Talking Story

Adult Fiction

Elsie's Pic for Cover - croppedMy friend and fellow Jolly Fish Press author Elsie Park just published her debut novel, Shadows of Valor. (My review here.) Elsie stopped by to talk story with me as part of her blog tour.

You’ve been a wildland firefighter, a police officer, a musician and composer, a poet, a botanist, a zoologist, an ex-pat Christian missionary living in Italy, a stay-at-home-mom with three little ones, and now an author. I’m exhausted from just typing that! Any other careers on your bucket list?

I know that on several sites my author biography stated that I was a zoologist and botanist, but I actually only minored in those fields in college. I’m far from a scientific expert – LOL. Before I die, however, I’d LOVE to go on different trail hikes around the world to see castles, old monuments, ancient cities, natural structures, forests, wild animals and to try all the different, wonderful cuisine from all around the globe, but I’d like to stay in a hotel every night while I do all these things – LOL – I’m not a “happy camper.” My body doesn’t rough it very well. I need a mattress and pillow.

Me, too! (Showers and room service are nice!) We’ve all been fascinated by stories of people living double-lives, from superheroes like Batman to sleeper agent spies like Mr. & Mrs. Smith to the Count of Monte Crisco. What inspiration helped you tap into your inner secret identity when crafting the backstory to The Shadow?

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy is a story (and movie) I grew up with, and one that I absolutely love. I could watch the film with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour again and again. When I was working on my hero’s story and the challenges that came with being a spy, I often thought of Sir Percy from The Scarlet Pimpernel harboring his dual identity and having to keep it secret from the one he loved. My hero’s backstory, however, came to me from hearing and reading about the evils of modern smuggling and how it hurts innocent children and others.

In your novel you deal with themes of love and redemption. Tell me, does true love heal all wounds or are some betrayals too deep?

I believe we need to forgive others, leaving the ultimate judgment to God, but I’m the first to admit that forgiveness is easier said than done. I’m not perfect at this principle, but it’s a trait I endeavor to uphold. I believe true love CAN heal all wounds, regardless of the betrayal, and no matter how long it takes, but ONLY if all persons involved are working together toward the same goals: Repentance, restitution, forgiveness and becoming better. True love must encompass both sides of a partnership or this will fail. I believe that where betrayal occurs on one side, true love never really existed or was replaced by selfishness and greed. These can be remedied only through hard work, persistence and love. If half of the partnership doesn’t return love, betrays the love, doesn’t do his/her part to make the relationship work, or doesn’t change his/her ways, then the wounds inflicted will fester, but only on the part of the betrayer. True love can only help heal the people holding onto that love. The selfish people will not heal, but will suffer until genuine changes are made. Though true love on the part of the injured can aid eventual forgiveness for the other, it doesn’t necessarily mean trusting the betrayer again or remaining with that person in a relationship that’s harmful. Trust needs to be earned back by the genuine actions of the wrongdoer to repent and remain penitent.

Wow, did I just deliver a sermon? Sorry for that. *chagrin*

Your debut novel is out, yay! So what’s next?

I’m working on another story that takes place several years after Shadows of Valor. I’ve taken a minor character from Shadows of Valor and weaved a story around him. The story takes place in England again, but ventures into Scotland as well, drawing on the historical happenings and battles that took place between the countries at that time. You don’t need to read Shadows of Valor to read my next book. Though they share a common character, it’s not a sequel. It’s a separate story. I will, of course, compose a song for it (probably not three like I did for Shadows of Valor) and it will be another PG-rated romantic adventure.

Thanks SO MUCH for having me on your blog! You’re always so fun to hang out with, Lehua, both online and in person!062813_SOV_cover-flattened

Get your copy of Shadows of Valor on  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books starting September 7, 2013.

Connect with Elsie Park

Blog: http://www.elsiepark.blogspot.com/

 

Twitter: @elsiepark1

 

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorelsiepark

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Shadows of Valor by Elsie Park is a step back into a medieval England where a noblewoman’s outward scars hide an inner beauty and fire as a dark knight walks a fine line between upholding the law, revenge, and becoming what he most despises. It’s a delicate dance between light and darkness, subterfuge and revelation, and a flirtation that never wavers past squeaky clean.

