Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview C. G. Sturges

Cassandra George Sturges is the author of “A Woman’s Soul on Paper,” “Success & Beauty is an Attitude,” “The Illusion of Beauty: Why Women Hate Themselves & Envy Other Women,” and “Why Racism is a Mental Illness.” For many years, she was an advice columnist for Today’s Black Woman Magazine and is currently a full-time psychology and sociology professor at a college in the mid-west. She is a high school dropout who graduated with her General Education Diploma and eventually earned five college degrees including two masters and a doctorate degree. In her late forties, she began making life-size fabric sculpture, cloth dolls that turned out to be the main characters in her Jungle Beauty Goddesses coming of age, modern creation Nubian Mythology fantasy fiction, sensuous, romantic series. She is the mother of two adult children, a grandmother, and for over 20-years has shared her life with her twin flame.

 

Get to Know the Author

A&RBC: Do you think the name “Jungle Beauty Goddesses” could be considered offensive to some Black people given the negative stereotypes of Blacks in Africa as being technologically inferior, subhuman, and maybe suggesting an “exotic” woman of color who is promiscuous?

 

C.S.: I submitted pictures of my Jungle Beauty Goddess Sinai doll to participate in a local Black doll show and the owner deleted the word “Jungle” from the title because she said that it was “offensive” to woke Black people. The Jungle Beauty Goddesses are all named after African deserts. In Pretty Blue Ball, Book 1, in the Jungle Beauty Goddesses series I explain what their names mean and how their father DeMatter (creator of the Universe) named the jungles in the planet after his daughters before bequeathing them planet Earth.

 

A&RBC: Pink Babies is the term you use—I am assuming in reference to White People, in Jungle Beauty Goddesses: Dirty Ball – Book 3. If so, do you think that some white people could find this term offensive and view the entire concept as reverse racism?

C.S.: If you take one person who has been given everything, he or she needs to succeed and another person who was given nothing—I think you will see two totality different personality types emerge. I am saying in my fictitious story that the people of color, black people were favored and spoiled by the blessings of the sun in a land rich with natural resources; the Pink Babies were given the left over land with few natural resources, and this made them aggressive and self-serving. If you take race out of the equation, you can see this behavioral pattern in various situations where some people have more or less resources than others.

One of the primary premises of the Jungle Beauty Goddesses series is that there should be one race of people.

“Where there is a perception of difference–, one trait will always be assumed to be inferior or superior to the other trait. If we give our beings a variety of skin colors, they will ultimately destroy themselves. They will not have evolved enough to express intelligence, wisdom, and compassion to contemplate these differences.”

A&RBC: The Protagonist, Jungle Beauty Goddess Afar, is obsessed with skin color. Her desire to be dark brown like her six sisters led her to do some atrocious acts against humanity. Where did you get the inspiration to create this character?

C.S.: When I was a little girl, I begged my father to paint me White. I was about seven-years-old at the time. My daddy cried and asked me, “Momma, why would you want to be white? Don’t you want to look like the people who love you the most in this world?” I said, “Daddy, everybody hate Black people including Black people. I ‘m tired of being teased by all the kids.” A few days prior, me, my cousin, and my 2 -3 ft. doll were in a beauty contest. My two brothers were the judges. I lost the beauty contest and was deemed the ugliest because I was slightly darker than my dark brown doll. Being a dark skinned African American woman has not been easy. You know, people telling me how pretty I would be if I wasn’t so dark or how cute I am despite of being so dark.  Learning how to love and accept myself as I am has been one of my biggest and most fulfilling challenges.

In Dirty Ball – Book 3 Jungle Beauty Goddess Afar is the lightest sister in the septuplet sib ship, says:

“Beauty is a funny thing Mada, it only feels real when it is reflected back to you from the existence of others and through the eyes of people you love, respect, and admire. I wanted to see beings who looked like me.”

A&RBC: The two primary strengths of your Jungle Beauty Goddess Series are the psychological, spiritual, and philosophical insights –and the sensuous, juicy, romantic love scenes and dialogue. These are opposing ideologies that may make it difficult to find a target audience. It reminds me of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, “Harry Potter”, and “Conversations with God” intermingled into one book. Have you thought about how difficult it may be to market a book of this nature? Who is your target reader?

C.S.: This is the question I am asked the most. I don’t have a strategy or a marketing plan with an ideal reader in mind. However, I will say this—I don’t believe this book would have been psychically downloaded and channeled to my consciousness if there was no available readership or receptive audience. Race relations, global warming, unrequited love, and destiny verses free-will are timeless stories about the human condition. A reviewer coined the Jungle Beauty Goddesses as Nubian Mythology a modern day creation story. I think this is a perfect description. I am confident that the collective human consciousness conjured the creation of the Jungle Beauty Goddesses.

