Sunday, June 28, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Johanna Bordeaux, Author

Johanna Bordeaux, author, has just released WHY HATE THE BILLIONAIRE? a “red-hot romance” that is the first of a series of books about five members of the same family, all encountering a billionaire who desires them. (The Delanys is a series only suitable for those 18 and older.) She tells us that all of her characters begin with part of her, and she set the stories in Boston because she appreciates the “rich history” of Boston.

Bordeaux is a psychotherapist from a medical family and is a mental health counselor. She has a degree in English literature with a specialty in Jane Austen. She is currently working on the next book in the series. She loves dancing—any kind.

Q: I embrace the concept of writing a series of books about five members of the same family. It enables you to write a distinct story for each character (book) but with some familiar background and characters—offering a sense of familiarity many of us enjoy. How did you conceive of the idea? Have you already worked out character traits for each of the sisters? Are they based on real people?

Johanna Bordeaux: I, too, like being able to spend a lot of time with familiar people because it lets me more fully explore the characters as time goes on. Cassidy's siblings, Brianna, Kellee, and Norah, as well as her brother, Niall, were already fully developed as I began to write the book. Each play an important role in WHY HATE THE BILLIONAIRE? as they will in all the books to come.

Q: How do you create your characters—particularly the sisters—so that we readers will embrace them? In WHY HATE THE BILLIONAIRE? Cassidy appears to be a real hero – striving to provide for her siblings. What makes us cheer for her to engage in a romance? Do we want her to succeed?

Johanna Bordeaux: All my characters start with a little bit of me, but I draw from everywhere – family, friends, co-workers, hypnotherapy clients, research, reading, and, of course, my imagination. I'm a psychotherapist in training with and come from a medical family, including psychiatrists, so talking about the construct of the personality, how we think, etc., was dining room conversation as far back as I can remember. I was pre-med and worked in a Women's Clinic so some of Cassidy's stories are true.

Just in general, the oldest sibling in a large family naturally takes on some of the child care responsibility. Essentially, for all her dedication to her family and becoming a doctor, Cassidy Delany is a passionate person. She loves her each one of her siblings deeply and not just because they're family, but for who they are.

Cassidy's the kind of doctor who comes into the field because she relates to each of her patients individually and wants that person to become better. She's like a lot of people I've known where, unlike most people, the only person she's never cared about emotionally is herself and she's been hurt in relationships before. She's spent almost half her life taking care of others while no one's ever really paid attention to her needs. Her romance with Daniel isn't just about satisfying physical needs – although that is an important part of it and any good relationship. Cassidy is like your BFF who's always there when you need her. You want her to be happy and have a better life.

Q: Did your upbringing influence your writing? How important is “family” to you?

Johanna Bordeaux: I'm a lucky woman in that my family has been and is always supportive of whatever I decide to do. They thought it was great when I did every job in film/TV and all of them have really supported my writing. I came from a world where academic achievement was important and the discipline that requires has held over to my writing. The most important people in my life are my niece and nephew. I was so fortunate to get to play a large role in their upbringing and was, in fact, a soccer aunt. And a baseball aunt. And a volleyball aunt. Legos club, art class, summer school…

Q: How relevant is the concept of “heroes vs villains” in WHY HATE THE BILLIONAIRE?

Johanna Bordeaux: Any story needs a conflict and I felt that when your main story centers on a passionate love, the forces against it need to be as strong as that emotion. Because of that, I went more with a villainous feel for the forces against Cassidy and Daniel's success. But you have to remember, the people who play villainous roles in the book consider themselves to be the victims.

Q: Are you writing the series purely to entertain readers, or do you and/or your characters have something you want us to learn? Or a message you want to deliver?

Johanna Bordeaux: I was never the class clown, but I was the kid in the back making jokes to my friends. Sometimes with clients, especially, the best way that I could explain something was with humor or a story.

I like entertaining people and it's important to find a place to escape. Readers do half the work since it's their imagination that brings the writer's words to life. I do put in messages, but it's more about the way I see the world. The biggest problems always seem to stem from communication problems, from not taking the step to be sympathetic and looks at the issues from both sides. I love stories about characters who grow, especially in a romance.

Everybody needs to enjoy themselves and relax, but it'd be great if people read my books and it reaffirmed that whatever the relationships are that you cherish, they require effort, trust, and communication – and that's some of the best parts.

Q: How helpful is setting the story in Boston? Does the city of Boston help to describe your characters or motivate their actions?