But you knew the maiden and the Shadow were going to have a thing for each other, right?

Lady Elsbeth is the good maiden, serving as a midwife and caring more for the common people of Graywall than herself. Sir Calan returns to Graywall under the guise of courting Elsbeth’s cousin, but in reality he’s on a secret mission to hunt down smugglers and to stop a plot against Lord Shaufton. As his alter-ego the Shadow, Calan battles his own inner demons to find the good in humanity, a faith that’s unshakable in Elsbeth.

Like many hero in disguise tales, there’s mistaken identify, misdirection, conflicting codes of honor, and snappy banter between the would be lovers. Elsie’s meticulous research into medieval England is apparent in her details of period clothing, food, social graces, and music. To the modern ear, the novel’s language harkens to the more formal speech patterns of the past. While purists may spot a few rough patches, it doesn’t get in the way of the story.

Lovers of entertaining non-bodice-ripping medieval romances will find an easy afternoon escape into another world. When the dark knight has a thing for cinnamon, you know it’s gonna be good.

Shadows of Valor by Elsie Park is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available beginning September 7, 2013 as a hardback, paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books.

Elsie's Pic for Cover - croppedConnect with Elsie Park

Blog: http://www.elsiepark.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @elsiepark1

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorelsiepark

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Eric Bishop likes to say that The Samaritan’s Pistol is about a guy who had a gun and used it when he needed it. It’s a pithy, memorable way to describe his book and the cover certainly conveys this idea.

But Eric’s book is much deeper than a simple gunslinger western—although there are horses, guns, ranches, sheriffs, and hay bales a plenty. I tease him that it’s cowboys versus mobsters, but even that’s too reductive. The Samaritan’s Pistol blends several different genres into one rip-roaring read that sure to delight readers of thrillers, westerns, spy, literary fiction, and crime novels. There’s even a little skinny dip into romance.

With a few keystrokes, Eric paints rural life in small town Wyoming where people generally let people live as they please, but fiercely circle the wagons at the first sight outsider trouble for those they consider their own. I’ve lived in these kinds of communities and the small kindnesses that Eric describes are as real and as genuine as the characters he creates. In many ways his story is as much about this way of life as it is about murder, revenge, and money stolen from the mob.

But you knew it had to come back to the mob, right?

Jim Cooper’s ex-military and living as a rancher and wilderness guide in the town he grew up in. Except for a couple of ranch hands and his dog, Duke, he’s pretty much a loner. Like most modern-day cowboys, he’s got his own moral code about fair fights and damsels in distress, so it’s no surprise that when he comes upon three men on a mountain trail about to shoot an unarmed fourth he decides to even up the odds. When the smoke clears, Jim has three bodies to pack out, a dead horse, an injured man to care for, and more trouble than he knows what to do with. It’s a journey that sends him to Las Vegas and back and gives a new meaning to shoot, shovel, and shut up.

But I gotta warn you. The fight doesn’t end in this book. I think Eric’s got a couple more novels about Jim Cooper simmering in the ol’ dutch oven.

If you’re looking for the perfect read for the hardworking, rather-be-fishing, what-these-moody-vampire-kids-need-is-a-job man in your life, The Samaritan’s Pistol fits the bill.

The Samaritan’s Pistol by Eric Bishop is published Jolly Fish Press and is available as a hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books.eric_bishop

Connect with Eric Bishop

Website: http://eric-bishop.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ericbishopauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ericbishopwords

bone_coverRounding out my Samoan fiction summer reads is The Bone Bearer by Lani Wendt Young, book three in her Telesa series. With book 2, When Water Burns ending with a literal bang of epic proportions, the story landscape was wide open for book 3 and Lani didn’t disappoint.

