Thursday, August 30, 2012

Faelorehn Poster for the Orange County Children's Book Festival!

In one short month, I'll be heading down to Costa Mesa, California for the Orange County Children's Book Festival.  I have my paperback books ordered and I'm working on getting some bookmarks and other items done, but one thing I'd like to bring along is a poster for Faelorehn.  I've been spending the last few weeks working here and there on a design that I hope will capture the interest of potential new readers.
This is a new book festival for me, so hopefully I'll be prepared.  If not, I'll be sure to take lots of notes for next time.  I'm also hoping that some of you will be able to come by and visit if you live in the area or are visiting.  Now, without further ado, here is the final poster for Faelorehn (Sorry, this was the largest image I could upload that didn't overlap into my side margins :P).  Feel free to comment - there is still time to make corrections/improvements ;).
-J.E. Johnson


Oescienne Fan Art!

Although I prefer to write these days in my spare time, I originally studied to be an artist.  Some of you are already aware of this (I illustrated the pictures on the covers of my Oescienne books, and I have a separate page for my other sketches and drawings and such, including the maps of my imagined worlds and those imagined by others).

Regardless of the fact that I do most of my own work and I have my own illustrations, I love to see how my readers picture my characters and settings.  Right now I don't get a lot of fan art (or fan fiction), but just the other day I received some artwork from one of my readers, Annwyn.  She told me that after reading my Oescienne books, she was inspired to draw a picture of Jahrra and Jaax.  I was so pleased to get the image and I'd like to share it here with everyone.

I should also mention that Annwyn's artwork has prompted me to create a fan artwork page.  If you feel inspired to illustrate the characters or settings of my stories, and you feel comfortable sharing it, please send me an email at and I'd be happy to add it to my collection.  Again, thank you Annwyn for your wonderful work and I hope to see more from you and others!

-J.E. Johnson

Jahrra and Jaax by Annwyn

Monday, August 27, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Ann Swann

1.  Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:  

What would you do if a phantom needed your help?  Would you run screaming into the night, or would you enlist the aid of your best friend and wade right into the ghostly fray? 

Find out what happens when you read THE PHANTOM PILOT.

2.  Who is your ideal reading audience and why should they read your book?

Anyone from 10 to 100.  It isn’t too scary for the younger end of YA, but since it is set in the 1960s, baby boomers enjoy it, too. (according to the reviews)

3.  How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

My editor made some suggestions.  I was just going to call it Stevie-girl!

4.  Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Oh, I think Stevie and Jase are about equal.  One is as neurotic as the other.  But for names, I like Jelly Wardlow…he’s just a bare mention.

5.  How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

The shadow man is my least favorite.  He’s the one who caused … oops, no spoiler here!

6.  If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why? 

I would have made it longer because it is only novella length, thus, only in ebook form.  However, my publisher surprised me and is including it in the print version of Book Two, The Phantom Student!  So you’ll get two books in one.

7.  Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series: 

I think the fun (or funniest) fact is that the setting is based on a fictionalized version of my hometown when I was a child.  We had the requisite haunted house, too.

8.  What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike? 

I think they are similar to the old mystery stories I grew up with…The Secret at the Lake, or The Hidden Room, things like that.  The setting is a big part of the story, as is the relationships between the characters.

9.  Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? 

I can wiggle my ears!  And carry a tune fairly well. 

10.  How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Here is my Amazon central page: and here is my blog  That’s where you will find snippets of upcoming releases as well as free short stories and random thoughts.

11.  What can we expect from you in the future? 

The Phantom Student will be out in late September.  It is published by Cool Well Press.  They are also publishing a couple of my YA shorts in the anthology Campfire Tales due out in October.  Look for Skeleton Rock and The Blister Bear.  I also have a Contemporary Romance coming out at the same time.  The title of it is All For Love and it will be published by 5 Prince Publishing.

12.  What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful? 

Tell everyone about it, blog about it, and leave me a review on Amazon.  Also feel free to comment on my blog or FB page and let me know how they feel!

13.  Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published? 

Yes!  Get a few trusted beta readers to help with editing before you ever send it to a publisher.  Make sure it is as close to perfect as possible, then just research to find out which agent or publisher looks for your genre and start contacting.  Twitter is wonderful for finding small press publishers.

14.  Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Speaking of Twitter, follow me @ann_swann  I love to chat.

