Monday, August 26, 2013

Author Spotlight: Interview with Delin Colón

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

I currently have a two non-fiction/biography/memoir companion books published about Rasputin. The most recent, Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary by Aron Simanovitch, translated and annotated by me (Delin Colón), is the English translation of the memoirs of my great-great uncle who was secretary and friend to Grigory Rasputin for a decade.

My earlier book, Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History, is the result of my fifteen years of researching sources who could substantiate Simanovitch’s claims of Rasputin’s aid to and advocacy for minorities, especially the oppressed Jews, as well as his account of Rasputin’s progressive and egalitarian ideas for social reform that caused the nobility to detest him.

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

There are numerous groups of people interested in Russian history, Jewish history, and those who have a particular fascination with Rasputin. Both of my books present Rasputin in a different light than ever seen before, as a healer and humanitarian (even if he did like to party) who was actually the victim of a smear campaign by a greedy and power-hungry aristocracy. Why hasn’t this come out before? Think about who writes history: the powerful, the literate, the credentialed. Not the common man who, no doubt, has an opposing view of events and conditions. For example, while there are books about the subject, Russian history doesn’t often detail the ethnic cleansing that took place under the tsars, most often by the military. 

While Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History deals with a more global and academic historical perspective, offering a view of Rasputin in a more socio-political context, Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary is a lively, personal account of daily life with Rasputin as well as the gossip, plots and intrigues of Petersburg society. My footnotes to the memoir provide context and explanation.

3. How did you come up with the titles of your books?

Originally, I wasn’t going to publish my English translation of Simanovitch’s French memoir. My intention was to garner further evidence for Simanovitch’s claims about Rasputin and publish a more researched book, focusing on Rasputin’s political views and aid to Jews. When Simanovitch first published his memoir in Russian (1928), it was titled Rasputin and The Jews. When it was translated from Russian to French, it was called Rasputin by His Secretary Aron Simanovitch.  My guess is that, especially at that time, the French publisher felt having “Jews” in the title might impede sales. So, for the book I authored, I took a variation of Simanovitch’s Russian title and called it Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History. When I decided to publish my translation of Simanovitch’s memoir, I went with a variation of his French title, calling it Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary.

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

For the memoir translation, I was very fortunate to strike up an exchange with graphic designer Siri Nadler ( to whom I had complained that I was too busy editing Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary to be concerned with the cover which just seemed like a looming burden. I placed myself completely in her hands and as I worked on the manuscript, Siri sent me a variety of options for the cover, any of which I would have been happy with. I had her choose the one that she liked best, which I thought was stunning, with its mustard, leather-look background, the old Russian scrolling, and the red and black ornate lettering. It was an absolute blessing for me not to have to think about the cover and to be able to concentrate on the manuscript.

5. Who is your favorite person in the memoir and why?

It would seem obvious to say Rasputin is my favorite person and Simanovitch did affectionately depict him as lively, principled, and complex but humorous.  However, I was very drawn to Simanovitch, not only because he was my great-great uncle, but because of his commentaries on the mentality of the aristocracy contrasted with that of the peasantry. Although he often exaggerated his own importance, he had interesting insights into the dynamics of the different social classes. Simanovitch also had no qualms about describing Rasputin’s wild night life which he shared, nor did he hold back on any of the juicy court gossip of the time, some which he apparently believed. Simanovitch was a jeweler by trade (one of the few Jews allowed to live in Petersburg), but also ran several gambling clubs, a profession not kindly looked upon by the upper classes.  I enjoyed the fact that while Simanovitch bragged about some parts of his life, he also freely admitted some of his fears, weaknesses and mistakes.

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

My least favorite person whom Simanovitch described is the Tsar’s uncle and Commander of the Russian Armies, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich Romanov. He was such an avid anti-Semite that he accused all Jews of being spies during World War One and, in the course of retreating after military defeats, encouraged the torture and slaughter of entire villages of Jews. He was ruthless and bloodthirsty.

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

One interesting fact is that while the aristocracy spread exaggerated or fabricated accounts of Rasputin’s drinking and womanizing, they themselves consumed champagne and vodka by the case, and many in the court, government and upper classes were afflicted, due to promiscuity, with venereal diseases which were so rampant at the time that the newspapers were filled with advertisements for cures. One historian even noted that if Rasputin had been born into nobility, no one would have thought anything of him drinking or philandering.

Another interesting fact is that more than a hundred people a day lined up at Rasputin’s apartment door to request help or favors of some kind. Many Jews who were denied educations (only 3 to 5% of university students could be Jewish) by law obtained notes from the Tsarina due to Rasputin’s intervention, permitting more Jews than allowed by the quota to be educated. He also helped people who had been unjustly imprisoned and people who wanted to live outside The Pale of Settlement that most Jews were confined to. In addition, he helped the poor by demanding that the wealthy who came for favors (promotions, titles, awards, etc.) empty their pockets and give money to the poor who had come for help.