In the hospital Leia doesn’t remember much of anything after the time she first arrived in Samoa. Daniel, Simone, and Keahi are strangers to her and you can imagine all the tip-toeing around her fire gifts. Meanwhile Telesa from all over the Pacific gather in Samoa to discuss an ancient doomsday prophecy about to be fulfilled, the return of Pele the terrible herself. Besides the looming threat that all male Telesa should be killed as soon as their gifts are discovered, there’s an ancient bone broken into three pieces and hidden that has to be recovered and united by our gang before Pele gets control and absorbs all the Telesa power forever.

Did I mention Leia’s acting weird?

We meet some new characters, see alliances formed and double-crossed, delve deeper into Pacific mythology flavored with Lani’s unique spin, see cultural biases in conflict as male Telesas are revealed, and finally learn who is Leia’s true soul mate.

It’s an entertaining and satisfying read full of smoky, smoldering heat, adventure, and shhhnap! comic relief from my favorite fa’afafine in literature, Simone. (I swear I went to school with the real Simone, but I digress.) Readers of the first books in the series will not be disappointed. The epilogue even jumps 10 years into the future to show us a sneak peek of how it all turns out. While this book was supposed to end the series, rumor has it that Lani isn’t quite finished with at least some of the characters. Can’t wait.

The Bone Bearer by Lani Wendt Young is self-published and available from Amazon as an eBook and trade paperback. Don’t miss the other works in the series: Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, I am Daniel Tahi (companion novella), and When Water Burns.

 

lani_wendt_youngConnect with Lani Wendt Young

Bookstore/Blog: http://laniwendtyoung.me/

Telesa Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Telesa-Trilogy/146318935466086?fref=ts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/laniwendtyoung

Click to read my review of Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, I am Daniel Tahi, When Water Burns, and The Bone Bearer.banner

 

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When Water Burns is the second book in the Telesa series by Lani Wendt Young. Loosely based on Polynesian legends, the series is about Leila and Daniel’s discovery of their telesa powers and the complicated alliances and challenges that come from having gifts of fire and water.

One of the great storylines in this book is the will they/won’t they molten fire dance of desire between Leila and Daniel. It’s a great example of a mature and realistic approach to acknowledging and dealing with those overwhelming feelings of new love. Too often fiction assumes that teens have no control or boundaries when it comes to intimacy. It’s also refreshing that it’s Daniel who has the strong moral code based on his grandparents’ traditional Samoan family values.

But When Water Burns is much more than a my-true-love’s-a-fire-goddess-which-threatens-my-own-masculinity tale. The Big Bads in book 1 haven’t been entirely defeated and a few new ones are introduced. Themes about the need to care for the earth and nature being out of balanced are further explored in a race to recover a lost nuclear device, and while readers hope that Leila and Daniel are destined to be together forever, it’s not smooth sailing. As much as she loves Daniel, Leila’s gifts might have something else in mind when Keahi paddles his canoe along Samoa’s shores, voyaging far from his Hawaiian home.

Lani takes us swimming in the deep end with her explorations of belonging, violence against women, gender inequality, and taking charge of one’s own life, but it’s all handled with a deftly light touch that doesn’t feel forced or preachy. Simone’s back and fiercer than ever with a wit and wisdom that keeps the story humming.

Although it’s a complete story, readers are going to want to read Telesa: The Covenant Keeper and I am Daniel Tahi, a companion novella before When Water Burns. Good thing the third book, The Bone Bearer is now available. You won’t believe what happens next!

When Water Burns by Lani Wendt Young is self-published and available from Amazon as an eBook and trade paperback. Don’t miss the other works in the series:Telesa: The Covenant Keeper,  I am Daniel Tahi, and The Bone Bearer.

lani_wendt_youngConnect with Lani Wendt Young

Bookstore/Blog: http://laniwendtyoung.me/

Telesa Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Telesa-Trilogy/146318935466086?fref=ts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/laniwendtyoung

Click to read my review of Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, I am Daniel Tahi, When Water Burns, and The Bone Bearer.

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As a writer and reader, I find it a fascinating experiment to retell a story from another character’s viewpoint in a way that is fresh and exciting. In her companion novella to the Telesa series, I am Daniel Tahi, Lani Wendt Young takes us back through the events in Telesa: The Covenant Keeper through the eyes of Daniel Tahi, the Samoan hunk and moral heart of the Telesa series.

