Thursday, September 07, 2023

War of the Sea - Kickstarter by Dana Claire #FantasyRomance #Kickstarter

War of the Sea - Kickstarter
Olympian Wars
Book One
Dana Claire

Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Chamberlain Publishing House
ISBN: 9798987263563
Number of pages: 270
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Brush Media Group

Tagline: A bargain. A brigand. A battle for the sea.

Book Description:

His powers could save the ocean. Her vendetta could sink a kingdom.

Captain Elouise Farrington, the youngest pirate on the Caviar Sea, seeks revenge on her father’s killer. But when her oddly hypnotic foe proposes a pact to kill the Siren Queen and end the War of the Sea’s bloodshed, she must make a choice. Put aside her long-brewing retribution or act the underhanded pirate and use the alliance to claim the life of the man who destroyed her family?

Captain Rylander Bordeaux, the revered royal navy captain of the Isle of Cava, has one mission—kill the Siren Queen and end the War of the Sea. The ocean is the only place Rylander calls home, but to bring peace to his beloved waves, he must defeat his past so he can reshape the future. His greatest hope is Captain Elouise, who calls to him like no siren song ever has. Too bad she’s almost as bloodthirsty as the fanged heart-eaters themselves. She promises to lend her all-female crew to his war on the sirens, but can he trust a brigand—especially one who wants him dead—to uphold her end of the bargain? Or will she be his undoing?



Our mouths met once again, hungry and desperate, as I lifted her into my arms. Her chemise rose and bunched in between us. My palms cupped her exposed thighs, urging them to encircle my waist. I walked us backward to the bed, never breaking our kiss, and slowly lowered her down, careful to bear my weight against my forearm. I savored the softness of her lips, the warmth of her breath mingling with mine, as her fingers wove into my hair. Pleasure and pain radiated through my scalp as she pulled the ends with her iron grip, her moans urging me on. With my free hand, I explored her, tracing the lines of her neck, the softness of her breasts. Her body arched in response, a silent plea for more.

I continued my journey, my hand tracing the curve of her hip, slipping beneath her knee, and wrapping her leg around me once more. The connection between us grew stronger, an unspoken understanding that we were meant to be entwined, a meeting of souls. And then, with a surge of anticipation, I pressed into her, feeling her heat and the electric pulse of our bodies against one another.

She pulled back, her eyes locking onto mine, reflecting a hunger and longing that mirrored my own. A mischievous smile played upon her lips as her fingers toyed with the button on my trousers. But before she undid it, I heard a noise. Footsteps.

“It’s probably a good idea to tell you both I’m in the room.” Smitter’s voice sounded somewhere behind me, way too close to the bed, to us.

I jumped backward, lost my balance, and stumbled to the floor. My rear landed hard. Lou swathed herself in a wad of sheets.

“I had hoped you’d come up for air, but there’s really no good way to interrupt.” He waved in between us.

“I’m going to kill you,” I growled from the floor. Out of all the times my uncle had popped in and out of a room, this had to be the most invasive and humiliating.

“Why would you …? I can’t— Don’t you ever do that again,” Lou shouted, horrified. Her hands balled around the sheets. Flushed like a sunburned noble, she volleyed her gaze between me, half clothed on the floor, and Smitter. Her knotted hair stuck up on top of her head.

“Yes, I realize it’s not great timing, but the two of you need your rest. We drop anchor tomorrow on the perimeter of Anthemusa. The men have already been moved to the soundproof rooms. And we need to strategize how you’ll slay the Siren Queen, now that our first plan is no longer viable.” Smitter’s concerned brown eyes found mine. “Also, your aunt said this isn’t the right time for”—he swirled a finger in our general direction—“this.”

Lou’s brows contorted. “What? Who is your aunt?” She gaped at me.

I waved Lou off. Aunt Artemis, the goddess of childbirth, would know when Lou should abstain, but I wasn’t about to have that conversation. I bent my knees, resting my elbows on my thighs, and rubbed my temples. My family had truly outdone themselves. Not a single boundary nor a clue as to how their incessant involvement could be a nuisance.

About the Author:

DANA CLAIRE is an award-winning author whose stories explore identity, fate, and destiny in the crossroads of romance and adventure. 

Her love of romantic tension and the supernatural effortlessly translates into spine-tingling action and unforgettable characters. 

She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her adoring husband living her dreams: writing books, telling stories, and changing the world, one reader at a time. 

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Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Outcast Artist in Bretagne WWII Heartbreak and Forbidden Love by Diane Scott Lewis

Outcast Artist in Bretagne 
WWII Heartbreak and Forbidden Love
Diane Scott Lewis

Genre: Historical Romance 
Publisher: BWL publishing, inc.
Date of Publication: May 1, 2023
ISBN-10: ‎0228625505
ISBN-13: ‎978-0228625506
Number of pages: 370
Word Count: 98,000
Cover Artist: Michelle Lee

Tagline:  Can a damaged Englishwoman find love with her worst enemy, or will the brutality of war rip them apart? Is she a spy? Will he retaliate against Hitler? A dangerous love affair.

Book Description:  

Unwed and pregnant, Norah Cooper flees England to hide with her cousin in Brittany just before Germany’s 1940 invasion of France. After her baby is stillborn, she's trapped under the Occupation as war expands across Europe. Norah grieves and consoles herself by sketching wildlife. When she’s caught too near the coast, she comes under scrutiny of the German commandant, Major August von Gottlieb.

August loathes what Hitler is doing to his country and France but is duty-bound to control the people in his jurisdiction. The lively young Englishwoman piques his interest. Is she a spy? He questions her and asks her to sketch his portrait so he might uncover the truth.

Soon, their relationship evolves into a passion neither of them can deny. She endures taunts from the villagers. His superiors warn him of not being harsh enough—he could be transferred or worse. He plans to sabotage a major war machine of the Reich, while she secretly helps the Resistance. Both acts are fraught with danger while kept secret from one another. Will their love ruin her and end in heartbreak? Or will they overcome the odds and survive the surging threats on all sides?



