CHARACTER INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Amanda of “A Convenient Risk”

Hey, everyone! I know, I know, this is normally the day you get to meet a “new-to-you” author and learn about fabulous new books. But today, I am doing something a little bit different. Oh, it’s still and interview, as you can see, but it’s an interview with Amanda, one of the characters from A Convenient Risk. I have included the particulars about the book below and I am offering a giveaway this week as well (see details farther down).

Because of this unique situation, I will put the book details before the interview. Enjoy!

A Convenient Risk


A widow with a young son is in trouble.

Amanda Haynes must put aside her grief and do something to take care of her son. Marrying a struggling rancher who wants her dead husband’s herd appears to be her only choice.

Only…she’s never going to love again. No one can replace the only man that ever loved her.

Butting heads over managing the ranch, her frustrations seem insurmountable. What has she gotten herself into? Is there any way out?

You’ll never put down this marriage of convenience romance, because everyone has hope.

Enjoy an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE ~ Beginnings & Endings ~ Scene Six

Brandon fidgeted with the cuffs of his best Sunday jacket. Moisture beaded on his forehead. Was it warm in here? He shot a glance at the preacher. The man seemed fairly comfortable in his jacket.

Perhaps it was something else then. He gazed up at the ceiling and took some deep breaths. Was he truly that nervous? Why? It wasn’t as if this was a real marriage. Though it was the only one he would ever have.

He never had such silly notions as love. That was a grand idea, but did those marriages ever work out? His parents had been matched for better reasons and they seemed well suited for one another. Surely that was wisdom enough to seek a more logical process for choosing one’s life partner.

And what he knew of Amanda Haynes, though little, did not put him off. She was pleasant enough to gaze upon. Everyone that spoke of her told of what a good wife she was. The only criticism Cook had ever heard tell of was that she kept to herself. He could find no fault in that. That may even be a trait that earned her admiration in his book.

A hand landed on his shoulder. He turned toward its source. Reverend Mason looked at him.

“I’m certain she will be here any moment.”

Brandon nodded. How long had it been? Was she late? He glanced over at Uncle Owen and Cook, seated in the first pew. Uncle Owen gave him a nod and a smile.

Was he doing the right thing? No doubt he did the prudent thing. For this poor widow and for his own ranch. But did he preclude her from finding love again? That is if she put such stock in these things.

The door to the small church opened, breaking his thoughts. Amanda stepped in, holding her son’s hand, straggling behind. As she walked down the aisle toward him, her eyes remained glued to the floor. But his were on her. Would he remember how she looked this day?

She wore a cream colored shirt trimmed in lace fabric. Her skirt was smooth and pink. Perhaps her best church outfit. Had he expected a white dress? No, that would not have been appropriate for a woman who had…well, who had already been married.

Her long blonde hair had been pulled back and up in an attractive style with curls piled on top. She had even adorned the right side with flowers which matched the bouquet she carried.

The boy did not seem aware or pleased at the circumstances. He fairly scowled as his mother pulled him along behind her. As she neared the front of the church, she set him on the front pew opposite Uncle Owen and Cook. She spoke some words to him in hushed tones. He whined in protest, but soon quieted. Then she pressed a kiss to his hair and he leaned back, folding his arms across his chest.

What was Brandon going to do about the boy? He hadn’t considered how the youngster would feel about a new man in his mother’s life. And so soon after his father’s death. But nothing could be done about it at this point. Sometimes very adult decisions had to be made regardless.

Amanda turned and faced Brandon, smoothing a hand down her skirt. Then her eyes were on his. And his breath caught. She was quite a sight up close. Her cheeks were flushed and eyes bright from the slight exertion. That only served to highlight her features.

“Sorry I’m late.” Her words came out in a breath.

Brandon opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. So, he closed his mouth and simply nodded.

“If everyone is ready, we can begin,” the preacher stepped closer to them.

Amanda nodded, licking her lips and grasping her flowers. Did he see a slight trembling in the delicate buds?

“Yes, Reverend,” he said, swallowing against a dry mouth. He shifted to face Pastor Mason and sensed Amanda do the same.

The preacher spoke words about the institution of marriage, but Brandon had a difficult time listening. He found himself stealing glances at Amanda. What was she thinking? Did she have second thoughts? Regrets?

Still, they moved through the ceremony, responding in turn when they were asked to.

Amanda spoke the words that would bind her to Brandon seemingly without hesitation. Should it surprise him? It did.

“Now it is time for the presentation of the rings.” Reverend Mason turned toward Brandon. “Do you have the rings?”

Brandon reached in his pocket and produced the circlets of gold.

“Will you take the smaller ring and place it on your bride’s finger and repeat after me?”

Brandon spoke the words after the preacher as he took Amanda’s smaller hand in his underneath the bouquet. Sliding the ring on her finger, which seemed impossibly smaller than his, he was surprised when he encountered resistance. Her other wedding band.

His eyes shot to hers.

Hazel eyes widened and slid closed.

Reverend Mason, having paused, spoke in that moment. “Is there a problem?”

Brandon slid his wedding band off of her finger.

Amanda pulled her hand out from under the bouquet.

The preacher’s brows shot up. “I see.” He eyed Brandon. As did Amanda.

Everyone seemed to be waiting on him with baited breath. What was he to do? Was it his place to remove Jed’s wedding band? Surely that was something she needed to do. But everyone looked at him as if he were to be the one to act.

So, he reached for her hand once more. Her eyes flitted between his and the wedding band on her finger. He gently grasped it and pulled. It wouldn’t come. Twisting a little, he felt it budge. From there, it took little work to get Jed’s wedding band off.

His face warmed. Why did he have to do that? It just wasn’t right. To remove another man’s claim on his wife. She should have been the one to do it.

But he held fast as he slid his wedding band onto her finger.

Reverend Mason let out a sigh and continued, instructing Amanda to place the other wedding band on Brandon’s finger.

He held out the wedding band to her, but he now held Jed’s wedding band and the one for him in his hand.

As her fingers reached for the band, they hovered for just a moment over her former band. Perhaps no one else would have noticed. But Brandon did. And why shouldn’t she? It had been on her finger for years. She must be loathe to part with it, perhaps one of the last pieces of her husband she had left.

Still, she picked up the band for Brandon and slid it onto his finger, releasing his hand as soon as the ring was securely on.

Brandon continued to watch her face, but her eyes shifted toward the preacher soon after. Was she afraid? Embarrassed? He had not meant to offend her.

But he turned his attention toward the preacher as well for the remainder of the simple ceremony. It wasn’t long before Reverend Mason spoke the final words and declared them husband and wife.

“You may now kiss your bride.”

Brandon looked over at Amanda. She didn’t meet his eyes. Her gaze caught on his chest. Why had he not thought about this particular part of the ceremony? The woman seemed so scared, so vulnerable.

She needn’t be, he decided. So, he leaned forward, tilting his head down and pressed a kiss to the side of her face before pulling back.

Then she met his gaze, eyes wide. Did she wonder at his simple contact? He wanted nothing more from her than what they had discussed. If she feared differently, than she was mistaken.

All he wanted…needed was that cattle. He needed it desperately. Now it was his. And that was all that mattered.

Teaser Trailer

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Interview: Amanda

Hello, Amanda, I hope you are well. I understand that you have recently lost your husband. I am sorry to hear that. But congratulations are also in order, I suppose as you have remarried as well.

It’s not like that. My son needed…we needed…it’s not as you make it sound.

I apologize. I did not intend to “make it sound” any way at all. Merely making conversation.


Alright. Perhaps we can just get to these questions, since we are off to such a great start 🙂

I saw that you live in Wharton City, Arizona now, but is that where you are from?

No. I came from further east.

Care to elaborate?

Not really.

Listen, I do apologize if I offended you. I meant nothing by it. Honest. I do hope we can put it behind us and make the most of this interview.


What is your earliest memory?