15.  And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

Prologue from The Phantom Pilot

It was the late 60s. The Beatles had washed across America like a British tsunami, Vietnam was a grainy, green and black dose of unreality on the evening news, a bunch of hippies had taken over San Francisco, and there was a heck of a rainstorm pouring down on Woodstock. But I didn’t know all that then.

I was a little bit lost, looking for something. I swear I didn’t go looking for a ghost…well, okay, maybe I did. But I didn’t expect to find one. Heck, I was just a kid. I didn’t expect much of anything.

Chapter One

I was twelve years old, standing knock-kneed in pigtails and ripped denim in front of a haunted house, trying to dig up enough courage to go inside. But I was terrified. I’d read the books and I’d seen the movies on Shock Theater. No matter what, you don’t go inside the spooky old house. No matter who dares you, no matter what lures you. You do not go in.

Hand trembling, I opened the door.

Thank you Ann for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Need Some Suggestions for Cade's POV Stories . . .

Hello Everyone,
     As most of you know, I'm in the process of writing the third book of the Otherworld Trilogy, Luathara.  I've been getting email from readers asking when it will be available, and all I can tell you is that my goal is November 1st.  I'll do my best to make sure the ebook is released on that date, but I can't promise any guarantees.  My work schedule is about to get busier and, as always, my Muse has decided to drop another book series idea in my lap at the most inopportune time (while I'm trying to finish two others :P), so I've got that distraction as well.
     I also mentioned before that I'm working on a short story collection of scenes from Faelorehn told from Cade's point of view, and those are already underway.  However, I'm hoping to continue the trend and write some scenes from Dolmarehn as well.  I've got a few ideas already, but I thought it would be fun to open it up to my readers to see what they have to say.
     So, does anyone have any suggestions on which scenes from Dolmarehn you'd like to read form Cade's point of view?  If there were any situations where you just found yourself dying to know what Cade was thinking, let me know.  Maybe he and I can sit down for a little chat and he can pour out his soul to me (believe me, my characters don't always talk to me about everything, but Cade seems like a pretty reasonable guy ;)).  There are two scenes I know I want to include for sure (and nope, I'm not spilling which scenes . . . yet :)), but I wouldn't mind a few more, so please, leave a comment below and let me know what you'd like to hear.  For now, I'll do my best to complete Luathara in a timely fashion. 
-J.E. Johnson
p.s. As an extra bonus (and hopefully to help alleviate some of the eagerness for the next Otherworld installment ;)), I'm including the cover art for Cade's novella, Ehriad.  When Ehriad is closer to being finished, I'll be sure to post an excerpt.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Mary Ann Bernal

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

“The Briton and the Dane” trilogy
Historical Fiction

Viking terror, brutal force

2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Historical Fiction fans interested in the Dark Ages during the Viking expansion when Alfred the Great reigned. The story incorporates remnants of Roman Britain, which sets the trilogy apart from the usual Dark Ages references.

3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

Initially there were two working titles:  Erik, the Danish Viking and Erik & Gwyneth, which seemed lame, especially since the story quickly evolved into a major saga with a “cast of thousands.”  Since God is my muse, He provides suggestions in the middle of the night, and that is how “The Briton and the Dane” title came into being.  Of course I wrote it down immediately lest it disappeared by morning, and because I keep a writing pad in the kitchen, I was able to read what I had written when I was wide awake.

4. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Erik has been in my head for over twenty years, demanding his story, which was finally published in 2010, but his character is more Hollywoodesque, a larger than life character who is excitingly adventurous, a worldly warrior that women wished to tame.  While I love Erik dearly, I must confess David is my favorite character.  I will not be specific with examples (no spoilers) but suffice it to say his priorities are where they should be with family values.  In today’s day and age, he would be the dependable person who could be counted on no matter the issue.  Some might say that I set the bar too high with David’s character, but then would he not be a person to emulate?   I have heard from many fans that they wished they had a David in their life, so I did “hit the nail on the head” so to speak with my portrayal of this character.

5. How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

This is a difficult question because I really do not have a least favorite.  Yes there are villains you love to hate, but once you discover the reason they behave like they do, you tend to sympathize with their plight.  However, if I must choose, I would pick King Guthrum.  Again I will not be specific (no spoilers) but suffice it to say his priorities differ from those of David.   In modern terminology, he chooses career over family, and his decision or lack thereof, is the catalyst behind the outcome of the second book.

6. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

There is one change that I was fortunate to make with the publication of the special edition of the first novel. I initially used archaic verbiage because I wanted to transport the reader back in time.  However, it proved very difficult for the modern reader, even though “test readers” stated it was easy to read once you got into the lingo.  The second and third novels reflect this change.

7. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

What I found exciting was to finally visit the places I had written about.  I spent two weeks in East Anglia where I came upon West Stow, a well preserved Anglo-Saxon village where “Born of Hope” was filmed.  I also discovered, quite by chance, the Thetford Priory ruins, which was featured on Ghostbusters International.  The paranormal investigators inspected the haunted priory in 1996.  How cool is that!  Unfortunately, I did not meet up with any ghosts when I visited the ruins.

8. What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

“Viking Warrior” by Judson Roberts focuses on the Danish Viking invasion of Frankia in 845.  His epic adventure also includes treachery and vengeance, which makes for a great story.

9. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I have taken Medieval Dance classes and did a demonstration with my fellow dancers from the Barony of the Lonely Tower at a Ren Faire held at the James Arthur Vineyards in Raymond, NE. The Barony is located in the Kingdom of Calontir, a division of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

10. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Novels published in association with The Literary Underground

You can view the book trailer here:

And purchase the books here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

11. What can we expect from you in the future?

“The Briton and the Dane:  Concordia” will be available early 2013.

12. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

The following references pertain to the book page listed on  Reviews and ratings are always appreciated.  For readers not comfortable with writing a review, they could check “like” which appears right after the ratings/review  line, beneath the author/illustrator names.  Checking the boxes next to the tags under the Tags Customers Associate with this product is very helpful, and if you have a tag that is not listed, by all means add it.  Customer discussions is another way to generate interest, if not online then talking to friends - passion about any story generates interest.  Word of mouth still works for getting a story “out there.”

13. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Keep writing and never give up.  If going the conventional route is not working for you, then consider self-publishing - its not as hard as it sounds.  Every successful author has had his/her share of rejections and negative reviews, so you are in good company.  If you have a story to share, tell it.  Persevere and never, ever quit.

14. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

It has been a pleasure to be a guest on your blog.  It is always fun to humanize an author.  Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and for a fun time.

15. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

The Briton and the Dane:  Birthright

Inga and the boys waved at the guards who stood atop the gatehouse when they left the compound. They would arrive at the market well before the midday heat and welcomed the gentle breeze as they walked the dusty road.

The town was bustling by the time they reached the outskirts. The boys held Inga’s hand while she followed the winding street that led to Dalla’s dwelling. James and John stared at the various fruits and vegetables that were carefully placed upon the open carts. They pointed impatiently to their favorite foods and pleaded with Inga to permit them to visit the stalls. Flies buzzed around the hanging carcasses of newly slaughtered pigs, which were ultimately quartered and sold.

Dalla waved excitedly when the brothers broke free from Inga’s grasp and ran to the top of the hill. She embraced the lively children and laughed when they struggled to set themselves free. James and John shrieked when they saw Loki standing in the doorway with his hands behind his back.

“Have you the soldiers?” Both boys asked. “Let us see!”

Loki held his arms above their heads as the boys sought to grasp the ivory figures that were just out of their reach.

“Loki!” Dalla shouted. “Do not tease them!”

“As you wish dear sister,” he replied just as the boys grabbed their precious gift.

Dalla embraced Inga and kissed her cheek before they entered the house. Loki poured ale and wine while Dalla placed a bowl of fruit upon the table.

Inga was delighted when Loki surprised her with a small token and quickly opened the silk pouch that contained an exquisitely-carved bone hair pin.

“This is lovely,” she whispered. “There are no words.”

“It pleases you then?” Loki asked as he held her hand and looked into her eyes.

“Aye,” she blushed as she averted his gaze.

Dalla led Inga to the table and offered her a goblet. She sipped the wine and laughed at the boys’ excitement when Loki surprised them with a superb wooden replica of an ancient Roman chariot.

“The wheels move!” John shouted excitedly when he rolled the toy across the bench.

“You are most generous,” Inga said as she attempted to stand.

Loki came to her rescue after she leaned unsteadily against the table.

“I fear that I am not well,” Inga whispered just before she lost consciousness and fell into his arms.

Loki carried her outside and placed her into the back of a cart. The boys were busy playing and paid no heed to their elders.

“James and John, are you parched?” Dalla smiled when she handed them half-filled goblets.

The boys eagerly drank the sweet wine, emptied their cups in one swallow, and were soon soundly sleeping beside their beloved Inga.
Dalla and Loki rode unhurriedly through the busy streets when they left the market town and headed east.