August unlocked the cottage door. The area was quiet, with only crickets chirping in the darkness. He stepped into the dim foyer. His anger and the sense of betrayal, mixed with injured pride, had started to dissipate, even after dealing with the sudden weapons search. Thankfully, none were found, except the old man with a pistol that didn’t even fire. He let the elderly man return to his home after a dire warning. Still, assassins could be among the villagers.

Norah must be what mattered most this instant. August ached to be with her—to discuss and smooth out their turmoil. To make certain she avoided more risks and complied. His heart burned for her in a way he never thought possible. And, with soldiers everywhere, he didn’t want to leave her alone too long.

He crept into the bedroom. She lay, wrapped in sheets on the bed, her breathing even. Last night, with sleep eluding him, he’d come to the cottage, twice, to check that she was safe, but never went inside.

He undid his belt and removed his tunic, fingers fumbling. Pulling off his boots, he reached over and placed his hand on her hip. “Norah,” he whispered.

She gasped and jerked upright in the bed.

“It’s me, don’t be afraid.” Would she order him out?

“August?” She gripped the sheet to her chest over a cotton nightgown.

“I wanted to be certain you are all right. I shouldn’t have woken you.” He hadn’t wanted her to wake and be frightened that a person was there.

She rubbed her face. “I can’t think. Are we going to talk?”

He sat in the chair near the bed, his reproaches further fading at the sight of her wide eyes and tousled hair in the shadows. Yet his trust had been damaged. “Go back to sleep. I’ll stay right here.”

“No, please, come to bed.” She flipped back the sheet. “We’ll talk in the morning.”
“I’m still not happy about what you were doing. You were irresponsible; the danger is real.” He hesitated. Somehow, they had to find their way back to where they’d been.

“I know. You’re disappointed and upset, but please come to bed.” Her drowsy, sad voice tugged at him. “I love you and promise no more carelessness.”

Standing, he slipped off his trousers and unbuttoned his shirt. He climbed into bed still in his underclothes, and she snuggled close, her back to him. She smelled exotic, of jasmine. He pulled the sheet over them both. Finally, he draped his arm over her, the warm softness of her, and tried to sleep. She clasped his hand and held it to her breasts.

The next morning, August sat at the little table and raked his fingers through his hair. The sun was strong, reflected in the windows, showing they’d slept late.

Norah set two cups of coffee before them and sat. “I don’t have sugar, but here’s milk.” She nudged the little earthenware pitcher toward him. In her faded, flowered robe, blonde hair with reddish hints past her shoulders, she looked so young and vulnerable. The thirteen-year difference stretched between them.

He grasped her hand. “We must mend our quarrel. But I need to be certain that you’ll never attempt such activities again. That you are finished, and I can trust you. Our feelings are sincere.”

“My love is true, I swear. I should have thought how much it would put you in danger. I was reckless, like I said.” She squeezed his hand, her gaze direct and slightly contrite at the same time. “I’m finished. You can search the cottage.”

“No, that isn’t necessary.” He had to believe her. “But I’m firm on this. No more.”

“I understand. Everything is gone.” Her voice cracked.

“I worried more for you than me.” He raised her hand and kissed her sweet flesh. “If Schmidt found out, it would have been difficult to protect you. He could go over my head, and the scandal might have ruined us before we could discreetly leave.”


About the Author:

Diane Parkinson (Diane Scott Lewis) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, joined the Navy at nineteen, married in Greece and raised two sons all over the world, including Puerto Rico and Guam. 

A member of the Historical Novel Society, she wrote book reviews for the Historical Novels Review. Diane worked from 2007 to 2010 as an on-line historical editor. Writing since the age of five, she had her debut novel published in 2010, a story that takes place during the French Revolution. She’s had several historical and historical-romance novels published between 2010 and 2021. 

Her newest novel, a WWII romantic suspense, released in May. A fan of graphic arts, she’s designed brochures and book covers. She also enjoys traveling and camping. Her extensive traveling inspired her love of history.
Diane lives with her husband and dachshund in western Pennsylvania.

For more on her books visit her blog:

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Friday, August 18, 2023

My Only Event This Season - Saturday, September 2 in Charlotte Michigan at A Festival of Oddities 2023

 I'm only doing one event this year because I'm on deadline for my next book ( Haunted Hotels of Michigan) and it's The Kid's senior year.

He's in marching band which happens at the same time as spooky season. So my weekends in October are filled with marching band competitions.  I usually only get to go to one or two of his comps because I have a bunch of events and signings. I'm going to every one of his comps this year since it's his last 🙁 

*cue emotional mom tears*

So if you want to see me and get a signed book, you have one day only...

Saturday, September 2 in Charlotte Michigan at A Festival of Oddities 2023. 

This year the event will be both Saturday and Sunday but I will ONLY be there on Saturday.

Saturday, September 2 from 11-6pm 
as part of this year's Living Library.

The Living Library features the area's best true crime, paranormal, and horror authors. 

Come meet your faves, buy autographed copies of their books, 
and hear about what they're working on next!

Author Nicole Beauchamp, Tobin T. Buhk, Author Jenn Carpenter, Tom Carr author, R.J. Lloyd (Colleen Nye), Roxanne Rhoads, Ruin Road, Rod Sadler, Author, Kory M. Shrum, Exie Susanne Smith - Spiritual Medium - Energy Reader, Author Allison Spooner, and Kathleen Rydel Tedsen to this year's festival!

I will have copies of Haunted Flint & Ghosts and Legends of Genesee and Lapeer Counties.


100 W. Lawrence Avenue
Charlotte, Michigan

Sat, Sept 2: 11am-6pm
Sun, Sept 3: 11am-4pm

Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Girl Who Knew Death by Norm Harris #ParanormalSuspenseThriller

The Girl Who Knew Death
Spider Green Mystery Thriller Series  
Book Four
Norm Harris

Genre: Paranormal Suspense Thriller 
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: May 2022
ISBN: 1509242317
Cover Artist: Diana Carlile

Tagline: Fast-paced action, unpredictable twists, and extraordinary encounters.

Book Description:

Katrinka Lavrova, who was rescued by Spider Green and is her adopted daughter, must face her destiny and is just coming of age into her role as a princess when she is thrown into an Egyptian prison. Katrinka manages to escape with the help of young Latina American Embassy Guard, Marine Corporal Lopez, forcing Spider to navigate stormy international waters again to save her.