Probably of my mom. She was unwell a lot. So, I remember playing in her room, by her bed while she slept.

(Pauses) Hmmm… Interesting. What about school? Did you enjoy school growing up?

Yes, very much. I was quite good in school. I always did well.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Well, there aren’t many prospects for women during this time. Teacher…mother…nurse…that’s about it.

What would you say is your greatest achievement?

My son, Samuel. He is my light, my sunshine. The reason I keep going.

What is your greatest fear?

To be a burden on anyone…especially on him, my Samuel.

I write romances, so my readers would probably like to know if you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?


But you are just newly–


Okayyy…moving right along then…

Tell us about your family.

My family growing up or my family now?

Your choice.

Well, as you know, I recently married into this rancher, Brandon Miller’s, ranch family. Samuel, of course, is still with me. And there is Cook, who takes care of the house and cooking. Uncle Owen who seems to be an adviser of sorts to Brandon. I think he used to work a ranch when he was younger. Then there are the ranch hands. They’re nice fellas.

A ranch!? Is there a dog? Tell me there’s a dog!

Oh yes, there’s Daisy. Samuel is rather taken with her. I worry because she is older. I don’t like the idea of him becoming too attached.

That’s understandable. Pets are such a blessing in a child’s life!

Mother to mother…HOW do you deal with stress!?!

I may not be the best person to ask. But I’ll give it a try.

I try to stay calm and remember that whatever Samuel is doing is just him being a kid. That gives me good perspective.

Oh my! Our time has gotten away from us! I have time for one more question: what is the best thing that ever happened to you?

My first husband, Jed. He married me and took care of me. I very much needed someone to love me and give me some purpose, you know? But it was different than I’d always expected.

Oh? How so?

Just…you know, not as…warm…I guess, as I’d always thought the companionship of love would be.

Hmmm… What about with Brandon?

I do have these stirrings…more like sparks. But there is heat. Still, I am more wary of it than anything else.

Intersting…well, we’ve run out of time, Amanda. Thanks so much for sitting down with me today. I look forward to seeing how everything turns out for you 🙂

You can follow the rest of Amanda’s story as well in “A Convenient Risk”.

More About the Author

I’m a coffee lovin’, word slinging, Historical Romance author who’s super power is converting caffeine into novels. I love those odd little tidbits of history that are stranger than fiction. That’s what inspires me. Well, that and a good love story.

But of all the love stories I have read, mine is my favorite. I live happily with my own Prince Charming and our gaggle of minions. Three to be exact. They sure know how to distract a writer! But, alas, the stories must be written, even if it must happen in the wee hours of the morning.

Happy Reading!

Connect with Sara and her books

Facebook: AuthorSaraRTurnquist

Twitter: @sarat1701

Instagram: sarat0103

Pinterest: SaraVTurnquist

YouTube Channel: Sara Turnquist


Two (2) individuals will be selected via Rafflecopter to receive ebook copies of both books in the Convenient Risk Series.

This includes A Convenient Risk and An Inconvenient Christmas. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter.


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OVERCOMING MYSELF: Getting Out Of My Own Way

As you know, this blog has become so much about the things that I have had to overcome in my life. And there have been so many, I have found, who can relate. Those who have encountered similar struggles with depression, grief, children who don’t “fit the profile”, and the like.

Well, what happens when you realize that YOU are the one holding yourself back? That’s what I want to explore a bit today. Because I have found that I can be my own biggest obstacle. And what an insurmountable obstacle I can be!

How did I come to this great epiphany? That is a good question. I have, for some time, had the suspicion that my very loving husband and encouraging friends, who became a vital support network in my recovery (from depression) process, had become more than a net to catch me. That I had, well, over-used that “net” and it was becoming more of a hammock, if you will. Especially my husband.

One might call that co-dependancy.



Then, the opportunity for me to go to a writers conference in the mountains came. This is a conference I have had my eye on for a few years now and it just hasn’t worked out. This year it did…but there was one catch: neither my husband nor my usual “conference buddy” could go with me. I would have to go alone.

Well, that’s a little intimidating.

No worries, I thought. I got this.

And to prove it, I’ll make it an extended vacation – I’ll visit family in that part of the country and even sightsee before returning home.

So, now that the reservations are made and paid for, the family arrangements made, and the sightseeing adventures booked and cancellation dates passed, I have realized what I have done.


Can I really do this?


Like, without someone there to be with me?

As it turns out…yes. The conference is half over and I am doing well. I do miss my kids and husband, and am tired, but I am actually excited about my mini-vacation after the conference.

It’s taken the better part of this first half of the conference for me to step out of my own way and make myself see that I can do this AND enjoy it. Without a friend-parachute. Relying on my own devices. Networking all on my own.

It just took this push…a driving reason to get me out of my comfort zone, and I found that this baby bird could fly. If I just trusted my wings.

What have you done lately that you just needed to get over yourself to do?


Hello, all! Sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while. It’s been all craziness here as I get ready to head off to North Carolina for the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference! I am so excited. It will be my first time at this particular conference and I am beyond thrilled to be in beautiful Asheville.

Today, I have a great author to introduce–B.W. Morris. He is another Clean Reads author and his novels have definitely intrigued me. I will admit that I got caught up in the excerpt. My next stop, I think, will be Amazon 🙂

Thank you for being on the blog, B.W.! First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Six Pack: Gyration is the second book in The Six Pack Series. The first book came out last year and the second book follows up on the events of the first. Set in the distant future, it follows the tale of six teenagers who consume a drink that gives them strange powers and leads to them learning about a movement against the government of Novusordo. They must determine how their powers can help change the world – but they must learn to work together as a team. In the second book, their decision to save their professor, Roger Woods, leads to significant consequences that impact everyone – including themselves.

Hmmm…I like the idea. I must admit. I peeked ahead at the excerpt. I am very intrigued! What was the inspiration for The Six Pack Series?

The first inspiration came from watching the animated TV series Young Justice and thinking about my own ideas for a team-up of teenaged superheroes. It wasn’t until I read The Hunger Games, though, that I got an idea for the story’s setting – what if these superpowered teenagers had to take down a controlling government? And because my original idea was that these teens would gain their powers after consuming a drink, that led to the idea that the government used a drink to keep the population from questioning its agenda. Everything fell into place by then.

You’re not making me want to read it any less 🙂

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I’ll admit when I was much younger, I thought I wanted to be a fireman. However, it was when I got into the fourth grade that I realized I had the gift for writing, even if I didn’t think about as a future career. By the time I got to junior high school, I read the student newspaper and thought how great it would be to write for it. That was the first time that writing really crossed my mind.

Strange how we don’t see what’s right in front of us sometimes…I just did a career day talk for third graders and realized that it was about that age that I started writing little stories. Even though my heart was set on being a doctor until much, much later.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Once I had my mind set on journalism, I knew that writing was something I wanted to do. But it wasn’t until I got older that fiction writing crossed my mind. I had done some creative writing in my spare time, but once I got ideas in my head for novels, I gave more serious consideration to writing one. I threw together a draft in the summer of 2015, visited the Kansas Writers Association for the first time and it grew from there.

That writing but does eventually make its mark on us, doesn’t it?

But as much as we all love it, I know there are things we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

The editing process! It can take a lot of time to go through a draft, several times over, to make sure you get everything to the best it can possibly be. It’s worth it, though, once you see the final product come together.

I hear that! Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Do a lot of reading. That’s the number one thing for everyone to keep in mind. Spend your time reading novels, pay attention to how characters are developed, how tension is built, how pacing is done. You can also get ideas for how these things work by watching movies, but reading books is of the utmost importance. And it helps to practice writing – spend your time jotting down whatever comes to mind. Even if it’s just notes to yourself, every bit of writing helps.

What are you currently reading?

