Twin Time

Today it is my pleasure to welcome authors Olga Werby & Christopher Werby and their Time Travel/Historical Fiction/Urban Fantasy novel, Twin Time.

Authors’ description

The portrait that hangs in Aunt Nana’s house

Alex and Sasha are twin sisters, physically identical down to their freckles. But the resemblance is only skin deep—Sasha is profoundly autistic, while Alex is not. Sasha can’t communicate and acts bizarrely, and the family revolves around her and her intense needs. Yet the aged, wealthy, and mysterious Aunt Nana seems to have a particular interest in both girls. Offering a helping hand, she encourages the family to move to San Francisco to be near her. And when the young twins discover a tunnel in Nana’s tool shed, it leads them on a journey across the world and back 100 years in time. The tunnel is a pathway to the Firebird Estate, the home of their ancestors, located in rural Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Even more remarkable, through the effect that twisting time has on cognition, Sasha is not autistic when she’s at the Firebird Estate. Now, growing up in two strikingly different times and places, the twins must face their separate destinies among the ravages of the incipient Russian Revolution. Can they save their families on both sides of the tunnel? Can they simultaneously stay true to their own hearts, to each other, and to the people they left behind? Each sister must face her own personal challenge—but only together can they discover their own future within their family’s past.

So, which child do you like best?

In my own experience, my favorite of my own books is always the one I’m writing now. Having read and enjoyed Olga Werby’s book Harvest (see my review) I was curious about how she felt about these two books of hers. So, I asked her which one was more fun for her to write: Harvest or Twin Time?

Yes, I know this is a little bit like asking someone which of their children they like best. “Both” is a good answer. But to author Werby’s credit, she had an interesting and well-thought-out response.

“Harvest” and “Twin Time” couldn’t be more different! One is a sci-fi thriller; the other is a fantastical, historical romance. I’ve spent years researching the science for “Harvest”—the scientific details in that story are all true. But the same is true for “Twin Time”. “Twin Time” is partly based on my grandmother’s childhood. She grew up in post-revolutionary Russia, in a rural village where the political change was slow to arrive. When it finally did, her family had to run in the middle of the night to stay alive. They lived through unspeakable horrors and didn’t survive unscathed. Most died. When and where we are born shapes our lives. When you read “Twin Time”, you will get to experience what it was like to live in another time and place with a different value system and different culture.

I came to America as a refugee; I grew up in Russia and those experiences shaped my life. To write about what it feels like to be there, even if at a different time and place than what I knew, was transformative. I loved doing the research, looking at illustrations and old photographs. It made me remember the fairytales of my youth.

Emotionally, “Twin Time” was more powerful for me, while “Harvest” was more intellectually stimulating. Writing these two books was a very different experience. But I wouldn’t swap my life for the life of my heroines in either of these novels—they had it rough. Spending a few years dreaming the lives of these women is very different from living those lives. I have to say, I’m a girl who likes first-class bathroom accommodations!

About Olga Werby

Olga Werby, Ed.D., has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She has a Master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. Olga has a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. She became an accidental science fiction indie writer about a decade ago, with her first book, “Suddenly Paris,” which was based on then fairly novel idea of virtual universes. Her next story, “The FATOFF Conspiracy,” was a horror story about fat, government bureaucracy, and body image. She writes about characters that rarely get represented in science fiction stories — homeless kids, refugees, handicapped, autistic individuals — the social underdogs of our world.

Her stories are based in real science, which is admittedly stretched to the very limit of possible. She has published almost a dozen fiction books to date and has won many awards for her writings. Her short fiction has been featured in several issues of “Alien Dimensions Magazine,” “600 second saga,” “Graveyard Girls,” “Kyanite Press’ Fables and Fairy Tales,” “The Carmen Online Theater Group’s Chronicles of Terror,” with many more stories freely available on her blog, Interfaces.com.