Katrinka finds herself in flight, she and Spider also attract the attention of the demon Mazikim, who introduces further confrontations and impossible dilemmas as the two women struggle towards freedom and an elusive truth that will change their lives and relationship yet again.

As Kat steps into her roles as an adopted daughter, a Russian military agent, a future Russian princess, and an uncommon friend of Azrael, the Angel of Death, readers receive a powerful story that weaves elements of paranormal encounters into the center of the international intrigue that powers the plot.

Like its predecessors, The Girl Who Knew Death excels in the fast-paced action, unpredictable twists, and injections of extraordinary encounters that are the trademark of author Norm Harris's special brand of female-driven thrillers.

About the Author: 

With writing and publishing in his veins, Norm created a fictional Spider Green Mystery Thriller Series of print and audio-books. Norm Harris' first novel debuted on an Amazon bestseller list in 2002. It was a one-and-done, but now he's back with a plan to publish the mystery/thriller of days gone by.

Except for time spent in military service, he is a second-generation Seattleite (that's what they call those who dwell in the shadow of Mt. Rainier), with his legal beagle son, K-K, and five giant tropical fish. Norm's stories spring from his memories of people who he has met and the places he has visited as he traveled the world. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are foremost in each story. "Fay is an admirable, tough, brilliant protagonist." said one reviewer. Said another, "Lt Commander Faydra Green from the JAG Corps is a “take no prisoners” protagonist..."

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed the stories please consider leaving a review!

The Siphoning by D.T. Stubblefield

The Siphoning 
The Redemption Series
Book One
D.T. Stubblefield

Genre: Fantasy 
Publisher: D.T. Stubblefield 
Date of Publication: September 4, 2023
ISBN: 8987848906 
Number of pages: 385
Word Count: approx. 106,000
Cover Artist: BeauteBook 

Tagline: Warring Worlds Align Against an Ancient Evil

Book Description: 

The Goddess is good. The Goddess is pure.

Assassin Drakon Deathmark has heard those mantras his entire life. It’s not until he comes face-to-face with her that he realizes she’s more demon than deity.

Drakon conceals his innate power while yearning for the magic derived from the goddess’s blessing, which is reserved for nobility.

When a treacherous mission goes awry, he uncovers a prophecy pitting him against an ancient evil intent on vengeance. Drakon and his allies must defeat a demon masquerading as a goddess, her growing Army, and unravel millennia of deceit before she lays waste to their world.

For Drakon, the path to survival means overcoming past trauma and possibly relinquishing the power he has worked so hard to acquire.

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Drakon heaved himself through the open third-story window. His black cloak flowed about him, concealing him in shadow. His muscles quivered from the rapid ascent. Below, the clamp of boots and a muttered conversation passed beneath the window and then receded.

Another close call.

This made the fourth such encounter of the night. He lived by a rule: two close calls and he would abort a mission. Each time he ignored this simple rule, something untoward happened. His survival instincts screamed for him to turn back and return another night but time was short, and he was dangerously close to missing his deadline. The manor grounds were an ant colony of activity, and it took him longer than expected to make it this far. Seconds dripped by, increasing his chances of being discovered.

Discovery meant death.

Silently, he settled into the wooden floorboards. No groan of protest announced his entry. Crouching, Drakon pulled the cowl of his cloak lower and drifted wraith-like into the chamber. A breeze swept inward. The cool, crisp air did nothing to purify the overwhelming stench of incense hanging in the bedchamber.

A light orb floated overhead, casting the chamber in a warm yellow glow, elongating the shadows in which Drakon hid. Art canvases of all sizes hung on the stone walls, ornate furniture adorned every square inch, and a massive four-poster bed overflowing with furs stood at the chamber’s center.

Drakon curled his lip in disdain. The warden’s blatant show of wealth was in contrast to the poverty of the people he lorded over. Another warden charged with the well-being of commoners lining his pockets from the people’s labor. He hadn’t expected much humility from a noble, and even less from a mage such as the Jenna City Warden.

Drakon’s orders from the king were clear. The warden was to appear to have died of natural causes. Drakon wasn’t privy to the transgression the man committed to garner himself a spot on the king’s kill list. The reason was inconsequential. He didn’t care, nor did he mete out judgments. The Royal Council dealt with such things. He was but the gnarled hand of death employed to dole out the punishment. Drakon recalled the death and poverty he witnessed while traversing the Commoner District of the city and grimaced. He would enjoy killing this warden.
The bedchamber was empty, as Drakon knew it would be. He committed his mark’s routine to memory. The warden was middle-aged, but his habit of nightly drinking and debauchery was legendary throughout the Kingdom of Somorrah.

Drakon’s gaze searched the chamber for the warden’s favorite vice. There. A pitcher and glass sat on a table next to the bed; remnants of red wine stained the bottom of the glass. Drakon removed a vial from his cloak. A colorless, odorless liquid sloshed within its clear container. He would add one drop into the glass, and the deed would be done. He would send word of the mission’s completion to the king. Afterward, he might take an overdue leave of absence.

He moved toward the table. Laughter and shuffling footsteps from outside the closed door froze him halfway across the chamber. The doorknob turned, and the door banged open. Drakon threw himself into the shadows of a wardrobe. Sounds of merriment drifted into the room and then were muted as the door snicked shut.

The warden was early. Drakon hadn’t expected him until nearer to dawn. He cursed inwardly. He couldn’t wait in the shadows until the man passed out. The king made his instructions all too clear. The warden was to die before sunrise. Drakon gritted his teeth. He would have to improvise. He hated improvising. It reduced his chances of an undetected escape, but what other choice was there?

He pocketed the vial and pressed against the wardrobe. The warden, red-faced and inebriated, stumbled on unsteady legs toward the bed, hauling a struggling woman behind him. He was small and slender, manual labor having never sculpted the muscles of his body. Like all wardens, he was also a magical mage. The man’s diminutive physique was no indication of his power.

Alabaster skin inked with tattoos peeked from the warden’s robes, testaments of his magical aptitude. Only his face was unmarred. Each tattoo was a rune etched to guard the warden against the harmful effects of drawing the goddess’s power. Such power came with a price, and the wardens protected themselves with the tattoos.

