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I was born and raised in Sanford, Maine, where I still reside today. Growing up was tough for me. I was bullied and teased relentlessly because of my weight. High school was a daily exercise in torment for me because I had very few friends and there was a plethora of mean-spirited kids. I had always wanted to be a writer and had planned on going to college for creative writing on graduation. Life didn’t really go as planned. Instead, I got my degree in accounting, settled down, and did what was expected of me. I worked decent jobs, bought a house, had two beautiful children. From all traditional measures I should have been happy. I wasn’t.

Then one day, while giving my oldest daughter a lecture about having the courage to chase her dreams instead of chasing a paycheck, she hit me with the “What about you?” It was a gut punch. Twenty years had passed since I graduated, and I had never truly given any effort to realizing my dream. In a large part, it was self-doubt. If I never tried, then I could never fail. The dream would always exist out there in the nebulous place we call “someday”. That moment was my someday, and I spent the next year working on The Infernal Games. Writing again, with purpose, was like finding that piece of me that was left behind as a child. The wonder and awe, the ability to build a world and share it—I had forgotten how much I truly enjoyed being a storyteller.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The Infernal Games is set in our world, where magic has been kept from the world at large by the Grand Enchantment: a powerful spell attributed to the Druids that creates the Mist, a dense fog that clouds the mind and conceals magic. The characters and setting imagine a world where all magic, all the gods, all the religions are real. They have just been concealed. This creates an underground society steeped in magic, from the Brother’s Three who sell information and black-market spell components in the farmer’s market to the nightclub operated by the Fae. Magic lurks everywhere in the world around us, just waiting to be discovered.

The central protagonist, Xlina, is the descendant of the Baku legend. A mythical creature from Japanese lore which consumes dreams. She is cursed to experience nightmares every night, but due to her father being a Druid her body can store nightmare energy giving her powerful magic. She struggles with isolation because of her gifts. In her darkest hour, when she is most vulnerable, a demon chooses her to be used as a weapon against a rival demon. This puts Xlina on a whirlwind collision course with all things supernatural, as she struggles to survive long enough to save her soul. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

The central theme of the series is the power of choice. With free will comes the power for each of us to choose, but for there to truly be free will, people must be allowed to make their own choices. Even if that means they make bad choices. Thus enters Oxivius, the lamia necromancer. He is a practitioner of the dark arts, a cannibal, literally everything Xlina was taught is evil in the world. He soon turns her preconceptions of good and evil on their head. Oxivius shows Xlina that despite her being marked by a demon and being condemned, the power to choose is still hers. That intent is everything. Xlina could choose to ignore her dreams and pursue a normal life. Oxivius must choose whether he is the monster everyone thinks he is or the man he knows himself to be. Even Amber comes to see that her life’s direction directly results from choosing between the role she has been expected to play and who she really is.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

This is a tough question because I feel like a proud father. I love all the characters. Each of them grows and changes. Each of them, with the help of the others, realizes their full potential. At the end of the day, Amber Sedgewick is one of my favorite characters. She originally started as an embodiment of the mean girl trope to act as a foil for Xlina on the human side of her life. I wanted to give Xlina conflicts that were more than magic and monsters. The one thing I had a load of experience in was having a school bully, after all. The original intent was for Amber to die pretty early on in the book, a tragic result of the magical world spilling into the mundane and something that would continually haunt Xlina. Emma, my oldest daughter, simply wouldn’t have it. She fell in love with the character and the dynamic between her and Xlina. Thus, Amber went from being a trope to one of the central characters of the series.

Amber’s evolution over the series is fun because she is suddenly thrust into the world of magic. When the illusion of her world shatters, she realizes that she is merely living the life she is expected to live, that much of what she has done and who she is as a person is a result of expectations placed on her by her father. She evolves from the mean girl trope to a complex character, with her own flaws and motivations.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

In youth, I had always envisioned myself writing fantasy. Sword- and sorcery-type swashbuckling adventures were my favorite reads. When I sat down to write The Infernal Games, I knew I needed to try something different. I had been watching Supernatural and had really loved the magic and monsters in the modern setting. I set out to read as many urban fantasy books as possible in a short time. I found a staggering breadth of styles and genres.

