2020 Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Mae Clair, @MaeClair1

Introducing Author, Mae Clair and a discussion of the Hode’s Hill Series

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. There’s a plethora of books out there to choose from, and not all books stand out. In fact, you don’t want to know how many books I read and don’t review. So, when I find an excellent book or series, I like to spend some time with the author, picking their brain. I want to know where they get their ideas and how they think.

Today, please meet my friend and author, Mae Clair. I thought her Hode’s Hill Series was one of the best dual timeline mysteries I’ve read. I ranted and raved my way through the reviews, which you will find links to, below.

Mae Clair

A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections. 

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats. 

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.com

It’s a pleasure to be a guest on your blog today, Colleen. I’m delighted to be here, discussing my Hode’s Hill supernatural mystery/suspense series. Your enthusiasm for the three books in the series, and my style of writing was a joy to discover. Thank you for your wonderful reviews of Cusp of Night, End of Day and Eventide.

Welcome Mae. Please describe your Hode’s Hill series.

All three books use dual timelines (one in the past and one in the present for each novel), intertwining two separate mysteries together at the end. As I recall, that was one of the aspects that intrigued you the most.

That’s correct. The complexity of combining the two time periods to mesh with the plot must have been difficult. How did you come up with a dual timeline structure?

Cusp of Night was my first experience attempting to write a book with dual timelines. Months earlier, I’d read The Night Sister, an amazing novel by Jennifer McMahon. It was the first time I’d encountered a book using two timelines, and I was hooked. Hooked!! I devoured several of her books in a row, thoroughly enthralled by the way she wove two separate mysteries together.

There is definitely an increased level of complexity and that’s a problem if you’re not a good plotter­—like me. I’m a planster. A bit of character and setting development before I start writing, then I wing it. I rarely, if ever, even know how my books are going to end.

Managing two mysteries in the same novel was a challenge. And let’s not forget both mysteries have to overlap at the end. Because my publisher was interested in a series from me, I knew if I wrote one book that way, I was going to have to stick with the style for all three. Could I pull it off? I was nervous but wanted to attempt it. The first thing I needed, however, was a story idea. Hmm.

And that was my next question! How did you come up with the idea for Hode’s Hill? All three mysteries intersect at the end. That had to be difficult!

As it happened, I hurt my back, and my doctor prescribed a steroid of some kind. I took one dose and was wired. Couldn’t sleep a wink. I remember lying in bed at night and plotting Cusp of Night in my head. Start to finish.

When 5:00 A.M. rolled around, I got up and typed out 4.5 pages of notes for my editor. The publisher loved it and committed to the series without seeing a proposal for books two or three.

Wow! That’s amazing!

Cusp of Night pretty much wrote itself thanks to that sleepless night of plotting. End of Day and Eventide were harder because I fell back into my usual means of plansting—coming up with vague ideas that required fleshing out as I wrote.

As an example, Dante DeLuca has a small secondary role in Cusp. Jillian Cley is a minor character. I think she has two scenes total. I had no intention of using either one again, then suddenly they became my leads when I sat down to write End of Day.

As I was working on EoD, I was planning on using two secondary characters for the leads in Eventide, but then Madison Hewitt popped up. I didn’t even know Jillian had a sister until my muse inserted a few lines about her in chapter one. At that point she didn’t even have a name, but apparently, she was stuck in a care center, staring at four walls.

Who knew? Certainly not the author!

Madison became my lead for Eventide.

Many authors struggle with plotting, Mae. Can you give us any tips on how to plot?

I know plansters and pansters can relate to what I’m saying, but I do not recommend working on dual timeline books this way. I’ve learned a lot while writing the three Hode’s Hill novels—foremost the benefit of plotting. I managed End of Day and Eventide without plotting, but moving ahead, I full intend to give it a go.

These books were filled with the history and customs of the time periods you cast them in. Does writing historical novels interest you?

In closing, I’m also someone who loves history and old customs. Most of that comes from my love of legends and folklore. I don’t have the dedication to write a historical novel, but I know enough about select topics to layer my books with historical aspects.

That’s why the secondary timelines in Hode’s Hill rely on past centuries. Cusp of Night and Eventide use a secondary timeline in the late 1800s, and End of Day, the year 1799. I’m fascinated by the 1800s, plus it provides such fertile ground for dipping into elements like spiritualism, which is the underlying theme in Cusp.

When you read any of my books, you’re pretty much guaranteed a contemporary setting twined with threads of history, myth, and folklore—my signature style of storytelling. Needless to say, I am thrilled when readers appreciate my efforts.

Thanks so much for sharing more about Hode’s Hill, Mae. This is one series I won’t forget.

Thanks again for inviting me, Colleen. I hope you and your readers enjoyed learning more about how Hode’s Hill came to be. Purchase links are listed above for anyone who would like to explore the books in more detail.

I also have a series about the Mothman, a creature that haunted the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the late 1960s. Like my Hode’s Hill series, there are three books (all capable of being read as stand alones), that blend elements of mystery, suspense, and the paranormal. 

Unlike Hode’s Hill, my Point Pleasant series does not use dual timelines, but it does draw on historical events, folklore, and legend. Information on all of the books I’ve written is available on my website, MaeClair.com.

Hode’s Hill Series:
A Cusp of Night | End of Day | Eventide

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:
Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media

COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “Eventide,” BY AUTHOR, Mae Clair, @MaeClair1

Featuring Your Next Read!

About this Book

The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?

Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…



The third book in Mae Claire’s Hode’s Hill dual timeline Series is called “Eventide.” Wowser! Like the two previous books, this third novel delivers a wallop of a suspenseful tale which wraps up the series in ways I never anticipated! I’m blown away by the writing, the plot, and the ending!

Madison (Maddy) from the second book, has now fully recovered from her ordeal following the violent murder of her husband. She’s ready to get out on her own, and she purchases a house on the outskirts of town. Meanwhile, Jillian, Maddy’s sister, doesn’t think this is the right move for her, causing friction between them.

Once Maddy moves in, she quickly realizes that the Stewart house is haunted. She discovers three gravestones in the family burial plot behind the house. From the dates on the stones, Maddie realizes Sylvia Steward and her son, Nathaniel, both died on the same day. The third grave contain’s Sylvia’s husband, Darrin, who died years before them. What kind of tragedy could have caused a mother and her son to perish on the same day? Just wait… it gets creepier!

Not long after moving in, Maddy encounters a paranormal entity (or two) lurking inside the house who helps her learn about a second Steward son, named Tristan. Whatever caused his death remains a secret waiting to unravel.

Adding to her problems, Maddy realizes her boyfriend, Roth, is not what she expected. His anger issues and possessiveness are only part of the issue.

One day, Maddy finds her tires slashed. Her dead husband hung around with some unsavory characters. Could someone from her past be trying to scare her?

The future meets the past in the second timeline, which puts the reader in the year, 1878. We’re introduced to Hollande Moore, an unmarried woman past her prime, who is obliged to take a live-in position as a companion to Sylvia Steward by order of her brother.

Living in the Steward Mansion becomes unbearable when Hollande discovers Sylvia enjoys inflicting misery upon everyone. Nathaniel, Sylvia’s son, runs the family business. He is a disagreeable man with the same negative attitude as his mother.

Hollande doesn’t know how she will cope with the family until she meets Tristan, the second son who is the exact opposite of his brother. He runs the family business from another location and only comes home in the evening, regaling his mother and Hollande with tales of his adventures. Hollande notices how Sylvia adores Tristan, unlike her other son, Nathaniel.

Eventually, Hollande discovers Nathaniel to be a pleasant man away from the company of his mother. Before she knows it, Hollande and Nathaniel have fallen in love. Suddenly jealous with rage, Sylvia’s madness promises to upend the family.

When the past and the present collide in a trifecta of paranormal occurrences, Maddy stumbles upon an unfathomable evil in the house’s basement. Terrified, she calls in her sister’s boyfriend, Dante, to help her rid the house of the evil within. Together, Dante and the two sisters battle the unknown for the soul of Hode’s Hill. Who will survive?

By Mae Clair

This is one of the most outstanding paranormal series I’ve read. Mae Clair is a master at writing suspense, on a par with Dean Koontz and even Stephen King. In true nail-biter fashion, I couldn’t tear myself away from several of the action scenes, reading late into the night.

Clair doesn’t describe much gore in her novels, which I found appealing. Instead, she strings you along, building the tension until you think you’ll explode from your own impatience to find out what happens next! If you enjoy reading “paranormal-weird” this is the author for you.

I also enjoyed how the character’s personalities flowed throughout the three novels, lending a continuity to the tale of this strange place called Hode’s Hill. I thought I would have a favorite book, but I can honestly say, I loved all three. I’m sad the series is complete.

If you love paranormal fiction filled with a touch of history, romance, and the right amount of things that go bump in the night, you will love the Hode’s Hill series! Just make sure to only read with the light on!


*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections. 

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats. 

Amazon Author Page

How to Connect with the Author

BLOG: MaeClair.com

TWITTER: @MaeClair1


 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also!  Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments if you follow me so I can follow you!

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COLLEEN’S 2019 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “Red Eyes in the Darkness, A Short Story” BY AUTHOR, D. L. Finn, @dlfinnauthor

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Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

About this Book:

What happens when you’re living the good life after retirement and your world suddenly turns upside down? Will and Cass Henderson learn the truth after a family member is murdered, but no one believes them because they’re the prime suspects. The Hendersons have a red-eyed killer in the family, and they’re next on its kill list.



Longer short stories seem to be all the rage now on Amazon. However, the shortness of the story did not detract from the storytelling.

This is my first D. L. Finn story, and I know it won’t be my last. There’s enough suspense and supernatural activity in this book to keep a reader glued to the edge of their seat all the way through to the end.

The story opens with Cass and Will fighting off an intruder in their home. That night, they learn the truth about who murdered Cass’ sister.

Initially accused of her murder, the two were eventually released from custody. But that doesn’t repair the destroyed relationships with family and friends. They struggle to come to grips with the smear campaign propagated against them.

The couple takes their newfound information to the police. The murderer is well known, and the sheriff scoffs at the truth, refusing to believe the couple.

Just when it seems all hope has expired and their own death’s imminent, a white feather magically appears to land in Cass’ lap. Has an angel come to their rescue?

“Red Eyes in the Darkness,” is a fast-paced quick read that gives the reader a glimpse of the delicate balance between the good and evil between this world and the next. The book is also priced right at only $.99!


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*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author:

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA.

She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed.

Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

Amazon Author Page: D. L. Finn

How to Connect with the Author:

Blog: Author, D. L. Finn

Twitter: @dlfinnauthor

Facebook: d.l.finn.writer


 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also!  Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments if you follow me so I can follow you!

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Are you looking for more great reads? Join authors D.G. KayeSally Cronin, and Colleen Chesebro in our writer’s group on FacebookThe Literary Diva’s Library to find book reviews, book promotions, & special deals on books from all the independent authors you love.