Find the Author at

http://www.interfaces.com/blog/
https://www.amazon.com/author/olgawerby
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4056895.Olga_Werby
https://www.facebook.com/OlgaWerby/
http://Pipsqueak.com
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDE3BNceupMYgvoaoAps2mg
https://www.linkedin.com/in/olgawerby

Buy Her Books at

“Twin Time”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LZM578L/

“Harvest”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R8HGKWN/
“Becoming Animals”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078P6BB6K/
“Suddenly, Paris”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014OM5158/
“The FATOFF Conspiracy”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014S0W4WO/

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Olga Werby & Christopher Werby will be awarding two signed books to a randomly drawn winner (US only) via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Boris Blackburg was observing Alex carefully, judging her emotional state and her ability to comprehend what he was telling her. She seemed very confused. He wasn’t surprised. This was the strangest assignment he had ever accepted. At first, he thought it was some silly notion of a well-to-do old woman. But as the years passed, he got to know Nadezhda well, and he liked the old woman, eccentricities and all. And as he got to know the Orlov family as well–vicariously, of course—the assignment grew more and more strange and intriguing.

Boris was also well compensated for his work. He was going to ensure Nadezhda’s wishes were followed. Alex Orlov would inherit her great-aunt’s estate and all the accompanying strangeness that came with it. He would make certain of it.

“Where did you get these?” Alex asked.

“Nadezhda, your Aunt Nana, gave these to me about eighteen years ago, shortly after you and Sasha were born.”

“I… I…” Alex seemed to want to say something, but couldn’t get it out. Boris was prepared to give her time, as long as her parents didn’t interfere with his mission by arriving too soon. At least the girl was now of age and the complications of guardianship had gone away–but he needed to complete his assignment before her parents arrived and complicated matters.

“Who’s the woman in this photo?” Alex pointed to a small black and white print of a man and a woman walking on the street. The image was very small, and it was difficult to identify the people, both of whom were wearing hats.

“Who do you think it is?” Boris asked. He knew, of course–Nadezhda had identified most of the photos for him, and there was information written on the back of most.

“I don’t know. But… it looks like… me?” Alex’s voice was small, barely audible.

Boris nodded.

Doorway to Scorn

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Dimitrius Jones and his fantasy novel, Doorway to Scorn.

Author’s description

Many in the world of Austyria dream of becoming heroes, gaining classes like Mage, Knight, and Beastmaster. With the power granted to them by the powerful Alrelics, they can level up and accomplish extraordinary feats.

The citizens of Hollo village long for a hero to save them from the malevolent Gate, which disfigures all who see or try to enter it. Lex dreams of becoming a Soldier and leaving his cursed village with his friends, Bibi and Ariel, but his class designation ceremony devolves into absolute disaster. Within days, he’s forced to embark on a journey that will change his destiny forever.

To save his friends, Lex must uncover the mysteries of this mysterious doorway, while keeping his scornful heart in check before it consumes him utterly.

How Happy is Happy Enough?

So, I’m personally struggling with the question of how happy a happily-ever-after ending has to be to satisfy readers. I suppose my even asking the question makes it clear I think there is some wiggle room, or there ought to be.  After learning more about Doorway to Scorn, I was delighted to get the chance to ask author Dimitrius Jones what he thought. I really liked his response.

As someone who’s read his fair share of romance novels, I get it. We love to ship people and see those ships weather a storyline’s challenges and persevere. We want to be rewarded for instilling hope into our favorite pairing with an ending that is adorably predictable.

We escape into these stories because we’re not sure if true love actually exists sometimes. It’s hard to reconcile a belief in soulmates when we can log onto social media and watch a divorce happen in real time at almost any moment. That’s why it’s so tantalizing to find a romance novel that will soothe our concerns with the promise of a happy ending for the featured couple, even if there’s much ground to cover beforehand.

I’m just not here for it, personally. I feel like it’s overdone.