The only things I was certain of was that I wanted to stay away from vampires as the market felt heavily saturated. Instead, I went searching for more obscure lore and legend. That lead me to the Baku. I fell in love with the concept of a character with those abilities and Xlina began to take form.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

It took just under a year to write The Infernal Games. I spent a lot of time in editing purgatory. Revision after revision, trying to make it perfect. I spent a lot of time kicking things back and forth with the editor until finally I felt it was ready to be shared with the world.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Writing has been a journey of rediscovery for me. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is what makes me happy. If I could write for a living, then I would never have a day of “work” again in my life. The accountant in me, however, screams practical thoughts and goals.

My plan is to retire from the day-to-day work to be a full-time author by the age of 50 (a statement I have made to my employer as well). That gives me nine more years to build a following. My goal is to publish two books a year continuing with the world I have created. I am not looking to win any awards or be some literary giant, rather I would like to entertain as many people as possible.  

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am currently working on the Soulstealer Trilogy, which will go back and explore Oxivius’s origin story. The first book, Soulstealer Origins, is scheduled for release on November 1, 2022. It seems like a short window since I just released the final book in the Baku Trilogy on June 1, but I have been working on this backstory for two years. Oxivius has had his origin story fully fleshed out since I started generating the characters for The Infernal Games.

After I finish the Soulstealer trilogy, I plan on returning to the future and doing a subsequent trilogy which will pick up right after the end of the Baku Trilogy. Xlina and Amber have changed the world and I am eager to explore what that means.  

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

There is a certain draw of modern day fused with lore and legend. I love being able to pull apart monsters and magic from long ago and really bring them to life in the modern setting. I think there is a relatable element when mixing modern technology with magic. With that said, I do have story ideas for an immersive fantasy series and a dystopian sci-fi, but for the moment I am content still exploring this urban fantasy world I have created.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I have always enjoyed telling stories. My second-grade teacher helped me bind the first story I wrote into a little book, and I remember being so proud of what I had done. I attribute my love of books and reading to my Grandmother Rosie. She was a Polish immigrant, who never got the privilege of going to school or receiving an education. As an adult, it was something she placed so much value on. I never really understood that as a kid. She bought us Hooked on Phonics, and while my siblings were in school; she worked with us every day on reading and writing. At the time, I thought it was so unfair. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized the amazing gift she had given me. I entered kindergarten reading and writing. By the time I was in third grade, I was reading well above my grade level. It culminated in the first time I got in real trouble in school when I refused to read the class-assigned book.

As I got older, the bullying started and I found my escape in the pages of books. A book could take me anywhere. I could be anything. Most importantly, it was an escape from the one thing everyone around me seemed to dislike: me. Soon, reading wasn’t enough. I began crafting my own stories and my own worlds. By the time I entered high school I knew writing was my passion. I knew I wanted to share my worlds with other people, but time has a way of dulling our passions. I remember stopping. I remember the day I quit on the manuscript I was working on that I was certain would be my big break. My college ambitions had fizzled. My parents thought a degree in creative writing was a waste of money. My only friend in the world joined the military and left for boot camp. It was time for me to “grow up” and join the working world. I started at a printing company, in perhaps the most soul-sucking, boring job of my life. Shortly after, I decided factory life wasn’t for me and tried going to college on my own. I was accepted into a two-year school, for the accounting program, and I took my first steps on a road that would leave my passion dormant for the next twenty years of my life.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I still have a lot of responsibilities and a full-time job. I can’t complain as I have found more than my fair share of success. This means, however, that my writing is done at night and on weekends. I tend to devote large blocks on either Saturday or Sunday for writing. I turn on some background music and just let the magic happen. I spend a lot of time on my commute thinking about what I want to write or what is happening in the next chapter so that when the weekend comes, I am prepared to bring all those musings to life.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer my desktop; it’s just more comfortable for me. I tried a laptop and felt too cramped. I tried dictation, but my Maine accent is brutal for voice recognition. I also find I don’t speak like I write, so anything dictated tends to need serious editing.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