Rasputin also saw to it that his daughters had the best possible schooling in Petersburg. He always went home to Siberia in the spring to help with the harvest on his farm, and his wife came to visit him once a year or so while he stayed in Petersburg. She was very proud of him and the attention that society women paid him. When asked if it didn’t bother her to have so many women fawning all over her husband, she reportedly smiled and said he had plenty of love to go around for everyone.  Rasputin adored her and treated her with great respect.

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

I was very impressed with another memoir, The Accidental Anarchist by Bryna Kranzler who also edited Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary.  Bryna had taken the diaries of her grandfather, a Jew in the Tsar’s army during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), and edited the three dozen composition books of his Yiddish notes into a memoir as good as any action/adventure/suspense/historical novel, with some dry humor thrown in.  Both memoirs cover the subject of Jewish history in tsarist Russia from the perspective of and in the voice of men who lived it. 

10. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I’m not sure how unique it is, but I enjoy doing collage art – cutting various shapes out of colored construction paper and creating an abstract design by pasting the pieces onto a background. A few of my works are on the Fine Art America site.

I also talk to myself a lot. I don’t think that’s a talent, but it could be a hobby.

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

My website, The Real Rasputin, has articles, excerpts, reviews and background:

Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary by Aron Simanovitch, translated and annotated by Delin Colón, edited by Bryna Kranzler, is available in paperback and on Kindle at:

Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History by Delin Colón is also available in paperback and on Kindle at:

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

Rasputin movies seem to be returning to popularity. I’ve been considering writing a screenplay, although it will tell quite a different story than any other movie about him. In the interim, I’ve taken on some jobs editing the work of other writers. Frankly, I don’t know what to expect from myself in the future, but I know it’ll come to me when the timing is right.

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

The obvious response is “Please write a review!” They’re always appreciated. Give the books as a gift, recommend them to friends and reading groups, tweet about them — in general, make as much noise as you can about them. Authors (especially lesser known ones) aren’t exactly the wealthiest sector of the population, so we can use all the help we can get!

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

Whatever you’re working on, go at it doggedly and edit, edit, edit. I don’t write fewer than half a dozen drafts of a piece. After you’ve edited your manuscript, get a professional editor – a developmental editor to lend a critical eye to the structure and logistics of the work.

If you’re going to self-publish, don’t use any of those presses that charge a fee or force you to purchase a certain number of volumes. Print-on-demand can be done for free. The only fees you should have to pay are for extra services purchased, such as formatting or cover design, but one can learn to do those things.

Most importantly, writing the book is the easy part. It’s finite; there’s a beginning and an end to the process. Promoting and marketing the book is an endless and full-time task but there are resources available on LinkedIn author discussions, Goodreads, and many other sites. It’s wise to establish connections with other authors who can be very helpful with any questions or suggestions.

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

From Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary

Chapter 1

My Introduction to the Imperial Court

Allow me first to say a few words about myself: For more than 10 years, I occupied a position, in Petersburg, that one could certainly call ‘unique’.  For the first time in Russian history, a simple Jew from the provinces was received by the Royal Court and had some influence over affairs of state.  The upper classes of that time posed no serious obstacle despite their profound anti-Semitism.  They sought my advice and assistance even though I was a Jew; however, most of my activities consisted of trying to aid my oppressed people, and lighten their load.

My success in Petersburg has generally been attributed to my bond of friendship with Rasputin.    It has been said that it was Rasputin who cleared the way for my introduction to the Imperial Court.   This is not exactly true.  My friendship with Rasputin was certainly very precious to me, but the truth is that I had established connections with Petersburg society before Rasputin arrived in that city.  And this is how I did so:

I was an established jeweler in Kiev and knew many influential people.  Living in the provinces, I acquired a lot of experience in dealing with the police and other bureaucrats.  I became adept at the art of manipulating these state officials.  However, life for all Jews in Kiev, meant tolerating all sorts of vexations and humiliations. So, in 1902, I moved to Petersburg, temporarily leaving my family in Kiev to manage my thriving business.  In Petersburg, I often met people for whom I previously had performed important services.  Most had not forgotten my assistance and remained ready to oblige by helping me to get established in the city.  Due to several among them, I was later able to escape certain death, as well as save the lives of my children.

