Here’s a first look at Matt Carter & F.J.R. Titchenell’s Splinters, the first book in The Prospero Chronicles. There’s a giftcard giveaway for this upcoming title on Goodreads. From the back cover:
Under ordinary circumstances, Ben and Mina would never have had reason to speak to each other; he’s an easy-going people person with a healthy skepticism about the paranormal, and she’s a dangerously obsessive monster-hunter with a crippling fear of betrayal. But the small town of Prospero, California, has no ordinary circumstances to offer. In order to uncover a plot set by the seemingly innocent but definitely shapeshifting monsters-that-look-like-friends-family-and-neighbors, the two stark opposites must both find ways to put aside their differences and learn to trust each other.
F.J.R. Titchenell and Matt Carter met and fell in love in a musical theatre class at Pasadena City College and have been inseparable ever since. Though they have both dreamed of being writers since a very young age, they both truly hit their stride after they met, bouncing ideas off of one another, forcing each other to strive to be better writers, and mingling Matt’s lifelong love of monsters with Fiona’s equally disturbing inability to forget the tumult of high school. They were married in 2011 in a ceremony that involved kilts, Star Wars music, and a cake topped by figurines of them fighting a zombified wedding party.
F.J.R. Titchenell’s blog: http://fjrtitchenell.weebly.com/
Matt Carter’s blog: http://mattcarterauthor.weebly.com/
F.J.R. Titchenell’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/FjrTitchenell
Matt Carter’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/mattcarterauthor
F.J.R. Titchenell’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/FJR_Titchenell
Matt Carter’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/MCarterAuthor
Splinters Goodreads page: www.goodreads.com/book/show/20860637-splinters
Isn’t gorgeous? This is the cover for Mojave Green, the second book in the Dimensions in Death series by the Brothers Washburn. Here’s the blurb.
Camm and Cal thought they had killed the unearthly creature that preyed upon the people in their isolated mining town deep in the Mojave Desert. Off at college, they feel safe, until they hear news that Trona’s children are still disappearing. Caught in that nightmare since childhood, Camm feels responsible for the town’s children. As her life-long best friend, Cal feels responsible for Camm. With unsuspecting friends in tow, they return to warn the town’s innocent people, but things have changed.
Death comes in a new form. The dimensional balance is altered. Crossovers multiply. The situation spirals out of control, and Cal is pulled into another world where his chances of survival are slim. Without Cal, Camm seeks help where she can, even from the dead. Soon, she is on the run from relentless federal agents, who are hiding secrets and pursuing their own agenda. The mysterious depths of the Searles Mansion may yet contain a key to stopping alien predators, if it is not already too late.
It sounds amazing. Be sure to pick up Pitch Green if you haven’t read it. You won’t want to miss a word.
A. L. Washburn and B. W. Washburn are licensed lawyers and full time writers, residing in Colorado and southern Utah. They grew up in a large family in Trona, California, a small mining community not far from Death Valley, and spent many happy days in their youth roaming the wastelands of the Mojave Desert. After living in Argentina at different times, each came back to finish school and start separate careers. Living thousands of miles apart, they worked in different areas of the law, while raising their own large families.
Each has authored legal materials and professional articles, but after years of wandering in the wastelands of the law, their lifelong love of fiction, especially fantasy, science fiction and horror, brought them back together to write a new young adult horror series, beginning with Pitch Green and Mojave Green. They have found there yet remain many untold wonders to be discovered in the unbounded realms of the imagination, especially as those realms unfold in the perilous wastelands of the Dimensions in Death.
‘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.
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.
Telesa Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Telesa-Trilogy/146318935466086?fref=ts
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.
Connect with Teri Harman
Two weeks after high school graduation, he walks into Willa’s life, the boy who gets into her blood like a fever. But Willa barely has a chance to mention Simon to Solace, her best ghost friend, before they’re swept up into kidnapping, murder, and the dangerous hidden world of witchcraft. As Willa and Simon discover their quirks are actually powerful gifts, they have to decide whether to join a True Coven and fight the darkness or simply walk (run!) away, turning their backs on who—and what—they really are.
Blood Moon by Teri Harman is book one in her Moonlight Trilogy. It’s a page turning read with a fast paced plot and characters that draw you into their world of intrigue, deception, and witchcraft like you’ve never read before. Deeply rooted in earth magic, the tendrils of witch generations reach out through time, the past affecting the future in ways unexpected and imaginative. It’s a master’s chess game of light versus dark magic that affects us all—even if the rest of world doesn’t realize it. Simon and Willa seem fated for true love, but I have to question whether it’s real or simply witchy thinking.
By the Moon, I guess I’ll have to wait until book two to find out!
Blood Moon, book one of The Moon Trilogy by Teri Harman is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books beginning June 22, 2013.