I’m going through several young adult, science fiction and thrillers to get ideas about what other authors are doing. I’m reading Five Nights at Freddy’s right now – it’s good so far, though I’m still only a few chapters into the book. I like to read a book before I go to bed and try to read one chapter per night – though sometimes I’ll run across a book that’s so good, I keep going through chapters and can’t put it down. (That’s what it was like reading The Hunger Games for the first time!)

I know! I couldn’t put it down either!

Let’s talk about setting your writing mood… What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I can’t listen to music when writing. I sing along with the lyrics too much!

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Evenings work the best for me, though I may try to squeeze in some writing on Saturday mornings if I’m not busy with something else. As for where I write, I’m usually sitting in front of the coffee table in my living room – yeah, that may seem odd, but I find it works better because it’s somewhat different from work, when I’m always sitting in a big chair in front of a desk.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My first drafts take about two to three months to complete. Then I let it sit for a couple of months, before I pull it out, edit and rewrite. And then it’s on to beta readers, meaning the full process from first draft to a draft that’s ready to submit may take a year or more.

Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

I put several Easter eggs in it – for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, those are lines or details in the book that refer to other works. I found ways to work in lines that were lifted from Young Justice and the Arrowverse, without them seeming out of place. Something that’s fun for readers to pick up on if they notice them!

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I am completing my own tribute to the Arrowverse called the Arrowverse “Other World” Project on my author blog (which is in the process of transferring to a new website). My third book in The Six Pack Series is undergoing beta reads and I hope to polish it up by the end of the summer. In the meantime, I’m planning to work a draft for another book in the coming months – just need to finalize an outline and then I can get started.

Again, thank you so much for being on the blog, giving us some insight into your books and your process. Now, readers, let’s dig in and check out these books!

BOOK 1 – Six Pack: Emergence

Just weeks before Tyler Ward is to graduate from secondary school, he learns the truth about Novusordo and how a drink controls the population. After sharing this information with his five friends, they visit a professor’s house, take another drink and gain strange powers. It leads to them learning more about how the government controls people and the discovery of a movement against the government. Calling themselves the Six Pack, Tyler and his friends must learn how their powers can change society. But they first must learn to trust this movement… and even each other.

Six Pack: Gyration

Months after the Six Pack has fled City 37N104W, Tyler Ward wonders how much longer the Underground Network can afford to wait to make its next move against the Novusordo government. The disappearance of five more students from Monroe Secondary School pushes his desire to take action. And when he learns that Professor Roger Woods may be in trouble, he is convinced he and the Six Pack must take matters into their own hands, even if it means defying the Network. But actions have consequences, and the decisions Tyler and his friends make will impact everyone they encounter — including themselves.

Available May 22 on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!

Enjoy an Excerpt

Tyler pressed a hand to his chin as he listened to Diane. The more he heard, the more agitated he became.

“So every marriage only happens because the government says so?”

Diane leaned back in her chair. “Couples get together at their places of work, but the government must approve a marriage, yes.”

“What if somebody fell in love with a person who worked a different job than them?”

Diane shook her head. “The government won’t allow that.”

Tyler flexed his fingers. “That isn’t right.”

“Yes, but that’s one of many reasons why the Network wants to change society.”

“So what are we waiting for? After all, the longer we wait, the worse things will get. Not to mention that my parents could be in danger if the government found out what I’m doing for the Network.”

“Your parents are fine. As far as we know, the government isn’t going after them.”

“As far as you know.” Tyler narrowed his gaze. “How can you be sure?”

Diane held up her hand. “I understand you want to help the Network. That’s why we are letting you know more things over time. But we do need to be patient.”

“That’s all I ever hear.” Tyler took a deep breath, trying not to raise his voice. “But the more I hear, the more I ask myself how much longer we can wait.”

“Tyler, you have to understand that Professor Woods chose you for a reason.”

“Yes, he believed I was the right person because I was the top student in my class. Makes me wonder what would have happened had I never met him.”

“That’s why you need to know that you were intentionally placed at Monroe.”

Tyler did a double take. “What?”

Diane leaned forward and folded her arms across the desk. “A teacher at your elementary school, who was part of the Network, recommended you be placed at Monroe. The government allows the top students to be assigned to schools, and that teacher had hoped you would meet Professor Woods.”

Tyler looked away for a second. That revelation convinced him, more than ever, that he couldn’t keep hiding. If he was meant to bring change, he needed to bring it about. His gaze shifted back to Diane. “If I was meant to meet the professor, to be part of a movement for change, shouldn’t I be out there doing it?”

Diane shook her head. “It’s not that simple. First of all, the professor expected your ability to reason would be enhanced, not something else. Second, ever since what we’ve learned has been happening in City 37N104W, we’ve had to reassess.”

“How long can we afford to do that?” Tyler gestured with his hands. “What happens if we’re forgotten? Allen Ford keeps wondering why we haven’t been around.”

Diane took a deep breath. “We have reason to believe the Novusordo government is trying to lure you there.”

“We had reason to believe Governor Grayson was trying to lure us, but Mr. Harrison agreed we should go.” Tyler flipped his hands. “What’s different this time?”

She shifted in her chair. “What’s different is that the government increased security there. Tighter restrictions at Monroe: on everyone who lives there and works there. We’re trying to determine the best way to handle things.”

Tyler shook his head. He wanted to believe Diane. But though her voice remained steady, her eyes moved just enough to suggest something bothered her. How he wanted to read her mind, but he respected her too much to do that. “So what else aren’t you telling me?”

She didn’t answer.

“What is it?” Tyler asked.

She shifted position again. “All right, it’s only fair you know. The professor and I are a couple.”

“You two are dating?”

“Yes, that’s how I became involved with the Network.”

Tyler frowned. “I thought the government determined who could get together.”

“Not those in elite positions, such as the professor and myself.”

“Okay. So why wouldn’t you want to do something to help him?”

Diane held up her hand. “He and I came to an understanding about things.”

He shook his head again. “You and he may have done that, but I haven’t. How can you stay here while he’s down there at Monroe, in who knows what situation—that is, if you already know and don’t want to tell me.”

She took another deep breath, as if she didn’t want to raise her voice. “And as we have told you—I have told you—several times before that it’s too risky for the professor to leave. As much as I care for him, I’m not going to put him in danger.”

“But he’s in danger right now, isn’t he?” Tyler gestured with his hands. “Five students disappear, so does Mr. Walls, and the professor could be next if we don’t take action.”

“And you could be in trouble if you go down there,” Diane said. “The professor does not want anything to happen to you.”

“And I don’t want anything to happen to the professor. Do you?”

Diane cupped her hands and pressed them against her chin. She didn’t seem to know what to say. Tyler had a stray thought, that he wasn’t being fair to her or the Network. But all he could think about was doing something to help Roger.

“I mean, how has the Network handled things for the past, what is it, seventy-five years or so?” Tyler stood up. “I’m sorry, but if there’s going to be change—real change—then we need to take action.” He spun away from her.

She leaned forward. “Tyler, wait…”

But he opened the door and marched out. He strode down the hallway, eyes straight ahead. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been so harsh with Diane. But it hurt him, knowing that she cared for Roger, but didn’t feel compelled to help him. How could she leave him behind like that?

He approached the lounge and almost ran into Jennifer Blake. Great, she was the last person he wanted to be around.

“Hey, slow down,” she said.

“What do you care?” He brushed past her, but felt a tug on his arm.

“Mind, I need you to listen to me.”

She pulled him away from the door and toward the opposite wall. When she released her grasp, he stumbled and stared hard at her. What was her problem, anyway?

“They told me you could be a great leader,” she said. “I want to believe that, but the way you’re acting makes that difficult.”

“What is it with you?” He threw up his hands. “All I hear from you is criticism.”

“I’m trying to keep you from becoming what I once was.”

He blinked. “What are you talking about?”

She leaned against the wall. “When I was twenty-one years old, my mother died. Publicly, they said she had food poisoning. But I learned that the government arranged for poison to be slipped into her meal because she was too critical of the government.”