Helga crossed the inner bailey and headed towards her family’s private quarters.  The sun would soon set and the main gate closed for the night. She was not able to find Inga and the boys and silently prayed that they were already in their chambers. She shouted their names while she frantically searched the empty dwelling and hurriedly ran to the gatehouse just as the guards were about to shut the gate.

“Inga and the children are not back,” Helga yelled while she climbed the stairs.  “Do you see them on the main road?”

Helga listened halfheartedly while the soldiers reminded her that the scouting party had already returned and would not set out again until first light. She pushed the men aside as she leaned over the wall and suppressed the urge to scream when she saw the deserted countryside.

Helga held back the tears while she ran to find David who would still be in the great hall conferring with his advisors. She hurried through the open door and was out of breath by the time she approached her husband.

“The boys are not in their chambers!” Helga breathlessly exclaimed.
David quickly rushed to his wife’s side and held her in his arms.

“You are trembling,” David whispered, “why are you troubled?”

“Inga has not returned with the boys,” Helga sobbed.

David shouted for his men to bring the horses and requested that Brother Aidan be found to comfort his wife.

It did not take long for David and his men to reach the market town; the soldiers searched the individual dwellings while David spoke with the local merchants. As dusk became night, the men continued their search but were unable to discover Inga and the children’s whereabouts.

Brother Aidan and Helga watched from the gatehouse as David and his men galloped towards the main gate.

“David!” Helga yelled as she frantically hurried to meet her husband. “I am fearful.”

“There is mischief,” David told her.

“What do you mean?” Helga asked between sobs.

“Dalla and Loki are not known,” David whispered. “Our children have been taken.”


Thank you Mary Ann for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

Monday, August 13, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Chris Rakunas

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

Tears for the Mountain is a non-fiction about a medical mission trip to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.  A portion of the proceeds benefit the orphanage where the story is based.

2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

The audience is meant to be the general adult public.  The reason that the book is interesting is that it chronicles one of the medical mission trips to the island.  I wrote the book to show what mission work is really like, and I tried to not glamorize it or do anything other than give the reader a feeling for what it was like to be there on the ground.  Not all of the stories in it are heart-breaking.  There is hope and humor in it as well.

3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

The title comes from two things.  First is something that Miriam Frederick, the Mother Teresa of Haiti, said to me.  We were flying to Pestel, which is a remote village on the end of the southern tip of the island, and it is a very mountainous region.  I mean the mountains just shoot up from the ocean, forming some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen.  As we were landing, she said to me that the word Haiti means mountain.  Later, we were driving through Port-au-Prince and I saw a piece of graffiti on a wall.  It was a map of Haiti with an eye in the center and a tear coming out.  I took a photograph of it, and that photo ended up being the cover art for the book.

4. Tell us a little bit about your cover art.  Who designed it?  Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

Ken Tupper, the publisher at Divertir, really did all the design work for the cover.  The photograph is the one I mentioned above, and it really describes the feeling of everyone in the entire country at the time. It was very difficult, not only for those who had lost family members or been injured, but for anyone just to see an entire nation in ruins.  The colors are the colors of the Haitian flag.  We wanted to have a clean and simple design that let people know that the book was about Haiti and what had just happened there.

5.  Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

It’s a toss-up for me between Miriam Frederick and Dr. Stephen Schroering.  Miriam really is the Mother Teresa of Haiti, and just to be in her presence is to be near someone special.  She has been in Haiti since Reagan was president, and I have no idea how many children she has saved.  When she walks through the refugee camps and slums, she touches and hugs every child and mother that she sees.  It’s just amazing to see her in action.

Dr. Schroering is an orthopedic surgeon who volunteers his time down there.  Many US doctors rely on complex lab and radiology tests to treat their patients, but Dr. Schroering makes the best with what he has there.  I never once heard him complain that he didn’t have his regular tools.  The only thing he complained about was not being able to do more to help.  He’s a breath of fresh air in the medical community.

6. How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

Ooooh, that’s a tough one.  There were many people I met in Haiti who were there to ‘assess the situation.’  That’s what they said they were doing when I asked them.  They weren’t doing anything but watching.  I had a specific task to accomplish, which was delivering supplies to hospitals, and I thought it was really disgusting that someone would come to a disaster site, see all the pain and suffering, and not do anything but look.  It was as though they were on a suffering safari.

7. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

I would have included pictures in the book.  When I tell people that Port-au-Prince was reduced to rubble, I think that they think I’m exaggerating.  But every time I show people the pictures, they are taken aback.  It’s really hard to put both the natural beauty of Haiti and the extent of the damage into words.

8. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

When the book was first released, it was the #1 selling Social Policy book on  I was really proud of that fact.

9. What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

Paul Farmer, the UN Special Envoy to Haiti wrote a book about his experience on the ground, and it’s really good.  (It’s hard to beat his work)  The difference between the two is that he is a Harvard professor, a high-up UN member, and a physician.  I’m just a regular Joe who got caught up in the event, so our perspectives are quite different.

10. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

When I’m not writing, I like to play guitar, scuba dive, and cook.  But probably my strangest talent is my ability to laugh and have a good time through anything.  I’ve been kidnapped in Eastern Europe; accidentally taken a flight to Seoul, Korea; and dodged the police in rural Mongolia.  I always seem to have a blast, no matter how strange things turn out.

11. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

The best way is to go to  I post regularly there, but only when I have important events to report.

12. What can we expect from you in the future?

I have another book with Divertir Publishing coming out this summer.  It’s fiction, and it’s called The 8th Doll.  The book is a fast paced action adventure story that ties together the Mayan apocalyptic prophecy, facts about the architecture and culture of the Mayans, and a murder mystery.  It is the first of a 4 book series, and I have just finished the follow up, The Eye of Siam (although I don’t have a release date for that yet).

13. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Please tell all of your friends about Tears for the Mountain.  I find that posting on Facebook and other social media sites really helps.  I am always appreciative of reviews on Goodreads or Amazon as well.  If you have a hard time explaining why the book is so powerful, you can also share the promotional video with friends and let the pictures do the talking for you.

14. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Write.  That’s it.  More people spend time talking about writing or thinking about writing than anything else.  Just be disciplined and dedicate time to your writing.  Let me put it to you this way: when you’re sitting on your deathbed, do you want to say, “Man, I’m really glad I watched all those American Idol episodes!” or “Man, I’m really glad I got to tell the story I wanted the whole world to read!”? 

15. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I am always very thankful when fans send me notes about the book.  I’m sure Stephen King and Suzanne Collins get tired from hearing from their fans, but I never do.  I am very appreciative of everyone who reads TFTM.  If you want to share the story with your friends, you can send them either of these videos to explain:

16. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

Here are the passages that cover us going from the airport to the orphanage on the first night.  This really captures the way the entire trip was: two emotions that seem totally wrong hitting you back-to-back.

As the jeep pulled away from the airport, Miriam told me to sit in the front with her. It was hot enough that I had to roll down the window, which just added to my paranoia. Were we going to drive through the city safely? Would we be attacked, four people in the city in a nice jeep? My hand was on my knife, and my heart was jumping through my chest.

Instead of finding people, though, I found that Port-au-Prince was deserted that night. We drove down the main thoroughfare without seeing anyone else. There were no vehicles. There were no pedestrians. There was just the smell of smoke in the air and complete blackness around us, since there were no street lights to light our path.

The walls of the compounds we passed whizzed by, occasionally giving me a glimpse of what was inside. One of them had an eerie, flickering yellow glow, two soldiers with machine guns and a Humvee inside. Another had some sort of factory. A third housed unfinished construction. But, for the most part, there was nothing to see on the way to the orphanage.

After a few roundabouts, we turned onto another main road. Theodore told me that this road went all the way from the capital out to the outskirts and was meant to be the start of a highway that would reach the end of the island, but it just was never finished.

Along the sides were shops with colorful paint jobs. The words in Creole were unknown to me, but some of the pictures made it obvious. Still, there were no people on the road, just the smell of smoke. It reminded me of India, a third world country that just dealt with its own problems in a way that was different from how we did. Instead of letting trash pile up, there were some burning trash heaps on the side of the road. Instead of flowing water and sewers there were mystery puddles in the gutters.

I felt better knowing that there were no people to face. It sounds terrible, but at that moment I was not looking to help someone else; I was just looking to get where I needed to be safely. The fear of the unknown was gripping me hard.

Miriam started to pull the jeep over, and I noticed a small road hidden between two shops. In our way was a pile of tires, two levels high, with giant rocks in the middle of each tire. A face appeared from the shadows and approached our jeep. Theodore stuck his head out the rear window and spoke with the man. After a moment or two, the man removed some of the tires and rocks and let us in.

“He is protecting the neighborhood tonight,” Miriam said. “No one in Haiti wants to sleep inside anymore, so they are all sleeping in the streets. He is making sure that no one but people who should be here get in.”