The warden’s hair was a dirty blond, and his skin was pale but not an unearthly translucent. A mage’s hair, eyes, and skin lightened with their growth in magic. This mage wasn’t as strong as the others Drakon killed. His tongue prodded a void a molar once occupied as a reminder of past battles against magical enemies. Thank the goddess for small mercies.

A sob drew his attention to the woman the warden dragged in tow. She was waif-like. Oily black hair concealed her face, and her chestnut skin identified her as a commoner. Her threadbare dress was torn at the neck and thin enough to see through. She was probably a slave. He resigned himself to the possibility of collateral. From the look of her, death would be preferable to her current lot in life. He could give her that escape, at least.

The warden yanked the woman forward. She struggled all the more, whimpering and pleading for release. The warden cursed and slapped her hard enough to snap her head back. The blow whipped her face toward Drakon and freed it from its curtain of dirty hair.

Drakon’s eyes flared. A face smooth with youth was decorated with black and blue bruises and a split lip. Terror-filled eyes glistened with tears and, more disturbing, resignation. This was no woman as he initially believed. It was a young girl.

The warden slapped the girl again. The crack ricocheted off the walls, and she slumped dazed into the warden’s arms. Having subdued her struggles, the man dragged her to the bed and flung her across it. She curled into a tight ball and whimpered. The warden grabbed her thin ankle and yanked her toward the edge of the bed.

“Quit your yammering!” He climbed atop her, clasping her wrists in one hand. “You should be honored that I would bring a smut like you to my bed!”

Blood pounded in Drakon’s ears. Unbidden, dark memories rushed to the surface of his mind.

A slave child. Powerless. Drakon blinked and shook his head, trying to dislodge the memory.

Nausea rolled through him. His blood heated in his veins.

Hay scratching tender skin.


With effort, he forced the memories back, slamming the door on their mental prison. Yet, the rage left in their wake had Drakon darting silently from the shadows and toward the warden, who tore at the girl’s clothing, before he realized he was moving.

The warden stiffened with awareness, some part of his inebriated psyche realizing they were not alone.

Too late. Drakon’s blade slipped in the hollow at the base of the man’s skull. The body jerked. Drakon twisted, severing the spine, and yanked the dagger free. The body slumped forward.

Blood gushed from the wound, coating the bed and the startled girl beneath. He pushed the body aside and freed her.

Wide, oddly ancient eyes––much too knowing for a child—peered back at him from a tear-streaked face mottled with bruises. She sucked in a deep breath, a preamble to a scream. His hand clamped over her mouth.

“Do. Not. Scream. I won’t harm you, but you will remain silent.” He stared into her shining, unblinking eyes.

“Nod if you understand.”

She nodded slowly, and he peeled his hand away, ready to place it back. She didn’t scream but sat up and eyed him with caution. He grabbed an unsoiled coverlet from the bed and tossed it at her.

“Cover yourself and get out of here. Tell no one of what you’ve seen.”

Even as he uttered the command, he knew he was being a fool. The only way to ensure her silence was to kill her, but he couldn’t bring himself to kill an innocent. No doubt, her short life was filled with atrocities for which this night was but a culmination. Her petite frame trembled beneath the coverlet.

No. Drakon was not so far gone that he would kill a slave girl. His soul was black and withered, but he had not delivered it to the pits of Targarius. Not yet.

The girl’s throat worked. “Th–thank you.” Her voice was an unsteady whisper in the quiet chamber.

He cleared his throat. Her thanks unsettled him for reasons he didn’t want to acknowledge. He turned, focusing on the warden, and grimaced at the mess he had made. Blood soaked the bed beneath the corpse and pooled on the floor. A frozen mask of surprise rested on the man’s face. His pale-blue eyes locked on the nothingness of death. Already pale skin drained of its color as blood leaked from the body.

Drakon took in the tattooed runes on the warden’s skin. All that power and useless against a simple dagger. In the mage’s assurance in his magical superiority, he never suspected or spelled against nonmagical attacks. It was the way of nobles—arrogance above intellect.

Drakon sighed. The man’s death would never pass for natural causes. His moment of untethered emotion destroyed weeks of planning. The outburst he exhibited was out of character. His lapse of control annoyed him, but he couldn’t dwell on it. He had to plan his next steps, or they would be his last.

There was only one recourse left to him. He would remove himself from the city before the warden’s body was discovered. But before he fled, he would retrieve the other reason he was eager for this mission. He bent over the body, rummaging through the folds of the robes.

“Where is it?”

He rolled the corpse on its stomach and patted it down. He cursed. Nothing.

The warden always carried an object of power when he visited Sura City. Indeed, this mission excited Drakon for this reason. Desire to own such an object clouded his logic. In hindsight, it went to reason the warden would travel to court with additional protection. Nobles and commoners alike distrusted the king and the royal mage. The Jenna Warden would’ve been a fool not to travel with safeguards. However, the man wouldn’t carry such items in his dwelling.

He should have understood this sooner.

Drakon stood with a grunt of frustration, wiped his blade on his leathers, and returned it to its sheath. If the mission went according to plan, he would’ve had time to search the chamber. As it were, he would be leaving without his prize.

He spared a glance at the girl. Shock had yet to release her from its grasp. If the warden’s guards found her, they would sacrifice her in Drakon’s stead. He hoped she didn’t waste his gift of mercy. She would live or die by her action or inaction alone.

He sprinted to the window and glanced out. No sentries stood guard or moved across the grounds. That was good, and no one would enter the warden’s chamber until the maid arrived for the morning cleaning. Drakon would be long gone by then. As if summoned by the thought, a creak sounded from the door.

“Rainore? What the devil is taking so long? Finish with the—”

A slender man, clad in nothing more than skin and his mage tattoos, stopped mid-stride into the room. His pale-blue eyes locked on Drakon’s cloaked figure, widened, and then flicked to the body cradled in a crimson stain on the bed.

He screamed.