Johann Bordeaux: From the moment they put the Dick and Jane primer in front of me, I was reading everything. I'm immensely curious about everything and I've always loved the rich history of Boston in terms of its history and culture.  For a while, I put together scientific and medical meetings. So many of the doctors, researchers and students I knew and were friendly with came from Brookline and Boston that I wanted to celebrate them.

Q: What made you decide to become a writer? Have you written other books, poems, short stories?

Johanna Bordeaux: I don't think you decide to write fiction. You just find yourself doing it. At least that's true for me and most of the writers I know. I've been a short story writer since I was young and have written mainly in the science fiction/fantasy/speculative genre. Writing a novel was a wonderful challenge and a romance…. I really hope it is as much fun for the readers and it was for me to write it. More fun since they don't have to worry about grammar.

Q: What’s next?

Johanna Bordeaux: I'm currently working on the second book in Cassidy and Daniel's trilogy WHY TRUST THE BILLIONAIRE? which will be released this fall. The conclusion, WHY LOVE THE BILLIONAIRE? which will come out in the winter. Brianna's story is in its early stages but I already know the basics about the central relationships for all the Delany Books. For information as to when the books become available, you can subscribe to my mailing list at  If you look at, you can see more about the books and others.  I'm also in the conceptual stages of another Romance series.

Q: Tell us about Johanna Bordeaux. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Johanna Bordeaux: Read everything I can get my hands on. I love practicing hypnotherapy, working out, and most of all, spending time with my truly amazing niece and nephew, and learning new things. I've had a physical set back, but one of my goals is to take at least one flying trapeze lesson. In my spare time, I wrangle cats, hang out with friends, and I love dancing. Any kind!

About Johanna Bordeaux

Johanna Bordeaux grew up loving Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Fanny Burney, Collette, Georges Sand — all the classic female writers who knew that a good romantic relationship is all about the unique personalities of the lead characters and the special spark between them. She received her degree in English Literature, specializing in Jane Austen, the early English novels, and Shakespeare, with a minor in biology. In her profession as a mental health counselor, Johanna learned and deepened her understanding of the human heart and what makes a relationship great. Her sexy romance novels are about true love and fulfilling all of her characters needs for a very satisfactory relationship.

WHY HATE THE BILLIONAIRE? is the first of The Delanys, red-hot romances filled with sensuality, passion, and all the forms of deepest love. Five closely-bonded siblings—Cassidy, Briann, Kellee, Norah, and Niall from a lower, middle class family whose parents were killed 11 years ago each just find a way to survive and thrive from their encounters with the sexy billionaires who desire them.


Friday, June 26, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Orlando E. Panfile, Author

Orlando E. Panfile, Author
Orlando E. Panfile—author, aviation enthusiast, inventor, mayor, councilman, board director, teacher, and ham radio operator—just released an action/adventure story whose protagonist conceives and promotes a device to detect and report vehicular infractions—TACNETECH. The inventor, Richard Rogers, creates the device to reduce the number of deaths caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol. As with so many inventions, however, detractors fear the new device, causing its inventor to proceed cautiously. Panfile tells us that such a device is not only feasible but is likely in the not-so-distant future.

The author is currently working on his next book, Red, Right, Return, a nautical book; co-operating with Southern Illinois University to develop an improved auto traffic signal called “PLAN TO STOP,” and restoring his father’s 1948 Packard (I can relate to that. My parents’ first car—that I remember—was a dark blue 1948 Packard that they inherited from my grandfather.) In his spare time, he likes to travel with his wife.

Don't miss the excerpt following his interview.

Q: The concept of a device to track vehicle infractions to prevent future ones—is intriguing. What inspired you to write about it? Was there an event in your life that caused you to think about a solution to DUIs and other types of dangerous driving? Is such a device feasible?

Orlando E. Panfile: Yes the event was the "accident" in which a man, his wife, and daughter were killed. Notice I have the word "accident" in quotes. Webster defines accident as "an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured." So if the person injured was driving drunk it wouldn't be an accident?

Is such a device feasible? Yes! In fact we are more than halfway there. For about the past five years all of the major auto manufacturers have been installing a device called an Event Data Recorder (EDR.) It collects, and stores, a lot of information. Whether the car is accelerating, how much brake pressure is being applied, whether seat belts are fastened, whether deployment systems are in the ready position, etc. It is only a short step to having the ability to sense signals from outside the vehicle, stop signs, curve signals, speed limits, etc.