Colleen’s 2019 #Book #Reviews – “A Parting in the Sky” The Forgotten Child Trilogy, Book 3” by Author, Mark W. Sasse, @sassevn


In part three of The Forgotten Child Trilogy, Bee takes her biggest gamble yet with Francis Frick, whisking him to the beginning of it all on the forlorn battlefield of waning World War I. When her plan puts Frick in grave danger, she decides to do whatever is necessary to bring Ash back to earth. 

In the explosive conclusion to The Forgotten Child Trilogy, loyalties are tested and secrets are revealed. From Scotland to Africa to Manhattan to the edge of the earth, the enigmatic beings from beyond have a decision to make. Will they continue to influence the world in surprising ways, or will they be released through the parting in the sky. 

Title: A Parting in the Sky, The Forgotten Child Trilogy, Book 3

Amazon Author Page: Mark W. Sasse

Publication Date: March 20, 2019, **This book releases today**

Formats: Paperback & Kindle

Genres: Magical Realism, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense



The final book in The Forgotten Child series, “A Parting in the Sky,” wraps up this saga with everything I had hoped for and even more. This unusual series blends magical realism into a high octane adventure. I guarantee you’ve never read a similar series. I know I haven’t!

The characters from the first two books, including Bee and Ash have returned. I think I’ve finally identified Bee as a mischevious child-like angelic soul. Because of her past interference and her use of Francis Frick to find the forgotten children, Bee is banished from her position as a watcher by Zette.

Zette’s character intrigued me. She comes across as a senior angelic soul who in the past saved Ash at great cost to herself. She has great power and Ash isn’t afraid to do battle with her to fix past wrongs.

Ash receives a promotion and he takes over Bee’s position. In the past, he always saved Bee from her mistakes. Now, Ash is determined to complete the mission Bee couldn’t complete in finding the last forgotten child.

There’s plenty of action and suspense as Francis and Hatty attempt to save the people most important to them. Secrets are revealed and everything comes together in the final scenes. What an inspiring read. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions with the final revelations. Make sure you have tissues ready!

I’ve been a fan of Mark Sasse’s fiction for a few years now. The Forgotten Child Trilogy has captured my imagination and my heart. Just make sure to read this series in order so that you understand who the characters are and how they are all connected. Here’s my review of book one, “A Man Too Old, for a Place Too Far.” Here’s my review of book two, “The African Connection.” I received a copy of this book from the author and chose to read and review.


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 
Reader Engagement: 
Reader Enrichment: 
Reader Enjoyment: 
Overall Rate: 
5 out of 5 Fairies

5 fairies

*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Colleen's Book ReviewsRating System

About the Author

Mark W Sasse is a novelist and award-winning playwright and director. He vacillates on a daily basis between which genre of writing he enjoys the most. Luckily, he doesn’t have to choose! Sasse’s novels have been featured on curated sites such as Bookbub and Noisetrade, and his plays have been produced in New York, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, Australia. His play “The Last Bastion” earned him the 2018 Greywood Arts Winter Writing Residency in Ireland. He is also a three-time winner of the Best Script Award at the Penang Short & Sweet Theatre Festival. His plays have won multiple other awards such as Best Overall Performance and Audience Choice Award. He won the Festival Director’s Award at the 2016 festival.

Sasse’s interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – from culture and language – from history and religion, making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy a page-turning good story injected with doses of history, adventure, Asian culture, and unexpected humor.

After being an adamant standalone novel advocate, he’s changed his tune and is working on the epic Forgotten Child Trilogy. Book one, A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR, released in December 2017, and the following two books will continue the story in 2018 and 2019. He finally found the story that required more than one book, and he’s thrilled with it. It a crazy mix of magical realism, history, and time travel, wrapped alongside the requisite human stories.

As for his plays, he’s fond of both the short play (10 minutes or less) and full-length formats. From 2011-2017 he wrote for and directed the drama ensemble The RLT Players, a passionate group of dramatic storytellers who specialize in the short play format. In September 2016, his experimental theatre piece “How to Build a Dictator” was featured as part of Penangpac’s Black Box Experiments series. His goal is to have it go into full production somewhere in the world. Any takers?
He currently teaches drama in Saudi Arabia.


Sasse remembers writing his first play when he was about thirteen. It was about Queen Esther and the only person he ever showed that play to was his mother. In college, he wrote lots of poetry, even love poetry for a certain girl. But once he graduated, his writing confidence was shattered, so he gave it up for the next twenty years. He doesn’t recommend doing that! He went to China to teach English in 1992 and eventually moved to Vietnam to do the same in 1994, shortly after the U.S. lifted the embargo against their former enemy. He lived in the exotic Vietnamese culture with his family for nearly ten years.

After many life-changing experiences, Sasse’s new-found taste for history sent him back to school to pick-up a second Master’s degree, this one in Humanities. This led to a shift from teaching English to history as he moved to Malaysia in 2006. Little did he know, however, that all of this was building up to another major shift which would get him back to writing.

On a whim in 2007, he embarked on a collaborative project with a group of students to write and produce a play, resulting in the original stage play “Monkey Love Potion.” It was such a fun and rewarding experience that he decided to try it again the following year. Before he knew it, he was hooked, and that was the beginning of his love affair with live theatre. After writing and successfully producing four original full-length scripts, he finally got the nerve to try his hand once again at a hidden desire which had defeated him many times over the years – novel writing.