She pushed back her hair. “I remember how angry I felt. I wanted to get at the government so badly. Make them pay for it. I wanted to hurt them, hurt the president, the way they hurt me. But then I met James Harrison. He calmed me down, made me realize that if I did anything rash, I could make things worse. And he told me about the Network.”

She crossed her legs. “My mother kept a diary on her tablet. The last entry she wrote was that patience can be a difficult thing to learn, but when you learn it, you find it will serve you well. She also wrote that, while she hoped for Novusordo to change in her lifetime, if she could inspire others to push for that change, she’d know she’d done well.”

Tyler wanted to say something, but she held up her hand. “What stood out the most was she believed that change could happen if you gave it time. Be persuasive, difficult as it may be. It’s the best way to ensure you don’t lose much. Because in the past, when people tried to change things, they became aggressive, resorted to violent measures, used tactics that did more harm than good. Those tactics are what led to the rise of Novusordo. So if change is going to come, it has to come the right way. Through persuasion, not violence.”

Tyler’s eyes narrowed. He didn’t doubt she told the truth. But the tone of her voice sounded like a scold. That he didn’t appreciate. It made him harder to accept that she might be right about being patient. “Why didn’t you tell us this when we all first met?” he asked.

“I wasn’t sure about the six of you.” She relaxed her posture. “I heard about the things you did, and wondered if having such power was a good thing, especially somebody your age. I wanted to see firsthand what you were all about.”

“So you don’t trust us?”

She shook her head. “No, it’s that I wasn’t sure if the things you could do were the best way to bring that change. I’m not convinced yet, but the patience your friends are showing, at least from what I’ve observed, give me reason to believe. But it’s not only about that. It’s about understanding what you are up against and what happened before, about not repeating those mistakes.”

She locked eyes with him. “And believe me, Mind, there is a lot you need to understand.”

Tyler’s gaze hardened. He wanted to sympathize with her. But here was somebody like Arnold Walls, who thought that teens couldn’t handle this situation. That they were too young, too inexperienced, too reckless. Arnold rubbed him the wrong way, just like Jennifer.

But it didn’t matter. Arnold was in trouble, too. He may not like him, but he’d never turn his back on him if he might be in trouble, if the government came after him. Jennifer was no different. The government had no right to target anybody for death, whether he liked the person or not.

He thought about responding, but she raised her finger and spoke. “I don’t want you to dwell on how much you want to change things. Believe me, the more I dwelled on it, the worse I felt. Now, I haven’t given up on changing things, but I understand it comes with time and with patience, not violence. You need to understand that.”

She lowered her hand. He sighed but couldn’t deny she had a point. After all, he never wanted to hurt anybody when he used his powers. Still, he couldn’t help it. Something bothered him, that there was more to things than she let on. And he had to be sure of that. Though he may have promised he wouldn’t pry into the minds of those he respected, this was different. Even after everything she told him, she hadn’t earned his respect.

“All right, fine.” He extended her hand, acting like he wanted to make amends. “I’m sorry.”

She sized him up. He tried not to give away what he was thinking. After a moment, she took his hand.

That’s when Tyler focused on her. He kept it for a few seconds and heard enough to confirm his suspicions.

Professor Woods is in trouble.

She released his hand. “You should go join your friends.”

“I will.”

She turned and walked down the hallway. He entered the lounge. He knew what needed to be done, what he had to tell his friends. The Six Pack had to return to City 37N104W.

More About the Author

B.W. Morris is a longtime writer for small-town newspapers who put his inner comic book geek to work through writing novels. Born in Texas but grew up in Colorado, he has lived in New Mexico, Oklahoma and currently resides in Kingman, Kan. Greg Weisman, Suzanne Collins, Stan Lee, George Orwell, and Conor Friedersdorf all influenced his writing. Morris is a fan of the Young Justice animated series, the Arrowverse shows on the CW Network, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars films, and more graphic novels than he can keep track. You can learn more about his love for science fiction at his blog,, and his new website to be launched in June at

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GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW: Author Sinmisola Ogunyinka

I have a fabulous book to introduce today! It actually just released this week and already is ranked by Amazon as a “#1 New Release” in its category. So a congratulations goes out to author Sinmisola Ogunyinka both on her release and on her novel’s progress! I met Sinmisola through our publishing company’s Facebook page. That fabulous Clean Reads site that allows us to share information and encourage one another. Priceless, I tell ya’. Priceless. But, I won’t ramble on, I’ll get right to Sinmisola.

Than you again for being on the blog! First things first, can you tell us a little about your novel?

My novel, Under a Red Delta Sun, is a Young Adult African Suspense Thriller centered around three teenagers, all from wealthy families, but with different life issues. Two girls, Temly and Asabi are childhood friends with a secret between them: Asabi is being sexually abused by her stepfather, and planning to run away from home. Temly’s family could help but Asabi made Temly promise she would not tell her parents. On the day Asabi finally agrees Temly could let her parents in on the matter, Temly goes missing.

Fela, the third teenager is a pastor’s son struggling to follow his father’s faith. When he discovers some secrets about his father’s occultism, his life is thrown into a tumult. He finds himself in an evil forest with Temly and the two must find a way out or die trying.

Wow! Sounds rather complex and layered. And deep. Just how I like my stories! What was the inspiration for Under a Red Delta Sun?

I always tell people I don’t have a particular form of inspiration except the Holy Spirit. This novel particularly started as just a gem and I started asking my many “what ifs.” The teenagers in the novel inspired me to write more than any other thing I can point to.

Don’t you just love it when the characters run away with the story? It’s fascinating to me how they do that.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Writing, like many other creative jobs, needs constant training and interaction with other writers. To become a better writer, I would suggest you engage with other writers, attend conferences, and allow other reads influence you.

Great advice. Love it!

How about your process… Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

My favorite time to write is in the night when my kids are asleep, and everywhere is quiet. Unlike many writers who may like to play music while writing, I like total silence, and I write best at my desk.

Gotta have some space from the kiddos for sure 🙂 They sure can play keep away with the “muse”.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It varies. I wrote 90,000 words in two months some years back. I could also write 20,000 in a week. All depends on how “fevered” I am. But on the average, I write a book in a month.

That’s fast, Sinmisola! But I know how that is. Sometimes the story just “pours” out of you, doesn’t it?

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Well, the novel sounds dark a lot when you read the blurb but there is a little romance, and filial in the book, which I find warming. It’s not all dark.

Good to know. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share? 

I am currently working on a contemporary women fiction novel set in Manhattan. It is my first book set completely in the United States, which I find quite exciting. The novel is about a Christian woman whose husband is arrested on charges of murder and child trafficking. Her peaceful safe world is suddenly thrown into confusion. The worst in all of it is that she believes her kind, loving, Christian husband has been wrongly charged.

Interesting. Thank you again for being on the blog and for sharing about your release. I am going to turn things over to more information about the book (and an excerpt!). But keep reading and you’ll find information about a GIVEAWAY!!!

Under a Red Delta Sun

The day starts as any other for fifteen-year old Temilola (Temly) Cole, but ends in an unknown forest. She has made a stop at her best friend Asabi’s house and missed the school bus. The taxi she got into is filled with evil men and Temly will spend the next two weeks fighting for her survival.

Asabi has been sexually abused by her stepfather for ten years. In all that time, she has carefully sought out her biological father, and planned to run away from home. The day she chooses to execute her plan, however, turns out to be a nightmare. Temly goes missing. Asabi is conflicted between going on with her plans, and staying back to help search for Temly.

Fela Peter was always seen as the black sheep of the family. He refuses to conform to the strict standards of his fanatic father and overtly submissive mother. However, he is sure at least his father is into something more than the Christian faith he professes. Encouraged by his older outcast friend, Law, Fela goes in search of the truth about his father and ends up in an evil forest.