A&RBC: It feels like a children’s story in the beginning. The feel of the story moves from a whimsical, lighthearted account of very young godettes with nary a care to those of creators and caretakers charged with serious moral, ethical, and overseer responsibilities. Should there have been a smoother and slower progression to adulthood for the reader (and the goddesses) to adjust to the drastic and harsh changes of deity-hood?

C.S.: My innocence was brutally snatched away from me in the seventh grade, walking home from school behind a church, down the streets from my parent’s home—by a young man in my class. Everything about me changed overnight. I was a silly, freehearted class clown, honor roll student who turned into a student who skipped classes and tried to smoke Eve Light 120 cigarettes and sipped Southern Comfort and ginger ale in a hunter green Tupperware tumbler on the way to school—each morning.

When I arrived home from school visibly disheveled and bruised, I told my parents that two high school girls tried to beat me up and take my gym shoes. This type of violence was very common in my working class neighborhood in the late 70s and early 80’s. My parents immediately believed me and I fabricated a story about why my back was scrapped and bleeding– and how I eventually fought them off me and kept my gym shoes.

The next day in school, the young man, bragged to the class about the soul-scarring incident behind the church where he place a jagged edged glass from a Sprite or 7 Up  bottle to my neck to snatch away from me—what had never be given to anyone. I told him that I was saving myself for marriage and he said, “You are black and ugly and no one is going to want it. And I hate that gap between your teeth.” This dialogue played on repeat for many years in my nightmares, and when I stared blankly off into space. People would ask, “You seem lost. What are you thinking about?” “Nothing.” I would say.

I told our seventh grade classmates that he was a vicious liar. I told myself the exact same thing—he tried—but he was unsuccessful.

My parents and neighbors noticed the dire shift in my personality and referred to me as being “fast.” The most drastic change was unnoticeable—I questioned my cultural and childhood belief about God, destiny, purpose, and forgiveness.

I didn’t tell anyone about the incident because I felt ashamed. I felt the whole thing was my fault, because I had had a crush on him, he asked me for kiss, and I followed him behind the church. It was my fault, I erroneously believed.

While away at college, I was writing a research paper about this “topic” and I remembered exactly what had happened—for the first time in years—the whole truth. I was taken from the library screaming, ”God didn’t you hear me calling you?”

The Jungle Beauty Goddesses book series in essence is a reflection of my spiritual growth and dialogue with God about my observation and experience of life here on planet Earth.

A&RBC: You say it took  a span of seven years for you to write the Jungle Beauty Goddesses Books, 1, 2, and 3. Why did you decide to begin marketing them now?

C.S.: Between August and September 2019, yellow jacket wasps bit me 4 times. The Yellow Jacket wasps built a massive nest in the wall of my bedroom. The exterminator tried to kill them on 3 occasions—each time promising me that they would never return again.  After the 3rdbite, I decided to look up the symbolism for yellow jacket wasps.

One of the primary messages, I read repeatedly about Yellow Jacket Symbolism is that you must work hard and consistently to make your supreme dream come true. And to apply your efforts to what you most want to accomplish in life. I am a hard worker and busy bee—but I have always put my childhood dreams on hold—because deep in my heart I felt unworthy… but most importantly, that if people rejected my real dreams I had nowhere else to hide.

Briefly, not following one’s “real” dream and not living up to one’s full potential, not taking action towards one’s life purpose, were the most important messages in yellow jacket symbolism.

I think God, the Universe; speak to us in the language we understand. The yellow jacket wasps never entered another room in my home. Initially, I was killing 15 to 20 wasps a day, and during the night I heard  what sounded like hundreds of them knocking about inside of my bedroom wall.

I finally said, okay, okay God, I will finish book 3, Dirty Ball, and set up a marketing plan for all 3 books—no more yellow jacket wasps, please!.

I tried to negotiate for more time, but the yellow jackets came back even more aggressively. If it had not been for the yellow jacket wasp nest in my bedroom wall—I  know without a single doubt I would have not finished book 3 or pursued marketing my Jungle Beauty Goddesses’ Books 1 and 2.

I think it is so important to take daily actions towards your “supreme dream” because it is the ultimate mission your soul signed up to accomplish in this life time. The spiritual contract of your supreme dream is connected to the supreme dream of other people on the planet who agreed to work with you. So let’s say you decided not to write your book. This will affect the editor who signed up to edit it; the publishing company that signed up to publish it;–the illustrator who signed up to illustrate it and so forth.

When we don’t follow our true dreams, I believe this leads to major illnesses, depression, and even an early departure from the planet.

A&RBC: Is Book 3, Dirty Ball, the final installment in your Jungle Beauty Goddess series?