In the summer of 2011, he embarked on the journey of writing his first novel. His greatest worry was reaching the magical 50,000-word mark, so he could officially call himself a novelist. When the story, “Beauty Rising,” clocked in at over 60,000 words, he was shocked and happy. But not content. He didn’t know what to do with the novel, and he convinced himself that it would sit idle until he wrote a second novel. He hated hearing the words “one-hit wonder” echo in his head. So in the summer of 2012, he wrote “The Recluse Storyteller.”

Feeling a little more confident, he decided to focus on exposing his work to the public in order to receive some feedback. In December 2012, he independently published “Beauty Rising.” When the first review from an online book reviewer was posted, and it was over-the-top positive, he was flying high, and if he never wrote another word in his life, he would have been content. But that contentment was not to be. He was now hopelessly hooked on both playwriting and novel writing, and he hasn’t looked back since.

He has published five novels with six already finished and ready for publication in 2017. Number seven will be his first sequel and will be available sometime in 2018. He is grateful to all the readers who have joined him on this journey of creativity.


Sasse loves to cook everything from pizza to Thai. He’s coached softball or baseball for the past ten years, and he’s been a much too loyal fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates since he was nine years old—another item he’s hopelessly hooked on. He enjoys traveling, visiting historical sites, and sitting by the beach or other scenic spot with a laptop, an idea, and a lot of time. He has a lovely wife and three wonderful children and one really cool son-in-law – he’s Korean, keeping with the Asian theme of his life. He has an active blog (www.mwsasse.com) where he frequently writes about history, writing, culture, and life. He loves to hear from readers, so he hopes you’ll stop by his site and say “hello.”

The Complete List of Published Works by Mark W Sasse
The African Connection (The Forgotten Child Book 2) (2018)
A Man too Old for a Place too Far (The Forgotten Child Book 1) (2017)
Which Half David: A Modern-day King David Story (2016)
A Love Story for a Nation (2015)
The Reach of the Banyan Tree (2014)
The Recluse Storyteller (2013)
Beauty Rising (2012)

The Folly of Progress (2017)
The Last Bastion (2017)
How to Build a Dictator (2016)
The Secrets of the Magic Pool (2016)
Grandparents’ War (2013)
Romans on the Couch (2011)

The Hundred Pitch At-Bat (2017)
Christmas in the Trenches, 1914 (2016)
If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story (2014)

How to Connect with the Author

Facebook: Author Mark W. Sasse 

Blog:  MW Sasse.com

Twitter: @sassevn


 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also! ❤ Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments.

Are you looking for more great reads? Join author, D.G. Kaye, Sally Cronin, and myself in our Facebook group, The Literary Diva’s Library to find book reviews, book promotions, & special deals on books from authors you love.

ASBRC may2018

Don’t forget to join us in the #ABRSC, Author Blogger Rainbow Support Club on Facebook. See you there! ❤

Conversations With Colleen: Meet Author, Allison Maruska

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you one of my favorite YA/mystery and suspense authors, Allison Maruska. When I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE she never even batted an eye. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.

Please meet my guest, Allison Maruska.

Allison is a YA and mystery/suspense author, blogger, teacher, mom, wife, coffee and wine consumer, and owl enthusiast. Her blog includes humor posts, short stories, and posts on writing strategy, parenting, and teaching. 

Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. I’m really looking forward to our chat.

Hi, Allison. I’m glad you’re here. Would you share some common traps for aspiring writers?

I’d say the most common trap (or misconception, rather) is the belief that since we all learned how to write in school, we can all write a book. Writing a novel is hard. Haaaaaard.

New writers get discouraged thinking it’s supposed to be easy, because duh, we can all write. But there are variables involved with writing a book that you simply don’t think of until you actually do it—like how to keep up the tension, how to keep dialogue tight, and dealing with the mushy middle.

But the good news is writing a good book is a learned skill, just like learning to write letters, sentences, and paragraphs. Even if they don’t study creative writing in college (I didn’t), many writers attend conferences and workshops, work with established writers and editors, or simply read books on the craft. No one knows what they’re doing at the beginning.

I heard a rumor that you love cats. So, as a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I have a thing for owls. It’s not just a branding thing—it’s a real, birdy crush of sorts. I have owl jewelry and art and cookie jars and purses and a tattoo of an owl. Last year, my son discovered an owl sitting in a tree in our backyard and I. About. Lost. My. Mind. I took about a thousand pictures of it, shared my glee on social media, and despite the cool temperature, ate my dinner on the deck so I could spend more time with our visitor. That was a good day. So owls are definitely my mascot, both in writing and in life.

Do it

(CLICK HERE to learn more about the symbolism of the owl as a spirit animal). Click HERE to find your own spirit animal.

I’ve read several of your books. How do you select the names of your characters?

I use dice! Seriously!

I like to start with how I imagine the character to look, then I use my name dice until I land on one that “feels” right. The trickiest book to choose names for was “Drake and the Fliers,” because the characters all (except for Drake) had new “flier” names that they adopted after they became shapeshifters. Weird shifter names like Scopes, Talon, Phoenix, and Sonar weren’t part of the name dice selection.

Back when I was writing my early books, I thought I would be “different” like Suzanne Collins with her Katniss and Peeta tendencies, which is how Levin and Rana from the Project Renovatio series got their names. I’ve since decided dice names are just fine.

Drake and the Fliers was an excellent book! It’s one of my favorites. Here is my review.

You know I’m a fan of your writing. So, I have to ask… What was your hardest scene to write?