Telesa, book 1, is told from Leila Folger’s outsider point of view. Raised in America by a Caucasian father, Leila doesn’t know her Samoan family or heritage and the reader is introduced to Samoan culture, values, and traditions through Leila’s eyes.  

In this novella, a basic understand of Samoan culture is assumed and the viewpoint and voice are convincingly masculine and testosterone driven. I gotta admit it was a lot of fun to revisit scenes already knowing Leila’s motivations and feelings and discovering Daniel’s. There’s also some new material in the novella that fills some narration gaps I felt were in Telesa. While you could skip this side story in the series and continue straight to book 2, When Water Burns, fans will enjoy getting to know Daniel better.

lani_wendt_youngI am Daniel Tahi by Lani Wendt Young is self-published and available from Amazon as an eBook and trade paperback. Don’t miss the other works in the series: Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, When Water Burns, and The Bone Bearer.

Connect with Lani Wendt Young

Bookstore/Blog: http://laniwendtyoung.me/

Telesa Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Telesa-Trilogy/146318935466086?fref=ts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/laniwendtyoung

Click to read my review of Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, I am Daniel Tahi, When Water Burns, and The Bone Bearer.banner

 

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‘Ewa Which Way by Tyler Miranda peels back the bandage of what adults think adolescence is like to expose the raw, oozing strawberry of reality. I loved this book for its ability to show all the complicated rules, expectations, and entanglements of being a 12-year-old boy trying to make sense out of adult behavior. Set in ‘Ewa Beach, Hawaii in 1982, Landon DeSilva and his brother Luke know that lickins can fall from the sky like lightning, that a certain side-eye from a parent means a storm’s coming, and that sometimes no matter how long you hold your breath you can’t escape, but have to endure the wave to the end.

For Landon, things are bad at home, but not bad enough. Not enough for child protective services to swoop in and spirit Landon and Luke to a new home, not enough for the cops to do more than show up when his parents’ fights wake the neighbors, and not enough for his mother to realize her marriage is over. Throughout the novel Landon tries to figure out what he’s supposed to do when there’s really nothing he can. His parents’ troubles are deep—there’s guilt, prejudices of class and race, loss, alcohol abuse and valium popping coping mechanisms, unfulfilled expectations, and sheer dysfunction. Landon sees it all with the clarity of a twelve-year-old and his reactions and understandings are heartbreaking and true. Adult readers will read not only the story, but all the words and character motivations between the lines. It’s powerful, immediate, and like a bloody scrapped knee, painfully evocative of the transition between childhood and adulthood.

Tyler’s lyrical writing hit so many of the details of growing up in Hawaii pitch perfect—the politics of school bullies and teachers, the endless hours of chores (I so remember scrubbing toilets with Comet and Scott towels and weeding Saturday mornings in heat that felt like standing in a clothes dryer), frustration with siblings who seem to glory in amplifying the problems instead of flying under the radar, conflicting messages between Catholic church teachings and family actions, and the blessed escape an hour in the ocean can be. I particularly enjoyed Tyler’s description of surfing and futzing around in the shore break as a kid. It’s some of the most evocative passages about being in the ocean I’ve ever read.

There’s an argument in literary circles about the difference between books about kids and books for kids, with the educational conceit that kids will read stories about characters their age and a little older, but not younger. While Landon begins the novel as a sixth grader, (well, technically looking back to sixth grade), this book is not for the fourth–seventh grade crowd. My recommendation is for readers grade eight to adult for several reasons.

‘Ewa Which Way is finely crafted as literary fiction and by that I mean it’s rich in symbolism, allegory, metaphor, and has well-developed themes. As entertaining as it is, it’s also perfect for deconstruction in a literature class for kids old enough to appreciate the nuances in the writing. There is much for readers to explore in this novel that goes beyond a simple analysis of plot, character development, and setting. Like To Kill a Mocking Bird, Huck Finn, and The Chosen, ‘Ewa Which Way is a peek into a world few readers know and understand with a storyline that feels universal.  (And yes, I do consider ‘Ewa Which Way  a Pacific Lit equivalent to Huck Finn. Thanks for asking.)