In 1905, at the first worrisome reports of a pogrom in Kiev, I hurried back to join my family.  My stores had been ransacked.  My business managers and many of my relatives had been massacred.  My own life and that of my immediate family were in grave danger.  But General Mavrin, who led the pogrom, and Zichotzki, the police prefect, took us under their protection and, thanks to them, my family and I escaped to Berlin.

As we were leaving Kiev, in front of the synagogue, we saw the corpses of Jews massacred during their holy service.  This horrible spectacle left such an indelible impression that, after arriving in Berlin, it took me some time to recover.  It was then that I firmly resolved to engage in the struggle, using any and all means, to defend the lives and rights of myself, my family and my fellow Jews.  I decided to actively support the causes and interests of my people.  Only now, and for the first time, am I making a public report of what I attempted and accomplished, taking full responsibility for my actions, and ready to accept any attacks or accusations.

Thank you Delin 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 19, 2013

Author Spotlight: Interview with Rick Trivett

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

My book is called Bubble of Time and is the first installment of the Lyonnesse Tales. It is a light-hearted and hopefully humorous fantasy.

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

I like to think the book is suitable for teenagers of all ages. There is no blood and guts, bedroom scenes and the only swearing comes from the top line of the keyboard. I hope there is something in the book for teenagers and adults alike.

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

I wanted to create a land where life was simpler, where magic still existed and money was not all powerful. However, I also wanted it to be discovered by someone from our own reality. Living in the southwest of Britain, the obvious place to set the series was in the mythical county of Lyonnesse, hence Lyonnesse Tales. But why can’t the rest of us see what was once a kingdom? Simple, because it is hidden in a bubble of time.

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

The cover is a collaboration between a local artist, Hazel-Ann Willson and myself. I can’t draw for toffees so I gave her a brief for the original picture, then tweaked it to get end result. I wanted something that would convey being lost, not in space, but in time, thus the fingerpost has whens rather than wheres.

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

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

My favourite character? Hum, I don’t really have a favourite, or to forestall your next question, least favourite. I like all the characters for different reasons, even some that only get a brief mention. Some are charactures of people of people stereotypes I have met, others are merely how I’d like people to be. For instance, the woman that runs the Post Office is based on a school teacher I had when I was seven. A very austere woman who had never married, had long silver hair pulled back tight and pinned into a bun, and always wore a tweed skirt and jacket.

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

One thing? Like an artist, I don’t think an author ever really knows when to lay down the brush. That said, I’d have to say I’m happy with it the way it is. I’ve had some negative feedback saying I’m too wordy at times with some of the descriptions, but I think that is because I like to get across the scene as I see it, to paint the whole picture. But I can see how it can interrupt the flow of the narrative and is something I am more conscious of as I’m writing the second book.

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

Perhaps that it has sat on a shelf unloved for over twenty years? Back then I was trying hard to be a professional writer, getting poems, newspaper and magazines articles published. I even had my own column in a magazine for a while. But life got in the way as it often does. Now I’m able to give more time to writing, not a lot as I’m still working full time, but I write purely for pleasure and with no deadlines.

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

I have been greatly influenced by Terry Pratchett and the late Douglas Adams. Both have a tremendous use of verbal slapstick that can only work in the imagination, something I’ve tried to bring to my writing. And to a lesser extent, perhaps Tom Holt or Robert Rankin.

10. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

Like whistling the Warsaw Concerto whilst drinking a glass of water? No not really. I am however, a committed motorcyclist or perhaps should be committed motorcyclist. I own 4 bikes at the moment, all from the late seventies or early eighties and ride as much as possible. My wife and I have just come back from fourteen days riding around France and Switzerland. We covered 2600miles in that fortnight, and that includes a five day and a three day stopover.

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

Well there is the website, though I don’t update it as often as I should:
Or I’m on twitter:
And Facebook:
The book itself can be bought from in the UK. in the US and from anywhere.

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

Book Two: Quest in Time is on the go at the moment. However, I’m not the most disciplined writer anymore, and working full time it is a bit of a slow burn at the moment, but I hope to have the first draft finished by the end of the year.

After that? I want to continue with the Lyonnesse Tales and have several other story outlines for future books, but I also want to write some serious fantasy/sci fi too.

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

TELL OTHERS! Sorry, but getting the word out is the most important thing for any indie author. Other than that, please give feedback, good or bad.

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

Try and get someone you don’t know to read it first. A neutral opinion is very important and family and friends are sometimes reluctant to be critical. Then when it is ready push your work, really push it and don’t be put off by stacks of rejection letters. If it is good then someone will publish it.

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

Just that I hope you enjoy the book. Let me know either way and hopefully it will improve the next!