As the jeep started down the bumpy dirt and rock road, I looked to the sides. There were makeshift shanties and shacks, with towels, sheets of plastic and plain sheets hanging down from the sticks and PVC pipes that were the frames.

“Here is where most of the people are living,” Miriam said.

Some of the people were sitting in white plastic chairs, the type of cheap patio furniture a bachelor would have in his home. But for these people, that was the extent of their homes. There were mothers holding babies, small children peering out through the corners of the shacks, and some people just stretched out on the ground, their bodies turned away from the road.

The dirt path went on and on.

Miriam stopped once. “Here,” she said, pointing to the left. “Here, Chris. This was a school.” I squinted at the gate and saw some writing in Creole. I could make out the words Notre Dame, and the picture of the cross made it evident that it was a Catholic school. “There were five priests and about 80 children inside when the earthquake hit.”

“What happened to them, Miriam?” Steve asked. I didn’t want to hear the answer, since we all already knew what it was, but she said it anyway.

“All of them died.”

We continued to pass people sleeping in shanties until, finally, Miriam stopped in the middle of the road.

“Here we are,” she said.

My eyes followed Miriam’s motion to my right as she said, “That’s the main building of the orphanage.” At first, I could not even see the orphanage because there was a forest on my immediate right. The road stopped and abutted a short concrete wall, maybe only 2 feet high. There was a lot, perhaps 30 feet by 200 feet, which had short trees and shrubs in it. There was no lighting and no sounds except the running of the jeep’s engine.

“You can see the top part there, where the roof collapsed in the earthquake,” Miriam said. My eyes adjusted, and I could finally see the building. It reminded me of the old Firestone factory that had been abandoned in Los Angeles—a few stories tall, but very, very long and with many broken windows. It was dark inside, and I saw no movement around it.

“Unfortunately, with the roads being what they are, we can’t actually drive all the way up to the main gate, but it’s just a short walk through the trees. Then there’s a small fence on the other side to hop over.” I looked back at Miriam, and she smiled apologetically. “It won’t be hard for you, dear.”

I looked at all the trees between here and there, all of the dark places for someone—or something—to hide. Instinctively, my hand gripped tighter on my knife, and my heart kept going a little bit faster. The cool breeze that had been coming off the mountain suddenly stopped, and the air in the jeep was a little bit hotter. I became aware of the beads of sweat running down my back, and the taste of the dirt and grit in my teeth.

The forest between me and the orphanage was only 60 or 70 feet long, but the distance started growing in my mind. How many trees had someone hiding behind them? How many holes were in the ground? How many homeless people were tucked up under a tree, people that I was about to step clumsily on in the middle of the night? Maybe they had nothing, but possibly a machete or—

As I calculated the odds, I looked back at Miriam and remained silent. After an agonizing silence, she broke out laughing, put her hand on my arm, and said, “Gotcha!”

Everyone else in the jeep started laughing, and I realized, very thankfully, that they were just messing with me.

“Did we get you? Did we get you?” Dr. Schroering asked.

Miriam smiled and said, “I couldn’t help it. Welcome to Haiti. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”

“Well,” I said, “as soon as we get in, I’d like to change my shorts if you don’t mind.” Everyone laughed as the jeep pulled forward, passing more shanties with people trying to sleep around them. When we reached the end of the street, we turned left, and off in the distance I could see a great gate ahead of us.

When we finally pulled up to the 20 foot tall metal gate, I heard some rustling behind it. Someone from the guard tower climbed down and started to open it. It was as though we were medieval knights coming home to the castle and the portcullis and drawbridge were being opened for us. The jeep slowly rolled in and the three men, shotguns slung over their backs, nodded to the jeep as we entered the orphanage.

Thank you Chris for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Have a Free Ebook on Me!

Greetings readers, fellow authors and everyone in between,

As some of you might know, I work in the education system and my long, lazy days of free writing will soon be coming to an end.  Don't fret, however, for I still plan on writing (heck, I'd go crazy if I didn't!), but my books may be a little more slow in the making.  Now, the purpose of this post isn't to complain about my vacation coming to an end, or to make excuses for not getting my books and stories out as quickly as I would like, but to celebrate my newest trilogy and its current success (and also to give out some free ebooks to those who might be on a tight budget this summer ;)).