About the Author: 

D.T. Stubblefield was born and raised in a rural town in South Carolina. After reading Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, she was certain she would grow up to be an amazing writer. Those plans were placed on hold when she decided to study mass communications and not creative writing in college. After graduating, much to the disappointment of her seven-year-old self, D.T. did not become a writer or journalist, instead, she entered the world of the federal government as an editor and eventually became a manager.

Craving an outlet from the pressures of her job, D.T. did what she always did during stressful periods: she wrote. She wrote the beginnings of many novels (some of which were so bad they will never see the light of day!). She wrote during her lunch breaks, in the middle of the night, and on the weekends.

Until one day, D.T. wrote a story she fell in love with. A story that she couldn’t wait to share with the world. She wrote a story set in a kingdom trapped within a magical barrier, terrorized by monsters, and where an assassin was foretold to unite warring peoples and overthrow a demonic goddess. 

The premise of The Siphoning was born six years ago while D.T. sat in evening traffic on I-495, and now she is ready to share it with the world.

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August 15 through September 5

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Author Interview- An Otherwise Perfect Plan: A Novel of Mystery, Love and of Chocolate that Defies Description by Ken Schafer

What inspired you to become an author?

There was no one person or thing that inspired me.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t devouring books, and when I went to the NYU film program, the way to get a film made was to write the script and then get enough people behind it who wanted to work with you on it.

Back then I was delusional enough to think I ultimately wanted to be a director; and the path that I chose to pursue was to create material that I would own, and hopefully leverage that into a directing job. 

Like every writer I know, I was very critical of my own work but when a producer came to NYU and wanted to meet with the top 10 writers in the program, the chairman of the film program picked me as one of the ten, which gave me a big enough boost of confidence for me to actually try and pursue it as a career.

Do you write in different genres?

Oh yes.  Not only different genres, but different mediums.  I’ve written a variety of feature screenplays, from straight thrillers, to ghost stories to comedies and even straight dramas.  I’ve also written Children’s Picture Books, a satirical musical (including all lyrics), TV Shows (ranging from Northern Exposure to Star Trek:TNG) along with two novels: the first being an adaptation of one of my screenplays, a historical/fantasy entitled Greensleeves set in the mid 1500’s mixing the historical record with the historical “mythology” of the time about Elves, The Wild Hunt and more.

If yes which is your favorite genre to write?

I don’t think I have one.  I love the variety as it keeps things fresh.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

Actually, that was a bit of a challenge.  Initially, it was the titled in the point of the view of the main character “Welcome to the Longest Run-On Sentence in the Entire History of the English Language, Or, How I Saved my Future by Digging up my Past.” However, as I started talking about this to people I found myself saying “oh, just look it up by my name as it’s simpler” which kind of pointed out that there was a problem.

I then brainstormed and came up with six different titles and put together mock-up of the title pages.  As the novel is a YA Coming-of-Age story, I then approached my daughter’s old middle school and high school and an English teacher from both schools were willing to present my mock-ups to their classes and host a little discussion about them.

The results were fairly consistent but the top contender I realized didn’t capture the sense of humor in the book, and when I gave them a short writing sample from it, they pretty much all agreed with my choice “An Otherwise Perfect Plan” as better reflecting the actual book.

This title came from a line in the book “the only problem with this otherwise brilliant little plan” but I decided to adapt it to Perfect Plan as that better tracked with the more common version of the saying, plus had a nice alliteration.

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

It depends.  A number of times the title came at the same time as the premise, like “A Death with Brush” which was about a painter who fakes his own death to become famous and make his paintings worth more.  Other times, the premise or hook or initiating scene didn’t spur any specific title, in which case I will find it at the very end.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes, though the book’s elements were inspired by rather than based on.  Since it is a YA book told by a teenage girl and I am neither of those, I drew heavily on what my daughter and her friends were doing/experiencing at that age.

The main character, Gwen, and her fascination with books was based on my daughter and many of her friend’s voracious reading appetites, and a lot of Gwen’s interactions with her friend Peter are reminiscent of how I saw my daughter interact with some of her friends.

The only two elements that were directly lifted from real events/people was one of my daughter’s friends had an absolutely massive cat named Buddha, and that combination was too good not to steal.  Similarly, one of her friends became obsessed with the Hunger Games to the point of wanting to change her name which inspired the whole business with Peter wanting to be called Peeta, except they live in Boston, home of the silent R.  So wanting to be called Peeta, rather than Peetah is kind of insane in its own right.

And finally, Gwen, and I share a lot in common, particularly in our ability to find the ridiculous interpretations of common things.  Such as every time I watch a TV show which has an opening card saying Viewer Discretion Advised, I think, “What, they really don’t want us talking about it to other people?”

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

I actually really enjoyed writing Gwen, because I immediately heard her voice, and she was someone who was fun to hang around with.  Her relationship to the reader was also really fun, because she was not only narrating her story in real-time, but she was also aware of her readers and wasn’t afraid to talk directly to them.  For example, at one point she tells the readers to remind her not to do something ever again, then berates them for being absolutely no help when she repeats it a second time.

At another point she tells the readers to go away and read some other book for a while because she’s busy reading something important and she’ll get back to them when she done.  It’s a fun breaking of the fourth wall, and also implies that time is passing in the book at the same speed as it is in the reader’s world, which is a little trippy…

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

It wasn’t written with the intention of it being part of series though it’s gotten such incredibly great reviews, and in fact several reviewers explicitly wanted it to be part of a series, so I’ve begun the process of noodling through what the next book might look like. 

I think it will be set a year or two after this one and be Gwen at Yale dealing with a mystery of some sort, though I’ve yet to come up with more specific details.  In this case, I do have a good idea of its title, which would be “An Otherwise Perfect Year.” 

An Otherwise Perfect Plan: A Novel of Mystery, Love and of Chocolate that Defies Description
Ken Schafer

Genre: Contemporary Literary YA
Publisher: Moon Jumper Press
Date of Publication: July 31, 2023
ISBN: 9-781958-4560-33
ASIN: 1958456039
Number of pages: 274
Word Count: 95K
Cover Artist: Kendall Ohlsen

Tagline: Gwen Pendergrass has a problem

Book Description:

Life hasn’t been easy for Gwen Pendergrass as a free-lunch student living with her mom in a one-bedroom apartment whose tiny, Marquis de Sade-inspired kitchen seems intent on inflicting grave bodily harm. The only thing making life palatable is her neighbor, Peter, a loner like herself who goes to the same high school, and who shares her love of books, banter, and endless reflection on the absurd¬ities of the universe. 