Under a Red Delta Sun weaves a beautiful, heart-stopping, suspense-filled adventure for three teenagers who have done nothing wrong except being right.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Ibadan, Nigeria

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 0650 hours

Her friend sat on her bed, staring out the window. She was dressed in her uniform, black sandals, and light-colored tights.

Temly feared the worst. She sat on the bed beside Asabi and tapped her shoulder. “Hey.”

Asabi regarded her with soulless eyes, her lips slanted upwards in an apparition of a smile. “Hey.”

“Why weren’t you outside waiting for the bus?”

“I decided to stay home.”

“Where are your parents?”

Asabi folded her hands on her laps and took a deep breath.

“What’s wrong? When we spoke this morning, you were fine. Where’s Missis?” Temly’s hand rested on Asabi’s shoulder.

“Missis was already up, cleaning. I heard her somewhere in the house.” Asabi continued to stare. “He came in—this morning. Just after we spoke.”

Temly spun her around and summoned control in her voice. “How? I called about half an hour ago.” She couldn’t believe her ears. A deep anger rose within her belly, and for a moment, a thick lump hung in her throat.

Asabi winced. “These days he’s a bit faster. He came in as you hung up. I was dressed. Went into the bathroom—” She wound her arms around her waist.

Temly’s eyes pooled. She swallowed and fought for words. The look in Asabi’s eyes hurt the most. Empty. Defeated. “I can’t believe this,” she whispered.

Asabi shrugged again. “Such is life.”

Temly sprung to her feet and paced the small room. “Let me tell my parents. Please, Asabi, I can’t take this anymore.” Pain in her heart made her fight for air.

“What can your parents do?” Asabi’s blank expression had not changed since Temly walked into her room. “I just want to live free of him.”

Temly fought tears. “Okay, let’s go to school. At least, we can think about this. If you don’t want my—”

Asabi laughed for the first time, but it was forced. “Temly! All ready to push on, take action. Why am I not surprised?”

Her almond eyes twinkled the way Temly always loved. She was so pretty when she was happy, and it made Temly’s heart bleed. “You don’t deserve this pain, Asabi. A pretty girl like you doesn’t.”

“And ugly girls do?”

“You know what I mean.”

“You’re good at thinking, aren’t you?” Asabi’s words laced with sarcasm. “It’s not so easy, young lady.”

“This is not funny anymore—”

“Go.” Asabi lifted her chin, but her lips quivered. “Come here after school, and we’ll talk. I have a plan.”

Hope swelled in Temly’s heart. At least now Asabi wanted to do something about her situation. She took a deep breath. “Now you’re talking.” She laughed and tickled Asabi. “I’m glad you’ve found a way to escape this.”

“I’m still thinking, and I have to be ready to act today. So, you go on. When you come back from school, we’ll talk.”

“No, tell me now.”

Asabi shook her head.

“I know I may never understand what you go through when he touches you, but trust me, I will help you any way I can. What’s your plan?”

From the first day she learned Asabi’s stepfather sexually abused her, Temly vowed to do something. At the time, all Asabi asked was sworn secrecy. She couldn’t even bear to let her mother know.

“With the message you got yesterday, I have a plan, too. Did you reply?” Asabi drew in a shuddering breath and shook her head. Temly sighed. “Wait a minute. Is your mother not home? Where was she when he—he came?”

Asabi exhaled. “She slept in the house last night. With him, too.” She swallowed. “I don’t know where she is now.”

“And he had the guts to come to your room this morning? With her just across the corridor?”

Asabi nodded. “He’s quiet about it most of the time. Except when she’s not home.” She choked on her words. “Go to school, Temly. You’re running late—”

Temly wrapped her arms around her. “I’ll have to get a taxi. The bus probably left without us.”

Asabi drew in another ragged breath and pulled Temly closer. She explained her plan.

Temly nodded. “I understand. Leaving sounds fair.”

“I can’t—don’t want to come to school today. I just want to gather my thoughts.” Asabi moistened her lips. “So, you just go on, okay?”

“Sure. See you later.”

Asabi nodded and waved her off. Temly stopped at the door to say something, but Asabi sat staring out the window just as she had moments before. Temly felt her friend’s pain on a new level and swore to help.

She walked out of the house, running her hand over the textured surface of the walls, ruminating over her discussion with Asabi. Her heart raced in fear and excitement. “It is a good plan,” she murmured.

As expected, the bus had left, so she waited by the road until a taxi approached. She waved it down and negotiated the fare. One of the two men in the taxi sat in front with the driver, while the other sat alone at the back. Temly joined the man in the back with a soft greeting. The man mumbled a response. She hoped she would get to school before the assembly in the school hall was over. Her school treated tardiness as a serious offence, and Temly would rather avoid discipline today.

A few meters down the road, the taxi driver stopped to pick a pregnant woman. The man beside the driver got into the back of the taxi with Temly and the other man to allow the pregnant woman to sit in front.

The man pushed Temly in, and squeezed her against the other man. She started to protest, but the strange look in his dark eyes made her shudder. A sneer etched his face.

“This one will bring a good price.”

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More About the Author

My name is Sinmisola Ogunyinka. I like people to call me Sinmi (See-me) I am originally from Nigeria, West Africa. I came to live in America January 2017, and so all of my formal education was in my home country. I majored in Economics from the Obafemi Awolowo University, and later got into the Jerry B. Jenkins’former Christian Writers’Guild courses. I have worked in accounting, office and human resource administration, property management and facility management. I married my college sweetheart, Afolarin, who studied civil engineering but later became a pastor full time. We lived in Calabar in the Southern part of Nigeria for about sixteen years, had four kids, and several foster kids. Then we moved to Pretoria, South Africa to plant a church, and now we are in the United States. My husband is an ordained apostle and a church planter.

I started writing at a pretty young age. I wrote my first story at the age of ten. My reading teacher was quite engaging, and she sparked my first thoughts about creating stories of my own.

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Sinmisola is offering a digital copy of my book, Under a Red Delta Sun, to one (1) winner. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter to enter.

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CRITIQUE IN WRITING: Can you handle the truth?

In life, there are many different types of people…different types of personalities. And, as a leader in various organizations and ministries, I’ve discovered the need for this variety. Especially on your core team.

You need those that I call “The Cheerleaders”. These are your optimists, the glass-is-half-full kind of people. They will walk into a meeting and say “the speaker was great! The music was fabulous! I loved           , and           , and           ! The group seemed engaged! But it was difficult to notice ’cause I was having such a good time!”

But you also need “The Realists”. These are the glass-is-twice-as-big-as-it-needs-to-be folks. “It was good. The speaker did well, but the group started to lose touch near the end, maybe we could limit the speaker’s time by 5-10 minutes next time. The room was a little chilly, so perhaps we bump it up a few degrees too.”

These people are NOT downers (glass-half-empty people). They are VITAL! If we only had Cheerleaders, you would never know what needs to be tweaked for a more optimal experience. You need the folks that have an eye for balance, an eye for feedback and critique. They will help improve the meeting for the group. That is the only way sometimes. Because as the planner, or writer, you can be too close to the work.

Now, there is that third category, “The Downers”, who will find something negative (not constructive) to say about anything and everything. The difference? They don’t offer helpful solutions. There is a general tone of disapproval and an attitude of wanting to tear down the efforts made. These comments/reviews are terribly helpful. You can still learn from them. And I encourage you, in your writing or in your events, to find any nuggets of truth in there, though probably not as extreme as delivered (in most cases), and put the rest out of mind.

Where does critique come from?

As a writer, and in other art forms and most any leadership role, your work is constantly critiqued. But let’s focus on writing. From the time you put pen to paper or keystroke to word processor, your art is subject to someone else’s opinion. Provided that you do, indeed, share it.

The first place it is likely to be seen/shared, is with a critique partner. This is a person (online or in person) you have found who is at your craft level or ahead of you that can look at your work with an outsider’s eye and give you feedback. They are not as close to the work as you are and they can help you find some of those holes that may accidentally find their way into your manuscript. What I mean is that, we writers do a lot in our heads, right? Sometimes we think there is more on the page than is actually there. A crit partner can help us spot where we left something unsaid that we explained “in our head”.