Not dishing spoilers (because I’m not naming the book, ha), the hardest scene to write, both emotionally and logistically, was one where an MC watched a loved one murdered in front of him. How do you capture the gravity of that?

There was at least a whole chapter leading up to it, with the suspense of “will he get to her in time.” Then, when the scene in question arrived, it was a matter of relief, hope, extreme fear, determination, and ultimately, crushing defeat.

I put it through my critique group several times and rewrote it about that many times. Talks involving “how would you feel if you saw this” weren’t too fun to have, and after each time I worked it I needed to take a breather for a day or two.

Allison, do you blog? How does blogging help you sell books?

I was a humor blogger before I was a novelist. For the first year, it was just me writing silly posts about whatever because I could—my personal favorite from that first year was about whether or not Chuck Norris ever wore yoga pants.

After I was offered a publishing contract, I shifted to more “authory” type posts (though humor ones do still occasionally get through). I’d say the blog definitely helped sell the first book, and probably the subsequent ones to a lesser degree, though I know for a fact it has attracted book bloggers.

The blog is a great landing spot for all of my social media postings, and unlike Twitter or Facebook, the posts are easily searchable and for the most part, evergreen. I use it in place of a traditional newsletter.

Thanks for the visit, Allison. I’ve shared the link to your most recently released book below:

Read my review HERE

I had a great time, Colleen. Thanks for the invite. ❤

How to contact Allison Maruska

Blog:  allisonmaruska.com

TWITTER:  @allisonmaruska

FACEBOOK:  Allison Maruska, Author

k luv u bye

 Thanks for stopping by to meet Allison Maruska. You’ll love her books!

Colleen’s 2018 #Book #Reviews – “Vampyrie, Origin of the Vampire,” by Tina Frisco


Title: Vampyrie, Origin of the Vampire

Amazon Author Page: Tina Frisco

Publication Date: December 16, 2016

Formats: Paperback Kindle

Genres: Supernatural, Vampires, Werewolves & Shifters, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Suspense


“What if vampires were not the undead, but rather the dying? What if there were two factions among vampires: the sustained and the unsustainable? And what if those factions were at war with one another over the life of a young woman who promised them a future? Vampyrie brings the myth of the vampire into the realm of possibility.

Phoebe Angelina Delaney is a reluctant genius and compassionate hothead. She finds herself in a pitch-dark underground and doesn’t remember how she got there. Did she drink too much alcohol and wander off in a stupor, or was she kidnapped by a malicious element determined to make her life a living hell?

Sir Michael Alan David is a vampire – an enigma, charismatic and mysterious, who weaves in and out of Phoebe’s life. Does he intend to use his title as a ruse to draw her closer to an unearthly fate, or is he a cloak-and-dagger knight in shining armor?

Too many secrets have been kept for too long. Phoebe must unravel the mystery in order to survive. Two major characters from the author’s first novel, Plateau, join forces with Phoebe to battle the demons in Vampyrie.”


I never participated in the vampire reading craze that took over the fantasy genre after the successes of the famous books, Twilight or Interview with the Vampire. There was always too much blood and lust for my taste. Now upon deeper reflection, I may have missed out on some fascinating stories.

I also never considered the intriguing literary possibilities behind the disease of vampirism. Yet, that is exactly what attracted me to Tina Frisco’s hit novel, Vampyrie.

The protagonist, Phoebe Angelina Delaney is portrayed as a strong compassionate woman with a reputation for facing peril head-on. She is a fierce defender of her friends and loved ones. I immediately connected with Phoebe’s character and loved that she was written like a real person, filled with flaws and fears just like the rest of us.

Why did Phoebe’s father keep their family history a secret? Why did her mother disappear when Phoebe was a child? The story unravels, bit by bit, guiding the reader along on Phoebe’s journey where she must confront the secrets of her past and come to grips with the reality of her true identity. It’s not easy to face the real world when it turns upside down, but Phoebe shows us what’s she made of.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the character, W’Hyani, from one of the author’s prior novels, Plateau, Beyond the Trees, play an important role in this novel. The tie-in of characters was a brilliant addition by the author. What W’Hyani brings to this novel is the same thing she brought to the first novel – a sense of hope for the future of humanity; even though the characters find themselves embroiled in the midst of a war that must be won.

Vampyrie stands out from other supernatural tales because the vampire theory we have all come to expect has been rewritten with a twist where medical science skillfully revises the history of vampirism. This hypothesis holds a credibility that lends a sense of realism to the story I didn’t expect. It was a great divergence that kept me totally engaged in the mystery.

Yes, there was blood, and fangs, and some gore; but it wouldn’t be a vampire novel without those elements. I can only say I found myself pleasantly surprised when I discovered the fundamental theme of the book bestowed a philosophical message of growth, strength, and change.

If you think you know vampire novels, think again. Vampyrie rewrites the stereotypes and character archetypes you’ve come to expect into something fresh and new. I bet even the vampires approve!

Night night


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Fairies


*I follow the Amazon Rating System*

Tina Frisco

Author, Tina Frisco

About the Author:

Tina Frisco is an author, singer-songwriter, RN, activist, and student of shamanism. Born in Pennsylvania USA, she attended nursing school in New York and lives in California. She began writing as a young child and received her first guitar at age 14, which launched her passion for music and songwriting. She has performed publicly in many different venues.

Her publishing history includes book reviews; essays; articles in the field of medicine; her début novel, PLATEAU; her children’s book, GABBY AND THE QUADS; and her latest novel, VAMPYRIE. She enjoys writing, reading, music, dancing, arts, and crafts, exploring nature, and frequently getting lost in working crossword puzzles.