I won’t go so far as to say I prefer depressing, tragic endings and think they should completely replace happy endings. However, I can appreciate a bittersweet ending where not every character gets the exact resolution we think they should. Real life doesn’t work either way. You don’t always get the ending to a relationship that you deserve, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a beautiful story out of it. It doesn’t mean there isn’t art to be found in a non-happy ending.

I think we could benefit from reading about relationship stories that we can better relate to versus stories where we idealize the couple. Some may say it’s boring, but I think it’s a challenge. As a writer, I’m always seeking new ways to express real life in a fictitious setting. What better way to expand my creative bandwidth than challenging myself to craft a great story without relying on tropes?

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any more happy endings. I just believe we shouldn’t fear realistic ones that don’t always make us feel fuzzy inside. It’s okay. There’s still a story there.

About the Author

Dimitrius Jones was born and raised in West Texas, much to his eternal annoyance. Despite this, he first picked up the pen at the tender age of six. His first masterpiece was a page-turner was about dolphins that used eye lasers to kill a hurricane. From there, his life took a few twists and turns, but he always found his way back to his trusty notepad.

His next few projects include a self-help book for those who suffer from low self-esteem as well as a full-length fantasy/romance novel to be released sometime in the future. Dimitrius has always, perhaps unsurprisingly, been inspired by the mystery, tragedy, and wonder of fairy tales.

His goal in life is to constantly inspire, amuse, and shed light into the corners of life we didn’t know were right in front of us.

Find Dimitrius Jones at:
Website: http://dimitriusjones.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/idimitriusjones?lang=en
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordimitriusjones/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/idimitriusjones/?hl=en

Buy Doorway to Scorn on Amazon. The book will be $0.99 during this tour!

 Yes, there is a giveaway.

Dimitrius Jones will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

“Lex. You need to run.”

Bibi’s voice is low, just above a whisper. She flips her daggers in her hands until they’re pointing away from her body, something I’ve never seen done before. They’re normally used for stabbing – usually in the most treacherous manner possible – and held with the blade facing up, not down.

“I’m not leaving you here to fight that alone.”

“Then you’re a fool. You can’t help me here, and that cursed weapon you have won’t save you. I don’t even know why you’re still holding onto it.”

“I have potions. If you get hurt, I can at least heal you.”

Bibi doesn’t respond, but I can see the muscles in her shoulders and arms tensing as the shadow man regains his composure and goes completely still. She doesn’t sound like herself. It’s as if she’s a completely different person.

The shadow man points his blade high into the sky, and a strange, smoke-like energy begins to wisp around him. Soon, he is joined by two identical shadow men, each taking a battle stance with swords of their own.

“This is not a fight I plan to win,” Bibi says, and that’s when it dawns on me. She’s trying to buy everyone else time to escape from these things.

Blackhorse Road

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Merida Johns and her women’s fiction/romance novel, Blackhorse Road.

Author’s description

Under another hand, Blackhorse Road could all too easily have been a singular romance. Johns provides more as she follows Luci down the rabbit hole and out the other side of life experience, bringing readers into a world where . . . transgression changes everything and challenges carefully-constructed foundations of belief and values. As Luci lets go of her lifesavers and navigates obstacles to happiness, her story becomes a vivid portrait of hope and self-examination which ultimately moves into unexpected territory. Novel readers seeking a tale that closely considers deception and forgiveness, love gained and lost, and family ties will welcome the multifaceted Blackhorse Road’s ability to come full circle in a satisfyingly unexpected way.

– D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

 

It’s the turbulent mid-1960s, and Luci, an eighteen-year-old Southern California girl, is on the quest for self-determination and new beginnings. Three powerful forces influence her values: the grit of her Irish great-grandmother, Lucinda McCormick; the philosophy of choice of her father, Sam; and the 1960s ideals of equity and altruism. But potent foes thwart Luci at every turn. Her budding romance with a handsome United States Air Force Academy cadet sets the stage for conflict and deception that last for two decades. When Luci discovers how her autonomy and her love affair were hijacked, she struggles with anger and bitterness. But from a surprising source, she finds a forgiveness path that restores her well-being and hope and, in the end, faith in herself.