Another challenge is the language—there’s a lot of Pidgin English construction in the dialogue, mainly dis, dat, an’ da oddah ting kind of phrasing. This version of Pidgin is common on ‘Oahu public school playgrounds, and I think ultimately easier for the non-Pidgin speaker to understand than a more a hard-core version of Pidgin liberally sprinkled with words like hammajang, lolo, and pau. In telling his story Tyler used an authentic interpretation of Hawaiian Pidgin English’s sounds and rhythms that native Pidgin speakers will have no trouble reading, but it requires a little more decoding for English-only speakers. I think this extra work puts it out of the range of most mainland elementary and intermediate readers.

A final red flag that it’s for older kids is the occasional swearing, which might make parents and teachers of younger readers uncomfortable. Don’t worry, the language isn’t a  gratuitous Sopranos-bar-of-soap-on-the-tongue fest and it’s used to good effect. Yes, I understand kids know, hear, and use these words, but parents and teachers are the ones who buy the books, and in their eyes, there’s a big difference between what’s appropriate for sixth and eighth grade. It’s the only reason I mentioned it.

I loved this book and can’t recommend it too highly. It’s the kind of novel that makes you think about all the Landons in the world and the DeSilvas next door. Readers looking to remember growing up in Hawaii or wanting to experience life as an island kid are in for a real treat.

‘Ewa Which Way by Tyler Miranda is published by Bamboo Ridge Press and is available in trade paperback at most Hawaii bookstores and Costco or online at Bamboo Ridge Press, SPD, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

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Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, book 1 in the Telesa Series by Lani Wendt Young is nothing but trouble. It starts out innocently enough with orphaned Leila Folger as a recent private all girls’ high school graduate leaving Washington D.C. against her grandmother’s wishes to meet her mother’s Samoan family for the first time. Born with a privileged silver spoon and raised by her recently deceased Caucasian father, it’s easy to predict the conflicts of wealth vs. modest means, American permissiveness vs. traditional Samoan conservative values, and the culture shock of everything from the food to church to going to school with boys. Lani nails all the angst of being on the cusp of womanhood perfectly and these themes are well-developed and a pleasure to read.

But Sistah Lani didn’t stop there and that’s why this book is Trouble with a capital T. After I started reading, dishes piled in the sink. Kids were late to piano and soccer and shhhhh, Mom’s working was yelled all too frequently. Dinner? Order pizza, I’m busy.

Fo’real. The Covenant Keeper takes Samoan legends of Teine Sa and Pele, who I know best as the Hawaiian goddess of volcanos, and creates a new mythology that sizzles. Hoping to discover her Samoan roots, Leila uncovers family secrets beyond anything you can imagine.

I love that Leila is a modern woman who questions her gifts with a scientific mind. She respects tradition, but isn’t afraid to blaze her own trail or shake up the status quo.

Did I mention the love triangle? Break out the fans, people! I doubt there is anything more beautiful than a young Samoan man who is kind, moral, graceful, and athletic. Sparkly vampires? Give me a break! One love song from Daniel and you won’t remember why you liked vampires or werewolves in the first place.

And that’s the key–like the Twilight series this book is written for young adults from their perspective. Leila’s powers, love, relationships, and emotions are raw, new, and overwhelming. If you can remember being 18 and in love for the first time, you’ll be highly entertained as you escape to a fantastical vision of life in Samoa for an afternoon.

Telesa: The Covenant Keeper by Lani Wendt Young is self-published and available from Amazon as an eBook and trade paperback. Don’t miss the other works in the series,  I am Daniel Tahi, When Water Burns, and The Bone Bearer.

 

lani_wendt_youngConnect with Lani Wendt Young

Bookstore/Blog: http://laniwendtyoung.me/

Telesa Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Telesa-Trilogy/146318935466086?fref=ts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/laniwendtyoung

 

Click to read my review of Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, I am Daniel Tahi, When Water Burns, and The Bone Bearer.