First of all, I'd like to mention that the ebook version of Faelorehn is doing incredibly well on right now and I can't be more pleased, nor can I begin to express my gratitude towards those of you who have taken part in adding to Faelorehn's current success.  Thanks to your support (perhaps you wrote a review, told a friend about the book once you were done, or simply sent me a message letting me know you enjoyed the book), Faelorehn is finding more and more new readers every day.  I cannot thank you enough, but I can also inform you that this wouldn't have happened without you, the dedicated readers :).

Secondly, I'm happy to announce the ebook version of Dolmarehn is now available and is also showing promise, even after having been published for only a week.  I've already received wonderful comments and messages from readers, and I'd like to extend my thanks to those who have already written reviews and sent me emails.  Your encouragement helps cheer me on during those mornings when my Muse feels like sleeping in ;).

Finally, in order to show my appreciation and to celebrate what I consider a good start with the Otherworld Trilogy (and since the new school year is about to start for all of you who are still in school or who might work at one), I'd like to offer the digital version of Faelorehn for FREE from for the next two weeks, and Dolmarehn for 50% off.  Hopefully, we can all get one more good read in before the summer comes to a close.  So please, tell your friends and family if you think they would be interested in the Otherworld Trilogy, because the coupons will expire on August 24, 2012.  Thank you and as always, happy reading!

-J.E. Johnson

*** Get your FREE digital copy of Faelorehn - Book One of the Otherworld Trilogy, from ***
And upon checkout, apply this coupon code: KC64X

*** Get your digital copy of Dolmarehn - Book Two of the Otherworld Trilogy for 50% off, from ***
And upon checkout, apply this coupon code: UD92E

If you'd like to learn more about these books, visit The Otherworld Trilogy page on this site.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

Monday, August 6, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with R.M. Putnam

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and the tagline:

Destiny’s Warriors Pure Evil the third book in the series, is a tale of betrayal and abduction forced by the Lord of Greed. A trek through ancient Persia to rescue loved ones is met with peril at every turn. The heroes encounter slavery, thieving murderous nomads and treacherous terrain as they make their way to Hades then home to the Underworld.

An effort to start anew fails when the Cannibalistic Baalites of Altair make war with murderous vengeful hearts. Magic, myth and mayhem of colossal proportions makes this fantasy-adventure cross genres with pure horror. Will the Baalites take down Hades and the Underworld? Madness takes the mind of man and god as atrocities make blood run cold. Pure Evil is a story like no other, a war like no other as the heroes face horror like no other.

2. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

For me, the title of a book is the hardest to create. I never even think of a title until I have finished the book. Giving it much thought I realized my tale was about evil at its worse, thereby my title is Pure Evil.

3. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

My favorite character is Finn MacCumhal (Finn McCool) he is a legendary person from ancient Ireland. I found the folklore about him fascinating but in my story, I make him my own character only brushing on his legend. Inspired by Finn, I create his fictional son, Lugh MacCumhal of which I make him an even bigger legend. Lugh is an impulsive man who likes to live on the edge completely ruled by his emotions.

4. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

This indeed is a hard question, all my characters even the minor ones are like my children… how can I even think one is less than the other.

5. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

I killed a character too soon in the series. Shovar the Lord of Death was something I should have given more thought to before I wrote in his death then published it. As I look back, he was one of my most interesting characters and now I have lost the opportunity to use him in so many ways.

6. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

The beginnings of a story for me pop up in the most unlikely places. I see or hear something and then go into my, “What if” mode. As for writing fantasy that was a complete accident because, my first love was Science Fiction.

I went back to college when I was 39 years old. That first semester, sitting in my history class the instructor assigned the class to write a paper on an American Holiday, its origin and so forth. Well, it was the first week of October and so I thought of Halloween. Off to the library I went to do research and there I became mesmerized in ancient history, mythology and folklore.

My research took a few weeks as my study into history opened up to Pre-Christian times back to Paganism where Halloween originated. As I read the information about Celtic history and folklore, my “What If” mode went into high gear.

The paper I finally turned in went from fact to fiction. My instructor gave me a C- a passing grade for all the work and effort I put into the paper but told me Halloween is NOT an American Holiday. I should have written about Thanksgiving, Independence day or Veteran’s Day etc. I was disappointed with the grade until he told me that he loved my paper and that I should complete the story for publication. That was all the encouragement I needed as I embarked into writing my fantasy novel that grew into ten books in the series over the following seventeen years.

Obsessed with my story building fermenting in my mind I dedicated every free moment to writing. I was never without my notebook. I wrote my first story “Destiny’s Warriors The Beginning” long hand during fifteen minutes breaks at work and during my lunch hour. Often I would wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and quickly took to writing in my notebook.