 Writing for People Who Relish a Compelling Story

I’ve always struggled with others’ needs for me to define my target audience.

“Uh, people who like to think? Maybe people who are curious?” I told the woman in charge of placing my paperbacks in the local bookstore.

She gave me an eye roll. “I’m going put them in young adult,” she said.

Arrgghhh. So, when Merinda Johns described her book as “more than a romance novel” I was curious. Who did she see as her intended audience? I asked her and I love her response!

Yes,  Blackhorse Road is more than a romance, and there’s an unusual backstory about what propelled me to take an offramp from writing nonfiction, mostly textbooks, to authoring fiction.

After I retired from academia, I started my practice as a leadership coach and focused on helping women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential. During the past ten years, I transitioned from writing textbooks to motivational books on creating environments where people flourish through better leadership.

About three years ago, I was on a conference call with fellow life coaches, and we were discussing concepts of what makes a fulfilling life.  Bang! Like a thunderclap, I had an insight. What would it be like to help people understand the concepts of a flourishing life in a story instead of through a motivational book or text? After all, storytelling has been the most compelling form of communication for thousands of years. As far as I could recall, none of the great Profits fed up learning objectives and multiple-choice questions to their followers.  No!  They got their message across through stories.

Since I was ten-years-old, I had wanted to write fiction, but my professional career steered me in another direction.   Now, I saw an opportunity to follow the dream I had had as a child and write books that immersed readers in the human experience rather than writing about frameworks and theories.

Blackhorse Road is best characterized as women’s fiction—a story of a woman’s journey toward a fulfilled life. It is a story about how an ordinary woman tackles challenges, lives through sorrow and betrayal, struggles with self-doubt, and acts on her aspirations to achieve flourishing life.

Blackhorse Road blossoms from my imagination that is influenced by my experience, perspectives, and observations that give the story authenticity and sensitivity, helping readers connect with the characters and feel their joy, disappointment, sorrow, and happiness.

But Blackhorse Road has more—it is enriched by the backstories that set the context for the characters and events in the story—historical incidents, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and psychology that influence the values of the characters and ultimately the consequences of their actions.  As Connor, one of the characters in Blackhorse Road says, “Time and place shape a person.” It’s the intermingling of these forces that creates a complicated explosion and tension within and among the characters.

Even though Blackhorse Road fits squarely into women’s fiction, it is a story that can appeal to everyone.  This realization came from two “ah-ha” moments that I had.

The first came during a virtual launch party for Blackhorse Road when an audience member asked the beta readers if the book would be appropriate for younger readers.  What prompted that question was the beta readers’ observation about how the lines of communication between Luci (the protagonist) and her father play a critical role in the formation of Luci’s values and belief system, and her grit to achieve autonomy.

In response to the question, one of the beta readers said that she had given the book to her seventeen-year-old granddaughter so that the two of them could read it together, and another beta reader shared that she was reading the book with her fourteen-year-old daughter.  The consensus among the beta readers was that the book was appropriate for teens fifteen and older—an insight we had not discussed at the original meeting of the beta readers seven months earlier!

Okay, I said to myself.  Blackhorse Road is for women readers fifteen years and older.

But then a  second ah-ha moment came roaring through like a tornado when I received a text from a fifties-something man.  “Just finished Blackhorse Road.  WOW!  Very powerful.  Made me cry!  Great job.  Let me know when you have a book signing event in my area.”

So, in the end, while Blackhorse Road has a lot of romance in it, it is more than a romance novel. Blackhorse Road is for anyone who relishes a compelling story about how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through love gained and loss and sorrow and betrayal, and who struggle with self-doubt, and act on their aspirations to achieve flourishing lives.