Likewise, a critique group is another wonderful place to get feedback from a variety of writing levels. I would advise you join a group (whether online or in person) that has a least one published author in it. Or else you may be the blind leading the blind. These groups can help you gauge what different types of readers will get from your work: what questions they may have and their reactions–what is funny, what jokes don’t go over, what is intense, etc.

Beta readers, in my opinion, are a must. These are a small group (I would suggest only 3-5 people) that read your entire manuscript to give you content feedback. If you select friends, make sure they are friends who are not “Cheerleaders”, but are more of the “Realist” bent. Definitely a friend that will be honest with you. Or select people that aren’t connected to you at all. As a writer of clean Historical Romance, it is important that I chose my primary beta readers wisely: one has a History degree, one has a literature degree, and one is a freelance editor. They give me mainly feedback on content–plot holes, character development, storylines, etc. Not so much grammar (although they do mark those too)…that is not their primary function.

Then your manuscript needs to have an editor. This is a person who is a professional. In a publishing house, your manuscript will go through three (3) editors: content, line (think primarily grammar), and proofing. Keep in mind, the editor is not out to “get you”, shame you, or hurt you. Their purpose is to make your manuscript, your story shine. To make it as strong as it can be. If you go in with that attitude, you will have a much better experience. Even when an editor really kicked my butt (that manuscript needed it), I thanked her, rolled up my sleeves, and went to work. That book is one of my top selling and highest reviewed works. She was right. Totally right. Everything that she said.

Finally, once your work is out there, you will face reviewers. Now, they will come from all three categories: cheerleaders, realists, and downers. Don’t let any of them get to your head…or your heart. Don’t let the cheerleaders inflate your ego, or the downers break your heart. It is one person’s opinion. If you do read your reviews (and some authors choose to just not), do so to learn from them and make your next book even better.

Bottom line, we need critique. But it is important that we approach it with the right perspective. It is a tool. An opportunity…for growth. For improving our craft.

You can either take advantage of it. Or fight it.


GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW: Author Jordan Elizabeth

Hello, readers! Welcome to another edition of the blog! I have a fabulous YA author for you to meet today – author Jordan Elizabeth. She is a Clean Reads author who I met through our fabulous Clean Reads Author Facebook page where we can connect, cross promote, share advice, and generally support and encourage one another. One of the many wonderful things about Clean Reads Publishing! Love it! At any rate, let me stop blabbering and get to Jordan.

Thanks for being on the blog, Jordan! First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

In Kistishi Island, Serena is an outcast. She is plagued by imaginary friends, and everyone tells her she needs to grow up. She runs away to join her mother on an archeological dig on the fictional Kistishi Island. There, Serena learns her imaginary friends are actually goddesses.

What an interesting concept….turning fictional friends into reality. What was the inspiration for Kitishi Island?

Long ago, I read an article about a man who was sad that his imaginary friends abandoned him. That stuck with me, and then when I was vacationing in Niagara Falls, I came up with the idea to do a story about a girl with imaginary friends who runs away to a tourist destination.

I, too, find that new places inspire me. But I also find that something as simple as a historical object can as well. It is true that inspiration can come from anywhere…

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Always! I wanted to be a writer and a teacher. I’m currently both, so that makes me ecstatic.

Neat. I love when I hear of young dreams coming true!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

As a toddler, I would sit in my stroller making up stories based on picture books my mother bought me. I would do that the entire time she and my grandmother went shopping.

Now, as I always say, there are parts of the process we love (or we wouldn’t be doing this), but there are parts we don’t necessarily like. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Not having enough time! I have a one-year-old son and he keeps me busy. I try to squeeze in a chapter a night depending on what else is going on.

Truth! There is never enough time!

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Write what you love. Don’t write a story just because you think it’s what others want to read.

I agree whole-heartedly. You always hear “write what you know”…and I agree with that to a certain extent, but I do agree with you that it is just as important (if not more so) to write what you love.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a nonfiction piece – The Lost Village of Delta by Mary J. Centro. My current manuscript is a young adult novella based on the flooding of Delta, NY to create a reservoir.

I like to set the mood for my writing sessions. I find I need to about 80% of the time to transition from the craiziness of life 🙂

What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I need complete silence. The slightest thing distracts me.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I like to write best at night. I have to be alone at my desk or I’m too distracted. My cat doesn’t count. She offers moral support.

That’s sweet 🙂 Though I’m more of a dog person…

How long does it take you to write a book?

It used to take me 3-4 months to write a book. Lately, it’s been about one book a year. I understand it’s because of growing up and having new responsibilities. I love my life.

I am in the same boat. With the marketing and promoting, plus the other life stuff, there’s just not as much time to dedicate to writing only.

Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb?

The story involves a romance between the main character and the king’s advisor. It’s a sweet romance that will have you saying “aww.”

I can get on board with that! Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

My WIP is tentatively titled Delta. The story will span a few years, from when the state decides to flood the village of Delta to when they do. It is seen through the eyes of a young girl.

Interesting. Thanks again for joining me today and for sharing about your book and your process. And I will now turn it over to the readers and let them do what they do: read about the book!

Kitishi Island

Serena Cole can kick serious butt thanks to young women only she can see. School bullies aren’t a problem, but Serena’s mental health might be. To shield Serena from a dark secret, her family tries to convince her that her friends are imaginary.

Fleeing her distrustful aunt, Serena joins her mother on an archeological dig at Kistishi Island. There, Serena discovers an ancient scroll and realizes her invisible friends are goddesses native to the island, and they are in danger of enslavement for their abilities. Only Serena can save her friends if she can discover the past her family has hidden her entire life – the reason why only she can see the goddesses.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Aunt Nikki’s scream tore her from her fears. The creature had her aunt’s arm twisted behind her, while its other hand pinned her leg down. As its mouth descended toward Aunt Nikki’s shoulder, Serena slammed the tome across the creature’s face and heard something snap. For a moment, she thought it was dead, but the creature moved its head back into position, its red eyes boring into hers.

When it hissed and snapped at her, she swung the tome again, slapping it harder. Talons brushed her back. Her pleather pants dug into her hips by the belt loops as her feet lifted off the ground.

Serena twisted around, but the creature lifting her a few feet off the ground only shrilled in triumph. Its feet caught around her legs, turning her so it could get a better grip. She fought harder, thrashing her body more violently. One of the shirt’s straps tore and she sagged, her body spinning in its grasp. Serena’s heart thudded against her chest. She stabbed the edge of the tome into the creature’s arm; the cut welled with green slime. It released her, beating its wings, and she fell to land in a roll.

She darted between the tents as the wounded creature shrieked its pain. As she sped around another tent, a second creature slammed into her. It scrabbled for the tome, snaring the velvet. She turned on her heels, felt the velvet tear. The ground rose up, sand spinning under her boots. She slid, and in the next second, her feet touched nothing.

The creature held her under the arms, talons scraping her skin as it attempted to jerk the tome away. She spat at it, kicked. She lashed her heel across its face.

A third gargoyle grabbed her around the waist, ascending into the sky. As the world spun, Stanomar screamed, “Serena!”

Something grabbed the creature from behind. It shouted, twisting in the air to throw off the hindrance. The talons dug into her hips, one tearing a hole in her pants. She craned her head and spotted Stanomar’s face over the creature’s shoulder. He was flushed red, his lips parted in a growl.

They rose higher. Serena sensed the land dipping away. The wind tore at her, brushing over her skin faster as the creature increased the flapping of its wings. She dared to look down, screaming as she saw desert pass beneath them. Even when she craned her head, she couldn’t see the ruins anymore…no – not ruins at all, but underground pyramids of a labyrinthine society.

Stanomar wrapped his hands around its thick throat to force it into submission, but the creature tried to knock him off with its spiked tail.