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There are moments in The Kona Shuffle where your eyes scan the words as fast as they can as your jaw hangs open catching flies. Esther and Tommy with the gun. The naked guy strapped to a chair and tortured with cheesy steel guitar music and a sunburn from hell. Gerald who wears plaid shorts in the Kona heat and speaks in a brogue because the father he never met is Scottish. I can’t even mention the whole fertility idol thing without cracking up because I remember those from Woolworth’s tourist souvenir selection as a kid.

Tom Bradley’s The Kona Shuffle is a screwball detective comedy about four identical backpacks that get mixed up during a hard landing at the Kona Airport. Of course none of the bags are carrying the typical tourist maps and sunscreen and all of the owners are highly motivated to get their bags back. As the bags are stolen, swapped, and misdirected, deals are stuck and double-crossed in hilarious situations. It’s up to private investigator Noelani B. Lee to figure it all out and ultimately decide who gets the goods.

There’s just the right balance between locals only inside jokes and a fast-paced action-packed narrative. Like a good plate lunch, there’s a little bit of everything here that satisfies. If you’re heading to Hawaii, it’s a great beach or plane read that guarantees you’ll be checking menus for loco mocos and paying a little more attention to your fanny pack in Waikiki.

Can’t wait for the next Noelani adventure, The Hilo Hustle.

The Kona Shuffle by Tom Bradley, Jr., is self-published and available as an ebook or trade paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

tom_bradleyConnect with Tom Bradley, Jr.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TBradleywrites

Blog: http://headfirstintothedeepend.typepad.com/blog/

 

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My good friend Teri Harman’s book Blood Moon, book 1 in her Moonlight Trilogy is publishing June 22, 2013 by Jolly Fish Press. Teri stopped by to answer a few of my niele questions.

Blood Moon is about witches, covens, good versus evil, and strength in numbers. It’s also a love story. Which ideas came first?

The witches came first. I was inspired by an epic Halloween party I threw in 2010 at a creepy 100 year old school house. I’d read all this literature on witches to draw inspiration for games and decor so I had a great knowledge base to start from.

Willa and Simon came next because who doesn’t love some romance. But I also wanted it to be about finding your true self and defeating the odds. For witches that usually means an opposing force, hence the good vs. evil plot. Plus, I really love a seriously bad bad-guy and wanted to take a shot at creating one. I think Archard, the Dark witch, fits the description rather well.

 The magic in your Moonlight Trilogy is based on six gifts of magic with each witch being adept or gifted in only one: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Mind, or Dreams. Are some rarer or more valuable than others? Which gift would you choose and why?

The elemental gifts, Earth, Air, Fire and Water are more common. The two psychic gifts, the ones connected to the Otherworld (the realm beyond our own), Mind and Dreams, are much rarer. Because they are rare and tap into the unknown they are also more powerful or have the potential for more serious magic.

I think I’d want to be a Dreamer, or a witch with the Gift of Dreams, like Willa. I actually based her gift on my own wacky dreaming experiences. Some of her dreams in the book are inspired by my own. Plus how cool would it be to dream of the future and past and, like Willa, see and talk to ghosts?

 I know you love reading as much as I do. When you’re looking for sheer escape and entertainment, which authors or titles do you look to?

As an official story addict, I’ll take anything that has a fabulous tale and interesting characters. But when I sit down to read for pure pleasure, I usually chose something with a magical twist, whether it’s obvious magic or magic realism. Some of my favorite authors are Sarah Addison Allen, Paula Brackston, Eowyn Ivey, Roald Dahl, Erin Morgenstern, and Kate Morton.

 What can we expect in book 2?

Book #2, Black Moon, is all about Simon’s struggle to control and understand his wicked-powerful magic and Willa’s fight to find a way to help him. Everything that happened in book #1 is thrown into question and evil abounds in expected and unexpected forms.

The story has taken some pretty incredible turns and I hope readers love it as much as I do.

Thanks so much, Lehua! I always love ‘talkin’ story’ with you.

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To read my review of Blood Moon, click here.

Connect with Teri Harman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTeriHarman

Website: http://teriharman.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeriHarman

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