When all the December 21st, 2012 doomsday documentaries hit the screen, Tina was compelled to write a novel of hope. Thus PLATEAU: Beyond the Trees, Beyond 2012 was born. Is there any hope for humankind? Will love prevail over fear? A young tribal female is unaware she holds the answers to these questions. Her mettle is tested by the cosmic forces that shaped her destiny. She comes face-to-face with fear in a battle that would shrink the will of the most daring warrior. The fate of all beings in the Universe depends on her defeating the bloodthirsty gondrah and unlocking the mystery of the Great Mosaic of Life.

Tina was inspired to write GABBY AND THE QUADS when her niece had quadruplets. A child’s moral compass develops early, and she wanted to write a book that was ethically as well as traditionally educational. Gabby is an only child who is about to become a big sister to quadruplets! How will she handle this? Her parents decide on a unique approach to introduce her to and help her accept this awesome experience. Follow Gabby as she learns all about babies and the joy of loving.

Tina has always been fascinated by the myth of the vampire and often wondered if the phenomenon actually could exist. Her background in medicine led me to speculate about how this might have a basis in reality. If rooted in science, how might this myth come to life? The most likely answer would be as a physical disorder or disease. All this musing gave rise to her latest novel, VAMPYRIE: Origin of the Vampire. What if vampires were not the undead, but rather the dying? What if there were two factions among vampires: the sustained and the unsustainable? And what if those factions were at war with one another over the life of a young woman who promised them a future? VAMPYRIE brings the myth of the vampire into the realm of possibility. 

How to Connect with the Author:

Blog: https://tinafrisco.com



LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tina-frisco-8230b255), 
and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/116772512185963026434).

122517_2210_ColleensBoo5.pngThanks for stopping by to meet Tina Frisco ❤

The Literary Diva's Library 1640x859

Are you looking for more reviews? Join author, D.G. Kaye, and myself in our Facebook group, The Literary Diva’s Library to find more great reads.

Colleen’s #Book #Reviews – “Trouble in Glamour Town,” by Author, S. R. Mallery

  • Title: Trouble in Glamour Town
  • Amazon Author Page: S. R. Mallery
  • File Size:  2185 KB
  • Print Length:  202 Pages
  • Publisher: Self Published by Author
  • Publication Date: November 12, 2017
  • Sold By: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B077D7T2KC
  • ISBN-10: 1979566070
  • ISBN-13: 978-1979566070
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Historical, Fiction


“Hollywood, 1926. Where actors’ and actresses’ dreams can come true. But do they? While silent screen movie stars reign supreme, a film producer is gunned down in cold blood. Enter Rosie, a pretty bit-player, Eddie, her current beau, and Beatrice, her bitter stage-mother. As real celebrities of the time, such as Clara Bow, Lon Chaney, Gloria Swanson, and Rudolph Valentino float in and out, a chase to find the killer exposes the true underbelly of Los Angeles––with all its corruption.”


Welcome to Los Angeles, California. The year is 1926, and the reader finds themselves smack dab in the midst of the Roaring Twenties. Prohibition is in full swing, and there is more booze sloshing around in the speakeasies than you can imagine. Are you there with me? Step back in time and be prepared to read what it was like back in the good ole’ days when Model T’s were king, and Flappers filled the streets.

On the set at Medford Studios, a cold-blooded murderer has just gunned down Mr. Harris, the “big-shot” Producer. Rosie Paige, an actress in the making and Eddie, her boyfriend, an assistant to Lon Chaney, are on the set when the murder occurs. Never in their wildest dreams did they think they would be involved in a real-life murder investigation. Besides, Rosie and Eddie have dreams they would like to fulfill if Beatrice, Rosie’s mother will let them.

The first officer to show up to the investigation is Detective Frank Lozano, who is fighting an alcohol-induced hangover from the night before. Lozano is a washed-up cop having lost his family to his drinking habit. Between the Mafia, bootleggers, and corrupt police officers, Lozano stands out as a decent guy who swears he will solve the murder. I liked his character. All of his faults made his journey all the more worthwhile.

Like many of the silent movies from the period, Trouble in Glamour Town leads the reader into the dazzling world of movies and movie stars, where behind the scenes, everything is not as lovely as it appears. Hollywood, where money-hungry producers are seducing young female wanna-be actresses for sexual favors, where dirty cops are on the take, and drunken parties hide the dreams and desires of many a young woman. Intertwined with this murder mystery is a novel rich with the lessons of the past that still scream to us from our current headlines today.

As with all of S. R. Mallery’s novels, the details and the historical facts that make the story come to life in your mind are enchanting. I heard the sound of the Model-T and experienced Clara Bow’s wild party first hand. As the mystery unravels, the murderer pops from the pages, a total surprise at the end.

This book was a fun read that I read in a couple of nights. If you love murder, mystery, and mayhem dive into pages of Trouble in Glamour Town. At $.99 this book is a steal!

Won’t you join me? I’m off to enjoy a cocktail called the Bee’s Knees. During Prohibition, this drink found its fame by calming the jagged edges of illegal booze. Made with gin, honey, lemon and orange juice it’s a crowd pleaser. Hey, these period pieces are fun! ❤

Image Credit: PlatingsandPairings.com


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Fairies

five fairies

Author, S. R. Mallery

About the Author

S.R. Mallery, Gold Medalist winner of the 2016 READERS’ FAVORITE Book Awards for Anthologies and 2017 READERS’ FAVORITE Gold medalist for Historical Fiction Personage, has been labeled nothing short of ‘eclectic.’ She has been a singer, a calligrapher, a quilt designer, and an ESL teacher. As a writer, History is her focus and is woven into her stories with a delicate thread. When people talk about the news of the day or listen to music, Sarah’s imagination likens the story to a similar kind of news in the past and is conjuring up scenes between characters she has yet to meet.