Q: In what genre would you place TACNETECH? Is it science fiction? Action? Fantasy? Thriller? Adventure?

Orlando E. Panfile: I would classify this most closely as Action & Adventure, but with some technology and non-fiction mixed in. It is fiction, yet draws on many real-life events. The off-limits party in Korea was a real incident, but I added details drawn from my imagination. The nearly running out of fuel story was actual fact. The story of Nan's life and death is real, though that is not her real name. The idea of sabotaging a plane in the story is purely fictional.

Q: Why will readers care about your protagonist Richard Rogers? What characteristics will we relate to? Is he a hero? What makes us believe he can invent such a device and overcome resistance to get it to market?

Orlando E. Panfile: I think readers will care about Rogers because his motives and actions are beyond reproach. His errors, like almost running out of fuel on the trip to Nassau, are not the result of carelessness or neglect on his part, but because of things beyond his control. His actions are not for personal gain, but to help people. He brings key people to help someone whose business is on the verge of failure. He helps friends when their boat is in danger of sinking.

Q: Without divulging too much of your plot, what can you tell us about your “villains?” How realistic are they?

Orlando E. Panfile: The “villains” in TACNETECH are fictional. Unfortunately, their actions are seen frequently in real life. Falsifying records, kidnapping, corporate corruption: these are all situations that do occur. These actions are feasible, which makes the characters realistic to the reader. Especially readers who’ve seen the darker side of the business world.

Q: You have a varied background that includes experiences in corporate, political and military areas – and you are a pilot and aviation enthusiast. Reading a description of your book, I sense that you’ve pulled on all of these experiences to write TACNETECH. Were you able to draw on your own experiences to tell your story to enhance credibility?

Orlando E. Panfile: Absolutely! About 75% of my waking hours were spent acquiring, organizing, monitoring, and directing my aviation service locations. These were facilities that provided services to airplanes, primarily corporate jets. But we also served the airlines and personal airplanes, having very detailed knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of various types of aircraft, the distances and topography of airports used by private aviation.

Serving on the board of directors of several organizations, as a councilman, and mayor of our town also provided some insight as to how people think. I also taught Quality Control and Industrial Statistics at Rutgers University for seven years. My students were all mature men and women. The control charts, sampling tables that involved probability theory and some of that stuff can be a bit boring and tedious. I designed several calculators to help. There were control limit dividers, graphical solution to the Poisson distribution, and a truncation point computer. The last one was the most interesting. You could determine where to trim a distribution to shift the mean a predetermined amount and reduce the standard deviation…Are you asleep yet?

Q: Did you write TACNETECH just to entertain readers, or were you trying to teach readers and/or deliver a message?

Orlando E. Panfile: The answer is yes to both. TACNETECH is fiction, so it is meant to entertain. However, the need to continue making advances in accident prevention is very real. I would like readers to see the possibilities for increasing vehicle safety.

Q: How helpful was the use of humor in creating your characters or telling your story?

Orlando E. Panfile: The subject matter of TACNETECH is serious. Vehicular safety is no laughing matter. Many people have lost a loved one to an accident, or know of someone who has. So there’s not a lot of humor in the book.  But mixing in scenes where characters joke with each other or make wisecrack adds lighter moments to the heavier aspects of the plot.

Q: How do you create page-turning action scenes?

Orlando E. Panfile: I like creating scenes where something terrible could either happen or be avoided. This builds suspense. An airplane might crash, a boat might sink; a person might get shot. The uncertain outcome of these situations is what keeps readers turning the page.

Q: What’s next?

Orlando E. Panfile: A new book, nautical in nature. Red, Right, Return. Nautical rules of navigation require a vessel to keep to the right when entering a channel. These buoys are red or green and normally line the shores of channels going into a harbor. The story is still in development, but will be more of an admonition than an instruction….. I think! 

Q: Tell us about Orlando E.  Panfile. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Orlando E. Panfile:  I'm active in my amateur radio station (Call sign K2BZZ) and have been restoring my father's 1948 Packard. I've also designed an improved auto traffic signal called "PLAN TO STOP," which I'm discussing with Southern Illinois University.  Above all, I enjoy traveling and spending time with the love of my life, my wife, Barbara. This novel, TACNETECH, is dedicated to her.