My all-time favorite author is R. A. Salvatore. I think he is the master of cinematic fight scenes. Picking one of his books to stand out as a favorite is near impossible. From his popular Forgotten Realms books to his DemonWars Saga, Salvatore has time and time again shown he can make loveable characters and memorable books that not just last as fond memories, but also change you as a reader.
Following that I really enjoyed Daughter of the Drow by Elaine Cunningham, so much in fact that my second daughter is named after the main character.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I stop writing. I find anything else to do. Go to the mall, go to the beach, anything. Writer’s block for me is a sign that I have spent too much time at the keyboard and not enough time out in the world. After an afternoon out and about, I usually find myself full of ideas. It could be for a character or a simple conversation, but the world around us is our inspiration. So when you are stuck, go immerse yourself in the wider world. Look at the stories playing out around you every day and before you know it, a quirk, a comment, or a moment becomes all the fuel you need.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t stop. The worst voice of all is the one in our heads telling us we are not good enough. That’s the secret, after all. We really don’t care what some stranger who says mean things to us thinks. After all, we might never even see them again. The reason their words hurt is often because they are affirming something negative we have said about ourselves with that little voice in our head.

When some stranger says “Your writing is terrible,” the pain comes not in the stranger’s words, but in how many times that little voice inside has said the same thing. It affirms our own internal narrative. So, change the narrative. Flip the script. You can do this. You can finish. Your story might not be everyone’s favorite, but it will be someone’s favorite. If you stop now, that someone will never get to experience your world, your characters.

We all need a world to escape to when this one becomes too much. Don’t let self-doubt take that escape away.

Thank you, author Reed Logan Westgate, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Infernal Games

The world you know is a lie…
It’s not that you have been duped, rather you are simply asleep. You didn’t ask for it; the forces of heaven and hell have kept you in a slumbering stupor. All around you, the awakened exist. Those individuals who know magic is real.
Xlina’s move to Portland, Maine, was supposed to be the start of a new life. A second chance. One that didn’t involve her magical-duty-obsessed druid father or her own legacy as a descendant of the Baku: an ancient creature that consumes nightmares. But when her court assigned social worker turns out to be a demon, Xlina finds herself drawn into a deadly game of survival with the stakes being her immortal soul.
If she can survive the Infernal Game, maybe she can redeem her enslaved soul. But survival means allying with the enigmatic necromancer Oxivius, who urges her to embrace her power instead of running from it. Steeped in the Dark Arts, Oxivius represents everything she has ever been told about evil. Will he be the key to her salvation or the road to eternal damnation?


You can find The Infernal Games here:
Goodreads | Amazon

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Tricky by Ron Dakron

Book Details:

Author: Ron Dakron
Release Date: 
12nd March 2022
Series:
Genre: Humour
Format: E-book 
Pages: 152 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
A certain, um, body part runs away from his owner. Wearing a hot-dog toy disguise, he clashes with warrior pigeons, suicidal hummingbirds, and griping squirrels. He is soon imprisoned in Male Re-education Kamp, wars with cynical plums, woos amorous cardiac valves, livers, and cupcakes, joins forces with hyper-testosterone Komodo Dragons, and is shanghaied by a femme pirate crew to help harpoon Mobo, the 90-foot moray eel who is the font of worldwide testosterone. Tricky is a savagely-funny trip into male delusion, sneaky body parts, repression, amorality and – what the hey – gigantor moray eels that stream flaming jizz.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Trial Show: Resistance Rises by Konstantina P. is an engaging and heady dystopian read that will pull you in right from the very beginning and keep you guessing until the end.

This book had so many interesting and unpredictable twists and turns that it kept me engaged the entire time! I loved the story as it was weaved intricately and plotted with an exceptional deftness that is rare to find in books these days. The characterization was very well done and made this book a very complex read. I loved the characters, especially those of Trent and Ava, and wanted to know everything about them and their lives in this amazingly crafted dystopian world.

The writing style of the author was good as it had a very nice flow. It made reading this book both a pleasant as well as a very quick experience for me, as a reader, and I always appreciate it. I would strongly recommend this book to all dystopian readers.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


ARC Review: Kai’s Healing Smiles by Vivi Anne Hunt

Book Details:

Author: Vivi Anne Hunt
Release Date: 
13th September 2022
Series:
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+
Format: E-book 
Pages: 201 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
Silas is mourning the loss of his wife. Every day, he is going through the motions and barely managing to keep the excruciating pain from overtaking his life. There is precisely one ray of sunshine in his days — Kai — the smiley, awkward barista at Starbucks. For some reason, Silas finds comfort being around Kai and soaks up as much light as this sweet boy could give him.