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

Ok, here is part of the first chapter:

It was Sunday, and since his girlfriend was away visiting her brother for the day, Dave Unwin was partaking of his second favourite pastime, riding his motorcycle around the myriad of country lanes in Devon. It was early spring, and for once the weather was co-operating and he had not been forced to don his waterproof over-suit. It was still rather chilly so, in addition to his leathers  he was wearing a multitude of layers under his leather jacket and quilted ski trousers over his leather jeans.

If Dave was a stereotypical biker, as the media like to portray them, then by rights he should have been mugging little old ladies, robbing petrol stations, participating in illegal road races, or generally causing trouble. However, he was simply riding for the enjoyment of riding, and the thrill of exploring the largest network of roads of any county in the country. Nor was he travelling at high speed, far from it. Most of the unclassified roads were far too twisty, and the road surface too poor to travel safely at speed. And besides the potholes, loose gravel, lines of tar around old patches, fallen leaves, and mud, there were also the hazards prevalent in a rural setting, like organic landmines left behind by herds of cows, and psychotic pheasants with a death wish. No, Dave was content to ride at a sedate pace, and absorb the world around him. Occasionally he would stop by a gateway or pull in to a lay-by and take a drink of coffee from his thermos whilst admiring the view.

He pulled away from another vantage point, and rode at a sedate pace along the minor road. He was simply riding for the exhilaration of riding and the sense of freedom it generated. Sweeping around bends, and slaloming his way around the multitude of potholes and patches that councils everywhere consider vital for all roads in tip-top condition.

It was a beautiful spring day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. The hedges were in their first flush of vibrant green, growing for all they were worth before they would be trimmed back later in the year once the birds had finished nesting. A sign by the side of the road understated the U-bend ahead, but having ridden this way many times before he was ready for it.

What Dave was not ready for was the imposing bulk of a big red tractor pulling a trailer coming the other way along the road as he went around the bend. Immediately he applied the brakes, the net result of which was to lock up the back wheel, causing the bike to skid on the loose gravel and mud on the road. The tractor coming the other way also braked, skewing itself and its trailer across the width of the road, making it impossible to get past it.

In the mean time, Dave released the brakes and steered into his skid to bring the bike back under control. Even from the low speed he had been doing there was no way he was going to be able to stop on such a loose surface before he hit the tractor. By the side of the road was a gap in the hedge. By a democratic majority of one, Dave voted to head for this gap. It seemed to offer an altogether less painful option than sliding into the tractor .

If he had been able to or had the time to stop and explore exactly why there was a gap between the hedges, then he might possibly have found the remains of the broken sign that was in the ditch next to the gap. He might then have scraped off the lichen and the fungus growing on it, and been able to read what was left of indented lettering, which said:


It could have referred to the vegetation but it didn’t, for the gap between the hedges quickly converged. The footpath was more than overgrown - it was undergrown as well. Brambles and dog roses criss-crossed the path like organic barbed wire. Nettles and docks fought between themselves for space amongst the knee-high grass in the middle, and the blackthorn hedges didn’t just loom on the edge of proceedings, they met and exchanged gossip in the middle. A panicked dab of the brakes and a sliding rear wheel informed him that the surface was even more slippery than the road had been and braking was not a good idea. There also appeared to be no room to turn around, not even a gateway or stile, which would mean that even if he could stop he would have to push the bike out backwards through the vegetation, so with no other option forthcoming he kept going.

Dave’s knuckles were white inside his gloves as he griped onto the handlebars, whilst nature tried its best to get to grips with him and dump him on the ground. The dog roses and brambles ripped and tore at various parts of his protective leathers, trying to get at the vulnerable bits underneath. Inside his black helmet, his face was as white as a sheet. His green eyes bulging with fear, as he tried his best to stay in the saddle during that nightmare ride. A part of his brain, that was obviously not up to speed with current events, noticed what a wonderful smell the freshly broken vegetation gave off as he rode through it.

It seemed to last forever. Perhaps it was his lot to spend the rest of his life riding down through that footpath choked with weeds, when without warning the foliage gave way in front of him. It parted to reveal another road. Heaving a sigh of relief, Dave managed to bring his bike to a halt. For a moment he just sat astride his bike, panting with relief. Somehow he had managed to get through it more or less in one piece. Which was more than could be said for his jacket and ski trousers. They were ripped and torn in several places, with the odd thorn sticking right through and into him by the feel of it.

After putting the bike on its stand, Dave pulled off his gloves and helmet, letting his shoulder length brown hair cascaded down around his face, which was clean-shaven apart from a moustache, and still pale with fright. Freed from the confines of his helmet, he began to take in his surrounding.
The road he had discovered had the traditional trappings of all little used country lanes. However, the grass down through the middle of it appeared to be meticulously manicured and the potholes had a curiously symmetrical shape to them, but otherwise it resembled any other road long forgotten by the authorities. Carefully he placed his gloves and helmet on the ground, and after a brief pause to pull out some of the more painful thorns, Dave reached into the tattered remains of his leather jacket and took out the map he always carried. He had gotten into the habit of carrying it for those odd occasions when, through no fault of his own, he found himself directionally challenged (or hopelessly lost).