About Orlando E. Panfile

Orlando E. Panfile draws on decades of experience in corporate, political, and military areas, and as a college professor and inventor.  An aviation enthusiast, he holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating and has 11,300 hours of flight time. His lifelong passions include entrepreneurship, teaching, acting, and maritime activities. A native of New Jersey, he lives in Illinois with his wife, Barbara. This is his first novel.

Richard Rogers is devastated to learn that a friend has been killed by a drunk driver, along with the friend’s wife and daughter. When Rogers realizes the driver had a longtime history of driving under the influence, he is certain the crash could have been avoided. He assembles and finances the Tacnetech, a device to detect and report vehicular infractions, with the goal of preventing similar future incidents. Knowing his project will be met with skepticism, he formulates a plan to introduce it in a structured, strategic, and incremental manner.
A sample testing validates the project, but not everyone agrees with the device’s concept. As contemptuous terms such as “big brother” and “snitch” are thrown around, suspicious events threaten to kill the program, and possibly Rogers himself. Torn between corporate pressure and his personal life, Rogers must navigate treacherous waters and perilous skies in order to see the project through to an uncertain end.


Hurtling down Runway Six at Teterboro Airport at over one hundred miles per hour, the speed of the Sabreliner was increasing every second. So were Rogers’ adrenaline and anxiety levels. “What the hell is going on?  Call V1 and V2 speeds and retract gear after V2,” he shouted into his microphone, even though he was only two feet away from his co-pilot, Rob Riley.
            A decision had to be made quickly. To continue accelerating with the airplane on the ground would result in crashing through the airport fence, crossing an extremely busy highway and, if they were lucky enough to make it across all four lanes, slamming into a building on the other side. They had to fly. If they didn’t, the one thousand gallons of jet fuel on board would incinerate everyone on board, plus anyone they came into contact with on the highway or in the buildings alongside the highway.
            When Rogers called for gear up, he knew Rob experienced a moment of sheer panic before he could react to the gear up command, as if he wanted to scream, “Let’s stay on the ground!” but couldn’t. Where they were going or how they were going to get back on the ground, he couldn’t guess. He couldn’t think; things were happening too fast. What he did know was that there were strict limitations on the maximum speed the airplane could fly before the wings tore off. There was no way the airplane could land with wide open throttles.
The tires on the Sabreliner lost their grip on the pavement as the airplane suddenly pointed up at an extreme angle, as though an invisible hand were pushing down hard on the runway. Previous liftoffs on the Sabreliner were the result of smooth, gradual power applications, but throttles stuck in the wide open position caused the airplane to generate asymmetrical forces. Although Rogers fought to overcome these with some success, the airplane still wandered back and forth across the runway.
            Above the engines screaming, the pressurization systems howling, the wing slats chattering, and the tires squealing, Rogers shouted, “Call the tower! Let them know we have a problem! Tell them we are turning west. We will orbit west of Wayne and attempt to find a solution.”
            In some ten thousand hours of flying, Rogers had encountered a wide variety of problems: landing gear that wouldn’t go down, engines that quit, doors that opened in flight, but never throttles that wouldn’t retard. It wasn’t easy to think with the airspeed indicator increasing its reading and Teterboro tower peppering them with questions.
Rogers shouted at Rob, “Get permission to leave the frequency. Tell them we’re pretty busy.” Although they were in controlled airspace, the tower couldn’t help their situation. “Tell them we will get back to them with our intentions.”
           With landing gear and flaps retracted, the airplane continued to build speed, threatening to exceed limitations and come apart in mid-air.  Rogers felt his blood pressure and pulse rate jump to new levels. He had to slow the airplane down. He didn’t follow procedure and ask for permission to go to a higher altitude, but pointed the nose up anyway. The tower, approach control, and the center had the ability to determine their altitude, and they weren’t the ones who had to fly the plane.
          He did.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: E. J. Mellow, Author

E. J. Mellow, Author
Welcome E. J. Mellow who brings us her first book in her Dreamland Series, THE DREAMER, which she places in the new adult contemporary fantasy genre. Reviewers love the “unique” plot and claim her “world-building skills are breathtaking” and “character development was perfection!” She claims she has “always been fascinated with dreams.”

Mellow is close to finishing the second book in the series, which she plans to release this fall. A doodler, who reads and plays video games, she is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

E. J. Mellow: Before we jump into the Q&A, I just wanted to give a big hug of thanks to Joyce and Strands Simply Tips for having me here today. Really excited to dive into these questions!