For the short time Kai has worked at Starbucks, he has secretly watched one man from afar, hoping that one day he would notice him back. He looks all mature, business-like, and always sad. One day Kai finally gets the chance to speak to him. And this is where their story begins.
Will Silas be able to let go of the past and start fresh? And will Kai be able to heal the gloomy man with his smiles?

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Kai’s Healing Smiles by Vivi Anne Hunt is a heart-warming romantic story that is full of emotional depth as well as character.

I liked this book from the start because, in spite of having started on a glum note, the author’s writing made this book an easy read and the character development kept me engaged. The plot kept developing well and soon I found myself not wanting to be pulled away from the story.

I liked the plot, the basic concept as well as its execution, the simple yet effective writing and the ups and downs the pacing added to the tension in the book. Overall, it is a lovely romance novel that I’d recommend to all romance genre fans especially readers who enjoy reading LGBTQ+ romance stories.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Guest Post: Cocktail Parties by Nick Gray

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Nick Gray, author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party to share a guest post.

About The Author

Nick Gray

Nick Gray is an entrepreneur and author living in Austin, Texas. He started and sold two successful companies: Flight Display Systems and Museum Hack. Nick is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, a step-by-step handbook that teaches you how to build big relationships by hosting small gatherings. Over 75,000 people have watched his TEDx talk about why he hates most museums. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and New York Magazine called him a host of “culturally significant parties.” 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tiktok



Cocktail Parties by Nick Gray

Most adults haven’t made a new friend in years. I moved to New York City and hardly knew anyone. But then I made new friends, and those friends helped me launch a multi-million dollar company.

How? And can anyone do this?

Instead of going to random bars or meet-ups to try to create new connections, I decided to go a different route. Instead of going to other peoples’ parties, I decided to bring the party to me.

What I discovered, through lots of trial and error, is that there’s a specific way to structure parties to make them easy and successful—a “formula,” if you will, that anyone can follow to make new friends.

Over the last ten years I’ve hosted hundreds of these small parties. Then I’ve spent the past few years writing this book and testing every single aspect of it with different people around the world to make sure it works.

My book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party is my formula to “hack” your social life by learning how to throw parties. I’ll show you how to easily host fun events in your own home.

Why parties?

Some people may think a party requires loud music, late nights, and tons of booze. But a party is simply where people get together and have a good time. There can be an explicit purpose such as playing board games, celebrating an event, or meeting new people. But the essence of a party is that you are there to enjoy yourself and to connect with others.

Combining partying and relationship-building may sound counterintuitive. But it works. I’ll show you how throwing small parties in a strategic way can be the easiest method to make new friends and even boost your career.

About the book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

You know that well-connected friend who only exists in the movies? The one who throws the best parties and can set up any introduction you need?

Everyone wants to know someone magical like this who brings people together. The secret is: you can be that person. You should be that person. The 2-Hour Cocktail Party will show you how.

Discover a simple party-hosting formula with step-by-step instructions that help you meet new people, strengthen your existing relationships, and make you the person everyone wants to know.

You’ll learn which days are the best to throw events (probably not the ones you think!) and what to say to the first people who arrive. Learn how to ensure your invitations get responses and your guests show up excited to mingle. Plus, get helpful pre-party checklists and a breakdown of activities to encourage new connections.

With The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, you’ll make new friends, boost your career, and leave everyone asking. “When’s your next party?”


About The Book

About the book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

You know that well-connected friend who only exists in the movies? The one who throws the best parties and can set up any introduction you need?

Everyone wants to know someone magical like this who brings people together. The secret is: you can be that person. You should be that person. The 2-Hour Cocktail Party will show you how.

Discover a simple formula with step-by-step instructions to host parties that help you meet new people, strengthen your existing relationships, and make you the person everyone wants to know.

You’ll learn which days are the best (probably not the ones you think!) and what to say to the first people who arrive. Read how to ensure your invitations get responses and your guests show up excited to mingle. Plus, get helpful pre-party checklists and a breakdown of activities to encourage new connections.With The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, you’ll make new friends, boost your career, and leave everyone asking, “When’s your next party?”

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Book Website | Amazon | Read more


If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com