C.S.: The entire idea for the Jungle Beauty Goddesses storyline came to me in a dream. I was told that there would be a total of 7 books in the series. I have already begun working on book 4, “Crystal Ball.” Before I settle into my writing schedule for book 4, I am going to focus my energy on marketing the first 3 books in the series. I have a feeling that book  4 is going to come rushing down like a thunderstorm. I am seeing the visions, hearing the voices. They are waiting for me to take scribe.

Preparing to write is a very spiritual journey for me. I have certain candles, incense, and rituals I follow so that I am able to receive the story that yearns to be told as opposed to the story—I want to tell. When I am connected to Source—I am so surprised about what happens next.

The most important lesson, I learned from writing, Book 1, Pretty Blue Ball is that when I try to control what happens in the plot, or the character’s dialogue, I get writer’s block. When I give in and listen—I can’t write fast enough.

I have created Tarot / oracle cards based on the personalities of the Jungle Beauty Goddesses—who each represent a chakra. There are approximately 175 oracle cards in the deck. I do Jungle Beauty Goddess readings on my Authentik Beauty YouTube channel.

The Jungle Beauty Goddesses seemed to have evolved into their own unique existence outside of their books.

 

Find the Book and the Author.

Reader’s Email address: JungleBeautyGoddess@gmail.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/33013273-cassandra-sturges

https://www.facebook.com/Authentikbeauty

 

https://www.authentikbeautymagazine.com/c-g-sturges-bio

 

https://twitter.com/georgesturges

 

https://www.instagram.com/cassandrasturges/

 

http://junglebeautygoddess.blogspot.com/

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/AuthentikBeautyBlogs

About The Books

Imagine an adult tale that blends goddesses and mermaids with a creation story that embraces the feel of a Greek myth, but with a distinctly Nubian flavor…one that posits female Goddesses in a philosophical and spiritual reflection of humanity’s evolution and influences.

Read the Excerpt Now.

Solution: We, the merbeings /mermaids/merfolks, are on the side of the Jungle Beauty Goddesses. We want to preserve the natural beauty of Earth and all of its life forms that are capable of adapting to Earth’s natural environment causing the least amount of damage to the cosmos.

We, the Mermaids, do not need to me be monitored like humans. We do not need the assistance of other worldly guides, angels, or higher order omnificent beings to exist and coexist peacefully with like-minded beings on planet Earth.

We will not use or create industrialized products or services, technology, or substances that will destroy the Earth’s natural resources. The Earth, as it is, without alterations, machines, or chemicals creates the prime and ultimate living conditions for our species.

Summary:

We are the natural evolutionary heirs to planet earth bequeathed by the hands of destiny. Planet earth is rapidly becoming an aquatic planet designed for life forms which can adapt to a water-only environment. If you sign planet Earth over to us for safekeeping—you will never have to worry about this planet being selfishly exploited for its resources. You will never have to come here again and you are free to live your life as you please.

Amazon Book Links

 

Jungle Beauty Goddesses – Pretty Blue Ball – Book 1: Pretty Blue Ball

https://www.amazon.com/Jungle-Beauty-Goddesses-Pretty-Blue-ebook/dp/B08192X6DH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jungle+Beauty+Goddesses&link_code=qs&qid=1573635406&sourceid=Mozilla-search&sr=8-1

 

Jungle Beauty Goddesses – Aquatic Ball – Book 2: Aquatic Ball

https://www.amazon.com/Jungle-Beauty-Goddesses-Aquatic-Ball-ebook/dp/B0818ZS8R9/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=jungle+Beauty+Goddesses&link_code=qs&qid=1573635579&sourceid=Mozilla-search&sr=8-3

 

Jungle Beauty Goddesses – Dirty Ball – Book 3: Dirty Ball

https://www.amazon.com/Jungle-Beauty-Goddesses-Dirty-Ball-ebook/dp/B08192Q5HZ/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=jungle+Beauty+Goddesses&link_code=qs&qid=1573635709&sourceid=Mozilla-search&sr=8-6

 

 

Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview with Renee Dugan

Stopping by Authors & Readers Book Corner  is Renee Dugan (pen name R. Dugan). Dugan is an Indiana-based YA/NA author who grew up reading fantasy books, chasing stray cats, and writing stories full of dashing heroes and evil masterminds. Now with over a decade of professional editing, administrative work, and writing every spare second under her belt, she has authored THE CHAOS CIRCUS, a horror-lite fantasy novel, and THE STARCHASER SAGA, an epic high fantasy series. Living with her husband, dog, and three not-so-stray cats in the magical Midwest, she continues to explore new worlds and spends her time in this one encouraging and helping other writers on their journey to fulfilling their dreams. Dugan shares what inspired her circus themed book, what draws her to the fantasy genre and a little about her main characters. Let’s jump into the interview.