“Be careful!” Serena craned her head to see him. Beyond, another black streak appeared in the sky, drawing nearer. “There’s another coming!”

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More About the Author

Jordan Elizabeth is the author of thirteen young adult fantasy novels. She writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams. When she’s not creating art or searching for lost history in the woods, she’s updating her blog. Jordan roams Central New York, but she loves to travel.

You can contact Jordan via her website, Signed copies are available on her website.

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Jordan is offering to one (1) winner, randomly chosen by Rafflecopter, an ebook copy of her novel Rogue Crystal. Please follow the directions below:

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GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW: Author Marie Sontag

Hello, readers! I am only so eager to introduce you to this week’s author. The history buff in me is just thrilled. Author Marie Sontag writes middle grade and YA Historical Fiction. I met her through the ACFW Historical Fiction genre Facebook page. Once again, just another perk of being a member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I highly recommend joining this or another writing group. Those of you who have been following the blog for a while may remember that the ACFW holds a large conference every year, they have online classes each month for continuing education, they have accountability sites for pages edited and daily word counts, online critique groups, and so much more!

But, I know you are probably wanting to learn more about Marie Sontag. Well, let us wait no longer…

Welcome to the blog, Marie. Thanks for joining us! First, can you tell us a little about your novels.

As a former social studies teacher, I love bringing the past to life. My Ancient Elements series for middle grade readers takes them on an adventure with twelve-year-old Sam (Samsuluna), a supposed orphan in ancient Mesopotamia. In book one Sam’s mother dies, so he wants to join a caravan traveling from Babylon to Tyre in order to find his uncle and escape the clutches of his imprisoned father. He ends up getting adopted by a Babylonian healer, but still wants to find his uncle. Before he can get to Tyre, he must solve the mystery of the stolen jewels. Book two takes place in Egypt where King Hammurabi sends his adoptive father to study medicine. Sam and his friends try to uncover the secret of an alabaster jar in a hidden tomb. In book three, now at the age of fifteen, Sam must escape Mycenaean pirates, an evil king in Crete, and confront his vengeful father when Sam, his uncle, and his father meet up in Tyre (Phoenicia). Will he solve these mysteries? At what cost?

Rising Hope, a young adult historical novel, is book one of the Warsaw Rising Trilogy. Book one tells the story of six teens who, through loss, find hope as they fight against the Germans when their Boy Scout and Girl Guides troops join forces with the Polish Underground Army during the 1944 Warsaw Rising.

Wow! You have my Historical Fiction heart thumping pretty hard! I am loving it! And I have to ask, especially since this is a subject you teach…would you share some of the more historically significant events behind your stories?

In the Ancient Elements series, Sam’s adventures come into conflict with the laws of Hammurabi, king of Babylonia. Sam lied about being an orphan and gets adopted by a famous asu (healer), named Balashi. Sam later learns that Hammurabi’s laws, one of the first codes to be set in stone, demand that a man who steals the son of another must be put to death. Fearing officials will discover he’s not truly an orphan, Sam runs away from his adoptive father in order to protect the asu’s life.

In book two, Sam and his adoptive family move to Egypt after Hammurabi sends Balashi there to learn from this medically advanced society. In the process, Sam finds himself in the middle of a plot to overthrow the Pharaoh when Sam and his adoptive sister stumble onto the mystery of a hidden tomb.

In book three, Amata falls in love with a Phoenician merchant who wants to help Egyptians overthrow their wicked rulers and reinstall a just Pharaoh. Amata and her friends try to prevent the Hyksos (Canaanite warriors from the Edomite, Amorite, Jebusite, Hittite and Moabite clans) from taking over lower Egypt.

Before the fighting in Egypt begins, Sam sails for Phoenicia to find his uncle. On the way, he is captured by Mycenaean pirates, then rescued by princess Ariadné from Crete. Ariadné helps Sam escape from her father, King Minos, by trailing a thread that leads Sam through the maze of their palace at Knossos to a safe exit. From Crete he sails to Cyprus, and finally to Tyre in Phoenicia.

While Sam and Amata face their perilous adventures, Sam’s father is released from prison and joins a caravan from Babylon to Tyre. He plans to get revenge on his brother, Zim, and his son, Sam, because he blames them for all his troubles. On the caravan route, he fights desert bandits and learns a little about the Canaanite religious temples and gods, especially their gods Baal and Dagon, and the Phoenician goddess, Astarte.

In Rising Hope, the main fictional character and his sister are paired with historical Polish Scouts. The Scouts join forces with the Polish Underground Army in hopes of overthrowing the Germans before the Soviets “liberate” them. These teens attempt this suicidal mission, known as the sixty-three days of the Warsaw Rising, because, as a Christian nation, they don’t want the Allies to give their country to the Communists when the Germans are finally defeated. In the end, the Soviets are allowed to take over the Polish nation, but the Polish people retain a hope that one day they will regain their freedom. Book two and three trace this path of hope through the eyes of the series’ main character and his friends, including historical figures. As spies, they fight against Communism during the Cold War until, in 1989, their hope is finally realized. Once again, Poland becomes a sovereign nation—forty-four years after their Warsaw Rising.

That makes me all the more intrigued. You have packed these books with history!! Fascinating! Please, tell us…what was the inspiration for these novels?

I was inspired to write the first book of the Ancient Elements series, The Bronze Dagger, when I walked into an antiquities store and saw a bronze dagger hanging in a display case. I wanted to buy the dagger because it was found in ancient Mesopotamia and dated back to around 1800 BC. At the time, my students were studying ancient Mesopotamia, and King Hammurabi who ruled Babylonia around 1790 BC. I thought how inspired my students would be if they could touch and hold the dagger! Since I couldn’t afford to buy it at the time, I asked myself, “If that dagger could talk, what would it say? Who made it? Why did they make it? Then I decided to write a historical fiction book for my students from the possible answers I got to these questions. I had so much fun writing book one that it evolved into a series of three books.

Rising Hope was born out of a trip my husband and I took to Warsaw, Poland in 2008. In 1996, we had a sixteen-year-old Polish student live with us for a year. Now, twelve years later, we had an opportunity to visit him in Warsaw, and to meet his family and fiancée. When he took us on a tour of the Warsaw Museum, I learned about the Polish Scouts’ involvement in trying to overthrow the Germans in Poland before the Soviets came in and took over their country. I had never heard of this event and wanted the students I taught back in the United States to learn what teens their age had attempted to accomplish, in spite of the hardships, because they loved freedom and refused to give up without a fight.

Inspiration does come from anywhere. You mentioned you were a teacher. Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was little, I always had a hard time falling asleep, so I’d make up stories to occupy my mind. As I grew older, I wanted to be a teacher because I loved learning new things, and always grasped them better when I could explain them to someone else. I still loved making up stories, so I began to write them in journals. When I was a Girl Scout, I worked on a creative writing badge and submitted a story to a children’s magazine. It wasn’t accepted, but it whetted my appetite for writing. As an adult, I continued to write and submit while teaching middle school and enjoyed both endeavors. In 2012, I had to retire early from teaching due to a physical disability. That’s when I began the adventure of writing full time!

I totally understand the teaching piece. I was a non-traditional (zoo/museum) educator for twenty years in the field of Biology and Chemistry. A little bit more of a leap to Historical Fiction/Romance.

Now, as much as we love writing and getting those wonderful ideas onto paper, we know it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. There are things we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

I dread the marketing phase of the writing process. It’s necessary, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

You and me both! Whew! Is that a learning process!

I am forever the learner…I try never to miss an opportunity. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

My first tip for becoming a better writer is to read books on writing, such as books on character development, deep point of view, the “Moral Premise”, and plot charting (my favorite is called the “W Plot”), and to do this only when you are writing so you can put what you learn into practice. My second tip is to get involved with other writers who will provide honest and helpful feedback.