Opening it up, he quickly found the road he had been on and the U-bend. The footpath was not marked, nor, as far as he could make out, was the road he had emerged onto. This rather annoyed him. The map was a good quality one printed by the A.S. (The Ammunition Survey Group) and had been quite expensive. It was the kind of map favoured by ramblers and only covered about twenty square miles but showed every farmhouse, barn, and milking parlour, outside loo, rabbit hutch, and dog kennel. Those people who had been unfortunate enough to have stood still for too long when the survey had been conducted were also marked on the map as well, but what it didn’t show was where he was.

Thank you Rick 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 14, 2013

The Otherworld in the Mortal World - Episode Two

Now that Ghalien is finished and the manuscript is in the hands of my editor and beta readers, I've had a little bit of spare time to work on another Otherworld in the Mortal World installment.  The other day my two friends and I drove across the highway from my house and hiked down into the Black Lake Wetlands Preserve, the very place where Meghan encountered the faelah, the Cumorrig, and Cade for the first time.  Yes, the swamp behind her house really does exist, and so does the neighborhood where she and Tully live.  Of course, I did add a few extra details and I might have changed a few things, but if you ever wanted to visit the setting of the Otherworld Trilogy, you can do so on the Nipomo Mesa.

I have been visiting the wetlands since I was in middle school, but I have never been down there after dark.  To be completely honest, I'm not sure if I would like to visit at night, even if I had a group of friends with me . . .

The best part about the Black Lake Wetlands Preserve is that the traffic is practically non-existent.  In fact, I can remember seeing only a couple other people hiking in the area once or twice before.  Another plus is that the trees are very talkative, creaking and rustling in the wind and telling their secrets.  If you are looking for a natural place to recharge, this preserve is the place to go.  Maybe now you can understand why it made it's way into not just the Otherworld Trilogy, but into my Legend of Oescienne books as well.  If you've read The Finding or The Beginning, then you should be familiar with the Mystic Archedenaeh.  Denaeh calls the Belloughs of the Black Swamp her home.

Below I've included some more pictures and the video we created (just a reminder, this was filmed with my camera, so not the best equipment on the planet, and I have a fear of speaking in front of a camera (something I'm trying to get over :P)), but before I let you go to watch this little creation, I want to reiterate that although Meghan and her friends treated the Black Lake Wetlands Preserve as an extension of Meghan's backyard, there are rules that need to be followed if you should choose to visit (for example, fires are prohibited and there have been reports of bear activity in the area).  So, hopefully that doesn't scare anyone off, but I want to make sure everyone is safe should they decide to make their own little trip down into this Otherworldly realm . . .  With that being said, I hope you enjoy the video!


It may be daylight, but I've heard this place is crawling with creepy, Otherworldly creatures.  Best to keep a look out for them.

Okay, I swear something just moved down in the reeds, and luckily I have Laura to watch my back.
Unfortunately, Nino doesn't do so well in these sorts of situations . . .
 A wasps' nest we found on our hike.  Fortunately, they didn't notice us as we passed by.
 The canyon where Cade and Fergus fought with the mountain lion faelah in the beginning of Ehriad.
A eucalyptus tree that will soon join the others down in the canyon.
The point where the trail crosses the swamp.  It's dry now, but during the winter it can get pretty damp, hence the need for the board.
A few more trails you can take.
And now, the feature presentation!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Author Spotlight: Interview with Hank Smith

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

Addict to Addict Without Parallel/ Relapse Prevention.

Tagline: The beast of addiction is severe and deadly. if you want to understand the realities of drugs and the effects it has on us then please give yourself a break. please read this book.

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

All audiences who have or who know someone who has struggled with addiction. I believe that would be just about all of us.

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

The book derives from the only known cure of addiction. One addict helping another addict without parallel. It is the only proven way to arrest addiction for more than a short period of time. DRUGS DO NOT WORK.

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

It's basic. Just a word cover. I made it that way because it's the design of simplicity.

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

All who inspired me. Every addict that I know of who has died in the fight of the disease of addiction.

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

Death. addiction always wins if not treated with utmost respect. SURRENDER.

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

I would have gotten more serious about doctors prescribing addicts drugs to fight addiction with.
its a sure way to kill them. Not cure them.

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

Up to this point. I hand made all my books and i have given away over 500 books to inmates and recovering addicts for free.maybe someday I will be paid for them.