A&RBC: What inspired you to write The Chaos Circus?

RD: I’ve honestly always wanted to write a circus-themed book, because the sort of timeless, spooky majesty of circuses, fairs, and carnivals has always intrigued me! But I could never find the right plot or characters to carry the atmospheric nuance of a circus story, so I kept putting it off and kept putting if off.

Then this one day I was out and about with my husband and brother and the hubby mentioned how he thought a certain video game he was playing should end – an idea which didn’t pan out for his game, fortunately, because it became the ending of TCC. But when I heard him talking about his theory, I immediately got the bookend shots of The Chaos Circus in my mind—I saw Tessa and Nicolai so clearly, it was like a bolt of lightning struck my brain. I spent the rest of our outing deep in my head, getting to know these two newcomers, and by the time we headed home I had the basic structure of the story in mind. I spent a month writing out all the clues by hand, compiling a playlist, prepping like crazy, and then I speed-drafted the novel in about three weeks. It was crazy!

A&RBC: Tell us about Tessa and Nicolai.

RD: Ohhhh, Tessa and Nic. I love these two so much.

Tessa is a junior reporter at a newspaper and a recent graduate from the mortal mental asylum; she is clever and quick but absolutely terrified to live in her own skin. She feels like she constantly has something to prove—mostly that she’s not insane and doesn’t need to go back to the asylum. She has no friends, no memory of her past before the accident that put her in the asylum, and no big plans for the future.

Nicolai on the other hand is brash, dapper, and very slick. He’s a Deathless facing murder charges which is a BIG problem for the treaty between the Mortal and Mirror Lands, and he’s eager to clear his name. But a lot like Tessa, despite his charm, he doesn’t really have friends or a future. He’s not happy where he is. And he doesn’t want to hang for murder, either. And when their meeting leads to Tessa losing her big anchor to her sanity, their fears and purposes collide.

These two were so fun to hang out with and explore in my head; they’re both parallels and opposites – they came from such similar roots, which makes them unique among everyone in the Circus to understand each other. But Nicolai is very much swagger and charm veneered over deep fear; Tessa is insecure but has a brash streak underneath it, so they really push each other out of their comfort zones. Tessa helps Nicolai take chances, and he helps her see everything she’s capable of. They believe in each other’s true heart and power, and that made them such a pleasure to write.

And to ship. I’m just saying, I am not immune.

A&RBC: The settings in the book where unique, how did you tackle the world building in the story?

RD: Memory, music, and Pinterest! Haha! I spent so much time browsing circus, carnival, and fair aesthetics to really get the atmosphere right, and then I sat down with my trusty notebook and some eerie music on before sunrise every day, and just dove deeper into asking myself: what’s a circus, carnival, or fair staple and how can I twist that to be a trick, a piece of someone’s nightmare?

I had some help with going that deep into the worldbuilding, too: my parents used to take my brother and me to the state fair at night when we were kids, and I still have a very strong memory of how timeless and uncanny those excursions felt; to this day they feel like a dream, or like I visited another world. So I wanted to build that atmosphere in, give readers this sense like the Chaos Circus itself was a half-remembered dream.

I also dragged my husband, brother, and one of our best friends to a pop-up carnival in the middle of the Indiana cornfields one day, which was probably my biggest “research” day. I still drive by where we saw that carnival from time to time, and it’s creepy to see the cornfields empty. You could almost never believe it was even there, which was the exact feeling I wanted the Chaos Circus itself to have.

A&RBC: I enjoyed the trials Tessa went through, what made you incorporate these in the story? Are they essential to the story?

RD: Ahhhh the trials! Those were the most fun part of the story to dream up, honestly. I knew I wanted Tessa’s interior and exterior conflicts to match up – I wanted her to be facing trials and hurdles both mentally and physically, and I wanted each one to reflect a growth step for her. So the idea of having these actual physical TRIALS to overcome just seemed like the perfect solution; each one required her to sort of unlock an aspect of herself she was afraid to face because she felt like it made her weird or she was just incapable of it. So in that sense I think the trials are absolutely crucial – Tessa as she stands in the end of the story would not have healed and grown if she hadn’t had to push herself to the absolute limits with the trials.

A&RBC: Tell us about the Immortal Deathless and the Mirror Land.