When Gwen’s mom receives a once-in-a-lifetime oppor¬tunity to reclaim the life she’d given up due to Gwen’s unplanned birth, Gwen is beyond ecstatic...up until her mom says she has to reject the offer, because they don’t have the savings and can’t afford to take advantage of it.

Gwen cannot, will not, let this happen, no matter the cost. She intercepts the rejection letter her mom was mailing, then ropes Peter into a Hail Mary of a scheme to find her father, undeterred by knowing utterly nothing about him—not even his name!—and only having a strip of photographs of him and her mom, taken in a photo booth somewhere in Las Vegas the weekend of her conception to go on.

And while she receives surprising help from unexpected allies, before she knows it, her white lies, scheming, and emotional roller coaster start to make a mess of everything, and it quickly becomes a race to find her dad before her mom catches on, her head explodes, or it all spirals completely out of control.

Amazon     BN     MoonJumperPress

Chapter 1 In which my English teacher completely loses it

I can’t believe he’s still obsessed.

I don’t know how long ago it was, but way back before it was even a “thing,” my best friend—formerly known as Peter—started baking. Well,  perhaps that’s not exactly the right verb, because what comes out of his oven bears about as much resemblance to bread as it does to, say, reinforced concrete.

Now, why a teenage boy who’s built like a refrigerator is baking bread in the first place is a whole other story. The short version is that it’s my fault, because I was the one who gave him the book The Hunger Games for his birthday. If you’ve been living in a cave for the past couple of decades or are reading this in some far distant future where no one knows who Katnis Everdeen is, well, it kind of sucks to be you because it’s a really great book.

The long version would probably require a panel of psychologists, years of intensive therapy, and a whole lot of dark chocolate to get through, but suffice it to say while the rest of the world was kind of fixated on the whole kids-killing-kids part of the book, what does Peter take from it? That boys can bake.

Yeah, go figure.

Oh, and of course, since the character in the book who bakes bread is named Peeta, Peter decided that was his new name. The only problem with this otherwise brilliant little plan is that we live here in Boston, home of the silent “R”. You know, Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd and all that. So insisting that he be called Peeta rather than, well, Petah, is kind of insane in its own right.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself what a sixteen-year-old girl is doing with a boy as her best friend, or you would have, had I gotten around to telling you I was a sixteen year-old girl. Well, surprise! I am, my name’s Gwen Pendergrass (and don’t get me started on the baggage that last name comes with!), and he is, so you might as well just start dealing with the concept.

Or you could move on to some other book entirely, one which could perhaps be reasonably called “intelligible.” And I wouldn’t fault you; I mean, my mom’s the writer anyway, as you might’ve guessed from all this incoherent ranting. She can’t spell to save her life, but neither could Shakespeare, so there you go. Me, well, I’m not quite sure what I am, but I’m sixteen, so lay off, I’ll figure it out eventually.

Okay. Start at the beginning, Mom always tells me, so here goes: I was born. At the usual age and in the usual manner. Or at least so I’ve been told, as it’s not like I actually remember it at all. Which is probably all for the best, what with all the squeezing, screaming and crying that I’ve heard goes on. In any case, it’s always been just my mom and me, and since I’m not much of a believer in virgin birth or parthenogenesis (see Mom, I do pay attention in biology class! Well, at least sometimes...) I’ve always assumed Dad was out there somewhere. I even have a small strip of pictures of him and Mom in some photo booth at a casino in Vegas. They both look kind of drunk but really happy, which I supposed explains a lot. Me in particular. Or at least my aforementioned birth nine months later.

But as I was saying, Dad’s never been in the picture—or outside of the Vegas ones, if you take my meaning—and while I’m not thrilled with the idea, for the most part I don’t dwell on it. It’s just my life, such as it is.

If you’ve happened to do the math—which I can assure you I would never do in your place—you’ll have figured out I’m a high school soph, which is just about as much fun as it sounds. In English class, we’ve just finished reading Oedipus Rex—you know, that timeless story of a boy who kills his father and marries his mother, something high school students throughout history have always deeply related to.

“, using Oedipus’s failed relationship with his father as an inspiration,” my English teacher, the inimitable Mrs. Beecham, tells us as we’re scrambling to get all our stuff into our backpacks, “you’re going to write about your earliest recollection of you and your father doing something meaningful together. Something other than going to his parole hearing, watching TV or playing video games.”

My fellow students let out the traditional collective groan of dismay, which Mrs. Beecham, just as traditionally, ignores. “And make it good, people,” she tells us. “Because if I get one more essay on my dad made me toast while momma was away, we’re doing six weeks of James Joyce. Solid.”

James Joyce, in case you’re fortunate enough not to know, is the Mount Everest of writers. You read him because it’s such grueling, hard going that at the end you can plant a flag on the book and say I prevailed; I reached the summit of Mt. Joyce without the aid of Sherpas or oxygen tanks, and I lived to tell the tale.

However, as I bet there aren’t more than two other people in the room who have any idea who the heck he is, the whole threat thing is kind of pointless. But as I said, Mom’s a writer, so I know this stuff enough to shudder at the thought.

The rest of my classmates start filing out, scrambling to get to their next class before the bell rings.

“Three pages, typed,” she calls after them. “And rough drafts by next Wednesday.”

And then it’s just me, standing in front of her desk. I want to ask if I can approach the bench, but I have a feeling it won’t go over all that well.

“Yes, what is it?” Mrs. Beecham asks with a sigh. Actually, she adds a put-upon sigh as punctuation to every one-on-one interaction I’ve ever seen her have. She once even got so exasperated with us kids for “pestering her for clarifications” that she’d slammed a book down on her desk. “I’m here to teach,” she’d told us in the resulting stunned silence. “Not to answer questions.”

When the time comes, I’m going to push for getting that inscribed on her gravestone like a family motto.

“Um, I never knew my father,” I tell her.