What readers are saying about S. R. Mallery’s books:

“A master storyteller has been at work, and this marvelous piece of writing is the result.” ~ Thomas Baker Thomas on Unexpected Gifts.

“Honestly, I haven’t read a book this unique in quite some time.” ~ John H. Byk on Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads

“Mallery is an extremely talented writer. Her style lures the reader; you actually become a part of her tapestry of expression.” ~ Melinda Hines on Tales to Count On.

The Dolan Girls “was so enjoyable. At times rollicking, at times poignant, but always authentic, well researched and a beautifully told story. Highest recommendation. Five stars.” – B. Nelson

How to Connect with the Author

Find Sarah on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1abYVyP
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahMallery1
Visit her on http://srmallery.wordpress.com/home/
Follow Sarah and other award-winning authors on http://enovelauthorsatwork.com
Catch Sarah’s history/vintage clothing/old flicks Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sarahmallery1/

Thanks for stopping by! Cheers! ❤

Colleen’s #Book #Reviews – “The Fourth Descendant,” by Author, Allison Maruska

  • Title:  The Fourth Descendant
  • Author: Allison Maruska
  • File Size: 4503 KB
  • Print Length: 229 Pages
  • Publisher: Self-Published by Author
  • Publication Date: February 4, 2015
  • Sold By: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00T100YB0
  • ISBN-10: 1507809840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1507809846
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Historical, Thriller
  • The Fourth Descendant by [Maruska, Allison]

    *I won a copy of this book in Dan Alatorre’s, First Word Weaver Contest and enjoyed the story so much I had to review it.*


“When Michelle receives a call from a Richmond historian, she sees the chance for a much-needed adventure. All she has to do is find a century-old key.

Three others – a guitarist, an engineer, and a retiree – receive similar calls. Each family possesses a key to a four-lock safe found buried in a Virginia courthouse, though their connection is as mysterious as the safe itself. Their ancestors should not have interacted, had no apparent reason to bury the safe, and should not have disappeared thereafter.

Bearing their keys, Michelle and the other descendants converge in the courthouse basement and open the safe, revealing the truth about their ancestors – a truth stranger, more deadly, and potentially more world-changing than any of them could have imagined. Now it’s up to them to keep their discovery out of the wrong hands.”


Needless to say, I was excited to find out that I had won two books signed by the author in Dan Alatorre’s First Word Weaver Contest in May 2017. By the way, Dan is sponsoring another Word Weaver contest for July. Click HERE to find out more.

The first book I delved into was, The Fourth Descendant.

The story begins by introducing the reader to four different people, who each receive a call from Alex Pratt, a representative from the Richmond Historical Society requesting their presence to help solve a mystery.

Recently, the city had done some renovations to the courthouse where they found buried beneath the floorboards a wooden box that contained a mysterious letter giving directions to a safe built into the basement wall that included four deadbolts.

Also included in the letter, was the puzzling information that each of the four letter signer’s descendants would possess the keys to open the deadbolts. All four keys were needed to open the locks at the same time.

The four descendants are unusual. Michelle Jensen is a wife and mother, the descendant of a Chinese immigrant. Jonah, a guitarist, is the descendant of a freed African slave. Damien, an engineer, is the descendant of an Irish immigrant; and Sharon Ellis, a widower, the direct descendant of an original English Colonist.

The four individuals have nothing in common except for the fact that somehow their ancestors had collaborated on something of great importance. Each of them agrees to pursue the mystery of the four keys.

Little do they know, but the secrets revealed to the four descendants lead them into discovering not only their ancestor’s pasts but their own futures. I found the characters to be well developed and realistic in their endeavors.

This book is an incredible mystery filled with suspense that drips off the pages much like a Dean Koontz novel. I could not put it down. Filled with twists and turns, this saga will keep you on your toes trying to figure out what happens next. The ending was not what I expected!


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars


Author, Allison Maruska

About the Author

Allison is a YA and mystery/suspense author, blogger, teacher, mom, wife, coffee and wine consumer, and owl enthusiast. Her blog includes humor posts, short stories, and posts on writing strategy, parenting, and teaching. 

Author contacts:

Blog: allisonmaruska.com

Facebook: Allison Maruska, Author https://www.facebook.com/allisonmaruskaauthor/

Twitter: @AllisonMaruska https://twitter.com/allisonmaruska

Love youThanks for stopping by to hear about The Fourth Descendant, and to meet Allison. ❤

Silver’s Book Reviews – “Escaping Psychiatry – Beginnings: Escaping Psychiatry Prequel” By Olga Núñez Miret

  • Title:  Escaping Psychiatry – Beginnings: Escaping Psychiatry Prequel
  • Author: Olga Núñez Miret
  • File Size: 2356 KB
  • Print Length: 81 pages
  • Publisher: Just Olga Books
  • Publication Date: February 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01BDG102Q
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Legal Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

In the Author’s Own Words:

“How far would a writer go for a killer story?”

“This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case, she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.
If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.”