RD: Oh gosh, what to say without giving too much away! I will say I took a LOT of inspiration from fey and faerie culture for the Circus, its immortal masters, and the land where they live; I’d been talking a lot with my friends right before I started working on TCC, maybe complaining a bit about how I was feeling like faeries in YA were getting the vampire treatment – turned into muscled alpha hotties but losing a lot of their creepy, conniving charm. So when I started TCC I leaned heavily into the fae lore I’d been researching to create this gloss-over-grim feeling for the Deathless. They’re long-living and super-powerful in their own respects, and by extent they’re incredibly bored, incredibly crafty, and NOTHING they offer you comes without a price. The Mirror Lands are a reflection of the creatures living in them: whimsical and beguiling but extremely dangerous. But by contrast they’re not necessarily any worse than the stuffy, magicless Mortal Lands, either! You just have to pick which danger you’re more eager to face. 😊

A&RBC: You currently write in the fantasy genre, what draws you to it?

RD: Would it be a cop-out to say EVERYTHING? I love designing new worlds, I love dreaming up cultures and religions, designing maps and locations, overall just escaping reality to a place where I make the rules. For me as a reader, fantasy stories always create a great buffer between reality and fiction that allows me to unpack my assumptions about life without feeling like I’m being told what to think or feel; in many cases these revelations have helped shape my worldview, so as a writer I love doing that, too—presenting possibilities to a reader in a way that doesn’t make them feel like “Hey, I’m talking about this specific current-event topic and you’d better agree with my viewpoint or else!” but instead tackles real issues in a fantastical setting so the reader can both escape reality and maybe gain some new perspective when they go back to it. I hope that makes sense!

A&RBC: Will you only write fantasy or do you plan to write in other genres?

RD: Believe it or not, I have a lot of non-fantasy ideas! There’s a book swimming in my brain right now called “Marley Without the Ell” that’s a Middle Grade book about dealing with losing friendships and growing apart from the people we thought would be with us forever. But writing outside my genre is really nerve-wracking for me because I feel like in each new genre you dabble in, you have to build an audience and a reputation, and I can only do so much at once. So the short answer is: maybe! Someday! I hope so! 😊

A&RBC: You just released a new book, Darkwind, tell us about the new release and your new series.

RD:That’s a dangerous question, because I could talk about DARKWIND all day! This is really, truly the story of my heart, the first in a 7-part fantasy series called THE STARCHASER SAGA which I’ve been writing since 2017; it follows a princess named Cistine and her two friends on a quest to stop her kingdom from falling into war. But of course things aren’t going to go exactly according to plan, so the saga covers lots of court intrigue, kidnappings, war, monsters, all that fun fantasy jazz!

But STARCHASER is very much a character-focused series like TCC was a character-focused book, so my hope is less that it’ll be the Next Big Thing and more that the right people will find DARKWIND, see themselves on the pages, and be inspired to grow and accept themselves. I wrote Cistine’s story through some of the hardest, darkest times of my life and it really helped keep me sane; I’m hoping it can do the same for other people.

A&RBC: Tell us what’s next for R. Dugan.

RD: Oh gosh! Well, given the 7-part-series deal, you can bet I will be spending a lot of time working on STARCHASER BOOKS! I just finished redrafting Book 5 and started a redraft of Book 6; then I have to shift some things in 7 around, and then go through and reread the whole series again. It’s a LOT to do, so those will be a big focus for the next couple years with a new release coming up every six months; but in the meantime I’m also editing my urban fantasy series and I would love to draft something new when I catch a breath—I have a couple books rattling around in my head already, including one that has a pair of named characters and a dynamic I am ITCHING to write. So we’ll see how that goes!

A&RBC: Where can readers find you and purchase your book?

RD: Just about any online book retailer will have them—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and more! Just search THE CHAOS CIRCUS or DARKWIND and my last name, Dugan. You can also purchase signed & personalized copies of the books at my website, reneeduganwriting.com 😊

About The Book

All Tessa LaRoche wants is to be the most ordinary person on Barrow Island. After a stint in a mental asylum, she’s had quite enough of being anything else, thank you very much. But when a commission at her new reporting job forces her into the path of a not-quite-human murder suspect, Tessa finds that the unordinary is not through with her yet.

Spirited away by a devilishly charming Nicolai to the Mirror Lands— a parallel reality manipulated by the immortal Deathless— Tessa loses one of the most precious tethers to her sanity. In order to reclaim it, she must risk entering The Chaos Circus: a citywide fair where mortals trade years for prizes in vicious attractions from which the Deathless draw their power.

But there’s a catch: if Tessa can’t defeat the Deathless at their own freakish carnival games, she will lose her mind…and Nicolai will lose his life.

Forced to rely on one another despite the secrets that come between them, Tessa and Nicolai embark on a dangerous adventure through the deceptively beautiful life of the Circus, where little is as it seems—even the games, their pasts, and the strange whirlwind of memories that Tessa can no longer recall.