“Consider yourself lucky. Most of ’em are pigs anyway.”

Not what I was expecting. But she’s on a roll, now.

“If I hadn’t met my kids’ father, I would have been a whole lot better off, let me tell you. For one thing, I can guarantee I’d be doing something worthwhile with my life instead of being stuck here teaching the same junk year after year.”

Well, okay, then. This is going well. I start to ask if I could write about my mom instead, but she’s gone, lost in her own world.

“But they’re classics...” she whines, presumably mimicking some member of the school administration. “Classics my ass,” she tells me. “If you listened to those spineless worms on the school board, you’d think nothing worthwhile had been written since Mark Twain.”

“Uh, that sounds pretty frustrating,” I mumble. “But what should I do about this assignment?”

“Frustrating? You don’t know the meaning of frustrating. You kid all whine and moan about the assignments. Three whole pages. Please. I’ve been doing this same curriculum twice a year for fifteen years. Fifteen years! At sixty, three-page papers a year, do you know how much I’ve read?”

I start doing the math in my head, but she’s plowing onwards, saving me the effort.

“Twenty-seven hundred pages. Twenty-seven hundred pages of mostly incoherent drivel from you people! So don’t you complain, Missy, don’t you dare complain!”

“I wasn’t,” I protest. “I just need to know how to do the assignment without a dad.”

“That’s not really my problem, now, is it?”

“Excuse me?”

She looks down at me over her glasses. “This is a creative writing class. Be creative. Write about how the jerk broke your poor mother’s heart, or about all the lies he told her.”

“I really don’t think it was like that, Mrs. Beecham.”

“Yeah, right. Is he dead?” she demands. I suddenly remember there is no Mr. Beecham. Shocking, I know.

“I don’t think so,” I reply.

She smiles like she’s just checkmated with me. “Then it was like that. Trust me.”

“Hey, Pita Piper,” I call, as I finally come out of school.

He’s standing next to this massive oak tree in the school’s front yard, and he doesn’t dignify my adornment of his name with even the faintest of eye rolls. The tree doesn’t react either, but given that it’s a tree and he’s Peter, neither of these events are particularly surprising.

By the way, have I mentioned how much I love this tree? It’s just brilliant. It’s supposedly been here since long before there was a here, here. And despite its size, it has somehow figured out how to offer no shade at all no matter where the sun is in the sky. I’ve never been able to work out how it manages this trick, but if I had to deal with people carving their names into me and covering me with TP on an annual basis, I wouldn’t give them any shade either.

Peter steps away from the tree and matches strides with me as I pass.

“It’s just Peeta,” he tells me patiently. He’s always patient with me, even when most people would want to throw me in front of a bus. Which may explain why he’s my best friend, I suppose, because if your friends are trying to throw you in front of buses, something is seriously wrong with your life.

I’d met him when we moved into our current apartment building filled with double-income families. Unfortunately, the two incomes tend to both be earned by a single parent working two jobs that together pay in the low to starvation range. Peter’s family is the exception in that he still has both parents, though with all the weed they smoke, you could mash their brains together and the resulting creature still wouldn’t be as sharp as my mom. I wouldn’t particularly want to meet it in a dark alley either, but I guess that’s pretty much a given for anything created from two brains.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice enough and do their best to take care of Peter... it’s just that their best isn’t particularly good.

So where was I? Oh yeah, I was telling you how I met Peter. We’ve moved so many times that I can’t remember where we were coming from, but my job is always to sit on the lawn of the new place and guard our stuff as Mom makes trip after trip in our old station wagon, moving our junk... sorry, our prized possessions... one carload at a time.  

Of the two or three carloads, only two things are really mine: a huge box of books, and a ratty suitcase filled with hand-me-down clothes which are always somehow mostly smaller than I currently am, but which are insufficiently worn out to be replaced.

Of these, I only really care about my books and my clothes can go up in flames for all I care. Well, as long as I’m not wearing them at the time.

But back to yet another move. Mom was off on her second or third trip and there I was, bored out of my mind, so I decided to break open my book box and see if Frankenstein was anywhere close to the top. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite books... and yes, I know, that makes me officially weird. Most of my generation don’t want to have anything to do with something more than twenty minutes old and my favorite book just had its two-hundredth birthday.

If you’ve never read it, trust me, it’s nothing like what you expect. In some ways, Dr Frankenstein is even more of a monster than his creation, and I can totally relate with the monster’s perspective of having the world all around you, but being outside of it, only able to look in. Sure, being the poor kid on the free lunch program isn’t exactly the same as being a reanimated creature too hideous to be gazed upon, but still, not being seen for yourself, can be pretty exhausting either way.

I had settled down and was in the middle of chapter four when the sun pretty much went away. I looked up and found myself in the shadow cast by this really big guy looking down at me.

“Hey,” he said, then apparently realized he was blocking my sun, because he took a large step to his left and it all came streaming back in.

I blinked in the sudden light and tried to place him, but the only thing I could think of was that he could be the monster itself. Well, in size at least, because this guy was anything but hideous to look at.

“So, I was wondering,” he said, “if I could borrow your copy of Frankenstein. When you’re done with it, of course.”

I had no idea who this kid was and considered the obvious questions that brought up, but decided to go straight for an even more basic one. “Why?” I asked, looking up at him, innocently.

At this point in the conversation, most people will just stare at you blankly with a “that does not compute” glaze to their eyes. Like when a waiter bounces up to you and says, “If you need any help, my name is Candy” and you reply “What’s your name if I don’t need any?”

It kind of short-circuits their brain, and you can almost hear the gears whirring as they try to go back and make sense of what you said.

And of course, this is exactly what I expected to happen to Peter. For yes, this is Peter, and this is the moment I’ve been talking about when I first met him.

“Because the rats ate my copy,” he responded patiently, without even a hint of grinding gears, smoke, or glazed look at all. Impressive.

“Everyone’s a critic,” I told him, wondering if he’d follow my logic.

“Actually, they were pretty indiscriminate. They also ate one of my shoes.”

I’m beginning to like this kid, not that I’d ever let him know.

“Right or left?” I asked, as if it somehow mattered.