As I was writing on a subcommittee of an unnamed 12 step fellowship. I realized that more people
become addicted to doctor prescribed meds in treatment than in hospitals due to injury. I
guess thats not very fun but its the truth.

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

I haven't found one quite like mine. it is a spiritual view on addiction and the arresting
assets of the disease of addiction.

10. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I am a musician and i build harleys. and i love to go camping with my kids and my sweetheart.

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

904-236-2259...dont prank call me. I work hard at this.

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

I'm working with local teens about bullying and a series of booklets for free at all public schools
so the kids can just grab one off the wall in any hallway. Although, I'm a little disgusted with the
so called lack of funding that is offered for this project.

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

Give it to someone who it may save them from an untimely death due to the lack of knowledge
that it takes to stay alive from the deadly disease of addiction.

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

Just speak your mind and write it down. And for gods sakes don't believe that someone will come along and make it happen for you. Prepare to do it yourself. then do it.

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

A lot, but we shall remain silent in order for you to say something.

Thanks to the smell of gunpowder in my mouth. if you visit my website and read my book, you will understand that.

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

To prevent relapse, we must first began a
life of recovery. The only correct way to begin a
life of recovery is to detox from all drugs, work
the twelve steps and live a spiritual life. If these
“so called - wonder drugs” worked, then why
are millions of addicts going to the clinics every
day like cattle and taking drugs they would have
never even taken in the first place. It seems very
disturbing to me that the vision of recovery is
being catapulted into a blur of deception by
doctors and clinics. The medical field has this
backwards. It doesn't take a very bright star to
figure out that a junkie needs to loose the
crutch and begin a new way of life without
drugs. To put someone on synthetic heroin, or
any other drug, is murder. This is belittling to
do to someone who already has a deadly
problem with addiction. In order to prevent
relapse, we must be clean and free from all
drugs in order to begin to recover.
Recovery is the opposite from the way a
drug addicts mind thinks. It’s deadly to cover up
anything that may be of use to them in a
recovery setting. The point here is to help
them recover from “all” drugs. Not to get them
started on new ones that would have never
even reached them in the first place. What’s
the difference in giving a drug addict heroin,
crack, meth, alcohol or cocaine then giving them
oxy-cotton, methadone, suboxone or any other
drug that the doctors see fit to make money
from? It’s no different from the local drug
dealer. Only this is done legally, and there is no
prison sentence behind it. We wonder why the
relapse ratio is so high on addicts leaving
treatment and recovery centers. Funny how
jails don't give addicts their “FIX” while their
incarcerated. Nor do they give them any as
their being released. Sounds like addicts have a
better chance of surviving the deadly disease of
addiction being in jail instead of treatment. But
sadly enough, most dependent inmates quickly
return to their doctor to be instantly
reintroduced to the same old program of
substitution recovery.
This is absurd, and must be arrested now
in order to begin a new life of recovery. To
believe that recovery is just remaining clean
from the drugs that we “illegally abused” is
absurd. The recovery process from anything
that is destroying our lives must be driven by a
crystal clear vision of what it is that we’re
trying to achieve. The medical field tells drug
addicts to remain clean from the drugs that they
came there using but immediately gives them a
replacement drug. This is insane. It only
creates a brand new situation in an old pattern
of thinking. We must begin with a new way of
thinking. To replace drugs, with drugs, is deadly.
This does nothing for the addict or their quality
of life.

Thank you Hank 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

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ghalien Cover Reveal and Teaser Chapter!

Hello Otherworld fans!
I hope you are all having a marvelous summer and that you are able to enjoy what's left of it.  I know many of you are impatiently awaiting the release of Ghalien, the second novella told from Cade's point of view, and believe me, I'm just as eager as you are to be done with it.  Well, I'm pleased to announce that the rough draft is complete and I'll be spending the next several days reading through it and making edits.  Once I have it where I want it, I'll be sending it off to my editor and beta readers.  I'm not promising any release dates yet because I'm not sure when it will be live.
What I can give you, however, is the cover.  A few months ago I posted two options here on my site and asked for you to tell me your favorite.  And the cover that received the most votes was the red one!  I don't have an exact count for you since so many of the votes were spread out over several weeks, but you seemed to like the red cover the most (and I must confess, I'm a bit partial to it myself ;)).