Q: You describe the first book THE DREAMER of your Dreamland Series books as new adult contemporary fantasy. What are the characteristics of this genre? How is it different from other types of fantasy books? Who are the targeted readers?

E. J. Mellow: I mainly specified new adult to let people know that the Dreamland Series has some mature language and sexual content. It’s not explicit, but it does have the “nookie,” as I’m sure no one calls it.

The characteristics of NA contemporary fantasy, I think, are that it takes place in present day, has elements of magic or sci-fi, and is targeted for a slightly older audience than teens. Though my book’s age range is anywhere between 19 and 104. If you’re 105, sorry, it’s just not for you.

Q: How did you imagine THE DREAMER? What sparked (no pun intended, as I believe there was lightning involved) the plot?

E. J. Mellow: I’ve always been fascinated by dreams. The fact that we—on average—spend twenty-five years of our lives asleep is crazy. So the notion that we might, unknowingly, be living a completely other life during that time doesn’t seem that farfetched or out of the realm of possibility. For me, at least. ;)

But what really jump-started me writing THE DREAMER was actually a dream I had. One that lasted a whole week. Yes, a week! Each night it was like starting a movie right where I left off the night before, with the same characters and plot continuing. It was so insane! There also just so happened to be a guy…and yes, he was very good looking *hides behind hands*. Eventually these dreams stopped, but the idea of them stayed with me for a while. I ended up telling a friend about them, and from that conversation is where my idea for the series came about.

Q: One of your reviewers appreciates how “well developed and plausible” the book is. How important is “plausibility” to engaging your readers and telling your story?

E. J. Mellow: I think it’s important only to the effect that the readers shouldn’t be distracted from your story because they are wondering if the plot’s possible. That’s not why they are reading a fiction book. They are there to be entertained, swept away, and taken on a journey.

I also believe anything can be plausible if well written and told right. Warrior penguins that battle robotic mutant seals can be a conceivable story so long as the author can paint the world as such. Actually, Neil Gaiman gave great advice that relates to this. He said something to the effect of, treat the unreal things the same way you’d treat the real things. I think this is an awesome litmus test to writing a story with fantastical elements

Q: “I loved the characters, especially Molly and Dev—their relationship flew right off the page.” How did you create characters that involved your readers? How helpful was humor in developing your characters?

E. J. Mellow: It helps that my characters tend to feel no different to me than my friends in real life. I can easily imagine what they would be like accompanying me to certain social events. How Dev would charm the room and Molly would spill red wine on the sofa, covering it up with a pillow before anyone saw. Little quirks about them seem to always be swimming in my mind. But I believe the most helpful tip in building rich characters is to create profiles for them. List out their favorite foods, movies, books, pet peeves, and embarrassing moments. What they desire the most in their worlds and what they fear. I find this helps with staying true to who they are as a character. Also, give them a secret that no one but you and they will ever know. 

As far as humor in developing characters, I think it’s definitely helpful, even if it’s subtle or small.

Q: How relevant was the concept of heroes vs villains to telling your story?

E. J. Mellow: Very, but not specifically heroes vs. villains, but rather positive thoughts versus negative and the outward effects they can have on a person.

Q: Many of your reviewers tout the page-turning momentum of the suspense you create. Can you tell us how you pulled your readers into the story?

E. J. Mellow: First, that’s super flattering to hear. So thank you to those reviewers! It’s something I set out hoping to achieve, and it’s nice to know some feel that I did.

I’m not 100 hundred percent certain there’s an exact method or by-the-book way to achieve good pacing, but something I learned in writing classes and reading other books is it helps when chapters end on a…kind of moment. You never want to sum up the chapter by solving all of its problems.

Q: Did you write THE DREAMER only to entertain readers, or did you want to deliver a message, create awareness, and/or educate?

E. J. Mellow: I never set out with the intentions of delivering one specific message with THE DREAMER, but I think the idea of dreaming big and not letting yourself fall into the cogs of life is a theme I wanted to get across. I think we all have greatness in us—we just need to wake it from sleep.

Q: How difficult was it to write a book from two different viewpoints? What did you do to minimize confusion?

E. J. Mellow: THE DREAMER is actually told only from Molly’s POV, but it does have aspects of two different viewpoints in the sense that her mind and attitude awake is very different then when she’s asleep. My writing style also switches slightly when Molly is in her dreams.

Q: What’s next?