“Left definitely. I remember Mitch–that’s my dad–saying it was ironic they ate the left shoe because with that one gone, now the right shoe is left.”

Ouch. I did mention that his parents’ brains are kind of cross-wired right? This sort of stuff comes out of their mouths all the time, and a lot of it is actually pretty funny. All the more so, as they have absolutely no idea that it is.

“You know,” I mentioned casually, “lending a book to someone who has rats which eat them is kind of like lending money to someone with a gambling problem.”

“They’re not so much my rats, as rats who pretty much sublet the entire building.”

Great, I’m just loving this new place already.

“If they bother you, though, you can always get coyote urine from Works like a charm. The downside, of course, is that your bedroom smells like a bunch of coyotes peed in it... or you could just embrace the rats as another marvel of nature’s infinite adaptability, and anyway, what’s a little black plague among friends?”

“One of these days,” I commented to the universe at large, “I would really like to live in a place which didn’t involve choosing among bookeating rats, coyote pee and the Black Death.”

“Yeah, that would be nice, wouldn’t it. So, can I borrow your book?”

Since the whole pee thing grossed me out, and having my precious books turned into rat turds was not something I wanted to risk, after we were all moved in he took me to this vacant lot where everyone dumps their junk and we found an old metal filing cabinet that he lugged up to our apartment for me. Must’ve been from the twenties or thirties because this sucker was made of real steel, nothing like that tin foil aluminum stuff they sell nowadays.

Weighed a ton, but it’s been a life saver. Some people have gun safes. Me, I have a book safe. In return, I let him come and read any time he wants.

But back to me, Peter, and the shadeless oak tree that I started talking about like half a chapter ago.

“Can I borrow a memory?” I ask him as we start walking to the green line T-station to catch our train home. Sure, the orange line is closer and takes about a billion fewer stops but what can I say, I like green. And it’s not like we have anything particularly exciting to do once we get to our luxury living accommodations anyway, so why hurry?

Life is the journey, not the destination. Therefore, the longer we can make the journey last, the longer we’ll live. Or something like that.

By the way, for those of you outside of Boston, the “T” is the subway, short for the MTA, which stands for Mediocre Transport Autocracy, or something like that. Some of the stations are actually pretty cool with art and bronzed clothing and stuff.

Ours isn’t one of them.

“I mean it,” I tell him. “I need a memory I can borrow for Mrs. Beecham’s insipid Oedipus-inspired, father/relationships assignment.” He doesn’t respond, just slowly turns and gives me The Look. You know the one: the look that says, “you didn’t really just say that did you?” Which of course I just did, or he wouldn’t have given me The Look in the first place.

So of course I hit him.

Remind me not to do that; the guy’s made of concrete or something because it’s like hitting a brick wall.


As I shake my hand in the air to get some feeling back into it–or at least some feeling other than pain–I glare at him as it were all somehow his fault, but he shrugs, not buying it.

I rub my poor bruised hand as we descend into the open maw of Boylston station. It’s cool and dim in there after the bright afternoon sun, and I fish in my backpack and we flash our Charlie Cards and head out to the platform. A train’s already sitting there so we run for it, taking the stairs two at a time then dashing into the car, just as the doors... well, do nothing.

And they keep on doing nothing for about another ten minutes and we get to watch everyone else do exactly the same thing we just did: see the car from the top of the stairs and risk a broken neck running down to catch the train just before it doesn’t leave.

“It doesn’t have to be a good memory,” I say as we continue to wait. “How about the one when Mitch thought he was the prophet David, or when you went camping and the raccoons found his stash...?” The doors finally slide shut and the car lurches forwards. I plead all the way to our stop in Roxbury, the dissolved municipality we call home. Yep, some people get burgs or boroughs or townships, or even just cool neighborhoods like Angleside, Ravenswood or Pigeon Hill like they have over in Waltham.

Me, I get to live in a dissolved municipality. An alka-seltzer of a former town, whose old buildings often look like they’ve been sitting there dissolving away over the years ever since the proud city of Roxbury was eaten by Boston and dissolved into the melting pot of greater Bostburbia, relegated to a mere backwater of a neighborhood.  But we will never forget!

Well, that’s true, but mostly because nobody ever learns that stuff anymore, because it all happened about a hundred and fifty years ago.

And it’s kind of hard to forget what you never knew. But the principle is sound. And there’s always Wikipedia.

Peter’s still shaking his head ‘no’ as we climb up the four flights to our floor.

“Mitch is a bad enough influence in general,” Peter tells me. “And you, in particular, don’t need another one. Why don’t you write about when your own dad was your imaginary friend?”

“I was about three. And it wasn’t real.”

“It was real to you.”

“Yeah, so was the tooth fairy.”

He looks at me, concerned. “What are you saying?”

“Nothing, I’m sure there are millions of cute little pixies out there who have nothing better to do than collect used teeth.

“They aren’t pixies, they’re fairies. And I’m pretty sure they’re not all that cute. Probably more like Rosie the Riveter with wings.”

I’m fairly sure he’s putting me on, but when you look in the dictionary under deadpan it says: “see Peter.” Well, at least it does since I whited out the old definition and penned that one in.

I know, me, the literary literalist, defacing a book. In my defense, I put a picture of Peter next to the entry which means I actually also face’d the book, so between that and the defacing, it should cancel itself out karmically speaking.

Aaaah, I’m turning into Mitch with his right shoe left thing...! Maybe Peter has a point about him being a bad influence after all.

About the Author:

Ken Schafer started his professional writing career as a screenwriter, working for companies as diverse as Disney, Paramount and ABC, and on projects ranging from a prequel to "Sleeping Beauty" to "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and ABC Night at the Movies.

His passion for all kinds of writing, and the enthusiasm of his daughter for all things word-related, inspired him to branch out to children's books--including his forthcoming "A... is for Ahhhhhhh!" A Halloween Alphabeastiary", and "The Cow who Conquered the Moon"--along with both adult historical/Fantasy novels, and his first YA Novel: "An Otherwise Perfect Plan: A Novel of Mystery, Love, and of Chocolate that Defies Description."

He is repped by Anne McDermott at AM Management, and can usually be found in San Diego along with his wife, and a Schrödinger's Number of Cats.