Purchase at Amazon.com

Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview with Lizzie Lee

Stopping Authors & Readers Book Corner today is Lizzie Lee, erotic romance author of the Colorado series. Lizzie is currently studying English Literature and has a love for all things books. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves watching movies, sketching portraits, and attempting Pinterest projects. Lizzie chats about the inspiration behind the latest book in her series, the deep topics it covers as well as lessons she has learned about publishing. Let’s jump into the interview.

A&RBC: What inspired you to write Jagged Hearts?

LL: After I released my first romance novel, The Blessing, I received a lot of questions regarding Veronica’s character. There’s a lot more to her story than what is found in The Blessing. I really wanted to give her a fleshed-out story of her own. Her character has dealt with so much and still finds a way to protect and defend the people she loves. She gives and gives, never considering how much giving can cost her. Veronica is a character I really fell in love with. Writing her has been a lot of fun and I really hope I will have the second part of her story out soon!

A&RBC: Jagged Hearts has deep topics such as loss and depression, how important were these to the story?

LL: I think it’s so important because these are such universal topics. Everyone deals with loss and the emotions that come with it. Everyone has found themselves questioning who they were. Many people—more than we probably realize—deal with depression, too. I think these topics are so important to discuss. Being able to relate to characters is so important because through them, you realize you’re not alone in your struggles. Everyone is fighting their own battles regardless of how nice their life may seem on the outside. I definitely think Veronica is one of these cases. Her life seems perfect and put together, yet she has so much darkness that she deals with on a daily basis.

A&RBC: Tell us about your characters Veronica Clark and Trevor Warren.

LL: Trevor Warren falls into an entirely new life at the beginning of The Blessing. His brother and sister-in-law have just died, leaving behind their baby for Trevor to take care of. His past is all over the place and when the story begins, he’s really in no place to be a father. However, Veronica, “Ronnie,” is there to help him along the way. She’s his neighbor with a past that is equally painful and as soon as they meet, they become friends. As the story progresses, their friendship becomes something much more.

I really love writing these characters. I especially loved writing Trevor. It was really interesting to get inside of his head and I felt that he really had a great voice. Writing really flowed easily when I was working on his character.

A&RBC: Why did you choose Colorado as the setting for Jagged Hearts?

LL: I had looked up small towns in America and came across Evergreen, Colorado. I looked at images of it and really loved the scenery and feel of the location.

A&RBC: What draws you to writing erotic romance?

LL: My friends and I were really into romance novels in high school. We would go to bookstores and find used paperbacks to read and would discuss them and laugh over the contents. Really, I always love a good romantic story. I love writing people as they fall in love while learning to love themselves, too. I can’t wait to see where writing romance takes me because I feel like there are so many stories waiting to be told. I already have a million different ideas floating around in my head—it’s so hard to focus on just one book at a time! I wish I could skip sleep so I could stay up all night every night and write.

A&RBC: Will you write in other genres? If yes, which ones?

LL: I don’t write any other genres—yet. I’ve always wanted to write horror, though. I grew up obsessed with horror novels, horror movies, and Stephen King. Hopefully one day I can achieve my dreams and write a few horror novels, too.

A&RBC: After releasing two books, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned publishing your books?

LL: Don’t rush the process. Every time I rush, I make mistakes—something always gets overlooked. Also, enjoy the adventure just as much as the destination. When writing gets tough, it’s easy to want to quit and procrastinate. It’s so important to set goals for yourself and stay on top of your project. You definitely want to control your work and not let your work control you. Truly, I can go on and on. However, I think the most important thing is just having faith in yourself and believing you can do it.

A&RBC: What’s next for Lizzie Lee?

LL: I’m finishing up my third book right now! When I’m not writing, I’m a college student. So, the process has felt really slow. I know I’ll be incredibly thankful when this book is done and I can move on to work on the book that’s been haunting me for months now.

In a few months, readers should see Tethered Souls which will be a part two to the book Jagged Hearts. After this release, Veronica’s story will be finished!

A&RBC: Will there be more books in the Colorado series?

LL: I have a few more books planned with characters that were in the first three. However, I have a standalone novel I’m really wanting to get out first. I can’t stop thinking about it and I know I won’t be satisfied until it’s published, too!

A&RBC: Where can readers find you and purchase the series?

LL: My books are available on Amazon! I’m also really active on Facebook and Instagram. Please give me a follow and message me!

https://www.facebook.com/lizzieleeauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/lizzieleeauthor/

About The Book

“Whenever I had found a sliver of happiness in the past, it had only lasted a short while. It had washed over me like ocean waves; it had passed while I had tried to stay afloat. However, I knew this time was different. Trevor was different. He wasn’t just a wave. He was the entire ocean.”

Veronica “Ronnie” Clark’s life had been far from easy. Since losing her mother as a young girl, she trudged through life with a guarded heart—afraid of loving or trusting anyone. Throwing herself into her work, she dismissed everything else … until a handsome stranger captured her attention, stealing her heart.