E. J. Mellow:  Currently, I’m finishing up the first draft of book two. And by finishing up, I mean there’s only a chapter left to write! I’m really excited about this one, for it’s a lot more action packed, and Molly and her powers get tested in ways no one is prepared for. There also were a lot of scenes that were tough for me to write, emotionally, which was an interesting challenge.

The second book is scheduled to come out late September/early October of this year, 2015. Hoping to have an official release date soon!

Q: Tell us about E. J. Mellow. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or dreaming?

E. J. Mellow: Playing video games, reading (lots of reading), and doodling in my sketchbook. I also live near a park and love to go for runs and hang with friends there. 

About E. J. Mellow

E.J. Mellow is the author behind the NA Contemporary Fantasy trilogy The Dreamland Series. When she's not busy moonlighting in the realm of make-believe, she can be found doodling, buried in a book (usually this one), or playing video games.

Residing in Brooklyn, NY she is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter.

It’s night. Always night. Dreams guard against the evil forged by nightmares. Infinite shooting stars illuminate a moonless sky. A city stands alone, surrounded by a darkened field. On its fringes, a man watches one star separate from the masses and fall. What survives the crash will unveil a secret centuries long hidden.

Molly hasn’t slept well since the night of her twenty-fourth birthday. Being struck by lightning might have something to do with it, but then again, her chicken did look a little undercooked at dinner. Whatever the culprit, her life quickly catapults from mundane to insane as, night after night, Molly is transported through her once dreamless sleep to a mysterious land illuminated by shooting stars.

There she meets the captivating but frustrating Dev, and together they discover Molly possesses a power coveted by his people—the ability to conjure almost anything she desires into existence. Seduced by the possibilities of this gift, Molly shifts her attention from waking life toward the man, the magic, and the world found in her dreams.

But Molly must ask herself—does something truly exist if you only see it when you close your eyes?

Faced with the threat of losing everything—her job, best friend, boyfriend, and most importantly, that little thing called her sanity—Molly will learn just how far she’ll go to uncover what is real and what is merely a figment of her imagination.

The first in a spellbinding contemporary fantasy trilogy, The Dreamer opens doors into the subconscious and follows the journey of a young woman torn between two worlds as she questions the power of the mind and battles between fate and freewill.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CHECK IT OUT: Now Available. Andrea Buginsky's STRIKERS APPRENTICE

Now Available!

As a young hunter seeks a trainer, The Chosen prepare for an unforgettable adventure.
With Nature and Phantasma back in order, Halli and Silvor have settled into their new life in Drumple. During a visit from Striker, Kaidyla and Lumina, a request from an old friend of Halli’s family sparks a new challenge when she asks Striker if he’ll train their young son, Dylan. Working with Dylan gives Striker a chance to be a mentor once again, as he had been in his past.
This brings The Chosen to an area of Phantasma Halli has never seen before. What new dangers might be lurking in the forest? Will Halli have a reason to use her powers?
But Halli and Silvor are facing a new journey of their own, one that will change their lives forever. What is in store for The Chosen’s future? Will this latest escapade prepare them for what is yet to come?


With another week of teaching behind them, Halli and Silvor enjoyed a quiet, leisurely breakfast at the tavern, catching up with their neighbors.

As he was telling her about a new student, Silvor saw a look of surprise and joy come across Halli’s face. Turning  to see what she was looking at, he saw a pretty dwarf about his mother-in-law’s age walking towards Halli, smiling at her.

“Do you know her?” As he asked, the woman walked over to their table.

“Halli!  Your mother told me I might find you here.”

“Cynthia! It’s so good to see you again.”

Hugging Cynthia, she turned to Silvor, making the introductions. “Silvor, this is Cynthia, Mom’s best friend.  She moved away from Drumple years ago with her husband.”

She turned back to Cynthia. “I’m surprised Mom didn’t tell me you were back in Drumple.”

Knowing his wife would be involved in a lengthy conversation, Silvor made his way to the bar and began talking to the tavern keeper.

“We only returned about a week ago, and we’ve been busy settling in,” Cynthia responded to Halli’s comment. “It’s wonderful to see you, Halli.  My, how you’ve grown! We’re so proud of everything you’ve done for Phantasma.  I can’t believe you’re the same shy girl who used to sit quietly with your mother and me and read all day.  Now look at you: married, and a Holy Paladin!  Where have the years gone?”