About the Author

Merida Johns takes her experience as an educator, consultant, and businesswoman and writes about the human experience. In 2018 Merida took an unlikely off-ramp from writing textbooks and motivational books to authoring women’s fiction. Her stories are learning lessons where awareness and curiosity transport readers to the most unexpected places within themselves.  Merida hails from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, grew up in Southern California and has lived from coast-to-coast in the United States.  Besides writing, she enjoys fabric arts, including weaving and knitting. She makes her home in the serene Midwest countryside that gives her the inspiration and space for storytelling.

Find the Author at:
Her website:  www.MeridaJohnsAuthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeridaJohnsAuthor/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/meridajohns
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Merida-L.-Johns/e/B001IU2KBS
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/MeridaJohns
Buy Blackhorse Road on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Uncertain what to make of Luci’s stillness, Barry brought his head close to hers and asked, “What are you thinking?”

Luci held back, still gazing ahead. She turned and drilled into Barry’s blue eyes. “I guess, using an Irish term, I could say, ‘What a bunch of malarkey!’” She drew back her lips in a saucy grin and weighed his reaction.

Luci’s response was unarming but charming. Barry laughed. “No one has ever told me in such a nice way that I’m full of bullshit.”

“Well, I guess there’s that!” Luci chuckled, then turned thoughtful. “Putting the ‘BS’ aside, I’d say the story is about choices, not a lovestruck fairy tale. It’s about risks and consequences and being true to your values. It’s about living who you are and not how someone else expects you to live.”

Yikes! Get me out of here.

How did I end up on an Islamophobic hate blog?

This started out so well. I enjoy my blogging life because I keep finding people who interest, encourage and teach me. One such is Kurt Brindley, owner of a fascinating webpage called Relating to Humans. Kurt is going to make a movie from one of his short stories, and is raising money by offering space on his blog to his donors. The movie will center on the first group of navy women stationed aboard ship. I’ve written a book, c3, about obstacles faced by young women and a donation to him seemed like much better use of my meager budget than one more ad on Facebook. Plus, I’d like to see him get the movie made.  So I signed on. My guest post looks great and I was quite pleased.

guest post

Not only have 50 or so people liked the post, but one went so far as to post it again on his own blog. Wasn’t that nice.  I wrote him a note of gratitude and hit the like button all around.

Then I got up this morning and checked out his blog. Oh. My. God. Okay, I know that there are people on the internet who hold radically different opinions than my own. They are entitled. I just didn’t expect my name and the cover of my book to ever end up on one of the saddest websites I’ve ever visited. (And remember, I researched a book about hate groups on the internet so I have been to some pretty bad ones already.) This man, who goes by Old Poet 56, equates the Islam religion with the devil, has a passionate post about how President Obama is a Muslim trying to bring this country down, and, well, it goes on from there.  This is beyond crazy stuff to me. I suppose that it is merely his view of the world to him.

At the risk of sending more people his way, I am going to insert a link to his site called Truth Troubles because it doesn’t seem fair to level what is basically an accusation of paranoid hatred without giving any other reader of this post the chance to see if I am overreacting.  I welcome hearing opinions on the subject!

I agonized for awhile about what to do. Finally, late this morning I posted this comment on Kurt Brindley’s perfectly fine blog and also on Old Poet 56’s toxic blog as well. I haven’t heard a peep back anywhere.

Old Poet 56: while I initially appreciated your publicity for my book, this morning I spent some time on your blog and am compelled to tell you that I am offended by the harsh Islamophobia that I found on your website. I am approximately your age and have worked with a large variety of cultures as I spent 32 years as a geophysicist in the oil business. I have found many good, kind people among every nation, creed, age group and other demographic I encountered and I believe you do humanity a huge disservice by painting any one group with a single brush. I think it would be best if you removed any reference to my book from your site. If you read it, you would find that it treats all cultures found in Central Asia with appreciation and respect and that it presents a theme of peace well at odds with the tone of your blog.

I don’t know if he will ever take down the reblog of my guest post or not. I don’t know if there is any mechanism for me to force him to do so. I do know that I do not wish to be associated in any way with the intolerance I found on his site.

Now what do I do…