A tragic accident left a newborn baby orphaned, causing Trevor Warren to return to Evergreen, Colorado. Growing up as an outcast, the black sheep of his family, Trevor had always felt out of step with everyone else. His brother, Dean, had been the only person to understand him, and now that he was gone, Trevor feared he would never be able to connect with another person. With a baby to care for and a fractured heart, Trevor was drifting through life, only functioning. He feared his heart would never be repaired until he met her—a beautiful brunette with a broken smile. He had been drawn to her instantly, believing her love would smooth the edges of his jagged heart.

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Meet The Author

Meet The Author: Interview with Michael DeCamp

Stopping by Authors & Readers Book Corner today is Author Michael DeCamp. As a young married man, Michael developed his passion for reading after finding Dean Koontz’s Twilight Eyes on a grocery store shelf. Over time he discovered that whatever his imagination could invision, his keyboard could create and he starting writing. Michael starting with short stories, which lead to his full novel, Abandon Hope. He shares his inspiration about the fictional town in the book, the fantasy within the book along with his podcast. Let’s jump into the interview.

A&RBC: Abandon Hope takes place in a fictional town called Cutters Notch, Indiana, where did you get the inspiration for the town and the book?

MD: For the last two decades, I’ve worked as a Territory Manager for an industrial manufacturer. In that job, I traveled through a lot of small, southern Indiana towns. So, the description of the town is really a mash up of all of the tiny towns I’ve seen over the years. The name of the town was inspired by a movie. A few years ago, I saw the movie “Breaking Away” at the Franklin Artcraft Theater in Franklin, Indiana. It is about the iconic Little 500 bicycle race held every year at IU in Bloomington. In the movie, the team that was made up of the local town boys was named the Cutters after the nickname for the men who worked in the local limestone mines. Those men would cut the slabs of limestone out of the walls of the mines. So, I envisioned a little town in that area where they had cut a notch out of one of the rolling hills, thus taking the name “Cutters Notch.”

A&RBC: The story has several trigger warnings, how important were these to the story?

MD: Interesting question. To be honest, I had to look up what a trigger warning was, so the ones that are there in my book weren’t put there on purpose as trigger warnings per se. I think they were just part of the elements of building a suspenseful story. In one of the definitions that I read, some professionals were saying that trigger warnings, which are intended to ease anxiety in folks who have experienced trauma, can have the reverse effect of actually building and enhancing anxiety in advance of reading the material. Isn’t that exactly what happens in a good suspense story?

There are some intense subjects such as domestic abuse, a kidnapped girl and cannibalistic villains, but in the development of a thriller story, you need scary, intense situations to be in play or the story doesn’t generate the page-turning effect that you need to make the story powerful. When writing this story, I had to decide what the motivation would be for the kidnappers to do what they did. I didn’t want to go down the sexual abuse road, so I chose something more unusual and I think that maybe made the story even more intense.

A&RBC: The book takes on a fantasy element when Gavin, Gronek and Smakal were introduced into the story, tell us about them and their role in the story.

MD: Gavin, Gronek, and Smakal are actually the core of what I built the story around. In the late 1980’s, my wife and I lived in a house on the near south side of Indianapolis. She had braces as a youth and she would periodically wear her retainer to keep her teeth in alignment. She kept it in a little blue hockey-puck-looking container. Well, one night, she went to look for it and it was gone. We searched everywhere. In every drawer. Behind and under every piece of furniture. In the freezer. Behind the toilet. It was no where to be found. Weeks went by. Maybe close to two months. No sign of it. It was just gone. Then, one evening, I walked into our bedroom and there it was on the corner of our dresser. I called out to my wife saying, “Hey! You found your retainer!” She rushed into room and replied, “No, I didn’t.” I pointed at it. “Well, there it is,” I said. “I guess the dimensional bandits were done with it.” I don’t know where I got that phrase, but it stuck in my head until I developed a whole story around it. Gavin, Gronek, and Smakal—the Dimensional Bandits.

In the story, they are key in creating the spiritual bridge between our known world and the spiritual world where the spectre operates. Plus, it was just fun to imagine the details of how things operate in their Arboreal Realm and how they pass back and forth into and out of our realm—borrowing things. Details like where they get their clothes and the use of the Slumber Dust were a blast to envision.

A&RBC: Reading the book made me think of several fairytales, were there any that contributed to the story?

MD: Another interesting question. I may have unintentionally channeled a little Hansel and Gretel, but I don’t think there is a direct correlation with any specific fairytale other than that. It’s not a fairytale, but I did find some inspiration from the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I also found some inspiration regarding the style of my writing from Dean Koontz. As for fairytales, though, nothing really intentional.