“Mom wonders the same thing sometimes. And you?  I hear you have a son.  You’ve been gone from Drumple for so long, I don’t think I’ve even met him.”

“Oh, I’m sure you haven’t.  He wasn’t born until after his father and I moved away from Drumple.  But that was 15 years ago already!”

“What does he do?  Is he a student at the school now?  I don’t remember meeting anyone new lately…”

“No, he finished his studies a year ago, when he decided to take up hunting.  Now he’s looking for a trainer.  Which is what brings me to you.  I was hoping  you could talk to one of the hunters in your group about taking him on as an apprentice.  Do you think they would be willing to do that?”

“Oh, I’m sure Striker and Kaidyla would love that!  They’ll be here for a visit this weekend.  Perhaps I can introduce you all then.  Is your son here now?  I’d love to meet him.”

“He’s right over there.” Turning to the young dwarf playing at the game table, Cynthia called, “Dylan!  Come here.  There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

My HeadshotAndrea Buginsky is a freelance writer with a BA in Mass Communication-Journalism from the University of South Florida. She has always wanted to be a published writer, and decided to try to write fantasy books for teens. The Chosen is her first book, and was released on December 14, 2010, to her delight.
Andrea has written five more books since:

  • My Open Heart, an autobiography of growing up with heart disease.

  • Nature's Unbalance: The Chosen, Book 2

  • Striker's Apprentice: The Chosen, Book 3

  • Destiny: New Avalon, book 1, a YA fantasy

  • Fate: New Avalon, book 2, a YA fantasy
  • She is currently writing the fourth book in The Chosen series.
    Andrea lives in Kansas with her family, which includes her two precious puppies.

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    Monday, June 22, 2015

    CHECK IT OUT: Character Interview from New Mystery, Author Joyce T. Strand

    Joyce T. Strand, Author
    I am so excited to introduce you to my first historical mystery, THE JUDGE’S STORY. I enjoyed creating my judge based on a real California Superior Court Judge who was the grandfather of a friend—and a law partner of the creator of Perry Mason, Erle Stanley Gardner. My friend introduced me to his grandfather’s memoir. When I read it, I immediately knew I had to create a mystery around him and developed my fictional Judge from the ethics, mores, and beliefs of Judge Louis Drapeau Sr., the grandfather of my friend, Lou Drapeau. 

    I set the book in 1939, intending to write an entertaining mystery, drawing on events caused by the Great Depression, the looming WWII, and the social issues of a small California town. The case on which I built the mystery is entirely fictional, although I assured it was consistent with similar crimes of the era.  But, perhaps you can get a better idea of the story from the following interview by one of the supporting characters, Clara Bow Wilson, of the protagonist of THE JUDGE’S STORY, Judge Grover Roswell Akers.

    Don't miss the short excerpt and the opportunity to enter a giveaway at the end of the interview.

    Clara Bow Wilson: Hello, Judge. I’m so pleased that I’ve been asked to interview you. You are one of my most favorite people. I’m so excited to be part of this mystery. Tell us about it right away.

    The Judge: Thank you, Clara, I’m pleased to be here to answer your questions. And you’re one of my favorite people, also. And I’m so glad you joined us to help solve the mystery. We couldn’t have done it without you.

    This mystery starts in my courtroom in 1939 when you, a 16-year-old, testify against a young 14-year-old about his participation in a robbery-murder. He does not deny being part of the crime, but I know he didn’t actually pull the trigger that killed the store-owner and am concerned that the juvenile shows signs of being a decent young boy who's never had a chance.

    Clara Bow Wilson: But that doesn’t matter, does it? I mean, he’s guilty of the crime based on what the prosecutor says is the California felony-murder law, right? 

    The Judge: True, but as a judge I have some discretion as to his sentence based on his age and his co-operation to identify the real killer. The full punishment for murder could be 25 years or more in a prison. However, I could take into account his co-operation coupled to his young age, which would result in a much lesser sentence—closer to ten years or even less.

    However, when he refuses to tell us who the murderer is, I stall for time by postponing my verdict until we can convince him to help. Then you join us to try to get him to talk and my investigator interviews the boy’s acquaintances to see if he can figure it out. But we only have a month to uncover the culprit before I have to sentence him.

    Clara Bow Wilson: So that makes me really curious, what do you actually do as a judge?

    The Judge: It’s my job to assure a fair trial and in the absence of a jury, I determine the verdict and then the sentence. In our case, there was no jury, and verdict and sentencing were all up to me.