What if you had a powerful gift that was slowly killing you? What if at the moment you needed it most, it knocked you out cold? What if soldiers were hunting people with this gift and the only way to protect your family and everything you loved was to leave it behind?
Insight, book 1 of the Beholders, by Terron James is a sword and shield fantasy set in Appernysia. Seventeen year old Lon has the gift of True Sight, which in a trained Beholder’s hands allows a person to see the world’s energy and manipulate it. But Lon has never met another Beholder and doesn’t have a clue about how to use his gift. Just having it paints a target on his back for the Rayders, an invading army scouring the countryside for a True Sight Beholder. Lon soon realizes that for everyone’s sake, he has to leave his family to search for answers. It’s a journey that leads him to some remarkable revelations as he learns how harness and control his True Sight.
If it doesn’t kill him first.
Insight is an adventure quest full of battles, inner conflict, and humor. While this is mainly Lon’s story, I suspect Lon isn’t the only Beholder in the family.
Guess I’ll have to wait until book two to find out.
Insight, book one of Beholders by Terron James is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books beginning June 1, 2013.
Being a kid is complicated. There are rules, most of them unwritten, unspoken even, and heaven help you if you can’t unlock the secret code. Darrell H.Y. Lum not only has the key to the boy’s room in his collection of short stories in Pass On, No Pass Back!, he also has the contraband cigarettes.
And maybe a little something else.
The title refers to a kids’ game I remember well: somebody punches you in the arm, yells, “Pass on, no pass back!” and you have to find someone else to slam and pass it on. The playground politics in who you hit and how hard would make the UN weep. And Lum gets it.
Better yet, he helps us get it.
To anyone who grew up in Hawai‘i, Lum’s characters feel real. There’s tales of da Bag Man, karate class, scouts, toads, and mongooses from hell that still give me chicken skin. The stories are written in Hawaiian Pidgin English, a welcome sound of home for native speakers that adds another layer of authenticity to his words. Non-Pidgin speakers will have a tougher time, but it’s worth the work.
As a bonus there are also the comic strip adventures of Booly, Bullette, and Burrito by Art Kodani.
If you’re looking for authentic island writing, Pass On, No Pass Back! is fantastic.
This guest post comes from Berk Washburn, one half of the Brothers Washburn, authors of the Dimensions in Death Series. (I reviewed their book Pitch Green–you can see it here.) I asked the guys what it was like to collaborate with a brother. This was Berk’s response.
Please don’t get me wrong. My brother doesn’t need a keeper, though sometimes my wife says that I do, and if he did need a keeper, he has a bunch of sisters who would be happy to take the job. We have 7 sisters who have been trying to keep us out of trouble for a long time. We are two of 9 sons (16 children total) who grew up in the Mojave desert near Death Valley. Our father was a dentist, who built up a practice in Trona, California, a small mining town. While we were growing up, he was the only dentist in town. As the good citizens of Trona mined the minerals of Searles Valley, Dad mined their teeth.
When, in turn, Andy and I went off to college, we left the desert and never looked backed. We thought we were done with Trona forever, but couldn’t have been more wrong. For about 35 years, I was a business lawyer working for international commercial finance companies in Ohio, Michigan and Colorado. For about 25 years, Andy was a trial practice lawyer working in Southern California. While we have kept our law licenses current, we are now writing fiction full time. Though some would say that’s what we did as lawyers, this is different.
As lawyers, we were always solving other people’s problems. After we each moved to Colorado, we talked for some time about starting a business together where we only had to solve our own problems. We both have many years of formal writing experience, and we have always been story tellers, first to our siblings, then to our own children (I have 8 kids and Andy has 6 kids), and now to our grandkids (who are increasing exponentially in number). Scary stories have always been a family specialty. A few years ago, I started writing a young adult science fiction series, so when Andy also tried his hand at writing fiction, it didn’t take long for us to come together as The Brothers Washburn on a young adult horror series. The tale is of course set in Trona, California, which is the perfect setting for a horror series.
As a child, Andy loved Dr. Seuss, then later, A Collection of Short Stories, by O. Henry was a favorite. As a teenager, he was fascinated with The Illustrated Man, by Bradbury. Growing up, I was on the lookout for anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and as a teenager, I was always searching for new and interesting sci-fi writers. It is no surprise, then, that we are currently writing both a YA horror series as well as a separate YA sci-fi series. We find that once we start telling a horror or sci-fi story, the bounds of the story are limited only by our own creativity and imagination–though everything we write has to be grandchild approved.
As brothers, we get along well, and have a healthy level of mutual self-respect, so we can freely share ideas and challenge each other without worrying about egos. We are more creative when we are bouncing ideas off each other and discussing a general storyline, but we actually write separately, and then confer later on what we have been doing. Though we sometimes disagree on specific wording, there is usually some friendly give and take as we consider alternatives, and then we can agree quickly on the final wording. We both appreciate the different perspective and skills that the other brings to the joint process.