Great tips! Thanks! I do try to alternate between reading fiction and non-fiction (a writing craft book). I think we also learn intuitively from other writers. And…well, many writers were first avid readers I think.

What are you currently reading?

Currently I’m reading Hamilton and Peggy! by L.M. Elliott.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

My current work in progress, tentatively titled Yosemite Discovered, will serve as book two of a proposed historical fiction series about two orphans who travel west with their guardian just before the California gold rush. Book one is written for middle-grade readers as they follow the thirteen-year-old fictional main character, Daniel Whitcomb, and his ten-year-old stepsister, Hannah, on their wagon train adventures from Illinois to California with their guardian, Jim Savage a historical figure. While book one is written for middle-grade readers (coming out after book two is completed), the second book, Yosemite Discovered, is written for young adults. Book two follows the now sixteen-year-old Daniel Whitcomb to the goldfields with Jim Savage where Daniel helps his guardian run trading posts as they attempt to repel Indians attacks and placate greedy miners, all-the-while trying to keep peace between the two. When an inevitable Indian war breaks out, Daniel follows Jim into the previously undiscovered Yosemite Valley to rout out marauding Ahwahneechee. Book three will follow the series’ characters into the country’s unfolding drama that culminates in the Civil War.

Marie, this has been just deliciously fascinating for me. I LOVE history and these details have been amazing…more so than you can know. I have been so thrilled to have you on the blog and to have you share about your books and your process.

But I want my readers to get a chance to check out the books even more and get to those excerpts and the details of the GIVEAWAY (below). Please, readers, enjoy!


Ancient Elements Book Trailer –

The Bronze Dagger

Samsaluna, a physically handicapped boy on the verge of adolescence, leaves his broken and abusive home in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains in an attempt to find his uncle in the city of Susa, near ancient Babylon. Befriending a young baker’s son and an asu’s daughter, Sam soon finds himself on a journey to the lively city of Babylon. By becoming a healer’s apprentice, Sam not only learns a valued and respected skill—increasing his prospects and status—but also endears himself to the great asu, earning himself a second chance at being part of a family. But when Sam’s past won’t stay behind him and his well-intentioned lies come to light, he risks losing it all. Brokenhearted that he has brought about his own downfall and has been abandoned by his new friends, Sam is forced to come to terms with his deceptions. His newfound understanding of justice, according to the code set forth by the great ruler Hammurabi, and the unyielding compassion shown to him by the asu must come into play before Sam can defeat the demons of his past, right his wrongs, and establish himself as the worthy apprentice and son he always hoped to be. Surrounded by the changing times in ancient Mesopotamia, Sam learns to cope with the past and thrive in the present in this coming-of-age middle grade story.

Enjoy an Excerpt

An Excerpt from The Bronze Dagger, Book One of The Ancient Elements Series

Sam’s brother dove into the cheetah with a dagger, and then stepped back. The wounded cat now turned on Yasmah. In the flickering firelight, Sam only saw the back of the cheetah’s head and Yasmah’s occasional lunges with the knife. Locked in a macabre dance, they tumbled for a few moments. Then it ended. The cheetah lay dead, blood trickling from its neck.

Sam hurried over to Yasmah. Blood oozed from a gash in his brother’s side. The red blotches on Yasmah’s tattered tunic showed where the cat’s claws had ripped into the flesh of his brother’s arms and chest. Yasmah’s breathing came hard and fast. . .

Yasmah gripped Sam’s arm. “Listen, little brother. I went to Ninkas’ house to steal back our daggers, but I could only find one.” His teeth clenched as he raised the dagger, still stained with the cheetah’s blood. “May it bring you luck. Take it and find Uncle Zim. He’s all you have now.”

The Alabaster Jar


Sam held up the lamp and studied the room’s walls. Hieroglyphs of prayers, painted pictures of the gods, and elaborate stone torch sconces adorned the area. There has to be more to this tomb. But what? Why were men sneaking in and out of it?

The Silver Coin

The Mycenaean captain laughed and addressed his prisoners. “By the time people realize you’re missing, you’ll all be slaves of Greek merchants or landowners. And I’ll be that much richer!” Sam swallowed hard. Now I’ll never find Uncle Zim. And who will want to buy a crippled slave? Numbness overtook him as he saw his hopes, like the sail of the Phoenician ship, go up in flames.

Rising Hope

Rising Hope tells the story of six teens that, through loss, find hope as they fight against the Germans when their Scout troops join forces with the Underground Army during the 1944 Warsaw Rising.

Looking back, eighteen-year-old Tadzio realized that it all began when his father walked out on him September 8, 1939. That same day, his Scoutmaster challenged Tadzio and his friends to give their all for Poland. At first, thirteen-year-old Tadzio said no. Now, five years later, the Germans still occupied Poland. But at least Tadzio rose to the challenge. And he still had hope. This is how it began.

Rising Hope Book Trailer –

Enjoy an Excerpt

An Excerpt from Rising Hope, Book One of the Warsaw Rising Series

The three Scouts scurried to their assigned spots to begin their psychological warfare mission against the occupying Germans. After about ten minutes of painting the words Avenge Wawer on the sides of Warsaw’s buildings, Benyameen stopped. “We could cover a lot more territory if we found a shorter way to write Avenge Wawer.”

Tadzio looked at Benyameen. “You’re right. Now that we’ve graffitied several buildings on this street, maybe we could just use the first two letters of each word. Just PW—Pomścimy Wawer. Avenge Wawer.”

Krzysh nodded. “Good idea.” Krzysh began to paint the letter P on the side of a building.

Suddenly Benyameen jumped in front of Krzysh. “I have an idea.” Benyameen connected a W to Krzysh’s P by making the downward stroke of the P form the W’s middle, upward stroke.

Tadzio walked over and examined the graffiti. “It kind of looks like an anchor.”

The Scouts all took a step back and studied the symbol. Krzysh smiled. “You’re right. Kotwica—anchor. “From now on, let’s just paint an anchor with a loop on top. It’ll go a lot faster and people will still get the message.”

The Scouts worked with renewed energy. “PW,” Krzysh said as he painted the new sign. “You know, it could also stand for Polska Walcząca—The Fighting Polish.”

Tadzio thought about their new symbol for Avenge Wawer and how it could also mean The Fighting Polish. He wished he were fighting with more than just words and a paintbrush. In spite of the cold, heat rose inside his chest. First, the picture of over one hundred innocent Wawer boys and men lined up for a mass German execution came to mind. Then, the image of his mother behind prison bars flashed before him. Finally, he imagined himself pressing the cold barrel of a gun against a German’s head. Yet, no matter how hard he willed, he couldn’t imagine himself pulling the trigger. Lost in thought, Tadzio didn’t notice the German officer rounding the corner to his right until it was too late.”

Buy Links

Books can be purchased at and Barnes &

Bulk purchases can be made at discounted prices from Sunbury Press

More About the Author

Marie Sontag loves to bring history to life through historical fiction. With a BA in social science and an MA and Ph.D. in education, she says teaching middle school for over 15 years has kept her young. Her middle grade series, Ancient Elements, takes place in Ancient Mesopotamia: The Bronze Dagger, The Alabaster Jar, and The Silver Coin. When on author visits, Dr. Sontag is always accompanied by her authenticated 3,500-year-old bronze dagger and alabaster jar, as well as her 2,300-year-old Phoenician coin.

Her YA historical fiction book, Rising Hope, uses both fictional and historical characters to place readers alongside some of the Polish Boy Scouts and Girl Guides that helped the Polish Underground fight the Germans during WWII. Born in Milwaukee, WI and having lived FOREVER in San Jose, CA, Dr. Sontag currently makes her home North Richland Hills, TX where her favorite pastime is playing trains with her grandson.

Connect with Marie and her books

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Marie Sontag will be giving away one copy of The Bronze Dagger and one copy of Rising Hope. Please follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below to enter. And please note there are two prizes, so use the arrows to move to the next prize.

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