My Recommendation:

I don’t know about you but I love a good mystery. If you do too, get comfy in your easy chair and pour a cup of tea! Escaping Psychiatry – the Beginning is a prequel to a trilogy called Escaping Psychiatry, which includes three books: Cannon Fodder – book 1, Team Work – book 2, and Memory – book 3.

This prequel introduces you to the cast of characters in Escaping Psychiatry. Dr. Mary Miller, the psychiatrist seems to be at a crossroads in her career. When her friend Phil, a criminal lawyer from New York invites her to consult on an interesting new case, Mary jumps at the chance.

The accused is a writer who has made a fortune writing a best-selling novel. He is suspected of assaulting a man who claims the writer stole his story. The author further claims the man was stalking him. He asserts that he was provoked by the stalking and that the attack was done purely in self-defense. Things get really interesting when the man suddenly dies.

Author, Olga Núñez Miret, gives you just enough of the facts to whet your appetite into wanting more of this exciting mystery. I thought it was brilliant to offer the prequel as a FREE purchase. I am intrigued by Mary’s character and look forward to reading the rest of the series!


My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

About Olga Núñez Miret:

My name is Olga Núñez Miret and I’m a writer. I also do translations of other author’s work. What else? I was born in Barcelona, Spain, but have lived in the UK for a long time. Over the years I’ve done many things and had other lives but however far I wander I keep coming back to books and stories, my two earliest loves.

When reading was no longer enough, I started writing. My first book was published in 2012 and my publications span different genres, from literary fiction to romance, Young Adult, and psychological thrillers. I plan on writing more novels in the same genres and if my imagination so dictates, I will explore others.

I love to connect with readers, so don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you want to keep informed of all my news, offers, and promos, you can sign up for my e-mail list here: http://eepurl.com/bAUc0v. You can also find me in the usual places and I always include links to my books. Don’t forget to check my website and my blog. There are always surprises.

You can find Olga Núñez Miret on Twitter @OlgaNM7, on Facebook at Olga Núñez Miret, Writer, and her blog authortranslatorolga.com.

Thanks for stopping by to meet Olga!


Silver’s Book Reviews – “The Assassin, Book 2 in the Solar Wind Series,” by Lyz Russo

  • Title:  The Assassin – (The Solar Wind Book 2)
  • Author: Lyz Russo
  • File Size: 1322 KB
  • Print Length: 556 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  • Publisher: P’kaboo Publishers (E Rossouw Trading As)
  • Publication Date: February 19, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN:  B009H42UWG
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Smashwords
  • Genres: Fiction, Action, Adventure, Thriller, Suspense, Science Fiction, Romance

**The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which follows**

In the Author’s own words:

“Remember who you are!”

“His sister died with those words on her lips. Something sinister lurks in his psyche. Something that loves killing. Can he complete his mission without selling out to this entity? The voyage of the Solar Wind continues… Two data capsules tell an evil story. Both the Unicate and the Rebellion want those capsules – but they are in the possession of Radomir Lascek of the Solar Wind. Hunted by both these forces, Lascek scrambles to keep his Solar Wind alive. But things explode in his face, and he is forced to move. Shattered, Lascek launches his own Master Plan – too early.”

My Recommendation:

“The Assassin,” is the second installment in the suspenseful Solar Wind series. To read my review of the first book, The Mystery of the Solar Wind, click here.

Captain Radomir Lascek and his band of unruly pirates, sailing upon his ship, the Solar Wind, continue to hide from the Unicate and their evil associates. However, there is more at stake now. Two data capsules in the Captain’s possession explain that the Rebellion is on a similar path as the Unicate, and both forces could spell the end of the world if the Captain doesn’t act soon.

When the Captain’s secret station in Antarctica is attacked, he is forced to take matters into his own hands. He employs Federi, the part-time gypsy chef/master assassin and Paean, a ship’s musician and budding genetic scientist to embark on a mission to assassinate as many of the top Unicate Officials as they can. Reluctantly, Federi teaches Paean the art of killing, something the fifteen-year-old finds to be a necessary evil in this futuristic world they are forced to survive in.

Struggling to deal with the burgeoning feelings he has for Paean, Federi confronts the “killing animal” that dwells within his heart. He knows he has the soul of an assassin. His greatest fear is that he will lose the love and admiration from the young girl, a certain loss he knows he could not endure.

As the story unfolds the reader discovers Federi and Paean share a type of gypsy intuition, a mystical connection that belongs only to them. This psychic ability blossoms into a deep love between the two, even though Federi is much older than Paean. This is gypsy love at its finest, and I was bewitched by the touching love story that drew me deeper into the adventure.

The book is long but filled with so much intrigue and suspense you gladly read on to unravel the various mysteries that are part of the whole adventure aboard the Solar Wind. For me, this book delves deeper into the characters and gives you a glimpse into the mechanics of their personalities. I like these pirates. Their humanity speaks to me. I can’t wait to dive into the third book in the series, Freedom Fighter. Stay tuned…

My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars



Lyz Russo

About Lyz Russo:

I’m a South African writer and musician. Between running a violin studio and raising 3 beautiful children, and writing through nights, I also run a maverick indie publishing house in South Africa called P’kaboo Publishers.

Have a look: www.pkaboo.net.

You can catch me on my blogs: The Red Ant at skrikvirniks.wordpress.com and Violin Tricks at violintrix.wordpress.com. On WordPress, I’m “gipsika”.

You can find me on Twitter @lyzrusso and also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Lyz-Russo
and www.facebook.com/pkaboo.net

Thanks for stopping by to meet Lyz. I’ll see you again!