Also, I am including the first chapter of Ghalien for you to read.  Ghalien will be a little different than Ehriad in that it is composed of one longer short story and two extra scenes (I wanted to fit more scenes in, but it would have made the book far too long.  I'll have to set those aside for another novella in the future).  The first part, Ghalien, focuses on Cade's activities during the summer between Faelorehn and Dolmarehn.  The two scenes that follow are shorter but they are some of the scenes my readers requested.  The first one tells of the time Cade takes Meghan to the Otherworld to help her awaken her magic, and the second scene describes the events of the Beltane party at the end of Dolmarehn.  As of right now, the entire book comes in around 64,000 words, which is only 6,000 words less than Faelorehn.
Now, without further delay, I give you a sneak peek at Ghalien - A Novella of the Otherworld!
 -J.E. Johnson

Chapter One


I was dreaming of Meghan when the harsh wave of dark magic tore me from my much-needed sleep.  The moment the shock of waking up to such a horror wore off, my anger grew hot and fierce.  My dreams were never reminiscent of pleasant memories from the past, for most memories I dared to recall were anything but pleasant.  But this one had been joyful and whatever unnatural faelah awaited me outside in the courtyard had ruined it.

Often when I slept I didn't dream at all, or the dreams would reflect the darkness I spent my time shying away from.  Simple, charcoal on paper landscapes that held no light or joy.  Lately, however, my dreams had stretched and contorted themselves into nightmares, horrific scenes of my mother's monsters tearing people to pieces.  No, not people, only one person: Meghan Elam.

Groaning, I scrubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands and tried to shake the horrors away.  How many days had passed since I last saw Meghan?  Oh right, just the one.  I had left her to heal from the wounds my mother had inflicted upon her.  I grimaced.  My mother . . .  Even thinking of the Morrigan in those terms turned my stomach.  She was no more a mother to me than an oak tree was to one of its acorns.  As soon as I was born, she cast me aside to fend for myself.  That is until she realized I could be of some use to her.  I had, after all, inherited my father's gift of battle fury, something that the Morrigan could use to her advantage.  So she had returned for me in the end.  And if it wasn't for my sister, I never would have succumbed to her wishes . . .

Enough Cade.  Those thoughts do you no good, I reminded myself as I rolled over, throwing my legs over the side of the bed in order to sit up.

"Fergus?" I called out, my throat dry enough to make me choke.  Once the coughing fit was over I remembered that Fergus wasn't with me.  He was in the mortal world guarding Meghan.

Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and drew on my magic.  It hadn't completely returned to me after undergoing my riastrad, but enough of it was there to accomplish my next task.

Fergus, I sent, the effort of reaching out to my spirit guide across the boundary between our worlds demanding my utmost attention.

Yes, he responded.  Meghan is well.  Her injuries are healing and she will rest a few days more before returning to school.  Only a small number of faelah linger on this side and I have been vigilant in my night hunts.  None shall harm her.

Thank you my friend, I sent back, breathing a sigh of relief and letting my magic return to where it resided next to my heart.

Before I could take much comfort in Fergus's news, however, a wave of cold, evil glamour trickled over my skin.  I clenched my teeth as the intrusive feeling left, hissing as the circular tattoo just above my heart burned like a poisonous brand.  Almost involuntarily, my arm snaked out and I pressed my hand to my skin, trying to rub the ache away.  It was no use.  The tattoo had been placed with the Morrigan's magic.  All of those she had enslaved bore the same mark and it was her way of keeping track of us as well as keeping us under control.  If the tattoo started to hurt then she was getting impatient.  I squinted through the darkness of my room and peered out the far window.  Sunrise was probably an hour or two away, judging by the deep, inky blue of the sky.  Guess I wasn't sleeping in this morning.  Once I set my mind to answering the Morrigan's call, the pain abruptly vanished.  I was tempted lie back down just to see if her magic would do anything to me, but I didn't really feel like playing games with my mother, not this soon after my expending my battle fury.

It took me longer than usual to get dressed.  Perhaps it had to do with my weakened state, but I think it had mostly to do with the fact that despite my misgivings, a part of me was always willing to irritate the Morrigan.  Bracing myself, I took a deep breath and looked into the mirror hanging over my bathroom sink, the flicker of candle light banishing some of the early morning darkness.  The mirrors of the Otherworld were clearer, somehow more revealing than those in the mortal world, and this one was no exception.  It had been a gift from my sister, one of the few fine things I kept in this ruined castle I called home.  That little detail would be changing soon, however.  Someday I was going to bring Luathara back to its former glory, but right now I had the consequences of a broken geis to deal with.

Sighing, I glanced once again at the figure staring back at me and winced.  Oh yes, warping into one's battle fury sure did a number on one's appearance.  The first thing I noticed were my eyes, their normal changeable green now a dull, pond-scum hue underlined by dark circles.  My skin was pale and my face thin and drawn taught.  I looked centuries older than I truly was.  Not that age ever really showed on the Faelorehn, but then not all of us had the gift of transforming into a berserker warrior bent on using every last physical resource to do the most damage possible.  Turning away, I shook those thoughts from my mind.  I never considered myself a vain person, but there was a difference between vanity and being horrified at what a fierce fight could do to my appearance.