    Today, Ventura City Hall, in 1939 this building was the
    Ventura County Courthouse, where the Judge heard his cases.
    Some of the cases I hear are more demanding than others. They range from murder to reckless driving. I’m particularly interested in juvenile crime. I believe boys who come from a broken home are more likely to turn to crime than those who live with both their parents. I also believe that a boy’s upbringing influences his actions. And certainly the extreme poverty caused by the Great Depression has led to much crime. That’s why I help our Chief of Police with his Boys Club. We work to reinforce what’s right.

    The pier in Ventura, California where the Judge likes to walk.
    Clara Bow Wilson: I think I've always seen you around town, walking everywhere. How did you become a Superior Court Judge in Ventura, California?

    The Judge: Well, that’s easy. I was appointed. I lived here in Ventura most of my life, and I was a lawyer. I practiced law for many years. I met lots of people, and I like living in a small town and getting to know everyone. Walking around town is one way to meet people and find out what they're up to.

    Clara Bow Wilson: Really? I like cities, myself. There’s lots more happening there, I think. But let’s get back to the mystery. It seems like all we have to do is get our defendant to talk. That should be easy.

    The Judge: It should be. But unfortunately the more we try to convince him and the more we investigate, well, we certainly uncover more than I ever anticipated.

    Clara Bow Wilson: You bet. Me, too.

    A Superior Court Judge with a passion for social justice as well as the law strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939.

    When the Judge hears testimony against a 14-year-old teenager, he realizes that the boy participated in a robbery-murder. However, the accused did not actually pull the trigger. But unless the boy identifies his partner, the Judge must sentence him as a murderer, which would result in prolonged jail time. The Judge’s investigator, along with the precocious 16-year-old girl who identified the boy as one of the thieves, explore different approaches to uncover the murderer. In the backdrop of escalating war in Europe, the financial scarcities of the Great Depression, and the Judge’s caseload, their attempts to find justice for the accused boy and unmask the killer lure the Judge and his friends into sordid criminal activities.


    Chapter 01

    Judge Akers watched the teenage girl enter his courtroom. She had agreed to testify against a fourteen-year-old schoolmate for theft and murder.

    He suspected she was nervous. The room loomed in front of her, with high ceilings, chandelier lights, and seats for at least one hundred people, that day less than one-third occupied.

    Skylight at Ventura County Courthouse
    viewed by Clara on her walk down the
    aisle to testify
    The Judge sat elevated at the end of her walk. He noticed that she stared at the portrait to his left, perhaps to avoid meeting the eyes of the defendant, a typical ploy of witnesses. She walked slowly, almost as if her legs were too heavy to lift. He saw her look up at the skylight in the ceiling.

    The Judge was disappointed that the District Attorney required a sixteen-year-old to convict the defendant. He believed that in the modern California justice system of 1939, children should not have to deliver such testimony. Of course, the defendant himself was just a boy, so perhaps that justified a teenager testifying against a teenager. 

    About Joyce T. Strand

    Mystery author Joyce T. Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. She is the author of the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, and FAIR DISCLOSURE and the Brynn Bancroft mystery HILLTOP SUNSET, and her new historical mystery, THE JUDGE’S STORY. Strand received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. She currently lives in Southern California with her two cats, a collection of cow statuary and art, and her muse, the roadrunner. She loves attending Broadway musicals, eating at gourmet restaurants, and drinking red wine!


    Purchase Links

    Unicorn Books and Gifts (autographed); 738 Main St.; Ramona, CA 92065 (760) 788-3700

    HILLTOP SUNSET: A Brynn Bancroft Mystery -1
    Unicorn Books and Gifts (autographed); 738 Main St.; Ramona, CA 92065 (760) 788-3700 

    The Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries 3-book-bundle (ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, FAIR DISCLOSURE)

    FAIR DISCLOSURE: A Jillian Hillcrest Mystery -3
    Unicorn Books and Gifts (autographed); 738 Main St.; Ramona, CA 92065 (760) 788-3700

    OPEN MEETINGS: A Jillian Hillcrest Mystery -2
    Unicorn Books and Gifts; 738 Main St.; Ramona, CA 92065 (760) 788-3700

    ON MESSAGE: A Jillian Hillcrest Mystery -1
    Unicorn Books and Gifts (autographed); 738 Main St.; Ramona, CA 92065 (760) 788-3700

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    Twitter: @JoyceTStrand