A&RBC: You have a podcast named after the town, tells us about the Cutter Notch Podcast.

MD: The Cutters Notch Podcast is focused on all things creative. I stretch the boundaries of that definition (what it means to be creative) and generally have fun with the concepts. It is fairly new and I am still building new episodes—I usually add two per month. Podcasting was suggested to me as a way to promote my book, Abandon Hope, but I wanted to broaden it out so that it would remain appealing over the long term. So far, I’ve interviewed some authors, had an episode where we discussed Halloween and I read one of my scary short stories, and I’ve interviewed a couple of technical people about using social media and podcasting. In the future, I’ll have more authors. Plus, I have a comedian, a painter, and some local musicians lined up.

I have a great deal of fun with this creative process. I love the banter and the laughter as we explore different topics. I hope others find it as fun as I do. They can find links to the episodes on my website or they can just search “Cutters Notch Podcast” on any of the standard podcast suppliers.

A&RBC: Will there be more books based in the town?

MD: Yes! Right now, Abandon Hope stands as Book 1 in a trilogy. I am over two thirds finished with creating the story in Book 2. I’m supposed to have the manuscript to my publisher by May 2020. Then, I have a deadline for Book 3 of March 2021. After that, who knows? I’m having fun with expanding characters and developing the intricacies of the little community, so maybe there will be more. I already have two short stories based in Cutters Notch. I’m thinking of sharing one of them in each of my next two books as a little something extra.

A&RBC: Hope and Maggie are hiding away from Hope`s father, Kenny. I`m dying to see if he finds them. Will he appear in future novels?

MD: The troubled soul of Kenny Burton does play an intricate role in Book 2. After that, I’ll just have to see how it plays out in my imagination. We’ll see. I haven’t really seen how he ends up in Book 2, yet—although I do have a pretty good idea.

A&RBC: Did you have a writing process while working on Abandon Hope?

MD: Some writers have everything outlined and planned out before they even start typing away at a keyboard. That’s not me. Basically, I let my imagination free flow. It’s like I’m watching a movie in my head and my job is then to describe it so that others can see the same movie. Maybe that’s why Abandon Hope has so many crazy twists.

One advantage of that is if I don’t like the ending, I can just change it.

In general, I free flow the story. Then, I go back and fix inconsistencies and add detail. I’ve been told that the imagery in my book is very vivid. That occurred because of my second, third, and fourth trips through the story to add in the sights, sounds, and smells—to add color and depth.

Frankly, I’m not sure if I could write from an outline. I’d probably find it two constrictive.

A&RBC: What is next for Michael DeCamp?

MD: I have a non-fiction manuscript that is trying to find a publishing home. I’ve titled it “Lovementalism-Applying Love First Concepts.” It is a Bible study class/devotional book that utilizes personal stories to apply bible passages to our lives with regards to how we should love one another. The concept of lovementalism is that it is the counter and replacement for being judgmental. The stories truly are very personal. Most are either examples of how people showed real love to me, or stories where I blew it and didn’t show the love I needed to show.

I’m in the middle of finishing Book 2 in the Cutters Notch series. I suspect it will be on the market by late next summer. Then, on to Book 3.

On the back burner is a family drama, completely unrelated to Cutters Notch, that is based on the life of my mother. I take real events from her life and fictionalize them. I was thinking about her life a few years ago and realized there was a real story to be told there. I’ve started it, but it is on hold for now. It may be my “Great American Novel.”

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing podcasts.

A&RBC: Where can readers find you? Where can they purchase your book?

MD: Abandon Hope: Cutters Notch Book 1 can be purchased on Amazon in both Ebook and in paperback. If your readers are in the Indianapolis area, signed copies can be found at Indy Reads, Irvington vinyl & Books, Porter Books & Bread, and Red Dog Books. You can also connect with me, find the Cutters Notch Podcast, and link to Amazon for my book by visiting my website: www.abandonhopebook.com

You can find me on Facebook by searching: @abandonhopebook
Follow me on Twitter: @MikeDeCamp1
Follow me on Instagram: mdecamp1985

About The Book

Hope Spencer and her mother moved to the tiny community of Cutters Notch in forested southwestern Indiana to hide from Hope’s dangerous and abusive father.  Unaware whether he is still in prison or has been freed, they settle into a new life under new identities.  The athletic 13-year old becomes close friends with two boys in her quaint neighborhood, and when she mysteriously disappears one Saturday afternoon, they take on the task of finding her.  Racing against time, the boys join forces with their state trooper neighbor and three other very unusual allies to battle against the evil taking aim at their friend.

Will they find and rescue her or will they fall victim themselves?  Still, they are determined.  They will not Abandon Hope.

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