In key ways, we are different in how we approach a story. Andy used to be a planner (a habit he got from writing like an attorney), but in fiction writing, he no longer likes to plan ahead. He likes to develop his characters, and then let them take the story wherever it is going to go. On the other hand, I am definitely still a planner. I am always making lists and outlines, not only for the current story, but for future stories as well.
In addition, Andy doesn’t like having other people around him when he is writing, especially when he is creating new material. There is no real reason for this, just sometimes people bug him. In my case, I have to organize my surrounding work environment. Once everything around me is in order, then I can detach from the world and write.
If Andy hits a tough spot in the story development, it is almost always because of outside distractions. If he can get rid of the distractions around him, he can keep writing. If I hit a tough spot, I don’t try to force it. I stop, leave the house, pick up some fast food, and then I can come back refreshed and ready to move the story forward. I find that fresh ideas just come naturally when I’m eating–Chipotle is always good.
Background research is important to both of us in two areas: theoretical science and local Trona geography. This series is an ongoing horror story based on principals of science rather than on demons, devils or magical creatures, so some understanding of the extremes of scientific theory is necessary and fun. But, Dimensions in Death is not a science fiction series with a few scary scenes. It is horror, suspense and fright in a fast pace narrative with a little science by way of explanation, sprinkled on for spice, as the truth is gradually discovered by our heroes in the story. Separately, the local geography in the story plays a critical role in setting the mood of the tale. Trona, California is a real place in this world located in a desolate region of the Mojave Desert by Death Valley, and we try to keep the series settings as real as possible.
The general outline for Pitch Green came together one evening in November of 2010. We were attending a writer’s seminar together in Manhattan and listening to panel discussions by top literary agents. As we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line stop across town to the opposite end-of-the-line stop, and then back again, we mapped out the basic elements we would need to expand a favorite childhood scary story into a full-length novel. Andy wrote the first rough draft, and then I took it over to edit and expand the tale. In the writing of the first book, the ground work was laid for both the sequels and the prequels of that series.
In Pitch Green, we meet two teenagers, Camm and Cal, who are destined by their wit, pluck and luck (not always good) to become the balancing force in this world against predators that keep showing up around an old mansion, which is apparently something more than just a mansion. Our heroes must make a stand against the mansion’s guardians, any visitors who might want to come through the mansion in search of easy prey, and the forces of the U.S. Federal Government, who are using the mansion to access unlimited natural resources. Camm is the brains, Cal is the muscle and together they make a formidable team when they decide to work together. They are joined by an FBI agent, Special Agent Linda Allen, who is smart, resourceful and not easily intimidated by those protecting the government’s secrets.
In this first book of the Dimensions in Death series, our heroes are introduced to the mansion and an other-worldly guardian while being hurled from one scene of horror to the next. They barely have time to catch their breath or scratch the surface of what is happening, and they do not understand the nature of what they are really facing. Though their intentions are good, by the end of the first book, they have left a doorway wide open and unguarded. Pitch Green is the opening act of a long and complex tale in which Camm, Cal and Agent Allen will be explorers in the dimensions in death.
Thanks for stopping by! Pitch Green is available as a hardback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and wherever fine books are sold.
Connect with The Brothers Washburn
Camm and Cal have a problem that’s stinkier than a sulfur lava vent, creepier than a naked rat tail, and hungrier than a shark. It’s a problem and puzzle they’ll have to solve before it strikes again and another child disappears.
Pitch Green, by Berk and Andy Washburn publishing as the Brothers Washburn, is the first in their young adult Dimensions in Death series. Set in the Mohave desert, Pitch Green introduces us to Trona, a small California town whose only claim to fame is a dry lakebed where chemicals are extracted and processed in the town’s factory and a huge deserted mansion that miraculously repairs and cleans itself. Seven years ago on Halloween night, Cal’s younger brother Hughie disappeared and Camm has never forgiven herself. Now high school seniors, Camm and Cal are in a race to discover one of Trona’s darkest secrets before it can kill again.
Of course, nothing is quite what it seems in Trona. There are layers to this town that I’m sure will be revealed as the series progresses. There are delicious hints of government conspiracies, mad scientists, and cover ups. There are also guns, puzzle boxes, Hebrew script, and barf-tainted kisses. Best friends and potential romantic couple Camm and Cal are intelligent, dedicated, resourceful, and brave—not lily-livered, hide your head under the sheets characters or girl/boy stereotypes—and refreshingly, the adults aren’t buffoons either.
By turns witty, funny, scary, thrilling, and chilling, it’s a horror story mystery that reminded me of a more sophisticated and modern spin on Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys. It’s fresh, fast-paced and smart. Can’t wait for book two!
Pitch Green, Book 1 in Dimensions in Death series, written by the Brothers Washburn and published by Jolly Fish Press, is available in hardback, paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.