Fearing failure and embarrassment for pursuing a dream that might never come true, I became a closet writer keeping my literary ambitions a secret from everyone I knew except my sons. It took many years of constant dedication reading and rereading, revision after revision but I made the dream come true. Never did I imagine I would write fantasy but there you have it. You never know when a story is about to be born or where it will take you and that is the wonderment and joy of being a writer.

One last word, my series is for mature readers due to adult subject matter and violence.

7. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I make Medieval robes and sell them off my website. At first, I fashioned my robes from the ones worn by my characters then went to a more basic style, which helped me to be more productive. Here is a picture of an Indie movie of which I made the robes. Very exciting for me I even got a credit in the movie.

8. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Website email address:

9. What can we expect from you in the future?

In 2012, my 4th book in my series will be released, titled “Destiny’s Warriors the Black Shadow of Death”. Every year I will release the next book until I reach the final book "Destiny’s Warriors Evil’s Glory, the 10th book in the series."

10. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

My message to aspiring writers is that you can succeed if you persevere and not let obstacles or rejection affect you. It might take a while but you can do it. I also recommend that you learn every aspect of preparing your novel for publication. Try to get 3 or 4 proofreaders and most important if you can afford it, an editor. If money is a problem, go to your local college and ask an English teacher if she/he can recommend a student to edit your book for a small fee or even for an extra credit grade. Please be sure to give your editor a special note of thanks in your credits. Kindle, Smashwords and CreateSpace has made it easy and fun to publish your books. All you need is a photograph with CreateSpace templates to create a fantastic cover. Google “how to format your book for Kindle, or Smashwords or CreateSpace and save yourself a ton of money. If you can create a story, you can easily learn how to do the formatting for submission. It really is simple and once you have done it, you will see that nothing can stop you from future projects.

11. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Visit my website for autographed copies of my Destiny’s Warriors Series, and as always, I include a DW bookmark with every book. Do you have a costumed event coming up? Browse through my collection of Medieval robes, each custom sized to length. Mention Jenna’s name in your email to me and get a 10% discount.

12. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

* Warning, Pure Evil is for mature readers due to adult subject matter and extreme violence.*

Excerpt for Destiny’s Warriors Pure Evil:

Ben Kedar Hakeem sat in council with his advisors and exalted wizards. The topic was resources that were quickly diminishing. “We must find a way out of Altair! Surely, there are more openings than what we previously used. Samhain cursed the way out to Persia and the God of Hades sealed the way out to the north and into the Land of Hades. After all these years, I find it astounding that none of you, even with magic cannot find a way out! We have depleted the population by over half! We must have meat . . .  fresh meat! I am tired of feeding on the old to spare the young for breeding. The old are nothing more than shoe leather. The next thing you know I’ll have to order my pets for slaughter!”

Ben Kedar looked down at the one-time warrior who sat naked on his knees like a loyal dog beside his master. Stripped of his dignity and birth name, Ben Kedar called him Marid, which means rebellious. Once a warrior of Hades in high standing, now his spirit broken, he was Ben Kedar’s pet, complete with collar and leash, naked and only allowed to walk on all fours for his master. Nights passed sexually entertaining his master with perversions of the extreme. Ben Kedar stroked Marid’s hair, thinking he might just have to sacrifice his prize pet to the butcher for food. He remembered how long the struggle was to train Marid, who resisted more than most with great rebellion. Now, to have him so well trained it seemed a waste to slaughter him.

Looking around Ben Kedar admired the women chained to the alcoves, naked and posed as part of the decor. His mouth watered at the thought of tasting their blood or savoring the delicious taste of their flesh.

Zafir, a high wizard of Hakeem’s court stepped up and bowed his head as he asked, “My Lord, your permission to speak?”

With a wave of his hand, Ben Kedar gestured for the wizard to continue, “There are many ways out of Altair. However, The Great Samhain did more than curse the land bridge into Persia; he clouded all openings with powerful magic. It took many years to find the opening we previously used, which is now sealed. My lord, we can feed on animals . . .  human flesh is not the only way for us to survive.”

Wide-eyed, Ben Kedar stood up in outrage, “You want me to feed on animals like a common peasant! Are you insane, man? I need human blood . . .  human meat from young women and tender sweet infants . . .  how dare you . . .”

The door suddenly burst open as Prince Mukhtar shouted out, “This man can help us!” Mukhtar shoved the man that accompanied him and repeated, “This man can help us. He knows a way out.”
Thank you R.M. for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at