Grabbing my heavy cloak, I blew out the candles and strode across the room.  I didn't bother making my bed or closing the door behind me.  No one ever came here, except for me, and if I delayed the war goddess any longer she might drive that painful magic deeper than the surface of my skin.

The morning greeted me with thick fog, wisps of it shredding away from the treetops and raining down in streamers of damp gray.  I guess it had taken me longer than I thought to get ready, because I could tell from the dim light that the sun had begun to rise somewhere in the east.  Bracing myself, I descended the stone steps and headed toward the opposite end of the courtyard.  About halfway to my destination a low, demanding cackle split the air, forcing my heart up into my throat.  I spun around, my eyes darting around the crumbling courtyard walls.  I expected to find a large black raven watching me from somewhere, so when my eyes fell upon a huge white bird a slight prick of surprise stabbed at me.

The bird tilted its head and regarded me with one eye, the eye that hadn't been damaged in some battle long ago.  It gave another one of those blood-chilling caws and then ruffled its feathers and shook, waiting for my next move.

"Tell your mistress I'm on my way," I growled as my hands balled into fists.

The white raven gave another croak before flapping its wings and disappearing into the mist.  As it headed east, I could have sworn it was laughing at me.

Speirling was waiting for me in the field, his dark ears pricked forward as he sensed my approach.  Letting out a deep whinny, he tossed his head and dug at the damp earth.  My misgivings melted away as my mouth curved into a smile.  As my fingers found Speirling's velvet nose, I was further comforted by his positive thoughts.

"You're always looking on the bright side, aren't you?" I murmured, pressing my forehead to his.

I didn't bother saddling him, since I was running late already and since I didn't really need a saddle.  A swift pace and five dolmarehn crossings later, Speirling and I found ourselves at the foot of the eastern mountains and on the threshold of the Morrigan's underground fortress.  Taking a deep breath that coated my lungs with ice, I slid from Speirling's back and ordered him to take refuge where he could.  No horse should ever have to cross into the Morrigan's territory, let alone follow me down the haunted crevasse that waited several yards ahead.  Wrapping my wool-lined cloak tightly around me, I took the first step down a path that would surely lead to pain.  Every instinct I possessed, and believe me, I possessed more than the average Faelorehn, bit and clawed and chewed at me to turn around and flee.  I could have, in fact I would have been smart to turn and forget the Morrigan and her evil demands.  My geis was broken and she had decided not to kill me, not yet at least.  But if I disobeyed her now, the first thing she'd do wouldn't involve coming after me.  No, she'd aim straight for Meghan and kill her, or worse.

Calling on my glamour to help fight my anxiety, I trudged on, kicking aside broken skulls and fighting the shivering chill that coursed through me.  Forever, it seemed, I walked, the walls growing steeper, the skeletons and mummified flesh of long dead animals becoming more frequent.  Fortunately the air was so cold it kept most of the stench at bay, but every so often a small breeze would stir up the scent of death and rot and I'd have to pause and swallow several times in order to keep from getting sick.

Finally, after what felt like hours, I reached the end of the narrow valley.  A great stone doorway complete with a skull-studded border, loomed before me.  On the branches of two dead, bleached oak trees perched three or four dozen ravens, all hunkered down against the cold, their stark blackness contrasting greatly against their bleak white and pale gray surroundings.  Not one of them uttered a sound or ruffled a feather.  Then, just as I reached up to touch the ogham letters adorning the stone doorway, one of the ravens let out a grumbling caw, setting all the others off.  I shot a glance upward, narrowing my gaze at the raven I hadn't seen before.  He was so pale that he'd blended in with the ashy rock behind him.

"Alahníl," I said, remembering the name of my mother's spirit guide.

Just then a deep rumbling sound rolled up from the earth and the door cracked open, exhaling a frozen breath of fear and death.  I got my panic and the overwhelming urge to shiver under control before I looked back up at the white raven.

"I take it you told the Morrigan of my arrival," I stated more than asked.

All I got in return was a self-satisfied grumble.  Forgetting the birds, I turned and faced the yawning darkness before me.  I had no idea how long the tunnel was, or if there was a tunnel at all.  Like many of the caves found in Eile, this one was a dolmarehn.  But instead of leading to another part of Eile or even to the mortal world or some other realm beyond our own, this one led directly into the Morrigan's cavern.  Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and stepped into the darkness, wondering if I was making the right choice and wondering what horrible, unconscionable thing my mother would have me do for her next.
* * * * *